Surviving the Holidays

Buffet
 A few years ago, I provided some tips on avoiding holiday weight gain.  (If you search Christmas or Holidays at the top of the page/in the search bar, you’ll get all kinds of good stuff from me -workouts and recipes.)  With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, this year I thought I’d provide you with some of tips on how to get thru the holidays without ruining your fitness or nutrition plan.

Christmas is often seen as the season of indulgence.  There are an excessive amount of parties and dinners and get-togethers and functions – not to mention Christmas dinner – and with all of that, there comes large quantities of food and drinks.  Whether it’s chips and dips and beer or a buffet with an abundance of rich desserts and cheeses and wines, there is likely something that will can entice even the strongest-willed guest.

 christmasbrunchbuffet

So, in order to do your best at not over-indulging (or gorging yourself) this Christmas, here are some of my best tips:

Make a Plan.   Don’t start the season off without knowing exactly how you will approach it.  Look at your calendar and figure out when you can get your workouts in – even if you can only spare 20 minutes.  Utilize that time to make the workout count!  Making a plan also comes into play when you’re preparing to feast.  If you are attending a holiday party where you know there will be lots of decadent foods served, plan your meals and eating routine around that.  Have a lighter lunch or dinner* or have a healthy snack instead of your regular meal if you will be eating later at an event.  If you really have the will power (or discipline) you can always prepare your own snacks to take with you to a holiday party – that way, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and won’t go over your portion.  *You can also prepare a nutritious meal at home prior to going to your event.  This will prevent you from overeating or eating excessive junk at the party.  And again, this way you will know exactly what you’re consuming.

  1. Commit.   If you commit yourself to staying healthy during the holidays, stick to it.  This does not mean committing 100% (although, how fantastic would that be?), but why not commit yourself 80-90%.  If you’re not able to get to the gym 4 times per week during the Christmas rush, why not commit to getting there twice a week?  Or saving your gas and working out at home 3-4 times per week.  There are ways to compromise while (sort of) sticking to your plan.
  2. Challenge Yourself.  If you are going to be working out less during the holidays, make sure your workouts count.  Adding in strength training (you should be doing this anyway), plyometrics, HIIT workouts, or something out of the ordinary can rev up your system and help you in burning more fat than your regular workout.  There are so many other ways to do this easily – increasing the intensity on your treadmill or elliptical, holding your yoga pose longer.  Whatever it is, make sure it’s challenging you and see the difference.
  3. Eat Breakfast.  I cannot stress enough how eating a well-rounded, healthy breakfast can change your life.  Protein and the right carbs can be a game-changer for your entire day.  People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat during the day.
  4. Don’t Drink (All) Your Calories.   Have a glass of wine or punch or a beer – just don’t overdo it on the booze or eggnog or cider.  Holiday party drinks are almost always loaded with sugar or fat.  So be on the lookout for that and sip wisely.  In addition to this, making your own java can help save you calories – and money.  Brewing at home as opposed to purchasing overpriced, over-sugared coffees/mochas/lattes/etc. will help you monitor what’s going in your body and what’s coming out of your wallet.

    Sugar Rush

    Enter a caption

  5. Don’t Punish Yourself.  If you’re at a party or a dinner and there is something you really want – eat/drink it.  Just limit yourself.  You don’t necessarily have to eat the entire plate of cookies, but you can have one.  Enjoy it.  Savor it.
  6. Don’t Forget that Christmas/the holidays are not all about food.  Christmas parties and family gatherings are also about being social and spending time with friends and loved ones.  So, step away from the buffet table or the chip bowl or the bar and indulge in the conversation, listen to the music, sit by the fire.  Mingle, tell stories, and Enjoy Yourself!

Partiers

Cheers!

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Nutrition

Nutrition

via

You’d think it would be basic common knowledge by now that good nutrition is important (likely the most important factor) in living healthy, long lives.  But, alas, some people still don’t get it.  You see people non-stop forging garbage into their bodies and then wondering while they are unhappy, unhealthy, overweight, tired, lethargic, have acne, etc.  <– This list goes on and on.

Here it is:

In order for our bodies to function properly and stay healthy, it is important that we follow a good nutritious diet.  Good nutrition provides energy and the building blocks of muscle.

The more you know about the importance of nutrition, the better the good food will taste. Increasing your knowledge on the importance of good nutrition will make healthy foods more appealing to you, not only because of the taste but also because of their nutritional content.  It’s fun to eat when you truly understand what you’re putting into your body.

Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients our bodies need in order to not only function properly, but also allow chemical reactions to occur at a faster rate.

If we think about food as fuel, and even medicine, for our bodies it can give us a better understanding of the role nutrition plays in our overall health, and guide us in making better food choices.

We want to achieve longevity and increased energy and promote growth and happiness, and proper nutrition can assist in all of that.  This does not mean you can’t indulge in “treats” (i.e. the craptastic foods like baked goods and chocolate) on occasion, it means you have to limit putting them in your body and be wiser to the effect the crap foods have on your health.  BALANCE is vital to good health and well-being.

Balance

We know from research that a healthy diet can lower risk of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, some cancers, and diabetes (to name just a few ailments).  Choosing healthier foods and following a proper nutrition plan can also provide mental clarity and clean up hormonal imbalances.  (<–This is part of the reason I love the Whole 30 Program so much.)  And aside from all of this, eating better really just makes one feel better.  You don’t usually get the same satisfaction from French fries and frozen dinners that you get from fresh produce and lean proteins.

The growing epidemic of poor health and obesity and preventable diseases can all be reversed by living healthier – following a healthy and nutritious diet and exercising.

What is comes down to – eating the right foods is as important as the air we breathe.  Choose wisely.

~FB

Early Mornings

Sunrise

I spent the entire summer getting up bright and early to either walk, run, or go to the gym.  And I absolutely loved it.  The early morning fitness became a huge part of my routine and my “me” time.  I enjoyed being up early enough to witness the sunrise each morning, and I enjoyed the solitude.  And, of course, I enjoyed getting more activity into my days.  However, since early October, my morning workouts have somewhat dwindled.  My running partner and I only made it out a few times after the Harvest run, and I haven’t been getting to the gym in the mornings as often as I was…mostly because I’ve been going in the evenings (my fitness routine has not suffered – just changed a bit), and I’ve also continued hiking/walking on my lunch breaks.  I’ve been getting my morning gym sessions in here and there but have been sticking to mostly evenings and weekends.

And once the mornings started getting colder and it was staying darker longer, I just wanted to stay cuddled up in my warm, cozy bed instead of venturing outside for a walk or run.  And every time Running Buddy and I made a plan to get up and get out, something happened or we’d just cancel.

So, we made a pact this weekend to drag our butts out of bed Monday morning and get back into the routine.  And we did it!  And you know what?  I loved it!  I felt so darn good.  Of course, I had to bundle up with extra pants and warmer gear, but I loved every minute of it.  And I hit 10,000 steps before 8:00 am – which almost never happens.  I felt so accomplished that morning and I am definitely planning to stick to the routine as much as possible.

And, as much as I’m dreading winter coming, I am totally looking forward to the solitude of a dusting of light snow in the mornings (here and there).

Early Snow Winter Morning Wallpaper Retina

Doesn’t this look charming?

To be honest, I was dreading getting up so early the other morning but I really enjoyed it – not the dragging my arse out of a warm, cozy bed but that little change my day so much better.  (#littlechanges)

“Small Change, Big Gain”

Last month I wrote a post on my Top 5 Wellness Favorites.  Included in that post, was mention of the company Elysium Health.  Elysium is all about the small, daily habits that lead to a healthier and better life.  And since my post, the team at Elysium has come up with a great infographic and included quotes from some wellness sites – MINE INCLUDED.  (That’s me at the bottom – NSFitBitch.)

ElysiumSCBG

Thank you Elysium for providing this great infographic and for including my post.

