Eat More, Weigh Less

11/21/2011

from the Diet and Fitness Health Center

Do you always feel as if you should lose a few pounds? Many of us think of ourselves as being overweight—even fat—when we’re not close to that mark. Yet we watch the numbers on the scale and worry if our weight registers a pound or two (or kilogram) above what we’ve decided the right number ought to be.

That’s because depriving ourselves of food seems an inevitable part of losing weight. When we look at our dinner plate while dieting, we often see more plate than dinner.

No wonder losing weight feels like a battle against ourselves. We’re fighting our natural biological and psychological needs to have our appetites satisfied. Yet it’s possible to eat ample meals, feel full, control hunger, have a nutritious diet and still lose weight or maintain weight loss.

Less is more

Scientists who study the body’s feeling of fullness, called satiety, have shown that foods with high concentrations of calories in each portion increase our body weight and the overall amount of food we eat. The high energy density of foods such as fried onion rings or homemade chocolate chip cookies makes them taste appealing, but they don’t create feelings of fullness until you’ve overeaten.

By contrast, foods with low energy density (vegetables and fruits, nonfat milk, cooked grains, soups, stews, lean protein), have fewer calories, but make us feel more full. They also promote weight loss.

Since most of us eat about the same weight of food every day, it makes a difference whether that food has a high or low energy density. If you combine big portions with high energy density—such as happens in many fast-food selections—you’re cramming your daily food intake with too many calories.

Why water works

The key to keeping energy density low is water—not the stuff you drink from those cute little bottles, but the water content of foods. According to researcher Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutritional sciences at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins, 2005) and The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan (Quill, 2000, HarperTorch, 2003) foods with low energy density are loaded with water. When you eat them, you can increase the volume of food you consume for the same, or fewer, calories.

To understand the influence of water on food volume—and its ability to dilute calories—consider that for a 100-calorie snack, you could eat either two cups of water-rich grapes or one-quarter cup of raisins (dried grapes). The volume of grapes you can eat for 100 calories is a more satisfying portion.

The most energy dense component of food is fat, at nine calories per gram. Water has zero calories per gram. So if you cut fat a bit and add more water (with vegetables, fruit or broth) in your cooking, you reduce energy density significantly.

Eating more fiber is also important for lowering energy density. High-fiber foods, such as whole-grain cereals and breads, help you feel full longer.

Calculating energy density

Understanding the energy density of foods and using it to guide eating choices, Rolls says, “can help people eat the way the research suggests they should be eating—not only for weight management, but for optimal health.”

Here’s a simple method she offers for determining the energy density (calories per gram) of foods you buy in the supermarket:

  • Look at the Nutrition Facts label on the food package.
  • Find the serving-size weight in grams and the calories per serving.
  • If the calories are a smaller number than the grams, the food has low energy density. Feel free to enjoy satisfying amounts of that food.
  • If the calories are equal to, or twice as much, as the grams, eat moderately and watch your portion size.
  • If the calories are more than twice the grams, limit your portions.

You’ll discover that dry foods, like crackers, have high energy density (calories more than twice the grams). Surprisingly, fat-free pretzels have the same energy density as cheese. Munching on these without controlling your portions can quickly add weight.

“Do a little pre-planning,” says Jo-Anne Rizzotto, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., a registered and licensed dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston. “Fill snack baggies with cut-up vegetables or cut-up melon, strawberries or any fruit and line them up in the refrigerator so you can just grab them to go for lunch or snacking on the run.”

To add fiber and lower energy density, Rizzotto recommends looking for breads with at least three grams of fiber per serving and cereals or starches with at least five grams of fiber per serving. In recipes, she suggests using smaller amount of potatoes and using more vegetables like green beans, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.

Add another course

It may seem hard to believe, but when you add an additional course to your meal—increasing food volume—you can reduce the overall number of calories you consume.

Rolls and her colleagues conducted a study in which women were given a first course of a large portion (three cups) of low-energy-dense salad. The salad was made with greens, vegetables, nonfat Italian dressing and reduced-fat cheese. Following that, the participants ate a main course of pasta.

Eating the salad boosted the women’s feelings of fullness and reduced their total meal calorie intake. In other studies, having a first-course soup instead of the salad produced similar results.

Why does this work? “You get an awful lot of food without many calories,” Rolls explains, “which then helps to displace the calories in the next course of higher energy dense foods.” Simply drinking more water doesn’t have the same effect.

Tips for low-energy-density eating

  • Want to add a starter salad to your lunch or dinner? Remember to keep the energy density low. That means you can fill your bowl to the brim with greens, veggies, and low-fat dressing, but use only a very small amount—if any—of full-fat cheese or dressings, croutons or bacon bits.
  • When choosing soup as a first course or snack, make it broth-based, such as chicken with rice or vegetable soup. Creamed soups, chowders and hearty bean soups have more calories and higher energy density. They’re better as main dishes.
  • Double the vegetables in your favorite recipes, from chili and beef stew to pasta or chicken salad.
  • Watch what you drink. Each regular soda adds 150 unneeded calories to your daily total. Instead, choose water, tea, coffee (not the fat-laden specialty drinks!), diet soda, or add a splash of fruit juice to seltzer. Alcohol has a high energy density, so limit your daily consumption to one glass or less.

Full-plate menus

In The Volumetrics Eating Plan, Rolls provides satisfying, 1,400-calorie-a-day menus (and recipes), with choices based on the principles of energy density—foods that are rich in water, high in fiber, low fat, or lean protein, with low-calorie beverages and portion control for high-energy-dense selections.

Here are her suggested menus for two days:

MENU #1:  
   
Breakfast: 1 cup wheat bran flakes
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: Roasted portobello mushroom sandwich on a Kaiser roll
1/2 cup tabbouleh
1 pear
   
Dinner: Sautéed skinless chicken breast with vegetables and Canadian
bacon
2/3 cup brown rice
1-3/4 cups mixed greens and fennel salad
1 cup strawberries tossed with a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar
   
MENU #2:  
   
Breakfast: 1 packet instant oatmeal
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: One wedge of vegetable pizza, made with nonfat mozzarella
1-2/3 cups chilled gazpacho
1 snack cup, nonfat chocolate pudding
   
Dinner: Baked fish fillets with sautéed vegetables
2/3 cup oven-roasted potatoes
3/4 cup roasted asparagus
fresh fruit dipped in chocolate fondue

 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

 

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

 

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness
 

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

 

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 


Simple Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

09/12/2011

from the Heart Health Center

 For many Americans working toward better heart health, an important first step is getting cholesterol to a healthy level. Diet and exercise are important steps to reduce high cholesterol. However, many people may find that with diet and exercise alone, cholesterol numbers are not where they should be. More than one hundred million Americans have high cholesterol, an important risk factor for heart disease. Though diet is very important, many people don’t realize that cholesterol is also produced in the body based upon heredity. Learning about your family health history is important—we recommend talking to your family about their health and creating a family health tree.

 Bringing this information to your next doctor visit will help you discuss your family history regarding cholesterol and other hereditary health concerns. Understanding Cholesterol What you eat affects your health, by raising or lowering the blood fats (cholesterol, triglycerides) that circulate through your body. Some foods increase your levels of total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Over the years, excess cholesterol and fat are deposited in the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to your heart. Eventually, these deposits can make your arteries narrower and less flexible, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Left unchecked, this buildup can lead to heart attack, stroke and death. Additionally, because of your family health history, your body may be genetically predisposed to make more cholesterol than you may need, in addition to the cholesterol from your food intake.

 Know your numbers!

Each one of us has a cholesterol goal level, based upon our individual risk factors and our risk for heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that everyone age 20 and over have a blood cholesterol test every five years to check their cholesterol levels.

 To learn more about your goal, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/chd for the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Live Healthier, Live Longer Web site.

 If your cholesterol levels are mildly to moderately higher than your goal, making a few dietary changes may be all you need to get back on track. According to current NCEP recommendations, people with coronary heart disease or others considered to be at high risk for coronary heart disease generally have an LDL cholesterol goal of less than 100 mg/dL. An LDL cholesterol goal of less than 70 mg/dL is a therapeutic option for people considered to be at very high risk. Work with your doctor to develop a plan to help reduce your LDL cholesterol number to goal. Here are guidelines for your cholesterol and triglyceride levels according to NCEP guidelines (new guidelines will be released in 2010): Total blood cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL Desirable 200 to 239 mg/dL Borderline high 240 mg/dL or above High LDL blood cholesterol levels less than 100 mg/dL Optimal 100 to 129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline high 160 to 189 mg/dL High 190 mg/dL and above Very High HDL blood cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL. Levels above 60 mg/dL are considered especially beneficial and can offset risk factors for heart disease, according to NHLBI. The higher the level, the healthier it is. Optimal 50 to 60 mg/dL for women; 40 to 50 mg/dL for men Average less than 50 mg/dL for women; less than 40 mg/dL for men. Below these levels is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Low Triglyceride levels less than 150 mg/dL Normal 150 to 199 mg/dL Borderline High 200 to 499 mg/dL High 500 mg/dL or higher Very high It is important to remember that these recommendations are for healthy individuals, not for women with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease. If you are at risk for heart disease, your target goals likely will be lower.

Fighting Back:  There are things that you can do now to help you gain a better understanding of your risk factors and perhaps lower your chances of high cholesterol and heart disease. For starters, it’s important that you eat right, get plenty of exercise, as recommended by your physician, and begin to understand your family health history. A healthy diet may help reduce total cholesterol. In general, you want to get “good” cholesterol higher and “bad” cholesterol lower. You can still enjoy a wide variety of foods by making healthful dietary choices and changes. If elevated cholesterol is part of your family genetics, or you have other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, you may need medication in addition to eating a heart-healthy diet. But whether you have normal cholesterol, high levels, or are currently taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, eating a healthy diet is important for everyone. Good fats/bad fats Fats can be good for you and your heart, when they’re the right kind and consumed in limited amounts; but even good fat is packed with calories. Those include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which decrease “bad” cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats include corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil. Saturated fats are the bad guys that may endanger your heart. They increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than anything else in your diet. Saturated fats, found mostly in animal products, are hard at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Think butter, shortening, fat on and in meat and poultry skin. Whole milk or two-percent milk products, half-and-half and cream all have a lot of saturated fat. Tropical oils—coconut, palm and palm kernel oils—also contain a lot of saturated fats. These oils are used in commercially baked crackers, cookies and non-dairy creamers. Foods containing saturated fats often also contain high amounts of cholesterol, which is only found in animal products. Trans fats are another culprit to watch out for. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol. Trans fats are found in foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils—stick margarine and some store-bought cookies and cakes, fast-food French fries, potato chips and other snacks. Read your food labels before purchasing. If there are .5 grams or less of trans fats in an item, the company can claim 0 trans fats on the label, so check the ingredient list for hydrogenated oils.

Heart-Healthy Choices

1. Switch your dairy Make the change from whole or two-percent milk to one-percent and then to skim, for drinking and in recipes. Or try almond milk or rice milk for a nondairy alternative. Use low-fat or nonfat sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and ice cream. 2. Choose lean cuts Beef tenderloin, sirloin, eye of round, ground beef with 10 percent or less fat and pork tenderloin are good choices. Other alternatives include white meat chicken or turkey. Remove the skin before cooking any poultry. 3. Cook with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated Oils These include olive, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, sesame and soybean oils. 4. Use more plant-based proteins instead of animal products These include beans and peas—black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils—and tofu or soy. Try veggie burgers (soy-based or grain-based) for an alternative to beef. 5. Boost your intake of foods that are high in soluble fiber This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps remove it from your body. Good sources include oatmeal, oatmeal bread, oat bran cereal, beans and peas, apples, bananas and citrus fruits. 6. Increase whole grains in your diet Choose bread with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice, whole-grain pastas and brown rice. 7. Use products containing plant sterol and stanol esters These components help keep your body from absorbing cholesterol. Consuming two to three grams a day decreases LDL cholesterol by 6 percent to 15 percent. Food products that have added cholesterol-lowering sterols and stanols include margarines, orange juice and yogurt. 8. Eat fatty fish twice a week Choose wild salmon over farm-raised to reduce possible toxin exposure. Pregnant or nursing women and children should limit tuna intake to 6 ounces a week and avoid swordfish, due to concerns about methyl mercury levels. 9. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat Most women should have 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables (without cheese sauce!) every day, according to new guidelines. Adding more of these to your diet fills you up, adds fiber and important nutrients and helps replace foods with saturated fats. For details on the new dietary recommendations, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov . 10. Keep an eye on dietary cholesterol Dietary cholesterol, such as is found in eggs, dairy products and some other foods, may raise cholesterol in the blood slightly, but newer studies find that consumption of dietary cholesterol is unlikely to substantially increase risk of coronary heart disease or stroke among healthy men and women. If you have other existing health conditions or risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease, you may need to monitor dietary cholesterol more closely. Egg yolks are filled with dietary cholesterol—213 milligrams in each. If you have elevated cholesterol, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends you keep your consumption under 200 milligrams per day. Egg whites are cholesterol-free, so use two for each whole egg in recipes, or use cholesterol-free egg substitute, which works well in baking and omelettes.

