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December 16, 2008

Just Say 'NO' to sugar?

940675_pet_rat A research team out of Princeton headed by psychology professor Bart Hoebel tested heavy doses of sugar on rats and found that the sugar had many addictive traits, similar to those seen with such highly addictive drugs as cocaine. These initial studies revealed that sugar has the same type of impact on the brain as some of these other drugs.

Hmm, sugar is as addicting as heroin or cocaine. Now, before you all join together in a carb-craving rallying cry, “I told you so!” “I’m hooked on sugar.” It’s like crack!” “SEE! It really IS like crack!” I want to say, I have my little doubts.

Now, I’m the first to admit that at times I’ve felt like I ‘can’t do sugar’. I usually joke to my friends that apparently I’m not mature enough to enjoy a piece of cake now and then, because once I indulge, its cake all the time.

But, if I’m being fair to myself and really look at those situations when I finally decide to partake in sweet treats, it is often when I haven’t been feeding myself, or taking care to manage my stress.

Something else to consider is that women are more attracted to carbohydrates because of the  neurotransmitters in our brains. If we eat sugar when we’re hungry, we’re much more likely to return to sugar in an effort to get satisfied. Hence...more cake!

In the interest of science, what I want to know is, when they shoved those little rats full of sugar, were they happy and full of cheese beforehand? Were they asked nicely if they cared for an after dinner mint, or just force fed M&M’s within an inch of their lives?

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

December 15, 2008

Diabetes: Fast Heart Rate Warns of Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes

Findings published in the Dec. 11 online issue of the American Journal of Hypertension show that a 'too-fast' heartbeat in early adulthood could herald cardiovascular problems later in life.

The study of 614 residents of a rural farming community in southwestern Japan found that a heart rate greater than 80 beats a minute during a first examination in 1979 predicted the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which contribute to heart problems.

"If someone has a consistently fast heart rate, it is because of increased input from the sympathetic part of the nervous system because the body is preparing to respond to stress," says Mercedes Carnethon, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. . "There is an increase in levels of blood glucose -- essentially because the body is storing energy to prepare for fight or flight, so that predisposes to type 2 diabetes."

(from HealthDay News)

Posted by Laura on December 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2008

Fitting in Fitness during the Holiday Season

Run-run-rudolph It's a common theme during the holiday season:  "I have so much to do, how will I ever stay with my fitness plan?"  It's true; we commonly overcommit ourselves during this time which means, for many of us, that we turn self-care into a luxury instead of a priority.

If keeping your healthy weight loss program going is an overall goal, there's another commonality during this time.  Experts agree that we will do better by putting weight loss goals on hold; just aim for maintenance.  Given that many of us gain weight during the holidays, preventing holiday weight gain is a step forward.  

But back to the fitness issue.  Our most recent FitBriefing "Run, Run, Rudolph" gives some timely tips for keeping your fitness program going right now.  Experts agree making a holiday fitness plan is key to succeeding.  A snippet from the article:

Making a Holiday Fitness Plan

First step:Add fitness to your “To Do” list.
Second step:Re-work your goals – are they realistic? Think maintenance.
Third step:Acknowledge you have to be flexible because you have less time available.

Read the whole article (it's short) for strategies for making or keeping fitness part of your life during busy times.

Posted by Marsha on December 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 11, 2008

Healthy Recipes: Smoked Trout Spread

How about a healthy eating and tasty appetizer to add to that holiday party table (and year-round, too)? This Smoked Trout Spread provides satisfying protein and important omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, it’s oh so easy! Serve with crisp crackers, thin sliced French bread or even as a vegetable dip. Want to get creative? Mold into a fish shape or scoop into a pretty holiday dish and serve.

(Makes about 1 ½ cups)

½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup coarsely flaked smoked trout (about 8 ounces)
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce or 1 tablespoon horseradish (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

In bowl of a food processor, puree the ricotta cheese until smooth; stir in Tabasco sauce (or horseradish), scallions, and dill and lemon juice. Fold in trout and season with salt and pepper. Scoop into serving container or shape into mold; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Today's healthy recipe adapted from the Silver Palate cookbook.

Posted by Laura on December 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2008

Healthy Eating: Waiting to Exhale

Yesterday a lovely lady who is enrolled in our healthy weight management program stopped by for a brief chat. She told me she had been communicating with all her friends and family back home about her experiences here. I wanted to share a comment she made to her mother. It’s one of the best dieting analogies I’ve heard in quite some time.

In a conversation with her mother, (who she admitted was a life-long dieter), she schooled her about why diets don't work . She said, “You know, mom, being on a diet is like holding your breath. You can only do it for so long. Eventually, you’re going to have to breathe!”

Brilliant! Maybe it’s been used before, maybe even around here, but I’ve never heard it and I just thought I’d share. For all you life long dieters out there, nothing else needs to be said. The truth, is the truth. And honey, you just said a mouthful.

Stop dieting, start living y'all!

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Posted by Cindy on December 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 08, 2008

Diabetes: Body Clock Gene, Melatonin and Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

In several past posts, I've blogged about genetics and type 2 diabetes.  Now more research finds a possible connection between the disease and a gene responsible for our internal 'clock.'

Published online on December 7th in Nature Genetics, an international group of scientists revealed the results of studying ten genome-wide association scans covering over 36,000 people of European descent:  a variation of a gene (called melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B)) which regulates how our body reacts to the 24-hour day cycle (or body clock) is strongly associated with high blood sugar and may also lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Melatonin, which is a hormone that falls during the day and reaches a top level at night and can be involved in sleep disturbances such as insomnia and jetlag. Sleep problems have been known to affect a variety of other health problems, including diabetes. Melatonin, and the sleep patterns it regulates, also affects the pancreas, which does not produce insulin properly in diabetic patients.

"We have extremely strong, incontrovertible evidence that the gene encoding melatonin receptor 1B is associated with high fasting glucose levels and increased risk of type 2 diabetes," says Co-author Professor Mark McCarthy of the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Oxford, UK.

Scientists still need to find the exact mechanism for this link between the melatonin receptor 1B, insulin production and diabetes, but this study is one more step in the right direction.

(Read the full article at Medical News Today)

Posted by Laura on December 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 05, 2008

Health and Fitness: The Rhythm is Gonna Getcha

Blog music fitness I had a lot of cleaning and organizing to do yesterday evening, and I wasn’t exactly in the mood for it. But, I can put those things on the back burner for so long, so I put on my most upbeat playlist, kicked off my shoes, and began to tackle the job. Before I knew it, I was throwing in a little air guitar here, a few salsa steps there, and by the time I was finished "cleaning," I had broken into a full-blown sweat.

Music has the ability to influence mood in a major way, but can it do more than just bring us out of a slump? According to a study done at the University of Plymouth, it may be able to aid us in our quest for improving fitness and health. The study suggests that fast, loud music might be played to enhance optimal exercising. Gloria Estefan sure wasn’t kidding when she claimed, "The rhythm is gonna getcha." So crank your favorite high-energy songs and let the tunes take your workout to new heights. Though it may not help us improve mindful eating, music may be an effective avenue to a more  healthy lifestyle!

Posted by meredith beckman on December 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 04, 2008

Healthy Recipes: Banana-Orange Bran Muffins with Pecans and Raisins

This healthy recipe is from the American Institute for Cancer Reseach (AICR). The majority of the laboratory research on diet and cancer suggests that eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans will lower your risk of developing the disease. These muffins are packed with healthy eating nutrients and antioxidents.  Plus, they're yummy! 

Makes 12 muffins

Nonstick cooking spray1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil or light olive oil
1 1/2 cups bran flakes cereal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins, regular or golden
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In large bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, orange juice concentrate, egg and oil. Stir in bran flakes. Let sit about 15 minutes to soften cereal.

In separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to cereal mixture and stir just until combined. Gently fold in raisins and pecans. Spoon batter evenly into muffin tins. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Cool 5 minutes in tin.

Posted by Laura on December 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 03, 2008

How Much Stress Do Weight Worries Create for You?

The contribution of the holidays aside, stress is a constant in our lives.  What we often don't realize, however, is how much concern about weight can cloud all we do, adding stress to even the happiest situations.

A timely example:  You're invited to a holiday party but don't have anything to wear.  You don't want to go shopping because you know you'll have a tough time finding anything that looks good on you. Plus, you worry about the food.  Will it be rich?  Will you be able to resist eating too much of it, giving up all hope of managing emotional eating as you reach for yet another bite?  Will you gain weight as a result?  Will all eyes be focused on you as you eat -- you know they'll be wondering why someone who looks like you has no willpower, or someone who has type 2 diabetes or who just 'lost all that weight,' would make the choice to eat such food. 

Whether your worries are founded in reality or not, the issue is the same.  We add enormous stress to our lives with such thoughts, that are ruled by our image of ourselves as fat, undeserving and unacceptable.

One of our oldie but goodie FitBriefings -- Accept Your Wonderful Self -- speaks to the issue of body image, self-esteem and liking who we are -- which is much more than what we weigh.

Are you aware of how much weight worries create stress in your life?  Isn't it time to begin supporting yourself with your thoughts instead?

Posted by Marsha on December 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 02, 2008

Fitness and Health: The Driving Muscle

Ballet Yes. There is a muscle on the front of your lower leg. Chances are your right tibialis anterior is much stronger, less tight, and better developed than the left. Why? Because that pedal-to-the-metal action is a perfect strengthening exercise for the lovely muscle. Aside from driving, strengthening this muscle can result in greater ankle stability, a lesser chance of developing shin splints, and prevents the toe from grazing the ground during the swinging phase while walking. It also is responsible for the inward and outward rotating movements at the ankle and supports the arch of the foot.

Every time the toes are raised, the “driving muscle” is getting a mini strength training session. Who said a workout can’t be done in the car? Although driving is somewhat responsible for the development and the strength of the right tibialis anterior, it’s probably best to perform the following resistance exercise in a less, er, mobile setting. Incorporate these exercises into your healthy lifestyle!

Sit in a chair or lay flat on your back with feet flat on the floor. During an exhale, pull the toes upward off the floor slowly, while squeezing the tibialis anterior. Slowly return the toes to the floor, but put no weight on the toes. As soon as the toes touch the floor, pull them slowly upwards again. Continue to repeat the motion, slowly and controlled, 12 times. Three sets of 12 repetitions are adequate for strengthening the tibialis anterior. Between sets, point the toes and rotate inward and outward at the ankle to stretch.

Who knew such a simple exercise could be part of the quest for better fitness and health?!


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