Friday, December 28, 2012

Homemade Hamburger Buns (Great taste, no cancer!)

One of my goals for 2013 is to find some bread recipes that my family will actually eat on a regular basis so I can stop buying the terrible bread currently offered in grocery stores. Even the "good" bread has dough conditioners and preservatives that include ingredients like human hair and substances known to cause cancer. How can I cook my sweet little boy a grilled cheese sandwich on cancer bread?!? I can't. That's why I bake bread.

Tonight was experiment numero uno: hamburger buns. I am so happy with how they came out. I used a Betty Crocker Bread Machine Cookbook recipe and it's pretty simple. Now that I know the recipe works, I can start tinkering with different types of flour, adding seasoning, etc.

Here's the recipe for your bread machine:

My buns straight from the oven!
1 cup water
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
3 1/4 cups bread flour (I had to use all-purpose, which was fine, but bread flour would be best)
1/4 cup sugar (I'll be tinkering with lowering the sugar content)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp quick active dry yeast

Instructions: Place all ingredients into bread machine pan in order listed. Select the "dough" or "manual" setting on your bread machine and let it run. Mine took about 90 minutes to knead the dough. After it is done, remove the dough from the machine and let it rest on a lightly floured surface, covered with a towel, for 10 minutes. Then, shape into 15 small rolls, place on a greased cookie sheet, and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size. I flattened mine a little so they would be more like buns than rolls and put them in a warm oven. Once they have risen, bake them at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, slice, and serve! Put unused buns in the freezer.

The result? They were really, really good. I had four taste testers and they all loved them! I doubt I will ever buy hamburger buns again. Give these a try! They are easy and well worth the time to bake them, especially since the bread machine does all the hard work!

Good bread is a real treat, and you deserve good bread. Get out there and get healthy! Skip the bread aisle and make your own!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

5 Ways to Make Resolutions that Stick!

Image bykibsri
Ah, the week between Christmas and New Year's is here. It's one of my favorite weeks of the year. Pretty much anything we do this week is under the grace of being forgiven on New Year's Day, so if you're going to be bad, this is the week to do it!

This is also a great time to make New Year goals. Do you make resolutions? I do, and over time I've come to learn that when I put a little muscle into my daydreaming, amazing things can happen. Here are five easy ways to make sure your resolutions hit the bulls eye!

1. Give yourself time. It takes about 90 days to cement a new behavior as a lifestyle change, so expecting your entire life to change in the first week of January might be pushing it a little. To create some instant gratification, create a visual reward center where you can record your progress every day. I like to put smiley face stickers on a calendar for good days, others use programs like MyFitnessPal or DailyMile to track their habits (and brag about them).

2. Be specific. Vowing to lose weight or exercise more are great goals, but to make it achievable, you need to be a little more specific. A goal to, say, lose 10 pounds by the first day of Spring or complete a 5k race on a certain day are more likely to happen. 

3. Be proud! Tell people about your goals, seek support and camaraderie online, and (kooky as you may feel) say them out loud to yourself! Hearing them in your own voice helps your brain believe that you really will do it. I'm serious. It works.

4. Fast forward. Get out your 2013 Healthiest Year Ever Calendar (I know you ordered one, right?) and flip to February. Write a little note of encouragement to yourself on any day you choose. Do the same for April. You can be your own accountability and keep yourself on track!

5. Have fun! Go on, go for what you really, really want! It's your life, take it! Waiting around for permission to live the life you want wastes time and is no fun at all. When you set goals for 2013, ask yourself what you want to be celebrating in December of next year. Then, work backwards to you goal!

I'm thinking about my goals for the year ahead, and fine-tuning them to make sure they are precisely what I want. Next I'll go about figuring out what it will take to turn them into reality. Then the real fun starts: actually doing the stuff.

