Thursday, November 11, 2010

To all my runners and the people that want to start

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been taking my own advice. I know… shock! But sometimes the hardest advice to take is your own. SO, what haven’t I been doing? In short… intervals.

Here is where I make excuses: After I had Hazel, I went almost directly into training for the half marathon where I followed a training schedule. Didn’t I run that half marathon ages ago, you ask? Yep. What have I been doing since? Being lazy. I have been running a boring 10 minute mile for approximately three months. Then something happened… I joined the YMCA and 25 minutes into my workout a woman from the childcare room would come and get me. Apparently, Drew has some separation issues.

To an anal retentive runner like me, doing 2.5 miles is not a complete run. I have to do at least 3 miles to feel the run was significant. Once again, that philosophy is not congruent with what I tell my readers… so when the woman at the Y pulls me off the treadmill at 25 minutes and 2.5 miles, I leave feeling like I need to run to the car to finish out my 3 mile run.

The solution: I stopped being lazy and got my ass back into intervals. Here is how I modified the interval workout to be longer, faster, and most important of all, complete 3 miles in under 30 minutes.
Here is the routine:
Warm-Up 2 minutes at 5.5
Minute 3- 5.5
Minute 4- 6.0
Minute 5- 6.5
Minute 6- 7.0
Minute 7- 7.5
Above is the core interval set. Do it 5 times. That will bring you to 27 minutes and almost 3 miles. Lower your speed to a comfortable run and finish out the 3 miles.

What has happened since I started doing this? First, I have taken a minute off my mile time. Second, those final 2 pounds that were holding on from pregnancy are gone. Third, I don’t feel like a lazy runner anymore. I am progressing as I should. I have been doing it for three weeks now and recently moved up my speed (if you do an interval set of 5.7, 6.2, 6.7, 7.2, 7.7 you will do 3 miles in 27 minutes flat).

How to get started:
1) Pick a speed that you feel will be challenging, but sustainable for 3 miles. At the end of the workout, you should feel dog tired and possibly like your legs are going to fall off. What you don’t want is to pick a speed where you kill yourself for 15 minutes and then quit because it is too hard.
2) Don’t concentrate on the distance, concentrate on each minute. Interval training is above all about bursts of speed, not distance running. For me though, if you can accomplish a distance goal while interval training you have the best of both worlds.
3) Once it becomes too easy, up your speed. Don’t get comfortable. There is no challenge in that.
4) A great running mix helps a lot. Pack your IPod with songs that make you want to kick ass, dance, or sing at the top of your lungs (my personal favorite right now is Dynamite by Taio Cruz… amazing). Put that energy into the run and you are good to go!

On a side note....
I have to give a shout out to my mom. This Thanksgiving, my mom, Anna, Kyle, and I will be running the 10K Turkey Trot in Cincinnait. My mom has been training for a few months and last week she ran 7.5 miles in preparation. At fifty (mumble) years old and not having run in years, she has put hard work and dedication into this race and I am SO PROUD of her for setting her sights on a goal and making it happen. Holla, Mama!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Calcium- Who needs it? YOU.

I recently read an article in Natural Health magazine that I found very interesting. The article as a whole was about bone health, but the part I found interesting was about calcium. We have all been told our entire lives that if we want to get enough calcium in our diet to drink milk. Remember, “Milk, it does a body good.” Well, according to this article, that is just not so!

Milk can actually speed up bone loss. Dairy products spike acidity levels in our bloodstream and our body’s way of defense… releasing calcium from our bones. Interesting… so what are we supposed to do? Osteoporosis is a huge issue with women and if we aren’t building up calcium in our bones with milk, what should we eat? The answer: dark leafy greens such as kale and chard.

I will admit that until this past summer I had never cooked (okay, or seen) kale or chard… ever. I received my first CSA delivery in June and there in the box were two things I didn’t recognize. Fortunately for me, my CSA program sends recipes (with pictures) every week that correspond to the food delivered.

Here are some recipes that are packed with dark leafy greens and are DELICIOUS! They are vegetarian and have some cheese, but you can omit. Here’s to bone health! On a side note... the next blog is going to be about interval training. All you runners out there, the next one is for you!

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups firmly-packed fresh kale
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. to 1/2 cup olive oil

Place pine nuts in a dry skillet, and toast, shaking occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Place kale in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add pine nuts, garlic and salt. Pulse until kale is finely chopped.

Add cheese, and pulse until cheese is incorporated. Do not puree or over process. The pesto should still be chunky.

Drizzle in olive oil, and continue to pulse until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.

**Add to Penne for a pesto pasta. Or add a different twist to your lasagna and use kale pesto instead of marinara sauce.

2 lbs Swiss Chard, washed & spun dry
4 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Spanish Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 Bunch Fresh Flat Leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/8 cup
3 Large eggs
Salt & Pepper
3 tbs Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Cup Bread Crumbs or Panko Crumbs

Preheat oven to 350

Heat olive oil in saucepan add onions, garlic, Swiss Chard and sauté. Remove from the heat once onions are translucent, and Swiss Chard has cooked down a bit. Approximately 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix eggs, season with salt and pepper, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, mix well.

Once Swiss Chard mixture has cooled. Add egg mixture and toss to combine.

Lightly grease a 9 inch round baking dish. Dust the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko crumbs. Carefully place Swiss Chard mixture into the pan. Dust the top with breadcrumbs. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 1 hour serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ch, ch, ch changes!

Where does the time go? It is October (my favorite time of year), but I am not sure what happened to September. Time just seems to be flying by and I would like it to slow down just a little bit. Please.

Two kids take a lot of energy and time. God bless all of you that have more than two kids. You are either taking heavy drugs OR are complete Superwomen. Since having the lovely and adorable Hazel, I have had a few issues that I thought maybe some of you are experiencing. So let's discuss.

1) I am up at 5:45 every morning... not working out but tending to my 2 year old. If I wanted to work out in the morning, I would have to get up at 4AM and that is not happening. That doesn't even include a shower after the workout or actually blow drying my hair. By the time nap time rolls around, it takes all my will power to get up and run... or clean the dishes or unload the laundry or clean the bathroom. I realized yesterday, I haven't sat down for lunch in six months. I am pretty sure it is not good to eat standing up.

2) What the F happened to my body? I thought things were a bit out of sorts after one kid, but two... I would like my abs back please and maybe a tummy tuck. All those celebrities that are on the cover of Us Weekly and People posing in a bikini and proclaiming that they lost their baby weight in 6 weeks had tummy tucks after the C-Sections and workout seven days a week because they have nannies. Stop lying to us! Now that I am in my 30's, I have retired my bikini to better days.

3) I have to amend one of my blogs. I had stated that a person should be taking 10,000 steps per day. I calculated that to be around 2 miles (there are 5,280 feet in a mile…). WELL, I was wrong. Yes, you should be taking 10,000 steps a day, but that doesn’t equal 2 miles… in equals 5! That means we all should be walking 5 miles a day… shit.

Okay, now for my solutions.
1) Until my daughters start sleeping past the 6 o’clock hour, I am not working out in the morning. HOWEVER, I am now working out at other times during the day. In the past, I have always saved nap time for working out, but that cuts down on the time I have to do other things. As a solution, we recently joined our local YMCA. It is inexpensive and they will watch both girls in their kid’s playroom so I can work out. Now, it took me getting over the nerves of dropping my kids off and the guilt of leaving my kids with someone else during the day when I am a stay-at-home mom, but I got over it and now I LOVE it. I work out when I want and I still have nap time to do other things… like shower.

2) As stated earlier, I am never wearing a bikini again (much to the disappointment of Kyle) so there is no point in me worrying about how my abs look. The most important thing is that I am HEALTHY. When Drew is 3 and wants me to play soccer with her, I want to be able to do that. When Hazel is 16 and wants to hike Mt. Princeton, I want to be able to do that. When I go to sleep at night, I want to know that I treated my body the best I could that day… because that is the most important thing. I don’t want my girls thinking that it is okay for them to sit on the couch and eat ice cream every day. Nor do I want my girls to think that they are ugly because they don’t have the perfect body. Eating healthy, being active, and loving yourself is what is important. I want my girls to see a mom who loves herself, imperfections and all.

3) As far as the 10,000 steps… I am going to walk a little more, dance with Kyle a little more, and cut myself a break on the days when exhaustion takes over. You win some, you lose some.

Happy Fall! The leaves are changing… do you need a change, too? Now is the time to do it! Get up, be active, eat healthy, and love yourself! Enjoy the weather!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reflections from a Treadmill

I got a little frustrated today. Drew woke up at 5:45am, starting the day off with a bang. Anna and I took the kids out to the park, a friend’s house, and shopping (don’t tell Kyle). By the time we got home, had lunch, and I convinced Drew that she had to take a nap, it was 2:30pm. I plopped down on my couch exhausted. All I wanted to do was take a nap, but something was preventing me from ultimate relaxation (no, it wasn’t Hazel, she was sleeping soundly before Drew... God bless her). It was the fact that in an effort to be more scheduled with extracurricular activities, I had reserved this day to run and I needed to do it while the girls napped.

I realized that I was trapped. I am a slave to my workout. I spent 15 minutes trying to rationalize a nap. Anna and I must have walked 3 miles this morning, I thought. I will just take a short one. It’s no big deal if I skip a day… Twenty minutes later, I was on my treadmill running. WHY?

So many people start working out and then quit. You know who you are. I hear it all the time. “I started working out a month ago and then I went on vacation and came back to a ton of work and working out was just the last thing on my list. I will try and start up again next week.” I used to be that person. What changed? Honestly, I’m not sure. But I do know this, as I sat on my couch today I asked myself what would make me feel better, a nap or a run? Most days, it’s a run.

This is the problem that a lot of us have: we don’t give proper credit to the simple choices we make every day. If I had chosen to take a nap, I would have felt guilty all day. I would have thought about how I should have run and how I need to do it tomorrow. Those feelings would have sucked up any energy I got taking the nap. It’s a simple choice I make every day that impacts my life a thousand times over.

So what does this have to do with you (because I get that not all of you are runners)? Think about the simple choices you make every day. Do I eat that piece of leftover pizza? Should I have another glass of wine? Take out or homemade dinner? Simple choices that make a huge impact. Tonight when you are getting ready to go to sleep, are mad at yourself for eating the way you did today? For not working out? OR are you happy you walked home from work? Happy you made a salad instead of going thru the drive thru? Simple choices.

There is a brownie that has been sitting on my counter for the past three days. It is left over from a party we attended this past weekend and I had intended to give it to Drew since she helped make them. In the evening after the kids have gone to sleep, it catches my eye. For the past three nights, I have contemplated eating that brownie (sorry, Drew). But, I am happy to say, that it is still sitting on my counter today. A simple choice I have made for the past three days. And as I go to sleep tonight, I will think about my run today and be happy that I did it. After all, it gave me the idea for this blog!

**Yea... probably time to throw out the brownie.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Catching Up

Where has the summer gone?! I swear yesterday it was May and we were gearing up for all the fun filled activities of the summer. What has the family been up to? Well, we hiked a bunch of mountains in Colorado and partied at Schningerfest, attended some great weddings (congratulations Za and Anjali, Paul and Stephanie, Jen and Pete, and Blair and James!), and enjoyed the wonderful Chicago beaches. But the thing that took up most of my time was training for a half marathon! More on that experience later. Since August is here, the race is done, and the kids are almost back to school (not mine of course… Drew still has a few years, thank goodness), it’s time to get back to business.

When I was younger, a staple vegetable in our house was cooked green beans. I would help my mom snap the ends off of the beans and occasionally, I would snag a few to eat. I always loved the taste of raw green beans, but when it came time to eat the cooked ones, I would shove as many as I could in my mouth at one time just to lessen the amount of bites I would have to take. I have never liked the smushy texture of cooked green beans. Sorry, Mom…

I always thought that vegetables had to be cooked to get their full nutritional value. I am not sure why I thought this, but I found out last month that I was wrong. Recently, I read an article in my Natural Health magazine about raw vegetables and the increasingly popular raw diet. According to this article, vegetables actually lose enzymes when they are cooked taking away some of their nutritional value. That means that for majority of my life, I have suffered through multiple meals of cooked green beans for nothing! Okay, maybe not nothing, they still have a considerable amount of nutrients, cooked or raw. But what I took away from the article was the need to incorporate more raw foods into our diets. The enzymes in the food help with digestion and the overall functioning of your intestines. So the next time you reach for your baking dish to roast some veggies consider lessening the effort you have to put into dinner and serve them raw. They are actually better for you that way.

At the beginning of June, my friend, Leslie, approached me about training for a half marathon. She had just run her first a few weeks earlier and loved it so much she wanted to run another one. With very little persuading needed, she encouraged me to train for the Chicago Rock n’Roll Half Marathon and since it has been on my bucket list for a few years now, I was excited to cross it off and challenge myself.

And what a challenge it was… Not only does the training take dedication and a whole lot of time, time that a new mother of two barely has, but it is intense. I had two months to get my postpartum body into fighting shape and my legs capable of running 13.1 miles. I am happy to say, last weekend was the race and it was a blast! Leslie and I tore up the pavement of downtown Chicago and helped raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Will I ever run a half again? Probably not. Though I was happy to accomplish a goal, I couldn’t wait to end the rigorous training schedule and get back to embarrassing myself in my cardio hip-hop dance class that had to be put on the back burner. But one thing that I did observe running the race was the diversity of the runners. Young, old, fat, skinny, fast, slow, all combined to achieve a common goal. It was an inspiring experience and for that, I am so glad I did it. No dance class could give me that sense of human camaraderie.

I want to thank all of my readers for passing on my blog to other people. It feels so good to know that people enjoy what I write and want other women to know that being healthy is attainable. The more we work together, the easier it is. Healthy lifestyles start at home and who better to start the change with your family than you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Let's Get Real.

