Using More Herbs and Less Salt

August 29th is more herbs, less salt day. This day helps us to realize that there are other ways to make food flavorful without loading it with salt and salt additives. Less than a tenth of Americans consume the right amount of sodium in a day. Processed food accounts for our high salt intake and many of us add more salt in the cooking process. Swap the salt shaker and try these fresh herbs for a new, healthier flavor profile.

herbs-01

Nothing beats the smell of fresh basil especially fresh from the garden. This herb is one of the easier ones to grow in a garden as well. You can pluck the leaves as they are ready and put them directly on top of dishes for a finishing touch. It has a peppery, minty taste with a touch of sweetness. You can also try making your own fresh basil pesto to use as a sauce for many dishes or to just have on hand.

Basil Recipe:
http://lowsodiumblog.com/2011/05/basil-pesto-recipe/?_ziplist=disable

 

herbs-03

Garlic is an anti-inflammatory herb that makes food smell and taste delicious. Adding a bit of onion and fresh garlic to a meal gives it the savory taste similar to salt. Try lightly sautéing the garlic to add to hot dishes or mincing it up to add into marinades for meat.

Galic Recipe:
http://greatist.com/health/healthy-garlic-recipes

 

herbs-04

Although some people have a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, it is a widely used fresh herb in many Mexican dishes.  Cilantro can have citrusy notes and it is best chopped up fresh and thrown right into the dish or used as topping.  Try it as your next taco topping instead of using your regular taco seasoning.

Cilantro Recipe:
http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001713088,00.html

 

herbs-02

Chives tend to look like blades of grass with little bulbs at the end. They are less potent than regular onions but still give the dish a fresh oniony taste. They are also great as a garnish and are good baked into dishes such as baked egg casseroles. You can also get dried chives that last a little longer in the pantry with a similar taste.

Chive Recipe:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/almond-chive-salmon

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Workout: Park Bench Circuit

Try this quick and easy workout that is perfect to do while watching your kids play at the park, as a warm-up or cool-down to your daily outdoor run or just whenever you pass a park bench. All you need is a sturdy bench or chair. Complete 10-20 repetitions of each exercise and cycle through 1-3 sets of each exercise depending on your fitness level.

 

1 | Bench Hops or Step-ups

Facing the bench, jump from the ground to the seat of the bench, landing with both feet on the bench at the same time and then jump back down to the ground.

bench hops
Modification: For lower impact, simply step up from the ground to the seat of the bench until you are standing with both feet on the bench seat. Then step back down to the ground one foot at a time.

2 | Mountain Climbers

Facing the bench, place your hands on the seat of the bench with arms straight, shoulder width apart and feet on the ground so your body is straight but slanting down. Then, quickly alternate tucking one knee to your chest in an exaggerated running motion like you are running up a mountain.

Modification: Rather than running in motion, bring one knee up to your chest at a time, hold it there for 3 seconds and then return it to the ground and repeat with the opposite leg.
Modification: Rather than running in motion, bring one knee up to your chest at a time, hold it there for 3 seconds and then return it to the ground and repeat with the opposite leg.

 

3 | Tricep Dips

Facing away from the bench, place your hands on the edge of the bench seat behind you to support your body weight (your bottom will not rest on the seat for this exercise). Extend your legs out in front of you with your heels are on the ground. Bend your arms to a 90 degree angle so your bottom dips below the bench and then push back up.

Modification: Bend your legs for an easier alternative. The closer to 90 degrees that you bend your legs the easier the exercise will become.
Modification: Bend your legs for an easier alternative. The closer to 90 degrees that you bend your legs the easier the exercise will become.

 

4 | Pushups

Place your hands on the seat of the bench with straight arms positioned slightly wider than your shoulders and feet on the ground and angle your body so it is straight. Bend arms until they reach 90 degrees and then push back up. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the entire motion.

Modification: Use the back rest of the bench as a higher support for an easier pushup. For a more difficult pushup try a decline pushup by placing your feet on the bench seat and your hands on the ground.
Modification: Use the back rest of the bench as a higher support for an easier pushup. For a more difficult pushup try a decline pushup by placing your feet on the bench seat and your hands on the ground.

 

5 | Lunges

Standing about three feet in front of the bench and facing away, place the toes of your left foot on the seat of the bench behind you so there is a slight bend in your left leg. Make sure your right leg is approximately one foot in front of your body and bend your right leg until it reaches a 90 degree angle then stand back up. Do all reps with one leg before you switch.

Modification: Ditch the bench and perform your lunge on the ground. Hold onto the bench for more stability.
Modification: Ditch the bench and perform your lunge on the ground. Hold onto the bench for more stability.

 

6 | Squats

Standing about one foot in front of the bench and facing away from it, position your legs approximately shoulder width apart and bend both legs simultaneously like you are going to sit down on the bench. Let your bottom just slightly touch the bench before you stand back up. The bench serves the purpose as a guide for how far to squat down.

Modification: You may sit down on the bench between each rep if needed. If you want to make these more difficult, try doing one legged squats with the other leg pointed out in front of you.
Modification: You may sit down on the bench between each rep if needed. If you want to make these more difficult, try doing one legged squats with the other leg pointed out in front of you.

 

7 | Leg Raises

Lay down on the bench long ways with your bottom just at the edge and your legs hanging off the side. Raise your legs so they are in line with your body. Lift your legs together approximately one foot and then lower them back down to level with your body.

a.Modification: To make it easier, sit with your bottom in the middle of the bench so your legs have some support from the bench as well. Use the bench as a light rest for your legs in between each rep. I this is still too difficult, try lifting one leg at a time.
a. Modification: To make it easier, sit with your bottom in the middle of the bench so your legs have some support from the bench as well. Use the bench as a light rest for your legs in between each rep. I this is still too difficult, try lifting one leg at a time.

 

8 | Seated Crunches

Lay extended long ways on the bench. Performing a crunch motion, pull your legs into your chest, then return to starting, extended position.

crunch
Modification: Let your legs rest on the bench and perform the exercise with just your upper body, lowering your back until a few inches before it reaches the bench.

A Calorie is a Calorie IS a Calorie…or is it?

Many fad diets and outdated studies have suggested that all calories are created equal and that in order to manage weight loss, counting calories is the simple solution to the problem. What this equation has failed to include is that not all calories are actually treated equally in the body. In fact, depending on the macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein), and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber) in a given food, the body will actually digest at different rates. This ultimately will determine how much work the body has to exert to digest the food, as well as, how long food is stored in the body and will ultimately be converted into fat for storage.

While it’s true that all calories do have the same amount of energy (think: fuel), the complex nature of the body’s processes do not see it this simply. Rather, it is important to know that different foods will actually undergo different biochemical pathways to use these calories efficiently. Even the smallest of nutrients in a food impacts the body’s hormonal and brain centers, where the body’s digestive and metabolizing roadmaps are housed.

Here are some ways to use calories to your advantage:

Focus on Fiber

Fiber not only helps to bind to toxins stored in your digestive tract and flush them from your system, but it also helps to slow down the digestion and absorption of other foods such as refined sugars, which are quickly absorbed into the blood stream and in excess amounts, contribute to fat storage and weight gain. While many of us assume that drinking a cup of apple juice has the same benefit as eating a whole apple, this isn’t necessarily true. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have compared the two and note that, “as a food changes form, its fiber content may change, too,” noting how a whole apple has about 4 grams of fiber, compared to the more refined apple juice with only about 2 grams of fiber. Their recommendation: “Enjoy the health benefits of applesauce and apple juice but for the most fiber, go straight to the source—the entire apple!”

Calorie Comparison-01

Don’t Fear the Fats

Generations ago, the health industry raved about how low-fat/no-fat diets are the key to losing weight, preventing heart disease, and mitigating a whole host of health conditions. The problem with this, we soon learned, is that our bodies actually need certain fats and that this tasty ingredient isn’t necessarily the sole reason for our expanding waistlines or ailing hearts! You likely hear facts about how some fats are healthful and others, detrimental. Did you know that fats also play another role in our health? They slow digestion and the absorption of high-calorie foods, especially those that are nourishing—polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acid-containing. Some of these fats include those found in nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, coconut, and even lean meats. Consumed moderately, these fatty foods provide protective and inflammatory modulating factors. So when we look to compare fatty foods and how they help or harm our health, aim for moderate amounts from those abundantly nourishing foods listed above!

Serving Sizes—Sized Up

When you fill up on processed and unhealthier food choices, you might notice that you often struggle to feel satisfied. Maybe you even overeat in order to attempt to reach that point of satiation in your meal, but instead end up overeating because of this failed attempt! Caught in this struggle is something that many folks face even in a daily basis. The best way to overcome this struggle and to avoid overeating is to instead, fill up your servings with nutrient-dense foods. This means, opt for foods that are abundant in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, high-quality protein, and fiber. Without a doubt, you’ll feel full sooner and satisfied for longer! To show the impact of poor versus good food choices, take a look at the example below. Notice how an evening at a local pizza joint can quickly leave you with excessive amounts of calories, fats, and processed carbohydrates, without sufficient fiber and a notable lack of the vitamins and minerals your body yearns for. On the other hand, see the second option, whereby you can actually see MORE options included in the meal, but with substantially LESS calories and fat, with more fiber and variety.  Let this be a reminder at the impact that processed and high-calorie foods can have on you the next time you opt for dining out—or in!

OPTION 1

2 slices of pizza (pepperoni with cheese); 6 hot chicken wings; 1 large Coca-Cola (12 oz)

Calories Fat (g) Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fiber (g)
Pizza 430 18 16 50 2
Chicken Wings 300 19.5 25.5 7.5 1.5
Coca-Cola 143 0 0 39.9 0
TOTAL 873 37.5 41.5 97.4 3.5

 

OPTION 2

1 turkey wrap (lettuce, mustard, tomato); baked butternut squash (1 cup) (sprinkled with olive oil, paprika and parmesan cheese); fresh fruit salad (1/2 cup) with Greek yogurt (1/2 cup- plain; low-fat); 1 large unsweetened sparkling water with lime

Calories Fat (g) Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fiber (g)
Turkey Wrap 354 4.5 28.7 45.8 4.2
Butternut Squash 147 7.8 2.3 21.5 2.1
Fresh Fruit Salad 98 0 1 24 1
Greek Yogurt 130 3 17 7 0
Sparkling Water 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 729 14.8 33.7 98.3 7.3

 

The Bottom Line

Are all calories the same? Simply put, yes AND no. They do have the same energy when it comes to fueling your body, regardless of how these are consumed. Weight is gained through consuming excess calories, yes, but the WAY your body utilizes these calories varies. This is based on the amount of high-quality macro- and micronutrients in the food itself. Focusing on healthful fats and fiber plays a key role in slowing the digestion and provides lower calorie options in place of over processed food products that often wreck havoc when over-consumed.

Reference:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Apples or Apple Juice. Retrieve August 12, 2016. Accessed from:                 http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/apples-or-apple-juice

Olympic Motivation

Every four years, we all gather around to watch the best of the best from across the world compete for gold and the chance to represent their country. Athletes put their blood, sweat, tears and years and years of practice into turning their dreams into reality. But what does this time mean for those of us not in the Olympics? We can watch the Olympics and get inspired and motivated by these athletes to want to work on our own goals. While watching the summer Olympics, we can take away some Olympic ideas.

Olympic Motivation-01

Reaching your Dreams Through Goal Setting

These Olympians set a goal when they were little to make it to the Olympics one day. It took lots and lots of goals, big and little along the way to get there. Just like them, it’s best to figure out your long term, big goal first. From there, you can break the goal down into little goals. Small success along the way can boost your confidence and keep you motivated and focused on reaching your goals.

Feed Your Body the Best of the Best

Athletes train harder and eat smarter than most people. It’s because they understand that their body is a temple and they only want to feed it the absolute best. They steer clear of foods that might impair their performance such as bad fats and foods loaded with sugar. We should all treat our bodies the same way. Looking at the foods we are putting into our bodies and seeing food as nourishment, not as a reward.

Get Inspired to Try New Workouts

We can all see how hard these Olympians work and we’ve all heard how much time they spend in the gym getting into shape. What some people realize is that these athletes don’t just practice their sport, they try new and challenging workouts to make their bodies stronger. For instance, some swimmers might try running or hiking to improve their endurance instead of always getting in the pool. Use some of their ideas and mix up your workouts every few weeks. Feel like you have hit a plateau? Try a new sport! Swimming laps is a great change up from running in the treadmill and can be fun too.

Join the Fit Fall Weigh and Win Team Challenge

Fit Fall 2016 Team Challenge LOGO 2-01

Start gathering your teams – the ‘Fit Fall’ Weigh and Win Team Challenge has started and the competition is heating up.

Compete against others across Colorado from August 1 – October 31, 2016 in one of two categories:

  • Weight Improvement (%)  OR
  • HEALTHpoints (program participation)

JOIN

Join or create a team of 4-8 people starting August 1 or any time after. The join and create a team buttons will appear on the Team Challenge page, when logged into your Weigh and Win account, starting August 1, 2016. You must sign-up for a free Weigh and Win account if you don’t already have one.

join challenge in phone2

WIN GREAT PRIZES

The top three teams in both categories win amazing prizes and get to make a $1,000 donation to a non-profit organization.

WEIGHT IMPROVEMENT TEAM CHALLENGE PRIZES: 
  • 1st: Fitbit Alta ($130) – Smart activity tracker that makes fitness fashionable.
  • 2nd: iPod Shuffle ($50) – Musical motivation for your workouts.
  • 3rd: Healthy Snack Gift Boxes ($36) – Get three healthy snack boxes delivered by mail.
HEALTHPOINTS TEAM CHALLENGE PRIZES:
  • 1st: Resistance Bands ($30) – Add variety to your strength training.
  • 2nd: Amazon Gift Card ($20) – Buy new fitness gear and have it delivered right to your front door.
  • 3rd: Target Gift Card ($15) – Buy yourself a healthy treat.
Want more details on how the team challenge works?