When it comes to this whole weight loss thing, your diet is extremely important.
Let me repeat that: When it comes to this whole weight loss thing, your diet is extremely important.
I know several people who want to lose weight and decide they're going to try Insanity or P90x or start going to the gym five days a week, and end up disappointed because the number on the scale hasn't moved (not that the number is the be-all, end-all indicator, but that's a different post for a different time). Upon closer inspection, I learn that their diet hasn't changed much, if at all. And the diet is the real culprit behind any sabotage of your workout routine.
The first thing to note - and this is so much of a gimme that it's not really a tip - is that you should be cooking for yourself. It's really hard to control how much oil or butter or whatever a restaurant is using to cook your meal. Unless you have the willpower of a monk (or are eating half-poritions of relatively healthy salads with dressing on the side every time), the portions are likely going to be wayyyyy more than a single-serving. So your first step is to take it home and start in your own kitchen.
Eat real food. Eating clean is all about eating real food. I haven't done any scientific studies or read any of them, but I am convinced part of the reason the Paleo diet is so successful is that it forces you to eat real food (I disagree on some of the parts about grains and don't get me started on the authenticity). If you eat real food that you enjoy - not just grapefruits - you're more likely to stick with healthier eating. If you can make a meal that's out of things that come out of the ground, or don't use foods that contain chemicals that make organic chemistry a prereq for reading an ingredient label, then you're on the right track. This doesn't mean that you only have to eat salad, obviously. You can make a meal that doesn't look, sound, or taste like health food by using real ingredients. Now, isn't that better?
Plan ahead. This tip knocks out two concerns. First of all, if you're busy, any ideas and hopes and dreams go right out the window. You forgot to pack food because you ran out the door. You decide that you'll just grab something on the way home. Hours later, you're about to eat your steering wheel or punch out the next driver who looks at you funny because you're so hungry. We actually call this "hangry" in my household, and yes, I am describing this from personal experience. But your decisions made while hangry are not necessarily going to be healthy ones - by the time you get to a place that serves food, it's probably going to be a fast-food place. And it's probably going to be something that serves up 1200 calories instead of 400.
So what do you do? Plan ahead. This means that you plan out what you're eating for the week, or the next few days if you find a week too intimidating. If I make a big dinner, I can have the leftovers for lunch, saving my steering wheel from teeth marks. It also means that I don't go out to Trader Joe's and buy a ton of produce that will go bad in my fridge because I've been too busy to actually do anything with it. Planning helps keep you from making bad decisions while in the grocery store and helps you stay on track with your eating throughout the week.
Trick your eyes. I have these big, giant plates at home. Whenever I use them, I feel compelled to cover it in food. This works if I have a salad with my meal, because then I've just upped my veggie intake considerably. But if I'm not eating a salad, I'll fill it up with a bunch more food. I know this sounds crazy, but a covered plate makes me feel good, and I discovered that I'm much more likely to eat less if I put my meal on a smaller plate. If you look down at your meal and think it looks measly in comparision to your appetite, you are way more likely to overeat. And it turns out I'm backed up by science on this one. Score one for me! Anyway, if you put your meal into a bowl or a smaller plate, you'll feel fuller and happier than if you place a reasonable portion size on a regular plate.
Ok, it's no secret. I love to eat, and it's been that way since I was a little kid. I was never a picky eater. Of course, this has come to bite me in the ass since, as an adult, I am not really all that great at eating less. And, as we've told you time and time again, diet is a HUGE component in anyone's weight loss journey. If you make a change in your diet and keep it up, your gains will be much better than through exercise alone.
Changes can be really difficult to make, especially if they've been deeply ingrained in your day-to-day behavior. Have you noticed that we reward children with treats? Have you noticed that when someone says, "No, I'm not going to have some cheetos/pizza/ice cream," people sometimes look at you like you're the crazy person? It's like eating poorly is expected and any deviation from that is weird. It's like we, as a society, have decided that everyone should be able to eat "whatever they want", where "whatever they want" means "junk food". Oh, and we're supposed to stay thin while doing it. Sound crazy yet?
Digression aside, if your routine includes foods that aren't exactly fantastic for losing weight, it can be diffcult to drop them completely...and stay away from them forever. This is why yo-yo dieting happens: you completely change your diet and become extremely strict with what you put in your body. Until you reach your goal, in which case you backslide back into the same eating habits. Rinse and repeat.
I'm a huge fan of making sustainable changes to stop yo-yo dieting in its tracks. To that end, I'm going to give you three of my favorite food swaps to help you get on track to making your fitness journey one with a healthier diet. This comes with the caveat that these swaps may not be the absolute best thing you can do. However, when you need to start, you have to start somewhere, and changing one thing is less intimidating and overwhelming than changing everything and quitting things cold turkey.
Instead of cheese or mayo on your sandwhich...choose avocado or salsa. Health food gets a bad rap because it's usually seen to be tasteless or dry. If you've tried to eat a sandwhich without any condiments, you know what I'm talking about. If it's not fun or satisfying to eat, you're probably not going to stick with it long term. Avocado's creaminess lends a smooth texture while providing good, healthy fats (in moderation, of course). If you don't like the taste of avocado or you want a different flavor profile, salsa is also a great substitution, offering both less calories than mayo as well as some spice.
Instead of pasta...try spaghetti squash. Pasta is one of those things that is incredibly tasty but incredibly not that great for you. Whole wheat pasta is a substitution but sometimes I find that the taste of whole wheat noodles just doesn't do it for me. I've found a friend in spaghetti squash, though. It holds a sauce well and provides servings of vegetables where you did not have any before. One squash yields a TON of "noodles", so you can have leftovers for later in the week, which is great for anyone (me) who lives their life in the car. For everyone who is balking at the idea of eating a vegetable, keep in mind that the squash, in this application, is meant to be eaten with a sauce. It won't be bland unless you make a bland sauce.
Instead of soda...drink water. I know, I know: we love to tell you to hydrate. The fact is that you're probably not drinking enough water. Left to my own devices, I'll drink coffee and only coffee all day long because that's what's in front of me. However, if I keep my water bottle in front of me, I'm more likely to drink water, and you know what? I generally feel a lot better and, perhaps more importnatly, I recover from personal training session-induced ass kickings faster.
Now, I know some people don't like water because it's boring. I'm not going to pretend that I understand what that means, but I know it must be true because multiple people have told me this when I suggest they drink more water. Your Coke Zero or whatever might have zero calories but it also has a host of other stuff that isn't fantastic for your body (or teeth). If you really can't deal with the taste of water, add some flavor with some fruit or vegetables. Add strawberries, cucumbers, lemons, or oranges to your water to impart some flavor. While this method probably adds some sugars to your water, they're naturally occuring at least, and you're drinking water, so that's an improvement over your multiple servings of Mountain Dew.
Cutting calories can be intimidating, especially if you employ a scorched earth policy when it comes to your food. Making healthy choices that still taste good will help you keep them in rotation for a much longer time than if you decided to do a crash diet.
There is so much information out right now on how corporations are adding such crap to the packaged food we eat, that it seems unsafe to consume anything out of a bottle, can or package. If I had all the time in the world, I would make EVERYTHING from scratch. But I don't. What I do have is a willingness to find the time to make fresh and healthy meals for my family. I chose this fitness-friendly recipe of the week, not only for the delicious chopped salad, but more importantly for the fresh, creamy balsamic dressing, made from scratch.
Kitchen Sink Chopped Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Total Time: 20-30 minutes
For the Creamy Balsamic Dressing:
(makes 1 2/3 cups of dressing)
4 cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Morton's Nature's Seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra light olive oil
For the Salad:
2-3 heads of Romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1/2 pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 - 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avacado, pitted peeled and diced
1 cucumber, peeled seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 can of artichoke hearts, coarse chopped
4-6 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
For the Creamy Balsamic Dressing:
Whisk together garlic, mayo, lemon juice, dijon mustard, sugar, Nature's Seasoning, and salt until well combined. Add the balsamic vinegar and whisk well. Slowly add in the olive oil (while whisking).
For the Salad:
Add all ingredients to a large bowl (more or less of each ingredient depending on personal preferences). Toss with desired amount of dressing and serve.
source: life as a mrs.
Your Seder's over... Now what? I personally can't survive on Matzoh PB&J sandwiches and Matzoh Brie alone for 8 days. Enjoy this low calorie, nutrient rich version of your favorite, suitable for fueling your DIY Fitness routine! This dish is excellent when served with your favorite lean protein.
Serves: 8 Edit
Yields: About 4 cups
Total Time: 30 min
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
- 1 pound(s) broccoli florets
- 1 pound(s) Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cup(s) water
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup(s) (about 21⁄2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- In 4-quart saucepan, place broccoli, potatoes, and water. On high heat, cover and heat until boiling. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, 17 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes and broccoli are very tender, stirring once halfway through cooking.
- Meanwhile, preheat broiler and set oven rack 6 inches from source of heat.
- Drain vegetables in colander set over large bowl, reserving 1/4 cup vegetable cooking liquid. Return vegetables to saucepan. With potato masher or slotted spoon, coarsely mash vegetables, adding some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Stir in nutmeg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- In shallow, broiler-safe 1- to 1 1/2-quart baking dish, spread vegetable mixture; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Place dish in oven and broil 2 to 3 minutes or until Parmesan is browned.
All of us have been, and continue to be, touched by cancer. We all know people who have struggled with it or continue to do so, and we all certainly know people who lost their lives to it. I'm under no illusion that exercise can cure cancer, but I truly believe that maintaining a healthy body through exercise and proper nutrition builds the best disease-fighting environment possible. And now, as guest author Melanie Bowen shows, research supports the truth of that.
Benefits of Exercising While Battling Cancer by Melanie Bowen
Cancer treatments vary depending on the type of cancer. Many cancers, such as mesothelioma or breast cancer, are treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or even surgery. While these treatments can be important, physical activity can make a big impact, especially relating to your energy levels during and after your treatments. An exercise program can be tailored to fit your fitness level and other physical needs. Even if you are in a wheelchair, you can use weights or do other activities to maintain strength and keep your energy up. Exercise offers compelling benefits that should not be ignored during anyone’s battle with cancer.
Exercise Reduces Stress and Boosts Mood
Getting a cancer diagnosis can naturally be very stressful. Unfortunately, stress itself is unhealthy for the body and can take a harmful toll. Getting regular exercise will help you eliminate these harmful effects and will boost your mood. During physical activity, cells are supplied with extra oxygen and the brain releases mood-boosting hormones – this is why runners often experience the “runner’s high.” Any disease, including cancer, is positively affected by a positive attitude. At the very least, you will feel better emotionally.
Exercise Boosts Energy Levels
Fatigue is very common for cancer patients both during treatments and after treatments have finished. This tiredness can make it hard to fully enjoy your day, even when cancer treatments have been successful. According to a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, exercise can reduce fatigue both during and after cancer treatment. If you are already fatigued and the thought of exercise seems overwhelming, start small. You do not have to go out and run a mile or work out for a half hour from the beginning. Start with just a few minutes of walking or strength training each day. Gradually increase the length and intensity of your activities when you are able.
Exercise May Offer Other Benefits
Although exercise alone will not cure the cancer, there is evidence it does have some impact. Research results offered by the National Cancer Institute suggest that patients engaging in regular exercise may slow the progression of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer, and increase survival rates of breast cancer patients. The overall benefits of exercise are very clear. In some cases if you have heart or lung problems, for example, you will need to discuss your exercise options with your doctor before starting any program, and you may need to do your exercises in a monitored environment. However, the benefits will still be there and very apparent.
Arena Fitness is a personal training, semi private training and group training facility with gyms in Northridge and Encino.
This recipe is inspired by the most amazing gluten-free pancakes I had today! It's all about enjoying the foods you love in healthier, more creative ways. Try this high protein/ low carb recipe with your favorite whole grain flour for the ultimate nutrient boost perfect for any fitness endeavor! Make a unique dish by adding your own favorite toppings!
Kathleen's Cottage Pancakes
Makes about 2 dozen small pancakes. I made mine a bit bigger and got 17 or 18.
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup flour (see comments above regarding gluten-free options)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Beat eggs until light. Mash cottage cheese (Kathleen uses a food processor, I used my mini chopper to really get it smooth). Add to eggs along with the remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a lightly-greased griddle (I like to use my cast iron skillet) and cook over medium heat until browned on both sides and cooked through. Top with maple syrup or fresh fruit, as desired.
For a healthy and aromatic option, try using coconut oil to cook your pancakes.
We thought this dish deserved a standing ovation, and so did you! It's made an appearance almost every week in my house and last Saturday at Arena Fitness' 10th Anniversary Party, for all of you to enjoy! Without further ado, may I present to you, our recipe that keeps coming back with a roaring applause, my Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Turkey Pumpkin Chili
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.
PER SERVING: 280 calories (110 from fat), 13g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 580mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (8g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 20g protein
Store-bought never compares to homemade. This is especially true of hummus. So, grab your food processor and create this healthy snack. Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans, as they are also known), one of the traditional ingredients of hummus, are high in both protein and fiber, making them an awesome fitness food, but you can personalize your hummus by adding different flavors, like the hummus we feature here. Hummus is, many say, best served with fresh vegetables, but you can also use hummus as a healthy alternative to mayo or other condiments on sandwiches and burgers.
Avocado Chickpea Hummus
- 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas (3 1/2 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
- 1 medium avocado
- 2 to 3 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
- 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
- juice from 2 limes (4 tablespoons)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight covered in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are soft. Drain and set aside to cool.
Transfer the cooled chickpeas to a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients. Process until you have a smooth and creamy mixture, adding more olive oil as needed to achieve your desired consistency.
Serve with lightly toasted Indian flatbreads and/or pita breads and plenty of chopped raw vegetables.
Makes 4 cups
This week's challenge for my shredders is to prepare ALL their meals at home. This is not an easy task. Especially when you crave your favorite dish from your favorite restaurant. You can listen to your cravings by recreating them in a fitness friendly way at home!
In keeping with our theme of my shredder challenge of the week, I bring to you one of my favorite restaurant recipes to make at home! These wraps are a healthy take on that irrestible appetizer from P.F. Chang's: the lettuce wrap.
Faux P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps
1lb ground chicken breast
1/2 medium onion, minced
salt & pepper, a dash of each
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch nob fresh ginger, peeled & minced
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or more if you like it hotter)
dash of fresh pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
Heat a large, non-stick skillet on high. Add chicken, onion, salt & pepper, and cook until chicken is nearly done, stirring often to break up the meat. Add in minced garlic and ginger, and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, honey, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce and pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until smooth. Add into the skillet and stir to combine. Add green onion and water chestnuts into the skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are heated through. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and serve with cold lettuce leaves
Simply pile the chicken mixture onto a lettuce leaf, roll, and enjoy!
source: iowa girl eats
I love Kale. You should love kale, too. It's a superfood and rightly so. It works as an anti-inflammatory (good!) and helps lower cholesterol (better!) In just one cup of cooked kale, you get the following nutrients and their percentages based on the standard DV%:
vitamin K - 1327.6%
vitamin A - 354.1%
vitamin C - 88.8%
manganese - 27%
fiber - 10.4%
copper - 10%
tryptophan - 9.3%
calcium - 9.3%
vitamin B - 69%
potassium - 8.4%
iron - 6.5%
magnesium - 5.8%
vitamin E - 5.5%
omega-3 fats - 5.4%
vitamin B2 - 5.2%
protein - 4.9%
vitamin B1 - 4.6%
folate - 4.2%
phosphorus - 3.6%
vitamin B3 - 3.2%
36 calories. Dark leafy greens are the way to go, you guys. I'm obviously a huge fan of kale, so I've prepared and enjoyed it raw, sautéed or even in a chip form. But roasted? Why not? The tofu adds protein, making this dish great for Meatless Mondays!Arena Fitness' very own Kim Mishra shares with us one of her favorite, healthy recipes. Thanks, Kim!
Chili, Lemon and Herb Roasted Tofu with Kale and Pine Nuts
serves 2 Ingredients
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
salt and pepper
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 package (227g) organic firm to extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and torn into 1.5 inch-ish pieces
small handful of pine nuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the lemon zest, sliced garlic, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind it up until a dry paste is achieved. Add the lemon juice and oil and grind until mixture is unified.
Pour about half of the oil and lemon juice mixture into a large bowl. Toss it with the cubes of tofu very gently. Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet in one tight section. Roast for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and gently toss the tofu cubes with a fork or spatula. Place back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.
Toss the kale with the remaining oil and lemon juice mixture in the large bowl. Remove the tofu from the oven and place the kale on most of the remaining space of the tray. Roast for 10 more minutes. Place pine nuts on the tray and roast for another 2-3 minutes, until tofu is quite browned, kale has wilted and crisped a bit and the pine nuts are golden.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
source: the first mess