Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy National Coffee Day!

Do you know what today is? For starters, it's my dad's birthday - happy 62nd, Pops! But today is also National Coffee Day! Random, ey? Seeing as how I drink about a pot of coffee each day, this is an observation I can totally get behind. And seeing as how it's a beautiful crisp, fall morning, I'm craving a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte! Just like their Gingerbread latte in December - and the McDonald's Shamrock Shake around St. Patrick's Day - I have to order at least one pumpkin spice coffee each year. Unfortunately, this java is not good on the waistline, packing 380-calories and  51g-carbs. And since I'm headed to Key West in two weeks and need to avoid those types of high-calorie treats, I'll be adopting the Hungry Girl version: combine 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, 1 Splenda packet, 1 teaspoon of  Jenny's Country Kitchen Pumpkin Pie dessert creamer and 6 oz. of hot water.  Stir. Add 1 oz. light vanilla soy milk and top with a squirt of Fat Free Reddi-Wip. Voila! A healthy liquid dessert is served!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gator chomps and Rocky Top

Any college football fans in the house? I'm headed to my second game/tailgate of the new season this weekend - we'll be in Knoxville for the Florida-Tennessee football game. Even though I have no dog in this particular fight, I'm still stoked. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE college football season. And we'll have a boisterous crew out there, with friends planning to set up tailgating space around 6:30 am. On the menu? Burgers, ribs, brats, kebabs, various sides, bloodies, beer, mimosas and more. On the downside, it's certainly hard to keep the waistline from expanding with all that tempting food around. Fortunately for you, I"m a professional tailgater. I graduated from a university in Wisconsin, a state that has essentially elevated tailgating to an art form. So trust me when I say I've been doing this for years.
Anyhoo, here are my tips for any other calorie counters spending their weekends in front of the grill and/or the TV.
  • Don't show up hungry. Take time to eat a light, healthy snack before hitting the spread. 
  • When fixing your plate, try to add plenty of fruits and veggies. That way you can fill up your belly faster with healthier items. 
  • Eating smaller portions is key. Yes, you can indulge in some baked beans or potato salad. But don't pile a mountain of it on your plate. 
  • Bring some low-calorie snack options such as a fruit salad or raw veggies and hummus. 
  • Avoid adding lots of butter, salt, condiments and fatty dressings.
  • Drink lots of water. It will help fill you up.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Drink diet soda instead of the regular version to save calories. 
  • Rather than sitting around and snacking, play a game instead. It’s difficult to overeat if you're throwing around the football or playing corn hole. 
With a little extra effort and foresight, you can get through that next tailgate without immediately packing on the pounds. Now, what are the chances my beloved Badgers can figure out how to win a few games this season?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Swimsuits and Weight Loss


How is it September already? Seriously - where has this year gone? I feel like only yesterday, I was sitting there writing up my New Years resolutions and planning exotic vacations that I can't afford to take. Well, I suppose the latter part still holds true. Speaking of vacations, my Key West excursion is coming up in just over a month and I have yet to shed those pesky extra pounds that I gained earlier this summer. Ugh.

Fortunately, I still have time to slim down before the big trip - and no, it doesn't entail weight loss pills or the drastic elimination of certain foods and beverages. Between ramping up my exercise regiment - and embracing portion control, calorie reduction, sugar-free foods and beverages, I should be able to safely lose a few pounds in the next month. Check out these awesome tips from the sucralose.org website.
  1. Dear diary… Keep a food journal. Often, we eat more than we realize. And when it comes to weight, every calorie counts. It helps to write down all food and beverages consumed throughout the day to get an accurate picture of the number of calories you are consuming. From the bagel and banana at breakfast, to the salad dressing and roll with lunch and handful of mixed nuts before dinner, write down everything you consume. You may find that the calories really add up! These types of journals can help uncover hidden calories, specify eating patterns, highlight problem areas and, essentially, increase the chances of weight loss success down the road.
  2. Is it the size of your fist or your face?  In today’s era of super-sized meals, many people are completely oblivious to what a normal portion looks like. In fact, research shows many restaurants serve two to five times the typical serving. For a more accurate representation, use your hand to measure food. Three ounces of meat or cheese should fit in the palm, while a cup of vegetables or fruit should be the size of a fist. When eating out, try to take home leftovers or split an entrĂ©e with a friend. At home, use a measuring cup, tablespoons and teaspoons to sift out appropriate portion sizes. This helps reduce daily calorie intake.
  3. Feeling frustrated? Hit the gym. Regular exercise can produce overall health benefits. And it doesn’t have to involve hour-long training sessions at an expensive fitness center. Go for a quick jog in the morning before you get ready for work. Instead of driving to the office, walk or bicycle. Bypass the elevator for the stairs and go for a brisk stroll around your building after lunch. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat, so a regular mixture of cardio, flexibility and toning exercise is the best way to increase metabolism.
  4. Eat less, more often. Many experts say eating small snacks throughout the day will lead to healthier choices when it comes to the three main meals. Bring healthy snacks to work to curb your appetite, such as carrot sticks, pretzels, string cheese, low-fat energy bars or fruit. This way, you’re less likely to go home and eat a box of crackers with cheese before dinner. Also, frequently consuming snacks can help keep your blood sugar level steady and your energy up.
  5. Sugar-free does a diet good. Sure, too much ice cream is not necessarily a good thing. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to deprive yourself of the frozen treat. Instead, try the low-calorie, sugar-free version. Have five pieces of sucralose-sweetened chocolate instead of regular chocolate and save 50 calories. And sugar-free yogurt eliminates about 110 calories per serving. If you start incorporating sucralose into your favorite recipes now, you could easily be flaunting a healthier weight in a few short months.
Excellent advice. I'll definitely be adopting these tips in my quest to slim down over the next few weeks. Wish me luck!