Archive for September, 2010

Fat Loss…Is That All There Is?

Women (and men) come to me to lose weight and get their hormones in check, and while I do help them shed pounds and lean up, I remind them that we can’t sacrifice health in the process. What’s more, when our mission is to see the scale trending down, it’s hard to give a hoot about things like good digestion or a dead lift – but they are no less important.

But the good news is: you can have it all. You can be healthy AND lean, but often times we are so overly focused on the getting lean part that we lose sight of the bigger picture and if we’re not careful, can make ourselves unhealthy in the process. And the opposite is true as well – if you’re doing everything right and still not dropping weight then some of these often overlooked factors may be to blame.

Let’s go beyond body fat percentage and BMI for a second and look at some other markers that reflect good health – and if you don’t have them, get them! Not only are they important for good healthy – they are necessary for dropping fat.

Waist:Hip Ratio of 0.8 or less. Research shows 0.7 or 0.8 for a women is ideal, whereas higher ratios are associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Take waist measurements at the narrowest part of your torso and take hip measurement at the widest part of your hips/butt. Many women have a healthy waist to hip ratio and yet their ideal body is slightly out of reach – but with this reflection of healthy insulin function, you are well on your way. If you are above 0.8, tighten up carb servings (4-6 bites of high fiber starchy carbs like fruit, sweet potatoes, whole grains, etc.) and meal timing.

Strength. Being able to do a full pull up, doing regular pushups from your toes, being able to dead lift at least your body weight are all things us girls should be able to do. And if they can, women often neglect what big accomplishments they are! On the flipside many women don’t realize their importance. Being strong not only means you can rearrange the furniture by yourself or carry 50 or so pounds of toddler in your arms – but having more lean muscle mass is a BETTER predictor of future health than having a lower percentage body fat. This is just one more reason why strength training is an essential part of your fitness regimen.

Have a sense of wellbeing. If you are feeling anxious or depressed more often than you are feeling happy…something’s gotta change girl! If you’ve got a reason to feel stressed or agitated for a bit, that’s normal. That’s life. But if you wouldn’t describe yourself as having a good sense of wellbeing and being happy then something is off in your neurochemistry. Those same neurochemical molecules that control your moods also tell a muscle to when to contract, dictate what foods you crave, and of course they are behind how motivated you are to do what you need to do for yourself. If you’re feeling off, don’t put off getting that fixed! And be sure to do more of the things that make you feel good – like laughing and relaxing.

Healthy Blood Pressure and Health Blood Markers. Women who exercise regularly have lower blood pressure, even without a healthy diet (although both together show the most improvement – duh!). Remember, blood pressure being too low can be an issue as well – such as getting dizzy when you stand up quickly. This dizzinesss upon rising is a sign of low adrenal function. Low cholesterol, like low BP, can be another sign of adrenal issues or prolonged stress. I see many women that need to lose weight but have normal cholesterol, great BP and other markers of good heart and overall health. If you fall into this group, you’ve got a few things going for you, so don’t overlook them.

Consistent Energy. Consistent energy means blood sugar is stable and not bouncing all over the map causing surges in cortisol, adrenaline and insulin as well as sending a big “store fat’ message. Not to mention these blood sugar swings cause a swell of inflammation markers to sky rocket and this isn’t good for your body – or your brain. Uneven energy throughout the day – particularly a dip mid afternoon can signal adrenal fatigue or low thyroid function, both of which can thwart your fat loss efforts big time. With thyroid or adrenals out of whack your fat loss efforts will be very difficult. Addressing this will make a world of difference, so manage stress and obligations, sleep well, eat regularly and get help from a qualified practitioner if needed.

Good quality sleep. Getting 7-9 hours is simply mandatory for fat loss – especially if you are struggling. It’s your body’s time to reset hormonally and it keeps those adrenals healthy so your blood sugar and cravings aren’t all over the map the next day. Napping will help fill in the gaps when you can’t get enough sleep. Even a 10-20minute catnap will help – get it while you can! Good sleep means neurochemistry, as well as stress hormones, are in balance. This means less cravings, even keel hunger and less fat storage. You should fall asleep easily, stay asleep and wake rested.

Good digestion. When you eat a meal, you shouldn’t necessarily feel anything physical except that you are no longer hungry. If you are noticeably energized – your blood sugar had dipped too low prior to eating (tighten up your meal timing, add more fiber and possibly more protein). If you feel sleepy or lethargic after eating, your insulin probably went too high – again add more fiber and more protein, and really watch your starchy carbs (keep to the 4-6 bite rule).

Feeling sluggish after a meal can also indicate a food allergy or sensitivity – feeling amped up or agitated after a meal could mean the same thing. Food allergies, low digestive output and stress can also cause bloating, a sense of fullness (like the meal just sits there) or other digestive upset after eating. Food allergies can be difficult to discern on your own as a reaction may be as subtle as an increase in heart rate of a mere 10 points – so you may need help from a qualified practitioner to properly identify these. But if you feel bloated either immediately after or even a couple hours later, have difficult to resolve skin issues such as acne or eczema, have a thyroid condition or any other chronic illness, it’s wise to consider food allergens and digestive health.

And finally: enjoying healthy food several times per day. Eating a clean, healthy diet should feel great! Don’t dread eating more veggies – revel in the fact that you are taking such good care of yourself. Each time you choose nutritious, whole foods over garbage food you did something wonderful – enjoy it!

So how many of these do you have? Feel great about the ones you do and whether you are stuck in your fat loss pursuit or still cruising along, aim to have everything on this list…you’ll be healthier and fitter for it. If you aren’t experiencing all of the above, then handle those things first (before you assume your current nutrition and exercise plan are to blame) – you’ll be surprised how much easier fat loss is when all of these are dialed in. Particularly if you’ve hit a plateau after a period of successful fat loss or losing weight is just plain harder for you.

Keep your eye on the prize if you are working towards a goal, but don’t forget the mini-victories along the way – like a pull up or even just being happy. Many of these seemingly little things pack a big punch when it comes to your overall health and well being…and it makes the journey a whole lot more positive!

BETTER Body Thoughts

Replace unhelpful – often harmful- thoughts with more empowering and productive ones:

I won’t be happy until I reach my goal weight/body fat percentage/dress size.

BETTTER: Being happy on the journey to my perfect body will be inspiring and fun.

I am too busy and stressed to sleep more – I barely get my workouts in!

BETTER: Good sleep resets my hormones and helps me burn more fat.

Everyone has low energy in the afternoon and needs coffee to keep going, its normal.

BETTER: Normal or average is not optimal – I want to be in optimal health and fitness and feel great!

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September 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm 1 comment

How Often Should You Eat?

When and how often to eat is a hot topic in the fitness world, and you’ll hear everything from: eat 6 mini meals per day from the blood sugar experts, to 3 squares from the leptin camp, to no food but rather juices and broths from the latest  detox or cleanse programs. Who’s right? 

Remembering that hormones are an orchestra playing an elaborate symphony, it’s wise not to fall into the manage-this-hormone diet but rather keep all hormones is balance – as well as keeping your cravings and hunger at a manageable level. Since most of you out there are looking to drop fat, the 5-6 meals per day – aka eating every 3-4 hours – route is best.  This keeps blood sugar in a nice tight range and keeps your hunger and bay so you can stick to a plan.

The 2 main hormones you are controlling with a several smaller meals approach – although there are others like growth hormone and glucagon in the mix –  are insulin and cortisol.  These two hormones are in a constant tug of war to keep you blood sugar stable and your brain fed.

When you eat, insulin will rise and when you are between meals and sleeping cortisol will rise.  Insulin gets the fuel from a meal out of the bloodstream into your cells and cortisol taps into stored fuel so that you don’t have to constantly be putting food in your mouth. What you are hoping of course is that cortisol will tap into stored fat, in addition to stored sugar.

What type of fuel you burn largely depends on your unique hormonal situation.  If you are highly stressed you may be more catabolic and breaking down muscle over fat.  If you are insulin resistant you may have very high blood sugar after eating and a subsequent crash when you finally secrete enough insulin to get the job done. Getting your hormones tested will give you a better picture, but for most of you 5-6 meals a day or eating every 3-4 hours evens out most subtle hormonal imbalances.

It can be a challenge to get on a regular meal schedule, but it is crucial for success. If you don’t, you set yourself up to store more fat than you burn, and often end up ravenous with nothing but willpower to desperately hold yourself on plan.

Sound fun? Not so much. Fortunately, you can avoid it. It might be tough getting going, but once you get several days of perfectly timed meals under your belt, you’ll feel satisfied and in control of your hunger.      

Eating too frequently, and thus releasing insulin every 2 hours all day, can cause insulin resistance and an exaggerated insulin response that puts the breaks on your body’s ability to burn fat and enhances its ability to store it. What’s more, glucagon and growth hormone will not rise when blood sugar is elevated. That’s not good–just as we need fuel several times per day, we need times of low fuel as well. The trick is not to let the interval between meals get too long, which can cause an exaggerated cortisol (stress) response.

When you consider all of the metabolic hormones–those that lower blood sugar/blood fuel after a meal, those that raise blood sugar between meals, and those responsible for regulating hunger– that 3-4 hour window is optimal. This allows your body to better absorb, digest and utilize your last meal and allow your blood sugar to lower, but not by too much. It also helps your body build, or at least maintain, lean muscle mass as it breaks down fat. And if you listen to your body and stay on plan, you’re likely to feel hungry in about three hours anyway.

Simple Meal-Timing Tips

For most of you, eating every 3-4 hours looks like this: breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack and dinner. On workout days, a post-workout recovery shake count as one of the snacks. 

Next, stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime or at least 12 hours before breakfast. This is important, for several reasons. First, your liver needs to do its detox work, not digest dinner. Second, your blood sugar/blood fuel levels need to come down to stimulate normal leptin and growth hormone secretion. Finally, your body needs to “fast” during the evening to have a normal appetite and appropriate cortisol response in the morning.

While not eating too late works very well as a lean eating habit, it is among the hardest nutrition habits to stick to but it’s a habit worth trying to perfect as you’ll wake up more refreshed, less puffy and with a healthy appetite for breakfast.  If you aren’t able to sleep soundly or you wake up in the night, dipping blood sugar may be to blame and a protein based snack may be necessary for you (while you work with someone to heal your adrenals, of course) so that you can sleep through the night.  Remember sound sleep is also essential for fat loss.

Yet another tip: if you have insulin resistance moving towards a more uniform meal size can help avoid any large surges in insulin. This means every 3-4 hours you’ll eat a “small meal” rather than 3 larger meals and 2 smaller snacks.  If you’ve been sticking with a plan such as the one in Ultimate You and have hit a plateau, give this a try.

The Hunger Head Game

Many of us tend to overeat – and there are a lot of reasons why. One of them is a sort of crazy fear of getting hungry. I say crazy because we live in a world where food is readily accessible and true hunger or starvation is not a reality for most of us in the Western World. (Obviously this is not the case if you are homeless or living in a part of the world lacking a steady food supply, in these cases the concern is getting calories and nutrition in, rather than losing fat, as we’re discussing here.).

So if we know we can get our hands on food, we know with a bit of work we can even put our paws on a protein and veggie based meal or at least some nuts for healthy, satiating snack – why is it then that we overeat? It’s not a simple answer, but one behavior modification can be to put your veggies, protein and small serving of carbs on your plate; finish it up and simply remind yourself that you get to eat again in just a few short hours.

If it really freaks you out to go without a meal, do the Hunger Survival Experiment. Eat normally for your day and skip dinner – show yourself you can in fact survive that pang in your stomach and even the emotions, needs or fears that come up (this is a great time to journal and get to know yourself and your overeating triggers better). 

The point is to prove to yourself that you can survive cravings and hunger. It might not be the most fun thing you’ve ever done, but you can do it.  And the great news here is – you don’t have to. This is one experiment to do one day, and then you get to go back to a regular schedule of meals. Do not do this experiment if you have problems with low blood sugar or your adrenals, this is more appropriate for those who are insulin resistant.

Tips For Making the 3-4 Hour Rule Work

If you “graze” by picking at a meal for an hour or so or you’ve followed the “eat every two hours” advice and worry that you can’t go longer than that–or if you find yourself hungry, light headed, dizzy, or sleepy soon after you eat, ask yourself the following questions: At your last meal, did you… 

*eat enough protein?

*eat any foods that you know you are sensitive to or allergic to, such as wheat, diary, soy, or other known allergen?

