This post is dedicated to the 25 or so women I met Tuesday night who are doing something wonderful for themselves. They have committed to a program with my pal, Michelle, of Fit Revolution, to achieve better fitness, nutrition, and health. Every week they’ll meet with their trainer for a two-hour session, attend at least two fitness classes, and keep a weekly food journal. With a little luck and some tremendous effort, the healthy changes they make over the next two months will transition into lifelong healthy behaviors. Good luck, ladies, ’cause you are on your way!!!
I was thrilled to be invited for the kick-off, where we talked about the food, healthy diets, and mindful eating. It’s so important, when you embark on a healthy journey like this, to make sure you are committing to both the fitness piece AND the healthy eating piece. As Michelle is fond of saying, it doesn’t matter if you exercise until you’re purple in the face, if you then go home and blow it at one poorly chosen meal. Food and fitness go hand in hand!!
There were all kinds of great questions about omega-3’s, sources of iron, Vitamin D, and even the benefits of chia seeds (Michelle’s fave). Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:
VARIETY — one of the best ways to ensure you are getting all the necessary nutrients every day. I challenged these ladies to see if they could tally 15 different foods in their diet each day [harder than it sounds!] Today I managed 15 just barely. Here’s how: whole grain cereal, raisins, almonds, milk (x3), spinach, walnuts, onions (x2), mushrooms, brown rice, orange slices, chicken sausage, green peppers, yellow peppers, noodles, ice cream ( 🙂 )
PLENTY OF FRUITS AND VEGGIES — Experts say you should fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, Eat the rainbow! You heard me. The more color in your diet, the better you’re doing. And of course there’s the fiber factor, an important part of any healthy diet. While everyone knows it keeps things “moving along,” it also helps you to feel full longer, and slows digestion a bit, preventing big spikes in blood sugars after meals.
ADEQUATE, QUALITY PROTEIN — whether you’re a vegetarian or an omnivore, make sure you include protein at your meals and/or snacks. Woman can not live on carbs alone 🙂 Eggs, poultry, fish, lean red meat, nuts, legumes, low- and nonfat dairy, and grains all provide varying amounts of protein. The amino acids from these proteins are key in maintaining structures in the body and supporting lean body mass (i.e., MUSCLE), especially important during weight loss efforts!
WHOLE GRAINS — There are so many to choose from — brown rice, whole grain cereals, quinoa, whole grain crackers and breads, etc. Ideally 2/3 of your grains are whole grains. For more info on why whole grains are important in the diet check out the Whole Grains Council, a non-profit consumer advocacy group.
HEALTHY FATS – We all need some fat in our diet. It provides satiety (that feeling of fullness), flavor, and, most importantly, some essential fatty acids that our bodies can not produces themselves. Avoid trans-fats (found in processed foods) and saturated fats (found in high-fat dairy products and fattier cuts of meat and poultry). Stick to healthier fats found in nuts, seeds, canola oil, olive oil, and the almighty avocado, to name just a few. Moderation is key, since fat is twice as calorically dense as proteins or carbohydrates. Check out this great Q&A by Harvard’s Dr. Sacks, a cardiovascular health expert.
EATING MINDFULLY — what does that mean? It means savoring each bite. It means avoiding the urge to multi-task while eating. No texting, working, reading, tv-watching, or driving during your meal. Most importantly, it means recognizing what your hunger level is at any given meal or snack, and honoring that hunger by eating JUST THE AMOUNT THAT YOU NEED TO FEEL SATISFIED versus eating until you feel “full.”
To help these ladies out, I promised them I’d include a Recipe Round-up of some of my fave healthy recipes. From soups to chili to healthy, simple dinners the whole family might love, there’s a little something for everybody. There’s even a cookie 🙂 If you do try a recipe from JWJ, I’d love to know how you liked it! Leave a comment on the blog or the Juggling With Julia Facebook page and I guarantee you I’ll respond. Go Get ‘Em, Ladies!
Spicy Fish Tacos with Crunchy Slaw
Your mouth won’t believe your taste buds!
Chicken Meatballs and Vegetable Soup
Who doesn’t love mini meatballs?
White Chicken Chili with Greek Yogurt
You’d never know that calcium-boosting yogurt was in this chili!
Wilted Greens with Egg Topper
Quick and healthy supper!
Autumn Harvest Chili
A mild, slightly sweet chili without beans.
Indian Grilled Chicken
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
(I *never* liked Brussels before this recipe!)
Shrimp and Bok Choy Stir Fry
(so quick and easy!)
Healthy Oven-Fried Haddock
(crunchy and delish, and still low-fat)
Heart Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(my kids love these soft, granola-bar type cookies)