Monday, December 7, 2009

The Healthy Girl's Guide to Surviving Finals Week

As I round off my last year of college I realize I have acquired a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to the art of cramming for finals week. I have done it all; pulled the almighty caffeine-induced all-nighter, ordered take-out to the library for a straight week, I even experienced a full-blown breakdown, much to the entertainment of my fellow peers. Through trial and error I have done just about everything you could possibly think of that you’re NOT supposed to do when studying for finals. Consequently, process of elimination has left me with the ultimate survival guide of the CORRECT things to do to prepare for the dreaded week from hell. Many of these tips seem like no-brainers and under normal circumstances, they are, however we all know that even simple tasks become complicated when your mind is on overhaul.

1. Exercise- I know it is the absolutely last thing you feel like you can squeeze in but trust me, it will help you tremendously to stay focused, increase efficiency, decrease fatigue and insure you don’t go completely insane. When your body is at rest for an extended period of time it goes into “sleep” mode. I’m not saying you need to do a two-hour marathon session at the gym. Simple things that you can do interspersed between studying for a few minutes at a time. Get up every so often and stretch, walk up and down the stairs, get a drink of water, do anything that will get your blood pumping trough your body again.

2. Eat- This is the perfect opportunity for you to test out the small five meal a day rule. Have a healthy breakfast right when you wake up, even if you’re not hungry this is the fuel you are giving your body that will determine your energy level for the rest of the day/night. Eggs, oatmeal, and fruit are all great options. Pack a little baggie of grapes, nuts, yogurt, an apple, etc. These are all great, easy-to-grab options that you can eat while your reading/writing/memorizing whatever. Pack a lunch item as well, a turkey sandwich on wheat is a great option. Be sure to take an “eating” break every 3-4 hours. So if you eat breakfast at 7 have your first snack at 10, lunch at noon and so on. Dinner you should take a significant break and either head home to make a nice healthy meal or go out with friends (order something with substance). You feed your body healthy things to build muscle in much the same way you feed your body healthy things to feed your brain to gain the mental energy it needs to persevere through this week. (P.S stay faaaaar away from fast food, Chinese take-out, pizza delivery, etc. These foods are filled with fat, carbs and sugar that will spike your energy for a millisecond then leave you feeling tired, sick, bored and fat! See the documentary Super Size Me if you don't believe me!!)

3. Time management- Who cares if you don’t have any finals until Thursday, get started early so you can get the adequate amount of sleep and eliminate the stress of cramming and procrastination. It sounds elementary but if you physically write out each day and work for 2 hours or so on each subject by the end of the week you will have accomplished more than you would have ever imagined and in a much less stressful manner than doing all of one subject the night before.

4. Drink up- A lot of us rely on caffeine but studies show that by staying hydrated (caffeine dehydrates, fyi) you will actually suffer less from fatigue. Caffeine works for a few hours but the adverse effects are detrimental. If you were tired before, the crash that results from caffeine will make you feel ten times worse than how you felt before. Keep a water bottle next to you the entire time and remember to sip on it constantly. The frequent trips to the bathroom will work towards your two minute bout of exercise to get your blood flowing again….see how this is all coming together?!?!

5. Sleep- I know pulling an all-nighter is tempting but it is actually the worst thing you could possibly do, especially if you are studying for a test the next day. There is such a thing as overworking your mind, much like how you can overwork your muscles in the gym. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is key to a stress-free week. Don’t ignore the signs your body is giving you, if it is done for the night, pack it in and pick up where you left off in the morning. This will be easy to do if you have managed your time and started early. See how these pieces are fitting together
so nicely? Brilliant, I know!!

Happy studies to all, just remember, we get to go home soon and do absolutely NOTHING for almost an entire month after this!!! As Vicki from Real Housewives would say, WOO HOO!! (Yes I watch that trash T.V, not even ashamed to admit it!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Fav Healthy Tips for the Everyday Kinda Girl

Let’s be honest, who has the time, patience or desire to weigh out your food to get the precise portion? Or who honestly can stick to eating five small meals a day without over indulging at least once? And seriously, who drinks the daily recommended amount of water a day? I compiled some of my real life do-able tips to staying healthy and being able to maintain it.

Let’s talk H2O- first of all, I hate the taste (or lack there of) of water but it’s the only thing I drink. I haven’t drank pop in lord knows how long and I hate how juice is so packed with sugar. To counter my dislike for the taste and to get my daily recommended dose (or close to it) I do whatever I can to choke it down. I love crystal light to-go packets, they come in a wide variety of flavors and are low carb, low cal, and zero sugar. I also sip down at least one cup of tea every day.

A Veggie a meal equals abs of steal- I have said many times that what you do at the dinner table has more to do with your six-pack than what you do in the gym. It is suggested that you should consume 5-9 servings of veggies a day!!! Most college students are lucky to get 1-2 and those are usually coated in a creamy dressing or deep fried and battered. I love birdseye frozen veggie packages that you can just pop in the micro.

