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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 29, 2008

Weighing In: Gossip Website Only Dishes About Celebrity Weight

When I recently came across a website solely devoted to rumors of celebrity weight gain, celebrity diets and celebrity weight loss (mostly women's weight loss, of course), I was struck by the seemingly innocuous disclaimer of the website (which I will not promote by naming). It reads "All content on this website should be considered harmless speculation and gossip."

Harmless?

That's certainly debatable.  Study after study shows the detrimental effects of celebrity weight obsession in the media to young women's self-esteem and body image.

Body hatred is a learned phenomenon (read Body Hated is Learned), and celebrity gossip websites such as these, which ridicule famous, beautiful and accomplished women for a slight bulge here and there is a insidious self-hate training ground.

While readers may 'entertain' themselves by reading such drivel in the short-term, over time the criticism turns inward as women tend to start judging themselves by the same impossible beauty standards they witness in the media.

Three Resolutions for Positive Body Image in the New Year

  1. Don't contribute to the problem. Reduce or eliminate visits/purchases of websites and magazines that treat women's weight loss as a spectator sport.

  2. Be a force for change.  You can take action by obtaining a Turn Beauty Inside Out (TBIO) kit, which helps teens, parents and educators build awareness and promote positive body images in young women.

  3. Be a postivie example.  Learn techniques to help build a better body image for yourself and to set a positive example for other loved ones in your life. A great book to consider is The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learing to Like Your Looks by, Thomas F. Cash, Ph.D.

  4. Best wishes for a Bright, Healthy, and Happy New Year!

Posted by Laura on December 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | 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 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


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 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