Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beating the Winter Weather Blues

Snow, snow and more snow! It seems here in the Northeast we've had a significant amount of snowfall at least once a week.  The winter weather tends to make people reach for comfort foods while providing an easy excuse for skipping out on exercise.  If you find yourself spending more time with your couch than a treadmill, here are some tips to keep you on track during these dreary winter months:

1. Find a workout partner.  The reason people are always promoting this is because it works! Enlist your roomate, boyfriend, parent, or whoever and set specific days & times that you will meet at the gym.  Making exercise appointments with someone else will hold you both accountable to reaching your fitness goals!

2. Help out a neighbor or friend. In addition to shoveling mounds of snow from your own car and/or driveway, offer to help others with theirs!  Shoveling snow for 30 minutes can burn an estimated 200 calories and will help build muscles you may not otherwise be working out.

3. Buy new workout gear. This can be used as inspiration for working out in any season, but is especially important during the cold winter months.   Being prepared with warm sweat-wicking layers will ensure that you feel comfortable during cold outdoor workouts. 

4. Try something new. Go to a park and rent snowshoes or cross-country skis.  Take a weekend trip to go skiing or snowboarding.  Grab some friends and hit the ice skating rink for the day.  All of these activities will burn extra calories while allowing you fresh air and time with friends and family. 

5. Invest in new exercise DVDs.  If you really hate exercising outside in the winter and don't have a gym membership, there's no reason to let yourself become a couch potato.  Use your TV as your trainer and purchase a few new exercise DVDs featuring yoga, pilates or even kickboxing.  Most cable providers also feature a channel solely devoted to fitness and exercise for free!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tips on Saving Money at Mealtime

Just a quick post today: Check out this link to an article from Bon Apetit Magazine: 6 Inexpensive Dinner StrategiesThey provide some great ideas on how to stretch your dollar when it comes to meal time! Enjoy! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Costa Rican Cuisine

I was lucky enough to spend 12 days in Costa Rica on vacation with my boyfriend.  In addition to the warm hospitality and beautiful flora & fauna, Costa Rica offers some of the most fresh and delicious food I've had while traveling abroad.  

Black Bean Soup with fresh cilantro, tomatoes and onions
A typical Tico meal is called "Casado" which has a basis of "Pinto Gallo"(rice and beans), and meat/fish/chicken, salad, plantains and tortillas.  For breakfast, they often substitute eggs or cheese for the main meat dish.   While there are many American-style restaurants, the most popular eateries are small local corner shops, called "sodas".  We were lucky enough to have a fantastic soda just a short walk from our resort, where the locals made us feel like family and served us delicious meals at any time of day.  

Pinto Gallo with Queso, Platanos and Homemade Tortillas

Chicken Taco with Salsa Lizano and Fresh Sour Cream
Costa Rica was an amazing time with amazing food! As the Ticos say, Pura Vida!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Happy and Healthy New Year in 2011!

Happy New Year! For most people, weight loss now becomes a top priority this time of year, with resolutions and the chance to start over fresh.  If you find yourself making resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle for 2011, my advice is to keep it simple.  Make a short list of realistic, achievable goals and then set yourself up for success! 

If you really want to eat healthier, start with a kitchen/pantry overhaul.  Toss highly refined pre-packaged foods and stock up on healthy items.  Make sure to always have frozen and canned vegetables around for those times when you aren't able to make it to the grocery store!  Canned beans are another great staple to keep on hand and add to salads or dishes to bump up the fiber content.  Other healthy choices are unsalted nuts, oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, hummus, olive oil and a variety of spices.

Eating in restaurants and ordering take-out can be costly to your wallet and waistline.  If you're not making it yourself, it can be difficult to know exactly how the food is prepared.  Cooking at home can be fun, cost-effective and will definitely cut back on calories, fat and sugar intake.

If your goal is to start exercising more often, start off easy.  Take at least a 30 minute walk most days of the week.  Take the stairs instead of an elevator.  Sign up for a charity 5k run or walk in the spring and train smart for it!  If staying motivated is an issue, enlist a good friend or co-worker to hold you to gym dates. 

In addition to eating better and becoming more active, try to get more sleep each night.  Research continues to show that lack of sleep leads to increased risk of obestiy and Type 2 Diabetes.  Eliminating or cutting back alcohol consumption will also speed up weight loss, so aim to drink less often.

So here's to a new year of good food, fitness and fun! Cheers!