Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Packing Healthy Lunches

     I think a lot of us have fallen out of the habit of packing lunches when we spend the day away from home and opt for vending machine lunches, fast food, or packing our bag with processed foods that don't really make up an actual lunch and leave you hungry in a few short hours. Especially while trying to lose weight, this can ruin all our hard work! We exercise, we try to have a healthy breakfast, we cut back at the dinner table, but all is lost if we're consuming fatty foods and extra calories at lunchtime. Here are some ideas to help you pack better lunches for yourself and for your kids as they head off to school.

     It doesn't do you any good to learn how to pack a healthy lunch if you're not going to actually do it. The morning of is not the time to be packing a lunch. If we leave it until the morning, we won't do it. We're too busy getting ready for the day or getting multiple children ready for the day and lunches take a back seat. The first thing you have to do is commit and make the habit to make lunches at night. Even children are fully capable of helping to make their lunches the night before and you can make it a little activity you all do together before going to bed. If you've got a nighttime routine, add it in!

     Keeping your lunches cool until lunchtime has always been a challenge. Sending kids off to school with a lunch containing an ice pack is not always a great idea because if your children are anything like I was, that ice pack will get lost or thrown away (whether because I didn't want to carry it around all through my lunch recess or because I forgot to take it out of the sack before throwing it away). Fortunately there are ways to get around having to pack an ice pack. One thing I especially love to do is pack frozen fruit (usually strawberries) that help me keep the rest of my lunch cool but will also thaw out enough to eat by lunchtime. Another great option for edible ice packs are Gogurts. If you've got yogurt eating kids, stick some Gogurt in the freezer the night before and toss it in their lunch in the morning. Again, it will keep lunches cool and they have a nice, creamy yogurt slush for a treat. By keeping lunches cool you have a whole new variety of foods your kids (or you) can take for lunch besides PBJs (though there's nothing wrong with a good ole PBJ now and then).

     If you prefer the ice pack way for yourself there are some great containers out there to help you in your quest to pack a healthy lunch. I own several of these containers and can attest to their greatness! Fit N Fresh has a huge variety of products to help you keep your lunch cool (and some to keep them hot!) and they even have a kids line of products. Be sure to click on the Fit N Fresh link to see what's available. A lot of their products are available for retail at stores like Target and Walmart. I even saw a few lunch containers at Big Lots and various grocery stores. These containers are awesome and come with special ice packs that snap into the lid of the container and can be removed to re-freeze when you're done. The have special salad containers that hold your salad in the main compartment and then a little space in the lid for your salad dressing which you can dispense onto your salad and shake to coat your salad before eating. No joke, these lunch containers are wonderful!

     Now that we've worked out how to keep lunches cool, let's pack them with all kinds of yummy healthy foods! I've got a list of my favorite lunch foods here and keep in mind that while some of these foods do contain fats, they contain healthy fats that your body needs to function properly. Fats found in peanut butter for example are mostly unsaturated (though some are saturated) and you've got a green light to eat it!

ham and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread and loaded with lettuce and tomato
peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole grain bread
tuna fish sandwich prepared with light or fat free mayo on whole grain bread
whole grain pasta salad with light dressing
green salad loaded with veggies (and maybe even chicken) with light dressing
chicken wrap on whole grain tortilla
frozen berries
celery and peanut butter
apple slices
carrots and light ranch dressing
low fat yogurt
frozen (or thawed) grapes
make your own veggie tray with baby carrots, raw broccoli, grape tomatoes, celery, and snap peas
make your own fruit tray with your favorite fruits washed, chopped, and ready to eat
reduced fat string cheese

     The possibilities for a healthy lunch are endless! Take your favorite healthy foods, plan ahead, make your lunch the night before, and enjoy a lunch packed with the nutrients you need to have a healthy and energy filled day. Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite healthy snacks to pack on the go and help others with your great ideas!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Summer Ready Arms

     I admit, there's some leftover jiggle in my arms from winter and with spring here and summer approaching I thought it would be appropriate to post a nice arm toning workout to help us feel more confidant with bare arms. And preparing to have awesome shoulders in our new halter tankini wouldn't be bad either, right?
     The secret to nice toned arms doesn't necessarily include lugging big heavy weights during your workout. In fact, these wonderful arm and shoulder workouts can be done at home with a small weight set or with some household items like soup cans, milk jugs (filled with water), and whatever else you can find that's easy to hold onto and provides a good weight for you. The great thing about toning workouts is that they require high reps with low weight which means yeah, you'll be doing a lot of the same exercise but you'll be able to since you're using weights anywhere from 2-8lbs. (And no one can tease you for using a 5lb dumbbell for bicep curls.)

     I designed this workout in the format of a circuit for a couple of reasons. First, I like circuits because overall they take less time which means you're more likely to stick with it. Second, a circuit is really going to tire your arms which is good because you'll start toning up faster. If you're just beginning to workout your arms again, I would start with a lower weight first. If you find that you're not tiring by the end of the circuit then move up to a heavier weight. You shouldn't need more than about 8 or 10lbs.

     I found a kind of cheesy website that has little videos of out to do the motions if you're not familiar with an exercise in the circuit. Click on the link to take you to the video. The Bicep Curl (outward) is the same movement as a normal bicep curl, only your arms are angled outward. If an exercise asks you to pulse, do the reps first, and then hold your last rep in the middle of the lift and pulse up and down 10 times. Start with doing the circuit once through and as you get stronger you can work your way up to three times through (with 60 seconds of rest in between each circuit of course!). Those of you who are in decent shape can start off with more sets. Combine this with the Rear End Circuits to work your way to a beach-ready body!

The Toned Arm Circuit:

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15 (with 10 pulses)
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Bicep Curl (outward)
15 (with 10 pulses)
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60 sec