Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent: No, Ya Don't Have to Give Up Chocolate or Beer

Every year when Lent comes along, hundreds of people give something up, something they feel life would be a little trickier without. I remember when I was 10 I gave up lollipops, when I didn't even really like them to try and beat the system. It was my most easy, breazy Lent by far. In high school I gave up bread, which was a little trickier seeing as though I used to be a bread-and-butter fanatic. Then in college I gave up peanut butter for 40 days, my one "guilty pleasure"/addiction which was absolutely miserable. In the end of it all, I had gained about 5 pounds from my lack of a healthy fat in my diet, and had a psychotic peanut butter binge session early Easter morning. I don't really see how that's benefiting me, my faith or anyone for that matter. In the movie "40 Days and 40 Nights," Josh Hartnett gives up sex, which is also stupid because sex is actually healthy for you and that's not doing anybody any good either.

So, I've concluded that this year I will instead do something to better myself, and others around me who I love. I have decided that for 40 days, I am going to write a "Thank You" note/Love letter sort of deal to a different person each day who has effected my life in some way. Whether they've been there for me always, or have just changed my life in a little, simple way, each note will be different and unique to that particular person. Now, I'm gonna try to stick to the whole "go green" thing and email my letters of affection to save some paper, but for those who don't have email I will stick to the traditional snail mail.

I just feel that sometimes in life we all get so caught up in it all, frantically stressing over work, relationships, money, etc. Sometimes it's nice to just reflect on it all, and cherish the little things that mean a whole lot more than all the other crap.

Good luck to all of the rest of you enduring on this Lent journey. I hope you can find something to do that is meaningful to you as well. I wish you all a healthy, happy Thursday! *Rachel*

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Protein Up Your Diet!

The other day, a friend of mine asked me how to drop 5 pounds by following a better diet. Among many things including snacking more frequently and adding more whole grains, I suggested she add more protein to her diet. Many young women today simply don't get enough protein, potentially derailing their overall weight loss efforts. I know so many girls who swear off meat thinking it's evil, and others who chose to follow a vegetarian diet (which is OK) but aren't making up for that loss of protein. Then there is a whole other group who take part in the "Special K" diet or fruit and cereal only. Don't even get me started with them. . .

Adding more lean protein to your diet is known to satisfy your hunger much longer than carbs and other foods can, repair muscles after a long workout, as well as help you shed those last few pounds.

I'm not saying to cut out all other foods groups and go protein-crazy. I'm just saying to be aware of a more balanced diet, getting a good amount of healthy, complex carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits, good fats like Olive Oil, and lean proteins.

I'm here to tell you how to add more protein to your diet, the healthy way, since many people struggle with this particular area.

1. Beans, beans, beans! The silly rhyme says beans are the magical fruit, the more you eat. . .(well, you know the rest) but beans actually can be magical! They are a super protein, particularly great for those vegetarians out there who swear off meat. Try adding a variety of beans (garbanzo beans, black beans, Lima beans, lentils) to your soups, salads and everyday meals to get the extra protein boost!

2. Lean meats: Yes, eating a ton of red meat every day may not be so good for your health, leading to heart disease and other risky health problems. But, lean turkey and chicken are great to add into your diet. Try slicing up grilled chicken into your salads, adding turkey or chicken into your favorite winter soups, or simply eating them plain in wraps and sandwiches! Turkey bacon is another great option to eat aside a morning omelet or inside a "BLT."

3. Play around with nut butters: Try different nut butters, like almond butter, natural peanut butter and sunflower butter! Make sure to get them all natural, with no added sugars or other crap. Nut butters taste wonderful on a a slice of toast in the AM, or on top of apples, pears and other fresh fruits!

4. Go egg-white crazy! Who said you have to eat the whole egg? While sometimes you may want the whole egg, other times try just the egg white. It'll save you a load of calories and cholesterol, while still giving you the protein benefits! Try an egg white veggie omelet for breakfast, or slice up some hard boiled egg whites into an afternoon salad.

5. Tofu: Tofu is great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Lightly saute some up into your stir-fry dishes, or bake it in the oven with some fresh herbs and olive oil to give it a yummy, crunchy taste. You can even scramble some up for morning "scrambled eggs", and add some veggies, herbs, salt and pepper to taste!

6. FIsh: Choose lean fish once or twice a week for dinner. It has wonderful healthy proteins, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids that are great for your skin, hair and nails! With fish, you can lose weight and look great at the same time!

7. Yogurts/Low fat Dairy: Add in some low fat cows milk to your morning cereal, and bring a healthy yogurt with you for the day for snacking! Try plain Greek yogurt, or any that doesn't have a ton of added sugars! Check the label to make sure you're getting your protein. Grab a stick of low fat string cheese for snacking to, which has the calcium and protein you need to stay healthy!

8. Soy Products: In addition to tofu, try soy milk, soy cheese or any other soy meat substitutes, especially if you're lactose intolerant.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

7 Little Ways to Trick Ya Into Working Out

We all know what it's like to wake up and talk yourself out of working out. "I don't have time." "I'll work out tomorrow!" "I'm too busy!" Stop right there Healthy Chick, and use these little mind tricks next time you're faced with this kind of problem!

1. Put your workout clothes on right when you roll out of bed or get home. If you're at work all day, pack a bag with a change of clothes and sneakers, and store it in your car or a gym locker for the day! If you know you already have everything you need to get your workout started, you'll be much less likely to talk yourself out of it!

2. Plan a decadent dinner that you can enjoy after your workout! Treat yourself to a trip to your favorite grocery store or market, and buy fresh ingredients for a healthy, filling meal you'll love! Or pop your favorite dish in the oven or slow cooker before you head to the gym, like a delicious turkey chili or chicken and rice casserole. By the time the buzzer goes off, you'll be back from a nice sweaty workout sesh and ready to indulge (healthily of course)!

3. Think about how you can pamper yourself afterward. Treat yourself to a hot shower or bubble bath after your workout, or steam room/sauna session if your gym has them! This will help your muscles relax and make you feel absolutely beautiful.

4. Go on a workout clothes shopping spree! If you can afford to look cute in your everyday life, why not beautify your look at the gym as well? Buy some cute, formfitting tanks and some hot yoga pants that make your butt look phenomenal!

5. Sign up for a fun class with a friend, like a Forrest yoga class to help you relax, or you may want to try shaking your booty in Zumba to have a blast and sweat it off!

6. Think of all of the crappy food and drinks you'll be guzzling down this weekend! This should be enough to get your butt off the couch to sweat it off before you beat up your bod with fatty foods and large amounts of beer. Also, if you get a great workout in before all the festivities, you'll be much more likely to be cautious of what you put in your mouth, making somewhat wiser choices!

7. Track your workouts in a log, kind of like a food diary! This will let you see how far you've progressed, motivating you to keep going!