Pack a healthier snack- I always carry little baggies of almonds/soy nuts/dried fruit, etc in my purse and school bag so I never get too hungry which leads to binging. A piece of fruit that travels well like apples, plums and bananas are great filler-upper snacks that can tide you over in between classes and keeps your metabolism revved throughout the day.

If you’re going to talk the talk, ya might as well walk the walk- I really try not to take the bus or drive to class. I strive to get the recommended 10,000 steps a day with help from my new pedometer, of which I fondly refer to as my pedi :) You would be amazed at how many calories you actually burn just by walking, it’s easy, gym-free and you get to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous tress that makes fall so pleasurable!

Sleep your way slim- is the all too sought after pleasure that so many college students lack and underestimate its importance, SLEEEEEEP! Not getting enough rest throws your body systems off putting stress on your body. Stress automatically releases the hormone cortisol (aka fat) as a safety mechanism. So even though you have a million things to do, taking even a 20 min nap clears your head and is actually a very productive way to keep yourself healthy!

Breakfast of champions- this might be the most commonly skipped yet the most important healthy tip of all. So many students roll out of bed after hitting snooze one-too-many-times and run out the door on an empty stomach. Big no-no! Even if your not hungry when you first wake up it is so important to eat a big healthy breakfast like eggs and whole wheat toast, or oatmeal, or a cup of yogurt and fruit. You need to fuel your body in order to burn calories (and by “fuel” I don’t mean sugar laden cereals)!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The End of Overeating

Ever hear yourself saying “sure, I could make this at home, but it just tastes better at a restaurant!” Unfortunately this isn’t just your mind playing tricks on you, it actually does taste better. The food industry has spent millions of dollars in research to figure out how to make us eat and not stop. David Kessler breaks the silence in his book The End of Overeating. He explains how the combination of sugar, fat and salt make food completely irresistible. He also explains how restaurants have taken this formula and layer every item of food multiple times with these three ingredients in order to keep us coming back for more. Meanwhile, our waistlines, blood pressure, and overall health are paying the price.

Our food is so heavily processed that the food industry has to increase the level of chemicals, artificial flavors and harmful processing techniques to keep us satisfied. Food that is in its original form is now tasteless and unsatisfying due to this conditioning and high expectation of flavor, via sugar, fat and salt. To make matters worse the food industry has found that “by eliminating the need to chew, modern food processing techniques allow us to eat faster,” according to Kessler. So now our food is being chopped up made soft in order for us to have the ability to wolf it down faster than we our brains can process.

I’m only halfway through the book (I blame the delay on midterms) but so far it has been so eye opening, I just had to share it with you asap! I’ll post Kessler’s suggestions to overcome these obstacles and find your way to The End of Overeating!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just a Few of my Favorite Things

Ms. Poppins could’tve have said it better herself! Now these are just a few of my favorite things that keep me on track to a healthier lifestyle.

Pedometer- I bought one these the other day for under $10 and it’s my new fav gadget! I clip it on in the morning and it calculates how many steps I take throughout the day. I keep track on a calendar and it has been my own little personal challenge to get more steps from one day to the next. I take the stairs more, walk to class everyday and it all adds up!

Calorie counter-If you are ever curious how many calories is in a certain food this website: tells you exactly how many calories is in thousands of different food items, even down to the different ways it can be prepared. It also tracks your daily calorie, protein, carb and fat intake along with your exercise and how long it will take you to reach your fitness and/or nutrition goals!

SPIbelt- Attention all runners, this thing is amaaazing! It’s basically a tiny fanny pack that stretch to fit your cell phone, keys, GU, ID, whatever you need and it doesn’t weigh you down!

Eat this, not that- I literally carried this book in my purse like a bible for the last two years! There are several versions now, the two I really like are the original and the supermarket version.

iPhone apps- For all of you iPhoner’s out there check out these new apps:

1. Lose it (free)- you can enter your daily food intake and exercise info and this app will tell you the date you will reach your goal weight.

2. iSteps ($2.99)- this turns your phone into a pedometer which calculates the distance you cover walking in one day.

3. Nutrition Menu Calorie Counter ($2.99)- This app gives the nutritional facts at 337 U.S and Canadian restaurants.

4. Dietician ($9.99)- This app tracks your calorie intake and create meal plans, recipes, and grocery lists for you.

5. Fitness Builder (19.99)- This app actually allows you to choose from over 400 different workouts that come with videos.

EnviroSax- This nifty environmentally friendly bag has come in handy everywhere! The best thing about it is it rolls up to the size of my palm so it fits easily in my purse but it can hold soooo much stuff! They come in many different colors and cute patterns. Mine is pink with flying pigs J Get yours today at

Nike+ Shoe & Sensor System- This was so handy when I was training for my half marathon. There is a little chip in the bottom of one of the those and a connector piece that goes into your iPod. It then tracks and keeps record of miles, calories burned, pace and time it took.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lots’O Veggies

It has been brought to my attention that my veggie intake has been on the decline lately. I just don’t seem to have the patience, creativity or desire for them anymore. So the Veggie Rejuvenation Project was born. My goal is to incorporate a veggie into 3-4 out of 5 of my small meals a day, using herbs, spices and the oven –gasp-- (dun dun dunnnn)

My first assignment: Kale

I sautéed fresh kale in a pan with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once it was crispy I added a dash of crushed red pepper flakes and much to my surprise it was pretty good! I ate it with hummus and chicken breast to round out the meal.

