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A Halloween Candy Scare!

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http://www.skinnymom.com/2014/10/10/hauntingly-healthy-halloween-treats/

Spooky, frightful, chilling party events, ghost stories and dress-up costumes are all part of Halloween fun but the party food and drink, trick or treating and left over candy can be the death of all us all!

Halloween is an Irish custom celebrated since the 1900’s.  It is considered the Celtic New Year  marking the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Customary orange representing a bountiful harvest and the turning color of  leaves, while black   symbolizes the “death” of summer and the changing season.

While the cultural experience of Halloween like carving Jack-o-Lanterns, bobbing for apples  and medieval folklore are rooted in this holiday, if you are not too frightened to learn more about the scare of the holiday then dare to check this out, “13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained”, http://www.livescience.com/16677-halloween-superstitions-traditions.html.

It seems that these traditions have been tossed into the witches cauldron only giving way to a candy fest. More candy than you may want to believe. Second only  to Halloween costumes, it seems candy was the second-largest revenue generator increasing by almost 3% in 2013 to total $2.25 billion,  http://www.ibisworld.com/media/2013/10/14/halloween-sales-grow-slow-3-0-percent-2013/.

Halloween traditions are dying and it all boils down to dollars and cents, lots of candy and in the end an evening that haunts us forever with health and weight problems.

Don’t get me wrong a little bit of candy won’t kill you. But, if your Halloween events are anything like what I have experienced it includes tables full of cupcakes topped with creepy spiders, candy apples dripping in caramel and sprinkles, oh and yes the actual trick or treating that adds up to hundreds of thousands of sweet treats that look harmless but actually wreak havoc on blood sugar and insulin levels causing cravings,  leading to eating more, gaining weight and life-long health problems.

Whether eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup or fat-free licorice (see chart below) there is not much of a difference.  A nutrient-LESS treat that contains 100% sugar and carbs without any fat or a high in fat and high sugar junk food will both damages blood sugar and insulin balance.  The ingredients they both contain (i.e. corn syrup) still directly causes weight gain, spikes and dips in blood sugar, insulin surges and all the consequences that surround hormonal imbalance including mood swings, hunger, heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance  and much more. So do NOT be fooled into thinking that fat-free is health consequence free.

  Reese’s peanut butter cup licorice
Calories 200 210
Carbohydrates (g) 24 46
Sugars (g) 21 29
Fat (g) 13 0

 

Use these tricks of the nutrition trade for your healthy Halloween:

  1. Be generous. Share your candy and even a toothbrush with the men and women who serve and protect our country. Operation gratitude helps spread the Halloween spirit by sending candy, tooth brushes and toothpaste to troops overseas. https://www.operationgratitude.com/wp-content/gallery/photos/album36/halloweencandygiveback_2011.jpg.
  2. Eat a large amount of healthy food and be full before the big party or before going trick or treating.
  3. If you are hosting, serve real food. Leave no room for lots of junk food.
  4. Plan to use non-food items and fill time with fun-filled activities as part of the Halloween festivities.
  • Hand out tattoos, spooky plastic rings, false teeth, stickers, bouncy balls and use them in a “funniest” costume contest.
  • Use small plastic spiders, mini-ghosts, or skeletons in a scavenger hunt. Don’t forget the Halloween-themed pencils and erasers for the check off list.
  1. Cut the sugar carbs and fat from junk and commercially prepared foods from your daily eating and drinking regimen for 1-2 weeks in preparation for October 31st.
  2. Revisit Halloween with a little tradition on fright night try: ghost stories or movies, bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, pin the spider on the web.
  3. Instead of eating chocolate, use it for a facial!

Celebrate a healthy Halloween, take gluttonous candy eating out and put the tradition of spook back into fright night.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in holiday

 

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30 Tactics To Maneuver Holiday Humps and Bumps (Part 1)

 

Whether you are trying to lose weight or train for an athletic event, holidays, birthdays and “special” events can interfere with even the most dedicated dieters.  ‘Tis the 6-month season, (October-February) for parties, family and social events galore. Utilize this month to plan and get over holiday humps and bumps.

