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Diet reviews: The sardine diet

Fish, with its huge doses of omega-3 fatty acids, has received a recent push as a healthy protein choice. It’s no surprise, then, that many diets have been released that are specifically designed to help you up your fish intake. The Sardine Diet, as its name suggests, is just such a program.

First detailed in a 2006 book of the same name, the Sardine Diet was created by certified dietitian and nutritionist Keri Glassman. The diet isn’t restricted only to sardines. Many people will be glad to hear that the diet doesn’t require them to eat sardines for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Rather, it encourages low calorie, high fiber, high protein and high omega 3 meals. We’ll consider what the diet entails, its potential benefits, as well as any cons associated with the Sardine Diet.

What the Diet Includes

Following this diet begins with purchasing the book, which includes numerous recipes and meal plans. The foods discussed in the book all use fish as the primary protein source and are designed to boost your intake in both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Since the recipes are provided and portions are pre-calculated, you never have to worry about counting your calories. This kind of detailed planning takes all the guesswork out of dieting for you and ensures that you’re eating properly.

The Sardine Diet consists of three meals and two snacks daily. The types of food you can expect to be eating on the sardine diet include “Albacore Tuna Wraps” and “Sardine Tostadas with Avocado Salsa.” One of the most outstanding features of the Sardine Diet is that sardines, tuna and the other fish that are featured are relatively inexpensive and easy to get. These fish are also low in mercury.




What it Does

The push for sardines and other fatty fish is based firmly on the well-documented benefits of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Although fat is a much maligned nutrient, there are both healthy and unhealthy fats. The fats that are emphasized in the Sardine Diet are extremely healthy, according to the American Heart Association. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, and slow the formation of harmful plaque on the walls of your arteries. Other potential benefits associated with these fats include reduced risk of breast cancer, improved mental health, improved joint health and decreased risk of inflammatory diseases like asthma and arthritis.

The Sardine Diet is also rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, which all work in conjunction to improve bone and joint health. High calcium intake is also associated with a lower risk of obesity.

Potential Faults and Considerations

No diet plan is ever perfect for everyone and, despite all of its touted benefits, there are things to consider before diving into the Sardine Diet. The first, and most obvious, factor to think about is how you feel about sardines and fish in general. Many people do not enjoy the taste and texture of the little fatty fish. The diet does allow for substitutions with other oily fish, like salmon, but sardines are the preferred option.

Another aspect to consider is the fact that, although it discusses it, the Sardine Diet offers no guidance regarding an exercise program. Diet is only one part of a healthy lifestyle, so when embarking on any diet you should never neglect your exercise plan.

Have you tried the Sardine Diet? Please share your experience with us in the comments.


Outdoor exercise as the seasons change

Runners and cyclists always have the option to take the easy way out when winter months make regular routes cold and wet. That’s one of the ways health clubs stay in business. But if you still appreciate the flexibility and experience of exercising outdoors, changing weather doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Just keep in mind these dos and don’ts to maximize effectiveness and minimize injuries.

1. Do schedule your workouts earlier in the day if possible. Shorter days and the holiday craziness at the beginning of the season can get you in the habit of skipping sessions. That’s a hard habit to break after the new year.

2. Don’t skimp on your wardrobe. Instead, buy the exercise wear you need to maintain a safe temperature throughout your workout. This usually means wearing layers in winter, so you can strip some off as you warm up.

3. Do contact a training partner if you don’t already have one. Low temperatures and rainy days can be a real motivation drainer. Having a buddy will help you get out there when your warm, comfy couch is calling too loudly. This is especially important if you’re one of the 1.5 million Americans who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. This technique also helps you stay safe from crime, and gives you a partner to assist you if you fall and become injured.

4. Don’t jump unprepared into winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. One reason these sports have high rates of injury is that people attempt them without proper physical training. A broken ankle from a bad day on the slopes will derail your winter exercise plan completely. If you want to take up a winter sport, spring for a training program to build the skills and conditioning you’ll need to do it safety. Most local clubs and facilities will offer one.

5. Do buy a headlamp and reflective vest. With fewer hours of daylight, you’ll find yourself on the road before dawn, at dusk and perhaps at night more often. Even if you set out before the streetlights go on, wear your safety gear in case your route takes longer than you anticipate.

6. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Thirst isn’t as oppressive in colder weather, and your layered clothes make it harder to realize how much you’re sweating — but that doesn’t mean you’re not losing water at a potentially dangerous rate.

7. Do stay alert for slippery terrain. Ice and snow can make for treacherous conditions, and often collect on the roadsides and trails outdoor exercisers use. The last thing you want is a ski-slope injury you sustained in your own neighborhood. If you live in an area that regularly gets snow and ice, you can buy shoe traction devices that act like snow chains for your feet.

8. Don’t forget to protect your hands and face. The Mayo Clinic warns that these body parts are particularly susceptible to frostbite, especially when you factor in the wind chill you generate while moving at a cardio pace. Wear gloves and a balaklava as the temperature begins to demand them.

9. Do be alert for signs of hypothermia. This may seem counter-intuitive as your body warms up with exercise, but it’s more common than you might expect. Protect yourself by scheduling breaks in areas with heat, and by keeping your sessions short enough to get in before the cold starts really taking effect. If you’re going long, consider running laps on a shorter course so you can get inside easily, or at least packing a fresh, dry shirt.

Use your home fitness equipment and set New Year’s resolutions that stick

Although investing in fitness equipment for your home certainly makes it easier to stick to your healthy lifestyle New Year’s resolutions, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll stay with your plan. If you’re thinking about making fitness the focus of your New Year’s resolutions this year, here are a few ways to make sure you end up finishing the year stronger and fitter than you rang it in.

Be Specific
Like any fitness goal, your New Year’s resolution needs to be more specific than simply “eating healthy” or “losing weight” (always big hits in January). Define your resolution according to your behavior, such as “work out three times each week,” or small milestones you will reach along the way, such as losing half a pound each week (two pounds per month). Achieving those small steps is likely to keep you motivated towards reaching your bigger goals, such as lowering your blood sugar or ending the year 20 pounds lighter.

Create a Schedule
Once you’ve defined your home fitness goal, start putting your workouts in ink on your calendar. You’re more likely to hit the treadmill (or elliptical or recumbent bike) if you make time for it upfront, rather than trying to find a place to squeeze your workout in each day. Think about the time that you’re most likely to be motivated to stick to your plan when designing your schedule. For the long run, exercisers who fit in morning or lunch-time workouts tend to be the most regular about sticking to their plan since there are fewer conflicts during these times of day.

The trick to these workouts is efficiency. On busy days, 20 to 30 minutes of quality exercise is still better than no workout at all. Build your weekday plan around effective workouts, such as intervals on your home fitness equipment and body weight strength training, which can make a big difference in a short period of time. Use your weekends and less hectic days for longer endurance training or unwinding with a yoga class.

Enlist Support
Whether you’re finding a workout buddy, scheduling time with a personal trainer, or talking to your family about your workout schedule, get those around you to support you in your efforts. Talking about your plans increases your commitment and getting others in your life onboard helps to move your roadblocks out of the way before they prevent you from reaching your goals. If you’re picking a training buddy, look for someone who is already committed to their fitness. This person is more likely to lead to you pushing yourself than a friend who is struggling with her own lifestyle battles.

Measure Your Progress
Making real changes to your fitness happens through small steps over time. It’s easy to lose sight of this and be discouraged by an off day or week. Whether it’s keeping track of the weight you lift or the number on your bathroom scale, find a way to measure your progress on a daily or weekly basis and evaluate yourself every four to six weeks. If you see progress over that time period, you’re moving toward your goals. It’s also a good idea to keep a few notes in your progress log. Record your victories, such as “felt great after my morning run” or “carried my three-year-old up the stairs,” so you can see how the changes you’re making are improving your life.

Stay Flexible
It’s easy to lose motivation when you miss a workout (and this WILL happen) or when the numbers on the scale refuse to move. Keep in mind that the changes you’re making in your life are about a lifestyle, not what happens on any given day. Try to reschedule your workouts if you can and recognize that small fluctuations in weight can happen in response to what you’ve eaten, swelling from a tough workout, or even carrying extra fluid from fighting a cold or flu. Build a plan B into your weekly schedule and work with your busy days.

