Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Heavyweight Fight: Sugar vs. Fat

In the 1980's, our country started an experiment. Forty years later, we now know the experiment failed. In the 1980's, we were told that eating a low fat, whole grain diet was the healthiest way to go. Dozens, no hundreds, of low fat products glutted the grocery store aisles. People opted out of fat whenever possible and added whole grains into their diets. Did heart disease decrease? Did Type 2 Diabetes disappear? How about strokes? Orthopedic surgeries do to obesity? No. No. No. And again No.
Know why? Because fat was replaced by sugar (in some form). Also, if you don't already know this, carbohydrates of any kind are nothing more than complex molecular sugar chains. Your body does not know the difference between a Snickers bar and whole grain bread.  If you eat sugar in any form and you do not immediately burn it off, it will get stored in the fat cells. The fat cells become very happy, all plumped up and they don't want to let go of their new rotund shapeliness. So losing weight from these happy fat cells is hard to do.
On the other hand, if you eat a reasonable amount of fat (30% of your total caloric intake or less), your body can metabolize the fat as an energy source.
So stop avoiding fat and start avoiding sugar.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Selective Hearing

We hear what we want to hear.

This week, a "news" event caught my ear. It was reported that doing 5 minutes of running a day would increase your life span. What????? The reporter stated that just doing five minutes of running a day was enough exercise.
Of course, I had  to disagree, but before I completely dismissed the "news" report, I looked it up. The original study was reported in the New York Times and after reading the entire article, the main points were:
1. If you were not exercising at all, any exercise is an improvement.
2. The 5 minutes of exercise needs to be very intensive. In other words, you are running all out, as if a wild bear was hot on your trail, for five minutes. Try it. This is really hard to do.
3. Anyone attempting this 5 minutes of exercise should be careful of weekend warrior injuries. Running without the proper form can and will cause damage to knees, ankles, and/or back.
4. Other forms of exercise could be substituted for running, but also must be done at a high intensity.
5. The bottom line, running 5 minutes a day could increase your life span by 3 years.

The bad part about this news report is that people will hear that 5 minutes of exercise is enough, and the truth of the matter is that it is not enough. Five minutes of intense exercise MIGHT increase your life by three years, but it won't improve your cardiovascular fitness, it won't improve your bone density, it won't tone your body.
There is no easy way to improve your health. There is no magic pill or magic surgery that will improve your health. You want to be healthier? Two key elements are 100% essential - diet and exercise. We have heard this all our lives, but people only hear what they want to hear. And people want to hear that 5 minutes of exercise is all they need.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three Months, But Who's Counting?

It has now been a little over 3 months since my diagnosis of Type I Diabetes. While I still can't believe it, I feel like I am getting a handle on managing it. I usually can keep my blood glucose levels within the appropriate range and I feel pretty good most of the time. Really, the eating and insulin are the easy parts of the routine.
For anyone who has a condition or illness that requires constant vigilance, the hardest part is the emotional drain that it takes. I know that this is not true, but somewhere in the back of my mind, there is this thought that this is temporary and that sooner or later I can return to my old life. Always before, there was an end date. If I got sick with a cold or flu or bronchitis, in a couple of days or weeks, I would feel well again and be able to breathe without coughing or eat without vomiting. If I was training for a specific event and was on a strict diet, I knew that after the event I could eat potatoes or lima beans again. Six to eight weeks after an injury, the healing would be well on it's way. But now, there is no end date. This routine of taking insulin, counting carbohydrates is eternal. And if I think about it too much, it is depressing.
One thing I can say that this experience has taught me, it is to be more tolerant of people who are really suffering. I have a dear friend who has MS and another dear friend with cancer and my heart bleeds for them. So what if I have to take a few shots a day. At least I still have use of my arms and legs. At least I still have all my hair. At least I don't have to go to the clinic for treatments every week.
I had been blessed with perfect health for a long time and now, not so much, but it isn't all that bad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The New Normal

If you have been receiving and reading my blog posts, you may remember that the last one was about paying attention to what your body is telling you.
If you know me, you also know that I can be a bit stubborn and while I recommended to y'all to pay attention, I was not paying attention. I took a long time to visit with a physician when clearly there was something amiss. I was not sleeping. I was exhausted and weak. I had headaches. I was starving all the time. Sometimes I would be unbelievably thirsty. I had to pee all the time.
When I finally went to the doctor, I got the shocking news that I have Type 1 diabetes and that my pancreas was not producing any insulin. To further the shock, I learned that for the rest of my life, I would be insulin dependent (with needles). Every time I eat a meal I have to give myself a dose of insulin. Every time I exercise, I have to eat something. Every meal needs to measured out and I need to figure out how many carbohydrate grams I am eating, so that I know how much insulin to take.
It has been about 6 weeks now and I am just starting to get a handle on this. Fortunately, I am a certified nutritionist so I was already head of the curve in knowing what foods are good for me and which ones are off the list. I have also learned how to exercise so that my blood glucose levels don't go crazy. I will be honest, I am not happy with this and it really sucks, but for me, it is the new normal and if I want to live, I have to obey the rules.
I have also learned that while the doctors and dieticians are helpful and knowledgeable, they don't know me and they don't know how my body reacts to food and exercise. I have been running my own little experiment with myself as the test subject and have discovered some patterns that work for me. I have also learned that every person is different and that there is no diet that "fits all".
As I continue down this diabetic road, I am eager to learn more and would love to work with others in the same boat to develop a eating and exercise regimen that fits their personal needs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pay Attention

We all have an innate ability to read our own bodies. You have a craving for an orange - perhaps you are low in Vitamin C. You feel like having a steak - maybe you protein or iron. You get the idea.
We also (if we pay attention) can tell when something is wrong with our bodies. If you are like me, anything that feels funny, such as an ache, I tend to ignore. I figure that whatever it is, it will go away if left unattended. Several years ago, I had a conversation with an oncologist who told me that we all have cancerous cells all the time in our bodies. This is not unusual. What is unusual is when our bodies don't slough off the errant cells.
Sometimes, the symptom may be something simple, like not being able to sleep or occasional heart palpitations. These symptoms may be nothing. These symptoms may be important. Pay attention to what your body is telling. Check in a couple of times a day and do inventory. Are you feeling good? Is your tummy calm and happy? How about your head? Sore muscles that don't go away? Cramping during the night?
If you sense any abnormalities in your own body and they don't go away right away, maybe it is time to see a professional. Learn to pay attention to your body and listen to what it is telling you. This temple that you reside in is the only one you get this go round on Earth. Cherish it and take care of it. Treat it well. Eat right. Exercise. Do something fun. Laugh. Love.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


On the third Monday of April, known as Patriot's Day, Massachusetts will once again host the Boston Marathon. The marathon began in 1897, making it the oldest annual marathon and it is one of six World Marathon Majors. Remarkably enough, it wasn't until 1972 that the first woman legitimately ran the race. By 2011, 43% of the participants were women.
The Boston Marathon is a qualifying race. This means that each runner must have previously completed in a timely manner another standard marathon course. The event attracts a half million spectators each year with an average of 20,000 runners. The Centennial Boston Marathon had record numbers with 38,708 entrants, 36,748 starters and 35,868 finishers.
Last year, in 2013, 26,839 runners were registered to run in the Boston Marathon. Three hours after the winners crossed the finish line, two bombs exploded; the race was halted, three people were killed and over 200 others were injured. Runners who completed at least half the course, but did not finish the race due to the bombings will get automatic entry in the 2014 race.
I wonder how many of those automatically re-entered will run. I assume that security will be greatly enhanced and that some people will feel that they have to run to honor those who were hurt or killed. But still, if I were running in the Boston Marathon, I would be super nervous. It is a sad state of affairs when our traditions and celebrations are clouded with thoughts of dying suddenly and unexpectedly at the hands of terrorists. The is the true tragedy of terrorism - that we live our lives in fear. I know that around the world, this is not an occasional thought or fear, but the first and foremost thought upon awakening and the last thought before going to bed. Thank goodness, for most Americans, we do not need to worry about being shot or having a bomb dropped upon our heads on a daily basis.
So, you runners out there and those particularly in Boston, thank you, good luck and Godspeed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Running Hot or Cold

I felt something pull in my lower back over the weekend while planting flowers.
I picked up the baby and twisted my knee.
I worked all day on the computer and now I can't turn my head.

