When was the last time you had Geese chasing you?!

Happy Monday!

I just finished presenting at the fabulous CanFitPro fitness conference in Vancouver BC. I often hear from clients that they have a hard time keeping up with their fitness routine when they travel. I always explain to them that if you want something bad enough, if your health and fitness is really that important to you, then there are NO EXCUSES! That’s right – no excuses. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, jet-lagged, your hotel doesn’t offer a fitness facility, or you can’t find a gym in the area – you’ve got to make it happen.

For example, today it was raining in Vancouver BC so it would have been easy to talk myself out of going for a run. But I went anyways and here’s what happened. First, I found a beautiful trail along the river that was a breath of fresh air and once I got outside, the rain didn’t bother me at all and it was actually quite incredible. I would have never got to experience this had I not left my hotel. Then I stumbled across the new 2010 Olympic Oval being built and was able to run all around it and check out how awesome it was. That was pretty cool. And then on my way back there was this group of Canadian Geese hanging out by the trail. It felt so nice to connect with nature. And then as I ran by the geese, a few proceeded to chase me and nip at my butt. I think they were mad that I moved to the states! 🙂 So anyways, had I not gone out for my run, I would not have experienced that exciting adventure!

Bottom line, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you need to do something to move your body today. Don’t ask yourself “Should I workout today?” That’s the wrong question because the answer will always be yes. Instead ask yourself “WHAT should I do to move my body today so that I can look and feel my absolute best!”

Have a fabulous week!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you’re starting to look for good stocking stuffers for the holidays, one of my books might inspire one of your loved ones to get off the couch. Click below for more details.


http://www.nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/products/products.php

Happy & Healthy Halloween

Happy (& Healthy) Halloween

Halloween is on Saturday and although it’s so fun to dress up, as fitness professionals it’s not one of our favorite holidays. The last thing our kids need is more sugar, fat and a candy binge! So how can you promote moderation and a healthy diet without coming off as the world’s worst parents?!

Go against the norm: The American Dietetic Association offers the following suggestions for nutritious Halloween goodies. You may not be the favorite Halloween house on your block but at least you can feel good about the fact that you’re not sending your neighbors’ kids into sugar oblivion!
• Mini rice cereal bites
• Packages of trail mix
• Cereal or energy bars
• Small boxes of raisins
• Small packages of dried fruit
• Sugar-free gum
• Mini juice boxes

Does it have to be candy? Many kids would enjoy just as much some cool, new Halloween pencils or pens, spooky stickers, tattoos, or spider rings.

Control Consumption: If you leave it up to the kids, they’ll have half their candy eaten before bed-time on Saturday night! Instead, sit down with their stash, and separate it into small sized snack pouches that limit how much candy they have per day. Not that we’re saying that kids need candy every day but at least it’s a start! Explain to them clearly how much and when candy can be consumed. For example, you may set limits that prevent candy intake before bed or in the morning before school. But you may allow a small snack bag only after they eat their nutritious lunch.

In Oregon and Washington, 24.5 percent of 8th graders are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight and this number is increasing every year. As parents and teachers, we need to limit children’s consumption of candy year-round so now is a good time to discuss the benefits of a healthy diet and the ramifications of an unhealthy one.

Move their bodies: The rise in childhood obesity is partly due to the fact that kids are just not moving their bodies as much as they need to. Computers, video-games, TV and the fact that only 54.8 percent of Oregon eighth graders participate in daily PE is wrecking havoc on our kids’ health. So take this weekend as an opportunity to promote an active lifestyle and get them outside for a hike, a long walk or a bike ride. Their bodies will thank you for it!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Don’t buy Halloween Candy yet!

If you haven’t purchased Halloween Candy yet, don’t do it until Saturday. Because otherwise you know what will happen. You’ll probably end up eating half of it between now and then and will have to go out and buy more!

