Skip the Sugar Free Challenge - 7 Tips to Reduce Sugar Intake

I confess, I’m a sugar lover.

I’ve even written a whole post about being a sugar free failure.

And you know what, I finally realized that I’m just fine being not sugar free! Athletes inherently burn a little more sugar and I do think endurance running gives me a little more carb cravings.

But that doesn’t mean, I can’t always be a little more aware of ways to keep myself from getting in to a cycle where I’m eating too much sugar.

Which lead me to ask my good friend Lindsay, a Registered Dietitian {what does that mean?} from The Lean Green Bean, “How does one get off the sugar cravings without doing some crazy sugar free challenge, which seems to make us want more?  

Take it away Lindsay….
7 RD Approved ways to reduce your sugar without feeling deprived7 TIPS TO REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE
When people ask me how to improve their diet, reducing their sugar intake is almost always at the top of my list. When Amanda reached out to see if I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for reducing you sugar intake, I jumped at the chance!

1) Start by cutting back. I know there are a lot of people out there who believe in quitting cold turkey with a detox, Whole 30, etc. If that works for you, great...but in my experience that often makes people crave sugar even more.

When I started really watching my sugar intake after I graduated from college, I did it in small steps.

So what does that mean?
If you're eating two sugary snacks a day, cut back to one.
If you put three packets of sugar in your coffee each morning, cut back to two, then one.
If you like juice, start mixing in sparkling water and reducing the amount of juice.

As your taste buds adjust to lower amounts of sugar, you'll probably find that if you return to your original eating habits, things will taste overly sweet!

2) Find the hidden culprits. Sugar is hidden in so many foods. It often replaces fat in low-fat/fat-free foods and you'll find it in things that can really be made from just a few ingredients like nut butters, breads and salad dressings.

For example, there are many brands of peanut butter that are made with added sugar, when in reality all you really need to make peanut butter is one ingredient- peanuts. Fruit pizza with oatmeal flax crust by Lean Green Bean {Fruit Pizza w/ Oatmeal Flax Crust}

3) Eat real, whole foods. If you have a sweet tooth, try satisfying your cravings with sweet foods like fruit. When you do eat packaged foods, check the ingredient list and know the various names for sugar so you can spot it in packaged foods. Remember that low fat/fat-free often means high sugar.

4) Savor and enjoy! There's nothing wrong with enjoying dessert occasionally...but perhaps you could eat it more frequently if you learned to be satisfied with a smaller amount.

Do you really need that gigantic piece of carrot cake all in one sitting? Probably not. Split it into smaller pieces and enjoy a few bites each night of the week.

Eat it slowly and really enjoy it. Clean Eating Blueberry Muffins by Lean Green Bean {Blueberry Muffins}

5) Cut back when baking. A lot of baked goods are made with large amounts of added sugar.

Try cutting back the sugar in your favorite cookies, muffins, etc by 1/4, then by 1/2 the original amount. You probably won't even notice the difference in a lot of cases.

You can also try sweetening baked goods with fruits like bananas, date or applesauce. Just keep in mind that even though these are natural sources of sugar, they're still sugar.   Ginger Citrus Avocado Dressing by Lean Green Bean{Ginger Citrus Avocado Dressing}

6) Make your own. Sauces, dressing and condiments are all notoriously high in sugar and sodium. Making them yourself means you can control how much goes in! Try skipping the sugar all together or adding smaller amounts.

7) Read the label and know what it means. How much sugar are you really eating when the label says a serving contains 6 grams? To give you a visual, 4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar. So if your muffin has 6g of sugar, visualize the 1.5 teaspoons of sugar that's inside it. It may make you rethink your choices.

Also, read this post: Don't Be Fooled By The Sugar-Free Label. People often misuse the term sugar-free and it drives me crazy!

Thanks to Lindsay for sharing her great tips with us!! You must find more of her great tips, including a weekly meal planning series on her blog and say hi on social media:
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest!

Sugar Detox Series: Why, how, obstacles, cravings and more
Join the Clean and Lean project for ongoing support
How to fuel your runs with whole foods (nix the gels)

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Setting Daily Intentions + Dynamic Ab Workout

Have you not quite gotten back on track since the holiday madness?

After a few weeks of less than clean eating and half bummed workouts, I'm being told motivation is hiding out like cat on the fourth of July. {Just ours?}

Admittedly it’s one of the reasons, I hate taking an entire week off training. A thing in motion is hard to stop, but well you know, a person on the couch is hard to move.

Which is why the timing couldn’t have been any better for Lorna Jane to send me their 2015 Journal, which is all about...you guessed it motivation.

At first glance you might think it’s just a planner, but a deeper look and a few choices make it clear that this is so much more! In fact, I want to share with you exactly how I will be using mine and nope it’s not as a place to put my to do lists!How to set daily intentions - Move Nourish BelieveI keep using the word "intention" so what do I really mean by that?

An intention is not just a goal for the day, but a way of living: "determination to act in a certain way". This for me has been far more powerful in creating a mental shift than another to do list.

How a daily planner could help you set intentions to achieve goals faster (and happier) via @runtothefinish

Now I’ve told you how I plan to use the journal, so let’s see why I think this approach works so well?

Daily - It’s a daily touch point to remind myself of what I want to achieve.
Written - There is something concrete about writing down a goal or intention
Guidance - It’s a way to guide daily choices
Progress - It’s a consistent place to see progress
Positive - I’m not focusing on flaws or mistakes, just what I want and what went wellLornaJaneJournalI’ve heard so many of you talk about Lorna Jane, but not having a store nearby hadn’t really paid much attention {though it sounds like they are coming East!!}. Well now I get it!

The clothes are stylish enough to wear to run errands, comfy enough for yoga and functional enough for a hard core run…but really it’s about what the brand promotes. Everything I’ve seen from them is so positive and uplifting, including their entire site dedicated to inspiring: MoveNourishBelieve.com.DSC06678 Even in their clothing, I found a hidden little heart and of course since my word of the year is “love” it made me realize once again that everything happens in the right time.

I was inspired by these cute outfits to switch up my normal ab workout! Over the last year I’ve really come to love working my core in different ways, as I know how it’s benefiting everything I do.

I also tell people constantly that holding a plank for hours isn’t enough! We need to get dynamic to get the benefits in sport and life!
Plank it out Ab Workout - using dynamic moves to shape core

Plank Twist Kick: From plank position, kick left leg under your body to right side. Drop the foot and drop hip down, then raise back up and return to plank. Repeat on opposite side.
Downward Dog to Reverse: From downward dog roll forward in to a plank, put weight on left hand and move right leg to the left, flipping your body over and stretching out. Return to plank, then downdog.
Single Arm Plank: From a straight arm plank, pick up right arm and hold for 2 seconds, lower, then pick up left arm. Excellent if you have a friend to high five across from you!
Side plank crunch: From side plank position, put hand behind head and twist to the side. You should feel your hips pull up as you really engage the obliques.
See Saw: From a kneeling position slightly lean back until you feel quads and core engage, then push hips forward to pull back up using core and not legs.

Breaking out of my planking rut with this @runtothefinish ab workout #liveactive2015

Lorna Jane is giving one RTTF reader their own journal, just answer below how are you staying inspired to live active in 2015?

Connect with Lorna Jane for ongoing motivation
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lornajane.active
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LornaJaneActive
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lornajaneactive

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Lorna Jane.

18 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My First Half Marathon

Sometimes I’m glad I don’t know what I’m getting in to when it comes to running…

For example if you’d told me in 2002 when I crossed the finish line of my first race ever, the Rock N Roll Nashville half marathon, that I would then begin running 1600 miles a year I would have flipped my lid and shut down the whole running ball game.

On the other hand, over the years I’ve learned a few things that would have saved me a lot of angst, injuries and time. Since many of you have been sending in questions about how to have your best race, I thought they might be helpful!

18 Things I Wish I'd known Before My First Half Marathon - tip to help you have a great raceSlow Down
Push yourself, it’s race day after all, but when you find yourself hitting paces you never saw in training take a breath and reel it back in. It’s easy for even experienced runners to get swept up in the excitement of the thousands of runners around you. You have no idea what their training looked like, so you don’t have to keep up.

It’s way more fun to be passing people at the end, than praying it was over.
Read more on learning to pace yourself >>

It’s Supposed to be Fun
Remember that you signed up for this whole crazy thing to have a fun goal that would keep you motivated. While you are going to push yourself just a tad harder on race day, it’s not supposed to be miserable and in fact you might find you actually love it.

Everyone talks so much about what hurts or what didn’t go well, that I think we forge this whole thing can be a whole lot of fun!
Read more on managing race day nerves >>

Race Nutrition
Realize that good nutrition planning is not just for the elites and you can’t wing it on race day. It’s about being well hydrated in the days leading up to the race, getting your electrolytes balanced and learning what fuel works for you during the run.
Read the myths of carbo-loading>>
Race day is supposed to be fun and other lessons I wish I'd knownPacking Checklist
Get totally anal retentive about planning what you are brining to the race. You can certainly buy things last minute at the expo, but save yourself the anxiety by having your perfect gel, socks and any potential variation of weather outfit available. Folks who have done the Disney World Marathon will tell you they always pack thinking it’s a Florida race and have been surprised at the start more than once with a 30 degree day…no fun without any warmer clothes.
Print out this great half marathon packing check list >>

Throw-away Clothes
Swing by Salvation Army the week of the race. The idea of throw-away clothes sounded preposterous to me, but this makes the start line experience far more enjoyable. You may be outside in cool or wet temperatures for hours before the race begins, keeping your body warm preserves much needed energy.

If it’s not a cold race, you might only need some gloves that you can toss and trust me they are worth the $1 to buy! Tuck them in your shorts if you warm up, just in case you turn back in to the wind.
Even the elites keep their gloves on cold days - more tips for a good race dayBanned Music
A lot of the courses say no music, so like a rule following girl I would show up to find tons of people with headphones. Realize that they have it for a good reason, but if it’s not a trail race and you can run with 1 ear bud and really need music they likely won’t say anything.

How to drink on the run
First, remember you don’t have to drink at every stop or drink the entire cup. Dump some out if it seems too full then pinch the cup, so the side creates a point and sip. Guzzling rarely leads to a happy stomach.

Running Shoes

Get fitted for good running shoes. The one’s you bought from the department store may have worked fine in the past, but they aren’t suited for the increased mileage you’ll be covering. Don’t: Let the shoe store talk you in to a shoe that isn’t comfortable just because of a 30 second treadmill analysis of your gait.
Learn how to find the right running shoe>>

Ego Check
Check it at the door because you’ll find yourself getting passed by people older, fitter, taller, shorter, thinner, heavier, with strollers and none of it matters.

Get real about the fact that during training and the race you will feel like quitting. While you should be fired up for your first half marathon, a bit of realism (not fear) makes this moment something you can move through.

Give yourself a reason to quit (like not putting in the proper amount of training). Get focused on all of the reasons why you want to cross that finish line and how it will feel to say “I am a marathon finisher”.   You will get passed by people of all ages, shapes and sizes, it's ok and other race day lessonsSpectator Plan
Plan ahead to know what your fans will be wearing and where they hope to be. It’s often easier for you to spot them than the other way around. I definitely missed friends at those first races because I thought they would certainly see ME.

Weight Gain
Recognize that distance training requires appropriate fueling. Like many runners, I started running to lose weight. I assumed that marathon training would be a great way to speed up the process. It isn’t; marathon training leads to increased hunger and feelings of food entitlement.

Running 16 miles is pretty amazing, but it doesn’t mean you can overeat on pizza, cookies, bagels and other high carb foods every day of the week.  High quality food keeps training hunger in check and provides energy for your runs.
Read more on running and weight loss >>

Chaffing and Blisters Are Avoidable
On race day you may suddenly find yourself chaffing in places you didn’t even know existed. Put Body Glide on every conceivable inch of the body, not just select spots like your thighs, but on race day get in between every toe, under every arm, and even around your waistband. It’s worth it.

Rain Isn’t So Bad
Watch the weather so you can plan your race day outfit and throw-away gear, but after that stop worrying about it. My first race was in the rain as have been many that followed and once you start running the rain can actually be a great way to keep from getting too warm…on a cold day it’s just another part of the race.

Plus once you cross that finish line, you feel just a little more bad ass and hey, that’s half the fun too.

A rainy race day isn’t so bad and 17 other things I wish I’d know before my first race via @runtothefinish

Run Solo
Practice running solo at least once a week during training. If you always run with someone and find yourself solo on race day it can immediately throw off your entire day. Know you can rely on yourself.
Read more on why you should run solo >>

Never will I Ever
Realize you’ll likely find yourself swearing off a certain race or distance in the later part of the race and possibly even after the finish line. After the moment wears off you’ll find either a sincere joy at the results of months of hard work or a desire to redeem yourself for having not learned some of the lessons listed above!
Spend time learning about recovery. Compression pants, ice baths, sports nutrition, all of these things ensure that during training you can continue putting in the miles and after the race you can resume training without too many days of walking down stairs sideways.

Whether it was the best or worst experience of your life there is often a desire to get right back to training, but your body won’t be ready right away. Those who do jump back in often find themselves injured within a few months. A few extra easy weeks are worth avoiding months of frustration.
Read the complete post race recovery guide >>

Everyone is a coach
Finally, it’s important to know that every runner you meet will have an opinion about how you should train, what to wear, what to think; it’s great to listen to all of the advice, but after that you need to decide what fits your personality and then stick to a plan.

Other training tips series: How to think like an elite runner, 27 tips to get a great race day photo and race day etiquette

Anything you wish you’d known before your first race?

Any questions you still have about race day?

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Photos: Most photos from taconicrr Flickr.

7 Habits of Highly Fit People

Creating healthy habits -- SNORE.

It just sounds so BORING, nothing like the sparkle and pizazz of “10 minute abs” or “lose 5lbs overnight”, so our eyes glaze over just waiting for all kinds of hard things we need to do to find this magical land of healthy habits.

I say hogwash and that’s why we’re going back to basics in my seven part series with Kohl’s to help you #MakeYourMove into a healthy, happy, hip, hop, happening 2015.

7 habits of highly fit people -easier to implement than you thinkI wanted to know what some of my long time fit friends do to stay on track year round and couldn’t agree more with the themes that I saw rise to the top.

Let’s see how little things can add up for big changes {minus all the stress!}

My healthy living starts with my mental health. I take care of myself by trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night. When I'm well-rested, my mind is more clear, my outlook is more positive, and I feel more capable of facing life's challenges.”  - Sharon 

Personally, I LOVE to sleep. One area I never skimp on is what helps me to sleep which is a great pillow and a comfy mattress topper. When you think about how much sleep is going to improve your entire life it’s totally worth spending a little more for quality. 

I’m all about the contoured pillows which I believe help keep me from getting in weird positions that tweak my back or my neck. 
contouredpillowRead more about the importance of a good pillow>>


I make sure I have enough healthy snacks for work, so I'm not tempted by the donuts, etc. that always seem to find their way into the office!” Mo Faller

Since this was one of the biggest areas people told me they struggle with I think a full planning post is needed, but a few of my favorite tips!

  • Determine how many meals you actually need (are you going out with friends, have work lunches, other events that mean you are away from home)
  • Cook in bulk so you have leftovers and can freeze some for those rush nights later
  • Keep it simple - not every recipe needs to be a masterpiece

Read more on weekend food prep>>
Get over 100 healthy crockpot meal ideas>>

For me it's important to have a set schedule each week of days I run and strength train. When fitness becomes part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth, it's a lot easier to stay on track.” - Deborah

Get a fun journal or a calendar to keep track. There is something insanely satisfying about putting a giant X on a day where you’ve completed a workout. In fact, the very successful Jerry Seinfeld calls this process “don’t break the chain”.

Seinfeld hangs a large wall calendar and gets to put a big red X through every day where he writes new content, which became very rewarding to see that string grow..
then the goal is not to break it!
Imagine doing this for clean eating or working out!

Taking the dog for a walk every day means I’m moving without even thinking about the dreaded ‘exercise’ word.” - Anna
dogPersonally, I decided every day when getting the mail I would walk down the seven flights of stairs and back up the seven flights of stairs it's not really anything all that major all that crazy but it's seven flights of stairs every single day for an entire year that I wasn't getting before.

The goal is simply find little things you do and make them just a little bit bigger. A few more minutes with the pup or o start standing up throughout the day! I love how the standing desk adds just a bit more movement to my day and of course ups the calorie burn.

Read more on using a standing desk >>

Historically I'd say that cross training is important but rarely prioritized it. This time around I have done at least an hour of yoga each week and at least two cross training workouts which have included swimming, cycling or weights. The key has been finding a few workouts that are simple to follow yet effective. My two favorite weight workouts are my 5 minute full body workout, which I squeeze in 3-4 times per week and my 30 minute arms & abs workout.” - Ashley

She couldn’t be more right! While I have gone through phases of being better and worse about this over the last 12 years, recently it’s been a consistent focus and I can’t wait to see it pay off in faster times and no more injuries!!
Decline_PushUpIdeas for cross training >>  

Right in line with life movements is embracing the new trend of fitness trackers! Just a few weeks ago I shared how putting on the FitBit Charge got my husband to begin taking more notice of his daily movement around the office and also focusing on quality sleep. My MIL is also wearing the Garmin VivoFit to track her steps, though she is a busy nurse so I’m betting she’s hitting those steps without fail! Garmin_VivoFitRead more on fitness trackers >>

When I’m feeling snacky, I pull out my mug and some green tea.” - Laura

That’s right EATING is part of the easy healthy things that fit people do! Studies have shown that holding something warm makes us feel calmer and a drink like hot tea can’t be guzzled so we have to slow down, which can have a calming effect!

Of course there are a ton of health benefits to enjoying green tea or a daily cup of joe, but this is more about a happy spirit, which let’s be honest leads to less hands in the cookie jar. So wrap em around a mug for an instant mood booster.

Checkout how hot tea can help with weight loss>>

Do you practice the 7 habits of highly fit people?! via @runtothefinish #makeyourmove

Now I want to hear from you, what's missing and:
How many of these healthy habits do you practice? 

Other ways to connect with Kohl’s #MakeYourMove
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kohls
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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl's.

How I avoided the flu - no shot or drugs

It’s common knowledge that post marathon many runners get sick.

Immune systems are down and we’re often spending hours in the air traveling.

But this time around it was my husband who came down with a violent case of the flu. He woke up the after we arrived home from the Honolulu marathon asking “what time does urgent care open?’'

Since he’s never asked this when not bleeding, I knew we had a problem and I was on a mission to preserve my own health…because if he felt that bad, I’d be knocked out.

Since many folks expressed their complete disbelief that we travelled together, spent days together in our little apartment and continued to share the same bed, I’ve never had a flu shot without and have managed to stay health, I thought I’d share all the little things I learned and implemented!
Naturally Avoid The Flu with these great tipsFirst I should point out that post marathon, I mostly went straight to my whole foods diet and I even found organic local green juice. This gave my immune system an immediate boost, which I continued with good nutrition when returning home.

Next up, I did some digging for ideas, pinged all of my smarter friends and took action on all of it!

Oregano Oil Capsules
Luckily I already had these on hand as they are good for the immune system, anti-bacterial and helpful for resolving upper respiratory issues. I was using to heal my digestion.

Quality is super important here! If it’s low grade, you aren’t going to get the benefits, here is one I used as it was recommended by a doctor.
- 1 daily with breakfast

Green Juice
As noted above I had some right after the marathon, but then also made a green smoothie every day for breakfast. This is just an easy way to get in a ton of whole food nutrition that the body can quickly absorb.

I also snapped up a “shot” at the farmer’s market of tumeric, wheat grass and ginger. Spicy.
- at least 1 daily

Vega Chlorella Tablets
A super packed source of chlorophyll which is a superfood due to its high protein content and nutrition. Chlorophyll is known to help promote healing, cleansing, and potentially even protect your body from some of the damage caused by eating unhealthy foods!

It also promotes healthy iron levels, which was a bonus for me as I have gone back to eating a more vegetarian diet, so this kept my energy up!
- up to 5 tablets spread throughout day of Vega

Not only was I on a cycle of wash hands, repeat, repeat…repeat, but I followed David around with Lysol wipes and ensured everything he touched was immediately disinfected.
- constantly

Drink Up
Beyond staying well hydrated, I also drank more of my Vega Electrolytes to ensure I was staying completely mineral balanced since I was back to training thinking that I would be doing an ultra soon.

Additionally, I’m a big fan of nightly tea so I switched over to Yogi Echinacea Immune Support Tea. This was something I had used in the past when I got a little stuffy or runny nose and the combo of herbs seems to work well…plus I just think there is something super soothing about slowing down and holding a mug of tea.
- at least 64 oz

Yes you need it when you are sick, but you need LOTS when you are trying to keep your immune system strong to prevent getting sick. If you think you don’t have time for a full night of sleep, wait until you have to take 5-7 days off your entire life because you are so ill you can’t move.

I picked up some great essential oil from my friend Samara called calm and ease, which is supposed to promote great sleep and I think it worked as I didn’t even notice D’s coughing or tossing and turning.
- minimum 6 hours

I am healthy
I love the idea that we should not fight against things, but act on what we want…in other words where attention goes energy flows. So I didn’t say I was fighting off the flu, I just said I was optimizing my health.

You can’t make me believe that our mental state doesn’t have something to do with getting sick. After just sitting with D for a few hours I would start to think maybe I was sick, at which point I’d head outside for some fresh air and immediately feel better.

Vitamin D and C
I know a lot of people swear by supplementing with these two. I did not add them in beyond using oranges in my smoothie and making sure I got outside to get a little sun each day.  I have never found Emergen C to taste good, but again a lot of people swear it works wonders.


Detox Bath
Possibly my favorite of the ideas though was the one that involved my sitting in a big hot bath…because even if this doesn’t work, it’s entirely relaxing and I am down with that! 

You want to fully immerse yourself in this bath for a minimum of 20 minutes. The added ginger can help to bring on some additional sweat {or so I read}, but it’s not required.
- 1 time a weekDetox bath to help prevent the flu - click for more tips

10 tips to avoid the flu without a flu shot or drugs from @runtothefinish #health

CAUTION: ALL OF THESE TOGETHER cleanse the body…yes that means if you haven’t been using any of these things before DO NOT do them all together or you will feel a bit like having the flu as your body detoxes.

I did not have that reaction, as I’m used to a lot of these things. Though there was certainly some cleansing, which was also welcomed after a week of enjoying some Hawaiian treats.

There you have it all the ways I ramped up my immune system without ever taking a drug and have managed once again to avoid the flu!

Do you stick to holistic options for health?

Do you get a flu shot?

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