These are all examples of how we can hurt ourselves doing ordinary things. Since we cannot avoid ordinary, how do we deal with life's aches and pains. Do I ice it? Do I put heat on it? What is a person to do?

Here is a quick rule of thumb. Use heat for chronic pain or an injury that is more than 2 days old. Overworked muscles are sore due to a build up of lactic acid. When an area of the body has been stressed or damaged, lactic acid does not get flushed out of the system and is soothed by heat therapy, which restores blood flow around the sore area. If you have a chronic injury, apply heat before exercise.

Use cold for acute pain or a new or swollen/inflamed injury. When you have an injury, the damaged tissue can become inflamed, which manifests itself in pain, swelling or redness. Ice and cold numbs the injury. The raise in temperature narrows blood vessels and slows down the blood flow that builds up in the injured area. Cold controls inflammation and swelling, but does not treat pain. Oftentimes the pain is a result of swelling, so you will feel better. Since the cold numbs the area, be sure to remove the ice once the area is numb.

I seem to be a bit swollen!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stuck on a Number

When I am seriously trying to drop a few pounds, it is easy to get stuck on a number on the scale. I mean this a couple of ways. First, it is easy to fixate on a number that I want to see on the scale, and easy to forget that the number does not necessarily correlate to health. If body fat is low and energy level is high, and that number doesn't magically appear when I step on the scale, it is time to re-evaluate the validity of that number.
Secondly, if an unwanted number continues to show its ugly face on the scale, then perhaps you need to do something drastic to get the number moving in the right direction. So here is a plan. If you have reached a plateau in losing weight, for one day dramatically reduce your caloric intake to 500 calories for women and 700 calories for men. The next day, get right back onto your diet, keeping your calories at a healthy level. This just might be the kick that you need to get your metabolism jumping once again.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Low Down on Vitamin C

Vitamin C can be found in the following dietary sources:
  • green leafy vegetables
  • broccoli
  • parsley
  • potatoes
  • peas
  • citrus fruits
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • bell peppers
  • strawberries
  • papaya
  • asparagus
  • cauliflower
  • limes
  • lemons
Deficiency symptoms of vitamin C:
  • bruising
  • gum infections
  • lethargy
  • dental cavities
  • tissue swelling
  • dry hair and skin
  • bleeding gums
  • dry eyes
  • hair loss
  • pitting edema
  • anemia
  • delayed wound healing
  • bone fragility
Functions of Vitamin C:
  • Protects cells from free radicals
  • Improves iron absorption
  • Regenerates vitamin E supplies
  • Develops collagen
  • Synthesizes the neurotransmitter norepinephrine
  • Synthesizes carnitine
  • Assists in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sugar Busting

Sweets are not good for us. We all know this. Donuts, cookies, cupcakes and ice cream are filled to the brim with flavor and fat and sugar. If you eat sweets regularly, you most likely have some degree of sugar addiction. Sugar is stimulating and your brain and body will crave it. Most diets have you eliminate ALL processed sugary foods for the first two week "induction" period. This is designed break the habit of eating sugar, which if you have a habit, you need to break. While sugar does give a body a boost, the boost is rapidly followed by a plummet.  It starts a roller coaster ride with your energy, metabolism and health.
I suggest to clients that instead of cutting out sweets cold turkey, that to wean yourself off of them and replace them with a healthier choice is an easier and healthier way to go.  How do you do this? Easy, peasy! Eat nature's candy - fruit. With fruit you still get sugar, only this time it is in it's natural form AND you get fiber, vitamins and nutrients. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, you still have to be careful, but generally speaking if fruit is the only sugar you are ingesting, your choices are great. Put down the cookie and pick up an apple. You still might have cravings for awhile, but soon you will be craving pineapple or watermelon instead of ice cream. Do it for your health.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Protein and Muscle Building

You don't hear it as often as you used to, but occasionally I still hear women say that they don't want to lift weights because they don't want to bulk up. The fallacy here is that, yes you will work your muscles when you are lifting weights, but the getting big muscles part? In order to do that, you have to alter your diet by greatly reducing complex carbohydrates and increasing your proteins. If your goal is a combination of weight loss and muscle gain, the best approach is an alternating system of low calories for two weeks, followed by doubling up on the protein for two weeks. Then repeat for 3-4 cycles. Take an assessment and see if this is working. Have you lost body fat? Have you gained muscle?
Animal proteins are great for us because they contain amino acids, however if you are really ramping up your protein intake, your digestive system might get a little overloaded. Constipation, gas, gout, kidney and liver fatigue are side effects of too much animal protein. An easy and digestive friendly way of adding protein is to add a supplement in the form of a bar or a shake. Watch the fat and calories on the products that you buy. Check in with a professional to make sure that the product you buy is the product you need. If you want more information about protein, contact me through my webpage:  www.fitnessgroupofturtlecreek.com.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Where To?

