It's impossible to add more minutes to the day so exercise must become a priority on your to-do list. Research continues to support that three bouts of exercise lasting at least 10 minutes each are as effective as exercising for a full 30 minutes at one time. Climb the stairs for 10 minutes before work, take a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, and do a combination of squats, push-ups, and crunches for 10 minutes at night.
Don't get sucked into the idea that you need special gear or a gym membership to commit to exercise. Many quick, high-intensity circuit workouts require no equipment and they can be done for free in your living room. If you would like to have a few tools around the house to alter your routine, there are plenty of inexpensive equipment options for home exercise.
Starting a new activity can be intimidating, but there is so much information available to help build your knowledge for safe and effective exercise. Take some time to read about proper warm ups, cool downs, exercise form, and selecting the right activity for your fitness level. The exercise section of the MyFoodDiary blog is a great place to start.
If you are uncomfortable with your body or you feel awkward and uncoordinated when exercising, being active around others may make you self-conscious. Don’t let a concern for how you look lead to skipped workouts. Remember that those exercising around you are there for the same reasons you are, to get healthier. Start by exercising at home until you feel more comfortable being outside or going to the gym. Stick with beginner groups until you can join more advanced exercisers.
If you dislike exercise, it’s time to stop labeling your activity as exercise. Don’t set yourself up for failure by planning rigorous sessions. Find activities that require movement, but lack the rigidness of a session at the gym. Join a recreational sports team, go hiking, take dance classes, or go skating. As long as you are moving and your heart rate is elevated, you are engaging in exercise. The key is to choose activities that you enjoy.
It’s rare that you will find an activity that you never get tired of. It may happen after a few weeks or it may be many years, but if you start feeling burned out, switch things up. Pushing through an activity that you are truly tired of will only lead to poor excuses and skipped workouts.
Research continues to show that there are positives and negatives to just about every eating style. Regardless of the specific foods you eat, and when you choose to eat them, here are a few guidelines that can make everyone healthier.
Reduce processed foods
Processed foods contain few of the natural nutrients obtained from fresh fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins. Unfortunately, they do contain sodium, fat, and additives. Relying on packaged, processed foods for the bulk of your food intake can rob you of the valuable nutrients that are plentiful in fresh foods.
Balance calorie intake
Calorie balance is important to maintain a healthy weight. Whether you adjust your food intake or you increase physical activity, pay attention to how much you eat and how much you move, taking note of how it influences your weight. Weight loss results from burning more calories than you take in. If you are maintaining a healthy weight, that is a good indicator that your intake and output are in balance.
Eat more plant-based foods
Research supports that a plant-based diet is beneficial to health. Incorporate more dark, leafy greens, beans, legumes, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, and berries into your eating plan. These foods provide unique phytonutrients that promote health. Their fiber and water content will help keep you feeling full keep you feeling full.
Reduce added sugar
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average American gets over 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That is more than double the recommended 9 teaspoons per day for men, and nearly triple the recommend 6 teaspoons for women. Excess added sugars have been linked to poor nutrition, weight gain, increased triglycerides, and tooth decay.
With only three simple ingredients, this recipe provides a nutritious sweet treat that you can make in minutes. Feel free to use any combination of your favorite fruits, but when using frozen fruit, check the label to ensure that there is no added sugar. For a soft frozen yogurt, serve straight from the ice cream maker. If you prefer a firm yogurt, place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for one to two hours.
Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1g
0%Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 14g
Dietary Fiber 0.9g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Yield: About 3 ½ cups
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Freezing time: 20 to 30 minutes
2 cups non-fat or low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup strawberries, thawed if frozen
1 cup chopped mango, thawed if frozen
Place the yogurt and fruit in blender. Puree until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a counter-top ice cream maker and churn until firm, about 20 to 30 minutes.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener used by food manufacturers. It is formed when corn starch is broken down into corn syrup. Enzymes are added to the corn syrup to convert some of its glucose to fructose. The result is a sweetener that is about 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. It is a less expensive alternative to sugar, and it also serves as a preservative in packaged foods. HFCS is most often associated with regular soda, but if you check food labels, you will find it in pasta sauce, barbeque sauce, ketchup, sweet pickles, jam, bread, crackers, cereals, ice cream, and baked goods.
How Does HFCS Affect Weight?
Many health professionals question if HFCS is linked to the rise in obesity over the past 50 years. It is speculated that fructose alters the hormonal response of the body, resulting in increased body fat storage and appetite when compared to other sugars with the same number of calories. Supporters of HFCS argue that chemically it is similar to table sugar, and that the body does not recognize the difference. The topic is still heavily debated with research supporting both sides. As with most theories, more research will eventually reveal if there are associations between HFCS and weight gain.
Should I Eat Foods with HFCS?
HFCS is an added sugar. Reducing added sugar intake is important for health regardless of whether that sugar comes from white table sugar or HFCS. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories (six teaspoons) per day and men to no more than 150 calories (nine teaspoons) per day. Reducing your intake of packaged, processed foods and regular soda will reduce your overall intake of the sweetener. But for a healthy diet and reduced risk of disease, be sure you aren’t replacing HFCS with other added sugars.
The key to smart snacking is finding foods with a balance of complex carbohydrate, heart-healthy fat, and protein. This combination gives you long-lasting energy and prevents a spike in blood sugar that will leave you hungry in a few hours. Here are a few foods that will curb hunger and keep you feeling full.
Avocados are loaded with heart-healthy fats that help to sustain your energy levels. Research shows that they also help the body absorb valuable antioxidants. Mash up half an avocado and spread it over a piece of whole grain bread for a mid-morning snack.
Beans pack a punch of nutrition with protein and fiber. Combine a few of your favorite cooked beans with basil or cilantro, minced onion, and bell pepper. Drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil to add healthy fats.
This garbanzo bean and sesame based spread provides protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. Use it as a dip for fresh vegetables or spread it over whole wheat pita bread for a healthy afternoon snack.
Natural Nut Butters
Store shelves are now lined with nut butters from peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and even macadamia nuts. All of these spreads contain the same quality protein and heart-healthy fat as whole nuts. Just be sure to read the label closely and select those that are unsweetened and low in sodium.
Research shows that people who eat peanuts maintain a lower BMI and waist circumference when compared to those who don’t consume nuts. Peanuts help reduce hunger due to their high protein and fiber content which stabilizes blood sugar. They also provide monounsaturated fatty acids.
Not only do pistachios provide protein, fat, and fiber for fullness, they are also one of the lowest calorie nuts. Taking the time to remove the shell will also slow your snacking, helping you to practice mindful eating.
Also called pepitas, a 1 ounce serving of pumpkin seeds has 9 grams of protein and provides both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Snack on a few when hunger hits in the afternoon and you will make it to dinner without giving in to an unhealthy option.
Yogurt contains fewer of the healthy fats than other snacks in the list, but it is packed with protein. Choose Greek yogurt for an even greater protein boost. Pay attention to nutrient and ingredient labels. Buy plain yogurt and add honey or fruit to control the amount of sugar and calories in each serving.