Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Different Kind of New Year's Resolution

Every year I get asked the same thing by family, clients, and friends: what is your New Year's Resolution? The truth is - I never make least not a traditional one. And it's not because I don't think I can keep one or I am not devoted enough to anything to put the effort forth. It's because I know that New Year's Resolutions - as most people think of them - do not work.

Why not? Well, the majority of resolutions I hear are quite vague. Common ones are: I want to lose weight. I want to be more active. I want to do something new. Vague or nonspecific goals are difficult to achieve because it's hard to create steps toward a nonspecific goal. Better resolutions might be: I want to lose weight, so I will start by drinking 1 can of soda instead of 3 each day. I want to be more active, so I will join a local running group. I want to do something new, so I will visit the local indoor rock climbing gym one time per week.

Another reason resolutions don't work: one year is an incredibly long time. Why not make monthly resolutions toward a one-year goal? Then with each month's resolution that you achieve, reward yourself- how about a new outfit or tickets to see your favorite team? That will keep you motivated to keep working toward your ultimate goal.

So now that you're educated to create better resolutions, it's your turn. You've still got a few days to think this through. Tell me: What is YOUR "New Year's Resolution"?

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Give Some Love to Your Lunch

I'm always writing about the importance of eating regularly throughout the day to prepare your muscles for exercise. And how many times have I said "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"? While this is true, sometimes it's more difficult for athletes to get in a great lunch. Whether the reason is lack of time, being surrounded by tempting but unintelligent cafeteria options, or lack of planning, lunchtime can be a struggle. Here are some great nutrient-rich lunches that will assure your muscles are ready to go for that after-school practice or post-work workout.

Meal #1
1.5 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup hard-cooked egg
1/2 cup strawberries
1Tbsp almonds
1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp oil-based dressing

Mix ingredients above and add a whole-wheat roll topping with an olive- or canola-oil based butter and low-fat milk as a beverage.

Meal #2
3 slices ham or turkey
2 slices lowfat Swiss cheese
2 slices whole-wheat bread OR whole-wheat tortilla OR whole-wheat bun
2 Tbsp stone-ground mustard
Lettuce or Kale

Create sandwich. Add 8 oz. low-fat (not sugar-free) yogurt and a piece of fresh fruit.

Meal #3
3 ounces water-packed tuna
1.5 Tbsp olive-oil based mayo

Mix above and spread on two slices toasted whole wheat bread. Top with lettuce and tomato. Add a piece of fresh fruit and a couple of handfuls of baby carrots.

Many of us turn to soup and sandwich as our default. Here are some tips to nutrient-ize your soup and sandwiches!
  • Prepare condensed tomato soup with fat-free milk instead of water.
  • Stir chopped fresh spinach or frozen veggies into condensed soups.
  • Make sandwiches on whole-wheat breads and top with romaine lettuce, tomato slices, cucumbers, onions, and avacodo (my personal favorite topping).
Be Extraordinary,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

For Your Health: Shopping Over The Holidays

This week I decided to showcase the holiday articles of some of my fellow dietitians. All of these relate to what you do for your health when you go holiday shopping. Now, I am not a huge fan of calorie counting or worrying about weight, but I do believe in being realistic, and understanding what it is about your energy intake that might be causing undesirable body composition changes.

Stay Full While Shopping - Sheah Rarback, RD
Get some ideas for great snacks you can take along with you the next time you go shopping to help you resist the temptation of that mall Chinese food (they get you with those free smells!).

Drop that Drink - Carol Lapin, RD
Check out this article to educate yourself about where excess energy can sneak in when you start sipping on your walk through the mall. I know I love my latte when I go shopping, but I'm careful to go with a small (enough to satisfy my craving), non-fat with light or no whip and 1 less pump of flavor shots than normal.

Healthy Holiday Gifts - Laura Armstrong, RD
Of course we all go to the mall for one reason: to find that perfect gift. How about trying a healthy gift this year? This article has some great ideas for gifts I think people would actually enjoy (think "Awesome - thanks so much!" instead of, "Ohh....great...").

Happy Shoppping and Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Keep Performance Goals in Mind at Your Next Holiday Party!

Well, it's the holiday season again...a time for family, friends, and...FOOD! Unfortunately the holiday season falls - for many athletes - in the midst of the off-season and impressively cold outdoor temperatures. So what's an athlete to do during the holidays to emerge still on track for his/her next race when January 2nd rolls around? Here are my performance-protecting holiday tips. Note: these are in order of importance!

1. Re-assess your goals.
While I understand you may have a March or April competition planned, the holidays may not be the best time to "kick your butt into gear" or "take your training to the next level". December can be a very stressful month - and remember that stress can wreak havoc on your metabolism, digestion and sleeping patterns. If trying to continue a hard-core training plan in the midst of everything is only adding undue stress, perhaps cut back a bit, take a deep breath, and try to enjoy time spent with family and friends.

2. Re-assess your thinking.
I have never attended a holiday party that didn't include food. Any gathering - holiday-themed or not - is typically filled with plenty of time spent eating. Instead of parking yourself by the food table, try re-locating to the family room and plant yourself next to that brother-in-law, cousin, or grandparent with whom you haven't yet had a conversation. Remember that while I love me a good Christmas cookie, holidays should really be more about quality time spent with family and friends. If appreciate the ones you love is your focus, I guarantee stress surrounding what you should or should not eat or will be much lower.

3. Focus on the little changes.
I would be re-miss to think that I could just "pep talk" you through the holidays. While #1 and #2 are the most important, I'm guessing you would also appreciate some realistic ideas for the holidays. So, here you go:
- Cut back, don't cut OUT your training during the holidays. Commit to being active as part of your holiday regimen.
- If you know you have a holiday party that night, be smart with your food choices during the rest of the day. Stick to the fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. Skip that morning grande caramel macchiato and go for a black coffee instead - save the sugar and fat for grandma's homemade strudel that night.
- Stay hydrated. This is important every day, but especially when you're prepping your body for a large amount of energy intake. A properly hydrated body more efficiently and effectively metabolizes food, which could mean better a body composition for you.
- Don't arrive to the party starving. Just like I mentioned in my Thanksgiving blog, fasting all day before your holiday hoe-down is a bad idea. Eat normally - ideally at least every 3-4 hours prior to the party.
- Practice mindful eating. How hungry are you really? Could you stop after 3 shortbread cookies instead of 6? Are chocolate chip cookies necessary since you can have those any day? Are you hungry or just thirsty? What foods are you REALLY excited about eating or drinking? Ask questions like these to keep close attention to your appetite and feelings about what you're eating. This will keep you from wondering how you ate an entire bag of green and white M&Ms before moving on to chocolate creme pie.
- Watch what you drink. Calories from alcohol add up fast. Try to alternate between alcoholic drinks and water to keep those calories down a bit.

If you haven't yet, write down your performance goals for 2012. Keep those goals with you at all times during the holiday season. 99% of the time, YOU are your best health coach.

Be Extraordinary,