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super bowl 2013 rotator

This year I am SUPER excited for the Superbowl, my home team, the San Francisco 49ers, are playing (and going to WIN!). Not only that, but I love a good football party. Sharing time with people you enjoy, delicious food, and unforgettable commercials – its always a good time.

Unfortunately, along with the fun of the party comes lots of calories and sitting (not really a winning combination).  According to an article in the USA Today, Super Bowl parties are second to Thanksgiving when it comes to the number of calories consumed.  If we are not careful, we could eat our daily intake of calories, doubled, during one super bowl game.

DO NOT FEAR!!!!

I have created a healthy, happy superbowl guide to help you. Below are my choice football party recipes and a workout to get you game day ready. You might be surprised how delicious choosing a healthier celebration feels and you’ll feel so good you’ll have ample energy for the after parties.  These resources you can prepare a game day plan that wins all around. Have fun, be safe, and GO NINERS!

Caroline’s Healthy, Happy Superbowl Guide.

SuperBowl Recipes. Plan ahead and cook up a few nutritious recipes so that you have something healthy to serve at your party. Here are a few of my favorites:

kale_3

Caroline’s Crispy Kale Chips

Ditch the Doritos and put out a bowl of these (healthy) bad boys instead. To make them, simply wash kale, dress with olive oil and a bit of sea salt, and roast in the oven until crunchy and crispy.

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  20 mins

Total time:  30 mins

Ingredients

1 large bunch of kale (I used the curly kind)

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Wash kale, remove the inner rib or stem, and tear into chip-size pieces. Make the pieces a little larger than you want the chips because they will shrink.
  • The kale must be thoroughly dried. I ran it through a salad spinner, laid it out on paper towels for 5 minutes, and then ran it through the spinner once more.
  • Put the kale pieces in a gallon plastic baggie and add the olive oil. “Massage” the kale to ensure that each piece has a coating of oil.
  • Arrange the kale in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or you can place them right on the sheet). You may need a to use more than one sheet or bake in batches.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt. Use a bit less than you think you need because the kale shrinks and the salt intensifies.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, until the kale is crisp and slightly browned.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

If the chips last more than 5 minutes (mine never do) you can store them for 2 days in an airtight container or bag. Make sure they are cooled thoroughly before storing.

sweet-potato-fries-31

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Rosemary  ( adapted from FeedMePhoebe)
Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients
1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Toss the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, rosemary, salt, and paprika until well incorporated.

3. Arrange the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, redistributing once during the cooking process, until browned and crispy. Allow to cool slightly – they will get even crisper and firmer as they come to room temperature.

Serve the fries alongside ketchup, lemon aioli, and perhaps a turkey burger, if you’re feeling frisky.

Eat-Clean-Vegetarian-Chili

Root Vegetable and Black Bean Chili (Gluten/Dairy Free from FeedMePhoebe)
Makes 10 servings

This chili is the perfect earthy blend of sweet and spicy. If you want to get even more rich flavor out of the vegetables, roast them until they are nice and caramelized and then add them to the stew. You’ll cut down on your stove-top cook time, and the extra step is worth it. If you can’t find chile negro any mild dried chili will work here.

Ingredients
2 ounces dried chile negro
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
Olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
Sea salt
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
3 28-ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 small parsnips, peeled and diced
4 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1. Place the chiles in a bowl and submerge in boiling hot water. Soak for at least 20 minutes, up to an hour. Remove the chiles from the water, reserving the liquids. Rinse off the seeds and skin and discard along with the stems. Place the cleaned chiles in a small food processor along with 1/2 cup of roughly chopped cilantro stems, the garlic, and 1/2 cup of soaking liquids. Puree until you get a fine paste, adding more liquid as necessary.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large lidded Dutch oven over a medium-high flame. Saute the onion and carrots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. You want the spices to get nice and toasted. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

3. Add the sweet potatoes, parsnips, black beans, black chile paste, and remaining soaking liquid. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, adding one or two cups of water if necessary. You want a soupy consistency, as the chili will thicken as it simmers.

Simmer, partly covered for 20 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips are tender. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes more. Ladel the chili in bowls and serve!

Brownies

Winning Brownies (Click HERE to get the recipe from the Gracious Pantry. )

What-Rules-Football

Superbowl Fitness: Caroline’s “Get in the Game WORKOUT CHALLENGE” 

Fuel your SuperBowl Sunday with POWER by getting your workout in before the first commercial. The below drills are designed to work on your strength, speed, stamina, and agility while burning calories and boosting energy. It’s a challenging series – as always, please check with a doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. And note: *You DO NOT need a football or access to a football field for these workouts. Just a positive attitude, a bottle of water, and some space! ; )

Running/Jogging Warm Up Drills. 10 minutes.

  • Easy jog 5 minutes
  • Walking Lunge. 20-30.
  • Butt kicks (kick your heel towards your butt)
  • Squat with side shuffle 1 minute
  • High Knees 1 minute
  • Plank with mountain climber knees 1 minute

“Make a Tight End”

Do 20-30 reps of each move. Work on keeping good form and strengthening your legs, core, and balance.

