Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Best Strategies to Maintain your Weight Through the Holidays

'Tis the season of family togetherness and feasting, but not to worry, you can bake your pumpkin pie and eat it too!

Health conscious people all over the world brace themselves for these 2 months full of parties, feasts and festivities. It can be overwhelming to find a balance between enjoying these happy and festive months and maintaining the results from all your hard work over the past several months.

My philosophy is that everything is appropriate in moderation. The holidays SHOULD be enjoyed, and for me, yes, this involves ham, sweet potato casserole and pie. With this outlook, I still like to come into the holidays excited and prepared with a plan to keep myself on track.

1. DON’T PANIC

Remember that your food choices don’t equal your value as a person, and stay positive even when things don’t go exactly as you plan. It's easy to eat or drink a little too much at one party and let this begin a negative spiral through the rest of the holiday season. 

The holidays are challenging for everyone on the eating front, and self-love goes a long way toward letting you come out healthy and happy on the other side. Don’t let one or two frustrating events spoil the entire season!

2. PICK YOUR BATTLES

In the spirit of cultivating a growth mindset, be realistic about what you can and can’t tackle. While, “I’m not going to eat a cookie for the entire holiday season” is unrealistic for most of us, “I’m not going to eat any cookies at the work” is entirely doable.

I recommend taking a good look at your calendar and evaluating which events are worth a bit of a food splurge. You can use whatever criteria you want for this, from the quality of the food to its sentimental value. What’s important is that it’s worth it to you (and that the food is delicious of course). Two special occasions per month is a reasonable target. You can dial this slightly up or down depending on your goals and how important the holidays are to you, but if you’re celebrating multiple times a week it could be problematic.

Once you have chosen your truly special occasions, don’t worry about them anymore. Look forward to enjoying them guilt-free. We’ll use the following steps to make sure the damage is minimal.

3. PLAN YOUR ATTACK

Now that you’ve chosen what is worth splurging on, you have also decided what isn’t. For me this was always work events. When these are events that I can’t gracefully refuse, it’s important I know my plan before heading in.

Always remember that food isn’t the reason you’re attending, and try to focus on people and activities instead. That said, when planning for food, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:
For shorter, cocktail hour-type gatherings, my priorities are making sure I eat beforehand or making concrete dinner plans afterward. That way a glass of wine or two won’t trick me into believing that subpar food is my only option. For longer events and dinners where escaping food is impossible, I optimize my food choices for health and make peace with the fact that this won’t be the most rewarding meal of my life.

In these cases, my number one priority is eating vegetables. I try to fill up on as many as I can, so at least the evening isn’t a net loss health-wise. My second priority is eating some kind of protein or meat, so I’m satisfied enough to avoid the lackluster desserts that will inevitably show up later.

Finally, at events like this I stick to lower alcohol drinks (wines, lighter beers) and completely avoid cocktails, which are often as sweet as soda. For me, cocktails are a splurge and I’ve already decided this event wasn’t worth it.

4. ANTICIPATE OBSTACLES

Executing your plan may be easier said than done. For instance, buffet-style meals can be particularly challenging for many people, as there are no clear boundaries to stop you from overeating.

If holiday events are difficult for you, chances are you fall victim to the same traps over and over again.
Do you skimp too much on dinner then lose it at the dessert table?
Do you eat a dozen hors d’oeuvres before the real meal even starts?
Try to anticipate these obstacles and set up an alternative course of action.
In the buffet example, the sheer number of options can often overwhelm our better judgement. Avoid this by committing beforehand to only eating one (satisfying) plate of food.

When it is time to serve yourself, examine the entire table of options before making your decisions, then choose the tastiest items you can find that are as healthy as possible. Once you’ve made your selections, eat them slowly and mindfully.
Setting up your alternative plan before the event prevents you from having to make decisions in the 
heat of the moment and reduces your reliance on willpower.

5. BE REALISTIC

When planning your attack and anticipating the obstacles, it is absolutely essential that you are realistic about the situation and your abilities, or it will be hard to achieve success. 

