Category: Weight Loss

Are Carbs Still the Enemy?

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I know what you’re thinking…. “Can we STOP going bunless yet??”

Bread, cereal, rice and pasta have been getting a seriously bad rap ever since Atkins, and even more so since the whole world decided to jump on the Paleo bandwagon. So many of us went on a carb strike over the past few years, with those ever popular fad diets telling us carbs were evil.

But what’s the deal now? Are carbs still the enemy?

Here’s the verdict: Carbs STILL ain’t that great.

But things have changed a bit and thankfully you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) cut them out 100%. I’m all about eliminating sugary carbs and gluten filled grains, but we really do need SOME carbs in our diets.

Carbohydrates give us energy, help us build muscle and actually decrease cravings. But you have to choose your carb carefully. They are most definitely not all created equally.

Although I’m eating FEWER carbs in general, I am also super careful about which ones I chose to nourish my body with. I’m all about balance and definitely will indulge in a slice of bread or a dessert once in a while, but most days I’m chasing down these healthy carbs:

Veggies – broccoli, asparagus, brussels spouts, spinach, green beans, zucchini, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and white potatoes

Fruit – stick to fresh berries which are lower in sugar like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries

Shakeology – my FAVORITE healthy carb! Contrary to popular belief, Shakeology is actually not a protein shake. It’s a premium superfood shake that does have protein but it’s actually FULL of healthy carbs because it is made from real wholesome, naturally carb loaded ingredients from around the world. Shakeology maximizes weight loss, increases energy and lowers sugar cravings. Plus it is so delicious!

So there you have it. Atkins and Paleo have it partially right. Carbs aren’t the enemy, but in my “Skinny Opinion”, yes, you should still go bunless. 😉

What are YOUR favorite healthy carbs?

xo
Jenn

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I share more of my healthy living tips and tricks on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on my health and fitness journey!

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Skinny Tips for the Fourth of July

IMG_5111Summer is in full effect and nothing says it louder than the Fourth of July weekend! There will be plenty of BBQin’, boozin’ and hangin’ by the water with friends and family.

Whatever your weekend has in store, I have a few skinny tips for you to get through the weekend, guilt free.

DRINK: Choose clear alcohol – vodka or tequila with soda water, a squeeze of grapefruit and extra lime. You can also garnish with cucumber and mint for a more refreshing drink.

Did you know?? Tequila is one of the few liquors that is not made from a starch or grain (it’s made from the Agave plant). When combined with the lime and grapefruit, it does not cause your blood sugar to spike so it helps curb those typical late night junk food cravings.

EAT: Load the grill up with lean protein like chicken, fish, kabobs and roasted veggies. Make a mixed green salad or fresh fruit salad for a lighter side dish. Doing burgers? Go bun-less.

Worried about having healthy options at a party? Bring your own to share!

Remember at a party there are typically four categories we can indulge in: booze, bread, snacks and dessert. Limit yourself to one or two of the four, but never more!

EXERCISE: Plan on getting your workouts done first this in the morning on at least 2 days this weekend.

What are your July 4th weekend plans? I’d love to hear YOUR skinny tips for the 4th! Have fun, be safe, and keep it skinny! 

xo
Jenn

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I share more of my healthy living tips and tricks on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on my health and fitness journey!

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What to Order From a Coffee Shop

FullSizeRender 3As the weather warms up, the infamous blended coffees call our name. They are super refreshing and so damn tasty.

But did you know that a Grande Caramel Frap has a whopping 420 calories and 66 grams of sugar?

In my (skinny) opinion, it’s best to avoid them all together. I’m not saying to deprive yourself, but I challenge you to think about better options. Often times indulging in a sugary beverage doesn’t “count” in our minds because we didn’t technically EAT anything. It doesn’t fill us up, so we forget about it and move on with the day, but the extra sugar catches up to us and pretty soon we’re craving more and more junk and can’t figure out why.

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you step foot inside you’ll automatically order “what you always order” without even thinking about it?

Experiences like going to a coffee shop can trigger a habit. It’s the same reason some people simply cannot go to a movie theater and not buy the buttery popcorn. Or some people buy the candy in the grocery store check out line and others don’t even notice it there. It’s important to take a step back and think about what is happening. We often associate a particular food with an experience or location and the habits kick in.

We need to stop and think about what is happening, change our mind set, and make smart decisions until they eventually become our new habits.

So in a coffee shop, what can you order – guilt free?

My general rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Good coffee shops should be brewing really good coffee. I like to start with a base of black hot coffee or iced cold brew and I always ask for room. Then I top if off with almond milk and some cinnamon and mix it up. It’s simple, satisfying, and still feels like a treat.

What healthy choices do you make when you order from a coffee shop?

Throw Away Your Scale : Why You Can STOP Weighing Yourself TODAY

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Once upon a time, I weighed myself every morning. It helped me stay accountable and kept me motivated. I thought it was for good reason, but it was horribly unhealthy. I let that little number dictate my day. My LIFE, really.

When I got pregnant, I saw the number increase at such a rapid rate, and because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, I started to become less and less focused on it. I knew I HAD to gain weight to keep my baby healthy. For once, I gave myself grace to gain.

In the process, my habits changed. I knew I was going to be gaining weight no matter how healthy I ate, so I didn’t need to step on the scale. I felt such a sense of relief. When “the baby wanted me too”, I indulged. And really, I didn’t go overboard. My husband and I ate out at restaurants whenever we wanted, because we knew those lunch dates would be few and far between when our little bundle arrived. I exercised daily and listened to my body.

I gained 40 pounds and I don’t regret an ounce of it.

For once I chose what I wanted from the menu. Not what was the lowest calories, but what really, truly sounded tasty. I stopped eating when I was full (because when you’re THAT prego, you can only fit SO much). I learned what hunger and satisfaction actually felt like.

My relationship with the scale changed for the better during those 10 months. I fell out of the habit of weighing in regularly and measuring my success by that stupid little number. And now…I DON’T weigh myself everyday, or even every week, for that matter. I go by pictures. How I feel. How my clothes fit. My measurements.

Do you ever let the number on the scale dictate your progress? Or even worse, your day? Do you get anxious to step on the scale? 

Well today I want to encourage you to STOP. Stop letting that little number control your life. You are worth so much more than a number.

When we weigh ourselves on a daily basis, the number we see plays tricks on us. Our weight naturally fluctuates day to day due to water retention, hormones, sodium intake, etc.  Another big factor is our body composition – our muscle to fat ratio.

Now I know you’ve probably heard “muscle weighs more than fat.” Well friends, that is NOT true. A pound of muscle actually WEIGHS the same as a pound of muscle. !! They are both a pound. The real concept is that a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat. So if you replace fat with muscle by incorporating strength training into your workout routine, you may not actually see the scale go down, but you’ll be smaller.

Today, I encourage you to let the numbers go. Throw the scale away for all I care! Focus on your journey. Focus on fueling your body with wholesome nutrients. Focus on moving your body. Focus on challenging yourself every day. When you let go of the stress of the scale, you’ll be amazed at what your body will accomplish.

What I Wish I Knew in College about my Health

college-lifeA dear friend tagged me in an old college photo last weekend and it instantly brought us all back to the time and place we met. Looking back, college was full of SO many good times — now a million and one memories. While some days I’d give anything to go back for just one day, I can’t help but look at how much I’ve changed since then.

When I graduated from high school, I was “healthy” and “in shape.” But then again isn’t every 17-year-old? (The truth is: I didn’t know a thing about health – but that’s a whole other story, for a different day.)

And then college happened. And over those 4 years, the weight crept on. By the time I graduated, I didn’t recognize myself. Five pounds a year will do that to you!

I’m happy to say, after graduation I learned how to lose weight in a healthy way. I found a healthy balance between having fun and nourishing my body. And eventually I re-discovered my love for exercise.

I wanted to share a little on what I know now and what I would have done differently if I were moving back into the dorms today.

Drink smart // Let’s face it: every college kid is going to drink. A lot. Don’t waste your time with sugary flavored vodka and fruity mixed drinks. Remember, clear drinks are better choices than darker varieties and just say no to the 3am burritos.

Find a routine // The one thing about college life is that every day can be totally different if you let it. With class schedules different every day and parties popping up whenever/wherever, a routine is easy to get away from. Get a healthy breakfast every morning, get plenty of sleep and find a gym time that fits in with your class schedule.

Eat real food // Frozen dinners get you nowhere in life. Learn to cook real food, even if it’s just grilled chicken and brown rice. It will save you in the long run. Start simple and slowly add in spices and try new recipes to mix it up. Easy and cheap is not the answer.

Walk // College campuses are giant. Save some money, don’t buy a parking pass this year. Walk from your apartment/dorm to class instead. Those extra steps will add up and you’ll thank me later. Oh how I wish I had at Fitbit circa 2005.

What do you wish you would have known in college that you know now? How would you have been healthier?

My New Favorite Exercise / Hobby: Stand Up Paddle Boarding

casey_michigan_sup1My husband and I have been borrowing my in-laws stand up paddle boards for the summer and let me tell you: I’m hooked.

If you aren’t familiar with stand up paddling (SUP), let me fill you in. Stand up paddle boarding originated in Hawaii as an off shoot of surfing. It can be done on anything from flat water protected lakes, to easy beach paddling, to open water paddling, and all the way to surfing waves.

Anyway, these SUPs we’ve been using, they are INFLATABLE! Have you ever heard of such thing? I mean, how practical is that?

Because let’s be real — owning a traditional 10 to 12 foot SUP is only practical if you a) live at the beach or b) own a truck and c) have lots of storage space.

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Suddenly stand up paddle boarding became mobile. Now, this isn’t your typical water toy. They are military grade, highly pressurized and super rigid.

Thankfully I have my hubby to help blow pump them up for us, which takes him all of 5 minutes. But let’s be honest, if I were doing it…. it might take all day. These babies hold 14 pounds of pressure. And they best part? They roll up into a backpack when you aren’t using them. So they easily fit into your car/garage/closet.

Is SUP good exercise? Yes! It is an excellent low impact workout. You’ll engage your core while activating the burn in your arms, legs and back. It’s a full body workout and is great for balance. Caloric burn will vary depending on stroke intensity, wind, and water conditions but here is a good rule of thumb:

 ++ Leisure Paddle: 225 calories per hour ++

++ Moderate Paddle: 500 calories per hour ++

++ Intense Paddle: 850 calories per hour ++

**Estimates are based on a 165 lb person and one hour of paddling.

Looking for an inflatable SUP? Check out these babies.

Have you tried SUP? What is your favorite summer time exercise? 

Does FRUIT make you FAT?

Very Vanilla Fruit Salad_787x426.ashxAhhh…the great fruit makes you fat debate.

The first time I heard this I literally LOL’d. Fruit makes you FAT? I mean, it’s just fruit.

Well…

Even though its better than a candy bar, its best to stick to small portions and choose lower sugar, higher fiber options. If your goal is weight loss or cutting back on sugar, all carbs count. Consuming high amounts of any sugar or carbs, whether natural or not, can increase hunger levels and fat storage.

Don’t get me wrong, I still eat fruit on a daily basis. After all, there are tons of vitamins and nutrients found in fruit. I encourage you to enjoy fruit as part of your healthy diet, but remember that fruit should be eaten in moderation. Aim for no more than ½ cup or 1 piece at a time and no more than twice a day.

I like to think of fruit as an ingredient and not a snack on its own. Enjoying it with a little protein will prevent a spike in blood sugar levels and also help keep you nice and satisfied. Think: an apple with almond butter in the afternoon or a banana in your protein smoothie at breakfast.

Also, choose fruits that are high in fiber! Fiber is what helps us feel full. So, eat fresh whole fruit, including the skin when you can. Berries tend to be the lowest in sugar while still being high in fiber. Fruits that are lower in sugar also tend to have more nutritional value. Hello antioxidants!

Enjoy these low sugar/high fiber fruits:

++ Berries (Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)

++  Melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon)

++ Peaches and Nectarines

++ Grapefruit

++ Apples

Eating a moderate amount of fruit will not pack on the pounds. Fruit can be a great part of your meal and a healthy dessert option. But, like everything in life, too much of a good thing can stall weight loss. Remember, fruit is nature’s candy, and moderation in key.

Tell me: What is your favorite fruit? How many servings of fruit do you typically eat in a day?

Running: My Love/Hate Relationship

16BEST_SPAN-tmagArticleI have a love/hate relationship with running.

All my life I hated it. Until I tried it. Like, really, really tried it. I changed my ways of thinking about running from “I can’t run” and “it’s too hard” to “I can run” and “it’s pretty easy, actually.”

So my love for running began. I ran every day. Anywhere from one to four miles per day. Not long distances by any means, but I was running nonetheless. I had conquered my fear of running, and proved to myself that I, in fact, can run.

I even joined a running club at work. After work, a group of us would run in Point Loma. Our daily course was down to Sunset Cliffs up and down a road called “Hill Street.” I kid you not, this is a San Francisco type hill. It is no joke. But it was great for training, and great for my figure.

After months of doing this 5 days a week, my body was telling me to stop. But I didn’t listen. I loved running and I loved my new body. I powered through and kept running.

Eventually, my knees got really weak. (I blame Hill Street). Weak to the point that I could no longer run. I tried a bunch of knee braces and even did some physical therapy. But ultimately it was time to give running a break.

At this point I despised running because I was forced to stop. I was introduced to Pilates, yoga, and The Bar Method, since they were low impact forms of exercise and great for strengthening your joints.

Fast forward several years, and I’ve finally found my running happy place. I’ve found a way to incorporate running into my life again. My knees still scream when I push too hard, but I LISTEN. A medium paced jog, once or twice a week is perfect for me. I can still benefit from the mental clarity running brings and I still get the “runner’s high.” But I have no interest in racing at this point. I learned to listen to my body and do what’s best for ME.

Speaking of running… It’s NATIONAL RUNNING DAY!

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Celebrate JUNE 4!

Be a part of National Running Day — a coast to coast celebration of running. On this day, long time runners reaffirm their love of running and beginners can kick off a lifetime and life-changing commitment.

Visit http://www.runningday.org for more info.

Tell me: Are you a runner? What is your love/hate exercise? What do you love or hate about running? Will you celebrate National Running Day?

Slim Down Your Sushi

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Sushi can be super healthy, but it can also be…not so healthy. Some of us tend to categorize all sushi into an easy healthy meal option. It’s a no-brainer, right?

Well let’s unwrap the sushi roll.

The main ingredient is plain white rice. Now, you might figure it’s not too bad since each piece is bite sized. But unroll all 8 pieces and you’d be surprised just how much rice it really is. Have you ever seen a sushi chef at work? He squeezes the shit out of the roll with that bamboo deal. (WTH is that called anyway??) You better believe that rice is PACKED. So, my point is: while it doesn’t look like much, it is really way too much rice. My advice: ask the server for ½ the rice or find a roll that is rice free! (There are usually 1 or 2 on the menu.)

My next issue with sushi is that it’s often served “family style.” Meaning, the restaurants recommend ordering a few different rolls amongst the group and sharing it. I’ll all about sharing, but this is where you can easily consume a lot more than if you were just ordering your own roll. My advice: order a roll rainbow roll for yourself. There is enough variety in a rainbow roll that you won’t be tempted to pick off the community plates.

Oh, and avoid any sushi drizzled with a creamy sauce or anything involving tempura.

Your best bet: SASHIMI.

The Mind/Body Connection

f7098f06ac72fe0dae6bed63240c4ec7Diet + Exercise = Success. Right?

Errrr… not so fast.

It’s so easy to overlook the mental aspect of health. How we handle stress, anger, sadness, loneliness, frustration, and all the little ups and downs in between can truly affect our health.

When you are dealing with a bad breakup, a devastating loss, or you are anxious about your future, there are chemical processes in your body that can easily throw your health goals out of whack. All of a sudden the equation is not so simple. You can eat clean and train mean, but if your mind is not in a good place, you won’t progress.

For example, depression not only affects your mood, but your appetite, thoughts, and behavior. And remember that stress hormone cortisol? It’s no joke. These factors really do make you more likely to eat poorly, skip your workout, and potentially gain weight.

Dealing with life’s roller coaster ride is not easy. But it’s so important we take action to invest in our mental health.

Question: What steps do you take to boost your mood and relieve stress?

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