What “Healthy” Means to Me

Good morning, everyone!

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that the holiday season is quickly approaching, but it seems that lately all I have heard around me are conversations involving questions such as:

“Do you cook healthy meals everyday?”  “Are you going to eat healthy this Thanksgiving?” and “Is X food healthy or not?”

All great conversations, BUT have you ever gotten around to thinking about what “healthy” actually means?

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Let’s see what dictionary.com has to say, shall we?

health·y [hel-thee]

1. possessing or enjoying good heath or a sound and vigorous mentality: a healthy body; a healthy mind.

2.pertaining to or characteristic of good health, or a sound and vigorous mind: a healthy appearance; healthy attitudes.

We hear the words “health” and “wellness” used more often than not these days. Companies are trying to shift their focus towards creating healthier choices, restaurants are posting the amount of calories in their menu options and even the USDA has jumped on board by making significant changes to school meals in an effort to curb childhood obesity.

Although certain people, (some) food companies and the government are truly making an effort to educate people on how to live a “healthy lifestyle”, healthy will always mean so many different things to people, and that’s OK!

The idea of healthy being black and white (you are or you aren’t), is completely false. Healthy living is very much a person’s interpretation.

In my opinion, there are no specific rules when it comes to living a healthy and active lifestyle. Of course, there are some general guidelines, and there are some behaviors that are clearly unhealthy (smoking, excessive drinking, fast food etc.), but for the most part, everyone needs to find what works for them.

What Healthy Means to Me

To me, “healthy” means finding balance between mind, body and soul. It’s about eating a clean and wholesome diet most of the time. Understanding that slip-ups happen, and that indulging is not bad! It’s about fitting some sort of exercise into my daily routine, even if it’s simply walking instead of driving, or taking the stairs. Healthy does not involve a scale – it involves feeling comfortable in my own skin, staying positive and being the best version of myself that I can possibly be.

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What does healthy mean to you?

 

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My Favorite Healthy Eating Tips

One of the main reasons why I started my blog was to share lots of healthy living tips/tricks with all of you lovely people. Although my little corner of the blog world has become much more than only a healthy living blog, I still try to center a lot of my posts around how to living a healthy and active lifestyle.

Because I was a former athlete (tennis player), run races and actively model, I get approached a significant amount about my eating plans, workouts and daily routines.

Since I live a pretty diverse lifestyle, my eating and workout plans naturally tend to differ depending on what I am trying to achieve.

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Overtime, I’ve been able to develop my own healthy eating and workout habits that keep me on track whether I am training for a race, or trying to look my best for a fashion show or shoot.

While preparing for an audition, photo shoot or fashion show I try to eat as clean as possible, but I do not deprive myself.  Trust me, I’m Italian, we go overboard sometimes!

When I am training for a race, or have some time until my next photo shoot or show date, I tend to give myself a little bit more leeway.

No matter what the situation is (show, shoot or race) I always, always, always stick to my golden rule, which is:

 Everything in Moderation

Keith Urban said it best in his latest hit single:

 ”I don’t need a whole lot of anything, just a little bit of everything”. 

Sorry I had to!

Aside from my golden rule, here are some of my other favorite healthy eating tips that almost always follow. Enjoy!

Eat Breakfast!

Eating breakfast is SO important. If you skip breakfast, you will inevitably eat more throughout the day because your body will be lacking energy.

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My favorite breakfast is a cup of Greek yogurt with a few fix-ins (almonds, fruit, flax-seed) or some scrambled eggs/egg whites. The more protein, the better!

Snack

Snacking is actually one of the best things you can do for your body. When you snack healthy, you are keeping your metabolism going and are curbing your cravings.

A few of my favorite healthy snacks include:

  • low-fat cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • 2 rice cakes with peanut butter
  • a handful of almonds
  • a piece of fruit – apple, berries, pineapple, grapes

Avoid Processed Foods

This one is a toughy since almost everything in today’s society seems to be processed!

Try to avoid foods that are sold in boxes and have a shelf life longer than a week. This typically means that there are a lot of additives, that will stall your weight loss, make you feel lethargic and are just NOT healthy.

Of course, remember the golden rule, but don’t make it a habit to eat these foods. Instead look for all natural, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and anything that does not have over 5 ingredients – most of which you usually can’t even pronounce!

Drink Water

Water makes up over half of out biological makeup, which means that it should clearly be a huge part of our diet!  Sometimes hunger can often be mistaken for thirst, so before you go crash the cupboard for a snack, take a few sips of water and then decide what it is that you’re really craving.

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Doctors recommend about 8-9 glasses of water a day or more, which can sometimes be difficult to consume. I recommend ALWAYS carrying water with you wherever you go. In the car, on a walk, or on your desk at work. If you can see the water, you will be more likely to drink it!

Opt For “Good” Carbs

Yes, there is such a thing! Fruits, vegetables and whole grains all contains carbohydrates and are an essential part of any healthy diet.

Stay away from refined carbohydrates such as white bread, rice and pasta (again moderation here is ok!) and instead opt for whole wheat options.

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What are some of your favorite healthy eating tips?

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Eating Early & Losing Weight

Good morning everyone!

It’s a beautiful day in Boston today and that makes me a very happy camper! I always seem to be more upbeat when the sun is shining. Spring has finally sprung (for real), and I couldn’t be any more excited about it.

I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone for your nice comments regarding the Twin Lights Half Marathon. I’m holding on to the post-race high for as long as I can!

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Today I have a guest post for you from my friends over at FitnessWatch-md. 

FitnessWatch-md is dedicated to helping people find the most practical, real-life solutions for achieving and maintaining healthy weight. On their site they have everything from how-to articles and ‘greatest tips’ to published scientific research. I encourage you to check them out, if you haven’t already!

I love what they stand for, so naturally when they asked me to feature another one of their posts I instantly said yes!

Enjoy!

Does Eating Earlier Really Help You Lose Weight Faster?

Everyone wants to know how to lose weight fast, and some say that the key is to restrict eating after a certain point in the evening. But now, researchers have released a scientific study that could indicate that mealtimes do actually play a role in weight loss or gain. The researchers found that those who ate earlier in the day lost more weight than those who ate later. You can find other studies and helpful tips on the best ways to lose weight at http://fitnesswatch-md.com.

While this dieting advice might prove helpful for some, for others it may just add more confusion and unnecessary complexity to the weight loss dilemma. Every now and then, new weight loss studies are released that often seem to contradict the preceding study results.

Eat earlier for fast weight loss

The study, which was published in The International Journal of Obesity, was conducted by Marta Garaulet and Dr. Frank Scheer, the director of the medical chronobiology program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The researchers evaluated 420 study participants for 20 weeks. The first group of participants were the “early eaters,” who ate lunch prior to 3 p.m. The “late eaters” ate lunch after 3 p.m.

Both groups of participants followed a weight loss program that featured a similar diet, with comparable caloric intakes and exercise routines. It should also be noted that the study took place in Spain, in which it is customary for lunch to be the largest meal of the day. For both groups, lunch was about 40% of the total daily calories.

At the study’s conclusion, the researchers noted that the early eaters lost an average of 25% more weight than the late eaters. The study accounted for additional factors that may have played a role, including levels of leptin and ghrelin, which are hormones that regulate hunger.

The secret may be ‘circadian rhythms’

According to one of the researchers, the science of this study could be based on the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Dr. Scheer noted that the cells in the body have a built-in internal clock, including cells in fat tissues. Differences in mealtimes could affect the body’s metabolism, and it appears to be particularly critical for diabetics and those at risk for diabetes.

The human body can more effectively handle high blood glucose levels earlier in the day, so late eaters may be at a higher risk for insulin resistance and subsequently, fat deposition. However, the question of how to lose weight effectively is often best answered by a physician.

Is eating earlier the best solution for weight loss?

Although timing your meals earlier may be one tool for fast weight loss, making other crucial lifestyle changes are necessary when seeking the best ways to lose weight. Such changes should not only include reduction of calories and good eating habits, but they should also be sustainable for the long run.

