Thursday, January 30, 2014

Diet Tip #21: Make Sure You Eat Enough to Lose Weight

If eating less helps you lose weight, then eating a LOT less will help you lose weight faster, right?
Don't starve in anticipation of a big meal
Not so fast.

When your body doesn't get enough quality nutrition, it switches into starvation and conservation mode.  Meaning, it slows down your metabolism so that when you do eat, your body will burn the calories at a slower pace.  This helps you conserve what energy your body does have.

Additionally, if you are eating next to nothing the likelihood of you bingeing and blowing it all is high.

We've been there haven't we?  We're going out to a big dinner and we decide to eat next to nothing during the day.  Yet when we get to dinner, we devour the bread basket or chips and salsa and make bad food choices.  We end up eating way too much and feeling guilty about it afterwards.  This, in turn, makes the experience unpleasant.

Now, we've all seen the skinny folks who starve themselves.  That's borderline eating disorder and a completely different issue.

I'm focusing on consuming adequate amounts of quality foods, to help you be as healthy as you can be and maintain a good weight that's right for your body.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Diet Tip #20: Check for Sneaky Sugar

Tuesday we focused on snack swaps you can make when you're craving sugar.  Today let's be more proactive.

Sugar can be the devil.  It's a devil I love and battle every day.  Excessive sugar can damage your heart, cause diabetes and much more.  It's not like one cookie killed anyone.  Moderate indulgences are fine but it's hard to be moderate when it comes to the white stuff.

That legal crack is everywhere.

If you start checking nutrition labels you will be shocked when you learn about the amount of sugar in some of your favorite foods that you thought were naturally sugar free.

In fact, among the changes the FDA recently suggested the White House make regarding food labels was to address added sugar.  Most food labels only list "Sugar" which is a combination of added and natural sugars.  One proposed change is that the amount of added sugar be clearly labelled. This will help you determine how much sugar comes from a natural source and how much is added.

Still, it's good to check for what I like to call "sneaky sugars".

Any time you see a word ending in -"ose" that's added sugar.  Dextrose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, glucose?  All forms of sugar.  Beware of other forms such as cane syrup, cane juice, corn syrup, malt syrup, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate or brown sugar.

Then there are foods you wouldn't think have much sugar but do:
Fat-free salad dressings, crackers, bread, spaghetti sauce, instant oatmeal (a sugar BOMB), yogurt (another bomb), frozen dinners, cereals, ketchup and barbecue sauce.

Look at these two examples from my cupboard:


On the left is a box of All Bran cereal while on the right is a box of Back to Nature Crispy Wheat crackers, two things you generally wouldn't consider "sweet" food items.  The cereal has six grams of sugar per serving while the crackers have four. 


This barbecue sauce has nine grams of sugar per serving. 

How much should sugar you consume? 
The American Heart Association recommends nine teaspoons for men and six for women per day.  You can blow your wad in a regular 12-ounce soda when you realize it has 10 teaspoons of sugar.  

The thing is, sugar is listed in grams on most nutrition labels.  A gram and teaspoon are two different units of measurement.  A gram measures mass (aka weight) while a teaspoon measures volume.

How do you know how much you're consuming?  In general, there are about four grams of sugar per teaspoon. 

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon 

The Takeaway
Again, moderate consumption of any of these items won't hurt you.  It's the cumulative effect and overindulgence that does damage.  Just be mindful of your overall sugar consumption each day.

I'll be fighting that battle against the White Devil right along with you.

Follow on Bloglovin
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Diet Tip #19: 5 Ways To Indulge Your Sweet Tooth Without Blowing Your Diet

Sugar is my kryptonite.  I could incorporate a pound of Swedish Fish, a bag of Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups and a half dozen oatmeal raisin cookies into my daily diet and not blink an eye.

REESE'S PBC Miniatures Heart Box
I think I love these more than my husband
I ate a sugar-laden diet when I was fat.  Diabetes also runs in my family.  I make a concerted effort to avoid the white stuff and it has paid off.

The thing is you can eat foods that will satisfy your sweet tooth without damaging your waistline or blood sugar.  Here are five simple swaps to make when you are dying for something sweet:

A couple squares of quality, dark chocolate.  The complex flavors of a good dark chocolate really does calm that "I NEED SUGAR" noise that can start screaming about 3:30pm when you're at your desk.  Opt for a chocolate that is at least 60% cocoa.

Vosges dark chocolate bar
Vosges Black Salt Caramel Exotic Dark Chocolate Bar
I love Vosges Black Salt Caramel Exotic Chocolate Bar or Vosges Pomegranate Goji Dark Chocolate Bar (this one has a super fruit bonus!).  Dark chocolate also has numerous health benefits.  It's a great food to incorporate into your diet.

Apple with peanut butter or almond butter.  This is really does quiet that sweet tooth.  Add a few raisins if you need something even sweeter.

A few breath mints.  I like Lifesavers Mints.  These take a while to finish and can help you get through that screaming craving.

Dried apricots with walnuts.  Keep the serving size in check because these can become a calorie bomb if you eat too many.  Think five and five: five apricots and five walnut halves.  This is approximately 165 calories.

thinkThin Caramel Fudge Bar
A nutrition bar that has under 250 calories.  A tasty nutrition bar can completely quiet your candy bar craving.  I like thinkThin bars which are under 200 calories.  I LOVE their dark chocolate coconut bar...read my review here.  Clif MOJO bars are great and also under 200 calories.  They offer a delicious sweet and salty mix.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Diet Tip #18: Brush Your Teeth

If you're fighting a craving, brush your teeth.  Doing this signals your brain that you won't be eating for a while.   Brushing your teeth also gives you that minty fresh breath, something that doesn't mix with chips, candy or whatever it is you might be craving.

sonicare tooth brush
Brush those teeth to fight cravings!
I am a nighttime eater.  This trick has worked for me time and again to help fight those evening urges.

Not only does this diet tip give you fresh breath and improve your oral hygiene, it might also help you lose weight.

Try it just once and see how it works.
Friday, January 24, 2014

Diet Tip #17: Check Calorie Counts When Dining Out

Starbucks cranberry orange scone
Starbucks Cranberry Orange Scone/Courtesy Starbucks.com
This falls under the category of things you don't want to know but should.  Be proactive about learning more about the calorie counts of food items at your favorite dining establishments.  It might make you rethink your food choices.

When I found out my favorite Starbucks cranberry-orange scone had 490 empty calories and 34 grams of sugar I almost choked on my latte.

Confession of a Fitness Fashion Victim

Do you worry about how you look when you work out?  I don't.  You don't either, right?

Turns out, we're in the minority.  Many women equate the yoga studio or pilates class as a bamboo-covered runway to show off their latest workout fashion finds.


Don't believe me?  The popularity of Lululemon and Nike activewear is so lucrative that other fashion designers are getting into fashion/fitness game.  Tory Burch wants to do a golf line while H&M is launching its H&M Sport line.

I realized I was the fitness fashion victim during a yoga class at exhale recently.  I was wearing tattered, 7-year old leggings from Target and an old Texas Rangers t-shirt I had scored during a Rangers/Astros series in 2012. Frankly, working in sports I score so many free t-shirts that I didn't buy workout clothes.

The offensive T-shirt
That is changing.  During this particular class, I felt like I was wearing a plaid shirt and Doc Martens amidst couture clad yogis.

I always equated workout wear as an unnecessary expense, thinking my shorts and t-shirts would do just fine.  I'm wrong.  There is also some functionality to activewear.  Shirts with a banded waist won't ride up and expose my stomach while I'm trying to do a headstand.  Longer pants can help with crow pose to keep sweaty legs from slipping on my forearms.

After doing some legwork, I found adorable and affordable activewear options:

C9 by Champion women's mesh cami tank
C9 by Champion Women's Mesh Cami Tank
I bought this cami tank top at Target and LOVE it.  It doesn't expose my stomach when I am doing crazy yoga poses and the built-in bra is pretty supportive.  Double bonus?  It's only $18.39! 

C9 by Champion Reversible Capri Tight
C9 by Champion Reversible Capri Tight
C9 by Champion offers some adorable tights that are reversible.  It's like two pairs of leggings in one.

Nike Principle 2.0 Dry-fit Jacket
Nike Principle 2.0 Dry-Fit Jacket
Over the years, I have accumulated a nice collection of Nike jackets.  These have a fashionable slim fit and do a good job of keeping you warm.  I have had this pink one going on five years.  It has withstood numerous long runs AND bad t-shirts.  At $58.50, it's a worthwhile investment.

AND you can support a team you love while working out or running around town and look fashionable in the process.  Look at what I found:

Texas Rangers workout hoodie




Dallas Cowboys Fleece Shorts 

I'm still on the hunt for cute Stars & Mavs workout gear.  If you find some, please let me know! 
Thursday, January 23, 2014

Diet Tip #16: Learn How Many Calories You Should Be Eating Daily

Even if you hate math and numbers you should have a decent working knowledge of calories and how many calories you should be eating.  It's not that hard.  There are calculators galore to help you.

What is a calorie?
A calorie, technically, is 4.18400 joules, you could round it up to 4.19.  In English?  It's the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius.
As it relates to nutrition, calories refer to energy consumption through eating and drinking and energy usage through physical activity.  Think of it as the amount of energy you get from eating something.

Different types of food have different calorie counts:

  • Fats have nine calories per gram 
  • Carbohydrates and proteins have four calories per gram 
  • Alcohol has seven calories per gram

How many calories should you be eating daily? 
This is different for every person.  It's important to know how many you need so you can plan your eating strategy for the day and week.

Determining how many you need can be a complex formula but there are calculators to help you do it.   Woo-Hoo! Try this one.  It's easy.

For me, I need about 2200 calories per day to maintain my weight.  If you want to lose weight, enter your desired weight in the weight category.  So, if I wanted to lose 10 pounds, I would need about 2100 calories a day to do that.  That's not a big difference.

If I wanted to drop 1-2 pounds per week, I would reduce my calorie consumption by about 500 calories per day.

See?  Easy math!
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Party Prices: Be Ready to Pay to Play

We have heard how high the going rates are for hotel rooms in the New York City area for individuals interested in watching the Seahawks and Broncos play in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The late Deacon Jones & I at a Super Bowl XLV party
Let me let you in on a little Super Bowl secret: the game is almost secondary to the parties, people-watching and playin', if you know what I mean.

I received an offer to purchase tickets to some Super Bowl XLVIII parties recently and almost gagged at the sticker shock.

ESPN's NEXT Party
Want to party with ESPN celebs and professional athletes along with the women and men who love to jocksniff them?

Then the ESPN The Magazine's NEXT Party on Friday, January 31st might be for you.

Here's the invitation:
Join top athletes and celebrities for the VIP-only launch of ESPN The Magazine's NEXT issue, showcasing an elite group of emerging athletes to watch in 2014. If you prefer mingling with some of the most fashionable models and stars, check out the hottest party of the weekend, hosted by Maxim magazine. Featuring headline performances and DJs at both events, it all adds up to an unforgettable weekend!

Tickets to this bash at Basketball City on the Lower East Side are $1,100 per person and include "host bar, hors d'oeuvres, live music and a headliner performance". 

The Maxim Magazine Party 
What would a sporting event be with a Maxim Magazine party?  On February 1st, partygoers can mix and mingle with some of the hottest d-bags in the city.  Okay, that's a little harsh but....it's true.

To hang with a Maxim girl it will cost you a bit more than an ESPN celeb.  Tickets to the Central Park party are $1,200 per person and include "host bar, hors d'oeuvres, live music and a headliner performance". 

Both of those descriptions are pretty generic-sounding, aren't they? 

Understandably prices are higher in the NYC area for everything.  I get that.  Still, would you pay that much for a Super Bowl party?  Have you? 

Diet Tip #15: Replace Flour with Oatmeal for Baking

You don't have to give up your favorite baked goods when you're trying to clean up your diet.  Homemade versions of your favorite treats can be a nice indulgence for you and the family.

This is a simple diet swap that takes a bit of extra effort but is worth it.

Courtesy Quaker Oats
If you're baking something replace all-purpose white flour with oat flour.  How do you get oat flour?  You can buy it or do my DIY method: simply grind oats in a food processor.  Once they get to a flour-like consistency, you're good to go.

Why is oat flour appealing?  It provides twice the fiber but fewer calories than the white stuff.

You can use oat flower for baking cookies, quick breads and pancakes.

I have used oat flour to make Bethenny Frankel's Boo Boo Banana Bread.  It's delicious.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Diet Tip #14: Go Green One Night a Week with 7 Easy Veggie Dinner Ideas

Or red or purple or orange, whatever color floats your boat.

One night a week have a vegetable-based dinner.  That's it!  It's so much easier and more delicious than you think.

We know we need to eat more vegetables but we don't do it.  This gets you in the habit.

Stumped on what to make?  Here are some ideas:
  • Spaghetti squash with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil.
  • A veggie-based soup - I love my kale, lentil & sweet potato.
  • A mish-mash of steamed vegetables - broccoli, sweet potato, cauliflower, brussel sprouts....you get the idea.  Top with any seasoning you like. 
  • A huge veggie salad - use a dark lettuce and go wild creating a big vegetable mix featuring onions, tomatoes, avocado, carrots, celery, beets, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, whatever rocks your veggie world.
  • Steamed cauliflower with mustard - I could eat this as a meal almost every day.
  • Deep dish polenta pizza, recipe courtesy of Cooking Light. 
  • Eggplant Mexicano, recipe courtesy of Readers' Digest. 

Diet Tip #13: Nix the Artificial Sweetener

You might think you're doing yourself a favor using artificial sweeteners to make your favorite beverages sweeter. You're not.  Not only are you ingesting fake crap, you might also be making yourself fatter.


Studies show that artificial sweeteners stimulate your appetite and can increase your cravings for carbs.

So what can you do?  Nix the fake sweet stuff.  Don't replace it with sugar just nix it.  Have your coffee or tea without sweetener.  Novel concept, right?

I pitched this idea to a friend looking to lose weight and she asked "But how can I sweeten my drinks?"

My advice?  Let your appetite mature.  We're no longer children.  We don't need sweet drinks, sweet tea, sweet juices or sweet coffee all the time.  Once in a blue moon?  Fine.  Every day.  No.


Once your taste buds get accustomed to coffee with milk or naturally brewed tea without sweetener, fake or real, you will cringe at the taste of the pink, blue or even the yellow stuff.

You won't miss it all.  Promise.
Friday, January 17, 2014

Diet Tip #12: Don't Diet to Lose Weight


the Mediterranean Diet, Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid/Courtesy OldwaysSpt.org
If you're looking for an overall approach to eating, try the Mediterranean Diet.  It's so easy to adopt and a realistic way to eat, not diet, for a lifetime.

To succeed at losing weight, don't diet. 

What does this mean?  First and foremost, studies show that if you do radical changes to lose weight in a short period of time, you're probably going to fail.

Instead, adopt a different approach to eating.  Simple as that.  A quick change will not result in longterm weight loss.  Focus on making smart food decisions that your grandmother told you to do:
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits
  • Limit the amount of sugar and processed foods you consume 
  • If you can't pronounce, don't eat it
  • Don't drink your calories water and herbal tea are your friends
This is all easy to do.  You can still enjoy your favorite indulgences (cheese fries, pizza, hamburgers) once or twice a week, not once or twice a day. 
Thursday, January 16, 2014

Diet Tip #11: Eat Vegetables as Snacks

For some reason, I was starving at 10am today.  Maybe because I didn't have much dinner Wednesday night but even after a substantial 7am breakfast my stomach was growling only three hours later.

It's easy to fall into the trap of a carbohydrate rich snack.  Vending machines offer them and they're more convenient to grab and go.  I love crackers as much as the next person but they're not a good diet staple.

We also know that our diets need to include more vegetables and fruits.  Snacking is a perfect time to incorporate them into your diet.  Vegetables might take a few more minutes to prepare but the payoff is worth it.

Here are some easy snack ideas to satisfy your appetite AND get more vegetables into your diet:
Edamame
  • Edamame - okay it's a soybean but it's green....and not crackers.  It's actually what I had for a snack today at 10am. 
  • Baby carrots with hummus 
  • Red bell peppers and hummus - a perfect snack match 
  • Raw cucumber slices - don't knock these until you try them, they're delicious.  You could eat the cucumber whole.  Be prepared to be the butt of a few jokes, though. 
  • Celery with any type of dip or topping - salsa, greek yogurt with spices or topped with peanut butter and raisins (LOVE ants on a log) 
  • Raw or lightly steamed broccoli with salsa - another one of my favorite snacks
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Diet Tip #10: Use Your Non-Dominant Hand

This simple diet trick is along the lines of putting your fork down between bites and is just as effective.


What is it?

Use your non-dominant hand when you eat.  If you're right-handed use your left hand and vice versa.  It's much harder than you would think.

Using your non-dominant hand forces you to eat more slowly, something which is proven to help you lose weight.  A study by TCU determined that those who eat slowly consume 88 fewer calories than speed eaters.  That's not a ton per meal but over time....there's a theme here....it adds up.

The Takeaway
Use your non-dominant hand while you're eating and while you're at it, put down your fork between bites.  This won't take away from the enjoyment of the meal.  On the contrary, eating slowly will likely enhance the experience.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diet Tip #9: The 2-Bite Rule in Restaurants

Are you a member of the clean plate club?  I was for years.  At dinner my parents consistently told me to clean my plate, regardless of my hunger level.
ALESSI Plates KITCHEN Plate Porcelain
Don't leave your plates empty
Sure, there was some "eat your vegetables" thinking in that directive but so many of us were told to finish everything on our plates as children.  That thinking has subconsciously carried over into adulthood and we now feel compelled to eat everything put in front of us.  At least I do.

Today's diet tip: when you go out to eat, leave at least two bites of your restaurant entree on your plate.  That's it. Most restaurant portions are too big to start.  You could really get away with asking them to bag half of your dish at the beginning of meal, that IS if you're ordering an entree. You know I am a fan of ordering two appetizers in restaurants.

Leave a few bites, better yet take half of this home
Anyway, if you order a big entree leave two bites on the plates.  It's just a few calories but it adds up over time. And remember: put down that fork between bites.

All of these tactics are incredibly effective.
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Is Your Salad Making You Fat?

salads, salad calories, fattening calories

We have the best intentions when we make a salad or order one in a restaurant. We think we're being virtuous ordering those greens with a bit of cheese and a few croutons.  How about some bacon bits and ranch dressing? Before you know it you have a salad on your plate that has more calories and saturated fat than a hamburger.

You can get fat eating salads. Really. If you add creamy salad dressing, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, croutons and bacon bits, you're adding hundred, if not thousand, of calories. Dr. Oz warns us of the fat salad, too, claiming that some women get half their daily calories from salad dressing.  Salad dressing = the emptiest of calories.

Okay, so how do you avoid the fat salad? Simple. Don't use that nasty salad dressing from a bottle or the fattening dressings they offer in restaurants. When I was fat, I lived on fat-free salad dressing.

Use salsa, balsamic vinegar or olive oil with a bit of salt and lemon as your dressing. Simple as that. (Tweet this).

Other Things to Nix
While we're at it, forgo the croutons and bacon. They are both empty calories. And if you're going to have cheese, have a flavorful one so that you need less of it. No cheddar or Monterey Jack. Have some feta, blue cheese or goat cheese. These all add a lot of flavor without a lot of calories.

Feta cheese
The Takeaway
  • Don't eat bottled or restaurant salad dressing. Use salsa, vinegar (I love balsamic) or olive oiul & lemon. 
  • Nix the croutons, bacon bits and bland cheese. 
  • Opt for flavorful cheese, if you must have it, like feta, blue cheese or goat cheese. Just a bit to add some complexity.  
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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Diet Tip #7: Use a Smaller Plate to Lose Weight

This diet tip is easy and effective.  Simply use a smaller plate.  That's it.

Instead of the huge 12-inch plate, use a 10-inch one.  Go even smaller and try an 8-inch one.  It's still a substantial size and it gives you the impression of a plate full of food.  It also limits the amount of food you can put on your plate.
Ten Strawberry Street Athens Gold - Charger Plate

There's science behind this.  According to the Small Plate Movement (yes, there is one), switching to a 10" plate from a 12" one can result in 22% fewer calories being served.  Do the math.  The Small Plate Movement says, "if a typical dinner has 800 calories, a smaller plate would lead to a weight loss of around 18 pounds per year for an average size adult."

Small steps can yield big results.

In Action 
This simple diet tip worked for me this past Thanksgiving.  I was at the Cowboys game and looking forward to their menu.  The Thanksgiving Day spread is normally fabulous.

This year, I was ready to eat.  Only problem, which turned out to be a good thing, was that there were only small plates.  Think appetizer-sized.

I piled my tiny plate with salad, sweet potato casserole, truffle mac & cheese, cranberry sauce and stuffing.  (The turkey wasn't so hot this year).  The plate was piled high with food just millimeters away from falling off of it.

I fully anticipated going back for seconds but strangely enough, I didn't.  The thing is, I didn't eat that much food.  It was a normal amount and I felt satiated.

Don't know why.  Maybe it was, in part, a mental thing in that I had already consumed a full plate, even though that full plate was smaller.  Whatever it was this trick worked.

The nice bonus?  This was the first Thanksgiving Day in years that I didn't walk away stuffed to the gills.  It was a nice, normal meal.

Exhale Spa's Core Fusion Cardio Barre Class Review

How many calories burned in core fusion class
exhale spa co-founder Elisabeth Halfpapp, center

What is Core Fusion Cardio Barre? 

Exhale core fusion cardio barre review,
The cardio portion of Core Fusion Cardio Barre

It is a one-hour strengthening and fat-burning class that sculpts your muscles and gets your heart rate up. It was created for the busy person who wants to get a full body toning and cardiovascular workout simultaneously.

The class begins with 30 minutes of exhale's signature plank runs and other heart-pumping moves followed by a short recovery period.  After the cardio session comes full-body toning moves with light weights, as well as your own body weight.  The toning portion incorporates yoga moves and has dance influences.

Friends, it's a workout.  There were moments during the hour-long class that my legs were shaking, my heart was racing and I was praying for strength.  Those are all good things, though.   It has helped me rediscover tiny muscles I didn't know I had.  The feeling you get from working those minuscule muscles is uniquely different than lifting heavy weights.  It's an overall sense of having worked, in a good way.

