Friday, December 31, 2010

This New Years, when it comes to your fitness resolution, don't just talk the talk.....

             RUN THE RUN.......
        New Years resolutions to get fit and lose weight are very popular. You may even have made one last year yourself. Did you keep it? Well if you didn't, you're not alone. Only 20 percent of  people that make fitness resolutions keep them.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't make losing weight a top priority for 2011. Here are 10 things you can do to help strengthen your New Years Resolution to get fit....
   1.   Weigh yourself
       Step on the scale and find out what you weigh. I know this may be difficult to do if you haven't weighed yourself in a while and you don't really want to know how much you weigh. However, you must know where your are to determine how much you need or want to lose.  Weekly monitoring of your weight is crucial to determine if what you are doing is working and when you may need to tweak certain areas of your program.

2. Figure out how many calories you are eating each day.
      Most people are consuming way too many calories to either lose weight or maintain their weight loss. It is important to find out how many calories you are consuming now before you start eating clean. After you know what you are consuming now, you can figure out how many calories you need to cut from your diet.  Keep a food journal for a few days (make at least one a weekend day) before you start changing what you eat. Write down everything you eat and the calories that each food contains. When deciding how many calories you should cut from your diet, remember that 3500 calories equals 1 pound and it is safe to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

3. Clean out your kitchen
   You will not be able to resist all of your favorite snacks and sugary treats if they are in your cabinets calling your name. So it is crucial to get rid of them (and I don't mean eat them til they are all gone, you aren't a garbage can...)  and stock your kitchen with clean foods and snacks. If you are unsure of  how to eat clean you can start by reading through my old blog posts (I have some links at the bottom of this blog)  or pick up some clean eating books and magazines for tips. If your favorite snacks are your kids snack of choice, find some other things they can eat that might be healthier for them and less tempting for you!

4. Schedule time that you will workout 5-7 times a week.
   It is crucial for you to schedule time to work out 5-7 times a week for 30-60 minutes a day. I know that sounds like a lot, however studies this year have found that people need to actually workout 60-90 minutes a day to lose weight and keep it off. So if you are just starting a workout program begin with 30-60 min. It is actually the bare minimum you should be doing.
  When you are thinking about when you will workout for the week,  actually block off time each day. Don't schedule anything during that time. If you are having trouble finding free time, wake up an hour earlier or workout during your lunch hour.

 5. Write down specific short term and long term goals
     Everyone says they want to lose weight and get in shape but what does that really mean for you? In order for your resolution to really get results you need to create specific goals for yourself that will be challenging yet attainable.
  Think of your long term goal first. Do you want to lose 10, 20 or 50 lbs? Since it is best to lose between 1-2 lbs a week you can then plan how long it should take you to lose the amount you need to. 
  Then create smaller specific goals for yourself. These can be about your nutrition and exercise goals.
 For example,
  For the first week I am going to give up diet sodas and fried foods. I am also going to decrease my daily total calories by 250 calories and workout 4 days this week expending another 250 calories each day through exercise.
 When you make specific daily and weekly goals, and fulfill them, you feel as though you are accomplishing something important everyday as you work towards your ultimate goal. This will keep you motivated and on track, especially in the beginning when you might not see results as quickly as you would like.

6. Start lifting   
    Begin a strength training program 3 times at week, so that you can build muscle and burn more calories. If you are a women over 30 (yes you!) then strength training it crucial to losing weight.

7. Find out your fitness level and create a program that will get progressively harder
    When trying to lose weight it is important to continually challenge your body to work harder, but not so hard that you injure yourself or overtrain and become exhausted. Objectively assess what your fitness level is. If you are a beginner, do not try and go out and run 5 miles the first day or do 3 sets of 10lb weights! But do challenge yourself so that you break a sweat.
     If you have been working out for a while now ,but aren't seeing the results you would like, its probably time to kick it up a notch.
     If you are unsure where to begin or how to challenge yourself,  consider hiring a personal trainer, at least for a session or two, so that they can show you how to begin a workout program that will be safe and get results. If you already belong to a gym, your membership might come with a free trainer session. Take advantage of it. If you don't go to a gym or wish for a little more privacy and one on one attention, you can hire someone to come to your house to train you. It is important to only hire a trainer if they are NCAA certified. There are a few good certifying agencies, but since I am an Ace Certified trainer, I am admittedly biased towards Ace. If you would like, you can find one in your area through this link

** Always check with your physician before starting a new exercise and eating program**

8. Share your resolution with at least one other person you see on a regular basis
    An important tool to keep you on track with your resolution is to be accountable to someone else. Pick someone who is close to you, will be supportive and push you to stay on track. Tell them what your goals are and what you will be doing to accomplish them.

9. Make your resolution a priority and understand that it might be difficult at times
    You will probably be making some serious changes to your diet and exercise routine and we all know that change can be difficult. It's true that it takes 21 days to make something new into a habit. When you stop eating processed foods and and start eating clean there will definitely be a period of stress and adjustment. But if just knowing this before you begin is helpful. If you stick with it, you will soon feel more energetic and start seeing the weight come off.

10. Believe that you can
     You may feel overwhelmed with the thought of trying to lose weight... again.  However, even if you have tried and failed in the past,  you CAN be successful this year.
  Believe in yourself.  I know you can do it.
  As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Here are a few links to some of my 2010 blog posts that may help you on your journey:
How to eat clean
How to create a vision board to keep you motivated
Count calories and Portion Control is Key
Clean Eating Shopping List
Start Strength Training
How to increase your intensity

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just put one foot infront of the other.....


Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you'll be walkin' 'cross the flo-o-or
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' out the door.

You never will get where you're goin'
If you never get up on your feet
Come on! There's a good tail wind blowin'
A fast walkin' man is hard to beat!
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin 'cross the flo-o-or
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walkin' out the door.

If you want to change your direction
If you're time of life is at hand
Well don't be the rule -- be the exception

A good way to start is to stand.

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
Oh, you do?!
You mean that it's just my election
Just that!
To vote for a chance to be reborn.

You put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walkin' 'cross the flo-o-or
You put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walkin' out the door!

Kris Kringle wasn't talking about losing weight, but he could have been. His message was perfect.
You control your destiny.
You get to decide who and what you will be.
 If your not happy with what you see in the mirror, just change. It really is that simple.
 It doesn't matter if you have been overweight for a few years or for as long as you can remember. You are not defined by your past. You can create the future you want. Don't be scared to dream big for yourself. Change is possible.
It's Christmas time. The best gift you can give yourself is a healthy future.
So take the first step. It's always the hardest. But once you start, you will become stronger and healthier.

If you don't know where to start, look through my old blog posts. I have outlined how to start eating clean and how to add exercise into your routine.

And if you have any personal questions you would like to have answered, just email me, I'ld love to help.

I know you can do it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How to come out of your Thanksgiving Day Coma....

 Okay, so did you eat waaay too much Turkey, stuffing and pie like I did on Thanksgiving??
 Have you been eating leftovers for two days because you don't want them to go to waste? I hear you! Me too. 
  So now that we are feeling more stuffed than our turkey was, here are some tips to get you back on track this week....

1 Don't starve yourself for the next week....
 If you are feeling guilty that you probably consumed 3000 calories a day for the past 3 or 4 days and you think a great solution would be to eat very little for the next week, DON'T! Dropping your calories down to very low levels will bring your metabolism to a screeching halt! Whatever damage you did over the past few days should be put behind you. Start again fresh this week aiming for the calorie count that fits your activity level and weight loss goals.  ( It will probably be somewhere between 1500-1800 calories a day. Do not drop below 1200 calories!) If you are unsure how many calories you need to consume  Click here for calorie calculator
   Remember though, when you get the results, the calorie amount listed will be for maintaining the weight you are at. The heavier you are/and the more active you are, the higher your calorie needs will be TO MAINTAIN YOUR WEIGHT.  So the amount of calories that the calculator gives you may seem high. If you are over weight,  you can safely cut down your calories by 250-500 calories a day and workout to burn an additional 250-500 calories a day. This would give you a weight loss of between 1-2 lbs a week because 3500 cal is equal to 1 pound. Keep a food journal everyday and calculate the calories you consumed so that you can make sure you are not eating too much or too little.

2. Get back to Portion Control:
   One of the most important tools to keep your calorie count in line is portion control. Thanksgiving Dinner definitely encourages us eat Fred Flintstone size portions of everything! So it's important to size our meals back down to normal portions this week. Click here to read my blog about portion control

 3. Watch Your Sodium
  Chances are the stuffing, mashed potatoes and appetizers were loaded with sodium. This will definitely increase your water retention and make you feel as though you gained more weight than you might have. So pay close attention to the food you eat these next few weeks. Aim to keep your sodium intake to 1500 mg a day. In order to do this, you need to cut out all processed foods which are extremely high in sodium. Make soups and meals from scratch. If you are crunched for time, make meals in advance that you can eat throughout the week.

4. Avoid Alcohol
   Avoid drinking alcohol for the next week or so. (longer if you are serious about losing weight)

5. Avoid White Sugar and Refined Carbs
  You probably ate a lot of pie and potatoes this Thanksgiving. Your body sees them all the same... excess carbs which can be stored as fat. This week, be careful to watch your sugar and carb intake. Note that I am not saying to avoid all carbs. It's still important to eat complex carbs and fruit.  click here to read my blog about the difference between refined carbs and complex carbs. Make sure you eat complex carbs at breakfast and lunch and for your afternoon snack. If you are trying to lose weight, skip the grains at dinner and just have your protein and unlimited steamed veggies.

6. Eat Fiber!
  After having a couple very big meals back to back, there is a good chance your not feeling quite right today.... oh, you know what I mean. So be mindful of getting enough fiber this week. Aim for 25-35 grams a day. Go slow, because too much fiber, too quickly can give you excess gas and make you feel uncomfortable as well. You can find fiber in legumes,vegetables, fruit with the skin and whole grains. Beans, broccoli, oatmeal, raspberries and whole grain breads are a few examples.

7. Drink Plenty of Water
  It's not a cliche... Water is good for you. Period.
  It really helps your body perform at its best.
  Drink lots of water to help the fiber move everything through your body. Water will help you feel fuller so that you don't over eat this week. It will also help you feel energized for your workouts. Oh, by the way, drink water instead of soda!

8. Exercise!!!
 It's important that you fit in working out this week. It would also be a good idea to step it up a little. I know you're busy, but adding a couple strength training and cardio sessions to your week (you only need 30-60 minutes a day, it seems like a lot when you are busy but try to take the time you use to watch a tv show or mess around on facebook for something more positive for yourself...) will really help you burn calories and rev up your metabolism. It will also help you feel more energetic and less stressed during this busy time of year.

9. Get enough rest
 You were probably running around like a turkey with it's head cut off this past week. Cooking, cleaning, black Friday shopping...You will also be crazy busy for the next month. So it's important to get enough sleep so that your body can recover from the excess stress you are putting on it. Click here to read my blog about the connection between sleep and weight loss and tips to help you sleep better

 I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We all deserve to eat a little too much yummy food sometimes. But now lets get back on track before Christmas comes around!!!!

Let me know if you need any extra support during this holiday season. I'll be glad to give you some specific advice if you send me an email!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Warm up to Working Out, in Cold Weather!

             Even though it is November 23rd, this year we Chicagoans are secretly hoping winter will never come. Who can blame us? We have been enjoying gorgeous fall weather with temperatures in the 50's,60's and some 70's for most of October and November. (Yesterday was 68!) But as they say, all good things must come to an end and we know that the freezing cold and snow are undoubtedly headed our way!
     So now as we settle into our long cold winter, are we forced to workout only indoors?
     Not necessarily.
    Although there will surely be days that we can't workout outside, due to extreme cold, too much snow or icy conditions, there will be lots of opportunities to get our run on outdoors, breathe in some fresh air, and dream of spring....

   Some great benefits to exercising outdoors in the cold weather are....
* Running in the cool and cold temperatures can feel invigorating. I personally hate running when it is hot, so although the first few minutes of running in the cold feels like a shock, I actually really enjoy it once I warm  up!
*We often spend most of our time indoors during the winter months and the lack of natural sunlight can contribute to feelings of depression. Getting outside for 30 minutes a day when the sun is out, can make you feel much happier.
*We often don't have time to head to the gym, but we might have 30 minutes to squeeze in a quick walk/run. Exercising outside often is the most convenient way to get in your cardio when our time is limited.
* During the winter months if we don't go outside, we often lose a lot of the cardio gains we have made over the previous spring and summer.

  Benefits of exercising in the winter....
*Working out at a moderate intensity at least 5 days a week helps reduce number of colds you will get.
*Working out helps beat the stress of the holidays
* Studies have shown people do not lose the weight they gain over the holidays, so exercising in the winter, can really helps avoid that pitfall.

 However there are some concerns and precautions you need to be aware of before working out in the cold....
 Obviously, The biggest concern when we work out in the cold is excessive heat loss which can result in hypothermia and frostbite. The cold weather can also cause a generalized vasoconstriction that can increase peripheral resistance and blood pressure.  This can cause serious problems for people who are hypertensive or have heart disease. People with asthma should also be careful because the cold weather can decrease their lung function and may trigger an asthma attack.
 Here are some tips to stay safe while working out in the coldweather:
1.Wear Layers:
  The most important thing about working out in the cold is to stay warm and the best way to do this is to wear layers. You will want to have more layers on as you begin your workout and when you are finished. As you progress through your workout and your core temperature rises you will have the option of taking some layers off until you feel comfortable.
 Layering rules: 
Avoid wearing cotton material and tightly woven fabric close to your skin.
These materials will stay wet and therefore cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin. This will increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise and increase your chill as you cool down.
  Instead, choose shirts and tights that are made from fabrics such as Polypropylene for your first layer against your skin. This layer should be tight against your skin so that it can protect you from the wind and chilly air. It will also wick away moisture from your skin and retain insulating properties that keep your body warm when wet.
  A good choice for a second layer should be wool,  or polyester to soak up moisture and give you a good layer of warmth.
 The third, outer layer can be a fabric such as gortex to keep the wind and chill out. You also want to choose a color that contrasts with the whiteness of the snow so that vehicles can see you clearly.  If you are exercising when there isn't a lot of light out. (Even during the day, the light can be very dim when it is cloudy out) Wear something that has a reflective material on it.

2. Wear a hat and scarf
  I know that a lot of women hate wearing hats! However, heat loss from your head and neck may be as much as 50 percent of the total heat being lost by your body. It is critical for you to wear a hat when exercising in the cold. Buy a hat that is made for exercise. It should have a lining inside that is made of a synthetic material to wick away moisture from your scalp and a warm outer layer that protects your head from the cold. Your scarf should also be made of the same moisture wicking material. Place it over your mouth when the air feels cold, to warm it up before it goes into your lungs.

3. Keep your hands and feet warm. 
  When it is cold out, our body keeps heat towards our core to protect our organs, so our fingers and toes lose heat first. Wear mittens and athletic socks made for exercising in cold weather.

4. Always check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold.
  Data from the National Safety Council suggest little danger to individuals with properly clothed skin exposed at 20° F, even with a 30 mph wind. However, a danger does exist for individuals with exposed skin when the wind-chill factor (a combined effect of temperature and wind) falls below –20° F. So if the weather is too cold, stay indoors for your workout until the temperature warms up a bit.

5. Stay hydrated!
  It's just as important to drink water before, during (if possible) and after exercising even when it's cold. When it's cold, we often don't feel as thirsty as when it is hot out. However, even if you don't feel thirsty, you are losing body fluids when you sweat and these must be replaced. You should aim for a 1:1 ratio of lost fluid to fluid replacement. A good guideline of how much to drink is to stay ahead of your thirst. You can check if you are drinking enough by the color of your urine. If it you are adequately hydrated your urine will be clear or a pale yellow. If it is dark, you need to increase your water intake. Coffee doesn't count as a hydrating beverage because caffeine actually dehydrates us. So drink water after your coffee!  Because everyone sweats at a different rate, a good general recommendation is to  drink 3-6 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise.

6. Increase your warm up time and decrease intensity.
   Your muscles are less flexible when it is cold out so make sure you warm up for at least 5- 10 minutes before going into your full intensity to prevent an injury. Also, extreme temperatures can add stress to your body, so decrease the intensity of your workout when it is very cold.  Come inside to stretch when you are done, because as you cool down, you are more susceptible to getting chilled and your muscles will get cold fast.

7.Watch out for dangerous sidewalk and road conditions:
   Even if the sidewalks look clear there can be a thin layer of ice on them, especially early in the morning. So check the sidewalks and roads when you head out. Slowing down your pace, will help you assess the conditions of roads.

**Anyone with a medical condition should check with their doctor before working out in the cold weather. If you are working out in the cold and feel unwell, get help immediately****

  Here are a few links to some of my favorite cold weather gear products. My favorite brand is UnderArmour. Their clothes look great and really keep you warm! You can buy them online or they are available at Sporting Good stores in different colors!

***Women's Underarmour compression cold gear tights These are my favorite! These compression tights make your legs feel like you can run forever while keeping them warm! They are a must buy!!!

Cold Gear fleece Top- This top is great as an outer layer over the turtle neck or a second layer covered by another wind protecting layer. It's super soft and cozy! It comes in really nice colors. It has a little zip pocket on sleeve to keep a key and some money in and really keeps you warm.

Cold Weather Hat with lining This hat keeps you warm and wicks moisture from your head. It comes in cute colors too!

Cold Gear Turtle Neck These shirts are a PERFECT first layer. They are fitted so you don't get that frosty chill up your stomach and back and they pull the moisture away from you so you feel warm. They come in lots of great colors. Don't shy away from fitted clothes because you feel like you need to lose weight. You can wear something less tight over it, no one will see...

What are your favorite cold weather products? Let me know if you venture out in the cold and how it goes!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CHOOSE, MOVE, REFUSE: Avoiding the Slippery Slope of Holiday Weight Gain Between Halloween and New Years...

The weeks between Halloween and New Years are a slippery slope.
   Our clean eating starts to slide with the Halloween candy we have to finish up, then really goes down hill due to our extra busy schedules and tons of holiday parties! By the middle of November we have tossed all of our good intentions to eat clean out the window and decide to start again after January 1st!
   However, this is not a good plan. Studies have shown people gain anywhere between 1-7 lbs over the holidays and this weight is not lost during the new year.
  But you can do things differently this year!! If you stick to my 3 rules for holiday season weight maintenance,  you can enjoy yourself, eat some yummy food and not gain weight....

   The 3 rules are:
1.   CHOOSE:
     Decide ahead of time when you will indulge.....a little. And stick to it.

  If you do not want to gain the usual 2-5 lbs over the holiday season, you cannot eat every time that you are presented with yummy treats.  And there will be a lot of them...
Holiday Parties
Friends Homes (bowls of candies and cookies laid out)
Family Gatherings
Shopping with Friends (stopping for a holiday coffee)
School Parties
Office Parties/lunches/bowls of candies and cookies in lunch room
etc. etc...

