LAST WEEK! Week 15! Even if you haven’t lost weight, measurements are still worth doing! Take a moment and think back on all the healthy choices you've made. Which ones will you continue?
This final week in this weight loss challenge will be about finding your big why. Making sure you have a concrete reason for being healthy will help you continue along your health journey far beyond this 15 week challenge.
Determine Your BIG WHY: Your BIG WHY is the why behind why you are forgoing that second helping of mashed potatoes or skipping dessert. It is the reason behind you going to the gym and being mindful of what you put on your plate. It may be because you want to lose weight, but it may also be much deeper. Getting to that deeper meaning and reason for why you are striving toward your goals will help you stick to them! Envision your goals – what does it sound like, smell like, feel like to have achieved your big why? Where are you and who are you with? What are you thinking at that moment? Maybe the weight loss is really a goal to be healthier by preventing chronic disease. If so what are other measurements of success? Wouldn’t improvements in measurements, blood pressure, blood sugar, or energy all be a sign of success. Or maybe it is to get in shape to go on that backpacking trip with your spouse.
It’s easy to place excessive value on immediate rewards (that molten chocolate cake or pastry in the office) while discounting long-term goals (losing weight). Our busy, stressful lives can make wise decision-making that much more difficult. This type of visualization helps make your goals that much more real and tangible. They also help us set realistic goals for ourselves and measure our successes in different ways. If you connect to your BIG WHY during moments of temptation, you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.
Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Put your BIG WHY into writing: Put your BIG WHY into a contract with yourself. EX: “I will run a 10K by May of next year” or “I will lower my heart disease risk factors by my next medical appointment.” It is important to be as specific as you can, making sure your action step is achievable. If your action step is too big, try breaking it down into several mini goals. EX: If your goal is to run a marathon, start by having the goal to run a 5k, then a 10k, etc.
2. Create a BIG WHY amulet. Create a visual that will remind you to stay on tract. This is something that you can look on in times of weakness. Some examples would be a bracelet, watch, picture or notecard on your bathroom mirror, or anything that reminds you of your BIG WHY and helps you stick to your goals.
Come up with your IF/THEN plans:
When trying to make positive changes in lifestyle, the things that most often trips people up are the unanticipated stressors or challenges: “I would be doing just fine if X hadn’t happened.” Chances are that you are going to encounter some obstacles if you haven’t already. Planning ahead of time what you will do in these situations can be extremely helpful. They key is to develop an if/then plan for every tricky scenario you expect to encounter, then practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. For example, because of my dietary restrictions, I always bring a dish I can eat to a party or gathering so that I know that there will be at least one thing I can eat.
Here is an example for a person who used to eat out most nights, but now would like to cook dinner every night:
1.) Which new habit do you want to establish? I want to cook dinner at least 5 nights per week
2.) When, where, and how will you do it? Monday through Friday, at 6pm. In my Kitchen. By knowing in advance what I’m going to cook.
3.) What could hinder you from doing it (could be a barrier) and how can you overcome it? I might get busy at the end of the day and think “It’s too late to cook,” so I’ll just pick up takeout on the way home. Solution: I can stop at the precut veggies section in the grocery store and get fresh food that will be easier and faster to cook than my planned dinner. If I get delayed from work, then I will stop by the grocery store to pick up precut veggies, so the meal will be easier and faster to prepare. Or I will keep precut veggies in my fridge for quick access anytime I need them.
Make sure your solutions are feasible and practical and most importantly, that you are likely to do them! If not, take some time to figure out a solution that seems as easy as the takeout option, but helps you fulfill your weight loss goals. Once you have a number of if/then plans, you may want to write them out on index cards and carry them with you to review every day. That mental practice will help ensure that when the situation arises, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Week 14! We are down to 2 more weigh-ins!
Eating out can be a huge weight-sabotager!! Your average restaurant serving -- just an entree, no drinks, no appetizers, no desserts -- is virtually a whole day's calories on one plate!
A study published in JAMA by Tuft University researchers found that most typically ordered restaurant meals contain more than half the calories the person would need per day. For the study, Roberts' team analyzed 157 full meals from 33 restaurants in the Boston area. They found 73% of the meals ordered had over half of the 2,000 daily calories recommended for adults by the FDA, and 12 meals contained more than the full daily recommendation. Meals with the highest average number of calories included those from restaurants specializing in Italian (1,755 calories), American (1,494 calories) and Chinese (1,474 calories) fare. Meals with the fewest average number of calories were from Vietnamese (922 calories) and Japanese (1,027 calories) restaurants.
In another study, Canadian researchers analyzed 685 meals and 156 desserts from 19 sit-down, chain restaurants. They found the average breakfast, lunch and dinner contained 1,128 calories. In addition, the meals typically contained 151% of the daily amount of salt a person should have daily, 89% of the fat recommended per day, and 83% of daily recommended saturated and trans fats.
To illustrate this point, I often do the following exercise: I give people menus from popular restaurants such as (Bertuccis, Cheesecake Factory, Not Your Average Joes’ etc) and ask people to choose what they would like for dinner. I have seen calorie counts as high as 3,000-4,000! Then I ask people to do the same exercise again, except this time be mindful about choosing healthier options. Calories go down tremendously, but they are still much higher than recommended per meal (like 1500-2000 calories). Why is this? Restaurants add extra fat, sugar, and salt to make food taste good in addition to providing portions suitable for 2-3 people!
Thus, I recommend limiting the time you go out to eat and to cook at home as much as possible. However, this is not always reasonable as restaurant eating has become a huge part of our culture. So when you do go out, here are some tips to help you stay on track with your weight loss goals:
Tricks for Healthier Restaurant Eating:
1. Plan on it-- look at the menu in advance online or through the Myfitnesspal app. Pick out something healthy to eat or choose another restaurant entirely if eating healthy becomes a challenge.
2. Be prepared— eat a piece of fruit, some veggie sticks, or drink a glass of water before going out to eat.
3. Get those steps— walk to the restaurant, if possible, or at least park further away.
4. Be smart— refuse the bread or chips before they are set on the table.
5. Go clean--do not order dessert, alcohol, soda or appetizers in addition to your meal. If you must drink opt instead for a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka and tonic or a simple martini (without the chocolate liquor, sour green apple schnapps, or triple sec). Seltzer with a lime is a good mocktail.
6. Read between the lines--Any menu description that uses the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden fats—much of which are unhealthy fats. Other “beware of” words include: buttery, sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, Thermidor, Newburg, Parmesan, cheese sauce, scalloped, and au lait, à la mode, or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).
7. Ask how the food was prepared and don’t necessarily go by the menu. For instance, “low carb” or “lite” doesn’t necessarily meal light in calories.
8. Ask for it your way. You need to be an assertive customer by asking for changes on the menu. For instance, if an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with fries, ask for a side of veggies instead. Ask for a larger portion of the salad, for a salad instead of coleslaw, baked sweet potato instead of fried. Etc. Just assume you can have the food prepared the way you want it. I’ve have had a restaurant not cooperate.
9. Think satisfying-- order a meal with more protein and vegetables. Ask them to triple your veggies. Often a side of vegetables in a restaurant is really more like a garnish. When ordering, ask for 3-4 times the normal serving of veggies. This way you get full, not fat.
10. Order fish--Just make sure its not fried or breaded. You can order it baked, broiled, sautéed, blackened, or grilled.
11. Pack up half-- have the waiter bring a box with the meal. Better yet, ask your waiter to box up half your entrée before it even gets to the table.
12. Share it-- order one meal and share it with a friend.
13. Try double appetizers. Consider skipping the entrée and having 1-2 appetizers for your meal.
14. Go small-- serve your food onto your salad plate.
15. Order a salad before ordering anything else on the menu. BUT avoid creamy sauces/dressings, potato salad, pasta salad, bacon, or fried noodles.
16. Be slick-- get salad dressing on the side and dip your empty fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You’ll be surprised at how this tastes just right, and how little dressing you’ll use. Plus, your lettuce won’t wilt and drown in a sea of oil.
17. Drink water throughout the meal-- It will slow you down, help you enjoy the food more and help you recognize your satiety cues.
18. Skip the dessert--If the whole table is getting dessert, ask for a fruit cup or bowel of berries even if it’s not on the menu.
This is a combined post for week 12 and 13 given the holiday. We are down to 3 more weeks! Time to really buckle down. If the scale hasn’t been encouraging to you these last few weeks, remember the scale doesn’t show everything. I will be taking measurements again in 3 weeks and even if you don’t lose weight on the scale, it often shows in the measurements! If you have fallen off the bandwagon, you can always get back on…. A lot of positive change can happen in 3 weeks! Just start anew and pick any past challenge you particularly enjoyed (preferably one you did really well on) and go from there! Remember your goals to be healthier and it’s not all about the money =). I’m proud of everyone for sticking through this far!
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TASTED YOUR FOOD? I mean REALLY tasted your food. How many times have you looked down at an empty plate and wondered where all the food had gone? How often do you eat for reasons other than physical hunger? Because you are sad or anxious, happy or bored? How many times do you eat while watching TV, driving, or studying, or at your desk?
The average person makes 200 decisions about food each and every day. What to eat, how much to eat? Should I eat a second cookie? You get the picture. And we know now that willpower is an exhaustible resource (remember the willpower gap I talked about in week 4). This means that the more decisions you make, the lower your willpower is to make good decisions.
Decision fatigue = low willpower
How many of these decisions do you actually remember? Most likely not all 200 of them. When I gave a talk on this topic a while back, I strategically placed colored M&Ms in front of each person and I asked them: Who could tell me exactly how many pieces of candy they ate? I also asked if the variety or different colors make them eat more or the fact that it was right in front of them?
Science shows that it does.
What if I told you that your plate has more control over your food than you do? Many studies by Dr. Wansink from Cornell University have shown that people are relying on environmental cues to signal fullness instead of listening to their bodies. For instance, many people use visual cues from an empty plate to signify satiety. If given a larger plate, most people subconsciously put about 30% more on their plate. Depending on the food, this can be a 150 calories difference per serving! Over the course of the year, 150 calories more per day is a 15-pound weight gain (all else being equal). And this is just one meal a day using a larger plate.
However, the biggest culprit causing mindless eating is not the plate, but rather the TV. On average, Americans view over 151 hours of TV per month, or about 5 hours every day. In other words, the typical American spends more than one full day each week, or 1/7th of his life in front of the television and this isn’t counting other screen time!
In an experiment in 1969, Herbert Krugman found that in less than one minute of television viewing, the person's brainwaves switched from Beta waves– brainwaves associated with active, logical thought– to primarily Alpha waves –brainwave associated with a hypnotic state of deep relaxation and meditation.
When viewing TV, there is a continual release of natural, relaxing opiates called endorphins. These feel-good brain chemicals flow during almost any addictive, habit-forming behavior. Endorphins trigger a state of relaxation. Heart rate and breathing becomes calm, and, as time passes, neurological activity shifts lower and lower into what scientists sometimes call the “reptilian brain.” Basically, when you watch TV, you’re in a purely reactive state. You’re brain isn’t really analyzing or picking apart the data it’s receiving. It’s just absorbing. The television is just washing over you and your brain is marinating in the changes of sensory stimuli. Research indicates that most parts of the brain, including parts responsible for logical thought, tune out during television viewing.
Advertisers have known about this for a long time and they know how to take advantage of this passive, suggestible, brain state of the TV viewer. There is no need for an advertiser to use subliminal messages. The brain is already in a receptive state, ready to absorb suggestions, within just a few seconds of the television being turned on. All advertisers have to do is flash a brand across the screen, and then attempt to make the viewer associate the product with something positive.
Therefore, this TV viewing has two effects on your eating habits: (1) you crave food and (2) you’re brain does not fully register what you are eating. The result?
You end up eating far more calories than you need without fully enjoying your food. A study by Robinson found eating while distracted increased calorie consumption as much as 25% throughout the day! This is a classic form of mindless eating.
The solution to this problem is to practice mindfulness while eating. Mindfulness, or awareness of food, is the foundation that many people have been missing for overcoming food cravings, addictive eating, binge eating, emotional eating, and stress eating. During the past 20 years, studies have found that mindful eating can help you to 1) distinguish between physical and emotional hunger 2) reduce overeating and binge eating 3) lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI) 4) cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia by reduce anxious thoughts about food and your Body and 5) improve the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
For many people, eating fast means eating more. Mindful eating is meant to nudge us beyond what we’re craving so that we wake up to why we’re craving it and what factors might be stoking the habit of belly-stuffing.
Mindfulness is simply the moment-by-moment awareness of life. But it’s not always so simple. We so easily get caught up in our own thoughts and self-talk that we are scarcely aware of life as it passes us by. When we pay attention to our food -- really pay attention -- we begin to notice all sorts of wonderful aspects of food, and we become aware of how much we’re putting into our bodies. My challenge to you this week is to be more mindful!
My favorite rule for mindfulness is the Table-Plate-Chair rule.
Research has found you’ll naturally eat less AND you enjoy your food more with this strategy: Eat from a plate while seated at a table. Here’s what that looks like…
Yes! Let’s eat:
– Table + Plate + Chair
Nope! Not time to eat:
– lounging on the couch
– standing in the fridge
– clearing plates from the table
– working at the computer
– hovering in the breakroom
– passing by a candy or nut dish at a party or office
– driving in a car
Only eating meals & snacks with a table-plate-chair is powerful. Give it a try.
Other Ways to be Mindful with Food
· Turn off all electronics (TV, cell phones, iPads, smartphone, computers)
· Make meal last 30 minutes
· Use smaller utensils (baby forks/spoons)
· Use smaller plates (change from 10-12 inch to 8 inch plates)
· Use smaller bowls and glasses
· Eat with less dominant hand
· Eat with chopsticks
· Take 3 deep breaths prior to eating (eyes closed or open), improves digestion by 30%
· Take smaller bites (should be the size of the tip of pinkie finger or a dime)
· Chew your food, each bite 10-15 times
· Pay attention to hunger/fullness (use Hunger Scale)
· Keep a food log of your food choices
Homework: Choose 3 ways you will eat mindfully this week.
I like the saying, “Get Fit in the Gym, Lose Weight in the Kitchen” because it is so true.
Why is this? Well there are a few reasons. Exercise makes us hungrier, so we “compensate” by eating more. Many people use exercise as an excuse to eat more and end up eating more than they burn during the exercise. Don’t believe me? To counter the effects of one 20oz soda, you would have to walk 4.5 miles, or 1 supersize meal at a fast food restaurant you would need to run 4 miles every day for a week to burn it off! If you eat that supersized meal every day, you have to run a marathon every single day to burn it off.
*Note, for everyone tracking their food in MyFitnessPal. Do not eat the “extra” calories you get through exercise. It never works out and it is often a way people gain weight.
Another reason is that when we exercise, we may also compensate by being less active at other times. Have you ever plopped yourself down on the couch after a hard workout and no feel like moving? The more active we are at one time, the less active we may be later on.
This is why I encourage people to be more active instead of exercising. This may sound like I'm contradicting myself, but exercise and physical activity are subtly different and can mean the world of difference when trying to lose weight.
What is physical activity? Physical activity is any body movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than resting. Walking, running, dancing, swimming, yoga, mowing the lawn, picking up toys, and gardening are a few examples of physical activity.
What is exercise? Exercise is a type of physical activity that's planned and structured. Lifting weights, taking an aerobics class, and playing on a sports team are examples of exercise. You do not need to be at the gym to exercise! Exercising can be going for a 15 minute walk during your lunch break, dancing with your kids or girlfriends, or taking a dance class.
Physical Activity and Exercise are important for:
1.Better insulin sensitivity
3.Improved brain health
4.Reduces risk for chronic disease
6.Slows aging process
Although exercise is great, I like to focus on increasing physical activity. Physical activity doesn’t sound so burdensome for a lot of people. Even though exercise doesn’t have to be at a gym, it requires some sort of planning and often gives people the excuse to eat more. Physical activity on the other hand can be fun and spontaneous and doesn’t sound so hard to do if you are out of shape. It has also been shown by science that increased physical activity throughout the day is better than one long bout of exercise for your health!
Easy ways to Increase Physical Activity:
1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
2. Park further away
3. Take frequent bathroom trips
4. Take a walk during lunch
5. Play with your kids
6. Dance around the kitchen while making dinner
While it is true that you can’t over-exercise your way out of a bad diet, the right exercise (increasing physical activity) can help you lose weight, maintain weight loss, and control your appetite so you don’t overeat. Ideally you should do a minimum of 30 minutes of walking every day. Get a pedometer to track your steps. Wear it every day and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. More vigorous and sustained exercise is often needed to reverse severe obesity and diabesity (diabetes related to being overweight). Run, bike, dance, play games, jump on a trampoline, or do whatever is fun for you.
