Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Thoughts on Sugar!

Sugar. Delicious, not so nutritious, and hidden in SO many food products!

mmm, sugar

This week, I have become much more aware about how much sugar is REALLY in the foods we eat. While 10g of sugar in a bowl of cereal or granola doesn't sound like much, it adds up SO quickly! Hence, my blog for today. Beware of all the sugar you are consuming.

Obviously, fruits are an essential part of a well-balanced diet, and naturally they contain sugar. For example:
A banana contains 14g of sugar!
1 apple can have up to 23g of sugar!

While these are good sugars, you want to have fruits in moderation, just like everything else in life. That is why it is recommended to have 2-3 servings/day. I have been working on this lately, I LOVE fruit. But, the hardest part of cutting down on sugar is realizing how much of it is in other products that I loved! For example:
3/4 c. Special K Fruit and Yogurt (my fav): 10g sugar
2% Chobani Pineapple: 18g sugar
5 Hershey Kisses: 12g sugar
Light & Fit Yogurt: 11g of sugar (plus artificial sweeteners)
Special K Granola Bars: 6g sugar

Like I said, it may not seem like a lot of sugar, but BEWARE when it adds up over 24 hours!!!

So how can you substitute these sugary meals and snacks? Morgan to the rescue:
-Instead of having a bowl or two of cereal in the morning, try "Lower Sugar Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal" which contains only 4g of sugar. Better yet, throw an egg and an egg white on the stove for a zero-sugar breakfast! Vegetables will make it even more delicious. "Light" english muffins only contain 1g of sugar.
-Be conscious of the sugar you are adding in your coffee, on your fruit, in your favorite sweet treats, etc.
-Remember that all food groups are okay in moderation... avoiding all sugar doesn't mean you should overload on carbohydrates or bad fats!

Avoiding extra sugar doesn't mean you should feast on artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Diet Sodas, etc). These are CHEMICALS that your body CANNOT digest! While they have zero calories and zero grams of sugar, your body is not made to digest them...... therefore, you pee them out. Gross, huh? Even worse (for us ladies), they bloat you! No one enjoys that. Honestly, natural sugar is the better route to go in this case.

Well, that is all for my sugar lecture! Today I was realizing how hard it is to avoid sugars, so I hope I inspired you to take this into consideration!

Now go be healthy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Have I Mentioned Setting GOALS?!

The topic comes up again... GOAL SETTING!!! This past weekend, I had the opportunity to accomplish one of my goals, and boy-oh-boy did it feel incredible.

As many of you know, I started running about two years ago, and have made it my own little sport against myself. Of course, I started with a mile. A long, painful mile that probably took me way longer than it should have. Each day I ran just a little further and a week later I could run 2 miles. For the past few years, I have tried to go a little further each day. Something I've learned is that even when you are exhausted, push yourself a few extra steps. It is the only way you'll ever be able to push past your goals and improve on your running skills. As they say, a workout isn't meant to be easy!! So motivate yourself to go just a little further, even if it is a little bit painful. You will be SO proud of yourself at the end of your run!

A running buddy was also CRUCIAL in my running successes. When I moved to Boston, my roomate Svenja had just run a marathon.... yep, 26.2 miles. And I..... could only run 1. She was my inspiration to run, to run further, and to keep going when I wanted to stop and walk. Running with a partner is so much easier! I find my mind wandering about my day's events rather than how I want my run to be over :) After running with Svenja, and now my other roomate Hannah, I have been able to run further than ever before, which prompted me to sign up for my first 5k and 10k races starting last September!

Me, Hannah, and Svenja. Running Buddies :)

With each race, I try to improve my time by just a little bit. Remember, GOAL SETTING!? My first 10k race (6.2 miles) was somewhere around 1 hour 4 mins, my next 10k was 52 minutes, so this previous weekend, my goal was 50 minutes. It seemed extreme to me, but it gave me something to work for, and was a great reason to push myself just a little further and a little harder on each of my training runs! It wasn't easy, and some of my runs were torture (running up and down hills... yuck!) but I knew it would be worth it when I crossed the finish line of the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day 10k.

RACE BIB!!! #3438 babyyyy
On race day, I was SO. EXCITED. beyond words. I was SO ready to accomplish my goal (hopefully) and ready to run my legs off. After a good breakfast and a delicious banana, we were off! The race was very hilly (the down-hills were great!) but all in all, it felt so awesome to run. And pass a bunch of boys, hehe! And best of all........................................................... I ACCOMPLISHED  MY GOAL!!!!!

10 seconds before my goal, perfect!
It felt SO wonderful, and that is why I had to blog about goal-setting yet again. If you set your mind to something and work your hardest to achieve it, your result will be SO rewarding! If you aren't a runner, set other fitness goals!! Staying on the elliptical for 5 minutes longer... lifting 5 more lbs... you name it! What are you passionate about? What is your goal? Good Luck :)


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Healthy Meal Ideas (and what to do with the leftovers!)

I always find it hard to find healthy (affordable) meal ideas that aren't repetitive! I get sick of eating the same thing every day, which is why I wanted to write about a few of my ideas for meals, along with some ideas of other meals you can make with the same ingredients!

Lets begin with eggs :) Eggs are an excellent source of protein (perfect to go along with your workout routine!) and I find them delicious and nutritious!Adding in some veggies makes it more flavorful, healthy, and filling! I eat these for either breakfast, lunch, OR dinner!! Here is what you need for this meal: 2 Eggs, Peppers, Spinach, 2% Shredded Cheese, Skim Milk, and some seasoning (I like garlic powder and pepper), and some deli Turkey- my favorite is Santa Fe turkey breast, it adds some great flavor!
I never get sick of this meal!
How To: Heat your pan to medium heat, use a dash of olive oil cooking spray (PAM) and toss in some spinach and diced peppers (I used orange and red peppers above). I like to use a dash of garlic powder to give it some flavor! Scramble one whole egg and one egg white with a dash of skim milk in bowl, and add it to the pan to start cookin'. Scramble it up, and when they are almost done cooking, add in some pieces of Sante Fe Turkey (or whatever turkey floats your boat) and 1/8 cup of shredded 2% cheese. Sometimes I put salsa on the side, and this makes for a DELICIOUS and filling meal!

Other snack and meal ideas from these ingredients: Peppers & hummus for snack, Turkey sandwiches with 100 calorie "Sandwich Thins", Spinach salads with turkey and olive oil&vinegar dressing!


Moving on to my favorite.. Mexican :) Last week I noticed I had leftover 6" whole grain corn tortillas from a recipe I had tried, so I decided to save some money and use them up instead of throwing them away! I always use black beans and corn for my mexican-inspired recipes, so of course I used them as I created this meal! What you need: 2 whole grain 6" corn tortillas, salsa (my FAV is Newman's Own Medium Pineapple Salsa), spinach, a can of black beans, a can of corn, and 2% shredded cheese, and a toaster oven or oven! The nice thing about this meal is that all of the ingredients will last you for a few days, giving you many meals for an affordable price! See below for more meal ideas so you don't get sick of the same thing!
a whole bunch of YUM
How To: set your oven to around 350 degrees (I used my mini toaster oven), and spread salsa on each corn tortilla. Drain your cans of black beans and corn, and I like to rinse and strain them to try to get all of the chemicals/preservatives off! After layering a few spinach leaves on the salsa, add some corn, black beans, and 2% shredded cheese, and bake in the oven until the tortillas are desirably crisp on the edges, around ten minutes.

Other ideas... To add in some protein, I like to cook a chicken breast with a little PAM spray, and I add in part of a packet of Taco Seasoning to give it some real mexican flavor. I love making a spinach salad with black beans and corn, some turkey breast, and olive oil & vinegar dressing.

My advice to you: get creative with all of your healthy foods! Mix them together and find new, delicious combinations! Throw in some veggies to boost your nutrients! And don't forget to enjoy :)


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Getting bored?

Are you getting bored of the same ole gym routine? I have some alternatives for you :)

Get Outside!
Luckily spring is right around the corner, so get outside and get moving! Running outside is SO much better than hearing the continuous pound of your feet on the treadmill.... hate that! If you don't like running (or don't feel like it), find a coffee shop and walk to it! That is my FAVORITE thing to do on the weekends- I get a 3-mile workout in while getting my favorite treat! Find a workout and chatting buddy and enjoy the beautiful weather! You won't even feel like you're working out :) Plus, its a great way to have a "girls day" without indulging in the high-calorie meals most restaurants offer.

Don't want to leave your apartment? Try a video!!
As 'old-school' as it sounds, workout videos are an awesome way to mix up your workout regimen. I have a collection of them, and my favorite are the Jillian Michaels videos! In fact, I just did one last night :) And if you realllllly don't feel like getting up, getting dressed, and getting out of the house, videos are perfect! Plus, they're only $10. Nice and cheap and you can do them over and over!
This is my favorite video! All you need is yourself and a TV :)

Switch it up at the gym!
If you get bored easily, switch exercise machines frequently! This is good for your muscles, and great to control your boredom! My adorable roomate taught me do to 20 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes on the elliptical, and 20 minutes walking at an incline on the treadmill! It works your whole bod and goes by quickly since you're switching machines. I also love to run for 30-40 minutes, then go in the dance studio and do a bunch of burpees, high knees, squats, push ups, you name it.

