Thursday, January 31, 2013

Find the amount of calories you need each day

I get quite a few questions from people like, “what should I be eating” or “how many calories per day can I eat and still lose weight?” The process is different for everyone, especially when you start factoring in lifestyle, exercise, heredity and those nasty plateau periods. But, let me give you some baseline information to help you get a framework together. For starters, these are my general rules of thumb when anyone asks me how I lost weight:

--Eat foods with five ingredients or less most of the time

--Don’t eliminate food groups

--Be honest about what you are eating (meaning keep a journal and measure portions)

--Water, not soda

--Move more

When I first started out with Weight Watchers, my two main “ah-hah!” moments were 1) when I realized how little calories exercise actually burned, and 2) a big Joey Lawrence “WHOA!” in reference to the size of my portions. It was then that I quit rewarding workouts with food, I started reading labels and I invested in a food scale and measuring tools for my kitchen.

As for how much you should eat, there are two ways you can figure out your recommended caloric intake for the day. You can use your RMR or your LBW. Warning – there is math involved, but if I can do it, you can do it!

1) RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) – This is the amount of energy you need to sustain your body at rest. Take your body weight x 10 to determine the amount. (IE: if you are 190 pounds, your RMR is 1,900 calories per day).

2) LBW (Lean Body Weight) – If you know your body fat percentage, you can use this calculation to determine a caloric range. First, to determine your lean body weight, take your weight and multiply your body fat percentage. (IE: 190lbs x 30% body fat = 57). Then, subtract this from your total weight. (IE: 190lbs – 57 = 133 LBW). This means your bones, muscles and soft tissue weigh 133 lbs.

To determine your low end of the range, take your LBW and multiply by 16. (IE: 133 x 16 = 2,128 minimum calories per day). To determine your high end of the range, add 500. (IE: 2,128 + 500 = 2,628 maximum calories per day).

An alternative to these calculations, you can record the amount of calories you typically eat in a day. (I would track this for a week and take the average.) If you are currently maintaining your weight or gaining weight, start by reducing your daily caloric intake by 100-200 calories from your original intake amount.

As I mentioned, this information just scratches the surface about caloric intake, but it gives you a baseline. From there, you continue to play with the numbers and your meals until you determine what is or isn’t working for you. The most important thing is that you continue to update these calculations when you lose another 10 pounds. If you lost 20 pounds, it’s important to recalculate the calories you actually need using the lower weight so you don’t gain the weight back.

OK, that’s enough math for today, don’t you think? As a reward, I will leave this for the ladies:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Positive Jar

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have reached the age where I'd rather stay in on New Year's Eve instead of going out to fight crowds of 20-somethings for a cocktail whilst screaming conversations over the techno version of Bieber tunes.  Instead, my husband usually makes a delicious steak and lobster dinner.  We reflect on the year over a nice bottle of wine.

Over the past few years the reflection part hasn't been that positive for us for various reasons.  Maybe it's easier to remember the bad things that happen or unfortunate circumstances?  This prompted us to start the Positive Jar:  

Our goals for the year include eating healthier, clean foods because we splurged in December and getting into better physical shape.  We joined a new (and better) fitness center and we want to run a couple of road races this summer.  A major component for losing weight is staying motivated and being consistent with good habits, especially through difficult struggles.  No giving up!  I think making conscious notes about positive things that happen in our lives supports motivation overall.  It reinforces why we want to make changes in the first place.

The jar has a few more notes in it since I took the picture (yay!)  I'm looking forward to filling it throughout the year and reading it at our 2013 New Year's Eve dinner.  Please steal this idea!  It's not too late to start it this year!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Small Changes - Big Benefits

I’m always looking for small improvements I can make to look and feel healthier. That’s how I reached my goals in the first place. I would make one small change and focus on that until it was a habit. Then, I’d move onto the next healthy change.

Now, I’m at the point where I have studied the main concepts for quite some time: clean eating + regular activity = healthy body. I aim to try one new clean eating idea each week and I revamp my exercise plans every four to six weeks. But, there is always more to learn!

If you want to try something new, give one of these a try this week:

Apple Cider Vinegar

Origin: Did you know the word vinegar originates from “sour wine”? See, we are off to a good start!

Health benefits: Known to strengthen the immune system and fight infection; known to boost metabolism and stamina.

How to: Be careful when using – it’s strong! One of my previous trainers used to mix it with water, but personally it tastes too awful for me. Instead, I put a tablespoon on salads, soups, sauces or crockpot dishes. Just it in small amounts and you won’t even taste it.

Chia Seeds

Origin: This one goes back to the Aztecs and comes from a plant that is a member of the mint family. It was a very important crop back in the day because it will sustain you for a good amount of time.

Health benefits: Make-up is typically 20% protein (building blocks for muscles and enzymes), 25% fiber (stay fuller longer) and 34% oil a.k.a. Omega-3 fatty acid (good fats that absorb essential vitamins); known to have even higher anti-oxidants than blueberries; gluten-free

How to: Add a tablespoon to cereal or smoothies.

Green Tea

Origin: Associated with many Asian cultures dating back to 4,000 years ago. Folks drank tea, but it was generally used for medicinal purposes.

Health benefits: I cannot say enough about the benefits of green tea! The disease-prevention benefits are countless. But, it’s a great metabolism booster and fat-burner. YAY!

How to: My favorite time to drink it is right before bed. I even make it old school in a kettle on the stove. Just be sure to get decaf! At least two servings a day is recommended, but you can drink up to 10 cups. For a more reasonable option, you can also take this in pill form.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Target Shopping Problem (a.k.a. product recommendations)

I live within a 5-minute walking distance of Target and work three blocks from Target Headquarters, which has a huge 2-story Target store.  I also have the awesome Target debit card, so I get five percent off all purchases.  You might say I have a bit of a Target obsession.

I also love great products and a good deal.  While I love certain spendy products from M.A.C. and Sephora, I don't believe that paying more always means a better product.  There are great products out there for less.  Here are my two finds this week!

1) Garnier BB Cream - SPF 15, $11.99
 If you are over 30, I recommend using a BB cream and this one works great.  I've been using it for five days (apply before makeup) and my skin feels so much better.  St. Paul weather in January is not forgiving to your skin and originally I set out to find a good moisturizer.  I came across this product and it's a winner!  The best thing is that this will last forever.  I over-applied the first time - you only need a small amount for great results.
 2) Sonia Kashuk Satin Luxe Lip Color in Plum Wine - SPF 16, $9.99
 I'm already a fan of the Sonia Kashuk line.  I love love love the travel eyelash curler (that I use every day) and the brush sets.  I haven't tried the lipsticks, so I thought it was about time I did.  When I saw the color in the store, I was a little cautious because it looked dark.  But, I love wearing a rich jewel-toned color in the winter to give my pale skin some life.  It's creamy, but not heavy and it stayed on well for a 'non-stay' lipstick.  I don't think it was too dark for me, but even if it is, I don't care.  I love it and I rocked it for my dinner date with hubby last night :)

Let me know what you think if you try the products.  Today is the perfect day for a Target run!  And, if you don't have the 5% off debit card yet, what are you waiting for?

Monday, January 7, 2013

What do you want to be in 2013?

I feel like this is going to be a really good year. I’m not exactly sure why, but I just have a good feeling. Is that a good enough reason?

The last couple of years have not been so great due to many factors, including my attitude. But, I feel like some things are aligning and my attitude has been adjusted appropriately. I really do believe that hard work and perseverance to prevail. And, if I’m being honest, the last couple of years have been filled with more excuses and laziness than I would’ve liked. So, moving on!

My health goals have been pretty consistent for the past several years, so my goals this year are more about “do more of __________”. The knowing what I want part is never difficult, but staying on track to get there and finding the motivation to do so is very difficult. So, for 2013, I will:

Do more learning. I found some writing classes I want to take, which can only benefit you if you are taking time to read what I write :)  I found classes for online/web writing, magazine writing and self-publishing. (Yes, my health & wellness book/guide/writings/whatever you want to call it made good progress in 2012. I’m almost done writing. Hoping to edit in a few months and start the self-publishing process. After all this time, it’s going to be a masterpiece. I promise.)

Do more playing. Do you ever feel guilty just sitting on the couch when you could be doing something productive? Typically, I’m not an advocate for just sitting around. But, the kids are finally self-sufficient, I work full-time, I’m active every day, and there’s the other multitude of responsibilities I have at home and to other people. Yet, I still feel guilty when I sit and watch The Bachelor with a glass of cabernet in hand. No more! I earned it and I deserve to live in the moment and enjoy some relaxation. No more guilt. When work is done, it’s time to play.

Do more for my health – both mentally and physically. This includes:

  • Lifting more weight than ever before. I document my weights/reps/rest for every workout and each week it’s going to change. I’m really going to push myself here!
  • Challenging myself with some new HIIT workouts during the winter to help my summer road race times. If you have a good routine, please share it!
  • Finding a new doctor and a new dentist (I really dislike both of them right now!)
  • Playing my piano more. I found several new songs I want to learn this year.
  • Write more. For something I really love to do, it’s odd that I don’t do it more often. I have been writing my book quite a bit, which has taken me away from freelancing, blogging and journaling. But, I’ve journaled four times this year already and, look at me now! I’m blogging! Now, who’s got a freelance topic for me?
  • Share more. I need to remember that I’m not alone in this journey of health and wellness. I hate to mention reality television twice in one post, but watching The Biggest Loser last night reminded me that there are so many people who need encouragement and education about this topic. We can all help each other lead happier, healthier lives.
  • Overall, feel better about myself. Like most people, I overindulged during the holidays and I have some extra weight to lose. I know this will come with the goals I’ve set above and documenting daily food intake.

I really encourage you to write down some goals for yourself this year along with documenting how you will achieve them. Revisit and revise often. Feel free to share them here! Happy New Year!