Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Positive Ways to Overcome Interactions With Toxic People

When you have to deal with people so toxic you need a gas mask...
I have another site, Intrinsic Vicissitude, where I write a lot about interacting positively with toxic people. I guess because that's a recurring theme in my life. I decided to drop a short piece about finding a positive way to interact with toxic people here today, because dealing with emotional toxicity can be such a powerful trigger for overeating, and for the kind of depression that leaves you emotionally paralyzed and physically unhealthy.

Examples of Toxic Family Members

When the person who 'messes you up' emotionally (Mom or Dad!) is also one who claims to love you most, it's one of the most emotionally paralyzing things you can ever have to deal with - but you can deal with it. It just takes some work, and you have to kind of 'step outside of yourself' and look at that person with compassion instead of rage. (I know - it isn't easy - believe me, I know.)

Spouses also have a huge negative impact on your psyche if you get a toxic one. After all, who has more influence on your life than the person you interact with daily and you depend on, or should be able to depend on, as a partner in life.

Kids, are even able to be a toxic influence in your life, more as they grow older and pick up the behaviors of the negative people around you.

Really, any family member you care about has the potential to be the 'bringer of psychological toxins' - and it falls to you to learn how to build a protective shield around your psyche. The problem is - that's not an easy thing to do. 

Strategies to Help You Deal With Toxic People

  • Give yourself something positive to hold onto.
    • Focus on it for a few minutes every day - multiple times a day if you interact with toxic people a lot.
    • Find things you love about yourself or your life - this can be things you've done, your faith in a higher power, charity work you help with, being a good cook, being organized - anything that makes you feel positive. 
    • Write it on a little paper, or take a picture, so you can look at it any time you need a boost after dealing with the toxic person in your life.
  • Get a simple talisman to wear.
    • This can be a ring, a key ring, a piece of jewelry like a brooch or necklace, anything really. 
    • Focus on your 'positive thing' while holding the talisman, and let it represent that positive thing in your mind. 
    • Wear or take this talisman everywhere, and any time you are dealing with your toxic person, touch the talisman as a reminder that this person is nothing - that they have no power to control your emotions - because you claimed your own power and it is in your fingertips to use.
  • Practice compassion.
    • Normal, emotionally healthy people do NOT go around destroying other people - so if someone is being toxic to you - it is because they are not emotionally healthy.
    • They deserve your pity, not vice versa.
    • So, even if that person gets you upset and even enraged, try to focus on the fact that this person who is trying to hurt you emotionally is acting from a place of fear and pain.
  • Don't engage in the toxicity.
    • When you catch yourself reacting to another person's negativity, don't talk louder.
    • Don't argue with them.
    • Your negative reaction to their emotional abuse - and that's exactly what it is - emotional abuse - is what they feed off of - simply end the discussion, or smile sweetly and change the subject. 
  • Find some non-toxic people to be part of your life.
    • Not everyone sucks.
    • If you're surrounded by toxic people, give yourself permission to go somewhere positive people hang out. This can be church, or somewhere you can volunteer to do charity work.
  • Accept the unconditional love of a pet.
    • If you aren't able to have a pet where you live, or you don't have time for a full-time pet, you can always volunteer at an animal shelter to get your fix of unconditional love from a pet.
  • Write it out.
    • Write a letter to the toxic person, detailing how they make you feel and how angry it makes you - cuss - rant - rage - let it all out. 
    • Do NOT send it.
    • The toxic person does NOT deserve to know how you feel and they would just "feed" off of it anyway.
    • These are your words and thoughts about how you've been treated, and once you write them down, they are out of your heart and you have the choice to let them go so they are not - or do not have to be - part of your existence any longer.
    • I personally burn these letters in the fireplace after I write them, and picture the smoke floating into the sky carrying the hurt and anger away. (It's a little cheesy, but it works.)

Positivity Versus Toxicity

The most important thing is that you find positive ways to deal with the toxicity other people throw at you. It isn't an easy thing to do, overcoming the toxic behavior of other people, but it can be done, and most important - you can do it. Don't let someone else's negativity ruin your day - or worse yet -your life. Own the good things about yourself, and if you screw up, like every human being on the planet does occasionally, own it and move on. 

Someone else's opinion about you is just that, THEIR opinion - and honestly - if it's negative - it has more to do with how that person feels about themselves than it does with you. So, Mom, thank you for telling me four times yesterday that I'm stupid. Stupid? I went to college, worked hard, earned a degree and extra certifications, and graduated WITH HONORS - I'm not stupid! But - - It's good to know how you feel about yourself, Mom, but give yourself a break, you may be mean, but you aren't stupid, either.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Calculating the Nutrition Info in a Recipe

Calculating the nutrition info in a recipe can be  a lot of work if you do it by hand. Tonight, I found some apps that figure out the numbers for you. I tested out the one on SparkPeople, because everything else I've tried on that site has been so great and easy to use.

Calculating the Nutrition info in a Recipe image courtesy of Pixabay

My Experience With the SparkRecpes Nutrition Info Calculator

I made a chicken and broccoli stir fry for dinner, (not the one shown above, mine didn't turn out that pretty) and I was sitting down to enter the nutrition info for each separate item, it occurred to me to look for something that would let me enter the whole recipe and then break it down into serving seizes. I found several apps that looked good, but SparkPeople came through for me again, with SparkRecipes.

I entered everything I had thrown in the pan. Then I hit "Calculate". In about 2 seconds I was looking at an extremely detailed nutrition info label that was easy to read. But, I had forgotten an ingredient. So, I went back, thinking I would have to start over, but nope, everything was still there. What a time saver!!

Calculating Nutrition Info By Hand

To calculate the nutrition info in a recipe when you don't have an app available, grab a piece of paper and a pen.
  • Write the calories for each ingredient, then each other piece of nutrition info you track, like carbs, proteins, and fats.
  • Add up the calories, and other info types.
  • Divide each total by the number of servings.
Okay, it's only 3 steps, but when you add in the fact that you're doing it for every detail you want to track, it can get pretty time consuming. Using an app that calculates your recipe's nutrition info for you just makes it so easy and fast. 

Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your experience with nutrition info calculators and which one you like best. Oh, and if you're interested, join us on Facebook for updates and other info shared on the F&C page.

When Do You Like to Exercise?

I've always enjoyed exercising, but when I gained weight, it got harder and harder with each few pounds and I stopped. It was a vicious cycle, because without the active lifestyle, the weight kept coming, and with the weight building up on my body, it got harder to exercise.

When Do You Like to Exercise? image courtesy of Pixabay

Bedtime Exercise Routines?

So, lately, I've been exercising every day, making a point of it, and most days I end up squeezing in a workout right before bed because I forget to do it when I'm working. (And, as a copywriter, I live a very sedentary lifestyle.)

Logically, I know that's not the ideal because it can interfere with sleep. Plus, it would be very easy to forget and just go back to slacking off because, well, at the end of the day I'm tired. (Who isn't?)

Morning Workouts?

Today, I was logging my breakfast on SparkPeople, because I find their app easy to use and I helps me to see the details of what I've eaten. Plus, I love the little charts they provide that make it even easier to see how I'm doing.

