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Monday, November 23, 2015

Tip of the Week: Thanksgiving Food Swaps to Save Calories

Thanksgiving may be the day to ditch your diet and indulge in your favorite holiday foods, but making a few simple changes to your holiday menu can actually save you up to 2,000 calories - without skimping on the flavor. 
The average American will consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving according to the Calorie Control Council, which found that 3,000 calories come from an indulgent  turkey dinner alone while another 1,500 calories can be attributed to hors d'oeuvres and boozy beverages.
However, a few ingredients swaps will ensure that you will enjoy all of your favorite foods while still being able to button your pants on Black Friday. An infographic from the calorie-counting app My Fitness Pal shows that that slightly altering your Thanksgiving menu can help you save hundreds - or even thousands - of calories this year. 

 Great idea: Calorie-counting app and website My Fitness Pal has created an handy infographic featuring Thanksgiving holiday food swaps. Trading dark turkey meat for some turkey breast will save you 50 calories 

Secret recipe: One cup of mashed potatoes made with two per cent milk, nonfat Greek yogurt, and three tablespoons butter has 108 calories less than traditional recipes
Same flavor: One fourth a cup of traditional gravy made from turkey drippings, which has 131 calories and 9g of fat, can easily be swapped for one four a cup of prepared low-sodium gravy mix

 Swap dark meat for white meat
Dark turkey meat has nearly twice the fat of white turkey breast and about 40 per cent more calories. Replacing three ounces of dark turkey meat and skin, which has 147 calories and 5g of fat, with a three ounce turkey breast with skin will save you 50 calories and 2g of fat. 

Swap traditional mashed potatoes for a lighter recipe made with Greek yogurt 
Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple that is almost as common turkey, but traditional recipes include mounds of heavy cream and butter. 
While a cup of homestyle mashed potatoes has 220 calories and 18g of fat, a similar recipe made with two per cent milk, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and only three tablespoons of butter has only 112 calories and 6g of fat. 

Swap Greek yogurt for sour cream when making dip 
Using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream is another great way to save calories when making Thanksgiving appetizers. While an ounce of sour cream has appropriately 54 calories, the same amount of plain nonfat Greek yogurt has about 16 calories. 
Knowing that you are saving 38 calories per serving will make anyone feel better about going in for another scoop of dip. 

Swap traditional gravy for low-sodium gravy mix
While it is undoubtedly delicious, adding a few ladles of gravy to your plate is an easy way to rack of the calories. 
One fourth a cup of traditional gravy made from turkey drippings, which has 131 calories and 9g of fat, can easily be swapped for one four a cup of prepared low-sodium gravy mix. 
And the subtle trade will save you 106 calories and 8g of fat. 
Swap classic sweet potato casserole for a baked sweet potato
Sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows are another Thanksgiving favorite, however, a cup of the classic casserole packs 558 calories and 9g of fat. 
Having one small baked sweet potato topped with one teaspoon of brown sugar and one teaspoon of chopped pecans will save you a whopping 420 calories and one teaspoon of shopped pecans will leave you with 420 calories and 7g of fat that you can save for dessert. 

Sugary sweet: Have a baked sweet potato topped with brown sugar and chopped pecans instead of sweet potato casserole with marshmallows to save a whopping 420 calories 

Family favorite: Green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup and topped with fried onions has 235 calories and 15g of fat per cup, but sauteed green beans with fried onions only have 91 calories
 Healthier ingredients: Using fat-free buttermilk instead of whole milk and half the required amount of butter will help you shed 100 calories from your stuffing recipe 

Swap green bean casserole for sauteed green beans
One cup of traditional green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup and topped with fried onions has 235 calories and 15g of fat, but if you get creative and saute a cup of green beans in one teaspoon of butter and top it with one tablespoon of fried onions, you save 144 calories and 9g of fat. 

Swap traditional cornbread stuffing for a lighter recipe made with fat-free buttermilk 
Stuffing and turkey go hand in hand on Thanksgiving, but one cup of cornbread stuffing made with whole milk and butter has 470 calories and 17g of fat. However, one cup of the same stuffing prepared with fat-free buttermilk and half the butter of the traditional recipe only has 319 calories and 11g of fat.
This clever swap can also be done with other bread stuffing recipes in order to create a healthier side dish.

Healthier option: Swapping canned cranberry sauce for cranberry relish will save on calories and sugar 

 No-brainer: While one slice of pecan pie has 806 calories and 25g of fat, a slice of pumpkin has only 265 calories and 9g of fat 

 Swap canned cranberry sauce for cranberry relish  
Those who love cranberry sauce, but are looking to save on the calories and sugar that come along with the sweet dish, should consider substituting cranberry relish for the popular side.
While one fourth a cup of canned cranberry sauce has 105 calories and 26g of sugar, one four a cup of raw cranberry relish has only 67 calories and 12g of sugar.

Swap pecan pie for pumpkin pie
Pecan pie and pumpkin pie are both Thanksgiving favorites, however, one of these desserts is far healthier than the other. 
Swapping one slice of pecan pie, which has 806 calories and 25g of fat, with one slice of pumpkin pie will save you a whopping 541 calories and 16g of fat. 
With only about 265 calories and 9g of fat per slice, pumpkin pie is one of the few holiday desserts you don't have to feel guilty about. 

Decadent dessert: A baked apple made with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and topped with whipped cream is a healthy replacement for a slice of apple pie à la mode - which packs 619 calories and 24g of fat

Swap slice of apple pie à la mode with one baked apple topped with whipped cream
Warm apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream is another beloved Thanksgiving dessert, but one slice paired with one third a cup of ice cream has approximately 448 calories and 19g of fat. 
However, one baked apple made with one tablespoon brown sugar, one teaspoon of butter, one teaspoon of cinnamon and topped with one tablespoon of whipped cream has the same delicious taste with only about a quarter of the calories. 
The clever substitute only has 171 calories and 5g of fat. 

Swap eggnog for apple cider 
Most people to tend to indulge in at least one holiday beverage on Thanksgiving, but you may want to think twice before filling your glass with eggnog. One cup of the creamy beverage has 223 calories and 11g of fat. 
If you are feeling festive, reach for a glass of apple cider, which only has 120 calories and zero fat per cup.   

Swap a glass of wine with a wine spritzer 
Wine is another popular alcoholic beverage around the holidays, and if you think you are going to have more than one glass, you may want to consider this healthy swap. 
Replacing your five ounce glass of red or white wine, with three ounces of wine topped with two ounces of club soda will save you 60 calories and help you save room for another drink or dessert.

Want to make one of the swaps above? Check out the recipes by clicking "here".

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tip of the Week: Squeeze Your Glutes in Tree Pose

Tree pose is actually a very challenging posture when performed the right way. Ideally, from the side view, your two knees should be in one line. Many people are able to hold the foot up in place by cheating and letting the hips/butt stick out with a swayed back. You need to squeeze your butt muscles and push your hips forward, while at the same time, pushing your knee gently down and back, to get everything in one line from the side. Continuously stretch your spine up to grow taller.

The following by shows some good pictures and tips for opening your hips in tree pose by squeezing your glutes.

The pose I demonstrate above is "Tree pose".  In Bikram's yoga practice there are a number of poses that help open up the hips.....when done properly!  I can't tell you how many times I watch people do this pose improperly.....about 100% of the time!  Even when the teacher clearly instructs to NOT have a "duck butt", guess what?  Apparently no body knows what a "duck butt" is, OR their hips are so tight they can't help it!  But if that's the case then you should take advantage of the use of your opposite hand and hold onto your foot to pull your bent leg down and back.  The "goal" is to have both legs in one line, while pushing your hips forward to open them up!  A good clue to whether or not you are doing this is to pay attention and contract your glute muscle (squeeze your butt muscle!)  In the above picture you can see I'm still a good six inches away from that!
Tree pose, in Bikram's yoga, is NOT a balancing posture.  Sure, you have to balance, but it's a hip opening posture, and your standing leg/hip/glute should be other words, SQUEEZE your butt muscle!  If you cannot squeeze your glute then you are not in the posture.  Everybody is in a hurry to put both hands in prayer and look pretty!  In the bottom photos I demonstrate my hands in "prayer position" and then only one of my hands in prayer, while the other holds onto my foot, while pushing my bent leg down and back, and while squeezing my glute muscle and lifting up on my knee cap of my standing leg/hip.  This does two things.  Squeezing my glute helps to open my hip flexor to bring my hip forward, and lifting up on the knee cap of my standing leg ensures that my standing leg is straight.  Oh...and I also try and make myself tall (like a tree) by lifting my rib cage and shoulders, up and back, visualizing the top of my head being pulled up towards the ceiling, while on the opposite, rooting down through the floor with my entire foot (roots like a tree).

In my opinion it's much more important that you open up your hip than it is to balance with both hands in prayer, looking pretty, with a duck butt!  But that's me.  Eventually I want to get both of my legs in the same line, while having both hands in prayer, with full extension in my hips, now that would really be pretty!  Pretty and correct according to the "dialogue".  And I'm so close!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tip of the Week: Look Backwards in the Backbend

Today's tip is a simple one to work on while doing the backbend in Half Moon.

*Look backward. The tendency for people who have issues with this pose is to look at the ceiling or the hands, or worst of all – and because of fear – forward. This strains the neck.

*While you’re going into the pose you will visualize tracing a line backward across the ceiling with your fingers. Where many get caught is by following the fingers with their eyes. Look beyond those fingers tracing that arc as you look backward (not up).

"Where your eyes go, your body will follow"...

For more detailed information on doing the backbend, click "here" and "here". 

Learn to see the back-wall behind you, but instead of dropping back, continue lifting up through the sternum. Then, straighten out the elbows and squeeze you palms together flat. - See more at:
Learn to see the back-wall behind you, but instead of dropping back, continue lifting up through the sternum. Then, straighten out the elbows and squeeze you palms together flat. - See more at:
Learn to see the back-wall behind you, but instead of dropping back, continue lifting up through the sternum. Then, straighten out the elbows and squeeze you palms together flat. - See more at:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tip of the Week: Make it to Class

Great ways to motivate yourself to make it to class from a post on Views From the Podium

As a teacher it can be even harder to squeeze your own personal practice into the day. After teaching class you can so easily skip out the studio doors to other things, thinking you’ve at least witnessed some yoga. But the fact is, if you are a Bikram teacher especially, you did not accomplish your own practice. You lead others through it, sure, you sweat a ton, but it’s not the same.You know what the hardest part of having a yoga practice is? Doing it. Doing the yoga. Day after day, year after year, and continue to have the discipline to get to the studio and get it done. I often say to my students that the hardest part of the yoga is actually putting the key in the ignition of the car and driving to the studio. Once you arrive you know you will go through class, whether it be wonderful, bad, ugly, gentle, easy, or inspiring, you will go through it.
Many times throughout a usual work week I have students come into the studio worried about what class will hold for them that day because they have not practiced in so long. “Why did I stop coming?” is a common question I hear them ask themselves. And let’s face it sometimes life just gets in the way. But you must also consider the fact that youare getting in your own way.
A yoga practice is not just a workout. It’s a commitment to a healthier way of living. It’s a commitment to taking time just for you to concentrate on your breath, your body, and your life in this present moment. And since I have struggled on and off with finding that time in my schedule to practice for years now, I thought I would share some tips on how to make it happen for you.
  1. Put it in your schedule. When I look at the month ahead and start to give availability to the studios I work for I also plot out where the practice times will happen. I like to practice a minimum of 4 times a week, but allow myself the odd week when it has to come down to 3 sessions. I actually put it into the calendar and make it a date as non-negotiable as any other commitment I have made in my life. If you put it down as an appointment with yourself make sure you honor it and get to class.  You are important.
  2. Pack up your bag and clothes the night before. We’ve all had that moment when the alarm clock goes off at 5am and all we want to do is roll over and forget about that class starting in half an hour. If everything is ready to go and all you have to do is slip on some yoga clothes and stumble out to the car there will be less resistance. Train yourself to just get into the clothes half asleep and then once your dressed you will have less excuses as to why you would want to skip the class.
  3. Post it on Facebook. If your status update the night before was about how you were going to hit the hot room at a particular time you will probably make the class. I have used this trick so many times. You just told the world and some of your friends that practice that you will be there and for some reason this will make you feel accountable for keeping this promise to yourself especially if people comment back, “See you there!”
  4. Get a yoga buddy. My yoga buddy is the best. We’ve been practicing together for 5 or 6 years now. And if I know she is going to take class at a particular time I will definitely try and take it. We used to practice together everyday until I became a teacher, but we still see each other in the hot room at least 3 times a week. Sharing the yoga and experience of class with someone is incredibly fun, as both of our practices have developed throughout the years. And sometimes it’s easier to make a date with others than it is to make one with your self.
So here’s to hoping that you keep up your regular practice. The only way to get deeper in to the postures and have a better understanding of yourself and others is to practice. If you haven’t been to class in awhile – get going. The first step is always the hardest, but I can promise you it will be worth it.