Fitness & Wellness

Tips For Scheduling Your Daily Diet

Tips For Scheduling Your Daily Diet

While what you eat and how many calories you eat is far more important than when you eat, eating certain foods at specific times can make a difference. For instance, if you eat all your carbs at night, which are instant energy, they have a better chance of turning to fat than if you eat them in the morning when you have more of a chance to burn off the calories throughout the day. That’s just one reason why scheduling your daily diet can be truly helpful in helping you lose weight.

Your circadian rhythm is affected by when you eat.

Your body has an intricate system that revolves around the circadian rhythm. It’s your natural physiological internal clock that controls all the metabolic processes and hormones. When you work with it, you’re healthier and functioning at your best. Most studies show that eating earlier in the day help you to be at your best and a way to maintain level blood sugar, improve cholesterol, regulate hormones and even prevent weight gain. While eating a big breakfast early was part of the American habit when it was an agrarian society, that’s not true anymore.

One study showed that eating later in the day makes losing weight more difficult.

One more recent study used two groups to compare how timing meals made a difference. One group ate fifty percent of its calories at breakfast and divided the rest throughout the day. The other group ate fifty percent at dinner and divided the rest at breakfast and lunch. Those who ate a bigger breakfast lost twice as much as those who ate a bigger dinner.

Scheduling meals can make you more aware of when you eat.

Everyone has walked by a candy dish or grabbed a few snacks without thinking. In fact, often it doesn’t register as eating, it’s just a habit. When you schedule your meals and when you eat, you’ll have a specific time and absent minded eating will no longer be a problem. You’ll know every calorie you eat and it can help you lose weight.

  • People who eat bigger breakfasts ten to have improved cholesterol and more level insulin throughout the day. That could mean a lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Eating more at breakfast has been shown to help people to stick with their healthy eating and lower calorie diet, which could be a boon to losing weight.
  • One study actually used identical meals, but one week apart. The difference was that the first one was given in the morning and the second meal was offered in the evening. When it came to a higher metabolism, the morning meal won.
  • Another reason to time meals is sleep. You’ll sleep better at night when you eat more in the morning and less in the evening. Better sleep can improve feelings of well being.

Why It's So Hard To Cut Out Sugar, White Flour And Processed Food

Why It’s So Hard To Cut Out Sugar, White Flour And Processed Food

If you live in Houston, Texas, you know there are a lot of fabulous bakeries and eateries that while delicious, don’t serve the healthiest food. They’re filled with sugar and made of white flour, which isn’t exactly a recipe for good health. The most difficult things to do when you start eating healthy is to cut out sugar, white flour and processed food. Processed foods are super easy and white flour seems to be in everything. Sugar, well, not only is sugar in many of the products on the grocery shelf, to make matters worse, it’s addictive. You can do it and will find that after a while you’ll no longer crave those foods.

Sugar is the biggest problem.

Call it what you want, sugar, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup or any of the other many names used to disguise sugar, it’s addictive. That seductive sweet flavor releases opioids and dopamine when you eat it. Those are reward hormones that trigger addictive behavior. While it doesn’t make a chemical change in the body, it’s response to it and lack of it fits addictive behavior. It’s even worse when you consider all the types of sugar there are and how certain ones react quite differently.

It’s not easy to find healthy flour products, either.

Even if you purchase whole grain breads, you’ll often find the whole grains are only part of the bread, often white, bleached and processed flour is part of it. Getting sprouted bread and bread that uses techniques that provide nutrient availability is extremely difficult to find or very expensive. The more people are aware of the problems that improperly prepared grain can cause, the more they’ll turn to healthy bread. Until then, using sour dough bread and sprouted bread is the best way to overcome the white flour habit.

Processed foods are more and more part of the American diet.

Like white flour, processed foods are everywhere and tough to avoid. Stopping to pick up carryout has become part of the American way, where it used to be a special treat. I had one older client tell me that in her home, a TV dinner was reserved for a special occasion. The rest of the year her mother made food from fresh ingredients. The same is true for other foods, like chips, they’ve become the norm and not the exception.

