Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing…

There are lots of healthy snacks out there. Really, there are. The problem is that sometimes a healthy snack can turn into a not-so-healthy snack just by eating too much of it or eating the wrong kind. Here are a few examples for you to watch out for on your next grocery trip:

- trail mix & granola: Yes, it’s packed with protein and omega-3s, and makes for a portable, satisfying snack. But what lurks behind these nutty, prepackaged snacks are loads of excess sugar, oils, and preservatives. Add on the extra-salty varieties and sugar-packed dried-fruit, and there’s a bit of a dilemma. Avoid prepackaged mixes with lots of fruit and opt for homemade batches with unsalted nuts and all-natural fruits.


- hummus: While this garbanzo bean-based dip does offer a good dose of protein, heart-healthy fats and fiber, working it into a healthy diet is all about portion control. Stick to one serving (2 tablespoons) to keep the calorie count under 80 calories. Also, stick to lower-calorie and carb dippers like fresh or lightly steamed veggies like carrots, celery, snap peas, or broccoli instead of pita chips or pretzels.

- sushi: (sorry, Nat…) It’s a healthier dinner than fried chicken, we’ll give you that. But despite the fresh veggies and omega-3-filled fish, sushi can be a silent killer when it comes to calorie counts, often packed with too much rice (sometimes a full cup per roll!), fried fillings, and heavy sauces. Instead, opt for sashimi (slices of fish without the rice), or a brown rice roll with only fresh fish (hold the sauce). Another word to the wise: Stay away from special Americanized rolls that are often filled with extra calories from cream cheese or (yes) even bacon.

- dried fruit: While dried fruit does have some redeeming qualities, varieties with added chemicals and sugar make it easy to question these healthy claims. To pick a healthier version, look for “no sugar added” or brands that use alternative sweeteners like all-natural fruit juice. Also beware of serving sizes: Dried fruit is considered an energy dense food-high in calories, and relatively low in nutritional value.


- diet soda: Diet drinks may sound healthier, but some studies suggest drinking diet soda might actually be linked to greater weight gain than its sugary cousins! Another study found people who drink more than one diet soda per day have experienced a greater increase in waist size over almost ten years than those who avoid the bubblies completely. One of the biggest factors to blamed? Aspartame, a calorie-free sweetener used in many diet sodas.

- Caesar salad: Just because it’s on a bed of lettuce doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Caesar salad may seem like a healthy menu option, but its calories-laden dressing, blanket of cheese, and refined grains make it a not-so-smart choice. In moderation, they’re all fine. But take a closer look, and we have a different story. The classic calorie dense Caesar dressing is made from, egg yolks, not to mention the cheese and croutons often piled high.

- fruit juice: Just because it came from fruit doesn’t mean it has the same benefits. One cup— take apple, for example— can pack more than 100 calories. But some nutritionists believe the real problem starts when people think about juice (or any liquid) as calorie-free— which is clearly not true. But our biggest problem with juice is all about the sugar. Yeah, fruit naturally has a good deal of it, but squeezing it (literally) into juice form just makes that sugar even easier to choke down. Plus, juicing even removes the super-healthy fiber from real fruit.


The takeaway? Most foods (the healthy and not-so-healthy) are fine to eat…in moderation. Be aware of serving size, ingredient lists and other options that are better for you. With a little awareness and knowledge regarding your choices, you’ll be just fine!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday Morning Muffins

Each Sunday my dad spends a good portion of the day at church. Because of those early mornings he often is rushing out the door and doesn’t have much to eat most of the day.

Enter: the Sunday morning muffin.

Either my mom or I try to make muffins or some other food to take in to church for him to snack on. So here is one of the many muffins I’ve baked in the last month or so. They were a hit!


Coconut Blueberry Muffin

2 cups wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. agave
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. almond milk (or any milk)
1 cup blueberries

First combine the flour, baking powder, salt and coconut in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the applesauce, agave, eggs, vanilla and milk and then mix into dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the blueberries. Spoon into lined or sprayed muffin tins and sprinkle the top with a little more shredded coconut. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.



Let me know if you try them!

~What is your “go to” muffin recipe?

Friday, February 24, 2012


After a little talk about excuses on Wednesday, I thought it might be appropriate to talk about the other side of things…motivation.

I’m a pretty dedicated exerciser. I get in 6 days a week and have for the past several years. So what motivates me to get out there and sweat on a regular basis? Because it isn’t always easy. Here are some of the things that motivate me to get ‘er done.

1. positive thinking: I am a firm believer in self-efficacy and the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you start a workout thinking it won’t be a good one, or that you’re going to run slow or you’re going to be too sore to do much, then 90% of the time you will fulfill that. So instead, I decide beforehand just how great my workout will be. It gets me excited to workout and results in a overall better workout session.


2. gear: It is true. If I didn’t have good running gear, I would be far less likely to get out there and run and push myself. Thanks to my good running shoes, vibrams, and cold-climate running gear (like my Lucy leggings! which I love), I am prepared for a good workout.




3. Accountability: It really did help me to work harder when I logged my mileage in hoping to get 1,000 miles last year. So this year I track miles and weights I use on my own so I can see progress and try to beat myself.

4. Talking Watch: Okay, this sounds weird. But it is true. Since I got the new Nike+ SportWatch GPS, I have had more motivation to get outside and run. Not only because I love running with it and uploading my stats on the computer…but also because it ASKS me to run with it. So maybe you don’t have a talking watch, but you could get a friend to ask you to run with them!



5. Endorphins: I think it is safe to say once I start a workout, I never regret it. The starting is often the hard part. When that is the case, I imagine myself at the end and the good feeling I get that I accomplished something, I worked hard, and my health is better for it. That makes it alllll worth it.

Here are a few other motivation tips from the

  • have a mantra (like the little engine that could!)
  • visualize
  • train with a personal trainer (eh?)
  • break down your workout (tell yourself to run for 10 minutes, then another 10, then just 5 more, etc.)
  • find a workout friend
  • download some new workout tunes
  • count out loud when performing reps
  • get in the zone

~What motivates you to work hard?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse Detective

We all have them.

We all use them.

In fact, if making excuses to skip a workout made us fitter…we’d all be seasoned iron man triathletes.

So here is a bit of decode work done to see between those excuses we make.

Excuse 1: "I'm already too busy—I can't deal with one more thing I'm 'supposed' to do."


Take a look at your schedule. Even that part of the schedule that isn’t written down…the part where you spend some extra time on facebook or in front of the TV. Not that taking time to relax is bad, but taking time for yourself is even better. So put it on the calendar (in writing) and you’ll find you will start to MAKE time.

Excuse 2: "I’m too tired.”


It may sound counterintuitive, but working out actually gives you more energy. You get endorphins and circulation going, which helps to wake up the body and the mind. It’s also a good idea to distinguish between mental fatigue and physical fatigue. Often at the end of the day, the mental fatigue is what is getting to us. And exercise can really help release that.

Excuse 3: “I always end up failing/quitting.”


Set small, attainable goals. It also helps to keep a log and post it somewhere public -- even on Facebook. Having an exercise buddy keeps you accountable as well. When you back out of a scheduled workout, you're letting down your buddy as well as yourself. Also, look toward the future. It's harder to start exercising than to stick with it once you've got your momentum going. It’s all about perspective.

Excuse 4: “I’m too sore from yesterday’s workout.”


Light exercise the day after an intense workout may help you recover faster. You don’t want to go out and do another killer workout, but doing something will help. When you lift weights, you cause microtears in your muscles that then mend, making the muscle even stronger. Exercise increases blood flow, nourishing the muscles with oxygen and removing waste products. A recent study at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, shows that people who engaged in light activity the day after a strenuous workout experienced less soreness than those who didn't.

