8 Ways To Track Your Progress Other Than The Scale

weightloss scale

Are you on a health journey and the scale won’t budge? Although the scale can be one form of measurement to assess if you are on track with your goals, it is not the only one. Our body weight fluctuates day-to-day and week-to-week based off of a variety of reasons, some of which cannot be explained. This can be frustrating at times, especially when you think you did everything right and are expecting a certain number in your head and then “Darn! I am up a pound?”. Before you get discouraged and decide to throw in the towel, let’s see if there are other ways we can celebrate your efforts. Here are 8 things you can do to track your progress other than using the scale:

  1. Celebrate saying “No, thank you” to temptation. You are trying to resist junk food but your co-workers are not on the same plan and offer you candy and chocolate, so you politely refuse. The old you would have indulged because one piece of something sweet usually leads to more and because you said “no” you avoided that roller coaster. That’s a huge step in the right direction!
  2. Celebrate getting back on track in the moment. Going back to the work scenario, maybe you do give in this time. And unfortunately it does lead to another piece and then another. However this time you don’t allow it to ruin your healthy dinner plans and since you over did it on the sweets at work, you decide to skip dessert tonight and have a small piece of fruit or decaf tea instead.
  3. Celebrate being kind to yourself. In addition to putting action forward to picking yourself back up after going off track, you’ve mentally decided to forgive yourself and remind yourself that you are human and that everything cannot be perfect all of the time. Since you are working on loving yourself and improving your overall health, you then kindly talk yourself into finding new solutions going forward.
  4. Celebrate drinking less empty calories. Soda. Juice. Sweetened Teas and Frappacinos. These are all beverages that provide calories but lack nutrients therefore the only reason behind drinking them is the immediate satisfaction of taste and the more we satisfy our sweet tooth with empty calorie beverages, the more we want to drink them. Cutting back on sweetened beverages creates an opportunity for us to consume more nutrient dense foods and water.
  5. Making healthy swaps at a restaurant. The waiter comes to your table to take your order and even though you really want the chicken parmesan with pasta you ask: “I would like the chicken parmesan but instead of pasta I’d like to substitute it for steamed broccoli. Oh, and you can take the bread off the table. I don’t want to be tempted to eat it. Thank you!” Chances are the portions at the restaurant are larger than the proper size and even though that option is fried you still made small adjustments which eventually will lead to big results.
  6. Check your body fat. You may want to invest in a Fat Loss Monitor because even when the scale does not move, your fat to muscle ratio might depending on your exercise regimen. Most of our organs and tissues require muscle support to work optimally so I recommend tracking your body fat in addition to your body weight. On average, a healthy body fat range for women is 21-36% and 8-25% for men, respectively. This range varies slightly depending on age.
  7. How do your clothes fit? Our body fat distributes as we change our eating patterns and believe it or not where we carry excess fat can dictate our health for better or worse. When we carry weight closer to the heart we are at a greater risk for heart disease so if you notice the belly fat is going down and going closer to the hips then that is something to celebrate.
  8. Notice improved energy and mood. You notice you are sleeping better, you are happier, and overall in a much better mood than usual because you are making efforts to take care of yourself and making changes to your diet. How we feel matters most, do not let the scale dictate otherwise!

If you did not hit your target using the 8 ways above then there are two things probably happening. One, you are not letting enough time pass or you are not doing the above often enough. Consistency over time leads to big results so be patient and keep trying. Two, you may not be going about achieving your goals in the most effective way. If that is the case then reach out to a nutrition professional who can help you. Feel free to comment below or e-mail me at TipsWithToni@gmail.com so we can figure out how to keep you motivated and on track!

 

 

Making 2018 Your Healthiest Year Yet

newyearsresolutionloseweighexercise-more

It’s that time again, a new year, a fresh start. You may be feeling anxious to get started on attacking your resolutions headstrong however I am going to suggest that you slow down a bit and take a moment to plan ahead. This exercise should take you about 20 minutes, but will save you months of back tracking so sit down, grab a pen and a piece of paper and let’s do this!

Remember being in grade school and having to report on Current Events for your Social Studies class? Well I am going to encourage you to do the same when developing your 2018 goals; we’re going to break down the Who, What, When, Where’s, and Why’s. Although you probably have a list of New Year’s resolutions, pick ONE. You can do this with each goal however realistically I probably wouldn’t choose more than three. Focus your energy on 1-3 this year and 2019 can be the year you focus on the others on that list. There will always be things that need change and improvement, but only a few can be top on the priorities list. It may be helpful to break them down into categories: personal, professional, relationship, financial, spiritual, health and fitness, etc. It’s not to say that the other goals get completely neglected, but they are not going to soak up the majority of your attention. Since I am a Registered Dietitian I am going to focus this exercise on nutrition related goals, but you are welcome to use this strategy with any other! So here we go…

Who: “Who” may seem like an obvious answer, you’re probably reading this and thinking ME of course! Well yes, you of course is correct however there are other people in your life that can help or hurt your progress and you need to take a minute to define who those people are.

  • Example Goal A- You are trying to eat less sweets but you have that one friend who  brings you homemade desserts on a regular basis.
  • Example Action Plan A-  I am not suggesting you need to de-friend that person, however you may need to speak up a bit. Tell him/her that you are serious about your health and although you appreciate the love and attention she shows through his/her homemade sweets, it is not something that will help you get to your goal.
  • Example Goal B-  You are trying to lose weight and get healthy but every year you tell yourself the same thing and have yet to make progress.
  • Example Action Plan B- Schedule an appointment with a nutrition expert like a Registered Dietitian (RD). RD’s can help you find realistic solutions to your nutrition plan and teach you how and why to eat healthy long-term so you never have to “diet” again.
  • Example Goal C- You want to start going to the gym on a regular basis but don’t know how to use the machines or what exercises to do when you get there. 
  • Example Action Plan C-  Invest in a personal trainer who can teach you the fundamentals and proper form. By working with a trainer you will stay motivated and on track longer than expected and your likelihood of developing an injury decreases significantly. 

What: “What” is also the “How”. This is the meat of the action steps and when developing these you must remember the quote, “Success is in the details” so the more you think this through the better off you’ll be. Read through the progression and you will learn to understand how goal C will most likely produce results in the long run.

  • Example Goal A- “I will eat more vegetables.”
  • Example Action Plan A- “I will add a side salad to dinner each night.”
  • Example Goal B- “I will eat 5 servings of vegetables each day.”
  • Example Action Plan B- “I will snack on cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, or snap peas each day and fill half of my dinner plate with cooked greens.”
  • Example Goal C- “I will eat 5 servings of vegetables each day.”
  • Example Action Plan C- “Sunday’s I will roast broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts so they are ready to add to my lunch and dinner. I will pack snack bags of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and snap peas so they are ready to come with me to work each day. If I don’t have time to cook the vegetables, I will make sure to always have frozen options in my freezer so that they can be ready in 5 minutes or less to add to any meal. I’ll purchase bags of salad that are ready to eat since I don’t want to waste time washing, cutting, and prepping when I get home from a long, tiring day at work.

The more specific you are, the better however when you begin to take action don’t get caught up in the details. This activity is meant to prepare you, get you thinking, and planning ahead, but you will have times where the plan doesn’t go as anticipated so you must be ready to adjust in such times. That does not mean choose the cheeseburger and french fries when vegetables aren’t available, it means do the best you can in that moment and make every effort to follow through the next time.

When: “When” is putting a time frame to your goal(s). We know the BIG goal is set for January 2019 but what are the small goals that will help you get there? It can be overwhelming to think of all that you need to accomplish in 12 months so I suggest breaking it down into 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, and 9 month segments.

  • Example Goal A- You have 50 pounds to lose this year.
  • Example Action Plan A- You will aim to lose about 4 pounds per month, which is about 1 pound per week so by April 2018 you would be 12 pounds lighter, by July 2018 you would be 24 pounds lighter, by October 2018 you would be 36 pounds lighter, and by January 2019 you would have reached your weight loss goal of 50 pounds.

It won’t go perfectly but when the weight comes off it will stay off when done in small, progressive increments. I don’t know about you but just the thought of losing one pound per week sounds a whole lot less intimidating than losing 50 pounds!

Where: “Where” do you need to be to help your goals become a reality. The gym? The home? Are you working later than your scheduled time and that’s why you’re not able to make it to that gym class you’ve been wanting to take? Do you surround yourself with temptations in the home? Do you need to remove the candy dish from the work office? Do you need to create a workout space in your living room? Do you need to spend more time in the kitchen? These are all questions you should be asking yourself to find the answers to success!

Why: Your “Why” is the most important “W”. This is what will keep you going and achieving your goals. The second you forget about your why, is the same second you stop trying. The quote that comes to mind when discussing your why is this: “Our desire to change must outweigh our desire to stay the same.” When we want something to change we do everything in our power to change it because it matters to us. I can think of hundreds of more cliche quotes to describe why the “why” is so important to figure out, but rather than dragging on this article I’ll just refer you to one of my earlier post that describes this segment in greater detail: Finding Your Why.

Once you have clearly defined your 5 “W’s” and have written them down, I want you to put that piece of paper in a location that you can look at on a regular basis, if not daily. In the beginning you’ll feel motivated and ready but by February/March you’ll be finding these changes are hard to stick to. If that’s the case, review the steps you are taking to get there and ask yourself:

  • Are they timely and realistic?
  • Am I taking extreme measures to reach my goals?
  • Do I need to put less pressure on myself?
  • Do I need to be more disciplined and structured?
  • Do I still want the big goal?

Your goals may need to be tweaked along the way and that is okay. If you need help developing or following through with your health goals I am more than happy to provide you with guidelines and strategies. Send me an e-mail to TipsWithToni@gmail.com and let’s chat about it. 2018 is your year. Grasp it, control it, and make it your healthiest year yet!

Want to hear how I explain these tips? Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and watch it here: Making 2018 Your Healthiest Year Yet.

How To Get Back On Track After The Holidays

back on track pic

After over eating throughout the holiday season you may be tempted to go on a fast or juice cleanse, but let me caution you not to. Why not? Because if you continue to over and under eat it will only keep you in the cycle of perpetual dieting. As a Registered Dietitian I do not want you to “diet” even though the word is in my name. What I want is for you to change the way you think about eating in general and change what your day-to-day diet consists of to align with your personal health goals. There are very few “good” or “bad” foods, but there are foods we should aim to eat more of and foods we should eat less of; the sooner you accept that and practice that, the better off you’ll be. Regardless I am sure you are feeling bloated, sluggish, and disappointed from indulging over these past few weeks so knowing that I am going to give you 5 simple tips to help you start feeling like yourself again. My only request is that after you do these 5 things, you begin to practice the fundamentals to a healthy lifestyle, rid yourself of dieting, and finally commit to wellness.

  1. Out of sight, out of mind: There are probably leftover holiday meals and desserts lurking in your refrigerator and since you’ve enjoyed them it is now time to get rid of them. If you have an issue with wasting or throwing away food then give it to family or friends so you’re not tempting to eat it again.
  2. Stay hydrated with water: Chances are you are feeling bloated from all the added sodium in the foods prepared so the best way to rid that feeling is to drink plenty of water. Initially you’ll still feel bloated, but when you have drunken enough the bloat will go down. Want to make sure you are drinking enough? Check the color of your urine, if it’s a dark yellow, drink more water, if it’s pale yellow or clear, you’re fully hydrated and should start to feel better soon!
  3. Do not skip meals: Instead have smaller well balanced meals and limit foods with added salt, fat, sugar, sauces, and gravies. These foods may make you feel even more lethargic.
  4. Get active: Rather than restricting calories by under eating, take a group fitness class, go to the gym, or go for a walk to burn it off. Some physical activity will also make you feel more energized and can alleviate that sluggish feeling.
  5. Forgive yourself: We cannot change the past. What’s done is done so now it’s up to you to learn from it. You are capable of getting back on track. With a little planning and dietary adjustments you’ll be feeling better in no time!

 

For more on-on-one help, e-mail me today at TipsWithToni@gmail.com.

Wine or a Brownie?

As a Registered Dietitian I am constantly asked questions about nutrition and I think many of you probably share similar questions so here is the latest one: “What is a better cheat day choice? A glass of wine or a brownie?”

wine-and-brownie

First things first, I don’t believe in cheat days. I think every day you should try your best to make a majority (about 80%) of your food choices healthy, but if I had to answer this is what I’d say:

You’ve been eating healthy, following a meal plan, exercising regularly, and feeling awesome but then… you go to a party and there is unlimited amounts of wine and brownies for dessert. So which do you choose? Which choice would be the somewhat better option for your cheat day? As a Registered Dietitian aware of the heart healthy benefits of a 5oz glass of wine per day, I would have to say that wine is a better choice. Of course like any decision it is most dependent on the person, but if the options truly are a 5oz glass of wine versus one brownie, then the answer is wine. Why? Brownies can be prepared in multiple different ways; was it made with sugar? how much butter? all purpose flour? All of these factors can vary the nutrition composition drastically. However, a glass of wine is just wine, so therefore it will be approximately 120 calories; where as a brownie can range anywhere from 150-400 calories dependent on the size and ingredients. Regardless, the most important question to ask yourself is this: Can you have just one? If one glass of wine makes your will power and self control go out the window then you may want to reconsider and choose the brownie.  

Hang tight for my post about the 80/20 rule when making the best food choices to help you stick to a healthy lifestyle rather than a diet plan.

*Post coming soon*

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

 

poblano-stuffed-peppers

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 poblano peppers, washed, sliced in half (lengthwise), de-seeded
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium sized tomato, washed cut and chopped
  • 1 (15oz) can of corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15oz) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Place vegetable broth in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to boil. Add rice, reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes (don’t cook all of the way because the moisture will get absorbed when baked in the oven.)
  3. Place 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat, saute garlic until fragrant, add chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 3 minutes then add corn and kidney beans. Cook for another 3 more minutes then turn off heat.
  4. When rice is done being cooked, add vegetable mix and remaining olive oil.
  5. Place pepper halves in a non-stick baking pan. Divide rice and vegetable mixture into each pepper, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Getting Motivated & Staying Motivated in your Workout Routines!

Are you a gym rat one week and a couch potato the next? If so you are not alone. A lot of people who are new to exercise start out strong in the beginning and eventually work out less and less as time goes on. This usually happens due to a number of reasons:

  1. Sore muscles and fatigue. When your body is not used to moving and pushing so hard it will feel sore and achy. Without proper rest, nutrition, and hydration eventually your body quits because it has been pushed to its limit and has had enough!
  2. Boredom. If you’re wondering what to make for dinner or what you’re going to do after work in the middle of your workout then it may be time to switch up your routine.
  3. Not seeing results. The expectation to see a significant change in body weight in 2 weeks time is not realistic. Pay more attention to the way you feel and if the result is positive (like feeling energized and strong) then use that as a reason to continue.
  4. Life. Sometimes as much as we try to put ourselves first, work, family, and friends can stand in our way. Are the people you associate with supporting you or draining you? It may be time to move yourself up on the priority list because your health and happiness is just as important as theirs!

I could go on and on about the barriers to exercise, but instead of giving you more reasons why its hard to stick to an exercise plan, I rather give you 8 reasons about how you can:

  1. Make a date. Schedule your exercise times like you schedule going to school, work, or a doctor’s appointment. When you set the days and times for the week you are twice as likely to get there.
  2. Be realistic. With that being said (scheduling your workouts), be honest with yourself. If you know that you are not a morning person then don’t plan on taking the 5AM spin class. Instead look for times that work best for you. For example, if you get out of work at 5PM, then a 6PM spin class might be more achievable.
  3. Dress the part. Exercise is best in athletic clothing, socks, and sneakers. Oh and if you have long hair don’t forget your hair tie! Nothing is more annoying than sweaty hair dripping or slapping you in the face in the middle of burpees.
  4. Plan ahead. Going off of my tips about making a date, being realistic, and dressing the part; leave a spare gym bag in your car or locker so that you don’t have an excuse to stop home after work before your gym session. The chances of you wanting to go back out upon stoping hoping after work are slim to none so plan and prepare to go to the gym straight from work!
  5. Make an awesome playlist. It may be time to update your iTunes or Music library with whatever songs make you feel pumped up and energized. If you don’t download music try different Pandora stations or YouTube channels.
  6. Get a fitness app. Some people use a FitBit to track their steps or heart beat and others use smart phone apps like Pacer. Whatever you choose, having an app to track your progress can be a useful tool in motivating you to push a little harder than you usually do.
  7. Change up your routine. If you’re getting bored or not seeing results it’s time for you to seek guidance from someone or something new. Try taking a new workout class, look up some ideas on YouTube or schedule an appointment with a personal trainer. Even if the class or training sessions are not something you see yourself committing to, you may learn something that you can apply to your fitness regimen!

class-pass

8. Be clear about your goals. We often “fall off” or “fall behind” because we have lost sight of why we started in the first place. Exercise is important and should be a part of most individuals lifestyle however the amount, time, and energy to put in is up to you. Are you trying to look good in your clothes? Are you trying to prevent or treat a chronic illness? Maybe you just like to feel good and exercising makes you happy. Whatever the reason is, it is important to define and get clear about WHY it is most important to you. When you know why, remind yourself of why. Why did you get started? Why do you want to continue? What will happen if you don’t? When you know why then update your goals and develop a appropriate plans and strategies about HOW you are going to get there.

The recap: If you are new to exercise start slow. There’s no need to push your body to the point of exhaustion. First, get into the habit of exercising consistently; i.e. going to the gym three times per week for about 3 weeks. Once you’ve mastered that task then begin to explore new routines or possibly add another day of exercise to your weekly schedule. Keep in mind that small progress is still progress and if anything sometimes the best progress! Committing to a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, but the benefits are outstanding and eventually those “challenges” become a part of the triumphant soldier that you are.

 

Beauty in Simplicity

peppers

In the era of the “foodie” we get caught up in eating the next blog worthy dish, however some of the most simple dishes provide the most nutrition. Take the picture above as an example: mini red and orange bell peppers. One ingredient, no additives, nothing artificial, just peppers. Although the description may sound boring this food is jam packed with excitement. One cup of red and orange bell peppers contains over 115mg of vitamin c; double the amount found in a small orange. When looking for a light, sweet, and crunchy snack or salad topper, add some sliced bell peppers!

Regardless of what you’re choosing to eat remember the ingredient list. Can you read it? Can you pronounce each word? Was the ingredient made in a lab? Today’s fast paced, world is all about eating quickly and on-the-go which makes it challenging to consume 100% fresh, no preservative ingredients. Although it is safe to consume small amounts of preservatives and additives it is important to ask yourself just how much of your diet is truly real food. When you stop and think back on your usual day-to-day, week-to-week diet and realize that more than 50% of what you eat comes in the form of processed foods your health might be in jeopardy. When at least 75% of the diet consists of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains, your risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cancer goes down significantly.

So the next time you are thinking of going out to eat or grabbing the complete dinner meal that looks and smells so good, stop and ask yourself if this is something you can prepare on your own. If the answer is yes then stop yourself from making that impulse decision and go home instead. When you get there have some fun and make a ton! Whatever you don’t eat place in a tightly sealed container, consume within 3 days or freeze for another week you find yourself with little time to prepare a meal. Cooking at home is a great way to control portion sizes, money spent, and most importantly the ingredient list.