Thursday, December 31, 2015

Inspiration: Amanda Fraijo-Tobin

I love her attitude!

"I did not start out with a goal weight in mind. I didn't want one. I wanted to be healthier. Period. Healthy is not pounds on a scale. This is not a short fix; this is a change I will continue to make for the rest of my life.
"Some days, I may not get through an entire workout like I want to — that's OK. Today I will do what I can."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Inspiration: Fit Jill

I discovered "FitJill1129" on Instagram -- so inspiring! Here are her own words...
I decided enough was enough. I can't keep buying a bigger size jeans every year. It was getting ridiculous. So I decided to make some changes... I began following Atkins and working out to Leslie Sansone videos off of Youtube. At first I could only do about 10 minutes which about killed me, but every few days I would add on another minute. Once I lost 50 lbs my reward to myself was joining a gym.  
I've lost 213 lbs (96kg) in 18 months. No surgery, products or professional help. I'm 48 and have hypothyroidism, pcos and insulin resistance. I... work out doing cardio and lifting heavy free weights most days.
You have to make a choice. Do you want to keep eating your favorite foods or do you want to lose weight? Because you can't have both. Eating the way you are now is what caused you to gain weight and if you keep eating the same way, you will keep weighing the same. If you want to lose weight you have to change the way you eat, and not just kinda sorta. If you kinda, sorta change the way you eat, you'll kinda sorta get results. 
...if you want to make major changes to your body, you'll have to make major changes to your lifestyle. The lifestyle you're living is what's got you the body you have. Yes, it's hard. I know that. Sometimes you will spend all day battling your mind. Your mind will try to talk you into cheating, but don't let it. This journey is not only about losing weight, it's about learning how to deal with life and adversity without turning to food.
If you want to lose weight and change your body, it's a 100% effort.... Think of it like an alcoholic giving up drinking. You're going to have to fight for it if you want it. Have a plan before you go to bed at night. Know exactly what you will eat, when and where. Picture it your mind. Make sure you have the foods you need on hand. Avoid unexpected trips to the store where there is too much temptation. Drive home a different way if there is a place that tempts you along the way. Know what your weaknesses are and go out of your way to avoid them.
Way to go, Jill! Keep inspiring us! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How much sugar is in your "health" food?

The SugarStacks website had photos of food and drinks, with a stack of sugar cubes showing how much sugar is in each serving.

Do you know how much sugar is in your granola bar? Smoothie? Orange juice? You might be surprised...

A "90 Calories, Lower Fat" granola bar has a little more sugar that the regular version. Neither one is health food.

One "Fat Free! Cholesterol Free! Low Sodium!" SnackWells cookie...

Beverages are the sneakiest! So many of them sound/feel so virtuous, but when you factor in the sugar, you probably wipe out any of the supposed health benfits.

For example. Jamba Juice Sunrise Banana Berry...

Vitamin Water, any flavor:

Sobe Mango Melon:

RockStar Energy Drink:

Orange juice; yes, they're natural sugars, but they affect your body the same way as refined sugar:

Apple juice. SugarStacks says, "Exactly as much sugar per ounce as Coca Cola."

Speaking of which:

Kick the sweet drink habit, and you could easily cut a significant amount of sugar out of your diet!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Inspiration: Almetria lost 177 pounds and bucked the family trend toward diabetes

From an article in Huffington Post, she describes her life before:

"I struggled with weight my entire life and tried every diet known to man. The scales would go up and down, until finally they kept going up...."

"Self-hatred and depression plagued me, and I often wondered how I could do this to myself. I was my worse critic and my worst enemy. It was at that moment in my life that I realized I was an emotional eater. Happy, sad, angry or indifferent -– no matter how I felt, I turned to food as my comfort. I knew I wanted to make a change."

Her decision point:

"In 2009, I got devastating news. The D word: Diabetes. My grandmother, her sister, as well as her mother, had had it, too. I knew it was hereditary, but I thought I was invincible... [thought] I could dodge the bullet -- but I didn’t. 

"I started my weight-loss and fitness journey in 2010. I weighed 342 pounds and wore a size 32. ..."

She shares that it was very tough at first, especially because she was alone. But not really alone:

"Oftentimes, health is the first thing to fall on the back burner and I was tired of putting me further and further down my list of things to do. This weight-loss journey was one of the loneliest periods in my life. I cried often and couldn’t find any accountability partners to take this walk with me. I was in it to win it alone, with the grace of God. I remembered listening to Bishop Walker of Mt. Zion out of Nashville on many of my daily walks. His sermons really helped get me through most days, when I felt like giving up.

"I stepped up my prayer life and pulled away from people who were negative and emotionally draining. I surrounded myself with positive affirmations, because every day isn't going to be a good day, but each day is another opportunity to get it right. Life has its derailments, but it's up to us to get back on track and trust the engineer."

Practical things that helped:

"I decided to do research on my own on how to eat and live a healthier life.... I learned how to balance my meals and used portion control. I meal prepped and planned. My palate had changed -- I was eating things I said I never would and now I enjoy preparing new dishes and creating my own recipes. Walking 2 to 3 miles a day turned into going to Zumba... and eventually, running. 

She didn't just address the physical side of things, though:

"I figured out what my trigger points were when I wanted to emotionally eat, and used exercise and other positive activities to fill the void or combat the emotion. I become more sociable and learned how to handle stress better. "

Her life now:

"I am fit and finally free to do all the things that I knew life had to offer me. I've lost the physical and emotional weight that has been like an albatross around my neck for years. I'm helping others learn how to become fit.... I'm not merely existing anymore. I am living my life like it's golden and I am worth it."

(Psst... You can too!)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tiny Habits: How to make big change

I love this concept! It makes hard things seem really, really doable! Researcher/professor BJ Fogg explains the power of the "Tiny Habit" -- and demonstrates the Tiny Celebration!

Watch the video below -- and maybe get inspired to start your own big change with a tiny habit.

(Note: Hang in there through the cryptic chart with "Blue Path," etc. You don't really need to understand it.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Inspiration: Type 2 Diabetes - Reversed!

Is Diabetes Type 2 irreversible? That’s what Bernard Bollen’s doctor told him, and that’s what conventional wisdom says.

Then Bernard tried the Paleo diet, a way of eating that emphasizes healthy fats and proteins, vegetables (and lots of them!), and limits or excludes processed foods, especially grains. Here’s his story:
I am 59 years old and have eaten a nutrition-sparse diet most of my life, high in sugars and refined carbohydrates. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes 6 years ago, my doctor told me that diabetes was a progressive disease that would require management, but that it was ultimately incurable. My feet were beginning to go numb, a sure sign of nerve damage in the extremities.... I was resigned to what I saw as the inevitable, a limb amputation, blindness, a stroke or a heart attack. 
Then, one year ago... I became aware of the Paleo diet. Its underlying nutritional philosophy just made sense to me. I... threw myself into the Paleo program. Over the next few months I certainly began to lose weight, but more, my whole relation to food... changed.... 
One month ago I saw my doctor.... who one year ago appeared to be skeptical of the benefits of the Paleo diet (so was I for that matter). Today he calls me his ‘poster boy patient’. Nearly all of the medications that I took a year ago have been dispatched to the [trash] bin. My life has been transformed in many ways. 
After six months on the Paleo diet I had already lost 15 kg (33 lbs) and felt that I had made a health breakthrough.... So I enrolled in a gym and regularly engaged in aerobic and resistance exercises. Now, 12 months later I have lost 30 kg (66 lbs) and I look and feel so much better.... 
Today I am cured of diabetes.

Was it the Paleo diet specifically that reversed his condition, or merely getting the processed foods out of his diet and/or reducing carbs? I suspect either would have made a radical difference.

Even if you're not ready to go full-on Paleo or Whole30, I believe -- from my own experience and from what I've seen in others -- that just eliminating sugar and processed foods can make a huge difference in your health -- not just your weight; your overall health!

Diabetes Type 2 increases your risk for multiple, serious health issues:

  • Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes doubles your chance of heart attack or stroke, and dramatically increases your risk of other cardiovascular problems, including CAD, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy). Poorly controlled blood sugar can eventually cause you to lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. 
  • Digestion problems. Damage to the nerves that control digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. 
  • Kidney damage. Diabetes can damage the delicate filtering system of your kidneys. Severe damage can lead to effects which require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina, potentially leading to cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness.
  • Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. 
  • Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Alzheimer's disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be.

Learn more about diabetes' effect on your health:

Read some Whole30 success stories. (Whole30 is a 30-day elimination diet based on Paleo principles.)
Bernard's story is edited from an original article, here.
More success stories from the same site, here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

What is that sweet drink costing you?

In this video by CBS News, a researcher explains how many pieces of bread and crackers equal the calories in one average-sized sweetened drink: Calories - not all created equal

Not all calories are created equal!
To see the video, go to:
Here's the most jarring news:

In just two weeks of drinking sugar- or high-fructose-corn-syrup-sweetened drinks (for 25% of their calories), researchers began to see elevated risks for cardiovascular disease -- even in slim subjects as young as 18.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sugar-Alzheimer's connection

"Researchers have uncovered a unique connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, providing further evidence that a disease that robs people of their memories may be affected by elevated blood sugar, according to scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis."

Read the full article from Science Daily here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Inspiration: Naomi Teeter

I just discovered Naomi Teeter's blog and her inspiring story. She weighed 300 pounds when she decided to change her life. Now she weighs under 180 and is a life coach for others!

Here are some of her "Before and After" pics:

I love that she's not ultra-skinny -- just a healthy weight and shape for her, that still includes some curves! I also love that she doesn't emphasize it being all about looks or fashion, but more about having freedom to live a life that you love.

She says, "I weighed around 275-300 pounds between the ages of 20-25. ...I also suffered with painful acid reflux that kept me awake at night, water on both of my knees, painful joints, extremely dry skin, acne, and always running out of breath. I tried to lose weight many times. I would succeed at dropping 20-40 pounds, but then gain it all right back after giving up on myself again. It wasn’t until the age of 26 that I hit another fork in the road and made the firm decision that I needed to get the weight off for good. There were many times that... it felt like it was impossible, but I kept doing it and didn’t give up on myself this time. Over a year’s time, I liberated an astonishing 150 pounds from my body. Over the course of 5 1/2 years, I’ve maintained a stable 125 pound weight loss."

Hope this inspires you to start where you are -- today!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

If you have an eating disorder, and are thinking about Whole30

There's one line in the Whole30 materials that are probably the most famous/infamous:
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles’.”
But some folks who had food addiction took them to task for that language. And the Whole30 official response was this compassionate post: Sometimes, it is hard.

While I have struggled with mildly out of control eating from time to time, I have not (and through no credit of my own) had the long-term, serious struggle that many do. So reading the comments was very educational for me. Might be for you, too. Here are a few:

"I’m in tears because your re-write showed a kindness in reference to my eating disorder that I do not usually come across. I’ve tried to explain the same thing to people, but no one ever seems to understand. The chemistry in my brain and in my body does not work the same way it does for other people."

"Having watched my Mom battle food addiction as long as I’ve been alive, I commend you for your re-write aimed at those with disordered eating. Even for me, I’ve been struggling with starting a Whole30 because I needed to understand it perfectly before I could begin... I’m so relieved to know it isn’t just me. Thank you for being compassionate enough to frame it in a way the rest of us can utilize as well."

"Anyone who.has been to an AA meeting can attest to the fact that recovering alcoholics are usually carb addicts. Whether it is just a.symptom of an addictive personality or whether it is the same ...problem creating both sets of cravings is a question worth studying. This speaks to how food affects the addict, and how much determination there is required to resist temptation. They deserve our respect and congratulations for continued determination."

"Then I... realized something big. I eat paleo. Not just some of the time – all the time.... I actually cook almost every meal at home and don’t even think twice about it anymore. I stand up for myself in restaurants and make sure I’m eating what I want to put in my body. Better still, I don’t count calories, I don’t starve myself, and I love my body even though it isn’t perfect. That’s the best thing in the world – loving myself....
"When I accidentally ran across this website many months ago, I never imagined all this. But, it wasn’t just learning to eat in a much better way, it was about learning to forgive myself and get right back on the horse when I fell off. Thank you."

"I am a recovering addict and an addictions counselor. When I first heard about The Whole30... I thought it sounded ridiculous and dangerous for anyone prone to addictive behavior. After reading through much of the site, and even before today’s rewrite, I have come to appreciate how balance and perspective are a theme throughout the program."

Interested in Whole30? I could just give you a quick link to the "About" page, but the first time I did that, I read about halfway through and thought, "These people are nuts!" and clicked back out of the site.

But I keep hearing stories about people's lives being changed by this way of eating, so I kept reading more and more, finally reading It Starts With Food. Then it began to make sense.

Do I buy into all their assumptions and theories? No, but I think there's something to it, so we're trying it. I hope to start blogging about our journey soon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A solid resource for info on sugar and health

Check out an authoritative source for scientific evidence about sugar and its impact on health. Organized by a team of doctors and researchers from the University of California, the goal of SugarScience is to take the latest research out of medical journals and make it available to the public, to help individuals and communities make healthy choices.

The site reflects an exhaustive review of more than 8,000 scientific papers that have been published to date, with a focus on the areas where the science is strongest – specifically, on diabetesheart disease and liver disease.

In addition to publishing information, the site also has free resources for others to use, such as graphics for print or online use (like the one shown above), and videos. Here's a sample:



Friday, April 3, 2015

Things you need to unlearn about diet

Researchers are learning new things about diet and nutrition that are turning the tables on some of the advice we've been hearing so long, we believe them as hard cold facts. Are you believing one or more of them?

Unlearn this: What I eat influences my body chemistry.

Learn this: This one is not really new news, but I think it's a core truth that we don't really comprehend: What you eat doesn't just affect your body: it literally becomes your body chemistry! And your body tissue, bone, blood, muscles, brain, hormones, etc. And the fuel you run on. The food you eat is disassembled in your digestive system, then reassembled to make you. This is why what you eat is so important!

Learn more: Want it all spelled out scientifically? Here's an 11-minute video from Kahn Academy, explaining the basics of metabolism:

Unlearn these: Eating fat is what makes you fat. Low fat = healthy. Eliminate as much fat as possible from your diet. Saturated fat is especially bad.

Learn this: Your body needs fat! It uses fat from your diet for energy, for making cells and other important parts of your body, and yes, some of it is stored as fat. (However, carbs are also stored as fat!)
     Also, most grocery store products labeled "Low Fat!" have amped up sugar and other unhealthy carbs to compensate for the lost fat; definitely not a healthy move!
Learn more: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which concludes that "there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease."

Unlearn this: Eating high cholesterol foods is bad for your health. 

Learn this: New news, as of Feb. 2015 -- "The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel -- The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee -- has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food." While about one quarter of people may be cholesterol-sensitive, for most of us, medicine is now saying it's not the problem we once believed.
     So how did we get convinced that cholesterol was so bad? Some misunderstandings about how body cholesterol gets made, and its exact role in our circulatory system. Oh, and the fact that in one early, influential study, the researchers used rabbits. Turns out, rabbits are unusually vulnerable to a high cholesterol diet!

To learn more: The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol,Washington Post

Unlearn this: It's all about calories in, calories out.

Learn this: How nutrition affects our health is incredibly complex, so it's too simplistic to say it's all about one thing. But if it were, it wouldn't be about calories in/calories out! And it would be definitely be more about the content of your diet. Over the long term, you will lose more weight, keep it off, and be healthier eating 1700 calories a day of whole, nutrient-dense foods than you will on 1200 factory-manufactured, "low fat" calories a day. And it will be easier, because you'll be more satisfied!

To learn more: Four Biggest Myths About Calories, CBS

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Super-easy, super-quick 7-minute workout

And when I say, super-easy, I mean all you have to do is watch the screen -- well, okay, and do the exercises! But there's minimal thinking involved! Once you click "START", there's a visual depiction of each exercise, and a counter that ticks down the seconds you have left.

This is just an image. The link to the video is at the bottom of the post.

And as for quick? Who doesn't have seven minutes?! And each set is only 30 seconds. And this isn't even seven minutes of solid exercise; there are 10-second rests in between!

A tip: I put my laptop on the fourth step of my stairway, and use the first two steps when the instructions call for using a chair. This is more stable, and it also lets me use a higher or lower stair to accommodate my fitness level.

For someone in moderate shape, most of the exercises will be doable. But if you're in beginner shape, or some of the moves are too hard, you can still adapt the moves as needed. Here are a few ways:

- When the instructions call for a chair, use the first step on a stairway. After a few workouts, try the second step, or alternate between the first and second.

- Instead of jumping up and down for the jumping jacks, just step out to the side as you raise your arms, and step back as you lower them. Switch sides at 15 seconds. When that gets easier, add in a jumping jack or two between each easier rep.

- Adjust the plank and push-up to your capability; start with doing them on your knees or the lowest stair, rather than your toes on the floor.

- Instead of high-knee running in place, do marching in place. As you get more fit, add more running in.

The last two exercises are the most difficult. For either or both of them, substitute an easier exercise of your choice. Here's one I like to use.

Want a harder workout? Do it two or three times through.

Here's the link: Seven-minute workout. Just click the big blue button that says, "START."

Need an even easier workout? That's okay! Check out these seated workouts.

So go! Start where you are today!

Friday, March 20, 2015

A simple explanation of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Here is a 7-minute video that does a great job of explaining in very simple terms how insulin and glucose work together to control your blood sugar/glucose and get your cells what they need, and also explains the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:

What happens to blood sugar levels after you eat

You've probably heard the term "blood sugar" and heard people talk about whether theirs is high or low. "Hyperglycemia" just means high blood sugar; hypoglycemia means low blood sugar. Your body works best when your blood sugar levels stay within a certain range. Too low, and your energy and ability to think clearly will crash; too high, and all kinds of things start to go out of whack. Long-term high levels -- which happens when you have diabetes -- can do permanent damage in your smaller blood vessels: feet, hands, and eyes.

Here's a 9-minute video from Khan Academy which explains -- in a very simplified manner - what happens to your glucose (blood sugar) levels after you eat. And how the blood sugar levels in a diabetic differ from those in a healthy individual.

image source: girl eating sweet

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fitness: It's about you

Fitness is not about being better than someone else; it's about being better than you used to be.

Start now: A few simple steps to better health

The single best thing you can do to improve your health is to stop putting it off! The biggest mistake most people make is starting off with some crazy-big effort that can't be sustained for more than a few weeks -- or days.

Don't despise small beginnings. Start now, start where you are today, with tiny, doable steps. Baby steps, really. So small, it takes more effort to defend why you're not doing than to just shut up and do them!

And don't bite off all eight at once! Start now, with one - or, at the most, two. Then keep that up for a week before you add another.

Here are some to choose from:

1. Enlist help. Ask an upbeat friend or family member to call, email, or text you every few days to encourage you in your journey.

2. Read an inspiring health-related book. Or watch an inspiring video.

3. Walk for 10 minutes a day, preferably in sunshine. If you can't walk for 10 minutes, walk as long as you can, sit till you catch your breath, and continue until you've walked a total of 10 minutes. Even if it takes you an hour. You started! Yay, you!

4. Try one of these beginner-level, seated workouts.

5.Write an encouraging note to yourself about this journey. Re-read it while you eat breakfast every day, and/or before you go to bed every night.

6. Write an encouraging or challenging verse or phrase on a card and put it on your mirror. And your computer. And your dashboard.

7. Set aside 30 minutes on the weekend to prep and pack healthy snacks and/or lunches for the week.

8. Start to develop the habit of marching in place or doing the twist as you brush your teeth. (Feel silly? Do it anyway! Laugh at yourself; laughter is healthy, too!)

Okay, pick one - now! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Inspiration: If he can do it, you can do it! Incredible weight loss success story.

Arthur Boorman was a 47-year-old Veteran. He weighed almost 300 pounds. He couldn't walk unassisted, and for 15 years, doctors had told him that would never change. And he believed them.

But he gave one last effort, with the help of a patient yoga coach, and... well, just watch this.

There is hope! Start where you are today!

Don't know where to start? Here are some baby steps.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Food cravings: Why you have them; How to beat them

Why do you have food cravings? Not genuine hunger, signaling that your digestive tract is ready for more, but craving for a particular kind of, or a very specific food.

If you've struggled with weight issues, you may be quick to blame yourself and your "will power" -- after which you will probably beat yourself up, and/or say "that's just me; I'll never change."

USA Today health reporter (and nutritionist, fitness expert, and health coach) Yuri Elkaim explains that there are actually a few different reasons for cravings. He posits that "everyone is different – cravings can be caused by one factor or multiple reasons." And here's the good news: One type of craving is a healthy signal from your body, and all of them are changeable.

Here are the three types of cravings he addresses:

1. Simple conditioning. This is where you associate a certain kind of food with a certain event or setting. He uses the example of pizza being associated with home movies. For me, road trips trigger expectations for junk food. (New Year's Eve and summer vacations being the only times in my childhood when my mom freely gave us junk food.) "Once you know the 'why' behind your food cravings," he says, "you can begin to actively fight them. Remind yourself, 'My body doesn’t need this food. I have conditioned myself to crave this food, and I can condition myself to stop.'”

2. Physiological craving. This the type that may actually be your body crying out for more of a certain nutrient. For example, craving salt after a workout may be a signal that your body isn't processing sodium correctly. He recommends testing to get to the bottom of this issue.

3. Food addiction. Yes, here's the uncomfortable truth: we can be emotionally addicted to food. But sometimes, it goes deeper than emotions, actually involving the same areas of the brain that respond to drugs like cocaine and heroin. This topic deserves more explanation, but his summary is accurate: "This isn’t easy, because you will go through a withdrawal process, but it’s critical you stick to it if you want to kick the habit. The good thing is that you only have to do this for about two weeks. "

Those two weeks can be brutal! I can personally testify that after you make it through the withdrawal, cravings subside substantially and it gets much easier to pass up sweets. If, however, you give in and eat something sweet, you're basically setting yourself up to be like this guy:

Don't be that guy! Here's one of the most important things you need to know when you're trying to kick the sugar habit.

The original article at USA Today: This Is Why You Have Food Cravings

Thursday, February 26, 2015

12 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks

It's often the little things that make or break a healthy eating plan. Like snacks. 

Don't avoid snacks, and don't pretend like you're not gonna have 'em! Plan for them. Stock your pantry, your desk, or your vehicle with some handy but satisfying alternatives.

Here are 12 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks:

1. Want something crunchy and salty? Replace crackers and chips with nuts. Keep a variety of your favorites on hand. Yes, they have fat, but it's mostly the good kind (especially walnuts and almonds), and fat satisfies sooner than carbs, so you may eat less.

2. Want something salty and sweet? Try an apple and sugar-free nut butter, or apple with cheese. Pears with cheese are tasty, too. I especially like red pears with smoked Swiss.

3. Want something creamy and sweet? Stir together some frozen berries, greek yogurt, vanilla and sweetener of your choice. (Find out which ones are lower in fructose.)

4. Replace sugar- or sweetener-laden soda with soda water. Flavor it with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Add sweetener if you must, but you get to control what kind of sweetener and how much goes in.

5. Dip raw carrot or jicama chips in caesar, ranch or blue cheese dressing. Watch out for sugar and corn syrup in store-bought dressings, though. Better to make your own. (Here are recipes for seven simple salad dressings.)

6. Serving dip at a party? Take hearts of romaine: tear or cut away everything but the strong central rib. Save the leafy part for salads, and use the ribs for dippers, instead of chips or crackers.

7. Make your own garlic herb cheese dip.

8. Got the munchies? It might just be thirst and/or boredom. Have a glass of ice water and go do something interesting or relaxing for 10 minutes.

9. Mix cottage cheese, salsa and guacamole; dip it with celery stalks or romaine ribs.

10. When you would normally go to potato or corn chips, go with 100% whole-grain crackers (such as Triscuits), and spread them with something that brings some protein and/or fat to the mix: cheese, ricotta, sugar-free nut butter, or hummus.

11. I love this idea! Take your own healthy snacks to the movie theater.

12. Do a little research and find out what healthy options are available where you tend to stop for snacks. At QuikTrip, walk right past the chip aisle and look for the healthy options, including fresh fruit and cheese sticks.

Time better spent, take 2

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time better spent

If you have time for Pinterest (or Facebook, or Youtube, or...), you have time for exercise.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

5 tiny habits that could change your health

Lifehack posted "25 Tiny Habits That Could Change Your Life." Here are the five they suggested for physical health:

1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. We often don’t get enough water in our systems, and get so busy throughout the day that we don’t think about stopping to replenish our supply.... Trigger yourself by leaving a big glass out on the counter or table. Or do what I do, and get a big travel mug with a lid. At night, I fill it up with a lot of ice and a bit of water, and in the morning it’s waiting for me: a nice, cool cup of water. Flush the toxins, kickstart your system, wake yourself up.

2. Park as far away as you can from the door. Fight the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by getting more steps into your day whenever you can. In fact,simple things like a longer stroll from the car to the door might be more effective than a vigorous work-out at counteracting the effects of long hours at a desk.

3. Eat raw fruit or vegetables with every meal. Think: a green side salad, a slice of melon, some berries, a few carrot sticks and cucumber slices. Not only will you get more nutrients in, you will also be getting in more fiber and potentially helping your body lose weight, retain energy, and decrease hunger.

4. Stand up and stretch every hour, on the hour. Trigger yourself with a beep on your phone ...or computer. Sitting for extended time periods is a bad idea for both your body and your brain. You need a mental and physical break, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just stop... stand up where you are, reach over your head, take a deep breath, touch your toes, roll your shoulders.

5. Carry a small bag of nuts or beef jerky everywhere you go. Something protein-rich will help stave off hunger as well as keeping you from getting to that ravenous point when you’ll eat anything in sight, no matter what the calorie count is. Getting a little more protein in your diet can help boost your metabolism and build your muscle, as well.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dear Diet Soda: You're not helping - What research has to say about artificially sweetened beverages

Excerpts from a report published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism 2013

Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements

Susan E. Swithers -- Department of Psychological Sciences and Ingestive Behavior Research Center, Purdue University, 703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

ASB = artificially sweetened beverage
SSB = sugar sweetened beverage

Weight gain & body fat percentage

The San Antonio Heart Study documented weight change in men and women over a 7–8-year period. That study reported that, among participants who were normal weight or overweight at the beginning of the study, risk of weight gain and obesity were significantly greater in those consuming ASB compared with those who did not.
In a study of two adolescent groups, ASB use was associated with increased body fat percentage at 2-year follow-up.

Metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes)

A number of studies have reported greater risk of metabolic syndrome for consumers of ASB. Estimates of the increase range from 17% to over 100%, with the magnitude of the risk also depending on which other risk factors were taken into consideration. In studies that also examined the risk of metabolic syndrome with SSB consumption, the increased risk was often similar for SSB and ASB.

Type 2 diabetes

In the European E3N study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, risk for Type 2 diabetes more than doubled for participants in the top 25% of ASB consumption compared with non-consumers. SSB consumption was also associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Hypertension and cardiovascular disease

In the Nurses Health Study, risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) was significantly elevated in women who consumed more than two ASB or SSB per day. Similarly, in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, risk of CHD was significantly elevated by ASB and SSB.
Three different studies found a significantly elevated risk for hypertension in women who consumed at least one ASB daily -- at a level similar to that of SSB use.
Results from the Northern Manhattan Study indicated that daily ASB consumption was associated with significantly increased risk of vascular events, at a magnitude similar to daily SSB consumption.

Concluding remarks

Recent data from humans and rodent models have provided little support for ASB in promoting weight loss or preventing negative health outcomes such as Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular events. Instead, a number of studies suggest people who regularly consume ASB are at increased risk compared with those that do not consume ASB; with the magnitude of the increased risks similar to those associated with SSB.


Read more about why your diet pop may be making you fat.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

3 beginner level workouts you can do without getting out of your chair

Here are three workouts you can do if you have limited mobility, limited cardio capability, or just need a very beginner level workout.

Choose one workout. Go at a pace that makes you a little out of breath, but if you need to stop and rest, just hit pause, rest for a minute or two, then hit play when you're ready to go again.

Hey - there's nothing wrong with being a beginner. Start where you are today!

11-minute beginner-level cardio routine

Do you sit at a desk all day? Are you confined to a chair? Do you struggle with mobility issues? Then this workout is for you! This short and simple cardio workout will elevate your heart rate, which is good for your body and your brain.
  • Length: 11 minutes
  • Equipment: An armless chair
  • Type of Workout: Cardio (aerobic) & flexibility
  • Fitness Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Impact: Zero-impact
  • See the workout

8-minute beginner-level upper body strengthening routine 

A series of seated exercises that will help you tone your entire core, improve your posture, and increase your spinal mobility and flexibility.
  • Length: 8 minutes
  • Equipment: An armless chair; light hand weights. If you don't have weights, grab a couple cans of soup or veggies.
  • Type of Workout: Strength training (toning) & flexibility
  • Muscles Worked: Abs, obliques and lower back
  • Fitness Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Impact: No-impact
  • See the workout

12-minute beginner-level core workout

A series of seated exercises that will help you tone your entire core, improve your posture, and increase your spinal mobility and flexibility.
  • Length: 12 minutes
  • Equipment: An armless chair
  • Type of Workout: Strength training (toning) & flexibility
  • Muscles Worked: Abs, obliques and lower back
  • Fitness Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Impact: No-impact
  • See the workout