All the Holiday Health Tips “Yule” Ever Need!

All the Holiday Health Tips "Yule" Ever NeedGuzzle before Goodies: Drink a big glass of water and, if the meal or party is going to start after a scheduled meal time, eat a protein bar or other small protein-rich snack (around 200 cal) to tide you over. Time after time, I’ve read “eat a meal before heading out” as this will fill you up so that will not be tempted to overindulge on drinks and goodies at a holiday party. Um, unless you have willpower of steel, this doesn’t work – at least not for me. I always end up giving in with the “what the heck, it’s only once a year mindset” and, while it’s okay to splurge every now and then, but having consumed a full dinner (even if deemed “healthy”) just means you’ve gotten a head start on over-eating.

The Gift of Protein: Make sure you are not just using your entire calorie budget on all the wonderful baked treats of the season at the expense of eating enough protein. While pancakes, homemade breads, cookies, pies and more deserve a little attention this time of year, you can’t fuel a healthy lifestyle without adequate protein. Aim to get at 25 to 30 grams at EVERY meal, starting with breakfast, and also a couple 10 gram-ish protein snacks if you’ve been active during the day. Research has shown that consuming adequately timed and spaced protein not only helps with muscle management, but can moderate hunger and help you avoid over-snacking later in the day or evening.

cutting-sheet-pan-maple-beef-sausageBy the way, you have to check out my new Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage recipe — it’s a less mess, less stress way to make a batch of protein for a holiday crowd. It tastes yummy and sure beats slinging bacon or links all morning.

Moderate your Mixology: Drink in moderation or, even better, don’t drink alcoholic beverages, heavy eggnogs or sugary punches at all. Wine, beer and other adult beverages are very high in carbs and calories, partying all night will take its toll in so many ways . . . I won’t preach. If and when I decide to have a drink, I limit myself to one and then turn to sparkling waters with a splash of juice or infused with fruit. I have also turned ONE drink, into two by halving the liquor or wine portion and topping off with a low-cal liquid.

Exercise Anywhere: Regardless whether stuck in a car travelling or in your mother-in-law’s lair, find a way to move about and sneak in a little exercise – even if just in 5 minute increments.  We always pull over every hour on the road (for potty stops) and to bust out some roadside jumping jacks and burpees – I’m not kidding.  When visiting relatives and out of your normal fitness routine, suggest that the group head out for a walk to see holiday lights or start up a friendly game of flag football. There are also lots of home workouts that need little or no equipment when snowed it. Also, check out my 40 Fitness Hacks for the Holidays or my Wrapping Paper Tube Workout  – a graphic below, but also a video (seriously)!

Wrapping Paper Roll Workout - TheFitFork.com

Let Go of the Guilt: Despite the tips, the biggest tip is to enjoy the season and the quality time with family and friends. Many of us striving to live in the healthiest way we know how, often forever deny some of our past pleasures. If you want a slice of chocolate cake, have it! If you want a steaming mug of strawberry honey white hot chocolate, have it! If you’ve missed a few days or even a week of  your normal workouts, fuggetabout it! We all deserve a break and time to recharge – a short time of splurging and relaxing over the holiday season isn’t going to set you significantly back (if at all).

What are your holiday plans?! What are you doing to stay active? What is your favorite splurge (mine is banana bread with absolutely no healthy modifications 😉 Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer  

Eat Clean – Better Food Starts with Simple Ingredients

Eat Real Food - TheFitFork.comLet’s get real. Even as fitness aficionado, it’s not easy, nor realistically possible, to eat clean and healthy 100 percent of the time. But, the mindset that it’s just fine to eat clean 80 percent of the time and the other 20% doesn’t matter at all, rubs me a little the wrong way. Yet, it’s so popular – the “80/20 Principle” is pervasive all over the Internets, Twitter, Instagram, other social media and even t-shirts!

The other 20 percent DOES matter – it’s 1/5 of your daily consumption!  Do you drive your car with reckless abandon 20 percent of the time? Do you only balance your bank account 80 percent of the time?  While, I think it’s fine to treat yourself to more indulgent foods as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise,  it’s still important to make sure those treats are made with better ingredients – whole foods or unprocessed (or very minimally processed) foods, as much as possible.  Dark chocolate is a favorite treat of mine, as is ice cream with whole food ingredients. If you do break and eat freaky foods like Velveeta queso and Diet Mountain Dew (like I did on my recent beach trip), don’t freak and throw out the baby with the bathwater– just get back on track at your next meal. When I’m really being conscience of what I’m eating on a regular basis, even these little wobbles don’t add up to anywhere near 20 percent.

Sunrise yoga handstand fueled by BETTER FOOD!

Sunrise yoga fueled by BETTER FOOD!

Eating better makes you feel better, and when you feel better you have energy to conquer your goals — for me, that’s new yoga poses, obstacle course races, marathon running and more. Better food starts with simple, fresh ingredients free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors and other nasty stuff that requires a chemistry degree to pronounce – that’s why I love to work with organizations like the Texas Beef Council, the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Litehouse Foods.  Recently I found out that Panera Bread is tidying up their already pretty darn clean menu.  I’ve always enjoyed stopping into this casual spot for a quick meal after the gym, with the kids for a healthier lunch, and even to pick up salads to-go for a busy weeknight dinner.

Panera has always been a more mindful solution than grabbing burgers and fries at a drive-through, they are known for seasonal ingredients, whole grains and well-balanced plates (would you like an apple with your sandwich?!).  Also, I’ve always appreciated the transparency about each menu item’s calorie count and nutritional information. Well, the good just got better and most menu items including salads and dressing are made without artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. The company created a No-No List including chemicals, additives, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial trans fats, etc. (more than 150 ingredients in total) and is currently in the process of removing all of these from their offerings by the end of 2016. I’ve put all the no-no ingredients in a graphic for you to print out or pin.

If it doesn't sound like food, then it's not food. Eat clean.Yesterday, I enjoyed a Strawberry Poppy Seed and Chicken Salad for lunch – it was really too pretty to eat, but I did! It was topped with chicken raised without antibiotics, romaine, fresh strawberries, blueberries and pineapple, mandarin oranges and pecans with fat-free poppy seed dressing with no preservatives or funky stuff.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken SaladThe entire full-sized salad has just 350 calories and yet 29 grams protein – now that’s a lean and mean deal! They have lots of other equally delicious and nutritious options like the new Power Kale and Chicken Caesar topped with handmade Parmesan crisps.

Power Kale and Chicken Salad

What do you think about the “80/20 Rule” ? Have you ever been to Panera?  What is your favorite menu item to order?

7 Protein-Packed Breakfast Recipes + #ProteinChallenge

Have you noticed that for the last couple years PROTEIN has been the big buzzword in food and nutrition?!  Typically, I’m not one to blindly follow trends, especially when it comes to how I’m fueling my body. However, I KNOW from experience that getting enough protein is important to my health and well-being – and also performance and recovery as an athlete.

Jennifer Fisher - Beef Sirloin Steaks

This is about 100 three-ounce servings of beef!

So you may be wondering how much protein is enough and when should I eat it? Well, how much protein you take in depends on your size, age, gender and activity level. Because of my fairly intense fitness routine, I aim to eat about 100 grams of protein per day – that sounds like a lot, but really you’d be surprised at how quickly it all adds up. For example, a 3-oz (deck of cards size) serving of beef has about 25 grams of protein and 8-ounces of Greek yogurt has nearly that much protein too, topped with a sprinkling of chopped almonds or hemp hearts.

I bet many of y’all are already getting enough protein, most Americans do.  However, the timing of protein is one area where many of us fail – it’s best to spread out your protein over the day rather than skimping through breakfast and lunch and over-consuming at dinner.  Experts recommend eating 25-30 grams of protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with one or two protein snacks if you have additional needs.

Consuming the optimal amount of protein at the right time helps with weight loss goals by reducing mindless snacking, building muscles after a workout and protecting muscle mass. I think this infographic sums it up nicely.

To get you off to a great start in the morning, I’ve rounded up a week’s worth of protein-rich recipes for breakfast  — from omelets to smoothies, there’s sure to be something that pleases everyone. Seven Protein Packed Breakfast Recipes

 

Recipes starting top left and moving clockwise.

protein challenge2

 

 

 

I would love for you to join me in the 30 Day Protein Challenge, sponsored by The Beef Checkoff -(visit BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com and TXBeef.org). This informative, supportive, step-by-step 30-day plan will help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal. You’ll learn how take control of your appetite by working your way up to eating 30 grams of protein at every meal for one month. They have lots of great recipe ideas and tools for success!

What are your favorite ways to start off the morning with protein?

Hydration For Healthy, Happy Athletes – 50 Shades of Pee

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and DripDrop®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DrinkDripDrop #DripDropHydrates http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Hydrating with Drip DropKeeping my family hydrated sometimes seems like a full-time job, especially in the unrelenting summers of Central Texas when the heat and humidity never let up.  It’s easier to tell that I need to top off my tank when it’s 95 degrees, I’m drenched in sweat and my socks have become sponges.  My running friend and I regularly weigh ourselves before we head out on a run (holding the bottle of water we plan to drink) and then again once we return (holding the empty bottle). The difference between the two weight checks is how much additional fluid was lost and serves as a gauge for how much to drink afterward.

Stopping to refuel with Drip Drop Hydration at mile 18 of a marathon.

Stopping to refuel with Drip Drop Hydration at mile 18 of a marathon.

But in the cooler months, staying hydrated is often harder for me.  That sounds counter intuitative, but it’s true. Even though I don’t perspire at as high of a rate, I’m still sweating . . . . and my brain indicators for thirst are turned off because I get cold very easily.  And, if the weather is really cold, sweat can form into vapor before it even has a chance to settle on the skin. One of my worst dehydration experiences was during a marathon in the pouring rain and temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s.  Boy, I learned a lesson there.

Just on normal days, the average person loses about 8 cups of water — and this doesn’t include the extra needed if you are exercising.  If water isn’t replaced, your heart has to work harder and other organ functions deteriorate as well. Symptoms of being dehydrated include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle cramping, nausea and vomiting.  Dry mouth, chills and flushed skin are other clues.

50 Shades of Pee - Urine Hydration Check - TheFitFork.com

One way to check if you are in a state of dehydration is to pinch the skin on the top of your hand and pull it up a bit. If it doesn’t return quickly to its normal flat state, you could be dehydrated. However, I think a quick peek in the pot is a more reliable way to gauge hydration levels – is your urine pale and clear (good) or dark and murky (bad). I put together this “Fifty Shades of Pee” chart to help you decipher whether you are in danger of dehydration. Tape it next to the toilet paper roll – ha!

One product I’ve been using to keep myself hydrated during long runs and races is DripDrop® Hydration Powder. It’s a safe, medical-grade hydration product you can buy at your local CVS on the baby aisle. Available in Lemon Flavor or Berry Flavor, DripDrop® Hydration Powder comes with 8 individually packaged servings per box. It’s really easy to stash a couple in a gym bag (or even folded over in a running shorts key pocket) to mix into a plain bottle of water when the need to refuel arises. You can read more about the product and the science behind it here.

It’s perfect for taking along to kid’s sporting activities, too. The American Pediatric Association advises that children should be replenishing fluids every 20 minutes during sports — 5 to 9 ounces of a sports drink, depending on weight (5 for a child weighing 88 pounds, 9 ounces for a child weighing 132 pounds). This is in addition to drinking water before and after practice, too.

