Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tips for Healthy Eating When Dining Out

Why do restaurants continue to increase the portion size of their meals and lather everything on the menu with oil, butter and fat? It’s like they are out to sabotage your hard work at the gym in one quick meal! You don’t have to risk your social life though in order to maintain your healthy eating habits. Here are 10 tips I use when dining out that helps me stay on track:

1. Sauces- Opt for a tomato based rather than cream and always get it on the side, that way you can control the quantity.

2. Less oil or butter- You can cut 100 calories or more just by requesting that the chef use less oil or butter.

3. Substitute veggies- Always try to incorporate veggies into your meal. Most restaurants will let you substitute them in place of rice or noodles.

4. Don’t go hungry- Eat a small spinach salad before you leave, that way you won’t be famished by the time your food arrives and end up overeating.

5. Fill up on water- Drink at least three glasses of water before your meal arrives. You will feel full and eat less.

6. Get a doggie bag- Turn one meal into two or even three! The portions are so huge there is no reason why you should try to eat it all in one sitting. If you can’t control yourself when the food is in front of you, ask the server to pack half of your meal in a doggie bag even before he or she brings it to the table.

7. Skip the bread basket- Loading up on carbs will not only ruin your appetite but it’s an easy way to pack on unnecessary calories. Push it out of reach so you’re not tempted to pick or ask the server not to bring it altogether.

8. Choose a protein that is either: baked, grilled, dry-sautéed, broiled, poached, or steamed. Stay away from breaded, encrusted, or deep fried.

9. Put down the fork and stay a while- I have to consciously put my fork down after every bite to help me slow down. Dining out is supposed to be an experience, so enjoy your company, engage in conversation and stop shoveling!

10. Sharing is caring…and slimming- Pick out a few appetizers with your dining companion(s) and make that your meal. This creates instant portion control and allows you to try more food!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My big break....sort of

Just for fun I decided to email the editor of Oxygen magazine, one of the nations leading women's fitness magazines, and told her about my blog. I explained the extreme epidemic plagueing soon to be college women, the freshmen 15. She wrote back with astonishing news, she wants to put a picture of me and a short 3 tip segment on how to avoid it! While it's not exactly my big break, I thought it was exciting none the less. Here is where you come in, I need your help. I listed my top 10 in my first blog post but if you have any input what-so-ever it would be greatly appreciated. Trying to pin down the top three is hard since there are sooooo many things that go wrong, but I would love your help in deciding which will go into the mag! And of course, pick up your copy when September rolls around, don't worry, I'll remind you. Thanks and keep up the healthy eating!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Down Dog!

Whether it was the disinterest of crouching on the floor humming ‘Om’s’and ‘Ah’s’ or the horror of attempting to twist myself into animal shapes, yoga never seemed like a viable workout to me. I can say with confidence that I have tried just about every workout regimen out there from plyometrics to pilates and from buns of steel to Zumba, you name it, I’ve tried it. After once again being struck by the ever present workout boredom I took a very sceptical try at yoga. Hardly being able to walk the next day my scepticism was replaced by awe. The way in which these self-described “yogi’s” intertwined their bodies in indescribable positions was enough to get me hooked. Not only does yoga encourage flexibility which encourages muscle strength and decreases chance of injury, but it also helps tone nearly every part of your body. It doesn’t require any expensive machinery or tools, and you can do it almost anywhere. I have noticed the biggest difference in my abs and legs, which for women are the two main problem areas. And for all you iron pumping men out there, I double DOG dare you to try it and tell me it’s not a great workout!

If you’re in the Bloomington area vibe yoga offers some great classes including Vinyasa Flow 2, Hot Fusion and cardiyoga. And if you’re in the Minneapolis area there are several location of Core Power studios that offer the best hot yoga class I’ve ever had!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eat Fat to Lose Weight?

I know what you’re thinking and no, this isn’t a new cheeseburger and French fries diet. It sounds ridiculous especially after we have been taught to swear off butter and oil like the plague, but research shows that good fats assist in digestion, maximizing the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Healthy fat also increases satiety which tames your appetite. As if that’s not good enough, these power fats act as anti-inflammatory properties which aid metabolic function.

So what are healthy fats? Healthy fats consist of monounsaturated fats, which can be found in plant oils, nuts and avocados, and polyunsaturated fats, which can be found in omega-3 rich foods like eggs and some fish. Incorporating these kinds of fats into your diet with moderation may be your golden ticket to losing those last five pounds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Big FAT Truth About Soda Pop

If you are looking to drop a few extra lbs with no effort at all, try kicking your three can-a-day diet coke habit. People assume that drinking diet coke means they are saving calories, because it says diet, right? The truth is soda pop has been discovered as one the leading culprits for Americas’ extreme increase in weight gain and obesity. Not only does soda contain harsh chemicals that can burn holes in your esophagus and deteriorate the enamel off your teeth, it actually makes you hungrier.

Sodas are full of empty calories and sugar. The sugar and artificial sweetener causes a spike in energy then sends you crashing, leaving you more fatigued and more famished than before. Aspertame, one of the leading chemicals in soda pop is often disguised under the name nutrasweet. This chemical “has been linked by many case studies to convulsions, depression, insomnia, irritability, weakness, dizziness, headaches, mood changes, memory losses, and damage to the optic nerve,” according to

“Fructose, a primary ingredient in many sodas, cannot be broken down into useful energy. For this reason it is stored directly as fat – regardless of the “diet” labels. If fact, Yuschek points out that fructose is found most commonly in diet sodas and adds that some experts would argue that diet soft drinks are more dangerous than regular-calorie sodas, as a direct result of their ingredients.” (

Still not convinced? Here are some facts that will surely make up your mind:
1. Did you know that the phosphoric acid (the main ingredient) in soda can dissolve a nail in as little as four days? This can contribute to osteoporosis.
2. Did you know that the trucks carrying soda syrup concentrate have to use the “hazardous material” place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials?
3. Did you know that if you put a T-bone stead in a bowl of coca-cola and let it sit, it will disintegrate within two days?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Real Happy Meals- Healthy Dinner Options in 10 mins or less!

No more excuses! Someone started a crazy rumor that you have to be a fabulous cook with all the time in the world to cook healthy meals. It's so much easier to just pop a pizza in the oven or boil some pasta, right? WRONG! Here are a few dinner options that I make regularly that I can whip up in the microwave or stove in no time!

1. Salmon a la cheesy brocoli and brown rice: I buy frozen salmon fillet that can be cooked in the microwave or on the stove in about 10 minutes. I add brown rice (also comes in a microwave bag) and broccoli. Salmon is one of the best things to eat for dinner because it is low in carbs and they are full of omega-3s. Brown rice is full of vitamins, fiber and iron, it is also very filling. Broccoli is one of the best veggies to eat because it’s packed with most essential nutrients. I sprinkle veggie cheese on top for flavor.

2. The Tofu Scramble- You can buy packages of tofu at your grocery store that are ready to eat. A serving of quinoa which you can make in bulk in the begining of the week and refridgerate it for those "I don't have any time" situations. And never forget your veggies, asparagus and half of a sweet potato. I sprinkle sugar-free syrup and a dash of cinnamon on the sweet potato for extra flavor. I also sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon on the asparagus. Sweet potatoes are anti-oxidant rich and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Tofu is a great source of soy protein and asparagus is a great green veggie. The benefits of quinoa are countless but its high fiber content is one of its best attributes. Cinnamon is also shown to regulate blood sugar.

3. The Veggie and Turkey Omlet- Mix one egg and two egg whites in a pan. Cut up green/red peppers, spinach, turkey, tomatoes and onions and put them into the pan. When it is cooked through you can fold it over and wah- lah, the perfect omlet. An orange for dessert satisfies your sweet tooth and gives you an extra boost of Vitamin C while fulfilling your daily requirements of fruits and veggies!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Confessions of a Stress Eater

As the papers, exams, assignments and projects started to build I felt that familiar feeling. The one where you know there isn’t enough time in the day or enough energy in your body to get all the work done. As the pressure mounts and writers block sets in, I cave. Like a wild animal I viciously attack the cupboards and refrigerator, nothing seems to satisfy and I will stop at nothing until my stomach has stretched beyond maximum capacity. My hands move at lighting speeds shoving as much in my mouth as it can hold, hardly chewing, just swallowing. I could go for hours, mixing the most horrendous of items like rice and peanut butter, cereal and hummus or ice cream and croutons. Finally, I breathe. I survey the damage with a look of horror on my face. I did it again, I binged. Not one for purging or laxatives I am stuck with the repercussions of my actions, knowing all of my hard work at the gym the last couple days has just been swallowed up in my tornado of a stomach. The aches and pains I feel after one of these sessions is worse than any flu or cold. My insides feel like they are ripping me apart from the inside out. This is my one weakness. It is the one time I feel completely out of control and helpless. Nothing has worked as of yet to stop this vicious cycle. I have gone so far as to ask friends to rip the food out of my hands, the fork out of my kung-fu grip and the Chinese take-out box of my white-knuckled hands. This is a true confession of a stress eater.

“When you experience sudden danger, your brain instantly signals your body to turn out a hormone called cortisol. Your stress response system has built into it the capacity to turn itself off. The stress hormone cortisol acts as its own shut-off signal. As the situations that give rise to stress endure, they keep ramping up production of cortisol. You go into an inner Code Red, marked by anxiety, vigilance, and hyperalertness” according to Psychology Today. When you are under extreme stress your capacity to turn your stress response system off is derailed and your body finds other ways to cope with it, mine is binge eating.

I tell you this not because I am proud of my weaknesses, as a matter a fact it has taken me a long time to admit this much less write about it for the world to see. I am telling you this because everyone has their weak moments when it comes to food, exercise and staying healthy. I don’t want any of you to think I don’t practice what I preach but I do what you to know that nobody is perfect, and I am no exception. I have struggled with stress eating the last few years of college and still slip up from time to time. It is the most defeating, devastating feeling ever but I learn each time. The next day I pick myself up, dust myself off and get back on track. Letting it all go because of one bad night is not the way to go. Even the most health conscious have their weaknesses and struggles. Learning to control these situations, whatever yours may be, and not giving up is the most important lesson.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Post Spring Break Reality Check

Chances are many of you participated in the 3 week power-slim down leading up to Spring break. Now that you’ve returned, those chips and guacamole binges and beer bongs have caught up to you. Sound familiar? Before you let it all go, remind yourself summer is not too far away and that bikini will be beckoning you once again. This is the perfect time to really implement a healthy lifestyle so that you never have to power-diet like that again.

I’ve always said nutrition is 80% of losing/maintaining weight. That doesn’t mean exercise isn’t important. It is possible to lose a significant amount of weight just by eating right whereas that is not necessarily true just by exercising.

Both diet and exercise are ideal but let’s be honest, sometimes our college lifestyle just does not allow for that. Our lifestyle is the environment for healthy living. Staying up late to cram for an exam throws our sleep cycle off which is detrimental to our bodies. Fast-food or cheap cafeteria food is typically our only choice making it near impossible to make healthy food decisions. To make matters worse we hardly have a moment to ourselves and to fill that ever-shrinking time with exercise is less than desirable.

It is difficult but not impossible. Simple things like walking rather than taking the bus, take the stair rather than the elevator, pack an apple and string cheese instead of resorting to unhealthy snack options. The key is to plan. Trust me when I say you will feel better, have more energy and prevent illness. Make the change now so come summer you can throw on that bikini and feel ready for fun in the sun!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

H.I.T Me With Your Best Shot

High Intensity Training is the key to weight loss and long-term weight management. A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh showed that high-intensity, prolonged exercise helps women lose weight and keep it off, while allowing them to eat more food. This is great news for all those who join me in the clean plate club!

H.I.T means repetitive brief bouts of high-intensity exercise separated by short rest periods. This kind of training has been found to burn fat most effectively. It builds the highest aerobic capacity which means the ability for your body to transport and use oxygen is higher than any other form of training. “During aerobic activity, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Your muscles feed off of oxygen which in turn increase your stamina, strengthen your heart, and best of all, burns those cals as fast as you can sing “Hit me with your best shot!”

So “fire away” and try running sprints, doing jump squats or swimming laps.