Monthly Archives: January 2011

Go ahead…skip breakfast

In every fitness magazine article I have EVER read….and believe me, I’ve read lots, health experts are always touting the critical importance of eating breakfast.  It helps to rev your metabolism for the day after a long period of “fasting” (sleeping), it keeps you sated and helps your blood sugar remain on a more even keel.  And of course, breakfast is another important opportunity to get in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  But recent research done in Germany and published in the Nutrition Journal may be turning that idea on its head.  Here is an excerpt in the New York Times about the study:

German researchers studied the food intake of 280 obese adults and 100 of normal weight. The subjects kept records of everything they ate over two weeks, and were carefully instructed about the importance of writing down what they ate as soon as they ate it.

For both groups, a large breakfast simply added to the number of daily calories they consumed. Whether they ate a large breakfast, a small one or none at all, their nonbreakfast calorie intake remained the same.

This may mean that exactly the opposite of the commonly offered advice is correct: A smaller breakfast means fewer daily calories consumed, not more.

So what exactly does this all mean?  Should we ban eggs from our morning repertoire, or my personal fave — greek yogurt and blueberries?  Does coffee now count as breakfast?

Before you toss your oatmeal in the garbage, here is my take on the new research.  Yes, breakfast adds to your total calories for the day.  DUH!  So does lunch and dinner.  But should you not eat breakfast anymore?  No.  But breakfast should definitely be tailored to your own personal tastes.  For example, I’m not usually all that hungry in the morning, but I start to get a little peckish around 10 or 11.  I usually will have a  yogurt or a small bowl of oatmeal, just to keep me sated and so I don’t end up ravenous come lunchtime.  Sometimes I want a little more, sometimes I want a little less in the morning.  That’s just me.

There are plenty of people who need a bowl of cereal, fruit and a hard boiled egg in the morning, and that’s ok too!  Just as long as you balance out those choices with a lighter lunch, dinner, or snack.  Good advice to follow is this – treat your diet like a bank account.  If you spend more on breakfast, maybe you might want to scale back on lunch or dinner, or even eat a smaller breakfast the next day.  Looking at your diet on a daily (and even weekly basis) can help you stay healthier in the longterm.  Most importantly, you should always eat when you’re hungry!! — being cognizant of internal hunger cues is incredibly important and can lead to a much healthier, happier life in general!  Intuitive eating — eating when you’re hungry and stopping right before you feel full (on a hunger scale of 1 to 10 you should be about a 7-8).

So if you don’t like breakfast, you shouldn’t feel bad about not eating it – but you might want to consider have a little something small before lunch).  If you’re ravenous in the morning…EAT!

Day 3 : Cleansexperiment

I awoke this morning to my last and FINAL day of the cleanse.  And boy, am I glad this is the last day.  Seriously…enough of this juice – I want REAL FOOD.

Yesterday was pretty easy (much easier than the day before) as far as not feeling hungry or deprived.  In fact, things went pretty well the whole day.  D and I went to see “The Fighter” (GREAT movie!  If you haven’t seen it -it’s awesome!).  Since D was coming straight from work, he brought along some sushi with him.  I literally thought I was going to rip the salmon avocado roll straight from his hands.  I wasn’t even that hungry — just the smell of it was torture!

Needless to say, I’m very ready for this to be over.  But here are my thoughts on this cleanse in particular and cleanses in general:

Pros:

  • My body feels really “clean”.  My skin looks super clear, I have a lot of energy (surprisingly), and I’ve been sleeping really, really well.
  • I honestly haven’t craved any junk or sweets.  Periodically, I definitely will crave dark chocolate or other sweets (I am a girl after all!), but I can honestly say that all I really want is real food (salmon, veggies, warming soups — things that are really good for me!)
  • The cleanse was really easy to follow — the labeled bottles were easy to tote and it definitely didn’t interfere with my day to day life.

Cons:

  • I really miss real food.  I don’t know if I could do this more than 3 days, because honestly, I just want a real meal so badly.  Enough of this juice business.
  • I was cold….ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  No matter how many layers I wore (apparently the Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen hobo look isn’t flattering on normal people), I just couldn’t get warm.

The Bottom Line?

The cleanse definitely helped me to refocus after feeling sluggish and just generally yucky post-holidays and post-vacation.  I feel more energetic and healthier.  Whether this is due to it ACTUALLY doing something for my body or the mental effects is unclear.  I’m still not a total believer or convert to this stuff.  And even though I did lose a little weight (which wasn’t really my purpose), I suspect that it was mostly water weight.

Would I do it again?  Maybe…I would definitely consider doing a modified cleanse (they offer a juice-until-dinner option with a raw, vegan dinner, a snack, and a treat which I would consider trying).  But I don’t know about nonstop juice….maybe I’m just not a juice kind of gal.

Would I recommend this as a weight loss tool?  No….well… sort of.

I would recommend this to people who are looking to jumpstart a healthy, weight-loss program that focuses on eating lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and fish.  Because, if we’re being honest here, 3 days is really a blip on the screen when it comes to longterm health.  The best way to be healthy, look great, and lose weight (if that is your goal of course) is to eat healthy all year round.  And eating healthy also means indulging in yummy things (dark chocolate, wine, etc..) in moderation.

And with that, I’m going to go in the corner and chew a piece of cardboard ahhh (kidding)

DAY 2: Cleansexperiment

Ahhh 1 day down, 2 more to go.

Last afternoon and night was…tough.  Spinning class was actually not as hard as I thought it would be.  I had a burst of energy during the second half of class that came out of nowhere!  But, I admit, I was absolutely starving beforehand so I had a quarter of an avocado sliced up (which they recommend if you are really DYING).  It’s a cleanse after all — not some sort of torturous ordeal.

Dinnertime was also another trouble spot.  Although D was very considerate, I was definitely hungry at night and wanted REAL food, and seeing him cooking and eating (eggs! mmm) was not easy.  Also, I felt pretty cold all night long – which I’m assuming was from two things — the fact that is was 0 degrees outside, and also that I wasn’t benefiting from the thermal effect of digesting food.

Also, for some reason when I was watching the tube last night, all they seemed to show were food ads!  Maybe I just noticed it more because I was hungry, but seriously…COME ON!!  So rude.  haha

However, even though last night was a bit of a struggle, this morning I woke up actually feeling refreshed!  I slept well, although I felt SUPER bloated last night from all the juice (probably drinking it too fast — I just chug that juice down).  And, even though weight loss really wasn’t the goal, I was down a pound and a half from yesterday (also probably water weight).  I’m not feeling hungry, and actually feel pretty good and clearheaded.  Hopefully the rest of the day will go easier….

Stay posted for updates….will I reach some state of zen bliss?  will I chew off my own arm?  Who knows what will happen……

My Big CLEANSExperiment

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about cleanses.  It seems to be the newest celebrity craze for ridding your body of toxins…or whatever.  I think most people sign up for it just to lose weight if you want to call a spade a spade.  So when BluePrint Cleanse showed up at my local Whole Foods, I figured, might as well bite the bullet and see if this stuff is really what it’s purported to be!  I’m using my own body as a test subject for the next 3 and half days to see if this stuff is really what it’s cracked up to be — or just a big can of B.S.

So today I begin what will be 3 and half days of juice and one all vegan, all raw meal.  I signed up for 3 days of the “Foundation Cleanse”, their level 2, “middle of the road” option.  3 green juices which taste light a sweet salad (if there is such a thing!), 1 pineapple/mint/apple juice which tastes like a whole lot of delicious, 1 “spicy lemonade”, and 1 cashew juice (which I am looking forward to like it is manna from heaven).  The juices are labeled with numbers (1-6) in the order to drink them, and they recommend drinking a juice every 2 hours or so — kind of like how often you feed a baby.  I am supposedly flushing my body of toxins and cleansing from the inside out with fresh-pressed juices.  The best part for me?  I can still workout while juicing — in fact they recommend it!  Apparently I will have more energy from drinking all this fresh juice.  And according to the creators of this cleanse, this isn’t about deprivation, it’s about nutrition.  And another good part — the BPC motto is “Work hard, Play hard.  Cleanse. Repeat.”  Not promoting any crunchy, granola lifestyle or raw food diet.  Cleansing for normal folks.

So my verdict so far — halfway through the first day and downing a second green juice.  So far I’m feeling ok.  Around 1 pm I really wanted FOOD — and I think it may be just myself being programmed to want lunch around that time.  Besides having to pee every ten minutes I’m feeling pretty good and not that hungry or deprived.  And this morning the green juice tasted like ass and now it actually tastes kind of decent!  I’m definitely curious how all this juice will hold me over for my 5:30 spin class tonight…hmmm.

Stay posted tomorrow to hear how the rest of my afternoon/evening went, how I will handle D eating dinner in our house while I drink juice, and if I wake up at 3 in the morning like a zombie and empty the contents of the fridge into my mouth….

Football fare that won’t make you look like Rex Ryan

One word describes this weekend:  JETS…JETS…JETS!!!

Like many of my fellow-Gothamites, I am very excited for the Jets to trample the Steelers this Sunday.  For many folks (including me!), football, beer, and food are intertwined.  What gets you more hype for a game than an ice cold Corona and some yummy guacamole??  And don’t even get me started on buffalo wings.  D could probably wax poetic on that dish for hours!!

While many of these delicious football season treats can be quite fattening, there are easy ways to make them less so.  So this weekend, D and I are taking the Superbowl Season challenge — hosting a football party with only healthy versions of the favorites.  And the best part?  All of this stuff is super easy to make or find at your local grocery store.  I have scoured the internet to bring you some of the healthiest versions of our favorite football treats.  The easiest thing to keep in mind when revamping your football menu is to add in as much veggies as you can — whether it be a guacamole recipe or chili, the more veggies you add, the more interesting and healthy the recipe becomes, not too mention more filling thanks to all that extra fiber!  And that’s what I call a Nutritional Touchdown!

Below you will find MY new and improved  Football MENU:

Drinks:

Light beer — corona, bud light, etc…

Appetizers:

Cut up veggies (carrots, celery, tomatoes, pepper strips, etc..)

Store-bought lowfat hummus

Homemade guacamole — http://recipes.womenshealthmag.com/Recipe/guacamole-dip.aspx

Fresh salsa

Baked tortilla chips

Buffalo chicken tender with lowfat blue cheese dipping sauce —

http://cookingdonelight.com/blog/2007/08/18/buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-homemade-low-calorie-blue-cheese-dressing/

Main Course:

Veggie Chili! https://thegothamskinny.com/2010/09/13/kickoff-into-fall/

Dessert:

Mixed berries

One-bite brownies (Whole Foods)

For more tips on figure-friendly approachs to a tailgate if you’re not the host — look at my old post on tailgating: https://thegothamskinny.com/2010/09/15/tailgating-without-expanding-your-tail/

Lazy dinners for busy girls and boys

Some days I really wish there were two of me.  The first one, would do all my errands, laundry, grocery shopping, cook beautiful three course meals, etc… and the second one would get to do all the other stuff.  But alas, since cloning isn’t really a possibility yet, I’m stuck with just one of me…and lot’s to do!  And since there’s only one, sometimes what’s for dinner really is the last thing on my agenda until it’s 6:30 pm, I’m hungry, and searching in my fridge for a little inspiration.

However, even if you only have 15 minutes and very little ingredients, you can still come up with an awesome, healthful, gourmet meal.  Here are some foods that are great to have in your cabinet to pull together quick and delish meals!

Rotisserie Chicken:


It’s truly amazing how many meals you can make out of rotisserie chicken.  Just make sure you get plain rotisserie chicken (preferably just chicken, salt and pepper) and forgo eating the skin which is pretty fattening.  Some of my go-tos are:

  • Curry chicken salad with lowfat mayo/greek yogurt, grapes, celery, curry powder, enjoy on whole wheat bread, pita or crackers — great for lunchs and quick dinners
  • Chicken “pizzas” — take a whole wheat tortilla, top with marinara, veggies of your choosing, a little shredded chicken and some lowfat mozzarella or parmesan (a little bbq sauce is also super yummy)
  • Chicken tortillas — sauteé some  shredded chicken, ‘shrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes with a little cumin and chili powder, heat the tortillas in a skillet, put in the chicken mix and top with salsa, slices of avocado and a little lowfat mexican blend cheese.

Eggs


One of D and my favorite go-to meals is Breakfast for dinner (also known as the “college kid’s meal”).  We chop up a bunch of veggies in our fridge (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, you name it!), throw it in a pan with some olive oil and add egg whites or beaters and a little feta/goat cheese/parmesan/cheddar (or no cheese at all sometimes) and make a veggie scramble or omelette.  Round it out with a piece of whole grain toast and you’ve got yourself a great meal!

Polenta


Polenta is one of those products that really doesn’t get the attention it deserves for being insanely delish, comforting and super easy!  Not too mention that everyone gives you this crazy look when you mentioned you made something with polenta — like “WOAH you’re so gourmet!  Look at you top chef!”  I like to get tubes of polenta, throw a little veggie broth, salt, pepper and parmesan into it and zap it in the microwave until it is fully cooked and has a mashed potato-consisitency.  It can replace pasta in any dish — throw in a protein (chicken, fish, shrimp, whatever!), veggies, and some tomato sauce, and you’ve got yourself a low-cal, comforting winter dish!

What are some of your fave go-to quick meals??

Hope everyone is bundling and surviving the snow!!

 

The Buddy System

Ahhh January.  This is a time of new beginnings, when we all take a look at the crap we’ve been eating (and drinking!) over the Holidays and decide to make a change.  While I think that New Year’s resolutions can be positive, the all-too-typical scenario is that we end up sticking to our new, reinvented, healthier selves for a couple weeks, and then slowly slip back into old habits.  So how do you keep up your motivation when it seems that unhealthy choices lurk at every corner?  My answer: the buddy system.

Everyone falls off the bandwagon occasionally, and I admit that the past two months I haven’t been my healthiest self.  After a heart to heart with my sister, R, who had been visiting the city, we agreed to support each other and help each other make better choices over our upcoming family vacay and beyond.  And of course, because she’s a rockstar, we both went to a spinning class at Soul Cycle together the next morning.  Not only did we have a blast doing something active, I know that we both are totally supportive of each other in our efforts to be fit and fabulous.

The moral of the story?  Chances are if you’re looking to get healthier this year…you won’t stick with it if you don’t have support.  Don’t be shy to tell family and friends your goals, whether it be to eat more organic food, get to the gym more, or lose a couple of those pesky holiday pounds.

Second, find a BUDDY. Having a pal to go to the gym with, go to yoga with, cook nutritious meals with, etc… is an amazing way to advance your fitness efforts while maintaining and building valuable friendships.  Plus, when you know that someone is waiting to meet up for you to go for a run, you’ll find it pretty hard to cancel, right?  That sense of accountability can make a huge difference.  Also, finding a friend at a similar fitness level to you is an added bonus — that healthy competition and comraderie can help you push your limits and achieve your goals.

And it doesn’t have to be just one friend — I often find that a great way to hang out with friends on the weekends isn’t just the typical bloody mary brunchs, but attending a yoga class or even just walking the city together and getting some fresh air.  Not every friend-date has to be created around a meal or a drink.

So this year, I hope you’ll join me in recommitting to your health.  Here’s to 2011!!