Thursday, December 23, 2010

Warming Up, Cooling Down: How a Few Extra Minutes Can Change Your Workout

Warming Up, Cooling Down: How a Few Extra Minutes
Can Change Your Workout

By Stephanie S. Saunders

It's a Thursday morning at 6 a.m. You've already hit snooze too many times, and you have a meeting at 7:30. You really want to get your morning workout in, but you don't have 55 minutes to spare. Well, if you just fast-forward through the warm-up and skip the cooldown, you can squeeze it in and still get a decent workout, right? Um, I don't think so. Skipping the warm-up and cooldown can decrease your performance level, open you up to injuries, and possibly make your recovery time longer. How so, you ask? Let's find out.

Warming Up, Cooling Down

Up, up, and away!

The purpose of a warm-up is to gradually increase your heart rate, your blood pressure, your oxygen consumption, and the elasticity and heat of the active muscles. A warm-up will also release adrenaline, increase the dilation of blood vessels, and enable oxygen in the blood to travel at a greater speed. A warm-up increases the production of synovial fluid located in the joints, reducing friction, and allowing for more efficient movement. Other advantages include an increased speed of muscle contraction, an increase in the metabolism of the muscle, and an increase in the induction of nerve impulses. And psychologically, a warm-up prepares us for the task at hand, and gets us involved in the process.

The components of a warm-up can vary depending on the activity you're going to participate in, but most warm-ups will have these important elements:

  1. TemperatureGraduated increase in heart rate and body temperature. If you were to run a 400-meter sprint, it's unlikely you would arrive at the track, pull off your sweatshirt, and suddenly explode onto the track in an attempt to finish in 40 seconds. You'd be wise to begin with a walk and increase to a slow jog, which you would maintain for 5 to 8 minutes. Slowly increasing your heart rate and body temperature in a training activity similar to exercise you're about to undertake allows your heart, muscles, and mind to adapt to the workload you have planned for it.
  2. Dynamic stretching/range of joint motion. There is a lot of controversy about the effectiveness of stretching in a warm-up. A recent study by USA Track & Field involving close to 3,000 runners theorizes that there's no difference in the risk of injury for those who stretched before running and those who didn't. When you read the actual study, however, more than half of the participants didn't follow the protocols, which mainly consisted of doing static stretches of three muscle groups, or doing nothing before running. Furthermore, those who did stretch were less likely to have reported an injury to a healthcare professional. And lastly, all this research was collected via email, so it wasn't as if they all met at the same track and were monitored for stretching and injuries.

    So is stretching helpful? Well, if it is taking your joints through a range of motion, increasing the elasticity in your muscles and connective tissues, and mimicking the biomechanical movements of your chosen activity, then heck, yes. This is considered dynamic stretching, which uses speed of movement, momentum, and active muscular effort to create a stretch. So in the case of your upcoming run, you might perform skips with high knees, walking lunges, and calf raises, focusing on the primary muscles you're about to use.
  3. IntensityGraduation to proper training intensity. After you complete your stretching routine, the final step of your warm-up is slowly increasing your intensity to your training level. The duration of this last portion of the warm-up depends on your planned activity and your current fitness level. In the case of your upcoming run, you might go back to your jog and slowly pick up the pace until you're at a run, then perhaps intersperse some sprinting intervals for a few minutes. Then you'll be ready to go for the 400!

    Goin' down . . .

    The number-one goal of the cooldown is to decrease your heart rate. Cooldown helps prevent blood pooling in the veins, which will help avoid dizziness and fainting. It also guarantees adequate circulation to the heart, brain, and muscles.