Next I ventured into Brussels sprouts, Quinoa, and Zucchini. Yup, I’m going for the guttural. Go big or go home, right?

I cut the spouts in half, arranged them on a pan. Then I mixed olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and poured it over the sprouts. I set the oven to 400 degrees and cooked them for 30-40 mins. I sprinkled some parmessan cheese on top to add a little extra falvor!

And in honor of this ridiculously premature winter Mother Nature so graciously bestowed upon us, I picked up a succulent organic acorn squash at the local health food store.

I cut the squash in half (hot dog style- circa kindergarten class folding paper) and scooped out the seeds. I poured maple syrup (sugar free of course) a spray of butter flavoured pam and a pinch of S&P. I set the two halves on a pan filled with a little bit of water so the skin didn’t stick to the pan and put it in the oven for an hour and 15 mins. Once it cooled I scooped the contents out into a bowl and added cranberries and almonds. It was absolutely DELISH!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pizza Pizza, Read All About It

I have searched high and low, near and far for the healthiest pizza known to (wo)man, because lord knows, a girls gotta eat some pizza in her life and not feel guilty about it!!

Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

1. Always opt for thin crust over thick and you’ll be saving yourself a lot of unnecessary calories and starchy carbs.

2. Load on the veggies and lay off the meat. Obviously if you can sneak in some healthy toppings it’s better than nothing.

3. Order a salad first and try to fill up on that before you dive head first into the real deal, an average slice of pizza is about 300 calories and 11 grams of fat a pop, and we all know how hard it is to stop after just one…

4. If you have the option order whole wheat crust over white, you’ll get an extra dose of fiber and feel full on less.

5. Wash it down with water rather than a Coke. The sugar in pop will spike your insulin and make you want to eat more, not to mention sugar turns to fat increasing your caloric intake. Needless to say, water is 0 cals, 0 sugar, 0 g fat and 0 can fill up on this curbing your appetite so by half time of the game you’re a half a pizza deep!

* Pizza Fit n’ free- These little guys are fat free, sugar free and come in the appropriate serving size so it makes it harder to overdo it. They are considered a “cheat” food so having some veggies on the side wouldn’t hurt you. You have to order them online but at $19.49 for six I say why not?

* Amy’s frozen no cheese pizza, add your own veggies- I sautéed spinach and mushrooms and sprinkled on my own low fat mozzarella cheese and saved myself a lot of calories without sacrificing the taste.

* Make it yourself! This is the only sure-fire way it will be as healthy (and tasty) as it can be. You can buy a whole wheat pita, marinara sauce (mixed with pesto and chopped basil), low fat cheese, veggies and spices at the store and whip up your own pizza pie! It’s a fun thing to do with your significant other, friends or family.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Miso Soup Project

If college offered a Major in competitive eating, I would have a 4.0. In an effort to slow down my super-sonic speed eating habit I have decided to test out The Miso Soup Project. My mom actually suggested this one to me. Since Miso soup is low cal and low carb it’s a great way to fill up on mostly water and stave off a man-sized hunger so you can eat like a classy lady should. So far it has been very effective. I have a bowl of soup, wait 20 minutes then have my meal. It gives my slow processing brain time to realize I’m full so I don’t overeat (a chronic problem of mine, check out my post Confessions of a Binge Eater). I have tried soooo many things to solve this issue, I even talked to a Doc about it! He said it is a psychological thing and I need to re-train my brain to slow down and banish my lifelong membership to the CPC (clean plate club). I blame it on those 20 minute speed lunches we had in lower school, I hardly had time to get my food (much less eat it) before we had to go! My rents weren’t too bad about finishing everything on my plate but I just feel bad when I waste food, I’m trying the ingenious trick of taking less food to being with....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Be Grocery Store Savvy

What you do at the dinner table actually has more influence on your waist line than what you do in the gym. Of course a combination of diet and exercise is idea but let’s be honest, with the busy college lifestyle sometimes that’s just not possible. So if you have to sacrifice one, skip the gym and eat a healthy meal with appropriate serving sizes. But as I said in earlier posts “eating healthy” is hard to do with all of the gimmicks and false advertising we see on the shelves. Here are a few tricks to avoid those traps the food industry looooves to catch us in:

1. Beware of deceiving labels- When a product has “Low Fat”, “Fat Free”, “33% less fat” splashed all over the box you tend to think it’s diet friendly. That leads us to think we can have more of them. What these products save in grams of fat may make up for ten-fold in serving size and the amounts of sugar and carbs. Also beware of the serving size. Those tasty little “100 calorie” snacks or drinks may be 100 calories for half of the bottle. When you drink the whole thing you’re looking at 200 empty liquid calories you unknowingly consumed.

2. Eat This, Not That Supermarket Survival Guide- I actually carry this book in my purse when I shop. You would be surprised how different brands of the same kinds of food are significantly different when it comes to the nutritional facts. Pick this book up at any bookstore, it will be one of the best purchases you make!

3. Go organic and/or local- They may be more expensive but they contain no pesticides or fertilizers and some studies show organic has a higher concentration of nutrients. Buying local means it didn’t get handled several times picking up bacteria on its way into your refrigerator. Buying organic also promotes biodiversity and minimizing pollution so you’re helping yourself and the environment at the same time!

4. Shop the perimeter- The less packaging and processing a food item goes through, in general means it’s the healthiest. Fruits, veggies, dairy, and meats are all located on the edges of a supermarket. You should stay away from the items in boxes, bags, or cans which are mostly composed of by-products, eliminating the nutritional value.

5. Save the earth one plastic bag at a time- One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone gets one item and gets a plastic bag to carry it to the car!! Buy the “green” bags for $.99 at any grocery store and keep them in your car. They are a lot stronger so you can fit more stuff in them and you have done your part for the environment for the day!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Science Behind Overeating

David Kessler explains why we overeat and provides the science to back up his theory in his book, The End of Overeating. Food acts in similar ways to many people as drugs and alcohol do to addicts. It stimulates the pleasure center in our brain releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that releases messages that trigger the sensation of pleasure. Kessler says that when rats were tested sugar alone was a prime driving force, but when combined with fat, the rats worked much harder to get to it. He says this makes sense since the sugar spikes the dopamine and the fat stimulates more brain activity making it seem irresistible. This presents a huge problem because in the last 20 years or so, food companies have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled the sugar and fat in many products. If you go back to comparing food to drugs, the more you take, the more your body gets addicted to that amount. So what was “normal” 20 years ago would taste bland to us now. We have developed such a high tolerance for sugar and fat that just the sight of an ooy-gooy chocolate chip cookie gets our mouths watering.

Kessler outlines 7 tips for your “Food Rehab”: (From nutrition action health letter)

1. Replace chaos with structure. Determine ahead of time what you’ll eat for meals and snacks. Block out everything else.

2. Practice just-right eating. Figure out how much food you need. (Odds are less than you think.) Put it on your plate and don’t go back for seconds.

3. Pick foods that will satisfy, not stimulate you. What satisfies you is personal, but try foods that occur in nature, like whole grains, beans, non-starchy vegetables, and fruit, combined with lean protein and a small amount of healthy fat. (think avocados, almonds, etc.)

4. Rehearse. Anticipate your moves like an elite athlete before a competition. Tell yourself, “I know there will be cake at this party, but I’m going walk right past it.”

5. Seize control. Stay alert to emotional stressors or other stimuli that trigger automatic behavior. Recognize emotions that might lead you to overeat.

6. Stop that thought. Change the channel, go for a walk, look something up online. Turn off the image of the trigger food before you start to debate whether to eat it.

7. Think negative. Pair the unhealthy food with a stream of unappealing images. Chocolate covered olives, ketchup and peppercorn chocolate get the idea.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Truth About Multigrain

The word “multi-grain” may sound like a healthy option for bread products but don’t be fooled. Multigrain simply means there is more than one type of refined grain in the product. If you check out the ingredients, you will most likely find at the top of the list “refined white flour”. Even though the food bread looks brown (thanks to food coloring), you might as well be eating Wonder bread. Just when you think you are making healthy choices, the food industry tricks you again! Frustrating I know, but the more educated you become about these products, the less likely food companies will be able to make these short cuts. To gain the optimum amount of healthy grains, make sure the product says 100% whole grain. Without the 100% label the FDA only requires that the product contains some whole grains.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nothing Says Summer Like a Smoothie!

One of the healthiest and tastiest snacks can be a smoothie. It’s a great way to pack in your daily serving of fruit. Store bought smoothies are very deceiving (as usual) and can actually set you back almost 500 calories! I made an awesome smoothie with:

  • 0% Fage Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Silk soy milk
  • One scoop of why protein
  • A handful of spinach (you can’t taste it)
  • Several cut up strawberries
  • Half of a banana
  • Ice cubes

While my smoothie has only the healthiest ingredients smoothies like the Naked banana Chocolate Protein has as much sugar as FIVE Breyers Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches, 70g!! This is when learning to read the nutrition label can save you. If you’re still confused check out page 271 in Eat This, Not That Supermarket Survival Guide Edition. This book will give you the low down on everything from cereal to canned fruit.

But if you are looking for a new mid-afternoon healthy snack that you can look forward to, whip up your own smoothie. You can get creative with it too, add some low sugar juice like Bolthouse Farms strawberry banana (eat this, not that approved!) or throw in a teaspoon of almond butter with chocolate whey protein. The options are endless!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mom, Where’s the Meat Loaf!!!

Aww Wedding Crashers, what a great flick, but seriously, my mom did make the best (and healthiest) meatloaf and bean salad last night! Call me a nerd, but I find it highly entertaining to take an otherwise off-limits meal and turn it into a nutritional masterpiece. There are so many healthy swaps you can make to a recipe that nothing is off limits, that includes meatloaf! (recipes based off of Fitness magazine’s “the last bite” and “recipe makeover” with subtle changes)

· 1 pound lean ground turkey

· 1 cup cooked brown lentils

· 2 cups packed spinach leaves, steamed, drained, and chopped

· 1 cup of finely diced red peppers, green peppers, celery and onion

· ¼ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

· ¼ teaspoon chopped garlic

· ¼ cup of parmesan cheese

· 1 large egg

· Seasonings to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a pan and sauté veggies (except spinach) over medium heat. In a large bowl, break up turkey then add cooked veggies, parmesan, broth and the egg. Next add the lentils and mix everything together. Add spinach and mix again. Spray cooking spray in a 3-by-8 pan and push the meat down in the pan. Bake for about 35 minutes, cool and enjoy!

To pack even more veggies into this meal my mom paired it with a bean salad:

1 red bell pepper (halved and seeded)

· 1 yellow pepper (halved and seeded)

· 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

· 1 pound green beans (trimmed)

· 2 15 - 16 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

· 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

· Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly brush pepper halves with extra virgin olive oil and grill for 8 to 10 minutes. When thoroughly cooked, cool and cut into bite-size strips. Meanwhile cook green beans until crisp and tender, drain and let cool in cold water. Finally, mix peppers, green beans, cannellini beans, capers in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the veggies, cool and serve. (129 calories, 5 g protein, 18 g carbs, 5 g fat, 5 g fiber)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Read it and Weep- Decoding Nutrition Labels

The key to healthy eating is learning how to decode nutrition labels. Food companies use popular claims and eye-catching promises that are deceiving if not entirely untrue. Just because a product says “organic”, “fat-free”, “sugar-free”, etc. does not mean it is healthy. Usually in order for those claims to be true, the makers had to sacrifice something else like higher processed carbs or calories making it worse for you than if you went for the original! The point is reading the nutrition facts can be like trying to read Swahili, and food companies are taking full advantage of consumers who fall for the gimmicks. Here is the breakdown of what to look for so you don't fall for them:

1. Starting from the top of the label, you want to check out the Serving Size. Portion sizes are likely half, if not less, than that of what we expect or are used to. The serving size listed will give you everything listed below that. If you eat two serving sizes, you have to double everything else. That means 1 tbsp of nut butter (the average serving size) is about the size of both thumbs. A lot of people eat 3,4 or even 5 times this amount on their toast.

2. Next you’re going to check out the Total Fat. This is tricky because some fat is good for you. This is where you need to use common sense. A half cup of Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream has 24 grams of fat and a medium sized avocado has 30 grams of fat. Which is better for you? Obviously the avocado because it consists of monosaturated fat which is the healthy kind. The key here is moderation, good fat is only good if you eat it in small amounts. Bad fat is just better left on the shelf.

3. Moving on down to Sodium. The USDA recommends we eat no more than 2,400 mgs of sodium a day. That equals about a teaspoon. A Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito has 2,656 mgs of sodium alone! Too much sodium will dehydrate you and actually trigger your brain to encourage you to eat more! Keep this in check by flavoring your food with herbs and spices rather than table salt.

4. The biggie for me is Total Carbs. If you are looking at a packaged food item you want to keep these moderately low. High processed carbohydrate food is found in “white stuff” (white bread, pasta and rice). They can also be found in snack bars, cereals, beverages, among many other products so watch out. I like to keep these below 15-20 grams, and the more you become aware of it, the more shocked you will be.

5. A very overlooked component on the label is the grams of Sugar. Not all sugars are bad (there are natural sugars found in milk, fruits, etc that are essential to your body), so you need to look at the ingredients to differentiate the good and the bad. The ones to avoid are Sucrose, cane juice and high-fructose corn syrup. You should stay away from anything that contains 5 g or more of these per serving.

6. Last but certainly not least you want to check out the protein and fiber. These components are an essential part of your diet and help to keep you full longer. The higher the fiber count typically means the healthier the food, especially since the average American doesn’t get their DRA (Daily Recommended Amount) of either of these in their diets.

(P.S. Did you notice I skipped over Calories? Funny, you probably thought this would be first on the list and yet it didn’t even make it?!? The amount of calories in general doesn’t mean a whole lot when you factor in the others. If the calories are coming from natural healthy food they will be used as energy. Of course if you have to many they will be stored as fat so you do have to acknowledge them, but as far as I am concerned, they are a waste of space on the label.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Welcome to Chocaholics Anonyms

Hi, my name is Jessi, and I am a chocaholic. I eat, crave and think about chocolate almost on a daily basis and have become dependent on it in times of anger, sadness and PMS. If you suffer from chocaholism as well, today is your lucky day. I have found the key to satisfying your sweet tooth without devouring an entire box of chewy chips ahoy (which I have done, on many occasions, those were sad times).

1. Dark Chocolate- Ok, this one took a while to warm up to but trust me when I say, it satisfies your chocolate craving on way less. I have a bar of Lidnt 85% coca in my freezer and when that familiar craving hits like a ton of brinks, I pop one little square of this chocolaty goodness in my mouth, wash it down with a small glass of skim milk and ahhh, bliss.

2. Chocolate pudding- The best thing to do is to make it yourself using skim milk and a low sugar pudding mix. But most of us don’t have the time or (more importantly) the patience for that, enter THE SNACK PACK! Jell-O makes a no sugar chocolate pudding with only 60 calories, and even better, they come a convenient small serving size so it’s not easy to over indulge. I like to add a few almonds to get the sweet/salty mix :)

3. Whey Protein shake- I found this protein powder called Women’s Whey Protein that is low carb and low sugar. I mix it with the either skim milk, light soy milk, water or a mixture of these and it completely satisfies me and fills me up, an added bonus!

4. Go for the gold- If you have been working out and eating healthy consistently I say go for it sister! If you can maintain self control and keep your portion size decent, have whatever you want. Deprivation is the number one reason diets don’t work. As long as you only splurge occasionally, a piece of chocolate cake won’t kill you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The BEST salad and breakfast EVER!!

So I made the BEST salad I have ever made in my life (and I have made a lot of salads) this one tops the charts and I just had to share it with you. I started with spinach then I added a hard boiled egg, tomatoes, salsa and beets. I had a plum and a Lipton green tea on the side. This meal filled me up, gave me energy and made me feel good about the amount of vitamins and nutrients I put in my body.
Fruits and vegetables that are dark in color contain higher levels of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Beets, especially these pictured above, are convenient and are an unexpected addition to a salad. Spinach is the best nutritional option as iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value (most restaurants will allow you to sub spinach for iceberg if you ask). The hard boiled egg provides protein and healthy fat that helps you stay full longer. This salad fulfills a healthful dose of your daily vegetable intake! (You should be having 6-8 servings a day)

Luck should have it I made the BEST breakfast of my life yesterday too!! Get a load of this- one egg, two eggwhites, chopped spinach and a side of fat free cream cheese. Egg whites have the protein without the fat. Then I sprayed Pam on a Fat Flush tortilla wrap, toasted it and spread almond butter on top. I grabbed a handful of fresh rasberries and VOILA- the best breakfast of my life.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


After returning from Las Vegas I was going through my pictures and was caught off guard by this one. The one body part I have never had to work for were my arms, then all of a sudden this picture popped up and HOLY FAT ARM!!!! What is going on here? Look at that ginormous pancake hanging from my shoulder!! For the first time ever really (on purpose at least) I need to pump some serious iron...or so I thought. I had to do some extensive research, since I was basically starting from scratch but these moves should get you lookin’ like the Material girl in no time! (sans the big, scary machines) For a lot of women, especially in our older years, this is a major trouble spot, so I have compiled ten awesome exercises to get those flabby limbs into tip-top shape! Now I know these pictures are awkward but I’ll embarrass myself to help a fellow fat-armed sista’ out! Channeling my inner Popeye in 3, 2, 1....

1. Wrist curls- Hold your arms out and take 3-5 pound weights and rotate your wrists palm up, palm down. Do this until it hurts, then do 15 more

2. Tricep kick-backs- Start feet hip width distance apart, bend your knees slightly and hold your arms at a 90 degree angle with weights. Extend your arm straight back and hold then repeat back to starting position. This should be a controlled exercise, quality is better than speed.

3. Tricep dips- As you can see, these are great because you can do them anywhere! When you dip down try and hold for a good 3 seconds or so to really feel the burn.

4. Squat thrust with weights- This is a full body move which means your working a lot of muscles at once. But more importantly it gets several different muscles in your arm. You should put both weights in one hand during this exercise.

5. Popeye bicep curl- Hold arms out to your sides and bend one elbow in. Alternate from side to side while holding weights in each hand.

6. Knee-to-elblow- This move is great because it works your ab muscles too! Keep a high plank but alternate pulling each knee in to the outside of your elbow and hold for 3 seconds. You can make this harder by placing your hands on a step.

7. High-to-low plank- Start in a high plank position keeping your back straight and your weight distributed evenly. One elbow at a time come down to a low plank and hold maintaining proper posture. Then bring it back up and repeat til you shake!

8. Chest Fly- Lay down and hold your arms above you with weights in hand. Slowly bring your arms down, hovering above the ground to the count of three and controlled back up. You make this harder by doing it on a bench or having a friend stand behind you and resist your arms.

