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19 Recipes That Save Sad, Overripe Fruit (and Avoid Food Waste!)

You're looking for the peanut butter cleaning the fridge and find a giant carton of raspberries. Jackpot! Only they've started to lose their luster. Sad. You were so excited to buy them last week (or was it the week before?), but you forgot about them once you got home. Don't toss 'em just yet! Overripe fruit may not be the prettiest topping to yogurt, but it tastes pretty incredible in baked goods and smoothies. And by using less-than-perfect produce, you're not only cutting down on food waste, you're also making the most of every penny you spend. These 19 recipes make good use of every brown banana, bruised peach, and mushy strawberry in your kitchen. Strawberries 1. Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Photo: Cafe Delites So you bought a bunch of strawberries and rhubarb with every intention of making a pie, but then laziness kicked in. (It happens.) Instead of tossing the fruit, make a simpler dessert. A crumble topping of oats, coconut, and honey is way easier than pie crust. Word to the wise: A scoop of ice cream on top never hurt anyone. 2. Honey Roasted Strawberries Photo: Nourished Kitchen These roasted strawberries are so soft and sweet it won’t matter that your berries are less than perfect. Spoon this saucy mixture into smoothies or over your morning bowl of yogurt—you could even use it as a dessert topping for pudding, brownies, and ice cream. 3. Chocolate Strawberry Oat Muffins Photo: Dolly and Oatmeal A gluten-free muffin that celebrates mushy strawberries? Count us in. Not only do these cocoa muffins taste like chocolate cupcakes, but they'll fill your kitchen with the same mouthwatering aroma as your local bakeshop. Take a big whiff. Peaches 4. Slow-Cooker Peach Cobbler Photo: Destination Delish Chop as many nearly overripe peaches as you can find in your kitchen and cram them into your slow cooker: You have a cobbler to make. Make simple biscuits from coconut and almond flour, drop them over the peaches, and walk away. Come back in a few hours to find a bubbling peachy treat. Go ahead, just grab a forkful straight from the bowl. 5. Peach and Oat Smoothie Photo: Minimalist Baker If your peaches are way too bruised for biting, blend them into a smoothie. Because they’re so ripe, they’ll sweeten up the mild oats that add thickness and protein to the fiber-filled shake. 6. Paleo Peach Cobbler Muffins Photo: Lexi's Clean Kitchen These muffins are essentially peach cobbler for breakfast, and we’re not complaining. Mix protein-rich almond and coconut flours with cinnamon, honey, and a big cup of ripe peaches for a treat you’ll make over and over and over and over. 7. Peach Pancakes Photo: A Healthy Life for Me Put peaches in pancakes; never go back to plain. Puree a ripe peach in the blender, then fold into almond and tapioca flour with eggs and vanilla. Fry a few cakes in a ghee-greased pan, and breakfast is served! Dollop your stack with Greek yogurt for a peaches-and-cream experience. Bananas 8. Naturally Sweetened Banana Bread Photo: Cookie and Kate When it comes to this easy bread recipe, the browner the bananas, the better (say that five times fast). A whole-wheat base sweetened with honey or maple syrup is the tastiest way to use up those overripe bananas on the counter. 