Most people have a basic goal when they work out. It might be to lose weight. It might be to have a smaller waistline. It might be to have bigger biceps or tighter glutes. It might be something less visual, such as being able to reduce certain medications.
Whatever your work out goals might be, it is important to have a goal because if you don't know where you want to go, how will you ever get there. People don't just show up at the airport and take whatever plane is available at that moment. They already know where they are going when they leave for the airport. Likewise, you should have an end result in mind when you are working out. If your primary goal is to lose weight, you should be doing everything you can to burn calories while at the gym. It would also be helpful to set a goal, such as staying on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes or until you have burned 300 calories. If you are serious about losing weight, know that you should exercise 5-6 times per week. If you are trying to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. A pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories, so if you want to lose a pound a week, that is the deficit you must have. For best results, reduce your caloric intake and increase your caloric output. It is hard to do, but it is not impossible. Find a trainer who can guide you or a friend who will be your support group.
Bathing suit season is quickly approaching and no one wants to scare their fellow beachcombers, so start now. Step one - set a goal; know where  you want to go.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Six Pack Looks Like a Party Ball

If you want a flatter tummy, the first step is to get your body fat down as low as possible. I know, you have heard it before, but most of the time, the major problem with abdominal muscles is that they are hidden. Try pressing your fingers into your waist line. Do you feel your muscles buried there? Your abs should have a firmness to them.
We hear a lot of talk about working the core. Working the core is important. Without strong core muscles, our posture suffers, our digestion suffers, our lower back suffers. What is the core? The core is the entire torso area. This includes all the abdominal muscles, as well as lower back and even into the glutes.
Abdominal muscles are special. Since they work constantly to support us in an upright position, they are used to daily workouts. So unlike most other muscle groups that need rest and recovery, you can do something for your abs every day. I would recommend breaking up the exercises, however, into groups. One day, concentrate on upper abdominals with a series of crunches. Another day, concentrate on lower abs with variations of leg raises. Another day, concentrate on obliques ( the sides of the torso) with twisting exercises. Don't forget the lower back. Work each muscle group to the point of discomfort, but not pain and you will start the toning and shaping process. Good luck. For more information about working out, you can contact me through my web page:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

No More Jiggily Arms

Many people, women in particular, suffer from the dreaded jiggily arm syndrome. No one wants the back of arms to continue to move after the front of the arm has stopped. For some, the jiggily arm syndrome is so bad that they won't wear sleeveless shirts. The sad truth is that some of the problem is too much body fat and the only way to lose body fat is through proper nutrition and exercise. But if you want to get a start on toning up the arms, try these few little exercises:

1.  Dips. Sit on a straight back chair with your hands gripping the sides of the seat. Scoot forward until your rear is off the chair, then lower yourself down towards the floor about 6", then straighten back up. Repeat 15 times for 3 sets. For a power move, straighten your legs in front with your heels on the floor and your toes up.

2. Triceps Extensions. Stand with your knees together and slightly bent. Lean forward with your upper body (like you were lifting off the ski jump in Sochi). Extend your arms straight back and above your hips. Lock your elbows, then rapidly lift your arms about 2-3" toward the ceiling and back. Shoot for 100 repetitions.

3.  Triceps Squeeze.  Start in the same position as with triceps extensions, except this time instead of raising your arms, squeeze them toward each other, as if you were going to clap your hands behind your back. Remember to keep your elbows locked. Shoot for 50 repetitions.

4.  Arm Circles.  Stand straight up with feet hip width apart. Raise your arms until they are level with your shoulders. Lock your elbows. Now make 10 circles about 6" in diameter going forward, then 10 circles going backwards and then lock and hold your arms for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.

5.  Push Ups. Everyone knows this one. Girlie push ups are fine, but watch your form and keep your hips in line with your shoulders (no butts in the air). Go deep, don't cheat yourself on this one, as many people do. Go until failure.

Your arms will look better after just a few Jiggily Arm Sessions.  Good luck and if you need more information on this, contact me through my web page:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Better Thighs

Many times clients request workouts for a specific area. While we all know that many of the problems that we have with our bodies is due to an excess of fat and we all know that you cannot spot reduce fat. So reducing the total amount of body fat is essential to achieving the shape that we desire.

Ok. But we can start to tone and shape while losing body fat. So many of my female clients are not happy with the space from the hips to the knees, so I have come up with:

1. Reverse lunges. 15 each leg. Do three sets.  1 minute rest between sets.
2. Squats w/toe raises. 15 each. Do three sets. 1 minute rest between sets.
3. Pelvic thrusts. 20 each.  1 minute rest between sets.
4. Side Lunges. 15 each leg. Do three sets.  1 minute rest between sets.
5. 1-legged Squats. 15 each leg. Do three sets.  1 minute rest between sets.
For my more advanced clients, I add upper body movements to the exercises. If you are interested in learning more about the mini skirt workout, contact me through my web page: www.fitnessgroupofturtlecreek.com.
Expect soreness!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bosu Ball Workout

Don't know what to do with your Bosu Ball? Here are a few suggestions:
Lunges up on the ball. Step up with one leg, land squarely on the ball, bend both knees. Return to starting position. Repeat 15 times, then switch legs.
-Squats on the ball. Stand on the ball, find your balance, then squat deeply. Repeat 15 times.
-Crunches on the ball. Lie on the ball with your lower back fully supported, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and back arched over the ball. Extend your arms over your head, then crunch up with your elbows pointing to your knees. Work your way up to 100 crunches without rest.
Flip the ball over, dome side down.
-Squats on upside down ball. Stand with feet on the flat surface, find your balance and squat as deeply as you can. (It is a good idea to have a chair close by in case you need to grab hold of something.) Repeat for 15-20 repetitions.
-oblique planks. Start in a push up position with hands to the outside of the Bosu ball. Rock back and forth until fingers touch the ground. Keep abs tight. Do 15 alternating oblique planks.
Or if all else fails, you can use the Bosu ball for a place for the cat to curl up on.

More Reasons to Exercise

Not that we need more reasons to exercise, but here goes:
  1. Exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
  2. Exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
  3. Exercise reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  4. Exercise reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  5. Exercise helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  6. Exercise reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
  7. Exercise reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
  8. Exercise helps control weight.
  9. Exercise helps build and maintain healthy bones.
  10. Exercise helps build and maintain healthy muscles and joints.
  11. Exercise helps older adults become stronger and better able to move without falling.
  12. Exercise helps maintain balance.
  13. Exercise promotes psychological well being.
  14. Exercise helps maintain balance in your life.
Do you need another reason? Exercise makes you healthier. Go to the gym. Take a run or a swim. Climb the stairs. Then do it again. Then do it again.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Beat Goes On

An average man has a heart rate of 70 beats per minute. An average woman has a heart rate of 75 beats per minute. This means that in this month of 28 days, your heart will beat somewhere 2,822,400 and 3,024,000 beats. Your heart is working hard for you. Isn't it time to return the favor? Get your heart in shape by eating the right foods and exercising.
What type of workout is best for you?
A workout that maintains an elevated and steady level of intensity is best for improving cholesterol levels.
An interval workout, which alternates a period of 2 minutes of intense exercise with 1 minute of killer intensity is best for weight loss.
A pyramid workout, which builds in intensity over 10-15 minutes, then backs off for 10-15 minutes and repeats is best for building the strength of your heart and lungs.
All three styles are effective in improving your health and all three are effective in weight management.
Get out there and exercise. Do it for your heart.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Aerobic Exercise