  • One way to break the habit of easy-to-prepare or carryout processed foods is to create a healthy menu, shop for all the ingredients and make the meals over the weekend, so it will be ready to warm up when you get home from work.
  • Don’t be fooled by the commercials saying that high fructose corn syrup is good for you because it’s natural. It’s worse than regular sugar. It has a chemical makeup that’s more difficult to digest that can cause metabolic problems in increase weight gain, as well as lead to other serious conditions.
  • If you’re finding it difficult giving up sugar, consider this: not only does sugar increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, it also accelerates aging.
  • Sugar not only triggers the same receptors as cocaine, giving it up is even harder since it alters the sense of taste making the sweetness of fruit not nearly sweet enough.

Become More Productive In 2019

Become More Productive In 2019

Is time limited? Do you feel like you’re always running behind schedule? Why not add more to your routine and start a workout program? You might think that’s just being mean and impossible, but it’s not. Eating healthy and working out can be in your schedule and help you become more productive in 2019. You’ll have more energy and get more done faster.

You have to start somewhere, why not with healthy eating.

To start your healthy lifestyle, healthy eating is the first to fit into it. That’s because, no matter who you are, you have to take time to eat. It’s also important for your body and to boost your brain power with adequate nutrition and the right amount of glucose and fats to function at peak performance. Eating healthy also gives your energy a boost without facing that downswing you get from eating a sugary treat. It helps you think better and improves brain functioning so you’ll get mental work done faster and with more accuracy.

That workout also boosts your brain power.

Not only will working out build your energy levels, it helps give your brain power a boost, too. It increases circulation to the brain bringing oxygen and nutrient rich blood. A healthier brain means you’ll think better and get your work done faster. You’ll also be burning off the hormones of stress, which can leave you with brain fog and slow your progress.

You’ll stay healthier and miss less work.

Getting sick can put you behind no matter what type of work you do. If you’re a stay at home mom, it leaves you dragging or sends you to bed if you’re lucky enough to have someone there to help you. No matter what you do, getting sick puts you even further behind and builds stress levels. While working out won’t guarantee you’ll never get sick, it does boost your immune system. It also burns off stress hormones that can tax your body and make you sick.

  • You’ll be amazed at how much energy you have and how fast you can work after a few months of working out and eating healthy. The longer you workout, the more energy you seem to have.
  • You can build in some simple exercise into your day without going to the gym. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Get up and move around for a few minutes every hour. Take the steps and walk to lunch.
  • Increase the amount of sleep you get if you’re not averaging seven to nine hours. It will keep you productive, help you lose weight and keep your heart healthier.
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s perfect as a pick-me-up and a good substitute for coffee throughout the day. Your brain is 73% water, so you can see how dehydration, even a little, can cause headaches, poor concentration and sleepiness.

Bond With Your Spouse Thru Fitness

Bond With Your Spouse Thru Fitness

You don’t have to wait until you feel you’re drifting apart to find something that both you and your husband or wife enjoy doing together. You can bond with your spouse thru fitness. I have many couples in Houston who come together and find it’s a perfect way to spend time together. When you workout together, you boost the results of the workout. Learning to eat healthier is also a benefit when both people do it.

Your benefits show in all areas of your life, including the bedroom.

Working out improves the sex drive in both men and women. That makes it even more important for both people to participate. The act of building muscles boosts men’s human growth hormone—HGH—levels, which then increases testosterone levels, leading to increased arousal levels. It increases a woman’s receptiveness to touch and arousal stimuli. It also burns off the hormones of stress in both male and female, while boosting endorphin levels. That makes people far more receptive to romance.

A healthy lifestyle includes eating healthy, too.

One of the biggest problems faced by people who start a healthy eating program is that their family doesn’t want to participate. If it’s the children, it’s not a problem. They don’t get to insist on what you put on the table, but with a spouse, it’s different. It means making two meals if you’re the cook or making your own meal and fighting the urge to eat what the family eats, if you’re not. You can shop together to make healthy meals and enjoy finding delicious recipes together.

Having a spouse as a workout buddy is convenient.

There’s nothing like having your workout partner keeping you accountable and it’s even easier if they live with you. Sometimes you won’t feel like working out and your spouse can help into the mood. Other times, you’ll be leading them to the gym. Being made accountable is one reason people use personal trainers and also a reason working out with a spouse can boost success. You’ll stay more motivated when you workout with a spouse.

  • It’s more fun when you workout together. It brings new energy to the workout and can lead to other activities like bike riding, hiking and rock climbing. There’s no end to the adventures you’ll have.
  • Studies show that after doing a physical task or working out together, satisfaction levels for the relationship increase, as well as the feeling of love.
  • When only one spouse takes charge of their fitness, sometimes the other sabotages efforts, concerned they’ll be left behind. Starting a program together eliminates the threat.
  • You’ll build a world where you have more in common. Both of you will be equally excited about the changes and understand why certain accomplishments are important.

Watch Your Portions

Watch Your Portions

If you’re just trying to lose a few pounds by trying to eat healthier, portion control is important. When you count calories, carbs or fat you also need to watch your portions. It doesn’t matter the way you plan to lose weight, knowing portion size makes a difference. Your idea of what a serving size of meat might be far different than the actual serving size. If you’re a woman, the serving size should be the size of your palm and for men, the size of two palms.

Your hands can be your guide on other types of food.

Make a fist. Starchy foods like potatoes, squash, peas and corn use a fist as a guide to portions. One fist for women and two fists of these foods for men. Cup your hand to find out how much grain, fruit or pasta is a serving size. The amount you can place in one cupped hand is approximately what a woman should eat, two cupped hands is for men. It’s the rule of thumb for fats. That’s right, use your thumb to measure how much fat to eat. The amount equal to one thumb for women, two thumbs for men.

Use your plate to guide healthy eating and portion size.

One of the oldest diet tips in the book is to use a smaller plate and it’s still good advice. It makes you feel like you’re eating more when you fill it, even though you’re not. However, you can also use your plate to measure the portion of various food. Protein should be about a fourth of the plate, just like complex carbohydrates should be, with a salad or vegetables half a plate. High fat food should be 1 ½ teaspoon.

Be aware that restaurants often serve larger portions.

Unless you’re eating at an extremely fancy restaurant where it’s all about delicate small portions presented in an artistic manner, most restaurants often serve twice as much food as portion size should be. Sometimes, the portions are as much as seven or eight times as much. Either ask for a child’s portion or share with a friend. If that’s not possible, choose side orders for your supper. There’s often an appetizer that could be the protein source, like shrimp, a side of vegetable and a side salad that is extremely filling and a complete meal.

  • Steer clear of buffets for a while. Even if you know portion control, it’s too easy to feel cheated when you’re not going back for seconds or filling your plate to the brim. If you’re trying to lose weight, buffets are often an expensive option, since you’re paying for food you won’t eat.
  • Drink plenty of water. There’s no portion size for water, since it fills you up without calories. Drink a glass or two about 30 minutes before you eat and you’ll feel fuller and eat less.
  • If you’re having a problem, consider buying a portion control plate. It makes it easier to learn to visualize the right portion size at first.
  • Eat slower and enjoy each bite. Chew each piece of food thoroughly. In fact, chew it far more than you think necessary. Enjoy conversation at the table. The longer you take to eat, the more time your brain has to be alerted that you’re full.

The Best And Worst Low Carb Foods

The Best And Worst Low Carb Foods

Trying to find the best and worst low carb foods is a quest worth achieving. Not all carbs are equal. I try to help clients here in Houston, Texas to find the healthiest options that also help you shed those extra pounds. There are some obvious choices that are healthy, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, but even among those there are ones lower in carbs that have more nutrients than others. For instance, vegetables grown above ground are lower in carbs and you can eat your fill. Three and a half grams of asparagus is only 2 grams of carbs, while three and half grams of sweet potato is 17 grams of carbs. Obviously, if you’re going to have second helpings, make it a vegetable grown above ground.

