Archive for the ‘Quick Tips’ Category

10 tips to lose 10 lbs

For some of us, when we start a diet or exercise program, we don’t have 50 pounds to lose. We aren’t morbidly obese or appallingly unhealthy; we’ve just realized that we put on a few extra pounds and we’re not as fit as we used to be. We’d like to make some small changes to shed those last 10 pounds without having to seriously disrupt our lives. For those of you out there like that, I thought I’d give you 10 easy tips to hopefully help you lose those last 10 lbs.

1. Watch out for salads. Just because chicken strips and ranch dressing are sitting on a bed of lettuce, doesn’t mean it’s health food. Even when you’re doing your best, salads can sneak in extra calories. Don’t put on much dressing, and watch out for too many dried fruits, which have a lot of sugar.

2. Avoid eating in front of the TV. Mindless eating is enemy number 1 for dieters and you almost always crave salty snacks while watching tv. Do your best to only eat at the kitchen table, but if you absolutely can’t kick the tv snacking habit, never bring the whole box with you! Always portion out a small amount of your snack a limit yourself to one portion.

3. Liquid calories still count. It’s hard to imagine that your orange juice could be bad for you, but fruit juices have a deceicingly high sugar content. You’re much better off just having an orange. Plus, liquid calories do very little to fill you up. That mocha frappacino may pack hundreds of calories, but you’ll still be hungry an hour later.

4. Women, you do not have the same caloric requirement as men. We can get in a lot of trouble when spend time with the opposite sex, because we tend to eat much more than we should. I know when I serve dinner at our house, it’s tough for me not to serve the same portions both to myself and Kevin. However, he weighs about 50 pounds more than I do, so we shouldn’t be eating the same amount.

5. Restaurants are sneaky. 99% of restaurants only have one goal in mind; to keep you coming back for more. They make their food as tasty as possible with little concern for your health. That means that even the most healthy sounding options can be high in calories. Almost all food is cooked in butter, even your grilled chicken breast and fresh veggies. Make sure you ask how your meal will be preparerd and bring your own condiments.

6. Take a walk after dinner. This is a great way to aid in digestion, increase your total caloric metabolism, and spend time with your significant other. You can burn another 100 calories if you walk 20 minutes and it may reduce your craving for dessert.

7. Pee often. This may sound strange, but if you have to use the restroom frequently during the day, that means that 1. you’re probably drinking enough water, and 2. it forces you not to be sedentary for long periods of time. (If you’re interested in the dangers of sitting, check out this previous blog.)

8. Use the farthest bathroom available. If you work in a building with multiple floors, walk up at least 2 flights of stairs to use the bathroom. Over the course of the day, you could burn an extra 150 calories. If you don’t have stairs, force yourself to at least walk up and down the hallways a few times.

9. Track your progess. Keep a food diary or use an app to track your food intake. (We reviewed MyFitness Pal) If you know exactly what you’re putting in your mouth, you can make some objective changes.

10. Brag about your success! Post your goals on the fridge to remind you to keep at it and treat yourself to a fun weekend away or a night out dancing once you’ve achieved your goal. You’ve earned it!

Do you have any tips for losing those last 10 lbs?

Let me know!


Could Spices Improve Your Weight Loss?

Call me old-fashioned, but I am always very wary of weight-loss supplements. From everything I’ve ever read, diet pills are either totally ineffective, or they have deadly side effects. Most of the time, the greatest effect you’ll get from a diet pill or weight loss supplement is an increase in heart rate from caffeine. However, there has been some exciting research lately about some natural herbs and spices that may aid in your weight control or even help reduce your diabetes. Keep in mind, these are not magic bullets and adding these spices probably won’t mean you’ll drop 20 pounds by tomorrow.


There have been several studies done on the effects on cinnamon, specifically looking at whether cinnamon can reduce your glucose and insulin response to a meal. (For more info on glycemic index, glucose and insulin, check out a past blog entry) In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding cinnamon to pudding significantly reduced the blood glucose of subjects as compared to eating pudding alone. This means that a meal with cinnamon won’t spike your glucose (and therefore insulin) as much as that meal would without the cinnamon. Other studies have also shown that cinnamon can reduce your fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Cayenne Chili

Keeping your meals spicy may also help reduce your glucose and insulin levels after a meal. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that adding cayenne chili powder to a meal reduced insulin levels as compared to that meal alone. Using fresh chili powder may also affect your metabolic rate (how fast you break down nutrients and burn calories). In a study in Thailand, women who added fresh chili pepper to their meal  not only reduced their blood glucose following the meal, but also increased their metabolic rate for 30 minutes after eating.



Curcumin, derived from tumeric, is an orange/yellow spice often found in Indian or Asian food, and has been a topic of interest because of its anti-inflammatory properties. There is some new, exciting research about curcumin’s ability to inhibit the fat storage process and reduce obesity. This study demonstrates that curcumin reduced the number of adipocytes (fat cells) that were produced and reduced Fatty Acid Synthase, which is an enzyme that stimulates the production of fatty acids. While this is exciting, do keep in mind that this research has not yet been done in humans, and the effects may not be dramatic.

While this type of research is still new, it’s a interesting way to think about your weight loss. Just by adding some spices, you could improve your blood glucose and potentially increase your metabolism. Plus, food that is spiced increases your olfactory response (meaning you enjoy the smell and taste) and you may find a meal more enjoyable. You may slow down your meal and realize you are full sooner, therefore decreasing your total calorie intake.

Have you ever experimented with spices? Do you think they could aid in weight loss?


Becoming a Grocery Store Guru

If you are like most Americans, you probably have a weekly trip to the grocery store. Maybe you make a list, have a specific route for shopping, or just wing it each time. You are also probably aware that the purchases you make each week are going to dictate your diet for the next 7 days, so it’s important to shop well.

Avoiding the traps:

Grocery stores sink millions of dollars into research in order to give you the desire to buy items that you never intended to purchase before you entered the store. Avoid buying anything from an end cap, the extra items they stick on the end of each aisle. These sections usually are selling cookies, chips or soda, and they’ll try to trick you with sales or buy one get one free.  Also don’t buy anything from a separate display in the center of an aisle. When have you ever seen spinach in the middle of the soda aisle?  I rest my case. Lastly there is nothing good to be had in the line at the register. Candy, soda and jerky are just a few of the empty calorie foods they push at you, so stick to what is on your list and already in your cart.

Navigating the store:

It was actually my mother in law who taught me this shopping trick; she told me one way to eat really healthy is to shop only on the perimeter of the grocery store. You can find bread, fruit, meat and veggies and avoid cookies, potato chips, soda, Oreo’s, candy. Also another trick to go along with this technique is avoiding foods that have to use a commercially applied UPC code. Buy your fruits and veggies loose or avoid the grocery store all together and go to a farmers market. Also, when buying produce, try to pick one from each color of the rainbow to maximize your dietary needs. Outside of the Brach’s candy, you can find some of the healthiest of foods in bulk including granola and oats and mixed dried fruits. Just check the nutrition facts first.

The nutrition facts:

Bottom line: if you care at all about your diet, you are going to have to read the nutrition facts. You may need upwards of an extra thirty minutes  of shopping time to stop and read the labels your first few times, so be prepared. Most people think that the calorie section is the most important; however this count is only based on serving size. They could sell you deep fried bacon and have the label read 10 calories if the serving size is that of a thimble, so pay attention to how many calories are in a serving size you typically eat. The label will let you know what percent of your recommended daily caloric intake is in each size, based on a typical 2,000 calorie diet. Next, we move on to fat.  There are many types some good (mono and poly-unsaturated), and some bad (saturated and trans).  You should know what you’re consuming and how much of it. Aim for no more than 25% of your daily fat intake to come from saturated or trans fats. Next is sodium.  The higher the sodium the more processed the food is.  A good rule of thumb is your food should have less sodium than calories. Last is sugar.  You know it’s bad for you because there is no % of daily value next to it meaning you don’t need any refined sugar! A good rule of thumb is try to keep the sugar 1g for every 10 calories. Now lower down on that label is the ingredient list.  It is truly hard but try to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup you consume, especially when it comes to bread.  You don’t really think of break having a large amount but they sneak it in there. Also try to avoid foods that have ingredients that you have to Google to know if it could be an animal, fruit, mineral or vegetable.  

Good luck this week with your shopping!


Avoiding the Holiday Weight Gain

It’s that time of year again! Time for cookies and candy, drinking and parties, and of course, time that we all start worrying about our weight. I know how hard it is to be worrying about your weight this time of year; you just want to enjoy the season and have fun at all the holiday parties, and the last thing you want to do is diet. To keep you sane through all the festivities, I thought I’d leave you a few diet tips. This way, you won’t have to count calories and only eat celery when you’re out celebrating and hopefully you can still maintain a healthy weight through the New Year!

  1. Never go to a party hungry! The food that is served at parties is almost always high in calories and low in protein and fiber, which means it will taste delicious and do nothing to fill you up. If you go hungry, you may be eating upwards of 1,500 calories before you feel full. Eat a healthy meal before you party, and then just sample all the delicious treats!
  2. Carry a clutch. Women, when you go to a party, carry a clutch instead of a purse with a shoulder strap. You’ll have your purse in one hand and a drink in another, which will make it very hard to go get a plate of food. You’ll be so busy having fun; you won’t realize you never went back for seconds.
  3. Drink champagne instead of wine. ‘Tis the season to be merry, and we wouldn’t want you to have to go all holiday without ever having a drink. If you swap your wine glass for a flute of champagne, you could save yourself 100 calories per drink. Multiply that over a week’s worth of drinks and you could save yourself several hundred calories without even noticing.
  4. Give away the treats you make. For most people, part of the holiday season is baking Christmas cookies or other holiday treats at home, and who ever just makes a dozen cookies? If you make a huge batch of Christmas goodies, do a good deed and give them away! It’s a great Christmas present for your neighbors, or your mailman, or you can even bring them to work and let your coworkers enjoy them.
  5. Put treats away. If you do keep some of your delicious cookies around the house, don’t leave them out where you can see them. Put them away in a pretty Christmas dish, and only take a few out when you intend to eat them. That way, you won’t be snacking on chocolate cake all day.
  6. Keep exercising. The very best defense against an increased calorie intake around the holiday season is to keep up your exercise routine. I know it gets cold and dark outside and we let our daily workout slip, but if you can find ways to keep up your daily calorie burn, you can do wonders for your waistline. If you need ideas about how to enjoy to winter weather and burn a few extra calories, see our previous post!

Do you all have any other tips for avoiding holiday weight gain? Let me know if any of these work for you!


Burning Calories in the Cold

Since Kevin and I moved to South Texas this August, we have experienced absolutely no cold weather. It was 85 degrees for most of November and I had completely forgotten that I was almost winter! However, I’m sure most of you are not so fortunate (or unfortunate, I suppose) to live in perpetual summer and are now dealing with the cold, dark winter. To uplift your spirits a bit, I put together a list of a few ways you can go outside and enjoy the freezing cold weather. Plus, spending time outside increases your absorption of vitamin D, and the natural sunlight can help stave off seasonal affective disorder (a form of mild to moderate depression that occurs in the winter months). Spending time outdoors is also a great way to have some fun with your significant other, or family and friends.

So, here are some fun, calorie burning activities to do in the winter!

1. Sledding. Not just for the kids! Kevin and I had a fabulous time sledding last winter when we went home! I had forgotten how fun it was. It’s a great way to let loose your inner child and an excuse to be silly. Plus, you can burn up to 450 calories in an hour, if you walk up a sizeable hill! What a great excuse to skip your workout.

2. Shoveling snow. Ok, so this one isn’t as fun. But, if you have a lot of snow, it’s a necessary evil, and a great way to incorporate extra exercise into your routine. Buy two shovels instead of a snow blower and use shoveling as a reason to spend some quality time with your significant other. Burn up to 400 calories in an hour.

3. Ice skating. A great activity you can do with your family and friends as well as your spouse, ice skating is relatively easy and cheap! Most places will allow you to rent skates, and if you live far enough north, you can probably skate outside. Kevin and I will be in Chicago this winter and they have a beautiful skating rink on State St. that will be definitely be visiting! You can burn up to 350 calories an hour.

4. Hiking. This may seem a little strange for a winter activity, but hiking through snow can be absolutely gorgeous. Places that looked ordinary in November take on a magical quality when covered in white, sparkling snow. If you are feeling brave, see if you can rent some snow shoes or cross-country skis. You’ll have an adventure and burn tons of calories!

Anything you guys like to do in winter? Happy Holidays!


5 Quick Tips

 With Thanksgiving coming up, I though you all might like some quick easy tips to get through the holiday season and not feel too guilty about your feast this thursday! I think we all want a quick fix when it comes to diet and weight loss, which is why those crazy diets like grapefruit or squash soup fads are so popular.  We would all like a remedy that’s so simple. Well unfortunately nothing is that easy, but I scoured the internet and have come up with five simple techniques that can aid in living a healthy life style.  Now I will warn you, these are not all original ideas, but they are ones that I have found helpful in my own life. If you have any tips of your own feel free to leave a comment!  I would love to hear them.


1. Buy natural varieties of peanut butter and pour off some of the oil sitting on top. Each serving will have 20 fewer calories and 2 to 3 fewer grams of fat. It’s a small difference that’ll add up to a couple of pounds per year. —Amelia Winslow, personal chef in Los Angeles and founder of the healthy food blog Eating Made Easy


2. “Cutting out after-dinner snacking is a quick way to help you shed 5 pounds in a week. At night, we’re usually scaring down junky foods in front of the TV—and it’s easy to consume a meal’s worth of calories, plus belly-bloating sodium. If you’re typically hungry before bed, it might mean you’re eating dinner too early, so push it back. Snack on fruit at 3 p.m. Then at 5 p.m., have a snack bar. At 7:30, you’ll be ready for dinner, and you’ll be eating late enough to stay full for the rest of the evening.” —Heather Bauer, RD, author of Bread Is the Devil: Win the Weight Loss Battle by Taking Control of Your Diet Demons

3. “Downsize your wine glass to cut calories. Wine glasses today are giant goblets, so it’s easy to pour 6 ounces, or one-and-a-half servings, without noticing. That means those two glasses a night might actually be closer to three (almost half a bottle!), adding up to 300 calories. Instead of drinking this way every day, have a regular-size 4-ounce glass a couple of times a week. You could drop more than 20 pounds this year.” —Tim Church, MD, director of preventive medicine research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


4. “Make sure you’re the last one to start eating and also the last person to finish. I do this, and it helps me slow down and chew my food properly instead of inhaling what’s on my plate—and more. Eat this way and you’ll take in fewer calories at your meals.” —JJ Virgin, PhD, author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy: The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong, and Sculpted Arms


5. “Stop eating when you’re at a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is famished and 10 is Thanksgiving full). When you stop at 5 or 6, chances are 20 minutes later; you’ll feel like a 7 or 8. This tactic is great for parties and vacations—and could save you lots of calories per meal.” —Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Cooking Channel’s Healthy Appetite and author of Comfort Food Fix.

 Happy Thanksgiving!


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