Monthly Archives: March 2011

Diet Soda May Hurt Your Diet

Somehow, I have a feeling this post will strike an unpleasant chord with many readers, as I know people who take their diet soda very seriously. I am not one who has ever been a soda addict, caffeine addict or sugar addict (at least not in drink form).  Ideally, I would try to stick to water, but I find myself drinking ice tea or low-fat chocolate milk (post-workout) and even the occasional coffee.  I try to stay as far away from soda as I possibly can for countless reasons.  Mainly, I don’t get any satisfaction from drinking the bubbly, sugary drink with artificial colors and flavors.  If anything I feel more sluggish and my stomach is upset from the carbonation.  I end up more thirsty than I was before indulging in the beverage and since my stomach is filled with so much air, eventually I’m back to being hungry too.

The main complaint I have with diet soda is their claim that it makes you think it is somehow “healthy” because the word “diet” comes before it.  The fact is diet soda still has artificial sweeteners which, although haven’t been proven to be harmful, are still best avoided.  Just because the FDA hasn’t stepped in doesn’t mean the product is a good one!  Saccharine was banned in Canada and other countries because lab tests with animals found that it was linked to bladder cancer; the FDA has chosen to remove warning labels due to inconclusive evidence as to the effect it has on humans.  Aspartame is a high profile, artificial sweetener that is highly controversial.  Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener while researching anti-ulcer drugs.  The scientist spilled some on his hands and realized it had a sweet flavor, so now it’s in many diet drinks, water packets and other sugar-free items.  There are many, many names for aspartame and claims have been made that it contributes to anything from cancer to psychiatric problems in humans.  The jury is still out on this one as well, but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk.

Another point to be made is studies have found that people who drink diet soda are not healthier in any way.  Reducing the food energy intake of sugar in soda doesn’t imply that person will have a lower food intake overall or lead to weight loss.  An independent study also found that 48% of the 9,000 people in their test group were at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels.  The diet soda merely increased the person’s desire for sweet foods.

 

Homemade Sparkling Water Spritzer

Overall, I think it is best to avoid soda in general.  If you have to have it every once in a while that’s fine and dandy, but don’t justify your indulgence by telling yourself it is “healthy” and do your best to try and limit your intake as much as possible.

 

Best idea for soda drinkers?  Create your own soda!  Combine sparkling water (not club soda-too much sodium) and your favorite 100% fruit juice.  This is a great way to wean you off of the artificial crap and still get a taste of the bubbly stuff.  Sparkling water is hydrating and the NYTimes reported it can help keep calcium in your bones.

For a drink like this, pour glass half full with 100% juice of your choice and half full of sparkling water.

To make things more fun or fancy, try using frozen berries or fruit instead of ice cubes!!

Fancy Schmancy Fruit Cubes


Giving Technology a Test Run…Literally.

Meet My New Bestfriend

Meet My New Bestfriend

I hate the idea of treadmills and the way they never cease to make me feel like a hamster on a wheel going round and round. That being said, I am not skilled enough in the running department to be able to make mental notes of my pace, distance, etc. The treadmill is like my own personal assistant that says, “Alright Kristen! You have one mile to go! Let’s get a move on!!”

Turns out, the treadmill is no longer my only ally and I can now run off the machine while still getting the same feedback…oh and I’m not talking about the Garmin Forerunner or the Nike+!

I just downloaded the Runtastic app for my blackberry. It didn’t cost me a dime and the program has impressed me! Clearly the idea of “getting what you pay for” does not apply here. The Runtastic app uses GPS to track your distance and manages to also calculate your speed, time, calorie burn, average speed, fastest pace and has the capability to track your heart rate. Yeah. It’s that good.

I gave it a go this afternoon. I started the app and plopped my bberry in my pocket and off I went gracefully running into the sunset…

By the end of my two mile jaunt, the app didn’t fail to keep its promises and I noticed I was more apt to run harder knowing I was being held accountable by the little device in my pocket. One thing I failed to notice until recently is the ability to pause the workout so if you need to make a pit stop somewhere you have that option.

The workouts can be saved and logged so you can refer back to them or you can also upload to Facebook or Twitter…handy if you want to brag to all your friends or want feedback.

Overall, I can see this new app becoming my new favorite thing! I’m ecstatic that I am no longer a slave to the treadmill and am free to roam off the beaten path without sacrificing the stats at the end of a good run.

Eat, Pray, Run

Run Like the Wind

Run Like the Wind

I have always hated running.  In high school, I yelled at my gym teacher during the dreaded (and mandatory) one-mile run – the one and only time I got in trouble in school.  I love the idea of being a runner.  I love the freedom running gives you and the sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout.  Still, I could never get over the feeling of not being able to breathe.  I was never comfortable with that initial lack of oxygen that kicked in after I ran a block or two.  Nevertheless, I have been determined to become a runner and hell I’m still stubborn enough to hold myself to that goal.

I recently began running on the treadmill at school (not the same as being outside – but it’s a freakin arctic tundra out there!).  I decided to hold off setting any mileage goals because I was completely unaware of my own capability.  Instead, I told myself I was going to go for at least 20 minutes regardless of the distance or the pace.

