Monthly Archives: August 2013

Healthy Thought for the day…

We all go through times that are hard and often times confusing. But God has a destination for all of us, and he will not lead us down a path that we don’t learn something and become stronger from. Help others, love others, love yourself and know that you are destined for great things!

 

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What Causes Heart Disease?

Are You At Risk for Heart Disease?

Many people understand that there is a connection between poor diet, lack of exercise and the development of heart disease. But your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is the result of a combination of many risk factors. There are two main categories of risks that contribute to heart disease—those that you can’t change (uncontrollable risks), and those that you can (controllable risks).

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

These variables are out of your control. Although you can’t do anything to change them, it’s important to know whether you fall into any of these higher-risk categories. How many of these risk factors do you exhibit?

Your age.  Men over 45 and women over 55 are more likely to develop heart disease than their younger counterparts. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that more than 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. Why? Plaque begins to slowly deposit in the arteries starting in childhood, so simply getting older increases your risk of developing heart disease and having a heart attack. The older you get, the more likely you are to have damaged arteries and/or a weakened heart muscle. Most people have plaque buildup in the arteries by the time they reach their 70s, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, but only about one-quarter of these people will exhibit signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Your sex. Overall, more men have heart attacks than women do, and they experience them earlier in life, too. While a woman’s risk of dying from heart disease increases after menopause, it’s still lower than a man’s.

Your family history. If people in your family have heart disease—especially close or immediate relatives, your risk of developing it increases. If a parent or sibling developed heart disease at an early age (before age 55 for men, or before age 65 for women), your risk is even higher. Developing heart disease isn’t necessarily in your DNA, however. Lifestyle habits (diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, etc.) tend to be passed down from generation to generation, which means that some portion of this risk is controllable.

Your race. Somewhat related to family history, your race can also predetermine part of your risk of heart disease. African Americans, American Indians, Mexican Americans, and native Hawaiians are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians, but this is partly due to other risk factors that these populations tend to experience, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Your body type.  Whether or not you become overweight or obese is mostly within your control, but you cannot control your weight distribution, which refers to where your body stores fat. For years, experts warned that people who tend to carry excess weight in their belly area (known as “apple” shapes) are at a greater risk of several health problems, including heart disease, while “pear” shaped bodies that store more fat in the lower body don’t have the same risk. However, one 2010 study published in The Lancet dispelled that idea, saying that being overweight (regardless of where your body stores the fat) is a heart disease risk factor. Your genetics determine your body type; if you are apple-shaped now, you will always be apple-shaped, even if you lose weight. Still, maintaining a healthy body weight—which would decrease your waist circumference—is a controllable risk factor (more on that below) that can reduce your heart disease risk.

Controllable Risk Factors
Factors that you can control are related to your lifestyle—the choices you make each day about what to eat and whether or not to exercise. These are areas of your life where you can take control to reduce your risk of heart disease and enhance your overall health.
Smoking. Most people think of lung cancer when they think of smoking, but did you know that smoking is the leading preventable cause of heart disease and heart attack? People who smoke are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers, according to the AHA. Smoking damages the walls of your arteries, constricts blood vessels, and lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Quitting smoking can stop (and potentially reverse) a lot of the existing damage to your body. The American Lung Association says that after one year of quitting, an ex-smoker’s heart disease risk is half that of a smoker’s, and after 15 years without lighting up, it’s as low as a nonsmoker’s. Don’t smoke? Good! But stay away from tobacco smoke anyway. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease even for nonsmokers.

Your diet.  A diet that’s high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, added sugars, cholesterol can raise your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and increase your risk of heart disease. Some research shows that diets too high in animal-based foods (meat and high-fat dairy products) and too low in plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts can lead to heart disease, too. Learn more about the foods that help fight heart disease.

Your activity level.  If you’re inactive, you’re almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as people who get moving on a regular basis, reports the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Regular exercise naturally decreases the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your blood while increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also lowers blood pressure and helps with blood sugar control, not to mention that exercise strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system so that it is more efficient. Exercise does not have to be strenuous to offer benefits. Get a heart-smart workout plan here.

Your weight.  The more excess body fat you have, the greater your risk of heart disease and heart attack—even if you have no other risk factors. Being overweight increases your blood LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, and exacerbates other heart disease risks like diabetes and high blood pressure. Plus, carrying excess weight simply puts additional strain on the heart, forcing it to work harder. Calculating your body mass index (BMI) is one way to determine if you are overweight; losing just 10% of your body weight (if you are overweight) can improve your heart health.

Stress.  Experts aren’t sure why people with chronic stress have higher rates of heart disease, but they believe that stress (and the hormones it releases) may damage the arteries over time and make blood clots more likely to form. Just one stressful episode can elevate the heart rate and blood pressure for a short period, and even lead to a heart attack. Some people find unhealthy ways to deal with stress, such as overeating, smoking, or drinking (all risk factors in their own right). Identifying your stressors and dealing with them in a healthy way can help protect your heart.

Your drinking habits.  Drinking too much—and possibly too little—seems to increase one’s risk of heart disease. People who drink moderately (defined as an average of one drink day for women and two drinks daily for men) have a lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers. However, the AHA does not recommend that teetotalers start drinking (or that drinkers increase the amount they drink) in order to achieve these purported benefits. Drinking too much has far more risks than not drinking. Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and triglycerides, as well as contribute to obesity, irregular heartbeat, cardiomyopathy, alcoholism, heart failure, cancer, stroke and other diseases. To protect your heart, cut back on drinking; if you don’t drink often—or at all—don’t start

Other Major Risk Factors
The following risk factors are largely controllable. Some people think of them as “symptoms” of heart disease, where others may view them as precursors.
High blood pressure (hypertension). Uncontrolled blood pressure can increase the workload of your heart, as well as harden and thicken the arteries, making it harder for blood to pass through. According to the AHA, high blood pressure coupled with other risk factors like obesity, smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes increases the risk of heart attack and stroke several times over. In many cases, high blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes and medications.

High cholesterol. As cholesterol levels rise, so does your risk for cardiovascular disease. High cholesterol (especially high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol) can lead to artery blockage and damage, which contributes to heart disease and can lead to a heart attack. If you have high cholesterol along with other risk factors (like high blood pressure or tobacco use), you are at a much higher risk for heart disease. While some people are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol levels, lifestyle changes and medications can help control cholesterol levels.

Type 2 diabetes. People who have type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to experience heart disease or stroke—even if it is well managed. 65% of people with diabetes die of some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. If poorly managed, the risk is much higher, as uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the heart and veins. Type 2 diabetes is preventable. If you have diabetes, it’s extremely important to work with your healthcare provider to manage your condition and reduce any other risk factors you may have.
Some of these risk factors put you at greater risk of heart disease than others. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of developing heart disease. The good thing is that you can break that chain of progressive disease at any point by working to reduce your controllable risk factors. You should work closely with your doctor to develop a heart-smart plan that is safe and effective for you. These plans usually involve some combination of dietary changes, exercise, medication and weight loss.

 

— Article By Nicole Nichols, Health Educator

11 Ways to Lighten Up Any Restaurant Meal

Eat Healthy–Anywhere!

Photo Courtesy of linenservice.com

Going out to eat can be fun, easy and a wonderful way to celebrate an achievement or catch up with friends. But do you find yourself getting anxious just thinking about dining out knowing how many dishes are loaded with calories? Although your woes are well-founded (some restaurants cram as many as 1,800 calories into one entrée), there are ways to beat the system!

Take a step back from ordering what “sounds good” and make a smart (and still delicious!) choice when dining out. Use these tips to help you choose something that is tasty, nutritious and comes in at a more appropriate calorie level.
1. Ask questions. The biggest factor in successful restaurant ordering is asking questions. The server is there to help, so don’t be afraid to tap into his or her knowledge. Asking for clarification is one area where many of us falter. Whether it’s to preserve integrity or save time, ditching a request to explain what an unknown term means could lead to a poor meal choice (either in taste or nutrient quality). So when no one at your table can define broasted, carpaccio, or roulade, ask!

2. Don’t be shy. One of the biggest reasons restaurant-goers give for not ordering exactly what they want is that they didn’t want to “be a pest” or something of that nature. The saying, “those that ask, receive” is true when ordering dinner! The person prepping salads will only put your dressing on the side if you ask. If you do feel uncomfortable making requests, start small. Even asking for water with or without lemon is going to set you on the right path to assertive ordering. If you need more motivation, remind yourself that you are a paying customer and deserve to have a reasonable amount of choice in your meal.

3. Decode the menu. Know which culinary words are a “go” and which are a “no” when it comes to healthy ordering. Some culinary practices add much more fat, salt, and/or sugar to achieve the effect. Stick to menu descriptors like broiled, baked, marinated, steamed, and vinaigrette; methods like these are likely to be lower in saturated fat, high in good fats, and can be lower in calories overall. Check out this article for a complete list of words to watch for when scanning a menu.

4. Replace the side. Many standard side items are fried, refined carbohydrates. Replace items like fries, onion rings or potato chips with whole grain or high fiber choices such as brown rice, steamed vegetables, or a plain baked potato. If there is an up charge, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth $1.99 to save hundreds of calories and get extra fiber, vitamins and minerals to switch from fries to veggies.

5. Hold the butter. Restaurants sneak butter into many unexpected places without spelling it out on the menu. Take initiative and ask if you suspect extra butter is used in preparing the meal you’re considering. Some common spots that butter turns up is on the bread (sometimes both sides) of grilled sandwiches, melted and coated onto vegetables, or added in with rice. Sometimes, holding the butter is not an option since many restaurants will batch cook dishes, but it’s definitely worth asking so you know exactly what you’re ordering.

6. Change the size. There are a few ways you can control the portion size of your meal. Some restaurants offer half portions, or small plates right off the bat, but if it’s not advertised, ask. The venue you are visiting may be willing to split your plate, sell you half portions, or at least place half of your meal in a to-go container to take with you when you leave. Eating proper portions is half the battle when it comes to achieving calorie balance.

7. Slow down. The ambiance of restaurants can be distracting, relaxing, grounds for a long meal, or all three. This type of environment can cause us to overeat or eat mindlessly. Take note of this effect, and consciously slow your eating and drinking. Sit back between bites, enjoy the conversation, and pay attention to how much of your meal you’re consuming, as well as whether or not you’re full.

8. Start smart. Appetizers can pack in more than 500 calories, easily. For a “pre-meal snack,” that’s closing in on most of our calorie goals for the meal before it even starts. If you are ordering an appetizer, stick to something light in calories like grilled shrimp or high in nutrients like steamed edamame. If the venue has fried shrimp on the menu, see if you can order it grilled. If there is not an optimal appetizer to choose, stick to a small salad with veggies and vinaigrette, a broth-based soup or water/unsweetened tea until your meal comes.

9. Behave with beverages. Drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, can pack in many calories during a meal, especially if the server keeps topping off your soda or you’re pouring from a carafe of wine. Whatever you choose to sip on, be sure to take the liquid calories and nutrients (or lack thereof) into account when choosing your meal. To really get the lowdown on the health of beverages, turn to this healthy beverage guide.

10. Start substituting. Yes, it’s OK to substitute items on a menu! See tip #2 and make that switch. If a menu item sounds good, but you find yourself thinking “I would use a lighter sauce, like marinara, instead of alfredo,” try it! Some great swaps to make that increase nutrients, decrease calories, or both are:

–Asking for beans in place of meat

–Ordering double veggies instead of choosing meat in a pasta dish or stir fry

–Switching to whole grain bread, rice, tortillas or chips if possible

–Asking for slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or extra veggies instead of cheese on a salad

–Replacing a cream sauce with a broth or tomato-based sauce

11. Nix the extras. Extras can add on a quick 100 calories without us even thinking or blinking! Get into the habit of saying a polite “no thank you” when asked if you want extra cheese, Parmesan cheese on salad or pasta, or bread prior to your meal. Personal-size desserts are also in this category. Although they’re small, trendy and cute, then can still add up to 100 calories or more. After a meal that is likely over the 400-600 calorie mark, 100 extra calories “here and there” definitely add up.

 

Article by Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian

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The Supplement Cardiologist’s love

CoEnzyme Q10 – A substance your body produces naturally in small amounts – decreased mortality rates among heart-failure patients by about half, according to a widely lauded study presented at the International Heart Failure 2013 Congress. “Coenzyme Q10 may be so beneficial because it encourages heart cells to produce more energy,” explains Clyde Yancy, MD, chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, although he feels more research is needed if this is to become widely recommended for patients. The study found that people with chronic heart failure who took 100 mg of CoQ10 supplements three times a day (along with their regular medications) were about half as likely to suffer major cardiovascular complications as people who didn’t take the supplement.

Article courtesy of Reader’s Digest, Sept 2013

Is Evening Eating Destroying Your Weight Loss Efforts?

Cues to Eating and How to Control Them

Photo courtesy of blogs.sundaymercury.net

Balanced breakfast? Check
Mid-morning snack? Check
Healthy lunch with your co-workers? Check
Passing up your friend’s homemade cookies? Check
Coming home in the evening and going on a feeding frenzy? CHECK!!

Does this sound like the bulk of your days? You’re in control, everything is going fine – until you come home starving at night and eat a large dinner, say yes to dessert (and seconds) and finish off a bag of chips before bed. What gives?

From a metabolic standpoint, there is really no reason not to eat food in the evening. A calorie is a calorie regardless of when it is consumed. A morning calorie is metabolized in basically the same way as an evening calorie. However, eating in the evening is a problem for many, not because of the way food is metabolized, but because of the quantity of food that is often eaten.

Skipping meals and becoming overly hungry by evening can lead to nighttime binge eating. Recent studies revealed that when people ate three meals a day only 13% binged. When people skipped breakfast, 24% binged and when people skipped breakfast and lunch, 60% binged. In general, people who spread their meals throughout the day seem to be better able to control their eating. They are less likely to feel hungry and less likely to overeat. So by eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner and planning snacks in between, you can help yourself lose weight as well as maintain better control of your eating throughout the day and night.

For most people, the evening is “down-time,” used to relax, watch television, and unwind from the stresses of the day. Others view this as a time to multi-task and catch up on household chores, bills, homework, and other responsibilities. Whether you’re winding down or checking off your to-do list, unconscious eating can accompany your routine and result in a massive calorie intake. Devouring a bag of chips, a sleeve of cookies, or a pint of ice cream can occur when your mind is somewhere else.

The Role of Sleep
Consuming a large amount of food before bedtime can also result in indigestion and sleep problems, which can trigger you to eat more during the proceeding days. A growing body of research suggests a connection between obesity and lack of adequate sleep. Statistics show that overweight individuals sleep about 1.8 hours less a week than people of normal weight. Since the 1960’s sleep duration for American adults has dropped by as much as two hours a night, while obesity has drastically increased.

Sleep is a regulator of two hormones that effect appetite, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps suppress food intake and stimulate energy expenditure, while ghrelin stimulates appetite, fat production, and body growth. When one is sleep deprived, the level of leptin drops and the level of ghrelin increases. The result is a drastic increase in hunger. One study reported a 24% increase in hunger, with excessive, uncontrollable cravings for calorie and carbohydrate packed foods such as cookies, candy and cake. It can all add up to a vicious cycle of late night binges, lack of adequate sleep, uncontrolled snacking, late night binges, and so on.

Are You An Evening Eater? Try this exercise to find out.

Track 3-5 typical days of eating and use your records to answer the following questions:

1. How many meals and snacks did you eat after 5:00 pm?
2. How many meals and snacks did you eat during the day?
3. How many total calories did you consume after 5:00 pm?
4. How many total calories did you consume for the day?
5. What activities occurred while you ate after 5:00 pm?

You may have a problem with evening eating if:

  • More than one-third of your meals & snacks are eaten after 5:00 pm.
  • More than one-third of your total calories are consumed after 5:00 pm
  • Evening eating constantly occurs with another activity.

    Put An End to the Evening Binge Cycle!
    You CAN control evening eating disasters. Try these tips to normalize sleeping patterns and fend off hunger:

    • Plan activities to do throughout the evening, but don’t make food a part of the activity:
      • Take a bath
      • Walk the dog
      • Pay bills; balance the checkbook
      • Play board games with the kids
      • Call a friend
      • Keep your hands busy (polish the silver, sew, knit, or do any craft)
      • Play basketball, baseball, soccer
      • Read a book or magazine
      • Try a relaxing fitness video such as yoga or tai chi.
    • Eat 3 meals daily and 1-2 planned snacks, keeping in mind your total calorie range.
    • Plan to eat about the same number of calories at each meal throughout the day. The total should be within your calorie range.
    • Have a low-calorie beverage (diet soda, flavored water, etc.) in the evening.
    • Make a list of low-calorie snack options. Select one for the evening. Eat it, but no more.
    • Don’t eat mindlessly! Eat all meals and snacks at the kitchen table, keeping all of your attention on the food you’re enjoying. Take your time and really enjoy every bite.
    • Get 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.
    • Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule, even on the weekend.
    • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
    • If you have trouble sleeping, leave the bed (or room) and pursue another activity like reading until you’re ready to sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
    • Finish eating at least two to three hours before your regular bedtime.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime; avoid nicotine altogether.

 

Article By: Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

13 Ways to Cool Down Your Summer Workout

Look Hot and Stay Cool

Image courtesy of energywiseguy.net

You waited all year for summer to arrive, dreaming of all the activities you could do if only the weather was nice. But now that warm weather has arrived, the extreme heat and humidity can make it difficult to spend any time outdoors—let alone exercise. While exercising in the heat is generally safe for most people, taking a few extra precautions will help you stay cool and prevent problems associated with the heat.

Danger Signs to Watch For:
Normally, your body cools off as sweat evaporates from your skin. But when heat and humidity rise, that sweat can’t evaporate as quickly. The combination of hot weather, high body temperature and exercise can be dangerous and even deadly.

Heat exhaustion can occur when your body gets too hot, resulting in physical symptoms like weakness, muscle cramps, dehydration, dizziness, confusion, rapid heart rate and headache. Staying hydrated and getting out of the heat can help prevent and treat heat exhaustion. If left untreated, heat illness can worsen, causing symptoms like confusion, unconsciousness, vomiting, troubling breathing, and skin that feels hot and dry (a sign that the body isn’t sweating). These are signs of heat stroke, which is deadly and requires immediate medical attention.

But you don’t have to give up exercise just because it’s hot outside.

These 13 tips will help you beat the heat:

1. Get your doctor’s okay. If you are new to fitness or taking any medications, check with your health care professional before exercising in the heat. Newcomers to exercise will be more sensitive to the heat, and some medications can impair your body’s ability to regulate temperature.

2. Wear “wicking” fabrics. While cotton is comfortable, it doesn’t wick away moisture very well. Choose a loose-fitting polyester/cotton blend instead, or synthetic fibers designed especially for wicking during exercise.

3. Protect your skin. Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 (or higher) to prevent sunburn—even on cloudy days. Use an oil-free formula that won’t interfere with your body’s ability to cool itself down and select a sweat-proof variety to prevent sunscreen from irritating your eyes. Clothing with tight weaves, sunglasses, and a lightweight hat with a brim can also help block the sun’s harmful rays.

4. Drink often.  Hydrate your body before, during and after your workout by carrying cold water and drinking it often. Switch to a sports drink with electrolytes if you will be exercising for more than an hour.

5. Perfect your timingSun, humidity and pollution levels are most intense during the day, so you’re at greater risk for dehydration, sunburn and heat exhaustion during this time. To minimize the effects of the weather, work out in the early morning (before 10 a.m.) or late evening (after 7 p.m.).

6. Check air quality. Before you head outside, get current reports online or on your local radio station. Lower your exertion (intensity) level during physical activity on days with extreme heat and high smog. This dangerous weather warrants easy walking, relaxed cycling or light gardening instead of vigorous exercise.

7. Acclimate to the heatEven the fittest people can have trouble exercising when it’s hot and humid. Start by exercising in the heat for only a few minutes each day and gradually increase the amount of time you can tolerate outdoors.

8. Seek shadeParks, trails and other tree-lined areas can help you stay cooler than direct sunlight.

9. Monitor your heart rateIf your intensity level rises above your target range, slow down or stop to avoid further stress.

10. Listen to your bodyIf you notice any symptoms of heat illness (see “Danger Signs to Watch For” above), stop your workout. It’s not a good idea to “push yourself” in extreme heat. If you feel bad, use common sense and discontinue your workout.

11. Know when to stay insideIf temperatures climb above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, take your exercise in an air-conditioned environment, such as the gym or shopping mall.

12. Avoid extreme temperate changesDon’t go from blistering outdoor heat to a shockingly cold air-conditioned building. Try to cool yourself down gradually before exposing your body to cooler temperatures.

13. Take a dip. Water exercise is a great alternative in hot weather. Water keeps your body cool and reduces how difficult you perceive your workout to be. Be sure to drink plenty of water even while swimming to ensure that you are properly hydrated.

Hot weather isn’t the time to take risks. Even healthy people should take it easy in extremely high temperatures and everyone should understand how to exercise safely and effectively at the height of the season. Summer brings many fun and exhilarating opportunities to get outside, so enjoy yourself!

 

Article by:  Leanne Beattie, Health and Fitness Writer

Measuring Your Personal Fitness Level

Body shape, lifestyle, genes, and cardiovascular ability all help to shape your individual fitness factor.

 

Evaluating your fitness level is not a one-size-fits-all process. Differences in lifestyle, muscle tissue, genetic makeup, and overall health all help determine your personal fitness level.

“It is an individual measurement that is not always dependent on how much physical activity you do,” notes Jim Pivarnik, PhD, president of the American College of Sports Medicine and director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University in East Lansing .

So how can you tell if your exercise and healthy diet habits are paying off? There are several ways to measure your fitness level.

The Five Components of Fitness

“Measuring fitness is multi-dimensional,” explains Pivarnik. “Long-distance runners have excellent cardiovascular health, but if all you are is legs and lungs, you won’t have a lot of strength or flexibility. By the same measure, someone who is overweight and aerobically fit is healthier than someone who is in the normal weight range but doesn’t exercise.”

Overall physical fitness is said to consist of five different elements:

  1. Aerobic or cardiovascular endurance
  2. Muscular strength
  3. Muscular endurance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body composition

Thorough fitness evaluations include exercises and activities that specifically measure your ability to participate in aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise as well as your muscular strength, endurance, and joint flexibility. Special tools are also used to determine your body composition or percentage of total body fat.

Working to optimize each of these five components of fitness is crucial to enhancing your overall fitness and general health.

Fitness: How to Develop an Action Plan

If you have specific health problems, check with your doctor before implementing a routine to boost fitness. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you have no more excuses. To improve your fitness level, take these important steps:

  • Follow U.S. guidelines for the minimum amount of exercise. That means exercising at a moderate intensity level for at least 2.5 hours spread over most days each week. At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise with weight-bearing activities that target all major muscles. Avoid inactivity; some exercise at any level of intensity is better than none while you’re building up your endurance.
  • Walking is the easiest way to get started. Get motivated by enlisting a friend to join you and adding variety to your routine. “Walking is simple and manageable for anyone,” says Jill Grimes, MD, a family physician in Austin, Texas. “Wear a pedometer from day one. Think of it in three parts: a five-minute warm-up of walking slowly, followed by a fast walk, then a five-minute cool-down of walking slowly.”
  • Compete only against yourself. No matter what activity you choose for getting fit, never compare your progress to someone else’s. “Do set goals, and if you are out of shape and hate exercise, start low and go slow,” recommends Dr. Grimes. “Do not compare yourself with your best friend who weighs 50 pounds less and just finished her 10th triathlon.” Pivarnik agrees: “Even if the same group of women walked at the same pace every morning, they would not all show the same fitness measures.”
  • Avoid overexertion. One preventive step Pivarnik suggests is checking your resting heart rate before getting out of bed every morning and making a chart so you can see a consistent, but gradual, decrease over time. If your resting heart rate begins to increase, you may be overdoing it. Another indicator of overexertion is muscle soreness that doesn’t go away after a couple days. “People generally err on the side of not pushing themselves enough,” says Pivarnik. “But the worst offenders are those who think they can jump in where they left off — the bunch of 40-year-old guys who think they are still on the high school football team and start running laps, but end up red in the face.”

As you work on improving your fitness, take it slow and steady to avoid injury or burnout. Above all, remember that consistency is key — if you keep at it, your hard work will pay off.

 

Article Courtesy of Everyday Health

By Heidi Tyline King : Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

The Worst Summer Calorie Traps

Treats to Think Twice about This Summer

Summer is the season for back-yard barbeques. family get-togethers and lots of cool treats on hot days. But if you’re not careful, a few sneaky snacks (or drinks) can derail a week’s worth of healthy eating and fitness. Be on the watch for these surprisingly high-calorie tastes of summer.

Fresh Fruit Treats
Fruit is a sweet treat you can enjoy every day as part of a healthy eating plan. But don’t let fruit-based seasonal dishes fool you into thinking that they’re healthy or low calorie. There are tons of ways to turn fresh summer fruit into delicious desserts at home, but the fruit-topped treats you’re likely to find when eating out probably aren’t what you really had in mind for a healthy meal or snack.

Food Item Calories Fat
T.G.I. Friday’s  Strawberry Fields Salad with Chicken and Balsamic Vinaigrette 800 54 grams
IHOP Berry-Berry Brioche French Toast 770 29 grams
Bob Evan’s Strawberry, Banana and Yogurt Crepe 750 14 grams
Applebee’s Seasonal Berry and Spinach Salad with Chicken and Strawberry Vinaigrette 620 31 grams
Au Bon Pain Strawberry Salad with Chicken and Balsamic Vinaigrette 440 27 grams
Au Bon Pain Blueberry Yogurt & Wild Blueberry Parfait 410 8 grams
Carnival Foods

You’re well aware that most of the food options you’ll find at summer fairs and theme parks aren’t going to do you any favors. You’ll probably be able to find a few choices that will fit into your daily calorie goals like giant dill pickles, chicken and steak kabobs or even cotton candy. But there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a once-a-year treat that you really enjoy. Just know what you’re getting into and eat a healthy meal before you go so you can limit yourself to one treat (or bites of several shared treats). Here’s how much these popular fair foods will set you back, so you can plan accordingly for your indulgence.

Food Item Calories Fat
Giant Turkey Leg 1,136 54 grams
Funnel Cake 760 44 grams
Snow Cone 550 0 grams
Walking Taco 450-900 30-60 grams
Elephant Ears 300-500 15-20 grams
Fried Snickers 450 30 grams

Entrée Salads
There’s nothing better than a cool salad for dinner on a hot evening. Just toss some leftover grilled chicken on top for a little protein and brighten it up with cherry tomatoes and carrot slices. A simple dressing of olive oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard or a yogurt-based ranch will add tons of flavor for a small number of calories. It makes sense to choose a salad when dining out, right? Not so fast. Many restaurant salads seem healthy but tend to skimp on the healthy, low-cal veggies and fruit and add way too much of the high-calorie salad toppings like nuts, dressing, and cheese. Sometimes a salad is the perfect choice, especially at fast-food places, but at fast-casual restaurants, salads can be hidden calorie mines.

Food Item Calories Fat
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad with Oriental Vinaigrette 1,390 98 grams
Ruby Tuesday Carolina Chicken Salad with no dressing 1,181 52 grams
T.G.I. Friday’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette 1,080 71 grams
Panera Chopped Chicken Cobb with Herb Vinaigrette 810 66 grams
Au Bon Pain Chicken Cobb with Light Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette 490 30 grams
Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad with Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette 460 16 grams
McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken with Low Fat Balsamic 320 11 grams

Iced Tea
Iced tea can be a refreshing no-calorie beverage or secret sugar trap depending on how it’s prepared. Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush, with different varieties depending on growing region and processing. All types of black, green and white tea provide antioxidants that are good for your heart and may be able to lower your risk for certain types of cancer. (Herbal teas, made from dried herbs and fruits, aren’t true teas, but have beneficial properties of their own, are naturally caffeine free and make delicious no-calorie drinks.) If you brew your own tea and sweeten it yourself (even with a small amount of real sugar), you can enjoy it every day without worrying about derailing your healthy eating plan. But grabbing a bottle or cup of tea on the go is a tricky proposition. What often sounds like a “natural” or healthy iced tea can be loaded with sugar and other ingredients that add calories.

Drink Item Calories Sugar
Arizona Rx Energy Herbal Tea (16 oz) 240 58 grams
Arizona Raspberry Black Tea (16 oz) 180 44 grams
Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte (16 oz) 240 42 grams
Dunkin’ Donuts Sweet Tea (16 oz) 160 39 grams
McDonald’s Sweet Tea (16 oz) 150 36 grams
Lipton 100% Natural Green Tea with Citrus (16 oz) 140 36 grams
Starbucks  Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea (16 oz) 80 20 grams
Wendy’s Strawberry Tea (Medium) 70 16 grams
Lemonade

This summertime favorite is incredibly refreshing on a warm day, but this sweet treat should be enjoyed occasionally, rather than every day. And lemons are good for you, right? They are, and you can certainly squeeze all the lemon you want into water for a splash of flavor and vitamin C (and virtually zero calories), but unless you use an artificial sweetener, the calories will creep up quickly in the sweetened varieties.

Drink Item Calories Sugar
Dairy Queen Lemonade Chiller (Medium) 390 99 grams
Wendy’s All-Natural Lemonade (Medium) 290 72 grams
McDonald’s McCafe Frozen Strawberry Lemonade (16 oz) 250 65 grams
Dunkin’ Donuts Strawberry Lemonade Coolatta (16 oz) 240 60 grams
Country Time Bottled Lemonade (20 oz) 230 58 grams
Arizona Lemonade (16 oz) 220 52 grams
Panera Lemonade (21 oz) 160 41 grams
Starbucks Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade (16 oz) 130 33 grams
Smoothies

Fruit smoothies make an excellent breakfast or afternoon snack. When you make them yourself, you can control exactly how sweet they are and how much fruit (or veggies) they really contain. When you grab one on the go, however, you need to do a little research in advance to know exactly what you’re getting. Something that sounds safe like “strawberry banana” could be a reasonable choice or it could be hiding a heap of sugar—or very little fruit at all.

Drink Item Calories Sugar
Smoothie King The Hulk Strawberry (20 oz) 964 125 grams
Dairy Queen Strawberry Banana Smoothie (Medium) 810 148 grams
Smoothie King Light & Fluffy (20 oz) 395 89 grams
Au Bon Pain Peach Smoothie (16 oz) 310 41 grams
Starbucks Strawberry Smoothie (16 oz) 300 41 grams
Panera Low-Fat Strawberry Smoothie with Ginseng (16 oz) 260 53 grams
McDonald’s Strawberry Banana Smoothie (16 oz) 250 54 grams

Iced and Frozen Coffee
Everyone knows by now that iced and frozen coffee drinks can be delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day. But they’re often calorie bombs just waiting to blow up your healthy eating plan. It’s tough to tell at a glance which ones are just fine as an occasional treat and which ones you might want to skip in favor of something that will actually fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth. In general, any coffee drink that’s blended or contains large amounts of syrup, chocolate flavoring, cream or whole milk are the ones to watch out for. If you’re not sure what’s in your favorite iced coffee, ask! You can always make substitutions to cut down on fat and calories.

Drink Item Calories Sugar
Dunkin’ Donuts Frozen Coffee Coolatta (Medium) 660 69 grams
Dairy Queen Cappuccino MooLatte (Medium) 570 79 grams
Panera Frozen Mocha (16 oz) 570 77 grams
McDonald’s McCafe Frappe Mocha
(16 oz)
550 71 grams
Starbucks Bottled Dark Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino (13.7 oz) 280 48 grams
McDonald’s Premium Roast Iced Coffee (16 oz) 140 22 grams
Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Light (16 oz) 130 26 grams
Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Latte (Medium) 120 15 grams
Starbucks Orange Spiced Iced Coffee (16 oz) 90 21 grams
Starbucks Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte
(16 oz)
80 10 grams
There’s no reason not to enjoy all the tastes of summer from refreshing iced tea to a cool, filling salad. Just be aware of what you’re eating and drinking so you can make delicious and healthy choices all summer long.

Nutrition information comes from individual restaurant/brand websites on July 11, 2013. Restaurants may change their ingredients, portion sizes and nutrition information at any time. Carnival food nutrition information is estimated based on averages since sizes and recipes vary.

 

– By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer

10 Smart Ways to Burn More Calories

As always I love coming across a good article that I can share with fellow fitness lovers. This article was a great read. It gives insight into how we can add intensity to our workout without spending tons of extra time in the gym. Hope it gives you some ideas you can use.. Enjoy.

Don’t quit until your fit,

Mandy

 

Photo courtesy of Men’s Fitness

 

We all like to get more done in less time, right? We shop from our computers to forgo waiting in lines at department stores and microwave our foods to cut down on cooking time. Some of us even take multitasking to new levels by checking our email while watching television and sipping our morning coffee. And it makes sense. After all, what do we all want more of when it comes down to it? Time. Although spending time working out is a great way to beat stress and get healthy, most of us are usually trying to squeeze in workouts during our already hectic schedules. And when you are able to get to the gym or find that 30 minutes for cardio, don’t you want to make the most of every minute?

No matter what type of cardio you do, you can burn more calories in the same amount of time with just a few modifications to your current workout.

10 Ways to Crank Up Your Cardio
 
1. Do cardio first. Over the years, many clients have asked me, “Should I do weights or cardio first?” If you want to up your calorie burn (and who doesn’t?), research shows that you should do cardio first. Published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, one study examined how many calories exercisers burned doing one of four workout combinations: running only, strength training only, running followed by strength training, and strength training followed by running. Researchers found that while all exercisers experienced a strong “after burn” (a higher rate of calories burned when at rest after exercise) for the two hours after working out, the strength training and run/strength training groups had the highest exercise after burn of all. So what does this mean? Although it’s just one study, the takeaway is that we might burn more calories after working out if we do our cardio first.
2. Try plyometrics. If you consider yourself an intermediate or advanced exerciser and are looking for ways to burn more calories, plyometrics are the way to go. These high-intensity, explosive exercises such as jumping and hopping, get your heart rate up quickly, which equals a higher rate of calories burned. Additionally, these athletic movements really target your fast-twitch muscles, coordination and agility, so you’re training your body in an entirely new and challenging way. And challenging workouts almost always equal results—and more calories burned. Because using proper form is essential when doing these advanced high-impact moves, consider learning the ropes first!
3. Use Your whole body.  Most cardio exercises focus on the lower body (biking, walking, elliptical, stair climbing, etc.), but if you want to burn more calories, one easy tip is to incorporate your upper body. Pump those arms hard and high when running and walking, make sure to grab the elliptical with moving handles, and even consider adding a more full-body exercise to your cardio mix such as the rowing machine. The more muscles you move, the more calories you will burn!

4. Get intense. If you’re serious about wanting to burn more calories, then it’s time to up the intensity. Bump up your incline and resistance if you’re on a piece of gym equipment, or walk a hillier route than usual if you exercise outdoors. To increase the burn, you need to get out of your cardio comfort zone. And when you do, the benefits can be big. In a study published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports Medicine in 2002, researchers found that intense exercise resulted in the greatest fat burn (compared to light intensity exercise and no exercise at all) during the hours following a workout—and that fat burn continued for 11 hours.

5. Listen to fast musicIf you seem to have trouble pumping yourself up for a workout, try popping in those earbuds! In a small study by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, scientists found that when male college students pedaled stationary bicycles while listening to fast popular music, the subjects pedaled faster and elevated their heart rates more. The students even perceived their workouts to be less intense than they actually were. And when the music slowed down? The opposite happened. So listen to music you love and get your cardio on!

6. Use proper form. Do you hold on to the handles when you run on the treadmill? Maybe you lean on the handlebars during spinning class or hunch over while walking on the Stairmaster. If you use these machines, you need to use proper form in order to burn more calories. As a general rule, keep your arms moving freely and naturally, keep your abs in, your weight centered over your hips, and your shoulders down and back. Not only does proper form keep you from getting injured, it also ups your calorie burn since your core is engaged. Bonus!

7. Speed up. The simplest advice of all for upping your calorie burn? Increase your pace even if it’s just a little bit. The tortoise may have won the race, but the hare burned more calories!

8. Add some intervals. By varying your intensity through different intervals (think one minute running then two minutes walking), you can actually improve your fitness more quickly than by steady state cardio, and you can burn more calories. The bonus? Time seems to fly when you add interval training!

9. Focus. We talk a lot about the importance of the mind-body connection and fitness. Although cardio isn’t as Zen-like as yoga, cardio can still benefit from a strong sense of awareness. The next time you do cardio, focus on the movements and breathing while squeezing those muscles. By engaging your mind, you can actually better engage your muscles, which allows you to complete the exercise more easily and still burn more calories!

10. Don’t work too hard. This might sound counter-intuitive but hear me out. We all know how important intensity is to any workout plan, but also think about how your workout affects the rest of your day. If you spend an hour at the gym sprinting and doing lunges, you might burn 600 calories in a short amount of time, but if that intense workout completely wipes you out for the rest of the day, the extra calorie burn might not be worth it. Be honest with yourself and definitely push yourself, but not so hard that it gets in the way of other daily activities. After all, the goal is to improve your quality of life.
Follow these tips and you will burn more fat and increase your fitness level in no time!

 Article By Jennifer Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor
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