Seated Dumbbell Workout

So anyway, while I was recording what I had eaten, I noticed a link to SparkTV. I clicked it and it was a bunch of free to watch exercise videos! I picked out a 9-minute seated dumbbell workout first and used my 3-pound weights. It was great and I got a surprisingly good burn in my upper body muscles, abs, and arms.

Seated Cardio Workout

I was having fun at that point, so I picked an 11-minute seated cardio workout with the same instructor. I had my doubts when I picked it but figured it was worth a try. It was great! And, surprisingly intense, though the instructor did explain how to increase or lower the intensity by adapting the movements.

So, now it's still morning, and I've completed a task I normally put off till the end of the day, and I feel great about it. That leaves me wondering; when do other people enjoy working out?

emoticon I would love to hear how everyone else fits in their workout and if you get the same positive feelings after finishing a good workout!

Feel free to share in the comments, browse around the site for more information, and be sure to join us on the Facebook F&C page.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Introduction to the Keto Diet

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine told me about the Keto diet, or more appropriately, the keto WOE (way of eating) and I was beyond curious when she told me she had lost 53 pounds so far this year. (I mean, the year's only a little over halfway over and that's a lot of weight to lose fast.)

Keto Diet image courtesy of Pixabay

I have been struggling with my weight for pretty much my whole adult life - and the older I got - the more I struggled with it. I've tried diets, lots of them. Some sensible, some crazy as all get out. Some work for me.... for a while.... but then the pounds come back and bring friends - meaning more pounds.

Learn About the Keto Diet

I was excited to try this new diet that my friend is having such amazing results with, but first, I wanted to make sure it would be safe. So, I started researching it, and I found a lot of amazing and confusing information.
As noted by Daily Health Post, the ketogenic diet was originally developed by the Mayo Clinic in 1924. It was originally created to help reduce the seizures experienced by epileptic patients. The dramatic weight loss the keto way of eating produced was discovered as an unexpected result. 
The diet is described by physicians at the Mayo Clinic as causing the body to produce ketones. Ketones force your body to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. Glucose is what your body produces when you eat carbs, cutting carbs and making healthy fats available in your body makes your body produce ketones, or a state of ketosis, so, you're body learns to burn fat instead of carbs.

There are also a lot of other health claims about this diet (as of August 2017) such as it helps keep cancer in check, it helps control diabetes, and several other things. I can't really speak to those claims, because I'm just a person researching and trying a new diet, and I want to tell you about it because I'm impressed with what I see so far.

The Ketogenic Diet vs. Traditional Diet Thinking

I really can't describe how confused I was when I first started reading about ketosis. The ketogenic diet is basically high fat, moderate protein and low carb. What? High fat to lose weight? I've heard about high protein/low fat dieting, and I've seen the results.

Like keto, dramatic results in weight loss, BUT, as soon as the diet ends, and you go back to your old way of eating, the weight comes back fast, with more (just like I mentioned earlier - but  no - I never tried the high protein/low carb diet. I just saw some friends try that one.)

I think that rebound effect also would apply to the ketogenic way of eating, and that's probably why it's not typically described by most people trying it as a diet anymore, so much as a lifestyle change.

I would suggest that anyone who wants to try the ketogenic diet talk to their doctor, or physical trainer, and do plenty of research just to be safe. Everyone's body is different, so the diet that's perfect for one person may bring disastrous results to someone else.

The Evolution of the Keto Diet

The original version of the ketogenic diet developed by the Mayo Clinic had patients consume:
  • 75 percent of daily calories from fat
  • 20 percent of calories from protein
  • 5 percent of calories each day from carbohydrates
More modern versions of this way of eating as a weight loss program have lowered the fat intake a bit and slightly raised the protein and carb intake allowances to:
  • 40 percent fat
  • 30 percent protein
  • 30 percent carbs
For the version I'm trying, I don't actually even look at the percentages, I look at the grams of carbs I eat each day. My ideal goal is 20 grams of carbs or less per day, with up to 50 being acceptable. If I stick to clean carbs, like fresh vegetables, this isn't to hard to manage.

No Deprivation and Dirty Keto

I want to admit now that I don't do well with diets that are based on deprivation. I'm not a person who is going to thrive on a diet that leaves me hungry all the time. With this way of eating, you're not hungry all the time because the fat makes you feel full. You do end up lowering your overall calorie intake, but it's because you're not hungry all the time. Compare that to a carb-rich diet, where you are likely to be hungry all the time, for huge quantities of food.

The low carb availability drastically limits fruit, which I love, so at some point, I plan to adapt my keto way of eating to allow for more fruit. For me, that may mean switching to a paleo version of the diet, or simply going "dirty keto" to allow for my love of fruit.

My Experience With 9 Days on the Keto Diet

So, I've told you a bit about what I found in researching the ketogenic diet, but I haven't shared me experience so far. 

(I use the SparkPeople trackers to record my information, because it's so user-friendly. The nutrition entry doesn't seem to adapt for the keto diet, but I use it to record my dietary intake and refer to the chart it provides at the bottom of the page to get an idea how I'm doing as far as keto eating.)

Day 9: Out of the eight days I've completed, I actually only hit the 20 grams of carbs or less I was trying for once (It's amazingly hard to cut carbs that low, at first anyway.) Even with not doing the diet perfectly, as of this morning, the start of my 9th day, I have dropped 9 pounds. I've also lost 1/4-inch on my waist, 1-3/4 inches on my hips, 2 inches on my right thigh, and 1-inch on my upper right arm. (I didn't track the left side because the app didn't give me a spot to do that.) 

I've always heard that losing weight too fast is a bad thing, but I feel better already. My previous daily bouts of acid reflux have not flared up one single time in the days I've been doing keto. I've also been sleeping better and I'm not having the aches and pains (hip/knees) I did before. I have to admit I was pretty cranky the first 2 days, but once my body adapted to the new way of eating, my mood improved and it's, well, pretty great.

Motivating Weight Loss Numbers

Seeing the numbers go down on the scale and feeling my clothes get looser are also highly motivating things. I can hardly wait to start really experimenting with keto recipes so I can tell you a bit more about the keto diet, and share some ways to make it easy to get started if you're interested and your doc approves the diet for you.

By Laure Justice

Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your thoughts and questions about the keto diet in the comments, and join us on the F&C Facebook page to see updates on this information and new recipes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Actual Amount of Fruit and Vegetable Servings We Should Get Daily and Here's Why

Fruit and Vegetable Servings
Fruit and Vegetable Servings image courtesy of Pixabay

Remember the old food pyramid? That old thing that used to tell us the right foods and quantities to eat for a well balanced, healthy and nutritious diet? For those that can not recall, or maybe are too young to remember, in the early 90’s the United States Department of Agriculture released the first real traditional food model specifically focused on dietary consumption and provided within it were the recommended values of the varying food groups. The pyramid put a big focus on whole grains and the inclusion of fruits and vegetables and dairy products for a healthy, well balanced diet.

