Fit Hungry Mama

One mama's journey of finding balance with food, fitness, family, and fun

How to Get Healthy On a Budget

Getting fit while on a tight budget isn’t as hard as it sounds. Here are some money-saving tips that will turn you into a calorie burning machine!

NUTRITION:

You can eat healthy without blowing your budget. All it takes is a little planning, creativity, and common sense.

1. Eat at home! Not only does it save on overall spending, you get to control your portion sizes and the ingredients involved in the meals! Knowing what goes into your meals will make you a more conscious eater.

2. Plan home-cooked meals around sales ads. Most sales ads come out on Sundays, so make time to browse the grocery flyers each week. Focus on the fresh meats, fresh produce, grains, and dairy sections and search for recipes involving those items! If you have a deep freezer or second refrigerator, stock up on meats that you can freeze for later, frozen produce, and dairy items.  For even more grocery savings, combine coupons with sales items.  This is especially good for dry goods like cereals, pastas, dairy, and frozen goods. Just be sure to only clip coupons for nutritious items!

3. Shop the perimeter of the store to get the most health for your money! Lots of good deals can be found here. Most produce is high in fiber, which will keep you fuller longer than the empty  highly processed carbs found in most of the aisles of the store.  The dairy section has lots of healthy low cost choices to choose from – eggs, egg whites, deli cheese (stay away from the cellophane wrapped junk). Greek yogurt, which has twice the protein than regular yogurt,  has become very popular and one of the several brands available is usually on sale each week. The meat section has plenty of sale items to choose from each week. Focus on skinless chicken, turkey breast, ground poultry, lean cuts of pork, and fish.

4. If possible, buy generic. Generic goods are often processed at the same plants as name-brand goods. In other words, most of the time you’re just paying for the product’s fancy label. If you prefer organic or natural products, see if your store has a special brand name for organic/natural products.

5. Drink more water!  An easy way to save money is to add more water to your daily diet. Don’t bother with pre-packaged bottled water. Instead, buy a water filter for the home (like a Brita pitcher or one you can attach to your kitchen sink faucet). It may be expensive at first, but in the long run this investment will save you a lot of money. Another money saving idea is to cut back or cut out sodas. Soda has no nutrient value, which means it is a waste of your money.

EXERCISE:

Don’t think you can get fit without a gym membership or expensive workout dvds? Think again! Some of the best exercise you can get is FREE!!

1. Go outside and get active! Play with your kids, go on walks, runs, hikes, and bike rides. Call up some friends and play some sports together.

2. Take advantage of your neighborhood amenities. If you live in a HOA neighborhood or  an apartment/condo complex, you most likely have access to a free gym, pool, and other resident-only amenities. Make the most of your HOA fees and monthly rent payments!

3. One of the best pieces of exercise equipment is the human body. Do a web search for “equipment free” exercises and you’ll be surprised with how many moves you can do just with your body. All you need is a little floor space!

4. Use typical household items as workout equipment! Stairs are great for leg  exercises, pushups and planks, and cardio work. Tables and chairs make great support for tricep dips, weight lifting, push ups/planks, and leg work. Walls are great for beginner push ups and wall squats. Gallon jugs, canned goods, and water bottles make great weights for strength training. The possibilities are almost endless!

5. Try before you buy (workout dvds). Go to your local library for free fitness dvd rentals. If you have a Netflix (or similar) membership, see if they offer workout videos. Look online for exercise demos.  Or start a dvd borrowing system with your friends!

EXTRAS:

If your finances allow it, here are some inexpensive items worth investing in:

a) food scale – to properly measure out serving sizes/ingredients listed in ounces. This is really helpful when measuring out calorie dense foods like cheese, nuts, chocolate chips, and potato chips as well as dry pasta and meats.

b) water bottle/jug – to encourage you to drink more water

c) adjustable free weights set, several sizes of dumbbells, resistance bands – for at home weight training routines

d) jump rope – great for cardio in small spaces

e) exercise/yoga mat  – for stretching or exercises done on the floor

f) measuring tape – to measure key areas for inches lost

g) body fat analyzer – to track fat loss and muscle growth (I recommend Omron)

h) pedometer – to track your steps

i) heart rate monitor – to make sure you reaching your ideal heart rate during cardio

j) notebooks – one to track inches lost, body fat percent changes, and weight; one for exercise routines, especially if your  goals are to improve cardio endurance and/or muscle strength; one used as a food and emotion diary so you can keep track of what foods make you perform and feel your best and the emotions associated with your journey.

