August ~ 31 Day Water Challenge

Water. I know I don’t drink enough of it. So I figured this would be the best monthly challenge to get back in the groove of things. For the next 31 days the challenge is simple. Drink water ~ eight ounces, eight glasses per day. 
Comment or share this post if you’re in on the challenge. It’s summertime here in Connecticut and the weathers been hot, so drinking water should be no problem!

Week One…Complete

Well. Week one. Always the hardest when you’re making a change. Especially when you’re a foodie like myself and when I say foodie, I mean junk foodie. Guilty. I’ve been drinking more water, moving more and watching my portion sizes. Tough to do when you’ve been on a food free-for-all for the last month.  So after making just the one small change of being accountable for what I eat and sharing it with all of you, I lost 3.2lbs this week. I’m very excited and having such a great first week definitely gives me the motivation to keep going. 

I started a WW Active Link Challenge this week as well. This way I can get a clear picture of what my current activity level is and how to add more activity in. I can’t even wrap my head around fitting time in for exercise right now, BUT, if I want to be successful I will need to find time.

Today also marks the beginning of a new month and I’ll be starting a new challenge for the blog as well. I’m doing a 31 Day August Water Challenge. I need to drink more water. Plain and simple. This water challenge couldn’t be any easier. No squats required on this one. Join me, I’d love the support!

30 Foods That Fight Fat

We all know our bodies need calcium for bones, vitamin C to fend off colds, and chocolate to save relationships. But when it comes to losing weight, the nutritional information is a little more confusing. The mighty trilogy of nutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat – garners most of the diet industry’s attention, but it’s becoming much more clear that fiber needs to be the fourth leg of the dietary table. Study after study shows that not only does fiber help lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, and high blood pressure, but it also keeps you full and helps you decrease the total amount of calories you consume every day. Trouble is, most of us think that getting the recommended 30 grams of fiber a day means eating cereal that tastes like the box it comes in. But that’s not the case; you can sneak fiber into your diet anywhere.

At Breakfast: 

  • Drop a whole orange into the blender to flavor your morning smoothie. One peeled orange has nearly 3 g more fiber than even the pulpiest orange juice.
  • Fill your juice glass with nectar instead of a watery juice from concentrate. Nectar is apricot, peach, pear, or papaya juice, mixed with fiber-rich pulp. It packs more than 1 g of fiber per 8-ounce glass.
  • Heat up a bowl of oat bran instead of oatmeal; it has nearly 2 g more fiber. Add even more flavor and fiber by stirring in 1/4 cup of raisins or chopped dates before nuking it.
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed over your favorite cold cereal, or stir a few spoonfuls into a cup of yogurt. Two tablespoons equals close to an extra 2 g fiber.
  • Grab an Asian pear. Similar in taste to other pears, the red-colored Asian variety has an apple-like crispness and shape, and it delivers significantly more fiber – 4 g per pear.
  • Buy spreadable fiber, like almond butter, for your whole-wheat toast. Two tablespoons adds 2 g of fiber, along with a healthy dose of heart-protecting fats and vitamins like E.
  • Whip up a pack of hot-chocolate mix instead of that second cup of coffee. Most instant-cocoa mixes have as much as 3 g of fiber per cup.
  • Spice up your eggs. One-third of a cup of chopped onion and one clove of garlic will add 1 g of fiber to scrambled eggs. Or fold the eggs omelette-style over 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli for an additional 2 g.

At Lunch

  • Don’t like whole wheat? Make your sandwiches with rye bread. One slice has almost 2 g fiber – twice the amount found in white bread.
  • Opt for burritos instead of tacos. Flour tortillas have more fiber than taco shells. Even better, make the burrito whole wheat for still more fiber per serving. Now, order that burrito with meat and beans instead of meat alone. Half a cup of beans adds 6 g of fiber to your meal.
  • Stow some microwavable soup in your desk for when you need to work through lunch. Lentil, chili with beans, ham and bean, and black bean each have between 6 and 10 g of fiber per cup.
  • Shower your pizza with oregano or basil. A teaspoon of either spice adds 1 g of fiber. Order it with mushrooms and you’ll get 1 g more.
  • Build your burger with a sesame-seed bun instead of the plain variety. Sesame seeds add 1/2 g of fiber per burger.
  • Order your dog with sauerkraut. Every 1/4 cup you pile on adds close to 1 g of fiber to your frank.

In the Afternoon:

  • Drink bottled chocolate milk, not white. The combination of the chocolate and the compounds needed to keep it suspended in the milk provides 1.5 g of fiber in every 8 ounces.
  • Pop a pack of light popcorn instead of popping open a bag of potato chips. There’s 8 g of fiber in every bag of popcorn.
  • Have a low-sodium V8 and its 2 g of fiber. The V8 that comes spiked with salt has half that amount.
  • Graze on trail mix instead of a granola bar. Most granola bars have only 1 g of fiber, while trail mix with dried fruit has nearly 3 g.

At Dinner:

  • Toss 1/2 cup of chickpeas into a pot of your favorite soup. They’ll absorb the flavor of the soup and tack 6 g of fiber onto your bottom line.
  • Swap a sweet potato for your standard spud. Sweet potatoes have 2 g more fiber per tuber than the typical Idaho variety. Not a fan? At least eat the skin of the regular potato – it alone has 1 g of fiber.
  • Go wild when you make rice. Cup for cup, wild rice has three times the fiber of white.
  • Add some green to your red sauce. Doctor your favorite jarred pasta sauce with 1/2 cup of frozen chopped spinach. The spinach will take on the flavor of the sauce and pad your fiber count by more than 2 g.
  • Prepare whole-wheat or spinach pasta instead of the regular semolina kind. A cup of either has 5 g of fiber.
  • Cook broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, and you’ll take in 3 to 5 g of fiber per serving, as much as twice what you’ll get if you eat them raw. (Heat makes fiber more available.)
  • Use uncooked oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in your next meat loaf. Add 3/4 cup of oats per pound of ground meat, and you’ll boost the total fiber count to more than 8 g.

At Dessert:

  • Say nuts to candy bars. Bars with almonds, like Almond Joy and Alpine white chocolate with almonds, have about 2 g of fiber – almost twice the fiber content of bars without.
  • Top a bowl of ice cream with sliced fresh berries in lieu of syrup. One-half cup of raspberries provides 4 g of fiber; strawberries and blueberries pack half that amount.
  • Introduce your pie hole to a slice of apple, cherry, or berry pie, and you’ll add an extra 3 to 5 g of fiber. Cake doesn’t have nearly as much fiber.

Lose the Belly Fat

A new Harvard Medical School study of 50 premenopausal women suggests that excess belly fat can actually RAISE your risk of osteoporosis.  Extra weight was always thought to be a protector of your bones, well not anymore!  Researchers in the study measured both fat deposits (the amount of fat in women’s bones) and bone density.  What were the findings?
Women who carried fat on their hips had normal bone fat and bone density.  The ones with a little extra in the midsection had more bone marrow fat and lower bone density.  This puts those ladies at a higher risk for osteoporosis.  Doctors have known for a long time that extra belly fat can increase your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.  The same inflammatory effect that can up your risk for those diseases can also be linked to a decrease in bone density.

Straighten Up…

Good Posture = Confidence?  According to a study done by Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois that is the truth!  Check out these tips for keeping the slouch out of you day!
1. Spot check your stance every hour or so.  So what that means is make pretend you have a book on your head and sit up tall.  Pull in your belly button one inch toward your spine.  Imagine you are squeezing something between your shoulder blades.
2. Build your mid back muscles.  Weak back muscles (rhomboids) are one of the main reasons for hunching.  These muscles keep your should blades in place preventing hunching.  Try this move to get a strong and sexy back:
a. Lie face down on a mat with your arms by your side
b. Squeeze your shoulder blades together
c. Lift your chest and arms off the floor and hold for 2 seconds
d. Do 3 sets of 10 reps
3. Adjust your seat.  Watching TV?  Try sitting on a stability ball rather than the couch.  It encourages a straighter spine while watching your favorite shows!  Stuck at a desk all day, try the Seat Solution ($25 amazon.com), which positions your tush so you have to sit back rather than hunch forward.
Try these posture fixes and let your confidence soar!