Throughout the 90’s as dietary fads grew, carbohydrates began to become more feared and the diet went through all sorts of transformations from being turned upside down, made into circles, squares, and all kinds of new trending shapes. One thing however that did not seem to be changing was the amount of servings of fruit and vegetables that should be present in a well balanced diet. Until recently the recommended amount was consistently four to five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and was treated only as a supplement to main, carbohydrate and protein-centric dishes rather than being the bulk of our fiber and carbohydrate intake.

So are we getting enough fruit and vegetable servings in our diet with four to five servings a day?

Info on Fruit and Veggie Intake Quality and Quantity

The thing about the intake of fruits and vegetables is that they can offer fullness through fiber content, a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, and provide a lighter feeling throughout the digestion process, all while not destroying your daily calorie count as you munch away. The main things to consider in eating your 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is sugar intake and variety; you want to shoot for a ‘produce-rainbow’ and avoid overeating the same fruit multiple times.

For instance, bananas are power packed with potassium and and B-6 but are also on the higher side when it comes to sugar and carbohydrates, now while these natural sugars and carbohydrates shouldn’t be treated like processed sugars and carbs as they digest faster and provide healthy regeneration of energy stores necessary for physical activity, you still don’t want to overdue your glucose intake by eating 4-5 bananas a day.

An Example of a Good Day's Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

In the following I will provide a normal day's intake of fruit and veggies as an example of how to eat and when. For best digestion, all fruit and vegetables should be eaten first with any meal; avoid eating any acidic fruits after other foods as this complicates digestion and can lead to stomach ache.

Here's what a normal day's diet looks like when shooting for 7-8 servings:

  1. First serving: Morning Coffee with Banana and Oatmeal - (Pros: Potassium, B-6/ Cons: 12-16g sugar)
  2. Second and third servings: 10 am Carrots and Grapefruit - (Pros: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, low sugar content, energizing/ cons: prep work)
  3. Fourth serving: Something Green With Lunch - Kale/Broccoli/Spinach (Pros: Calcium, Iron, Fiber)
  4. Fifth serving: Mid Day Snack - Berries and mint leaves (Pros: refreshing and energizing, heart health, focus)
  5. Sixth, seventh and eighth servings: Dinner should be 70% Veggie 30% other. Finish your day off with vegetable based carbs and avoid large meals or bread right before bed. Think beats, tomato, chard, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, sweet potato.
Why the Fruit and Vegetables? As a vegetarian, I am always asked if I think it is worth it to diet my whole life in some weird attempt at trying to live forever. In response I offer that it is not about living forever, but rather about being able to use my body to the fullest extent while I am here. As you phase more servings of healthy fruit and vegetables into your daily routine and diet you will not only notice a difference in energy stores and alertness, but you will also be helping yourself to lower your blood-pressure and strengthen your heart.

At the core of our cardiovascular issues as a human race is poor diet and exercise, if you up your raw fruit and vegetable content to 7-8 servings per day you are doing your due diligence to ward off disease by creating a strong immune system and building a powerhouse of antioxidants in your body.

It is not easy to go from zero to 100 in fruit and vegetable consumption, especially if you do not know where to begin. I encourage trying to take on the dietary change with a friend and doing as much further research as you can to learn how to add variety and zest to your diet.

Eating beautiful raw fruits and vegetables should be one of the joys of living on this wonderful earth, so do your best to get as many of the proper servings a day and you will feel light and invigorated, your skin will look beautiful, and you will be on your way to a healthier you!

By  IWrite4U!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Commitment: The Key to Successful Weight Loss

While losing weight and keeping it off is almost like a living mat equation, with the calories you eat and activity you expend equaling either your weight loss or gain, according to the Mayo Clinic, the key to successful weight loss starts in your mind.

Weight Loss image courtesy of MorgueFile

While weight loss success or failure is linked to how well you implement dietary and exercise changes, it starts with your commitment to lose weight. 

If you've struggled to lose weight in the past, only to end up with unsatisfying results, first, give yourself a break, then get your mindset ready to move ahead. Obesity, stress, and depression are so tightly linked that pushing ahead with weight loss without finding a way to cope with the other emotions is practically setting yourself up to fail. But, it doesn't have to be like that...

The Energy Imbalance Equation Behind Weight Gain

The NIH sums up the cause of the human body storing excess fat with an equation, and it's pretty simple as far as math goes.

Energy In ≠ Energy Out

What that simple equation means is, if you take in more calories (consumed or energy in) than your body burns (energy out) then your body still has to DO something with that excess energy, so it turns it to fat to burn later. But, as you've probably noticed if you're here, reading this, once it turns to fat, it's hard to get rid of, and that's where your mindset becomes the key to your weight loss success.

6 Tips for Creating a Weight Loss Mindset That Works

The excess weight you carry is going to hang around on your body until you are ready, in your mind, to let it go. This can take a lot of self-analysis, and it can take years to get it right if you're going it alone - but every step is one step closer - and even steps that feel like setbacks can be successes if you let yourself learn from the experience.

  1. Think of losing weight as a long term goal, but set smaller goals that let you measure success in increments.
  2. Expect it to take a while to lose excess weight, after all, you didn't gain it all in one day or even a week, so it isn't going to go away in a single day or a week either. 
  3. Expect to have 'bad' days, when you just absolutely NEED that hot fudge sundae, chips or whatever your comfort food is - and know that indulging isn't failure - plan for it ahead of time and make it a reward so it feels like part of your success
  4. Experiment with new recipes. Have fun with it and let it be a good experience. You'll find that some of your favorite comfort foods are perfect for you just as they are - and that's okay but you may need to reduce the quantity of those to meet your weight loss goals. And, you'll find there are some foods you can make more diet-friendly without wrecking the flavor with the addition of things like high-fiber chia seed or flax. 
  5. Keep a food journal that details what you eat, what you're doing when you eat, and how you're feeling both before and after eating.
  6. If you're surrounded by invasive, nosy, critical, or toxic people, you'll want to find a way to do these things while keeping those people out of your weight loss efforts. Using the food journal as an example, you may want to create a password-protected document in your computer or a password-protected blog that only you can access.  
Create a real commitment to yourself and your health, so when the occasional setback occurs, which it invariably will, you will be able to keep forging ahead and succeed with your fitness and weight loss goals.

Other reading material:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

Image of fit, strong abs courtesy of Pixabay

When it comes to fitness, there is a wide variety of options for workout plans that are often tailored to the desired results of the individual. Whether the goal is losing ten pounds or a six pack stomach or toned legs and glutes, there are countless programs available on the market today for whatever your fitness goals.

Among those programs, what may not be taught and is often under-explored, is one of the most important and simple ideas to getting that abdominal tone and definition that needs to bellowed from hilltops far and wide - ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN!

You can spot train all you want, doing dangerous crunches for hours that contort and hinder your spinal health but the lack of results is due to a simple formula that abdominal training follows and that is that ab definition consists of a delicate formula: genetics + muscle +body fat + diet = shredded tummy. A trimmed and defined six-pack can be revealed through the simple addition of healthy alternatives to some of the most over-consumed foods that we will look at below.


Flax seed bread and veggies image courtesy of Pixabay
While cutting out carbohydrates altogether is very dangerous, particularly for more active people, the consideration of healthy alternatives will leave you feeling energized and looking lean. Although whole-wheat is a good emerging option to the standard white bread, it is important to inspect labels for ‘enriched whole wheat flour.’ Enriched whole wheat flour is a variety of carb production where the actual natural nutrients we require from our carbs are removed and added in a chemical compound form on the back end of the food creation.

For example, milled whole grains used to produce the necessary food compounds needed but by upping production and lowering costs companies found a way to essentially create a bread void of any required nutrients that they added through a chemical compound in the baking process. This can cause the carb stores to be misplaced in the body (i.e. sit on the stomach) and also leave you with digestive issues. For all carbs, reach instead for buckwheat alternatives. Buckwheat is an ancient grain that has the most bang for buck on healthy proteins and carbohydrates. This brittle pasta, found in most international sections of your grocery store will leave you with a lighter feeling of fullness and not fill up heavy stores around your stomach region. Quinoa is also an option of ancient grain that supports high levels of protein and needed fibers and makes a good addition to any meal.

Fruits and Veggies for Fullness

Snacking in between meals can be a healthy way to keep your metabolism churning if done correctly. Avoiding processed foods and designing your caloric intake in between meals to consist of mainly fruits and veggies will leave you feeling full while avoiding unwanted food stores around the waistline.

Hummus image courtesy of Pixabay
Some options for healthy snacking include:

  • Tub of hummus and assorted veggies: buy a two-pound tub of hummus (make sure first ingredient is chickpeas) and heads of bok choy, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Nature already provides a perfect dippable delight with these foods so simply clean the raw vegetables and dip and eat with the hummus
  • Nuts: although the overall amount of consumption should be monitored, mix an assortment of nuts in a Tupperware or big bag and keep it handy in your desk or car for a quick bite on the run. Avoid processed ‘trail-mix’ as the sugar content is always more than needed
  • Peanut butter and Banana: ensure that you have correctly processed peanut butter (ingredients should just be peanut butter and salt) and spread it on banana slices for a filling and delicious snack

Healthy Fats and Sugars

Kombucha tea image courtesy of Pixabay
While we need healthy fats and sugars to support brain functionality and energy, as a culture, we consume too much of, or the wrong fats and sugars altogether. Put down the Gatorades and soft drinks and the stores of fat around your stomach will begin to dissipate. If you must have a sweet drink throughout the day reach for a kombucha tea and check the ingredient list for a low sugar content (this will also provide awesome cancer fighting antioxidants).

Replace cooking oils with coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil for a healthier fat option and aim to get all of your sugars naturally from fruit and vegetables.

The pursuit for trimmed six-pack starts with a conscious focus on ingredient lists. Be sure to keep your sugar and fat content down and aim to avoid processed foods by all means. One of the easiest ways to start is to write down a list of the foods you like and piece together a diet based on the raw ingredients rather than processed foods. Fruits and veggies should be your best friend on the way to a toned core!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

5 Healthy Dessert Ideas for Summertime

Looking for those perfect healthy dessert ideas to keep the waste-line thin and the body feeling refreshed and healthy in the summertime can be a bit of a chore. Read on for five delicious, easy, and refreshing desserts to try that won't wreck your diet.

Healthy Summertime Dessert image courtesy of Pixabay

5 Healthy Summertime Dessert Ideas

Here are five ideas for hot weather dessert to keep your taste buds and your beach body happy and smiling.

Honey Lemon Gelatin

Take your desired powdered gelatin and add the zest of fresh lemon, squeeze in a bit of lemon juice and add a few drops of local honey, let it settle in the fridge and serve with a small dollop of homemade whipped topping. Also great with lime or tangerine.

Berry Parfait with Greek Yogurt and Golden Flax

Combine your choice of fresh picked summer berries, drizzle them with honey and layer them in a small glass dish with low-fat Greek yogurt and whole-grain oats. Sprinkle some golden flax seeds on top and you have yourself a perfect blend of protein and sweet to add to your summertime dessert idea book.

Angel Food Cake and Blueberries

Already a light and airy sponge cake, add zest of lemon or orange and serve with chilled berries. The fruit adds color and an amazing sweet-tanginess that makes this a great summertime treat.

Melon half with Strawberries and Mint

Carve and de-seed your melon of choice. Fill the center with diced strawberries, top it with fresh mint leaves and serve chilled.

Cherry- Mint Lemonade Slush

Take your frozen or fresh cherries, blend them with fresh squeezed, sugar-free lemonade and ice for a refreshing, sweet drink. Zest a lemon or add fresh mint to put this joyful summertime treat over the top!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Weight Loss Tips for People With Sedentary Jobs

I was recently researching a customer service job that requires eight hours a day - on the phone - at a desk - emailing - normal office stuff basically. My big concern about the job is that signing up to do an extremely sedentary job would make getting fit an even bigger challenge than it already is - and that's what inspired this article about weight loss tips for people with sedentary jobs.

Weight Loss Tips for People With Sedentary Jobs
Weight Loss Tips for People With Sedentary Jobs

Weight Loss Tips for People With Sedentary Jobs

Make it easy on yourself to fit fitness activities into your work day by putting a small set of dumbbells near your computer or under your desk. If you're allowed to decorate, put up a poster showing some basic dumbbell exercises and seated stretches. This is a great way to remind yourself to get in a few exercises or stretches when websites are loading and when break time rolls around. Stretching and using different muscles to do a few DB presses also helps reduce muscle strain and repetitive stress injuries, so it's an all around good thing.

Track what you eat and drink. At first, you might want to eat and drink normally because that gives you a baseline assessment of how many calories you're consuming each day, but if weight loss is your goal, you'll need to plan to reduce the calories you take in. If you feel like you need large portion to feel full and comfortable, one way to eat a bit more is to take advantage of the fresh vegetable section of your supermarket. For example, a couple hundred calories of potato chips only gives you a few chips to enjoy but you could crunch on a whole bunch of carrots or celery for less calories.

Drive Your Metabolism Up

To boost your metabolism, which is what you need to do if you want to lose weight when you have a sedentary lifestyle, you need to eat, you need to hydrate yourself, and you need to exercise - more specifically - you need to build muscle. The trick is, you need to eat smart (and I confess, I don't always do this, but I keep trying to improve) drink enough water, and pick up those dumbbells and take advantage of what they can do for your body and metabolism. As you get stronger and build muscle, your metabolism starts to climb.

Schedule in regular workouts, whether it's walking, a powerhouse bodybuilding program, or whatever activity you enjoy. Just don't underestimate the value of those mini DB and stretch sessions at your desk, because they give you a boost throughout the day and even short bursts of exercise add to your overall health and ramp up your metabolism.

Thanks for reading, comments are always welcome, and be sure to look for Fat and Cranky under the moniker F&C on Facebook.

By Laure Justice

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Features of the Best Fitness Tracker

This short list of features that make up the best fitness tracker is here to give you some ideas of features you might like when you are ready to shop for an activity tracker or a fitness armband to give yourself a bit of extra motivation in your workouts and fitness efforts.

Features of the Best Fitness Tracker
Features of the Best Fitness Tracker image courtesy of Pixabay

Features of the Best Fitness Tracker

By: Laure Justice

Fitness tracker style: First, these trackers come in a variety of styles, like big-faced watches, slim wristbands, and clip-ons you can hook on a belt or zipper pull. The one that's best, is the one that's most comfortable for you. One interesting feature with the Fitbit line is that you can have more than one device linked to your smartphone app, so you can choose from different styles to match different outfits with a Fitbit.

Heart rate monitor: A device that tracks your heart rate during workouts and also when you're at rest provides information you can use to make your workouts more effective, and also that you can share with your physician or personal trainer when you have questions or need professional advice.

GPS tracker: GPS tracking records how fast you walk, run, or bike and how much distance you have covered. You can then use this data to ramp up your workouts or reduce them as needed, and it's especially useful when you combine the data with info on your heart rate during your workout sessions.

Sleep tracker: Since lack of sleep has been linked to weight loss struggles, as well as many other ailments, sleep tracking can help you determine how well you are actually sleeping, and can help you pinpoint things that are keeping you awake. 

Syncs with smartphone: This feature adds value two different ways. First, it lets the activity tracker send data to an app in your smartphone to track all the data about your workout and sleep. Second, it lets your fitness watch display call and text alerts, so you know if you're getting a call or text you want to take or respond to, without stopping your workout to check your phone.

Floors climbed: If you're climbing the stairs on your lunch break instead of sitting in the break room, this feature is nice because it records your stair climbing efforts.

Time and activity statistics displayed on watch face: Even a really basic fitness tracker, like the Series E Action Tracker that I reviewed a few weeks ago should offer this feature, though the more basic bands only show the number of steps you've taken, because they're basically pedometer. This is an important feature, though, because it lets you glimpse at least some of your data without checking your phone or mobile device.

Interchangeable bands: This is a nice feature if you want to switch your tracker unit into different bands to match different outfits, instead of switching to an entirely different tracker with each outfit change.

Guided breathing sessions: As far as I know, this feature is unique to the newer Fitbits. In my opinion, it would be great for the warm-up period yoga postures, and the stretching period after a hard workout, though if you have other ideas how to use this feature, please ring in and share.

Waterproof for swimming or showering: If you're working out, you're most likely going to sweat at least when it's hot out, so this is a great feature for any fitness band or activity tracker.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Progresso Hearty Chicken Pot Pie Style Soup As Part of a Healthy Diet

Progresso Hearty Chicken Pot Pie Style Soup As Part of a Healthy Diet
Soup so creamy it's like comfort food
A thick, creamy soup, like Progresso Hearty Chicken Pot Pie Style Soup, might seem like an unlikely thing for someone talking about diet and weight loss to recommend, but there are some reasons, including the sheer convenience of heating a can of soup for a quick meal, that it can be a great part of your healthy diet.

Progresso Hearty Chicken Pot Pie Style Soup As Part of a Healthy Diet

By Laure J

I'll start with my opinion of the soup as far as flavor and texture: Good... and good...

The flavor was satisfying and pleasing = like a very satisfying potato soup. It's a touch salty - but I like that and so far anyway - I'm lucky enough I don't have to watch my sodium intake - if you do - I believe there's a low-sodium version of this.

The texture is a blend of hearty creaminess that is "pure comfort food" combined with chicken bites that have the texture of freshly roasted chicken and vegetables that are soft but still have that slight pop when you bite them that you would get from fresh veggies in homemade soups.

Progresso Chicken Pot Pie Soup Nutrition Info

First off, I don't believe in ruling out any food from a healthy diet, but that is not counting people who have allergies and dietary restrictions imposed by their doctors - because those of course have to be acknowledged.

Now, for why you can add this soup as part of a healthy diet:

Calories: Each can contains 2 servings at 150 calories each. So, even if you eat the whole can, you are only actually taking in 300 calories.

Fiber: While this soup isn't super high in fiber at 2 grams per serving (or 4 per can), it does at least have some, and you could feasibly add some ground up chia seed to it in order to up the fiber without changing its taste or texture.

Protein: This Progresso soup does a bit better on protein (compared to fiber) at 7 grams of protein per serving or 14 grams of protein per can.

(I put the image of the label so you can check the details of any other nutritional facts you are tracking for your healthy diet.)

I bought my Progresso Hearty Chicken Pot Pie Style Soup at my local Kroger's store - it was on sale and I thought it sounded interesting. It's actually MUCH better than I expected, and I'm pleased that it delivers both a satisfying meal option and the "comfort food experience" without being a 'diet-wrecker.'

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Chia Oatmeal for a High Fiber Low Calorie Breakfast

Chia Oatmeal for a High Fiber Low Calorie Breakfast
I bought this Simple Truth Organic Instant Chia Oatmeal at Kroger's because I'm always looking for healthy, nutritious things that taste good and that I can share with my readers here on Fat and Cranky.

Plus, I really like everything I've read about chia seeds and I look for ways to add it to my diet because it's such a great way to get more fiber.

I picked the maple and brown sugar flavor because the 'kid in me' screamed, "That one!"

Chia Oatmeal for a High Fiber Low Calorie Breakfast

I'll start with my opinion first, then I'll add my tips for ramping up the flavor a bit, and finally I'll cover a bit more of the nutrition info, but that's also shown in the image at the side.

How it Looked

When prepared according to the package directions, this product looks like pretty much any other instant oatmeal. In fact, it matched the inside of my beige microwaveable bowl so well I didn't bother taking a picture.

How it Tasted

For flavor, and this is the important part, in my opinion, it didn't really have a lot. It tasted very much the way I would expect organic oatmeal to taste, There was only a mild, almost indiscernible sweetness from the maple and brown sugar flavorings. Still, it was okay, just not quite exciting or pleasing.

Additions to Improve the Flavor

This product is so high in fiber, I REALLY wanted to enjoy it and keep it as a part of my regular diet, so I decided to look for ways to ramp up the flavor without adding TOO many extra calories. So, I added a lump of brown sugar, a pat of my favorite diet synthetic-butter, and a couple dashes of cinnamon. Adding these three things turned a VERY plain, bland breakfast into a really tasty meal.

How Was the Texture?

Okay, oatmeal isn't exactly known for its texture, and I rarely eat it because of that, but I have to say, the addition of chia seeds really helped! The chia added a texture similar to that of tapioca and an occasional crunch as well, to the mushiness of the oatmeal.

Nutrition Info on Simple Truth Organic Instant Chia Oatmeal

Just to sum up the basics, from the package, if prepared with water, this product provides you with a light breakfast (or snack) with 170 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.


Overall, I really like this chia oatmeal product, though I prefer it with the additions I mentioned to give it a bit more flavor. Even with the pat of butter and brown sugar lump, it still provides a low calorie breakfast that is quick to make and convenient, too.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why You Need to Give Yourself Permission to Be Magnificent

Just in case no one has told you today, you should just go ahead and do something positive for yourself, and completely, and totally, give yourself permission to be magnificent.

Be Magnificent! Magnificent red-tailed hawk image courtesy of Pixabay

Be Magnificent!

There is no benefit to staying in your 'safe' place if it isn't a physically and emotionally healthy, happy place!

Be honest with yourself about the things that are holding you back, and give yourself permission to be magnificent!

When you let go of the things that are making you unhealthy and holding you back, and these will typically be emotional things that are deeply nested inside of your spirit, it opens new doors to an almost imaginably happy life, and sure, not every moment will be bliss, but you'll see a lot more bliss than you'll ever see if you don't act.

So, go ahead, BE MAGNIFICENT!

Friday, January 27, 2017

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet

Starting a new diet plan can be hard, but there are some easy things you can do to get started and to give yourself a bit of inspiration when you want to lose weight - whether you are just getting started or you feel like you've already tried everything.

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet image courtesy of Pixabay

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet

Starting your fitness quest with a few simple things gives you small successes to feel good about, and those successes make the next steps easier, too.

  1. Start a Fitness Journal: Experts claim that people who keep a fitness journal see more results, and it's such an easy way to get started on your weight loss journey. 
    1. At first, you don't even have to do anything different, just record your dietary intake and activity levels for a few days to create a baseline. 
    2. A fitness journal can be as simple as a notebook where you record what you eat, what you drink, exercises you do, and how you feel. 
    3. It can also be digital, or a fancier journal specifically created for people trying to lose weight. 
  2. Get a Water Bottle: If you don't already have a water bottle you can keep handy all the time, find one that fits your hand and has a sealing top so it won't spill easily. 
    1. Then, do the rubber band trick, to help you track your water consumption without even having to write it down till the end of the day. 
      1. The Rubber Band Trick: You know you need eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, according to most weight loss experts 
        1. - so - say your water bottle hold 16-ounces - that means you need to fill it four times per day 
        2. - so each morning, fill it and put 3 rubber bands around the center 
        3. - each time you refill it - remove a rubber band 
        4. - when you take off the last band and finish the water - you have consumed the day's minimum amount of water (but you can always have more than that.) 
  3. Take a Walk: This is a good way to sneak in a bit of fat-burning cardio. A 10 to 20 minute walk energizes you and gets your blood pumping. Walk at your own pace, or just fast enough to get a little out of breath. 
  4. Choose a Fiber Supplement: This is a great way to reduce your appetite naturally. Look for fiber-rich foods or choose a fiber supplement to take, and increase your water intake to help the fiber swell in your stomach so you don't feel as hungry. 
  5. Add Some Weight to Your Workouts: Grab some dumbbells and add a few presses, curls, and squats to your workout time to get faster results. 
    1. If you don't have access to dumbbells, grab a couple of cans of soup and use them for a bit of resistance. 
      1. This lets you try resistance workouts without buying anything - just in case you don't like it. 
I really don't like to use the word diet when I'm referring to healthy lifestyle changes and fitness plans, but no matter what you call it, following these simple starter tips can help you get started on the path to achieving a healthy weight. Laure J

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight?

When you eat right, it cuts a LOT of the work out of losing weight, and since everyone has to eat, making smart food choices is an easy way to successfully lose weight - but how do you know which food choices will help you reach you reach your goal?

How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight?
How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight? image courtesy of Pixabay
In my last post, I talked about how much fiber you need to consume each day in order to lose weight, and now, I want to add a bit of info on how much protein you need daily for weight loss.

How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight?

While the actual number of grams of protein you need for weight loss varies by the number of calories you consume daily, a general rule is that 30-percent of your daily calories should come from protein.

That means, for example, if you are on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, you should be consuming about 600 calories of that, or 150 grams, from protein. 

If all the calculations - and counting calories - and checking labels makes your head spin, one simpler way to get where you need to be, according to Shape, is simply doubling your current protein intake. (Just make sure you're reducing your simple carbs, taking in plenty of fiber, and drinking plenty of water.)

What Is Protein?

Protein is a macronutrient, which is kind of a fancy way to say it's a large molecule made up of amino acids, that your body needs to build muscle mass. More than what it is, however, you need to know which foods deliver it to your body.

What Foods Are Protein-Rich?

Protein is usually found in animals and animal by-products, but there are non-animal sources you can turn to if you prefer. Some common protein sources, according to WebMD, are:

  • Meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy
If you struggle to consume enough protein to help you lose weight, try to stick to the lighter and less filling lean protein sources, plus you can add protein powders, drinks, and bars to your daily diet. 

Thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky! Laure J

Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight

When you start researching ways to lose weight, increasing the amount of dietary fiber you consume comes up a lot, and there is a lot of validity to it - here's why...

Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight
Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight image courtesy of Pixabay

Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight

Dietary fiber helps you feel full faster and that sense of satisfaction lasts for a longer period of time, so by reducing your hunger, it helps you eat less, and you don't feel deprived or like you're missing out on anything. 

What Is Dietary Fiber?

Fiber is a carb, but it's not like the starchy carbs in potato chips or pasta that pack on the pounds quickly. It tends to be crunchy, making it satisfying to chew, and it's more like the firm outer part of fruits and veggies, the parts you might have peeled off and thrown away, like apple peels and potato skins.

How Much Fiber Do You Need in Your Diet Each Day to Lose Weight?

While you should ideally discuss this detail with a nutritionist or your doctor, here's what I found when researching:

  • 25 grams per day for women
  • 38 grams per day for men
These are the figures cited by WebMD for women under 50 and for all men, and it is noted that some experts recommend even larger doses of daily dietary fiber for weight loss. 
  • No recommendations were offered for women over 50, and I wondered if your body weight would also influence how much you should ingest, but I didn't find any better info on it, so for me, I am experimenting - starting with 25 grams daily as a goal and will increase or decrease based on how I feel. 
  • As I write this, I'm eating a lunch I crafted solely in the basis of its fiber content - Peanut Butter and Chia Seed. 
    • I mixed 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter and two tablespoons of chia seed for a lunch that packs 12 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. 
    • It didn't look like much when I started eating, and I thought I needed bread or crackers or some celery, but I am eating it right off the spoon without any of that, and I'm full enough I'm having a hard time finishing it.

What Foods Are High in Fiber?

Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are all rich in fiber. 

  • Berries are one type of fruit that's extra high in fiber.
  • Nuts are also good on fiber content and add protein, too. 
  • Legumes, like soup beans are high in both fiber and protein. 
  • One of my favorite ways to add fiber to foods that are low in it is to mix in chia seeds, like I did with my peanut butter today. 
    • Chia has very little to no flavor, so you can use it to add fiber to anything without messing up the taste. 
    • Plus, you can use it crunchy and whole, grind it up so it's fine, you can soak it so it's soft like tapioca, or you can use it in cooking to thicken soups, sauces, and gravies. 
    • Chia seed is a very flexible fiber source, and it delivers its fiber and other nutritional benefits while letting you fully enjoy your food. 
  • Flax seed - you can use this whole in baking or, like chia seed, you can grind it to sprinkle on or in other foods.

Are There Nutritional Supplements I Can Take Instead of Eating Fiber-Rich Foods?

If you have a hard time eating enough fiber-rich food each day, but want to gain its weight-loss boost and health benefits, you can also add fiber to your diet with supplements.

Fiber supplements are sold under names like Metamucil and Benefiber, or under the more generic name of Psyllium Fiber.

I also found information on dietary fiber reducing the risk of heart attack and some cancers, if you would like the links to that info, just leave a comment below and I'll share more on that.Laure J

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight?

If you're approaching menopause, menopausal, or dealing with weight gain after menopause, you've probably noticed that it gets harder and harder to lose weight as you age. (And, it was already pretty stinking hard!!) Understanding the causes of menopause weight gain can help you make a plan to get control of weight, so read on for some details that can help you out.

Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight?
Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight? image courtesy of Pixabay

Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight?

There are two main physical reasons why menopause makes it harder to lose weight: hormonal changes and changes in insulin resistance. 
Changes in Hormone Levels: As you go through menopause, your hormonal levels drop, as noted by The Beauty Insiders, and it's a double-whammy, too, because both estrogen and testosterone drop.

The drop in  estrogen packs extra weight on the center of your body and your hips, and the drop in testosterone takes away your drive, energy, and your body's ability to create lean muscle mass (which you NEED if you want to lose weight.)
Supplements, either prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal deliver a way to help your body regain a healthy hormonal balance as you go through menopause, and that balance can help your weight loss efforts.
Changes in Insulin Resistance: As your body progresses through menopause, the way it processes food changes, so you're not getting the same nutritional value and the soda, snacks, and sweets you were able to enjoy freely - or at least more freely - now take up residence on your frame.

Why You Need to Change Your Habits to Counteract Menopausal Weight Gain

Because your body begins to process the things you eat differently and because nature is working against you by packing weight on your body at the same time your energy is declining, you need to make some changes if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

  • Restore your hormonal balance. This can be done with supplements or prescription medications, and it's always a good idea to discuss your options with your doctor before trying anything new. (Even natural supplements can interact badly with other medications you are taking, and it's better to be safe.)
  • Cut sugar intake. If you  really have a sweet tooth, substitute processed sugar for fruit as often as possible - you need to be eating those fruits and veggies anyway. 
  • Cut fried and greasy foods. I know they're yummy, but they are heading straight for the body parts where you don't want them. You can still have some, because going cold-turkey feels like punishment, and if it feels like punishment, you're probably going to rebel and get a bunch of large orders, right? But really, reduce how much fried food you get - like - if you normally hit the drive through for a large order of fries a few times a week, make it a small order once or twice a week. 
  • Eat more light protein. WebMD recommends fish, and it makes sense, as long as the fish isn't fried, because fish is a great source of light, low calorie protein. (I throw eggs and peanut butter in this section, too.)
  • Get regular exercise. I bet you knew I was going to say that. Be creative, and look for activity that you enjoy, and look for ways to make the things you already do more active. I wanted to add that, because if it's fun, you're more likely to stick with it. And, if it's convenient, you're more likely to keep doing it. 
I know life is busy, and as human beings we like our comfortable eating habits and existing activity levels because change can be so darn hard....

I know nobody has time to fit anything else into the day, but you still need to do some exercises, so crank up the radio and jiggle around the kitchen to the music when dinner's cooking, or do some mini squats and lunges while you're doing the dishes. Fit in stretches while you're waiting on the last few minutes of the wash cycle to finish. Grab a pair of dumbbells and do some presses while you're waiting on a webpage to load. Anywhere you have a moment extra, you have a chance to increase your fitness level.

For me, cutting back on sugar and fried food is a challenge, even more than getting more active, and I don't like admitting that, but it's just a fact. Which parts of managing your weight are hard for you? Laure J

Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal?

It's been a long-recognized fact that tracking your food intake is a key component of effective weight loss for many... most... overweight people, and now the importance of tracking activity in a journal has also been acknowledged. This type of holistic tracking looks at the big picture, and it creates a tool you can use to help yourself lose more weight (faster) and it's called a fitness journal!

Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal
Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal image courtesy of Pixabay

Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal?

A fitness journal gives you a place where you can compile the information from all your fitness efforts, and then add details about the experience, like your mood, what you were feeling when you ate different foods - and after you ate them, how you felt during and after you exercised, and you can even just record if you were having a lousy day, ate a whole chocolate cake, and skipped your workout routine.

The advantage of having place where everything is compiled to show the picture is you can look at it any time, and after a few days or weeks, you'll start to see trends in your behavior. Sure, you might already know you eat too much pizza on movie night with your significant other or your kids, but seeing it in writing helps make it real and gives you a place to start the work of changing that behavior.

Easy Ways to Track Your Diet and Fitness Efforts

Notebook: SparkPeople notes that a fitness journal can be as simple as a spiral notebook where you record your personal information. Because I enjoy the feeling of making handwritten notes, this is my preferred method of journaling.  I do, however, tend to hold back on my feelings when I write in a paper journal because people in my house snoop (you know who you are), and I like my innermost feelings to remain private rather than things to discuss at the dinner table.

Digital Documents: A password encrypted document is a great way to journal if you want to avoid prying eyes - whether you are keeping your emotions private or simply don't want your family to know you ate four Almond Joy candy bars for lunch instead of your salad. The problem I have with the digital journal format is that it is inconvenient for me. I've tried entering things from my phone, but it scrambles and autocorrects them until I can't decipher them.

Blogging: If you're cool with others reading about your efforts and emotions, a blog is a fun way to keep a fitness journal. It's actually what I do and am beginning to expand on, with the exception of leaving out things about being angry at people and stuffing myself with junk food as a result - no good can come of making someone else feel bad - so I record those thoughts in private documents.

Smartphone Apps: Apps make it super easy to document activity and food intake. Some apps, like the S-Health app, record your steps and how fast you walk or run so you don't even have to do it yourself. If your app doesn't record everything you want to track, you can still get the advantage of using it and then transfer info from it into your fitness journal.

Fitness Trackers: If you get a very basic activity tracker, like the one I wrote about here, you upload the info in its compatible app. If you get one that syncs with your smartphone, it will save you work by transferring the data for you. Then you can update your fitness journal, whether you use paper or one of the digital formats, as you want.

A fitness journal is a handy tool you can use in your fitness quest, and if you make full use of the information you collect in it, it can help you lose weight faster, and it can help you keep the weight off for good.

Thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky! I hope you found this post interesting and helpful, and I encourage you to browse around the site. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section under any post on the site.Laure J

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Activity Tracker Precautions You Need to Know About

How do you know if your activity tracker is working properly?

Activity Tracker Precautions You Need to Know About

This post is based on my Series 8 activity tracker, which is admittedly a budget-priced tracker with few features - but it's good to remember to test the effectiveness of your fitness watch from time to time no matter what kind of tracker you have.

Activity Tracker Precautions
Activity Tracker Precautions

What makes it record your activity? 

Using the Series 8 as an example, some trackers are basically a pedometer that calculate distance and calories in addition to your steps. But - it's not actually your steps it's tracking, it's the motion of the arm you have it strapped on, so if you don't swing your arms as you walk - guess what - no steps get recorded.

How do you check a fitness band to see if it is recording?

This is actually unbelievably easy, once you know you need to do it - you just look at it while you're walking. If you realize you don't swing your arms enough while walking to make it register, either focus on swinging them more - it burns more calories anyway, try attaching the tracker to your ankle because it swings with each step, consider a tracker that combines GPS with the step counter, or download a fitness app to your phone to get activity data from your phone.

How long did you walk?

If your step counter is not recording properly, you can also make a note of how much time you spent walking, and make a note of that in your fitness journal or add it to a fitness app in your phone.

Thanks for reading, and I hope if you're relying on an activity tracker for your fitness data, that you're having better luck with it than I am. Laure J

Monday, January 16, 2017

Walking With a Step Counter

A step counter, or pedometer, can be a useful tool when adjusting to a more active lifestyle and also when setting goals.

Walking With a Step Counter Pedometer
Walking With a Step Counter Pedometer image courtesy of Pixabay

Walking With a Step Counter

I knew I live a sedentary lifestyle due to being a writer, but I didn't realize just HOW sedentary it was until I strapped a fitness tracker on my wrist - and that is the inspiration for this post. (I am guessing I didn't notice because I never really thought about it, because, well, I was busy working.)

I read that 10,000 steps per day is the ideal goal for heart health and physical fitness, so of course I set my personal goal as 10,000 steps per day - seriously expecting to breeze right through it. Wrong! I barely broke 3,000 steps my first full day tracking - and I made sure to do extra walking around just because I knew the tracker was recording my steps.

Don't Get Defeated or Overwhelmed

I admit, I feel a little bit lousy about falling so short of my goal, and a little overwhelmed at how hard it is, too. But, in keeping with the 'you can do it' theme of this blog series, I'm not going to let a little setback ruin my efforts, and if you're trying to get more fit along with me, I hope you will stick with it, too, even when it doesn't go the way you expect.

Should You Adjust Your Goals?

Even when you don't reach your goal, measuring and recording information on what you did achieve lets you adjust your goals, and that can be a great idea. If your initial goals are too hard, temporarily lowering them and replacing them with goals that are hard but achievable lets you taste success. It also gives you a chance to strengthen your muscles and make time for more activity in your day. It also shows you where you can work harder to reach your goals.

If you're struggling to reach your goals, don't use it as a reason to give up. Let it motivate you to try harder, and be sure to let me know how it's going for you.Laure J

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Getting Back to a Fitness Routine After 3 Slacker Days

The past few days have been exactly the type of thing that usually throws me off track with a new fitness routine, so I wanted to share some tips on getting back to a fitness routine after 3 slacker days.

Getting Back to a Fitness Routine After 3 Slacker Days

Everyone has those days sometimes - where you're super busy and you don't fit in a proper workout, but those days don't have to derail your fitness goals.

I actually managed about five to ten minutes each of the three days that I slacked off, but my goals were to increase my workouts at this point, so it felt like a failure when I had reached the end of the day and didn't have time for a full workout.

So, even though it was bedtime, I grabbed my dumbbells and did five minutes of upper body work the first night, then six minutes of leg work and light cardio the second. The third day, I just got in a ten minute walk (which was great because I was testing out my Series 8 Action Tracker to review here on the site.) And, that brings me to today's workout.

Today, I walked for ten minutes at a fast pace, and I added ten minutes of upper body dumbbell work, with three pound weights. Then I stretched and cooled off until the soreness in my shoulders eased off, but I didn't time the cool-down period today.

So, I apologize for the brevity of this post, but I wanted to share in the hope it can inspire you if you feel like you haven't met your own goals, and that it reminds you you haven't failed as long as you don't give up. Never, ever give up, just keep trying - it's worth it.Laure J

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review of the Series 8 Action Tracker

I've wanted a fitness tracker for a while, and I've been researching the features I want and comparing prices. The cost kind of held me back, but today I found a Series 8 Active Tracker at Five Below and decided to test it out.

Series 8 Action Tracker Fitness Band
Series 8 Action Tracker

I've never had a fitness watch before and I wasn't sure I would keep using it, partly because I am allergic to a lot of watch bands and partly because it seems like something that might be a nuisance after a few days, so I wasn't comfortable spending a lot. So, even though this particular activity tracker didn't have all the features I want, I decided it would be a good model to wear for a while to find out if I like wearing one, plus I get to review it here on Fat and Cranky for you.

The Series 8 Action Tracker

The Series 8 Action Tracker is a Five Below exclusive fitness tracker, and it's kind of bare-bones model, but for five dollars, it does a lot and seems to work exactly as described. My first impression of it is that I really like it.

Features of the Series-8 Action Tracker

When you pull this fitness band out of the box, you set time, your weight, and your stride length, ideally before you put it on.

  • Tracks four key fitness details: It tracks your steps, the number of calories burned, the distance you have walked, and it shows you the time. 
  • Smartphone app available: You can download the Series-8 Action Tracker App from the App store or Google Play, set and track your goals, and enter the data provided by the watch in your phone - this lets you share or compete with your friends via Facebook. (I opted out of that part because it struck me as a little odd, but if competition and sharing inspires you, it's an available feature you can use.)
  • Long Band: I have a fairly large wrist for a woman, and the adjustable band allows for a custom fit, and I could still go more than an inch wider if needed, or much smaller.
  • Easy to See: The LCD display is actually big enough to see without squinting.
  • Latex-free: The strap is sweat-free and latex-free, so it won't make anyone with a latex allergy break out or get sick. 

What the Series-8 Action Tracker Does Not Have

For five dollars, this activity tracker is great and it delivers the basic information you need, but there are features it doesn't have and I want to cover them, too.

  • Does not sync with smartphone: While there is an app that you can use in conjunction with the Series-8 Action Tracker, you have to enter the information yourself. It's easy to do, and not a big deal, but it is a detail you should be aware of before buying.
  • No heart rate monitor: If you work out at a high-intensity level, or if you're new to working out, a heart rate monitor can help you ensure you are working out in the safe - but effective - zone of intensity - but if you check out the Borg perceived intensity scale you can use that, or you can learn to calculate your own heart rate by using the integrated clock.
  • No sleep tracker: A sleep tracker can help you understand how well you sleep, and how long, and it adds to the total fitness information you may want, but its absence in the Series 8 is no big deal. Given the low cost, it isn't going to have every feature that a pricier model delivers.
  • Band is not interchangeable: The tracker is built into the band, and is not interchangeable, so you can't match a band to each outfit. However, at the price, you can buy several for less than many interchangeable bands cost. Updated to add that I found the tracker pops out very easily, but I suspect it is so you can change the battery as I haven't found replacement bands for it anywhere. 
  • No Bluetooth or messaging: Some pricier fitness bands let you know when you have an email, text message, or phone call coming in, and those features are not built into this Series-8 model. 
All-in-all, the Series-8 Action Tracker works well and delivers everything it promises, and it's a great basic fitness tracker.

Series-8 Action Tracker Removed From Band
Series-8 Action Tracker Removed From Band
Thanks for reading about my experience with this fitness band, I hope you find the info useful; and I'll be back with more info on it after I've used it for a few days to let you know how it holds up on an ongoing basis. Have you  ever tried one of these Series-8 trackers, or any kind, if you have and would like to share, I would be thrilled to hear about your experiences.Laure J