Pumpkin is the New Bran

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My clients and I are gearing up for Eating Clean in 2014, a three-week program, beginning the first Monday in January – tomorrow! Lately, nutrition has been more in our conversation than training. I reminded them (and me) of the importance of fiber in weight management, and general good health.

When you track your nutrition, you quickly realize you’ll need to make a conscious effort to get the 25 – 35 grams of fiber per day recommended by most nutritional guidelines. I find the very best way to make sure I’m getting enough fiber is to be sure I get enough at breakfast. Somehow, when breakfast is in line, all the other meals seem to follow.

A great source of important nutrients, including soluble and insoluble fiber, comes from pumpkin. One half-cup of canned pumpkin provides 5 grams of fiber in a total of 9 grams of carbohydrates. Half of these 5 grams of fiber is soluble fiber, which absorbs water and contributes to a feeling of fullness for several hours after eating, in addition to aiding digestion and reducing blood sugar levels. We haven’t even talked about the beta-carotene, vitamin A, magnesium, and other nutrients in that half-cup of canned pumpkin, packed in 40 calories. Wow!

If you have a smoothie in the morning, you’ll hardly notice a half-cup of pumpkin thrown in. The taste and texture are easily disguised by most ingredients. If you use one-third of a 15 oz. can, the rest can be frozen in two portions.

Here’s a recipe I’ve used that I love, found on http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/8-great-pumpkin-recipes.html

Coconut – Pumpkin Ice Cream:

  • 1/2 cup Low-fat Cottage Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Low-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup Skim Milk
  • 3-5 drops Stevia
  • 1/2 cup Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1 tbsp Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Place mixture in a covered container in the freezer. Stir every half hour until desired consistency is reached.

Pumpkin is a thickener that can substitute in many recipes. Check for recipes using it in soups, tomato sauces, and desserts for a much healthier alternative to creams and oils.

Eating Clean in 2014!!!!

ImageSince I make my living through fitness, you might think I have this nutrition and weight maintenance thing permanently under control. I wish that were the case, but, I always have five pounds, more or less, to take off after the holidays. I have to take care of this quickly, because I can’t expect my clients to believe in me unless I walk the talk, right? So, I’ve developed a three-week clean eating program for myself that I’ve used for several years. Now, I have my clients join me in this three-week detox/jumpstart, so we can all get back on track after the excess.

There are several reasons this works. First, we’re all in this together! When you’re feeling deprived, you can think about everyone else doing this with you. We’ll keep each other on track.

Second, it’s very effective to jumpstart fat loss by losing all the excess water/salt weight. You really don’t know where you’re at, weight-wise, until you get through at least a week without excess sugar, salt, simple carbohydrates, and alcohol. That’s probably five pounds right there!

Finally, losing those first few pounds will get us going on some real fat loss. There’s nothing quite as motivating as success, is there?

The first step to prepare for this program is to get comfortable tracking your nutrition. Register on a food tracking website. My favorite, which I mentioned in another blog, is http://www.sparkpeople.com. Many of my clients use http://www.myfitnesspal.com. Either is fine, and both of them are free to use online. If you’re not used to one or the other, you should check both for added features before you commit. For instance, myfitnesspal.com works with Withing’s body composition scales, and sparkpeople.com works with FitBit.

The next step is to stock up on clean food, and getting rid of anything that is going to push you off the wagon. Throw out that leftover eggnog. Get rid of that peppermint bark!

The guidelines:

No added sugar
No wheat products – pasta, bread, etc.
No alcohol
No coffee
Avoid artificial sweetener

Choose whole, healthy foods and snacks
Plan all meals and snacks
Stay within my calorie range, and maintain a good protein/carb/fat ratio daily

I promise that if you follow these broadly stroked guidelines, you will feel a difference in your body in three weeks. We’re going to re-up every three weeks. More details to follow tomorrow!

Five Different (not the usual!) Ways to Maintain Your Fitness During the Holidays

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Yes, it’s that time again! The holiday onslaught of food overindulgence begins this week.   If you’re like us, a big concern is how to get through the next month without gaining weight. Here are our five big tips for keeping hard-earned fitness gains maintained until next year:

1. Eat Clean In-Between – What does this mean? Eat impeccably well at every meal and snack when you’re not at a dinner or party. So, don’t allow a lunchtime work party to give you an excuse to overindulge at dinner, too.

Party in the evening? Plan for it all day. Drink plenty of water, consider eating zero carbs until the party, and for heaven’s sake, don’t show up ravenous! My strategy is to eat a bunch of carrot and celery sticks with a little dressing before I go. It keeps the alcohol from going straight to my head, and I can keep from sidling up to the trays and grazing all night. I taste only what truly tempts me, rather than using high-calorie hors d’oeuvres and sweets as a meal.

Eating clean includes when you’re cooking and tasting. If you’ve got to taste, include it in the food for the day. Don’t taste batters unless it’s absolutely necessary. I could eat a bowl of cake batter, so I don’t allow ANY across my lips.  

2. Work Out before you Pig Out – Particularly for Thanksgiving, you can find all sorts of single-day promotional events at fitness studios where you live. Even if you normally work out solo, attending a class that one day can be motivational.

There are two reasons this works: one, your metabolic rate is raised a bit for the day, and two, you might just think twice before you get that second helping of dressing, since you worked so hard just a few hours before. This leads me to number three…

3. Morning Workouts Prevent Night Before Overindulgence – Schedule a workout of some sort the next morning after the big day. This not only prevents you from eating badly way into the evening, but, it gets you right back on track the next morning.

Everyone’s experienced the next-day sluggishness caused by too much rich food the day before. This can put you on a downward spiral of bad eating for days. Avoid this by being accountable to a trainer or a workout partner the next day after the holiday.

Ugghhh! – I’ve suffered through teaching group fitness classes when I experienced nausea or other gastric distress from food overindulgence the day before. I had to keep going, so my brain almost won’t allow me to go crazy at a 9 pm leftover feast. Try this a few times, and see how your body will help you avoid this discomfort again.

4. Strive to Maintain, Not Attain – Let’s face it; almost no one is making fitness or weight loss achievements during the holidays. Your goal should only be not to lose ground during the next month. Know where you are before the holidays really start in earnest, and resolve to maintain until the new year.

If your waist or hip measurement is the big concern, get that measurement today. If total body weight is your focus, weigh yourself today, and weigh every few days. Just  be careful not to let a salt weight gain alarm you. Drink your water, and eat clean until the next party.

Don’t let the numbers affect you beyond what they are: a measurement you want to maintain so you don’t have to make up ground at the start of the new year.

5. No Guilt Hangovers; Enjoy the Party! – If you do all you can to eat well and get your training sessions in during the rest of the season, you’re doing all you can! Don’t have a shame session over your overindulgence at a single event. We all know this doesn’t help moving forward. So, do your best the rest of the month, and enjoy all the festivities when you’re there. Happy Holidays!!!