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!
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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

Portion Sizes!

Portion sizes have increased (drastically) over the last few years… I will write more in detail later (about how you can avoid the “more is better” trap), but for now, here’s a little picture to help you make it through your day (and weekend!).

Stick to these sizes…ImageCheers!

Tiff

Easy & Light Cilantro-Lime-Avocado Chili (Gluten-free, with Paleo option!)

Chili. I read somewhere that there are over 18 MILLION chili recipes on the internet. (That’s more than the number of cookbooks, nutrition articles, and wellness textbooks I own combined!)

As you know, I’m a huge fan of putting wholesome ingredients into the body. I like to be healthy. I feel best when I eat well. And I love chili. The problem? I’m not a big fan of gut-bombs that come, inevitably, from chili in a can, or chili that is made with unhealthy ingredients.

So I did us both a favor and researched recipes, and tossed out the aspects of chili that I don’t like (you know, the unhealthy ones). Then, I decimated my boyfriends’ kitchen (because it’s bigger than mine!) and tried out a few recipes.
(Yes, mom, someday, I’ll learn to clean as I cook.) 🙂mess

I looked for a recipe that was healthier than storebought chili, Paleo (which basically means it sticks to things you could find in the ground or on the ground–like fruit, veggies, and animal protein; Paleo dieters stay away from legumes, or “beans”) and gluten-free, and I wanted something that tasted really, really good. (If I’m going to eat meat, I want to eat it with purpose!)

 This chili is packed with protein (sorry to my vegan friends—this isn’t for you) and quite a bit lighter than many of the recipes I perused for inspiration.

tiffssoup

Ingredients:
1 Pound grass fed beef, ground (organic)
-32 oz. beef stock, LOW or no sodium
-1 chopped onion
-1 can of organic crushed tomatoes, low or no sodium
-3 organic bell peppers (I used red and yellow, for some varying color)
-1 tablespoons chili powder (or more, to taste…I think I put something like 3 tablespoons total, but I like a LOT of flavor)
-2 tablespoons of cumin
-1 tsp. pepper
-1 tbsp. minced garlic (organic)
-1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
-1/4 lemon, freshly squeezed
-1/4 lime, freshly squeezed
-Optional: 1-2 cans of organic black beans (reduced sodium)* this makes the diet no longer Paleo, but still quite delicious!
-Garnish: cilantro, a freshly squeezed lime wedge, and avocado

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, cook the ground beef. Drain excesss liquids (and try to remove “excess fat”. Finish cooking when the meat is thoroughly cooked, and turn off heat. Set aside.
  2. Chop the onion into fine pieces. (Chew bread when you chop the onion…I cry every time!!) Chop the bell peppers as well.
  3. Add the meat, the now chopped onion and bell pepper into a large soup pan (is that the correct terminology!?). Add the beef broth/stock, stewed tomatoes, minced garlic, chili powder, pepper, cumin, lemon, lime, and Himalayan salt. (If your variation will include beans, add them at this point.)
  4. Bring the saucepan (with all ingredients) to a boil. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, then turn to medium-low and cover for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water or additional broth if the mixture becomes too thick for your liking.
  5. Once the chili has cooked enough to fill your house with the sweet aromas of cumin, lime, and beef,  pour the chili into bowls and top with cilantro, lime juice, and avocado. Serving size: approximately 6-8
  6. Enjoy!

Note: Because of the added spices, this chili is one of those fabulous meals that gets better with time. Though this chili should be eaten within a week or so, it will be AMAZING on day two because those spices really enrich the meat. Yum!

Note: This recipe is great for eating on a later date if you freeze it. To freeze, simply combine cooked mixture in a freezable container. To thaw, set out on the counter for at least 2 hours; then toss in the microwave or warm over stove.

Perfect Quick-fix Smoothies! – UPDATED!

UPDATE: FUNNY STORY… A reader made the Peppermint smoothie, and the dear followed my recipe exactly. Through her, I realized I accidentally said to include 1/2 TABLESPOON of peppermint extract, when I meant to say 1/2 (or even 1/3 will do!) TEASPOON of the stuff. Needless to say, her sinus is now clear. 😀

Also, as an FYI–these smoothies are servings for 2 or more. (I usually limit my consumption to 8 oz.).

Thank you readers, friends, and supporters for catching my glitches and offering suggestions! It is so very appreciated!

-Tiff

Hey All!

It has been way too long since I have posted (don’t worry–I have about fifty NEW recipes, but have been swamped as of late!)

Yoga is calling my name, so I don’t have time to tell you about the amazing Raspberry tart bars I created (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-free…and heavenly). I’ll get to those tomorrow!
I do want to leave you with something, however, so I have decided to share some of my favorite smoothie recipes with you! Smoothies are perfect meals on the go. In addition, they make great healthy-alternative dessert substitutes (Mint chip? Pumpkin pie? Sign me up!)

Because I try to stay away from dairy (it’s dairy’s fault for being mean!) these smoothies are all vegan. Of course, you could add greek yogurt or something additional for packed protein (but that also means packed calories. I feel better when I have lean, filling smoothies!)

The first is my favorite Banana-Nut-Butter Protein Smoothie I drink this when I need something to hold me over for a long time. It is packed with protein, and tastes as good as a milkshake (or better?)! Image
Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, ripe if possible
  • 1/2 c. almond milk, coconut milk, or other (unsweetened) milk of your choice
  • 1 tbsp. almond (or your favorite) nut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 organic date (seed removed)
  • 1 cup ice

Directions: Blend together all ingredients  and enjoy!

Nutritionists recommend detoxing the system of toxins, and smoothies can be a great way to do this. On mornings when I am feeling adventurous (and on mornings when I’m wanting to detox) I like to make this version of Green Lemonade: Image

  • 1 organic green apple, core removed
  • 3 strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1 cup organic kale, stems removed
  • 1 cup organic spinach
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1/4-inch cube of raw ginger root (I use ginger because of the detoxifying properties)

Directions: Mix and enjoy! *If you’re new to the smoothie business, the green will totally freak you out. Never fear! If I can do it, you can do it! (And seriously, it’s actually pretty good!)

For the days when you’ve got extra carrots left over in the fridge, give this one a try! It’s my favorite simple smoothie, and it packs a big nutritional punch! ImageCarrot-Mango Dream:

  • 1 1/2 cup baby carrots or 4-5 large, organic carrots
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1/2 orange, chopped
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg

Directions: Mix and devour!

…what about dessert?

When you want pumpkin pie but you need to fit into a dress for an auction this Saturday (I speak from experience!) this treat is a great substitute that will surely satisfy any sweet tooth! Not to mention, the pumpkin packs a ton of fiber and vitamins! Pumpkin Pie in a GlassImage

  • 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 1 banana, chopped and frozen for at least an hour
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin (organic, of course!)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, to taste

Directions: Chop and freeze the banana (this alleviates your need for ice, plus, frozen bananas give smoothies more creamy textures!) Then, blend all ingredients!

Another favorite dessert substitute is my Mint-Chip Smoothie (I promise, it’s better than ice-cream and totally guilt-free!): Image

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 c. almond, coconut (or your favorite) milk
  • 1/3 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/4 avocado (trust me!)
  • 1 tsp. organic honey
  • 1 tbsp. cocao nibs
  • 1 cup ice

Directions: Mix and enjoy!

Got Questions? Keep ’em Coming!

Hey Friends,

I’m perfecting a few great recipes, an article on Sugar, and a week-long eating “un-diet” for my peers who want to “tone up” without drinking beet-juice smoothies (or some other ridiculous fad) for 10 days. My “Un-diet” comes at the request of a few people who have asked me to help them form an eating plan, and it’s based on an intake of the least amount of processed foods as possible with the most nutrients as possible.

Anyway, until I post those things, I wanted to keep thoughts flowing, so I’m asking all of you to submit questions (either here via comment, or via Facebook – Tiff’s Tips)! I’ll do my best to post articles, thoughts, and tips that answer your questions about health, lifestyle, or fitness!

Happy Tuesday!,

Tiffany

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!