Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Living and Breathing What I Teach

Living healthy, active lifestyles is not only something that I encourage on all my patients, it’s something that I value in my own life. I strive to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, not only to set a good example for my patients but more importantly to lead a long, healthy life for myself and my family. To show proof, here is how I spent my Friday.

5:15am:Alarm clock! Yes, I did snooze for 9 minutes then quickly got up, dressed, brushed my teeth and out the door we go to Crossfit.

6:00am: CrossFit WOD

Bench Press (close grip) 4-3-2-1
    (75 lbs, 85 lbs, 95 lbs, 100 lbs)

Thruster 8 min EMOM (every minute on the minute) 3-5 reps
(4 reps @ 83 lbs)

5 Minute AMRAP- 1 Turkish get up (each arm), 3 strict pull-ups, 10 wall balls (14 lbs)
3 rounds

7:15am:1 scoop of whey protein powder + 8 oz of almond milk.

9:30am:Breakfast (in between patients) of 5 eggs whites sautéed with mushrooms and spinach and ½ cup sweet potatoes + ½ avocado. I always make my breakfast and lunch meal the night before so I am stocked up and ready for the day.

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12:30pm:Lunch. Typically I have leftovers that consists of meat and veggies but since the leftovers are used up at the end of the week, I threw together a salad and plan on cooking tonight. Salad ingredients: mixed greens and baby spinach, artichokes, craisins, mushrooms, avocado, grilled chicken and walnuts with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.photo 4

2:30pm: Snack time. Gala apple with peanut butter.

photo 5

5:00pm:Pack up and head home but not before having a little fun after clinic-hours. Who doesn’t do a handstand after work to celebrate on Fridays? I also munched on some mixed nuts on my ride home and to the grocery store.

handstand

6:30pm:Dinner is fixed. Kept it simple tonight with my rosemary herbed chicken, garlic-roasted butternut squash and garlic mashed cauliflower. Can you tell my love for garlic??

photo 3

9:30pm:8 oz of chocolate almond milk–delish!

10:30pm:Lights out. Early morning Crossfit workout and lots to do on Saturday!

Eat clean, move more, spend time with family, value your sleep and make a point to have a little fun each day!


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Figge’s Favorite Things (Part Two)

Happy Holidays and welcome to the second part of  Figge’s Favorite Things. Here is the second half of my personal list of favorite things to keep you happy and healthy this season.

7. Amy Dixon-home fitness workouts Amy Dixon has always been one of my favorite fitness experts. I have had the pleasure of meeting her at several fitness conferences and learn more from her with each new session that I go to. Whether you’re an avid athlete or beginner to exercise, Amy and her team demonstrates a variety of levels and modifications to guarantee you will have a safe and effective workout. You can find her DVDs on her website  or at select Costco stores.crockpot

8. Crockpot I never thought I needed a crockpot until we received one as a wedding gift. This kitchen must-have saves valuable time for making healthy and delicious meals.

9. www.steepandcheap.com This is a great website for your outdoor adventure needs. Don’t wait too long on the deals, because they are only available for a limited amount of time.

10. DIY projects Last year I made my very first appearance in the DIY world. My first project I selected was from Michaels and was a Family Name banner.To my surprise, it was quite rewarding and made awesome gifts. DIY projects can save you a lot of money in gift-giving and provides opportunities to test your creative skills.photo 3

11. CrossFit Instinct. My crossfit journey began a little over four months ago. A co-worker had asked me if I would join her in one of the free Saturday morning classes they offer and I have been hooked ever since. Excellence shines in the coaching staff and programming at Crossfit Instinct. In just a few short months, I have accomplished fitness goals that I never thought imaginable such as unassisted pull-ups and dead-lifting over 150 lbs. Check out a free on-ramp class for yourself and see what your body is capable of doing!65

12. Mindless Eating by Dr. Brian Wansink. In this book, Dr. Brian Wansink addresses the environmental cues that cause us to overeat or have bad mindless eating habits. By making readers more aware of their surroundings, we can turn our bad mindless habits into good, healthy ones.

13.Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm: The winter months  are always difficult on my lips. Between walking the dog, snowboarding and other fun outdoor activities, my lips are always chapped, cracked and can even bleed sometimes. Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm lip ointment has been a lifesaver. Typically lip balms make my lips peel even more, but this special formula leaves them soft, smooth and protects against the harsh weather.

14. Puppies- Because who doesn’t love puppies?photo 1

          In case you missed it -Figge’s Favorite Things (Part One) .


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Move to Lose

exercise_MP900442795In the past year I have sprained my ankle while teaching Zumba, strained my back playing softball and got a nasty 5 inch abrasion on my shin at Crossfit. One of my witty family members commented to me, “That’s what you get for exercising.” My response “What does a sedentary lifestyle get you?”

A popular topic in research today is the health impacts of sedentary behaviors, specifically excessive sitting time. In fact, I’ve heard “sedentary behaviors are the new smoking” referenced in several presentations and conferences. Sedentary behaviors have taken over our country. Decreased physical activity patterns have been noted with the rise of technology (video games/tablets), changing modes of transportation and increased urbanization. We generally associate sedentary behaviors with watching television, playing video games, surfing the web, reading and knitting. However, most forget that our job positions are often sedentary activities. In fact, 95% of my day is spent sitting and talking to patients or charting on the computer.

We know that limiting sedentary behaviors is recommended for children. In fact, television or screen time should be limited to no more than 2 hours/day for children. But are there any sedentary behavior limitations recommended for adults? At present, no definitive recommendations can be made on how long adults can sit for or how often they should break up their sitting time. In one Australian study, high levels of television viewing time were associated with metabolic syndrome and its components (abdominal obesity, abnormal glucose and lipid metabolism).3 A 2003 article in the JAMA found that independent of exercise levels, sedentary behaviors, especially TV watching, were associated with significantly elevated risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, whereas even light to moderate activity was associated with substantially lower risk.1

Sometimes limited physical activity is out of one’s control, such as a job position. Wearing a pedometer can help you become more aware of how sedentary or active you are during the day. The Shape Up America program  recommends individuals aim for 10,000 steps per day (which would be close to walking about 5 miles/day). Ten thousand steps may be too great of a feat for some individuals; however, a pedometer can help track what your average amounts of steps are per day. From there, you can set personalized goals focusing on your own physical activity patterns. For example, if you average 2,000 steps per day, create a goal of increasing that to 3,000 steps per day.

In a study published in 2008, Diabetes Care, researchers investigated the importance of avoiding prolonged, uninterrupted periods of sitting time.2 This evidence suggests that recommendations need to be made to break up sitting time in addition to physical activity recommendations.

What is the best type of physical activity?

Couple Bicycling on Rural RoadThe current recommendation for physical activity for health is a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity accumulated each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. While I’d love to tell everyone to start incorporating high-intensity interval training and lifting heavy weights into their exercise routines, bottom line is, not everyone likes the same thing. I am not a fan of running and there is no way that I would wake up before work every day to go for a brisk morning jog. However, I love going to Crossfit and rarely choose sleeping in over going to an early morning class. I never saw myself as an early morning exerciser, but I found something that I love, something that motivates me and that is the reason my alarm clock is set for 5:15 a.m. every morning.

To answer the question, the best type of exercise is the kind that gets you moving!  Sure, many can argue one form of exercise is better over the other, but what matters most is the fact that you are exercising.  I encourage people to find something they love and hopefully its multiple things so that you can vary up your routine. If you can, try to participate in exercise or active movement every day. Remember to take breaks often if you have a sedentary work position, even if you already work out before or after work.

1. Frank B. Hu, et al. 2003.Television Watching and Other Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(14):1785-1791.

2. Healy, G.N, et al. (2008). Breaks in sedentary time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk. Diabetes Care, 31(4): 661-666.

3. Owen, N. (2012). Sedentary behavior: Understanding and influencing adults’ prolonged sitting time. Prev Med, 55(6): 535-539.


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Help I’ve Hit A Plateau!

dont give upAhh, the dreaded P-word. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle or increase your fitness level, almost everyone has hit a plateau sometime or another. In fact, I’ve hit several plateaus during the last couple years. The most important thing to remember when trying to overcome a plateau is change. Your body can plateau for several reasons and this often requires a change in either your diet or fitness routine. In this blog, I share my own struggles with plateaus and provide insight on how myself and many patients have overcome challenges, both fitness and diet-related.

Are you eating too few calories? Or over-exercising?

Sometimes we can become over restrictive with our caloric intake. Yes, consuming fewer calories than those that are burned off can help you lose weight, but there is a point when consuming too few calories begins to sabotage your metabolism. Not eating enough nutrients can stress the body and cause it go into starvation/fat-storing mode. When your metabolism is compromised like this, it is very hard to lose weight and actually makes it fertile ground for gaining weight. Over-exercising can also cause this severe caloric deficit. Most research suggests that consuming less than 1200 calories per day can lead to alterations in metabolism and possible nutrient deficiencies.

Be honest with yourself.

With the stress of finishing grad school and planning a wedding, I had gained a few unwanted pounds. I couldn’t figure out where the extra weight was food-diarycoming from since I hadn’t really changed my diet…or so I thought. It took having a real honest look into my eating habits to realize I had been eating out more often and was enjoying chocolate a bit too frequently at the end of the day as a stress-reliever. Restaurant-prepared menu items and desserts/sweets are two common high-calorie culprits in our diets. A good way to identify trouble zones in your eating habits is to keep a food diary for one week. You will then be able to analyze what areas you need improvements in. (ex: eating out every day for lunch, too big of portions of late-night snacks, frequent consumption of free food at work).

Do you need a snack?

Many patients have told me that they do not snack between meals because they are trying to save calories. If you’re going too long between meals (> 6 hours) or having physical hunger pains 2 hours after having a meal, then you need to plan accordingly and prepare a healthy, protein-rich snack. Remember, those hunger pains are your body’s metabolism telling you to refuel. Try to stick with snacks that have some staying power. Greek yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs are all protein-packed snacks that can satisfy hunger and increase your energy level during that afternoon slump!

Does your workout need a makeover?

I can happily say that in my first year of marriage, I stayed the same weight. What helped me accomplish this was clean eating and regular exercise. During that year, I found that increasing my strength-training frequency and backing a bit off of the cardio helped me stay happy and healthy. I’ll admit, I like to work hard at the gym and lift heavy weights, but after a year of serious strength-training, my body fat % had only marginally changed and I didn’t see the definition I was hoping for. Then I took a huge leap. I joined my local Crossfit gym. In just a few short months, Crossfit has changed me in so many ways. My arms are more defined, my legs are stronger, I can do several unassisted pull-ups in a row and more! The transformation that I am most happy with is the fact that my back is no longer hurting. Crossfit has reminded me of the importance of daily stretching and taking care of my muscles and joints.

My husband and I at Crossfit.

My husband and I at Crossfit.

Am I recommending that you should start doing Crossfit? No, it’s not for everyone, but what I do encourage people to do is find a new way to constantly challenge themselves. This could be signing up for your first 5K or walking into your very first Zumba class. Find activities that you enjoy and recruit a buddy! Having a buddy-system can help you both hold each other accountable with your fitness and health goals. Wherever your fitness journey takes you make sure it is safe, fun and filled with new challenges!

 


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National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, an educational campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Each year, a theme is chosen to help promote good eating habits and increased physical activity patterns. This year’s theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” and puts an emphasis on an individualized approach to dietary habits. We know that dietary habits are influenced by food preferences, cultural practices, environment, lifestyle and health concerns. Choosing the foods that best fit your individualized needs is this year’s focus.

In 2010, the USDA changed their nutrition education graphic from the MyPyramid to the new, colorful MyPlate. The MyPlate emphasizes filling ½ your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, ¼ with lean proteins and ¼ with grains/starch with a dairy/calcium source on the side. This method focuses on increasing nutrient intake through better portion control of our different food groups.

Vegetables: Spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and the list goes on and on! There are many ways to enjoy vegetables. You can serve them raw in a salad, roasted in the oven or grilled. Remember, the flavors and texture of vegetables change depending on the way you prepare and season them.

Asparagus is a great vegetable to add to your plate.

Asparagus is a great vegetable to add to your plate.

Fruits: Apple slices, oranges, berries, melons and avocados are wonderful additions to any meal. You can add fruit to salads, or grill them for a fun, fruit kabob.

Proteins: There are many ways to add protein to your plates. Traditionally, we think of chicken, turkey, fish, pork and lean beef, but beans, nuts, seeds and tofu are great ways to add protein for meatless meals.

Grains/Starch: Aim for whole grains to fill ¼ of your plate such as: quinoa, barley, brown or wild rice, whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread. Remember, sweet potatoes, corn and peas are categorized as a starch when using the plate method.

This individualized approach to healthy living also applies to physical activity. Personally, the thought of getting on the elliptical or running on the treadmill makes me cringe, and I wouldn’t last a day on “The Biggest Loser” because I hate when people scream at me to workout harder. But, that’s okay! I have found that I love getting cardio by dancing in hip hop and Zumba® classes, and I also thoroughly enjoy strength training. The key to engaging in regular physical activity is to find the workouts that you enjoy doing!

Format: Choosing a mode of exercise that you love will help you stay motivated and stick to your goals. If you like working out in groups, look into group fitness classes (I know a pretty fantastic instructor too :)). If you love high intensity workouts and feeling like a beast, CrossFit may be the answer for you. Swimming, water aerobics or Aqua Zumba® can be less stressful on joints for individuals with joint pain or other health concerns.

Music: Another motivator that drives our workouts is music. One of the most intimate things that you can have at the tips of your eardrums is your own personalized, sweat-provoking playlist. Whether it’s cheesy ’80s (my personal favorite), classic rock or today’s pop-country hits, choose the songs that will get your heart-pumping and body moving!

A fun way to enjoy fruit.

A fun way to enjoy fruit.

Time: One barrier of physical activity for me is always finding the time to do it. Through many trial and error experiments, I have found that going to the gym directly after work is the best time for me. For others, working out before work or during their lunch break fits best in their schedule.

“Eat Right. Your Way, Every Day”

We all have our own unique needs specific to our gender, body types, age and physical activity level. Choosing the foods that supply your body with the nutrients right for you and engaging in physical activities that you enjoy are the two components to leading healthier lifestyles.

 

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