Saturday, October 26, 2013

Eat Like A Pig During The Holidays?

Our Fall healthy living competition is timed so that it is completed right before the beginning of the holiday season. So yes, it is possible to finish up your attempt (be it a big or small) to get healthier this fall and then let it all fall by the wayside by allowing yourself to go absolutely nutso-crazy during the holidays. It is so easy to let busyness, stress, Grandma’s favorite holiday treat, parties, luncheons and special occasions sabotage all the progress you’ve made up to this point.

So if your plan is to “just wing it,” through the holidays you may be risking a slip back into those bad habits that have plagued you in the past. And Christmas could find you looking worst and feeling worst than you do at this minute.
I’d like us to each make an effort to keep the momentum of healthy choices going through the New Year. And there are a few things that can help:
1. Take a minute to really ponder--does this really matter to you? Do you want to make healthy decisions during the holidays? Or do you want to take a break and let it all slide? One of my favorite quotes is “May your decision this minute be guided by what your future self would wish you had done” Take a few minutes and decide how healthy you want to be by January 1, 2014. Do you care?
2. Keep it positive. Positive quotes about healthy choices as well as positive personal mantras can give strength to the goals we want to accomplish. Choose at least one that you think will help you to focus on your goals.
3. Make a clear plan about the holiday habits you want to choose. While you may want to scale back your healthy living habits during the holidays this should be part of a deliberate thoughtful plan. Here are our healthy habits. Consider each one and decide if you want to continue to fulfill it fully or perhaps scale your efforts back until January. Remember of course less healthy efforts = less healthy progress:
How many fruits and vegetables do you want to eat daily?
Do you want to exercise daily?
Does recording your daily food intake help you to keep control of your eating? Do you want to keep it up?
How many days a week do you want to partake of sweets?
Do you still want to fit in a good volume of water drinking in your busy days?
Do you want to set up your own special challenges or parameters as part of your plan for celebrating the holidays?
To earn the bonus points for our last weekly challenge you need to:
Prepare a card to be posted in a prominent place. On this card include:
1. A positive mantra or quote
2. Your specific goals for healthy habits during the holidays
3. Read the quote or mantra and look at your plan every day until January 1

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, making up about 16 percent of our total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein.
Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids. Our bodies can manufacture most of the needed amino acids, but nine of them must be gotten from our diets. Animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and dairy products have all the amino acids, and many plants have some of them.

It is important to remember when you are cutting calories in order to lose weight that you should NOT cut back on protein foods. Instead, start by cutting out empty calories such as sweets and sweetened beverages. Next, cut way back on fried foods. If you're still looking for calories to cut, scale down your portions of bread, pasta, cereals, and other grain-based foods.  
One reason that we want to make sure we are taking in adequate protein when we try to lose weight is that we want to lose extra fat rather than muscle tissue.  In a recent study researchers wanted to see if increasing the amount of protein in the diet might protect against muscle loss during weight loss. And it turns out, it does!
For the study they divided a bunch of overweight people into three groups. One group ate the Recommended Daily Allowance for protein, which amounts to about 10% of calories, or 50g per day. The second group ate twice that much and a third group ate 3 times that much.  All of these diets, by the way, fall within the Institute of Medicine's acceptable range of 10-35% of calories from protein.
Then, the researchers put all three groups on a calorie-restricted diet (where each group ate different percentages of protein but ate an equal low total amounts of calories) The results showed that all 3 groups lost about the same amount of weight--approximately 2 pounds a week. But there was one big difference....
The group that ate 20% of their calories from protein (which translates to about 100 grams or approximately 3/4 of a gram per pound of body weight) lost less muscle and more fat than the group eating half that much.
This means that more of that hard won weight loss was actually due to fat loss. Also more muscle tissue is left behind to burn up calories, making that weight loss easier to maintain. But there is no need to go over board! The group that was eating the most protein (30% of calories) didn't do any better than the folks in the middle group.
So the question is are we eating sufficient amounts of protein daily?
Calculate Protein Needs
To determine your daily protein needs, you must first know your weight in kg. To convert your body weight into kg, simply divide your weight in lb by 2.2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight for healthy individuals. If you are under stress or moderately to vigorously active, use a number between 1.1 and 1.8 per day. To calculate your protein needs, multiply your weight in kg by the number of g of protein you require each day. For example, if you are a healthy individual and weigh 70 kg, your protein needs would be 56 g of protein per day. If you are moderately active and weight 85 kg, you need 99 g of protein daily.

And did you know you can customize your myfitnesspal?
To change what nutrients are tracked: Go to settings/ click on diary settings/ click on change and you can track the nutrients you are concerned about

To change what number you are attempting to reach in any nutrient category: go to Home/ click on Goals/ Click on Change Goals

So you have probably guessed that our challenge for this week is:
1. Calculate how many grams of protein you should be eating per day.
2. Adjust myfitnesspal if needed to track you toward that number
3. For every day that you eat adequate protein you earn the daily 5 challenge points

You might want to look over our previous weeks and see if you generally eat enough protein. I eat very little meat so I fall short most days. I guess that’s why I chose this challenge. If you always get enough and will automatically earn the points this week you might want to unofficially challenge yourself to get the adequate amounts in another nutrient category.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Diet Soda Challenge

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 signalling 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 now hear this: 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 causing 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. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mix It Up And Have Some Fun!

I don’t know about you but I have a really easy time falling into a rut. In fact my kids would probably tell you I like doing the same ol’ same ol’, and I tend to be resistant to change.

This last week a friend and neighbor invited me to go swimming for fun and exercise. I haven’t had my goggles on for at least a year. And here in Florida we are still enjoying beautiful summer weather. It was like heaven doing laps again and feeling the peacefulness of being in the water. I spent most of my childhood in the pool and had forgotten how much I love it!

With your body movement and work out it really is best to change things up once in awhile. A change in your exercise routine challenges your muscles in different ways, which can help you burn more calories (Yes I was sore after swimming). It can also prevent plateaus in your fitness progress. The change can be made in intensity of work out, setting of work out or type of work out.

So how can you make changes in your personal work out?
1. If you usually walk or run on the treadmill and the weather cooperates move it outside.
2. If you always take the same gym class, try a different one. You might discover something new to love.
3. What did you enjoy doing when you were a child? Perhaps this will give you a clue to something fun to add back into your exercise regimen. Jump on a trampoline, strap on your roller blades, swim some laps, get out the tennis racquet, or spend a few minutes dancing to some music you love.
4. Beef up your intensity. If you have been walking try interspersing a bit of running in your routine or carry some hand weights. If you are taking an exercise class make a keener effort to do the moves more exactly as modeled by the instructor.
5. Add something in. Try some stretching before or after your routine work out or add some basic weight lifting before or after. Make sure all your bases are covered.