Thursday, December 26, 2013

10 Resolutions for a Healthy New Year

Hi friends! How were your holidays?  Very good here.  I did a recap of our Christmas day celebration on Honey We're Home if you want to take a peek.  Healthwise, I'm proud to say that I stuck to a good workout routine that definitely helped me not feel too bad about enjoying all the extra food I ate in the last couple of weeks.  I am ready to kick off the new year strong and was thinking about things we can do daily to change our health for the better today.

I'm not talking about general goals like, "lose weight", I'm talking specific actions that you can incorporate into your daily routine that hopefully become a habit and add up to some pretty big changes at the end of 2014.  


1. Control Portion Sizes  Sometimes we eat too much just because the sizes served to us in restaurants are so big that we forget what a realistic portion size looks like.   Drink sizes are huge, refrigerators are huge.  Have you looked at a fridge from the 50s and laughed at how tiny it compares to today's varieties?  Instead of eating straight from a bag or box (because it's hard to tell how much you're consuming), portion out your snacks into baggies or small tupperware.  Use smaller plates and understand that most portion sizes are about the size of your fist. 

2.  Don't Go Hungry  If you wait until you're starving to eat, chances are your food choices will be poor and you will overeat.  By balancing your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day, you are more likely to eat better and stay fuller longer.  Bring healthy snacks to work or keep them in your purse.  Things like nuts and apples don't need to be refrigerated, but if you have access to a fridge, you can bring cold snacks like cheese or Greek yogurt.

3.  Quit Smoking  Period.  We all know by now it's terrible for our health.  I've never smoked so I cannot say I understand the addiction or how hard it is to quit.  I do know that your family members probably wish you would quit because they want you alive and healthy for a long time.  I tell this to my parents all the time.  I have several friends who quit using acupuncture and/or hypnosis.  

4.  Get More Sleep  Stress and lack of sleep are so hard on a body physically.  Do what you can to wind down at night, so you can get the rest you need.  Getting off the computer, cell phone and turning down the lights can help get you ready for bed.  Sometimes I'll just get in bed before I'm ready to go to sleep, intending to read, then quickly fall asleep not realizing how tired I actually am.  

5.  Eat Breakfast My quick go-to breakfasts are oatmeal, toast with peanut butter, or Greek yogurt with granola.  My friend makes a protein smoothie for breakfast.  Whatever it is, it's good to get your metabolism going and start your day with calories and energy. 

6.  Eat More Veggies  Incorporating vegetables into our diet is important because they contain essential vitamins and minerals that offer protection against many diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  Try switching out one meal a week for a salad loaded with veggies or add a vegetable to one of your daily meals.  I like to snack on a handful of mini carrots or celery and peanut butter.  Baked Kale chips are awesome.  Edamame is delicious.  A veggie omelet is a good way to incorporate more vegetables and you can always toss some spinach into a smoothie. 


7.  Slash Sodium The recommended limit of sodium is a teaspoon (or 6 grams) daily. Besides contributing to water retention (i.e. bloating), sodium can raise blood pressure. Processed foods contain the most, so make sure to read labels. Lower sodium diets are linked to decreased risk of heart disease, but are also associated with lower hypertension and weight management.  via Reader's Digest

8.  Cut Out Soft Drinks  Soda, soft drinks, pop (whatever you call it) has no nutritional value and can pack on the pounds.  Giving up these drinks (without doing anything else) can reap great rewards in terms of weight loss.  I read at FitDay that estimates show that two cans of soda per day adds approximately 24 to 35 pounds of fat per year, depending on body size, age, habits, etc.. Some people (weighing in at 140 pounds) have reported that by giving up two cans of soda per day, without exercise, they lost 20 pounds in six months.  

9.  Drink More Water We talked about drinking water recently and how much is enough.    Ladies Home Journal found the benefits are: 1) younger looking skin and better complexion by staying hydrated; 2) helps lose weight by keeping you feeling satiated; and 3) boosts mood and brain power.  

10.  Get Active Even 10 to 30 physical activity has positive benefits like weight loss, improved mood and energy,  and better sleep.  The easiest way I've found to to incorporate exercise is by walking more.  It costs nothing and you can do it anywhere.  I park far away from the door at stores and take the stairs when possible.  If your weather permits right now, just open the door and walk around the block a few times.  Once you start this habit, it will feel so good that you'll crave more.  Even if it's difficult at first, the payoff is worth it and it gets easier!  

Here's to a HEALTHY and FIT 2014!




Sunday, December 8, 2013

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

One thing I noticed after the Thanksgiving break was that I was drinking less water because I wasn't working out and I got out of the habit of keeping my water cup full at home.  I felt like my skin was looking dull and icky, so this week, I got back on my normal water routine.  


It helps so much to have a large bottle or cup that you like to drink from near you so you remember to drink water throughout the day.  I like the insulated cups the best so they don't sweat and create a puddle on your furniture.  The one pictured on my desk is from Wal-Mart and holds 20 oz. of water.  I drink about 3 of these a day, so about 60 oz. of water.  

It used to be recommended that people drink 8, 8 ounce glasses of water a day = total 64 ounces.  But now, the Institute of Medicine sets general guidelines for total water intake and recommends that women consume a total of 91 ounces (that’s about 2.7 liters) per day – from all food and beverages combined. But, depending on your diet, about 25% of the water you consume comes from your food.  

I've read that most healthy people get enough water in the food and liquid they take in on a regular basis, but you can gague whether you're getting enough water by if you feel thirsty or your urine is dark.  

I feel better when I'm drinking water throughout the day and definitely notice a difference in my skin.  

I really like these 24-Ounce Insulated Cups.  They come in a variety of colors too for a great price.  I always prefer a lid (just in case of spills) and straw.


How much water do you drink per day?  Do you use a special cup too?  



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Healthy Beef Burritos

I've often talked about one of my go-to healthy meals, Tex Mex to go, and sometimes I mix it up and make it into a healthy beef burrito.  It's super easy and delicious!

I like to make a big batch, so I start with 2 packages of Laura's lean ground round or sirloin (4% fat).  Lean beef still has plenty of flavor, try it if you typically go with something fattier.  I'd be surprised if your family even notices the difference.


Then, I add two packages of low sodium taco seasoning and mix with 1.5 cups of water and bring it to a simmer until the meat has absorbed all the seasoning.  Meanwhile, I heat up a large can of low-fat refried beans.  

For me, the key to a delicious burrito is fresh pico de gallo (salsa), which is very easy to assemble.  I make it the same way I make guacamole, just without the avocados.   Just dice up tomato, white onion, jalapeno (deseeded for milder flavor) and cilantro and toss it all together with a squeeze of lime.


When the beans are heated through and the meat is ready, I assemble my burrito on a whole wheat tortilla (that I warmed up on the stove or in the microwave) and add low-fat cheese and sour cream- just a touch. 


Let me know if you try it and how you like it. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Healthy Hair

About a year and a half ago, I accidentally (and stupidly) fried my hair in an effort to save money and do an at-home Keratin treatment.  The Keratin treatment was supposed to turn my naturally-a-little-frizzy hair into smooth, shiny locks.  The box clearly stated NOT to use it on bleached hair (which I have), but I thought it would be okay.  Wrong!  After you put the treatment on your hair, you are supposed to comb it through very straight.  As I started combing my hair, it starting coming out in big chunks.  I quickly washed the product out of my hair, but the damage was done.  It continued to break for months after that, I had to chop it, and I've been working on growing it back out, healthy, ever since.

Of course, it looked nice chopped when it was just styled from my awesome hairdresser.  But, I have a major cowlick and could never get it to stay side swept like that.  I really don't mind the shorter length, I  just want it to be healthy!


Now, I try to wash it every other day (I can't go more than that with workouts) and only dry it with a hairdryer or use a curling iron on the first day, trying to let it air-dry as much as possible.  Then I might put it up in a top knot the next day.   


I use Kerastase oil (just on the "pony tail" so it doesn't get weighed down) and I think it's been working miracles.  It's the green one for damaged hair.  I was surprised to see that Amazon sells it- I used to have to wait until I had a hair appointment at the salon.   


I only use it a couple times a week and a tiny bit goes a long way. It makes your hair really sleek and shiny, taking out the frizz too.  It also smells divine.  I love the Kerastase shampoo and conditioner too, but it's expensive so I don't always buy it. 


I wanted to ask y'all about Biotin supplements.  I read that Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails, though scientific data supporting this outcome are weak. Nevertheless, biotin is found in many cosmetics and health products for the hair and skin.  I found this brand on Amazon and it had a lot of great reviews, but I was wondering what you think or if you've tried it.  



Let me know!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Protein IQ

How was your Thanksgiving?  I was home the whole week with my son and we also had house guests, so I didn't get in any exercise.  My body is craving a good workout, so this week it's back at it!  I can hardly believe we're in December already and it's just 3 weeks until Christmas!  Let's make these 3 weeks count so we can finish the year strong.  And so we don't add on additional weight that we have to work to lose in the new year.  You with me? 

If you can't make it to the gym and/or just don't have time to workout, you can still accomplish so much by watching what you eat.  I love this visual example of how much protein, veggies, and starches should be on our plates.


And this list of proteins is pretty helpful too.  I aim for about 90 grams of lean protein a day when I'm trying to gain muscle and get lean.  I used to count and measure all my food but now I'm pretty good at estimating it.  If you want an easy way to track your calories, protein, carbs, and fat, try MyFitnessPal.com.  It's a free site and is very easy to use.


So, what are you doing to finish 2013 healthy and strong?  


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