By: Leanne Ely
To date, I’ve dished about barre classes, my diet, getting plenty of rest, and keeping tabs on my thyroid and how this has all made a big difference in my weight.
And today, I’m going to talk about a classic weight loss secret that seems to be totally ignored by so many. Probably because it’s not sexy or considered a “hack” or is geeky enough to grab an ohh or an ahh from anyone.
I’m talking about portion control.
It’s that simple, but don’t freak out!
I’m not talking about weighing food, counting calories, grams, fiber, carbs, etc. I’m talking teaching your body to understand how much you need and eating that amount, period.
I’ll share how I do it, not how it’s traditionally done because that will make your head spin right off its shoulders!
First of all, begin with a plan. Your plan is to eat healthfully as possible. You want lean, clean protein, green veggies, something colorful (think orange, red or yellow veggies), something starchy that isn’t a grain and a nice helping of fat, the good healthy kind.
The key to getting full is this combo: adequate protein, fiber and fat. Each has a role in satiation.
Now that you know what belongs on your plate, you can eyeball what should go there.
If you’re a small woman, a serving of protein should be roughly the size of a deck of cards, a serving a veggies the size of your fist and for your fiber (I like sweet potato or some kind of winter squash), half the size of your fist.
You may not eat exactly this way—you may have rice or some other grain in there and that’s fine, just as long as you get your veggies in.
Now remember I said “if you’re a small woman.” For me, that wouldn’t cut it. I’m 5’8” tall and about 145 pounds. I need about “a deck and a half”. But not always, sometimes, just a “deck” will do, other times, I need more. The point is to learn where your satiation point is and stop eating.
Don’t be a cleaner upper of your plate or anyone else’s. You’re not responsible for world hunger anymore than I am so stop that habit, stat.
Learning how to portion your food according to your needs takes work and practice. Remember, if you call it wrong and you’re hungry, you don’t have to stay hungry—get some more to eat!
There’s more to all of this of course—portion control is just a part of mindful eating.
By: Leanne Ely
Last month, I did something I never thought I would be able to do at this stage in my life. I put on my high school cheerleading skirt! Did you see the pic??
Now, I’m not saying I was able to zip it all the way up, but I pulled it right on up over my hips and what an incredible feeling! And now I have a new goal—to be able to zip that thing up!
I’ve been eating a mostly paleo diet for years (2009). But I would cheat occasionally—some brie cheese, maybe a little parmesan on my gluten free pasta (if I splurged on pasta). I’d do my best going out to restaurants (like I wouldn’t order something obviously full of gluten like a sandwich or something) but I wasn’t as strict as I should have been going out for sushi, one of my favorite things (for example, soy sauce has gluten in it and is a goitrogen).
So when I got super serious and on target for my goal of losing weight, I stopped playing with cheese, didn’t eat soy sauce out (took my own CocoAminos), and really paid attention to sneaky dairy and gluten in particular.
I was one of those people who thought I was doing ok and toeing the line only to find out, I’d let a lot of that stuff sneak into my life because I wasn’t being careful enough. And for me, gluten and dairy are two massively, inflammatory foods that not only disrupt my thyroid function, but also cause me unwanted grief in the form of weight gain, bloat and disfiguring rosacea!
Inflammation comes in many forms—and it can be delivered by the food you eat. When your body is inflamed, your joints might ache, you could have tummy issues, your skin’s a mess, bloating might be out of control and you may even be depressed, cranky or dealing with a lot of brain fog. THAT’S the issue with inflammation. So eliminating inflammatory foods is a huge needlemover for not only how you look, but how you FEEL.
And by the way, back to my cheerleader skirt. If you’re trying to lose weight, consider doing something similar to measure your success. The scale can be very deceiving and cruel, but if you have a dress or a pair of jeans you can’t wear (now),you can actually see your progress and applaud your own success. Amazing impact!
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By: Leanne Ely
It’s that time of year again. The New Year. A time to reflect on the year we’re leaving behind and make promises to ourselves about how we may live better for the next twelve months.
If, when the clock struck twelve at the beginning of 2017, you made some resolutions that involved living a healthier life, I want to make sure that you start out nice and slow so that you don’t get all overwhelmed, with your good intentions discarded by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around.
