Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Instill healthy food habits in your kids.

Childhood obesity in the United States has TRIPLED in the last 20 years. If I think back on grade school, there was one heavy set girl in my entire class. If you look at a typical grade school class now, you'll see a lot more than just one obese child. It makes me so sad to see children who are already heavy because they are starting down a path that will more than likely be lined with disease, pain, and of course, bullying. You ask how I remember the one bigger girl in my class? Well, it's because I remember her nickname. I remember how mean the kids were to her. I remember thinking that she had a hard life. I was right.

Here are some tips for instilling healthy food habits in your kids because the earlier you start, the easier it will be to establish or change the way your child approaches food.

1. Set a good example for your kids. If they see you chugging soda and eating chips in the afternoon, that is what they are going to want. I am always so proud when my kids ask for an afternoon snack of carrots or fruit. It shows that I am *finally* changing their food thoughts. (For the record, I started this about a year ago and we are just now to the point where they ask for healthy stuff. It was a struggle for a long time.)

2. Keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy snacks.

3. Allow your kids to follow their natural appetite and don't force them to be a member of the Clean Plate Club when they are not hungry.

4. Don't use unhealthy food as a reward. Telling your kids that if they are good, they will get ice cream might get you the desired behavior in the short term but it will set your kids up to think they get sugary snacks when they do something good. Later in life, their reward to themselves for getting a promotion will be a huge slice of pie or something similar.

5. Eat together, not only at the same table but eating the same fare. This is so much easier said than done. My family sits together for dinner pretty much every night and we rehash our day and spend some much needed time together. I will say that I do struggle with having the kids eat the same thing as us, but I am working on it and I hope you will too.

6. Take the salt off the table and don't add it to the food. Your kids will be accustom to that taste and it's a hard one to break. Even harder is sugar so don't allow them to start putting that on their breakfast cereal in the morning.

7. Allow your kids to join you in preparing the meal. This will help them to learn how to cook and to appreciate the work that goes into making the food they are about to eat.

As I said before, I am still a work in progress on this tip but I hope many of you will join me in the fight to save our kids from the disease of obesity.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy 2 Year Anniversary to ME!

It's been 2 years since I reached my goal weight. What a fabulous feeling! To celebrate, I asked my hubby to take a pic of me in my favorite muscle pose to display beside my other ones. Pardon the lack of makeup but I think, perhaps, that is what makes it real. I am an actual person who has been there, figured out what needed to happen, did it and will NEVER go back...

That darn bunny is making us fat!

It's almost Easter. What began as a solemn celebration of the resurrection of Christ has turned into a chocolate gorge-fest. Many of us started off the New Year with a promise: to be healthier, to be thinner, to eat sensibly...Whatever it may be, you've been working hard at attaining your goal.  Truth be told though, you would not be human if the thought did not cross your mind that you could cheat just this once, succumb to temptation, and fill your face with all those Easter treats.


You've worked soooo hard to get to this point. Why ruin it now? Here are some strategies for getting through this holiday without derailing your weight loss efforts:

Rethink your Easter baskets.

There is no reason why your child's basket needs to be filled to the brim with sugar-filled snacks. I am sure you don't want your children to eat that kind of food junk anyway, right? For instance, the average chocolate bunny has 960 calories! We don't "do" the Easter bunny here since we focus more on the reason for the season but I do fill baskets for the kids. Their baskets will have ONE chocolate item and filling the rest of the space will be sidewalk chalk, coloring books, bubbles, sunglasses, and other Spring/Summer items.

Don't lose count.

As you probably know, I love to journal my food. While this isn't something everyone likes to do, this would be one weekend where it would be helpful.  Even if you just stick a piece of paper on your fridge and jot down every time you dip your hand into the M&M's or indulge in a peep or Cadbury Egg, seeing it in written form will keep you accountable to yourself.

Go dark.

While dark chocolate has a similar number of calories to milk chocolate, it's higher in antioxidants. Since it is so rich. a little bit goes a long way. White chocolate has the most calories so avoid that if you can  care.

Less is more. 

