Diet & Nutrition Tips

Skipping Breakfast Can Sabotage Weight Loss

Before Steve and I got married, I seldom ate breakfast. Since Steve was in school for exercise and nutrition at that time, he knew how important breakfast was. I, on the other hand, was in the habit of flying out the door with only a cup of coffee if I was lucky. Thankfully, Steve never gave up on me and I finally convinced me to start my day off right by teaching me a few important nutritional facts.

While I didn’t eat breakfast because I didn’t make the time, many dieters may skip breakfast just to skip the extra calories. Ironically, studies found people who miss breakfast are actually 4 1/2 times more likely to be overweight. Our body needs breakfast to stay fit and here’s why.

4 Benefits to Eating Breakfast

  1. It fuels your body. Adults often rely on a cup of coffee to get them ready for the day, when food is what the body really needs. You must replenish the supply of glucose that you lose overnight with a healthy morning meal. Once you get your blood sugar up, you’ll have the energy you need – with or without the coffee!
  1. It increases your metabolism. After an overnight fast (breakfast = break the fast), your metabolism is at an all-time low each morning. Your metabolism speeds back up after you eat. If you miss breakfast, you are missing a great opportunity to increase your metabolism and burn more calories.
  1. It keeps you sharp. When I was young, my mom always fixed me a healthy breakfast on exam days. I just thought the special treatment was to show her support. Little did I know it actually had an affect on my brain! Now I know when we deprive our self of food, we deprive our self of energy and fuel for the brain. Thanks mom!
  1. Prevents overeating at lunchtime. Skipping breakfast sets you up for making poor choices later in the day. Suddenly fast food sounds like a good idea when you finally get hungry, whether you are dieting or not. When you get really hungry, you tend to go for the quick fixes – which are normally high in fat and calories. You’ll have a lot more self control during at lunch if you give your body what it needs in the morning.

Choose Your Breakfast Wisely

Don’t Skip Your Fat
Fat slows digestion and gives you fuel to energize you. This keeps you feeling fuller longer and keeps you feeling energized.Having more beneficial fat in your diet produces muscle gain with training because it supports hormone balance and recovery from intense exercise. A higher fat diet while restricting carbs can elevate growth hormone, which inhibits muscle breakdown too. This makes a high-protein, high-fat diet a great diet for any fitness enthusiast.

Beef Up Your Breakfast
Another way to increase satiety is to pair low-glycemic carbohydrates with protein for breakfast. The more filling your breakfast is, the less likely you will want to reach for a snack or go off the deep in come lunch time. In addition to satiety, a high-protein breakfast also increases your alertness, because it provides the amino acids your brain needs to function at its optimal level. So if you really want a boost in the morning, you need more than just a cup of coffee.

cinnamon rollWatch Your Carbs
Cereal, pastries and muffins are high in sugar and carbohydrates. As a result, the energy you get from this type of breakfast is short-lived. However, a low-carb breakfast stabilizes your blood sugar. This helps prevent cravings and also will stabilize your metabolism and energy. It also encourages your body to use fat stores for energy – which is great for weight loss.

 

Atkins Breakfast Sandwiches

Atkins BreakfastIf you are searching for a quick and easy breakfast on the run, try some of the Atkins breakfast sandwiches. They meet all the above criteria and are convenient for the person on the go! Atkins breakfasts all have a healthy dose of fat to keep you full, ample protein for alertness and to preserve muscle, and low net carbs to help you burn fat stores and boost weight loss.

Steve and I ate them before our trip to Epcot and they lasted us several hours, and were really yummy too! (It was GREAT with hot sauce by the way!!) My dog was just a little jealous that he couldn’t try them too! haha

atkins breakfast

Nutritional info:

• 19g Protein

• No Sugar Added

• 340 Calories

• Only 5g Net Carbs

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.

Holiday Survival Kit: Wallet, Phone, Keys and a Bar

Christmas Diet TipsThe holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Not only do we still have our regular list of things to do, but now we also have to fit in Christmas shopping, football games, holiday parties and special events too. As we all run around like a chicken with its head cut off, it’s easy to neglect our bodies.

This is the time of year when our workouts and diet suffers. We don’t make time to eat, and when we do finally eat, it’s not as healthy as it should be – plus we overeat because we waited until we were completely starving to finally stop for food.

You can prevent a LOT of damage by doing this one simple thing: Bring a bar everywhere you go. Seriously, before you leave the house, you should grab your phone, grab your wallet, grab your keys and grab a bar – like the Atkins Blueberry Greek Yogurt Bar.

When we get too hungry, we get stupid – plain and simple. 

IMG_3347Having a bar handy can prevent so many diet boo-boos.

If you think about all the times you’ve given in to fast food or overeaten at dinner, it’s typically because you allowed yourself to get too hungry. When we get too hungry we get stupid – plain and simple.

We think of stupid ways to get food. We rationalize our poor decisions and we make exceptions to our normal dietary rules. This can all be prevented with one simple healthy snack bar.

Below are my list of top 10 reasons you should have a bar handy – and why!

 

Top 10 Times to Have a Bar Handy

  1. WORKING – If you are like me, you can work long hours without rest and, suddenly, you are starving to death. Midday is the perfect time to have a bar. It will give you the boost you need to perform well, and you won’t be as hungry by suppertime.
  2. STUDYING – If you are a student, you should always have a bar in your backpack. If young students snack on a bar on their bus ride, or walking route, home, they will be less likely to invade the pantry as soon as they walk in the door. Many students also have end of the year exams in December, so it’s good to have extra brain food on hand to help them stay alert and sharp.
  3. CHEERING – Tis the season for football cheering, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! Bring a bar with you to all the games. It not only will save you from buying a high-price hot dog, but it will save you the calories too!
  4. SHOPPING – Graze on a bar while shopping. This will help you resist the food court, and will keep your energy level up. Always have a bar with you when you go to the grocery store too. Sometimes you will find you are hungrier than you thought once you get there – then you’ll throw everything but the kitchen sink in your grocery cart because you are thinking with your stomach and not your brain! lol
  5. travelingTRAVELING – Pack bars with you on road trips. Having a bar in the car, ready for your next hunger pain, can reduce unnecessary snack stops as well as curb appetite until you find the next restaurant.
  6. PARTYING – Eat a bar before going to a Holiday Party. You’ll be less likely to overeat all the high-calorie holiday fair. A bar is also great to have for those holiday dinners with the office. It can take a long time to serve a large number of people, so it’s good to have a bar on hand in case it takes two hours to just get your salad.
  7. SIPPING – Bring a bar to your favorite coffee house. Atkins bars taste like a real treat, so enjoy it with a cup of joe instead of sharing your coffee with a high-fat high-carb scone or muffin.
  8. EXERCISING – Pack a bar in your gym bag. You should always have a bar in your gym bag in case your blood sugar drops or you lack energy for your workout.
  9. WATCHING – This is the season for long concerts, plays, recitals and Christmas specials. Bring a bar with you to snack on during intermission so don’t want to eat a horse when the even is over.
  10. DRIVING – The holidays will have you running all over creation – going on errands, playing taxi for your kids and packing in as many honey-dos as possible. This is why I always have a bar in my car. It’s my emergency bar stash. My car is never without a bar, so I’m never stuck in the car hungry.

Bars, Bars, Bars

Here is a list of Atkin’s Advantage Bars. These bars are great as a meal replacement, or a really filling snack. Bars are available at CVS, Publix, WinnDixie, WalMart, Target, Sam’s and many other common grocery stores. With a total of 24 varieties of delicious snack and meal bars, Atkins has something for everyone and their snacking preference. Bring along an Atkins Advantage bar such as the Blueberry Greek Yogurt bar or the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bar. They’re portable and can be eaten anytime you’re on the go or you need a satisfying snack or light meal. Each bar is packed with protein and fiber to keep you satisfied when you’re too busy to eat a full meal.

Atkins Advantage bars

Atkins Blueberry Greek Yogurt Bar
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel
Strawberry Almond Bar
Cinnamon Bun Bar
Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
Cookies & Cream Bar
Mud Slide Bar
Peanut Butter Granola Bar
Peanut Fudge Granola Bar
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.

8 Ways to Gobble Up Excuses Over Thanksgiving

“Do you skip your bath because it takes time away from your family over the holidays? Of course not! There are some priorities that should always stay in place no matter what – and fitness is one of them.”

We like to make excuses around this time of year. “I’m too busy”. “I don’t know how to count Thanksgiving meal calories.” “The gym is closed.” “I’m tired.” “We’ll be out of town.” “I need to spend time with family.” “I can’t control myself around all that food”. “I deserve a break”… The list goes on.

Let me tell you, it is ridiculous that we even think any of those excuses will get you out of a workout free and clear. For every excuse someone has, someone out there is working out despite having the same excuses. In addition, there are reasons why even a good excuse is a bad reason to skip your workout.

8 Holiday Excuses Busters:

1. “I’m too busy” – You have time to watch TV, get on facebook, read my blog, sleep late, stay up late, etc. “Too busy” often means, not having as much free time to live life how you prefer. Busy means you need to schedule your day better. It means you can’t just play it by ear and hope you have enough time left over to do extra stuff. When you are busy, it means you need to do what matters most first and get it out of the way. When you don’t HAVE time, you have to MAKE time.

2. “I don’t know how to count Thanksgiving meal calories.” – You should at least try. Use your noggin. Guess the ingredients of the meal. Using the LoseIt app, look up similar dishes served at restaurants, etc., but don’t just not even try. Make it fun. See if people can guess and look it up, like a trivia game. You’ll learn a lot along the way, make better choices and entertain your family with interesting facts.

3. “The gym is closed.” Most gyms are closed on Thanksgiving Day – Big Whoop! You don’t need a gym to sweat. Try one of our Designer Whey workouts online. Any of the training plans from Design Your Body (weight loss and body sculpting program), Basic Training (beginner program), Savage Training (advanced workout), or any of the single workout regimens, are perfect for working out at home or in a hotel. And, of course there is always the road! Take a walk, go for a run. Just commit to 15-30 minutes. You’ll feel a MILLION times better if you do SOMEthing rather than nothing. Here’s a quick 5 minute workout from DesignerWhey you can do anywhere. Repeat 3-5 times.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/_wnBeqVFpSo]

4. “I’m SO tired.” – Even MORE of a reason to workout. Exercise is exhilarating. It revs the metabolism and boosts energy. And, if you have been light on sleep, it helps you sleep better. So scratch that excuse off your list.

5. “We’ll be out of town.” – People train on the road all the time. The first step is planning. Pack your gym clothes, Reeboks & yurbuds. With apps like RunKeeper, you no longer need to have to map out a course ahead of time. You can step out of your grandma’s driveway and start running, and the RunKeeper will tell you how far you have gone so you know exactly how long to run. Also, most hotels have gyms, and if they don’t, you can use one of the above programs to guide you through a workout in your hotel room. No weights? Improvise! 1 gallon of water is 8.33lbs. Use a set of jugs for dumbbells to do some of the exercises shown below in this video.  Bodyweight exercises are awesome and equally effective – especially when done fast with little rest.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Ud4e9VuSwzE]

6. “I need to spend time with family” – I totally get it. Family should ALWAYS be first.  But I think this picture is a pretty typical description of what most “quality family time” looks like. We go to grandma’s and everyone gathers in the kitchen to eat or the living room to sit in front of the TV. You could set the active pace. You could make an impact on your family be setting an example. Play catch outside, go for a walk, play Wii with the kids. Even if you have to leave and go for a run, I think they’ll forgive you for taking care of your health. Do you skip your bath because it takes time away from your family? No! Of course not! There are some priorities that should always stay in place no matter what. Standard grooming habits, your physical health, and your spiritual health need to remain constant. If you do them first and get them out of the way, you will find you have AMPLE time with your family and you’ll have more energy and a better attitude too!

7. I can’t control myself” – Really? You CAN’T control yourself, or you WON’T? Saying you can’t control yourself before you even face the Thanksgiving table is telling yourself in advance that you will fail. That is ridiculous. It’s this simple. You either WANT to get fit and be thin, or you WANT to taste food more. You need to gain control of your body and not let your tongue boss you around. Saying no is empowering. You absolutely can control yourself around food. One, don’t go to the dinner table hungry. Eat something before you surround yourself with tempting food. Two, don’t even negotiate it. Don’t waste time contemplating whether you should have something or not. Keep your rules black and white, no grey. If it’s going to interfere with your goal, skip it. If you aren’t willing to burn it off, skip it. You have more control than you think.

8. “I deserve a break” – If you are happy with where your weight is, that is fine. Take a break and enjoy the family – especially if you are consistent in your workouts and rarely take a day off. BUT, if you are unhappy with your weight, if you are sporadic with your workouts, or find it hard to stick with a program, then you don’t need a break. A break can actually mess you up in a bad way. Not only do you consume a LOT more calories during this time of year, you won’t be burning as many calories by taking a break – a double whammy! AND, getting out of a routine can set you up for a downward spiral of laziness and lack of motivation. When you workout, you become more protective over what you eat, so you’re likely to make better decisions even if you still cheat. Also, working out mentally keeps you “in the game”. Don’t lose momentum by giving in to taking a day off just because a friend can afford to. You have to do what YOU need to do to stick with your program and keep moving toward your goal. Even if it’s strictly for damage control, don’t let a pity-party convince you to be lazy.

If you skip your workout, will it kill ya? NO! But will it affect you? YES. Sometimes just mentally. In reality, the extra calories with the lack of calories burned can set you back a whole week. Ironically, just 30 minutes is enough to make a big difference. If you can’t do your normal routine during the holidays, do SOMEthing. Keep your eye on the prize! You’ll feel great and be THANKFUL you did!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

The REAL Secret to Weight Loss

the Secret to Diet & Weight LossYou are probably wondering if there really is a secret to weight loss. In a way, I believe there is. Each diet company would love you to believe that they have something special to their weight loss success (and most companies really do have something that makes their diet different than others), but there is one secret most companies don’t want you to figure out. That’s what I plan to address in this blog.

There is one thing almost all diet brands and supplement companies have in common. They all follow a daily caloric budget around 1200-1500 calories for women and 1500-1800 calories for men to lose weight. That’s why most of these diets work – they are all based on specific caloric restrictions (that’s their big secret). However, they don’t work for everyone because not everyone is willing to stick with their particular “special” program. Another words, they ALL would work if everyone stuck with them like they are supposed to.

Common Diets:
Zone Diet: 1200-1500 calories a day
Atkins Diet: 1500-1800 calories a day
Weight NutriSystem: 1200-1350 calories a day for women/1400-1500 for men
Sugar Busters Diet: 1200 calories a day
Jenny Craig: 1200 calories a day
Note: these restrictions may vary depending on height and weight

You see, while most mainstream diets are all based on the same foundation of taking in fewer calories than you burn, they each have a different method of where you should get those calories (which is their “special something” that sets their diet apart from others). Although I could go into more detail about what types of foods we should eat, or why different diets are better than others, that’s kind of like talking to someone about multiplication when they don’t even understand 2+2 yet. Capish? Ok, let’s get back to the secret then.

Weight Loss Kindergarten 

abcWhat do you learn in kindergarten? You learn the basics, like learning how to count. Consider this blog weight loss kindergarten – and like kindergarten, the first thing we need to tackle is simple math (which is the foundation of every diet plan on the planet).

If you want to gain weight, you need to eat more than you burn. If you want to stay the same weight, but just reshape your physique, you should eat as many calories as you currently burn (but change what you eat and what you do in the gym). If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn.

Luckily, there is so much wonderful technology (like the LoseIt app) that will tell you how many calories you should eat based on your goals. But, in my opinion, learning about weight management is like learning math. You shouldn’t have to rely on a calculator to get the answer to 2+2. That’s something you should have a good understanding of without technology’s help.

To make fitness a lifestyle, you need to understand the process. Another words, while you can enjoy using apps like LoseIt (as I do), you should have a basic understanding of why the app (and how our body) works.

Here is weight loss 101. It’s the basics. It’s the kindergarden class on basic weight management arithmetic.

Step #1: Find out how many calories you burn a day

A. Choose Your Activity:
1.3 – sedentary, sitting most of the day, light housework/work
1.4 – light activity, work, housework, exercise 2-3 X a week, stand or walk at work
1.5-1.6 – moderately active, all the above activities, exercise 1 hour 3-4 X a week
1.7 – very active, all the above daily activities, exercise 1-2 hours every day

B. Choose Your Metabolism:
10 – Slow (Sleepy after a meal)
11 – Normal (normal or feel the same after a meal)
12 – Fast (Fidgety or hyper after a meal)

C. Apply Above Numbers in this Simple Formula:

WEIGHT X ACTIVITY = RESULT X METABOLISM (B) = CALORIES BURNED (Metabolism)

For example. My weight (138) X my activity (1.6) = 220.8 X my metabolism (12) = 2,650

Try this online calculator. (it has me at 2,300, so this would be my window: 2,300-2,600 calories a day to maintain my weight).

What does that mean?

What does 2,650 calories mean? It means, that is approximately the number of calories my body burns every day – and that is how many calories I need to maintain my current weight. So, I can eat 2,650 calories a day, and if I continue the same activity, I will not lose weight or gain weight. But what if I want to lose weight? Then, I need to eat fewer than 2,650 calories a day. So the next question is how much fewer?

It takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat.

#2 Plan & Predict your weight loss

predict futurePeople often ask me questions like, “do you think I can lose 10lbs in 6 weeks?” I am able to answer this with great confidence because of simple math. I can predict how much weight someone should lose each week, down to the exact weight they want to be on a given day. This is how we get someone ready for the stage. I’m no fortune teller, and to be honest, I’m not even all that smart. I just know basic arithmetic and weight loss principles.

You maybe doubting if this is truly possible. Can I really tell you what you could weigh in 3 months from now? Yep! LoseIt uses basic math too. After you put in your weight loss goals, LoseIt will tell you when you should reach that goal. Here’s how it works.

Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500—1000 calories per day to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week. – Center of Disease Control

It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. If you want to lose 2lbs a week, you should be in a 1,000-calorie deficit a day. For instance, if I am burning 2,650 calories a day, I can lose 2lbs a week if I eat 1,600 calories a day. You can also increase your deficit by burning more calories a day, rather than only reducing calories each day. So, if I do a kickboxing class on top of my normal training, that’s another 500 calories I can either eat, or I can add to my weekly weight loss. Now, practice your own fortune telling skills out with this simple equation.

CALORIES BURNED – CALORIES CONSUMED = PROJECTED WEIGHT LOSS

#3 Plan Your Maintenance 

Once you’ve lost the weight, you would redo the above equation to determine how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight. As I said before, for me, that’s 2,650 calories a day. I weigh-in regularly to make sure I don’t let the scale creep up too much. When I go over my ideal weight, I return to counting calories until I lose the weight again.

Q. & A. – Top 5 Common Questions

Here are a few common questions I get when it comes to talking about calories.

Q&AQ: Do you really have to count calories to lose weight?

A. No. Do you need to balance your checkbook to maintain your desired balance? You can rely on guesses if you want, but you have a lot more room for error when doing that. If you want to be SURE your balance doesn’t drop below a certain point, you will keep a close eye on the checks and balances of your bank account – and the same goes for your weight. You can follow a diet that counts calories for you (but be restricted to their diet plan) OR you can learn how to follow the principles of the diet and count calories yourself, choosing foods you enjoy.

Q. Will I have to always count calories? 

A. No. When you first bought groceries, you probably had NO idea how much the total was going to be. However, the more you shop, the more experience you have with knowing what a normal shopping trip will cost you. The more you count calories, the more accurately you will be able to guess the weight and calories of different foods. You will use your experience to help you make better choices. Then, if you gain weight, you can go back to being more strict, counting calories again, until you lose the weight – like going on a budget after overspending.

Q. Why does LoseIt have my daily caloric budget so low?

A. Because they don’t add exercise in. That is something you will do. LoseIt says I can only have 968 calories a day (if I don’t exercise) to lose 2lbs a week.  However, if I run 3 miles, it adds 300 calories, giving me a new caloric budget of 1,268 calories a week. Each day your caloric budget will adjust around your activity. BUTTTT, don’t go crazy adding every activity you do – adding stuff like “vacuuming” unless you are actually doing it for exercise or sport!  This is my opinion, but I only add activity I use specifically designated for exercise. Anything else would only be added to make me feel better about myself, and about eating more. lol

Q. My clothes are getting smaller but my weight is staying the same. What does that mean?

weight-scaleA. It means you are eating as much a you are burning – but you are probably gaining muscle and losing fat because you are eating better. However, this still means you are eating too many calories. So, I’d make sure everything you are counting is accurate. Compare calories to other calorie searches to make sure you have accurate information. Make sure your measurements are correct also. Look for missing ingredients, food or drink you are not logging. Make sure you are logging as you are eating, and not logging at the end of the day, only relying on your memory. The bottom line is this, even if you are losing fat and gaining muscle, you should still be losing weight on the scale if you are eating fewer calories than you are burning.

Q. I can’t lose weight. Is it possible I’m eating too few calories?

A. No. You may be eating too few calories at times (meaning, you may be starving yourself for hours and then overeating when you finally do eat). This may make your body want to hold onto the fat you have if it has no idea when you are going to give your body its next meal. There is a really good reason why diets have you eating 5-6 times a day. They don’t want your body to go into starvation mode, which would slow your metabolism down. They want your metabolism to speed up and start burning stored fat. If you are not losing weight, it’s likely you are still averaging too many calories for the week. You just need to to eat more OFTEN, not just more.

Get More Facts

Don’t just believe me. Read more from the Center of Disease Control & Prevention.

 

DIET TALK: Do You Have Plan B?

Atkins Breakfast SandwichWhile I primarily eat whole food on the Atkins Diet, I am also enjoying their frozen dinners. Let’s be realistic. We can’t always do Plan A, and cook a fresh meal. Life gets hectic and we need to have a Plan B. Plan B for Atkins is pre-packaged meals – and it’s been a relief to have that option in a pinch.

The first Atkins meal I got to try was the breakfast sandwich. Since Atkins allows for more fat in their foods, a small breakfast sandwich stuck with me longer than low-fat, high-carb versions. I threw some hot sauce on this bad boy and it was quite tasty! (Marley wanted to taste it too! Lol)

Atkins Frozen Meals:

  • High quality proteins without fillers
  • Premium cuts of vegetables
  • Gravies and sauces made with real natural creams and butter
  • No added sugars or preservatives
  • 4-7g Net Carbs per meal
  • Fits all 4 phases of Atkins

Pre-Packaged Food: Good or Bad?

ATKINS FROZEN MEALSI have to laugh when people slam pre-packaged foods. While I absolutely agree that whole foods are ideal (and the healthiest option), ideal isn’t always realistic. Ironically, it’s often times the same people who want to argue about frozen food who never think twice about eating out – not realizing many restaurants relay on pre-packaged foods too. (Granted, I do know some of my fit-friends are totally and successfully dedicated to eating organic and completely healthy – and you are our idol. But, for the rest of us mere humans, we just do our best. ;)  )

Here’s my take on pre-packaged foods for the health-conscience:
They are convenient, and much better than other convenient options. So many people would be so much thinner and healthier if they chose frozen dinners over eating out. Some people complain they are too expensive, yet they’ll drop double the money on a biggie size meal. While it is an initial investment upfront, they can save you money in the long run.

summer saladHealthy intentions are wasted if it never turns into healthy actions. This requires honesty – to your self and to others. You can never succeed if you aren’t realistic about what you are willing to do, or not to do. People set their sites too high, with great intentions to cook healthy food. But, as life gets busy, they find themselves in a bind, sitting at a drive-through window with a car full of kids because they didn’t have time between school and soccer practice to actually cook a real meal. Meanwhile, their fresh veggies are rotting in the fridge because they haven’t had the time to cook. Good intentions? Yes. Bad actions? Yes. Easy and convenient trumps healthy yet once again. However, this wouldn’t happen if you had go-to meals on hand, or you had prepared your meals in advance.

Plan to Succeed

Plan A – You can’t cook healthy if you don’t shop healthy. Plan A begins with shopping smart. Atkins actually gives you a shopping list of foods you can buy to help you shop healthier when you sign up for their free online tools. They also offer recipes and meal plans to help you you’re your meals. http://community.atkins.com/Login.aspx

Plan A2 – The 2nd part of Plan A is you actually have to do something with the food you buy. My suggestion is to set aside time over the weekend to prepare food for the week. We grill out a bunch of chicken, cut up veggies to cook later and do any food prep on Sunday so we are ready to eat right on Monday.

Plan A3 – Yes, there is one more step to Plan A. You can’t eat healthy if you don’t shop healthy or cook healthy, but you also can’t eat healthy if it stays in the fridge. Be sure to have a good selection of Tupperware and Ziploc bags on hand so you can pack your food for lunch, or so you can grab a meal to go in a hurry. The more convenient you make your healthy selections, the more likely you are to eat what you prepared.

Atkins barsPlan B – Finally Plan B. Plan B stands for your “Back-up plan”. Think of frozen dinners as your plan B. Always choose healthy whole foods first, but have other options when Plan A isn’t doable. This may include some frozen dinners, bars, snacks, shakes and other convenient selections. Plan B is much better than Plan C – which is to “Cheat” on your diet! Say no to Plan C!

Plan D - What? A Plan D? Yes, it’s called “Do-Overs”. Seriously. So many people fail because they mess up once or twice and decide that diet didn’t work for them – when, if you were honest, YOU didn’t work for you. Eating healthy takes work. The diet doesn’t fail, WE fail. If you rely on a diet to do all the work for you, you will be disappointed. Diets are there to give you guidance, but you need to learn as you go so your diet can be a permanent life change.

While you won’t need to be in a caloric deficit forever, the principles of healthy eating should continue to be applied while in maintenance. Explore the Akins website, learn why their eating principles work and learn how you can apply them in your normal meal planning. The more you learn, the more you can change the way you eat forever – and that’s the difference between dieting and just eating healthier. Go the distance. Keep doing Do-Overs until you get it right. Eventually, healthy habits will stick!

Fight Cravings

self-controlAtkins offers some healthy alternatives to help fight cravings. I’ll brag on their tasty bars another day, but I have to admit I was very happy to have some Atkins chocolate covered almonds when I faced a sweet craving. I popped 3-4 in my mouth and it was exactly what I needed to end the fixation on chocolate I suddenly had. I’m afraid to think of what I would have done if all I had in the kitchen was ice cream!

Eat this, not that:

Salty Craving Fix

When I craved chips and popcorn, I cut thin slices of low-fat sharp cheddar cheese and sliced up a dill pickle to end my salty craving. Here are some more salty fixes.

  • Sliced Cucumbers with Red Wine Vinegar & Cracked Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Hummus with Celery & Carrots
  • 2 T Peanut Butter with Celery
  • ½ C Cottage Cheese and tomato on a bed of lettuce with a Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Celery & Sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Sliced Tomato with Shredded Parmesan Cheese & Garlic (Roasted is even better!)
  • Sliced Lunch Meat with Laughing Cow Cheese, Sliced Egg White & Hot Sauce

Sweet Cravings

I don’t crave sweets often, but I am thankful for Greek yogurt when I do! Here are a few sweet treats to end s sweet tooth.

  • ½ C Cottage Cheese with Pineapple
  • 2 T Almond Butter with Celery or Apple
  • ½ C Greek Yogurt with Blueberries
  • Decaf coffee or tea
  • Protein Shake
  • Endulge Atkins Treats
  • Advantage Bars

Follow Atkins for More Tips & Recipes

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AtkinsDiet
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/atkinsinsider
  • Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/atkinsinsider/
  • This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.

FITNESS: You CAN Afford It!

money where your mouth isIn this economy, many people would say they couldn’t afford to get fit. However, it is likely they can afford more than they think. Most people simply spend too much money on things that make them fat, instead of things to get them fit.

As a result, you can easily nickel and dime yourself right out of a healthy lifestyle. For instance, many people don not think twice about going through a drive-through at lunch or buying a five-dollar latte for a caffeine boost. One modest dinner date would cover a gym membership for the month, offering endless fitness opportunities. Sadly, people keep putting their money where there mouth is – literally.

1 drink alcoholic drink per night can average $90.00 a month.

In my recent article on Answers.com, I show how some of our food and drink choices add up if you aren’t careful – and it’s AMAZING how even a cup of coffee a day can add up! CLICK HERE to read the whole article, 7 Ways to Afford a Healthy Lifestyle and see other ways to cut back and make more room for fit choices.

What have you given up to help you afford to get healthy and fit?

Atkins Meal Plan & Diet Tips

As you may have heard, or seen on some of my social media posts, I am in the first phase of the Atkins 40 Diet. What is Atkins 40? Basically, Atkins 40 the new Atkins that lets you have more (healthy) carbs, even from the start.

You may think of Adkins as the no-carb diet, but Atkins has changed over the years, and is also misunderstood (I admit I was one of those people). An all-too-common misconception is that this first phase of Atkins is the whole program, but the key to Atkins is finding the maximum number of grams of carbs, known as your personal “carb balance”, that you can consume while continuing to lose weight, keep your appetite under control, and stay alert and energized.

In this first phase, the Atkins 40 allows you to start the Atkins program with 40 grams of Net Carbs, which is a new entry point into the program. This means you can eat from all food groups from day one on the program, and still enjoy the weight loss success on a fat burning metabolism.

What are Net Carbs?

“When you follow the Atkins Nutrition Approach, you count Net Carbs, which means the total carbohydrate content of the food minus the fiber content. The Net Carb number reflects the grams of carbohydrate that significantly impact your blood sugar level.”

You can calculate the approximate number of Net Carb grams of a low-carb product yourself by looking at the information provided on a food label:
Total Carbohydrates
– Dietary Fiber
– Sugar alcohol
= Net carbs

For example, I ate 2 cups of spring mix, 6oz of chicken, ½ an avocado and balsamic vinegar. My total carbs was 25.3gms of carbohydrates and my fiber was 8.8gms of fiber, totaling only 16.5gms of Net Carbs for that meal. By labeling carbs, and getting dieters to really look at fiber too, it teaches you the us the difference good carbs vs bad carbs.

More On Carbs:

Learn more about Net Carbs
Net Carbs vs Total Carbs.
Download the Atkins Carb Counter to help you track your carbs.

 

The Atkins 40 Diet

“Increasing health fat and protein means you stay fuller longer and you have more steady energy through out the day.”

On Atkins 40, I’m eating:

  • More vegetables than the USDA recommends
  • Proteins including meats, fish, poultry and plant-based proteins
  • Healthy fats including olive oil, avocado and nuts
  • Dairy including whole Greek yogurt and cheeses
  • Variety of fruits and whole grains

With Atkins 40, I’m learning:

  • The difference between good carbs and bad carbs
  • How to eliminate added sugars
  • How to incorporate healthy fats
  • How easy it is to adapt to a low carb lifestyle
  • How to lose weight, feel great, while enjoying healthy delicious foods with a wide range of food choices.

The Diet: Pfiester Approved!! 

I honestly can say I have really enjoyed my meal plan. It isn’t much different than I have been eating, which is higher in protein and lower in carbs, with a good dose of healthy carbs. I only had to make a few minor adjustments.

1. I can eat BACON!! Yahoooo!! (granted, I can only have 2 pieces occasionally, this has been like striking gold for me!! YUM!). This was my breakfast yesterday – 2 eggs scrambled with bell pepper and 2 strips of bacon. What’s funny is I don’t even like eggs, but anything tastes amazing with Bacon! haha!

2. I am eating more meat. Instead of eating 3-4 ounces of chicken, I’m now eating 6 ounces!! This has definitely helped me stay fuller longer and is helping me get the protein I want with very little supplementing.

3. I am reducing my carbs a little. Since I already don’t eat a lot of carbs, this wasn’t a big shocker (even though I admit I was a little freaked out about having only 50gms of carbs a day!). Truthfully, I have been just fine without them. When I normally would want some popcorn, I cut a few slivers of some light sharp cheese and nibbled on that instead. It satisfied my salty craving and my growling tummy.

4. I am paying more attention to fiber. I have always known fiber is good, but I’ve never tracked it as much as now.

Healthy fats5. I am being more generous with fats. Normally, I would barely drizzle a teaspoon of oil on a salad (if I used any at all!), but now I fill up that entire tablespoon of olive oil! I used to only eat egg beaters, but now I’m eating one whole egg with 1 egg white (even though it says I can have 2 whole eggs – I’m working my way up to that. lol).

