Weight Loss Success Story – Kathy Perham!

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Boot Camp Success Story:  Kathy Perham
Kathy has lost 19 pounds, doing it all the healthy way!
 
Kathy and I became friends over the last few years, and because she felt I was very upbeat and motivating, she joined my garage for Boot Camp in January.   She started coming to my classes twice a week and exercising at home on her own, too.  She now brings some of my boot camp workouts along with her on vacation and has her husband George do them with her!  He himself has lost 22 pounds, thanks to Kathy’s inspiration.
 
Along with exercise, Kathy really dialed in her nutrition.  She and her husband had gained weight, and she was getting concerned about their health.  She joined us for a 5-week group nutrition challenge and motivated her husband to join as well.  Now they are both very conscious about what they eat.  She says she feels better when she eats well.  She has more energy now, and her acid reflux has gone away.  Best of all, George’s doctor said his blood work had improved dramatically since his last visit!
 
 “I feel healthy and look healthy.  I want to keep going; I’m not getting any younger,” says Kathy.  Her advice is, “Start taking better care of yourself now before it’s too late!”
 
Kathy did a lot of things right:  she addressed both diet and exercise at the same time, and got a buddy to do it with her!  And she doesn’t go overboard – she treats herself every once in a while, and thoroughly enjoys it!
 
Way to go, Kathy and George!  Enjoy shopping for all those new clothes in smaller sizes!
PS:  If you would like to join us for Boot Camp or for our next nutrition challenge on September 12th, send me an email today!
xo,
Ginny  
Ginny@yourmovefitness.com

 

Chicken Soup For the Soul – and the Flu!

 

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Hi Everybody!

It’s that time of year again – people are sniffing and coughing and wheezing all around us, and flu season is almost here.  So I thought it would be a good time to share my recipe for chicken soup.  I am a very straight-forward cook, so the recipe is very basic – you can spice it up from here.  The only time-consuming part is preparing the bone broth in a slow cooker the day before, but that’s the most healing part of the recipe, and it makes all the difference in flavor.

Chicken Soup For the Soul

 

Ingredients for Bone Broth:

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4 quarts of water
1 1/2-2 pounds of grass-fed beef bones
2 Tab. apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered is best)2 tsp. sea salt
Cloves from 1 whole head of fresh garlic, peeled & smashed

Put all ingredients into a slow-cooker and set the heat to high.  Bring the stock to a boil.  Then, reduce the heat to low.  Allow the stock to cook for 8-24 hours.  The longer, the better.

Turn off the crockpot and allow it to cool.  Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.  Before using the stock, skim away and discard any fat that has solidified.  This will be the base for your soup.

The Soup:
2 Tab. of coconut oil
Two cups of chopped yellow onions
Two cups of chopped carrots
Two cups of chopped celery
One rotisserie chicken (organic or free-range is best)

In a large pan, melt the coconut oil and saute the chopped vegetables until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Add it to the bone broth and bring it to a boil.  Then simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, covered.  Add the chicken and simmer for 10 more minutes.  Enjoy!

As I mentioned, this is the basic recipe.  What herbs or spices would you add to this?

Four Pro-Active Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer

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In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you some pro-active  steps that you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center, in the 1960’s, one out of every 20 women was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Today, one in eight women are likely to develop this disease.  Because breast cancer runs in my family,  I would like to think that I do everything that I can do to prevent it.   Of course I do the “active surveillance” that doctors recommend, meaning that I do self breast exams and go for periodic checks with the doctor with the hope that they don’t find anything.   To me, that seems more “in-active” than “active.”

What else can we do besides wait for breast cancer NOT to happen?  We can try to change the conditions in which the cancer grows in our bodies.  Here are three major steps we can take to keep breast cancer from thriving in our systems.

  • Decrease Sugar Intake:  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinical Center for Functional Medicine, the number one driver of cancer is sugar.  In fact, sugar is one of the most potent toxins in our food supply.  On average, Americans consumer 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour (which acts even worse than sugar in our bodies) every year.  Sugar and flour both increase the release of insulin in our bodies.  Because insulin is a growth hormone, having more of it in our systems makes cancer cells grow.  It also creates inflammation, both of which help cancer cells thrive.  Therefore, we want to have a low glycemic diet to reduce our risk of cancer.  For more about the glycemic diet, check out this link from Harvard Medical School: http://bit.ly/1uKuys5  .  Don’t wait to become diabetic before getting on a low-glycemic diet.
  • Increase Fiber, Prebiotic and Probiotic Intake.  In case you needed yet another reason to eat a high-fiber diet; a diet rich with fiber is important for your gastrointestinal tract (GI) and gut flora.  Did you know that 70% of your immune system is actually in your gut?  Furthermore, according to Dr. Hyman,  if the microorganisms in your gut are imbalanced, you run a higher risk of cancer.  Research shows that women who’ve take a lot of antibiotics in the past have an increased incidence of breast cancer because antibiotics affect the balance of gut flora.  In order to balance these microorganisms, consider eating more prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods, all of which are beneficial for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.  For more info click here:  http://bit.ly/1MgBv6N  and here:  http://bit.ly/1N26S7R .
  • Get Rid Of Toxins.  Of course we don’t eat toxins!  Or do we?  Nowadays, we are surrounded by toxins:  they are in plastics, pesticides, dry cleaning, and even skin care products.  These toxins act like estrogens in our body, binding to the receptors that are meant for estrogen, which can stimulate the pathways that drive cancer.  How to avoid toxins:
    1. Drink filtered water.
    2. Eat organic food (see www.ewg.org)
    3. Reduce toxic household products, including skin care products (again, see www.ewg.org for more info)
  • Alcohol.  There’s a reason I left this for last – it’s a tough one.  I was shocked to learn from Dr. Hyman that just one glass of alcohol per day increases your risk of breast cancer by 40%!  Because alcohol is a liver toxin, it affects your ability to metabolize estrogen, therefore there are higher levels of estrogen in your system if you drink alcohol. For more information regarding breast cancer and alcohol, check out this link:  http://bit.ly/1m5WHEN

    Here’s the takeaway:

  • Get rid of sugar in your diet.
  • Increase the amount of fiber, pre-biotics and pro-biotics in your diet.
  • Get rid of toxins in your food, water, skin care and household products by eating real food, filtered water, and using clean skincare and household products.  (Refer to www.ewg.org)
  • Limit alcohol to 3 glasses per week.

As I always say, just focus on one of these ideas, get it straight, and then add on another one.  Don’t try to do it all in one day.  What’s your first step going to be?

5 Unintentional Habits That Could Derail Your Healthy Eating

 

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If someone were to ask me what I do to stay healthy, I’d tell them the surface-level things.  I’d say that I exercise a lot and try to eat whole foods whenever possible, and I make conscious efforts to de-stress my life.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a lot of things that I’ve learned to do over time that make everything else fall into place a lot easier.

These are a few of the mistakes I used to make that have made a BIG difference since I changed them.