I don’t know anybody who can make it through multiple hours of drinking on nothing but raw carrots and celery, so don’t make that your goal. Be smart about your strategy and honest about your limitations, and make sure that your plan will work in reality, not just in theory.

If you feel like you’re guessing about what your options will be, try to find out more about the event itself and what to expect. If you aren’t confident about your ability to execute the best plan you can think of, consider recruiting a friend for more ideas and moral support.

6. CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES

Living healthfully isn’t a single challenge or conquest, but many small challenges that add up to the bigger picture. Keep this in mind as you go through the holidays, and don’t forget to celebrate the small victories. This is important for maintaining and happy and healthy lifestyle! 

Focusing on each of your wins as you experience them gives you a feeling of progress, and makes your small actions more meaningful psychologically. Feeling successful is far more motivating than “I wish I were thinner” or “I wish I had more willpower,” and can help you persevere down the stretch.

7. LEARN FROM YOUR SLIP-UPS

With many small challenges comes not just small victories, but likely a few small slip-ups as well.

DON’T PANIC.

If one of your plans of attack doesn’t quite work and you end up with three nutella brownies down the hatch before you can say “cheat day,” it isn’t the end of the world.

Instead of skipping your workout and eating a pint of ice cream in the bathtub to console yourself, acknowledge the incident as a miscalculation and ask what you could have done differently to prevent it. And no, the answer isn’t “be a better person” or “be stronger in the face of temptation.” Instead ask what strategies you could have used to have avoided being put in that situation.

For instance, you may have not eaten enough during dinner and still been legitimately hungry afterward. Eating more protein or veggies could have given you the fuel you needed to make it through the evening. Or maybe you didn’t realize that your favorite pastry chef was going to be catering this event and it suddenly switched from not-worth-it to totally-worth-it. Maybe you could have adopted mindful eating strategies instead of succumbing to the what-the-hell effect, and enjoyed a much smaller portion. Whatever the issue, it is something that needs to be acknowledged and addressed or it will likely happen again.

8. ADAPT AND ADJUST

As you build your holiday hacking skills you are certain to experience many successes and many setbacks. This is called learning, and it is the only way to make long-term progress.

Every year your circumstances will be slightly different. You’ll have different obligations, you’ll move, change jobs, get married, get divorced, have kids, they’ll grow up, etc. Life keeps happening. Your strategies will need to adapt to the changing times, but the lessons you learn each year will stay with you.

Another important addition is to make sure you enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones! 


Source: MyFitnessPal


How to Stay in Shape While on the Road

Whether you are traveling for pleasure, world domination, epic questing, or business, it can be hard to stay on track with your workout plan and diet regimen. Not having access to your usual gym, prepared foods and personal trainer can certainly be overwhelming and lead to a serious “fall-off.” 

We are all creatures of habit and it is easy to adhere to a simple routine when you are in one place. Traveling should be enjoyed and although splurges and embracing  the local culture is vital, you also want to ensure you don’t wreck all the hard work you have already put in! So, how can you maintain your  healthy eating, regular exercising and consistent sleep patterns while on the road? Here are some tips that may help you:

1. Start your day with healthy breakfast that includes a hearty dose of protein. It doesn’t matter where you are, healthy options can always be found. Hotels and restaurants are realizing the significance of leading a healthy lifestyle and will usually have a “lighter fare” menu, or an “al a carte” section with simple and healthy options! Some easily-found items will be: eggs, whole wheat bread, whole wheat english muffins, avocado, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, egg white omelet, greek yogurt parfait etc. 

2. Traveling and eating foods you are unaccustomed to can cause digestive upset, so try to have a probiotic regularly. this can be a kombucha probiotic drink, kefir, pills, or yogurt. 

3. Ensure you are getting enough water. This will be huge as dehydration can lead to some pretty serious symptoms that can escalate quickly. Migraines and lethargy are very common amongst travelers struggling to stay hydrated! Try to stray from sugary, caffeine-heavy or carbonated drinks as these are typically full of ingredients that will only further dehydrate the body. 

4. Stairs offer a good workout if you cannot get to a gym. Bodyweight workouts can be just as great (if not even better) than those with weights! If the stairs are limited to 4-5 stories, make sure you make the right choice. 

5. Tea is a miraculous drink, not only does it provide energy for doing fun activities throughout your travels, but it is also full of antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. There is usually caffeine, which is fine as long as you do not over do it! Many teas will also aid in digestion and keep everything moving smoothly while you are away from home! 




Monday, November 13, 2017

4 Common Habits Sabotaging Sleep

We all know how important proper nutrition and drinking enough water is to our health and fitness routine, but adequate sleep is an integral part of your success as well.

There have been recent studies looking at sleep quality and athletes. Not surprisingly, researchers noted that people who are regularly exercising and causing eustress to their bodies need more sleep than non-exercisers due to training load and recovery needs.

I also find that having some healthy fats and protein before bed helps a ton too, especially if you're highly active throughout the day. Your body uses fats at rest, so giving it a dose of this "sleeping fuel" before bed will help your body repair (this is the protein part) and aid in fat facilitation while you snooze!

Of course, knowing you should sleep and actually getting that sleep can be two very different things. There is a slew of tactics we probably all have tried when suffering from insomnia, but many of those strategies may actually be making things worse. Here are some of the strategies I have tried in the past and found I have done them incorrectly:

1: Melatonin supplementation:

Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces around sunset each day, but many people think they can pop it like a sleeping pill and feel the results immediately. It takes about 3-4 hours for the melatonin to take effect, so make sure you are taking it a few hours before you plan to head to bed.

2: Going to bed only when you have hit exhaustion:

Keeping consistent with your sleeping schedule is imperative when trying to overcome insomnia. When seasons change, it's expected we will fluctuate with it. On those summer nights, we always want to stay up later, but feel lethargic and sleepy when it gets dark at 5pm in the winter. Try to find a time to hit the hay that is reasonable throughout the year. If you stay consistent with your bedtime and waking time, your body will know what to expect and your REM sleep will be more regular and uninterrupted.

3: Counting sheep

For me, counting only causes anxiety when I start to hit higher numbers while still wide awake. Counting sheep is meant to be a de-stressor, but I have yet to see its effectiveness. What works for me is visualizing a process I enjoy doing, so myself at the gym having a really good workout, doing meal prep on a Sunday, hiking up in the mountains etc.

4: Checking the clock:

You have to wake up to a certain degree to register the time, and this can kick you out of your sleep cycle. Try to avoid checking the time, and to do this, I typically turn my phone face down or turn my alarm clock away from me.

Again, consistency is key. Make sure you are going to bed and waking up around the same time each day.



Monday, November 6, 2017

Easy Breakfast Bites

I have been doing the same thing for breakfast for the past few months, and decided it was time to switch it up! I typically do an egg and an oat component, so this week for my breakfasts I made these egg white frittatas, pecan wood bacon and peanut butter overnight oats to eat throughout my morning.  I typically eat 2-3 of these at a time. Macros (for 1 mini muffins): 30cal, Fat: 1g, Carbs: 1g, 4g protein.





Ingredients: 

-2 16oz cartons of egg whites
-1.5 cans diced green chiles
-5 oz grated cheese of choice
-1/2c red or white onion
-2 handfuls baby spinach
-1c diced mushrooms
-Salt & pepper to taste
-2tbs olive oil (to sauté veggies)

Directions: 

-Sauté mushrooms, spinach, onions and green chiles in olive oil until softened (about 8 minutes) 
-Spray mini muffin tin with non-stick spray if not already non-stick surface
-Fill 1/4 of each muffin cup with veggie medley
-Fill remaining space with egg whites
-Evenly distribute cheese on top of all cups
-Sprinkle with desired amount of salt and peper
-Enjoy your delicious and macro-friendly breakfast for the week!