HURRY! Just one more week to get our FREE booklet, 34 Guilt Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. Subscribe to our blog now.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Incorporate the following 3 “activities” into your life to enter 2015 with less — less weight, less stress, less mental clutter. Each supports and interacts with the others.
Use meditation to better understand your relationship to food, exercise, and stress. For example, meditation can assist weight loss efforts by reducing emotional eating, binge eating — basically any kind of eating that is not mindful. Meditators generally have higher consciousness of their thoughts and actions. They therefore make better decisions regarding health choices.
Guided Meditation Apps
If you are eager to get started with meditation, try the free meditation apps listed in our post: Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.
2. Sleep Sufficiently
Several studies link lack of enough sleep with obesity. For one, if you are getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night, instead of the recommended 7 to 9 you are awake more hours slugging down extra snicky snacks.
For another, sleep deprived brains tend to make poor decisions. “Yes, I neeeed that high calorie, sugary late night treat. I deserve it. The calories disappear after midnight just like Cinderella’s coach and horses.” Uh huh. Let me also ask — do you feel like working out when you are tired?
Too little sleep also affects the hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage. The little gremlin, ghrelin whispers a naughty message more to the sleep deprived — “you are hungry. Eat, my pretty, eat.” Simultaneously, leptin the lambkin that usually cues you to back away from the fork, goes to sleep on the undernapped.
Still awake? Then read our post on how insufficient sleep causes weight gain.
3. Breathe “Actively and Energetically”
Breathe Your Way to Less: Less Food, Less Weight, Less Stress
Active breathing simply means paying attention to your in- and exhalations. No judgment, no expectations. Just be aware of your breaths. Energetic breathing is short and fast. Inhalations are forceful and through the nose. Expand your belly as you inhale. Exhale with equal force, contracting your belly.
Use energetic breaths as a natural, zero calorie picker upper instead of food, caffeine, or other quick fixes to gain energy. Breathing energetically stimulates your central nervous system the way exercise does — first by elevating, then calming you.
With both kinds of breaths, you are building self-awareness and interrupting unconscious patterns that may not be serving you. Become a better breather by inhaling the info in our post, Breathe Life Into Yourself.
True — meditating, sleeping more, and breathing with intent alone will not directly cause calories to burn faster than holiday buns baked too long and hot. However, combined with everything else you are doing to keep weight at bay, these 3 tools can be part of your powerful arsenal as you wrap up the holiday season, the year .. and maybe a few gifts too.
Give a gift to yourself. Join us at the Tenaya Wellness Spa Retreat coming up faster than energetic breaths. Jan 16-19 in Yosemite. Click to see the sessions, treatments, meals, and more that you will get as their guest. BONUS – we’ll meet each other as we are presenting workouts and wellness sessions. Wonder whether you are doing common exercises correctly … or um, well, stoopidly? Eager to take a cutting edge ABC: Abs, Butt, Core workout? You get it all at the Tenaya wellness weekend.
When I went away to college, I went on a junk food cereal binge for a while, just to find out what I’d been missing. That phase didn’t last long.
When my kids were born, one of them had food allergies, so I taught myself to cook from scratch. I’d been teaching group fitness for over ten years by then, so was very interested in learning as much as possible about food, nutrition, and realistic snack habits. Now I teach in the exercise studies department at a university, and have to help students learn to make food choices that are in their best interests and will help them reach their goals.
When I was asked to try out the new Special K® Chewy Snack Bars, I was all for it, as I like to find options for my students. Some snack bars are too big, too heavy feeling (especially during exercise) or too high in calories. The four new flavors – Berry Medley, Salted Caramel Chocolate, Salted Pretzel Chocolate, and Blueberry Bliss – are 100 kcals per bar, which is good. Generally speaking, we burn about 400 kcals per 45-minute cardio class, so the math sounds good to me.
I love oats, and am glad to see that the first ingredient for all four flavors is rolled oats. For my personal taste preferences, they are a bit too sweet, yet they are perfect for my university students. And it would seem that my boys (who are now college-aged) like them too, as several of the boxes are nearly empty. The two fruit flavored bars have a bit of real fruit in them, though I prefer the salty-sweet combination in the Salted Pretzel Chocolate bar.
