Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making the fitness commitment and other lies we tell ourselves...

The new year is right around the corner and right on cue, the gym advertisements and diet commercials are coming to you in full force. Many people purchase personal training sessions as gifts for loved ones pledging to make THIS YEAR the year of change. Last year was the same deal, but this year it's for real. Yeah, this year you're going to make it happen...right? 

Perhaps you've seen articles like this one circulating the interwebs:,0,5532717.story#axzz2mRHP4JEp. It's a great layman's overview of why "fat and happy" cannot be so. I spend several lectures in my Exercise Physiology course outlining the fine details of why and how, but the takeaway from those not interested in reliving their college coursework days is that it's true: even if you are overweight or obese and you get gold-star from the doc at your physical that every checks out, the goings-on deep within your cells likely depict a different outcome. Your blood pressure may be normal, your sugars good, your fats and cholesterol all checking in as healthy, yet your body composition is far from ideal. Herein lies the complex issues surrounding "preventive" interventions in healthcare settings and at what point your healthcare providers should say something about that extra ten pounds you tacked on between November-January. 

This is the point: often it takes a medical "emergency" to get your attention. It often requires a surgical consult, or a referral to a specialist, an expensive prescription, some extra step you must now take to improve your health as a result of poor habits compounding over time. Chronic disease, you see, is just that: it takes a long time to develop and manifest in obvious ways like a heart attack or Type II diabetes. The preceding time-frame prior to such diagnoses is, for we health professionals, the key moment to highlight the importance of lifestyle choices that help reverse trajectories before they become life-threatening. That extra ten pounds you gained in two months may NOT manifest as hypertension or hypercholesterolemia, but it is something you can often see through fat accumulation or feel through increased fatigue, sleeplessness, propensity for mindless eating, etc. Over time, that harmless ten pounds turns into ten more pounds, then another ten, and thirty pounds later you wake up one morning wondering how the hell you gained weight seemingly in a matter of weeks. 

So if you choose to make the commitment to improve your health in 2014, MAKE the commitment. This is a great article from Competitor Magazine discussing "getting serious" about weight loss: There are countless research articles supporting the use of self-monitoring for effective behavior change, not limited to weight loss, and in order to self-monitor you really need have a series of SMART goals in mind. SMART- specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, time-oriented. Sounds like a lot just to set a goal, but think about it: you want to lose weight... why? If the reason isn't coming from you, evidence suggests you won't have much success. You can't vow to lose weight because your spouse wants you to or because your your friends are all dieting but you could care less. Meaningful and successful change is intrinsic, supported by extrinsic variables (rewards, social support, etc). In order to make a commitment and keep it, YOU must want it. 
This is a lot of fluffy cheerleader talk leading up to my primary point for this post: healthy living doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. I've mentioned my intentions to try and practice quick, healthy, easy recipes that I can whip out in a matter of minutes with minimal ingredients in preparation for B3's arrival.  One such recipe (which my hubby happens to LOVE) is baked chicken fingers. So, here's my doctored-up recipe for baked chicken fingers (we paired it with a side salad with feta cheese, strawberries, glazed pecans, and strawberry vinaigrette). 

Ally's Baked Chicken Fingers:
-Organic chicken tenders (I used Kroger's "Simple Truth" brand)- 1lb
-3 cups whole wheat cereal of choice (I used Wheat Chex tonight but I've used many other kinds in the past)
-1/2 cup honey mustard
-1/3 cup light mayo
-2 tbsp honey

-Preheat oven to 375. Bake chicken for approx 15 minutes or until cooked through. 
-Combine mustard, mayo, and honey in large bowl. When chicken is completely cooked, toss in mustard mix to coat. Save any extra sauce for dipping later. 
-Crush the wheat cereal in a plastic bag (or use a food processor) and coat chicken with ground cereal. 
-Lay coated chicken fingers on baking sheet and cook 10-15 minutes or until cereal appears crispy/darkened.
-Serve warm with honey mustard dipping sauce... enjoy! 

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