Many people set the goal to exercise more regularly, especially at this time of year with New Year’s resolutions. We all know that exercise is good for us. It can help us manage our weight, prevent disease, sleep better, and feel less stressed.
When you are setting goals for exercise, start small and be realistic. Here are some tips for success:
- Plan time for exercise into your schedule.
- At first, your goal might be to take a brisk walk for 15 minutes, 3 days a week.
- After a month, increase your workouts by 5 minutes.
- Work gradually toward the goal of 30-60 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, with strength training twice a week.
- Mix things up. Try an aerobic dance class, join a group workout at a nearby park, or look for workout videos online.
Don’t have time to exercise? You can still benefit from incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle. Do this by finding ways to increase your physical activity throughout the day:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park at the far end of the parking lot.
- Pace around while you’re on the phone.
- Walk laps around the field or court while you watch your child’s game.
Get creative! Look for ways to be active throughout your day. You will find that ten minutes of activity here and there throughout the day quickly add up to 30 minutes or more.
Need help finding motivation? Ask a friend to be your workout partner, go for a family hike or bike ride on weekends, or hire a personal trainer to guide your workouts. Have fun with it!
For more information on aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise, and more ideas for adding physical activity to your lifestyle, follow the link below:
Now, get moving! Afterward, enjoy this post-workout smoothie packed with muscle-repairing protein and replenishing potassium.
Post-Workout PB Banana Smoothie
- 1 scoop protein powder, flavor of your choice
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- ½ banana, frozen
- 1 large handful of spinach, or mixed greens
- 1 cup unsweetened almondmilk, or cold water
Directions: Blend all ingredients together until smooth, and enjoy!
Tips: For a thinner consistency, add more liquid. To make it colder, add a few ice cubes at a time.
255 Calories 19g Protein 11.5g Fat 22g Carbs 3g Fiber
One week eggs are bad, the next week eggs are good. Coffee is good! No, it’s bad! There is a lot of contradiction out there when it comes to nutrition advice, often resulting in confusion and mistrust. I will attempt to explain why there is so much mixed-messages and how we can sift through it all to find the truth.
Most of us get our information from one or more media sources. Whether you watch the news or Dr. Oz or read articles posted on Facebook, remember, their goal is to get more views and clicks. Sensationalizing the headlines sells, but is not always accurate. The media will take one small study and hype it up as if it is absolute fact. It is best to find the research article and read it yourself, the authors are usually more reserved in their analysis than the media.
Nutrition research is actually fairly new, it started at the end of the 19th century. Many foods, such as trans fats and artificial sweeteners, have only been studied for a few decades. Good evidenced-based advice takes time and numerous studies. No one study is the end-all, be-all, so be wary of “new evidence”.
Here are some red flags to look for with health claims in the media or even on products: “fast” results, eliminating whole food groups, or claims one nutrient is the answer to your health problems. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Americans spend billions on health and diet products every year. We are attracted to the promise of big results with little effort. Often we are tricked by marketing and half-truth statements.
Recognize that nutritional science is constantly evolving. Evidence over time will sometimes mean information will need to be clarified, modified or changed. However, this will not happen over night, and certainly not from one study.
Although the media makes it seem like there is a huge debate among experts there is significant agreement on diet and health. There are tried and true nutritional advice that has been unchanged for decades, the basic principles of healthful eating – eat lots of fruits and vegetables, limit sugar as much as possible, prioritize whole foods over packaged and processed foods, and cook your own food.
It is our responsibility to be informed consumers. Here is a summary of tips on how to make healthy food and nutrition choices:
- Remain curious and open-minded to new ideas, but use common sense and read the study when possible.
- Realize there is no “quick fix” to health – this is just a marketing ploy to sell you something.
- Focus on whole foods rather than individual nutrients.
- Don’t rely on supplements to “save you” from a bad diet.
- Every body is different, our needs vary, so what might be good or “work” for one person, does not necessarily mean it is for everyone.
As we approach the new year and start thinking about what changes or improvements we want to make, try to keep it simple – simple diet with simple ingredients – don’t overthink it – it’s just food!