    Again, the components of the cooldown are dependent on the chosen activity. But all cooldowns should include:
  1. Heart RateDecreasing your heart rate. We've all heard the story of the college student who suddenly stopped at the conclusion of a race, and then dropped to the ground. The lesson to be learned is that your heart needs a gradual return to normal. The length of the first portion of the cooldown depends on the intensity and length of the workout. If you went for a run at 70 percent of your max for 30 minutes, you'd complete a jog for at least 5 minutes, followed by perhaps 2 more minutes of walking. If the workout was longer or more intense, a longer time is needed for your heart rate to slow down.
  2. Static stretching. Your body is at its warmest point at the conclusion of a workout, which is the ultimate opportunity to increase your overall flexibility. This is the time to hit all the major muscle groups. Static stretching is slow and constant and held at an end position for up to 30 seconds. This form of flexibility training is the most effective way to increase range of motion in a joint, and might in fact improve speed and jumping ability. In our running example, you'd stretch your calves, shins, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, external hip muscles, and back—even your neck.
  3. Body TemperatureDecreasing your body temperature. So you've finished your stretch and you immediately jump into a cold shower, or take a walk outside in your sweaty workout clothes in January. Um, no. This is a shock your muscles don't deserve. And yet this happens more often than you can imagine. I can't count the times I've watched ballet dancers finish class in New York City, then walk outside in their tights to smoke a cigarette in the snow. Slowly lowering your body temperature means just that . . . slowly. If you have to walk out of the gym, put on something warm. If you just finished P90X in your living room, spend a few minutes moving around your house before jumping into a warm shower. Slowly lowering your body temperature will allow your muscles to continue to relax, including one very important muscle: your heart.

    The warm-up and cooldown parts of your workout don't hold the glamour of a heavy bench press, a brilliant sprint, or a standing split. And yet they're vital to your overall fitness level and the health of your muscles, heart, and mind. Just a few extra minutes can do a world of good. And consider this: It's a lot easier to warm up and cool down than it is to take time off work for a trip to the doctor. So the lesson to be learned is to get your tail out of bed and do your entire workout. Don't skip the "appetizer" and "dessert" when they actually make the main course taste better—and they're calorie free!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eat More, Lose More!!

When I buy cookies, I eat just four and throw the rest away. But first I spray them with Raid so I won't dig them out of the garbage later. Be careful, though, because that Raid really doesn't taste that bad.

Janette Barber

Eat More, Lose More. (Really?)

By Justine Holberg

You work out practically every day and you're feeling good because you've lost some weight. Until a week or so passes and you can't get the scale to budge. It's like an invisible wrench has been thrown into the works. Now what?

You start second-guessing everything you're doing:

  • Maybe I'm eating too much?
  • Should I work out harder?
  • Do I have to live on parsley and hot water?

Utensils next to a Scale

So you restrategize. You slash calories and step up the intensity of your workouts. Unfortunately, after another week, you're still not losing. Now you want to give up altogether. But before you throw in the towel, ask yourself this:

Am I eating enough?

Contrary to popular belief, sometimes you have to eat more to lose weight. While that may sound counterintuitive, it often does the trick. Here's why:

  1. Couple EatingMetabolism is the key to weight loss. If you don't eat enough, or often enough, your metabolism slows to a crawl and weight loss becomes more difficult, especially when you're exercising. That's why skipping meals isn't a good idea if the goal is to shed pounds.

    Tip: Always eat breakfast to kick-start metabolism and try eating mini-meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism fired up.
  2. To keep your metabolism up, you MUST eat. Conventional wisdom dictates that when you first start dieting, the less you eat, the better. While it's true that you often should eat less, eating too little can backfire over time. As your body composition changes, your body will think it's starving, which can make it hold on to fat. (The process actually has to do with excessive release of a hormone called cortisol, but you don't need to know the details, so we'll just call it fat.) To avoid this, most experts agree that over time, you shouldn't eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day for women, 1,500 for men. If your daily diet consists of fewer calories than that, consider eating more.

    Tip: Keep a food diary to track calories.
  3. You need more calories when you work out. If you're exercising while following a low-calorie eating plan, you'll need to take into account the calories you're burning. That's because it's now easier to enter starvation mode. Let's say you're burning 400 calories and only eating 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day. This means you're really only taking in 800 to 900 calories per day before you begin to calculate how your body composition is changing. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, so as your body changes, you need to eat more to keep the weight loss coming.

    Tip: Drink an after-workout recovery drink like a (Protein Shake or even a 50/50 carbohydrate to protein drink) After a hard workout. Those clean calories are utilized quickly by your body, some people refer to them as "free calories." They aren't, but they will ensure your muscles, hence, your metabolism will recover quickly.

And remember this:

Team Beachbody®—My Meal PlannerFiguring out to what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat isn't easy. That's why people often refer to losing weight as a journey. It takes a few different paths to get there. Sometimes you have to adjust your ratio of protein, fat, and carbs to start losing again. Or adjust your calorie level, which can include eating more to lose weight.

Tip: Use one of many Nutritional apps your can load right on your phone. It can make figuring out your calories much, much easier. You can also often personalize an eating plan that will take your workouts and daily activities into consideration as well.

Finally, if you're still on the fence about needing to eat more to lose weight. You might be thinking, "How come I know some really skinny people who barely eat?"

The answer is this: You can eventually lose weight by not eating. It's called starving. Reduce calories enough and your body will start breaking down its muscle tissue, and this will result in weight loss. However, it makes your body increase its emergency hormonal responses, which also causes your body to be stressed and hang onto fat, making it.very easy to gain the weight back again.

So I hope you take this thought away with you today: The idea is to keep your metabolism revving and running. This will help you get healthy and stay strong. Eat the right amount of food to help your body continuously burn calories, and you're more likely to shed those unwanted pounds.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

10 Foods to Boost Your Health

By Amy Ludwig

You hear all too often these days about foods that are bad for you. You're not supposed to eat this. You're not supposed to eat that. And the taboos go on. Well, here's a list of 10 foods you can happily enjoy, knowing that they're more than just a pretty taste.Spoons of Spices

These healthy edibles have long been considered to support specific systems in the body, and even to help it heal. While some of these associations originated in traditional medicine, contemporary scientific studies continue to prove what your great-grandma "just knew."

  1. Blueberries. They're good even without muffins. These tiny spheres are a powerhouse of antioxidants, with among the highest levels of any fruit. Anthocynanin, the compound that makes blueberries blue, may also be the main source of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries have been associated with lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes, slowing the aging process, improving motor skills, and supporting urinary and vision health.

    Serving suggestions: Sprinkle on your morning oatmeal, or blend with lemon juice, honey, and olive oil for a fresh vinaigrette dressing.
  2. BroccoliBroccoli. Though it wasn't President Bush, Sr.'s favorite veggie, broccoli deserves a nutritional medal of honor. It's rich in vitamins A, B6, K, folic acid, and minerals such as calcium and potassium. Moreover, it packs potent cancer-fighting compounds that help detoxify carcinogens in the body, and may help prevent healthy cells from morphing into cancerous ones. If you like broccoli, meet its cruciferous cousins—cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens—which provide similar benefits.

    Serving suggestions: Cut into bite-size pieces, steam, and enjoy with a splash of soy sauce or sesame oil. Stir-fry with lean protein for a healthy dinner, or by itself for use in a salad.
  3. Salmon. High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, yet low in calories and saturated fat, salmon is worth swimming upstream for. In addition to the great cardiovascular support salmon offers, research has shown it may have a role in diabetes and Alzheimer's prevention, as well as impressive anti-inflammatory and cancer prevention properties. Choose wild salmon instead of farmed, to avoid contaminants such as PCBs. Soon you may also have the option of GMO. OMG!

    Serving suggestions: Brush filets with a marinade of soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and ginger, then grill or broil.
  4. BeetsBeets. Bring on the borscht! Beets are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C; minerals; fiber; and the amino acid betaine, which has significant anti-cancer properties. Their rich red color comes from the phytochemical betacyanin, which significantly reduces blood homocysteine levels, thus lowering the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Beet greens are an excellent source of chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus, and they contain more iron than spinach does. Their high nutritional value should encourage you to acquire the slightly bitter taste. Both beets and beet greens are excellent sources of iron, which helps regenerate red blood cells, thus supplying the body with fresh oxygen.

