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What I Did With my $100 Visa Giftcard from @couponology

So a few weeks ago, I saw a post on Twitter from @couponology asking why you like coupons, and to compose a tweet about it. The author of the best tweet was to be awarded a $100 Visa gift card, so I quickly tweeted them about why I benefit from saving money. I don’t remember my exact tweet, but I know that I mentioned that I’m a 22-year-old college student who has a job and doesn’t really get financial support from my parents. A few days later, @Couponology messaged me informing me I had won. Naturally, I was ecstatic, considering I never really win anything. It felt great to know that something I had written had gotten rewarded. It’s like, the first time I’ve ever gotten paid for my writing, which is awesome because I love writing, even if it was just a quick tweet.

So I waited patiently for my Visa gift card to come, and it came this past Friday. That was probably one of the best times I ever checked the mail, besides when I got a letter about my academic scholarship to college, of course. What did I do with the $100? Well, of course I spent it within 24 hours of receiving it, because there’s nothing like getting money you weren’t expecting. I figured I’d use some of the gift card toward something I need, and the rest of it toward something I want.

Need? Food. Want? Shoes. So I spent a portion of the card grocery shopping. I naturally bought some asparagus, because when do I not need asparagus? I also picked up Luna Bars, which I love because I can eat them at work, and they’re delicious with tons of nutrients. The Cookie Dough Protein Bar is my new favorite. I also got sliced turkey breast, because turkey breast is the healthiest cold cut, and I have a sick obsession with turkey sandwiches on Arnold Sandwich thins with mustard. I got a few other staples, like eggs, yogurt, and cheese.

Besides my obsession with asparagus, I am also developing a shoe addiction. While shopping yesterday, I set my eyes upon a pair of tan/brown Steve Madden sandals. They were the most beautiful things I’d ever seen (that day) and I absolutely had to have them. I think my life has changed in the past 24 hours since I bought them, or at least my wardrobe has.

Anyway, the gift card went fast because I’m impulsive, but I’m extremely happy with how I spent the $100. Food and shoes are two vital aspects of life.

@Couponology not only has a Twitter, but they also have a website with a ton of online coupons for places that all of us totally shop at. Follow them! And visit their site to see if you can make use of their discounts. Right now, they have a Lady Foot Locker coupon code, so if you need new sneakers for the gym, why not save some money?

Thanks @Couponology and Steve Madden for making my weekend a little better!

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Don’t Starve Yourself- How Eating Speeds Up Metabolism

I constantly see that many women aren’t eating nearly enough calories each day, with ridiculous calorie goals like 300 calories, which is absurd. I’m sorry, but I like eating, and I’d be pretty miserable if I restricted myself from food that much. What’s the point? There isn’t one. It turns out, eating less than 1000 calories a day is not only dangerous, but it also slows down your metabolism because your body goes into a sort of starvation mode with the lack of food. When it finally does get food, it holds onto any calories and fat it can, just in case it doesn’t get to eat again.

So seriously, don’t skip meals. It does more harm than good. You constantly need to refuel your body so it has the energy it needs to get through the day. You should eat every four hours, but personally, I eat every 2-3 hours, even if it is a very small snack. Since I began doing this about two months ago, I feel like a completely different person, and I lost ten pounds.

I eat 1200 calories a day, and I try to eat 5-6 separate times throughout the day. I aim for 200-300 calorie meals, and 100-200 calorie snacks. The best thing about this is that if you feel hungry, you get to eat soon anyway because you’re eating so often. When your body is constantly digesting food, you get hungry faster, but eating every few hours solves this problem. The best part is, you never feel like you’re starving yourself. It’s a lot easier to eat 1200 calories a day when you’re eating every 2-3 hours than it is to eat 1200 calories a day when you’re eating 3 large meals every 5 hours.

As long as you pay attention to calories, fat, protein, and carb intake, eating every few hours will help you speed up your metabolism, and you’ll be a lot more satisfied throughout the day. Protein is especially important. Eating it with every meal is also linked to boosting metabolism, so why not try it?

Here’s an example of what I eat in a day:

Breakfast: Egg whites and feta cheese with a banana (about 170 calories)
Snack: 28 almonds (170 calories)
Lunch: Sliced turkey with mustard on a sandwich thin and an apple with 1 tbs peanut butter (about 300 calories)
Snack: Chobani Greek yogurt with blueberries (about 150 calories)
Dinner: Tilapia with asparagus (about 250 calories)
Snack: Carrots with lowfat Italian dressing (about 60 calories)

Total: 1100 calories, low in fat, high in protein.

