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5 Techniques to Take Pleasure in Healthful Food

Written on July 3, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Make a colorful plate to really enjoy your next meal. (Photo courtesy Karen Pearson)

We are always surprised at how often we speak to women with solid exercise routines who just can’t seem to change their relationship (for the better) with healthful, good-for-you foods. If you’ve struggled with this issue, then here are five techniques to help you rediscover — and redefine — your feelings with healthful food and mealtime in general.

  1. Sit down: Chances are that at some point you’ve fallen victim to snacking while standing up. Grazing all day long may be part of your kitchen ritual or nightly tube time, but delineating a special time every day just for eating will allow you to be more mindful of what you put in your body.
  2. Admire your meal: Actually take in what you’re about to chow down; whether it’s the colors of what’s on your plate or the smoky scents of veggies fresh off the grill! It may feel a little silly at first, but you’re putting yourself in a far better position to have a healthy relationship with what you eat.
  3. Take stock of how you feel: Do you feel nervous when you think about food? Are you always bored when you go to snack? Being aware of how you feel before you eat will help you discover what issues you may have when it comes to your relationship with food.

Keep reading for two more ways to take pleasure in your food.

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Boxer Marlen Esparza Trains Hard to Represent US in Olympics

Written on June 26, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

You'll definitely want to keep your eyes on Esparza during the Olympics. (Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated)

Marlen Esparza was only 11 when she first stepped into a boxing gym, and it took her days to convince trainer Rudy Silva to allow her to participate in his group workouts. After watching her throw some sloppy but passionate punches at a bag and seeing what Rudy describes as a “spark,” he allowed her to join his sessions with advanced boys.

But that spark doesn’t mean Rudy welcomed her with open arms. “I tried to push her really, really hard,” recalled Rudy during a recent interview at Nike’s campus in Oregon. “I would push the groups really hard, mainly because I wanted her to just quit. After a while, some of my guys started quitting. She just kept showing me every day that she was there to stay and this is what she wanted to do.” Eleven years later, Rudy is still her trainer and Marlen’s tenacity paid off. Not only has she won six national titles, winning her first at age 16, but she was also the first woman to qualify for the US Olympic boxing team.

This honor is not lost on Marlen. In a quick interview in Houston she told us, “To be the first woman to qualify for the Olympics is everything to me. People say to me, ‘Boxing is not who you are; it’s what you do.’ But to me, it’s who I am. I’ve never felt this good in my entire life, ever.”

The road to qualifying wasn’t straightforward, though. The announcement that women’s boxing would be included in the London games also included the news that four weight classes would be combined. Rudy explained, “At the time that they announced the 112 flyweight class, the weight classes that were going to merge into 112 were 106, 110, 114, and 119. Those four weight classes had to compete at 112.” Until the International Olympic announcement, Marlen had fought in the 106-pound weight class. “I had to gain weight,” Marlen told us. “In 2010 I started competing at the 112 Olympic weight class and figuring out who was gonna make it to the games. I was fighting girls down from weighing 119. It was intense. Luckily, I beat them all.”

Keep reading to learn details of how the young boxer eats and trains.

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4 Summer Pitfalls That Lead to Weight Gain

Written on June 19, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Step away from the split! (Photo courtesy Peter Ardito)

Spending time outside this summer is sure to boost your mood, but don’t let the choices you make affect your waistline. Prevent weight gain this season by avoiding these common pitfalls.

Cooling Off With a Frozen Treat
Issue: Ice cream is definitely one way to celebrate summer, but since this treat packs tons of calories in a tiny serving, hitting your local ice cream parlor too often can also pack on the pounds. Frozen yogurt may be a healthier option since it’s lower in fat and calories, but it still contains calories, especially if you load up on tons of toppings and go a little crazy with portions at self-serve shops.

Solution: It’s OK to indulge in ice cream every so often, just be sure it’s a reasonable portion and not an entire pint. And if you go for lower-cal fro yo, don’t choose larger servings just because you think it’s good for you — you could end up downing the same amount of calories you would have if you chose a real ice cream cone instead! Be mindful of the toppings you choose and how many, knowing nuts, chocolate, and candies add on the most calories. If you’re really watching your weight, skip the creamy treats and whip up these refreshing and healthy homemade frozen treats.

Swapping Intensity For Scenery
Issue: Warmer weather inspires many of us to slip on lightweight tanks and take our workouts outside, but this can sometimes mean a more leisurely, gawk-at-the-gorgeous-scenery walk rather than the intense, kick-your-butt routine.

Solution: If you prefer exercising in the fresh air during the warmer months, just be sure your workouts maintain the same intensity as the ones you do at the gym. If you normally take a 400-calorie-burning indoor cycling class, when you hop on your bike outside, incorporate hills and intervals, and be sure your pace and the duration of your workout are comparable to the one you’re used to inside.

Continue reading for other summer mistakes that can lead to weight gain.

