Looking to Shed Those Unwanted Pounds?

A lot of people think by adding resistance training to their exercise program it will cause them to “bulk up.” Think about this, people don’t just wake up being a bodybuilder by doing maintenance resistance training. Becoming a bodybuilder and building a significant amount of muscle mass takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication.

If one of your goals is weight loss, maybe you need to reassess your current exercise regimen. Are you doing cardio most days of the week but you’re not noticing any changes with your weight? How much time are you spending doing resistance training?

Do you know what the beauty of resistance training is? The more muscle you add, the more calories you’ll burn at rest! A regular resistance training program will help increase your lean body mass and burn calories more efficiently. This will help result in a healthy weight loss! The current recommendations are 2-4 days per week. Now remember, muscle does weigh more than fat, but that doesn’t mean you won’t reach your goals. I suggest that you put away the scale and focus on improving your program to meet the recommendations.  Then, focus on how your clothes are fitting versus getting hung up on a number shown on the scale.

What are the benefits of resistance training?

  • Weight loss/management
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis /improves bone health
  • Decreases the risk of injury
  • Preserves muscle mass
    • Unfortunately, the aging process causes us to start losing muscle mass at a young age. It’s very important to use those muscles so you don’t lose them!
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Improves sense of well-being
  • Improves performance of everyday tasks

This time of year gets very busy with shopping and social events, not to mention the cold. Try this body-weight program (meaning you do not need any equipment) at home; it should only take 10-15 minutes! Everyone can find 10 minutes out of their day to make a healthy change!

Winter Workout

  • Alternating lunges: 15-20 reps
  • Push-ups (regular, modified or a wall push-up): 10 reps
  • Squats (regular, partial or wall slide): 10 reps
  • Mountain Climbers: 30-60 seconds
  • Tricep dips: 10 reps
  • Step ups (using a bench or a stair): 15-20 reps
  • Hip Bridge (regular or single-leg): 10 reps
  • Calf Raises: 15-20 reps
  • Plank (regular or modified): 15-45 seconds
  • Flutter kicks: 30-60 seconds
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Is a Standing Desk a Good Option For You?

Do you have a desk job? Studies have found a strong connection between prolonged sitting and an increase in cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and musculoskeletal pain (neck, back, etc.). Studies have also found that a standing desk can significantly boost cognitive skills (memory, concentration and problem solving).

This problem should have an easy solution, right? Why not invest in a standing desk?

During a fitness consult with a patient I always ask the following questions…

  • What does your typical day look like? Is it more sedentary or more active?
  • How long is your commute?
  • How many hours do you spend sitting at your desk?
  • Do you sit in meetings all day long?
  • How do you spend your lunch break?
  • How many steps are you averaging each day?
  • How are your energy levels in the afternoon?

Most people I have spoken to tend to sit at their desks for the majority of the day. Most people also don’t take a break during lunch time. It can be very harmful to your health when you are seated for several hours of your day. Not to mention the common feeling of begin lethargic by 3pm.  A standing desk may be your solution!

Easier said than done of course! If you are thinking, “There are so many options out there. Where do I start?” That’s very common! Check out this recent review from Reviews.com. In this review they compare different brands of standing desks and provide you with a lot of great information to help you choose the one that’s best for you. They also discuss the proper ergonomics to ensure you will use your desk in a safe way to avoid neck and back pain. Read Article Here!

If you are unable to buy a desk at this time be sure you are getting up out of your chair often throughout the day. It is very common to lose track of time and realize you have been seated for 2-3 hours. Try setting an alarm for every hour as a reminder to get up and move for at least 5 minutes!  Standing regularly helps prevent obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.

Don’t forget, 10,000 steps per day is the goal!

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Turkey Day Tabata Workout

Jump start your metabolism this Thanksgiving with a quick and efficient Tabata workout! Tabata is an interval-style workout that involves 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest (as you get ready for the next exercise). Using a timer, there is no need to count repetitions, allowing for a greater focus on intensity and form.

Use a 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off approach and rotate through each exercise 3-5 times for a 6-10 minute workout. Add or subtract rounds as desired to adjust for workout duration.

  1. Air Squats
  2. Pushups
  3. Jumping Split Squats
  4. Mountain Climbers

Now you’ll have time to workout AND prepare your Thanksgiving feast, all while reaping the benefits of the metabolic boost that Tabata provides… just in case you go back for that second helping! 😉

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Healthy Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season makes it so difficult to stay focused on your health goals. Having constant obligations makes it very tricky to stay on track with the added calories and lack of activity. Not to mention the cold, who wants to go outside and walk when it’s less than 40 degrees? However, there are so many ways to help you overcome the cold and reduce your stress over this holiday season!

Here are a few helpful tips to keep you on track with your diet and exercise during this time of year.

  • Choose healthy food options
    1. Winter is a great time to utilize your crockpot. If you have a lot of shopping to do after work, have the crockpot going so you have a healthy meal ready for you when you get home. This will help you avoid grabbing an unhealthy meal while you are out.
    2. Watch your portion sizes. Focus on eating protein and veggies when at special occasions. Especially at holiday parties when people keep asking you to try what they’ve made, try not to overdo it!
    3. Skip the sugar as often as possible. This time of year is known for the cookies and other delicious baked goods. Sometimes a goal will help here, “I will only have a dessert twice this week.” This will be more of a reward versus a habit.
    4. Try the 80/20 rule. If you focus on eating a healthy breakfast and lunch throughout the week, this will give you a little bit of wiggle room when dinnertime comes.
    5. Skip the sugary drinks. Focus on drinking water with fresh squeezed lemon or other fresh fruit-infused water recipes.
    6. Have a glass of water in between cocktails at parties. This will help you stay hydrated and will help you avoid endless snacking.
    7. Avoid having sweets and other unhealthy foods in your house. If it’s there, you’ll eat it!
  • Stay active as much as possible
    • Exercise is the best medicine. It is essential to exercise regularly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are many ways to keep active in the winter. It’s important to keep your kids active too! There are plenty of winter sports, trampoline parks and other places make exercise a fun thing to do this winter. Other tips include the following…
      1. If you are a night exerciser, bring your gym bag with you in the morning and head straight to the gym after work. With the sun setting at 4:30pm these days, it makes it difficult to get motivated-don’t go home in between work and the gym!
      2. Do a home workout! There are plenty of ways to exercise right in the convenience of your own home.
      3. Track your steps and aim for 10,000 per day! Movement throughout the day goes a long way!
      4. Online shopping makes our lives a lot easier, but don’t forget “sitting is the new smoking.” Increase your activity by physically going to the store.
      5. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you are working at a desk all day, try to get up at least every hour for 5 minutes.
  • Stay hydrated!
    • It’s important to increase your water intake during the winter months to avoid getting sick and to keep your skin hydrated.
      1. Start your day with an 8 ounce glass of water. You haven’t had anything to drink throughout the several hours you’ve been sleeping! We all wake up dehydrated. Water is the first thing you need in the morning before you reach for the coffee.
      2. Aim for drinking half of your body-weight in ounces. For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs. you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water that day. You may require more depending on your level of activity that day.
  • Think ahead to avoid stress!
    • We all stress this time of year because time moves quickly and all of a sudden the holidays creep up on us. Don’t procrastinate! Start making a list now of what you’ll need and start picking things up here and there. If you plan ahead you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays more because you’ll be ready and less stressed over it!

Small changes will go a long way for helping you stay on track with your health during this busy time of year. Cheers to making some healthy lifestyle changes to feel your best this holiday season!

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Holiday Helpers

We all know that this time of year is filled with family-time, celebrations and traditions that are typically centered around food. Research has shown that the average person gains about 1 pound each holiday season. That may not sound like much, but research also shows that most people never lose their added weight. So over the years, these pounds can add up.

To help you keep calories more controlled without sacrifice, PLC has compiled a sampling of some traditional holiday foods that have been tweaked to be healthier, yet still flavorful! We hope you and your family enjoy trying these this holiday season!

Potato Latkes:

Makes 24 latkes

Ingredients
4 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 egg whites, beaten
1 medium onion
4 green onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions 
In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with the onions. Wrap mixture in paper towels and squeeze out all liquid over large bowl. Potato starch will settle to bottom of the bowl. Slowly pour off and discard liquid in the bowl and reserve the potato starch.

In large bowl, combine potato mixture, egg whites, onions, salt and pepper to taste, and reserved potato starch. Coat a nonstick skillet with olive oil and cooking spray and heat skillet over medium-high heat.

