Monday, September 5, 2011

V8 and Other Fruit or Veggie Drinks Tell Us to Sip Away But We Say Otherwise

Here, we’re all about getting the most out of anything we do. If we only have 20 minutes for a workout we are going to PUSH IT and wrench out from every second just as much sweat as we possibly can. If we’re going to refuel we’re going to do so with the right kind of carbs, whole grains, the good Omega fats, and make sure we pair it with protein.

When we sleep, we’re going to sleep hard; making it a priority because we KNOW just how vital it is for overall health and mental clarity and also that it will get us in our best possible shape. Here, we’re all about getting the most bang for your buck.

So, when it comes to fruits and veggies, here is where we stand: eat them…don’t drink them. Now, of course, if it’s a choice between guzzling some V8 and nothing at all, by all means go for the former. And of course the brand has been making a big marketing push to get you to do so, but if you’ve read up on some of our previous posts you probably can already guess our bottom line: why drink your calories?

Staying hydrated is essential and that means more than water; we’ve covered this plenty in the past and you need electrolytes as well. Today there is a myriad of calorie free or low calorie options available. Most fruit drinks, vegetable drinks, smoothies, and the like are not low calories. Many of them include a ton of excess sugar you don’t need either. 

The other thing about drinks is that they don’t register on the ‘fullness’ scale like actual food does. Drinks might fill you up for about as long as it takes for them to work their way through you, but when you hit the restroom you’re left just as hungry. In countless studies, people who drink their calories tend to eat just as many calories in food as they would have without the drinks.

That means those drink calories are just ‘extra’ calories that add up to poundage on your body later. Why drink the equivalent of a serving or two of fruits and veggies when you could eat them and get even more benefits.

Take the apple. If you ate an apple as a snack I’m sure you’d feel full and it would tide you over until your next meal. If instead you drank one serving of fruit juice, a measly 8 ounces, you wouldn’t feel full and then would likely reach for something else to fill you up. Sure that slogan may tout that “Fruits and vegetables fill you up without filling you out,” but it doesn’t exactly work that way when you’re ingesting them in liquid form.
Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories, use that to your advantage. If we think of them in terms of volume, noshing away on these healthy foods is a great way to fill yourself up without ingesting a ton of calories. 

So why ‘waste’ those calories in replacement drinks when you can actually eat them…use those fruits and veggies to your advantage! :)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer's Over...Here's How to Make the Return to Reality a Little Easier

Did you hear that, the ending of summer? That alarm buzzing at you can feel like a fast, hard sucker punch to the face, so if you’re stuck hitting the snooze button once, twice, three time’s a charm, we have some tips that will help you get back on track, fit, and healthy as you return to that regular routine.

Hopefully you were able to get out and make the most of your summer while it was in full swing, go on a relaxing vacation, a fun getaway, or at least enjoy some time off from work. Cherish those times but of course they can make going back to whatever is waiting a little less appealing. Getting back to your regular eating and workout routine can sometimes be tough too; well, we helped you with ways to stay fit while out vacationing and luckily some of those things can carry over here as well.

*Get Organized: Once you’re all unpacked and home start doing all the things around the house as you normally would. Get right back to cooking up those healthy meals, hitting the gym at your regular hours, the sooner you start the easier it will be and there’s no time like the present. If you’ve got a few days left before going back to the office take the time to get a jumpstart to getting back on track.

*Get Prepared: The night before you have to report in, make getting up as easy as possible. Working out first thing in the morning is ideal; you get it done, it will give you plenty of energy and make you more productive at work, and you won’t have any excuses that come up later. Lay out your clothes, have your bag packed and ready to go, even go so far as to have a quick and handy breakfast pre-packed and ready for you after. That way you can be up and out the door in a dash!

*Get Packing: Remember how we said it’s smart to pack snacks and lunches while on vaca? Well, the same rule apply here. You don’t want to wait until you’re overly famished at work or on the go that makes you dive at the first edible thing you see. Instead, take time the night before to put some carrots or almonds in a baggie, make a healthy turkey sandwich, and don’t forget to stay hydrated with water or electrolyte water!

*Get to Bed: Skimping on zzzz’s is one of the worst things that the majority of people are guilty of. Not only for fitness’ sake but overall health; fitness wise though it stagnates muscle repair and growth and will leave you feeling drained. It also isn’t doing your mental clarity any favors. It might seem like you just ‘can’t’ put that file away and it’s easy to get sucked into distractions, but you need go to bed. Set an alarm that reminds you it’s time to power down and tuck in.

*Get Realistic: Accept that yes, it might be rough those first couple of days, you might have to force yourself to get up and get that sweat session in, but once you get over the hump you’ll slip right back to your healthy habits of before. Soon enough that alarm won’t feel as early, the workday not as grueling, and the healthier fare food ever more appealing!

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kids Aren't Getting Active, Americans Putting on Weight - Do I Need Studies to Tell Me This?!

In scanning some recent health and fitness news releases, I find a headline that informs me that a ‘new study’ proves many children are not getting enough exercise. Ummm, duh? Do we really need another study to state the obvious? And are people still funding these studies instead of actually taking proactive measures to get these kids moving?
This particular study came by way of the YMCA, tracked kids from 5-10 from over 1,600 American families. The results were that 58% of these youngsters were not getting outside to play for at least four days a week. The reason for this was cited that the parents kept the kids inside to spend time at the computer or with the TV instead.
“Among the factors you could blame are technology, time and money,” explains the YMCA’s US Director of Chronic Disease Prevention, Dr. Matt Longjohn. “There are many small things that make it very difficult for families to get an hour of physical activity a day.”
That sounds very familiar to the same kind of excuses adults are using to shirk a sweat session. We’ve tackled, answered, and busted those excuses before and making fitness a priority goes for people of all ages. Sure, schools cutting programs makes it harder but that doesn’t mean you have to cut out any kind of exercise…there are 24 hours in a day.
Families can workout together or at least during the same time, and if you don’t have an hour then make that shorter workout more intense. Doing intervals will take you less time but you can get the same, sometimes better, results than a moderate effort lasting twice as long.
It also comes down to parents setting the example of fitness being fun and an important part of a healthy life. We can revisit our tribute to moms for that one and read a few of their pointers.
I’m amazed sometimes at what the ‘results’ from these studies are, and that they make it to headline status. Not long ago there was one that issued this late-breaking alert: Americans are putting on weight, latest study reports that it is most likely due to increased portion sizes.
Does that one even warrant a response? :)

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Surviving the Buffet Line -- Tips for Staying Sane While Eating on Vacation

In our summer vacation series we’ve covered how to still fit in those workouts while out traveling and we’ve also shared that it’s okay to sometimes take a break from regimented workouts, but it’s a good idea to still make that time an active rest. This time we’ll talk about the big F word. No, not that one: Food. 

Food on vacation, do images of colossal buffets come to mind? The BEST burgers and fries  that are the width of rulers? How about ice cream mountains swimming in hot fudge and caramel? Are you drooling on your computer, if so I’m sorry. Let’s face it, one of the biggest draws of many tourist destinations is the grub, the restaurant business loves it and heck, the people there dining are fans too. We live in a society where food is often a major focal point and usually when we are on vacation that is a prime opportunity to experience new foods from different areas and cultures.

This isn’t a bad thing and in fact some of the best memories from a vacation can be food related. Now, some people take that to the extreme and see their break as a no holds bar food-fest and take it to an unhealthy level. Savoring a slice of cheesecake is one thing, wolfing down half the cake and never really tasting much of it is another.

And let’s face it, plenty of summer destinations include sun, sand, surf, and swimsuits, you don’t want to completely wreck havoc on that bikini bod! Here are some tips for still allowing yourself to take full advantage and giving your palette a much deserved vacation while still staying reasonably sane and healthy.

*Take inventory. If you’re at a buffet, do a lap around the spread first before you start filling your plate. That way you can choose the items that you truly want instead of filling up on some so-so things before going back and seeing that you missed out on your favorite foods. 

*Weigh the options. Are you a big dessert person and think of the entrée as merely an obstacle to get through on your dive for the sweets? If so, that’s fine and there is certainly no reason to feel guilty on getting your dessert on. But, if you do plan on that maybe choose a lighter entrée and then indulge in that dessert sans guilt.

*Get menu savvy. Know what you’re ordering and if you don’t, then ask. How many times have you ordered something thinking it was one thing and wind up getting something totally different? Do you then grudgingly dig into something you don’t really like and regret it? Feel like you ‘wasted’ your bite…and potentially calories? Ask your waiter what something is if you need to and if you’re in a different country don’t feel too embarrassed if you have to have it explained a second time.

*Enjoy it, don’t turn into the wolfman. Make sure that whatever you’re eating you are actually liking the taste of. Savor those bites. If you’re not, why force yourself to finish it? If it’s a ‘meh’ experience maybe just take a pass and find something that really makes your taste buds sizzle. You don’t want to wind up feeling overly stuffed and then think back on how you didn’t even really like that shrimp scampi to begin with.

*Packing eats. When you’re out and on the go it’s easy to forget to eat something before you are at the point of being famished. Then it’s even easier to gobble down the first thing that’s remotely appealing and usually on the greasy side. So plan accordingly and pack some snacks or even a lunch or two to enjoy between kayak lessons or site seeing. Not only will you save a little money but you’ll be doing your hungry belly a favor too.

*Ditch the ‘guilt’ hitch-hiker. Finally, give yourself the liberty to cut loose on the whole diet thing. If you’re in some far off country how many times will you get a chance to eat that certain something, maybe never. Don’t pass up on the experience solely because you’re sticking to a diet; in all honesty it takes a whole 3,500 calories to gain a single pound of actual fat. Worst case scenario, you come back a little heavier; that’s okay you can always ‘undo’ that by working out a little harder upon your return!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Starbucks Survival Guide- Your Drink of Choice's Dirty Little Calorie Counts

If you’re like most people, your day doesn’t actually start until you’ve had your coffee, or at least you’re not ready to face the world yet. Coffee has become more than a beverage in our fine Nation, it’s almost the lifeline that keeps us going…I worry should Starbucks come up with a way to IV it straight into us. 

Ahhh, Starbucks, it only took me two sentences to get to it. Starbucks and coffee, yes there are competing chains out there and people are almost scarily loyal to them, but let’s face it Starbucks is heckbent on taking over the World. They have that corner in the grocery store, another one in the bookstore, AND of course the regular old chain all in the same shopping center.

Now coffee, if you sip it straight black has between 0 and 5 calories per cup. Not bad you say, let’s guzzle it down like water. But hold up, who drinks it straight black? I’m sure if you stepped to the counter and asked for that you’d be greeted with one fine about face by the barista. Sure you could add a couple of Splendas and only be raising the caloric stats by 5 per pack, but for the most part a typical Starbucks order takes a minute to rattle off. 

You might be shocked though to learn that if you order a Venti Caffé Vanilla Frap Blended Coffee as is you could be chugging down 580 calories! That’s before you even actually eat anything for the day! Mindless sipping can lead to major weight gain and the thing about drink calories is that they don’t register the same way as actual food ones. They count in the sense that the body will store them as fat if they aren’t burned off, but they don’t make you feel full like food would. That means you’ll be just as hungry come lunchtime.
Here’s a quick Starbucks Survival Guide to fuel your day but not your waistline:

*Don’t Overload the Extra’s: Read that as the heavy whip, the creamers, full fat milk, and the like. Of course you don’t have to have your coffee bland, but be selective and also go for the lower-fat versions.

*Sprinkle Me This, Straw Me That: Yes, chocolate rocks, not going to lie, but those cutie sprinkles and swirls on top don’t get a free pass on the calorie counts. Darn, same goes for caramel sauce and cookie straws.

*Seasonal Beverages: These come and go and with seasonal drinks Starbucks isn’t necessarily forced to post up the nutrition stats (they’re even cagey with full disclosure on the regular menu), but the same rules apply with everything else. Look at what is in it and use your calorie know-how. Case in point, a Venti Mocha Coconut Frap has 550 cals and 18 grams of fat. Even a Tall Frap version still with the whip and nonfat milk will set you back 9 grams of fat and 300 cals.

*Tea It Baby: Tea is also 5 calories or below per cup if you don’t add anything to it, and certain ones will still offer you the caffeine kick. Just something to think about, but also remember to keep in mind the calories of anything you add to it, not all tea drinks are created equal.

*Size Matters: This should be a no-brainer, but keep in mind that a single serving of any liquid is a cup, 8 ounces. Starbucks size-wise that means a Grande is actually two cups, with 16 ounces, so look at the ounces and do the math when you order.

Quickie Skyhigh Stats:

  • White Chocolate Mocha (Venti/whole milk/whipped cream)– 620 cals 27 grams of fat
  •  Double Choc Chip Frap (Grande/whipped cream)—640 cals 22 grams of fat
  • Caffe Mocha (Venti/whole milk/whipped cream)--450 cals 22 grams of fat
  • Cinnamon Dolce Latte (Grande/whole milk/whipped cream)—370 cals and 17 grams of fat
  • Tazo Green Tea Frap Blended Crème (Grande/whipped cream)—490 cals 14 grams of fat – proof teas can be dangerous too

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Day The World Was Taken Over by 100 Calorie Snacks - Are They Worth it?

So are all those 100 calorie snacks inundating the supermarkets worth it? Well, yes and no. Yes because it is a nice way to enjoy some of your favorite foods in a small, portioned control version…and let’s face it staying on track with a tiny pouch of Milanos is way easier than cracking open the full sized version!

These small servings can also act as a startling wake-up call: “THIS is what a single serving looks like, are you joking me?!” The bad news is that many of these snacks are 1) super expensive and 2) are able to be devoured in about two bites.

The idea behind the 100 calorie craze is a sound theory, but typically the varieties are of chips, cookies, sweets, and other high calorie treats shrunk down to Munchin size. So that means that they will give you a nice taste of the foods but they probably won’t fill you up all that much. Cut to about three or four empty snack pouches littering your desk.

The other drawback is that often times faux foods, or ones that are the fat-free or sugar-free replacements, can cause you to eat more of them, both mentally and biologically. Mentally you can sometimes justify eating more because they are ‘fat-free’ but that doesn’t mean they are calorie-free or that because they are a few grams of fat less you can wolf them down by the truckload. Chemically these foods are also broken down differently by the body and can cause some whacky brain signals to be sent to your from your stomach; you might not be registering fullness or satiety the same.

Finally, prices…let’s be realistic and admit that most of us are on a budget. Portion control is really what these 100 calorie things come down to and if you want to do the same (actually this is a great technique to keep you on the right track regardless) just bust out some plastic baggies and get to measuring. Check the nutritional stats of whatever food it is you want to eat and measure out a calorie specific amount. You just made what Nabisco or Doritos wanted to sell you in a slicked out version for the cost of a Ziplock. :)

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Tips for Fitting in Those Workouts During Vacation

Not everyone ditches the gym when it’s vacation time, myself included. Though, it can be tricky sometimes making sure that your own workout agenda doesn’t get in the way of plans or leave the other members of your party grumbling. In following up to our last post on fitness during vacations, here are ways to make sure your exercise routine gets done without cramping anyone’s style.

*Up already? Yes, sleeping in is one great luxury many people look forward to when they have a break from the usual everyday commitments, but if you’re dedicated to your workout one of the best times to get your sweat session in is first thing in the morning. Not only will this ensure that you actually DO get it done (that run doesn’t seem so appealing after a full day of tacos and mimosas does it?) but it also means your fitness routine doesn’t affect anyone else…chances are they’re still sleeping.

*Band together. You know that saying about strength in numbers, well the same applies here. If you’re on vacation with another fitness fanatic, that makes staying dedicated to your sweat session will be easier. Not only do you not have to worry about explaining to people who ‘don’t get it’ and question why you’d want to workout, but having another like minded person around also helps each of you stay committed if exercise motivation ever starts to wane.

*Scope it out beforehand. Do a little research before you take off, find out if the hotel you’re staying at has a fitness facility on site. If not, then do a little Google search and look for the nearest gym for you to use. If you’re planning on running outside, look at the surrounding areas and find a good, safe route for you to hit up or maybe even some trails.

*Be practical. Be realistic with yourself and what your schedule allows. If you’ve got less time than allows for your ‘usual’ routine that’s okay and squeeze in as much as you can. Combine cardio and strength elements into your workout and make the most out of every minute…that means intervals and intensity are you friend.

*Bring on the buffets. Let’s be honest, lots of vacations include awesome food and who wants to miss out on that?! What better way to deter too much bulge from calorie onslaught than by working out? This tip is more like an incentive to get up when that alarm goes off and hit the gym. :)

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