Archive for the ‘Fit Tip’

HOLIDAY HELP: Thanksgiving Calorie Burners

thanksgivingtableI love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday, the Big Holiday for my family, where everyone converges under one roof for a day or two of quality catch up time and lots of good food. But, of course, staying active enough to offset all the tasty T-Day treats is no small feat. So while I do my best to always get in a good sweat session the morning before the big feast, I also try to stay busy around the house cooking, helping keep things clean or whatever else might need done. (Check out our festive table from last year, courtesy of moi. ;) )

Whether you’re spending Thanksgiving with your family, traveling to his, hosting for the first time, or are close enough to both groups of loved ones that you’ll be bombarded with two entire T-Day dinners, every little bit of activity counts. (Especially if your gym time is crowded out by traffic jams and and airports, last-minute pie baking, and a little family face time.)

Here, the average calories a 135-pound woman burns doing common Turkey Day activities. Continue Reading →

EARLY-MORNING INSPIRATION: One More Reason to Work Out Before Work

img00202-1On most weekday mornings, I’m up by 5 a.m. so I can squeeze my workout into my way-too-full workday (okay, sometimes I hit the snooze until 5:05 a.m., and then sometimes, if I feel really, really tired, I’ll hit it a second time until 5:08 a.m.— I’ll take any extra minute of pillow time I can get). I know, I picture all of you anti-morning people grimacing at the mere thought of such an early gym call—I get the same face from about three-quarters of the people who find out I’m up before the sun rises most months out of the year —and I understand their thoughts on why it sounds crazy.

It’s not easy to get up. I never, ever (very rarely, anyway), hop out of bed ready to go. I usually pad, bleary-eyed to the bathroom, brush my teeth, blindly search for some form of a t-shirt and workout pants, and usually waste a good five minutes trying to find a sports bra that’s not in my laundry basket already. Continue Reading →

Bugles: One Snack That’s Bad Enough to Blacklist

picture-1Okay, there are very few foods that I will put on my will-not-eat list. Blacklisting foods isn’t necessary, realistic, or very fun at all, as you can pretty much enjoy your fave not-so-healthy foods if you have a serving or so and workout and eat well the rest of the time. But I have found a food that isn’t worth the energy it takes to chew: Bugles.

Why you ask? Let me tell you. When my brother—who is currently relocating to Philly for a new job and is staying at my place until he finds his own—plopped down on my couch with a bag of Bugles two nights ago, I was curious. Okay, okay, I was secretly happy. I hadn’t seen Bugles since back in the days of, I don’t know, elementary school, and totally was too happy to snag one from him. But once I popped it in my mouth, it wasn’t the happy flashback to childhood snacking I thought it would be. It was so greasy and fat-filled that I had to flip the bag over and check out the nutritional stats ASAP.

There are EIGHT GRAMS OF SATURATED FAT in a single serving of Bugles. Eight grams! Of saturated fat! That’s 40 percent of the daily allowance for a 2,000-calorie diet and one more gram of saturated fat than a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder! And this is the kind of fat that clogs up arteries and can lead to a host of horrible things, including heart disease.

Of course, upon telling my grows-muscles-in-his-sleep brother, his response was the reason why he’ll make some lucky girl the perfect BFB: “Yeah,” he said, smiling, tossing a few more Bugles back for good measure. “It’s like eating fried corn filled with air.” Ha. Isn’t that lovely?

Well, even if he won’t blacklist them, it’s one less of his snacks that are now laying around the apartment that will be tempting me! I’d rather go have a burger!

WEIGH IN: What’s the worst nutritional sticker shock you’ve had lately?? I want to know!


Active Date: Plant Some Veggies!

img00143-1Thanks to summer fruits and veggies—strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes— eating healthy during bikini weather seems much simpler than when you’re bundled up in layers, craving comfort foods, and anything you hold up in the veggie section looks sadly anemic, or, even if the produce looks pretty, lacks taste. Unfortunately, even during the summer, when veggies are in season, they’re often shipped such long distances that by the time they get to your table, they’ve lost a lot of those good-for-you nutrients.

But what’s great is that those yummy summer tomatoes and crispy cucumbers are incredibly easy to grow. (Yes, even you, Miss I-Even-Managed-to-Suck-the-Life-Out-of-the-Bamboo-Plant-in-My-Cubicle can grow a tomato plant. They’re basically the most beneficial weeds ever.) And growing your own produce means you can cut down on your food bill at the store and avoid those nasty pesticides many commercial farmers use.

Even guys get excited when they walk into the plant nursery and start to imagine all of the things they can grow by themselves. And it’s great fun to both be invested in your little plants. If you live apart, try planting a few at one another’s house. You’ll be surprised how often you ask “How are the tomato plants doing?” or “Did you water them today?” or start laughing when you find yourself competing over who’s garden is shooting up faster. If you live together, you can both take care of them and watch them grow (which may or may not tell you how would do with other even more important things, like taking care of live animals or small children). And of course, watering, lifting containers, digging in the dirt, and pulling weeds all burn calories and are a great way to keep each other off the couch.

If you hate digging in the dirt or have no yard space, opt for a container garden. You can easily set up a few containers on your porch, patio, or even on a flat roof. Just elevate your containers on wood planks or milk cartons if you put them on the roof or on blacktop—these surfaces tend to suck in heat and could fry the roots if they’re directly on top of it.) Check with one of the gardening gurus at the store or your green-thumb friend on how many plants you can fit per container.

Now’s the time to plant them, so grab your sweetheart, head to the store this weekend, and pick out some plants. When you’re standing elbow-to-elbow at the kitchen a few weeks from now, slicing your very own tomatoes or peppers or whatever you end up planting over a summer salad, you’ll have a sense of shared accomplishment that’ll make your dinner together even more special—and taste amazing, too!

Water Fountains for Weight Loss: The Cheapest Way to Drop Pounds

If tax day has you searching the couch cushions for coins, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to drop big bucks to drop pounds. A study published in this month’s Pediatrics found that encouraging second- and third-graders to drink water during the school day reduced their risk for obesity. In some schools, water fountains were added while others dolled out water bottles and allowed kids to fill them each morning.

At the beginning of the study, there were no statistical differences in the prevalence of overweight kids in the different groups. By the end of the school year, however, children in the schools where water drinking was encouraged were 30 percent less likely to be overweight.

Though the study was unable to pinpoint the exact reason for success in the agua-drinking kids, water does everything from help you feel full to replace calorie-heavy beverages like juice. So cut down on the three-dollar lattes and the sugary and artificially sweetened sodas, and embrace the water cooler at work, the water fountain at the gym, and those water bottles that you have tucked away with all those lidless, plastic containers that you so need to get rid of but only seem to amass more of, and lose weight while saving your wallet.

Five Reasons to Eat Your Easter Eggs

Though they’re easy to miss amid all that green grass and sugary sweetness, the best bites from the bunny are the color-dipped eggs. Whether you crack them open and dust them with a bit of salt and pepper or dice them up and sprinkle them over a salad, just make sure you eat them!

Here, the five reasons why you shouldn’t let your Easter eggs go to waste.

1. They help you train better. A 2009 study published in Nutrition Today found an essential amino acid in eggs helps muscles recover after a workout. The same amino-acid mix also helps you build muscle mass and sustain the muscle you’ve already got.

2. They’re a recession-friendly protein source. One egg has 5.5 grams of protein, only 68 calories—and costs about 15 cents a pop.

3. They boost brain power. Eggs are a good source of the brain-boosting nutrient choline, which helps nerves send and recieve messages and has been shown to lower inflammation in the body. Unfortunately, research shows that close to 90 percent of Americans are choline deficient.

4. They speed weight loss. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that eating eggs for breakfast can help you drop pounds. Out of 160 overweight men and women, those that ate two eggs for breakfast for eight weeks lost more weight than those who scarfed down a bagel worth the same calories.

5. They protect your peepers. Egg yolks are a good source of lutein, a cartenoid that helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts as you age. Even better? The lutein in eggs is better absorbed by the body than when you eat green veggies like spinach, which are thought to be top sources.

Date Smart: Surprising Sides at Ruby Tuesday

The next time you find yourself snuggled into a booth with your sweetie at Ruby Tuesday, you’ll find there’s much more to pick for your sides than fries and a baked potato. And though RT is doing more than most chow chains to give diners healthier options, you can still make their “Smart Eating” options even smarter. And there’s a Best Boy Bet your guy might be open to trying too!

Fresh Steamed Broccoli (in a buttery sauce)
73 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g net carb, 2 g fiber
Date smart: Though it’s fresh and “steamed,” they’re still adding butter. Ask ’em to hold it.

Sautéed Baby Portabella Mushrooms
173 calories, 14 g fat, 7 g net carb, 2 g fiber
Date smart: Remember, “sautéed ” means it’s been tossed in a pan with oil or butter—and this “light” side has 14 grams of fat. So if you get it, don’t think his fries are freebies. Continue Reading →

Four Surprising Ways to Get Fit Faster

Gain weight. Blast through plateaus by wearing a weighted vest. Your body will have to work harder, which means you’ll torch more calories without having to log extra gym time. Headed for a hike? Leave the vest at home and fill a backpack with a few water bottles, a mid-hike snack or a couple of books.

Pick a pacer. Trying to run longer or faster? Next time you’re at the gym, pick a treadmill next to someone who’s working at a faster pace. It will push you to work harder and longer than if you were sweating solo.

Hit the snooze button. If you’ve been running on E for the last few weeks and you’re debating between a pre-work workout or an extra few minutes between the sheets, hit the snooze. Research shows that scrimping on sleep increases desire for high-fat, high-carb foods by 45 percent. (Just make sure to hit the gym after 5pm or duck out at lunch for a fast-paced walk!)

Slow down on the way down. When lifting weights, do the negative motion at a slower pace. It produces faster muscle growth than blasting through reps quickly.

The Healthiest Girl Scout Cookie (Or the Least UnHealthy, Anyway)

Oh, it’s Girl Scout Cookie season again. The colorful little boxes and adorable flocks of little girls stand at almost every entrance to every grocery store, Wawa (for those of you not lucky enough to have these, this is a convenience store in the Philly area) and are being pawned off by co-workers with kids in almost every office. What this means for you: Not only do you have to resist the urge to eat way too many of the peanut-butter/thin-mint delicacies that you personally may buy—aren’t you, like, sorta supporting young women’s quest to discover kindness, courage and all those other wonderful things stamped on the boxes with each dollar you spend anyway?—but you must also resist the boxes that your BFB buys for you (or buys for himself and then, in an attempt to stop his nonstop eating frenzy, kindly gives to you). Continue Reading →

Men Are From Mars and Their Hearts Are Different, Too

People joke that they’re from another planet and, in honor of National Heart Month, I decided to find out how different their hearts were, too. (Let’s say I had a hunch, considering the only tear I ever saw a BFB shed over a movie was when Frodo disappeared at the end of The Lord of the Rings saga). To get to the bottom of things, I asked Barbara Roberts, MD, FACC, director of the Women’s Cardiac Center at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI, and author of How to Keep From Breaking Your Heart: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Cardiovascular Disease, if she could set the record straight—and while I had her attention I asked her what else us girls can do to show our tickers some TLC. Her answers were so interesting! Get this: High levels of triglycerides, aka fat in our blood, put women at a greater risk for heart disease than when levels are elevated in men. And did you know we should all be getting our cholesterol checked yearly once we hit 20 or that women are more likely to have a “silent” heart attack or that smoking puts us at a higher risk of diabetes than it does boys? Do you know your numbers?? Check out Dr. Roberts thoughts below—and let me know if you have any other Qs! Thanks so much for talking with us, Dr. Roberts! Our hearts thank you! Continue Reading →