Tag: veggies

What will YOU do in 2016?

What will YOU do in 2016?

It is normal to set new goals and milestones at the beginning of the new year. ¬†You may want to lose weight, eat more fruits and veggies, go to church, save more money, write more on your blog (ME!) ūüėČ and so on. ¬†It can include anything you want to accomplish and do throughout the year. For me, one of my biggest goals is to publish a book I have been working on for almost two years. When it comes to health and well-being, there are many areas that you can focus on – social, emotional, environmental, spiritual, physical, and mental health.

Will you focus on your social health?  This comprises your friends, family, and interactions with others.  Will you sign up to be involved in new groups or events such as community development? Will you volunteer with local charity organizations?  Will you be planning a wedding or other special event?  Will you give selflessly to others through random acts of kindness?  All of these things make you active in ensuring you have a happy, healthy, and successful social component within your life.

Will you focus on your emotional health? ¬†Do you handle stress and excitement appropriately? ¬†Do you balance the spectrum of all emotions in a healthy way? ¬†You may choose to work on emotional health by taking deep breaths when stressed, not “closeting” your feelings, listening to your heart and mind, and making decisions for yourself and how you feel rather than to please others.

Will you focus on your environmental health?  This means that you foster a positive work and personal environment.  Further, this includes preserving the water, air, and the land around you. Will you begin to recycle more this year?  That includes less waste such as paper products including paper plates, napkins, and printing unnecessary documents.  Will you reuse paper to prevent further waste in landfills?  Will you reduce water bottle usage by using reusable plastic bottles to decrease landfill wastes?  When you discuss land and air safety, this means you reduce harmful chemicals such as burning toxic wastes and disposing of chemicals in landfills.

Will you focus on your spiritual health? ¬†This requires that you “talk the talk and also walk the walk.” ¬†In other words, you have morals, values, and ethics that you follow to lead an honest life. Additionally, it means you encourage peace and harmonious relationships between yourself and others. ¬†You may mediate, read about your belief system, pray, or attend a religious organization.

Will you focus on your physical health?  Will you exercise more this year?  Will you join a gym or participate in group exercise classes?  Are you training for a 5k, half marathon, or full marathon? This is probably one of my strengths when it comes to the six components of health.  I regularly exercise, take walks, and go outside to be active.  It helps me lower my stress level and makes me feel great.  This is particularly important to reduce health diseases such as heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other health concerns that can be created from being overweight.

Will you focus on your mental (aka intellectual) health?  Will you improve your mood or attitude in 2016?  Will you work to cope better with your stress, anxiety, depression, or self-confidence and self-image?  Part of mental health is finding solutions to cope with your daily struggles.  It may mean reaching out for help, recognizing that those around you care, or changing the demands of your life to reduce the mental stress you are facing.

It is very important to find a balance of the six components of health and well-being. ¬†Like me, you may find that you are strong in two to three of the six components. ¬† If that is the case, that’s fantastic! ¬†It means you can use 2016 as a way to focus on the ones that you are not as strong in. As for my book, it focuses on my mental/intellectual health, social health, and emotional health. Consider finding projects, activities, and events that will allow you to work on several components. For example, participating in group fitness classes will focus on your physical, social, and possibly spiritual and emotional well-being. ¬†Spiritual well-being through mediation or yoga, and emotional well-being to reduce stress. ¬†You can work to improve components that you struggle with to find a better balance to lead a healthier and happier 2016!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

Holidays…family, friends, and FOOD!

Holidays…family, friends, and FOOD!

This is the weight-gaining, cookie-eating, mouth-stuffing time of the year! ¬†It’s the time of the year when people eat cookies, cupcakes, chips, dips, and other sugary and salty foods. ¬†It’s the time of the year when diets seem to be filled with more junk food than fruits and veggies. ¬†It’s the time of the year when there are parties, potlucks, and events. ¬† And, it’s the time of the year when health educators and counselors know what to expect come January when New Year’s resolutions come around!

I am getting ready to cook my “gluten free” Thanksgiving this weekend so that I can actually enjoy it! ¬†Otherwise the day of Thanksgiving I get stuck with meat and potatoes without all the other lovely sides that fill the Thanksgiving table (but are often filled with gluten)!

As a way to cut back on fat and to reduce the calories in my gluten free dishes I will be making roasted brussels sprouts and corn with a couple of slices of bacon rather than a corn casserole or corn pudding which are filled with heavy cream, cream soups, and other fattening additives.  This is a great way to reduce fat and calories while still having great flavor.  The bacon will provide flavor along with chili powder, but since the two bacon slices will be divided among 6 people the amount consumed is very little.

My homemade mashed potatoes will feature part cauliflower. ¬†That may sound awful to some, but I promise you won’t taste the cauliflower and it will save a ton of calories! ¬†I will also use potatoes, but I will combine them with cauliflower to reduce the calories and add some veggies. ¬†I will use reduced sodium, reduced fat cream cheese or greek yogurt to add creaminess to the potatoes.

I will not have bread since I will be making cornbread stuffing. ¬†I made cornbread with reduced fat milk and will make the stuffing using reduced sodium chicken broth. ¬† To save calories, it is great to consider how many “bready” sides or carbohydrate sides you will serve with your Thanksgiving dinner. ¬†Consider having stuffing or bread, pie or cake, with more sides filled with veggies or fruits (i.e. brussel sprouts, corn, green beans, cranberries, mixed fruit, sweet potatoes – healthier than regular potatoes).

If your family does a green bean casserole each year consider roasted green beans, grilled green beans (these are delicious!), or pan seared green beans to cut back on the creamy soups, butter, and fried onions that are all high in calories.

Remember to fill your plates with more veggies than “bready” items and when you go back for seconds fill up on the veggie sides rather than more stuffing, bread, pie, and other high calorie dishes. ¬†Oh, and take a quick walk before or after dinner so your food doesn’t sit in your stomach all day or all night. ¬†You will thank yourself later when your food has a chance to digest rather than sit and make you feel miserable all night! ūüôā

Happy eating, enjoy spending time with your friends and family, and have fun making new memories that you will remember forever!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

Bacon?! Yes, please!

Bacon?! Yes, please!

Who doesn’t love a great sweet or maybe bacon? ¬†Who was completely bummed by the new research that the World Health Organization aka WHO released this week about bacon, sausage, and hot dogs? ¬†I have to admit that this was information I already knew, but information I never really want to hear (or at least not see plastered across every media outlet known to planet Earth). ¬†I think everywhere I looked I saw articles, broadcasts, and posts reminding me of the harm of these foods. ¬†Depressing, right?! ¬†Or maybe not, maybe just news we needed to hear, be reminded of, and information to make us more well informed people about what we are shoving into our mouths each day (sometimes even me, on occasion)! ūüėČ

On my list of nutrition improvements I continually have 1) Reduce sodium intake 2) Decrease sugary foods and 3) Increase naturally flavorful, non-processed foods (i.e. fruits and veggies, proteins in their most raw form).  Salts and sugars are an ongoing health concern that can always be improved no matter where you are at on your fitness and health journey.  Since the holidays are coming and Halloween is just around the corner it makes following these nutrition goals a bit difficult (even for me), but I have some tips that may just be the key to your nutrition success!

Remember that salts and sugars are often heavy additives in processed foods and of course in candy. ¬†It is important to think about how much salt and sugar is in your diet (cereal, candy bars, sandwiches, pizza, salads, etc) – most people eat three times or more servings of the recommended amount of daily sodium. ¬†That’s scary, especially considering heart disease and cardiovascular concerns are the number one killer.

To cut down on salt and sugars, consider eating more naturally sweet or salty foods that don’t have as much added to them for flavor. ¬†Fruits like watermelon, strawberries, apples, oranges, and pineapple which are naturally sweet are great choices. ¬†Decrease processed meats, chips, cheese, and other salty foods and consider eating foods that are in their more natural form such as chicken, fish, and other meats that you can control how much salt is added. ¬†For desserts, consider a dessert that has fruit in it or a dessert that has a fruit topping such as pudding or mousse with fruit. Further, when it comes to cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, and other sweets make them from scratch so you can control the additives, preservatives, and other ingredients such as sugar and sodium that are placed in the dessert. ¬†Sometimes you can make a less sweet cake, cheesecake, or tart and add fresh fruit that makes it less sugary, but still tastes delicious.

It may seem like a heartbreaker that bacon isn’t good for you and may cause cancer or that cookies like snickerdoodles are high in sugar, but it isn’t something we didn’t already know. ¬†After all, we don’t think fried cheese, pickles, and chicken are good for us, do we?! ūüėČ ¬†Like I say, everything in moderation. ¬†Life is too short not to enjoy the things we love (on occasion)! ūüėČ

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

A {healthy} routine…what foods do YOU feed your family?

A {healthy} routine…what foods do YOU feed your family?

Whether your family consists of kids, you’re a newly married couple, or you are a baby boomer near or in retirement, a great way to keep up with your health is by using those around you to keep you in check.¬† It doesn’t mean that they hold you accountable for what you put in your mouth, but it might mean that the reason you serve healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables with meals is to be a mentor to inspire and provide an example to the people in your life (kids, sisters/brothers, cousins, spouse, etc).¬† It means YOU care enough to help show those around you that through healthy eating and regular exercise you decrease your chances for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Consider making health a daily family event or routine.¬† For example, make dinner an occasion where you make a protein, carb, and vegetable side.¬† You can help your kids learn about their food choices by placing foods in categories that are easy to understand such as “Go”, “Slow”, and “Whoa” which is used in school heath curriculum.¬† For example, fruits and vegetables in their raw form are usually “Go” foods (eat most often, almost always) while canned fruits in light syrup or frozen vegetables would fall under “Slow” foods (eat less often, sometimes) because a lot of the nutritional value in these foods lessens once they are altered.¬† Examples of “Whoa” foods (eat least often, once in awhile) might include donuts, cake, cookies, chips, and other foods that are high in sugar and sodium.¬† Help teach those around you how to categorize their foods.¬† Make this a fun activity for kids (or adults) by cutting out foods they love and asking them to place each picture under the correct category.¬† This helps them learn while providing a great chart to hang on the refrigerator as a reminder.¬† We all need a reminder every now and then and what better place than on the front of the refrigerator so you are constantly reminded every time you open it?! ūüėČ Once you understand the idea of categorizing individual foods such as breads, cheese, meats, pasta, etc. into “Go”, “Slow”, and “Whoa” you can take it a step further by combining food groups (as we often see when we make meals).¬† For example, a bagel pizza or English muffin pizza made with low fat cheese or vegetable lasagna/pasta made with a red sauce would be considered “Go” meals while macaroni and cheese or pizza would fall into the “Slow” meals group and deep dish sausage pizza or fried chicken with gravy would fall into the “Slow” meals group.

Remember that your attitude toward food, nutrition, exercise, and fitness impacts your children, your spouse, and those around you so make sure you are the positive influence that helps them stay healthy!  For example, take a 30 minute walk in the evenings with your spouse or take a family bike ride.  Think of fun activities that allow you to make memories and are fun so that your children, spouse, and family have a positive experience as it relates to exercise.  Making a positive association with exercise and healthy foods is very important, if not vital.  This helps you, your children, your spouse, and family recognize the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise while also making them feel like it is easy, fun, and stress-free.  After all, remember that health starts with family and friends because children, friends, and family often echo the behavior of people they are surrounded by.  Be the difference in your family and group of friends to show those around you how to make health a priority through regular exercise and healthy eating.

~jj

Replace + Reduce > Rationalizing

Replace + Reduce > Rationalizing

All too often I hear people say, “I worked out earlier, so it means I can eat this cake and cookies now” or “I ate fruit at breakfast and a side of vegetables at lunch so I can cheat at dinner” or the best one is “I ate clean all week, so it means I can eat whatever I want this weekend” but rationalizing your choices when it comes to your health is not a good compromise or balance. ¬†Try replacing rather than rationalizing to reduce your calories and your chances for heart disease (which I will add is the number one killer of Americans yet can be reduced by the choices we make).

I am not suggesting that you don’t allow yourself to eat sweets or desserts, but getting into the habit of rationalizing your choices is a sure way to lose track of your fitness goals and see a decrease in your progress. ¬†Instead, eat in moderation and remember that replacing with fruits and veggies rather than rationalizing with junk food will boost your energy level and make you feel much better. ¬†Consider replacing at least one food item at each meal to reduce the fat content, sodium, and carb load that is almost always higher than it should be. ¬†Replace unhealthy sides such as mashed potatoes for a baked potato or make mashed potatoes that are 1/2 cauliflower and 1/2 potato and use Greek yogurt, low fat milk, and unsalted butter to get the creamy consistency you want. ¬†Replace onion rings or french fries for healthy veggies such as grilled onions or roasted potatoes. ¬†Further, at breakfast, replace potatoes and bacon in an omelette for¬†veggies such as spinach (leafy greens are great for you!) and mushrooms. ¬†At lunch, replace BBQ potato chips for plain tortilla chips or unsalted almonds and a BLT or chicken quesadilla for a turkey, spinach, and cheese wrap. ¬†Small healthy choices at each meal may not seem that important, but small steps can help make a big difference in the overall progress you see. ¬†Three small healthy choices (one at each meal) is a great way to work on making progress over time.

Remember that when you eat like crap, you often feel like crap so don’t use your weekend as an excuse to give up on your goals. ¬†Instead eat for success because no diet does what healthy eating will do for your life. ¬†It will change your mood, stress, and energy level! ¬†Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat less, just eat right! ūüôā

~jj

Simplicity might just be key!

Simplicity might just be key!

One constant for most people is that their schedule is always filled, life is always busy, and there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything on the “to do” list. ¬†People often want short, simple, and easy workouts and quick, healthy meals that keep us on track to maintain or reach our fitness goals. ¬†Why? ¬†Because spending time with family and friends is what most, if not all, of us want. ¬†We basically want the cake and to eat it too! ¬†Shocking, right? ¬†Well, obviously, not really. ¬†That is the majority, not the minority, so if you feel this way, you can rest assured that you are not alone. ¬†So, what can you do to still make the most of your day, save time, and not feel like your entire day is dedicated to health and wellness? ¬†Let’s face it, we are often so busy we don’t necessarily think about all the choices (or lack of) that we are making that impact our health.

My solution (and challenge to you) is to find several small and simple (key word is SIMPLE!) health oriented things that you can do that will help change the big picture over time, then incorporate those into your schedule.  I will give you an example of some fitness and health choices that will assist you in creating a more simple, less overwhelming lifestyle.

First off, start with steps and walking. ¬†Grab a fitness tracker, a very basic one that counts steps is all you need. ¬†If you prefer a more fancier fitness watch/tracker, by all means, get what suits you best. ¬†It used to be that 10k a day was the fad and maybe it still is, but don’t stick with fad diets and exercises. ¬†Strive for what works, so get your count to 14k a day! ¬†Yes, that seems like a lot of steps, but think of walking to the bathroom, in the kitchen, at work, etc. ¬†And just in case you aren’t convinced that getting steps are great for you, walking helps with digestion, is great for your bones, and can improve your mood! ¬†You can do it and it really isn’t difficult. ¬†You may be surprised by how many you get!

Next, the fabulous 5: basic weights, lunges, crunches, squats, and push-ups.  This will help build strength and tone your body.  Do sets that work best for you.  I suggest 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps depending on your lifestyle and fitness level.  You can do these in the morning when you wake up, in the evening to de-stress, while you are outside, while you are watching television, etc and it takes a total of 15 to 20 minutes, if that.

The next one may be somewhat difficult for many, but it is important and will make the biggest difference on your waistline and energy level. ¬†Avoid baked goods. ¬†These are salty, sugary foods that provide little to no energy. ¬†While you avoid cookies, brownies, and cakes, turn to water. ¬†Drink at least a gallon of water a day to stay full, focused, and alert, aiding in keeping your energy level high. ¬†Also, turn to fruit and veggie smoothies that you make at home. ¬†Buy frozen fruits if you are rushed for time or buy fresh fruit and have it pre-cut and in containers so it is ready to be thrown in the blender in the morning or evening. ¬†(This doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream, this specifically eliminates baked goods, BUT like I continually say, everything in moderation, so don’t go overboard with the ice cream!) ūüėČ

That’s it…simple as that! ¬†5 small and simple tips to incorporate into your busy schedule so that healthy choices are being made without even thinking about them! 1) 14k a day 2) Fabulous 5 exercises 3) No baked goods 4) Smoothies 5) 1 gallon of water per day. ¬†That’s it, an easy exercise and nutrition guide to fit into each day without a workout or a special diet.

~jj

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!) ūüėČ

~jj

Small pieces to the health puzzle…

Small pieces to the health puzzle…

Need a few quick tips to keep you going through your workouts?  Here are a few things I continuously keep on my radar to ensure I can get through my workouts without feeling tired or bored.

1. Get yours zzz’s.¬† Sleeping is vital to ensure you feel refreshed.¬† It helps get you through the whole day, and that includes your workout!¬† Try to get 7-8 full hours of sleep each night.

2. Stretch.¬† Just do it.¬† Even if you are short on time, stretch before and after your workout.¬† If you don’t think it will help, read last week’s post and it’ll help convince you! ūüôā

3. Eat more fiber.  Your body will thank you now and later.  I promise!

4. Drink water, and plenty of it.¬† What is plenty?¬† At least 64 ounces each day! That’s eight 8 oz. glasses.¬† It’s easy.¬† Spread it out throughout the day…before meals, with meals, and between meals.¬† Trust me, it’s worth it.¬† Drinking plenty of water also helps give you a full feeling in your stomach, typically causing you to eat less.

5. Make your meals rather than eating out or on the run.¬† You eat less healthy food when you eat on the fly.¬† You tell me you don’t have time to make food?¬† Pre-plan and pre-make food ahead of time.¬† Fruits and veggies can easily be sliced and put in a container with water and lemon juice to keep them fresh, sandwiches can be pre-made, whole wheat crackers are an easy throw in.¬† No excuses!!

6. Find a way to control your stress.¬† I cannot emphasize this one enough.¬† Stress is not good for your mind or body.¬† What’s my way to destress?¬† Working out and exercising, of course! ūüôā

7. Drink…water, not lots of sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.¬† Bummer, right?¬† Not necessarily.¬† I am not saying give them up, just don’t over do it.¬† Everything in moderation!

8. Try to limit how often you let your sweet tooth win AND find sweets that are “healthy” sweets.¬† I sound crazy, right?!¬† Not exactly.¬† For example, eat a slice of whole wheat bread with Nutella or cinnamon sugar, chocolate mousse pudding, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, etc. rather than a huge bowl of cookie dough ice cream or chocolate cake.

9. Exercise regularly.¬† Not when you want to lose weight or because swimsuit season is coming.¬† Those are great motivators, but exercising and maintaining your health is a continuous process.¬† You can’t “diet” for a month, decide to go off the diet, and then back to your previous eating habits and expect to keep your results.¬† You have to watch what you eat all the time.¬† You don’t have to restrict your diet of all sugars or all carbs, but eat in moderation instead.¬† You also can’t decide that you want to lose 20 pounds and then decide it’s time to start walking everyday or going to the gym.¬† Exercise is a life long commitment.¬† Why?¬† Because exercise and eating properly keep your body happy and healthy.¬† I promise.

These are little things I try to remember.¬† Not things I just occasionally think about, but truly have engraved into my brain.¬† Things that are in my phone and on my bulletin board, so they can’t escape my mind.¬† When I am struggling during a workout, I think about what it’s doing for me.¬† When I am not drinking plenty of water, I remember, it is what helps get me through my workouts and keeps me focused.¬† When I want something sweet, I may go ahead and let myself eat something sweet, other times I don’t eat anything sweet at all.¬† Try limiting yourself to having sweets a certain number of times each week.¬† You don’t want your body and mind to become accustomed to getting something sweet after every meal or whenever you feel like it.

~jj

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