Wednesday, November 28, 2012

22 Cheap and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

Proper nutrition is important every day, but now there’s even more reason to ditch the bag o’chips and go for the greens. Today, November 7, is National Eating Healthy Day, a holiday sponsored by the American Heart Association. And it just so happens we’ve found 22 ways to celebrate. So forget about the tempting smells from the pizza place down the block or how easy it is to pick up a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on the way to work. These tips make eating healthy not only easier, but often cheaper, too.

22 Cheap and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

At the Grocery Store

1. Make a grocery list (and stick to it). By heading to the store with a clear list of what’s necessary, it’s much easier to avoid last-minute purchases. (Some studies say shoppers may still make impulsive buys… but the list can’t hurt.) Feeling techy? Try one of the many apps that can help with shopping, like GroceryIQ or Shopper.
2. Don’t go shopping hungry. Even after you take the time to write a meticulous grocery list, if that stomach is grumbling so loudly the people in the next aisle can hear it, chances are something surprising’s going to jump into the shopping cart. Avoid succumbing to last-minute cravings (like, say, for lardwiches) by eating a healthy snack (or meal) before heading to the store.
3. Buy more greens. On that weekly trip to the grocery store, grab some extra green vegetables for health benefits like a stronger immune system[1]. They’re super-healthy (kale and spinach are bona fide superfoods!) and easy to fit into any meal!
4. Choose fresh or frozen over canned. For veggies, soups, and beans, nixing the can cuts out unnecessary sodium. For fruit, it avoids excess sugar. Plus, the fresh stuff always tastes better. And, perhaps surprisingly, canned produce can actually end up costing more (or at least the same amount) as the fresh stuff!
5. If you can’t grow it or raise it (theoretically), don’t eat it. Monosodium glutamate doesn’t grow on trees. Neither does high fructose corn syrup or Yellow No. 5. But at least one of these ingredients is found in many (if not most) of the processed foods on grocery store shelves, from chips to fruit juice. And these ingredients have been linked to everything from obesity and diabetes to brain and liver damage[2][3][4]. If whatever’s in that grocery basket couldn’t theoretically come from your own backyard, swap it for something closer to the original. Choose whole potatoes over a box of mashed; pick plain ol’ oats instead of pre-sweetened packets.
6. Choose whole grains. When grains are processed — like, say, to become white flour used in crackers, cookies, or white bread — two essential parts of the grain (the bran and germ) are removed. The problem is these parts hold the most health benefits and nutrients, including vitamin E, major B vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Look for the “Whole Grain Stamp” on packaging or just opt for ingredients like whole grain, brown rice, and oats.
7. Avoid sweetened drinks. Added sugar is a big no-no. Not only does it pack on calories, but eating foods with added sugar has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weight gain[5][6]. Replace sweetened beverages (even artificially sweetened diet drinks) with water, seltzer, and fresh fruit, or 100 percent fruit juices diluted with water.
8. Eat naturally sweet food (and don’t add extra sugar to it!). Some of us have a sweet tooth, but instead of indulging in sugar-packed processed foods, choose naturally sweet ones to cut down on sugar cravings later. Start in the fruit section and choose naturally sweet vegetables like beets, corn, and sweet potatoes (just to name a few!).
9. Buy in bulk and divide into portions. Yes, this strategy is mostly a way to cut down on cost. Butbuying in bulk — anything from vegetables, to meat, to grains — can also cut down on shopping time, so there’s more time left to prepare healthy meals.
10. Stick to the edges of the grocery store. The outer edges are typically home to fresh produce, meats, dairy, and breads. The inner aisles usually feature highly-processed items packed with extra sugar and artificial ingredients. There are always exceptions, of course, but try sticking to the 80:20 rule (80 percent of the grocery cart from outside the aisles, 20 percent from inside the aisles) for a healthier diet.

Food Storage and Prep

11. Make grocery day “Food Prep Extravaganza.” To cut down drastically on food prep throughout the week, do it all at once after returning home from the store. Unwrap, clean, and cut up meat to freeze or refrigerate in portions. Wash and prep all produce. Chop and freeze anything that may be used at a later date. Pre-portion snack foods (see below), and yogurt or rolled oats for easy breakfasts throughout the week! (Overnight Oats are a favorite in the Greatist office!)
12. Prepare your own food as often as possible. We’re not talking give up eating out entirely — it’s no fun skipping those special restaurant dinners! But by preparing as many meals as possible on your own, it’s much easier to know (and control) exactly what’s going into your body, without any sneaky ingredients. Going to be at work during the lunch hour? Pack something to eat there. No time to eat before heading out in the AM? Bring something to eat on the way or at the office.
13. Pre-package snacksWhen eating out of a family-sized potato chip bag, it’s easy to keep reaching that hand in until all that’s left are the greasy crumbs. Instead of wasting away in a bottomless pit of chips, try pre-portioning snack foods into single-serving plastic baggies or reusable containers.
14. Grow your own herbs. Fresh herbs (or freshly dried ones) are a great way to season food without excess salt, butter, or cheese. Growing a personal herb garden isn’t only good for that belly — it’s also an easy way to pretty up any space! All that’s necessary for a DIY herb garden is a few small planters and an empty windowsill (even the Greatist office has one!).
15. Store the healthiest food in the front of the fridge. When the fridge door opens, make sure you see the healthiest items first. If the leftover chocolate cake is shoved in the back corner, chances are theeye will gravitate towards the shiny apple right up front first. Bonus points for storing healthy options in transparent containers and unhealthy stuff in opaque ones so you see the healthy stuff before the stomach really starts grumbling.

Cooking and Mealtime

16. Sneak veggies into everything. We even have a few ways to fit veggies into dessert. Yep, we went there.
17. Forget about counting calories. Checking every nutrition label before chowing down is annoying (to say the least). Instead focus on meals that include a variety of nutrients, colors, and fresh ingredients. It’s much easier to keep a healthy, balanced diet this way than by counting calories.
18. Eat a healthy breakfast! Starting the day off right is key to eating healthy all day long. So what makes the best breakfast? One study found consuming protein for breakfast can help prevent overeating later in the day[7], but another found that eating a big breakfast with dessert could help keep off excess pounds[8]. Choose what works best for you.
19. Opt for smaller portions. When restaurants pile plates bigger than a human head, it’s easy to overeat. Limit those portions to less gargantuan sizes to easily eat a little healthier. Not sure where to start? Try these portion-size plates, or learn how to estimate serving sizes for certain foods. And here’s a great tip for eating out: To avoid eating more than planned, ask the server to wrap up half the dish beforehand and go home with a pre-made doggie bag.
20. Replace dessert with fruit. (…Or at least add fruit to dessert.) While some varieties can be high in sugar, fruit is a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth without breaking the sugar bank. Plus, it offers health benefits typical desserts can’t, like fiber and antioxidants. And opting for fruit can help avoid that dreaded sugar crash.
21. Pace your mealtime. When we eat quickly, our bodies don’t always have time to realize we’re full — so it’s easy to overeat[9]. Enjoy what’s on the plate, and stop eating as soon as that stomach gives the first hint of being full. It’s always possible to eat more later.
22. Consider not buying unhealthy stuff in the first place. ‘Nuff said.

Learn to Love Morning Workouts

This post was written by guest contributor Angela Simpson, a Fitness Instructor Specialist, Nutrition & Wellness Specialist, and blogger at Eat Spin Run Repeat All views and opinions expressed in the piece are hers.
Throwing back the covers may feel like a Herculean feat when it’s still dark outside. But during my seven years (and counting) of commitment to my morning sweat date, I’ve come to find the effort is well worth it.
My family moved from Canada to the Middle East when I was 13, and due to culture shock, initial unhappiness, and just plain laziness, I gained a lot of weight. As a kid I’d been super active, but once we moved, the opportunities for physical activity weren’t as plentiful as they’d been for me back home. At 16, I decided to do something about it. I vowed to lose the weight I’d gained by replacing the junk in my diet with nutritious foods. I started running on a nearby track and played golf about five times each week. My family also purchased an elliptical trainer and a rowing machine, and I made a one-hour non-negotiable cardio date with these machines every morning. That hour before anyone else in my house woke up was my me-time. And it didn’t take long before I noticed the scale tipping – this time in my favor.

Two years and 70 pounds later, I was back in Canada, running races for my university’s varsity cross-country team and training to become a group fitness instructor. Even today, I find time for some physical activity well before the sun comes up — whether it’s running, strength training, teaching spin classes, or doing yoga. Sure, it’d be nice to lie in bed a little longer on some days, but that would mean postponing my workout until later when other commitments might get in the way.
And it turns out there are a lot of other early risers out there! Last year, a new member walked into my 6 am spin class and said to me, “I don’t know how you get up this early and have enough energy to work out.” Still, she was determined to develop her cardiovascular fitness. Since she didn’t have time to get to the gym after work, she turned up to my Monday morning class almost every week without fail. Now she even shows up at the gym before I do to squeeze in some strength training before we hop on the bikes. How’s that for a positive life change!

10 Tips For Becoming a Morning Gym-Goer:

  1. Schedule it. You probably wouldn’t miss an appointment with your doctor, your dentist, or your hairdresser. Just like these appointments, make your morning exercise session something you can’t skip.
  2. Get out your gear the night before. That way, you won’t arrive at the gym without socks or with your shirt inside-out.
  3. Write it down. Jot down an exact workout plan before going to bed. When you wake up, you won’t have to think about what machine to do next or how long you’re going to run.
  4. Consider a workout you have to pay for. I used to work out with a trainer at 5 am, and some days it was very tempting to stay in bed. But then I’d think about how much money I’d waste if I missed a session, and a few minutes later I was out the door and on my way. A commitment to personal training sessions or small group fitness workouts like TRX might help make sure you get out of bed.
  5. Find a buddy. Maybe it’s a friend you already know, or maybe it’s someone you meet on your first early-morning trip to the gym. Make a commitment to each other that you’ll show up and hold each other accountable.
  6. Make it a competition… with a reward, of course! If you and a gym buddy are both on a quest to make early exercise dates a habit, come up with a little challenge. Maybe you’ll decide the first one to miss a day has to do 20 extra push-ups. If you’re working out solo, treat yourself to new gym gear after a solid month’s worth of commitment.
  7. Do a class. Many gyms offer one-hour classes that start around 6 am. Since no one wants to be the person that walks out in the middle of the class, I’d be willing to bet you’ll stay through the end.
  8. Take baby steps. Start by setting back your alarm by five minutes this week. Next week, go for another five. You’ll be getting up an hour earlier before you know it.
  9. Have something tasty to look forward to. Some experts say the golden window for post-workout nutrition is 30 to 60 minutes after we finish exercising, so make breakfast your next priority. Try a blended smoothie with greens, protein powder, and frozen berries or a parfait with granola, yogurt, and fresh fruit.
  10. Preserve those endorphins! Make great feelings last by writing them down. The next time you think hitting snooze sounds like a better idea than lacing up, read what you wrote and remind yourself how on-top-of-the-world you felt last time. Then get moving!

