Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting in those Fruits and Vegetables

If you read over my monthly goals you know that I am working on getting more fruits and vegetables into my diet.  Some of my favorites are pineapple, watermelon, cherries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and zucchini.  I try to get in all of them everyday, but sometimes I don’t, so I am working on changing that.  So I thought I would discuss some of the benefits of having fruits and vegetables in your diet and ways to get more in your diet.
  • Cut up, peel, slice, and prepare the fruit or vegetable so it is easily accessible.  Taking the time to do this is really key to getting them all in.  If they are all ready to eat, then they are easy to grab as a good snack.  Think fruit salad or veggie plate style.  I like to cut up my pineapple and watermelon right when I get home from the store.
  • Health Benefits.  Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, protect against certain cancers, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, may decrease bone loss, and are of course important for a healthy, balanced lifestyle. (source)
  • Try and eat a variety of colorful produce.  This can be tricky.  I have a tendency to eat the same fruits and vegetables, but RD David Grotto states in a Women’s Health article that, “you’re going to be limited as far as health benefits because you are not getting all those other colors.”  Women’s Health has nifty online tool that gives you details about the different colored produce, so check it out.
  • Try something new.  Everyone has that fruit or vegetable that they didn’t like as a kid.  Mine was spinach, especially steamed, squishy spinach.  I now eat spinach about everyday on my sandwiches and in salads.  I don’t really like it steamed plain either, but if it is mixed with something else it is good.  Another great new vegetable I tried was brussel sprouts.  I was kind of skeptical about trying it, but if they are cooked the right way they are delicious!  Steamed are good, but roasted or lightly sauteed are fabulous.  Brussel sprouts may be my new favorite vegetable!  All of this is to say that you should try something you haven’t had in awhile; who knows it could become your favorite. 
  • They have tons of nutrients.  Fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin A, E, & C.  But what are the benefits of all of these things?  There is a great chart on the CDC website that you can look at here.  It tells you the details of each nutrient and which fruits and vegetables you can get it from.
  • Make a healthy vegetable or fruit cake/bread/pie.  So you can certainly make fattening pies and cakes and breads, but there are some smart options for these things as well.  A good carrot cake, zucchini bread, or banana bread is pretty delicious.  And there are also some great fruits crisps and breads that won’t ruin your day by having a piece.  
  • Add fruit to a smoothie.  This is a really simple way to get some fruit in your diet and it tastes delicious too.  Toss in some berries, mangoes, or bananas in your smoothie to get some extra boost of nutrients and flavor.
  • Make an all veggie meal.  I have mentioned it before but having a no meat meal every week is good for you and the environment.  So what to make?  A pasta is always easy and a whole wheat pasta will make it feel like a substantial meal.  I like homemade tomato sauce with zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, onions and whatever else you want.  You can even make squash spaghetti.  I have also made a vegetarian version of my Creamy Chicken Zucchini Pasta with no chicken and by adding other veggies. 
(There are some good recipes out there, but a few of my favorite places to go are Oh She Glows, Skinny Taste, and Kath Eats Real Food.  They have some great recipes that use lots of fruits and vegetables so you should check them out to get some great meal ideas.)
So as you can see getting those fruits and vegetables in is important.  There are lots of different ways to get more produce in your diet.  It takes some practice, but once you do, it will become a habit you won’t want to quit.  
(After reading over this again I think I am going to go eat some of those cherries I have in the fridge!)
Do you get in your daily fruits and vegetables?  What is your favorite fruit and/or vegetable and how do you prepare it? 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Running Shoes

As per my monthly goals I am working on running.  So far so good.  I recently ran 20 minutes straight in one of my workouts.  It was tough for sure, and kind of slow, but I didn’t stop and felt great after I finished!  The wonderful thing about running or walking is all you really need are good shoes.  I used to be a big New Balance fan, because I have wide feet, but in the past two years I have switched to a different kind of shoe.  
Last summer, my mom, who is already a runner (check out her blog at Moments That Make A Life), went to the local running shop, Track Shack, to get some new running shoes and I got to go along with her.  She tried on a few different brands and styles and decided on a pair of Sauconys.  She said they were the best running shoes she had ever had.  We ended up doing more shoe shopping that day and I found some Sauconys at DSW.  I tried them on and they were so light and comfortable; I felt like I could learn to run in these shoes, so I ended up getting a pair.  I have had those Sauconys for a year now and they have seen their best days; there are holes in the top and parts of the sole are worn down, so it was time for a new pair.  This time I decided to go to the Track Shack again with my mom (she needed new ones too) and go through the whole experience for myself.
Old, Worn, & Holey Sauconys

I brought in my old pair and one of the sales associates helped me out.  He looked at the bottom of my shoes to see what kind of shape they were in and to see the wear on the soles.  Then he had me walk barefoot across the store to look at how I walk.  Of course he measured my foot and I learned that I have gone down a half size.  He asked if I liked my Sauconys or if I was willing to try something different.  I told him I really do like the ones I have but I am not against trying something new.  He then disappeared into the back to find me some shoes, and came back with three: Saucony, Asics, and Nike.  I tried them all on, but none of them really felt right either too hard, uncomfortable, or too big.  So he went back again and chose some other ones for me to try.  This time there were a different pair of Sauconys, Aiscs, and Adidas.  After trying them all on I thought they all felt pretty good, so to make a decision I put one on each foot and walked around.  I eliminated the Adidas pair after a few walk arounds.  I am not very good at making decisions and I had to walk around in both shoes for awhile, before I made my decision.  The Sauconys felt good, they had nice support, were comfortable, a brand I like, and were a pretty silver and magenta.  The Aiscs, were much cushier, comfortable, and had a nice blue and green design.  

My Fancy New Running Shoes

I eventually decided to stick with Saucony.  They are the Progrid Echelon 2 Sauconys.  I like the brand and I think the support of the shoe will be good for me (I have had some ankle issues in the past and some current knee things I am dealing with).  The guy said that I looked more comfortable in the Saucony because in the Aiscs my feet were pronating a bit.  We looked around the store and tried some running skirts, shirts, hats, and compression socks on, but like I said I have a hard time making decisions, so I just got the shoes.  They were a bit pricey, but having good running shoes is important and I know I will wear them a lot.  Plus new running shoes are good motivation to go for a run.  I have already run in them a few times and am feeling good! 
Ready to Run 
The Track Shack is really an awesome running store.  It is a good local business that has been around over 30 years!  The people there are very friendly and they all run and have lots of information to share. If you live in the Orlando area I highly suggest checking them out.  Most other big cities have good running shops too.  I know Fleet Feet is a good place that has locations around the country.  Having the right shoe and one that fits you properly is important, so if you are a runner or want to start, find a place to get a good running shoe, it will be worth it!
What is your running shoe of choice?  Have you ever been fit for a running shoe? 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stuck in Fitness or Weight Loss Slump? Let's Get Past It!

So I have been in a bit of rut lately and that is the reason I have been away for awhile (sorry).  My weight loss has been at a plateau for the past month and half and I think because of that I have suffered from a case of bloggers block.  But I think things are headed in a good direction now and I am feeling much better.

This plateau I have been dealing with has been difficult.  I have been pretty consistently losing weight for the past year and half and I know that plateaus happen, but they are just so frustrating when you actually have one yourself.  I think my plateau is partly my body and partly in my head.  My body has changed quite a bit through this journey and maybe it just needed some time to rest or catch up?  I don’t know for sure, but I know that they happen to almost everyone.  I believe it is also a bit psychological because I am sooo very close to being under 200 pounds, which is a big goal of mine.  I think the last time I was that much was about nine or ten years ago, in middle school.  So the scale as been going down and going up and staying the same right above the 200 lb line.  Now what the scale says is definitely not the end all be all; I truly believe that what is important is how you feel about yourself.  I am SO much happier with where I am right now than I have been in a long time.  When you take the time to care for yourself it changes how you feel and how you live your life.  And although I feel good about where I am, I am still not where I should be or want to be for my health, so getting under 200 pounds is important.  

How did I get past this plateau?  Well, I have to say that I think setting the monthly goals has helped A LOT.  The 30 Day Shred last month certainly helped tone my body and when you look good you feel good.  Also this month’s running and fruits and veggies challenge may have been the final push to get me over the hump.  I am not under 200 yet (about three pounds to go), but I had a good number on the scale this week and it is lower than it has been over the past month and half and that is progress!

So here a few tips to help you get past a plateau:
  • Change up your exercise routine: Try a new DVD, walk an extra mile, do some strength training, whatever, just try something different
  • Write down what you eat: I have said this before, but if you are not getting the results you want writing it down can really make you aware of what you are eating.  
  • Plan some meals: If you have some meals planned out whether it is a few dinner meals or pre-planned lunches you don’t end up searching the fridge or pantry for whatever is available.  Another plus is that because you are making the meal you know the calories and can add lots of fruits and veggies too.
  • Talk with someone: Asking someone for advice or to just be there to listen and share is a great thing to do because they can make you feel better by reminding you of how far you have come or give you some ideas to help you get past the slump.  It doesn’t have to be just family and friends either, you could tweet for some advice, or find some online community message boards.  
  • Stick with it: This is probably one of the most important things to remember.  The plateau will pass, but do not give up on everything you have worked so hard to achieve because you do not see a certain number on the scale.  Like I mentioned before, the number isn’t everything, it is about how you feel and what you are doing for your body.  The changes you have made to your lifestyle are good for you.  Take the time to focus on maintaining your weight, toning your body, or trying new activities.  
This is how I am going to live the rest of my life and I do not want to fall back into bad habits.  If what you are doing has worked for you it will continue to work with a few changes at times, but that is a part of living your life.  I know a plateau or slump can be difficult but try and focus on the positive aspects of your new lifestyle and how far you have already come.  Change can be beneficial and before you know it you will have gotten past the slump!
Do you have any weight loss or exercise plateau experiences to share?  What helped you get past it?  

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Set Some Goals for July!

All right, new month means new goals.  It is once again time to set small goals for yourself to achieve in the month of July.  Summer is here and that does not mean you get to loaf around all day, take advantage of time off, the weather, and spending time with friends and family.  
Here are my goals for the month:
  • Get in more fruits and vegetables!  So, confession, I have not been the best at getting my five-a-day, even though I know it is important and good for me.  I am still on my weight loss journey and have hit a bit of plateau and I think eating more fruits and veggies will help me get over it, plus keep me fuller so I am not munching.
  • Run for 20-30 minutes straight!  This is something I have wanted to do for awhile and I am hoping that putting down and out for people to see will really get me to achieve it.  I have been working on becoming a runner, because of the health benefits, positive personal running stories I have read, and inspiration from my friends and family who run.  Right now I can run about 3-7 minutes straight through and then I take walk breaks and run again, which is more than I have been able to do probably ever in my life.  I have a small training program to help me get there and have downloaded a podcast I am going to try as well.  (If you have any tips for starting running I would love to hear them!)
I have a feeling this will be a tough month, but after the success of last month's goals, I know it will all be worth it! 
So what are you thinking of trying for a month?  What goals are you setting?