Archive for July, 2012

WHY “JUST” IS A FOUR LETTER WORD

You JUST have to lose some weight.

You JUST need to fit exercise into your life.

You JUST have to get your heart rate higher when you do cardio.

You JUST have to eat more fruits and vegetables.

You JUST need to plan meals and make time to shop so you can cook your own food instead of going out to eat so much.

You JUST have to pay attention to food labels.

You JUST have to 3 servings of  fatty fish every week.

You JUST have to increase your fiber intake.

You JUST need to drink more water throughout the day.

You JUST need to cut back on your portion sizes.

You JUST have to avoid drinking your calories.

You JUST need to try and make better choices when you go out to eat.

You JUST can’t let yourself get too hungry, which is why you need to have

healthy snacks on hand.

You JUST have to add weight training into the mix if you want to keep your bones strong and stay metabolic.

You JUST have to watch your intake of refined sugar, sodium and saturated fats.

You JUST have to watch your alcohol consumption.

Need I say more???

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INFLAMMATION—WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Recently a friend of mine’s husband had a blood test and his results came back with elevated C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation. What does inflammation mean?

Most of us know what inflammation is because we’ve experienced it. A twisted ankle, a burn, a broken bone, an ingrown toenail will all produce redness, swelling and pain.  This response is protective—it tells us that something is wrong and to “watch out”. Let’s face it—it’s not so easy to walk on a broken foot. Inflammation also initiates the immune system to begin the healing process sending white blood cells to the site to help clean up the mess. It’s actually a very good thing for an acute injury. It helps to heal us!

Inflammation turns into something negative when you have a chronic problem. Let’s say, for example, that your diet is high in saturated fat. This will lead to high LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) being deposited in your arteries. The body senses that there is a problem and tries to fix it by kicking off the immune response. Again, white blood cells rush in to attempt to clean up the mess and in the process damage the artery walls. This is an example of inflammation. Unfortunately, all of this is going on inside of us and  unlike acute inflammation, we don’t get that “watch out” sign.

Chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and the development of cancer.

Diet plays a huge role in reducing inflammation. High fiber foods, such as whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts help reduce inflammation as well as fish, unsaturated fats, poultry and moderate amounts of low-fat dairy. Foods to avoid: saturated fats like butter and red meat, sugar,  and “white foods” such as pasta and white rice.

So now you know a little bit more about inflammation. Not so confusing, right?

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ASIAN BEEF KEBABS

Asian Beef Kebabs (serves 4)

ingredients

1 1/2 lb sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and sliced crosswise into ¼-inch-thick strips

8 scallions, trimmed and sliced

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 T honey

2 t sesame oil

½ t garlic powder

¼ t ground ginger

sesame seeds

directions

Place a few scallions on each steak strip and tightly roll. Divide rolls into 4 and pierce them onto 4 skewers.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic powder and ginger. Remove 3 tablespoons of the soy mixture and brush on the beef and scallions. Reserve the remaining sauce to use as a dip after cooking.

Coat an outdoor grill with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Grill the skewers for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the steak and grill 2 more minutes, turning frequently until the meat is cooked through and the seeds are golden brown.

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THE ULTIMATE CLEANSE

My ears perk up anytime I hear someone talking about seeing a nutritionist. I’m so interested in other professionals’ take on how they approach nutrition, manage chronic diseases and tackle weight loss. However, it seems that 9 times out of 10, nutritionists recommended some type of “cleanse” to kick off the whole process. I’m always left wondering WHY?

Thankfully, I have a nutritionist colleague and friend, Diane, who feels exactly the way I do about this. Diane knows what she’s talking about—she’s not only extremely bright, but she recently received her Masters Degree in Nutrition from Columbia University. We both feel that these cleanses are a bunch of BS. While they DO promote weight loss, losing weight rapidly is not ideal because you are losing mostly water and some muscle. (As a personal trainer this KILLS me–I want to BUILD muscle not get rid of it.) Who wants that? We want fat loss, which happens gradually. And yet people still love cleanses. It must be the instant “results”.

You can “cleanse” by eliminating junk food, fried foods, red meat, full-fat dairy, baked goods and start a regime of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. That’s right—by eating healthy FOOD! You don’t need potions, powders or special drinks. And you especially don’t need a major caloric restriction.

I’m writing about this because I just had a colonoscopy, which as many of you know, involves a MAJOR CLEAN OUT. I can tell you that after I did this, I never felt worse, only adding to my belief that cleanses are a bunch of crap. No pun intended.

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THE ONLY DOWNSIDE OF EXERCISE

Study after study show how valuable exercise is in so many ways. Of course the obvious is that it promotes weight loss due to caloric expenditure but exercise is shown to prevent osteoporosis, help cognition, improve Alzheimer’s, alleviate depression, increase metabolism, improve cardiovascular health, help control diabetes, enhance flexibility, help ease arthritis pain, and improve both  sleep and  mood. The only downside of exercise is that you have keep doing it in order to gain the benefits.

Years ago, when I lived in London, I had a consultation with a prospective client who was interested in weight training. I focused on the two key benefits of lifting weights: increasing bone density to prevent osteoporosis and increasing muscle mass leading to a higher metabolic rate. She turned to me and said, “But what happens when I stop weight training?” Unfortunately, the answer was “Progress will stop and it will all go away.”  Her response was, “Then why should I even bother starting?”

I wanted to say, “Why bother doing the laundry?” or “Why bother using toilet paper?” or “Why bother cleaning your house?” but I controlled myself. In spite of my self-control, she chose not to exercise with me.

So the real task at hand is that you must mentally prepare yourself that exercise needs to be a part of your life forever (ouch) if you want to reap all of the wonderful benefits. It’s really the only downside.

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MOO SHU BEEF LETTUCE CUPS

Moo Shu Beef Lettuce Cups

ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef

1 yellow onion thinly sliced

2 T minced ginger

2 garlic cloves minced

canola or olive oil

1 small bunch bok choy, thinly sliced

1 red pepper,  thinly sliced

8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 head iceberg or bibb lettuce, leaves separated and washed

sauce ingredients

1 T hoisin sauce

2 T low-sodium soy sauce

2 T dry white wine or sherry

1 t sesame oil

1 t sugar

2 t cornstarch

directions

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Cook the beef, onion, ginger and garlic in a bit of canola or olive oil until beef is browned and onion is soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the bok choy, pepper, and mushrooms and cook until bok choy is wilted and pepper is tender crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. When it’s almost done, add the sauce and cook until thickened and bubbly.

Spoon some of the mixture into each lettuce leaf. Roll up and enjoy.

Note: For a healthier option use ½ lb of lean ground beef and double (or triple)  the vegetables!

(This recipe came from my friend, Jill!)

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A GOOD WAY TO ENHANCE YOUR WELL-BEING

To me, well-being means being both physically and mentally sound. And when you think about it, there is a very strong mind-body connection. There is no way, for example, that someone can be physically healthy while going through an emotional trauma. (Even though we do like to kid ourselves that we’re “JUST FINE”.)  Likewise, it’s hard to be sick or have an injury without it impacting you emotionally.

I think a good way to enhance well-being is to try something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Perhaps it’s time to do something that you’ve always been meaning to do. It could be getting a new cookbook and trying new recipes, starting a new physical activity, reading a difficult book, starting a new hobby, learning to play an instrument or making more time for yourself or someone who you love.

So I am taking the plunge and trying something new: I’m going to start bike riding. I just went out and bought a road bike and will embark on this  endeavor with my husband, who is an avid bike rider and so much better than me. Trust me, I am OUT of my comfort zone. In this photo I’m smiling but I can assure you, I’m TERRIFIED! But I’m doing it. And you should try something new, too!

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