Fall Quarter is now over, but by the time Winter Quarter starts, these bars will be available nationwide, as they will be officially out in January 2015. As I always carry a quick snack in my fitness bag for students who “forgot” to eat before class, the timing is just right.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Snack Bars.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6-8 crushed candy canes
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix the flours with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the oil, sugar and eggs together for 2 minutes. Add in the milk and stir to blend.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just enough to blend. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 10 minutes before covering the loaf with the crushed candy canes. Finish baking for another 50 minutes or until the loaf springs back to the touch. Let it fully cool, as the candy topping will be very hot.
After eating it, I think it would have been better to put the candy cane bits into the bread rather than on top.
WOATS has three flavors of oatsnacks, and I have pretty much plowed through two Peanut Butter Graham Slam bags. They also have Cookies ‘N’ Dreams and Nuts About Berries, but I haven’t tried those yet. The company was founded by a 16-year-old who wanted oat snacks in a soft version that was kind to his braces.
Depending on the month, you might find some peanut snacks in the UrthBox. A subscription snack service that sends non-GMO, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and diet versions, I actually found a number of snacks that my picky high-schooler loved (vegan brownie, anyone?). My favorites were the barbecue quinoa crisps, Rogue blue cheese popcorn, and black rice crackers. I noticed they’re offering $10 off right now with the code CRUNCHWEEK.
We just learned about a brand-new company called Thrive Market. They offer nonGMO, organic and natural foods at 30-50% BELOW retail, with free shipping. It’s a member site like Costco, but cheaper and only healthy products. We recommend you join. For every membership Thrive sells, they give one away to a needy family through non-profit partners such as The Boys & Girls Club. We signed up as an affiliate because we believe in it so strongly. Sign up via this link and you’ll get 3 months’ free membership, plus 15% off your first order. Working my “shop my values stocking stuffer plan” via their company.
Also, if you want a 25% discount for the month of December at the Peanut Butter & Co. online store, use this case-sensitive code: YUMSQUADLOVE
To make it easy to share (and because I want to increase my Pinterest skills), I made a nice easy pin of our 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain that you can access at the next big get-together.
On Saturday, my mom is taking my daughter and me to Nepal. As in Kathmandu, exotic locale on the other side of the world. Land of the Himalayas. She just turned 85 yesterday and has long wanted to travel to Nepal. So off we fly with a Sierra Club group for a 10 day journey through national parks, temples, cities, and villages.
To prep for this trip, my mom has been attending aqua aerobics classes at least twice a week, sometimes thrice. No, we are not trekking up mountains where the air is thin, unlike me! But we will be doing much in those 10 short days that will demand a lot from an 85 year old. I prepped by finding subs to cover my group fitness classes. Oh, and by gathering up my new Lorna Jane activewear, Ahnu shoes, Purple Frog insect patches, and Garden of Life organic energy bars and fondling them all lovingly. Into the suitcase they go, coming out on the other side of customs and the world!
If you want to track pictures from our adventures, follow me on instagram: @KymberlyFunFit. Not only will you get photos of an unusual, tantalizing place, but also shots of what an active life allows. Stairs, hikes, cityscapes, early mornings, long days of adventure, a three-generation trip of a lifetime! Maybe someone out there (probably someone needing new reading glasses) will even confuse me with my daughter in the rare air of Nepal. She turns 22 on our trip. Pretty sure you’ll have a hard time figuring who is nana, who is young pup, who is the Boom Chicka Boomer.
Other prep involved completing a booklet for YOU and new subscribers just in time for the holiday season: 34 Guilt-Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: Getting Through the Holidays without Stuffing. This free booklet is loaded with practical tips that are reasonable and non-judgy. (Remember that my twinnie sissie does have her Master’s Degree in Counseling so she has some good mind tricks!)
If you have a goal to Break on Through to the Other Side of the season feeling good about yourself, this booklet is for you (who knows the song and band reference?)* Details on how to get your copy coming via our Facebook page and future blog posts. New subscribers will automatically get 34 Guilt-Free Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain.
This gift from us to you offers action items, realistic tips, and great strategies to:
Odds are pretty darn good you will find ideas you have not seen elsewhere nor thought of yet. Get ready to open new *Doors once you open your copy of our holiday booklet (ha ha ha hah that is the ultimate hint for the question posed above).
As for me, I plan to move as much as possible in Nepal so I return ready to greet the holidays with excitement and no extra pounds waiting under the turkey or tree.
I was a bit hesitant to accept them at first, as we are extremely
picky discerning when it comes to recommending lifestyle philosophies. After looking through both books, I can see why Hildmann is so popular. He isn’t a zealot, yet shares his passion. He details how and why he became a vegan in a straightforward way that feels inviting rather than browbeating. The best part? He agrees with so much of what we say! Hahahaha. Don’t we all think someone is clever when their philosophies are close to our own?
