How to Read Food Labels

Terms like “reduced fat,” “fat free,” “low sodium,” “light,” “low sugar,” etc. can be a bit overwhelming when grocery shopping and what do these terms really mean?

FAT

Fat, fat, fat…you need it, as it is a key nutrient required for normal body function.

  • Keep the amount of fat in your diet to 25-35% of your daily caloric intake.
  • Reduced or less fat products contain at least 25% less fat than the regular product.
  • Products labeled “light” contain at least 1/3 fewer calories or no more than 1/2 the amount of fat of the regular product, or no more than 1/2 the sodium of the regular product.
  • Low fat contains 3 grams of fat or less.
  • Fat free contains less than 0.5 grams of fat.
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Focus on eating the “good fats” (monounsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil and polyunsaturated fats – found in fatty fish) and avoid foods containing trans fats.

SODIUM

Sodium is another essential nutrient required by the body, but too much of it can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart and kidney disease.

  • The recommended intake of sodium is 1500 mg/day – 2300 mg/day, most people eat double that amount!
  • Reduced sodium products contain 25% less sodium than the regular product.
  • Low sodium products contain 140 mg or less of sodium.
  • Very low sodium products contain 35 mg or less of sodium.
  • Sodium free contains less than 5 mg of sodium.

That can be a lot to remember, so keep these quick tips in mind when you are navigating the grocery store isles:

  • “Reduced” or “less” means that a product contains 25% less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.
  • “Free” means that a product contains the lowest possible amount of the specified nutrient.
  • “Low” and “very low” mean that a product contains slightly more than a product labeled “free.”
  • When comparing like products, check the serving sizes to ensure that you are comparing apples to apples.

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Indian River Select Brand

Eating for Energy

Spring has sprung giving us warmer weather, longer days and the motivation to get active outdoors. Combining physical activity and eating well not only helps us maintain a healthy body weight, it can decrease our risk for cardiovascular diseases as well as some cancers, improves your mood and energy levels and promotes better sleep. The health benefits are hard to ignore.

Whether you are training for a marathon or trying to loose weight, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy and well-balanced diet. Carbohydrates are broken down by the digestive system into glucose (blood sugar), which can be used immediately or stored in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.  Found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains such as pasta, oatmeal and bread, carbohydrates are the first choice of energy for the body and are the sole source of energy for your brain and red blood cells, they also play a key role in digestive health.

Carbohydrates are classified as either simple or complex, based on how quickly they are digested and absorbed by the body.  A simple carbohydrate is made of one or two sugar molecules making them a quick source of energy because they are easily digested (found in candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, etc).  Complex carbohydrates are made of three or more (often hundreds) sugar molecules strung together taking them longer to break down and are more health promoting as they provide fiber, vitamins and minerals.

How much carbohydrate do we need? The Institute of Medicine suggests an Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) of 45-65% of total daily energy from carbohydrates.  Breaking the numbers down, someone requiring 2000 kcals a day should consume 225-325g of carbohydate, and at 4 kcal per gram of carbohydrate that translates to 900-1300 kcals a day.

The key to a balanced diet is to eat a variety of foods in the right proportions. Choose carbohydrates wisely by limiting foods with added sugars, which are not only high in calories but also low in nutrition.  Combine oatmeal topped with berries for a great start to the day, a quinoa salad for lunch and round the day out by pairing pasta with lean protein and vegetable packed tomato sauce for a nutritious supper.

Written by Keri Cawthorne

Making the Change to Healthy Eating

We all want to live healthier lives and make healthier choices, for ourselves and for our families. We can do this by eating the right foods to fuel our bodies.

Another way to make a successful change to a healthy way of eating and living is through a weekly food/meal plan. As daunting as it may sound at first, a meal plan will not only help keep you on track to make good nutritional choices, it will keep your week organized and free of the “what am I going to cook for dinner” moments, which usually leads to poor food choices. By shopping once a week (with the exception of fresh fruit/veggie replenishing) you will cut out needless trips and purchases at the grocery store, making it a great money saving tool as well.

Use the following tips to help with your meal planning:

  • Consult your calendar to see what your week entails. Busy days and evenings filled with activities are not conducive to meals that require a lot of prep work, so schedule accordingly.
  • Keep it simple, really. Meal planning is a great opportunity to add some variety to your regular menu, but get comfortable with the process first. And don’t forget to get your family involved.
  • Make a grocery list from your meal plans and shop from it, including snack items. Take your time when you shop; read labels and compare prices and similar products.
  • Wash, peel and pre-cut fruits and veggies. Store them in clear containers so that you can see what is inside. Pre-cut, marinate and freeze meat for the week. Make a batch of muffins, hard boil eggs for snacks.
  • Post your weekly meal plan in a visible spot. It will not only take the guess-work out of what’s for dinner, it may even get you some unexpected help with preparations in the kitchen.
  • Be kind to yourself. Life happens. If your meal-plan falls apart mid week, shake it off and start again the following day.

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Indian River Select Brand

Fit for the Holidays

It’s easy to see why exercise takes the back burner during the holiday season with so much to do and many parties to attend. It’s also easy to see why your clothes start to fit a little more snug at this time of the year. Making the time to get your workouts in during this busy time won’t just keep your weight in check, it will also make you feel healthier and is a great stress reliever.

Here Are a Few Simple Tips to Help You Stay Fit During the Holidays:

Weekday Fitness: Weekends tend to be full during the holiday season, so focus on weekday fitness.

Make a Plan: Put your workouts on the calendar as you would do with all of your other engagements. Hit the gym first thing in the morning or enjoy a peaceful walk or run in the cool, crisp air, it’s a perfect way to organize your thoughts and plans for the day. If your plan is to exercise after work, pack your gym bag the night before with everything that you will need, don’t forget a pre/post workout snack.

Fitness Challenge: Take part in a 30-day fitness challenge (squat challenge, little black dress challenge, etc) or start your own. Include friends, colleagues, and family for some competition; it will give you something fun to talk about over the punch bowl!

Be Realistic: Chances are you aren’t going to get your Saturday morning long run in if you are also hosting a brunch for 12 on the same day. Chances are also slim that you aren’t going to get that run in if you are out late on Friday night, and that’s okay. The health benefits of 30 minutes of lifestyle activity (taking the stairs, walking the dogs, housework, dancing, the list goes on) are astounding. And during the mayhem of the holidays it adds up very quickly. Of course, you can always run on Sunday.

Food Choices: It’s very easy to overindulge at this time of the year. As with your fitness, focus also on weekday eating. Eat well-balanced, nutritionally dense foods and drink plenty of water. When eating at parties load-up from the veggie plate first and socialize away from the buffet table. You have worked hard all year, so making good food choices over the holidays will no doubt make you feel better and your waist line, come 2014, will thank you for it!

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Indian River Select Brand

Quick Start Morning Workout

If you are looking for a quick and to the point workout to kick start your day, look no further than Tabata!

Tabata is a 16-minute intense interval training routine. Four exercises are used; each exercise is performed for 20 seconds of activity at full effort with 10-second rest periods (8 sets) consecutively for a 4-minute duration. All you need is a stopwatch and a mat.

After a 4-minute comprehensive warm-up try one of these Tabata circuits

Tabata Circuit 1 – cardio:

  • Jumping jacks/skipping or high knees
  • Speed squat – hands behind head, squat up and down as fast as you can
  • Split lunge- alternating leg lunges with a jump – modification: walking lunges
  • Mountain climber – knee into chest – modification: leap frog

Tabata Circuit 2 – upper body strength/core:

  • Moving plank – prone plank to plank on elbows and back up, and back down…
  • Push-ups
  • Tricep dips
  • Bicycle crunches – done from tabletop position

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Pretty Hard Work

Little Black Dress Worthy Workout

With Holiday parties right around the corner, it’s time to think about breaking out our favorite LBD (Little Black Dress). Each of us has our very own LBD that is the perfect combination of fit and personality. It’s the staple item in every woman’s closet.  So, to be sure you rock your LBD this Holiday season, try adding one or more of these sculpting exercises to your routine!

Shoulder Sculpting Exercises

Think of your shoulders like a clothes hanger; keep them strong with shoulder presses, raises and rows. Say no to sausage arms and tone them front and back with bicep curls and tricep kickbacks.

Upper Body Toner

No gym required upper body toner: Pilates style push-ups to target shoulders, chest, biceps and triceps. Set yourself up in a push-up position, instead of your elbows lowering away from the body, keep your elbows tight to your ribcage as you lower and lift…oooo, feel the burn. Tricep dips are also a great way to target your triceps as well as your shoulders.

Leg Shaping Exercises

Cycling and running are great ways to shape your legs, but don’t forget your squats and lunges to target glutes, hamstrings and quads. Calf raises are a great way to tone the backs of your legs and can be done anywhere.

Posture is key, and should taken into account when wearing your LBD or exercising. Develop a strong and balanced core with planks, back strengtheners and Pilates based exercises.

