Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Physical Activity and Summer Sojourning

Last week we took a look at healthy eating while you're vacationing this summer. Of course, healthy eating is important, but it's only part of the equation when we're talking about successful weight management. The other critical element, of course, is physical activity -- and squeezing it in can be a real challenge when you're traveling or hosting guests.

That said, it can be done. I've worked with clients who have gone on cruises, road trips, vacations, and hosted guests for weeks on end, and they lost weight while doing it!

What's their secret to success? Simple: Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can't. Here are some suggestions to get you thinking about what you can do, regardless of where you are or what you're doing this summer:

  • Walk more. Whether you're hosting family and friends, on a cruise ship, or on a road trip, there are always opportunities to walk more. Organize a walk or a hike; take (or host) a walking tour; avoid the elevator and take the stairs; take advantage of pit stops and go for a short walk.
  • Make physical activity fun. Get out in the back yard with the kids and play some basketball, swim in the ocean or the pool, or organize a water balloon fight. Encourage other adults to get up and have some fun with you!
  • Take a class. If you're on a cruise, visiting friends or family, or in a hotel, research possible exercise classes. Ask family or friends if you can take advantage of a visitor's pass and join them at their class. That way, you both stay on track with physical activity!
  • Hit the gym. Your local gym may not be available where you are, but chances are good there's a gym nearby. If you're visiting family or friends, staying in a hotel, or you're going on a cruise, you'll likely have access to a gym. Many gyms also offer a free one-day pass.
  • Plan ahead, and be flexible. If you have family or friends staying with you, think ahead to days and times when you'll have an opportunity to squeeze in a workout. If you can't get in your usual yoga class or hour-long walk, don't sweat it. Go for a walk for as long as you can, or replace your workout with a fun activity that gets you up and moving. Remember, the focus is on what you can do.
Now it's your turn! What are your tips and tricks for successful weight management while you're out and about during the summer? Post below and let us know! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Healthy Eating and Summer Sojourning

For many people, summertime means vacation time! That should mean time to relax and unwind, reconnect with family and friends, or explore and adventure far from home.

What I hear from students and clients, though, is that summer is far from stress-free, as far as weight management is concerned. Summer vacations, traveling, staying with friends and family, or hosting visitors can make it challenging to maintain healthy habits.

In particular, students and clients worry about what they can do to maintain their healthy eating habits. This can be especially challenging if you're staying with friends or family members who don't share your perspectives when it comes to healthy eating. So, what you can do? Here are some ideas to help you stay on track with your eating habits, no matter where you sojourn this summer.

You may not have any say-so over what you eat while you're out on the road, staying with friends or family, or traveling in a foreign country. That does not mean you're powerless! You still have choices about when, how much, and why you eat. Eat only when you're hungry, and stop when you're satisfied. Use assertive communication to set limits. Be aware of portion sizes. Manage your emotions away from the table. In short, work all of your weight management skills and tools -- don't rely on healthy food choices alone.

That said, make it your goal to focus on the healthiest foods available at any particular meal or snack. Yes, you may be choosing between the lesser of two evils -- but it's still the lesser, so choose wisely!

Whenever possible, make half your meal fruits and non-starchy veggies. That said, fruits and non-starchy veggies can be hard to find when you're out on the road. Consider bringing it with you whenever you can, or plan ahead to purchase it when you arrive. When I visit my family-in-law, I bring a small cooler and stuff it with non-starchy veggies and lowered-fat dips. My family-in-law enjoys noshing with me, and they dive right in! I plan ahead for trips to the grocery store or farmer's market (which can be an exciting adventure unto itself) to restock my non-starchy veggie supply.

Be especially aware of what you drink, as well as what you eat. Make water your go-to beverage, and plan ahead for how you'll have water with you wherever you go. Sodas, juices, and alcoholic beverages won't keep you hydrated the way water does, and the calories add up all-too-quickly.

Next week, we'll take a look at ways to work in physical activity, no matter where your travels take you this summer. In the meantime, if you have a tip for managing healthy eating while you're out and about during the summer, post below and let us know! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top 5 Tips for Establishing Healthy New Habits

Have you ever noticed that most day-to-day behaviors are actually habits? What we eat and drink, how we manage stress, what we do when we come home from work, when and what we do before we go to bed -- these, and many other behaviors, are well-established habits. Clearly, successful long-term weight management depends on establishing healthy habits. 

So, how long do you think it takes to establish a new habit? I've had many students in my online weight loss class tell me they think it'll take anywhere from seven to twenty-one days to change up their behavior permanently. Unfortunately, research begs to differ: Scientists have found that making new behavior a habit can take anywhere from four to six months. So, what can you do to encourage success as you establish new habits? Give these tips a try:

Donna's Top 5 Tips for Establishing Healthy Habits
  1. Although it takes time to create change, it's easier to make change happen by starting with short-term goals. Depending on the goal, you may want to make your goal as short as one day, or as long as a week or two. As you're planning your goal...
  2. Think back to times when you've tried to make change. What got in your way? Think ahead to challenges you may encounter, and plan ahead for those challenges. But don't make the challenges your focus...
  3. Keep your focus on your goal. Falling short of your goal is nothing more than an obstacle. Don't dwell on it, or let it keep you from trying again. Learn from what happened, re-establish your goals based on your new self-knowledge, and then...
  4. Celebrate all of your successes, no matter how small. Remember, change isn't easy. In fact, just being willing to change is a big step, one worthy of celebrating. Treat yourself to a little tangible non-food reward, tell a friend, or praise yourself. But don't stop at celebrating...
  5. Plan ahead for establishing your next goal, and stick with this for at least six months. Put the day and time in your calendar, and keep your appointment with yourself. Because you're connecting many short-term goals together, following through is critical.
Don't be shy about using other skills and tools for establishing healthy new habits, like the power of positive self-talk and affirmations to reach your goals. At the end of the day, though, developing short-term goals, enjoying success, and gradually connecting one short-term goal to the next, until the behaviors are habits, is the path to creating lasting behavior change.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Cinnamon-Chipotle Rub

Several years ago, my husband found a new rub for chicken at the grocery store, and tried it out on boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I was immediately smitten with the rub's intriguing combination of sweet cinnamon and spicy chipotle, which married perfectly with the savory richness of chicken thighs.

Unfortunately, the first ingredient was salt. Just two teaspoons of the rub contained 500 milligrams (21% DV) of sodium! If you've taken "Luscious," you know I don't use salt in cooking, and I choose lower-sodium options whenever I can.

So, after a bit of experimenting, I developed my own salt-free cinnamon-chipotle rub. It offers all the flavor intrigue of the original--without providing all the sodium. (I didn't include maltodextrin, vinegar solids, or modified corn starch, either.) My taste testers unanimously preferred my version to the original, noting "I can taste the flavors instead of mostly just salt."

Spicy Cinnamon-Chipotle Rub

The word "spicy" is in the title for a reason! --this recipe is on the spicy side. If you prefer your meals mild-not-wild, reduce the amount of chipotle chili pepper powder. 


6 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute, such as Splenda
6 tablespoons ground paprika
2 tablespoons chipotle chili pepper powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
5 dashes fresh-ground peppercorn mix


Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and mix well. Makes enough rub for 6 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.