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Sunday, September 18, 2016

17 Foods that you Should Avoid at ALL COST!!



1. Sugary Drinks

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.  However, some sources of sugar are worse than others, and sugary drinks are the absolute worst.  When people drink sugar calories, the brain doesn’t “register” them as food.  For this reason, people don’t automatically compensate by eating less of other foods and they end up drastically increasing their total calorie intake.
Sugar, when consumed in large amounts, can drive insulin resistance in the body and is strongly linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is also associated with various serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Sugary drinks are also THE most fattening aspect of the modern diet, and drinking them in large amounts can drive fat gain and obesity.

Alternatives: Drink water, soda water, coffee or tea instead. Adding a slice of lemon, fruit, or spice to water or soda water can add some taste if you don’t like it plain.  Check out this article from my blog for some great water recipes!


2. Most Pizzas

Pizza is one of the world’s most popular junk foods.  This is not surprising, given that it tastes awesome and is incredibly convenient to eat!  The problem is that most commercially prepared pizzas are made with seriously unhealthy ingredients.  The dough is made from highly refined wheat flour, and the meats on them are usually processed. Pizza is also extremely high in calories! Just leave it alone!

Alternatives: Some pizza places use healthier ingredients. Homemade pizzas can also be very healthy, as long as you choose wholesome ingredients.  Check out this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza!


3. White Bread

Bread is generally made from wheat, which contains the protein gluten.  For this reason, all wheat-based breads are a bad idea for people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, most commercial breads are unhealthy, even for people who do tolerate gluten.
This is because the great majority of them are made from refined wheat, which is low in essential nutrients (empty calories) and leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar.

Alternatives: For people who can tolerate gluten, ezekiel bread is an excellent choice. Whole grain bread is also definitely better (or “less bad”) than white bread.  My personal favorite substitute is a whole wheat or corn tortilla!

4. Most Fruit Juices

Fruit juice is often assumed to be healthy, but this is a BIG mistake!  Many fruit juices are actually little more than fruit-flavored sugar water.  It is true that the juice contains some antioxidants and vitamin C, but this must be weighed against the large amount of liquid sugar.  In fact, fruit juice contains just as much sugar as a sugary drink like Coke or Pepsi, and sometimes even more! Who knew?



Alternatives: There are some fruit juices that have been shown to have health benefits despite the sugar content, such as pomegrenate juice and blueberry juice.  However, these should be considered as supplements, not something you drink every day to quench thirst. Drink water instead!

5. Industrial Vegetable Oils

In the last 100 years or so, people have increased their consumption of added fats.  However, this is entirely explained by a drastic increase in the consumption of refined vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil.  These oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which humans never consumed in such large amounts before.  Our bodies do not know how to metabolize these trans fats, so we store them inside fat cells.  There are many serious concerns with these oils. They are highly sensitive to oxidation and cause increased oxidative stress in the body. They have also been linked to increased risk of cancer.

Alternatives: Use healthier fats like coconut oil, real butter, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil instead.

6. Margarine

Margarine used to be considered a healthy alternative to butter.  Fortunately, most people have now realized that this is far from being true.  Margarine is a highly processed pseudo-food that has been engineered to look and taste like butter.  It is loaded with artificial ingredients, and is usually made with industrial vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated to make them more solid. This increases their trans fat content significantly.  Keep in mind that manufacturers are allowed to label their products with “no trans fat” as long as it contains less than 0.5 grams per serving, which is still a significant amount.

Alternatives: Use real butter instead, preferably from grass-fed cows.

7. Pastries, Cookies and Cakes

Most pastries, cookies and cakes are extremely unhealthy.  They are generally made with refined sugar, refined wheat flour and added fats, which are often disturbingly unhealthy fats like shortening (high in trans fats).
These tasty treats are literally some of the worst things that you can put into your body. Almost no essential nutrients, but tons of calories and unhealthy ingredients.

Alternatives:  Treats made with one ingredient whole foods and fruits.  Check out these two recipes for healthy alternative and 21 Day Fix approved sweet treats.  Fudgy Avocado Brownies and Frozen Blueberry Bites

8. French Fries and Potato Chips

Whole, white potatoes are actually very healthy for you!
However, the same can NOT be said of the products that are made from them, such as french fries and potato chips.  These foods are very high in calories, and it is easy to eat excessive amounts. Several studies link consumption of french fries and potato chips with weight gain. These foods may also contain large amounts of acrylamides, carcinogenic substances that form when potatoes are fried, baked or roasted.

Alternatives: Potatoes are best consumed boiled, not fried. If you need something crunchy to replace potato chips, try baby carrots or nuts.



9. Agave nectar

Agave nectar is a sweetener that is often marketed as healthy.  However, agave nectar is not as healthy as some people think. It is a highly refined sweetener that is extremely high in fructose.  High amounts of fructose from added sweeteners (not whole fruit) can be absolutely disastrous for health.  The truth is, agave is even higher in fructose than other sugars.  Whereas table sugar contains 50% fructose, and high fructose corn syrup around 55%, agave nectar is 85% fructose.

Alternatives: Stevia is a healthy, natural and calorie free sweetener. Honey is also a good choice.


 10. Low-Fat Yogurt

Yogurt can be incredibly healthy.  Unfortunately, most yogurts found in the grocery store are
extremely bad for you.  They are frequently low in fat, but loaded with sugar to make up for the lack of taste that the fats provided.
Put simply, the yogurt has had the healthy, natural dairy fats removed, only to be replaced with something much, much worse.  Additionally, many yogurts don’t actually contain probiotic bacteria, as generally believed. They have often been pasteurized after fermentation, which kills all the bacteria.

Alternatives: Choose regular, full-fat yogurt that contains live or active cultures (probiotics). If you can get your hands on it, choose yogurt from grass-fed cows.  Greek yogurt is a great choice too because you get more bang for your "calorie" due to the higher protein content in Greek yogurt.


 11. Low-Carb Junk Foods

Low-carb diets are very popular these days, and have been for several decades.  There are plenty of real foods that you can eat on a low-carb diet, most of which are very healthy.  However, this is not true of processed low-carb replacement products, such as low-carb candy bars and meal replacements.  These are generally highly processed foods that contain very little actual nutrition, just a bunch of artificial ingredients mixed together and then sold as food.

Alternatives: If you’re on a low-carb diet, eat foods that are naturally low in carbs. Remember, Low-carb junk food is still junk food.


12. Processed Meat

Even though unprocessed meat can be healthy and nutritious, the same is NOT true for processed meats.
Studies show that people who eat processed meats have a higher risk of many serious diseases, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Most of these studies are observational in nature, so they can not prove that the processed meat caused the diseases.
However, the statistical link is strong and consistent among studies, so I do believe there is something to it.

Alternatives: If you want to eat bacon, sausages, pepperoni and other “processed” meats, then choose wisely and try to buy them locally from sellers who don’t add a lot of unhealthy ingredients. Quality counts.



13. Processed Cheese

Regular cheese is healthy.  It is loaded with nutrients, and a single slice of cheese contains all the same nutrients as an entire glass of milk.  However, processed cheese products are nothing like regular cheese. They are mostly made with filler ingredients that are combined and engineered to have a similar look and texture as cheese.

Cheese is healthy, but processed cheese is not. Read labels, and make sure that the cheese you’re eating is actually cheese.

Alternatives: Eat real cheese instead!


14. Most Fast Food Meals

Generally speaking, “fast food” chains serve only junk foods.  The majority of the food they offer is mass-produced, highly engineered junk food with very little nutritional value.  These places are often very cheap, but keep in mind that junk food costs you twice.  For every penny you save there, chances are that it’s going to cost you many times more in the future. Poor health is expensive.

Alternatives: Fortunately, all sorts of healthy fast food places have started to appear. Chipotle is one great example.  Additionally, even McDonald's now has a healthy salad option.  Be smart when you order!
 

15. High-Calorie “Coffee” Drinks

Coffee has been unfairly demonized.  It is actually very healthy, and loaded with antioxidants.  Studies also show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of serious diseases, like type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s.  Unfortunately, stuff is sometimes added to coffee that turns this wonderful beverage into harmful sludge.  If your “coffee” has a ton of artificial creamer and sugar, then it is NOT good for you.
It is loaded with liquid, empty calories, and will be just as unhealthy as any other sugar-sweetened beverage.

Alternatives: Drink plain coffee instead. Black is best, but small amounts of heavy cream or full-fat milk are fine as well.  Best option is to sweeten with Stevia and use unsweetened almond or coconut milk as a substitute for creamer.  Due to the very low calorie count, unsweetened almond milk is actually considered a freebie on the 21 Day Fix meal plan!

 16. Anything That is High in Sugar, Refined Grains and Vegetable Oils

One of the most important things you can do to eat healthier, is to read labels.  It is important to avoid (or at least minimize) foods that contain:

Added sugar (and high fructose corn syrup).
Refined grains like white flour.
Industrial vegetable oils.
Artificial trans fats.


These are some of the unhealthiest (and most common) ingredients in the modern diet.  The importance of reading labels can not be overstated, and this applies to all foods, even so-called health foods.  This is going to apply to most common condiments and sauces like ketchup, barbeque sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc.

Alternatives: Eat whole, one-ingredient, clean foods.  Pay attention to the label and it is much easier these days to find a healthy option in the grocery aisle for many of these condiments.




17. Most Highly Processed Foods

By far the simplest way to eat healthy and lose weight, is to avoid processed foods as much as possible.  Put simply, if it looks like it was made in a factory, then it’s probably bad for you.  We will learn more about this when we talk about  the principles of clean eating tomorrow.

A good rule to remember, is that real food doesn’t need an ingredients list, because real food IS the ingredient.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What is HIIT??

What is HIIT??



What exactly is HIIT? What is the all the hype? HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.



HIIT training can easily be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions, such as being overweight and diabetes. HIIT workouts can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, and in many group exercise classes. HIIT workouts provide similar fitness benefits as continuous endurance workouts, but in shorter periods of time. This is because HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially after the workout.





Why is it so important to push yourself until you are breathless?? What is the After Burn?? One of the greatest advantages of HIIT workouts is experiencing the "After Burn". A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery. This afterburn effect is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts. Not only will you burn fat during your workout, but you will continue to burn fat throughout the rest of the day through EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).


EPOC is the measurable increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s oxygen debt.  In order to erase the body’s oxygen debt, fatty acids are released and used as fuel for recovery. This all happens in the time after a workout is complete. You will not receive this great benefit simply doing low intensity exercise. You need to be working out in your anaerobic zone at maximal heart rates to really see that added fat loss effect.
This EPOC has been shown to last for over 24 hours. 

This after burn is what causes your body to continue to burn fat for up to 24 hours after you are finished with the workout! I don't know about you.... but, I think that is GREAT!! That is the scientific explanation of why it is so important that you go breathless during the short HIIT interval! So, make sure you push yourself out of your comfort zone for 45 seconds, become breathless, and BOOM!!! Burn fat for the next 24 hours!!!

HIIT increases your metabolism!  Combing high intensity with interval training results in EPOC, which speeds your metabolic rate and translates into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours after a complete HIIT routine! This means you’ll still be burning fat even after you’ve left the gym!




Another great advantage of HIIT is that it is good for heart health! They say that extreme training helps build extreme results. It’s hard for most people to push themselves to an anaerobic zone where you become breathless and can feel your heart pounding faster and faster. With interval training, it’s easier to push yourself to that intense level because of the rest interval that comes right after you reach that point. Exercising and training this way really strengthens and trains the heart muscle. This helps keep a healthy heart and helps blood flow effectively throughout your whole body.  This is why many professional athletes incorporate HIIT training into their routines.



HIIT me with your best shot!! Did you know that there are also some hormonal benefits to HIIT? HIIT is one of several ways to boost both testosterone and growth hormone levels. Since these hormones are highly responsible for muscle gain and fat loss, you should be doing all you can to keep these levels high!
Because we all want to lose fat and not muscle, right?? Steady cardio is often associated with losing muscle. HIIT workouts, however, combine weight training (the weight being your body) and effectively allows dieters to preserve their muscle gain while still shedding weight.  Another fantastic benefit of HIIT!!
I don't know about you... But the fact that I can save time AND experience these great benefits is just a Win/Win to me!! So, I say keep HIITing me with your best shot!






Who is great candidate to try HIIT training? Anyone who says that they don't have time to work out!  That's right... I am talking to all of you busy moms out there who say that you just can't find the time to work out and juggle it all!  Well, HIIT to the rescue!! You can find 10 minutes a day, right?  All you need is 10 minutes if you use those 10 minutes effectively with HIIT principles!


Another great benefit is that there is no equipment necessary! HIIT workouts are extremely cost efficient because you need zero equipment! All you need is a little open space. HIIT workouts utilize your own body weight, so any workout that gets your heart rate up quickly such as plyometrics, high knees and jumping jacks can be implemented into a HIIT workout. In fact, weights can actually make sometimes make the workout less effective because your main focus in HIIT is getting your heart rate up rather than toning a particular muscle group.








Would you like a couple of examples of some easy and fast HIIT workouts?? Ok... you asked for it! Here you go!

5 minute Total Body HIIT workout


video
Quick HIIT workout inspired by Insanity:
  • Run in place for 8 counts alternating with 4  hook punches up high, then 4 hook punches down low in squat position (do this for 45 sec with no rest)
  • Rest 20 sec
  • High knees with a twist (45 sec with no rest)
  • Rest 20 sec
  • High low punches with a jump (45 sec with no rest)
  • Rest 20 sec
  • Floor switch kicks (45 sec with no rest)
  • Repeat TWO times!!  You got this!!

Want to join my next 5 day FREE health and fitness challenge??



Cauliflower Crust Pizza

How to Make Cauliflower Crust Pizza

**This is a 1 minute HOW TO video**

I was so amazed by how tasty this pizza crust turned out to be!! It was crispy and delicious... I really felt like I was cheating! I highly recommend that you try this one!  My kids even enjoyed it too!

Above is a HOW TO Video for you to watch and you can find the recipe below.

Ingredients for Crust Only: 

1 head of fresh cauliflower
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tbsp grated parmasan cheese
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Cut up your cauliflower into bite sized pieces. 

Steam the cauliflower in the microwave for about 5 mins and drain the water.  It is very important to get as much water off of the cauliflower as you can. 












Add the eggs, mozzarella and parmasan cheeses, sea salt, garlic, and black pepper and blend.












Spread the mixture onto a pizza pan and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 mins.










While the crust is baking, go ahead and fry up your turkey bacon!






























After the crust comes out of the oven, top with pizza sauce and your favorite HEALTHY toppings.  I used fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and summer squash. Oh, and of course turkey bacon!  
















Bake the pizza with the toppings on it for another 15 minutes at 400 degrees!  Voila! Done... and so easy!! ENJOY!!









This dish is perfect to make for meal prep Sunday and eat for the rest of the week!  That is what I like to do!!
Meal Prep Sunday


Would you like to join my next FREE healthy eating and fitness challenge??  Just fill out the below form and let's get started!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Baked Asparagus "Fries"

Baked Asparagus "Fries"


These are absolutely amazing and definitely a must try recipe!! Enjoy!

Instructions: 


1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Dredge the asparagus in the flour.

2.  Dip the dredged asparagus in the beaten egg. 


3.  Coat the asparagus with a mixture of the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. 


4.  Transfer to a wire rack set on a baking sheet.


5.  Bake until golden brown, about 7 to 13 minutes. Serve immediately.



Would you like to join my next FREE healthy eating fitness challenge?? Just fill out the below form and let's get started!!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Healthy Ranch Dressing - Fix Approved

Healthy Ranch Dressing -- 21 Day Fix Approved!


I just LOVE ranch dressing, so I really had to figure out a way that I could eat it on the 21 Day Fix meal plan!  I love to dip almost anything and everything in ranch and it is by far the most superior salad dressing in existence! So, I had my work cut out for me to find a tasty and healthy alternative to Ranch dressing that was Fix Approved.  Well, look no further because here it is....

Simple and Easy.....

1/3 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 tbsp ranch seasoning

Now, it really doesn't get much simpler than that, now does it??

I like to make my own ranch seasoning, but you can use any store bought brand.  In the spirit of eating clean, I do make my own. I do oftentimes quadruple the below recipe to make a larger batch and I store it in old spice bottles that have been emptied. Here is my recipe for the seasoning:

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp dill

That's it! That is all there is to it!! Now.... Go forth and dip!!! Enjoy!!

Would you like to join in my next FREE healthy eating fitness challenge? Just fill out the below form and let's get started!!


What is Clean Eating?

What is Clean Eating?



What does clean eating really mean??



The phrase “clean eating” has been rising in popularity these days. It’s such a vague phrase, so what does it really mean?



Let's talk first about what it is NOT......It is not a defined diet– there are many ways to interpret “clean eating”. Clean eating is not  necessarily a diet for weight loss, although it can have those effects.  Clean eating is not about your food being dirty. It’s about avoiding the processed foods with a million ingredients. 



Here’s my short and sweet definition:

Clean eating: eating the healthiest options in the food groups, like fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy, whole grains and lean proteins, and avoiding processed junk food and fast food.

So basically, clean eating is healthy, fresh, well-rounded meals. This is definitely a trend I can get behind! You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat clean, and you don’t have to cook fancy meals or go on a cleanse.  The easiest way to eat clean is to shop the perimeter of your grocery store.



Below are some tips for shopping each section.
  
Fresh Fruit & Veggies: Anything in this section is basically a free-for-all. Load up on anything and everything that you like. Kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, oranges and berries are delicious, nutrition-packed options.

Deli: Here’s where label reading will come into play. Look for meats that are nitrate-free, and lower in sodium.  Buy straight from the deli rather than purchasing the pre-packaged deli meats.  Try to buy cheeses with less than 150mg of sodium per serving.

Meat/Poultry/Seafood: Aim for grass-fed and pasture raised meats. Those without these labels were probably raised in filthy environments. It’s more expensive, but cutting down on your meat consumption can help the environment and your waistline. 

Dairy/Eggs: Choose cage-free eggs and low-fat dairy products like milk, low-sodium cottage cheese, and light sour cream.  *I like Egglands Best for eggs.
Frozen Fruit & Veggies: Make sure you’re choosing those without added sodium or sauces. 

Fresh Breads:  Check the labels and try to find those with less than 150mg of sodium per serving. Look for whole grain bread.

Center Aisles: Go in for the toilet paper and then GET OUT! Just kidding… you can stay in the middle for a little longer, for items such as low-sodium canned beans, canned tomatoes, plain pasta and rice, nuts and seeds, nut butters, high fiber/protein cereal, and of course any cleaning or household products you may need.  

So how can you start eating clean?

First, reading labels is KEY!! Check out the ingredient lists for everything with a label. Look at sodium, sugar, and how many ingredients the product has. Does it have a long list of ingredients with unrecognizable names? If foods have more than FIVE items on their ingredient list, they’re probably not clean.





Second, PLAN! I cannot stress how important meal planning is to a healthy diet. It will make such a huge difference. If you don’t know what you’re eating for dinner, and it’s already 4:00pm, what are you more likely to do? Scramble together a meal at home, or just pick up food on the way home? 






Do you eat clean? What are some of your favorite clean eating recipes? Please feel free to leave comments and let’s help each other!


Most of all, please remember the 80/20 Rule!!  What is the 80/20 Rule you ask??  The 80/20 principle is no diet — it's a lifestyle change that can lead to sustainable weight loss. Folks who have suffered on rigid, limiting diets in the past find that this new rule teaches them about balance and moderation, a concept that does not exist with fad diets.  The breakdown is simple: 80 percent of the time you focus on eating clean, good-for-you foods, and 20 percent of the time you have the freedom to indulge as you please. Don't be concerned about the math, but it's simple: if you eat three square meals a day, three of those meals every week are your 20 percent cheat meals; if you eat five small meals a day, then seven of those meals could be up for grabs as a cheat meal.  The point is build a lifestyle change that you can stick to and live with for the long haul!!  



Because think about it.... You can't be 100% ALL of the time, but you can be 80% ALL of the time!! Right??



Would you like to learn more about Shakeology?? (Shakeology is the healthiest meal of the day and is the ultimate in CLEAN EATING!!)





Do you want to join my next FREE clean eating fitness group?  Just fill out the below form:

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ten Tips for Eating Out

Ten Tips For Eating Out

The decision is yours!!

1. Plan ahead!

Check out the menu ahead of time to plan your healthy choice. Chain restaurants often have nutrition information on their websites, which can further guide your decision. This is a critical step!!

2. Make your own rules!

Choose your dining-out rules and then STICK TO THEM!! Some common rules include: deciding to review only certain sections of a menu, choosing only non-fried foods, refusing the bread basket, leaving 1/3 of your food on your plate or eating dessert only when shared by the family. Be creative with this and make rules that you can live with!

3. Review the menu!

Look for menu items that are steamed, broiled, grilled, stir-fried (with broth or water), roasted or poached while avoiding foods that are described as buttery or buttered; crispy, sautéed, fried or pan-fried; and creamed, scalloped or au gratin.

4. Order it “dry”

Request foods prepared “dry” or without oil/butter. A food may be prepared in a healthful manner and yet have plenty of “hidden” fats added which rack up the calories. Broth, lemon, wine, herbs, spices and salsa can provide plenty of flavor without concentrated fat calories and can be ordered on the side or requested.

5. Make substitutions and skip the bread basket!

Substitute a vegetable, side salad or fruit cup for a potato, pasta or rice. This one substitution can save you a couple of hundred calories!!  

6. Be careful at the salad bar!

Although salad bars sound healthy....steer clear of cheeses, creamy potato/macaroni salads, bacon bits, croutons and sweetened dried fruits while choosing a plethora of vegetables with some lean protein such as chicken, egg or beans, which will also help fill you up!

7. Watch the dressing!

Opt for fat-free or “light” salad dressings. For extra wellness points, ditch the dressing altogether and use balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice on your salad...Or ask for oil/vinegar.

8. Take it with you!

When your food arrives at the table...immediately ask for a to-go container. Pack up a portion of your meal, close the lid and enjoy the rest of your meal another day. Better yet, request that half your meal be packaged in the kitchen prior to it being served.

9. Savor it!

Eat slowly and mindfully, savoring each bite and stopping when satisfied. Your feeling of fullness will increase over the next half hour after eating. Have a healthy snack planned in a couple of hours so you do not feel the need to overeat in order to carry you to the next meal.

10. Avoid sugary soda and sweet tea!

You really do not want to drink your calories... you want to EAT your calories, so don't waste them on sugary drinks!! Choose sugar-free beverages such as water with lemon or a cup of coffee. Soda calories add up quickly, especially when refilled automatically.

Would you like to join my next FREE healthy eating fitness challenge? Just fill out the below form and let's get started!!