    So, you must CHOOSE which of these special occasions you will splurge at and which you won't. Remember you should only choose a very few to indulge at. 
  Think about all of the events that you know you will be attending.  Pick out the most important ones to you. For example, For me they are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and a special party night before Thanksgiving.
 When you are deciding which events you will splurge on, remember,
*You don't need to have a treat at every special event you go to. Which ones are most meaningful to you?
*You don't need to eat every time others around you are eating.
*Pick a few special events that have food that you don't usually have during the year, that represents the holiday in a significant way. For example, I make homemade Cinnamon buns for every Christmas morning and we all eat them with coffee and hot chocolate while we open our presents. I wouldn't miss that for the world!  What are yours?

 2. MOVE
  The second rule to avoid sliding down the slippery slope is to move! And by move , I mean exercise.
Now I understand that we are all extra busy at this time of year and exercising often gets put to the bottom of our to do list. However,  it is crucial to find at least 30 minutes a day to workout. If you have to, get up early and exercise or workout at lunch time. Dust off your treadmill or stationary bike and put it in front of the TV. Jump on at night instead of snacking.  Start using that gym membership you bought months ago and never use, or hire a personal trainer to come to your home and work you out.
  Working out will also help you relieve all of that holiday stress.  Let's face it, the holidays are the best time of the year, but dinner with your crazy relatives can get a little stressful! (Or is that just me??)Working out will make you feel great physically and mentally!

   The last piece of staying on track during this time of year is to refuse to eat every yummy treat you are offered. I know that it is hard to say no when everyone around you is eating and drinking. You feel like a major party pooper! I get it.
  Pressure to eat at the office is often very high at this time of year. There are tons of office parties and people very often get offended if you do not eat their holiday cookies they made just for you!
 But remember, your health is more important than your co-workers'/friends'  feelings about what you eat. People often feel uncomfortable when they want to indulge and the people around them aren't, so they will try their best to pressure you to eat with them.
 However, you must keep telling yourself that you do not have to eat high calorie foods in order to enjoy the holiday spirit with your co-workers and friends. When someone says to you "Are you sure you don't want some" it's OK to think "Yes, yes I do." but then remind yourself that you have already predetermined which gatherings you are going to splurge at and which you aren't. Pop a mint or piece of sugar free gum in your mouth and just smile. Remember that eating that piece of cheese cake will take about 3 minutes to finish, but losing those extra pounds, all of those extra cheese cakes will put on,  will take a lot longer! (if ever!)

Here are some other things that might help....
1. Continue to eat clean.
 Don't say this is a throw away time and you'll start eating clean on New Years!
It's really important during this time to continue to eat a clean meal of carbs/protein/little fat every 3 hours. click here to read my blog about clean eating  This way you will not be tempted to overeat and it will give you the will power to refuse foods you weren't planning to eat.

2. Pack Snacks
     If you will be out shopping and running around, make sure you pack some snacks that have whole grains and protein to take with you. Click here to read my blog about taking food with you on the go!

 3. Don't worry about insulting someone.
 Don't feel pressured to eat when you stop by your friends house for a quick hello. If they offer you something to eat, politely decline and refocus on catching up. If you think they feel badly, just say that although it looks wonderful, you just ate and couldn't eat another bite.

4. Don't waste calories on alcoholic beverages.
   A lot of mixed drinks have a ton of calories, so drink water instead.  If you find that you really want to have a drink, have a small glass of wine. Also, alcohol decreases our will power. So the more we drink the more we tend to eat. Save your calories for the good stuff!

5. Don't linger in the kitchen during parties!
   It is very tempting to eat extra samplings before and after a meal when you are hanging out in the kitchen. So unless you are doing all the cooking, stay out of the kitchen  and mingle with all of the guests. Maybe start everyone dancing and burn some calories before dinner!

6.  Remember Portion Control
 I am not one that believes you should make everything low fat for the holidays! I have seen a lot of articles telling you how to have a "clean" Thanksgiving.  I figure, what's the point, right?
 I think that you should be able to eat Grandmas pumpkin pie recipe the way it was intended to be eaten. However, don't eat half of the pie!  Don't eat half a plate of turkey!  You have to be very mindful of your portion sizes. During Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, portion control everything you are eating. Have a small scoop of potatoes, have a small slice of pie and really enjoy it. Pick and choose what your favorites are. Skip the foods you can live without like the green bean casserole (oh I'm sorry is that your favorite? !) and use the calories for the good stuff.

7, Skip "filler foods" that you can have anytime.
   Foods like creamy salad dressing, buttered bread, chips and dip, are foods that usually don't have any special meaning. They are just filler foods. Filling the time between your arrival and the main meal. So skip the filler foods and save your calories for the special treats that represent the holidays to you. If you feel like eating something while you wait, make a veggie platter with a onion dip using fat free Greek yogurt. It tastes just like sour cream!

8. Schedule fun activities that revolve around moving instead of eating
  If you are getting together with some friends, instead of going to a coffee shop, go to the gym together.  If you are going to the mall, make it a workout!  Wear your sneakers and leave your coat in the car. Make a game of it,  power walk around the level you're on 5 times before being allowed to go into a store. When you come out,  power walk again, 5 times around, before going into another one. You'll get a great workout and get Christmas presents at the same time!
      Family fun....
     Go ice skating, rake leaves (and then jump in them!) or just go for a walk as a family! Try to make "moving" fun by doing it with people you love! Start a new tradition, create your own "Turkey Trot" and take a jog with your kids before you have dinner. This is something you can actually coordinate with other families in your area. Although you aren't all eating together, taking a jog as a whole group is super fun!

9. Eat before you go to an event  or bring something that you can eat and share.
   If you are famished when you go to a party, you will end up over eating and eating all of the wrong things. So eat a meal before you go so that you will have the willpower to say no and instead you will be able to enjoy the great conversation. If you want to eat something there, but you know that the food will not be "clean", bring something that you can eat and make enough that you can share.

10. Make your goal maintaining,  not losing weight.
  This is a very stressful time of year, and adding the pressure of losing weight over the holidays can set you up for failure. A better goal (although this can be difficult too) is to maintain your weight and not gain any. It is unrealistic and undesirable to say you are not going to eat anything fattening over the next 6 weeks. So make your goal maintenance by trying to find a balance between splurging and sliding.

