Monthly Archives: December 2014

A New Year Update – More Apps to Help You Lose

Earlier in the year we discussed popular weight loss apps that you could download to your iphonephone or tablet to help keep you on track with your goals. As we come out of the holiday season, we realize that it’s more important than ever to have the support to get you back on track. We’re here to support you in any way that we can, but in the hours that you’re not in clinic, it can be helpful to have technology work for you. That’s why we wanted to add an update of some more apps that have come to light since our previous post. All of the apps are free to download, but when used regularly, their benefits are priceless.

 

  • Pact

We’re going to call Pact a high stakes app because this one puts money on the line. The way it works is simple. You make a pact – like eat more fruits and vegetables or exercise more – that you input into the app for the whole Pact community to see. Then you place a wager on your pact, say 50 cents per vegetable or workout. If you stick to your word, you earn money from the app – anywhere from 30 cents to $5.00 per week – but if you don’t, you’ve got to pay up. You can adjust how much you wager based on how committed you are. This app doesn’t just hold you accountable to yourself and the Pact community; it holds you accountable to your bank account too.

  • Nike+ Training Club

The Nike+ Training Club app is basically a personal trainer in your pocket. You can choose a single workout or you can set up a whole 4-week program for yourself. There are over 100 exercises to choose from and it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert exerciser – there is something for you. The best part is if you have a smart TV or HDMI cable, you can watch the workouts right on your television.

  • iPhone Health App

Sorry, Team Android, this one is for Apple users only. The iPhone Health App actually comes preloaded with the iOs 8 operating system. The app allows you to track your nutrition, fitness, and body measurements, along with other health markers like the amount of sleep you’re getting and blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate. You can also set the app to connect with other health apps, like MyFitnessPal, so that you’re able to see all of your information in one place.

  • Google Fit

We couldn’t discuss an iPhone-only app without also letting you Android lovers know about Google Fit – a health app from Google that’s strictly for Android phones. Google Fit actually helps you track your activity by simply carrying your phone around with you. There are several goals you can input into the app – like a goal to move for 60 minutes each day or walk a certain number of steps – and the app will push you to keep them. You can also hook this app up to Android smartwatches to make it more convenient for you to take on the move.

  • 7 Minute Workout

We understand that you’re busy. Sometimes too busy to fit in the hour-long workout that you promised to do. We get it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t work out at all. Some exercise is better than no exercise and that’s where the 7-Minute Workout app comes in. The app puts together a 7-minute workout that ensures you’re getting the most bang for your buck – or in this case, your time. You can choose from regular or advanced 7-minute workout programs.

How to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Last

New Year's Resolution

Ahh, the New Year is quickly approaching and you know what that means – it’s time for a resolution! A lot of people poke fun at the New Year’s Resolution because many tend to throw in the towel on their resolutions before January even ends. Well, if that sounds like you, we’re here to help you make your resolution last. In addition to following the tips listed below, keep in mind that it generally takes at least 3 weeks – 21 days – to change or make a habit. Of course, change is going to be uncomfortable at first, but stick with it! Whether your goal is to slim down, save money, or spend less time watching TV, you can do it!

How to Make Your Resolution Last:

  • Choose something that YOU want. Make your resolution truly about you. Think of something that you want to accomplish for yourself, rather than for your friends, family, or a significant other and stick to that.
  • Be realistic. Resolving to do something completely unattainable is a recipe for disaster. If you say that you’re not going to eat chocolate for the whole year or that you’re going to work out for 2 hours each day every day, you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure. Instead, make realistic resolutions. If you eat chocolate 3 times a week now, resolve to cut that down to one. If you don’t work out at all, make it a point to work out 3 times a week and work your way up from there.
  • Focus on one resolution; and be specific. Some people get so excited and caught up in the “New Year, New You” mentality that they go overboard on the resolutions. Instead of vowing to change everything that you’re doing “wrong”, stick to one resolution and make it specific. Don’t say “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to eat better”. Instead, say “I’m going to lose 12 pounds” or “I’m going to cover at least half of my plate in vegetables at every meal”. Committing to more than one thing can be overwhelming and make it more likely that you’ll quit before the year’s end.
  • Tell people. Letting your friends and family in on your resolution has two benefits. First, when you feel like you have something to “prove” to others, you generally try harder to make it work. Second, when the supportive people in your life know you have a goal, they help keep you on track. For example, if your best friend knows you’re trying to avoid chocolate, she’s not going to bring over a chocolate bar on girls’ night.
  • Write it down. In addition to telling people your resolution, write it down. If you can, keep it somewhere visible so it serves as a positive reminder every day.
  • Make a plan. Instead of going into your resolution blindly, make a plan to accomplish your goals. If your goal is to lose 12 pounds, write down exactly how you’re going to accomplish that. If your goal is to save money, choose a specific amount and decide how much you can afford to put aside each day to reach that goal.
  • Celebrate small victories. Sure, the ultimate goal is to accomplish what you set out to do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate small victories along the way. Celebrate every half pound you lose or every dollar you save. Celebrate every time you choose broccoli over a potato or you skip the chocolate. Rewarding yourself with positive self-talk along the way will help you stick to your goals.
  • Have fun. Life is meant to be enjoyed. There are times during the year when you’re bound to veer away from your resolution, but you know what? That’s okay. Laugh about it instead of beating yourself up and get right back on track. Nobody’s perfect. As long as you accept that you’re going to slip up once in a while, you’re doing just fine.

Get Choosy With Your Holiday Cocktails – How to Indulge with Breaking the Calorie Bank

The holiday season isn’t just a time where food abounds; it’s also a time where the liquor

Eggnog alone has 223 calories and 11 grams of fat per cup. Skip it!
Eggnog alone has 223 calories and 11 grams of fat per cup. Skip it!

flows like water. Everywhere you look there’s fancy schmancy holiday cocktails – peppermint this or eggnog that – and while it all sounds delicious, having just one of these concoctions can easily put you over your calorie needs for the day. The good news is that it’s possible to indulge a little bit; you just have to know which drinks to choose and which ones to skip.

Alcohol and Weight Gain

Alcohol doesn’t make the cut on many weight loss diets and that’s for good reason. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and in most cases, these are empty calories. This means that every time you throw one back, you’re racking up the calories without getting much else in terms of nutrients. Because alcohol doesn’t fill you up, you’re basically just adding extra calories to your day, which can translate to weight gain over time. A couple of regular beers can cost you 300 calories and a boatload of carbohydrates.

The other reason alcohol is prohibited from a lot of weight loss diets is because it lowers your inhibitions. You might go into the night with every intention of sticking to your diet plan, but after a glass or two of wine, you’re more likely to throw caution to the wind and reach for those appetizers or choose more “comforting” foods like pizza and pasta over a salad. There’s also a greater chance that you’ll be calling up that delivery guy at 2 AM.

Making the Right Choices

While we don’t condone overdoing it on the alcohol, indulging in a couple of cocktails here and there is almost an unavoidable part of the holiday season. The good news is that there are some “better” choices you can make and some tricks of the trade that you can follow so that you can enjoy yourself without seeing a huge difference on the scale.

  • Skip the creamy concoctions. If something is creamy, thick, and smooth, there’s a good chance it’s loaded with calories and sugar. It’s not just the calories from the alcohol you’re getting, it’s extra calories from things like cream, chocolate, and eggnog.
  • Be careful with mixed drinks. While you’re only getting about an ounce of alcohol in a mixed drink – which contributes about 70 calories – the fruit juice, soda, or simple syrup that it’s mixed with is loaded with calories and sugar. If you do prefer a mixed drink, ask for vodka and soda with just a splash of cranberry juice, plenty of ice, and a squeeze of fresh lime.
  • Rethink the Beer. Beer isn’t the worst choice – especially on a holiday drink menu – but regular beers are loaded with carbohydrates and contain a decent amount of calories. Choose light beer instead.
  • Go for wine or champagne. Wine and champagne are typically lower in calories than mixed drinks. They also tend to take longer to drink because you sip them slowly. Bonus points: dilute your wine with some sparkling water and make it a spritzer. You can double the drink for half the calories.

Other Tips

Now that you have a better idea of how to navigate the drink menu, there’s some other things you need to know about drinking while you’re on a weight loss diet.

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Some people fall into the trap of thinking that if they skip dinner, the calories from the drinks they have won’t matter as much. Unfortunately, drinking on an empty stomach can have disastrous effects – you may end up drinking and eating more and you’ll likely feel the effects of the drinks faster. Instead, have a healthy, balanced meal before heading out to your cocktail party.
  • Drink at a pace of no more than one drink per hour. This gives your body time to adjust to the alcohol and helps reduce the chance that you’ll end up drinking to excess.
  • Alternate drinks. It’s easy to drink 2 to 3 cocktails when you’re spending an entire night at a holiday party. Save yourself some calories by alternating cocktails with water. Have an alcoholic beverage then sip on some water with a squeeze of fresh lime before ordering another. Make sure you drink at least one glass of water for every cocktail that you have.

 

The Carbohydrate Manifesto: Are Carbohydrates Good For You?

In the 1990s, fat was the black sheep of the nutrition family. Once the early 2000s rolled

Carbohydrates have their place in a healthy, balanced diet.
Carbohydrates have their place in a healthy, balanced diet.

around, fat was given some slack (although not too much) and the blame for all things evil was put on carbohydrates. Everyone jumped on the low-carbohydrate diet bandwagon and began to see some weight loss results, but along with these results also came a lot of lasting misunderstandings. Well we’re here to clear up those misconceptions and get down to the nitty gritty of what carbohydrates are and whether they should have a place in your diet.

What Exactly are Carbohydrates?

When people hear the word carbohydrates, they automatically have visions of bagels, muffins, and buttery toast dancing in their heads, but that’s not the full story. While it’s true that those foods contain a lot of carbohydrates, they’re not the only ones. Carbohydrates are also found in healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. The term “carbohydrate” can actually encompass everything from refined sugar to applesauce to carrots.

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients that supply you with calories. On a chemical level, a carbohydrate is a unit of sugar. It can be a single sugar – called a monosaccharide; a double sugar – called a disaccharide; or a string of a bunch of sugars linked together – called a polysaccharide.

What Do Carbohydrates Do For You?

The major function of carbohydrates in the body is to provide you with energy. While it’s true that you can get energy from the other macronutrients – protein and fat – your brain and your muscles prefer to run on the glucose they get from carbohydrates.

Should You Eat Carbohydrates?

The short answer to this is yes. Carbohydrates are not the enemy. It’s the foods that seem to be the highest in carbohydrates that tend to contribute to weight gain; and that’s why carbohydrates themselves get a bad rap. What you want to do is avoid foods that pack a huge carbohydrate load without offering much else in terms of nutrition – like the aforementioned bagels, crackers, cookies, muffins, toast, and croissants.

Good Carbs Versus Bad Carbs

We don’t really like to assign foods into a “good carb” or “bad carb” category because a food is not just a carbohydrate. What you need to do is pay attention to the package you’re getting. Is your food full of carbohydrates and sugar, but contains little vitamins and minerals? Skip it. Is your food full of carbohydrates, like fiber, but also packs a wallop in the nutrition department – offering essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes (like an apple, for instance)? Enjoy.

Carbohydrate-Rich Foods to Eat:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Low-Fat Dairy Products
  • Whole grains, like oats and 100% whole wheat bread

Carbohydrate-Rich Foods to Avoid:

  • Desserts
  • Sugar (soda)
  • Refined grains like white bread (bagels and muffins fall into this category), white rice, and white pasta

Healthy Holiday Recipe Makeovers!

ham11
Swap out turkey for ham to save fat and calories and avoid added sugar.

It’s December and that means the holiday season is in full force. You got through Thanksgiving and now it’s time for Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year celebrations. All you want to do is eat, drink, and be merry, but it’s difficult to be merry when you’re having trouble zipping your pants. The last thing you want to do is spend all of January and February undoing the damage you did in November and December. Sure, New Year’s resolutions are good, but if you’ve put on a few pounds over the past month or you feel yourself getting way off track, it’s time to scale back NOW. Don’t wait until January. The holidays don’t have to be an excuse to let your goals fly out the window. You can still stay on track while enjoying all the holidays have to offer.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some popular holiday foods along with some suggestions for making them more weight loss friendly.

Go for Turkey

Ham is a popular choice for a main dish when it comes to the holidays, but most hams are cured with sugar or glazed in maple syrup and loaded with fat. This year, swap the ham for turkey and stick to the white meat, which is packed with protein and lower in calories and fat.

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is an absolute staple at the holiday dinner table, but the rich dish is full of calories, fat, and carbohydrates and a single serving can easily put you over your calorie needs for the day. Try making  a lighter version of mac and cheese by using spaghetti squash instead of noodles and Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream. We found this recipe to get you started.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients, but when you eat in them in the form of a sweet potato casserole, which often contains loads of brown sugar and toasty marshmallows, the bad starts to outweigh the good. Use skim milk instead of cream and only a hint of brown sugar (really, it’s all you need!) for a lighter version of this holiday dish.

Cut Out the Cream

Many people have good intentions by serving spinach, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus with their holiday meals, but they miss the mark when they add lots of cream and cheese to make a “creamed” dish. Instead of serving creamed spinach or Brussels sprouts gratin, stick to roasted versions of the greens. This way, you’ll reap the benefits of the vegetables without taking in a lot of calories. Try this Brussels sprouts recipe or this Broccoli Soffriti.

Lighten Up Dessert

Staying on track doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert altogether, just make some better choices. Try some fresh fruit with some low-fat whipped topping or this fruit trifle.

Quick Tips to Stick To Your Exercise Routine through the Holidays

people-278503_1280The holidays are a busy time – you’re shopping, you’re traveling, you’re going to parties, you’re hosting parties, and you have family and friends visiting from out of town. It’s really easy – and tempting – to say “you know what, I’m just too busy to work out right now, I’ll get back on track after the holidays”, but resist the urge!

Nixing your workout routine is a quick way to pack on the pounds, especially because you’re likely to overindulge in the food department over the next few weeks. Another problem is that if you let yourself fall out of your routine, it’s so much harder to get back into it once the New Year arrives. Instead of foregoing exercise completely, adjust your routine so that it fits into your holiday schedule. In addition to minimizing the potential for holiday weight gain, regular exercise can also reduce your stress levels so that you’re able to tackle your to-do list with greater ease.

Tip #1: Plan ahead. Schedule your workouts like you would any other commitment and treat them as such. You wouldn’t blow off lunch with your best friend at the last minute, would you? So don’t blow yourself off. Literally, write your workouts down on your calendar or put reminders in your phone and stick to it. You may have to juggle some things around or wake up earlier to find the time to exercise, but it will be worth it.

Tip #2: Mix it up. During the holidays you may not be able to hit your local gym 6 days a week like you usually do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Use what you’ve got and workout whenever and wherever you can. If you’re traveling, go for a walk or hit the local gym and see if you can score a free week pass. If you have houseguests, ask them if they want to go for a hike or a bike ride to see the town.

Tip #3: Combine your commitments. On the days you have prior commitments, turn those commitments into exercise. If you’re getting together with your siblings, nieces and nephews, turn it into an adventure. Go hiking or sledding or swimming at an indoor pool instead of going out to lunch or sitting around the house. If you turn family time into an activity, you can kill two birds with one stone.

Tip #4: Adjust your expectations. You may not be able to get in hour-long workouts every day during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Many people take an all-or-nothing approach to exercise, and that’s counterproductive. Just because you can’t fit in an hour of exercise doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Do circuit exercises – which combine cardio exercise with strength training – for 20 minutes. You’ll scorch more calories in less time, getting more bang for your buck.

Tip #5: Partner up. It’ll be easier to quit your routine if you feel like you’re the only person in the world staying on track during the holidays. Instead of going it alone, make a pact with a friend or family member to hold each other accountable. You can schedule workouts together or just make it a point to check in with each other every day – or a few times a week – to make sure that you’re sticking to your routine. When you’re accountable to someone else, you’re less likely to veer off track.