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“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
-Stephen R. Covey

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I have been on a mission to find a healthy yogurt that actually tastes good. I personally don't eat a lot of yogurt but my little girl would live on it if I would let her. The problem I have with most yogurts is the sugar content. I used to just buy the Yoplait light yogurts but decided that I wasn't too fond of all the high-fructose corn syrup and fake sweeteners. I made the switch to baby organic yogurt to get away from the HFCS. I didn't really pay attention to the 13-17g of sugar per tiny serving. How many teaspoons of sugar does that equal?...3-4!!! No wonder it is so delicious. No wonder my child wants to eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner.

How much sugar should we be eating?

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it's recommended no more than 8 teaspoons/day of added sugar based on a 2,000 calories/day diet. That’s 32 grams if you’re reading labels, and about 6% of your total calories for the day. You don't have to worry about counting the sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruit.

My attempt to choose organic led to half a days worth of sugar in one yogurt!

To fight this sugar problem I have attempted to use Organic Greek Yogurt. I first bought the plain stuff. The only way I was going to eat that stuff was if I added a ton of granola which obviously goes against my original intent. So I tried the the kind with honey. It was actually really good, but....loaded with sugar (about 13g). Yes it is the natural sugar from honey, but still lots of sugar.

I decided to give the plain kind a try again thinking some fruit might help. The result...my yogurt loving child gagged and spit it all over me.

I gave the Greek stuff one more try and bought the vanilla flavored kind. I think this one might just work. It still has 8g of sugar but I figure that is a huge improvement from where we started.

I will try using the plain stuff as a substitute in recipes. Here are a few ideas-

1. Use yogurt in place of mayonnaise. Non- fat, plain yogurt contains less than ten percent of the calories, less than one percent of the fat, and around three percent of the cholesterol of an equal amount of regular mayonnaise. Combining equal amounts of low-calorie mayonnaise and lowfat yogurt works well for many dishes, including potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, tuna salad, dips, and appetizers.

2. Try plain yogurt as a healthy alternative to sour cream. It is much lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol. If you're adding it to a sauce in place of sour cream, heat it over very low heat so it doesn't curdle.

3. Try yogurt in baking recipes. Plain yogurt can often be substituted for milk, buttermilk, or sour cream in recipes for waffles, pancakes, and muffins. (I haven't tried this yet but will let you know how it goes when i do)

After all this blabbing on my part I just want to finish by saying it is important to read the labels. It is the only way to know what you are really putting into our bodies. I think it is okay to consume some sugar but if you are not careful it will sneak into your diet without you realizing it. Don't be fooled by packaging and advertising!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How is the Challenge Coming Along?...

I just want to do a quick check-in to see if you have started your weekly challenge. I have finished the scarf!!! Now on to the pile of "STUFF" hiding in the bedroom corner. Anyone else willing to share what they are working on?

Chicken with Cashews

I have been meaning to share this recipe for awhile. I made it last week. It was delicious. The best part is the leftovers were great too. Oh, and it is really easy!

Makes 6 servings
Prep 15 min
Slow Cook 3 1/2 on low
or 5 1/2 hours on low

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks ( I actually just cooked the chicken breasts whole since they were frozen and cut them up after it was cooked.)

2 cups baby carrots

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

4 TBSP ginger-flavored soy sauce or regular low-sodium soy sauce (I didn't have soy sauce at the time so I just added some ginger)

8 ounces snow peas (I used frozen)

2 cans (8 oz each) pineapple tidbits, drained, and 2 TBSP juice reserved

1 sweet red peper, seeded and thinly sliced ( I actually just bought frozen stir-fry veggies and added the whole bag)

3 TBSP cornstarch

1/2 cup roasted cashews

3 cups cooked brown rice (optional)

1. Stir together chicken, carrots, broth ( I also threw in the stir fry veggies) and 2 TBSP soy sauce in slow cooker bowl. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low.

2. Remove cover and stir in snow peas, pineapple and red pepper and cook an additinal 20 minutes.

3. In small bowl, stir together remaining 2 TBSP soy sauce, 2 TBSP pineapple juice and cornstarch. Stir into liquid in slow cooker bowl. Stir in cashews and cook an additional 10 minutes or until liquid has thickened. Serve over rice, if desired.

Per Serving-
249 Calories
7 g fat (1g sat)
22 g protein
23 g carbs
3 g fiber
266 mg sodium
44 mg cholesterol

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Strength Training Basics-

Check out the challenge for the week by clicking here.

I want to step back and look at the basics of strength training. Working with weights is an essential part of every workout program. But if you haven't worked with weights much it can be very intimidating. People often comment that they want to start working out but have no idea where to begin.

First lets look at why we should strength train-

1. Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. "If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. (This is due to a decrease in metabolism). "But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age."

2. Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — which can result in weight loss. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight.

4. Reduce your risk of injury. Building muscle protects your joints from injury. It also helps you maintain flexibility and balance — and remain independent as you age.

5. Boost your stamina. As you grow stronger, you won't fatigue as easily.

6. Improve your sense of well-being. Strength training can boost your self-confidence, improve your body image and reduce the risk of depression.

7. Get a better night's sleep. People who commit to a regular strength training program are less likely to have insomnia.

8. Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.

There are a lot of ways to approach a strength training routine. I will give you the basic guidelines, plus a simple plan to follow.

If exercise is fairly new for you start out doing 1-2 sets of 15 reps. You want to choose a weight that makes your muscles tired by the last rep without compromising form. Rest about 2 minutes inbetween sets. **

If you have been exercising regularly for a few months you can do 2-3 sets of 15 reps. Again be sure to choose a weight that is challenging yet allows you to maintain proper form.

You would do this routine 2-3 times a week making sure to leave a day of rest inbetween workouts.

We all have those "trouble areas" that we want to change, but when you strength train you need to make sure to work all muscle groups in your body. You should start by working the biggest muscle groups (legs, chest and back) and finish with the smaller ones (arms and abs).

A good routine to follow would be-

Legs- Squats

Chest- Chest Press or Flys

Back- One Arm Back Row (just use a dumbbell in place of the kettlebell)

Triceps- Extensions

Biceps- Curls

Legs- Lunges or Ham Curls

Shoulders- Shoulder Presses and Push-ups (Do presses first and then go right into the push-ups) (Girls, lifting weights will not bulk you up like the lady in this video unless you are training like crazy and with really heavy weights)

Abs- Ball Crunches and Plank

I will provide some other weight training options in future posts.

**To be more time efficient and to make your workout harder you can do one set of each exercise without rest in between each one and then repeat the exercises 1 or 2 times.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekly Challenge #1

I have decided to change the daily challenge to a weekly challenge. I think it will be more effective. This way you really have a chance to focus on the information and I have time to elaborate on the details. You will still have something to work on everyday, but you will work on it all week.

Let us begin...

Your first weekly challenge doesn't have a lot to do with nutrition or exercise, but will indirectly help you reach your fitness goals.

Think about your "TO DO LIST". I am talking about the l-o-n-g list that has all those unfinished projects you have been meaning to do. It is the list that seems a bit overwhelming.

But... don't get overwhelmed. I want you to pick just one or two items off this list. I will be working on finishing a scarf I started making 3 weeks ago, and organizing the pile of "stuff" that is tucked in the corner of my bedroom. Your project can be as simple as sending a thank you note, returning a phone call, cleaning your junk drawer, sewing a button on your shirt...whatever it is you need to get done.

Be realistic and only choose things off this list that you truly have time to do this week. If you know you only have 20 minutes a day to devote to your list, then don't pick a project that will take you 5 hours to complete. The project you choose to start working on needs to be completed within 7 days.

Why are we doing this?

2 reasons-

1. For that sense of accomplishment that feels so good! This feeling is motivating.

2. We all have clutter in our lives. Your clutter may be emotional, physical, mental or spiritual. This clutter holds us back. As you clear out some of this clutter you will be able to focus more on your health.

I am famous for starting new projects, working on them for a few days, getting sidetracked, only to never go back. I then will make a new "TO DO" list, put way too much on it, and end up in the same place I started...with lots of undone stuff. It drives me crazy and stresses me out, but I continue to do it. I now have a rule that I can't start a new project until I have finished my current one. In the end I actually get more done. I may only have 2 or 3 finished projects but that is so much better than 10 undone projects.

I have a feeling I am not alone in this battle. If you can relate please join me in the quest to be more productive!

“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

-Stephen R. Covey

Feel free to share your list and how it goes this week.