Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shine in the Sun

Shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits crawl out of hiding as the sun sizzles to the start of BBQ season, also referred to as “Beer-B-Q” season. J

Social gatherings may be centered on eating and drinking, and lead you to consume more than if eating alone.  Use this as a positive time to share your recipes with others.

One more cocktail than planned, could lower your inhibition and leave your hand reaching for those foods you typically resist and often in large quantities.  
  • Think: Do you feel hungry?  How will you feel about this indulgence later?
  • Use a smaller salad plate rather than a large dinner plate to help control portions.
  • It’s OK to indulge in your favorite “unhealthy” foods, just remember, portion control.
  • Sit and eat.  Use a plate and utensils to be mindful of your eating and enjoy your foods and friends/family.
  • From a bowl of snacks, grab your initial handful, and let that be that.  Take small bites and eat one chip/pretzel/etc. at a time.

  • Watch the mixes.  Substitute tonic water with fresh squeezed fruit.
  • Sip and enjoy your beer.  The question for heavy vs. light beer leads to how much of each will you be consuming?  Heavier beers contain more calories, but typically contain more alcohol, so you drink a smaller amount.  Try from the large variety of microbreweries that have flavors to satisfy all taste buds.
  • Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water.  Water will help you cut calories and keep you hydrated, especially in the summer sun.

Optimize your nutrition this summer:
  • Limit over-charred grilled items.  The products caused by grilling and smoking foods may accumulate over time and increase the chances of cancer development.  If you do grill, add antioxidant-rich spices such as rosemary and thyme to your marinade to help reduce the cancer causing processes.
  • If you typically consume meals higher in animal products, take advantage of fresh local produce available.  Use summer as your time to increase plant foods into your meals.  Color your plate.  The more color, the more variety of nutrients to help you achieve optimal health.  Refresh your meal with a chilled soup such as cucumber-dill or gazpacho with lots of chunky vegetables.

Some of my favorites:
  • Strawberries: low in calories, high in fiber, great source of vitamin C
    • Snack up with a sweet treat: mix strawberries with low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Asparagus: good source of iron, B vitamins and vitamin C
    • Quick side dish: drizzle asparagus with olive oil and bake
  • Melons: look for them starting in June for peak freshness.  Good source of vitamin C and potassium
    • A fresh fruit plate is a naturally sweet dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth
    • Create a fruit salsa for a fat-free salad dressing or top it on fish: dice mango, honeydew, cantaloupe with cilantro, onions and squeezed lime

Shimmer instead of burn in the sun, remember to wear your sunglasses and sunscreen!  Enjoy the weather and socializing with good food and beverages.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fuel for Exercise

I successfully completed my first half marathon (13.1 miles) on May 6th!  I proved to myself the capabilities of a positive mindset and nourishing my body. 

The final days leading up to the marathon, I drank plenty of water throughout the day.  The night before, I had a big bowl of whole-wheat pasta, mixed vegetables, beans, and cheese. 

I surprised myself by waking up to my alarm without pressing the snooze button, especially since it was still dark out, and I am not exactly a “morning person.”

Luckily, the weather was on my side.  Mostly cloudy and in the 60s, my ideal running conditions. 

The first mile was an adjustment.  I started at a slower than my usual pace.  At first, I felt rather claustrophobic, nearly touching someone in every direction.  I was used to running alone or with one other person along an empty path.  But I adjusted and the road widened, so the runners were able to spread out and set their own pace.

After that first warm up mile, I slowly gained speed each mile.  I grabbed water at every other drink station.  At mile 6, I refueled with a banana (yes, I ran 6 miles with a banana in hand… I have yet to find a running belt with a pocket for bananas).  This run was all about me.  I just cleared my mind and enjoyed the unfamiliar scenery.  When I started to feel tired, I drew a smile on my face.  Never underestimate a smile and telling yourself “you can do this!”

My body felt great during the run, the instant I crossed the finish line I already felt sore.  So I went off to the side to stretch.  (This is why yoga complimented my training).

As a beginner in the world of marathon running, I set my goal to simply complete the race.  Finishing in 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 24 seconds, my goal for the next race is less than 2 hours (that’s right, next half marathon).  Once you reach one fitness goal, set another.

*Special thanks to those providing support to the American Diabetes Association and helping me train (especially Tom).

My “Healthy Weighs” for Half Marathon Training
  • Pick a day for a long run.  Start off with 3 or 4 miles and gradually increase the mileage.  Try for at least a 10-mile run 3 weeks before race day.  Then ease up on the miles the last 2 weeks to avoid over exerting your body and maintain your strength for the marathon day.  

  • Avoid the excuse of being “too busy” during the week.  Run one or two shorter runs during the week and allow rest days in between.  Extend your runs as time and your endurance allows.  Motivate yourself, but not beyond what your body is capable.  Listen to your body; do not push through pain.

  • Visit a local specialty running store to invest in a pair of shoes that fit you.  Shoes are essential for preventing injury.

  • Before my workout, I like to eat an apple.  Fruit contains water, sugar, and fiber to give energy for exercise, not to mention the added benefits of fruit such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

  • Within a half hour after training, make sure you eat and drink water!  Even if your goal is for weight loss, your body requires nutrients and needs to replenish electrolytes.  I recommend a serving of low-fat dairy: either yogurt or milk for protein and essential nutrients. 

  • My favorite post-work out drink is dark chocolate almond milk!  Tastes delicious and beats the commercialized protein shakes. J