Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Twist on Pancakes

So due to the snow my kids stayed home this morning, and I was kind of stumped on what to make for breakfast to make everyone happy. I had an ample supply of pancake mix, so pancakes won!

Looking for a healthier alternative to loads of butter and syrup, I went through the cupboards and found a wide variety of dried fruit and berries. In the fridge I had a bottle of maraschino cherries.

We had a large selection to pick from including: Raisins, dried apricots, Craisins and blueberry Craisins, (blueberry Craisins are cranberries that are soaked in blueberry juice and then dried, they are sweeter then regular Craisins) and of course the maraschino cherries!

I made myself 3 small pancakes and chose apricots, blueberry Craisins, and the cherries for my picks. My daughter had raisins and my son had regular Craisins, so they each got one medium sized pancakes.

Now the kids still opted for butter and syrup, so I gave them just a little butter and barely drizzled syrup over their pancakes. If I left the portioning of syrup up to my kids their plates would be covered in the stuff. I chose the healthier route and added a sprinkling of powdered sugar over my fruity little pancakes.

The pancakes turned out amazing! Best part? I was only able to eat half of each of the little pancakes before I was stuffed. So I had a healthy breakfast, I'm full, and it tasted like dessert. Yum!

How do you liven up your pancakes? I'm thinking we should have waffles soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Influence

It can be very hard to stay motivated when trying to lose weight. Finding ways to stay positive and encouraged can be hard. One of the things that motivates me to stay on track is my family.

As you may know from my past postings I've never been a very active person, nor have I paid much attention to my health. I now know I was neglecting more then my own health.

I have started trying to better the whole family's health by improving what we eat and trying to get everyone to engage in more physical activity, and it's working!

My kids have started asking me "Is this a healthy snack Mom?" and they ask me questions about the nutrition facts when I read them out loud to them. They know that soda is a special treat for special occasions.

I've even caught my fiance several times looking at the nutritional facts and making faces as he realizes what I've been realizing the last many months since I made the switch.

Now my kids still HATE wheat bread, but all in all the whole family is thinking about their eating and everyone is trying to keep active. My new habits are even rubbing off on my close friends, who not only listen to my advice and use it but bring me ideas and suggestions they pick up elsewhere.

It feels really good when you can be a positive influence on other in your life. It helps keep me motivated to know that I'm not just improving my health and lifestyle, but I am teaching my kids what's important in the process.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Before You Work Out

There's some simple steps you should take before beginning any kind of exercise regimen or workout. Taking precautions can keep you from injuring yourself or keep you from falling off your program.

1. Consult your physician before beginning any kind of diet, exercise or work out program or major lifestyle changes. This is critical to avoiding injuries to yourself.

2. Drink plenty of water and make sure you eat something with in an hour or two of exercising, but not right before hand. Try and give yourself 30 minutes after eating before working out.

3. Stretch! This is very important, I know it takes extra time and may seem unnecessary, but this will keep you from hurting yourself. Hurting yourself will prevent you from maintaining a regular workout. Remember to only stretch until you're at your limit and hold it for 10-20 seconds at a time.

4. If you do start to hurt listen to your body. Dull pain is generally ok and you can just lighten up a little if you need. Your muscle should hurt a little :) Sharp pain however, can be a sign of a serious injury and you should stop what you are doing and give your body time to rest and recuperate before you begin again.

5. Start slow. Beginners should limit workout times to 10 or 15 minutes and build up slowly adding 5 minutes to their workout routine every week. Pushing yourself too hard will most likely cause you to injure yourself or get frustrated and give up.

6. Don't give up, it gets easier. I can tell you honestly that I hated any kind of physical exercise for almost my entire life, but each day gets a little easier and I'm starting to like it.

7. Tell your friends and family, they will congratulate you and support you. I know it sounds dumb, like you are bragging or something, but if they love you, they will have nothing but encouragement for you.

I hope these tips help. They are working for me so I am happy to share. I've been working out for about 2 months now and I am down 10 pounds, 2 pant sizes and have lost 12 inches from my body!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

How many calories do you drink a day?

I read that the average American consumes 6 cans of soda a day. Let's put that in perspective: 1 can equals 140 calories, so 6 cans is 840 calories a day. You have to burn approximately 3500 calories to lose a pound, or about 4 days of drinking soda to gain a pound.

It's very easy to consume a large amount of calories a day drinking sodas or other drinks that are high in calories and sugar. When I was in my late teens, early twenties, I lost 20 pounds in one year simply from giving up soda. I started drinking it again, and put all the weight back on.

If you are trying to lose some weight cutting out liquid calories is a good place to start, avoid drinks like soda, coffees, sweetened teas, most juices and alcohol. Alcohol and beer are very high in sugars and can pack on the pounds just as quickly as soda. Try finding sugar free or reduced sugar/calorie drinks to replace those sugary drinks.

Here's some low or no calorie drinks suggestions:

1. Water! This is very important. Even if you drink plenty of drinks a day it's still important to drink some water, your body is 80% water and you need to stay hydrated.

