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The Health Benefits of Hiking

This weekend my family and I went on a day hike in Joshua Tree National Park. There’s something so serene about hiking in the outdoors and taking in the beauty of God’s natural landscape.

One of the most important recommendations I make to my clients about incorporating and maintaining exercise as a part of their lifestyle is to find an exercise they love to do. If you start going to the gym solely with the goal to lose weight but don’t enjoy your time there and have to talk yourself into going each and every time, eventually you’re going to stop going. On the flip side if you find an activity that not only brings you health and weight management benefits, but you really enjoy the activity, you’re more likely to make time for it in your day to day living.

Find an exercise or activity that you love and that feeds your soul

Whether you’ve never tried hiking before or it’s been a while since your last hike, I’d recommend to give it a try. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, hiking may be a good fit for you. A leisurely hike can burn anywhere between 300-600 calories per hour. Your total number of calories burned is affected by your weight, the terrain, the distance and speed of your hike, and the weight of any backpack you carry.

Hiking has several health benefits to offer. Engaging in regular exercise such as hiking can help lower your risk of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity can also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, reduce the pain of arthritis, facilitate a healthy weight, and can contribute to healthy bones, muscles, and joints.

To find hiking trails near you, check out The Hiking Project. If it’s your first time hiking you can also check out this helpful information with hiking for beginners. Don’t worry, regardless of your fitness level, there are suitable hiking trails for everyone.

Joshua Tree National Park

There you have it. All the information you need to give hiking a try. If you have kids you can even make a family outing out of your hiking experience and encourage your kids to be active as well. My daughter is almost two, and though she spent most of the hike on my husband’s back, she enjoyed taking in all of the beautiful scenery.

If you enjoyed this week’s blog post, comment and like below and feel free to share some of the things that you enjoy most about hiking.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Valentine’s Day Recipe Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away and is a great time to surprise the ones you love (or even just yourself) with a special treat. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative than your typical cookies, cupcakes, or candy……this week’s post has just what you’re looking for.

This tasty recipe from Skinnytaste has a few healthy components. First off, you’re actually including a veggie in your muffin, but don’t worry with these muffins it won’t even taste like you’re eating vegetables. The zucchini has a very neutral flavor and blends in very nicely with the rest of the muffin. My toddler helped me eat these zucchini chocolate chip muffins, and she couldn’t stop asking me for more bites. Needless to say these zucchini muffins are even kid friendly 😉

Another perk of this recipe is that it is partly whole grain because it uses white whole wheat flour. It is also lower in fat than your typical muffin recipe using applesauce in substitution for some of the butter. This helps cut down on fat and makes the muffins more moist. The final perk of this recipe is that is has a lot less sugar than most store bought muffins. Check out the recipe below.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 16 to 18 minutes

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1-1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini (not packed)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners and spray with oil.Muffin Liners
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Add chocolate chips and gently mix to combine.Dry Ingredients
  4. In a medium bowl, mix egg, vanilla, melted butter, apple sauce and zucchini. Wet Ingredients
  5. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.Mixed Ingredients
  6. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins about 3/4 filled.Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins Oven Ready
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool before eating.Valentine's Day - Edited

Comment and like below, and be sure to let me know how you enjoy this recipe. Skinnytaste recipes are some of my favorite because they taste great but have a healthier spin to them. Until next week.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Keto Craze: 5 Things You Should Know About The Popular Ketogenic Diet

Would you like to be able to lose weight and still be able to eat things like butter, bacon, meat, cheese, and heavy cream? It may sound crazy, but there is actually a diet out there where you can freely eat those foods and still lose weight. The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is one of the most currently talked about diets.This weeks post will give you a little insight into this diet to help you decide whether or not it is the right fit for you.  

 

1. The keto diet has been around for almost a century

Many of you have probably heard about the ketogenic diet as a popular new approach for weight loss. Even though this diet has grown in trendiness and buzz over the past few years, the ketogenic diet has actually been around for decades, initially being introduced back in 1920.