  Remember, the holidays are a time to enjoy yourself and although everyone always says that it is about being with your family and friends not the food you eat, I totally understand (and agree) that it is also about baking with your kids and cooking family favorites and eating yummy foods with the ones you love!  
So, choose, move and refuse, and  you will be able to enjoy all your favorites (in moderation) and not gain weight during the holiday season!

Do you have any favorite holiday treats you have to have?
Do you have any strategies for staying on track during the holiday season?
Which events are you going to splurge at and which will you be good for? I'd love to hear!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Warning about Diet Pills and Weight Loss Supplements

  On October 8th 2010 the FDA pulled the popular diet pill Meridia (Sibutramine) from the market because studies found that it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The FDA also recommends that if you are taking it now, you should stop. (always check with your doctor first before abruptly stopping a prescribed medication)

     Losing weight by using weight loss pills and supplements is a very enticing prospect for many people who have struggled with their weight for a long time. These pills and supplements often promise extreme and easy weight loss in a short amount of time, without much effort. However, their claims are dubious and the risks associated with them are high.

     Prescription Diet Pills/Over the counter FDA approved diet pills
     Diet pills such as Fen-Phen (which was taken off the market in 1997 and Alli (an over the counter FDA approved drug which is half the strength of it's prescription counterpart Orlistat) "work" in different ways. Some pills, like Alli, block fat absorption from  food into the body. Others such as Meridia and Fen-Phen, attempt to increase energy expenditure and/or suppress appetite, by acting like an amphetamine and working to increase norepinephrine and serotonin activity in the brain.
    These pills have side effects ranging from:
     Yucky...... increases in bathroom urgency (oh you know what I mean), oily stools (eeewwww!) flatulence and    gastrointestinal distress:
    Dangerous: increase heart rate, liver problems, increase risk of stroke, increases in pulmonary hypertension and heart disease.

  Ironically, if you read the fine print, most of these drugs say that you will get the most benefit from them if you add diet and exercise to your program.
 So this begs the question,

  If you have to diet and exercise ,while you take these products, to see results, why would you risk the dangerous side effects when any weight loss you are experiencing is not from the drug?

         A dietary supplement is defined as any pill, capsule, or tablet that has in it a herbal or chemical ingredient, included specifically for the purpose of increasing your metabolism or decreasing your appetite. Some commonly found ingredients in supplements are caffeine, vitamin B12, bioperine (black pepper extract), capsaisin (a component of hot peppers).
     Dietary supplements are different than Prescription or FDA approved weight loss pills. They are classified as "nutritional supplements" and therefore the FDA treats them differently than drug products. They leave the responsibility of making sure these supplements are safe to the companies who stand to gain a lot of money from their sales. A perfect watchdog right???
    The FDA will  become involved with them when there is a question about their safety or if they work,  only AFTER the product has been put on the shelves. It often takes years between the time a complaint is waged against a supplement or pill and when the FDA actually issues a warning or removes it from the stores. Meanwhile, people are still using them and they understandably think that if a supplement is being sold it must be safe.
     People are also lulled into a false sense of safety because when they read the labels of many of these supplements, the ingredients such as caffeine,vitamin B12 and bitter orange, seem harmless. However, the extreme amount and combination of these ingredients can cause, jitteriness, a dangerous rise in blood pressure and rise in heart rate, among other possible deadly side effects.
   If you read fitness and strength training magazines you undoubtedly have seen many ads with extremely fit models espousing the virtues of dietary supplements. However, if you read anything about these models, you will know that they look the way they do because they workout very hard and eat clean most of the time.

A note about Hoodia
  Hoodia is marketed as an all natural weight loss supplement that decreases your appetite. Hoodia is a succulent plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. People started selling it as a weight loss supplement because it is said to be used by hunters in Africa to feel less hungry during a long hunting trips. However, there is insufficient evidence to prove that it works and has not been proven safe. The FDA has issued warnings that Hoodia might no be effective and that some products claiming to have Hoodia in them actually do not contain it at all. 

Remember, just because a product says it's ALL NATURAL does not mean it is safe or effective. Always be cautious and do your own research before taking any weight loss medication or supplement.

  So with that being said, here are some everyday spices and foods that MAY help increase your metabolism. You can think about ways to incorporate them into your clean meals.  But remember, if these foods really do increase your metabolism, they are only a compliment to your exercise and clean eating.

Green Tea: Green tea is probably the most promising of all of these nutritional metabolic boosters. Green tea is a thermogenic food that doubles as a disease fighter because of its cancer fighting antioxidants called catechins. Studies have found that you need to drink 3-cups a day to increase your metabolism.

Jalepeno and all hot peppers: Jalepeno peppers have a thermogenic effect, increasing your metabolism through the heat they produce. (The effect is probably very small. )

Spices: Cinnamon, Cumin, chili, ginger,cayenne pepper hot mustard and garlic....will all raise your metabolism a tiny bit. Plus they also have other health benefits and make food taste delicious!! So make a clean stir fry or sprinkle plain cinnamon on apple slices or your morning oatmeal to give yourself a small metabolic boost.

Caffeine: Caffeine has been shown to help you work out better. However do not drink more than two cups a day and beware that caffeine can make you jittery, anxious and increase your heart rate.

STRENGTH TRAINING!!!!!  Although this isn't something you can eat, building muscle is the BEST WAY to increase your metabolism! Muscle is active in your body unlike fat, and will burn calories all day even when you are being a couch potato!! The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism will be, and it will help you reshape your body! Strength train 3 days a week with at least 24hrs in between sessions for maximum results.

In my opinion, the potential dangers of using a diet pill or supplement are not worth the risk. I believe that consistently eating clean and exercising will get you the results you want without the side effects and cost a lot less!!!  Have you had any experiences with diet pills or supplements? Let me know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumping Up Your Willpower Muscle!


Temptation. It's powerful and it's everywhere.!!!  There is no way to avoid it. So you must learn to fight it. But how?
You've heard it before...
All you have to have is willpower!
Well, yeah, everyone knows that.
But how do we get willpower?
And when we do get it, how do we get it to stick around for the times we need it?
     Well,  our willpower "muscle" is located at the front of our brains in the Prefrontal Cortex. That sounds like a great spot for it, easy access and all... until you find out that our Prefrontal Cortex is also in charge of keeping us focused, handling short-term memory and solving abstract problems.
       Phew!  Our PFC  is very busy even without adding the burden of helping us say no to a delicious cupcake!
       So it's no wonder that when you are stressed at work or thinking about the million different things you need to accomplish at the same time, you feel as though you literally have no strength left to make good food choices.

                 You feel that you definitely do not have any willpower at all!!
  Willpower is actually a muscle that is very similar to all the other muscles in your body... If you train it, it will get stronger. 

Of course, it's ability to get stronger will be leveled off at some point. Just as you can't increase your biceps strength indefinitely. But if you understand how much load it can handle, and continue to work on keeping it strong, you can have a great deal of willpower at your disposal.

   Each time you exercise your willpower, (i.e. say no to a temptation) you actually re-wire your brain; the neurons responsible for willpower develop stronger, “cleaner” more efficient connections and your willpower improves.
    This information is very empowering because we often say to ourselves, "Well, just this one time I'll eat the Oreos with the's not going to hurt." However, when you understand that each time you say no, your willpower becomes stronger, and consequently makes it easier to say no the next time, you might feel more motivated to resist.
  Here are some tips on how to strengthen your willpower muscle.
 1. Choose one big change to tackle at a time.
      When you are making New Years Resolutions (or Fall time resolutions!) it's a good idea to choose one major lifestyle change at a time to maximize your success. When people try to change too many things at once their willpower is often over taxed and they don't see success in any area. So if you want to start a weight loss program, try to make it the main focus of your willpower.

 2. Believe that this is a choice you are making not something forced upon you.
     When we are faced with something delicious to eat, it is natural to feel that we are somehow being "punished" by not being allowed to eat it. But, if when you are offered your favorite dessert, you take 10 seconds, breathe and remind yourself that YOU in fact are CHOOSING not to eat it because you are eating clean, NOT EATING it feels less like a punishment and more like a reward!

3. Keep your glucose level steady all day by eating clean meals, with complex carbs and at least 5 grams of protein, every 3 hours.
    Studies have shown that when our bodies are low in blood glucose, our willpower dips and we are susceptible to eating food that we shouldn't.  So keep your willpower strong all  day by eating clean (click here to read how) every 3 hours.
4. Keep your Leptin levels from going too low:
    Keep your leptin levels from dipping too low so that you never feel ravenously  hungry and over eat. One way to do this is to never starve yourself by eating every 3 hours. The second way is to make sure you get enough sleep. click here to read my blog about the relationship between leptin and sleep

5. Exercise everyday or almost everyday:
   Exercise boosts blood flow to your brain which will strengthen you prefrontal cortex. Exercise also is a great motivator. If you have worked out hard in the morning, you will be less likely to undo all of that hard work by eating cookies in the evening.

6. Get 8 hours of sleep
    Sleeping 8 hours helps balance all of your hormones that effect your metabolism and cravings. Read my blog linked on number 3 to learn more.

7. Meditation and Visualization
    You don't need to be a full blown yogi to reap the benefits of meditation. Simply taking a few minutes in the morning or when you are feeling overwhelmed, to sit quietly , breathe deeply and feel peace flow within yourself, will help you feel less anxious and stressed and consequently less likely to reach for a comfort food.
    Visualizing yourself reaching your goals can be very powerful. Picture what you will look like when you lose the weight and get stronger. Try to "feel" how proud you will be of yourself. Take those positive feelings and make them part of how you think about yourself now.
    Also, when you are offered a treat, take a moment and visualize yourself eating it. Think about how it will taste, and how you will feel when you are done. Many times after picturing yourself eating it, you can say to yourself, I know how that will taste and I don't need to eat that now.

8. Distract yourself
   When you are tempted to "cheat", give your willpower a helping hand by distracting yourself. Leave the kitchen or office where the treat is. Go for a walk, polish your nails, take a shower or call a friend. Studies have shown that going for just a 20 minute brisk walk can stop a craving in its tracks! 

9. Focus on your goals
    We tend to lose our sense of self control when we get caught up in the moment. When presented with a tempting situation, step back and take a minute to focus on the bigger reasons you are eating clean and exercising. Are you trying to set a good example for your kids? Are you trying to improve your health so you will live a long life to be with the ones you love? Are you trying to look better so that you can feel proud of yourself? Whatever the reason is that made you make the decision to finally change your life, should be called upon when you feel tempted to eat something that will be destructive to achieving that goal.
  **One way to stay focused on that goal is to write it down. Keep a note with your goal written on it in your purse and take it out and read it to yourself when you feel your willpower fading. Also, for when you are at home, make a vision board (see how here) and keep it in your kitchen to keep yourself focused.

10. Practice on small tasks first
 A recent study showed that if you feel that your willpower is always really low no matter what you do, trying to do small mental "challenges" like reminding yourself to sit up straighter or trying to brush your teeth with your opposite hand for two weeks often helps build up that willpower muscle.  Once your self control gets stronger from conquering smaller tasks, you can then use it to work on a bigger challenge such as eating clean and exercising.

11. Avoid alcohol.
    When we drink alcohol,  our willpower is lessened.  We feel freer to overeat because our judgement becomes impaired. Also, many times the places and social situations where we have the chance to drink alcohol also have an abundance of food that we shouldn't be eating.  So when you are trying to lose weight, give yourself a break and stay away from alcohol.
  Willpower is a limited resource, but it can be strengthened. Don't forget, that each time you say no, the easier it gets!

So, the next time you are faced with a cupcake with awesome frosting,  use your pumped up willpower to say.... 
                            THANKS BUT NO THANKS!
Do you have any willpower strengthening tips? Let me know!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Clean Eating Challenge Week 6:



  We all know that we should not be eating a lot of sugar when we are trying to lose weight; and that candy, cakes and cookies have tons of sugar and should be avoided! However, there are a lot of foods that may seem fine to eat, but actually have tons of hidden sugar.
   Having one item with some extra sugar might not make a big difference, but you would be surprised how quickly the calories add up throughout the day. Also, the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave. Sugar is a drug! When we eat foods with high percentages of sugar,( a serving size with more than 9-10 grams) throughout the day, we are training our brains to always want very sweet foods. So consequently, when we eat foods with very low sugar, that are healthy and clean,  they don't taste good to us.
   Obviously, the more processed the foods you eat are, the more potential hidden sugar there can be. Americans average eating 160 lbs of sugar each year! But only 29lbs comes directly from the sugar bowl. The rest is from processed foods.

So the most important thing to do to limit our sugar intake, is to eat food in as natural a state as possible. This is a basic tenant of clean eating, so I know you have heard me say that many times before.

 One side note:
 High fructose corn syrup- It's use has increased 3.5 % over the last decade, twice the rate of refined sugar. click here to read my blog about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup Avoid any product that has it in it!

So this weeks challenge is to really tighten up your diet by finding foods that have added sugar and substituting them for low sugar or non sugar versions!! Here are some sugar detective clues you can look for to rid your diet of unwanted sugar!


Look for these sneaky words that sugar disguises itself as...Also, although honey and raw sugar sound healthier then table sugar they are processed the same way as sucrose and should not be overeaten.  
•beet sugar
•brown sugar
•buttered syrup
•cane-juice crystals
•cane sugar
•carob syrup
•corn syrup
•corn syrup solids
•date sugar
•diastatic malt
•ethyl maltol
•fruit juice
•fruit juice concentrate
•glucose solids
•golden sugar
•golden syrup
•grape sugar
•high-fructose corn syrup
•invert sugar
•malt syrup
•raw sugar
•refiner's syrup
 sorghum syrup
•turbinado sugar
•yellow sugar

Any foods that say "low fat" will most likely be high in sugar to make up for the lost flavor from the low fat content. These items usually have the same calorie count or higher, as the regular "full fat" variety so beware.

Sodas...  We all know regular sodas have sugar but did you know that these are the number one offenders with 10 teaspoons of added sugar!!! click to read my blog about giving up soda 
Ketchup...can be 20 percent sugar or more! Use mustard (but check label for clean ingredients) instead.
Salad Dressing-bottled or packaged- use teaspoon of olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar with lemon and spices for your salad instead
Yogurt- Yogurt seems healthy but flavored varieties even vanilla can have up to 27 grams of sugar in a small container!!  choose plain non fat Greek yogurt (Oikos is awesome) instead!
Cereal- Cereal often has 12-15 grams of sugar in even so called healthy varieties. Choose plain oatmeal instead of flavored oatmeal in packages. You can add your own cinnamon and fresh fruit on top.
Fruit Juice- is loaded with sugar. Have a fresh piece of fruit instead, which will give you fiber as well and drink water!
Jarred Spaghetti sauce- Sugar is added to tomato products to enhance the flavor of the tomato especially if they're picked before they are ripe.  Check the label of any tomato product you buy, only buy it if it doesn't have any added sugar. Instead,  make a pot of homemade sauce, using only canned tomatoes, without any added sugar, and use it the entire week over chicken breast or steamed veggies.
White bread with brown crust- There is often a lot of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup in bread. Check the ingredients carefully and pick a brand that is 100% whole grain with a small amount added sugar but NO high fructose corn syrup
Protein bars- These are glorified candy bars, often with 11-15 grams or more of sugar. Plan ahead and bring a your own clean protein packed snack with you, like a low fat string cheese and an apple or 3 egg whites and a couple whole grain crackers. (check nutrition label on crackers for no added sugar!)
Canned veggies and fruit- Canned fruit is often packed in a sugar syrup. Always go for the fresh fruit. If you are looking for a convenient vegetable option, frozen is a much better choice than canned vegetables.
Canned Soup- Make a big pot of homemade broth based soup on the weekend without any added sugar and lots of delicious spices and enjoy it the entire week.
Frozen Dinners- Frozen  meals often have added sugar to add flavor. Prepare homemade meals over the weekend and warm them up throughout the week.

The weather is getting chilly and it's the perfect time for a pumpkin latte, but beware sugar detectives...
Coffee Drinks- These are loaded with sugar and fat. A pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks is 380 calories, 13grams of fat and 49 grams of sugar!! That's 11.6 teaspoons! Have a plain coffee or green tea no sugar instead.

 Sugar Substitutes:
  There are many sugar substitutes on the market. Most of them are not healthy for you and should be avoided. The two most dangerous are Saccharine and Aspartame. Aspartame is sold as Nutrasweet. Foods with Aspartame sometimes say "may contain phenylalanine on their labels."  Avoid all foods with Aspartame in them.
  If you feel you must use a sugar substitute Stevia in the raw is probably the best choice. It comes from the Stevia plant and is available at most food stores such as Jewel and Whole Foods. It does have an after taste that I do not like, but, it is a better choice than any of the other sugar substitutes.

 It's important to change your taste buds to enjoy foods without high levels of sugar in them. It will take about a month ( or two) but your taste will change and you will begin to crave sugar less and enjoy the taste of naturally sweet foods such as fruits and vegetables even more.
So when you shop this week, put your detective cap on and search out those hidden sugars...
.... and maybe you should avoid the Halloween Candy Aisle altogether!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Drew Carey Did It (the right way) and You Can Too!



                                                                                                         Drew Carey
  I love this quote.

  Drew Carey put this quote on his bathroom mirror after he had been eating clean and exercising for about 6 months, losing around 3lbs a week. He ran his first 10k in 25 years and decided to celebrate with an ice cream, and pizza. And over the next few days, more pizza. He gained a few pounds and felt sick. It was then that it really hit home that eating bad food makes you feel bad.
               Read Drew Carey's inspirational story here in this week's Parade Magazine.
  Drew Carey is a comedian that has been around for a long time, doing comedy and hosting game shows. His story is similar to a lot of peoples'. In his twenties he was in the Marines and in great shape. When he left the Marines, his weight slowly crept up. With each size he gained, he thought of new ways to accept his new size, in his mind. However, he felt depressed and tired all of the time. Nine years ago after he was diagnosed with heart disease and needed a stent put into his artery, he decided to eat better and exercise and he lost weight. But when his mother got ill in 2002, he was under enormous stress and put his new eating habits and exercise to the side and began eating unhealthy food again. His weight increased to it's highest in November 2002 at 262 lbs.
   Despite a litany of health issues caused by his obesity,  it wasn't until he couldn't keep up with his fiances son, and the realization that he might not live to see him graduate high school, that he decided to finally make a change. He hired a personal trainer and nutritionist, changed his mindset and eating habits (to a totally clean eating program (click here to see how you can eat that way)) and began exercising 6 days a week. He has now lost 77 lbs!!!
    What I love about Drew's story is that it is so relatable. He has always been a really likable, funny guy. He struggled with food and stress as we all do. He had numerous health issues related to his weight and he felt tired and frustrated with himself.  His father and brother died from obesity related illnesses. Drew saw his future and decided that he did not want that for himself and the people who love him. He realized that his only option was to absolutely change the way he ate and worked out in order to save his life. He didn't rely on surgery, fad diets or diet pills, he did it with hard work and determination.

  Here are some take aways that you can incorporate into your life from Drew's fabulous accomplishment:
1.  Change the way you eat completely. Drew went from a diet filled with fast food, soda, excessive calories and fat to eating clean everyday!
2. Reach out for help when you need it. When Drew felt he could not do it on his own he hired a personal trainer and nutritionist to help him create an exercise and nutrition program to meet his goals and keep him focused and hold him accountable.
3.  Begin an exercise program, but do it at a safe level. Drew began doing 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity and worked his way up to 60 minutes. He started walking and now he runs 10ks.  If you have not exercised in a long time it is very important to add exercise into your daily life to lose weight, but you have to start at a level that is challenging yet appropriate and safe for you. As you get stronger, continue to increase the intensity to constantly continue to shock your body to help you lose weight.
4. Set goals for yourself. Drew set a long term goal of losing 92 lbs. He also set a goal of running a 10 k. He has lost 77 lbs and has given himself until Oct 31 to lose the last 15lbs. Setting realistic, time bound goals for yourself is key to losing weight. They keep you motivated and focused. When setting goals, think about a long term goal for yourself such as "I want to lose X amount of pounds." Give yourself a realistic time frame to lose that weight. Losing 1-2 lbs a week is a healthy amount to lose. Then make smaller goals for yourself to keep you motivated and give yourself a feeling of accomplishment as you work toward your bigger goal. An example of a short term goal is "This week I will walk at an intense pace for 25 minutes, adding 1 minute to my daily time from last week; and I will eat clean everyday bringing my lunch and snacks to work with me" Keep a record of what you accomplish everyday. Remember to continually set new goals for yourself.
5. Know that there will be times that you might not eat perfectly, and when you do slip up, don't go crazy and give yourself permission to eat everything in sight. Get right back to eating clean your next meal (not the next day or week). Drew has times when he eats a piece of pizza or fatty snack, but he doesn't eat the entire pizza anymore or the gallon of ice cream. And now he starts eating clean right after that.
6. Write words of inspiration for yourself  like Drew did.  Post them around your house, car and office to remind yourself that you are worth the effort! Click here to see how to make a vision board for yourself.
7. Make eating clean and exercising part of your job! Drew explains that he realized eating clean and working out "isn't an extra thing to do, I told myself I'm going to make this part of my job" You can do this by scheduling time for yourself to workout. Don't schedule other things during the times you have set aside for your workouts!!!  Plan your clean eating for the entire week on the weekend and buy all of the food you will need. Prep the food you can ahead of time. Make meals such as soup, or fritattas, that you can just heat and eat!

 8. Think of a reason to make the change that is critically important to your life and keep that in mind when you are not feeling strong. Drew's motivation to finally change was inspired by his desire to be around for someone else in his life that needs him. If you can not think of a motivation to change your life within yourself, think of someone who loves and needs you and save your life for them. Be the change you want, for your children.

  I hope you found Drew Carey's weight loss story as inspirational as I did.  Take from it the knowledge that you can achieve your weight loss goals, whether it is 10lbs or 100 lbs, if you finally make the decision to put yourself first.

                                                                       YOU'RE WORTH IT!

 I wish Drew good luck in achieving his goal of losing his final 15 lbs, I know he will, and I wish him a long and healthy life surrounded by the people he loves!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You CAN take it with you! Eat Clean Challenge Week 5!

                                       Eat Clean Challenge Week 5
Take food from home to eat throughout the day, instead of eating out.

  One of the most frequently asked questions regarding making eating clean a permanent lifestyle change is,
 What do I do when I'm not at home?
  The answer is simple... yet it will take some planning.
You must ALWAYS bring food with you (including snacks and drinks) when you will be out of the house for longer than 2 hours.
If you do not bring your food with you, you will not be successful because it will be impossible to eat clean on a consistent basis.
**You will also find that you save a lot of money when you bring all your food from home.****

Here are some tips to make" brown bagging it" easier to do:
1. Plan your meals and snacks for the week over the weekend and purchase the food you will need for them. Cook any meals you can over the weekend and put them in the freezer or refrigerator depending on how long they will last.
2. Buy a large cooler and ice packs that you can store a larger amount of food in to keep in your car. Purchase a small cooler bag as well to have for one meal or snack.
3. When making dinner, make extra of the protein and use it the next day in for your lunch as a sandwich or salad topping.
4. Pack your food the night before so that you aren't too tired or rushed in the morning and tempted to skip it and eat out.
5  If you have to dine out with clients for work, you should still pack your food. Eat your snacks throughout the day and have something light before you go out to your meeting. Then you can order just a small salad or broth based soup to have when the others are eating a full meal.
6.  Make a huge pot of homemade yummy broth based soup that you can have all week long. Soup is a great food to take with you on the go you just need a nice thermos to keep it in.  You can have it for lunch or a snack as long as it's not cream based. Soups are easy to make and are lowest in sodium and calories, and highest in good veggies and lean protein when you make them yourself.

EASY SNACKS TO PACK (use your cooler for perishables!)
 You want to make sure you eat both protein and carbs for your snacks. These can also be combined together for a lunch.
1. Cut up veggies and bring portioned amounts of either hummus/Greek yogurt or low fat cottage cheese for dipping
2. 10 almonds (if not allergic) and sliced apple sprinkled with Cinnamon
3.  A banana and a tablespoon of all natural soy/sunflower/nut butter (store in small plastic container)
4. Low fat string cheese with orange
5 1/4 cup raisins with cup Greek yogurt
6 100 calories of all natural whole grain crackers with 1/3 cup berries
7. 100 calories of whole grain cereal with berries
8. Make a shake at home in the morning with frozen berries and plain yogurt store in a thermos.
9. Instant oatmeal ( if you have somewhere to heat up some water) with skim milk
10. Don't forget to bring green tea/Puerh with you and plenty of water so you won't be tempted to hit the soda machine!
11. Air pop a half cup of popcorn (bring in ziplock bag) in the morning and have it in the afternoon if you want a little fun snack when everyone pulls out the chips!

  You will really notice a difference on the scale if you are very careful about what you eat when you are not at home. I hope these tips help make it easier to incorporate "taking it with you" into your life. Let me know if you have any other tips that might help!