Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beach Alert: Just 90 Days to Summer

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Top 10 Reasons to Give Up Soda

By Steve Edwards

If you're looking for a scapegoat in the obesity epidemic, look no further than soda. It's the single greatest caloric source in the world, accounting for somewhere between 11 and 19 percent of all the calories consumed worldwide. It's cheap, addictive, and readily available, which generally means that it will take some willpower to avoid. But don't despair, as we at Beachbody® are here to help. We present: our top 10 reasons to give up soda. Drumroll please . . .

10.Soda may cause cancer. According to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, consuming two or more soft drinks per week increased the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by nearly twofold compared to individuals who did not consume soft drinks. As reported, the study "followed 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years. During that time, there were 140 pancreatic cancer cases. Those who consumed two or more soft drinks per week (averaging five per week) had an 87 percent increased risk compared with individuals who did not."
Then why, you're probably asking yourself, is this number ten on our list and why is soda even still on the shelf? Not that I'd challenge the ability of such large corporate power to hide such a thing but, in this case, the study slit its own throat. As one of the researchers noted, "soft drink consumption in Singapore was associated with several other adverse health behaviors such as smoking and red meat intake, which we can't accurately control for," meaning that we have no way of knowing, for sure, if soda was the culprit. Still, it doesn't hurt to know that when you drink soda it lumps you into a fairly unhealthy user group.1

9. It's not just about calories. Calories grab headlines, but recent science is showing that diet soda users are still in the crosshairs. A 2005 study by the University of Texas Health Science Center showed that there's a 41 percent increased risk of being obese—and a 65 percent increased risk of becoming overweight during the next 7 or 8 years—for every can of diet soda a person consumes in a day. Admittedly, this one should be higher on the list, but I wanted to make sure the article-skimming crowd knew the score up front: that diet sodas are very much a part of the problem.

8. It's the water . . . and a lot more. Okay, so that was a beer slogan, but soda is also made up mainly of water, and when you're slinging as much of it as they are, and you need to sling it cheap, sometimes you can't help but run into problems with your supply chain. In India, Coca-Cola® has found itself in hot water, and not the kind they thought they were purchasing rights to. Two of their factories have been closed, but one continues to run amok. According to a report in The Ecologist, "They accuse the company of over-extracting groundwater, lowering the water tables and leaving farmers and the local community unable to dig deep enough to get to vital water supplies."

"Since the bottling plant was opened in 2000, water levels in the area have dropped six metres, and when a severe drought hit the region earlier this year the crops failed and livelihoods were destroyed."2

7. BPA: not just for water bottles anymore. Nalgene® and other water bottle companies took the heat when the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) were made public a couple years back. While these companies went to great lengths to save their businesses, the soda companies somehow flew under the radar and continue to use it in their products. A recent Canadian study has found that BPA exists "in the vast majority" of the soft drinks tested. Most of these were under the national limits set for toxicity, but some were not. And remember how much soda the average person consumes, meaning odds are most soda consumers are at some risk.

"Out of 72 drinks tested, 69 were found to contain BPA at levels below what Health Canada says is the safe upper limit. However, studies in peer-reviewed science journals have indicated that even at very low doses, BPA can increase breast and ovarian cancer cell growth and the growth of some prostate cancer cells in animals."3

6. Can convenience. As in the 1950s colloquial: can it. Speaking of the 1950s, those were the happy days when most of our soda was consumed at soda fountains, obesity was a term hardly anyone had heard of, and the most feared epidemic was one of atomically mutated insects taking over the world. Now instead of hoofing it down to the corner confectionery for one soda, we fill out trucks with pallets of shrink-wrapped cans or bottles and quaff the stuff by the six-pack. Not to mention how out of balance this ensures our diets will become, it wreaks havoc on the world around us. The bottled-water industry (which is mostly owned by the soda industry) famously uses 17 million barrels of oil a year, and the aluminum industry uses as much electricity as the entire continent of Africa. Not only that, aluminum mining accounts for a ton of toxic chemicals that is left behind for every ton of the metal produced.4

5. The Frankenfood factor. Whether you consume diet or regular soda, you're getting all of the genetically modified food you need and more, via high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. Both of these are under plenty of scientific as well as anecdotal scrutiny. Findings aren't pretty but, so far, this multibillion-dollar industry has kept these sweeteners on the shelves while alternative sweeteners meeting cost requirements are explored. Since it's almost impossible to read health headlines without finding one of these ingredients in some type of controversy, I'll just use one example:

"The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition and food safety advocacy group, called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review the claims, which stem from research conducted by the European Ramazzini Foundation in Italy.

The foundation reported that rats who consumed aspartame in exceedingly large quantities were more likely to develop cancer. CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson considers this an important finding that should not be overlooked." 5

I know, there I go again with the cancer. But some people need to be shocked in order to take action. For me, seeing the Diet Coke® and Mentos® experiment was all I needed to swear off the stuff.

4. Foreign news cares how much soda we sell in our schools. How bad is your country's problem when the whole world is watching its daily actions? "Nearly one in three children and teenagers in the U.S. are overweight or obese and health experts say sugary drinks are part of the problem." Yep, bad. The world is well aware of the problems soda is causing and is looking to us to lead. And we certainly are trying. Are you with the program?

"Under the voluntary guidelines, in place since 2006, full-calorie soft drinks were removed from school canteens and vending machines. Lighter drinks, including low-fat milk, diet sodas, juices, flavoured waters and teas, were promoted in their place."6

And, while great and all, it appears that no one got the memo about diet sodas.

When it comes to soda, treat the word "diet" as a slogan. A study at Boston University's School of Medicine linked diet soda with increased risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. To be more specific, the study "found adults who drink one or more sodas a day had about a 50 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome," which is a cluster of risk factors such as excessive fat around the waist, low levels of "good" cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other symptoms that lead to heart disease and/or diabetes. And, for those of you only concerned about how you look in the mirror, "Those who drank one or more soft drinks a day had a 31 percent greater risk of becoming obese."

2. Soda outkills terrorists. A study out of the University of California, San Francisco, shows that soda has killed at least 6,000 Americans in the last decade.

From ABC News: "The new analysis, presented Friday at the American Heart Association's 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, offers a picture of just how horrifying the damage done by excess consumption of sugary drinks can be.

Using a computer model and data from the Framingham Heart Study, the Nurses Health Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers estimated that the escalating consumption between 1990 and 2000 of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages, which they abbreviated as 'SSBs,' led to 75,000 new cases of diabetes and 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease.

What's more, the burden of the diseases translated into a $300 million to $550 million increase in health care costs between 2000 and 2010."7

1. It's the "real thing" . . . not exactly. Should having the number one caloric source in the world come from something that's entirely manmade be a metaphor for a dying world? It doesn't have to be this way. After all, there's nothing in soda that we need. In fact, there's nothing in soda that even comes from the earth except caffeine, and that's optional. It's a mixture of altered water (injected with carbon dioxide gas), artificial flavors (yes, "natural flavor" is artificial), artificial color, and phosphoric acid, along with its sole caloric source that is a by-product of genetically modified corn production and offers virtually no nutritional value. It's about as real as The Thing.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Learn to Love Going to the Gym

No More Excuses!
-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer

I was not very athletic in school. All elbows and knees and very little ability, I was usually the last one picked for teams. It was clear to me at a young age that my future lay in books, not basketballs, so I accepted my lack of athletic skills and concentrated on simply getting through gym class without causing my team to lose.

Fast-forward almost thirty years and I realized the pounds that had been steadily creeping up on me weren’t going to disappear on their own. I needed to get serious about my health before I started following in my mother’s footsteps with osteoporosis, high blood pressure and pre-diabetes. It was time to get to the gym.

Even though I knew I had to start working out, it took a few days to psych myself up and actually set foot in the gym. All of the old memories started playing in my head. Would I make a fool of myself? Would people laugh at me? How was I ever going to figure out all of that equipment? Maybe I should forget about the whole thing and resign myself to accepting my body the way it was, instead of putting myself through all this mental torture.

Then I realized that most of the problems I had in gym class all those years ago stemmed from my lack of knowledge. I didn’t remember a teacher ever explaining the rules of baseball and I was too shy to ask, so when the ball came my way I simply ducked because I didn’t know what to do. But now as an adult, I was much more confident and had the power to ask questions. I could do this!

I chose the gym closest to my home so I wouldn’t have an excuse not to go. Since it was within walking distance, I could never bail out of an exercise session because it was too much trouble to get there. So with new cross-trainers in hand and only slightly shaky knees, I signed up for a one-year membership.

My representative immediately put me at ease by giving me a tour of the facility and explaining all the rules and protocol. After showing me how to operate the cardio equipment (treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bikes), she left me on my own to find what I was most comfortable with. I selected the treadmill—I could already walk, so it seemed the natural choice for a beginner. Thirty minutes later I was sweating and happy. Even though I had stumbled a few times before getting into the rhythm of the machine, nobody had laughed at me or even seemed to notice. This gym thing wasn’t so bad after all!

I started going three times a week and noticed the same people there most of the time. This made me feel even more comfortable because even though I didn’t know these people personally, I wasn’t around total strangers anymore. It even got to the point of nodding a hello to the woman on the next treadmill or commenting on something we had both seen on the TV as we worked out. I felt like I was part of a tribe of people who were all trying to reach the same goal—physical fitness.

I made a lot of progress over the next few months but I still felt a little insecure around people in tip-top shape. All it took was a scan around the room to find a whole range of body types and fitness levels and I felt better. I was doing okay.

I ran into an old friend about six months after I started going to the gym and she was impressed by the changes in my body. I was noticeably slimmer and carried myself with more confidence. When she found out that I went to the gym regularly, she shook her head and said she would never be able to do it—she hated the whole idea and wondered how I had managed to become such a fan. It wasn’t hard to give her a list of reasons why I love going to the gym:

Social enrichment. I love being around people who are trying to improve their health. We share the same ideals and values.

Year-round exercise. I used to walk outside when the weather was good but stayed in at the slightest sign of rain or snow. Going to the gym meant not being limited by Mother Nature.

Expert advice. Personal trainers are always right there to check my form and make suggestions. No more flying blind when trying to use a piece of equipment for the first time. I even had a personalized routine created with regular check-ins every 6-8 weeks.

Classes. With a wide variety of group fitness classes available each week, I can choose between any of them and never get bored. For instance, I might go to kickboxing one week and take a step class the next.

Nutrition education. My gym often offers sessions with a registered dietitian who gives solid advice on how to eat better.

Variety of equipment. A gym offers much more equipment than I could ever afford to buy—and much better quality too.

Goal setting. Setting a goal to lift a certain weight and achieving it is a great confidence booster. If I can do this, what other things can I do?

Self-acceptance. Seeing people of all shapes and sizes helps you accept your own figure even if you need to lose a few pounds or haven’t exercised in years.