Take a class!
Research gyms that you can go to and take a class! Whether it be spinning, zumba, or yoga, you will get a GREAT, painless workout! Most places make you pay around $10/class, which isn't terrible (especially if you're in dire need to switch up your workout). Taking classes are like my treat! Some gyms even have special deals for "first-time" members.... so go to all of the gyms until you've used up all of your "first-times" haha!

Hope this helps! Keep up your workout routine and don't get bored! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Healthy Snack Ideas!

Lately I've had a lot of questions about ways to incorporate healthy foods into the day, so I figured that would be the topic of my blog today! Snacking throughout the day is how I stay sane... I usually eat like every 3 hours to keep my metabolism going (and because I'm hungry!) so it is essential that I pack snacks when I'm on the go and plan healthy meals for when I get home!

Bananas- bananas are always my snack-of-choice in the morning- they fill you up and are loaded with potassium! Great to eat before or after a workout :)
mmm :)

Apples and Peanut Butter- my favorite! Filling and nutritious! The peanut butter adds protein and apples have a great source of feel-full-for-long fiber!
mmm, this looks like a good idea :)
Sweet potato "fries"- my roomate introduced me to these and they have become my favorite snack.. or meal :) Peel the sweet potato, slice it into about 6 pieces, and slice those in four's (they will be little triangles, or slice them however you'd like) put them in a metal pan, cover them with 1 T. Light Olive Oil and sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning over the sweet potatoes.. bake at 400 degrees for about 45-55 minutes (until they're soft on the inside, and we like them lightly crispy on the outside- the broiler on your oven can achieve this!) They're sweet with a little kick from the Cajun.. addictive!
our delicious sweet potatoes.. I mixed in bell peppers for this one. SO GOOD.
Edamame- these delicious soybeans are packed with protein and SO quick and easy to make! Find them in the freezer section, pop em in the microwave for a few minutes and enjoy with a dash of sea salt! YUM!
Peppers and Hummus.. my favorite are sliced up red & orange peppers with "Garlic Lover's" or "Roasted Red Pepper" Hummus. Bell peppers are also an easy thing to toss in a little bag for snack! 
slice em up and keep them in tupperware, easy to grab and go!

 Grapes- a good source of fiber and easy to eat on the go! Besides, who doesn't like grapes?
College students- wait until these go on sale :)
Special K Cereal- oh man, this is my OBSESSION. If you are craving carbs and a delicious, sweet snack that isn't terrible for you.... reach for the Special K. With around 100 calories per serving (and use skim milk of course!) this satisfies my sweet tooth.... every day. I love Fruit & Yogurt, Multigrain Honey Oat, Vanilla Almond, Red Berry... gosh, you name it.
Fruit&Yogurt is my FAVORITE kind!
Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt!- nuts are SO good for you, in moderation of course. They have several grams of Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats- the GOOD kind of fat! They're also a great source of protein, so grab one handful (yes, one handful. try to restrain yourself from eating them all!) and eat them on the go!

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Chobani- I know I've mentioned this before, but it is my new favorite snack post-workout. It has twice the amount of protein than 'normal' yogurt, no artificial sweetners (those bloat you!), and is delicious (make sure you STIR VERY WELL!)
Pineapple and Strawberry Banana are my favs!

Elvis- toast a light multi-grain english muffin, swipe some reduced fat peanut butter on it, and top it with a sliced banana. This is so delicious and filling that it could easily pass as a meal! In fact, this is my favorite 'snack' to eat for breakfast.
use one slice of bread for less calories, or try an english muffin!
Cottage Cheese- this is sooo good for you, especially after a workout since it is loaded with protein. Reach for the "low-fat" kind! If you don't like cottage cheese by itself, spread it on some crackers (I like the Special K Multigrain crackers)

Water, Water, Water :) stay hydrated!

I hope this gives you a few new ideas of healthy snacks and inspires you to eat healthy! Eating healthy does not mean being hungry all day or eating bland foods. Have fun with it, experiment, and try new things!
What are your healthy snack ideas? Leave a comment and share your favorite nutritious snacks with fellow readers and me! I'm always looking for new ideas :)