Tuesday, March 15, 2016

8 Healthy Habits for Losing Weight Right Now!

Recently posted on Mogul...

A few years ago, I was plagued with some serious stomach issues that turned out to be Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or more commonly known as Acid Reflux. In order to reset, I had to make some serious lifestyle changes. 
I was already a pretty healthy person by nature – I don’t smoke and move my body for exercise on a regular basis – but there were a few bad habits that caused my busted gut. In addition to eating too much at one sitting and too close to bedtime, my addiction to spicy foods, love of champagne and daily coffee intake were literally burning me up from the inside out.

So I immediately began to avoid (some of) these trigger foods and, once I got used to my new fit practices, the extra pounds started melting away for good.

Credit: Foodnetwork.com

#1 Eat Breakfast Every Day
  • Eating a Healthy Breakfast Can Offer Enhanced Performance and Weight Loss
We’ve heard it all our lives, a nutritious breakfast will keep you going until lunch time but, really, who has time in the morning? If you’re lucky, you grab a quick cup of Joe and a breakfast sandwich, right? Well, if this you, think again.

Many experts advise that by eating a healthy – not necessarily hearty – breakfast can offer enhanced performance and weight loss.

Eating a healthy breakfast can give you the following:
  • A more nutritionally complete diet higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • Improved concentration and performance in the classroom or the boardroom
  • More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels
However, common sense should prevail here; don’t raid the donut box or go for the luck o’ the Irish with a bowl of Lucky Charms. In other words, refined carbs and sugars are not the way to go; these are just empty calories that will put you back to sleep faster than you can say sweet dreams.

Do choose the following:
  • 100% Whole Grain oatmeal with fresh fruit
  • Hard-boiled or poached eggs
  • Natural Greek Yogurt with fruit and/or honey
  • Sliced banana with all-natural peanut butter

Credit: CaramelPotatoes.com
#2 Eat only Real Foods that Your Granny Knows
  • Eating 'Real' Foods with 5 Ingredients or Less Leads to Longer, Healthier Lives
Since the early 1970s, Americans have slowly started adding more and more nutritionally engineered “food-like products” to their diets which aren’t necessarily good for us. These “processed” foods are riddled with ingredients that are not natural but, over the years, have become the norm. Some research indicates that by eating a diet consisting of mostly processed foods can lead to diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer among other illnesses.

A good rule of thumb is to read labels and eat only “real” foods that include 5 ingredients or less.

Avoid the following at all costs:
  • Food products that are unfamiliar to you
  • Food products that have ingredients that you can’t pronounce
  • Trans Fats
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Food that comes in elaborate, fancy packaging
  • And finally, all processed foods
If your Grandmother doesn’t know what it is, then don’t eat it!
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#3 Say Bye-bye to Sauces, Dressings and Condiment
  • Avoiding Dressings in Salad May Cut At Least 140 Calories Per Meal
Since spicy was doing me wrong on so many levels, I just knew that I had to say good-bye to salsa, Sriracha hot chili sauce, and I am still mourning the loss of my ability to drink a Bloody Mary. However, I decided to take it a step further and cut out all sauces, dressings and condiments and this is why:

The nutritional value of 2 Tbsps. of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing has 140 calories, 14 g of fat, 2.5 g of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and a whole slew of ingredients that I can’t pronounce; And while 2 Tbsps. of Hidden Valley Farm House Originals with Italian Herbs is not quite as bad at 80 calories with 7 g of fat, it still has several ingredients that I can’t pronounce and that are definitely not considered real food.

Can’t stand a dry salad? Then sprinkle some lemon juice or try my go to dressing of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and lemon juice or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Some might argue that my dressing(s) are fattening since 1 Tbsp. of EVOO weighs in at 119 calories and 13.5 g of fat but it is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and high in monounsaturated fats which are good for your heart plus there is only one ingredient.

Also, most condiments are a food like substance and don’t contribute any added nutritional value to a person’s diet so I said buh-bye for good.

#4 Plan and Pack Ahead
  • Sticking to a Meal Plan Helps Keep the Calories at a Minimum
Nothing derails my healthy eating habits more than not having a plan in place. This is why I create a weekly menu for lunches and dinners. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I have a standing lunch date with a salad and, on the alternate days, a turkey sandwich with hummus and avocado with a small bowl of vegetable soup and some carrots to add a crunch instead of chips or pretzels. Boring, right? Not necessarily; I always change it up by adding left-overs and unconventional healthy accouterments such as nuts and seeds, exotic soft cheeses and protein.

