Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Cookbook is Great!

It sounds like this winter weather has many of you ready to warm up your kitchens! I have had several requests to recommend a healthy cookbook that has really good recipes, great photos and that's easy to use (I think I've got all the requirements down!)

Right now, I'm having so much fun making all sorts of new things out of So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Weekby Ellie Krieger. We all need new recipes from time to time to bring fun and variety into meals. We certainly don't want to get into the rut of eating the same food over and over again until we get bored. My husband gave me a copy of this cookbook for Christmas, and we've now tried 14 recipes, every one of them wonderful. (Don't worry, Anne, the photos are great!) I think my favorite meal is the chipotle orange glazed pork chops with maple squash puree, and spinach-green apple salad. The roasted tomato and black bean soup is so good that I've made it twice...and then the salmon with chickpea ragu and the ratatouille. Seriously, I had never had ratatouille before--wow! The healthy version of peanut butter crispy rice treats are made with crispy brown rice, honey, and dried cherries...totally yum!

I think this cookbook will be just what you're looking for. My only complaint is that the nutritional information is calculated for the entire meal the book suggests such as the pork, squash, and the spinach salad. I think it would be much better to have nutritional data for each dish separately. Otherwise, it's gets 5 stars.

I hope this helps! Tomorrow, I think I'll make the Asian noodle bowl...

Today, make sure you have at least 5 servings of fruits and/or veggies.

Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can't, You're RIght!
--Henry Ford

Please share with us!:
If anyone else has this cookbook, what are your favorite recipes?
We'd love to know what your favorite healthy cookbooks are, too!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Few Thoughts from the Bookstore

When I walked into a big bookstore today, I was greeted by a round table just to the left of the main doors, with a sign dangling from above declaring all books below belonged in the DIET and HEALTH genre. Too good to pass up, right? I was looking to see if the bookstore carried the nice little paperback booklet of food exchanges put out by the American Dietetics Association. No such luck.

At any rate, I proceeded to browse through the "healthy" books. It struck me as odd that I didn't notice any of them written by dietitians, so I started to dig. Then I started to count. There were 73 different books displayed on that table. One was misplaced...something about organizing your home. Out of the remaining 72, only 2 were written by R.D.'s (registered dietitians,) and one of those was billed as being "written with" a R.D. I'm never sure if that means that the "with" person is actually a co-author, or its just put in there to make the book title sound more impressive, or to make that "with" person feel good? One of the R.D. authored books was at floor level, tipped back so I couldn't see it until I squatted down. (Exercise!) Funny, I bought that one to preview. I'll let you know what I think.

Why did this seem a little off to me? Dietitians are the ones educated in the field of nutrition and should really know what the heck is the real deal in the world of dieting. One would think they would be the "go-to" authors here. But, Suzanne Sommers is still there on the book table in hardcover. How old is she now? Remind me why we would use her advice?

Lots of M.D.'s have diet books out there,too, and they are highly educated, no question about that. Some of their diets look good, and some look a little iffy. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of faith in doctors, and I happen to actually love a couple of M.D.'s (my son and daughter-in-law!) Doctor's study medicine so intensely that most don't have time to go deeply into the field of nutrition. I was a bit concerned when my son started medical school, as I wanted to be sure he got to study plenty of nutrition (of course!) When I was in college (there really was electricity!) doctors had very little nutrition in their curriculum. One thing my son said during med school has stuck with me: they are taught to defer to the dietitians. Go to the experts. I like it.

When you are looking for a book on dieting or nutrition, look for one written or co-authored by a dietitian, or reviewed and recommended by an R.D. When you are looking for a book on anything medical, I recommend looking for a book written by an M.D. or D.O. in that area of expertise.

Back to Suzanne Sommers, does anyone remember why she's selling diet books? And what's up with special diets for blood types? Eat like this if I am type O? As I paged through all those books, I knew the answer: sales. Eating for blood types is so off the wall, it intrigues people, so they buy the book. Suzanne sells (after how many surgeries....just kidding, I don't actually know if she's had any.) People need to make money, to make a living, and we can't blame them for that...but...

Sometimes I wonder, in all these books and in all these diet plans, is the focus still on helping the reader become healthier, or has the reader fallen victim to the money empire?

