Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Santa Clara County Gets it Right!

I couldn’t be more proud to live in Santa Clara County (well, for the mean time) right now!! Santa Clara County is the first county in the nation to put a ban on selling happy meals to kids. Although I generally believe less government is a good thing, this is one area where I think government regulation is crucial in leading the fight against (or waging the war for that matter) childhood obesity. Parents and private industry have FAILED miserably to look out for our children’s best interests. Here are some shocking facts from the U.S. Attorney General’s Office on obesity:
  • Two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese.
  • The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. more than doubled (from 15% to 34%) among adults and more than tripled (from 5% to 17%) among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2008.
  • An obese teenager has over a 70% greater risk of becoming an obese adult.
I hope you're as outraged by these statistics as I am! I am ecstatic that government is taking action and targeting the fast food industry. Kudos to Santa Clara County's elected officials for prohibiting the fast food industry from luring kids in with toys. We cannot continue to market (what did you think the happy meal toys were for??) this processed, fattening garbage to our kids, because it is killing them!

Watch the ABC news clip about Santa Clara County’s proactive campaign here:

Also, check out this blog on the Los Angeles Times website:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bring on the Questions!

Someone who’s been reading my blog posts asked me a great question today that I’d like to share with everyone. This person commented that I seem very forgiving of my slip ups since I’m at my goal weight, but wondered how strict I was on myself when I was 15-20 pounds away from my goal weight. In the beginning, when I first decided to change my eating habits, I had to be very strict. To quote Albert Einstein, "The thinking that got you where you are today, won't take you where you want to go tomorrow." I couldn't continue to eat the way I was and expect to lose weight, so I pretty much cut out ALL bad food. I said NO to all the things I knew were holding me back including, dessert, dining out, office junk, big servings, high calorie and fattening foods, baking, etc. I also cut out my mindless and emotional eating especially when I wasn’t hungry. I had to learn to hold the power over food versus food holding the power over me. As I started losing weight, I slowly started reincorporating some of the foods I loved, but had cut out. Nevertheless, instead of eating them as often as I did, I ate them maybe once every 10 days and didn’t overdo it when I did. I learned to add back in the foods I missed, but also let go of the foods I could live without.

Another question this person asked me that I thought I’d comment on is that she noticed I don’t post how many fat grams are in my meals. This is because I know that my diet is mainly lowfat and the fats that I do eat are the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats in foods like peanut butter, avocado, almonds, olive oil, etc.

I just want you all to know that I welcome your comments, questions, concerns, ideas, suggestions, thoughts, etc. If you have something to say, please leave me a comment on my blog and I’ll address it. This blog is meant to help YOU the reader so bring on the comments!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Put it in Writing

I was watching the Biggest Loser a couple of weeks ago when personal finance expert Suzie Orman made a guest appearance. Based on all the contestants’ finances, Suzie Orman predicts who will win the Biggest Loser contest for the season. She accurately predicted last year’s winner mid-way through the season. This year, she was going to pick one contestant based on his finances, but when she found out that he didn’t write down and track what he was eating every day while on the show, she decided to bet on a different contestant to win.

You may be thinking what does the shape of your finances actually have to do with whether you’d win the Biggest Loser? And furthermore, why is writing down and tracking what you eat every day such a strong indicator of your success with weight loss or management? I’ll address the first question now. Budgeting and weight loss or management actually require many of the same principles. If you don’t watch your finances, or what you eat the numbers can really add up, and quick. The more you watch and manage both, the more successful you’ll be. I know exactly how much money I have in any of my bank accounts at any given time. I have a spreadsheet tracking my income and expenses so that I know what’s left over each month. Whenever I log into my online banking, I am never surprised at what I see, I know exactly what to expect. If I spend a little more one week than anticipated, I compensate the following week and spend less. I use these same principles when it comes to managing my weight. Every day I write down what I eat (or if it’s the weekend, I at least tally it in my head). At the end of each day, I write down my total for the day. If I eat more than expected one day (i.e. a birthday dinner, weekend BBQ, holiday, girls’ night out, etc.), I compensate the following day by getting right back on track and eat healthy. Again, just like my finances, I’m never surprised with where I’m at and this puts my mind at ease. It is a much better feeling to know that even if you overdo it now and then whether it’s financially or with food that you have the ability to do so because 1. You’re fully aware of your situation and know that you can do so and 2. You’re responsible 80% of the time, so you can allow yourself to be “out of control” every now and then without risking your progress. I would much rather be aware of both my finances and food choices than ignore them and one day wonder why I’m in debt or gained 10 pounds. If you stay on top of both, you’ll never have to be in that situation.

As for the second question I posed about writing down what you eat, I believe (and apparently Suzie Orman does too) that this is ESSENTIAL to being successful in losing or managing your weight. Now, of course there are plenty of people that don’t have a problem with their weight and don’t write down what they eat. Lucky them! But, there are A LOT of people (me included) who need to write down what they eat to be accountable. I’m getting to a place where I am pretty in tune with what I’m eating that I don’t have to write it down anymore, but I still like to because it really does keep me accountable. If I write it down, I won’t want to eat an extra this or that because I know I’ll have to track and face it. If you’re not writing down what you’re eating and trying to lose weight, how do you know what the problem is with your diet? It’s much easier to eat a few chips, have a few pieces of candy, or a bite of this and that when you don’t have to write it down. If you had to write down all your little unaccounted for nibbling throughout the day, you might be shocked how all those little things can add up (just like how all those cups of coffee at Starbucks can add up at the end of the month). Also, I’m guessing if you’re not writing it down then you’re probably not measuring out what you’re eating or conscious of nutrition facts either. As I’ve said before, most of us don’t know how to eyeball a correct portion, or how much fat or calories are in some of the foods we eat. If you’re aware of what’s in your food, measure out correct portions, and write it all down, how can you not be successful in managing what you’re eating? It forces you to come out of DENIAL. It forces you to see your problem areas and address them.

My advice is this, if you’re struggling with either losing weight or maintaining your weight, write down everything you eat for one week without making any tweaks to what you eat for the week. In fact, write down what you ate yesterday too so you really can’t tweak anything. At the end of the week look back and reflect on your choices. What did you learn? Did you learn that you’re not sure if you ate a cup or two cups of cereal in the morning? Are you unsure how many calories are in your dinner? Are you constantly snacking on candy at work? If you really want to understand what to change, you have to first know what your problems are, just like your finances! I challenge you to write down what you eat because it truly will help you succeed in your goals. Also, understand that all your small decisions add up, so remember to look at the big picture. Let’s put it this way, if you buy a tall cup of coffee at Starbucks for $1.50 (doesn’t sound like much) five days a week, you’ve spent $30 on coffee for the month!! Think how much you could save each month if you just bought a $14 bag of Starbucks coffee and brewed it at home for the month? Same applies to food, if you find out that you’re eating 150 calories in candy at work every day that adds up to 3,000 calories a month. Personally, I’d much rather eat the 250-calorie bowl of ice cream once a week and save 2,000 calories than eat unsatisfying junk everyday at work.

