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Potatoless Low-Cal Shepherd’s Pie

potatoeless sheperd's pieI love potatoes. Honestly, I think they are probably one of my favorite vegetables. BUT they are super high in calories and carbs, so I try to limit them. One baked potato is a whopping 270 calories – that’s most of my allotted calories for a single meal when I’m dieting (which is around 300-350 calories/meal) – and that’s without butter, sour cream or anything extra!

A medium French Fry from McDonald’s is 360 calories!! Sadly, I have to admit, when I get fries, my eyes are bigger than my brain and I feel the need to order a large fry because I like fries more than the darn burger. However, that large fry will cost me about a 5 1/2 mile run!  A large fry had more calories than my sandwich – 537 calories (Super Size is 610 CALORIES!)!! Needless to say, if you are counting calories, it doesn’t take long to realize you need to limit potatoes from your diet if you want to lose weight.

With all that high-cal potato talk, I got a little creative last night and made a potatoless Shepherd’s pie. Honestly, if I had cauliflower, I would have made mashed cauliflower. Instead, I started my meal out like I always do. I look in the fridge and pantry to see what I have and then I start brainstorming. Yesterday, I ended up with Ground Turkey & Cabbage Shepherd’s pie and it was a success. Steve loved it, and he liked the carb to protein ratio – so here it is!

potatoeless sheperd's pie

Potatoless Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 head of cabbage chopped (made 4 cups)
  • 4 cups cooked and seasoned lean ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 cup yellow corn
  • 1 1/2 cup lima beans ( didn’t have peas!)
  • 1 tablespoon butter/margarine
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of Stevia and Splenda
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Badia Complete Seasoning

First I combined cooked and seasoned turkey meat with cooked corn and limas (cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper) and put that in the casserole dish. (I seasoned my meat with lemon juice and Badia Complete Seasoning). Then, in a separate pot, I boiled the cabbage with seasonings and the Stevia until really tender and soft. I drained the cabbage reeeeeally well and added the butter to add a little fat, as well as a buttery flavor. Next, I spread it out on top of the meat mixture, topping it with the sprinkle of cheese and baked it on 400 for 20 minutes or so (just to melt the cheese and do the final bit of cooking).

After you pull it out of the oven, drain off any fluid (from the cabbage) and let it stand for a few minutes. If you can’t wait, you can serve it right away, but it will be a messy meal. If you let it cool, it cuts in nicer squares. I let mine cool completely and stored it in the refrigerator. Then I cut it in squares and put it in tupperware (cuts beautifully when cold). Steve loved it and it was darn tasty!

9 servings: 278 calories 25g P, 15g C 13g F
12 small squares: 209 calories, 19.1g P, 11.3g C, 9.9g F 

potatoeless sheperd's pie

NOTE: Fat slows digestion, helping you feel fuller longer, as well as provides you with more lasting energy.

 

Healthy Changes for the Whole Family

A new school year is a perfect time to start some new healthy habits – not just for your child, but for the whole family!

Here are 9 healthy habits that can help you and your kids reach their top potential.

Healthy Diet changes

1. Heavy breakfast – your family doesn’t need any calories to watch TV at night or sleep, but they need tons of calories throughout the day to keep you alert and energized. Make bigger meals when your family needs it most, and keep evening meals small (like just a meat and a green).

2. Frequent meals – By eating 5-6 times a day, your family will have a TON more energy. Ask your child if they get hungry during the day. Send them to school with a bag of nuts or a protein bar to snack on between classes to help keep their metabolism revved all day. This is especially important if they attend after school activities.

packing lunch3. Don’t forget the protein – Many meals (especially for kids) are high in carbs. Kids tend to eat (or want to eat) a lot of foods like cereal, poptarts, chips, fruit rollups, candy, french fries, tater tots, pizza, etc., but most kids don’t eat a lot of meat or high-protein foods. Probably because they aren’t wrapped in a fun flashy cartoon wrapper. 🙂 As you are making meal, look at protein content and make sure they are getting protein with carbs and fat for more balanced meals. Greek yogurt, eggs, lunch meat, cottage cheese and protein enriched foods (like high-protein flat bread) are great foods to add to meals and snacks.

