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January 30, 2009

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be an Old Woman

Some things are just too good not to share.  This video is one of them.  It encourages us to get mammograms.  That's good, too, although not why I posted the video.  Watch it; I'm sure you'll understand my why.

One other good thing I want to share:  a blog called The Gimpy Girls: Solutions for Baby Boomers, the Disabled and the Just Plain Lazy.  That's where I found this video.  Now I'm looking for time to read more of the blog.

Have a great weekend!!

Posted by Marsha on January 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 23, 2009

Your Healthy Lifestyle: Are Snowshoes in Your Future?

 Women-snowshoe We received the following write-up from Kim Lung, one of our Green Mountain alumnae, who, like several of us on staff, is a snowshoe addict (well, not that extreme, but she loves it!).

Snowshoeing is a fun, easy addition to a healthy lifestyle that helps you enjoy the delights of the season.  Unlike cross-country skiing which requires a certain amount of skill, balance and athletic ability, snowshoeing is much easier than you might think, and the impact to your knees is less than you might expect. Further, the right snowshoe makes a huge difference in your experience. I’ve compiled some information that can save time and money in selecting snowshoes that will ensure you have fun while you enjoy the snow.

The three big considerations when renting or buying snowshoes is gender, weight and the typical terrain you will snowshoe.  All snowshoes have weight restrictions based on the size of the frame. If you weigh over 180 lbs., you will need a snowshoe that is at least 33-36 inches long. Generally, the greater the weight, the longer the snowshoe for what is called in the industry 'float,' or walking on top of the snow (yes, all snowshoes will sink in fluffy powder but less so with a larger surface area). Also if you are concerned with stability, select a men’s snowshoe because they are a bit wider than woman’s and they keep you on top of the snow a bit better, especially in fluffy, light snow.  

If you only go on groomed trails, you can use smaller shoes with aggressive teeth (crampons) that bite into the ice and densely packed snow. These small sporty snowshoes (around 18-30 inches) will not work as well on powder or fresh snowfall and you may sink down and discover the hardest workout you will ever hope to survive. (I’ve done this, so I know.)

Be sure to check out the binding mechanism, too.  Some snowshoes pivot, causing the snow to flip up off the back when walking. I prefer the type that drags along the snow and doesn't flip up when you bring your leg forward (similar to a flip flop).  This flipping whips snow up the back of your pants and eventually often makes it to the back of your jacket. The non-flipping kind, called floaters, also make it easier to climb over objects because you can move your foot through its full range of motion and engage the teeth better going over logs or up a steep grade.

As far as price, get last year’s model. You can find huge savings on the internet for discontinued models, and all descriptions usually include enough information to ensure you're getting the correct one for you. Don’t spend extra on upgraded bindings. I found them all to be a pain to use, and one was not better than another in the eight pairs of snowshoes that I went through. Columbia makes snow boots that already have the groove for the bindings, but any boot with a firm rubber sole will work well. A nice wide snow boot also improves your ability to float on the snow and keeps your feet from getting cold. Ski poles improve your balance and help you keep a rhythm.  They also provide a means to get some upper body resistance training. Plus, they're invaluable when you fall down and are trying to get up. Get them, they are worth the additional money. Most have interchangeable tips so they can be used for hiking in the summer as well.

Tubbs SnowshoeOne final word of advice. When snowshoeing, try to mimic your natural stride. Keeping your knees stiff and swinging your legs from the hip will cause extreme discomfort when you try to get out of bed the next morning. Practice on a level surface for a bit first till you get comfortable and then hit the great white expanse.

Oh, yeah.  Don't forget to have fun!  Getting out in the woods on snowshoes in the middle of winter, amid nature and its quiet beauty, is awe-inspiring and rejuvenating!

Check out the Tubbs snowshoe site for info on how to dress for snowshoeing as well as basic how-to tips and health benefits.

Posted by Marsha on January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 21, 2009

Tomorrow is Women's Healthy Weight Day!

470286_behind_the_shutter Each year, the Thursday of Healthy Weight Week (third week in January) is devoted to women, to honor size diversity and "confirm that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes, and that talent, love and compassion cannot be weighed." Awards this year go to two winners.

Developed at Trinity University in San Antonio, this research-based program combats media images of female beauty.  As part of its national launch, Fat Talk Free Week was created, featuring a viral video email to raise consciousness about Fat Talk and body dissatisfaction among women.  Research shows it's seeing success: 48% of women at one college who said they "felt fat almost every day" reported eight months later they felt that way never or less than half the time).

Best website: Love Your Body
Sponsored by the National Organization for Women Foundation, this website provides encouragement, and perhaps more importantly, tools to help girls and women "just say no" to destructive media images. It also raises awareness about women's health.  Its message: "...be healthy and love yourself regardless of what the scale says."  In 2009, it will collaborate with the Reflections program to sponsor Fat Talk Free Week in October, the month that NOW promotes its own Love Your Body Day.

Check out both these websites for great information on what you can do to promote size acceptance and good health among women tomorrow and every day.  While you're at it, also consider signing the HAES (Health at Every Size) pledge on Linda Bacon's website Health at Every Size. She's also developing a registry to help folks find HAES resources throughout the country.

Another subject entirely:  For a good laugh, check out The FitBottomed Girls blog post on the Celine Dion Workout!

Posted by Marsha on January 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2009

For Healthy Lifestyles: New Year's Resolutions We Can Live With

957450_bulls-eye I can now confess I have recently developed a new addiction, although it's one I think I am coming to terms with.  It's called Twitter, a social networking site that has been a lot of fun over the holidays.  If you're on Twitter, follow me at http://twitter.com/MarshaHudnall.

How does this relate to the title of this post?  I found through Twitter an interesting blog Healthbuzz by Jim, MD, which is composed of podcasts on a variety of health subjects.  The post that grabbed my attention was on New Year's Resolutions.  Dr. Jim acknowledged that while a focus on healthy eating and staying active would have the most impact on our health in the new year, it's a hard task for many of us.  So he came up with seven healthy lifestyle resolutions that are easier to follow and still offer a lot for our well-being.

  • Have fun & de-stress.  It's obvious why this helps our health.
  • Take care of oral hygiene.  Seems poor oral hygiene can raise risk for heart attack.
  • Start working crossword puzzles.  Keeps the mind nimble. 
  • Indulge in a little red wine daily.   The antioxidants therein provide some important health benefits. (Dr. Jim emphasizes 'a little.') 
  • Stop the cycle of snoring.  Affects both your and your sleeping partner's sleep.
  • Don't skip the seatbelt -- ever.  Ditto my comment on the first bullet.
  • Check your ergonomics. Especially for those of us almost permanently attached to the computer. 

So keep up those fitness and diet (healthy eating, that is, not weight loss diet) efforts, but when you feel like you're going around in circles with that, focus on the above for a little positive feedback in the form of success at these sometimes easier efforts.  And listen to Dr. Jim's whole spiel about them for his complete take on the subject. 
Happy New Year!

Posted by Marsha on January 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 31, 2008

If It Looks Like a Duck: Worst Weight Loss Promises of 2008

Duck The Healthy Weight Network recently released its 20th annual Slim Chance Awards, highlighting both the hidden dangers of diets and supplements that often contain unknown ingredients and sometimes potent drugs, and the merely ridiculous. 

"To call 2008 a typical year in the weight loss field would be too easy," cites their press release. "This year’s awards go to an infamous huckster of diet infomercials, known for his outrageous disregard of injunctions against him; $139 body-shaping jeans impregnated with substances that supposedly reduce cellulite; a pill that’s “proven” to make your belly fat vanish; and a dangerous starvation diet launched recklessly on the Internet with false promises of safe, fast and permanent weight loss."

MOST OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM: Kevin Trudeau infomercials. It’s rare that regulatoryagencies look at books, given our free speech laws, but the infomercials for Kevin Trudeau’s weight loss book and his repeated violations were just too much for the Federal Trade Commission, and this past August he was fined over $5 million and banned from infomercials for three years. 

WORST GIMMICK: Skineez jeans ($139). A new item in the fight against cellulite, Skineez jeans are impregnated with a so-called “medication” of retinol and chitosan, a shellfish product once claimed to cut fat absorption in the stomach (see 1999 Slim Chance Awards). Friction between the jeans and skin supposedly triggers release of the substance, which goes to work on fat when absorbed through the skin. Reportedly a big hit in Europe, the “smart fabric” is also used in lingerie. Ironically, the creators of Skineez, Clothes for a Cause, profess to raise funds for breast cancer and “a wide range of other socially conscious charities.” So while the company exploits and deceives women with an expensive pair of jeans, it assures them they can “do good with every purchase … As our sales grow, so will our ability to help others.” FTC, however, is clear about such gimmicks, emphasizing that products worn or rubbed on the skin do not cause weight loss or fat loss.