When you resolve to live healthier and you’re starting out with a lifestyle that has lots of room for cleaning up, there are tons of tiny changes you can implement that will add up to greater health for you by this time next year.
If you know me at all, you know I’m about keeping things simple. So that’s where we’ll start. The following are five simple things you can start doing today that will make you and your family healthier:
1. Get friendly with vegetables. You don’t like leafy green and/or dark colored vegetables? Too bad. You have to eat them anyway. Vegetables are key in weight management and we need them to make ourselves healthy and to get in all of those nutrients and minerals that are essential for our bodies. If you think that peas and carrots are enough, you are sadly mistaken. Sure they count as veggies, but we need a diet varied in fruits and vegetables in order to get what we need out of the foods we eat. The next time you go to the grocery store, shop the rainbow. Buy purple cabbage, dark green spinach or kale instead of regular green cabbage and iceberg lettuce. Fill your cart with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Try a new vegetable every time you go to the grocery store and do some research on Google to figure out the best way to cook it. Vegetables are not only full of nutrients that fight disease, but they aid in your digestion process (can you say fiber?), they fill you up without loading you up with calories, and they just make you feel good! Train yourself and your children to like vegetables. It’s the best thing you can do for your family’s health.
2. Add one new healthy food to your diet each month. Hearing about all the health benefits of coconut oil lately? Resolve to incorporate it into your diet this month. Next month, perhaps you’ll want to give salmon a good honest try. Start eating flax in March. Swap sugar for honey in April. You see where I’m going with this. Slowly start incorporating super foods into your diet and by this time next year, you’ll be laughing! Also, vowing to add one new food per month is less overwhelming than trying to do it all at once . . . it’s all about baby steps! Every week, I feature a different healthy food here on the blog. Search through the archives and keep your eyes peeled for lots and lots (and lots!) of ideas.
3. Drink more water. This one is key. I believe that if we all ate six or seven servings of vegetables a day and drank our daily recommended amount of good old fashioned H20, we would be a much healthier (and leaner) nation. If you’re not a water lover, too bad. You have to drink it anyway. How do you figure out how much water you need to be healthy? There are calculators all over the Internet that will help you determine your hydration needs based on your weight and activity levels, so do a simple search and you should soon know your optimal water intake. One important piece of advice is to pace yourself. Don’t drink all of your water in the morning or before bed. Spread it out over the day and just drink drink drink! Water is the ideal beverage for all of us. Swap out the juices and sodas for this simple thirst quencher.
4. Cut out packaged foods. Stop buying processed foods and resolve to cook more meals for your family from scratch. This will likely be the one item on this list that makes the most folk cringe, but it is an important one. I wish that everyone could experience the joy that comes with putting a nutritious, homemade meal on the dinner table every day. Start by not buying anymore of those “helper” meal kits from the dry food aisle as well as the frozen meals from the freezer sections of the grocery store. These are highly processed foods, chock full of GMOS, chemicals, sodium and other ingredients that nobody without a science degree can pronounce. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and make meals from the vegetables and meats that you buy.
5. Stop baking. Have a weakness for cookies? Quit baking them. Have a tendency to sit down to a couple of muffins every time you bake a batch? How about not baking them anymore? I see these recipes all over the place for healthy muffins, paleo-friendly cookies, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free desserts, and I have to ask myself . . . why? Our diets should be based on high quality vegetables, lean meats, poultry and fish. Do you really need another muffin? Snack on nuts, fruit, eggs, raw vegetables and berries.
There you have it. Follow these five little nuggets of information and by the time 2018 rolls around, you’ll be feeling amazingly healthy and resolving to never go back to that old lifestyle ever again!
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By: Leanne Ely
Tis the season for visions of candy canes and sugar plums and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But how many of us have actually roasted chestnuts? Have you ever eaten a chestnut?
Many cultures enjoy chestnuts as a valued source of nutrition. Chestnuts have been harvested for centuries in Japan, China, Korea, Europe and the Mediterranean. Greeks put chestnuts above almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in terms of quality. So, why don’t we eat more chestnuts here in North America?
Chestnuts can be roasted (but please use an oven-it’s safer than an open fire) or cooked in soups and stews.
So, what’s so great about chestnuts?
Fiber. There is more fiber in a serving of chestnuts (3 grams per 100 gram serving) than there is in a serving of walnuts, pecans or pistachios.
Fatty acids. Chestnuts are full of linoleic acid and other essential fatty acids like palmitic and oleic acid, which are great for heart health.
Nutrients. Chestnuts contain potassium, magnesium, copper and high levels of Vitamin C. They also have lots of amino acids and antioxidants.
Chestnuts aren’t only nutritious, but they also have a pleasant taste.
So, how do you eat chestnuts?
Well. First, you take your chestnuts and cut an X on the flat side with a very sharp paring knife.
When the nuts are all scored with their X, pop them on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes in a 425 degree oven. This will make the X open a bit and the skins will peel easily off of your chestnuts. At this point, you can use them in soups or side dishes, but if you want to actually roast the chestnuts, keep them in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Peel the chestnuts while they’re still warm. Once they cool, the skins are difficult to remove.
I like chestnuts sautéed with Brussels sprouts and bacon. Mmmm!
While they do contain lots of nutrients, chestnuts are pretty starchy. They’re actually used in many cultures more as a vegetable (think potato substitute), so use them sparingly.
Do you enjoy eating chestnuts?
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By: Leanne Ely
Cookies, cocktails, cheese and hors d’oeuvres. There’s temptation at every turn during the holidays, but even though it’s tough to stay on track, it’s certainly not impossible.
As far as I’m concerned, the toughest part of the holidays when you’re trying to stay healthy and trim is all those potlucks and Christmas parties.
I find one of the best ways to avoid eating all of those rich foods is to bring my own lighter options along with me. Whether it’s a cocktail party or a big family potluck, I bring dishes that fit my own personal lifestyle so that I know there will be something there I can eat. It also helps to encourage nutrition among fellow party-goers. And really, it’s helpful for other guests who are in the same healthy eating boat.
Now, use your own common sense here, folks. If you’re invited to a business function or a more formal event where bringing along food would be considered uncouth, then stick to the lighter options and indulge in one or two dishes that you REALLY feel will be worth the calorie splurge.
But, if it’s a casual family get-together or a house party, the host or hostess will probably appreciate your contribution.
Here are some great healthy ideas to bring to a potluck or cocktail party:
• Fruit tray
• Veggie tray
• Shrimp ring
• Meat and cheese platter
• Deviled eggs
• Bacon-wrapped dates
• Bacon-wrapped scallops
• Bacon-wrapped anything!
• Chicken wings
• Roasted chickpeas
• Stuffed mushroom caps
By: Leanne Ely
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they couldn’t afford to eat healthy, I might not be a millionaire, but I could surely buy a new car 😉
The thing is, it’s not true. We can all afford to make healthy changes in our lifestyle.
Is it expensive to subsist entirely on organic chicken and kale? Yes. But there are plenty of other ways to stretch your grocery budget by choosing healthy options.
Here are a few ways to keep nutrition high and costs low.
Buy ingredients. Not packages. Look for ingredients to make your own healthy grano-la bars instead of buying the healthiest granola bars in the store. Buy some meat, tomatoes, and noodles instead of a packaged lasagna. Make your own condiments. Skip the convenience and you’ll save money (and you usually end up with more food). Every. Time.
Buy frozen. Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh veggies, but they cost a significant amount less. Buy enough fresh produce to last you the first part of the week, and rely on veggies from the freezer when it’s coming back around to shopping day.
Be smart with meat. Buy whole chickens instead of chicken pieces. Learn how to cook with less expensive cuts of meat. Better yet? Find a group of people to chip in together on a whole animal from a local farmer.
Choose organic only when necessary. If you don’t have the means to shop exclusively for organic foods, shop by the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists put out by ewg.org
Quit splurging. Do you need individual coffee pods? Is $4 bottled water a require-ment? Do you need “healthy” desserts and treats? Nope. You’re wasting your money. Instead, invest your paycheck into real foods.
Plan meals. If you create a shopping list according to your weekly meal plan, you can keep a much tighter rein on your budget. And always, always stick to the list!