Intense Abs

Workout Nurition


Yes, it is true.  YOU can fall in Love with running too. Yes, you. 

It occurred to me today that my blog, Running For Dummies, has yet to give any advice for new runners.  I am always quick to point out my blog name is tongue-in-cheek.  This blog is not intended to be an instruction manual for runners.  I'm the dummy here, sharing my growth experiences along the way.  I have such a passion for running and I wanted to share with you how I got there, so maybe you can fall in love too.

Here are my five tips to fall in love with running.

1. Step out of your comfort zone.  

The one thing I always hear from my friends who don't run is, "I can't run, I hate running."  
Lets first talk about why you might hate a certain exercise.  I used to hate planks. When I was in boot camp we did a one minute plank at the end of each session.  If one person in the group dropped before a minute, the whole group had to do it again!  I would stress-out over those planks.  I would spend the entire one hour boot camp class thinking about and dreading that one minute at the end.  Why did I hate it? Because it was hard! Why was it hard? Because I wasn't good at them.  Why wasn't I good at them? Because I hardly ever did them!  So I started doing one plank a day, every day, with no time requirements.  I would just hold as long as I could.  Sometimes back in boot camp I would struggle to hold it for that one minute.  After doing a plank every day over a period of a six months, my plank record is 7:30 continuous minutes!.  Do I hate planks now? No. Why not? Because I can rock a plank!  Is it still hard? Yes, sometimes. But do I love it? Yes! 

The moral of the story is that if you want to love to run, you have to do it.  You have to fight through the uncomfortable feelings in the beginning.  You have to accept the fact that it will be difficult at first. If you decide not to do something because you are not good at it (yet), you are missing out on the opportunity to grow.  You don't have to be good at it, you just have to do it consistently.  You will get better, it will get easier.  I promise.

2. Go Slow.

The biggest mistake I made as new runner all those years ago is that I started off too fast.  I would head out at a pace that is too fast to sustain and then get frustrated and ready to give up before I reached the end of the block.  Start off slow.  Go even slower than you think you can.  Give your body time to adapt to this new exercise.  You can worry about speed later, right now work on endurance.

3. Do Run/Walk Intervals.

There is no shame in walking.  The ultimate goal may be to run continuously without walk breaks, but in order to get there, you have to build up to it.  Start your run at a slow pace and maintain it as long as you can.  When you feel that you need to walk to recover your breath, take a walk break but keep moving forward.  As soon as your breath is recovered, pick back up into a jog again.  This is where it is important to be honest with yourself.  Only walk when you need a breather and start running again immediately when you catch your breath.  Don't stop and walk if your breathing is fine, just because it may be a place on your route where you usually stop and walk.  Don't walk a moment longer than you need to, because this is where the magic happens.  You will find that over time that your running intervals will get longer and your walk breaks will get shorter.  Before you know it, you won't need to take walk breaks at all.

4. Avoid Treadmills (at first).

I am not denying that treadmills have their place in training.  My treadmill runs were instrumental in my speed work training.  Treadmills can be beneficial in so many ways.  They allow you to have strict control over your pace and time, they provide shelter from the weather and a safe environment to run.  However, right now we are trying to fall in love with running.  I don't think anyone ever fell in love with running on the dreadmill treadmill.  When someone tells me that they hate running, but they only tried to run on the treadmill at the gym, I say D'uh!  Almost everyone hates the treadmill.  I love to run with a passion, but even I dread the treadmill.  It can be boring and monotonous and that clock staring you in the face can play major tricks on your mind.  Running is a mental game as much (or more than) a physical one.   I suggest starting your love affair by running in the fresh open air.

5. Buy Good Shoes.

When I first started running and some of my toenails fell off, someone finally enlightened me that I should be buying my running shoes at least a half size bigger than my street shoes.  Go to a running store, have them fit you for a pair of good quality running shoes.  Have your gait analyzed.  Specialty running stores usually perform this service for free.  If you are running in poor quality shoes that are too small and not the proper fit, you are needlessly making it harder on yourself.  The great thing about running is that it is free.  You don't need a gym membership or expensive equipment, you just need to invest in a good pair of shoes.


Fitness Tip of the Day

Baby & Pregnancy Countdown Ticker