Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nutrition Planning 101

Creating a healthy nutrition plan can be daunting but nothing changes without change. But invest a little time and you can create a plan to insure success. Let’s start with some basic ideas about creating a nutrition plan you can LIVE with, not a diet that implies short term adherence. Stick with the basics and slowly transition to more detailed analysis as you need or enjoy. The key is to start at a place that is not so overwhelming that you don’t get started.

 Know your caloric intake. Here’s the hard part…being honest (with yourself) and accountable….You have to know at least ballpark figures of your calorie consumption to find a starting place. If it’s not working to move you towards your goals then work to change it. The most common pitfalls in caloric intake estimation include “portion distortion” and “mindless snacking/snacking amnesia.” It is worth the time spent reading labels, measuring foods and keeping a log for at least a few days until you have a better handle on the truth of how much you are consuming.

 Know your caloric needs. The intention is not to become calorie obsessed but you need to have a basic idea of how much your body needs for basic function. Losing fat is not about severe calorie restriction but about finding calorie balance to allow you to increase activity and energy levels while creating just enough calorie deficit for healthy fat loss.

       Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):  Easy BMR Calculator
   Women: 655 + (4.35 x weight (lbs)) + (4.7 x height (in)) – (4.7 x age (years))
   Men: 66 + (6.23 x weight (lbs)) + (12.7 x height (in)) – (6.8 x age (years))

         Then add in any calories burned by exercise or multiple by activity multiplier. 
                    1.2 sedentary
                    1.375 lightly active (exercise 1-3 days/week)
                    1.55 moderately active (exercise 3-5 days/week)
                    1.725 very active (exercise 6-7 days/week)

 Aim to eat 5 smaller meals per day. You will find a million opinions on this regarding its effect on metabolism but the keeping the fire burning with small meals makes sense to me. Eating more frequent meals is also a lot easier mentally when trying to manage a new nutrition plan. Smaller more frequent meals allow for more variety and the next meal is never far away….

 Include a lean protein, complex or fibrous carb and healthy fat with every meal. The body needs protein, carbs and healthy fats. Do not eliminate any of these macronutrients; just make healthier choices in each group. By including a combination of healthy choices or each macronutrient digestion rates are slowed down providing a steady supply of energy rather than creating a cycle of energy spikes and crashes.

                Some ideas to start with:
  • Protein: tuna, skinless chicken breast, turkey breast, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans, chickpeas, eggs/egg whites.
  • Complex carbs: potatoes, yams, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat products.
  • Fibrous carbs: lots of veggies, leafy greens!
  • Healthy fats (watch portions…calories add up quickly): nuts, nut butters, olive oil, flaxseed/oil.

 Avoid processed foods. Consider food choices that have the fewest steps to get the food from the plant, ground or tree to your hands. Choose those that have the least number of ingredients on the label. And remember….you can eat a lot more food within your daily calorie budget if you stick with clean foods!

Be an educated label reader.

  •  Look at the ingredient list. Can you pronounce everything on the list? Order does matter here, early in the list means more in it. Products advertising whole wheat should say 100% whole wheat and whole grains should be the 1st ingredient on the list.
  • Be aware of portion size and calories. It may be a healthy choice but not gonna work with the plan if you eat a whole multi serving package.
  • Avoid saturated fats. These are most prevalent in processed foods. Check for hydrogenated in the ingredient list.
  •  Watch for added sugars.
  •  Check out the Nutrition Facts Label Program on the FDA website to become a more educated label reader.

 Labels provide a lot of enlightening information! Might change your mind about some eats after seeing what you are really eating!


 Taking the time to create a healthy nutrition plan and being an educated food consumer is an investment in your life. Are you ready to get started?

Sure, the day to day can get tough, especially when 1st getting started, the key is to create new habits. Think about your long term goals when considering a less than stellar food choice. The taste only lasts as long as the food is in your mouth…Is that choice going to get you closer to your goals? Don’t deprive yourself completely but don’t fall off the wagon, be more conscious of the choices you make. Stick with it, you will feel better and stronger!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Is the lack of time or lack of focus?

The biggest excuse I hear about people not getting regular exercise is that they don't have time.....Excuse me...I live in the real world right along with you...work a full time job with a long commute, have 2 kids and I find the time...I make the time. Take a minute and really assess your productivity, how many hours are you wasting stalking people on FB or watching TV. Don't get me wrong I watch TV but never sitting on the couch. Tape it, DVR it do what you have to to watch it while you gets some cardio in . I don't remember the last time I grabbed the remote and sat down to watch anything unless the seat had peddles. Too tired? Hit the off switch, sign off the Internet and turn off the light, get to sleep earlier, drag your butt out of bed earlier and start the day with a sweat session, then no excuses as the day goes on, already got it done.
Short rant over....

Seriously, this is your life, your health and the health of your children we are talking about. Make exercise and healthy eating a priority, schedule an appointment with yourself before you overbook your days!   Take a look at how effectively you use your time. The effectiveness of multitasking is debatable....but try organizing your day making a 'priority list' and just get started! Look at the ultimate time eater...running errands...plan ahead and complete these geographically, save time and gas and maybe hit the gym if the days paths travel by... :)  

Don't know about you but the to-list haunts me...never completed and often overwhelming. Stop worrying about finishing it just get started, amazing how much better I feel after just checking off a few things, fueling the fire to continue on with a productive day. On the topic of to-do lists,  the daily workings of life and a household can often clog up the to-do list as they are a rolling daily requirement...laundry, meals planning and preparation, dishes, cleaning etc. Try leaving them off the list, stay with me....make them part of routine....laundry basket full? Toss the load in, don't wait for laundry day and waste a Saturday in the basement. Same with dishes, wash them or get them directly to the dishwasher after every meal, no one wants to look at a  sinkful of dishes when they get home from work.  Meals and dishes...spend a little extra time once to save time overall by preparing meals ahead. Pots dirty once, lunches prepacked and... ready for this one? You've already made healthier choices for the week, no more running out to buy something quick and greasy because you didn't have time to make lunch. Sounds like  a win, win, win to me.

Clutter....another clog to the household to-do list, always something where it doesn't belong, in the way of something else and before you know it...sloped corners in all the rooms and slanted horizontal surfaces everywhere you look. Overwhelming and stress inducing! Create a system....again a  little time investment initially but saves in the long run. Junk mail...recycle immediately! Do not start a pile, anywhere at anytime...they multiply! Stuff....everywhere...try this:everytime you make a pass across the room, take something with you, return it to it's proper place, the little bits along the way make for fewer overwhelming tasks eating up your weekends!

My lesson here.....KEEP UP, STOP WASTING TIME TRYING TO CATCH UP! Allowing things to get out of control lands you with overwhelming tasks that lead to stress and avoidance and tasks that are even more overwhelming. Same is true for starting tomorrow on your plans to be eat healthier and start exercising, the longer you wait, the more overwhelming it can be, slowly the pounds continue to creep up, the poor diet just feeds upon itself. Stop the cycle now! Dig in your heels, get started, make the time to get organized and get healthy and in the long run in more than one way you will have given yourself the gift of time!

We all have the same 24 hours to work with, this difference lies in how you use it!