#256 The Great Outdoors
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If ants are such busy workers, how come they
find time to go to all the picnics?

Marie Dressler

7 Substitutes for Picnic Diet Killers

By Joe Wilkes

PicnicIt's almost summertime, which brings the incongruous collision of picnic season and swimsuit season. The weather's perfect for hiking, camping, barbecuing, and days at the beach—lots of opportunities for outdoor exercise, but just as many opportunities to pig out at pool parties, luaus, outdoor festivals, and county fairs. Here are some foods to try avoiding during the dog days of summer and some ideas for substitutions for picnic favorites.

  1. ChickenFried chicken. It's not the K or the C in KFC that's the problem. It's the F for fried. And if you have any hope of staying slim this summer, it's time to tell the Colonel you're kicking the bucket. One extra-crispy breast will run you 460 calories and 28 grams of fat, 8 of them saturated. That's almost three times the calories of a grilled, skinless breast and almost ten times as much fat. So clearly, you're better off cooking the chicken yourself. But if you're grabbing something on the run, you might want to visit the rotisserie case at your local supermarket. Try picking a chicken that's not slathered in sugary barbecue sauce. And if you throw away the skin, you'll save yourself from eating most of the fat and calories.

  2. Lunch MeatSandwiches. A picnic without sandwiches is like a picnic without ants. It just wouldn't be the same. But of course, the sandwich is only as good as the sum of its ingredients. If you're using white bread, you're just eating empty carbohydrates. Make sure you buy whole-grain bread, and that it has the word "whole" in the ingredient list. Wheat bread is essentially the same as white bread, only with a little molasses added for brown coloring. It's nutritionally the same, if not worse. Whole wheat bread, on the other hand, contains the fiber and the vitamins you're looking for. For lunch meat, try avoiding processed meats like bologna and salami. They're packed with extra fat and sodium. And when buying unprocessed meats like turkey or roast beef, make sure they really are unprocessed. The makers of some brands of turkey grind up the skin and dark meat and then press it into lunch meat form, so you're really getting as much fat and sodium as you'd get from bologna. Watch out for flavored turkey as well. Most of the time the secret ingredient is salt. If you want to be really healthy, buy a whole turkey breast from your poultry section and roast it yourself, so you can control how much salt is added.

  3. BratwurstBrats and burgers. It's always great to fire up the grill and start cooking up a mess of meat. And the good news is that grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook food. It adds tons of flavor and doesn't add fat. Of course, the best thing to grill would be skinless chicken, fish, or vegetables. But if you're craving a juicy burger or brat and a portobello burger just won't do, there are still some decisions you can make to keep it on the lean side. For burgers, consider a leaner option than beef like ground turkey, or buffalo. But as always, check the label. Some grinds of turkey have as much fat as a fatty grind of beef. Ground turkey breast is usually much leaner than ground turkey. If you're going to make beef burgers, try to find a grind that is under 5 percent fat. Ground sirloin is usually pretty close. If you can't find a grind that's low enough in fat, ask your butcher to grind a lean piece of chuck roast or top sirloin for you. In addition to being leaner, this will also reduce your chances of picking up foodborne illnesses like E. coli, since only one cow is involved in producing a steak, as opposed to potentially hundreds in ground beef. In fact, if you're someone who likes to eat your burger rare, having the butcher grind a piece of meat for you is a must do. Bratwurst is another delicious summer fave, but watch the fat and sodium content in those as well. The chicken, turkey, and even veggie versions of sausage sound like they'd be lighter, but they're often just as fatty as the pork versions. Click here for 11 Tips for Cooking Out Without Pigging Out.

  4. Potato SaladPotato or macaroni salad. Mayonnaise is the culprit in these dishes. At 50 calories a tablespoon with 5 grams of fat, these side dishes can turn deadly for your diet in a hurry. But you can mitigate the damage somewhat. Instead of mayonnaise, consider using nonfat yogurt, food-processed nonfat cottage cheese, or nonfat ricotta cheese instead. You'll get fewer calories, less fat, and lessen the risk of salmonella poisoning by going eggless. One way to make potato salad healthier is to leave the skins on the potatoes, as they have the fiber and most of the vitamins in the spud. For macaroni salad, use a whole-grain pasta to get extra fiber. Better yet, make a pasta salad with heart-healthy olive oil, vinegar, and lots of veggies. Click here for more great salad ideas.

