Thursday, November 18, 2010

How To Have A Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

Well, it's about that time of the year again, folks, my favorite holiday: THANKSGIVING!!! A time to give thanks and have fun with family & friends. It's also around that time of the year where most people's healthy eating habits take a major nose dive. Don't feel too bad, it's totally understandable, one of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is the food! What other time of the year are you not only allowed but expected to stuff yourself with turkey, ham, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, pumpkin and pecan pies... the list goes on and on! With all those temptations, gaining weight over the holidays is inevitable, right? WRONG! I can proudly say that for the last 2 years I've not only maintained my weight but have even managed to lose a couple of pounds. How? Well, first, I maintain my exercise routine. I can't stress enough how important exercise is to losing and maintaining weight. A lot of people fall into the trick of thinking that once they've met their weight loss goal, they can now stop exercising but you've gotta' keep burning those calories! Not only for maintenance but for your overall health. And if you've been lucky enough to find your soul-mate workout (Team Turbo all the way, baby! :) ) you should have little to no problem in that area. Secondly, the real key to having a guilt-free Thanksgiving is realizing that a lot of those wonderful foods that you love around this time of year are still within your reach, it's knowing which ones are good for you and which ones aren't, and also, having healthy recipes and alternatives.

10 Surprisingly Healthy Holiday Foods

Turkey is a dynamite healthy protein source – that is, unless it's deep fried and slathered with gravy. A serving of turkey provides almost half of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid and is a good source of vitamin B, zinc, and potassium. These nutrients have been found to keep blood cholesterol down, protect against cancer and heart disease, and boost the immune system. A normal portion size is usually 3 to 4 ounces -- and if you stick to white meat and peel the skin off, you'll literally save hundreds of calories at the Thanksgiving table. Fortunately, turkey is one of those dieter's dream foods that will fill you up when you eat just a little.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest vegetables around, just as long as you don't douse them with butter, marshmallows, or some other high-calorie holiday sabotage. If roasted, which keeps the flavor very intense without adding fat, sweet potatoes burst with fiber, vitamin A, potassium, and phytochemicals, which stave off aging, cancer, and arthritis. Plus, they're very filling, so you don't have to overload your plate with them.

Few people realize that cranberries are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants and their fiber content helps to lower "bad" cholesterol levels. However, because these beautiful berries are naturally low in sugar, many recipes call for large doses of added sweetener. Steer clear of all that sugar and instead try adding a sugar substitute like Splenda to keep this side dish healthy.

Power to the pomegranate! This gorgeous fruit is proving its worth as one of the richest sources of antioxidants around, and it's popping up more and more in holiday dishes. You can indulge in the pomegranate's benefits by simply buying a bottle of its juice to add to your favorite recipe, or sprinkling the seeds over a salad.

Talk about a healthy food in need of a name change. This fluffy side is often regarded as one of the most fattening holiday dishes, but with only a few minor adjustments it can actually be a healthy standout. Pack it with nuts, dried fruits, carrots, and celery, and you'll benefit from fiber and a range of vitamins, recommends Krieger. Also, and this is crucial: Use low sodium chicken broth instead of butter to keep the dish moist and low in fat.

For me, it's not Thanksgiving without a slice of pumpkin pie and luckily this veggie is packed with heart-healthy fiber and vitamin A! Plus, pumpkin is very moist, you don't have to add lots of unhealthy ingredients to make it taste flavorful yet still be low-fat (sub in skim and egg substitutes to make any recipe healthier). A guaranteed way to avoid accidentally gorging on a high-fat dessert? Bring your own pie, so you know what's in it.

Prefer pecans to pumpkin? Instead of plunging into a heap of high-fat pie, try sprinkling this star nut over salads, add it to your stuffing, or snack on a few as a precursor to the meal. Pecans are a great source of vitamin E and magnesium, which supports muscle strength. Plus, they're packed with protein, fiber, and the same "good" fats as olive oil.

Collard Greens
Collards are ultra-healthy – except when sabotaged by greasy fat sources like pork, a popular additive in many holiday recipes, which I know I'm guilty of. If you just can't give up flavoring your greens, like me, use turkey bacon or saute the veggie in olive oil. Also, by preparing these leafy greens in a steamer, you'll leave out the unnecessary calories and gain a ton of vitamins and antioxidants.

Nutmeg and Cinnamon
More and more research is being conducted on the health benefits of spices. Nutmeg, with its nutty, earthy flavor, and cinnamon, which shines with its sweetness, can do a whole lot more than garnish eggnog. Mixing these spices into fruit or vegetable sides can help you lower your cholesterol and maintain insulin levels in the blood. So I say, load up!

Red Wine
While wine and cocktails can add needless calories to an already over-the-top meal, wine delivers heart-healthy properties in exchange for its calorie count (about 100 calories per 5-ounce serving). All wine is naturally heart-healthy, but red wines will provide the most antioxidant bang for your calorie buck. And take note: the dryer the wine, the higher the concentration of those disease-fighting properties. To keep your calorie count to a minimum, ask your host for a spritzer -- half wine, half calorie-free seltzer water.

I hope this list of healthy foods and tips helps you out through the Thanksgiving holiday! Have A Happy Guilt-Free Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Climbing Air

Hello fitness & nutrition lovers! It's review time!!! I've got a fitness product to share with you that may be new to some, old to others but definitely worth mentioning! Now those of you who know me or who have been reading this blog for awhile know that although I love to workout I'm not a gym rat. I've exercised in a gym 2 or 3 times, but all my weight loss has been accomplished from working out at home. I'm a self-professed "exercise video queen" so the majority of my at home workouts come from a variety of exercise videos (Turbo Jam, Leslie Sansone, and The FIRM just to name a few) but I also have a few pieces of workout equipment in my fitness arsenal as well and the product I am about to introduce to you is one of them. Quick question first, "Have you ever thought about how if would feel to climb air?" I'm sure you're sitting there after just reading that question and thinking "What?!? What is she talking about?" Well, the product that I'm about to discuss uses this very principle of "climbing air" in order to workout. This product is The Total Body AirClimber by Brenda DyGraf.

So What Is The AirClimber? And How Does It Work?

The AirClimber is a fun workout which allows you to get cardio, weight loss, and tighter abs & core while you step on air! The system uses air to eliminate impact while each step lifts and shapes toned legs. Only the AirClimber has Air Power Technology which actually helps you workout! With every step, air flows from pedal to pedal, inflating the bellows and eliminating jarring impact to your joints. This same air power also helps you workout by lifting your legs to keep you moving.

Along with the actual Airclimber, this total body system includes:

  • Resistance Cord
  • Easy Air Express DVD with four workouts which include: 20-minute "Easy Air Express" workout, 30-minute "Super 7 Pump" workout, 20-minute "AirTight Abs" workout and 20-minute "Platinum Burn & Firm"
  • The Eating Right Now meal plan
  • Jump Start meal plan
  • Owner's Manual & Training Guide

The AirClimber supports up to 300lbs and is fairly small, measuring  22"L x 19-1/4"W x 10"H, so it's perfect if you don't have a lot of space or live in an apartment.

To see exactly how the AirClimber works and preview the 4 workouts that are included, click here to see video!

My Review...

The Pros
Well, as stated above, it's small and that's a major plus for me. I live in an apartment and don't have much room for big exercise equipment. This can easily be taken from room to room without a problem. Which reminds me of another pro, it's portable. I love the fact that it comes with a resistance cord so you can work your arms and really get a total body workout. The 4 workouts are a big plus. And while I like the exercise workouts that come with the AirClimber system, another major pro is that you're not stuck with only working out from a DVD, you can do this workout while listening to music or even watching TV. Which leads me to another pro, it's fairly quite, so it's not something that would wake up the whole house or your neighbors when you decide to use it. The whole "climbing on air" concept really is pretty cool. I've worked out on regular steppers before and the difference is night and day. Regular steppers can have a big impact on your joints but I honestly don't think anyone would have a problem with the AirClimber. It's light and easy, but can also provide a challenge. There are different levels you can set the system to from 1 to 5 with 1 being the easiest and 5 being the toughest and depending on your personal fitness level and the speed at which you're stepping, you can work up quite a sweat! It's totally possible to get that feeling of soreness the next day - letting you know that you've definitely worked your muscles in a way that you hadn't worked them before and slim, toned results will soon follow! :)

Overall I'm very pleased with this product. It's super easy but effective. I've had it for around 2 years with no problems at all. It's great when I feel like doing something different and low-impact.

The Cons
To be honest, I really only have 2 cons with this product but they're a matter of personal choice so I'm not sure if they could even be considered cons. I'm a high-impact, cardio loving type of girl and this machine, while it's great for toning it's most definitely low-impact. You're not going to burn a lot of calories doing this - especially if you're already in pretty good shape. My other con is that it can get kind of boring which is why it's not something I do everyday. I think as exercise equipment goes it's "fun" but I'm not a big exercise equipment fan period, for example, walking on a treadmill or working out on an eliptical is boring for me, so that's kind of a personal opinion con.

Would I recommend The AirClimber? Most definitely! It's a great piece of small exercise equipment if you're looking for something new and different. And one pro that I neglected to mention above is that it's cheap! I got mine for $99 and I just recently found it on for $79! When it comes to exercise equipment that is super cheap! Plus, it lasts! I've heard some complaints of the air not lasting in the bellows but one warning that is stated in the owner's manual that I will also give you here now: always deflate the air while not using! I've always done this since the day 1 and have had absolutely no problems. So if you've got a little extra money and this sounds like something that you might be interested in, I say, give it a try!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Four-Letter Word

Hello fitness peeps! I think it's time we talked about that dreaded four-letter word that we all know and have come to despise. There's no point in me beating around the bush about it, I'm just going to say it. Get ready... here it comes... DIET.

"It's called 'DIET' because all the other four-letter words were taken."
The word diet simply defines the food we ingest each day, but now it has become a four-letter word that has different meanings for different people. For some, "diet" has become synonymous with failure. They've tried every diet you could name and while some of those diets equaled a few pounds lost, they never seemed to work out for them in the long run. Me? I have a love/hate type of relationship with the word. You see, I've found that it's not that a lot of the diets you hear about don't work, in fact, it's quite the opposite, the majority of diets out there do work. The key to any diet being labeled as a success or failure is actually sticking to it, that's the part I always had a hard time with and that's the part that the majority of our population has a hard time with as well. Dieting has become a national pastime, with everyone waiting in line for the next diet of the month. There are some very valid diets out there: diets for diabetics, for stroke victims, for ulcer patients, and so forth, but when I say "diet of the month" I'm talking about the kinds of diets that require that you only eat in a prescribed way. The reality is, the idea of only eating one type of way, maybe only eating one type of food or cutting out an entire food group, is just not something most people can stick to for long term, and more importantly, can actually be very unhealthy for your body. Diet is actually a good word; it's dieting that starts the trouble. As I stated above, diet means the food we consume that fuels our bodies, while "dieting" offers only the two d's: deprivation and depression.

So how do we bring the word diet back to its original meaning? How about simply viewing diet as the fuel we give our bodies? The better grade of fuel we put in our bodies, the better our bodies will run! Sticking with the gasoline analogy: Your "regular" fuel is sweets, dairy, and fats. Your "unleaded" fuel is carbs and proteins. Your "premium" is fruits and veggies. Most of the time you want your body to be running on a mixture of premium and unleaded, with limited amounts of regular. Moderation is key! I'll be the first to admit, portion control has always been a big problem for me (I come from a family, as most of us do, where eating seconds was just a natural thing to do if the food was good), but I'm hear to tell you, it doesn't matter what type of foods your eating, if you're eating too many calories you're going to gain weight! Eating healthier helps. Once you start a more healthier diet, you become more aware and concerned with what you're feeding yourself, and therefore how much you actually need. You see, a diet that consists of healthful eating is forever!  

That's why personally I don't like to think of myself as ever being on a "diet" or "dieting", but instead, I have developed a new healthy way of eating for life!