Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ending Post Spring 2016

Well ladies we are at the close of another round of Healthy Living Competition. Hopefully you have forged some new healthy habits. But do you know what? It's all up to you.

I have actually had healthy living participants that participated in several challenges and HELD THEIR PROGRESS BETWEEN COMPETITIONS! Hoodie Hoorah for them! Some have progressed to the point that they were joining us just to firm up their healthy habits but they had actually progressed to the "less than 10 pounds (or no pounds) to lose category!" And of course I have had others that did well on the competition but  as soon as we stopped counting and reporting they slipped back into their old habits and started each new challenge in the exact same place.

So ask yourself "What do I really want to do?" Do I want to take a break (until our next round of competition -sometime in the fall) from weighing myself and just let concern over my health fade into the background? Do I want to indulge myself daily with sugary treats, fast food, sodas, chips and goodies and not worry about it for awhile? Do I want to set aside exercise as just too time consuming for my busy life? Do I want to stop journaling and just trust myself to carry an awareness of how much food and what types I should eat daily? Do I want to skip the scale until September so as not to disappoint or worry myself?

Don't I really deserve a break from all of this. Aren't these habits RUINING my fun?

And of course the answer is up to you. What I do want you to do as your last challenge is really consider it. Don't let busyness and lack of attention to your health pull you back into bad habits. Take a few minutes and look over our reporting sheet. How do you want to live your summer? What habits to you want to keep, which habit do you want to amend a bit and which habits do you want to give up? Take stewardship over your health and well being and make your own plan. 

I'd love it if you want to e-mail me (or put a comment in the blog) what you have decided. I'm hoping to be in that group that starts our fall competition even closer to my personal goals for my health. I want to make progress during our break. I hope you will join me in that. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our Challenge for the Week- Stretch it out, stretch it out, stretch it ALLLLLL out

Oh my gosh I am such an old lady- 61 years old next week. And as you all know I recently had my arm in a cast as I broke it skiing. So the cast was on for just 4 weeks (and then I went to a removable splint). I had broken my radius- so my arm bone but when the cast was removed guess what. My wrist didn't work at all anymore! Can you believe it? I hadn't injured my wrist at all but just because I didn't use it AT ALL for a month it honestly was like a rock. It couldn't do anything. So have spent the last several weeks stretching and strengthening it. 

It was a good reminder that if we limit our motion for any reason we lose ability and range of motion. This morning I went with a friend to visit a REALLY Old lady- 97 in just a couple of months. At the assisted living center there was a "work-out" class going on. And what were they doing? Simple stretches while sitting in a chair. I'm not sure about you but I want to be able to do more than that in my old age. 

It is easy to overlook stretching in our work out plans. And yet this is a crucial part of any physical fitness regime.

Age and inactivity can contribute to inflexibility, stiffness and even loss of range of motion. Yet constant daily practice can help us regain our flexibility and can even take us way beyond where we have gone before. The secret is in gentle, constant, DAILY effort.

How We Lose Flexibility
As we age, flexibility diminishes within the joints. We can also lose flexibility through lack of stretching and physical activity.

Stretching is a physical activity that elongates connective tissues, muscles and other tissues. The benefits associated with stretching include:
Reducing muscle tension and relaxing the body
Improved coordination and freer movement of body and limbs
Increased range of motion in the associated joints
Prepare the body for physical activity
Preventing injuries from tight muscles during physical activity
Creating a mind body connection
Promoting circulation
Reduce the risk of back problems
Reduce muscle soreness after exercise

Ten tips on how to stretch

1. Do everything slowly.

2. Hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds prior to exercise (warm-up) and for at least 30 seconds post exercise (cool-down).

3. Breathe normally and relax while holding the stretch to the point of pain.

4. NEVER, EVER do any bouncy stretching, always hold and relax.

5. Focus on the muscle you are trying to stretch and then try to lengthen it.

6. If a particular muscle group is tight, then stretch it in stages. Stretch as far as you can, then relax it and stretch again. This is most important during cool-down.

7. Move slowly out of the stretch.

8. Remember to stretch both sides of the body.

9. Increasing the range of movement around a joint will help the blood flow to the muscles surrounding the joint and increase circulation that will carry away any lactic acids that may build up in the muscle.

10. Do more stretching in addition to just warming-up and cooling-down. As we get older our muscles shorten naturally, and it is vital for everyone that stretching becomes part of your normal everyday life. Gyms that offer stretch-classes or Yoga, where the aim is to permanently and progressively increase your flexibility are well worth considering if time and money allows.

There are many charts and tutorials available on google and youtube. Additionally you may want to take a gym class in yoga or stretching. But whatever you choose to do- do it daily and with gentle consistency.

Our challenge for this week of competition is to stretch for at least 10 minutes per day. You can include this as part of your daily exercise minutes or do it in addition to your minutes but begin to include daily stretching in your physical routine. For every day that you stretch at least 10 minutes you can claim 5 bonus points. And yes you can stretch on Sunday too- for a total of 35 possible bonus points.

Happy stretching ladies!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Boo-Hoo 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 but are they really a refreshing consequence free beverage? 
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 signals your body 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 do it while 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. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Weekly Challenge- Plan, purchase, prepare, portion and eat healthy snacks

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have synthesized years of research on adult weight management to form nutrition guidelines. One topic they've analyzed is the effect of regular meal and snack patterns on weight loss. "Several studies show that eating four to five times per day is associated with reduced or no obesity risk," The research also shows that the three squares a day could actually hurt your efforts to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight. "Eating less than three meals or snacks per day may increase the risk of obesity,"

Physiologically, it does make sense: "When you eat regularly throughout the day, your body knows that more food is on the way, and it's more likely to burn the calories you consume than store them as fat," Eating at regular intervals helps stabilize blood sugar and energy levels.

I’m sure you’ve had that experience when you realize it has been a long time since your last meal but you are rushed and busy and keep putting off finding something to eat. As you get hungrier and hungrier your resolve to choose healthy foods subsides and before you know it you can find yourself over eating unhealthy foods. It’s as if your blood sugar got too low for your brain to remember your goals so you just start shoveling in food (usually highly processed low nutrient dense junk food!)

I’d like you to take a good look at the time pattern of your healthy eating. Is there a time (mid-morning or mid-afternoon) when a healthy snack would be a wise choice? For me it is mid-afternoon. I eat lunch around noon and dinner at 6 and that is too long for me to go without eating. So I love to have a snack around 3.

OUR CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK IS TO SCHEDULE, PLAN, PREPARE AND EAT AT LEAST ONE HEALTHY SNACK A DAY. I’d like you to do your planning the evening before or morning of the day. And by preparation I mean you purchase, wash, measure or weigh, cut up and prepare your food at the beginning of your day. I want to make a sales pitch here for my food scale the Eat Smart Scale (which I bought on Amazon for $19.95). I use it multiple times a day.  
Just this morning I decided to eat some of my new favorite snack Crispy Crunch Chickpeas from the Good Bean (a new Costco treat). I could mindlessly eat a couple of cups of these yummies. But instead I weigh out and eat exactly one portion (1 ounce). And really it was enough to be satisfied. I love my scale for measuring everything: chips, crackers, nuts, meat. Many snack items are hard to count accurately (some are broken, they vary in size etc.) so I weigh them. When I’m really on my game I portion out the entire bag: weighing and bagging each snack size portion after weighing them out. So yes-plan it, prepare it and if you aren’t going to be home at snack time pack it. And don’t forget to enter it into myfitnesspal to make sure snacking doesn’t put you over your daily calorie budget.

Here are some ideas for healthy snacks:
1. Plain or flavored yogurt or cottage cheese with sliced fruit or granola
2.  Whole grain cereals or oatmeal, dry or with milk, yogurt, or raisins
3.  Trail mix or healthy granola bars and fruit bars (look for high fiber and no trans fats and watch the calorie count and serving size)
4.  ½ a Peanut butter sandwich with raspberry jam and cashews
5.   Quesadillas (melted cheese on whole wheat tortillas)
6. Popcorn, homemade or store bought (I am a huge fan of Smart Pop and Chicka Boom Popcorn and I eat it right out of my measuring cup)
8. Tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole or topped with shredded cheese and put under broiler
9. Whole grain muffins or breads, such as banana, pumpkin, corn, or zucchini (you can make a healthy batch and freeze them)
10.  Mini-whole grain bagels with cream cheese and sliced cucumbers
11. Hummus dip with whole grain pita or crackers or veggies
12.   Sliced avocados with wheat crackers
13.    Hard-boiled eggs
14.   Celery filled with cream cheese, Boursin cheese, or peanut butter
15.  Edamame in the shell, sprinkled lightly with sea salt
16.    Chickpeas or other beans, eaten with fingers or toothpicks
17.    Olives, pickles, canned artichokes or hearts of palm (In searching the menu board at the movies the other day for something I could eat I discovered they sold pickles! Wow what a full taste snack!)
18.   Frozen peas (not thawed!)
19.  Apple slices with cheese, peanut butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips, or honey
20.     Fruit Kabobs (Cut fruit on a stick and dipped in vanilla yogurt)
21.    Smoothies: combine fresh and/or frozen fruit and vegetables, fruit juice and yogurt or soy milk
22.     Dried fruit such as mango, apricots, raisins, plums (I love Costco’s dried coconut and dried Mango)
23.     Bananas and/or strawberries with semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate syrup
Note: I really like discovering snacks like my new dried chickpeas that can be left in my purse or glove compartment (and don’t melt) in case I need a snack but hadn’t planned for one.
24. Frozen mango, grapes, bananas (I love all fruit frozen and it seems to be more of a treat)

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Sparkling Clean Refrigerator and freezer

I don’t know about you but I have favorite household jobs (I actually love cooking, vacuuming, doing dishes and making my bed) and those I dread (for me it’s folding and putting away laundry and cleaning out the refrigerator)

And so to perhaps just to get myself to do a sparkling clean and thorough job of cleaning out my refrigerator I’ve decided to make that our challenge for the upcoming week. The following information comes from Web MD (and yes I love that it quotes the American Dietetic Association)
What's lurking in your fridge?
         Does evil lurk behind the door of your refrigerator? The last time you cleaned out your fridge, did you find a science experiment growing on last week's leftovers?
         According to the experts, the home kitchen is a Petri dish for food-borne illness. In fact, what we often mistake for an upset stomach or the flu is often a mild form of food poisoning.
         According to the February 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, "food-borne diseases are estimated to cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year."
         These bacteria, viruses, and parasites pose health risks for all of us, but especially for pregnant and lactating women, young children, the elderly, and anyone with an immune-deficiency disease.
         The good news is that up to 25% of the outbreaks can be prevented with safer practices in the home.
So how do you make sure the food in your refrigerator is safe? Let's start with the basics:
         1. Clean out the fridge every week or two, using a mild solution of bleach and water (Yikes I know it has been longer than two weeks for mine)
         2. Wipe up any spills in your refrigerator immediately, to prevent cross-contamination.
         3. Use all food by its expiration or "use-by" date.
         Food that is labeled with a "sell-by" date should be used within five days of that date.
         It's also important to examine food for any signs of deterioration before you prepare it. When food starts to deteriorate, it often looks and/or smells bad.
         But unfortunately, some foods can appear perfectly good even when they are full of dangerous organisms. So when in doubt, throw it out!
Live by this motto, read the dates stamped on containers, and use all your senses -- including common sense -- to determine if food is safe to eat.
Smart Shopping
         Safety starts at the grocery store. Begin shopping in the center of the market, proceed to the periphery, and select frozen food last. Don't buy dented or leaking cans or jars, or fresh food that looks or smells old. Make sure eggs are free of any cracks. Check the dates on all foods, including cans and jars.
         Once you're home, immediately store perishables and frozen foods. Keep your refrigerator and freezer filled, but with a little room to spare to allow for air circulation. Overstuffed refrigerators and freezers can dip below safe temperatures, thus promoting bacterial growth.
The Danger Zone
Foods that thaw or sit out at room temperature are officially in the danger zone (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit), where bacteria multiply rapidly. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator -- on the bottom shelf so they won't drip onto foods. And remember that foods served buffet-style should not sit out any longer than two hours.
         Carefully wrap and date your leftovers, and use them up within two days. Remove as much air as possible from storage bags to keep foods fresh longer. You might consider getting a vacuum sealer, a handy gadget that shrink-wraps food for maximum storage.
         For quick cooling, divide large pots of hot food into smaller containers before you refrigerate or freeze them.

If you follow these simple precautions, you'll find it's easy to keep your refrigerator safe and keep yourself free of food-borne illnesses. Chill out safely to stay healthy!

So yes your challenge this week is to totally and completely clean out your refrigerator and freezer. Check everything for expiration or sell by dates. Discard what is spoiled. Take every item out and give it a good washing with soap and water. And when it is sparkling clean you can claim 35 weekly bonus points. (Note if you are traveling and not home all week please feel free to compete BEFORE Wednesday or send me a note with a promise to do it AFTER the week if you will not be home to do it) Good luck ladies!