Friday, May 31, 2013

15 reasons why you might not be losing weight

try as hard as you may, you're not losing weight.  you're eating healthy foods, you're working out, but the weight isn't coming off!  why?!?  well, one of the following 15 reasons might be why!

1.  you're eating too much healthy food: nuts, avocados, whole wheat pasta, and olive oil are all natural and healthy, but they are void of calories.  you still need to watch how much you eat of the good stuff.  for example, avocados offer a ton of health benefits, but an entire fruit is over 200 calories.  make sure you're being wise about serving size.

2.  you don't eat breakfast:  skipping breakfast may seem like a great way to save on calories, but your body will actually hold onto fat because it thinks it's being starved.  people who eat breakfast regularly lose more weight, so make sure to eat breakfast each morning to jump-start your metabolism.  don't just grab anything.  make sure you eat protein to give yourself energy and fiber to fill you up.

3.  you don't practice good portion control:  when it comes to a balanced diet, we know that portion control is one of those keys to success.  keep measuring cups and spoons on hand to ensure your serving sizes are appropriate, and learn how to give your body the "i'm full" signal in order to help you drop the form when the time is right.

4.  you eat while standing up:  standing at the fridge or the counter to chow down isn't saving time or energy and can lead to mindless eating.  it's best to designate time for snacking and meals that's set apart from other activities.

5.  you don't sleep enough:  making time for your workouts can mean less time for sleep, but it's important to get enough z's if you're trying to lose weight.  you need extra energy to keep up with your exercise routine, and skimping on sleep can affect your body's ability to control its appetite:  not enough shut-eye increases appetite-stimulating hormones.

6.  you don't cut your food:  something as simple as slicing up your dinner can be helpful for your overeating woes.  cutting food into tiny pieces may seem slightly childish, but studies show that humans find smaller portions more satisfying and, as a result, are satisfied with less.

7.  you drink soda:  soda offers literally no nutritional benefits, and continuing to drink the beverage is sabotaging your weight-loss goals--even if you only drink diet.  studies have shown that individuals who drink two diet sodas a day or more had waistlines that were 500% larger than the nondrinkers.  since quitting soda is no joke, check out this 28-day plan for breaking a cola habit.

8.  your partner isn't on the same healthy road:  a partner who's on a similar path can be a huge help to your weight-loss goals, but if your partner is not on aboard, then your relationship may be making you fat.  you can't expect to lose weight if your partner constantly suggests ordering takeout, wants to go out for ice cream, or encourages you to sleep in instead of hitting the gym!  communicating that you need their support in losing weight is a great first step in finding compromises--for both of you.  for starters, the next time you have dinner out, offer to split an appetizer or skip dessert.

9.  you don't drink water:  besides keeping you hydrated, drinking water on the regular, according to recent studies, can aid with weight loss.  filling up on water before a meal helps encourage portion control, and eating foods that contain a lot of water (like fruits and veggies) will fill you up faster, causing you to eat less.  drinking cool water can even speed up your metabolism and discourage cravings for sugary drinks like soda and juice.  now that's a reason to stay hydrated!

10. you don't leave time for fun:  since stress is shown to cause weight gain by triggering the body to eat more--especially foods high in sugar & fat--make sure you give yourself time to relax and unwind.  and it's an added bonus that so many fun activities, like dancing, hiking, and biking, are already natural calorie-burners!

11.  you're always dining out:  hitting your favorite restaurant is a great way to unwind, but you're more likely to indulge in a huge meal complete with appetizers, drinks, fried foods, and desserts.  calorie counts are also a mystery, since many foods aren't labeled.  if you don't want to give up your nights out, then split a meal with a friend, order healthy options like salads or grilled chicken, and sip water instead of sodas or wine.

12.  you exercise with an empty stomach:  if you regularly exercise without eating first, you should reconsider:  when you work out on an empty stomach, the calories burned come from muscle, not fat.  since muscle burns more calories than fat, the more muscle mass you have, the better it is for weight loss.  no only will fueling your body help you to avoid losing muscle, but also, you'll have more energy to push yourself through your workout.

13.  you only do cardio:  if you live on the treadmill but never lift a pound, then you're missing out on one of
the most important pieces of the fitness puzzle.  not only does weight training prevent injury by strengthening the joints, but it also builds muscle mass and increases metabolic rate.  ultimately, just doing cardio keeps you fat!

14.  you eat without thinking:  aligning mealtime with a screen like your computer or television can be hurting your weight-loss goals.  designating a special time for meals without distractions will help you connect to your food and, as a result, eat less.  sometimes you don't even realize how much you're scarfing down when your mind is somewhere else.

15.  you don't eat enough:  don't starve yourself to save calories for later.  it'll not only mess up your metabolism, and by dinnertime, that famished feeling will likely cause you to eat more than you would if you weren't starving.  not only is starving yourself not sustainable for continue weight loss, but also, limiting yourself to too-small portions can lead to excess snacking between mealtimes.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

pump up the jam...pump it up!

i am a music junkie.  addict.  snob.  you name it...if it's music, i'm in.  especially at the gym.  holy cow do i love it at the gym.  not only does a steady beat help keep a good lifting or running rhythm, but sometimes the lyrics keep me going, too.  i specifically chose the songs on my "gym" playlist for this purpose and am known to drum on my thighs between sets and walk around mouthing songs by rage against the machine, skrillex, ellie goulding, and swedish house mafia...among others.

i know what works for me, music-wise, when working out, but here are a few tips you can use if you want to start bobbing your head to the beat along with me.

make sure the music you pick is stuff you actually want to hear.  you don't have to pick the songs i listen to, that noisy racket your kids are blaring, or the songs on that list over there.  if you draw energy and motivation from country, classical, soul, gospel, or death metal...go for it!  studies have shown that working out with music can improve your mental acuity when you train.  it can also have the positive effect of helping you to train longer and harder by allowing you to concentrate on the rhythm of your workout rather than on the difficulty of your exercises.  so, if you're going to wind up training longer, make the music enjoyable and fun!

change up your mix.  it's easy to listen to an entire album from your favorite artist, but knowing every beat, word and tempo of the songs you listen to during a workout can reduce your drive to push yourself to run further or lift more weights.  don't let predictability sabotage your workout so make sure you're changing out the tracks or even the type of music you listen to.  try listening to the radio on your smartphone or mp3 player.  the constant guessing of which type of song will play next will keep your mind active.

create playlists that slowly decrease in tempo as to assist in creating a full and proper cool down period for your workout.  soothing music can help your mind and body relax after a strenuous workout.

play it safe when training with music.  did you know that music devices are often restricted from use in running events because they have the potential to place you in harms way, such as in the path of a car, bicyclist. or other runners?  zoning out to your favorite tunes while out running the streets can turn into a dangerous experience.  pay attention to your surroundings and things like stoplights, sidewalks, and street signs.  speaking from experience and almost getting hit by a texting driver, i'm glad i abide by my running rule and only have my earbud in one ear.  with music only partially distracting me and dulling my other senses so much, i'm definitely more aware.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Monday, May 27, 2013

suckers for smoothies

what's not to like about sipping on a smoothie?  they're refreshing, cool, come in fun and fruity flavors, and you can sip them through a straw.  their popularity is so huge that you can find them in the dairy aisle of the grocery store, at drive-thru fast food chains, coffee shops, actual smoothie stores, and their components come pre-packed in the freezer aisle.  they sound like a healthy treat.  sometimes they're anything but.

though usually made with healthy options like soy milk, coconut water, skim milk, yogurt, and fresh or frozen foot, some feature high-fat and high-sugar items like ice cream, peanut butter, sweetened syrups, chocolate, or artificial ingredients.  what you can end up with is a drink with upwards of 600 calories and enough saturated fat to rival a double cheeseburger.  don't even get me started on the possibility of triple digit carbohydrate grams.

for example, a 20-ounce serving of smoothie king's the hulk-strawberry has more calories than a burger king double cheeseburger with a medium order of fries. that smoothies totals 964 calories, 32 grams of fat, 13 of which are saturated, 125 grams of sugar, and 145 grams of carbohydrates.

if you're looking for a healthy smoothie, your best bet is to keep it simple and make it yourself with the freshest of ingredients.  as someone who spent several years banging blenders at jamba juice, i know for a fact that fresher is better.  i'm not bashing my former employer and actually draw inspiration from their flavor profiles, but their smoothies do not suit my nutritional needs as a clean eater.  freeze your own fresh fruit, use low fat or fat free greek yogurt to pump up the protein and other goodies like vitamin D, B-12, and calcium.

as a meal replacement, look for smoothies that are higher in protein and a high amount of fiber.  you'll be more likely to hold off hunger for more than a couple of hours while still indulging that chill/sweet tooth.

as a between-meal snack, choose the smallest size possible and keep the calories below 300.

here are some of my favorite recipes that keep my smoothie tooth satisfied:

vanilla chai smoothie
1/2 cup light vanilla soymilk
1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
2/3 cup banana slices
1/2 cup crushed ice
2 pinches ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

add all ingredients to your blender and pulse until the mixture is well blended and smooth.
makes one serving

149 calories, 7 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber

peanut butter cup smoothieingredients
1/2 cup light vanilla soy milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup banana slices
2/3 cup crushed ice

add all ingredients to your blender and pulse until the mixture is well blended and smooth
makes one serving

284 calories, 10 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 3.8 g saturated fat, 6 g fiber

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

dinosaurs aren't the only ones who hate push-ups

if there is one thing that continually mystifies me, it's why something as simple as a push-up has become so confusing and impossible for so many people.  this is like the exercise equivalent of every adult in the world suddenly forgetting how to walk.

besides needing correct and rigid posture, including head position, you must have your priorities in check: proper range of motion, elbow orientation, and resistance.

that's too much for me to think about when i'm working out.  when i start getting cerebral, i don't focus on the overall goal and i fail on form.  that's one reason why they're so hard for me.

one other reason why they're so hard, in general, is because body weight exercises as difficult.  you think doing a simple push-up is simple.  well, you're wrong.

first and foremost, if someone can't hold their body tightly in a straight line from ankle to ear, they can't do a proper-push up.  this alignment should never change throughout the entire exercise.  don't push your shoulders up and then later bring your hips up to meet this.  that isn't a push-up.  that's why you look weird.

secondly, the confusion surrounding the range of motion shouldn't have to be specified, but since it's it is.  at the top, elbows should be completely extended and shoulder blades protracted.  at the bottom, the chest should be in light contact with the floor.  all the while, the body should remain straight and rigid.

this range of motion should take precedence over the degree of resistance.  if you can't complete a push-up to full depth from your toes, modify your approach and do girlie push-ups from your knees. there's absolutely no shame in doing them this way.

though difficult on the ego to master push-ups, the benefits are worth the embarrassment.  nobody loads weights to bench press only half way down because it's too heavy.  they start with a weight they can move through the entire range of motion and build up from there.  the push-up should be viewed the same.

keep your upper arms within about 45 degrees from the side of your body.  this will allow the shoulder to move through that full range of motion more easily and naturally.  moving the hands wider and bringing the elbows farther from the sides will usually make push-ups easier for people but it also limits depth and starts tearing up the shoulders pretty quickly.

when performed well, a push-up doesn't draw attention.  it's not a flashy feat of athleticism.  but how a person performs a push-up is indicative of their athletic foundation and their commitment to excellence and performance.

put a little attention and effort into the simplest things and it will pay returns in the more complicated and interesting ones.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Friday, May 24, 2013

where we're going, we don't need roads

because of some gnarly health issues that have presented themselves in my life over the years, i've often found myself wondering what the future would hold for me.

will i have a long life where i am of sound mind and body or will i be confined to a small room in a care facility, unable to take care of myself?

will i be able to have children?

will i develop heart disease or other cardiovascular related conditions?

will i become overweight?  obese?  morbidly obese?

will i be able to enjoy my life by maintaining those abilities that keep me interacting, moving, laughing, playing, and just being my crazy ol' self with the people i love?

while there are the obvious unknowns about life, there are a variety of things you can do to ensure the best for your future.  and it all comes down to how you treat yourself and your body.  eating clean and training dirty may not guarantee that you live past 100 and are still running and lifting weights until your dying day, but that can guarantee that you are in great shape and running at peak performance.

personally, by incorporating healthy habits, i have seen life altering changes that have given me hope for a long, healthy, and happy future.  it took hard work and a conviction that i would do whatever it took to invest in that future, and it will require constant maintenance, but isn't it worth it to know that every clean bite of food i take and every drop of sweat that hits the floor helps me spend a little more time on this earth?  i think it is.

you can change your future.  and you don't need a delorean.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Monday, May 13, 2013

happy monday

i love a good start fresh to my week when a monday rolls around.  start where you are today.  whatever happened before is in the past.  start fresh.  make healthy choices.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Friday, May 10, 2013

the fit beast feasts: linguine with italian tuna and white beans

if there's one food that lights up my eyes and fattens up my thighs, it's pasta.  from cheese smothered angel hair, to linguine with a cream cheese, garlic, and herb sauce, to a hearty lasagna, there is no concept of portion control once i dig in to serve myself.  i just love love love love love that naughty pasta loaded up with sauce and cheese.

well, i used to love it like that.  it might sound weird, but one of my new favorite ways to eat pasta is with fishy, smelly tuna.  even if i'm feeling lazy and do a whole wheat pasta with a packet of tuna and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or a "fancier" recipe like the one below, this is my new favorite!

per serving, this recipe boasts only 386 calories, 6 g of fat (1 g saturated) 62 g carbs, 9 g fiber, and 26 g of protein.  not guilt-free, but guilt-less.

8 ounces spinach linguine
8 ounces italian tuna, packed in oil
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 thinly sliced lemon (optional)

cook pasta as directed on package; drain and rinse under cold water.  drain tuna, reserving oil in a salad bowl; whisk juice, garlic, salt and pepper with oil.  flake tuna into same bowl.  add pasta, beans, onion, and chopped parsley; toss gently to coat with dressing.  serve with parsley leaves and lemon slices if desired.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

be a greatist

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

do it daily

i have this little gem printed and taped to my bathroom mirror.  it's one of the first things i see and it's a constant reminder to get my day started off on the right foot.  not only does it wake me up, but it gets those endorphins rushing and gets my day off to a good start.

give it a shot.  see if it makes a difference in your day.  even if your mood doesn't change, you'll at least be getting in a little morning exercise!!

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

think about it

think about it.  what are you doing to take care of yourself, to treat your health problems?  be honest.  be smarter.  be better.

eat clean.  live lean.  live better.  live longer.