Heart-Healthy Tips for Eating Away from Home

 Here’s how to eat out and have a terrific meal without taking in too much fat and cholesterol: Preparation counts. Order your food fresh, sautéed, grilled/broiled, or poached. If sautéed or broiled, ask for it to be cooked with olive oil or without fat. Have sauces served on the side, so you add only what you need. Divide and conquer. Resist the pitfalls of inflated portions by eating only half of what you order. Take the rest home for an easy lunch or dinner the next day. Ask if you and your dining partner can share an entrée, with each of you ordering individual salads. Balance. Have the nachos if you really want them, but order a healthy entrée. Dessert isn’t a no-no—pick fresh fruit or sorbet. Enjoy the bread or rolls, just skip the butter and drizzle on olive oil. Sip slowly. Wine may raise HDL “good” cholesterol a bit, but there’s also evidence it can boost your triglyceride levels. Fast food stops are OK. Most fast-food restaurants now offer healthier items than a bacon double cheeseburger. Depending upon which chain you visit, you may find salads (ask for nonfat or olive oil dressings), grilled chicken, yogurt, baked potatoes and fresh fruit cups. Look for a heart-healthy symbol. Some restaurants put a heart or other sign next to healthful menu items. Choose from those.

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below. Heart Health Center: http://www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/heart-health Weight Management: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management Heart Disease: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/heart-disease Atherosclerosis: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/atherosclerosis Metabolic Syndrome: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/metabolic-syndrome Healthy Living: http://www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition © 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: http://www.HealthyWomen.org.


Color Code Your Vegetables

08/01/2011

Color Code Your Vegetables

What a Painter’s Palette of Vegetables Can Do for You

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN

 

Fresh, colorful vegetables: dark green and leafy; red, ripe, and juicy; or bright orange and crunchy. This exquisite rainbow-colored cornucopia is truly the class of foods that keeps our arteries healthy and clean. Head for your green grocer and harness the phenomenal medicinal power of natural plant compounds. Buy them fresh, buy them often, and fill your body with a spectrum of healthy colors, nature’s medicine chest.

Studies show that heart disease death rate drops with each added vegetable serving!
That is why phytochemical-rich vegetables, such as spinach, are part of a plan I developed to reverse heart disease, and/or to build good heart health to hopefully avoid heart troubles. The other key food groups are olive oil, figs and other fruits, lentils and other legumes, salmon and other seafood, walnuts and flaxseeds, oatmeal and other whole grains, and red wine. Dark chocolate is a bonus food in this plan. Yeah!

 

I like to paint the colors of health by classifying and color coding vegetables into six colors, divided depending on their individual high concentration of phytochemicals (plant warriors against free radical destruction).

Here are the 6 categories:

 

1. Dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as spinach & broccoli
2. Red/purple vegetables such as tomatoes, beets and eggplant
3. Yellow/orange vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin
4. Green herbs such as basil and rosemary
5. Allium vegetables such as garlic and shallots
6. Other vegetables such as artichokes and zucchini

Vegetables are chock full of myriad polyphenols (the major disease-battling phytochemical), so be sure to tap into the miraculous healing power of plants. Consuming greens and other colorful vegetables throughout the day will boost your heart disease defense system by:

  • Increasing your body’s antioxidant level
  • Fighting inflammation
  • And, helping to prevent and treat diabetes

 

One additional advantage of frequent consumption of vegetables is that they are the perfect diet food — loaded with nutrients but very low in calories. Hence, eating your daily vegetable prescription will also help you control your weight, and being overweight is another major risk factor that ups your odds of a heart attack.

Here are a few ideas for getting colorful vegetables into your daily eating plan:

  • Routinely eat a dark green salad at lunch and dinner when eating in or out, and remember to dress simply with extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar and/or fresh lemon juice.
  • For quick and healthy, try purchasing prewashed, bagged, and prechopped vegetables, toss them on a sheet of tin foil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and roast (425°F for at least 30 minutes). Keep in a container in the refrigerator for easy access.
  • Purchase frozen vegetables (with a short ingredients list). Frozen vegetables, picked and frozen immediately after harvest, are a nutritionally sound choice. (In fact, frozen spinach has been shown to retain its carotenoid power longer than fresh because of the lower temperatures at which it is stored.)
  • When time doesn’t allow for prepping fresh veggies, grab a bottle of jarred veggies, such as corn or roasted red peppers. Just watch out for added sodium, and if the veggies are packed in oil, check to ensure that it’s olive oil.
  • If the weather’s nice, fire up the grill and roast vegetables coated in extra virgin olive oil.
  • Infuse fresh herbs into your olive oil or mix into your salad dressing (olive oil vinaigrette) to add extra flavor and antioxidant power.
  • You can always get an array of colorful vegetables at a salad bar (some supermarkets even have them). Avoid the mayonnaise or oil-added veggie selections. Pile on the plain colorful vegetables instead and dress with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Remember, no lunch or dinner without that rainbow of vegetables!

 

You may be surprised at how some dishes truly come alive with the addition of this painter’s palette of health. A few of the recipes I include in Prevent a Second Heart Attack that feature greens and other vegetables are Chef Mario Spina’s Braised Broccoli Rabe, Chef Julie Korhumel’s Linguine with Fresh Garden Vegetables, Dr. Janet’s Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins and Dr. Janet’s Roasted Red Pepper Strips. All are sure to please the palate — and your heart health.

___________________________________

 

Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert. She is the author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack and Cholesterol Down. Learn more at www.drjanet.com.

_________________________________________          

 

Dr. Janet’s Roasted Red Pepper Strips

Serves 4

A quick and easy method for roasting red peppers. These are delicious in Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Tuna Romesco, and Whole-grain Pasta with Roasted Eggplant, Olives, and Tomatoes found in Prevent a Second Heart Attack.

4 large red peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss red pepper strips with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes or until peppers are softened and starting to turn dark around the edges. Store refrigerated.

NUTRITION per 1/2 cup serving:
Calories: 133

Fat: 11 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, <1 gALA)

Saturated Fat: 1 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 294 mg

Carbohydrate: 10 g

Dietary Fiber: 3 g

Sugars: 7 g

Protein: 2 g

 

Excerpted with permission from Prevent a Second Heart Attack

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN ©2/2011.


Top 6 Fitness Myths

07/26/2011

from the Healthy Living area

Maybe you already know that “no pain, no gain” is a fitness myth. You don’t gain from pain; instead, if you workout until (or after) you have pain, you can injure yourself.

Fitness misconceptions such as “no pain, no gain” or “women who lift weights get bulky muscles” abound (that second belief is also not true—our biology makes it nearly impossible). Because of such erroneous ideas, many of us exercise incorrectly or avoid being physically active at all.

Even if you don’t fall for the two fitness follies above, there are plenty more you might believe. Here are 7 common exercise misconceptions, with realistic suggestions for effective activity:

Fitness Folly #1: Ab Crunches Will Flatten Your Mid-Section
How many sit-ups or crunches does it take to turn tummy fat into tight muscle? The answer is: none—you can’t turn fat tissue into muscle. Contracting your abdominal muscles in a crunch “will strengthen those fibers, but has nothing to do with the fat sitting on top” of those muscles, says Kathy Stevens, MA, a fitness consultant in Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA.

Stevens calls it “wishful thinking” to believe that exercising one spot on your body will take off fat in that location. “We want to hold onto that belief, even though we’ve been told time and time again that there’s no such thing as spot reduction,” she says. “Fat loss is systemic.”

What to do: Be patient and do activities you enjoy that burn as many calories as possible, such as aerobics, swimming and brisk walking.

Fitness Folly #2: Regular Exercise Keeps Your Balance Strong
You work on your strength and on your endurance, but when was the last time you worked on your equilibrium? Vonda Wright, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, cautions against taking your balance for granted. “When women fall down and break a hip, 50 percent of them don’t return to pre-fall function,” says Dr. Wright, co-author of the upcoming book Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age.

