Tag: summer

Make the days count!

Make the days count!

Summer is here and I want to make sure I get lots done rather than lounging too much.  I started yesterday by making my “Summer To Do List” to keep myself accountable.  I want to be sure I have some volunteering in my schedule as well as get some overdue projects completed!

I also don’t want to let myself sit in front of a screen for an extended period of time without moving, whether it be a tv screen or a computer screen.  I have noticed that many parents have made plans to keep their children from having too much screen time this summer.  Remember it is equally as important to follow the same rules, don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well.  Make sure you get up and move periodically – if you are watching your favorite show, game, or movie get up and move rather than sitting for two or three hours.  Your body and brain needs the stimulation and movement.  Plus, by making the days count that means you are also adding some fitness into your day! It makes you feel less stressed, less grouchy, and more energetic to get through the day.  So keep a list or schedule that utilizes your time wisely so you aren’t spending too much time on social media, sitting around the house, or not getting your goals accomplished.  If you aren’t sure what to omit from your schedule consider scanning newsfeeds less than the typical five, ten, fifteen, or more times a day.

Consider getting involved in your community, volunteer at some local events, and show your family the importance of giving back to others.  If you love fitness, find a Relay for Life, American Heart Association, or other charity walk or run to participate in.  If you love cooking, consider cooking or baking treats for your local police station.  There are endless options and your kids can even help or tag along so they see the value in appreciating others.

Whatever you do, make sure you make your summer days count and work for you!  If you do, you will feel much better at the end of each day.  So, if you are like me, start that “Summer To Do List” so you can make each day count.




Lunches: Soups, Salads, Sandwiches & More!

Lunches: Soups, Salads, Sandwiches & More!

It’s the summer months and soups, salads, and sandwiches seem to be go-to lunch choices for many people.  These can be relatively healthy items if you make sure you are diligent in how you make them or how you order them at your favorite restaurant (mine is McAlister’s:-) ).

During the week, I usually bring salads, lettuce wraps, or sandwiches to work.  One thing that I consistently have heard time and time again is that salads are not filling, they seem boring, and it tends to lead to snacking later because the person still feels hungry.  My best advice is to make salads frequently enough to where your body gets used to light, healthy lunches.  Further, load salads up with a variety of vegetables and fruits, nuts, craisins, deli meat, and other great add-ins.  I like to make a variety of different hearty salads throughout the week.  The key is to make different salads each day so you don’t get bored with them.  For example, I make chef salads, Olive Garden type salads, garden salads, Cobb salads, etc. that have different add-ins and different dressings. Just be careful putting too many add-ins in your salads such as cheese, croutons, dressings, or lots of bacon because these quickly add to the calories and can make a healthy one not so healthy!

For sandwiches, I typically use lettuce as my “bread” to make lettuce wraps.  These are easy, delicious, and save calories.  You can use different varieties of lunch meat and cheese to change things up such as turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, and provolone, mozzarella, colby jack, etc.  I typically enjoy the ultra thin cheese slices, but that’s up to you.  If I do make a sandwich using bread, I try to do a 1/2 sandwich and a 1/2 salad to keep it healthy.  Again, your choices are endless to what you like so you can change it up easily.  Just remember that condiments and sauces typically add a lot of extra calories to your lunch!  I try to stick to one condiment on my sandwiches such as mustard or light mayo (I also really like dijonnaise).

If you aren’t a “make and take” type lunch person because you can’t get yourself to make it the night before or can’t get yourself up early enough in the morning to make it, consider places that have great soup, salad, and sandwich combinations.  I suggest that you always get a salad with your meal and then choose a soup or a sandwich.  The greens are great for you and the sandwich or soup can be your less healthy choice.  Remember that cream-based soups tend to be higher in calories just like bread for sandwiches.  Also, be sure to ask for dressing on the side so you can control how much you put on.  I am a huge fan of McAlister’s Deli because they accommodate my food allergy.  Plus, they serve a great variety of salads and sandwiches that allow me to change things up, which I enjoy during the summer months.  One thing about McAlister’s is that it seems very healthy, but the calories add up quickly if you don’t pay attention to what you are ordering. They have a list of spud, soup, salad, and sandwich combinations on their website that are under 600 calories.  Check it out if you are curious on how many calories your typical go-to meal is!

