- Stay Fit This Holiday Season
- Introducing the 90-Day Ab Solution!
- BNN Celebrates Veterans Day with Shaun T
- A Low-Calorie Snack Survival Guide
- Test Your Glycemic Index IQ!
The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.
Stay Fit This Holiday SeasonBy Ben Kallen
The holidays shouldn't leave you looking like a bowlful of jelly. As fun as the holiday season is, it can be rough on your fitness program. Bad weather, stress, and lack of time can sap your motivation, while parties, visitors, and vacations can distract you from your workouts. It's no wonder so many people gain weight in November and December, only to regret it on January 2nd.
But it doesn't have to be that way. You can keep up or even improve your fitness level, stave off weight gain, and enjoy the holidays as much as ever. Just stick with the following guidelines.
- Manage your time.
Scheduling your workouts in advance, either with a printed workout calendar or online with WOWY Supergym®, is always a good idea. But it's especially important over the holidays, when just saying "I'll do it when I have time" can be a recipe for failure. Your free time is sure to get filled up with other activities, and it's easier than ever to forget about working out. On the other hand, if you schedule your workouts just like any appointments, you're much more likely to do them when the time comes. (Better still, invite some Workout Buddies to join you for extra motivation.)
If you absolutely can't find time on a particular day, mark it as a recovery period, and make sure you have a workout scheduled for the day afterward. It'll prevent you from losing the fitness gains you've built, and ensure that you keep your exercise habit intact.
- Keep up your energy.
If your holiday period is marked by flurries of frantic activity followed by a worn-out feeling, you're not alone. But you can shorten those "dragging" periods with these healthy habits:
- Stick to your food plan. Loading up on high-carb holiday treats can cause blood sugar fluctuations that leave you feeling tired, while subsisting on rushed snacks or skipping meals entirely prevents you from getting the fuel you need. But regular, high-quality meals and snacks will keep you running at top speed, whether you're working out or fighting over the last Dora the Explorer doll in the toy store.
- Take time to relax. A meditation session, a round of yoga, or just a few minutes sitting with a hot drink or your favorite music will go a long way toward recharging your batteries.
- See the light. If your energy takes a nosedive in the wintertime, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a mood-dampening condition caused by too little light exposure. See if you perk up after getting more rays (either by spending more time outside on sunny days, or by using a full-spectrum light box). If that doesn't help, see your doctor.
- No skipping. If you feel a little tired before a planned workout, don't take that as a signal to skip it. Chances are your energy levels will pick up once you start moving. And when you exercise regularly, you're much less likely to experience those lulls during the rest of the day.
- Travel right.
This is a great time of year to take a vacation or visit family—but without advance planning, those trips can bring your fitness program to a screeching halt. Here's how to avoid that:
- Protect yourself on the plane. Since there's no guarantee that an airline will have healthy food on hand, pack a meal or snack in advance, and make sure you drink plenty of liquids. If you're worried about catching something on the flight, boost your disease-fighting ability with Herbal Immune Boost.
- Watch out when eating out. Travel often means a lot of restaurant meals, and that can derail your food plan in a hurry. Try to find restaurants that serve high-quality meals, or, if that's not possible, order the best of what is on the menu. (Even the IHOP® has some healthful, high-protein selections these days.) But if you eat in a chain restaurant, check out the nutrition ratings just to make sure you're not getting one of those 2,000-calorie salads.
- Organize healthy activities. When you go to a warm beach or on a ski vacation, this is a no-brainer. But if you're traveling to an unfamiliar city, you should find out in advance what you can do that requires a little movement. And if you're staying with family members who prefer life on the couch, suggest some outdoor games—or, if the weather isn't cooperative, healthy indoor activities. Even a post-meal walk will get everyone's blood pumping and prevent total lethargy from setting in.
- Take your workout with you. One of the many benefits of a DVD workout program is that it's portable. Decide which workouts you'll want to do during your trip, and pack those DVDs, along with a resistance band. If you don't have one, see if the place you're staying has basic gym equipment, or stick to exercises that don't require any.
- Take care of your health.
Nothing can derail a workout program like getting sick. And you may be extra-vulnerable to illness at this time of year, when stress and bad weather collide with cold and flu season. But a few basic precautions can improve your odds:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before touching your nose or mouth. (A recent study found that it doesn't matter how hot the water is, but for maximum benefit, you need to lather with soap for at least 20 seconds.)