  5. Baked BeansBaked beans. Beans, beans, the musical fruit...well, you know the rest. Full of fiber and low in fat, beans are a great side dish that will keep you full. What you want to watch out for is the sugar that is added to most baked beans. Sometimes as much three teaspoons in a cup. Try plain pinto beans, or my favorite, beans canned with jalapeños. Replace high-calorie sweet with low-calorie fire, and you won't even miss the sugar. Three-bean salad is another flavorful way to consume your legumes without a lot of added fat or sugar.

  6. P90X Peak Performance Protein BarsTrail mix. Summer's a great time for checking out nature, and it's always great to bring along a healthy snack. But check the trail mix ingredients. Some, especially those containing granola, can be loaded with super-unhealthy hydrogenated oils and fat. There are trail mixes on the market that have more fat than a large order of fries, so it's definitely a buyer-beware situation. Also check out how much sugar is in the trail mix or granola bars you're taking backpacking. Some bars aren't much healthier than a Snickers. If ingredients in your trail mix include chocolate chips and marshmallows, you may not have made the healthiest choice. Try making your own trail mix with healthy unsweetened oats, nuts, and dried fruit. Or take along a couple of P90X® Peak Performance Protein Bars.

  7. Ice CreamIce cream. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. And we'll really be screaming when we try to stuff ourselves into our swimsuits after eating everyone's favorite fatty, frosty indulgence. It's hard to resist a cool ice cream cone on a hot summer day, and the tinkling of the ice cream truck bell can still send me bolting into the street. But that scoop of vanilla can have up to 400 calories and 25 grams of fat, 15 of them saturated. If you're culinarily gifted, you might consider making your own sorbet. If not, check out some of the ones available on the market. Sorbets are usually low-fat or nonfat, although they can still have tons of sugar. Try to find some that are mostly fruit. Speaking of fruit, for a healthy frozen treat, how about sticking some fruit in the freezer? Most fruits, especially berries, grapes, and bananas, freeze quite well. They'll last longer and popping a few frozen grapes in your mouth can cool you off on a hot day and you'll still get all the vitamins, fiber, and health benefits that a Creamsicle just can't provide.



Joe Wilkes If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Save Yourself from Shin Splints

By Denis Faye

JoggingIf I asked you to pound your entire body weight onto your hands, repeatedly, for an hour a day, six days a week, you'd probably tell me to get lost. Yet, if you're reading this, you probably do the exact same thing to your feet everyday when you work out, jog, or shoot hoops—and if you're not careful about it, your feet will let you know they aren't too happy about it, via your shins. Doctors and physical therapists call this message Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. We call it shin splints. Shin splints refer to pain in your tibia, or shinbone, and they are caused by overloading the bone and the connective tissue that attaches your muscles to the bone. There are a few reasons this happens.

FeetThe most likely cause is stressed muscles that become swollen and irritated from overuse. If this is the case, it's a simple fix and we'll discuss some solutions below. A second cause might be that you have flat feet, meaning your arches collapse, again stressing muscles. It's fairly obvious if you have flat feet (because, um, your feet are flat), and if this is the case, orthotics or arch supports can help. If you have access to custom orthotics from an orthopedist . . . great. If not, there are plenty of over-the-counter insoles and arch supports that might help. Just because one doesn't work, don't give up. It might take buying a few different kinds to find something comfortable for you.

A third and more serious cause of shin splints is stress fractures—small, hairline cracks in your lower leg bones. If this is the case, the pain tends to be sharper and more localized, with tenderness a few inches below the knee. If you suspect a stress fracture, talk to your doctor. Regardless of the cause, the first step in shin splint management is a few days' rest and some ice. While you're resting, if your shins keep hurting, go see a doctor. If you start exercising again and the pain increases, go see a doctor. If your shin starts swelling, go see a doctor. But if none of these things happen, then home remedies will most likely solve the problem. So we've come up with a little something called the Four S's of Saving Your Shins from Splints.

  1. Plyometrics MatSurface. Each time your foot hits the ground, your musculoskeletal system absorbs a shockwave. The softer the surface, the smaller the shockwave. If you run, look for a good track that gives little resistance or consider running on grass or off-road. Whatever you do, stay off the pavement. If you work out at home, exercise on carpeted flooring or get yourself a small rug to stand on. Better still, a floor mat, like Beachbody's Plyometrics Mat, works perfectly.

  2. Shoes. A good pair of sneakers can also absorb that shockwave. Jogging shoes tend to be ideal for this. If you're active, count on replacing footwear at least a couple of times a year. Your shoes may not look worn out after six months, but the internal support structure and shock absorbency have probably broken down.

  3. Warm upStretch. Before you work out, warm up the muscles that support your shins. A great stretch for this is to push against a wall with your hands. As you do this, straighten one leg, bending your other leg at the knee, keeping both feet flat on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the calf of your straight leg. Repeat, switching legs.

    There's also the tibialis anterior muscle stretch. Squat really low in front of a bar or something else you can grip. Lean back and pull yourself forward while keeping your feet flat. You'll feel the stretch under your shin.


  4. Strength. Strong shins can take more punishment. One super shin strengthener is toe raises, which train your tibialis anterior muscle. To do these, stand with your back against a wall and feet in front of you, about a foot from the wall, shoulder-width apart. Keeping your heels on the floor, raise your toes and lower them. Repeat 40 times.

    StretchingAnother strengthening exercise is calf raises. Stand on a stair or a stool so that your heels hang off the edge. Slowly rise up on your toes and the balls of your feet, and then slowly lower down again. Do three sets of ten. Once this gets easy, do it while holding weights. You can also do these with your toes pointed in and your toes pointed out.


The four S's are not only the ideal way to manage most shin splints, they're the ideal way to prevent them, too. So don't wait for the shockwave to overtake you before you start doing them. Remember, your shins have been good to you for years, it's about time you gave back.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Carnival Food IQ!

By Joe Wilkes
  1. ChurrosFALSE. Churro is Spanish for weasel. Churros, the deep-fried doughy snack, are actually named after the Churro sheep, whose curved horns they resemble. They are originally from Spain, where they are often eaten for breakfast, like doughnuts in the U.S. A typical churro has about 170 calories and 8 grams of fat.

  2. TRUE. The most popular color of cotton candy is pink. Blue and purple are close runners-up. Cotton candy was introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair as "fairy floss." A typical serving of cotton candy has 100 calories and no fat.

  3. FALSE. If you order a pogo in Canada, you'll get a taco. Actually, you'll get a corndog. They are also known as Dagwood dogs, Pluto pups, and Dippy dogs in Australia, and Golden Paradises in the eastern U.S. Reputedly, the first corn dog on a stick was called a "cozy dog." They are also served as the main entrée at Hot Dog on a Stick, the only 100-percent employee-owned fast food chain in America. A corn dog has about 460 calories and 19 grams of fat.

  4. Snow ConeFALSE. A snow cone is the same as Italian ice. Italian ice is similar to a snow cone, but the water is flavored before it becomes ice, where the American snow cone is plain crushed ice doused with syrup. The first snow cones were sold at the Texas State Fair in 1919. A typical snow cone has about 240 calories and no fat.

  5. FALSE. Nacho is a variation on the word macho, or manly. Actually "Nacho" was the nickname of the snack's inventor, Ignacio Anaya. He invented them in 1943. The original nachos were tortilla chips covered in melted cheese and jalapeño peppers. Many other toppings have been added throughout the years. A typical portion of nachos with just cheese and jalapeños has 345 calories and 19 grams of fat.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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