3 Tips for Getting Back on (the Healthy) Track

 Have the gray, cold, dreary days taken your healthy New Year intentions captive? Don’t worry; all is not lost!  Usually, when we make a commitment to turn over a new leaf, the first few days – or weeks – can seem effortless.  We are caught up in the excitement and have fun changing up the foods we eat and adding new variety our fitness routine. 

 But then IT happens. 

Something catches us off guard:  a fight with a loved one, an extraordinarily busy work schedule, or a cold that just won’t seem to go away.  Whatever it is, once your new routine is disrupted, it is common to seek solace in your past habits.  We begin to crave the foods that comfort us and zoning out in front of the TV becomes much more appealing than working up a sweat.  You tell yourself you’ll just take a day off, but days quickly turn into months, and you find yourself making the same resolutions every year! 

 Does this sound familiar?

 The truth is, life has a way of always getting in the way.  Try as you might, everyone get sick, stressed out, and has disagreements.  The key lies in being prepared for the bumps in the road.

1. Make a list of activities that comfort you – and don’t involve food: Some of my all time favorites: catching a yoga class, taking a warm bath, and meeting a friend for tea.  These all help me to reconnect to myself, my intentions, and put things into perspective.  

2. Schedule in healthy activities into your calendar:  It’s easy to get lost in our busy schedules.  Don’t just wait to see how the week unfolds to figure out when you will get in activity or stock up at the grocery store.  At the beginning of the week, plan when you will exercise, grocery shop, and if you want extra bonus points – plan your meals for the week.  This will help keep you organized and prevent last minute take out. 

3.  Get Support!  Whether you turn to a good friend, fitness trainer, or health coach, it is important to make your goals heard and establish accountability.  This helps to keep you focused on your goals, and is an excellent resource to turn to if you fall off track.  It is important to stay in touch or have occasional sessions even when everything is going.  This will help to increase momentum, build trust, prevent relapses, and most importantly – get you back on track if you happen to slip. 

Amanda Skrip provides culinary and wellness services to inspire healthy living.  She specializes in food-based cleanses, weight-loss, and eating for energy.  In addition to working with private clients, she teaches natural foods cooking classes around the city.  Visit her website to and be sure to check out the blog, event schedule, and sign-up for the newsletter – www.amandaskrip.com

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Make Your Own Mix and Match Energy Bars

Get instant pep from these easy healthier homemade bars–for only $.19 per serving.

Make your own wholesome, on-the-go snack! Start with this recipe and mix and match to suit your taste using a combination of healthy ingredients in the chart below.

 Work Time: 10 Minutes / Total Time: 55 Minutes + Cooling Time / Servings: 18

 2 c cereal, coarsely chopped
3/4 c roasted unsalted nuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 c dried fruit, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1/2 c second nut or fruit or an extra (see chart below for quantities), optional
1/3 c sugar, honey, or brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 lg egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract, optional

 1. Heat oven to 300°F. Line 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil. Oil and flour the foil. (An 8″ x 8″ pan can be used. Just bake 5 to 10 additional minutes.)

 2. Mix cereal, nuts, fruit, flour, and an extra, if using, in large bowl.

 3. Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Whisk in egg whites and extract, if using. Pour mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.

 4. Pat into the prepared pan with moist hands or plastic wrap.

 5. Bake until bars are dry to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on ingredients used. Cool completely.

 Need a little inspiration? Try these tempting combos for a healthy treat.

 Strawberry Fields: Granola, cashews, strawberries, poppy seeds

 Mango Tango: Wheat flakes, pistachios, mangoes, wheat germ

 Perfect Pear: Puffed rice, pistachios, pears, chocolate chips

 Big on Fig: Rice flakes, hazelnuts, figs, apricots

 Peachy Keen: Wheat flakes, almonds, peaches, raisins

 Classic: Granola, peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips

Prevention Magazine, December 2010

Own Your Happy

 When I started the Healthy in Chicago blog, I told myself I wasn’t going to be a person who talks about how many calories I burned each day, took pictures of what I ate, or talked a lot about my personal life.  Not saying there is anything wrong with those blogs, but as we all know, there are many out there.  With that being said, I knew for the past few months that I would have to break that rule with this post and talk more about myself than before.

 Over the past 6 months or so, everything that I knew has changed; I left my job, started a business, started other work in a new place, made new friends, got a puppy, ended a relationship; and lost a best friend and roommate, and sadly witnessed someone losing their life.  This isn’t a post about how much things suck, or anything of that sort.   It is more a reflection of my life lessons from this year and how I am working to own my happy to ultimately move closer to the life I want.

Don’t apologize for who you are and what you want.

I know I am no longer cut out for corporate America.  I’m not sure I ever was, but after leaving, I know for sure I am happier and healthier being in another environment.  I won’t apologize for measuring success by happiness vs. zeros on my pay check.  I won’t apologize for a full passport but an empty (low) bank account.  I am who I am and instead of trying to be someone else for my parents, friends, significant other, society, I will just be me!

Don’t lose yourself, ever.

Don’t forget your goals, and your dreams.  People will come in and out of our lives that may cause us to alter our course, but if something is important to you…make it happen, no matter what.  Don’t compromise too much that you lose touch of what you want and who you are.

My Puppy Love

 Be open to possibilities.

Yes, so much change has occurred in the past months, however many of it was good!  I am continuing to work toward possibilities.  What does that mean?  See every situation, occurrence and moment as a positive opportunity instead of automatically going into your head with all the reasons why not.  I have said yes to new social events which have been some of the best nights out, side work and even a new teaching opportunity because I didn’t over think, I just acted if it felt right.

New friends

 Things happen for a reason.

A cliché saying, but is so true.  I have learned more about myself in the last few months than ever in life.  The road I was going on did a major detour, but even now, I am able to look back and say…thank goodness!  So when your life is crappy, just remember you are being tested for a reason.

Family Support

 Own your happy.

I read this phrase in the past and loved it, but now it is a life motto.  What does it mean to me?  That I have control over my own happiness by making things happen!  I had been fortunate in the past to have many things given to me; an internship that turned into a job offer, promotions from there.  Why look elsewhere when things just keep moving forward?  Because I wasn’t happy!  So what can we all do?  Take the bull by the horns and create a life you love.

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult

 Move forward.

Every day is a new day.  Being stressed, angry, sad, or anxious, doesn’t get you anywhere tomorrow.  Think about it, how can you move forward if you are holding on to your past? 

 2011 is a year of new beginnings for me and Healthy in Chicago!  I put the site on pause when it became easy to not keep up which was a disservice for you my readers. I appreciate all of you who stuck with the site and came back to check it out.   But good things are ahead, get ready!  Healthy in Chicago is going to be bigger and better!  And as I move forward owning the happiness in my life, I will share (every once in a while) in hopes it may inspire maybe one of you, to do the same in yours if you aren’t already there.

 Happy New Year Chicago!

Revamp Your Resolutions

 Revamp Your Resolutions

By Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN

Doesn’t it feel like less and less of us are making New Year’s resolutions these days? It could be because at times they’re nothing more than obligatory and far-fetched vows like these: “I won’t eat late at night anymore!” Or, “I’ll exercise every morning at 6am, no matter what.” They sound like empty promises, right? Even if your intentions are positive, if you have no plan as to how to achieve your resolutions, they’re likely to flop. Think about what’s really important to you and design a plan to go and get it. Here are some suggestions for realistic and achievable resolutions, along with ways to succeed:

 

  1. I will not stuff myself at every meal.

Plan: I will eat every 3-4 hours so I don’t get over hungry. I’ll carry around healthy snacks and remind myself that I’m keeping my energy and metabolism steady throughout the day.

  1. I will eat breakfast every morning.
    Plan: I’ll create 3 different simple morning meals so that I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat.
  2. I won’t raid the kitchen at bedtime. Plan: I will try other tactics to escape my cravings like brushing my teeth, taking a bath, or enjoying a cup of hot tea.
  3.  I will exercise 3-4 days per week, every week.  Plan: I will carry my exercise clothes with me in the car at all times. In addition, I’ll plan to do something different like a pilates or yoga class once a week.
  4. I will eat more fruit (this is my resolution!).
    Plan: I’ll keep fresh and frozen fruit in the house at all times. I’ll research what fruits are in season during the year and try one new fruit each month. (I even have an app on my phone that tells me what’s in season every month and how to enjoy it!)

 Once you’re following a plan, find ways to reward yourself for your hard work (not with food!). Buy a new exercise shirt or get a massage. In addition, forgive yourself for any mishaps. Resolutions are just goals to help you live a healthier and happier life. Focus on the positive, and the rest will fall into place. Happy New Year!

Sandy Sfikas is a registered dietitian, who in addition to seeing clients, is the editor of a international diabetes magazine. She has both a nutrition and journalism degree, and has worked in clinical settings as well as health clubs. She feels fortunate to have a career and clients that motivate her to continue to advance her knowledge of nutrition and wellness.

How to Curb Late Night Eating

Every person most likely has dealt with late night hunger pangs. Whether it be in front of the tv late or when returning home from a long night out, hunger seems to strike in the early morning hours with full force. This can be annoying  as it is not only during these hours that we seem to lose all self-control and indulge in anything within reaching distance, but also because this food typically doesn’t have time to digest and therefore can pack on the pounds very fast. Here are Healthy in Chicago’s tips for avoiding late-night pig out sessions.

  1. Load up on protein at dinner. Protein keeps you full longer, so will help to starve off those cravings. Protein will satisfy the appetite, so those that are of age and will be drinking alcohol at night will be less likely to munch later on at night. Also, contrary to popular belief, loading up on lean meats instead of carbohydrates before a night out drinking alcohol is better for your stomach and digestive system.
  2. Set up a healthy snacks .If you know you will be hungry when you come home from studying or a night out, make a plate beforehand with what you are “allowed” to eat. The portion sizes are what can get lost when snacking late at night; so setting up a proportional snack beforehand can be beneficial.
  3. Drink water. A lot of the time you are getting “hunger pangs” they are actually for water. This would make sense for those indulging in alcohol that is depleting their bodies of water. So, drink a glass of water or a sport drink and then reevaluate to see if your hunger is still there.
  4. Make a sign for your fridge. Better yet, lock it. If possible, buy an easy lock and, if your late night eating is a serious problem, lock it up. This may seem a bit extreme, but sometimes, you just need to be reminded to not late night eat.
  5. Leave the money at home. If there is a “late-night” place you like to stop at after getting drinks with friends or on the way home from a late night at the office, avoid stopping there by simply leaving your money that you would spend there at home.
  6. Don’t feel too guilty. If you do happen to over-indulge late at night, don’t beat yourself up about it. There is a reason your body is craving food, whether it be from the calories burned on the dance floor or the brain power utilized while working. As long as it is not a regular occurrence, your body will not be affected by this one late night eating session.

Is Cold Weather Running Bad for You?

The nip is in the air. Starbucks is serving their pumpkin spice lattes.  What does that mean?  Fall is here and the temperatures are dropping. 

As Chicagoan’s, many of us take our workouts outside during the warm months, not only to enjoy the weather but also to save on cash.   Now that it is getting cooler, most of us are thinking just how cold will we let it go before we move indoors.  Or do we brave it and run outside all year round?

So is their scientific proof that we should run inside when the thermometer dips past a certain temperature?

According to Runner’s World, it is not possible to have your lungs freeze while running outside.  Good news, right?  There have been no studies that show that running in temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius can be fatal to your internal organs.   You can experience painful breathing if you breathe in direct air under -40 Degrees, so it is suggested you filter your breathing through a scarf, or neck warmer.   However, you can cause harm to your extremities when not dressed appropriately for the weather.  Think fingers, ears, toes, frostbite on your face and more. 

Bottom line, if you are willing enough to brave it, running year round isn’t bad for you (unless for medical purposes, or if you have certain medical conditions).  Run away, just make sure you dress warmly for the weather.

Where to Buy Cold Weather Workout Gear in Chicago