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
Happy New Year! Many of us have started making our New Year’s resolutions or at least thinking about some changes we want to make in 2018. One popular goal this time of year is to start eating healthy. This is a great goal, however what does eating “healthy” mean? Depending on preferences, culture, traditions and budget, we all have our own eating style. So everyone’s definition of healthy varies greatly, even among dietitians. For one person, eating healthy means eating home cooked meals instead of eating out every day. Another person may think eating healthy means eating vegetarian. I think a better goal is to starting eating “healthier“. There is room for improvement in everyone’s diet, and making a few small changes to your current eating style can make a big difference in your overall health.
Trying to overhaul your diet typically doesn’t work and often causes stress and anxiety. Instead, embrace who you are and how you eat. Then consider these tips to making healthier, long term changes that won’t be overwhelming.
- Don’t give up favorite foods. If you are too strict and tell yourself you can never have a cookie, you will obsess about the cookie. This usually leads to overeating at some point because you are not satisfied. Instead, eat your favorite foods in smaller quantities and less often.
- Have a plan. Whether you are eating at home or eating out, try to balance your meals. Eat lots of vegetables, always have some protein and watch the amount of carbs you eat at each meal. Instead of fries or a loaded baked potato at a restaurant, ask for a salad or apple slices. Here are some more ideas from the USDA’s MyPlate MyWins! website: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/make-small-changes
- Don’t eat boring food. A common complaint I hear from my patients is they are sick of eating the same “diet” foods every day. My response is always, “then don’t!” Healthy food doesn’t mean tasteless, dried out chicken breast and steamed plain vegetables every day. Vary up your protein sources – pork tenderloin, lean ground beef, beans and eggs are examples of nutritious sources of protein. Roast, saute or use a crockpot to vary how your meats are cooked. Steamed vegetables, especially microwavable bags are quick and easy, but that’s not the only way to cook vegetables. Try roasting them in a hot oven drizzled with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings, this is my favorite way to eat my veggies!
- Win 5 out of 7 days. It is ok to splurge once in a while, just not daily. Try to eat healthy during the week and maybe indulge a little on the weekends. Planning for it also helps with spiraling out of control or feeling you “blew your diet” and give up.
Try this delicious one-pan recipe that is easy, healthy and full of flavor:
Delicious One-Pan Pork and Vegetables
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 8 small new red potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
- 1 cup baby carrots
- 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped ( or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 boneless pork loin chops (4 oz each)
- Heat oven to 425o F. Spray cookie sheet pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (and garlic powder, if using).
- In a large bowl, mix potatoes, carrots, broccoli, onion and garlic (if using). Sprinkle with oil and half of herb mixture; toss to coat evenly. Place in center of pan.
- Bake 25 minutes; stir vegetables. Sprinkle remaining herb mixture over pork chops. Place pork chops around vegetables. Bake 10-15 minutes or until pork reads 145o F, and vegetables are tender.
Nutrition Information per Serving
310 Calories 23g Carbohydrates
4g Fiber 28g Protein
The biggest take-away from all of this is to set realistic goals for yourself. Remember, there is not one right way to get healthy. Small changes to your diet can bring big changes to your health.
Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2018 for all!
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
For more great health tips, visit our website at https://figureweightloss.com/category/weight-loss
As we move into colder, gloomier weather, I thought I would try to bring a ray of sunshine to my post. Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body makes vitamin D from exposure to the sun. However, as many as 90% of adults in the United States are vitamin D deficient. You have a great chance for D deficiency if you spend most of your time indoors, wear sunscreen when outdoors, live in northern regions, are overweight and/or aging. Most of us fall into at least one of these categories. This means people are supplementing with vitamin D more now than ever. So I thought I would give some guidance around Vitamin D deficiency, the risks, symptoms, sources of Vitamin D, and supplementation.
Why is vitamin D important? Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and fatty tissue in the body. D helps with calcium absorption and it affects skeletal structure, blood pressure, immunity, mood, sleep, brain function and helps protect against some cancers. As you can see, it is a pretty important vitamin.
The symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency are non-specific and can be subtle, often getting overlooked as the cause. Here are the most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
- Getting sick or infections often
- Feeling fatigued and tired
- Bone and back pain
- Slow wound healing
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
These symptoms can be due to many other things too, but having vitamin D blood levels checked by your doctor is a simple way to rule a deficiency out.
There are other ways besides the sun to get more of this important vitamin. It is found naturally in small amounts in some foods. The best sources are fatty fish (such as halibut, salmon, swordfish, sardines), egg yolk, cod liver oil and raw milk. It is fortified in pasteurized milk, some milk alternatives and cereal. Supplementing with vitamin D supplements may be necessary to get enough.
Vitamin D supplements come in two forms, D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D3 is much better absorbed and beneficial, so choose D3 when possible.
If you suspect a deficiency, it is important to see your doctor. They can draw blood to determine your level and prescribe a supplement if necessary. Optimally, you want your level to be between 50-70ng/mL. Talk with your doctor about how much to take. The RDA is 600 IU per day for adults, but most doctors consider that too low and recommend 2000 IU per day. If you are overweight, it may take more to get your levels up. Since D is stored in fat, if you have excess fat, the body tends to store more and it can difficult to access the D stored. Also, since vitamin D is fat soluble, make sure you take vitamin D supplements with food that has some fat in it, your body will absorb it better.
Vitamin D plays many vital roles in our well-being. I recommend everyone have their D levels checked. It is simple and easy to make changes to your lifestyle, diet, and supplementing if needed to replenish this important vitamin.
Here’s a delicious and simple salmon recipe that will help you get some vitamin D and heart-healthy fats.
Baked Dijon Salmon
- 4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
- 3 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup butter, melted or olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil.
- Place salmon skin-side down on foil. Spread a thin layer of mustard on the top of each fillet, and season with salt and pepper. Top with bread crumbs, then drizzle with melted butter.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
Amount per serving (4 total)
- Calories: 331 kcal
- Fat: 21.5 g
- Carbs: 7.5g
- Protein: 25 g
For more healthy tips, visit our website at https://figureweightloss.com/category/weight-loss
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
Visit our website for more healthy tips at
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!
We all have a favorite comfort food – whether it be macaroni and cheese or chocolate, that we crave, either because it reminds us of our childhood or because we had a bad day. Indulging in these high calorie foods once in a while is fine, but if overeating becomes a daily event because of stress or sadness, it could contribute to weight gain or be a sign of an eating disorder.
Emotional eating is not a type of eating disorder, but is a common trait of those who have eating disorders – especially those who have binge eating disorder or night eating syndrome.
If you do eat for comfort, there are lots of things you can do to break the habit. One of the most important steps is being aware you are doing this. Here are four goals to help you break the habit:
- Track your feelings and what you do during stressful times – being aware is key to change.
- Know your triggers that lead to overeating or making poor foodchoices.
- Find ways to cope without food – go for a walk or call a friend, etc.
- Learn ways to de-stress – exercise, meditate or massage.
Practice these goals and over time you should see a difference. If these tips don’t help, it may be time to seek professional help.
The crisp weather and beautiful foliage this time of year just begs us to get outside and be active.
There are a lot of options during the fall season to stay busy and enjoy the beautiful weather. Here are a list of things you can find in your area to do this autumn:
- Walk through a pumpkin patch or corn maze
- Go apple picking
- Have fun a fall festival or haunted house
- Take a hike or walk through your favorite park
- Collect colorful leaves or pine cones to do arts and craft or just display
- Participate in or cheer at a marathon or 5K. Here is a link to find one in your area: http://www.runningintheusa.com/Race/Default.aspx
- Fly a kite
- Yard work – plant bulbs for spring or rake and jump in a leaf pile!
Try this baked apple recipe – delicious and healthy way to use those apples you picked!
Easy Delicious Baked Apples (Serves 4)
- 2 large apples
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees
- Cut the apples in half. Remove the core and seeds with a small spoon or knife. Place the apples in an ovenproof baking dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon this mixture into the centers of your apple halves. Pour water into the baking dish.
- Bake apples for 40-45 minutes, or until apples are tender.
- Serve warm. May serve with plain or vanilla yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.
116 Calories 23g Carbohydrates
3g Fiber 1g Protein
Changing habits are hard! No matter what your New Year’s resolutions may be, statistically speaking, you probably won’t achieve it. I don’t mean to be downer, but only 8% of people are successful with their New Year’s Resolutions. Since losing weight is the top pick every year, let’s figure out a way to beat the odds!
- Break down your goal into simple, monthly steps. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight” as your goal, make your first goal to change something in your diet for the better. Maybe that’s decreasing the amount of soda you drink from 5 a day to 1 a day or if you eat out a lot , your goal is to cook at home 4 days a week.
- Make your goals realistic. You want to make changes you can stick with for a lifetime. Cutting out something that you love, like dessert, probably won’t last forever. Instead of cutting it out completely, just modify it to be healthier, such as only having dessert 1-2 times a week.
- Just start! Often getting started is the hardest part. We can make excuses as to it not being a good time, but life usually doesn’t slow down, so just start. Once you take action toward your goal, the momentum starts and you are more likely to continue toward your goal.
- Accountability. Find someone or something to help keep you accountable. If there is a family member or co-worker that has similar goals, try working together to reach your goals. They could be your work out buddy or lunch buddy, or maybe you just touch base on the phone weekly to see how each other is doing and keep each other motivated. If you don’t have someone, use an app, website or journal that you can input your goals and it will help you see your progress.
The USDA is launching a new program on 12/28/16, called My Plate, My Wins! You can go to their website at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins for tips and tools to help make small, practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.
Wishing you health and happiness in 2017!
‘Tis the season to overindulge! Let’s break the cycle this year. Enjoying the holidays doesn’t mean all rules go out the window for the month of December. One day of indulgence is fine, just not a whole month. Here are some tips to help you avoid the common holiday weight gain:
- Keep holiday candy and cookies in a cupboard or pantry. Out of site, out of mind (hopefully). Leaving goodies on the counter makes it tempting to eat a little every time you walk by, before you know it the bowl is empty.
- Focus on protein foods. Protein will help you feel full and satisfied longer.
- Don’t save up your calories by skipping meals. This never works. Eat a high protein, lower carb breakfast and lunch before the holiday party. This will help you from overindulging.
- Share. Give away or share holiday treats given to you. Also, give away leftovers to family and friends or freeze them for a later time.
- Bring a high protein, healthy appetizer to the party. This way you know you have at least one healthy alternative to all the high calorie, high carb foods. Here are some appetizer ideas to bring to the party:
- Deviled Eggs
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Mini Meatballs with Marinara
- Hummus with vegetables
- Prosciutto wrapped asparagus or cantaloupe
- Dips made with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise
- Crispy Chickpeas (recipe below)
Rinse and drain 2 cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Spread on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Dry well, remove towels and let sit out for about an hour to thoroughly dry. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat evenly with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and seasonings of choice (ex: garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, curry powder, rosemary). Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn oven off and leave chickpeas in oven for an hour to get crispy. Store in airtight container for 3-4 days. 4 servings. 236 calories, 9g protein, 20g carbs, 8g fiber.
Wishing a happy and healthy holiday season to all!