What’s in Your Glass? (It could be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss!)

If you feel like you have hit a plateau in your weight loss efforts, you are not alone. It is not uncommon to lose several pounds and then suddenly find that those numbers on the scale have turned stubborn. They aren’t moving up, but they aren’t moving down either—in spite of your best efforts to be healthy.

When this happens it is necessary to look for hidden sources of calories in your diet. Often, the culprit is your beverage choice. What you drink can have a profound impact on how much you weigh.

Proceed with caution

You may be surprised to learn how many calories your favorite drinks are hiding. That 12 ounce can of soda has 124-189 calories! Love your Latte? The 12 ounce nonfat Caffe Latte at Starbucks has 120 calories. And even fruit juice is guilty—a 12 ounce glass of apple juice will set you back around 170 calories.

Those calories quickly add up. If you are on a 1,500 calorie diet, you can drink away almost one fourth of your daily calories in just a couple of glasses!

The problem is that many people do not stop to consider the calories in their beverages when they are calculating their calorie intake for the day. What this means is that those liquid calories end up being extra—and therefore can bring your weight loss to a grinding halt, or worse, reverse your hard work.

Dangerous calories

The trouble with drinking calories goes beyond a few pesky pounds. The source of the calories in beverages is usually sugar. Many beverages contain sugar. And it’s not just a little sugar. It’s a lot of sugar, to the tune of 10 teaspoons per 12 ounces of both Orange Juice and Coca-Cola classic! And don’t turn to Vitamin Water to reduce your liquid calories. It delivers a surprising 4-5 teaspoons of sugar! Trust me: there are better ways to get your vitamins!

Sugar causes weight gain in a couple of different ways. The obvious way is by slamming your body with extra calories. But there is a more sinister way as well. When you drink that sugar, it ends up in your bloodstream as glucose and raises the glucose level in your blood. Your body recognizes this as dangerous, so your pancreas starts working overtime to release insulin to clear out the extra glucose.

But that extra glucose has to go somewhere! And that is why insulin is called the fat storage hormone. Insulin sweeps the glucose out of your blood and stores it in your cells as fat.

Therefore, if you are drinking your calories, your weight loss plateau may be the unhappy consequence.

The solution is to train your taste buds to enjoy less sugary beverages. Water is the best choice. This summer, try putting slices of lemon or lime in your water. You can also freeze fruit in ice cube trays and let the fruit slowly flavor your water as the cubes melt.

Learn to drink unsweetened tea and coffee as well. Just be patient with yourself—it may take a few weeks for your taste buds to stop complaining and begging for sugar! Decrease the sugar in your drinks gradually, for a painless transition, and get ready to break out of your weight loss plateau!

Tips & Tricks for Adding More Movement into Your Day

Too much time in a chair can cause cancer, blood sugar spikes, heart disease, mental health problems and even early death. Reading that, may make us want to toss the chairs out of our homes and offices, but of course that is not practical.

Working out every day doesn’t completely solve the problem either. As it turns out, the problem has more to do with how long our muscles are inactive rather than how much time we spend working out.

So what is the answer? Our lives are very sedentary—much more sedentary than even our parents’ or our grand parents’ lives. And as a result, we are a sicker society. Is there a way to fight the threat of our chairs?

Yes, there is. The answer is to get up and move.

It is really as simple as that.

Now, you definitely need to make time for an intense workout at some point during nearly every day of the week. That goes without saying. But beyond the workout, if you want to combat the threat of sitting, it is crucial that you sit less and move more.

What do we mean by move more? It’s just a matter of getting up and walking around, taking the stairs, going to the mail box, or visiting a colleague’s office rather than sending him an email.

The bottom line is that we’ve got to move more, and the secret is to not only increase the duration of time that we are moving, but also the frequency. In other words, we need to move more and we need to do it more often.

In fact, some suggest that we get up and move around every 20 minutes. Others recommend getting up every 60 minutes.

Does this seem like it would be distracting?

Actually, you will probably find that you focus better and are more creative if you step back from your work a couple of times every hour or so. The mind can only stay in laser-focus mode for so long before it needs to be recharged with a little rest. Taking ‘movement breaks’ will not only help your health, it will help your productivity as well!

Of course, since most of us are not used to taking frequent breaks in our work, half the battle is simply remembering to stand up and move. The solution is to simply set a timer to remind yourself. Decide how often you want to get up, and set the time on your phone, your computer or even an egg-timer on your desk. When the timer sounds, get up.