  1. Not getting enough sleep.   If you’re tired, you’re stressed.  And when you’re stressed, you crave carbohydrates.  It’s that simple.  At Weight Watchers, they wrote it out this way:  “Stressed spelled backwards is D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S.”  When you’re tired, you’ll also tend to make poor food decisions, and then be too tired to make a healthy dinner, or maybe too exhausted to exercise.  I recently read about establishing an “Amish hour” before bed, where you turn off all electronics and unplug your mind a little!  Love that idea!  Here’s a link from “Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple”  with tips for getting a better night’s sleep tonight:  http://bit.ly/1jzoaQ5
  2. Over-exercising!  In a cruel twist of fate, over-exercising backfires.  The old mantra of “eat less and move more” is a fallacy that’s worthy of a whole blog in itself.  HOW you move matters.  The body perceives high-intensity exercise as a stressor.  While some stress is good, too much isn’t.  Excessive high-intensity exercise will cause carb cravings, and in the end, you’ll be eating all your profits!  Also, make sure your exercise is fun!  If you’re doing it for pleasure instead of punishment, you’ll be less tempted to use it as an excuse to overeat.  (Been there, done that!)
  3. Not being ready when the sweet tooth hits.  My friends calls her son’s after-dinner snacking  “late night foraging.”  My kids call it “second dinner.”  Whatever you call it, be prepared!  Having healthy, fresh snacks at eye level in the refrigerator will make it more likely to be eaten.  Studies show that you’re more likely to eat food that is visible to you (obvious, right?).  Cut-up fresh fruit works well in these impulsive eating situations.  Hummus with sugar snap peas and carrots are good for mindless munching, too.  I know that when I run out of those snacks in the house, batten down the hatches!
  4. Not drinking enough water.  This is SO easy to do; but it’s also easy NOT to do!  According to Paul Chek, internationally known health and kinesiology expert, the ideal amount of water to drink per day is 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day.  “Water is important since dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels,” leading to … you guessed it …. sugar cravings!  Water helps your organs and even your cells function correctly and makes your stomach feel more full.
  5. Not grocery shopping often enough.  If you can get away with going to the grocery store once a week, you might be undermining your healthy eating efforts.  Why?  Because healthy food rots.  If you can go a whole week without grocery shopping, you might be eating too many processed foods that are full of preservatives.  (Exception:  Frozen whole food is the next best thing.)

    See you at the grocery store!

Are You Wasting Your Time At the Gym?

Is Cardio Making You Fat

You think you’re doing everything the doctor ordered.  Three times per week, you step on the treadmill and watch as the “calories burned” number racks up on the monitor, and then you step off 30 minutes later, having burned your desired number of calories, and having gotten in your prescribed amount of cardio.  And you even watched your favorite show on TV.

But lately you notice you’re not getting anywhere.  You seem to be staying at the same weight and your clothes aren’t getting any looser.  If someone asked you, you’d tell them that you go to the gym to be healthy.  But underneath it all, you really did expect to lose some weight, right?  I get it.  Been there, done that.

Here’s what’s going on:  With long bouts of low-intensity cardio (steady-state aerobics), your body adapts over time.  So if you just consistently log in for 30 minutes, the treadmill screen will tell you that you burned the same number of calories, but in reality, you’re not!  In a cruel twist of biology, your body adapts by getting more efficient at that exercise.  Furthermore, as soon as you step off the machine, your metabolism immediately returns to its pre-exercise rate.  (If you think you can outsmart your body by spending even more time on the treadmill, think again – over time you will find yourself hungrier and craving carbs like crazy!)

If the goal is fat loss, using cardio machines is not the most effective way to do it.  In fact, according to Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, owners of Results Fitness in California (one of the most successful gyms in the country), steady-state cardio is the fifth-best choice for effective exercise for fat loss!

Here’s the best way to manage your time at the gym if you want to burn fat:

  1. If you have 3 hours per week spend at the gym, spend it doing resistance training.  Grab some heavy weights and start lifting!  Body sculpting doesn’t count.  If you can do more than 20 reps, you’re just doing aerobics, so go back and grab some bigger weights!  This will boost your calorie burn 24/7.
  2. If you have time 3-5 hours per week to spend at the gym, do weight training and add in some high-intensity anaerobic interval training.  (Example:  hill sprints!)  I’m talking MAX effort!  You’ll probably need a trainer to “encourage” you through these!  Now you’ll be boosting calorie burn 24/7 and raising your post-exercise metabolism.
  3. If you have 5-6 hours per week for the gym, add in some high-intensity aerobic intervals. (Example:  jog/run intervals.)  It’s still a higher intensity overall than steady-state aerobics.
  4. If you have 6-8 hours per week for the gym, and you’re still not losing fat, then you’d better take a very close look at your diet.  At this point, add a long bike ride or run at 75% of your maximum heart rate.  Why not do this all the time?  It will take away from other higher-priority fat-burning activities.
  5. If you have even more time, now add in your slow, steady cardio.  Go for long, fast walks or slow jogs.  This type of exercise is fifth on the list as far as effectiveness on fat loss, according to the Cosgrove coaches!

