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Sugar, Sugar Everywhere!

Beware what’s in your favorite coffee drink!

Here we are in the midst of another season filled with sweet temptations. As spring slowly starts to make its appearance here in New York City, it seems like everyone is rushing grab all the sunshine they can find. This may involve adding bright-colored workout wear and sundresses to the wardrobe or shaking off the boots and slipping into cute wedges and sandals. There also appears to be a surge in sales of all those refreshing drinks that make you feel like you’re sipping on sunshine.  The problem is those sips are often loaded with more sugar than anyone needs in one day, let alone one serving.

On this Motivation Monday, I offer an important reminder that sugar doesn’t just live inside candy wrappers, cupcake shops and wine bottles. There’s also a ton of it lurking in coffee houses and smoothie bars in the form of frozen drinks that come in more flavors than nature ever intended. The short-lived run of the “Unicorn Frappucino”at Starbucks was the latest example of what’s behind every sip of so many frosty temptations. One grande whipped-cream sweet-and-sour concoction packed 410 calories; 16 grams of fat; 62 grams of carbs and 59 grams of sugar. I found it interesting the color-changing drink contained zero caffeine. (Then again, with all that sugar, who needed another jolt of energy?) Luckily by the time you’re reading this post, these drinks only continue to live on people’s Instagram feeds.

Please know, I’m not picking on Starbucks. One of my favorite treats at this time of year is a nonfat green tea Frappucino, and I’ve been known to enjoy a skinny mocha Frappucino once in awhile, too. The key is not to use a frosty coffee drink as a meal substitute. The nutritional value is next to null, and you’re almost always faced with the dreaded aftermath: the sugar crash.

Of course, some crashes are worse than others. With Easter eight days behind us, I think I’ve finally recovered from a full-blown sugar hangover. I cut out a lot of sweet treats during Lent but then went totally overboard on Easter Sunday. It started with several bowls of Cocoa Puffs before Church and by the end of the day, in addition to some great wine and pasta, I’d also devoured some homemade cake, countless chocolate eggs and a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies. So I basically made up for 40 days worth of  sugar intake – and then some. By the next day, my body was in serious sugar shock. I had a queasy stomach, a headache I just couldn’t shake and overall, I felt like a sluggish mess. 

When you get in the habit of eating whole, healthy foods, it’s amazing how the body reacts when you go off the deep end. Hating how your body feels from the damage is a great trigger for getting back on track with a diet of fruits, veggies, protein and whole grains while keeping the alcohol and dessert intake at moderate levels.

As my repeat readers know, I’d never advocate denying yourself the things you enjoy. Whether it’s a bacon burger with a side of cheese fries; pepperoni pizza and beer or even a couple of those large, frosty coffee drinks, we all deserve to splurge once in awhile. They key is to make sure those treats stay in their own “special occasion” category. The key is to keep it all in check, and know one good workout and one day of healthy eating is all you need to get right back on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Small Victories

VictoryOn this Motivation Monday, I hope to quash some of the negativity that tries to sabotage your plans on the windy road to health and wellness.

Monday has the unfortunate stigma of being the least favorite day of the week. However, it’s also the springboard allowing us to start fresh on so many levels. First and foremost, it’s time to forget what didn’t happen last week. Maybe you didn’t get to the gym as many times as you planned. Don’t sweat it. Instead, celebrate the fact that you did get there at some point. Even if you didn’t, pat yourself on the back for the times you:

  • Took the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Added a few more steps to walk from the parking lot to your office building by parking the car further from the entrance
  • Carried some extra bundles and/or your kid up the stairs without stopping to rest

The same goes for eating. Okay, so you had a little more wine than you wanted over the weekend. However, you ordered the grilled fish instead of a cheese-covered entrée to go with that wine. That’s a win. Maybe you indulged in dessert, but did you share it? If so, you found a way to cut down on some of the decadent calories. Remember, healthy habits take time to take root in our often all-too comfortable routines. So instead of beating yourself for what you didn’t do, feel empowered by the better decisions you did make.

Finally, don’t be shy about rewarding yourself for those little victories. Perhaps you set a goal to stay away from the wine this work week and make a date to enjoy an extra good glass with a gal pal next weekend. That way, you get to savor the flavor and enjoy the wonderful wellness booster known as laughter and good conversation. And what better way to reward yourself for making it to one extra group exercise class than with a new tank top or other fun workout wear?

Remember, just like other good deeds, taking care of your body and your mind should be recognized and rewarded. Celebrate your small victories because before you know it, they’ll add up to healthy lifestyle changes in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Special Workout Wednesday Team Effort

One favorite you'll always find in my fridge!

One favorite you’ll always find in my fridge!

I hope everyone’s enjoying this first Workout Wednesday in October! With the mercury rising into the 80s today here in New York City today, I wish I was at the beach but I’ll gladly take the sunshine!

I returned from my morning cardio session to find a link ready to share to my guest appearance on another website today. Robin Plotkin is a registered dietitian,  nutrition expert and creator of RobinsBite.com. She lives in Dallas, TX and after meeting in Cyberspace through the land of Twitter, she asked me to share my food buying and eating habits to be featured in her “Inside the Fridge” series.  Click here to read my guest post.

I close with a big thank you to Robin for the opportunity to appear on her website and a wish for all of you to use the new month as a time to add some new healthy habits to your lifestyle so you can continue on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fast Friday Food Facts

A little prep goes a long way!

I end this week addressing one of the questions I get on a near-daily basis: “How can I make some simple changes and cut a few calories out of my daily diet?”

If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, you probably already know making that happen doesn’t take a degree in rocket science. You need to burn more calories than you take in. In all of my food-related posts, I make a point of reminding my readers that I’m not a licensed nutritionist or registered dietitian. However, I’m happy to share the “tricks” that help keep my healthy eating habits in tact. So, here are five ways you can cut 100 calories out of your diet at different times of the day:

  1. Use skim milk in your morning cup of java.
  2. Swap out that bulky bagel for a whole wheat English muffin.
  3. Top off that English muffin with egg whites.
  4. Use mustard instead of mayo.
  5. Ditch the chips and pop a 100-calorie bag of popcorn into the microwave instead.

You may be saying, “Okay, Laura, these are no-brainers.” Well, that’s the point. Making several small changes throughout the day really does add up over time.  Add some exercise to these food “fixes,” and you’ll have a great foundation to get started on the path to a healthier you. Trust me, once you start noticing the positive changes, whether it’s your jeans feeling a little looser or having more energy walking up that flight of stairs, you’ll want to make the changes stick.

If you’d like to share some of the small but healthy changes in your own diet, I’d love to hear from you! Sharing information is one of the best ways to help each other keep moving along this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friday’s Food for Thought: Back-to-School Edition

We all survived the post-Labor Day back-to-school, back-to-the-grind work week!

I wrap up this fitting-fitness-into-your-fall-schedule-themed week with some simple reminders about how to get your healthy eating habits back on track. Remember, diet and exercise go hand in hand. If you want your body to perform at its best, you need to give it the right fuel.

As a happy follower of the everything-in-moderation lifestyle, none of my “diet tricks” involve extremes:

  1. A Little Prep Goes A Long Way: Every weekend, I stock up on easy-to-chop or no-chop-needed produce like baby carrots, celery, peppers and cherry tomatoes. At some point on Sunday, I pack up five ready-to-grab containers and so I have no excuse for not having veggies with my lunch every day at work. Same goes for fruits. I chop strawberries and bring a large container to work on Monday and divvy out portions each morning with non-fat plain Greek yogurt and high fiber cereal. Add a pre-workout banana, and this all adds up to a no-brainer approach to getting multiple servings of fruits and veggies during the day!
  2. Take the guesswork out of staying hydrated: Save your dollars and the planet by stocking up on a few reusable water bottles. Keep one in your backpack, briefcase, purse, gym bag and/or at the office. Reports differ on how much water each individual needs, but the general rule is eight, eight-ounce  glasses each day. I keep a 16-ounce water bottle in my office and I fill it at least three times while I’m at work. So, between my post-work workout and at least one glass of water with dinner, I hit my daily intake without even thinking about it.
  3. Don’t wait until you’re famished to eat: I have to eat every 3-4 hours or I get sluggish. I also make sure to eat a snack about an hour before my workout so you don’t burn out too quickly. My new favorite pre-workout snack is a chopped medley of one banana and three or four pineapple strips. I enjoy the mix with a side of string cheese and big glass of water.
  4. Keep healthy snacks handy: There are few places I’ll go without a Fiber One bar or some raw almonds. If you find yourself sans snack, chew on a piece of gum or have a glass of water to take the edge off before scarfing down something less healthy.
  5. Be realistic: When a craving gnaws at you, it’s not always a bad thing to give into it. Ignoring a guilty pleasure for too long can end up being worse. It’s amazing how the desire for one cupcake on Monday can turn into inhaling a colossal sized one meant for four people to share by Friday.

I leave you with this final thought: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are times I simply don’t want to workout and all I want to do is drink red wine and eat chocolate. It happens. Don’t let one bad day throw you off course. Just wipe off the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Friendly Friday

TGIF!

I end this work week with a heartfelt thank you to all of you who make the journey here at LauraLovesFitness so much fun. I still can’t believe it’s been a little more than a year since this blog was “born!” Remember, it’s your comments and questions that motivate me to keep going!

Today, I must give a special shout-out to JoAnn, the woman behind RoundtoRavishing. JoAnn nominated me for a One Lovely Blog Award along with The Very Inspiring Blogger award. Be sure to check out her inspiring site that describes her journey to living a healthy life!

I’m grateful to accept these awards and happy to fulfill the obligations that come with them. Here’s how it works:

1. Display award logo: Done.

2. Link who nominated me: Here’s another link to RoundtoRavishing

3. Seven things about myself:

1. I exercise to stay sane.

2. I also exercise because I love red wine, Prosecco, pasta and chocolate.

3. My first job in television was working as the morning live reporter at WLFI-TV in Lafayette, Indiana.

4. My most embarrassing moment at that job: being spit on by an angry mama llama at the zoo on live TV while introducing her new baby to our morning viewers.

5. I am an only child.

6. I am a bona fide beach bunny, but am far more careful about my sun exposure today than when I was in my teens and 20s.

7. I am a die-hard Yankees fan.

4. Nominate 15 other blogs: Toughest part of this process as there are many wonderful bloggers to choose from:

  1. IEatThereforeITrain
  2. Physical Funness for the Motion Starved
  3. TheExerciseSpace
  4. CrazedInTheKitchen
  5. OntheRoadtoAll50
  6. The Foodery
  7. RedFoxFitness
  8. TheListProducer
  9. Mamaquest
  10. FitnessInTheCity
  11. LivePassionatelyTonight
  12. OnlyHereOnlyNow
  13. TheCustomerServiceRevolution
  14. ModNutrition
  15. I’dRatherWalk

5. Notify my nominees: I will work on that now…and wish everyone a weekend filled with plenty of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Food & Fitness

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the experts when it comes to healthy eating. I am neither, but as part of the fitness industry, I get plenty of questions about what people should and shouldn’t eat.  So, in order to address this topic early in my blogging adventures, here’s a 100% personal account of how I try to maintain a healthy diet.

I joined Weight Watchers in May 2007. Why? Because the post-divorce “diet” I started which included a dinner of half-a-jar of peanut butter with chocolate syrup and a side of vodka on ice was not a healthy regimen to maintain. Also, being in my 30s, I couldn’t rely on the workouts I started during my Northwestern days to counterbalance the bad food choices I was making too often.  Aside from worrying about gaining weight, I felt absolutely awful.

Today, I am a lifetime Weight Watchers member. I continue to go to meetings when I can and the program works for my lifestyle. Again, for me, it was not about losing a lot of weight, it was about learning to eat better.  I’m not here to offer a lesson about point values and food.  Instead, here’s a snapshot of what I’ve learned that helps me stay on track.

  • I never skip breakfast. During the work week, I’ll make my own parfait with non-fat plain Greek yogurt, sliced banana, strawberries or blueberries (there’s two – three servings of fruit for the day!) and a serving of high-fiber cereal.
  • Instead of having three big meals, I eat every three to four hours. This prevents me from being so hungry that I go overboard at the next meal.
  • Every Sunday, I spend 30-60 minutes chopping red peppers and celery and pack up the sticks up with baby carrots or cherry tomatoes in individual containers, one for each day of the week.  It’s an easy way to get in two servings of veggies while sitting at my desk. (The idea works just as well if you’re home.)
  • I have embraced whole grains! I like Weight Watchers breads for sandwiches, cook whole grain pasta at home and on “bad”nights when we order Chinese or burritos, we ask for brown rice.
  • Finally, I refuse to say “I will never eat (a fudge-covered Oreo/a bacon cheeseburger/lasagna) ever again!” First of all, life’s too short.  Second, in my experience, the longer you deny yourself something you really like, the better chance you have of over-indulging when you do finally “break down.”

Life's Short - Eat Dessert!

Now listen, I have my fair share of “bad food” days. I love dessert, especially chocolate, and I love Prosecco and red wine. But one bad day doesn’t have to mean “well, I blew it today, so I may as well throw the whole week out the window and start over on Monday.” On the contrary, every day offers a clean slate and a brand new chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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