6. I am eating more simply. Now that I am following a diet plan, I am using fewer ingredients and making better choices than even before. Following the Atkins Diet is teaching me to be OK with simple meals. For instance, yesterday I ate the salad I mentioned above in the Net Carbs section. The salad was only 3 ingredients – chicken, greens and avocado. Before, I would feel like I needed a fruit or something else to “dress it up”. This time, I stuck with what Atkins said (like a good girl) and it was plenty yummy and completely filling.

CLICK HERE for a comprehensive list of all the foods you can eat in this 1st phase.

Week 1 – Getting Started

Atkins has free diet tools, including an online downloadable starter kit, mobile app, recipes, meal planners and trackers. Explore all the Atkins tools, tips & info at Atkins.com. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook to get more tips and news. Get recipes and other healthy ideas on their Pinterest.

Atkins

 

Week 1 Meal Plan:

Here is a sample of my first week’s diet plan.

2014 Atkins 40 week 1

 

Keep checking in for more tips and feedback on my Atkins diet experience!!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.

Healthy Sugar Substitute Makes Yummy Pre-Workout Recipe

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Canadian Maple Syrup.

maple syrupWhen you think of maple syrup, you probably think “PANCAKES”! A beautiful stack of buttermilk pancakes with warm golden brown maple syrup poured over melting butter, ready to be washed down with a glass of cold milk. At least that’s what I think of! However, there is a lot more to maple syrup than you think – and I think you’ll be very surprised to read what I have to share!

First surprise: 80% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada. If you want real maple syrup you need to make sure it is Canadian Maple syrup, which is unprocessed and 100% natural.

Second surprise: Did you know most leading pancake syrup brands do not even have maple syrup in their syrup? How crazy is THAT? They rely on high fructose corn syrup (which isn’t as healthy and has more calories than Canadian Maple Syrup). When I heard this, I had to go check it out for myself. (watch the video)

[youtube=http://youtu.be/4YIk6CjOdLI]

Third Surprise: Canadian Maple Syrup has fewer calories than honey (and a LOT more flavor too!). This is funny to me because I prefer maple syrup over honey in many recipes (like oatmeal and mashed sweet potatoes), but figured it was higher in calories. Maybe it’s because it’s called “syrup” and I just think high calories when I think syrup. Ironically, I found I use less syrup than honey because it has more flavor!

Fourth Surprise: Canadian Maple Syrup is high in anti-oxidants – and the darker the grade of syrup the higher in anti-oxidants it is. Check out the difference between Canadian Maple Syrup and other sweeteners.

Canadian Maple Syrup Versus Popular Sweeteners

maple syrup vs sweeteners

Pre-Workout Protein Rice Pudding

preworkout rice puddingI found this great pre-workout rice pudding, and I decided to tweak it to make it a little lower in calories and higher in protein. So, I put my thinking cap on and went mad-scientist in the kitchen. I replaced the flour with protein powder and the condensed milk with fat free milk. I reduced the amount of maple syrup (because I’m trying to make the yummy stuff last!!) and I topped it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and granola. Then I tested it out on my house guests. …and the verdict was “Wow! That is really good. Can I have a bowl?” So, I would say it was a success!!

Recipe
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups fat free milk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup Canadian Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

rice puddingCombine all the ingredients, minus the greek yogurt and protein powder, in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, mix in the yogurt and protein powder, reducing heat while mixing. Remove from heat and let it stand to thicken. Serve cold or hot. Makes 4 servings. 314 calories per serving.

Optional toppings:
Cinnamon
Raisins
Nuts
Granola
Fruit

Cooking With Maple Syrup

Maple syrup sweetener

10 Tips to Kick the Never-Ending Diet

“I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.” Dolly Parton

When I think of Dolly’s quote I think of how my mother also tried every diet in the book before she finally lost her weight. I know she must have felt like she spent her entire life dieting. The truth is she just made a few common mistakes that just continued to prolong her results – and it happens to so many people. That’s why so many American live their all their life dieting.

10 Tips to Break the ‘Never-ending Diet’ Cycle:

  1. Avoid diet hopping. Some people never stick to a diet long enough to get results before they hop on the next diet that comes their way.  If you chose a diet plan, stick to it.
  2. Never attempt an unrealistic diet. I can’t help but think of the Cabbage Soup Diet, which I was on for all of four very long days. A successful diet is one you can stick with for the long haul.
  3. Don’t rely on the quick fix. We all know better, but our patience often gets the best of us. Don’t give in to weight loss gimmicks. A quick fix is just a temporary fix and only postpones the inevitable.
  4. Be realistic. If you are on a mild diet and exercise plan, expect mild results. The more intense the program, the faster the results. Be realistic when setting and working toward your goal.
  5. Be honest with yourself. People seem quick to recall all the healthy low-calorie foods they eat but get amnesia when it comes to unhealthy choices. The scale will tell on you so, in all actuality, you aren’t fooling anyone but your self.
  6. What you don’t know can hurt you. I find most people who have failed on their diet have been guessing their way through it all. Other people just don’t want to know the truth. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has taken a bite of something and as soon as I begin to read off the calories he plugs his ears saying “lalalalalalalala, I don’t want to know, lalalalalala”!  The fact is the calories are there whether we know it or not.
  7. If you aren’t dieting, you should be maintaining. Even if you lose the weight, you still have to be accountable for what you eat in order to maintain your new size. Many people who hit their goal end up right back where they started because they went back to eating poorly.
  8. The “Weekday Diet” doesn’t always work. Many people diet all week, only to erase their hard work each weekend with poor food choices. Although this may work while in maintenance, this diet faux pas is what makes people feel like they are dieting all the time and never reaping the reward.
  9. Never underestimate the power of the calorie. Weight loss boils down to one thing – calories in vs. calories out. You can’t expect results if you are not sure how many calories you are eating.
  10. Commit to dieting the right way. A lack of commitment just prolongs the amount of time it will take to get results. You can live on a yo-yo diet for the rest of your life and get mediocre results, or you can commit to working hard for a while and live the rest of your life enjoying your results.

Q&A: Fat Burners, Diet Pills & Thermogenics

diet pills So many people don’t understand what Fat Burners really do. Are they diet pills? Do they work? How do they make you feel? Will it help you lose weight? How fast should you see results? When is it best to take them? These are many of the questions we get about Thermogenics (AKA Fat Burners).

First, watch this quick video, where Steve explains what thermogenics actually are – and what they do.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/KMTDHuw8XyI]

Now, to answer some of those questions.

Are they diet pills? 

diet pillsDiet pills do different things. Many prescription pills curb your appetitive. There is another prescription that blocks fat from being absorbed and stored. Old school prescription pills often contained amphetamines which now is typically prescribed as dextroamphetamine, or the inactive prodruglisdexamfetamine. Then you have the old school fat burners, which contained Ephedra, in combination with aspirin and caffeine. Since Ephedra is no longer legal in the United States, supplement companies have been working hard to come up with a safer way to burn fat. So, in my opinion, I would not classify a thermogenic as a diet pill. While the fat burner we take, ThermoHeat for example, does have an appetite suppressant in it, it’s main job its to increase your body temperature to burn more calories throughout the day.

Do they work?

Diet-weight-loss-Yes, but not if you are depending on a fat burner alone. Fat burners can give you the edge you need to be more apt to move, exercise and stay active. It will increase calorie burn, but you have to understand how easy it is to erase those calories with poor food choices. Let’s say, for example sake, you burn 200 extra calories a day when on a fat burner. You could erase those calories easily with a big gulp coke or an extra snack. For this reason, fat burners work best when you combine it with exercise and diet.

How do they make you feel?

crazyhairSome fat burners make you feel like you’ve had 10 cups of coffee. The old school fat burners that had ephedra in it really freaked people out. However, I think most fat burners today are more mild feeling in comparison to the Ephedra, caffeine and aspirin variations. People may complain about feeling anxious and jittery on some fat burners. Since I have heart palpitations, I have to watch out for fat burners that get my heart racing. ThermoHeat doesn’t make me feel that way at all. It makes me feel focused and more apt to stay moving, but I don’t feel like I’m on speed or anything. Basically, the answer to this question is “it depends”. Every fat burner is different.

weight lossWill it help you lose weight?

Yes. If you are burning more calories than you are consuming, you will lose weight. The key to success is to make the most of the fat-burning opportunity. Exercise when you are feeling energized and avoid replacing calories with poor food choices. However, if you aren’t going to track calories or even try to be in a caloric deficit, you probably will not get the results you want.

How fast should you see results?

How fast you get results depends on how dedicated you are to your weight loss goals. First, you need to know that you should feel results right away. You should feel more energized and more focused pretty quickly. This should help you WANT to workout and stay more active, which can often be an issue for many people. People lack the motivation or the energy to workout. BUT, if you don’t workout and you refuse to be more active, you aren’t going to get all the goody out of your fat burner. If you are taking ThermoHeat, you should also not feel as hungry, which can help with controlling your appetite. So, in many ways, you should be getting results almost immediately. However, if you are talking about seeing results on the scale, that’s a different story. The results you get are dependent on consistency and accuracy. Staying consistent with eating low-calorie foods and exercising will get you faster results. Accurately tracking calories burned and calories consumed will help you get the best results. But if you plan on just guessing your way through the day, I can only guess your results (and I would guess they won’t be what you want).

When is it best to take them?

White Competition Bikini Personally, I like taking Fat Burners to help give me an edge when I’m taking my training or dieting up a notch. I only take them for a season, and then I go off for a while. For example, I took ThermoHeat to help me prepare for my competition. It REALLY helped me get my 3 workouts in a day (2 cardios and 1 weight training workout) when I was extra low on calories. I honestly don’t think I would have had the oomph to do it without it. It’s also great for people who are starting a workout and diet plan. It can give people the mental and physical boost they need to get in a routine. It also will help increase energy when people would typically experience a loss of energy from just starting a diet and exercise program.

ThermoHeatBefore I close, let me be super clear. If you want to lose weight, the first thing you need to focus on is diet. You need to learn to track calories and stick to a caloric budget (I like using the LoseIt app for this). Second, you need to get in a good exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout everyday, but a consistent workout routine you can stick to. Third, once you are willing to commit to eating right and exercising, THEN you can add supplements to the equation, like protein, creatine, fat burners, etc. Sadly, people often do the exact opposite, because making a protein shake or popping a pill is a lot easier than committing to a lifestyle change. You should never rely on supplements – they are only to SUPPLEMENT what you are missing and enhance what you are already doing. They are the icing on the low-cal cake! As long as you understand that, you are golden. Are they effective? Heck yeah, when they are used correctly! As long as you realize there is no protein shake or fat burner alone that will get you ripped like you see in the ads. Will they help? Absolutely! But, if you want results, you will be required to work for it. But I do promise you it will be SO worth it!!!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the fat burner we take, ThermoHeat.

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