Sunday, February 25, 2018

Now- YOU take charge!

When I began hosting these healthy living competitions I saw them as an opportunity to spend a few weeks to focus more fully on the healthy habits that help us build health, strength and happiness.

So it made me sad when after one of the competitions I hosted a participant said "I do so well on these competitions but then gain back all the weight in between." Admittedly this is something I battle as well. 

You know the old saying "When you do what you did you get what you got." So if you built some healthy habits, exercised more, ate better, drank more water and built your overall health during this competition-- perhaps with the side benefit of losing some pounds and then you go back to your previously bad habits as soon as we are done-- GUESS WHAT? You will also go back to your previously less than great health and weight.  

I will probably host the next round of our competition beginning on Wednesday May 9. SO WHAT WILL YOU DO BETWEEN NOW AND THEN? Do you find that you tend to take good care of your health when you have no plan? If not then make your own plan.

I was reading over the blog from past competitions this morning and found these challenges (this doesn't include ALL of the past challenges. You might want to read through some of the old blog posts to find more):

Abstain from Diet Soda
Drink more water (measure to make sure)
Track your intake of Vitamin C
Restrict your hours of eating
Keep Balance in your work outs- Aerobic/Strength/Stretch/Balance
Eat Berries
Use Positive Affirmations
Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables
Monitor and measure your portion sizes
Clean your refrigerator and freezer
Eat enough Protein
Use your body to give service
Make self care a priority
Do Kegal Exercises 
Work on Core strength
Go the extra mile- take the stairs, park far away
Eat enough fiber
Eat more greens
Make sure and get plenty of probiotics
Eat seeds and nuts

Wow! That's quite a list. Recently a friend that had competed on a challenge with us said "Do you do this stuff ALL the time?" And while I wish I could say I am always 100% with these habits but I am not. But honestly many of the habits on this list truly have become habits that I do all the time. And those that are not yet regular habits I am working on instituting as regular habits. 

And so we come to our last weekly bonus challenge. In order to earn the 35 points for the last weekly challenge you need to make a personal Health plan for yourself. It can be whatever you like. Perhaps you want to continue to use myfitnesspal to log all of your food intake (This one habit may have the biggest affect on my weight and health). Or maybe you want to limit your sugar intake to 2 days a week rather than one. Maybe you only want to require yourself to exercise 3 days a week. You determine the parameters. 
It can have just one thing you are working on or it can be a list of things. But write down the plan and do something to keep it prominent on your mind. Make it your phone screensaver, mail it to your partner, print it and post it on your fridge, post it on this blog but do something to solidify it and commit to it. 

And I would recommend that if you have special trouble letting healthy self care completely fall by the wayside when things aren't "normal" (you are on vacation, you have house guests, it's your birthday etc.) you make a Plan B that you will use during those special times. 

You know the old saying "When you fail to plan you plan to fail." Our last challenge is for you to make a personal plan for you to follow when we are not competing in a Healthy Living Challenge.
See you in May ladies! And don't forget our last week's results and overall results will be pokey in coming as I am off on a cruise with no wi-fi for 8 days! I will get working on it as soon as I return. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Oh not not a week without diet soda!

Why is Diet Soda Bad For You? The Truth About Diet Drinks

Diet Soda – What Exactly is it?
Diet sodas are carbonated beverages.
Instead of sugar, they are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose.

These drinks are calorie free, which technically should help people lose weight and prevent sugar-related diseases like metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
1. Diet Soda and The Metabolic Syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors for disease that often occur together and raise your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
It is defined as having at least three of the following:
   Abdominal obesity (belly fat)
   High fasting glucose
   High triglycerides
   Low HDL cholesterol
   Elevated blood pressure
In a study published in the journal Circulation in 2008, which followed 9.514 people for 9 years, drinking artificially sweetened beverages was associated with a 34% greater risk of developing the metabolic syndrome (1).
Another study found a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and a drastically increased risk of diabetes in diet soda drinkers (2).
Bottom Line: Observational studies show a correlation between diet soda and the metabolic syndrome, which can lead to serious diseases.
2. Diet Soda, Depression and Preterm Delivery
There is an association between diet soda and depression
In a study of 263.925 adults aged 51-70, individuals who drank soda were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression over a period of 10 years.
The link was stronger for diet soda than regular soda (3).
Diet soda is also associated with preterm delivery.
In a study of 59.334 pregnant women in Denmark, 1 serving per day of diet drinks was associated with a 38% increased risk of preterm delivery. 4 servings per day increased the risk by 78% (4).
Bottom Line: Diet soda consumption is strongly associated with both depression and preterm delivery.
3. Diet Soda and The Risk of Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes has increased at an alarming rate in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.
This disease is highly associated with obesity and sugar consumption, so some would argue that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with calorie-free drinks would help.
However, there is no evidence of these drinks being helpful against diabetes.
A study of 6.814 individuals aged 45-85 years, daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 67% increased risk of type II diabetes (2).
In another study, 66.118 French women were followed for a total of 14 years. Women who consumed the most diet drinks had a 121% greater risk of developing type II diabetes (5).
Data analysis from two large Harvard studies revealed that diet drinks raised diabetes risk in women, but not men. Each daily serving increased the risk of a diabetes diagnosis by 6% (6).
Bottom Line: The association between diet soda and diabetes is very strong, especially in women. One study showed more than a doubling in risk.
4. Diet Soda, Obesity and Weight Gain

The main reason people switch to diet drinks is to cut back on calories in order to lose weight.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work.
In a study of 3.682 individuals from San Antonio, Texas, consumption of diet soda was associated with double the risk of becoming overweight or obese (7).
Other studies determine that drinking diet soda can make you fat, leading to obesity and its associated problems. For example, one study found that individuals who drink a diet soda two or more times a day had a five times increase in waist circumference over a period of 10 years compared to individuals who did not drink any diet soda. The reason for the association between diet soda and weight gain was previously unknown.
However, researchers at the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health in Z├╝rich, Switzerland recently assessed the impact of dietary energy (sugar) on gut microbial communities (microbes in the intestines) and metabolism.
According to the study, consuming high amounts of fructose (a type of sugar), artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) significantly changed the microbes in the gut that are responsible for signaling satiety and for metabolism. Additionally, drinking artificially sweetened diet soda can make your body crave sugar.
In other words, drinking diet soda causes your body to think that you are never full and to slow down your metabolism, both of which can lead to obesity.
As reported on Today Health, Amanda Payne, PhD and lead author of the research, comments, “An evolution of the gut flora to this new sweetener-rich environment has a potential to negatively impact our health.”
Payne, herself, says that she tries to stay away from foods that might damage the balance of the microbes in her gut:
“I will say from a personal perspective that I don’t drink sodas–diet or regular–and I rarely eat processed foods, especially if they have high-fructose corn syrup listed on their label.”
Diet soda in large quantities negatively impacts the composition of the microbes in the intestines
Bottom Line: Observational studies show a strong link between diet soda and obesity and drinking diet soda can negatively affect your metabolism and your ability to feel satisfied from eating reasonable amounts of healthy foods.
5. Diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners and chemicals that can be harmful to your body. Most diet sodas are sweetened with at least one of these sugar substitutes: acesulfame potassium (marketed under the brand names, Sunett®, Sweet One®), aspartame (Equal®, NutraSweet®), or sucralose (Splenda®). And, yes, they are approved by the FDA, but for the past few decades, scientists have studied the effects of artificial sweeteners on both animals and humans. The scientific studies vary significantly: Some show no conclusive, harmful effects to humans, while other studies, mostly on laboratory rats, link these sugar substitutes to cancers, tumors, thyroid issues, and — ironically — even weight gain. According to the National Cancer Institute, laboratory rats that were given cyclamate and saccharin had higher rates of bladder cancer. This led the FDA to ban cyclamate in the United States in 1969. Aspartame was linked to lymphoma and leukemia in rats at very high doses (eight to 2,083 cans of diet soda daily). 
Bottom line: Although aspartame and other sweeteners including acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame, are still legally considered safe for humans to consume, is it really worth the risk to your health?
5. Diet sodas can cause tooth decay. This one comes from my sweet hubby the dentist. He says without exception whenever he has a patient with rampant tooth decay they are a soda drinker. And surprisingly many are diet soda drinkers. His explanation is that soda (especially if sipped through out the day) changes the acidic balance in the mouth allowing those organisms that cause tooth decay to multiply and flourish. His advice if you must drink soda is to drink one thinking of it as a dessert and immediately go brush your teeth when you have finished. 
Bottom line: One of the worst things you can do for your teeth is to buy a giant soda (yes even if it is diet) and sip it throughout your day. You are bathing your teeth in disease promoting solution.
Well I don’t know if I have convinced you to eliminate or at least cut back on the drinking of diet soda in your every day life but for this next week FOR EVERY DAY THAT YOU DO NOT DRINK ANY DIET SODA YOU EARN THE 5 BONUS POINTS. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Vitamin C

I’m not sure if it my front yard grapefruit tree that is loaded with fruit (I do LOVE winter in Florida) or the amazing oranges I have been buying by the case at Costco (I even take them to church events as my contribution to the “refreshments”)- but I am an inspired to give another Vitamin C challenge!

So let’s take a look at Vitamin C. Dietary sources with the most vitamin C are fresh, raw cantaloupes, citrus fruits, kiwis, mangos, papayas, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon and cranberries, red and green peppers, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip greens and other leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, winter squash and Brussels sprouts.

The body uses vitamin C in many different ways. Vitamin C is needed by the body to form collagen.  According to the NIH, the body also uses vitamin C to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It also uses this vitamin to repair and maintain cartilage, bones and teeth, to heal wounds and to form scar tissue.

Vitamin C may also prevent cancer by blocking the damage made by free radicals. “Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals that we are exposed to in the environment such as air pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light from the sun,” said Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. 

Many people tout vitamin C as a cure-all for a wide range of diseases. Some of these have not yet been proven. “Health benefits of vitamin C that have been proposed but not scientifically proven include a lower risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts,” said Ross.

Recent studies have also suggested that vitamin C may prevent heart attacks by slowing down hardening of the arteries by preventing LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Vitamin C may also shorten the amount of time a person is sick with a cold, and also lessen the symptoms

Not getting enough of this vitamin can cause easy bruising, gingivitis and bleeding gums, dry and splitting hair, rough, dry, scaly skin, a decreased wound-healing rate, nosebleeds and a decreased ability to ward off infection, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Because vitamin C is water soluble it is not stored by the body. It is filtered out and leaves the body in urine. Thus you need a constant fresh supply every day.

Part of this week's challenge is learning to better utilize the information tracked on --so for the challenge I want you to go into settings and change one of the items tracked so that one column tracks  your Vitamin C intake (make sure and track the change). For every day that you track all of the food you have eaten and shows you took in adequate Vitamin C you can claim the daily bonus points. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


This may be a super easy weekly challenge for you as it is something that is part of our regular healthy regimen- drinking water. The single biggest step towards a healthy lifestyle is water. Get water into your system  as part of your regular routine, and you are well on your way to healthier living and a healthier you all the way around.

Simply adding water to your diet is an effective way of nourishing healthier skin and hair, as well as flushing your system of toxins, boosting your immune system and much more. So how much water should we be drinking? For this competition we have been requiring you to drink a minimum of 48 ounces of water per day, but many experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses (64 ounces) which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon per day. Think about whether you want to challenge yourself to increase your intake of pure water.

Whatever amount you decide (And it would be great if you challenge yourself to drink MORE than 48 ounces a day this week).  I want you to also challenge yourself this week to measure every ounce. Hopefully most of you are already doing this but as part of our bonus challenge let's avoid any laziness of guessing this glass or that cup was a certain number of ounces. We will actually measure how much is in the drinking glasses, cups or water bottles we use to insure we are getting sufficient water each day. 

Implementing this simple routine of drinking sufficient water is an excellent way to increase energy and relieve fatigue, helping you think, focus and concentrate better in the process. Water also removes by-products of fat and reduces eating intake. Simply drinking water can also stimulate your metabolism and flushing out toxins through sweat and urination which reduces the risk of kidney stones and UTI’s. As far as your skin is concerned, drinking water keeps your skin moisturized and smooth, aiding with wrinkles in the process. Water also helps fight against flu, cancer and more, making it one of nature’s most important and impressive natural medications.

Water can help prevent headaches and in many cases when you take pain medication for a headache it is actually the water you wash it down with that brings relief. Cramps, and sprains are also aided by water. So this week- drink up!  


Sunday, January 28, 2018

I don't want to be a fat rat!

This week’s challenge is one that we haven’t tried in previous rounds. It involves time restricted eating. The idea is to restrict your eating into a certain period of time, usually being 12 hours. So you look at the clock when you eat your first bite of food for the day (or drink your first swig of juice or smoothie) and again at the time you take your last bite in the evening and it must all occur within a 12 hour window. During the other 12 hours you don’t take in ANY thing but water.

Recent studies done on mice showed that if they ate throughout the 24 hours of a day they showed increases in obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Cancer. Strangely the study showed that it did no matter WHAT or HOW MUCH they ate but WHEN they ate was crucial. Mice in the study that ate the same food but were on time-restriction had 28% less body mass and 70% less fat. Now of course the quality and amount of food you eat matters. But time restriction alone has a huge impact on health.

·       The mice studied in this program when put on time restricted eating had an increase in lean body mass which was caused by an increase in Nicotimamide Ribose, which creates more NAD. And more NAD gives more ATP. ATP is the main energy source of our body and boosts our energy level. In addition time restricted eating increases endurance, increases brown fat tissue and increases mitochondria activity.

I know this is probably sounding super scientificy (made up word) but this is interesting stuff. If you are interested in more information listen to this podcast or do a google search. There is a lot of information on these healthy living strategy.

·      And you may be interesting in downloading an APP that can be helpful in your goal to eat less hours each day. The APP is

·       So starting Wednesday make a plan to do what you can. For our competition if you can restrict ALL eating to a 12 hour period you can claim our 5 daily bonus points. If you can restrict it to even less hours per day even better. And as always please contact me if you have health issues that do not allow such restriction. I often provide alternate challenges to those that cannot participate in our challenge for the week. Happy to do it.