Friday, May 27, 2011

Better Bread: Why Sprouted Matters

Lisa has a bit more time on her hands with a class-free summer (I should say school-free, she’s pretty classy). She can now contemplate important topics like the perfect (healthy) summer cocktail and today’s query “to sprout or not to sprout”. Thanks for this Lisa.
You don’t have to be a nutritionist to conclude that spouted grains sound healthier than bleached, processed or refined grains. Not only do sprouted grains sound healthier, they really are.
A little background
To make white bread part of the wheat kernel (the nutritious part) is removed and the remaining portion milled into flour. Whole-wheat bread is slightly better, the germ (actually loaded with vitamins despite its name) and the bran are used when making the flour. For sprouted grain bread the kernels are sprouted and then this is used for the breads.
Nutritional benefits
Sprouted grains are higher in nutrients than their unsprouted counterparts. Sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate. The process of sprouting also leads to a product that is easier to digest. Sprouting is not new, I learned from the Bobs  Red Mill site it dates back to the 2nd century BC and the Essenes (a Jewish monastic group).
Since sprouted grains products are such a departure from their refined and processed counterparts, they are often referred to as “live food”. Certain varieties have been deemed acceptable by many raw foodists. In my opinion, one of the key benefits of sprouted grain products is that they are higher in protein than other breads. The reason their protein content is higher is because some carbohydrates (from the wheat kernel) are lost in the process of sprouting.
Buying sprouted grain bread
If you haven’t noticed spouted grain products in your grocery store, it’s because you likely haven’t looked for bread or English muffins in the freezer section. Since sprouted grain products are “alive” they are best kept in the freezer or the refrigerator, which is why you won’t find them in the doughy bread aisle alongside those ick white hot dog buns.
Sprout yourself
I’ll be honest I don’t see myself taking up sprouting any time soon but if you’re dying to sprout your own grains, click here for simple instructions. Report back to let us know how it goes, and how you enjoyed your living food!  
Do you eat any sprouted food? Are you familiar with Ezekiel, Shiloh Farms or French Meadow? Does sprouting intrigue you or scare you?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Foodtrainers Five Favorite Finds

This past Saturday I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I could tell you that it was the first nice day we’ve had in NYC in what felt like weeks. I could tell you about spotting Marc a few times during the run and the fun finish on the Coney Island boardwalk near the beach. It was a memorable day but I’m not dwelling on the scenery or the soreness (now gone). Instead, I’ve been thinking more about the delicious breakfast I had a 5am Saturday morning and that’s what I want to tell you about. I’ll throw in 4 other “fantastic finds.”

The morning of the race, after pouring a cup of Le Pain Quotidien coffee, I prepared a bowl of fruit. I had blackberries, blueberries and strawberries and cut in some banana as well. I sprinkled granola over the fruit. This was not just any granola this was Purely Elizabeth’s “ancient grain” gluten free granola. This granola is outstanding. It’s made with gluten free oats, chia seeds, coconut oil and other carefully chosen ingredients. I had the original but there’s cranberry pecan and pumpkin fig.  My only concern is that this granola is too good, measure out the 1/3-cup serving and put it away. Purely Elizabeth will send one of our readers a 3-pack sampler of their 3 granola flavors. Be sure to comment to be in the running.
As we left the apartment Saturday, I filled a water bottle with my new favorite pre-race drink. It’s made by a company called Vega that was started by a vegan triathlete. These are not your run of the mill sports nutrition products.  I use the lemon-lime Sport Performance Optimizer. It comes in single serve envelopes if you want to try it out. It has ginger and turmeric, yerba mate and kombucha. It’s 70 calories per serving and I’ve never had a bad run after drinking it. One note, no dyes are used and it will appear you are drinking sludge. It’s good sludge I promise. 

Over the winter, I tweeted about not wanting to show my “post pregnancy abs” when I inverted in yoga. I received a number of responses. Some people commiserated with me. Others asked when I had my baby (7 years ago, not recently) and then there was one reply offering up a solution (a non-surgical solution ha). The owner of Nuttzo nut butters said, “you have to try Yummie Tummie it will change your life.”  Yummie Tummie was kind enough to send me their appropriately named Skinny Tank.  This tank did in fact make my tummy look yummy (or flat). The problem? My tummy was initially a little too “yummy” for the XS I received.  While temporarily scarred that I wasn’t skinny enough for my "Skinny Tank",  I sized up and it was great. Order a size larger and save a therapy session.

My next “find” is something I should have used more during ski season this year. I am not someone who weighs or measures every morsel of food I eat nor do suggest my clients do so.  We all need check-ups from time to time. When that handful of almonds becomes two or you’re bowl of cereal (or Purely Elizabeth granola) is growing- I found the perfect gadget. It’s the EatSmart Nutrition Pro Scale. It doesn’t do much for me to know I am eating 30 grams of nuts (servings in grams are a whole other topic/pet peeve). With this scale, you plug in the code for almonds and the calories (145 the first time I tried) are displayed. There are over 1,000 foods in their database. We had my brother in law and his girlfriend over, not for the purpose of testing the scale I promise, and had fun with this contraption. Small glass of wine? 62 calories. Apple from fruit bowl 75 calories.  This is an incredibly useful weight loss tool. I have it permanently on my counter and use it for cooking but much more often for fun.

For my fifth find, I have to tell you about my current favorite snack. They’re from a company called Kaia foods. Although I refer to myself as a nutritionist, I could be more aptly called a professional food tester. We try a lot of products or order to find some keepers. Kaia’s sweet curry sunflower seeds are a keeper. Kaia makes kale chips and sunflower seeds in a number of delicious flavors. You can purchase all their products on the kaia website and amazon. You can also find them at Whole Foods Markets. Kaia’s philosophy is also noteworthy “kaia foods was founded with the belief that our health is best supported by eating an abundance of minimally processed whole foods. We sprout, mix and dehydrate our organic foods at low temperatures so that they remain 'raw.' No baking, frying, bleaching, or weird processing steps!” I’m not religious but I’m feeling an “amen”.
Which of these “finds” would you want to try? What are your new favorite foods or gadgets? Isn’t it nice that some great companies avoid “weird processing steps”? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

NYC Trainers' Top Toners

Memorial Day is a week from today. Last week I presented my tried and true Pre Beach Tips. The only exercise mention was to exit the elliptical or ratchet up your cardio. For today’s post. I contacted some friends of Foodtrainers for their advice. These exercise gurus are at the top of their field. We asked each of them for their #1 Pre-Beach move. Try doing each of these daily.

Brynn Jinnett is the owner of Refine Method in NYC. My clients rave about Brynn.  Brynn is a Harvard-educated, former NYC ballet dancer. Her clients have included Kelly Ripa, Ivanka Trump and Barbara Walters. She suggests:

Half-Kneeling Resistance Band Chop:
 Attach a medium weight resistance band to a high sturdy object, such as a door or tree. Assume a half kneeling stance with your right foot forward and left shoulder in line with the band. Grab the band with two hands and tighten your abs and gluts. Keeping your hips still, chop the band diagonally down to your right hip and then slowly release back to your starting position. Your shoulders will follow the movement of the band, but your lower back and hips will remain stable. Perform 10-12 chops and then switch to the other side.

Gigi Barlowe-Marsh is a fantastic NYC based trainer. Gigi and her chef husband John Marsh are also the founders of my favorite chocolaty snacks The Real Bar.  Gigi selected:

Squat Push Press with Medicine Ball
This squat push press with a medicine ball works the gluts, quads, hams, shoulders, triceps, and can be cardiovascular if done with intensity. It is a well rounded, full body exercise that can be done with a 6 to 12 pound medicine ball depending on your strength and ability. 
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball (or other object if you don't one) in front of chest with elbows bent next to body. Squat down, keeping weight over heels and ball in front of chest.Stand up explosively, extending arms overhead; keep elbows close to ears. Do 10 to 12 reps

Genevieve Morritt’s clients adore her. She’s more than a trainer she’s a support system (with a killer sense of humor). Genevieve said "2 tiny muscle groups that can spruced up before you hit the beach are adductors and abductors. Jane Fonda is back."

Side-Lying Hip Abduction
Who doesn’t want a quick inner thigh spruce? This modified leg lift works the gluteus medius responsible for the lift at the top of the glut in a way that squats can’t. Do two sets until you feel the burn! Runners, this will provide your hip stabilizers with a fine-tuning to increase speed.  
This is not Genevieve in the photo

Amie Hoff is a Fitness consultant who developed FitKit. Fit Kit is great for travel and Fit Kit Golf is the perfect father’s day present. Amie is launching FitKit50+ next month that focuses on balance, stability and coordination. An avid athlete Amie is about to do a century ride with Team and Training in California in honor of her sister (go Amie!).
Squat Jump with Clap
Stand in squat position with butt back, knees behind the toes. Jump up with explosive move and clap feet together. Bend legs as you jump for more challenge. This move is great because it works every muscle in your legs, even inner thigh. And the added bonus is it gets your heart rate up which makes it a great calorie torcher.
These are great exercises and exercise you can do away from home as well. If I had to choose pre beach exercise I would probably suggest the old reliable push up or plank pose though I liked something Brynn said, “You can't out-train a bad diet; mindful eating is the best training move out there. Another trainer friend calls it the Table Push-Away.”
What are your favorite exercises? Will you try these? How about the Table Push-Away?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't Let Weekend Eating Weigh You Down

When you think about variables that affect our weight, what comes to mind? Portion size? Exercise? Hydration? What about day of the week? At Foodtrainers, my clients keep food journals. Items considered a treat are circled. It’s not uncommon to see weekdays that are “circle free” and weekends that look like Spirograph creations (who remembers Spirograph?) with abundant circles signifying ample indulgences.

Sure enough, research supports this day of the week concept. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing reported “participants devoured as much as 400 calories more on weekends, a 20-percent increase.” Unlike holidays, weekends happen all the time and if you’re someone living on salads Monday through Friday who subsists on  sweets or Sauvignon Blanc come Saturday, we need to talk.

There are a few reasons why weekend eating is tricky:
We are less scheduled. During the week, the alarm is set and whether you’re at work or in school there are places you need to be at certain times.  While workplaces have there own food booby traps, they’re conducive to structure.  If you’re someone who brings meals or snacks to work you have to think about this before your day starts. You’re also likely to eat lunch when others are eating.

Weekends are another story. There’s much more winging it on the weekends. Instead of defined meals, more time around the house often leads to grazing or what I like to call pupu platter eating. Pupu platter eating isn’t pretty. I suggest a “walk through” on weekend mornings. Take a minute to think about where you’re going to be and what you will eat. Think in terms of distinct meals and snacks. Even if your day starts later I’d suggest 3 meals. This is better than two meals and ten snacks.

We are more social. Maybe you’ll have a birthday or work dinner during the week but there’s less going on. Weekends bring time with friends and family, weddings and even travel. In food terms this means increased temptation to eat more and drink more. When I point this out clients often say “should I turn down some invitations while I’m trying to lose weight?” Absolutely not (unless your mother in law is a food pusher) there’s no joy in being on house arrest but slender. Try budgeting. Look at the weekend ahead and level with yourself. How many drinks will you have Saturday night? Will there be dessert in the picture? And what about those workouts, can you fit those in around your plans? Friday is a good day to make a mental outline for yourself…unless you want more to be “circling” a lot.

Once you have one treat, may as well have another. I’ve written before about the “I’ve already blown it” syndrome when it comes to food. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the weekends. Treats happen and can and should happen even while losing weight. One treat is fine, waiting until Monday to refocus is risky. Weight loss isn’t about being “good” it’s about regrouping. Have a treat? Make the next meal on track. Regroup, regroup, regroup.

Think about this as we head into the weekend and the long weekend for Memorial Day. Nobody’s saying not to relax on the weekend but you can relax without relaxing your food (too much).
Do you eat differently on the weekends? Why do you think this is the case? Does it work for you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Second Annual Pre-Beach Tips:

Last year (on 5/17 funny enough) I answered my college friend M's plea for help with some Pre Beach Tips. It turns she wasn’t the only one in need of a “reducing routine” and the post was one of the post popular I’ve done.Rather than reposting last year’s advice I spruced things up for the 2011 version.

Let’s face it, clothing can camouflage. Tummy troubles? Enter the empire waist.  Large “hind quarters”, try a longer jacket. There are even dolman sleeves for untoned upper arms. Just about any part can be concealed or improved with the right outfit; you’ve seen the makeover shows you know what I mean. Memorial Day is on its way and soon many of us will be donning bathing suits for summer. While the magazines will tell you there’s a correct suit for your shape, they are pacifying you in the hopes that you buy them. The truth is there’s no secrecy in a swimsuit. Your shape is your shape and it will soon be out for everyone to see (sarongs only do so much). Cue the horror movie music.

Many of my clients roll their eyes at me when I talk wellness. They aren’t convinced they have to go to great lengths to improve their energy level. However, when I say the “s” word, reminding them swimsuit season is soon, they listen to what I have to say.