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How to Run Safely With Fido This Summer

Written on June 12, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Keep the hot dogs on your plate this summer. If your pooch is pooped, take a break. (Photo courtesy Christa Renee)

Running outside comes with tons of perks, but one of the best is being able to bring your dog along. They’re the perfect exercise companion because there’s no skipping out on a workout when you see that excited grin and wagging tail. Now that temps and humidity levels have risen, here are some things to consider in order to keep your dog happy and prevent heat exhaustion.

  • Ease into training: If you’ve never taken Spike out running before, ease into it, especially if he’s overweight. Start off with 10-minute workouts that include running and walking to not only build his endurance, but also to get him used to running alongside you on a leash, or to train him to run freely in the woods without running away. Gradually increase the duration of the workouts to prevent pushing him too hard too soon. Remember — dogs can suffer from heat stroke and injuries, too.
  • Check the weather: It’s no fun to exercise on a 95 degree day with 80 percent humidity — for either one of you. Check the weather the night before and be flexible with your workout time, choosing cooler times of the day to get your run in. Your dog may be really sad and whine when you shut the door, but if it’s way too hot, it’s best to leave him at home in the air conditioning.
  • Consider the surface: Asphalt and concrete can be too hot for furry feet, and rocks and gravel may cause cuts, so stick to dirt roads or sandy trails. After the run, check your dog’s pads for cracking or other injuries.

Keep reading for more safety tips when it comes to running with your dog in the heat.

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7 Healthy Lessons Learned From Fad Diets

Written on June 5, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

They may work fast, but fad diets rarely last.

Constant dieting may not be the best way to maintain weight, but chances are you’ve been on one (or two, or a few!) at one point in your life. And that can mean a lifetime of dieting failures, but there’s always something to learn from your attempts. Here are some lessons learned from those fad diets.

  1. Steer clear of empty calories (Low-carb diet): Low-carb diets like the Atkins or Dukan diets can be hard to maintain and aren’t always the healthiest eating choices to make, since you’re at risk for eating too much saturated fat in lieu of nutrient-rich (but also high-carb) produce like carrots. But what a low-carb diet does teach you is to rely less on refined carbs like breads and crackers, too, which can be the source of many empty calories for lots of people.
  2. Stick with whole foods (Paleo diet): Processed foods aren’t exactly waist-line-friendly, so the Paleo diet’s focus on fruits, veggies, meat, and anything else our foraging ancestors could get their hands on is a healthy principle. While grains and dairy may be off limits, Paleo dieters fill up on fresh produce and lean proteins.
  3. Keep your heart healthy (Mediterranean diet) There’s a reason why those living on the Mediterranean coast are so happy; their diet has been proven to help people live longer. As a diet craze, people turn to the Mediterranean diet to lose weight with its focus on fresh foods and low-calorie seafood, but the benefits of the diet, which is full of healthy fats found in fish, nuts, and olive oil, include lowering your risk of heart disease and brain aging.

Read on for more lessons learned from popular diets.

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Don’t Be Shady! How to Choose the Right Sunglasses For Eye Health

Written on May 29, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Keep your peepers protected to stop squinting and prevent wrinkles this summer. (Photo courtesy of Peter Ardito)

Sunglasses aren’t just for complementing your bikini while you lounge on the beach. They’re a must for protecting your eyes from UV damage. Sunglasses also shield the eyelids and the skin around your eyes, helping to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer. But before you run out and drop a small fortune on a pair, here are some things to consider.

  • UV protection is most important: UV rays can damage the eyes causing cataracts, benign growths on the eye’s surface, and snow blindness, a temporary and painful sunburn of the eye. As mentioned above, it can also lead to skin cancer around the eye, so make sure your pair guarantees 100 percent UV protection.
  • Polarized lenses have nothing to do with UV protection: Polarized lenses act as a filter to absorb light waves, which helps to reduce glare that bounces off smooth surfaces like pavement or water. While they’re great for offering clearer vision in extreme sun, being labeled “polarized” has nothing to do with how well they protect the eyes.

Keep reading to find out what else to think about when buying sunglasses.

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Thinking About a Juice Cleanse? 4 Ways It Can Cause Weight Gain

Written on May 22, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Save the cash on a cleanse and opt for a healthy diet and exercise routine instead. (Photo courtesy of Peter Tak)

Whether it’s to improve energy, clear acne, spring clean the digestive system or shed a few pounds, juice cleansing is all the rage now. Even celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Richie are buzzing about the benefits of liquid detoxing. Before you splurge on a juicer or lay down the dough for a liquid detox program, learn how a juice cleanse may lead to weight gain.

  • Hard-to-measure liquid calories: Since all the calories you’re consuming are liquid, if you’re not watching your intake, it’s easy to consume well over the daily limit. (A pressed juice averages between 100-350 calories per 16-ounce bottle.) Make sure you have a plan to follow and an accurate way to determine how many calories are in each glass or bottle you’re drinking. Most retail juicing programs provide calorie counts, but are also pricey to join.
  • Messes with metabolism: A typical juice cleanse lasts anywhere from three to seven days (or sometimes longer), where you drink 32 to 64 ounces of freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice each day. When your body doesn’t get the all the nutrients (or the amount of calories) it’s used to, it stresses out because it thinks it’s starving. Often the body reacts to this by slowing down its metabolism, which can make losing weight harder in the future. And while juicing is an easy way to deliver phytonutrients to the body, the fruit-based juices tend to be high in sugar, which can negatively affect insulin levels in the body.

Continue reading for more ways a juice cleanse can cause weight gain.

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Long Commutes Are Detrimental to Your Health, Study Says

Written on May 15, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Catch up on your Zzzs before your commute. (Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto)

Working a nine-to-fiver is mandatory for most people, and unfortunately, a long commute often comes with the territory. According to a study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, those who travel 16 or more miles each way weigh more and have higher blood pressures than those with less than 10-mile commutes.

Of the almost 4,300 residents from Dallas and Austin involved in the study, researchers discovered that for every 10-mile increase in driving distance, the commuter’s BMI (body mass index) rose .17 units. People with lengthy commutes are nine percent more likely to be obese, either because they didn’t exercise as much, are eating fast food while driving, or they’re not getting enough sleep because their long commute forces them to wake up early.

Weight isn’t the only thing affected by a long drive to work. Spending that much time in the car, especially stuck in traffic, also makes a person tired, moody, and stressed out, which is one reason 52 percent of those in the study with a longer commute suffered from high blood pressure.

So what’s a commuter to do? Quitting your job is obviously not an option, and if working at home part-time isn’t feasible and neither is finding a job closer to where you live, here are some things commuters can do to avoid weight gain and other health issues.

  • Make time to move: With an extra hour or two stuck in the car, it may be tough to exercise before or after work, so set aside 30 to 60 minutes during your day to hit the gym. Make it a priority just as you would any other scheduled appointment. Follow our time-saving tips for a lunchtime workout.
  • Get enough Zs: Not getting enough sleep is linked to weight gain, so if you know you have to get up early to hop in the car, be sure to hit the hay early enough to get at least seven to eight hours of shut-eye. Here are some tips on how to get quality sleep.

Keep reading to learn what else commuters can do to avoid weight gain.

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5 Things to Never Do During Indoor Cycling Class

Written on May 7, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Show up early to class for a smooth ride. (Photo courtesy of Fuse/Getty Images)

Indoor cycling classes are an amazing cardio workout, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll walk away frustrated, or, even worse — injured. Compared to other group fitness classes, indoor cardio cycling is also a little harder to pick up on when trying it for the first time. After getting the lowdown on what to expect from your first class, follow these rules on things you should never do in an indoor cycling class.

  1. Arrive to class late: As a rule, be on time for any fitness class, but more so if you plan on riding. Since there is a cap on the amount of bikes in a class, most gyms require students to register ahead of time (either online or using a sign-up sheet). A few minutes before or after class starts, instructors often release unclaimed bikes to those on the waiting list. Show up late, and chances are the bike you registered for will be taken, or, if you didn’t sign up at all, the class will be full.
  2. Hop on the bike as-is: This is definitely not a one-size-fits-all scenario — the person who was on the bike previously may have a good 10 inches on you. To avoid injury and ensure a comfortable ride, adjust the bike to suit your body. You’ll also want to make sure the handlebars and seat are firmly secure to avoid any wobbling during class. Watch this video to learn the proper way to set up an indoor cycling bike.

Keep reading to find out three more things you should never do during an indoor cycling class.

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Dieting Rules You’ll Love to Follow

Written on May 1, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Breakfast is the key to dropping a jeans size. (Photo courtesy of Laura Doss)

Don’t eat this, stay away from that — following a diet can seem like a total killjoy. If you’re feeling depressed about how restrictive your diet is, here are some proven weight-loss rules you’ll welcome with open arms.

1. Dig into a big breakfast: Skipping breakfast to save calories? That’s a big mistake because eating breakfast actually jump-starts your metabolism. Your first meal of the day should include protein to reduce sugar cravings, and fiber to satiate your hunger. A veggie omelet, fruit smoothie with spinach, oatmeal with fruit and nuts, or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit are excellent choices.

2. Say yes to carbs: Before you get all excited, I’m not talking about bagels, regular pasta, and pretzels. Simple carbs made from enriched white flour offer little nutritional value and more calories than you need. Stick to complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, and oats, as well as foods made from whole grain flour such as pasta and crackers — the least processed and as close to nature as possible. (Of course, you still need to be mindful of portion sizes.) Complex carbs are not only full of fiber that keep hunger at bay, they also contain valuable vitamins and minerals your body needs such as vitamins B6 and E and iron.

3. Eat between meals: No need to feel starved all day! Aside from your three main meals, schedule a morning and afternoon snack to keep hunger at bay. Stick to munching on snacks that are 150 calories or less, and use your two snacks as a time to fill holes in your diet such as getting a little extra protein or fiber. Not sure what to eat? Check out these 150-calorie snack ideas.

4. Set a time to indulge each day: Whether it’s chocolate you long for or some crunchy, salty chips, choose a time each day where you can splurge on a little something you crave. Keep it under 50 calories and really take the time to sit down and savor it. Satisfying your edible desires is a great way to prevent breaking down and binging on huge portions of unhealthy foods later.

Keep reading for more weight-loss rules you’ll love following.

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