Thursday, April 14, 2016

Proper Weight Loss Practices

Hi Everyone,

I skipped posting in March, so it feels good to get back to spreading the word about my favorite topic - wellness.  Today I thought I'd share some information about how to, and how not to, try to lose weight.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but as I have said many times before, the amount and quality of the calories you bring in are more important in the weight loss equation than the amount of calories you burn through working out.  Weight loss is 80% about food, and 20% about exercise. 

Some people get desperate to loose weight quickly, perhaps because they are just fed up, and want immediate results. Because of that, they don't go about losing weight the right way, and are disappointed with the results, or lack thereof. 

Here are some things to consider when trying to lose weight:
  • Be sure that about 25% of your diet includes fats.  When you take in less than that, your body stops burning fat, and starts storing it instead.  Try 'Googling' which fats are good for you.

  • Take in around 1200-1500 calories a day for weight loss.  Any amount less than that and your body will respond by slowing down your metabolism.  I found a link that will help you calculate how many calories you need to take in daily, for your gender, age, exercise level, and desired loss.  It even gives you a completion date, if you stick with that number:

  • Write down everything you eat. From there, you can easily look up the nutrition details, such as calories, and grams of protein, (the two numbers I think are most important) online.  There are programs that you can use to keep track of everything easily.   I am a firm believer in Weight Watchers International for many reasons, one of which is the application they have for calculating food intake.  If you aren't into their smart points, you could follow their simply filling plan, where you don't even have to count points.  I love the support you can receive from other members too, both online, and at the meetings.

  • When you have a snack, make it about 60% complex carbohydrates, and 40% protein.  The carbs will be stored in the muscles as glycogen, and the protein will take the body longer to digest.  A good example would be some deli meat and a piece of fruit. Complex carbs are found in dairy products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

  • If you don't get enough sleep, it will mess with your metabolism.  Plus, sleeping in a cooler room can help trigger the burning of brown fat, especially if the thermostat is down to 66 degrees, according to one study.  Sleep deprivation can make your body age faster, too.  With less sleep there is a greater chance of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and memory loss! 

  • Cut out white bread as much as possible.  It is almost as bad as pure sugar because it digests quickly and will raise your level of blood sugar, thus releasing more insulin into the bloodstream, and transporting the sugar to fat cells for storage.  While you're at it, eat fruit rather than drinking fruit juices, for the same reason.

  • Have water with you at all times.  Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water, by then you're dehydrated.  Remember, water is what transports nutrients and helps with muscle function. Make water and milk your drinks of choice, and forget about diet sodas, energy drinks and alcohol.  Alcohol has empty calories and no nutritional value. Plus, when your body is metabolizing the alcohol, trying to excrete its toxins, your body can't metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently, making it harder to maintain a healthy level of blood sugar.

  • Some people eat either too much or too little protein.  Multiply your desired weight by .36 to calculate how many grams of protein you need daily.  Also, try not to take in too much protein at one time.  The body can only handle about 30 grams at a time, and the extra will be stored as fat.

  • Don't forget to have three or more servings of dairy a day.  It contains whey and casein.  The whey boosts protein synthesis, and the casein stops protein breakdown and maintains your lean muscle mass.  Whey powder is great in smoothies.

  • Choose regular salt over sea salt.  You need the iodized salt, because it helps in the production of thyroid hormones, which in turn helps your metabolism.

  • Try eating the real thing, instead of fat-free or sugar-free substitutes.  You might be lured into thinking you can eat more calories overall if you do that.  Also, this is a lifestyle change.  You should be able to have your favorite treats when you want them, just in smaller portions, and not when you're already full.

  • Eat five servings of vegetables a day.  There are so many nutrients, plus fiber, in vegetables.  Shoot for a variety of colors in all your foods, too, so that you'll get a variety of nutrients.

