Want to lose weight? When money’s on the line, you will look fine!

dietbetAfter having a wonderful kid-less long weekend in Boston with my hubby, I returned refreshed, rejuvenated and 10 lbs. heavier. What in the world? How can that happen in only a few days? Sure, I indulged a bit, but we walked a lot and I tried to have healthy breakfast and lunch to make up for my indulgences. How can a few pastries, crab and lobster ravioli and pasta dishes derail me that much?

Well, it’s time to get back on the stick, so when I got home and saw the message from Cassey with Blogilates on her #blogilatesbet challenge on DietBet, I was in!  Dietbet is an online social diet challenge game. It is really simple. You can choose an amount of money to bet on your weight loss and you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your bodyweight. You play with friends and after 4 weeks, if you meet your goal, you can spilt the pot with the other winners. Why do this? Research shows that dieters are more likely to lose weight when money is on the line.

I’ve really tightened the belt on my diet this week and kept up with my already rigorous exercise schedule. I’ve planned out my meals for the week which include several mini meals throughout the day that include a lot of protein, fresh veggies, some fruit and grains. I made some delish healthy crab cakes tonight that were completely guilt-free. They tasted so good, it’s hard to believe they were healthy. I’ll share the recipe with you tomorrow.

Do you want to join me in the #blogilatesbet challenge? If so, comment on this post and provide your name as it appears on Facebook. I’ll send you the special link through Facebook so you can get in on our challenge. The best part is that since it is with the blogilates group, our pot is huge and growing larger by the day! Right now there is $141, 425 in the pot!

I’d love for you to join me! I will share my meal plans, exercise schedule and recipes, as well as my progress on Five a Day the Fun Way. I’ve only been following my plan for two days and I’ve already dropped some weight, my hunger has decreased and I feel great.

So if you’ve been looking to drop a few, come join me in the challenge! We can do this together!

TRI for Success

Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. – Orison Swett Marden

 

We all face opposition to achieving our goals. If the road towards success were easy, everyone would have it, thereby making it not as sweet.

 

My road towards fitness has had many roadblocks, and I’m certain I’ll encounter many more challenges along the way.  Take for example the goal I set this summer to do a triathlon.

 

When I decided to do a triathlon I didn’t even know how to swim. I didn’t have a road bike, only a mountain bike with a baby seat strapped on the back.

 

I also have not had a successful history with sports. Being overweight my entire life, I was always picked last for team sports. As a chubby kid, I sat on the sidelines as my friends played softball. I begged my mom to write a note to excuse me from P.E. and the gym teacher let me walk laps while the other kids played basketball. In junior high, my mom’s note writing no longer worked, so I resorted to purposefully injuring myself so I could wear a wrist brace, excusing me from the embarrassment of playing volleyball.  I was an Honor Roll student, but the only D I received in my life was in P.E. class. Needless to say, my history with being active was severely lacking.

 

However, when my weight hit an all time high of 220 pounds, I knew I couldn’t achieve success through diet alone. I started slowly with walking, then running and taking classes. As I became more active, I discovered I loved to exercise. I began lifting weights, running more, taking Zumba, kickboxing, spinning and Cardio Funk.  I lost 80 pounds, I quit smoking and ran the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2011.

 

With each new goal I achieved, I decided to raise the bar. I decided my next challenge was a Triathlon.

 

And a challenge it was.

 

Again, opposition popped up at every corner as I had encountered a flat tire on my first TRI and panic attack in the water at my second. I also realized that most bikers have expensive road bikes with narrow tires, light frames and aero bars. My bike….well, let’s just say it isn’t on par with the “real” road bikes.

 

I trained with a triathlon group at my local YMCA and realized that the most amazing part of a triathlon is the camadarie and spirit of your teammates. My fellow triathletes cheered me on when I felt low and reassured me that I could meet my goal. At the end of a long bike ride, in which I felt completely inferior to their superb biking strength, they boost my spirit. On my first bike ride with the group, they were so fast that they almost lapped me on our long ride, but the amazing program director stayed with my the entire time and cheered me on. The group didn’t even make fun of me (too much) when I got lost repeatedly on our bike rides and runs (yes, I got lost more than once.)

 

While the triathlon group had a doctor, real estate agent, banker, writer, communications professional and stay-at-home parent……on the road, we leave those titles behind and we are all one thing……triathletes.

 

The best part of training for a sport, is that you can leave all of your other titles behind. You don’t have to be a mom searching for a juice box in the back of your car, or a busy executive making a tough decision about meeting the budget or a sales person trying to convince a couple to buy a car…..it is just you and the road.

 

My third triathlon, Tri! Ballantyne, was a success. I took it slow in the water to avoid having a panic attack. I reserved energy on the bike and killed it on the run. I finished in 1 hour and 24 minutes and came in second in my category.

 

If you are thinking of doing a triathlon, I highly recommend you give TRI! Ballantyne a TRI in 2012. It was the most organized race I’ve done to date. The swim times were seeded and organized so well that the swimmers were not on top of each other, making it a much more relaxing experience. Volunteers were on every corner during the bike ride and running, ensuring direction challenged participants (ahem…yes, I’m speaking about myself) didn’t get lost. And the celebration after the race was a lot of fun! There was even a marriage proposal at the finish line!

 

On to the next challenge: Charlotte’s Thunder Road Marathon on November 12. I’m sure I will encounter obstacles along the way, but I’m ready to jump those hurdles.

 

What are your fitness goals? How do you overcome obstacles to achieve success? I’d love to hear from you!

Have Sex – Lose Weight

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2125

Research shows that having frequent sex (safe sex in a committed relationship of course) offers many health benefits including weight loss, improved mood and a closer relationship. Sex burns approximately 150-200 calories per half hour. Given the recent research that shows exercise is equally beneficial done in 15-20 minute bursts throughout the day, use sex as part of your overall daily exercise routine. Just think….you can shave 15-20 minutes off of your morning exercise routine if you plan a romp in the sack that night with your man.

Kerry McCloskey found the benefits of frequent sex first hand. When she was engaged and in the throws of newlywed passion, she was having sex three times a week and lost 23 pounds in six months! She wrote a book, The Ultimate Sex Diet, to help other women acheive the same success.

Frequent sex not only improves the waistline, but it does wonders for a marriage. The highly talented author, Alisa Bowman, wrote the BEST marriage advice book I’ve ever read: Project Happily Ever After available on Amazon. Alisa’s marriage was falling apart, to the point that she was fantasizing about her husband’s funeral. She made one last-ditch effort to save her marriage and called it Project: Happily Ever After. She made sex a priority, opened up the lines of communication and made her own happily ever after. I highly recommend this book! I read it in only two days on my Kindle and was laughing and crying right there with Alisa along her journey.

Even if your marriage doesn’t need repair, make sex with your spouse a priority and reap the rewards! If you need more convincing, a healthy sex life:

1. Relieves stress

2. Boosts immunity

3. Burns calories

4. Improves cardiovascular health

5. Boosts self-esteem

6. Creates feeling of closeness & genorosity

7. Reduces pain

8. Strengthens pelvic floor muscles

9. Results in improved sleep patterns

10. Reduces prostate cancer risk

What do you think? How do you balance making the time for sex with your spouse, while balancing the demands of work, kids, chores and hobbies? As always, would love to hear from you!

Add this to your “Honey dew” list

Study after study shows that people basically eat three pounds of food a day, regardless whether the food is high calorie or low calorie. Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a nutrition research at Pennsylvania State University, has conducted a ton of research on appetite and has found time and time again that people feel just as full after a low-calorie meal vs. a high-calorie meal, provided that both meals contain the same volume of food.  

So what does this mean? Foods with high volume and low calories are a dieter’s best friend. Watermelon, honeydew and soup all have one thing in common: they are full of water and fiber and low in calories. Basically, you will feel more full and satisfied from a cup of melon than a slice of cheesecake.

Honeydew is a great high volume food because about 90 percent of the melon is water.  Research shows that water in foods, such as melon and soup, do a better job of appetite control than solid food plus a glass of water, although no one knows why. The Volumetrics Diet explains this in more detail and is a great everyday diet solution.

Honeydew is not only great because it is low-calorie, it also is full of potassium, vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. One cup of honeydew has a whopping 404 mg of potassium! Potassium can lower rates of heart disease and stroke and is a key component of healthy blood pressure.  One study found that people with high blood pressure who ate potassium-rich foods lowered their risk of fatal stroke by 40 percent.

Honeydew and other melons are a great choice for keeping kids hydrated during the hot days of summer and satisfying the entire family’s appetite between meals.

Now that summer is approaching, melons, such as honeydew and watermelon are in season. So add honeydew to your “honey do” list and pick one up for your family.

I personally prefer to eat melon plain and I am not a fan of it in soup or smoothie’s, but I found a great recipe on Epicurious for a honeydew-lime Popsicle that I wanted to share with you. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Do you like honeydew? What do you think about the study that high-volume foods are the key to weight loss? I’d love to hear from you!

Honeydew Lime Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup superfine or regular granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 (3 1/2-lb) ripe honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

  • Dissolve sugar in water by stirring if using superfine or by heating in a small heavy saucepan if using regular granulated (then cool).
  • Blend half of melon and half of lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add syrup and remaining melon and lime juice and purée until smooth. Force purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart glass measure or bowl, pressing on solids and then discarding them.
  • Pour mixture into molds and freeze until slushy, about 2 hours.
  • Insert sticks, and then freeze Popsicles until completely hardened, at least 6 hours.

Sugar Addiction

My name is Stacy I am completely addicted to sugar. 

I thought I was OK because I don’t eat the foods that blatantly scream “sugar” like store-bought cookies, soda or sugary cereals, but I still consume way too much sugar. I HAVE to have a special treat every night and I look forward to it all day, which is usually “light” ice cream (which is still high in sugar), No Pudge brownies or pudding. I’ve noticed lately that the more sugar I eat, the more I crave.

I wanted to conduct research on this to see if I was the only one who experienced this crazy cycle of cravings. The study, Sugar and Fat Bingeing Have Notable Differences in Addictive-Like Behavior, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2009 found that sugar affects the brain chemistry and produces neurochemical changes in the brain, similar to those seen during drug cravings. The same chemical, Dopamine (DA), that has been suggested to have a common role in drug abuse, produces similar effects in the brain with sugar bingeing. Additionally, this study also found that withdrawal from sugar produced the same neurochemical balance as did withdrawal from drugs such as morphine, alcohol and nicotine. 

Wow, sounds like sugar addiction is real. 

I am going to write a series of posts on this topic to help shed some light on the mystery of sugar. Look for additional blog posts this week on: 

  • Top 10 “sneaky” sugar foods
  • Understanding nutrition labels & identifying the many names of sugar
  • How to limit the added sugars in your diet
  • The effect of sugar on children’s behavior

In the meantime, read this great article about sugar by Joy Bauer. This week I’m going to try to limit the amount of “added” sugars that I consume. I’m only on day 2 and have already found this extremely hard. I am not going to try to eliminate added sugars, because that is way too hard and I’ll be setting myself up for failure. Instead I’m just going to try to limit the amount of added sugars I consume, especially in products that don’t “need” sugar. 

Have you tried to cut out added sugars? Have you had any luck? I’d love to hear from you!

Save time and calories – Healthy Slow Cooker Carrot Cake

I know, I know, slow cooker carrot cake doesn’t exactly sound mouth-watering, but trust me, this cake is one of the most delicious, moist, decadent cakes I’ve had in a long time. The best part – it’s healthy, low in calories & take mere minutes to make. 