Just wondering...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This Week's Healthy Focus

A week ago on Tuesday, I had you do a Motivational Checkup in the pursuit of your healthy goals. Now, let's take a look at this past week--how did it go? One of the things that I've learned over the years working with so many people, is that when it comes to changing lifestyle habits, it takes a methodical, persistent approach. Consistency not perfection--that's what works for long term changes.

Let me walk you through a great process to use as you strive to change your habits to help you become healthier, stronger, leaner, more svelte and maybe even more buff!

  1. Glance back at last week. What POSITIVE actions did you take that are helping you get closer to your healthy goals? Acknowledge them, and be proud of yourself! (A few "yea, rahs!" here, please. ) Each baby step you take is getting you closer to where you want to be.
  2. What needs improvement? What didn't go so well? Pick out one that you're going to work on this week-- only one. Trying to improve too many at a time sets you up for not being able to change any. Every week when I think about this, I visualize a tower made out of wooden blocks. Each block represents one habit--walking, vegetables, milk, sleep, water....etc. I pick the block that is most out of alignment and that's the one I am going to work on for the week's healthy focus, trying to pat that block back into place.
  3. Use this as your one mini goal: This Week's Health Focus. One step, one behavior change at a time. Write this mini goal on a sticky note and put it where you'll see it often.

This Week's Report for Me:
  1. I successfully pushed up my aerobic workout. I walked the mall twice this week for 35 and 45 minutes, at a higher intensity, and I made the dog hoof it faster on 3 days when the roads were clearer ( he didn't get as many stop and sniff spots!) The other 2 days were our regular paced dog walks. I can tell my aerobic conditioning level is improving quickly...yes!
  2. I need to work on getting more stretching in. The tension in my neck is up there, and I have been skipping some of those flexibility sessions. Oops.
  3. My Week's Health Focus: 6 days of a 10 minute stretching routine. I can do it!
And what about you?? What's your Health Focus for the week?

Remember: You climb the mountain one step at a time....
Fire Up!! You Can Do It!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Soy: The Super Food?

Soy is a super food, right? It's supposed to lower cholesterol, take away my hot flashes, create stronger bones, increase prostate function, and produce great protection against cancer. And, I hear there's a lot of soy protein powder pushing going on at the gym. Let's take a look.

Whole soy foods include tofu, edamame, miso, soy milk, soy nuts, soy cheese, and tempeh. The truth is...

Soy is a very healthy food in its unprocessed state:
  • Complete protein. Even as a veggie, soy provides all the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) your body needs, just like fish, chicken, eggs, pork, and beef.
  • Low in total fat, saturated fat (the evil kind), and cholesterol.
  • High in fiber.
  • Lactose-free. Soy milk usually has added vitamin D and calcium, so it's a wonderful choice for those of you who are lactose intolerant.
  • Naturally low in B vitamins and calcium (oops...not so good.)
The Soy Facts:
  • Isoflavones are found in soy, and they are a big part of the "soy magic." They are a class of phytoestrogen, which can act like estrogen in our body--think "fake" estrogen:) The soy hype suggests that soy helps with menopausal hot flashes. (You can buy some really expensive soy bars especially targeted for this.) Studies have shown inconclusive results, which means, so far they really don't know if it helps or not. If it helps your hot flashes, great, if not, and they still bother you, chat with your doc.
  • Breast cancer survivors are almost always advised by their doc to avoid soy and soy containing foods. You don't need any more estrogen encouraging breast cell growth. Always check with your doc to be sure.
  • Lowers cholesterol and LDL? As the studies come in, some of them show a slight decrease in risk of cardiovascular disease, but the majority of newer results show no overall benefit to soy as its tested.
  • Thyroid patients. Soy definitely interferes with the absorption of your thyroid replacement medication, so you should never take those meds with a soy protein shake in the morning. Most experts recommend not consuming soy within 1-3 or some say 12 hours of taking your meds. Some health professionals even recommend avoiding soy altogether for thyroid patients. Every patient is unique: how your thyroid is functioning or not, how much soy you want to eat, etc. comes into play, so you need to be carefully managed by your doc here.

One key point: There is a difference in the soy sources we are consuming. When we eat whole soy, such as tofu, soy nuts, or soy milk, we are getting all the good things that soy has to offer, including the fiber and the natural nutrients and isoflavones. Many of the soy products people are reaching for today are processed soy products.

