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November 28, 2008

Fitness and Health: Beat the Boredom!

HeartWith the snow and ice outside, my cardio routines have been getting a bit boring…for both mind and body. When my options are limited, I tend to slip into the mentality of “putting in my time” in terms of getting a workout every day…and that certainly eliminates chances of a more intense workout happening. But there are some simple ways to easily increase the intensity of a cardio workout that don’t require sprinting and still achieve your healthy lifestyle goals. Try these ideas to amp up your daily fitness and health routine! The intervals created by throwing in these little bursts of a slightly higher intensity will do wonders for your workout!

Raise your hands above your head for intermittent bursts of time during a walk, aerobics class, or while your dancing around your living room!

Increase either speed or incline during a walk. Choosing a walking path that includes hills provides natural intervals. No hills? Try increasing speed for a few minutes, then returning to a moderate speed for a few minutes.

Try something new! A different mode of exercise challenges the body in new ways. Try enrolling in a kickboxing class, learning to play a sport, or get in the pool.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that moderate intensity exercise should show up in our schedule most days of the week. The duration of exercise recommended by ACSM includes 20 to 60 minutes of continuous or intermittent bouts of aerobic activity accumulated throughout the day. However, something is always better than nothing. Using these suggestions can help make healthy lifestyle management a way of life!

Posted by meredith beckman on November 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 27, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Thanksgiving Turkey Leftover Recipes - Soup

Make this soup and freeze it for easy storage, or give some to leaving relatives! An easy and delicious recipe for turkey soup. Turkey soup is a low fat favorite that's easy to prepare ahead of time and serve later. A great way to use leftover turkey breast!


  • 6lb leftover turkey breast (at least 2 cups diced turkey)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb pastini or pasta of choice


  1. Place turkey breast in 6-quart dutch oven and cover with water until pan is approximately 3/4 full.

  2. Cut onions in large pieces, and slice celery. Add to soup pot.

  3. Bring to boil, then lower heat to medium low. Simmer turkey stock for 2 1/2 hours.

  4. Remove turkey carcass from soup and allow to cool. Devide turkey stock into smaller containers and cool in refridgerator.

  5. Skim fat from top of cooled turkey stock.

    Remove turkey meat from carcass while soup stock is cooling. Dice tukey meat.

  6. Add diced turkey meat, herbs and spices to cooled turkey stock and return to heat.

  7. Bring turkey stock to boil and add pasta. Continue cooking on low boil for about 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Makes approximately 16 one-cup servings.

See more healthy eating recipes from About.com

Posted by Laura on November 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 26, 2008

Healthy Eating: Put A Little 'Pop' In Your Poultry

Here is a healthy turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing. Imagine that!  When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people who are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked but not dried out. Give this a try.

8 - 15 lb. turkey
1 cup melted butter
1  - 2 cups stuffing (Pepperidge Farm)
1 can Swanson's Vegetable Broth
1 cup uncooked popcorn (Orville Redenbacker's Low Fat), salt and pepper to taste
(OPTIONAL) Onion, Celery and Apple. Dice well and fold into stuffing

Prepare the stuffing according to package directions. Use the broth for your liquid. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper.

Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven. Listen for the popping sounds. When that peice that made it over the fence last blows the oven door open and the bird flies across the room, it's done!

And you thought I didn't cook...Happy T-Day!

Author: Anonymous (and wouldn't you want to be?)

Just a little Thanksgiving levity. Remember, preparing the meal is only a small part of enjoying the holidays. Being with friends, family and loved ones and giving thanks is really what it's all about.

For 'real' healthy recipes check out Healthy Recipes For Living.

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Posted by Cindy on November 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 25, 2008

Fitness: Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful!

Snow I woke up this morning to beautiful, freshly fallen snow...and ice underneath...and freezing temperatures. It's easy to let less than desirable weather become an excuse to stay indoors and skip that daily walk. But giving up a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be the only answer when the rain is pouring or the snow is swirling.

On days like today, I like to have a little arsenal of "back up" activites, like a fun workout video, high-energy cd, or game to play, locked away specifically for my rainy days. Days like today are perfect for feeling like a kid again and focusing on that intrinsic movement!

Posted by meredith beckman on November 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 24, 2008

Diabetes: Can Genetic Screening Help Identify Type 2 Diabetes Risk?

Although genetic screening does seem to help identify people at risk for type 2 diabetes, current methods are just as effective.

In a couple of new studies, researchers looked at newly discovered "genetic variants" for  an associated increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Results for both studies showed that the risk for type 2 diabetes increased with the more genetic variants found in the volunteers.

However, the screeening did little to outweight the benefit of traditional screening methods, which include family history, obesity and impaired glucose tolerance, according to diabetes researcher James B. Meigs, MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

"The genomic revolution is here, and it is possible to predict risk for diseases like diabetes by assessing genetic risk factors," says Meigs. "But this field is in its infancy. The message here is, 'stay tuned.'"

Read full article at WebMD

Posted by Laura on November 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2008

Fitness: A Case of the Fridays

Dog You’ve heard of having a ‘case of the Mondays,’ right? Well, I find I’m more likely to fall under the influence of Friday rather than Monday. On the first day of the weekend, the last thing I want to do is pencil a workout into my last-day-of-the-week schedule. Because everyone suffers at one time or another from lack of motivation in terms of moving their bodies, I’ve put together a nice list of ideas to prevent throwing in the towel entirely on such days.

1. Make plans with a workout buddy. I’ve recently been working out with a friend five days a week, and am proud to announce I’ve only missed one workout this week…and felt horribly guilty about leaving her hanging that day. Though I wasn’t always excited before the workout, I never walked away regretting it.
2. Choose recreation. Have an activity planned especially for low motivation days that’s nothing but fun. Play with your dog, go dancing with friends, or maybe even go shopping – power walking from store to store of course.
3.Create the perfect playlist. If you’re like me, the perfect lineup of tunes can get you through almost anything…and probably even help you enjoy it. Having an arsenal of playlists with different genres of music can help you feel satisfied with what you’re hearing while in any type of mood.
4. Plan a reward. The right incentive can go a long way. A movie night with the girls, that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, or giving yourself permission to sleep in an hour later the next morning might be all you need to push through your workout.
5. Phone a friend. I have a girlfriend that I can call up at any time who is prepared to motivate me at the first sign of giving in. Awhile back I told her I needed her to be that motivational buddy who I can pull from whenever I need an extra push. She’s never failed me.

Of course, some days our bodies really need a break. It's most important to enjoy movement and listen to our body's cues...even if that means hitting the hay early and moving tomorrow when it can truly be enjoyed.

Posted by meredith beckman on November 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 20, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Kasha-Vegetable Pilaf

Today's healthy recipe is from a blog called Dewey's Treehouse, which also contains links to pages with information about the healthy eating benefits from kasha. Because it is made from buckwheat, which is not a grain, kasha is useful for those who are trying to eliminate gluten from their diets.

1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (we skipped this; see below, it's a garnish)

1 1/2 cups dry kasha

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 1/2 cups boiling water

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup frozen peas (I skipped these and used one can of corn niblets instead)

If you're doing the onion garnish: in a small skillet, heat oil and saute onion until it turns medium brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place kasha in an ungreased skilled over medium-low heat, and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until the kasha becomes slightly darker. Add the beaten egg and stir quickly to coat the grains. Immediately add boiling water but do not stir. Add vegetables on top. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, kasha is puffy, and sweet potato is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle sauteed onions on top, if you want them. (It's suggested that you can also add the raw onions to the kasha along with the other vegetables instead of sauteeing them.)

Posted by Laura on November 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 19, 2008

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Tips to Guarantee Holiday Weight Gain

The annual holiday food fight is about to begin.  You know, the one where conflicted women nationwide (even worldwide) face down rich-food eating traditions.

This year, to help women understand what doesn’t work when it comes to happy holidays, the healthy-weight experts at Green Mountain at Fox Run have come up with some sure-fire tips to take the guesswork out of gaining those holiday pounds.  We counter them with sensible advice for emerging from the holidays feeling great.

For Guaranteed Holiday Weight Gain

Before the Holidays

·      Diet! Diet! Diet!  Let’s face it, you expect to overeat during the holidays so why not get a jump on weight loss now?  If you’re feeling truly ambitious, try dieting during the holidays, too; the deprivation will be highly effective at driving you to overeat.  Our real advice:  Learn to eat what you want now in a way that leaves you feeling great.  Then the holidays won’t pose any special challenge, and you can enjoy them fully.

·      Work out extra hard and long every day.  You can make up for those times during the holidays when you won’t want or have the time to do anything.  Our real advice:  When we overdo on exercise, we’re more likely to burn out, or worse yet, injure ourselves, and guarantee we don’t want to do anything.  Slow and steady wins the race.

·      Start weighing yourself daily.  You’ll be able to follow your weight up and down the scale, and cut back even more when you’ve gained an ounce.  Then you’ll heighten your feelings of deprivation even more, further guaranteeing holiday overindulgenceOur real advice:  Toss out the scale now and for always.  It generally doesn’t give the instant gratification we seek, and often negatively impacts our motivation to take care of ourselves.

During the Holidays

·      Take on as much work as you can.  If you don’t do it, who will?  The holidays just aren’t the holidays without all the fuss!  Our real advice:  Choose wisely in what you commit to.  You may end up with fewer or simpler celebrations but you’ll enjoy the holidays much more.

·      Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel guilty about eating.  It’s easier to say ‘no’ when your spouse, mother, sister, daughter, friend looks disapprovingly at you as you reach for that wonderful holiday sprinkled cookie.  Our real advice:  Educate family and friends about the real impact of their attempts to control what you eat.  If they won’t listen, minimize your time around them when you’re eating.  It may mean missing a party or meal, but you might feel much better as a result.

·      Forget about stress management for now.  You’re too busy!! Just focus on getting what you need to get done.  And be sure to really have too much to do before big parties.  If you can pick a fight with your spouse on the way to a party, all the better to guarantee extra emotional overeatingOur real advice:  Take care of yourself physically and mentally to help keep a balanced view on what’s important during busy times.  Maybe the easiest thing to do:  Get some exercise! Physical activity refreshes, relaxes, revitalizes and will add energy and enthusiasm to your life.  Make it a regular part of your day during the holidays and after.

Before & During Parties

·      Make sure every social event revolves around food.  If you throw the party yourself, make too much food, especially desserts!  Set up nuts and other goodies early so you can pick at them all day long while you skip meals.  You do eat fewer calories that way, right?  Our real advice:  Traditional foods are a big part of festivities, but holidays don’t have to be all about food.  Plan fun activities such as pumpkin bowling (knock down gourd ‘pins’ with small pumpkins), a pine cone toss (count how many pine cones you can land inside a hula hoop) or just fun and refreshing walks through the woods, around the neighborhood talking to friends you pass.

·      Set a ‘hands-off’ rule for all the rich foods you’ll encounter.  If you just say ‘no,’ you’ll be able to nip any weight gain in the bud!  Our real advice:  When we forbid foods or label them ‘bad,’ we set ourselves up for overeating them.  Again, learn to eat foods you love – even those rich in calories, fat, sugar – in a manner that makes you feel well.  That way, you’ll enjoy them and, if you’re following a healthy lifestyle, you’ll enjoy a healthy weight, too.

·      Go ahead and buy all those goodies on sale in jumbo packages.  They’re for your guests; they won’t create any problem for you having them around.  Our real advice:  Good intentions aside, mere exposure to food often sets us up for wanting to at least taste it, especially if we’ve got the idea we shouldn’t.  Help yourself by buying only as much as you really need, and even then, it might help to keep goodies tucked out of sight in the pantry until party time. 

·      Bank calories whenever possible.  Skip breakfast and lunch to make sure you’ll overeat at the party.  Our real advice: Feeding yourself well all the time leaves you better nourished and able to choose wisely whether at parties or the food court at the mall.

Posted by Marsha on November 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 18, 2008

Fitness: Yoga for Peace of Body and Mind

Yoga Sunset This is the time of year when things seem to begin to spiral out of control. Stress builds with the approach of the holidays, visits from family and friends, the end of the work year, making travel plans, and of course the many celebrations centered around food and drink, making mindful eating difficult. As I began thinking about my own personal quest to try not to let my fitness and health slip during these few months, I landed on the idea that maybe it wasn’t just my body that would need the extra attention.

During one particularly busy semester in college – two jobs on top of seven classes – I created a very acute fitness plan for myself. Every day I carved out 30 minutes somewhere for a yoga session, supplemented only with my daily treks across campus. Aside from keeping me in shape, I was more focused and clear-headed than ever before, even with the many responsibilities I held.

With stress being a major contributor to a wide array of health problems, a workout that creates peace in the body, mind, and spirit might have far more benefits than one may think. This holiday season, why not couple a workout with some major stress reduction? Try bringing some peace to your body and mind with yoga!  

Posted by meredith beckman on November 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 17, 2008

Type 2 Diabetes May Increase Your Risk for Tuberculosis

A study from the University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus (UTSPH) indicates that Type 2 diabetes patients may be more likely to contract tuberculosis (TB).

From the diabetes blog at About.com:

  • Type 2 diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes involving chronic high blood sugar, is associated with altered immune response to TB, and this was particularly marked in patients with chronically high blood sugar.

  • Patients with diabetes and TB take longer to respond to anti-TB treatment.

  • Patients with active tuberculosis and Type 2 diabetes are more likely to have multi-drug resistant TB.

Joseph B. McCormick, M.D., UTSPH regional dean, believes that that these results herald new avenues of treatment.

"It opens a door to doing something about it," said McCormick, the university's James H. Steele Professor. "We can educate physicians and offer more TB screenings. We have an opportunity to make sure patients are diagnosed correctly and that there is no delay in diagnosis."

It can be hard to avoid an airborne illness like TB, but if you have if you have Type 2 diabetes, it's extremelymaintain your blood sugar.  If it's out of control, you're more at risk for TB.

Posted by Laura on November 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack