Is Keeping Up With Exercise Driving You Crazy?

5 Benefits of Wearing a Fitbit Flex

 

Staying fit is a priority at any age, but especially in the menopause years it’s easy to slack off on exercise and the next thing you know you’re piling on the pounds.

That’s why I am saving up my money to buy a Fitbit Flex. If you’re not familiar with the Fitbit Flex, it is a solid basic bracelet that you wear on your wrist. You program in your fitness goals, and the Fitbit keeps track of your progress.

It’s designed to be worn 24 hours a day, and even has a vibrating alarm that will tell you when it is time to get up and start your day.

Here are five benefits of wearing a Fitbit Flex:

It’s Waterproof:

When you drive to the gym to swim laps, you don’t have to worry about taking off the Fitbit Flex and possibly losing it. I like the fact that you can shower with it on and it just keeps on working.

Counts Daily Steps

You are probably on the go a good part of the day, and the Fitbit app keeps track of how many steps you’re taking on a daily basis. If you have set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, when you reach your goal, Fitbit awards you a fancy badge. It’s kind of like an extra pat on the back.

Tracks Water Intake

Use the Fitbit Flex app to monitor how much water you’re drinking. You even get a reminder if you’re not drinking enough fluid. What is really cool is that it takes the total water intake and calculates the average ounces a week.

Monitors Food Intake

You may have used apps before to calculate your food intake, but the Fitbit Flex app has a chart that shows you how many calories you’ve taken in vs. how many calories you’ve burned off. Follow the meal shortcuts so you don’t have to stand over a hot stove all day.

Tracks Sleep Patterns

The Fitbit app tracks your sleep so you can see how well you slept, and the times you were awake and restless. You’re going to be more productive if you’re well rested, so you can identify the things that are keeping you awake, and take action to eliminate them.

 

 

 

Are the Numbers On Your Scale Creeping Up?

5 Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in Menopause

 

According to the Center for Disease Control, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. We’re also consuming too much sodium, which can cause high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke.

Too much sodium can also cause a temporary increase on the scale, and it’s a real bummer when you do your morning weigh-in and you’re two or three pounds heavier.

You want to keep your sodium content down to less than 2300 grams a day, but not have to eat food that tastes like bland cardboard. Here are five strategies to reduce sodium intake in menopause:

Cook Fresh Food

It’s a temptation when you’ve had a hard day, to just swing by the local fast food drive-thru or go out to eat, but you can easily exceed your daily sodium intake in one meal. For example, an Angus Bacon and Cheese Burger from McDonald’s contains 2,070 grams of sodium. That is before you tack on those yummy fries to go with it.

Sear, sauté, or roast your meat, and fill up half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Change Pizza Toppings

A nice pepperoni and sausage pizza is always a favorite, but will send your sodium intake sky high. Eat healthier toppings such as Canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, or white meat chicken.

Rinse Off Canned Foods

It’s more convenient for me to buy canned beans because I don’t like standing for hours over a hot stove. Canned vegetables are fine to substitute when you don’t have time or money to cook fresh. Just rinse these canned goods with water and you’ll wash off some of the excess sodium.

Eat Smaller Portions

This is where you really need to pay attention to food labels. Determine how much salt is in one serving and eat a half portion or share with someone else.

Buy Low-Sodium Products

There’s no shortage of low-sodium soups, crackers, bread, salad dressings or condiments. Check the nutrition labels on products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt. It’s better to buy fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

How do you control your sodium intake?

Pickle Juice For Hangover and Better Digestion?

4 Unique Juices You Should be Drinking!

I remember growing up we had orange juice every day for breakfast. It was easy to serve, just pop open the frozen can, mix in some water and you were good to go.  Now that I am trying to make better food choices, I learned that an 8 oz. glass of orange juice can have as much as 21 grams of sugar.

This is true of most fruit juices, but there are exceptions. Here are four unique juices you should be drinking:

Pickle Juice

Once you eat the last pickle, it’s time to heave the jar in the trash. Not so fast. If you’ve had a night of excess drinking, pickle juice can help replenish your sodium levels caused by dehydration.  The vinegar content in pickle juice helps balance flora and bacteria which aids in digestion.

Watermelon Juice

This favorite summertime fruit is not only delicious, but since it is mostly water, you don’t have to worry about excess sugar. It is high in lycopene, which helps reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.  I like the fact that citrulline, which is an amino acid found in watermelon, can reduce soreness after a good workout.

Tart Cherry Juice

I don’t know about you, but there are many nights I can’t get to sleep. According to a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s rest. This is due to a high content of naturally occurring melatonin.

There is good news for arthritis sufferers.  In a 2012 study by the Journal of Food Studies, participants drank tart cherry juice twice daily for 21 days, and felt less arthritic pain.

Pomegranate Juice

Short-term studies have shown that pomegranate juice may benefit those with heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  This is promising research, but more studies are needed according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Pickle Juice Helps Hangover and Digestion?

4 Unique Juices You Should Be Drinking!

I remember growing up we had orange juice every day for breakfast. It was easy to serve, just pop open the frozen can, mix in some water and you were good to go.  Now that I am trying to make better food choices, I learned that an 8 oz. glass of orange juice can have as much as 21 grams of sugar.

This is true of most fruit juices, but there are exceptions. Here are four unique juices you should be drinking:

Pickle Juice

Once you eat the last pickle, it’s time to heave the jar in the trash. Not so fast. If you’ve had a night of excess drinking, pickle juice can help replenish your sodium levels caused by dehydration.  The vinegar content in pickle juice helps balance flora and bacteria which aids in digestion.

Watermelon Juice

This favorite summertime fruit is not only delicious, but since it is mostly water, you don’t have to worry about excess sugar. It is high in lycopene, which helps reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.  I like the fact that citrulline, which is an amino acid found in watermelon, can reduce soreness after a good workout.

Tart Cherry Juice

I don’t know about you, but there are many nights I can’t get to sleep. According to a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s rest. This is due to a high content of naturally occurring melatonin.

There is good news for arthritis sufferers.  In a 2012 study by the Journal of Food Studies, participants drank tart cherry juice twice daily for 21 days, and felt less arthritic pain.

Pomegranate Juice

Short-term studies have shown that pomegranate juice may benefit those with heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  This is promising research, but more studies are needed according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Don’t Turn Your Vacation into a Diet Disaster

5 Ways to Vacation in Style Without Breaking the Calorie Bank!

 

Who doesn’t love to go on vacation? New sights to see, people to have fun with, and just a complete rest from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Get some neat souvenirs to take back, but you don’t want to bring back extra pounds that may be hard to take off.

Here are five ways to vacation in style without breaking the calorie bank:

Pack Healthy Snacks

You’ll probably be eating a lot of meals out, so having healthy snacks on hand will help keep calories in check. Fill small Ziploc bags with fresh fruit, trail mix, or protein bars.  Once it’s time for dinner, you won’t be so hungry that you inhale the bread basket or order a three-course meal.

Bring Workout Equipment

Many hotels have a gym or swimming pool, so take advantage of that if possible. If not, bring an exercise DVD or a jump rope and exercise in your room. If it is a hip-hop DVD, you can close the blinds and really get crazy.

Stick to Light Drinks

Part of the fun of being on vacation is sitting and sipping one of those fancy umbrella drinks with the rest of your friends. Unfortunately, those cute drinks can add up to 500 calories, so stick with lighter options such as a Bloody Mary, white wine spritzer, or champagne.

Balance Sweets and Treats

I’m not into self-denial, and if I am at a special lunch or dinner, I don’t want to eat an apple while everyone else is having apple pie. However, I try to balance things out by doing more exercise, or eating a smaller helping.

Exercise as a Family

Kids are notorious for being bored on vacation, so a family activity such as bicycle riding should be fun for everyone. There are lots of nice bicycle trails, or if you don’t mind spending some extra money, rent Segway-powered scooters.

Throwing a football around outside allows kids to work off that nervous energy, and it doesn’t cost anything. Throw a few passes over their heads so they have to run and retrieve the ball.

 

 

 

4 Tips to Celebrate Valentine’s Day On the Cheap

And Still Get to Chow Down on Chocolate!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and visions of chocolate are dancing in my head. Everyone has their own way of celebrating. It could be a fancy dinner with wine, dancing, a couple’s massage, or a walk along the beach.

As special as this day is, it can also take a big bite out of your wallet. Fortunately, you can still celebrate with your sweetheart and not break the bank.

Here are four tips to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the cheap:

Biking

If you like to bike, there are plenty of trails to explore, and you and your sweetheart can be getting in a good workout. You don’t have to speed along, but be sure to stop from time to time to have some romantic conversation with a few hugs and kisses thrown in.

Romantic Picnic

While most people will be waiting in a long restaurant line, you and your sweetheart can find a spot you both enjoy and settle down for a romantic picnic. Of course a bottle of wine is a must, but you can get creative with the food end of it by cutting up fruit into tiny pieces for a salad, and threading skewers with ham, cheese, and cherry tomatoes.

Tiny sandwiches are the perfect finger food for a picnic, and don’t forget chocolate for dessert.

Use a Meal Service

Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean you have to cook. What could be better than having pre-portioned food delivered right to your door? Tasty dishes like steak fajitas, tomato-poached fish, and barbecued turkey meatloaf are just a few of the many entrée choices.

Plated offers these tasty entrees and often gives first-time customers a discount.

Make a Memory Box

Think of all the fun times you have shared together and put reminders in your memory box. It could be a menu from a nice restaurant, some pretty seashells from the beach, a photo you took doing something crazy like rock climbing or zip lining. Maybe you carved your initials into a tree and kept a piece of the bark.

4 Ways to Add Dark Leafy Greens to Your Diet

And Not Feel Like You're Just Eating Rabbit Food!

 

It’s important to keep up healthy eating habits in menopause. Eating the required number of fruit servings is easy to do, but including dark leafy greens in your diet is more challenging.

Dark leafy greens such as salad greens, kale, and spinach are excellent sources of Vitamin B, which your body needs to produce healthy red blood cells and you’ll feel more energetic.

There are many choices to choose from, and the trick is knowing how to prepare them so that it’s something you look forward to eating. Here are four delicious ways to prepare dark leafy greens:

Soups

Soups are one of those foods that allows you to stir in any vegetables you have on hand. A handful of spinach can be added to the soup during the last five minutes of cooking. If you’re making a cream soup, like potato, blend in some de-stemmed kale leaves.

Wraps

Spread your favorite tortillas with protein such as chicken or turkey, and pile on the romaine lettuce, spinach, or arugula. I like the spinach tortillas, but use the kind you like or experiment with a new flavor.

Kale Chips

Kale is rich in Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale chips can be purchased at a health food store, but you may want to try making them at home. This easy recipe only calls for three ingredients and then bakes in the oven.

If you want to experiment, blend in some herbs or spices. For extra crunchy chips, try adding sunflower seeds or cashews.

Omelet

The sky is the limit when it comes to making an omelet, and it’s also the perfect opportunity to sneak in some vegetables. This tasty omelet calls for a pound of leafy greens including collard greens, mustard greens, and beet greens.

How do you use dark leafy greens in your diet?

5 Tasty Ways To Eat More Fruit

And Have Fun Doing It!

 

Of course it is best to eat fresh fruit, and my favorites are bananas and apples. Strawberries are nice with a dollop or two, (well, three or four for me), of whipped cream. When the Farmer’s Market is in town, I like to eat fresh peaches or apricots.

However, I get tired of eating plain fruit and since I like to experiment, I have come up with a few new ideas. Here are five fun ways to add fruit to your diet:

Hit the Salad Bar

When you go out to eat, make sure the salad bar is included in your meal. One of my favorites is a fruit cup. Blueberries, strawberries, apples, and mandarin oranges are mixed together and I like the different tastes and textures. Another favorite is cottage cheese and pineapple.

Juice Bars

An icy cold juice bar hits the spot on a hot day and is usually offered in different flavors. One word of caution, make sure you are purchasing bars with 100% juice. Better yet, get some Popsicle sticks and make your own recipe.

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

It’s fun to eat from a skewer and adding cheese to the skewers bumps up the protein. Cut your favorite cheese into small cubes. Use wooden skewers and alternate threading between green grapes, cheese and strawberries. In just minutes, you’re ready to sit down and enjoy.

Substitute Applesauce for Oil

When you’re baking a cake or cookies, substituting unsweetened applesauce instead of oil cuts the fat and calories. Use the same measurement as you would for oil. If you are baking for a special occasion, do a test bake first, and see if you need to make adjustments.

Fruit Dip

Fruit is delicious by itself, but making a fruit dip using low-fat yogurt adds even more delicious flavor and nutrition. If you’re crunched for time, try this dip that only calls for three ingredients.

5 Healthy Breakfast Options to Eat on the Run

No, Pop Tarts Are Not on the List!

 

Mornings are a busy time, and it doesn’t take much to throw you off schedule. By the time you get yourself and the kids dressed, and everyone is ready to go their separate ways, there may not be enough time for you to eat breakfast.

Instead of skipping breakfast altogether or eating a donut, you need a breakfast that tastes good, and will keep you full until lunch.

Here are five healthy breakfast options to eat on the run:

Energy Bars

These tasty banana protein balls can be made ahead of time and then sealed in individual bags. They’re vegan-friendly, and at 47 calories a bar, you don’t have to worry if you eat more than one. Best of all, there are over eight grams of protein in each bar, so you’ll be less tempted to hit the vending machine.

Yogurt Parfait

I love the yogurt parfait from McDonald’s, but you can make your own parfait with a lot less sugar. You’ll need a mason jar for storage.  Layer healthy ingredients such as plain Greek yogurt, your favorite fruit, granola or quinoa, and then top with nuts. Your on-the-go breakfast is ready!

Apple Mug Muffins

You can’t get much more convenient than making a healthy breakfast in a mug. Instead of sugar, this recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Combine the rest of the ingredients, zap in the microwave for two minutes, and you’re ready to go out the door.

Breakfast Smoothie

To save time, you can use frozen berries of your choice, and blend in some flaxseed. Flaxseed is a good source of fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower your triglycerides. This smoothie is sweetened with honey, and fat-free yogurt gives it a creamier texture.

Frittata Muffins

What a delicious way to get the protein of eggs, and sneak in a few healthy vegetables! You can make these muffins on the weekend and just pop one in your bag as you leave for work.

 

 

5 Small Tweaks to Jumpstart Your Diet

You Won't Even Feel Deprived!

 

Dieting is a pain in the neck under any circumstances, but when you think you’re doing everything right and the scale still doesn’t budge, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and go back to eating your high-calorie favorites.

Don’t give up yet. By making some small tweaks to your diet, you can easily be on the road to your dream body.

Here are five small tweaks to jumpstart your diet:

Lighten Up Your Coffee

The days when you drank coffee at home are long gone, and ordering a large latte with sugary syrup can really make the calories add up. Try drinking a cup of black coffee or coffee with just cream or sugar, but not both.

Better yet switch to green tea. According to a study by the American Physiological Society, green tea drinkers have lower BMIs and less body fat.

Drink Lemon Water

You should be drinking water throughout the day, and each time you fill your glass, squeeze some lemon juice in. Citrus acts as a diuretic, and going to the bathroom more often, means you’re not as bloated. As an added bonus, you may experience a brief spike in your metabolic rate.

Eat Slower

When you have a busy day, it’s tempting to just gulp down your food as quickly as possible, but your brain needs time to process that full feeling, and you end up overeating. Chew each bite 25 times, and note how your food tastes. Another good trick is to put your fork down between bites.

Keep Gym Clothes in the Car

How many times have you wanted to hit the gym after work, but forgot your gym clothes? So instead of getting in that good workout, you go home and beach on the couch eating chips.

Stash sneakers and leggings in the trunk before work, so you’re all set at the end of the work day.

Grocery Shop After Eating

When I go down the store aisles, I feel like I can inhale 1000 calories just perusing the bakery aisle. I end up buying a treat more times than I care to count. Eat your meal or snack first and then shop. One other tip is to make an exact list and stick to it. Resist the urge to buy the 2-for-1 cookies or chips, and pass up the free samples.

What small tweaks have you made to your diet?