Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl? More like super lame

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know what's coming up on Sunday. It's the national holiday of sports - Super Bowl Sunday. As a major football fanatic, I'm typically glued to the tube every weekend heading into February. And the Big Game is no exception...except for maybe this year. I'm feeling a whole lot of "meh" about Sunday's showdown. I guess I'll half-heartedly route for San Fran, since Jimbo used to play for my beloved Bears and the 49ers are the NFC reps. Otherwise, color me bored.  Plus, I'm not overly excited about the half-time routine and the Super Bowl ads in recent years have been snoozers.
All that being said, I will still join friends (at least for the first half) in watching the game. It's the patriotic thing to do, right? But like the rest of the US nation, I'll be tempted by platters of buffalo wings, chips and dip, burgers, pizza and all sorts of other high-cal food options that seem to accompany Game Day. According to research by the Calorie Control Council (CCC) and Snack Food Association, Americans will eat 30 million pounds of snacks on Sunday. That breaks down to 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 2.5 million pounds of nuts.  The average armchair quarterback will consume 1200 calories and 50 grams of fat from snacking, which DOESN'T EVEN INCLUDE THE MEALS! Holy drawstring pants, Batman! This game is clearly tough on calorie counters. Fortunately, there are a few tricks to cut down on the fat while rooting for your favorite team.

* Fat-free is good. Choosing fat-free potato chips for the big game could save up to 300 calories per person. When it comes to dips, try salsa or substitute reduced-fat sour cream and non-fat yogurt. Use fresh herbs and spices such as cilantro, parsley and hot peppers to add great flavor. Add fresh vegetables and low-fat dips to your party tray and you’ve got a healthy appetizer in no time.
* Exercise. Try hitting the gym before going to the big party. If that's not feasible, help burn off Super Bowl snacks by tossing the football with friends at halftime or walking to a neighbors house to get a play by play.
* Don't show up hungry. Try to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal - or even a light snack - before chowing down on higher-fat foods to help curb the appetite.
* Drink in moderation. For every beer you have, drink a glass of water since alcohol tends to dehydrate you. Also, if you're truly worried about the carbs or calories in your cocktail, drink light beer or vodka with diet soda. On average, you'll save about 35 calories per beer bottle switching to the lighter version.

And check out the Calorie Control Council's appetizer recipe section to find a list of healthy spreads and dips perfect for the Super Bowl party.

As for me, I'm just excited about the Puppy Bowl. How freakin' cute are those peanuts?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Put that in your pie and eat it...

I have a confession to make...I splurged a little today.
Look, I've been healthy all week - and exercising regularly - but I just had to have a little dessert tonight. It was practically mandatory. For Pete's sake, today was National Pie Day! Who can say no to that? Especially when a chocolate cream pie is at stake.
In my defense, it was only a little sliver of a piece. And it was a low-cal, sugar-free recipe. So no judging, please. I'll tack on an extra 10 minutes of exercise tomorrow to make up for it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January Blues

January is back...the worst month of the year. Am I right? The weather is usually crappy, the workload is difficult and there's no vacation in sight. And to top it off, many folks are typically struggling to squeeze into their favorite pants - courtesy of all the holiday-related indulging. Yup, I've spent the past week hopping back on the healthy bandwagon...regular trips to the gym, calorie counting and all that jazz.

And for anyone else in the same boat, the Calorie Control Council recently shared some healthy tips for the New Year. I will definitely be embracing this advice as I get back into the swing of things.
  • Leftovers need to go. Any holiday leftovers that can't be converted into low-calorie meals need to be tossed out, ASAP. Sweets need to be rationed to one treat per day or tossed out with the other leftovers. Start cruising low-calorie recipe blogs for meal ideas immediately and read up on portion sizes.
  • Enjoy the Great Outdoors. While it might feel cold outside, January and February can still have good days for an outdoor activity – consider going out walking or jogging in the afternoon, when the temperature peaks. Get outside and take advantage of the brisker temperatures by bicycling, hiking, jogging and playing golf or tennis. Discover park trails or take a walk by the lake. In places where snow falls, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or, if you live near the water, try kayaking or get out and play a vigorous game of fetch with your dog. Remember, exercise comes in different forms. Cleaning out junk from storage rooms, home improvement projects, and even doing yard work can also help get the heart pumping.
  • Go to class. Have you always wanted to try tai chi or yoga? How about a trapeze class or boxing? Many gyms, private fitness clubs and park districts start up a new round of classes in January, so scan the schedules to see if something catches your interest. After all, a well-rounded fitness regimen is important.
  • Cut back on the sweets. To help maintain a healthier shape, consider the calorie savings provided by low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages. Products sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners allow consumers to enjoy their favorite meals without the extra calories. For example, drinking a diet soda can save 150 calories a day. Over the course of a year, that daily calorie savings could result in a 15-pound weight loss. Choosing sugar-free chocolate will save you 50 calories a day – or five pounds – by year’s end.
  • Lighten up on drinks. After the midnight toasts from New Year's are over, it's a good time to consider cutting back on the number of alcoholic beverages you consume and even the type of drinks you still endulge in. Alcohol can rack up a lot of empty calories, especially regular beer and mixed drinks that are high in sugar. Consider some lighter ingredients for the mixed drinks, stick to one glass of wine, and opt for a light beer when possible. The calorie savings will be worth it.