Saturday, November 29, 2008

Healthy Holiday Eating

The Thanksgiving meal is done! How many calories did you eat? If you were like me, it was probably alot! The holiday eating has just begun. I have at least 3 events at work and in my private life that will involve eating and drinking...and lots of it! That's in addition to the regular meals and the fast food eating that always happens during the shopping season. I know I for one don't want to look like the people in the picture! But I also want to enjoy my food and drink that accompanies this time of year! So here are a few healthy holiday eating tips, not my own, that will help keep some of that weight off during the holiday season:

1. Focus on weight maintenance vs. weight loss during the holidays. The holidays is NOT the time to decide to diet! You are only setting yourself up for failure. Don't plan on dieting until after the New Year.

2. Be physically active every day. There's only 1 way to really maintain or lose weight: burn more calories than you take in! Physical activity will not only help you burn the calories you are inputting, but it can also help relieve stress. Walk, go to the gym, bicycle...whatever it takes to move!

3. Eat a light snack before going to holiday parties. Get that belly a little full before you even get where you are going. You'll eat less!

4. Make a plan. Know where you're going, who you'll be with, and what the menu will be. Before you even get to the party, plan to eat and drink less.

5. Reduce the fat in holiday recipes. For the cooks, think of healthier choices when preparing the foods for your party or gathering. Try some of the following lower-fat recipe substitutions: 2 egg whites instead of 1 whole egg; low fat plain yogurt or low fat sour cream instead of sour cream; skim or 1% milk instead of whole milk; frozen yogurt instead of ice cream; chilled evaporated skim milk or other low fat whipped products such as Nutriwhip instead of whipped cream; low fat cheese instead of cheese with a higher fat content.

6. Choose your beverages wisely. Alcohol is high in calories. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks contain 150-450 calories per glass. Drink water or diet sodas, or if you do choose alcohol, select light wines and beers or drink no more than 1-2 drinks.

7. Maintain perspective: Overeating one day won't add a bunch of pounds on you. Even eating more throughout the holiday season does not add that many pounds. "The good news is that most people are not gaining five or six pounds during the holidays, but the bad news is that weight gained over the winter holidays isn't lost during the rest of the year," says Jack A. Yanovski, MD, head of Growth and Obesity at the National Institutes of Health.

Although food can be a big part of the season, it doesn’t have to be the focus. Holidays are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to give thanks. Focus on those things, not food!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We All Get Older

In just a little over a month, I will turn a half century old! Yes, I admit it! As hard as I've tried to deny it, I will be the BIG 50! Don't laugh! Many of my friends are already there! I used to say that I would not age gracefully, but rather would fight it every step of the way. However, as it approaches, I have taken on a new stance: I will accept it and try to age with dignity, remaining as healthy as possible. I have already reconciled in my mind that I am not 19 or 20 or even 25 anymore and no matter how hard I work out, I will never look 19, 20, or 25 again. But I can try to look and feel my best despite the aging process.

As we age, nature takes its course and slows us down. From the time we're born, our bodies begin wasting away. That process is however, accelerated later in life, particularly after age 50. This change in our bodies happens not only in individual cells, but within entire organs. The result is a change in our bodily function and appearance. One area hit by the aging process is our muscles and amount of fat. The amount of muscle tissue (muscle mass) and muscle strength tend to decrease. This process is called sarcopenia, which literally means loss of flesh. Loss of muscle mass begins around age 30 and continues throughout life, and by age 75, the percentage of muscle mass is typically half of what it was during young adulthood. Also, by age 75, the percentage of body fat typically doubles compared with what it was during young adulthood. So what to do? Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can strengthen muscles and partially overcome or significantly delay loss of muscle mass and strength.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) now has fitness guidelines specific to weight training for people over 50. The advice: perform such exercises 2 to 3 times a week to condition all of the major muscle groups -- arms, legs, shoulders, and trunk. The goal is to lift a weight that's heavy enough to achieve 10 to 15 repetitions per session before the muscles become fatigued. In addition, like everyone, those over the age of 50 also need regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or running, to strengthen their heart and lungs and tone their bodies. But those over 50 should never dismiss weight training as only something for younger people.

So turn off the television, get off your sofa, get moving, and add a little weight training to your regiment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Five Ways To Stay Healthy

This one's for you, R.C. What's it mean to live healthy? How can I keep healthy? Well, here's five things according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that you and I can do to live a healthy life.

FIRST: Eat Healthy. Pick and choose healthy foods. If you're like me, I admit it, I DO NOT eat enough fruits! I don't know what it is about fruit, maybe the texture, but I do not eat enough. I try to have a piece of fruit every afternoon while at work, but that sometimes is my entire fruit intake. I have had people at work say to me, "You are so good about what you eat," when they see me eat my ONE piece of fruit, and I admittedly state that I do not eat enough fruit and I need to eat more.

SECOND: Get Active. Get moving 30 minutes or more a day. You don't have to join a gym or take an aerobic class, but you do have to move! Walk! What a cheap exercise. Park the car further away from the door when you go to the store and WALK! Take 15 minutes at lunch and WALK! Take another 15 minutes before or after work, and WALK! Get off your duff to get the fat off your duff!

THIRD: Get Screened. Take the time for that annual physical exam and follow up with the necessary screenings. As uncomfortable as some tests may seem, it will definitely be alot more comfortable than a serious illness if things aren't taken care of soon enough. I'm sure we have all talked to, or know someone, that did not have that colonoscopy done and then when there were concerns, it was quite scary!

FOURTH: Quit smoking! "My father smoked for years, and nothing ever happened to him. He lived to be 80!" I hear it all the time! Let's face it: NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM SMOKING! Smoking is the leading cause of heart disease! Smoking causes cancer and all kinds of other ailments. Just because you've been lucky so far, why play with fire? Sure! If you play Russian Roulette, you might not get a bullet in your head, but why take the risk when you don't have to?

FIFTH: Watch your weight! No pills or easy exercise is going to take off the pounds! The way to loose weight: burn more calories than you take in! Only way around it. Either eat less or move more, hopefully a combination of both.

Living healthy is not something I try to do to live longer. I know my quality of life is enhanced by staying healthy. I have more energy when I exercise and I feel a whole lot better. Believe me, I'm not the perfect example of good health, but I am trying!