Processed soy is listed as concentrated soy, soy protein products and soy isolates. Huh? This is the typical processing: you take the healthy whole grain-- the soybean--break it apart, often chucking out the wonderful fiber, some nutrients and sometimes even the isoflavones. What's left, the protein powder stuff, is added to pills, bars, shakes, supplements, breads, cereals, and more. The manufacturer can proclaim the health benefits of soy, but it is missing some really great stuff. It's like saying white bread is just as good for you as whole wheat...

And this is one of the confusing elements in the studies: the type of soy being consumed varies. Processes soy isolates vs. whole soy in tofu. Would there be more of a heart health benefit by eating whole soy foods? As studies proceed, we'll find out more.

Soy is a wonderfully healthy, complete and relatively inexpensive protein. Cultures that consume lots of soy tend to have lower incidences of heart disease, it's true. But, the studies so far have not shown us that soy will prevent heart disease, cancer, or reduce menopausal symptoms. There's no magic in soy, but it's a good whole food anyway.

If you enjoy it, Just tofu it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Take It Slow-Cook Tonight: Pot Roast

I had an urgent request from one of you asking for an easy, healthy recipe to satisfy a meat and potatoes loving family that was tired of chicken all the time. I know it can be pretty tough when one person in the family is trying to make all these healthy changes, and others are yelling for more meat. Let's try to make something easy to start with. This one requires no real skills in the kitchen! Get your slow cooker out, and let's go. Ready?

Healthy & Easy Slow-Cook Pot Roast
  1. Buy the meat. Choose either beef or pork, but always buy the leanest cut possible for slow cooking. Look for these words in their names: LOIN and ROUND are your go-to cuts. Always leave chuck in the store (watch Chuck on TV, though-- - great show!) Try pork loin or beef sirloin tip, round rump, bottom or top round roast.
  2. Unwrap meat and trim off all fat you see. Use an extra sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors.
  3. Optional step: Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Turn stove on medium high. Place meat in pan. When browned on one side, flip over onto other side to brown that side. (Note: if you want to skip this step, go ahead! Browning gives a richer taste, but if you don't want to mess with this....go right to step 4.)
  4. Place meat into slow cooker.
  5. Add a 1 # bag baby carrots (more or less!)
  6. Scrub and cut into half 6 potatoes (again, more or less as desired.) Place into pot.
  7. Dump 1 cup salsa on top (choose your heat level.)
  8. Cover & cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high 5-6 hours. YUM!!!!
That's it! This is a "go-to" winter meal for me when things are a little rushed and we are ready for a hearty meal that day. Trust me, this is great--- my husband grew up on an Iowa farm, loves his beef and he really likes the flavors in this dish.

Slow cookers can be a wonderful tool for good, healthy eating. Think about it. If you are starving when you come home from a busy day, you'll know what dinner is going to be, so you don't have to start nibbling chips as you start prepping the meal or end up calling for pizza. And, when you walk in the door, a hot, healthy dinner is magically ready!

And, if there are leftovers for the next night:

Yummy Next Day Beef Stew
  • Put 2 cups cold water in a big saucepan on stove.
  • Add 2 beef bouillion cubes (try low sodium,) 3 Tbsp. flour, and fresh ground pepper (1/8 - 1/4 tsp.)
  • Whisk together until there are no lumps. The cubes will still be there, no worry!
  • Turn heat on med. high, and cook until thick (2 minutes.)
  • Take leftover carrots, beef and potatoes and cut them into bite size cubes.
  • Add to stew.
  • Add 2 cups frozen peas and carrots.
  • Cook another 4-5 minutes, or until peas are done.

Yum! This was dinner good!!

I hope this helps those of you that need a little beef or pork for a change of pace! Of course, this crock pot recipe is also wonderful with a thawed turkey breast, even without the veggies. Shred it up, and you're ready for all sorts of turkey fun from tacos, quesadillas, salads, you name it!

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dieting: All or Nothing?

What do you think of when you hear the word, "DIET?" It's a four letter word, so that should immediately give us pause. And it does contain the word "die" in it. Most of us have many negative feelings when it comes to dieting: like being hungry and being deprived of the things we really want to eat. Dieting for most people is something we go on only when necessary (for example, when we have to lose weight.) But, in our minds, it is a temporary thing--we go on it, but we'll be off it eventually. This feeds the on again/off again dieting mentality. Most of us don't go onto a diet thinking of making long term changes.

What's wrong with this picture? A reader was noticing many people around her are on a diet now---hey, those New Year's resolutions are still going strong. That should be a good thing, since she's working on losing weight, too. But, they are constantly saying things like, "I was so good, I ate this good food," or "I can't have chocolate. It's so bad." The constant evaluations on their food are driving her nuts!

First of all, I am really proud of this reader for recognizing that when people categorize foods as good and bad by using an all or nothing approach, they are in a potential danger zone. We need to be striving to be in a healthy relationship with food, which includes eventually making peace with it: food is food.

Good vs. bad. If I say all chocolate is bad (I used to do that---bad, chocolate, bad!) because I think it's bad for me to eat if I am trying to lose weight, what happens? It's almost as if I put chocolate up on a pedestal and give it super power. I start obsessing about the chocolate because I can't have it (think rebellious teen here)---so, that's all I can think of. Eventually, the chocolate overpowers me, and I slowly feel the power of control slide from my body into the chocolate. I imagined myself sliding down the chocolate slide into the deep, dark abyss of the peanut M&M pit. Then, I may as well eat, because the dark, evil, BAD side had taken over. I was bad then because I ate a bad food. I was a failure, so I kept on eating the bad foods, feeding the failure until I got so disgusted and desperate enough that I was ready to tackle the next diet that came along. It took me forever to find a way out of that chocolate pit--physically and figuratively.

Can you relate to me? The deprivation and dieting approach is the wrong way to lose weight and keep it off.

The RIGHT way to lose body fat is to start focusing on healthy eating, exercise, attitude, and behaviors changes as an entire lifestyle approach---new healthy habits, not as a temporary quick dieting fix. Yes, this will take more time and we'll be doing it for the rest of our lives, but it is OK!! We are worth the time and effort it takes to learn along the way how to keep it off forever.

How do you start learning to put foods that you truly love into your healthy eating plan that you thought were "bad?"
  1. Choose one food you love that has been on your "bad" list. (Bad list is history!)
  2. Tell yourself that this food is just a food that you need to learn to have occasionally and in moderation; it is not bad. You are going to plan to have it soon, but when you are ready.
  3. Pick a time and place when you will enjoy your special treat. You may even want to put it in your day planner!
  4. Sit down.
  5. Have a small portion of your food.
  6. Chew and taste the wonderful flavors in every bite. ENJOY it!
  7. Go out for your treat if you feel like you need extra help with portion control: find one scoop of ice cream, one slice of pie, or one cookie at the mall. You may want to have a friend or spouse go along with you for extra control.
  8. No guilt. There is no bad food to feel guilt over!
  9. Self-forgiveness. If things don't go quite right, let it go. It's what happens next that really matters most.
There needs to be a campaign to end the dieting mentality. We need to start treating food with respect and be sure to never allow it to have power over us.

Moderation not deprivation.
You are truly wonderful---treat yourself that way!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Motivational Checkup

It's time for your motivational checkup!
  • Write down the health and nutrition goal you are working on right now and post it somewhere you'll see it often. A sticky note on the bathroom or bedroom mirror, the refrigerator, or in your day planner would be great. Something like: I want to lower my blood pressure, increase my cardiovascular health, lower my cholesterol level, or maybe to lose weight, or whatever you are aiming for.
  • Evaluate your progress so far. How have you been doing with the steps you've been taking toward reaching that goal?
  • Identify what needs a little more work.
  • Create a mini goal to work on just for this week.
  • Set up a game plan with a step by step plan on how to achieve this mini goal.
  • Get to it!
Let's do my motivational checkup...
  • My goal right now has been to increase my fitness level. I was sick for quite awhile and lost a bit of my cardiovascular endurance.
  • I am doing well slowly increasing my walking program, and am back to 7 days each week, but not always at a moderate pace.
  • I need to work on pushing a little harder for speed, which is hard with the snowy and ice packed roads while walking the dog. Note to self: don't forget to take even a short walk on our sub-division streets without my Yak Trax on. I took one trip around our circle 2 days ago without my "springs" on, and about slipped and fell at least 6 times. Not fun.
  • This week, I am going to walk without the dog 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes and push the intensity level up to a higher level (the dog takes a few sniffing side trips along the way!) If the roads are bad, I'm going to head to the mall and join all those dedicated walkers, put on my pedometer, and go for it.
Now, it's time for YOUR checkup. Be ready to report in! Fire up, you can do this!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

How Much Water Do I Really Need To Drink?

Ah, the water question. Many people have asked me how much water you are really supposed to drink. There are so many different recommendations out there, that it can get very confusing. Some have you doing math with your weight: your weight in pounds and divide by 2 and that's how many ounces you need to drink. Others use the 8 X 8 rule: 8- 8 ounce glasses of water each day. I really love the exactness of this one: women drink 91 ounces and men 125 ounces of water each day. Does it have to be this complicated? No!!

Why water? Your body is mostly water--between 50 and 75%. You need to drink that water every day to keep body temps regulated, skin healthy, to help carry nutrients to cells, allow kidneys flush out the toxins from your system, and other fun things like that. At the very least, we need to replace what our bodies use up every day doing all these things, which is at least 8-10 cups of water. Of course, when we exercise or get sick, we need even more of that nice fluid.

If you don't drink enough water, nasty things can happen like dehydration. This can cause muscle cramps and weakness, headaches, loss of coordination, fatigue, flushed skin, light-headedness, dry cough, and dark colored urine. Dehydration puts you at higher risk for heat exhaustion and stroke. Not so cool.

Your body absorbs water from both the fluids you drink and from the food you eat. Soups, milk, juice, and any beverages you drink---all are fluids and we get water for our body from them. Surprisingly, many foods are very high in water, too. Lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, and grapefruit are all over 90% water.

Caffeinated beverages used to be discounted as being able to hydrate. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means the water ends up getting pushed out of the body faster than it can be absorbed. Newer studies have shown this is not as significant as was once thought, particularly in those of us regular caffeine consumers. Bottom line? We can even get water from coffee and tea.

To Keep The Water Coming:
  • Go for real water. Even though any beverage can offer your body hydration, water is the best choice most often for health and nutrition. Why? It has no calories, inexpensive, readily available, and is just what your body is craving. If there are calories in what you are drinking, they add up fast! Beware of those beverages from juices, "fake" fruit drinks (many have little to no fruit in them,) and what I call "foo-foo" coffee drinks (a.k.a. milkshakes.) Zillions of calories can add up in beverages without you even feeling like you've eaten. Surprise: weight gain. Body beware. If you love those special coffee drinks, practice saying, "skinny, skinny, no-whip," which is coffee-speak for skim milk, sugar-free syrup and no whipped cream. That way, some great nutrition and liquid comes your way without the "foo-foo" calories!
  • Drink enough so that you are not thirsty. If you feel thirsty, dehydration has already begun. Studies have shown that thirst signals start failing as people age, so they aren't as reliable an indicator. (I just love it when the doc says, "Well, as you get older...")
  • Drink enough water to keep your urine clear, or pale straw colored. This is the big key!!! I know, not a great picture, but its actually a great way to monitor hydration. When you, "see yellow pee, up the water for thee." Darker yellow or even darker still, really pump the fluids.
  • Carry a water bottle or a non-caloric beverage with you. Encourage yourself to engage in a hydrating habit. If you are trying to lose weight, keep in mind that some people tend to mix up hunger and thirst signals, so always try to drink water before you eat.
  • Drink a glass of water every morning, even before your coffee, even if it's just a little one.
  • Have a glass of water with every meal. Hey, there's 3 glasses right there!
  • Snacks need water or a cup of tea, too.
If you're exercising for less than an hour, stay with plain water, and a cup of water for every 20 minutes is a standard rule of thumb. Drink more in hot weather or if you are really working out hard. If you are exercising at high intensity for over an hour, you may do well reaching for a sports drink with electrolyte replacement, such as Gatorade, to help your body rehydrate better.

And me? How do I stay hydrated? I confess, I am a coffee lover. But, before I hit the coffee in the morning, I have a small glass of water. Several cups of coffee follow throughout the morning. By late morning, I am craving a huge glass of ice water, so I keep that flowing throughout the rest of the day, filling it up as needed. I usually have a glass of light or diet cranberry juice at some point---I'm totally into that right now, and I love a nice cup of tea in the afternoon and an herbal cup in the evening. I'm always within reach of a cup or glass of something clear and non-caloric. Sipping throughout the day works great for me.
To your health!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Day at a Time

This poem speaks to all of us, no matter what our goals are,
no matter where we are heading...

There are two days in every week,
Two days about which we should not worry---
two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday, with its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunder, and its aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday.
We cannot undo a single act we performed.
We cannot erase a single word we said.
Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow.
Tomorrow is beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow's sun will rise, whether in splendor or behind
a mask of clouds. But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow.

This leaves only one day---Today.
Anyone can fight the battles of just one day.
It is when you and I add the burdens of those two
awful eternities--yesterday and tomorrow--that we break down.

Let us therefore live one day at a time.

--- Author Unknown

As we work toward changing our old habits into healthy ones, sometimes it gets a little rough and those old habits keep creeping back. That's when we need to remember to take it one day at a time, and sometimes even one hour or one minute at a time. Small changes forward get us where we are trying to day at a time!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Trainer Who Gives Nutrition Advice

A reader is wondering about the nutrition advice she's getting from all the trainers at her gym. They recommend not consuming any milk or dairy, because in nature, milk is meant for babies, not after you are weaned. The trainers also say if you do drink milk, stay with raw milk. She wanted my opinion because she really loves her Dannon yogurt!

We once belonged to a really nice gym. I enjoyed lifting weights twice a week and would quietly do my own circuit on the machines using slow, steady lifts with the best form I could put together. The trainers who roamed around checking on people pretty much left me alone. Others were busy with their one-on-one clients giving them great encouragement and advice on their fitness program. I never heard any one of them give incorrect info on exercise--it was all good stuff, as one would expect from a certified trainer.

But, I would often hear these trainers giving nutrition advice. I heard one once tell an older woman never to eat any fat to lose weight (WRONG!) I heard another one advising a man that he had to cut out all red meat and pork and start taking the protein supplements if he was going to get stronger and healthier (NOPE!) I would hear nutritional pronouncements coming out of some of these trainers mouths like exhaled breath. My problem? It was too often misinformation or something totally wrong. If your trainer starts touting nutrition, be on red alert. You could ask him where he got his degree in nutrition (I always wanted to.)

So what's the deal with milk? It's true that the majority of the people in the world aren't milk drinkers. Most don't swim for exercise, either. Does that mean you shouldn't drink milk or swim? Of course not. Many cultures simply don't have the availability of dairy foods. If cheese and milk haven't been in the their diets traditionally, each culture tends to stick with the foods they've always had (well, until McDonald's moves in!) Giving blanket advice to people to do something just because most people in the world do it that way, without regard to what is better for overall health for that individual is totally off.

The facts:
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese are nutritional powerhouses. They are top on the list of food sources of calcium, and are great sources of complete protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and zinc. Dairy products are incredibly nutrient dense--a real bargain (see earlier post.) To avoid these, is to lose out on an incredible source of greatness.
  • Milk and milk products offer easily absorbable sources of calcium. You can find other food sources of calcium such as spinach, almonds and collard greens. However, most studies have shown that these vegetables have some things (e.g. fiber, oxylates) in them that can mess up the absorption a bit, making less of the calcium available for use in your body. Milk products have don't have this problem. But keep eating your spinach---it's also a nutrient dense super food!
  • Lactose intolerance may be a problem, as it is for many people around the globe. This happens when your body lacks the enough lactase which is an enzyme that digests the sugar found in dairy, lactose. Find the lactose-free foods: these have the enzyme added to it so the lactose is all broken down and shouldn't cause any more gas, bloating, etc. Look for lactose-free milk, ice cream, and cheese. Lactaid and Dairy Ez are two good ones. Another alternative is to take the enzyme in supplement form while you eat the pizza with cheese. These products come in tablet form or chewables, such as Lactaid Ultra. Two of my kids are lactose intolerant and have used these successfully for years.
Raw Milk? Good grief! Raw milk is milk that has not gone through the pasteurization process, where it is heated to high enough temperatures to kill off potentially dangerous bacteria. Pasteurization has pretty much eliminated the spread of many diseases such as tuberculosis and diphtheria, Q fever (that's so far eliminated, most people haven't even heard of it--including me!) It kills E coli, listeria, salmonella, staph...all evil bacteria that people used to ingest via milk and many ended up very, very sick. That was before pasteurization came around. Now, we have many, many fewer incidences of all these diseases. And fewer deaths because of them, too. A truly wonderful thing.

Does this high heat process damage the nutrients in the milk? Absolutely not! The protein, calcium, riboflavin, zinc, and all the other great stuff remain...just the evil stuff gets zapped. No worries here at all.

Raw milk is extremely dangerous to give to babies, young children, elderly people, or anyone with immune challenged systems. Pasteurization is an awesome thing!

Bottom line: Get your exercise advice from those trainers at the gym...that's what they are certified to do.

