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. :)