Drip Drop Hydration for Lacrosse Practice

Drip Drop Hydration for Lacrosse Practice

DripDrop® Hydration Powder is an easy and cost-effective way to stay hydrated when the flu or stomach bug hits –  my kids like the way it tastes and the product is safe for children over age 1.  I hope your family escapes illness this winter (we all had the flu at Christmas, ugh) – but if you do get sick, head over to the baby aisle at CVS drug store for some DripDrop® Hydration Powder. And, don’t forget to monitor your 50 shades of pee.

drip drop hydration at CVS

Save $1.00 off with the purchase of any ONE (1) box of DripDrop Hydration Powder with  DIGITAL COUPON available 1/25/15 – 2/21/15. Get your print at home coupon here while supplies last –

http://dripdrop.com/cvscoupon/

BeefFit, BeefFast + Soleus Mini GPS #Giveaway

A couple of beefy happenings going on in my life this week – let me share! First up, a guest blog post I wrote for Beef Loving Texans, go check it out. Basically, I talk about my philosophy of NOT dieting in a restrictive way, but instead focusing on filling my plate with wholesome and real foods. You’ll also find some other good tips on portion control and serving sizes along with a crazy-easy breakfast recipe for a super thin frittata that cooks up on a baking sheet.

Eat Real Food - TheFitFork.com

I have another guest post today on Core Power about how beef is a super food for SUPER ATHLETES! The folks at Core Power totally understand the benefits of beef for an active lifestyle – it was like preaching to the choir. Some days I time to grill up a steak, other days I rely on their high protein shakes for convenient refueling after a workout.  Whether beef or a shake, getting enough protein is crucial to muscle recovery after exercise. Protein helps build back damaged muscle tissue, reduces cortisol levels and, when eaten in tandem with carbohydrates, helps the body to efficiently replenish glycogen stores.

Beef - Superfood for Super Athletes - TheFitFork.com

Soleus Mini GPS - Jennifer Fisher - TheFitFork.comNow, I’m excited to tell you about my new Soleus GPS Mini watch. Now, when I say “mini,” I definitely don’t mean that this watch skimps on functionality, not at all! Instead it has a welcomed petite and streamlined silhouette that is NOTHING like that old dinosaur GPS I had been wearing for years. Soleus Running is totally right when they say “big things come in little packages,” — they are referring to the size of watch, but it also applies to the possible end result of wearing this watch – a PR.  IF you are a runner or triathlete of any ability, you know exactly how BIG of a deal that even a super small 1 or 2 second PR can be and this GPS watch can help you get there.  Big things DO come in little packages!

Anyway, onto the awesomeness of this cute GPS watch. It does everything I need it to. It keeps tables on my speed, distance and pace. It has a 100-lap memory, automatic lap slips, a calorie counter, simple 4-button interface, weighs less than 2 ounces, costs only around $100, comes in a variety of colors and more – check out all the other features here. Plus, awesome Olympic runner mama Kara Groucher wears one AND on the back plate the watch says “Sweat can be sexy,” so ‘nuff said.

Pink Soleus Mini GPS - TheFitFork.com

So, whoohoo . . . I get to give a Soleus Mini GPS Watch away to help one of my readers look great while achieving new levels of badassery.

soleus running logo

 

 

This giveaway is sponsored by Soleus, however all review opinions are my own. Enter through the Rafflecopter app below!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s All About the Plate! Portion Control Tips + #CookingLightDiet

Nothing consumed in December has calories – okay, yes it does – but I still give myself permission to enjoy this peak season for goodies without guilt. Plus, I’m usually in marathon training, so I can usually pull off an extra serving of cheesy casseroles, homemade snack mixes , gooey brownies and pies. But with the New Year knocking on my door, it’s time to examine my excesses and make adjustments as necessary.

jen pizza

If you’ve read my blog on a regular basis, you know I strive to follow a clean-eating, lower-carb routine. But, you’ve probably heard me insist that it’s not human to forever swear off foods like pizza, pasta and chocolate. When I reward myself with just a bit of those indulgences I crave, I’m less likely to feel deprived. And, when I’m not feeling deprived, I won’t wake up in the middle of the night to finish of the leftover pizza!