9. Banana Ice Cream Photo: Garlic Matters You’ll need just one ingredient for this wildly healthy treat: ripe bananas. As soon as the fruit starts getting too ripe to eat plain, chop them up and freeze for at least a few hours. Blend the bananas in a food processor (or high-power blender) until the mixture turns pale and creamy. Serve immediately for a soft-serve snack or freeze in a loaf pan and then get scooping. 10. Chocolate Banana Brownies Photo: Running With Spoons Not only will these brownies use up your ripe bananas and cure your daily chocolate fix, they’re probably one of the easiest baked goods you can make. Place bananas, coconut flour and sugar, your preferred nut butter, almond milk, and cocoa powder in a blender and let it rip. Pour into a pan and bake—and then you’re just a half hour away from chocolate-induced happiness. Apples 11. Slow Cooker Applesauce Photo: Detoxinista This one-ingredient applesauce will take care of the abundance of apples in your fridge, plus it’ll keep you from buying the sugar-filled store-bought versions. Better yet: It’s made in a slow cooker, so you won’t spend your whole afternoon stirring. 12. Apple and Carrot Muffins Photo: Feeding Finn Morning Glory muffins can be packed with sugar and butter, but that’s not the case here. These apple and carrot muffins are sweetened only with fruit, so there’s nothing wrong with slathering one with nut butter for an afternoon snack. 13. Apple Latkes Photo: Smitten Kitchen Sure, potato pancakes are tasty (c’mon, they’re basically hash browns!), but we’re all about trying a fruitier variation. Grated apples make a fritter that’s just as tasty as the classic version and pairs perfectly with Greek yogurt. Berries 14. Blackberry Scones Photo: Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Crumbly scones are one of the few ways to take advantage of tart yet subtly sweet blackberries—especially plump, super-ripe ones. To make sure the fruit is the star of the treat, this simple, gluten-free batter is only very lightly sweetened. 15. Blueberry Smoothie Bowl Photo: Simple Vegan Blog Find a pint of slightly wrinkled blueberries in the back of your fridge? The only place you should toss them is the freezer. Place the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for at least a few hours. Then blend them up into a creamy smoothie bowl with dates and almond milk, plus any overripe bananas you have hanging around. 16. Raspberry Lemon Cake Photo: Amy's Healthy Baking The best part of using berries in baking is that even if the fruit is a little past its prime, all that’s left after a trip in the oven is sweetness. This raspberry lemon yogurt cake is no exception. Note: If you’re not a fan of agave, this recipe can also be sweetened with maple syrup or honey. Lemons 17. Maple Lemonade Photo: Well and Full A surefire way to get rid of a plethora of lemons (besides making a hell of a lot of lemon drop shots) is fresh lemonade. Juice as many lemons as you can, then mix the juice with maple syrup and dial down the acidity with water. We also suggest making a giant batch and turning some into lemonade ice cubes. 18. Lemon Poppyseed Muffins Photo: The Healthy Maven Lemon poppyseed muffins are a bakery classic, but have you tried them sweetened with applesauce and honey yet? P.S. You get bonus points if you make the applesauce yourself. 19. Paleo Lemon Bars Photo: Food Faith Fitness These tart bars are sweetened with just a bit of honey, letting the lemon flavor shine through. While the recipe requires patience (you must let the crust and filling cool completely before slicing in), these Paleo treats seem well worth the wait.

