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THE complete beginners guide to reading a nutrition label

I was recently living in Turkey for about 8 weeks and, something that was really difficult was adjusting to the language barrier. I thought, more than a little naively, that a lot of things would have dual turkish and english wording (after all Antalya is a city built on tourism), well I was wrong. I tend to eat pretty clean, and I tend to choose foods high in protein: high in healthy fats,  low in carbs, and foods that are minimally processed… One of the first things I always do before buying something is take a look at the ingredients list and the nutrition facts. In Turkey, that wasn’t easy for me. Not only are the nutrition facts in Turkey listed in Turkish, but the nutrition label is very different… there is no RDA (recommended daily allowance) nicely placed on the package (with a percentage based off of 100%), and the labels are not formatted for a serving size (like ¼ of a box), but rather they are listed in grams or milliliters… As I found myself fumbling through the items on the MIgros shelves (Migros is one of the largest and most popular grocery stores in Turkey), I found myself staring at a label speaking in a language that isn’t my own. I thought to myself “This must be how many people feel back in the States!” Suddenly I could relate to someone who has never read a nutrition label or chosen healthy foods at the market suddenly being sent out into a store with the task to get only healthy foods. It would be a lot like... read more

One Pan Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

Everyone loves a big bowl of pasta. The problem we often run into is succumbing to our craving while also adhering to a healthy diet. Zucchini noodles are the answer to your pasta desires. They make the perfect spaghetti-like noodle and serve as the perfect vessel for a decadent sauce. During the holiday season, we are all giving into temptation at parties and eating dishes that are definitely on the naughty list. This one pan sun dried tomato and chicken with zucchini noodles is a scrumptious and healthy recipe that will keep you on track between holidays and into the new year. It is comforting with a rich and creamy sun dried tomato sauce- but remember, we are using zucchini noodles so there is a little wiggle room for a thicker sauce. If you don’t have a spiralizer, I highly recommend this one from Williams Sonoma for the most curly and beautiful veggie noodles.                                                                                       Ingredients 2 large zucchini, spiral sliced or julienned 2 chicken breasts, diced 1/2 c sun dried tomatoes, julienned and in oil 2/3 c organic heavy cream 1/2 c chicken broth 2 tbsp grass fed butter 1 tbsp minced garlic 1/2 c fresh basil, finely chopped and divided 1 tbsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1/2 c Parmesan cheese Directions 1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chicken... read more

Don’t cut the fat: the faults of the low fat diet

When most people think of high fat foods they think of things like fried foods, cheeseburgers, pizza, ice-cream, and bacon…(in best Homer Simpson voice* MMMMMM Bacon, aaaaaaaaaaggggggguu) but not all fats are really bad for you, in fact, a low fat diet might be causing you to miss out on some important health benefits. A lot of people make the mistake of believing that cutting out fat is the best way to lose weight and get healthy, but less fat often means more carbs to take their place. I know going on a low fat diet takes some initiative, and you have to be smart to take care of your health, but there are few things you should know before giving into the low-fat fad. Not only can a diet with moderate to high amounts of fat still be healthy, but it can actually be more healthy than a low fat diet…the trick is finding out the right kinds of fat to eat in order to make the most of your fat intake. Some of the healthy fats that I am referring to can be found in nuts, seeds, fish, dark chocolate, coconuts, olive oil, and avocados; keep reading to find out the benefits of healthy fats and where to get them.   Don’t go wherever the path may lead you, head into the wild and make your own trail. #motivation #success #quotes #growthhacking — Makeyourbestself.com (@MakeYourBstSelf) December 1, 2015   Benefits of high fat diet Fats are an essential part of the human diet. Diets lower in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats can increase insulin sensitivity, decrease... read more

Why do we take our health for granted?

A question I find myself asking all the time is this: why do people take their health for granted? I guess the answer is probably multi-faceted, like most things in life there isn’t usually one single and solitary reason for why things are the way that they are. Some of the contributors to this tendency to neglect our health are: our fixation on getting more, having more, and doing more…our tendency to believe that what we have will last forever (false sense of security), and our tendency to look past the things that we get easily. When you are young and healthy the truth is you probably won’t even consider your health, but as things start going downhill the real truth often settles in; we don’t all live forever…and the actions that you take today will determine your health later on down the road.   People want to have, do, and get more! In a world of endless distraction, stimulation, and possibilities our simple minds often become fixated on chasing instant gratification and immediate rewards. We choose the easy thing that we get now rather than choosing the road of sacrifice that pays off later. It’s the same reasoning why people would rather spend their 2000 dollars in savings on a risky financial investment than keep it in savings and keep saving each month. People want results now, and in a world where it feels better to skip the gym and eat junk food, people will often tend to pick the easy way out. Why would you want to do things the hard way, why would you want to... read more

Food and exercise journaling: how to write your way to success

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the immense tasks of eating better or trying to get fit? Have you ever started a diet or exercise program with high motivation only to end up back in your old habits just a few weeks (or days later)? If you are anything like most Americans, then you have been here before. Each year countless people try starting out diets and exercise programs just to end up right where they started shortly after. There are many reasons why people have such a hard time sticking with their resolutions: they have unrealistic expectations, set goals that are too focused on results, they don’t have adequate social support systems, or maybe they don’t have a good plan to stick to at all. Journaling a daily log of everything you eat, what exercises you do, and even how you feel or what obstacles you faced in your day can help keep you focused and it can also provide you with a valuable larger picture look of what you are working towards.   The old food journal tip… I have known many people who have had a lot of success with using journals to track what they eat and what their activity levels are. I certainly think it can be very helpful for many people. Try using journals to keep track of your daily performance; this is beneficial for several reasons: keeping a journal will bring more attention to your daily performance and allow you to view your daily choices, it will encourage you to make better choices (especially if you will be sharing your journal with others),... read more

How to finally get that sixpack or flatten out your stomach

“What can I do to flatten out my stomach/get a six pack?”. This question plagues me like…well, the plague. Almost every time I speak with people about what I do, mention that I am into fitness, or just anytime people ask me what I do at the gym, I run into this question. It seems like there is an overwhelming consensus by about 95% of people in America that their bodies look just fine, but that they need to “lose their belly”, “flatten their stomach”, or just “get a set of washboard abs”, and while the fantasy of changing very little or nothing about our diet, lifestyle, or fitness routine and just simply adding in some special crunches 3 days a week or drinking some cucumber infused water sounds nice, it just isn’t realistic to expect rock hard abs doing things this way.   People often expect to get maximal results for minimal effort, and I can’t blame them, I do to! The same trait of human beings that birthed innovations like the airplane, automobile, and personal computer, is the same trait that leads people to gorge themselves on fast food, skip the gym, and expect that 15 minutes of cardio 2 days per week and some sit ups will make them look like Arnold or Beyonce. Humankind’s desire to innovate and make things easier can also cause us to seek maximal results with as little effort as possible; this often makes us a sucker for the easy way out, the magic pill, the “secret trick that the fitness industry doesn’t want you to know about”. We are used... read more

How comparing yourself to others is stopping you from getting the body that you desire

The person that you keep comparing yourself to is not only destroying your self esteem, but it is preventing you from making positive changes in your own life. This doesn’t just apply to health and fitness, it applies to a lot of different things in life, but perhaps the most obvious example of this statement’s truth lies in reference to one’s health and personal appearance.   We have all done it… You pick up the magazine, take a look at some fitness model and think to yourself, “I wish I had a body like that.”, and for a short moment you get that little spark of motivation, you think “I am going to do it this time, I am going to stick to my diet and exercise program.” and you do…for a few days. Then reality starts to set in.   You have been working hard for 3 days straight and you don’t see any difference in your body at all.  Who are you kidding right?  People with bodies like that aren’t like you, they have something special that you don’t have, you start to feel that there is really no hope that you will ever look like someone like that, and so you quit. You quit until the next time you see someone that you compare yourself too and think “I wish I looked like that.”, and then the cycle continues again.   Your comparison of your body to the body of a fitness model is like comparing an apple to an orange… They don’t look the way they do, because the fitness model was born with some... read more

6 reasons why getting back in shape can spice up your love life

Getting in shape and getting that body of your dreams can do wonders for your relationship, even if it means taking time to be alone or get away from the kids to get to the gym. Exercise is one of those sort of selfish things that we do for ourselves that ends up making us better and happier people, and better happier people usually end up making other people better and happier too. It may sound weird that taking 5 hours a week to spend away from your partner could make you both happier, but it really is true; getting yourself into a good level of fitness can offer several benefits to you and your relationship: you will look better, you will have more energy, you’ll be more confident, you will have more magnetism, you will have a better (ahem) performance, and people who are fit are just generally happier people; all of these benefits can make for a better relationship read on to find out how.   You will look better Getting fit means you are going to have a better body, and everyone likes a better body right? We live in a world of 6 pack abs, shining smiles, and figures with perfect proportions, and while your partner probably loves you like you are, they are going to have no problems touching those new abs of yours. People like being with people who look good, there is nothing like truly feeling that the person you are with is the most attractive person in the world.     You will have more energy People who exercise and maintain... read more

How snacking more can help your health

We have all heard the advice to eat more frequent meals, eat smaller meals, and to snack more often, but why have we heard so much about this theory, and what benefits can be gained from snacking more and eating less? Snacking more can offer several benefits to people who are looking to get healthier, build muscle, or lose weight. Snacking can encourage you to eat less, it helps you to eat more healthy foods, it helps with portion control and portion sizing of food, and it can help you maintain your energy levels and preserve your muscle mass.   Snacking helps you to eat less While eating more snacks may sound like the last thing that can help you eat less throughout the day, it actually can greatly help your progress in portion control and the amount of food that you eat. When we get super hungry, not only are we more likely to eat unhealthy foods, but we are more likely to eat more. When our stomachs get empty, we often become desperate and the only thing we can think of is when we are going to eat next and how much we are going to eat in one sitting. Snacking helps prevent us from becoming famished, and in doing so, decreases the chances that we will overeat. It takes a little bit of time for our bodies to process what we eat before we start feeling full, so when we allow ourselves to become ravenous animals seeking out anything to eat, we will often eat at a rapid pace that leaves us stuffed, before we have... read more

What is the paleo diet? Eat like a caveman!

The paleo diet, or the “Caveman” diet, is a diet that consists of foods that only cavemen would have eaten, or to put it better, only foods that would have been available during this time. That means, no bread, no processed foods, no grains, no dairy, a lot of vegetables, berries, nuts, and meat. Different people do Paleo differently, some eat dairy products and some don’t, some eat root vegetables like potatoes and some don’t, but the main idea behind paleo is to eat like a caveman…or cavewoman. 😉   Benefits of the paleo diet High in whole foods- because processed foods are not a part of the typical caveperson diet, you will be eating a lot of whole vegetables, meats, and fruits. Low in sugar and simple carbs– cutting things like bread, rice, grains, and processed sugar and sweets out your diet will greatly reduce the amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates from your diet, and this can help stabilize blood sugar levels and decrease fat. High in protein- Foods like chicken, fish, beef, organ meats, and nuts are all high in protein and make up a big part of the paleo diet. Protein helps you feel full, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and helps your body and muscles repair and grow. High in healthy fats- Paleo diets are high in healthy fats from sources like like nuts, avocados, eggs, and seeds.   Should you try out Paleo? Generally speaking, most of us could benefit from eating less grains and carbohydrates, more vegetables and protein, and higher levels of healthy fats: given that the paleo diet can encourage all... read more

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