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How to Survive the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holiday season is officially here.  By now, the office and school parties have started. In fact, later this morning, I will be attending my son’s pre-K Thanksgiving feast. I have no idea what will be served, but I am prepared for whatever comes my way!

With that said, here are a few of my favorite tips on how to handle all those big social outings and family gatherings you have to attend each holiday season:

  • Increase your physical activity.  If you plan on indulging, move more to increase your overall calorie burn.  Adding an extra day or two of exercise to your current routine or doing an extra 10-20 minutes of cardio per day will increase your metabolic rate.
  • Eat BEFORE you go.  Make sure to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast.  This will rev up your metabolism and help you stay on track with the rest of your food choices for the day.  If you’re very easily tempted by calorie laden foods (I don’t know anyone who isn’t!), eat a healthy snack/meal such as a vegetable salad topped with a  homemade vinaigrette like olive oil + red wine vinegar + seasonings; a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup;  a cup of fresh fruit; a cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh fruit mixed in; an ounce of raw almonds. The point is not to show up at the event starving! Intense hunger often leads to poor food choices and overeating.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink a lot of water on the day and/or the night before the big event.  Many people overeat because they are confusing their thirsty cues for hungry cues. If you stay well hydrated, you will feel less hungry.  Plus, the hydration will prepare your body for all those sodium laden foods as well as minimize dehydration from alcohol consumption.
  • If you like wine, stick to Champagne (78 calories for a 4oz serving); Chardonnay, Zinfandel or Riesling (90 calories per 4oz serving); Merlot or Rose(95 calories per 4oz serving). Or turn the richer wines into a wine spritzer.  If you like hard liquor be aware that 1 oz is roughly 60-75 calories, depending on which one you choose. Avoid mixing them with full calorie sodas, eggnog,  juices, and frozen drinks.
  •  Bring a healthy dish! If you’re required to bring a food item to a gathering, bring something healthy so that you have at least one nutritious food to enjoy guilt-free.
  • Serve yourself. Let YOU be in control of what you get to eat. Do not let someone portion it out for you.
  • Avoid dips and sauces! Most foods taste just fine without those high fat accessories.
  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables! Get a plate and fill half of it with raw produce and steamed veggies. Then fill a quarter of the plate with a serving of lean protein.  The remaining quarter of the plate can be filled with a tablespoon or two of your absolute favorite, but not so healthy, sides. The goal is to satisfy your taste buds with a few bites of naughty good stuff.
  • Save the rolls and stuffing for last. These items are very light in volume and rich in calories, which means it will take a high quantity of them in order for you to feel full. If you save them for the end of your meal, you’re least likely to overeat on them.
  • Only eat the foods you truly enjoy. If you discover that you don’t like something, stop eating it to avoid needless calorie intake.  Do not feel like you need to eat it to spare someone’s feelings. Your health is your priority, not their feelings.
  • Savor each sip and bite! Party and holiday foods are sinfully delicious, so slow down and enjoy all the flavors and textures thoroughly.
  • Do not go back for seconds. Yes, this is a hard one! But if you set a rule to stick to one plate, think about how proud of yourself you will be!
  • Just say NO! If someone tries to offer you more food, it is ok to say no. Let them know that everything was delicious and you aren’t able to eat another bite!
  • If multiple desserts are present, put a couple of bites worth of all your favorites (or one small serving of one dessert) on a small plate. Once that dessert plate is empty, you’re done.  If your sweet tooth is still aching, try eating a peppermint  or chewing some low-calorie gum. Drinking water will also help too as it will cleanse the mouth of the sweetness and make you feel full.
  • Do not hover!  Avoid socializing near the buffet table, kitchen, or bartender or you will do lots of needless snacking and drinking. Encourage folks to chat in areas away from those temptations. Also try talking while standing up, since that burns more calories than sitting down.
  • If music is playing, dance! Dancing is a great way to sneak in some exercise. If you can’t find any adults to dance with you, gather up the kids at the party and invent new dance moves together.
  • If you’re hosting a party, plan some fun activities not centered around food.  Things like party games, dance contests, and karaoke or outdoor activities like flag football or snowball fights will all burn calories as well as create happy memories that loved ones will remember forever.
  • Focus on the true meaning of these gatherings.  Sadly, we spend way too much emphasis on food preparation and consumption instead of enjoying the company of their friends and loved ones.  Spend time catching up with them, hugging them,  and taking a lot of photos together.  The feast should be a compliment to the gathering, not the main event!
  • On the day after, get back on track with your normal healthy habits of daily exercise, proper calorie consumption, and adequate water intake.

Following these tips will help you maintain your current weight during the holidays.   And hey, if you’re extra diligent, you might even see some weight come off!!

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Exercise Challenge

Hello!

Things have been crazy busy since my last post. I’ve been fairly active on my FB page and Pinterest, but I need to get better at logging in on here regularly!

What have I been up to? Well, I am finally over a severe head cold that I have battled for two weeks. What a relief because I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired and coughing my brains out! Plus, it was interfering with my exercise program and totally screwed up my desire to eat healthy. I’ve put on a few pounds in a short amount of time, so its time to start counting calories again. I’ve decided to drop my daily intake down by 300 calories to see if that helps jump start the fat loss. As luck would have it, I received an email about a weight loss challenge. It was a sign! So, I started it today!

I am doing the Everyday Health 8 Week Slim Down Challenge. The routines start off as daily 30 minute workouts – cardio, yoga/Pilates, and their workout videos. As you progress, more time and intensity is added to the workouts. Since I also work with a trainer 2-3 times per week, I will be switching up this schedule to fit into my gym routine. This will probably a little trickier as the challenge progresses, but I will make it work somehow.

I did Week 1’s video today and loved it. It’s a full body workout involving minimal equipment, which is always nice. Tonight at the gym, I will be working chest, triceps, shoulders, and core and will finish up with some intervals on the elliptical. Can’t wait!!

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Motivation Strikes Again!

It’s funny how one simple thing can change your whole perspective on something.

Yesterday started off like every other day – waking up way too early, drink coffee to help pry the eyes open from sleep, feed the boys breakfast, send the oldest one off to school, and come back home and do the typical stay-at-home-mom routine.

Then, I get a text from my little sister.

She informed me that she took some progress photos and wanted know if I could see a difference in her body composition. Holy cow, what a transformation! I was blown away. I had seen her in early August and now she looks like a completely different person! She had struggled with her weight for the last 3 years after being diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis. The doctors put her on all sorts of meds known to slow weight loss/cause weight gain which only complicates her medical condition! But, she showed those doctors and medicine who was boss!! I am so proud of her. What an inspiration!

 After looking at the pictures, I did lots of thinking and realized that I was ready to push myself a little harder.  I mean, if my sister can do it with the battle going on inside her body, I surely can!! So, I dusted off  the P90X+ program that I was going to start in October and studied the workout schedule. All of the sudden, I felt giddy about the idea of working out with Tony Horton on a daily basis again. Then I promised myself  to start the program on Monday (easier to track the program on the Beachbody workout calendar). Of course, I had already plan to switching the workouts around to make sure that I would be able to do my weekly weight training sessions at the gym.

 Then, it was time to go the gym for this week’s session. My trainer asked me “Remember a few weeks ago you had asked me about adding a second training session?” I said “Yes, why?” He then responded by telling me that he thinks that it might be possible now. We did a great upper body workout then he introduced me to the personal trainer sales manager. After lots of talking, I signed a new one year contract for personal training  that allows me two sessions per week at a great rate! I’m so happy!! I paid for the first month (8 sessions) and last month (8 sessions)  so I already have 17 sessions to use (one leftover from my once per week contract) with 8 more being added on the 17th of October. With the yummy holiday season approaching, I may use this surplus to do training sessions 3x/week every so often. This will involve splitting the Upper Body workout into a Push workout and a Pull workout. We will work legs once per week, since my trainer always trains them really hard!

That night, my trainer called and thanked me for believing in him and his method. He then told me that my request to add a second session was what motivated him to stay as an employee with the gym.  It was nice hearing that I, a mere client, inspired my trainer to make a very important decision in his career.

So, with this new exciting change in events, I will be holding off on starting the P90X+ program until I feel like I can handle the extra workload.  I will  continue to use the Jillian Michaels dvds, various Beachbody workouts, and the things I’ve pinned on Pinterest to further improve my cardio endurance and core. I will let my trainer handle all the resistance work!

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Setbacks = Opportunities

Man, so much has happened since my last post. Both of my sons got sick, then I got sick. In fact, I’m still recovering from my sinus infection. I had to take time off from my exercise program since this simple little illness zapped all my energy and strength. However, I don’t consider this a setback. Instead, it has given me the opportunity to focus on something else I have wanted to work on for years.

Ever since our neighborhood-wide yard sale which took place on the same weekend as our  106F heat wave, I focused  on removing all the clutter in our house. Our clutter was mostly in our unfinished basement. The mess was pure chaos with boxes of stuff that haven’t been opened in years. Quite a few of them were boxes of things I haven’t seen since my mom passed away almost 20 years ago. In the past, I made several attempts to open these boxes, but was afraid of what was inside. I have never gotten over the loss of my mother, so facing those boxes meant that I had to relive some pretty sad memories.

But, it needed to be done if I wanted to turn that concrete slab into a beautiful living space. As I was going through the many boxes, it dawned on me that I was doing all these items a disservice by letting them waste away in bags and boxes. It was then when I realized that its better to let others enjoy these items instead of letting them just take up valuable space going unappreciated.  After that moment, the anxiety lessened and sorting through my beloved things became much easier. Now that the basement is all sorted and organized, I will be continuing this process in the other areas of my home until all the clutter is gone.  I’ve donated most of it already, which makes me feel really good inside. It warms my heart knowing that these items will be used and loved again by people who need them more than me.

Anyway, my point is that if you ever have an obstacle disrupt your journey, don’t let it stop you. Instead, find a way to learn from it, to work your way around it, or use it as a new starting point for a brand new journey.  I’m glad I did!!

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Baby Steps!

So, you’re stuck on how to get started on your way to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been there and done that! After many starts and failures, I found that the best way to start a new journey and keep it going is to take baby steps. What do I mean by that? Well, basically it means to start your journey with establishing one new habit at a time. However, before you make that first big step, you must come up with a plan.  I highly recommend making a list of all the new healthy habits you want to add to your new life.  Some examples:

  • drink X amount of ounces of water per day
  • eat a well-balanced breakfast to rev up your metabolism
  • gradually cut down your soda/alcohol intake
  • gradually switch from simple carbohydrates  to complex carbs
  • reduce consumption of red meat and replace with a greater variety of lean proteins
  • add more fruit and vegetables to your meals
  • switch from a serving of milk chocolate to a serving of dark chocolate
  • pack your own meals for work
  • pack your own 100-200 calorie snacks into individual serving Ziploc bags (fruit, nuts, string cheese)
  • before going out to eat, look up the restaurant menu online and choose you meal before you get to the restaurant
  • don’t be afraid to ask for healthier substitutions at restaurants
  • split an entrée with your dinner guest
  • invest in a food scale to learn about proper portions
  • gradually park further away from the front door of public places (work, stores, etc) to sneak in more exercise
  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • walk X amount of steps per day
  • do exercises (jog in place, imaginary jump rope, sit ups, push ups, walk up and down your staircase, tricep dips on the coffee table, calf raises, hands-free stand-up sit-downs on sofa) during all commercial  breaks of your favorite tv shows, instead of fast-forwarding through them
  • walk around the block, neighborhood, trail with your family, friend, dog, or your favorite music
  • play outside with your children,  friends, or pets
  • anytime you use your phone (talk or text), walk instead of sitting still
  • instead of emailing your co-worker in the same office, walk over and talk to them
  • get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  •  develop new hobbies to keep your mind from getting bored and turning to food for entertainment
  • start a journal and track your emotions to learn about your relationship with your food as well as with yourself
  • track your foods (including nutrient info) to keep yourself accountable for your choices
  • brush and floss your teeth after dinner to encourage you to avoid late-night snacking
  • join an online weightloss community to meet like-minded people

Once you come up with your list, prioritize it the way you think will be most successful for you and start marking them off one by one at a pace that is comfortable for you. If you stay committed to each new habit, you will start seeing some very positive changes in yourself. This will motivate you to continue these good habits which will inspire you to do even more great things for yourself!

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