All exercise is good for you and your heart, but exercise that targets heart health is called cardiovascular or aerobic (meaning  - with oxygen) exercise. Aerobic exercise puts a demand for more oxygen on your body. For heart health, aerobic exercise should be sustained for a minimum of 20 minutes. The longer you continue, the better and faster the results. (Look at the contestants on "The Biggest Loser". They exercise for 6-8 hours a day to get the results. Not that I recommend that - the wear and tear on the body is tremendous and that kind of rapid weight loss is really hard to maintain.) The ideal amount of time for aerobic exercise is 40-50 minutes per session. This gives you time to warm up, sustain your elevated heart rate for 20-25 minutes and then cool down. For the greatest health benefits, experts recommend that you do 40-50 minutes of aerobic exercise 3+ times per week. If you are trying to lose weight, you should do aerobic exercise 6 times a week and supplement it with 2-3 weight training sessions.
Here is another little tidbit - aerobic exercise takes place when your heart rate is at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. Don't know that, here is the formula:
                   220 - (your age) = maximum heart rate
                   60-80 % of that number is your goal for optimum aerobic benefit

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good Morning Breakfast

My mother always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We children were headed off to school and we needed to be alert and awake so we could learn, so we could pass our classes, so we could get into a college and so we could get a good job. I am no longer heading off to school, but I am heading out to work and I still need to be alert and awake, so I still need breakfast.
Untold studies have been done about the role that a nutritious breakfast plays in our lives. Eating early in the morning starts our metabolism and fuels our bodies. Ideally, you should wake up a little bit hungry. If you are not, reflect for a moment on what and when you ate the night before. Play with this a bit. If you are not hungry in the morning, cut back on your evening feedings. If you are starving in the morning, maybe you should eat a little more in the evening.
So what is the best breakfast? Well, everyone has different tastes, but you should have something with protein, simple carbohydrates and fat. Examples of this:
Greek Yogurt with blueberries and almonds
2 Eggs with a banana
Protein smoothie
Learn to read labels and keep complex carbohydrates under 45 grams. Keep fat under 6 grams. Keep sugar under 4 grams. Eating the right foods at the right time will help you sleep better, so you wake up feeling refreshed and a little bit hungry.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

I know a few people (maybe quite a few people) who cannot pass a mirror without looking at themselves. I know a few people (maybe quite a few people) who can go days without looking in a mirror. I fall somewhere in between. Most days I look at myself while combing hair or brushing my teeth and most days I take a look at what I am wearing before I leave the house. I am one of those people who doesn't see what I really look like. I see a fatter person than I am. I know this sounds kind of egotistical, and I don't mean it that way. I just think I am fat. I know I am not fat. The scale and the size on my clothes tell me I am not fat, but I think I am fat. My husband bought an adorable outfit from LuluLemon for Valentine's Day. I took one look at the shorts and said, "I will never get my butt into these." He insisted I try them on. They fit. It is really pretty odd, because the number on the scale is a number that I can live with. The clothes are small and still I think I am fat. Go figure.
Anyway, next time you are in front of a mirror, stand with your feet together and your back straight. Can you see through your legs in four places? (1. at the top of your thighs  2. between your mid thigh and knees  3. between your knees and your calves  4. between your calves and ankles) When I was a teenager this was the goal. Nowadays, there is the thigh gap. A space between your thighs when standing. Unfortunately, this is a physical impossibility for most people and they are dieting and exercising to extremes to achieve the thigh gap.
Girls, leave it alone. You want to work on something, attack the muffin top.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What's On Your Plate?

Last Friday, a dear friend of mine invited myself and another girl out for a "Galentine's" lunch. The other girl was easily half my age and when I told her that I was a personal trainer and a nutritionist, she immediately began asking me questions about her weight issues. She is in her late 20s, works full time, newly married (3 months to an ex-Marine) and has put on a few pounds during the winter months. She plays kickball and softball on community leagues and the seasons are just around the corner. She and her husband alternate cooking and she feels that she is eating pretty good, but she is gaining weight. What is a poor girl to do?
Well, for starters, let us look down at our plates. We were at Traverna's Ristorante, a fabulous Italian restaurant that has recently moved to Knox Street in Dallas. I ordered a salad, no cheese and no added meat. The salad was great - greens, avocado, hearts of palm, bacon, onions and an herbed vinaigrette dressing. I had a water to drink. The other girl ordered Eggplant Parmigianino with a side of angel hair pasta and a cola to drink. She also had cheesecake for dessert, which she only ate half and took the rest home. While I don't obsess over every calorie, I am mindful of what I eat, especially when I eat out. There are all kinds of hidden calories in restaurant foods - butters and sugars and salts to enhance flavor. She thought eggplant was a healthy alternative, but in this case, maybe not so much. She could have eliminated a bunch of empty calories by drinking water and skipping dessert.
Having said all this, I also think that from time to time you have to throw caution to the wind and just eat whatever you want. If you don't, then staying on a strict diet becomes too hard and people will just quit. So, the bottom line - watch what you eat. Cut out unimportant calories, like cola. But don't  deny yourself everything all the time. You gotta live!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day, filled with love. Did your lover write it across the sky? Scene from my front porch on Friday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Heart Day

Today is Valentine's Day and February is Heart Health Awareness Month. Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in the U.S. One  third of those who die from heart disease are under the age of 76. They might just be the lucky ones. Those who survive may suffer many hardships, including physical disability, job loss, lack of independence, and other health risks.
You know what, many of the factors that lead to heart disease are lifestyle choices, and therefore manageable. Factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol consumption and stress management are all things that we can control with proper diet and exercise. Other risk factors, like age, gender, race and family obviously we can't do anything about.
Keeping your weight in a healthy range is the single most important thing you can do for your heart. If you want to give a really special Valentine's present to your loved ones this year, make a commitment to lose weight and get healthier. Prove to them that you love them by staying alive.
Love your heart!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are you losing your mind?

I walk into a room and can't remember why I went in there. I forget names of people. If I have more than 2 items to get at the store, I have to write a list. Are you like me?
Did you know that aerobic exercise helps to rejuvenate the aging brain? Physical exercise plays a role in slowing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's. In a small study conducted in Seattle, the participants with an average age of 70 were divided into 2 groups. One group participated in aerobic exercise 45-60 minutes a day, four days a week and the second group did only stretching exercises. After 6 months, the group doing the aerobic exercise not only stalled memory loss, but improved it.
If you think of our bodies as the magnificent machines that they are, it only makes sense to keep up the maintenance required to run at optimal performance. You change the oil in your car, don't you? You replace the filters in the A/C, right? Do the maintenance on yourself as well. How much is the right amount? You should strive to exercise one minute for every year of your life daily. (50 years old = 50 minutes of exercise)
What was I going to do next? Oh yeah, go to the gym.
                                                                          (If I were coral, I would be brain coral cuz I work out!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

English Proverb

Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork.

Stress Out, Exercise In

People are stressed out these days. Times are hard. Unemployment is up, the stock market looks like an EKG and who knows what is going to happen with the health care system. In addition, the kids need more for school, the dog is sick, you haven't had a vacation in 2 years and there are no raises in sight. Life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations and demands.
Stress is a normal reaction to events that leave you feeling threatened or upset. When you feel this way, the body's defenses kick into high gear. This stress response when you are threatened is a good thing - it allows you extra strength to defend yourself or provides the tools to rise to a dire situation. However, if life is just stressing you out, it can be pretty bad. Your memory falters, you can't concentrate, you exercise poor judgment, you become irritable, cortisol levels sky rocket, you can't sleep and you want to eat everything in the kitchen. If you continue to stress out, your body really can take a beating - chest pains, diarrhea, dizziness, weakened immune system and loss of sex drive.
Learning to recognize your own personal stress triggers is the first step in controlling stress in your life. While we might not be able to control what is stressing us out, we can take some positive steps in reacting to stress.
Guess what the #1 way to reduce stress is. You got it - EXERCISE. Exercise remodels the brain, making it (your control center) more stress-resistant. When you exercise, your brain releases a neurotransmitter, serotonin; often called the happy brain chemical. Scientists now know that increased serotonin is not necessarily the best stress reliever. Exercise also causes your brain to release another neurotransmitter, dopamine, and this is the good stuff. Dopamine stimulates relaxation and is very helpful with stress management.
But wait, folks, that's not all. Exercising increases the body's release of antioxidants. Anxiety has been linked to oxidative stress, which can lead to cell death, including cells in the brain. Exercise dampens the effects of oxidative stress resulting in less disruption to brain function, lower heart rates and reduced anxiety.
Exercise may not cure everything, but it sure helps out a lot!