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November 30, 2007

Planning for Healthy Eating

889136_fresh_veg_1Sometimes it pays to do what you are supposed to do. While waiting for my car to be serviced the other day, I started leafing through professional journals to see if I was missing any important new info. Nothing really big popped up, but I did discover a short article that listed a variety of resources to help people with planning healthy meals. That's a big question that comes up frequently at Green Mountain at Fox Run -- do we really need to plan menus and, if so, help!

The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. Although planning can be very different than many of us think. Instead of the written-in-stone menus that we might be familiar with -- you know, monday at breakfast, lunch or dinner i'll eat this, tuesday i'll eat that, etc... -- meal planning can be as simple as putting together a list of foods you know you like, and making sure to keep ingredients for those meals on hand. Of course, it also helps to think about other things that impact whether we get around to putting a meal on the table, like time and energy. So it's also a good idea to include in our lists quick and easy meals, or dishes that we can make for more than one meal, and freeze or just keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days until we feel like eating it again.

The second question -- the how -- I just answered to an extent. But I also wanted to share these resources for healthy eating. These are good for people who are trying to achieve healthy weights, manage PCOS, stay on a Type 2 diabetes program for management, or any other the myriad of problems that what we eat has an impact on. Here are some of my favorite resources for healthy menu planning from the article I read:

- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension -- Popularly known as the DASH diet, this plan is about healthy eating for more diet-related problems than high blood pressure (hypertension). The booklet this link takes you to has a lot of info on cutting calories (which regular readers of this blog will know we have a problem with -- the focus on calories, not the actual reduction of intake, that is). So just ignore that focus, and instead take in all the good info on healthy eating it contains. You can download a pdf of the booklet, which gives you a week's worth of menus and easy-to-prepare recipes.

- Cooking with Google -- Just type in the ingredients you have on hand into the Google search engine, and it will come back with dozens of recipes for you to try. My favorite -- and generally dependable to be good -- are from Food Network.

- National Diabetes Education Program Meal Planner -- This is a basic primer for people with diabetes, and contains some pretty good sounding recipes, too. If you're an old hand at planning healthy meals for diabetes, it's probably too basic for you.

- Cooking Safely in the Microwave Oven -- Full of good info to help us do what it says. As far as making it taste good, well, you're on your own. I know a lot of people swear by cooking in the microwave; I reserve it for heating up and cooking vegetables. So if you have any great-tasting microwave dishes, please, let us know!

Those are just a few resources to get us started. A Google search could probably turn up many more. So happy hunting...and cooking!

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Posted by Marsha on November 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2007

Healthy Recipe: Healthy Holiday Appetizers

Invited to another holiday buffet and wondering how you can still eat healthily? Make it it easy on yourself and enjoy the holiday festivities without overindulging. Here are two great tasting, festive and healthy recipe ideas from Green Mountain at Fox Run's Recipes for Living cookbook to bring to the party.

(Makes about 1 ½ cups)

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in food processor. Cover and process until smooth. (Hummus will keep in refrigerator for about a week). Serve with fresh veggies such as carrots, red pepper, jicama and pea pods and toasted whole-grain pita wedges*.

*To make toasted pita wedges, heat oven to 375 ° f., cut pita bread in quarters, lightly brush with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet; bake about 15 minutes.

Yogurt Dip
(Makes about 1 cup dip)

1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with fresh fruit such as apple and pear wedges.

For more healthy eating recipes, check out the other delicious recipes listed on this blog or visit Green Mountain Healthy Living Recipe Favorites.

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Posted by Laura on November 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 27, 2007

Healthy Living - Avoiding Staph At The Gym

Most of us probably don’t think much about getting a staph infection when we go to our local gym. Heaven forbid! Staph infection is something you only catch in the boy’s locker room, right? The truth is, staph infection is becoming more and more common, and more dangerous and can be found most commonly in hospitals but it can also be found in schools and gyms.

