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FIGHT THE "FRESHMAN 15"! ISSUE #105 11/01/11

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Watch Out! The Freshman 15 Isn't Just for Freshmen

By Steve Edwards

Back-to-school time doesn't just affect students. It's the time of year when everything changes—for everyone. The days shorten, the weather cools off, we get really busy, and the holidays are looming around the corner. As opposed to those frivolous days of summer, your schedule is now probably booked. In short, it's the easiest time of the year to let your health slide.

Boxing Gloves Punching Candy, Chocolate, Cookies

This is when it's important to remember that the "freshman 15" isn't just for freshmen. All of us, students or not, face these seasonal lifestyle adjustments—and the lapses in fitness and healthy diet that accompany them—every year. Autumn is beautiful, but it's also the toughest season to transition through. Here are 10 ways to make it to New Year's without having to make a resolution to spend all or part of next year fixing what went off the rails during the fall.

  1. Man Working OutSchedule your exercise. One of the most difficult adjustments to make during the fall is getting used to less daylight. As the days shorten, it seems as if you've got fewer hours during which to schedule your activities. When you come home from work in the dark, it hurts your psyche. And it's tough to believe that 7:00 PM is really no different than it was during July, when you still had 2 hours of daylight left. Then there's the cold factor. Even if you work out indoors, it's so much easier to get back under your warm covers or bundle up and sit in front of a fire or the TV than it is to force a workout. Just remember that exercising makes you warm. It also keeps you fit and healthy and is the best thing you can do with cold and flu season right around the corner. Schedule your daily workout like it's part of your job, and stick to it.
  2. Schedule your sleep. As our days get busier, we tend to push projects later and later into the evening. To fuel those longer hours we eat . . . and eat. This is one major cause of the freshman 15: the infamous all-nighter. A recent study showed that when doctors are doing their residencies and are forced to work extremely long hours, famously foregoing sleep in the process, they each gain an average of more than 20 pounds. As available daylight decreases, it's common to find yourself making alterations in your daily schedule, with sleep often losing out, so schedule your sleep just like you do your work and exercise.
  3. Plan your meals. Plan your weekly meals ahead of time so you don't resort to unhealthy "convenience" foods. If your schedule is insane during the week, try taking an hour or two on Sunday to shop and strategize. Put healthy meal and snack options in your car, your office, your backpack, or anywhere you're likely to find yourself hungry. Trust me, the energy you get on the back end of this planning will far exceed the time it takes to plan, especially when you consider how you'll feel if your diet is fueled by fast food.
  4. Man Drinking WaterCarry water everywhere. When we're busy, we'll often forget to drink water, especially as the weather cools off. Then, in this dehydrated state, we often confuse thirst for hunger, and we eat. You can avoid this by making sure there's water everywhere you go. Carry a water bottle and refill it at every opportunity. Have an extra bottle in your car, your backpack, at your desk, etc., and behave as if you're in a race each day. Force yourself to drink a glass of water every hour that you're working or studying.
  5. Be realistic about alcohol. Another big contributor to the freshman 15, alcohol, is very high in calories (7 calories per gram) and very low in nutritional value. Every drink you consume is about 200 calories of nutrition that you aren't getting from your diet, or that you're consuming additional calories—overeating—to replace. And this is before we consider the calories you need to consume getting rid of a hangover. If you're a drinker, you'll never be faced with more temptation than during the fall. So plan for it. Prior to going out, consider the number of drinks you want to allow yourself and stick to it. Another helpful tip is to carry that water bottle with you socially as well and drink a bottle for every cocktail you have. This will help fill you up so you aren't drinking alcohol to quench your thirst, which happens often at social events. Drinking that water will also keep you hydrated and minimize the effects of your hangover. One other helpful hangover cure is to have a glass of P90X® Results and Recovery Formula® at night after you've been drinking. Consuming these calories right before bed may be not be ideal, but it'll minimize the damage the alcohol will do to your body, which should lead to less overeating and more productivity the next day.
  6. FruitPlan for parties. Parties happen—and there's not much you can do about it. Even if you aren't social, the party will find you. Many offices are like the one in that Seinfeld episode where the coworkers find any excuse to celebrate, usually with cake or other sugary treats. And with fall comes many such opportunities to indulge. Beginning with Oktoberfest, you'll find a relentless stream of perfectly good excuses to ruin your health that lasts right through New Year's. Plan ahead and decide just which occasions will be worth the indulgence. That way you'll be fully armed with reasons when your coworkers show up in your office singing, "Get well, get well soon . . ."
  7. Begin a morning ritual. One of the easiest ways to live a healthy lifestyle is to begin each day by doing something positive. During the summer, we often let this slide because, well, we can. With long warm days to look forward to, there always seems to be time to do something energetic. As the days shorten, making the effort to be healthier takes more discipline. Beginning each day with something healthy, even something as brief as a 5-minute ritual of breathing deeply, stretching, and thinking about positive things you want to accomplish with your day, can give you a whole new outlook.
  8. Find a healthy nighttime ritual. Many of us undo an entire day's productivity in the last few hours before bed. This is particularly true when we're busy and/or stressed because we want to unwind, which often means cocktails and/or desserts in front of the TV. If you can find a healthier way to unwind, you'll do yourself a world of good. And even if you can't get away from the cocktail/dessert/TV habit, adding something at its end, instead of just sacking out, can reverse much of the damage. Stretching in front of the TV is one of the easiest ways to make that transition. Following up your stretching with herbal tea and some relaxing reading can have you hitting the sack with a much more positive attitude. Another way to help yourself get in that positive ready-for-bed headspace? Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Pajama Time or the Yoga Booty Ballet Relax and Unwind bedtime meditation CD, both of which are designed with end-of-day relaxation in mind.
  9. Women StretchingMake a positive New Year's resolution now. Instead of waiting until New Year's to undo and repair the damage caused by a fall-into-winter slide away from your fitness goals, make a resolution to get there, starting today, with improved fitness and health. Just think about how much better your goals can be for next year if you finish this year on a positive note. Why put yourself through the work of digging yourself out of a hole you make deeper from now through the end of the year? Instead, set yourself up, beginning right now, to have a banner New Year.
  10. Cut yourself some slack. You can't be perfect, and, frankly, who wants to be? You've got to live. By planning ahead with goals in mind, you'll be far more able to relax about the holiday season, and maybe even enjoy it a little too. So make a plan and do your best to stick with it, but don't forget to make enjoying the season and having some fun part of that plan.

Related Articles
"20 Secrets of Very Fit People"
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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, November 14th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT.

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.

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, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Down and Dirty One-Pot Meals

By Joe Wilkes

For a lot of us, an elegant sit-down family dinner means serving the chicken without the bucket. Having to work until 5:00 or 6:00 at night and then having to come home and whip up something your children will eat that won't get you reported to the Department of Children and Family Services can be a challenge for anyone. Then after the cooking, the serving, and potentially the force-feeding, you get to spend the rest of the evening doing the dishes and cleaning your kitchen so you can do it all again tomorrow. They never show that part on Martha Stewart. No wonder you have the pizza place on speed-dial. But it's possible to eat both quickly and healthily. Here are a few ideas for getting something nutritious on the table in a hurry, and the best part? Only one pot to clean!

Meat and Vegetables in a Pot

(And for single people, invest in some airtight containers, freeze your leftovers, and be a slave to Lean Cuisine® no more!)

  1. Vegetables in a WokGet to wok. Instead of summoning the deliverymen with the greasy white boxes, try making your own stir-fry feast. You can cut out most of the extra fat, corn syrup, MSG, and salt your takeout place so kindly provides, and if you can enlist some prep help with the chopping, it takes only minutes to cook, and even less time to clean!

    • Heat enough olive, peanut, or sesame oil to keep food from sticking to the wok. Go easy—you shouldn't need more than a couple of tablespoons, max.
    • When the oil's hot, add sliced meat or tofu with some crushed ginger and/or garlic.
    • When the meat is cooked through, add your favorite chopped veggies, like carrots, celery, cabbage, onions, snow peas, or scallions (you can chop the veggies while the meat's cooking).
    • Add a dash of low-sodium soy sauce or tamari or a little orange juice to make a sauce and serve!
    If you're not watching your carbs, you might also want to steam up some brown or wild rice in the microwave by placing 1 cup dry rice, 2 cups hot water or stock, 1 teaspoon butter or oil, and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper in a covered glass dish (large enough to hold the rice after it expands) and nuking it for 5 minutes on high, stirring it, and nuking it 15 minutes on medium. Let it stand for a minute or two, then don't forget to fluff it up with a fork before you serve it. The next day, you can stir-fry the extra rice with any meat and vegetables you might have left over. And if you scramble an egg into the mix, you've got healthy fried rice—increasing your meal output impressively for virtually the same amount of effort.

    Shortcut: Many grocery stores sell mixes of stir-fry vegetables already chopped and combined in their produce or frozen foods sections. They won't be quite as delicious as freshly chopped, but as long as they don't have any extra ingredients you don't want (like sauce or salt), they're just as healthy.
  2. MeatloafLoafing after work. The humble meatloaf. Most of us remember this classic treat from our childhood. It was usually an alchemic combination of ground beef, bread crumbs, ketchup, and whole eggs. Delicious? Yes. Nutritious? Not so much. Much of the deliciousness came from the beef fat soaking the bread crumbs and combining with the egg yolks to give us a couple of days' worth of saturated fat in one serving. Then there's all the extra salt and corn syrup the ketchup brings to the party. But it doesn't have to be this way—a healthy 'loaf can be made without all that fat that's still flavorful and still maintains enough structural integrity to be repurposed as a sandwich filling the next day.

    • Use extra-lean ground beef, or either ground turkey breast or extra-lean ground turkey. Check the label to be sure it's extra-lean—if it just says "ground turkey," it can have 15 percent or more fat, and what's the point of that?
    • Next, add some vegetables to the mix. You can add chopped or grated carrots, celery, onions, bell peppers, parsnips—whatever you like. Just watch the amounts of juicier veggies like tomatoes, which can turn your loaf something resembling soup, just less appetizing. The amount of vegetables should be proportional to the meat. (This is also a great way of slipping veggies to the picky eaters in your family.)
    • Instead of adding bread crumbs, try a handful of rolled oats. You'll get more fiber and they won't absorb fat the way bread crumbs will (not that there's all that much to absorb with this revamped approach to the 'loaf).
    • Add a couple of egg whites, which, along with the oats' gluten, will provide enough "glue" to hold the 'loaf together. Also add any fresh herbs, garlic, or other seasonings you enjoy. Mush it all together and shape into the familiar 'loaf form beloved throughout history.
    • Most meatloaf recipes bake in a 350-degrees-ish oven for an hour or so and call for the 'loaf to sit for at least 15 minutes to cool, letting the ingredients take time to cohere and giving the flavors time to marry fully.
    Shortcut: Take a look a little later on in this newsletter for a terrific reduced-fat meatloaf recipe that follows the principles we've just laid out for you. It's delish!

    Also, not so good at separating eggs? Most grocery stores sell cartons of egg whites on their own. Or you can use egg substitutes, like Egg Beaters®. In addition to being healthier, they're also more convenient. No cracking, scrambling, or getting hands and bowls dirty. It may only save a couple of minutes, but those are minutes better devoted to serious loafing!
  3. Beef StewStew in your own juices. Stew. Or as I like to call it, my vegetables' last stop before Garbagetown. You're cooking and cleaning out your refrigerator—now that's multitasking! You can call it stew, goulash, gumbo, cassoulet, ratatouille, cioppino, or ragout, but most importantly, you can call it dinner.