Daycare. Many gyms offer affordable, onsite daycare services, so parents of small children can exercise without scrambling to find a babysitter.

Fun! As children, we naturally exercise because we see activities such as running or playing volleyball as fun, not work. When you adopt the attitude that a fitness class is fun, you can look forward to exercise instead of seeing it as one more thing on your to-do list.

Learn to Love Going to the Gym

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fit Question: Weight Gain and Depression - Which Came First?

Depression is frustratingly common and difficult to manage, even with the tools we have like exercise, medication and therapy. What makes it even harder is that many people who are depressed gain weight...or is it that people who gain weight get depressed?
That's the question one study asked in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. In this meta-analysis, which involves researchers going through previously published studies and analyzing them, researchers found that being obese increases the risk of depression and that being depressed can contribute to developing obesity.
In fact, obese people had a 55% increased risk of depression, while depressed people had a 58% increased risk of becoming obese.
While I don't think these results are terribly surprising considering the mental and physical toll that both depression and obesity can take on you, I do think this is important information. As the authors of the study suggest, doctors should be aware that weight should be monitored in depressed patients and that mood should be monitored in overweight patients. Tackling these issues head on may help prevent these problems or at least lead to early detection before things get out of hand.
What do you think? If you've experienced depression, how did it (or does it) affect your weight? And on the other hand, if you've experienced obesity, how did it (or does it) affect your mood and psychological state? Do depression and obesity go hand in hand and can we prevent them? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts about obesity and depression.
Fit Question: Weight Gain and Depression - Which Came First? originally appeared on Exercise on Friday, March 12th, 2010 at 05:00:10.

Weight Gain Prevention - An Hour of Exercise Every Day?

If you've been watching or reading the news at all this week, you've probably seen the headlines ( "Women need hour of exercise to keep off pounds," "Women should exercise an hour a day to maintain weight, study says") about a recent study published in JAMA concerning women and weight gain prevention. To summarize, the study involved following 34,079 women over 13 years to learn about their exercise habits and how those habits affected their weight. Throughout that time period, these women would report their physical activity and body weight. The women who successfully maintained their weight exercised at least 21.5 MET hours a week, which study authors averaged out to be 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day.
Obviously, plenty of media outlets have covered this story and many of our Guides (like Wendy, our Walking Guide) and have done a stellar job of covering it as well, but headlines like this drive me crazy for a variety of reasons. For one, there are many flaws in a study like this and Dr Rich, our Heart Disease Guide does an amazing job of spelling out these flaws. My beef has to do with what I think are the two biggest issues:
Diet. This study involved only exercise habits, not diet which is a crucial part of both losing weight and preventing weight gain. The study claims these women were following a 'usual diet,' but what does that mean? Maintaining a balance of calories can be accomplished with both exercise and diet. Using only exercise without changing how you eat is better than nothing, but if you're eating an unhealthy diet, you'll absolutely have to exercise more to offset the extra calories and prevent weight gain.
Intensity. The study concluded that the women averaged 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day, but this broad generalization doesn't take into account different intensity levels. They actually based this amount of exercise on how many METs (Metabolic Equivalent Tasks) the women expended each week. A MET is a ratio that compares your metabolic rate while at rest to other activities. So that means when you're at rest, you expend 1 MET every hour. Taking a stroll might burn twice as much as being at rest, expending 2 METs an hour. Jogging at a 12-minute-per-mile pace would expend 8 METs an hour. That means that if one of these women jogged for an hour at a 12-minute per mile pace 3 times a week, she would easily surpass the 21.5 METs of the successful women in the study, all with just 3 days of exercise. The harder you exercise, the more METs you expend and the more calories you burn, which can change how often and how long you need to exercise.
The truth is, no one can tell you exactly how much exercise you need. It depends on so many things - how active you are, your diet, age, gender, genetics, metabolism and proper planet alignment. Headlines like these can scare people who already struggle to stay active, but the kind of broad generalizations that come from these kinds of studies are just that: Broad generalizations that will never fit every person.
What do you think about this study and how the media is handling it? Will this discourage people or encourage them? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
Weight Gain Prevention - An Hour of Exercise Every Day? originally appeared on Exercise on Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 05:00:53.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Find some fun in your life, then share it!

Try Some Tantalizing Tofu!

If you're looking to increase your protein intake, boost your heart health, and cut your food budget, try tofu! Tofu is soymilk curd, pressed and packed into a spongy food that's bursting with protein, heart-healthy fiber, and unsaturated fat, as well as vitamins and minerals. And tofu is affordable, especially compared with animal proteins like beef, chicken, and fish. Tofu is so versatile, it's a cinch to incorporate it into your diet! Substitute firm tofu for chicken, fish, or meat in your favorite stir-fry recipes; because tofu has little taste on its own but is very absorbent, it soaks up the flavors of all the foods and spices it's cooked with, leading to a delicious, savory dish! Try blending soft or silken tofu in smoothies, dressings, dips, or desserts like mousse. You can even scramble it for egg-free "scrambled eggs." You can also buy preseasoned or marinated tofu at the supermarket — it's great with rice and veggies for a balanced, healthy, and delicious meal!

If you haven't tried tofu yet, challenge yourself to switch one of your animal-protein meals in the week ahead to tofu. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it!

A heads-up about soy products in general: Because of the estrogenlike properties of soy, the jury is still out on whether soy products are safe for women who have a high risk of breast cancer to consume in large amounts. If you are at increased risk for breast cancer because of your personal or family history, choose soy products only in moderation, avoid soy supplements, and speak with your health care provider for specific recommendations.

Morning Stretch with Denise Austin
You can shed your body's most stubborn pounds — forever! Keep going. You'll get there!

Q: Do you recommend cutting carbs or cutting fat to lose the most weight?

A: I'm honestly more into cutting calories, because I like a well-balanced eating plan that includes such good, healthy carbs as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables and about 25 percent good fats, such as lean chicken, fish, avocados, and olive oil. My Meal Plan provides you with low-calorie recipes that incorporate these recommendations.

Remember, weight loss is all about how many calories you eat versus how many you burn through daily movement and exercise!

Denise Austin's Morning Stretch Newsletters

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Having Trouble Eating Enough? Use These Calorie-Boosting Tips

Having Trouble Eating Enough? Use These Calorie-Boosting Tips
Tips to Meet Your Requirements and Get Results
-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

It may sound strange for us to provide tips to boost calories when many members are trying to cut back. But some people have difficulty meeting even the minimum calories in their recommended ranges, whether because of lack of hunger, loss of appetite, or just out of habit of eating too little. Eating within your calorie range is important for your body to work properly. In addition, you need to eat enough calories to meet nutritional needs, maintain a healthy metabolic rate, and stay energized. Eating too little will actually hurt your weight loss efforts. Many people make the mistake of "the less I eat, the more I'll lose," but that's not necessarily true.

The following tips and food suggestions can help. By applying one or two each day, you may find that you are back on track and in-control of a healthy caloric intake.

Tips to Meet Your Calorie Recommendations

Eat small, frequent meals 5-6 times daily.
Drink high-calorie, nutritious liquids if you are not hungry for food.
Limit diet, low calorie, low-fat products.
Have ready-to-eat snacks available to munch on when you feel hungry. Easy snacks include trail mix, pretzels with dip, nuts, dried fruit, crackers with cheese, frozen yogurt or ice cream, pudding, and fruit smoothies.
When you drink beverages, make certain they are nutrient-rich. Limit diet drinks, tea and coffee.
Enjoy Super-Strength Milk for extra calories and protein. Simply mix together 1 quart of milk and 1 cup of instant non-fat dry milk powder. Stir for about 5 minutes or until the dry milk is dissolved. Store this beverage in your refrigerator and use it just as you would regular milk. (Makes 1 quart)

To Increase Calories…
Mix dry powdered milk to mashed potatoes, ground meats, cream soups, pudding, casseroles, hot cereal, and milk.
Add an additional egg (or egg white) to casseroles and ground meat before cooking.
Top vegetables, potatoes, casseroles, soups, sandwiches and salads with cheese.
Using milk instead of water when preparing hot cereals, cream soups, hot chocolate, and gravy.
Spread peanut butter on crackers, apples, bananas, pears, and celery.
Snack on eggs, meat salads, cheese, nuts, nut butters, and cottage cheese.
Add extra butter, margarine, oil, regular salad dressing, or mayonnaise to foods such as potatoes, vegetables, bread & rolls, hot cereal, salad, pasta, rice, noodles, and sandwiches.
Top vegetables and meats with sauce, gravy, or cheese.
Add extra sugar or honey to cereals and beverages.
Add sour cream, cream cheese or whipped cream to your favorite recipes, potatoes, and bagels.
Toss nuts and seeds into vegetables, salad, trail mix and cereal.
Snack on a piece of fruit.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

These foods are small in size but big on calories and nutrients. Adding these to your diet can help you boost your caloric intake even when you don't have a big appetite:

Eggs: deviled, hardboiled
Nuts: peanut & nut butters on crackers, mixed nuts, trail mix, seeds
Dairy: yogurt, pudding, custard, frozen yogurt, cheese cubes, string cheese
Grains: cereal with milk, whole grain bagel with cream cheese, granola bars
Fruit: Add fruit to your meals and snacks to boost your calories.

Drink Up
These beverages are high in both protein and calories:

Dairy-based drinks: yogurt smoothies, milkshakes, whole chocolate milk, commercial eggnog
Drink mixes: hot chocolate, instant breakfast drinks
Nutritional supplement drinks: Check with your physician to determine if you need a supplement drink to meet your needs.

Active Kids Do Better in School

Active Kids Do Better in School
Fitness News Flash
-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor & Health Educator

A recent study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) investigated the link between physical activity in children and academic performance in school. Initially, researchers predicted that kids who took physical education (PE) during the school day would do better academically, since it helps reduce boredom and helps kids stay focused.

The study, reported in ACSM's official journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, examined 214 children of middle school age. All students were randomly assigned to a PE class in either the first or second semester of the school year. Researchers collected information on each student's activity level in and outside of the PE class, and compared their level of activity to their grades in the subjects of math, science, world studies and English.

Read more

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Caffeine Before Exercise Could be Risky for Some

Caffeine Before Exercise Could be Risky for Some
Fitness News Flash
-- By Jen Mueller & Nicole Nichols, Fitness Trainers

A new study suggests that drinking coffee just before a workout might not be the best idea. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports that the amount of caffeine in just two cups of coffee limits the body's ability to increase blood flow to the heart during exercise. This is problematic since blood flow to the heart must increase during exercise in order to meet the body's higher demand for oxygen and nutrients.

Study participants were regular coffee drinkers. After abstaining from coffee for 36 hours, their blood flow was measured before and after exercise. Then they ingested caffeine tablets (equal to 2 cups of coffee) and repeated the same test to measure blood floor prior to and after exercise. The caffeine did not affect heart blood flow when the participants were at rest. However, measurements taken immediately after exercise showed a 22% reduction in heart blood flow after they'd taken the caffeine tablets, compared to their previous results. Participants who exercised in a chamber simulating high altitude (15,000 feet) experienced an even greater reduction in blood flow—39% lower.

While caffeine is a stimulant, and previous studies suggest that it may enhance athletic performance, this study suggests the opposite. Caffeine does stimulate the brain, increasing awareness and concentration. Athletes who ingest caffeine before performing may feel that they are enhancing performance, but these researchers suggest that the athletes are simply more alert, awake and focused.

Action Sparked: These study results are especially important for exercisers in high altitudes and cardiac patients who already experience diminished blood flow. When blood flow to the heart is lower than the demands of the body, you won't be able to deliver enough oxygen to the muscles, brain and to the heart itself. This can result in lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting, and these effects can be much worse if a person already has high blood pressure or another heart condition. However, all exercisers should consider abstaining from coffee—and caffeine in general, whether from soda, chocolate, or pills—before working out to decrease their risk.

Instead of hitting the coffee shop on your way to the gym, try filling up your water bottle before you head out the door.


Just 2.5 hours of exercise a week could bring these AMAZING BENEFITS:

*Almost eliminate type 2 diabetes(up to 91% fewer cases)

*Reduce heart attacks by one-third

*Prevent 285,000 deaths from heart disease in the USA alone (Prevention Jan 2010 issue)

Your Metabolism

I always caution people that there are no quick fixes to weight loss, and that's true. Hard work, time, and dedication are what's needed to reach your goals! It's the only way to win lasting results.

But while slow and steady wins the race, there are still a few ways you can increase your body's calorie-burn rate! Try these tips to keep your metabolism humming at top speed during your workouts and throughout the day!

Go aerobic — choose a routine with enough intensity to make a difference! Walking, biking, cross-country skiing, swimming, and step aerobics are all great, heart-healthy choices!
Don't skip meals or snacks, especially breakfast — you'll activate your body's starvation response and actually slow your metabolic rate! Small meals throughout the day keep your metabolism burning at a steady pace.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes — after a half hour, your body starts tapping into stored energy (that is, fat) to keep moving!
Shake it up — change your workout every six weeks. Your body will have to work harder to adapt to a new routine!
Avoid alcohol and smoking — both keep your body from burning belly fat.

A few changes to your routine can give your body the boost it needs to keep burning fat. Give them a try today!

Morning Stretch Newsletter

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can You Spot the Healthy Cereals? | Women's Health Magazine

Can You Spot the Healthy Cereals?
Junk cereals love to pose as healthy breakfasts. Can you pick out the imposters in each of the eleven duos below? HINT: Fiber, protein, and vitamins are the good-guy ingredients. High amounts of sugar, fat, or impossible-to-pronounce fillers give away the killers.
By K. Aleisha Fetters
Read more click on the link

Can You Spot the Healthy Cereals? | Women's Health Magazine

Friday, March 19, 2010

Find Out Why It's Easy to Be Green

Have you "gone green" yet? There are many steps you can take to give back to the environment so we can all continue to enjoy our beautiful planet! Doing something positive for the environment is not as hard as it may seem. Here are a few simple ways you can show our planet your love — and save money and calories too!

Carry your own bags. Invest in solid canvas bags you can take with you on your weekly shopping trip so you don't have to use paper or plastic. Some stores even offer a discount if you bring your own bags.

Bring your own bottle. Instead of shelling out a buck or more for a bottle of water at the gym, fill up an aluminum water bottle at the fountain. Keep a mug or glass on your desk at work to refill at the cooler.

Pack your lunch. Cut down on restaurant take-out packaging by bringing last night's leftovers for lunch in a washable container. You'll save on calories, fat, and sodium, too!

Ride your bike — or walk! Save on gas and reduce emissions by biking or walking to work or to run errands. Public transportation is an environmentally friendly option as well. If you must drive, at least combine your errands so you can do them all in one trip. You'll save time too!

Wear a sweater. Turn the heat a few degrees lower in the winter — and a few degrees higher in the summer — to save energy. Stay warm — or cool — by dressing for the season.

Sort your garbage. Set aside paper, magazines, aluminum cans, and plastic and glass bottles for recycling. Contact your sanitation department to find out about pickup options or where to drop the recycling off. In many states, you can recycle bottles and cans at local supermarkets — and get back a deposit for each one!

Make your own gifts. For birthdays, holidays, and other occasions, create unique gifts at home instead of buying something (typically with disposable packaging) at the store. Bake or cook a special treat, give a nice piece of clothing or jewelry that you haven't worn in a long time, or write a poem on a homemade card — it's really the thought that counts!

Make it an Earth-friendly week! Try one of these suggestions on two days in the week ahead — or come up with more ideas of your own to protect the environment. The possibilities are endless!

~Morning Stretch Newsletters~

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sometimes it's not the big temptations that can ruin a diet, it's the little ones. You have the power to make good decisions!


7 Days, 7 Desserts
By Joe Wilkes

Sugary treats and drinks are so prevalent in American society that it's a real challenge to kick the white stuff, not to mention the high fructose corn syrup stuff. However, that doesn't mean that we should totally abandon our sweet tooth. After all, how could something that tastes so good be that bad for us? Our palates are conditioned to enjoy sweets because, in nature, sweetness can attract us to some of the healthiest foods, like fruits and berries. The trick is in learning to enjoy sweet foods that are closer to their natural states before all the vitamins and fiber are extracted, and we're left with just the diabetes and tooth decay. Here are some ideas for desserts that could actually be the healthiest part of the meal.

Read more....
Team Beachbody - Newsletters

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keeping up with your exercise sessions

Become a Stair Master!

Keeping up with your exercise sessions — a walk, a bike ride, a strength-training workout, a fitness class — is great and goes a long way toward burning calories and making you feel fit. But don't forget the importance of working more physical activity into your daily routine! One easy way to remind yourself is to think about every little step you take!
Simple choices, like regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator, keep your body burning calories all day long. Short bursts of activity like that can really add up — which is especially important on days when you can't find time to work out. Here are some tips on stepping your activity up a notch:

* Climb on. Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators at home, at work, and anywhere else you can. In addition to burning more calories, you'll save time — a University of South Carolina study once showed that waiting to ride an elevator takes 20 seconds longer than climbing up one flight of stairs. And you've probably seen people zip past you on the stairs while you've been stuck standing on a crowded escalator.

* Split it up. If you need to go up several flights and can't climb them all, try a combination of the stairs and the elevator. Remember, every step counts!

* Take it down. Don't forget to take the stairs on the way down too. One study of hikers in the Alps found that hiking downhill (similar to going downstairs) had unique health benefits — it helped lower blood sugar levels (whereas going uphill lowered cholesterol).

If you're used to skipping the stairs, think again (unless, of course, you have knee problems or other health concerns that make stair-climbing unsafe for you). Today, see if you can take the stairs at least once when you normally wouldn't. Then tomorrow, do it twice. In no time, you'll be a stair master!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dealing with a Migraine

It's morning. Showered, dressed, full of breakfast and out the door, you begin your day. As the morning slips into afternoon, you notice that you're becoming unusually irritable and tired. You're thirsty, drowsy, and are craving something sweet. Just before dinner, while watching TV, you become slightly lightheaded, see a few sparkling flashes of light in your vision, and develop a slight headache. Twenty minutes later, you abruptly excuse yourself from the table, holding your pounding head in your shaking hands, and get sick in the bathroom.

You're experiencing the headache of all headaches—a migraine.

While there are many forms of migraine headaches, the two most common are classic and common. The main difference between the two is onset of headache with an aura; dazzling zigzag lines, sparkling lights, and colorful flashes of fireworks in your field of vision. Classic migraines begin with pain and an aura. With common migraines, the sufferer develops a pounding headache, usually on one side of the head, spreading sometimes to the eye and jaw areas.

Health professionals agree that there may be certain circumstances that trigger migraines. Some of those triggers could be:

Infrequent eating and fasting

Sleep pattern changes
Loud noises, unusual odors, or bright lights

Hormonal changes

Food triggers such as nuts, strong cheese, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, and citrus foods

While in the throes of a migraine, it doesn't matter to you which kind of migraine you have, or what triggers it. What matters is getting fast relief. If you've had a migraine episode before, you know what precedes it, so you know what to expect. If you know a migraine is coming, following these tips may help ease the pain and shorten the length of the headache:

Use an over-the-counter medicine such as Excedrin Migraine, Extra Strength Tylenol, or Aleve.

Lie down in a quiet, dark room.

Apply a cold washcloth to your head.

Drink a soda containing caffeine, or a cup of strong caffeinated coffee.

Use relaxing massage techniques and gently massage your head, neck, face, and shoulders.

If your doctor has prescribed drug therapy, take the recommended dosage at the onset of your migraine.

Determining what triggers your migraines, and avoiding those triggers, can lessen their frequency. If you know a migraine is developing, take immediate action to stop the migraine or shorten the duration of it. If you have continued and frequent migraines, see your doctor for more ways to manage your migraines.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dangers of Not Exercising Enough

Most of us believe that the reason we need to increase our daily exercise is to prevent or counteract being overweight and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. While it is true that increasing our exercise significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and can help us to lose weight or prevent us from gaining weight, there are also a number of other issues that are directly proportionate to a lack of sufficient exercise.

First of all, muscle tone. We whine and complain about the fact that our bodies are getting flabby and out of shape as we age. Even if you are at an ideal weight you still have pockets of skin flapping in the wind. Much of this could be avoided if you were to exercise those muscle groups and increase the flow of blood to those areas. Skin is tightened not only because you are firming those muscles but because more oxygen is reaching skin cells to repair and rejuvenate them.

Then there is proven statistical data that shows a direct correlation between a lack of activity and depression. Study after study elucidates that increased exercise leads to increased blood flow to the brain which in turn brings vital nutrients that counteract some mild to moderate forms of depression. In the elderly, increased exercise also improves mental clarity.

This is a non-discriminate issue. Whether you are young or old, male or female, you need to be aware of the fact that exercise really can prevent a great number of risks. Young people need to build healthy muscles and bones and as we age we need to maintain healthy bones, joints and muscles. Also, weight is a major factor to be considered. It doesn’t take much at the beginning, but if you gradually increase your activity incrementally, you can avoid many of the dangers of not exercising enough.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Should You Eat Organic?

Q: Should I buy organic foods while following your program? Are they really better?

A: Yes! While no research proves yet that organic foods are nutritionally better for you, there are several good reasons to buy organic. For one, such foods are wholesome — and better for the environment! Produce that's labeled USDA Certified Organic is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms, and organic meats and dairy products are free of antibiotics and growth hormones. Choosing organic foods also supports local farmers who use renewable resources and promote soil and water conservation.

The downside to buying organic is that because it costs farmers more to produce these foods, they're often more expensive than conventional products. So you may want to be selective about which organic foods you buy. When it comes to produce, the fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticide residues are the ones you'd rinse before eating, such as peaches, apples, berries, bell peppers, potatoes, and spinach. Nonorganic foods that have skins or husks you'd peel off, like bananas, oranges, avocados, and sweet peas, are less likely to be contaminated. But whether or not you go organic, the most important thing is that your food choices are healthy ones!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shrimp Shack Special

Little Shrimp, Big Flavor
This dish is fun to eat and easy to make. I bet you already have most of the ingredients in your pantry! You can buy the shrimp already peeled and deveined, or you can buy them fresh at the fishmonger and set one of your kids up to do the dirty work. If you're using frozen shrimp, which is perfectly okay, thaw them in a bowl of cool water, drain them, and pat them dry. Using a premade coleslaw mix is another time-saver. And if you're really feeling pressed for time, you can use bottled cocktail sauce instead of making it fresh.


For the shrimp:
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, thawed if frozen
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

For the slaw:
2 tablespoons reduced–fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups prepared coleslaw mix
1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

For the shrimp sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
1–2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


To make the shrimp: Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the shrimp in a mound on the pan and mix with the lemon juice, pepper sauce, oil, and salt (if using). Spread out on the pan. Let stand for 10 minutes while you prepare the slaw and the sauce.

To make the slaw: In a salad bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, chili powder, pepper sauce, and salt. Add the cole slaw mix and beans and toss to mix well.

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, mix the ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the shrimp 3 to 4 inches from the heat until pink and just opaque in the thickest part, about 5 minutes.

Serve the shrimp with the sauce and the slaw.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 240 calories, 23 g carbohydrates, 25 g protein, 6 g total fat, 155 mg cholesterol, 5 g dietary fiber, 660 mg sodium

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Get Moving Outdoors!

Now that spring is almost here, the weather where you live is probably warming up (unless, of course, it's warm year-round where you live!). It's a great time to start gearing up to take your workouts outside, if you haven't already!
Exercising outdoors is one of my favorite things to do, and I highly recommend it. It's a great change of pace that will get your blood pumping and your senses engaged, and you'll soak up all that fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. You'll also get in touch with your surroundings, and maybe learn your way around a park you've never visited or an unfamiliar part of town. In addition, outdoor workouts are free — no gym memberships or class fees to worry about!

To make the most of your outdoor workout:

Dress for the elements. Wear a hat and jacket if it's cool outside, and no matter what the temperature, wear sunscreen and sunglasses to avoid sun damage.

Drink plenty of water before you start and after you finish. If you're going to work out for more than 30 minutes, carry a water bottle with you or stop for a drink during the workout.

Dress in layers, peeling them off as you warm up.

Wear reflective gear if you exercise before the sun rises or after it sets.

Bring music — you can carry an iPod with headphones — to keep you pumped up. Or, if you can, bring a friend!

Go on — take your workout on the open road! You'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 8, 2010

You'll never know — unless you try!

Celebrate the Small Victories!

Success Stories

When was the last time you watched a movie with your kids after dinner? When was the last time you and your spouse had an adults-only night out? When was the last time you ran yourself an old-fashioned bubble bath — just because you felt like it?
Life is too short not to celebrate the many wonderful reasons we have to be happy! We're all too ready to get down on ourselves for cheating on our diets or skipping a night at the gym, but we forget about celebrating the many positives in our lives, as well as the small victories we achieve all the time. Congratulating yourself along your weight-loss journey — every time you complete a difficult workout, lose a pound, or stay strong and stick to your diet during a tempting situation — will help keep you motivated, and it's a great habit to share with your family and friends. If your son gets an A on his social studies test, why don't you celebrate? If your spouse has an especially good day at work, celebrate!

Promise yourself that you'll congratulate yourself on some of the smaller achievements you make on the way to reaching your goals, as well as some of the smaller but just as important day-to-day reasons to be happy. Celebrations don't have to be big and elaborate. They can be small surprises that say, "Job well done!" or "Good for you!" (or "Good for me!"). Try to take time from your busy life to be happy and to share your happiness with others. Do something fun and unexpected, and the day will be twice as memorable!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Drink Shakeology & Win!

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~ 7 Days, 7 Snacks ~

The toughest part of the day for a lot of us is the time in between meals. The temptation to graze through the office or kitchen dipping into candy dishes, doughnut boxes, and chip bowls can be great. We may not count these "found" calories, but our scales and measuring tapes absolutely do. The best strategy is to prepare for attacks of the munchies by having your own healthy snacks on hand.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Snacking Healthy

Snacking Healthy
Add Snacks to Subtract Pounds
-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer (sparkpeople)

While some dieters happily accept when someone suggests a snack, others feel pangs of guilt when a nibble is merely suggested. However, there is nothing inherently wrong with a bite between meals. In fact, snacking might be the missing ingredient that will help you reach your weight loss goals.

But how can this make sense, since snacking theoretically adds calories?

Snacking doesn’t serve to replace a meal. In fact, you should spread meals and snacks out by an hour or two, and snacks should total a couple hundred calories or less.

Munching between meals can actually reduce your overall caloric intake by curbing overeating at your next meal. By controlling later binging, snacking can help you stay on track. You can actually use this to your advantage. If you know you are going out to a big dinner with friends later, for example, make sure you have a healthy snack before you head out so you’re less likely to order (and finish) a large entrée.

How You Snack Can Make or Break Your Diet
There is definitely a wrong way and a right way to snack. You should avoid sugary items like candy and soda, and shouldn’t be consuming enough calories to constitute a meal. Instead, steer towards foods that will satisfy you and keep you feeling fuller longer. Fruits and vegetables are always a safe bet because they are low in fat and calories. (Just be sure to avoid high-calorie dips.) Yogurt, fruit smoothies, even a slice of whole-wheat toast all make great snacks during the day. Combining lean protein, some healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates will help you feel fuller longer.

Mini Meals
Many experts are recommending several smaller meals throughout the day instead of the usual three. By eating at regular intervals, your blood sugar levels (and therefore your energy levels) remain stable. So, instead of that mid-afternoon crash, you’ll be full of vigor through dinnertime! Eating every few hours (especially if you chew on fruits and veggies) can also help add extra nutrition that might be missing from other meals.

Snacking Isn’t Grazing
Mindless eating is often the downfall of many snackers. You may start with only a handful of your favorite crackers, only to finish the entire box, without even thinking about it. Obviously, this example isn’t the healthy snacking that can help you reach your weight loss goals.

To avoid grazing:
Fill a small plate with your snack, and leave the kitchen. Just walk away. When your plate is empty, snack time is over.
Never bring the entire container with you in front of the television or computer. Enjoy your snack without distraction and you won’t be tempted to reach for more.
If you stand around the snack table chatting at a party, you may find yourself reaching for food when the conversation lulls. This can often lead to an unintentional binge because you simply aren’t paying attention to what you are eating.
Limit yourself to a single serving.
Plan out your snacks just like you would a meal. Is one cookie worth the calorie cost, when you could eat a plate of fresh fruit instead?
Practice Moderation
As with the rest of your diet, moderation is crucial when snacking. Make sure that you are adding every snack to your Nutrition Tracker, along with the larger meals you eat during the day. If you don’t keep track, you might add excess calories and fat to your diet without realizing it.

Don’t sabotage your diet with unhealthy nibbles throughout the day; stick to nourishing foods whenever possible. If you know you have a weakness for junk food, do yourself a favor and don’t purchase these items next time you are at the grocery store. Then you won’t have to fight the temptation of ice cream or potato chips when hunger pangs hit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off our goals.

Kitchen Time-Savers

Try These Five Kitchen Time-savers
It happens all the time. You got caught at work and you're rushing to get dinner on the table. No problem! You can put together a delicious meal without a lot of fuss — or a lot of time! If you're grabbing groceries on the way home, here's a great way to throw together an amazing meal.

* Choose a ready-made rotisserie chicken. You can serve it as an entrée by itself, or use the meat for fajitas, a casserole, a quick soup, or a stir-fry or as a topping for salad.

* Grab bags of precut, prewashed veggies. You can find these either in the produce aisle or at the salad bar. You'll save a ton of time!

* Put shrimp on the menu. It takes only a few minutes to cook, and it's an incredibly tasty way to add variety to your meals.

* Buy boil-in-a-bag rice. It takes only 10 minutes to prepare, and it even comes in whole-grain and brown varieties!

* Get out your wok! Stir-fried dishes come together quickly, and they're loaded with healthy veggies and protein. Totally worth it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Build Muscle to Lose Weight

I often meet people who are looking for a secret, magic weight-loss trick. They want to know how they can burn the most fat in the least amount of time. What do I tell them? I always give the same response, and that's that there isn't any magical weight-loss answer. Burning fat efficiently boils down to one thing — building more muscle!
That's right: A major key to revving up your metabolism is muscle mass. The reason? Muscles demand more energy from your body than fat does; the more muscle you add to your body, therefore, the more calories you'll be burning throughout the day. In fact, studies show that for every pound of muscle you add, you automatically burn an extra 35 to 50 calories per day — and that's while going about your normal activities. Even at rest, muscle burns almost twice as many calories as fat.

Women are often hesitant about doing the strength training with weights that's necessary to develop muscle — they're afraid they'll look too bulked up or masculine. It's time to change that thinking! Building muscles is a must when it comes to losing weight, and the exercises in your Fitness Planner won't cause you to bulk up. Rather, these strength moves tighten and tone and eventually redistribute your weight in a healthy way. Your arms and legs will feel firmer, your body will feel stronger, and you'll be burning more calories daily — even when you're sleeping! Wait — that sounds like a magic weight-loss trick to me!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just Say No! It's Okay!

Does your to-do list make you want to run and hide? Mine does sometimes, particularly because I always have several projects I'm working on and my husband and daughters are also involved in plenty of activities and events.
I really like to help out my family, friends, and neighbors whenever I can, but in the past few years I've gotten better about learning when I should say "Sorry, but no." I find that it's helpful to decide which obligations in your life are the most important — then you'll be able to prioritize. As for the others, learn to say a polite but firm no!

Saying no protects your time and energy, but it can be hard to muster the courage to do — especially if you're someone who likes to please others. To get into practice, try saying "No, but thank you for thinking of me." It helps to thank the person for the opportunity before you turn him or her down, and you'll be less likely to feel guilty afterward. You can also give the person a reason you can't help, if you have one and are comfortable sharing the information — or you can just say that you've been overextending yourself lately and need to cut back.

Yes, you'll feel guilty for a few minutes, but think how relieved you'll be afterward! I believe that it's possible to pitch in and help your friends and neighbors and kids without feeling overwhelmed and overcommitted — just decide which efforts you want to make and don't be afraid to turn down the rest. You owe it to yourself!
You don't have to do everything; just do what really matters!