Healthy Snacks

I am pretty good about eating healthy meals for the most part.  The thing that gets me in the most trouble is snacks! When I am in a “snacky” mood, I want something that is quick, and tasty.  I am not saying that fruits and vegetables aren’t quick and tasty, but if it’s down to cutting up an apple or sticking my hand in a bag of chips then the bag of chips wins every time! I know I am super lazy haha. I am sure I am not the only one that has a similar problem (at least I hope not lol). So here are a few tips I rounded up that will  help us all make better snack choices:

 

  • Make a healthy snack box: plan ahead for healthy snacking by placing a snack box for healthy foods in your fridge and pantry. that will make it easier for you or your family to find something they should be eating when they’re craving a snack. {courtesy of MIT’s getfit tip of the day} 
  • Make healthy eating your default setting: if you often come home tired and hungry, make your home a place where it’s easy to make healthy food choices. Clear your cupboards of snack foods with empty calories, and replace them with a generous supple of your favorite healthy, quick foods.  Your bigger temptations are easier to face if you don’t bring them home. {courtesy of MIT’s getfit tip of the day}
  • Can’t kick those cravings? Choose prepackaged single servings of your guilty pleasures, like chips or cookies, or package your own single servings using individual containers. This will help you from eating the entire family-size bag of chips or sleeve of cookies in one sitting.  It also helps you become more familiar with what a correct portion size looks like. {courtesy of MIT’s getfit tip of the day}
  • 50 Best Snacks Under 50 Calories this site has a bunch of healthy snacks and even has them categorized by craving!
  • 12 Delicious Snacks Under 100 Calories this blog has a cool infographic with a bunch of delicious and healthy snack ideas with things you already have in your cupboard or fridge!
  • Low fat cottage cheese with pineapple, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, or cucumbers.
  • Pretzels, string cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, popcorn (low/no butter), applesauce, dried fruit, graham crackers
  • Fruit smoothies, nuts, rice cakes

The sky is the limit! What are your favorite healthy snacks? I could definitely use some more ideas to help me eat healthy! Please Share!

RunDisney

I had a friend recently run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon and two family members run the Walt Disney World Marathon so I was curious about these as I am considering training for maybe a half marathon. So I went to the website RunDisney and was looking around.  It seems really fun! My family lives really close to Disneyland and I grew up going there all the time.  I think it would be really fun to do a half or full marathon there.

As I was surfing around the site, I looked under the training tab and found a goldmine! They have a section for running and nutrition. Under the Running section, they have free downloadable programs that show you step-by-step how to train for a half marathon and/or full marathon. They have sets for beginner runners and advanced runners. I have been searching for something like this recently and I was so excited to find something that lays it out in such a simple format. Under the Nutrition section, an official runDisney nutritionist gives tips on fueling before, after, and during runs as well as the importance of hydration and recovery.

This is seriously the one stop shop for learning how to healthily train for a half marathon or full marathon! Even for beginners! I was amazed at how doable the program is and I felt that even I (a very beginner runner) could do it. Check it out! They have a bunch of half and full marathons coming up this year!Image

To Diet or Not to Diet?

To me the word “diet” is among the four letter words no one likes to talk about. It has developed a bad connotation and everyone sees it as something bad that only fat people do to lose weight. I want to help clear the air and fix this misunderstanding. A diet isn’t something you “go on”. In reality, diet simply means nutritional habits and choices, the way we choose to eat on a daily basis. We can choose to eat a healthy diet or an unhealthy diet.

What constitutes a healthy diet? Livestrong gives some good ideas.

A healthy diet means a well-rounded diet of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. You achieve that by eating whole grains, low-fat dairy and meats, vegetable oils high in poly- & mono-unsaturated fats, a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water. A healthy diet also means eating in moderation. It doesn’t mean you have to cut out all unhealthy things, it just means to enjoy them in smaller portions. Yes you can still have chocolate chip cookies, just not the whole batch :).

When you choose to eat a healthy diet, you will have more energy, your body will work at its optimum, and you will also lose weight naturally and healthily. All of those thing will allow you to live a longer and more productive life. Who doesn’t want that!

Getting Back on Track

I recently moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts with my little family. Since money is so tight now, I have been more careful about the money I spend, especially at the grocery store. Unfortunately, I have fallen into the bad habit of buying cheap unhealthy food, because it’s cheap. For example, for the past month, I have bought at least 25 packages of Top Ramen because it’s a cheap tasty meal/snack. At first I didn’t care much, but I had this realization the other day: I graduated in Public Health, I know better than that! I know how important it is to be healthy! Why am I not living like I know that I should? So I am determined to eat healthy even on a tight budget and to cut back on sweets and junk food. If I want to be able to help people other people eat healthy, I need to first be able to eat healthy and live it myself.

Target Heart Rate for Weight Loss

Whenever I am on the cardio machines with the heart rate monitors, I always get confused at what those numbers mean and what heart rate I should be aiming for.  Because everyone is different, how do you calculate your personal target heart rate? Web MD has a target heart rate calculator that can help you figure out your numbers.  Mine said that while I am exercising I should be between 17 -25 beats every 10 seconds and should never exceed 33 beats in 10 seconds.  So that’s 102-150 beats per minute.  For most healthy people, the American Heart Association recommends an exercise target heart rate ranging from 50% to 75% of your maximum heart rate, which is normally calculated as the number 220 minus your age.

So how do you check your heart rate? An easy way to do this is to count your heartbeats (pulse) for 10 seconds using your watch, and then multiply this number by 6 to get your bpm. You can feel your heartbeats in several ways, such as by placing your fingers lightly but firmly over the inside of your wrist or on your neck just below the angle of your jaw. (Be careful not to put too much pressure on the neck; this can slow the heart down and can be dangerous in people with blockages of blood vessels in the neck.) You can also place your palm over your heart and count the number of beats that you feel.

Mix It Up

Each of these workouts consist of 3 parts to help condition your body and help you add variety to your workouts.  I believe that it is really important to switch up your workouts from time to time because your body can become used to a certain exercise and then it doesn’t burn as many calories or work as hard to achieve the same effect.  Plus it’s more fun when you try something different!  Do one three times a week on nonconsecutive days, says Karl Scott, a private trainer at The Sports Club/LA in New York City.

The Triathlon Trainer
A triple play that gets fast results

Do it: Pedal a bike at a moderate pace—an effort level of 5 or 6 (you’re working hard but can still carry on a conversation)—for 10 minutes. Next, run either outside or on a treadmill for 10 minutes, again at an effort level of 5 or 6. Last, head to the pool or a rowing machine and put in 10 minutes at the same effort level.

The Full-Body Toner
Combines strength moves and cardio for maximum fat-blasting

Do it: Jump rope for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds; do 5 sets. Then perform 2 sets of this 5-minute body-weight circuit: squats, pushups, step-ups, dips, and crunches (find instructions at womenshealthmag.com/fitness). Do as many reps of each exercise as you can in 1 minute, moving to the next without rest. Finish with a 10-minute jog at a medium pace.

The Power Booster
This interval workout builds speed, power, and lower-body tone.

Do it: Pick three cardio machines with adjustable resistance and do the following on each: Warm up for 2 minutes at a medium pace. For the first interval, raise to max effort by upping the resistance and/or incline, keeping the pace steady; go for 30 seconds, then recover at warmup pace for 2 minutes. Do 2 intervals per machine. Finish on one machine before moving to the next.

The Calorie Scorcher
Challenges your cardiovascular system and strengthens your body

Do it: Choose any three cardio machines. On the first one, go for 10 minutes at an effort level of 5 or 6. Move immediately to the next machine and go hard, at an effort level of 9 or 10—you should just barely be able to huff out words—for another 10 minutes. Finally, switch to the last machine and do 10 minutes at a 5 or 6 effort.

 

Pro-biotics Move Way Beyond Yogurt

Pro-biotics are interesting things.  They are live bacteria, usually the same bacteria that is found in our intestinal tract.  They are commonly put in yogurts and other dairy products.  Adding these bacteria to foods aids in better digestion and can help improve the immune system.  More and more companies are beginning to add these to their products.

Lactic Acid and bifidobacteria are the most commonly used strains in food products.

With the food market branching out when it comes to pro-biotics, it raises an important question: will these bacteria have the same effects and still be active in dry food products? Live bacteria may not be sustained in dry products. Some manufacturers may add probiotics and label the product as such in order to win customers despite the lack of evidence that the bacteria in the product is alive. There is no FDA regulation on this so many food companies have begun to add “undocumented strains” or strains that they have created themselves to their products.

 

Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health

I really liked this article because it introduced the Stages of Change model and gives descriptions of things you can do at each stage to be able to move forward with changing your bad habits.  These stages can be applied to any bad habit you are trying to change.  The first step in making a change is figuring out which stage of change you are at.  That’s where you will begin.

Find your Stage:

  1. Pre-contemplation/Contemplation: the time when people are thinking about change and trying to become more motivated to get started.
  2. Preparation: when people become planners and figure out specific ideas that will work for them.
  3. Action: when people are acting on their plan and making the changes they set out to achieve.
  4. Maintenance: when you have become used to your change and have kept it up for more than 6 months.

Goals for each Stage of Change:

  1. Pre-contemplation/Contemplation: It might be helpful to ask yourself about the pros (benefits) and cons (drawbacks) of changing your habits.
  2. Preparation: This does not mean taking big steps. Rather, it means creating your plan for action and beginning to make small changes.
  3. Action: You are making real changes to your lifestyle, which is fantastic. To stick with your habits, it is helpful to assess how you are doing, overcome your setbacks, and reward yourself for your hard work and commitment.
  4. Maintenance: Now that healthy eating or physical activity has become a part of your routine, you need to keep things interesting, avoid slip-ups, and find ways to cope with what life throws at you.

Start Walking Now!

Bad Fat, Good Fat

When people diet, especially those with heart disease, they cut out fats.  Yes there are some fats that are bad and harmful to our bodies.  But there are also good fats that are actually good for your heart and help to reduce heart disease.  It’s not so much fat is in your diet, its about the types of fat you are consuming.  So you don’t want to cut out fats completely–just the bad ones–because you will be missing out on the tremendous healthy-heart benefits and nutrients that come from the good fats.

Bad Fats

Trans fats are artery-clogging, manufactured polyunsaturated fats that have been hydrogenated (either partially or fully) to have the same shelf-life benefits as Saturated fats.  They are found in fried foods, baked goods, and margarine.  Always check the ingredients list for any oil that has been hydrogenated–that indicates trans fat.  Even if it says 0 grams Trans fat, it really means that there is is less that .5 grams per serving.  Lots of things that we think wouldn’t have trans fat in it does like peanut butter.   Saturated Fats are not as bad as trans fats but are still not good for your heart.  Saturated fats are usually found in meats and diary products.  Trans and saturated fats increase your LDLs which are the bad cholesterols.

Good Fats

Unsaturated fats (poly- and mono-) are found in canola oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados.  They actually increase your HDLs (good cholesterols that help get rid of the bad LDLs) and reduce LDLs.  They also have been found to reduce blood pressure and triglycerides.  Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish.  They have been shown to reduce blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and slow the build-up of plaque in the arteries.  Studies have shown that this type of fat can reduce risk of heart disease by 35% and reduce risk of sudden death of heart attack by 50%.  Omega-6 fatty acids are also a type of good fat.  They are found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.  When eaten in moderation and in place of saturated fats, they can help promote heart health and brain function.

Dance Your Way Slim

Dancing is one of the funnest ways to get a workout! You have a blast and barely even notice you are getting a workout.  Its a great cardio exercise.  “With dancing, you don’t realize you are exercising,” but getting down for an hour torches between 200 and 600 calories, says Susan Biali, MD, who is a trained flamenco dancer. Plus, it helps build strength, increase flexibility, and even slow the aging process. What’s more, grooving with friends equals high-quality bonding time—and that can boost your mood in a big way.

If regular exercise isn’t your thing, try Zumba! It is so much fun! Its a dance-based aerobic exercise.  Literally translated to mean “move fast,” this Colombian dance craze has swept fitness groups across six continents! It’s a mile-a-minute mix of traditional aerobic moves for maximum heart pumping, sassy Latin shimmies, and hip-hop-inspired booty shaking. Best of all, you don’t have to be a pro to join in the party. New participants are encouraged to hang in at their own pace, picking up the moves as they go along.  Whenever I go to the classes they have here at BYU there are people from all age groups – it’s for everyone! It is seriously the funnest form of exercise I have ever done.