Friday, August 18, 2017

Snack Swaps

Snacking can be an important part of your daily meal choices. Try these simple food swaps to save calories, cut sugar and sodium and shift your focus to whole foods.

Instead of guacamole dip & chips try:
Avocado Toast - Whole grain toast with avocado slices and cracked pepper satisfies the crunchy/creamy cravings.

Instead of dried fruit try:
Fresh Fruit - Dried fruits are healthy snacks but they're calorie dense. Fresh fruit weighs in with less calories and sugar because of it's high water content. 

Instead of dry-roasted peanuts try:
Steamed Edamame - Peanuts are heart-healthy but contain 200 calories per 1/4 cup. Trade for 1/2 cup shelled edamame sprinkled with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds.

Instead of a bake-shop brownie try:
Cookies and Milk - Big bakery brownies can easily top 300 calories. Two chocolate cream-filled cookies have just 106 calories, leaving room to dunk them in 8 oz. of low-fat milk. The cookies might not pass the "whole foods" test but they can head off cravings in a pinch.

Make wise food choices throughout the day. When you do decide to indulge in a treat, make sure you enjoy it. Healthy body and Healthy mind.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ways to Make Exercise Fun #2

Are you intimidated by exercise? You know it's good for you but you can't seem to find time for exercise? Like most activities, exercise gets easier with practice. And you are more likely to stick with something that you enjoy. Make it fun! Today I share five more ways to have fun while working out.


Take classes
Exercising with others is motivating. A new study suggests that any activity which involves moving and socializing helps maintain brain health, too. Check on my blog post from June 10, 2016 for more on how exercising with a group can motivate you.

Buddy Up
No classes near you? Find a workout partner. You'll encourage each other and keep each other accountable. You won't skip a workout if it means letting your buddy down.

Switch Things Up
Do different types of exercise - cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and balance - not only to avoid boredom but to improve overall fitness. Balance training helps prevent falls as you get older. Flexibility helps you nail tougher strength exercises. Strength makes fitness functional.


Switch Up the Format
In addition to the types of exercise, I also like to switch up group classes, buddy workouts and solo exercise. The variety keeps me engaged and motivated as well as giving me time for quiet & reflection.



Set a Goal
Register to run a 5K. Promise to dance at a friend's wedding. Schedule a cycling vacation. Once you have a goal in mind, design a fitness program to help you reach your goal. If you're not sure of which steps to take, ask your trainer for a plan.


Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ways to Make Exercise Fun #1

Are you intimidated by exercise? You know it's good for you but you can't seem to find time for it? Like most activities, exercise gets easier with practice. And you are more likely to stick with something that you enjoy. Make it fun!

Start slowly
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate cardio, such as brisk walking, and build from there. If you have an injury or medical condition, check with your doctor first.


Work with a trainer
It's good to understand proper form before jumping into an exercise program. The trainer can demonstrate correct alignment and suggest appropriate exercises for your current level and progressive exercises as you get stronger.


Make it part of your daily routine
Put exercise on your calendar just like you would for any other appointment. Working out at the same time each day means you'll be less likely to miss a session.


Move to music
Music adds to your workout by setting the pace and elevating your mood. Studies have shown that listening to music makes exercise, even high-intensity interval training, seem easier. Check out my blog post from April 15, 2016 for more on how music motivates.

Think positive
Don't let defeatist thoughts deter you. For example, instead of "I'm too old (too fat, too tired) to get in shape." remind yourself "Day by day, step by step, I'm getting stronger."



Check back next week for five more ways to make exercise fun. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sugar is the Secret Part 4

Today I will finish my series on stabilizing blood sugar. The latest research shows that blood sugar is a primary determinate of your health and can be the key to staying healthy, energized and slim. Look back at previous posts for the biological explanation of how it all works. Today I share more tips on how to keep your blood sugar stable.

#9 Have a cocktail with dinner
Sipping a drink with your evening meal reduces blood sugar spikes by up to 37%. A moderate amount of alcohol improves your body's ability to utilize glucose. Unfortunately, the benefit disappears with a second drink. 

#10 Save bread for last
Your blood sugar will be more stable if you eat vegetables and protein-rich foods first and carbohydrates last. Researcher Dr. Aronne at Weill Cornell Medicine says, "The difference is tremendous." Vegetables and protein slow the release of carbohydrates from the stomach, which keeps glucose from spiking.  Eating chicken and broccoli first may also trigger the release of a blood sugar-controlling hormone in the gut.

#11 Dip that bread in olive oil and vinegar
Adding one or two tablespoons of vinegar to a meal containing white bread or rice lowers blood sugar by 25 - 35%. Experts believe that the acidity of vinegar slows digestion, preventing glucose from surging. The mono-saturated fats in olive oil help regulate the body's insulin response and blood sugar control.

This sounds like a delicious meal! Considering last week's post and the 50-36-14 plan, start your evening meal with a couple of slices of chicken breast or a small fish fillet, add some zucchini & carrots, sip one glass of wine and finish with some crusty bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Afterwards, using the Get Moving tip from Part 2, take a relaxing stroll around the block. What a fabulous way to stabilize blood sugar.



Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Enjoy Your Food

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sugar is the Secret! Part 3

A couple of weeks ago, I began a series on stabilizing blood sugar. The latest research shows that blood sugar is a primary determinate of your health and can be the key to staying healthy, energized and slim. Look back at the July 7th post for the biological explanation of how it all works. Today I share more tips on how to keep your blood sugar stable.

#6 Feed your gut bugs
Some of the good microbes that live in your gut may help stabilize blood sugar. To keep your intestinal flora healthy, eat fermented foods like Greek yogurt, kimchi, refrigerated sauerkraut and dill pickles. Note that the shelf-stable sauerkraut & pickles do not have active pro-biotics in them. 

#7 Skip artificial sweeteners
Fake sugars cause your blood sugar to rise just like regular sugar. Researchers conclude that artificial sweeteners affect the gut bacteria in a way that makes the body more intolerant to glucose, resulting in higher blood sugar levels.

#8 Follow the 50-36-14 plan
Blood sugar is markedly worse at 7:00pm and 7:00am according to a study from Pennington Biomedical Research. Scientists have found that different parts of our bodies peak at different times. The pancreas produces insulin faster first thing in the morning to help lower blood sugar, and it slows down as early as 3:00pm. That's a problem because most people eat 40% of their calories at night, when their bodies can't keep their blood sugar as stable.

To prevent this effect, eat a big breakfast that's about 50% of your daily calories, a lunch that's about 36% of your calories and a small dinner that's just 14% of your calories. Study participants who did this saw reductions in their levels of glucose, insulin, and appetite-triggering hormones which caused them to lose weight. Try to eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime to give yourself time to digest your meal.

Check in next week for more tips to keep blood sugar steady and healthy.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sugar is the Secret! Part 2

Last week, I began a series on stabilizing blood sugar. The latest research shows that blood sugar is a primary determinate of your health and can be the key to staying healthy, energized and slim. Look back at last week's post for the biological explanation of how it all works. Today I share more tips on how to keep your blood sugar stable.

#3 Don't snack before your workout
When you exercise, your muscles take glucose out of your bloodstream for fuel. When you've used up available blood sugar, your body burns belly fat for fuel. But if you eat too much before your workout, your body never needs to burn that fat.

If it's been more than four hours since your last meal and you plan to exercise for more than 50 minutes, have a 200-calorie snack 30 - 60 minutes beforehand. Otherwise, skip the snack and your body will use fat for fuel instead of glucose.

#4 Combine cardio and strength
Instead of focusing on weights one day and cardio the next, do a half hour of each at every gym session. Aerobic exercise boosts your cells' energy-burning ability and torches fat. Strength training builds glucose-utilizing muscle. Combining both cardio and strength can lower your odds of developing diabetes by almost 60%.

#5 Get moving after lunch
If you eat and then sit, which basically describes our modern lifestyle, the sugar from your meal builds up. If you do something active, your cells will use that glucose for fuel, so your blood sugar level stays steadier. Wait 30 minutes after finishing your meal to give the food enough time to break down into sugar, then take a walk or do some lunges and squats. Spending 15 active minutes can reduce blood sugar spikes and keep levels lower for 24 hours.

Check in next week for more tips to keep blood sugar steady and healthy.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food




Friday, July 7, 2017

Sugar is the Secret!

Most of us have heard in popular news that sugar is the new diet villain. During the 90s, we all strove to eliminate fat from our diet. New research has shown that sugar can wreak more havoc than fat in our modern American diet.

How It Works
Blood sugar, or glucose, is your body's main source of energy. After you eat, glucose enters your bloodstream quickly, which causes a bump in your blood sugar level. Your pancreas then revs its production of insulin, helping your body absorb glucose and use it to function.

When you consume meals of healthy whole foods, the rise in your blood sugar and insulin levels is small, steady and long lasting. But highly processed foods cause a huge spike. When that happens, the amount of glucose in your system exceeds your body's capacity to deal with it. 

Dangers of High Blood Sugar
An elevated blood sugar level triggers a surge in free radicals, which cause systemic inflammation. The spike can damage the lining of blood vessels and it can cause blood clots. A steep rise in blood sugar prompts your pancreas to release large amounts of insulin, which sends your blood sugar and energy levels crashing causing your body to store fat.

High blood sugar can age you. Glucose causes collagen to cross-link, making skin stiffer and more leathery. Blood sugar spikes lead to lows that limit the amount of glucose your brain receives, resulting in brain fog and fatigue. A sugar high may cause your body to produce higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline, making it harder to sleep.

Elevated blood sugar levels can pre-dispose you to diabetes, a chronic disease that can lead to neuropathy, loss of sight, heart damage and other serious consequences.

What You Can Do
The good news is, it doesn't take a lot of work to stabilize your blood sugar and improve your well-being. The next few weeks I will share some easy strategies that make a big impact for better health.

#1 Sprinkle cinnamon on your breakfast
People who added a teaspoon of cinnamon to cereal had significantly lower blood sugar two hours after eating than those who did not. Evidence suggests that cinnamon prompts cells to absorb more glucose from blood and use it for energy. Add one or two teaspoons to your smoothie, protein shake, oatmeal or a half teaspoon to yogurt or coffee.

#2 Drink at least 34 ounces of water a day
Dehydration can drive up blood sugar by increasing vasopressin, a hormone that boosts glucose levels. Four and 1/4 cups of water is all it takes to keep your levels steady.

Check in next week for more tips to keep blood sugar steady and healthy.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food