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!