This clean eating approved carrot cake is a great way to sneak vegetables into your kid’s diet. The typical store-bought carrot cake is NOT a good source of vegetables, vitamins or minerals. Rather they are filled with sugar, dehydrated carrot pieces (in very small amounts), trans fat and refined flour. This cleaned up version has one cup of freshly grated carrots, sugar-free applesauce, flaxseed and spelt flour. Parents can quickly throw these ingredients in the morning and have a delicious, hot cake waiting for them after dinner. 

Whenever I create healthy breads, cakes or treats, I use buttermilk, kefir, sugar-free applesauce or Greek yogurt to replace the fat. I also like to add flaxseed for added fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. 

Healthy Slow Cooker Carrot Cake 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup freshly shredded carrot
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 ¼ cups spelt flour
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup raw organic honey
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup strawberry kefir
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt 

Topping Ingredients

  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Honey 

Instructions

  1. Spray a small crock-pot with non-fat cooking spray
  2. Mix flour, coconut, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, & salt in a bowl.
  3. Combine egg white, flaxseed mixed with water – Mix well.
  4. Add raw honey, applesauce, kefir and vanilla and stir until blended.
  5. Combine flour mixture and applesauce mixture, fold in carrots and raisins. Add pecans.
  6. Pour mixture into slow cooker and cover with four squares of paper towels, Bake for 2 to 2 ½ hours on low.
  7. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey

My top ten favorite items from Trader Joes

I love Trader Joes! Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways:

1. They are inexpensive

2. They carry a wide selection of healthy, organic and fresh foods

3. Their Trader Joes brand is high quality

4. They sell grass-fed beef and chicken with no antibiotics or hormones

I shop at Trader Joes weekly and I have many favorite products, so I wanted to do a series of my top ten favorite items from Trader Joes:

10. Fiberful Ends and Pieces – These flavorful, sweet dried fruit strips are delicious and full of fiber. The perfect food to throw in your purse for a day full of errands.

9. Just a Handful – Cashews – Two words – Portion Control

8. Organic Sorrento Mix – You can’t beat $1.99 for a fresh, organic blend of fresh salad greens.

7. Trader Joe’s 0% Greek Yogurt – I use Greek Yogurt in everything! I use it instead of sour cream, I use it in place of oil in my baked goods, I eat it with berries, I use it in cooking. Yum! My favorite way to eat Greek Yogurt is by mixing in frozen blueberries and a drizzle of honey and then stirring until combined. It tastes like ice cream!

6. Almond Butter with Flaxseed – This is the best of both worlds. Healthy almond butter, rich with vitamin E, and flaxseeds full of lignans, which protect against breast and prostate cancer.

5. Pre-sliced mango – Have you ever tried to slice a mango? It is not easy because of the big pit in the middle of the fruit. Watch this video made by SparkPeople on how to slice a mango, it definitely made it easier, but it is still much easier to buy pre-sliced.

4. Chicken Eggrolls – My kids love having Chinese food night, but most commercially made egg rolls are full of fat, sugar and oil. Not the Trader Joes version! You can have one of these heathfully packed egg rolls for only 150 calories. Not bad!

3. Strawberry Keifer – My daughter is allergic to milk and I was getting concerned with her calcium intake until I found Trader Joes delicious strawberry keifer. My daughter loves it and it also makes a great substitute for butter and oil in baked goods.

2. Organic Free-Range Whole Chicken – I love that Trader Joes sells organic, free-range, antibiotic-free chicken. I feel better knowing that I’m not pumping my kids full of unnatural ingrediants. I usually roast the chicken on Sunday and serve half of the chicken on Sunday night. I make homemade chicken stock with the carcess and then add the leftover chicken, veggies and brown rice for a filling soup to eat for lunch for the remainder of the week.

1. Melange a Trois – This trifecta of red, yellow and green peppers makes eating veggies easy, delicious and fast! I add these frozen peppers to everything from my eggs in the morning to my chicken fajitas. Even my kids will eat them! The best part – no cutting or mess!

What is your favorite Trader Joes product? Would love to hear from you!