The Breakfast Habit

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  How many times have you heard that before?  But how many of us actually take time to eat breakfast? Research shows that over 60% of people skip breakfast at least 3 times a week or more.

Study after study shows that breakfast is helpful in so many ways.

Here are 2 compelling reasons:

  1. Improves cognitive function and academic performance
    1. You’ll be more productive in your morning meetings or classes
    2. You’ll have better glucose control all day long
  1. Better weight management.  You’ll be…
    1. Less likely to crave unhealthy snacks later in the day
    2. More likely to have a better quality diet

According to the national weight loss registry 78% eat breakfast every day.

What should you eat for breakfast?  Lets talk specifically protein.

Protein at breakfast can help to suppress hunger hormones later in the day, those Ghrelin (I like to call them the gremlin hormones which that trigger you to eat)

Just 15-20 grams at breakfast should do the trick

Here are my top breakfast ideas that have at least 15 grams of protein and between 300-500 calories for either morning style sit down or running around.

Sit down ideas

  1. 2 egg omelet loaded with ¾ cup of chopped onions and red peppers sprinkled with a handful of cheese
  2. Greek yogurt with mixed berries

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Walking out the door

  1. Whole wheat tortilla with a chicken sausage
  2. Kind bar, small piece of fruit and a hard boiled egg
  3. When traveling Starbucks is a great answer order up an oatmeal and latte or one of their new breakfast sandwiches.

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Now like a said you’ve probably heard it all before.  What’s harder is the action!!!

Even here at Google with free onsite cafes’ serving up made to order omelets, freshly baked scones, and steel cut oatmeal many of my clients still can’t find the time.  Here’s how to make this change in your diet:

  1. Plan ahead, have your signature breakfast items on hand
  2. You may need to reset your alarm for 5-10 minutes earlier
  3. Make a commitment, write it down or tell somebody your new goal

Tell me what your favorite breakfast foods are?

 

 

 

Signature Meals Part II

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Signature Meals Part II-Take out

After work as you’re driving home, you realize you’re  starving…  What should you eat for dinner, pizza, a burrito, Chinese food?   I’m guessing a freshly prepared salad with homemade dressing and crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes and thinly sliced carrots is not at the top of that list.  That is why it is so important to create your own signature meals that are easy to make and delicious for you and your family.

You don’t have to be a professional chef to have great signature meals in fact signature meals don’t even have to be prepared by you!  The idea is to have some ideas for healthy meals that you know you love and make you feel good because they are packed with nutrient rich ingredients.

Signature take out meals are tasty, nutritious, and satisfying.  These meals should be on your drive home so you can make a quick pick up on the way home if you just don’t want to cook or didn’t prep food earlier in the week.

I’ll share with you my top 5 signature take out meals:

  1. Grocery store
    1. rotisserie chicken, corn tortillas, salsa, shredded cheese and lettuce
    2. sushi rolls from the deli and edamame
  2. Favorite Pizza Restaurant
    1. Thin crust pizza topped with veggies, lean meats like chicken or shrimp.   Make sure you pick up a large salad.
  3. Chinese Food
    1. Steamed brown rice (if available)
    2. Water chestnuts and snow peas
    3. Kung pao chicken
  4. Mexican
    1. Grilled fish, shrimp or chicken tacos (hold the sour cream) add guac, lettuce and lots of salsa
  5. Cheesecake Factory (or any of your favorite restaurants that has nutrition information online!)
    1. Weight management pear and endive salad, simply delicious
    2. side of steamed broccoli and green beans
    3. Grilled fish of the day

What are your top signature meals from take out?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

Create Signature Meals

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Part 1- recipes you make at home

Signature meals are:

  1. Nutritious and delicious
  2. Family favorites
  3. Meals that can be made or prepped ahead of time
  4. Made without the use of a recipe because you’ve made them so many times you don’t need one anymore
  5. Made with ingredients that you have on hand often

Now here are some of my favorite signature meals at home

Breakfast

  1. Veggie omelet with herbs and whole grain toast
  2. Warm oatmeal with dried blueberries and walnuts
  3. Once freshly baked banana muffins secretly frozen for use on busy mornings. Banana oat muffins with toasted pecans (recipe coming soon)

Lunch

  1. Quinoa with zesty lemon and arugula
  2. Asian slaw with sesame soy dressing
  3. Simple whole wheat sandwich with sliced turkey, thick sliced beefsteak tomatoes, and lettuce

Dinner

  1. Sweet Corn Taco Bake
  2. Grilled Salmon, whole grain cous cous and steamed broccoli
  3. Rosemary, herb, dijon chicken with green beans and steamed brown rice

Check back again for more of my signature meals as I continue to add my favorite recipes…

Congratulate yourself EVERY day!

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I like to think in health in terms of the positive.  Feeling good about the things you are doing right can have a positive impact on your mood and health immediately.

Each morning pick something you would like to accomplish to boost your wellbeing.  It can be something you already have scheduled like a yoga or zumba class or it can be something new.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Today I’m going to…

  1. take a hike in the hills around my neighborhood
  2. make my lunch for work and include fresh fruits and lots of veggies to snack on
  3. pick a muscle I want to increase tone to and do 2 strength training exercises
  4. enjoy a cup of tea and fresh berries in the evening as my dessert
  5. take a walk with my family after dinner and watch the sunset
  6. drink water until my pee turns light yellow :)
  7. cut up fresh veggies onions, peppers and make a 2 egg omelet for breakfast to start my day off well
  8. spend 10 minutes listening to relaxing music and stretching
  9. cook grilled fish, whole grains, and vegetables for dinner
  10. go to that spin class I’ve been wanting to go to

At the end of the day with your head snuggled up in your pillow think and congratulate yourself for doing something to help your well being and possibly think about what you will do the next day.  Stop beating yourself up for all the things you didn’t do right in the day and focus on what you are doing well.  You’ll feel better about those habits and make them a more routine part of your life.

Strength Train

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Yes it’s true that if you don’t use your muscles you will lose them.  Starting in your 40′s your muscle tone will start to decrease if you don’t exercise them regularly.  That coupled with the fact that many of us simply don’t do a lot of heavy lifting outside the gym these days is all the more reason to strength train now.

Many of us focus a lot of attention on cardio or maintaining a healthy heart muscle, yet spend much less time working out our other muscles.  Don’t get me wrong cardio is an important component to overall health but so is maintaining that strength.

Here are 10 good reasons to strength train:

  1. Trust me you will feel stronger
  2. Better posture
  3. Less injuries
  4. You burn more calories because muscles are more metabolically active than fat
  5. You’ll be more toned and have a shapelier figure for women and more muscular for men
  6. You’ll improve in your other sports running, cycling, tennis, soccer
  7. Boost your cognitive abilities
  8. Helps keep the heart muscle strong along with your cardio exercise
  9. Helps to strengthen and build bones.
  10. You’ll feel better about yourself

I admit that I was also focusing most of my attention on training for 1/2 marathons with less attention to building good strong leg muscles.  I paid the price by having a knee injury and not being able to run for almost 6 months!  It was tough and I spent a few months in physical therapy strengthening my muscles.  What I did learn was how to build a great habit to strength train.

Now I do a few days of a solid workouts each week and then complement that with almost daily strength training.  I usually do several exercises each day and it doesn’t take a lot of time.  You can do each of these exercises in 10 minutes or less.  Here are some of my favorites from EXOS that only require some weights or other props you can find around your house:

Lower Body

Hip strengthening workout

Squat Jump

Leg Curl Slide

Upper Body

Row

Bench Press

Don’t forget to stretch

 

Creating a Food Journal

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This weeks habit is one that I’ve done on and off.  I have two good reasons for journaling and both are totally different.

First, I’ll start with journaling your food intake so you can keep better track of what and WHY you are eating.  This is a good exercise for a few weeks to find out patterns in your food habits:

  • Am I eating enough fruits and veggies?
  • How many times a day am I actually eating?
  • Do I eat out of boredom?  loneliness? happiness?
  • Exactly haw many times this past week did I decide to “treat”myself to a yummy dessert or piece of dark chocolate.

People who write down what they eat tend to have an easier time losing weight.  However, I know that it can get tedious after a few weeks.  So I like to journal occasionally to get me back on track.  A few good websites for this include: MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers or Lose it!  If  you aren’t concerned with tracking calories and just want to check for eating patterns start a simple spreadsheet.  For the spreadsheet, I add a few columns to track time, hunger level, and any thoughts, feelings or emotions that I’m having.

The second reason I like to track what I’m eating came after taking a food writing course at Stanford.  This class was awesome and taught me to use colorful descriptions when talking about food.  What I noticed most in the class is that most people weren’t health professionals or writing about the nutrition in food, they were writing about the pure joy, love, excitement, and care that goes into thinking, preparing and enjoying food.  I have a journal to write down new variations to recipes I’ve tried, new restaurants I go to and great food ideas from parties.  This allows me to create new exciting recipes on my own.

 

The Hunger Scale

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The Hunger Scale

The next lifestyle change I plan to make is to look at my hunger each time I eat.  Often times we start to eat on auto pilot and forget to actually check in with if we are hungry and how hungry we actually are!

With my clients I often use the hunger scale and ask them how hungry they are at meal times and how full or satisfied do they feel when finished.  What I’ve learned is that those who get very hungry on the scale a level of 1-2 seem to overeat at that meal.  Now if your stomach is growling and you describe yourself at a level 3-4 you are more likely to control food choices and stop eating when you are comfortably satisfied.

Many people have created their own hunger scales, they are all basically the same with slightly different wording this one is from Bob Green’s “The Best Life Diet”

 

HUNGER SCALE
10 – STUFFED: so full that you feel nauseous
9 – VERY UNCOMFORTABLY FULL:
you need to loosen your clothes
8 – UNCOMFORTABLY FULL: you feel bloated
7 – FULL: you feel a little bit uncomfortable
6 – PERFECTLY COMFORTABLE: you feel satisfied
5 – COMFORTABLE: you’re more/less satisfied,
but could eat a little more
4 – SLIGHTLY UNCOMFORTABLE: you’re just
beginning to feel signs of hunger
3 – UNCOMFORTABLE: stomach is rumbling
2 – VERY UNCOMFORTABLE: you feel irritable
& unable to concentrate
1 – WEAK & LIGHT-HEADED: your stomach acid is churning

** Begin eating when you’re at a 3 or 4
** Stop at 5, if you’re trying to lose weight
** Stop at 6, if you’re wanting to maintain your weight

Now I’d like to do this for at least one month and really make note of how I’m eating.  When I do try this I realize that sometimes I’m eating out of habit or even fear that I’ll get busy and won’t be able to eat for several more hours.  I’ve learned that by following this scale and tuning into my bodies clues for hunger and fullness I feel a lot better over the course of the day and end up eating less more nutritious food.

I’d love to hear your journey in trying out the hunger scale

Drink Just a Little More Water

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Hydration is so important to good health.  Did you know that over 70% of your body is made up of water?  Being properly hydrated can  not only aid in weight loss but also boost physical and mental performance.  So why do so many of us seem to be falling short of our water needs and just what are they?  A good rule of thumb is to take your body weight and multiply by ½ to 1 oz., this is the amount of water you need in a day.

My habit is to increase the amount of water I get on a daily basis.  I plan to do 2 things; First is to have 1 glass of water after I brush my teeth.  This will lead to 2 glasses a day.  The second is to have a glass of water with each meal, 3 more glasses a day.  I hope this will help me to live with less days of chapped lips and dry skin.

 

Walk 10,000 Steps a Day

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The second habit I am starting is about movement.  I will walk 10,000 steps on average per day,  I actually have to admit this habit I did start the week after Christmas.  I dusted off my Fitbit and started wearing it again.  The Fitbit is similar to a pedometer in that it tracks how many steps you take, but it tracks everything wirelessly and even tracks elevation and sleep patterns.

The goal of 10,000 steps means that you will walk at least 5 miles that day.

I’ve discovered by making 10,000 steps most days that it takes about one 20-30 minute walk and being relatively active during the day.  On my work days at Google when I am sitting and meeting with clients most the day, I sometimes will only clock 3,000 steps by the end of the workday.  In this case, I’d need to head to the hills for a nice 45 minute hike to make up for the extra sitting.

Here are some strategies to make sure you don’t end up at 3,000 steps at 5pm or can make up for them by the end of the day.

  • Park a little further away at work
  • Take the stairs whenever you can
  • Walk to lunch if you have options close by, if your at Google take a walk over to a neighboring buildings café (at last count Google has over 27 cafes in the Mountain view campus)
  • Take a walk at work (I like to take a walk after lunch to help keep blood sugars in check)
  • Take an afternoon walk for 10 minutes especially when you get the urge for something sweet, see how you feel after your walk if you are still craving that treat.
  • Be active around the house clean up a little, wash some laundry, organize something (you’ll get 2 benefits out of this movement and a cleaner house)
  • Take your dog for a walk or take a simple walk around the block and wave to your neighbors
  • Turn on some music and dance a little (honestly I’ve done this many times in the evening for 15 minutes or so when I ‘m pretty close to my goal but not quite there yet)

Get out there and move more!

Fitbit One

Going Vegetarian for a Month

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Habit number #1 is a big change for me.  I decided to join the Quantified Diet project which is a 4 week trail studying 10 popular diets trends.  I was randomly assigned to the Vegetarian Diet.

Now, I was planning on doing some sort of a cleansing diet for the first few weeks of the year, so being assigned this diet is perfect.   I plan to be fairly strict on the plan the first few weeks and eliminate dairy as well, I’ll still eat eggs.  The reason I’ll eliminate dairy, is not because I’ think its bad for you, but I do consume most of my saturated fats in this area; 1% milk, butter, cream cheese, and cheese to name a few.

The diet is being run from the team at Lift, which is a app that allows you to track goals you are welcome to follow my weekly journey there.

After the 4 week trial is over, I plan to continue to eat vegetarian at least one meal per day.


Disclaimer

Stephanie Lasher is a registered dietitian. Information contained on this site should not be used to diagnose medical conditions. Persons with serious health issues should consult a physician before undertaking any new diet or exercise plan.