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What Will You Leave Behind?

I can’t quite remember where I heard it, but somewhere I once heard someone say that their deepest desire in life is to not leave an ounce of potential behind when they’re gone.

It made me re-evaluate how I live in each major area of my life – health/fitness, relationships, business, finance, and much more. It still helps me focus on constant improvement in each area.

Also, it’s important to consider the legacy you will leave behind. Likewise, how do you want to be remembered?

If you get one body in this lifetime, do you want to give it the best care and the attention that it deserves? Or do you want to neglect it, to take it for granted?

I want you not only to leave an incredible legacy behind in every area of your life, but I also want you to feel the magic of tremendous self-care, much of which happens through fitness and the choices we make regarding our health every single day.

So, tell me, what do you want to be your full legacy? And how, specifically, do you want to care for this amazing human body you have?

In conclusion, are you giving your body the chance to live up to its full potential?


Originally printed on Move Well Fitness blog. Reprinted with permission.

Maurice D. Williams is a personal trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD. With almost two decades in the industry, he’s worked with a wide range of clients, including those with health challenges like diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, lower back pain, pulmonary issues, and pregnancy. Maurice is also a fitness educator with Move Well Fit Academy and NASM.  

sweetener

The Not So Sweet Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

As of 2014, approximately 2.1 billion people – nearly one-third of the world’s population – are overweight or obese; with Americans tipping the scales at over 160 million. This includes nearly 75% of American men, more than 60% of women and over 30% of children under 20 years old (1).

It’s likely you know someone who may choose to regularly consume artificial sweeteners as part of their daily meal pattern in an effort to decrease total caloric intake in order to promote weight loss or manage their blood sugar (possibly you’ve tried them in the past as well). Are they the answer to the obesity epidemic and disease prevention? What are the differences in those different colored packets anyway?

What are they?

An artificial sweetener, or sugar substitute, is any food additive that provides a sugary taste, but has significantly less associated calories, or food energy (2).

Some sugar substitutes are derived from natural sources, like stevia and monk fruit, while others are synthetic, coining the term “artificial sweeteners”.

Because they can be 200-20,000 times sweeter than sugar, smaller amounts are needed to achieve the same level of sweetness.

There are currently six artificial sweeteners approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (3). Saccharin (including the brand Sweet’N Low® and packaged in pink packets) was the first to be discovered in 1878, and after a sugar shortage following WWI, the popularity and use of artificial sweeteners skyrocketed.

The remaining five include aspartame (found in blue packets like Equal®), sucralose (marketed under the trade name Splenda® in a yellow packet), acesulfame potassium (with a brand name of SweetOne® in a light blue sachet), neotame and advantame; which are not as commonly used.

Where are they found?

  • diet sodas
  • juices and other drinks
  • reduced-calorie dairy products
  • cereal
  • condiments
  • desserts and baked goods
  • chewing gum
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • lip balm
  • medications and supplements

What are the risks?

While sucralose usage is possibly the greatest in the country (4), aspartame has been the most studied artificial sweetener.

To that point, although the FDA has said artificial sweeteners are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption and the National Cancer Institute has concluded from research they are not linked to cancer (5), we still don’t really know if there are long-term health consequences to their use.

Sucralose may actually raise blood sugar and insulin levels, particularly in obese individuals who do not regularly consume artificial sweeteners (6). However, small research studies have determined it may not have an increased effect on people who already typically use them (7).

The CDC found that 67% of consumer complaints regarding aspartame in the 1980’s involved neurological or behavioral symptoms, primarily headaches, but also included mood changes like depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances, confusion, dizziness, seizures, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and irregular menses (8).

Other studies found no connection between artificial sweetener consumption and body weight or fat mass, but some of them reported a small increase in body mass index (9).

Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to drive the development of glucose intolerance negatively impacting the microbiome (10) and reduce the amount of healthy gut bacteria (11).

In addition, they may reset our taste perception, therefore foods that are naturally less sweet tasting may not offer the same satisfaction, or “reward”, as they did before. This phenomenon may result in a person seeking out more food in an attempt to please the pleasure centers of their brain, thus potentially promoting an overweight or obese status, as well as blood sugar irregularities (12).

What to do?

As a mindful-eating practicing dietitian, I promote all foods fitting in moderation. However, I highly emphasize consuming whole foods for optimal health and wellness. If you are looking to decrease your caloric intake, but still want some added sweetness, currently stevia (found in green packets) and monk fruit (in orange) are the closest natural sugar substitute choices on the market.

Since long-term studies are still lacking on how these artificial sweeteners may ultimately be affecting us, what we want to consider more is listening to what our bodies are saying after consuming them. Do we experience any negative side-effects, like a headache, bowel pattern changes or the desire to eat more of something since it may claim to be sugar-free, even though we are no longer physically hungry?

Get more on this topic! 

Join Regina for her upcoming webinar, The Not So Sweet Truth About Artificial Sweeteners.


Regina Saxton is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in intuitive eating behaviors helping women develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies while managing weight and disease for optimum health. She has a private practice out of Georgia and offers virtual nutrition coaching nationally. Visit her website for more information, reginasaxton.com

Exercising woman

Lymphedema: Personal Trainer Perspective

Cancer surgery and treatment often results in survivors suffering debilitating physical impairments. These can often be ameliorated by a good exercise program that has the added benefit of helping survivors to engage in those activities in which they participated prior to their diagnosis. This article addresses some of the physical side effects cancer survivors may face, including lymphedema and a series of safe and effective techniques to restore functional fitness for those with or at risk for lymphedema.

feel better

Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapy have side effects, which exacerbate the problems faced by cancer patients. Surgery can create adhesions that can limit range of motion, and cause pain, numbness and tightness. Removal of lymph nodes creates scars and may decrease range of motion. Radiation can cause fatigue, tightness and stiffness. It also can increase the risk of developing lymphedema. Chemotherapy may affect balance, a patient’s immune system, and cause neuropathy, fatigue, sarcopenia, and anemia. Hormonal therapy can cause joint pain and early menopause and the side effects associated with menopause.

Before beginning a cancer exercise program, a patient must receive medical clearance. A medical history, base line range of motion and girth measurements, and a general fitness assessment are taken. It is important to note that many exercises and movements may be contraindicated based on a person’s fitness assessment, medical conditions, and particular surgery. There are different exercises necessary for each type of reconstruction. For those who were active prior to surgery it is imperative to slowly work back up to the previous level of activity. It is not wise to go back to a gym and immediately continue with a pre-cancer exercise routine.

Research has shown that exercise is safe for cancer survivors, even those with or who are at risk for lymphedema. Dr. Schmitz stresses the importance of starting slowly and using proper form with a well trained certified professional. Her study demonstrates the importance of exercise after cancer with slow progressive improvement in order to decrease risk of lymphedema. The research shows that breast cancer survivors no longer have to give up activities that they enjoy doing and avoid activities of daily living. Aerobic exercise is essential to good health and we advise a patient to walk as much as possible. Initially, one might start by walking around their house or up and down their block and then slowly increasing the distance walked. Many physicians recommend that their patients try to walk during chemotherapy. This may decrease fatigue. If using aerobic equipment, make sure not to grip on the railing.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know which patients with lymph node dissection will get lymphedema. This makes it imperative to follow the established guidelines and take a prudent approach to exercise. Patients who have lymphedema need to progress slowly and use a properly fitted garment. Our goal is to promote physical activity without exacerbating lymphedema. Severe range of motion issues and cording problems are referred to lymphedema specialists. Moreover, measurement of the limbs that are at risk for lymphedema are performed frequently to make sure they have not changed in size. Symptoms can be managed easier if they are addressed promptly. Progress is monitored in order to make appropriate modifications to a patient’s program. It is important to learn the right exercises for a patient’s particular situation and how to do them properly and with good form. The patient should learn which exercises to perform, the sequencing, and quantity of repetitions. Exercise smartly and under professional guidance!

Lymphedema can be debilitating and painful and can affect the emotional health of the patient. Our bodies work better if engaged in regular physical activity, but it must be done in a safe manner if lymph nodes have been removed or radiated. A cancer fitness program for someone with lymphedema should begin as an individualized program. The patient must be supervised to make sure there are no subtle volume changes to the limb. Ultimately, we want a patient to be able to exercise on his or her own.

The starting point is a low impact exercise program, performing range of motion stretches and techniques to improve venous drainage. First, we elevate the affected area above heart level. Over time, stretches are incorporated until a patient can achieve 80% of range of motion. At that point, we start adding strength training. A stretching program for those with upper body lymphedema begins with moving or stretching the neck and shoulder areas. If a patient is still healing from breast cancer surgery, begin with pendulum arm swings. The arm is then moved and stretched in all directions, going across the chest and behind the head and back. Stretches that move the arms in shoulder flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction are added. Finally internal and external rotations are addressed. Patients suffering from fatigue can perform many of the stretches while in bed. An easy-to-follow DVD is Recovery Fitness Simple Stretching, which can be found on www.recoveryfitness.net.

All of the exercises incorporate abdominal breathing, which can stimulate lymphatic drainage. This intra-abdominal pressure may help move sluggish lymph fluid, stimulate lymph flow, and act as a lymphatic system pump. This type of breathing enables oxygen to get to the tissues. Abdominal breathing and relaxation breathing, along with the proper exercises can also reduce stress, a common cancer side effect. If weak, it may be best just to stretch and breathe deeply.

Strength training may help pump the lymph fluid away from the affected limb. Exercise helps the lymphatic fluid to April / June 2013 ~ NATIONAL LYMPHEDEMA NETWORK 13 move. Muscles pump and push the lymph fluid and can help move the lymph from the affected area. Strength training may also strengthen the arm so that it can handle those activities that may have otherwise led to swelling with a greater level of ease. Always wear a sleeve and stop if there is swelling or pain. Start with light weights and slowly increase repetitions and eventually weight.

Cancer survivors should follow a systematic and progressive plan. Exercise starts with a warm-up and cool down. Begin with deep breathing. Keeping a strong core should be emphasized. It is important to remember that following treatment the body may have become weaker. Even if a patient had exercised using 10 pound weights before surgery, if one is at risk for lymphedema they must start with a light weight. We teach patients to always listen to their bodies and to stop if they feel tired or if their limb aches or feels heavy. Patients must be aware of any changes in their body.