9. Bicep punch- Hold your arms at your sides with weight in your hand and palms facing up. Push the weights away from your body at your sides hold and bring them back to the starting position.

10. Overhead tricep- Holding weights behind your head keep your elbows facing forward (they have a tendancy to slip to the sides) and keep your head up. Extend your arms up over your head and then back down. (no picture necessary, everyone pretty much knows this one...)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nutrition Myths: Fict or Fact?

Why deos it seem like women are so much more self-concious about their bodies than men? Maybe men are too and they just aren't as vocal about it but so many women it seems will try anything that offers some promise of a short-cut or quick-fix to losing weight. Here are my top 5 diet myths and the truth (or lack-there-of) behind them:

1. How much you sweat is equivalent to how much fat you burn.

FALSE! Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down. You’re body maintains its temperature independently of how many calories you are burning.

2. Lifting weights will make me look like the Hulk.

FALSE! A woman’s genetic makeup does not allow our muscles to bulk up like men without the help of muscle enhancing drugs. Weight training will only make you look leaner and help you body burn more calories.

3. Colon cleanses and body detoxes flush out waste and weight.

FALSE! The claim is that these products flush out food that has built up in the colon over the years. First of all, EW! Second of all, our bodies do that naturally, it’s not like that cheeseburger you ate 4 years ago is still sitting there! Common. If you want to detox help your body do it naturally by eating more fruits and vegetables which are naturally high in fiber, vitamins and nutrients that assist the body in waste deposit. These cleanses merely dehydrate you and flush out healthy bacteria from your system.

4. A high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet is a health way to lose weight.

TRUE! Most people (women especially) do not get the recommended amount of protein in their diet. This would explain why women eat so much, all the time…protein helps fill you up and helps relieve cravings for bad food. I’ve been over the carb discussion many times but just a reminder, cutting out white starches will dramatically improve your waistline.

5. Certain foods can burn fat and increase your metabolism.

FALSE! (for the most part) Some natural substances like cayenne peppers and caffeine can do these things but to such a miniscule degree that it really makes no significant difference. Caffeine also has adverse effects, namely the crash that leaves you famished, exhausted and typically encourages you to make poor food choices.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Booze News

Health professionals say 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men per day is considered moderate drinking and is acceptable and even encouraged if you’re drinking red wine. However, I tend to enjoy a few more bumps than just the one, especially come Friday. Alcohol unfortunately is loaded with sugar, calories and carbs and worst of all, it increases your hunger. That said, if you too find yourself in this predicament I have compiled a list of the “best of the worst”, so to speak.

Beer: Always go light and drink out of the bottle rather than an oversized glass, you will drink slower and it’s easier to keep track of how much your drinking. (I’m not much a beer drinker but on a hot day on Lake Minnetonka sometimes an ice-cold beer is delish, so here are my top picks for health/taste)

1. Michelob Ultra or Michelob Ultra Amber- Low carb but sort of a watery taste. (2.6 carbs and 95 cals)

2. Thin Ice- Never actually tried it but apparently it tastes like ginger-ale and only has 1 carb and 90 cals!

Cocktails: Hard liquor is higher in calories per ounce than wine but you consume less of it (usually). Consider the chaser you use to mix it with and you’ve got yourself some serious empty calories! So stay away from the “fru-fru” drinks (aka anything with an umbrella, a crazy name or a think, frothy texture- I know it’s so sad but think about it in comparison to a cheeseburger with french-fries and these less exciting drinks will look soooo much better)

1. Vodka soda with a splash of cranberry (extra lime)- The soda has 0 calories and the splash of cran and limes give it just enough flavor.

2. Jerimiah Weed (vodka) with lemonade- Tastes just like an arnie palmer! This is my fav new summer drink but I try to keep it to 1 due to the lemonade, or I’ll switch to soda…

3. A skinny white bitch- Vanilla vodka with diet coke tastes great and is a better choice than some but flavored liquor has more sugar and calories and diet coke is only ok in small quantities (read my post about DC to find out why J)

4. Vodka water with Crystal Light to-go packets- I always keep some in my purse and whip them out at the bar, one packet gets you several drinks. If you go this route, just prepare to be harassed and laughed at by your fellow bar patrons and bartenders…)


1. Red- Although red and white wine have almost equal amounts of calories, carbs and sugar but red wine is rich in antioxidants

2. White wine spritzer- Half wine, half soda, this is a great drink to sip on when you’re having dinner with friends and you want to drink but not get hammered.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Surviving the Urge to Splurge on the 4th

It’s that time of year, when the sun is hot, the lake is cool and friends and family gather to celebrate the independence of our EATING OUR FACES OFF! The fourth of July is notorious for its endless smorgasbord of burgers, hot dogs, potato chips and potato salad washed down with a chugging contest from the bottomless keg. Come Monday the “hangover” will have two meanings as your belly “hangs over” your jeans! Rather than letting it all go this weekend, follow these simple rules and you won’t be paying the price next week.

Rule 1- Don’t touch the potato salad. Don’t even look at it. It isn’t even that good if you really think about it, not to mention it is the worst thing on the picnic table. This pile of yellow goo can set you back almost 400 calories per spoonful! The full-fat mayo, cheese, bacon and starchy potatoes are a skinny girl’s worst nightmare.

Rule 2- Sugar isn’t any sweeter when it’s all dolled up in red, white and blue. You might as well dump the entire bag of sugar in your mouth and wash it down with mountain dew than drink the fruit punch or eat the jell-o with marshmallow desert.

Rule 3- You know you’re an American when you have a hot dog in one hand and a burger in the other. If you must fit in with the crowd you can purchase your own vegan burgers and dogs at the grocery store (my favorite are made by Morningstar Farms) and also forgo the bun. Try and incorporate some veggies and fruits in the mix rather than building a chip tower on your plate like in years past.

Rule 4- Be a grazer. You don’t need to eat three gigantic meals in one sitting. Trust me, the food isn’t going anywhere! If you eat a little bit here and there throughout the day you won’t get those nasty cravings for the “good stuff” making the aforementioned rules a piece-of-cake (sorry, bad pun to use huh?)

Rule 5- Sip, don’t chug. Don’t be that girl (or guy) that is the drunkest mess at the party. I’ll be the first to admit I enjoy my cocktails but be wise. Use soda with a splash of juice to decrease your sugar intake and go with clear liquor and light beer.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Low Carb Low Down

Ever wonder why it is that you can sit in front of the T.V munching on chips and the next thing you know, you've finished the bag?!? There are two things wrong with this scenario and they might just be the reason you can't seem to lose or maintain your weight loss. But lucky for you there is an easy solution!
First of all, when eating, concentrate on your food. Eating in front of the T.V is called
mindless eating, which basically means you are not conscious of what you are putting in your mouth and by the time you realize it, your tummy is bulging. Slow down, concentrate on the flavors of each mouthful. If you follow these instructions you will get much more satisfaction out of your food and you will be aware of when you reach fullness.
Second and most important of all, you need to understand the science of carbohydrates. Chips and apples are both high in carbs but one of these contains good carbs, I'll give you one guess...Chips are made up of what are called
simple carbs (or bad cabs). These quickly digested which means they do not satisy your hunger and they quickly get stored as fat once digested. Try cutting out white bead, pasta and rice and keeping your intake of processed food to a minimum. I guarantee you will feel better, have more energy and see your waistline shrink before your eyes!
Complex carbs on the other hand are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains which are crutial to a healthy diet. These carbs will fill you up on less, keep you full longer and prevent sugar cravings. The rule of thumb is to consume 55%-60% of complex carbs a day in order to get your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in, the rest should come from protein and healthy fats (check out my post on healthy fats).
My final food for thought (pun intended) is beware of misleading food labels. Be the wise consumer you are by checking the nutrition facts making sure the product is 100% whole grain, or low in carbs if it is processed. Replace bread with low-carb wraps for sandwhiches, and stuff it full with spinach, tomatoes and other nutrient-rich veggies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Best Ab Exercises

You can thank the Big Guy upstairs for that muffin top. Womens' bodies are programmed to store more fat in the abdominal area to aid in pregnancy. This is all great, grand and wonderful when you're preggers but most of us are not the majority of the time! That means we have to work twice as hard as our male counterparts to flatten our tummies. But never fear, Jessi is here! Through research and A LOT of trial and error (more error than trial...?), I have compiled my favorite, most fun and most effective ab workouts. (p.s I am fully aware how ridiculous these pictures are, but ill embaress myself to help you ladies out!)

The stability ball transfer: Get into the position as shown and on the exhale lift both legs and arms up and transfer the ball from your arms to inbetween your legs. Lower down to starting position and hold, then repeat. Push yourself on this one and go for 20-25 reps.

Pike with ball: Start in push-up position with your feet on the stability ball and your hands on the floor, elbow under your shoulders. Move the ball towards your chest and pike your body in a V-position. This is probably the hardest because not only are you contracting your abs through the entire move you have to balance as well.

Stability ball roll out: Kneel on your mat with the ball directly in front of you. Roll the ball forward as you exhale contracting your abs through the entire move. Hold keeping your body straight without letting your belly sink or your butt in the air and pull the ball back in toward you as you sit back up to kneeling position.

Yoga abs: Start in a plank position on your mat. Pull your left knee in to touch your right elbow and hold for 3 seconds. Return to plank and pull your knee to your nose holding for 3 seconds. Return to plank and bring your left knee to your left elbow and hold for three. Return to plank and do three push ups and repeat for the other leg.

So start with those and let me know what you think. Other good ones are mountain climbers (which double for getting your heart rate up and blood pumping), regular crunches on a stability ball, ab machines, plank, and bicycle. Remember when doing abs on your back look up at the ceiling behind you and keep your elbows down when they are behind your head. Try to do these every other day and add a new one each time, you need to give your muscles time to recover in order to build and burn fat effectively. Happy crunching!