One group of physicians has shown promise in helping people make lifestyle changes, and the results have been so good they’ve been published in The American Journal of Medicine. The Center for Medical Weight Loss, a national network of physicians with 450 locations in the US, provides customized weight loss programs and counseling, without surgery. The average weight loss for those on the program is 28 pounds in 12 weeks, and surprisingly, the study shows that 93%

If you’ve tried various diet plans to no avail, it makes sense to consider a medically-supervised plan; they have proven success rates, and they are the safest and most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off.

Thank you to fitnesswatch for sponsoring this post!

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What time do you typically eat your meals?

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How to Live Microwave Free

When people walk into my kitchen, they usually take a look around and say “where’s the microwave?” “You don’t have one?” “Why?” “Are you OK?”.

The truth is, I’ve never owned a microwave, and as much as I used to want one in the past, I honestly have no interest in ever owning one.

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Microwaving food has always been a huge no-no in my house, and I have my father to thank for that. He never allowed a microwave in our house, so I never used one. He is one of those people who believe that microwaving food kills all the nutrients, and puts us at risk for radiation.

 

As you can probably assume, large Italian families usually cook very large meals; large enough to have plenty of leftovers for the next day. Most people would just pop those leftovers into the microwave, but not this girl.

 

Before I continue let me say that I have used a microwave in the past<–Ummm helloooo college!  Funny story– when I was a freshman I had absolutely no clue how to even pop popcorn in the machine!  My friends and roommate made fun of me, because I would sit there for a good 15 minutes trying to figure out which settings/buttons to press. Ahhhh, I digress.

 

I’ve read a few articles here and there about the danger of microwaving food, and let me tell you it’s pretty serious stuff.

 

Did you know that:

  • Nutrients that are microwaved are severely reduced.
  • Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam, which heats your food. While this can rapidly heat your food it also causes a change in your food’s chemical structure (Source)
  • Some microwaves can leak radiation into the environment.

If you use a microwave to cook or heat up food, I am sure you are thinking that you can’t live without it!

 

But YOU CAN! People lived without microwaves for hundreds of years before us, and their are plenty who manage to today. With all of the processed nonsense that is already genetically modified into our food, do we really need a microwave to deplete even MORE nutrients, and cause even MORE health concerns? Definitely not.

 

Putting all the health concerns to the side, has anyone ever had a fabulous quality and memorable meal that was made in the microwave? Anything I ever had was not cooked all the way through, still half frozen or way too hot.

 

Again, you are probably thinking, “But it makes life so much easier!” Does it really though? Anything that can be made in a microwave can be just as easily done on a stovetop, or in the oven. Will it take a little more time? Yes, but a little extra time for a good quality meal, and long-term health is worth it for me.

 

Obviously there have been a few times where I wish I could just warm up my coffee, heat up some soup or pop some popcorn, but you know what? I can deal with that.

 

It may not be easy, but living a microwave free life is possible for anyone. You just have to make a few lifestyle adjustments:

 

How to Live Microwave Free

 

Pre-Plan

Remember to take out the meat (or whatever you are making the next day) out of the freezer the day before. If you forget, try defrosting it with cold water.

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Buy a Kettle

Instead of heating up water for coffee or tea in the microwave, buy a kettle. They are inexpensive, last for years and provide you with boiling hot water within minutes!

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Use the Stove or Oven

Don’t be scared it’s simple. Add a little water to loosen up cold food, turn the stove on med-high, and stir contents periodically until they have reached the desired level of heat and consistency.

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If you need to reheat bread, potatoes or pizza pop them into the toaster oven or regular oven. They will taste better and be crispier!

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What do you think? Could you live microwave free?

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Intense Workout & A Special Package

Hey everyone!

How’s everyone doing on this fine morning? Only one more day until the weekend! Word on the street is that it’s going to be sunny and hot! I can’t wait! :)

Intense Workout

Yesterday I really challenged myself at the gym and took a new running class that is being offered. Well it’s not technically new, just new to me! There is no separate room for this class, it is simply done in the middle of gym on a few selected treadmills.  The instructor stands in front of the treadmills and directs the class on when to increase or decrease the resistance and speed.

The class only allows for about 6 people or less so the instructor is able to give everyone her attention, and trust me she did! This class was a total killer, but I loved it! It’s so different (and more beneficial in my opinion) when you have someone pushing you to increase your speed/resistance while on the treadmill. It’s not like being outside, where the hills are inevitable and your speed is sometimes altered to road conditions, bumps or the weather.

Quite frankly, running on treadmill is often more like running on the dreadmill, due to the monotony of running in place and not getting anywhere!  I really enjoyed this class even though half way through I was questioning why I would ever put myself through this kind of torture, haha! I was drenched in sweat by the time it was done, but I felt accomplished! Can’t wait for next week to do it all over again!

A Special Package

Look what I got in the mail the other day!

A package from WILD HARVEST, with a bunch of yummy ingredients in it! Yay! Since I am attending the Healthy Living Summit this year in Boston, I entered into the 2012 WILD HARVEST Blogger Recipe Contest.

Basically, I have to create a healthy breakfast recipe with 3 or more of the ingreidients given to me in the package. I can’t wait to get started!

Let’s just say I already have a few tasty idea’s up my sleeve ;-)

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Have a great day!

What are your thoughts on running on the treadmill? Like it? Hate it? Indifferent? 

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McDonald's New Healthy Drink?

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This morning as I was browsing through some articles, one in particular caught my eye. Apparently McDonalds is launching a new drink  for kids that is suppose to be a “healthy” alternative to soda. McDonald’s claims that this new beverage called “Fruitizz” gives children one serving of fruits and vegetables for the day.

In the article they state that they have spent three years developing a drink which “excites children, but also delivers nutritional benefits”. But can this really be healthy when a large 500 mL cup contains 200 calories and 49 grams of sugar? 

Although it does contain less sugar than a 500mL serving of Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Sprite,that’s not the point. McDonald’s is marketing this beverage as a healthy alternative, and to me that’s just wrong. Since when does a “healthy alternative” get dispensed out of the same soda machine as coke, pepsi and other sodas?

I understand that McDonald’s has taken certain measures to offer healthier choices on their menu, as well as provide nutritional information and I think that is GREAT, but let’s be serious. McDonald’s is a fast-food burger joint, with very little healthy or nutritious offerings on their menu. Most of their customers are fast food lovers, who regularly consume their burgers, happy meals, fries, shakes, nuggets etc.

McDonald’s meals do not provide anyone (especially children) with much nutritional value whatsoever. Their food is loaded with processed JUNK, that should not be fed to our children, point blank. I’m aware of the fact that McDonald’s now offers apple slices and milk as substitue with their happy meals, but the apple slices come with a sugary caramel dipping sauce, and the milk is probably not organic.

I’m not saying that a happy meal every once in a blue moon is going to kill anyone, but, it is not a substantially nutritious meal, nor is anything that they offer. To me, Fruitizz is not a healthy alternative to soda, therefore it shouldn’t be falsely marketed to make people believe that it is. They might as well call it what it is! Another carbonated, sugary beverage that is  pretty much equal to fruit punch!

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What’s your take on McDonald’s new beverage?

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Whole Wheat Italian Biscotti

I am constantly brainstorming ways to make traditional recipes healthier, while being careful not to sacrifice taste. Italian biscotti are already on the healthier side as far as cookies go, but with just a few ingredient tweaks and swaps, they are now even healthier (and tastier too)! For this version, I substituted whole wheat flour for white flour, reduced the sugar in half, and added a teaspoon of vanilla for some extra kick!

The result is, an easy to make, crunchy but still slightly moist, healthy and delicious cookie! It’s perfect with a morning cup of coffee, as an afternoon pick me up or a late night snack. :)

Whole Wheat Italian Biscotti

Yields 1 log (approximately 12 large cookies).

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and let cool. Once cooled, mix eggs sugar, baking, powder and vanilla into a bowl. Continue to mix and slowly add in butter a little at a time. Create a round well with the flour, and slowly add mixture into the well. Slowly stir the mixture in the well with two fingers until it turns into a dough like texture.

Knead the dough and form it into a 12 inch log (*Optional: sprinkle some extra sugar on top of the log before baking). Place log onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the log from the oven and let cool for about 1 hour.

Using a serrated knife, diagonally cut the log into 1 inch angled slices, and place back into the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (or until the inside of the cookies have hardened.) *Note*Pictured are two logs because I doubled this recipe when I made it.

Enjoy!

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What do you do to make a recipe healthier without sacrificing taste?

 

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Chicken and Broccoli Quiche Recipe

Holy Yum! I have another delicious recipe for you guys to try, and no it’s not oven roasted brussel sprouts this time, but it’s still good, trust me! Introducing: My FAVORITE Chicken and Broccoli Quiche recipe EVER! I absolutely love almost any type of quiche because they are quick and easy to make, can stay in the fridge for a few days and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner! It doesn’t get much better than that, I hope you guys like it as much as I do!

Chicken & Broccoli Quiche

Makes one whole quiche 

Ingredients 

  • 1 nine inch pie shell, unbaked
  • 1 cup of cooked chicken breast, cut
  • 1 cup of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  •  3 eggs beaten
  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
  • A dash of nutmeg

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Whip eggs and add milk to blend
  • Combine remaining ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell, but make sure to leave out about 1/3 of the cheese
  • Sprinkle remainder of cheese along the top of the mixture
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean
  • Enjoy!

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Do you like quiche? What is your favorite type?

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Chobani Yogurt Banana Bread

I’ve been craving banana bread for weeks now, but haven’t been able to make it due to the lack of overly ripe bananas in my house. Luckily, this week I had a few leftover brown bananas that were just perfect for baking. I ceased the opportunity as quickly as possible because as much as I LOVE the taste of banana bread, I love the SMELL of it baking in the oven even more! This time,as the banana bread was baking I was still excited to smell the rich aroma, but quite a bit nervous to taste it. This was my first attempt at baking a yogurt banana bread loaf, and I was a little skeptic as to how it would turn out. Fortunately, the banana bread Gods were smiling down on me, because it was a huge success! This banana bread tastes more moist than an average loaf, and also contains a nice boost of protein! What more could you ask for?

Chobani Yogurt Banana Bread

Ingredients

Yields 1 full loaf

  • 1 & 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 3)
  • 1 container(6oz) of Chobani Greek 0% yogurt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease the bottom of a 9×5 inch loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl,beat all of the ingredients except the nuts with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed and then continue to beat for 45 seconds (make sure to scrape the bowl frequently).
  • Once all the ingredients are fully beaten, stir in the nuts.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely for 1 hour before cutting.

Enjoy! :)

Have you ever used yogurt when baking? How so?

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Three Cheers for CHO!

Can you imagine how excited I was when this package was delivered to my front door a few days ago?!

The generous folks over at Chobani found out how much I LOVE their yogurt, and offered to send me a 12- cup sample of their 3 newest flavors!

 

Of course I accepted, I mean how could I resist an opportunity to fuel my yogurt addiction ? ;-)

I don’t know about you but I love sampling food, especially food that I’m pretty sure I will like! They sent me the blood orange, apple cinnamon and passion fruit flavors, all of which were nothing but good!

I was immediately drawn to the apple cinnamon flavor, so I made sure to get a taste right away! Oh.Em.Gee. This stuff is heavenly! I’ll have to admit, I was scared about these new flavors being a little too sweet for my liking, but I’m glad I was all wrong. The creamy texture and tangy-ness makes the apple cinnamon flavor taste like an apple pie yogurt! It definitely my new favorite! Second on my list is the blood orange flavor, then the passion fruit. The passion fruit is quite interesting because it has the little seeds in it, which gives it a nice crunch. I’m glad I got to sample these because I’ve always loved Chobani, but now that they’ve come out with these unique new flavors, I love them even more! :)

I can totally see myself enjoying one of these flavors as a nice afternoon pick me up, or as a post workout snack that tastes like dessert! Up to this point if someone were to ask me what my favorite flavor of Chobani was, I would have went with the plain. Although I do still LOVE the plain, I now have a few new flavors to add to my favorites list! These new items will definitely become regulars in my fridge.

Chobani you have won my heart over once again!

Thank you!

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Have you tried any of Chobani’s new flavors?

What is your favorite CHO flavor?

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