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Should you drink when you are trying to shed pounds?

That’s a million dollar question and we all know the correct answer; however, we still want to find somebody who will tell us what we would like to hear. Sorry hun, no, you shouldn’t drink when you try to lose weight. Alcohol is a non-nutrient which means that it provides calories/energy while possessing little to 0 nutritional value. So let’s paraphrase the original question: if I am trying to lose weight by reducing my calorie intake, should I consume extra calories that provide nothing nutritious to my body? Yea, that’s what I thought. What a bummer, eh? So now that we have that burning issue out of the way, let’s be honest here – in the end, you will either become a non-drinker or you will try to make better choices when it comes to drinking (so called lesser of 2 evils). If you do choose to have an alcoholic drink here and there, stay away from:
• Beer (especially stouts and porters)
• Gin and tonic (unless it’s a diet tonic)
• Margaritas
• Wine coolers
• Any liquor mixed with sugary soda or juice
So what are your options? Dry wine, light beer (Beck’s light has only 64 calories), vodka + diet coke/coke zero, sugar-free margarita will do too. And please remember that women are advised not to consume more than 1 alcoholic drink a day (a single shot).
I know what some would say – sugar free stuff is full of aspartame and other unhealthy junk but come on, you’re going to indulge in an alcoholic drink, should we really get into an argument about health here 😉
When I began changing my eating habits, I cut out alcohol completely. I noticed that I run faster when I don’t drink, I sleep better and have more energy in general when my poor liver is not working overtime to break down the toxins. I think it is beneficial to stay away from empty calories from food/beverages, especially if weight loss is your goal.
Another tricky aspect of alcohol – late night munchies. You know, when you get that buzz and pizza or Jimmy Johns sound sooooo good. Unless you plan on dancing all night and sweating your bottom off, you should probably pass on after-drinking snacks. Your body will not get to digesting the food until it is totally done with alcohol.
Whether you choose to drink or not, it is a personal choice. Some prefer a glass of wine over a slice of cheesecake. Moderation is the key, so indulge responsibly 😉
Cheers!

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There are foods that are off limits

So you made up your mind – starting on Monday you will be working on a new slim, healthy, beautiful you. You make a list of exercises you want to try out, tell your friends that, from now on, happy hour will be celebrated with celery sticks and announce to your mom that you no longer will be liking that chocolate cake of hers because she’s trying kill you with all that Crisco icing (hello trans-fats). You can just picture yourself skinnier and more toned feeling amazingly well but then you start thinking… but what about margaritas, late night pizza, Ben and Jerry’s and bagels? You don’t have a problem with working out although it sucks, but giving up some foods like FOREVER?
“Eh”, you think, “it won’t be that bad”- “I will treat myself on Friday or work off half-priced martinis the next morning…”
And that’s how it begins – a plan that’s bound to fail.
So the question is: are some foods off limits? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. Before you shout out “hell no” and start pouting, let’s talk about off-limits foods. They are not labeled with “I’ll make you fat” because chances are they won’t if you eat them in moderation. So why not eat them? Simply because they are terrible for your overall well-being. I know treat yourself is one of the most awesome rules invented but there is no reason why you should treat yourself with: Twinkies, little Debbie’s cookies, mini donuts, a bag potato chips, a bowl of apple jacks or Wendy’s frosty. Yes, you shouldn’t feel deprived only because you want to be slimmer and healthier that’s why you should educate yourself why those highly processed foods are terrible for you so you no longer crave them. I know, it’s easier said than done. I can tell you all about what I’ve read on processed foods and food science that goes into inventing all of those lab-made products that have really nothing to do with nutrition. However, in order to truly comprehend why you shouldn’t miss them, you need to learn it yourself. Think about processed food as your horrible ex-boyfriend. Yes, you miss him at first, although your friends keep telling you what an a-hole he was. But the more you think about it, the more you realize that you no longer need him to be happy. Replace the toxic relationship with processed foods with the brand new fresh one, like fruits and vegetables. It will make you more energetic, healthier and slimmer – the goal that you decided to start going for this coming Monday. Don’t let the good memories of a bad relationship cloud the whole picture. You will love your new habits.

