Enjoy The Fourth Of July Without Worrying About The Weight Gain


Two years ago our dog (Dillon) and I marched in our local parade on the Fourth of July. It was super exciting to be part of the celebration honoring the birth of our country and the people who fought for our freedom.  Our sweet Dillon went on to be in Heaven a little over a year later.  I will always be grateful for the memory of that special Fourth of July I shared with Dillon and the rest of our town.

However,  I have a confession to make.  There’s another reason I had agreed to do it.  I wanted the exercise.  It seemed like such a great way to get my workout in for the morning and celebrate at the same time.

One of my secrets to weight management without dieting is to get exercise on days I will be indulging. I don’t use this method only on the Fourth of July — I practice this principle all summer long!

Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy your holiday without worrying about weight gain:

1) Exercise. If you are walking in your local parade, this is a great way to get exercise. Committing to an event will help keep you on track when you might be tempted to “blow off” exercise.

You don’t have to be in a parade to get exercise on the fourth.  You and your family and/or group could walk or hike before all of the grilling starts. Try calling to set it up in advance. If it’s too tough to fit in — plan fun, active games.  You can have a blast and help prevent the mindless snacking that can occur while visiting.

2) Go Light. Having a potluck? Bring the lighter version of your traditional dish. Something as simple as substituting regular mayonnaise with the light version can cut back significantly on calories! Google is great for helping you find the lighter fare without compromising taste. Ask other friends if they want to bring light dishes as well. If appropriate, why not make “cooking light” the theme?

Choose leaner meats for the barbecue. A Kielbasa sausage has 330 calories. That doesn’t include the bun.  Substitute with a chicken sausage that has 170 calories.

3) Make calorie conscious choices.  Enjoy the spread, however limit foods like chips and dip. A couple handfuls of chips and two tablespoons of dip is usually a serving and can have 200 calories easy! Load up on fruits, veggies, and green salad. Take smaller “taste size” portions of the heavier dishes like potato salad. This allows you to keep from feeling deprived and stay on target with your weight loss/management goals.

Substitute sparkling water or plain iced tea for sweet tea, energy drinks, and soda. Wine and beer have a lot less calories than blended “umbrella” drinks. If you plan on drinking some of your calories, you may want to skip dessert or vice versa.

Make a plan before the party starts. For example if the tea is sweet, I”ll choose water.

4) It’s only one day.  You have to really pig out to gain weight in one day. However, the fourth can set the tone for the rest of the weekend and even the summer. If you overdo it, get right back on your normal eating and exercise plan the following day.  It may take some self control, but you’ll feel better in the long run.

Have a super fun and safe Fourth of July!  Go out and create amazing memories with the ones you love that you will cherish forever.

God bless you and  America!

How To Exercise Without It Feeling Like A Chore


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Want to know a simple way to stay active in your spare time — and burn extra calories without it feeling like a “chore?” It’s easy! Increase your leisure time activity!

Leisure time physical activity is generally considered any exercise, sport or recreational activity that is not job related; is not a household task; and is not fulfilling a transportation need.

Currently, the average adult in the United States spends 90% of their leisure time sitting. While that statistic sounds a bit scary, it’s very simple to stay active and not fall under the “average.”

Increasing leisure time activity not only helps you stay active — it can help you with your weight loss efforts, and can positively impact heart health and longevity.


1) Find something you like. No amount of coaxing, coaching, or fancy accountability programs will motivate you to stick to something in your leisure time that you are not interested in.

Choose activities you enjoy and that rejuvenate you. Some examples include: playing with your kids, walking your dog, hiking with friends, walking by the water, cycling,  or strolling through a botanical garden. These can all be considered leisure time activities.

2) Turn off the screen. Pay attention to how many hours you spend watching TV and/or surfing on the internet. Try turning off the screen for one day on the weekend. Use that time for physically active recreation.

Sometimes it’s difficult to unplug for a whole day. If that’s the case, decide how much time you need for your task, set a timer, and log off when you’re done. Then, go do something more physically active.

3) Exercise with purpose. Local walks/runs for charities are great leisure activities that also raise money for your favorite causes.

4) Ditch the car. Take advantage of any opportunity to leave your car parked and walk.

5) Track your progress. Step counters are a great way to measure an increase in activity. Seeing the effects of walking to the movies, throwing the ball with your kids, or taking the dog to the park will inspire you to keep it up. Whether you are athletic or not, a monitor can also motivate you to be competitive with yourself — which can lead to an increase in activity.

6) Try something new. Have a desire to try a new activity? Commit to trying it one time. Who knows? You may hit the jackpot and find something you want to keep up regularly.

Some examples would be horseback riding, a golf lesson, visiting the museum, surfing, paddle boarding, hiking in a park and having a picnic, or strolling at a mall you’ve never been to.

No matter what you choose, keep it fun. It is leisure time after all!

Here’s to staying active!
Jennifer Ledford

The Truth About No Pain No Gain

Today I’m tackling a great weight loss question someone asked me on Facebook. I usually answer questions on the spot if they can be answered in one to two sentences. But some inspire articles! Today I’m answering a question about pain versus gain and what is appropriate for weight loss.

Scott asked:

Let’s say you run a mile and it’s a real workout. It’s painful. Let’s say you keep at (it) so that running a mile becomes easy. To continue to lose weight, can you do that by simply continuing to run one mile? Or do you need to up the ante to two miles? In other words, is exercise only beneficial when it hurts? They say “No pain. No gain.” is that real?

Can you hit a weight loss plateau?

Let’s use Scott’s example. In the beginning, running the mile is more challenging for the body. There are two reasons- you weigh more and it’s something new. At first your body uses a lot more energy. Over time your body will become lighter and more efficient at running a mile, and will burn less calories. This is when people typically see a “plateau” in their weight loss efforts.

So, to answer Scott’s question — if further weight loss is desired, adding another mile would be beneficial for continued weight loss. It would continue to challenge the body’s endurance.

No exercise should ever be painful!

There’s a difference between pain and stepping out of your comfort zone. You should never feel pain when you exercise! Pain is your body telling you to stop what you are doing and find out what’s wrong. It’s not uncommon to feel a twinge from time to time while exercising. However, after two weeks of repetitive pain while exercising, go see your doctor.

You’ve definitely over-trained if you experience muscle soreness for more than two to three days, poor sleep, or prolonged fatigue (being super sluggish the next day). If any of this occurs, reduce the intensity or amount of time you perform the activity.

Feeling sick to your stomach is over training as well and means you need to back off the throttle. If you actually throw up and a trainer tells you that’s normal, I suggest you find a new trainer. For the average exerciser, pushing yourself to the point of puking is not only dangerous, it’s unnecessary!

Cross training is key!

Unless your goal is to be a marathon runner, adding more and more time to your exercise routine is probably unrealistic. The best way to keep the body “on it’s toes” is to cross train. Adding interval workouts two days — but no more than three days per week to your routine — will challenge the body without over training. The other days should be used for more “steady” or moderate workouts to allow recovery time. Too much over training can actually slow down your metabolism!

Burn more calories!

Change the activity to burn more calories — for example, run two days a week, then add a swim or  spin class. Cross training also prevents injury by avoiding too much repetitive motion from a single activity. Another great way to cross train is with lifestyle activity such as outdoor sports or chores that require physical exertion.

If walking is your thing, cross train by adding hills or stairs to your routine.

Slow and steady wins the race!

Any exercise routine that is safe for your body and performed consistently is beneficial. It helps build cardiovascular and muscular endurance as well as a steady weekly burn of calories. You are better off doing a twenty minute routine most days of the week than a one hour “hard core” workout sporadically.

As you get more fit, you will want to challenge your body in a safe and fun way! Remember, this is about maintaining your health and weight loss for life. Adjustments are normal.

Please let me know if you have a question about your routine, or a comment you would like to share. I love to hear from you!

Blessings to you and yours!