The class ends with a solid stretch, something many of us sacrifice for the sake of time.

"The really important part is stretching at the end," exhale co-founder Elisabeth Halfpapp told me.  "We work really intense and we want to have the strength and flexibility component as well as the cardio and strengthening."

What's the Burn Factor? 
I know a lot of us are about the numbers.  How many calories do we torch in this class?

"We had Self magazine track the burn for us," Halfpapp told me after I took her class in December.  "On average it's 375 calories per hour, give a little bit, depending on body weight and your BMI (body mass index)."   

"What's amazing is that you're not only burning calories in class but because we're gaining muscle density, it (muscle density) needs more calories to function and you're burning more calories at rest." 

The Takeaway 
Cardio Fusion Cardio Barre is a challenge.  While I was completely spent after the class, I wasn't terribly sore the next day.  This class can transform your physique using your own body weight or lighter hand weights which can result in that lean, sinewy look.  Do it consistently and certain body parts will get that desired "lift"...no scalpel needed.

 

*Classes were offered on a complimentary basis for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own and based on my experience. For more information, please visit exhalespa.com.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Diet Tip #6: Wear Tight Clothing to Eat Less

Selma's A Basket Full of Cookies
Are you someone who doesn't have an "off switch" when it comes to food?  I am.  I could eat an entire head of broccoli dipped in queso (weird, I know), a jumbo bag of Lay's original potato chips or a basket of gourmet cookies in one sitting.  I am a recovering fat girl and could easily be one again if I wasn't vigilant about making quality food choices.

One of the most effective tips I've ever used when trying to eat less and engage that "off switch" is to wear tight clothing.

Stick with me.

I am not talking hoochie clothes.  I am referring to clothing that has a waistband or certain rigidity to it so that it will be constricting if you overindulge in food.

When you wear stretchy pants, flowing moo-moos or other loose-fitting clothing your waistline can expand if you eat too much.  There's a reason you see people in sweatpants at the all-you-can-eat buffets.

The Takeaway
SPANX High Power Shaping Brief
SPANX High Power Shaping Brief
If you're in situation in which you will be presented with copious amounts of food, try tightening up.  Wear form-fitting pants, a slim-cut jacket, an a-line skirt or your SPANX.  You won't be comfortable eating a lot and you'll feel better about yourself for not doing so.

This tip works. Try it.

 
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Diet Tip #5: Lose Weight by Eating A Good Breakfast

Green smoothie
I know we start the day with the best intentions, then happy hour rolls around and we've had two margaritas, a bowl of queso and a taco.  Or at least I have.

So if we wake up with good intentions to eat healthfully throughout the course of the day, take advantage of it and eat a quality breakfast.  Study after study shows that eating a well-balanced breakfast starts your day on the right note, helps you concentrate better and gives you more energy.  Breakfast doesn't have to be a huge ordeal.  Just make it a nutrient-filled offering that honors your intentions.

The finished product!
When I was fat, I avoided breakfast, thinking I would "save calories".  I would wind up hungry and binge later in the day.  Every now and then I'll skip breakfast but most days, I get in a green smoothie.  If I'm hungrier, I'll eat something more substantial.

My green smoothie features almond milk, a banana, spinach or kale, dark berries and chia seeds or flax seeds.  If all else fails the rest of the day and I eat nothing but cheese fries, I know that I will have at least consumed some healthy vegetables and fruit to get the day going.

Other quick & easy breakfast recipes: 
  • Quick oatmeal (NOT sugar-laden instant) with a variety of toppings - apples, berries, banana, dried apricots, etc.  Top with some peanut butter and cinnamon.  Delicious. 
  • veggie and egg white omelet with a side of berries - again, takes all of five minutes to prepare. 
  • Hard boiled eggs with salsa - don't knock it till you've tried it.  Hard boiled eggs are an easy make-ahead item. 
  • A high-fiber cereal with some berries or a banana - a 2005 Harvard Health study indicated that high fiber cereals can help men reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, stroke, intestinal polyps and colon caner.  Look for a cereal with at least six grams of fiber per serving and is low in sugar.  Fiber One and All Bran are solid choices.  (A friend of mine calls these "colon blow"...that's another story) 
Personally, I tend to binge on cereal and am rarely satiated by it.  For some, it works.  Me?  Not so much.

Eating on the run?  Here are four breakfast options:
The Takeaway
Get that good food in your stomach first thing on most mornings.  Your body (and waistline) will thank you later in the day. 


Daily Diet Tip #4: How High-Volume Foods Help You Lose Weight

To drop pounds, pump up the volume.  Not the volume of your music but the volume of your food.  Think fiber and water.

Fiber is your best diet friend.  It is bulkier and makes you feel full on less food.  Foods with a high water content offer the same benefit.

Wonderful Watermelon/Courtesy Watermelon.org
A cup of watermelon has 46 calories, according to TheDailyPlate.  One big, oatmeal cookie from, say, Starbucks (which I love) has 220 calories.  The watermelon is also a better choice from a nutritional standpoint versus the cookie which offers little nutritional value.  I usually can't stop at a cup, so have two cups for dessert.  That's still less than 100 calories and after two to three cups of a watermelon, you're probably pretty full.  One cookie?  It's not all that satiating.

starbucks oatmeal cookie
The Starbucks Oatmeal Cookie/Courtesy Starbucks
The watermelon for cookie is an easy swap.  What else can you do?

Fill up on a big bowl of broth-based soup as an appetizer, go light on the cheese, breaded items, etc.  Too hot for soup?  Go for a veggie-laden salad.  Again, nix the croutons, heavy cheese, bacon bits and creamy dressings.

The Science
There is data behind this.  According to Women's Health Magazine, a study at Penn State University examined obese women who ate foods with a higher fiber and water content.  Those women lost 40% more weight than women who simply controlled their portion size and cut back on fat.

In another Penn State study, women ate the same weight of food over a 2-day period.  The women who ate the high-fiber foods on the second day took in 30% fewer calories but did NOT feel hungrier or less full.

The Takeaway
Think about it.  When you eat soup before dinner, you get full faster.  It's a simple matter of volume.

Here is a great list of high-volume foods (aka high-fiber, low-calorie) from the American College of Healthcare Sciences.  Definitely worth your time.

And The Best Diet Award Goes To......

The DASH Diet, according to U.S. News & World Report.

How the DASH Diet works
Courtesy NLHBI
In its fourth annual Best Diet rankings, U.S. News & World Report says the DASH Diet is a dashing success because it's healthy and helps prevent diabetes and heart disease.  Experts deemed Weight Watchers the best diet for weight loss and determined it's the easiest to follow as well as the best among all the "commercial plans".

A delicious Mediterranean Diet meal
The Mediterranean Diet, my personal favorite, earned top honors among Plant-Based Diets and tied for third overall behind DASH and TLC Diet

As for the most-Googled diet of 2013, the Paleo Diet?  It tied for last place with the Dukan Diet, the popular program offered by French doctor Pierre Dukan.  

What exactly is the DASH Diet? 
A day on DASH
Courtesy NHLBI
The goal of this plan is to lower blood pressure.  Based on the foods you consume, a nice side effect is weight loss.  The plan is lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat.  

Here is a 64-page FREE PDF that explains the diet in-depth, offers an extensive meal plan and recipes by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute which helped develop the DASH Diet.   

In general you would eat the following: 

  • Fruits, vegetables as well as fat-free or low-fat dairy products. 
  • Whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts. 
  • Little sweets, added sugars, sugary beverages and red meat. 
The DASH Diet Takeaway
It's a logical, plant-heavy eating plan that has you eating foods you know you're supposed to consume.  There's no secret.  It's good, solid common "eating" sense.  
Monday, January 6, 2014

Daily Diet Tip #3: Eat Dessert, Just Not All of It

Neiman Marcus Red Velvet Rose Cake,
Neiman Marcus Red Velvet Rose Cake

This is one of those "well, duh" diet tips but it's one we tend to follow in theory, rather than at the table.

Go ahead and eat the rich, decadent dessert but don't eat all of it.  Eat only three bites.  You don't need every last bite of the key lime pie, chocolate cherry bundt cake or (in my case) Baklava Ice Cream Cake from Ziziki's.

This is how it works:
  1. Order dessert or, if you're at home, put it on the table.  Make the presentation nice.  
  2. Take a normal-size bite. 
  3. Put down your fork.  Remember that one? 
  4. Slowly savor your dessert. 
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 5 two more times.
  6. After your third bite, put down the fork for good and push away the plate.
  7. Enjoy what you just had and be proud of the fact you didn't gorge.
 Studies show that the first and last bites are the most rewarding. 

That's it!  It works.  Try it the next time you go out to eat or make dessert at home.  It's a truly effective method to lose weight or maintain your hard-earned weight loss.
Friday, January 3, 2014

Try This Trick When Dining Out Diet to Help You Lose Weight


Heading to a nice dinner this weekend to continue your New Year's celebration?  You can still maintain your 2014 weight loss resolution and enjoy your evening out with this simple tip that has helped me drop more than 50 pounds and keep it off for more than a decade.

What is it?  When it comes to ordering your food, think two....appetizers that is.  Order an appetizer, salad, soup or side as your, well, appetizer and another appetizer as your entree.

We know that restaurant portions are way too big.  Appetizer portions are just about right and, many times, more interesting than entree offerings.  If your dining companion is eating a full entree with side items, have a bite or two.  It's much more fun to share AND you won't miss the extra calories of a full portion.

Here are some real world examples:

Al Biernat's Menu
Al Biernat's is one of my favorite splurge spots.  When I was pregnant, I ate an entire order of their fabulous macaroni & cheese AND au gratín potatoes.  In one sitting.  Yep.  It was heaven.  I digress.  They have a diverse starter and salad menu.  Here are a few "healthier dinner" options:

  • Mozzarella, Amelia's Farm Tomato, Avocado, Basil, Balsamic Demi salad to start followed by Steamed P.E.I. Mussels & Littleneck Clams in White Wine (my personal favorite)
  • Soup of the Day followed by Teriyaki Marinated Natural Texas Quail, Roasted Mushrooms & Pickled Ginger
  • Baked Goat Cheese, Portabella Mushrooms & Sweet Garlic with Al's Salad (another favorite).  
I employ this approach consistently at Al Biernat's and am always satisfied.  Al's is wonderful but not something we can afford to do every week. 

Let's look at a place like Hillstone (which I still call Houston's).   I actually order two side items every time I visit: the kale salad along with black beans and rice.  It's one of my favorite meals and, at $12, is a substantial and healthy option.  Here are some others: 

  • Focaccia bread plate followed by the Grilled Artichoke. 
  • Couscous and seasonal vegetables, ordered together.     
Craving Italian?  Maggiano's Little Italy, anyone?  They have a ton of great options: 

Courtesy Maggiano's Little Italy
  • You could start with one of their side items like that Asparagus, Spinach or Broccolini (ask them to go light on the oil) and have the side order of Angel Hair Aglio Olio as an entree
  • Tuscan Chicken Sausage & Orzo Soup followed by the Tomato Caprese salad.
  • Bruschetta followed by the Jumbo Lump Crabcakes
  • Start with Stuffed Mushrooms and have the Chicken & Roasted Pepper Flatbread
These are just examples.  You get the idea.  Try this approach once or twice and you'd be surprise at how you won't miss an entree when you dine out.  

Double Bonus?  This approach is friendlier on the wallet.  Eating sides and appetizers is normally less expensive than eating entrees.

Interestingly, I examined restaurants like Applebee's and Chili's.  Their appetizer options were consistently fried or cheese-filled items.  In this instance, it would make sense to stick with an entree from their "light" menu or a salad (hold the dressing - eat with salsa or vinegar) and enjoy one of those items.  The portions are still big, so I suggest taking some of it home.


Thank you for reading!  Have a great weekend. 
Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Top Diet Trends for 2014

I hate diets.  Okay, that's a lie.  I like learning about them.  

Truthfully speaking, we're all on "diets".  Webster defines the word "diet" as "the food or drink regularly consumed".  See.  We're all on diets. 



The thing is you can consume a healthful diet or a crappy one.  Why not go healthy?  It's much easier to take your medicine in the form of great food that is full of nutrients than it is to take expensive medicine in the form of pills in effort to treat some obesity-related illness.

Remember: it's easier to prevent disease than it is to treat it.  Think about that.  

Okay, on to the fun stuff.  What is on the nutritional experts radar this year?  Today's Dietitian surveyed more than 500 registered dietitians to find out and determined the 14 top diet trends for 2014.  Ancient grains like quinoa that will continue to be cool.  Woo-hoo.  


Quinoa salad
Here is a snippet of the top diet scoop you'll talking about, hearing about and eating in 2014: 
  1. The no-wheat movement: consumers will continue to nix the wheat and adopt Paleo (the most Googled diet of 2013, btw), gluten-free or "wheat belly" diets in 2014. 
  2. Add kale, coconut or chia seeds: throw it them in a smoothie.  You know we love this.  
  3. Low fat no more: thank God.  Dietitians think that the "low fat diet" will be the least discussed in 2014. Low carb remains strong.  For the record, I got fat eating low fat. 
  4. Fruits and veggies are the way to go: did we really need dietitians to tell us this?  You know my thoughts on the thing.  Go Mediterranean or go home. 

So, really, the "top diet trends" of 2014 aren't all that new.  It's still basic, common sense advice that our grandmothers gave us: eat your fruits and vegetables, hold off on the sugar, don't eat too much and get outside to play.  

Sounds like a good plan if you ask me!

Have a wonderful 2014!  Make it your best year yet.