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Life Update

Wow, I didn’t even realize how long it has been since I last posted on TSL. The end of summer was crazy busy and began with moving to a new apartment. With my man still in NYC till mid-August, I was stuck with the great pleasure of packing, moving, unpacking and organizing. I haven’t moved in 5 years and even then I don’t recollect to have been such a hassle (I guess one can accumulate way too much stuff in a half of a decade of adult living). After spending countless hours at TJ Maxx bargain shopping and leaving way too much money at Ikea, I can finally said that we are all settled  I love our new place and it feels like home for the first time.
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How did my slim lifestyle survive during this hectic time? It’s hanging there. I had very little time to go to the gym lately (honestly, very little willingness for the most part) and pizza sneaked into my diet maybe a little too often but I still stayed conscious of my food intake and activity level.
Last Saturday morning my man and I went to a local fresh market to pick up some real tomatoes. You know, the kind that actually has a smell and a taste of a tomato. They are absolutely delicious and most definitely worth an 8a.m. trip. After breakfast and a must-have morning espresso, we felt adventurous and decided to make a trip to the ZOO. It didn’t feel like much, but 3 hours of walking in 90-degree weather was a great exercise. My legs were definitely sore the next day. We got home exhausted, made some salmon and veggies on the grill and called it a night.
Sunday was supposed to be rather uneventful. My man had a bunch of things to do and I just wanted to relax, organize my closet and read all day. That was the plan until I came up with a brilliant idea to go look at puppies. We talked about getting a dog for quite some time but never really fully committed to actually seriously looking for one. Long story short, a couple of hours later we arrived back home with Barney – a 12-week-old Golden Doodle who now makes sure that mommy stays active ALL THE TIME.

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Barney’s way of recommitting me to the slim lifestyle – making me run around with a pooper scooper as soon as I get home from work. He’s the most precious little brat ever and, although he needs attention 24/7, I wouldn’t trade him in for anything, not even a full-night of sleep.
So that’s a little updated on why I have been MIA lately but I promise I will get pack on posting track.

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oatmeal

I’m all about starting my day with oats. I love them with pretty much anything. My latest choice – old fashion oats with Greek yogurt and peanut butter. I am not a huge fan of Greek yogurt, mostly because I don’t really like yogurt period. I do, however, acknowledge its health benefits and that’s why I try to incorporate it into my diet.
Add one heaping spoon of plain Greek yogurt to cooked oats of your choice and a tablespoon of peanut butter. You can top if off with a drizzle of honey, some berries or sliced almonds for a bit of crunch. Sprinkle some stevia on top and you have a yummy and nutritionally balanced breakfast.

One serving will add up to about 250-300 calories, depending on oats, PB and yogurt you choose (also, make sure to add to the count any additional toppings). I say it’s pretty good for breakfast that will keep you full until lunch. Another bonus – you have ingredients for easy breakfast for $10 for the entire week! And who says you can’t eat healthy on a budget 

*a word on carbs
Oats are higher in carbohydrates but don’t let it scare you. If you combine them with protein, your body breaks them down slower. Also, if you’re a carb-lover like me, it is better to consume them early in the morning so your body can use that energy during the day rather than in a form of dinner rolls right before you go to bed.

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beach

Whether you’re at the pool or on a beach, you want to feel confident and beautiful wearing a swimsuit. It took me a while to feel good among half-naked people bathing in the sun. Here are a couple of food tips to follow to make you feel slim and comfortable during summer time

Avoid Soda
No matter how skinny you are, carbonation will make your tummy stick out. Unless you are going for a Teletubby look, stay away.
Hydration
Drink plenty of water. You don’t want to feel like a raisin the next day. It also helps flush out toxins and excessive sodium from your body.
Avoid Salty Snacks
Potato chips, salted nuts, french fries – these foods are loaded with sodium. Don’t bring them with you if you don’t want to feel and look bloated
Say “no” to beer
Having a drink by the pool or on a beach can be very relaxing but make sure you opt for something that is not loaded with sugar or bubbles (choice is yours)
A word about fruit
A piece of fruit is a great snack especially when you’re craving something sweet. It does, however, contain a lot of fiber that might make your belly a little bigger than you would like it to be in a swimsuit. Choose berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries) and try to stay away from apples, bananas and prunes since they are high in fiber.

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Organized Weekend

It’s finally Saturday – my sleep-in day. Although I usually cannot wait for the weekend to begin, it always surprises me and by the time I have a chance to fully enjoy it, it’s gone. Staying in bed until 11 mindlessly browsing the web or watching TV – not the most productive/relaxing things to do. That’s why I try to make a weekend plan to squeeze the most out of my 2 days off work.

I love  making a list of things that I have to/would like to do after I get off work on Friday. That way I have something to look forward to and it gives me a sense of control over my free time.

That’s another thing- if I don’t plan my time off, I waste it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing absolutely nothing from time to time, but I do feel much better when I am being productive on the weekends.

Schedule a work-out

I’m always tempted to skip exercising on the weekends. Why? Because I worked so hard for 5 days, so I deserve a day off. Right? Well, not really hun. You worked so hard you deserve a glass of wine not a just-stay-in-my-pjs-the-whole-day kind of reward. Go to the gym in the morning. Do a 15-min sprint followed by some yoga poses or strength training. That way you will feel energized and productive since the very beginning on the weekend. Woke up late and didn’t feel like hitting a gym? Organize your closet! Or go to the mall (just make sure to park a little bit further way from the entrance). Basically, keep on moving. I have had my lazy bum days when I stay at home watching TV and browsing the net until I finally fell asleep out of boredom. Let me tell you – there’s nothing relaxing and soothing about being bored/unproductive. Lazy weekends don’t get you bumped up for the following work week. They just make you feel blah. No one wants to feel blah.

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Go grocery shopping

If you’re a foodie like me that should get you super excited. Is it lame to look forward to grocery shopping? Oh well, who cares. Bring a list with things you need to buy so, even if you end up buying more than you wanted (Hello Arctic Zero), you will still get everything you planed on getting. Grab your coffee and head to your local store.

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Treat yourself to your favorite “lazy” activity

It can be whatever you love doing that is not considered productive. Give yourself 2 hours out of your Saturday or Sunday and enjoy being just lazy. But give yourself a time frame. Otherwise, you will stay in an unproductive mood for the rest of the weekend.

Happy Saturday!

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I don’t know about you but I love grocery shopping. I am always on a hunt for new healthy finds that I can incorporate into my daily eating routine. I can spend hours, yes hours, strolling through aisles, reading ingredient labels and comparing prices. I used to be convinced that healthy eating is almost impossible on a tight budget. Oh boy, I was wrong. Although a pack of Ramen noodles is more dense in terms of calories, an apple can provide the nutrients that your body needs and also keeps you full longer than a bowl of salty highly-processed food. Both are  equally cheap.

During my last grocery shopping trip I was looking for a new peanut butter to try with my morning oats. I went through a PB2 phase that didn’t last too long. I found it too expensive to use daily and it also lacked that creamy texture that I look for in PB. I reserved a powdered form for smoothies and baking.

I also tried almond butter which was amazingly delicious but a little too high in calories for my liking.

I finally found my favorite PB of all times: Dark Chocolate PB  from Peanut Butter & Co.

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This stuff is absolutely great! It reminds me a lot of Nutella but unlike the creamy hazelnut spread, this has a strong and filling properties of a nut butter.

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It’s only 170 calories per 2 Tbsp. I use 1 Tbsp in the morning which I find is enough to add that chocolate peanut peanut butter taste to my breakfast.

Granted, it is not as good for you as no-salt, no-sugar PB versions but I absolutely adore it.

One downside of my lovely find is the price. It is around 4 dollars so it is on a more pricey side; however, if you are a Nutella addict who is looking for rich-chocolate flavor in a nut butter, this PB would be perfect for you.

Another find comes from the granola bar aisle. I am not a huge fan of granola bars. I jumped on a protein bar bandwagon in the past but quickly found out that a 200 calorie tiny bar never satisfied my hunger. They were basically Snickers candies in trendy looking wrappers. Since I was waiting on my car to have its oil changed, I decided to revisit healthy snacks and here’s what I found:

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They are awesome! Although, at first, I wasn’t too keen on the slightly chalky texture, it grew on me and now Good in Natural are my favorite to-go snacks. I found them on sale for 69 cents so I stocked up on these goodies. There are between 220-230 calories each. Unlike other snack bars, these kept me full for almost 3 hours which I consider a great success. I am also very happy with their ingredients:

Gluten Free Rolled Oats, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Diced Soynuts, Raisins, Almond Butter, Organic Maple Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Dry Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted Almonds, Chicory Root Fiber, Chopped Walnuts, Diced Apples, Milled Flaxseeds, Sesame Seeds, Ground Cinnamon, Natural Flavors, Vegetable Glycerin, Soy Lecithin,Brown Rice Flour, Ground Nutmeg, Peanut Flour.

I don’t feel like I have to learn another language to understand the label. I am satisfied nutrition-wise as well:Untitled-6

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