Monday, May 28, 2012

Dedicate Yourself: Start With Small Steps!

Let's face it: it isn't easy to lose weight or lead a healthy lifestyle in today's society. It isn't easy to pick up an apple instead of a warm chocolate chip cookie. But which is easier: Making smart and healthy decisions now, or dealing with potential consequences like high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, or heart attacks later in life?

Living a healthy lifestyle isn't about eating well "some of the time" or being active once a week. Health is a LIFESTYLE and many people think that being healthy requires drastic changes..... at the end of the day, drastic changes will only scare you away from this lifestyle. It is important to start with small steps. Once you master your initial goals, you can continue to make progress towards a more nutritious way of life. I believe health is always a work in progress!

So, here are some ideas on goals to set to begin your new way of life!

-"Go Brown"- Look at all of the grains you eat: cereal, pasta, rice, bread, bagels, english muffins, etc. How many of your grains are "whole grain" or "whole wheat?" Strive to make the switch to wheat bread, wheat pasta, or brown rice.  Virtually every carb sold in stores now-a-days has the option to be whole grain/wheat, so make the switch! My favorite bread option is Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins (only 100 calories).

-How many calories do you drink? It is amazing how quickly calories can add up from beverages alone... plus, many of them are LOADED with sugar=bad. Do you drink a lot of soda? Orange juice? Gatorade? Coffee? First, start with making steps to cut soda out of your diet (unless you make it a "once in a while treat"). Next, try to cut out one sugary beverage for a glass of water. Have a glass of water with breakfast instead of orange juice every day, and watch how much sugar is in your coffee... gradually cut back on it!

-Control your portions. The number one thing I have heard from trainers is to switch from 3 big meals per day, to 5-6 smaller meals per day. This will help to control your portions, will keep your metabolism going all day, and may prevent you from overeating. Watch your serving sizes, especially when at restaurants!

-Switch one snack for a fruit or vegetable! In today's society it is so easy to grab a bag of chips or a cookie for snack. In reality, this won't keep you full for long, and definitely won't contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle. Start by switching one of your snacks to a fruit (apple, banana, serving of strawberries) or a vegetable (carrots and hummus, peppers) and you have already cut out a few hundred calories from your day!

-Count your calories before ingesting them. By looking at the calorie count of what you're putting into your body, you may realize that you want to find a healthier alternative! Instead of eating 420 calories of Poptarts, you can eat a 90 calorie apple and feel just as full!

-Don't like the gym? Start with 1-2 walks a week, and gradually increase the distance or days per week.

-Find a workout buddy! Like I always say, having someone to rely on is so helpful in getting yourself to the gym, even when you are completely dreading it!

-Plan your "cheat meals" and get super excited for them! Part of a well-balanced lifestyle includes indulging once in a while. Personally, if I refrained from sweets for weeks or months on end, I would ultimately go insane from deprivation and have the WORST binge. It is good to reward yourself for your hard work of dieting or exercising, in moderation of course. I always plan awesome "cheat meals" so that I have something to look forward to. Last week's cheat meal was a nice serving of cookie dough ice cream... and boy oh boy was it worth it :)

-Don't pay for a "fad" diet! Buying diet products can be SO misleading.... stick to the basics of eating and cooking and remember that you don't need to pay any extra money for delivered meals, special foods, any type of pill, etc.

-Bored? DONT pick up that bag of chips! Try a piece of gum, it might satisfy your craving to chew on something when you're not actually hungry! Especially while you're watching TV... sometimes I notice I'm not hungry but I just want to "snack". This can lead to overeating, so try a sweet piece of gum and see if it helps :)

-Don't eliminate one specific food group (ex- no carbs, no fats, etc). Try to cut back on each group! A major problem Americans face is overeating, which can lead to weight gain. Instead of depriving your body of specific nutrients, try to cut back on each group a little bit. That way, you will still lead a balanced lifestyle without overeating!

How does that sound? Not too bad, right? Start with a few of these suggestions and gradually work your way to adapting to more and more of them. Remember, drastically changing your diet typically isn't very successful. Hope this helps!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Healthy Meal Idea: Goulash!

I always love new recipes, so I thought I would share one of my family's easy and delicious meals: Goulash!

Now I have no clue what "goulash" means, but all you need to know is that you will want to eat it all... it is like a casserole. I substituted a few ingredients to make it more nutritious, and it it still scrumptious! You can put any of your favorite veggies in this, and if you aren't a fan of veggies, it's a great way to incorporate them into a meal without even noticing them! And the best part: it is SO simple to make. Toss a few cans together, turn the oven on, and you're good to go. No excuses that youre "too busy" to feed yourself or your family healthfully!!! So lets get started!

Berg Family Goulash :)

  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey (WAY healthier than ground beef!)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1-2 gloves of garlic (or garlic powder!)
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 handfulls of egg noodles, boiled
  • Sprinkle of reduced fat Mexican cheese
  • Veggies!! I enjoy:
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 red or green pepper, diced
  • Diced broccoli (you won't even taste it!)
  • Any seasoning that you enjoy
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9x13 pan with olive oil cooking spray.
  • Brown 1 lb. ground turkey with garlic and onion. Add any seasoning if you desire!
after cooking it thoroughly, drain it!
  •  Meanwhile, dice up all of your vegetables!
red peppers are my fav!

  •  Mix your vegetables together. I find it easiest to just toss it all in a bowl!
1 can corn, drained, with a diced red pepper and orange pepper!

  •  While you are browning your turkey, don't forget to start boiling water for your egg noodles!
like so :)

  •  Add in your cooked turkey and drained egg noodles into the bowl!
mixin the goods
  •  Prepare your cans..... I told you it was easy! Add in the diced tomatoes (don't drain) and soup.
  •  Lastly, pour everything together (except the cheese!)
You're done!
  •  After mixing everything together, pour your casserole into the greased 9x13" pan. Put it in the oven for about 30 minutes, adding a sprinkle of cheese to the top for the last 10 minutes!
  •  Let it cool, and ENJOY!!!
Now, of course I forgot to take a picture of the final product..... I was too excited to eat it I guess!!! Which means you will just need to make it yourself to try the delicious product. I hope you enjoy!

It usually serves 4-6 people and only takes me about $15 to make when I buy everything from scratch.

Eat up :)


Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Run For Your Life!!!!"

Last weekend I had the opportunity to try something totally out of my comfort zone. Not only was this a new way to get in an awesome workout, but I had a BLAST! I ran the "Run For Your Life" Zombie Race 5k. This was an obstacle course where "zombies" chased after us through hills, streams, woods, and LOTS of mud!! We wore belts with 3 flags (think flag-football style) and the object of the 'game' was to get out of the race 'alive' by running from the zombies and not allowing them to take your flags. Obstacles consisted of sprinting up a hill of mud, army crawling through sand, running through a maze (filled with zombies of course), finding your way through a fog-filled room, crawling under "barbed wire", and making your way through miles of mud.
mud EVERYWHERE! I tripped over a log and took a dive into the muddy pond.. it was great :)
Unfortunately, I "died" since all my flags were taken, but I got in an incredible workout by crawling through all of that mud! It was such a blast, and we got to end the race by sliding down a massive slip-n-slide down the hill..... Into a pit of mud and water. It was awesome!!!!!!! 
the "wicked" sick slip-n-slide, complete with a mud pool at the end!
all of the ruined shoes! luckily these are all cleaned and donated to less fortunate countries!
the snow blowers that "decontaminated" us.. it was FREEZING!
I had never done anything like this, but it was so much fun! Which leads me to the point of this blog. As I've said before, get out of your comfort zone and try something NEW!! Doing the same ole workout routine can get so generic and boring.... And can lead to lulls where you have no desire to exercise. By trying something new, you might find a new hobby, or you will just get in a great workout, or you will just be able to enjoy time with a friend!
I ran with my friend Vince from work!

So get out of your comfort zone and have fun!
Love, Morgan
well... at least they say mud is good for your skin??!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Another Episode of "What Did Morgan Eat Today?"

A few weeks ago, I posted a "diary" of everything I had eaten throughout the day as a way to give my viewers healthy meal and snack ideas and to show that it IS possible to eat healthy, no matter how busy you may be! I got some great feedback, so I thought I would make this a more frequent habit. I am such a firm believer that eating well and exercising can make a person feel 100% better, inside and out, compared to eating gross, greasy foods and laying on the couch 24/7. It isn't an easy transition to make, so if you are trying to adapt to a more nutritious lifestyle, take it one step at a time. Drastic changes will only cause you to "hate" your new "diet" unless you ease into your new lifestyle. Being healthy requires lifestyle changes!!! Exercising once a month or eating healthy only half of the time will not lead to true body changes. Health is a LIFESTYLE, not a HABIT! I know you can do it :)

With that in mind, here are some ideas of (mostly) nutritious snacks and meals. In fact, this is everything I ate on
Friday May 4th!
Yum in my tum. I start every morning with a cup of coffee, complete with one teaspoon of sugar, a dash of skim milk, and a tablespoon of Fat-Free Hazelnut Coffee Creamer!
Breakfast always includes a banana :) Only one of course!
Finished breakfast with my favorite Chobani! Perfect before the gym!
Muscle Milk after my workout! Fav treat :)
a late lunch included 6 T. egg whites, spinach, salsa, sante fe turkey, and 1/2 c. grapes!
snack time! carrots & hummus!
after my Target shopping trip, I indulged in my favorite Luna bar!
time to prepare dinner! pasta night before my race in the morning :)
gotta add a chicken breast for protein and spinach for a veggie!
the finished product! whole grain pasta, 1/2c. sauce, spinach, 1 thin chicken breast, and 1 T. parmesan cheese!
I was craving something sweet, so pineapple was my dessert!
my totals for the day!
I would consider this a great day of eating! I eat small but frequent meals to keep my metabolism going throughout the day. My workout consisted of running 2 miles, stretching, rehearsing my dance routine, and an ab workout. Pasta for dinner was great "race fuel" before my 5k the following day, and fruit is a great alternative to a dessert. You can still get "sweet" without all of the fat and calories.... although sweets are my favorite! Moderation is key :) My stomach was satisfied throughout the day, I was very energized, and didn't even need a nap (for those of you who know me, that is a big deal!)

Totals for the day:
Calories: 1492
Fat: 33 grams (13 Saturated)
Carbs: 198 grams
Sugars: 102 grams (I still need to work on this, but I'm sure it could be worse!)
Protein: 109 grams! WOHOO! Finally almost reaching my goal of 120 grams/day!

To cut back on sugar, I could have eaten less fruits, or been more "choosey" between the yogurt and the granola bar. Unfortunately, I require sugar in my coffee, and I'm 100% okay with having that be my "added sugar" for the day. Coffee is too delicious :) It looks like I "overdosed" on vitamins, which again, I'm okay with! In case you didn't read my "My Fitness Pal" blog posting, the last picture is of the iPhone app i use to log my eating habits once in a while!

Hope you have some new ideas! Get creative and enjoy the food you put in your body!

Friday, May 4, 2012

My New Obsession: Muscle Milk

For the last year, I have been trying to improve my workout habits, and now I have finally jumped on the bandwagon............... of Muscle Milk. Boy oh boy is it delicious. I figured that if I truly want to take my fitness practices to the next level, I might as well try good ole fashion Muscle Milk to help increase my protein intake.
Chocolate Mint= d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.
I have only been drinking it for about a week, so I have yet to report any noticeable results, but I have begun increasing my strength training in hopes of "toning up" for the Miss Massachusetts Pageant, which is already less than 2 months away!

But back to Muscle Milk. I was that type of person that first of all, didn't want to "bulk up" and second of all, didn't want to drink "gross, chalky" protein powder. A friend of mine gave me a sample of her Chocolate Mint Muscle Milk to try, and I was SO hesitant. I let it sit in my cupboard for a week or two, until I finally gave in and tried it......... and I am so glad I did. YUM. All I had to do was combine it with some water and ice in a blender and it tasted like a frosty, delicious, 150 calorie milkshake that just happened to have 16 grams of protein in it :) So I bought some for myself and have enjoyed it after every workout!!! I literally look forward to finishing my workout strong so that I can come home to enjoy the goodness of my Muscle Milk. That held true today as well:
assembling the goods. blend baby blend
creamy & delicious goodness
the moment has finally arrived: DRINK IT DOWN
this girl is all smiles after a nice & sweaty workout!
So if I haven't already inspired you, TRY MUSCLE MILK!!! Even if you are just looking for a healthy "milkshake" snack. If you are really looking to increase your protein intake and want to tone up those muscles, I have seen countless examples of how Muscle Milk can help... and hopefully I will be the next example of that! So blend it up, drink it down, and enjoy :)