I don’t count calories, but I do pay attention to portion control and serving size. By the way, there are about 45 M&Ms in a suggested serving of my beloved candy, yet I can be reasonably happy with half that amount! Also, contrary to the amount most people eat at once, a serving of cooked meat (like my favorite tenderloin) is only 3 ounces – and that provides about 25 grams of protein, the optimal amount for a single eating experience.

Portion Control Tips - TheFitFork.com

cooking light portion controlI love the 10 Secrets of Portion Control that Cooking Light.com shares. My biggest rule for portion control is at the top of their list – Dividing the Plate. Before I pile on my dinner, I mentally make a note to fill one-half my plate with leafy greens or vegetables, one-quarter with a lean protein and the other quarter a quality carbohydrate like sweet potato, whole grain bread or piece of fruit. I also make sure I’m not using a serving platter for a plate! I personally use a standard size dinner plate, but if you are trying to lose weight, another tip is to use smaller plate to help to “visually” fill you up. Research also suggests that using a contrasting color plate that doesn’t blend in with the food eating will help you load up with less – particpants in a study served themselves 22% more food when using plates that matched their food. So, chocolate cake served on a brown plate is a no-no, chocolate cake served on a white plate is better — wink, wink!

This photo shows how people serve themselves more (about 22% more) when the color of their food and plate match. Tip: Eat less by using a contrasting plate to make your food stand out.

This photo shows how people serve themselves more (about 22% more) when the color of their food and plate matches. Tip: Eat less by using a contrasting plate to make your food stand out.

While I’ve never been one to jump on any sort of fad diet bandwagon, I am excited to tell you about the Cooking Light Diet. That’s because it’s not a deprivation diet that forces you to eat strange things you normally wouldn’t or purchase special packaged diet meals. Instead, it’s a “diet” that offers a balanced menu plan that focus so much on flavor that you won’t even notice that the calories in many recipes have been cut by 30 to 50 percent.  Simply take the quick online quiz about your needs and preferences and receive custom-selected recipes for delicious, easy-to-make meals delivered straight to your inbox – everything is tailored to your likes, dislikes and specific calorie intake goals.

Here is one of their delicious dinner recipes for Fresh Tomato, Sausage and Pecorino Pasta:

cooking light diet sample recipe

 

cooking light dietCheck out CookingLightDiet.com for more information, to view a sample menu, and to get started. It’s really affordable ($3/week) and well worth the small price just for the delicious recipes – plus, you also get additional portion-control advice, practical fitness tips and cooking tricks and tips to save you time in the kitchen. Use discount code DIETSAVE20 for an additional savings.

This post is sponsored by Cooking Light; however I was not told what to say or how to say it. All opinions are my own.

So, do you have any portion control tips? Please share!

Southwestern Shrimp & Guacamole Starters + Avocados & Athletes

Southwestern Shrimp & Avocado Starters - TheFitFork.com

Avocado Superfood

Head over to Core Power to check out my post on Guacasuperfood! Five Reasons Avocados are a Super-Fuel for Athletes.  Of course, I adore guacamole, but this nutrient-dense fruit also makes a rich and creamy addition to smoothies or spread on sammies – it’s also a heart-healthy swap for some of the fats used in baking!   Avocados are also a good source of fiber and protein and pack an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – find out exactly how they can help you as a runner, triathlete, CrossFitter, mountain climber, yogi, gymnast or other active person at CorePower.com.

Meanwhile, dig into my recipe for these super easy, super yummy Southwestern Shrimp & Avocado Starters –they are “starters” because once you start eating, you won’t be able to stop. That’s okay – they’re good for you!  These amazing appetizers will be the hit of your holiday party spread — you could also present them in disposable condiment cups if you don’t have enough tiny bowls or would prefer to avoid clean-up.

Southwestern Shrimp & Avocado Starters - TheFitFork.com

Southwestern Shrimp & Avocado Starters Recipe

  •  1 large avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1/3 cup mixture of roasted corn with red peppers*
  • 18 roasted or grilled shrimp*
  • 18 unbroken tortilla chips
  • Garnish: cilantro sprigs

In small bowl, mash together avocado, lime juice and garlic salt. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon of this guacamole mash into 1 ounce condiment cups. Sprinkle a bit of the corn mixture to top of avocado and then top with one shrimp, tail side up. Set a single tortilla chip behind this for scooping out the remaining guacamole once the shrimp is eaten. Repeat steps for remaining appetizers. Makes 18 appetizers.

*I used thawed Green Giant Honey Roasted Corn in the steamer bag and grilled shrimp from the take-away food section of the market for convenience.  

If you’re looking for other small bites for your soiree, these Holiday Appetizers from Cooking Light make a statement and are sure to keep the conversation going!

Holiday Appetizers from Cooking Light

Snack Nation Box - TheFitFork.comI also want to let you know about a great service that delivers healthy snacks to your home or office – Snack Nation.  My box couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time, as I was about to gnaw my arm off in hunger desperation. I tore into the box and it was brimming with sensible snacks including long-time loves (Quest Bars, Krave Jerky and Pirate Booty) and some new favorites (Bare Fruit and Rip Van Waffles).  Perhaps what I appreciated more than the snacks, was the fact that this company gives back to end world hunger through their HUMAN donation program – each delivery is matched by a one month’s supply of nutrient packs delivered globally to people facing malnutrition.  If you’re looking for a unique holiday gift (and one that’s also healthy, tasteful and socially conscious), you really need to check out this fantastic home snack delivery service – plans start out at just under $30 a month and you can sign up for a free trial.

So, tell me, how many AVOCADOS do you eat per week?

What is your favorite healthy packaged snack food?

Herbalicious | More Herbs, Less Salt Day

Herb-a·li·cious  [erb-a-lish-uhs]

Adjective: Highly pleasing to the senses, especially to taste or smell created by herbs: the herbalicious flavor of basil on ripe tomatoes; an herbalicious aroma of mint wafted through the room.

fresh herbs 1

Can you believe the word herbalicious is actually in the dictionary? Okay, we’ll maybe it’s not in the tomes of traditional vernacular; but it does deserve a legit spot in my vocabulary because anything about an herb is the word. It’s the word that you heard – it’s got flavor, it’s got groove,  it’s got meaning.  Yes, I know I’m being silly dilly here, but before you accuse me of sniffing too much sage or overdosing on oregano, I have something else to announce – today is an important holiday called More Herbs, Less Salt Day.” I’m serious.

You heard it here! I’m also blogging about why you should embrace herbs and give salt the shake off in more detail at Living Litehouse. Herbs can flavor up your recipes while reducing the need for less-than-healthful ingredients relied on for flavor – like excessive salt, butter and cheese. I use herbs every day in every way in my kitchen; check out my herbalicious recipe for Asian Flair Flat Iron Steak or for Mojo Sauce, a tasty choice for marinating, dressings and dipping. Why not spruce up plain bread and baked goods with herbs? I love to put an Italian blend of herbs on buttermilk biscuits – yum!

P1010439

Fresh herbs are fabulous when you have the time and talent to grow them or don’t mind the expense of buying them down at the fancy-schmancy grocery store.  Traditional dried and ground herbs tend to be boring, bland and one-dimensional; it’s no surprise they get pushed to the back of the pantry for years. But, Litehouse Foods has a genius product line of freeze dried herbs that can be stored for anytime use, yet rehydrate at warp speed in recipes. These Instantly Fresh Herbs are available in 15 different varieties including tried-and-true staples, such as parsley and basil, and also other unique flavor offerings such as lemongrass, cilantro and jalapenos.

jennifer fisher litehouse herb pyramid

Check out my post at Living Litehouse to find out more herbalicious details about how to use less salt and more herbs.