If you already have purchased, then put it somewhere very inconvenient to access. For example, put it in the garage on the highest shelf or in the attic that you would need to use a ladder to get at. Or store it at your neighbors house – just make sure you tell them they can’t eat any of it either!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #8 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition Habit #8 – Avoid or Limit alcohol in your Diet

I’m probably not going to be very popular after today’s posting…

Although alcohol is low in fat content, it is very high in empty calories. In addition, alcohol activates the enzyme that uptakes fat from our bloodstream and stores it in our fat cells. Therefore any food you consume in combination with alcohol will more likely end up in our fat storage depot areas like our hips, thighs and abs. And finally as we all know, alcohol lowers our inhibitions making us more likely to make poorer choices – including poorer food choices! So practice moderation in this area.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #7 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition Habit #7 – Eliminate any unhealthy temptations from your environment (work, home, car) and replace with healthy alternatives.

This is one of the most important principles for me. If you’re like most people myself included, if it’s there staring you in the face, you’ll eat it. Make it more difficult to access the foods that stumble you and sabotage your efforts. Eliminate the following from your environment:

*Cookies, chocolate bars, pastries, candy and any high-calorie, sweetened snack foods
*Salty foods such as potato chips, pretzels, taco chips, crackers, and other packaged munchies
*White bread, white rolls, white buns
*Ice cream and high-sugar frozen deserts
*High-fat spreads and dips
*Sugared soft drinks and beverages
*Alcoholic beverages
*Any food that can be classified as junk food or that you habitually binge on

Do you need a kitchen make-over?

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #6 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition Habit #6: Commit to Shopping at least once per week and stocking up on healthy choices.

What happens if you get home and you are starved and there is nothing to eat? You are more likely to choose a less-healthy item or dial up a take-out restaurant and order something high in fat and calories. If you want to commit to a healthy diet, you have got to commit to setting up a framework for success. This includes planning a trip to the grocery shop weekly and then potentially one or two smaller trips to the store or Farmer’s Market to top up on fresh fruits and veggies. You can not expect to adhere to a healthy diet without making this very important commitment to yourself.

Shop from a grocery list prepared when you are not hungry or stressed out
Determine exactly what you need for a particular period of time. This is where meal-planning for the week ahead really helps. For example, keep what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch and snacks pretty simple and consistent. Then decide what you’ll eat for dinners each night. For example, you might decide Monday you’ll make a home-made vegetarian pizza. Tuesday, you’ll make salmon, vegetables and rice. Wednesday, you’ll do a vegetable and pasta marinara and salad. Thursday, you’ll do a shrimp and vegetable stir-fry. Friday, you’ll eat out. Saturday, you’ll do chicken or veggie burgers, vegetables and salad. And Sunday, you’ll make healthy burritos. Then buy what you need to make each meal throughout the week. Don’t overbuy – Be careful of bulk buying. And try never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry!

As soon as you get home, plan time to clean, cut and chop fresh produce to ensure it’s ready to be eaten (unless you buy the pre-cut and washed). Cook-a-thons will also make sticking to your nutrition plan a lot easier. Opening the fridge to find a bowl of chili, home-made soup, pasta salad or chopped vegetables will make it more likely that you grab for these healthier items.

Great foods to put in your shopping cart:

Whole Grains:
Oatmeal
Cold cereal – Cherrios, , Bran, Granola
100% whole grain bread or English muffins (or other bread products)
100% whole wheat pitas
100% whole wheat tortillas
100% whole wheat pizza shells
Brown Rice
100% whole wheat pasta

Meats (unless you are a vegetarian then chose vegetarian options!):
Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves and/or frozen cut-up chicken for stir-fries
Skinless salmon filets / 1 whole fish
Skinless turkey breasts
Sliced cooked salmon, turkey or chicken
White porkchops
Ground turkey or lean beef
Frozen chicken or vegetable meat patties

Dairy:

Skim milk or low-fat soy/rice/oatbran milk fortified with vitamin D and calcium
Eggs
1 bag of part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Container of feta-cheese
Low-fat probiotic Yogurt cups

Frozen Foods:
Bags of frozen veggies – green beans, peas, broccoli, corn, stir-fry
Bags of frozen fruit – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Frozen Meals – Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice – When you’re too tired to cook or in a hurry, these are life savers. They are low in salt, calories, fat and Trans-fats plus they’re actually quite yummy!

Canned/Jarred Foods:

Beans
Soups – look for low sodium
Tomato Sauce
Kalamata Olives
Sun-dried tomatos
Soy-nut peanut butter or all-natural peanut butter (no trans fat, no added sugar)

Drinks:
Bottled Water/Flavored Water
100% Orange with pulp/Cranberry/Grapefruit Juice (fortified with calcium, magnesium and Vit. D)
V-8 (low sodium)
Green Tea

Fresh Produce: Fruits/Vegetables
You’ve got complete freedom in this area. Buy what you love. Here’s some must haves…
3-5 bags of salad mix like Romaine, Spinach or Mixed Greens (make it easy to make salads everyday)
Bag of cut-up stir-fry veggies
Pre-cut and washed veggies – carrots, broccoli, sweet peas, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, mushrooms (make it easy to eat your veggies!)
Peppers – red, yellow, orange, green
Tomatos/Cucumbers/Onions
Apples/Pears/Grapes/Bananas/Oranges/Grapefruit/Tangerines – plus whatever is in season

Spices/Extras:
Olive oil
Salt/Pepper/Garlic
Soy sauce – low sodium
Balsamic vinegar
Salad dressing/Salad spritzers – vinaigrettes are a great choice
Marinara sauce
Cinnamon
Other favorite spices
Flaxseed
Psyliium

Snack-Foods:

Rice Cakes
Popcorn
Nuts – raw walnuts/almonds unsalted– don’t buy too much. And once you get them home, put them in mini-ziplock snack bags separated 10 to a bag
Dried fruits – apricots, cranberries, apples…
If you have a real sweet tooth and are looking for healthier options to prevent the 500 plus calorie dessert binges, try the following:
Yogurt and granola
Weight-watcher deserts – they typically keep them at 100 calories per serving
Pudding cups – 60 calories per cup
Gum/Small bag of hard candies – when you feel a craving coming on, chew on some gum or pop a hard candy and suck on it for a while. It will often do the trick.
Frozen yogurt – but just buy the smaller cartons to prevent eating a whole gallon

I hope this helps give you some direction for your next grocery trip.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #5 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition habit #5 – Control your Portion Sizes

This is an important principle – you’ve got to pay attention to your portion sizes. We are victims of a society that is hooked on supersizing everything…supersize drinks, monster size cookies, muffins and bagels and astronomical sized restaurant entrees. For many of us, it may not be that our food choices are poor, we may just be eating too much of a good thing. Out of control portions will lead to weight gain and often cause people to feel lethargic.

Here is a very important message to remember. If at the end of the day, you have expended fewer calories than the number of calories you have consumed from any source, you will store these calories as fat. Here is how it works:

Let’s say you consume an extra 1,000 carbohydrate calories in the form of plain pasta. It takes about 30 percent of the calories consumed to break down the dietary carbohydrate and store it as body fat. So out of the 1,000 extra carbohydrate calories, 700 will be stored as body fat. Now, let’s say you consume an extra 1,000 fat calories in the form of creams. It takes about 3% of the calories consumed to break down this dietary fat and store it as body fat. So, out of the 1,000 extra fat calories, 970 will be stored as body fat.

It is obviously better to be consuming a diet rich in carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products because less of the excess will actually be stored as body fat. But you will still store excess carbohydrates as body fat and you will gain weight, whether your diet is low in fat or not. If your diet contains more calories than you expend in a day, you will gain weight regardless of the source of the calories.

