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Archive for category calories

Eating. How to do it. {And other stuff}

Wondering what to eat to lose weight? Or maybe you want to know what to eat just to be as healthy as you can?

It’s no secret, diet is extremely important to weight loss and health and wellness. You can work out every single day, but until your diet is clean, you won’t see the best results possible. Some people will tell you that a calorie is a calorie. If you want to be literal, yes, I suppose it is. If you have a lot of weight to lose, counting and cutting back calories and thinking about little else will definitely help. But there will come a time when you’ll plateau. Not only that, if you’re eating low-calorie junk, you’ll still feel like crap. Not to mention, eating low-calorie junk food will not help your actual HEALTH any. A healthier choice at the SAME calorie count will mean more nutrients, more fiber, more filling, etc.

So, put down the 100 calorie snack packs, the pretzels, and the diet ice cream. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your results will be SO noticeable, and you’ll feel SO much better once you clean up your diet.

But I know you’re still asking… “How do I eat clean?” True, 100% clean would be nothing store-bought, really. Maybe bulk grains and of course produce from the store, but anything in a box would be a no-go. I try to work toward this, but I’m not there yet.

Instead, I want to share with you what I believe is some of the most important things to eat (and not eat) that will make a big impact but also be reasonable for those of us who still need a little convenience in our lives…

Here’s my “Rules to eat by”:

  • Get rid of enriched wheat products. Replace with items that specifically say “100% whole grain”. Doesn’t have to be wheat as the grain, you can think about rice, barley, oats, etc
  • Drink water all day long, every day
  • Get rid of sodas, inculding diet sodas.
  • Eat at least 3 servings of veggies every day. (1 serving of leafy veggies like raw spinach is equal to 1 cup. Small veggies like chopped carrots & broccoli is 1/2 cup as a serving.)
  • Eat 1 serving of fruit every day
  • Buy organic as much as possible, especially the types of produce and fruit that were directly exposed to pesticides and all that garbage. Berries, greens, apples, etc are especially important. Things that you peel, like oranges and bananas are less important.
  • Eat 1 serving of beans every day
  • Combine the ‘must eats’ as much as possible. Try having a big salad for your lunches…include beans, seeds, etc & plenty of veggies, then you get it all in at once!
  • Eat every 3 hours or so. Snacks can include small stuff if you’re not super hungry. Think nuts, greek yogurt, fruit, etc
  • Try to keep meat to only 2 meals a day to start. Try to work your way to 1 meat a day, then if you’re feeling amazing like I think you will be, you can go from there.
  • Get rid of as much packaged food as you can.
  • Check product labels, look for stuff with only real ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
  • Remember to keep your meats lean. Stick to chicken, fish, and turkey as much as possible.
  • Treat yourself some, but be reasonable. Have a drink once in a while if it’s important to you. But be real with yourself about how much you’re eating/drinking, measure it out. Stick to dark chocolate (72% cacao or darker), or red wine..or just a couple cookies a week,etc). This shouldn’t be a daily thing, work to kick your sugar habit. YES you can.

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A few random *other* tips for well-being & weightless/healthy living success:

  • Sleep 7-8 hrs every night. No excuses
  • Take time every day to relax. No, sleeping doesn’t count.
  • Drink more water (Yes, I know I said that already. Must be important, huh?) 🙂
  • Work on speaking to yourself in a positive voice.
  • Write out your goals. Not just your fitness goals. Write them all out and revisit often.
  • Laugh alot.
  • Make new friends.
  • Find old friends.
  • Help someone in need.
  • Be nice to yourself and to others, even if they may not deserve it.

Soooo….what your FIRST step going to be?? Tell us in the comments below!

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A quick HIIT workout from me to you

I’m sure you’ve heard of HIIT by now (High Intensity Interval Training)…and if you haven’t, here’s a little info for you. It’s a quicker, more effective way of doing some cardio. You can get a better workout in about half the time by basically getting your intensity VERY high for a short burst and then recovering for a short burst and repeating. It’s been shown to burn more fat than a steady state cardio such as a jog or walk.

HIIT can be pretty tiring for newbies – and you’ll probably have sore muscles after your first few tries, but that means it’s working!

If you’re interested in trying a little HIIT, I made a quick 10 minute beginner workout for you. Try doing it 3 times a week. You can still do your normal cardio if you’d like, too. And don’t forget your strength training. This HIIT workout will help speed up your metabolism, so why not give it a go?

So give it a try, let me know what you think..and let me know if you’d like more workouts like this! (& if you like it, please tweet a link to this post…or pin it, or send to your friends!)

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Eating is easy!

Lots of times when people ask me for help losing weight or getting in shape, a hang up ends up being about food. Sometimes folks think they should eat very little. Or perhaps they just don’t feel like they have time to cook or prepare anything. And even a few just don’t know what to eat because they’re confused about all of the conflicting information out there.

Well I’m here to tell you a few things about that.

a) No, you should not cut your calories to 1200 or less. There’s a formula based on height/weight/age/activity level that can help you figure out how much you should be eating. And no. It’s not 1200. People get that in their heads because they hear people say “you should never eat less than 1200”. That’s true. That’s the bare minimum to fuel your body for NO activity. But trust, me 1200 is waaaaay too low. You may lose weight this way, but you’re losing muscle and water weight. If you eat too little, you are slowing your metabolism down. Not cool! We all want faster metabolisms, don’t we? You must eat, eat, eat to get that. (Eating healthy foods, of course, not junk!) I literally eat something every 2-3 hours. My body is a fuel/fat burning machine, partially due to my food intake, and partially due to my muscle-building workouts, of course.

b) Yes, you have time to prepare healthy stuff. Here’s what I make for most mornings. I make a bunch on the weekend and freeze them. They take 2 minutes to heat up in the morning, and it’s homemade so you know there’s no added crap in it. There’s plenty of protein and even some whole grains so you’ll feel fuller longer and you’ll fuel your body the right way.

Make ahead breakfast wraps:

Just scramble some eggs with salt and pepper, spoon the equivalent of about 2 eggs onto a whole grain (or low carb) tortilla – the small, taco sized tortiallas. Add a slice or two of canadian bacon – or turkey bacon if you prefer. Optional, top w/ a tablespoon of salsa and or a little bit of low fat cheese. Roll your tortilla with both ends tucked in and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze. To serve, take plastic wrap off and microwave for about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave power.

It takes only about 10 minutes to cook, assemble and throw 6-8 of these in the freezer.

Here’s a freshly made one that I made over the weekend. I added a little gouda to this and it was absolutely heavenly and I was actually full for a few hours, YAY!

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and finally,

c) I know there’s lots of confusing information out there. And I’m happy to answer your questions, so please always feel free to comment here or even email me: fithappy@yahoo.com and I’ll help you sort through the confusion. But a couple of rules I’ve found to live by… don’t get caught up in any fad diets, they will work short term, but are typically too radical to follow for very long. Not to mention many times they cut out entire food groups. Not a very sustainable way to eat. Don’t be afraid of things like carbs. Switch to whole grain pastas and breads and your carbs won’t be as evil…and do try to go carb-free for one meal a day or so. We all need carbs if we’re active at all! And finally, don’t be afraid of fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar does. Kick that sweet tooth habit if you have it. And yes, carbs do turn to sugars, so that’s why you should go carb-free once a day and why you should switch to whole grains. Really, don’t get too caught up in these things. Eat whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, limit your boxed/canned/processed foods and pay attention to eating something every few hours. That, combined with exercise is the key to a healthier lifestyle!

So tell me, what’s the most confusing thing about food for you?

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Can’t I just ‘burn off’ bad food with exercise?

We’ve all probably said it at some point. “I work out because I love to eat.” Or, “I can eat this double bacon cheeseburger with extra large fries and a milkshake, I’ll just run a couple of extra miles today.” While working out obviously does burn calories, it’s a little more complicated than just that.

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First, it’s hard to know exactly how many calories you’re actually burning. If you have a good heart rate monitor, you can come close, but it’s still not exact. Same thing with figuring out how many calories you should eat in a day. Unless you go and actually get your metabolic rate tested, you’re just going to be making an educated guess.

Not only that, but, eating unhealthy foods or too much of a food group affects your body with more than just extra calories. For instance, in the example above, eating a double bacon cheeseburger and fries and a milkshake could be anywhere from about 1000-2000 calories at one sitting. First of all, that’s a LOT more running than a few miles. For me, that’s more like running 20 miles. Seriously. BUT also some of the sugar from the milkshake gets stored as fat. The carbs in the fries and the bun that your body doesn’t need for fuel gets turned into sugar and stored as fat. You’ll be storing more than you can burn. Even if you work out. And I don’t know anyone who has a metabolism good enough to actually metabolize 2000 calories in one sitting.

Having said all of that, I don’t want to make you think that working out doesn’t help with eating some unwise choices. It still does. It’s still better than eating all of that and then sitting on your couch the rest of the week. My point here is to try to help you realize that it’s more than just ‘calories in versus calories out’. If you want to be fit, lose weight, be toned and feel amazing, you will have to consider  your choices. Eat healthy most days. Definitely indulge once in a while. It’ll keep you sane. Just try to keep your indulgences small. Instead of that double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a shake, have a regular cheeseburger, small fry, and split the shake with someone. And don’t do it more than once a week.

There’s another point here that should be brought up as well. If you have the mindset of essentially punishing yourself for bad food choices with a workout, then you’ll come to resent your workouts. Your workouts should be your reward. Your happy time. Doing something good for yourself. Be proud of it!

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Love that picture. Not only the message, but how strong and fit she is. Folks, I’m telling you right now, she doesn’t eat unhealthy stuff often. Not looking like that. The good news is, once you get the junk out of your food, you will feel amazing and you won’t even crave it very much anymore. *I speak from experience*

And now that you know that excess carbs and sugar get stored as fat, consider spacing out your carbs into small amounts throughout the day. Your body needs some carbs, so don’t cut them out, but just keep your portions small  and spaced out so your body can use them. In fact, try timing your workout to be about an hour after eating a meal that includes carbs. This will help your body to actually use them as fuel instead of store them as fat.

So tell me, since we’re talking about food choices, what are some of your favorite, healthy snacks? I’d love to know, and I know my readers are always on the lookout for good snack ideas.

(BTW, I just looooove Pinterest. That’s where I got those photos, in case you were wondering) 🙂

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Oh, Calories…

Ever wondered how much you should *really* be eating? Well you should! Many of us tend to overeat or even under-eat. Overeating is more recognizable. Most people who do it, sort of know they’re doing it. Under-eating is a different story. Some people “just aren’t hungry” enough to eat all the time. The bad part about that – is that means their metabolism is SO slow that they aren’t feeling hunger like other people. And eating too little makes your metabolism stall even further – AND it makes your body store fat. Bad combination, huh?

The good news is, this can all be fixed – with a little knowledge and some new habits.

First, you have to figure out how many calories you burn in a day without trying. This is your basal metabolic rate (BMR). It’s what your body burns just by living. You can estimate your BMR by using some online calculators. The one I use is this one: http://www.bmrcalculator.org/

Basically, you’ll enter in your height, weight, age, and sex and the calculator will tell you what your BMR is. Now, you must account for your activity level in addition to the BMR to figure out what you *really* burn in a day. Unless you’re literally bed-ridden, you are burning more than your BMR. The activity levels vary based on how hard you work out and how many times per week. That activity level adds to your BMR to give you total calories burned per day. So, if you wanted to stay at your same weight, you’d want to eat right around that number of calories every day. If you wanted to lose a little weight, a good rule of thumb is to eat about 500 calories less per day than what your BMR + Activity level amount shows. Using the site I mentioned above, you can figure out your BMR, then right below that, there is a chart that you can use to determine what your total is based on activity. Take that number, write it down somewhere.

Now, to get a handle on what you’re really eating, you should start logging your intake. I use fatsecret.com to do this. I don’t use it much anymore because I now have a good handle on what my 1600-1800 calories looks like (that’s how much I should be eating every day, so yours may be different!) Just create a free account there and start logging every single thing you eat and drink. Don’t overlook things like sauces and dressings too!

After a few days of this, you’ll get to seeing your patterns. This is a tool you’ll be so glad you found, because really, calories in versus calories out is the BASIS for any healthy diet. From there, you can start thinking about protein, carbs, fats, ratios, etc. I’ll hit on this in another post, I promise!

If you already use another calorie tracking program, I’d love to hear about it – comment below! 🙂

~To your health~

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