Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Eating Tips

Do you have trouble sticking to your diet around the holidays? With one irresistible temptation after another your good intentions can easily turn into, "I'll get back on my diet after the New Year, " giving you an excuse to indulge in holiday feasts full-boar and binge all season long.

Rather than expecting to regain your freshman-15 this holiday season, try a new approach. You can now enjoy delicious holiday foods without overindulging and becoming uncomfortably full!

Follow these easy steps to get you through the holidays.
  • Make a decision beforehand to eat in moderation. -Limit portion sizes and stop eating when you are full. Try not to partake in seconds unless it’s a freshly steamed vegetable (will fill you up without the added calories).
  • Set a personal goal and stick to it! (ex: allowing yourself only one serving of each food item, or not having to unbutton your pants halfway through the meal from being overstuffed)
  • Limit your appetizer feast! If appetizers are served, keep in mind that the main meal is yet to come. Limit yourself to just a few, or skip them all together.
  • Beware of the Nut Bowl! Watch out for sneaky calories in the form of bowls of nuts and candy. Move away from the temptation if you have to as these are very easy to grab handfuls of without realizing how many you’ve eaten.
  • Consider plate size: Choose a smaller plate or imagine a food boundary line. We typically eat with our eyes, so eating from a larger plate gives us the green light to eat more food. However, eating from (or imagining) a smaller plate physically limits the amount of food and you'll be just as satisfied without becoming overstuffed.
  • Beware the Buffet! Avoid it if possible, as buffets guarantee overeating. If you can’t avoid it, survey the buffet beforehand to decide which foods you will eat and stick to the plan. Avoid overload by following the rule of “S“ (Savor Small Samples)*Take a sample of each item instead of a heaping portion.
  • Dismiss the “clean plate rule.” Enact the "lean plate" rule - taking less food or leaving more on the plate ensures that you will take in fewer calories.
  • Save Room for Dessert! If you plan on eating dessert, eat less of your meal. It's ok to indulge, just make sure you are counting those calories. Try splitting desserts with a family member or friend. You will both eat less and still be satisfied. You can also take a sliver of each dessert you want to eat instead of a whole slice or piece. Keep in mind 10 small slices to add up so only take 2 or 3 at most. Sometimes only a bite is all you need.
  • Drink in moderation. Alcohol calories can really add up. Click here for our guide to alcohol. Choose a smaller glass and savor the drink. You may want to avoid shots in favor of enjoying a drink you can sip over a period of time. Alternate one glass of alcohol or other caloric beverage with one glass of water. This will get you fuller and drinking less.

Enjoying the holidays doesn’t mean you have to give up on your diet. Just follow a few of these tips and you’ll enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Indoor Bicycling: The Wind Trainer or the Rollers?

Winter has arrived. The days are short, you want to exercise, but the thought of heading outdoors into the cold night to ride your bike does not appeal, not to mention that it might be dangerous, even with a light. What to do? Well, you can join a gym for $50 a month, drive to a gym, and then pay another sum of money to take spinning classes, or you could simply ride your own bike in the comfort of your own home.

There are many ways to ride your bike in your own home. The two most popular are wind trainers and rollers. If you are a serious bicyclist who wishes to improve your racing performance, the rollers might serve as your better choice. If you are a beginner who rides for mere fitness purposes, the wind trainer might be the better alternative.

The Rollers:

Rollers are excellent for developing a better "spin" and increased bike handling skills. You actually ride with both of the bike's wheels mounted and spinning against the rollers, this forces you to develop your balance as the bike is not supported by any stationary fixture. The workout with rollers can be more intense as your whole body must go into it as if you were on a bicycle, that is to say, you must concentrate on your upper body for balance as well as your lower body for force. Getting started with rollers can be tricky, but if you mount yourself between a doorway and some furniture, you will be able to balance yourself in case you start to sway one way or another. The cyclist who trains with the rollers will ride smoothly and perfectly straight once the springtime training rides arrive.

Rollers tend to be about the same price as other trainers. They come with plastic or aluminum drums (the actual rolling devices) with the aluminum tending to be of higher quality. Yet, rollers tend to have less resistance than other trainers. It is possible to alleviate this problem by adding an additional resistance unit or purchasing a roller with smaller drums for greater resistance.

The costs of rollers vary. Performance Bike carries its own brand of "Technique Pro Rollers" that range from $139.99 to $219.99. Another popular brand is CycleOPS Rollers that cost approximately $199.99. The quality, durability, and versatility of these rollers vary by price and brand.

The Wind Trainer or Turbo Trainer:

This type of trainer is more stable than the rollers. Usually, either the front or rear wheel is fixed to the wind trainer and a resistance device is used to provide tension. With this sort of trainer, it is easier to stand out of the saddle, do single leg drills, and even just watch TV. Yet, since balance isn't much of an issue here, it is easy to get lazy and lose your riding form. If you wish to keep your neck and back muscles in proper form for road riding, be sure to focus on keeping the proper form.

A wind trainer workout provides an excellent controlled environment for cycling drills and allows you to focus on your pedal technique, as you need not worry about balance or running into moving vehicles. The wind trainer is also especially useful since it allows you to adjust the resistance, whereas the rollers do not.

There are a few different types of wind or turbo trainers. Some are hydraulic and others are magnetic. Ask you local bike dealer for more information or check out Bike Nashbar or Performance bike for a full catalog of bicycling accessories. Minoura and Blackburn are popular manufacturers. On the lower price end is Minoura's Ergo-10 Mag Trainer, which tends to be quieter, has a stiffer frame, and a wide range of resistance. This model costs approximately $99.00. A newer and more expensive model by Minoura goes for about $149.00 and is purported to be smaller, smoother, and absolutely silent. Blackburn's low end trainer goes for about $149.00 and has a 3-level magnetic resistance unit. Blackburn's $229.00 model has five levels of resistance and a flywheel that mimics the true feel of the road.

Have fun this winter!