4. Hydration – Often times kids want a soda or snack, when they really need hydration the most. Teach your child to always drink a glass of water before they take their first bite of a snack. They will not only bet the hydration they need, but they will likely eat less.

caffeinated-beverage

caffeine drinks caffeinated-beverage5. Limit caffeine – Caffeine is a drug of sorts. It has a chemical effect on the body, so it is smart to limit those beverages. Cokes should be treats, not a daily staple – especially while they are growing. Low Fat milk, water and juice (in moderation) should be the main source of hydration and nutrients.

6. Avoid sugar & processed foods – Processed foods break down and turn to sugar very rapidly. This can send someone’s blood sugar for a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs (and more downs, than ups). By limited sugar, you’ll be able to maintain a more steady level of energy through out the day (and avoid weight gain associated with high-calorie processed foods).

7. Stress buster foods – Does your child even know what that is? To me, it means your child shouldn’t feel deprived, but there are also foods known to help relieve stress. They should have foods they can snack on and enjoy without negative side effects. For me, it’s 100 calorie popcorn. Your child may enjoy yogurt or fresh fruit. Either way, they should never feel that eating healthy is boring or restrictive. While it may take some adjusting at first, they should enjoy the foods they eat. CLICK HERE to get see a list of 10 foods that help relieve stress.

8. Boost Super foods – People talk about super foods all the time, but do you know what they are and what they do? There are actually foods that help us think and perform better. Some of those foods include berries, nuts, seeds, salmon, avocado and beans. CLICK HERE to read more on foods that boost brain power from WebMD.

9. Avoid unknown foods – When you eat out, you really have no clue what’s in that food. Since most restaurants are all about the dollar bill, we should expect they will cut corners and add fillers, taste enhancers and who knows what to keep us coming back for seconds. My rule of thumb is this: “if you don’t know what’s in it, don’t eat it” – especially if it’s a big day (like test day). Not only is this a good way to avoid eating extra unknown calories to avoid weight gain, but it will also help you feel your best by eating your best. If you MUST eat out, stick to whole foods and avoid all the extra sauces, breads, toppings and junk.

Whether you are a parent or not, these are great healthy changes everyone should try to implement.  🙂

 

Healthy Business Travel: Eating Healthy on the Go

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of National Car Rental. 

“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” 

5 Tips to Packing & Preparing for Fitness Success

5 Tips to Eating Healthy on the GoThe key to sticking to your healthy eating habits is being prepared. If you have something healthy to eat as soon as you first feel hungry, you are a lot less likely to grab fast food or hit a vending machine. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. So pack to eat healthy and act healthy!

Healthy Snacks1. Bring healthy snacks that travel well like 100-calorie packs of almonds, beef jerky, fruit, protein bars, ready-to-go protein drinks, or even a bag of microwave popcorn if you know you are going to have a microwave. (Here is a pic of my snack cooler on my last trip, which held seltzer water, mango, apple, cheese stick, protein bar and cashews.

2. Travel with a water bottle as often as you can to prevent dehydration – and to keep your tummy full.

3. Bring all the tools you need to help you be excited to hit the hotel gym, like wear your favorite pair of tennis shoes, make a new playlist on your ipod, or plan to watch a show on your ipad while you do cardio. If it isn’t fun, and you aren’t prepared, you are less likely to do it.

4. Pick up health and fitness magazines when traveling to keep you motivated and focused on healthy things while flying or traveling long distances.

5. Request a refrigerator and hit the grocery store if you are staying in your hotel for a long time. You’ll probably save money from not eating out as much, plus you’ll eat a lot healthier too!