With your hands, press together about 2 tablespoons of potato mixture; place in skillet and flatten with wide metal spatula. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Cook the latkes about 8 minutes, turning once, until browned on both sides.

Nutrition Facts per 2 latkes: Calories: 76; Total fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Carbohydrate: 16 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g

Tasty Green Beans (instead of Green bean Casserole)

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans
3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Dash of salt and pepper

Directions
Steam green beans to cook. Drain and toss the green beans in butter, nutmeg, and salt & pepper.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 128; Total Fat: 9 g; Cholesterol: 23 mg; Sodium: 11 mg; Carbohydrate: 12 g; Fiber: 6 g; Protein: 3 g

Collard Greens

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients
Cooking spray
4 oz. turkey ham
2 lbs collard greens washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp onion powder
A Pinch of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
Vinegar to taste

Directions
Spray a large pot with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat until hot. Add turkey ham and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the collards, broth, garlic, onion powder, pepper flakes, black pepper to taste, and vinegar to taste. Cover. Cook 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 80: Total fat: 2.5 g; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 180 mg; Carbohydrate: 6 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 7 g

Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Crumble

Serves 8

Whipped Sweet Potatoes
4 large sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups plain 0% Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Kosher salt
Cooking spray (butter flavor)

Pecan Crumble Topping
1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
2 T butter, chilled, chopped
2 T dark-brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Wash sweet potatoes, pat dry, and place in oven on bottom rack.

Prepare crumble topping by placing all ingredients in a bowl. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash ingredients together until all are well incorporated and hold together in small clusters. Reserve.

Bake potatoes for approximately 40 to 60 minutes until soft to the touch when pinched. Roasting will allow the sugar in the potato to caramelize naturally. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool before removing skins.

Place warm sweet potato flesh in a mixing bowl. Add yogurt, vanilla, and salt.

Whip using wire whip attachment on medium speed for about 1 minute. Scrape sides down and turn to high and whip for about 30 seconds until all of the yogurt is incorporated in potatoes.

Prepare glass or ceramic 2qt baking dish by covering surface with cooking spray. Scoop potato mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle crumble evenly across top of potatoes. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Place in hot oven at 350˚F for about 40 to 50 minutes to heat potatoes. The topping should be lightly browned. Remove pan from oven and serve.

Nutrition Facts per ½ cup serving: Calories: 200; Total fat: 6 g; Sat fat: 2 g; Trans fat: 0; Cholesterol: 10 mg; Sodium: 290 mg; Carbohydrate: 30 g; Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 10; Protein: 8 g

Spicy Biscotti

Makes 18

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almond meal
½ cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cardamom
1 tablespoon ginger
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed and the water, mixing well. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and spices. Mix in the almond meal.

In a medium bowl, beat together the agave nectar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until well combined. Fold in almonds. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. On a well-floured surface, shape each half into a log. Transfer the logs to your prepared baking sheet. Pat down the tops of each log so that they are flattened a little. There should be at least 3 inches between each log.

Bake the logs for 30 minutes; remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Transfer the logs one at a time to a cutting board and slice the logs into 1/4 inch slices. Transfer the slices back to the baking sheet and bake them for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Nutrition Facts per 2 biscotti: Calories: 130; Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 50 mg; Carbohydrate: 19 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 3 g

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Avoiding the Post-Turkey Burn Out!

by Marisa Creatura, MS, RD, CDN

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, everyone is preparing for the big turkey feast. And for most, following the meal comes the feeling of exhaustion. Many believe this is the result of the amino acid, tryptophan, found in turkey. This is certainly a myth, but that doesn’t change the tired feeling many experience. Some of the factors that cause you to feel ready for bed include:

  • You ate too much. This is the most common reason. The Calorie Count Council conducted a study that found a typical holiday meal can contain over 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat! This comes from a combination of alcohol, appetizers, the main feast, and desserts.
  • You had a little too much wine. Alcoholic beverages are known to have a slowing effect on the body, causing you to feel ready to jump in bed.
  • You’re dehydrated. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports the average American only drinks 4-5 cups of water per day, when 8 cups per day is recommended. Further, the body needs more fluid to digest bigger meals.
  • You didn’t sleep much the night before. You may have woken up early to put the turkey in the oven or were up late the night before, knowing you had the following day off. Either way, you’ve accumulated some sleep debt that your body is trying to pay off.
  • You’ve traveled to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast. With the holidays comes the holiday traffic, and you may be traveling a far distance to visit relatives. This concept, known as “driver fatigue,” is very common due to the constant alert state your mind is in while driving.

With so many factors contributing to your sleepy state, how can you avoid the post-turkey drowsiness? Try and follow these simple tips!

  • Watch your portion sizes. Being mindful of how much food you’ve put on your plate, and how hungry or satisfied your body is, can cut back significantly on how much you eat and how you feel after the meal. Aim for having only one plate of food. Go for smaller portions of more calorie-heavy options and load up on vegetable-based side dishes.
  • Set a limit on alcohol. Set yourself a limit of 2 alcoholic drinks for the evening, and have a glass of water in between to keep hydrated.
  • Get a full night’s rest. The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Use the day off to catch up on some sleep you’ve likely missed out on.
  • Share the driving or take breaks. This will ensure you don’t show up to the party tired and get home safely.

Resources:

Calorie Count Council

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010

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New Study Says Fat Is Good For You

Fats are good for you.  So says yet another medical study that threatens to shake up the world of nutrition and dietary guidelines.

The headlines from  PURE study, published in The Lancet, seem to suggest that there a benefit to eating a high fat diet.  But a deeper dive into the details of the study’s results may result in a bit of caution about how we interpret this latest information.

The PURE study followed 135,335 participants from 18 countries over about 7 years.  Their dietary intake was evaluated using self-reported food questionnaires.  Their diets were categorized based on the percentage of total calories provided by carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  The effects of their diets were determined on the basis of total mortality as well as major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

The authors found that high carbohydrate intake was associated with a higher overall risk of mortality.  Those participants with the highest carbohydrate intake, at about 77% of their daily calories, were 28% more likely to have died than those with the lowest carbohydrate intake at about 46% of their calories.

The opposite was true for fat intake.  Those with the top intake of dietary fat, at about 35% of their daily calories, were 23% less likely to have died than those with only about 10% of their daily calories coming from fat.  Additionally, the authors stated that higher saturated fat intake was associated with a lower risk of strokes.

So, is it time to upend dietary guidelines that recommend law fat diets as the best path to reducing cardiovascular risk?

There are some problems with the PURE study that makes interpretation of the results a bit problematic.

The study found a beneficial effect from eating more fruits, vegetables and legumes.  But the maximum benefit was seen at three to four servings per day.  Higher intake of these foods was not associated with any additional benefit.  And, the benefit was greater when these foods were eaten raw instead of cooked.

The design of the study itself also raises concerns.

The diet of the participants was determined using food questionnaires.  But these types of questionnaires are notoriously unreliable.  Besides being based on recall which can be less than accurate, the mere act of asking people to report what they eat can both influence their diet and also lead them to try to report their intake in a way that they think sounds healthier than it really is.

There is also the problem of adjusting for confounding variables.  Some experts have criticized the study design for failing to take into account that a very high carbohydrate diet is often associated with very high levels of poverty.  That may have a bigger effect on health outcomes than the diet itself.  Total mortality is also a problem in a study such as this one.  While it is an outcome that is highly objective and easy to quantify, there are so many ways that overall mortality may be affected by a plethora of dietary, lifestyle and health problems that it is difficult to ensure that the change in mortality is solely related to the dietary variables being measured.

In the United States, increasing obesity and the prevalence of highly refined sugars and processed foods is clearly leading to an epidemic of type 2 diabetes and its precursors such as Metabolic Syndrome.  There are well established physiologic mechanisms that appear to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease from the biochemical changes associated with diabetes and the years that lead up to it. So it does seem highly likely that over-emphasis on removing fat from your diet, which by default leads to a diet that is much more dependent on carbohydrates as a calorie source, can have deleterious effects on our health.

Multiple studies seem to imply that saturated fat is more harmful than unsaturated fats.  Limiting total calories from saturated fat to less than 10% of the diet continues to seem like a reasonable recommendation.  The benefits of limiting unsaturated fats is less clear.  Limiting carbohydrates, especially those based on refined sugars or high in fructose, while eating a predominantly plant-based diet with more vegetables and moderate intake of fruit also seems prudent.

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