Quotes such as, “Vegan for Fit isn’t a diet, but rather a healthy way of eating,” and “The recipes…weren’t in any way influenced by the food industry.” And my fitness favorites – “It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in; you can start now-even if you just walk around the block at your own pace… Starting slow and then building up is the key to success. My workout plan serves primarily to increase my feeling of well-being.”
He recognizes that vegans can be the worst advocates for veganism. For example, when Hildmann discusses his transition from vegetarianism to veganism, he acknowledges the “all or nothing” mentality that puts many people off. “What makes me really sad is this ‘I’m a better vegan than you’ phenomenon.”
The people who took his 30-Day challenge have realistic Before and After pictures and results, and Hildmann includes the downsides as well as the upsides when he shares those results.
The actual recipes. Once he gained my respect, I was ready to check out the food. The pictures and ingredients looked really enticing and surprisingly achievable for me (based on the ingredients I keep in the house). I tried a few of them, and they were super tasty. Except for green bell peppers. I’ll never like green bell peppers.
To get a well-rounded feel for Hildmann, I sent him some questions, which he answered in more detail than I was expecting. To put the interview into context, you should know that his dad’s death was a catalyst for his transformation from overweight, junk food eater to healthy chef.
How old were you when your Dad’s death caused you to make a life change, and what was your life like prior to his death? Were you already into fitness?
I was 19 years old when I watched my father die of a heart attack. You can’t even imagine the pain I felt because I always looked up to my dad. Before it happened the doctors didn’t tell him to change his diet in a specific way; they prefered to open up his ribcage for open-heart surgery and after that was done, pump him full of pills to lower his cholesterol. I was also worried about myself because at that time I was severely overweight at 230 pounds and my cholesterol was critically high. I always loved sports, competed in Triathlon and swimming from an early age, but I always struggled with keeping my weight consistent. Yo-yo dieting was what I did, so the weight always came back in the off-season. And I loved what many young people love: burgers, fries, steak, chips and ice-cream. One day I went to the doctor for a check-up and he did a blood test. When he got the results he told me “Attila, if you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll end up just like your father!” I had to change something so I did some research and cut out all the foods that contained cholesterol and worked myself up to a vegan diet. Instantly I felt better, my skin got clearer, my energy level went up, I had more power and the fat around my hips melted away. It was the best decision in my life!
Can you share some of the specific steps you took to get from the Before to the After?
The first step was to forget about the clichés that I had in my mind about healthy vegan eating. At first I was afraid about belonging to a group of hippies that eat nut roast for Christmas and preach to people that meat-is-murder. It all began in my head. And I just wanted to try it out as well, as I always like to challenge myself. But I fell into one trap that many new vegetarians and vegans fall into which is vegan junk food. Although it may not contain cholesterol, soy pudding, soy ice cream, fries with ketchup and vegan burgers with meat alternatives still do contain a lot of calories and I ate way too much of that in the beginning. Back in 2000 I hated vegetables. So first I learned how to cook so that I could make them tasty and delicious for myself. Working out is always a good idea but 80 percent of my weight loss success is due to sticking to a balanced vegan diet!
What do you recommend as the first thing someone should do who’s a carnivore, yet is curious about the benefits of being an occasional vegan?
You don’t have to go all the way and change your whole life! One vegan dish per week or a day is a great step toward a healthier life. It should be fun – don’t force yourself into something. If you start to like it, that’s great, and you can incorporate more vegan dishes into your diet plan. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year; that’s one out of four deaths. We have to start somewhere. Make baby steps and pat yourself on the back for doing them.
Why do you prefer veganism over vegetarianism?
At first I was a vegetarian, but even that increased my cholesterol level. I also like the aspect that you save lives by eating completely plant based — it is so good for the environment, climate and the planet! Vegan foods touch so many levels of my well-being, it’s absolutely incredible.
Do you have any simple recipes for people who are time-pressed?
I have a lot of easy, quick to make recipes in my books. You can order them on amazon.com. There are also free recipes on my website attilahildmann.com. I love to make vegetable pasta with a spiralizer and serve them with a quick Carbonara sauce made with almond butter, smoked tofu and parsley. And I looove sandwiches: whole wheat bread, lettuce, some hummus, roasted peppers and some pesto and you are good to go. It’s really that simple! Vegan cooking is even easier and less expensive than cooking with animal-based products!
I’m not trying to persuade anyone to become a vegan or buy these books; I’m just sharing my opinion. But if you are interested in knowing more, you might want to enter the giveaway, as we are giving away one copy of each.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
My life for the past month has been highly stressful due to family medical issues, so one of the ways I de-stress is to bake (which would explain last week’s post about vanilla sugar cinnamon rolls).
A few of the commenters for that post noted that cinnamon rolls didn’t seem like a health food, so I will address that issue while I’m here a’bakin’. For some people, sugar or butter might be an issue. For others, the calories. And there are many people who cannot have flour. For those people it’s true that cinnamon rolls might not be a healthy choice. I am lucky because I have no food allergies, and can eat anything I want (I do not EVER want Marmite or Bovril). I am also realistic about knowing that most people do better with a variety of foods that include items such as rolls or brownies. By “better” I mean they will have a healthier overall diet if they approach food from a “choice” rather than “restrictive” perspective. We never want anything more than the one thing we’re told not to have. As we teach and preach, most foods are okay for most people most of the time in moderation.
I say this not in defense or to persuade you to eat fake food made of nasty ingredients (calling your name Twinkies); just to explain why I think my homemade, organic ingredient cinnamon rolls are so super delicious and belong on our healthy aging blog.
Sadly, the rolls are all gone. And my son brought his new girlfriend over for the first time. And he and she both love chocolate. Beloved son + new girlfriend + chocolate + need to de-stress = coffee brownies. I tweaked a recipe from “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.”
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter (I use Organic Valley)
3 large eggs (we raise chickens, so we have a direct supplier)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (I use Fair Trade Nielsen Massey)
½ tsp almond extract (I squeeze unsuspecting almonds till they sweat, then gather it)
1/8 tsp salt
4 tsp dry instant espresso powder (I use King Arthur – don’t use granular instant coffee unless you like crunchy blobs of coffee stuck to your teeth)
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar (I use Wholesome Organic Raw Cane)
½ cup all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur or Hodgson Mill Organic Naturally White Unbleached)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur or Hodgson Mill)
Preheat oven to 425°. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper (or just butter a glass pan).
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside when melted.
Beat the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, coffee, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes (no, it’s not a typo). On low speed add the chocolate mixture and beat just till mixed. Then add the flours and beat again just till mixed.
Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The crust will be crispy, while a toothpick inserted into the center will come out a little wet, but these babies are DONE. Let them stand (or sit in the fridge) for 6-8 hours before serving. Of course, I didn’t follow that advice. I served them an hour after baking and no-one died or complained. But waiting patiently does make them easier to cut. Whatever.
P.S. The whole wheat flour makes them magically extra healthy. And if you break one in two, half the calories fall out. This is due to sciencey science. Sort of like truthiness, but more fat-free.
While on the topic of health, we have a giveaway that ends soon. Five people will win all of these prizes from Garden of Life. They are leaders in being USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO, so we extra-special like them, and so will you.
½ cup sourdough starter
¾ cups lukewarm water
1 tsp instant yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
2 ½ cups unbleached flour
Combine all the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. Cover and let rise till doubled in size.
¼ cup (2 oz) soft butter (I use Organic Valley)
¾ cup vanilla sugar mixed with 1 Tbl cinnamon
After the dough has doubled, roll it out to an 11 X 16 rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over it, leaving the sides and long edge away from you free of the mix so it doesn’t all squish out when you roll up the dough. Roll up the dough into a long log, starting with the long edge near you.
Use a serrated knife to gently cut the dough into 12 pieces, and place them into a lightly greased 9 X 13 pan. Cover and let rise for 30 – 45 minutes (longer and in the fridge for part of the time if you want the sourdough flavor). While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 20 – 25 minutes. If you want icing, mix 3 Tbl heavy cream with 1 cup powdered sugar and pour over warm (not hot) rolls.
I used sourdough for this recipe simply because I had a lot of starters in my fridge, and I knew the strong flavor wouldn’t come out, as I didn’t let the dough rise very long. If you want the sourdough flavor to come through, let the dough sit longer.
If you want to enter for a chance to win a bottle of Nielsen Massey vanilla sugar (you must have a U.S. mailing address – no P.O. boxes), plus a 2 ounce bottle of vanilla, follow the entry instructions below.
As I’m taking a photography class, you get the benefit of my food photo attempts.
For example, if you knew the EPA classifies bleach as a pesticide, would you still wash your kids’ clothes in it? Would you want them breathing it at school?
What if you knew that the European Union bans over a hundred of the chemicals found in make-up & beauty products due to cancer concerns, yet the U.S. only bans about 10 of them (and the entity regulating the industry is comprised of the same people who make the beauty products)? The average U.S. woman uses 12 – 15 beauty products a day, so how much of those contaminants are getting into your body through your skin?
Would you eat a frozen yogurt if you knew that powders and chemicals that have been linked to cancer had been added to it, or that the CEO of the yogurt company was intentionally NOT giving you a list of ingredients?
A sampling of some of the sessions will give you a feel for the tenor of the conference:
The Future of Labeling GMOs
Why Are We So Allergic
Is Organic an Elitist Trend
Legal Implications of Blogging and Activism
Pesticides – What You Need to Know
Fat Vs Fit – the Truth About FitSpo (I mention this one because I was invited to be on the panel after a scheduled contributor became sick)
After I got home from ShiftCon I looked around my house. Sure enough, many of the brands I support with my purchases were at the conference. I’m lucky that the Isla Vista Co-Op near my work carries many of these brands. If you want to be a shifter, ask your local store or co-op to carry them too. Demand creates change.
These are a few brands I love and recommend to you – Organic Valley Co-op, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Stonyfield Organic, Molly’s Suds, Uncle Matt’s, Boiron, NatraCare, Nordic Naturals, and Dr. Bronner’s.
And a few that will now find their way into my home are Kingdom Organic Cheeses, Healthy Hoo-Hoo, Health-Ade Kombucha, Nutiva, and Naturepedic.
I am not much of an activist, at least not in the way most people think, in that I’m not particularly noticeable. The activists who are out in front and noticeable are game-changers. They push. Loudly. And they make things happen that improve all our lives. I’m more of a shifter. Over time I have shifted my thinking, habits and most importantly, money over to companies and non-profits that support healthy food and products. I believe our nation will improve its labeling and choices when more people shift their money and votes. ShiftCon was a conference for both game-changers and shifters like me. Together we can lead from in front and behind.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Recently Alexandra and I served as hosts for the AARP’s Care4YouToo Contest, designed to help caregivers focus on their own health and fitness. Participants from the AARP caregiving community revealed a lot about winning and losing! On the losing side — they reported losing weight and bad habits. On the winning side — not only did 7 people win prizes, but also participants exhibited winning behaviors that helped them become healthier and happier.
Caregivers have a particularly challenging task taking care of their own health. (More on this subject with solutions at this post on Caregiving and Exercise. Click to read.) Yet, as this contest revealed, they do find ways to help themselves as they help others.
As many baby boomers already know, caregiving itself is so overwhelming that tackling huge, unspecified goals such as “getting fit,” or “”eating better” are doomed as they become one more big item on the neverending “to do” list. Contest participants reported that small changes led to success. Some of their small steps?
As one caregiver in the AARP caregiving community pointedly said: “even the smallest changes or the smallest actions done repeatedly will, over time, make measurable progress. I am applying this to everything that is ‘out of control’, the mail, magazines, newspapers, clippings, laundry, grocery shopping, yardwork, housework, demands on my time.”
Keep in mind that caregivers are among the most time pressed, life stressed, energy depressed group. (Oooh, do you like what I did with that sentence?) Nevertheless they were able to find and celebrate small successes. Being aware of progress, no matter how minor, inspired them to to continue with their efforts.. When the going got tough, the tough got going – with self-praise, a plan, a refocus on what they had managed to achieve. So focus on what you have accomplished, rather than on how far you still have to go or temporary setbacks.
Bad news often serves as a catalyst for change. Ideally you won’t have to face adversity to be inspired to make behavior changes for the better, as the following people reported.
Those who made positive and permanent changes tended to share their successes, challenges, and goals. They reached out for support when they needed it. They congratulated others who overcame pitfalls or reached milestones. They listed their own achievements.
Whether your support group involves two friends, your entire family, a bunch of work buddies, online strangers, a Facebook group (such as the ones we belong to on Facebook. Email us or add a comment if you want us to invite you into any of our online midlife women communities), or a structured event such as the AARP Care4TouToo contest, your odds of succeeding improve when you progress with others.
To paraphrase one of the winners of the AARP Care4YouToo contest, these strategies may not be easy, but they are simple. You CAN do it! Ask your community and they’ll tell you.
Read this post for more strategies on how to improve your health and lose weight when you have heavy demands on your time, emotions, energy, and resources.
Then book us to speak at your events: (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improve your move when you go to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your active aging adventure! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.