Eat This, Not That

Eat This, Not That: Making Healthier Menu Choices

Whether you are ordering room service, or at a restaurant, here are a few tips to making healthier choices.

room serviceBreakfast:

  • Order egg beaters instead of an omelet
  • Choose ham or lox instead of bacon or sausage
  • Whole grain toast or bagel instead of white bread or a bagel
  • Choose fruit, yogurt or oatmeal instead of cereal, pancakes or pastries

Lunch:

  • To-Go BoxOrder a salad instead of a sandwich
  • If you do order a sandwich, only eat half at lunch, and save the other half for a snack
  • Choose grilled foods over fried food
  • Pick the meal with the least amount of ingredients and fat
  • Put half our meal in a to-go box before you even take the first bite

Dinner:

  • Heathy dinnerChoose simple meals over multi-ingredient meals
  • Choose whole foods, like grilled meat with green veggies, instead of pasta or rice dishes
  • Choose fish or chicken over red meat, and sweet potato over white potato or white rice
  • If you must have pasta, rice or bread, have it during the day, when your body will use those calories. Your body doesn’t need carbs to sleep so trade high carb sides for low-calorie green veggies like broccoli, asparagus, spinach or salad.
  • Choose a salad that only has 1 or 2 high-calorie foods on it, over a salad with nuts, cheese, fruit, dried fruit and a fattening dressing to boot!
  • If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage, choose the drink that will take you the longest to consume, like red wine. Sip it slow

Food Prep Tips:

The best way to avoid high-calorie meals on the go, is to prepare food in advance – even if you travel. Even though Steve travels once a week, we tupperware our food, throw it in a cooler and take it with us – whether we are just traveling across town – or out of town!  We never go anywhere without something to eat or snack on.

CLICK HERE to get some of these recipes.

Continue conversation with #HealthyBizTravel

CLICK HERE to learn how to Exercise On The Go with Steve
CLICK HERE to learn to train in transit with Kristin at http://stuftmama.com coming July 9th!

The Dieter’s (Smart) Shopping List

DON'T DIET, EAT SMART!Eat Smart. Shop Smart.

If you can’t shop right, you can’t eat right. Dieting and eating clean (low-fat, high protein, whole foods) starts at the grocery store.

Below is a shopping list categorized by what you can eat, and how much you can eat. You see, not all high-calorie foods are bad. High calorie foods are necessary, but you just have to limit them.

For instance, nuts are very healthy, but the calories add up fast so they are in the “Use Sparingly” column. However, you can eat a TON of fish and asparagus so they’re in the “Enjoy Plenty” column.

How do you want to spend your 211 calories?
4oz tilapia AND 11 spears of asparagus AND 1 cup of cauliflower
OR 1/4 cup (which is only 1 1/4 ounce) of almonds

Both of the above options are 211 calories, but with one option you can eat a LOT and the other option you only can eat a LITTLE. When you choose correctly, this is what I call eating smart – and the smarter you eat, the happier you will be, the healthier you will feel, and the faster you will reach your goal!

Dieter’s Shopping List

Click on the list below to open in a new window and enlarge or print. 🙂
NOTE: This doesn’t cover all the foods we eat, but these are just some of the most common foods on our own shopping list to give you some ideas. This list is mainly a list of whole foods and doesn’t include items like milk, vinegar, creamer, etc. 

dieter's grocery list

What are some items that are always on YOUR grocery list?

BREAK-THE-FAST RIGHT! The Best & Worse Breakfasts

The word “breakfast” literally means breaking the fast. After not eating for hours during the night, your first meal of the day breaks the fast, raises your blood sugar, and revs your metabolism. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and the most neglected. Whether people skip it or just choose poorly, most people are not getting the nutrition they need to feel good throughout the day.

Breakfast is necessary to wake your body up. You can try using coffee to fake your system out, but coffee doesn’t fuel your body like food does and it will eventually let you down.

So, now that you know how important breakfast is, here are the best and worse breakfasts, along with a few tips to boot!