I think it’s worth talking about since winter is a time when many of us come indoors to escape the brutal cold and find ourselves braving the gym. And, if the gym is a relatively new environment for you, you may not be privy to gym protocol and most importantly, hygiene. You may even assume that when you walk up to an unused piece of equipment that it’s free of dangerous germs.

The next time you’re in the gym and see that big hairy sweaty guy dripping all over the bicycle in front of you – assume there have been many sweaty guys and gals who’ve been there ahead of him and that none of them have done much more than wipe a towel across the handle bars if that. All together now…Ewww! Always use the disinfectant spray gyms provide to wipe before and after you use a machine.

Here are some facts about staph:

• What to avoid: The bacteria is transmitted through person-to-person contact or by using an infected person's belongings. So to prevent the infection, wash your hands frequently with soap and water — using soap from a bottle, not bar soap, which can breed the bacteria — or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors. And keep cuts and scrapes clean, apply antibiotic ointment and cover them with a bandage.

• Recognize: If any cut or scrape becomes red, hot or infected, see a doctor immediately. In its early stages, MRSA infections may resemble pimples or boils, and they're commonly mistaken for spider bites. It also can manifest as a rash, and may be accompanied by fever or fatigue.

• Where it lives: About 85 percent of MRSA infections originate in health-care settings. So hospital patients should be on the lookout for the symptoms mentioned above and notify a nurse if any arise.

• Treatment: Skin abscesses must be drained by a doctor, and patients are then given an antibiotic, one of the drugs that MRSA hasn't developed a resistance against. More serious infections may require hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics and other treatments.

Read more on the subject from Alexis Grant of the Houston Chronicle here

Posted by Cindy on November 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2007

Diabetes and Fitness: Pedometers Motivate People With Diabetes To Walk More

In a recent walking study from the University of Michigan Health System and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System designed to determine the effectiveness of certain types of goal-setting, pedometers have come out on top.  Researchers have found that using a pedometer and tracking your physical activity levels (the study used a website for recording) can be powerful motivators. 

For six weeks, participants were given weekly goals based on their previous week's activity and wore pedometers to measure their progress. Fifty percent of the study subjects had "lifestyle goals", meaning that they counted the total number of steps during the day.  The other half with "structured goals" only counted steps taken during walks for 10 minutes or more, and aimed for a smaller or 'target' number of steps than the lifestyle group.

In other words, a healthy lifestyle group participant would have her steps counted whether she went for a half-hour walk or just walked outside to get the mail, while the structured group would only have the half-hour walk counted. But in both groups, the increase in the daily totals came from activities like half-hour walks, not by taking more short trips to the mailbox, to and from the car, or visiting a co-worker down the hall. (Medical News Today)

Healthy Lifestyle Goals

Both groups demonstrated significant increases in their walking, and were comparable in the overall amount of rise of fitness activity. What's interesting is the participant's satisfaction with each of the assigned types of goals. The healthy lifestyle group reported feeling more satisfied than the structured group, and ended up wearing the pedometer more days and for more hours each day during the study.

The finding sheds light on a debate among exercise experts about the ways in which people should increase their levels of activity. Some have contended that the only effective walking programs are those in which long periods of activity (known as "bout steps" in this study) are counted. Others have said that counting every step is a better motivator and is just as effective as bout-step programs.

"Walkers in the group where every step counted experienced the same benefit as those who just had their bout steps recorded," says lead author Caroline R. Richardson, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the U-M Medical School and research scientist at the Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. "The fact that they were also more satisfied with their program suggests that this approach may be more successful for many people than a program that only recognizes long periods of activity." (Medical News Today)

The study, which appears in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, included 35 people with type 2 diabetes who were both overweight and sedentary. Among the 30 participants who completed the study, steps taken during longer walks lasting 10 minutes or more increased by about 1,900 to 2,700 steps a day, and the increases were roughly the same in both the lifestyle and structured groups. Even though the lifestyle-goals group had every step counted, they, like their counterparts in the other group, chose to increase their walking by taking longer walks rather than by accumulating more steps during many short walks.

The Power of Pedometers

Sticking with an enjoyable program is much more likely to succeed with diabetes prevention or improving diabetes.  Pedometers were helpful in both groups in raising fitness levels, but aiming for a healthy lifestyle goal may be much more effective in the long term because people find it more satisfying and easier to incorporate in their every day lives.

For more information about weight management with pedometers, read National Weight Registry’s 10,000 Steps: Moving For Life. You can find an excellent pedometer at the Fitwoman.com's Healthy Lifestyle Shop. It makes a great gift for a loved one or yourself!

Posted by Laura Brooks

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Posted by Laura on November 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2007

One Piece of Pumpkin Pie Never Made Anyone Fat!

But the whole pie...now that's another story!

Most of us who have visited Green Mountain at Fox Run have heard this pearl of healthy eating wisdom before.  And why do we understand this concept? Because we’ve lived it successfully – many times. 

When we diet, or restrict ourselves from the foods we love, we are often restricting certain foods and/or food groups that we may consider trigger foods.  We eat this way until we can’t take it anymore, which could be a day, a week, a month or possibly longer. But ultimately, we tumble down that slippery slope of deprivation right into a vat of cookie batter.

On this upcoming holy of holy American eating days, Thanksgiving, lets try to remember that listening to your internal cues, eating til you are satisfied and giving yourself permission to do so, may be the key to unlock a lovely holiday which will not only satisfy your tummy and your pallet, but more importantly, your heart.

Happy Eating!

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Posted by Cindy on November 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

Getting Ready To Be Thankful

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S., when many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate another year.  I love Thanksgiving because my family usually spends the day at home (maybe a relative’s home, but it’s a home) with a group of people we feel very special about. 

We have a special Thanksgiving meal for the folks who choose to be at Green Mountain on this day, too.  It ends up being a very festive day, and most of the folks who join us appreciate not having to make their own Thanksgiving meal.  That’s usually my job – I’m the only cook in my East Coast family, although my husband started learning this year, and he’s doing a great job.

Several years ago, we started the tradition in our family of each of us speaking aloud what we’re thankful for.  It’s fun to do that – in the early stages, our repressed family was a little embarrassed to say what they were really thinking, but we got used to it, and now we enjoy telling each other how thankful we are that they are in our lives.  Because that’s usually what we all end up saying to each other.

I found this ‘thankful list’ on an interesting blog the other day.  It makes for a bit more humor in the reciting.  Some of the things people say they are thankful for include:

• Toilet paper (for obvious reasons)
• My electric blanket, foot bag and peppermint mocha creamer for my coffee.
• I’m thankful that even though I feel like I’m talking to air 99% of the time, I do get a kid who comes back and tells me, “Hey, I actually learned something.” I wish more of them did this.
• Nacho Cheese Combos
• That I have 10 healthy toenails.
• Trash cans
• That I’m just as excited about a life-sized Malenium Falcom cockpit as J.

I don't know what a life-sized malenium Falcom cockpit is, but makes me giggle. Hope you have some really great giggles tomorrow – even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving.  And that you stop to think about what you’re thankful for.

Posted by Cindy for Marsha while she is away...enjoying her family.

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Posted by Cindy on November 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 19, 2007

Diabetes: A Closer Look at Healthy Eating to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

The silver lining to being at risk for type 2 diabetes is that you truly CAN control and prevent it by being more mindful about the foods you eat.

This holiday many of us stop thinkig about ourselves and our health as much as we ought with all the fun (and stress) of shopping, traveling, entertaining, etc.

How about instead of agonizing about "the perfect gift" for someone else, first try giving yourself a gift by planning ways to manage the stress and focus on healthy eating strategies?   

Studies demonstrate a healthy eating lifestyle that includes whole grains, fruits, veggies (all those good nutritious foods doctors go on about for good reason) diminish your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

But let's take a closer look at what the experts recommend.  For example, proponents for diabetes education at John Hopkins University suggest a 4-pronged approach (from Yahoo!Health):

  • Healthy Weight Loss. Healthy Weight Loss, by reducing overall calorie intake, is a straightforward way to help prevent diabetes. But don't get hung up on what your specific calorie should be; just think about reducing. If you don't need to lose weight, go on to some of the other strategies.
  • Fats. Research shows that people whose diets contain the lowest percentage of calories from fat reduce their risk of developing diabetes the most. (Persons who actually have diabetes must limit saturated fat consumption to 7 percent of total calories.) To prevent diabetes, strive for a daily intake where less than 30 percent of your total calories come from fat and less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat. (See diabetes food pyramid image above right.)
  • Fiber and whole grains. Aim for 25 grams or more of fiber each day. Fiber is listed on every food label. To help you reach your daily fiber goal, look for foods with more than 5 grams of daily fiber per serving. Choose foods whose list of ingredients contains the words "whole grain" or "whole wheat" as the first ingredient.
  • Fruits and vegetables. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that our bodies need. Fruits and vegetables are also fat-free foods, so they're generally lower in calories than other food choices.

Try our recently posted Mushroom Barley Soup; it's a healthy soup that helps to prevent type 2 diabetes by providing key minerals, nutrients and fiber. And, for more helpful information about reducing stress, please read Mindfulness During the Holidays: Strategies for Mindful Eating and Healthy Behaviors.

Make the most of the holidays and take care of yourself!  You'll be thankful you did.

Posted by Laura Brooks

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Posted by Laura on November 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2007

Healthy Recipe: Yam, Arugula and Cranberry Toss

This is a tasty dish to serve on a cool fall day. It pairs well with a grilled chicken breast but it could be a colorful addition to your healthy eating Thanksgiving dinner. Of course if you are serving it for a crowd you can easily double or triple the healthy recipe.

Makes 2-3 servings

2 cups diced yams, winter squash or sweet potatoes
½ medium red onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt or herb salt
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 cups arugula

Heat oven to 375° F. Peel yams and dice into ½- inch cubes; toss yams and onions with olive oil. Spread on shallow baking dish or pizza pan; sprinkle with salt and bake for 30-35 minutes. Five minutes before removing yams from the oven, spread chopped pecans on the edge of the pan and continue to bake. Remove from oven and place mixture into a serving dish. Add dried cranberries and arugula; toss. Serve warm.

For more healthy eating recipes, check out the other delicious recipes listed on this blog or visit Green Mountain Healthy Living Recipe Favorites.

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Posted by Laura on November 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 14, 2007

Mindfulness During the Holidays

ThanksgivingIt’s that time of year again! The onslaught of holiday food makes many of us a little nervous.  Are we going to come out the other end feeling great, indulged in a lot of healthy eating (realizing the definition of healthy eating is much broader this time of year), having enjoyed the many delights of the season?

One of the ways to guarantee that is to focus on the delights of the season…and realize that there’s more to it than food. Family, friends, fun…a recipe for a great time and good memories.

Our latest FitBriefing "Mindfulness During the Holidays: Strategies fo Healthy Behaviors" has some useful tips for this time of the year. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the US!

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Cindy posting for Marsha Hudnall

Posted by Cindy on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2007

Holiday Survival Tip - Give Yourself Some Slack!

Enjoy the holiday season for what it really is – a special time spent with loved ones.  We all have the tendency to ‘over do’.  Whether that means over-indulgence in food or too much focus on getting your workouts in, don’t forget the more important things in life.  A couple missed workouts, a piece of pecan pie or a toast made with Champagne never made anyone fat!

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Posted by Cindy on November 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack