Friday, December 3, 2010

Everyone likes a pat on the back every once in a while for a job well done. And there’s no better time to get one than when you’re out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to improve, nervous about whether you can succeed.

Most people approach changing their health habits from a position of "pain" rather than what can I gain from this experience. They constantly nag themselves, berate themselves and expect nothing but perfection, no matter how much progress is made. Tools of the trade are guilt, doubt, shame and self-flogging. Instead of celebrating the 24 pounds they’ve lost, they see the 6 or 10 they still haven’t lost. Sound familiar? People are used to beating themselves up, it may seem like the best way to get motivated. But consider this: if you attempted to motivate an employee like that, how long do you think they’d stick around? How successful would they be?

Let’s try a different approach this time. Try approaching your goals from a position of "possibilities" instead. Find ways to use regular rewards to pat yourself on the back and give words of encouragement. Instead of focusing on what you do wrong, try paying more attention to what you do right! While straight talk and brutal honesty are often good for getting your butt moving, for sustained motivation, the positive approach will keep you from burning out.

Rewards create a feeling of doing something you want to do, not just what you’re forcing yourself to do. Even the smallest of rewards can work wonders as you travel from milestone to milestone, pound to pound, and mile to mile.

Here’s how to set up a good rewards system:
  • Choose some benchmarks and reward levels. You can also reward yourself for levels of consistency.
  • Make the reward meaningful to you. As a reward, a new pair of shoes may not hold as much motivation as a simple night alone with a book.
  • Choose two or three options from the Reward Chart below or come up with a few reward options of your own. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes, the best rewards are those you can’t buy.
  • A lot of small rewards, used for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than relying solely on the bigger rewards that require more work and more time.
  • DON'T use food as a reward. Even good food. It’s just too much of a slippery slope. Don’t even mess with it.
  • Plan to celebrate. Figure out now how you’re going to celebrate reaching your health, fitness or nutrition goal. Involve other people, tell them about it. Create a celebration that you can anticipate and then keep it within sight all the time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Fudging the numbers mentally, or "borrowing" against the next reward hurts the cause of building a lifetime habit. Remember to keep your focus on building a habit, not just figuring out how to get the reward.
  • Compliment yourself. Write down what you would say to anyone else who accomplished what you did.
  • Create an actual plaque or trophy.
  • Give yourself badges of honor for different levels of accomplishment.
  • Take a vacation or weekend getaway.
  • Take a day off from any goal activities.
  • Put $1 in a jar every time you meet a goal. When it gets to $50, treat yourself.
  • Create a Scrapbook, where you keep mementos from your accomplishments.
  • See a movie.
  • Make a grab bag of little prizes. When you reach a significant goal, reach in and get your reward!
  • Go for a spa treatment or massage.
  • Get your hair done
  • Invite your best friends over a night of fun
  • Buy yourself a gift certificate.
  • Take a limo ride.
  • Subscribe to a magazine you always wanted.
  • Go canoeing or do something outdoorsy.
  • Watch your favorite TV show.
  • Buy something for your hobby.
  • Read a funny book.
  • Celebrate "100% Days". If you reach 100% of your goals that day, choose two rewards.
  • Find some time to be by yourself.
  • Pay someone to do the yardwork or house cleaning this week.
These are just some ideas for you to use, create your own reward chart and use that as your motivation. Reach and achieve your goals, don't let anything of anyone stand in the way of what you are capable of!!

Boosting Your Fiber Intake

Fiber is one of the easiest nutrients to incorporate into your diet, and one of the most important. However, many Americans don't reach their much-needed daily requirements for a healthy diet. Adults need 25 to 35 grams daily. Generally, children under 18 years require less. Using the "age plus five" rule will help you determine your child's needs. For example, a 5-year-old would need 10 grams daily (5 + 5 = 10), and a 10-year-old would need 15 grams (10 + 5 = 15).

Insufficient fiber intake can increase your risk for many health problems, including constipation, high cholesterol, weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome, and even cancer of the colon. Here are more fiber-rich tips:
  • Choose fresh fruit and/or vegetables over juices.
  • To get more fiber and nutrients, eat the skin of cleaned fruits and vegetables.
  • Include bran and whole grain breads daily.
  • Drink more water to accommodate your increased fiber intake and reduce indigestion.
  • Eat fewer processed foods and more whole foods.
  • Try to meet your fiber requirements with foods rather than supplements.
  • A large increase in fiber over a short period of time could result in bloating, diarrhea, gas, and all-around discomfort. It is better to add fiber to your diet gradually over a recommended period of about three weeks, to avoid abdominal problems.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Picking a Healthy Breakfast Cereal

What to look for when choosing a healthy breakfast cereal there are cereal scams out there!!!

Diet advice is everywhere—in the newspaper, the new government guidelines, and on the SparkPeople site. "Limit sweets, cut down on sugary foods, and decrease consumption of refined carbohydrates," it says. So, bold words like "Reduced Sugar" or "Whole Grain" catch your attention on food packages. You quickly take hold of a box of this "New and Improved" breakfast cereal as you stroll the aisles at your local grocery store.

However, experts from five universities reviewed the leading kid’s cereals, including these reduced sugar versions, only to discover that the calorie amount was equal to the regular high-sugar variety. In fact the ONLY one that had somewhat fewer calories was General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch—and it only dropped by 10 calories in each serving.

"How can this be?!" you scream. Well, the manufacturers replaced the sugar with other forms of refined carbohydrates. So the manufacturers are legal in their marketing endeavors, but the calorie amount is virtually the same. Seeing is believing. Check out the nutrition labels the next time you are in the grocery store. You’ll be truly amazed…as well as deceived, frustrated and angered. So place the box back on the shelf as quickly as you grabbed it, and select a breakfast cereal based on the following SparkPeople tips:

  • For a fiber-rich, healthy breakfast cereal enjoy whole grain cereals like oatmeal, Cheerios, Wheaties, shredded wheat, raisin bran or Kashi.
  • Add sweetness with fresh, frozen, or fruit canned in its own juice. Give sliced bananas, canned peaches, frozen blueberries, or fresh strawberries a try.
  • Top it all off with some low-fat milk or soymilk.
  • If you, your spouse, or children are screaming for the sweeter stuff, first try to go half-and-half. For example, half chocolate puffs mixed with half Cheerios. The amount of sugar and flavorings is more than ample to sweeten the contents in the entire bowl. Trust me on this one—it works. My 9- and 14-year-old have no complaints with this morning ritual!
Ignore those catchy claims on the front of the box. Go straight to the nutrition facts label. Here's what to look for:
  • Remember the "Rule of Fives": Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and less than 5 grams of sugar.
  • Look for each serving to contain at least 3 grams of protein.
  • Read the ingredients list. The top ingredients should be "whole wheat", or "wheat bran"—not just "wheat". These whole grains are naturally low in fat, and high in fiber.
  • Avoid cereals that list hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes or colors, and chemical preservatives as ingredients—these have no place in a healthy diet!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Broccoli Soup

Serves: 5

A lower-fat version of your favorite creamy broccoli soup.

2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen broccoli, thawed enough to separate
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 lb. processed reduced-fat cheese (Velveeta), cubed
salt and pepper to taste

1. In medium saucepan, heat the margarine. Add onion, celery and cook until wilted.
2. Add broccoli and broth. Quickly bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes.
3.Puree in blender (will need to do in two batches).
4. In the saucepan, stir together the broccoli puree, milk and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then heat. If the soup is thicker than you like, add more broth or milk and re-season.

Calories: 230.5
Fat: 10.9 g
Carbohydrates: 16.6 g
Protein: 18.7 g

Relax Your Mind and Body with Yoga

Yoga is a great way to build flexibility in our body. We need the extra stretching mixed in with our daily workouts that we do to help keep our bodies limber and toned. I will be the first to admit that I am not one to do my flexibility training on a regular bases, but now that I am pregnant and have been slowing up on the training that I am used to doing Prenatal Yoga has been something that I have been doing more and more of to help keep me limber and flexible. Yoga is also a great way to tighten and tone your body.

I came across this article and thought that it would be of good use not only for me, but for everyone else who has thought about trying yoga, but just didn't know how or what kind of yoga to try ( as there are many different types and styles out there to choose from) I hope this helps!

Yoga: An Introduction

-- By The American Institute of Cancer Research
Is stress wearing you down? Are your muscles tense and your posture less than perfect? Bringing yoga, a touch of Eastern culture, into your Western lifestyle may be the perfect answer to help you unwind both your body and mind. People of all ages and physical abilities have been practicing yoga for more than 5,000 years for general well-being. Today, an estimated 12 million Americans practice yoga for conditions as varied as addiction, fatigue and weight management.

De-stress and Lower Your Health Risks
Studies show that yoga, like many forms of physical activity, can actually help relieve stress. Emotional stress from daily life often contributes to physical stresses like muscle tension and constricted breathing. Because of its impact on the circulatory system, stress is also linked to cardiovascular disease. By alleviating physical and emotional stress, you may reduce your risk of heart disease and other illnesses.

Some hospitals are making yoga and meditation classes available to cancer patients, and reductions in stress levels have been observed. It is yet unclear, however, whether stress reduction influences long-term prognosis for cancer. But studies show that stress relief helps bolster the immune system’s ability to fight diseases, including cancer.

Yoga reduces stress by encouraging deep, rhythmic breathing. It also promotes relaxation by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to each part of the body. Some forms of yoga include meditation or the repetition of a soothing sound or phrase.

Because yoga also lengthens muscles, stretches joints and limbers ligaments, the exercises may actually help reverse some physical effects of aging like arthritis, stiff joints and general aches and pains.

So, take a deep breath, and open your mind to this ancient form of exercise.

Pointers for Starting Yoga
  • Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
  • Find a yoga instructor in your area by asking other people or visiting websites such as or
  • Start out with simple standing and sitting poses. Some forms can give you an intense workout. If in doubt, ask the instructor to clarify what will be taught.
  • As a beginner, it is advisable to choose a gentle, slow form of yoga. Consider one of the following:
    • Hatha yoga is the most popular branch of yoga from which a lot of other styles originated. Because the practice can vary widely, students should find out exactly what a class offers.
    • In Iyengar yoga, students hold poses, especially standing postures, typically longer than in other forms.
    • Svaroopa is a consciousness-oriented yoga that promotes healing. Students often begin this form in comfortable chair poses that help the spine.
    • Integral focuses on integrating yoga teachings into everyday work and relationships.
Office work can be a significant source of stress. To relieve the strain of working at the computer, practice the yoga exercises from Anyone can do these simple exercises at their desk in little time.