Monday, May 21, 2018

Weekly Challenge- EAT MINDFULLY

Sometimes I pick the weekly challenge according to what I need and this is one of those weeks. I kid people that because my dad was a fireman and never knew when the bell would ring I was raised to eat fast. Honestly I can count on one hand the times in my entire life when I wasn't the first one done eating. And I know that my rapid eating is a part of my overall problem with over eating. I was reading in the Harvard Health Letter this morning and much of what I will share comes from their essay on mindful eating. 
Imagine you're at your computer, facing a wall of e-mails. After composing a reply, you hit "send" and reach for the tuna wrap on your desk. After a few bites, chewing while glancing at the screen, you set the wrap down, grab a handful of chips, and open the next message. Before you know it, you've finished lunch without even noticing it.
A small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices.
This alternative approach has been dubbed "mindful eating." It's based on the concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. In other areas, mindfulness techniques have been proposed as a way to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties.
Applied to eating, mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food. 
The mind–gut connection
Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it.There's also reason to believe that eating while we're distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion in a manner similar to how the "fight or flight" response doesAnd if we're not digesting well, we may be missing out on the full nutritive value of some of the food we're consuming.
My daughter (a clinical dietitian) highly recommends the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Worksby Evelyn Tribole. 
A starter kit
Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating, eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive manner.Here are some tips (and tricks) that may help you get started:
1. Sit at the table to eat your meal 
2.. Put the fork or spoon down between bites
3. Close your eyes and savor
4. Focus on fully tasting your food
5. SLOW down (Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes)
6. Chew more (like 25 times)
7. Don't eat and watch t.v.
8. Don't eat straight from the packaging. Use a pretty plate.
9. Eat with your non-dominant hand
10. Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun's rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.
·    A treatment for bingers
Several studies have shown that mindful eating strategies might help treat eating disorders and possibly help with weight loss. Psychologist Jean Kristeller at Indiana State University and colleagues at Duke University conducted an NIH-funded study of mindful eating techniques for treatment of binge eating. The randomized controlled study included 150 binge eaters and compared a mindfulness-based therapy to a standard psychoeducational treatment and a control group. Both active treatments produced declines in binging and depression, but the mindfulness-based therapy seemed to help people enjoy their food more and have less sense of struggle about controlling their eating. Those who meditated more (both at mealtimes and throughout the day) got more out of the program.
Kristeller and others say mindfulness helps people recognize the difference between emotional and physical hunger and satiety and introduces a "moment of choice" between the urge and eating.
The NIH is funding additional research by Kristeller and Ruth Wolever of Duke on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based approaches for weight loss and maintenance. Several other studies on mindful eating are under way around the country.

So your challenge for the week is to choose one meal per day and take some steps to eat the entire meal with more focus and mindfulness. Enjoy your meals ladies! 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Exercise that takes less than a minute or two

I was at a wedding last week and after a short ceremony and then a few minutes of standing and visiting while pictures were taken, my good friend's husband said "I need to go sit over there". His wife replied "No sit right here so we can watch the photos being taken and enjoy the garden." "No" he said "These benches don't have any backs on them." As he exited to go and rest his aching back his wife said "You know all he does all day (he is retired) is sit in his recliner." 
This isn't the only activity I've watched this gentleman miss out on because of his "bad back". And honestly I am not negating actual back issues. But in many cases it really isn't your back that's the problem it's your front.
I can remember after having babies my back would hurt when I vacuumed the floors. But honestly I think my back hurt because my front (core) was so weak that my poor back was having to do all the hard work. 
The strength of your core is crucial to living a healthy active lifestyle.  The term core refers to your body minus your legs and arms. Functional movements are highly dependent on this core, and lack of core health and strength can predispose you to injury. In fact in many cases when you fall and incur injury (sprained wrist or ankle, broken arm, hip etc.) because you tripped what actually happened is that you tripped and were unable to correct your course and catch yourself. Your core muscles were too weak to come to your aid so you plummeted all the way to the pavement.
Core exercises are one of the most important parts of a well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional sit-ups and push-ups, however, core exercises are often neglected. Yet it pays such dividend to work on building core strength.My good friend and work our partner recently completed a month long plank challenge and I was AMAZED at her improvement in yoga class. So many of the moves that are the hardest for me were performed so gracefully by her with her new found core strength. 
And the crazy thing is that although a plank challenge is taxing it only takes a couple of minutes to complete, I have one young friend that never gets in the shower without planking first. 

Core exercises improve your balance and stabilityCore exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.
Core exercises can help tone your absWant more-defined abdominal muscles? Core exercises are important. Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activitiesStrong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a golf club to getting a glass from the top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.

Core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals                      Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs. But to have a truly well-rounded fitness program, you should include core exercises in the mix as well. 

Core strength needs to be safeguarded as you age. My girlfriend Gail and I have a sweet girlfriend that when she was 94 year old friend she was sore for days if she did something as simple as step up on a stepstool to dust something. On the other hand my daughter that is a Pilates teacher recently had her class doing a plank challenge  and asked them to HOLD A PLANK FOR 3 FULL MINUTES . An older gentleman in the class (in his 60’s) said “My wife and I can plank for 6 minutes”. The whole class was impressed and after the younger students dropped out at 3 minutes the gentleman went on to plank for 6 minutes and his wife continued to 7. (He explained he can go to 7 also but if he goes to 7 she tries to go to 8 and he didn’t want her to hurt herself.)

So what is your challenge for the week? I would like you to practice planking every day and I hope you will continue this challenge beyond this week and complete this monthly challenge.

I am including 5 methods of planking so you can begin where you must. Choose just one method of plank you are able to do and for this week follow the proscribed times for each day. Remember it’s not where you are at now, but that you begin to make dedicated daily positive progress. For each day that you give your best effort to plank once a day as proscribed on the chart you earn the 5 daily bonus points. (Exercise points are never awarded on Sunday so just 30 points possible this week)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Starting with a clean slate

And here we are again! Some are new to our healthy living challenge and some have participated several times in the past. But we all step forward this week together. We weigh ourselves and take our measurements (and hide this info in a safe place) and we begin to be accountable for our health choices once again.

Each week you will look here (I usually gave the new blog post up by Sunday to give you time to grocery shop if needed) for our weekly bonus challenge. And this week it is the following.

FOR EVERYONE: (No matter how many times you have competed.)
1. Read or re-read the FAQ's and RULES tabs on the blogs site
2. Weigh yourself and take your measurements
3. Begin logging onto every day to record what you eat and drink.
4. Contact your partner every day this week and remind them of one reason YOU want to make healthier choices.

1. Join and friend at least 3 ladies to be support to you. (You can find names in the header for out healthy living group)

And if you do the above you can claim the 5 daily bonus points for a total of 35 points this week

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 Zürich, 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!