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Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

I hear from a lot of people that they do everything under the sun to try to lose weight and yet it still just doesn’t seem to be happening. They eat all the right foods, they go to the gym as often as possible, they seem to be getting a decent amount of sleep. But what did you eat in between all those angelic meals you had? What did you do when you went to the gym – were you sweating up a storm or talking to people and maybe grabbing a machine for a couple minutes?

It’s easy to miss the details. I know, for example, that I tend to eat a lot more when I’m eating with my husband. Or any guy 1.5x my size for that matter. I was recently on vacation with some girlfriends and when we went out to dinner I would find myself wanting so much more than they were eating. Frankly, I think I do tend to eat more than the average female adult, but I probably could do with a little less sometimes. The point is to pay attention to how much you’re eating, not how much your company is eating. When you are with someone who eats a lot more, ie your spouse who may be bigger than you are, you don’t need to eat as much as they do.  Or when you go out to dinner with a bunch of people – alcohol gets mixed in and your portion sensors go haywire! Especially because the people around you indulge. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the same food but just have a little less. You savor each bite just a little bit less and less after the first one anyway! At what point will you realize that you are going to enjoy the next bite that overstuffs you a lot less than the last one.

When you’re cooking, do you pay attention to what you add to the dish? An extra stick of butter might be overkill, but if you throw in a chunk here and a slice there, it seems like less. A pinch of salt may bring out the flavor, but several mindless pinches take over the dish. (If you’re drinking a glass of wine – or two or three – while cooking it’s especially easy to lose track.)

Is this what you have on hand for snacks?

What about snacks? Do you reach for snacks during the day without thinking about it? You eat healthy meals but forget to pay attention to what happens in between? Maybe you think the food doesn’t count if you’re standing up or doing work at the same time? Or maybe you do reach for the healthy bag of mixed nuts – they’re raw and unsalted – but you keep reaching and reaching until you’ve eaten the whole bag? It’s a lot easier to keep your portions in check if you only give yourself the amount you want to eat. Take the nuts out of the bag, stick them in a little dish and close the bag before you start eating. Speed counts too – if you wolf them down, of course you aren’t going to be full after the 2.5 seconds it took to swallow them. Try to eat them slower and actually pay attention to what they taste like. Condiments too. You may be eating what seems like healthy fare, but sticking tons of sugary ketchup (catsup?) on it. Or oops, I’m eating farm-fresh vegetables but I accidentally deep fried them before they got to my mouth! Fresh produce is so delectable but it’s difficult to really taste it if it’s covered in who knows what. Pay attention to the amount and the flavors of the food you put in your mouth.

One thing I should note about portion size: do make sure you eat enough. Starving yourself is NOT going to help you lose weight, it’s only going to slow down your metabolism, give you less energy than you need and make you moody and irritable so nobody wants to hang out with you. Not only that, you generally reach a point where you realize you haven’t had enough food and suddenly you’re ravenous and have eaten everything in sight before you know what’s happened. Again it’s about paying attention. Your body will tell you when it’s still hungry. I don’t mean bored and wanting to munch on things, I mean genuinely hungry.

This may be SLIGHTLY small for an entree

Exercise works the same way. You can do it reluctantly or you can do it well. You know what I’m talking about, you see those people at the gym who are really only there to socialize with the other people at the gym. The women in the locker room who look like they are getting ready to go out to a fancy dinner and then you realize they are in their workout clothes and they are actually beautifying themselves to go out on the gym floor. You know who you are! It’s fine if that’s what you want to do, but don’t tell me you are working out every day and can’t understand why you aren’t getting more fit. Muscle definition happens when you actually pick up the weight – and hopefully put as much effort and concentration as you possibly can into it! There are days when I just hop on a treadmill or run around the park with a thousand other things running through my mind – I think you need those workouts too. Part physical benefit, part mental. But I think you get so much more from exercise when you put your mind to it and really pay attention to what you’re doing. If you’re going to work out, do it well! PUSH yourself! Get the most from it! Maaaaaybe even enjoy it? Try new things! Pay attention to what they feel like, what parts of your body they work.

Do you remember what you just read? Did you pay attention? 😉 I challenge you to really notice your body next time you are exercising – how does each muscle feel and how hard are you really pushing yourself? Pay attention to your food and how much you really need to be satiated. Is the next bite really going to make you a happier person? Or is being satiated as opposed to over-stuffed going to make you feel better?

