{May 14, 2012}   Stress hurts. Lose it.

It’s finals week for me and stress is at an all-time high. If I’m not actively studying for a test I’m worrying about one, and that can be just as bad. But it’s time like these that I remember how important it is to prioritize and find time to release some of that anxiety. There is hope for all of you worriers out there, and it can come in many forms. Unsurprisingly, one great way to get rid of excess stress is to work out. It’s not only good for your body, but it affords you some time to clear your mind. If you don’t want to get your gym on, try just taking a walk. This a good way to take a quick break from studying or working and give yourself time to relax. If that doesn’t help, make yourself a cup of tea or a healthy snack and take a few minutes to enjoy it. You’ll find that there are plenty of useful ways to rid yourself of that extra stress you’ve been carrying around. And remember, giving yourself a break is just another step in a healthy lifestyle.


{May 8, 2012}   Forbidden Foods

There’s that little corner of everybody’s pantry with the forbidden foods, the ones we tell ourselves we can’t eat because they’re too “bad” for us. But here’s something many people may not know: a lot of those so-called “bad” foods have actually just gotten a bad rap. Here are a few you should consider adding back into your diet, or at least back into your “good” pile:

1. Nuts. They are oftentimes high in fat and calories, but this snack is chock full of nutrients. You don’t have to eat a lot to get their value. Try adding them into a trail mix for a powerful midday snack.

2. Avocados. They’re very high in fat, causing many people to put them aside for times of weakness only. But much of the fat is actually “good” fat and can help reduce the risk for heart disease and some forms of cancer. Not only that, but it boasts high fiber, potassium and vitamins.

3. Cheese. Many people assume that cheese is just too fatty to be considered acceptable for a diet. But by eliminating it, you are also losing the calcium and positive nutrients it has to offer. The best way to keep cheese in your diet is to figure out which varieties will satisfy your craving and deliver the greatest health benefit.

Now go into your pantry (or fridge), pull out one of those so-called “bad” foods and make a healthy meal. Happy eating 🙂

{May 2, 2012}   Give yourself a break

Diets are hard. We say “no” to ourselves constantly, keeping our sub-conscious cravings in check. But this can become a tiring, 24-hour job, and immersing ourselves in it can actually be counterproductive.

I’ve talked about body image before, but it can’t be stressed enough. We punish ourselves for bad food choices, for not being strong enough or having enough will-power to say no. What many people don’t know is that self-criticism is actually harmful to a diet, and can make you indulge more. Instead of punishing yourself for eating badly, reward yourself by eating well. Remember, no one is forcing you to make healthy choices. This is a lifestyle, and it cannot be maintained without a desire to be healthier and in-shape.

Dieting isn’t about denying yourself; it’s about giving yourself what your body needs to be at its strongest.  When you eat something off your diet, don’t lose your mind in a frenzy of self-loathing. Instead, take a portion that will give you a taste of what you’re craving; don’t go over the top. And when you’re done, you will have enjoyed something. Food is meant to be enjoyed, by the way…remember that. And then plan the rest of your day accordingly. For example, if you get dessert with lunch, make sure your dinner is a bit more calorie-conscious. You’re not doing yourself any good by giving in to self-hatred. Life is about enjoying what you have, not depriving yourself. Just make good portion choices, and keep “everything in moderation” in your mind.

{April 25, 2012}   Just do it.

You’re busy. You have school or work (or possibly both) weighing you down. Your schedule couldn’t possibly get any busier.  Looking at your to-do list, it’s easy to take working out off the agenda. It’s extraneous. It can be pushed back as far as necessary to get all of your other work done. But this method is not constructive, nor will it give you results. Working out is a way to give back to your body. It’s not just a time to clear your head of the stressful clutter of modern life, but also a way to do something healthy for yourself. The minute you remove it from your schedule, you are letting yourself become more bogged down with unnecessary worries. Do yourself a favor: don’t cross the gym off your list until you’ve finished your workout. Your body will thank you. And once you have had the chance to clear your mind a bit, you might just be glad you stuck with it.

{April 18, 2012}   I have a problem.

It’s true: I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic. I love chocolate in basically any form. Before I started eating healthier, I ate an amount of chocolate per day that scares even myself. Now that I’m eating better, I still have chocolate every so often (ok, once a day) just to pick my day up a bit. There’s a reason for this, other than my obvious addiction. It’s been proven that chocolate is not only good for you, but can also help your diet.  No, you’re not dreaming. Recent studies have shown that dark chocolate may actually improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure. But now, research shows that people who eat chocolate on a regular basis have lower BMI’s (body mass index) than those who do not. The reasons behind this are unclear, though it could be that the antioxidants found in dark chocolate can also serve to give your metabolism a boost. But why question it? To me, this is a diet win. Remember, however, that eating chocolate is not a replacement for working out, nor should it be used as a constant source of nourishment. It is, and always will be, a nice little treat to come back to at the end of a hard day. Emphasis onlittle. Be mindful of portion sizes, people. But enjoy 🙂

{April 15, 2012}   Getting fit without the gym

The gym can be quite boring. There’s only so many routines you can try and so much equipment you can take advantage of. That’s why it’s important to bring fitness into your life in ways beyond the traditional gym work outs. With the weather becoming more and more inviting, try bringing your work out outside. Go for a run or a brisk walk to get your body moving. For a better work out, play sports with friends. This is a great way to socialize with your peers and burn calories at the same time. There’s plenty to do to get yourself outdoors and  on your way to a healthier body. Working out shouldn’t have to be strenuous and frustrating. On the contrary, having fun with your fitness program will make you more committed to it and eager to continue. Eventually, you might even find that it becomes a regular part of your day.

{April 11, 2012}   Eating badly…so well

It’s no secret that most of the foods we generally love and crave are high in fat and calories, and mostly low in nutritional value. That’s why we love them so much. I find my self-control slipping away as I watch commercials showing creamy chocolatey goodness, or the newest specials at Olive Garden. Macaroni and Cheese has always been my weakness. But contrary to poular belief, you don’t have to completely give up your favorite foods for your diet: just make them healthier. Even desserts can be made healthier, and thus better for your diet.  It’s all about what you put in and what you take out. Making healthy foods that satisfy your not-so-healthy cravings may be much easier than you ever thought. So next time you’re in the kitchen, grab your laptop and search for healthy versions of your favorite recipes. Be adventurous, change it up, and have fun with your food. You don’t have to munch on salad and veggies all the time to succeed on your diet; you just have to be creative.

{April 9, 2012}   Eating out, on your terms

Eating out should not have to be a frightening experience. There is enough in life that causes stress; dining experiences should not be added to that list. When you’re eating at a restaurant, it’s important to remember that you are still in control of your diet. Just because someone else is preparing your food doesn’t mean you are forced to dig into whatever your mind tells you to order. Just be smart. Drink water throughout the meal to make you more full and hydrated. Check out the menu and nutritional information at home before you leave, and check out the options that will serve your body best. Always choose fruits or vegetables as a side to your entree. Don’t fill up on bread before the meal; if you can, skip the bread entirely. If the menu at the restaurant has  a healthy section, make your selection from there. Don’t be afraid to make substitutions to your meal to enhance its healthy qualities and decrease its fat and calorie content. You can control what you eat. Don’t let peer pressure force you to make bad choices. And most importantly, if you’re full, stop eating. No one is forcing the food down your throat, and there happens to be a refrigerator at home waiting to receive leftovers.

{April 3, 2012}   Changing it up

Working out can get pretty boring. Each routine is the same: get on the treadmill for half an hour, take a breather with some ab work outs and call it a day. You might be surprised, however, to learn that a very important part of your healthy lifestyle is varying your work out. It’s surprising how easily your body can get used to your workout regimen. The whole point of exercising is to improve your physical condition, not just of one or two key areas but of your entire body. Don’t settle for one boring routine when you can change up your conditioning and get better workouts at the same time. Remember, cardio isn’t everything. In fact, adding resistance training to your workout will build more muscle and make you more fit, faster. Exercising isn’t about getting on the elliptical and calling it a day; it requires working out the great variety of muscles your body has, and giving yourself the best possible results for the time you spend.

{March 28, 2012}   An apple a day

It isn’t news to anybody that fruits and vegetables are healthy, especially for someone on a diet. But there are some fruits that are so good for you, they should be given the honor of their own post. Apples are one such fruit. Not only do they have fiber which leaves you feeling full, but they also boast a wide range of nutrients that will leave your body happy. Those nutrients have been proven to keep people healthy and stave off some unpleasant conditions. If you’re not the type of person to bring an apple with you to munch on (which is  a great snack during the day, by the way), there are quite a few healthy recipes that include apples. We all know how beneficial it is to cook your own meals. So sometime this week, take a trip to the kitchen, slice up a few apples, and get cooking.

et cetera