How much healthier is "healthy fast food"? My interest was sparked again this week with a new McDonald's commercial for the Egg White McMuffin. Egg whites have become the trend recently as a healthier food. The truth is, eggs are not unhealthy unless you eat a dozen a day, or you're trying to control cholesterol.
So how does the new "healthier" option stack up against the original? McDonald's Egg White McMuffin is made with grilled egg whites (grilled on the same grill as their burgers?), Canadian bacon, and pasturized processed white cheddar (makes me think Velveeta...yuck). It has 250 calories, 18g protein, 7g fat, 32g carbs, and 800mg sodium.
A regular Egg McMuffin is made with egg, Canadian bacon, and American cheddar. It contains 300 calories, 18g protein, 12g fat, 32g carbs, and 780mg sodium. Not much difference and A LOT of sodium!
Here's a healthier option. Wake up a few minutes earlier and have breakfast at home, or make your own breakfast sandwich the night before to take with you. Eating out will always result in more calories due to cooking methods. Preparing your own means YOU control what goes into your meal.
I'm not saying you should never eat out, but we've become a society of drive-thru's, quick fixes, and lack of time due lifestyles that ARE under our control. If you do choose fast food on occasion, check out http://www.wfubmc.edu/Drive-Thru-Diet.htm. This website from Wake Forest University lists a number of popular restaurants. Select the restaurant and the food to get a listing of calories, fat, etc. It will also recommend healthier options to choose.
Don't be fooled by advertisements. A smart consumer is a healthy consumer!
As I listened to this story on National Public Radio, I was concerned about the number of children who have strokes. Sickle Cell disease is listed as the number one reason for childhood strokes, along with heart defects, infections, and malformations of blood vessels in the brain. However, what shocked me most was the fact that childhood obesity and related adult diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure is quickly becoming a cause.
If it isn't bad enough that our kids are being put on medication for PREVENTABLE adult diseases such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, now we have strokes added to the list! I don't know about you but having a stroke scares the hell out of me. I worked in an Inpatient Physical Rehab unit at a local hospital and I saw firsthand what strokes do to people. Strokes hit suddenly and without symptoms. People are often left unable to walk, talk, go to the bathroom on their own, or do any normal activities of daily living. Months are often spent relearning these things that we take for granted.
If obesity is a growing cause of childhood strokes and obesity IS preventable, then let's get serious about this problem and take charge of our kids' lives like we are supposed to as adults and parents. Just this week, I read a story about a 9 year old girl who weight 196 pounds. Thankfully she lost 66 pounds, but my thought was how did the parents and her doctor let her get to that point? Wasn't anyone concerned about this when she reached 100 pounds? As a 9 year old or younger child, she wasn't buying groceries or hopefully making rules in the house. Stop trying to be your child's friend and give them everything they want. Going to McDonald's every night or giving candy and soda to your kid every time they throw a fit isn't helping them, it's hurting them. As a parent, I would never want to see my child suffer the effects of a stroke. I don't care if they think I'm a horrible parent because I don't keep junk food in the house. I AM THE PARENT!
We know that exercise and living a healthy lifestyle is good for us. It improves our physical health, affects our mental health by reducing stress and depression, and improves our body. So why do so many of us struggle with staying on an exercise program or staying away from high sugar, high fat, and high sodium foods?
The answer may be in your mind. Your attitude, your words, your emotions all affect what you do. Think of a professional athlete....Olympics caliber. If she is getting ready for a game, she doesn't tell herself "the competition is tough, I don't think I can win, I didn't train for this, the other team is going to run all over us." If she told herself that, she'd be sure to lose. So why do we tell ourselves, "I always fail at eating right, I can't stay away from sweets, I always start exercise programs but give up after a few weeks, I'm desitined to be overweight."?
If you change your attitude and change your words, you could change your life! How about telling yourself you can succeed? It may take some time, you may be taking baby steps, and you may have setbacks but you will continue to work toward your goals. The one thing we have control of in our life is our attitude. People with positive attitudes make positive things happen and you can too!
Spring is the time for vacations. Whether you are traveling close to home or far away, it is important to stick with your exercise program. Although many hotels offer fitness centers, the equipment may be limited or not in the best shape. With exercise tubing and bodyweight exercises, you can get a great strength workout in the privacy of your hotel room.
Exercise tubing is my equipment of choice when I travel. Tubing is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to pack in a suitcase. Tubing can be purchased at any department store or sporting goods store and comes in a variety of resistance levels, from light resistance to extra heavy. The color of the tubing indicates the level of resistance. Be aware that different manufacturers use different colors, so look for the resistance level. The resistance level is indicated on the package. Beginners should start with the light resistance tube.
An example of a total body workout using the tubing and bodyweight exercises would be as follows:
For the back muscles, use the tubing to perform a Bent-Over Row.
Move to the chest with Push-Ups or Wall Push-Ups.
Next, work the shoulders with an Overhead Shoulder Press using the tubing.
Follow up with a Bicep Curl, then a Tricep Extension with the tubing.
For the legs, perform squats without the tubing, or place the tubing under the feet for additional resistance.
Finish up with crunches or planks for the abdominals.
If cardiovascular equipment is not available at the hotel or you are not comfortable going for a walk or run outside the hotel, get the heart rate up by performing jumping jacks or jogging in place.
Ok, I haven't been up to date on my blog posts for the No Sugar Challenge. However, I am happy to say that I completed the entire month of January with no refined sugar! Here is my summary of how the month of January went, and how the month of February is starting out.
It was definately more difficult in the beginning, as it is with quitting any habit. My senses were highly tuned to any aroma of baked goods! I did well with substituting fruit or a mug of hot tea with a little honey. I would say my biggest ally (and sometimes my enemy) was my mind. Making this a willpower and determination challenge was my key. I don't like to lose and I definately don't like to be a quitter. I began to think of having a "little something sweet" as giving up. I can be a very stubborn person when I set my mind to something!
Changing a habit takes more willpower than we give credit for. It isn't about just saying no to seconds, or to sitting on the sofa all day, or to dessert. It is about not giving up on a goal. If you have a goal to lose weight, to exercise, to be healthier....don't give up. Get your mind made up that you are in a battle and you are not going to give up or give in.
How did I feel for the 31 days? Fantastic! My energy didn't fluctuate and I believe I didn't have the muscle aches and pains that I sometimes experience. How do I feel now that I had that "something sweet" with February's arrival? My first treat wasn't so much of a treat. It tasted good a first, but it wasn't worth the stomach ache I had after, or the headache and low energy that I had the next day.
I think I like the idea of being "sugar-free". Will I indulge from time to time? Probably. However, I think I will be more satisfied with a bite or two than the entire piece of cake. When you realize how good you can feel, those sugar and calorie laden treats just don't look as good.
I made it through the weekend without sugar! It wasn't easy. The temptations were all around me at the grocery store, when watching a movie, even at the clothing store! I've been eating fresh fruit or plain Greek yogurt with a little fruit when I need something "a little sweet".
I have become even more aware at how many food triggers are out there, especially when it comes to junk food. The displays at the store scream out "look at me, I look delicious!" Television ads seem to be about 75% food related and they aren't advertising apples and broccoli! It takes a lot of willpower, but I am determined to win this challenge against myself! You can win your own challenge too!
I'm still doing well on my no-refined sugar goal. Yesterday afternoon my craving kicked in, but I mananged to control it with a healthy (no sugar) protein shake. My challenge will be the upcoming weekend. I'm planning to stock up on fresh fruit such as clementines, apples and mangoes. A little sweet, but a lot of nutrition!
I'm doing well on the challenge, although I have been tempted! A good cup of tea seems to curb the craving. Since my husband is from Scotland, I've become used to tea and biscuits (cookies). Now its just the tea, much to his disappointment!
Evenings seem to be my "trigger time". Maybe some of you have those trigger times to reach for the sweets or snack when you really aren't hungry. I'm trying to figure out if this is out of habit, or because it's the end of the day and the stress level may be a little high. Hmm, will have to keep investigating this one!
As a personal trainer, my clients share their struggles with me. Whether it is eating habits, confidence, or lack of motivation, my job is to encourage. I often share my own struggles too. I think that makes me more "human". I am definately not the perfect health and fitness specimen. One of my struggles is with sugar.
Growing up, candy and sugary foods were comfort. My mom loved sweets too so anytime I had a treat it was sugar-laden. As time has passed, I usually do well in controlling my sugar intake. I don't eat candy or drink soda, but when the stress level increases or emotions are running high I can still find myself reaching for cookies or baked goods for comfort. I married a self-confessed sugar addict and will bake for him, but help myself to the treats. I admit I am an emotional eater and sugar plays right into that.
The worst part about it is that sugar makes me feel horrible. After eating sugar-laden foods of any kind, I can experience headaches, stomach aches and general fatigue. I often wake up the next morning with a "sugar hangover". My energy level is sluggish all day and I believe it affects the arthritis that I have in my neck and shoulders.
So with all of that said, I've decided that I am fasting from sugar for the month of January. 31 days of no refined sugar will be a challenge, especially when the hormones kick in! However, I know I will feel better mentally and physically. Many studies have shown that sugar has the same addictive properties of drugs. I do believe that from my own struggles and the struggles that many of my clients and family members have with sugar.
I will blog my setbacks, struggles, and accomplishments as I go. I invite you to join me on this journey. Post your own struggles on my blog or on my Facebook page and we will encourage each other!
As I've been thinking this month on everything and everyone I am thankful for, I realized that one of the things I am thankful for are setbacks. We see setbacks as failures, but I'm seeing them as teachers....and a chance to start again. I had the visual of the little Matchbox type race cars....the ones that you quickly pushed backwards several times to get the car wound up. You would then let it go and the car would take off. I think that's what happens to us. We have to get pushed backwards to get us wound up again to move forward!
Almost a year ago, I had my own setback. I was losing my passion for personal training. I was at a dead end in a job that wouldn't allow me to move forward and was doing nothing to help me to regain that passion. My desire to move forward out of that situation, as well as people who only wanted to keep me from moving up, resulted in termination. Now we would all see that as a serious setback. I did....it was right before Christmas, I was out of a job, I had never been terminated from a job in my life, I didn't know what I was going to do.
Now I see that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me! It lead me to take action, to start my own business, and to begin to inspire people again to be healthy. If that didn't happen, so many of the wonderful people and clients that I have now wouldn't be in my life. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. If we wait and trust, we will often see a positive outcome from each situation. That's often our problem, we don't want to wait. We want to take control NOW!
Be patient with yourself, and most of all be thankful. We can all think of so many that have less than we have. Not just money, but not having your health or worse....your life! Count your blessings every day, not just during the holiday season. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!