Fun Facts about Steps:
10,000 Steps Challenge:
Looking for an easy to follow physical activity or exercise plan? >>>CLICK HERE<<<
People who suffer long-term stress are more prone to obesity. Surprise, surprise. The adrenals secrete hormones – such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine – that regulate the stress response. BUT what you might be wondering is why some people are devastated by stress, while other are relatively unaffected. Or why some people thrive in high-pressure, driven work environments while other self-destruct. The reason different people respond so differently to the same stressors is that our response to stress is largely defined by perception. That perception of stress determines how we will respond and that perceived stress is what’s linked to health problems. Because of this stress response from the adrenals, the adrenals are what determine our tolerance to stress and they are also the system of our body most affected by stress.
When we think of stress we think of impossibly full schedules, driving in traffic, financial burdens, arguments with a spouse or kids, losing a job, etc. But we often don’t consider all the other stressors that burden the adrenal glands. These include blood sugar swings, gut dysfunction, food intolerances, chronic infections, environmental toxins, autoimmune problems, inflammation, etc. All of these conditions cause the adrenals to produce more stress hormones.
Other symptoms of adrenal stress include:
When stress becomes chronic and prolonged, the hypothalamus is activated and triggers the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day - high in the mornings when you wake up (this is what helps you get out of bed and start your day), and gradually taper off throughout the day (so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep).
Research shows that chronic stress can not only increase absolute cortisol levels, but more importantly it disrupts your natural cortisol rhythm. And it’s this disrupted cortisol rhythm that wreaks oh so much havoc on your body.
Among other effects, it:
Higher levels of cortisol over several months is associated with people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight. People tend to report overeating and 'comfort eating' foods high in fat, sugar and calories in times of stress, and the stress hormone cortisol plays an important role in metabolism and determining where fat is stored (primarily around the belly – or visceral fat). Visceral fat is very metabolically active and increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and early death. Yikes!
But this would be all so very bad news if there wasn't anything you could do about it, but oh there is...
How to reduce the impact of stress?
One way is to reduce the amount of stress you experience. This method of stress reduction is preferred, but this might not always be possible.
Some how tos:
The second step in reducing the stress experienced is to address any physiological problems that are taxing your adrenals (the medical stuff).
We may not be able to avoid stress, BUT we can influence how we perceive the stress, thus changing how it affects us.
4 key factors that determine how we perceive and, thus, respond to stress: (Think NUTS)
1) The Novelty of the event
2) The Unpredictable nature of the event
3) A perceived Threat to our body or ego
4) A Sense of loss of control
Some how tos:
If you’re not doing some form of regular stress management, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with diet, exercise and supplements. Stress management is absolutely crucial to optimal health and longevity.
Hack Your Happiness in 24 Hours
We all need some MOOD BOOSTERS to get us through stressful situations and stressful seasons! Here's 24-hours of researched happiness hacks to help lower your stress…
6:30-6:35a: Stretch. Take 5 mins to practice yoga poses. Research shows yoga keeps you more resilient to stressful conditions. Yoga, meditation or simply breathing can be a great way to relieve tension.
7:00a: Add a green juice to your AM routine. Researchers found that a higher intake of produce resulted in a greater sense of happiness.
9:00a: Bring a plant to work. Research found that the presence of potted plants reduce fatigue, stress, and improve health.
12:00p: Add a shot glass of sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) to your LUNCH. Research suggests probiotic rich foods are a promising treatment for anxiety & depression.
12:30p: Activity break. Go for a 15 min walk outside. Research shows outdoor exercise lifts mood better than indoor exercise.
3:00p: Try green tea as an afternoon pick-me-up instead of coffee. Researchers found that levels of stress were 20% lower in people who drank green tea daily.
5:00p: Add Pandora's "Classical Goes Pop" station to your commute. Research suggests you’ll keep your road rage under wraps when you listen to calming music.
6:30p: Eat Sunflower Lentil Loaf for dinner. Research suggests folate in lentils boosts the happiness hormone, serotonin.
After dinner: Treat yourself to dark chocolate. Researchers found eating dark chocolate daily for 2 weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in people who rated themselves as highly stressed.
10:30p: Get a good night’s sleep. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, research shows that poor sleep increases stress. In fact, improving the quality and quantity of your sleep is the best way to manage your stress.
.Click >>>here<<< for a yoga stress management plan.
Other healthy ways to manage your stress include: meditation, self-care (massage, pedicure), journaling, reading a book, deep breathing, time with friends, getting the support you need, exercise, laughing, slowing down, relaxing, counseling, yoga, and intimacy.
Water is the most abundant component of most of your body. In fact, about 60% of your body is made up of water. Our joints require it for lubrication, nutrients need it for transport and absorption, and our organs need it for protection. Simply put, water is essential for life.
We’re consistently losing water from our bodies, primarily from urine and sweat. In Fact, 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Nearly half of Americans don't even come close to being fully hydrated. Even mild dehydration can trigger symptoms like headaches, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, irritability, and anxiety. But chronic dehydration leads to sunken eyes, shriveled skin, muscle cramps, joint aches, slower metabolism, higher blood sugar, and, on a weight related note, increased hunger. People are especially dehydrated when they wake up in the morning after a long sleep and consistent breathing.
So how much water do you need? There is the 8x8 rule, where you aim for 8, 8oz cups of water per day, but this may be low balling it for some people. According to the the Institute of Medicine about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day for Men and about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day for Women. And coffee counts! But this is just a ball park. Another metric commonly used is to drink half your body weight in oz. But, even water needs will vary from person to person and from day to day so best to look out for dehydration signs.
Signs you are dehydrated:
What can water do for you?
But back to the weight loss portion of dehydration. It’s very difficult for the body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. So if you’re walking around feeling a gnawing sense of hunger, you might just be dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water instead of grabbing a snack.