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The honeymoon, that is! Yep, we’re back! And not 100% thrilled about it, what with the drastic weather change and the reality of going back to work, but… it’s the Year of the Rabbit and it’s going to ROCK! In no small part due to its strong start – what better way to kick off a year than spend over a month with your favorite person in the world exploring new continents and NOT worrying about your day job? It sounds obvious but a good dose of vacation does wonders for your health, both mentally and physically. The nuts part is that people we met along our travels weren’t the least bit shocked by our adventure – only in the US is it outrageous to take more than a few days holiday at one time. I gotta say, my body has never been happier.

It’s never really been a secret that I prefer 80+ degree weather to sub-freezing temps and heaps of snow. (I mean really, what better way is there to eat a meal than this?) Most of the health- and fitness-related lessons from the trip were equally unsurprising, but it was nice to put theory into practice and see that I actually know what I’m talking about and can follow my own advice.

Lesson #1: I work out most days in general, but on the honeymoon getting to the gym was not my top priority, and rightly so. We went a few times and also got in some great outdoor runs, but mostly we just did a ton of walking. And wow did we cover a lot of hills! On most days here at home, we sit at work all day and then hopefully get an hour or so of gym time. My body was much happier with the constant movement. And I hardly even noticed I was exercising because it was fun, not something I was forcing myself to do! (That’s key to keeping it up.) But what can you do, we have to work to make a living and most jobs tend to be sedentary. At least we can make an effort to break it up a bit. I can’t tell you how much your body will appreciate it! Try to get up every hour or so and walk around, or go for a brisk walk outside. How can you expect everything to function properly when you sit all day – if you are stagnant, your insides are going to be stagnant too (if ya know what I mean!)

The view at the top was worth it!

Lesson #2: Eat real food! (“Not too much. Mostly plants.”) I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Don’t eat stuff out of boxes. Don’t eat low-fat, sugar-free adulterated garbage, just eat real fruits and vegetables! I barely had any dairy while we were away but the very little I had was full-fat, regular milk. (In Japan I had a few soy lattes and wow was their soy milk better than ours in the states!) In any case, we didn’t find the fake stuff so easy to come by – not that we would have wanted it. Look at this delicious real meal – best sushi I’ve ever had! Note the not-huge portion size.

And look at how tiny this restaurant was!

OK I’ll admit this traditional Japanese breakfast left a little to be desired.

But dinner the night before was amazing!

Lesson #3: Take your time at meals, enjoy the company and focus on what you’re eating. It’s so easy to eat in front of the TV at night and not really pay attention to the fact that you happen to be shoveling food in your face. We tend to eat way too fast. Often while we’re on the go, running from one place to the next. When you’re forced to eat out at restaurants almost every night, watching TV isn’t usually an option. Relax, slow down so your food can digest and enjoy the person you are sitting with. What’s the rush!

Lesson #4: Eat at home! Good God, after all the restaurant-eating we were dying for home-cooked food. Thankfully we had a few visits with friends and family along the way, so we were able to get our fix. I really missed the ability to eat clean and make the things I want the way I want them. I never knew how much I would crave plain vegetables! Grilling! There isn’t enough space in this blog, or your attention span, to begin to describe all the benefits of making your own meals. Have fun with it! Even if you don’t think you are a good cook, it can be so great to experiment – we all have to learn somewhere. Make the effort to choose organic vegetables, humanely-raised meat. It’s much more satisfying to eat when you’ve gone to all the work of preparing everything. I can’t tell you how thrilled we were to get to my cousin’s house and find a whole salmon in the sink.

Lesson #5: Be thankful for what you have. 🙂

Happy New Year!! The year of the rabbit is my year so I plan to make it ridiculously good. And why not?

 

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Just finishing up a lot of last minute errands and other to-do list items before leaving the country for over a MONTH on Wednesday! Tokyo-Kyoto-HongKong-Bangkok-KohSamui-Sydney-Melbourne, here we come! One of those errands took me to the doctor to get a couple vaccines and Ambien for the time adjustment. Now I am not one to take drugs unless I absolutely need to. But a sleeping aid, when you are moving ahead 14 hours at a time? For me that’s a must! It allows me to adjust to the difference so much faster and, therefore, suffer the least amount of jet lag. Who wants to be dragging on a trip like that? When going to the other side of the world, it’s a great idea to schedule a visit to your doctor for a travel consult beforehand. I always let them know that I don’t want any vaccines or other meds that aren’t 100% necessary, but I do want to make sure I’m prepared.

Next up, the post office… YIKES. Let’s just say, I was there for a while. And that was just the line for the automated machines. If you still need to mail out those Christmas gifts, well… yeah I don’t know what to tell you. Bring a book?

Then as I ate my lunch I was thinking about all the posts and articles I’ve seen about how to get through the holidays, with respect to health. Some regarding stress, some denouncing (with various degrees of contempt!) the idea of watching your figure, and most of them about keeping your diet and exercise routing intact. So I thought I would throw my two cents in. I hope you’ll at least try not to roll your eyes and give me a shot.

But first things first. How good does this lunch look? I was craving some warm soup and this hit the spot! Tomato soup and quinoa salad from Nanoosh, mmm. I could so make this myself but, given we are leaving in a day and half, we have NONE of the raw materials in our kitchen.

So, here’s the thing. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m not generally in favor of the oh-so-popular moderation idea. I think when you do something, you should really go for it! Give it everything you have and be passionate about it. You so often hear how everything is fine in moderation. Well, I disagree. But more on that some other time. However I do believe that the right strategy for dealing with the holidays lies somewhere in between the extreme ideas I’ve seen.

If I see another write-up about holiday dieting I think I might just boycott the media for the rest of the year! But I don’t agree with the idea that you should just let all the rules go out the window for a good two weeks either. Who wants to go to parties and turn down everything that has a little butter or frosting? Or not go to the party at all? But on the other hand who feels good the next day when they are bloated and devoid of energy? I know I don’t.

  • There is something to being prepared when you know there will be nothing with any redeeming health qualities to eat. Maybe it’s not always such a bad idea to make sure you eat a little something nutritious an hour or two before heading out to that party. Fill yourself up a little bit on the good stuff and then top it off with the goooood stuff.
  • You and your host will want to see some tasty treats make it past your lips, but you don’t need to eat them all. Eat the ones you really want, don’t just eat everything because it’s there. Easier said than done, I know, but the party isn’t all about the food, right? Aren’t you there to talk to people you haven’t seen in a while and celebrate the happy holidays with the ones you have? Change your mindset! And it doesn’t hurt to have a drink in your hand – it’s tough to hold a plate and eat when you do. Sparkling water with lime is always refreshing! And it fills you up and keeps you hydrated too. When I’m spending holidays with family, I actually bring a few bottles of water. That way I know I will drink something other than wine and it keeps my hands busy instead of grabbing for every snack I see.
  • Stay active! Just because you are out of town doesn’t mean you can’t hit the road and get in a run, or at least a walk. It’s so much more rewarding to enjoy a big family meal if you’ve worked for it! And it can be a great activity to share with others! Not to mention the stress release you get from a good sweat. And you can take that however you want, there are all different kinds of exercise. 😉 If you keep yourself moving you will have a lot more energy vs. the sluggish food coma you get otherwise.
  • Start new traditions! I don’t see why holidays have to be all about the food, anyway. Make it about family and friends. Make new memories that don’t involve food. Maybe recruit people to run with you? Enter a race, and the family members who don’t join can come cheer! Play games, break out the video camera to capture memories you can re-live later, go for a hike, build a snowman, watch holiday-themed movies, play music and even dance if you feel like it! There are so many non-food things we can cherish as traditions and I think we would feel so much better for it.

That’s it. I really didn’t want to make a list of rules. The holidays, and every day for that matter, are meant to be enjoyed. I just know how it feels to completely over-indulge. It may be fun at the time, but it doesn’t feel so great the next day and it definitely doesn’t feel good at all after several days. Don’t be overly critical of yourself but don’t completely derail your healthy habits either.

So… Happy New Year!! I’ll be back – and with some much more interesting photos! – in a month!

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I got a great question today and I thought it warranted a longer explanation. So here I am, inspired to write a post that I hope people will find helpful. And motivating! This time it’s not about calories in (food), but rather calories out. The question was… As you get in shape, your resting heart rate goes down – does a lower heart rate mean less calories burned? Yes. But that isn’t the whole story and in fact it’s more good news than bad.

OK so it doesn’t seem quite fair. The more fit you are, the slower your heart rate, so the less automatically, effortlessly you say goodbye to calories. But here’s why that’s a good thing!

  • Your body is more efficient. It takes work to keep that complicated system functioning. The less effort you require to keep everything running smoothly and keep your body healthy, the better. Right?! You’ve got a heartbeat to maintain, food to digest and for that matter good and bad bacteria to sort through. It’s a lot of work for your immune system to fight off infections, especially this time of year! I try to hold my breath when forced to stand near all these people who seem to be hacking up a lung, but I can’t hold it that long! And oh yes, your lungs! They need to move air in and out, well, pretty much non-stop. Isn’t it kind of comforting to think that you can make this less work for your body? I certainly wouldn’t want it to get too tired to perform any of these relatively important functions.
  • The fitter you are and the more efficient your body becomes, the more energy you have for other things. How much more fun is life when you jump out of bed and run around doing a million things! When you have energy, your whole outlook changes. You are more optimistic, things seem more achievable and they are. And let’s face it, you’re more fun to be around! Unless it’s 5AM and the unfortunate person next to you is not a morning person, but… you get my drift.
  • You are in better shape! Yes, that’s the problem, I know, I know. But it means you can work out harder! You have more capacity to push yourself and get a better workout, which means… more calories burned! That’s what you wanted, right? The harder you work during your workout, the more calories you burn afterwards. The more muscle you build. And muscles burn a lot more calories than fat!
  • There is a lot more that goes in to your metabolism than resting heart rate and I’m guessing your metabolism is only getting healthier. The amount you exercise, the foods you eat… I for one do not subscribe to the all calories are equal idea. Provided you are fueling your body with better options than before you started losing weight, you are improving your metabolism.

Not the prettiest picture, but certainly an illustration of making healthy choices. And a seriously simple dip* that tasted so good! There are SO many reasons why exercise is important. The question pertained to the calorie issue so I will stop there for now. It’s kind of a central theme to this blog, though, so you can imagine there will be more to come on that subject. (As if you didn’t already know that exercise is generally positive!)

*For this veggie dip, I threw a few things in to the food processor and voila. No measurements were made, just threw everything in and pushed a button. I used white beans, olive oil, a little bit of garlic, lemon juice, cumin and a touch of salt.

Enjoy!

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Insanity!

What has happened to my tolerance suddenly! Friday night I had less than a glass and a half of red wine and got home at a very reasonable hour. What happened when I crossed through my front door? Almost immediately fell asleep on the couch (sitting next to my much younger husband who also fell asleep, so I didn’t feel too bad… however if I drank only 1.5 glasses you can imagine he had to make up for the rest). Last night I think I had almost TWO whole glasses of wine, however several glasses of sparkling water among them. Home by 11 pm and guess what I did as soon as I got home AGAIN?! Yep. Repeat. Someone diagnose me! (Without depressing me, please.)

A quick note about last night… We went to an engagement party at a BBQ restaurant! They had rented out the downstairs room which was just the right size. An endless stream of sinful foods such as BBQ chicken, macaroni and cheese and pulled pork sliders were passed around all night. I ate a healthy snack before and after (healthy tip!) and drank lots of sparkling water with lime so I didn’t drink as much alcohol (another healthy tip!), I so was able to resist for the most part. The room had it’s own full bar and there was a live band. But not just any live band! This band was there as backup to the endless stream of karaoke-singing guests!! The happy couple included…

Today started on a thought-provoking note. I joined my friend for a performance at the 92nd Street Y. Now may I just take a moment to say that I need to go there more often! I always forget about it but they have the best, most interesting lectures. I snapped a photo of the poorly lit calendar of upcoming events to remind myself.

Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day? Phillip Seymour Hoffman? Steve Martin?! Last time I visited I saw a presentation by Andrew Weill, one of my favorite geniuses of the Nutrition world.

This time we saw Dr. Richard Kogan, a concert pianist AND a psychiatrist. He was stunningly good – and it’s not even his day job! He lectured about the life of renowned composer and pianist Robert Schumann and played pieces of his music interspersed throughout the lecture. He talked about the fine line between madness and genius, as Schumann was bipolar. (You can hear it in the music he wrote!) It seems like such a large number of the most talented artists throughout history were technically insane, or at least very tortured. Does their mental anguish drive their talent? Would they be as talented if they were able to get the proper treatment? Do they at times welcome the insanity so they can use it to create the masterpieces that make them famous? Then I, of course, tried to relate this in some way to Nutrition as I (am I sick??) always do. Do people who are overweight sabotage their treatment because the extra weight serves them in some way? We know underweight people do. Fascinating.

I highly recommend checking this place out – after all, aren’t we always wanting to find things to do with friends that DON’T involve eating and drinking? OK well at least sometimes??

The next adventure of the day was hitting the gym and trying out the workout entitled “Spartacus” from one of my favorite books, Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises. Another thing I highly recommend! Whether you commit to one of their workouts in its entirety or simply take the book along with you to the gym and try out different moves, it is such a great tool to add some variety to your workout. (I know, I know, it seems like such a contradiction that I could drive you to boredom, talking constantly about variety, right? Every post!) We did the Spartacus workout. Painful. And fantastic. Tell me, honestly, does ANYONE love doing this?