Motivate Yourself with Technology
Whether you take advantage of measuring your progress and getting support through Nike+ on your Horizon Fitness products or download a calorie counting app onto your smartphone, technology can do incredible things for your motivation and helping you stick to your plan. Learning to use applications and becoming a part of online communities also increases your buy-in and commitment to your fitness program. As with choosing a workout buddy, look for forums and applications that are more likely to push you than excuse you.

Weigh In: Have you committed to a New Year’s resolution for 2013? What strategies will you use to make sure it sticks?

How to Align and Tension Your Treadmill Running Belt

Having trouble with keeping your running belt straight and centered? The running belt may stretch with use, causing it to fall out of alignment, shifting too far to the left or the right. This can also create unnecessary noise and wear on the running belt. Most commonly, the running belt may come out of alignment after lubrication procedures, if needed*, or when adjusting the tension if the running belt seems too loose. The loose feeling would be described as the belt feeling like it is slipping under the user’s feet, or if the running belt stops as soon as weight is applied to the belt to walk.

Don’t be intimidated by this issue. It can be resolved quickly and easily! Below, we are sharing our tips and instructions on how to center, align and tension your running belt.

First, make sure your machine and the surface the machine is on are level. If the surface is not level, try moving to a level spot on the floor, or think about purchasing a treadmill mat to help with this issue. If the floor is level but the machine is not, you may need to adjust the levelers at the bottom of the treadmill. Please refer to your owner’s manual for additional guidance with that procedure.

If all leveling checks out, then the next step would be to adjust the running belt itself. There are 2 tools that you will need. First, a Phillips head screwdriver is necessary to remove the screws that hold the rear end caps on if you want a clearer view of the bolts that adjust the running belt tension. The second required tool is an Allen wrench, preferably the blue-handled T-Wrench that came with the machine. The size of the T-wrench may vary, but generally it is a 6mm or 8mm.

Start by turning on the machine and pressing “Start.”  Adjust the speed to the lowest setting. Let the belt rotate a few times. If the running belt starts to shift toward one side, loosen the rear roller bolt on the opposite side ¼ turn clockwise. For example, if the running belt begins to shift to the left, loosen (turn counter clockwise) the right roller bolt a ¼ of a turn. The key to this is patience as you must wait five revolutions of the running belt between each adjustment. That will ensure you do not over correct the belt.

Continue this step, making ¼ turn adjustments after five revolutions until the belt no longer shifts to one side.

If the belt is still not centering after constant adjustment, then it is possible the front roller has become misaligned. Remove the front motor cover by extracting the Phillips screws attaching it to the frame. Once the treadmill roller bracketcover is removed, check the front roller bolt bracket. On the right hand side, (if standing on the machine), you should see a bolt suspended in a bracket that holds the front roller. Verify that bolt is centered in the bracket. If the bolt is too far forward or backward, adjust the bolt so that it is located right in the center of the bracket.

Next, test the tension by walking on the belt. Run the belt at a comfortable walking speed. Then, walk on the belt while holding the handlebars and step down firmly with your lead foot, trying to stop the belt with each step. If the belt still hesitates, tighten each rear roller bolt another ¼ turn per side. Once it stops hesitating, stop tensioning the belt. Over tightening can cause unnecessary stress on the rollers and belt.

Remember – a clockwise turn will tighten and counter-clockwise will loosen.

Hopefully these tips will have your treadmill belt running straight and working in peak condition. Remember to be patient as the small adjustments will work, they just take a little time.

*Note: Not all units require lubrication. Please refer to your Owner’s Manual for guidance.

The many benefits of the humble dandelion

Of all the weeds that can overtake our yards and ruin our gardens, the dandelion reigns supreme. However, despite its invasive nature, nutritionists and herbalists have long understood the value of the misunderstood dandelion.

In fact, both American and Chinese traditional medicines have used all parts of the dandelion to treat a variety of ailments for hundreds of years. Modern bodybuilders still make use of dandelion root tea and the plant can have wide nutritional benefits for anyone.

So instead of just disposing of all those annoying little yellow flowers when they cover your lawn next spring, consider cleaning them up and putting them to use.


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dandelions are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C and D. The plant also offers several minerals including iron, potassium and zinc. This is all in addition to the complex collection of plant chemicals that help the dandelion ward of bacterial and fungal infections.

Dandelions also contain a small amount of protein, carbohydrates and fiber, and are fat-free. The high fiber content means that dandelions will make you feel full quickly and, since dandelions have only about 25 calories per cup, the chances of you gaining weight from eating them are very slim, so to speak.

Other Uses and Benefits

The high levels of iron in the leaves and roots of the dandelion have contributed to its use as a liver tonic in many cultures. Although there is primary research to support that dandelions can help to improve both liver and gallbladder health, the studies were poorly designed and could not be replicated by other researchers.

Dandelion root is an effective and time-tested diuretic, however. Bodybuilders commonly use a tea made of dandelion root to quickly lose water weight and attain a more chiseled

look before a competition. The root tea is also thought to soothe an upset stomach and improve digestion, but these uses are generally based on anecdotal evidence. The dandelion root tea is conveniently available at many health food stores if you aren’t up to harvesting and preparing your own.

Animal studies have also shown that dandelions may help maintain healthy blood sugar, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. These results haven’t been reproduced, though, and human studies are needed to understand the full potential of this application.

How to Enjoy Them

All these factors considered, dandelions are pretty appealing from a nutritional standpoint. The flavor, though, can be a little off-putting. The greens are bitter and the roots are woody. The flowers do have a slightly sweet flavor but separating enough of them can be a difficult process.

Properly prepared, however, dandelions can be a tasty addition to any meal. The leaves can be tossed into a salad, steamed or even sauteed.

Recipes that call for bitter greens like arugula can easily be modified to include dandelion. The roots should be sauteed until soft and can be added to dishes for a nutty flavor.

If you decide to go foraging, pick a clean area, free from pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Use a short but sharp knife to cut the plant free, leaving the top of the root intact to hold the leaves together. If you plan on using the roots, simply dig the plants up. Stick to leaves that are small and young, since larger leaves will be more bitter. Make sure to wash the plants thoroughly in warm water.

Have you used dandelion in your diet before? Please tell us about it in the comments.


Ask an Expert: Time-crunched treadmill workouts

Ask Coach Jenny

 Q: I struggle this time of year to get in my workouts and I’m limited to the treadmill. Do you have any suggested workouts for the time-crunched runner?  ~Jessica

A: Hi, Jessica. You’re not alone. In fact, this time of year is when activity falls by the wayside in lieu of parties, shopping and busy schedules. The good news is you’re right on target in terms of how to stay on track this holiday season. It is better to get in short, frequent workouts than cancel because you can’t get in your normal 45 minutes. The key is to maintain momentum and make the most of the time you have.

Before we discuss the workouts, here are a few key rules to know before you go.

Always invest the allotted time to warm up by walking. You’ll start with a brisk walk, transition to a power walk, then run to fully prepare your body for the high-intensity workout ahead. This will make for a more pleasurable and optimal workout experience.

  • Post workout, cool down and let your heart rate and circulation return to their resting rate. In most cases, two to three minutes of easy-effort walking will do the trick.
  • Listen to your body. Avoid the trap of running by pace, and go by how your body is feeling instead. Some days this will be faster, and some days slower – but when you run by your body on a given day, you’ll gain the most for your effort.
  • If you’re new to high-intensity workouts, start with one of these workouts per week and see how your body responds. You can fill in the gaps with short, easy- effort runs in the meantime. This will help you maintain your momentum, recover optimally and progress to running more frequent high-intensity workouts per week.
  • Note to newbie exercisers: If you are new to the active life, make sure to develop a solid base of regular walking or running at least three times per week for 30-60 minutes each before weaving these workouts into your schedule. You’ll progress faster with a lower risk of injury and burnout.

Here are three, 30-minute workouts that are fun, functional and will keep you fit through the crazy-busy holiday season.

The Music Mix Mash-Up

Move to the rhythm of your own beat.

  • Create a music mix by alternating a slow-to-moderately paced song, like “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, with a fast-paced song, like “Beautiful Day” by U2.
  • Warm up by walking for 3 minutes at a brisk effort level.
  • For 25 minutes, alternate slow and fast songs, matching your effort level to each.
  • Run at an easy pace to slow music. After the warm up, run for the duration of the first song (slow-to-moderate) at a comfortable effort level where you can talk while you’re moving.
  • Run hard to fast music. Pick up the pace to a comfortably hard level where you can hear your breathing and you’re just outside your comfort zone for the entire duration of the fast-paced song.
  • Continue to alternate easy and hard efforts with the alternating songs on your custom playlist.
  • Cool down by walking 2 minutes at an easy effort.
  • Soon you’ll find that the time flies by quickly when you’re jamming to your favorite tunes!

The Mountain Climber

Moving up and down hills strengthens your legs and your stamina.

Changing the incline on the treadmill is just like strength training for your legs. The added resistance is a great way to increase the intensity, burn a ton of calories and utilize a variety of muscles. (Cut and paste this workout and tape it to the treadmill).

Warm up

  • Walk at a brisk pace for 3 minutes at 0% incline.
  • Start running at 0% incline for 5 minutes at an easy effort level (conversational pace).

Set 1

  • Keeping the speed the same, increase the incline to 1% and run for 1 minute.
  • Decrease incline to 0% for 2 minutes to catch your breath.

Set 2

  • Increase the incline to 2% and run for 1 minute.
  • Decrease to 1% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease to 0% for 2 minutes to catch your breath.

Set 3

  • Increase the incline to 3% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease to 2% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease the incline to 1% for 1 minute.
  • Recover with 2 minutes at 0%.

Set 4

  • Increase the incline to 4% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease progressively, 3% for 1 minute, 2% for 1 minute and finally 1% for 1 minute.
  • Recover with 2 minutes at 0%.

Cool Down

  • Finish running at 0% incline for 2 minutes at an easy effort level (conversational pace).
  • Finish your cool down walking 2 minutes at an easy effort.

The Pyramid

Time flies when you move at the speed of light. Alternating the speed of your workout with fast and slow intervals boosts cardiovascular fitness and running form.

Warm up

Walk 3 minutes at a brisk effort level.


Run 8 minutes at an easy effort level (conversational). Then alternate the following:

  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 60 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 2 minutes at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 90 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 3 minutes at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 60 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 2 minutes at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath

Cool down

Finish with 2 minutes of easy-paced walking or running and cool down.

Train with the Intervals Program on Your Exercise Bike for a Change of Pace

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise BikeThe Intervals program on a Vision Fitness® upright or recumbent bike can be a valuable tool in your fitness regimen. Bikes are a great way to get your cardio training in, while giving your skeletal system a break from the stress of a weight-bearing exercise like treadmill running. One of the keys to exercising on a bike is maintaining a sufficient level of intensity so you are maximizing your time spent exercising. Unlike a treadmill that forces a user to keep up, on a bike, the user must push himself/herself to keep the level of intensity up where he/she is truly benefiting from the workout. This is where a program like Intervals can really help.

What is interval training?
Interval training is a method of training where you increase and decrease the level of intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic training. The goal for interval training is to push the body past the aerobic threshold for a few moments and then return to your aerobic conditioning level with the objective of improving your performance.

The aerobic threshold is the intensity where your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat to a greater percentage of carbohydrates. A general parameter to measure where this threshold is would be 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. According to the web site, train below 85 percent and it’s aerobic; train above 85 percent and it’s anaerobic. (For more info on monitoring your heart rate, click here.)

Using the preset Intervals program

After selecting the Intervals program on your console, you will be prompted to enter in your age, your desired time and your weight. Once you have done this, the console will then ask you to enter in the difficulty level. This may require a trial and error period as you figure out which level will best challenge you. The resistance level will automatically change from segment to segment, alternating between a higher level of resistance (the active phase) and a lower level of resistance (the rest phase). These changes in resistance are designed to push you past your aerobic zone and into your anaerobic zone during the active phase, as described in the paragraph above. The duration of each segment is determined by the total time you entered in the beginning.

The benefits of interval training are numerous, and it is becoming the preferred method of training for many of today’s elite athletes. Benefits such as burning more fat, decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, strengthening your immune system, and lowering cholesterol, are all attributed to interval training according to Dr. Joseph Mercola ( Also, it can ultimately put less stress on your joints because you are exercising for shorter periods of time.

The beauty of this program, especially on a bike, is that anyone can start it and begin to reap the benefits immediately. Interval training can closely simulate participating in sports such as basketball, soccer and lacrosse. All are activities that include quick bursts of energy intermingled with periods of active rest.

Interval training has long been a favorite of coaches because it can be an effective means of improving an athlete’s cardiovascular capacity, thus helping their performance on the field. It can also help an individual burst through those dreaded “plateaus” we have all encountered at one time or another after performing the same exercise routines for an extended period of time.

For me personally, the active phase helps push me to workout harder, while reducing my perception of how long I have been working out, a big-time bonus in my opinion. So if you are looking for some variety and want to spice things up, I suggest you get off your feet, get on a bike and challenge yourself with an intense Intervals program.


5 Ways to fit in fitness during the holidays

The holiday season means plenty of shopping, cooking, eating, drinking and … exercise.


If you’re like most people, maybe not so much. Hectic schedules — coupled with colder temperatures and fewer daylight hours — prompt many people to throw their fitness routine to the curb until after the New Year.

But you don’t have to let yourself go during the holidays. Taking care of yourself, with exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep, is key for good health. Regular exercise can also increase your energy levels and ease holiday stress. Not to mention being active can help keep the eggnog and stuffing from lingering on your hips. The average person gains about one pound during the holiday season, but exercise can help you ward off this weight gain.

Here are five tips to help you keep your exercise regime in the middle of the holiday crunch:

1. Set realistic goals. If you usually run five days per week, shoot for three or four days each week during this busy time of year. If you normally spend an hour on the elliptical, just aim for 20 to 30 minutes. Likewise, save big goals — like losing 10 lbs or training for a marathon — until a time when you have fewer obligations. Strive to maintain your weight and fitness level during the holidays and rev it up again come January.

2. Plan ahead. Map out the day and set aside time for fitness. We tend to find time for our biggest priorities, so carve out some time in your day to be active. Take a walk on your lunch break, do a workout DVD instead of lounging in front of the TV or wake up 15 minutes earlier and start your day with a short yoga sequence.

3. Multitask. Skip the gym and get in a workout while crossing off items on your holiday to-do list. Power-walk while you shop, do lunges, push-ups and sit-ups while you wait for your pumpkin pie to bake and dance while you tidy the house. Remember that some exercise is always better than none.

4. Be flexible. Planned on going to the gym but mall traffic tied you up? Sometimes even the best of intentions get thwarted. Try to find time for a shortened exercise session later in the day. But don’t sweat it if you end up skipping a workout or two. Experts say we can usually afford to cut back on exercise for a few weeks without sacrificing fitness.

5. Create new traditions. The holidays are a joyful time to catch up and celebrate with loved ones.The laughter and reminiscing doesn’t have to take place around the dinner table, though. Now is the perfect time to create new, active traditions with your family. Gather the troops and play an annual Thanksgiving game of tough football, ask your friends to join you for a local “jingle jog” 5k race and take the kids ice skating on New Year’s Eve.

How do you motivate yourself to stay active over the holidays? I always remind myself that I’ll never regret doing a workout, but I’ll almost always regret skipping it.


The skinny on holiday dieting

Staying on your diet during the holidays can be a real challenge, so much so that many people simply opt to call all of December a giant “cheat day.” This can lead to discouragement and destructive crash dieting come January.

Instead, try any (or all) of these 20 basic tips to keep yourself on the straight and narrow in the face of holiday temptations and feasts.

1. Hold activity-centric, not food-centric, holiday gatherings. Bonus points for making it something active in its own right, like a long family walk, ice-skating, or caroling.

2. Switch to a diet that includes weekly “cheat days,” and schedule those cheat days to coincide with the most tempting feasts and parties.

3. Make diet-friendly menu decisions whenever you host a party, such as a platter of fruits and veggies instead of a bunch of holiday cookies.

4. Load up with low-cal snacks, like fruits, veggies and some lean protein, before going to holiday parties, so you’re less tempted to munch.

5. Drink only water throughout the month, eliminating those “invisible calories” that come in punches, soft drinks and hot toddies.

6. Allow yourself just three bites (or just one) of any can’t-resist holiday treat. This gives you the pleasure of the taste without adding too many calories.

7. Wait five to 10 minutes before getting a second helping, or even a first helping of a sweet treat. This will help you determine whether you’re hungry, or just craving.

8. Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew each bite thoroughly, and take time to talk with guests between each bite.

9. Don’t eat anything while packing up leftovers. If necessary, make that somebody else’s job.

10. Commit to eating nothing while standing in front of the refrigerator from Black Friday to New Year’s.

11. Volunteer to be the designated driver. Alcohol is high in calories, and even being a little drunk will reduce your inhibitions.

12. Plan your routes at work to avoid the “snack table” that seems to magically appear as Christmas approaches.

13. Remember you’re only human. If you have a rough night that could undermine your weight loss, forgive yourself and do better for the rest of the month. Don’t just give up and call off your diet for the duration.

14. Favor lean proteins and vegetables when dishing up your plate. These are the best choices for filling up faster and avoiding snack cravings later.

15. Use a point-counting system like Weight Watchers, the Atkins diet or simple calorie counting . You don’t have to whip out a slide rule and graph, but these programs can help you keep better track of what you eat throughout each day. Even keeping a basic food journal logging each meal will help you stay accountable for your dietary choices.

16. Take steps to reduce holiday stress, since stress-eating can throw you off track.

17. Fix low-calorie dishes, like a salad, whenever you’re in control of the menu or when bringing a contribution to a holiday potluck. Add dried fruit, nuts and goat cheese for indulgent flavors without the guilt and drizzle with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

18. Arrive a bit late to parties to reduce the amount of time you’re tempted by sweets and snacks. Plus, other guests may unknowingly help your cause by eating all the bacon-wrapped treats you can’t seem to give up before you get there.

19. Eat frequent small meals at home, so you’re not tempted to overdo it at the calorie-rich, treat-heavy holiday feasts.

20. Get a friend or relative who’ll be with you often on board with your goals, somebody who can help you stay accountable to yourself.

Readers, what are some other ideas you have for staying the course on your holiday diet? Tell us your ideas, successes and tales of woe in the comments. 

Passport™ Media Player with Virtual Active™

Passport™ Media Player with Virtual Active™ transforms a normal indoor workout into a dynamic outdoor adventure. Featuring stunning HD videos from some of the most beautiful destinations around the world, users choose when and where they want to exercise. Explore the scenic diversity of Northern Italy or follow the River Aar out of the mountains while exercising near the Swiss Alps. With a growing number of guided workout locations available, users are sure to remain motivated, entertained and healthy.

What is Virtual Active™?

Passport Media Player - Northern Italy
Visit Northern Italy in the comfort of your living room with Virtual Active™

Virtual Active™ makes first-person, forward-motion video footage, designed to enhance the workout experience on treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes. Everything seen and heard in the videos is real and was filmed on location. During a Virtual Active™ workout, the equipment automatically adjusts the intensity level (incline and/or resistance) to match the terrain seen on the course. The video speed automatically syncs with the user’s speed on the equipment, and ambient sounds from the course can be heard in the background. Information and history about the course’s location is shown on-screen, as well as the user’s workout information. All of this provides exercisers with a unique opportunity to escape the confines of their regular workout routine and discover new and exciting places to exercise around the world.Two Virtual Active™ workouts are included on the Vision Fitness® Touch and Elegant consoles for treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes.

What is Passport™?

The Passport™ Media Player is Passport™ Media Player on a Vision Fituness Treadmillused to deliver this content to users that don’t have Virtual Active™ integrated into their cardio equipment. Users simply connect the Passport™ Media Player to their home television, insert the included USB and their cardio equipment connects wirelessly to the Media Player. The same stunning HD footage from places like Piazza San Marco in Venice or the cliffs of the Grand Canyon are displayed on their home television, perfectly synced with the users speed and elevation.

The Passport™ media player is sold separately and is compatible with the Vision Fitness Touch, Elegant, and Classic consoles for treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes. Stop by your local Vision Fitness retailer to try it out.