Exercising womanProgression of exercise should be gradual. A deconditioned person should start without using any weight and concentrate on proper technique. If 8-10 repetitions can not be executed, repetitions should be decreased or the weight lowered or resistance band used changed to less resistance. The exercise routines have to be adapted for the day-to-day changes that that can affect the ability to work out. Our program will start using a very light weight, with few repetitions, typically 10. In subsequent sessions, patients can add repetitions. After performing 2 sets of 10 repetitions with no problem then a small amount of weight may be added in 1 pound increments. We also alternate between a strength training exercises with a stretch for each muscle group and to alternate an upper body and lower body exercises. Pilates exercises are great way to incorporate deep breathing with strengthening the core. The deep breathing helps to pump lymphatic fluid and will also help reduce stress.

Every patient is unique. Many patients have pre-existing medical issues. The exercise program should be modified to accommodate all body types and needs. Some might need pillows for comport or postural problems. Also if osteoporosis is an issue, a cancer therapist should have experience working with this population. Always monitor the affected limb. Look for feelings of fullness or aching. We do not want to overwhelm the lymphatic system. Drink plenty of water and stop immediately if any pain. Lymphedema patients should elevate their limbs after a session.

Learn which aerobic exercises are considered safe. Walking, biking, and swimming are considered very safe. Hot tubs, pools, and warm lakes may increase risk of infection. In choosing an activity, consider the risk of injury, prior medical condition, and fitness level. Injuries can create further complications for those with lymphedema. It is still unclear whether certain sports can be safe. For example, tennis can put a lot of stress or repetitive activity on one’s limbs. It is important to know if the activity was something performed prior to lymphedema. If the patient wants to resume the activity in order to exercise, have fun, and to have good quality of life, a sports fitness program can be instituted. This should be performed under medical guidance. In a sports fitness program, the muscles used in the sport are progressively strengthened so that the sport can be resumed. Patients must use caution as they return to a sport.

One of the most important things that can be done to decrease the risk of lymphedema is to keep weight at a good level. Those individuals with whom I have worked who have had lymphedema typically see a marked reduction of swelling in conjunction with weight loss. My students who are successful in losing weight have the most success in lymphedema control. Proper nutrition is important and decrease salt intake. Evidence suggests numerous benefits of exercise: improved fitness level, physical performance, quality of life, and less depression and fatigue. Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle and will help in weight control and emotional health. There are exercise programs that are targeted at cancer survivors but not all of them will meet the needs of someone at risk for lymphedema.

My goal is for cancer survivors to participate in individually structured and group exercise programs at all cancer centers or facilities close to their homes.

Article reprinted with permission from Carole J. Michaels.


Carol J. Michaels is the founder and creator of Recovery Fitness® LLC, located in Short Hills, New Jersey. Her programs are designed to help cancer survivors in recovery through exercise programs. Carol, an award winning fitness and exercise specialist, has over 17 years of experience as a fitness professional and as a cancer exercise specialist.

watermelon berries

Nutrition Myths | Part 2

Check out Part 1 of this article for more nutrition myths.

Looking for weight loss and overall health in the digital age can be a mixed blessing. Technology, on one hand, is a threshold to endless potential weight loss diets, nutrition facts, health and fitness approaches.

But, on the flip side, it can be difficult to know what to follow and what activities could supercharge your health and fitness.

Take a look at some common nutrition myths…

Myth#6: All sugars are bad.

Fact: Go for natural sugars over artificial sugars. Natural sugars are already present in whole foods, such as milk (Lactose), plain yogurt (Lactose), and fruits (Fructose).

Natural sugars are a better alternative to added sugars as they are packed with health-promoting nutrients such as calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium and fiber, along with natural sugars.

Added sugar sabotages your metabolism leading to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, weight gain and other inflammatory diseases. You will be surprised to know that, even if you don’t eat sweetened foods like dessert and cookies. your foods have hidden sugar in it.

Added sugars present in your diet include high fructose syrup, maple syrup, honey and glucose. Around 70% of processed and packaged foods (breakfast cereals, soups, flavored yogurt) have added sugar in it.

As per a CDC report (1), 14% of total calories are comprised of added sugars in the Western diet. Consumption of added sugars should be less than 10% of 2000 calories/day (<200 calories).

According to the American Medical Association, 6 teaspoons of sugar (25g) for a woman and 9 teaspoons of sugar (36g) for a man is enough to add sweetness to your diet.

The Takeaway: Try to add fruits to your breakfast for sweetness. Buy plain oats over flavored oats, which are loaded with added sugar and excess sodium.

Also, you can enhance your meal with the addition of plain yogurt, not flavored yogurt. Then you can enjoy more natural sugars. Reconsider your diet and lifestyle.

Myth#7: Drink 8-ounce glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.

Fact: Our body comprises of 60% of water. You can’t store water; you need to continually replenish your body with water throughout the day.

Drinking those bland and boring 8-10 glasses of water is now revamped to include flavor-infused water, along with herbal tea and green tea.

Along with a glass of water and beverages (tea, coffee), you can add foods rich in water. Water-rich foods (pineapple, strawberry, celery, watermelon, oranges, and spinach) not only keep you hydrated, but are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

During summer, you can drink smoothies that have a blend of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats for a morning go-getter.

Myth#8: Organic foods are better than conventional foods.

Fact: Despite the high prices of organic foods, its consumption has increased over the last few years. Organic, as the name suggests, means more natural, ethical, and healthy, without artificial GMO seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers.

Unlike conventional processing of foods organic farming involves traditional ways and uses organic compost.

We tend to buy organic foods as they are touted to be high on antioxidants, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acid. There is mixed evidence about it. Hence, there’s not a significant difference in its nutritional value compared to conventional foods.

Organic cultivation has less use of pesticides, like sulphur, natural vegetable oils, and copper sulphate.

Toxic content in any food depends on concentration and vulnerability of toxins, not on how natural that food is grown.

It is healthy to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables judiciously with little significance on how it is produced.

In respect to the environment, conventional foods are better than organic foods. A study showed that organic farming requires more land to produce and emits more greenhouse gas compared to the same crop grown from conventional methods.

The Takeaway: A healthy eating approach boils down to two factors viz. expectation and personal choice.

Research says to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet to attain health benefits. Buy locally grown foods that are in season to avail every nutrient.

The organic tag is not a guarantee for your food security. Moreover, the difference in taste and quality of organic and conventional foods are minimal if any at all.

Tip: In practice, rinse the food thoroughly before consumption to remove bacteria, pesticides from outside.

Myth#9: Multivitamins protect you from diseases.

Fact: Multivitamin intake should never interfere with a nutritious, varied and regular diet. Consumption of multivitamins daily for disease prevention is a double-edged sword.

As per Harvard led Physician Health study for a period of ten years in 1000 men showed that multivitamins lowered the risk of developing a diagnosis of cancer by 8%, but not death.

In another Harvard led PHC study no beneficial effect of multivitamin supplements were observed in the prevention of heart disease and related symptoms such as heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.

The physicians in the study had a more nutritious diet, were more physically active and were involved in less unhealthy routines compared to the general population.

The Takeaway: More than spending time and money on supplements, focus on getting essential nutrients from healthy foods that are seasonal, locally grown and home-cooked.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS), a healthy diet is superior to taking a multivitamin. If you already eat a healthy diet, you are less likely to benefit from extra multivitamin pills, says Dr. Kormos.

Overall optimal health is not based on a single nutrient, rather a synergy of varied nutrients from the food we eat.

Choosing nutrient-dense foods such as plain yogurt, whole grains, salmon, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and lentils helps you meet nutrient and vitamin needs.

But, people who eat a vegan and a vegetarian diet, vitamin D may be recommended if the intake cannot be met through foods. Vitamin D supplements (600-800 IU) are good, as sources of vitamin D are of animal origin (such as tuna, fatty fish, salmon, cod liver oil, and mackerel).

Hint: You can also add Vitamin D fortified foods in your diets such as orange juice, soy milk, some dairy products, and cereals.

The decision to include supplements in your diet is personalized based on your diet and your risks. Review the recommendation of supplements with your doctor to make the important health choice, says Dr. LeBoff.

Reprinted with permission from Akanksha Srivastava. Originally printed on healthrewardz.com.


Akanksha Srivastava is a Nutritionist, content writer & a food blogger. She is a life member of the Nutrition Society of India (LM No. LM-2018-0284). Her blog, healthrewardz.com, is not just a hub of information which imparts views on health & nutrition related topics backed with scientific research papers, but a journey where everyone associated is a part of an endeavor through educative article beyond health. With a significant focus on the holistic approach to health and well-being, her blog successfully forays into empowering people with healthy eating behavior.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html
Junk Food Concept

Blues-Busting Foods: Rx For Emotional Eating

For many, negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression, lead to out-of-control eating…and ensuing weight gain. Knowing which foods can bust the blues, without weight gain, could reduce the odds of emotional eating episodes. Meet the foods that may help.

Mac and cheese. Chocolate chip cookies. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Some call it “comfort food”; others say it’s “food as friend.” However you phrase it, turning to food to soothe unpleasant feelings—from depression and anxiety to anger, loneliness, even fatigue—is the key cause of Emotional Eating. As a matter of fact, our research revealed that eating to cope with negative feelings is the #1 reason we overeat; and the key cause of weight gain.

Theories abound about the causes of out-of-control eating. Is it linked to brain chemistry? Or is it a behavioral addiction? Or both? What is clear is that when some people experience unwelcomed feelings such as fear, anger, anxiety, or depression— because of physical (such as back pain), emotional (negative feelings), mental (stress-filled thoughts), or spiritual (emptiness) distress, they may turn to food to feel better. Why? Because food does, indeed, have the power to bust the blues! Here’s why.

