Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

Weight loss and good health made simple

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's February. Are You Keeping Your Resolutions?

Here are HEALTHeME's top ways to keep you on the fitness wagon and find success that lasts all year long (and then some).

We are on the brink of a new year and you know what that means: resolutions. Surely resolutions made for 2012 will involve starting a regular exercise program. But, come March, so many who started off with good intentions will let their busy schedules get the best of them, leading to a sad break-up: bye-bye cycling and yoga classes. Sound familiar? This year can be different.  Here's how:

#1 Plan your work & work your plan.
Research says thinking about behaviors you will perform in the future may increase the chances you will actually do these things. Researchers asked study participants to answer questions about how much they planned to exercise the following week. Thanks to planning ahead, study participants increased the amount of time they exercised by 94 minutes. Here's one more important finding: the behavior must be one of your goals or you’re more likely NOT to do it at all.

#2 You know why…but how?
Is there any doubt that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle? Still, fewer than 20% of Americans meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physical activity recommendations. It’s unlikely that the reason is because we don’t know exercise is good for us! According to a recent study, focusing on how to fit exercise into your busy life is the key! Researchers found that participants who were given behavioral strategies were more successful at increasing their physical activity than those who were just given more information about exercise. Behavioral strategies like setting goals, scheduling your workouts, and tracking your progress are successful ways to make exercise a part of your life.

Here’s a simple checklist to help you stick to your exercise resolutions:
  1. First, choose a goal that you want to achieve. Remember, this must be something you actually want to do or you are less likely to be successful.
  2. Come up with a plan-of-action. Include specifics like when you’re going to exercise, how much time you’re going to spend doing it, and what you’re going to do.
  3. Write your goal down and put it in a place where you’re going to see it on a daily basis. Visual reminders of your goal will encourage you to hit the gym, even when you’re tired.
  4. Track your progress. Use tools like your HEALTHeME website to track what you’re doing and celebrate your success!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's a little weight loss among friends?

Weight loss works best with friends.
Do bird of a feather really flock and lose weight together? 

According to some recent studies, when those “birds” are overweight, they sure do! The research may have you reconsidering your “flock” to help you achieve weight loss success.  In one recent study, researchers found that people tend to eat more if they’re around overweight people. Study participants indulged in more candy or cookies after seeing an overweight person. With two out of every three Americans being classified as overweight or obese, this may make overeating (and the subsequent tipping of the scales), as contagious as the winter cold or flu running around your office.

Another study found that your social network is an important factor when it comes to your waistline. Researchers surveyed 288 people and found that overweight or obese people were at least 10% more likely to have an overweight best friend or romantic partner.

Here are two strategies to help you reach your weight loss goals and maybe even help your “flock” take a turn down the healthy road with you:
  1. According to one study, shared activities and meals may be the key element that causes people to gain or lose weight in sync. Enlist your friends to make some healthy resolutions. Catch up over a walk or watch your portions by splitting a healthy meal.
  2. Remembering your specific goals and realizing the link between overeating and weight gain can help you stay on track, even when you’re around people who are overweight or making poor choices. The best way to keep up with your goals? Write them down and log your food daily so you’ll understand the relationship between what you eat and your success.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weight Loss Myths Debunked

Top weight loss myths debunked.

What really works for weight loss?

The media is swirling with “great” advice to help you shed unwanted pounds. From doing only cardio, to doing no cardio and from eating nothing but cabbage soup, to eating chocolate with each meal, it seems there is no end to the words of wisdom devised to come to your weight-loss rescue. So, it seems relevant, at this time of year, to address two specific issues and set the record straight for weight loss.

MYTH 1:  “You aren’t eating enough.” Really?
I recently had a conversation with someone who was told by her personal trainer that she wasn’t losing weight because she wasn’t eating enough. As a long-time fitness professional, I’m not putting down personal trainers but I do think we need to question this line of reasoning. Does it really make sense that the nearly 70% of Americans who are either overweight or obese got to this place by not eating enough?
It may be more accurate to say that we aren’t eating enough of the good stuff, like fruits and vegetables. Some statistics estimate that only 32% of U.S. adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit per day. The data for vegetable intake is more disheartening, with only about a quarter of adults eating the recommended 3 servings per day. So, maybe we can amend the statement by saying we don’t need to eat more in general, just more of the good-for-us fruits and vegetables and less of the processed, empty calories in which we’re famous for indulging.

MYTH 2: “You aren’t losing body fat because you’re working out too hard.” What?
We’ve probably all heard talk of a mystical place called the “fat-burning zone”. And, no, it’s not due north of the Bermuda triangle. There are studies that confirm the utilization of more energy in the form of stored fat when you exercise at lower intensity levels. However, the total number of calories you burn at lower intensity levels is less than the calories you burn during a higher intensity exercise session of similar duration. One study found that women who participated in high-intensity exercise sessions lost more abdominal fat and decreased the amount of fat surrounding their organs than did their lower-intensity exercising counterparts. So, what really matters, in terms of weight loss, is your total caloric burn.
In fact, the energy balance equation is pretty clear on this matter: if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight; if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. If you decrease your total daily caloric intake by 500 calories, you will lose one pound per week. You can most easily create this deficit by cutting back on calories and adding daily exercise.

The bottom line: there are just no short cuts when it comes to weight loss. But, by exercising regularly (especially at higher intensity levels), cutting unnecessary calories (like those in processed foods), and eating the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day, you can enjoy weight loss success!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cool Infographic: America's Sugar Addiction

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Sugar Addition in America.
In the 1990’s, American obesity rates soared and became public health enemy numero uno. The answer, it seemed, was to produce a whole lot of low-fat and fat-free foods. What did food producers do to satisfy the newly health-conscious consumer? They were able to slash the fat content of food and replace it with a lot of sugar. Here we are, nearly 20 years later and obesity rates continues to soar, as do rates of diabetes and heart disease.

One of the major problems with sugar is how our body metabolizes it. If we eat too much of certain types of sugar (think high-fructose corn syrup), our liver has to work really hard to process it and will convert most of the sugar into fat. This process can lead to insulin resistance, which is a major contributor to obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease.

Here are 3 simple tips for cutting sugar intake:
  • Don't make desserts a regular part of every meal - Save them for special occasions or weekend treats.
  • Skip breakfast cereal -  Most cereals are loaded with sugar, which sets you up for hunger and fatigue for the whole day.  Try having fruit, yogurt, and nuts or light cheese instead.
  • Say farewell to soda and fruit juice - These sugary drinks are also high in calories, so choose water flavored with fresh lemon or lime, seltzer, tea, milk, or plain water instead.
Infographic credit: August Harris-Early/Sloan Rachmuth - HEALTHeME

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Think juice helps you lose weight? Think again.

Juice is a terrible option for weight loss.
Recent reports that kids’ juice boxes contain poison have parents up in arms! Citing reports of increased amounts of arsenic in juice, parents and some safety agencies are calling for a deeper look at what’s in lunchboxes across America. While some forms of arsenic are thought to be fairly harmless to people, other forms of the chemical are lethal. One recent Consumer Reports survey found that juice drinkers have higher levels of arsenic in their urine than their juice-free counterparts. Plus, long-term exposure to the chemical has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer.

Maybe concern over the possibility of sipping poison will finally convince people to do what other health-related messages have failed to do: stop drinking juice! One recent study found that people who drink juice gain more weight than those who eat whole fruits and vegetables. Another study found that drinking just 3 or more cups of apple juice per month increased a woman’s risk for developing diabetes. But, apparently such health warnings haven’t been quite enough to curb America’s juice habit. One research group estimates that the average American consumes over 11 gallons of juice per year.

So, aside from the obvious argument that we may be slowly poisoning our bodies by drinking contaminated juice, why all the fuss? It’s true that juice contains vitamins and is often enriched, providing drinkers with a bit of a nutritional boost. But, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, juice offers no nutritional benefit beyond what you get when you eat a piece of fruit. And because juice is lacking in fiber, whole fruits definitely have the nutritional edge. The juicing process removes most of the fiber from the fruit. Since fiber is a key to healthy weight, digestive health, and blood sugar regulation, it is important to eat the whole fruit and get your fill of fiber.

It’s time to re-think your morning juice and opt for the real thing instead. If you are not ready to start your day sans juice, make sure you’re drinking only 100% juice, with no added sugars. You also need to limit your intake: children 1-6 years of age should only consume 4-6 oz. per day; kids 7-18 years and adults should consume no more than 12 oz. per day. And for those who are left wondering what to drink if the rule is “no juice allowed”, we’ve got one magic word for you: WATER.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yoga for Weight Loss

Yoga for weight loss.

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America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. And, it seems as though we have decided to combat the growing weight of our nation by focusing on diet, what we should and should not eat. We have relegated exercise to after-thought status, something to do when we have more “free time”. Which leaves me wondering: How’s that working for us?

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 64% of Americans are overweight or obese, and the number is growing as quickly as our waistlines. The CDC also reports that only about 50% of adults meet the physical activity recommendation of accumulating 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Painting a more disheartening picture is this statistic:  

"25% of Americans report getting ZERO added physical activity each week."

The media and many public health campaigns have spent a lot of time and energy focusing on America’s diet, making it public enemy #1, the root cause of the obesity epidemic. In fact, one recent study suggests that more people rely on making dietary changes than exercise to lose weight.

Maybe we’ve gravitated to a diet-only approach for weight loss because it’s just easier to eat a little less or skip the fries than to carve out 30 minutes in an already busy day to exercise. But, as any carb-deprived dieter will tell you, weight loss is hard when you're focusing on diet alone. Here’s the reality: you have to focus on both diet and exercise to lose weight and keep that weight off. Although you may feel too overwhelmed by your day to workout, if you take the time to exercise, you’ll actually have a lot more time – like years – to check items off of your to-do list! According to one recent study, improving your fitness level is more important than weight loss or decreasing your body mass index (BMI) in terms of reducing your risk of heart disease.

No more excuses! It’s time to get up and get moving. Here are some tips to help you fit exercise into your daily routine:
  • Schedule it. Whether you need to make it to a 6:30pm Yoga class, meet a friend for a workout at lunch, or just get up a few minutes early to go for a walk, you need to assign as much priority to your workout as you would a meeting with a client at work.
  • Split it up. Splitting your yoga into smaller segments allows you to “squeeze” your yoga in where you find little windows. According to one classic study, short bouts of exercise were as effective as a more traditional, continuous exercise session in terms of weight loss.
  • Fight fat with a friend. Social support is a key factor in the likelihood of weight loss success. Skip the coffee and catch up with your friends while practicing yoga.
  • Set a goal. Whether it's registering for a 5K or splurging on a new pair of jeans, establishing a goal, complete with a timeline and reward once you're successful, will keep you moving even when you're tempted to skip yoga.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dairy for Weight Loss: The Truth

Does milk do a body good?

Behind the hype of dairy and weight loss.

Losing weight is tough and many people don't care how they lose weight, as long as the scale is tipping in the right direction. But, several recent studies remind us that weight loss involves more than just slashing calories: the goal of weight loss is to get rid of the fat, while maintaining or building lean tissues like muscle and bone.

In one recent study, women were put into groups that consumed varying amounts of dairy, protein, and carbohydrates; and all groups exercised seven days per week. While all groups lost weight, researchers found that the group that consumed the highest amount of both protein and dairy lost the most total body fat and gained the most lean muscle tissue. This is significant because gaining lean muscle while losing body fat helps prevent weight gain. 

Another recent study found that women who ate a diet higher in protein, especially when the protein came from dairy products, maintained their bone density even while losing weight. Bone density is an important issue for both men and women.  A loss of bone mass can lead to osteoporosis or fractures. While many people lose bone density while they are dieting, you can reach your weight loss goals and protect those all-important bones by including low-fat dairy in your daily diet.

The way you lose weight is important.  By working to maintain or build muscle and bone while shedding fat, you will change your body for life! And, it looks like a diet rich in protein and low-fat dairy products may be just what you need to succeed. Try these tips to include high protein, low-fat dairy in your diet:
  • Go Greek - Have Greek yogurt for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or top with fresh fruit for a decadent dessert! Greek yogurt packs twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt.
  • Sport a milk mustache -  Have a glass of skim or 1% milk with your meals to help you feel full and get plenty of bone-strengthening vitamins! Don’t like milk? Try soymilk or almond milk instead.
  • Say cheese -  Enjoy low-fat cheese, like string cheese, as a snack to boost your energy & keep you feeling full.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weight Loss is Possible During the Holidays!

The holiday season is a time of joy, giving, and eating. And eating. And eating the leftovers. Many a well-meaning individual has joined the buffet line at grandma’s house or “forgot” to pass the mashed potatoes only to find themselves a bit heavier and less happy come New Years. Rather than relying on the magical properties of the age-old New Years resolution try these 5 tips to avoid weight gain.

Pass the … Judgment on Portions
When you have a dazzling feast before you, it’s easy for your eyes to be bigger than your stomach. According to a study published in Obesity, participants who concentrated on portion control lost more weight than those who concentrated solely on planned exercise. So when you’re piling your plate, take care to pay attention to your portion sizes. Confused about correct portion sizing? Don’t feel bad, most people are. Fortunately websites like HEALTHeME offer easy to access and understand models for portion sizes based on common foods, and even a handy wallet-sized print-out that can help you make smarter portion choices.

Divide & Conquer

Most every holiday meal includes a barrage of deserts. It’s not usually just one cake, or one tray of cookies, but a seemingly endless line of sugary, fattening treats of great variety. You’ll never make it through the holidays dieting, as evidenced by a study conducted by Janet Polivy, a Toronto psychologist. In the study subjects, some dieters and some non-dieters, were allowed to consume as much ice cream as they wanted, but one group was given milkshakes prior to consuming the ice cream while another group was given nothing prior to the ice cream. Of the non-dieter group, the results were as you would expect, with those consuming a milk shake or two prior to the ice cream consuming less ice cream. The dieters, however, went on to consume more ice cream than non-dieters even after having a milkshake prior to. Polivy hypothesized this was because the dieters had accepted that they’d already blown their diet for that day, so why not eat! A big downfall of most people is that they become overwhelmed by the many choices and find themselves unable to decide on just one desert, so they grab a piece of each.

When you’re in the throws of a sugar high you don’t realize that your plate of cherry pie, coffee cake and a cookie is a ridiculous amount of food for one person: it’s just a plate of awesome! If you’re going to try every flavor on the rainbow, cut back your portions considerably. Take a sliver of cake, a half of a cookie, etc.

Jingle Bell Jog
Exercise is crucial to meaningful weight loss, bottom line. Think back to your last Holiday dinner: for most of us, there is a lot of sitting and talking or watching T.V.  Be sure to indulge your metabolism with as much exercise as possible during the holidays, be it morning yoga or ice skating.

Kiss The Cook
 If portion control fails and exercise just isn’t your thing, consider cooking some healthier alternatives to your favorite holiday dishes and drinks. For instance,  drinking hot chocolate as opposed to egg nog can save you a whopping 230 calories.  Instead of baked potatoes have red potatoes, or have ham instead of prime rib. Making these little changes can help you save calories without feeling like you’ve starved yourself.

And This Little Piggie Cried Wii!
On the note of exercising, it can be decidedly difficult to break away from family that you don’t necessarily get to see except during the holiday season. So why not include everyone in the fitness fun. There are now a variety of Wii games and other activities that can be played indoors that the whole family can enjoy, many of which get the sweat flowing without carrying the “But mom, I don’t wanna” stigma that accompanies exercise.

Don’t let the fun of the holidays fade into self-hatred in the New Year. By following these and other steps to weight loss, you can enjoy the holidays without the guilt. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

High blood pressure may lead to memory loss.

High Blood Pressure Can Make You Lose Your Mind.

It’s no secret that high blood pressure (or hypertension) brings with it a whole host of health problems. Increased risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and sudden death are just a few of the complications associated with uncontrolled high blood pressure.  A new study adds mental decline to the list of negative effects of hypertension.

Researchers followed 24,000 people who had no prior history of cognitive impairment or stroke.   They found that having high blood pressure increased study participants’ risk for cognitive decline.  Cognitive decline is more than just the age-related changes in memory; it involves declines in thinking skills, memory, language, and problem solving. 

There are some things you can do to keep your blood pressure in the “healthy” range and prevent the health issues associated with hypertension, including cognitive decline.   


    •    Know your numbers: The first step is to have your blood pressure checked.  A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.  If your blood pressure reading is above this number, you should consult with your healthcare provider.

    •    Slash your salt intake: The 2010 recommendations set the limit at 2,300 mg of sodium per day and 1,500 mg of if you’re older or already have high blood pressure.

    •    Combine efforts: Following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has long been touted as an effective way to lower blood pressure.  A recent study found that combining regular exercise with the DASH diet was a more effective way to reduce your blood pressure than following the DASH diet alone.

    •     Take a nap: New research suggests that taking at least a 45-minute snooze during the day resulted in lower blood pressure following a stressful event.  This important finding may help you manage both your blood pressure and your stress level.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

8 Saltiest Foods

Pizza is 3rd saltiest food according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, we eat way too much salt!

Sodium, or salt, is a common addition to foods; especially the so-called “comfort” foods that don’t leave you feeling so comfortable after you indulge.  One reason for this bloated feeling is the sodium in foods that can cause your body to hang onto extra fluids. 

Here are some foods high in sodium to avoid:

  • Peanuts (dry roasted, salted) have 230 mg of sodium per ounce
  • Potato chips, tortilla chips, popcorn
  • Pretzels: yes they are low in fat but a serving has around 400mg of sodium
  • Cold cuts and other processed meats like pepperoni and hot dogs
  • Ham - packs a lot of sodium in each serving
  • Dips and spreads, like creamy Ranch dip for veggies
  • Olives & pickles
  • Condiments & dressings – things like ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings have tons of sodium in each serving

Here are some healthier options:

  • Unsalted nuts are great sources of protein and heart-healthy fats.
  • Fresh vegetables: carrot & celery sticks are usually found next to the creamy dip so skip the dip and load up on the fiber instead.
  • Baked or broiled meat options.
  • Use sodium free dressing or drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top of your salad.
  • Cheddar cheese and cream cheese is lower in sodium than some other cheeses like American.

For more low sodium eating options, go to www.myhealtheme.com.