That list alone is enough to cause some pretty serious stress!
Here are some sobering statistics on stress from WebMD:
Almost half of all adults experience health issues caused by stress.
Between 75-90% of all doctor’s visits are for symptoms and illnesses caused by stress.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that stress costs American companies more than $300 billion annually.
Stress is a natural response to the challenges you face every day, and when it hits, certain hormones are released to help you deal with it. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re continually feeling stressed out, these hormones can cause you to gain weight or make it really difficult to lose weight if you don’t deal with stress in productive ways. It’s a vicious cycle: You feel stress, you’re too busy to eat healthy and/or you overeat because you’re stressed, you have a hard time reaching your weight loss goals, and this causes even more stress!
So how can you put the stresses of life in their proper place? Check out these stress-fighting tools:
Be aware of what causes your stress. It’s easier to do something about it if you’re aware of it. Make notes on a calendar, keep a journal, or whatever works best to track your stress levels and stressors.
Exercise regularly. Not only will you burn calories, but when you work out, biochemicals are released that help you feel better. And sometimes the worst thing about stress is feeling helpless to do anything to fix the problem, so exercising is something you can “do”! Promise yourself you’ll do at least 5 minutes of exercise every day, no matter what.
Get enough sleep. Believe me—I know how hard this can be. I also know life goes much better, no matter how stressful it is, when I get enough sleep.
Make time to relax. Even a few minutes here and there throughout your day can make a difference. Ever tried yoga? It’s a great way to relax and workout at the same time!
Be grateful. There is always something to be grateful for, and when you can focus on the positive, the negative gets put in its proper place.
Eat regular, healthy meals. Your blood sugar levels will stay steady, your body will have the nutrients it needs to function properly, and it’ll be easier to control your appetite. And you’ll just feel better.
Build strong relationships with family and friends. It’s always good to have people you can vent to, rely on, go to for advice, and simply have fun with!
Make time to do things you enjoy, and go for quality over quantity during stressful times.
Serve others. It’ll help put your own problems into their proper perspective, and it always feels awesome to help someone in need.
And lastly, remember these words of wisdom: “When we long for life without difficulty, remind us that oaks grow strong under contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” (Peter Marshall). The stresses of life can make you stronger, more giving, and an all-around better person when you’re able to deal with them in positive ways.
We are huge veggie fans around here! No surprise, right?! We love veggies because they’re super nutritious, very calorie friendly, and yummy!
I’m often asked which ones are the healthiest, and the answer to this question is very simple—all of them, but for different reasons. While veggies have so many health benefits, especially where cancer and heart disease prevention are concerned, the clue to the nutritional benefits of each veggie is found in the color of its skin (this info applies to fruits too!):
Red: Can help limit tumor growth and reduce the risk of cell damage.
Orange/yellow: Can help your immune system function properly and reduce the risk of vision problems and birth defects, as well as help keep your joints and bones healthy.
Butternut, summer, and winter squash
Carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, yams (Smart Carbs)
Green: Help keep your eyes healthy and reduce birth defect risks, and also keep your digestive system running smoothly.
All varieties of lettuce
Peas (Smart Carbs)
Purple/blue: May help reduce the risk of stroke, keep your immune and digestion systems healthy, as well as protect your cells.
Example (there are so many fruits that fall into this category!):
White: Help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and help keep hormone levels constant. (Love that last one! ).
Jicama, potatoes, parsnips (Smart Carbs)
To get all of the benefits from these nutritional powerhouses, make sure your daily diet is as “colorful” as possible, and the darker the color the better. And since a lot of the nutrients are found in the skin and the layer right beneath it, don’t skip the skin when possible!
For even more veggie-choosing ideas, sign up for Chris’ free enewsletter and receive a free copy of our Smart Foods List!
Which colorful combination of veggies will you choose today? The possibilities are pretty much endless!
Ask Heidi Anything: Can I Carb Cycle If I Have Crohn’s Disease?
POSTED ON April 2, 2014
To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Crohn’s disease before researching for and writing this post, but after receiving several questions asking if it’s possible to carb cycle with this disease, I figured I better get educated :).
Before I share what I’ve found, as with any medical issue, please work with your health care team to put together the nutrition plan that’s best for you and your unique situation. Carb cycling might be the answer, it might not be, or maybe a modified version of one of the four carb cycles might be the perfect fit for you. A Registered Dietician would definitely be a helpful resource to add to your health care team. Go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website to find one in your area.
