Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Revisiting your New Year’s Goals

Previously, this year, I blogged about strategies to take your New Year’s resolutions and turn them into lifelong habits. Some of those strategies discussed included making SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound), grabbing a buddy to help you along the way, not giving up too soon on your goals and sharing your journey/achievements with others. Since I am a woman of keeping my word, I am revisiting and providing updates on my goals that I established for the year 2014.

Goal #1: Consume less diet soda.

This is incredibly embarrassing to admit, but I have had at least one diet soda every day for as long as I can remember (at least 10 years, eeek!). When I was in college, I could easily consume 4-5 diet sodas/day. Since then, I have cut back to one per day; but still was unhappy with my caffeine addiction and the fact that I was consuming chemicals and sugar substitutes as a beverage. It took a lot of courage and a lot of tries, but I finally did it! I went a whole day without having any caffeine or diet soda. I did have an 8-hour headache that tempted me all day long to go to the vending machine but my persistence and will-power overcame the temptation. The second day’s headache was much more bearable and after a few days, I was completely fine. Believe me, it has been hard but I feel so much cleaner and healthier knowing that I do not need to depend on caffeine every day and more importantly that I am no longer filling my body with chemicals from the diet soda. Giving up diet soda has been a goal I have made for several years. The fact that I knew I was going to be blogging about my journey additionally motivated me to stay on track!

Goal #2: Read more and watch less TV.

I started out really well with this goal, but like most people, after a month, I reverted back to my old nighttime TV-watching habits. I found myself saying “Oh I’ll read more this summer”, but then I realized I was only pushing back my goals with the thought “someday I’ll change.” It’s important to remember that someday is not a day during the week and to start making changes, you simply need to start them today.

Goal #3: Complete a muscle-up, body weight power clean and squat 185 lbs before the end of the year.

These are all part of my fitness goals at crossfit. In order to reach strength-related goals, it’s important to have proper programming and motivating coaches. This is one of the reasons why I love my crossfit box so much. For the month of January, I was very disciplined with eating clean, good sleeping habits and stretching both at the gym and at home. While I haven’t reached my goals with my power clean and squats, I am beyond ecstatic that I did get my first muscle-up at the end of January! Performing a muscle-up was something I really never thought I would achieve because it requires so much skill and upper body strength. Knowing now that anything is possible with hard work and dedication will help me continue to set high goals for myself.

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Spring is a perfect time to reflect on your own habits and see how well they are fitting into a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you started out on the right foot but then fell off track a bit. With Springfield Clinic’s Illinois Product’s Farmers Market starting back up and warmer weather, this is the perfect opportunity to revisit some of your old goals and make some new ones!

 


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Dietitian and Husband Approved!

img_3802If you’re like me and need a go-to recipe that’s quick, easy and doesn’t take many ingredients —then this one is for you! This recipe takes a healthy spin on a classic dish.It’s gluten-free and packed with tons of vegetable servings and lean protein.It’s perfect to make on Sunday afternoons and use as lunches for throughout the week  or enjoy it with a large group of people.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1-2 lbs of lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I used an organic garlic and herb tomato sauce)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried basil

1. Pre-heat oven to 425oF.Cut off one of the ends of the spaghetti squash. Lay the cut end down on cutting board and cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and lay flat sides down on baking dish. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender and squash threads easily with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until onions become translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink and internal temperature of 165oF is reached. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drain excess liquid and set aside.

3. Once spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to scoop out the threads into a large casserole serving dish. Add turkey and onions, mushrooms, sauce and basil and mix evenly. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together and then mix into spaghetti squash mixture. Stir until eggs are no longer visible.

4. Reduce oven to 350oF and cook mixture for 60-75 minutes or until top layer has slightly hardened over. Serve warm and enjoy!


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Green All Over!

20 Ways to Enjoy Something Green This St. Patty’s Day!

This St. Patrick’s Day try to add some healthy green into your diet!

Here are 20 ways to add something green on your plate and make a healthy choice.

1. Add spinach into a veggie omelet.

2. Scramble eggs and top with fresh salsa and diced avocado for a fiesta start to the day.

3. Throw some baby kale leaves into your favorite smoothie.

4. Swap sugar snap peas as a crunchy snack instead of chips.

imgres5. Order a side of steamed broccoli instead of fries with lunch.

6. Mix chopped green grapes and celery with grilled chicken, chopped almonds and some mayo for a fresh chicken salad.

7. Cut cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions and mix with 1 oz feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette for a light side dish.

8. Grab a jar of basil pesto and spread on 3 chicken breasts. Cook at 375oF for 30-35 minutes.

9. Add spinach leaves instead of regular lettuce to your salads or on sandwiches.

10. Top a bison burger with guacamole instead of cheese.

11. Roast asparagus in the oven or out on the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

12. Make veggie kabobs with zucchini slices, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. Marinade in Italian dressing over night before grilling.

13. Sauté fresh green beans with onions, shallots, garlic with fresh lemon juice and garnish with lemon zest.

14. Top salads with marinated artichokes, green peppers, dried cranberries and diced avocado.

15. Make turkey stuffed green peppers.

celery-peanutbut_rgb16. Spread some peanut butter on celery for a healthy snack.

17. Make a fruit salad with cut up kiwi, green grapes, strawberries and pineapple.

18. Freeze green grapes and consume for a cold, sweet snack.

19. Slice a green apple and dip in almond butter.

20. Sauté sugar snap peas with carrots, zucchini and mushrooms for some delicious stir-fry veggies.


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Start Making Healthy Changes Now

Woman Tying Measuring Tape Around Her WaistI am not an advocate for “quick fixes” like weight loss supplements, juice cleanses and the like. While quick fixes may result in fast weight loss, these results are only temporary and chances are, your depressed metabolism will cause you to rapidly gain the weight back…and then some. Seven-day or 21-day weight loss plans typically instruct you to drastically cut caloric intake and often severely limit the variation of food in your diet. Once these week-long or month-long fast diets are over with, most people resume their previous eating habits and unfortunately circle right back to square one with their weight loss efforts.

What’s unfortunate is these quick diet plans do not teach you how to eat for the long-run. You can’t drink a “body by Vi” shake forever; eventually you’re going to have to learn how to make real food for your meals. Research has shown that a multitude of different diets such as low-calorie/low-fat, high-fat/low-carb, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet, paleo dietetc., can all help individuals lose weight. Sometimes, losing weight is not the problem; it’s keeping the weight off. This fact stresses the importance of lifelong habits that one must take on, not quick diet fixes, in order to maintain their weight loss efforts. Here are some “quick” healthy changes that you can make today and turn into lifelong habits.

1. Start your day with protein. Breakfast is the most commonly missed meals reported by Americans of all ages. And when we think of breakfast, we typically think of a large bowl of sugary-sweetened cereal and a tall glass of orange juice. Breakfast meals high in these simple sugars can lead to a quick drop in energy come 9:00 a.m. Try to find ways to incorporate more protein with your breakfast meal. Add nuts into oatmeal, make a veggie omelet or pair fruit with high-protein Greek yogurt.

imgres2. Switch to water. Water is essential to one’s health and its benefits far surpass the simple purpose of hydration. Drinking more water is a habit I have been working on for quite some time now and it’s really sticking. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I previously was consuming about 4 diet sodas per day. To wean myself off of the diet soda, I would tell myself for every soda I consumed, I would have to drink a bottle of water. Now I keep a water bottle with me at all times so there are no excuses for not drinking enough water.

3. Stop serving multiple starches with meals. This is an easy fix that will help you naturally control your carbohydrate intake with your meals and make them more well-rounded. Our typical American western diet revolves around meat, potatoes, bread or some other starch like noodles and rice or corn and peas with most of our meals. Begin your meals by choosing a healthy lean protein, add one starch (preferably a healthy starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, if preferred.

4. Bring your own snacks to work. It seems almost every week, someone brings in a new “Pinterest-inspired” sweet treat to share with everyone at work. Sure, these decadent treats look great, but consuming these items regularly as snack choices can lead one to a spike in blood sugar followed by a drop in energy. Plan ahead and make sure you always have healthy, nutrient-dense snacks packed with you for your workday. If you feel bad about turning down your co-worker’s cheesecake bites, you can politely decline by saying you had already packed an apple with almond butter for your snack today. Or a simple, “No thanks, but thanks for asking,” always does the trick too!

exercise_02F026015. Exercise. Daily physical activity is one of the most important keys for a healthy metabolism and weight management. It’s time to put the “excuse book” away and start moving today.


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The Biggest Loser’s Big Surprise

Alright, I’ll admit it! Since blogging about my concerns with the Biggest Loser’s methods last year, I eventually succumbed to the entertainment aspect of the show and actually watched the rest of the entire season. The season finale, the ultimate climax of the show, recently aired revealing the dramatic changes contestants achieved during their stay at the ranch and at home. The show certainly delivered its shares of oos and ahhs but the most jawRachel- BIGGEST LOSERdropping reaction occurred when contestant Rachel Frederickson (this season’s winner) stepped out on stage revealing her shocking transformation. Rachel started the competition at 260 pounds and through the course of the show achieved a weight loss of 155 pounds. This made her finale weight a fragile 105 pounds. The show originally aired on  October 15, 2013; however this was not live at the time so she lost 59.62% of her body weight over the period of 7 months (per interview with the TODAY show). According to online sources, Rachel is 5’4” which gives her a new BMI of 18.0. A healthy BMI is recognized as 18.5-24.9. Her ideal body weight is actually around 120 pounds.

There has been an uproar on social media over her unhealthy finale appearance. To be honest, I feel bad for her. For years, Rachel has struggled with being overweight and now critics are attacking her for being too thin. The Biggest Loser is great for a multitude of reasons but it also has a dark, scary side that often doesn’t make it on camera or in the news. I have had several patients proclaim to me “I just want to lose 10 lbs in a week like the people on the Biggest Loser do.” This is one of the main reasons the show can promote unhealthy ideals about weight loss. Past contestants have come forward stating that their “weekly” weigh-ins were often never just a week.

Others have reported that they manipulated their weigh-ins by dehydrating themselves. This is a common tactic used by body builders, wrestlers and other athletes in order to make a low “weigh-in” for an event/competition.

the-biggest-loser-bob-harper-jillian-michaels-rachel-frederickson-reaction-nbc

Rachel’s story is a very common one. Sometimes when individuals begin losing weight, an obsession takes over and many people become fearful of gaining the weight back. This can lead to dangerously low caloric intake levels and patterns of over-exercising. Exercise should help make your body stronger, not break it down. Yes, cutting back on calories can help weight loss occur faster, but taking in too few of calories also presents its own set of complications. The body has unique defense mechanisms when too few calories are consumed. One of the most noticeable functions is amenorrhea ( the absence of a period) Women have a menstrual cycle because their bodies are preparing for potential conception. When a woman doesn’t have a period (in the case of low body weight), this is the body’s way of testifying that it is not in a healthy state to support the growth of another life . Women also have the increased risk of osteopenia with low body weights. Additional symptoms of prolonged low-calorie intake may include head hair loss and lanugo (growth of fine hair on body), dry skin, brittle nails, irregular heartbeats, impaired temperature regulation, constipation and even cognitive impairment.

A unique way to illustrate our caloric needs is to show where those nutrients go. Below is an illustration for the average college female and male’s needs. These are examples of baseline needs to sustain life if an individual were to sleep for 24 hours. When you factor in being awake, activities of daily living and exercise, one’s calorie needs can greatly increase.

 

 

Female

Male

Heart

12%

168

216

Kindey

12%

168

216

Liver

23%

322

414

Brain

23%

322

414

Skeletal Muscle

30%

420

540

 

Total

1400

1800


Healthy eating can be defined many ways. I like to think of healthy eating as consuming foods that are highly nutritious for the body most of the time while still allowing for a little “fun” in food choices . Healthy eating is eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Healthy eating is trusting your body and metabolism and knowing that you will not be punished for having a small indulgence from time to time. Before you quickly judge Rachel and her appearance on the Biggest Loser’s finale, consider the unrealistic ideals of weight loss she has been surrounded by, most notably the pressure to lose as much weight as possible with each weigh-in on the show. She will have a long journey ahead of her overcoming some of the psychological problems associated with rapid weight loss, and finding what a true healthy weight and healthy lifestyle she can maintain in the “real world”. 
 

Photo Credit : UsWeekly, Biggest Loser


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How Carb Smart Are You?

Carbohydrate-food-shot-carbsWhat do breads, cereals, fruits, juices, milk, yogurt, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, vegetables, soda and desserts all have in common? If you didn’t already guess it from the title, it’s Carbs. When asked what foods contain carbohydrates, bread, pasta and potatoes are the most commonly identified. Many people do not realize that carbs are actually found in almost our entire food supply with the exception of meats, cheeses and fats.

As Americans, we generally consume way too many carbs throughout the day. Most breakfast meals include toast, Poptarts, pancakes, biscuits or cereal followed by sandwiches, pizza, spaghetti and burger and fries for the rest of the day. These foods are also highly processed menu items that often contain preservatives and other added chemicals.

Do I feel that carbs are contributing to many of our current diseases and illnesses? Absolutely. Does that mean that in order to be healthy, one must cut out all carbs? Not at all.  In fact, many athletes actually need to increase their carbohydrate intake to ensure optimal performance. Research has shown that vegetarians, who are known for having high-carb diets, tend to have reduced risks for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.1

Going “low-carb” is a very popular diet trend to lose weight. While consuming fewer carbohydrates can help decrease circulating levels of insulin, which in turn can help the body switch to a fat-burning mode, weight loss is typically more attributed (but not conclusive in all studies) to the combination of consuming fewer calories, better food choices, less processed foods and improved physical activity habits. Researchers in a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that low-carb diets may give individuals a “metabolic advantage” meaning that more weight loss may be achieved per calories consumed (versus the same amount of calories consumed from a standard high-carb meal plan).2  

This is a very controversial subject since these findings somewhat violate the laws of thermodynamics. Since there is no consensus on what low-carb actually is (for some studies it’s a mere 5% of total calories and for others it’s defined as 45% of total caloric intake), the term smart-carb has become more popular.

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Today, research is investigating the health benefits of low-moderate carb meal plans:

  • Following a “smart-carb” diet in addition to exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity and assist in weight reduction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • A Duke University study found that obese individuals with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-carb diet versus a low-glycemic diet experienced greater weight reduction and greater reduction in HgbA1C. In this same study, most of the subjects (95.2%) in the low-carb group were able to reduce or eliminate their diabetic medications compared to only (62%) in the low-glycemic group.3
  • There also appears to be some variation in low-carb meal plans. A group of Swedish subjects showed greater benefits in waist circumference reduction and improved blood sugar control when following a diet based of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs and nuts (paleo diet) when compared to a subjects who followed the Mediterranean diet.4
  • The obvious concern with consuming a low-carb diet is the increased fat intake and potential increased risk for heart disease. Fortunately, studies are confirming that higher fat intake when associated with a low-carb diet may not be as big of a problem as once thought.

Low-carb meal plans may not always be the best, but choosing smart-carb lifestyles such as the Mediterranean and Paleo lifestyles are much more suitable for day to day living. Here are a few ways to smarten up your carb choices.

  • Nix pretzels, crackers, chips and granola bars and opt for healthier carb and non-carb snack food choices such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt and nuts.
  • Vary up your breakfast meal. Swap sugar-sweetened cereal and refined white bread for a veggie omelet, turkey sausage frittata or fruit with Greek yogurt.
  • Serve vegetables with a side of vegetables. Many people state that they always have to have a starch with their dinner meals. Why not swap the rice and pasta for vegetable starches such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash or spaghetti squash?
  • If choosing grains, consider whole grain choices such as oatmeal, quinoa or wild rice.

Remember, limiting carbs is not the only way for improved health. The mere reduction of processed foods in one’s diet can have positive health effects.

  1. American Heart Association. Vegetarian Diets. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp
  2. Westman, E., et. Al. (2007). Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 276-284. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/2/276.full.pdf+html?sid=ac06d160-abd0-4ba6-8a19-8b5560469446
  3. Westman, E.C., Yancy, W,S, Jr., Mavropoulos, J.C., Marquart, M. and McDuffie, J.R. (2008).The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition and Metabolism, 5, 36. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/5/1/36
  4. Lindeberg, S., Jönsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., et al. (2007). A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia,50(9):1795-1807.


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Let’s Get Fit

gymsIt’s that time of year again. Group fitness classes are packed, parking spots are limited and time limits on cardio equipment are more heavily enforced. It’s the New Year and everyone is hitting the gym. The New Year’s gym trend occurs all over. When I was teaching in college, students would line up outside the fitness studio at least 30 minutes before class began to ensure they would get a spot. Instructors loved having the large class participation and, quite honestly, it was a huge adrenaline rush. However, after spring break had come and gone, class sizes usually dropped down to less than 50% of the previous quarter’s numbers.

First and foremost, I commend anyone who is focusing on making their life healthier by becoming more physically active. But a healthy, long life is not made by only going to the gym three months out of the year. If you are embarking on a new fitness journey, here are some key tips to remember:

Do NOT compare yourself to others. Even to this day, I still catch myself doing this from time to time at Crossfit. I’ll watch fellow crossfitters, whom I see as equal athletes to myself, deadlift more, row faster and perform more burpees than me. Something I tell my fitness participants in spinning class is “Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20” and these words could not be any truer in my situation. Comparing oneself to others is one of the biggest fitness/health mistakes one can make as it often overshadows our own accomplishments and feats. When I started Crossfit 6 months ago, I needed a band in order to do a pull-up. Today, I can knock out 5 unassisted, strict pull-ups and I often overlook these strength gains I have made by too frequently comparing myself to others. When you’re in a class or working out on your own, don’t compete against the person exercising next to you. If you’re going to compete against someone, compete against yourself. See if you can push a little harder or match your previous workout’s accomplishments and remember the person working out today is much healthier than the person who was sitting on the couch yesterday.20110952-crossfit-fitness-trx-training-exercises-at-gym-woman-and-man-side-push-up-workout

It’s okay NOT to do what everyone else is doing in class. In any fitness class, you are going to have a wide variety of people with different fitness and experience levels. A great fitness instructor will demonstrate several modifications for an exercise so that everyone can equally participate in class. Stick with the variation that comfortably challenges you. Typically there are at least three levels of modifications for most exercises, and your instructor should show all varieties and perform the middle modification for the majority of the class. If you feel that there were not enough modifications given, talk to your instructor during one of the drink breaks or after class. Their job is not to “get paid to work out” rather they should be providing guidance, knowledge and motivation to group fitness participants.

Bring water. Water is essential when someone is exercising. A good rule of thumb is to take a drink of water every 10-15 minutes (or even more often when exercising intensely) when working out. Remember to continue to drink water after your workouts since a large amount of fluid is lost through perspiration. I took my first spinning class over 7 years ago. I specifically remember thinking, “This can’t be that hard, I ride my bike outside all the time. Why would I need a water bottle?” Four minutes into class, I was seen racing to the vending machines to purchase a water bottle.

Wipe down equipment before and after you use it. You are never guaranteed that the person before you wiped down the piece of equipment after they had used it. This is why I always wipe down my weight or cardio machine before I begin my exercise. With cold and flu season in full swing, the gym is a breeding ground for sickness with so many people together in an enclosed setting.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.123rf.com/


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Set SMART goals

Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.smart goal setting concept

Specific- A good goal is clear and unambiguous. Instead of stating, “I will eat healthier” try setting a goal of “eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day”.

Measurable- Set a goal that allows you to monitor your progress.

Attainable- Sometimes we set goals that are unrealistic. Do not confuse the term unrealistic with impossible. Everyday people are making the once impossible, possible.

Relevant- Connecting an internal meaning with your goal makes it all that more important and can help you keep focused on the finish line. Setting goals that have little to no value to you typically will not be achieved.

Time Bound- Setting a time-frame to achieve your goal can help fuel motivation and keep you on track towards your healthier habit. Goals without time limits often get brushed aside and swept underneath the carpet.

Ask yourself, “Are your daily habits reflective of your healthy goals?” Often our actions are communicating the opposite of what our goals are. If your goal is to become more active (which is too broad of a goal to begin with), yet you come home and sit on the couch and watch TV all evening; how are your actions helping you achieve your goal? Remember, there are several dimensions of health, such as emotional, social and the more well-known, physical dimension. Try to set goals that encompass more than one dimension to improve your overall wellness.

Blog about it. No, it does not need to be a formal blog, but research shows that people who share their goals and health journey with others tend to stay more on track . This could be achieved simply by telling a friend or a co-worker about your goals and then providing them with updates along the way. You could keep a personal journal to reflect when you feel you are losing motivation. The social media network has created a perfect foundation for sharing your health journey with others. And since I have a blog myself, I am going to do just that.

My SMART Goals:

Diet Coke

1) Consume less diet soda.-I will cut back the amount of diet soda I drink to only a couple during the week and eventually will work on weaning it completely out of my diet.

2) Read more and watch less TV. Any competition that involves food, dancing, sewing or singing typically calls my name, but I have a stack of amazing nutrition books I’ve been meaning to read. I plan on reading 1 new book every 4-8 weeks.

3) Complete a muscle-up, body weight power clean and squat 185 lbs before the end of the year. My current max squat clean is 118 lbs and I can squat 155 lbs. These exercises are a shear test of upper and lower body strength as well as coordination and core stability. My habits to help attain this goal will be going to Crossfit regularly, fueling my body with proper nutrition and hydration and scheduling appropriate rest/recovery phases to allow for muscle growth and hypertrophy.

Check in here on my blog throughout the year as I update my progress with achieving my healthy living goals.

Summary of goal setting.

1) Don’t give up too quickly. Sometimes new habits need as long as a couple of months to become routine-like in our lives.

2) Grab a buddy to help you stay on track with your goal.

3) Set SMART goals, the more specific the goal, the easier it is to monitor and achieve.

4) Document your progress whether it’s a personal journal, telling a friend or family member or using a social media network.

5) Observe your actions and habits and see how they are helping you get closer to achieving your goal.

6) Any day is a great day to start making healthier habits, not just Monday, New Year’s Day or your birthday.


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Weighing in on The Biggest Loser

Jillian Michaels, April 2011Millions tune in each week to watch contestants on The Biggest Loser transform their bodies through sweat, tears and motivation from their coaches and teammates. The climax of the show occurs when each contestant weighs in to determine if their weight loss is enough to keep them in the competition for another week.  I have never been a fan of The Biggest Loser mostly because of its unrealistic environment for weight loss and style of personal training.

I’m sure shows like The Biggest Loser serve as a positive medium for individuals desiring to start their own weight loss program. The purpose of the show is to show viewers, “if we can do it, then you can do it too.” What I do want to point out is that these contestants on the show are not working 40 hours a week, taking kids to soccer practice, running errands and preparing meals for their families. They are living in a wellness safe haven where they have no other obligation other than to work out, eat healthy and learn more about healthy lifestyles. While all of these actions are quite attainable when working full-time and managing a family, one’s results may not be as drastic as the ones shown on TV. When following a healthier diet and more active lifestyle, one can typically expect to lose a half to 2 pounds per week. Some can experience as much as a 3-5 pound weight loss in one week. While contestants on The Biggest Loser may lose 7-15 lbs in one week, keep in mind that weight losses of this high value generally are not body fat losses, rather it is more due to a loss of water weight. Your body also has a much harder time adjusting its metabolism to dramatic weight losses. This is the reason people gain all of their weight back (and then some) after going on a short-term drastic diet that produces a rapid weight loss.

There are many styles of coaching and training. There’s the compassionate coach, the motivating coach and then there’s the screamers. Screaming at personal training clients does not necessarily get results in the real world, but it does increase ratings for NBC. The screaming has always turned me off about the trainers on The Biggest Loser. Simply because I would never use this method with my own clients and yet I could still help them get just as good of results. Some people need that military-enforcement style of coaching in order to get results, but again, it’s just not my style. Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels have certainly made a brand for themselves. Most people who watch the show associate Bob and Jillian as symbols of health. They endorse food products, home DVD workouts and even…fat-burning “supplements.”

Cover of "The Biggest LoserWhile there are many good aspects of the show, my overall feelings towards it are not that positive…and a recent episode sealed the deal for me.  I was flipping through the channels while I was cooking andstopped on The Biggest Loser when I saw the contestants were competing in a challenge for immunity for that week’s weigh-in. This challenge required contestants from each team to blindly pick a pumpkin to see if the immunity flag was hidden inside. If the immunity flag was recovered, then that team was safe from elimination that week. If a contestant did not choose the winning pumpkin, they were forced to eat whatever was inside the pumpkin, which included a myriad of chocolate candies and pies. I was absolutely flabbergasted that the show was requiring contestants to do this. One contestant cried out “I don’t even like pumpkin pie” yet he ate the entire piece for the sake of the game. Is this telling our viewers that we should eat something, even though we do not like it or even if we are not hungry?

As the game went on, contestants were giving testimonies regarding how hard their workouts were going to be in order to burn off all the extra calories. So now we are using exercise as a form of punishment for eating chocolate?  I agree that there should be a balance of calories consumed versus calories burned, but using exercise as a form of punishment can quickly develop into negative thoughts and behaviors revolving around exercise in general. Growing up, no one ever wanted to do a suicide drill or burpees on their own, simply because these exercises were usually reserved as a form of punishment for not getting enough offensive rebounds, missed volleyball serves or missed free-throw shots. Bottom line is exercise should not be used as a form of punishment.

Shame on The Biggest Loser for sending negative health messages to viewers and for not fostering a positive healthy environment for your contestants. I do understand that most of the contestants walk away from the show in a much better state of health than they were when they started, but these results can certainly still be achieved without some of the ridiculous tasks put onto these participants.  


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Becoming Stronger Than Your Excuses : Part Two

mid section view of a woman cutting vegetablesYou don’t have to go fast–you just have to go.

A friend told me a quote her mother would say, “Never start new diets on Friday.” Unfortunately, many people have this mentality that they will start their new diet or new exercise habits tomorrow or someday. And then tomorrow turns into next week and next week turns into after football season and the cycle continues on and on. Sound familiar? Bottom line is, you need to start making healthy changes TODAY. When you are not prioritizing your health, you make an easy entrance for illness and disease to come into your life.

Someday is not a day during the week. Many people like to use  the weather for their barrier to exercise. Many patients state that they will walk more when the weather gets warmer. And when I see those patients again 3-6 months later, many will claim that it was too hot to walk outside. I agree, the weather in Illinois can be quite ferocious and can throw a curveball into anyone’s outdoor exercise routine. However, there are so many opportunities to increase one’s physical activity indoors. Ten-dollar gyms have sprung up like

English: A picture of the inside of a remodele...

wildflowers, especially here in central Illinois. Most people can afford a $10/month gym membership. I’ve even had people state that they cannot afford that; but, when you look into someone’s unhealthy habits $10 is the same amount one would pay to go through a drive-thru and get a value meal or what you would spend on  a couple of packs of cigarettes.You can also take advantage of free walking opportunities such as the mall or large department stores. Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Menards are great stores were you could easily walk a mile simply by making a few laps around the perimeter.

You can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow. You have the power to choose.

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