Here’s a simple and healthy recipe that shouldn’t create any controversy:
Vegetable Quinoa Soup
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced carrot
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1/4 cup diced red potato
- 1/4 cup diced peeled sweet potato
- 1/2 cup diced zucchini
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced cabbage
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
- Spread quinoa in a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover and stir in garlic, rosemary and cumin, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in stock, potatoes and toasted quinoa. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium; cook 12 minutes. Stir in zucchini and cabbage; cook until vegetables and quinoa are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt. Serve warm. Enjoy!
144 Calories 7g Protein 5g Fat
19g Carbohydrates 3g Fiber
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I often get asked if it is healthier to have a vegetarian diet. My answer is, “not necessarily.” I have met a few vegetarians that don’t like most vegetables, so if your idea of vegetarian is eating potato chips all day, then, no, it is not healthier to be vegetarian. It really depends on foods choices, whether you choose to be an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, any one of them can be a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle.
The key to a healthy eating pattern is variety of foods and eating the right amounts of different foods. Here are some tips to eating healthy as a vegetarian.
- Think About Protein. Protein helps you stay full longer, stabilize blood sugar and maintain muscle mass. There are many plan options of protein, such as beans, peas, nuts, eggs, dairy and soy products. Make sure to have some protein with each meal.
- Eat the Rainbow. Vary the color of vegetables you eat. Each color represents different nutrients that your body needs.
- Get Your Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is naturally found only in animal products. Vegans and vegetarians should have fortified foods, add nutritional yeast to foods or take a Vitamin B12 supplement if not eating any animal products.
- Don’t Forget About Calcium and Vitamin D. If you don’t consume dairy products, add fortified milk alternatives, dark green leafy vegetables for calcium and supplements for Vitamin D
- Focus on Omega-3’s. High sources of Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish, like Salmon. The best vegetarian sources are found in ground flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil and soy.
- Choose Whole Grains. Refined grains are low in fiber, iron and B Vitamins. Whole grains will help you meet your nutritional needs, and fiber will help you stay full longer.
- Read Labels and Ingredients. Just because it’s vegetarian, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Know what you are eating!
Here is a great recipe that is vegetarian and full of protein, fiber and vegetables.
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
Makes 5 servings
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, washed and sliced
- 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 packet chili seasoning
- Cook onion, in olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, carrots and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients, turn heat to medium-low and stir to combine well. Simmer, partially covered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft.
- Serve warm. Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado, chopped green onion, and shredded cheese, if desired.
427 Calories 72g Carbohydrates
21g Protein 17g Fiber
289% Vitamin A 65% Vitamin C 15% Calcium 31% Iron
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Most of us eat out, at least a little. Some eat out most of the time. Whether we run through a drive-thru between kid activities or have work lunches daily, eating out is part of life for most of us.
Cooking and eating from home is the healthiest choice because we are in control of what goes in the food we cook. It should be a goal to eat from home most of the time. But the reality is, that probably won’t happen every day. Then, when we do eat out we often we feel we are sabotaging our diet, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With a little thought and planning, eating out a couple times a week can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy while eating out.
- Order smaller portions. Sometimes ordering a la carte is a good choice.
- Make half your plate vegetables and fruit. They are lower in calories and have filling fiber to help you stay full longer.
- Choose healthier cooking options – ask for grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed.
- Don’t starve yourself before going to dinner. You can’t save calories, because you will overeat and make unhealthy choices when you are very hungry.
- Watch the calories in your drinks. Whether it’s soda, sweet tea, juice or alcoholic beverages – the calories can add up quickly. Stick to water most of the time.
- Plan ahead and check the menu online. Most restaurants (especially fast food) have the nutrition information on their website. Check for healthy food options.
- Take home leftovers. You do not have to be part of the “clean plate club”.
Remember, if you are going out for a special occasion, like a birthday, it is ok to overlook the tips. Enjoy yourself on that ONE day. Then get back to healthy eating!