I promise starving yourself isn’t going to help you. You may be losing weight, but you’re not helping your metabolism or your health in general. Just eat.

#Dietingproblems Apparel

I made these so all of you can sport these lovely tees at the gym. Click the link, and let me know what you think. If you love it, buy it!

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Leave You Broke

An excuse that I heard all the time as to why people don’t want to eat healthy or “can’t” eat healthy is because it’s too expensive. Sure, some things are totally out of my price range when I’m going food shopping, but I promise you that it’s possible and easy to eat healthy without spending a ridiculous amount of money. You just have to know what you’re doing.

1. First, I’ll start with what should be the most obvious. Produce really isn’t that expensive. You can get a whole bundle of asparagus for like $3, and it can last you about 3 separate meals if you cook for yourself. $3 for 3 side dishes is a steal. And, if you are cooking for yourself, make sure you don’t buy too much. You don’t need 15 peaches during your shopping trip. You can buy two and be content. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve bought produce and it went bad because I didn’t eat it in time. This can totally be prevented if you don’t overstock your fridge. Sure, the bagged salad might be on sale at 3 for $5.00, but how fast can you eat three bags of salad? And who wants to eat three bags of salad that fast? Anyway, my point is that fruits and vegetables aren’t nearly as expensive as we may think. They’re priced by the pound, and you really don’t need a lot of pounds of food to feed yourself.

2. You should really take advantage of living in 2012. In this year, we happen to have freezers, which are attached to our refrigerators. We can store things in these freezers for long periods of time without having to worry about the food going bad. For instance, you might buy chicken at the store that only has a good date for another 4 days, but this time limit can be extended by freezing the chicken. You can literally freeze anything. Here are a few more ideas.
Bananas go bad fast, but if you cut them up, but them in Ziploc bags, and freeze them, you have instant fruit for a smoothie. You can do this with other fruits, such as berries, if you want to keep them longer to use in shakes and smoothies. This is something I should have taken advantage of this week, since I just threw out two black, rotten bananas.
Bread can also be frozen. If you buy a whole loaf of bread, (which better be whole wheat or multi-grain) it’s hard to eat the whole loaf yourself before it goes bad. If it’s not hard, make it hard, because you don’t need to eat an entire loaf of bread in a week. If you freeze the bread, you can use it to toast at a later date. This can also be done with bagels and english muffins.
Make large portions of food, and freeze the rest to eat during the week. Some good foods that work this way are soups, pasta dishes, and sauces. It will also help you save time during the week, since heating up some soup is a lot faster than making it from scratch. And, you will prevent all your hard work and ingredients from spoiling. I’d say to pick a day, such as today, since it’s Sunday, and make a large portion of something for the week. Today I’m considering making vegetable soup. Let’s see if I actually get it done.

3. Separate or cut fruits and vegetables and place them into personal Ziploc or Tupperware so you can grab them throughout the week. It’s a lot harder to cut an entire stalk of celery to bring to work than it is to grab a bag with already cut up pieces. This will also help you eat more servings of fruits and vegetables, which will obviously help you not let your food go to waste.

4. If you’re not scared of frozen fish and chicken, buy it. I do. And it’s not bad at all. It lasts as long as you want it to, as opposed to fresh fish and chicken. It’s also not very expensive, and the bag usually comes with a ton of servings.

5. Stop eating at restaurants. Seriously, for the price of a sit-down meal, you can go food shopping and get way more for your money. And obviously, it’s healthier. Restaurants taint their food with pounds of butter, salt, and unknown ingredients that you don’t need to risk ingesting if you are trying to lose weight. Instead, go food shopping, and cook your own dinner. At the end of the day, it will be a lot more fulfilling than going out to eat.

Sorry there aren’t any fun pictures in this post, but you all know what fruits, vegetables, and chicken looks like anyway.

So stop making excuses. Excuses get you nowhere.

It’s Not Just the Calories

This post is sort of a prelude to my next few posts, because I think it’s important for all of you to know about other things involving food besides calories. So many of us obsess over counting calories, but calories are nothing if you don’t take other factors into consideration, like fat, protein, carbs, and fiber. I’m going to briefly go through each of these in case you don’t understand. Before I do, you should know that 300 calories of pizza and 300 calories of vegetables are not the same. I hope you know this. I really do.

Anyway, when it comes to fat, how much is too much? Is there a such thing as not enough? (Yes). Your fat intake should consist of about 30-35% of your total intake. So if you have 1500 calories a day, 30% of that should be fat. Stay away from saturated and trans fat too. Read the labels. It’s okay to have a little saturated fat, but be careful. Unsaturated fats are often good for you, which are in fish, seafood, nuts, avocado, etc. These are monounsaturated fats, and they have tons of other benefits, from protein to boosting your mood. They also include omega-3 fatty acids. But, I’m not trying to get too complicated here. Just pay attention to the fat content as much as you do the calorie content.

We hear every day that carbs are bad, but it depends on what kinds of carbs you consume. For instance, white bread is a simple carb, which ends up pretty much turning to sugar. Apples, on the other hand are complex carbs, contain fiber, and keep you full longer. When choosing foods with carbs, make sure there is fiber as well. Some foods besides apples include whole grain/wheat bread, many vegetables, fruits, and beans. Fiber is key to proper digestion, and like I said, keeping you full longer. Women should have 20-25 grams a day.

In general, your recommended carbs can be calculated like this: Daily Calories divided by 2. (For me, that’s 1200 divided by 2, so 600). Then divide that number by 4. (600/4=150). I usually try to stay around 100 grams of carbs though, since I’m still trying to lose weight.

Now I’ll go over protein. Depending on what sites you read, they will all tell you different amounts for how much protein you should have. In general, about 15-20% of your calories should come from protein. The process is sort of confusing and I’m terrible at explaining math, so try this link to figure out how much protein you need. It shows you how it depends on your activity level as well, since protein plays a role in muscle growth.

This post is a little long and complicated, but the main point I’m trying to make is that counting calories alone won’t get the job done. You need to pay attention to other things as well. Otherwise, you’ll be a lost cause. Don’t be stupid when it comes to what you put in your body.  For my next few blog posts, I will focus each post entirely on one aspect of nutrition, including carbs, fat, protein, sugar, and fiber. I will go into more detail of each during the next week or so, so stay posted. 🙂

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In case you were wondering about me…

I figured I’d write a quick post just to tell you about myself, since I’ve yet to do that. I just want to give you some background on how my life has been the past 6 years related to dieting, exercise, and weight.

In high school, I was super skinny, weighing under 100 pounds until I was 18. It was great, yet somehow I still felt like I needed to be on a diet. I look back now and realize I was crazy. I didn’t need to diet at all. I could have easily enjoyed my high school days at McDonalds, stuffing my face with fast food. But, I’m glad I didn’t.

I went to college, and things changed. I lived with a few girls, and there was a full buffet/dining hall at our convenience most hours of the day. It had everything. Fries, ice cream, bagels, pasta, pizza, burger, you name it. And with such a change in my life of going to college, I sort of lost control. It was fun being carefree, drinking every weekend, sleeping at the most random times, skipping classes, chasing guys, and bingeing on food at all hours of the day. I look back and miss those times a lot, but I don’t miss gaining almost 20 pounds over those first two years. By time I was 19, I was up to 123 pounds, which isn’t exactly skinny when you’re only five feet tall. I’d go to the gym sometimes, but I never really put a lot of effort into it. Honestly, I didn’t care, but I still hated how I looked. I wasn’t used to not being skinny.

By time my junior year rolled around, I moved off campus, and was too broke to eat half the time. Age 20 is that awkward time when you’re too old for house parties and kegs, but too young for the bar. So, I didn’t drink or party nearly as much as I did the first two years. That’s also when I decided to start working out again. Over the course of that year, I got back down to 112 pounds, which was the thinnest I’d been in two years. I was happy, but I wasn’t satisfied.

This year, I took it a step further and put all of my efforts into learning about nutrition and health. I was always into it, but I had trouble practicing it all the time because of all the distractions college brings. I’m over that now though. I try my best to work out at least 4 days a week, I seriously watch what I eat and record everything in a calorie counting app, and of course I blog and update my Twitter, which is more motivation than I ever could have imagined. The best part is that I still go out and party all the time, but I don’t let it affect my weight. I’m 107 pounds now, and I’m looking to get down to about 103 and tone up as much as I can. I love my body more than I ever have, and I know there’s still room to improve. I’ll probably never be satisfied, but at least I’m one step closer every day toward whatever my goal is.

Sometimes it seems impossible to lose weight, but it’s not. Never think of it as impossible. If you’re a female, you’re supposed to be confident, independent, and willing to do what it takes to be happy. So do it. And don’t starve yourself. Don’t skip meals. Learn whatever you can about nutrition. 1000 calories of potato chips are completely different from 1000 calories of carrots. Learn the difference. Do research. Have fun sometimes, but don’t let it hinder you from having what you want.

As soon as you make progress, it will be easier to keep pushing. There’s really no reason to give up. We’re young now, and it’s the only time we’re ever going to be young. Make the most of it and be beautiful.

My Newest Shake Obsession

I tweet a lot about how bad I am at cooking, and how I’m not good at being creative in the kitchen, but I actually am really into anything involving food since I love nutrition so much. I mean, I watch tons of shows on Food Network, and that’s about how far my talents extend. But I’m learning, and I’m getting a little better each day. Lately I’ve been making shakes in the morning, and I figured I’d just quickly share with you all my shake “recipe.”

I didn’t totally make this shake up. I saw it on a Stumble Upon site but I made a variation of it.

Anyway, this is the shake:
3/4ths of a banana
3-7 ice cubes depeding on your preferences for ice
about a half cup to a cup of Vanilla Almond Milk (amazing) I use the brand Almond Breeze
TSP of vanilla
Some peanut butter, but not too much. I use about 1 heaping teaspoon. (You can also use a variation like almond butter if you prefer that).

Blend til you feel like it’s ready. Drink it, obviously.

Today, I added ovaltine and skipped out on the peanut butter, and it was even more delicious. Plus, just the Ovaltine powder is only 40 extra calories, compared to peanut butter which is almost 200. And, Ovaltine has tons of vitamins. I’m actually obsessed with Ovaltine. It’s delicious.

Anyway, that’s my shake. It has all you need for the morning. Some carbs, potassium, protein, good fat, and vitamins. One day, I tried adding blueberries and raspberries to it, and it was kind of gross. So don’t do that.

Without the peanut butter, the whole shake is only around 140 calories. With the peanut butter, about 240. Either way, it’s super filling. So it’s up to you if you want the extra calories, but at least you’re getting some protein. I learned this week that protein can help curb your appetite and you end up eating less throughout the day in general.

So, this is as far as my kitchen abilities have come. Send me some other shake/smoothie recipe ideas and I will try them, write about them, and give you credit for the submission.

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100 Calorie Miracles

One food I don’t think I could ever give up is bread, but since its high in carbs and certain kinds don’t deliver much nutritional value, I had to find an alternative. There is no option to give up bread entirely. I love it way too much, and I don’t know what I would do without a turkey sandwich at least…90 times a week (I’m kidding, sort of).

My life changed when I discovered Arnold Select Sandwich Thins, because each bun is only 100 calories. That’s a drastic decrease in calories compared to other types of bread, which can be almost 100 calories per slice. These 100 calorie buns taste amazing too. I don’t know what it is about them, but they are totally a legitimate substitute for regular bread.

And, there are a variety of kinds, such as whole wheat, whole grain white, multi-grain, and seedless rye. I’m on their site now, and they even have mini rolls at 50 calories each, and Whole Wheat Fill ‘Em rolls that are perfect for subs. I don’t know about any of you, but this makes me really really happy.

The rolls are also only one gram of fat and contain 5 grams of fiber. We need fiber. It keeps us full longer and speeds up our metabolism. White bread doesn’t contain fiber, and although regular whole wheat and multi-grain do, they obviously have more calories. Oh, and the sandwich thins have less carbs. One slice of regular wheat bread has about 18-22 grams of carbs, while this entire 100 calorie bun only has 22. So it’s basically half the amount of carbs. This is a miracle.

As I sit here and write about how much I love food, I should also mention that these buns don’t get as soggy as regular bread, and they toast well. I’m in love with them. And I’m out, so I definitely need to go shopping today and get more. There’s nothing like some mustard and turkey on these buns. Or, for breakfast, you can put egg whites on them. It’s pretty much perfect. You can also use them for turkey and veggie burgers. The possibilities are endless.

These also come in other brands. I just recently saw them from Pepperidge Farm, and also in the store brand form. So far, I’ve only tried Arnold. And I have to say they’re the best, because they were the first to come up with the idea, I think. I’m not being paid or anything to advertise for them. I just really love them.

Also, since I’m terrible at preparing food, I would recommend going to the Arnold Site. They have tons of other recipe ideas.
I will be hopefully posting more today, so stay tuned.

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Quick Calorie Counting Info

There are a variety of different versions of calorie tracking applications that can be added to your smartphone. Among those popular are My Fitness Pal, Lose It!, Calorie Counter, The Daily Burn, and The Daily Plate.
The programs allow you to search for what foods you ate throughout the day, how much of a food you ate, and what meal you had it for. Not only will it track your calorie intake, but it will also monitor fat, carbohydrates, protein, and other nutritional qualities depending on the application. Another perk of most of the applications is that they allow you to track your weight loss progress. This is a useful tool because it can teach users that weight gain or loss directly correlates with the types of foods you eat. And, since it’s on YOUR phone, you should probably not lie to yourself about what you ate. The more honest you are, the more you will learn from your mistakes and see results.

I personally use The Daily Burn, and before that I used I love using these applications for many reasons, but especially because when you do overeat, you feel really guilty inputting it into the calorie counter. So, the next day, you will hopefully be more inclined to eat healthy. Over time, you will see a change in your eating habits because you will learn just how many calories are in certain foods. For instance, I don’t believe I will ever eat short rib or macaroni and cheese again.

Another benefit of calorie tracking applications is the option to input what fitness you accomplish each day. However, this is something that still needs to be improved, because the applications are not completely accurate on the amount of calories burned for each exercise. The counters do not seem to take your current weight into account when calculating the calories. However, the fitness aspect of these applications is a great way to estimate how much you burn throughout the day. Also, the categories are sort of general. You can’t really put “ten situps” in the search and expect something to come up. I actually don’t use the fitness portion of my application. I feel that it’s too inaccurate to rely on.

Here’s an image of my Nutrition intake on The Daily Burn.

This website elaborates further on applications that specifically iPhone users can download. They have way more apps that I didn’t even mention. So, you better be downloading at least one of them right now if you haven’t already.

More posts to come Friday!

Burning calories doesn’t end in the gym

For busy people like myself, there are often days where I simply do not have time to work out, especially in the summer, when my university gym closes at 7pm. And especially when I make every excuse under the sun to not work out, even if I have ten hours of time to kill. However, there are still ways to burn calories throughout the day at home and at work, and I actually try my best to follow a lot of these tips.

1. Park far away …It’s not a race to get the closest spot. Honestly, it doesn’t kill you to walk a little bit, even if it’s cold. Get over it. There are people who don’t even own cars, and they walk miles to work every day. I’ve seen them before. Park far away and walk. It won’t hurt you, I promise. Even a few extra feet a day is better than nothing. And, sometimes, we spend more time looking for a close spot than we would just walking a further distance, so chances are, you won’t spend any extra time in the parking lot. Just do it.

2. Depending on your job, there are a number of things you can do to avoid being sedentary all day. Maybe you have your own office, where you can break out into a set of jumping jacks for a few minutes. Why not? No one will think you’re crazy or anything. Or maybe your job requires physical labor. In that case, you are probably burning a decent amount of calories, even if you are just standing around for hours on end. It’s better than cuddling with 30 pillows and 3 comforters in your bed all day.Actually, it’s not, but whatever.  If you have a lunch break, skip the free pizza or the delivery spot that makes delicious chicken parm subs. (Yes, in New Jersey, it’s a sub, which means it’s the only way to say it.) Order a salad, or pack your lunch. It takes less than 5 minutes to pack your lunch the night before, so stop being lazy. If you work in a nice area, maybe you can even venture outside and talk a walk on your break. I work on the beach, so once in a while I’ll walk down to it to kill some time.

3. Put extra effort into any household chores. You probably need to catch up on them anyway. Right now there’s a ridiculous pile of clean laundry on my window seat, just waiting to be folded, but naturally I’m in my bed typing this instead. However, I do love some cleaning to make me feel like I’m not a complete waste of life. Not only will you be a contributing member to your household, but you may actually burn a few calories and feel slightly productive. It’s no 5k run, but like I said, it’s better than nothing.

4. Work out during commercials. I am a huge fan of doing planks during commercials, since they work out multiple parts of your body, and the commercial break allows for just enough time to do them. Of course, if you have time to watch television, you should probably have time to work out too. However, some days are just too long for that to be accomplished. And we can’t miss one episode of those 15 different television shows we follow religiously. Those are a priority, right? Anyway, you can definitely get in a quick ab workout during the commercials. A half hour program has about 6 minutes of commercials, and an hour-long program has 12. I’m a comm major, so I know random facts like that.

5. Leave extra gym clothes and shoes in the car, just in case you do have some time throughout the day. I do this, and they usually don’t leave my car, but there are those surprise moments where I do have some extra time for a spontaneous trip to the gym. The clothes are one step closer to getting in the gym than they would be in your dresser drawer, so it can’t hurt to try it.

There are obviously many more options that I haven’t included, but the main point of this post is to remind you not to be lazy, and to stop making excuses. Do everything with your whole heart. If you’re dieting, make an extra effort to burn calories in every activity you do. There really are no excuses.

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