Lastly, with your lunches and during summer in general, many people enjoy iced lemonade and iced tea, but remember these popular summer drinks add on the calories and are usually high in sugar.  You may think having a healthy meal will allow for the extra add on calories for your summer drinks, but be aware of what you are consuming.  Remember that your best option is to estimate your calories as best as you can so you aren’t mistakenly eating a “healthy” soup, salad, or sandwich combo that is actually as much as two meals combined.  Sometimes eating your sandwich at lunch and then taking your salad for later in the afternoon or vice versa is a great option.  Consider reading Find what works for YOU! and All about eating! for other great tips on eating such as full versus stuffed, eating small meals, and pacing yourself when you eat.

Happy healthy lunching (and eating)! 🙂


Summer Heat: Staying safe & having fun in the sun!

Summer Heat: Staying safe & having fun in the sun!

There have been several instances this summer where I have read of people running and doing intense cardio workouts outside in the extreme heat…extreme heat and temperatures of close to 100 degrees.  This is becoming a problem because nearly every summer we hear the warnings and dangers of staying hydrated, being safe and responsible, and staying out of the heat when the temperatures are at dangerously high levels.  I know every summer I read about at least one person who thinks that they are invisible and can stand up to the heat to run outside, but they die from heat exhaustion because they pushed too hard in the heat.  Remember that while you may be fit and trim and able to keep up with the heat, it doesn’t mean you should.  It is important to remember that the heat can be dangerous and while it may seem like a good idea to stay active, it is also a good idea to stay safe.  That means taking precautions by not exercising during extreme heat warnings and dangers, staying hydrated, and waiting until the temperature drops such as in the late evening after the sun has gone down or early morning before the sun is up to do any outside workouts.  While there are opportunities when it may be somewhat safer to run, also remember you should look at the hour by hour forecast and factor in the humidity and heat index to determine whether it truly is safe.

Next, know when to stop.  Don’t push yourself until you are at the point of suffering from a heat stroke or heat exhaustion.  Stop before breathing gets difficult from the heat and know that when you feel physically and or mentally tired it is time to call it a day.  Modify and adjust runs, exercises, and workouts if they are too challenging to do outside in the summer heat so you don’t do harm to your body.

Remember, summer is a great time to vary your workouts and do fun activities (that can be less strenuous) with the family that can count as workouts.  Aquatic workouts and exercises are great for reducing muscle and joint inflammation or pain that may arise from excessive cardio or running (which can be worsened if rest days are not taken).  Kayaking and canoeing are other great summer water activities that can allow you to cool off in the water while getting some exercise at the same time!  Summer kickball, baseball, and sand volleyball leagues are also popular activities that can be fun and often are in the evening hours once the sun has gone down.

Relax, have fun, and modify your workouts based on the heat and local activities in your community.


A recipe for health: Summer Spaghetti

A recipe for health: Summer Spaghetti

I thought it would be different to share a healthy recipe today.  I am a huge pasta fan so I thought my simple Summer Spaghetti recipe would be a great one to share.  You can vary it however you want and feel good about eating it because it is much lighter than a typical “red sauce spaghetti.”

Summer Spaghetti

-whole wheat pasta of your choice (I have used several different types, but I think classic spaghetti noodles work best)

– 1 TBS pasta water


-Parmesan Garlic shredded cheese (yellow bottle next to plain Parmesan cheese)

-Asiago and Parmesan cheese (I use about 1/4 cup of each)

-half lemon squeezed (or less depending how much acidity you like)

-1-2 TBS pesto

-1 cup chopped broccoli (you can substitute yellow or green zucchini or any veggie you prefer)

-Pepper, red pepper flakes (optional)

Cook the pasta to your desired tenderness. Cook broccoli in microwave or on stove. Combine pasta, broccoli, lemon, EVOO, pasta water, and pepper in saucepan or skillet and stir together over low heat.  I mix in the cheese last and leave it on a few more seconds to allow to combine with all ingredients. Now, enjoy!

That’s an easy and light summer recipe that can be thrown together very quickly!  Remember, exercise is great, but leading a healthy lifestyle is a balance of nutrition and exercise.  You should try to exercise and eat for success (and in moderation, too)!


BBQs, Restaurants, and Parties, Oh My!

BBQs, Restaurants, and Parties, Oh My!

The weather is starting to change for many of us and as we transition into warmer days and higher temperatures, it often means getting together with friends and family for BBQs, potlucks, picnics, graduation parties, and outings/events that have finger foods and appetizers.  While all this is great and provides lasting memories, remember that potlucks and parties also mean added calories.  Spring and summer are often the time for family get togethers and reunions, graduation parties, and BBQs, but it also means buffet style eating which equates to lots of food.  Frequently, these types of gatherings mean grazing on appetizers and snacks followed by a large buffet style meal and ice cream, popsicles, trifle and punch bowl cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, and lots of delightful summer favorites for dessert.

Some great ways to cut back and lighten BBQs, potlucks, picnics, and graduation parties is to have fruits and veggies only as your appetizers to reduce the extra calories that chips, cheese dips, pretzels, etc have.  If you want dips, consider veggie dip, hummus, and fruit dip.  These can be enjoyed with fruits and veggies and prevents unnecessary salty foods for dippers.  If you are having a potluck style get together, plan out the meal so that you have a balance of sides that are healthy.  You might consider limiting the number of sides to 3 and ask guests to refrain from bringing chips, pretzels, etc and help with drinks, paper plates, napkins, etc to fulfill the list of what is needed.  Another great way to help with portion control is to not leave the actual meal and sides out all day.  While grazing makes it feel like a fun party atmosphere, consider leaving food out for a specific amount of time.  For example, 11:30-1 for a midday gathering and 6-7:30 for an evening get together.  It is nice to allow guests to graze, but leaving food out all day can be unnecessary.   I realize you want to make parties enjoyable for your guests, but I PROMISE that guests will thank you later for not ruining their diet, making them feel miserable from overeating, and preventing a high calorie meal that they feel guilty about the next day!  Consider keeping your more healthy options out all day, like fruits and veggies, if you feel the need to have something for your guests at all times.  Go ahead and put away the main meal such as brats, hot dogs, burgers, pasta salad, potato salad, corn on the cob, french fries, tator tots, etc to prevent grazing all afternoon and evening.

The next obstacle to tackle during spring is how often you eat out!  You may want to put a limit on the number of times you eat out each day and each week.  During the winter, we often tend to curl up at home and make comfort meals to enjoy, but once the weather changes, there is often a spike in how frequently people eat out.  The weather is nicer so you enjoy being out more.  A great way to combat eating out too much is to set goals for yourself.  For example, don’t allow yourself to eat out more than once per day and more than X times per week.  Personally, I typically try to allow myself to eat out one lunch and one dinner during the week (Monday – Friday).  During the weekend, I try to eat no more than two complete meals out.  Try to look up calories and nutrition on restaurant websites when possible and consider hidden calories such as salad dressings.  Remember that foods in restaurants often have extra additives, may be overly processed foods, and typically have higher caloric counts than home cooked meals.

Don’t forget about the alcohol at parties.  Often outdoor BBQs and parties have alcoholic drinks or even virgin drinks that are high in sugar and calories.  These calories count, too!  You don’t want to have 3 sugary, high caloric drinks, appetizers, a large buffet meal, and dessert at a party and end up eating two meals at one time!  That can destroy your progress!  I understand the hard choices that summer BBQs, parties, potlucks, and picnics present, but remember you can enjoy it all in MODERATION (and by using some or all of these tips!) 😉


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