What’s Healthy and What’s Not

What's Healthy and What's NotIt’s no secret that most people are interested in being healthy.  Which is why the diet industry has been replacing the word “diet” with “healthy eating” over the years.

Diets are not as popular as they used to be (mostly because of the 95% failure rate) so they needed to come up with something else to call restrictive dieting to make it more palatable.

If you call a 1200 calorie per day food plan a “diet” then most people will think twice about jumping on board. However, if you call it “clean” or “healthy eating” people are more likely to trust the program and even worse feel guilty if they decide to reject it.

Not everything that claims to be “healthy” is good for you

Basically, the words “health” and “healthy living” have been hijacked.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to learn about better ways to take care of yourself or should give up focusing on your health.  It simply means you need to be an informed consumer to avoid going down a path that doesn’t serve you well for the long term.

In today’s short video I discuss that not everything branded as “healthy” is good for you and how to determine what is.  There’s a lot of information available when it comes to health and fitness.  New fads will come and go so it’s important that you know what’s right for you and that you give yourself permission to say no to the things that could cause you more harm than good.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017!

Shared with Love,
Jennifer Ledford


What Does It Mean To Eat Clean?

making the right choice

The term “eating clean” has been tossed around a lot these days.  I have to admit when I first saw the phrase pop up on the internet my initial reaction was a big eye roll.  I thought “Oh great, another fad diet designed to make people feel guilty about what they eat.  We have enough of those to last an eternity!”

Fortunately, that’s not what it’s about.

While there’s no scientific definition attached to the phrase “eating clean,” the concept is actually a good one.  The goal is to eat food in as close to its natural state as possible.

Clean eating is about understanding how to read labels, knowing where the ingredients came from, and what process they went through to make it onto your plate.  Things like additives, preservatives, and ingredients that add flavor can contribute to making a food less wholesome.

It’s about shopping around the perimeter of the store for as much of your food as possible and knowing what to look for when tackling the center aisles full of prepackaged food.

Please understand, I’m not suggesting that you should never eat anything processed.  One of the challenges with many of the clean eating plans is they usually have too many rules and restrictions.  However, a balanced approach to “eating clean” is a wise choice to help you maintain your weight and your health.

Here are five simple tips to help you make cleaner choices when you are shopping at the markets.

Cook as much as you can.  One of the top reasons I encourage meal planning and cooking your own food is that you have more control over the ingredients.  You can modify recipes to suit dietary needs and have 100% control over what goes into your body.  Magazines like Cooking Light are a great place to find healthy recipes that  won’t skimp on taste or ingredients.

Not all processed food is unhealthy.  Food that is deliberately changed before it is made available for us to eat is considered processed.  It’s usually packaged in boxes or bags and contains more than one item on the ingredient list.

Some processed foods are actually healthy for you and can be great time savers.  Foods like precooked whole grains, greek yogurt, nut butters, frozen fruits and veggies, organic soups, and canned beans are all great examples of healthy processed foods.

Take a quick look at the ingredient list before purchasing processed food.  Ask yourself if it’s something you could make at home or can it only be made in a lab.  If you see things like high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated fats (transfats), the food has undergone a chemical process.  I recommend avoiding these chemicals in your food as much as possible.

Load up on fruits and vegetables.  Choose recipes like stir fry’s that include a lot of vegetables.  Try adding a side salad with your dinner or lunch, or including a piece of fruit with your snack.  If you like to keep it simple, fill up half of your plate with fruits and veggies and then add your protein and carbohydrate.

Know where your food comes from.  Ask your market where the food you are buying came from.  Look for meat that is grass-fed and raised without antibiotics or hormones.  Produce that travels a few hours to get to your plate is less likely to have artificial preservatives than the fruits and veggies traveling 1500 miles or more from other countries.  Buy produce that’s in season and shop weekly.  If spoilage is a concern, buy frozen organic fruits and vegetables.  They will last  longer and can be more budget friendly.  I like to buy a combination of fresh and frozen every week and then focus on using the foods that have a shorter shelf life first.  Freeze meat and defrost it as needed.

Drink plenty of water.  Staying properly hydrated is important for numerous health reasons.  It also helps you limit beverages that contain artificial sweeteners.  Coconut water or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon is a nice alternative to some of the chemically sweetened beverages available on the market.

Eating clean is really nothing new.  It’s a simply a new phrase attached to the way of life my great-grandmother would have understood living on their farm.  Food that comes directly from the farm to the table is usually about as clean as you can get.

I think my grandmother would have wondered what all the fuss was about.  🙂

To your health!

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link which means that if you click on the product link, I’ll receive a small commission. Twenty percent of all Amazon commissions will be donated to charity.  It’s a pleasure to serve you! 

Why You Shouldn’t Count On Exercise Alone to Lose Weight

iStock_scale saying help

Have you been exercising regularly without seeing much weight loss? If so, you may need to make some adjustments to your eating plan.


A recent study at the University of Texas has shown that exercise alone without adjustments to diet produces minimal weight loss. The University studied two sedentary control groups. One group of 50 people made no changes to their diet or activity levels at all and were monitored for 12 weeks.

The second group of 50 people exercised with a personal trainer up to five hours per week for a total of 12 weeks and made no changes to their weekly diet. This group lost a mere 1.5 lbs in 12 weeks. I know what you’re thinking, not that impressive.

I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 26 years and I can confirm that these statistics are unfortunately true.  Unless you are exercising at the level of an Olympic athlete or a professional football player, it’s pretty tough to lose weight with exercise alone.

Please understand, this DOES NOT mean you should quit exercising. Quite the opposite! The study reveals that exercise alone makes it hard to lose weight.  There are many reasons we should all be exercising regularly.  Research shows that exercise can help with depression, lower the risk for heart disease and cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, and even grow new brain cells.  Exercise is an excellent anti-aging tool. It’s just not that effective when it comes to weight loss.

The best way to shed pounds for good is a combination of a healthy eating plan AND regular exercise.


1)  Eat carbohydrates.  This is where the media often gets it wrong.  Your body needs carbohydrates to lose weight.  What’s most important is the type of carbohydrates you are eating.  Skip the processed white flour and focus on whole grains like wild rice, quinoa, brown rice, organic corn, and beans.

Sweet potatoes and other root vegetables are great options as well.

2) Plan your meals.  Planning your meals helps you eat regularly and choose the right foods to stabilize your blood sugar.  Stabilizing your blood sugar helps you avoid “storing fat.”  You need to eat food to burn energy or “calories.”  However, what you eat really does matter.

Try websites or magazines like Cooking Light and Eating Well.  Make sure your three main meals are balanced and have a combination of complex carbohydrates (whole grains), protein, healthy fats, fruit, and lots of vegetables.  You can never go wrong with plenty of veggies!

3) Snack wisely. A small serving of chips is about 150 calories on average. But, did you know you can eat four cups of popcorn for only 60 calories? Popcorn is way more filling, and will keep you satisfied longer. Not crazy about popcorn? Eat a piece of fruit.

4) Limit the fast food. I realize this may be obvious to some. However, with 25% of our nation eating fast food daily, I do not like to ignore this one.  One of our family members lost 22 pounds when she gave up her daily trip to the fast food joint and started brown-bagging her lunch.  And, she did not add any exercise to her daily routine.

Most of us picture a drive through window when we think of fast food. However, fast food can come from restaurants that are considered “healthy” as well. When you let someone else cook the meal, you have zero control over how the meal is prepared and/or the ingredients.

Take a look at what’s on the menu at your favorite take out restaurant and decide if the food choices meet your weight loss goals. If not, look for other take out options. Or, have some healthy frozen food on hand and combine it with a fresh salad for a last minute dinner option.

5) Eat Breakfast! This important meal jump starts your metabolism. Once you are awake the body has already been fasting for an average of 10-12 hours depending on eating and sleeping patterns.

Skipping breakfast increases the fast to approximately 15-20 hours. This keeps the body from producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat to lose weight. When you skip breakfast, you risk sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

Not hungry in the morning? Start with something simple like a piece of a fruit, and have the rest of your breakfast as a mid-morning snack.

A well balanced eating plan is critical for weight loss. When you combine exercise with the right nutrition, it will be easy to lose weight and keep it off for good.

Any questions? Please ask me in the comment section below. I’m happy to help!