2013 is just around the bend. Get out there and get healthy: take time today to think about what you want to be celebrating this time next year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The 12 Days of Fitness: Healthy and Fun Kids Activity

My son came home from school this week and told me that in PE, they did the 12 Days of Fitness. Oh realllly? Do tell, young lad! I got so tickled seeing him try to recreate the song and he was definitely getting his heart rate up! I love this idea - try it with your kids, your friends, your walking group, or just by yourself. :)

*ahem* All together now:
  • On the first day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 1 snowman standing on a hill (balance on one leg)
  • On the second day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 2 snow angels (jumping jack) and 1 snowman standing on a hill...
  • On the third day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 3 arm circles…you know the rest
  • On the fourth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 4 toe touches…
  • On the fifth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 5 big lunges…
  • On the sixth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 6 torso twisters…
  • On the seventh day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 7 windmills…
  • On the eighth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 8 legs a’lifting…
  • On the ninth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 9 hops forward
  • On the tenth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 10 arms a’swimming
  • On the eleventh day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 11 bicycle pedals
  • On the twelfth day of fitness, my teacher gave to me: 12 stomach crunches, 11 bicycle pedals, 10 arms a’swimming, 9 hops forward, 8 legs a’lifting, 7 windmills, and 6 torso twisters…. and a snowman standing on a hill. 

Get out there and get healthy today - lead everyone in a rousing chorus of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recipe! Sweet and Spicy Nuts

I made these sweet and spicy nuts for teacher gifts this year and seriously, I had to give them away quickly lest I eat them all. They are really easy to make and really tasty too so either make a lot or not very much, depending on how skilled you are at self control. :)

  • Four cups total of nuts of your choice. I used raw natural almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, cayanne pepper, and salt. You may want more or less of these depending on your tastes. 
1. Preheat oven to 325 Farenheit
2. Mix the nuts with the spices and seasonings.
3. Pour the honey over the mixture and stir it all up.
4. Spread it on a greased cookie sheet in one layer.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, checking a few times to stir them around.

The honey will melt all over and make an enormous mess, so be prepared for that. Once you take them out of the oven, let them cool before messing with them. But not too long, or it will all stick to your cookie sheet like mine did and you'll spend 45 minutes with a spatula trying to get them off (and eating the pieces that are not pretty enough to give as a gift)! 

The nuts will be sticky, but they are really good and I was very glad to get them out of my house and into the hands of someone else. :)

Get out there and get healthy today, even if you decide to keep these for yourself. :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Veggie-Packed Muffin Recipes (and they're delicious!)

As I've said before, it always tickles me when people want my "recipes." If you could see what I use to cook, you'd quickly realize that there is absolutely no magic going on in my kitchen. Oh wait! You can see! Hold on.

See? Here you go. My magic tricks revealed. One sure-fire way to keep your food simple is to not use any recipes that cannot fit on a teeny tiny post-it and then taped to the inside of an altogether different cookbook that you rarely use.

But, I have become a bit of a muffin connoisseur over the past few months as I have discovered that my baby will eat just about anything as long as it comes in the form of a muffin. I'm not a huge fan of him eating so much flour, but I also hate throwing away food and picking it up from the floor all day so hey. Bring on the muffins.

I am a very lazy cook prone to just throwing everything in a bowl and mixing it up, but there are a few personal policies I like to follow: 1) Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately. I don't always do this but they come out better when I do. 2) Don't over-stir. Your muffins will be too dense and not fluffy. And 3) I bake everything for 20 minutes at 350 no matter what the recipe says. Seriously y'all. I am not a chef.

But here are the muffins I made this week. So far they are pretty popular! 

Zucchini Muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 medium)

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, except the zucchini. Combine the two bowls, stir in the zucchini. Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Another variation of this is to take out the cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla and stir in shredded cheddar cheese, pepper, and cajun seasoning. Less sweet, more kicky.

Pizza Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 package dry active yeast (the quick rise kind)
1 cup hot water (110-120 degrees)
1 tbsp olive oil
tomato sauce
Boar's Head pepperoni
mozzarella cheese
italian seasoning, garlic, that kind of thing

Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a big bowl. Add the hot water. Stir by hand until it is all combined and let it rise in a warm oven for about 2 hours. Come back, punch it down, roll it around a little in your Italian seasoning and garlic and olive oil, and then break the dough into little balls. These balls are going to be your muffins. Spray a muffin pan and press each ball into the pan making a little bowl in the middle for your toppings. Chop the onion, spinach, and a few pieces of pepperoni until it is very fine. Mix it in with the tomato sauce, and spoon the mixture into the little dough bowl. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until they are bubbly. These are great for school lunches!

Carrot Apple Muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup anise seeds (optional, leave this out if you don't like licorice)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Combine the two bowls and mix just until blended. Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Banana Cauliflower Muffins
This recipe is adapted from the Banana Bread recipe in Deceptively Delicious.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup mashed banana
3/4 cup pureed cauliflower
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts if your kid is not allergic

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Combine the two bowls and mix just until blended. Pour into muffin tins and bake at guessed it...350 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

When I look for muffin recipes, I always follow the same scientific procedure: I Google "_____ muffin recipe" with the name of the food I want to make muffins with filling in the blank. Sometimes I type, "healthy ____ muffin recipe" if the search results pop up with too many pictures of Paula Deen. But really, any muffin recipe can be healthified by reducing the sugar and using half whole wheat flour. Using all whole wheat is admirable, but I think a half and half mix makes better muffins.

I'm not a great chef and you don't have to be either. Tinker with these recipes, try a few variations, and let me know what you come up with. Get out there out there and get healthy, even if your kid will only eat muffins.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Those Sneaky Calorie-burners!

Sometimes people tell me that they "can't" run 10 miles a day to get into shape. I put "can't" in quotes because of course they can, they are just choosing not to for whatever reason. There are perfectly legitimate reasons why exercise is inconvenient at times, I get that. I'm just saying that you likely can do it, you're just deciding to do something else instead. That's cool.

But I digress. Back to what I was saying.

During the week, I run 5 miles three mornings or so and do the elliptical and weights on non-running days. Then on Saturday I do my long run of between 8 and 10 miles. So naturally I consider Saturday to be my "big burn" because, duh, running 10 miles in one day is going to burn way more than just 5, right? 

But check this out: the other day I ran my 5 miles, and then I walked almost everywhere I went. I took the baby for a 30-minute walk in the backpack that morning, and then I walked another hour in the afternoon when I could have driven instead. When I added all that exercise into MyFitnessPal, it came to about 900 calories of exercise. Dang. That's a lot!

Then the next day I went out and ran 9 miles. I entered that into MyFitnessPal and it came to 868 calories.

What? I burned more calories with a 5 mile run and then just walking around than I did on the day I ran 9 miles?? I was pretty shocked!

And inspired. Research has shown that you don't necessarily have to get all of your cardiovascular exercise at one time. Even small bursts of exercise are beneficial and provide health benefits. Excuses begone!

Imagine this: if you got up and did a workout in the morning like you were going to do anyway, and then you looked for opportunities all day long to be active in other ways, you could very well rack up enough calories to be the equivalent of 10 miles run. Okay, maybe 8. Still, that's a lot! 

Here are some ideas for where those opportunities may be hiding:

1. Designate one meeting at work that would typically be held sitting around a conference table and take it outside as a walking meeting. There's likely 30 minutes right there.

2. If you're meeting a friend for lunch, choose a restaurant that you can walk to. Round trip could be 20 minutes!

3. Get up and walk 3 minutes for every 60 that you spend sitting at your desk. Over the course of an 8-hour work day, that adds up to 24 minutes of exercise!

So, hmmmm....maybe you can "run" 10 miles a day after all. Just sayin'. :)

Get out there and get healthy today, even if you think you can't run 10 miles.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Smart for the Heart Beat the Bulge Holiday Challenge

Let me guess: you're hoping to put on some weight this holiday season so you can feel nice and jolly on New Year's Day. 

No?  Good! I would have to come and give you a discouraging look if you did. Well, since you don't want to gain weight this month, you should check out the Heart Healthy for the Holidays Beat the Bulge Weight Management Challenge over at Smart for the Heart. Its a free 4-week, results-based weight management program designed to help you stay healthy all season long.

I like this program because it goes beyond just challenging you to be healthier. It's a comprehensive approach to health that takes into consideration your personal health risks. Once you sign up, you can complete an assessment so the program is customized for you.  

After that, you'll get access to all the free, interactive diet and health planning tools on the site, be able to talk to fitness and nutrition experts, enroll in the challenge workshops, and join a community where you'll have all the support you need to get heart healthy.

The holidays don't have to mean indulging (and the subsequent regret afterwards). You can be healthy, you can feel great, and you can do it all while still having a cookie here and there.

Just not a lot.

And only after you workout.

Get out there and get healthy today - join me in the challenge!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cold(ish) Running Gear for Cheap People

A friend recently asked for my advice about running gear for cold weather. And when I say cold, I mean mid-50s. I live in the South, so I'm used to being mocked by my northern friends when I talk about winter. It's okay. We have the distinction of having the word, "oppressive" written over our section of country by the Weather Channel in August, so I mock them back when they talk about being hot in the summer. 

Anyhoo. Back to running. I replied to my friend that I might not be the best person to ask because, while you can go out and spend lots of money on snazzy winter running gear, I am extremely cheap and therefore buy most of my stuff at TJ Maxx and Target. Luckily, that's just the kind of advice she was looking for.

But there are a few running items that I have received as gifts - since I am too cheap to buy them for myself - that are quite lovely. Here they are:

1. Convertible Globes. I don't know if that is the technical term for these little gems, but I love my mittens that fold back so I can mess with my iPod or just to have my hands free if they get a little too warm. Mine have a little button on them to hold them back but the elastic for the button snapped when I was being a little too impatient with them. Cheap and demanding, that's me. I'm a real catch, I'll tell ya!

2. Hat with headphones. What will they think of next? My ears are too small for ear buds so I wear big clunky headphones that I've had for eons (and because I am too cheap to get new ones). They work just fine. But in the winter its hard to get my stocking cap over them, which combined with the earpieces of my glasses results in a few too many accessories for such a small space. So this hat with headphones built in is pretty super awesome in my book!

3. Zipper tights. I thought I would look a fool when I ranaround in these running tights with the zippers on the side. I didn't care anymore when I was able to stop, unzip them, and turn them into capris. I probably looked way cooler that way (not). But in the south, where "cold" can turn to "muggy with a side of humid" in the course of one workout, these are pretty darn handy.
The rest of my cold-weather gear consists of long-sleeved tech shirts that wick the moisture away and a thin fleece jacket that I can take off and tie around my waist if I need to. 'Cause a jacket tied around my waist is the perfect complement to my zipped-up capri leggings and old broken down headphones. Yes siree, I'm a keeper!

Get out there and get healthy today, even if your running gear isn't as super-fly as mine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Great News for My Mom: Microwave Popcorn No Longer Needed!

I have two adorable, sweet, precious nieces whom I love. I'm sure they love me too, but they also love popcorn. Maybe even more than me. And they really love it when my mom makes them popcorn in the microwave.

The last time I was home, there was a news story on television about how FDA has found that chemicals in packaged popcorn - like the chemicals in many processed foods - are really bad for us. I'm telling you, this clean eating thing, it's kinda a good idea.

Anyway, I had just been getting on my mom's case about the popcorn, and she was all rolling her eyes at me, and then the news came on and I was all, "see? I'm not crazy!" And she was all, "then what the heck are we supposed to do? We can't eat anything anymore! Not even popcorn!" And she poured herself a glass of wine because as far as she knows, wine is still good for her.

What my mom doesn't remember is back in the day, when I was a kid, she would make us popcorn every Sunday for dinner. Yes. Popcorn for dinner. We would all line up on the couch, put a paper towel in our lap, get our scoops of popcorn, and watch "Murder, She Wrote." And she made that popcorn in an air popper, not the microwave. Interesting. How soon we forget. 

Anyway, I was recently strong-armed into buying popcorn from my son to support his scout troop. As I browsed the catalog of caramel corn, chocolate-covered popcorn, and yes, microwave popcorn, I came across something a little more up my alley: popcorn kernels! "Buddy, we are going to make popcorn on the stove," I told him. He was skeptical, but we tried it and it was pretty awesome.

Then I was bragging about my popcorn at the next scout meeting when one of the moms told me she makes popcorn in the microwave in a paper bag. Really? Do tell!

I came home and got straight to Googling. Sure enough, there were instructions for making microwave popcorn without all the cancer. Here's how.

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
2 tsp olive oil
Scotch tape
Paper bag

  1. Pour the popcorn kernels into the bag.
  2. Pour the olive oil into the bag.
  3. Fold over the top and seal with tape.
  4. Shake the bag to distribute the oil.
  5. Put into the microwave for 2 minutes (your microwave may take longer, I found that it burned if I went any longer).
  6. Add salt or whatever seasoning you like.
  7. Enjoy!
It is so easy that I've been making microwave popcorn almost every day for a week! So, my mom's problems are solved. Well, her popcorn-related problems anyway. And, my two precious nieces can eat popcorn without Aunt Heather feeling all bad for giving them cancer and stuff. Everyone wins!

Get out there and get healthy, even if you like microwave popcorn!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chillax: Your Healthy Thanksgiving Guide is Here!

My grocery store is fully stocked with all the fixings to take your Thanksgiving down a notch.
People agonize every year about how much they're going to eat on Thanksgiving, and I don't know why they're all freaking out. Thanksgiving can be a perfectly healthy holiday!

Turkey? Excellent protein!
Sweet potatoes? Vitamins B, C, and D!
Cranberries? Filled with antioxidants!
Pumpkin? Tons of fiber!

Even stuffing could be healthified if you make it yourself and go easy on the serving size.

So there you have it. Thanksgiving is healthy. Our work here is done!

Oh, except for one pesky little detail: the other ingredients sharing casserole dish space with all that healthy food, right? Yeah...the butter...and the sugar....and the cream of mushroom soup....and the sugar.... Yeah, I'm looking at you, holding that bag of mini marshmallows behind your back!

Thanksgiving food starts out as really good stuff, but then we go and make it all gooey and bad for us by adding a bunch of fat and sugar. And you know, if you usually eat super healthy, go get some exercise that morning, and watch the portions, one day of fat and sugar is not going to do that much damage. But, if you're like me and enjoy having even "special" food in a healthy way, read on for ways to lighten up your Thanksgiving Day.

Having a healthy Thanksgiving just requires three things:

1. A plan. Sit down and learn about the food you will likely face. Look for potential obstacles. Profile the feeders. Be prepared and go into the day with a vision of how you want it to END!

2. A good dose of endorphins! Almost every community these days has a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, ranging from the 1-mile fun run to a 15k race. Not only do these events provide a great workout, but you can usually also contribute to your community in a meaningful way through food drives and other outreach efforts. And that's healthy, too!

3. The right attitude. Go into the day expecting a calorie coma and that is what you will achieve! But, if you expect to make good decisions and can visualize yourself doing so, your chances for success are high.

Get out there and get healthy this Thanksgiving! You can do it, and you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2013 Healthiest Year Ever Calendar: Get one!

Your Healthiest Year Ever

I always get inspired when I see some uber-fit person running down the street, all gazelle-like and athletic. It makes me want to go and do something healthy, too! I admire their discipline and commitment and want to join them, sure that my six-pack abs are just around the next corner if I do.

But you know what is even more inspirational? Seeing an unfit person running down the street, all hating it and swearing and wishing it was over. They may not look all that athletic (yet), but their discipline and commitment speaks volumes about what it really means to get out there and get healthy. Fitness is not a destination, it's a journey. That's why I created the Healthiest Year Ever Calendar with a hiking theme this year: its all about the journey!

The Healthiest Year Ever Calendar is full of success stories, but they're not necessarily told from the finish line. Some are at the beginning of their journey, and some have been traveling a long time. A few have lost a lot of weight, some have lost just a little. But everyone is traveling the healthy path every day, and that makes them a success story in my book.

Tucked in with these inspiring stories are pit stops with wellness tips and strategies for making sure that your own path to wellness is well-traveled. Its my goal to create a tool that is relevant and useful for people at all stages of fitness, and I think this calendar is a good one.

Check it out and see for yourself! Page through and read the stories, and then order one for yourself and all your friends. It's a great way to stay healthy all year long (and the perfect place to track your goals, accomplishments, and of course those healthy day stickers!).

2013 Healthiest Year Ever Preview

Thanks for supporting my goal of making the world a healthier place. Get out there and get healthy today, regardless of where you are on the journey. 


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving Beckons: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles

I've already established that I am not one of those foodie girls who prepares amazing meals with exotic ingredients and impressive-sounding names. But I do enjoy fortifying regular recipes with extra nutrition, which sometimes turns out really well and sometimes ends up in the "better luck next time" department (AKA the trash can). But today my refrigerator foraging created something good!

My sweet first-grade son asked me this morning to make waffles for breakfast, and how could I resist? The setting was perfect: it was a cold morning, I had Christmas music playing (yes I'm one of Those People), and I already had everything out anyway because I had just baked a batch of pumpkin muffins (while balancing a clingy baby on my hip thankyouverymuch). But as I started mixing the ingredients, I spied some leftover pumpkin from the muffins. In it went. Pumpkin is not only a great source of fiber, but it is also rich in vitamins and just plain yummy.

I served up the waffles without revealing my hidden ingredient. But my husband knows better than that. As he drizzled syrup across his plate he casually asked, "so....what makes these waffles so great?" :) Luckily, the experiment was a success and the waffles were happily gobbled up in a flash.

Here's the recipe if you want to make some!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles (makes 6 belgian style waffles)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Mix the dry ingredients, and then mix them into the wet ingredients. Allow the batter to sit for about 10 minutes, then pour about 1/3 cup into a hot waffle iron. Best with 100% pure maple syrup and fresh fruit! Each waffle has about 113 calories.

Get out there and get healthy today, even if your family knows you secretly sneak good stuff into their food.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Healthy Food Serenade

Heads up: I'm about to reveal a potentially embarrassing but hopefully helpful fitness tip that I hope makes you either:

a) find comfort in the fact that as dorky as you are, there is someone even dorkier,
b) get inspired to try it yourself, or 
c) do both. :)

Music is a great motivator for me when I'm running, and I often use music with my clients to illustrate points, emphasize milestones, and celebrate the start of new exciting chapters in wellness. When I set out for a run, I crank it up and sometimes even stop to dance a little in the street. But over time, I've started catching myself finding more and more metaphors for food relationships in music. It first happened when I caught myself singing along to Queen's "Let Me Live" and directing the lyrics towards my anger at sugar for always taking, taking, taking and never giving back:

Why don't you take another little piece of my soul
Why don't you shape it and shake it

til you're really in control
All you do is take
And all I do is give
All that I'm asking
Is a chance to live

It seemed to really describe the roller coaster of trying to live in moderation with sugar, but knowing that I never really could have a healthy life as long as it was flowing through my body. Over the years, I've found more and more songs that illustrate how I feel about food - great food relationships and not-so-great ones - and really enjoy serenading them as I run. Today, it was Christina Augilera singing "Makes Me Wanna Pray." Here's a sample of the lyrics that seemed to define how I feel about healthy food:

What is this feeling coming over me?
I'm taken back in disbelief

Is this really me, ha! in the mirror I see?
Staring back at me: Could it be? 
A new reflection of a woman complete

All of a sudden I'm so care-free (well alright)
'cause love is doing something strange to me (well alright)
Got a new flame, ha! 
haven't been the same
Something in me's changed, rearranged
And I feel that I've been saved
You got me feeling like you're that something I've been missing
Everything's heaven 'cause life with you has been a blessing

If you click on the video below, turn it up loud! Come to that dorky place with me and sing a love song to the key to being in love with yourself, the choices you make, and the body you get to live in.

Get out there and get healthy today, even if you stop to dance in the streets and sing love songs to healthy food! I won't judge you. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Healthy Halloween (no tricks!)


It's Halloween, so naturally everyone is asking me whether I plan to torture my child by not letting him collect any candy or if I will throw it all away as soon as he gets home. The answer to both is no. While I do cringe and want to run away when I see him eating candy by the bagful, it's just one of those things I have to accept as a mom and let go of. I'm over it.

But, I die a little inside at the thought of actively supplying children with candy. It is something that I have a harder and harder time with as I see our national obesity, diabetes, and sugar addiction problems get worse. So, I won't be handing candy out tonight. Instead, I've loaded up on plenty of Halloween treats that are still sure to please: Halloween tattoos, bat and spider rings, pencils, and stickers. I may not be the cool mom, but I can sleep tonight.

All treats, no tricks!

Remember, candy is optional. I remember a time not too long ago when I just threw my hands up in defeat as soon as Halloween candy came around. I knew I was going to eat it, it was just a given. But over time I've come to learn that doing that made me feel terrible both physically (because that stuff is just garbage) and mentally (because I was frustrated at my lack of self control). Since I have detoxed from sugar, I am very glad to say that Halloween candy is a non-issue for me. It feels incredible, in case you were wondering.

I have never regretted having a healthy day. I have always regretted eating a mini Snickers. For those of you out there who can eat candy today and carry on as normal tomorrow, I applaud you. I am not so evolved! For those of you who cannot, join me in having a candy-free day.

Still fun!

Still spooky!

Still happy!

Just without the sugar withdrawals tomorrow.

Get out there and get healthy today....even though it's Halloween.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Cookie That Almost Killed Her
"One cookie won't kill you!"

How many times have you heard that? And okay, it's true. A cookie will not kill you, and eating a cookie is not going to be the end of your healthy journey. But, for someone who is paying close attention to calories in and calories out, a cookie could very well be a u-turn on that healthy path.

I love it when friends text me pictures of their healthy habits or, in this case, the potential trip-up that they averted. So when my phone buzzed with a picture of a big cookie - from a national hotel chain that shall remain nameless - and the number 300 followed by about five exclamation points, I knew exactly where she was and what was going through her mind.

That cookie is 300 calories?!?!?

Yep, friends, it is. And while one cookie won't kill you, unless you have 300 calories to waste on something that takes 30 seconds to eat, it will land you in nutritional time-out for a while. Here's a quick look at what else you could have eaten for 300 calories: 
  • half a cup of filling oatmeal with raisins, a banana, and a cup of coffee with cream
  • small can of tuna with 2 tbs of low fat mayo and chopped celery
  • veggie burger topped with grilled mushrooms and onions
  • 1/2 brown rice with chicken, sliced mushrooms, and chopped onion
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta with 1/4 cup tomato sauce and veggies
  • 1 cup lowfat yogurt with chopped walnuts, raisins, and frozen blueberries
  • a pear, an orange, and 16 almonds

And here are some more examples: What do 300-calorie Meals Really Look Like?

Those cookies, and the urge to eat them, are all about impulse decisions. You know, the kind we make when we haven't planned ahead and prepped our healthy snacks for the day. But luckily, there are some easy things you can do to make sure one little cookie doesn't wreck your day.

1. Practice your "thanks but no thanks," replies. Say them in the car, practice in the mirror, or have a friend coach you. Just have a polite and friendly way to say thanks for the diet sabotage, but I'll pass! 

2. Use a mantra. Repeating a meaningful word or phrase in your head is a proven way to refocus your energy towards your bigger goal. The one to not eat 300-calorie cookies.

3. Have a healthy snack at the ready. Always keep fruit, veggies, nuts, and water nearby for those times when everyone else is snacking and you want to chew something, too!

One cookie won't completely ruin things, but who cares? If you don't have a cookie in your plan, don't let someone else toss one in. This is your healthy journey! Take the wheel!

Get out there and get healthy today. Even if someone offers you a cookie.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

One Hour That Can Healthify Your Week!

Just one hour can make the rest
of your week way healthier!
What if you could make your entire week healthier in just one hour? It's possible, if you spend that hour prepping meals and snacks for the week ahead. Advance prep clears obstacles from your path and puts healthy choices within reach, eliminating excuses and making it a lot easier to follow through on the good intentions you had Sunday night.

I take about an hour on the weekends to make breakfast for the week, chop fruits and veggies, bake chicken, make chili, and sometimes even stage salads for busy days. It takes a few times to get a good production line going, but once you hit your groove, this hour could very well mean the difference between a healthy week and promising to do better next time. And if you can see the TV from your kitchen and can watch football at the same time, all the better!

How do you get it all done? Here's a quick look at how I spend my Power Hour:

  • Put a boneless turkey breast or chicken in the oven to bake (350 degrees for about an hour, depending on what you're using). Then…
  • Prep five egg scrambles and put them in with the turkey. They need to bake for 40 minutes. Then...
  • If you're making a salad that requires baked apples (like this one), slice them and spread them out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon, and stick those in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Brown a pound of bison and start a big pot of chili in the crockpot. Then…
  • Chop apples, pears, and peaches, peel oranges, slice strawberries, chop carrots, etc. and put them in containers for snacks later in the week. Then…
  • Portion almonds (16 is about 100 calories) and raisins in baggies for on-the-go snacks. Then…
  • Portion oatmeal and raisins in baggies for breakfast each day. Then…
  • Line up containers for salads, and put three handfuls of spinach in each one. Add a snack-size baggie of with feta cheese and chopped fruit to each one to add to your salad (keeping the salad ingredients separate prevents the salad from getting mushy). I use strawberries for my Change Your Life salad and baked apples for my Fall Harvest Salad.
  • Take out the egg scrambles and stash them in the fridge for breakfast each day. Then…
  • Take out the turkey, slice it up, and portion it where it needs to go (salads, in a container for pasta later in the week, or in a pot of soup).
  • Store it all in the fridge to create your own little grocery store at home!
Reaching for something healthy is as easy as making sure it is there for you when you're ready. This hour is packed, but worth it. At the end, you'll have breakfast, lunch, and snacks (and maybe even the makings of some dinner if you also boil some pasta and make a pot of rice!) ready to go. 

I'm feeling healthier already.

Get out there and get healthy today. It only takes an hour!