Muscle strength helps you maintain your equilibrium, but it’s not enough, she adds. If your balance is wobbly, you need to do activities that will build it. To test yourself, stand near a table and place your fingertips on the table top. Close your eyes and stand on one leg. You should be able to balance for 20 seconds.

What to do: To increase balance, Dr. Wright suggests getting into the habit of standing on one leg while washing dishes or brushing your teeth. If that becomes easy, close your eyes.

Fitness Folly #3: You Can Tighten Your Upper-Arm Flab with Weights
You may be familiar with “turkey arms”—the wobbling flap of flab that hangs below the upper area of an outstretched arm. These shaky sections are especially common if you’re in midlife or older. Many women try to banish the unsightly flesh by lifting weights, only to discover that not much seems to change.

Sadly, that flab in the tricep area can’t be targeted, according to Irv Rubenstein, PhD, an exercise physiologist, teacher and certified personal trainer in Nashville, TN. “Women tend to deposit fat there, and with the change in collagen over time (with age), the area loses tautness and texture. It’s a nearly perfect storm,” Dr. Rubenstein says. Gravity finishes off the job. “Like the skin that starts to sag over your knees, it’s the same principle,” he adds. Swell news, huh?

What to do: Forget about that one spot, but do resistance training with weights or bands to build strength and overall functioning.

Fitness Folly #4: My Arthritis/Weight/Diabetes, etc., Keeps Me from Being Active
When you have an ongoing health concern, your condition can be a great excuse for avoiding fitness activities. Yet, in most cases, being physically active will help reduce your health problems.

Arthritis pain lessens with exercise, as does high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Physical activity will help a weight-loss effort and reduce the cardiovascular and diabetes risks of metabolic syndrome. By choosing the right activities and using medications as prescribed, you can also exercise with asthma or allergies.

What to do: First, see the physician treating your chronic condition and talk about physical activity options. To avoid stress on joints, choose pool activities or bike riding. Those with asthma or allergies will be helped by exercising indoors, especially during hot or cold weather. Warm, moist air is best for asthma, so swimming is a good choice.

Fitness Folly #5: You Must Lose Weight to Be More Fit
If you’re larger, imagine being let off the hook that demands you must lose 20, 30 or more pounds to achieve good fitness. Well, permission granted!

Research conducted with a group of overweight and obese (don’t we hate those terms!) women aged 30 to 45, showed that those who accepted their bodies as they were, ate according to their natural signals for hunger and fullness (not dieting) and pursued enjoyable activities instead of regimented exercise had a sharp increase in moderate activity. What’s more, they were able to sustain that activity level over time.

“Their overall health measures were amazing—reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol and psychological factors,” compared to a control group that dieted and followed exercise recommendations, says physiologist and nutritionist Linda Bacon, PhD, MA, a researcher at the City College of San Francisco. Dr. Bacon conducted the study and is author of a forthcoming book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, based on her research findings.

In group meetings during the study, the non-dieters talked about ways to add movement they enjoyed, from shooting baskets with a child to walking to a farther bathroom at work. Although the control group initially lost weight by dieting, both groups were at their starting weights after two years. The non-dieters showed greater fitness, which they kept up with little effort. “You can improve your health dramatically without a change in weight,” Dr. Bacon says.

What to do: Accept your body as it is right now. Add physical activity to your life that you find fun. Walking in a natural area is interesting and helps the time pass swiftly. If you like social interaction, play a game with others. Avoid workout classes that make you feel discouraged or self-conscious.

Fitness Folly #6: Exercise Takes Too Much Time and Effort
It’s true that you can’t be physically active unless you actually get up and move. Once you get past that hurdle, you don’t have to push yourself hard. You’ll gain fitness benefits from very light to moderate exercise. That benefit is even greater if you are overweight or have been sedentary. As for time, all you need is 30 minutes a day of activity, which you can accumulate in 10-minute chunks.

What to do: Start by using time you ordinarily waste sitting in front of the television. Stand up and do 10 minutes of brisk walking while you watch. You can move around the room or walk in place. Swing your arms to ramp up your results. Do that three times daily and you’ll help banish the fitness follies.

 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

 

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

Wellness in Practice Blog: www.healthywomen.org/womentalk/blog/wellness-practice

 

 

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 


Make the Most of Indoor Exercise

12/26/2010

Many of us love being outdoors for physical activities. But when the weather gets crummy—too cold, too hot, or too much precipitation of any sort—we stay on the sofa, maybe for months, until things get better.

There’s no reason to give up exercising just because the weather stinks. You can stay physically fit, or get there, without leaving the comfort of indoors.

These tips can help make your indoor workouts work wonders for you:

  1. Put down the dark chocolate hearts and pick up your TV’s remote control. Get up off the couch. Turn on your set. If you have cable, it may offer free “when-you-want-them” video selections, including fitness or exercise programs. You’ll find choices from abdominal exercises to gentle yoga to walking or weight training. Some are as short as six minutes.

    Pick a different program every day or set up your own routine: walking videos three days a week; strength training two days a week. Vary your selection and you won’t get bored. You can also use a video recorder to capture regularly broadcast fitness shows.

  2. Use a free 5 or 10 minutes to do ab crunches on your bedroom rug or leg lifts while talking on the phone. Research shows that three 10-minute sessions of exercise in one day are as beneficial as one 30-minute session.
  3. Dance—with or without a partner. Just push back the coffee table and put on the music that gets you moving.
  4. Ride your bike indoors. Sounds crazy, but you can get a special bicycle stand that turns your street bike into a stationary exerciser. Check sporting goods and bike stores.
  5. Forget that you’re a grown-up and head to the roller rink. Family sessions are usually the most sedate and best for those who haven’t been on wheels for awhile. Once you get your rhythm going, you can burn more than 400 calories an hour. 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Center : www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Keeping the pounds off (after weight loss)

10/24/2010

 

Once a person loses excess weight, the next great battle is keeping those pounds off!

A recent study from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research found that people who consistently logged in to an interactive Internet version of a personal coach were able to keep the weight off.  The key word is “consistently.”

For 6 months before the trial, men and women reduced their caloric intake and exercised in an effort to shed pounds. Those who lost at least 19 pounds were randomly assigned to 3 groups for weight maintenance. One group was self-directed, another contacted a health counselor once a month, and a third group relied on an interactive website.  All of the participants were obese or overweight, and were taking medications for hypertension or high cholesterol.

Those men and women assigned to a personal coach regained the least amount of weight overall, but the ongoing expense sometimes does not make this an option.

At the end of 30 months, the people assigned to a personal coach regained on average 10 pounds, while the web site group regained 12.5 pounds and the self-directed group regained 14 pounds.

The men and women assigned to the weight-management website who visited the site once a month maintained more of their weight loss than patients who checked in sporadically.  On the Web site, participants could record their weight, caloric intake, and minutes of exercise and compare that information with the goals they had set for themselves. A bulletin board allowed them to read other peoples’ success stories and share their own, as well as get advice from experts on exercise and behavior change.

A weight-management web site appears to be a good alternative to a personal coach for those who may not be able to afford personal coaching fees.  You should look for a site where you can enter data on weight, caloric consumption, and exercise, and receive reminders if you forget to supply this information.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in J Med Internet Res. online July 27, 2010. 

 


New Book to Help Hispanics Prevent Heart Disease and Diabetes

09/06/2010

In a recent American Heart Association survey of Hispanic Americans, 45 percent thought they were at ideal heart health. However, 66 percent of those surveyed said a health professional told them they had a risk factor for heart disease and/or needed to make a lifestyle change to improve their heart health. These findings indicate that most people don’t associate important risk factors such as poor diet and physical inactivity with heart disease.

Further survey findings show that whites (83 percent) are more likely than Hispanics (71 percent) to have visited a doctor within the past year. Hispanics are also further behind whites in knowing their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

Heart Disease, Stroke and Diabetes are the leading causes of death among Hispanics.  The majority of Hispanics are not aware that these can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes.

This book can help teach Hispanic families how to identify their risk factors as well as steps to lower their risk. “Tomo contol de su salud” is a step by step guide which is easy to understand and includes many pictures and charts.

Heart disease, diabetes and stroke are the leading causes of death among Hispanics, but you CAN prevent them. One out of four Hispanics die from heart disease or stroke. Hispanic people are twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to non-Hispanics. Hispanics develop heart disease risk factors ten years younger than non-Hispanics. This book will teach you and your family how to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

Available at www.heart-strong.com for only $10

Also available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com