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How to eat out

Most of us have jobs that require us to work outside of the home, which presents us with choices about what to eat when we can’t whip up a meal using fresh ingredients in our own kitchen.  If you are crunched for time, forget your lunch, or simply are too lazy to prepare your meals for the day, what are your best options?

1. The grocery store reigns supreme. Not only is it the least expensive, it also has the most selection.  Try a pre-made chicken salad or grab a red bell pepper and some sugar snap peas with a small container of hummus, a mini can  of tuna, or a small container of 1% cottage cheese.  A jar of natural peanut butter can be spread on whole grain crackers (I recommend Kashi TLC or Stone Wheat Thins), whole wheat pita, apple or banana slices, or you can dip your baby carrots into it (delish!)  It’s really not that much effort to pick up a few of these things when you go grocery shopping in the first place and then pack them for your lunch or snacks for the day 😉

2. Fast Food Chains. These are quick and dirty options for when you are in a hurry.

  • Starbucks has a great little breakfast wrap, healthy oatmeal, and makes a mean sandwich – just make sure you take off one piece of bread and avoid the egg salad at all costs!
  • Tim Horton’s makes a good bowl of chili.  Skip the bun.
  • Burger joints: have a grilled chicken salad but dip your fork into the salad dressing and then take a bite, rather than pouring the dressing on (it usually has a disgusting amount of calories)
  • Dairy Queen.  Unless it’s for ice cream as a special treat once in a blue moon, avoid eating here.
  • Taco Bell is all bad.  If you want Mexican food, please please please make it yourself at home using fresh ingredients.  It will taste better and not give you a heart attack.
  • Pizza Pizza makes a lovely thin multi-grain crust pizza that you can get by the slice at their stores.  I really like the Greek veggie one with feta cheese and olives 😀   It’s not something you should have all the time, but not a completely horrible option. Note I’m not saying you should have half a pepporoni and bacon pizza with stuffed cheese crust – that’s not the same thing at all!
  • Subway or Mr.Sub – all that bread is less than ideal but load up on the veggies, cut down on the sauces, and stick to lean cuts of meat like chicken breast and turkey.

3. Sit down restaurants. These can be easier than fast-food places since they have  a real kitchen to work with.  Again, a grilled chicken or salmon salad is always a safe bet.  Many restaurants also offer steak, chicken, or fish with veggies and a baked potato.  Unless it’s after a workout or you are an athlete, skip the potato or rice and ask for extra veggies, a side salad, or a soup.

4. The workplace buffet or catered lunch. Usually this involves lots of carbs.  Personally, I would rather eat my own food later and skip the crap, but that isn’t always practical or polite.  If this is the case, have some veggies, a few small sandwiches, a piece of fruit, and a coffee.  Have something more substantial later.  Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it!  On the other hand, if you really enjoy this type of food, have a sandwich or two, eat a cookie and get on with it.  We’re aiming to eat really well 90% of the time so there is wiggle room 😉

5. The coffee shop. Depending on the time of day and your fitness goals, you may want to embrace or avoid those delicious baked goods.  Early morning or after a workout, look for a low-fat (5g or less) muffin with whole grains and fruit.  Feel free to have a cafe mocha, a latte, a hot chocolate, or add sugar and milk to your coffee.  Later in the day or if you’re not working out much, a small handful of unroasted cashews or some veggies with hummus would be a better choice.  As for your drinks, you may want to put a little cream in your coffee, have some refreshing green tea, or start drinking herbal teas to prevent you from being wired all night!

There are healthy options for eating out but don’t forget that meal planning and making (or packing) it yourself will save you a lot of time and money 😀

~Live Inspired~!

Emily

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How to lose your muffin top in 30 days

Are your pants a little too tight these days?   Instead of buying new ones, why not make a few changes that will help you slim down and back into those jeans in no time!

1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Include a high-fiber hot cereal like Red River, oat bran, or oatmeal, an egg or two, and a piece of fruit.  Easy. Done.