So remember, the more aware you are the more easily you can address any issues that arise with minimal effort. Track what you eat, and you’ll never get on that scale and wonder how you gained 10 pounds. The more you know the more power you have!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nutrition and Exercise Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Nutrition and exercise are like peanut butter and jelly, you just can’t have one without the other (well, at least if you expect to see lasting results). Most people wouldn't just make a peanut butter sandwich without jelly or vice versa. While a peanut butter sandwich alone is still good (I’d have some doubts about a jelly sandwich), it isn't as good as it could be if you added jelly. Most people have their peanut butter sandwich with jelly, because we all know that together it is a dynamite and much more satisfying combination. The saltiness of the peanut butter just meshes so well with the sweetness of the jelly. Well, the same is true for exercise and nutrition. Sure, they're both good alone, but together they're a dynamite and much more effective combination. They mesh just as much (if not more) as peanut butter and jelly!

When it comes to exercise and nutrition, we all love to cut corners. Often, our mentality is to do whatever achieves the quickest and easiest results. Because changing the way you eat and incorporating exercise is a huge lifestyle change, many people will do one or the other, but not both. Ironically, doing one or the other is the LONG way to achieving results and is much HARDER! Some people continue their regular diets, but exercise and wonder why they don’t lose weight, and on top of that why they actually are finding themselves eating more. Others change the way they eat, but don’t incorporate exercise and wonder why they aren’t getting toned as they begin to shed fat. The obvious solution to these conundrums is that if you want the total package (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle and tone, have a faster metabolism, etc.) you have to do both. This is especially true if you want lasting results. Like I said, by only doing one or the other, you’re making the process that much longer and harder on yourself.

3,500 calories consumed equals one pound of fat. If you want to lose a pound a week (if weight loss is your goal), you need to cut 3,500 calories from your current diet. Now, you can go about this several ways. You can cut out 500 calories worth of food every day, burn 500 calories every day exercising, or do a combination of both. I love food way too much to cut out 500 calories a day from my diet, and I can't imagine spending seven days a week in the gym working out vigorously (because burning 500 calories through exercise calls for high intensity workouts), so in my opinion, I take the easy route and do both. Now, my goal isn’t to lose weight, only to maintain my current weight, but doing a combination of both allows me to easily stay where I’m at, eat healthy while still enjoying my favorite foods, and be active. Of course, eating healthy and being active have a host of other benefits beyond keeping me at my current weight. Eating healthy foods means I am getting more nutrients my body needs (and less artery clogging fats for that matter) and exercising means I am keeping my muscles, bones, and heart strong, as well as building my endurance; these are amazing benefits that will serve you well for your lifetime. And, one of the best benefits of exercising consistently is that once you reach your goal weight, exercise will help keep you there.

So remember, incorporate both exercise and nutrition into your lifestyle for lasting results. Doing both is much easier than placing the entire burden on one side of the equation. You’ll actually be able to stick with this course of action since it requires smaller tweaks to your diet and exercise routine. Trust me, you will feel and look better if you do both, and your body will thank you!

For more information on exercise’s affect on weight loss, read this recent, interesting article from the New York Times,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Look Back at My Own Journey

When I was younger, I used to envy people who could eat whatever they wanted and still look great. I would think why can’t that be me? Why do I have to be conscious about what I eat and workout so hard to achieve what comes naturally to others? Now, I look back and laugh. I am actually incredibly thankful that I have had to struggle because it’s made me a much stronger, healthier, and more appreciative person. I’d rather have to eat healthy and workout hard to stay in shape than be the person who eats whatever he/she wants (good and bad), never works out, and still manages to have a nice body. I guess it’s because I know that even though me and that other person may look the same on the outside, I’m 100 times healthier on the inside, and that’s what really counts.

I’ve always struggled with my weight ever since I was little because I’ve always had an extremely healthy appetite. I was the kid who didn’t want to order off the kiddy menu at the restaurant and the kid who ALWAYS had room for dessert after dinner. My dad recently reminded me that it was because I had two great chefs cooking for me (my mom and dad), and he’s right. My parents are both amazing cooks, and I grew up eating like a queen! While I never became obese, I was overweight for my age during most of my adolescence. I participated in sports and dance all through elementary, middle, and high school, but it wasn’t enough to combat the portion sizes and junk food I ate. A few times I went on diets and actually slimmed back down, but because diets are short-term fixes, the weight always came back (a quick note on this: even though I wasn't always happy with my weight, I've NEVER used extreme measures to lose weight, even then. I've never thrown up my food, starved myself, eliminated entire food groups from my diet, fasted, been on any liquid or other crazy diet, or taken over-the-counter weight loss pills). In high school, my weight struggles continued, and I reached my heaviest weight ever. I look back now and completely understand why. My friends and I were living off of fast food, pizza, and cookies. When I went to college, I slimmed down some, but as soon as I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment with my two friends, the weight went right back on. Having two great friends as roommates equaled many pizza and ice cream runs, dinners out at our favorite restaurants, and 10 extra pounds.

At the end of 2004, I got serious about working out. Something just clicked one day for me and I wanted to be more active. I was paying money each month to be apart of San Diego State’s athletic club and I was using it maybe a few times a month. I decided that I wanted to make working out apart of my lifestyle, not just something I did once a week. From that point on, I never looked back! I have consistently worked out at least four times a week since I made that choice in 2004. I’ve also taken ownership over my food choices and have managed to maintain my current, healthy weight, eating habits, and workout schedule no matter what life throws at me. I am 30-40 pounds lighter than I was in high school and college and now have a healthy body mass index.

I remember what it felt like when I was insecure about my body and I never want to go back to that place. Knowing how far I’ve come makes me feel so good about my hard work. I used to be the girl who hated running, to the girl who runs three miles five days a week now. I used to be the girl who ate too much junk food, to the girl who makes the healthy choice 80-90% of the time. The changes I’ve made have changed my entire life. Not only do I feel more confident about who I am on the outside, I feel better about who I am on the inside knowing that my body is healthy. I am able to do so much more physically than ever before and it is beyond gratifying to see how much hard work, consistency, and determination have paid off.

