What is Steff-stainability?

Living sustainably, my way. It's thinking about what you are putting into your body and how it affects you. But it's also indulging in a brownie cheesecake every now and then. It's making your body look the way you want it to and being proud of it. But it's not spending half of the day working out. It's about making small changes in your life to benefit the great earth on which we live. But it's also running your A/C in the summer and driving your car. It's about setting goals and living up to them. It's trying to make the world a better place. And as I am ever-learning and ever-changing, so is this definition.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tips to stay active!

I know.


I'm the worst blogger ever.

I'm sorry.

But I swear I've been busy! Work has really picked up, and I've started on my path to get into the M.S. in Nutritional Sciences at SDSU! I'm currently taking all the prereqs for the program (surprisingly, my B.A. in History didn't have a lot of classes that applied), and I just finished my first class online and am 2 weeks away from finishing my second class. ALSO, I signed up for a half marathon at Disneyland in January. Super exciting!

Anyway, I thought I would bring the blog back with some tips to stay active throughout the day. Everyone knows that eating healthy and exercising throughout the day will help you stay healthy and lose weight. However, there are tons of people who "don't have time to exercise" or have reached a plateau in their weight loss. This is where increasing your metabolic rate throughout the day helps.

Now, our bodies pretty much determine our own metabolic rate, but we can help that along. First of all, if you're sitting instead of lying down, you have a higher metabolic rate. If you're standing, even higher, and if you're walking around, that's even better! In fact, studies have shown that people who stand for 60% of their day burn an extra 32 POUNDS A YEAR than people who sit for 60% of their day.

Here are some ideas to increase your metabolic rate in your daily activities:
  • While at work, ask your boss if you can have an adjustable standing desk, so you can do some of your work standing up. Try standing at work more than sitting.
  • Some offices have even invested in treadmills under their desks, so they are walking while they work! This can be a very slow walk; remember, this is a way to increase your metabolic rate, not a replacement for working out!
  • Choose the restroom that is farthest away from your workplace. If you work right next to the restroom, walk around the whole office before and after going to it.
  • While watching TV at home, stand up and walk around during commercials. If you have a Bosu, flip it over and stand on it during the commercials. If you have a stability ball, sit on the Bosu while watching TV or reading.
  • Walk around while you're talking on the phone.
  • If you're reading, stand up and walk around every few pages. If you're feeling froggy, you can wall-sit for a few minutes while you read.
  • If you're in meetings all day, use your break time to walk around, and if you can walk up and down stairs, that's even better.
  • Come up with your own ways to fit more activity in your life! It will help you commit to it if it's your own idea. In every situation in your day, think to yourself, what can I be doing to become more active?
This will really help make a difference in your weight loss, weight maintenance, and your overall health. Give it a try!

Inspiration for this entry is from Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico, who gave an AWESOME talk about this topic at the ACSM Health and Fitness Summit this last April.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lose as much weight as possible in the shortest amount of time, all while reducing your risk of heart disease and feeling better about yourself!

Sounds too good to be true, right?

In this day and age, everyone is looking for that "silver bullet." That magic pill that will make you skinny and let you eat whatever you want. People are always looking for advice on how to burn the most amount of calories possible in the shortest amount of time, and they do silly things like cutting carbs out of their diet, consuming only liquids, or not eating fruits and vegetables. Really?!

Well, I have the answer for you. The fail-proof method to "be healthy." Ready?

150 minutes of cardio per week. 2-3 days of weight training per week. Eat 500 less calories per day than your body needs. And BOOM. You lose 1 pound per week.

This is literally all you need to do. I went to a fitness summit hosted by American College of Sports Medicine a few weeks ago, and what I learned is that people are always looking for little shortcuts to get an edge on their weight loss. "What kind of supplements should I take?" "Do those shaper shoes really work?" "Should I eat before or after exercising to burn the most calories?" "Should I do cardio or weight training first?" And the answer is: It REALLY doesn't matter in the long run.

Supplements really aren't sustainable because they cost lots of money. So you start using them, get used to working out with them, and then you realize you can't afford them anymore. And then you're back to square one.

There is no study that proves that shaper shoes really do tone your legs and butt, nor is there a study that proves they burn more calories. As it was put by a podiatrist at the summit, the only thing I can think of is that they burn more calories because they are REALLY heavy shoes.

Exercising before eating does, in fact, burn more calories. However, if you exercise before you eat, you won't have the energy stored up to use while exercising. Therefore, you can't work out as hard or as long, and it ends up evening out in the long run. A nutritionist at the summit actually recommended a small amount of Saltine crackers and Gatorade before a workout because of their ability to break down quickly and be used for energy.

Doing weight training before cardio, in theory, will use all your energy you have ready, so when you start cardio, you burn your stored fat instead. This is true. However, if you weight train before cardio, your muscles will be fatigued, and again, you won't be able to do as much. So again, it evens out in the long run.

The only technique to lose weight that is proven time and time again by scientists is 150 minutes of cardio per week, 2-3 days of weight training per week, and 500 less calories than your body needs per day. If you are severely overweight, you can get away with 1000 less calories, but no more than that.

It's a long and grueling process. Often times, it takes a few weeks to see a change. But "being healthy" isn't a short-term process. It isn't a miracle diet. It's a complete change of lifestyle. That means you have to give up certain things, and it means you need to have some foods only in moderation. But in the long run, it's SO much more important to be healthy than to eat the other half of that box of Oreos, or to get that extra hour of sleep instead of going to the gym in the morning. Do what's right for you and your body.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Veggie Sandwiches

In an effort to save money, the hubs and I have started trying to eat more vegetarian meals. We love vegetables but we don't always know the best recipes for a meal that is fully vegetarian. This recipe is a variation of a veggie sandwich recipe I saw on allrecipes.com. I made my own flatbread with a recipe I usually use for pizza dough, but it always comes out so good that I just want to eat the crust! The flatbread/pizza dough recipe is great because it's quick. There's no rise time; you just mix the ingredients and bake it!

Flatbread/Pizza Dough

3 cups flour
1 package yeast
1 tsp salt
1 TBL sugar
Dried thyme and basil (optional)
1 cup warm water (~110 degrees F)
2 TBL vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt sugar, thyme, and basil. Add the water and vegetable oil and stir to combine. When it starts to seem like there isn't enough liquid for it to fully combine, start using your hands to knead the dough. On a floured surface (I just use my pizza stone), roll out the dough and transfer to the baking sheet if you haven't already done so. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

While the flatbread is baking, you can get the vegetables ready. You can basically use whatever you like; we used zucchini, yellow squash, 1/2 red onion, and mushrooms. I also think that peppers or tomatoes would taste delicious. We chopped the zucchini and squash width-wise and the red onion so that it became strips, and put them on the grill (definitely use a grill platter so they don't fall!). Brush them with olive oil so they don't char and cook them for about 15 minutes. We sauteed the mushrooms in some olive oil with salt and pepper.

When everything is done, you can put it all together. Cheese is also a good idea here; we have some fantastic sage cheddar that we got from the farmers market, so we used that as well.
This recipe is delicious and I really hope you give it a try! Please enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blogger Fail and Driving Cars

Yes, I know. I fail at keeping my blog updated. I had a good excuse for part of the time I've been away - 4 of my closest friends came to visit for a week for another wives reunion! I had a blast chatting with the girls and showing them around beautiful southern California, and the time I spent with my girlfriends (and the time our 2 Japan girls spent trying to get on a flight to see us!) reminded me how true friends make sacrifices for each other and when they get together, it's like no time has passed.

Anyway, that's no excuse for the fact that I've been gone for 3 weeks. I've just been lazy. But here I am, back at the computer, and ready to talk to you about my husband's favorite subject - cars!

So, let's say for your 18th birthday, your parents buy you a brand spankin' new car. It's perfect. It has everything you want, it's customized completely for you, and it has the capability to have an extremely long lifespan. Here's the catch: this is the only car you will drive for the rest of your life.

So would you get the oil changed regularly? Be sure to take it to the mechanic at every tune-up mileage? Pay for preventative maintenance and at the slightest sign of a problem make sure it is solved? Drive it safely and carefully? It IS the only car you'll ever have, after all.

Most people would have answered yes to all these questions. "Of course I would take care of a car I'd drive for the rest of my life," they say. "It's not like I can replace it."

What else might you have that you'll only have one of for the rest of your life?

What about your body? Unless you have some crazy superpower, your body is the only one you'll have for your whole life. Yet, people don't take preventative care of their body, and if something is wrong, they don't fix it. It's not like you can trade it out or sell it to replace it with a new one when it gets old and stops working.

So take care of your body! Pay attention to what you are putting in it, and what you are putting it through. We have evolved/were created to eat certain foods, foods that are absent in many people's diets. It's like your car is designed for 92 octane fuel but you put in 87 because it's cheaper.

Diet and exercise are two of the most important steps in preventative care for your body. If you would pay a little extra to keep your car in good shape, why wouldn't you do the same for your body?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade potato chips

I'm a sucker for potato chips. When it comes to junk food, potato chips are my vice. However, as you know, chips can be very high in calories and saturated fat. Here is a recipe for homemade potato chips that cuts down on the things that are bad for you but satisfies that craving.

4 Yukon gold or russet potatoes
Olive oil
Seasoning of your choice, fresh herbs, or just salt and pepper

Slice the potatoes lengthwise very thin, about the thickness of two quarters stacked on one another. In a bowl, combine olive oil (and herbs if you are using them). Dump the potato slices into the bowl and toss to coat completely with olive oil. Lay out flat on a baking sheet covered in foil. Coat the top side with seasoning and salt and pepper and cook in oven at 375 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and flip each slice over.sprinkle more seasoning and return to oven for another 10 minutes, or until the chips start to brown. Remove from oven and serve!

Some ideas for seasoning: Cajun spice mix, Rosemary and garlic, seasoning salt and pepper, chili powder cayenne pepper and brown sugar (spicy sweet), or just plain salt and pepper.

Please enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Salmon Bruscetta

When I wrote my blog entry earlier this week, I got to thinking about how, when I started MyFitnessPal, I actually had trouble eating enough calories to keep up with my workout routine. That's because when it comes to most of my meals, I eat unprocessed food. With the exception of peanut butter, bread, and a few other miscellaneous items, if it comes in a cardboard box or a plastic bag, I generally don't eat it. (Not gonna lie, I ate a box of Girl Scout cookies to myself) So when it comes to the big meals, I eat very low-calorie food.

Now, I don't expect everyone to do this. However, my point is that if you are looking to lose weight or eat a little healthier, cutting down on your processed foods is probably a good idea. Most of my recipes on here are, of course, very low on processed food. Here's another recipe to add to your low-calorie, high flavor arsenal. It's a little more useful over the summer, when the tomatoes are in season, but we are still getting semi-decent tomatoes down here in SoCal. So I thought I would share one of my favorite quick and easy recipes, Salmon Bruscetta.

Ingredients (for 2 people)
1/2-3/4 lb salmon
3 tomatoes, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 handful basil, roughly chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 (or grill, your choice).
In a small mixing bowl, toss together the tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly mixed. Be sure to add enough olive oil to coat the ingredients, but not so much that it's soupy or drenched.
On a baking sheet, lay out enough foil to surround the salmon. Place the salmon on the foil, and then add the bruscetta mixture. Wrap the foil around the salmon and bruscetta. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Note: This recipe tastes best when fresh tomatoes and salmon are used. If you can't get your salmon from a fresh fish market, get it from the fresh fish section of the grocery store, NOT the frozen ones on the shelves. Take it from my experience, it doesn't taste good!!
Please enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm back and I have news - Carbs are your friend!

I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth, I swear. I've been drowning in the depths of personal training certification exams, job searching, and now getting my body used to waking up at 4:30 AM to train earlybird clients. It's been about 3 weeks (and a thousand cups of coffee) since I started my new job and I'm finally getting used to the busy life again. Life is good.

I return to my blog with renewed goals - blog-related, professional, and educational. I'm excited to announce that I'm starting on my path to earn my master's degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutritional Sciences. This means that over the next 1.5 years, I get to take all those "fun" classes in college I managed to avoid, like various Chemistry classes, as well as microbiology and physiology. Yay. Sarcasm aside, I'm really excited to begin this journey; I believe it will better equip me with the knowledge to inform other people how to better their health and fitness, especially you, my readers! I'm also accessing resources to help give my clients a better workout, and I try to find fun and new exercises every week to keep changing things up. Finally, my goal is to start updating this thing at least biweekly, always adding to my arsenal of healthy, tasty recipes and safe health and fitness tips.

Which brings me to the point of this post. When I ask my clients what they are doing for their diet, the word "carbs" is almost always used, and not in a positive way. Here's the thing. Carbohydrates are your primary source of energy, and should be the main part of your diet, whether you are trying to lose weight or not. The basis of the low-carb fad that has swept the nation is that people eat too many carbs and should cut back. This may be the case for some people, but in my opinion (which is backed up by numerous sources), the issue is not carb intake on its own, but overall calorie intake as a whole.

American College of Sports Medicine and the USDA recommend that 65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. 25% should come from fat, and the remaining 10-15% should come from protein. As a whole, to maintain a healthy body weight and provide ample energy stores for your body, you should not consume more than the recommended calorie intake for your age, height, weight, and activity level. If you are trying to lose weight, you should really be no more than at a 500-calorie deficit per day, which will allow you to safely lose 1 pound per week.

I know. Too many numbers. Here's my suggestion. Check out MyFitnessPal, an online calorie counter. You can even download it as an app for iPhone. It completely breaks down exactly how many grams of each nutrient you should be eating every day, from carbohydrates and fat to sodium, cholesterol, and vitamin C. It's 100% tailored for you, because you enter in your age, weight, height, activity level, and how much weight you are looking to lose. It comes up with a daily calorie count based on this information, and it's the same number that I would come up with from using the ACSM-approved equation.

Here's the cool part. You eat a bowl of Kellogg's Corn Flakes with 1% milk for breakfast and wash it down with a glass of Tropicana orange juice. You type in "Kellogg's Corn Flakes" and up pops the calorie count (with a breakdown of the nutrients) of one serving. You add it to your diary and it deducts the calories from the amount that you need for the rest of the day. If it doesn't have the nutrition information available, you can add it in yourself. You can also add in workouts that you have done for the day, which will add to the calories you need to consume for the day. It's a safe and effective way to lose or maintain your weight, and make sure that you are getting all the nutrients you need.

It can get laborious to enter in everything you eat, day after day. Some people aren't into calorie counting; it feels like someone nagging at you all day about what you are eating. Here's my challenge: Do it for 3 days. On the first day, eat everything that you normally eat and record it. You'll find yourself thinking of your portion sizes, which, in my opinion, is the largest cause of weight gain. You need to know exactly how much you ate to get the accurate calorie count, so you'll find yourself thinking "how many cups of cereal did I have?" and "how many handfuls of chips did I go for?" Be as honest and as accurate as you can. No one else is going to see your calorie count, and it's only going to help you. At the end of the day, see where you are in relation to where you should be.

Day 2: If your calorie count is over where it should be, think of how you can reduce it. Smaller portion sizes, substitute processed foods with raw foods (which by nature generally have less calories), cut out soda (liquid calories add up very quickly), whatever it takes. Be as accurate as possible with your portion sizes. See where you are at the end of the day.

Day 3: Try to replicate your diet from the previous day, but without recording what you eat. Try to eyeball the portion sizes, and remember that carbs are your friend. It will help get your food intake under control without being a slave to your calorie counter.

Try to eat the same portions of foods every day. Then you don't have to count it, but you know that you are around your target calorie intake for the day. Moderation is key. Losing weight does not have to mean (and shouldn't mean) starving yourself, or depriving yourself of things that you want. It means taking it in moderation, and making sure you are getting the nutrients you need to sustain energy. A balanced diet is the easiest and safest way to lose weight, and to keep it off. A balanced diet, once you've figured out how to achieve it, is a lifestyle change that you can adopt even when you're done losing weight, because it doesn't require you do to silly things like turning your burger buns into lettuce. All it asks for is to give your body what it needs. And what your body needs is