2. Drink more water. Not only does it help you stay hydrated, water also helps you feel less hungry and it is a zillion times better for you than fruit juice or pop.  If you love fruit juice, try to select brands that don’t add sugar and contain real fruit or invest in a juicer to make your own.  The whole fruit has fiber that helps you fill up and stay regular so it is a superior choice – think about it – would you eat 5 whole oranges in one sitting? Mother nature knew what she was doing.

3. Change up your fitness routine! When you do the same thing all the time your body gets used to it so you need to change your workouts every 4-6 weeks to keep getting results.  I recommend strength training for everyone because it increases your bone density (prevents osteoporosis & broken hips when you get older :D), burns lots of calories, and improves your muscular strength, endurance, or power, depending on what you do.   Every workout plan should involve the following movements: a push, a pull, a squat, a lunge, core stability, and rotation. Training movements rather than single muscles activates more muscle mass and is much more functional.  If you aren’t squating yet, learn how!  It’s one of the best exercises you can do.

4. Eat new veggies. The produce isle is overflowing with different vegetables that you probably don’t recognize or know how to prepare.  Take a look next time you go and write down one or two new veggies that you want to try.  Google them when you get home and find out how they are typically used.  If it sounds like something you might like, give it a try next time you go for groceries. Bring on the leeks, the kale, the bok choy!!

5. Eat reduced veggies. Peppers are one of my favourite vegetables but at $3.99 a pound they don’t come cheap!   Most grocery stores have a little cart near the produce section where they place perishables in various stages of imperfection.  Inspect carefully and choose only items that have spots that can be cut off.  Avoid anything that is juicy, weird-smelling, or highly questionable.  Otherwise, enjoy the 50% off discount and make a beautiful salad, a veggie platter for freshly made hummus, or a savory soup.

6. Stop eating out. Not only will you save money, but you will enjoy more time with your family, learn to cook some new meals, and save a ton of extra calories.   Unless you are eating at high quality gourmet restaurants, you probably wouldn’t want to know what you are actually putting in your mouth.  For example, a single hamburger at Harvey’s contains 390 calories, 16g of fat, and 960mg of sodium.   A blueberry bran muffin at Timmy’s is no better – it has 300 calories, 10g of fat, 53g of carbs, and over 700mg of sodium. Yikes!

7. Have your last snack or meal 3 hours before bedtime. Eating before you go to bed increases your insulin hormone levels.  This tells your body to store energy as fat instead of using it up.  Try having veggies with hummus, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with 1/2 cup frozen berries, or a small protein shake as your evening snack.  Choices like these are less likely to spike your insulin and will keep your hunger at bay.

8. Get a hobby. Instead of spending time lounging in front of the TV or snacking mindlessly, find something to do that inspires you.  Maybe it’s collecting postcards, starting a band, painting, or learning how to dance.  Try something new – you might meet some new friends, find your calling, or just have a lot of fun!

9. Have a riot, not a diet! Diets suck and they don’t work over the long-term.  Sure, you might lose weight for a while but it will come back with a vengeance and you will be fatter than when you started.  I hate to bust your magic bubble but it is the truth.  Instead, make changes that you can live with, have dessert once in a while, exercise, and love your life 😀   People who are happy are a lot less likely to eat when they are not hungry.  Like I said, have a riot, not a diet – I guarantee you will have a lot more fun and that muffin top will disappear before you even realize it.

~Live Inspired~!

Emily

Easter without chocolate…

Ever stop to think about why we buy so much chocolate for Easter?  It’s not because we want to get fatter or even that we really like chocolate. We can eat chocolate any day of the week if we really want to.  No, the reason we go crazy for chocolate during Easter is because of marketing. 

Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.  I am not partial to one religion but I do think that it’s kinda sad that Christian holidays in particular have become all about buying and consuming stuff.

When I was a kid, my mom was very health conscious so for Easter she would get us a bike or skipping rope and a plant of spring flowers.  I wasn’t the most grateful child back then and I can remember being a little peeved that everyone else I knew woke up to mountains and mountains of chocolate while I was stuck with a pot full of tulip bulbs that hadn’t even blossomed yet.

In retrospect, I’m really thankful that she did things her own way.  Weeks later when the chocolate was all gone, my sisters and I still had beautiful flowers blooming in our bedrooms and were running around outside playing with our new sports gear.  I couldn’t ask for a better Easter gift!

-Emily

Top 10 Things my Parents got Right

Way before it was cool to run, do yoga, or be a vegetarian, my parents were doing things their own way. Now in their 50’s, I can see what a huge difference their lifestyle has made on their health and appearance. Here are some of the things I think made the biggest difference:

10. Active family fun time. Sunday hikes, cross-country skiing, swimming, biking, shooting hoops in the driveway…you name it! Instead of plopping in front of the TV all the time, we were out playing.

9. Active transportation.
When possible, my parents walked or biked to work and us kids always had to walk to school (though we complained sometimes). One summer my mom hooked up a little trailer to her bike so she could take my little sister and her friend around town. Not only does active transportation multi-task (workout and errands at the same time) it also saves money on gas and is environmentally friendly. When I was 18 my mom gave me the oldest road bike of life and told me that was my ride to work. I actually miss that 2 hour bike ride to the beach – it was a great way to start the day.

8. Grow your own food. Fresh fruits and vegetables from your own backyard taste so much better! Maybe it’s because they’re fresher or because they’re not covered in nasty pesticides, but in either case, they are delicious and nutritious!

7. Plan ahead.
I don’t think my mom has ever missed a work out in her life! Whether it was a busy day or a holiday, she planned out the next day so that she got her exercise in, along with everything else.

6. Invest in experiences rather than “stuff”. Granted you need some stuff, but they were much more interested in providing us with opportunities to do things (music, French, sports, etc.) than giving us brand name clothes and toys. I’m not against stuff but I am well aware that you can’t take any of it with you when you go.

5. Left Fort McMurray and came back to Nova Scotia. That’s right, I’m an oil baby. nothing against Fort Mac but Nova Scotia has so much more going for it: the cost of living is lower, it isn’t as dark and cold in the winter, and it’s surrounded by the beautiful ocean.

4. Vegetarian Tendencies. We ate meat but certainly not all the time. To this day my favorite meal is mom’s homemade vegetarian chili. She also makes an awesome spinach lasagna. When we did eat meat it was fresh and unprocessed (skinless chicken breast rather than bologna).

3. No smoking. Some of my friends smoke and so do some of their parents. I don’t judge that choice, but it is sad that they are willingly putting themselves in harm’s way. Lung cancer, emphysema, and COPD are not pleasant diseases. It can also make people look old and worn out.

2. They have their own life.
My dad has always been into sports, but he’s also been involved in community theater and loves playing his guitar. My mom has been involved in so many community events that it’s hard to keep track of! They share a lot but they also have their own interests and do their own thing. No wonder they’re not bored of each other yet!

1. Have Fun! Life’s too short not to enjoy it with the ones you love. There’s always something you can create or do together – whether it’s playing chess, rug hooking, or making pickles. It might sound a little old fashioned, but sometimes all you need is a little imagination and creativity to have a good time.

Courage

It takes a lot of courage just to be yourself. I don’t know if I’m completely there yet, but I am a lot closer to accepting myself, flaws and all, than I was a few years ago. Recently I fell flat on my face at the gym while trying to get on a treadmill (someone had left it running and I didn’t notice). The old me probably would have gone home out of embarrassment but I got some band aids and got right back on to do my run. I realize I probably looked pathetic/brutal/funny when I fell, but who cares?! It’s my workout and I don’t even know these people. There is something to be said for learning to take yourself less seriously at times.

These days my heroes are everyday extraordinary people. Those who don’t let hardships or tough times keep them down, who keep going in the face of difficulty. They are friends who know how to laugh at themselves and learn life’s lessons without beating themselves up about it. Most of all, they are the people who are not afraid to be themselves, even if that means they like to play dungeons & dragons, are really into debating, or love wearing lots of makeup…maybe even all three! Maybe they love fencing, neurology, or singing opera… I think you get the point. As someone once said, “The greatest privilege in life is being who you are.” Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to buy anything or change anything – you are perfect just the way you are 🙂