Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

Weight loss and good health made simple

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fitness Myths De-bunked!

What's best for weight loss?
There's much fitness information and misinformation floating around that you may be left feeling baffled. Should I run or not run? If I do run, do I have to run barefoot? Then, to crunch or not to crunch? Let’s take a look at some common fitness issues.

  • The crunch controversy
When you want to tighten your tummy, you might be tempted to drop and do a whole bunch of crunches. But, research indicates traditional crunches may not be the best way to train your core. One classic study found that Pilates exercises were more effective than traditional crunches for working the major muscles of your core (rectus abdominis and obliques). So, there may be better ways to train your tummy, but are crunches dangerous? Probably not if you’re careful about the way you perform them! Some experts suggest maintaining neutral position of your back is the key to performing a safe and effective crunch.
  • Running realities
Contrary to popular belief, running isn’t just something for twenty-somethings! Several studies indicate running is not linked to a higher incidence of knee problems and may even be beneficial. If you’re ready to lace up your running shoes, you might be surprised to hear about a growing number of people who are running sans shoes. Is it safe and will barefoot running prevent injury? In one recent study, researchers found there is no difference between running barefoot or running in well-cushioned shoes with regards to injury. Quick Tip: start slow, build a good base of endurance by walking before you start jogging, listen to your body, and talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
HIT it hard.
  • Think you have to spend hours in the gym to be fit? One study demonstrates that less truly is more when it comes to getting your “fit” on! High intensity interval training (HIT), which involves short bursts of exercise followed by a brief period of rest, may provide the same muscle building benefits as longer, more traditional exercise sessions. Researchers in the study found that doing 10 one-minute bursts of exercise followed by one minute of rest 3 times per week elicited the same muscle-building effect as longer, more continuous exercise. Another, more recent study found high intensity interval training to be as effective as traditional training to reduce the risk of heart disease in children. However, this benefit was achieved with 85% less time! To be successful with this type of training, the intervals have to be high intensity; but that’s pretty do-able for most people because they know a break is coming.  A word of caution: make sure you have a base of endurance from some regular cardiovascular exercise before taking on high intensity interval training.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stretching for weight loss

Stretching and weight loss.

From reducing blood pressure to helping you manage stress, there are many benefits associated with an exercise program. But, one of the most important aspects of your workout takes place after you finish: it’s your post-stretch.

Some of the benefits associated with stretching include decreased muscle tension and soreness, improved posture, and decreased risk of injury. Reducing the risk of injury is especially important for people just beginning an exercise or weight loss program. There is nothing more frustrating than committing to change and then being unable to stick with it because you are side-lined by pain or injury.  

Make the most out of stretching: 
  • Stretch muscles only after they are warm! “Cold” muscles that haven’t been warmed up properly should not be stretched because this can increase the risk of injury. Warm up for a few minutes or wait until after your walk before stretching.
  • No pain, lots of gain! If you stretch to the point of pain, muscles will contract to protect your joints from injury; this is exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve! So, go slow, and stretch to the point of tension – not pain!
  • Take a deep breath! Breathing helps the muscles (and you) relax so continue to take full, deep breaths while stretching. You can even use your breath to time your stretch by holding each stretch for 3-4 deep breaths (about 15-30 seconds).
  • Don’t bounce! When you stretch a muscle, take your time getting into the stretch and then hold it. Holding your stretch gives the muscle time to relax and is more effective.
Here are some stretches to include in your post-walk routine:
  1. Calf Stretch: step forward with your left leg and keep your right foot on the floor (toe pointing forward, heel down on the ground). Lunge forward by bending the left knee (it should line up directly over the ankle, not over your toe). Continue to press the right heel into the ground and don’t let it come up. You should feel this in the lower part of your right leg (calf and ankle). Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on the other side.
  2. Hip Flexor Stretch: keep your left leg back in the lunge position. Come up on your left toe and tuck your hips under your body (think of a puppy dog tucking his tail between his legs). You’ll probably feel that stretch right away in your hip flexors, at the top & front of your hip. If you need a deeper stretch, you can bend the right knee a little bit. Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on the other side.
  3. Hamstring Stretch: step one foot forward with your heel on the ground, toe up. Keep your toe up and bend at the hips with a flat back until you feel the stretch on the back of your thigh. Think about bringing your heart towards your knee; don’t let your forehead lead towards your foot – this will cause your back to round. Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on other side.
  4. Outer Thigh Stretch: sit down and pick up your right leg; leave your left foot on the ground. Cross your right ankle just above your left knee; your right knee should fall out to the side. When you look down, it should look like the number 4 or a triangle. Flex your right foot. If you don’t feel the stretch on the outside of your leg, lean forward just a little bit. If you feel too much, straighten out the left leg.

Friday, September 16, 2011

HEALTHeME Part of a Panel with State Treasurer Cowell

HEALTHeME is excited to be considered one of North Carolina’s most promising companies. On Wednesday, September 14th, HEALTHeME CVO Sloan Rachmuth was invited to sit on a panel with State Treasurer Janet Cowell to discuss North Carolina’s Innovation Fund and other strategies for growing companies to secure funding.

The North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), whose mission is to attract entrepreneurs and growing companies to North Carolina, arranged the panel. Growing companies, like HEALTHeME, help accelerate entrepreneurship by attracting attention to growth-phase companies and providing mentorship to others within the community.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Can you control your health destiny?

Exercising 10 minutes a day boosts health.
Good news: new research says you are in control of your own disease destiny.   Your DNA determines what color eyes you have and how tall you are, but your family history doesn’t have to dictate whether or not you develop chronic conditions.  Even making small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your health.  

A new study analzyed the health habits of more than 200,000 Americans over 10 years. Researchers found that walking and eating more veggies can decrease a person’s risk for developing type II diabetes, even if the individual was overweight! 

Based on study findings, a woman with a healthy BMI who exercises regularly, eats a healthy diet, doesn’t smoke, and drinks moderately is 84% less likely to develop diabetes than her less-than-healthy counterpart; a man following a similar healthy lifestyle is 72% less likely to develop diabetes than his unhealthy counterpart. Although following a healthy lifestyle helps decrease a person’s risk for developing diabetes, researchers point out the most important predictor for developing diabetes was weight.

Diabetes isn’t the only disease healthy living can protect against. A recent report issued by the World Cancer Research Fund stated that 2.8 million cases of cancer could be prevented each year if people followed a healthier lifestyle. Surprise, surprise: according to this report, increasing healthy behaviors (physical activity and diet) and decreasing unhealthy behaviors (smoking and alcohol consumption) could dramatically reduce cancer and death rates.

Many people focus on what the scale says as an indicator of health but it’s important to recognize your weight is just one piece of the puzzle. Behaviors you can control, such as exercising ten minutes every day and eating 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, can improve your health and prevent disease.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Help Your Heart by Going Meat-Free.

We care about your heart!

Heart disease is the number one killer in America. What makes this statistic even more staggering is the fact that heart disease is virtually unheard of in many cultures around the world. Several doctors leading the fight against heart disease claim the American diet is to blame!

In one article, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., a Cleveland Clinic physician, discusses the benefits of a vegan diet and its ability to prevent or reverse heart disease. A vegan diet means no animal-based products: no meat, no dairy, and no eggs. According to this article, a heart-protective diet also includes no added oils. But the list of “no-no’s” on this plan may be worth the sacrifice! Dr. Esselstyn has been working with patients since 1985 and has seen reduction of the blockages in the blood vessels of his patients’ hearts when patients follow this diet.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a well-known physician, also promotes a plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, and beans to prevent or reverse heart disease. One of Dr. Ornish’s heart-smart diet converts is former President Bill Clinton. In a recent interview, former President Clinton discusses his “past-life” as a burgers-and-fries kind of guy. However, he also suffered from heart disease, landing him in the hospital multiple times. He claims overhauling his diet has improved his heart health and helped him lose more than 20 pounds.

These reports come on the tails of a recent study that found eating red meat raises your risk of type II diabetes. According to this study, replacing one serving of meat with one serving of low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains each day could cut your risk of type II diabetes by 16-35%!
If you can’t eat meat or other animal by-products, then what can you eat on this heart-healthy diet? Your shopping list might include some of the following:
  • Tofu
  • Beans/legumes
  • Vegetables, especially green, leafy veggies like kale and Swiss chard
  • Fruits
  • Nuts & nut butters
  • Whole grains, especially protein rich quinoa
  • Soy/Almond Milk
So, even if you aren’t ready to “veganize” your diet, you might want to consider taking a little meat out of your diet and trying one or two of these heart-smart options.