The next question becomes then, ‘What to do when you get up?’

Use the following tips and tricks add some life-giving movement into your day:

1. Hold walking meetings. Some people have found success in taking meetings outside. Walking along a park’s trail works just as well as sitting around a conference table.

2. Install a treadmill desk. Treadmill desks are simply treadmills with a desk attachment upon which you can place your computer, phone and other office supplies. You can work while walking at a slow speed.

3. Take the stairs. If you typically use an elevator to get to your office or your apartment, consider taking the stairs instead. You can also use the stairs to just get a little movement in during your sitting breaks.

4. Keep hand weights handy. Engaging the muscles in your upper body is a great way to get your blood moving and give your metabolism a boost.

5. Choose a different parking spot. Rather than choosing a close parking spot, choose one that will force you to have a good walk when visiting stores or arriving for work.

6. Stand up when the phone rings. Make it a habit to not take calls sitting down.

7. Mingle while standing. If you are used to sinking into a chair in the break room or at networking events, resist the urge; socialize on your feet.

It is worth the effort to find ways to sit less and move more. Your life depends on it!

Small Steps to BIG BENEFITS

Going organic is one of the healthiest choices you can make for yourself and your family. You really can’t put a price tag on investing in your health and the health of those you care about. However, I wanted to give you some money-saving tips when it comes to buying organic and higher quality foods.

SWITCH STORES

Stores that specialize in fresh, organic foods like Whole Foods and local co-ops are reasonably priced and take a lot of the guesswork out of going organic.

SHOP LOCAL

Find nearby organic farmers and buy your meats, eggs and produce from them directly. Farmer’s markets or CSA’s (community share agriculture) are great options.

PICK AND CHOOSE

Generally, grass-fed free range ground meats are less expensive than grass-fed steaks. If you have to choose between spending money on higher-quality meats/proteins and organic produce, pick higher quality meats/proteins. Antibiotics, pesticides and hormones run rampant in non-organic meat and eggs.

SHOP FOR SALES

When grass-fed meat or other staples go on sale at Whole Foods or your local co-op, buy a bunch and stick it in your freezer for later use.

GET INTO GARDENING

Start small – you will be amazed at how much money you will save.

Though there are several ways to start down an organic path, just remember: you don’t need to dive in headfirst right away; small changes go a long way!

Staying Fit While Still Being Social

When you think about getting together with friends for an evening, what activities come to mind? Catching a movie? Meeting up at a favorite restaurant? What about an office party or a summer get-together?

More than likely, the center of the activity for these functions centers around food and leisure, rather than physical activity or working out.

It also doesn’t help that we tend to indulge a little more when we are with friends and in a celebratory atmosphere. If we’re with a group of people enjoying a night on the town or a weekend getaway, we’re likely to treat ourselves to an extra drink or a dessert that we would otherwise resist.

For this reason alone, summer can actually work against your fitness goals. When the weather is nice we tend to socialize more—which is fine. But when that socialization brings more tempting treats and moves us off track from our good habits, it’s time to make a plan to say fit while still enjoying an active, summer social life.

One thing you can do is be the instigator. In your circle of colleagues or friends, suggest get-togethers that require physical activity. Suggest an afternoon of walking or even a weekend hiking trip. When the main attraction of a gathering requires physical exertion, people are less likely to gravitate to the lounge chairs and beer coolers!

You can also put your fitness first. Don’t sacrifice your daily workout for the party. Even if you have developed the habit of consistently working out, it is easy to get busy and skip a workout here and there because of a busy schedule or a fun invitation. Before you know it, you will wake up one morning and realize that it has been weeks since you had a really good workout. Make every invitation you accept conditional on whether you get your workout in that day. Parties and social gatherings then become a reward for sticking to your fitness routines!

Be a leader. Seriously. Did you know that researchers have demonstrated that if your friend becomes obese, you are 57% more likely to become obese yourself? And if your close friend becomes obese, then your chances of also becoming obese rises to 171%! But the researchers also think that it works the other way around. Namely, that while weight gain is contagious, so too is weight loss.1 This means that as you work hard to protect your own fitness level this summer, in doing so you can also have a profound affect on the fitness level of your friends. Be known for health and discipline in your circle of friends.

Finally, one of the smartest things you can do to stay fit while keeping up with your social circle is to get accountability. Don’t be a lone ranger. If you have others who are working hard to live a life of vibrant health checking up on you and holding you to your comittments, your chances of staying on track skyrocket.

