As we near the first day of Spring, our feelings towards the winter weather tend to loosen up. We've made it through the worst months known for the unforgiving weather, and by this point, we're daydreaming about those warm, sunny days. Soon, we'll be tucking away those wool socks and swapping them out for sandals, ditching the jeans and thick sweaters for shorts and tank tops... that sounds really nice until you try on said shorts and tank top only to realize they seem to fit a bit more snug than you remember from last year. If that's the case, have no fear. You've caught yourself in time to be able to drop some weight healthily so that when it's time to step out in those shorts, you'll be feeling maybe even better than you did last year. It all begins with making simple, but effective changes. Everyone leads busy lives, and here at Nexus, we get that. By operating as a 24-hour training facility, we hope that it helps our members to be able to make time for the gym, whenever their schedules can allow it. While staying reasonably active is one way to drop some pounds, making some healthier alternatives to the foods you may already be eating is a simple and effective way to kick-start your summer body.
Veggies and Dip:
If you find yourself snacking on veggies and dip and you still can't seem to notice a difference – take a look at the nutritional label and see what the fat contents are in your dip. Often, cream based dips are loaded with fat and don't offer too much nutritional value. Hummus is a fantastic alternative to veggies and dips and also contains a lot more protein (and less fat) compared to traditional vegetable dips. You can find hummus in a variety of flavours, like original, roasted red pepper, garlic, and sweet potato that we are sure anyone can find a hummus that best suits their tastebuds! If you still insist on a cream based dip, opt for selections that have Greek yogurt in them to increase your protein intake; this tends to lower the amount of fat you consume as Greek yogurt is typically lower in fat and offers more protein per serving than regular dips.
Another healthier swap in your diet is ditching the beloved sour cream. I know, taco night is coming up and what will you use as a substitute that won't make you feel as though you're missing out, or depriving yourself?! The answer, my friends, is Plain Greek yogurt. Yes, I agree with the majority that on its own, Plain Greek yogurt is very bitter tasting. But, used as a substitute for sour cream, you will hardly notice the difference! It still offers that creamy taste that goes perfectly with tex mex cheese and salsa while providing yourself with less fat and (depending on which Greek yogurt you choose) fewer calories per serving. You'll be eating more protein without even realizing it! Don't stop at taco night for making the switch; if you're into baking and a recipe calls for sour cream, swap it out 1:1 for Plain Greek yogurt. This minor adjustment will hardly make a difference in the final taste while treating yourself to some freshly baked goodness.
Pre-Packaged Oatmeal Packets:
We understand that convenience is key to eating healthier, but you may unintentionally be eating way more sugar than you wanted. If you like your morning oatmeal and use those pre-packaged flavoured oatmeal packs, have a look at the sugar contents. A simple and cost-effective tip is buying a bag of old-fashioned oatmeal (not quick oats either as these are processed). You can prepare your breakfast ahead of time, cut up fresh apples or berries and throw in some cinnamon for an equally delicious breakfast. If the sweetness is not quite there yet, try drizzling honey on top instead of adding sugar as it is a more natural form of sugar, rather than being processed. The only thing you will need to do in the morning is boil water and pour over the bowl, let sit for a couple of minutes and enjoy as you normally would!
If you are an orange juice lover, well, we've got some bad news for you. A typical grocery store orange juice contains 24 grams of sugar per serving – twice the amount found in an orange. Try switching to an orange and reap the benefits, aside from its natural vitamin C, you will also be getting an extra 3 grams of fiber while reducing your daily sugar intake right from the start of your day.
You know where I'm going with this one. Bacon, while I admit is delicious, is killing your attempts at having a summer body. It is high in fat and sodium, which leaves you feeling bloated and lethargic for the rest of the day. If you insist on having eggs and bacon for breakfast, have no fear, there is a healthier alternative! Many grocery stores offer regular pork bacon, but there is also turkey and chicken bacon available too! Turkey bacon is a leaner option by providing 25 fewer calories than pork bacon and has less sodium per serving. If you're curious to learn more about pork bacon versus turkey bacon, click here.
A better option would be to ditch the bacon altogether as it is not a lean cut of meat. Instead, fry up some chicken with mushrooms, onions, and spices along with your eggs for an equally full flavoured breakfast that could become your new favourite.
There's nothing like a good plate of pasta, but are you eating enough vegetables in your day? Next time you're planning a pasta night, consider using spaghetti squash or zucchini as a substitute! Many adults are not meeting the recommended daily dietary intake of vegetables, and by replacing pasta with vegetables, you can eat more food and worry less about your caloric intake for the meal. According to an article in Readers Digest, squash contains 42 calories per cooked cup compared to 221 calories per cup with pasta. By switching to squash over pasta you will also be reducing the number of carbs per serving – squash only contains 10 grams to traditional pasta's 43 grams of carbs per serving while also giving you an extra helping of nutrients such as vitamins A and C and antioxidants lutein and zeananthin. If you are a lasagna lover but aren't quite sure how to make this classic dish healthier, try slicing the zucchini to mimic the length and thickness of regular lasagna noodles for an easy swap. Here is a recipe that I have personally used, and have loved! It is a definite must, especially if you are still looking for a good hearty meal to get you through the cooler days.
If you're not so good with your knife skills and are still looking for fun ways to cook with zucchini, a spiralizer is the best option. Many big box stores such as Walmart, Canadian Tire and Bed Bath and Beyond carry these fun kitchen gadgets offered at affordable prices.
A valued Nexus member