TOP WORSE BREAKFASTS 

Top 5 Fattening Sweet

  1. Donuts
  2. Danishes
  3. Cinnamon rolls
  4. Pancakes, waffles and French Toast (made with oil, butter and syrup)
  5. Deceiving Muffins, Coffee Cakes & Scones (although fat in muffins r better than the fat in donuts)

Top 5 Fattening Salty

  1. Sausage
  2. Bacon
  3. Eggs with yolks (restaurants also cook them in loads of oil)
  4. Hashbrowns and Tatar Tots
  5. Omelets with real egg and cheese (and lots of oil)

Top 5 Sugary Prepackaged Breakfasts

  1. Cereal
  2. Pop Tarts
  3. Taster Strudel
  4. Cereal Bars
  5. Granola (high in fat & sugar – better used as a yogurt topping)

COMING UP on Motivation Monday:
Men’s Fitness‘ Top 5 Worse Restaurant Breakfast Food 

I’ll be unveiling the top worse Restaurant breakfast food on my Monday Radio Show. Here are some hints:

  1. What Denny’s Meal has Over 1,160 and nearly 3,000mg sodium?
  2. What IHOP meal looks healthier than it is – with 920 calories & 70gm of fat?
  3. Which Hardee’s Monster Biscuit has a days worth of sodium AND fat in one sandwich!?
  4. Which McDonald’s sandwich do you want to avoid the most?
  5. What Sonic Breakfast Sandwich with Sausage has 51gm of fat?

We’ll post the Ustream footage after it airs from 7AM-8AM Monday on WTTB 1490 right here! Listen LIVE or on Ustream!

OR subscribe to The SideLine Radio UStream to be the first to be notified when it’s LIVE!

BEST & WORST fromNutrition Action:

Burger King the WORST breakfast fast food joint and
Einstein Bagels the BEST for serving 300 calorie bagel thin sandwiches & low fat cream cheese. Also, Einstein bagel’s cream cheese is double whipped which means it has ¼ less fat in them. 8 of the 11 flavors have HALF the fat of regular cream cheese, yet they don’t label them light or low fat.

BEST BREAKFASTS

Top 5 GOOD Breakfast Food

  1. Dairy – yogurt & milk
  2. Whole Grains – oatmeal, whole grain, high fiber, low-sugar cereal, whole grain toast
  3. Egg Beaters, Egg Whites or Eggs with fewer yolks
  4. Ham steak and Turkey Sausage instead of Bacon
  5. Fruit

Skipping Breakfast Quadruples Your Chances of Obesity

4 Reasons Why: 

  1. Breakfast fuels your body.
  2. Breakfast increases your metabolism.
  3. Breakfast keeps you sharp. (Have a good breakfast on big days, like test days & big meetings)
  4. Breakfast prevents overeating at lunchtime.

 See all 18 Worse Breakfasts Featured in Men’s Fitness Magazine

7 Ways to Get Food Off Your Mind, and Your Hips!

food for thoughtIn my experience, people don’t have trouble going on a diet – they have trouble sticking to it. It’s just too easy to get side-tracked and tempted. On top of just normal temptations, as soon as we begin a diet, we start obsessing over food. We are constantly thinking of what we can and cannot eat, what we should eat and what we want to eat. I even see people doing cardio watching the food network. Does that really make any sense at all?

I believe people don’t set enough boundaries – not just with food, but with their thoughts. We trust ourselves just a little too much. We put ourselves in stupid compromising situations and then wonder why we fail.

food for thoughtPersonally, I think we think about food way too much. We “allow” our thoughts to explore territory our mouths should never go while dieting. Instead of thinking about our training and new fit bodies, we are dreaming and scheming up ways to create some “healthy” dish we can try to squeeze in our plan so we don’t feel so deprived – but are we really deprived? When was delicious grilled chicken and asparagus an example of being deprived?  When was having abs and feeling great not worth going without pizza? Do you really want to taste pizza more than wear some kick-butt jeans without a muffin top? Let’s put things in to perspective so you can begin succeeding!

Before you explore these tips, first decide whether you are in maintenance or weight loss mode. If you are maintenance, you can be a little less strict – or you can follow these rules during the week, but enjoy a little more freedom on the weekend. If you are in diet mode, then these 7 tips should help you stay on the fast track to success.

7 Practical Diet Tips to Help You Stay On Track

menu1. Stick to a routine. Eating the same foods, like the same one or two breakfasts every day, helps keep dieting simple. The less you have to think about what I should eat, the easier it is to eat healthy. The more variety you have, the more excited your tastebuds will get – and they may want more. If you eat oatmeal every day, I doubt you’ll want to overeat or go back for seconds.

2. Avoid restaurant menus. Should an alcoholic spend time looking through the drink menu? Should they walk the isles of ABC liquor? Of course not! So why should a dieter spend time shopping a menu with pictures of food they shouldn’t eat. All it does is open the windows of our hungry mind. If you must eat out, either make your decision before you even show up to the restaurant, or have someone else help you order if you are tempted to go off plan.

3. Make rules and stick with them. In our house, dinners are always one meat and one green veggie. Period. Since we don’t need carbs to sleep, we save carbs (like a sweet potato) for lunch. Setting rules helps us stay on track. No rules, no boundaries, no success.

food prep4. Prepare your food when you aren’t hungry. We cook a good bulk of our food on Sundays AFTER we eat lunch. When meals are made in advance, all we have to do is heat them up when you get hungry. If you wait to cook when you are hungry, you are more likely to focus on what you want to taste rather than what you need to eat – and you may whip up something higher in calories because you are thinking with your stomach, and not your new fit brain.

5. Rely primarily on whole foods. I love making turkey meatloaf and yummy meals, but Steve can’t control himself around them. So, 75% of our meals are whole foods, and only 25% are multi-ingredient dishes. This gives us just enough variety without sabotaging our diet.

6. Be patient when cooking. Rely on seasoning and slow cooking (like a crock pot or roaster) to boost flavor instead of sauces and added ingredients. Many times we add more calories than necessary simply because we cook too fast and don’t allow seasonings to be absorbed in the food.

Pistachios7. Know what you can and cannot handle. No matter how motivated someone is in the morning, that motivation can be forgotten by the time you are standing in the pantry staring at the nuts at night. If you can’t handle having certain snacks or foods in the house, don’t let them past your front door. Sometimes it’s best to go without than to try to practice self-control (and fail over and over).

Remember, the only way you will be successful is to be honest with yourself. Some people are super disciplined and some people aren’t. Be honest with yourself and set goals accordingly.

Results Taste Better

Whatever your goal is, whether it’s to lose a few pounds or compete (like this chick below), spend more time thinking about your training, and less time thinking about food. If you want abs more than you want ice cream, then put a set of abs on the freezer door to remind you what you want long term. Because, honestly, 10 minutes of pleasure isn’t worth ruining a reward you can enjoy all day every day – because I’m pretty sure this chick is not the least bit upset about the foods she missed out on while she stands fit and proud on stage.

figure competitor

Kitchen Tips: Preparing for Diet Success

groceriesAs I always say, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – and if you are trying to eat healthy, planning is a necessity.

It starts at the grocery store, but that’s not where it ends. I know a lot of people who buy healthy food that ends up rotting in bottom of the refrigerator. So, you not only need to shop healthy, you need to buy stuff you know you will actually cook – not stuff you hope you will eat. Good intentions won’t help you lose weight. Follow through will. And once you cook up your food, it still doesn’t stop there. You need to make sure you have all the tupperware you need so it goes where you go. Plastic forks, spoons, lunch bag – you name it, if it helps you stick to your diet, it’s worth being properly stocked.

With that said, cooking is definitely the hardest part of the process. It takes time, but it is SO worth it. This why we set aside time to cook for the week – and Sundays are those days for us. It’s our chance to cook up all our meat for the week, and box up our meals so we stay on track, no matter what craziness comes our way.