1 http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1646997,00.html

Back to School Lunches

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “Schools have become hazardous health zones full of empty calories, junk food, and stripped-down physical education programs that are cultivating a nation of fatter, dumber, and more aggressive kids.” While that may be a bit harsh, I think we can all agree there is some truth to it. School kitchens contain deep fryers, microwaves, and displays for candy and junk food, how can children stay healthy or learn? When we watched the film, Fed Up, I was shocked that schools allow fast food to be served!

So what can you do as parents to raise smarter, fitter, and happier children? Here are two suggestions for improving the quality of nutrition your children are receiving.

1. Take Back Your Homes by eating at home together as a family and feeding your children a protein rich whole food breakfast.

2. Pack your child’s lunch.

Packing a Whole Foods Lunch

Packing a whole foods based lunch may be challenging if you have a picky eater, that was me growing up but I quickly grew out of that when I started to learn about nutrition and what was good for my body. Use packing lunches as an opportunity to educate your children on how the food they eat can affect how they feel and perform. Encourage your kids to be the ones to choose what goes into their lunches from whole food options that you give them. This way, the food you pack will actually stand a change of getting eaten. Don’t get caught up in the fact that lunches for you or your kids have to be fancy. Often times the simpler the better…ensure there is protein, vegetables, healthy fat, and fruit or a starchy carbohydrate.

Below are some suggestions of whole food and more optimal processed foods to pack.

Hard boiled eggs Chicken Sausages

Applegate or Thousand Hills Hot Dogs Leftover Crock-pot Chicken

Apple sprinkled w/cinnamon Dried fruit: mango, apricots, etc.

Raw or cooked veggies: carrots, celery, etc Banana or plantain chips

Ham or turkey roll-up Kerrygold cheese

Fruit: grapes, strawberries, clementine, etc. Dark choc. Chips or a square

Popcorn made with coconut oil Honest brand chips

Nut thin crackers Lara or Kind bars

Paleo muffins or breakfast cookies Paleo Kits

No sugar added applesauce Leftover beef or pork roast

Applegate pepperoni or salami Leftover meatballs

Medjool dates Maple Hill creamery yogurt

Homemade tuna salad Soups, chili

Clif Kid Organic Fruit Rope YumEarth Organics fruit snacks

Stretch Island Fruit Co. fruit strips That’s It bars

Homemade grain free granola Homemade trail mix

Justin’s Nut Butter packets Coconut butter packets

Chocolate covered almonds

Lunch Box Options

LunchBots is a wonderful stainless steel option for packing lunches. They have a variety of sizes as well as thermal options to keep soups or chilis warm.

Opting for a stainless steel lunch box is important for a variety of reasons:

· Recent studies have shown a correlation between chemicals found in plastics (BPA&phthalates) and short & long-term health concerns.

· Only food grade stainless steel comes in contact with your food. No toxins.

· Refill your LunchBots over and over, save money and add zero waste to landfills.

· Your child has the coolest lunch boxJ

Find LunchBots here: www.lunchbots.com

Kicking the Crazy Life

There’s no denying it – every hour of every day, you’re pulled in what feels like a million directions. We scramble from task to task and it’s never enough! More and more, we push those moments of personal appreciation further into the background with the idea that we’ll take the time of ourselves “later”. That elusive idea of “me-time” is a myth as far as most of us are concerned, but should it be? No way, my friend!

WHO NEEDS “ME”?

You actually need some chill time. Time devoted to you recharges your social batteries, helps you regulate your needs and responses (even assisting in strengthening your self-control) and de-stresses you. Going without, on the other hand, compounds matters – and grinding though your work and social calendar day in and day out can actually be harmful for your mental and physical health. So, how can you unplug in a world where you are constantly wired (or 4g-ed) into the grid?

TIME BANKING

When you’re struggling to figure out just when you should be taking some time devoted to you, the old adage, “time is money”, is a fave – your time is worth some serious dollar bills! But, while we certainly use that mentality when thinking about wasting time, we’re not good at managing our time like we would manage our money. When you’ve got to have that new pair of shoes, you know just how to save for them, and you shuffle the cash around accordingly. Think of your time in the same way! Keep the priority level for some good old me, myself and I time high, and you’ll be feeling it in every aspect of your life.

COULD YOU USE A TRIM?

