Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, the gym was busy, busy this morning at 5:30 and I was not surprised one bit. I've been a gym rat for quite some time and I've been moonlighting as a Pilates and Group Exercise instructor since 2001, so I'm familiar with the trends. The three busiest times for health clubs are:
- The first 3 weeks of January (it dies down by Superbowl)
- Mid-end of April (my sister, Julie, owner of RI Pilates Studio, says it coincides with the warmer weather because women will be baring their arms)
- Mid-September (once the kids are settled in their back-to-school routines, Moms feel they can finally get some "Me" time and after a summer of cookouts, vacations, and cocktails by the pool, we need it)

I've always loved September, and to me, it feels like a New Year. In the Jewish faith, it is in fact the New Year. I'm not Jewish, but my Dear Husband tells me that I want to be. Maybe I was in a previous life. In any case, to me, September is the start of a New Year and it is a great time to get back on track, if you've strayed at all from your healthy routine. When I'm feeling like I've fallen off the wagon a bit, I try to squeeze in some extra workouts, use my online food journal daily, and put only the most nutritious foods on our weekly menu.

Squeeze In Extra Workouts
Whether you are a busy Mom or not, this is not always easy. Even the most devoted of us early risers gets tired now and then. And lack of sleep is not good for weight loss/weight maintenance either. One way I squeeze in extra cardio time is by running on the elevated track that surrounds my daughter's gymnastics class and my son's sports class. I figure I can yada-yada-yada with some Moms outside the door, or I can get in 45 minutes of cardio instead. No brainer. And no, chasing the kids does not count as a workout according to a new study presented at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Use My Food Journal
Now, I'm not a dietitian and I don't play one on my Blog. But I am a lifetime Weight Watcher and writing everything down (these days, I use the Weight Watchers online tools) is critical whether I'm trying to lose a few pounds or just maintain. Now, of course there are things that don't count, like a few dark chocolate chips after dinner!

Put Only the Most Nutritious Foods on the Weekly Menu
Working for NuVal opens my eyes to the highest ranking foods according to their nutrient-richness. So, when my DH and I feel we need to get back on the straight and narrow, there's lots of baked or grilled fish on the menu. Last night, it was baked haddock (which scores a 64). Cod would have been a better choice since it scores an 82. And at a work lunch last week, I chose a spinach salad with grilled salmon since the fish has a score of 87. We also eat lots of grilled chicken breast which scores a 39. My favorite recipe, which I have on a dog-eared card from Martha Stewart Living's July/August 2000 issue (yes, there once was a time that I actually read that magazine), adds no fat and has a spicy kick. We make it on the weekend and use leftovers on top of salads and in wraps.

Grilled Chicken Paillard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Zest and juice of 2 limes (most of the time I just use bottled lime juice and skip the zest)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
Salt and freshly ground pepper.

Make the marinade in a large resealable plastic bad and add the chicken. Chill in refrigerator 15 minutes or up to 24 hours. Grill 4-5 minutes per side.

The leftover factor gives us some extra time to actually cut up the fruit sitting on the kitchen counter and prepare the fresh vegetables that we bought from the farmer's market.

So, I guess "squeeze it in and trade up for better nutrition" is my message of the day. I ate breakfast while driving to the office this morning - multitasking is "squeezing it in". I had a Thomas' Original Made with Whole Grain English Muffin (scoring a 26) with Teddie Peanut Butter Chunky (scoring a 38). A better choice would have been a Thomas' English Muffin Light (scoring a 38) and Teddie Peanut Butter No Salt Creamy (scoring a 49). I still need to work on Trading Up.

I would love to hear from you on this topic. How are you squeezing it in? Do you write down what you eat? And are you trading up for better nutrition?


  1. I love this subject and it's one I am very passionate about. I believe that with a little bit of planning there is always time for healthy meals and fitness...no matter how crazy your day might be.

    To keep on my nutrition on track, I practice a Sunday Ritual. Translation: Food prep for the week ahead. This includes chopping vegetables for salads, scrambled eggs, and side dishes. I also make a big pot of slow cooked oats to heat up after a good morning workout. Sometimes, I'll even make a quiche or two and batches of protein packed bars. A good hour or two in the kitchen on Sunday makes it easy to eat healthy during the week...leaving me more time for fun and fitness!