    Serving suggestions: Tear beet greens into bite-size pieces, then sauté with garlic, onion, and olive oil until wilted and tender. Roast fresh beets at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until easily sliced. Rub cooled beets with a towel to remove skins. Slice into salads, or dice and toss with vinegar, horseradish, and mustard for a sweet and tangy side dish. These days, some markets sell cooked beets.
  5. Green tea. First poured in China more than 4,000 years ago, green tea has since been consumed as both a beverage and as part of traditional medicine in most of Asia. It's now popular around the world. Recent scientific studies suggest that, among other benefits, it can help reduce the risk of cancer and potentially decrease the incidence of stroke and heart disease. Green tea may even help prevent type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

    Serving suggestions: Green tea tastes better brewed with water cooled for 2 to 5 minutes after boiling. Add it to tea in your teapot and steep for no longer than 1 to 3 minutes. Try it chilled, for refreshing and delicious iced tea.
  6. WalnutsWalnuts. They don't just resemble your brain—they feed it, too. Walnuts are remarkably rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help fight cancer, aid immune function, and support heart health by reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Including walnuts and walnut oil in your diet can also help decrease blood pressure responses to stress.

    Serving suggestions: Sprinkle walnuts on a salad to add protein and crunch, or sauté with vegetables and toss with whole-grain pasta.
  7. Spices. Studies have shown that numerous spices offer health benefits as well as increased flavor, without adding calories.

    • Ginger supports digestive health, reduces nausea, decreases inflammation, and may help prevent cancer. It also contains compounds called phenols and gingerols, which may relieve muscle pain.
    • Cinnamon has been shown in studies to help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.
    • Turmeric has long been used as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent in Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine. Currently, numerous U.S. studies are exploring its possible beneficial effects on Alzheimer's disease, cancer, arthritis, and other clinical disorders.
    • Garlic is a staple of many traditional medicines, used to cure hoarseness, coughs, infections, and digestive disorders. Lab studies have shown garlic to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, as well as possible cardiovascular benefits.
    • Oregano's high thymol content makes it an excellent topical antiseptic, while its abundance of phenols makes it a powerful antioxidant. It's a popular herbal infection-fighter, taken to treat colds, flu, and indigestion.

    Serving suggestions: Seek out Indian, Italian, or Mexican dishes that call for them, or experiment with your favorite recipes.
  8. HoneyHoney has been used since ancient times to treat rashes, wounds, coughs, and sore throats. Recent chemical analysis has proven its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, leading to the approval of wound gels containing raw honey for treating drug-resistant MRSA strains.

    Serving suggestions: Mix into marinades to flavor meat, or stir into salad dressings to add extra body.
  9. Yogurt. In addition to protein, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12, the fermentation process that transforms milk into yogurt adds probiotics, "good bacteria" that provide digestive and immune support. Eating low-fat yogurt has been found to help promote weight loss. Strained, or Greek, yogurt contains twice the protein of regular yogurt but is lower in sodium, carbohydrate, and sugar. Its thicker texture even makes it a convincing substitute for ice cream.

    Serving suggestions: Try your tuna salad with plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise, or use thick Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
  10. Dark ChocolateDark Chocolate. If you really need a reason to eat chocolate, health research offers several great ones. Chocolate has high levels of flavonoids, an antioxidant which can help prevent cell damage and perhaps prevent degenerative diseases. A study found that a diet high in flavonoid-rich cocoa powder and dark chocolate reduced the oxidation of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Other research shows that cocoa can help improve blood flow in a way similar to aspirin. Chocolate contains tryptophan, which elevates mood, and phenylethylamine, which can raise levels of pleasure-giving endorphins in the brain. And a 2007 UK study found that chocolate melting on the tongue caused a longer and more intense "buzz" than a passionate kiss.

    Serving suggestions: Even dark chocolate still contains calories and fat, so please watch your portion size.

Expand your menus to include these healthy foods, and find more that you enjoy. Eating wisely, and taking pleasure from your plate, is some of the best medicine there is.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

8 Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Pounds

Whenever I date a guy, I think, "Is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?"

Rita Rudner

Back to top.

8 Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Pounds

By Stephanie S. Saunders

It's that time of year. The leaves turn majestic hues of red and gold. The air becomes fresh and crisp. We can finally put an extra blanket on the bed and cuddle up with a cup of hot tea. Yes, it's fall. We just spent 8 months killing ourselves to get into that bathing suit, but now we've replaced it with a worn pair of jeans and a much more relaxed attitude towards food. After all, it's the holiday season, and no one'll notice a few extra pounds under layers of clothes. A little extra weight just gives us a New Year's resolution to focus on, right?

Wrong. According to a recent study by researchers at Sweden's Linköping University, those 4 weeks of celebrating can actually lead to long-term weight gain.

Feet on a Scale

Essentially, the researchers took a group of healthy young people, increased their caloric intake by 70 percent, and lowered their exercise levels. They also had a control group whose diets weren't altered. At 4 weeks, the participants in the test group had gained an average of 14 pounds. After 6 months, and no longer on an increased-calorie diet, only a third of these participants had returned to their original weight. After 1 year, the test group members were each still an average of 3.3 pounds heavier. After 2.5 years, the "gluttonous" group continued to gain, while the control group still maintained a stable weight.

Now, most of us don't increase our calories that drastically for 30 days straight. Sure, there's Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving leftovers, Hanukkah, the work Christmas party, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day, not to mention the extra sweets, cocktails, and (ahem) fruitcake. But according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the actual average weight gain over the holidays is only 1 pound. (They obviously didn't poll my family or friends.) So what's the big deal? The problem is, a year later, the vast majority of people have not removed that pound. Continue this pattern over 30 or 40 holiday seasons and the problem becomes—quite literally—huge.

So how are we supposed to get through the holidays without causing weight gain? Here are eight effective ways to get yourself ready to beat the holiday bulge.

  1. Buy clothes that fit right now. This first tip might be a bit pricy, but it's a great motivational aid in staving off weight gain. A new addition to your wardrobe in a size that shows off your summer body can be all you need to prevent those extra pounds from creeping on. Imagine that beautiful holiday dress or great pair of pants, then imagine being unable to zip them up thanks to sugar cookies. Yeah, no one wants that. So before you begin the festivities, go buy yourself something perfect to wear to your parties and hang it someplace visible, so it serves as a constant reminder. Perhaps on the TV or in front of that treadmill that might be starting to collect a little dust that way, if it doesn't fit quite the same way the next time you try to slip into it, you know it's time to get back to work.
  2. WritingWrite it down. We try to write down everything we eat, right? We spend hours each month staring at a food diary, adding up our calories, and seeing if we got the correct balance of macronutrients. And then the holidays happen, and our little book ends up in the bottom drawer. It's almost like we're hoping that if we didn't write it down, it didn't happen. Unfortunately, the scale doesn't fit in that bottom drawer. The truth is, if we would write down the not-so-perfect meals and treats, we could find a way to compensate for it, at least a bit. For example, you have a peppermint brownie in the break room at work, which you know is carbohydrates and fat. Eat one less portion of carbohydrate and one less portion of fat for your dinner. It's not ideal, but it'll help. Or perhaps you couldn't resist Mom's homemade scones for breakfast. You could plan on an extra 20 or 30 minutes of your workout tonight. The point is, if we write it down, and do the math, we can lessen the damage. It isn't a good long-term plan, but to help compensate for a few slip-ups, it can help.
  3. Keep exercising. Most fitness trainers will tell you the slowest point of their year is between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Sure, their clients schedule workouts with the best of intentions, but then they cancel them for parties and gift shopping. It's hard to remain balanced when you have a million things to do and gifts to buy. Yet the greatest gift you can give yourself is to stay focused on your fitness goals and get your workout in. Shopping getting in the way? Do it online and save some time. Parties getting in the way? Just show up later. Who cares if everyone else is a couple of cocktails ahead of you? You'll be healthier, and you won't have to worry about the embarrassing YouTube® videos in the morning. Just stay consistent, even if it's inconvenient. You'll be much less likely to look like Santa (both belly-wise and red-nose-wise) at the end of the month.
  4. People EatingEat before parties. Most holiday parties don't focus on low-fat, low-calorie refreshments, so unless you're organizing the event, the best damage control is to show up with a full tummy. Make sure you eat your meals and snacks throughout the day, and try to eat a healthy meal before attending any party. If you're going straight from work, prepare a healthy and filling snack to eat on the way. You'll be a lot less likely to swim in mayonnaise dips and pigs in blankets if you're full.
  5. Get junk out of the house. The majority of people don't get into the car at midnight, drive to the store, buy the ingredients for cookies, bake them, and then stay up to eat them. But if those homemade cookies that Linda in accounting made for you are already on your kitchen counter, you better believe you'll find a way to justify it. Frankly, at 12:30 AM, after a rotten day, for most of us there's nothing like a few cookies to drown our sorrows. The secret is to get the enticements out of the house. Send them to work with your significant other, donate them to a bake sale, regift them to your 100-pound friend with the perfect metabolism, or just dump them in the trash. Linda will never know. If you have holiday dinner leftovers, box them up for your guests individually and send them home with them. If your family still sends you that Pepperidge Farm®cookie assortment, invite a bunch of people over for a pre-party party and serve 'em up before the drinks. Don't be more wasteful than you have to, but get the less-than-healthy temptations out of your reach.
  6. Two Women Preparing a MealOffer to prepare healthy fare. This suggestion won't be well received by those of us who'd rather spend Thanksgiving sitting around watching football than toiling in the kitchen, but if you do the cooking, you have the control. Your family could have a tasty and satisfying meal without ingesting thousands of calories and fat grams. The way the turkey is prepared, the type of stuffing, how vegetables are made, whether the cranberries are real, and countless other things can make or break the healthiness of a meal. There are tons of cookbooks out there, plus recipes that can help you out. Yes, it does require a bit of work. But you work out with Beachbody® fitness programs. You can do anything.
  7. Choose wisely and proportionally. Something occurs during a holiday meal. It's like a Las Vegas buffet—we feel like we have to eat some of everything. We feel almost like those foods will never exist again, and this is our last meal on the planet. This year, why not try to eat only your favorites, as in two or three items, and keep the portions to the size of your palm? If you're still hungry, try to fill up on veggies (preferably ones that aren't drowned in butter or cream-of-mushroom soup). If you want dessert, lean toward a small slice of pumpkin pie (220 calories) as opposed to pecan (a heftier 543), leaving out the hydrogenated nondairy whipped topping if possible. If you're going to have an alcoholic beverage, go with a flute of champagne (100 calories) as opposed to that rum-laced eggnog (with more than four times more calories, at 420). Just a few wise choices will save you a ton of calories, and probably a significant amount of heartburn as well.
  8. Person with Face in HandsDon't beat yourself up. Quite possibly the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over a bit of holiday indulgence. Yes, it does stink to backslide after working your tail off. But sometimes it doesn't stink as much as dealing with your mother when you turn down her brisket and potato pancakes. Sometimes, we don't have time to go to work, buy a Christmas tree, decorate it with our kids, make dinner, oversee homework and tuck kids in bed. We can only do our very best. Mentally berating yourself will only make you feel worse, which never helped anyone get back to their fitness program. So if you happen to gain that one extra pound this holiday season, be part of the rare group who actually follows through with their New Year's resolution and manages to shed it again. A week of hard work and a slight calorie deficit should do the trick. Resolutions don't come easier than that!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adjust Your Weight-Loss Strategy With Age

Adjust Your Weight-Loss Strategy With Age

Learn how aging affects weight loss and the best ways to modify your fitness plans to adjust to changes in your metabolism.

As you get older, your body doesn't respond the same way to weight-loss efforts. This aggravating phenomenon occurs primarily because your metabolism is slowing down and you need fewer calories each day. Here's how to adjust to get back on track.

Weight Gain and Aging: What's Going On?

"The 40s are very different from the 30s, and the 50s are very different from the 40s as far as your metabolism," observes longtime dieter Frances Simon of New Orleans. Simon turns 55 this year and says that number is causing her to get serious about achieving her weight-loss goals. "It seems like it's harder and harder. But, boy, I remember when I was in my 20s — admittedly I was a lot more active, but I had a lot more energy then, too. I would go out dining and drinking a lot when I was in my 20s, but now in my 50s there is no way I would do that. It's easier for the weight to come on than to try taking it off."

Simon's experiences are not unique. With menopause you may find your waist expands a bit, your muscles lose their tone, and you get new fat deposits. Researchers have yet to uncover the reason for these physical changes, but suspect that rapidly shifting hormones affect your body's makeup.

While the factors that lead to weight gain as we age are the same for men and women (with the exception of menopause), national health data shows that men over age 65 are slightly more likely than women to be overweight. In fact, 76 percent of men ages 65 to 74 are obese, compared to 71.5 percent of women in that age group.

Weight Gain and Aging: Your Changing Body

Weihofen says that learning to adjust your diet to your body's changing needs is a gradual process. She gives her clients guidelines like switching to smaller portions and sharing at restaurants, especially if dining with a spouse who is having his own problems with weight gain.

You're less active. Many people find they have less energy as they age, but you may also find that life is less demanding than it was in earlier years. Simon says that eating a Mediterranean-style diet, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, keeps her feeling full and gives her more energy to exercise.

However, she notes that there is another significant barrier to exercising for older women. "For people my age who want to exercise or get started exercising, I think it's discouraging to go to a gym where there are lots of younger people," she says. Simon's goal is to attend Jazzercise three times a week, a class she enjoys because the participants are her age and older. "Some of those 60-year-olds look pretty fine, too!"

Weight Gain and Aging: How to Fight Back

A study of weight gain prevention in 284 women showed that women who maintained a healthy weight over a three-year period were more likely to:

  • Carefully monitor food intake
  • Avoid a loss of control of their diet (binging, for example)
  • Not feel hungry

The strategies for combating weight gain as you age are the same you've used before:

  • Count your calories
  • Eat a hunger-busting diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats
  • Keep fat intake below 30 percent of your calories
  • Be physically active, at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week (more if possible)

Aging doesn't mean you are destined for weight gain — just step up your diet and exercise routine to stay on track!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

12 Foods to Buy Organic

12 Foods to Buy Organic

The 'dirty dozen' is a list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables in produce departments. When thinking about buying organic food, these are the first ones to put on your shopping list.

foods to buy organic

To guide people shopping for produce, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a new list of “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables each year. Simply put, these are the fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide contamination based on the EWG’s analysis of more than 89,000 laboratory tests. Considering this, they are also the foods that you might want to put on your organic shopping list.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic celery

This veggie is not the richest in vitamins and minerals, but it still has value as a low-calorie, high-water content snack that fills you up without bulking you up. Carla Fynan, RD, a nutritionist at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., recommends adding peanut butter for a bit of protein and healthy monounsaturated fat. Rinsing and scrubbing celery may help somewhat, but celery’s thin skin lets pesticides penetrate all the way through, so you’re really better off choosing celery from the organic fruits and vegetables section of your grocer. Non-organic alternatives include broccoli, radishes, and onions.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic peaches

This sweet, delicious fruit is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. It also has a laxative and cleansing effect on the bowels and is easy for the elderly to digest, says Marvin Kunikiyo, DC, author of the natural health book,Revolutionizing Your Health. You can peel peaches to rid them of some pesticides, but that does away with valuable nutrients, and the skin is so thin that many pesticides penetrate the fruit anyway. Therefore, organic food is really the best choice for this member of the dirty dozen. Non-organic alternatives: watermelon, oranges, grapefruit.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic strawberries