Since many people ask me what we make, I thought I’d share our shopping list, as well as what we made for this week.

My Shopping List:

grocery shoppingMixed Greens
Avocado
Grapes
Mango
Onions
Bell Pepper
Asparagus
Sweet Potato
Mushrooms
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Balsamic Vinegar
Almond Butter
Chicken
Tilapia
Salmon
Ground Lean Turkey
Lean Cuisines (for emergency)
Egg Whites/Egg Beaters
Oatmeal
Granola (for sprinkling o yogurt)
Dasani Drops
Edamame
Soy Sauce
Light Balsamic Dressing
Roasted Almonds
Kosher Dill Pickles
100 Calorie Popcorn
130 Calorie Packs of Pistachios
Starbucks Coffee
Sugar Free Creamer
Stevia
Greek Yogurt Snack Packs
Low-Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sticks
Anderson Pretzel Stix
Beef Jerky
4 Gallons of Water

Once I get my groceries, then I prepare the meat. My focus is to have a meat and one vegetable for each meal. I save my higher-carb items (like sweet potato) for lunches, and stick to leafy greens with a meat at night.

Meat for the Week

Grilled Filleted Fajita Lime Chicken
Large Grilled Salmon with Ginger and Wasabi
Grilled Tilapia with Lemon & Mojo Mama Blacked Dry MOJO
Roasted Curry Chicken & Vegetables
Breadless Low-Calorie Turkey Meatloaf
Curry Chicken Salad

As always, I played in the kitchen and created meals based on what I was in the mood for. I rarely follow recipes, and I almost never measure anything, unless I am following a recipe. So, bare with me as I try to recall what I did, in hopes it at least gets you on the right track. 🙂

Cook Healthy to Eat Healthy

curry chicken roastRoasted Curry Chicken
Chicken Breast (I cooked 8-10)
1 Can Lite Coconut Milk

2 Onions Sliced Thick
2 Sweet Potato (peeled and diced in 2″ chunks)
3 Bell Peppers Sliced Thick
2 Cans Water Chestnuts
A Butt-Load of Curry Powder 🙂
Sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper to add zip
Sprinkle Stevia to sweeten (to taste)
Salt to taste

Put in a roaster or crock pot. After the food is done, I add more stevia, curry and salt until I get the taste I want, which is a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. If it’s too sweet, you may need more salt to balance it.

After the chicken was all done and absorbed the yummy flavors of the curry and vegetables, I took out 3 breasts and chopped them up in cubes for a curry chicken salad. Here is what I put in it.

Curry Chicken Salad

curry chicken salad3 Chicken Breast
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/8 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup light mayo (or yogurt) 
1 C chopped grapes
1 T stevia
1 T curry powder
salt & pepper
Cucumber (optional)

Mix it all up and pop it in the fridge to chill. Cut a cucumber in half, longways, and scoop out the seeds with a tablespoon until it makes a nice boat. Serve the chicken salad on the cucumber boat. Serve with wheat thins if you are serving guests. Dieters skip the chips and just enjoy it as is.

Spicy Healthy Salmon Patties

Last night I came home and realized I had no defrosted meat. It was time to get creative so I looked in the pantry and found some canned smoked salmon. First, I should tell you that I do NOT like salmon. I like fish, but I’m not a salmon steak kinda girl. It’s just too fishy to me, however, I like smoked salmon and I like salmon patties. Go figure!

So I decided to make one of my childhood favorites, salmon croquettes. Here is what I whipped together. It’s quick, easy, healthy and yummy!

1 can (16 ounces) smoked atlantic wild salmon
1 small onion, finely grated
1 finely chopped jalapeño
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of fajita seasoning or your favorite seasoning salt
ground black pepper, to taste
4 egg whites (I used egg whites in a carton)
1 – 1 1/2 cups almond flour (paleo) or your favorite bread crumbs
A dash of garlic
Salt (to taste)

Mix all together, form into patties and fry them lightly in olive oil or pam on medium heat until firm and brown. Serve with ketchup if you are a southern girl (or guy) like me, or top with salsa and/or low-fat sour cream! Totally delish!!

Note: you don’t have to use so much egg, I just doubled what it calls for to bump the protein up some more 🙂

20130122-083650.jpgNutritional information:
233 calories
26.6 gms protein
15.7 gms carbs
6.5 gms fat (plus oil if you cook it in oil or butter)
0 saturated fat
2.7gm fiber

5 New Healthy Eating Habits for Weight Loss

Are You Eating Backwards?

People who struggle with their weight often find their evening meal to be the most challenging. When it comes to dieting, most people don’t have much of a problem watching calories throughout the day. Then they come home and BAM! They eat more calories in one sitting than they did all day long.

One reason this happens is we’ve been conditioned to eat big meals for dinner. Normally that means a meat, a couple of sides, and sometimes bread or dessert – but who said a meal has to be a 7-course meal? It must have been the same person who invented the Pop Tart for breakfast – and they have it all backwards.

Let’s look at food as fuel. Do you need a lot of fuel to power you to sleep? No. Do you need fuel to power you to work? Yes. So why would we have a small breakfast and big dinner? It’s completely opposite from what our body needs.

5 Healthy Food Habits for Weight Loss

Here are small changes you can make to your daily eating habits that can deliver BIG results.

1. Eat a 300-400 calorie breakfast with a nice balance of fat, protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Stock up on breakfast foods like Egg Beaters, oatmeal, bagel thins, low-carb wraps, grits, Chobani greek yogurt, Designer Whey vanilla protein, peanut butter, granola and fruit. Plan ahead and be creative. Cooking breakfast in advance and utilizing leftovers (like spinach, asparagus and meats) can really help create fast fixings.

2. Splurge for lunch. Instead having your biggest meal at dinner, schedule cheat meals at lunch. At least you will have several hours to burn off what you ate, instead of eating at night and hitting the sack on a full stomach. Even if you are eating healthy, try to save your high-carb meals, like sandwiches, pastas and potatoes, for lunchtime.

3. Simplify dinner. Don’t over-think your evening menu. If you are trying to diet, limit meals to one white meat and one green side. Use a little olive oil or natural fats, like avocado, to help the meal stay with you longer. Green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, zucchini, collards, cabbage and salad greens are normally lower in calories. Be very sparing with beans, even the green kind. Peas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and kidney beans are all higher in carbohydrates and calories. One green bean that’s an exception is the soy bean (edamame). Edamame has a excellent balance of carbs, fats and protein. YUM!

4. Just skip it. Sometimes people eat just because they think they are “supposed to”. Just because it’s meal time, you don’t always have to eat a traditional meal. If you come home late at night, or you really aren’t that hungry, sometimes it’s OK to just make a protein shake and call it a night – especially if you just left the gym. Or maybe you decide to just have a few almonds and a piece of fruit, or some yogurt to curb your appetite. Although you do need to keep a steady small amount of calories coming in to keep your metabolism revved, they don’t have to be anything fancy or complicated.

5. Choose only one 100-200 calorie evening snack. If you are like me, you can snack the entire night away if you let yourself. Instead, choose your snack wisely. Do you crave sweets? Then a sugar-free fudge pop, jello pudding or fruit may be the way to go. Do you crave salty snacks? Then you may prefer 100-calorie popcorn as your go-to snack. Whatever you choose, try to limit your calories to only one 100-200 calories, and only choose one item – that includes drinks. Even if you WANT to snack, you won’t die if you go without snacking – and those little after-dinner calories add up quick so be stingy with them.

DIET: 7 Ways to Cheat Smart

Back in the day, when Steve used to go off his diet he would say he was “taking the gloves off” – meaning, no more rules. In sports like boxing and hockey, taking the gloves off means they are about to throw down. No rules, no ref, anything goes.