Nuts are not only good for you, they’re lower in carbs.

Not all nuts are super low in carbs. For instance, a couple of handfuls of cashews can pack on 20 grams of carbs, that could be your entire day of carbs. Pistachios are another one that might pack on the pounds. Stick with nuts like Brazil nuts, pecans and macadamia nuts. They provide a load of healthy fats and protein. When you compare cashews with pecans, you’ll find pecans have 4 grams of carbs and cashews have 22 grams per three and a half gram serving.

Beef, chicken, seafood, eggs and all other types of meat are low in carbs.

It’s hard to overeat beef and other animal proteins. They simply fill you up too much. Some people can fill up on meat or other high protein foods, but be aware that if you eat too much, it can cause incomplete ketosis. That’s because you have more amino acids than your body can use, so it turns it into glucose. Moderate consumption of protein is important. Choose about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

The type of fat you have on a low carb diet make a difference.

When you consider butter is zero carbs, you might not want to go any further in finding the best sauce or fat to use, but eventually, the delight in consuming all the butter you want wanes. Stick with more natural forms of fats or sauces, rather than using manufactured oils that require more processing than simple pressing. Industrial oils, like soybean, corn, canola, safflower and others have been processed using chemicals and bleaching agents because they simply don’t taste good otherwise. Stick with old favorite that have been around for years like coconut oil, olive oil, peanut or nut oil and others.

  • Fruit has a higher number of carbs than vegetables. They’re far sweeter and more like a treat. Choose fruit sparingly and stick with cantaloupe, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries that are lower in carbs than apples, bananas and grapes.
  • Watch out for sauces. They can add unwanted carbs you might not suspect. For instance, barbecue sauce and ketchup can add a huge number of carbs.
  • When choosing dairy products, opt for the full fat ones. Low fat options often contain flavoring or sugar to make them more palatable.
  • What you drink makes a huge difference. If you’re unsure of carb count, stick with things like water, coffee without sugar and plain tea.

Is Snacking Healthy

Is Snacking Healthy

I get a lot of questions her in Houston about snacking. Is it healthy? Is it what wrecks my diet? How can I stop it? Should I do it? All of these are legitimate, but they’re missing an important factor. What are you eating when you’re snacking? If you have a box of chocolates or cookies sitting in your desk or cupboard and occasionally grab one or two every few hours as a snack, don’t expect your progress to shed weight and get healthier to be as good. However, if you have planned healthy snacks, it might even help you lose weight faster.

Snacks may be the key to weight loss.

That’s right! You’re keeping your body revved between meals when you snack and reducing the amount you’ll eat at the next meal. When you have planned snacks available, they should be lower in calories and higher in nutrients. It boosts your nutritional intake with minimum calories while leaving you feeling fuller and far less deprived. Planning your snacks ahead of time helps eliminate that potential to grab a candy bar when you stop for gas or raid the office candy supply.

Not all studies come up with the same results.

Not all people are alike, so you can understand why not all studies provide the same results. Some studies show that snacking did nothing to reduce the person’s overall calorie intake or even level out blood sugar. Other studies show that it does help with weight loss and prevents ravenous eating at the next meal. If you’re a regular snacker, then planned, healthy snacks will help you shed pounds. If you never snack, but do eat a lot at each meal, your strategy might be different. Eating healthier without snacking is one option or drinking an 8-ounce glass of cold water a half hour before the regular meal can fill you so you eat less.

What types of snacks are best for a healthy diet or weight loss?

Keep your snacks between 100 and 200 calories and make sure they have some nutritional value. Empty calories have no place in a healthy diet. Just because it’s a healthy snack, doesn’t mean it has to taste like cardboard. There are a lot of healthy snacks that satisfy both your sweet tooth and appetite. Grapes and walnuts are good go-togethers, just as a small apple and an ounce of cheddar cheese or spoonful of nut butter. They’re both filling and healthy. Season cottage cheese and use it as a veggie dip for a really low calorie treat. The protein in the peanut butter, cheese, walnuts and cottage cheese leaves you feeling fuller longer.

  • If you’re a snacker plan your daily snacks. They should be between 100 and 200 calories and be easy to carry with you, especially if you’re on the go.
  • Are you super active? You might need more snacks throughout the day than someone that’s sedentary. Personal planning based on your hunger levels is always important.
  • Skip the highly processed snacks. If you want a sugary treat, switch to fruit. After avoiding processed sugar products for a while, you’ll find the sugar in fruit extremely satisfying. Eat the fruit with some protein.
  • Carry individual portions of snacks with you. I have a thin client that snacks continuously. She carries nuts mixed with dried fruit with her at all times. If you’re trying to shed pounds, you still need to count calories, so break that big bag down to individual 100 or 200 calorie portion sizes.

Fitness Tips For Busy Moms

Fitness Tips For Busy Moms

I like to provide fitness tips for busy moms because too often, they put other people’s needs ahead of their own, even skipping healthy eating and exercise. That’s not noble! Your family needs you and they need you healthy, so your fitness regimen should be at the top of the list of priorities, not down at the bottom with cleaning out the junk drawer. It’s tough being a busy mom and if you’re also working outside the home, even tougher. Here are some tips to help you get and stay healthy.

Create a routine and stick with it.

Schedule your workout. Whether you’re a stay home mom or one that works, when you put a workout in your schedule, you’re more apt to do it. Some moms that stay at home don’t have a particular schedule, but a routine. They get the kids up, get them breakfast, clean the house and etc. For a while, until you include working out in your routine, create an actual schedule. Make working out as much of a priority as a doctor’s appointment. That’s the same advice for moms that work outside the home.

Plan meals and create them on the weekend.

Planning healthy meals and snacks not only can keep your weight in check and provide good nutrition for you and your family, it also can save you money. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. Choose one day during the weekend to create the meals for the week and then freeze them. When supper time comes, just pop them in the oven or microwave to heat. The time you take planning for the next week should be the done the previous week. Prepare a shopping list while you plan and you’ll be less prone to buy treats. If you can’t prepare all the meals in one or two weekend days (for those that work outside the home) make double batches and freeze half for later.

Have a backup plan.

When you’re raising a family, stuff happens. Kids get sick, the car breaks down or other disaster hits. Have an at home workout for those days you can’t make it to the gym. You don’t have to have a lot of equipment if you use body weight exercises. For strength training days, you can use a workout with resistance bands. If you’re working with a personal trainer, ask him or her to create an at home workout for you. Practice it with the trainer at the gym so you know it well.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Yes, to be your healthiest you need sleep. Even if you have a mountain of work, you’ll get less done if you keep going past exhaustion. It’s often better to catch some zzzs and come back fresh.
  • Drink plenty of water. Have a bottle of water with you at all times and sip on it throughout the day. Water not only hydrates you and gives you an energy boost, it can help with appetite control.
  • No time to workout? Get up earlier or break your workout into several shorter sessions. If you want to get 45 minutes of exercise in every day, nobody says it has to be all at one time. Make each short session at least ten minutes long.
  • Eat a good breakfast and have healthy snacks ready. A healthy breakfast with fiber, protein, healthy fat and carbs can fill you up, not out. If you’re prone to snacking, having healthy snacks ready is a real benefit.

How To Monitor Your Fitness Progress

How To Monitor Your Fitness Progress

You might think that simply stepping on the scales every week is the best way to monitor your fitness progress. That’s not necessarily true. While weight loss is one factor in how well you’re doing, here in Houston, TX, when a client comes in, I use several techniques. You can use some of these at home and even a few that I don’t use, which will give you a better idea of how you’re doing than simply looking at the number on the scales.

Take measurements.

Your scales can lie. I don’t mean they show you the wrong weight. They probably do, but it doesn’t give the true picture of your progress. As you’re working out, you start to build muscle tissue, which weighs more than fat tissue does per cubic inch. The more you replace fat tissue with muscle tissue, the thinner you’ll look, even if your weight doesn’t change. That’s just like comparing the container that holds a pound of lead with one that holds a pound of feathers. The one holding lead will be smaller. Take measurements around your middle, on your thighs, on your hips and even your biceps. It shows you the progress you’ve made when the first three are smaller and the biceps are bigger.

Start with an outfit that is tight.

Clothing is telling. If you have a pair of “thin” pants, the ones that fit comfortably when you’ve shed a few pounds, try them on when you start your fitness program. If it’s impossible to zip them, that’s even better. Once every two weeks, take them off the shelf and try them on again. As you get fitter, they’ll get looser.

Track your workouts.

Are you able to do more than you could when you first started? EXCELLENT! That’s always the goal. I have one client that was severely out of shape, but kept coming back for more. Her goal was to race up several flights of stairs without requesting oxygen. (Her words, not mine.) It really didn’t take her that long. Within a month, she reported that she had managed four flights of stairs without stopping. Her next goal is to do five in the same amount of time.

  • Take a picture when you start and along the way. Make sure you’re wearing the same relatively revealing outfit and standing in the same place and distance from the camera to get a true view of your progress.
  • Measure your tummy and compare it to your hip measurement. Fat around the abdomen is a health risk. If you divide the abdominal measurement by the hip measurement, the results should be 0,85 or lower.
  • See how quickly you can get tasks completed and how much more energy you have. Keep a diary and record your energy level every day about three times throughout the day. You’ll see it growing if your workout is doing its job.
  • Stepping on the scales is still an indicator, even though it’s not always the ultimate indicator, of your progress. Check your weight every week at the same time and record the results.

Meal Prep Is Key

Meal Prep Is Key

How many of you have left work trying to think of what to have for supper, entered the grocery store and found that there were dozens of junk food items in your cart at checkout. Of course, you put them in there. They looked super yummy because you were hungry. What also followed was a crash and burn of your plans to lose weight or eat healthier as you opened a few in the car before you reached home. Anything worth achieving is work planning for and that’s why meal prep is so important.

Create a shopping list on the weekend or when you have time to shop.

The key is to plan your meals and then shop for the items you need to make them with when you’re full, never after a day of work. People who start meal prep often find that eating healthy actually saves them money. They don’t have hundreds of dollars spent on junk food every year and they also don’t have as many medical issues. They also find that it saves them far more time than they ever thought possible.

Save time, too.

When you do meal prep, plan meals that keep well in the freezer and make enough for several meals. The first few weeks you’ll be working harder, but after that, it will be a breeze. You’ll only have to make a few meals and use the ones you froze earlier to fill in the gaps. Some meals can be as simple as salads, adding to the ease of cooking. You won’t be left wondering what to cook for supper or what to eat for lunch, either.

You’ll have everything pre-measured, so there’s no guesswork about calories or carbs.

When you prepare meals ahead of time, put them in compartment meal prep freezer containers that are ready to microwave and serve. You don’t have to stick with just supper. Consider making a quick breakfast that only takes heating and serving. If you’re not a morning person, you’ll appreciate not having to think that much before noon. Everything is pre-measured, so there’s no hassle.

  • Snacks are an important part of healthy eating. Make sure you have ones ready for mid-morning or mid-afternoon. It won’t take much, a pre-measured baggy of nuts is one idea.
  • When you create your menu, try to use all the food you purchase throughout the week. You can grill those veggies for a salad topper and also put use them as a side dish in a meal.
  • Vary your menu each week. As you accumulate meals, you’ll have a wide variety from which to choose. Make sure you date the container, so you can eat before it’s too late.
  • Make sure every meal contains a quality protein, a complex carbohydrate and some healthy fat.