With their rich color and delicious flavor, strawberries are positively teeming with antioxidants, including vitamins A and C. Fynan says they are also low in calories and great with any number of dishes (salads and cereals) or on their own. You can’t peel a strawberry and rinsing doesn’t do much, so spending a few dollars for the organic food version is a good idea. Non-organic alternatives: kiwi, pineapples.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic apples

You might think that peeling an apple would be the best way to rid it of pesticides, but that peel is a treasure trove of valuable nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and an antioxidant called quercetin. Instead, rinse and scrub the apple thoroughly or buy organic food to ensure avoiding contaminants from this member of the dirty dozen. Non-organic alternatives: bananas, tangerines.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic blueberries

These tiny berries are antioxidant powerhouses, with a higher antioxidant level than any other fruit or vegetable according to studies. Unfortunately, up to 13 different pesticides have been detected on a single sample of non-organic blueberries, says Amy Hess-Fischl, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator on staff at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center. Choose organic blueberries even if you’re on a limited budget when you buy organic food. Non-organic alternative: raspberries.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic nectarines

These fruits look and taste a lot like peaches, so it’s not surprising they have some of the same health benefits — low in calories and high in vitamins A and C. Nectarines also have some of the same pesticide problems — 95.1 percent of samples tested positive for pesticides. Rinse or scrub them as much as possible or buy organic food when you can. Non-organic alternatives: papaya, mango.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables

Bell Peppers

buy organic bell peppers

The bright, bold colors of these vegetables, particularly the red ones, are a sure sign that they are brimming with antioxidants, most notably vitamin C. Since you wouldn’t normally peel a pepper, rinse or scrub it as much as possible if you can’t buy the organic version. Cooking also can sometimes reduce pesticide levels, though it also reduces the nutrients you derive from it. Non-organic alternatives: green peas, cabbage.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic spinach

Spinach is a low-calorie, delicious choice in salads, and that bold green color is an indicator of its rich content of nutrients such as vitamins A and C, calcium, folate, and fiber. Rinsing and drying the spinach before use helps some, but here again, organic food is the best way to ensure low pesticide exposure when it comes to this member of the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables. Non-organic alternatives: cabbage, broccoli.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic cherries

Cherries have a whole laundry list of helpful nutrients, says Fynan, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, folate, magnesium, and fiber. They also have roughly 42 pesticides on them, according to government testing. A safer bet may be imported cherries, as they have three times less pestidue residue than cherries grown in the United States. Non-organic alternatives: cranberries, raspberries.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables

Kale and Collard Greens

buy organic kale and collard

Most of what was said about spinach, both in terms of nutrients and pesticide levels, also holds true for the dynamic duo of kale and collard greens. But unlike spinach, kale and collard grees are most often cooked, and that does help with some of the pesticide levels — of course cooking also reduces the nutrient levels of these leafy greens. Your best bet is to buy organic food to get the most nutrients without pesticides. Non-organic alternatives: asparagus, cabbage.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables


buy organic potatoes

There are many varieties of potatoes to choose from and many ways to serve them up. People often peel potatoes, which does help reduce the pesticide levels of this root vegetable member of the dirty dozen. The only problem is, that the potato skins are where most of the nutrients of the potato come from. “Make sure you eat the skin for the greatest benefit,” says Fynan. “It’s high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.” Non-organic alternatives: eggplant, mushrooms.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables

Imported Grapes

buy organic grapes

In addition to vitamins A and C, red and Concord grapes have a compound in the skin called resveratrol, which seems to provide specific heart-healthy benefits. Since imported grapes were specifically singled out on the Environmental Working Group “dirty dozen” list, check on the origin of what you are buying and choose domestically grown grapes whenever possible. Non-organic alternatives: kiwi, raspberries.
Last Updated: 10/28/2010
The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Vegetables

More on Diet and Nutrition

buy organic foods
buy organic celery
buy organic peaches
buy organic strawberries
buy organic apples
buy organic blueberries
buy organic nectarines
buy organic bell peppers
buy organic spinach
buy organic cherries
buy organic kale and collard
buy organic potatoes
buy organic imported grapes