Research has also shown that drinking a glass of water right before a meal helps you to feel more full and eat less. Many people do find that if they have water before a meal, it’s easier to eat more carefully. In one study, dieters who drank half a liter of water before meals lost 44% more weight, over a period of 12 weeks.
It is actually best to drink water cold, because then the body will use additional energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature.
Drinking water instead of other caloric beverages can dramatically boost weight loss. For one, drinking your calories doesn’t stimulate the same fullness mechanism that solid calories illicit. Thus, people who drink calories often don’t compensate by restricting other calories. Drinking more water may lead to decreased calorie intake and reduce the risk of long-term weight gain and obesity
HOT Lemon WATER = perfect morning hydration
HOW TO: Cut a lemon in half. Each morning squeeze half a lemon into 8-12 ounces almost boiling water. You can also add a few shakes of cayenne for a real wake-me-up.
5 REASONS TO JOIN THE HOT LEMON WATER CLUB:
1. Craving Buster: Sour & bitter foods reset taste buds to help you crave less sweet stuff.
2. Immune Boost: Lemon contains immune-boosting vitamin C.
3. Energy Kick: Staying well hydrated keeps energy levels naturally high.
4. Appetite Help: Water before meals decreases appetite so you naturally eat less.
5. Mental Jumpstart: Starting the day with hot lemon water gives you the feeling that you’ve already done something good for your body. It puts you mentally on track to have a healthy day and can snap you out of a less-than-healthy eating streak.
So just how much water do you need? In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you’d be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less.
How can you build more water consumption into your day? Try these tips:
Too hard to drink water? Here are some of the most hydrating foods:
>>>CLICK HERE<<< for water infused recipes!
Week 8! Keep up the great work! It’s about that time when you are looking to satisfy your sweet-tooth. Dessert is often an area where people fall off the diet bandwagon, but it doesn’t have to be!
7 Desserts that won’t leave you feeling guilty
You know that feeling. The feeling of bliss over-shadowed by the guilt of calculating just how far you need to run to negate the effects of that rich, sinful chocolate dessert. Was it worth it?
From a nutritional prospective, you want to consume foods that have the most nutrients for your buck. Or in other terms, you want the highest amount of vitamins and minerals per calorie.
But what about desserts? Where do they fit in?
Desserts do not typically have nutritional value. I like to call many traditional desserts, which have lots of added sugar and white flour, “empty calories.” In fact, these desserts do not just have empty calories, but harmful calories. For example, sugar can suppress the immune system and send your blood sugar skyrocketing.
But what if we could change that? What if I told you that you could indulge, guilt-free, on several desserts without that little voice inside your head counting calories?
I want to share 7 easy recipes that put the nutrients back into desserts without sacrificing the taste. Each one of these desserts has redemptive qualities by substituting nutrient-poor ingredients with nutrient-rich ingredients from whole foods. In addition, these recipes will have:
Within this blog post and others to come, I will show you how to substitute white, wheat flour for sweet potatoes or black beans, table sugar for fresh or dried fruit, and butter for healthy oils, along with many more quick and easy substitutions that won’t hurt the taste. These nutrient-rich ingredients have health benefits worth indulging on.
Note: As with anything, eat these desserts in moderation. They still have calories and can lead to weight gain if eaten in excess. Think of these desserts as a safe substitute for an occasional treat.
1. Double Chocolate Brownies
Dairy and Gluten Free!
This is by far my favorite brownie recipe. It’s so moist and chocolatey. Palm sugar doesn’t raise blood sugar as high as regular sugar does and gives this dessert a rich flavor. The unsweetened cocoa powder is a superfood, full of antioxidants. The nuts make these brownies dense and filling, while preventing blood sugar spikes.
• 1 cup almond flour
• 1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
• 2 eggs
• 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), about ½ cup
• 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
• 1⁄4 cup coconut oil, melted
• 1⁄4 cup palm sugar
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1⁄4 cup dark chocolate chips
• 1⁄4 tsp almond extract (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease with coconut oil, and line an 8x8 baking dish with 2 overlapping sheets of parchment paper.
2. In a double boiler,or a bowl placed over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring often. Once 3⁄4 melted, remove from heat, and continue to stir. Once the chocolate is melted, add the coconut oil and stir until melted.
3. Mix together eggs,sugar,vanilla, and almond extract (if using). Once mixed well, add the almond flour and cocoa powder.
4. Slowly add the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips.
5. Bake at 350F for 20–25 minutes until just set. Cool in pan before cutting.
2. Berry Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Dairy, Gluten, Egg free
This is a very simple and easy recipe. It tastes just like chocolate pudding and you don’t taste the avocado! It’s loaded with healthy fats that will keep you satisfied while curbs your chocolate craving at the same time.
1. Halve and scoop flesh of avocados into a food processor or blender.
2. Add the almond milk, cacao powder, chia powder, sweetener and
almond extract. Mix until smooth (about 1 minute).
3. Taste and adjust with extra sweetener if needed.
4. Scoop the avocado chocolate mousse into pretty glasses or ramekins (Or use a piping bag). Add fruit if desired.
5. Refrigerate the avocado chocolate mousse for at least 30 minutes before
serving. Garnish with berries and mint.
Recipe adapted from As Easy As Apple Pie: http://aseasyasapplepie.com/avocadochocolate-mousse/
3. Fudgy Black Bean Brownies
Makes 16 Servings
Dairy, Gluten, Nut free
This recipe uses black beans, which count as either a serving of vegetables or a serving of protein. Choose these brownies for a tasty alternative with extra fiber. You can’t tell the difference!
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy (a Nutribullet works just as well). Add the eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth. Add one-half of the chocolate chips and pulse a few times until the chips mix with the batter.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing into 2-inch squares. (For easy removal and uniformed brownies, try using a cupcake pan with cupcake baking cups.)
Nutrition Information per serving: 120 calories, 5g fat (0.3g omega-3), 95mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein
Recipe adapted from: http://mealmakeovermoms.com
4. Apple banana chocolate chip cookies
Makes 12 Servings
Dairy, Gluten, and Egg free
This recipe uses apples and bananas instead of flour for added fiber and a sweeter taste. Kids love these.
1.Blend apple, bananas, sugar, water, nut milk, cinnamon, and vanilla until smooth.
2.Mix in oatmeal and chocolate chips.
3.Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
Nutrition Information per serving: 114 calories, 2.7g fat (0.4g omega-3), 5 mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 2g protein
5. No Bake Carrot Cake
Makes 12 servings
Dairy, Gluten, and Egg free
These tasty bites have no added sugar, but the raisons and dates
sweeten the recipe naturally. Try these at your next party – always
1.Blend the oats and carrots in a food processor for about 10 seconds. Then, add the rest of the ingredients except for the reserved oatmeal and raisins. Blend for another 20 seconds until well-mixed. Don’t over blend!
2.Remove the dough and stir in the reserved oats and raisins by hand.
3.Form into bite-size balls. If needed, refrigerate dough to make less sticky and easier to work with. Store in refrigerator. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information per serving: 67 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated, 0g trans), 3.2mg sodium, 14.8g carbohydrate, 1.4g fiber, 1g protein
6. Protein bites
Makes 20 servings
Dairy, Gluten, and Egg free
For the peanut butter lovers out there, these little bites have high protein and will leave you feeling satisfied, curbing your appetite with the protein and fiber.
• 1 cup quick cooking oats
• ½-cup flaxseed
• 1 cup peanut butter
• ⅓-cup honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½-cup coconut
• ½-cup pecan pieces
1.Combine all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
2.Chill in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes.
3.Roll into bite-sized balls and enjoy!
Nutrition Information per serving: 156 calories, 10.5g fat (1.8g saturated, 0g trans), 48.6mg sodium, 11.3g carbohydrate, 2.5g fiber, 4.7g protein
7. Frozen fruit sorbet
Makes 2 servings
Dairy, Gluten, and Egg free
This is a favorite. A refreshing treat for that balmy, hot summer afternoon and an easy way to consume a serving of dairy and fruit.
1.Blend ingredients in blender.
2.Freeze until hard.
Nutrition Information per serving: 65 calories, 1.2g fat (1.2g saturated, 0g trans), 11.1mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 0.8g fiber, 0.5g protein
That’s it! You can use any frozen fruit you want. I don’t add any more sugar, but you could add a drizzle of maple syrup or honey or extra fruit on top if you want.
For frozen yogurt, just use a yogurt flavor of your choice (I think vanilla or plain would work best) and blend with your choice of frozen fruit.
For coconut ice cream (vegan), pour coconut milk into ice cube trays and freeze. Then blend about half the tray of the coconut milk cubes with fruit OR 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder and a small handful of raw almonds.
1) Substitute an unhealthy treat or a dessert with a healthy one this week!
Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend and using some of those cookout tips from last week! The Biggest Loser Change is on to week 7 and people are shedding inches! If you haven't repeated your hip and waist measurements, now is a good time to do that and see your progress! Remember, it's not all about the scale! Sometimes you lose inches without even losing pounds, especially if you are exercising!
Making Veggies (and you) Sexy
Let’s face it. There is nothing sexy about a pile of vegetables – at least that’s what many people tell me. Kids hate them; adults force them down and try not to gag. Well, some at least. We all know veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. We also know that vegetables are extremely healthy for us, are preventative for many chronic diseases, and are the foundation of every healthy diet and weight-loss plan. The American Guidelines for Americans recommend making ½ your plate non-starchy vegetables. I recommend making your plate at least half, if not ¾, non-starchy vegetables – the remaining ¼ being protein – for weight loss. What is that in terms of servings? About 10. (BUT before you stop reading, a serving = 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked). However, the last thing a busy person wants to do after working hard all day is spend hours in the kitchen making vegetables that their kids won’t even touch.
Don’t give up! Here are several tips that are sure to spice up your veggies for you and your family, while helping you stick to your spring slim down or beach body goal.
Make Nutritious Super Veggie Swaps for Popular Starches: There are many new and fun ways to sub out startches for veggies. Instead of making traditional mashed potatoes, substitute cauliflower mash (70 vs 120 calories per cup). Worried your kids might not like it? Substitute half of the potatoes for cauliflower and it’s doubtful they will notice the difference. Another favorite, even among kids, is spaghetti squash (42 calories vs 221 calories per cup for regular spaghetti!). But why stop there? Kale chipsmake a fun nutritious substitute for chips (50 vs 160 calories/cup) or collard greens/lettuce wrap for tortillas (30 vs 300 calories per 2 wraps). Although not a vegetable, pureed fruit (9 calories per 2 tbs) makes a good substitute for pancake syrup (104 calories/2 tbs). Veggie fries can be a healthier alternative to French fries and very much kid approved! Here are 5 ways to substitute vegetables for popular carbs.
Make Vegetables Fun: No one wants to eat a heap of steamed veggies dropped on a plate. So make them fun by turning an ordinary salad into a mason jar salad, substituting bland steamed or boiled vegetables for roasted vegetables, or buying or making your own “zoodles.” Spiralizing your vegetables, such as zucchini, summer squash, beets, or carrots, can be a fun, colorful, and healthier alternative to regular spaghetti. (I just made this recipe for zucchini pasta with avocado pesto & shrimp and it was sooo good!)Other ideas include ants on a log, cookie-cutter shaped vegetables, and making “Mr. Tomato Head” out of a quinoa-stuffed tomato.
Try veggies more than once in different ways: Just because your child turned up his nose once doesn’t mean you have to cross that veggie off the menu forever. Studies have shown it may take 10 or more tries before a child accepts a new food. Try cooking vegetables multiple ways, you never know what you and your kids might like.
Increase your Veggie Variety: Just because you or your kids have disliked one vegetable doesn’t mean they will hate them all. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)share to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. A CSA will not only expose you to vegetables you otherwise wouldn’t think to buy, it also supports your community. Another way is to commit to buying one new vegetable per week. You may just find your new favorite vegetable and there is no better time to start with all the spring variety!
Involve your kids in the veggie shopping and eating process: Plant a garden, or visit a farm/farmer's market and have your children pick out which veggies to eat for dinner. This instills ownership and studies show that it actually makes eating those veggies later that night more likely. Similarly, cooking the vegetables with your children also exposes them to the vegetables and makes them more willing to try them.
Need more ideas? Here are 23 ways to eat greens that aren’t salads.
With Memorial Day right around the corner and the start of many summer BBQs, it’s time to start thinking about simple superswap sides to accompany the delicious burgers we'll be grilling on the barbie along with some weight loss tips to follow.
Social eating, especially during the summer does not have to be an open invitation to return to unhealthy eating habits. Every event may seem like an excuse to splurge, but the consequence just might be the worst kind of post-party affliction: a food hangover. The best cure for a food hangover is to prevent the over indulgence in the first place. Have treats and enjoy yourself, and find that happy place of moderation.
Here are a few tips on how to take with you to your next party or cookout:
1. Use a small plate
What if I told you that your plate has more control over your food than you do? Many studies by Dr. Wansink from Cornell University have shown that people are relying on environmental cues to signal fullness instead of listening to their bodies. For example, many people use visual cues from an empty plate to signify satiety. If given a larger plate, most people subconsciously put about 30% more on their plate. Depending on the food, this can be a 150 calories difference per serving. Over the course of the year, 150 calories more per day is a 15-pound weight gain all else equal. And this is just one meal a day using a larger plate. Using a small plate reduces your calories without making your feel like you are depriving yourself.
The How TO:
• Completely fill a small plate (8-10")
• Enjoy your meal!
• Do not go back for seconds
2. Healthy Start & Wait
Filling up your first plate with fruit and veggies first does two things (1) it makes you feel healthy and carries the healthy eating momentum and (2) it fills you up so that you aren’t starving and can then make healthier choices when looking down the buffet. The second part is to wait. It takes time for your brain to tell your stomach that you ate.
The How TO:
• When you first arrive at a party, locate the fruits and vegetables
• Fill one small plate (8-10”) and enjoy as you are socializing
• Wait 30 minutes before you select any other food choices
• Follow the Rule of 3’s below
3. Rule of 3’s
The more food choices you are given, the more you tend to eat. This has been shown in many experiments and you can see this with direct observation. And just think of all the people at the last buffet you went to. Everyone wants to try a little bit of everything. Those little bites add up! By purposefully giving yourself fewer options, you will naturally eat less. And because you get to pick those options, you don’t feel deprived!
The How TO:
4. Get Moving!
If you know you are going to a party and are going to be eating more, make sure you get some exercise in. Exercising not only burns calories, but it increases your metabolism so you burn more fat even when sedentary. Exercise can also be a great way to skip the distraction to eat and nibble before dinner is ready if you go for a pre-dinner walk with a friend.
The How TO:
5. Alcohol Matching
Alcoholic beverages are very calorically dense and can raise your blood sugar quite fast, leading quickly to weight gain. By alcohol matching, you can pace yourself and save a couple hundred to thousand calories while still feeling part of the party! Also by drinking more water, you ensure that you stay well hydrated (especially if out in the sun). Dehydration can also mimic hunger so make sure you water up – more on this another week.
The How TO:
• For every drink you have, match it with a water/seltzer before you other another drink
• Set a drink limit prior to each party/social gathering
6. Party’s Over & so is the Eating!
One day of overeating isn’t the cause of your weight gain. Instead, it is the day in and day out choice to overeat or to eat foods that aren’t healthy. Instead of eating party leftovers for the next week until the next party, pack up doggy bags for all your guests and return to your regular eating patter the next day.
The How TO:
• Eating "poorly" one day is not the reason you gain weight after a holiday or social gathering
• It is important to return to you usual healthy routine at your next meal
Bonus: If you are hosting the party, here are some ideas of ways to make the BBQ more healthy!
Typical burger sides: chips, fries, creamy coleslaw salad, pasta salad, buttery corn on the cob, etc.
We. can. do. better.
I've got a roundup of the BEST burger sides for your Memorial Day Cookout. The Superswap goal is to make veggies half of most meals. These sides are an easy & tasty way to meet your veggie quota...
8 simple superswap sides for your next burger:
1. Kale Chips
This is where healthy + fun meet. These chips are not only crunchy and salty, but provide skin-glowing vitamin A & energy-enhancing iron. Click >>>HERE <<< for the recipe.
2. Veggie Dippers
AKA: The superswap name for cut-up veggies. Try cut up raw zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, snap peas, summer squash, broccoli, carrots, peppers, cauliflower, or blanched asparagus. Pair with your favorite CRAP-free salad dressing like this cashew ranch dressing.
3. Jicama Triangles w/chili powder & lime
Jicama (pronounced: hick-a-ma) is a root veggie that is 90% water, which means it’s low cal & filling. It’s a fun cracker stand-in. Light, crisp & delicious. Love!
How to: Peel 1 jicama and trim it to the shape of a square block. Using a mandoline, cut the jicama into 1/8-inch slices and cut each diagonally into triangles. In a large bowl, toss jicama with sea salt & lime. Place on a platter and top with chili powder.
4. Zucchini Wedges
How to: Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 tsp italian herb seasoning, sea salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, toss 2 zucchinis, quartered lengthwise, with 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the cheese mixture and broil for about 8 minutes, until tender & golden.
5. Crunchy Cabbage Salad
This salad drops calorie-laden mayo for vinegar.
Research suggests this superfood condiment keeps food in your stomach longer, so you'll naturally feel more satisfied. Using vinegar can help you cut 200 calories per day without thinking about it. Aim for 1 to 2 Tbs daily. Click >>>HERE<<< for the recipe.
6. Green Bean & Carrot Fries
These veggie fries have 5x fewer calories than regular fries (70 calories per cup vs 350 calories per cup). Click >>>HERE <<< for the recipe.
7. Grilled Vegetable Salad
Click >>>HERE<<< for the recipe.
8. Grilled Romaine Wedge Salad
Click >>>HERE<<< for the recipe.
Still looking for more memorial day recipes? Look no further! I have your whole menu planned out ;)
Have a happy Memorial Day everyone!!
Is Your Lack of Sleep Stunting your weight loss?
Cognitive impairment after just 18 hours without sleep is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, 0.10% after 24 hours (legally drunk). 71,000 non-fatal car accidents per year caused by tired drivers. The Guinness book of World Records no longer keeps a record for sleep deprivation because it is considered too dangerous. In the US, $63 BILLION is lost in productivity loses every year due to sleep deprivation! In fact, there is an organizational lost to insufficient sleep.
AND sleep deprivation may be the reason you’re not losing weight! (click HERE for more reasons why we need sleep)
There's lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight. The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.
Now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation (getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night) produces higher peaks of a lipid in our bloodstream known as an endocannabinoid (very similar cannabis!) that may make eating more pleasurable. So basically, our bodies produce compounds that act on the same area of the brain as marijuana (marijuana munchies anyone?). It turned out that when participants were sleep deprived, they ate about 400 more calories from snacks (that’s almost a pound a week worth of extra calories)! There have been other studies that have shown that weight loss is MUCH harder in dieters who are sleep deprived. This means that you may still not lose weight even if you are doing “everything right” in terms of restricting calories, diet and exercise.
So now that we know that sleep is SUPER IMPORTANT, let’s look at some of the things that inhibit our sleep. This biggest culprit is blue light.
Blue light is produced by our electronics (TV, iphone, ipad, etc) and it suppresses melatonin production – a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms. Instead of calming ourselves before bed, watching TV or scrolling on our iPhones before bed actually wakes us up, making it harder to fall asleep and makes our sleep less restful. SO try turning those off at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, take a bath, read a book, or talk to a significant other or friend – we need a wind-down time as much as our kids do!
Nighttime Light: It’s not only blue light, but any nighttime light expose affects our sleep. It doesn’t take prolonged or intense exposure to nighttime light in order to cause problems. Research shows even dim light can interfere with circadian function and sleep, triggering increased risks for disease. The light of a table lamp is bright enough to have a significant impact. For all you doctors and medical experts out there here are 5 Serious Medical Condition liked to Nighttime Light Exposure: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol, Caffeine, Spicy Food, and Chocolate, can keep you up at night. Try eating them earlier in the day. Limit caffeinated beverages to 1-2 cups per day and stop drinking them after noon. Similarly, for a restful sleep, any alcohol should be consumed 3 hours before bed.
There are steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of nighttime light exposure.
Avoid unnecessary and excessive exposure to evening light. This doesn’t mean you need to succumb to complete darkness at sundown. But become aware of your nighttime environment and look for ways to reduce the amount of artificial light. Taking steps to reduce and eliminate nighttime exposure to artificial light is an important step in protecting health in our modern, lights-always-on age. Some ideas: Close your curtains to block the streetlight that shines in your window and use the dimmer switches to lower levels of light throughout the house after dinner.
Block bright and blue light on screens. Increasingly, digital devices are equipped with blue-light blocking filters and timers to reduce brightness at night. There are also several apps available that perform these functions (f.lux is a good one). In addition, you can attach blue-light blocking filters directly to screens themselves, or use blue-light blocking glasses.
Power down. I recommend a Power Down Hour before bedtime. Spend the 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow away from television, phone, and other screens and electronics. Ideas: read, journal, take a bath, or talk to someone.
Get Better Bulbs. A Power Down Hour doesn’t mean you have to sit in the dark. There are now commercially available light products that will filter out the “blue spectrum” of light, which causes most of the problem, while still providing enough light for reading or other activities.
Sleep in the dark—and avoid middle-of-the-night light exposure. Take steps to ensure that you’re sleeping in the dark, including using timers on bedroom lights and devices, and covering windows to block outside light. Even a fleeting burst of exposure to light during the night can throw your circadian rhythms off track. Install dim, or specialty nightlights in bathrooms or hallways to avoid having to turn on other lights.
Get plenty of light exposure throughout the day. Light exposure during the day boosts attention and alertness, improves mood and cognitive function, strengthens circadian rhythms and can help you sleep better at night. Light can provide terrific benefits to health, when used in the right ways. Light therapy is used to treat a range of conditions, from sleep problems and jet lag to depression and dementia.
Homework: Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night this week
More Helpful Information:
For more information on sleep, check out the Sleep Doctor: https://www.thesleepdoctor.com
Other resources to help you lose weight while sleeping: Sleepy Bliss and Tuck Sleep
Checkout the below handout and infographic for other tips on improving your sleep!