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Pretty Hard Work

It’s Time to Get In Shape

Start off slowly. Hitting the gym 5 times a week is a recipe for disaster, resulting in either injury or burnout. Plan 2-3 weekly workouts for the first few weeks, gradually increasing them to 3 -4. Space them out accordingly over your week giving your muscles plenty of time to recover and rest.

Set realistic short term as well as long term goals. Whether they are weight loss or fitness inspired, write them down, and chart your progress in a fitness journal. And don’t forget to reward yourself for achieving your goals!

Enlist the help of a certified trainer to ensure a balanced workout program. If affordability is of concern, split the cost of the session with a friend, and you can motivate each other.

You aren’t going to love all exercise, so find something that you love to do and do it!

Don’t forget to check with your doctor prior to starting any exercise program.

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured at Fit In Forum

Mental Preparation for a Half Marathon

We have all heard the saying, “mind over matter”. This rings true when preparing for a long distance race… as long as you arrive prepared. We can run with confidence when we take the appropriate steps to get there, one run at a time.

Long distance training is as much about mental preparation as it is about physical preparation.  Learn how to train for a half marathon, both physically and mentally so that you feel both confident and prepared on race day.

Mentally Training for a Half Marathon

Being both physically and mentally prepared for a long distance race will set you up for success. Check out this list of training tips to see if you’re on the right track toward the finish line.

  • Have a training plan and stick to it.
  • Add time increases of no more than 10% to your weekly long run.
  • A sample training week should consist of 2 to 3 30-minute short runs, of varying intensity and surfaces, plus 1 long run. Try to spread your runs out over the course of the week.
  • Train how you plan to run. You never want to try something new on race day, so take time to experiment with electrolyte replacement and different fuel sources over the course of your training. Keep track of how each run felt in a running journal.
  • Resting is a part of training. Schedule rest days into your training plan, especially the day following your weekly long run.
  • Pain is a warning sign from the body that should not be ignored. Deal with aches, pains and injuries promptly and don’t get discouraged. Freeze a Styrofoam cup of water; ice any areas that feel tender after each run. As the ice melts, peel back the cup, by the end of your training it will look like a medal from your war wounds.
  • Run or drive the race route before race day. Knowing what and when to expect it will increase your confidence and your race day experience.
  • The night before your race, lay all of your running gear out as well packing a bag with a change of clothes for after the race. Attach your race bib and timing chip, so all you have to do in the morning is get dressed, eat and run.
  • Don’t let your nerves get the best of you. It is easy to get caught up in the crowd and head out to quickly at the start of the race.

Stick to your plan and running pace, breathe and enjoy the day.

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on uglyfinish.com

How to Prepare for Distance Training in Hot Weather

When distance training in the hot months of summer there are a few things to remember about running in the heat. Learn how to prepare yourself for a successful and safe run.

Be Sun and Temperature Smart

Plan to run early in the morning or later in the day when the sun isn’t as intense. Summer is a great time to explore trails where sun exposure is minimal and the temperatures are cooler. And if you just can’t avoid it, stick to the shady side of the road.

Make Hydration a Priority

Hydrate before, during and after your run. To avoid dehydration, drink when you are thirsty. To avoid over-hydration take several sips/gulp of water every mile. . For runs 90 minutes or more in duration, look to add an electrolyte replacement or sports drink. Pay attention to the color of your urine, if you are properly hydrated it should be pale yellow in color (supplements and foods such as beets, carrots and asparagus can change the color of urine).

Choose the Proper Attire

When choosing clothing, opt for technical fabrics that are light in color which “wick” or draw the sweat and moisture away from your body to prevent overheating. Don’t forget your base layer either; select sports bras and undergarments with the same wicking characteristics. Protect your head and your face with a hat and running glasses and slather on the sunscreen!

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Uglyfinish.com

How to Maintain Your Passion for Running

The Race is Over, So Now What?

First of all, celebrate your accomplishment and let your body recover. Chances are you are feeling some stiffness or tenderness in your legs so take a couple of days off. Allow your muscles to heal but keep them loose with light activity such as walking or bike riding. Your body will tell you when it is ready to run again.

Even without a race on the calendar, try to schedule three weekly runs, one long, two short. Maintaining a long run of 45-60 minutes will give you just enough time and distance to transition into most training plans when you are ready to race again. Keep your two short runs to 30 minutes each and use them for speed play or hill training.

For some runners the days and weeks after a milestone race can be a little depressing without a goal or running focus, there are some who even lose their love for running. Using time between races to re-kindle your love for running is just as important as training. Try out a new route or venture into the trails or re-connect with a running buddy.

Written by Keri Cawthorne and featured on Uglyfinish.com