When it comes to losing weight or leading a healthy lifestyle, you have to be in it for the long haul. Don’t workout and eat right for just a short-term goal like a vacation or wedding. While it is great to have short-term goals to keep you motivated, don’t forget the big picture. What keeps me motivated every day is how far I've come, how much I am able to physically accomplish, how rarely I get sick, how much more I can enjoy life and food without worrying what a slice of cheesecake or cheeseburger will do to me, and how nice it is to know that all my good habits will have a lasting affect on my vitality. Being in control of my life is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into getting healthy. I am thankful everyday that I had to learn the hard way!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eat This, Not That

As I've alluded to in a previous post, not only do we not have a sense of appropriate portions in America, but we also really don't understand how many calories and fat are in some of our favorite foods. And trust me, some nutrition facts can be really scary!!

A great tool I discovered a couple years ago from my mom is the Eat This, Not That book from the editors of Men’s Health magazine. The book has become so successful that they now have five different versions of the book focusing on areas, including navigating supermarkets and restaurants, healthy food options for kids, and also a book detailing the absolute worst food in America. If you really want to have a better understanding of the choices you’re making in the supermarket or at your favorite eatery, grab this book and keep it handy. It’s a great tool when you’re out and want to know the healthiest options available to you whether it's at the mall, McDonalds, or Outback Steakhouse. This book has information on many favorite chain restaurants and fast food eateries comparing some of their healthiest options next to some of their worst options (and a lot of times they will surprise you). Or, if you are craving something unhealthy, it'll tell you which option is the lesser of the two evils. It also compares the best and worst options available in the supermarket from yogurt to lunch meat to frozen TV dinners. Finally, the book helps you navigate holidays, mall food, alcoholic beverages, and more.

To learn more, click here: This website has lots of great information, so go check it out and educate yourself about what you're putting in your mouth!

Friday, April 16, 2010

What’s on My Menu for Today?

Now that I’ve given you some advice on how to get healthy, you’re probably wondering what I eat in a typical day. Lucky for you, I write it down (I’ll be blogging about why you should write down what you eat in the near future). Along with what I eat in a typical day, I also drink 10-12 glasses of water every single day. So, here is what’s on my plate for today:

Breakfast – 7:15 a.m.
Quaker Oats High Fiber Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal with ½ cup of Silk Light Vanilla Soy Milk
Two cooked egg whites
Coffee with four tablespoons of Coffee-Mate Fat-Free Vanilla Creamer

Calories: 350
Fiber: 10 grams
Protein: 14 grams

Mid-Morning Snack – 9:30 a.m.
½ cup of 1% cottage cheese and pineapple chunks

Calories: 150
Fiber: 1 gram
Protein: 14 grams

Lunch – 12 p.m.
Chicken breast pita sandwich with hummus, lettuce, and tomato

Calories: 310
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 30 grams

Mid-Afternoon Snack – 3 p.m.
Medium banana
100-calorie pack of almonds

Calories: 200
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 5 grams

Dinner – 6:30 p.m.
Taco Salad: 4 ounces seasoned extra lean, ground turkey with lettuce, tomato, 2 ounces of avocado, ½ cup black beans, and 2 tablespoons of light ranch dressing

Calories: 400
Fiber: 12 grams
Protein: 42 grams

Today’s Grand Total
Calories: 1410
Fiber: 32 grams
Protein: 105 grams

I hope by seeing what I eat you understand that, 1. You can actually eat a good amount during the day and still be healthy and lose weight, if that is your goal (this one's especially important for the ladies to understand since so many of you think you should consume less than 1,200 calories a day, you know who you are), 2. You should eat frequently throughout the day (no skipping meals) and spread your calories out fairly evenly among your meals, and 3. There are actually a variety of yummy foods you can eat when you're trying to be more health conscious. My menu for today is just one example of foods I eat during the week, but I have plenty of other meal and snack options too. I make sure I have a lot of variety in my diet because that's what keeps me happy and satisfied!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oh So Easy, Oh So Good!

This might just be my new, favorite supermarket find: Foster Farms All Natural Zesty Lemon Herb Breast Fillets (for detailed product information, click here: I threw these fillets in the oven Tuesday night for 25 minutes and out came delicious, juicy, already marinated and seasoned chicken! Talk about easy! Each package, which runs about $8-9 dollars, has approximately six servings in it. So far this week, I’ve eaten the chicken for dinner with butternut squash and broccoli and had it for lunch in a pita with hummus, lettuce, tomato, and Swiss cheese. I think tomorrow night, my leftover chicken will make for a great salad!

Because chicken is already so versatile and easy to make, it’s a great way to not only stretch your dollar, but eat a variety of healthy meals throughout the week with little to no effort. Throw the chicken in a salad, wrap, or taco, or eat it with veggies, brown rice, or pasta. For only 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 23 grams of protein in a serving (half of a fillet) you can eat healthy, fill-up on lean protein, and never be bored with all the different ways you can incorporate it into meals. The best part is that there are three other marinades to choose from: garlic and herb, teriyaki, and fire roasted chipotle. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Measuring Cups are Your Friends!

No one really wants to admit they measure their food. No one wants to be caught counting out how many chips or cookies they are going to have. No one wants to be found reading nutrition labels before a meal. It’s funny that so many of us are ashamed of being aware. But, sadly, we all know how this looks from an outsider’s perspective; doing these things seems obsessive, unnecessary, and indicates you’re on a “diet,” which in their eyes is unfounded. Don’t feel ashamed if you do measure, count, or analyze nutrition labels because, honestly, most people have no idea what one cup of milk or half a cup of vegetables looks like.

In a society where everything is ‘super-sized’ and more is always better, we’ve lost our sense of what a reasonable portion is. Measuring things out helps us either re-learn what we’ve long forgotten or never learned. Thankfully, as people become more conscious of what they're eating, companies have FINALLY wised up by making smaller, healthier portions of items (i.e. 100-calorie packs). Between measuring cups and healthy, pre-portioned items you should have the tools you need to understand what a reasonable portion is and make educated choices.

I fully admit that I measure my food on a daily basis (unless, I am allowing myself to eat whatever my little heart desires). If I didn’t measure, one cup of milk would become a cup and a half, four ounces of chicken would become eight, and two tablespoons of peanut butter would become three or four. You’re probably thinking, “How could that be, doesn’t she know what a reasonable portion is by now?” Well, yes, I know approximately what a cup and tablespoon each look like, but I also know that I have the tendency to ‘super-size’ my portions because I love food. For whatever reason, we always believe we need more food than we really do because our minds react before our bodies have the chance to. Remember that it takes approximately 20 minutes before your body registers that it has had enough food. Measuring forces you to become aware of what you're taking in, understand what your body really needs, and ultimately, become accountable to yourself.

How can you truly be accountable for what you’re eating if you have no clue how much you’re eating? If you’re really trying to lose weight, know you’re not good with portion control, or have no idea what a recommended serving looks like, I suggest you start measuring your food until you understand what a reasonable portion is. It’ll change your attitude about the foods you eat when you realize how many calories are in each serving of your favorite foods.

Did you know the recommended serving for ice cream is half a cup? Dreyer’s Loaded Cookie Dough ice cream has 130 calories and 4.5 grams of fat in half a cup. Not too bad, right? Now, do you know what half a cup looks like? It’s about the size of a tennis ball. Raise your hand if when you scoop yourself ice cream from the carton that it’s about the size of a tennis ball? Is your hand down? Mine is (this is exactly why I like pre-portioned ice cream)! This is a great example of why you should measure food. While most of us understand how many calories are in a portion, few of us know what a portion really looks like.

I’m not suggesting that you become so uber-conscious about measuring that you don’t eat something unless you know that food’s nutrition facts and portions. That’s a little extreme! What I am suggesting is this, if you don’t feel that you have a basic handle on correct portion sizes and nutritional information about the food you eat, you really should invest some time in measuring out and learning about the foods you love. Once you have a better understanding of these concepts, you’ll be able to make informed choices, which will lead you to making healthier decisions. It’s much easier to eat Cheesecake Factory’s Four Cheese Pasta when you have no idea when you’ve eaten one cup of pasta, or what the entire entrée’s nutritional content is. It’s much harder to eat that same pasta when you realize it's probably 10x the recommended serving size for pasta (which is half a cup) and a whopping 1,240 calories!

So please, don’t be ashamed of becoming more aware through measuring because you’re the one who will benefit from this information. Knowledge is power my friends!

For more information on portion control and weight loss, click here

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In the Weight Loss Game, Know Your Own Weaknesses

I get a lot of questions from people about whether they should or shouldn’t do something, or what would I do in their situation. These can be tough questions because what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. My best friend can count off eight chips and two tablespoons of dip and feel satisfied that she got to eat what she wanted, but didn’t over do it. This can be a great weight loss strategy, but for me it wouldn’t work. How do I know this? Because too many times eight chips has turned in to “hmm I wonder how many chips I’ve had, I lost count.” Another friend of mine asked me, if I knew I was going to a restaurant where I’d be tempted by greasy appetizers, would I eat a snack first to ward off any cravings for appetizers? Again, this can be another great strategy for some people, but for me it wouldn’t work. I’d be the person who ate the snack thinking this would be a strong enough defense against the appetizers, but then break down and eat the appetizers too. My advice to anyone reading this is to learn your own weaknesses. There are a million and one weight loss tricks you can employ to be successful; find the ones that work for YOU.

Through a lot of trial and error and acceptance, I’ve learned to stop lying to myself about what I can and can’t handle. Trust me, you will feel a lot more free if you own up to what does and doesn't work for you. Here’s a list of my weaknesses and how I stay strong against them (if and when I need or want to):

1. Buffets or Spreads – There is nothing more tempting and fun to me than walking into someone’s home where there is a table full of delicious food options. For me, if I stand by that table and start eating a little of this and that, it’s going to turn into a lot of this and that. I am powerless over buffets and spreads where the food is so accessible and in my face. I recognize this and have two options. If I want to partake, I don’t count or stress out about how much I am eating because I already know I’m going to eat what I want and how much of it I want. If I don’t want to partake, I steer clear of the food or I only load my plate up with veggies and fruit.

2. Anything Sweet That is Not Pre-Portioned – If its chocolate, cake, ice cream, or anything else that's sugary and it is not already in a nice pre-portioned size it = DANGER for me. I can’t buy a gallon of ice cream to keep around the house unless I accept exactly what is going to happen to that gallon. I would be lying to myself if I really believed that I was going to grab a measuring cup and only eat the recommended serving size of half a cup. Honestly, if I am helping myself to a bowl of ice cream I am probably serving myself four to five times that. I know I am weak in this regard. So, instead I buy pre-portioned ice cream because I do much better that way. Same goes for cake. If you ask me to cut myself a slice, trust me, it won’t be 1/16th of the cake; it’ll be more like 1/5th of the cake. I am much better off eating a cupcake, where I don't have to decide on the portion to serve myself. Again, if I am in the mood for cake or ice cream from the carton fine, but then I recognize and accept that I am not going to have just a taste or a small serving.

3. Baking – I cannot bake without eating the batter and frosting throughout the whole process. So if I’m in the mood to bake, I fully embrace the role of ‘taste tester.’ My best friend on the other hand, can bake for all sorts of events and not lick the bowl. I don’t know how she does it!

4. Leftovers from Work – this is a new realization I’ve come to. In the past month or two there have been leftover goodies from events or holidays that I will ignore all day at work, but then someone will say, “Why don’t you take some of this home?” I say “yes,” truly believing I will give it to a friend. But, what happens? I eat it before the poor goodie even has a chance to make it in to my refrigerator or cupboard. I’ve decided to stop lying to myself. If I take it home, I’m taking it home for me, and if I don’t want it, then I’m better off leaving it behind.

5. Bread at Restaurants – I love how I tell myself before I go to a restaurant that I can and will ignore the bread basket. I won’t. I accept that now. I love bread, especially from Italian restaurants where I can dip it in olive oil and I realize I am not going to ignore it. This leaves me with two choices, I can either factor it in to the night or forgo going out to dinner. I can’t lie to myself about this one anymore.

6. Mexican Food – Mexican food kills me! It’s not the entrée so much as it is the chips and salsa before dinner and that grande delicioso margarita (pretty much the most calorie-laden alcoholic beverage you can order) I enjoy. If I am going to have Mexican food then I better be prepared to indulge myself because it will happen.

7. Donuts and Pizza – I love donuts and pizza! If either is around, I’m either going to have multiple servings, or I’m going to have to pretend they don’t exist all together. The choice is mine.

8. Cheese – I would rather lose a limb (well, ok not really) than give up cheese. I never met a cheese I didn’t like. You can only imagine what a deadly combo it is for me to be at someone’s house where the spread involves lots of cheese!

On the flip side, there are certain bad foods that surprisingly don’t tempt me in the least, and I never have to worry about going overboard on them:

1. Salt – I crave sugar, but I don’t have the salt craving. I can pass on fries, popcorn, mashed potatoes, chips (well unless they are tortilla chips when I am out for Mexican food), you name it.

2. Pastries – I love donuts, but pastries don’t do it for me. I’m just not interested in croissants, muffins, jelly or chocolate filled pastry puffs, etc.

3. Candy – unless it is chocolate candy, I don’t crave it. I could be surrounded by Skittles, jelly beans, and licorice and not be tempted one bit!

4. Hot Dogs and Cheeseburgers – I really like both, but neither sends me over the edge the way pizza does!

5. Fast Food – I never crave fast food. I only have one exception; occasionally I’ll want In-N-Out. But, other than that, I never crave McDonalds, Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr., etc.

6. Soda – I will occasionally drink a diet soda, but I never miss drinking the real thing.

7. Mayonnaise – I can truly take it or leave it when it comes to mayonnaise. I like it on some sandwiches, but I never feel deprived if I don’t have it.

8. Fancy Coffee Drinks and Smoothies – I don’t feel like I am missing out by not drinking frappuccinos with whipped cream and chocolate syrup or extra large Jamba Juice smoothies. I actually like my Starbucks skinny vanilla and caramel lattes. I guess I am not one for drinking my calories, well, unless it is in the form of a margarita.

The key to being successful in weight loss is to know which bad foods or situations are “triggers” for you and how to handle them. Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve lied to yourself about what you can handle. Try to reflect on this because power comes from knowing your own weaknesses. And, if there is something you are weak for, accept it, and learn how to deal with it. I’m never not going to love cheese or margaritas, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this!! I am not eating these things every day; I’m only having them on occasion. At the same time, if it’s a time I need to avoid them, I know how to do that too. And, don’t just focus on your weaknesses; think about your strengths too! If it makes you feel better, write a list of all those bad foods or situations that you can pass on without flinching (these might be the same foods that would make someone else weak in the knees). It’ll make you feel better to know that while you’re weak in some areas you're really strong in others. So, stop telling yourself lies, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and learn to use both to your advantage.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Healthy Snack You’ll LOVE to Eat

Are you looking for a healthy snack that doesn’t taste like cardboard or artificial sweetener? Well, look no further because I have the perfect snack for you! I learned this one from my mom when I was a little girl.

1 English muffin (try whole wheat)
½ cup of lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
4-6 strawberries sliced
1 tablespoon honey

Toast an English muffin (I like the double fiber wheat ones by Thomas) and top each side with approximately ¼ cup of lowfat (1%) cottage cheese. Then, add sliced strawberries on top of that and finally drizzle it with a little honey. Each side of the muffin has approximately 150 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber (if using the double fiber English muffins).

This is a perfect midday snack or a great compliment to scrambled eggs or an omelet on the weekend instead of waffles or pancakes. Bon Appétit!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC

If you haven't watched this show yet, DO! Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution airs on ABC on Friday nights and it is truly an eye-opening show. It's sad to see how backwards our mindset is in America when it comes to eating healthy. To me, what's even more disturbing is how much junk food is marketed to our youth and sadly, how many unhealthy food choices are made available in our public schools. Without getting too much into this subject right now (because I could write a 30-page paper on the issue), watch the following clip (about the first minute of the clip) from Jamie Oliver's show

I hope you're just as outraged as I am that French fries are considered a vegetable in public schools. And we wonder why more than 35% of America's youth (from ages 6-19) are classified as overweight according to the Center for Disease Control.

Support Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution by clicking here:

"Falling Off the Wagon"

There’s no more appropriate time to talk about “falling off the wagon” than as the weekend comes to a close and Monday nears. How many Mondays have you said, “Today is the day I am going to start my diet” or “today is the day I am going to get back on track?” Haven’t we all said these things? It’s probably because we had a great weekend with friends and family filled with dinning out, BBQs, family dinners, dessert, pizza and a movie, etc. Yep, you know what I’m talking about, those wonderful weekends that have you asking yourself Monday, “Why oh why did I eat all that food?” My question to you is, “Why oh why must we beat ourselves up so much over the foods we enjoy?”

What I am here to tell you is that it is ok to fall off the wagon. That’s probably not what you would expect me to say, but really, it is OK (for quite a few reasons in fact)! But, before you get too excited, let me just say this, when I say it is ok to fall off the wagon that means on occasion. I am not promoting that you should feel free to spend all weekend gorging on junk food without a care. What I am suggesting is that you allow yourself to eat something you really want (even if it's bad) every now and then without feeling bad about it.

So, let's get right to it. I’d be truly worried about you if you told me that you eat ‘perfect’ seven days a week and workout five days a week. Let me explain. If you suppress your desire to eat your favorite foods, whether its pizza, lasagna, or a double bacon cheeseburger, your restraint will only backfire on you. Think of it this way, if you always hold inside your true feelings when you’re feeling mad at your roommate or sad about something your partner did or didn’t do, what will happen? That’s right, sooner or later all those little things you hold inside are going to push you over the edge and you’re going to explode at that person. Wouldn’t it be better to just express how you feel once in a while and move on than hold it inside and then say things that are probably 10 times worse and more dramatic than need be? The same applies to food. If you tell yourself “I am going to be ‘perfect’ every day,” what do you think is going to happen? That’s right, one day you’re going to break down, and instead of just having two slices of pizza you craved a week ago, you’re going to have half a pizza pie, plus ice cream, and popcorn. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there!

I think my absolute favorite food is pizza. I haven’t had it in a few months (and not because I’ve been suppressing a craving, but because I haven’t really thought about it). Last night, I ordered a pizza and ate five amazingly delicious slices! My old self would probably beat myself up for that, think about it for hours, and make myself miserable over it. Then, you want to know what would happen? All that stress over what I ate would just make me eat even more!

Now, I don’t view eating the things I love as a bad thing or something worth stressing over. Instead, I enjoyed my delicious pizza, even had a little frozen yogurt for dessert and didn’t think twice about it (well except of course to write this blog). Why doesn’t it bother me anymore? Because I work hard! I workout five days a week, I eat healthy most of the time, and I’m consistent with both. I work hard, to play hard (i.e. eat pizza and frozen yogurt if I feel like it). What’s the point of working hard, if you don’t reap the fruits of your labor? I’m not suggesting that eating healthy and working out is all work and no fun and that I do it to eat more and eat bad. Not at all! I love working out, I love how it feels after I’ve ran three miles in under 30 minutes. And, I love eating healthy! I love salads, veggies, fruit, grilled chicken, etc. I don’t have to force these things down my throat at all. I’d gladly eat an apple with peanut butter over Oreos as a snack. I just love eating – I am weak for some things that aren’t so healthy for you like an In-N-Out animal-style cheeseburger and pizza, but I also crave cereal topped with fruit and turkey pita sandwiches with hummus.

The point is you can’t beat yourself up for enjoying the foods you love. This will only cause you to stress out and eat more. Instead, enjoy the foods you love, even if they’re bad, just don’t forget to love the foods that are good for you just as much and eat them more than the bad foods. The key is moderation and balance! If you remember those two things, you’ll honestly be just fine. Do you want to know the best part about enjoying the junk you love? It actually keeps your body guessing when you break up your routine, which in turn revs your metabolism. So go ahead, eat your cookie, but please wash it down with a fat-free glass of vitamin D and calcium-rich milk!

Friday, April 9, 2010

BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch (and snacks) to Save Calories AND Money

If you’re like me, working the 9-5 grind in an office, then you know what happens when noon rolls around – lunchtime! One really good habit I got into right when I started working full-time was bringing my own lunch to work. Let me explain why.

Every morning, without fail, I make a sandwich or wrap (I try to mix it up to keep things interesting) to take to work for lunch. If, I am really pressed for time, I’ll grab a to-go cup of Progresso soup, frozen Lean Cuisine meal, or an organic lowfat burrito. Most of the time, however, I try to avoid these things since they are processed and loaded with sodium. Pressed for time or not, I ALWAYS bring my lunch. And, when you really think about the cost of bringing your own lunch versus picking up something to eat at a local eatery, how can you not make the switch to bringing your own lunch, especially in this economy!?!

Let’s say I didn’t pack my lunch for work and I picked up a sandwich at Quiznos five days a week. Let’s say I always ordered a regular-sized Oven Roasted Turkey and Cheddar sandwich. This sandwich has 510 calories (and that’s without any condiments) and costs approximately $7 (including tax). You do the math - that adds up to 2,550 calories a week for lunch and $35 dollars. Now, let’s say I packed a turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mustard five days a week instead. My homemade sandwich has approximately 300 calories and costs $3 a day. Your savings in one week: 1,050 calories and $20…can you say pedicure (or if you’re a dude, a new DVD)?!?

In addition to packing my lunch for work, I also pack snacks to keep around so that I always have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to keep me going. I can’t tell you how much money and how many calories doing this has saved me over the years. Yes, of course I am still tempted by the occasional piece of chocolate in the candy bowl, or the treats coworkers sometimes bring in, but more often than not I’ll always reach for my own snacks. Having healthy snacks around keeps me from ever feeling starved and rarely breaking down. So, what do I pack for snacks? Usually, a FiberOne bar, one or two pieces of fruit, 100-calorie pack of almonds, and/or a cup of Yoplait YoPlus yogurt. My snacks are definitely healthier and better for you than grabbing a bag of chips or pack of cookies from the vending machine! Plus, because my snacks are loaded with protein and fiber, I never crash at work from too much sugar or come home from work feeling famished.

The lesson here, packing a lunch and snacks for work not only saves calories and money, it’s healthier, keeps you energized throughout the day, and keeps you from raiding your refrigerator later. And, do you want to know the absolute best part about eating this way? Eating smaller meals throughout the day revs your metabolism versus eating only three larger meals a day. Who doesn’t want that? So, wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning and prepare a lunch and snacks for your work day, it is worth it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Loaded Baked Potato - Easy, Yummy, and Healthy!

1 package of extra lean ground turkey (save leftover ground turkey for other great meals) *for vegetarian version, substitute ground turkey for vegetarian chili
1 packet of Lawry’s taco seasoning
1 medium size potato

Toppings (pick and choose):
¼ cup of 2% milk shredded cheddar and jack cheese
Chopped chives
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of light sour cream
2 ounces of avocado
2 tablespoons salsa
¼ cup black beans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place washed potato on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. In a frying pan, brown extra lean ground turkey on medium heat. Follow the instructions on the back of the Lawry’s taco seasoning to season the ground turkey. Cooking the turkey should take 20-30 minutes so do this halfway through baking your potato. When potato is done, stuff with 4 ounces of the seasoned, extra lean ground turkey and top as desired with any of the above delicious and healthy options.

This meal is lowfat and packed with fiber and protein to keep you satisfied. Remember to measure out your toppings so that you don’t go overboard and add unnecessary calories. The serving suggestions above should be plenty to fill the potato.

A Lazy Girl's Take on Dinner

Ok, I fully admit that when it comes to making dinner I am the laziest person out there. By the time I get off of work and finish working out all I want to do is make the fastest, easiest thing I can for dinner. My typical dinners include cereal, a veggie burger that I can heat in the microwave in less than two minutes, scrambled eggs with toast or in a wrap or a sandwich, or once in a while I’ll heat up some microwavable brown rice and frozen veggies. Are you getting the picture? Anything I make for dinner usually takes less than 10 minutes to make. Yes, I am THAT impatient and THAT lazy!

But, even I must admit, my own blog is inspiring me to branch out a little more. When I went to the grocery store after work today, I made a conscious effort to think up yummy, easy, and fresh dinner ideas to break up the monotony of my usual routine. Do you ever notice that everything processed in a grocery store is located in the interior aisles and everything fresh and whole is located, for the most part, around the perimeter of the store? Tonight, I mainly shopped the perimeter and only hit up the interior aisles for a few things. So, what made my list tonight?

Interior Aisles
One organic lowfat frozen bean burrito
One can of reduced sodium black beans
Kashi GoLean cereal
Emerald 100-calorie packs of almonds
Pineapple chunks in individual cups

Fruit: Strawberries, Bananas, Grapes, Apples, Tomatoes, and Avocado
Vegetables: Potatoes, Butternut squash, Chives, Onions, Green peppers, and Lettuce
Lean Meat: Chicken fillets marinated in lemon pepper seasoning and Extra lean ground turkey breast
Whole Grains: Wheat bread, English muffins, and pita pockets

With everything I bought, coupled with some other stuff I have at home, I have so many meal ideas. Tonight, I am going to cook the extra lean ground turkey with Lawry’s taco seasoning. With this alone, I can make three different and yummy meals – first up, a fajita with ground turkey, onions, green peppers, black beans, a little bit of cheese, salsa, avocado, and light sour cream. Tomorrow night, I can use the ground turkey for a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, onion, green peppers, and a little bit of cheese. On Saturday night, I am going to bake a potato and load it with the lean ground turkey, a little bit of cheese, chives, and some light sour cream. I can make three fairly easy, yummy, and HEALTHY dinners out of one package of extra lean ground turkey.

I’ve learned that if you shop purposefully you can get a lot more out of your meals. Too often, I think about what’s easy and quick and this can really be short-sighted. Now, I have three delicious dinners to look forward to just by thinking ahead and buying ingredients that can serve a lot of purposes. So next time you go to the grocery store, I challenge you to fight your urge to load up on items and in the interior aisles. Focus your attention on the perimeter and I guarantee your meals will taste better and be better for you. It's worth the extra effort, even for a lazy girl like me!

What's Your Real Age?

Back in college, I took a women’s health class. One of our assignments was to find out our ‘Real Age’ based on our lifestyles and then from that determine how we think we’d most likely die (sounds morbid, I know, but it was eye opening actually). When I took the test, I was 21 years old, but the test assessed my 'Real Age' was truly 25 years old based on my lifestyle. This year, on my 26th birthday I decided to retake the test to see if my efforts over the last five years had impacted my 'Real Age.' When I retook the test, it assessed that my 'Real Age' on my 26th birthday was actually 21 years old! I shaved five years off my life in five years! It’s great to know that although I am 26, I have the body and health of a 21 year old still! So what changed for me? I exercise more than I did at 21, I eat healthier and more well rounded, I drive slower, and I talk less on my cell phone when I'm driving - those changes really added up for me!

I encourage you all to go to and take the Real Age Test. What I like most about this test is that it looks beyond your physical activity level and eating habits. This test explores your family medical history, driving habits, personal relationships, and more, which all contribute to leading a healthy life. It is a great way to see what you’re doing right and what you can improve on. It also goes to show you that making real and lasting change really does make a difference beyond what you can see on the outside.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What’s Your Excuse? "There’s Just Not Enough Time" and Other Lame Excuses We Love to Use

What’s your excuse for not exercising at all or exercising regularly? Is it school? Work? Both? Or is it hard to find time when you are juggling kids, relationships, family, and friends? Maybe you’re working two jobs. Or maybe you have too many social obligations. Do these excuses sound familiar? I’m sure you’re shaking your head yes right about now, and that is because we’ve all used them. It seems we’re all tired, overworked, stressed out, and there is just “never enough time in the day” to fit everything in and on top of it make time for working out. Ohh yes there is. I work full-time and I go to school part-time (I take two night classes a week) and I make time to workout five times a week, yes five one-hour sessions every single week. How do I make the time? I am committed to working out just like I am committed to my job and education. I have made exercise one of my top priorities. In fact, I schedule exercise in my weekly planner every single week. Now, I understand life comes up; there are vacations, unexpected crazy days where everything falls apart, emergencies, false alarms, etc. I know sometimes it’s hard to make time in the midst of everything else, but it is possible. Everyone, in my opinion, has 30 minutes somewhere in their day. I used to workout on my lunch hour in San Diego, then for a while I went to bed a little earlier so that I could wake up and workout before work, now I workout as soon as I get home from work and even sometimes after I get home from school. When I know something is going to throw my routine off, I try my best to maneuver around it. For example, I was in San Diego a few weekends ago. I knew that it would be hard to workout in SD so I worked out one extra day during the week to take the pressure off myself to workout on the weekend. If you’re committed, there is always a way.

For some of you reading this, you haven’t worked out period in who knows how long. For others, you workout, but it’s inconsistent because you fit it in here and there when it works for you. And, for some of you, you’re just as committed as me and are making the time, good for you! If you haven’t been working out, grab your calendar and find three days where you think you can workout uninterrupted for 30 minutes. I’m sure some of you are saying, but I don’t have a gym membership or I don’t have any gym equipment at home…that’s not an excuse. Walking or running around your neighborhood or at the park is free, so get moving! Remember to start slow whenever you start any new exercise program, drink plenty of water, and stretch before and after working out. Just think, in the time it takes to watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars you could get three to four workouts in!! For those of you, who find exercise is an inconsistent part of your routine, try to identify why. What is getting in your way? Is it your relationship? Is it your school or work schedule? Or are YOU getting in your own way? You need to figure this out before you can make a change. I know at times it is hard to put on your running shoes and walk into a gym when you’ve packed your day so full that you feel like you are running from one thing to the next. But, believe me, there is something so therapeutic about working out that I guarantee when your workout is over you will feel happier about even the craziest of days! So what are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Put your running shoes on, start moving, and start feeling better.

My New Guilty (but, not so guilty) Pleasure

I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to have the real version of anything over the diet, light, sugar free version, and that especially applies to ice cream. Back in college, when I was living with roommates, we stocked the freezer with Weight Watchers ice cream treats. I admit, they're good, but something is missing. They just don't taste the same or as good as the real thing. Nevertheless, when I ate one Weight Watchers ice cream treat, inevitably I'd want a second one, and sometimes a third one. Obviously, I know that this defeats the whole point of eating lowfat or light ice cream, which brings me to my problem with diet food - you know it has fewer calories so you think you can have more. Beyond that, I think that because diet food just isn't as satisfying as the real thing we tend to want more hoping that the second or third serving of it will finally make us feel satisfied. Now you do the math, if you eat two Weight Watchers ice cream sandwiches at 140 calories a pop, you've consumed 280 calories. The funny thing is, you could have a half cup of Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream for 270 calories, 10 calories less than two diet ice cream sandwiches!! Honestly, most of us would rather eat the real ice cream, but somehow we trick ourselves into thinking we're saving calories and satisfying our craving if we don't eat the real thing. It's so funny how our minds work!

Now, instead of eating light ice cream I eat the real thing. My new guilty pleasure is the new 90-calorie Twix ice cream bars. I admit, they are small, but they are so good that I am so much more satisfied eating one 90-calorie Twix ice cream bar versus two or three Weight Watchers treats.

The lesson here is, eat the things you love and eat the real version, just be sure to watch your portions. You don't have to give up taste to lose weight, and sometimes doing that will just backfire on you anyways.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

If you know me well, then you probably know I will yell at you if you take any unhealthy shortcut to lose weight. It angers me when I hear that people are eating less than 1,000 calories or cut out an entire food group from their diet. I also hate when I hear people setting up unrealistic goals like “I want to lose 15 pounds this month.” And don’t even get me started on people who take any sort of magic pill. I don’t care if you bought your pills at Trader Joes or Whole Foods, it’s a gimmick and deep down you and I know it. People always want the short cut, the easy answer and I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work that way! Do you want to know the secret to getting and staying healthy, two words: HARD WORK! To make lasting, real change you must eat right and exercise, there's just no way around it.

As someone who’s struggled with their weight, been up and down, and dieted only to later gain it back, I know how tempting it is to think that there is some easy answer out there to fix your weight loss woes. Right now, I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life (and I’ve maintained it for quite some time now). Whenever someone comments on my weight or how good I look, or how far I've come, I always say the same thing “I worked really hard to get here.” And it is nothing short of the truth. I changed my lifestyle to get where I am now. I workout consistently, I eat right most of the time, drink a lot of water, don’t smoke or do drugs, and I drink alcohol in moderation. You’re probably thinking I sound boring, or that this is too rigid, but in all honesty I have more fun now than I ever did before because I am confident and secure in who I am and I attribute a lot of that to getting healthy. A lot of people my age want to lose weight to look good on the outside, but to me it was and is so much more. I feel good about my changes because I know my lifestyle is going to carry me in the long run. I feel good that I will have a healthy pregnancy one day, can run and play with my kids one day, will be able to go on adventures without worrying whether my body can do it or not, and will be able to ward off so many preventable diseases. To me, that is what matters! You only get one body, and if you mistreat it or misuse it, you may not be able to undo the consequences.

So here it is, this is the best advice I can give you whether you need to lose 20 pounds, 5 pounds, or just want to maintain your already healthy weight – slow and steady wins the race! Don’t buy into any short cut or quick fix. Take care of your health for the long haul, not so that you can wear a bikini or board shorts this summer. And dig deep! Why are you trying to lose weight? What does it mean to you? Think beyond the vanity because beauty fades. I hope you will try and see all the benefits of being healthy that have nothing to do with having a six pack stomach or a muscular physique.

My other piece of advice is to be CONSISTENT! This is the true key to success in anything in life, but especially for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you know me well, you know I love sweets – cake, cookies, ice cream, donuts, you name it I LOVE IT! And, yes I eat them, I also eat pizza, and drink margaritas if I feel like it. I do these things, but I do them only once in a while and I have learned to stop beating myself up for doing it. Some people like to call these things “cheat foods” or “cheat meals” and I used to buy into that too, but now I just call this living! Everything in moderation folks! Don’t give up the foods you love, don’t avoid the social events you enjoy, or the friends and family that make you smile all for the sake of losing weight. Enjoy life and enjoy food! What’s important is not that you are strict seven days a week, but that you find a way to BALANCE your life so that you enjoy the foods you love, while still being healthy. How do you do this? Workout consistently every week, eat healthy at least 80% of the time, indulge a little here and there so you don’t go insane, and don't beat yourself up if you have a bad day! You can do this, lose weight, and be healthy!

My 'Fast Food' Secret Weapon - Pita Pit!

I am not a big fan of Subway. I feel like you can walk away feeling like you ate healthy there, but I rarely walk away feeling like 'wow that was so delicious!' There really aren't a lot of good chain eateries out there where you can eat healthy and fast for cheap. Back when I lived in San Diego, I discovered Pita Pit, and to me this place embodies everything I want in a healthy, fast, cheap, fresh meal! If you haven't been to Pita Pit yet, go! Go now (visit their website for locations and nutrition facts One of my favorite pitas is the chicken pita with tzatziki sauce, a little bit of feta cheese, and lots of veggies. What's great about Pita Pit too is that you can build your own pita on their website first to calculate the nutrition facts. I recommend this because even though Pita Pit is healthy and fresh you can still eat an unhealthy meal there (i.e. a Philly cheese steak pita with Swiss cheese and lots of mayo). It is ultimately up to you to make the healthy choice, but at a place with lots of great healthy options that's pretty easy to do.

My Great New Snack Find!

The next time you go grocery shopping, instead of picking up a 100-calorie snack pack of chips or cookies, which are processed and have no nutritional value pick up a 100-calorie snack pack of natural almonds! I used to shy away from eating too many nuts because, although they are loaded with protein and vitamin E, they are high in calories and fat. But, now that I've discovered these 100-calorie almond packs from Emerald, I eat almonds every day. Even though nuts have a lot of fat, remember that is the good kind of fat (monounsaturated fat) that will lower your cholesterol and help combat heart disease. Plus, protein is a great secret weapon because it keeps you feeling full, so eat up! Each pack has 100 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein. This is a great mid-day snack! For more great information on why almonds rock, click here:

Start Your Day with a POWER Breakfast!

Ok, everyone should know by now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, why is this? Well, for one reason, people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day, they also stay fuller longer, and finally, the calories you eat at breakfast will be expended all day long by your daily activities. These are great reasons to load up on a great, healthy breakfast. So, now you ask, what are the elements of a great, healthy breakfast? Fiber-rich carbohydrates and lowfat protein. A meal high in fiber and protein is going to keep you both full and energized in the morning. For a balanced breakfast, aim for 300-400 calories, 15-25 grams of protein, and 8-15 grams of fiber. Also, make sure to add a serving of fruit to any breakfast for added nutrients! Here are my top three breakfast picks:

Breakfast Option 1:
1 cup Kashi GoLean Cereal
1/2 cup of fat free milk (or lowfat vanilla soy milk, if you like your cereal a little sweet)
Top cereal with a medium-size banana
(calories: 300, protein: 18 grams, fiber: 13 grams)

*Banana Benefits – rich in vitamin B6, folate, and potassium. Read more on the many benefits of bananas:

Breakfast Option 2:
2 eggs scrambled
1 slice of Milton's wheat bread toasted with a tablespoon of peanut butter
1 cup of strawberries
(calories: 360, protein: 20 grams, fiber: 8 grams)

*Strawberry benefits - rich in vitamin C and flavanoids. Read more on the many benefits of strawberries:

Breakfast Option 3:
Quaker Oats High Fiber Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal with 1/2 cup of fat free milk
Trader Joes Greek Style Nonfat Honey Yogurt
Medium orange
(calories: 385, protein: 21 grams, fiber: 13 grams)

*Orange Benefits – rich in vitamin C. Read more on the many benefits of oranges:

Start your day off right with any of these breakfast options. I promise that the combination of fiber and protein will keep you feeling satisfied longer than a breakfast lacking one of these. These are the types of breakfast options that will keep you energized, satisfied, and provide a lot of great health benefits on top of it. Feel free to mix any of these ideas up too. The key is to get both a solid amount of protein and fiber in the morning. Strawberries, bananas, and almonds are all great oatmeal toppers and bananas and peanut butter make wheat toast delicious!