The Secret to Gorgeous Abs

 Ever heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”?  Well it’s true, seriously!  Abdominal definition goes beyond doing a billion crunches or even just “eating healthy”.   Don’t get me wrong your abs and body very much do need at LEAST the minimum amount of daily/weekly activity recommended BUT the biggest change you can make when you are not working out is in your diet way of life.
 healthy foods
Photo via Flickr by Aria Ziai
It’s not about the amount of food you eat (within reason of course).  Nor is it about starving yourself with just smoothies or salads to reach your target weight.  Do you have a plan for after you hit that number?  How will you sustain?  This is how the vicious cycle of lose some, gain more is achieved.  To really make a difference you need to create a workable way of life that you will stick with long after bikini season comes to a close.
One of the biggest areas of impact you can have in the kitchen is the quality of food going in your mouth.  Don’t be shy, raise your hands… how many of you look at labels for the items you buy BEFORE you buy them?  That’s what I thought… the fact is most people don’t nor do they know when they do what they are looking for.  Below are just a few basic guidelines to help you avoid those bloating, artificial junk foods that call your name loudly when you are perusing the grocery aisles at your  local Target or Mariano’s etc:
Mantra in life and while grocery shopping: I have standards!
Rule 1. If it has more than 5 ingredients do NOT buy it
Rule 2. if the first 3 ingredients aren’t even related to what the items it’s a big NO (ex tomato sauce should not have #1 ingredient sugar it should be tomato, water, salt that’s about it maybe some seasoning).
Rule 3. NO yellow #5 (aka Kraft mac and cheese… switch to Annie’s brand or another alternative).  Yes may cost your family $.15 more sense but the health benefits outweigh that price.  Simple put, yellow #5 is crap and it’s been known to cause hyperactivity in children.  Yellow #5 is even in goldfish!  So not kid friendly…
Rule 4. Corn syrup, palm oil, high fructose corn syrup -is you see these ingredients ditch it they are just garbage.
Rule 5. enriched white enriched wheat enriched anything NO (this one is least of all but is a reason for belly bloat).  I think this is the hardest one as it’s really in everything.
Look for cane sugar, honey, agave as sweeteners. Corn is good too so cornmeal, corn chips, tortillas if corn not flour all good.  All natural ingredients skip the sugary enriched crap.  Lots of veggies quinoa, brown rice, lots of protein but not modified protein.
Here’s some of my favorite brands you can go to as alternatives to what you are using today:
  • Ezekiel bread products
  • Amy’s Brand
  • Annie’s
  • Rudi’s
  • Skinny Pop or Angie’s
  • Skinny Sticks (great flavors)
  • Trader Joe lentil chips…yum. Actually trader joe is a fantastic inexpensive way to eat healthy on a reasonable budget.
  • Applegate
  • Boar’s Head Natural
  • Most Kashi
  • Honest

 

These are just a few of the brands I like.  Some of your favorite brands can be still enjoyable as a lot of these companies do have less evil alternatives to the foods you love it just takes quick research in the aisle initially.  Once you find your favorites it should be easy weekly just to pick these up and add into the mix.  You and your family’s health is worth it!

 

By Kimberly Hale

 

4 Spring Cleaning Tips

Late Spring cleaning

The first day of spring is just a few days away.  That glorious season where windows can once again be open and fresh air can bask any room giving it a clean feeling.  Spring is also a season for new growth and beginnings.  It’s an awesome time for renewal and rejuvenation of things once left behind.

Spring also denotes the perfect time of year to rekindle those new years resolutions we may have let slip over the past few months (ahem… comfort foods in lieu of the not so comforting temperatures of winter).

Here are 4 great tips on spring cleaning your life, sure to get you pointed back in the right direction.

  1. Open some windows – letting the breeze in your home not only re-humidifies the excessively dry air that’s been circulating from your ever on furnace.   Additionally air flow is fantastic in reviving feng shui and stability within not only your house but your life.
  2. Get outside – the weather is clearing up and the days are beginning to stay lighter longer.  What better opportunity to get out for that run, jog, walk that was once your new years resolution.  Need some motivation?  Sign up for a run/walk or 5K going on this year.  What better motivation then knowing you have a goal to work toward.
  3. Eat more greens – The cold of winter air is fading as is dreading cold meals like salads and fruit. Say bu-bye comfort foods and hello to making fabulous salads and fruit combos stocked with fresh ingredients.  Set your next few months up for success by planting a few staple vegetables in a garden or container box.  Once that kale or spring beans or squash begin to grow you’ll be able to reap benefits of fresh healthy food all summer/fall long.
  4. Clean your house – Dust bunnies get out!  Spring is the perfect motivation to deep clean those not so clean areas in our homes (aka windows, dusty shelves, salted kitchen floors and entryways).  Not only will your house be gorgeous once again but you’ll also burn a ton of calories in the cleaning process!  So scrub, scrub away!

These are just four  of the many easy ways to incorporate health into the new approaching season.  What other ways or goals do you set for yourself as Spring approaches?  Share with us!

Written  by: Kimberly Hale

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5 Fun Health Facts for those “Off Days”

We all know exercising regularly and eating well are the best tools in preventing illness. We have also had the days when we just don’t want to work out and those days when we can’t stand to eat another salad. I’ve collected a few ideas that should help you on those “off” days; they work for me!

Pizza

  1. Did you know that Laughing out loud reduces cortisol levels and improves your bone density?? Finding more reasons to laugh seems doable.
  2. The word ‘gymnasium’ comes from the Greek word “gymnazein”, which literally means “to exercise naked.” Sounds fun to me.  
  3. A study done by American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition states that eating a bowl of  ice cream two hours after a workout triggers your insulin, which is a hormone that is essential in the muscle building process. Helping my muscles, one scoop at a time…
  4. An Italian research team found out in 2003 that people who ate pizza on the regular were far less likely to develop esophageal, colon and mouth cancer. Check and check.
  5. Interval workouts produce post-workout calorie burn, and increase mitochondria growth (mitochondria help to burn fat). So, even while you enjoy your post-interval-workout sit on your couch, you’re burning calories. 

My takeaway here is: interval training then pizza, ice cream and laughter. Who’s with me??

Contributing Writer, HoneyCrunched Kate Milde

 

 

Source: Crazy Health Facts, Huffington Posthttp://thegymlifestyle.com/10-shocking-fitness-facts/; http://www.fitness.com/articles/648/15_amazing_health_facts_you_may_just_not_know.php

What Does Your Body Shape Say About You?

Written by Kimberly Hale

Four body shapes of females.

Four body shapes of females. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Body type can play a huge role in maintaining a healthy life and healthy weight.  Do you know if you are apple or pear shaped? How about Banana bodied or the envied Hourglass?   Knowing this information can give us a lot of insight into what types of nutrition and exercise our body needs to perform at its best and it also tells us how our bodies are “pre-programmed” to distribute fat.

Below will help you figure out your body type as well as the health risks.  I’ve also included overall nutrition and fitness recommendations to perform at your best. Because I’m queen of workout dvd’s I also included recommendations for anyone looking something new to try within their body type.  All are great for anyone though…

Apple Shaped:   Broad shoulders, small hips, and a thicker waist- athletic builds fall into this category too.  This shape has to be particularly careful due to how they store fat.  This puts them automatically at a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.

  • Nutrition Tips: Eating a well balanced diet is key.  Try and avoiding large amounts of carbs, saturated fat, and sugar.  These three items are huge contributors in fat storage and reducing consumption is advised.
  • Exercise Tips:  cardio and interval training will do the trick here.  Strengthening your core with planks is excellent too.  Just remember, fat cannot be spot treated, solely focusing on crunches or planks will give you rock solid abs hidden under a layer of stomach fat!  You have to remove that layer if you want to see results. (DVD Recommendation: Jillian Michaels 6 Week 6 pack or Killer Abs)

Pear Shaped – Those having a pear shape tend to store all their fat around the hips, butt, and thighs (Heelloooo Kim Kardashian!). 

  • Nutrition Tips:  This body type has an increased challenge with their metabolic rates.  An overall healthy diet is the key to success here as well as eating those foods that keep your metabolism going and strong.  Try eating smaller portions and more frequently throughout the day.  This will keep you full and your metabolism firing.
  • Exercise Tips:  Aside from a healthy exercise routine, lunges and kicks can be your best friend.  Focus on exercise to build muscle and reduce fat on your hips, thighs, and butt.  (DVD recommendations: Jeanette Jenkins kickboxing dvd, or Bob Harper’s Ultimate Cardio Body)

Banana Shaped – These bodies are long and lean with no distinct differences in waist, bust, or hip ratios.

  • Nutrition Tips:  Eating a high protein filled diet will help with building muscle definition that this body type is so often challenged with.
  • Exercise Tips:  Because this body type is so long and lean, one of the biggest challenges they face is building muscle tone. Working on toning, building muscles in the legs, arms, and back should help overall strengthen this figure.  (DVD recommendations: Pure Barre dvd’s,  Jackie Warner’s Power Circuit Training)


Hourglass Shaped
 –  big shoulders/bust, big hips, and a tiny waist.  (Think Marilyn Monroe)

  • Nutrition Tips:  Eating a well balanced diet is the best recommendation here.  Hourglass shapes can also follow recommendations for pear shaped as they both share in common larger hips compared to banana or apple shapes.
  • Exercise Tips:  further defining shoulders and legs would be a great suggestion here and paying attention to toning tummies/back muscles to further highlight that so coveted hourglass.   (DVD recommendations: Bob Harper’s Yoga Meltdown, The Firm’s Get Chisled.)

These are just a few suggestions/recommendations for the different body types.  Did you find your type?  Once you know your body type you can further customize how to approach nutrition and fitness so that you can maintain your best form.  I’ve tried to just give you a guideline and insight into how much of a customizable nutrition/fitness program you can make to target specifically what your body needs.  Afterall there is no “one size fits all”.  What shape are you?  What is or isn’t working for you?  Let us know!

Sources:

Sugar, America’s own worst enemy

Sugar…it’s in everything.  It’s even in foods you would never expect to find it in.  It’s also one of the reason so many people are overweight or obese. Studies have shown that overweight people are likely to spend 37% more a year at the pharmacy. As if money isn’t tight enough in our economy already…

Unfortunately right now there is no regulated daily value to go off of for sugar like there is with calories, fat,  or cholesterol so how much really is too much?  Did you know one 12oz glass of pop has a killer 42-50 grams of sugar?  Holy sugar high!  Now consider how many fast food places you see with people drinking ginormous cups of this stuff.  No wonder New York put a cap on serving huge sized pops…  maybe the rest of America should take the hint.

Sugar is attributed to weight gain, rotting your teeth, and stunting any effort for weight loss you may be trying to do.  Washington Post released an article a few days ago regarding sugar being a “toxin” to our bodies.  Something so heavily available to be categorized the same as your bottle of liquid drano!  But, by no means are artificial sweeteners the easy way out.  They are starting to uncover that articial sweeteners can be just as bad.  From what we know, the body treats these devils in disguise same as sugar but heightened ten fold.  They have even been attributed to tricking people into weight gain!  Where is the relief?

Well you might think there’s a simple solution to that,  just rid sugar from your diet.  HA!  I dare you to go ahead and try.  Over 80% of foods in the market have added sugars like “high fructose corn syrup”.  Really very few items you’ll find at the store are completely sugar free (real or fake sugar).   Suppose you find a handful of these gold mines, do you really feel you could exist on those and those alone?  Or at this point would your body shut down?  Here’s an awesome video I found on you tube that I think best addresses the sugar issue and brings to light a great solution.  Watch this video and let me know what you think.  Keep in mind, brands will only make what we buy.  Do yourselves and your children a favor and pitch the garbage.

Calories: Uncoding the label

Shifty serving sizes

Welcome to installment two of our nutrition labels uncoded.  Last segment we learned that the biggest active factor we can have on our health is to heed serving sizes.  Now, not all serving sizes are equal.  Something Americans in particular are poor at doing no thanks to restaurants which almost always give you more than one serving.  However serving size is by far only one of a handful of ingredients to check when determining if a product is worth your time.

I recently took a course through Vanderbilt University online for nutrition.  Throughout the 8 weeks we learned a lot about the state of the world when it comes to health.  We spent a good chunk of time weeding through labels and really getting to learn what a term means, why it’s there, how it’s there and most importantly how it impacts us.  Using the priceless knowledge I gained from that class i hope to provide great information to you to help you make better choices in the food aisles.  After all, they can be quite daunting.

This week is all about calories, a topic I could go on and on about because there’s so many added layers of complexity to it.  Calories fall at the top of the nutrition label and sitting right next to them are “calories from fat”.   Too high daily intake of calories from fat is what can lead to weight gain and up your chances for cancers/heart issues.   But if you are eating the right types of calories chances are the calories from fat will also reflect that.

We all need calories, aka energy, to make our bodies run.  A lot of people think that “calories are bad” or “calories make you fat”.  But that’s not true.  Yes they can definitely make you fat, however if you’re getting your calories from the right types of foods,  we won’t be in that type of situation right?  It’s really large amounts over time of garbage calories that get us in trouble (fries, bacon, cheese, white bread, candy, pizza, butter, fatty meats, etc.)

So how many calories do we need a day?  The basis for the daily values is out of 2,000 calories.  However for less active people that’s just too much and for really active folks too little.  There are many calculators out there that help estimate how many calories you need a day, but the reality is none of them are going to nail it to a tee.  There are way too many factors like height, sex, age, body type, exercise, amount of exercise, type of exercise, condition of body (more muscular will burn more than someone the same age and size that carries more fat).  So you’re going to have to be realistic and estimate.  However DO NOT, I repeat do not put yourself below 1200 calories a day  unless it is doctors orders.  Your body needs calories to keep your metabolism kicking.  If you eat too little calories your body freaks out and thinks it’s starving.  In turn even the right calories can be used against you.  Your body starts to go into “starvation” mode and clings to the calories you are giving it for dear life.  So not only are you storing fat at this point your squashing your metabolism.  Not good.

Here’s a good starting place to help you figure out your needs.  Ask yourself if you are happy with your current weight, looking to lose weight or looking to gain.  From there spend about a week eating as you do but writing down the calories (yes factor in serving sizes!) that you are eating daily.  This will give you a baseline to see how many calories you’ve been at.  Now let’s look at the goal.  Stay the same weight?  Great! you know how much to eat now see if you can tweak how you are allocating those calories and squeeze in a few healthier choices overall.  Trying to lose weight?  Roughly 3500 calories make up a pound, so drop 300-500 calories daily from what you eat (not going below 1,200)  or start adding in additional forms of exercise daily and you should start seeing results.  Looking to gain weight?  Add 200-500 calories to your diet and load up on good stuff like protein, the right fats, etc.

To give you an example, here’s what I’ve found works best for me at this point in my early 30’s.  I’m 5’4″ and eat approximately 1500-1800 calories a day depending on the day/mood/hunger level.   I also live a fairly active lifestyle with hitting around 10,000 steps a day everyday.  One thing I’ve found has helped me reduce my weight post baby and stay at that new weight for a 4 years now was sticking to that routine.  I also literally eat all day long: breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, dinner and yes I squeeze in dessert!  Also, 90-95% of my day is really healthy foods like oatmeal, greek yogurt, fruit, lots of veggies.   I do cave 1-2 meals out of the week and indulge in pizza or something worth it.   And this works for me.

So I hope I’ve helped educate you on calories in this article and using this information I suggest you try to map out your target daily calories.  let me know if you have any questions, need more information or have any advice for me?  I don’t believe anyone has a 100% fool-proof plan and can always take additional tips and tricks.

Have a great plan in place already?  Great!  Tell us about it so we can learn from you too.

Uncoding Nutrition Labels

nutrition label You have seen them before.  You know those big rectangles on packaging with a bunch of words and numbers. How many of you, however know what they mean?

The labeling on the packages is filled with items that are in the food you are about to consume.  I wanted to use the next series of posts to dig a bit deeper into what all that mumbo jumbo really does mean.  These labels have been ignored and misunderstood by consumers for years yet they are one of the most important clues in keeping a healthy life and weight.

Other than the health claims that you see on the front of a package nothing is really required to be listed, unless trans fat is present.  A lot of companies choose to display some back of the package labeling and also show daily values (dv).  The Daily values tell you the percent of food the contributes to your diet for the day, bearing in mind that these are generic percents based off of a 2,000 calories daily allotment.  At the moment there are no DV‘s established for sugar or protein intake as suggested consumption.  As we dive further over the next few weeks we’ll uncover lots of useful information to help you make a more informed choice next time you are grocery shopping.  We’ll uncode even further those “reduces cholesterol” or “high fiber” claims we see all over the place.  Do they really fulfill all that they claim?

However, the biggest misunderstood item listed on a label, hands down, is serving size.  Do you look when your hands in a bag of doritos how many one 140 calorie serving us? It is literally like 7!  What you say? 7 stinking chips for 140 calories? One, who eats just 7 doritos? Two, I could have had string cheese and approximately 20 special k crackers or 20 cheese pizza goldfish for 140.  Makes you rethink what you are putting in your mouth and what type of satisfaction your getting out of it.   See where I am going with this?

Not all of our issues as a nation lie in no exercise or bad foods some of the real issues lie in serving size.  Before you prepare your next meal check the back of the label. What did you learn about serving sizes? We’re you as surprised as I was about doritos?  Next up… calories and fat and what they really mean on labeling and for your health.