~FB

Whole 30 Experience – Days 19 thru 23

Day 19

I skipped my walk this morning and attempted to sleep in, but I basically got up at the same time and got some things done around the house before heading out to work and away for the weekend.  (I settled on a mini-walk around town before work started.)  For breakfast I had two eggs and coffee.

Throughout the morning, I snacked on and off on plantains – and I had a second cup of coffee.

For lunch I had a piece of fish and left over zucchini.  I also snacked on some apple slices mid-afternoon.

I had a Larabar post-workout, and for dinner I had some broccoli with beef.

Later in the evening I snacked on half a dragon fruit and some plantains.

Day 20

Today was my day off – from work and from working out!  Loved it…but I always feel a little guilty about not working out.

For breakfast I had 2 eggs and a breakfast sausage, and of course, coffee.

I spent most of the day in the City doing some shopping and celebrating a birthday, so for dinner out I had a small steak with onions, mixed veggies, and potato.  This was a really great meal out and it kept me satisfied and feeling full all night.  Which worked out well because I had a wedding reception to go to and there was food and booze and dessert…and this gal did not indulge in any of it.  I just enjoyed the company and the atmosphere.

Day 21

Breakfast this morning was one egg, a breakfast sausage, a very small peach, and coffee.

At lunch, I hit the gym and then did some grocery shopping as I’m getting a little bored with veggies and meat.  I also picked up some pumpkin spice coffee because I am a nut for everything pumpkin.  (I also found some pumpkin spice wafers but I’m not able to eat them until October.)

Post-gym/post-shopping, I snacked on a Larabar to tide me over until dinner.  I spent the weekend away so I had some cleaning and laundry and food making to do.  When I finally had dinner, I made a fish taco bowl.  I’ve never made this before but it was so good and I’m definitely going to be making it again.

I had large leaf romaine lettuce (which formed the bowl inside my bowl, but eventually, I made into tacos), diced cucumer and green peppers (I thought I had red onion, but I was wrong – next time, onion for sure), baked haddock, and baked heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, diced black olives. I tossed in a handful of the veggies on top of the lettuce, then added the fish, and spooned some pesto onto it, and added in some avocado, then tossed on some more veggies.  SO GOOD!

Taco

I was sort of bored last night and decided to make Whole 30 compliant cookies/pancakes (they’re pretty flat).  I mashed up two bananas, mixed in two eggs, and some cinnamon.  I blended it up really well then poured it onto a baking sheet and tossed in the oven.  Once they were cooked, I ate two of them. They’re not bad.

Day 22

This morning was a walk/run before work.  It was cool and dark (still dark when I got back home) and the only bad thing about being outside this morning was that a skunk had been hit right by my house.  I could smell it all thru the neighborhood.  I was trying to plug my nose while running but 1. it’s not easy/it’s hard to breathe thru panting and a closed nose 2. I really must have looked stupid to the passersby.

This morning I was happy to (finally) indulge in some pumpkin spice coffee!  So excited. For breakfast I had two eggs and one of my cookies/pancakes with some homemade pumpkin butter spread on.

Pumpkin Butter
 
What You Need:
2 15-ounce cans plain (organic) pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 cup good quality apple juice or apple (I diced mine and threw them in the food processor)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg
 
To Make:
if cooking in a saucepan:
put all ingredients into a saucepan, and bring to a boil, immediately after mixture comes to a boil, reduce to low, partially cover to (help prevent splattering) and simmer about 30 minutes stirring frequently. The pumpkin butter is done when is is slightly darker in color, and you can run a knife through it and the line will stay in the butter. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge or freezer.
 
if cooking in a crock pot:
place all ingredients in a crock pot, and cook on low for a whole day, about 10 hours. Once finished cooking, stir, and let cool. Store in the fridge or freezer

For lunch today I had Eggs in Purgatory – which is a simpler take on Shashuka.  I love this dish.  It’s warm and, although it’s only tomatoes and eggs (I also added mushrooms and spices), it’s hearty.  I have made it with meat before – sometimes chicken and sometimes ground beef or sausage removed from the casings.  It’s really good.  If you like eggs, then I suggest you try this dish.

I had a Larabar mid-afternoon as a pre-workout snack.  And for dinner, I made cauliflower rice stir-fry with chopped up sausage.  Before dinner, I also had 2 of my pancakes with pumpkin butter.  And later in the evening, I snacked on a handful of coconut bites.

Day 23

This morning I was up at 20 to 6 to meet a friend for a pre-work run.  We walked/ran for just under 5k.  We could have gone further but she has to be to work an hour before I do, so we headed back before 7.  Great morning tho and we’re intending to do it again tomorrow.

I had my regular breakfast of coffee and two eggs.  For some reason, this morning they were extra spectacular and tasty.

Once I got to work, I snacked off and on on nuts and cranberries.

For lunch I had leftover Eggs in Purgatory and a lot of water.  I was really full.

Late afternoon, I ate a mango as a pre-workout snack.

Post-workout, I made Pumpkin Cauliflower Rice-otto (instead of risotto).  Oh.Em.Gee.  I’ve made regular pumpkin risotto before, and the cauliflower-rice version is just as good. And super easy to prepare:

Risotto

Here’s my recipe:

I sauteed 1/3 onion and 3 small garlic cloves in ghee (clarified butter) – but you can certainly use olive oil.  I sauteed them for a few minutes then added in 1/2 cup of mushrooms.  Once that was sauteed for about 2 minutes, I dumped in a big bowl of riced cauliflower…I used up what I had left which worked out to be about 2 cups.  The regular calls for vegetable or chicken stock, but for the healthier version I just added in water. You have to add in a bit of water every few minutes and stir it in.  Eventually, I also added in some more ghee, about a half a teaspoon.   Cook the rice for about 7 minutes and then add in the pumpkin.  Because I had so much rice, I used close to a cup and a half.  Mix it and keep an eye on it.  You may have to add a little more water (the cauliflower is very absorbent).  Cook for another 5-7 minutes, add in salt and pepper, and serve.

I have to also admit that, since I went shopping after teaching my boot camp class, and by the time I showered and did laundry and was making dinner, I totally snacked on some plantains and coconut.  🙂

~FB

Whole 30 Experience – Days 5, 6, 7, & 8

Day 5 

I managed to stay up this morning and get my walk in.  In fact, I was up before my alarm was due to go off.  Even better.

For breakfast I had my regular coffee, 2 eggs, and the last slice of the prosciutto.  You likely won’t hear my talk about the prosciutto anymore.  I only bought it on a whim because it was on sale.  😝

Once I got to work I sipped on a black iced coffee from McDonald’s. and at 10:30 I had some coconut chips to munch on and a little after 11am I had half a blueberry smoothie.

For lunch I had mixed grilled veggies and chopped up hamburger patty.  There were Timbits floating around my office but I steered clear.

After a Friday afternoon gym sesh I headed out of town for the weekend.  My beau and I picked up a small rotisserie chicken for dinner and I had some watermelon and plantain to go with it.

Day 6

Today was rest day so aside from my coffee I didn’t bother to eat until later – for brunch I had 1 egg, 1 sausage round (compliant), and a small salad with garlic olive oil.

For dinner my beau took me out for anniversary dinner and I had pan-fried haddock, mixed veggies, and some home fries.  Thank goodness white potatoes are compliant (now).

In the evening we had a movie date and while popcorn was going around, I snacked on some plantain chips and salsa.

Day 7

This morning I had breakfast of two eggs and some prosciutto (look at that, more prosciutto) and, of course, coffee.

I hit the gym early afternoon and then spent the next few hours at my BFF’s working on new videos for my online boot camp (starting September 4!).  I was super exhausted and struggled to get through the video exercises and then realized I hadn’t had any carbs.  Whoops.  So bestie grabbed us each a pear to chow on.  Thank goodness because by that point my sugars had also dropped and I was dizzy.

For dinner I made a pork burger (aka I chopped a pork chop in half) on a sweet potato bun (complete with avocado, dill pickle, and tomato {I forgot the lettuce}) with a side of cauliflower mash.  It was so delicious.

Day 8

Whoot!  Made it thru week one with no cravings.  Although, I did have some really bad belly bloat that lasted most of the week that I’ve never really experienced before.  I’ve heard about people having issues with bloating and other things while getting thru the first week or so of Whole 30.  But this was my first time.

After a 40 minute walk this morning, for breakfast I had two eggs and some prosciutto (I swear I only got it again because it was still on sale!) and coffee.

A little after 11am I had 6 cherries to snack on.  I still feel hungry but I’m trying to hold out for lunch.

Lunch today is leftover cauliflower mash and a 1/4 chopped up pork chop (leftover).  I snacked a bit throughout the afternoon on a combo of plantains and cherries.  And about an hour before teaching my boot camp class I shoved a banana in my face. #fuel

For dinner I made – FROM SCRATCH – coconut chicken tenders (slice a b/s chicken breast into strips and dip them into melted ghee and then into coconut (I also added in a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic & herbs) and zucchini noodles.  I also made a dessert/snack of sweet potato brownie:  sweet potato (cooked and scooped from the skin shell), melted coconut butter and nut butter (I used almond-hazelnut), and cocoa powder.  Mix it all together and pop it in the oven.  I made enough for a single serving.  It was actually really good and tasted like a warm, gooey brownie.  I know I’m not technically supposed to be having dessert, but, I’m recovering and refueling.

~Cheers

 

 

If It’s Too Good to be True…

My social media feeds are sometimes flowing with sales pitches for things like skinny wraps and magic teas and this and that – all for the benefit of losing weight.  Let’s be real people – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Most of these products want you to either eat or drink nothing for days, all while boasting “you’ll lose 10 pounds in one week!” or “Drop a dress size over night!” <– WTF??  Seriously?  This one’s not gonna happen.

BULL SHIT

This post was in my Facebook feed a while back and the so-called story behind it is that she spend hundreds of dollars on skinny wraps and greens and all that jazz and ended up like this.  I.Call.Bull.Shit!

Whatever happened to not putting all kinds of shit in your mouth and actually working for your weight loss.

Put down the cookies.  Put down the beer.  Get up and go for a walk or to the gym or to a class.

Those “magic” products aren’t really going to guarantee you lose weight AND CERTAINLY aren’t good for your health.  (And let’s be freaking honest – any weight that you may lose is going to be water weight – especially if you’re drinking teas or sweating if off in wraps! You’ll gain it right back.).  And those products that boast “cleansing” or “detoxing” – um, you have a liver for that!  Seriously.  Don’t waste your money.

Skinny Wrap

No, airhead, you should have not eaten that whole bag of chips and laid on the couch all day – you SHOULD HAVE gotten some exercise and had a healthy snack.

Instead, look at YOURSELF as an investment and if you really want to slim down or get healthier, invest in yourself – whether it’s money or time or effort.

Remember when Oprah said there is no such thing as a magic pill to make you lose weight because if there was she’d be on it.  Well – she’s right.  There is not.  You have to work for it. And working for it means watching what you eat and making better decisions about your food choices and finding the time to exercise.  Even if it’s for only 20 minutes a day.  How many times do I have to say it: twenty minutes a day can change your life!

The next time you’re inclined to spend some hard earned cash on a quick fix wrap or tea, reconsider.  Use your money wisely.  Invest in yourself and make some real changes that will benefit you long term – not just for the quick fix.

You’re worth it.

~FB

 

Slaying the Sugar Dragon

SugarDragon

I finished my last Whole30 in May and it was a really great 30 days of strictly clean eating – with the exception of having a small sliver of cake at my grandfather’s 99th birthday party.  I fully acknowledged I would possibly being doing that prior to starting my 30 days in May and I fully made amends with it.  I have done the Whole 30 program so many times over the last two years and I decided that if I wanted to have a piece of cake with my grandfather to celebrate his 99th birthday, I darn well would!  And without the guilt (although I did feel some) and without restarting the program.  Like I said, I’ve committed to 30 days many times in the past and this one indulgence was an exception to the rule.

THEWHOLE30

This book changes everything!

But, since I finished those 30 days and since the start of summer, I feel like I have been overindulging way too much.  I feel sluggish and fat and bloated and kinda disgusting.  So, I decided last week that I would start a new Whole 30 this coming week.

At first I was okay with it.  Then I was feeling a little panicky because I’ve been enjoying my treats this summer.  And that right there is the problem!  Too many treats!  the sugar dragons are slaying me and I need to change that around.  So, now I’m back on board and fully excited about starting fresh on Monday.  I literally cannot wait.

So why wait?  I’m sure you’re asking.  Because I need to get ready.  To be honest, I (personally) don’t find the Whole 30 program that hard.  There have been a few times in the past that I struggled a bit with cravings, but most of the times I’ve done the program, I have been A-OK.  And I’m pretty stubborn, so when I commit myself to doing something like this, I fully commit to it.  That being said, it’s not something I want to jump into.  I need a couple of days to plan it out.  I need to think about food choices and meals and preparation and “it’s still summer and where am I gonna be next week?” types of things.

But I’m ready.  And I am motivated and committed and I can’t wait.  And each time I look in the mirror and I see that weird little belly bloat, it gives me the kick-in-the-butt-motivation I need to ensure I go through with it.

Sugar Dragon

That’s me slaying the beast…I’m the one in pink.

If you haven’t tried this program, I encourage you to do so.  It’s only for 30 days and it can help you rid your body of bloat and inflammation and possibly even excess weight.  The benefit of ridding yourself of sugar cravings and having food freedom – even for only 30 days – can make it all worthwhile.  And you don’t have to skimp on meals or count calories. You get to eat delicious, fresh and whole foods.  And you can experiment with different foods or food combination.  I have never felt less than satisfied when doing a Whole 30.  And Pinterest is a great place to find recipes, guidance (although I fully recommend that you read the book The Whole 30, it might change your life), meal ideas, etc.  Here’s a link for some great lunch ideas.

If you’re not ready to try 30 days of clean eating, maybe ask yourself why.  What would you be afraid of?  That chocolate cake or ice cream sundae will still be there in a month’s time. Going without processed mayo (Whole 30 has several recipes for mayo) is not going to end you.  Check out the book and the website and consider giving it a try.  And if you have any questions, comment below or shoot me an email

~Cheers.

 

Push-up Challenge

PushupsHappy 1st day of August! To celebrate the start of a brand new month, I’m challenging you all to the 20 Push-ups a Day Challenge. It’s pretty simple – you commit to doing 20 push-ups a day for the next month. Easy peasy. You can do any variation, so modified push-ups are fine. Comment below “I’m in” or inbox me to let me know the challenge has been accepted – and away we go!!

Why Push-Ups? 

Push-ups are one of the basic and most common exercises for the human body.  They are great for your chest, and help defining your abs, triceps, shoulders, and torso.  They are an incredible exercise for overall strength improvement.

Push-ups can be performed no matter where you are and don’t require any equipment or gym. The benefits of push-ups are plentiful.  They will improve muscular endurance within the upper body, strengthen both muscles and bones, create lean muscle mass that raises your metabolism and, of course, help keep you fit and healthy. 

~FB

Start

Happy Monday Morning!!

Today is the start of a brand new day…and week.  So why not make the decision that today will be the day you change your life.

Bad Workout

Deciding to start a fitness program or healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to commit to running a marathon or hitting the gym every day or signing up for an intense boot camp class (though, you’re more than welcome to come to mine!).  You can start your brand new life by going for small walk around your block or adding in the Commercial Break Workout to your TV watching routine or even, since it’s summer, going for a swim.

Just do something.

I promise you that if you started adding a little fitness (and healthier eating) into your life your body will thank you.  And soon enough, your body will crave it.  Chances are you will feel more energized and happy and excited…and proud.

So, Happy Monday!  Make today the day you change your life.

~FB