If you’re like them, here are 10 “scared skinny” swimsuit tips:

Pretend You are Brooklyn

Chances are, as you read this you aren’t actually Brooklyn Decker (of Sports Illustrated swimsuit fame). However, carry yourself as though you are.  In an interview, Helen Mirrin was asked, “what’s sexy”? Her answer “confidence.”  If you’ve seen her, in her 60’s, rock a bikini you know that’s the case. Confidence has nothing to do with size or age and if you aren’t bubbling over in “I am amazing-ness” no problem, fake it

Blast the Bloat

Sodium and potassium work in a balance. My favorite high-potassium de-bloaters are oranges, avocados, and cantaloupe. While these de-bloaters are easy to find, my "secret weapon" is Rodial tummy tuck sticks. They are rich in green clay, fennel seeds, and prebiotic fiber to help eliminate toxins and flatten bellies.
 Go Gluten free
While I don’t what to minimize the severity of Celiac disease, the majority of those on GF diets aren’t celiacs.  Some have GI issues, others dermatologic concerns improved by eliminating gluten. The reason some lose weight on GF regimes is simple, many foods with gluten aren’t healthy. Breads, muffins, cookies and cakes aren’t exactly ingredients for skinny jeans. I tell my clients bagels are not for thin people and it’s true. The reason every fad diet is l lower carb is simple, it works.
 Exit the Elliptical.
Ever seen a friend you haven’t seen in a while and they look great, amazing, lean and just different? When you ask how they did it or what they changed did they ever say they started to use the Precor? Or that they’ve been walking? Hold your emails and comments I am not saying these forms of exercise are useless. You want to raise your good cholesterol, ease your way into exercise, de-stress…that’s different. You want to feel less lumpy in a swimsuit, we need more. Run, spin, use the stair climber (looks like staircase), jump rope or whatever form of exercise you hate or feel is “too hard.” Do this 6 days a week (aren’t I nice?) for 45-60 minutes. Do it in your swimsuit for bonus points.

Make like Kate

In my opinion one of the best things about Osama’s exit was that we no longer had to hear about “the wedding”.  The Kate Middleton love fest was a little hard to handle: the dress, the poise, the love she and William share, enough!  Want to know Kate’s secret? Why she looked so elegant and regal? It’s her posture. Her posture is friggin' perfect. Shoulders back, gut (especially for those of us who have one) sucked in and you’re instantly thinner.

Kick Cocktails to the Curb

What would a short-term goal be without some good old-fashioned sacrifice and self-deprivation? Skip the 3 Cs: Canned foods (soups, beans), Carbonated beverages (Diet Coke aka liquid nastiness included), and Cocktails until you feel prepped for the pool.
Done Toning? Try Tanning
We’re in the home stretch and there’s a chance all the cardio in the world isn’t going to “cure” us. There will still be some bumps and lumps but we know one thing for sure, as with ice cream- when it comes to beach bodies chocolate beats vanilla.  The Baywatch cast first showed us, now DWTS is continuing the tanning trend, try it and you’ll see.
Minimize Tush to Chair Time
Sure, you may go to the gym and that’s great- congratulations. Guess what? That doesn’t excuse you to sit for the rest of the day. When you’re on the phone? Walk and Talk. Watching TV? Perfect time for plank. At the computer? Standing beats sitting. Treat it like a game and visualize your tush taking up more and more space every time you sit, are you standing as you read this?

Work that Water 

      Researchers can debate the amount of water we need to drink for optimal health, but in the meantime, we’ll tell you how much H20 you need to look your best - a lot.We suggest 96 ounces daily of a combination of water with a cup or two of Teas Tea green tea, Zico coconut water, or Hint water mixed in for variety. It’s counterintuitive, but water helps you lose water. And if we’re dehydrated, sometimes we’re tempted to eat when we actually need to drink, so just drink up in the first place.
  Enlist a Foodtrainer

      I’ll help you enact these simple steps.  If you’re in NYC and need some accountability, you can find me here. You can also Tweet @Foodtrainers to let me know what you’re plan is to get slimmer for summer. And remember, this may be the perfect time to #TIDEI. (Tweet it don’t eat it).
What do you do to get bathing suit ready? Which tip above is the most helpful?  And at the beach are you a Helen Mirrin (full of confidence) or a cover-upper like me?

Friday, May 13, 2011

10 Easy Foodtrainers-Approved Dinners

*Since this was late to post Friday (Blogger down) leaving it up to be sure you have chance to read.

Many of us start the day out strong but then our eating suffers by sundown. I asked our Market Melissa to share some of the information from her “Taming Takeout” Market Foodtraining tours to help us solve the dinner dilemma. Thanks M.

I know how it goes. It’s 7pm and you walk in the door. You are tired, hungry and cranky. What’s for dinner?  That’ll be takeout (again). My clients have been there; I ‘ve been there. It’s a pattern we can all fall into and it isn’t a good one.  While I don’t expect anyone to start dicing, slicing and following a 20-ingredient recipe, making dinner can be quick AND healthy. My 3 “supper secrets” are:
  • Make a menu plan-menu sounds complicated but know what you’ll eat each night of the week and shop for missing ingredients.
  • Be your own sous chef- chop vegetables on Sunday, do as much advance prep as possible.
  • Make extra, I always try and make extra servings when I am cooking so I have leftovers nights during the week when I know I will be working late.

So put away your takeout menu collection and try some of our favorite easy dinners:
  1.  Fajita Omelet – we love breakfast for dinner. Sauté peppers and onions in 1 tsp. olive oil. Add in 1-2 omega 3 eggs and top with salsa and/or avocado.
  2.  Multipurpose Marinade-  this is a great marinade from Clean Eating magazine. I let chicken breasts, cut into strips, marinate over night for more flavor and it’s ready for a  grill pan as soon as I walk in the door. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, salt and pepper for (4) 4 oz. chicken breasts. Trader Joe’s pre-cooked brown rice is always in my pantry- heat and top with chicken.
  3.  Roasted Shrimp Cocktail – I love this simple and quick Ina Garten recipe for roasted shrimp. Serve over dinosaur kale or pre-washed salad greens.
  4. Easy Oven Roasted Cod from Rosaberry. Preheat the oven to 400º. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Season 1.5 pounds cod fillets with salt and pepper and sprinkle with lemon zest (1 tsp). Place the fillets on the parchment paper. In a bowl mix a pint grape tomatoes, ¼ cup pitted calamata olives, 2 tsp oregano, and  1 Tbs olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the tomato mixture over the cod. Roast 12-15 minutes. Squeeze lemon wedge over cooked fish.
  5.  Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Tofu (teriyaki or savory flavor). This is always in my refrigerator to throw over a salad or quinoa for an instant dinner. Quinoa is a staple on my weekly menu. It is one of the quickest cooking whole grains out there, done in 10 minutes.
  6. Poached chicken – Simmer organic chicken in low sodium broth for 20 minutes or until cooked through. I like to make several servings to have as leftovers. Enjoy with roasted vegetables or wrap it up in a whole wheat or corn tortilla.
  7.  Burger Night -  I love anything Applegate Farms especially their organic turkey burgers . For a Vegetarian option, my go to veggie burger is Sunshine Burgers (I like the falafel flavor) Both can be kept in the freezer and pulled out right before cooking. They are great on their own, topped with avocado, hummus or salsa or with a side of Alexia sweet potato fries. 
  8. Organic Bistro meals – I am not a huge proponent of frozen meals, but they are good to have in a pinch. This line is the best one out there in terms of sodium content and the lack of preservatives. All ingredients are “real food.” My kind of ingredient list. The Wild Alaskan Salmon is a favorite.  
  9. Pasta – I like using brown rice or quinoa pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Sauté your veggie of choice in garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes (optional). Zucchini, asparagus & tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli or kale are some of my favorites. Top pasta with veggies and fresh herbs (flat leaf parsley or basil work for any dish). Think more veggies and less pasta. Total time is less than 20 minutes. 
  10. Portobello Pizza – Lauren told me about this one from the Swanky Dietitian and it has been in my rotation ever since. Super easy and helps satisfy my ever-present pizza cravings.                                                                                                                                      Are you a victim of the take out monster on weekdays? What are your go-to easy dinners? And what are your time-saving tips? To learn more about Melissa’s Market Foodtraining tours click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recipes and Rules

While I enjoy cooking and writing, I especially love the clients who come to my little Upper West Side office. In some way, every client comes to talk about food but you can’t talk about lunch without talking about life.  One client, L, came to my office for the first time over 5 years ago. Her daughter had referred her. L was a quick study. She followed the plans we outlined but would dig her heels in where necessary. I remember some good debates “Lauren, I can lose weight without switching dried cranberries to fresh berries in my yogurt” and she did. We spent a lot of our time exchanging recipe ideas or I should say with me pulling out a notebook so that I could write down L’s recipes or tips.