Anatomy of Emotional Eating

Have you ever felt frustrated, and turned to carbohydrate-dense fries, cake, cookies, or potato chips—seemingly unable to stop until the whole bag (or bags) is gone? If so, it’s possible you’re self-medicating unpleasant feelings with food. How so? Certain hormones—naturally occurring “chemical messengers” released when you consume certain nutrients (such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, and so on) in food—have the power to “replace” negative emotions with feel-good feelings. This is because high-carb foods, such as chips, stimulate the production of serotonin, an emotion-friendly hormone that calms and soothes the psyche.

It seems so easy: load up on carbs, feel better. But you pay a price for this feel-good fix. This is because processed, sugar- and fat-laden junk food—from donuts, cookies, and cake, to chips, fries, candy bars, and soda—ultimately, are “downer” foods. This means these often tasty, high-carb foods may provide some short-term comfort by releasing soothing serotonin, but you won’t get long-term relief. Rather, sugar-laden comfort foods could worsen negative feelings, because after they drive up insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar and energy absorption), your blood-sugar levels inevitably plummet, leaving you even more depressed and fatigued then prior to eating them.

Damage Control: Calming Carbs Without the Crash

If you’re an emotional eater—if you cope with unpleasant emotions by overeating and bingeing on high-carb, super-sweet foods—there are many proactive steps you can take to turn the tide. For starters, consider consuming some blues-busting foods that bring the benefits of serotonin—without the downside of the emotional “crash” and the weight gain that bingeing on processed, high-calorie, “downer” food (products) can cause.

Here are some quick-fix, mood-friendly foods and snacks that not only may bust the blues, they may crush cravings and curb your urge to splurge.

FLASH TIP: BE SURE TO WAIT AT LEAST 20 MINUTES AFTER YOU EAT TO GET THE CALMING AFFECTS OF SEROTONIN. THIS IS HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR YOUR BRAIN TO REGISTER THAT SEROTONIN IS WORKING ITS WONDERS.

Smoothie. Combine 2 cups chopped dark leafy greens, 1 cup blueberries, 3 walnut halves, 1 cup milk of choice (cow, soy, almond, rice), ½ cup juice of choice, 3 walnut halves, 1 teaspoon flax oil. Blend.

Avocado spread. Toast a piece of multi-grain bread or choose whole-grain rice crackers. Mash ½ avocado, add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the avocado on the bread. Or a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut, tahini, etc.) on it.

Popcorn. Pop some air-popped popcorn. Spritz lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Toss.

Cereal. Enjoy a bowl of cracked oatmeal with a handful of blueberries and milk of choice.

Nuts/Seeds. Try a ¼ cup of raw, unroasted nuts or seeds of choice. A sampling: walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Veggies. Munch some carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes; crunch kale or Romaine lettuce leaves. Optional: Use the nut butter blend, above, as a dip or spread for your veggies.

Fish. Enjoy a tuna or salmon salad. Mix together water-packed tuna fish, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, diced celery and red onion, juice from ½ lemon, salt and pepper.

Fruit. Have an apple, papaya, orange, frozen grapes, banana, kiwi, cherries, pineapple pieces, tangerine, or any other fruit you like.

Chocolate. Savor a piece or two of dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Or make hot chocolate with 100% cocoa powder and milk of choice.

The take-away: Enhancing emotions by consuming fresh, whole, blues-busting foods—instead of processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories—is a sound step toward overcoming Emotional Eating, the #1 overeating style our research on Whole Person Integrative Eating has revealed.

In other words, if you turn to food that enhances feel-good feelings, but that also nourishes your mind and body—without the “downer” crash—you’re more likely to lower your odds of Emotional Eating episodes. How so? You’ll keep your mind-body in balance.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.


Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. 

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Change, Habits, Comfort Zones and the Power of Fear

I am a creature of habit. I have always struggled with change throughout my life. I fought it and rarely embraced it until I was forced to acknowledge I was on the wrong path and needed to make a change. In my personal life, I held onto my marriage long after it ended creating unnecessary pain and anguish for all of us. I have learned that to RESPOND to the changes in my life is a far less traumatic way to live than always REACTING to the “fluid” circumstances and uncertainties of life.

Comfort zones, habits, and fear – the “Big 3” of life’s impediments to lasting and positive change in our lives need to be embraced for what they are: “False Evidence Appearing Real” – FEAR.  I see this today as I have seen it repeatedly over the past 2 decades with my clients. We seem to end up being FORCED to change our ways rather than willingly and knowingly taking the steps necessary to move us forward to a more fulfilling life. Let’s take a look at a model for change that has begun to work for me.

The principle behind change is that the universe is always in a state of flux. Nothing in this reality remains the same – especially as we age. One of my former teachers stated that “the only constant in the natural order is change” and yet we fight the changes in our lives and often label them “bad” or “good”. Even positive change brings new stresses into our lives – stresses that can fuel our creative “juices” and enable us and empower us to grow in ways that we could barely imagine. Being willing – and ready – to embrace change allows us to imagine with feeling what is possible. This can create new paths to a future that can embolden and encourage not only ourselves but others as well.

We all have to understand that we can’t control what is NOT ours to control and “let go” while embracing what it is that we DO have the power to influence. The next steps in my journey are being written RIGHT NOW as I type these words. The same holds true for each of us so let’s be BOLD and embrace change as a friend and see what can happen when we partner with change for a higher purpose.

Habits and comfort zones rely on each other to keep us from fulfilling our promise. I have lived for years with the notion that I didn’t possess the “right stuff” to leave a lasting mark on this world.

My daughter Lisa is a “big thinker” and strives for excellence in all aspects of her life even as she has had to struggle over the past three years with life’s inevitable challenges at a very crucial time in her life. I am proud to say that she is confident and hopeful and continues to trust her instincts making me feel very proud of her at this critical moment in time in her life. She has what I didn’t have at her age – an indomitable spirit that continues to believe in her own innate ability and talent. To her comfort zones are only “resting places” – not residences.

I have learned that my fears were of my own making and today I know that we can only improve our lot in life if we are willing to risk acting “in spite of our fears”.  Remember that fear is nothing more than “false evidence appearing real” and our clients need that reassurance every day as they attempt to change something significant in their lives.

We need to KNOW deep inside ourselves that we indeed CAN make a difference and move our clients – and all those we want to serve – one step closer to their OWN new reality. May we each benefit from the changes that we are experiencing right NOW in our OWN lives so that we can help others achieve their own victories as well!

Article reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach and fitness professional with over 25 years of experience. His passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii, where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

grocery basket

3 Common Grocery Shopping Nutrition Tips that are NOT Better

Are your grocery store habits keeping you from getting better health? We are all trying to grocery shop better and the tips out there currently are supposed to help you shop smarter – but are they really better? Here are 3 common grocery shopping “hacks” that actually won’t help you make better choices, and a better nutrition tip to help you shop better, more often.

Choose products with fewer (less than 5) ingredients.

This tip was created to help you make better, not perfect, packaged food choices. The idea is that if there are fewer ingredients, it should be better for you, right? Wrong. An organic frozen dinner with 25 ingredients that are whole foods, includes herbs and spices, balances nutrients etc. can be a better choice whereas there are plenty of 5 even 3 ingredient items that aren’t (hello a certain “energy” drink with artificial colors, artificial sweetener, and caffeine).

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

This tip was created to emphasize the ready-to-eat fruits and vegetable section (a better idea for sure), but then retailers heard this tip and saw where their customers were shopping and started planting chips and/or candy in the produce aisle (I’m not kidding, this occurred in my neighborhood grocery store!). Now, let’s not make retailers the bad guys, there is even more reason to NOT follow this tip: If you only shop the perimeter, you are missing out on a lot of better nutrition choices like organic frozen fruits/veggies (frozen is as fresh as ready-to-eat, lasts longer, and costs less typically), whole grains, spices, oils, and so much more. Every grocery store is also set up differently – so get to know where the better options are in your store.

The Veggie Choice is Always a Better Choice.

Better nutrition better be plant-based because humans (like all animals) need the nutrients that plants provide to build and repair our bodies. BUT not all plant-based products in a store are better nutrition options. Better nutrition needs to provide a balance of nutrients, from better quality ingredients. So make sure your plant choice is a) packed with whole or kitchen-processed plant ingredients b) doesn’t overdo your better amount of one nutrient group serving c) doesn’t pack in the salt, sugar or other preservatives. Some veggie burgers and bars use highly processed plant proteins or pack in 3-4 servings of carbs, now that’s not better!

Got a grocery shopping tip you are wondering about – is it better or not for your health and your wallet – share it with us on Facebook / Instagram — @thebetternutritionprogram — and we will answer it in our next round-up.

Want more Better Nutrition? Join nutrition expert Ashley Koff, RD for her webinar with MedFit:


Originally printed on ashleykoffapproved.com. Reprinted with permission.

Ashley Koff RD is your better health enabler. For decades, Koff has helped thousands get and keep better health by learning to make their better not perfect nutrition choices more often. A go-to nutrition expert for the country’s leading doctors, media, companies and non-profit organizations, Koff regularly shares her Better Nutrition message with millions on national and local television, magazines and newspapers. Visit her website at ashleykoffapproved.com. Ashley is also available for nutritional consultations.

seniors at gym

Treat the Person, Not the Scan

“MRI’s are just anatomic pictures of structures. They do NOT tell me if someone is having pain from MRI findings. I tell patients that it is similar to having your portrait taken. The picture just shows what you look like, not how you are feeling.”

Dr. Derek Ochiai

“For example, many people have “stuff’ on their scans that can sound scary, even if these things are relatively normal and not closely connected to pain. This includes things like bulging discs and degenerated discs, which have a lot in common with grey hair and wrinkles – they are more common as we get older, without being dangerous.

Unfortunately, people with back pain are often told that these things indicate their back is damaged, and this can lead to further fear and distress or lead people with back pain to rush for procedures like surgery when they are not needed. Therefore, you should think twice before getting a scan.”

Kieran O’Sullivan, PT

“MRI scans show two patients with herniated lumbar discs.  One is a small herniation; one is a large herniation.

Q: Which patient needs surgery?

A: Neither.  Both patients have minor symptoms and are doing well with physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medications.

“Treat the patient, not the MRI”

–Ali A. Baaj, MD

I hope you find encouragement in the previous quotes. What is to be inferred from them?

You can be injured, have structural or tissue damage to the muscle-skeletal system, and not have very much pain or discomfort – sometimes no pain at all!

Let me repeat – be encouraged by this!

The message that tissue damage must always result in pain can be wrong.

This is not an indictment of X-Ray and MRI scans and the accompanying radiological reports. They are certainly valuable tools. For example: one of my colleagues on a recent Facebook post shared that an MRI showed that her shoulder joint doesn’t properly fit together due to repeated dislocations and that she is prone to future dislocations.

Of course, this is valuable information. It can help us understand whether we should, and if so how, to exercise the shoulder for strength training. It also sets up the expectation for outcomes for any process employed to help the individual.

On the same post, another colleague mentioned that a scan of his neck showed a herniated cervical disc was pressing on a nerve root. The scan took place after the numbness in his left arm had already disappeared. He mentioned he never had any pain in his neck or arm.

Should scans be done every-time someone is complaining of pain? Physicians have to make this decision on a regular basis often knowing that the scan might show something, or it might not. Whether or not what the scan shows has anything to do with the patient’s complaint is another matter.

It’s a conundrum for the doctor and the patient. Of course, each wants to know the cause … the reason for their pain. The pain needs to be blamed on something specific that can be seen. It has to be given a name like arthritis, tendonitis, or herniation. Unfortunately, the scan can’t show that whatever image is produced is what is causing the pain directly.

So, the insistence by the patient or doctor to get a scan is balanced against the hesitation to order a scan because it is expensive and may not shed any light on the problem, or possibly prompt a surgery that isn’t necessary.

The patient may leave the doctor’s office discouraged. They don’t want surgery, they don’t want to take drugs if they can avoid it, but they can’t live the rest of their life with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Drugs and surgery may even compound the problem by creating new issues.

It’s time to ask a few questions: What else can someone do to help the situation? Is there a more conservative approach to try before taking the risks of drugs and surgery?

Yes.

The answer – exercise.

Too many people have given up on trying to work conservatively via exercise to move better in order to feel better by looking for quick fixes that may carry negative long-term consequences. (can anyone say opioid epidemic?)

If you are feeling discouraged by musculoskeletal pain and are trying to avoid drugs and surgery – try exercise. Get a thorough assessment and have a professional develop, and implement, a personalized and precise exercise-based strategy that is unique to your needs.

Remember those quotes in the beginning of this blog, “Treat the Person, Not the Scan!”


Charlie Rowe, CMSS joined Physicians Fitness in the fall of 2007 after spending 9 years as the Senior Personal Trainer at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. He has also worked within an outpatient Physical Therapy Clinic coordinating care with the Physical Therapist since joining Physicians Fitness. Charlie has earned the Cooper Clinic’s Certified Personal Trainer, the NSCA’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist, Resistance Training Specialist Master Level, and American Council on Exercise Certified Orthopedic Exercise Specialist Certifications. 

healthy food basket

9 Nutrition Myths | Part 1

Looking for weight loss and overall health in the digital age can be a mixed blessing. Technology, on one hand, is a threshold to endless potential weight loss diets, nutrition facts, health and fitness approaches.

But, on the flip side, it can be difficult to know what to follow and what activities could supercharge your health and fitness.

Take a look at some common nutrition myths…

Myth#1: A Gluten-Free Diet is Healthier.

What it is: Diet that excludes gluten content in food. Gluten is a wheat protein.

What it is not: Gluten-Free Diet is not a Guilt-Free Diet

Fact: Replace gluten-free diet with a Low-Gluten Diet with High Fiber as a better alternative.

A gluten-free diet is beneficial for people suffering from Celiac Disease (an autoimmune allergic response to the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and wheat products).

A recent study (1) suggested a low-gluten diet with high fiber has a beneficial health effect on our microbiome (gut bacteria composition in the intestine) that improves healthy gut bacteria. These changes in intestinal function alleviate bloating.

Research (2) suggests that there is modest weight loss with both low-gluten, high fiber diet over a high-gluten diet.

Studies have previously shown improvement in the condition of irritable bowel syndrome (IBD) and other gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, constipation, stomach cramps). These are the gastrointestinal disorders that prevail in about 20% of the Western population.

A long-term study is needed to establish the beneficial effects of a low-gluten diet in healthy individuals. Although, intake of the low-gluten diet is prevalent in the general healthy population to aid in weight loss and lessen intestinal discomfort caused due to gluten insensitivity.

Mostly, a gluten-free diet available in the market is deprived of fiber and nutritional content. Nutritional composition of a gluten-free diet can be enhanced when it is high fiber enriched and minimally processed, for those who prefer a low-gluten diet.

Benefits:

  1. Improves healthy gut bacteria
  2. Combat excess weight and intestinal discomfort
  3. Less bloating was observed in some healthy individual and along with IBS.

Tip: Replace fiber from wheat and rye with fiber from vegetables, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and corn.

My Advice: Check for gluten-free ingredients carefully.

Myth#2: It is healthy to lose weight with the low carbohydrate diet.

What it is: A quick-fix for weight loss

What it’s not: A long-term weight loss approach

Fact: Some carbs are good for your health and some aren’t.

Sugar is a bad carbohydrate and fiber is a good carbohydrate present in whole grains and oats, says Professor Jim, University of Otago. Therefore by cutting carbohydrates from your diet, you are also cutting down fiber that affects your health in the long-term.

High carbohydrate diet is good if it’s high in fiber, as it has protective effects on heart and gut. As WHO explains, a diet high in fiber (whole grain pasta), nuts and pulses will cut down chances of heart disease and aids healthy weight loss.

Tip: Dividing the number of carbohydrate per serving by number of grams of fiber can give you insight for good carbohydrate foods.

Cut down on added sugars, processed foods, and carbonated drinks. Add minimally processed foods in your diet. Try quinoa, amaranth, farro, millet in addition to brown rice and whole wheat products.

Myth#3: Cut fat for weight loss

What it is: Diet devoid of essential fats

What it is not: Healthy approach to eating

Fact: As per various studies, it has been proven that fat isn’t always the culprit when it comes to extra inches around your waistline.

It’s good to stay away from fried and processed foods as they are high in trans fat. Trans fat is found in foods cooked in partially hydrogenated oil (a type of “bad fat”). Such a diet increases your risk factor for developing cardiac disease by 12%, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

Take note of the good fats that improve health and aids in weight loss.

Good fats include: Healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA) — they help lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve good HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats include vegetable oils, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts and seeds. Monounsaturated fats include avocado, plant origin oils like canola oil, olive oil.

Add healthy nuts and seeds rich in good fats (MUFA and PUFA) to your diet to improve heart health, lower inflammation, maintain healthy skin and hair.

Tip: Keep healthy nuts and seeds in your kitchen and bag as snacks.

Myth#4: Juices aids in weight loss

Fact: Juicing is not the right way to lose weight long-term, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN. Relying on juices depletes you from protein and healthy fats required by your body for proper functioning.

Even 100% fruit juice adds more calories to your meal, along with other sweetened beverages. A 2011 Harvard study explains, sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to long-term weight gain, therefore stick to not more than one small glass of juice a day.

Juices fill you with only carbohydrates that are easily digested, making you feel hungry again. Whereas, protein and healthy fats keep you full for a longer duration and delays hunger.

People include a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks in their diet. According to a study consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is about 63% in children and 49% in adults. This forms the major source of added sugar that provides calories without nutrients.

Home-made smoothies without sugar, plain green tea, infused water are a better alternative to provide ample an amount of nutrients.

It is recommended to eat a well-balanced diet that comprises of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, along with non-sweetened beverages.

Good protein like salmon and chickpeas are great picks. Also avoid foods that add empty calories and no nutrition, such as alcohol, fizzy drinks etc.

Eat food as a whole, rather than liquid form, as it leaves you much fuller. Simple fruit juices are loaded with sugars and high in calories. One bottle of cola has 200 calories, and one cup of apple juice is around 115 calories. One can of beer has 154 calories with no significant nutrition content.

Myth#5: Dieting is a good way to lose weight

What it is: Modest to severe food restriction

What it is not: Magic pill to lose weight

Fact: Focus on what works — healthy eating behavior to maintain a healthy weight.

Why dieting doesn’t work? It is an outdated and ineffective approach to weight loss. If you want to be healthy, you need to get of this relic and find a new approach! Dieting posses little significance today, as calorie restriction leads to undernourishment and calorie-dense but nutrient deficient food leads to malnourishment.

Don’t neglect colors in your diet: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients to provide you with vitamin A, B, K and minerals such as fiber, iron, carotenoids, and anti-oxidants, says clinical dietician Beth Morris.

Time is the key: It’s good to change your eating pattern rather foods. A study says to eat within a 12-hour window to let your body perform repair and regenerative activities at night. This process works within the biological clock of 24 hours.

For example, if you eat breakfast at 8:00am, then eat your dinner before 8:00pm. This helps your body overcome inflammation and disease.

My advice: Cook your meals more often at home. This will help you develop a healthy relationship with your food. You’ll enjoy the taste, flavors, aroma of your meal more than counting each calorie!

Part 2 Next Week!

Reprinted with permission from Akanksha Srivastava. Originally printed on healthrewardz.com.


Akanksha Srivastava is a Nutritionist, content writer & a food blogger. She is a life member of the Nutrition Society of India (LM No. LM-2018-0284). Her blog, healthrewardz.com, is not just a hub of information which imparts views on health & nutrition related topics backed with scientific research papers, but a journey where everyone associated is a part of an endeavor through educative article beyond health. With a significant focus on the holistic approach to health and well-being, her blog successfully forays into empowering people with healthy eating behavior.

References

  • (1) https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-low-gluten-high-fiber-diet-healthier-gluten-free.html
  • (2) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07019-x
  • https://www.amydgorin.com/
  • https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h3978
  • https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html
  • http://phs.bwh.harvard.edu/phs2.htm
  • https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Sites/Longwood_Seminars/Nutrition_3_5_13.pdf