Monthly Archives: January 2015

Valentine’s Day Ideas That Don’t Involve Dinner

VM loveGoing out to eat has become a favorite pastime and a go-to social event. Night out with the girls? Dinner and cocktails. Date night? Movie and a romantic dinner. Business meeting? Lunch with your boss. It seems like no matter what the event, food is always involved. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but when you’re trying to lose weight, the temptation of your favorite meals (in rather large portions might we add) at your favorite restaurants can be too much to bear.

We know that Valentine’s Day is a special occasion so you may have worked it into your plan to splurge a little bit, but since the special day falls on a Saturday this year, we thought it would be fun to suggest some things you could do instead of the standard dinner date.

Go For a Hike

Instead of waiting ‘til nightfall, grab your honey and hit those trails midday. You’ll be able to take in some fresh air all while spending some quality time catching up with each other without the interruption of a lot of people around. The added bonus: instead of eating too many calories, you’ll actually be burning them!

Sunset Walk

The sun rises and falls every single day and yet many of us miss the chance to just stop for a moment and really look. Valentine’s Day is a great time to take a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood or a local park and then sit down on a blanket and just enjoy the beauty of the earth while you also enjoy your company. You can also schedule your hike so that you reach the top at sunset.

Dance Lessons

Have you ever wanted to learn to salsa? Well now’s the time! Taking a dance lesson is a wonderful way to bond with your partner or get close to a new fling while also having a few laughs AND burning calories. Just don’t take yourself too seriously and you’re in for a treat!

Couple’s Massage

If you’re overworked and over-stressed, or if you just need a little down time for some pampering, a couple’s massage may be just the thing you need on Valentine’s Day. Massages can boost immunity, reduce pain, and relieve stress so you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of your night. If you’re really lucky, you may even be able to get two massage therapists to come to your house so you don’t have to step foot outside your door.

Cooking Lessons

Okay, so this isn’t avoiding food entirely BUT cooking lessons are a great way to have some fun while also learning how to cook your own meals at home. You can even make it more beneficial to you by choosing a cooking class that focuses on healthy cooking or making clean meals. You’ll have fun and learn a life skill that you can carry with you into the future.

Comedy Show

You know what they say – laughter is the best medicine. Grab your date and go hit a comedy show. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big name comedian or a local stand-up comedian at your neighborhood bar. Spending the night laughing is a great way to get rid of some stress and really let go.

Snacking and Weight Loss: Do They Mix?

walnutsThe weight loss industry is probably one of the most difficult to navigate. It’s hard to figure out what’s true, what’s a gimmick, and who’s just trying to take your money. That being said, it’s no wonder there’s so much conflicting advice out there. Well here at Valley Medical, we’re big fans of debunking common weight loss myths. We want you to know the truth and nothing but the truth so here’s the myth we’re going to tackle today: you should never snack when you’re trying to lose weight.

Many people blame snacking for weight gain (or lack of weight loss), but it’s not snacking in general that’s to blame, it’s the choice of snack. While it’s tempting to choose chips or cookies from that vending mention during that afternoon slump, these are the types of foods that give snacking a bad rap. They are full of calories and fat, but don’t contain any real healthful nutrients. They also don’t contain the fiber and protein that you need to stay satisfied until dinner time so it’s easy to overdo it and take in way too many calories.

The point of snacking is to choose balanced, portion-controlled foods that help keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day so that you’re not ravenous by dinner or lunch time. When you do this, you may actually be able to stay within your calorie recommendations better than if you were to avoid snacks completely. Choosing foods that you wouldn’t typically eat with meals, like fruits or nuts, can also help maximize your nutrient intake for the day, making sure you’re taking in everything that you need.

So how do you figure out what’s a healthy weight-loss snack and what isn’t? Ideally, each snack should be fewer than 200 calories and contain a balance of protein and carbohydrates and even some healthy fat. Think of a snack as more of a mini meal and only snack if you’re hungry. Snacking shouldn’t be a mindless activity that’s meant to fill time. While the options for healthy snacks are plentiful, we thought we’d get you started by providing this list of healthy snack ideas.

  • Sliced banana with a tablespoon of sugar-free peanut or almond butter
  • ¼ cup nuts and a small piece of fruit
  • Carrots, celery sticks and/or cucumber slices with 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 6 ounces of low-fat yogurt with berries or a tablespoon of chopped nuts
  • ½ cup low-fat cottage with a small piece of fruit or cut up veggies
  • Celery sticks with low-fat cream cheese
  • A hard-boiled eggs and ¼ cup of nuts
  • An ounce of low-fat cheese with ½ cup of grapes
  • 1 slice of whole grain bread with peanut or almond butter
  • ½ cup homemade trail mix: mixture of almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried raisins, and shelled sunflower seeds

Let’s Talk about Squash, Baby (Spaghetti Squash, That Is)!

spaghetti squash

There’s a new bad boy (ok, vegetable) in town and its name is spaghetti squash. Although spaghetti squash has been around since the late 1800s, it has become increasingly popular as of late as a lower carbohydrate substitute for pasta. While spaghetti squash doesn’t taste exactly like the real thing, it definitely does the trick of satisfying that pasta craving while also providing heaps more essential vitamins and minerals.

Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

One of the more well-known benefits of spaghetti squash is that it’s lower in carbohydrates than traditional pasta. A cup of spaghetti squash contains only 7 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of spaghetti clocks in at 43 grams. That’s only part of the appeal, though. Spaghetti squash is also full of fiber and contains other important nutrients, like vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. And at only 32 calories per cup (compared to spaghetti’s 221), you really can’t go wrong.

Preparing Spaghetti Squash

If you’ve never dealt with a spaghetti squash, it can feel intimidating at first; but once you get used to it, preparing and cooking a spaghetti squash is actually quite simple. There are two ways you can cook a spaghetti squash. The first is to cut it BEFORE you cook it. To do this you’ll need a sharp knife and a spoon. Cut off the top of the spaghetti squash and then use your knife to slice it in half lengthwise. Be VERY careful with this step. Some squashes can be pretty tough to get through. Once you’ve gotten it open, scoop out the seeds with a spoon (just like you would do to a pumpkin). Lay each half cut side up on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper and bake on 375 degrees for about 45 minutes (or until fork tender). Your cooking time will vary based on the size of the squash. Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape out the insides. You’ll see that the squash pulls away from the skin in strands that resemble spaghetti.

(For a picture tutorial of this first method, click here.)

The other way to cook spaghetti squash is to just throw the whole thing in the oven without cutting it. Cook it at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes (or until fork tender). When it’s done cooking, cut it down the middle with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds, and shred. This way saves you the potential hassle of cutting the tough skin pre-cooking, but be sure to let the squash cool a little bit before you cut into it because it will be hot!

Some Recipes to Get You Started

Spaghetti squash is absolutely delicious on its own with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, but if you’re looking for something a little fancier, there are TONS of recipes out there to get you started. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites below. Let us know what you think when you try it!

Almost 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie
Spaghetti Pie
Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs
Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash (use low-fat ricotta and skim-milk mozzarella to lighten this dish up)

Staying on Track with Your Weight Loss: Your Guide to Eating Out Healthy

In a perfect world, every meal available at your favorite restaurants would be flawlessly restauranttailored to your weight loss plan. Portions would be precise and chefs would only use fresh, ingredients, making sure to include lots of veggies. But we live in this world; and although many restaurants are coming around by making menus that appeal to a more health-conscious crowd, it’s still possible to easily overdo it when eating out. Sure, the best way to know EXACTLY what you’re eating is to just prepare all your food at home, but sometimes you need to have a night out. Eating out doesn’t mean that you need to throw all caution to the wind, though. We’ll teach you how to navigate a menu to make the best choices and provide some tips on how to prevent temptation so that you can leave the restaurant feeling good.

Skip the Bread

A big basket of warm, fresh bread dipped in garlicky olive oil would probably be a temptation for anyone. If you’re at a restaurant that serves bread, ask them to take it away from the table. When it’s out of your sight, you’re far less likely to munch while you’re chatting and waiting for your food. If you’re with a group that won’t agree to removing the bread from the table, pop a piece of gum in your mouth. The fresh mint will make it less likely that you mindlessly reach for a piece of bread since the combination of flavors wouldn’t taste that great anyway.

Navigating the Menu

Some restaurants make it easy for you by putting healthier dishes in their own section, but others have the lighter fare scattered throughout the menu. Look through the menu for the words “baked”, “broiled”, or “steamed”. These terms indicate that the food was prepared using heat without extra added fat (and calories), while words like “fried”, “breaded”, or “crispy” mean that the food was rolled in some type of breadcrumbs and then cooked in fat.

