Halloween Survival Guide

Thursday, October 29, 2009 by kate

Are you haunted by Hersey’s? Do you have nightmares about nougat? I know. Halloween is a scary time of year. So I’ve compiled some tricks to keep your treats in check – during Halloween and after.

Wait until the night before or day of Halloween to buy candy. (This may be too late for some of you.) This way you’ll avoid the temptation of testing out the candies before the kiddos come knocking. Also – it may be on sale!

Buy candy you don’t really like. (Personally, I’ll still eat it anyway, but at least I won’t eat as much!)

Keep your inner demon in check.

Don’t just blindly tear into the candy bowl in a dark corner. Eat consciously. Take out several of your favorite and be aware of how many calories you’re consuming. Here’s a nifty candy calorie counter I found. It tells you how far you have to walk to burn off the candy you eat.

The Aftershocks
Just because you’ve made it through the night doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. You still have to fend off sugar attacks from home and work.

Shift through your child’s loot and keep only their favorite candies. Donate the rest.

Freeze it. A frozen Snickers will thwart your plans of wolfing down gobs of candy.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend an average of $56.31 on Halloween – $17.99 of which on candy. That’s down from $66.54 last year. That means less excess. Which means your work won’t be overloaded with leftovers next week. (Looks like the dreary economy is actually good for something this year.)

Ask co-workers if it’s ok to put kitchen candy in a covered container so Milky Ways aren’t looking at you longingly as you get your morning coffee.

Bring in a healthier treat like Starbursts, peppermint patties or lollipops so you don’t feel totally left out while all your coworkers leave wrapper trails around the office.

The only fool-proof plan to avoid Halloween rejects at the office is to go on vacation.

How do you survive Halloween without turning into a monster?

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Candy Calories a Scary Sight!

Thursday, October 22, 2009 by kate

Free candy isn’t calorie-free. That’s my mantra this month. ‘Cause things get ugly – real ugly – the closer we get to Halloween. So I’m trying to scare myself straight. If I know just how bad all those little packets of goodness are, maybe, just maybe, I won’t gorge myself on Goobers and dive into Dove bars with the same zeal. Here goes.

**Be forewarned. What you’re about to read is disturbing and is not appropriate for all ages. You may also have trouble sleeping at night.**

3 Musketeers
260 calories
8 grams of fat

3 Musketeers minis (7)
170 calories
5 grams of fat

270 calories
11 grams of fat

Hersey’s Kisses (9)
230 calories
13 grams of fat

Hersey’s Kisses Special Dark (9)
180 calories
12 grams of fat

Kit Kat
210 calories
11 grams of fat

240 calories
10 grams of fat

M&M’s Dark Chocolate
240 calories
11 grams of fat

Milky Way
260 calories
10 grams of fat

Milky Way minis (5)
190 calories
7 grams of fat

Milky Way Midnight
220 calories
8 grams of fat

Milky Way Midnight minis (5)
180 calories
7 grams of fat

Reese’s Big Cup
200 calories
12 grams of fat

280 calories
14 grams of fat

Snickers Dark
250 calories
12 grams of fat

Here are a few lighter treats:

Jolly Ranchers (3)
50 calories
0 grams of fat

Candy Corn
150 calories
0 grams of fat

Twizzlers (4)
160 calories
0.5 grams of fat

250 calories
2.5 grams of fat

If you’re really jonesing for some chocolate, try a York Peppermint Patty. With 140 calories and just 2.5 grams of fat, you won’t turn into a monster after just one. And if you find you don’t stop at just one, pop the patties in the freezer. It’ll slow you down.

What’s your favorite Halloween treat? How do you keep from turning into a scary sugar monster?

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The skinny on being heavy and healthy

Monday, October 19, 2009 by kate

I’m not telling you how tall I am, but I will tell you I’m not within the “normal” range of the body mass index (BMI). Yea, that’s right. Mr. BMI man is calling me fat. And I’m not a fan of name-calling. While I could stand to lose a pound or two*, I wouldn’t consider myself out of shape. I’ve run half-marathons, work out 6 days a week and actually like to eat beets. So this leads me to think being thin isn’t necessarily a trump card for health – and several studies seem to agree with me.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, according to the LA Times, took a look at the weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance and other diabetic markers of more than 5,000 adults. While people in the “normal” weight group were healthiest, nearly a quarter of them were in the abnormal range. More than half of those who were overweight were also considered healthy; and so were nearly a third of the obese group.

In fact, a recent study in Germany found that those who are a little overweight live longer and are less sick than those who are thinner.

This doesn’t give you the green light to get your money’s worth on buffet night, but it does mean you can stop obsessing about your weight and focus on your health instead.

*or 10

Be selfish. Volunteer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009 by kate

A 2007 study on the health benefits of volunteering found volunteers had greater longevity, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. See? Giving isn’t really all that selfless.

Next week (Oct.19-25), several networks including ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox have a plan to improve your health by helping others, according to USA Today. The stations will feature more than 90 shows aimed at getting viewers to kick their couches to the curb and help someone. (Weird. I would think these stations rely on viewers curled up on said couches to watch their shows.)

The program, I Participate, will include celebrity PSAs, messages from cast members and segments on reality shows and programs such as The View and Today. But a big chunk of the program will be hidden in themes and dialogue in shows.

Contestants on NBC's Biggest Loser, for example, will go to a food bank to pack goods for those who don't have enough to eat. "It's not the most natural tie-in," says Loser co-creator JD Roth. "But it's a great way to raise awareness of obesity while making viewers aware of millions of people who can't put food on their table."

Next week, Private Practice doctors will donate time at a homeless shelter and Ghost Whisperer crime solvers will donate blood.

"Embedding something into entertainment plants a seed that has value in ways a (PSA) doesn't. You're not beating someone over the head with it," says CSI: NY's Hill Harper.

Public service themes were snuck so seamlessly in some shows that casts didn’t even know they were part of a broader initiative.

"We wanted to make it part of the fabric of the story, but not the story – that this is something the characters would do, that they are natural and organic to the their everyday lives," says Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.

Just a few of the participating shows include:
30 Rock, Bones, Brothers, Brothers and Sisters, Cougar Town, CSI, Dancing With the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Eastwick, Grey's Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Project Runway, Scrubs, So You Think You Can Dance?, The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist, The Office and Ugly Betty.

Filmmaker Robin Baker Leacock, who created a documentary on the impact of helping others, says the timing is perfect, given the current economic crisis. "People are starting to see you only get so much satisfaction acquiring things and status," she says. "Helping others makes people feel good. If TV can show how people can help, even subliminally, that's great."

So do something good for society, curl up on the couch and turn on the boob tube next week.

Iparticipate.org and AARP will track interest in the program. This is intended to become a multiyear effort.

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Confidence Conditioning

Monday, October 12, 2009 by kate

Body confidence is a muscle that needs to be worked out to get stronger. Even the most beautiful body can sport an insecure brain.

Jenn Walters at BusinessBalance.com tackled body confidence in a recent post. Here’s a snip-it of what she had to say*:

Hit the gym
Getting those endorphins pumping can quiet the little negative body-talk devil on your shoulder.

Eat wisely
When we’re not feeling good about ourselves, we tend to skimp on the calories, which can set off an unhealthy cycle of on-again, off-again dieting that can lead to sabotaging weight-loss efforts and a lack of self control and self-esteem.

Dress for success
The right outfit can really make you feel better about yourself.

“Shrink” self-doubt
If you’re really having a hard time feeling good about yourself and what you look like, consider seeing a therapist.

Do you have issues with self-confidence? How do you build your body confidence?

*I know these suggestions sound so simple, but sometimes we forget to do the easiest things. Confidence is something that can make or break our day. And I’m convinced it burns extra calories, too.

Avoiding fried food and Lean Cuisines

Thursday, October 8, 2009 by kate

The more restrictive a diet is, the more I have dreams about the food I can’t eat. And the diet never lasts. But Every Day Health blogger Bryan Harris has simplified things, creating a list of just four items to avoid. (Notice that? “Avoid.” He knows we can’t totally disown these foods. Smart man.)

Here’s his list, abbreviated:

Avoid drinking
Alcohol contains copious amounts of carbs and empty calories. Not to mention the green light it gives my mouth to invite everything to enter into it.

Avoid fried food
I love going to a Japanese restaurant and ordering Vegetable Tempura. Why you ask? Because the word “vegetable” makes it sound so healthy. I mean, sure, an expert would know “tempura” means “deep fried,” but the word doesn’t really slap you in the face with how bad it is, right? I guess, according to Bryan, I probably shouldn’t be uttering those words anymore if I want to maintain a healthy diet. Frying anything (even vegetables) could be burning all the vitamins right out of it. And fried food at restaurants could contain trans fats, which raises your risk of heart disease.

Avoid high-calorie carb foods after six
This is an issue for me (and let’s face it, many of you guys, too). Carbs are my safety blanket, especially when I’m curled up on the couch watching Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy. Carbs eaten at night are more likely to go unused and could turn into fat. Bryan says we should stick to meats and veggies after 6 pm.

Avoid processed foods
This is all that good stuff in the center aisles at the grocery store: high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, white flour, blanched foods, processed sugar, processed sugar substitutes and soda. So all you Lean Cuisine lunch people need to Put The Box Down. I’m just as guilty of eating an energy bar instead of making a meal. This rule might take a little more work than the rest.

What are your “avoids”? How have you tweaked your diet? Has it worked?

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Stay Stone Age slim in your suit

Monday, October 5, 2009 by kate

I’ve never heard of an overweight caveman. Now whether it’s because they had to wear those terribly revealing loincloths (basically bikini season year-round), or because their careers involved clubs and rocks instead of charts and graphs, I can’t say for sure. What I do know is desk jobs don’t encourage a healthy lifestyle.

In a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, 49% of office workers said they gained weight at their current jobs, and 28% of those packed on more than 10 pounds.
But don’t fret. Women’s Health Magazine has come up with a bunch of tips on how to stay Stone Age slim in your suit.

Sweet Success One of the more interesting tips had to do with smell. Apparently, the key to weight loss success is a Glade plug-in. A group of overweight people who smelled sweet smells (green apple, peppermint, vanilla, or banana) when they were hungry lost an average of 30 pounds in 6 months.

Experts believe the scents suppressed rather than stimulated appetites. So grab some potpourri and see.

Go Green
Green isn’t just for Mother Nature. Grab a cup of green tea and you’ll improve your chances of losing weight. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people who drank oolong tea with green tea extract for three months lost 2.4 more pounds than people who drank just plain old oolong tea. Catechins, antioxidants found in green tea, may stimulate the body to burn calories and decrease fat.

This is a weird one, but it sounds kooky enough that it might just be true. Women’s Health says if you have a snack stash, keep it in a left-hand desk drawer. Researchers claim we're more likely to reach for things to the right of our field of vision.

Do you have any office tricks that work for you?

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Awesome fall foods

Thursday, October 1, 2009 by kate

You're not a bear. And unless you're planning on hibernating in a cave all winter, there's no reason to gain that winter weight. But for some reason when the leaves start to turn, and the mornings get crisp, I just want to fill my belly with warm, comforting food. So here are a few fall foods that won’t make you fat:

Pumpkins:Eat your art out. Don’t just reserve these Jack ‘o Lanterns for your porch – they also go well on your plate. Pumpkins are full of fiber and low in calories. And you don’t have to carve the big orange thing to get the health benefits. Just pop open a can of pumpkin puree and put it in your muffin mix, soup, pancakes or bread. Or save the seeds when you’re carving your masterpiece. Cook them up and get a good dose of omega 3s, calcium and zinc. They’ve also been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

Vegetarian Chili: Load your chili with any bean you can find in your kitchen and enjoy a comforting dish that’s loaded with fiber – not to mention potassium, protein and iron. This will stick to your ribs without sticking to your a** as well.

Apples:Not only are apples a rich source of antioxidants, you can also get a workout picking them. Go for the classic apple pie, or try your hand at a low-fat apple bran muffin. Or make your own apple sauce and substitute it when recipes call for oil.

What other fall foods or recipes do you use to keep from packing on those hibernating pounds?

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