Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gainor getting in shape, what you eat before exercise can make the difference between an energetic, perhaps even peppy, workout and a tired, looking-at-your-watch-every-five-minutes workout. Follow these basic guidelines for the best nutrition for weight loss and exercise
Early Morning MunchiesIf you like morning workouts (before your body has a chance to protest), try to nibble on something to avoid feeling dizzy and hungry.
Exercising on an empty stomach,
despite rumors, doesn't necessarily mean you burn more fat, especially if you're too hungry to workout.
Make sure you allow enough time to digest so you avoid a side-stitch or, worse, nausea. Try the following:
By lunchtime, breakfast is probably a faint memory. In order to avoid hunger pains and fatigue during your noon workout, try this:
Best bets: Meal replacement shakes or bars, yogurt, fruit (fresh or dried), oatmeal or a turkey cheese sandwich. My favorite: yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and topped with granola. Yum!
You're on the way to the gym and you're hungry. Does your steering wheel mysteriously turn your car in the direction of the nearest Burger King? That's because lunch was a long time ago and your body is out of gas. Try this:
When you're finished exercising, you need to replace the fluids and nutrients so your body can recover from your workout. Scientific studies can be confusing on exactly what to eat, but generally suggest that eating a balance of carbs, protein and fat in your post workout meal will help your recovery.
By Paige Waehner
Acting tough is about surviving while being strong is about thriving.
Developing mental strength takes a conscious effort, dedication and daily practice. Start with these 10 exercises to work out your mental muscles.
1. Establish goals.
The human brain is naturally predisposed to reach for and achieve goals. And not just one big goal, such as I want to lose 50 pounds. Also set more manageable short-term goals such as I want to work for 30 minutes without checking my phone or I want to reply to all of my emails by noon today.
With each goal you achieve, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to succeed. You’ll also learn to recognize when your goals are unrealistically ambitious and when they’re not challenging enough.
2. Set yourself up for success.
Becoming mentally strong doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to temptations every day. Make your life a little easier by modifying the environment.
If you want to work out in the morning, leave your shoes next to the bed at night and sleep in your gym clothes. If you want to eat healthier, remove the junk food from your pantry. When you set yourself up for success, you won’t exhaust your mental energy trying to resist the urge to sleep in or to dig into a bag of potato chips.
3. Tolerate discomfort for a greater purpose.
Discomfort can lead people to look for unhealthy shortcuts. Rather than deal with a problem, they reach for something that provides immediate emotional relief—drinking a glass of wine or binge-watching their favorite show, for example. But those short-term solutions can often create bigger long-term problems.
Practice tolerating discomfort by reminding yourself of the bigger picture. Push yourself to work on your budget even though it causes you to feel anxious; run on the treadmill when you feel tired—don’t escape the discomfort. The more you tolerate discomfort, the more confidence you’ll have in your ability to do difficult things.
4. Reframe your negative thoughts.
Strive to develop a realistic yet optimistic inner monologue. Reframe catastrophic thoughts, such as This will never work with If I work hard, I’ll improve my chances of success.
You can’t eliminate all of your negative thoughts. Everyone has rough patches and bad days. But by replacing those overly pessimistic thoughts with more realistic expectations, you can stay on course and equip yourself to manage the bad days.
5. Balance your emotions with logic.
You make the best decisions when your emotions and logic are in sync. If all your decisions were emotional, you wouldn’t save for retirement because you’d be too busy spending your money on what makes you happy right now. But if all of your decisions were logical, you’d live a boring life devoid of pleasure, leisure and love.
Whether you’re buying a house or thinking of a career shift, consider the balance between your emotions and logic. If you’re overly excited or especially anxious, write down a list of the pros and cons of moving forward with the decision. Reviewing that list will boost the logical part of your brain and help balance out your emotions.
6. Strive to fulfill your purpose.
It’s hard to stay the course unless you know your overall purpose. Why do you want to earn more money or hone your craft?
Write out a clear and concise mission statementabout what you want to accomplish in life. When you’re struggling to take the next step, remind yourself why it’s important to keep going. Focus on your daily objectives, but make sure those steps you’re taking will get you to a larger goal in the long run.
7. Look for explanations, not excuses.
When you don’t perform as well as expected, examine the reasons why. Look for an explanation to help you do better next time, but don’t make excuses for your behavior.
Take full responsibility for any shortcomings. Don’t blame others or the circumstances for your missteps. Acknowledge and face your mistakes so you can learn from them and avoid repeating them in the future.
8. Do one hard thing every day.
You won’t improve by accident. Purposely challenge yourself. Of course, what’s challenging to you might not be to someone else, so you need to analyze where your comfortable boundaries are.
Then pick something slightly outside those boundaries and take one small step every day. That could mean speaking up for yourself when it’s uncomfortable or enrolling in a class you don’t feel qualified for. Push yourself to become a little better today than you were yesterday.
9. Use the 10-minute rule.
Mental strength won’t magically make you feel motivated all of the time. But it can help you be productive, even when you don’t feel like it.
When you’re tempted to put off something, use the 10-minute rule. When you eye the couch at the time you planned to go for a run, tell yourself to get moving for just 10 minutes. If your mind is still fighting your body after 10 minutes, give yourself permission to quit.
Getting started is often the hardest part. Once you take the first step, you’ll realize it’s not nearly as bad as you predicted, and your other skills can help keep you going.
10. Prove yourself wrong.
The next time you think you can’t do something, prove yourself wrong. Commit to doing one more pushup at the gym or closing one more sale this month.
Your mind will want to quit long before your body needs to give up. Prove to yourself that you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for, and over time, your brain will stop underestimating your potential.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Everyone talks about protein.
After all, we do need protein: it performs a lot of important jobs in the body such as building muscles, organs, and connective tissues, and repairing them all, while playing a role in metabolism, digestion, our immune system, and more.
Luckily, protein is easy to come by — it’s in almost everything we eat.
Most conversations about protein usually start with how important meat, dairy, fish, and eggs are for protein intake, and while they offer quite a lot of protein, they aren’t actually the original source of the essential amino acids we need.
Since animals eat plants to get their protein, when we eat meat we are consuming the bioaccumulation of what was once plants. Therefore, eating plant protein eliminates the middleman, going directly to the source. Vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds all provide protein, just in smaller doses.
Plants are able to assemble all of the different amino acids from carbon dioxide, water, and other minerals absorbed from the air and soil. Animals (including us), however, are not able to do that, so we must attain protein from our food. During digestion, our bodies break apart protein into amino acids, and then reassemble these amino acids to suit our individual needs.
Plants provide adequate protein because most of them contain all of the nine essential amino acids that we can only get from the food we eat. Some plants may not have all nine, but if you eat a wide range of plants, you’ll be sure to consume all of the essential amino acids necessary for good health.
You don’t have to make sure you’re getting all of the complete amino acids in every single meal. Instead, your body digests the food and breaks up the protein into the individual amino acids. Once they are absorbed, your body reassembles them in your cells based on what it needs.
Another cool thing? Your body actually recycles many of its amino acids. It doesn’t want to get rid of them. So whatever you’re eating throughout the week is contributing to your total amino acid profile and allows your body to build the protein it needs, whether it’s building muscle or repairing organs.
If you’re wondering if one protein source is better than another, you’re not alone. Researchers ask the same question and a 2017 study found that plant-based protein is as beneficial to muscle mass and strength as protein from meat. Studies also show that a plant-based diet can help with weight loss, lowering cholesterol levels, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Consider going straight to the source for your protein! Switch out some of your animal protein for plant protein and you’ll be exchanging it for a version of protein that is easier on your body.
This superfood trail mix is full of nuts, seeds, chocolate, and dried fruit that are full of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. The combination is a tasty mix that gives you lasting energy with heart-health benefits. It’s best to eat your superfoods in the context of a balanced, overall healthy diet for the most benefit!
PreparationIngredient Variations and SubstitutionsIf there is an ingredient you don’t care for, leave it out or substitute it with another dried fruit, nut, or seed you like! Roasted or raw almonds, for example, can be swapped out for walnuts, and sunflower seeds for the pepitas. If you can find them, you can also choose dried blueberries or freeze-dried strawberries.
By Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD
These days it's not too hard to find fresh veggies all year round, but if you buy your veggies when they're in season you'll find they have the best flavor and in many cases, will be more affordable. So here's a breakdown of the best times to buy and how to select your favorite vegetables.
Spring: March, April, and May
It's easy to find artichokes in cans or jars, but if you love fresh artichokes, the best season is spring.
Look for artichokes that have tightly closed leaves and no blemishes. They should also feel a little heavy for their size when you hold them. When you take them home, put them in the fridge and use them up within a week.
Fresh tender asparagus is delicious, and it's at its best right now. The stalks should be fresh-smelling and firm, but not woody. Stay away from asparagus that is wilted or looks straggly. Keep asparagus fresh by wrapping the ends with a wet paper towel and put them in a plastic container. Eat them within a week or so.
Such a versatile vegetable, broccoli can be used in salads, side dishes, and stir-fry meals. Choose broccoli that's deep green in color, smells fresh, and isn't wilted. Keep it in the refrigerator and use it up within three or four days before it goes bad.
You'll start to see fresh ears of sweet corn in late spring, although it's more plentiful in the summer.
Choose ears with green husks and look for kernels that are plump and not dehydrated. Take your corn home and put it in the refrigerator and use it up within two or three days for the best flavor.
Simple green beans are always available in cans or frozen in bags, but they're so much better when they're fresh.
Look for green beans that feel like they're going to snap when you bend them. Avoid them if they're limp or look dehydrated. Keep your fresh green beans in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Green peas are another veggie that you can find in cans and the freezer section. But fresh peas are just so good, and the spring is the best time to find them in the produce section. You might find peas that are still in their bright green shells or they may already be shelled for your convenience. Keep them refrigerated and use them within three days or so.
Fresh spinach can be used raw as a salad green or on sandwiches, or it can be cooked and served as a side dish. Spinach is at it's best during the spring months. Look for spinach leaves that are nice and green and crisp. Keep your spinach in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Swiss chard is a lovely vegetable with its dark green leaves and colorful stems. And the color is key to selecting fresh Swiss chard. Go for chard that's clean looking and doesn't have yellow or brownish leaves. Keep it in the fridge but be sure to use it up within three or four days.
Summer: June, July, and August
Sweet corn, green bean, and peas continue their peak freshness right into summer.
Beets are one of the first root vegetables to ripen in the summer. Choose beets with firm skins and leaves that have a healthy appearance. Both the root and the leaves are edible, so when you get home, cut the tops off about an inch or two above the root and store the roots in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Cook up the beet leaves within two to three days.
Bright yellow crookneck squash is ready in the summertime. Choose squash that are firm and feel heavy when you pick them up. Avoid squash that are too big and select smaller to medium sized squash. Crookneck squash will last in the refrigerator for up to a week or so.
Cucumbers are always available as pickles but in the summer is when you'll find the best fresh cukes. Buy ones that are firm, heavy, and dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are discolored or shriveled. Keep your cukes refrigerated for up to a week.
Here's another summertime veggie. Choose eggplants that are shiny and dark in color and feel heavy for their size. Stay away from eggplants that are cracked or badly discolored. When you get your eggplants home, place them in the fridge for a week or so.
Lima beans are always available in cans, but they're nowhere near as tasty as the fresh beans you can find this time of year. Choose lima beans that are still in the shell. Take them home and store them in the refrigerator for a few days.
Okra is available everywhere during the summer months. Look for firm, light green pods. Bring your okra home and keep it in the refrigerator, where it will last up to three or four days.
Here's another summer root vegetable. Look for smooth, bright red radishes that have a fresh aroma and healthy green tops. Small or medium sized radishes are best because the larger ones tend to get a little woody. Keep radishes in the refrigerator for a week or so.
Grocery stores carry fresh tomatoes year-round, but they tend to be a little bland. The tastiest tomatoes are the ones you'll find at grocery stores and farmers markets in the summer.
This well-known summer squash is everywhere this time of year. Choose zucchini squash that is bright green and feels heavy for its size. Take your squash home and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Fall: September, October, and NovemberBroccoli remains in season during the autumn months, and Swiss chard comes back for a second season.
Here's a winter squash that's shaped like a giant acorn. Winter squash ripen in the fall, and the reason they're called 'winter' squash is that they'll last for up to three months in a cool, dark part of your kitchen. They don't need to be refrigerated; just keep them out of the sun and heat. Choose acorn squash that is dark green and feels heavy when you pick it up.
You can buy Brussels sprouts any time of the year, but they're at their peak during the autumn months. They're even better if you buy them while they're still on the stalk (they're a little extra work that way, but totally worth it!). Choose Brussels sprouts with tight leaves on the bright green heads. Keep them in the fridge for up to a week.