When reducing food intake and portion sizes, the reduction should typically occur in the following order:
*Reduce fat intake
*Reduce alcohol intake
*Reduce sugar intake
*Reduce starches (pasta, breads, rice)

It is also wise to pay close attention to serving sizes listed on labels. Sometimes what is listed as one serving size is unrealistically small. So you may trick yourself into believing that you are consuming an item that is low in caloric and fat content, when in fact, what you are actually consuming is four times the listed serving size.

Here are some realistic portion sizes:

*A serving of meat, fish or poultry should be about the size of the palm of your hand
*Your fruit and vegetable servings should be about the size of a tennis ball
*A serving size of cottage cheese, rice, pasta, cereal or other starch is the size of a tennis ball
*A slice of bread, one small roll, or a half bagel or bun counts as one serving
*A serving of sandwich cheese is one slice
*A serving size of fats, oils, nuts, seed is about the size of your thumb

Techniques for Reducing Portion Sizes:

*Use a smaller plate. Instead of using a traditional dinner plate, use an appetizer/salad size plate instead. This will force you to start with fewer calories right away. We’ve been taught as kids to eat what’s on our plate. So a bigger plate automatically means more calories.

*Divide your plate into 4 parts. A quarter of the plate will be reserved for a starch (whole grain rice, pasta, bread/roll), a quarter of the plate will be reserved for protein and the last half of the plate should be reserved for fruits and/or vegetables.

*20 minutes before you eat your meal, have a cup of soup, a handful of walnuts, a small salad, a cup of juice or 8-16 ounces of water. This will help to suppress your appetite.

*To help control portions, keep a food log and submit it to a professional.

*To help avoid mindless, late-night eating, brush your teeth after dinner. Pop a breath mint or breath strip. Go for a walk. Read a book. Take a bath.

*Buy single serving items or place snacks in small plastic baggies to help control portions.

*Avoid buying in bulk. Studies show that when people buy in bulk, they also eat in bulk. Remember – if it’s there, you’ll eat it!

*Eat slowly. The brain needs 20 minutes to receive the signal that you’re full.

* After food is placed in front of you, wait 5 minutes before you eat. Place small mouthfuls of food on fork/spoon. Completely swallow food before you add more food to fork/spoon. Put down utensils in between bites. Use smaller utensils. Consciously take time to taste, chew and savor food.

*Stretch out meals, making them last 30 minutes. Take a five minute break about 10 minutes into your meal

*Take sips of water or other non-caloric beverages between bites

*Introduce a one or two minute delay between courses

When eating out:
*Order one meal and ask for two plates so you can split the meal.
*Don’t order super-size meals; opt for regular or kiddie portions instead
*Share desserts
*Order water immediately
*Order butter and salad dressing on the side
*Ask for your meat broiled and without any additional fat added
*Ask for your chicken to be prepared without the skin
*Order a salad instead of french fries
*Ask for skim milk
*Order a tomato instead of cream sauce for pasta dishes
*Order plain bread instead of garlic bread
*Take one piece of bread from the basket and then ask for the basket to be taken away. Or ask for a complimentary vegetable platter instead of bread basket.
*Order tomato and broth soups instead of cream-based soups
*Order fresh fruit desserts
*Hold the sauce on burgers and instead use ketchup, mustard, relish, tomato and lettuce
*Do not be afraid to ask for any type of substitution

Become aware of your impulses and urges:

What traps you into overeating? Is it a certain time of day? Is it the people you hang with? Is it paired with some type of activity? Do you get the urge to eat in certain places? Do you turn to food when you’re tired after work?

*Make a list of substitute activities. They must be activities that compete with the action of eating – ie. it’s difficult to eat while doing the activity. For example, a hobby, gardening, play a game with family/friends, learn a new sport, visit your neighbors/friends, write in a journal, give yourself a manicure, read a magazine/book, plan your next vacation, Relaxation/breathing exercises, walk/jog/swim/bike ride/go to gym/exercise video/dance to some upbeat music, shower, bath, get a massage, listen to music, prayer, meditation, housework, pay bills, balance your check book, complete a home improvement project, rearrange your furniture, wash your car, clean out closets/drawers, run errands, floss, take dog for a walk, video games
*Then when your impulse or urge surfaces, immediately start your substitute activity. The urge should pass.

If you recognize that you need to focus on controlling your portion sizes, you may initially feel a bit hungry for a few weeks. But that hunger-sensation won’t last long. Your stomach is capable of shrinking and will learn to be satisfied with the smaller meals. Plus when you’re eating the right type of foods, you’ll have more energy and your appetite will effectively suppressed making your plan much easier to adhere to.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #4 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition Habit #4: Stop Eating Three Hours before Bedtime

If you have planned your meals correctly throughout the day, you shouldn’t need to eat anything right before bed. Often the calories that are consumed after dinner are those that are eaten not because you are hungry and need the energy but because of habitual patterns or boredom. Think of it this way – you are just going to sleep. How much energy do you really need? If you find yourself needing to eat late at night, choose something that is low in calories just to get you by until morning.

So many men and women, myself included, experience incredible results when they implement this action step. Try it and see what happens.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #3 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition Habit #3: Plan your meals so that you consume 5 small meals and snacks throughout the day

See if you recognize yourself in any of the following. You skip breakfast, guzzle coffee all morning and then, practicing great self-control, you eat a tiny lunch. By mid-afternoon, you are starving and so you grab a quick pick-me-up chocolate bar or muffin. By the time you get home, you are hungry, irritable, tired and ready for dinner. You stuff yourself at the dinner table and then snack all evening. You go to bed on a full stomach, and tomorrow the cycle begins all over again.

In today’s busy environment, this type of eating pattern is common and has your body working against you rather than for you. Many people who do not eat breakfast and consume only a very light lunch are tricked into believing that they are reducing their caloric intake when, in fact, they are actually setting themselves up for a snacking binge in the late afternoon, followed by an overload at dinner and into the evening. The result is just the opposite of what you intend: Total calories consumed during the day will end up being higher rather than lower! And the scale gives you the bad news that you are gaining weight.

The theory is this: Our bodies are not very good at burning calories from a big meal, especially in the evening when all our systems tend to slow down. Many of our evening calories, then, are more likely to be stored as fat.

Your metabolism, the rate at which you burn calories for internal functions, is like an engine – the more often you give it fuel, the better it works. When you deprive your body of food, even for short periods of time, your metabolism automatically slows down in order to preserve energy. And a slowed metabolism makes it much more difficult to lose weight and much easier to gain weight. The type of diet that is not consistent in caloric and nutrient intake will also lead to a more rapid loss in muscle tissue – we want to avoid this at all costs. The good news is you can get your body to work for you instead of against you. The rule should be that you do not go any more than three to four hours without eating something.

Think of starting your day by revving your internal engine. This means regardless of whether you are a breakfast person or not, you must develop the habit of having something to eat in the morning. Your momma was right – breakfast is the most important meal of the day but it does not need to be a 5-course meal. A piece of fruit with yogurt, or half a bagel with peanut butter or light cream cheese, or cereal and milk or eggs, toast and juice will do the trick. Then a few hours later, try a small snack like a piece of fruit and a cup of yogurt. By lunchtime, you are not going to have a problem making a healthy, low-fat, low-calorie choice. A half-sandwich and salad or bowl of chili or vegetable soup might be an appropriate lunch. A few hours later, in the afternoon, eat another light snack like a handful of walnuts, and some celery and carrot sticks or crackers and cheese. By the time dinner comes around, you will not be ravenous and you will be less likely to indulge and consume too many calories. This type of eating pattern keeps your metabolism revved all day, keeps your blood sugar at a healthy level, will keep your energy levels up and will help avoid the tendency to over-eat at any meal. You’ll be a lot more enjoyable to be around also.