Also, I always keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand at home and work so, if I’m having a weak moment, I am more inclined to grab a cheese stick, handful of almonds, veggies with hummus, or a piece of fruit.
Often it is our addictions to refined carbohydrates and sugar that cause unhealthy eating habits so make sure to keep healthy options in the pantry and toss out all those unhealthy temptations.

The best advice I ever heard is that, if you are really hungry, an apple will satisfy your craving. So let’s not forget the old saying that, an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.

#5 Be Mindful of What you Eat
  • Use Technology to Remain Accountable for Calorie Intake
My weekly menus also help me to be mindful of what I am eating. Since I am planning in advance and shopping for specific meals, it is easier to be accountable. I truly try hard to keep in mind that, if I had a sandwich for lunch and the family is having turkey burgers for dinner, I either go bun-less or throw it on top of a bed of greens and call it a salad. The same goes for dairy; However, I am not a big milk drinker so I typically get my calcium intake via Greek yogurt, half and half, soft cheese and sour cream.
However, one of the easiest bad habits to fall into is “Denial Eating.” This is when one might have a splurge day – filled with fast food, sweets, and lots of refined carbs – and then feel bad about it so they make sure to eat healthy for the rest of the week but only to disrupt all the discipline by treating themselves to another splurge day as a reward. After such a setback, we wonder how we possibly could have packed on the pounds after we’d been so good.
The key is being responsible and remembering what has passed through your lips. With technology, this is easy. There are many apps and websites that help you count your daily calorie intake and can also factor in exercise. A few of these are www.caloriecount.com; www.myfitnesspal.com; and www.fatsecret.com. Investing in a Fitbit ® is another great way to track your fitness.

I’m not saying that you should never treat yourself or splurge but, by having a plan in place and able to track calorie intake, you are more likely to stay on task with clean eating forever.

Credit: MarthaStewart.com
#6 Drink Water – not Sugary Drinks – and Detox
  • Spa Water Can Naturally Aid Weight Loss, Reduce Bloat and Curb Appetite
I am an anomaly because I mostly almost only drink coffee, water and wine…with a little cold-pressed green juice thrown in now and again. I had to give up orange juice due to its high acidity and I have never been a sugary beverage drinker, but that is good. Soda, juices from concentrate, and the plethora of sweetened drinks out there are loaded with sugar but not the natural type. In addition, they are high in calories and, even if they are “diet,” they contain those food products (aka chemicals) that are not real foods.

Not a water drinker, then make “spa water.” By adding fruits and/or vegetables to your water, it naturally aids weight loss, reduces bloat and curbs appetite. Some examples: Grapefruit is a fat fighter and helps to curb appetite; cucumber helps to ease bloating; coconut water is hydrating; Aloe Vera is a natural detox and good for curtailing stomach acid; and lemon revs up digestions.

Credit: WashingtonPost.com
#7 Caffeine and Alcohol in Moderation
  • Coffee and Wine in Small Quantities Offers Healthful Benefits
Nobody is perfect and that is why I do my best to follow my own advice. However, my love of coffee with loads of half-half and white wine are my vices. I know this which is why I try to ingest them in the most healthful way possible.
Coffee is known to contain some essential nutrients like an array of Vitamin Bs, Magnesium, Potassium, and Folate in addition to being high in antioxidants.

I have found an organic (fair-trade of course) breakfast blend that is low-acid. I use real stevia as a sweetener and gallons of REAL half-n-half. It certainly is fattening but, once again, the ingredients are only milk and cream, and are contributing to my daily calcium requirement. I have one cup at home in the morning and one cup when I arrive at the office.

If you love your high-end coffee drinks such as lattes and Cappuccinos, I have bad news for you. Despite being absolutely yummy, these designer drinks can start at 240 calories for a non-fat latte. A cup of drip is a mere 8 calories and, for me, the addition of 40 extra calories in my half and half.