Other than the obvious, is there a reason why you keep yourself busy? More and more, we find that people are actually scared of downtime. It sounds bonkers, but let’s face it, when you do have a spare hour, how do you spend it? If you find yourself more often that not worrying about future to-dos or past tasks, then you might be subconsciously avoiding “me-time” in general. With this in mind, what are you doing in your life that is contributing nothing (or very little) to you or your community’s well-being? Put those parts of your busy life on the chopping block and substitute some well-deserved recognition of the almighty you instead.

Remember that time devoted to yourself is not a waste! Studies show that people comfortable with alone time actually have lower rates of depression, better self-satisfaction, and fewer physical maladies. How’s that for a mind-body connection? Invest in yourself, and devote some time to YOU! Trust us, you’ve earned it.

Why Chlorophyll is Your New Best Friend

Your mom was always on your case to “eat your greens,” and she was right! It turns out that the power of our plant food comes from their characteristic hues, and greens are in a class of their own! Just why are verdant veggies so important? It turns out that it’s all in the chemistry. Green coloration in plants is caused by the power pigment chlorophyll, which has some surprisingly fabulous effects on our bodies. In a plant, chlorophyll is its energy powerhouse working to turn rays of sunlight into plant fuel, but once it gets off your plate and into your mouth, chlorophyll goes to work on you too!

And it’s no slouch! This mighty green molecule boosts oxygen uptake in the blood and will keep you energized and fatigue free. Additionally, chlorophyll is a carrier of micronutrient magnesium, which is a key player in how we process and create energy in our cells. Chlorophyll carried magnesium helps to metabolize vitamin C, potassium, and sodium (which, in turn, helps to regulate inflammation and swelling), and even more miraculous—chlorophyll is an amazing antioxidant and acts against the accumulation of toxins and free radicals.

The bottom line: chlorophyll rocks. So how do you get your fill? Bring on the veggies! But of course, not all vegetables are created equal. Winners in the category of chlorophyll kings are fab foods like artichoke, parsley, kale, asparagus, arugula, and collard greens. If you want a serious chlorophyll hit, get yourself some blue-green algae or seaweed. Remember, don’t just eat it—drink it too! Pour yourself a glass of matcha green tea or maybe even dress up your water with a few drops of straight up chlorophyll extract. Keep the chlorophyll coming and enjoy your body when you make it a lean, mean, green-munching machine!

Meal Planning & Preparation

I say this phrase almost EVERYTIME I do a workshop or talk to a group about nutrition.

“Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail”

If you are really SERIOUS about making a change in your nutrition then meal planning is a must.

Think for a moment about the areas in your life that you excel at… Maybe you run a successful business or household, you have a successful career, you exercise consistently, [insert your thing]. Whatever it may be, my guess is that the success you are experiencing didn’t just happen, there was a lot that went into getting where you are right now…including planning.

When I made the conscious decision to start preparing the large majority of our meals and changing the composition of those meals, I had to make some tough decisions. You see; we all have the same 24 hours in a day. We have to choose wisely how to spend it. If eating nutrient dense whole foods is a priority for you then you will make the time to plan your meals and prepare them.

The things we spend our time and money dictate what are important to us. If you are not spending your time and money on things that are moving your closer to your goals, then it’s time to make some changes.

I used to really enjoy mindless time in front of the TV several nights a week and on the weekends watching the newest version of “Real Housewives” or “The Kardashians.” But I quickly realized that my screen time was going to need to go if I wanted to make the time to plan and prepare my meals. Please don’t think that I am looking down on you or that it’s “bad” if you enjoy TV, but for me it was no longer serving me in a positive way and it wasn’t moving me closer to my goals of a healthier and happier me. Individuals have to take a look at what is important to him or her and choose how he or she is going to spend their time.

Once I made the time in my calendar to plan and prepare my meals, I started looking better, feeling better, and performing better.

Now, I know that we are all busy, we all have different demands on our time, and we may not have the luxury of simply changing up how we are spending our leisure time in order to have the time and energy to prepare nutrient dense whole food meals. However, here are a few timing saving tricks when it comes to meal planning and food prep.

Timing Saving Tips

· Schedule a time each week to plan your meals for the following week. Once you have your meals planned, make your grocery list from your meal plan.

· Schedule a specific time to go to the grocery store.

· Upon returning from the store take some time to wash, peel, and chop vegetables so they are ready to go.

· Post your meal plan in a place you can easily see it so that you know if you need to pull something out of the freezer or prep something ahead of time.

· Use a crock-pot to have dinner ready on the evenings you are very busy.

· Cook in bulk and plan for leftovers or freeze meals to pull out when you may need them.

Some of these tips may seem simple, and they are but I promise you if you implement them you will save yourself time, energy, and decrease your stress level. Stop and think about how many trips you make to the grocery store in a week, if you could make 2 trips versus 4 or 5, how much time and energy would that save you? By having your meals planned, you don’t have to make the decision at any given meal about what to eat. That will not only save you energy but also keep you on track with your supportive nutrition plan.

Take some time to evaluate your current meal planning and prepping strategies and if they are working for you.

· Are they moving you closer to your goals?

· Do they enhance your quality of life?

· Do they decrease your stress level?

Healthy Road Tripping

Few things are more synonymous with summer than vacation. And few things can throw your healthy lifestyle off track faster than a summer vacation!

We love to get away. There is something inherently rejuvenating and restorative about leaving home for a few days and getting away from the daily routines and responsibilities of life. It is no wonder that people often return from a vacation with clear minds, creative ideas and a renewed outlook on life.

But people also return from vacation heavier and with taste buds trained to again want rich, unhealthy food. What at the time seemed like a harmless break from routine (a few too many splurge meals and skipped workouts) often turns into a battle upon returning home—suddenly working out and eating well is harder than it was before we left home.

It doesn’t have to be that way however. Let’s go over a few simple ways that you can avoid the after-vacation regret while still having a great time on your get-away.

· Don’t stop working out. It is very important to keep your metabolism up while you are on vacation. Whether you are traveling by car or plane, you’re going to be sitting more. Help your body keep burning fat and keep blood glucose levels stable by exercising every day.

· Take healthy snacks. Why do we munch more when we travel? There’s something about strapping in for a long trip that makes us reach for food. Rather than fight the urge (who needs that pressure on vacation?), just be prepared with foods that you can eat as much as you want! Raw veggies are a great choice.

· Drink water. Traveling can cause you to dehydrate quickly. If you don’t get enough water, you can feel fatigued, have blurry vision and even have trouble concentrating. That’s no way to feel on vacation! Stay hydrated so you can enjoy yourself!

· Make sure your hotel room has a fridge and microwave. If you are at the mercy of restaurant menus for an entire week, you are going to struggle to eat healthy. By having a fridge and microwave available to you, you can make some of your own meals. Find a grocery store when you arrive at your vacation spot and stock up on simple, healthy foods that you can eat. Then you can truly enjoy a few restaurant meals while you are there!

· Get plenty of sleep. The last thing you want is to return home from a road trip sleep deprived. But sadly, many of us do. It’s hard to sleep away from home. The good news, however, is that there are several things you can do to sleep better in a hotel room. These include playing relaxing music on your iPhone (to block out any unruly neighbors), taking your own special blanket and pillow (so you relax more quickly), and turning off all screens (computers, phones, iPads, televisions) 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep.

What are your favorite healthy travel tips? Leave them in the comment section below so we can all benefit!

Have a great trip!

A Game of Needs, Wants, & Likes

Aristotle said that “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” The ancient philosopher said this because he knew that this little feat can be difficult to accomplish. Oftentimes we are our own biggest critics or we have other things on our minds that overshadow our deep thoughts and feelings. On top of that, introspection isn’t very easy for a lot of us. To help us out, there is a game that you can use to gain some perspective in your life and your relationships without all of the headache.

The name of the game is Needs, Wants and Likes. It can be played alone or with someone significant to you. All you have to do is think about the things in your life that you need, want or simply like. A “need” is a non-negotiable item that you can’t live without. Think of things other than the generics (food, water, shelter, etc). Needs are things like the love and trust of your spouse, success in the workplace, and to be able to provide for your family. A “want” is semi-negotiable, such as your morning routine or a perfectly mowed lawn. If something more important comes up – perhaps a family event or some emergency – a want will go out the window. A “like” is something that is very negotiable and that you would like to do more of. Maybe you haven’t been on the green in ages, or you’d like to see more movies in the theater. Those would fall under the category of likes.

Now that you have thought of these subjects, pick the top five or six in each category. What does this list say about you? Compare yours to those of someone important to you. What does their list say about them or even about your relationship? You may be surprised with what you have in common with your loved one or what you never knew they wanted.

Take some time today for yourself and play this simple game. Even though it is easy conceptually, the benefits you gain may be great. Knowing about what drives you will help you achieve your goals as well as assist you in communicating your preferences with those around you. All you need is a pen, paper, and someone who you think is amazing, and you’ll be all set to play the game.