WORST CLAIM: AbGONE. Throughout 2008 full page ads assaulted the eye in daily newspapers across the country touting AbGONE as “proven to promote pot belly loss.” Claims are that AbGONE increases “fat metabolism” and calorie burn, promotes appetite suppression and inhibits future abdominal fat deposits. These are drug claims that, if true, would alter the body’s regulation, but unlike drugs, the pills are sold as food supplements not requiring FDA approval. The bold ads feature the obligatory before and after shots of models, cut-away sketches of the abdomen with and without belly fat, and a white-coated researcher with chart purportedly confirming success of 5 times reduction in fat mass, 4 times lower BMI, 4 times greater weight loss than placebo. No added diet and exercise needed – well, except, you may want to heed the fine print disclaimer at the bottom that reminds us “diet and exercise are essential.”

WORST PRODUCT: Kimkins diet. It must have seemed an easy way to get rich quick. Founder Heidi “Kimmer” Diaz set up a website and charged members a fee to access the Kimkins diet, boasting they could lose up to 5 percent of their body weight in 10 days. “Better than gastric bypass,” there was “no faster diet,” and in fact she herself had lost 198# in 11 months. Stunning “after” photos were displayed. In June 2007 Women’s World ran it as a cover story, and that month alone PayPal records show the Kimkins site took in over $1.2 million. Then users began complaining of chest pains, hair loss, heart palpitations, irritability and menstrual irregularities. This was not surprising since Kimkins is essentially a starvation diet, down to 500 calories per day and deficient in many nutrients (shockingly, laxatives are advised to replace the missing fiber). In a lawsuit, 11 former members are uncovering a vast record of Diez’s alleged fraud. They found that the stunning “after” photos, including one of Kimmer herself, had been lifted from a Russian mail order bride site. According to a deposition reported by Los Angeles TV station KTLA, Diaz admitted using fake pictures, fake stories and fake IDs, and a judge has allowed the litigants to freeze some of her assets. 

“Today’s economic downturn can remind us how foolish it is to waste money on unsafe, ineffective and energy-draining weight loss efforts,” said Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, whose organization Healthy Weight Network started the Slim Chance Awards 20 years ago.

With the New Year upon us, resolutions freshly on our minds, Berg is advising people to skip dieting and move ahead with healthy habits that last a lifetime.  She recommends:

  • Record your dieting history (weight lost, weight regained, favorable and ill effects,time frame of each). Reflect on what you have written.

  • Resolve to follow a diet-free healthy lifestyle through 2009, adapting guidelines that work for you. (Handouts available at www.healthyweight.net/handouts.htm).

It’s a way to get your life on track, improve your health and move on with what’s really importantin your life, Berg explained.  

Here's to a diet-free 2009.  Happy New Year from all of us at Green Mountain at Fox Run, going on our 38th year promoting non-diet healthy lifestyles to help women achieve healthy weights!

Posted by Marsha on December 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 17, 2008

Women's Weight Loss: 'Tis the Season to Be Kind

I had a wonderful interaction with a family member this morning.  Amazingly, it was echoed in my horoscope today on DailyOM, the site I've mentioned before that is often uncannily relevant to what's going on in my life.  Won't get into the generality of horoscopes -- I know they often can apply to anyone. But the words I get in a daily e-letter from DailyOM seem to go beyond that.

But to my real reason for even mentioning this. The horoscope talks about doing something for others with a 'kind and open heart.'  It brought to mind for me the need for women struggling with body image and healthy weight loss and maintenance to be kind to themselves.  Because once we begin to treat ourselves gently, we find we can treat others much more gently -- especially those with similar struggles. And when it comes to healthy lifestyle management, fitness and diet, there's a real need for gentle treatment.  

Of course, one of the things we're most tough on ourselves about during the holiday season is our desire to eat all the great treats of the season -- and our indulgence in doing it. So it bears repeating on this blog that is all about learning to take care of ourselves well, that indulgence is good for us in moderation.  So go ahead, indulge!  Here are a few tips from our article "Go Ahead, Indulge!" that talks about holiday overeating.

  • Feed yourself.
  • Be choosy.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Cultivate a discriminating palate. 
  • Keep moving. 
  • Enjoy the season!  
For details on doing all that, read our Fitbriefing that defines healthy weight loss foods a bit differently.

Posted by Marsha on December 17, 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 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 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

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