30 Tactics For Holiday Eating

  1. Honesty is the best policy. Plan a “stick to strategy” and be honest with yourself about your ability to stick with it despite temptation.
  2. Prioritize your “stick to strategy” plan. It must be up front and center in your mind all the time. Never let your goal out of sight or mind.
  3. Create a practical plan. It is up to you. Will you stay the course? Will you strategize “cheats” that you can manage and maintain your weight? Will opt for weight maintenance until the spring?
  4. Enlist support. If you have supporters, you will feel more comfortable and less stress when eating with family or friends during meals.
  5. Stick to your guns. You must physically be able to control your actions. This is where numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 come together because unless you decide to control your actions, none of the above will work.
  6. Be Active. Never get too busy or lazy to stay active, especially during the next 6 months.
  7. Rest and de-stress.
  8. Pay attention to every little thing you put into your mouth.
  9. Convenience. Make healthy eating convenient. If it means eating salads from McDonald’s instead of French fries or keeping cut veggies in the fridge. Just do it. Make unhealthy eating as inconvenient as possible. Do not buy any food that is not on your plan, walk away from a cafeteria filled with junk and vending machines.
  10. Avoid hunger. Being hungry is the perfect excuse to eat what you shouldn’t.
  11. Daily motivation. What motivates you? A dress, a person. Identify what motivates you and get your daily dose no matter what.
  12. Just say, “No, thank you”. Practice avoiding foods or situations that you know are goal deterrents. Rehearse the scene in your mind. Practice saying, “No” out loud and in uncomfortable situations. You will prove to yourself it can be done.
  13. Enjoy the smell of flowers or any scent that may distract you from eating. Smells may be more satisfying than eating the actual food sometimes.
  14. It’s all about attitude. Positive attitude weighs heavily on success. You are not depriving yourself of anything but feeding yourself delicious foods you choose that will help you get what you really want.
  15. Choices, your choice to be honest with yourself, to maintain a positive attitude, to stick with the plan etc… will make or break this deal. Stick with choices that will help you attain your goals.

Start practicing these fifteen strategies now. There is no time to waste, the holidays are here. The next six months are filled with humps and bumps that will test your diet commitment and will power. Next week I will post a blog explaining what Halloween “boils” down to and how to make it little healthier. Then, I deliver the last 15 tactics on November 3rd.

 

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Tailgate and Feel Great!

What’s a football game without tailgating? Tailgating takes the fun of the game and makes it even more F-U-N! There is nothing much better than hanging with friends and family while eating, drinking and being merry regardless of whether your football team is winning or not…now that is the spirit! Especially since according to NFL VP-Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski, 44% of the NFL fan base is now women!

Tailgating is not just for football anymore, it has spread to other sporting events like baseball, soccer… and even into the home. “Homegating” is similar to a super bowl party, ya just don’t have to wait ’til the end of the season to celebrate. If you find yourself hosting and need some supplies, you will find some interesting ideas here, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/01/nfl-homegating-essentials-_n_2224060.html.

Whether tailgating or homegating, the party experience does not have to be a complete foul on your health or waist.  For those who have health concerns (like obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or insulin resistance) having an all-or-nothing mind-set, like, “I can’t eat this or can’t drink that” or “What the hell, it’s a party, I’m gonna eat whatever and deal in the morning,” is not a winning attitude.

Find a balance. Eat, drink and be healthy!

PARTY TIPS

If, or should I say when, you drink alcohol (similar to sugar/carbs) or indulge in party fare, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Do not load up on the carbs, like chips, heros and hot dog buns.
  2. Drink low carb beer or hard liquor (vodka, rum, gin) with a sugar-free mix (sugar-free lemonade, diet soda…).
  3. Save up by cutting down on extra food and drinks during the week.
  4. Stay away from seconds, one helping is enough.
  5. Do not go to a party hungry, I guarantee a disaster. Eat healthy foods before you get to the party and limit what you eat once you get there.

Also, see “Better options” below and you may find these sites to be helpful:  Carb counts for alcohol: lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/alcbev.html, and, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/tailgating-foods-super-bowl-low-carbs-2181.html for low carb tailgating food options.

Better options to eat while “gating” at home or the game

Munchies

crudités with deviled eggs, chicken or tuna salad

pigs no blanket

marinated mushrooms

low carb Swedish meatballs

mozzarella basil and tomato skewers

cold cut cigars: any cold cut, rolled up with lettuce and cheese

Real Meal

low carb cole slaw

salad

grilled vegetables

turkey legs

grilling meat (hot dog, burger, shrimp, fish or chicken)

BBQ wings (not fried)

lunch meat and cheese cigars (ham turkey roast beef cheese roll-ups)

bratwurst

sausage and peppers

Add on’s

guacamole

salsa

mustard

mayo

Need an  interesting dip? Try these recipes, http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/cold-crab-dip-recipe.html.

 Don’t forget the other game, activities are an important part of any “gating ” party.

Make sure there is an activity to participate in so that there is a focus on something else aside from just indulging and sitting on the couch. Between quarters get up and move.

magnetic darts

ring toss

Bocce ball

horse shoe

ladder toss

Whether you tailgate or homegate enjoy the event while making good food choices.  Do not toss in the towel for a party. Be smart. While you do not have much control of the final game score, the BIG “health” score is yours. Fire up the grill and let the party begin. Relax, balance your goals and enjoy the game.

 

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Live Your Life

Dream walk

 

Sometimes simplicity makes an impression. This quote applies to everyone and reaches into all aspects of life: nutrition, health, business, in social or political arenas… Let these words serve to help you achieve your dreams no matter what they are and to improve your life.  Don’t walk around with your head in the clouds.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in health

 

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Multitasking Mobility Strategies Get The” F” Into Your Workout

Can’t really disagree with the value of being active or even a hard-core work-out. One big problem is that the “F” (flexibility) is often left out of the equation and this mistake could cost you. In order to do any movement, activity (low or high intensity) or sport, joints and muscles need to be in well working order. Alignment and “F” are important for range of motion (ROM) and mobility, without it life can get pretty boring.

Think about it.  If you can’t move, you can’t get in or out of bed (forget about what else you might do while in bed), bend or sit down, pick up, get up or anything you might do on a daily basis.

Just like the alignment in your car affects the efficiency and handling of how it drives (i.e. the car pulls in a different direction or the wheels feel shaky), your body’s alignment will have the same effect on how you move and your susceptibility to injury. Details on how you can test your flexibility and why joint stretches are important are here, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/joint-mobility-drills/#axzz3DVijXHkg.

Taking time to stretch or do a mobility (the ability to move with that ROM within a specific activity pattern) drill can improve joint fitness and flexibility with improved ROM. These movements increase oxygen delivery to the muscles as increased blood flows to the muscle. Therefore it can help improve movement, exercise performance and avoiding an injury.

Planned work out sessions do not have to be longer when adding a stretch or mobility drill. They will  just be more efficient. These activities can be done on “rest days” or incorporated into rest periods of high intensity work-outs. Gains in flexibility can be achieved by practicing yoga or tai chi if interested. If not try these stretching and mobility moves, http://www.changingshape.com/how-to-stretch/#the-quad-stretch:

  • Static Stretching is the most common form of a stretch. It is stretching a body part to its farthest position and then holding it for about 10-30 seconds. Helps improve muscle elasticity.
  • Passive Stretch is similar to static stretch except you use a partner or object to help the stretch. For example, using the stairs to do a calf stretch.
  • Isometric Stretching is done with a partner who helps the stretch while you resist or use force in the opposite direction. For example, your partner helps lift and hold your leg up while you try to “force” your leg down.
  • Ballistic Stretching should only be done by professionals because the stretch goes beyond its normal ROM. This type of stretch incorporates twenty sets or more of repeated bouncing.
  • Dynamic Stretch occurs when the arms and legs gently swing within their own ROM and gradually increase the speed of the movements with practice.
  • Active Isolated Stretching can actually increase muscle elasticity and circulation. It is not easy. An example would be to lift or kick your leg up in the air then hold it with your hand.
  • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation can help improve strength and flexibility and is a combination of isometric, static and passive stretching.

If none of this inspires you, consider a mobility strategy that includes multi-tasking during rest periods of high intensity work-outs. Between intervals, instead of just standing there, incorporate spine, glute, hamstring, hip flexor and lat mobility drills, http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/stretch-or-die#sthash.TPbHR2Y0.dpuf. These videos will help you better understand how to create your own mobility strategy: http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/3-ways-to-work-mobility-and-stretching-into-your-workouts or watch it here, http://roglawfitness.com/the-minimalist-guide-to-mobility/ and   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhxIjaII7DI.

Take care of your joints and muscles. Get “F” and ROM into your fitness goals. Stay mobile, stay aligned and stay active.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in exercise

 

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Artificial Sweeteners Another White Powder To Avoid

 

Anyone just happen to read the New York Times on Sept 17.? Yeah, In big bold letters, ” Artificial sweeteners (AS) may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that can be a precursor to diabetes”, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/artificial-sweeteners-may-disrupt-bodys-blood-sugar-controls/.

Powerful and very important message don’t ya think? The non-caloric sugar substitute created to help cut sugar from the diet and increase food options for diabetics, help lower calories and aid in weight loss has just been found to do the exact opposite. After all these years of throwing our money down the drain (paying more for these products too)and acting as human guinea pigs we now find out this food ingredient causes the very same problems it is trying to correct.

The business of selling and adding artificial sweeteners to the food supply is a $2-4 billion dollar business. Unfortunately, the public has paid for that with our health.

The study The New York Times refers to is published  in “Nature” and  the researchers, Eran Elinav et. al., from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel found that AS changed gut bacteria causing fluctuations in sugar metabolism that mimic diabetes. Admittedly the sample size for the experiment is small but I believe that even if it happens in one, it is possible to repeat itself in others. If you are that one, it is very relevant to you.

The researchers did consecutive trials:

  1. Mice were fed plain water, water with Sweet’N Low, Splenda or Equal, water with sugar or glucose. The mice who drank water with artificial sweeteners “developed marked glucose intolerance” as a result of changes in the natural gut flora. The mice with glucose intolerance were then given antibiotics that killed the gut flora and the glucose intolerance went away.
  2. Researchers also took a sample of the gut bacteria in the mice that were glucose intolerant and then injected the bacteria in mice that had never consumed artificial sweetener. The injected mice then developed glucose intolerance. “DNA sequencing showed the artificial sweetener changed the variety of bacteria in the guts of the mice that consumed it.”
  3. Then the researchers compiled data on 381 non diabetic individuals and found a connection  between “the reported use of any kind of artificial sweeteners and signs of glucose intolerance. In addition, the gut bacteria of those who used artificial sweeteners were different from those who did not.”
  4. For one week, seven human volunteers (who normally did not use artificial sweeteners) “consumed the maximum amount of saccharin recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration. In four of the seven, blood-sugar levels were disrupted in the same way as in mice.” Then they used bacteria from the four volunteers who developed glucose intolerance and injected it into the gut of mice. The mice, then also developed glucose intolerance.

Seems pretty straight forward right?  Yes but there is so much more to take from this if you read between the lines:

  1. Gut bacteria seems to be another point of interest in understanding blood sugar disorders.

2.This research seems to suggest that there may be a variety of ways blood sugar abnormalities occur and some may at least originally be independent of insulin            abnormalities.

  1. While the information is compelling, is it really shocking that a man-made chemical might have a deleterious effect on health? We know trans fats and corn syrup negatively affect risk factors for heart disease, blood sugar and other health factors.

Looking forward to seeing what is on the horizon as researchers continue to delve deeper into solving some of the questions about the influence of artificial sweeteners on health but until then I suggest you avoid being a guinea pig. Artificial sweeteners seem to be another white powder to avoid.

 

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7 “Anti-Aging Angels”: Strength Training And…

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Is the fountain of youth right underneath your very nose?

Genes are like’ sub folders’, they are segments of DNA that are responsible for appearance, how your body works and almost everything related to life. Yet, alone, they are not the major player in how you age.

Only twenty to thirty percent of longevity relies on genetics. Interestingly researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Center  and the Kuakinni Medical Center in Honolulu have identified two genes that seem to influence longevity. These genes are related to cholesterol (APO B: reduce the levels of LDL in the blood) and insulin (FOX03A: participates in insulin growth factor signaling). In the Lifespan Study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18765803), the FOX03A gene was associated with, “doubling or tripling the odds of living for at least 95-years” and found that the participants who lived had a lower waist-to-hip ratio, lower triglyceride levels, and lower glucose and insulin levels.”

This genetic component to the aging process therefore is tied to nutrition. What you eat has a major effect on cholesterol and insulin.

Living a low stress, healthy existence seems to be “the fountain of youth” we all would like to think there is a magic bullet. Standard of living, not pills or creams, is related to speeding or slowing down the aging process.

7 Anti-Aging Angels

  1. Smoking avoidance and cessation  
  2. Limiting alcohol
  3. Reducing Stress
  4. Engaging in healthy relationships
  5. Exercising your mind
  6. Nutrition: carbohydrate and sugar negatively impacts cholesterol and insulin. Adequate hydration is one of the most important positive nutritional factors to avoid aging.
  7. Physical activity. Strength training has been extensively researched and has been found to reverse the aging process. “A 70-year-old active individual is probably younger from a biomarker standpoint – muscle strength, balance, body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol levels – than a 40-year-old inactive individual,’’ Miriam Nelson, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University, http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2012/03/05/stopping_age_related_muscle_loss/?page=2#sthash.uY0JTpEh.dpuf.

One main component of aging at the cellular level is oxidative stress (low anti-oxidant levels) and mitochondrial (considered the power houses of cells converts sugars to energy) dysfunction. Specifically resistance training increases antioxidants and improves mitochondrial function to reverse the aging process.

Melov and Tarnopolsky, from McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario, found that one hour of strength training twice a week for 6 and a half months resulted in anti-aging effects at the cellular level for a group of 70 year olds whose genetic profiles were similar to a group of 25-year-old volunteers. The resistance training was associated with 179 age-exercise related genes.

Exercise and strength training has also been shown to reduce stress, build self-esteem, increase metabolism, improve brain function, build muscle and bone along with so many other positive health benefits it is no surprise that there is a strong link to longevity.

Looking to stay young? The fountain of youth is within everyone’s grasp. Lifestyle is the secret. Strength training has been shown to have the most effect on turning back the “aging” clock. Eat right and make the 5 other “anti-aging angels” part of your life and stay in touch over the next hundred years!

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in aging, anti-aging, diet, exercise

 

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