    • Put a big pot on the stove. Put a little olive oil in the bottom, and when it heats, brown some raw meat, poultry, fish (best if it's not too flaky or delicate), or tofu. (If you're using leftover or precooked meat, just throw it in with the vegetables, and ignore this and the next step.)
    • Put the cooked protein aside, drain the fat, and then deglaze the pot with a little red or white wine.
    • Next pay a visit to the vegetable morgue, also known as the crisper drawer, and add to the pot whatever looks like it won't make it through the night (some garlic and onions are always good too—even if they're not at death's door). Root vegetables are traditional favorites here: carrots, turnips, parsnips, and potatoes are all great ingredients for a hearty stew. Smaller ones can be scrubbed, trimmed, and cooked whole; otherwise cut them into 1- or 2-inch chunks.
    • Once the veggies have softened and relinquished their juices, add the meat back to the pot, add some low-sodium chicken, vegetable, or beef broth and/or some no-salt tomato sauce, and cook on low heat until it reaches the desired consistency (about 15 to 20 minutes).
    • If you're short on time after work, this could be thrown together in a Crock-Pot® or slow cooker in the morning, and when you return home, dinner's ready!
    Shortcut: Most supermarkets' meat departments sell precut cubes of meat or fish, all wrapped up and ready to go. Also, it's always good to have a couple of favorite staple vegetables in the freezer or a can or two of beans on hand to throw into the pot.
  4. CasseroleThe casserole—a pan and a plan. How would the cream-of-anything soup industry stay in business without casseroles? Not to mention the canned-french-fried onion companies. Casseroles, in and of themselves, don't have to be bad for you. They start out with meat and vegetables, which are usually pretty healthy. It's the improvisations that usually get our diets in trouble.

    • To begin with, choose lean meats. Sausage-and-whatever casseroles are usually yummy because the other ingredients soak up all the artery-clogging fat from the sausage. Using lean meat or poultry will help keep it healthy from the get-go.
    • Also, keep the vegetable-to-meat ratio fairly high. Imagine what a serving of a casserole would look like spread out on a plate in its component parts. You probably wouldn't consider a pound of meat and a Brussels sprout a well-balanced meal. Try to keep the meat to about 4 ounces per serving and fill the rest of the pan with fiber-rich, filling, healthy vegetables (not just potatoes).
    • For sauces, try to avoid cheese and anything that begins with "cream of," as well as actual cream itself. Canned soups, a casserole staple, usually rely heavily on sodium for flavor. You can do much better by using a low-sodium broth, which you can whisk together with some nonfat powdered milk and corn starch to make a faux cream sauce.
    • If you like pasta in your casserole, try using a whole-grain variety.
    • And instead of adding french-fried onions, how about thinly sliced almonds to provide a little crunch?
    Shortcut: Most casseroles can be assembled a day ahead of time, so if you're anticipating a late day at the office, you can make the casserole the night before, and just pop it into the oven the next day. That overnight bonding time you give your ingredients will make the casserole that much tastier.

Related Articles
"What's New with the P90X2™ Nutrition Guide?"
"6 Healthy Foods That Are Easy on Your Wallet"
"9 Foods That Can Fool You"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, November 14th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT.

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.

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, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

Submit A CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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Work Out in the SuperGym® on 11/11/11 for a Chance to Win $1,111

On November 11th (11/11/11), Beachbody® CEO Carl Daikeler is challenging the Team Beachbody® community to put together the largest-ever group of people working out at one time in the Beachbody SuperGym.

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Hope to see you starting your workout in the SuperGym on Friday, November 11th, at 11:11 AM!

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P90X2: It's Time!

Power 90® broke the mold. P90X® pushed the envelope. And soon P90X2 will shatter the mold, crush the envelope, and ignite a sports science revolution! Here's an advance look at the future of fitness. Click below to watch the video.

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Recipe: Reduced-Fat Meatloaf

Reduced-Fat MeatloafWho among us (carnivores and omnivores, at least) doesn't love a good meatloaf? And with 24 grams of protein per serving and lots of healthy veggies, this recipe will let you feed your craving for this classic American comfort food without sending your good eating habits off the rails.

  • 1-1/2 lbs. extra-lean ground beef, ground turkey breast, or extra-lean ground turkey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened tomato sauce
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well with wooden spoons or hands. Place on board or waxed paper and shape into loaf, then place in loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour. (Depending on the shape and thickness of loaf, it may need to cook for slightly longer—make sure a meat thermometer shows an inner temperature of at least 165°F.) Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
257 24 g 2 g 13 g 12 g 4 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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