Weight Gain and the Workplace: How to Avoid it and How to Stop it!

It’s that time around the country: Graduation! In just a few days—if not graduate1already—millions of Americans will graduate college and join the work force. (Or, for the ones like me who have tackled both college and the workforce at the same time, they’ll have an opportunity to focus solely on climbing the corporate ladder!) This is an exciting time, but also one that will result in weight gain as people enter the corporate work and a more sedentary lifestyle.

According to a CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,600 full-time workers, 41% report that they have gained weight at their present jobs.scale

59% of those workers have put on more than 10 pounds, and 30% of those surveyed have put on more than 20 pounds.

While the Career Builder survey cited that Administrative Assistants, Office Directors and Managers, Engineers, Teachers, Nurses, Information Technology Managers, Attorneys, Machine Operators, and Scientist were the most affected by work-related weight gain—there are other jobs also affected by work-related weight gain.

But why? The common denominator in all of the jobs listed (and others that may be unlisted) is stress—coupled with easy access (in most of the jobs listed) to junk food, and long periods of sitting.  How can you avoid this going into your new job? Or, for those already working, how can you whittle your waist and get back on track?

The following tips are a surefire way to help you help yourself when it comes to wellness at work…

  1. Make sure to eat—and bring your snacks and lunch whenever possible!
    Before work, eat a breakfast that consists of lean protein, fiber, whole grains (complex carbohydrates), fruits, or vegetables.  (This will keep you satisfied, and studies show that students and employees who eat a healthy meal in the morning focus better at work.)
    Plan your snacks and lunch each day! Make sure your snacks are healthy (vending machine snacks are often high in sugar and fat—which are can cause blood sugar spikes and drops, and ultimately leave you vendingfeeling lethargic and bloated). Whenever possible, pack a lunch and snacks.
    Space your eating. Most nutritionists recommend eating every 3-4 hours. Watch the clock (this will help you avoid eating out of boredom—tip #3)
  2. Workout with coworkers! Chances are, if you live and work in America, people in your office could use help with their exercising and eating habits just as much as you could. Find someone (or a group of people) at work who like to run, dance, walk, jog, bike, or hike and hold each other accountable. (I run most days during my lunch hour with a coworker; that way, my workout is finished before I even leave work. On days I know I can’t run at lunch, I make it a point to run before work with coworkers or after work. Running with a buddy keeps me accountable and makes things enjoyable!)
  3. Don’t eat because you’re bored. Don’t eat because you’re stressed. People tend to overeat in two circumstances: when they have too little or too much to do. When you’re tempted to eat (and you know you aren’t hungry), drink a large glass of water or herbal tea, go for a 5-minute walk around the office, take 10 deep breaths, or stand up and stretch. But do yourself a favor and don’t eat that Kit-Kat.
  4. Vary your routine. I read somewhere that the hardest part of being an adult is “getting used to the mundane”—which essentially means, coping when life seems monotonous or the same day in and day out.  Morning muffins, lattes, or the habitual glass of wine each night with dinner can seem harmless—but can result in unneeded additional pounds over the years. Allow yourself to have that muffin, or sip that latte or glass of wine—but do it on occasion.
    This also means vary your routine with exercise. I mentioned that I run—but I also do yoga, attend Crossfit, and hike. Doing the same thing day in and day out can be good—but to get the maximum benefits from exercise, a person should vary their types of physical activity!
  5. Log your foods—and your feelings! Invest a dollar into a notepad. Write down what you eat, and at the end of the day, write down how you feel. Feeling bloated? Feeling lethargic? Observe the foods you’ve eaten on days when you feel something negative, and discern what foods you may need to avoid.
    Most nutritionists agree that people at more than they think they do on a given day; sometimes we eat absentmindedly. Writing things down can keep you aware of what goes into your body.
  6. Drink enough water. Water is an essential piece of any healthy bottledwaterperson—and it is especially important if you are more sedentary for hours during the day! Strive to drink at least 6 glasses (8 oz. each) of water each day!
  7. Take breaks throughout the work day. If you work an 8-5, you are permitted, in most places, an hour lunch and two 15-minutes breaks. Take them. Use those 15 minutes to walk around, stretch, or get your blood flowing!
  8. Get enough sleep. Experts agree that we make poor eating decisions when we have poor nights sleep. When the body needs energy, it often craves carbs –and when we’re tired, we tend to avoid those good-for-you complex carbs and binge on, well, the less helpful stuff. Assuring an adequate night sleep can set you up for success the following day. (Shoot for at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night!)
  9. Be positive, and forgive yourself. Being healthy is sometimes hard. It can be a challenge to change habits that have forged over the years, but a healthy body is totally worth the effort. Stay optimistic when you find yourself “messing up”—and forgive yourself. Each day is a new day, and a new opportunity to nourish your body well!
  10. Put your health before your job. It does not matter if you are Lady Gaga’s personal assistant or the President of the United States of America—you cannot serve others (in your workplace, or in your tiffblogpersonal life) unless you are working well yourself. That means, to do your job and live your life in the most effective and beneficial way possible, you absolutely must put your health before all other things. Set boundaries with work, set goals for yourself, and enjoy living your healthiest life!

10 Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Hey Friends! I’m so sorry for being an absentee blogger for the past few weeks; I’ve been swamped! Don’t worry—I’ve been brainstorming articles to write (my head is literally FULL of them) so you should have some (good?) entertaining and informative reading material coming this week!

Over the weekend I went out of town to Nike’s ‘Wild Canyon Games’. These games are like giant adventure races for adults. They were a blast! The problem? The food at the games was quite different than what I’m used to. (The games were held at a giant camp facilities in the middle of NOWHERE, Oregon—and with over 1,000 people, it is understandably difficult to get healthy food to everyone.) Meals were dense, and included entrees and side dishes like lasagna, white rice and beans, chicken, muffins, bagels, protein bars and shakes, and more. Vegetables and salads were dressed up in caeser or ranch (pre-mixed). Needless to say, I had an interesting time eating “healthy”. wilcanyongames

And all of that got me thinking People would probably have more enjoyable vacations (and they would feel better stepping on the scale when they got home) if they knew how to eat well on vacation. I’ve compiled a few tips (I used) to help keep you from derailing your diet while away—even when you don’t have a lot of (food) options to choose from.
scale

  1. Water is your friend. bottledwater
    If you begin the day with a full glass of water, and consume at least 8 oz. before each meal, you’ll feel more satisfied before even having a bite! That way, you’re less likely to over eat. (In addition, water helps pass food through your system, so you’re less likely to feel uncomrortable and bloated throughout the day!) Note: If water isn’t as tasty as what you’re used to, stick to bottled (or, if the water tastes different but is still okay to drink, bring a few vitamin packs with you. They will make the water taste better, while giving you nutrients!
  2. Do things your way
    Okay, anyone who has gone out to eat (or seen me on vacation) jokes that I can be a bit “high maintenance”, but here’s how I look at it: if I can make simple requests, like “dressing on the side” I’ll consume far fewer calories, fat, sodium, sugar, etc. than if I ate everything as it was usually prepared. Hotel Buffet
  3. Enjoy your company; indulge…in conversation!
    If you’re talking, watching, listening, laughing, and enjoying yourself, you’re probably not over-eating.
  4. Keep track of your food (and beverages) in your head.
    Sure, the tendency is to “let go” while away, and I’m all for it (in small amounts, see Rule 6) but it is good to be somewhat aware of what’s going in your body! I like to put everything on a plate, even snacks, and then consume it. This alleviates the oh-no!-I’ve-eaten-six-handfulls-of-chips-and-salsa-and-now-I-feel-awful situation(s).
  5. If possible, bring healthy snacks and/or meal replacement shakes with you.steelcutoats
    On this last trip, I brought packaged steel-cut oats. This helped me say “no” to the morning bagels and muffins that were provided.
  6. Follow the 90-10 rule—eat like you would at home, 90% of the time.
    Enjoy dessert, a margarita, or that ice cream cone 10% of the time.
  7. Take vitamins.
    Sometimes a deficiency in certain vitamins comes across as your body thinking it’s hungry. Make sure you’re eating nutrient-dense food whenever possible, but consider a multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps!
  8. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re not.
    This is so, so simple and yet so difficult to follow, but if you eat learn to eat when you’re hungry and stop before you’re stuffed, bloated, and totally full, you will feel so much better. Experts recommend eating “until satisfied”.
  9. Have fun!
    If you’re out being active (snorkeling, hiking, running, walking, exploring, etc.) you’re burning calories and jumpstarting your metabolism. So rest on vacation, but don’t clockforget to have fun, too!
  10. Don’t eat after ___pm.
    Set a time, and don’t consume food after it. For me, I stop eating and snacking at 8pm. This way I don’t consume unnecessary foods that sit overnight!

Do you have additional tips? Leave them in a comment!

Until tomorrow,

Tiff

Creative Ways to Increase Your Green Intake: Spinach & Kale

One of you asked me to write about more ways to incorporate greens into food (aside from smoothies). It seems that kale and spinach are all the rage these days (and as a nutrition-junkie, I just LOVE that). Below are a few practical ways to incorporate more greens into your meals!Image

Breakfast:

  • Any egg or egg-substitute scramble is delicious with chopped spinach. Throw it into a scramble or in an omelet to add Imagegreat color variety and fiber!
  • An Actually Good Spinach and Kale Smoothie: Okay, so my boyfriend jokes and calls this my “Garden smoothie”—and he isn’t too far off. I like to sneak spinach and/or kale (or chard, celery, carrots…you get the picture) into as much as possible. Most “spinach smoothies” taste like, um, spinach. This one is actually pretty good. It has a Caribbean feel. Ingredients: ½ mango, ½ green apple, ½ banana, 1 small spear of pineapple (or about ½ c. chopped), ½ c. water,  1 large organic carrot (or 3 baby carrots), a small handful of spinach and a small handful of kale. (I PROMISE you’ll like this one!)

Lunch/Dinner/Linner:

  • Spinach Salads:  I literally have a spinach, kale, and other-veggie salad every single day. I don’t get sick of the stuff, however, because I always decorate my salad differently. Find low-calorie, all organic, low-sugar and low-sodium dressings and STOCK UP. (I know these are hard to come by, so I’ll be blogging about great ways to MAKE salad dressing soon!) Some of my favorites are Trader Joe’s (or Trader Darwin’s depending on if you’re in the US or elsewhere) Cilantro-Lime vinaigrette and homemade balsamic vinaigrette (light on honey).
  • Protein wraps: I often make these when I really need some sustained energy. Simply lay out whole spinach leaves (buy the large, organic heads of spinach; kale works great here as well!) and place turkey on top. Add in some homemade pesto or just a dab of hummus and roll the wrap (so the spinach is on the outside). These tasty little treats pack the protein for a power punch! Note: you can also do these with the meat on the outside and the green stuff on the inside! Do what works for you!
  • Actual Wraps: If you’d like, you can buy a healthy tortilla and make a crap with spinach, meat of your choice, hummus, and chopped veggies for a complete meal!
  • Pasta N’ Greens: I don’t eat a ton of pasta, but because I run long distances, I have to eat the stuff sometimes. (I’m acting as if I don’t like it—I love Pasta, I just try to watch the carb intake.) Before my race a week ago, I made some whole wheat pasta with shredded spinach and just a tad of organic tomato/marinara sauce. The result? Amazing!
  • Quinoa! For those of you who aren’t yet on the Quinoa train, you ought to hop on! For summer barbeques, I usually throw together something that looks a little like this: ImageQuinoa, black beans, chopped tomatoes (organic, of course), some cilantro, a squeeze of lime, a dash of cumin, and a whole lot of chopped spinach. Not only do the varying colors look enticing, but they all compliment each other in the taste-department too!
  • Casseroles: I don’t know of many super healthy casserole options, but I have heard of people laying out leafy greens in each layer of casseroles. This is one of the meals I am currently working up ideas for, so more on this one later!
  • Soups: I have yet to meet a soup that does not look better with spinach. If you are cooking a water or broth-based soup, spinach is great in the soup (for instance, I made taco soup, and just before serving I added in a handful of chopped spinach to add to the great colors). If you are serving a cream-based soup (because desperate times call for desperate measures…) the soup can be garnished with/topped with spinach.
  • Dips: Spinach yogurt dip, or yogurt Kale dip (available at Trader Joes is a great way to increase veggie intake. Say no to crackers and dip carrots into this dip, and you’re Imagedoing double the good! Note: I’ll be blogging about homemade spinach and kale dips in upcoming weeks!
  • Chips!: What? Chips on a healthfood blog? YES! Kale chips are delicious, and if done correctly, they replace your craving for potato chips. I’ll be posting a friend’s recipe, but the general idea is that she braises fresh spinach with EVOO, sprinkles with Imagenutritional yeast (gives the cheese flavor without the fat and calories, plus it’s full of Vitamin B!). The chips smell amazing and they’re always gone quickly!

Lastly, understand that eating greens, like everything else, is just a part of complete health. While kale, spinach, and other dark leafy greens are full of great vitamins—I recommend consulting your doctor about your diet before drastically increasing your intake. If you have heart problems, blood problems, or general health issues, these particular foods may not be the best for you (because they can be blood thinners). In general, it is wise to just focus on a holistically healthy diet, full of all sorts of varying vegetables.

Keep those questions coming!
Also, feel free to submit questions via ‘Tiff’s Tips’ facebook page!

Overwhelmed? Chew Gum!

“When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at work (or with the kids), reach for the Wrigley’s: Chewing gum can help tame your tension, according to Australian researchers” – or better yet, reach for #sugarfree gum! http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/25-amazing-food-cures http://ow.ly/jTQpM

Spring Cleaning: Detoxing Your Pantry

I’ve been asked by several people, “How can I lose weight?” and when I worked as a nanny in high school and my first year of college, parents would ask, “How can I help my child lose weight?”

Often, although it sounds simple, people were surprised and taken aback when I told them that the only way to see sustainable weightloss and quality of health improve was to “get rid of anything in the kitchen pantry thkitchen_tiffstipsat doesn’t have positive health effects on the body.”

Think about it like this: if your closet is full of clothes from the 1800s, and you want to dress really really trendy and hip, it wouldn’t make sense to keep those old clothes in your closet.

If you want to live healthy, and promote healthy living and eating habits to your children and those you love, it just doesn’t make sense to keep garbage in your pantry.

This post will focus on the top 10 things (plus a bonus) that you’ll want to get rid of; stay tuned this week as I post a list of things you’ll want to stock up on. (This is brought to you courtesy WebMD and Nutritionists everywhere.)
Let the Spring Pantry-Cleaning Begin!

1. Soda & Sweetened drinks: Up to 50 grams of sugar can be in one 16-oz bottle of soda. In addition, it has been noted that calories obtained from drinks can account to over half of our daily caloric intake. Soda is not good for you, and it is certainly not good for your kiddos.

2. High Sugar, Low Fiber Breakfast Cereals: Okay, so my boyfriend loves Cereal. (Similar to how I love dark chocolate) but these are really quite bad. Spend a two minutes and make yourself an egg, have a piece of low sugar whole wheat toast, or some steelcut oats with honey and nuts. Sugary cereals may boost energy—but it is artificial, un-sustaining energy. Kids who eat well-balanced breakfasts do better in school than kids who don’t.

3. Cupcakes & Donut type Items. Hostess, Ho Hos, and any other pre-packed over-processed, additive-riddled pseudo-food item is probably not healthy.

4. Butter Popcorn. If you want a good popcorn alternative, that does not have the fat and sodium, I am a fan of Kettle corn, or plain popcorn that you season (this way you can control what goes on it.)

5. Chips and Cheetos. These may be one of the worst possible things for you or your child. High in calories, high in fat, high in sodium, and presenting absolutely zero nutritional value—chips should be avoided. Seriously. Bake some fruit to make “apple chips” or cut some sweet potatoes and bake “sweet potato fries” as a healthy solution to chips and cheetohs! (A 2-ounce bag of chips or Cheetos usually adds more than 300 calories, 20 grams of fat, and over 450 milligrams of sodium)

6. Muffins & Cereal Bars: It’s not that I am against muffins or homemade cereal bars, but prepackaged cereal bars and store-bought muffins are often very high in sugar and very high in calories. I do have a few favorite cereal bars (for when I am in a pinch)—and that are lower in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Kashi brand products tend to be okay, and I like the ThinkThin cereal bars (although I will warn, sometimes cereal bars that have been sweetened with artificial sugars can cause negative reactions in the body). I have a wonderful Gluten-Free lemon blueberry muffin recipe, and several homemade recipes for flax, oat, and nutrient dense cereal bars, which are great for freezing and eating throughout the week (or even month!). Those recipes will be posted soon!

7. Yeast breads (or refined carbs and white breads): These are not only the biggest source of refined flour in the typical American diet, but they can also be a huge source of sodium. I once had someone tell me that they ate bagels and hot dog buns because they were worried about getting enough “carbs”. The truth is, carbohydrates are in fruits and even vegetables—and if you want something to spread peanut butter on, whole wheat less-processed bread is a much healthier option than white breads.

8. Store bought cookies. And Girl Scout cookies. Confession: when I was a kid, I once ate almost an entire box of Samoas by myself. I was then sick, and have vowed to stay away from them because they are so addictive (it’s that sugar I was talking to you about) and, I am convinced, one of the worst foods on earth for you. Store bought cookies often have a high amount of saturated fat (5-10 grams per serving) and are laden with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other unnecessary evils. Make cookies from scratch so you know what is going into them; not only do they taste better, but they are much better for you if done correctly.

9. Instant Noodles, Mac N’ Cheese, ad other Box Dinner Pasta Dishes Unless you’re talking the veggie noodle now offered by Barilla or, in moderation, whole wheat pasta—Pasta Roni, Mac N’ Cheese, and Cup of Noodles wreak havoc on the body. They are high in sodium (like, sky high—higher than the space needle), often high in unsaturated fat, and in general, offering little nutritional value. I will work on posting healthier options to these box-meals for the busy moms and dads out there, but kids are better off eating raw fruits and vegetables instead of a box of ultra-processed noodles dipped in salty water.

10. Candy What is life without candy? I’m not saying to never eat candy again but if candy is readily accessible in your pantry for you or for your kids—well, it will be munched on more than it probably should be. Instead of munching on a few M&Ms or a Snicker’s bar, eat a big bowl of fruit with some honey and sprinkled with crushed almonds. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your body adjusts and is satisfied with the natural sweetness in fruit!

Bonus Item: Jell-O’s, Puddings, and other powders-that-turn-into-gross-products (Tang, I’m talking about you!) I get on book kicks. I always like to read the newest nutrition book, the latest eating fad book, and of course every cookbook I can get my hands on. One of my recent books was Salt Sugar and Fat by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss, in which he discusses how much sugar (and salt, and fat—bet you guessed that one) is added to our food without us even realizing it. These instant mixes are examples of dangerous items you should avoid!

Heart-Healthy Absolutely Amazing Avocado Wrap (Healthified) with Vegan Option

Absolutely Amazing Avocado Wrap (Healthified) (with Vegan Option)
Image

Most Avocado wraps I’ve tasted go something like this: some avocado, veggies, and meat of some sort (or Tofu) wrapped in a dry tortilla. While these are often branded as ‘healthy’, the carbohydrates in the typically-refined tortilla are not my idea of ‘good’, ‘whole’ or ‘pure’.

Avocados can help you maintain lower cholesterol, improve your eye health, they are stellar for your heart, they regulate blood sugar levels, and they even help assure healthy babies (shout out to all of my pregnant friends). In addition, they are a great source of those monounsaturated fat (which, experts say, is important for maintaining clear, healthy skin)!

This recipe makes for a fantastic lunch, snack, or dinner item; it is easy, healthy, and incredibly tasty! Kid-Approved, Boyfriend-Approved, Mom-Approved, and totally heart-healthy!

Ingredients: Image
-2 avocados (organic, preferably, though avocados are one of the less-genetically engineered foods)
-3 organic tomatoes
-1/2 clove garlic
-1/2 onion
-Cilantro
-Himalayan Salt (this provides iodine without sodium; helps with cleansing and attaining a healthy immune system)
-Pepper to taste
-1 lime
-Shaved, all natural turkey slices (as pure as possible, please!) or, to make this vegetarian (and vegan), several large pieces of iceberg lettuce or cabbage

Directions:
1. Peel avocados; cut into long strips
2. Finely chop onion; mince garlic clove; finely chop tomatoes. Mix the three ingredients together.
3. Lay out Turkey (or Lettuce or Cabbage) flat on a table; lay 1-3 Avocado strips on each piece (depending on how large of surface you have).
4. Once avocado is laid out, spoon mixture of garlic, onion, and tomato over each avocado. Top with Himalayan salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro and lime.
5. Roll the wraps and enjoy!

Tiffs Tips Ratings