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!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Just Because It’s a Salad, Doesn’t Mean It’s Healthy

Many of us think if we order a salad we are choosing the healthier option, but in many cases the salad can be worse for you than that cheeseburger you really want. First of all, we tend to compensate the fact that we went “healthy” and eat more. Calories are calories at the end of the day. The salad bar also offers so many choices that can take your salad from light meal to four-course meal. Some of these toppings are loaded with fat, sugar and carbs. Here are a few tips on keeping your salad healthy and still tasty…

1. Greenery- Choose a darker leaf like spinach or arugula. These are dense with essential vitamins and nutrients. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value and will not fill you up enough.

2. Dress appropriately- Stick to less creamy dressings like (extra virgin) olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette. Dressings like ranch and caesar are loaded with extra calories. And always ask for it on the side, restaurants always over-do it with the dressing.

3. Use the 50-25-25 rule- Your salad should contain 50% veggies and grains, 25% healthy fats, and 25% lean protein. Try and incorporate veggies that are rich in folic acid, vitamins and minerals such as broccoli, peppers and tomatoes. Healthy fats would be avacados and nuts.

4. Protien- Pick a protein that will fill you up, satisfy you and still taste good. I love to put salmon, grilled chicken, tuna or turkey sausages in my salads.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cardio Queen

A lot of people have asked me what the best kind of cardio is for burning fat and losing weight. The truth is no one form of cardio is necessarily better than the other. It depends how hard you push yourself. No matter what form you use you should feel short of breath, it should be hard and it should be fun, yes FUN! You might not love it right away, but you can learn to love it and the more you love it, the more you appreciate what it does for your body. As many of you know I hated to run about three years ago and last week I ran a half-marathon…and I honestly had fun! Also, switch it up. Your muscles get used to the same exercises repeated over and over which means you burn fewer calories and build less muscle than you did when you did it the first time. Here are a few of the most popular and what they can do for you but don’t leave out the not-so-obvious forms of exercise like tennis, rollerblading, exercise classes, volleyball, etc.

Running- One of the biggest mistakes beginner runners often make is that they start way too fast. Start slow, let oxygen get into your lungs and let your body adjust to the sudden change in motion. Use baby steps rather than long strides and keep your head up. Let your mind wander as you listen to music and before you know it, you will have run two miles! Running is total-body workout engaging your lower body, upper body and core. One hour= aprox. 720 calories

Biking- A very underestimated source of cardio is bike riding. Rather than driving to dinner, find an easy 4-6 mile route to a restaurant and make it a date or a fun girl night out. Biking is low impact which means there is little to no stress on your joints which is great for people with minor injuries. One hour= aprox. 840 calories

Pilates- strengthens abs, increases flexibility, tones muscles, maintains joint health. The only down side is you need a huge machine, a good instructor and a lot of mula! One hour= aprox. 300

Yoga- Strengthen and tones muscles while torching up to 630 calories per hour. (Try the Sculpt class at CorePower yoga if you really want a great workout. There are several locations and your first week of classes is free, I swear by this class!)

Swimming- Great workout, especially for summer! It’s a very underrated form of cardio. It’s fun, easy, and works almost every muscle in the body. It’s low impact so it’s great for those of you with injuries and you can burn around 400 calories in just 30 mins.

Elliptical- Not my favorite form of exercise. I feel like the machine does more than I do. But it’s a great way to warm up before a gym workout. I generally only use the elliptical when I’m not in the mood for working out but I want to do something. You can burn about 300 calories for 30 mins.

Treadmill- I personally can’t run on a treadmill but one of the best cardio exercises I do is walking on an incline. It sounds easy but trust me, you can get just as good of a workout (if not better). I change the incline every minute and sometimes throw in a sprint here and there and by the time an hour is up I’ve burned up to 600 calories.

Stair climber- This is a great choice for those who want to firm and tone their lower half. The stair climber can burn about 500 calories an hour and is a great way to get your heart rate going.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don’t Fall for the Gimmicks

Corporate America is increasingly taking advantage of the complexity of diet and nutrition products at the expense of peoples’ health. Americans are shelling out billions (yes, with a ‘B’) on dietary supplements that promise a “quick-fix” just about everyone’s battle-of-the-bulge. Sadly, the wishful thinking and ignorance of the average person conceals the real danger behind these so called “miracle drugs”. The majority of these supplements are not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which means they may not be safe to ingest. They may contain dangerous toxins that could result in detrimental harm to your liver and heart. Diet pills are not approved for a reason people! If there was a drug that did as these products promise, everyone would know about it! These products may help you lose weight initially, but the weight quickly comes back on and in many cases brings with it a few extra pounds.

So the moral of the story is, there is no diet pill out there that is worth trying. They do more damage to your body (and you pocketbook) than good. Turn to natural solutions to weight loss and management, that is the only sure-fire way to take it off and keep it off!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My First Half-Marathon

Training for my first half-marathon gave me a sense of purpose to my workout regimen. Having vague goals like “I want to lose weight” often don’t give you the motivation you need. I never considered myself a runner and if you would have told me three years ago I would run in a half-marathon, I wouldn’t have believed you. Desperate to get back in shape after my freshman 15 weight gain I decided to try it. I took it slow, starting with a couples miles a week. I eventually developed a true love for it. The first time I experienced runners high, I was hooked!

Now I look forward to a great run to alleviate stress, a bad day or just to clear my head and I always feel so great afterwards. Not only did my fear of not being prepared for race day get me off the couch several times, the fact that I was able to accomplish something that I never thought I could do was priceless. My mom and I crossed the finish line together and although our 2hr and 40 min time is less than impressive, we all stuck together and had a great time.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Patience is a virtue

Unlike the instant gratification lifestyle we are now used to, losing weight will never be that easy. You can work so hard and have an immaculate diet but it seems like nothing changes. Just don’t give up. Losing weight in a healthy way means on average it takes a week to lose just one pound. Many of us feel like we deserve to indulge in our diet when we have a great workout, but remember a great workout means burning between 800-500 calories in an hour which equals about one pint of light ice cream!
Even when it seems like nothing is changing, if you follow the rules and stick with it, results will follow….eventually. Staying in shape is hard work. It takes patience, self control, and a lot of motivation but that’s what makes you appreciate it that much more. Strive to get 4-5 days a week of strenuous physical activity mixing cardio, weight training, and stretching. The beauty of summer is your options are endless. Don’t be a prisoner to the gym like we are all winter long. Instead of meeting a friend for lunch get out and enjoy the sun. Go for a swim or ride your bike. Try your hand at tennis or golf. Staying healthy is a lifestyle, you don’t have to be on a diet your whole life, just learn to enjoy eating well and exercising. But be patient; never give up because you aren’t getting the results you feel like you deserve immediately.