Oatmeal Banana Bread

Just when you think your bananas are on their last leg, we bring you this recipe that embraces the bruising. The riper they are the more sweetness and moisture they bring to this bread. You'll also enjoy oats for a boost of fiber and dried cranberries for an extra hint of sweetness. Oatmeal Banana Bread Recipe by: Southern Curls and Pearls Makes: 1 loaf ​Ready in: 1 hour INGREDIENTS For the crumble topping: 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon melted butterFor the banana bread: 2 ripe bananas 1 large egg, beaten 3/4 cup milk 1 cup whole-wheat flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 1/2 cup dried cranberries DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. To make topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. 3. To make bread, mash bananas in a medium bowl, then stir in egg and milk. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, oats, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir just to combine (batter should be lumpy), then mix in cranberries. 4. Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan or muffin tin and sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with some dry topping crumbs.

5 Mind Games You Need to Stop Playing

Motivation is like cold hard cash: You can never have too much! And when you’re trying to lose weight (for the umpteenth time for many of us) you know that you need a wealth of motivational strategies you can count on. But, with so many motivational tips and tricks to sift through, why are we so often losing our motivation rather than reaping the rewards?   One reason is that some of the most popular motivation strategies people use are mind games—games that don't really work for the long term. At first glance, they all seem helpful, but most are actually bound to fail. Instead of playing Russian roulette when you’re choosing a weight-loss strategy, read on to find out how you can beat the odds and pick a winner.   Mind Game #1:  Going for the Gold You have your perfect weight and pants size in mind. With a big, bold goal to aspire to, you start biking to work, cooking lighter, packing your lunch, skipping that morning latte, and taking the stairs. Then, three busy, butt-busting weeks later…the scale hasn’t really budged and you’re trying on the same size in the dressing room. Deflated, you start snacking a bit here and slacking a bit there, and your dream of a whittled waistline slowly fades from view.   Motivation Makeover: Going for the gold is a great way to start your weight-loss plan; setting a long-term goal can help you to keep an eye on where you’re headed. But it’s also important to remember that your goal weight is far from the only benefit of incorporating healthy eating and exercise—and it could be a long ways off. Taking note of smaller, more subtle changes (more energy, better sleep, lower cholesterol, better mood, etc.) can help you stay motivated, even if the pounds aren’t coming off as quickly as you’d hoped. Setting some shorter-term goals (1 pound, 5 pounds)—especially ones that aren't based on the scale (like getting to the gym 5 days a week) can also help you stay on track.   Mind Game #2:  Starting Out Super Strong It’s Sunday evening and you realize that you spent the weekend indulging on brews, barbeques, and binges. A twinge of guilt has you psyched to start speeding down the road to wellness first thing Monday. So you restock your pantry with healthy eats, download a hardcore training app to your phone, and plan out the next month's food and workouts. You figure that going full throttle is the way to reach your weight-loss goals as quickly as possible. And why not? You're excited for it! But two weeks into your overhaul, your muscles are so sore you have trouble rolling out of bed, you’re sick of salads and you’re already thinking about throwing in the towel.   Motivation Makeover: Maintaining motivation is like running a marathon. Instead of starting at full speed and running out of steam, it is better to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other. Set small, achievable goals so that you can build momentum and feel successful in the beginning, and pat yourself on the back when you conquer each one. No matter how long it takes to reach the finish line, you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.   Mind Game #3:  Taking the Road Less Traveled There will always be a new diet or exercise program that promise fast progress and fantastic results. Reading about the latest food fad or watching a perky personal trainer push sweat-drenched clients through an infomercial workout can definitely spark your motivation. Who wouldn’t want to try an effective 4-minute workout or slim down fast with a celebrity-backed diet supplement? Deep down, we all know the truth: People are getting paid for those advertisements and whatever motivation you’ve mustered up during the commercial break will fade fast if you don’t get those "as seen on TV" results that were so motivating to you. Trying every new fad that comes on the market may leave you broke and brokenhearted.   Motivation Makeover: If you want a plan that works long term, stick with the tried and true. Keep your eating close to the earth with whole fruits, veggies, grains and lean meats. Get up and moving with whatever activity suits your style and schedule. Remind yourself that following through with real nutrition and fitness habits is a process: It takes the proper planning and commitment that can’t be found in a book, a box or a bottle.   Mind Game #4:  Flying Under the Radar You’re already feeling self-conscious about losing weight, so you certainly don’t want your friends and family making more of a fuss. Besides, you’re confident that you can do this all on your own! So what if your plan to be stealth has you skipping out on lunch with friends and sneaking veggies to parties in your purse? Going it alone may seem like a good idea, but it is actually counterproductive. Soon enough, you’ll be feeling lonely and left out, and that’s no way to maintain success in the long run.   Motivation Makeover: Call in the recruits! Whether it’s a neighbor down the street, a fellow play group parent or a Facebook friend, get someone to join you on your weight-loss journey. Studies in behavior science show that changes that you make in the public eye have a much better chance of sticking in the real world. Plus, sharing your weight-loss goals with friends opens you up for great personal payouts like counsel, camaraderie, and accountability from the people who know you best. SparkPeople Community, anyone?   Mind Game #5:  Staring Down the Scale There’s a scale in your bathroom and one next to your treadmill. You check in twice a day and diligently track your weight on a chart on the fridge. Still, even though you’re eating well and exercising, some days the numbers just don’t show it! Seeing real, objective results can be super motivating but being tethered to the scale often becomes a burden. Even though you know that body weight fluctuates throughout each day and hydration (or lack thereof) is usually responsible, unpredictable digits can be deceiving and downright disheartening. If you find yourself frowning at your feet during morning weigh-ins, then your scale is likely sapping your mojo.   Motivation Makeover: Stick that scale in the closet and find inspiration in other numbers (besides your weight). Track specific behaviors to gauge your progress; how many push-ups you can do in a minute, how many miles you walk or bike each week, how many flights of stairs you take each day at work. Keep tabs on a variety of positive results and you won’t be left wanting for fitness focus.     Making use of motivational mind games can really boost your fitness morale. But sometimes, techniques that seem perfectly logical can end up leading you astray. Mastering your own motivation doesn’t have to be a crap shoot. Bet on the time-tested strategies above to get your mind right and you’ll be sure to cash in on long-term wellness!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1676

Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship?

Weight loss is tricky business, especially when you're in a relationship. After all, many people fall in love because they share common interests, such as watching the same sitcoms every Thursday night, going out for rich Italian food or playing video games together. However, what happens when one person in the relationship swaps his or her Thursday night TV-watching for group cycling? Or decides that ordering roasted chicken and steamed veggies is a better option than creamy fettuccine alfredo? Or that the Wii Fit is actually more fun than Super Mario Brothers? I smell relationship trouble a-brewin'. Losing weight and adapting to a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of change—change that your partner may not be ready for. In fact, according to some recent SparkPeople polls, 34 percent of respondents said that their spouse, partner or significant other sabotages their weight-loss efforts more than anyone else in their lives, and 43 percent said they their significant other negatively influences their eating habits. On the flip side, 24 percent say that they would be bothered if their partner gained weight, and 55 percent said they might be bothered, depending on how much weight he or she gained. Overall, it's easy to see that weight can play a heavy role in your relationship If you feel like your relationship may be under strain because of your weight-loss efforts, there are some general warning signs to look for. Typically, these types of actions are rooted in something larger than the direct issues, so it's important to understand them fully to know where your partner's or your feelings are coming from. In general, the "why" of a behavior comes from deep-seated emotion of which you or your partner may not even be aware. For just that reason, we've added an "emotional why" section to each warning sign exploring the emotion that might be behind these behaviors. Because we know how important support is to reaching your goals, we've included some action tips on how to improve whatever situation you may be facing. This way, you can find a way to maintain your healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the health of your relationship. 5 Signs Weight Loss is Hurting Your Relationship (and What to Do about It) 1. Your partner makes negative statements about you changing. SparkPeople member SULYLE admits that weight loss has affected her marriage. At 5 feet 6 inches, she's 13 pounds from her goal weight of 140 pounds (that's a BMI of 22.6, considered a "healthy" range for her height). Still, she says that she gets comments from her husband and his family that she's "skinny" and needs to stop losing weight. She's from the Dominican Republic, where curvier women are considered beautiful, but she doesn't feel attractive at her current size. SULYLE's story isn't that unusual. Your significant other may make other negative comments about your own weight loss or changing body because it signals change. And change is scary for your other half. The emotional why: Fear is behind this type of behavior. SULYLE's partner is afraid of losing her and life as he knows it. While she may be ready to change, he may be afraid and reluctant to take the first step, and he may be insecure that she will leave him, so he comments negatively about her changing body in hopes that things will go back to the way they once were. What to do: Create new rituals together so that your loved one is involved with your new lifestyle. You don't have to give up Friday date night. Try dinner at a restaurant with healthier options, or when you go to the movies, order a smaller size of popcorn (no butter) and a diet soda. See if he or she will walk around the block with you (take the kids if you have them) to catch up after dinner. Be sure to include your partner in as many ways as you can, and reassure them that you love them for who they are. If the behavior becomes overwhelmingly negative, do not be afraid to talk to your partner about how those comments make you feel. After all, a relationship is a two-way street and open communication helps prevent a head-on collision. 2. Your partner makes you feel guilty. Does your partner make you feel guilty about the success you've had with weight loss? Does he or she complain that you're not around as much or give you the guilt trip when you skip cuddle time or dessert to hit the gym? Whether your partner makes you feel guilty on purpose, or you just feel guilty for taking time for yourself, it's not a good feeling to have, and it can be detrimental to a relationship if it goes on too long. SparkPeople member THREADIE-LISA had a similar issue with her fiancé when it came to her gym membership. She says that he would grumble to his friends about how much time she spent at the gym or "jokingly" say that she spent more time with the elliptical than with him. The emotional why: Nostalgia. Your partner loves you and wants to spend time with you. He or she may miss what used to be rituals in your household and relationship. These comments may also reflect some of the fear of change mentioned above. What to do: Compromise. THREADIE-LISA ended up quitting the gym for financial reasons but has kept up with her exercise by using workout videos at home. "We are both happier, and I am more fit and less stressed for time. So, in the end his complaining helped!" she says. Don't be afraid to compromise when you can! However, remember that you deserve to be healthy and happy. If your loved one is putting a guilt trip on you, encourage him or her to join you. Couples workouts allow you to spend time together and exercise at the same time. And if it's just you feeling bad, then remind yourself that being fit is what you worked for and you deserve to feel good about your accomplishments. 3. Your partner tries to sabotage you. Sabotaging behavior can run the gamut, from your partner picking up your "favorite" fast-food burger on the way home (even though she knows you're trying to cut back) to begging you to sleep in when you have a date with that Spinning bike at 6 a.m. One very common example is having a partner who brings junk food into the house and then eats it in front of you, especially if the junk food is your favorite and one you have trouble avoiding. The emotional why: Jealousy and fear. Although it may not seem like it, your partner may actually be very jealous of your progress and is sabotaging your efforts to keep you exactly as you are. He or she may be afraid that if you lose weight, you'll get more attention from the opposite sex and possibly leave the relationship for someone else. What to do: Reaffirm your partner that you're still the same loving person you were before. Then read this entire SparkPeople article on how you can defend yourself from saboteurs, and follow the fantastic tips! 4. Your partner starts gaining weight as you're losing weight. If you've noticed that your partner has gained a few pounds during the time you've lost weight, this could be cause for concern. Your partner may be upset with your weight-loss success and may be rebelling against you—consciously or not-- by eating more, higher-calorie food. If this is the case, tread lightly. This will probably be a very touchy subject for your partner. He or she may also be eating emotionally for comfort as a way to deal with the deep-rooted emotions (fear, anger, jealousy) about your positive changes. The emotional why: Resistance and guilt. Your partner is probably feeling resistant to change and guilty about his or her own body and unhealthful habits. They may even be worried that as you get healthier, you won't love him or her as much anymore. SparkPeople member Amy says that her husband has been "self destructing" and views all of her positive changes as threatening to him. In fact, she says that she's been sleeping in an extra bedroom for the last few weeks because of his constant resistance to the positive changes she's trying to make in her life. What to do: If you're in a situation as Amy is, talk to your partner openly and regularly. Your partner may be very, very sensitive about this issue, so you may not want to bring the weight gain up directly, but rather ask how he or she is feeling during this time of change. Reassure your partner that you're still the same person and still love them. And invite them to join in some of your small changes or start something as simple as a SparkStreak! And if it's more serious than that or your attempts are ignored, consider getting a relationship counselor involved. 5. You look down at your partner. If you're a few pounds into your weight-loss journey and overhauled your lifelong habits, yet can't understand why your partner hasn't done the same, then honestly ask yourself: Do you look down on your partner? Do you feel like the changes you've made are going to create lasting friction between the two of you? Whether you indicate these feelings to your partner (directly or indirectly) or keep them to yourself, he or she can probably sense how you're feeling. Everyone wants their partner to be proud to be with them. When you stop being proud of your other half, it can really hurt your relationship. The emotional why: Pride and fear. Right now, you may be very proud of yourself for your changes—and you should be! But it's important to respect everyone's journey and realize that you can't force someone else to change. You may also find yourself being harsher on your loved one because he or she may remind you of where you started (a place where you don't want to return). What to do: You may not agree with all of the choices your partner makes, but try to be as understanding as possible. Remember how hard it was for you to change in the beginning? Remember how you had to decide to do it for yourself, not for someone else? Revisit that time in your past and treat your partner how you would have liked to be treated then. Recognize the reasons for your emotions. You don't have to encourage unhealthy habits, but try to be as understanding and encouraging as possible. If you're faced with many of the issues above, don't despair. A relationship may get rocky from your new dedication to a healthy lifestyle, especially in the beginning of your weight-loss journey, but many say that getting in shape and eating right actually helps their relationship in the end. Take SparkPeople member XCSARAH, who said that her weight loss has both hurt her relationship and improved it. Even though she says that she sometimes gets annoyed when her husband wants to do something that cuts into her workout time or gets frustrated when he eats an entire bag of chips in front of her, getting healthier has improved their relationship. "Any annoyances that have come from this journey have certainly been outdone by the benefits," she says. Now that's an inspiring and encouraging statement to anyone who is struggling with weight-related relationship issues. At the end of the day, your significant other should be one of the biggest and most supportive allies you have in getting healthy. However, you can't expect others to change over night. Getting healthy and losing weight is an incredibly personal journey, and it can't be started by telling someone what to do; it has to start with the person wanting to change. So be as nice and supportive to your partner as you'd like them to be to you. Follow the tips above and recognize what's really behind you and your partner's actions to continue on your weight-loss journey and keep your relationship strong. After all, leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to influence others in a positive way!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1187