Garbage is everywhere and one of the junkiest places…the grocery store. Wading through big business food industry garbage is one of the hardest tasks for the average American eater. What does all natural mean? What is the difference between organic and natural? What is high fructose corn syrup anyway? Why does everything have added fiber?

I have been thinking about how to broach this topic for a while and now seems to be the perfect time. It is summer in Chicago, and one great parts of summer: farmer’s markets are back. But before I tell you how important it is to support your local farmers, we need to discuss just what you are getting when you venture into that “supermarket” in your neighborhood.

Just like most businesses, the food industry’s goal is to get your dollar. They go about it in many ways, but one of the most effective strategies is in the marketing of their products. Because Americans are bombarded with health information from all sides, certain buzz words catch people’s attention and therefore create the perfect marketing attack for big business food. Organic, all-natural, no high fructose corn syrup, and added fiber are just a few buzz words. But what does it all really mean? AND how does it all affect your health?

Let’s start with organic. According to the USDA, organic is defined as: “Food produced without: antibiotics; growth hormones; most conventional pesticides; petroleum- based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.” Most people choose organic food for the cleanliness of the product they are getting. Organic food is not only better for the environment, but it is better for your body. With that said, the US government does not have highly strict rules on organic food big business. You can still find processed food that is labeled organic (yes, there is organic high fructose corn syrup).

Another big touch point is all-natural food. How can something be all-natural and not organic? Good question. Unlike organic food that is regulated through the government (meaning something cannot be labeled organic unless it hits government set standards), labeling something “all-natural” is up to the producer of the product. Government has not defined “all-natural” products and has no regulations on the label. All-natural products are NOT necessarily organic (most likely nowhere near it). The term, in most cases, is a marketing tool. Do not get fooled (btw… high fructose corn syrup is considered a “natural” ingredient).

What is the deal with high fructose corn syrup? HFCS, as people like to call it, is a processed sugar made from cornstarch. It used to be found mostly in soda, though today you can find it in almost every processed food. Go to the bread section of the supermarket and try to find a loaf without it… it will take you a while. Why is it so bad? There are many studies that link HFCS to the rise of obesity in the United States. Why? The reaction the body has to processed fructose is detrimental to our health. It messes with insulin levels, hunger signals, muscle development and more, all leading to an inability of the body to properly process sugar. Companies are now catching on to the fact that people are aware of these studies and in turn staying away from products made with HFCS. Though I highly recommend staying away from these products, the reason is not because of HFCS specifically. The reason is that these products have added sugar. Understand that too much sugar, not matter whether it is HFCS or pure sugar cane is bad for the body. PERIOD.

Why does everything have added fiber? Obviously, we all must have a pooping problem. Also, high fiber diets have been linked to helping prevent heart disease and other dietary health issues. Learning this news, food companies quickly packed as much fiber as they could into processed food in hopes that we would consider the box of Coco Puffs healthier for us than we originally thought. Bottom line… you get NATURAL fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Stick to eating those instead of the Fiber One bars (which have HFCS in it).

How does this all relate to farmer’s markets? If you are confused on what you are getting in your local supermarket, you won’t be at your local farmer’s market. Everything is grown in season and not in a chemical plant, whether it is organic or not, it is fresher (and better for the environment) than the organic tomato you would get at Whole Foods (that traveled thousands of miles on a train, a train that emitted tons of fossil fuels in to the atmosphere, just to be delivered to your local Whole Foods). Finally, you are supporting your local farmers, who have made a conscious decision to go the less popular route and deliver fresh, healthy, properly harvested food to people. Big business food companies can’t say the same.

Make an effort this summer to buy some local food, support healthy eating, and cut out some of the processed food from your diet. It might take a little more effort, but your body will thank you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nana, would eat this?

Deciding what to eat while navigating the modern grocery store can be a grueling task. First, do I shop at Whole Foods or Kroger? Is organic really better for you? What is processed food anyway? Can I really believe what is written on food labels? The questions go on and on.

Over the past few months, I have made it my job to investigate these questions. Lucky for me, I’m not the only one who wants answers. It seems like food literature is everywhere. My magazines are packed with articles on proper nutrition. The Today show has at least one segment a week on how to eat healthy and last week I ordered two more books on the food industry in the United States. Why is this a popular topic? The answer: because what we are eating is making us fat.

Did you know that Americans only spend a tenth of their money on food? In the 1950’s, people spent a fifth of their money on food. How did we get from a nation that valued the food we put in our bodies to a nation that wants things fast, easy, and cheap. The simplest answer: the food industry. Every day we are inundated with advertisements perpetuating this idea. Microwavable meals, fast food, food infused with “vitamins” and “nutrients” that make it easy to replace fruits and vegetables in our diet. But the bottom line is that eating healthy isn’t that easy. A Nutragrain bar isn’t better for you than a doughnut. Why? Because both are packed with ingredients that aren’t real food.

So, how do you decide what to eat? This is the question I have asked myself over and over again. Yesterday, I stumbled across an answer. I was reading Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. This is a book I suggest every person who eats should read. It is short, concise, and well written. One of the rules struck a chord with me. It made shopping easy… and at the same time, much harder. The rule: Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Would your great-grandma know what is sitting in your cabinets and refrigerator? Would she recognize Twinkies? Fiber One bars? Wheat Thins?

What is wrong with these foods? Take a minute and look at the labels. Can you read every ingredient? If you wanted to make Wheat Thins in your own kitchen, could you? If not, than you shouldn’t be ingesting it. Start wanting more out of the food you consume. After all, eating is something you do most often in your life… probably between 3 and 5 times a day. Quality should be on the top of your list for something that impacts your life so much.

So when you are walking through the grocery store (or shopping on Peapod), ask your Nana, would eat this? Do you recognize this food? If she wouldn’t, think hard about buying it. Sure, you might have to cook more. Sure, you might have to change your daily eating routine. Sure, you might have to spend more money. But a little change (and a few more dollars) leads to large health benefits (and smaller health bills).

Monday, May 10, 2010

I admit it. Running isn't enough.

Okay, it has been weeks. I bet you thought I was never going to bring up intervals again. Are you still doing them? Are they getting too easy? Did you lose your motivation? Did you never start to begin with? Well, it’s time to get back to it… even for me, but there is one thing missing from my workout blog from weeks ago. I have been putting off writing about this, but it is time that I confront one of my faults.

I will admit that I am addicted to running. I love it. To quote Edward Cullen, it is my own personal brand of heroin. I would run every day if I could. I know what you are thinking… this chick is crazy. I swear, I am not. I don’t have to run long distances, just 3 miles and I feel on top of the world. Last year on Mother’s Day, my husband asked me what I wanted to do for the day and I told him I wanted to go for a 6 mile run. Okay, now I sound crazy.

Here is the problem with running: when you attempt to do it often (i.e. 6 days a week, like I did last week) your body starts to rebel. For me, the rebellion starts in my knees. Yesterday, my knees won and I was forced to stop and admit that running isn’t always what the body needs… even if my mind would say otherwise.