Well, that’s how Steve and I used to cheat – we’d take the gloves off. However, over the years our eating has changed drastically. Although we totally still cheat on our diet here and there, even cheating is done in moderation.

Vacation or Diet Vacation?
I think too many people “take the gloves off” like we used to – especially when on vacation. They go on vacation and they don’t even try to eat healthy. On the contrary, people often cram as much crappy stuff in their body while on vacation “just because they are on vacation” – as if they’d never get the chance to cheat again.

Sure, you should be able to have some yummy meals and treats on vacation – I’m not suggesting you have to “diet”. What I’m saying is you should still practice self-control and balance. Whether it’s trying to still maintain healthy portions or mixing in healthy meals with cheat meals, eating just to eat shouldn’t be an option.

Our Dumb Rules (AKA: Lame Excuses)
We humans make some of the dumbest diet rules. We have certain occasions we “allow” ourselves to “take the gloves off”.  We cheat when we celebrate. We cheat when we go out of town. We cheat when it’s a Holiday. We cheat on the weekends. We cheat when we’ve had a hard day. Honestly, sometimes we cheat our way through a whole week because of circumstances. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we continue to cheat after several days of cheating, because we’ve been so bad. Really? Is that an excuse? I’ll be bad today just because I was so bad yesterday? Yep, that’s how some of us think and act. How stupid is that?!

Going Over the Limit
We do the very same thing when with spending, especially on vacation. We buy things just to buy things. After blowing it one day, we often blow even more money (and debt) the next day – and many times it’s on stupid stuff. I mean, do you really think you’ll hang that ridiculous Mexican sombrero in your house? Probably not, but you sure will be paying for it, along with all the other junk “that you had to have”, for a lot longer than it took to buy ut. The same goes with diet. You may not be playing by they rules, but the rules still apply – and, believe me, you WILL pay.

7 Ways to Cheat Smart & Win the Fat Fight

You can splurge, taste, play and feel good to – IF you learn to cheat smart. Here are a few ways to enjoy great cuisine without losing your fight with fat.

1.) Only eat what you love. How many times have you eaten something just because it’s in front of you? How many times have you cleaned your plate and the meal wasn’t even that good? Save your cheat calories for only foods you absolutely love.

2.) Make good choices and healthy tradeoffs. Think about what you like the most. Do you want the appetizer more, or the dessert more? Instead of having every course offered, narrow down the choices to what’s most important to you.

3.) Divide your cheat meal up by cutting high-calorie foods in half. If you want to totally splurge on your favorite high calorie dish, don’t overeat too. You can enjoy that deep fried dish, or pasta swimming in alfredo, but save calories by not eating it all in one siting to avoid more calories stored as fat. The good news is you get to have your favorite meal twice!

4.) Choose one: over-eating or over-calorieing. I know, it’s not a word! What I mean is, if your idea of splurging is overeating, then eat healthy. If your idea is eating a high calorie cheat meal, then eat less of unhealthy meals.

5. Plan to cheat. One of the best things you can do is plan your cheat meals out. If you are jonesing for your favorite cheat meal for dinner, eat healthy during the day or do an extra cardio. Save calories on other snacks and meals to allow more room to cheat.

6. Eat for fuel. Remember, what you eat today is how you will feel tomorrow. So, if you’re planning to hit the beach and you want to look good in your bikini, or you want a ton of energy on vacation, you may want to eat how you want to feel – and plan your cheat meals around that. My sister learned this the hard way when we went to Busch Gardens after eating pancakes. Steve and I had a ton energy and she crashed after only 2 hours of being at the park. If you want to feel good, you may want to choose your biggest cheat day for the last day of your trip.

7. Cheating  can be depressing. I don’t know about you, but I want to be happy on vacation. Cheating can really mess with your head. You can mentally feel fat and ugly, causing bad mood swings and emotions. If you want to feel confident and comfortable, limiting crappy meals can make you a much happier camper.

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Photo of Bonnie Pfiester by Misty Lundeen

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