2. Try Crystal Light, or another instant drink mix, they have a very large variety of drink choices, and most are 5 calories or less per drink. They also have non-caffeinated choices. My favorite is the Raspberry Green Tea.

3. Sobe LifeWaters are really good. But be careful these come in a regular and a zero calorie version. I opt for the 0 calorie versions and they are really good, but better when they are really cold. I really like the Yumberry Pomegranate.

4. Flavored seltzer waters can help satisfy that craving for bubbles. One of the reasons I love soda so much is the carbonation, but I have found that if I add a seltzer water to a flavored drink packet like the Crystal Light I can make my own variety of sugar free sodas. I like the Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light and one cold can of seltzer water YUM!

5. Diet Soda is always an option. For the longest time I wouldn't touch anything diet, I hated the taste of the artificial sweeteners. I still don't enjoy the sweeteners they use in sodas, but I have found I don't like soda anymore either. It just taste too sweet.

6. Try tea with a little bit of honey or use an artificial sweetener. We use Equal in our house, as it's the only one my Honey likes at all. Sun Tea is another favorite around my house and the kids love to help.

7. Juices can be a great alternative to soda as long as you read the label. Most of those kids juices toting 100% fruit juice use juices that are high in sugar and low in nutritional value like pear juice. I am really hooked right now on the Odwalla and Naked Drinks. These both have some really great stuff in them and while they are a little high in calories, they are very good for you. The Naked drinks also have a reduced calorie version that's very good. My favorite Odwalla drink so far is the Superfood, it looks gross but it tastes amazing.

8. Get the coffee with out the crap! Have a cup of drip with a little low fat milk and Equal or your choice of sweetener. A cup of drip coffee with a little low fat milk will cost you anywhere from 10-20 calories, where as the Starbucks Frappucino will set you back 190 calories for a tall (plus think of the money you save!).

Remember the key is moderation. Having a soda, coffee or even a beer every once in a while won't kill any one, but drinking 6 of any of these a day isn't going to help you lose any weight.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everlast Fit 3" Aerobic Step for the Nintendo Wii Fit

Last night, my significant other and I went out to Best Buy and bought the Everlast Fit 3" Aerobic Step platform for the Wii Fit Balance board. This platform adds the additional inches to bring the Wii Fit Balance board to the step aerobics standard.

Yesterday I had bumped my step aerobics workout time from 30 to 40 minutes. Today with the extra height I only did 30 minutes, but I will tell you I surely felt the burn. I also completed an additional 30 minutes of combined yoga and strength training exercises on my Wii Fit.

The Everlast Fit Step is great. It only set me back $20 (on sale at Best Buy, normally $25), but I know this was a great investment. The platform was also very easy to put together. It comes in three pieces, with four screws and only takes a screwdriver and about 2 minutes to assemble.

The platform once assembled sits under the Wii Fit Balance board and is remarkably stable. I use my Wii Fit in my living room on the carpet, I have not attempted to use it on a hard surface, but it has non slip rubber feet so I don't think it will go anywhere.
If you have a Wii Fit and would like to get more out of your step aerobics workout I highly recommend this product for maximum workout benefits.

(Note: I purchased this product of my choice, I was not asked to do a product review, nor was I given any incentive for completing this review.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Free and Cheap Gym Alternatives

As we all know gym memberships and personal trainers are expensive. Don't let the cost of a gym membership be your excuse. There are plenty of ways to get excersice for little or no cost.

1. Jogging or running is free. This is something you can do outside anywhere you like or even jog around in your house. If you feel like it you can purchase a new or used treadmill.

2. Step Aerobics doesn't have to be in a class, you can do it at home on your own steps, or purchase a step board, they are not very expensive.

3. Youtube has a plethra of workout videos, or you can purchase any number of workout videos online or in stores.

4. Consider joining a local sports team, or find a friend to work out with. Many people will advertise on Craig's List looking for someone to workout with. (PLEASE be careful when dealing with strangers on Craigslist or any other website, take a friend with you and meet in a public place.)

5. Dancing in your house to music can be great exercise. Try and find upbeat music and really move for at least 20 minutes. If you are not sweating and out of breath you're not getting all the benefit.

6. Spinning or bicycling is another great fairly inexpensive way to get a great workkout. Plus buying a bike or a stationary bike is a one time expense, as opposed to a monthly gym membership.

7. Consider signing up for classes at an annex or community college, these are usually failry inexpensive and you get the benefit of having an instructor to help you.

8. Yoga is considered to be an aerobic exercise as well, and if you don't want to join a yoga class you can watch some videos on youtube, or buy a video.

9. The Wii Fit for those of you who have a Wii or would like to get one this is a great program not only because of exercises but because there is an instructor programmed in to guide you along the way.

Now you can't let that "I can't afford a gym" mentailty get to you anymore. You can workout anywhere, you just have to want it bad enough. Stick with it and you'll be much happier with yourself.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Size vs. Weight

Which is more important? Honestly I think the answer should be getting healthy above all else. Yes we all have that ideal number in our head of how much we'd like to weigh, or what size we'd like to be. I, however, am trying to only focus on different numbers. Those numbers are minutes of exercise in a day and how many calories I eat.

I have been working out for 30 minutes a day doing step aerobics. Tonight I am going to try and go to best buy and get the aerobics platform for the Wii Balance board to bring it to the standard height for step aerobics. I also plan on increasing my work out time by ten minutes for the each week till I reach a full hour a day.

Also, I try and keep a running total of calories in a day, and keep it around 1600-1800 calories a day. I do not always succeed but that is what I strive for and those are the numbers I try and focus on.

I do weigh myself everyday as part of my work out. The Wii makes this easy to do, but I try not to really pay attention to the weight as it fluctuates day by day. I am seeing a slow steady decline, but what's more important to me is that I know I am really helping my body and my pants are getting looser every day.

That said of course I have an ideal size/weight in mind. I'd like to be around 160 pounds and about a size 10 or 12. I have a fairly good sized frame and am 5' 7" tall. This is where I'd like to be in about a year, I know it will take a while, but in a year I will look back and say wow it only took a year!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tips for Dealing with Stress

Life can be stressful. Stress causes a lot of health problems, and it lends itself to emotional eating and bad eating habits. It can also affect your sleep, your digestive system, your hormones, and even cause muscular tension.

Getting rid of stress can help alleviate many of those symptoms and more. Finding ways to de-stress is important for your health, both physically and emotionally.

Here's some suggestions for getting rid of stress:

1. Stop and take a 5 minute break when your are getting stressed out. Find somewhere quiet, take a couple deep breaths and try and push the stress out of your mind.

2. Write it down. Even if you just throw away the paper later, you'll feel better getting it out of you.

3. Take a relaxing shower or bath. Lock the door, ignore the kids and hubby or whatever and just let go.

4. Cleaning. I know it sounds crazy but I feel so much better after getting some housework done, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

5. Try a support group or therapy. Having someone who's not involved in your day to day life to vent to can really help.

6. This may sound silly but try playing games or cards. With friends or alone this can help take your mind of what's bothering you for a little while. Obviously limit time spent playing video games, or find a physical game, like football or volley ball.

7. The "I did list". Instead of writing a "to do list" make an "I did" list. I write down all the things I got done, and instead of seeing all the things I didn't get done on the list, I see a big list of things I did get done.

8. Listen to some music. I'm one of those people that likes to sing along and sometimes I'll even dance around if no one's about.

9. Call a friend and talk about something. You can talk about what's stressing you out or about anything, I bet you'll feel a little better afterwards.

10. Consider Yoga or meditation, if that's not your thing maybe just find a class that you want to try. It will give you a break from thinking about your stress causer, and give you a chance to meet new people.

11. Try and stay positive. Glass half full kind of thing you know? It's easy to let stress get the better of you if you're only looking for the bad things. 

Of course no one can ever really relieve all their stress, but cutting it down as much as possible will improve your quality of life if nothing else.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Plague Strikes

So last week the plague struck our house as the stomach flu made it's way through town. As you can imagine I fell off the wagon a little bit dealing with sick children and a sick significant other.

Instead of cooking at home we ate out, I cheated and had a coffee, didn't do my work out as I was not feeling good. So I was expecting failure this morning when I got on the Wii Fit to do a body test and my work out.

To my amazement, I lost 3 pounds. I felt like I was on top of the world and felt even more motivated to get back on track. I know what some of you are thinking of course you lost 3 pounds with the stomach flu, but I never got sick! 

I'm glad everyone is on the mend, and happy to be back to my routine. I am looking forward to seeing how much I can accomplish this week. I had to give away some of my clothes that are too big now, but I am fitting clothes that were too small a month ago and it's like getting a whole new wardrobe.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pep Talk

I'm no fitness expert, and I'm the first to admit that growing up I didn't want to make the effort to lose weight. I wanted a quick easy fix. Well I've grown up with that mentality and it's a hard one to break.

As the years have passed I have been depressed about my weight and really wanted to be thinner and healthier. This led to a lot of emotional eating, and more inactivity.

Working out is hard. It's tiring, it makes your chest and lungs burn, it makes your muscles burn, and let's not forget the sweating. But I am here to tell you it gets easier. You just have to try and keep trying.

For a month now I have gotten off my butt and made the effort to work out. I'll admit at first it was hard, very hard. I could only go for short burst at a time a few times a week, but after a month of pushing myself I am now able to do 30 minutes of step aerobics 6 days a week.

Let me tell you how amazing it feels. I used to get winded walking up the alley to my apartment, now I can walk up it without even breathing hard. I feel better, my pants keep getting looser, and I feel like I am sleeping better.

I still have a hard time believing how easy it has gotten and have been kind of kicking myself for not doing this YEARS ago. However, I won't kick myself too hard, and you shouldn't either.

Each day is a new one, so try and make that step today, and again tomorrow and the day after that. You'll thank yourself.