challenge

Weekly Challenge: Try a Green Smoothie

Good morning guys! Happy Monday! I hope you are well rested from last week's challenge! This week, I'm asking you to try a green smoothie or juice! I love green smoothies - there's a multitude of flavor combinations, they're full of healthy ingredients, and are great when you're on the go! They're a great way to get in a serving or two of fruit and vegetables, but here's the trick: they often don't taste like veggies at all! Please share your favorite green smoothie recipes in the comments! I've listed a few of my favorite go-to flavors below! Try-a-Green-Smoothie

A few green smoothie resources:

Start here >> Green smoothie 101Top green smoothie recipes from simplegreensmoothies.com!

Already a green smoothie pro? Use this tip to make a month's worth of green smoothies in an hour! 

A good formula to follow when making green smoothies >> A Daily Detox Green Smoothie in 7 Easy Steps

The trick to saving greens! >> How to Freeze Greens for Smoothies

An awesome, easy, beginner's green smoothie recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.

Get really healthy with this coconut kale smoothie from my favorite blogger!

Or try my easy almond butter banana smoothie - yum!!

What's your favorite green smoothie? 

Weekly Challenge: Eat Less Sugar

Hey friends! Happy Sunday! I hope you're having a great weekend! I'm popping in to share our second weekly challenge: eat less sugar! April-6-Challenge

There's a lot of research that suggests Americans are on a sugar overload and it's affecting our health in detrimental ways. The American Heart Association, for example, reports added sugar increases one's risk of heart disease and contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

You’ve probably heard a sugar-is-bad message before, but if you’re like me, you weren’t really sure what to do with that information except to avoid donuts and the other obvious sugar culprits, like candy and ice cream. But here’s something you may not realize: sugar is in otherwise-healthy foods too, like yogurt, granola and dried fruit (raisins are especially high). It’s also in the most unsuspecting places- I’ve seen it on the nutrition label of precooked shrimp at Costco, a canister of sunflower seeds, and even in Morton’s “Lite Salt.”

Sugar is everywhere!

It's laced in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner disguised as dextrose, evaporated cane juice, maltose, sucrose, frutose, lactose, and high fructose corn syrup... just to name a few of the other names for sugar. And, it's highly addictive.

It's in your coffee creamer, your salad dressing, your salad toppings, such as craisins, and in your energy bars and sports drinks. Did you know just one 12-ounce bottle of Gatorade (fruit punch flavor) has 21 grams of sugar?

You may think you can’t escape sugar, but you can and more importantly, you should!

According to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that Americans who consume the most sugar — about a quarter of their daily calories, or 500 calories (the equivelant to 31 teaspoons of sugar) — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to 7 percent of their total calories.

Which group are you in? Do you limit your sugar or is it in a quarter of the foods you eat? Think of it this way:

The American Heart Association advises that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily.

To know how many teaspoons you're consuming, you'll need to know that there's approximately 4 grams of sugar in every one teaspoon. So, when you check the label for sugar, divide whatever the total grams is by 4. For example, that Gatorade, at 21 grams, has about 5 teaspoons of sugar… pretty close to the recommended daily serving!

Another easy way to watch your sugar is to log your food.

MyFitnessPal provides the nutritional breakdown of all the foods you log, making it really easy to see where the sugar in your diet is coming from! Take a look at my food log for last Tuesday:

Sugar

My total sugar intake for the day was about 33 grams, or 8.25 teaspoons. That's not bad, but let's look at where the most of the sugar came from: my coffee creamer. One tablespoon of Lucrene hazelnut coffee creamer has about 5 grams of sugar in it. Remember, 4 grams is the equivalent of one teaspoons, so 5 grams is a little more than a teaspoon. What's that tell me? Well, more than a teaspoon of the tablespoon of creamer is sugar! It's basically ALL sugar!

Learning this has been eye-opening for me and I've already taken steps to cut back on the coffee creamer. Of course, keep in mind, this was a good day for me! There were no donuts for the office at work or afternoon cookie attacks. I don't always have good days but if I can set myself up to get in the habit of not eating sugar, those little splurges every now and then won't be as big of a deal.

I'd love for you to join me in this challenge to eat less sugar, and share what you learn along the way! Whether it's finding that there is sugar in one of your favorite "healthy" foods or finding a good sugar substitute (and I'm not talking about fake sugar--that's a post for a different day), please share your experience!

Remember: This challenge is meant to last the entire week! If you can, continue logging and see where the sugar in your diet is coming from. If you don't like to log, check the label on foods-- look for those sugar disguises or just do the math and see how many teaspoons you're taking in! Feel free to share your findings back here!

To read more about the JAMA Internal Medicine study, read (or listen to) this article from NPR and to learn more about sugar, I highly recommend watching this video on how sugar affects the brain.

Do you have a slight sugar addiction? Do you watch how much sugar you eat? 

Challenge: Keep a Food Journal

Hello again! I'm popping back in today to share a new weekly feature coming to the blog: weekly challenges! Even though I love 30, 60, and 90 day challenges, I tend to do better when I just focus on implementing a new habit one day (or just one week) at a time, versus for the entire month or year. I'm guessing you might be the same way?

Well, in an effort to get us all practicing some new healthy habits, I'm going to post a Sunday (or Monday) challenge that I want us all to try to maintain throughout the week!

The first challenge is to keep a food journal!

APRIL-1-CHALLENGE

I know logging food, like counting calories or points can feel tedious, but if you're trying to lose weight, studies show this one small step can make a big difference.

In fact, studies, such as this one, suggest that you can double your weight loss by tracking your food! Other studies, such as this one, suggest that the key to losing weight isn't in any special diet or diet approach, but rather in your smartphone, if you'll just utilize one of the many apps available for food logging. And, are you one of the millions who vowed to get fit in the New Year? This recent study that suggests recording goals in a fitness diary maximizes the achievement of New Year's resolutions to stay fit.

Well, personally, I don't need science to tell me food logging is good -- I've always been more successful with my own weight loss efforts when I tracked what I was eating, whether I did so by providing my trainer with a handwritten list, logged it in MyFitnessPal or just jotted it in the Notes app on my phone. There's no magic method here, it's just a matter of being conscientious.

Technology is making it easier than ever to track food, too. Sites like MyFitnessPal show you the macronutrient breakdown for all types of foods and the index is unbelievably comprehensive -- search for almost anything and there's probably already an entry for that food.

Also, the MyFitnessPal recipe box can now read recipe URLs! How cool is that? Rather than creating a recipe by typing in one ingredient at a time, copy and paste in the recipe URL and voila -- you've got the nutrition facts at your fingertips!

Now, if you think you're one of those people who is pretty good at estimating calorie content and differentiating healthy food from junk (I've used that excuse too), a recent Harvard study suggests people think they're eating less than they actually are. In fact, the British Medical Journal reported that "underestimation of calorie content increased substantially as the actual meal calorie content increased." Say what?? (True story!)

With all that said, calorie counting isn't a perfect science and it's not the end-all-be-all to living healthy or losing weight, I get that! But, I'd like us to experiment this week and see what happens when we log! Do we feel more in control of our diets? Do we make better choices, plan better, or see better results? Let's do this and find out!

So, starting today, or at the very latest, tomorrow, write down what you're eating, and try to do that everyday this week!

Ready? Set? Get tracking!

Oh, and I'd love to keep each other accountable on social media -- what should our hashtag be?

Do you log your food on a regular basis? Why or why not?

Do you like weekly goals better than monthly or yearly goals?  

Image via Charm & Gumption // Get Fit Food & Exercise Notepad

PS: I'll be using MyFitnessPal to complete this challenge -- if you wanna be friends on there, shoot me an email!