This brings us to my fault. I suck at weight training. It is a VITAL part of physical development and maintenance. In fact, women NEED to do light weight training to help prevent osteoporosis. Even knowing all these things, I still don’t like doing it and if I don’t have to, I won’t. Well, my knee problems finally forced me to look at my workout regime and admit that I need to change.

What did I do? For starters, I went down into my basement and starting looking for the balance ball video I remembered doing a few years ago after I had my first daughter. I was sure we still had it. If my memory served me correctly, there was a pretty good core workout that got a good sweat going. After fishing around in the basement for 15 minutes, I realized the video was gone. Then the vague memory danced across my brain of me looking at the DVD during our last move and saying to myself “oh, be honest, Bek, you never do this video” and tossing it in the garbage.

So, I couldn’t do the video, but I had one last resort. I didn’t want to have to go there, but time was ticking down and my daughters’ naps were going to be over before I knew it. I went and grabbed the most recent issue of Health magazine and started thumbing through it. Every month the magazine outlines workouts. Every month I scoff at them. Who can read a magazine and do a workout at the same time? But as I learned today, I could.

The best way for women to tone their bodies in conjunction with cardio workouts (i.e. your interval routine) is circuit training. What is circuit training? It is a “technique that involves moving from one exercise to another, each exercise working a different muscle group until each muscle has been worked. It can include strength training stations, cardio stations or a mixture of the two.” When I force myself to do something other than running, it is circuit training. The problem is unless you have a trainer telling you what exercises to do, you are probably clueless.

Well, I found the solution. Since I am not an authority on circuit training and can’t post pictures of exercises for you to do, I will point you in the right direction. The workout I did today (which still has my arms shaking) is GREAT and yes, it came from Health magazine. Go out, buy the May issue of Health (it has Mariska Hargitay on the cover), turn to page 54 and do the workout they have outlined. It is not hard to follow, it gets you sweating, it only takes 20 MINUTES and you will feel great afterward… until tomorrow when you are sore.

I know you thought we were stopping at intervals, but the body needs more (even if I don’t want to admit it). Do this workout 2 days a week in conjunction with intervals 3 days a week. Let’s make a pack to build some muscles, if not to look great (which you will), for the protection of our bones. If you don’t want to do this specific workout, join a yoga class, do a weight training video, find something that suits your personality because a little muscle goes a long way.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vegetables... from yuck to yum!

Recently, I made a life decision that forced me to start thinking about my vegetable intake. The decision, I became a vegetarian! I have loved the choice I made, but it required me to take a serious look at what I was consuming on a daily basis. In the past, I packed all my vegetables for the day into dinner. Whether it was one serving or four, I rarely ate vegetables other than at night (I am not counting the lettuce on my sandwich at lunch… iceberg lettuce is basically water anyway). When I chose to cut out meat, I was all of a sudden presented with a predicament… what do I eat now?!

For most of us, we were raised around meat based meals. My families typical meal consisted of a meat (usually chicken or pork), a starch (potatoes or rice) and a vegetable. When I cooked, I based all meals on the meat I was serving. When I decided to become a vegetarian, I was forced to look at meals differently. Meat was no longer the centerpiece, vegetables were.

Of all food categories, we need vegetables the most. They consist of the most vitamins and nutrients the body needs. It is no surprise that vegetarians tend to be healthier people. They eat considerably more vegetables than meat eaters. Vegetarians are forced to constantly think about what they are putting in their bodies. Am I getting enough protein? Does this meal have the nutrients my body needs? What goes with a potato that doesn’t come from an animal? As meat eaters, we take all these questions for granted. We robotically make ourselves a deli sandwich for lunch and meat and potatoes for dinner. But what about the vegetables?

Whether you are a staunch red meat eater or a chicken lover, start thinking about your meals from a vegetarian’s perspective. Think about what vegetables you are going to cook before you consider your meat. Make a meal around squash, peppers, and mushrooms instead of steak. According to the food pyramid, people need to have 3-5 servings of vegetables a day. Most people eat around one or two… and many don’t eat any at all. If you begin to build your meals around vegetables, you are guaranteed to get your 3-5 servings, not to mention more of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

Take this week and make a commitment to eat your veggies first… then add a meat. You might find you feel healthier, have more energy, and actually like vegetables (brussel sprouts are actually good), because roasted or raw, vegetables really are the best thing on the menu.

Need some motivation?? Every week, I try to cook two new dishes for my family (I am trying to build up my library of vegetarian recipes) and they are all veggie packed. Check out the recipes I picked out for this week!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why Saturday and Sunday may not be the best days of the week.

“I’ve been good all week. I think I will have a burger in celebration.” “Wine? Yes, please and keep it coming.” “I don’t feel like cooking. Let’s just order pizza.” “I should go to the gym, but Miss Congeniality is on TV again.”

Sound familiar? We all have a tendency to over indulge on the weekends. I am guilty of it myself. I can honestly say that up until a few months ago, we relied on takeout for meals Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We would order sushi for dinner and sandwiches to watch football. It was my family’s bad habit. I justified it by telling myself that we are city dwellers and takeout is just a part of city living. Well… I took a look at my credit card statement a few months ago and was embarrassed at what I saw. Not only was takeout costing my family an arm and a leg, but it consumed most of my purchases. At that moment, I decided we needed to change and I was the person that needed to start the revolution. I made an internal commitment to my family that I would cook healthy meals, educate myself on what I was putting into our mouths, and spend my money on food that would nourish our bodies not deteriorate them. And I would do all this EVEN on the weekends.

Why your weekends might be ruining your attempt at weight loss…

I just read an article in Health magazine that stated on average a person consumes 1,000 extra calories A DAY on the weekends. Think for a moment about your average weekend. You probably over indulge in wine, beer, or takeout. You don’t think much of it because you have been doing it for so long, but what if you adjusted your bad habit? What if you cooked dinner for yourself on Sunday night instead of ordering pizza? What if you made yourself a sandwich instead of going to Potbelly? What if you drank one glass of wine instead of a bottle? Small improvements can mean big results and I would bet that if you changed how you ate, you would find yourself at the gym on Sunday instead of on your couch. That’s the awesome thing about treating your body kindly… it feels good and you want to keep doing it!

So… did I keep up with my commitment? I would be lying if I said I cook every meal all weekend long. On an average weekend, we order out one night. We have put a stop to ordering food during the day and I started buying enough lunch food to last seven days instead of five. Also, I routinely make dinner Sunday nights. These were small steps, but they have made a big difference not only to our health, but also my credit card bill.

On another note… we had a baby girl! Hazel Martin Crane is officially 2 weeks old and it is already hard to imagine our family was ever without her. She is wonderful.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Can I have a moment, please?

Well, tomorrow is the day! Drew will no longer be an only child, we will no longer only have one kid to care for, and I will no longer have time to shower or sleep or sit down or read a book or cook… the list goes on.

