Thursday, January 7, 2010

By Small and Simple Things...Little Ideas for Big Changes

My name is Alex Christensen Vernon and I have been fit since 2007.  I grew up in a family where exercise was commonplace, yet I rarely joined in.  In 2007, while I was attending BYU, our family held the "Christensen Family Challenge" where we kept track of things we ate and activities we did- we got points for the good things and lost points for the bad things.  That and a few health classes I took made me start exercising daily and caring about what came into my body...needless to say, I won the challenge!  Since then I have continued to exercise (mostly run)  in the mornings and currently work as a ballroom dance instructor in Houston, TX.  However, I have started to slack a bit on my eating habits.  I am recommitting myself this year and using this blog to get back to my best shape!  Below are a few of little things that have helped me to stay motivated and stay active.  Not all of these suggestions will work for everyone, but they are tried and true for myself (at one time or another) so try and pick at least one to try this week!

Cleaning - You can burn an average of 175-250 calories an hour while cleaning...about the same amount as an hour of canoeing, bike riding, or playing ultimate frisbee - plus you get a clean house!  Cleaning does more than just burn calories though; you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed which can help your blood pressure.  And it won't take you as long to find things, thus freeing up time to cook healthier, exercise, etc. (all those things we say we don't have enough time to do!)  Try and make it fun by listening to music or an audio book.

Stand up - If you can, stand up.  On average you burn 15% - 20% more calories doing the same activity if you will just stand up.  So if you can file your names, pay your bills, wrap a present, etc. standing, just do it!

Bananas with whipped cream - This is one of my favorite desserts.  While I am a genuine fruit lover, sometimes I still have a sweet tooth and crave that brownie, ice cream, or chocolate chips.  This always does the trick.  Get a little fat free or lite cool whip and dip your banana in it - the cool whip doesn't hurt you much and it is a full serving of fruit!

Sodium - I became conscious of salt when the doctor limited my dad's sodium intake to next to nothing.  Since then we have become more aware of just how much salt is in everything!  The average American is advised to only eat 1500 mg a day...most of us consume more than 3500 mg each day.  And the tricky part is that hardly any of your daily intake is from actual salt you sprinkle on; it is in many forms and is often packed into our (processed) foods.  Here is the serious part...salt is a huge contributor to high blood pressure which is in turn a huge contributor to heart disease, the number one killer in America today.  The good part is that heart disease is almost completely preventable.  Start monitoring your daily sodium intake- I promise that you will start eating healthier if you just watch your sodium!

A cool drink of water - Make sure the water you are drinking is cold - it takes calories just for your body to warm it up!  If you are going to try to drink more water anyway you might as well make it cold...every little calorie counts!

Put your junk up - Put all the potato chips, chocolate etc. in the highest cupboard you have.  This way they are out of sign most of the time and you won't be as tempted to grab them and "just have a few"...and when you do have some, at least you had to climb a chair or stepladder to get to them!

Keep salad on hand - Try to make a green salad to keep in the fridge at all times.  Have a few bites of it with everything...and make yourself eat it first!  (Don't go overboard on the dressing of course!)

Have a preparation day - One day a week cut up and bag veggies...bell peppers, carrots, celery, etc.  Then they are really easy to grab as a snack on the go or put them in lunches.

TV - We all have our guilty pleasures that we just have to watch on tv...mine are The Office and The View.  But instead of just chilling on the couch to watch them, try sitting on a fitness ball- your ab muscles have to be engaged just to keep you stable.  Or make a deal with yourself that every commercial break you are going to do x-amount of jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, etc.

Wear tight pants - We all have that pair of pants that is a little tight, right?  Make sure they are your "eating out pants".  If you go out to a restaurant and are already feeling poured into your pants you are more likely to choose a healthier option and/or eat less.

Do your homework - Take some time and research restaurants that you frequent...most menus and nutritional information can be found online.  Know what items are best for you (or make a little cheat sheet to keep in your wallet) so you won't be caught with you pants down when you have to eat out.  It will also help you to be able to go out once and awhile and not feel guilty about it.  New York law requires all restaurants to post the nutritional information right on the menu and some it is quite shocking...things you never would have guessed are bad for you and vice versa.  Until the rest of the states get on board, do your own homework!


Kathy Haynie said...

Alex, I love your list! I never thought of the banana + lo-cal whipped topping before. Haha! All my pants are a little snug right now! Does that mean I can go out to eat more often?? :) And I just heard last night on the John Tesh radio show that standing up uses more calories.

my name is lauren. said...

these are great little ways that can add up to a big difference. thanks for sharing :).

KristenLisa said...

Great tips! I do many of these already, but enjoyed learning some new ones, thanks for sharing!

Katie said...

I also really like the bananas with whipped cream idea. And if I go out to a restaurant I am definitely going to have to do my homework. Thanks for so many great ideas!

Kathy Haynie said...

Speaking of restaurant homework - I forgot to mention that Portland passed a law that chain restaurants have to include calorie counts on their menus now! That hasn't trickled down to Oregon City yet, but it's definitely a movement in the works!

Ben, Amy & Belle said...

Great website Katie! Good for you! Love Alee's post!!!

Marae Lindsey said...

Hehehe, I love that cleaning is the first on the list. And tight pants is a GREAT one. So true.

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