Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Why all the Fuss About Water?



We talk a lot about protein, carbs, and fat but we tend to forget about how important water is to your body.  Water makes up 55-75% of your weight and plays a role in all functions of your body everyday.  Water plays a role in every cell, organ and system. It makes up all body fluids, acts as a lubricant and protectant, aids in digestion and elimination of waste and water also regulates body temperature.

Now that we know how important water is to us- how much should we drink?  Conventional wisdom says (8)- 8 oz glasses a day but that is just a guideline.  A better way:  What is your weight?  Divide that by 2.  The answer is how many ounces  of fluid you should take in each day.  So- if you are 120 lb you should drink 60 oz, if you are 250 lb you should drink 125 oz.  This makes much more sense that a one size fits all number. This also varies by age (seniors need more water), and by level of activity.  If you are doing strenuous work or working out you will want to increase your intake.

What counts as fluids? 

While most of your fluid needs should be met by drinking water, it is available from other beverages, soups and even foods. Skim milk, 100% fruit juice, and decaffeinated teas are mostly water, so go ahead and count them toward your daily goal. Fruits and vegetables also contain a fair amount of water.

We are very fortunate to always have access to drinkable water.

Bottled or tap?

For the most part, whether you drink bottled or tap water is a matter of taste. Drink what you like but keep these tips in mind:

• Fluoride: Most municipal tap water is fluoridated.If you rely solely on bottled water, check the label to see if it contains fluoride. If not, discuss fluoride supplementation with your dentist.

• Sodium: Municipal tap water is usually relatively low in sodium. Water treated with a home water softener can have higher levels of sodium.

Healthy Water Habits:

Start the morning off right by drinking a glass ofwater as soon as you wake up (before coffee!).

• Carry a water bottle wherever you go so youare not tempted to grab sodas and other sugared beverages.

• Switch to sugar-free coffee, tea, or sodas. Caffeine free is also a good idea.

• Order water with lemon at restaurants.

• Drink a glass of water before each meal or snack

• If you’re at home, keep a half-gallon of water in the refrigerator.

Good habits start young! Water is a much better choice than juice or soda




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Don’t Drink Your Calories!


Losing weight is all about calories in and calories out.  The more you eat or drink, the more you need to burn by moving around.  If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories that you take in.  It sounds pretty simple but simply starving yourself isn’t going to work- we’ll get into that in another post.  One really easy way to stop taking in so many calories is to quit drinking them.  There are lots of beverages that are calorie bombs and can really pack on the pounds.  Your body doesn’t recognize liquids as food so you are still hungry even after taking in 243 calories by drinking a 20 oz Coke.  I know several people who started their weight loss journey just by paying attention to what they drink.  Here are a few tips:

Plain black coffee in moderation can be good for you!

1. Make better coffee choices.

Some beverages pack as many calories as a meal!  Watch out for options that are high in fat and sugar.  While plain black coffee has no calories, adding just a bit of cream and sugar can add 135 calories or more. A grande caffe latte with non-fat milk is 168 calories and 4 tsp. of sugar.

2.  Choose whole fruit instead of smoothies or juice.

While most blended drinks do contain fruit, they also often include frozen yogurt, sherbet, cream, and/or added sugar, all of which add calories. Smoothies can be a great breakfast or snack, but leave out the added stuff.  Fruit and ice, maybe a splash of juice are all you need.  Or- search for my green smoothie post for more healthy low-calorie recipes.

3.  Limit sodas or choose diet soda.

Super-sized or extra-large beverages may be a bargain per ounce, but they are a disaster for your waistline.  Did you know that a ‘child-sized’ soda in a fast food restaurant contains the same amount of liquid as a 12-ounce can? That’s 146 calories with NO nutritional value.  I have a co-worker who dropped over 50 pounds by eliminating all sugar soda from his diet.  He was amazed at how much better he felt without all that sugar in his system.


For even fewer calories and more calcium- try almond milk


4.  Drink skim milk instead of whole milk.

An eight-ounce serving of whole milk contains 160 calories.  The same-size serving of skim milk contains just half as many calories!  In general, go for the low fat/non fat option for all dairy products.

Calories in a bottle!

5. What about alcohol?

If you are trying to lose weight, avoid it completely.  If that is not an option, try a light beer (I like Bud Light 55) or a wine spritzer. Keep this in mind- 1 shot of 80 proof vodka, rum, gin, or whisky has 97 calories and metabolizes directly to fat.  While research does show that a glass (6 oz) of red wine has some great health benefits, it also has 150 calories so moderation is the key.

6.  Make the best choices every day.

Stock the fridge with grab-and-go bottles of water and low-calorie beverages.  Having the right foods and beverages on hand is key to controlling your calories.  This helps keep you from making a bad ‘on the run’ choice when away from home.

The best choice? Water!

Coming up tomorrow-Water, water everywhere!

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New Cardio Workouts Review

Yesterday I posted some new non-gym, non machine cardio workouts that  I found in Men’s Health magazine.  Today I tried them and wow- I do believe they kicked my butt!

I started with the 55 workout which is 1 deep squat then 9 pushups, 2 deep squats then 8 pushups, etc. working your way to 9 deep squats and 1 push up.  I tried to do regular push ups but I have to admit my knees hit the floor a few times.  This is a great way to combine both cardio and strength.

On to the Jumping Jack Pyramid.  This one will really get your heart pumping but I did make a few adjustments.  The basic routine:

10 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 10 seconds of rest.  20 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 20 seconds of rest.  30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of rest.  20 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 20 seconds of rest, etc.  Do 3 sets up and down the pyramid.

This is a great cardio workout but after I finished 30 seconds of jumping jacks my heart was pounding so  I didn’t want to stop and rest.  Instead, I marched in place for 30 seconds.  Suddenly stopping when your heart is pounding can cause venous blood pooling which can lead to light-headedness or fainting.

With this modification of moving moderately instead of resting,  I did 3 sets up and down. I have to say this was a great cardio workout and a nice change of pace from the treadmill or bike.  This is a no excuses workout- you can do it at home, you don’t need much space and no equipment needed.  Try it!

Get sweaty and stay hydrated!

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Some Interesting New Cardio Workouts

It is recommended that adults get 30 minutes of aerobic (cardio) activity at least 5 days a week to maintain heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and burn calories. This does not mean a stroll around the block, you need to get your heart pumping!

I teach cycling 3 days a week which would seem like enough cardio but I don’t work at my full potential when I’m teaching so I need more.  I tend to hit the treadmill but that can get boring and the elliptical doesn’t give me enough weight-bearing exercise.  (Cyclists tend to have weak hips because the seat does most of the work!)

Hurray for Men’s Health- they came up with some great new cardio routines- no equipment and not much space needed, these can easily be done at home.

The “55” workout Start by doing one body-weight squat and 10 pushups. Rest for 30 seconds, and then do 2 squats and 9 pushups. Gradually work your way up to 10 squats and down to 1 pushup. You’ll complete 55 reps of each exercise by the time you’re done—and reap both the cardiovascular benefit of aerobic training and the muscular pump of a strength session.

Jumping-jack pyramid Do as many jumping jacks as you can in 10 seconds. Rest for an equal amount of time. Next, do as many jumping jacks as you can in 20 seconds, and rest 20 seconds. Then do 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of rest. Now work your way back down the pyramid (30, 20, 10). Repeat three times.

We did jumping jacks in my strength class last week-this old gym class favorite really gets your heart pumping.  You will also notice your core working and you might have some sore calves later in the day.  We also did old-fashioned toe touches- yikes!  Everyone had sore hamstrings the next day.  Sometimes the simple moves are still the most effective.  I’m going to try the Jumping Jack pyramid tomorrow-I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you have a favorite cardio routine to help bust the boredom?  Please pass it along!

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Smoothies….Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the Raw Food way of eating and gave some tips for the green smoothie.  I recently found some more combinations to throw in the blender with your greens.

If you need help with digestion add papaya.

Blood pressure reducers- orange and banana

Healthy heart- carrot, apple, grape

Stress reducer- apple, celery

Hangover helper- ginger, apple, carrot, lemon

Blood booster- carrot, beet, spinach

Blemish buster- carrot, green pepper

Colon cleanser- apple, lemon, spinach

Refresher- melon, apple, pineapple

Cancer prevention- beet, tomato, carrot

Disclaimer: if you have specific medical needs, see your doctor but adding the green smoothie might just keep the doctor visits few and far between!


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Eat it Raw!

This post was first published in June but a friend recently asked for my green smoothie recipe so I thought I would share, this is part 1 of 2. Tomorrow you will find out more about great stuff that you can put in a blender.  (no- it doesn’t include tequila or rum!)
Daughter Rachel and I along with the Festival Foods Registered Dietitian, Stephanie, recently attended a Raw Food Class at a local clinic.  I run into people in the store who eat only raw food and it always seemed interesting to me so I wanted to learn more.  I also need to eat more veggies and hoped this would give me some ways to do that.  I was a little concerned when we were given a disclaimer that the Clinic/hospital does not endorse this way of eating, but in reading further, they do not approve of raw milk.  Raw milk (unpasteurized) is very controversial and is illegal to sell in Wisconsin but they did not discuss it in this class.
What is a Raw Food Diet and Why do it?
 On the raw food diet, you never eat anything that has been heated above 118 degrees.  Cooking is thought to denature the enzymes naturally present in food. According to the instructor, enzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest food and absorb nutrients. If we over consume cooked food, our bodies are forced to work harder by producing more enzymes. Over time, a lack of enzymes from food is thought to lead to digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, accelerated aging, and weight gain.  It seems to make sense but there are also some drawbacks.

One of the main concerns people have with the raw food diet is the risk of nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. For example, one study found that people on raw food diets have higher levels of homocysteine and lower HDL cholesterol levels, due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Both are risk factors for heart disease. Supplementing with a multivitamin may help prevent nutritional deficiencies. Eating a variety of foods may also help.

If you decide to try it, you should ease into the program, maybe 50% raw food to start and find a balance.  Our instructor was not completely “raw” but it is a big portion of her diet.  To me, it looks like alot of work but I will incorporate a few things and have already started on the Green Smoothies.  I am not a big green vegetable eater so when they brought out the samples I was a little scared.  But, I have to admit, it was really good and now I have been making these at home. 

DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT a fan of most vegetables, particularly those that are dark green.  If I can drink this (and enjoy it)  you can too.

There are lots of great reasons to give the Green Smoothie a try, too numerous to mention here, but it is helping me get my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and has curbed my need for sugar.  I have one after a workout and then after work instead of eating chips, marshmallows, or anything else I could get my hands on!  One blender full makes about 4 servings, keep leftovers covered in the frig for no more than 2 days. 

So far I have tried:
1 bunch Kale
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
1 cup strawberries, washed with stems on
1 cup water
BLEND until desired consistency.  Yes- it is GREEN but trust me, it is better than it looks.

Another one that I like:
4 peaches, pitted
2 handfuls of spinach leaves
 1 cup water

If you would like more recipes or to find out more about the Green Smoothie, click HERE. And, yes, it really is THIS green.  Trust me, it tastes great. 

All in all, this was a very interesting class and a new way of thinking about how we prepare our food and how it affects our body and health.  I don’t think I will ever go completely raw or vegetarian, but the smoothies are a good way to make some changes.
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Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day!

Wow- there really is a day for everything!  I wish this was milk chocolate with almonds day but probably best that it isn’t as I am still trying to work off my Halloween splurge. 

Healthy- but full of calories. Only one handful, please!

I’m not a fan of bittersweet chocolate, nor am I a fan of coffee or red wine- 3 bitter tasting items that are actually good for you in moderation.   Did you know that chocolate is a vegetable? Yep- it is made from cocoa beans which puts it in the veggie category but I don’t think you can count it as one of your 5 servings a day. 

Bittersweet chocolate is a sweetened form of dark chocolate that does not contain milk in either liquid or dry form.  Bittersweet chocolate is essentially a mixture of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, and sometimes vanilla.  Recent studies have revealed certain health benefits  from the regular consumption of small quantities of bittersweet chocolate.  Due to its high cocoa content, dark chocolate is a good source of certain flavonoids — namely epicatechin and gallic acid — that may be protective for the heart.

The almond is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia.  Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated see of this tree.  The fruit of the almond is not a true nut, but the drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed inside.  Almonds are known to have health benefits including relief from constipation, respiratory disorders, cough, hear disorders, anemia, impotency, and diabetes.  It also helps in hair care, skin care, and dental care. Who knew almonds took care of so many ailments? 

 Dumb fact:  One of my cats is named Lucy Almond, I don’t know why Almond is her middle name! 

Since both bittersweet chocolate and almonds have some good health benefits, today might be a good time to try it.  I mean, it IS a national holiday! 

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Darnit- the McRib is Back!

All of us have some guilty pleasures- one of mine is the Mc Rib from Mc Donalds.  Just when I think it will no longer tempt me, I see this:

Agggh…. I have been trying to stay away but that tasty meat (?),  pickle, and onion sandwich is calling out to me.  In an effort to convince myself that I don’t want one, I looked up the nutritional information…read it and weep

450 Calories, of which 216 are from fat.
24 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are saturated.
890 mg of Sodium.
2 grams of fiber.
24 grams of protein.

In terms of calories and fat, it isn’t as bad as the Big Mac which boasts 540 calories and 29 grams of fat, but this is still pretty bad as sandwiches go.  33% of the fat is saturated and 890 mg of sodium is 33% of your quota for the whole day. 

And….who can go to McDonalds and not have fries?  Not me!  Even a small fry has 230 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 160 mg of sodium.  Yikes! 

I think I have to plan my day around not driving past a Mc Donald’s until that darn Mc Rib goes away.

I'm not the only one with a Mc Rib Fetish!


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