Exercise recommendations increased for women

Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly add one more thing to your plate each day, the Journal of the American Medical Association boosts the physical activity recommendations for women. The latest study suggests that for women to be successful in maintaining normal weight and gaining fewer pounds, they need to exercise for about 60 minutes per day with moderate-intensity activity (1).

The benefits of exercise are numerous from lowering the risk of chronic disease to mood-lifting abilities, but it’s important to remember that diet plays more of a role when it comes to weight loss, whereas exercise becomes more important during the weight maintenance phase.

To put this in perspective, a McDonald’s Big Mac has 575 calories, which could take about 2 ½ hours of moderate walking to burn off! You can see where watching what you eat becomes critical for weight loss versus trying to do it solely through exercise.

Diet and exercise do go hand in hand and have an important role in overall health, but the key to both is to make gradual changes so that they become sustainable. Even little changes make a big difference, whether it’s cutting back on the amount of cream and sugar you add to your coffee each day or deliberately parking at the end of the parking lot when running errands to get in more activity.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by what guidelines you should or shouldn’t be following, make one small goal a week and continue to add to it week after week, and before you know it, you’ll be on the road to a healthier you!

1. Lee IM, Djoussé L, Sesso HD, Wang L, Buring JE. Physical activity and weight gain prevention. JAMA. 2010 Mar 24;303(12):1173-9.

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

Get motivated to move

No matter what area of the country we live in, there are always obstacles that hinder our ability to keep up with our exercise routines. Loss of motivation can stem from living in New England during the winter months with the cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours or living in the South in the middle of the summer. With New Years’ Resolutions a distant memory, but with hopes of spring soon arriving, here are some tips to reinvigorate you with your exercise goals, whether it’s walking, yoga or even using that gym membership you paid for Jan 1. The key is to make exercise enjoyable!

1) Enlist a friend: You’ll be more apt to keep a workout appointment if you know a friend is waiting for you. Even if you aren’t the most motivated individual on a particular day, having a friend can make working out in the morning, at lunch or in the evening more enjoyable if you know someone is there with you. This is a give-and-take relationship because there will definitely be days when your friend isn’t as motivated, and you’ll be his or her motivation to work out. By having a friend, you might be more prone to do something you wouldn’t typically do on your own, like signing up for a rumba or kickboxing class!

2) Switch your routine: If you tend to do the same activity day in and day out, switch your routine. This could be buying a new workout DVD, using a program On Demand, signing up for a class at the gym or doing that hot yoga class you’ve always wanted to try. If you live in colder climates, use the winter months as an excuse to downhill or cross-country ski, snow shoe or ice skate with the kids. For those in warmer climates, use this a great time to start walking, jogging or even swimming.

3) Buy some new gear: Not many people enjoy spending money on workout gear they are just going to sweat in, but buying new gear will make you more likely to use it in addition to making you feel better about yourself while you’re working out.

4) Make exercise non-negotiable: Just like you have to get up for work each day even when you may not want to, think about your workouts in the same way. By blocking out a chunk of time in your calendar each day or setting the alarm a half hour earlier, you’ll be less likely to have the excuses pile up as the day goes on. Once you get into the habit of working out regularly, you’ll not only feel better about yourself, but you’ll be more likely to make sure this is one part of your day you don’t let slip away.

5) Sleep in your gym clothes: In colder climates, the winter months make it hard to get up, especially if it is dark out first thing in the morning. What’s worse and less motivating is changing out of your warm clothes into cold ones. Sleeping in your clothes is one solution to this problem because once the alarm goes off, you can get up and go straight to the gym without having to deal with both the dark and cold. If you have a gym membership, you’ll be excited to see how many other people decided to get up early just like you.

6) Bring your workout gear with you: Sometimes it’s more difficult to get out of the house at night after a long day at work. Each morning pack a snack and your gym bag. Instead of going straight home from work, change at the office, have your snack in the car and you’ll have the motivation to work out after work. Being hungry and not having your stuff with you are two reasons you’ll be less likely to go back out once you get home.

7) Social Networking Sites: Use Internet social networking Web sites to get you motivated. There are numerous places online where you can join fitness groups that will get you motivated. Don’t want to work out in front of other people? No problem! You can connect with other people who feel the same way and who will give you tips for staying active even if you are embarrassed to work out with others. Connect with friends on Facebook or in the area to see if they would be willing to meet for a walk or planned activity. This is a great way to reconnect in addition to accomplishing your goals!

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

Examining sloth and gluttony at the genetic level

The common refrain for treating obesity is simply “eat less and exercise more”. With obesity rates increasing, how is it possible that so many Americans seem to be unable to follow such simple instructions? The answer may lie in our genes.

Nothing contained in this blog is intend to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

Are you ready for some football?

Next to Thanksgiving, Superbowl Sunday is the second most popular day to consume an abundance of food. Americans consume about 15,000 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn on this day. No wonder only one-third make it to the end of January sticking to their resolutions! Whether you have religiously stuck to your News Year’s goals or were waiting for Feb. 1 to start anew, the Superbowl doesn’t have to be an excuse to blow everything you’ve been working toward. Here are some tips to navigate this eating event without sabotaging your efforts.

Food

1) Bring something: If you’re not sure what type of foods will be at the party, bring something you know you can eat, whether it’s veggies and a low-calorie dip, guacamole, chicken chili (recipe below) or your favorite Zone-friendly dessert.

2) Don’t go hungry: Some people try to avoid eating breakfast and lunch in an effort to bank their calories when they know they are going to a party. This usually doesn’t work because you may override your hunger signals and end up eating way too much. Instead, eat a lighter breakfast and lunch and have a small snack with a little protein prior to leaving (one-half a piece of fruit and string cheese). This will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and give you more will power to avoid tempting foods you might have otherwise over-indulged on.

3) Fill up on volume: Since you may be at the party for four to six hours, space out what you are going to have. I find that the best stuff tends to appear on the table around half-time so try not to fill up too quickly. If you didn’t have a chance to bring something like veggies and dip or a healthier option to complement the guacamole, don’t worry. Grab a small plate of one or two things so at least you can be mindful of what you are eating rather than eating while standing or continuing to go back and forth to a dish without thinking about it.

4) Pick your favorites: How many times have you been at a party and finished an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre that you didn’t even like. Instead of grabbing a little bit of everything, try to pick a smaller portion of the top two or three things you would like to have and stick with it. Look for things that have protein as they’ll have more sticking power instead of making you go back for more. People tend to consume more foods when they take a little of everything versus having a select few.

5) Don’t beat yourself up: If you find that you didn’t do as well as you could have, don’t beat yourself up. Congratulate yourself on what you did right, whether it was bringing something with you, not showing up hungry or filling up on lower-calorie alternatives first. Remember, tomorrow is a new day and just start fresh at your next meal.

Alcoholic Beverages

1) Switch from regular beer to light beer.

2) Have a glass of water or a calorie-free beverage in between every alcoholic beverage to reduce your alcohol intake.

3) Try to avoid mixed drinks, but if it’s your pleasure, have diet coke instead of regular coke, use club soda, seltzer water or diet tonic in place of regular tonic water and try substituting four fluid ounces of tomato juice or 100 percent juice in place of syrup. Be careful because mixed drinks can easily be 200-400 calories.

Exercise

Since this may be a day you’ll indulge a bit more than usual, try to get some pre-game energy expenditure into the mix whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a walk, or even playing your own game of touch football with your friends!

Here is one recipe sure to keep you in the Zone. Not only is it packed with protein and fiber, but it provides 25 percent of your daily value for vitamin C, calcium and iron. You can’t beat that!

Chicken Sausage Chili

Ingredients:
20 ounces (about eight) chicken sausages, spicy, smoked or regular, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed, and their juices
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
6 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese, garnish

Directions:

In a large pot, brown sausage stirring continuously for about five minutes. Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook, stirring often, until soft, about four minutes. Add beer to remove any cooked-on residue, cooking until foam subsides, about one minute.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and kidney beans to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Sprinkle each serving with grated cheese and serve hot.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 400 calories, 11 grams fat, 3.5 gram saturated fat, 80mg cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate and 29g of protein.

*To lower the sodium content further consider substituting fresh chicken or ground turkey in place of sausage and limit the salt to taste.

1) Super Bowl Sunday Partying, Eating and Consumption Statistics. Available at: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/19089/super_bowl_sunday_partying_eating_and_pg2.html?cat=19. Accessed: January 13, 2010.

Nothing contained in this blog is intend to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.