In addition, I try to be mindful of my alcohol intake. There are some that believe – including myself – that a little wine on a regular basis is actually good for you.  I have heard that red wine boasts the most healthful attributes – think Mediterranean diet – but any alcohol in moderation can be good for you. For women, a glass a day and, for men, two glasses can offer healthful benefits such as antioxidants, boosting blood flow and reducing depression. If you don’t imbibe your varietal on a daily basis, no more than 3 glasses in one day because binge drinking is not good for anybody in any capacity.

#8 Not Just What, But When you Eat Makes a Difference
  • Eat Small, Healthy Meals Frequently to Lose Weight
One of the biggest contributors to my acid reflux was eating huge meals, especially at dinner time. The best thing for my body now is to eat only small, frequent meals throughout the day.
I almost always have the following every day: whole grain oatmeal and fruit every weekday morning or poached eggs on the weekend; some Greek yogurt mid-morning; my aforementioned pre-planned lunch; afternoon snack; and then dinner. I almost always end the day with a cup of herbal tea that helps to aid digestion. It is advisable to eat your final meal two hours before bedtime.

By following this regime, I never allow myself to get too hungry so that I won’t overeat and the smaller meals in my gut keep the acid at bay.

By making these 8 healthy changes to my eating habits, I am happy to report I rarely suffer from my GERD and I have lost the 10 pounds that I have been able to keep off.

So why diet when you can just eat healthy?


7 Any Place, Any Time Exercises that will Literally Kick Your Butt into Shape

As previously posted on Mogul...

With my busy life, I struggle to find time to get to the gym. Between my career, the kids and everything else in-between; working on my fitness always finds itself at the bottom of the list so I had to find a solution.

If I could just carve out at least 15 minutes a day to move my body, it would be 15 more minutes of exercise that would benefit my body and mind, and improve my health.

I identified the mornings as my best time, so I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier than usual to start my day with an exercise routine that can be done any place, any time, and no props necessarily needed. However, I do recommend a watch or clock so you are able to keep track of your intervals and a jump rope if you have it but it’s not necessary.

Photo Credit: weightlossfaqs.co.uk
  • Jump Into Action - 1 minute warm up
To start, one minute of the aerobic exercise jumping jacks will get your cardio vascular system pumping. This exercise is performed by jumping to a position with the legs spread wide and the hands touching overhead, sometimes a clap, and them returning to a position with the feet together and the arms as the sides.

  • Run Into Weight Loss and a Healthy Heart - two 30 second intervals
Next, continue warming up by running in place for 30 seconds which is proven to burn beaucoup calories leading to weight loss, increased muscle tone, and definition. Begin by leaping softly from foot to foot for 30 seconds, focusing on landing on the balls of your feet and kicking your heels toward the ceiling.
After 30 seconds, transition into exaggerated knee lifts which will help to firm your core, add flexibility, and get your heart rate going. Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and then quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees slowly during the first warm up interval but as quickly as you can during the second time around.

  • Blast Fat and Tighten Your Butt with a Low-Body Workout - 1 minute
Squat Jacks are a lower-body workout that will fight fat, create lean legs, and tighten your bum which happens to be the biggest muscle in the body. Stand with feet hip width apart, arms by sides. Lower into a squat, reaching arms outside of knees, palms facing forward. Quickly jump up with arms extended overhead, landing on the balls of the feet. Jump back out to squat position to complete one rep and continue to do this for one minute as fast as possible.
  • Simulate climbing to elevate heart rate and build muscles - 1 minute
The Mountain Climber is a great total body exercise blending cardio with strength fundamentals. It elevates your heart rate while building muscles in your legs, back, shoulders and core. Start by standing with feet hip-width apart. Lean forward and put your hands on the floor shoulder width apart. Walk your feet backward until your body is straight from the top of your head to heels and your hands are directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your upper body still and arms straight as you slowly bend your right leg and bring your knee up toward your right arm as far as you can and then place it back down on the floor. Repeat with your left leg and left arm for one minute.

  • Jumping rope burns big numbers of calories - 1 minute
Jumping Rope is the perfect method for not only burning lots of calories but also improving conditioning and coordination. First, find a good rope* and make sure to jump on a shock absorbent surface such as a wood floor, gym mat, outdoor track or tennis court. Hold both rope handles in both hands and swing in a large circular motions while jumping up when the rope is about to get to your feet. Continue for the entire minute even if you misstep. Even though you may have done this as a child, practice makes perfect to continue in a non-stop pace.

Please note that you don’t necessarily need a jump robe for this exercise as you can simulate jumping rope without the prop.

  •  Push your own body weight along with gravity to condition - 1 minute
The push-up is the perfect calisthenics exercise that uses your own body weight and gravity to tone the chest, triceps and the entire mid-section as a whole. To start, set your palms on the floor just outside the width of your shoulders with your fingers pointed straight ahead. Begin with your arms extended and all your weight on your hands and toes with your feel flexed. Your torso and thighs should create a straight line. Engage your core to maintain this straight-body position as you bend your elbows to lower body to the floor. Once elbows are at 90 degrees, straighten them again to raise your body back up and complete the rep.

Please note that you may need to build up to doing push-ups on your toes, so modify by starting on your knees. Also, make sure to keep your core tight so your hips don’t sag.

  • Best Exercise to toughen up abdominal muscles - 1 minute
The plank exercise strengthens abdominal muscles, but is also works all the core muscles in addition to the back and hips. Start by lying face down on the ground and place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms. Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground. Hold this position focusing on tightening your abs until you can no longer maintain a flat bridge. For beginners, hold for as long as you can and then take a break when necessary for the whole minute.

When you are done with plank, you have completed the first set and should start the whole regime over again. It may take you a few times to build up your stamina so remember to start small and modify if necessary.

After the second set, take one additional minute to lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest to massage out your lower back.

To be fit, I recommend eating a healthy diet of real foods and exercising on a regular basis. Also, if you have any health issues you should speak to your doctor before starting any exercise routine.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Liebster Award

First, I want to thank God, the Academy and my cousin Abree who tagged me for the Liebster Award on her blog er4schen  -- an inspiring blog about exploration, investigation and inquiry.
What pray tell is the the Liebster Award? My sentiments exactly until I read Abree’s post about the cyber award given to bloggers by other bloggers.  My first thought was chain letter but, as I researched it a bit more, I realize that it is more about bloggers empowering other bloggers – primarily newbies – to help endorse and promote their blogs. So, unless you are a famous blogger with a successful brand, who wouldn’t want a little help from their friends in the blogger sphere?

To start, the rules of accepting the Liebster Award are as follows:
Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog
  1. Cut and paste the Liebster Award badge on your blog
  2. Post 11 interesting tidbits about yourself
  3. Answer questions your nominator has presented
  4. Create a list of questions (5-11) for your own nominee
  5. Nominate other bloggers who are fairly new to keep the process going
 So thank you Abree for nominating me as I was touched and super honored by the nod.

Part I – Share 11 interesting facts about yourself:
  1. I met my now husband on the first day I arrived in Los Angeles and we have been together for 22 years and married for 18 years.
  2. I am a vampire lore aficionado and have been one since I was a kid – a long, long time before the “Twilight” series.
  3. I went to school for Journalism and actually worked as a reporter and editor for the first 10 years that I lived in Los Angeles.
  4. I drove cross country – from NJ to NM to CA – in my VW Cabriolet with my cat Heather.
  5. I ran my first and only full marathon – 26.3 miles – in 4 hours and 45 minutes.  (I think Oprah had a better time than me, but at least I finished.)
  6. I eat oatmeal with fruit for breakfast almost every day.
  7. I was a Club MTV dancer.
  8. I started competing in sprint Triathlons when I was 44 years old and never actually swam (for reals) in the open ocean before my first race.
  9. I lived and worked in NYC while in my early 20s.
  10. I am an avid reader and read close to 100 books a year.
  11. I was a Howard Stern intern.
Part II – Answer questions from the blogger who nominated you:

If you could be any animal, what would you be? I would be a hummingbird.  I’ve always had a curiosity of what it would be like to be able to fly.  Also, hummingbirds are known for their vibrant colors and keen intelligence.  Also, who wouldn’t want to spend their whole life drinking nectar from flowers or sugar water from bird feeders?

What’s the one food you can’t live without? (Coffee doesn’t count!) Avocados; I eat one almost every day, mostly with my lunch or dinner, but I have been known to eat green eggs – well eggs with green avocados – for breakfast.

What has been your greatest adventure so far? My move across country from New Jersey to California because living on the West Coast is completely different than the East Coast.  It was almost like moving to a foreign country.  It wasn’t easy in the beginning to find the “right” place to live, a good job (to afford the “right place to live), and meet new friends.  However, I met my husband right away and we have been together for more than two decades and live happily ever after with our 11 year old son. 

Has there been a book, painting, piece of music, or other work of art that has changed your life? When I was a tween, I found Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind” on a book shelf in my Nana’s house.  I spent the whole summer reading the 1,037 page historical tome about the Civil War.  It was the first time I read a book that didn’t sugar coat life and I found myself completely infatuated with the character Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist and spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who uses every means to fight her way out of poverty caused by Civil War.  After reading the book, I watched the movie and, to this day, it is also my favorite film of all time.

When was the last time you were wrong about something? Why just this morning.  I had planned to bake a quiche, but didn’t take the dough out of the freezer early enough and I had an appointment, so I was trying to get it room temperature fast. I ended up putting it on top of the oven but the consistency was not right so I had to start all over again.  But I am happy to report said quiche was finally made and delish!

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Every morning, as soon as I open my eyes, I ask myself what my intentions are for the day.  Sometimes they are grandiose and sometimes it is just about getting through the day.

Where do you do your best thinking? I do my best thinking while running.  I have planned out many packing lists for trips to coming up with ideas for our holiday cards to preparing my mother-in-law’s eulogy all while pounding the pavement.

What’s your favorite mode of transportation? Believe it or not, the car because I enjoy watching landscapes change and observe how others live and thrive. I like the flexibility of being able to stop and experience a restaurant or sight.   Also, I am a big listener of books on CD and podcasts, so travel time always seems to pass quickly.
Part III – Create questions for your nominees:
Would you rather have super strength or super intelligence?

What is your favorite TV show of all time?

Coke or Pepsi?

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would they title it?

What would you do if you had a million dollars??

What is the scariest movie you ever watched?

What historical figure would you most like to have a discussion with?

What was your favorite game as a child?

Part IV – Nominate Other Bloggers:

And the Liebster Award goes to...

folliclesandFashion:  A blog filled with the luv of all things fashion, beauty and overall wellness with the goal of encouraging and empowering women in the network.

Put a Bow on it: A blog by fashion designer Adrienne who posts about her love of designing and creating looks with bows, ruffles and polka dots.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Five Top Looks at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

Previously posted on onmogul.com
This past Sunday, Hollywood A-listers came out to honor the nominees and winners of the 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in Tinsel Town. Despite not being able to ask “who” they were wearing, our favorite celebs did not disappoint us with “what” they were wearing.  Here are a few of my favorite looks:

Charlize Theron:  Lady in Red
Photo credit: Mike Pont/WireImage 
My heart skipped a beat when I saw Charlize Theron on the Red Carpet.  Theron sizzled in a red Haute Couture Dior gown. The plunging neckline and $3.7 million of Harry Winston diamonds only added to her “Mad” fire. 

Cate Blanchett: Always a vision
Photo credit: Getty Images 
Cate Blanchett never disappoints on the big screen or on the red carpet and this year’s Oscars were no exception.  Blanchett’ whimsical Armani dress was sea green and embellished with three-dimensional flowers. The “Carol” star consistently exudes a certain élan.

Naomi Watts: Giving Oscar some competition
Photo credit: Mike Pont/WireImage 
Naomi Watts literally sparkled like a gem from head to toe in her Armani Privè gown which was made of hand-beaded Swarovski crystals.  With her diamond-covered Bulgari necklace, she truly shone brighter than Oscar.

Alicia Vikander: Belle of the ball
Photo credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage 
Alicia Vikander made us believe in fairy tales on Sunday.  With her canary yellow Louis Vuitton gown – adorned with silver embellishment – she truly resembled royalty.  The asymmetrical bubble skirt added a modern twist to the traditional ball gown a popular look Vuitton’s SS16 collection.  A tiara was the only accessory Vikander was missing.

Eddie Redmayne: Always shows range
 Photo credit: Getty Images 
Not unlike his “Danish Girl” co-star, Eddie Redmayne also realized that dreams do come true.  Wearing Alexander McQueen velour jacket and wool trousers, the British actor was a little over-dressed for the balmy LA weather but his cool demeanor and classic good looks made him one of the best dressed gents on the red carpet.