This fall favorite is the sweetest of the winter squashes. Choose buttercup squash that is heavy when you pick it up and doesn't have any major blemishes or soft spots. Buttercup squash will keep nicely for up to three months as long as it's out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry space.
You'll find that these pale yellow squash are at their best in the fall months at both farmers' markets and grocery stores. Choose squash that are heavy when you pick them up. When you get home, keep your butternut squash in a dark, cool place where it will keep for up to one month.
Fresh cauliflower is much more flavorful this time of year and less likely to be wilted and covered in brown spots. Look for firm cauliflower that isn't limp. If it has any leaves attached, they should be bright green and fresh. Keep your cauliflower in the fridge for five or six days.
You're probably more likely to pick pumpkins for Halloween decorations, but they're certainly edible, plus you have all those delicious pumpkin seeds. Choose pumpkins that are firm, bright orange, and heavy. As long as you don't turn them into Jack-o-lanterns, they'll keep nicely in a cool, dry place for up to two months.
Here's another root vegetable that's at it's best in the fall. Buy sweet potatoes (or they may be called yams) that are firm, with smooth skin, and don't have cracks, soft spots, or blemishes. Store your sweet potatoes in the fridge or another cool, dry place for a month or more.
Turnips and Rutabagas
Turnips are purple and white root vegetables that are ready to go in the fall. Choose turnips that are firm and not too big. Put them in the fridge when you get home, but unlike most root veggies, turnips don't last too long. Use them up within a week.
Winter: December, January, and FebruaryBrussels sprouts, buttercup squash, sweet potatoes, and turnips are still at their best during the winter months.
Winter is a good time for collard greens. Choose greens that are dark and have no yellow or brown spots. Keep them in the fridge for up to a week.
Kale is easy enough to find most any time but the leaves are the most tender in the winter months. Choose kale that is dark green with no brown spots or wilted leaves. Keep them in the fridge for four or five days.
Green, red, yellow, and orange bell pepperscome into season during the summer months. Buy peppers that have brightly colored smooth skins. Stay away from peppers that are dull or look like they're dehydrated. Keep your bell peppers in the fridge for four or five days.
Light green and purple cabbages are easy to find all year. Choose firm tight heads of cabbage that don't have any discoloration or feel 'too light' when you pick them up. Cabbage will keep in your fridge for up to a week.
Some root vegetables are in season all year round, including carrots. Look for bright orange carrots that smell fresh and feel firm. Avoid wilted soft carrots. Keep your carrots in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Fragrant fresh celery is easy to find and easy to choose. Pick out straight stalks that have bright green fresh leaves. Stay away from celery stalks that are limp and have wilted leaves. Celery will keep in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Green, red, iceberg, and other types of lettuce are in season all year. Look for fresh, crisp leaves and avoid lettuce that is discolored or wilted. Take your lettuce home and keep it in the fridge for a week or two.
Yellow, white, and red onions are everywhere all year. Look for plump, heavy onions and stay away from onions that are soft, or feel light when you pick them up. Onions will keep in your refrigerator for up to a month.
Parsnips resemble white carrots, but they have a lovely flavor. Choose smaller parsnips that feel firm and not rubbery. Take them home and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables and you'll find all kinds of processed forms in the grocery store. You'll also find fresh white, yellow, red, and maybe blue potatoes in the produce section. Choose firm potatoes that don't have any soft or squishy spots. Avoid potatoes that have a green cast to their skin. Store your potatoes in a dry, cool spot where they'll last for two to three months.
Crisp green snow peas make a nice addition to salads or stir fry meals. Choose bright green fresh smelling pods. Avoid snow peas if the peas inside appear to be overdeveloped or if they're wilted and rubbery. Snow peas will keep in the fridge for up to five days.
By Shereen Lehman, MS
Refrigerator-Free Lunch Entree IdeasThere’s no denying that peanut butter and jelly can get very boring, very quickly. Unfortunately, many parents believe it’s the quickest option for refrigerator-free lunches. Quite the contrary! Incorporate some of these tasty refrigerator-free lunch entrees into your child’s lunch box:
Nut Butter Waffle Sandwiches
Sometimes, a simple swap can breathe new life into a tried-and-true meal. If your school allows nut products, transform the typical PB&J by using waffles in place of the bread. For an extra dose of originality, use different nut butters, such as almond or cashew. For nut-free schools, try sunflower butter!
Bacon & Cheese Muffins
Bacon and cheese muffins can sit safely at room temperature through the morning and are packed with protein. Able to be made ahead of time and in batches, these are perfect for busy weekdays. Here’s a simple recipe from The Stay at Home Chef.
Simple Caprese Salad
Cut bite-sized chunks of a crusty bread and toss with cherry tomatoes and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. If you have an ice pack handy, feel free to add a few pieces of mozzarella.
Soba Noodle Salad
Here’s a great thermos lunch idea. Toss cooked and cooled soba noodles with chopped carrots and green beans and drizzle with either a homemade or store-bought vinaigrette.
Crudités and Hummus
Both hummus and uncooked vegetables can sit at room temperature through the day. Baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes pair perfectly well with a small container of hummus. Add a few slices of pita bread to make it a full meal!
Fridge-Free Lunch Snacks to Stock Your Pantry
Now that you have a week’s worth of refrigerator-free entrees at your disposal, don’t forget the snacks! These kid-friendly snacks require no refrigeration and are the perfect addition to the school lunchbox:
It’s no secret that fruit is a smart part of a healthy diet. When a snack attack hits, pay a visit to your fruit bowl. Whatever’s in there is likely to be better for you than the contents of your pantry. But is all fruit created equal? Let's investigate which fruits are best if you’re looking to lose weight.
Apples are a common favorite. They're the ultimate snack: filling, juicy, crunchy, and portable. Studies have even shown that eating three apples per day can help with weight loss—not surprising, considering they’re chock-full of fiber, a nutrient that’s known to boost feelings of fullness and ward off hunger pangs.
There are plenty of ways to get your daily dose of apple: Chow down on a whole Fuji (apples are such a packable snack!), add pieces to your oatmeal, throw slices into a salad, bake some with your chicken, or cook up a low-cal dessert.
1 medium apple: 95 calories,
Watermelon is a double whammy: It’s low in calories with a high water content. This means you can eat two entire cups of watermelon for less than 100 calories and your stomach will feel like you’ve eaten more because the fruit is more than 90 percent water. Staying hydrated helps you feel full!
If you’re looking to lower your daily calorie intake, incorporating watermelon into your diet is a smart move. Munch on it whenever you feel the urge to snack. This way, you’ll avoid higher-calorie foods and satisfy your sweet tooth.
1 cup diced watermelon: 46 calories,
Raspberries are small but mighty! These babies are low in calories, and even lower when you consider that they’re high in insoluble (indigestible) fiber. When you eat a 64-calorie cup of raspberries, you’re really only digesting about 32 calories. Put that together with the fact that raspberries have the highest fiber content of any fruit (1 cup = 8g fiber), and we’ve got ourselves a weight-loss winner. If you want to get creative with your berry intake, make this Creamy Coconut Raspberry Smoothie!
1 cup raspberries: 64 calories, 0.5g fat, 1mg sodium, 14.5g carbs, 8g fiber, 5.5g sugars, 1.5g protein
Grapefruit gives you a lot of bang for your calorie buck. A medium grapefruit has only around 80 calories, and like watermelon, it’s more than 90 percent water. By the time you cut up the grapefruit, sprinkle it with a bit of no-calorie sweetener, and eat the entire thing, you’re not gonna have the time or inclination to eat anything else.
Plus, studies have shown that a compound in grapefruit called naringin could lower blood sugar and ultimately lead to weight loss. So enjoy some grapefruit at every opportunity— squeeze it into your water, throw some wedges into your salad, or use it like lemon to flavor your food.
Keep in mind that consuming grapefruit with certain medications could have adverse health effects. If you’re on any meds, check with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet.
1 medium grapefruit: 82 calories,
If grapefruit isn’t your go-to citrus pick, you’re in luck. Oranges are an amazing weight-loss fruit too. High in fiber and water content, they’ll help you feel full.
Another great thing about oranges? There’s almost always a variety in season and there’s no shortage of ways to add the fruit to your diet. Eat a whole orange as a snack or use mandarin orange segments in salads.
1 large orange: 86 calories,
Lisa Lillien, a.k.a. Hungry Girl
Hi I'm Kelly Richards Mulloy a stay at home mom of 6. I am on a journey to change my life inside and out. Health and fitness, staying young, join me.