Have a Healthier Happy New Year (recipe)

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.00.59 AMWill you celebrate 2014 with a glass of champagne?  If you are watching your weight, a single glass of bubbly won’t do too much damage.  Champagne contains about 91 calories per serving.  But if you start celebrating early and have several glasses, the calories can add up. And who wants to start the new year feeling groggy?

If you plan to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, consider making a healthy sparkling cocktail to share with friends and family.  This non-alcoholic drink contains only 39 calories and it’s a beverage that everyone can enjoy.  The recipe is part of the MyPlate Holiday Recipe Makeover program.  Check out all of the healthy recipes to serve throughout the year.

(click on the recipe to see a larger, downloadable recipe to print out)

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How to Make a S.M.A.R.T Resolution

Are you going to make a resolution?

Are you going to make a resolution?

Will you make a New Year’s resolution next week?  January is a great time to evaluate your health and set goals for the future.  But if you want your resolution to last, you should follow a few simple guidelines.  Goals that are S.M.A.R.T. are goals that are more likely to last.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Guidelines

The S.M.A.R.T. system for setting goals is widely accepted by coaches, trainers and lifestyle experts as an effective way to develop successful resolutions.  Start with a general idea of the target you’d like to reach in 2014 and then refine your goal according to these five criteria:

Specific.  If weight loss is your aim in 2014, define a specific amount of weight that you’d like to lose.  Your doctor may be able to help you come up with a number.  If your weight affects your health, your health care team may be able to give you an idea of the amount of weight you should lose to make a real difference to your health.

Measurable.  You should track your progress on the journey to reaching your goal.  To do this, your goal needs to be measurable.  For dieters, a weight loss goal of 1-2 pounds per week is both reasonable and measurable.

Achievable.  Try not to set goals that you are not likely to reach. For example, if you’ve never been able to lose more than 10 pounds, a weight loss goal of 50 pounds is probably not achievable.  Evaluate your previous weight loss history to come up with a reasonable, attainable goal.  Once you reach that goal, you can set a new goal to lose more.

Results-focused.  How will you know if you have reached your goal?  Define a specific result that you’d like to see. For example, a new exerciser might set a goal to walk on a treadmill every day until she can walk continuously for 30 minutes.  A dieter might try to reach a specific body mass index (BMI) or weight goal.

Time Bound.  Set a schedule for your goal.  For example, instead of setting a goal to “lose weight in 2014,”  set a time-bound goal to lose 1-2 pounds per week to reach a weight loss goal of 20 pounds in 3 months.

Remember that there are plenty of weight loss resources at North Memorial Medical Center to help you reach your health goals in 2014. Connect with us to find out more about how your weight affects your health, to get a referral to see a registered dietitian or to find out more about the activity programs available through the Institute for Athletic Medicine.

Drink Less to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

file0001315424408Are you worried about holiday weight gain? Researchers estimate that the typical gain is less than we expect in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  But even though we only gain about 1-3 pounds on average, we often don’t take the weight off after the new year has arrived.  So it’s important to prevent holiday weight gain.

Beware of High Calorie Drinks

One of the worst culprits during the Christmas season is egg nog.  The calories in egg nog can reach 300 or more depending on how you prepare your drink and the size of your cup.  You can make lower calorie alternatives with fat-free milk or egg substitute, but if you add alcohol to your recipe, the calorie count will stay relatively high.

But egg nog isn’t the only drink that can tip the calorie scales too far in the wrong direction.  Many alcoholic drinks have quite a few calories as well.  The calories in a glass of wine can be over 200 if your glass is the size that is served in many restaurants.  And the calories in beer can be substantial as well, ranging from 55 for light beer to 200 for some heavy dark beers.

Skinny Cocktails? Get the Facts!

Think skinny cocktails are better?  Think again!  Many “skinny” brands of cocktails advertise that they have less than 100 calories per serving, but you need to check the Nutrition Facts label to get the whole story.  A single serving of many products is only 1.5 ounces.  That is just over the size of a typical shot glass.

If you are trying to keep your calorie intake under control this week, consider backing off on the booze.  Then enjoy a guilt-free treat or two from the cookie tray instead.

Stay Fit and Healthy When You Fly

planeAre you traveling this weekend?  Over the next few days, airports will be packed with busy flyers heading home to see their families for the holidays. If you are one of them, use these tips from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to stay fit and healthy when you fly.

  • Don’t just sit there. Moving around before you board will make you feel better in the long run, and also help limit your risk of air-related health problems, including blood clots and jet lag.  Walk around the terminal, sneak in a few sit-ups, or even try some quick equipment free moves, like mountain climbers, push-ups or squats.
  • Use what you’ve got. Prefer to exercise with weights?  Take advantage of what you have with you – your carry-on bag.  The average bag weighs approximately eight pounds, and that’s without all of your belongings inside.  Instead of wheeling it down the terminal, carry it as you walk to add some extra resistance.
  • A little research goes a long way.  Miss going to the gym?  Many airports across the country have exercise facilities, including walking paths and even yoga rooms, on-site, and some airport hotels will let you use their gyms by purchasing a day pass.  A quick internet search will let you know if you’re traveling to or from one of these fitness-ready airports, so plan ahead and pack your workout clothes.
  • Keep moving in the air.  Pick an aisle seat, so you can easily get up and move about the cabin (when the seat belt sign is off, of course), and engage in simple stretching moves to keep your blood flowing, whether in your seat or in the back of the plane.  Work on your lower body by doing ankle rolls, toe taps and mini calf raises, and keep your upper body loose with arm, shoulder and neck stretches.

Once you arrive at your destination, use our list of creative workout solutions to stay active with family members throughout the holiday season.

7 Fun Holiday Workout Solutions

Most of exercise less during the holidays. Who has time to go to the gym when there are family gatherings to attend, school parties to visit, and holiday shopping to finish. It’s no surprise that our workouts fall to the bottom of the priority list in December.

Why Exercise Matters More During the Holidays

But the holidays are when exercise matters more.  Physical activity will help to alleviate stress, burn extra calories from holiday parties, and may even help you sleep better at night.  Fun physical activities might also help you to spend time bonding with family members and friends.

7 Fun Holiday Workout Solutions

So how do you get more physical activity during the holidays?  Use these ideas to stay healthy and fit during the hectic holiday season.

  • Schedule a group walk before family meals.
  • Meet friends for yoga class instead of happy hour
  • Rent skates and burn calories on the ice (indoors or out)
  • Learn to cross country ski with your kids
  • Do quick mini strength workouts at home
  • Take the kids to the community pool to swim laps and burn off steam
  • Enjoy a morning mall walk before shopping (the distance around one complete level at the Mall of American is .57 miles)
  • Do an online yoga class (try this quick 10-minute Beginner Yoga to de-stress and improve flexbility)

Need more incentive to workout?  Listen to this short video by North Memorial’s Leslie Norton MD about the health benefits of exercise.

Leslie Norton Importance of Exercise

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.





Holiday Plate Makeovers to Keep Your Holidays Healthy

Don’t gain weight this holiday season!  There are simple food swaps and recipe makeovers that you can use to keep your calorie and fat intake in control. Use online tips, recipes, and ideas from ChooseMyPlate.gov to keep your diet on track this holiday season. Calorie counts are listed below, but click on the links for the full recipe and nutritional information.

Need a few quick food swaps for eating on the go? This great infographic provides simple tips for eating a healthier diet during the holidays – and all year long!

(p.s. You should also be sure to find us on facebook for more recipes, tips and advice to keep you motivated during the holidays)