Friday, May 30, 2014

Restaurant Menu Strategies

We all enjoy eating out and usually peruse the menu looking for healthy choices. Now and then we can get confused about what the best choice might be. Here are a few tips on restaurant fat traps.

Olive oil for dipping
While EVOO is heart healthy, most people go overboard, soaking up as much as a tablespoon - or 119 calorie's worth - with each chunk of bread. Next time, drizzle a little olive oil onto a small plate and add balsamic vinegar to dilute the fat and pump up the flavor.

Chopped Salad
The word "salad" makes it seems light. But because everything is so finely diced, way more fits in the bowl. Chopped salads can contain upwards of 700 calories. Next time, order a regular tossed salad instead. Avoid toppings like crispy Chinese noodles, dried fruit and other high-calorie options. Get dressing on the side along with a few lemon wedges. The lemon can make a little vinaigrette go a long way.

Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes are a superfood. But when cut into strips and deep-fried, their redeeming qualities are diminished. Plus, many restaurants overdo it on the salt to balance out the vegetable's sweetness, bringing the sodium up to 800 milligrams compared to 40 milligrams for regular fries. Next time, be aware that gram for gram both types of fries contain the same number of calories. Sweet potatoes do have more fiber, calcium, and vitamin A so they are your better bet. Keep portions in control. Have a handful and share with a friend.

Grain Mains
Farro, barley and bulgur are good sources of protein and fiber. But the ratio of grains to veggies is often way out of whack. These dishes are listed as salads but they are more on par with a plate of pasta. Next time, Grain salads tend to keep well for a couple of days. Eat half and save the rest for later. Or ask the waiter to bring out half your order on a bed of mixed greens and have the remainder boxed up.

Share relaxing restaurant meals with family and friends. You can make informed choices and enjoy your food!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Is This Chair Deadly?

The latest science on sitting comes as a shock to most people. A stream of research suggests that the other 23 hours when you're not exercising are crucial in dictating how healthy you are.

A 2010 study of 123,216 people found that the more leisure time spent sitting, the higher the risk of premature death: Women who sat for more than six hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who sat for less than three hours, no matter how much other physical activity they got.

A survey of almost 3,500 people indicated that sitting can effect your happiness. Non-occupational sitting time - watching TV, using the computer at home, or driving - was negatively associated with mental well-being.

Those who sit more than four hours a day were found to be significantly more likely to have a chronic disease such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

LifeTime Fitness program manager Jennifer Keskey concludes that "Movement during the day is almost more important than the time people spend working out with us."

You work out every day and you eat healthy but you work at a desk all day. In the evenings, you drive kids to activities and then collapse on the couch for TV time. How can you fit more movement in your day?

First of all, don't ditch the workout. The high intensity cardio and strength training are beneficial in multiple ways. I've enumerated those in previous posts.

The key is being aware of how much you move and working to sneak in small amounts of movement throughout the day.

* Get up from your desk and walk to the farthest restroom in your building.

* Walk to lunch. Or walk around the block or in the air-conditioned mall during your lunch hour.

* Drop your kids at practice and then walk around the field. No, you don't have to get sweaty again. A stroll is fine.

* Park in the spot farthest from the entrance at Costco and Target.

* Walk around the block after dinner. Take the dog, he'll love it.

* Adopt a hobby that requires movement. Knitting and script-writing are great but they are sedentary. What about darts, archery or lawn bowling?

* Technology can help. Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band will alert you if you have been sitting for 45 minutes.

Do you have other ideas for sneaking in bits of movement during the day? We'd love it if you would share them with us!

Be aware of your activity level, keep moving and be healthy.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Power of Exercise to Protect Against Stress

Stress is associated with just about every chronic disease we know. In addition, it may be responsible for encouraging addictive behaviors, sleep disruptions and unhealthy eating habits. Not only that, stress can add to your waistline. Stress elevates cortisol levels which, in turn, appear to cause the body to store additional abdominal fat.

The latest research reveals that exercise may be the most effective antidote to stress. Scientists found that "brains on exercise" morphed over time into a biochemically calm state that remained steady even when the subjects were put under stress. This discovery may indicate that cardio workouts actually remodel the brain to make it more resistant to stress hormones. As the brain changes, it seems to take more and more stress to trigger the fight-or-flight syndrome.

How does a cardio workout cause the brain to change? Exercise helps the heart pump more blood to the brain. More blood & oxygen leads to better-nourished brain cells overall. In addition, a vigorous workout causes brain cells to become more active and boosts the production of a protein (BDNF). This protein's role is to fortify the brain cells to prevent them from breaking down when exposed to stress. Exercise has been shown to lead to an increase in BDNF production.

We know your morning boot camp or evening jog produces stronger muscles and a more efficient cardiovascular system. Now we know that it also protects your brain from actual physical damage and infuses your brain with the protein it needs, resulting in that biochemically calm state and a more relaxed attitude toward life's many stressors.

Make exercise a priority this week!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Priority Fitness Burbank is now on Facebook

Priority Fitness Burbank is on Facebook! This business page will make it easier for you to refer friends to a specific post, to find information on rates, and to keep updated on upcoming special events and package deals.

Check it out at

Be sure to "Like" the page and share with friends.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Your Body's Reaction to Soda

Minutes after you take your first sip, your body goes into a sugar-induced upward - and the downward - spiral. Here's what happens:
10 minutes
A 12 - ounce can of soda delivers about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Normally you'd gag on such intense sweetness, but phosphoric acid mellows the sugary flavor.

20 minutes
Your blood sugar spikes. The liver reacts to the glucose in your bloodstream, storing as much as it can, but it's soon at capacity and most of the sugar is converted into fat.

30 minutes
Caffeine begins to effect you. Your pupils dilate. Your heart and respiratory rates increase. Your blood pressure rises, causing your liver to release even more sugar into the bloodstream. If your tired, you won't feel it. Caffeine blocks the brain's enosine receptors.

40 minutes
Dopamine levels rise abnormally, turning on the pleasure centers in your brain and creating a revved-up "high" similar to the one produced by amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin.

50 minutes
The diuretic properties of caffeine make you visit the restroom. The phosphoric acid in the soda binds to calcium, magnesium, and zinc in your body. These nutrients are flushed away, too.

60 minutes
A sugar crash hits you - hard. You're left feeling cranky, sluggish, thirsty and ready for another soda, especially if it's diet. The artificial sweeteners used in diet soda affect the addiction centers in the brain.

As the weather heats up this summer, make an educated choice about what you drink. Water is a great choice. Try flavoring it with sliced cucumber, mint, lemon or lime. Iced tea can be healthy if you don't add sugar. Green tea has been linked to protection against diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It might slow the growth of cancer. I brew a gallon of green tea at a time and enjoy it all day long. I have developed such a taste for it that I crave it over most other beverages.

As always, Enjoy Your Food!