Look for high quality chocolate items if you must have your fix. Buying a Sarris Bowtie Bunny Pop instead of a large bag of chocolate eggs from the dollar store will lessen the amount of temptation around the house and taste 10 times better. You can also try dipping strawberries into melted chocolate to combine the need for sweet with something healthy.

Don't forget to move.

Plan your egg hunt for outside (*if the weather cooperates* Side note: I am sooooo over this rain!) and run through the yard as you hide the eggs.  Instead of standing around while the kids find the eggs, get out there and move, darnit! Or hop like a bunny - the kids will LOVE that one. After your meal, when most people are laying around on the couch, watching tv or movies, suggest a walk around your neighborhood. It's a great opportunity to catch up with family while burning some calories. Check out this calculator that turns popular Easter treats into how much walking is needed to burn it off.

Eat healthy alternatives.

When everyone else is snacking on goodies, make sure to have something prepared for yourself. One of my favorite things is to create a plate of fruit, cut up into bite sized pieces. I feel like I am eating so much more than I am and it satisfies my sweet tooth as well.

Now, you are 100% prepared to celebrate this glorious Easter season with your family. Good luck and be sure to check in and let me know how you did. HAPPY EASTER!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tip...or is it?

It's been a busy day. This is the first chance I've had to sit down and write a blog and I have people coming to my house in about 15 minutes. Tuesday has always been my "tip" day but since I have such a short amount of time before my book club, I am going to share a couple of random facts with you instead.

*Easter is third in candy consumption in the United States with 940 million dollars spent on it in 1998. That's a lot of chocolate bunnies. (Source: About.com)

*In 2000, Americans bought $1.9 billion of Easter candy and consumed 7.1 billion pounds to edge ahead of Christmas sales that year. (Source: Topeka Capital Journal, April, 2004). 

Take some time and think about those stats and I'll be working on a blog about how WE can get through the Easter holiday without derailing our weight loss efforts.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Don't be afraid to snack.

3pm hits and I don't know what comes over me. It might be hunger. It might be boredom. It might still be a leftover habit from the "after school snack" that my Mom always served when we walked in the door. I feel completely ravenous and start craving all sorts of unhealthy foods. In the past, I had been known to finish an entire sleeve of cookies during this time or pour myself cereal bowl after cereal bowl, not even thinking about how much food I was consuming.

Instead of continuing that behavior, I decided to curb my cravings by planning a HEALTHY snack for 2pm. Even though I am not truly hungry at that point, it stops the 3pm madness from happening. To keep energy levels going and avoid weight gain, I steer clear of foods with lots of simple carbohydrates like candy bars or soda. Instead, I seek out foods that contain complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter, cheese, or low fat yogurt.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ants on a log: Smear a small amount of peanut butter on celery and top with raisins
  • Maria's delicious trail mix: Mix 1/2 a serving (29 grams) of Grape Nuts cereal, 10g of raisins, 10g of peanuts
  • Yummy fruit tray: Slice 1/2 an apple and 1/2 a banana. Put 2 tbsp of peanut butter on the side for dipping.
  • Whole grain pita with hummus: Warm a pita in the oven on low, then cut it into small triangles. Dip it in a tasty, low-fat hummus. Hummus is available in yummy flavors like garlic and spicy red pepper. Hummus also makes a tasty dip for cut-up veggies.
  • Mexi-snack: 1/4 cup Trader Joe's Chili con Queso, 18 baked tortilla chips
  • Turkey rollups: 1 serving of turkey wrapped around sesame breadsticks
  • Quick kebabs: Take a skewer and put 1/2 oz of cubed turkey, 1/2 oz of cubed cheddar cheese, and a few grapes on it.

No matter what I have for a snack, I always pair it with a glass of water. And as with everything, moderation is the key. If you eat regular meals and healthy snacks, you will be less likely to overeat and gain weight than if you skip meals or go for long periods without eating and then scarf down a large order of fries.

I love sharing my life with all of you and I'd love to get some feedback. Please comment and share some of your favorite snacks. I am always looking for ideas and I am sure my readers are, as well. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet the Reader: Nikky M.

Nikky M. is one of the participants in the Countdown to Shorts challenge We have children born around the same time and met on a message board. Even then, I was running challenges, to motivate myself as well as others.

Name: Nikky M
Age: 35
Where do you live: Connecticut
Beginning Weight: 165
Ending Weight: 157
How long between beginning and ending weights: 1 year
How many inches did you lose?: approx 5
What is your current diet: small portions, lean protein, veggies and *try* to have no sugar (very hard for a hardcore sugar addict)
What is your guilty pleasure: Candy!!
What is your typical workout: I workout typically 5 days a week and mix it up with weight training and cardio (spin, cardio step, running)
What/who is your #1 Motivator: I want to set a good example for my kids. My mom was a major yo yo dieter. She tried every single diet or piece of exercise equipment 'as seen on TV'. I'd rather instill a healthy exercise routine and healthy diet for my kids right from the get go.
Any other info you would like to be included: I have to say I've been the most frustrated with the fact that the scale barely moves for me. I'm so grateful that I took pictures so that I can see my progress on screen rather than on the scale. I wish I would have gotten a % of body fat because I'm sure that would have changed significantly. I actually have biceps now....something I've never had in my life ;)
Oh and thank you to Maria for starting these challenges in Jan 2010. That helped me get on my way :)

Congratulations Nikky and keep up the good work! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday's Tip of the Day

Don't use being a parent as an excuse.

This is for all my readers that are blessed with a child or two or ten. However many munchkins you have, there is one important thing to remember: Exercising should be a high priority! Oh sure, of course it is but how can I manage to work out AND care for my kids?!?! Alright, Negative Nelly, let me finish! Exercising *should be* a high priority  but it can get shoved to the side very easily, especially if you are a parent. With school, all the extracurricular activities, and other obligations, it can feel very much like a juggling act. What's on your calendar? Your son's hockey game? Your daughter's ballet class? A parent/teacher conference at school? Have you thought about putting "Exercise" on the calendar too...? You haven't?! Why not?!

Exercising not only benefits you but also your kids. First of all, you are setting a good example. If your kids never see physical activity or only hear you complain about how sore you are from a workout, their image of exercising will quickly become negative. Let them know WHY you are exercising: to be strong, to be healthy, to have more energy, etc. Secondly, exercise can be a great outlet for stress. Exercise can emotionally remove you temporarily from a stressful environment or situation. Being fit and healthy also increases your ability to deal with stress as it arises. And finally, for the fun third reason, wouldn't it be nice to be a "hot mom"? Maybe get a few compliments whistles during your day? Have that air of confidence that seems to go hand and hand with physical beauty?

Now we have figured out that exercise IS something we want to do, right? So, let's figure out the "how"...

Got an infant or smaller child?

*Utilize nap time to pop in a workout DVD, On Demand workouts on tv, or do your own home workout. I posted about some great "at home" workouts awhile back. You can read more here.
*Get out the stroller and take a brisk walk through the neighborhood. Check out this cool workout for stroller pushers.

*Use your child's weight to strengthen your muscles. Pick them up and do squats for a fun lower body workout. Arm curls with an infant = great upper body workout.

Got a child in grade school?

*Go to the playground but instead of sitting on the bench, chatting with other parents, get out and enjoy the day. Play tag, hide and seek, capture the flag. Try doing a chin up or two on the monkey bars or some tricep dips on the "lazy Mom's bench".
*Plan a weekend day to bike or roller blade with your kids and spouse. Getting the whole family involved in physical activity is a ton of fun and makes for an early bedtime, in my experience.

*Challenge your child to a race. And don't be too sad when you get beaten. Someday, you'll be able to run as fast as them, I promise... ;)

Got a teenager?

*Register for a 5K race with your child. For local races here in Pittsburgh, check out this site.

*Work together in the yard. Mowing, raking leaves, trimming hedges, and planting flowers are all excellent calorie burners. And you know what they say, a family that works together...ummmm...gets a lot done.
*Play basketball or tennis together.

Now that you have a list of things to do with your child and will start scheduling time to exercise, I hope to never hear any excuses about how being a parents is preventing any of you from working out. Good luck, readers!