Best Foods for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss

Photo credit: Public Domain

Trying to figure out which foods are best for losing weight can be a bit overwhelming. To keep it simple, try to select nutrient-dense foods whenever possible to help you feel more satiated, so you don’t get those unhealthy cravings throughout the day. Making healthy lifestyle changes takes time and patience, so don’t give up. Stay focused on your goals, and the reasons why you are making these changes in the first place. The best foods for weight loss listed below will give you a clearer picture as to the kinds of foods you should be eating on a regular basis to help you achieve lasting weight loss and better overall health.

Vegetables

Eating plenty of vegetables is absolutely essential for long-term weight loss. They are low in calories and fat, abundant in disease-fighting antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain many other essential vitamins and minerals that your body craves. Choose from a colorful array of veggies every day, such as spinach, cauliflower, kale, carrots and broccoli. Vegetables make a great snack, too. Before the hunger pangs strike, put together a variety of fresh cut veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, celery, red peppers and a homemade ranch dip. This way you’ll have a healthy and filling snack readily available. Another delicious, low-calorie veggie snack are baked kale chips. They are salty, crispy and make a great pre-dinner snack for the whole family. And baked zucchini chips are yummy too! Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try something new. You can find many vegetable recipes on the Internet, such as allrecipes.com, eatingwell.com, foodnetwork.com, myrecipes.com, and cookinglight.com.

Eggs

Eggs provide a rich source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, which offers satiety and keeps you feeling full. Another big plus is that eggs are low in calories. For instance, one hard-boiled egg contains only 78 calories and about 6g of protein, but keep in mind that frying or scrambling eggs increases the calorie content because of the extra butter or oil used for cooking. For additional appetite control, add your favorite high-fiber fruit or whole-wheat toast.

Fruit

Fruits are tasty and chock-full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and they don’t require preparation. Include a colorful variety of fruits so you get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, but don’t overdo it. Even though fruit is very good for you, portion size and calories still count. The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on age, sex, and the amount of exercise you get on a daily basis. Fruits that are abundant in soluble fiber, such as berries, apricots and apples, make an ideal choice for appetite control. Soluble fiber helps to attract water and slow digestion, so not only does it make you feel full, but also has a cleansing effect on the body and keeps blood-sugar levels in check by delaying the absorption of sugar.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an excellent weight loss food, because it’s low-fat, low-calorie and loaded with soluble fiber to help control your appetite by making you feel full longer. One serving of oatmeal contains only 150 calories, so as long as you don’t add things like cinnamon sugar or butter, it’s the perfect low-calorie breakfast. For a nutritional boost, add a chopped apple and pinch of ground cinnamon that tastes like apple crisp on a chilly morning, or add a handful of blueberries for extra fiber, antioxidants and brain power.

Nuts and Seeds

Even though nuts and seeds are energy dense and rich in fats, eating nuts is associated with lower body weight, improved insulin sensitivity and better health. Both of these foods are high in protein and fiber, making them a nutritious and filling snack option. For weight loss purposes, it’s best to choose raw, unsalted nuts. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are the lowest in calories, roughly 160 calories per ounce. Sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain about 150 to 180 calories per ounce. Some of the healthiest nuts and seeds include cashews, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds. All of these contain healthy fats, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and other important vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Just remember that nuts are high in calories and can easily wreck a weight loss plan if you don’t stick to the proper portion size, which is a small handful per day for most people.

Beachbody

Enjoy Exercising with 4 Simple Changes

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If you are like the majority of people, the mere thought of exercising is enough to have your mind make up all kinds of reasons why you should not, could not, and perhaps will not exercise. However, once you begin to exercise on a regular basis, you will be amazed at how exercise can transform the way you look, feel and think. The key is to make exercise fun and something that you look forward to doing.

Here are a few ideas to help you create a fitness routine that is interesting and enjoyable, so you can make it a lasting part of your life.

 

Find a Workout Partner

Often times we may view exercise regimens as solitary confinement – like a sentence we have to endure all on our own. Guaranteed you have a pal or co-worker who feels exactly the same way. The old adage that misery loves company would apply in this situation. However, once you get together with a friend to exercise and actually go to the gym or take that power walk or a Zumba class, you will begin to see how much fun it really is and begin to enjoy exercising.

Change Your Perception of Exercise

Only you have the ability to change how you perceive something. Only when you have associated positive thoughts and feelings with exercise will you begin to override the negative connotations with exercising. You will find that excuses, such as being tired or not having enough time, will be outweighed by feelings of accomplishment, such as recognition that you burned 500 calories that night or even the simple fact that you feel energized and were glad you went.

Focus on the positive results and feelings you get the first time you go to exercise and bring that feeling back up to the forefront of your mind the next time you are heading out to exercise.

Spice It Up!

Be creative with your exercise routines and regimens. You do not have to think about gigantic machinery that you are unfamiliar with or a gym full of strangers. Find something you love to do and incorporate that into exercise. For some, that is walking briskly and for others it is dancing your heart out. Dance is not only a creative outlet, it is also one that will burn hundreds of calories. Even if you are not a professional dancer, taking a swing class or a jazz class is only the beginning to discovering one of the secrets to enjoying exercise.

Make It a Date

If you leave exercising to a chance date or time, you will more than likely set yourself up for failure. Make a specific date and time for exercise, whether you go out to the gym or do it at home. Write in on your calendar, put it on your to do list and commit to it. After you are done, you will be glad you did.

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4 Healthy Habits to Help Manage Stress and Maintain Calm

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Stress, especially chronic stress, is an unhealthy disadvantage of living in this fast-paced, 24/7 world. We get so caught up in work, family, children’s activities, grocery store runs, and keeping the household running smoothly that we end up creating a daily routine of unhealthy habits. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. We have the ability to make better choices, beat the stress, and a live a life that allows us to breath and enjoy each minute. What are some healthy habits we can pick up that will help maintain a sense of calm and keep stress levels in check?

Get more sleep – This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many people don’t allow themselves a good night’s sleep. If you deprive yourself of this time of rest, you will begin to let stress creep in and issues that come along will seem bigger than they really are. Remember to let yourself unwind a little bit before going to sleep. This will prevent you from lying in bed thinking about the events of the day, and, in turn, not being able to fall asleep easily.

Meditation – Begin the day with a meditation session. It doesn’t have to be extremely long, but even 10 minutes of quiet and calm will make a world of difference on how the day unfolds. Wake up a half hour earlier and make time to get in touch with your goals for the day and what you hope to accomplish. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be bothered, and take advantage of that time to focus on breathing and just being in the moment.

Write it down – Writing down your thoughts for the day can help to rid your mind and body of unwanted stressors that bog you down. Getting it all out of your head and down on paper has a calming effect that makes any situation seem better. You can do this in the morning or when you are winding down during the evening hours. Just pick a time that feels comfortable for you and make it a daily routine.

Read a good book – Read one of your favorite, uplifting books to help calm your mind from a long, demanding day and to prepare you for a restful nights sleep. If you’re not into reading that much, you can always choose the audio version of the book and listen while you relax. You can also get up early in the morning and choose this time to read, if that is what fits your schedule.

There are numerous ways to maintain a set of healthy habits in your daily routine. If you can find a way to carve out a little quiet, relaxing “you” time on a daily basis, not only will you make daily stresses more manageable, but also improve your productivity, concentration and overall health. You just need to plan ahead and take action to make your life as calm and stress free as you want it to be. Find out what activities fit your family life and schedule, and then set some goals for everyone involved. Your whole family can benefit from this, and you will see a noticeable difference in the stress level all around.

Beachbody

 

5 Healthy Snacks to Fire Up Your Creative Juices

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Choosing the right kinds of snacks to eat during the day can be tricky. We are bombarded with the unhealthy, caffeine induced, sugary items each and every day, which makes them hard to avoid. It’s important to choose the right kinds of foods and snacks in order to maintain our health. Certain foods can help boost our brain power and get those creative juices flowing, especially when you need to rely on creativity and sharp thinking skills to get the job done. Here are a few snack ideas that will give your brain the fuel necessary to fire up your creative process.

Oatmeal – This healthy snack is an ideal way to start the day. Oatmeal is a superfood that gives your brain power a boost and promotes cardiovascular health. The soluble fiber, protein and healthy carbohydrates contained in oatmeal will sustain you and help you avoid snacking in between meals. Oatmeal also helps to fight cholesterol, and it’s a quick and easy snack that is perfect for any time of the day.

Blueberries – This is a powerful snack that can help protect the brain against oxidative stress, which in turn will enhance your brain activity and get those innovative juices flowing. Blueberries are extremely rich in antioxidants, which help to support the immune system and overall health. You can consume them by the handful or mix them in with other fruits and make a smoothie. Either way, you are getting the benefits of one of the best brain foods out there. It’s also been said that blueberries are one of the best anti-stress foods that you can eat.

Walnuts – One of the best snacks containing Omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts. Omega 3’s are excellent for boosting brain power and also promote optimal cardiovascular health. You can eat walnuts by themselves, put them in a smoothie, or eat them on a salad. This is definitely one snack you can make a part of your daily routine.

Sunflower Seeds – This tiny snack is full of the nutrients necessary for high-level brain power. These seeds are packed with Vitamin E and have been known to lower cholesterol. As with walnuts, you can eat these on a salad or simply by the handful. The Vitamin E contained in sunflower seeds can also help reduce the anti-inflammatory symptoms that come along with asthma, joint pain, ulcers, etc.

Whole Grains – When you choose to make whole grains a part of your daily snacking routine, you’ve already put yourself on a path to a healthier lifestyle. Whole grains are packed with nutrients including fiber, protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, and trace minerals (e.g. zinc, copper, magnesium and iron). Brown cereals, rice, pasta, and bread are all on the list of smart whole grain brain boosters. These foods have been linked in preventing certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer, and allow us the steady supply of energy we need to get through the day.

With all the unhealthy choices we face each day, it’s hard to pick those snacks that will give us the steady energy we need to get through the day. Find a way to get in the routine of making better and healthier choices when it comes to the fuel we give our bodies. The right kinds of foods will jump-start our brain activity and give us the creative spark we need to accomplish our goals and be one step closer to the success we desire.

Beachbody

Not Consuming Enough Fruits and Veggies? Try Drinking Them!

Photo credit: Kari Sullivan CC-BY-2.0

If you are looking for a way to add more fruits and veggies to your diet, smoothies are one of the quickest and easiest ways to do it. And the great thing about them is that you can get as creative as you want – adding this and that – coming up with unique tastes to suit you and your family. But if you don’t feel comfortable just ‘winging’ it and creating your own, look online for recipes – you’ll find lots to choose from.

Using smoothies as a way to add more fruits and vegetables into your diet is also great because some people don’t like the texture or taste of certain vegetables, such as spinach or kale, but they find that mixing it in a smoothie is delicious.

Another benefit of smoothies is that if you have picky kids who make faces at just the mention of fruits and veggies, you can ensure that they’re getting more of them by ‘sneaking’ them into a smoothie. Because the flavors all blend together, they’ll never even know they drank something they didn’t like.

Now that we’ve touched on the benefits, let’s take a look at some of the fruits and vegetables you can use in a smoothie.

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Kiwi
  • Blueberries
  • Swiss Chard

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of the fruits and vegetables you can use in smoothies. It’s just some of the basic ones to give you an idea of what you can use. You should also get creative and experiment with some exotic fruits and vegetables such as papaya, mango, and beets.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when creating smoothies. Let’s take a look at those now.

  1. Avoid fruit juices – instead use things like water, milk, coconut water, etc. for your liquid. Fruit juices add a lot of unwanted calories.
  2. Preparation of fruits and vegetables – if you want your smoothie to be a smoother consistency, chop/dice them as small as possible.
  3. Choose organic fruits and veggies whenever possible to reduce exposure to toxins, such as pesticides.

And in case you need a recipe to help get you started, the one below is a nice combination of a fruit and vegetable combination smoothie.

Mixed Berry & Kale Smoothie Recipe

Couple handfuls of frozen or fresh mixed berries (such as strawberries, blueberry, raspberries, pomegranate & cherries)
1-2 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup soy (or almond) milk
1 tablespoon flax seeds

*Not a fan of kale? Try spinach instead.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until desired consistency is reached.

There you have it, an overview of how quickly and easily you can add more fruits and vegetables into your diet simply by adding them to a smoothie. Try drinking a smoothie every morning for breakfast or replace one snack a day with a smoothie to help guarantee you’ll get more of the fruits and vegetables you need in your daily diet.

Beachbody

3 Fitness Tips for Getting Your Kids Off the Couch

Photo credit: Vastateparksstaff (Family bike ride Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Our world today revolves around the latest technology in the form of smartphones, tablets, and video game systems. Big name companies compete to bring us the latest and greatest technology and it not only has an affect on adults, but children as well.

Children today are growing up in a completely different world than it was 20 years ago. There are first graders with cell phones, teens who would rather text than talk, and video games with such lifelike graphics it’s scary. The lure of these video games is especially strong in children and teens and brings with it the problem of little or no outside activity in this age group. As parents, it’s important to know how to get your children involved in something other than staring at a TV screen or holding a game controller all day long.

Be the example – Parents can set an excellent example for their children if they are active in their daily routine. If your child sees you exercising or spending more time outside than in front of the television, they will most likely follow your example as they grow older. It may take a little bit of nudging to get them to put the cell phone down, but it will happen. Likewise, if you are a couch potato, or have your nose stuck in the computer all day, they will be more apt to follow in your footsteps. Be the person that you would want your child to be. If you keep that in mind, it won’t be hard to set good habits in motion for the whole family.

Create a routine – A daily routine can help your child get rid of bad habits and instill some discipline in the whole family. Talk to your child about getting on a schedule and let them be involved in creating a routine that works for all of you. Limit the amount of time your child is in front of the television, on the Internet, or on his/her cell phone and stick to it. Make a trip to the park or a walk outside part of your daily routine. If it’s too cold outside, play a game of tag or hide and seek just to get yourself and your child moving. Small daily steps can help to break some bad habits and lead you into a new way of life.

Find activities your child will enjoy – This can be anything from organized sports at school to a daily trip to the local gym. Talk to your child about getting involved in school activities that will keep them moving. If he/she isn’t much of a sports fanatic, there are a ton of other ways to keep them active. Going on a family hike, swimming, or simply blasting some music and dancing around the living room are some fun ways to keep in shape and have fun while doing it.

It may take some time to establish a routine that works for you and your family, but don’t give up. Make small changes on a daily basis to get your child used to any form of daily activity. Pretty soon, a trip to the park or playing ball outside will be the new normal instead of coming home to play video games or surf the Internet. Making small daily changes not only forms better habits in your child, but in your whole family.

Beachbody

Is Your Mindset Holding You Back?

 Your mindset is either your greatest strength… or your biggest weakness. It determines how you view life, your attitude towards what happens, and how you will react. Those who have a positive, growth mindset are much more likely to succeed at what they set out to accomplish. The mindset we have can hold us back or take us to our highest level. It all depends on how we think, what we think, and the actions we take thereafter. What are some ways you can ensure your mindset is geared for success? What are some characteristics that sets one person apart from another?

No Limitations – A person with a growth mindset doesn’t allow themselves to have limitations. They believe they deserve to succeed in life and will do what it takes to get there. They don’t go moping around, claiming to be a victim of the economy believing that they are stuck where they are at. They prepare, they plan, and they take action. They don’t believe the naysayers and follow through with what they start. These people see their potential and don’t limit themselves based on the fear that they are not good enough or smart enough. They make things happen.

Facing Fear – Just because someone has a mindset that is geared for success doesn’t mean they never feel fear. It just means they face it head on. They don’t let the “what if’s” stand in their way and they use obstacles as stepping-stones on their journey. Fear is the biggest thing that holds people back from their best potential. Whether it’s fear of failure, fear of being laughed at, or fear of success itself there are an endless amount of reasons they can use to stay where they are at in life. It’s the ones who don’t let that mounting fear stop them that become the most successful, best versions of themselves. They make it a goal to step out of their comfort zone and do things that most people do not.

Focused Purpose – Those that understand why they do what they do and have an idea of where they are going in life have the strongest mindset. Having a focused purpose in life makes it so much simpler to overcome obstacles because you know what you are ultimately working for. This is the starting point to success. You must figure out what you want to work towards. This can only be done through a growth mindset and someone who thinks outside the box. Finding your purpose in life will not only allow you to focus on what’s important but it will be much easier to follow through and truly go for what you want.

Your mindset can be your greatest tool for a successful life. It will hold you down for a lifetime if you let it. Having a growth mindset allows the world to be at your fingertips because you don’t close your mind to anything. Everyday there is a new possibility for success for someone with this type of mindset. Don’t hold yourself back with senseless limitations and fear just because you don’t know what the future holds. Taking that first step outside your comfort zone could be the breath of fresh air you need in your life.

Beachbody

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