#384 (11/24/2009) HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
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Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.

Johnny Carson

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9 Ways to Have a Great Holiday Season with Your Eating Plan Intact

By Ben Kallen

The Thanksgiving-to-New Year's holiday season can be a fun time of celebrating with friends and family . . . but if you're not careful, it can turn into a 5-week festival of overeating, too. Not only is this period associated with heavy winter comfort foods, but seasonal treats and big holiday meals can be a minefield for people trying to stick to a fitness plan. It's no wonder so many people end up dieting in January just to make up for their recent excesses.

Santa Claus Holding a Glass of Milk and a Cookie

But as someone committed to gaining and maintaining a fit body, you should know that it is possible to enjoy the season without feeling deprived or looking like a party pooper. Follow these tips, and you can have a fun time and maintain your weight—or end up even leaner than before.

  1. Woman with Salad in Her MouthForget the preemptive diet. A new British study found that lots of women crash-diet before the holidays in the expectation that they'll overindulge during the season itself. But your goal should be to learn healthy eating habits that you can stick with over the long term, not to lose weight now just so you can gain it back later. That's likely to lead to a yo-yo dieting cycle, which could lower your metabolism and make fat loss more difficult than ever. Instead, make the decision now that you'll eat reasonable portions later (even on Thanksgiving), and you won't have anything to make up for.
  2. Stick to your workout program—or start one. We recently gave you some tips on how to keep up with your fitness plan over the holidays. (See "Stay Fit This Holiday Season" in the Related Articles section below.) Here's another reason why you should: Exercise and eating right go hand in hand. When you're working out, the food you eat goes toward energy and muscle, not fat. And you'll naturally want to eat foods that fuel your body, instead of junk that detracts from your performance. And if you do indulge in occasional treats, your regular workouts will help prevent them from doing much damage.

    Remember, you're building a habit of fitness that will last you a lifetime. When better to work on it than the busiest period of the year? You'll learn how to devote time to your own well-being every day, even when you have a lot of other things to do. (Use your fitness program's workout calendar, or WOWY SuperGym®, for scheduling support.) And when your friends and family see you getting leaner and fitter while they're poking new holes in their belts, you'll be an amazing inspiration.

  3. Be careful with comfort foods. When it's cold outside, you may be tempted to cocoon indoors with hot, hearty meals and snacks. This isn't necessarily a problem if you make fitness-friendly choices. (Check out our guides to high-protein winter stews and healthy hot drinks.) But if lousy weather or a lack of sunshine makes you crave carb-heavy dishes, prepare them with healthier carbs such as root vegetables and whole grains, not macaroni or mashed-potato flakes. And make them part of a balanced meal, not the whole thing.
  4. Moderate your treats. More than any other time of year, the holiday season is associated with lots of "special" foods—turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, candied yams, green-bean casserole, latkes, Christmas cookies, etc. Some of these would put you way off your food plan, even if you managed not to stuff yourself the way so many people do. But others are just fine when eaten in moderation, or can be made much healthier—in fact, you couldn't do much better than a meal of turkey, baked yams, and fresh green beans. (And you can make Pumpkin Pie Shakeology® a daily habit.)
  5. Plan ahead for parties. Cocktail parties can be the downfall of any food plan, but they don't have to be. First, if you're expecting to be served treats or hors d'oeuvres instead of healthful food, have a protein-rich snack before you go. It'll prevent you from gobbling up appetizers or sweets out of sheer hunger, and will help keep your blood sugar steady even if you do have a few cookies or crab puffs. If there's a buffet, watch your portions carefully; it's easy to pile on the food, especially if there are a lot of choices you want to try. And if it's a potluck, bring along a dish that's both tasty and healthful—it'll guarantee there's something good for you to eat, and others will probably appreciate it, too.
  6. Woman MeditatingDon't stress out. A recent study at the University of California, San Francisco, confirms what you already know: You're more likely to eat high-calorie comfort foods when you're under chronic stress. And the holidays can be a perfect storm of stressful conditions and sweet treat availability.

    You probably can't avoid the annoyances that come with too little time or money, holiday crowds, or lengthy family get-togethers, but you can keep them from getting you down. If you're working out regularly, you already have a leg up on the average person, because exercise helps reduce tension and create an upbeat mood. Help yourself even more by doing something relaxing for a few minutes each day, whether it's yoga, meditation, or simply listening to calming music. And if you do start feeling stressed, stop for a few seconds and take slow, deep breaths instead of reaching for an extra snack.

  7. Don't abuse the booze. Yes, a glass of wine or champagne can be a nice way to celebrate the season, and it's pretty much obligatory on New Year's Eve. But too much drinking has all kinds of negative effects: extra calories (which your body will burn while storing carbohydrates), lowered inhibitions (which can lead to overeating, or behavior that will require an apology later on), and a feeling of sluggishness or worse the next day that can derail your fitness plan. As long as you're an adult and don't have problems with alcohol, an occasional drink or two is fine—but if your cheeks get as red as Santa's regularly, eventually your belly will resemble his, too.
  8. Man Eating PastaAvoid the food-gift trap. You could stay away from heavy sweets all year and still find it hard to resist grandma's special fudge, even if the box contains 2 full days' worth of calories and enough sugar to fuel an army of hummingbirds. So what should you do with food gifts? Store-bought baskets of fatty sausages and "cheese food" are fine to regift (or donate to a food bank), but homemade goodies are trickier. You'll have to be polite and enjoy a little, preferably in the giver's presence. Leave the rest out for the family to share, or bring it to work (where it'll probably be devoured quickly). If it's a treat you really love, divide it into small pieces and freeze them in individual baggies, so you won't be tempted to eat it all at once.
  9. Give yourself a break. If you do overindulge at some point, don't beat yourself up about it, or decide to give up entirely and start over in January. As long as you have a consistent fitness program, you're unlikely to lose the progress you've made. Just Keep Pushing Play every day, go back to your food plan, and look forward to your healthiest holidays ever.

Related Articles
"Stay Fit This Holiday Season"
"6 Guilt-Free Choices for Thanksgiving"
"10 Great Vegetarian Sources of Protein"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 30th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Hunting Shakeology Ingredients

By Darin Olien

OK, how did the more than 70 ingredients end up in this fantastic blend of potent nutrition and yumminess? Like I mentioned in the previous article, I started with some questions. I asked myself, "What do most bodies require in this day and age?" "What is not being delivered in food today (and even good, organic food)?" "What are the gaps in nutrition that need to be filled for the majority of people?"

Woman Drinking Salad, Glass of Shakeology, and Shakeology Ingredients Bouquet

But the first question was, "Why do we even need a shake with that much nutrition anyway? What's wrong with the food we eat anyway?"

The fact is, these days, our food is lacking nutrients. The nutrient density of our food has continued to plummet as the value of money has trumped the value of quality. It is insane, but true!

The facts are well documented. Pushing farm production has depleted soils. Crops of non-nutritive foods have replaced nutrition-dense foods. And pesticides and genetic modification are wreaking havoc with the chemical and genetic markers that have evolved over the centuries. That means we're putting more food into the pipeline that has less of what we need and more of what we don't need. On a biological level, our bodies hardly recognize the food we are swallowing.

Ask yourself . . . how do you expect your body to live tirelessly, vibrantly, with the power to defend itself from disease if what is being fed into it is like putting dirty gas in the tank of a Ferrari? What a waste of a beautiful sports car!

If we want our health to improve, we need to be aware so we can choose differently, and in this case, we chose to create something to fulfill the deep desire of EVERYbody's need to be fed more nutrition. So we started by filling in those gaps, giving the body what it really wants and requires!

The result is 70-plus ingredients, feeding the body the equivalent of a supercharged multivitamin and protein-rich health smoothie. As important as the ingredients are, what drove their inclusion was the body's need for these vital ingredients, the cornerstones of Shakeology's creation:

  1. Fresh PeasWhole foods. So many supplements on the market are just fragmentations of the complete matrix of real food. Think of it like taking the most popular scene from a 2-hour movie and calling THAT the movie. It's incomplete without the character development, plot, and nuance that make it a holistic experience. The same goes with food. On a biological level, your body needs the whole "movie" to get the complete benefit of the vitamin or mineral that is the star. You just cannot replace or reengineer the incredible balance and creation of whole foods. So we selected high-quality, potent foods, herbs, grasses, and ingredients, and then processed them minimally to preserve the integrity, phytochemicals, natural vitamins, minerals, alkaloids, phytosterols, etc. This was a huge aspect of Shakeology getting the whole, deliverable nutrition in bioavailable ways.
  2. Vitamins and minerals. We included quality nutrition from potent and varying whole food sources ("nutrition, right off the vine" as I like to call it). And then we backed that up by adding in a well-balanced vitamin and mineral profile since whole foods fluctuate from crop to crop.
  3. Enzymes. Enzymes are critical for optimal health. But since enzymes flood the food only in the last days of ripening before harvest, enzyme supplementation is critical for the majority of people. Even if you eat all raw foods, the enzymes are still low. And cooked food has ZERO active enzymes.

    A very quick note . . . why enzymes? They have been called "The Fountain of Life!" They are behind EVERY single process in the body! Yes, EVERYTHING requires enzymes! The labor force of the body that digests, absorbs, allows for signals to be sent, creates new blood cells, etc., is all governed by enzymes. You would be shocked at how starved your body has been for enzyme support. That's why the addition of these vital forces to Shakeology was so critical!

  4. BacteriaPrebiotics and Probiotics. We've all heard about foods with additive probiotics, like yogurts for instance. Did you know that your body can actually manifest its own probiotics if you feed it prebiotics? With the way people eat today they have created a thriving environment for UNHEALTHY BACTERIA in the body. That has created all sorts of debilitating breakdowns of the body: candida, fibromyalgia, even the foundation for mental and emotional fatigue . . . and on and on. The prebiotics of the amazing yacon root (which I will get into in future posts) is food for the "healthy" bacteria, and in turn creates an environment for healthy probiotics to flourish. By getting our internal "ecosystem" in balance, you have the potential for a vibrant, thriving body and life! It's complex, and even difficult to fathom an ecosystem inside your own body, but it cannot be underestimated. You need prebiotics to help you foster probiotics!
  5. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane). MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in FRESH, RAW fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and grains. But within hours of harvest, MSM changes and is virtually gone. That's why it is very difficult to get MSM naturally, because where ancient man ate what he picked almost instantly, today it is picked, processed, packaged, and palleted for months before it hits the table. MSM is long gone. But why is it important? MSM is critical to the connective tissue and the fluidity (or space) between cells! MSM gives them "room to breathe." When the body becomes very rigid, tight, painful, and stiff, oftentimes MSM is at very low quantities in the body. Since we are not eating our own foods immediately after harvesting, we MUST supplement this vital component, or the body has a hard time staying healthy and flexible on a cellular level, which translates throughout the body on a biomechanical level as well.

Next month, I will get into some of the exotic and unique ingredients like the Peruvian powerhouses, powerful adaptogens, and the stories behind me finding them!

Related Articles
"The Birth of Shakeology"
"7 Results-Increasing Delicious Drinks"
"10 Sensational Seasonals"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 30th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Recipe: Cranberry Relish Surprise!

Cranberries, Orange, and ShakeologyForget that gelatinous can-shaped cranberry side dish, or the cranberries laced with enough sugar to put you into a coma for the rest of the evening. If you want to get your tart on this holiday season, try this healthy Shakeology holiday treat, fresh from the Beachbody® test kitchen.

  • 1 scoop Greenberry Shakeology
  • 2 cups cold cranberry juice
  • 7 segments mandarin orange
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup ice (or to taste)
  • Orange zest twist for garnish (optional)

Blend till frothy and enjoy!

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories: 315
  • Protein: 17 g
  • Carbs: 51 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Fat: 1 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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