The Takeaway:  Overall, weight lifting is the best exercise for fat loss.  And if you’re going to be on a treadmill, make sure you get in bouts of high intensity.

Photo credit:  www.wewomen.com

“How Do I Get This Spot Right Here?” Can You Spot-Reduce?

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“How do I get this spot right here?”

My clients ask me this question all the time.  Those areas where fat loves to live:  love handles, thighs, abdomen, and triceps.  (Who remembers “Thin Thighs In Thirty Days” and Jane Fonda’s hydrants, hydrants, hydrants!)  We all have trouble spots on our body, spots where the fat just likes to accumulate.  It’s just where any extra weight wants to go.

Can you actually spot-reduce it away?  Can you perform exercises that target that area and reduce the amount of the fat there?  Well, yes.  And no.  (Did you really think you’d get a straight answer from me?)  Here’s the thing:  while you can perform exercises that target the muscles in that area (crunches for the ab fat, side bends for love handles, etc),  there will be very negligible effect on reducing the amount of fat stored in that particular spot.  Numerous studies have proven this over and over again.  But the myth lives on!

However, there’s a more interesting question here:  

Why does the fat in your body gravitate to that area?

Well, now we’re talking!  Internationally renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, of Canada, has created the Biosignature Modulation Method.  This method is gaining in popularity with healthcare professionals, personal trainers and nutritionists.  Poliquin’s method focuses on achieving specific body fat reduction through hormone balance.  He says that fat accumulates in certain areas because certain hormones are out of whack.

Here’s a quick reference to how his system works:

  • Upper arms and chest – testosterone
  • Love handles and upper back – insulin
  • Upper abs and ribs – thyroid
  • Abdomen – cortisol
  • Bottom and thighs – estrogen
  • Chest and triceps – testosterone

If you’re having problems shifting weight from certain areas, have your body measured with skin-fold calipers by a qualified professional (ahem – me!).  Your trainer can then use that information to address the underlying hormone problems by designing an individualized nutrition plan, supplementation, lifestyle, or exercise schedule to address those areas, and re-test monthly to track changes.  Solutions can range from eating a higher protein diet and fewer carbs, to changing the types of exercise you perform, to eliminating the foods that are stressing your body.

It’s not a concept that everyone buys into, and it is not without its critics.  But there is mounting research that finds that hormones do play a role in deciding where your body stores fat.

“This system will never replace a medically conducted blood and hormone test,” says Joseph Coyne, a sports nutritionist, performance coach, and qualified Biosignature Practitioner.  “But it will give you a good approximation of what your problems might be, and is an excellent starting point for lose weight from a certain area.”

 

The Top Ten Food Lies That Keep Us Overweight – Part Two

The Next Five Food Lies:  Part Two

In the last blog, I exposed the First Five Food Lies:

1.  All calories are created equal.

2.  All you need is willpower.

3.  Diet soda is better than regular soda.

4.  Low-fat foods are good for you.

5.  Whole grain foods are good for you.

 

Now let’s take a look at five more food lies that keep us overweight:

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6.  Eggs are Unhealthy For You – FALSE!  Eggs are just one of those foods that seems to be surrounded with controversy.  A lot of the debate has to do with the large amount of cholesterol in eggs.  According to Dr. Jon Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition, research consistently shows that the cholesterol you eat has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in your blood.  (There’s only one possible exception here: diabetics and the 0.2 percent of the population with familial hypercholesterolemia. More research has to be done to confirm this.)  In fact, in controlled trials, when people were instructed to eat 3 whole eggs per day, they LOST weight, experienced decreased inflammation, and either maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels.

Bottom line: Unless you have diabetes or a rare genetic disorder, eating a few eggs every day is not bad for you. In fact, egg yolks are one of the most nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich and vitamin-laden foods on the planet!

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7.  It’s All About Genetics – FALSE!  While it is true that there are genes associated with obesity, only 9% of overweight and obese people have the genetic or hormonal defect that predispose them to being heavy.  It is more likely that your weight is directly related to the habits of the environment you were raised in.  Even if you don’t eat exactly the way your parents do, it was within your home that you learned how to cook (or if you cook), what to eat, and how much to eat.  Plus, although our genes only change 2% every 20,000 years, by the year 2050, it is estimated that over 50 % of Americans will be obese (up from the current 35%).   What has changed over the last century has not been our genes, but our eating habits.  We have gone from eating about 10 pounds of sugar per person per day in 1800, to currently eating about 152 pounds of sugar per person per day!

Bottom line:  Obesity is caused by all kinds of factors, but genetics is the least of them.  The good news is that you can change this!

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8.  Milk Is Nature’s Perfect Food – FALSE!  This one was a tough one for me to get my head around.  I was raised to think that dairy was an ideal source of calcium and protein.  But there are several reasons why this isn’t the case.  Many people have adverse reactions to milk – inflammation, allergies, sinus congestion, intestinal issues, and asthma.  Milk also spikes insulin, which encourages abdominal fat.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it may increase the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, and even increase the risk of types 1 and 2 diabetes. If that’s not enough, think about it this way; in nature, milk is provided at times when you want to experience exponential levels of growth (infancy).  Soooo, if you’d like to grow at an exponential rate, drink lots of milk!

Bottom line:  Milk doesn’t always do a body good.  Get your calcium from green leafy vegetables instead!

Do low carb diets really workWeb

9.  Low-Carb Diets Are Bad For You – FALSE  First, let’s define a low-carb diet:  a diet that restricts the type and amount of carbohydrates you eat, typically a daily limit of 60 to 130 grams (or 240-520 calories per day).  The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lowers your insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy which ultimately leads to weight loss. Here’s my take on it;  most overweight people don’t realize that they are actually on extremely HIGH-carbohydrate diets, and all research indicates that high-carb diets are not good for you.   When you substitute vegetables for the white flour and sugar (the bulk of carbs in the standard American diet), you will dramatically reduce your caloric intake and increase your vitamins and nutrients.  Don’t forget that vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates, too.  But back to the question – are low carb diets dangerous?  No.  Studies show that low-carb diets may help prevent metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood sugar, and cardiovascular disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bottom line:  A low-carbohydrate diet is a highly effective, healthy way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease.

eating frequently

10.  You Should Eat Frequent, Small Meals Throughout The Day – FALSE!  At first glance, this one appears to make sense.  The idea is that by eating frequently, you speed up your metabolism all day, and therefore improve your ability to burn more calories, right?  This idea has been put to the test and refuted multiple times; there is no significant difference whatsoever in terms of “speeding up your metabolism.”  As long as your total daily calorie and nutrient intake remains what it needs to be, the manner in which you consume those calories/nutrients just doesn’t matter. Plus, it’s impractical to be eating constantly.   According to Jillian Michaels, celebrity master trainer on “The Biggest Loser,” by grazing around the clock, you’re preventing your body from burning fat, and causing yourself to lose track of the calories you’ve consumed!   Jillian recommends eating every four hours to stabilize your blood sugar, optimize insulin production and manage hunger.

Bottom line:  For weight loss, keep it simple; eat three balanced meals, plus a snack between lunch and dinner.

The Top 10 Food Lies That Keep Us Overweight – Part 1

When it comes to nutrition, there’s a lot to learn, but there’s a lot to UN-learn, too.  Here are the first five of what I consider to be the…

Top Ten Food Lies:  Part One

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1.  All Calories Are Created Equal –  FALSE!  If you were to eat 1000 calories of broccoli vs. 1000 calories of cake, do you think your body would know the difference?  Of course it would! The old idea that losing weight is just a matter of eating less calories and burning more calories is just what the food industry wants you to think.  Our bodies are more than just bank accounts with a certain number of calories in and calories out.  Our bodies are more like chemistry labs, with every bite affecting our hormones, brain chemistry and metabolism.

Bottom Line:  What really matters is the quality of the food we eat.  There are good calories (like lean protein, healthy fat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds) and then there are bad calories (processed foods, sugars, and white flour).

 

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2.  All You Need Is More Willpower – FALSE!  The implication is that if you’re overweight, then you’re just lazy or you lack self-discipline.  The truth is that we have simply believed the barrage of messages that the food industry has bombarded us with for decades.  We are literally addicted to the processed foods and additives that we consume, and then we are blamed for not being able to resist them!   When our taste buds, brain chemistry and metabolism have been damaged by sugar and processed foods, willpower alone can’t win for long.  First we have to break those very real addiction and cravings.

Bottom Line:  Processed foods and sugar truly are highly addictive.  We need to replace those foods with high quality whole foods that will allow our appetite and weight to function normally.

 

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3.  Diet Soda Is Better For You Than Regular Soda – FALSE!  I have to be honest here – this is by far my hardest habit to break.  Diet soda is so addictive!  But even though artificial sweeteners don’t have calories, it does not mean they are better for you than sugar.  In fact, many studies show a consistent association between artificial sweeteners and obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, in a 14-year study of more than 66,000 women, researchers found that diet sodas actually raise the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas.  Just one diet soda per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 33%.  But diet soda slows down your metabolism, and makes you crave even more sugar!  Ain’t that the truth!

Bottom Line:  Stay away from all artificial sweeteners, even the “natural” ones.  To break the addiction to diet soda, try a combination of sparkling water topped with a little cranberry juice.  It’s the only effective substitute I have found!

 

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4.  Low-Fat Foods Are Good For You – FALSE!  Many of us grew up in the low-fat era.  In fact, I remember my Yale-educated pediatrician sitting me down as an overweight teenager writing down on a little sheet of paper:

  • Carbohydrates:  4 calories per gram
  • Protein:  4 calories per gram
  • Fat:  9 calories per gram

Therefore, the best way to lose weight is to avoid fat, right?

Well, how’s that advice working out for America?

Here’s the low-down:  When fat is taken out of food, it tastes like cardboard.  So food manufacturers add sugar and artificial sweeteners to the product.  Not surprisingly in retrospect, the low-fat era has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes.  We now consume twice as much sugar than we did 30 years ago!

Bottom Line: Low-fat foods are usually highly processed products loaded with sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.  They are extremely unhealthy.  Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean it’s food.

 

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5.  Whole Grain Foods Are Good For You – FALSE!  There is a common misconception that whole grain foods are nutritious and you will be missing essential vitamins and minerals without them in your diet.  According to Robb Wolf of “The Paleo Diet Solution,” the fact is that, on a calorie-per-calorie basis, as compared to meat, seafood, veggies, and fruits, wheat is not even very nutritious.  Furthermore, according to Kris Gunnars of “Authority Nutrition.com,” wheat is loaded with gluten, which many people are unable to properly digest.  Most whole grain products have actually been pulverized into very fine flour, which tends to raise blood sugars rapidly and can cause all sorts of problems down the line.   Also, because refined grain products like white bread get digested quickly, they can lead to large spikes in blood sugar.  So at best, it’s filler; at worst, it takes you on a sugar roller-coaster ride.

Bottom Line: The way I like to put it is, there’s nothing that whole-grain food can do for you that vegetables can’t do better.

What do you think?  How many of these did you think were true?

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Great Way To Chisel Off The Weight – Get “NEAT”

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Those last few stubborn pounds.  How many times have you lost them and put them back on again?  You can’t do much more – you get a lot of exercise, you eat pretty healthy, and you still have to fit in the rest of life, too.  But this tip is a no-brainer!  Chisel off the weight by getting NEAT!

What is NEAT?  NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.  It’s the movement you get in all day when you’re NOT at the gym.  It’s the stuff my mother always said to do; park the car at the furthest spot in the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to your co-workers’ office instead of emailing or calling them.  You can get creative with this; drink lots of water every day and then use the furthest bathroom, dance to music while you make dinner (sure to embarrass your kids)!  And according to research from Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of Arizona, it adds up to a whopping 350 calories per day! Times 7 days a week, times 52 weeks per year:  that’s 36 pounds per year!  You can do that!

Here are some other easy ways to get in those extra steps:

  • Do yard work.
  • Clean the house.
  • When folding laundry, do a squat as you pick up each item.
  • Bring in the groceries one bag at a time.
  • Take the dog for a quick walk to the corner after dinner.
  • Walk to your friends’ house instead of calling.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator.
  • Stand or do lunges in place when you’re on the phone.
  • Get up off the couch every time there’s a commercial.
  • Walk up and down the stairs between TV shows.
  • Do ten squats every time you sit down at the desk or couch.

It all adds up!  Sure, it’s a little quirky, but for 36 pounds a year?  You can do that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Inspiring Workout I’ve Ever Seen

10514684_10152855161295435_4579993386483610974_nI am a gym rat and I’ve seen a lot of amazing athletes there.  I’ve seen one-arm pull-ups, jumps onto a Swiss ball, and dead-lifts that bent the bar.  But the workout that I’m thinking of was a few years ago.  I was feeling sorry for myself because I’d had tennis elbow surgery on my right arm, which rendered my right hand and fingers useless for the time being.  Due to Hurricane Irene, we had lost power for a week after the surgery, so I was doing everything one-handed and lefty.  Try putting on a bra with one hand.  Or cutting anything with a knife.  Or even opening mail.  Woe was me!  It was about the same time that a movie came out about the surfer whose arm had been bitten off by a shark, and previews showed her tucking her surfboard under her good arm, happily running back into the water.  I felt so sorry for myself, but there she was, a story of the triumph of the human spirit.  “Show-off,” I thought.  She was made me look bad, so I turned off the TV.  “No one is that good.”

During that time that I would stoically go to the gym and do whatever I could with one arm.  I had already done a year of physical therapy before the surgery, so I was used to the single-arm workouts, but I was in a full blown state of mental martyrdom after the surgery. “Unable to even hold a pen,” I would tell anyone who asked about the sling.  As I started my warmup, I saw an empty wheelchair, and nearby there was an older woman face down on the floor!  I thought she had fallen, but as I looked a little closer, I realized she was with a trainer, who was guiding her through a barely perceptible motion with her leg. The trainer counted, “Eight, come on, come on, nine.  That’s it.”  You could see the determination in her eyes, and you could see her leg shake as she lifted her foot just a few inches off the floor.  She was so proud when she got to 20!  Heck, I was proud of her, too.  And a little ashamed of myself.

When I thought of not just the physical strength, but the mental fortitude it took, I was blown away by her.  God only knows how she became wheelchair-bound, or what she had gone through just to get to this point.  I could only imagine that this was probably an improvement from wherever she was before.  Just think of her sustained determination: to make the appointment, arrange the ride, and then go out to a public gym to work out with a trainer!  Later the trainer helped her back into the wheelchair to do some more exercises, and she was still there when I left the gym.

There were a few lesson there for me.  The first was that I am only a victim if I choose to see it that way.  The other way to see it is that I was fortunate enough to have an excellent surgeon to restore proper function to my arm and hand.  I was also lucky enough to have a hand with five fingers that would work properly again one day; for me, this was only temporary.  The final lesson was never to underestimate the power of mental strength.  I will always remember that woman when I say to myself, “I can’t do that.”  The question really is, “What CAN I do?”  That’s where I’ll start.  That’s the only place to start.  And then I won’t quit.