No Excuses (Guest Post)

I’m excited to announce our first guest poster.  She currently writes from CT but has strong roots in Chicago.  She has had ups and downs in her struggle with weight after having children and dealing with challenges in life and family.  She is both an inspiration to me and my best friend.  If you enjoy her article please share!

I was a master at making up reason to not work out.  I didn’t want to miss that show, or I was too tired after a 9-hour work day, or there is just not enough time in the day.

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I went to therapy.  I had no idea those few months in therapy would reshape the way I look at exercise.

Instead of focusing on physical results, he had me log my emotions before and after a 20 minute walk.  20 minutes was totally doable; it was such a short time that I could still catch the end of Castle on TV.  So, I walked the block a few times.  I felt noticeably better after each walk and soon felt I could not go a day without it.  It gave me the “me time” I was missing so much without making me feel as though I was missing out on my life.

Those 20 minutes have grown over time to at least an hour a day, and the intensity has increased.  Exercising has improved my mood so much that it has enriched the time I spend with my family.  The weight loss has become a nice side-effect rather than being the center of focus.  It took the pressure off and I am now able to enjoy exercise.

Here are some great moments during the day to just take a few minutes to improve your mindset:

  • Have Daddy bathe the kiddos and take a quick walk in the meantime
  • Park as far as possible from the entrance to your job, the grocery store, etc. and speed walk to and from
  • Do squats at your desk every time you are put on hold
  • Turn on music while cooking dinner and dance-cook
  • When you have to run upstairs for something, double the trip

Little bits can add up to big results!

 

– Kate Milde, Contributing Writer

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7 Tips For a Faster Metabolism

A healthy Metabolism is essential to losing weight and maintaining your weight loss.  This holds especially true as we age.  Unfortunately the older we get the slower our metabolism also gets.  This makes it even more challenging to take off and keep off those unnecessary pounds.  It’s not even just age that causes these dramatic shifts in metabolic speed. There are many external factors that put a kink in our process like activity level, weight, and genetics.  However there are a few things we can do to help speed up and support function of our metabolism.

Here are seven helpful tips on speeding up your Metabolism for you to try:

1. Eat regularly – the key here is eating on a consistent basis.  The longer there is between eating meals the more your body levels (blood sugar….etc) start to tank.  This results not only in that ravaged: “I’m starving! Get me anything including that candy bar or cheeseburger” but it also affects the speed of your metabolism.  You need to continue to eat small meals throughout the day to keep your body in sync. Yes one time’s not going to rock the boat but doing this day after day will slow you down.

2. Eat breakfast – I know you’ve heard the whole “break the fast” = breakfast comparison so why are you still not eating breakfast?  You’ve just slept for 8 hours and you haven’t eaten anything for the past 12 hours.  This is why breakfast is so important, as it fuels you for your day and is essential to having a healthy metabolism.

3. Be Active -Upping activity level will help your body use calories as fuel.  With the addition of interval training this helps spike your heart rate and resistance levels, helping the body to burn even more calories and upping your metabolism.

4. Spice it up – Pour on the Sriracha sauce!  Consuming spicy foods has been shown to elevate your metabolism a short while after consuming them.

5. Strength Train – your body burns more calories when there is more muscles and runs more efficiently.  Add in some weight training into your gym routine to reap these benefits.

6. Get More Sleep – How many hours of sleep are you getting each night?  Giving your body fair amount of time to rest 6-8 hours daily will help your body run and burn at top efficiency levels.

7. Drink more water – According to Active.com a German study found that those that consumed 6 glasses of cold water a day burned 50 more calories a day!  After a years time that can add up to as much as 5 lbs lost.

Written by Kimberly Evans Kimberly Evans

Winter Squash Recipes: Stuffed Acorn Squash

Welcome to the second installment of winter squash recipes! In case you hadn’t the chance to read last week’s article, I featured spaghetti squash and its excellent using as a substitute for spaghetti.  This post however is all around the acorn squash.  Ever tried cooking one of these?  Me either, that is until earlier this week.  I came across a recipe for Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash in Fitness magazine and realized I had all of the ingredients except the acorn squash.  As a squash lover this piqued my interest as I had never tried it before and was curious how it would taste.  So this past weekend I went back to my local grocery store and purchased one.  For any of you who have not seen an acorn squash before it looks like a mini pumpkin except it’s generally green in color.  I did see a few organic acorn squash which were a golden color similar to spaghetti squash but shaped different.

Below are all the ingredients you need to create the dish.  I will tell you I am a sucker for smoked gouda.  In fact it competes for the top spot of my cheese list with white cheddar for being my favorite.  If you like that rich, smoky flavor too here’s a great healthy recipe incorporating just enough to wrap up the flavor of this majorly tasty dinner without sabotaging a days worth of calories:

Ingredients Needed – acorn squash (1-2), low sodium chicken broth, quinoa, sesame or olive oil, ground turkey/fresh turkey or chicken sausage, cumin, red bell pepper, coarse salt, garlic, red onion, ground ginger, and some shredded gouda (smoked is my preference).

Have all these?  Click here for the recipe.  Below is what mine turned out like:

healthy recipe

stuffed acorn squash

Winter Squash Recipes: Spaghetti Squash

This year  have found a new obsession with winter squashes: butternut, spaghetti, acorn… you name it I’ll eat it.   I wanted to create a series of posts for you to enjoy with alternative options/recipes using winter squashes that you may have not tried or even known about before.  This post is dedicated to the first squash of the three: Spaghetti.

Thanks to a recommendation of a coworker, I have unlocked the secret to healthy pasta dishes without having to chomp down on stinky, literally squeaky alternatives like shirtaki noodles.  The answer my friends is spaghetti squash!  Have you ever seen one?  Do you even know where to find one?  Took me a bit of investigating and i did find that not all grocery stores had these so don’t get discouraged if you can’t find one either.  I have found them at Jewel and a local grocery store but have not been as lucky at larger chains like Target, Walmart, or even Whole Foods.  They are bright yellow (similar to yellow zucchini squash in color) but shaped round like a pumpkin.  I get them at my local Jewel in which they are placed by the other squashes in a unchilled area of the produce section next to the potatoes and onions.

Once purchased spaghetti squash is really easy to cook.  For those with less patience for cooking like myself, the squash can be microwaved!  For prep you just need to be sure to poke holes into its sides exactly like you would when cooking a potato. Pop the squash in the microwave on a paper plate for 8-10 minutes and voila it’s done!  if you have time or prefer to cook it in the oven it will take you approximately 45 minutes and the directions for prep are much different (see the squash’s label for details).  Now that you’ve fully cooked your squash you are ready to shred the insides and dress it up!

alt= "spaghetti squash HoneyCrunched recipe"

Spaghetti Squash freshly shredded

Below is just one of the many recipes you can make with spaghetti squash:

Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash:

1. Cook squash in microwave/oven until tender

2. Cut in half and scoop out all of the seeds

3. Take a fork and scrape the insides of the squash until you reach the rind

4.  Mix in 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pesto dry seasoning

5. Mix in chicken sausage or grilled chicken, chickpeas, parmesan cheese, spinach, red peppers and anything else to dress it up (in this recipe i added leftover ingredients from my fridge: chickpeas, mushrooms, and black olives)

6. Season with salt, pepper, garlic to taste and that’s it!

True it is a little more crunchy in texture than pasta, but you can’t expect it to be a perfect match since it’s not actual pasta anyways.  Plus it’s a vegetable so it’s packed with nutrients!

alt = "pesto chicken spaghetti squash recipe"

All About Oil: Cooking, Eating, Baking

Oil3

cooking oil’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have all heard the health advocates toggle back and forth between which is the healthiest oil, which oil is full of trans fat…blah, blah, blah. However let’s be frank, do you know the difference between canola, vegetable, and coconut oil? How about olive oil and its “fantastic” health benefits? Are all olive oils equal? What about the coconut oil craze? Should I jump in it too? Relax.  Take a deep breath, we’re in this confusing puzzle together. Luckily, I came across an informative article from FitSugar with a solid breakdown of the oils for better or worse.  Perhaps after reading this a few of those missing puzzle pieces will fall into place giving you a clearer picture of which to use next time you’re making a stir fry or chocolate cake.

All About Oil: Choosing the Healthiest Cooking Option – http://pulse.me/s/iXbgc

Which type of oil do you prefer? Anything you’d change after reading this? Let us know!