The Cost of Sugar

Did you know there is sugar in almost every product you buy? I’m not talking about the naturally occurring fructose in fruits. I’m referring to the added sugar in our foods. Next time you go shopping, grab an item of the shelf and read the food label. You might be surprised how much sugar you’re consuming on a regular basis.

Whether you are aware of your sugar intake or not, there are millions of Americans who are not. Sugar is found in almost everything and too much sugar can lead to metabolic diseases, weight gain, and obesity. Food companies are loading foods with sugar and people are consuming it in large quantities, whether they are aware or not.

According to Judy Corliss at Harvard Health, “Over the course of the 15-year study on added sugar and heart disease, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. Overall, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index (a measure of weight)”.  In short, the odds of dying from heart disease increase based on the percentage of sugar in your diet and this was true regardless of sex, age, activity level, and body-mass. Sugar is empty calories with no nutritional value, but evidently lethal as well.

Americans have been overconsuming sugar from some of their favorite food sources for years with no understanding of the impact on their bodies. Sources like sodas, energy drinks, and sport drinks are the biggest culprits, but according to the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, you can add candy, cakes, cookies, cereals, pies and cobblers, bakery items (sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts), fruit drinks, and desserts to the list.

The biggest hidden issue is the added sugar in foods like ketchup, cottage cheese, yogurt, protein bars and granola! Sugar is added to the foods to make it pleasing to our taste buds, but that means getting more sugar than you realize.  Also be very aware of the “no sugar” or “sugar free” items on the shelves. There are often artificial or other sweeteners added to make that "low sugar"  food even more palatable to us.  These sweeteners may not show up in the calorie or  carbohydrate section, but they are on the ingredient list. Know that in terms of added sugars, while the FDA does recognize sugar in its many forms (brown, white granulated, raw, and invert), as well as honey, lactose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose it DOES NOT recognize cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar. 

The next time you read a food label and you’re considering what you are putting into your body, read the ingredient section carefully. According to the ChooseMyPlate.gov, these are ingredients found in many processed foods that we should be aware of:

  •        anhydrous dextrose
  •        brown sugar
  •        confectioner's powdered sugar
  •        corn syrup
  •        corn syrup solids
  •        high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  •        malt syrup
  •        maltose
  •        maple syrup
  •        molasses
  •        nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  •        pancake syrup

The American Heart Association suggests that women take in no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) of added sugar, while men should take in no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories). To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar, so drinking even one a day would put all women and most men over the daily limit.  Please note that FRUCTOSE in fruit is NOT on this list and fruit has many health benefits.

If you attended our January Wellness nights, you will know that reading labels is important. Awareness is key.  Choose those labels with the fewest ingredients and eat as much from the outside of the grocery store as possible!

Life is Good in Your 50s!

As 2018 rolled in, I began to reflect on how good life can be when you are in your 50’s and 60’s!  We as women generally have more time to devote to our personal care.  If you have had children and are not an emptynester, (and I am not!) chances are your children are old enough to do most of their self-care, drive to their sport or music practices and help out with chores around the house.  That opens up time that we had spent earlier in our life, caring for pre-school and elementary school children.  Even if you work a full time job (and I do!) you can take more time before and after work to do the things you could not do when you were getting children up and fixing their meals.  If you have never had children, chances are your career is established and you can negotiate time for self-care.  The 50’s and 60’s truly ARE the decade to dedicate time to ourselves.  We are wiser, have more free time and ready to prioritize ourselves.

For this New Year, my list of goals hasn't changed much, but I am making them more specific. I am still going to focus on my distance running by picking two half marathons to train for. I will focus on strength training 3-4 days per week with a four-week program set out each month.  I am going to set aside time to practice my meditation and mindfulness daily.  And I am going to continue to grow my knowledge in our plant based eating through reading, research and following the example of several leaders in this field. 

I would love to have you join me in this challenge for 2018.  Remember to make SMART GOALS:

Specific.  Specific refers to what you are going to do.  Use action words such as exercise, eat, and coordinate.  Think about why you are choosing this particular goal.  A good idea of a SPECIFIC goal is: I am going to walk 3 miles in 45 minutes by March 1st.

Measurable.  If you can measure it, you can’t manage it.  Choose a goal with measurable progress.  You may have a long-term goal, but have smaller measurable steps along the way.  For example, if you want to run a 6-mile race in the spring, you should set your training program to build your mileage each week.  

Achievable.  Set goals that are achievable for YOU and you only.  Your friend may want to run a marathon in May.  This may not be important or attainable for you.  You may need to set a goal of running a 5k in March.

Realistic.  This does not mean easy.  It means Do-able.  Set the bar high enough to feel satisfied when you attain your goal, but not so high that the thought of your goal is overwhelming.  For example, rather than setting a goal not to eat sweets all month, it may be more realistic to set a goal to eat only one sweet per week.

Timely.  Set a time frame for your goal.  Next week, next month, by spring.  Putting a clear target in front of you gives you something to work toward and allows you start on it right away.  Remember though, if your time is more than a few weeks in the distance, set interim goals to get you there.

 I would love to hear from you about your goals for YOU in 2018. Good luck and let me know how I can help.

 

10 Steps Towards Better Self-Care

     Recently I posted 10 steps toward self-care for 10 straight days on social media.  I think these are important to remember, especially at this time of year when we over-schedule ourselves, attend more parties, the kids are home from school and we generally have less time for ourselves than normal. Think about them and see if they make sense in your life.

1.    Take time to laugh daily.

2.    Drink more water.

3.    Eat healthy foods.  Don’t skimp on veggies & fruits.

4.    Meditate or find alone time every daily.   Take a moment to notice your breath.

5.    Give more, but don’t be afraid to say no.

6.    Get up and move every hour.

7.    Be wary of those you allow in your personal space.

8.    Get to sleep on time.

9.    Exercise Daily.

               10.   Take time to be grateful.

 

Why Paulo & I Dipped Our Toes into Plant Based Eating

Oh my gosh!  September 9th was such a transformative day for me. I partook in Mindy & Bruce Mylrea’s One Day to Wellness workshop because I have been trying to “Raise my Healthfulness Game” in 2017.  This year I started with the goal of practicing meditation and mindfulness daily, while increasing my knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating.  When I read about the workshop, I thought it might be just what I needed. I had no idea it was going to be as educational and motivational as it turned out to be.  It raised my awareness game and seriously began our personal experiment into vegetarianism and vegan eating.

 

Bruce & Mindy spoke about their experience in what they called their “transition” to plant based eating, but they also presented significant amounts of the current research behind plant based eating.  More and more research is linking animal protein consumption to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  There is a significant amount of research that support a relationship between high protein diets and kidney disease. (Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is turning VEGAN!)  And it is difficult to ignore the impact of animal food production on the environment, not to mention concerns regarding the ethical treatment of animals.

 

So, Paulo & I decided it was time to listen to science and see how our bodies responded to a change in eating style.  Right now we are 3 weeks in to our MOSTLY VEGANISM.  Admittedly, learning to eat this way is taking some practice.  There is a lot of volume of food required and we are rethinking our meals and meal planning.  But, we feel good.  Maybe a few pounds lost and body fat is down.  We are committing to our plant based eating style for the next month and checking the results of our experiment at our next checkups!   For the next chapter, stay tuned!

Mindfulness While Lifting Weights


2017 is the year of my dedication to what I call “purposeful mindfulness.” I try daily to have a time out for meditation.  But as I practice this habit, I have realized how often I use mindfulness while exercising.  Focusing while training allows me to push my body further than I thought possible and making strength and fitness gains I would not have with out the practice of mindful lifting.

While you are lifting, take time to pay attention to what muscles you are using during a particular exercise.  When you are preparing for your set, know which muscles are doing what part of the exercise.  For instance, when you set up to squat, engage your glutes, your abs, your hamstrings and quads.  Focus your mind on your breathing.  Inhale with the weight on its descent, and exhale on the exertion. Take a moment and look at the muscle while it is contracting; see the muscle expand and contract. Then take a soft gaze away from the muscle (or close your eyes if you are seated or lying). Feel the tension in your muscles as they contract and move on the concentric and eccentric contractions.  Finish the first rep and then embrace the next reps as fully as you did the first.  Enjoy the feeling of the strength in the muscles that you are working.

Through weightlifting I have found strength outside my body; I have found it in my mind. Weightlifting, I have come to find, is my meditation. Breathe in, breathe out, lift, hold and repeat.

 

 

Moderation in All Things...

Yesterday I was on social media and I began thinking about expectations. Many of the people I see on Instagram, FB and other social media platforms display themselves as something that may seem unattainable to some of us.  They are 100% vegan, they do triathalons, their workout videos are intimidating & they have a body fat percent so low it is astounding.  And that is all great!  I admire them immensely.

 But what stops most of us from taking the time to exercise regularly or to cook healthy food for ourselves?  I think in many cases it is because we feel as if we can’t compare to these images we see regularly.  It is feeling like it is not worth doing if we can't be like these images we see!   Nothing could be further from the truth!  We don’t have to be “all in” to benefit from living a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t let feeling overwhelmed stop you from making a few small changes.  Try to begin by doing these simple things:

1.    Move Daily (walking is cheap & easy!)

2.    Drink Water

3.    Strive for your fruits & veggies

4.    Cut back on processed foods (including processed meats)

5.    Reduce sodas & sweets

 I am often reminding my clients that fitness is not a straight up hill climb, where we are always feeling great, strong, and healthy. Fitness is rolling hills.  Sometimes we are climbing up smoothly and then suddenly something pushes us down the hill, like family, work, injury, et cetera.  The important thing is that we pick ourselves up and start the climb over.  Remember, Fitness is a Journey, not a Destination

Fitness is a Journey

 

 

Why HIIT is Crucial for Menopausal and Post Menopausal Women

Ok, first question.  What is HIIT?  HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.  HIIT training involves going all out, giving 100% for a short period of time and then having short periods of rest or active recovery. Are you scared off by the thought?  Are you thinking, wait, I can’t do all that jumping, squatting, pushups, and crazy stuff?!  The good news is yes you can! And I will tell you why.  But first, let me convince you that you NEED to add this type of training to your regular workout week.

Here are some of the benefits of HIIT:

  • Losing body fat
  • strengthening the cardiovascular system
  • increasing your ability to work harder for longer
  • improving your body’s ability to utilize fat & carbohydrates for fuel
  • developing mental toughness (makes you a badass!)
  • helping maintain our fast twitch fibers that tend to slow down as we age.

Previously in my blog I talked about what happens to our body as we pass through menopause.  As you can see from the above, HIIT training helps combat the weight gain, the slowing metabolism & the loss of bone and muscle mass.

A few of the other benefits of HIIT?

  • Takes a short period of time
  • Can be done at home
  • Can be done with NO equipment

Are you convinced HIIT is good idea? Then let’s talk about some of the reservations you may have.  If you Google HIIT, you are more than likely going to see workouts which involve jumping jacks, burpees & mountain climbers which are high impact activities.   These are great for building bone density, muscle mass and increasing your metabolic rate. But not everyone can take on this much impact. HIIT can also be done in a low impact form. It can be done with walking, running, swimming or biking.   See my video on low impact HIIT for ideas!

Are you convinced and ready to get started?  Then start with these tips:

  • Select some upbeat music!
  • Do an active warm up, such as brisk 5 minute walk
  • Start with short, less than 30 seconds, work intervals and allow yourself enough recovery time so your heart rate feels elevated but not out of control.  As you improve, increase your work time and decrease your rest time.
  • Start your HIIT with 10 minutes twice a week and gradually increase the duration so you can perform it for 30 minutes at least twice per week.

Remember a lot will depend on YOUR goals and YOUR body’s capabilities, but HIIT can benefit EVERY body!

Strength Training is Crucial for Women Over 50 (and under but that is not my topic!)    

When I was a young mom, people asked me why I lifted weights.  My answer was “so I can carry both my children up the stairs at the same time!” My reason now?  I still want to be a strong, independent woman!”  I love introducing my clients to the feeling of accomplishment they have as they get stronger and can do more and more without asking for help!

My friend in California recently contacted me to help her get back in the gym…WHY? I mean she is a triathlete for heavens sake!  She has run marathon upon marathon! She is fit!  She is strong!  So I asked her!  Her answer:  “Because my arms are getting jiggly!”

Seriously! Then she followed it up with this: “I was an athlete my whole life, naturally strong upper body, but even I didn't think the words of my 7th grade health teacher "muscle starts to decline after 30" would ever apply to me.”  In her words, “there's only so much you can do to your face to remain young... put that time, money & effort on your body and you'll start to FEEL like you're turning back clock as well as look it. “

As we age, we lose muscle mass, we lose bone density, our metabolism slows down.  Strength training can combat all of that, with the additional benefits of increasing flexibility, reducing joint pain, reducing peri and post menopausal symptoms, sleeping better, and if that isn’t enough, being more mentally fit, (NYT: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/21/lifting-weights-twice-a-week-may-aid-the-brain/).

Luckily, strength training (also known as resistance training) does not necessarily mean joining the muscle heads at the local Gold’s Gym!  You can start to build muscle with your own body weight and slowly adding resistance as your strength increases.  Things around your house, such as cans, milk cartons and dirt bags  can be used to add weight and resistance.

My caveat?  I do recommend consulting a fitness professional for guidance on technique if you have never done resistance training before.