Beating Exercise Excuses

You know by now that exercise is essential for good health, disease prevention, and for a slim waistline. In fact, there are so many benefits that it doesn’t make any sense not to exercise!

Yet (admit it) you may still have a list of excuses that you use to avoid it.

Here are some of the most common excuses (I know I have used them), and tactics to overcome them:

Excuse #1: I don’t have time.

This is probably the most common excuse for not getting exercise, but not really true. We make time to eat, to pay our bills, to run errands, and to watch our favorite shows. Exercise should become a habit, just like all of the others things you do for yourself. Those who exercise regularly simply make it a priority.

If you can’t get to a gym, exercise while you are watching your favorite 30-minute sitcom. Take part of your lunch break from work and go for a walk. Or, go for a bike ride before dinner. Remember, every little bit counts!

Excuse #2: I don’t know how to start.

You may be intimated by going to the gym, or taking classes (lot’s of us are). It can feel overwhelming if you have never exercised and aren’t sure where to begin, but this is no reason not to start. Anything that gets you moving is a great start. I am personally a huge fan of walking…it can be done almost anytime and anywhere. You can exercise in the comfort of your home, at the gym, in a rec center, or in the great outdoors. Consider activities that you enjoy and use these as inspiration to get moving.

Excuse #3: I’m too tired.

One of the great things about exercising is that it actually boosts your energy. We all have busy lives, but committing to fitness improves health, prevents disease, boosts mood, and even improves sleep (which will make you less tired!). If you are too tired at the end of the day, try working out first thing in the morning. Or simply find a time that works and promise yourself (no matter how tired you are) that you will work out for at least 10 minutes. More often than not, you will feel better once you get going and will decide to go for a bit longer. If not, you will have at least gotten in 10 minutes rather than none.

Don’t forget, exercise is one of the greatest investments that you can make in yourself!

Want to look up more tips on healthy lifestyle? Visit http://www.wulongforlife.com/

4 Ways To Eat Less Without Feeling Hungry

Being on a diet does not mean that you should feel hungry all the time.

And really, how can you stick with it if you are starving?

If you are trying to cut back and have been fighting hunger pangs, try these great tricks to help you feel fuller for longer:

Eat more often

It may sound too good to be true, but eating smaller meals more frequently is one of the best tricks for weight loss! Eating at regular intervals throughout the course of your day will help to regulate insulin levels and keep your blood sugar from crashing – this means less of the hunger pangs and cravings that can derail you from making good choices.

Also, be sure to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast every day. Your breakfast can set the tone for the whole day, keep your energy up, and help you stay on track.

Eat more fiber

Getting more fiber in your diet is a great way to help you feel full on fewer calories. First of all, fiber adds more bulk to foods and this helps to fill up your stomach. Secondly, fiber also slows down the digestive process, so your feeling of fullness can last slightly longer. Bonus: fiber also lowers cholesterol and controls blood sugar!

Some great high fiber foods are vegetables, beans, bran, and whole grains.

Drink more water

The truth is that your stomach will send out signals that it is full regardless of what is filling it. Water is the perfect diet companion. It has zero calories, but takes up a lot space in your stomach and this creates a feeling of fullness. Research even shows that people who drank two glasses of water before meals ate fewer calories and lost more weight than those who didn’t.

This trick also works with food. Foods with a higher water content will make you feel more full. Try snacking on some grapes, lettuce, tomatoes, or cucumbers.

Be sure to get enough protein

Protein breaks down more slowly than carbohydrates, which means that it can keep you feeling satiated longer. So make sure that you incorporate some lean protein into your meals and snacks to keep your hunger at bay.

Have an egg with your breakfast, snack on a handful of almonds, and enjoy a portion of lean meat with your dinner.

Want to look up more tips on healthy eating? Visit http://www.wulongforlife.com/

Ditch Your Diet

a different view of dieting

I know that this probably sounds crazy to you, but refusing to “diet” may just be the best way to actually lose weight.

The term “diet” immediately conjures up images of bland food, naked lettuce leaves, and a general sense of misery. Now consider it: if the word makes you feel this way, how can you actually succeed at “dieting”?

I think it is time to stop using this dirty word and to change the way that we think once and for all.

The truth is that very few diets ever work in the long term. They are also associated with a fear of failure, poor body image, and other emotional problems.

Here are a few tips to change the way that you think, and change your life for the better:

Stop beating yourself up:

Diets put us into an “all or nothing” frame of mind. This means that if you have a bad day, or give in to temptation, you will beat yourself up about it (I know I have). This does you no good. Try to go through an entire day without saying or thinking anything negative about yourself. If you catch yourself being negative, stop and immediately give yourself a compliment instead.

Would you expect anyone to be successful if you constantly put them down? Well the same goes for the things that we say to ourselves.

Take your own advice:

If you have a bunch of unread diet books sitting around, get rid of them. The same goes for any of the fad diets that your coworkers or acquaintances are constantly encouraging you to try. Instead, educate yourself about healthy eating, managing stress, and getting exercise, and create your own “get healthy” plan.  Then treat yourself to a trip to the local farmers market, or go buy a cookbook filled with healthy recipes (instead of another diet book).

Don’t set yourself up for failure:

It is very important to be realistic. Drastic weight loss is not healthy, and you aren’t being fair to yourself if you set unreasonable goals. This is another place to change your thinking. Instead of deciding that you must lose 6 pounds in the next two weeks, try declaring that you will go for a 30-minute walk every other day for the next two weeks. Or that you will try to only have healthy snacks.

Make well being your priority:

Losing weight may be important to you (and this is great), but realize that being healthy goes so far beyond the size of your waistline. Making healthy food choices, and getting fit can improve every aspect of your life, physically and emotionally. It should not be a constant struggle or something that you dread. Try to think of it as an exciting challenge, a new adventure, and an investment in yourself. And what could be more important than that?

Healthy Sweet Treats

Eating healthy does not have to mean that sweet treats are completely forbidden – what fun would that be? Just look for low calorie or low sugar options and enjoy (in moderation, of course).

The following are a couple of my favorite dessert recipes. They are healthier than most, and great for satisfying any sweet tooth.

Chocolate Tofu Pie:

I realize that tofu may seem like a bad word to you. But (trust me) this recipe is a chocoholics dream, and no one will know that it has tofu in it!

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (12 oz) block of silken tofu, drained and chopped

¼ cup coffee or coffee liqueur

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

1 premade graham cracker pie crust

Fresh fruit to garnish (optional)

Preparation:

Melt the chocolate chips (carefully) in the microwave or stovetop in a metal bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water.

Blend together melted chocolate, chopped tofu, coffee, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours, or until set.

Garnish with fruit and enjoy!

Baked Cinnamon Apples:

These are a perfect warm treat on a cool fall night, and the scent of sweet cinnamon will fill the house.

Ingredients:

4 baking apples, peeled and cored

¼ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Apple cider

Preparation:

Core the apples and place upright into a baking dish. Put an equal amount of brown sugar, cinnamon, and a small pat of butter into the core of each apple. Pour apple cider into the baking dish until about ¼ inch deep. Bake apples, uncovered, in a 375-degree oven until tender (around 30 minutes depending on size). Baste with the cider liquid a couple of times while baking.

Healthy Holiday Primer

It is the time of year when the days are getting shorter, the air takes on a chill, and suddenly the holidays are quickly approaching.

The next few months will be filled with family gatherings, dinners, and holiday parties of all kinds.

So, how do you negotiate this season of festivity without compromising your healthy habits (and your waist line)?

Find balance:

This might be the most important tip. It is easy to decide to just give up on healthy habits during the holidays, and hope to make up for it later. Instead, try and stay on track as much as possible, and allow that there will be certain times that you may indulge a bit (pumpkin pie for breakfast?).

Moderation not deprivation:

This is one of my favorite phrases. A diet won’t ever succeed if you feel like you are depriving yourself, and how fun is a holiday party if you only allow yourself to eat celery sticks? Find a recipe for a healthy dip or side dish that you can contribute, and then allow yourself one pass at the buffet to try a little bit of the other offerings. When you are done, toss your plate to keep you from being tempted to go for seconds (or thirds).

Don’t starve yourself beforehand:

You may think that starving yourself all day before a holiday gathering can “buy you” extra calories for later, but this just isn’t true. The best thing that you can do is eat a healthy breakfast and lunch just as you normally would. If you skip eating before a party, you are much more likely to overindulge and to make poor choices.

Beware of your beverage choices:

Hot chocolate, hot toddy’s, and eggnog, oh my! Holiday drinks can be just as dangerous to your diet as the food. Avoid these extra rich, calorie-laden drinks and look for healthier options. Try making spritzers with soda water and a splash of juice. Or, trying making some homemade apple cider with no-sugar added apple juice mulled with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange slices.

Plan some fun:

Of course food is a big part of the focus, but try adding in some fun and creative activities. Create a scavenger hunt, bring on the board or other games (twister, anyone?), or get outside and play some flag football before dinner. These will add to the fun for everyone!

Breathe and enjoy:

More than anything else, try to let the holidays be a time of joy. It can be too easy to get caught up in shopping, planning, and scheduling. Be sure to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, find time for exercise, and don’t let stress derail you from you goals!

5 Habits of Fit People

habits of fit people

Fitness is essential to a healthy lifestyle. And exercise is one of the best ways to keep you trim, strong, and full of energy.

All of these benefits are yours for the taking, and it is never too late to get started.

Here are a few bits of wisdom from those who have made fitness a part of their lives:

Forget “no pain, no gain”:

This tired old phrase is absolutely untrue, and yet you may still have this perception of exercise. A good workout should challenge you and get your heart pumping, but it should never be painful. There are people who love working out and spend an hour or two in the gym every day, but this is not ideal (or realistic) for the rest of us. If you push yourself too far it can lead to burn out, or possible injury. Instead, aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days per week.

Change up your routine:

One of the best habits of fit people is to mix it up their workout routine. This is great for a number of reasons. First, adding some variety into your routine keeps you from getting bored (treadmill again?) and giving up. Secondly, our bodies respond better to exercise when we challenge them in new ways. So, try something new (Pilates, yoga, boxing, Zumba) it will challenge your mind and your body.

Share your goals:

Sharing your fitness goals with others is another terrific way to help keep you on track. When you let your friends or family know your plans and goals, it creates a support system for you, and can also help to keep you accountable. So, be sure to share with others…or, (even better) try recruiting a friend or family member to get fit with you!

Look at the big picture:

Losing weight is one reason to get fit, but is definitely not the only one. Regular physical activity can vastly improve (or even prevent) health issues including arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. It is also great for boosting your mood and relieving stress and depression. Personally, I like to think that working out is great because it makes me feel good (with the added bonus of making me look good).

Make fitness a priority:

This habit is the ultimate key. It is all too easy to make your work, family, errands, chores, and everything else a priority and to let exercise somehow disappear from the list. However, most fit people are fit simply because they make it a priority. Try to shift your thinking about exercise…realize that is time that you are dedicating to taking care of yourself (and what is more important than that?). It will make you healthier, happier, and improve your waistline!

Eat The Rainbow

Variety is the spice of life.

This old adage is true in so many parts of our lives, and should also be true when it comes to what we eat.

One of the best tips for healthy eating is “to eat the rainbow.” This means that you should incorporate a variety of different colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet. This will not only help you to lose weight and keep you from getting bored with the same old thing; increasing fruit and vegetable intake will also reduce your risk for chronic disease.

Green:

This is likely the group that we are most aware of as being healthy. The powerhouse of this group is green leafy vegetables (spinach and kale). These are nutrient dense, rich in antioxidants, and many of them contain a good dose of calcium. The cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, etc) also help to protect the body from some types of cancer. Try: artichokes, asparagus, avocado, brussell sprouts, green grapes, limes, scallions, peas, and zucchini.

Blue:

The rich color of blue and purple found in some foods is the product of a group of antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These anthocyanins are known to prevent cellular damage, and may help to reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Additionally, there is research that they also may help to improve memory function and support healthy aging. The best in this bunch is blueberries, but there are also blackberries, figs, eggplant, plums, prunes, grapes, and raisins.

Orange and yellow:

Most of these brightly colored fruits and vegetables derive there coloring from plants pigments known as carotenoids (beta-carotene being the most familiar). Beta-carotene is converted in the body into vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. Carotenoids also reduce cancer risk, and can support the immune system.  There are a lot of options in this category. A few of the best are sweet potatoes, oranges, apricots, carrots, pumpkin, and squash.

Red:

Red fruit and vegetables obtain their rosy hue either from lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon, papayas) or from anthocyanins (raspberries, strawberries, and red grapes). Lycopene is a know cancer fighter, and is especially great for helping to prevent prostate cancer. The anthocyanins are cell protectors. Other red foods are: beets, red cabbage, cranberries, cherries, and pomegranates.

White:

The white coloring of the members of this group comes from anthoxanthins. Garlic contains high amounts of allicin, which can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Also, recent studies have shown that regularly consuming foods from this color group may have the best effect for reducing the risk of stroke in the long term. Try: apples, pears, onions, cauliflower, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips.

Fitness on a Budget

A gym membership is a great thing to have if you can afford it. However, times are tough right now, and a lot of us have to think carefully about how we spend our money.

Luckily, there are a vast number of ways to get fit with minimal or no cost at all. Try some of these tips for fitness on a budget to get you going…

Workout at home:

Pick a couple of affordable workout videos from the store, (or even check them out from the library), and get started with living room workouts. Also, if you have cable, there are a number of free workout classes offered through ExeciseTV. The added bonus of doing it at home is that you can workout at whatever time fits your schedule.

Get Outside:

Most of my favorite “workouts” involve being outside. Walking is one of the best outdoor activities. Get to a local park and enjoy the scenery as you walk around, or step it up and find a good hiking trail. Ride your bike to work if you can, or just go for a ride and explore the neighborhood. If you want to do something different, most parks offer tennis and basketball courts…all you need is a little bit of equipment and a friend.

Check out the rec center:

Most cities have a lot of neighborhood recreation centers. Look up the one nearest you and find out what they have to offer. A lot of them have indoor pools, basketball courts, and even small gyms complete with cardio and weight machines. They also offer classes ranging from aerobics to yoga. There will be membership fees, but these are minimal compared to a regular gym.

Choose inexpensive gear:

There is a lot of fitness gear that is multi-purpose, but not very expensive. Dumbbells are great for strength training and can be found at most major department stores for not a lot of money (they will also last forever). Exercise balls can be incorporated into a lot of exercises, and most of them run somewhere between $20-$50. Or, try resistance bands. They are inexpensive, easily portable and can be used to work every muscle group.

Use your body:

If the idea of videos or TV courses isn’t your style, create your own workout routine using nothing but your body. Turn on some great music and dedicate 30 minutes each day to performing a series of squats, lunges, sit ups, push ups, or other exercises. Make sure that you challenge yourself and perform each exercise in sets. For a cardio workout, you can do jumping jacks, running in place, or even dancing to the beat.

Surf the web:

The Internet has a vast number of resources to help you out. If you spend a little bit of time looking you can find workout databases, exercise inspiration, and even free email courses.

Delicious (and healthy) Dips

Fall has finally arrived, and this often means busy schedules and lot of events that require us to bring something edible along.

Whether this means a school function, weekend tailgating, or a dinner party, these recipes offer you simple and healthy options that are sure to please a crowd. (Bonus: They can all be made the night before!)

 

Black Bean Dip:

2 cans black beans, drained

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons of hot sauce (or your favorite salsa)

1 tablespoon cumin

A squeeze of limejuice

Salt to taste

Add the onions, garlic, and cilantro into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in remaining ingredients and puree to desired consistency. Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

Tzatziki:

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

A squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle cucumber with a bit of salt and let stand for 30 minutes on a layer of paper towels (this help to draw out the extra water).  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let chill for at least one hour before serving. Perfect with pita chips and veggies!

Red Pepper Feta Dip:

1 pound of feta cheese

¼ cup olive oil

1 jar (6oz) of roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

¼ teaspoon cayenne

¼ teaspoon black pepper

A squeeze of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Enjoy with vegetables or warm pita triangles.

Want to look up more tips on healthy eating? Visit http://www.wulongforlife.com/.

Weight Loss Pitfalls to Avoid

Losing weight takes effort and planning, but it should be something that you look at in a positive way. Realize that improving your eating habits can change not only your waistline, but is also a great investment in your overall health and wellbeing.

The following is a list of pitfalls to be aware of as your begin your weight loss journey:

Using the “d” word:

I think that “diet” is a bit of a dirty word. Say it to someone and more often than not it elicits feelings of fear and misery, rather than thoughts of positive change. If the word diet makes you cringe, change your frame of mind. Think of it as getting healthy, and making changes that will make you feel better and look better.

Being too restrictive:

Many people feel that they must completely give up everything they love if they want to lose weight. However, it is very difficult to succeed if a diet is too restrictive. And who wants to eat nothing but salad or grapefruits for months on end? Don’t try for an all-or-nothing approach. Instead, make a series of changes that you can live with in the long term. 

Having unrealistic expectations:

This can be a tough one for a lot of us. The truth is that weight loss is a process: it cannot (and should not) be achieved overnight. Any fad diets or products that promise a lot of weight lost in a short amount of time are unrealistic, unsustainable, or potentially dangerous. If you set realistic goals and make smart choices, you will lose weight and be able to stick with it.

Not being accountable:

Not all of us are aware of the little things we may do that can sabotage our weight loss efforts (donuts in the break room, or cleaning your kids plates for them). Many people can’t even recall what they have eaten in the last couple of days. One way to be more accountable is to get a good scale and be sure to weigh yourself once each week. The other is to keep a food diary. Record what you eat and drink each day and how you are feeling. It will help you to be aware of your habits, and to track your progress.

Getting discouraged:

None of us can be perfect all of the time. Inevitably we will all have bad days or minor setbacks in our weight loss journey. The key is not to let it completely derail you. If you overindulge, or skip exercising for a couple of days, don’t let it defeat you. Instead, acknowledge that you slipped, refuse to beat yourself up about it, and get back on track. 

Making weight loss a chore:

See if you can begin to change your thinking. Weight loss shouldn’t be a process that you dread, or another cause for stress in your life. Start to think about it as a way to change your life for the better. Better yet, make it into an adventure: try new recipes, find fun outdoor activities, and get your family and friends involved.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary.