To Snack or not to Snack: That is the Weight Loss Question

To be or not to be. That used to be the age-old question. However, in todays weight-loss world it is now, To snack or not to snack. That is the question.

More books by more qualified RDs, Doctors, Health Counselors and Weight Loss clinics are coming out every day telling you how you should eat. Articles and research are continually published defending all of these ways of eating. So who’s right?
The actual science behind losing weight is not all that complicated: Calories in must be less than calories out to lose weight. The real struggle with weight loss is not that people don’t necessarily know what to do- its the path to get there.
For some people eating 3 meals a day with enough calorie and nutrient balance is just not logical. A nurse who works a 12-hr shift may not necessarily have the time to sit for a 45minute lunch. Having a smaller meal and a snack may suffice better. A person who has an 8 hour work day and then does a very hard workout (like training a run in training for a marathon) in the evening may not have the energy to make it through their workout if the last thing they ate was at noon and the workout is at 6:30. In these 2 cases snacking in between smaller meals make sense.

However, a person who has a job where they are at their desk and rarely moves, 3 meals may be a better option. If you create a meal that is balanced and nutrient dense, then the idea of snacking may be hindering your weight loss goals. You may have enough calories in just those three meals, and the time between those meals may be enough to satiate you before your next meal.

Like most things, its all about balance. If you are feeling ravenous, and your next meal is hours away, then maybe a snack is appropriate. We also shouldn’t be married to the same way of eating every day.  For example, when you’re stressed you may snack more. If you know you have a stressful project coming up- it may be wise to not make any larger meals for that day/days. If you know you’re not going to an intense workout after work, maybe you skip the afternoon snack that day.

Weight loss can be tricky, and that is why it can be difficult. Having a good support system, whether it be a significant other, friends, family, or a health counselor like the one you would work with in Smart Workouts Weight Loss Program its critical to have a sounding board to help you along the way.

Most important, you need to create a way of eating that works for you. Just because your friend thrives on a certain diet, and your aunt swears by a completely different way of eating, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Its important to find your very own diet- the ME diet.

So, To snack or not to snack. Thats up to you!

Stick to your Weight Loss Goals: Dining Out without calorie Doom and Gloom

There are many different occasions that will come along that may present a challenge for those of us trying maintain healthy eating habits. I don’t necessarily believe in some of the things that the classic “dieters” will tell you to do. I believe that the more honest you can be with yourself and make healthy eating a lifestyle rather than a diet plan- the better chance you have keeping weight off for the long haul.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve noticed is dining out.  The portion sizes are bigger than usual, the fat content is more commonly much higher than necessary, and people tend to mindlessly eat when dining out.  Here is a little “survival guide” to help you on your next restaurant night:

  • Sharing is Caring- I know people who will box half of their meal and eat the other half. This doesn’t always work for me.  I, however, love splitting things with friends. We will often share an entrée- that way we can have some wine and enjoy chatting.
  • Don’t start on empty– If I know I’m going out to dinner- I actually do the opposite of what most people do. I don’t eat little or nothing all day to save it- I actually go on a slightly full stomach. This works because I can’t eat too much- and I have a great doggie bag to portion out when I get home!
  • Get a starter- Yes, I just told you to get an appetizer, but let me be specific. A non-cream based soup or salad will provide you with fiber and keep you full. This rule ties into the idea of the previous tip of filling up your stomach before the meal.
  • Think recovery- Ok, so you didn’t stick to the rules. It can happen. The best tip I have? Schedule a small group class or a training session for the next day. Do this and confirm BEFORE you leave for dinner. Even if you overindulged, you can feel a little better about it!
  • -written by Sandra Partyka, CHC

    Spring into Season: Reach your weight loss goals with these recipes

    Spring has certainly sprung, and with it, an abundance of fruits and veggies come into season.

    Not only will in-season produce be a little easier on the wallet than other produce- but the nutrients are also at their prime. This means all in-season produce will have their maximum benefit, so if losing weight is your goal, here is a great way to start.

    Most of us know that to lose weight, eating well is a key factor. However, even when we know this the allure of a cheeseburger and fries can still hit you from time to time. The truth is, just as some of us need a personal trainer to help motivate us physically, some of us need a little motivation nutritionally.  Thats why its important to find a program, like Smart Workouts Weight Management program, that will combine all aspects of your health. These types of programs that combine an individualized exercise program, nutritional education, and healthy eating counseling are the ones that we have found to be the most successful in helping people reach their weight loss goals.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables can be a key component to weight loss, but sometimes incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, whether in season or not, can be tricky. Your goal should be to find recipes that are not only easy- but taste great as well.  There is also a bonus: in season produce will also taste the very best during their season.

    Here is a short list of healthy fruits and vegetables in season now:

    Asparagus

    Avocado

    Peas

    Carrots

    Rhubarb

    Strawberries

    Two of my favorite recipes (from eating well.com) using two in-season items are below.  Not only are they healthy, they are easy and taste great too!

    Happy Spring Eating!

    -written by Sandra Partyka, C.H.C.


    Strawberries: Not only will one cup of strawberries provide 3 grams of fiber and keep you fuller longer, it also packed a full day’s dose of vitamin C.

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    Ingredients:

    • 4 thick slices whole-wheat bread
    • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 3 cups sliced or diced hulled strawberries
    • 4 tablespoons mascarpone, (Italian cream cheese)

    Directions:

    1. Toast bread in a toaster.
    2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add strawberries and stir until juices begin to exude and the berries are heated through, 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
    3. Spread 1 tablespoon mascarpone on each piece of toast. Top with the warm berries.

    Asparagus: Asparagus contains many anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which can help alleviate certain chronic issues in the body, and can reduce risk associated with chronic diseases like Diabetes and Heart Disease. A cup of asparagus will also provide 3 grams of fiber, and a powerful punch of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. It is also a great source of folic acid, which is critical for heart health.

    Penne with Asparagus and Lemon-Cream Sauce

    Ingredients:

    • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
    • 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
    • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
    • 12 ounces penne
    • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil

    Directions:

    1. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil.
    2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus and scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and browned in places, 10 to 12 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, whisk ricotta and lemon zest in a large bowl. Cook penne until just tender, about 10 minutes. Measure out 1/4 cup of the pasta-cooking water; stir into ricotta mixture until creamy. Drain the penne and mix into the ricotta mixture; toss to coat. Add the vegetables and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with basil.

    Gain Love – Not Weight – this Valentine’s Day

    We all know the old tale. When youre in a relationship, weight gain is common.  Most couples get comfortable and in a routine, which can help the pounds creep on.  But, do singles really have an easier time keeping weight off? Not if youre out consuming high-calorie drinks youre not. So for this upcoming Valentines Day- focus on the fun AND food.

    Valentines Day has not only become a day of romance- but also sweets, large pants-busting dinners, drinking and partying.

    Heres your survival guide to a healthy V-Day (whether you are in a couple or not) without completely forgoing chocolate:

    For Couples:

    1.) Try something new: Instead of going out to a romantic dinner (which lets face it -can be cliche) why not try a cooking class with your significant other? Not only will you be moving and not sitting the entire time- but you can eat as you go and have a great new staple dinner for any other night of the week!

    2.) Keep romance alive: Many restaurants will have a pre-fix menu for Valentines Day. While these can be a nice sampling of specialties at a restaurant- it may be overkill for your diet. Have one person get the pre-fix and the other get an entree. Split the appetizer and dessert. You wont be overstuffed- and hey- spooning chocolate molten cake into your honeys mouth is the idea of romance!

    For singles:

    1.) Make it a date-night: With all of your friends. Get a big group together and try a tapas-style night out. Sharing great food and great conversation is what love is all about!

    2.) Keep the drinks low-cal: If you plan on doing a classic anti-Valentines Day event (as most singles do for this holiday) be sure to keep your liquid calories in check. Skip the fruity mixers and go for a champagne cocktail or tonic water with your liquor.

    3.) Eat the office treats: Choose a day and a type of treat if your office has an abundance of chocolates and candy out.  Let yourself have a few- and make sure its after lunch.

    Enjoy your Valentines Day!

    -written by Sandi Partyka, Certified Health Counselor, Fitness and Pilates Instructor

    Keep your Resolutions!

    After a busy holiday season, most people will say that one of their New Years Resolutions is to lose weight.

    Usually it all starts well, with good intentions and planning. But how can you keep that going for 12 full months? Even if your resolution isn’t to specifically lose weight- these 3 steps can translate to help you keep any New Year’s Resolution:

    1.) Write it down: Is it daunting to write down everything you eat? Yes. However, statistics have shown that if you write down what you put in your body, you’re more likely to feel more control over what you’re eating. Nowadays, there are more and more free websites that provide a food log to help you keep better track of your diet. Did you resolve to exercise more? Then make a calendar just for tracking your exercise- be sure to note the day time and duration.

    2.)   Think Big, Start Small: So you would like to lose 10 lbs. this year. Great. But if you look at it as 10 lbs total all of the time, it might be intimidating. Breaking down a larger goal may be a great key to your success. Instead of saying, I want to lose 10 lbs. this winter, re-train yourself to say, every 2 weeks Id like to lose 1-2 lbs. Keeping some short-term goals may have you dropping those unwanted pounds in no time. This is easy to do for other resolutions as well. Want to become more organized this year? Perfect- start one room (or portion of a room) at a time.

    3.) Victory Dance: It is so important to celebrate your weight loss or healthy eating goals once you’ve reached them. The key is not to celebrate with a cookie. When you’ve reached a goal (even a smaller one like I mention above), reward yourself. Get a massage, have a date night, get that new hot pair of shoes! By rewarding yourself in this way, you’ll stick to your goals! Heres the fun thing to think about- the more resolutions you stick to- the more goals to celebrate!

    -By Sandi Partyka, Certified Fitness and Pilates Instructor, Certified Health Counselor