  • Basic Hip bridge. Laying on back bridge hips up into the air.
  • Squat with straight arms out in front of you. Focus on keeping shoulders down and core engaged.
  • Forward single leg lunge with knee raise (add hop if feeling feisty!). Do reps on one leg and switch.
  • Single leg side lateral lunge. Lunging one leg to the side keeping the other straight. Option to add a knee raise towards chest.
  • Plie squat with inner thigh slide. Squat with legs wide and toes pointed outward, bring heels together when you stand and separate legs wide to squat again.

Penalty ABS.

Perform each move for 1 minute with 15 seconds rest in-between.

  • V Ups.
  • Bicycle Crunch
  • Plank
  • Superman
  • Pushup

Cardio BURST: TOUCHDOWN 

Do each move for 1 minute with 30 seconds rest in-between.

  • Burpees. Feel free to add a pushup or squat jump!
  • “Football” run. Also known as “fast feet” : shake your booty and move feet out and in.
  • Squat hops with “touch down” arms. Squat and jump off ground reaching your arms up in the air in a “touchdown” signal.
  • Suicides. Sprint out 10-20 yards, squat and touch ground, sprint back ( you can also use distance measure like light poles, street meters)

Once through the circuit is GREAT – you can also repeat the above 2-3 times and go home with a longer workout.

This challenging all-levels circuit works the entire body, doesn’t require any equipment, and includes the perfect mix of strength and cardio exercises. It’s a winning combination – you’ll feel like such a rockstar when you’re done you might need your OWN halftime show. Leave a comment below if you  complete the above challenge and let me know how it went. Cant wait to congratulate you on your efforts!

Wishing you a safe and fun SuperBowl celebration. Now get focused, put on your game face, and get ready to “BRING IT”. Im positive you’ll have a healthy, happy Superbowl. TOUCHDOWN!

GO 49ers!

Caroline

P.S. There is still time to DONATE to CYCLE for Survival fundraiser and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center. This is my third year riding in Cycle for Survival and I truly feel the event has a tangible, powerful impact on those who are affected by rare cancers. My goal is to get as many people as possible to donate $2 dollars to 1.) Raise awareness of the cause and 2.) Raise money for rare cancer! If you would be open to lending your support, you can donate to my ride HERE. Thank you for all of your help in doing good things in the world!  

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Guiding-Hands-Art

In a world of triple-stacked hamburgers, double-stuffed cookies, and super-sized cups of soda, many of us tend to overestimate appropriate portion sizes while underestimating the amount of food we eat. It’s no surprise: over the last twenty years, we’ve seen continued growth in portion sizes to a point where we’ve entered an era of “portion distortion”. At restaurants and fast- food establishments, super-sized portions are served in order to provide “super” value to the customer. At the grocery store, companies have super-sized packaging of their products, and even at home, we’ve managed to steadily increase the size of our dinnerware. Unfortunately, all this growth has had an impact on our waistlines: we think big, we eat big, and it shows.

At the start of a New Year and the common resolution to eat healthier, I thought it a good time to address portion control. Here are my portion control guidelines to help you practice portion control and reach all of your wellness goals.

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Caroline’s Smart Size Portion Guide.

The simple skill of knowing how much to eat is an important key to weight loss and weight maintenance. Eating appropriate portions enables us to eat to a point where we are comfortably full, yet not so stuffed that we regret it later.

Research has shown Americans often underestimate how many calories they are consuming each day by as much as 25 percent. The hard truth is: you can’t escape a bad diet. The effects of poor nutrition and over generous portions will catch up with you at some point!

In order to understand appropriate portion sizes of foods, there are three things you’ll need to learn: 1) You’ll need to understand how much of a typical food constitutes a portion size, 2) you’ll need to know what that portion size looks like visually, and 3) you’ll need to learn how to apply this knowledge in your life.

The following lists include a select number of various types of food, their typical portion sizes, and everyday objects that equate to portion size. Although there are a few exceptions, most of the foods listed are whole, as there are an infinite number of processed or packaged foods. Further, since eating whole foods is always recommended over processed foods, it seems more appropriate to focus on them.

webmd_photo_of_common_objects

Portion Size Guide Of Whole Foods

Fresh Fruit* = 1 cup = woman’s fist

    • apple
    • apricots
    • blackberries
    • blueberries
    • kiwi (2 pieces)
    • orange
    • pear
    • plums (2 pieces)
    • raspberries
    • strawberries
    • tangerines (2 pieces)

*exceptions: banana, grapefruit, portion size = 1/2 fruit

Leafy Vegetables = 1 cup = Baseball

    • arugula
    • baby romaine
    • boston lettuce
    • mixed greens
    • red lettuce
    • romaine
    • spinach

Fibrous Vegetables = 1/2 cup = 1/2 Baseball

    • artichoke hearts
    • asparagus
    • broccoli
    • carrots
    • cauliflower
    • celery
    • cucumber
    • eggplant
    • green beans
    • onions
    • red cabbage
    • red peppers
    • snap peas
    • squash
    • zucchini

Breads = CD case

    • Bagel (1/4)
    • English Muffin (1/2)
    • Whole-grain bread (1 slice)

Meat = 3 ounces = deck of cards

    • beef
    • chicken breast
    • pork tenderloin
    • tofu
    • turkey breast

Fish = 3 ounces = computer mouse

    • cod
    • halibut
    • mahimahi
    • red snapper
    • salmon
    • swordfish
    • tuna

Grains, Legumes, and Starches = 1/2 cup = 1/2 baseball

    • barley (cooked)
    • beans
    • brown rice (cooked)
    • cereal
    • corn (cooked)
    • edamame
    • oats (cooked)
    • potatoes (all varieties)
    • quinoa (cooked)
    • whole grain pasta (cooked)

Dairy

    • Hard Cheese = 1.5 ounces = 4 dice or lipstick case
    • yogurt = 1/2 cup = 1/2 baseball

Fats

    • Avocado = 1/2 medium = deck of cards
    • oils = 1 teaspoon = 1 die
    • nuts – 1/4 a cup = golf ball

If you don’t already have measuring cups or spoons, it might be helpful to purchase them. You may even want to consider investing in a nutrition scale, which will allow you to weigh various foods. Spend a week measuring what you eat and comparing it to the visual cues so you can accurately understand typical portion sizes and what they look like. Display some of the everyday items in your kitchen so they are conveniently located. You may even want to take a couple of them with you when you go out to eat. Eventually, you’ll be comfortable assessing portion sizes without measuring cups, spoons, or props and will be able to do so no matter where you are.

 Serving-Size-of-Common-Foods1

Knowing proper portion sizes is only half the battle in learning the art of eating the right amount. It’s what you DO with that knowledge that really counts. Eating out and busy schedules can make portion control more challenging. Here are my suggestions on how to use your portion control smarts in the moment:

 Caroline’s Portion Control In ACTION guidelines:

  • Before Eating, Divide The Plate. Here’s a simple rule to portion a plate properly: Divide it in half. Automatically fill one side with fruits or vegetables, leaving the rest for equal parts protein and starch. This way, you begin to see what a properly balanced meal looks like. Spaghetti and meatballs? Steak and potatoes? They’re only half a meal, incomplete without fruits and vegetables.
  • Pre-Portion Tempting Treats. People tend to consume more when they have easy access to food and the bigger the package, the more food you’ll pour out of it. Measure out your food choices into a ziplock bag, bowl, or plate before you eat. Put the package or dish away and then sit down to enjoy your pre-portioned snack or meal.
  • Avoid Mindless Munching. It’s all to easy to keep eating food when it’s readily available. I call it the “see food diet”. If you can’t resist food when it’s around you, have it put away or leave the room. Turn off the television, computer, or any other distractions so that you can pay attention to what you are eating. When you are dining out, ask the server to have the bread removed from the table. In the office steer clear of your co-workers candy jar or the community food table. When you are mindful while eating its easy to avoid damaging your nutrition goals with munching.
  • Downsize The Dishes. If you’re part of the “clean plate club” and one of the 54 percent of Americans who eat until their plates polished, you’ll want to make sure your dishware is modestly sized. On a standard 8- to 10-inch dinner plate, a portion of spaghetti looks like a meal. On a 12- to 14-inch dinner plate, it looks meager, so you’re likely to dish out a bigger portion to fill the plate. Look for dishware that helps you in sticking with your healthy portion control goal. That way even if you eat until your plate is clean it wont do too much damage!
  • Limit Your Choices. The more options you have, the more options you’ll want to eat.  Look to limit your food choices to avoid the temptation to sample everything in sight.  When at a buffet or party with a large assortment of food, view all the dining options first and then fill your plate with portions of the foods that you want most. Avoid the temptation to go back for seconds once you are comfortably full.
  • If you have good food in your fridge, you’ll eat good food. You control 100 % of the food that is brought into your home. Use this power to your advantage. Stock up on foods that nourish you and if you know you can’t stop at just one potato chip, then don’t buy them at ALL.
  • Enjoy Dining Out with moderation and mindfulness. Eating appropriate portion sizes when dining out is especially challenging. Restaurant servings sizes are often enough for 4 people! To keep portions in perspective, consider ordering two appetizers instead of an entrée. If you are dining with others, you may want to split an appetizer and entrée with another person. If you order an entrée for yourself, evaluate how much of the food on the plate equates to a portion size and ask for the rest to be set aside. You can ask for a doggie bag or save the portion for another meal during the week. And always share dessert!

What is one way you practice portion control when dining out or cooking at home? It’s important to be mindful of the quantity of food you’re eating and hopefully the guidelines above will help you enjoy eating healthy, balanced portions. Eat slowly, savor your food, and enjoy your company. Heres to a year of eating well, feeling well, and being unstoppable!

Yours in Health,

Caroline

Other Things To Check Out This week:

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The National Institute of Health estimates that during the 6 weeks of Thanksgiving and New Years Day, Americans gain an average of 0.8 – 1.4 pounds. With the lingering effects of Halloween candy factored in, that range could easily be higher. According to the NIH, this eating free for all over 40 or more days accounts for the 51% of the typical American’s yearly weight gain.

 

One and a half pounds doesn’t seem a significant amount of weight to shed post holidays, but realistically the extra baggage doesn’t come off that easily. In fact, over a decade or two, at that rate of gain, an insidious 15-30 extra pounds could creep onto a person’s unsuspecting frame. Most are aware of the health challenges the holidays present, but what many people don’t know is how EASY it is to prevent weight gain with a few realistic and mindful strategies in place. With a few simple healthy alterations you can stop the holiday food hangover BEFORE damage is done.

 

Below are some of my favorite articles and resources to help you put these strategies to work and feel your best on January 1st. That way come the New Year, instead of focusing on damage control, you’ll be in a place to set new, exciting wellness goals.  I challenge you to practice prevention and mindfulness while you enjoy the season and find balance. These practical articles aim to inspire you to put a “holiday pre-hab” program in place for yourself. With topics ranging from “Seasonal Stress Reduction” to “9 Healthy Holiday Eating Strategies”, I hope you will find something useful below. If you draw just one good idea or find a healthy recipe to share, I’ll have met my objective. Please let me know if you find this post helpful or if you have any healthy holiday resources you’d like to add to the list by leaving a comment below this post.  In the meantime, if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube Fitness channel, please do so at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheCarolineinthecity?feature=mhee   . It’s the perfect solution to traveling or seasonal workouts when you are short on time. And now without further to do, here are my favorite seasonal health resources:

 

Caroline’s Healthy Holiday Handbook 2012

 Seasonal Stress Reduction:

Cooking Light and Eating Right:

Feel Good Fitness:

Inspiration/Motivation

From my little studio in San Francisco to your home, I wish you a very warm and festive holiday season (sans the extra pounds!) Looking forward to sharing this most wonderful time of year with you. Heres to a healthy, happy holiday that feels good from the inside out.

With Gratitude,

Caroline

 

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“Actually, I think all addiction starts with soda. Every junkie did soda first. But no one counts that. Maybe they should…” – Chris Rock

True story, I used to be a junkie. Diet 7Up was my soda of choice and I was addicted. A.D.D.I.C.T.E.D. I drank the stuff like it was water. Because once you start with one… the sugar in the bottle naturally makes you want MORE. My friends would caution me, “you really need to get rid of that stuff Caroline.” but I blew it off. I didn’t want to part with Diet 7Up. I wasn’t ready yet. Until the day came when I was. I was tired of spending so much money, dehydrated in need of water, and ready to give up the fake stuff. And then I did it. I beat my addiction to diet soda. I can’t tell you it was easy. But I can tell you it was worth it.

Since 1950, soft drink consumption per capita has quadrupled from about 11 gallons per year to about 50 gallons in 2003.

Sugar is a common term used to describe a variety of sweet substances. There are naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in whole fruit and dairy products (lactose). And there are “added sugars”, which aren’t naturally found in food but rather are added to foods when we cook or bake, or during the processing of packaged and industrially prepared foods.

Over the last several decades, American consumption of added sugars has climbed to an all time high, and unfortunately, research has shown that this increased consumption is significantly contributing to disease and health issues in America. High consumption of added sugars are associated with the rise of obesity and with the increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, inflammation, and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Further, regularly consuming refined sugars can cause insulin resistance and raised blood sugar levels (both of which can set the stage for type 2 diabetes), weight gain and fat storage, decreased immune system and endocrine function, constipation, moodiness, premature aging, and the list goes on.

The American Heart Association suggests that women should consume no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons) of added sugars per day, while men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) each day. This is a drastic contrast to the 22 teaspoons consumed on average today.

When we explore where we get most of our sugar, sweetened beverages are overwhelmingly the most to blame. Sweetened beverages account for over 40% of “added sugar” in the American diet. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, soft drinks alone account for 33 percent of consumed added sugars, with the sweetened fruit drinks trailing a distant second at 10 percent. It’s no surprise: one twelve-ounce can of soda contains over nine teaspoons of sugar, while the more common twenty-ounce bottle contains seventeen teaspoons!!

Other foods definitely contribute to our sugar intake as well, but not at nearly as high of a rate. Candy and cake come in a 5 percent each, ready to eat cereal compromises 4 percent of the total, and then comes table sugar and honey, cookies and brownies, and syrups and toppings.

With so many added sugars attributed to sweetened beverages, it’s safe to say that eliminating sweetened beverages from your diet can drastically reduce your daily sugar consumption and improve your health.

If giving up sweetened beverages seems painful, I’m here to tell you it will get easier after a few days. The more we feed our addiction to sugar, the more we crave it. When you break the cycle, however, your body begins to crave less sugar; and in a few weeks, you won’t miss it so much. After being clean from diet soda for years, when I taste the stuff it blows me away by how sweet it is! It brings awareness for how much I had lost sensation to sweet when I was a diet soda addict.

** A note on beverages and ARTIFICIAL sweeteners.

 Its best to avoid beverages that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, and Sucralose. These are highly processed, chemically derived, zero-calorie sweeteners that are used to intentionally reduce calories in otherwise high-calorie foods and beverages. Although artificial sweeteners may seem healthier in the short-term, many studies have shown that they can increase cravings for sugar and carbohydrates, and can potentially negatively impact your metabolism. Further, they may cause dizziness, hallucinations, and headaches, among other health issues. As a result, it is best to cut out artificial sweeteners from your diet and avoid drinks or foods that contain them (yes you Diet 7Up).

Sip smarter and reduce your intake of sugar with my “Better Beverage Check List”

Survey Your Consumption. Keep track of the sweetened beverages you consume. Note how many grams of sugar are in each beverage, and add up your total at the end of the day. Make sure to include all types of sweetened beverages, including soda, juice drinks, flavored waters such as vitamin water, Gatorade, sugar added to your coffee or tea, or anything else that has added sugar in it. If you consume beverages that have artificial sweeteners, write them down as well. Each day of the week, continue to write down how many grams of sugar you are consuming as you make attempts to cut back your intake. I find using an online food journal is an easy method of keeping track of your diet for better body / health benefits. Click here for my tips on keeping a helpful food diary.

Reduce your intake. Consuming sugar in liquid form makes it easy to ingest a ton of empty calories very quickly. Further, these beverages have little to NO nutritional value and cause large spikes in blood sugar. Reduce your sweetened beverage consumption with these tips:

  • Soft Drinks. One of the best ways to eliminate soft drinks from your diet is to substitute them with club soda and a slice of lime or lemon. For a less drastic change, you can make a mixture of three parts club soda with one part 100 percent fruit juice. Dilute the mixture with a little more club soda each day until you can drink it with just a splash of juice, or even better just a splash of lemon or lime. Also, be sure to choose club soda or seltzer that is sodium free. A second way to reduce your soda consumption is to wean yourself off of it. For example, if you normally drink a twenty-ounce bottle of soda a day, drink only sixteen ounces on day two and substitute the other four ounces with water or club soda. On day three, cut back to twelve ounces of soda and eight ounces of water or club soda. Continue to reduce your intake each day so that by the end of the week you’re consuming little to no soft drinks with added sugar or sugar substitutes.
  • Flavored Water and Other Sweetened Beverages. One of the easiest ways to reduce your sugar intake with drinks like Vitamin water, Gatorade, lemonade, sweetened iced tea, etc, is to dilute them with water. Start with a mixture of three parts of the flavored drink and one part water. Each day increase the amount of water until you are consuming little to none of the flavored drink. Ultimately, work down to plain water or sodium free club soda with lemon or lime. Read more on the myths of sports beverages (propel, vitamin water, gatorade) in this interesting Fox News article.
  • Cocktails. It is easy to overdo it on alcohol calories and often cocktails can have more sugar than an entire bag of candy. While the occasional cocktail won’t hurt you, it’s smart to read up on how to make the best choice when you are out  on the town. Click here to read my “Think Before You Drink! Conscious Cocktail Choices.” article and use these tips to enjoy your night out without too much damage.
  • Juice. Although juice contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, its high in sugar and low in fiber. This includes juice made with 100 percent fruit. Even though the sugar found in fruit juice is natural, it can still have similar impacts to your blood sugar as added sugars. Instead of a glass of juice, eat a piece of fruit. You’ll get all the healthful benefits from the fruit along with some fiber, which will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable, make you feel more satisfied, and help you reduce your overall sugar intake.
  • Coffee and Tea. Many coffee and tea drinkers add sugar to their caffeinated beverages. Unfortunately, caffeine can cause ups and downs in hydration and blood sugar, potentially fueling sugar cravings. If you sweeten your coffee or tea, try replacing sweeteners with low-fat or non-fat milk. They contain natural sugars (as opposed to added sugars) and protein, creating a more nutritionally balanced beverage. If you like iced tea, choose unsweetened green or herbal tea. You may also want to add a drop of stevia – a natural sweet herb – for sweetness. Finally, since caffeine can contribute to sugar cravings, you may want to limit consumption of caffeinated beverages and move toward decaffeinated options instead.

Drink Plenty of WATER.As we have talked about several times on the blog, drinking plenty of water is important to your health. Lack of hydration can cause us to feel hungry or even feed our sugar cravings. If you feel like you are craving a sweetened beverage, have a big glass of water and see what happens. If your craving subsides, there is a good chance you are dehydrated.

If you have already eliminated sweetened beverages from your diet, you can look to start reducing added sugars in other areas like these:

  • Minimize processed foods. Whole foods never have hidden sugars. Whole foods are those foods you can eat right from nature and don’t require any processing. Foods that are packaged or processed, however, tend to have a lot of hidden sugars. For this reason, when you are craving a sweet food, try to limit yourself to those that are naturally sweet, or more specifically whole fruit and sweet vegetables, like carrots and tomatoes.
  • Eliminate “Fat-free” and “Low-Fat” Packaged Foods. Many low-fat and fat-free versions of goods are loaded with extra sugars. If you want to indulge, its almost better to have the full-fat version which will satiate your cravings more because of the fat content, then to reduce yourself to the high-sugar, low fat option. Remember when we talked about the 80/20 rule of healthy eating? This is a good strategy here.
  • Experiment with Spices. There are many spices that provide sweetness to a dish without the extra calories of sugar. Sweeter spices to try: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, coriander, ginger, cloves, and cardamom.
  • Stop adding Sugar to meals. Just as you can add spices to recipes, you can stop adding sugar to your meals. Adding sugar on top of fruit, cereals, and other foods that are already sweet is excessive. When you stop adding the sugar for a few days, you should see a decline in your cravings for it.
  • Read Nutrition Labels. The ingredient list on product packages help you spot hidden sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup and other added sweeteners. Also, pay attention to the carbohydrate section of the Nutrition Facts panel to understand how much sugar a product has. Ideally, you want to keep the number of grams of sugar as low as possible and the number of the grams of fiber as high as possible.

Have you ever been a sugar or soda addict? What was your secret to breaking the habit? Leave your thoughts and comments below! 

I am a believer that knowledge is power. The more informed you are, the more you can make the right choices for you. I hope this post inspired you, lets TOAST to your health and a long life together 🙂

With gratitude,

Caroline

Other Things To Check Out This Week:

 

Information for this post provided by 52 Small Changes: One Year to A Happier, Healthier, You by Brett Blumenthal. Great read, check it out!

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While healthy eating is important, there are times when we all want to indulge and need a little wiggle room to do so. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and if having a piece of cake at your friends birthday party is going to bring you pleasure, then by all means you should have a piece of cake. Thats why I subscribe to the 80/20 rule. This rule reminds you that if you want to maintain a healthy body and weight, you’ll need to make wise food choices more often than not, but can make occasional allowances for certain foods or larger portion sizes without falling off track.

Depriving yourself to an extreme isn’t sustainable long term and neither is indulging 24-7. When you don’t let yourself enjoy the things you love, you end up craving them more. This is where practicing moderation comes in. Moderation allows you to enjoy some of the sweeter (or more savory) things in life without overdoing it so you don’t sabotage your efforts to maintain healthy habits. By indulging wisely and treating yourself once in a while, it makes it easier to stay on track and maintain a healthy life.

You don’t have to be perfect or make healthy choices 100% of the time to be fit, strong, happy and well. Here are my guidelines to making the 80/20 rule work in your life:

Caroline’s 80 / 20 Guide

Be Choosy. Part of indulging wisely is figuring out what is really worth the indulgence and what splurging means to you. For instance, if you have a sweet tooth but you could take or leave french frys or potato chips, save your indulgences for dessert. When you’re confronted with unhealthy foods you don’t really crave or love, either skip those or substitute healthier foods so you have room for the indulgence you really want later. Lets say you dine at a restaurant, and chips or fries come with you sandwich; ask to substitute a salad, fruit, or vegetable for the chips or fries if dessert is a more appealing treat. Even fast-casual restaurants like Panera Bread allow you to do this. Swapping out unhealthy foods for healthier choices not only gives you more room to enjoy the things that are really worth the indulgence, but it helps you to eat more nutritious foods along the way.

Plan your 20% Indulgences Ahead. Every week, go over your schedule and pick the one day  or specific moments when you want to allow yourself to enjoy the things you normally avoid. If you know you have a big event on Saturday night, that might be the perfect occasion to indulge. Or if you know you have a birthday dinner with a friend on Wednesday, you might want to enjoy treats then. Regardless of the occasion or the timing, planning indulgences ahead of time gives you something to look forward to throughout the week so it’s easier to remain healthy the rest of the time.

Plan the other 80%. Plan your week’s meals and snacks so its easier to remain healthy 80% of the time. Make sure you shop for all the required ingredients and prepare to be successful in your planned meals. Think ahead, plan to succeed, and you’ll build a healthy habit of 80% nutritious meals.

Savor Your Splurges. When it’s time to indulge, ENJOY IT. Don’t let guilt get in the way or beat yourself up for having a treat. Practice awareness when eating so you maintain a healthy level of satisfaction and don’t feel physically ill of overstuffed. Take the time to enjoy your treat away from tv, work, or other distractions. Be mindful, slow down, and savor every second.

Frequent Indulgences RX: There will always be times when opportunities to indulge are more frequent than normal: holiday seasons, vacations, and birthdays are good examples. When this occurs, the best thing you can do as always, is plan for it. Otherwise, one celebration can easily blend into another and before you know it, you’ve spent a full week or two indulging over and over. Here are some ways you can offset these occasions so they don’t overtake you attempts to maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise. During those weeks you know you’ll be indulging more than 20% of the time, spend some extra time moving. Even an additional twenty to thirty minutes during your workout can make a huge difference. Also choose to incorporate more movement into your day to day, taking the stairs and walking as much as possible.
  • Nutrition. For those time frames when indulging is more frequent, eat especially light and healthy when you aren’t celebrating. Choose to eat nourishing whole foods and many raw fibrous fruits and vegetables. Also make sure you stay hydrated. Before you indulge, drink two glasses of water to fill you up so you indulge a little bit less than you would otherwise.
  • Support Team. Communicate your health goals to others and recruit support to help keep you on track. The more open and honest you are with those that can help you the more successful you’ll be. Accountability is a highly motivating success strategy!

Falling Off The Wagon. There will be times when your healthy habits start to wane. Accept that this is natural and just a part of life. Remember that every day is a new day and a new beginning. If you find yourself spiraling into unhealthier habits on a regular basis, hit the restart button. Recruit support from friends, family, and your fitness coach. Communicate your goals and desire to get back on track. Choose to regain control and you let the small set back teach you lessons on how to move forward to be your best.

The 80/20 rule is all about knowing that we need to give ourselves some wiggle room to maintain healthy eating over our lifetime. It is easy to become unmotivated if you feel like you’ve screwed up by not eating perfectly. And so often this is used as an excuse to continue to eat poorly. That’s what is so great about the 80/20 rule: re-defining what is perfect to allow you to comfortably fit the mold!

It’s all about progress, not perfection. Work on your health, your choices, and your attitude towards yourself. Look at where you want to go, recruit support and set small realistic goals. Any small steps forward WILL add up to progress and fulfilling your vision of a healthy, balanced life.

Do you already practice the 80/20 rule in your life? What are your favorite indulgences? Here’s to enjoying the sweeter things in life and finding a happy, healthy diet balance!

Hope you have a great week. See you soon… till then keep shining 🙂

Caroline

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As a Health Coach there are two questions I get asked most often:

1. Whats the secret to 6 pack abs?  I’ve answered this inquiry in THIS POST.

and

2. Whats the best way to find a happy, healthy weight for me?

Everyone deserves to find a healthy weight that feels great. Thanks to Health Castle’s nutrition experts, here are nutritionist’s Top Ten Tips for Healthy Weight maintaince.

Healthy, Happy Weight Balance

Tip 1: Find out how many calories you need

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) / BMR [kcal]

Body Weight [lb] x 15 + (moderate activity [mins/day] x 3.5)

If you wish to lose weight, your target = BMR – 500 kcal

For instance, you weigh 140 lb and you perform 20 mins of moderate activity every day. BMR of this example = (140 x 15) + (20 x 3.5) = 2100 + 70 = 2170 kcal. BMR minus 500kcal; it would be 2170 – 500 = 1670 kcal. Therefore 1670 kcal is the target in this example to losing 1 lb per week.

Tool: Use Health Castle’s online Calories Calculator to calculate how many calories you need every day. Balance calories in with calories out and you’ll find your happy weight!

Tip 2: Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day

Fruits and vegetables are packed with beneficial fibers, vitamins and antioxidants. They fill you up, are low in calories, and help keep you feeling fabulous. Pack your diet full of produce power and fuel your body with food that feels good.

Tip 3: Watch for Portion Size

One serving of pasta means 1/2 cup of cooked pasta. However, most restaurants serve a pasta dish with 4 servings of pasta!!! Portion sizes can be deceiving and prevent you from your weight goals. Watch your sizes: use this portion size guide to keep your daily calories in check and avoid overdoing it. 

Tip 4: Do not Skip Meals

Eating small frequent meals helps to balance your calorie intake throughout the day and keeps your blood sugar level balanced. Instead of eating 3 big meals, try to eat 5 – 6 smaller meals throughout the day to keep your body fueled with energy.

Tip 5: Go for wholesome fresh foods

Purchase fresh foods and avoid highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are a real culprit of obesity, not meat or carbs. HPFs and fast foods are often higher in sodium and fat content. You can easily lose weight by packing a home-cooked lunch for work instead of eating out and incorporating more wholesome fresh foods in your diet.

Tip 6: Don’t be overly-restrictive

Everyone has his or her favorite treats. Simply allow yourself a little indulgence, but watch  the frequency and the quantity. Having a small treat in moderation can be rewarding and keep you on track with your weight loss goals. Cutting too much of your favorite treats can lead to a binge or make you feel deprived.

Tip 7: Understand Food Claims and Labels

A product labeled with a fat-free claim does not mean that it is low in calories. Similarly a product labelled as low-sugar or low-carb does not mean it is low in fat or calories. Always read the nutrition label on the packaging and know what you are eating!! Malidextrose? I think not…

Read more: Understanding Food Labelings

Tip 8: Watch for the sugary drinks

Juices, soda, cream & sugar in your coffee or tea all add up. Opt for drinking mostly water in a day. In addition to providing hydration to your body, it will also help you feel full. Many drinks, like milkshakes and cocktails, can be full of calories, some with as many as 1,000 in ONE drink!

Read more: Think Before You Drink. Conscious Cocktail Calories. 

Tip 9: Keep a food journal

Keeping a food journal helps you pin point your eating patterns and will enable you to easily modify it. If possible, have your nutritionist or health coach review your journal and help you make nutrition goals tailored to your needs. Click here to read my tips on keeping a food journal. 

Tip 10: Exercise, period

Most authorities recommend 30 – 60 minutes of physical activity a day to stay healthy. Its also important to try adding weight-bearing exercises at least 2 times a week. Strength Training will boost your metabolism and will help burn extra calories even while you’re at rest. Click here to read all the weight loss benefits of lifting weights. 

 

Simple and powerful, follow these basic tips and your weight will balance at a happy, healthy place for you. Whats your top tip for maintaining a healthy weight? Leave your weight words of wisdom as a comment below, excited to hear how you stay balanced and well.

Have a wonderful week and keep shining bright!

With Gratitude,

Caroline

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Q: WHATS UP with the SCALE? Ive been consistently working out and eating right for 3 months. I feel better and my clothes fit great! I havent weighed myself since I started with these fitness changes, so I thought Id give the scale a chance after 3 months of healthier habits. I was really sad to see that my weight on the scale hadnt changed at ALL. How is this possible?! I look and feel better, but has all my work been for NOTHING? Please explain!

A: GREAT question. Many people on their quest to a healthier self get discouraged by the number on the scale. But believe it or not, the scale is not an accurate test to your health and fitness. Before you throw in the towel and head to the couch, I want you to read the below article. Think about it… does the scale REALLY tell you how healthy you are?

 

“Why The Scale Lies “

by Renee Cloe, ACE Certified Personal Trainer  

We’ve been told over an over again that daily weighing is unnecessary, yet many of us can’t resist peeking at that number every morning. If you just can’t bring yourself to toss the scale in the trash, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the factors that influence it’s readings. From water retention to glycogen storage and changes in lean body mass, daily weight fluctuations are normal. They are not indicators of your success or failure. Once you understand how these mechanisms work, you can free yourself from the daily battle with the bathroom scale.

Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body’s water content can send scale-watchers into a tailspin if they don’t understand what’s happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it’s water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to inch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.

 

Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention. A single teaspoon of salt contains over 2,000 mg of sodium. Generally, we should only eat between 1,000 and 3,000 mg of sodium a day, so it’s easy to go overboard. Sodium is a sneaky substance. You would expect it to be most highly concentrated in salty chips, nuts, and crackers. However, a food doesn’t have to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. A half cup of instant pudding actually contains nearly four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted nuts, 460 mg in the pudding versus 123 mg in the nuts. The more highly processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high sodium content. That’s why, when it comes to eating, it’s wise to stick mainly to the basics: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans, and whole grains. Be sure to read the labels on canned foods, boxed mixes, and frozen dinners.

Women may also retain several pounds of water prior to menstruation. This is very common and the weight will likely disappear as quickly as it arrives. Pre-menstrual water-weight gain can be minimized by drinking plenty of water, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping high-sodium processed foods to a minimum.

Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it’s packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it’s stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates. As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it’s associated water. It’s normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level. These fluctuations have nothing to do with fat loss, although they can make for some unnecessarily dramatic weigh-ins if you’re prone to obsessing over the number on the scale.

Otherwise rational people also tend to forget about the actual weight of the food they eat. For this reason, it’s wise to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Swallowing a bunch of food before you step on the scale is no different than putting a bunch of rocks in your pocket. The 5 pounds that you gain right after a huge dinner is not fat. It’s the actual weight of everything you’ve had to eat and drink. The added weight of the meal will be gone several hours later when you’ve finished digesting it.

Exercise physiologists tell us that in order to store one pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 calories more than your body is able to burn. In other words, to actually store the above dinner as 5 pounds of fat, it would have to contain a whopping 17,500 calories. This is not likely, in fact it’s not humanly possible. So when the scale goes up 3 or 4 pounds overnight, rest easy, it’s likely to be water, glycogen, and the weight of your dinner. Keep in mind that the 3,500 calorie rule works in reverse also. In order to lose one pound of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in. Generally, it’s only possible to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. When you follow a very low calorie diet that causes your weight to drop 10 pounds in 7 days, it’s physically impossible for all of that to be fat. What you’re really losing is water, glycogen, and muscle.

This brings us to the scale’s sneakiest attribute. It doesn’t just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, water, internal organs and all. When you lose “weight,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost fat. In fact, the scale has no way of telling you what you’ve lost (or gained). Losing muscle is nothing to celebrate. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns, even when you’re just sitting around. That’s one reason why a fit, active person is able to eat considerably more food than the dieter who is unwittingly destroying muscle tissue.

Robin Landis, author of “Body Fueling,” compares fat and muscles to feathers and gold. One pound of fat is like a big fluffy, lumpy bunch of feathers, and one pound of muscle is small and valuable like a piece of gold. Obviously, you want to lose the dumpy, bulky feathers and keep the sleek beautiful gold. The problem with the scale is that it doesn’t differentiate between the two. It can’t tell you how much of your total body weight is lean tissue and how much is fat. There are several other measuring techniques that can accomplish this, although they vary in convenience, accuracy, and cost. Skin-fold calipers pinch and measure fat folds at various locations on the body, hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing involves exhaling all of the air from your lungs before being lowered into a tank of water, and bioelectrical impedance measures the degree to which your body fat impedes a mild electrical current.

If the thought of being pinched, dunked, or gently zapped just doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. The best measurement tool of all turns out to be your very own eyes. How do you look? How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Are your rings looser? Do your muscles feel firmer? These are the true measurements of success. If you are exercising and eating right, don’t be discouraged by a small gain on the scale. Fluctuations are perfectly normal. Expect them to happen and take them in stride. It’s a matter of mind over scale.

 

Readers, WEIGH IN! Do you use the scale to tell you how healthy you are? Leave your comments below!

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