*eat plenty of vegetables and fiber?

*eat not-so-healthy carbs? That is, were they low-fiber, simple carbs like bread, bagels, pasta, pastries or sugar?

Also ask yourself:

* Am I getting enough sleep?

*Am I drinking more than 1-2 cups of coffee per day?

*Are my adrenals weak or tired? Only a qualified health professional can tell you for sure. But if you’re under chronic stress, or have had trouble keeping your blood sugar up in the past, this may be the case. If it is, you don’t need to feed too frequently-you need to heal your stress response and utilize nutrients that keep blood sugar levels stable, such as chromium.

*Am I insulin resistant? 

Address these issues, and you won’t sacrifice one hormone imbalance for another.

Some of you may have the opposite issue: getting caught up in a busy day and either not making time or forgetting to eat. If this sounds like you, literally schedule your meal times into your day just like you would any other appointment. Set an alarm, ask your assistant or a co-worker to remind you, have snacks readily accessible–do whatever it takes and make yourself a priority.

No matter which camp you fall into, the old stand by Dr Brooke advice holds true: plan ahead.  Have protein choices cooked ahead of time, have cut up veggies prepped or purchased, have nuts or a high quality protein bar on hand, try ordering a snack as well when you order in breakfast or lunch, or get a larger meal and keep 1/3-1/2 of it for your next snack.

BETTER BODY Thoughts

Replace unhelpful – often harmful- thoughts with more empowering and productive ones:

I can’t stand being hungry.

BETTER: I can tolerate hunger, it isn’t as bad as (fill in the blank) and I get to eat in a bit anyway. 

I don’t have time to prep meals for myself.

BETTER: Winging it hasn’t worked for me in the past so I will make time to prep food for myself.

September 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

How Does It Feel To Be Called Fat?

Well it doesn’t feel good. I can attest to that.  

Recently on Amazon.com I got slammed for being too fat to have written an effective fat loss program in Ultimate You. It was upsetting of course, and I’ll admit, it was one of my biggest fears come true.   

I’m no athlete and I’m no model, so being part of the experts in the fitness community, at times I felt a little out of place. I’m a regular woman who eats well and workouts regularly….and I’ve had my share of body image issues. 

I’m only 5’3″ and have complained about my legs being too short. I’m curvy and have done my time hating my booty. And thanks to my Czech background, I’ve got a very round face and the cheeks to go with it. 

As I’ve grown from a girl into a woman, I’ve laid to rest most of my body image issues and reveled in the fact that I can lift weights with the boys, do a few pull-ups and have even come to appreciate the shape my curves give me. But I’ll admit, when I read “…the fat neck and cheeks of Dr. Kalanick…” – all those issues came flooding back. 

Now, maybe you’ve never had your issues called out on the World Wide Web, but most of us at one time or another has been the victim of someone’s nastiness – whether their words were true or not, it feels like crap.  
 
You can shrug it off and say “They are a jerk, so what”.  But let’s be honest, the biggest trash talk usually comes from our own heads.  Fat neck? Ha! What an amateur. I’ve probably done better than that in the last hour or so.  

So why can we look at what someone else says and see clearly that being nasty is…well, nasty, and not see our own thoughts so clearly? The nasty, negative chatter in our own minds is often so mean we wouldn’t utter it out loud to our worst enemy – and we really need to knock it off. 

But it’s on autoplay, it’s hard to stop and often when we get a handle on it and we’re feeling good something happens to trigger it all again. Our therapists will tell us, it’s been there for a long time – since childhood probably – and our adult relationships and experiences just add layer upon layer to our unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs about ourselves and our bodies. And let’s not forget the ever popular villain: the media. Most women feel they don’t or can’t measure up to images of the female body they see on TV and in magazines. But guess what ladies? I work with a number of these women and they have body issues too. 

Sowhat gives? Why are we all (or at least most of us) walking around most days hating this or that about our thighs or our bellies? Blame it on culture or the media or our mothers – but we’ve got a lot of hatin’ going on! 

The truth for me is that when Ultimate You was released I was in the best shape I’d ever been in, so to hear those comments about how I looked was very frustrating. But then I thought about it – was I feeling happy and completely satisfied with my body during that time? Well, yes I was happy with my body then but I’m not going to lie, I’d catch a glimpse of a trouble spot like the back of my thigh and think “ugh!”  And there would be days when those thoughts or the pressure I put on myself to look a certain way would get the best of me – and you know what? It’s BS. For most women our bodies are a work in progress, and that’s exactly what we do – we work on them. 

We work at the gym, we work to order a salad instead of a sandwich at a restaurant, we work when we pass up the dessert tray, we work not have another cocktail when we’ve gone out for just “a drink”. We work and we work – and most of the time it feels like just that: a lot of work.

How often do you order the salad with chicken instead of the slice of pizza for lunch and feel overwhelmed with contentment, satisfaction and joy (yeah, I’m using salad and joy in the same sentence)? With each bite you feel more and more satisfied knowing you’re eating something so good for you. Its fiber is filling up your tummy and aiding digestion, its nutrients reacting away in biochemical pathways, and the protein is balancing out your blood sugar so your cravings stay on an even keel. It’s sort of amazing actually – but how often do we feel it was easy and effortless to make the choice to feed ourselves very well?

How about at the gym – are you at the gym putting in your time, much like serving a jail sentence? Or are you there feeling powerful, strong, healthy and filled with self love when you catch a glimpse of your muscles in the mirror.

I am working on a new project called Nourishing Women (I’m working with some truly amazing women – these smart, strong ladies and their PhDs can bench more than some boys I know!). Since being asked to contribute, that word “nourish” has been stuck in my mind….nourish….hum…how often do any of us feel nourished by what we eat?

When we’re eating to lose weight or even to be healthy, we often feel confined or controlled by a plan – or there’s my favorite: “Dr Brooke is making me.”.  We’re usually not chewing on a mouthful of baked salmon thinking, “wow, I feel so nourished by this food.”.  Nourish is a good word, so is cherish.  How many of us cherish our bodies?  Cherish is defined as:  to treat with affection and tenderness; to hold dear.  How often do we act in ways that “hold ourselves dear?”

Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, committing to a weight loss goal – these are all wonderful things to do for ourselves, but if we are looking in the mirror, noticing every flaw and thinking critical thoughts everyday, well that’s not healthy – no matter what you weigh. 

So instead of just trudging it out at the gym or managing to somehow stomach some steamed veggies, try nourishing and cherishing yourself. While you’re doing that, I’ll be reminding myself that like most women, my body is a work in progress. Like yours, my journey to the perfect body goes on and on, and I can love myself on that journey, nourish myself, be healthy and not give in to nasty comments – including those in my own head – or dwell on the opinion of someone who clearly doesn’t cherish me. But you know what? That’s ok. It’s not their job to cherish me, it’s mine. 

And it’s yours – so while you’re working on creating your Ultimate You, love yourself a bit…it can’t hurt! 

Try these simple steps to start having more positive thoughts about your body: 

*List 3-5 things you love about your body, such as your smile, your skin, your feet, your biceps – anything. When you catch yourself having a negative thought about something you aren’t satisfied with yet, rattle of these things you like. You still had the nasty thought, but you can turn your attitude around with reminding yourself of the things you do like about you. 

*Stay focused on the process and appreciate the little goals.  If you can do a pushup now where you couldn’t before – that’s something to feel great about. If you’ve lost 2 pounds – well it may not be the 10 pounds you want to lose, but it is something and you did accomplish it.  Start each day listing all the things you’ve accomplished in your mind while you brush your teeth. 

*See yourself in your perfect body.  If you’ve been at your ideal weight and size, pull out a picture and place it on the fridge, bathroom mirror, car dashboard or somewhere else where you’ll see it every day.  If you have no idea what your perfect body looks like, just spend some time imaging it.  The more clearly you can see yourself in the body you want the more easily it will start to happen – thoughts do matter.  Thinking about your perfect body doesn’t make it appear overnight but it will help you feel better about yourself and your current body as you work your way towards it.  Spend at least 30 minutes a day (doesn’t have to be all in a row) seeing your fit, healthy, perfect body in your mind’s eye. And the sooner you can start to be the woman with that body, the sooner that body will show up. After all what does the woman with that perfect body do? She works out, she eats lots of veggies and protein and I’d venture to guess that she cherishes herself.

September 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm 19 comments

Motivation…Is It Overrated?

Its summer’s curfew, and where’s your motivation? We’re all headed back to work after the last long weekend of the summer and as if that isn’t bad enough, many of us feel like we’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with our nutrition and exercise habits. 

Many of you started a weight loss plan at the New Year in attempt to make this year “the year”. Many started last spring with the dread of bathing suit season upon you. And still some of you started somewhere over the past few summer months because you were “ready”.  How are you feeling now?

My guess there are a couple of camps: those ready to hit the ground running, those wanting results but finding it hard to stick with a plan for more than a week and those of you wondering what’s the point? This article is for the latter two groups.

Most people find when they are ready for a new plan and really excited about their goal, motivation is easy. Those first few weeks are exciting, new and we often feel so much better – even if for no other reason that we are taking action. But it never lasts.

I often tell my patients “motivation is overrated”. Motivation is awesome – when it’s around. But what about when it’s not? What will carry you through to your ultimate goal and what will help you maintain that goal? It isn’t motivation – its meaning.

What does your weight loss or health goal mean to you? It better be something good – or it won’t be enough when that initial shine of optimism, hope and motivation wear off. Looking your very best, boosting your self esteem and feeling great are worthy goals – but what do they mean to you? 

Take some time to write out why you want to be in better shape, lose weight or get healthy. The reasons you list need to move you in some way. They should be something worth getting up earlier to hit the gym for, something worth eating another salad for and definitely something worth passing up your favorite treat for. Feeling comfortable in your body, loving your reflection in the mirror or setting a great example for those you love – those are reasons that will fuel you over the long haul.  Take the time to find your reasons.

 Enjoy The Journey 

The other issue with relying on motivation for a big end goal is that we get so focused on the outcome – which is often a long ways away, for some of you with big goals it may be months or even a year away – and as we know, motivation has a shorter half life than most of our big aspirations.

When we focus on the outcome, whether it is a body fat percentage, a dress size or a number on the scale, the reward is simply the end goal and your hard work along the way doesn’t get much attention. No wonder we throw in the towel! 

And what if you don’t make it to your final goal – does that mean all the good you did along the way, all the new healthy habits you have, and the weight you DID lose don’t count? Of course not! But we often feel like those things don’t matter if our sole focus is on success at the end of the journey. 

While I do recommend that you set goals that are specific and measurable: this weight by this date for example, as it is the best way to asses, reassess and know when you’re done.  That said, your body doesn’t always have the same timeline.

As someone who often pushes themselves physically and emotionally, farther and quicker than is healthy – I know firsthand, as do many of you, that when we push a system that isn’t ready our body rebels.  We either end up injured and burnt out or we end up frustrated that we’ve put in all this time and effort and we’re STILL not there.  It’s understandable to be upset at these times, but it’s another example of how focusing solely on the outcome can leave us lacking the umph to keep on going. (Remember if you feel you’re doing all you can and struggling, something may be off in your  chemistry.  Seek help of a nutritional medicine practitioner when necessary.) And remember, it may simply take more time that we want it to – just keep working and enjoying the small benefits along the way.

What truly will help you not only achieve your goals but also not be miserable along the way is emphasizing the process as much – or more than – the destination.  If the ultimate goal is to get back into those favorite, skinny jeans or to see that optimal number when you step on the scale, focus on the process of being healthy and fit and take each healthy day – even each healthy activity – as a small victory.

Set weekly lifestyle and exercise goals that will get you closer to your bigger goal – goals that focus on the process rather than the outcome. For example, focus on getting to the gym 5 times this week rather than “if I go to the gym 5 times this week I will lose more weight”. Really enjoy that feeling you get after a great workout. Stick with the process. 

Examples of process based goals are 5 servings of vegetables per day, 3 liters of water, or getting 8 hours of sleep per night.  These goals will help you find some satisfaction in your process rather than living as “I’ll be happy when…”  They also require you to do small things each week that get you closer to the bigger goal.  Eating 5 servings of veggies per day means you have to go grocery shopping, prep and pack those veggies – as well as order smart at a restaurant.  It may seem like a long to do list, but those are all things you know how to do and can accomplish in a matter of minutes (even seconds for some, like ordering in a restaurant!). 

One final thing is focusing on your ultimate goal can seem totally overwhelming on those days when you are tired, bored, fed up or just can’t find the stamina to take on this big, daunting project.  Do the little things. Drink some water. Hit the gym – even if it’s for a light workout. Relax for a few minutes. And of course, shift your attention to all the healthy things you are doing each day – they will add up. 

Remember, if you are sticking to any reasonable nutrition and exercise plan – you may not be at your goal but you are healthier and leaner that you were yesterday. And the day after that, and so on!

September 8, 2010 at 2:45 am 4 comments

Healthy & Lean Tip #1: Eat More Green Vegetables

I know what you’re saying – enough already with the vegetables!  I know, I know, yet here I am saying it again – why is that? Well, it’s truly that important! And it’s often difficult to do but I’m about to give you some great tips to get more of the green stuff. 

Green vegetables provide that belly filling fiber you’re after as well as being chock full of nutrients. Not to mention it alkalinizes a higher protein diet. Mineral and antioxidant rich green stuff should be part of every meal. 

Have Arounds –

Clamshell of spinach or arugula or mixed greens – have on hand AT ALL TIMES.

1 heartier green veggie that you can get to in a couple of days such as: broccoli, cucumber, green beans, kale, Brussel sprouts.

Raw muchies such as celery, green pepper or snap peas.

Pre steamed asparagus makes a great veggie snack with a few slices of turkey or hard boiled eggs.

Make Ahead of Time:

The Big Bowl Of Greens: this is a staple at our house because it keeps for days (in fact it’s better after sitting for a bit) and it is a great departure from mixed greens.  Wash and chop 1 bunch of Red Swiss Chard and 1 bunch Dinosaur Kale (optional: 1 bunch sliced scallions including some green stems and 1 chopped red bell pepper). Dress these luscious  leaves with olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon juice (the lemon juice helps “digest” hearty greens as they sit in your fridge, softening them a bit).  Season with sea salt and black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.  This will keep for several days and it’s a quick veggie serving for lunch or dinner or scramble in with your eggs in the morning.

A sliced cucumber drizzled in vinegar makes another quick green veggie that’s also even better after sitting in the fridge for a day.  Try a nice rich balsamic and a little cracked black pepper over 2-3 sliced cucumbers – and let them marinate! Great with grass fed or buffalo burgers.

Mediterranean Salad: 2-3 cubed or sliced cucumbers, 1 red bell pepper or 1 medium tomato, chopped; ¼ cup chopped purple onion, drizzle of olive oil and generous dressing of lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. This also keeps at least 2 days.

Avoid the Same Old Salad Routine

Can’t stomach another mixed green salad? Try watercress, arugula or endive to avoid same old, same old. All of these greens are simple to wash, toss and eat!

It doesn’t need to be a salad – use Romaine lettuce leaves as a “wrap” around smoked salmon, sliced turkey, tuna salad, egg salad or even turkey bacon and tomato slices.

Old Stand Bys:

Scramble in spinach with eggs for the quickest protein/veggie breakfast around.

Cook up a couple of eggs or other protein and serve with a super quick arugula salad for a fresh breakfast. (Arugula salad: 2-3 handfuls of arugula tossed with olive or walnut oil, lemon juice, dash sea salt and black pepper and voila!).

Use prewashed greens to make super quick salads for lunch (pair with precooked chicken breast or fish for example and you’ve got salad in about 2 minutes).

A good greens drink can help bolster your green veggie intake but avoid ones that use whole grasses or list alfalfa as a main ingredient. Enjoy mixed in water or boost your protein shake with a shot of greens.

Ordering Out

ALWAYS order a small green or garden salad as an appetizer – this fill give you a nice Fiber Fill before your entrée and you’ll be busy munching away and less apt to wind up in the bread basket.

If your entrée doesn’t come with veggies, see if there’s a nice green side you can order as well.

One great fat busting rule to follow is simply: Salads for lunch.  If you make this choice while eating out, you’ve at least had 2 servings of veggies, you’ve stuck to plan and your afternoon will go much better!

Can’t eat an entrée size salad for lunch? Save 1/3 of it and have as your afternoon snack .

September 8, 2010 at 2:38 am 1 comment


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