Get your nutrition advice from folks with R.D.'s or actual B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.'s in nutrition.

And then, you'll be rocking your way toward that healthy, svelte, buff body you are aiming for!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For A Fit Body...Do Three!

January's annual sales are pretty predicable. The big white sales (which sell more colored sheets and towels than white these days,) organizational equipment (is there hope for me?) diet foods, and the infamous exercise equipment. A walk through Sam's, Target, or pretty much any store is telling us the same story: it's time to get your house and body together!

On this note, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows there are 3 types of exercise that need to be done in order for you to achieve a FIT BODY: aerobic conditioning, strength training, and flexibility or stretching. We need to do all three: one type of exercise cannot replace another.

Aerobic exercise is when you move large muscle groups through motion repetitively: walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, skating, etc. These exercises get your heart pumping faster, oxygen flowing, and your cardiovascular system gets really hopping along. When you do aerobic exercise, your metabolic rate increases--the rate at which you burn calories. After you stop, there is an after-burn or what I like to call the "Energizer Bunny" effect that continues to burn calories, it keeps going, and going... This is really great if you are trying to manage your weight. We'll talk about the wonders of aerobic exercise in a later blog...

Strength training is when you challenge muscles to become stronger usually by lifting some form of weight using resistance. For example, lifting your own body weight against gravity: ab crunches, push ups, leg lifts, arm circles, arm curls. Or, lifting weights: dumbbells, soup cans, barbells, kettle bells, and using weight machines. Other strength training methods include isometric contractions or doing yoga. There is also an after-burn metabolic rate effect with strength training. All good stuff.

Flexibility is increased by doing stretching exercises. Stretching can be done on the floor, standing, sitting in a chair, or even while doing yoga poses. You can use just your own body, or add a towel, ball or a machine. Stretching to increase flexibility is critical for overall fitness because it reduces the risk of injury, improves mobility, and improves life function for people of all ages.

Take a look at your fitness plan this week. Make sure all 3 types of exercise are included:

Aerobic exercise should be done at least 3 - 5 times a week.
-at least 3 times a week at a high intensity
-at least 5 times a week at moderate intensity

These can be broken up into smaller pieces. For example, if you have time to walk up and down your stairs in the morning for 10 minutes, great. At noon, walk around the building at the office or at home for another 10. Take the dog for a 10 minute walk around the block at night. Guess what? You've clocked your 30 minutes!
Phone a friend and make it a date.
Just find what you like to do, do it and make it a habit!

Strength training should be done at least 2 times a week.
-Check into your local Y, community recreation and education program, or favorite gym for a lesson or two to learn safe weight and strength training techniques.
-Find a book or video on strength training to follow. Some good booklets come with beginning dumbbell sets, or exercise balls.
-I like the Wii Fit for strength training--it has the fun element in it!
- Some aerobic exercises also incorporate some good strength training: swimming, dance, gymnastics, etc.
-Do you have any books, videos, or tools that you use for weight training that you can recommend to us?

Flexibility/stretching should be done daily.
-I strongly recommend the book Stretching by Bob Anderson. It lays out series of stretches for all types of people or activities you may be involved with, has great illustrations, and is widely recommended and used by physical therapists and has been for years.
And as far as your body is concerned...

Just Move It, Or You'll Lose It!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Keeping Track of What You Eat...Do I Have To?

There are many of you who want to lose some body fat as one of your health and nutrition goals. I am often asked if writing down what you eat is really necessary. All the time, the thought process, the energy it it really worth the effort?

Studies have now shown that the people who are the most successful losing weight and keeping it off are using some type of food journal as an important piece of their success. Yes, I know there are a few people I have worked with over the years that seem to have an ability to monitor their eating without having to keep track, but they are a minority. There is no question that the vast majority of people will have better weight loss and have more success keeping it off if they keep track.