2. The keto diet is used for the management of epilepsy

One of the medical applications of the ketogenic diet is as nutrition therapy for the management of epilepsy. Seizure control has been shown to improve after 2 to 3 days of fasting and the ketogenic diet offers an approach that yields the effects of starvation in the body without causing malnutrition.

3.  On the keto diet your body burns fat for energy

Carbohydrates traditionally function as the body’s main source of energy. On the ketogenic diet however because your intake of carbohydrates is so low (typically less than 20 grams per day) your body is forced to use fat instead (in the form of ketone bodies) as its main energy source. The keto diet typically aims to provide anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of total calories from fat, 6 to 15 percent from protein, and 2 to 10 percent from carbohydrate depending on which  ketogenic diet ratio is being followed (for example, 4 grams of calories from fat to every 1 gram of calories from carbohydrate and protein combined (4:1 ratio), versus the 3:1 and 2:1 ratios).

Ketogenic Diet

Starchy vegetables and sweeter vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and carrots (to name a few), are not allowed on the diet in order to successfully keep the carbohydrate intake low enough to induce ketosis. You can also say goodbye to other tasty carbohydrate rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit, cereal, rice, ice cream, and chocolate. One of the drawbacks of restrictive diets that cut out entire food groups, is that when you cut out those specific groups of foods, you’re also losing out on the healthy nutrients they provide. Fruits and whole grains for example, which are not allowed on the keto diet, are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.

 

4. The keto diet is high in saturated fat

One of the primary concerns of dietitians, nutritionists, and other health professionals when it comes to the keto diet is whether or not the higher intake of fat will negatively affect cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. Saturated and trans fats are known to increase your bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol) which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Saturated fats are primarily found in meats and high fat animal and dairy products, which as we discussed earlier many of those foods can be eaten in large quantities on the keto diet.

After looking into some of the research on the ketogenic diet’s effect on cholesterol levels I found mixed reviews.  If you decide to give the keto diet a try, my personal recommendation would be to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels, especially if you already have a history of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Also aim to choose more heart healthy unsaturated sources of fat, such as avocados, walnuts, almonds, and olive oil.

5. The Ketogenic diet can help suppress your appetite

One of the positive side effects of the keto diet, is having a decreased appetite which can be a helpful factor in weight loss success. Lower appetite is achieved with the higher fat and moderate protein content of the keto diet which offers more satiety (fullness) with meals. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when the body was in ketosis, there was a decrease in the body’s hunger hormone ghrelin and an increase in the hormone leptin which tells our bodies when we are full. These hormonal changes can make it easier for you to avoid overeating and promote weight loss.

Is it possible to lose weight on the keto diet? Yes it is. Research shows it is possible, and I personally know people who have. I think the real question is, will the keto diet be a practical longer term solution for you? Will you be able to cut out major carbohydrate players like fruit, bread, pasta, rice, cereal, ice cream, and chocolate? If like me, your answer to this is no, then this diet is probably not a practical long term approach for you and could potentially just lead you back on the path of yo-yo dieting.

It is always important to consult your physician prior to beginning any new diet or exercise program and it’s wise to remember that we all have different medical histories to consider when determining which diet and lifestyle approach is best for you. I hope this week’s post gave you a little more understanding of the ketogenic diet. Stay tuned for next week’s post with more diet and fitness tips to help you Royally Rock Your Diet.

Royally yours, 

The Diet Duchess

Meal Prep Mastery: 5 Easy Steps to Plan Healthier Meals

Imagine, it’s the middle of the work week and you are completely spent after a long and tiring day at work. All you want to do is relax at home but you still have a laundry list of things to do including picking up your kids and figuring out what to do for dinner. You want to have something healthy, but you can’t bring yourself to cook a homemade meal after the day you’ve had. So, because of the convenience and your physical exhaustion, you decide to hit up the drive through of a fast food restaurant……..does any of this sound familiar? We’ve all been there at some point. Let’s be real, it’s hard to work a full day and then still have the energy to come home and put together a healthy dinner. So more often than not, convenience wins out.

One of the best ways to eat healthy and save money and time throughout the week is with meal prepping. Meal planning and prep involves preparing food up to 3-4 days in advance. The beauty of this strategy is that when you come home exhausted from work, you already have a healthy dinner that’s either fully or almost completely prepared. On average it is almost 5 times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home.

Another benefit of cooking at home is you can control how much salt, sugar, and fat is being added to your food, which is something we have little control over when eating out. This is especially helpful for pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  

To help get you started, here are five easy tips to help you become a master of meal prep.

1. Choose recipes or meals that you want to have throughout the week

You can further save money and stay within your budget by trying to plan meals or recipes around ingredients you already have at home. Start with simple dishes that are easy to cook to further simplify the process. For recipe ideas you can check out some of the recipes on The Diet Duchess Pinterest page.

   2. Create a grocery list

Make a list of the grocery items you need for your chosen dishes and recipes. Having focus and a grocery list can help you choose healthier options when going to the grocery store, will limit impulse buys, and can help keep you in budget financially.

3. Pick a day to prepare meals

Ideally you want to choose a day that you don’t have to work and can dedicate some time in the kitchen preparing and cooking your food for the week.

4. Multi-task with meal prep

Cooking multiple dishes at a time on your meal prep day can help reduce the overall amount of time you need to spend cooking. For example- something can be cooking in the crock pot, while another dish bakes in the oven, and you assemble and pack salads or cold lunches for the week. The more prep you accomplish on your meal prep day, the less work you will need to do throughout the week.

5. Wash, cut, and prepare fruits and vegetables

Have fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables ready to enjoy as a snack or add to one of your meals for a boost of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To save further time, you can even buy produce that is already washed, cut, and ready to cook or eat. Line containers with paper towels to absorb moisture and help prevent fresh fruits and veggies from spoiling sooner.

Another option that you have at your disposal is to use one of The Diet Duchess 7 day meal plans that are officially being launched today. They can be found in the Products section of the website. Meal plans are $29.99 and can simplify your meal prep even further by already having healthy meals and recipes selected for you. The meal plans have different calorie levels so that you can choose the calorie level best fit for you for either weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. The meal plans are also suitable for people with diabetes. 

To determine what calorie level is best for you, visit the following calorie calculator from the American Council of Exercise. It will take into account your age, gender, height, weight, and physical activity level. The calculator will estimate how many calories you need daily to maintain your weight. If your goal is to lose weight, you can either:

  • Option 1: subtract 500 calories from this daily amount (this will allow you to achieve 1 pound of weight loss per week)

or

  •  Option 2: subtract 1000 calories from this daily amount (this will allow you to achieve 2 pounds of weight loss per week)

Healthy, natural weight loss is right around 1-2 pounds a week so I would not suggest subtracting more calories than suggested above. Eating too little calories can also be an inhibitor to weight loss.

I hope you enjoy The Diet Duchess 7 day meal plans and that they get you one step closer to Royally Rocking Your Diet. If you have any questions about them or have questions about what calorie level to choose, feel free to shoot me an email in the Contact section of the website.

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Homemade Healthy Granola

It’s been a few weeks since I shared a recipe and thought it was time to give you guys a new healthy and tasty recipe to try. Granola is a great option for breakfast or a healthy snack. The only problem is most granola you buy at the grocery store has A LOT of ADDED SUGAR!! That kind of defeats the point of a healthy breakfast. So, with this homemade recipe you can cut down on the total sugar while still enjoying whole grains and healthy fats.

In this recipe you can customize your own homemade granola by picking your favorite nuts, grains, and dried fruit. The prep time should only take around 5-7 minutes, plus 30 minutes of baking, so it’s a pretty simple and easy recipe to execute.

Build Your Own Healthy Granola:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite spice
    • Ex- cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or cloves
  • 1 cup raw nuts/seeds
    • Ex-chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut or more oats, quinoa, or nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
    • Ex- cranberries, raisins, apricots, apple, or pineapple (*Dried fruit usually tends to have a lot of added sugar. To cut down on sugar look for a reduced sugar option of your dried fruit, or look for dried fruit with no added sugar.*)
  • 1 pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of oil
    • Ex-olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of honey or 100% pure maple syrup

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients
  • Spread ingredients onto a baking dish/baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown
Granola dry ingredients - Edited
Dry granola ingredients
Pan of granola - Edited
Granola ready for the oven
Granola up close
Finished granola

If you have diabetes, you can always use less honey or dried fruit for better blood sugar control and be sure to include some protein with your breakfast (for example eggs, peanut butter, or cottage cheese). Also, keep in mind that with granola you don’t need as large of a portion as your typical cereal. A single serving of granola is only ¼ Cup. This serving should be appropriate for a snack. For breakfast, ½ Cup, should be reasonable for most people, but this of course will depend on your individual daily calorie needs.

If you would like to recreate the granola I made that’s pictured in the post, you can find my chosen ingredients below (the combination came out delicious):

  • 4 C old fashioned oats
  • 1 Tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 C raw chopped almonds
  • ½ C quinoa + ½ C unsweetened coconut flakes ( I added the coconut halfway through the baking process so that it wouldn’t brown too much)
  • ½ C reduced sugar dried cranberries and dried apricots with no added sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ C of canola oil
  • 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • ¼ C honey

You can try enjoying your granola solo, with milk, over plain unsweetened yogurt, or cottage cheese. I hope you find this week’s recipe as tasty as I did. Be sure to store your granola in an air tight container (I like to use a Mason jar) and it should last 1-2 weeks.

Like and comment below, letting me know how your granola came out. Also be sure to stay tuned for next week’s post that will feature the official launch of The Diet Duchess 7 day meal plans that will be available for sale in the Products section of the website.

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Weight Worry: Who’s Really Benefiting from Regular Weigh-ins?

Let’s face it, one of the most notoriously dreaded parts of tracking weight loss progress for many people is stepping onto the scale. It’s a truth tell all moment where you get to see if all your hard work to lose weight is starting to pay off. I’ve had so many clients report in my office that they’re weighing themselves daily or even multiple times a day in the hope that they will see their weight moving in the downward progression. The real question though is, how often should we be weighing ourselves?

Don’t panic if you step on the scale twice in one day and notice the numbers don’t match

The first most important truth to realize is that our weight changes throughout the day. We do not weigh the same in the morning as we do later on in the day. There are many things that affect the number on the scale as the day progresses such as the foods we eat and our hydration status (for example, how much water or fluids we are drinking and whether or not we have recently gone to the bathroom or lost fluids through sweat). So don’t panic if you step on the scale twice in one day and notice the numbers don’t match.

Not all scales are created

Another important truth to realize is that not all scales are created equal. You can weigh something completely different at the doctor’s office than you do at home. Your best bet is to track your progress on the same scale for better accuracy. Additionally you want to avoid weighing yourself on carpet because it can give you an incorrect reading. Always make sure your scale is on a flat hard surface and that your weight is evenly distributed.  My general rule of thumb and recommendation is to check your weight once a week. Aim to check your weight the same day of the week, at the same time (in the morning when you first wake up after using the bathroom is best), and try to wear the same clothing (if any at all). Following these guidelines can help give  you a more accurate picture of what your weight is and which way it is trending.

Now you may be thinking, let’s just avoid the scale completely. I never want to weigh myself again! Before you make that decision, it’s important to know what some of the research says. A study done by the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2012 found that people who lost weight were more likely to keep it off if they weighed themselves regularly. In addition the National Weight Loss Registry found that 75 percent of people who lost weight and successfully kept it off were weighing themselves at least once a week. Using the scale as a tool for weight loss and weight management therefore has the ability to help keep you on track.

Say goodbye to scale anxiety

There may be a group of us though that have had some negative experiences with stepping on the scale and may actually have serious anxiety at the thought of even doing it. If you fall into this category, and the number on the scale has the ability to drastically change your mood or the way you feel about yourself, then consistent weigh-ins may not be your friend and can potentially cause more harm than good. I myself fell into this category and gave up routine weight checks years ago. Instead I keep my focus on staying active, eating right, and the way I feel. It’s important to remember that the number on the scale is just that, a number. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t define who you are.

Alternatives to stepping on the scale

If you decide that routine trips to the scale aren’t for you but you want other methods to track your progress, I have a couple of suggestions for you:

  1. Measure your weight loss in inches
    1. Use a measuring tape to track the inches you lose (for example measure your waistline, chest, hips, thighs, and arms and re-measure every three to four weeks to track your progress )
  2. Track your body fat percentage
    1. Use a handheld body fat analyzer to observe the trend of your weight loss and fitness level through your body fat percentage. Many body fat analyzers can be bought online for under forty dollars.
  3. Monitor your weight loss by clothing size
    1. Size unfortunately is not standardized, so I would recommend picking one brand of clothing that you already wear and celebrate when you achieve the victory of making it down to a smaller size.

I hope this week’s post answered some of your questions on weigh ins and weight loss, and how often (if at all for some of us) we should be stepping up onto that scale.  I encourage you to consider yourself and whether or not a weekly weigh-in or one of the alternatives I suggested will be the most productive tool for you in your weight loss and weight management journey. Make the decision and start implementing whatever is going to work best for you.

Until next week,

The Diet Duchess

Workout wisdom: A dietitian’s guide to healthy eating after workouts

Have you ever wondered what the best thing to eat or drink after a workout is? Have you ever thought ok, now that I’ve spent time at the gym I can go eat some junk food? Maybe you want to choose the right foods for yourself after your workout but just aren’t sure what to eat. Well, today I am going to give you the inside scoop on the three most important things your body needs after a workout.

The foods we eat and drink play an important role in giving our body the energy we need before a workout as well as the nutrition needed for recovery afterwards. Whether you train rigorously as an athlete, or do the occasional workout, this article will give you some helpful tips on what to choose for your post workout nutrition.

The first thing you want to make sure you do is replace fluids lost during exercise…..in other words hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is always a great option for staying hydrated and replacing the fluids you lose during a workout through sweat.

IMG_7240

Replace Fluids Lost

When you are doing a light or moderate exercise session, water alone can meet you re-hydration needs. The average person does not need more than this. Sports drinks such as Gatorade that have carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are only indicated  for athletes doing vigorous and sustained physical activities lasting 90 minutes or more.

If you are exercising for general health and/or to lose weight or you are exercising for an hour or less sports drinks are not an appropriate option for you. In addition they are not a good choice as a day to day beverage because they provide an unneeded amount of sugar and sodium.

Consume Carbohydrates and Quality Protein

Glycogen is the energy stored in your muscles to help fuel your workouts. When you exercise, these stores are used and eventually depleted. Carbohydrates are therefore needed after a workout to help replenish the glycogen that was used. Some examples of carbohydrates include fruit, grains such as bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and milk.  

In addition to carbohydrates, you also want to consume a quality protein source to help repair and build muscle tissue after your workouts. Examples of a quality protein include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and soy. For adults, 10 to 35% of your daily calories should be made up of protein. After a workout, protein needs can be met by using the equation of 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight = your post workout protein needs

*Athletes and people at extreme ends of the weight spectrum may not fit this equation*

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert it into kilograms (150 lbs divided by 2.2 = 68.2 kilograms). Then multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.3 grams of protein to get the total grams of protein you need for your post workout recovery meal (68.2 kg x 0.3 grams of protein = 20 grams of protein).

Most people are able to get their protein needs from diet alone, but protein powders can be a good alternative when you aren’t able to prepare a balanced meal or snack after your workout.

IMG_7217

To help get you started, here are some ideas on what to eat after a workout.

Post workout nutrition examples:

  • Plain yogurt or low fat cottage cheese with berries
  • 1 cup of chocolate milk
  • A turkey or tuna sandwich wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla, cucumber, spinach, and tomato
  • A smoothie recovery shake made with low fat milk and frozen berries
  • Black bean, tofu, and vegetable chili with a slice of cornbread
  • Stir fry chicken with mixed vegetables and brown rice
Workout Recovery
Chocolate Milk

 

 

Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread
Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread

Timing Is Key

Try to get your post recovery nutrition, whether it is a meal or snack within 2 hours of your workout. If your goal is to build muscle and increase lean muscle mass, aim to have your post workout meal as soon as possible due to current studies suggesting protein consumption for the purpose of increasing muscle mass is greatest immediately after your workout. Keep in mind that higher intake of protein after workouts, for example, greater than 40 grams of dietary protein have not yet been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.

The next time you workout, remember the three most important things you need afterwards: fluids (water), carbohydrates, and protein. Over the next week, I challenge you to try at least one of my post workout nutrition meals or snacks. Comment below and let me know which ones work best for you.

Until next week.

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Weight Loss in 2019…..Resolutions for the New Year

The year is coming to a close, and 2019 is just around the corner…..which means New Year’s resolutions aren’t far off. You may have already thought of the list of things that you want to work on in the new year, or maybe you haven’t given it any thought yet.

What I like about creating resolutions is the fact that you are working to better yourself, whether it’s with healthier eating, time management, traveling, weight loss, or anything else in between. Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more. If you have one of these goals for the new year, one of the best ways to be successful with them is to make sure you’re making SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, your SMART goal for the new year could be:

Within six months I will be consistently exercising at least three times a week for 30-45 minutes.

This goal meets all five criterion and is a lot more specific than if you just said your goal in the new year was to exercise more. Being SMART with your goals will help you to be more successful at reaching them. Below I’ve shared with you some dietitian approved tips to be successful with your exercise and weight loss goals in the new year.

Ways to be successful with exercise:

  1. Start small and gradually increase your workout routine. Even 10-15 minute increments of exercise add up and make a difference.
  2. Find something that you love to do. It can be kickboxing, swimming, Zumba, yoga or anything really……. the key is finding something you enjoy. Try a new class or activity if you don’t know what you like. The fact is, if you like your workouts you are more likely to stick with them long-term.
  3. Use the buddy system. Whether you have plans to meet up with a friend to work out, or incorporate physical activity as a part of your family’s lifestyle, there is strength in numbers and accountability in working out with others.
  4. Include both cardio and weight training (for example weight lifting or exercises that use your body weight such as push ups, lunges, and squats) in your workout routine. Both types of exercise are important and offer your body different benefits.

Ways to be successful with weight loss:

  1. Focus on building a healthier lifestyle instead of trying to follow a temporary fad diet. These diets are often very restrictive and practically impossible to maintain long-term. Aim to have your weight loss be healthy and natural.
  2. Try to include veggies and a lean protein such as eggs, tofu, chicken, fish, or turkey with most meals.
  3. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day and can be counterproductive to weight loss.
  4. Limit your intake of sugary drinks such as soda, juice, Gatorade, vitamin water, sweetened iced teas, etc. They are limited in nutrients and high in sugar and excess calories and can easily contribute to extra weight gain.
  5. Allow yourself to have a treat every once in a while. It will satisfy your craving and help you keep on track with your healthy eating by not depriving you. Telling yourself you can never eat your favorite food (for example- ice cream, french fries, or pasta) anymore can be a way to set yourself up for failure.  

There you have it. I hope you found my tips to get you started with your goals in the new year helpful. Like and comment below…..and if you’re feeling really bold, share what some of your resolutions for 2019 are. 

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Homemade hot cocoa for Christmas

One of my favorite treats around this time of year is a warm cup of hot cocoa. With Christmas just one day away, I thought I would share this tasty homemade hot cocoa recipe with you so you can enjoy it just in time for the holidays. Whether you live somewhere cold, or are somewhere warm like sunny Southern California, this is a tasty and festive treat for all.

Now let me disclose that this homemade hot cocoa recipe is not healthy or modified in any way to be healthier. Following a healthy balanced diet means sometimes enjoying a treat every once in a while, whether that’s french fries, ice cream, or even hot chocolate. The key is eating these less healthy foods that are higher in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium less often and making sure that when you do have them, you keep your portions in check 😉

This was actually my first time making homemade hot cocoa, as I grew up on the instant packets, but like most foods and beverages, I can attest that homemade is definitely better. The recipe is super simple and only took a few minutes to make.

Creamy Hot Cocoa

Christmas cocoa - Edited

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half and half cream

Directions:

  1.  Add the cocoa, sugar, and pinch of salt to a saucepan.
  2. Blend in the boiling water and bring the mixture to a boil while you stir (watch to make sure it doesn’t scorch).
  3.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring.
  4. Add in the milk and heat until very hot but not boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  6. Divide the cocoa between 4 mugs and add the cream equally between them.
  7. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles as desired and enjoy.
Plain hot cocoa close up - Edited
Plain Hot Cocoa
Marshmallow hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
Whipped cream hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream

 

Hot cocoa aerial view - Edited
Hot Cocoa with All the Fixings

I hope you enjoy this homemade hot cocoa with your loved ones, and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

A Healthy Spin on the Infamous Egg McMuffin

Have you ever felt guilty after leaving the Mc Donald’s drive through? If so, then you’re not alone. We all have probably been there at some point. Mc Donald’s is quick, convenient, and practically everywhere.

A familiar quick and ready to grab breakfast choice for many Americans is the ever popular Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s. A warm toasted English muffin with a fresh egg, lean Canadian bacon, American cheese, and melted butter…….do I have your mouth watering yet? This classic and tasty breakfast option is simple to make and easy to enjoy.

McDonald’s has a reputation of being notoriously unhealthy, so this week, I’d like to give you some ideas for a healthier spin on the classic Egg McMuffin and how you can make this refreshing breakfast sandwich from home…and best of all, guilt free.

Tip #1 Switch to whole grain

A simple and easy modification that you can make is switching out the white English muffin to a whole wheat one. The whole grain version will offer you more fiber and can help you to stay full longer in between meals. The USDA My Plate model recommends that we make half of our grains whole grains as a part of a healthy diet and to help lower the risk of chronic disease.

Egg Mc Muffin close up - Edited

Tip #2 Add in your favorite veggies

Veggies are an important part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Adding a serving of veggies to most of your meals is a good way to boost your intake of vitamins and minerals, and keep your calories low. You can simply add spinach to your breakfast sandwich or sauté some of your favorite vegetables. I chose to saute mushrooms and bell peppers, but the sky’s the limit.

Open faced Egg Mc Muffin - Edited (1)

Tip #3 Switch out the American cheese

Processed cheese such as American cheese has twice the amount of sodium as natural cheese, and generally contains additional additives and preservatives. Processed cheese also is usually only made up of around 50 percent real cheese. For a healthier choice than American singles, go with a regular cheese (for example regular low fat cheddar) for a more natural option.

Ok, it’s official, now that you have my 3 tips to making a healthier egg McMuffin, you are ready to start enjoying “Mc Donald’s” right from your house. Give it a try and let me know how it goes by commenting on the post below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess