6 Weeks to a Younger You: Week 3

August 24, 2011 at 11:28 am , by

gummy bearsHow did you do on your week 2 assignments? Did you give meditation a try? Or get your blood pressure checked? Hope you at least put on your sunscreen and took your vitamin D. Those are easy!

But the homework gets harder this week with two assignments that I know I need to work on: getting my heart rate up and eating less sugar.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Remember step aerobics classes? I think they went the way of shiny Spandex around the turn of the millennium, but they had the right idea: to get your heart rate up without causing joint pain from pounding the pavement. I kind of miss them. I’m lucky that I live and work in New York City, so I walk a lot—but on a very flat island. I seldom climb anything unless it’s a few stairs out of a subway station, and I don’t often break a sweat, either (except when I’m standing on a broiling subway platform, but that doesn’t count).

To improve your stamina and cardiovascular health, you’ve got to raise your heart rate and get the sweat going, too. New research says you can do this through interval training, meaning short bursts of intense activity combined with longer periods at a more comfortable pace. This is good news! I’m not a gym rat, so I want to find a way to incorporate this into my day. Aha—another urban advantage. I can combine my pedometer-guided walks to and from work with the stairs in my apartment building. I’ll try to zoom up and down the six flights to my apartment at least a couple of times a day. Maybe if I put Olivia Newton-John on my iPod, I can pretend I’m back in aerobics class. Woo! Now what are you going to do to step it up?

STEP AWAY FROM THE CUPCAKE

I think cupcakes have become the bane of American women’s existence. They’re everywhere, in schools, at the office, in the mall—and they’re nearly impossible to resist. Let’s face it, when you have a bad day or are stressed out, you don’t crave broccoli. You want the red velvet cupcake with the cream-cheese icing and the cute sugar daisy on top. Or ice cream, cookies, chocolate-covered caramels and gummy bears. Or maybe chips, crackers and pizza (which are basically sugar, too, at least as far as your metabolism is concerned).

I used to think sugar wasn’t as bad for you as fat, but research is showing it’s actually the other way around. Sugar turns into belly fat, raises your bad cholesterol and leads to heart disease—which still kills more women than anything else. So how do you resist? Here’s what works for me: Don’t eat carbs for breakfast. Start your day with some protein, fat and fiber to kick-start your metabolism, keep you feeling full and help you fend off the sugar cravings later. That means no OJ, fruit, cereal, bagels, pastries, energy bars or toast (save those for later). It doesn’t mean you’re never going to give into the lure of the cute cupcake again (I had a pink one with sprinkles yesterday after the earthquake scare), but it lays the groundwork. You can do the rest!

Here are some of my choices for breakfast: eggs scrambled in a little olive oil or a hard-boiled egg I’ve made the night before, a mozzarella stick and a handful of walnuts, low-fat plain (no honey or fruit purée) Greek yogurt with toasted almonds, even a big spoonful of peanut butter spread on celery sticks. If you have time, an omelet with some spinach and feta cheese would be amazing. Sometimes I’ll even munch on cold crunchy leftover green beans, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

See lots more tips and details of our six-week plan here, and cheers to a younger you!