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Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom

The response to the last blog entry was overwhelmingly positive. So, why not continue the fun? Let’s consider this Part II…with a little twist. Following is a list of great finds that will help you cope with the stressful-excess-eating-pressure-filled-gift-giving-primping-indulging holidays.

The Holiday Hangover. You know the hangover is inevitable…but is it? This one is gold: Drink Before Elixir is a pre-cocktail beverage that claims “No hangovers & reduces redness”. The product’s goal is to “make it healthier and more comfortable for you to enjoy alcohol.” Giddy-up. Loaded with vitamins, potassium and amino acids, I was sold. So does it work? I say “Hell, yes.” Worked for me during a crazy weekend outing when drinks started pouring at 2 pm and the night ended at 3 am. Yep, I still got it. No hangover, no nausea, no problem. Find it on Amazon.

Loyalty Program. Who doesn’t love the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons, especially for holiday shopping? I can’t keep them in the house. If I wasn’t enough of a loyal customer before, now they really got me. They started a new loyalty program where you pay $29/year for an on-going 20% off your entire purchase. If you receive this exclusive invite…jump on it. Pure brilliance. Here’s more info.

Learn How To Read Your Body. This one is key. Especially during the holidays. Note what causes reactions to your body. Are you unusually bloated after you drink dairy? Do you crash hard after eating carbs? Are you unbearable after eating sugar? Are you especially thirsty in the evenings or AM from not drinking enough water or eating too much salt? Are you super lethargic in the morning from over-eating at night? Listen to these triggers and avoid them. Keep a journal of these reactions and when they occur and you will have incredible insights on how to feel and look better.

Luscious Lashes. We think holidays and we think lash extensions and falsies. There’s a new solution. No more expensive applications or over-promising mascaras. Rodan & Fields just launched this product called Lash Boost with clinical trials resulting in 85% longer, 90% fuller, 63% darker lashes with results in 4 weeks. And they’re killin’ it. Forget the iris-changing, crazy side effects of Latisse. Started mine 2 weeks ago and the difference is remarkably noticeable. They are offering a holiday gift with purchase – free cosmetic bag and eye cream. And now that I have access, so do you (or your favorite gift recipient). Buy here.

Get Matcha’d: I have searched for a good, authentic Matcha Tea for a long time  – however, most of them (including Starbucks) are not the real deal. I recently stumbled upon Motto Sparkling Matcha Tea: made to “make you feel and think better”. For centuries, Matcha has prepared Buddhist monks for meditation and readied samurai warriors for battle. Ok, so I’m neither – but I do frequently adorn my Wonder Woman cape. This Matcha tea is supposed to be a powerful agent of health, wellness and natural energy. Sugars are higher than I would normally grab (13 per bottle) but no more than the natural sugars in my afternoon latte. Small handcrafted batches made up of sparkling water, Matcha green tea, honey, organic agave, fresh lemon juice, organic apple cidar videgar and natural plant extract. (found it at Kings)

Read The Label: The most important thing in weight maintenance is reading the nutrition label. All too often, especially during the holidays, we have this “all or nothing” mentality. “I’ll get back into shape after the holidays.” Which I never truly understood why you would sacrifice 2 months of your life to binge eating. It only results in a guilt-filled, reluctant New Year with unreasonable “now I have to make up for lost time” pound abolishing goals. Learn to read nutrition contents and ingredients and always practice portion control. You can start using 4th grade math: If a serving contains 120 calories, 9 grams of sugar, 18 grams of carbs and 2 grams of saturated fat and there are 5 servings in the bag – and you eat the entire bag (and many of these bags are small and manageable enough to do just that), you have just indulged in 600 calories, 45 grams of sugar, 90 grams of carbs and 10 grams of saturated fat. Can you say sabotage?

Kill The Temptation. Want desperately to eat something on your plate you know is not the best choice? Spill water on it. Ever take a look at left-over food in the kitchen sink? Not very appetizing. Bet ya won’t want it anymore after it’s doused with water.

Talk In Code. We have all that partner in crime that we confide in at a holiday dinner. I mentioned The Skimm in my last write-up but what I forgot to mention was the kick-ass acronym cheat sheet they offer with the latest and greatest social uses. This one’s a must – read here (how fun to practice them over turkey dinner). And if you still haven’t joined The Skimm – do it now.

