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Archive for January, 2015

An Easy Detox for the New Year

Friday, January 16th, 2015

With all the emphasis on clean eating, let’s talk about an easy detox for the New Year that any of us can do. Many people use the yearly calendar change to set goals. Many of these are centered around weight loss. By the middle of January, frustration begins to set in. Once you’ve blown your diet, don’t give up. Just try a different approach.

First of all, you’ve got to break the sugar cycle. Personally, I don’t even like sugary snacks however, I am addicted to them. Once I eat a little, I eat a lot at regular intervals throughout the day. If you are anything like me, the key is simply to avoid sugar all together versus use the moderation method. Sugar stimulates cravings which cause consumption which cause more cravings. Got that? If you can avoid sugar for three full days, I promise you that your cravings will improve and settle down. Three days! That isn’t an eternity. Once you can make it three days with no sugar, check your alcohol consumption. Mine almost always goes up. That nightly gin and tonic you’ve been drinking more for the sugar than anything? Switch to something with less sugar and calories or eliminate it all together. As long as you can keep it in very good control, I don’t think a couple glasses of wine a week will kill you or cause you to gain weight. Note that I said a couple glasses NOT bottles. That will definitely pack on the lbs.

Once you deal with the sugar cravings, now it is time to deal with the salt. Most people find that with the sugar under control, salt cravings are more manageable. I am a popcorn-a-holic. There is nothing I enjoy more than a bag of artificially flavored popcorn. A bag of it makes my day! At this point in our detox, it is time to get rid of the salty snacks for a few weeks. Again, the whole point of this detox is to get your cravings under control so they don’t drive you and you can make good choices. On top of this, once you break the salt/sugar cycle, real food tastes good. If you don’t believe me, head off to the grocery store and smell a grapefruit. It’s hard to crave the natural flavors of grapefruit when you pollute yourself with straight corn syrup several times a day.

Now that the sugar and salt cravings are out of your system or at least manageable, let’s get to the hard part. For me, that involves adding in a lot more salads, soups and veggies and decreasing the bread. I would still recommend bread over sugar snacks. A loaf of bread used to be my favorite snack however middle aged ladies like myself simply can’t eat so much bread anymore. Also, bread cravings are just sugar cravings in disguise so if you are really looking to tame the beast, you have to handle these too.

Once you have the cravings under control, if you are trying to drop a few pounds you won’t feel like you are tormenting yourself as you try to reduce your portions and eat more healthfully. If you can load up your meals with fruits and vegetables, lean meats and a bit of whole grains and an even smaller portion of dairy, you will be well on your way to meeting your health goals and getting your eating under control.

Slow and steady wins the race every time versus crazy crash diets.

Fun ideas for winter fitness

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Fun ideas for winter fitness abound in this part of the country. While I am not a advocate of “New Years Resolutions”, this is the time where people start to develop cabin fever. Though I am not exactly sure that I would consider myself a “winter enthusiast” my friends would tell you, that regardless of the time of year, I can find fun ways to keep myself fit outside during the winter.

My favorite fun idea for winter fitness is simply hiking in different areas each week with friends and my big furry dog. Every weekend one of my friends chooses a local county or state park and we go for a couple hours. We’ve hiked in soaking rain, ice storms, negative temps with crazy wind chills and snow storms. It is that brief bit of exercise, outdoors, nature and sanity that I need to get me through the week. Not only do I get nature time, I get to catch up with my friends, burn a bunch of calories and the dog gets some exercise. Win, Win Win!

Secondly, speaking of fun ideas for winter fitness, this one is the bomb. Fat biking is sweeping the nation. While I wouldn’t take my fat tire bike out today when it is 10 degrees with 20 mph winds. On a nice 20 degree day when I am feeling cooped up, I head out to the trail near my house and put in five miles. Five miles seems like a pretty wimpy ride until you do it on snow and ice and cold. For me, it’s perfect. While fat bikes are definitely an investment, I bought a Minnesota 2.0 for half the cost of a Surly. If you aren’t ready to make the leap, purchase a set of studded tires for your mountain bike and see if winter riding is for you.

Third, snowshoeing has got to be my favorite activity for winter fitness. You burn a tremendous amount of calories and there is nothing more beautiful than a big snow. (If you aren’t driving) It’s a great way to get out an explore a marshy or wooded area and since you go slow, you see everything.

Cross country skiing, my nemesis. Cross country skiing and I have a love/hate relationship. I have taken a beginner skate skiing class from Gear West for the last five years. It took four years for me to graduate from the beginner class. While some people are naturals with the form, I am not. The good news is that when I get frustrated with my cross country skis, I can switch to my classic skis and just walk/glide. While I might not have the form for racing, again, it is beautiful and a great workout. (Especially with as hard as I struggle at it!)

The bottom line for any of these activities is that they are just like going to the gym; the hardest part is simply getting yourself there. I would highly encourage anyone looking for fun ideas for winter fitness to build time into their schedule each week to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Your body and mind will thank you. Depression and simple bad moods increase when sunlight and exercise decrease. Combat your winter blues and get outside, take a nature break and see how much better you feel!

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