~What’s your favorite excuse? And how do you get past it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Making It Your Own

It can be overwhelming to take a recipe and make it healthier. Sometimes you don't know how much to change, what to keep the same, and what to expect when it turns out!

Well, last week my family got a Papa Murphy's pizza. I have to commend Papa Murphy's - I think it is fabulous that they offer lots of choices (like thin crust and loaded with veggies), and it is always fresh!

So my mom brought home a pepperoni pizza. One thing they could work on is cut down on the pepperoni coverage...seriously!


So I took it upon myself to make it my own - a bit healthier version! First I cleared off all the pepperoni and threw away over half. Yes, I threw them away. The ones left over I popped into the microwave to cook the pepperoni a bit. This makes it so when you cook the pizza, there is much less grease!


After cooking the pepperoni, I placed them back on half the pizza. Then on the other half I made a spinach and chicken mix on the stove in a bit of olive oil. Then I covered the other half with that mix and the cheese. Check it out!


When it was time to eat I put it in the oven and cooked it just like normal. It was great! And a really simple swap.


See, making healthy changes doesn't have to be hard!

~What changes do you make when cooking or baking to make it a little healthier?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday’s Favorites

Hey, friends! Comin’ at ya with a round of Friday’s Favorites. Hope you have a fun weekend! (yay for 3 day weekends!)

- Zucchini Boats anyone?


- here’s a nifty portion control video…short and to the point!

- Top Ten Greens…check out the first one! Love my broccoli :)


- This apple banana stew looks like a fun and simple treat for kids and adults to enjoy

- Speaking of portion control, here is a great way to give you your freshly baked cookie fix, but just a few at a time

- I like oatmeal, I like protein, and I like simple…therefore I like these (kid friendly) no bake oatmeal protein bites!


- there are lots of seeds out there, but this helps you find the best and tells you why

- we already had one quinoa recipe this week, but I figure there can never be enough quinoa…check out this peanut butter cacao quinoa 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quick (and simple) Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain that is also a complete protein. That’s why we love it! There are tons of health benefits associated with adding quinoa to your diet, not to mention how good it is to just try to whole grains that carry a good amount of protein too. So here is a quick and simple dinner that you can add to your recipe box.


I make my quinoa in the rice cooker. Pop it in and let it cook, and it stops when it is done and keeps it warm until you are ready to eat. Perfect!


While the quinoa cooked, I chopped some almonds and toasted them in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes.


Once the quinoa finished, I put some on a plate, added 2 drops of pesto (I believe it was purchased from Costco, but you can always make your own!) and topped with roasted almond.



On the side I added some roasted butternut squash and a little leftover crockpot chicken. Yum!


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Truth About Chocolate

I would guess most of you have heard that chocolate is good for you, right? That all this time we have worried about it being too fattening and sugary, we should have just been eating it? Well…that isn’t 100% true.

Truth: Scientists reported preliminary evidence recently that cocoa may keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing and your heart healthy.


Truth: The reasoning behind chocolate having health benefits is that the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids.

Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. Flavanols act as antioxidants, which protect the body from aging caused by free radicals which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.  A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that dark chocolate helps to lower blood pressure.


The problem? Not all chocolate is equal. A lot of chocolate doesn’t have high levels of flavanols. If you’ve ever tasted cocoa straight, it has a pretty strong, bitter taste. A taste most people don’t enjoy chomping down on. In order to fix that, most companies process and add sugar and other things to make it so you DO chomp down on it.

The other day I was watching the news and they had a guy from a local chocolate shop talking about their store. They sell high end chocolates (that sounds weird) and he actually said most people aren’t “chocolate lovers” but just plain old “sugar lovers” and they realize that when they go into their shop and taste real chocolate. They don’t like the cocoa, just the sugar and milk and fat added to the cocoa. Interesting, eh?


Typically, dark chocolate has the highest levels of flavanols.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean you should go eat all the dark chocolate you want. First, be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose: chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate is by no means a heart-healthy food option. Watch out for those extra ingredients that can add lots of extra fat and calories. Second, there is currently no established serving size of chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits it may offer, and more research is needed in this area. However, we do know that you no longer need to feel guilty if you enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate once in a while.


Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and enjoy a little chocolate with someone you love!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Inspiration Friday







~What inspires you to change?

Have a fun and safe weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Power of Your Mind

Your mind has a whole lot of power when it comes to living your life. Take a second and think about the last time you talked yourself out of exercising, or talked yourself out of eating that 3rd slice of pizza. How did it happen? It was all in your head.

Your mind and your weight/health are very closely related.

For starters, we’re all subjected to plenty of food advertisements and most of those ads are not for healthy foods. The bulk of the advertising goes to sway our kids, and according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in a typical day the average 8-12-year-old sees:

  • 5 ads for candy and snacks
  • 4 ads for fast food
  • 4 ads for sodas and other soft drinks
  • 3 ads for cereal
  • 2 ads for restaurants
  • 1 ad for prepared foods
  • 2 ads for the following categories combined: dairy, water, juice, meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables or grains

Do these ads encourage kids to want more junk foods? Certainly, and if you’re a parent that may mean you keep more unhealthy foods around your house -- this may tempt you to sabotage your own diet. Even without kids, food advertising can have subtle impacts on your desire to eat foods that aren’t good for your waistline.

When you get those cravings, a good idea is learning to replace them instead of just “forget” about them…since that usually doesn’t happen. So try using the one hour clue.

The one hour clue is one hour after eating do you feel better or worse? More energy or less? Any foods that don't make you feel good, energized one hour after eating should be replaced with health energizing foods

Another way our minds tend to get the best of us is when we see or hear those advertisements for fad diets claiming you “don’t have to make any changes, just take a pill” or if you eliminate a certain food group (carbs, anyone?) you will drop the pounds fast. That might be true, but it doesn’t last. And you will be back where you started…listening to those ads on the radio.


So the key here is to change the way you think. Easier said than done, right?

Losing weight is not about dieting or restrictions … it’s about changing the way you think about food, eating and a healthy lifestyle in general.

The first step to doing this is to become aware of your eating patterns and then make adjustments; for instance if you tend to overeat when you're stressed about work, then make adjustments based on them. If you know you tend to overeat when you're overwhelmed, make it a point to keep yourself busy with another activity (even something relaxing like reading or taking a bath) during this time.

Next, focus on making small changes in your lifestyle, not on losing weight. For instance, rather than thinking, "I have to lose 30 pounds," think, "Today I'm going to take a pass on the bread and butter and go for a walk after dinner."

By adding just one or two healthy behaviors to your routine each day, you’re subtly changing your old, weight-sabotaging habits into new healthier ones.


So today, choose to be aware of your thoughts. Then from there, decide to change them when necessary. It won’t be easy…but a lot of things in life that are worth it don’t come easily. So stay strong!

ps – the full article where I got some of this information is found here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It’s a Revolution!

Ever heard of Meatless Mondays? I have a few times and always thought it sounded like a great idea. But the revolution usually started there, with the thinking. So now I’d like to take that thinking in to action, and challenge you to do the same!


It really all started back during World War I. The U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. “Food Will Win the War,” the government proclaimed, and “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” were introduced to encourage Americans to do their part.

The idea would come and go in the coming years. According to a 1929 Saturday Evening Post article, “Americans began to look seriously into the question of what and how much they were eating. Lots of people discovered for the first time that they could eat less and feel no worse – frequently for the better”. The campaign came back again during World War II.


Meatless Monday was revived in 2003 by former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner, who saw the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption and decided to introduce Meatless Monday as a public health awareness campaign. The initiative was backed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future and endorsed by 30 schools of public health.

Why go meatless? Check out this video:
(If you’re a subscriber and get my posts through e-mail, you’ll have to click out of the e-mail and onto the blog to see the video, I think)

The benefits really are endless. And what better way to start the week than with some clean eating that helps our bodies?!

The website has a great resource full of recipe ideas for all meals and snacks. Check ‘em out!

~What’s your favorite meatless meal or snack?
For me, it would be nuts and some good ol’ black beans.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Walk It Out

Walking is a pretty great way to get a good workout in while not working your joints like you do while running. It’s also a great option because everyone can do it! I posted an incline interval workout back in September…so it looks like it’s about time to post another one!

So, peeps, here’s your “walk it out” workout. Hope you enjoy it!

**Our goal here is to start with a short burst of speed to get the heart rate up, then walk the rest of the way while your heart rate stays up but at a steady rate. Then repeat :)

walk it out workout

After doing the first 15 minutes, you repeat it without the first 2 minute warm-up. Here is another way to look at the workout:

walk it out workout table

Let me know if you try it! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Personal Philosophy of Health

**For my application to get into the Secondary Health Ed major I was asked to write my personal philosophy of health. I thought I’d share it with the blog world since health is sort of “what I do”. And the good news is…I got accepted.


As a seven year-old girl, health had one meaning to me: I had to eat my green beans. Of all the vegetables and fruits and whole grains my mom encouraged into my little body, green beans were the one thing I despised. Ten years later I found myself spending my free time running, biking and swimming as I trained to compete in several triathlons. As a seventeen year-old girl, health meant movement. It meant feeling the ground under my shoes and the water splashing on my face as I worked to get faster and faster. Health was seeing how much I could get my body to do. Then, a short two years later every definition I had known previously of health was thrown out the window when I came home from a humanitarian trip to Honduras with serious health problems that could not be determined.

Despite the disappointment and frustration over my lack of physical health, I soon realized there was much more involved in being well. I could still be healthy mentally, spiritually, emotionally and socially while my physical health was in the process of healing. While one small aspect of my health, which used to be my whole idea of health, was struggling, it did not mean I was no longer capable of living a healthy life.

From that experience, an experience that I continue to live with the consequences from, I came to understand my own health and the idea of health much better. My personal philosophy of health began to develop. Instead of feeling weak, I decided to work on other aspects of my health – the spiritual and mental and social sides. I sought after learning experiences and made friends with people I had never taken the time to talk to. I made an effort to deepen my relationship with God. So in the end, while I initially felt I had lost my health as I got off that plane from Honduras, I instead began gaining my health.

In this process of gaining my health, I began to dream. Those dreams involved teaching, healing, children, adults, change, and empowerment. Those dreams involved not allowing statistics of obesity and chronic illness to control our future, but instead allow us to move forward and change. Those dreams involved graduating in School Health Education and becoming a teacher.

As I look to the future, I am reminded of the past. A past that was filled with teachers that inspired me to push myself, to grow, to learn, and to love opportunities to fight for my own success and ideas. A past that was also filled with siblings and parents that taught me the value of individuals and their unique talents. A past that allowed me the security I needed to live and the flexibility I needed to grow.

When the time comes for me to enter the world as a professional, my main goal is to give students the same opportunities I was given as a student. I want to be a teacher that pushes students to discover just how much they can do. I also want to be a teacher that opens up the eyes of the students that have trouble acknowledging their dream. And most of all, I have a goal of helping students foster each aspect of their health. As I contemplated what major to choose, secondary education seemed the best fit. At that age, kids still have the capacity to change and to affect those around them in a positive way. With that ability, they will then help other’s change, and then they will help other’s change – in the end, we will have changed generations. As a result, America will no longer be rising on the charts of obesity and death rates, but instead rising on the charts of health and life. I cannot do it alone, but I can do my part. And that is my goal.

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