Burn Fat. There is a pretty good chance you will be indulging during the holidays (avoid making it a month-long habit). The key is to get your heart rate high enough to use up your stored glucose and get into the fat burning zone. How do you do that? Intervals. Workout example for a runner: Warm up 5 minutes at moderate rate (4.5 mph). Jog at a steady pace for 5 minutes (6.0 mph), then exert yourself running at a much faster pace (6.8-7.0) for 2 minutes. You should be breathing heavily and trying to catch your breath for those 2 minutes. Repeat that 5 min/2 min cycle for 30+ minutes, 2-3 times a week. This is the same concept of Tabata. High intervals with moderate rests in between. Adjust the times/pace to your level. Walkers walk for the 5 min and light jog/speed walk for the 2.

And that’s all folks. If you are looking for more tidbits or are interesting in a private nutrition counseling session, email me at dakarrat@yahoo.com. Happy, healthy holidays.

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14 Reasons Why You Are Still Not Losing Weight

Sometimes we feel like we are doing everything right, but the weight still doesn’t come off.  Following are some possible reasons why the scale isn’t moving in the right direction.weightlossblog

1.  Eating In Front Of The Television Or A Computer

It is easy to overeat when you aren’t paying attention.  Instead of bringing food to the couch or desk, step away from the screens and focus on enjoying your food.  You will feel satisfied and have less of a tendency to overeat.

2.  Overindulging In Low-Fat Foods

Low-fat foods may appear healthier, but they are often full of additives, artificial sugars and extra sodium. Even though it feels like you are eating lighter,  you may end up eating more than you anticipated.

3.  Overdoing It With Artificial Sugar

Study after study, including a recent one out of Yale University, has shown that when you eat artificial sugar, your bodies crave more sweets. Your taste buds may be ok with the fake stuff, but your brain isn’t fooled.

4.  Thinking Cardio Is The Only Exercise Needed

Everyone needs cardiovascular exercise for heart health, but incorporating weight training also has major benefits. Weight training builds muscle mass, increases metabolic rate and makes your body stronger and leaner.  This higher metabolism keeps you burning calories long after you have left the gym.  (See our earlier blog Heels To Barbells).

5.  Skipping Breakfast

It’s true – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. People who eat breakfast regularly lose more weight. Eating breakfast each morning jump starts your metabolism and keeps your cravings in check. It’s important to keep it healthy and balanced: include protein to give yourself sustainable energy and fiber to fill you up for hours.

6.  Working Out On An Empty Stomach

Research has shown that when exercising on an empty stomach, the calories burned will come from muscle, not fat. You want to keep those muscles since they burn more calories than fat. The more muscle mass you have, the better it is for weight loss. Not only will fueling your body help you avoid losing muscle, you will have more energy to push yourself through your workout.

7.  Overeating Healthy Foods

Yes – nuts, avocados, whole wheat pasta and olive oil are all good for you, but those calories still count.  Keep track of your portions as you enjoy these foods.

8.  Eating Straight From The Fridge Or The Kids’ Plates

Everything you eat counts – whether it is a handful of the chips from your son’s lunch or a few bites of leftovers from the fridge.  Even if you toss down these few bites without thinking, they still count.  My little trick – try chewing gum when making food for others.

9.  Turning A Healthy Salad Into A Landmine

Be conscious of what you put on your salad.  Creamy salad dressings, croutons, bacon bits, dried fruits and cheese can literally add hundreds of calories.  Try other lower calorie choices such as chickpeas, shredded carrots,  lemon juice or balsamic glaze.

10. Lacking Portion Control

This is a crucial key that can derail any attempts at weight loss.  You may need to initially weigh your food to learn the appropriate portion sizes.  Once you get the hang of it, you will be better able to judge what is a portion.  And just as importantly, you need to learn to recognize when you are full. At that first feeling of fullness, either remove your plate or cover your food with a napkin.

11.  Not Drinking Enough Water

Water not only keeps you hydrated, but drinking water on a regular basis helps with weight loss. Additionally, filling up on water before a meal helps encourage portion control. A recent study even found that drinking cold water can speed up metabolism and discourage cravings for sugary drinks like soda and juice.

12.  Never Indulging

In an otherwise healthy diet, enjoying a treat now and then isn’t going to ruin your weight-loss goals, and it may help you stay on track  by keeping you from binging.  A study found that a daily variance of as much as 600 calories  (that means some days less and some days more – not always an extra 600 calories) won’t reflect on your waistline, as long as you maintain a healthy diet in the long run.  Try not to waste these calories eating cold leftovers straight from the fridge; if you are going to indulge once in a while, choose something you really love and sit down and savor it.

13.  Eating The Wrong Post Workout Snack

A post-workout snack is just that — a snack. And unless it’s mealtime, what you eat after an average workout should be around 150 calories. Since healthy foods like trail mix can be high in calories, measure out a serving instead of mindlessly chomping straight out of the bag.

14.  Forgetting To Journal

Writing down what you eat is an essential way to monitor daily caloric intake. A study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics surveyed 123 women and found that those who were the most successful at losing weight used a food journal to keep track of their food intake.  And with today’s apps, there is really no excuse. (I use MyFitnessPal.)

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Favorite Fitness & Nutrition Apps

imagesI remember the days when I would go for a run and then go back out in my car to track how many miles I completed.  Those days are long gone.  Today, there are mobile apps for tracking your run, counting calories, designing workouts, monitoring your mood, and so much more.  Below are 7 of my favorites apps to help you achieve your fitness and nutrition goals. And stay tuned; we will tackle this topic again, as the list of ingenious and inventive apps continues to grow.

Run with MapMyRun + GPS running.  This app is the primary reason that I now run almost a full minute faster per mile than I used to run.  I don’t know how I ever ran without.  Its primary feature is to simply track how far and how fast you run in total and per mile.  You can play your music and run this app at the same time.  My favorite part is when my music lowers (this happens automatically each time you reach a mile marker) and I here that Siri like voice telling me that I have completed another mile and at what pace.  It keeps a record of all your runs and allows you to post to Facebook or Twitter. And it even has a nutrition tab that allows you to enter the food you have eaten and calculates your calorie budget for the day. $2.99.

iMuscle2.  This app is excellent for planning a workout and keeping track of your progress.  Using a beautiful rotating 3D model, you tap the body part that you want to work and then choose among dozens of exercises offered to work that specific body part.  You can filter the results based on which type of equipment (if any) that you have at your disposal. If you don’t want to build a custom workout, you can choose from one of the preset ones.  And if, like me, you have trouble understanding how an exercise is supposed to be performed based on a static picture, then you will love the little moving pictures that illustrate each move. For every exercise, it will tell you the primary and secondary muscles worked and will record the number of sets, reps, and weight used.  You will also have the opportunity to enter your weight, height and 10 different body measurements, so you can track exactly how your body is changing.  And all this is for $1.99.

Upbeat Workouts for Runners.  It has happened to most of us – you are hitting the pavement and feeling invigorated when some slow paced, depressing song starts playing and you can’t hit the skip button fast enough.  This app takes care of that problem.  It matches your running or walking steps to you pace – automatically!   It works directly from your own itunes library by picking the songs that suit your pace, whether cooling down or going all out.  $2.99

Lose it! and MyFitnessPal.  The goal of both of these apps is to help you lose weight by tracking everything that you eat.  It is the food journal that every health professional has been telling us to keep if we want to lose weight. Both are 5 star apps and both do their job well.  But to note a few differences, MyFitnessPro has a much larger restaurant database and its bar scanner (which they both have) seems to recognize more food.  On the other hand, Lose It! seems a bit less ‘techie’ and slightly easier to navigate.  For imputing homemade meals, MyFitnessPal can be a touch more cumbersome, but it will remember your meals.  You really cannot go wrong with either one and since they are both free – why not try both?

Fooducate.  This app looks beyond simple calorie counts – it helps you eat healthy.  Simply scan any food at the grocery story or type in the name of an item, and it will not only tell you the calories per serving, but it will also assign a letter grade to your selection.  It will let you know about harmful ingredients or what vitamin or nutrient it is a good source of, as well as provide GMO details (this is an upgraded feature).  And to make your shopping easier, it will even suggest a similar, but healthier alternative.  Free, but lots of upgrades available for additional cost.

Healthy Break.  A recent American Heart Association study showed that periods of inactivity beyond 30 minutes will slow down your metabolism.  Your time at the gym is important, but what you do the rest of the day affects your metabolism as well.  So get up from that computer and stretch and walk around – but wouldn’t it nice to be reminded?  This little app does just that.  You can set it to go off at certain intervals and to repeat for a set period of time. Now you will never forget to keep moving!  Free, but a pro version available for $1.99

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