I am a big fan of winter squash, even more so now that some island-grown varieties are becoming available, including one of my favorites: butternut squash As with many things in Hawaii, butternut squash can get to be an expensive buy at the grocery store, especially considering that most squash weigh several pounds. So, whenever there is a sale, I am the crazed woman buying 5-10 at a time. They keep pretty well for several weeks, even in a tropical climate, and I can always cube and freeze a few if I can’t get to them before they would go bad.
Butternut squash is a great option if you are trying to keep you calorie and carbohydrate intake in check. It is a flavorful and filling way to add a lot of substance to a meal; I often use it in place of sweet potato. When you compare the facts: 45 calories & 11g carbohydrate in 100g of butternut squash versus 86 calories and 20g carbohydrate in 100g of sweet potato, it’s easy to see how this substitution can add up to results. Butternut squash also contains significant amounts of vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects and improves the health of your skin and eyesight and may protect against lung and oral cancers.
So how can you get some of this great stuff into your diet? Roasted, with olive oil, salt and pepper is a classic favorite, but there are a ton of options.
I really like the spice flavor combinations in this Moroccan stew. You can always add chicken, lean beef, or tofu to bump up the protein. I eat this with quinoa instead of couscous; I’d rather have a whole grain.
Summer is right around the corner, and the results from the Spring Shape Up are in! Dozens of women across Oahu participated in this year’s challenge, and I’m really proud of the hard work everyone put in. Ladies were running races for the first time, setting new personal records, fitting back into their smaller jeans, and improving their health. But there was one participant who really stood out, the winner of the Transformation Challenge: Mayumi Ogumoro!
Mayumi got involved in the challenge for a few reasons. She was at her heaviest weight ever; she had just received the frightening news from her physician that she was pre-diabetic; and she wanted to be a healthier, more active role model for her young son. She set a short term goal of losing about 25lbs during the three month challenge: a great start to her long term 80lb goal. Mayumi has lost about 30lbs so far during the course of the challenge, and she is well on her way to reaching her ultimate goal! She also got the great news last week that her blood sugar is now well within the normal healthy range!!
Initially, Mayumi did 2-3 strength training workouts a week with me. She also put in a lot of work on her own time: she started taking long, daily walks with her dog, and testing out all different types of exercise options available at her gym. Then her husband got involved, and the two of them became exercise partners as well as friendly competitors. The variety of her workouts, plus the extra support and accountability Mayumi was getting at home and and in her sessions kept her on track.
But she didn’t only focus on her activities. Mayumi made some really important changes to how and what she was eating. She swapped out heavily processed foods for a whole foods diet based on plants and lean meats. She even tried some new interpretations of her family’s favorite not-so-healthy BBQ staples, and to her surprise, they loved them!
I’m really amazed by all the hard work Mayumi has put into this transformation, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the next 12 weeks!
Do you have four minutes for exercise? Of course you do! Check out my video for a quick, full body workout you can do basically anywhere in less time than it will take you to find a parking spot at the gym!
The New York Times published an article about a study about breakfast this week that left me scratching my head. In the study, subjects were instructed to track what they ate for two weeks. Researchers then determined that contrary to popular belief, the subjects that ate a bigger breakfast did not see any subsequent reduction in total calorie intake over the rest of the day.Therefore, the study concludes, having breakfast must NOT be a helpful weigh management strategy. One of the scientists is even quoted saying, “Eating breakfast is just added calories. You’ll never compensate for them at subsequent meals.” Umm…what!?
Maybe the problem is not the fact that the subjects ate breakfast, but the fact that many breakfast options are not high quality. If you are eating donuts, pastries, candy disguised as cereal, white sugar masquerading as white bread, then yes, you may have a issue keeping your total calorie intake in check. Eating mostly carbohydrates (and refined carbohydrates at that) WILL leave you feeling hungry few hours later and can lead to overeating throughout the day. Also, consuming a huge 1200 calorie breakfast of bacon, pancakes, and a three egg omelet with cheese in the hopes that you won’t eat the rest of the day is not a very good strategy either. Just like with many other things in life, too much of a good thing (in this case breakfast) CAN be bad for you.
Numerous other studies over the course of the last decades have proven time and time again that people who consume breakfast not only maintain a healthier weight than those who don’t, but the also have improved cognitive function as well. Plus, eating in the morning kickstarts your metabolism and gets your body out of the conserve mode it goes into while you sleep at night. I think the key here is to have a QUALITY, SATISFYING meal. Breakfast, just like any other meal, is going to be most beneficial to you if it is a low sugar, high fiber mix of whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This combination will keep you full and give you the energy you need to make it through your morning. Most American breakfast options as I said before are nothing but sugar, especially the most popular and convenient item of all: cold cereal. If you want to find you what you should look for when you purchase cereal, please check out my video below.
The best way to stay hydrated while exercising is to drink water
Here’s a newsflash for you: sports drinks are basically nothing more than sugar water, similar to soda in the amounts of added sugars they contain. They are also not really necessary or even appropriate for the average exerciser. But why then did you see all those New York City marathoners guzzling it along the route a few weeks back, and why do football teams always seem to have it on hand. Aren’t all those beneficial electrolytes supposed to help stop you from becoming dehydrated?
The simple answer to this question is that most people are simply NOT training like endurance or professional athletes and will do fine just using plain water for hydration. If you are training strenuously (a leisurely stroll doesn’t qualify here!) for more than an hour, and sweating like crazy, a sports drink may help you restore your glycogen levels(what you body uses for fuel) so that you can continue going and replenish some of your electrolyte stores. However, if you are working out to lose weight, burning 300 calories in an hour, and then pouring 120 calories of sugar into your body right after that, you are undermining a lot of the hard work you just put in.
Sports drinks are among the many “health halo” products that people consume without paying attention to what’s really in it. Protein bars can also fall into this category. Have you ever read the label on some of those bars? There may be 400 calories, more than 50 grams of sugar (1 ½ cans of soda worth of sugar) and tons of unpronounceable chemical additives in a bar like that, but people feel OK about snacking on them because they are “supposed” to be healthy. You’d be better off eating a Snickers Bar!
I will say it again, READ LABELS! If something tastes like a candy bar or soda, and has a comparable amount of sugar in it, treat it as such. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that because something is marketed as a healthy lifestyle option that it must be.
Are there any “health halo” products you have been confused by? Tell me about in the comment section below!
During my Las Vegas trip last week, I did a little gambling, had some delicious cocktails, and saw the Nevada Ballet perform, but I also made sure I stayed moving. I only did one structured workout while I was away, but I also spent two days hiking in beautiful Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire. I really enjoy hiking and although my heart may be pounding and I’m sweating profusely, I’m usually to busy enjoying to scenery to notice.
I shot a workout video about Tabata intervals for you while I was out there in the desert. These types of workouts are great when you are short on time, but still want to get a good sweat in. I also like this style of training becuase you can be at any fitness level and use this technique to achieve results. Just remember to use an exercise that works multiple muscle groups and to really push the intensity!
What are some other exercises you like to do Tabata-style?
Circuit training is a quick, effective way to get a full body, fat burning, muscle building workout. During a circuit training workout, you perform three or more exercises back to back with little to no rest, then repeat the sequence a set number of times. Circuits are often done in threes, but you can do more or fewer depending on how much time you have and your current fitness level. This type of training is so efficient because you are doing resistance training exercises to build muscle, and your heart rate stays elevated due to the fact that you are not resting in between exercises, similar to the cardio effect you get when you go for a jog.
Try out the circuit in my video below! It requires no equipment, a very small amount of space, and I have included variations for all fitness levels from beginner to advanced. Remember to push yourself!
10 drop downs or burpees
20 spiders or 10 full sets of spider pushups
If you are a woman and think it seems like the men in your life are able to lose weight much more quickly than you even though you are working at it twice as hard, vindication is yours! In addition to having more lean muscle on average than women, according to this article in yesterday’s Star Advertiser, men respond differently to exercise. Women experience increased appetite to compensate for the increased energy expended through exercise, while men do not. What to do about this seemingly unfair discrepancy?
I love the Saturday Farmer’s Market at KCC! It does get really crowded and parking is a nightmare, but I try to get there early and ride my bike, so I avoid just a little of the chaos.
This past weekend I stocked up on all sorts of salad greens, including my new favorite, sorrel. If you’ve never tried this leafy green, I really recommend it; it has a great citrus-y taste, and goes really well with Mexican-inspired foods. While cruising for breakfast, I tried a bit of salmon fried rice, and while I ended up going with some bananas to hold me over until I got home, Gene was inspired to create his own interpretation of the rice at home for lunch later that day.
Salmon is full of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which studies have shown can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower blood pressure, promote healthy skin and hair, and improve cognitive brain function. Additionally, fat is the macro-nutrient that takes the longest to digest. This means that eating small amounts of healthy fats throughout the day will help keep you satisfied longer than consuming meals compromised of only carbohydrates and proteins, and can help you ingest fewer total calories if you are trying to lose weight.
People make fantastical claims about weight lost products in advertisements everywhere you look. You know deep down that they don’t work and won’t work for you, but there is a part of you that thinks “well, MAYBE it could be true.”
If there was some magical pill or potion that melted pounds away as you sat on the sofa, ate ice cream, and watched TV, everyone would know about it. Doctors would be prescribing it left and right, and the obesity crisis that is threatening the future of this country would not exist. In reality, the only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit; you have use more calories than you take in. You can do this with diet, exercise, or both, but you have to burn 3500 extra calories in order to lose one pound of fat.
However, of you have a photo shoot or event coming up there are some quick fixes you can use to make yourself appear a bit more fit. This article gives some of the secrets fitness models use in advertisements and before and after photos (other than Photoshop) to make themselves look their best. Enjoy!
What is one of the easiest ways to keep hunger at bay while still cutting calories? Eat more soup!
In a recent Pennsylvania State University study researchers found that participants who ate soup before their main meal consumed fewer calories and felt more satisfied than those who did not have soup. The scientists proposed that the volume of the soup, rather than the actual number of calories contained in it, cued the participants satiety signals, and they ended up eating less. Soup is mostly water, and unlike calorie-laden coffees and sodas, the body actually perceives soup as food.
It is important to keep in mind that not all soups are created equal. Steer clear of cream or cheese based soups that can pack in hundreds of calories per cup, and pay attention to the sodium content of canned soups and broths. Also, you cannot live by soup alone! I am not endorsing a diet consisting solely of low-calorie soups, but rather I am suggesting that broth-based soups can be used in conjunction with a well-balanced diet in order to maintain or get to a healthy weight without suffering through as many hunger pangs. The infamous cabbage-soup diet may work for some people for a few days or weeks, but eventually people will stop restricting themselves so severely and regain any weight they may have lost.
One of my favorite summertime soups is gazpacho; there is something undeniably refreshing and restorative about chilled fresh seasonal produce. This twist on the traditional gazpacho replaces the tomato with watermelon, which is just coming into season! Continue reading Watermelon Gazpacho
It’s no secret that over the past few decades Americans have become larger. The slow, steady increased portion sizes that have accompanied our expansion has been much more subtle. I’m not talking about the super-sized restaurant-sized portions that can fill up two or more people; that kind of excess is pretty obvious. I’m talking about things like muffins, bagels, and sandwiches, things we now expect to be really big, but weren’t always.
Take muffins for example; they used to weight roughly 1.5 oz. Today’s 5 oz coffee shop muffins are notorious calorie bombs, some coming in at 20 grams of fat and 500 calories or more. The “normal” serving size has more than tripled! I try to avoid these “fat traps” altogether by making my own muffins, which have the added benefits of not only being reasonably sized (because who really has the willpower to carefully dissect a muffin in half and eat the other properly portioned half tomorrow), but are also jammed packed with fiber to keep me fuller longer than a sugar laden sweet.
Let me let you in on one of the biggest secrets there is to losing weight.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people, especially women, complain that they put in hours of cardio a week at the gym on a treadmill or elliptical machine and don’t see the results they want. They are discouraged when the weight doesn’t come off, and eventually many of these people resign themselves to the fact that they will never have the body they want. I, myself, used to be like that. What they don’t realize is that the key to a lean, toned body lies in strength training, not tortuously long runs.
Aerobic exercise is great for conditioning your cardiovascular system (your heart), but when it comes to losing weight, incorporating resistance training exercises is crucial:
Muscle is what gives you a toned, fit look. If the only exercise you did was cardio, and you lost some fat on your thigh, guess what would be underneath? More fat! The muscle tissue underneath the layers of fat in your body need to be developed if you want to change the shape of your body, which is what most people mean when they say they want to lose weight. And ladies, don’t worry about accidentally developing a bodybuilder physique. Most women simply do not have the testosterone levels to accomplish that. Continue reading Why Strength Train?