Clean Eating Basics

Clean Eating Basics

You’ve probably heard the term “clean eating” or maybe you know people who say they are starting to “eat clean.” While it may seem like a term that has gotten popular in the last few years, many people will recognize the basics of clean eating diets because it’s how their grandparents naturally ate.  The reality is that the basis of all clean eating plans or diets is simply choosing to avoid all (or most) packaged and processed foods.

Depending on whose diet you are looking at, you may see variations; such as cutting out all forms of dairy, drinks other than water or red meat. Other clean eating plans have also been known to recommend the complete elimination of gluten.

What’s the simplest strategy to take in a clean eating program?

It’s the one that is easiest to follow as well as remember. Many of our grandparents and great grandparents followed a “clean eating” plan without consciously thinking about it. It was natural to them because the amount and variety of packaged and processed foods were either not available at the time or they were not readily available.

Eliminate packaged and processed foods.

Check labels. If you do have to buy something that is packaged or canned, look for added sugars, salts, and fats. If you can develop the habit of always checking for extra forms of sugar, salt and fat, you’ll find that you cut down on a lot of extra ingredients that really add up. Don’t worry about the food not having a lot of flavor. Remember you can always add your own salt or sweeten things to the level that you desire.

Some nutrition experts recommend choosing foods with five or less ingredients and eliminating products that have artificial sweeteners (e.g. , acesulfame potassium,sucralose, aspartame) or artificial colors.

Watch out for extra sugar.

Sugar is probably one of the biggest obstacles a clean eater can run into. You’ll find it overloaded into everything from pizza sauce to yogurt to salad dressing to flavored water. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (9 for men).  With the way sugar is labeled on our products, that can sometimes be difficult to calculate and watch carefully but Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! – shares an easy tip on how to get around this. Simply, take the grams of sugar on a product’s label and divide by 4. That gives you the number of teaspoons in a serving. Anything with more than 2 teaspoons per serving should not go in your shopping cart. .

Select “real” food that you recognize.

If you recognize it as it is, that’s a “real” food. Avoid products that have a dozen ingredients on the label with names you don’t recognize. Shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season. You’ll get better nutrient density and freshness this way. Remember it’s okay to use frozen fruits and vegetables – just avoid purchasing any that are sauced. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables can also help you save money especially when out of season.

Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated while limiting alcohol and caffeine.

Let’s face it, our bodies won’t perform at their best without plenty of hydration. That means hydration helps us feel more energized, focused, calm and allows the systems in our body to function at their best. Try to drink 6 glasses of water daily. This can include flavored waters, non-caffeinated drinks and herbal teas. You can always make your own delicious, refreshing drink by filling a pitcher with water and slices of cucumber or oranges and letting it sit overnight.

While there is plenty of evidence supporting that caffeine can provide energy and alertness, it can also cause insomnia, stomach upset, nervousness or a feeling of agitation leading to lack of focus and irritability so use wisely and limit your intake to avoid negative side effects.

How Soon Can You See Results?

Clean eating is like most other diets or nutrition plans in that you have to stick to them and be consistent in order to see the results you’re working towards. It’s safe to say that if, until now, you have not been in the practice of eating clean and avoiding processed, packaged foods (and the usually included preservatives), you’ll begin to feel a difference in your energy levels, your focus and overall well-being even if you stick to the plan 75%-85% of the time vs. strictly following the rules 100% of the time.

Common sense reminder: Before you start any diet or nutrition plan, always talk to your doctor especially when planning to cut out entire food groups from your diet.

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Treadmill Walking 101

Treadmill Walking 101

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some of you may turn to your treadmill to get your steps in. It’s important to have proper technique and safety to get the best out of your treadmill walk.

1. Begin standing with one foot on each side of the treadmill. Step on the treadmill and start at a slow rate of speed and slowly increase the speed. Be sure to know where the red emergency switch is located on most machines.

2. Do not hold onto the side rails or front console. You often see people holding on and leaning back while walking. This is incorrect posture and could be dangerous.

3. Stand up straight, head up, eyes forward, arms swinging in stride with your feet. Stride with your front heel striking close to your body while your back foot remains on the ground longer to give a powerful push-off. This back foot push off is what gives you speed and power, and will help you burn more calories.

Big Screen Treadmill Interval Walking Workout

Interval workouts alternate very fast and slower-paced walking for a great cardiovascular workout and a high calorie burn.

Start your treadmill workout during a favorite tv show or movie. Decide your walking fast pace points in the show and slow pace points in the show. For example, if you’re watching The Biggest Loser, walk at a very fast pace during each part of a challenge on a show, then slow way down during the commercials. If you’re a sports fan, go fast during breakaways on hockey and slow down when the whistle blows. Soap opera fan? Up and down with every kiss, fight or gun shot.

Total time: 47 minutes.

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5 Quick Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

5 Quick Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

Summer is finally here! For many of us that means FINALLY getting to go outside and do all the outdoors-y activities we couldn’t do earlier in the year.

If you are a walker and participating in a walking or activity program, you may be excited at the prospect of getting your steps in outside instead on the treadmill or at the gym.

Still, summer can also mean extreme heat and humidity. These things can make it tough to spend any time outdoors without getting sunburn, heat stroke or experiencing dehydration—let alone regular exercise. Exercising, to some degree, in the heat is normally safe for most people.  Nevertheless, putting a few safeguards in place will help you keep cool and prevent heat associated problems.

Keep Alert for Danger Signs from Your Body

Usually, your body cools off when sweat evaporates off your skin. However, when heat and humidity rise, sweat isn’t able to disappear as fast as it would under other normal circumstances. Hot weather and high body temperature combined with exercise can be unsafe and even deadly.

Let’s face it: We aren’t like the heroes in our favorite movies. For these characters, it seems like they can keep going no matter the weather or the temperature. We’re normal people. That means we need to pay attention to the signs. If your body gets overheated it can cause physical symptoms like faintness, muscle cramps, dehydration, light-headedness, confusion, rapid heart rate and headache. If neglected, becoming overheated, can lead to unconsciousness, vomiting, trouble breathing and the inability to sweat. All of these are signs of heat stroke and require urgent medical attention.

All that being said, we don’t have to give up or just not exercise because it’s hot outdoors. Remember, we wanted it to warm up specifically for this reason!

Check Out These 5 Tips to Help You Beat the Heat:

1. Get a Check Up and a Thumbs Up from Your Doc. Newbies to fitness, working out or even those who are used to working out but who may be taking any medications, should check with their physician or medical professional before working out or exercising in the summer heat.  There are some medications that could possibly weaken your body’s ability to normalize temperature.

2. Protect Your Skin and Wear Suitable Clothing. Cotton does not wick away moisture as well as loose-fitting polyester/cotton blends. These or synthetic fibers designed especially for wicking during exercise are your best choices. Don’t forget to generously apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.  We recommend you use an oil-free formula. Oil-free formulas are less likely to interfere with your body’s ability to cool down. Many people also like to choose a wide brimmed hat to shield their face from the sun.

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. This is super important. Remember to keep drinking water before, during and after your exercise routine or even when hanging out and playing games, being involved in water sports or other outdoor recreation.  Try switching to a sports drink with electrolytes if you exercise for more than an hour at a time.

4. Time of Day and Air Quality Awareness. If you live in areas where there can be high levels of smog or your city publicizes smog alerts, be sure to check these before heading outdoors for exercise. It’s wise to decrease the intensity of your workout level on days with extreme heat and high smog.

When it comes to time of day – remember that early in the morning or early evening times are often the coolest parts of the day. In some southern states, it doesn’t cool down til well after 8:00 pm at night so factoring in how much light you’ll need may become an important component in your exercise schedule.

5. Check Your Heart Rate and Keep Alert for Danger Signs. While you are exercising, monitor your heartbeat. If your intensity level increases and exceeds your target range, don’t push it during extreme heat. It’s best to slow down to avoid further heat related stress. Use common sense and keep alert for any of the danger signs we mentioned above.

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Eating Smart and Healthy While on Vacation


Going on vacation is not an excuse to stop eating healthy. With a bit of planning, you can still eat healthy and not feel deprived. Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Plan your food splurges like you plan your souvenir budget.
  • Make your meals part of your itinerary, slow down and enjoy the experience.
  • Vacations are a special one-time deal, so go ahead and sample exotic tastes, but do it in moderation.
  • Save room for local delicacies later in the day and never deprive yourself of a taste.
  • Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are comfortable.
  • Pack healthy snacks or keep a list of suggestions to help make better choices (see snack ideas below).
  • Don’t be shy in restaurants, ask how the food is prepared. Most restaurants are more than happy to help you make a healthy selection.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Shop the night before and get a banana, whole grain cereal and milk; store it in your hotel refrigerator for a leisurely meal in the morning.
  • Drink water. Drink water. Drink water. Have a bottle with you at all times and keep it filled. If traveling by car, keep a case in the trunk.
  • Remember to walk – it’s your secret weapon.

For ideas on planning a walking vacation, checkout last Monday’s Move! in the Walkingspree blog.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. Share your travel and snack tips with us in the comment section below or post them on our Facebook page.

- Fruit like bananas, apples, grapes … the list is endless.
- Cut up veggies
- String cheese – look for low-fat
- Unsweetened applesauce packs
- Salsa with sliced cucumbers instead of chips
- Box of raisins
- Nuts in single serving packets
- Fat-free microwave popcorn (for the hotel room)
- Granola bars (check the calories)
- Whole wheat pretzels
- Graham crackers
- Whole grain crackers
- Animal crackers
- Instant oatmeal
- Yogurt

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Little Changes Lead to a Healthier Eating Style

Little Changes Lead to a Healthier Eating Style

Most people aren’t born knowing how to pick the right foods to eat. They usually model the behavior of the adults and people around them. As a rule, we tend to eat in the style and patterns that our families do. If mom made pot roast every Sunday and chicken fried steak on Fridays, you might choose to carry on that tradition.

When we asked around at the Walkingspree headquarters, we learned that there are some eating styles that don’t necessarily have to do with a food tradition but a habit. For example, one of our account managers said that her family would eat in front of the television every night. Most of us have eaten (at some point) in front of the television. Some families even consider it “together time” or “family time.” This can work against your health and nutrition in more than one way. If you are just focusing on the television, mindlessly eating, you may keep eating after you are full; resulting in a pattern of overeating. For some children, a bright screen playing a show in front of them is enough to make them drop everything and not eat their dinner at all. Later that evening, they will tell their parents that they are hungry and ask for a snack which is often something unhealthy.

The marketing manager at Walkingspree reported that growing up, her parents always stopped at the convenience store on the corner to get soft drinks before completing errands, going to visit grandma and they would even stop at the same store for another drink on the way home. As an adult, she found herself doing these things with her children: Stopping for a slush at the local Sonic, grabbing a soft drink out of the coolers in the grocery store and, of course, it was a rule that every time she passed a certain BBQ joint, she needed to stop for sweet tea.

Little Changes Lead to Big Results

What eating patterns or habits are comfortable to you simply because you grew up with them?  We all have them and they don’t just go away unless we identify them. The marketing manager in the paragraph above chose to stop drinking regular sodas and switch to diet sodas. It was tough. All her life, for as long as she could remember, she’d drank several Dr. Peppers or Cokes per day. So, it was a very conscious commitment to be healthier. She decided to go for a walk 3-4 times a week. It was usually not more than 30 minutes and involved playing with her son and their dog. Still, it was being active and that counted in a big way! One year later, she was 35 pounds lighter. No strict diet involved. A year after that, she felt that diet sodas were not good for her health either. So, she dropped the diet sodas to become soft drink free. Does it mean her diet is 100% on track now? No. Getting healthier is about making small changes over time. Her kids still ask for soft drinks and colas in the check out line (but not nearly as often) and they accept it easily when she says “not this time.”  They are making small changes little by little just like their mom.

We’re here to tell YOU that making small changes works!

Whether its one change at a time in your eating habits or one step at a time in a walking program, don’t get down on yourself and don’t give up.

Below is a short video about a single parent trying to make the best choices for her family. Her thoughts on changing eating patterns and how to do it are real and genuine. It’s something real people living real lives, with crazy, stress filled schedules can appreciate. Check it out by clicking the picture below and if you want to see other helpful, short videos like this one, be sure to visit www.choosemyplate.gov/videos


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