Or this?

Well, try doing those and many other moves, many many times over. Really, do! And let me know how it goes…

Happy weekend!

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Well, not so much in that order. Since I bought Sarma’s Living Raw Food yesterday, it was burning a hole in my kitchen. It was getting late so I picked something easy to make, just to give it a try. Who knew you could make chocolate pudding with an avocado?! Well, OK maybe we all knew it was possible, but did you know it tastes GOOD? Better than good? Here, I’ll prove it… this is what happened to mine in about 10 seconds flat. (Which is just SLIGHTLY more than the amount of time it took to make this easy-as-pie creation.)

My question to you is… WHO needs BUTTER?! Don’t answer that. Let me live in my fantasy world.

This morning started E-A-R-L-Y. A friend of mine who is dead set on making workouts a regular, consistent habit asked me to join her at the gym. Now I am never one to turn down that offer! Turns out the only time she could fit it in to her day was 5:30 am. Lovely. And I live about a half hour away. What must be done must be done, right? Right. Being the motivation that gets someone to make a healthy choice is my game. That is what makes me warm and fuzzy inside. So I left in the darkness on my mission. I did not, however, have the wherewithall at that hour to take a photo of the gym to prove it. Upon leaving I had more brainpower:

See?? I went! (Can you hear the silent undertone: “So can you!”) What a gorgeous morning. As I headed to the subway they were starting to set up the most amazing farmer’s market in NYC that is the Union Square Farmer’s Market…

…in all its glory.

Now one more thing before I let you go. Of the many MANY benefits I got out of working out so incredibly early in the morning, one was quite unexpected. By the time we’d finished our workout and showered it was 7 or 7:30 am. It felt like I’d been up for ages already! It felt like lunchtime! So when we went to the juice bar to grab a little green juice (oh how I LOVE starting the day that way!!!) I couldn’t take my eyes off the salad bar. And thus was my breakfast. A giant mixture of greens and other assorted veggies and nuts. OK and a little feta. Long gone are the days of waking up and craving a starchy – sorry, the SAME starchy breakie every day.

Try it!

 

 

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Sounds deep. Trust me, that’s not where this is going. I’m just referring to the annoying phenomenon that threatens to keep me from working out. I almost always pull through and make the effort to sweat, but it’s often a fight. What I’m referring to is the journey TO the workout. If I run in the park, then it’s the walk to the park. If it’s a gym day, it’s the walk to the Equinox. It’s FIVE blocks always. Small blocks. Forget that, the park is even closer.  It’s not uphill. It’s not in the snow (yet), I’m not walking barefoot. It really shouldn’t be that bad. Let’s take a walk…

The smell of this cute  little bakery doesn’t do me any favors but… running is so much better for me than eating cake, right?! (Right.)

Alas, it’s not the distance, it’s the monotony. There I go again! Tying it all in with the variety theme. (Really need to reconsider the title of this blog.) In any case, I just can’t bear doing the SAME thing over and over too many times. There are only so many routes I can take to the same place. And yes I do purposely go to different Equinox locations just for the sake of a change of scenery. Do you ever find that doing the same boring walk is more of a roadblock to your fitness routine than the workout itself?

Behold, my reward…

Gorgeous scenery. Another reason I love my run is the oldies but goodies that pop up on my iPod. Today I heard everything from Neil Young to Lenny Kravitz to TLC to a few hippity hop pop artisits I do not care to mention. And I mentioned TLC, so… But I don’t listen to this stuff unless I’m on a run, so it’s allowed. I need a wide assortment of different types of songs, fast, slow, bubbly, brooding… a little bit of everything. Plus it’s a bit of a treat that adds a little extra joy to my workouts.

How’s this for dedication? I saw one woman running around the big loop of the park with a stroller… filled with TWINS! I could not snap a shot as I was running up an incline unfortunately. I have a very strict no stopping while running UPhill policy, only down. My husband knows. He loves it. Ha no he doesn’t. I’m surprised he runs with me. And pretends to enjoy it. Anyway… sweat out the hills, push through. If you NEED a break, at least do it on a flat or, even better, a downhill. Do you have any silly rules? (Not that mine is silly!) Try it!

I also saw a man running (again, around the BIG loop) kicking a soccer ball. That is dedication to sport! I couldn’t snap that either as I was not quite at the crest of another hill. Hmm.. I didn’t think to look back but I am now wondering how he would have been able to keep control of the ball while running downhill…

Happy working out! Go! Get it done! If I can do it so can you. x

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