Why Does Tracking Help?
  • Increases awareness of what you are eating.
  • Make better choices, many times: I won't eat that if I have to write it down!
  • Creates focus on food and nutritional balance.
  • Honesty. So many people have told me they are more honest about their food consumption when they commit to writing it down.
  • Better weight loss. The proof is on the scales. Most people see better body fat loss when journaling.
What Are Your Tracking Options?
  • Spiral notebook and pen. Simple, easy, affordable, proven record.
  • Fancy Blank Diary. Create your own and make it special.
  • Food Journal Diary. Purchase a ready made journal diary from bookstores or weight loss groups.
  • Download Food Journal Pages. Find one you like, and print it off.
  • Keep track online. There are many places where you can keep track on your computer now. What's your favorite?
  • Mobile Aps. A reader showed me her iphone Log It! ap, which is a free download. I don't have an iphone, so I had my husband download it and he's using it for me to preview. Wow, I really love this one! He's finding it fun, innovative, and rather like a game, enough so he's totally into using it. It's absolutely perfect for him!
We need to know what recording method you have found that really works? How are the computer versions and other aps that you have tried for food recording? Let us know!

A little note: if you were working one on one with a dietitian, the first week's assignment would be to write everything you eat down. A written record is invaluable sometimes. So, the message of today is....
If You Bite It, Write It!
(or record it somehow :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Biggest Loser

How many of you are fans of The Biggest Loser? One reader asked for my opinion on the show, wondering if it is a good show for people to watch for inspiration when they are trying to lose weight. Excellent question.

Having worked in the weight loss industry for over 16 years, I have many opinions on the approach The Biggest Loser is using. First of all, we need to remember the primary goal of the show is to entertain and to make money. It has to be--otherwise it gets cancelled. They do this by making people want to watch what happens every week: who's going to make it, who isn't? They don't prioritize what is best for each individual's long term success. Let's take a look...

The Strengths:
  • Shows that weight loss is possible, even for those who have lots of body fat to lose.
  • Presents the importance of nutrition, exercise and group support (team spirit!)
  • Shows that determination and focus are necessary for success.
  • Inspires many to start losing their own weight.
  • Belief: if they can do it, I can do it.
  • Gives ideas for weight loss.
The Weaknesses:
  • Contestants experience unrealistic weight loss. Safe weight loss is no more that 2# each week. When viewers lose their own awesome 1 or 2#, they often feel like a failure, since that is the message the show delivers. That's just nuts! Losing more than 2# per week can be dangerous: muscle mass and bone density have been shown to be lost at rates of 3 and more pounds per week. Yikes! The show never mentions that.
  • Unrealistic workouts. When you lose weight, the best thing that you can do is to exercise the way you are willing to continue for the rest of you life---not just while you lose the weight. I have seen this happen way too often. When people exercise for 2 hours a day and more to lose the weight, and then go back to 1/2 hour per day to maintain their weight loss, they end up gaining weight. On the show, contestants exercise for hours each day. When they go back "off the farm," to their normal life of work and daily stresses, they are going to have a very rude awakening as to what it takes to eat and exercise to maintain or lose weight.
  • Constant monitoring/support. Out in the real world, people who lose weight have to dig deep inside themselves and find internal resources that help them succeed: control, focus, determination, etc. This is actually critical for their long term success. Successful weight losers often find some help from support systems in groups, from coaches or at least on other person, but they also learn handle themselves individually, too. External support doesn't normally come 24/7. On the show, the contestants are under constant supervision and coaching. Are they given a chance to learn to monitor themselves?
  • Artificially safe food environment. The Biggest Loser contestants aren't doing their own grocery shopping, making dinner for their families, eating out and making real life food decisions. It's much easier to lose weight this way! But, the struggle of making your own food choices is part of the learning process which that is critical to long term success in changing into that healthy, svelte, buff person....and learning to stay that way forever.
  • Long term behavior changes. Telling the contestants how they should behave when they get home is one thing, but does it help when they haven't been doing it that way through the entire show? Its kind of like taking a basketball team and having them practice for the entire season running plays from one play book, practicing them over and over...everything works great. Now its play-off time. You have an entirely different play book with a new set of plays. Your coach won't be there, but you are told to just read those new plays, and you'll be fine. Practicing those plays is so overrated, right? Wrong! Practice is what we need. How many of those Biggest Loser contestants have been interviewed much later, and how many gained weight back?
If you enjoy watching The Biggest Loser because it motivates you and it fires you up to be successful getting you going on your own healthy eating and exercise program, watch it!! Just don't watch this show as a model for how to lose weight or for what to expect as you are losing weight. Remember, its just entertainment!

And, as for me, the negative coaching (yelling?) presenting a 1# weight loss as a failure, workouts until you drop, unrealistic drives me crazy. I am a positive, encouraging coach and work with what is best for individuals, and it has worked wonderfully for years!

Don't Give Up What You Want the Most For What You Want at the Moment....