I made it about 2 miles in 20 minutes, which isn’t very fast and not a record breaking distance.  What-ev! I still was proud that I got myself to do it anways!  I’ve been averaging about the same time this whole week.  I’m hoping to push myself farther and faster next week.  I don’t feel physically dead by the end of the 2 miles, but mentally I can’t seem to convince myself that I’m able to go father.

Once I go as long as I can with the running, I switch to the recumbant bike and ride that for about 20 minutes at a medium level.

I feel much more comfortable being out of breath than I did in the past.  I attribute this to my P90x exercises and plan on to still keep those videos in my workout rotation.  My legs are much stronger from doing the program before and it seems to have kept them from aching while I run.

My goal?  To run a 5-K by this summer.  I know physically I’m totally capable.  I could probably do it now, although I wouldn’t be nearly fast enough.  So I have plenty of time to train and get myself prepared mentally and physicaly.

Why am I so determined to run?

1. To prove to myself that I can.

Born to Run

Born to Run

2. I saw this book called, Born to Run which is about a man’s quest to find the world’s “superathletes” which leads him to a tribe which runs for miles upon miles in the mountains…barefoot.

3. Runner’s World Magazine – just reading it makes me want to push myself harder.  Hearing other people’s stories lights a fire under my butt.

4. My husband – he has always told me I have the build for running and is always supportive.

5. Food - I like to eat and running is a great way to burn off those extra calories that comes along with a passion for food.

For anyone who is also interested in running, there are some great sites that can help you get started – as well as some amazing tools to keep you on track!

Map My Run – this website is great if you want to plan a run through your community.  Other runners map out their favorite runs that you can use or you can map out your own favorite spots!  Tells you how far you’ll end up going, etc.

Cool Running – fantastic site with lots of helpful tips and plans to get you from your couch to running a 5-K in no time. Tons of helpful info including gear, safety, nutrition, injury prevention and training plans. Even great for experienced runners and marathoners.

Run the Planet – another great website for finding routes, proper shoes, upcoming races and much, much more.

Healthy Dinner Southwestern Goulash

Last night, I was excited to make a meal I knew would be healthy and fast.  It literally took at the most a half hour to prepare and make.  There aren’t very many ingredients required for the recipe, but I did tweak a few things which is of course optional.  We had extra for leftovers and they still were good the next day, so you’ll have something for a healthy lunch too!

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat for added health benefits)
1 lb. lean ground beef (I chose to use ground turkey and my husband didn’t know the difference)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained (I like Rotel with the added chilies)
2/3 cup frozen corn
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
Optional:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
salsa
cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or soup pot, cook beef or turkey with the onion until meat is no longer pink, then drain the liquid remaining.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, chilies, cumin, pepper and salt.  This is where you would add about a half cup of salsa, black beans and the cayenne pepper as well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 3-4 minutes.

Noodles cooking, beef mixture simmering

2. Drain macaroni, add to meat mixture.  Stir in cilantro and heat through.

This was such a breeze to make.  I got the recipe from my Taste of Home cookbook, which I LOVE!  There is a section devoted to healthy, 30 minute meals and the nutrition information is included (see below).  Now, before you serve the dish, taste it to see if there it’s missing something.  You might prefer it on the spicier side or vice versa.  This is very versatile so you couldn’t go wrong adding to it.  I find it to be perfect for busy, hectic evenings and it will definitely remain on my recipe rotation!  Enjoy!

The nutrition facts for this particular recipe (without my optional ingredients) are:

Serving: 1 1/3 cups = 224 calories, 6 grams fat (2 saturated), 24 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 19 grams protein

This may look sketchy, but I promise it's tasty!

Help! I’m a diet slacker!

Argh, I am so bad with blogging.  I feel like I never have time to just sit and pump out a good post!  I haven’t had a whole lot to write about as I haven’t been as strict with my workouts as I was a few weeks ago.  Nick is working and involved in a ton of campus activities and I’m still trying to get into a schedule.  We have been eating out a lot because we’re at school from 2-8:30 on some nights and by the time we get home it’s 9 and I’m definitely not in the mood to cook.  I know I need to start cooking meals or prepping them in the morning so they’re done or ready to go by the time we get home.  I know this is what I need to do and yet I haven’t practiced what I preach and just do it already!

Tomorrow night this will all change.  I’m going grocery shopping and stocking the house with healthy lunch materials that can be taken on the go as well as quick dinner fix-ins.  I am researching our campus gym so I can’t let school get in the way of my working out.  It’s about $50 or so per semester which isn’t bad.  They just tack the cost onto your tuition, so you don’t have to pay up front if you don’t want to.

All in all, I’ll be getting back on track here in no time.

As if one blog wasn’t enough for me to keep up with, I’ve decided to add another blog.  It’s called, My Life as a Disaster.  This will be a humorous personal project where I’ll write about the daily happenings of life in general.  I’ve added the link to the top of this blog, so please check it out and hopefully it will blossom into something fun for you all to read as well!