Monday, April 30, 2012

Get Food Smart: 2 New Techy Tools for Health

Is this the summer you finally get smart about food? There are two cool online tools you can use to make it a little easier and fun! Check out ShopWell.com and SmashYourFood.com to get a little smarter and a little grossed out (in a good way).

ShopWell.com is a website where you can create a free account, personalize it to your health needs, goals, and dietary preferences, and then get recommendations for foods that can help you achieve greater health. You can also download the app to use a bar code scanner and get reviews and alternative (healthier) suggestions when you're curious about a particular food while shopping. Kind of like a souped-up Fooducate. It gives foods a score and lists the pros and cons, and lets you create a more informed grocery list. Check it out, it's pretty cool.

Then, gather the kids around for a fun activity that will help them understand why you keep telling them no when they want to drink soda and eat crap. Download the SmashYourFood.com app, created by nutritionists to teach kids about food. It lets you choose your favorite food, guess how much sugar, salt, and fat it contains, and then smash it carnival-game-style to let everything ooze out and fill up little scales that show the contents of the food. Check out the Parents Page to learn how cool it is. Unfortunately, it looks like this is only available for iPhone and iPad, but hopefully it will be more accessible soon.

Get out there and get healthy today! I'm gonna go smash some food.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Do I Really Have to Weigh That? (Probably)

People ask me all the time whether I get sick of weighing my food. Not at all. Success is never something I get tired of. Then they ask whether I weigh my fruits and veggies. When I am trying to get over a fat loss hump, you better believe it. Why? Click and learn my friends. Click and learn.

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Get out there and get healthy. Weigh your dang portions!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 1,260 Calorie Salad

I'm going to lunch today with my friend Erika, (Miss March in the Healthiest Year Ever calendar. We're going to a local place so of course I went online to check out their menu and plan something healthy to order. I love when a restaurant has a nutrition calculator that shows the calories and whatnot for their menu items, and even more when they let you "build a salad," by adding or deleting things. Some people think that showing you what your restaurant meal contains nutrition-wise is a deterrent to customers, but I disagree. Eating out is inevitable, and I would much rather patronize a restaurant that works with me to be healthy rather than leaves me in the dark.

Even when the salad is 1,260 calories. For real. The salad I chose to begin with includes lettuce, grilled steak, gorgonzola cheese, grape tomatoes, onion, pecans, and blue cheese dressing and weighs in at a whopping 1,260 calories. That is more than half my day's calories! So, the editing process began.

Deleted the dressing off the bat, which brought us down to 420 calories. Wake up call, people: salad dressing will kill you and you do not need it.

I'm assuming the pecans are roasted in oil and then covered in sugar, so those are gone too. New total: 299 calories. Much better. Taking the cheese down to a half portion saves another 50 calories. I'll bring along an apple with some natural peanut butter and this will be a great lunch out. 

Eating in restaurants can throw a real monkey wrench in your healthy day if you're not careful. This restaurant offers a nutrition calculator by a company called Nutritionix, which has a whole database of restaurant foods. Check it out before you head to lunch and make sure that salad doesn't throw a bomb on the rest of your day. Then, feed your brain with knowledge: restaurant salads often have more calories than a Whopper.

Get out there and get healthy, even if you're eating out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fitness: Fast, Cheap, and Good. Pick two.

We're all in a hurry, aren't we? I am! I want everything to be awesome and I want it all NOW! But, some things are worth waiting for. This week I'm sharing a fun analogy that shows how fitness can be fast, cheap, and good. But you can only have two!

Please ignore the purple-stained fingernails. Getting frozen blueberries onto my yogurt while holding the baby. I'm sure you can relate.

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Have a great day; get out there and get healthy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Squash Childhood Obesity in 64 Calories a Day

Time Magazine reports this week that kids would need to burn 64 calories each day, on average, to meet federal goals for reversing childhood obesity by 2020.

What is 64 calories?

For a person weighing 90 pounds, that's 25 minutes of riding a bike to the park.
20 minutes of walking the dog.
15 minutes of playing tag.
12 minutes of soccer.

One container of applesauce.
Half a juice box.
One tablespoon of jelly not on a sandwich.
One quarter cup less macaroni and cheese at dinner.
One pack of Welch's Fruit Snacks not given as a reward for good behavior.

Or a bribe for good behavior.

Or counted as a serving of fruit.

64 calories is not a lot. As active as kids are (and want to be) it should be easy. But, it is up to us as parents to make sure it happens. Get out there and get healthy with your kids today! Their future depends on it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

How My Fear Drives My Fitness

Getting - and staying - in shape is hard work. For me, it takes almost constant focus, discipline, and organization to stay on top of a distracted and stubborn body that would immediately revert back to it's Stay-Puffed Marshmallow state if left to its own devices. So, I frequently tap into different types of motivation to stay ahead of that default setting.

Most of the time, just wanting to stay feeling good and strong motivates me. I love exercise, and the results usually feel more like gravy compared to the reward of just being able to work out. Being free of medications, disease, and other ailments is another motivator. Vanity plays a role, too. I love the way my shoulders look when I've been working hard! And, being able to eat a lot is a great motivator for getting those calories burned off!

A heavier me. Fat pics are hard to find!
But sometimes, when I am really tired, I get to the bottom of the barrel: fear. When it comes down to it, I am afraid to be fat again. I've been fat, multiple times, and it sucks. I remember how tired, winded, uncomfortable, angry, defeated, and hopeless I felt when it seemed that my weight was destined to be my nemesis. I've spent a lot of money thinking that if I had to spend my life overweight, at least I could have cute shoes! I've lost and re-lost weight over and over and have not forgotten what hard work it is. And, as a fundamentally lazy person, I don't like to do things twice.

So I get my butt out there every day and maintain what I've worked so hard to achieve, and I am only at a moderate level of fitness. Some days are easier than others, but I do it regardless because, as I've said before, the alternative is unacceptable to me. 

Much happier now!
I've learned a lot along the road to fitness, and found my calling as a Wellness Coach and fitness professional, so I can't say I wish I had never had to work hard at getting in shape. We should all have something we're a little bit afraid of, to coax us along to a better place.

What drives your fitness quest? It's okay if your motivation is a little dodgy, shallow, or peculiar. Turn it into a strength and use it as a reason to get out there and get healthy!



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Video: 3 Tips for Dealing with Cravings

Cravings are like toddlers: impulsive, coy, and used to getting what they want. And, they seem to wake up and get noisy right when things start going well. But don't worry, you can incorporate cravings (and toddlers) into your healthy life! In fact, the tips in this video might make life with a toddler a little easier. :)

Have a healthy day, and get out there and get healthy!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Taste Test! Bare Bones Marinade = Yummy

It's good.
Chicken. It's a love/hate relationship. It's easy to make and a staple in our dinner rotation. But more often than not, I find myself in this conversation:

Him: What's for dinner?
Me: Chicken.
Him: Oh.
Me: Yeah.

We're underwhelmed. So I'm always on the lookout for new and yummy but clean and easy ways to make chicken. I'm not very good at it.

Then I noticed one of my clean eating peeps, Fit and Clean, has created Bare Bones Marinade, a clean-eating and gluten-free marinade that promises to transport me to bbqs of my youth. That sounded pretty good so I bought some and decided to give it a try! It was $10 for two bottles. I'm glad I got two because I will definitely be using it! It is way good!

Of course I immediately tasted some on my fingertip when it arrived. Tangy, subtle, and yummy. The next day I marinated two chicken breasts in it for a few hours before slapping them on the George Foreman grill for dinner. The verdict? Really quite very delicious and good. I really liked it! My husband even liked it and he is pickier than I am. My son didn't eat any but that's nothing new. But if he had, I think he would have put it on the "not disgusting," list. High praise from a kid who considers Papa John to be the height of culinary prowess.

Last night I decided to drizzle a little on my turkey burger. But I forgot that the bottle is pretty big and accidentally poured out a lot. No biggie. It was really good and not overpowering. I was even able to enjoy eating my turkey burger despite the fact that I was also holding a wiggly baby and trying to feed him pureed green beans at the same time.  For like, two seconds, I was able shove some food into my mouth and think, "wow, this actually tastes pretty good." Then my brain was taken over again by mommying duties.

The ingredients of Bare Bones Marinade are clean and Healthy-Heather approved: Apple Cider Vinegar, Canola oil, Salt, Garlic, Poultry Seasoning, Onion Powder, Oregano, Thyme, Natural Vegetable Gums, Lemon Peel, White Pepper, and Caramel Color. Okay, so yes that is more than one ingredient, sue me. LOL There are 50 calories for a 2-tablespoon serving, which is more than enough for me.

When we unearth our bbq grill and actually do some outdoor cooking, I'm looking forward to using it again! Thanks to the Bare Bones gang for cooking it up and making it easy for me to get out there and get healthy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holiday Food Survival Guide (You don't have to eat all that)

We usually talk about holiday eating around Christmas, but it seems these days that every holiday has it's own baggage of sugar, just in different colors. I remember going to church on Easter as a kid with ziplocks crammed with chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and marshmallows, and then spending the rest of the day eating Reese's eggs until I wanted to throw up. And when they started making the Snickers and Milky Way eggs, it was even worse. I have eaten enough Easter candy through the course of my childhood to last a lifetime. I do not feel compelled to eat ANY anymore! 

But, even with candy aside, holidays seem to put us into some kind of trance where we convince ourselves that we need to bring out (and eat) the Special Food. And, that's cool if your Special Food is fruit salad and steamed veggies. But it's not. It's pound cake and spiral ham and potato salad. So, an updated version of my Holiday Survival Guide might make this weekend a little easier for the healthy folks.

Here's how to not face Monday from the murky depths of a calorie coma:

Anticipate hurdles and make a plan
If you're eating Easter dinner at home, it will be much easier to eat a healthy meal. But, if you're joining friends or family...
o   Volunteer to bring something (and make it something you can eat without stress)
o   Bring a bottle of water and keep it in your hands, refill throughout the day as necessary
o   Spend time socializing, not eating. 
o   Practice responses to people who pressure you to indulge.

Get stubborn
Sometimes maintaining a certain standard of health means just being stubborn. Channel your inner three-year-old and just say NO to people or events that hijack your plans.  No way, no how, no thank you.  It can feel awkward at first to turn down someone’s chocolate caramel goo-goo brownies with fudge icing, but trust me: they will get over it. In the meantime, you can use these Body Boosters to Increase Happiness Today.

Learn to say “no” creatively
Save the three-year-old routine for your internal dialogue, however.  When you’re confronted with something that is not on your plan, use positive language to redirect the attention away from your refusal to indulge.  Be sure to:
o   Express gratitude (thanks for offering!)
o   Acknowledge the effort (it is so thoughtful of you to make these for me!)
o   Suggest an alternative (I’m not hungry now, but I’ll look for it later.)

Remember – no one can force open your mouth and make you eat something.  Well, they can but they won’t.  Don’t engage in a debate over whether you “should” or “need to lose weight.”  It’s your decision.

If all else fails, tell them you are allergic. I've done it for years and it works great. :)

Get real about “special” food
We are lucky enough to live in a country where food is bountiful.  We have 24-7 access to Wal-Mart, which carries every vice you can eat.  Sure, your mom only makes that special cake for Easter Sunday, but what’s to stop you from making it in the middle of July?  There is no such thing as “limited time offer” when it comes to food. 

Instead of placing so much emphasis on the food traditions surrounding the holidays, create memories by interacting with your family in a new way that is not food-related.  Institute an annual after-dinner walk.  Break out the puzzles.  Just remember – people are a limited-time offer, not food.  Focus on the people.


Holidays are for celebrating! But, celebrations do not have to mean that your healthy goals get put on hold. You can maintain good nutrition and still celebrate! And, trust me, getting to the end of a holiday without feeling like the Sunday ham is definitely worth celebrating.

Don't eat Peeps. Don't eat jelly beans. Don't eat chocolate eggs, even the peanut butter ones and even the Snickers ones. Just don't.

But have a beautiful, joyous weekend. Get out there and get healthy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Plateau Busting Part Deux: Then What?

A little more on plateaus. 

So you've been sitting on your plateau for a few days now, enjoying the view and thinking nice thoughts, but eventually you probably look at your watch and are all, "okay Healthy Heather, I've been thinking on this stupid plateau for like three days now, what gives???" 

Chillax. There's more.

Plateaus are great for resetting our clocks and resting, but we don't want to hang there forever. To get things going again, we need to shake it up! Plateaus usually happen because our bodies have become accustomed to what we're doing. It's that annoying evolution in hyper mode. Just like our taste buds get with the healthy eating program faster than we expect (yay), our bodies find ways to adapt to our workouts and nutrition and make themselves more efficient (boo!). Efficient means conserving energy. Not burning it. Not losing weight.

So, wake up those lazy bones! A few ideas:

1. Add intensity, duration, frequency, or all three to your workout. If you run, try high intensity interval training. If you lift weights, change up your exercises and add weight or try something new like kettlebells. If you're in an exercise rut, sign up for a class that will be a change of scenery and pace. 

2. Cross train. Cross training means engaging in a different activity on a regular enough basis that your body doesn't easily adapt and is always kept guessing. It's what makes P90X so effective. 

3. Swap one processed food in your diet for something clean and natural. If you're already eating clean, try a few days of erratic calories. No, not a binge and fast cycle! But eat at maintenance for a few days, and then go back into a deficit. The object is to wake your body up from its nice happy comfortable nap and remind it that you were kind of working on something important before it dozed off. 

Plateaus can outstay their welcome. The rest is nice and the view can be refreshing, but we all want to get moving again before it becomes a permanent resting place. Try these tips to shake up your routine and, of course, get out there and get healthy!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't Waste a Good Plateau!

At the summit of Linville Falls in North Carolina! 


Ah, the thrill of the chase! Sometimes, it seems like that's what weight loss really is, doesn't it? We love the anticipation of losing the weight, and the chase - when the weight is coming off and we're high on endorphins - can't be beat. But then, we catch it. And it all stops. It isn't fun anymore. The magic is gone.

We hit a plateau.

But this is the best part! The way I see it, a plateau is our body's way of telling us to slow down, take stock of things, and retool. I know, sometimes it feels like it's our body's way to telling us that we suck and are doomed to carry those last five pounds forever, but I promise you that it's a good thing.

Think of it like a nature hike. Yeah, I'm still thinking about my recent trip to the mountains. :)  You know how when you're hiking, you come across a spot of beautiful scenery that you just have to stop and admire? You might take out your water, sit down and admire the view, rest your feet for a bit, and think about the trail that lies ahead. Or, you might think about other things entirely! It's your rest, so you can think about whatever you dang well please.

That's a plateau. A resting spot to reflect on how far you've come and where you want to go next. And you know that there are even better stops in store, because the higher you climb, the better the view.

Don't begrudge your plateau. Use it! Sit down, rest, reflect, and get ready for the next leg of your hike. Just make sure that while you do, you don't take steps backwards. Having to retrace them later is a major pain.

If you're on a plateau, enjoy it: take a picture, rest your tired self, and refuel so you can get out there and get healthy!