Fitness Challenge Q&A

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Good morning!

Remember when I had the opportunity to be featured in the “foodies” issue of Juice Magazine?

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Well, Juice – a weekly entertainment/what’s happening magazine for 25-34 year olds in my area – has recently launched their Fourth Annual 10-week Fitness Challenge (sort of Biggest Loser-esque) and has asked me to answer a couple food & fitness related questions from the challenge participants!

While I am not a personal trainer or nutritionist, I know what works for me and hopefully my answers will help aid them in their quest to Fitness Challenge greatness! Here we go!

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1. I’m on the go all day. What are some quick & easy snack ideas?

There are a TON of pre-packaged snacks on the market these days. Bars of this, cups of that. Take a look at some of their ingredient lists though, because I bet you weren’t planning on having partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil or partially defatted peanut flour – two ingredients found in a popular snack bar – as part of your 2pm pick me up! When it comes to snacks, whole, minimally processed foods are going to give you the most bang for your buck. Give one of these ideas a whirl!

  • Piece of hand fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear) and a 100 calorie pack of almonds
  • Fat-free yogurt with a banana for dunking
  • Peanut butter* and carrots, apple slices or celery sticks
  • Ants on a Log (peanut butter, celery & raisins)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese with 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese with a dash of cinnamon
  • Low-fat string cheese with apple slices
  • 12oz non-fat latte
  • Hummus and veggies
  • 2 slices of 100% whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread
  • Any variety of Larabar or PURE Bar

*Peanut butter labels should read “peanuts” or “peanuts, salt” – most commercial peanut butters have added sugar, oils & preservatives!

2. I’m trying to learn how to eat healthier, but still crave chocolate! What can I have to satisfy my cravings, but not derail my diet?

Trust me, you are preaching to the choir – I am a self proclaimed chocoholic (ask my husband!) Here are some great alternatives to keep you from diving for a Snickers bar!

  • 1 packet of sugar-free hot chocolate mix prepared with skim milk, soy or almond milk
  • 100 calorie pack of cocoa roasted almonds
  • Any chocolate variety of Larabar
  • Chocolate Brownie PURE Bar (found at Campbell’s nutrition)
  • An orange or clementine dipped in 1 Tablespoon melted chocolate chips
  • Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Chocolate covered raisins or almonds (watch portion size!)
  • 1 cup chocolate skim milk, soy or almond milk
  • CHOCOLATE – sometimes you’ve got to throw the “rule book” out the window and indulge. Life is short – chocolate is delicious! My favorite is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!

3. Sometimes I just don’t want to workout. How do you stay motivated?

Life is hectic and often times working out is the last thing you want to do, or feel you have time to do. One thing I repeat to myself when I feel like bailing on a workout is – nobody is going to change your life but YOU. Only the time you put in on the treadmill, the weights you lift, the healthy food you eat – is going to change your body and your life. You – not your husband, wife or trainer – are the only person that can put in the work and see the results. So put yourself first (it’s ok!) and invest your time and dedication to succeeding!

There’s also a quote by my favorite Biggest Loser trainer – Jillian Michaels (whoop!) – that I ask myself a lot:

How is this choice going to get me closer to my goal?

It’s so effective when you feel like bailing on a workout, eating a giant piece of cake when you’re not even hungry, hitting the snooze button instead of getting up to go to the gym, etc. How will these choices get you closer to your goal of overall health?

Finally – a lot of people dread going to the gym, but a workout doesn’t necessarily have to be AT the gym! Try working out at the pool, venturing out on a trail, tackling some hills with your bike, playing tag with your kids, signing up for dancing lessons, deep cleaning your entire house, playing tennis, etc.

Here are some other tips to help get you into the exercise rhythm and on your way!

4. I’m working out more and find myself hungrier more often. What foods have a good amount of protein, but aren’t too high in fat?

The thing about intense exercise, is that it can make you intensely hungry! I find that meals incorporating lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, are the best at keeping me full until my next meal or snack.

If I workout in the morning, a potential breakfast could be:

  • 2 pieces of 100% whole wheat toast with 2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
  • Scrambled eggs with salsa (1 egg + 2 egg whites)
  • Banana

A good lunch after an afternoon workout might be:

  • Roasted turkey sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread with a slice of low-fat cheddar cheese, tomato & mustard
  • Sliced apple with 2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese

Dinner after an evening workout might consist of:

Some other high protein/low fat foods include:

  • Broccoli
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chicken
  • Extra lean beef or turkey
  • Tuna (packed in water)
  • Almond or peanut butter (high in fat, but GOOD fat)
  • Lentils
  • Tofu

5. What are some of your favorite recipes that are high in protein, but low in carbohydrates?

I experimented with the Atkins Diet in college, which encourages restricting carbohydrate intake, but soon learned that a diet which had me trading apples for burgers was no way to live at all! I finally educated myself about the difference between “good carbohydrates and “bad carbohydrates” and truly believe that incorporating good carbohydrates into your diet is essential to overall well being. Some examples of “good carbohydrates” – carbs that do not spike your blood sugar so you have an initial “high” followed by a “low”, and are full of good fiber – includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Beans & lentils
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and millet

Some examples of “bad carbohydrates” – carbs that cause an initial rush of energy followed by a “crash” a short time later – includes:

  • White pasta, breads, bagels
  • Pastries, cookies
  • Sweetened juice
  • Soda
  • Candy

Trust me – I have a big soft spot in my heart for “bad carbs” and I definitely indulge, but my day to day carbohydrate intake is mostly of the “good” variety.

Back to your question though! Here are some of my favorite high protein, low carb recipes:

6. What’s your favorite recipe for tofu and/or your favorite way to prepare tofu?

I’ve been a long time lover of eating tofu, but have only recently begun preparing it myself! Tofu is an amazing meat-free protein alternative, is low in calories (when compared to non-lean meats) and is also high in calcium and iron! Plus, it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with or whatever sauce you pair it with, which makes it very versatile. I use extra-firm tofu, and here are some of my favorite ways to prepare it!

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So there you have it! Again, I am not trained in nutrition or fitness, but know from experience that these things work for me. I wish all the Juice Fitness Challenge participants the best of luck and if you want to follow them on their way, check out their blogs, here! :D

In IGE news, breakfast today is a perfectly pretty bowl of Raspberry Overnight Oats.

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How can that pink hue not make you smile?! It makes me feel so girly. :D

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In the mix:

  • 1 fat-free Raspberry yogurt
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 sliced banana
  • sliced almonds

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Refridgerated overnight and devoured in the morning. Oh yum. Cool, refreshing, sweet and crunchy. TDF.

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Lunch is some Chili Verde and a navel orange.

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Honestly – this is some of the best chili I’ve ever had! LOVE this recipe!

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And I’ve finally ditched Dori for the real star of the show – Nemo. ;)

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Oh, and I also have some carrots and almond butter at work from my uneaten lunch yesterday!

Time to get to work – IT’S ALMOST THE WEEKEND!! CAN YOU FEEL IT?!

Have a great Thursday!

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Three Question Thursday wants to know YOUR answers to some of the Fitness Challenge participant’s questions above!

1. What do you eat to satisfy your chocolate cravings, without derailing your diet?

2. What’s your current favorite afternoon snack?

3. Ok, this is my own: What’s your favorite variety of M&M?

My answers:

1. I’ve recently taken a liking to Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches – they are AMAZING and only ~150 calories! Chocolate craving = squashed. ;)

2. An orange

3. PEANUT BUTTER!!!!


Team Ina

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Good evening! Ina! How could I forget Ina? She is actually my favorite Food Network star, and I have NO idea how Ms. Contessa fell off my radar last night. She’s so unpretentious (except for that Hampton’s accent) her recipes are easy, yet elegant, and I love how her and…

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