    Speaking of fitting in fitness,I can get a lot of lunges and calve raises done while drying my hair or waiting for my tea to brew! I also fit in a little extra exercise during TV commercial breaks (bodyweight exercises are great time fillers...and better than running to the kitchen for some mindless munching).

    I could go on and on, but I have to go dry my hair! ;-)

  2. As a stay-at-home mom with little help I was determined to make the 2 mornings I had to myself while my kids were at school "about me" which is something I'd hadn't done in 5 years! I refused to spend one of those mornings food shopping when I really wanted to go for a run or go to the gym so I could finally attempt to get my body back! I started using grocery home delivery programs (peapod and roche bros.) which was the best thing I ever did. Not only did it free up a morning to work out but I now don't "impulse" shop and I plan healthy meals for us every night. I am able to think through all my meals and I'm not grabbing the bag of chips from the aisle that were screaming my name!! I still allow myself my glass of wine (or 2) a night with a bowl of snacks because you still have to live but I do eat healthy during the day and keep my counter filled with fruit.

    As for writing down what I eat... When noticed 2 years ago that my body was taking on a different (and not so nice-looking) shape I began writing down everything I ate and tried to keep my calories to an appropriate level. Once my body was trained to eat normal portions again I no longer write down what I eat and find I've maintained my "happy" weight for almost a year now.

  3. I agree with Joanna, if you plan in advance you can get excercise into your everyday.
    I utilize the walks with my dog every morning. He is 14 years old so he's not a super fast walker. I will do lunges or squats, bring hand weights to do upper body work while he is doing his "business".
    A couple of times during the week a use my lunch for walking time, and then eat when I'm at my desk afterwards.
    My husband is usually up by 5:30am, therefore he feels I need to be up as well :) Which is ok, because I really try to utilize that extra time to do any kind of excercise.
    My husband and I have also picked up biking afterwork. It's been nice not only to excercise but spend some quality time together.

  4. I'm the queen of squeezing it in!

    Waking up before the rest of the world helps me find time to exercise. Plus, late in the day, I can always find an excuse for skipping my workout.

    I also like to "walk" my errands. I pick an area where I can park the car and walk to different locations and check things off my list that way. Sometimes, I'll end up walking many miles, but I get everything done while squeezing in exercise.

  5. Hi fellow moms, non-moms and exersize buffs. I'm a morning person and with 2 small children, I need to do it in the early morning. When my children were infants and so needed me very early in the morning, I would have my sneakers & gym clothes every day in my desk drawer. I'd eat lunch at the desk then use the last 1/2 hour of work to go up and down the 6 flights of stairs in my building 10 to 15 times. I was in better shape then when I only had 1/2 hour than now that I have an hour each morning. It was intense and used my time best. Good luck everyone.

  6. It is so important to fit it in! I prepare ahead too with soups mostly at this time of year. Lentil, Black bean, yellow pea, vegetable and chicken etc. So easy to make and they last for days. Every year I seem to drop those extra pounds the summer margaritas may have added by eating my soups. I have just started to add a jump rope routine called Jumpsnap (jumpsnap.com). This workout burns 600 calories in 30 minutes! I personally can not jump for 30 minutes yet, but I can do 12 minutes and burn a couple hundred calories without taking much time at all.

  7. Love your posts! So fabulous. Interesting to hear the scores for different fish varieties! I am guilty of just going for whats on sale (bad Erica). The gym sure is packed right now! My classes feel like they're overflowing and I am loving the energy. I am also guilty of cutting out sleep in order to fit in workouts (I know- bad Erica part 2). But I also do the little things- take the stairs, park farther away, go for a quick 15 minute walk during downtime at work. Instead of meeting friends for coffee, meet them for a quick run, walk, or group fitness class!

  8. Since I am by nature a creature of habit I have found that stinking strictly to a routine is the only way I can fit a work out in. I work part time and have two active boys so I have to work out in the early morning. It seems so many unforeseen issues come up and the boys have depleted me of all my energy by the end of the day that I have to reserve the early morning to either go in my basement and do cardio and weights or go for a run. It's always a great start to the day. As for meals all these tips I am getting from this blog have been so helpful.