- Avoid germs. If you work out in a gym, clean the equipment with antibacterial spray, or at least cover it with a towel. Warm, moist surfaces are an ideal place for germs to live and grow.
- Get plenty of sleep—less than 7 or 8 hours per night can compromise your immune system. (It can also slow your exercise recovery.) Try to save the late-night carousing for times when you can sleep late or take a nap the next day.
- Drink plenty of water. It's easy to forget when it's cold outside, but staying hydrated helps keep your immune system in top working order.
- Get a flu shot. Remember, there are different strains of the flu virus every year, so last year's shot won't keep you protected.
- Maintain your healthy eating habits, and get a complete supply of vitamins every day. (To make sure, supplement with ActiVit® Multivitamins or Shakeology®.)
If you do come down with a mild cold, it's okay to keep working out—moderate exercise can actually boost your immunity. (Though if you're following a high-powered program such as P90X® or INSANITY®, you should ramp down the intensity for a while.) But if you have a fever, chest congestion, or can barely get out of bed, that's a sign that you need to rest up and recover. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 16th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 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 email@example.com.
BNN Celebrates Veterans Day with Shaun T
Shaun T takes on the role of "drill sergeant" for a day to support our troops' fitness level with a grueling, military-style INSANITY workout at a base in El Paso, Texas. Check it out this Wednesday on BNN's Veterans Day special!
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 16th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!
A Low-Calorie Snack Survival GuideBy Stephanie Saunders
Dieting can be a struggle for even the most disciplined. Going against your cravings, turning down tasty desserts, and making wise restaurant choices is difficult for even those of us who give advice about it. And although recent studies show that caloric restriction has wide-ranging health benefits and may offer protection against age-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease*, feeling hunger pains can make it a Herculean task. Anyone that was sent to bed as a child without dinner can attest to how uncomfortable falling asleep can be when your stomach is empty. Thanks a lot, Mom.
We're all well aware that in order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories in a day than you consume. And for most people, consuming small meals several times a day is much more effective than consuming one or two giant ones, but what happens if you have followed your eating plan to the letter, and that grumbling in your tummy is still there? Fear not! There are a plethora of low-calorie foods out there that can fill up your stomach without affecting your calorie count for the day too adversely.
Most of us don't crave vegetables in our time of dieting need, but because of their low calorie count and high fiber count, they can push away hunger very quickly. If you're craving salt, a touch of fat-free dressing can spruce up even the most boring produce. For the purpose of low-calorie snacking, aim for the non-starch variety (avoid potatoes, corn, peas, carrots). And, remember, the more water in the vegetable, the better. Some great choices include:
- Celery. This super crunchy friend has 6 calories, 1.5 grams of carbohydrates, 0.7 grams of fiber, no fat, and 0.3 grams of protein per stalk.
- Cucumbers. Previous to pickling, cucumbers have 14 calories, 2.8 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, no fat, and 0.4 grams of protein per 1-cup sliced serving.
- Bell peppers. Colorful and slightly sweet, bell peppers have 20 calories, 4.8 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of fiber, no fat, and 0.7 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving.
Fruit is a bit tricky, as the calorie counts vary per item, and there is a lot of sugar in fruit. Remember the water rule, and you will be in fairly good shape. Also, really watch your portion size. A cup of watermelon is a great choice, while an entire watermelon will not serve you well. If you're looking at the frozen varieties, make sure that there's no sugar added to your choices. And avoid the gallon-size smoothies sold in every mini-mall in this great country. Calorically, they should replace a meal, and the amount of sugar they contain can send your insulin through the roof. Some fantastic choices, in 1/2-cup servings, include:
- Melons. Cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon are all between 25 and 30 calories, 5 to 7 grams of carbohydrates, 0.4 to 0.7 grams of fiber, no fat, 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving.
- Berries. When in season, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries can satisfy a sweet tooth and your hunger. They each have between 20 to 40 calories, 5 to 10 grams of carbs, 2 to 3 grams of fiber, no fat, and 0.5 grams of protein.
- Apples. Always in season, apples each contain about 82 calories, 21 grams of carbs, 3.8 grams of fiber, no fat, and 0.2 grams of protein.
Protein is known to rebuild muscle; however, for the dieter, the best part about protein is that it is filling and has some substance to it. In this instance, dealing with low-calorie snacking, your protein choices will have to be small in size and low in fat. In other words, do not eat 2 pounds of bacon and consider it a snack. It's also wise to combine these small protein portions with a choice from the vegetable category. It will add flavor and fiber, which will add to your satiation. Some low-cal favorites include:
- Egg whites. Sometimes, they take a bit to get used to, but scrambled egg whites pack a high-protein punch. Egg whites contain 29 calories, 0.6 grams of carbohydrates, no fiber and fat, and 6 grams of protein per 1/4-cup serving, before cooking.
- Light cheese. There are tons of light cheese options out there, but to make it simple, we are leaning toward the preportioned variety. Light string cheese and Laughing Cow® wedges have 35 to 50 calories, 1 gram of carbs, no fiber, 2 grams of fat, and 3 to 6 grams of protein.
Starchy and sweet snacks
With the advent of the 100-calorie pack, one would assume that starchy carbohydrate snacking would be completely figured out. The problem is that most people don't stop at one pack, and three packs later, you could have had a sandwich or a sundae. In this particular situation, we suggest snacks that don't add more than 50 or 60 calories to your daily intake, so unless you can only eat half of that SnackWells® pack, perhaps look at these more filling options:
- Whole-grain brown rice cakes. Rice expands in your stomach, and makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. One whole-grain brown rice cake contains 30 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, no fat, and 1 gram of protein.
- Air-popped popcorn. Air-popped popcorn is very filling, and unlike its movie-theater cousin, it's not a caloric nightmare. Air-popped popcorn contains 31 calories, 6.2 grams of carbohydrates, 1.2 grams of fiber, 0.4 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein per 1-cup serving.
- Sugar-free Fudgesicle®. I think this is one of humankind's greatest creations. Each sugar-free Fudgesicle contains 35 calories, 16 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein.
OK, so it's not actually food, but beverages and broths can have a very filling effect on a very empty belly. Warm liquids, in particular, expand in your stomach and make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Some choices include:
- No-sugar-added hot chocolate. On a chilly night, hot chocolate can be filling and comforting. No-sugar-added hot chocolate contains 50 calories, 10 grams of carbs, no fiber or fat, and 2 grams of protein.
- Low-sodium chicken broth. This diet wonder can be spiced up a bit, or even added to, with choices from the vegetable category. Chicken broth contains 15 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrates, no fiber or fat, and 2 grams of protein.
- Beachbody's Shakeology. The most filling and nutritionally dense product on the market. For snacking purposes, try a 1/2-scoop serving size (24 grams). That's 70 calories, 8.5 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of fat, and 8.5 grams of protein.
Remember, these suggestions are not replacements for high-quality meals, but just a way to chase hunger away when those meals have already been consumed. Many people on calorie-restricted diets stop feeling excess hunger after several days, so be patient with yourself. Eventually, the amazing machine that is your body will become acclimated to what you are doing, and will thrive on the fuel you are giving it. In the interim, utilize these low-calorie snacks and avoid the growling in your tummy. It may not be as filling as some slices of Domino's Pizza®, but you will feel much better about yourself in the morning.
*Source: Florida State University, Program in Neuroscience, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, 237 Biomedical Research Facility, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4340, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 16th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!
Test Your Glycemic Index IQ!By Monica Nuñez
The glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates according to how they affect our blood glucose levels. Carbs rated low on the GI produce only small changes in our blood glucose and insulin levels. Carbs rated 55 and under are categorized low GI, carbs rated 56 to 69 are categorized medium GI, and carbs rated 70 and above are categorized high GI. A doughnut, for example, has a high rating of 76. And apples have a low rating of 38. GI is just one indicator for a food's nutritional profile. Just because something is ranked high or low doesn't make it good or bad. There are times when high GI foods are preferable (playing sports, for instance) and times when low GI foods are better (any time you're not active). Match the following foods with their corresponding GI ranking.
- Dates: 103. Dates are ranked high on the GI.
- Jelly beans: 80. Jelly beans are ranked high on the GI.
- Angel cake: 67. Angel cake is ranked medium on the GI.
- Orange juice: 52. Orange juice is ranked low on the GI.
- Peanuts: 15. Peanuts are ranked low on the GI.
- Snickers® bar: 40. A Snickers bar is ranked low on the GI.
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