Monday, January 25, 2010

Keep The New Year Fresh

It is the end of the first of twelve months and just thought I pipe in with some ideas to keep the New Year fresh and alive. Remember all those great things you said you would accomplish, enjoy, and make room for?

Here are some ideas that will help wake up your brain and keep you motivated until the warmth of Spring is on your back:

Goji Tea
Instead of a caffeinated beverage in the morning, why not try some Gogi Tea? Gogi berries are off the chart in antioxidants and are a great way to wake up your system. Take about 1 t. of dried Gogi berries and put them in a coffee cup. Add hot water and let steep. You can eat the berries when they get soft and plump. Try this throughout the day as an antioxidant boost.

Change Your Exercise Routine

You might be thinking, "Why do that? I just got into a routine." Changing up what you do is a great way to stay interested in working out. For instance if you like yoga, now is the time to check out different studios just in case you need a change of scenery. Maybe you need a more zen-like environment, smaller class size, or a more convenient schedule. You generally pay by the month so now is the time to think about making a switch. Or if you are content, stay put and bring your hands together in Namaste to give thanks that you are healthy and are making the time to treat your body well.

Buy a Great New Cookbook
Purchasing a new cookbook is a great way to make meal planning and food preparation more fun or should I say tolerable. Cooking is enjoyable when you are in the mood, but if you are the chief cook and bottle washer, this task gets old. I love the new Canyon Ranch cookbook Nourish. The recipes are delicious and easy to make. The pictures make my mouth water. This might be a great Valentine's gift for your favorite cook, or for yourself if that cook happens to be you.

Get a Body Treatment
Don't wait for your next spa vacation to treat yourself to a luscious massage or pedicure. Once a month body treatments are a great way to relax and refresh. Some days it just feels awesome to either climb onto a heated massage table or stick your feet in hot bubbly water.

Coming soon, what is the best chocolate for Valentine's Day.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Are Your Resolutions Still Happening?

We are almost two weeks into the New Year and where are you with your New Year's Resolutions? For most people the numero uno resolution is weight loss. Researchers have studied individuals who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept their weight off for at least five years. These "weight managers" have a few things in common. So whether you are still on track or have fallen off the wagon, here are some suggestions that will help you stick to your goals:

1. Keep a Food Diary

Awareness is the number one key to success when trying to lose weight. If you are aware of what you are doing, then you are paying attention. Paying attention means you are following what you set out to accomplish.

Most people fail to reach goals when they start to stray from their plan. Staying on the plan or, more importantly, getting back to the plan after a day, a week, or a month of straying is the key to success. The act of writing down your food intake actually makes you stay on your plan. It not only keeps you honest, it maintains focus and motivation. Food diaries work because they build new habits that allow you to see results. When you see results, you are motivated to stay within the structure you outlined in the first place.

I recommend keeping a food diary for at least a minimum of six months after you have achieved your weight loss goal. You have to build a system that keeps you accountable to yourself. Whether you keep it in a notebook (so old school!), a Blackberry, IPhone, or Droid, or on scraps of paper, the act of being accountable is HUGE.

2. Eat Breakfast
Many of us wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "I will not eat today. I am sick of being fat." Those good intentions are usually gone by mid morning when two things happen: low blood sugar and the first donuts appear in the break room. Then it is off to the races. Do not think that eradicating the calories you ingest at breakfast will help you save on calories the rest of the day as it really has the opposite effect.

Eating breakfast not only sets your blood sugar pattern for the day but also helps prevent overeating after dinner when you start to crave sweets. Craving sweets at night is both a result of habit (wanting to unwind from a stressful day) and blood sugar fluctuations caused by erratic eating patterns during the day. Eating breakfast also gives you more energy throughout the day so at day's end you will be ready to hit the gym. Here are some examples of easy to grab, healthy breakfasts:
  • Egg white omelet with fresh spinach, topped with salsa and sliced avocado
  • Vitalicious Muffin Top with hot Chai tea with almond milk
  • Uncle Sam's Cereal (3/4 cup with a few raw almonds and 1 T. dried sulfur-free cherries)
  • Two slices whole wheat bread with almond butter and Polanar All Fruit
  • Miso soup with mushrooms and grilled salmon (think out-of-the box!)
  • Fage 0% yogurt with a 1 t. real maple syrup + 1 T. ground flaxseed
Eating more food earlier in the day fills you up with healthier food (unlike food you choose after dinner) and avoids drops in blood sugar that cause irritability and sweet cravings that lead to trips to vending machines and snack bar to seek out junk. The desire to eat sweets should signal that your blood sugar is dropping and that it is time to eat a healthful snack. Plus when you start off the day doing something good for your body, your body responds with better brain function so you are more likely to continue treating yourself well...and achieving your goals.

3. Exercise
Just remember, pounds only stay off if you exercise regularly, approximately one hour a day. The goal is not to revisit the weight loss ever again. Once the weight is gone, exercise is the key to keeping it off.

Exercise builds muscle and muscle increases metabolism so you burn more calories at rest. That is particularly good if you spend the day sitting on your rear end. Because exercise burns calories, it allows you some leeway in your dietary choices. No one eats perfectly all the time and thankfully exercise offers a buffer during stressful moments when you are traveling or have crunch times at work or at home. You may not lose weight when life is crazed but it will help prevent any further weight gain. Then once things calm down (and they always do), you get back on track and continue the weight loss program, in earnest, all the while never stopping your exercise routine.

Once you start, the endorphins begin to kick in. These endorphins (natural mood enhancers) not only reduce sadness, depression, and many other feelings that can derail us in our weight loss attempts, but also increase well being. This endorphin increase is real and not unlike the feelings you get on a beautiful sunny day. A regular dose of these brain chemicals can transform your life. The act of exercising (endorphin creation) is self-replenishing, meaning you may find yourself looking forward to your workouts.

Perhaps the key to keeping your resolutions alive is really as simple as one, two, three.