Stick With It

Tropical beach scene on a sunny day in Oahu, HawaiiFor many of us, summertime is when we generally stick to our healthy habits a bit better. The days are warmer and longer so more people are walking outside for exercise. Fruits and vegetables are in season making them more flavorful and less expensive. However; vacations, social gatherings and even stress can tempt us with too many less-healthy menu items.

Here are a few tips for sticking to your clean eating and exercise habits for making 2014 one of your healthiest summers yet!
• Take a picture of yourself with you when grocery shopping. I actually heard this tip on the radio one day. It sounded a bit kooky, but made total sense. Looking at photographs of yourself can be very motivating. It can help you reminisce on a time where you made healthier choices or it could also provide motivation to march right on past the ice cream aisle.

Leave yourself positive notes. Put up little sticky notes around the house, in the car, at the office. Sometimes these little messages are all it takes to brighten your mood and help you stay on track with your health goals. Here’s one to get you started, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’”.

• Ask yourself what are the benefits and the consequences of consuming a certain food. If you’re debating on whether to have a certain food or not, it may be beneficial to ask yourself a few questions about consuming that item. Am I going to enjoy it? Will I feel too guilty about myself if I do eat it? Can I stick to a proper portion size? By eating this, will it help me reach my goal faster? Even I do this from time to time. Like a lot us, I tend to crave sweets at night. Sometimes, I indulge and other times I stick to a handful of trail mix or an apple + almond butter to satisfy my sweet tooth. One thing that helps me make the healthier decision is asking myself, “Will this Reese’s help me achieve my strength goals at the gym?”

• Get back on track as quick as possible. It’s happened to all of us; we have a bad weekend or maybe just a bad week of eating. Don’t throw in the towel after little slip-ups like these. They happen and the best approach to follow is to just get back on your healthy eating schedule as quick as possible.

• Monitor calories. Summer time is filled with fun food opportunities. There are fairs, carnivals, drive-in movies and vacations, all which can be accompanied with their share of less healthy food items. It’s not my practice to tell someone they can never enjoy a corn dog at the fair or popcorn at the movies; however, too much indulgence can lead to unwanted weight gain during this festive season. Simply tracking one’s calories can help you find a better balance between small summer indulgences and day-to-day eating. Two great calorie counting resources are www.myfitnesspal.com and www.loseit.com

Couple Bicycling on Rural Road• Find a buddy. Holding yourself accountable for healthy habits day-to-day can be difficult. Having a buddy to go to the gym with or to make sure you both pack healthy snacks and lunches for work can be very motivating for staying on track with being healthy this summer.

Apples to Apples

Apples are one of the most iconic fruits of the fall season. Fall marks back to school themed apple decor and the fun tradition of bobbing for apples. Apples serve as a symbol for healthy eating. Many families use apples in theirapples everyday diet from a snack to an apple pie.  In fact, most are familiar with the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But is there any truth behind this old proverb? This happens to be one saying worth repeating.

  • Apples under the microscope:
    • Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples has been studied for its possible protective benefits against prostate cancer.
    • Researchers at Cornell University showed that nutrients found in the skin of apples inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43%.
    • The National Cancer Institute released a statement saying that the flavonoids, like the ones found in apples, may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50%.
    • Other studies have shown that apples can also help reduce the risk of asthma and possibly type 2 diabetes.
    • Apples contain pectin, which is a valuable source of soluble fiber (1.0 gram per medium-sized apple). Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels and possibly help control blood sugars. The average apple contains 3-5 grams of total fiber, which can help support digestive health.
  • Choosing your perfect apple:
    • Apples come in many varieties. They can be sweet, tart, crisp, soft, red, yellow, green; the combinations are endless! I personally love a sweet, crisp apple so I tend to stick with Gala, Fuji or the Honeycrisp varieties. Picking the perfect apple can depend on your usage of the apple. Different varieties are recommended if you’re simply snacking or using apples for cooking/baking purposes. Below is a list of apples, their profiles and recommended uses. appleVarietiesChart

    Eating an apple a day can definitely be part of a healthy diet. The phytochemicals and antioxidants found in apples help our bodies defend itself from oxidative stress. However, processed apple products, such as juice, typically do not retain these nutritious properties. When choosing an applesauce, opt for the no-sugar added variety. You can naturally sweeten it with cinnamon, if needed. For a balanced snack, combine an apple with 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter or a low-fat cheese stick. Apple chunks can be added to salads, cereal and make creative slaws and salsas! Apples are so versatile; everyone can enjoy the fruit of the season!