Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring into shape

photo by Phil Roeder
The sun is shining and the weather is warming up. You know what that means? Summer swimsuit season is just around the corner. 
To prepare for the return to a slimmer wardrobe, I've upped my game, working out more and eating healthier. That includes portion control, calorie reduction and incorporating sugar-free foods and beverages into my dietary mix. 
According to Beth Hubrich, a registered dietitian with the Calorie Control Council, consumers can "slim down without sacrificing their favorite foods and beverages. Low-calorie sweeteners and light products can aid in weight loss efforts. Of course, portion control and regular exercise are also crucial to a healthy lifestyle." For example, reduced-calorie yogurt eliminates about 110 calories per serving. And by switching from regular to diet soda, I save 150 calories. Over the course of a year, that daily calorie savings could result in a 15-pound weight loss.
In addition to the food changes, I've been working out a heck of a lot more in recent weeks - alternating between circuit training, step, spin, running, zumba and hiking on the weekends. I'm hoping that by constantly switching up the type of exercise, I'm less likely to get bored and lazy. Either way, I'm well on my way to hitting my target weight in time for those hot summer days. 
Wish me luck!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Bright and sunshiny day...

After weeks of unseasonably cool, rainy weather, it looks like we're finally getting headed into the warmer months. To celebrate the beautiful weather, we spent all weekend outside, hiking, attending barbecues, baseball games and more. It was fantastic - other than all the nasty pollen - and I have a wee bit of sunburn to prove it. Of course, all those outdoor gatherings tended to be a bit, well, high-calorie. From burgers and beer to cocktails, brats and chips, there was a ton of tempting, non-diet-friendly meals and drinks on display. It's hard to say "NO!" when faced with all that deliciousness at a backyard barbecue. But if you're trying to lose weight so you can fit into your skimpy shorts and tank tops by summer, check out these healthy grilling tips from

Choose your marinades wisely. Using sauces such as Worcestershire, Chile, Soy, or light Italian dressing in place of salt or heavy sauces will add a lot of flavor with a few calories. If you are looking to flavor with spices, try garlic, onion powder, or chili powder. If sweet taste is what you are going for add a little fruit juice to the marinade. This will add a sweet taste while also tenderizing the meat. Also, a low-calorie sweetener such as sucralose can help sweeten a marinade without the added calories.
Think beyond just meat. Barbecues don’t have to be a meat lover’s paradise. Try one of the sauces/seasonings listed above on steak or chicken skewers. In between each piece of meat add pineapple, mushrooms, peppers, or any other fruit or vegetable you and your family or friends enjoy. Cut the veggies into sizes that will cook well on the grill and then grill them for about 8 – 10 minutes. If you like seafood, shrimp or fish could be a great option for grilling whole or making into skewers.
Portion distortion is still a problem on the grill. If you are making skewers, cut the meat in small pieces with loads of vegetables in between. If you are making burgers or steak, think “tapas” and cut them into smaller appetizer portions before cooking. For every piece of meat you have, try to have an equal amount of vegetable.
Traditional barbecues are centered on grilling meat, but don’t forget about the sides. Complement your meat with a healthful pasta salad made with whole wheat pasta and light Italian dressing. Or, going along with the tapas theme, make some mini appetizers such as bruschetta, hummus with olive oil and whole wheat pita, low fat artichoke dip, or a veggie tray. Take advantage of the delicious fruits in season and provide a fruit tray and a yogurt dipping sauce sweetened with sucralose for a low-calorie dessert that is sure to satisfy all your guests!