We talked about cooking and children and travel and holidays. I was the  “expert” but L would give me advice on my son’s music lessons (her daughter is a musician), what to order at a particular restaurant or just about anything. L was divorced but she met someone during the time she was working with me. She was generally cool and calm but when she eventually told me about her upcoming wedding she shifted a little in her seat and couldn’t contain her joy.

I lost touch with L a bit after she was married. After all, she was lean and in love but she did bring her new beau in for a consultation one time. I was just happy to meet “Mr. L” but have a hunch her physician husband didn’t modify his eating one iota after our session. I continued to keep tabs on L through her daughter. For a while everything was smooth sailing and then L’s daughter R mentioned she was having some tests done.  It turned out L had cancer and was going to have surgery but nobody seemed overly alarmed. That was a couple of years ago. L persevered and continued to travel and live her life as though cancer or chemo was an annoying to-do list item, nothing more.

This past November, L came in to see me. The chemo she was on was taking its toll. Her energy and her appetite was low. I prepared myself knowing L might look ill or seem different but though she moved a little more slowly she was L. Like old times, we came up with a food plan this time to get her energy up as she was headed to Paris. The next day I received an email:
 Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with chemo eating (if there is such a category). I’ve already put some of your suggestions into practice. Also, thanks for Jen Goodman’s blog info. Looks like she’s endured far more than I have. I do hope that her treatments will work for her.
Hugs to you,

I can see so much of L in that email: action oriented, selfless and warm. That November visit was the last time I saw L. It’s still so hard for me to believe I attended her funeral last month. At the service, R summoned up the type of stoic strength I associated with her mother and spoke to the congregation about “the rules according to Mom”. The rules covered things big and small after all both are important. One of the more lighthearted rules which reminded me of my time with L was:
Purchase as many specialized kitchen appliances, tools and instruments as you are able.
Your kitchen is not complete without an apple corer and a potato ricer.
One of my sons has an apple many nights as a snack, I have a hard time every time I pull out that corer. L would say my kitchen is  "not complete"; I'd love to hear her case for the ricer.

And the rule that reminded me of the rational,  realistic and sage and brave L:
When freaking out ask yourself- whats the worst that can happen?
Theres nothing so scary that you cant talk about it.
Through R, L’s advice, good sense and humor live on. I miss you L and R misses you too.
In honor of L: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? What are your favorite kitchen appliances? Do you own an apple corer? And do you have any words for R? She’s having a very tough time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Body Bucket List

Back in January, a friend forwarded me one of those chain emails.  While I delete most of these poems and puzzles, there is one type I like or am a sucker for. I like the questionnaires that asks crucial questions such as “coffee or tea?” or “best meal you’ve ever had”.  The email I received from a friend  was entitled “BUCKET LIST” and the instructions were to simply place an X next to all the things you’ve done. Items ranged from “danced like on one was watching” to “watched the sunrise with someone.”

My friend A*, always out to improve things, wrote back with her answers, and said, “I think there should be an add-on, five things not on the list you would have on your bucket list.  I don’t want to divulge her list (though she can if she leaves a comment) but two items resonated with me. One was “hike Machu Picchu” and the other “feel really good in a bikini.” I had the idea a Body Bucket list but have sat on it for months unsure what my five body “add ons” would be and somehow nervous that I had to pinpoint the right items. I’m over my hesitation but do not be surprised if I edit these items at a later date. I'm all for goal setting and challenges (remember how much I love resolutions).

Before I kick the bucket or my window of opportunity closes I’d like to:

1.     Run an Ultra marathon. I’ve run half marathons and marathons. While I’d love to run the Boston marathon one day, the new qualifying times make that unlikely. I have no triathlon dreams but I can run and enjoy it. Ultra marathons vary in length all the way up to 100 miles. I think I could do it…slowly.

2.     Bungee jump or sky dive- while neither of these really depend on my body per se, I’d like to do one or both of them. I am not a risk taker by nature but I like the idea of controlled risk.

3.     Train for and hike something important- I passed on an opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro this year. Marc and I thought about it but the time spent away from the boys (and work) didn’t seem feasible. I like A’s idea of Machu Picchu too and we penciled it in for our 40th birthdays (years and years from now).

4.     Get back on a bike- Marc is training for a tri and said to me “do you know how to ride a bike? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you ride?” I met Marc in 94’ but I don’t think I’ve been on a bike since summer camp. The truth is I was never, even as a child, much of a bike rider. I do know how! I’m going to buy a bike and start riding and will let you know if there’s truth to “it’s just like riding a bike” we’ll see.

5.     Get in the best shape possible- A’s “feel really good in a bikini” resonated with me. I’m not someone with real weight loss aspirations. My weight is pretty stable; I wear a small clothing size and do wear bikinis (though I spend more time with a cover up on, I’m a cover-upper).  I’ve been in marathon shape, I’ve been skinny but I don’t feel I’ve been in the best shape I can be in.  My boys are away at camp for seven weeks this summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll cross this item off my list.

 Are there any items on my body bucket list you’ve already done? What would be on your body bucket list? Do you have 5 items? 
*A. has appeared on this blog before, she’s a great idea person and jokingly referred to herself as my blog muse. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Workout Reward

It seems rather intuitive that cranking up your exercise helps you lose weight.  After all, if you’re burning more calories and eating the same way that would be the case. The problem that exists, that I refer to as “marathon syndrome” is that for some people feel they deserve a reward for their exercise efforts and that reward is often edible. When I look at food journals, for clients training for a marathon, the day of their long run is usually when I see the pancakes or cookies. And in case you’re tempted to explain this based on appetite, the same workout rewards have been observed with lighter workouts.

The May issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter, interviews one of my nutrition heroes Dr Brian Wansink. Wansink wrote the book “Mindless Eating” and this interview focused on cues that affect our eating. My post on the connection between color and appetite was an example of one of these cues. Regarding exercise, Wansink summarized an experiment conducted with participants on a retreat. Before dinner, the group was divided in two. One group was told they were headed on a scenic walk around a lake. The other group was told they were going on an exercise walk. Both walks were easy and paced similarly. When they returned and had dinner the “exercise” group ate more. They also estimated they had burned more calories.

Another study, with postmenopausal women, divided participants up in groups and prescribed varying amounts of weight loss. Women doing the most exercise did not lose the most weight. There was more food compensation in this group than the low or medium exercise group.  An association was seen between increased exercise and increased “rewards”.

In some cases it’s not even the exercise but thinking about exercise that can trigger reward behavior On her blog Herbal Water, Dr Ayala discussed a recent study in the journal Appetite.  Participants read a passage about a 30-minute fun walk or a 30-minute exercise walk (not unlike the Wansink experiment). After reading, those who had read the passage and answered questions were presented with snacks and candy. They were allowed to scoop as much as they wanted into bags to take home. Those who had read about exercise scooped 52 percent more. 

If you’re exercising to release stress or for your health, this sense of entitlement may not be a problem. However, if you’re interested in losing weight because Memorial Day is about three weeks away that’s another story. I work with clients on their self-talk. If we can see fitness, leanness or slimming down as the “prize” sometimes we can skip the post-workout pancakes. Another tool is to pre-plan food on more intense workout days to avoid impulsive decisions.  It also should be pointed out that there’s nothing wrong with having a treat as long as it isn’t presented as a workout reward. Love handles aren’t that rewarding.
Do you find yourself feeling exercise entitled? Do you eat differently on workout days? Why do you think there’s this “I ran so therefore I eat” connection? 
Speaking of rewards (ha) the winner of our Sweet Riot giveaway is EA The Spicy RD.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lunch Dessert: Sweet Riot

I recently had a new client in my office. She was referred by a friend, another client we’ll call T.  After greeting my new client and guiding her to my office, we sat down and I asked her what brought her in. Common answers to this question are “I have a marathon I am running” or “I really want to lose some weight.” This new client responded differently saying, “I loved T’s lunch dessert.” It turns out she had lunch with T and after lunch T shared one of our Foodtrainers’ favorite snacks. She shared Sweet Riot.

In case you haven’t “rioted” before. Sweet Riot makes dark chocolate covered cacao nibs. I first discovered them at the Natural Products Expo a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. These 1-2 calorie, per piece, nibs are packaged in resealable (and reusable) tins. They come in different flavors or strengths of 50, 65 and 70.  The entire tin has 140 calories and is gluten free.  These nibs, the size of a Rice Krispy are fun to eat but intense. You really can have a few and be satisfied and leave the tin in your desk or purse for the next day.  They do the trick.

Cacao seeds or nibs are what cocoa and chocolate is made from. The fat in cacao and dark chocolate contains stearic acid.  This saturated fat doesn’t raise LDL (or bad) cholesterol and may in fact raise HDL. Cacao and dark chocolate also contain magnesium a mineral that can be decreased or depleted in times of stress. And they have an extremely high ORAC (antioxidant rating) score.  We still see Sweet Riot as a treat but it’s definitely a treat with benefits.This quote from the Sweet Riot Website says it best  "All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!" 
- Lucy Van Pelt, "Peanuts" 
Plus, though it's not something we promote, as T knows Sweet Riot makes a perfect lunch dessert.

Sweet Riot has generously offered to giveaway their Spring Fling 3-pack of tins. To be eligible comment here on the blog (include blog name or twitter handle) or share this post via twitter and include @Foodtrainers. U.S. residents only.

Have you tried Sweet Riot tins or bars before? Are you a chocolate person? Do you have lunch dessert?

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Binged

I binged on Friday. My binge lasted the whole day and left me feeling down. I didn’t see it coming but once it started it was like a runaway train, I couldn’t get enough. Before you suggest I book an appointment with myself (or the other Foodtrainers) there’s something you should know. My binge wasn’t on cereal or chips or ice cream. I binged on the royals or more specifically I binged on Kate. In food terms this is the equivalent of binging on a food you’ve never had before as I wasn’t the least bit fixated on the wedding.

My husband came home from the gym early Friday morning. I was, where I am now, at my desk- hands perched on my keyboard, coffee cup lurking. “I can’t believe you aren’t watching,” he said. “Oh right the wedding, I’ll put it on.” I turned on the Today Show. The ceremony was underway. I wasn’t pulled in immediately. I made the boys breakfast, answered their monarchy-related questions and pretty soon it was time to leave. I set the DVR and went to drop the boys at school. I had 11 miles on my running schedule so it was a while before I arrived home.

Once home, the trouble started. I clicked “Today Show” on the kitchen television and sat down. On the “kiss countdown” that was displayed I had 30 minutes. Instead of fast forwarding I decided to watch a little.  I watched Kate and William leaving the ceremony.  Her posture was perfect, her smile natural and her skin zitless. William seemed a little anxious, gingerly stepping to avoid stepping on her dress. And the dress? Very pretty though I didn’t enjoy that corsety thing on the bodice. Let’s be real though, the woman (or the duchess now) is 5’10”, she’s athletic and thin (but not too thin) even the Queen’s banana get-up would look well on Kate.  I didn’t notice it at the time but the more I watched the worse I felt.

I watched the newlyweds’ carriage ride back to the palace; I watched kiss (or peck) 1 and kiss 2.  I went on with my day but the binge had hardly started. Once home again I watched multiple shows “post-game” report.  I turned on 20/20 only to learn Barbara Walters was doing a 2-hour special on the wedding. My husband headed to bed after saying “I just don’t get this, I don’t really see why billions of people care.” The Lauren who was oblivious that same morning was now defending her new habit. “How can you not care, this is history and a fairy tale!” I couldn’t stop. I learned Kate allegedly did her own make-up. I saw the dress she wore to the evening party (gorgeous) and how she carried herself with poise and restraint. I recalled a post I read on a blog called Verging in Serious. Cameo wrote a post  called Magazine Goggles about reading fashion magazines. On a recent trip she gorged on glossies and was left feeling rotten. The same thing happened to me with my royal goggles.

As I was going to sleep (finally), I was feeling as though my life was dull. I wasn’t a princess, would never wear a dress like that. Once I had hopped on the pity party train, I was lamenting the fact that I’m not tall, not in my 20’s and could never to my own make-up as well as the Duchess. Ugh.  I finally fell asleep. The next morning, I was a little “hung-over” from my binge but it was a new day. As I left for yoga I was seeing the other side of the coin. I had no make-up on and looked pretty dreadful. I was taking a new class and couldn’t master most of the moves.  I ran some errands after and realized nobody cares the way I look because nobody is watching. I can go about my day looking blah, less that poised and have a pimple or two. I can even “binge” because nobody is monitoring my every move.  Can you imagine binging at Buckingham Palace? Imagine.
Do you ever find magazines or celebrities or royals make you feel inferior? Did you watch the royal wedding? What do you think Kate eats (or doesn’t eat)?