Maximize Your Treadmill/Elliptical Workout

If you’re like most people trying to lose weight, you probably hop on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym and simply select the “weight loss” program thinking that this is surely going to help you drop pounds and inches fast. Well, I’m sorry to say, but the program you’re choosing is based on flawed understanding.

The thinking is that when you’re working out at a lower intensity you will be burning more calories from fat than carbs. While this is true, the real goal should be to burn as many calories as possible. It doesn’t really matter what kind of calories you’re burning. When working out at a lower intensity it will take much longer to burn 250 calories than it would if you stepped it up a bit.

Next time you go to the gym, use the “manual” or “quickstart” button and vary your intensities by walking one minute and jogging/running for 2 (otherwise known as an interval workout). If this is too difficult for you, lower the running bit to 1 minute. The idea is to end up running more than walking. With this kind of workout, you’ll be playing with your heart rate and will end up burning more calories per minute in the long run.

Avoiding Diet Pitfalls

We’ve all been there. The 4pm slump that hits you, making you feel tired, irritable, and insatiably hungry for cookies, sweets, and anything you can get your hands on. Most of the time you’re eating these yummy treats without even realizing it and before you know it you’ve packed 5 mini cupcakes into your mouth and added 650 (I’m being forgiving when I use that number) calories to your rear end. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, not so much, right?

The next time you find yourself in a battle with yummy gooeyness think about this first:

“Why Am I Doing This?”

Ask yourself, “Am I rewarding myself for something? Perhaps you got reamed out by your boss, or your credit card bill was astronomical this month, or you had a fight with your husband before leaving for work this morning. If so, find another way to reward yourself when you leave for the day. Make sure that it’s something special (and not food related) that you will get ONLY if you avoid giving into your temptation.

Are You Eating Out Of Boredom?

If so, make an attitude change. Take a break if you can and get outside for some fresh air. If you can’t though, maybe try calling a friend and telling her how bored you are. Talking it out can really help you resist the urge to give into your weakness. Recognizing that you’re bored and not really hungry will give you the push you need to fight that little sucker off.

Are You Really Hungry?

That’s fair, it’s 4pm after all. It’s been 3-4 hours since lunch and will most likely be at least another 3 until dinner, so eat something, but make it healthy. Combining a carb and a protein will help make it more filling and will satisfy you longer, so try something like a cup of grapes and a low-fat string cheese, or an apple and some yogurt, or a 190 calorie chocolate peanut Kashi Bar (yum! Those are my favorite!). Just make sure that it’s a snack and you’re not doubling up. Keep it at 200 calories or less and you’ll be good to go.

Plan Better

If this happens to you often then you need to plan ahead. The day will spontaneously throw a million things your way, which can be very stressful. It’s during stressful times that we often eat the wrong foods and eat impulsively. So, come up with a plan to tackle the stress and prepare for the inevitable curve ball. Recognize that you eat when you’re stressing and make sure to keep healthy snacks that you enjoy on hand. Don’t wait until your hungry or stressed to make these decisions, because most likely it will be the wrong choice.

It’s Like The Peloponnesian War

If you do find yourself eating the cupcakes don’t beat yourself up about it. Dr. Wayne Dyer once said that guilt is like the Peloponnesian War – it’s in the past, so stop dwelling on it. I love that! What’s done is done, so feeling guilty or upset at yourself for what you ate is pointless. The only purpose that serves is to make you feel bad, but does it change anything? No! The only thing you can do is resolve to plan ahead for next time and ask yourself, “why am I doing this? Am I really hungry? Am I bored?”.

UPDATE ON MY NIGHTTIME SNACKING 40 DAY CHALLENGE: My challenge to myself was to limit my night-time snacking to 100 calories or less for 40 days. I’ve tried to kick this habit for a long time with bouts of success, but nothing really long-lasting. I’m happy to say that I’m on day 10 and going strong. I will admit though that I am human and slipped up last night. Not terribly, but still it was an urge I couldn’t resist. See, my husband, Roman asked me to make him a sinful snack – a peanut butter, Nutella, banana, and honey sandwich. I know, the best thing you’ve ever heard, right! I had already had dinner and my 100 calorie Skinny Cow ice cream bar and I wasn’t even really that hungry, but my taste buds were tingling just at the sound of those words coming out of his mouth. So, I confess, I had a 1/4 of the banana with some peanut butter, I licked the Nutella yumminess off the knife, and then had a 3-4 bites of his sandwich.

I felt guilty for a bit, but then decided to forgive myself before I went to sleep, per my advice that I gave all of you yesterday on getting back on the horse. After all, I’m committed to this goal and indulging once in a while is ok. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue to work on it, it just means that I’m human and need to indulge once in a while.

166.5 Miles Down, 17.5 More To Go!

I love trying the impossible. I love proving myself wrong of all my doubts. I love pushing myself to the limit and overcoming fear. I just ran 12 miles yesterday and feel like a complete rock star! Wait, not to sound too perfect, I’ll tell you the truth.

10 miles felt like a good distance (I know, that sounds crazy enough!), but those last 2 miles were really pushing it and my legs felt like I was carrying 12 tons of lead up a mammoth-sized hill like my life depended on it. Armed with my arsenal of water, Sports Beans and Cliff Shot Blocks I did it though and felt like nothing could stop me. I felt like a superhero must feel when he discovers his superpowers for the first time. My running partner, Shilpa was like, “we have to keep moving or else I’m going to throw-up”, and I thought to myself, “that was awesome, I can’t believe how great I feel”.

On the way back home is when it all came crashing down. I knew that my legs were moving, but I couldn’t get there quick enough. Every step felt like an accomplishment. But finally after an agonizing 5 long blocks I made it through the front door. Roman, Billiam, and Ozzie enthusiastically greeted me and the second I bent down to pet the dogs is when my bubble really burst. I could barely stand back up, and when Roman asked me how I felt I could barely muster a pathetic “like a rock star”. I definitely didn’t sound like rock star or look like a rock star at that moment, but I still felt like one. Then the nausea and chills settled in and I know I should have eaten something, but I just couldn’t bring myself to swallow anything. I sat at my dining room table looking like a beaten dumpster diving raccoon.

Walking down the stairs to the living room I was more like a feeble grandma with a walker than an athlete. I could only walk down sideways, holding on to the banister, one leg at a time. A throbbing pain shot through my left shin and another throb shot trough my right hip. I just ran 12 miles and now I needed one of those Hover Rounds and the chair that brings you up and down the stairs. I will tell you this though, About an hour later I finally ate something. And I didn’t just eat anything. I ate something that I would never in a million years eat. I could have had a salad or a healthy wrap or something, but I just burned 1200 calories (a full day of calories!), so I had a mama jama sized peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a 1/4 of an apple cinnamon muffin. For many of you this is no big deal, but you should know that for me, this is a huge accomplishment and turn of events. After 12 miles, some major nausea and chills, a yummy pb & j sandwich, and some muffin Roman and I took the dogs for a mile and a half walk.

So, rock star, you betcha! I’m such a freaking rock star that I even got dolled up and put on heels to go hang out with our friends later that night and didn’t come home until 1:30am. Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me! And, I’m on day 7 of my 100 calorie or less night-time snack and going strong.

Here’s my secret: It all comes down to sheer mental will. None of this would have been possible had I not BELIEVED I was going to do it. Once I committed to it there was no going back and I wasn’t going to give up, because that would mean that I let myself down. So, I invite you to RISE UP and commit to yourself to do something that you’ve always wanted to do, but have put off. Anything that will make you feel accomplished and successful.

Throughout my recovery I honestly think that this journey I’ve been on for the past 10 weeks has been one of the most pivotal moments for me, and I have proven to myself how strong I am. I will never be that broken girl I once was and nothing will ever stop me again. Rise up.

When Is A Calorie Not A Calorie?

“An apple a day will keep the doctor away…”

We’ve all heard that losing weight is as simple as calories in vs. calories out, and while basic theory can attest to that, thermodynamics, or more simply put, the way our body processes calories, proves that it’s not necessarily that simple. Weight loss or weight gain involves a little more than just a simple counting of calories.

If you have a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie at 350 calories or a vegetable stir-fry at 350 calories is it the same? Is it ok to just skip the meal and go to dessert if it means that you’re having the same amount of calories either way? Or, what if you choose a Twinkie over 2 apples, if both choices have about 150 calories?
This sounds like one of those annoying math word problems, huh… If Sally is driving from Syracuse at 30mph and Jim is driving from Albany at 29mph with a wind velocity of 20 knots which one will get there first and save Timmy in the well?… But I digress…

Many experts will tell you that the calories from a fruit are better than that of a Twinkie, because of what the fruit’s calories are made up of. An apple has more fiber than a processed sugar and white flour Twinkie, so your body processes it differently and you stay more satisfied for a longer amount of time. It also has a higher content of water, so it takes up more space in your stomach, making you feel fuller. Research at Tufts University has shown that people who eat 35-40g fiber per day are less hungry and lose more weight than those who eat less fiber. So that tell us that it’s about choices – you can have 550 calories for dinner consisting of salmon, broccoli, lentils, and red wine (14g fiber), or you can have 2 slices of pizza (2g fiber).

This holds true for carbs as well as proteins. With proteins you want to make sure that you’re choosing foods that have unsaturated fats. Omega 3 fats are a hot topic now for their heart health and immune system benefits, as well as their ability to reduce joint inflammation and symptoms of depression. And they may actually help with weight loss by assisting fat-transporting enzymes, enabling fat to be better used for energy. So, this is definitely something you want to think twice about the next time you dive into that burger.

As for carbs, they’re all given a rating on the Glycemic Index (GI). The scale goes from 1-100 and each carb is given a number based on how it affects blood sugar levels. For instance, foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body and cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are slowly digested and absorbed causing gradual increases in blood sugar. They go a long way when you’re trying to lose weight, because they keep your blood sugar levels steady (which is important, because if you’ve ever had Chinese food and felt hungry an hour later, that’s because your blood sugar levels rose too quickly and then dropped) and help you control your appetite and delay hunger. (I’m going to talk more specifically about this tomorrow.)

Yesterday I mentioned Weight Watchers’ Hunger monster, and while I think Weight Watcher’s is a great program for learning how to balance calories, it’s not the best for learning how to eat optimally or lose body fat. Yes, you’ll lose weight, but you won’t necessarily burn fat, unless the calories that you’re putting into your body are good calories. In the industry we call this “skinny-fat”. Think about the stick bug celebrities that have the lolly pop heads, like Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton. They’re as skinny as 7 year olds, but they have no muscle or tone to keep their skin on their bones. It’s the muscle that helps you burn fat at rest, so you just want to lose the fat, not the muscle.

All of this info isn’t to say that you need to be saint all the time and that you should never indulge. A good way to go is the 80/20 rule. If you’re making the right choices 80% of the time then you can indulge the other 20%. So, eat that Twinkie, but just make sure that most of the time you’re choosing the apple. Stick to this and you’ll see how the weight comes off and you’ll feel so amazing and energetic that it won’t be much of a choice.

A Little Monster Named Hunger

Are you having trouble sticking to your goals? I was just watching a Weight Watcher’s commercial and they have a little stuffed monster named Hunger. I love this! This little guy lurks everywhere and sneaks up on you sometimes when you least expect it – in your office drawer, in your glove compartment, in your fridge and cabinets, in your purse, in your locker…

I talked last week about changing your routines and moving things around in the kitchen. You can take this one step further by putting little reminders that will help motivate and keep you on track in the places where hunger lurks the most. Place pictures of you at a better time in your life in the places where you stash your goodies. Or, find the worst picture that you can find of yourself if you think that will work better. I’m sure many of you have a picture like that where you look at it and think ,”what happened? How did I let myself get here?” I know I’ve definitely had a few of those in the past that made me so mad. My face wasn’t just rounder, but my arms were actually puffy from all the weight fluctuations over the years and my nose even looked a bit wider.

You can also place little reminder notes in these places that’ll inspire you to walk away. Write down why you don’t really want those empty calorie snacks, why you want to look and feel better, what it will mean to you when you reach your goal, how much you hate feeling this way, and how you will only regret eating it later.

It’s so much easier to put on the weight than it is to take it off, so you have to do everything possible to keep yourself from making excuses. There are NO excuses.

Crack In A Glass

I’ve been using something to help power me through days when I feel like I just can’t possibly make it through my workout. It’s called Mochatonix , but I like to call it crack in a glass.

I swear to you, by the time I’m half way done drinking it I feel perkier and have a pin pointed focus with a sensation that I can do anything. I seriously believe that I can lift cars and possibly even challenge Hulk Hogan to a wrestling match, positive that I’d win. And I can work better, because I have a razor-sharp focus that I don’t usually have without it, which makes me more creative and free-flowing with ideas. I even feel more personable and engaging when speaking to people too.

It makes working out feel effortless and allows me to push harder, stronger, faster, and longer. I’ve had workouts where I’ve realized a noticeable difference in my energy level and was able to lift heavier than last time without the fatigue I felt with lighter weights. I’ve been able to run longer with much more ease too. Plus, it’s all natural and packed with vitamins, without any harsh additives, preservatives, or dangerous chemicals (like many products sold in drug stores or in the back of magazines) and it won’t give you the crashing feeling that sugar does. I like the Mocha flavor, because it indulges my chocolate craving at only 60 calories per serving! It also comes in vanilla and cappuccino.

Here are 2 recipes that I like:

Hot Chocolate:
Pour 1 scoop of Mochatonix powder into a mug, fill with boiling water, and top with a bit of skim milk, for a hot chocolate that will help you lose weight! Voila!

Choco/Banana Smoothie:
In a blender mix 1 scoop of Mochatonix powder, 1 frozen banana, 2-3 ice cubes, and a bit of skim milk. Blend and pour into a glass. Yum!

My best advice though is to start with only half a scoop and see how you react to it. For me, the full scoop is too much, because I’m not a huge caffeine drinker, but for someone who drinks coffee every day the full scoop might be better. Also, you want to make sure not to take it every day, because you don’t want to become to used to it. I reserve it for the days when I feel I REALLY need the extra boost.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

That’s exactly my thought as I rounded the corner, finishing my 10 mile run today. After last week’s legs-feel-like-lead-in-molasses 9 mile run I thought getting through today would be impossible, but this incredibly turned out to be my best run yet. From the moment I woke up I could feel a difference. I just felt so relaxed. There was no anxious anticipation of what was to come, but I felt an excitement about the idea of completing this challenge. It was one of those “I can do anything” days. My shins were nagging me a bit, but it didn’t matter.

10 miles equals exactly 3 loops around Prospect Park. Normally after the first loop I’d have the dread of 2 more to go, but not today. The first loop only revved me up more and I couldn’t wait to round the next one and then the next. Every song that came on gave me a different beat to run to and I couldn’t help but almost sing along. Then a little pebble came flying out of nowhere and hit me in the face. Who cares though, right? It didn’t matter. Then I felt a stitch in my side, but I massaged it away. And then I felt a twinge in my knee, but I just imagined it to be the color blue until I willed it away. It felt so great being out there with all the serious cyclists and runners. Mile after mile after mile after mile we’d bump into each other and give a little nod of acknowledgment, or maybe encouragement. Some people were out just strolling along with their dogs and each time I ran around the loop I’d bump into them again, only they were just a 1/2 mile further than before and I was 3 miles closer to finishing.

Oh, and I ran into one of my clients that I hadn’t seen in a while and I actually heard the words “I’m on mile 9, one more to go” come out of my mouth. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this would be me. I ran on with a little smile on my face, just so proud of myself.

Ok, so here’s my epiphany for today – You absolutely must think positively if you are going to succeed in anything. This run encompassed everything I was talking about in my blog this week. I practically willed myself into having an amazing run today. Even when I felt sore I kept on going, because I wasn’t going to let myself down. I realized something else too. This is the first time in my life that I’m exercising without obsessing about how many calories I burned, how many calories I have to eat, what I’m going to do tomorrow, etc., etc. Through this training it’s never occurred to me not to go on a run one day. Sure I’ve felt dread, but I always know that I’m going to go and feel great after. And guess what, my body composition is changing and I’ve lost a few inches! I always say that once you stop obsessing about your weight that’s exactly when it starts to come off. Now I’m proof of that. Plus, I just cleaned the entire house. I think I earned that ice cream sundae now, right?

Super Bowl Stats – A Breakdown

Research has shown that Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest day for food consumption after Thanksgiving. Let’s look at a breakdown of some of these foods and see what you’d have to do to burn the calories off:

* 2 handfuls of potato chips = running 45 football fields – that’s about 300 calories.

Tip: Instead, make the swap for some Pop Chips

* A large handful of mixed nuts and 2 gulps of beer = 44 minutes of football training camp – 240 calories.

Tip: A small handful of nuts, say 10 or so can be healthy, but be careful not to overdo it. If you switch to a light beer, you’ll cut the calories in half.

* 1 tortilla chip with refried bean dip = Dancing to The Who during the halftime show for 8 1/2 minutes – 74 calories.

Tip: Instead of the bean dip, switch to salsa. Instead of regular tortilla chips, switch to baked chips. And make sure not to sit near the bowl of chips either if that’s your weakness. If you have to get up in order to get the chips you’ll have to think twice about it and will be more likely to pass on it.

* A few nachos = Performing as a mascot for 97 minutes – Just 6 nachos will cost you about 569 calories, and if you add guacamole or sour cream it’s another 150-300 calories!

Tip: Make the nachos with low-fat cheese and sour cream or make some home-made pita chips and eat them with salsa.

* 1 pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream = Cleaning the stadium after the game for 322 minutes (with no breaks!). – 1,320 calories!

Tip: Try a low-fat ice cream, at about 110 calories/half cup, which will save you 900 calories!

* 6 honey barbecue chicken wings with dipping sauce = Playing pro football for 59 minutes (actual playing time). – Each wing has 90 calories, and tack on an extra 50 for the sauce.

Tip: Make your own skinless, and sinless chicken wings and bake instead of frying.

* 6 loaded potato skins = Doing the wave 6,389 times – 1,308 calories!

Tip: Make them yourself. Microwave the potato and top with low-fat cheese and sour cream. Pop them in the toaster oven with some cooking spray to get them nice and crispy.

Everyday Activities

Exercise isn’t the only thing that burns calories. Everyday activities do as well, so get active!

(All calculations are based on a 135lb person)

- Sweeping (10 minutes) – 34 calories
- Vacuuming (30 minutes) – 107 calories
- Mopping (30 minutes) – 107 calories
- Showering (15 minutes) – 31 calories
- Carrying Small Child (30 minutes) – 92 calories
- Carrying Groceries (10 minutes) – 36 calories
- Playing with Children, sitting (15 minutes) – 38 calories
- Grocery Shopping, with cart (30 minutes) – 70 calories (try and carry a basket instead!)
- Getting Dressed (10 minutes) – 20 calories
- Gardening (15 minutes) – 61 calories
- Washing Dishes (15 minutes) – 35 calories
- Making the Bed (5 minutes) – 10 calories
- Getting Manicure/Haircut (30 minutes) – 31 calories
- Driving (30 minutes) – 61 calories

Be mindful of these counts and you’ll be zipping through calories in no time. Now, the trick is calories in vs. calories out, so if you can’t make it to the gym, it’s ok, but just make sure to be more active at home and watch what you’re eating, so you don’t replace the burned calories with food. I bet you and your house is going to be sparkling now!