Here are some general nutritional guidelines for those with Crohn’s disease and some of my ideas on how they relate to carb cycling:
For more examples of “acceptable” carb cycling foods and recommended serving sizes, register at chrispowell.com, and you’ll receive a our FREE printable carb cycling food guide. This will make choosing foods for your Crohn’s disease nutrition plan even easier for you and your healthcare team!
Moving along – I’ve also been asked how the Paleo Diet compares with carb cycling as a nutrition plan for those with Crohn’s disease. To be quite honest, both seem to be great options in this situation, as both plans stress whole foods (lean meats, fish, fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats). Carb cycling, however, also allows grains, legumes, dairy, potatoes, some salt, and some refined oils (Canola oil, for example). For more information on the Paleo diet, check out the Paleo Diet’s website for a list of recommended foods on this plan. Reminder again – check with your healthcare professional to choose the plan right for you.
For even more information about Crohn’s disease, please visit the following websites:
As with any nutrition plan, especially when you’re dealing with a health issue like Crohn’s disease, be sure use whatever resources you have (carb cycling, the Paleo Diet, those listed above, and others)—including your health care team—to put together the perfect plan for you. It is still totally possible, even with Crohn’s disease, to live a full, healthy, and happy life.
For additional ideas on how to make this happen, visit I’ll Be Determined, where you’ll find lots of helpful information on how to make the right choices to help you reach your goals in all areas of your life.
You’ll find them in 99.99% of everything you eat and drink. They can be your greatest friends or your worst enemies. Eat fewer than you need and you lose weight. Eat more than you need and you gain weight. Yes, it is that simple.
Since calories affect everyone everyday, it’s important to understand them: what they are, what they do, and how to make them work for you instead of against you.
Some basic facts about calories:
They represent the amount of energy in the foods you eat and drink.
They are not partial to certain types of foods. A calorie from a carrot is the same as a calorie from a doughnut (although the carrot calorie is much healthier, of course!).
Different types of foods are automatically higher in calories. Take 1 gram each of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. The grams of protein and carbohydrate each contain 4 calories, while the gram of fat has 9. Yes, that’s more than double the calories gram per gram. Yikes!
One pound of fat = 3500 calories.
So how do you get calories on your side in your weight loss battle? First of all you need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body needs every day just to function properly—to breathe, circulate blood, adjust hormone levels, digest food, grow and repair cells, and so on. While there are several formulas to figure out your BMR, here’s an easy one:
Current body weight x 12 = BMR
150 pounds x 12 = 1,800 calories (BMR)
Simply put, if you eat more than your daily BMR, your body stores those extra calories as fat and you gain weight. If you stay below your BMR, you create a calorie deficit and you lose weight. One caution: women should never eat less than 1,200 calories a day, and men should never go below 1,500. Consuming too few calories sends your body into a protective starvation mode and slows down your metabolism, and a slow metabolism doesn’t burn calories as fast and can cause other problems as well.
There are three basic ways to create a calorie deficit:
Eat fewer calories than your BMR.
Exercise, because it burns calories and builds muscle, and bigger muscles burn even more calories!
A combination of #1 and #2—the best option by far.
Here’s how this works:
If you create a daily 500-calorie deficit, you’ll lose 1 pound a week.
If you create a daily 1,000-calorie deficit, you’ll lose 2 pounds a week (remember that cutting too many calories from your diet is not good).
I know, I hear you: “But Heidi, I don’t like to count calories.” You’re not alone. Counting calories is so not fun. However, it’s really important to know what you’re taking into your body every time you open your mouth. Studies show that most people think they’ve eaten 20% fewer calories than they actually have, so trying to estimate your calorie intake is a recipe for disaster.
Until you have an opportunity to weigh and measure your food to figure what your “correct” portions look like, this simple graphic shows a safe and easy way to choose appropriate portion sizes without measuring cups or a scale. This should also help keep you from creating a calorie surplus:
Some final words of advice:
It’s important to recalculate your BMR as you lose weight.
Some calorie tracking apps add the calories you burn from exercise into your daily to-eat total, making it look like you can eat more than you actually can, and if you do eat all those calories, you won’t have a calorie deficit at the end of the day. Instead, eat the number of calories in your daily eating plan, and subtract the calories you burned to see your deficit. Remember: one pound of fat = 3500 calories, so work to eventually create a 3500 calorie deficit.
You can eat calories much faster than you can burn them, so don’t use those exercise-burned calories as permission to eat more food—“I burned 500 calories this morning, so I can eat this cupcake.” So not a good way to do it!
To learn more about our preferred and proven eating and exercise plan—Carb Cycling—check out Chris’s book, Choose More, Lose More for Life. And when you sign up for his FREE semiweekly enewsletter at chrispowell.com you’ll get a FREE printable handy food guide to help you win the calorie battle and reach your weight loss goals!
Protein Powder: It’s not just for shakes anymore! + Giveaway!
POSTED ON March 19, 2014
Congratulations to our Winners! Winning recipes submitted by Alvina Green and Tandi V.
We always say that protein is the building block of these things we call “muscles”. In addition, protein happens to be one of the most satiating macronutrients – simply stated, it keeps us fuller longer. Unfortunately, protein is underconsumed across the board. We don’t eat nearly enough!!!
Considering protein is one of the major components of carb cycling, and is the perfect companion to both carbs and fat, I figured I’d give a little crash course in one of the most convenient sources of protein: POWDER!!!! And don’t worry…protein powder is NOT just for shakes anymore.
Before we go too far, you should know that NOT all protein powders are created equally. When choosing the powder that is right for you, you should know the difference between an all-protein supplement and a protein meal replacement.
All-protein supplement powder is NOT a complete meal, and should never be consumed as one. Along with this kind of a powder, you would need to add in carbs or fats (or both, depending on the plan you follow) to complete your meal. While this can be a more convenient protein option over meats, you still have a bit of legwork to complete the meal. Choose one that’s low in fat (less than a couple grams), low in carbs (will naturally have around 5 grams), and 15-25 grams of protein per serving (scoop sizes vary per brand).
If you are anything like the Powell Pack, and need your meals ready to go QUICK, then you shouldlook for a protein meal replacement powder. What do we recommend? Our Powell Perfect Protein Shakes, of course. This is why we designed them…because we NEEDED something fast and delicious that we could rely on to give us (and our kids) the nutrition we need. They are the perfect combination of protein, carbs, and healthy fats, so you get everything you need in one shake! Did I mention how amazing they taste?? Chris and I debate this often - I like the chocolate ice cream, Chris likes the vanilla ice cream ;). Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to enter to win some of your own!!
But let’s not get carried away here. We don’t need to confine our favorite powder to a shaker bottle, gosh darn it. There are many other ways to incorporate it into a diet. Here are a few ideas:
Sprinkle a spoonful of vanilla protein powder on your oatmeal or favorite whole grain cereal for a bit of added sweetness and an extra punch of protein.
1. Grind the oatmeal in a blender or food processor.
2. Put the ground oats in a bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat.
4. Add the batter to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown.
5. Enjoy with your favorite low calorie syrup, or slices berries
What’s in it:
(per pancake, no syrup or topping—recipe makes two 4” pancakes): 157.5 calories, 16.25 g protein, 18.5 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 1.7 g fat.
And check out these other Powell approved protein powder recipes:
What is your favorite protein powder recipe? Share it in the comments below, and you could win a box of our Powell Perfect Protein Shakes! Contest ended at 11:59 pm EST Thursday, March 20, 2014, and two random winners were announced on Friday, March 21, 2014.
Congratulations to our book winner, Christy Troxell-Thomas
Veggies are so awesome that even though they’re complex carbs, we’ve given them their very own group in carb cycling! In fact, you can eat 2 handfuls of non-root/non-starchy type veggies with every. single. meal.
So why do veggies deserve such a distinction? They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and have amazing health benefits:
Veggies pretty much nourish every part of your body! And one of their main benefits? They are so low in calories that you can fill up with veggies without even making hardly a dent in your daily calorie bank account. Try doing that with any other food group!
I’m often asked about fresh vs. frozen vs. canned veggies. While fresh, in season veggies are best, frozen and canned are great alternatives because fresh veggies start to lose their nutrients within days. Since the frozen and canned variety are picked and then processed at their peak, they continue to hold the majority of their nutrients for an extended period of time. Processing actually increases the lycopene found in tomatoes, which protects you against heart disease and even some cancers. And what’s the best part about choosing frozen or canned veggies? They allow you to eat your favorites year-round! They’re also quick and easy to prepare, and you’ll save money because you’ll throw away less due to spoilage. Just be sure to choose no sugar and low or no salt added varieties.
Since most people consume only about half of the recommended servings of veggies each day, here are some ideas to help you add more of these nutritional necessities into your diet:
Add a handful of spinach to your smoothie. You won’t even know it’s there!
Buy pre-washed bags of salad.
Pre-package your own veggies for a healthy, on-the-go snack.
Add veggies to sandwiches and soups.
Choose to snack on veggies instead of other not-so-healthy options.
Get creative—try something new! You might discover a new favorite.
Just gotta’ have ranch dip with your veggies? Try this healthier version: 1) Mix together equal parts each of onion powder, dried dill, and garlic powder. 2) Mix in three times the amount used for the ingredients in step 1 (if you used 1 tablespoon for step 1, use 3 tablespoons in this step) of dried parsley. 3) Add sea salt and pepper taste. 4) Add this mix (to taste) to plain nonfat Greek yogurt and enjoy!
What creative things do you do to incorporate more veggies into your day? Share your ideas in the comments below. Winner of the autographed copy of Chris’ book, Choose to Losewas chosen randomly and announced on Friday, March 14, 2014.
Good ol’ oatmeal, a popular go-to for breakfast since way back in the early 1850′s, is a true nutritional powerhouse. And it’s not just for breakfast anymore—Oh no!
Chris and I are huge oatmeal fans, and nothing keeps us feeling fuller longer! We often depend on this mealtime lifesaver when we’re on the road or out running errands and need a quick and healthy meal—even on low-carb days. Yes, that’s right. If you’re carb cycling and find yourself totally stuck with no healthy low-carb options available, go for some oatmeal! It’s loaded with complex carbs and fiber, which help you feel fuller longer and keep those blood sugar levels steady. And that fiber has so many other really important health benefits too! It’s a total win-win!
We love Starbucks’ oatmeal, and with a Starbucks on pretty much every corner, in every airport, and in lots of hotels, it can be a great way to start the day—or save the day! My favorite way to enjoy my Starbucks’ oatmeal is to add two Stevia packets (which I keep in my purse or diaper bag), and half a package each of the dried fruit and nuts that come with each cup of oatmeal. It is 250 calories of awesomeness
So the next time you’re out and about and your stomach starts growling, try some oatmeal instead of all those other fatty, fast food options. Your tummy—and your scale—will thank you!
March is one of my most favorite months of the year because I get to celebrate two things: the birthdays of some very special people in my life, and one of my passions—nutrition! And since I am so passionate about nutrition, I’ve got some pretty cool stuff planned for this blog this month! It’s all a bit hush-hush, so you’ll have to check back often to see what’s going on, but I will tell you one thing: There will be a weekly giveaway! :-) You in? Awesome! Let’s go!
Good nutrition is so important! When you fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods, you’ll feel great (both physically and mentally), accomplish more, and have an all-round healthier body. The reverse is also true—if junky, low nutritional value foods are your fuel of choice, you’ll feel lousy, get less done, and have health issues.
In order to be healthy, our bodies need the right combination of what I like to call the Fabulous Four: protein, carbs, healthy fats, and water. Here’s why they’re the foundation of good nutrition:
Protein builds and maintains muscle, bone, skin, hair, and pretty much every other body part and tissue in your body. It’s so important for weight loss because muscle burns calories like an inferno, so the more muscle, the more calories burned! Protein also breaks down more slowly than carbs and fat, which burns even more calories and helps you feel fuller longer.
Carbs are the preferred fuel source for your muscles and organs. They come in healthy versions (vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes), and not-so-healthy versions (cakes, cookies, soda, doughnuts, candy, and many processed foods). Healthy carbs are also crucial for burning calories, and since they break down more slowly than the not-so-healthy kind, they keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, and your calorie burning furnace hot so it burns more calories!
Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) eaten in moderation help the development and function of your eyes and brain and help prevent heart disease, stroke, depression, and arthritis. They also help keep your energy levels steady and keep you from feeling hungry.
Water is an important ingredient in regulating your bodily functions (digestion, circulation, temperature, and many others), as well as keeping muscle fatigue at bay and for healthy skin. And an adequate water intake is imperative for losing weight! We recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water (150 lbs = 75 ounces, for example) every single day.
And since I want to help you have the best National Nutrition Month ever, here are some ideas to help you get started with your own celebration:
Why is it, then, that on December 31st, only 8% of resolution makers are successful? Why do we have a hard time achieving any goal, no matter when we begin? Why is it so hard to do what we know we need to do? What quenched that burning fire we felt on day 1 of this “fresh start,” and how can we reignite it and be successful goal achievers? It might take some trial and error to find your fire, but go for it—you’re so worth it!
Here are my six solutions for reigniting, and then keeping your goal-achieving fire burning brightly—with some motivational quotes thrown in for some extra kindling:
1. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself and ask—and answer—the hard questions:Why do I want to achieve this goal? How will my life be better by achieving it? If this is a repeat goal, why did I fall (because we never fail!) the last time? What will I do differently this time?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~Unknown
The best goal has a deeper motivation—that burning fire you feel within: to get a better job, to be able to play with your kids without feeling like you’re going to die, to retire at a certain age, etc. And while a goal to fit into that pair of jeans might get you started, it’s probably not a long-term motivator. Find that “burning fire” purpose and you’re good to go!
Purpose is the most powerful motivator in the world. ~Gandhi
2. Prioritize: If your calendar and to-do list don’t match up with your goal, you’ve got a problem.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage…to say “no” to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger “YES” burning inside. ~ Stephen Covey
Yes, you need to take care of life and the people in your life, but if your to-do list is full of too many low-priority “other” things, you’ve lost your bigger, burning YES! Carefully prioritize your life and make sure those YESs are front and center.
3. Replace fear with courage: The fear of failure is a huge fear we all have to deal with when committing to a goal, and the hardest part of reaching that goal is often convincing ourselves we can change even though we’re afraid! One of the easiest ways to find the courage amongst your fears is to make and keep one small Promise to yourself. Success ignites even more courage!
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. ~Disney’s “The Princess Diaries”
4. Celebrate every single success, no matter how small: Set up your own reward system—it works for kids, why wouldn’t it work for you?! Make your rewards something tangible, motivating, and goal-related, and remember that each tiny success makes that fire burn even hotter, so celebrate!
People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. ~Tony Robbins
5. Be realistic:
Achieving this goal will definitely make your life better, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it will make life “perfect.” If you do, you’re setting yourself up for a big fall.
Be prepared to fall, and when you do, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and confess, reassess, and recommit to your goal. Remember: Falling is not failing!
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Feeling comfortable is definitely a fire extinguisher!
Life is not meant to be lived in your comfort zone. ~Laurel Day
6. Some other ways to keep that fire burning:
Work on one goal at a time and make sure it’s a SMART Goal.
If you don’t know where to start, do some research, ask others, and become a budding expert. For a weight loss goal, check out our Carb Cycling program—it works!
Just begin. Focus on one small thing you can do today to move closer to your goal. Get on that treadmill for just 5 minutes, deposit $5 in a savings account, or look over your resume. One small thing.
Prepare for and take care of small bumps in the road before they become huge roadblocks to your success.
And remember, finding your fire and keeping it burning brightly is all up to you—no one can do it for you.
Sleep…or the lack thereof…is a hot topic around our house right now. Especially around the holidays. Baby Ruby is such a good baby, and sleeps really well for her young age, but still. I miss those regular, non-interrupted ZZZs I’m so used to getting.
Besides making us feel tired and a bit grumpy (as Cash often reminds me!), a lack of sleep can cause so many issues you might not be aware of:
Sleepy people are involved in more accidents on the road, at home, and on the job. One study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that sleepiness is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year. That’s scary!
So, how do you find time for more ZZZs in an already crazy busy life? Here are some tips from the experts at WebMD:
Get enough sleep at night (7-9 hours). Ladies, this one is especially crucial for us—a recent study at Duke University found that women need more sleep than men because of our awesome multi-tasking brains! Having a hard time doing this? Try this next tip.
Instead of going to bed an hour earlier, which is a difficult thing to do, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights, and make night four’s bedtime your new regular bedtime.
Keep other activities (reading, working/playing on the computer, paying bills, watching TV, etc.) out of your bed and reserve it only for sleeping and intimate-type activities (*wink, wink*).
Wake up at the same time every day. Even on weekends.
Eat meals on a regular schedule, like we do in carb cycling, so your energy levels will stay constant. Not only will you be more likely to make better food choices, but you’ll also be less likely to get sleepy from a lack of energy.
Exercise regularly. While this might not make sense, exercise helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
Can’t find time to go to bed earlier? Re-examine and re-prioritize your schedule. When you get enough sleep, you’ll be much more successful with all your most important tasks!
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual: Soak in the tub, read a book, listen to your favorite soft music, or whatever helps you relax. Our little Ruby has her own bedtime ritual and it works like a charm!
Does this all seem totally overwhelming? Pick just one tip and set a SMART Goal. Even one tiny improvement can make a world of difference!