Stay slim this holiday season

Source: Pinterest

When it comes to healthy living, December is the month that separates the women from the girls.  This is the month when even the strongest dieters are tempted again and again.  It is the month when women go to parties and are confronted with not one, but ten food items they'd love to wolf down in one sitting.  It is the month when parties, concerts, and shopping disrupt our traditional dates with treadmills and dumbbells.

What to do?  Have a plan so you don't lose sight of your healthy goals amid the yuletide cheer.  Here's how to be the savvy woman who navigates December parties with good cheer, revelry, and an unpadded waistline:

Prepare for cocktail parties mentally:

  1. Work out as much as you can, knowing that you will have to miss some sweat sessions.  Make an extra effort, though, to get some exercise on the days you plan to attend parties.  Doing so will keep your fitness goals top of mind.  It also sets a healthy tone for the day, which can be useful when surrounded by temptation.
  2. If you are going to a casual party, wear your favorite skinny jeans.  For a fancy cocktail party, wear the sleek fitting little black dress that shows off your figure.  Wearing slim fitting apparel makes you body conscious.  In turn, it makes you pause before parking yourself by the table of hors d'oeuvres and noshing on pigs in blankets.

Navigate the cocktail party:

  1. Drink plenty of water.  Drinking water is a great diet trick any savvy woman ought to employ.  Staying hydrated keeps you feeling full, ensuring that you don't confuse hunger and thirst cues.
  2. Suss out high-protein, high-fiber food options at cocktail parties.  Go for the shrimp, smoked salmon, naked vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  These foods will fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied.
  3. Indulge.  You are at a holiday party, and you should enjoy yourself.  Remember it is important to indulge from time to time, as this gives you the willpower to maintain a healthy diet not just for a few weeks or months, but for a lifetime.
  4. Each wonderful calorie you take in should be worth it.  Go ahead and try the gooey brie-covered date, but if that date is not divine, don't finish it.  Instead, discreetly wrap it in a cocktail napkin and dispose of it.  On to the next treat!
Share the love:
  1. Go ahead and make your favorite sugar cookies.  Simply keep a small number and give the rest away as gifts.  You can wrap them in pretty cellophane held together with a beautiful bow.
  2. Can't celebrate Christmas without fudge or your favorite spinach and artichoke dip?  Make a batch and take the rest to a party or an ailing neighbor.  Not only will you save calories, but you can feel good about spreading holiday cheer.
And, of course, don't lose sense of the bigger picture.  A binge one night won't ruin your diet unless you let it.  So you overindulged.  Your human.  Get back on track tomorrow.

Now go enjoy the season! 


Fat makes you stupid

Source: piccsy

If you need another reason to stay fit and keep your weight under control, here's a compelling one: fat makes you stupid.  

According to research conducted by Daniel Amen MD, a neuropsychiatrist who wrote The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep it Off, overweight people have less brain volume than those who enjoy a healthy weight.    Moreover, in the course of his studies, Amen found the brains of overweight people look an average of eight years older than the brains of people who have healthy BMI scores.  Obese people, whose BMIs are over 30, have brains that look 16 years older than their healthy counterparts.  

Fat, says Amen, produces inflammation that damages the brain.  In particular, it damages the frontal lobes which drive decision making activities.  This inflammation also leaves overweight people at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.  

No one wants to lose brain power.  Boost that IQ by taking care of your body.  Move it and feed it well.  Today.  


Easy diet tricks: ice water

Source: Yelena Strokin

Who would've known.  Water is proving to be an important ally in battling the bulge.  Not only can a well hydrated body resist food temptation because it doesn't mistake thirst for hunger, but researchers say drinking the liquid cold can boost your metabolism.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity shows drinking cold water significantly increases the calories the body expends to maintain normal body functions while it is at rest.  Moreover, people who take in less water are more likely to be obese, and dieters who don't drink water have more difficulty losing weight.
Break out those ice cube trays, ladies.  This is an easy diet trick to add to your arsenal.


Yogurt-dipped banana pops

It happened last week.  As I stood in the aisle of Giant Eagle, surrounded by hundreds of food items I could not use to make a snack for my daughter's preschool class, I developed an intense hatred for food allergies.

No, my daughter doesn't have allergies.  But because of the prevalence of nut allergies among our children, her school is nut-free.  Add a classmate's dairy allergy, an edict to make only healthy foods, and a goal of preparing the snack with the children to the mix and you have a snack enigma: what can you make?

No doubt you've encountered such issues if you have a young child.  It is a headache, to say the least.  But when you overcome the obstacles, you can walk the halls of your preschool with your head held high, because you have conquered the near impossible: delivering a snack that is allergen-free (from multiple angles), and passed the lips of quirky preschoolers whose palates are, to be sure, entirely unpredictable and maddeningly inconsistent.

Here's my free pass to you: try yogurt-dipped frozen banana pops.  Banana pops are fun and easy to make, and my daughter's classmates devoured them.  Enough said.

Yogurt-dipped banana pops:

  1. Peel bananas
  2. Cut each banana in half
  3. Insert popsicle sticks into center of each banana
  4. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper, place bananas on paper and cover.  Freeze overnight
  5. Take to school:  bananas, a large container of vanilla yogurt (soy), nut-free granola, and a plate 
  6. Spread granola out on plate
  7. Write each child's name on the popsicle sticks. 
  8. Have children dip their bananas in the yogurt
  9. After dipping, ask each child to roll his banana in the granola
  10. Return bananas to tray and re-freeze for about 15 minutes


Are you wasting money on vitamins?

Source: Voorbeeldvan

$28 billion down the drain?   The Nutrition Business Journal reports the dietary supplement industry had $28 billion in sales last year, but researchers say the money spent was money wasted for the average, healthy person.

If you grew up on Flintstones vitamins and continue to pop a multivitamin to ensure your body receives the proper nutrients, you may want to review your health strategy.  Recent studies highlight cases where taking supplements ranging from multivitamins to vitamin E and calcium do more harm than good.  Taking calcium supplements can cause your arteries to harden, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.  Popping vitamin E may increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

And the trusted multivitamin?  Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that taking multivitamins results in earlier death.

What to do?  It's back to basics, gals.  Don't be lazy when it comes to your diet, because relying on a vitamin to fill in the holes is not the answer.  Experts have always agreed that the best way to get nutrients is through a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.  For better health, eat your spinach, and get your child to eat his, too.
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