Sneaky Ways to Increase Your Metabolism

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In my early 20s, it seemed like I could eat whatever I wanted and still either lose or maintain my weight. Sure, I was exercising on a regular basis back then, just like I am now, but in college, losing and maintaining my weight just seemed easier. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has finally acknowledged that our metabolism does slow down as we get older. On average, women gain 1.5 pounds a year during adulthood, which can easily translate into 30-5o extra pounds by the by we reach 50! Ugh – that’s not what I wanted to hear either!

Luckily, there are ways to prevent this age-related weight gain. There are obvious ways to help keep the weight off, including reducing daily calorie intake and increasing cardiovascular exercise. However, according to Prevention magazine, there are other sneaky things that can do to help rev up our slow metabolism and help us avoid mid-life weight gain, including:

10 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism

  1. Eat More – It’s true, we do want to reduce our calorie intake as we get older, but we don’t want to drop below 1,200 calories a day. Consuming less than 1,200 calories can cause our body’s metabolism to slow down and burn precious muscle for the energy that your diet is not providing.
  2. A Cup of Joe – Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and helps speed up metabolism. But, like anything else, you don’t want to go overboard on the caffeine either.
  3. Go Whole or Go Home – We all know that white breads, pastas, and carbs in general have very little nutritional value, particularly in the fiber area. But what you may not know is that fiber can help increase our fat burn by 30%! So, limit the white carbs and go for the fiber-rich whole grains. How can you tell if your bread is whole grain?
  4. Embrace the Cold – Drinking cold water and other calorie-free beverages may help to raise our resting metabolism – possibly because we expend more energy to heat the cold water within our bodies.
  5. Avoid Pests – Research has shown that people who consume large amounts of food treated with pesticides may experience a dip in their metabolism and may be more at risk for weight gain. Although it’s unrealistic to assume that you can always buy organic produce, you may want to consider buying the more pesticide-heavy produce in their organic form. What are the best foods to buy organic?
  6. Eat Your Protein – Research shows that protein can increase our postmeal calorie burn. Furthermore, our body needs protein to maintain lean muscle, which also helps increase our metabolism and calorie burn.
  7. Pump Some Iron – No, I don’t mean weight-lifting, although that’s important too. I’m talking about the mineral iron. We need iron-rich foods to carry the oxygen our muscles need to burn fat. By nature, women lose iron each month during menstruation. If we don’t replenish our iron stores, we run the risk of having low energy and a sluggish metabolism.
  8. Get Your Vitamins – Vitamin D helps preserve our muscle tissue that speeds up our metabolism. Afraid you’re not getting enough? Try these great sources of Vitamin D: fortified milk and cereal, salmon, tuna, and eggs.
  9. Limit Booze – Alcohol burns less fat and what it does burn, it burns more slowly than most foods/drinks.
  10. Increase Calcium – Research shows that calcium deficiency may be linked to slow metabolism in women. So make sure you’re drinking your milk and eating your yogurt! What has more calcium, Greek or regular yogurt?

Now, get that metabolism cranking!

Red, White, and Blue Breakfast

I continued my quest to be the ultimate weekend warrior. Well, it’s not really a quest, but I seem to be doing a lot of weekend projects lately. I knew the day was going to be a busy but good day. My 7-mile run was kick-ass, ended up running it with 8:10 minute miles, woo hoo! That is faster than I ran on Friday when I ran a 5-miler. I felt so energized after my run too, probably because of the cool mist that followed me on the road.

Next was breakfast – a bowl of 16 g of fiber! In other words, I had a cup of Kashi Go Lean crunch with a full cup of raspberries and blueberries. It was a very patriotic breakfast, don’t you think? Plus, I finally got to open my brand new box of Mighty Leaf tea! After trying the citrus flavor last weekend, I’ve been on a mission to find Mighty Leaf’s version of English Breakfast. I went to both of my local grocery stores, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Target – no luck. But yesterday, after I met Anne B for lunch, I made my way to Nordstrom for shopping. I just happened to pop into the cafe where, there it was – Mightly Leaf Organic Breakfast in a box!! Who would have thought I would find my treasure at Nordstrom?

So anyway, back to the tea. The tea, when brewed as directed, is a moderate to strong black tea, much like English Breakfast. I added a little milk and I was well on my way to tea bliss. What I really love about this tea, aside from the bold but not bitter taste, is the cute little sachet bag that holds the full tea leaves. Harney and Sons tea sachets are still favorite, but this new sachet is a close second.

I spent the rest of the day outside. Seriously, I was outside from about 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM. I weeded our never-ending mess of a garden (actually a combination of 5 gardens) while Scott mulched all over the place. I was not practicing the “bend at the knees” way of gardening, so I know that my back will be killing me tomorrow. But a little back pain is worth it when I know I’m going to have an awesome garden in the end! Really, just wait until you see the before and after photos!

See you all tomorrow!

Tea Forte for Breakfast

Morning everyone! I missed yoga this morning. I literally walked in the door 5 minutes before class and the guy at the front desk told me they were full – blah! Come on people, it’s a Wednesday! Oh well, I’m on vacation. Relax and breathe.

Lack of yoga allowed me to get a jump on the home cleaning I need to do today. But first…breakfast! I had an awesome almond croissant that I picked up from fresh market last night – super light and fluffy. I also tried a new bagged tea – Tea Forte’s Forte Breakfast – good but not as good as Tazo Awake – but is anything? And, just because they filled with fiber and they taste good – I had a full cup of fresh blackberries – holy 8g of fiber!

I’m off to do more cleaning then trimming the trees and bushes.

Lumberjack Jen

Got Fiber?

(Photo Courtesy of Flickr)

A few months back, I received a complimentary copy of the book, The Full Plate Diet. The main premise of the book is that by adding more fiber to your meals you will essentially lose weight (because you will feel fuller, eat fewer calories, etc.). Since I received the book, I’ve been reading it intermittently. Although I do not believe that just eating more fiber can help you lose weight – and keep it off – I think that how much fiber we eat does impact how much we eat and, therefore, how many calories we take in.

In the past few days, I have been trying to add more fiber to my daily meals. On average, I was eating about 15 g of fiber a day, which is actually below average – most Americans eat around 20 g. The authors of The Full Plate Diet stress that our bodies need 40 g of fiber each day to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Wow, that meant that I had to add 25 g of fiber to my daily meals! I was convinced that I would have to eat prunes, sticks, and rocks in order to get that much more. That is, until I read more of the book. The Full Plate Diet gave me a great overview of foods and their fiber content, which was extremely helpful. I mean – who knew that raspberries have one of the highest fiber contents of all fruits?

So, yesterday was the big day. I attempted to reach 40 g of fiber without eating tree bark and without turning into a bloated monster….let’s see how I did:

Jen’s Fiber Intake for Monday


  • 1 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal – 8g
  • 1 cup raspberries – 8 g
  • 2/3 pear – 4 g


  • 3 cups mixed spinach and romaine – 6 g
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes – 1 g
  • 1 cup strawberries – 3 g


  • 3 cups mixed spinach and romaine – 6 g
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes – 1 g


  • 1/2 cup strawberries – 1.5 g

Total – 38.5 g of fiber

Just to clarify, this was not ALL the food I ate yesterday, just the food that had a significant amount of fiber. Because I ate other things during the meal, like couscous, I’m sure I surpassed the 40 g mark. Not too bad! But, I have to admit, getting this much fiber in my diet was a real challenge. I don’t normally eat a cup of raspberries at one sitting, nor do I eat two spinach salads in one day. I really think that a good way to jump start your fiber-filled day is with your breakfast. Just by eating the high fiber cereal and the raspberries, I was able to knock of 16 g of fiber – that was more than I would normally eat in a whole day. But, if it weren’t for Kashi and the fruit, I’m fairly certain my fiber intake would have been much lower for the day.

So how did I feel? Well, not too much differently than I normally feel. Although I did feel a more full throughout the day and I felt like I had more energy. I also did not crave food at my normal “snack times”, which I’m totally happy with.

If you’re curious about how much fiber you’re eating throughout the day, go to The Full Plate Diet online. The site has a great tool where you can select the food you’ve eaten at each meal and it will calculate the fiber intake – so easy and kind of fun in a weird “I heart fiber” kind of way. And, if you need to add in more fiber to your diet – let’s face it, we all do – check out the free e-book version of The Full Plate Diet. The books gives the top fruits, veggies, grains, etc that contain the most fiber and essentially give you the most bang for your calorie/fiber buck.

So, before your next meal, ask yourself – Got Fiber?

Why Whole-Grains Are Healthier

Two seagulls are fighting for a piece of bread. The first bird overpowers the second bird, quickly snaps of up the bread, tastes it, then immediately spits it out. Looking astonished, the second bird says, “Why did you spit out that perfectly good piece of bread?” The first bird replies, “It’s not whole-grain.”

Last night, I ran out to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of whole-grain bread. Unfortunately, it was nearly 9 PM and all of the fresh whole-grain bread was gone or had been hardened from sitting out all day. Against my better judgement, I settled for two medium size loaves of French bread straight from the baker’s oven.

French bread loaves

Back in the Wonder Bread day, I would be happy as a clam to get fresh French bread. But these days, I should know better. French bread, although soft and tasty, is essentially white bread, full of “bad carbs” and not much nutrients. Besides, you’d have to be living in some remote village to not know that whole-grain bread is better for you than bread made with refined grains (white flour). On a side note, I had a sixth grade teacher who was way ahead of the times – he often told our class that eating white bread (aka Wonder Bread) was no better for us than eating paper. I think we all consumed less paper after that.

Why whole-grain is better

Whole-grain bread is made with…well, whole grains. Unlike white bread, whole-grain bread hasn’t had its germ and bran – what gives the bread its fiber – removed by milling and processing. Although, slice by slice, whole-grain bread and white bread have approximately the same number of calories, whole-grain bread has 3 times the amount of fiber and 6 times the amount of protein. And by now, most of you know that eating foods that are high in fiber can aid digestion and help us lose weight because it keeps us feeling fuller longer.

Spotting a whole-grain

If you can’t tell a whole-grain bread from a white flour processed bread, have no fear! Look for the whole truth when trying to spot a whole-grain, fiber-rich bread. A true whole-grain bread (or any whole-grain product) will list whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, or some other whole grain cereal as the first ingredient. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the  label says “made with wheat flour”, the bread or product may be an intact grain product or it may just be an advertising gimmick, since even highly processed cake flour is made with wheat flour.

Choose Wisely, Choose Whole

So if you’re looking to add more whole-grain to your diet, look for the word “whole” on packaged bread and cereal products – whole grains should be listed as one of the first ingredients. As an extra bonus – go for products that have at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.

Want to know more about whole grains and whole-grain products? Check out the Whole Grains Council.

5 Easy and Healthy Weekday Breakfasts

Hey Everyone!

In my last post about why breakfast is so important, I mentioned my Fab Five breakfast ingredients that I try to include in my breakfast each day: protein, monounsaturated fat (MUFA), fruit/veggie, dairy, and fiber. As an avid runner, mother to two young children, and a full-time communications professional, I also need breakfast to be EASY and FAST! Although there are days when I can’t seem to fill more than one of my criteria, I make the best attempt that I can. So, let’s see how I did this week:

5 Easy Weekday Breakfasts Under 300 Calories


  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats (fiber)
  • 1/8 cup skim milk (dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 chopped strawberries (fruit and fiber)


  • 5 oz. Dannon fat-free blueberry Greek yogurt (protein and dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 strawberries, chopped (fruit and fiber)


  • 1/2 cup Galaxy Granola low-fat vanilla granola (fiber)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 strawberries, chopped (fruit and fiber)


  • 5 oz Dannon fat-free strawberry yogurt (protein and dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 strawberries, chopped (fruit and fiber)


  • 2 oz sliced baguette
  • 1 1/2 tbs all-natural raspeberry preserves (fruit)
  • 2 tsp all-natural peanut butter (protein and MUFA)
  • 1 slice all-natural, nitrate free bacon (protein)
  • 3/4 orange, medium (fruit and fiber)

In addition to eating a combination of my Fab Five ingredients, I try to avoid eating the same breakfast two days in a row. This forces me to change things up a bit with my nutrition and keeps me from getting bored. I also try to keep my breakfasts under 300 calories. This is usually enough fuel to get me to lunch, with or without a 100-150 calorie snack if I need it.

And the QOTD (Question of the Day) is: what is your go-to healthy breakfast?

Why Is Breakfast So Important?

Most people have heard the saying, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a runner and personal trainer, I truly believe in this piece of wisdom and try to follow it as much as possible. Honestly, I can’t imagine running 4-6 miles in the AM and not eating breakfast before heading out to work. I think I’d pass out!

So, why is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Many of you who are reading this already eat breakfast daily, but probably out of habit more than anything. When you eat breakfast, you’re more likely to eat more vitamins and minerals, eat less fat and cholesterol, have better concentration and productivity in the morning, and control your weight. According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, breakfast helps us lose weight by doing the following three things:

Breakfast and Weight Loss

  1. Breakfast reduces hunger – Eating breakfast reduces hunger later in the day, making us less likely to overeat.
  2. Breakfast helps us make better choices – Eating breakfast gets us on the right track for making healthier choices the rest of the day. People who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier throughout the day. Breakfast skippers tend to also skip fruits and veggies the rest of the day.
  3. Breakfast gives us all-day energy – Eating gives us an energy boost all day long. When waking after 7-8 hours of sleep, our blood sugar levels are low. If we do not refuel and replenish our glycogen stores that supply blood sugar, we may feel sluggish all day and, consequently, decrease our physical activity.

Although I am not trying to lose weight, I still think breakfast is important. But I also believe that what you eat for breakfast is just as important as actually eating breakfast. Breakfasts come in all shapes and sizes. So it is unfair for me to recommend one specific breakfast over another. However, as runner, I tend to make sure my breakfast includes a combination of the following Fab Five Breakfast Ingredients:

RWC Fab Five Breakfast

  • Protein – This gives us energy in the morning and all day long. My protein usually comes in the form Greek yogurt, nuts, or peanut butter, but could also include lean ham, sausage, or bacon.
  • MUFA – Monounsaturated fats, or MUFA, are healthy fats found in nuts and oils, among other things. Research shows that eating MUFA at every meal can help us reduce fat storage in our stomachs.
  • Fruit or Veggie – With respect to my age, gender, and activity level, the Centers for Disease Control says I should be eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies per day. I find that if I can sneak in a cup or two of fruit/veggies at breakfast, I’m more likely to do the same later in the day. To find out your recommended intake for fruits and veggies, check out Fruits and Veggies Matter.
  • Dairy – I love eating dairy in the morning and late at night. A small glass of milk (or milk in my cereal) leaves me feeling refreshed and takes the edge of my hunger.
  • Fiber – This is usually in the form of whole grains, like oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, granola, etc. Fiber keeps us feeling fuller longer and helps regulate the digestive system.

And there you have it. Breakfast – the most important meal of the day. It keeps us energized, productive, and at a healthy weight. So, if you’re not eating breakfast on a regular basis, as yourself, why?

And, what did RWC personal trainer eat for breakfast this week? Stay tuned to find out!

A Gooey Breakfast Triad

Morning everyone! I was so excited when the mail arrived with my new SHAPE magazine! I am sooo looking forward to a relaxing read this weekend. We had an awesome dinner last night – mainly because I didn’t have to cook! Not to mention that I was so hungry from running around all day – busy, busy!

Scott cooked up some Italian sausage and yellow and red peppers – a true Chicago dish! He also steamed a bunch of veggies – carrots and broccoli …

Very satisfying and fairly healthy – about 300-400 calories total – not bad. Although dinner was great, we basically have no treats in the house, so it was a no dessert night for me – blah!

This morning, I got up early in order to get a jump start on the day – although I did NOT start with a run. I ran Sunday-Thursday this week so I decided to give myself a break yesterday and this morning – I did a ton of walking though! I also decided to treat myself to a decadent breakfast considering I missed out on dessert last night…

Doesn’t that look awesome! I threw together some slow-cook oats and added all-natural peanut butter and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. It was my own breakfast triad and it was a completely gooey and yummy mess! It was surprisingly healthy too, considering oatmeal, peanut butter, and dark chocolate are all good for you 🙂 I’ve had a very busy day, so now I’m off to bed.

Catch ya all later!

We Need to Eat More Beans

Tonight, Scott sent me an email that said “We need to eat more beans.” – hmm, speak for your gassy self honey. This statement was followed by a link to a Men’s Health article about the Top Weight Loss Foods for 2010. I don’t normally read Men’s Health articles, but I was intrigued to see what foods made the list. Of the nine foods listed, there were a few regulars, but also a few surprises.

Take a look at these top weight loss foods and see how you measure up…

Top Foods for Weight Loss in 2010

  1. √ Full-fat cheese – This is a great source of the muscle-building casein protein and protein helps you feel full, which will, hopefully, lead you to eat less. I’ve got this one covered – hands down!
  2. Pork Chops – Helps preserve muscle during weight loss. Sorry, not a big fan of these and never have been – not even with applesauce. 
  3. √ Iced Coffee = This cold beverage may help reduce your appetite while also increasing metabolism. I wonder if Starbucks’ mocha fraps count? Ice, coffee – it’s the same thing -it’s just blended. That’s it, I’m counting them.
  4. Grapefruit – Researchers speculate that the acidic nature of this potent fruit may help slow digestion, which keeps you feeling full longer. Again, not a fan, but I love the scent of grapefruit. Too bad the scent alone can’t help with weight loss.
  5. Apple – The forbidden fruit is loaded with fiber which keeps you feeling full. This is definitely on my list to eat more of.
  6. Eggs – Studies show that those who high protein foods, like eggs, for breakfast felt fuller longer and were less likely to overeat during the day than those who didn’t eat a high protein breakfast. I do like eggs, but I don’t eat them very often. Probably because I feel that they are more of a breakfast food, and during the work week, I don’t have time to make them in the morning.
  7. Beans – Legumes may help fight hypertension, but this fiber-rich food also keeps your belly full.  I do like beans but choose not to comment on the after effects.
  8. Salmon – Foods high in Omega-3s, like salmon, may have a satiating effect on our appetites. No deal – I don’t care how pretty it looks on a plate, I’m not eating salmon.
  9. √ Milk – We all know milk is a great source for vitamin D, but it’s also rich in protein, which keeps you feeling full. Milk is good – now, if I could just stop eating cookies with it!

See a pattern yet? Almost all of these foods are linked to keeping you full longer, which helps you eat less and lose weight. So, how many of these weight loss foods are you eating?

A Night In Holiday Velvet

Hey everyone! How has your day been? My day began with an awesome 4 1/2 mile run followed by a juicy and sweet…

12.4 Pear

PEAR! I love this photo because it almost looks like I took a picture of a picture on the wall – just wish the pear had fewer blemishes.

Early this morning, I received a package in the mail from JCrew! Woo hoo! I ordered a beautiful olive velvet blazer and a few other things. But, I realized two things: 1) the blazer was too big, even for a size 4, and 2) I just received a 25% off coupon via email from JCrew. Decisions, decisions…. So, I decided I would take my whole order back (after all, I didn’t pay for shipping) and then reorder all of my items, but try the size 4 petite. This saved me $30 – and brought the blazer down to $72 from $148. I love when I get a deal at JCrew!

Because of my meager breakfast, I had a snack attack around 10 AM so I munched on some low-cal popcorn…

12.4 Low calorie popcorn

For lunch, I grilled char-grilled an Italian sausage…

12.4 Italian sausage

I was spending a little too much time on the computer and not enough time paying attention to the grill. Oh well, it was still good, especially with dijon mustard for dipping. As you can see, I also made a little whole wheat couscous. I don’t eat a whole lot of couscous – although it’s very high in protein, it’s also high in calories. But, when I do make it, I doctor it up a bit by adding a chicken boulion cube to the water as well as a carrot sliced really thin.

12.4 Couscous with carrots

Very easy and yummy!

Later in the afternoon, I got the urge to finally make Red Velvet Cupcakes! Plus, I have been seeing them EVERYWHERE – bakeries, grocery stores, the book store, etc. I’m sure it’s just because it’s Christmas time, but I figured it was a sign that I should make them for myself. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes are my favorite kind of cupcake but I have never actually made them. For my first time, I decided to try the Dunkin Hines boxed-version. Of course, I prefer to make most things homemade, but I wanted to be sure these actually turned out good!

Dunkin Hines Red Velvet

It was pretty cool to make this mix -but also a little creepy.

Red Velvet Cake Batter

The mix looked like a big bowl of blood – icky! But, despite the bloody batter, the cupcakes turned out fantastic!

Red Velvet Cupcake 1

Talk about Red V-V-Velvet Goodness! I have to admit, I wanted to eat one of these as soon as it was frosted, but I made myself wait until after dinner, which happened to be my homemade potato and leek soup…

12.4 Potato and Leek soup

You got that right baby – it’s Friday and I DID cook tonight! This soup is so rich and creamy, but it’s actually low in calories (or relatively low – because it uses skim milk and not cream). But, what really makes this soup is the uncured maple bacon – because bacon makes everything taste better.

Of course, dinner, was followed by one of these beauties…

Red Velvet cupcake 2

Surprisingly, the batter is not as rich as I thought, but the cream cheese frosting I used (Dunkin Hines) was very sweet and “cheesy”.

Red Velvet Cupcake 4

I’m seeing a theme here – velvet blazer, velvet cupcakes…hmm, what’s next on my velvet radar 😉

Now, Scott and I are watching Elf – too funny! I love when Buddy bangs into things – it’s so slapstick but Will F. plays the part so well.

Have a great night everyone!