You also want to choose dishes that allow you to pick your sides. When choosing sides, opt for green veggies, like broccoli or green beans, and double up on them. Skip cheesy or creamy side dishes. Ask the waiter to have the chef lightly steam the veggies and then toss them in a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper instead of frying them or tossing them in a vat of butter.

Start with a Salad

Start your meal with a light, fresh salad, but don’t assume that all salads are healthy. Some have toppings, like cheese, nuts, and croutons, that quickly add up the calories. Choose a salad that’s just a mixture of different types of veggies and drizzle it with some oil and vinegar instead of creamy bleu cheese or ranch dressing. The goal is to start filling up on fresh veggies before your meal comes so you won’t be as tempted to overindulge.

Practice Portion Control Early

Restaurants are notorious for serving astronomical sized portions, and while this is nice in the sense that you’re getting what you pay for, it’s not nice for your waistline. While you may have good intentions to only eat half of your meal, it can be easy to overeat, especially if you’re eating one of your favorite meals. Ask the waiter to bring a to-go container with your meal. Before you even start to eat, put half of it in the to-go container and set it aside. You’ll get two meals for the price of one.

Product of the Month! Skip-a-Meal Replacement Shake

skip a meal

As you may know by now, we run a special every month. With this special you receive 4 WEEKS of everything listed below for only $295 (that’s a savings of over $200)!

Physician Consult & Weekly Weigh-ins
Meal Plans
FDA Approved Medications
MetaBlast Supplements
Craveaway Supplements
Weekly Upgraded Injection of B-12
Bi-Weekly Injection of Lipo X
Full Body Analysis on our BODYCOMP Scale
Product of the Month

You might have noticed that there’s a “product of the month” listed, but you’re probably thinking “what is it??”. Well we’re glad you asked. We like to keep things fresh and interesting over here at Valley Medical by changing the product of the month every month. This month we’re offering the Skip-a-Meal Replacement Shake by Progressive Laboratories.

The Skip-a-Meal Replacement Shake is a whey protein meal replacement shake that serves as a high-protein, low calorie replacement for a higher calorie meal. You can replace one meal with a shake each day, or all three meals. It’s totally up to you.

In addition to being low in calories (only 192 per serving!), the shake is also loaded with several vitamins and minerals so it serves as a balanced nutrition source, just like a healthy meal would. One serving of the Skip-a-Meal replacement shakes provides at least 30% (in some cases, it provides 35%) of each of these vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, biotin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and copper. So if you’re drinking the meal replacement three times a day, you don’t have to worry about getting the nutrients you need.

A single serving of the shake also provides 24 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber but only 2 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fat. The even better news? One tub contains 15 servings and you get it FREE when you sign up for our monthly special. Choose from vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.

Have questions about our monthly special or our product of the month? Call us at either location!

Phoenix: 602-374-3374
Tempe: 480-968-5673

Some of The Worst Weight Loss Advice We’ve Ever Heard

“Eat Your Veggies” is some weight loss advice we can get on board with.

Everywhere you turn, there is someone waiting to give you advice about the best way to lose weight. Maybe it’s to drink only lemon water with cayenne pepper for 7 straight days or to stand on your head while eating breakfast and dinner or to spin around in circles while eating each meal to burn off some calories in the process. Okay, obviously these examples are way out there and totally extreme, but here’s our point: just because someone swears that some ridiculous technique worked for their friend or their sister or their cousin doesn’t mean it’s sound weight loss advice.

Really, there’s no quick fix to weight loss. You have to put in the time and the effort: eating right, exercising, and taking the proper supplements that can help you boost your results. To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve complied some of the worst weight loss advice we’ve ever heard.

  1. A calorie is a calorie. Okay, we know that you have to restrict calories to lose weight, but that’s not ALL you have to pay attention to. People who say “a calorie is a calorie” are basically saying that it doesn’t matter where the calories are coming from as long as you’re staying within your calorie needs. I mean sure, you might technically be able to lose weight eating 1,200 calories of potato chips and nothing else every day, but would you be healthy? No. Would you be satisfied during the day? Definitely not. It’s much better to optimize the amount of food you’re able to eat each day by choosing tons of low-calorie vegetables and pairing them with whole grains and lean meats. This way, 1,200 calories will go a longer way and you’ll be getting all the nutrients you need to keep you healthy and energized.
  2. If you skip breakfast, you’ll save calories and lose more weight. Skipping breakfast is one of the worst things you can do for your weight loss efforts. When you skip breakfast, you tend to get so ravenous throughout the day that you end up overeating and consuming way more calories than you would have if you started your day with a balanced meal. Instead of skipping breakfast, have some plain oatmeal topped with fresh fruit and raw nuts or a couple of eggs scrambled with a ton of veggies.
  3. Ditch the Carbohydrates. First it was fat, then it was carbohydrates, but the truth is, there is no one single nutrient that is responsible for weight gain. All of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) have a place in your weight loss diet. Instead of ditching the carbohydrates, you just need to make better choices – nutrient-dense sources that are minimally processed. This means including fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy products, legumes (like beans and lentils), and whole grains in your calorie-conscious diet.
  4. You don’t have to pay attention to portion size as long as you’re eating healthy foods. Just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want. Healthy foods still contain calories so if you overdo it, you may find yourself gaining weight. Always be conscious of portion sizes and make sure to fill at least half of your plate with veggies.
  5. Just eat the same thing every day. There isn’t a faster way to fall off the diet wagon than to allow yourself to get bored with the foods you’re eating. While we’re advocates of keeping things simple – you don’t have to attempt to cook gourmet meals every night and leftovers are certainly you’re friend – you shouldn’t eat the same thing day after day. If you do, you’ll start to get bored and start looking for some excitement in the foods you probably shouldn’t be eating. Instead, experiment with new, healthy foods and come up with some simple recipes that you’ll enjoy.

Breaking News: The Hottest Fitness Trends of 2015

With body weight training, you use resistance bands in all sorts of different ways to get a full body workout.
With body weight training, you use resistance bands in all sorts of different ways to get a full body workout.

The New Year may have just started, but researchers are already taking some educated guesses as to what the hottest fitness trends of the 2015 will be. CrossFit – a training program that gives you a full body workout using elements of cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics, and core training – was all the rage in 2014, but will the still popular workout take the crown in 2015? Not necessarily. The American College of Sports Medicine seems to think that more and more individuals will turn to body weight training, functional training, and the super short workout instead.

Body Weight Training

The basic idea behind body weight training is exactly what it sounds like – you rely on your body weight to get a full body workout. Body weight training may include the use of workout gear like resistance bands and cables, but it doesn’t involve using any heavy gym equipment like weights or cardio machines. One of the major benefits of body weight training is that it tends to be cheaper than other types of workouts and since you only need your body and a few inexpensive resistance bands, you can pretty much do it anytime and anywhere. Another benefit to body weight training is that you’re less likely to injury yourself because you’re not using heavy weights or trying to learn how to use a workout machine that you’ve never even seen before.

Functional Training

“Functional” is a huge buzzword right now. Functional doctors, functional nutritionists, and now functional training are making huge headway in the health field. So what exactly does “functional” mean? As far as training goes, the word functional describes focusing on things like developing proper posture and increasing flexibility and balance instead of cardio and strength training. The idea behind functional training is that when you correct your posture and increase your balance and flexibility, your fitness level will increase and you will experience harmony between your muscles and joints and an increased range of motion. So does that translate to weight loss? Not as much as cardio, strength training, and body weight training, but it does improve your overall health, which is extremely important.

Super Short Workout

In a world of people that are so pressed for time, it’s no surprise that the super short workout is slated to be one of the biggest fitness trends of 2015. Just like it sounds, the super short workout aims to get all the benefits of a 30-minute exercise session in less than half the time. Most super short workouts rely on interval training, which alternates a minute of high-intensity exercise with a minute of lower-intensity exercise. You repeat this 2-minute alternating cycle anywhere from 5 to 10 times and then you’re done. It may seem like the easy way out, but you really do get a lot of bang for your buck with these workouts. Plus, a study found that people at risk of diabetes who participated in 12 minutes of these interval style workouts 3 times a day were able to control their blood sugar levels better than people who participated in a continuous 30-minute walk instead. This brings us back to the 7-minute workout app we discussed in our previous post. Maybe these fitness gurus are on to something!