Most of us have been conditioned to believe that dinner should be the largest meal of the day, so changing your eating patterns is not going to be easy. It will not happen overnight. You will probably have to change other old habits too. If, for example, you snack in the evening while watching TV, you might need to go for a walk in the evening instead. If you find yourself bored in the evening and eating because there is nothing else to do, think about enrolling in an evening course or start reading a good book. Breaking habits is very difficult in the beginning but eventually it will become second nature.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition Principle #2 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

Nutrition Habit #2: Drink More Water

Did you know that 50-70% of our total body weight is water? The brain is composed of 70 percent water, lungs are nearly 90 percent water and our blood is about 83 percent water, which helps digest our food, transport and eliminate waste and toxins, mobilize fat, and control body temperature. Think of it this way, every tissue cell, organ and system is comprised of water and functions optimally only in the presence of adequate water levels. So even fat loss will not occur at an optimal rate if you are in a dehydrated state. Plus water helps to suppress our appetite.

Water is our life force, in fact, we could only go a few days without water before our body would start to deteriorate and die. According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, the average adult loses about two and a half quarts or about 10 cups of water daily through urine and sweat. Just cover your entire arm with a plastic bag and within a few minutes you’ll get a very visual display of how much water we lose in a day. Think of the good old-fashioned sweat suits designed to make you sweat and lose weight. Yeah, you lost weight but it wasn’t fat weight, it was very valuable water weight!

To maintain your body’s fluid balance, you need to replace at least the 10 cups of water (80 ounces) everyday. This amount needs to be increased in hot weather conditions or for those who exercise who may lose up to a liter per hour during a workout. Plus, as we age, there is a general loss of water in all tissues – it’s like the plum to prune effect! Wouldn’t you prefer to be a healthy, hydrated plum rather than a dried up, old prune?!

But, unfortunately most people exist on a daily basis in a dehydrated state. In fact common complaints like headaches, lack of energy, feeling tired and lethargic, being prone to sickness and injury, kidney stones, constipation and achy joints and muscles have been associated with dehydration. If most people would commit to drinking 10 glasses of pure water every day they would notice a great improvement in their overall health, body composition and energy levels.

Keep in mind though, we obtain water in our diets from drinks, either plain water or as part of other beverages and from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables. So we encourage clients to get at least 80 ounces (10-8 ounce or 5-16 ounce glasses) of pure water and see how their body responds. Any other additional fluids you consume in the form of juice, milk, or herbal teas will be a bonus.

In the beginning, your body and its tissues are not used to this higher level of fluid and so they will initially just flush it out. And yes, you will be spending a great deal of time in the restroom but it won’t last long. Eventually, your need to run to the washroom all day should decrease. Your body will soon adapt to your hydrated state. You thirst mechanism will also become more efficient and you’ll find that the more you drink, the more thirsty you become. That’s a great sign!

Most people know they should be drinking more water but they don’t. We’ve found it’s not in the knowing, it’s in the doing! You’ll have to take some action steps to help you adhere to this goal. For example, purchase a water cooler for home and work so you always have cold, refreshing water available. Be sure to drink some water every time you pass the cooler. You can also purchase an 80 ounce water bottle from many grocery and department stores so you can fill up your bottle in the morning and make it a goal to finish the whole thing before you go to bed. This works great for a lot of people. Have your bottle with you wherever you go. If you don’t like the big water jug idea, drink a 16 ounce glass of water first thing in the morning and then 20 minutes before each meal and snack. You’ll easily hit 80 ounces. Many athletes use what’s called a ‘Camel-Back’, a water sac that hooks on like a back pack with a water-hose that allows you to drink easily and continuously throughout workouts. This is a great way to replenish all those extra fluids during tough workouts. During workouts, you should strive to drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Note: During long bouts of intense exercise (2 hours or more), you can drink TOO much water! It’s best to use a sports drink instead of just plain water, as this will help replace sodium and electrolytes lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening!

Take my word for it – water is important to your overall health. I hope this clarifies and provides better insight to the importance of water in your diet and weight loss.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan