November 13, 2012

Tuesday Ten: Health Tips

[A little background]: Sophomore year of college I took a health class, and my health habits have never been the same.  I wish I had a good before and after picture, but since high school and early college I have cut my pant size in half, gained a lot more muscle (especially since starting CrossFit), and lost 15-20 pounds. (While we're on the subject, let's talk about how I can now also wear the same size bra as my 13-year-old sister, so take that as you will.)

Being healthy brings me a lot of happiness and satisfaction with myself. I've also learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought I was- both mentally and physically, that it is possible to have the discipline to go to the gym at 6 a.m., and that there is so much more to being healthy and fit than being stick thin. I want to be fit and healthy for myself, but also for my future kids. What it comes down to is that I was given a body that is fully capable and healthy, so I feel like I don't have any excuses not to try to be the best I can be.

There are a lot of diet, exercise and fitness tips out there, and so many of them are straight up crazy, so here are a few that I believe in:

1. You've heard it before- but drink water water water. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces (if you weigh 120, drink 60 ounces of water per day). Something that has been super helpful is to always carry a water bottle with me, and this reminds me to drink up. On that note, I rarely drink any soda, juice, or sports drinks- mainly because I like food too much to drink my calories. minus hot chocolate.

2. I think there has been a diet fad of every kind. Don't eat carbs, don't eat meat, don't eat. period. I definitely try (emphasis on try) to stay away from processed foods, but other than avoiding those- I don't listen to the "don't eat this or that." One day I read that you shouldn't eat fruit because of the sugar, so at that point I stopped listening to all of that nonsense and started listening to my body instead. I also think it's important to not measure your success only by the numbers on the scale. I have gone down in size so much since starting CrossFit, but I only weigh a couple pounds less due to the increased muscle. It's important to remember that muscle weighs more than fat so that you're not getting discouraged. Try to do before and after pictures, body fat percentage, measuring inches lost, or even judge simply by how your clothes fit rather than (or in addition to) numbers on the scale.

3. A lot of "low fat" foods are really just replaced with a lot of freaky chemicals to be able to maintain the taste or texture of whatever ingredient they omit to make it "healthier." Low fat typically means high chemicals. Read your labels and watch out for those nasty guys. Also on the chemicals note- I rarely buy shredded cheese. Have you noticed the saw-dusty looking powder on store bought shredded cheese? That's cellulose, also known as "wood pulp." so basically, describing it as saw dust is right on the money. yum. (it's also in a lot of your low fat foods to keep the creamy texture.) If you don't recognize the name of something in the ingredients, that might be a good sign you should stay away from it. 

4. Grapefruit in the morning can help boost your metabolism. I also have been adding cinnamon into my protein shakes because that is a metabolism booster as well.

5. I talked about my love for hot chocolate above. An alternative is to heat up Dark Chocolate Almond Milk.

6. My all time favorite blog for healthier recipes is SkinnyTaste. I have tried so many recipes of hers, and have loved them all! Some of my faves so far have been her Chicken & White Bean Enchiladas, Light Cajun Chicken Pasta, and her Cream of Asparagus Soup (sounds nasty, right? it's not, I promise.) She also has great dessert recipes. I've tried her pumpkin banana bread and chocolate chip cookies.

7. Two awesome apps for health are MyFitnessPal & Fooducate (both are free). MyFitnessPal allows you to input both your food and exercise in order to calculate your calories eaten and your calories burned. The awesome part is that most foods are already in there, so you just search them and all the nutrition info pops up. Fooducate gives your food a grade based on how healthy or unhealthy it is. You can either scan a bar code or enter a name, and it will give you a grade and even gives you the option to click on a list of healthier alternatives for that food.

8. I love cereal. I know there are way healthier breakfasts out there and I try to eat those, but for those days when cereal is necessary, a good rule of thumb to go by is that it has to have less than 3 grams of sugar, and more than 3 grams of fiber.

9. Preparation is key. This is one that I have recently realized is so powerful. When you're hungry, a lot of the time you'll go to the fridge or cupboard and eat the quickest thing you can find. If you prepare healthy and easily accessible snacks/lunches ahead of time, you're less likely to grab things like crackers or granola bars that are highly processed and often loaded with sugar.

10. Breakfast speeds up your metabolism, gives you more energy, and helps you concentrate (basically what I'm saying is your mom wasn't making this crap up). One of my all times favorite breakfasts is steel cut oatmeal. Holy. If you haven't tried it, I promise you with all my promising strength that you are missing out, and the answer is no- regular rolled oats do not even come near to my beloved steel cuts.

If you cook steel cut oats on the stove it takes about 20 minutes, and according to the directions you are supposed to stir constantly. Who wants to wake up 20 minutes early to stir a pot of oatmeal? Not me said the wife from 2012. Well here's the best tip ever: make the oats in the crockpot the night before.

1/2 C. of steel cut oats (I use Bob's Red Mill that you can purchase at Whole Foods or on Amazon. If you're lucky enough to live in Utah, you can get them at WinCo in the bulk foods section.)
1 1/2 C. of water
Put the measured water and oats in a bowl or pyrex dish that is small enough to fit into your crockpot. Then fill your crock pot with water (I usually do it about 3/4 of the way of the dish that the oatmeal is in). Set the crockpot on low and they are ready in the morning.

Last week we added apples in the night before and that was delicious. You can also top it with fresh fruit, cinnamon, or brown sugar in the morning. I add a bit of milk/almond milk to make it more creamy.

This is enough for two people. Sometimes I up it to 3/4 C. of oats and 2 1/4 C. of water for the two of us (in other words, you'll do three times as much water as oats.)

So there's my Tuesday Ten. I also want to point out that I don't restrict myself 100% of the time. I am by no means one of those wild health fanatics that eats straight chicken breasts. In fact, as I wrote this post on health, I was simultaneously eating a Snack Pack that I stole from Clint, so...

You can't win em all. That's my motto.



  1. loved this post. thanks so much for sharing! :)

    1. Thank you Ashley. You're so sweet :)