Ending pregnancy and starting a new chapter of motherhood comes with such a juxtaposition of emotions. I woke up this morning before Kyle and Drew (as I do most mornings), came downstairs, made myself a cup of tea, and thought about the moment. I love the mornings. I get up before the family and steal some quiet time just to myself to read or write or just catch a glimpse of Matt Lauer before Drew needs my attention (usually a very short glimpse since Drew wakes up at 7AM almost every day).

I realize my laid back morning routine is a luxury of being a stay-at-home mom and I love it. I don’t have to get up and shower or be at work by 7AM, like so many moms do. In fact, if I don’t have to get out of my pajamas until Drew and I have to go somewhere, I usually won’t.

My time in the morning adds to my happiness throughout the day and today was my farewell to it for the next few months. Happiness will be added to my life in a different way and I am excited/nervous/anxious for the change, but I will be looking forward to when I can have this time again. AND eventually, both kids will sleep through the night and in a far off month down the road, I will be able to get up at 6AM, grab my latest chick-lit novel, a cup of tea, and have some quiet time to myself before the house explodes with noise.

Change is wonderful, but on this morning the day before one of the biggest changes in my life, I want to pay homage to the moments throughout the day from which we gain our energy. They are important to the soul, mind, and body. If you are having a hard time finding those moments (as I will soon), let’s make a pact to seek them out. Grab a cup of coffee, find a quiet corner, and recharge… even if it is only for a moment.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What Type of Eater are You?

Easter has done it again. Not only did the entire family indulge in Easter candy, but it is still lurking around the house. It is in a cupboard, a leftover Easter basket, or a plastic egg that my daughter has yet to find (Kyle didn’t take stock of where he hid them). Luckily, the candy will stay there causing moments of temptation, but most likely, will not get eaten and will eventually find its way to the garbage. Why would we throw out perfectly good candy? Here are some thoughts on indulging and how you can change your mind and your body.

A few years ago, a study was conducted on people’s eating habits and the motivation behind their actions. The participants were broken into two groups: people who diet and people who don’t. They took the groups of dieters and non-dieters and one by one brought them into a room. The people conducting the study asked them questions and halfway through the interview, made up an excuse to leave the room. What they left behind in the room was the true test of the study: a plate of cookies. They wanted to see how the two groups of people would react to a plate a cookies left at their disposal.

Here is what they found:

The group of dieters hesitated from grabbing a cookie. But after some hesitation, dove right in. Not only did they have one cookie, but they had several.

The group of non-dieters went for the plate of cookies, had one, and stopped there.

Why did the “dieters” eat more cookie when they were supposed to be watching what they ate? The study pointed to two very different mindsets when it comes to food.

Dieters tend to look at food as the enemy. “If I could only stay away from candy, I could lose weight.” “If I stop eating all carbohydrates, I will get skinny.” “I need someone to put meals in front of me that are healthy. I can’t make them for myself.” Why did they eat more cookies? The study found that the dieters looked at the day as being “ruined”. The food had won, so why not give in to indulging and eat the whole plate. They had a “Since, I already eat one why not eat the whole thing? My day is shot anyway” mentality.

The non-dieters saw the cookies for what they were, a treat. Something to enjoy in moderation.

What does it all mean? As I have stated before, eating healthy and working out isn’t a diet, a quick fix, or something that in six months you will stop doing. It is a mindset, a lifestyle, and with that comes a shift in how you view what you put in your mouth.

Next time you reach for a cookie think about how you view eating it. Are you going to order a pizza for dinner because you already indulged in the cookie, so why not indulge in something else bad for you? OR are you going to allow yourself to have something sweet every once and a while and not feel guilty, BUT not continue to indulge the rest of the day?

So, my Easter candy will stay where it is for now. In a week or two after Kyle has eaten a few more chocolate bunnies, we will most likely throw it out because we had our fill. My butt won’t be bigger, my jeans will still fit, and I will have enjoyed a little bit of candy on a holiday that insists we all take a moment and be thankful for the life we’ve been given.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Take Your Best Bite First.

I have been getting a lot of questions about what to do when you go to a restaurant. What meals should you pick? What items should you stay away from? This is one of the biggest challenges when trying to eat healthy. When you prepare your own food, you know what goes into it. When Applebee’s does, you never really know what you are getting.

I had a conversation with my sister when I started training her that was an eye opener. Every time I go to a restaurant, I eat the best thing on the plate first. If I order a sandwich, I eat the sandwich and leave the fries for the end. For two reasons I do this: 1) I enjoy the sandwich more than the fries. If I liked fries more, than I would just order a batch of fries. 2) If I eat the sandwich first, it will fill me up and I will be less likely to dive into the fries that are left on my plate. Since normally, a sandwich is better for you than fries, I go for the healthier option first.

My sister, on the other hand, had a different approach. She always ate the thing she wanted least first, saving her favorite stuff for last, essentially, saving the “best bite for last.” This approach always ended one way… her finishing her entire meal.

Restaurants have no shame when it comes to portions. The bigger the better. When eating out, you need to have a plan of attack to combat the fact that someone else is preparing your food. Here are a few helpful hints:

1) Don’t eat the bread! I know it is free, but most of the time it is white bread with tons of empty calories and no nutritional value. Also, because it takes 20 minutes or so for our stomachs to recognize we are full, you inevitably order an entrée, eat the entrée, and then realize you could have stopped at the bread. Don’t fall victim to “free food”.
2) Just because you are out to eat, doesn’t mean you get to order a soda. Order water. You need the hydration anyway. And if you want to spend money on a drink… get some wine.
3) Eliminate things from your plate. Sandwiches almost always come with chips, fries, a salad, cup of soup, etc. In reality, your portion size for that meal should only be the sandwich. Ask for NO SIDE. Don’t even have them put something on your plate, even if it is a salad.
4) The “clean plate club” broke up a long time ago. Eat what you enjoy first and stop eating when you get full. Don’t save the best bite for last.
5) Don’t be afraid to change up the menu. Order your sauces, dressings, etc ON THE SIDE or not at all. Many calories can be taken away from a meal simply by removing what it comes “dressed” in.
6) Look at how things are prepared. GRILLED, BAKED, and STEAMED are key “healthy” words you want to look for. SAUTEED, FRIED, BATTERED, BREADED, CREAMED… bad, very bad. Stay away from these items.
7) Many times you can find your meal under the appetizers. Don’t be fooled by the label, most places serve big portion appetizers that would fill you up just fine.
8) Don’t forget your vegetables. Many restaurants offer STEAMED vegetables. Who knew! Order up some of those the next time you really want to get a side with your dish.
9) Lastly, I don’t care if there is a deal on “appetizer, entrée, and dessert”, that is WAY too much food for one person. You need an entrée. Period. On a special occasion, you can order dessert.

Here are a few ticket items that many average restaurants have that are safe bets:
1) Grilled Chicken Sandwich- Don’t get it covered in a sauce. Don’t ask for mayo on the side. Ask for mustard. Trust me, it really is quite good.
2) Turkey/chicken/veggie wraps- here is an even better option than the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. Number one, a wrap is better for you than a bun, AND normally, wraps are packed full of veggies. Order it without sauce or dressing (leave the ranch for the next customer). Leave the cheese behind as well.
3) Hummus plate- Many restaurants offer this as an appetizer, but it makes a great meal. Normally, it will come with vegetables and pita. Start with the veggies first and save the pita for a treat at the end.
4) Fish- If the fish is not battered, breaded, fried, etc , this is a great option. We don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in our diet and fish is a great way to start adding them. Go for the salmon, or if you are like me and can’t stand the fishy taste of salmon, go for the baked white fish. Again, skip the sauce… are you starting to see a trend?
5) Salads- Here is the tricky one. Just because it is a salad, doesn’t mean it is good for you. That said, you can transform any restaurant salad into something that IS good for you with a few easy steps: 1) Dressing on the side. You will use WAY less dressing if you dip your salad into it instead of having them dowse the entire thing in ranch 2) no cheese 3) no bacon 4) skip the croutons 5) skip the bread that sometimes comes with salads.
6) Go a la carte- Look at what sides they have to offer. Sometimes you can make a meal simply from sides. Get some veggies, a baked potato, maybe a cup of soup and you are on your way!

Finally, make all this easy on yourself from the beginning: Choose a restaurant that you know is going to offer you healthier options. You eliminate half the hassle by omitting places you know you shouldn’t go to.

I hope this fills in some of the questions people had about restaurant food. Keep the questions coming and look for another blog in a few days!

Oh, BTW… how are you coming along with your intervals??????

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ready, Set... Intervals!

Have I convinced you to move around more? Did you find time in your day when you could fit in a little more movement? I hope so! I thought about it yesterday as well. Some days my number is well above 10,000, other days… not so much. As with all things related to the body, it is a constant process because we are constantly changing.

As promised (a day late), this blog is all about exercise! You don’t need to go out and get yourself a personal trainer, though I wish I could be standing next to all of you giving you motivation as you suffer through your first set of interval. In fact, you don’t even have to go join a gym (I don’t belong to a gym… but I have a treadmill. Thank you, Kyle!)

Let’s break it down:

I am fully aware that not all people are up for jumping on a treadmill and cranking out 20 minutes of intervals on their first day. The first day I started training my sister, Emmy, she didn’t want me anywhere near her when she was on the treadmill. “Bekah, I don’t run. I am not like you. I can’t do it.” Fine, I said, and she proceeded to walk /run at her own accord without any interference from me. After one work out of realizing she wasn’t going to die from raising her heart rate above normal, she asked for my help to amplify her workout. Little did she know… BUT today Emmy runs 3-4 days a week. She went from the girl who cried “I can’t!” to a sexy running machine. HOW???? More on that later…

IF YOU HAVE NEVER WORKED OUT BEFORE: Let’s take this week slow. Realize that raising your heart rate feels good. Like Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Let’s put a little more happiness in your life this week! I want you to dedicate 3 days to activity. Mark them on your calendar and do not deviate from those planned days. On those days, I want you to take a long (45 minute or more) speed walk. Not a “chat with your best friend” walk, a “huff and puff, swing those arms” walk. When you feel like you want to slow down, DON’T. Prove to yourself you can do it without slowing down. See what it feels like to use muscles that have been sedentary for far too long. If you get sore, tough it out. Muscles rebound faster when they are used again. The key to not being sore is to work out again (I know, it’s messed up but true. You WILL feel worse if you don’t move through the soreness). Sound like a plan?! Put it into action this week. We will switch it up next week.

FOR THE REST OF YOU… whether you belong to a gym or not, this is when interval training commences.

How did Emmy get acclimated to running so quickly? How did she build her speed so fast? How did she lose 6 pounds in a week (of course, part was from eating correctly)? INTERVAL TRAINING.

WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Interval training is a high intensity workout that produces more muscle mass, longer caloric burn, and an extended heightened metabolic rate through bursts of high heart rate changes.

A little science… Low-intensity training (i.e. running 3 miles at a consistent pace) only burns calories for the duration of the workout. Once you stop running, you stop burning. It also does not build as much muscle mass, which is essential for raising your metabolic rate (muscle burns fat just by sitting on your body). Think of a marathon runner. They are in great shape, but if you were to put them next to a sprinter, they would look like a shrimp.

High intensity interval training burns fat and calories long after you are finished working out because of the muscle mass that your body will be creating and the rise in your metabolic rate (because of the extra muscle on your body). AND it creates lean muscle mass… which should make all women happy. Who doesn’t want to be described as lean?!

Interval Training is built to be a short intense workout (20 minutes) with bursts of high and low heart rates. Here is what you do:

If you are a person that has never run before, start with this routine (this is where Emmy started):
Minute 1: 3.5 speed
Minute 2: 3.5 speed
Minute 3: 4.0
Minute 4: 4.5
Minute 5: 5.0
Minute 6: 5.5
Minute 7: 4.0
Minute 8: 4.5
Minute 9: 5.0
Minute 10: 5.5
Minute 11: 4.0
Minute 12: 4.5
Minute 13: 5.0
Minute 14: 5.5
Minute 15: 4.0
Minute 16: 4.5
Minute 17: 5.0
Minute 18: 5.5
Minute 19: 6.0
Minute 20: 4.0

Here is the key to intervals: When you want to slow down or fall off the treadmill, DON’T. As I told Emmy, you can do ANYTHING for a minute. Don’t let yourself down. Also, if you start at this speed and are not begging for the workout to be over, YOU NEED TO GO FASTER. Increase your speed the next time you do it.

If you have experience running…
When I started interval training 5 years ago, I began at this speed. I had been running on and off for a few months beforehand.
Minute 1: 5.0
Minute 2: 5.0
Minute 3: 5.5
Minute 4: 6.0
Minute 5: 6.5
Minute 6: 7.0
Minute 7: 5.5
Minute 8: 6.0
Minute 9: 6.5
Minute 10: 7.0
Minute 11: 5.5
Minute 12: 6.0
Minute 13: 6.5
Minute 14: 7.0
Minute 15: 5.5
Minute 16: 6.0
Minute 17: 6.5
Minute 18: 7.0
Minute 19: 7.5
Minute 20: 5.5

You don’t need a treadmill to do interval training. All you need are your 2 legs. Follow this plan:
Get out your stop watch. Head outside. Do a 2 minute warm up of a quick walk or light jog. After 2 minutes, sprint for 1 minute (time it out on your watch and don’t stop before the minute is up). After the minute, slow down to a fast walk or light jog (DO NOT SLOW DOWN COMPLETELY) for one minute. Repeat the sprint/jog combination for 20 minutes. Since you don’t have a treadmill to keep your legs moving, be good to yourself and DON’T CHEAT.

FOR EVERYONE: Do this exercise 3 times this week.

Okay, I hope this give people some direction! If you have questions, post them to the blog and I will answer them. Also, a disclaimer: As I stated in my first blog, I am 9 months pregnant. I DO NOT do interval training while pregnant, nor should anyone else. If you have a bun in the oven, don’t attempt to be superwoman. Stick to low-intensity exercise.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It Isn't Your Workout Routine that is Broken. It's Your Lifestyle.

Take a moment and think about your day. How much time do you spend sitting down whether at work or at home? Do you hate bending over to put on your shoes? Do you drive everywhere? When your kids want to play in the yard, do you sit and watch them instead of playing with them? We should be walking 10,000 steps a day. If you do the math, there are 5,280 feet in a mile, which means you should be walking about 2 miles a day just for your own wellness. If you were to wear a pedometer for the day, would you hit 10,000 steps? Most people don’t even come close.

The problem with life today is it is much too sedentary. We don’t move enough. We watch TV at night, sit at a computer all day, and drive everywhere we have to go. The result: laziness and obesity. Sure you don’t feel lazy. You work 8 hours a day, take care of 2 kids and a husband, and keep it all together. That is not the lazy I am talking about. I am talking about driving somewhere when you could walk. Going through the drive-thru instead of making dinner. Watching TV instead of working out.

I have been grappling for the past few days how to broach the subject of exercise. How do I impart to people who might not be inclined to work out the importance of doing it?

Let me make just a small plea on the importance of frequent and consistent exercise: your heart. As we all know, your heart is a muscle and just like all muscles in your body, it needs to be used or it will atrophy. Your heart shows signs of atrophy in different ways, though. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation, and all of these things resulting in possible heart attack, stroke, certain cancers and death. Is that a good enough reason? Some might call that extreme, but heart disease is the #1 killer of women (and men). BUT… you know that! So, why aren’t you exercising?

Take a day. Observe yourself. Before I can give you an exercise routine to follow, you have to learn about yourself. Do you care enough to want to move? Have you settled into a lazy lifestyle? To lose weight and keep it off, YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFESTLYE. You have to educate yourself on YOU. The idea isn’t to work out for 6 months and stop; it is to move for the rest of your life whether that be nightly walks with your husband or hour long workouts at the gym.

I can and will give you the best work out to burn the most fat, boost your metabolism, and increase your speed, but unless you decide to change the way you live, it will only get you so far.

I am going to break my exercise advice into two blogs. The reason being: 1) there is too much information for me to concisely put it in one blog and 2) I can’t put enough emphasis on taking time to observe your own behavior. That is what I want you to do before I start dishing out exercise routines.

Here is the work I want you to do. Observe your life tomorrow. Find one thing you could change that would make you move around more. Could you walk to work? Take public transportation? Go for a walk at lunch instead of eating at your desk? Walk to the grocery store? Change one thing and make it a permanent change. Think about reaching your 10,000 steps. What can you do to get there?

Wednesday, I will post actual exercise routines that are built for multiple skill levels. Exercise is not the sole solution to weight loss, but coupled with a good diet, it is an imperative part. Remember, 80% of weight loss is what you eat, 20% is exercise. Don’t miss read what I am saying, you need to exercise… if all you do is eat right, you are missing 20% of a complete you.

A few things to add to the eating portion…

Have you started feeding your body better? Need a few helpful hints to keep you on track? I read about one idea in this month’s Natural Health magazine that I really liked.

- Keep a food diary. Don’t just write down what you are eating, also write down how it makes you feel right after you eat it and then an hour after that. Look back at how you feel when you eat. The idea is to be happier. Eat what makes you happy (I am guessing that is not going to be McDonalds).

Also, I have a recipe to share with everyone! I made this last week and it was a total hit at my house.

Substitute whole wheat bread for focaccia bread and omit the mayonnaise (I have made them with and without the mayo and there is very little difference). If you want to add some protein, add a few slices of lunch meat. Also, I made mine on a Panini press and they came out great!

Look for more on Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Three Meals a Day... who thought of that crazy idea?

Let's take everything you think about food and throw it out the window. Health teachers were lying to you when they said you should eat three square meals a day. That doesn't make any sense and here is why: think of your body as a car engine. Just as a car engine burns fuel, your body burns calories. To run at its best, you have to constantly fuel your body, and in turn constantly burn calories. When a person works out for an hour they burn on average 300-500 calories. If you do the math that is only about 1/4 of the calories you have to burn in a day to MAINTAIN your weight. How does the body burn most of the left over calories? The answer: Digestion. Your body has to work at digesting your food. If it has no food to digest, it stops burning. Just like a car that doesn't have fuel, your body turns off. The key to weight loss (and maintenance) is to constantly keep your body burning. How? By eating!

(Another analogy if the car one is too confusing… every morning you light a fire in your body by eating breakfast. It is easier on your body to keep putting sticks on the fire, than letting the fire burn down and having to start it over again 2 more times that day. )

To burn calories best and keep your body functioning on energy, a person should eat at least 6 times a day. I am not talking about gut busting meals; I am talking about 3 balanced, portion appropriate meals and 3 snacks. Here the logic: If you eat everything in three meals, you are overloading your system. The stomach can’t keep up with all the food it has to burn, so it sits there making you feel sluggish and tired (you know, the afternoon at work when you wish you could put your head down and take a nap). If you take all the food you are supposed to consume in a day and spread it out over many meals, you don’t overload your system. Your body can keep up with all that it has to digest, in turn giving you more energy and burning more calories.

So how do you know what is the correct amount to eat? If you are eating 6 meals a day, three of those meals should be comprised of 3 whole foods, and three meals should be comprised of 2 whole food. What the hell is a whole food? Good question… it is anything that is a single entity of food that has been unprocessed or altered as little as possible (an apple, cucumber, brown rice, avocado, egg). A TV dinner is NOT a whole food. So, here is an example of what one day of eating might look like.
Breakfast: 1 egg with tomato and a piece of whole wheat toast (3 whole foods)

Snack: banana and almonds (2 whole foods)

Lunch: whole wheat wrap with turkey and avocado (3 whole foods)

Snack: celery and peanut butter (the real stuff, not Jiff) (2 whole foods)

Dinner: Chicken with brown rice and green beans (3 whole foods)

Snack: cottage cheese and strawberries (2 whole foods)

Here is the key behind the combination: You want to combine different food groups in every meal. For example: at breakfast the egg is a PROTEIN, the tomato is a VEGETABLE, and the toast is a CARBOHYDRATE. No meal should contain any foods from the same food group. That way you are diversifying your eating and getting all your essential nutrients. Here is a SUGGESTED list of food you can choose from and what food group they fall under. If you don’t see something on the list, it doesn’t mean you can’t have it (for example, not all fruits are on the list, but am I going to tell you not to eat fruit.. no way!). Feel free to ask me!
Chicken breast
Turkey breast
Lean ground turkey
Top round steak
Top sirloin steak
Lean ground beef
Lean ham
Egg, Egg whites or substitutes
Low-fat cottage cheese

Green beans
Green peppers
Brussels sprouts

Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Natural peanut butter
Low-sodium nuts
Olives and olive oil
Safflower oil
Canola oil
Sunflower oil
Flax seed oil

Baked potato
Sweet potato
Steamed brown rice
Steamed wild rice
Kidney beans
Fat-free yogurt
Whole-wheat bread
Whole-wheat Tortilla
Whole grains

Fried foods
Whole-fat dairy products

Here is the key to eating your meals: PORTION CONTROL! For example, one portion of meat is 3-4 ounces (not 8 oz. as they would like you to believe at a steak joint). Your meat should fit in the palm of your hand. That is pretty much true with everything you eat. If you aren’t into measuring your food (which I suggest everyone look at the labels on your food and see what an actual serving size is), hold it in your hand. If it doesn’t fit it is too big.

When should I be eating? Every 2-3 hours. If you get up at and eat breakfast at 8AM, your next meal should be around 10:30AM, which puts lunch at 1PM, snack around 3:30PM, dinner at 6PM, and your final snack at 8:30PM.

What should I have to drink? Here is what you should NOT have to drink: any type of soda (diet or otherwise), fruit drinks, flavored ice teas, mocha-frappa-latte crap from Starbucks. All of these drinks are packed with sugar, mostly artificial and wreak havoc on your insides. They also mess with your taste buds, causing you to crave them more (have you ever seen someone addicted to Diet Coke? Not pretty). Stick to water, coffee, tea (from a tea bag), skim milk. If you think you will die from not having a Diet Coke, you won’t. Toughin’ up.

What about alcohol? I would NEVER suggest that we get rid of alcohol from your diet. Just like anything, moderation is key. Understand that alcohol is empty calories (but on some days, needed calories). Instead of having a bottle of wine with dinner tonight, just have a glass. Instead of having a drink every day, only have one a few times a week. You decide what you are comfortable with. Unless you drink excessively, cutting alcohol out of your diet is not going to make a huge difference.

Finally, can I bend the rules? That depends on what you want to get out of this. If you are looking to lose weight then no, not in the beginning. Why? Because you owe it to yourself to try something different without wanting to change it. You might just find that it changes how you view food and the way you look at eating. Remember, this is a way of living your life, not a short-term fix for losing weight. There is no end when it comes to eating properly. In six months, you can’t just go back to slugging Diet Coke and eating TV dinners. But I promise you, if you treat your body well, you will never want to treat it poorly again. If you are looking to live a healthier lifestyle, but don’t care about losing weight, you will have to decide how strict you follow the rules.

Okay… this is a lot of information. If you have questions, post them on the blog. I will answer them. One question you are probably wondering… do I follow the rules? Yes… most of the time. Like I said in my first blog, I live down the street from a Dairy Queen...

And remember this, losing weight is 80% the food you intake, 20% the exercise you do. Start with what you put into your body and then we can work on the rest.

Let's get started!

Okay ladies, it’s time to cut the crap. Do you have a pair of fat jeans sitting in your closet for those times in life when you put on a few extra pounds? Maybe you are wearing them right now? Do you poop only two times a week? Eat only two meals a day thinking that is what keeps you thin? Want to work out but don’t have the time? I have a proposition for you: Let’s change your life. Read what I have to say, learn about your body and the food you put into it, stop looking for short term solutions to lifetime health. Start your new life today… or tomorrow, if you need a day to think about it.

I know what you are thinking, “Why are you an authority on health?” and you are right to question me. I am not a trained professional. I have never worked in a gym and I don’t have a degree in nutrition. Maybe one day, but not today. I am a stay-at-home mom who wants to share with women what has worked for me, my friends, and can work for you, too. Also, I am not perfect. I have cellulite and upper arm fat I wish would just melt away. I also live two doors down from Dairy Queen (I could eat a chocolate peanut butter cup blizzard everyday). But that is my point. Let’s not try to be perfect, let’s try to be healthy. After successfully not owning a pair of fat pants for five years and training three of my friends (one who lost 20 pounds in less than 2 months and another who lost 12 pounds in one week) friends have prompted me to start this blog. (To be honest, I love doing this stuff! Helping my friends to see the potential in themselves gives me so much joy.)

A little background: When I started dating Kyle (my now husband) five years ago, I was living in New York City. I weighed 130 pounds (I am 5’3’’) and I thought I was healthy. I fit in most of my pants, I ran occasionally, and I ate healthy things. Even though I thought I was healthy, I thought about my weight all the time. This stemmed from years of yo-yoing weight (hello, college). I was a chronic binge working outer. When I noticed that I gained weight, I would work out like a maniac (come on ladies, admit it, you have done it too). I would also give my body as little nourishment as possible, 3 small meals a day. And voila! In a few weeks/months, the weight would be off and I would feel great again. I would stop working out as much (because my body needed a break, I would tell myself), eat more (because I had been slightly starving myself for months) and fast forward 6 months, the weight would be back on. Maybe not all of it, but some at least.
Five year ago, I had a conversation with Kyle that changed my life. It went as follows:
Kyle: What did you eat for breakfast today?

Bekah: Coffee

Kyle: You can’t eat coffee

Bekah: I don’t eat breakfast.

Kyle: What did you eat for lunch?

Bekah: A sandwich.

Kyle: Dinner?

Bekah: A salad (honestly, it was a taco salad, so it wasn’t the healthiest)

Kyle: You need to eat more.

Bekah: No I don’t. If I eat more, I will gain weight and I don’t want to gain weight.

Kyle: That is not how the body works.

Bekah: That is how my body works.

Kyle: No, that is how you have trained your body to work.

From that moment forward, I had to change how I looked at food and my body. The body I was living in was “skinny-fat”. I needed to be healthy, not thin. Once I got healthy, I found my “body weight” (I call it that because it is different for every person. Just because we are the same height doesn’t mean we should weight the same thing). Once I loved what I was putting into my body and what I was burning on a treadmill, I stopped worrying about bouncing back to a weight I had been years before. It is the most liberating experience of my life. I left all my weight baggage behind and started new.

Fast forward five years, I haven’t yo-yoed once. After I got healthy, I lost 10 pounds (without trying, my body just adjusted to that weight) and I haven’t stopped working out in five years. And yes, I love it. I could run circles around a younger version of myself. Even now as I sit here typing this at nine months pregnant (I am due on April 15), I am dripping with sweat from a 3 mile run I just did while my daughter is napping.

So what does this have to do with you? Maybe nothing. Maybe you know all the information I am going to give out in this blog, but if you want to feel healthier and in return look better, I might just be the person to help you out. So check out what I have to say, it couldn’t hurt… well not until you wake up after your first day of interval training, but more about that later.

In this blog, I will tell you what to eat, how to eat, when to eat, and why you are doing it. Once you understand the physical nature of your body, you can understand why it is important to put certain things into it. I will also tell you how to work out and why your sorry excuses for not making it to a gym are exactly that… sorry. Lastly, I want to incorporate an element of wellness and lifestyle. Any information I come across that I think might be of service, I will pass it on. I want your input, too! If you are having a hard time, need motivation, or just have a delicious healthy recipe don’t hesitate to share.

So let’s cut the crap out of your diet. Let’s get real about food, body image, and what it really means to be healthy. Let’s start a new lifestyle today. Okay, the sweat from my run is officially starting to smell and Drew should be waking up soon. The next installment will be information to get you started. I am excited! I hope you are, too.