Finding Inspiration In Your Biggest Temptations

Getting motivated--and staying motivated--can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life. Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators--the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they'll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you'll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals. Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm. Inspiration: Taking care of your body. Get your eight hours a night. If you're consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier--even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference. To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health. Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to "pay back" if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road. Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and "run down." Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger. Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru. Inspiration: Making smart choices. Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you're in a hurry. Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you're away from home here.) Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations. Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face--and win! Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long. Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem. Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but. Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren't really hungry after all. What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it's no wonder you're hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning. Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house--whatever it takes. To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you'll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them. Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch. Inspiration: Taking time for you. You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on. Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it's 15 minutes, or maybe it's two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to. Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this "me" time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner. Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.) Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout. Inspiration: Changing up your workout. You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom. Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day? Now that you've made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. Instead of doing the same-old pushups and crunches, check out SparkPeople's free library of exercise demos. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike. Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other's lives while you firm up. When temptations step in your path, don't cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you'll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1356

Plan Today, Succeed Tomorrow

Athletes do it. Chess players do it. Novelists, successful scientists and even salespeople do it. These days, everyone who wants to make big things happen is planning ahead in order to succeed. What about you? When it comes to planning ahead to reach your goals, are you falling in line or falling behind? Thinking ahead can help you achieve your goals and, even more importantly, bounce back faster when you’re met with unexpected failures or setbacks.   What can you do today to make sure your health and fitness goals are met tomorrow? Maybe you need to pack a lunch to avoid that daily fast food fix, stock your pantry with healthy snacks so you have something to munch on, make a new bedtime routine so you get all the shut-eye you need, or sleep in your workout clothes so you’ll have no excuse to miss a morning workout.   Thinking "two steps ahead" means utilizing the present to make it easier to achieve your goals in the future. What are you waiting for? Here’s how to do it now, before you waste a few more minutes or lose your motivation altogether.   Think about Your Actions Take some time to envision yourself reaching your long-term goal, whether it's losing 40 pounds, running a 5K, or reducing your cholesterol. All of these big goals can (and should!) be broken down into specific behaviors that will increase your health and wellness. Losing 40 pounds may involve reducing and tracking your calories while also starting a consistent fitness program. Running a 5K starts with your first step, then requires a plan to slowly build endurance over several weeks. And reducing your cholesterol can happen when you make heart-smart food choices and increase your daily activity.   Taking it a step further, each of these action steps requires a plan or "mini goal" if you're going to achieve it.  Maybe you'll aim for a specific number of exercise minutes per week, servings of fruits and vegetables per day, or miles per month. Achieving these goals is easier when you start thinking ahead and formulating a process that fits into your schedule. When you spell out exactly what you’re working on, it will be so much easier to track progress toward your mini-goals and stay on course toward your bigger goals.   Head Off Potential Hurdles: Prepare Your Plan B You’ve planned to exercise three times a week and you're sticking with your program really well. Your workout wardrobe is freshly laundered. You’ve commandeered a babysitter during your evening runs. Best of all, you've scheduled your exercise sessions like appointments in your calendar. You're doing great.   But all of a sudden, a giant work project is dropped in your lap and you realize you’ll need to work from home every night this week to meet the deadline. Sound familiar?   Whether it's a nasty flu virus, a change in your partner’s work schedule, or a car in the shop, there will always be obnoxious and unexpected hurdles that can spring up and ruin your best laid plans. You can either wait for them to derail you or you can think ahead about all the possible scenarios that might get in the way of your goals—and plan how to tackle them in advance.   As soon as you’ve set mini goals for the week and put your commitments on the calendar, the next thing you should focus on is finding room for flexibility. Maybe you can pencil in a morning workout on the weekend as a backup plan, or make a list of healthy take-out options in case you find yourself in a dinnertime crunch. And if you have trouble resisting those donuts in the office break room, you’d better be sure to pack nutritious and delicious mid-morning snacks in your bag. Having a plan B in place before you need it means you're thinking strategically and will be more likely to stay on track.   Commit...and Don’t Quit Committing to any lifestyle change takes time and continued effort. If you’re having trouble implementing your strategic plan (and plan B's), here are some strategies that will help you sidestep obstacles that may arise.

  • Make your commitments public so that everyone around you knows the goals you’re working toward. If your boss, partner and friends have all heard you profess your plan, they’ll be more likely to support you (or at least they’ll know what you’re up to)--and you'll be more likely to stick with it to save face.  
  • Engage your friends and family in some friendly fitness activities. Get your colleagues involved in an exercise challenge, start a walking club after work, or put together a neighborhood gardening group. If you can encourage others to join your wellness quest, you’ll be more likely to remember your commitments. Plus, you may even plant the seeds for others’ health and fitness success.  
  • Keep track of your achievements. Sometimes, when you’re working hard to fit healthy habits into your schedule, it can feel like the rest of the world is against you. Seeing the progress you make toward your own goals will help you notice change and stay true to your healthy self—even in the event that you mess up. Log your workouts online, track your calories and H2O intake, and draw smiley faces on your calendar when you finish each yoga class. Keeping track will remind you how far you've come, which can help you keep the faith when life gets in the way of your best intentions.
Make Friends with Failure Even after you’ve set benchmarks for success, put a halt on potential hurdles, and prepared a plan B, you can still be sure that the road to health and fitness won’t always be smooth and straight. A storm will sweep in overnight and ruin your morning run. That family road trip will be wrought with tempting treats at truck stops. Though these problems may seem counterproductive, getting familiar with failure can be helpful in its own way. When you experience a succession of small setbacks or changes in course, it helps you hone your skills at dealing with issues that are outside of your control. Even the greatest athletes and strategic planners in the world fail—sometimes badly and sometimes publicly. But those who are great don't let failure define them or stop them. They set goals, plan ahead to avoid or minimize mishaps, and get back up and keep going when things don't go according to plan. They roll with the punches—and you can, too!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1735

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