  • This last bit of information includes exercise.  That's because people think they can spot reduce.  Sorry.  If you have a large tummy, the only way you can change that is by getting rid of the layer of fat on top of the muscle.  That is accomplished by eating better, (of course), along with a regular exercise program that includes high intensity intervals.  An example would be to alternate walking briskly for five minutes, then very briskly for one minute, repeating that sequence for about 45 minutes total.  Some people just do hundreds of crunches a day.  That would make the tummy stick out more, because you're increasing the size of the muscle that is underneath the fat.
Whew.  Sorry that was so long-winded.  I hope you were able to learn at least one thing that can help you gain a healthier lifestyle.  I know I learned a few things through researching this important topic.  Have a wonderful spring.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Why Lift Weights?

Hi Everyone.  I have been fortunate to have found a personal trainer who has helped me in so many ways.  I initially wanted help with strengthening the muscles around my hip, since it had gone through 4 surgeries.  Well, I got more than I bargained for, and I would like to share my new-found wisdom about, and enthusiasm for, strength training.  I will go over its benefits, what happens to the muscles during the process, and then finish with why it would be worthwhile to hire a professional when you begin a strength training program.

·   Strengthen connective tissue, muscles, and tendons.
·   Improve flexibility.
·   Improve quality of sleep.
·   Lower the risk of diabetes. It can also lower blood     glucose levels.
·   Increase your level of endorphins, the brain’s natural opiate, so that you feel great.
·   Maintain weight.  Studies have shown that regular weight training can boost your metabolism by 15%.  Your body has to work harder to maintain muscle vs. maintaining fat.
·   Lesson and slow down the effects of sarcopenia, the loss of body mass that comes with aging.
·   Improve bone density and lessons the risk of bone fractures. (Falls are the #1 cause of injury-related deaths in adults over 65 years of age.)
·   Relieve the pain of arthritis.  Some doctors feel it can be as effective as taking medication for pain.
·   Lower blood pressure, by improving blood flow, even after a workout.
·   Decrease belly fat.
·   Lead to a greater number of vitamin D receptors in the muscles, in comparison with just cardio workouts. This, in turn, will help improve the size and function of the muscles.
·  Strengthen your core, and therefore help alleviate lower back pain, and improve posture.
·  You attain a firmer, stronger, and more sculpted body, (more muscle tone), than if you only do cardio workouts.
·   Prevent premature death, according to one UCLA study.
·   Fight depression, by improving mood and self-esteem.
·   Improve quality of life, and enable you to more easily perform daily activities.
·   Lesson knee pain by building up the muscles around the joint.
·   Improve balance because you are working the smaller stabilizer muscles around the joints.
·   Lower your overall percentage of body fat.

·  During a workout, a large number of microscopic tears occur in the muscle fibers.  These fibers require at least 48 hours of rest, so they can rebuild, which is why you should never work the same muscle groups two days in a row.  Fueling the muscle fibers with the appropriate nutrients after a workout is as important as providing the rest period.  So, for proper growth and healing, it is important to have a meal of protein, carbohydrates, and fat as soon as possible after a training session.

Hiring a trainer can be expensive, probably averaging $50/hour, but it’s a wise investment, even if it’s only for a month, for the following reasons:
·   A knowledgeable trainer can help you prevent injury caused by improper form, load, etc.
·   Someone who has been properly trained in the science of strength training, and the anatomy and physiology of the body can help you learn the fundamental principles of weight training.  He or she should start you out slowly, and be aware of your body’s idiosyncrasies, from previous injuries, to areas of weakness, etc.
·  With a trainer, you can learn about how much weight to lift, how many repetitions are necessary, how much rest is needed between sets, plus how and when to increase the load.
·   A good trainer should ask you about your personal fitness goals, and try to help you achieve them.
·  A good trainer should come with a list of positive references.
·  You should not feel pressure to ‘buy in’ to a large amount of sessions in the beginning.  Try working with someone for a few weeks, and consider changing to another trainer if you don’t feel a connection.

Here’s a take-away fact:  After puberty we begin to lose about 1% of our bone and muscle strength per year.  But, we can try to confront this fact by being proactive about our health.  There are too many physical and mental benefits to be gained from strength training to leave it out of a personal fitness program.  I hope you have found this information has given you food for thought.  Speaking of food, your food intake is what will mostly be responsible for weight loss/gain, but please don’t ignore all of the added benefits of exercise.

PS  If you’re near the Salem area, I highly recommend my trainer, Steve Suppes,  503-851-0433.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

It's All About Baby Steps

Baby footprints icon. Child feet sign.
Hi Everyone,

Did you notice that I didn’t write a blog post about New Year’s Resolutions this year?  I chose not to because I realized that not everyone is as eager as I am about making goals. As much as I want to motivate others to move more, and eat a healthy diet, we all know that a person has to WANT to make changes.  Motivation must come from within, and on a person’s own time schedule.

Hence, the title to this post – It’s All About Baby Steps.  My sister told me recently about a wellness journey her friend was taking.  This gal, (around my age), had suffered a stroke.  Since that time, she’d made significant changes to her diet and exercise habits.  One day she decided she’d like to check out the local gym.  Her first step was simply to drive to the gym and sit in her car, in the parking lot. That action alone was her first baby step in moving towards her goal. This was a big reality check for me.  What might seem like a baby step to me, (going to the local gym, and asking about membership), might be the culmination of several baby steps for someone else, someone who is coming from their own frame of mind, their own set of experiences.

So, can I still try to motivate others, even though we think so very differently?  I hope so. I’m going to list some of the benefits of regular exercise below, and if you are only at the thinking stage, that’s OK, maybe it will spark something in your thought process. I gleaned this information from a Mayo Clinic article:

Being active can:
  • Stimulate brain chemicals that could leave you feeling more relaxed and happier.
  • Help boost confidence and self-esteem, and prevent depression.
  • Help maintain weight loss.
  • Help prevent high blood pressure.
  • Increase your level of the "good" cholesterol, (the HDLs).
  • Decrease your level of unhealthy triglycerides.
  • Help prevent stroke.
  • Help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
  • Help prevent or manage certain types of cancer.
  • Help prevent or manage arthritis.
  • Help prevent falls.
  • Help prevent or manage metabolic syndrome.
  • Improve muscle strength.
  • Boost your endurance.
  • Deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
  • Give you more energy to go about your day.
  • Help you fall asleep faster, and deepen your sleep. (But not if you exercise just before bed.)
  • Have a positive effect on your sex life.  Women can have enhanced arousal.  Men are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who do not exercise.
  • Bring on a natural high, especially when you exercise outside.
  • Help you connect with family or friends, if you exercise with others.
And I didn't even go into the benefits of eating a healthy diet! There's always something we can do to move more towards the positive side of the Wellness Continuum.  I hope this finds you happily working on self-improvement.  I shall close for now, so I can go work out!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

This and That, Holiday Edition

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is going well(ness) for you and yours during this hectic but fun time.  I wanted to get the December post out now, before too many of the festivities begin, in case you wanted to try to make it through everything with little to no weight gain, yet still have fun. So, here are some tips to help steer you towards more mindful eating at the holiday festivities.  I'm sure you've heard of all or most of them before, but a little review might be helpful:

*First of all, just tell yourself that you will be more mindful of your choices.  That's not to say that you shouldn't enjoy yourself and try a taste of everything.  If you want something, you should not deny yourself, because it will most likely come back and haunt you during a moment of weakness later, when you feel deprived of all the fun.  So, have a taste of anything and everything, just be mindful, and not overdo, unless you want to.  Remember my mother's saying:  The first bite of something is always the best part.

*Bring a tasty, attractive, healthy dish.  Here are some suggestions: Roasted vegetables, fruit kabobs, shrimp that you dip into cocktail sauce, deviled eggs made with light mayo, an assortment of nuts (still in the shell), vegetables and hummus, baked chips, a bowl of lowfat popcorn, tuna (mixed with lowfat mayo) and crackers, grilled tropical fruit to dip into Greek yogurt**, a large beautiful yogurt parfait layered with fresh fruit and lowfat granola or crumpled graham crackers.

*Eat a light and healthy snack before you go, so that you are not famished when you get there.

*Make a smart beverage choice, water being the best one, of course, but no need to deprive yourself of alcohol or some other festive beverage.  Consider alternating your beverage choice with a glass of water.  One wine, one water, and so on.  Something that has always helped me is to bring my own wine - those small one serving bottles.  That will keep you from pouring a glass of wine that is really the equivalent of two glasses.

*Peruse the entire buffet table before taking a plate and serving yourself.  Decide what you want to try, and what you can really do without.  Weight Watchers International always suggests that you ask yourself this question before selecting an item, "Is it worth it?" If you have to ask that question, then perhaps these would be the items you would take only a taste of, instead of an entire serving.

*Choose a seat far away from the buffet table.  Concentrate on having engaging conversations vs. concentrating on the food.

*Consider wearing something more fitted, rather than looser-fitting clothing.  That might be a reminder that you don't want to gorge and be uncomfortable.

*Exercising before and after an event helps, of course, but remember that the caloric intake is much more important when trying to lose or maintain weight.  If you do exercise, try an interval workout, and rev up that metabolism.  Here's a simple one I like to do:  Stationary bike, 30 seconds at a normal pace, followed by thirty seconds of pedaling as hard as I can.  Do this for 30 minutes. No need to add a lot of resistance.

*And, if you don't wish to put limits on yourself, or think about it too much, give yourself permission to have whatever you'd like. But, promise yourself that you'll get back to a healthy lifestyle at the very next meal.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  

Take good care,


**You can make chocolate yogurt by mixing a 6 oz. serving of plain Greek yogurt with 2 tsp. raw honey and 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Healthy Holidays!

Hello to everyone, and to the holiday season!  Oh yeah, hello to the wind and rain, too. Ish. 

On a brighter note, here are some thoughts to help with the season.

If you'll be dining out more than usual:
*Red Robin has a petite burger that you can ask for. Maybe other places have that choice too, or the choice of an “unwich”, a burger with a lettuce leaf bun.

*Ask your server to bring just ½ the amount of fries.

*Order first, so you won't be tempted by what others order.

*Ask if you can order from the kids’ menu.

*If you’re hoping to have some dessert, ask someone to split a sandwich with you.

*Order a side of steamed vegetables with your meal, for added fiber, health, and fullness.

*If you do have a larger than usual meal, try to get back on track at the very next meal.

Other ideas for coping with some of the stresses of the season:

*Have fun with exercise by setting up a rule during a favorite TV  show.  For example, every time a certain actor sits, you have to do 20 sit-ups.  Or, every time a certain athlete makes (or misses?) a basket, you have to do 10 pushups. I met one gal whose family plays empty kleenex box football on the commercials.

*Find a motivating quote or photo and use it as a screen saver.

*If you’re hosting, and  you don’t wish to keep certain leftovers around the house, purchase containers at the $1 store, so you're ready to send items home with people.

*Instead of purchasing fund raising treats, offer to give a donation instead.

*Maybe now is the time to request that stand-up computer station at work, or at home.  Here's a link to one I found on Amazon for a little over $57: You'll need a mat to stand on, too.  Here's one for a little under $14: .

*Consider purchasing gifts that help get people moving, or socializing more.

*Rather than treating yourself or someone else with food, consider something else that will bring a smile – flowers? A magazine? A massage?

Here are some thought-provoking quotes for those of us who struggle with self-control, perhaps especially during the holidays:

"I am my problem, but also my solution."

"You'll never get what you truly deserve if you remain attached to what you're supposed to let go of."

And, for those of us who need to forgive:

"Grace happens when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back."

Have a wonderful and positive holiday season. "Life is about giving.  When you take your eyes off yourself, life is a lot better." - Kelly Boyd




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Are You Proactive About Your Health and Wellness?

Hello Everyone.  Have you been enjoying the delights of autumn?  I hope so.  My topic this month might sound preachy, but my posts are as much for me as they are for others.  I could stand to be more proactive at times. Wellness is a continuum, and something to constantly work on.

Let me list the various areas of wellness, and what I think proactive behavior would look like in each area.  I’ll make it a survey, so we can score points and see how we're doing.

Here is the point system for answers:

I never do that – 0 points
I do that sometimes – 1 point
I do that all of the time – 2 points

If interested, get out a piece of paper, and number it from 1-25.  Here we go!

Personal Maturity:
*_____1. If I find myself talking negatively to myself, I stop and rephrase, making the statement more positive.

*_____2. When I want to improve in some area of my personality, (such as trying to gossip less, or trying to not stretch the truth), I make a conscious effort to keep myself in check.

*_____3. I am optimistic about myself and life in general.

*_____4. I try to develop good habits and get rid of bad habits.

*_____5. I accept compliments that I am given, and also take the opportunity to give others sincere compliments.

Emotional Maturity:

*_____6. I make sure to discuss things that concern me, either with a friend, a professional, or by writing in a journal.

*_____7. I try not to worry or perseverate about things, telling myself it doesn't do much good anyway- tomorrow is a new day.

*_____8. I have a hobby or activity in my life that I am passionate about.

*_____9. I keep my temper under control.

Physical Maturity:

*_____10. If I have a prescription, I make sure I never let it run out, before ordering a refill.

*_____11. If I say I want to work out more, then I make sure it happens.

*_____12. I exercise moderation in my eating habits, making sure I have a healthy diet 90% of the time.

*_____13. I follow seat belt, helmet, and life jacket, and driving rules. 

*_____14. I am proactive about trying to get enough sleep every night.

*_____15. I use alcohol in moderation.

*_____16. I seek medical treatment as soon as I notice that something isn't quite right.

*_____17. I wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, on exposed areas, daily.

*_____18. I keep up with all of the 'tests' that are suggested for someone my age. (Examples:  colonoscopy, pap smear, prostate check, blood tests, skin checks, etc.)

Social and Ethical Maturity:

*_____19. I keep in touch with those I love on a regular basis.

*_____20. If I have a problem with a family member or friend, I try to resolve that problem.

*_____21. I do not judge people by their looks, or their status in life.

*_____22. I look for opportunities to help those less fortunate than myself.

*_____23. I look people in the eye and smile frequently.

Intellectual Maturity:

*_____24. I try to read regularly, or work on other activities that stimulate my brain.

*_____25. I look for opportunities to use my creativity.

Here's what your score might mean:

Total of 45-50 points = "Ms. or Mr. Proactive!!!"
Total of 40-44 points = You might need to pay a little more attention to your health.
Total of 35-39 points = Maybe you need a push in the right direction.
Less than 35 points = Put 911 on speed dial.  You might need it.

Have you ever noticed that the word HEAL is in the word HEALTH?  Enough said.  I hope you found the survey worth your time.

Take good care,


Thursday, September 24, 2015

More of This and That

Hi Everyone,

Happy Fall! I wonder if you are enjoying the simple pleasures that come with fall - the freshness in the air; and the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that you haven't experienced for awhile.  Does it put an extra bounce in your step?  It sure give me a lift, and puts a smile on my face.  I especially love taking bike rides this time of year.

Here are some random quotes and/or pieces of information that I would like to share with you this month:

*A pretty sobering thought about drinking, (or taking drugs): It's the only thing that you don't get better at the more you do it.

*Never use money to measure wealth.

*Don't fear moving slowly forward.  Fear standing still.

*Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.

*When most adults eat out compared to eating at home, they consume about 200 more calories.  Just think, if you did that three times a week, that's 600 extra calories. After 52 weeks, (one year), that's 31,200 extra calories, which translates to a gain of almost nine pounds. One way to keep calories more in check is to only go 'off' your regular diet (whether at home, or at a restaurant) when it's your birthday, anniversary, or some other special occasion.

*Next time you reach for that fancy espresso drink, or some other sweet drink, like a soda, remember this:  It only takes two sugar-sweetened beverages per week to raise your risk of suffering a stroke by 19%, as opposed to drinking almost none.

*Next time you're boiling pasta, consider tossing some fresh vegetables into the very same pot.  Not only does that make your dinner healthier, you have one less dish to wash!

* Remember this number - 135.  As a suggestion by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, that's the minimum number of minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise recommended to reap the anti-depressant effects of physical activity. That's only a little less that 34 minutes of activity four times a week.  Sounds doable!

All for now.  Have a fun October.  Will you dress up for Halloween?  Time for me to consider this year's costume!