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September 16, 2008

An Exercise in Crime and Punishment

I was thinking about what to post today, while squeezing in a bit of exercise during lunch - then it came to me. I realized that sometimes (like today) exercise just plain seems like work. On a bad day, some might even suggest punishment. Most days I'm happy to say I don't look at exercise as punishment, but I will admit there are times that exercising just seems like some sort of evil payback for being overweight.

In recent years I've shifted my thinking about exercise. I look at it as a practice which brings me immediate relief from stress, an overwhelming sense of calm and accomplishment as well as a mechanism to build my strength and stamina. Which I need these days, more than ever.

I just try to remember while I'm exercising that the activity I'm engaged in with ultimately bring me joy and that if in the short term I forget that and give in to my immediate discomfort or boredom, that would be a crime.

One last thing, look for exercise that's fun and provides you with a sense of accomplishment and joy. Don't be a gym rat. Go out and see the world around you. Take up a sport...have some fun. before you know it you'll be fit and the only person you'll be punishing is your opponent!

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Posted by Cindy on September 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 15, 2008

Weighing In: How to Improve Young Girls' Body Image

Over the weekend, a relative's daughter lamented that 'she looked fat.' Having just started first grade, and in reality being very slim, my young relative demonstrates how insidious the fear of fat can be.  Her mother has weight issues, but is careful not to share her frustration, comment on body sizes, or limit foods but clearly needs to do more.  How discouraging to hear her daughter's comment at such a young age.

So what's a concerned parent to do address the issue early on? The Girls Scout/Dove Self-Esteem program called Uniquely ME! was created in 2002 to address the critical nationwide problem of low self-esteem among adolescent and pre-adolescent girls ages 8-17.

Although my relative's daughter is net yet old enough for Girl Scouts, her Brownie leader may be able to obtain an age-appropriate booklet called "uniquely ME! The Way To Be" that can help her recognize her strengths, best attributes,handle peer pressure and understand more about healthy eating. Studies show that girls with a negative body image are more at risk for binge eating, emotional eating and more severe eating disorders in adolescence.

Here are some key values the self-esteem program strives to teach young girls:

  1. Celebrate you!
    Reward yourself when you have accomplished something! You don't need to wait for others to recognize what you've done.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people.
    Spend time with people who are upbeat and feel good about themselves. They, in turn, will put a smile on your face and help you feel good about yourself.
  3. Challenge yourself to try new things.
    Try a ropes course, learn some new dance steps, speak in front of a large group. Stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new things is a great way to grow.
  4. Be good to your body.
    Exercising, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep will help you move toward a healthier you—inside and out!
  5. Find and express the real you.
    No other person has the unique combination of qualities that you have! Be proud of yourself and be courageous enough to express your true feelings.
  6. Have a positive mental attitude.
    A positive attitude is contagious! You'll feel good and people will want to hang out with you.
  7. Learn from your experiences.
    Learn from your actions—both good and bad, and use the knowledge you gain to make positive decisions in the future.
  8. Find the humor in everyday life.
    When you can see the funny side of things, you'll be less stressed and more likely to handle tough situations better.

If you are concerned about your own child, you may want to assist your local Girl Scout group leader to introduce this wonderful program. My personal example shows how important and necessary promoting self-esteem and positive body image in young girls can be.

For more information on this subject, please read Give Your Daughter the Gift of a Positive Body Image and Like Mother, Like Daughter

Posted by Laura on September 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 12, 2008

Weight Loss: You Can Overcome Obesity Gene with Exercise, Study Finds

People with two copies of an obesity-related gene called FTO on average are about 70 percent more likely to be obese than those who do not have the gene. However, a study of Amish people with the FTO gene shows that people are able to nullify the gene's effect with vigorous exercise.

"When we looked at the Amish who were the most active, there is suddenly no effect of that gene," said Dr. Soren Snitker of the University of Maryland, whose study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

With more and more obese people feeling helpless, and a greater number of Americans opting for gastric bypass surgery each year, these findings demonstrate the resilience of the human body to overcome genetic predispositions if we follow a healthy weight loss program.

The food industry has been coming under fire recently (Los Angeles called for a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in July) and have long maintained that people need to increase exercise - not limit their food choices.

"Researchers focused their study on a group of 704 Old Order Amish men and women in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a religious group whose members often do not drive cars or have electricity in their homes.

Snitker said the group offered a unique mix of activity levels, with some farmers in the community still using horse-drawn plows while others holding more conventional jobs, including factory work.

He and colleague Evadnie Rampersaud of the University of Miami were looking to see if physical activity in this group might offset the effects of the fat mass and obesity associated with the FTO gene, found in more than half of all people of European descent." (Reuters)

People in the most physically active group expended about 900 more calories per day than the low-activity group. That would equal three to four hours of moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking, house cleaning or gardening.

Modern Lifestyle and Conveniences to Blame?

"We probably carry genes that 150 years ago were not risk factors for obesity, but because of changes in our environment, they become liabilities," said Snitker.

Researchers recommend that making it easier for people to incorporate what Snitker calls "free" exercise, such as biking/walking to work and providing appropriate weight loss information will help people to overcome any genetic predispositions to obesity and decrease risk for related disease such as type 2 diabetes.

Posted by Laura on September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008

Healthy Recipes: Crispy Chicken Nuggets

Kids love chicken nuggets (and many adults will confess that they do, too), so we're sure that today's healthy recipe will be a hit. Crunchy and tasty, and baked in the oven, these crispy chicken nuggets are a welcome part of a healthy eating dinner. Yum! 

Makes 4 Servings    

12 ounces skinless and boneless chicken breasts    
1 egg, slightly beaten    
1 tablespoon honey   
1 teaspoon prepared mustard   
2 cups cornflakes, crushed   
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450º.
2. Cut chicken into 1 inch chunks.
3. In a small bowl, using a fork, combine egg, honey and mustard.
4. In a medium sized bowl, add the crushed cornflakes and toss with the pepper.
5. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture then roll in cornflakes until covered.
6. Place chicken on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink in the center.   

Serve with your favorite lowfat dipping sauce with a healthy salad (optional)

Posted by Laura on September 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 10, 2008

Healthy Eating: It's Personal!

I've got all kinds of appointments today and, of course, haven't planned ahead on what I will post about today. So I was perusing old posts to see if there were any gems that deserved a little more attention, and came up with this one, slightly modified. It's about how we can successfully make changes in our eating to achieve our health goals, something that is always a challenge in a healthy weight loss program. The challenge comes about because we generally follow 'rules' of the weight loss program instead of listening to and trusting our bodies to tell us what makes us feel well. And when we're feeling well, we're moving towards health and healthy weights, if we're not there already.

I recently took part in a listserv conversation that suggested one way we could effectively make changes in our diets. Of course, it had to do with mindful eating, or intuitive eating, whatever you want to call it. Mindful eating is all about listening to our bodies, and making choices based on how a food makes us feel. The listserv conversation had to do with how to stop eating things that don't make us feel well, not how to eat things that we think we ‘should.’ For many people, those foods include things like chips and candy; others can’t tolerate milk products. Actually, for every food, there’s probably someone who can’t tolerate it.

For people who’ve struggled with eating, it can get a little confusing figuring out what makes us feel well, and what doesn’t. On her excellent website Body Positive, Deb Burgard has an exercise to help people when they’re having trouble deciding. It’s called “Every Body Part Gets a Vote.”

The point is, when we clearly know a food affects us adversely, it’s up to us to decide if we really want that food badly enough to suffer the consequences. It becomes a personal decision motivated by what our bodies tell us – intrinsic motivation -- not one that’s driven by an attempt to meet healthy eating guidelines (an external driver). And intrinsic motivation is what really works.

If you have trouble hearing, understanding or trusting your internal cues that tell you what, when and how much to eat, consider a visit to Green Mountain. That's the focus of our healthy eating, fitness and weight loss program. The good news is, it's liberating and even fun to let go of all those rules and start doing what feels good! And add your story to the many permanent weight loss success stories of the women who come to us.

The leaves are turning fast here, promising to bring us another colorful fall. Join us to see for yourself...and end 2008 on a fabulous note...and start 2009 on one, too!

Posted by Marsha on September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 09, 2008

Coffee…It’s Still A Good Thing!

Coffee_shotIf you’ve visited our 'About Us' page, you will see I spent many years with Starbucks Coffee Company prior to joining Green Mountain at Fox Run. Among other good things, working at a coffee company includes a lot of slurping, spitting and swallowing.

During those years I loved my Starbucks coffee, never really paying attention to the amount of caffeine I ingested every day. (Can we say appropriate portions?) In fact, I enjoyed my coffee so much so, that after missing just one day of that golden elixir, I would slip into a caffeine-headache-induced tail spin that had my closest friends and family looking into some form of coffee rehab. Hello Dr. Drew!

So, you can imagine how happy I was to hear that a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in women (by about 30%), who had a moderate intake of coffee. Besides caffeine, coffee contains polyphenols. Polyphenol those good compounds also found in red wine, which have been linked to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people who drink one to three glasses of red wine a day.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Prevention, tea polyphenols have demonstrated several cancer preventive properties as well. In addition to antioxidant activity, these compounds may reduce abnormal cell growth and inflammation; help the body get rid of cancer-causing agents and restore communication between different cells in the body. Additionally, the Iowa Women's Health Study, found that up to 60 per cent of antioxidants in the diet may come from coffee.  Yippee!

I have switched to decaf these days, but I’ll never give up the flavor. Such a treat. Now,  you’ll have to excuse me…I’m running out to get my double tall decaf soy latte, because a day without coffee is a day without…well, apparently, polyhpenols!  Who knew?

Photo Source: StarbucksStore.com

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Posted by Cindy on September 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2008

Healthy Eating: Changing School Environment Curbs Weight Gain In Children, Study Shows

With kids back to school, many parents are concerned about how schools teach nutrition in the classroom and model it in the lunchroom.  Many schools have taken measures to ensure healthy eating options are available to their students, and have also limited availability of sodas and junkfood in vending machines.

In a recent press release, in fact, Maryland schools are now providing an organic and natural products vending machine called the YoZone created by YoNaturals Inc.

According to a study published in Pediatrics last April, these types of small changes in schools can result in big steps towards preventing childhood obesity. School-based interventions, researchers find, can reduce the incidence of overweight by up to 50 percent and even provide an effective means of preventing childhood weight gain and obesity on a large scale.

“The increasing prevalence and serious consequences of childhood obesity have pushed us to find solutions that go beyond the clinic and reach greater numbers of children,” said lead author Gary Foster, Ph.D., director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. “We focused on school because children spend most of their lives there and eat at least one if not two meals there.”

10 K-8 schools in Philadelphia participated in the two-year study, five of which implemented a multi-faceted nutrition policy formulated by The Food Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to accessible and affordable nutritious food for the public. The remaining schools operated as normal for a control group.

“We incorporated healthy eating into every part of the school day in order to have a greater impact on the students,” said Sandy Sherman, Ed.D., director of nutrition education at The Food Trust. “The intervention fundamentally changed the school environment.”

The weight, height and physical activity of nearly 1400 students in grades 4 through 6 were followed before and after the intervention, (also called the School Nutrition Policy Initiative), which included the following components: school self-assessment, nutrition education, nutrition policy, social marketing and parent outreach.

Nutrition policy

Soda was replaced with water, 100 percent fruit juice and low-fat milk. Snacks were capped at 7 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 360 milligrams of sodium and 15 grams of sugar per serving. Candy was eliminated from the school premises.

Nutrition education

Teachers received 10 hours of training in teaching nutrition, and students received 50 hours of nutrition education over the course of the year.

Social marketing

Kids were rewarded for healthy snacking and encouraged to save their appetites for healthy meals. Nutritious snacks and drinks earned them raffle tickets to win prizes.

Family outreach

Nutrition educators encouraged parents and students to purchase healthy eating snacks. Students were challenged to be less sedentary and more physically active, and to eat more fruits and vegetables.

In the control group, 15 percent of children became overweight during the 2 year period as compared to only 7.5 percent of children in intervention schools. Researchers recommend that, despite the interventions' successful results, stronger or additional interventions and prevention programs may need to be implemented before the 4th grade.

One significant finding was that African American children benefited overall as a group, which is significant considering that rates of childhood obesity are disproportionately higher in urban schools.

“In some inner-city neighborhoods, it’s safer to stay inside after school than to go outside and play. When money is tight, it’s cheaper to feed your kids convenience foods, which are usually higher in fat and calories. Multiple environmental factors are responsible for .. childhood obesity...,” said Foster.

The Food Trust is currently working with Temple University in Philadelphia on a corner store initiative to improve the access and quality of nutritious foods and snacks in that area.

Posted by Laura on September 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 05, 2008

Diabetes: Insidious and Deadly...and Underrated

In a recent focus group conducted by the American Diabetes Association, participants were asked to rank the severity of various health problems including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  On a scale 1 to 10, cancer and heart disease were received 9s and 10s while diabetes/type 2 diabetes only got 4s and 5s.

"The general consensus seems to be, 'There's medication,' 'Look how good people look with diabetes' or 'I've never heard of anybody dying of diabetes,' " said Larry Hausner, chief executive of the American Diabetes Association, which held the focus groups.

Study Finds Most People Underestimate the Health Risks of Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes and diabetes is anything but a minor disease, affecting the entire body, from hearing and vision to sexual function, mental health and sleep. It is the leading cause of blindness and amputation and triples the risk for heart attack and stroke.

"It is a disease that does have the ability to eat you alive," said John Buse, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and ADA President for Medicine and Science.

The challenge for doctors is to convince patients that diabetes is a major health threat.

"We want people to understand this is serious," said Hausner, a former executive with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Type 2 diabetes can lead to liver and kidney disease as well as serious gastrointestinal complications. Men with diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction and women often suffer from vaginal dryness, experts say.

Yes, diabetes and type 2 diabetes is treatable, and new medications are continually being researched and developed, but managing the disease can be difficult. It's not always easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle program, and even with new habits, often expensive care is needed. Researchers hope that by getting the public to take the real risks of the disease seriously will also make it easier to get people focused on type 2 diabetes prevention and early treatment.   

Posted by Laura on September 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2008

Healthy Recipes: Pasta Italiano

We all love pasta, and today's healthy recipe (made with turkey and paprika) is sure to become a zesty family favorite. Try it with whole wheat pasta to make it an even more hearty and healthy eating meal!

Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced   
1 tablespoon paprika 
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) crushed tomatoes   
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) chicken or vegetable stock   
2 cups uncooked pasta (whole wheat if preferred)
2 cups broccoli florettes   
1 cup cauliflower florettes

Crumble ground turkey into skillet. Brown over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper strips and paprika, cook for 2 more minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, broth, and pasta to the skillet. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, over, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid (be careful, the skillet and steam are hot!) and arrange broccoli and cauliflower over the pasta. Replace lid and cook for 10 more minutes.

Posted by Laura on September 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 03, 2008

Diabetes: Sick Fat Cells May Lead to Type 2 Diabetes

A Weight Lifted Blog - Copyright © 2004-2008, Green Mountain at Fox Run

New research from Temple University School of Medicine suggests that overweight and obese people may have less healthy fat cells than people who don't carry extra weight, which is one correlation that may further explain the connection between some obese people and type 2 diabetes (not all overweight or obese people develop type 2 diabetes or are clinically unhealthy).

Scientists studied fat cells found it the thighs of volunteers, found that the cells from obese subjects were not as efficient as those found the slimmer control group. The results lead researchers to label these non-functioning cells as "sick," because they simply don't work the way properly.

“The fat cells we found in our obese patients were deficient in several areas,” said Guenther Boden, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology in a press release. “They showed significant stress on the endoplasmic reticulum, and the tissue itself was more inflamed than in our lean patients.”

Protein synthesis is one of the important functions of fat cells.  If these cells become stressed due to obesity, the part of the cell responsible for protein synthesis (called the endoplasmic reticulum) malfunction. As a result, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may sometimes follow. 

Adopting a healthy lifestyle program to bring about healthy weight loss may help lower the stress on fat cells, and - ultimately - lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

For related information, read "Identification Of Protein That Produces 'Good' Fat, Has Potential To Treat, Prevent Obesity."

Posted by Laura on September 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack