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Fit Friday Archives

Fit Friday Finale

This is bittersweet for me to write, because this will be my final “Fit Friday” message.  Over the course of the last year and a half, I have posted over 70 messages.  In order to continue, I would have to start recycling topics, which I would rather not do. I want to thank all of you who have shared your inspirational stories with me along the way.  Being able to research and write about the very things I struggle with has been very educational for me. In turn, I’ve enjoyed sharing my research because I figured some of you may struggle with those same topics.  Going forward, I know that I will continue to look for ways to be a more mindful eater, use portion control, and include regular exercise in my life.  I hope you all do the same.    

To close this out, I selected my favorite inspirational quote and Fit Friday message.  Enjoy.

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
– Unknown

I will be completely honest with you. I crave foods that are terrible for me all the time. I’m the only person who can decide whether I give in when faced with a temptation. Each day we have dozens of opportunities to make good decisions for our health: 

  • Do I get out of bed early to work out or roll over and go back to sleep?
  • Do I pick a healthy option when I eat or go for the quicker, cheaper, and tastier unhealthy foods?
  • Do I take the time to slowly taste and enjoy each meal?
  • Do I make every effort to get my 100 ounces of water each day?
  • Do I take the stairs or the elevator?
  • Do I take a piece of dessert that someone brought in to share or resist the urge?
  • Do I “unplug” at a reasonable hour each night or stay up later than I should?      

Your body is a reflection of the importance you place on living a healthy lifestyle.  All day long you are faced with choices similar to those listed above, and it is up to you, and you alone, to determine which one(s) you pick. I think it’s completely unrealistic to make the perfect decisions all of the time. I for one wouldn’t be happy in a world without ice cream, French fries, and beer. I do however, think it’s reasonable to make healthy selections 90% of the time and to simply savor and enjoy the rest.  Remember that food is fuel, and your body must be supplied with quality fuel if you expect it to perform well. Make good choices daily and you will see progress in no time at all.

Thanks again.  Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

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Workout Soreness

 “Sport is a preserver of health.”
  – Hippocrates

Sore after a workout?  Let’s take a look at a few of the top recovery strategies that you can begin to utilize.

Hot Baths
The first recovery strategy to consider is taking a nice hot bath.  Hot baths are great because not only are they going to relax the body, but they’re going to help to increase your blood circulation as well.  This can help to bring more nutrients and oxygen to the muscle tissue, improving the repair process.

Stretching
The second method that you can use to help enhance your recovery is stretching.  Stretching is another great technique for reducing post-workout soreness.  Stretching should be performed daily for best results as it is something that you have to work at with a high frequency level for it to become effective.

Foam Rolling
Foam rolling is another recovery technique that is starting to get more and more popular.  Foam rolling is where you place the sore and tense muscles over the top of a cylindrical piece of foam and then gently roll the muscle back and forth over it.  As you do this, you should feel some deep pressure building up and then the muscle easing and relaxing as you go.

Note: using these techniques may be slightly painful at first, but as you work into it, you’ll feel any knots in your muscles relax and eventually you’ll start to feel much better overall.

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 

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Staying Hydrated

“Realize that every second that you are not taking action is another day living the life you so desperately want to change.”
 – Jim Smith

It’s that time of year when we can all use a reminder to stay hydrated.  Good hydration is always important, but it can become critical during the summer for obvious reasons like hotter temperatures, sun exposure, and more time spent outdoors. Most people are awed to hear that the human body is composed of 60 – 70% water. In fact, it’s been said that our brains are made up of over 80% water! No wonder the nutrition authorities say to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fresh water daily. We need water in our bodies more than we do food, that’s why the human body can go longer without food than it can this vital liquid.

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 

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Sugar

“The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.”
– Sarah Bombell

Did you know that sugar has been the cause of as much disease, sickness, and death as alcohol and tobacco?  Studies show that sugar is the main culprit in obesity, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and even cancer.  The worst offenders are high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar (sucrose).  These sugars are not only found in obvious choices (like candy), but are often hidden in processed foods.  Even so-called “healthy” frozen dinners can have as much as eight to 10 teaspoons of sugar; as much as a can of soda!

For true nutrition, follow one simple rule: if it’s not food, don’t eat it.  Which sounds elementary, but more than 90% of the “food” purchased by Americans is highly processed.  Instead try these suggestions:

  • Choose “whole” foods – fresh produce, lean (unprocessed) proteins, and whole grains
  • Hydrate regularly with water, rather than sugary sodas and drinks
  • Opt for fresh fruit instead of a traditional dessert – and –
  • Encourage your family to do the same

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 

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Running

“There will be days when I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing that I have.”
– Unknown

Many people don’t consider themselves “runners”, when in fact they have simply started off too fast when they have tried running.  You should ease into a running program because if you rush it, your body will likely rebel, and you will be miserable.  The Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan (link below) is designed to take someone from not running at all, to running three miles, all within about a two month timeframe. Each session should take about 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week – which is the same amount of moderate exercise that many health studies suggest.  I initially found this plan online, but created an easier to read table in a word document that I have included with this post.  I truly hope you give running a try using this plan.    

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

Couch to 5K

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Mexican Food Trivia

“There are only 2 options regarding commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There’s no such thing as life in between.”
Pat Riley

Below, you can test your knowledge on a “which is better exercise” for eating at a Mexican Restaurant. (Courtesy of www.tufbodies.com)

Margarita or Beer?
Beer.  Even if you ordered a margarita on the rocks instead of frozen (with sugary mix), it would be 150 calories, the same as a regular beer.  Order a light beer and save more calories.  If your goal is weight loss, you should be deciding right now if you are ordering the beer or sharing a dessert – not both.

Nachos or Quesadilla?
Quesadilla.  Both are high in calories due to the cheese but the nacho chips are fried.  Ask them to cook the quesadilla without grease on the griddle.  Order the quesadilla with plenty of vegetables and lean protein (for example shrimp, chicken, or sirloin).  You’d also want to skip the sour cream and eat half the guacamole serving. 
 
Burrito or Fajitas?
Fajitas.  Most burritos have a lot of calories – like over 800!  The fajitas allow you to customize your meal.  Ask for corn tortillas to save calories at 50 per tortilla instead of 150+ for flour.  Pick sour cream or guacamole; not both.  Skip the beans and rice – instead order a side salad and use the salsa and pico for dressing. 

What about the chips, salsa, Queso and guacamole?
Salsa has 15 calories per 2 tbsp.  Pile it on everything, it even has veggies.  Guacamole has 50 calories per 2 tbsp.  Think of it as green butter.  Measure out two spoonfuls onto your plate and skip the rest.  Add more salsa to it to make it last longer.  Pass on the Queso if you are in weight loss mode, or really anytime, it’s full of saturated fat and things you can’t pronounce.  Count your chips out on your plate (10 is ideal) and then pass the bowl!

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 

 

  

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Living a Healthy Lifestyle

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.  
 – Mahatma Gandhi

Most people I know don’t want something that’s temporary, especially when it comes to weight loss.  Unfortunately, fad diets rarely provide long term, sustained weight loss.   Whether it’s an exceedingly restrictive all-liquid diet, or the adoption of an eating style that you either don’t like or that leaves you desperately missing what’s gone, the weight you lose living a life you don’t enjoy is weight that will not stay off. I’m willing to bet that when you grow tired of suffering, you will slowly slide back into your old likable lifestyle and eating habits. 

A more realistic goal is to live the healthiest life you can enjoy, not the healthiest life you can tolerate. Yes, if you have weight to lose, you’ll have to make changes. But if you change so far from who you are and what you enjoy, odds are that it’s not going to be a long term plan.  Try aiming for your “best” weight rather than your “ideal” weight; in other words, the weight you reach when living the healthiest life you can actually enjoy.  Try any harder and eventually you will quit.  Move more, eat less, and make the healthiest food choices you can most of the time.  It will pay off in the long run!

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 
  

 

 

 

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Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

“The best inspiration is not to outdo others, but to outdo ourselves.” 
– Tuan Tran

One way to eat healthier and save money is to buy and use fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season.  Not only are they more available and have more flavor, they are usually less expensive.  Be sure to check out your local farmer’s market as well – this is a great source for local and seasonal produce.

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 

 

 

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Plank Holds

“Unless you test yourself you stagnate. Unless you try to go way beyond what you’ve been able to do before, you won’t develop and grow. When you go for it 100%, when you don’t have the fear of “what if I fail”, that’s when you learn. That’s when you’re really living.”
 – Mark Allen

You have probably heard how important it is to have a strong core.  Nearly every gym class or fitness article will discuss it at some point.  But you may be wondering what exactly core strength is and why it matters. 

Nearly every motion made by the human body is initiated in the core. Lunges, twists, running, swimming, and weights – almost everything starts with the abs, hips and lower back, which is where the ‘core’ of the body is.  One of the most effective exercises to quickly strengthen your core is a “plank hold” (description below).  One way to work this into your routine is to practice a plank hold for the length of one television commercial; then steadily increase your time to the length of an entire commercial break, or roughly, two minutes.  

Proper plank holds look like this: 

 

 

 

 

 

Start by balancing on your elbows and your toes, while keeping your body in a straight line.  The straight line is extremely important; keep your abs pulled in to stop your back from arching and to prevent your hips from sagging to the ground.  Proper form must be used in order to experience the benefits of this exercise and to keep you from becoming injured.  Also know that your body may start shaking and this is totally normal and will decrease as you get stronger.

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Fresh Herbs

“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.
– William Londen

If you are looking for a way to add flavor, texture, and aroma to your meals without adding calories, I recommend you experiment with fresh herbs.  Most fresh herbs are remarkably easy to grow and planting season is right around the corner.  I like to plant big containers of rosemary, basil, mint, and parsley all around our outdoor patio. They blend beautifully with our other plants and flowers, and we get to enjoy their wonderful scent while we are relaxing outdoors. I recommend that you plant them within a reasonable distance of your kitchen so you can have them at your disposal whenever you cook.  

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Mindful Eating

“Don’t judge it, just do it.”
Kathleen Johnston

The following is an excerpt from a NY Times article by Jeff Gordinier. A coworker (thank you Liji Thomas!) shared this with me recently because she is knows I am a firm believer in the concept of mindful eating. Enjoy!

Mindful Eating

Try this: place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love — let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli.

Now comes the hard part. Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because that first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry.

Today’s experiment in eating, however, involves becoming aware of that reflexive urge to plow through your meal like Cookie Monster on a shortbread bender. Resist it. Leave the fork on the table. Chew slowly. Stop talking. Tune in to the texture of the pasta, the flavor of the cheese, the bright color of the sauce in the bowl, the aroma of the rising steam.

This concept has roots in Buddhist teachings. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, breathing, standing, and walking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel.

With the annual chow-downs of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday behind us, it’s worth pondering whether mindful eating is something that the mainstream ought to be, well, more mindful of. Could a discipline pioneered by Buddhist monks and nuns help teach us how to get healthy, relieve stress, and shed many of the neuroses that we’ve come to associate with food?

I believe the answer is YES. Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Hummus

“Before healing others, heal yourself.”
– Unknown

Hummus is loaded with nutrients that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.  Hummus is a natural, vegan food made primarily from chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), olive oil, tahini, and garlic.  There are  many variations on hummus; many contain lemon juice, cumin and other spices, and some variations may also include spinach, artichokes, red peppers, or kalamata olives.  Chickpeas are relatively low in fat, and while the presence of olive oil does boost the fat content in hummus, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type that is heart healthy (and tasty!).  Hummus as a whole contains plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for improving intelligence and maintaining a healthy heart.  Hummus is also endlessly versatile!  Include it in your diet by using it as a spread on sandwiches and wraps, as dressing for your salad or pasta, or as a dip for raw vegetables, baked pita chips, or whole wheat crackers.

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Accountability

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs. The burning in your legs. And that voice in your head that yells “CAN’T”, but you don’t listen. You just push harder. Then you hear that voice whisper, “can” and you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the person you really are.”
– Unknown

You’ve heard me say before that if something is important to you, then you will find a way to make it happen; if it’s not important to you, you will find an excuse.  At the end of the day, it’s up to you to take care of your health, make better food choices, and get to the gym.  Hold yourself accountable.  Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I care about myself?” and “Am I really doing all that I can to make my health a priority?”.  These questions may be the motivation you need to get and/or stay fit.  I know that the will to exercise regularly is not innate to everyone.  I also know that healthy food options are not as appealing, tasty, or cheap as their unhealthy alternatives.  These aren’t excuses – they are reality.  However, we must learn how  to overcome our own hurdles, and find a way to make healthy life choices.    

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Starbucks Best Picks

“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” 
 – Unknown

Starbucks best picks under 200 calories are below.  All suggestions are based on a “Tall” serving (12 fl oz / 355 ml).

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Hot Drinks Calories Fat (g) Cold Drinks Calories Fat (g)
Brewed Coffee

5

0

Caramel Frappuccino® Light Blended Coffee

130

1

Brewed Tazo® Tea

0

0

Coffee Frappuccino® Blended Coffee

180

2.5

Nonfat Tazo® Green Tea Latte

150

0

Shaken Tazo® Iced Passion® Tea (unsweetened)

0

0

Nonfat Cappuccino

60

0

Shaken Tazo® Iced Black Tea Lemonade

100

0

Nonfat Caffè Latte

 

100

0

Nonfat Iced Vanilla Latte

120

0

Nonfat Caramel Machiato

 

140

1

Nonfat Iced Caramel Machiato

140

1

Soy Tazo® Chai Tea Latte

 

170

2

Iced Coffee (with classic syrup)

60

0

Nonfat Caffè Mocha – hold the whip

170

20

Iced Skinny Latte

60

0

Skinny Vanilla Latte

 

90

0

 

 

 

Steamed Apple Juice

 

170

0

 

 

 

 

Nonfat Vanilla Crème – hold the whip

150

0

 

 

 

Caffè Americano

 

 

10

0

 

 

 

 

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Ground Turkey

“You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.”
– Unknown

A great way to cut saturated fat from your recipes is to replace ground beef with ground turkey breast.  If, however, you aren’t careful when selecting your ground turkey, you might increase the fat instead!  A common nutritional misstep is to believe that all ground turkey is equal.  Turkey breast is lean, but the dark meat isn’t, and some ground turkey contains both.  The leanest (about 3% fat) is white meat only, with no skin.  It’s labeled “ground turkey breast.”  Regular ground turkey is made from white and dark meat with some skin, and is about 10% fat (similar to ground round).  One more tip for cooking with turkey is that Italian turkey sausage is a great way to get Mediterranean flavor with low fat (about 10% fat for the turkey version, compared to an average 30% for pork). You can even find it in both mild and spicy versions. 

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Heart Rate Monitors

“As is true with life and in the gym – if you are willing to pay the price that others will not – you will reap the benefits that others will not.”

– Keith Wassung

If you work out regularly, one piece of equipment you may want to invest in, is a heart rate (HR) monitor.  The most important reason to wear a HR monitor is to have an objective measure of the intensity you are training at.  It takes the guess work out of training, because you have a number on your wrist display telling you if you are slacking off or going too hard.  Another reason to use a HR monitor while working out is to track your progress and improvement over time.  Because your HR monitor will be programmed with your own personal stats, (i.e. height, weight, age, etc.) it’s much more accurate than the monitors that are on the cardio machines at your local gym.  Not only are the gym cardio machines’ numbers for “calories burned” inflated, they are also estimates using male averages. 

A typical heart rate monitor has two battery operated pieces: a chest strap and a watch like wrist band.  I recently learned that you should remove the chest strap and dry it as soon as you reasonably can, after you complete your workout.  Otherwise, you drain the battery, shortening it’s lifespan by up to ten times!  One reason I enjoy my monitor is that it totals up the number of work outs I completed each week along with the total number of calories burned.  It’s a great  incentive to beat your calorie burn week over week.  If you’re looking for a recommendation, I use a Polar HR monitor which is considered the “Nike” of monitors.

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Flossing

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”
 Turgenev, Ivan

The fact that flossing daily can extend life expectancy falls in the weird-but-true category. Regular flossing and brushing can prevent chronic gum disease.  Gum disease is an infection, which causes the body to make certain chemicals (to fight the inflammation), which can predispose the body to systemic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  It’s also believed that large amounts of oral bacteria, which is associated with gum disease, can enter the blood stream and cause serious health problems directly.

Can this absolutely be proven scientifically?  Not yet, but the research continues.  The current belief is that the scores of studies suggest that gum disease can cause serious systemic illnesses.  So, my suggestion to you?  Remove all of the dental plaque that you can from your teeth daily, by brushing, flossing, water-picking, tooth picking, and mouthwash rinsing.  It may just lengthen your life!

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Subway’s Breakfast Sandwiches

“The groundwork of all happiness is good health.” 
 – Unknown

If you haven’t already had a Subway’s breakfast sandwich, I suggest you give them a try.  They are a much healthier option when you are pressed for time and tempted to do a drive through meal in the morning.  Not only are they delicious, they are also very filling!  There are a number of breakfast options that are offered, but my favorite is an egg white and ham sandwich loaded with all of my favorite Subway veggies.  It doesn’t even need dressing – it’s just perfect all on its own!

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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Try Different Veggies

“What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that’s another matter.”
– Peter F. Drucker

If you are anything like me, you get stuck choosing the same fruits and vegetables when you grocery shop, or dine out.  We know what we like and also how to prepare the foods that are familiar to us.  However, we could be missing out on vitamins, minerals, and the joy of finding new foods we just might love by sticking to the same repertoire week after week.  Until a few years ago, I avoided sweet potatoes, I thought they were weird looking and my only recollection of them is the mushy canned version that I saw at Thanksgiving – no thank you!  Then my friend Roz shared a baked sweet potato fry recipe with me from one of my favorite Foot Network Chefs, Ina Garten, and I decided to give it a go.  I admit that I was lost – do I peel them?  Why are they so hard to cut?  Isn’t it kind of strange to have a “sweet” vegetable?  After getting my “sweet potato 101” lesson from Roz, I was set.  What I discovered was that I L-O-V-E sweet potatoes!  I think I could eat them every single day and be happy; and I can’t imagine why I waited so long to finally give them a try.

So, here is my challenge to you all, and one I’m going to attempt this year: try a new or different vegetable each month – by the end of 2012, you may have discovered some new favorites!

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

 Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve hot.

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Make the most of healthy choices

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  
 – Aristotle

Your health should be one of the biggest priorities in your life, but that doesn’t mean it has to control every aspect of your day.  Working out and eating well should enhance your life and be enjoyable!  Set high standards for your health and don’t settle for less, but make sure you laugh, smile, enjoy, and share your experiences with others. Battling your weight is tough enough – don’t make it harder on yourself! The more mentally relaxed you are, the easier it will be to stay consistent and fight your way to the goals you want to achieve. 

Enjoy your Fit Friday everyone!

Lani

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