Guest Post: Guilt Free Holiday Dishes

The fall season is upon us, which means holidays filled with family gatherings are just around the corner. Besides family, what is one of the staples at your holiday get togethers? – Food!

Food not only fills the belly, but it also fills the spirit and helps to unite people. There is nothing more endearing than sharing a great meal together. However, all of those delicious treats that are served often end up leaving you feel a little guilty – and your pants feeling a little bit tighter. Enjoying great food and full bellies doesn’t mean that you have to eat foods that are high in calories. This holiday season, keep your family and friends happy – and healthy – by serving some of these guilt-free holiday dishes.

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Image Courtesy Of: Nanalena

Sweet and Savory Snacks

Instead of setting out bowls of deep fried potato chips and dips that are high in fat and calories, welcome your guests with this sweet and savory snack mix. Made with garbanzo beans, wheat cereal, raisins, dried pineapples, and honey, this snack is certainly a much healthier alternative to bags of potato chips and cheese puffs. The addition of Worcestershire sauce and chili powder adds a little hint of spiciness, which perfectly accents the sweetness of the pineapples, honey, and raisins.

Wild Rice Stuffing

Stuffing is one of those quintessential holiday side dishes. However, while the traditional version certainly is mouthwatering, it isn’t necessarily very healthy for you. For a healthier alternative that has no fat and is very low in calories, but is just as high in deliciousness, try this wild rice version. It is made with a combination of brown and wild rice, as well as mushrooms, celery, and green onions; and it takes hardly any time to whip up. Talk about a delicious, healthy holiday dish.

Tuscan Pork Loin

Is ham a main dish for your holiday affairs? If so, try substituting that cured variety for a healthier, and even tastier, Tuscan pork loin. Use a lean cut of pork loin and add garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest to give it a delicious, mouth-watering taste. Not only is this holiday main dish better for your and super tasty, but it will leave you feeling less “over” stuffed than your traditional ham dish. Oh, and it’s really easy to prepare-another added bonus.

Holiday Bark

When the dinner dishes are cleared, gather your family back around the table to satisfy their sweet tooth; but, instead of serving not-so-good for you pies, cakes, and cookies, try out a healthier sweet treat, like this holiday bark. It is made with white chocolate, as well as dried cranberries and almonds, which add a bunch of antioxidants and protein. Not only will that sweet tooth be tickled, but your family will gain the health benefits of the ingredients, as well. The holiday bark also contains much less fat and calories than a big ol’ slice of chocolate cake or pumpkin pie.

gf2Image Courtesy Of: Suzanne Caisse

Food certainly is one of the main ingredients of a holiday gathering. While you do want to retain the memories of a great family meal, you don’t want to retain the excess calories. This year, be more health conscious and avoid the extra weight by serving up healthier food options.

Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer and mom of three in Southern California. She loves to cook and with the holidays approaching, she knows that being more health-conscious will make for a much happier crowd. You can find more of her writing at the Candy Concepts Inc. blog.

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The Parts of Weight Loss People Don’t Talk About

So you’re on a weight loss journey or you’ve been on one for a while. Things are starting to really feel amazing. Your body is changing, your clothes are fitting, hell, clothes shopping is kind of fun now. People at work and your family are being supportive and making comments on how great you look. Why didn’t I start this sooner!?! You start to wonder.

What people don’t talk about and what before and after pictures don’t show is how deep a transformation a health and fitness journey really is. You don’t just change your physical appearance and your ability to say “no” to Cheetos, but every aspect of your life changes from your friends, to your outlook, even down to how people start treating you.

What?!

I know. It’s crazy to think about but you’re not alone and you’re not going crazy. Transforming your body transforms your mind and when you start reaching major goals, some things start happening and it can be nice to know you’re not the only who who’s thought about them.

You Don’t See Your Own Progress

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How many times have you been shopping, picked out a few tops, pants, maybe some dresses, when suddenly you’re in the fitting room and everything is hanging off of you. What? There’s NO way I’m actually a smaller size. And then that moment hits you when you realize all this time, you have had no actual logical perception of what you look like or the size and shape of your new body.

Adjusting to a new you is hard. Sure, you look better and people look at you in admiration of your hard work. But no matter how great you look and feel now, it’s a whole new world to get used to. Clothes start to fit you differently. You’re suddenly more aware of fat in different places because you’re wearing more form-fitting clothes and not hiding under baggy sweatshirts and loose pants. In many ways, you may find yourself MORE insecure and misguided than when you had 30 more pounds on you before.

It can feel incredibly disheartening and frustrating. Where did all of my confidence go? I felt SO HOT in that skirt 6 months ago and now I have one in a smaller size and I don’t feel the same way. The key is to focus on what you DO love about your new body. You may not be happy with excess skin or a lack of definition in your arms, but don’t you FEEL better? Think about what you’re capable of doing now. The YOU a year ago couldn’t do push ups, heck, the you a year ago made fun of people who did push ups. HA! Super-obsessive fitness people, trying to push the earth down. ::inserts Doritos in mouth::

You Feel MORE Insecure

13_changingroom_lglWhen you were heavier, you didn’t think about your weight, in fact, you completely avoided it. Fit people in TV and movies you didn’t even think about comparing yourself to or getting jealous over because that would never be you, not even close. When you start reaching goals and realizing that you ARE capable of dramatic changes, it can be terrifying. Suddenly you feel accountable for your body, which is amazing and encouraging but also downright painful to realize.

Does this mean I’ve been a failure all of these years I’ve been overweight?

How much time have I wasted?

What if I actually can’t do this? What if I start to gain all the weight back? Maybe I should just go to Baskin Robbins and give up my dreams of asking that cute guy/girl out.

The fact that weight loss and fitness REQUIRE you to be aware, to be present when you eat food and make choices, puts you in an entirely new mental zone. Go easy on yourself and realize that you’re having to adjust more than your portions. You’re going to be more aware, therefore, you’re going to be thinking a plethora of new thoughts and having new experiences with your body and your mind that can feel kind of jarring at first. Take the word “insecure” and replace it with “more aware.” You’re not insecure about your stomach, you’re more aware of it. Be kind with your thoughts and let the ones go that aren’t nice back to you.

You Enter the NO-MORE-SUPPORT Zone

Negative-GossipTHIS is the biggest issue that I hardly hear people talk about. When you are first losing weight, family, friends, co-workers, they are ALL supportive. OH MY GAWD, Janet, you look fanTAStic! What are you doing? We should go get drinks! It’s fun and easy to watch the “chubby” girl lose weight and start to feel good in her own skin. It gives other people motivation and reason to praise their own bodies, especially if you are just now getting down to their size.

But strange things start to happen (especially with women) when you get further and deeper into your fitness and nutrition goals. Suddenly those comments can become negative digs. Janet! You’re getting so tiny! Are you okay? Are you only eating carrots or something? You should have a donut. People are suddenly aware of your potential and can become “threatened” by your determination. Suddenly you’re not a motivational poster for health, but a reminder of how hard THEY aren’t working. You’re the one making healthy choices and a reminder to everyone who’s still eating Burger King that their choices reflect their health and their weight.

People get less supportive and fewer comments are made about your appearance and instead comments are made about the “weird” things you do like eat salads or run on your lunch break.

It’s important to not let these comments or remarks get you down. Your motivation shouldn’t lie in what other people think or say about you. A great thing that my friend Lindsey said to me today was:

Don’t be any less of who you are because other people can’t be more of who they want to be. Don’t waste your precious time and energy second guessing yourself and wondering how to accommodate people who won’t step up to the plate to accommodate themselves.

Maybe you’ve reached your weight loss goal or you are “super skinny and perfect” according to all of your friends but you still want more of a challenge. It can be hard to be “that” person who’s always going to the gym or striving to see what his/her body can REALLY do when people around you already think you look great. You must be crazy or obsessive to think you still need to workout or lose more fat. Finding the right support groups can be hard in this phase. Just remember that this is a journey FOR yourself WITH yourself and not everyone is going to understand your reasons or feel the same desire or need to get in amazing shape.

keep-calm-and-ignore-negative-peopleJust as everyone’s opinions and thoughts are different, so are everyone’s bodies. There are an endless array of shapes and sizes that are gorgeous, sexy, defined, toned, lean, muscular, and curvaceous and not just one is the best one. These are all decisions we need to make for ourselves and we are certainly not going to have the same body our entire lives either.

The key is figuring out what YOUR goals are and realizing that many things will always change along the way. You may always have to battle with subtle insecurities and new clothes and people. But look at that as a challenge and a positive way to grow and nothing will stop you!

Guest Post: The Best Post-Workout Treatments To Prevent Sore Muscles

Exercise, along with a healthy diet, is an essential part of staying in good shape. However, if you’re like many people, the soreness that accompanies a vigorous workout can keep you from really pushing yourself or even cause you to skip your workout altogether.

Unfortunately muscle soreness is a common part of working out, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised or when you start doing new exercises. While you can’t always prevent muscle soreness, there are some ideal treatments for making it a little bit more comfortable, allowing you to get back to your routine and workout faster.

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Therapeutic Massage

Massage is a great way to relax after exercise, and for most people, it actually feels very good. There are certain types of massage therapy that are ideal for post-workout muscle soreness, some of which you may not be too familiar with. Keep reading for a guide on some of the best massages to defeat muscle soreness.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is likely the type of massage you’re most familiar with. In Swedish massage, long, relatively gentle strokes are used that move with the grain of the muscle.

For many people, this helps relieve pain in a way that actually feels good. Swedish massages are also deeply relaxing for many people because there is almost no discomfort associated with the basic type of massage, even if you have sore muscles related to exercise.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a bit different than Swedish massage, because practitioners tend to apply considerably more pressure to access deeper points in the muscle. Deep tissue massage may be somewhat uncomfortable for people since strokes go against the muscle grain.

While this can be a little uncomfortable, it does help to relieve pain after about 24 hours. For people with severe muscle soreness or injuries, who take up exercise as a way to rehab an injured muscle, deep tissue massage is often the best treatment.

Deep tissue massage isn’t for everybody, however. The best way to figure out if deep tissue massage can help you with muscle soreness is to simply try it out one time.

Epsom Salts

The use of Epsom salts has been around for a long time, and it may be a cure for muscle soreness that you’re already familiar with it. However, the use of Epsom salts has endured for so many years because it actually works!

Epsom salts are also ideal after a workout – even if you have time to get a massage after your workout. In fact, combining the two can leave you feel quite refreshed and pain free, even after a vigorous workout.

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Working out is something you know you should be doing to stay healthy, but if it’s been awhile, you know how painful the next day or two can be. While DOMS is a problem for many people, it does pass the more you work out and condition your body.

In the meantime, a therapeutic massage and home treatments like Epsom salt baths can help a great deal.

Gwen Lewis is a freelance writer in Southern California. She specializes in beauty and health topics, and enjoys a massage after a difficult workout.