Saturday, December 17, 2011

How many Calories do you need?

This post is all about calories. Calories are the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1kg of water 1 degree. So when your box of Popcorn says it has 120 calories, they mean that the amount of energy you'd be depositing into your body would be enough fuel to burn 120 kg of water 1 degree. Yes, food is fuel, so you also need to remember to burn it off not just store it!
So how many calories do you need? well, that's a slightly complicated question, and there are lots of calorie calculators available online. Basically the number is adjusted by weight (bigger people burn more calories), and height, and age (which sets metabolism and developmental needs), gender (which influences muscle mass and body fat - women need more body fat to maintain their periods/pregnancy), and activity level. In general, people need a lot more calories then most of us are eating. YES! You read that right. People typically need to be eating more calories - but good, happy, healthy calories. For my body and exercise level, I need to eat about 2600 calories - yikes. But since I am losing weight, I subtract 500 calories (that puts me on a course of losing a pound a week). Losing too much weight too fast is very dangerous for the body and should only be done with supervision by a healthcare provider. It's also not as sustainable to lose a lot quickly. Losing weight and getting healthy needs to be a mental and emotional change, so weight that is lost gradually has been shown to stay off! Which is why crash diets DON'T work.

How to calculate it:
If you'd rather be a calorie geek, like me, here are the formulas for men and women. Step 1:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)
Step 2:
multiply that number by another one based on your activity level:
sedentary: 1.2, Light: 1.375, Moderate: 1.55 ,very active: 1.75
Step 3:
If you want to gain weight add 500, maintain - do nothing, lose weight then subtract 500.

That's your number of calories every day. There are also calorie counters for kids (my daughter is 1 year old, and is very active so she needs about 1400 calories a day). The calorie needs of a pregnant woman should be the same in the first trimester, and only increase by about 300 calories a day for the remainder - so basically a half of a PB and J, ....or a bagel. Nursing moms need an extra 300-500 calories.

So you know your calories, now what?
Divide this number over 5 meals. More calories AND you get to eat every few hours? Awesome. So, I'm 2100 calories so maybe 400, 400, 500, 400, 400 - A nice big lunch, and the rest are about even. You can divide them up in different ways depending on your personality. Maybe you don't like to eat a lot at breakfast, or you'd rather eat light at lunch since you work out then. Mix it up, but remember that a meal is 300-500 calories, and a snack is 100-200 calories. Therefore, don't eat an apple and call it lunch, and don't starve all day so that you can eat 1000 calories of nachos and beer with your friends that night. Your body responds to what it ate last. So if you ate great, your body responds with a jump in metabolism, reduced cravings, and steady blood sugar (so no jolt, no jitters, no crash). If you ate crap and food-like substances, your body slows down, your bowels stop working properly and you start craving more salt, fat, and sugar. Did you skip a meal? Your body knows it - it slows down the metabolism and you start getting too hungry to make good choices.

A note on EXERCISE
Adjust your caloric needs if you aren't going to exercise more then 2 days in a row. Your calorie calculations are assuming you will be consistent with exercise - and the intensity level. Also, having worked out doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want...the old, "I can eat that, I did workout today," doesn't actually work.
When to workout/eat depends on you. Some people can't workout on an empty stomach, and others can't workout on a full one. In general, try to not eat 2 hours before you exercise. If you need something in your tummy, have a banana, a sports drink/recovery drink, or a healthy snack bar (definitely only around 100 calories).

A note on fasting
There are some times when fasting can be good for you - for spiritual purposes, to give your body a chance to cleanse, and to focus the mind. But that's where this list ends. Eating less than 300 calories at a meal isn't enough to feed the body so that it feels full, so you get enough nutrients, and to keep that metabolism up. Eating less then 1000 calories a day, is a strict no-no. Want to balance the deficit on the calories in/calories out thing? Exercise. Trust me. Ultra low calorie diets may force some bodies (not all) to lose weight, but since your body is lacking nutrients it will steal them from you. That's why people with eating disorders have brittle bones and frequent fractures, their body stole the calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus from their bodies since it wasn't in the diet. Your body will steel calories from the muscles in your body - which you not only need to exercise, stand, make out, and smile - but you also need to beat your heart. Get the idea?
Yes, some diets call for periods of fasting, or a skipped meal. If that works for you, fine. If you aren't losing weight, get cranky (a sign of low blood sugar NOT lack of will power), or that it leads you to making bad food choices - don't bother. Eat! But eat well:)

Good Eats!
Ok, this is the last bit of advice: eat well! Eating healthy foods means that you get to eat more, not less! For example, a small order of french fries has 300 calories. For the same calories you can have a large baked sweet potato, 1 cup of broccoli, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, and 1 oz of chicken. That a full plate compared to a little sad paper bag of fries. Want to eat a dunkin donuts' blueberry muffin? That's 500 calories. Instead, you could have had an omelet with 1 whole egg, 2 egg white, 1 oz of shredded cheddar, mushrooms, onions, peppers, a tortilla wrap, a cup of non-fat plain yogurt, AND a cup guessed it, fresh blueberries! That's a boat load of food! Still think the starvation diet is where it's at? I'd rather eat all that versus 1 muffin that will probably not even make you feel full.

Good luck, and happy eating:)

Friday, December 9, 2011

How to Choose the Exercises that are Best for You!

The key to choosing the right kind of exercises is to know your body and to know your goals. When I coach new clients or help my patients, I always ask them to tell me about the types of exercises they have done before, what went wrong, and of any injuries/health issues they have. The only people who truly cannot do a workout are those in a coma - and even with them we do stretches and range of motion (moving the joints around) several times a day! I will discuss a few of the body barriers to working out, and explore a few different options here.

Ok, so the biggest whine (you know who you are) is that "I'm too old." Well, that excuse may be, but you are NOT. Have you ever heard of the octogenarian olympics? It is an international competition for the 80 and older! And no, they aren't doing walker dual fighting - They are doing the 100 yard dash in 19 seconds! Women in their 80's are clearing 8 feet on the pole vault! Most have learned how to adapt to their health issues, despite that almost all have osteoporosis or arthritis. Even my patients who are recovering from open heart surgery go to the hospital based heart-gym to get their heart back into shape on treadmills, stationary bikes, and by lifting weights. Is your excuse that you aren't able to work out because you have kids? Kids love to work out, and doing it with their parents only reinforces those good health behaviors. Babies love to go in the jogging stroller, and toddlers/preschoolers love to try and jump, run, climb stairs, and ride on the back of the bike. My one year old is really good at copying me when I am doing my P90X workout. She marches while I jog in place, she tries to do push ups with me, and in general loves to watch me hop around - so we make a game of it. Early school aged kids can do a work out with you (modifying of course), including the Kids Fit Club - a workout just for them. Middle schoolers and up can do everything you can do - and would LOVE to beat you at it too. That adds to their self-esteem, keeps them healthy, and gives you and your kids some time together.

Body type
Are you super weak, with little bitty girl arms? Can't lift your own body weight or do a push-up? Are you a stocky person with a barrel chest, and a thick frame? Do you have funny joints that don't like certain movements like swimming or pedaling? Do you have bad feet or a bad back and have written off all kinds of activities - or worse, push through it? Knowing your body is a key aspect of finding your soul mate work out. There are activities for everyone and every body type - walking is a great activity. So is weightlifting, which helps build muscles, increase metabolism, stabilizes joints, and strengthens bones. Just start with low weights, and do more reps. This will allow you to keep your joints and body under control, and not injure yourself. Are you a bigger person, with more weight to move? The water is a great place. Easy on joints too. Learning to swim comfortably (so you don't feel like you are drowning, you aren't hitting yourself, and you are making forward progress) takes practice. Luckily, you will be swimming lots of laps, so you can practice. You should be breathing at a comfortable rate, so match your swimming to that. Most people swim really hard and need to breath heavily, resulting in sputtering, near drowning and frustration. Pace yourself, and work on speed after you get the hang of it.

This means are you a boy or a girl - and what kind of cock-a-mamy things have you been told about what kind of exercises people with certain "parts" should do. Girls can do any kind of workout that boys can do. Girls tend to weigh less, so they don't have to be as strong to pull up or push up their bodies, just modify at first with a chair to assist with pull ups or starting on your knees with pushups. Girls can lift weights - in fact they should. It increases bone density to do any weight baring exercises, and given the rates of osteoporosis, arthritis, and hip fractures among women - why wouldn't you do it? If you are a mamma like me, lifting weights helps tone your body, and makes it easier to do the crazy things you do like carry the baby, all the groceries, and the mail! Be careful though if you have any kind of pelvic floor weakness (do you pee when you sneeze?). Be sure to lift carefully, of a modest weight, and do exercises to strengthen the core and kegels to strengthen those muscles. Men...guys do yoga too, and should. Increasing your flexibility improves balance, endurance, and your ability to manage pain. Improving flexibility will prevent injuries. Also, Just as women are less likely to be able to lift higher weights, men are less likely to have good endurance and pain control. Remember that women are designed to give birth so our pain thresholds are higher, and our body's ability to use oxygen efficiently need to be good.

Health problems
This is a big one, and yet is easy to over come if you have the right support. Diabetics should work out since it improves sugar metabolism and controls weight, but they do need to monitor their sugar/insulin needs during and after a workout. A trained profession (such as myself) can help you learn to manage that. Heart problems? Watching your level of exertion, and knowing how to strengthen the cardiovascular system safely is key AND possible. Cancer patient? Moderate exercise improves symptoms of nausea, insomnia, and fatique. Be sure to know how to avoid infection at the gym, and to modify for any surgeries/procedures that may limit your movements. Kidney, lymphatic, or liver issues? Movement helps the body to cleanse itself of impurities better - just be sure to stay hydrated!! Digestive or urinary problems, movement helps both diarrhea and constipation. If you have "urgency" issues, just be sure to workout somewhere where a bathroom is accessible and close. Bed ridden? 20 asanas for your pajamas is a video for doing yoga from your bed! I recommend it to my patients all the time:) Have Alzheimer's, dementia, amnesia, or brain injury? Work out with a buddy, always tell someone where you are going, and have a routine so you always know what to do next. Paraplegic, hemiplegic, or an amputee...if we can have para-olympians who swim, run, play sports, and are probably in better shape then most Americans, then you can find solutions too!

If you have a physical limitation that I haven't mentioned here, let me know and I can help you find a way to modify that will keep you strong and as healthy as possible. Just remember, you have a body that is just right for you and learning how to make it healthy and happy can be a joyful journey! Happy exercising:)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Water and Weightloss (and so much more), and Why Soda is Just not a Substitute

Water is a great healer of the human body, and also the easiest thing we can do to improve our health...but don't. The benefits of water are simple and keeping your body hydrated is just the beginning. I know that I personally hate drinking water, resist it at all cost, and usually begrudgingly down a glass simply because I know I'll die if I don't do that occasionally. Luckily getting sweaty during my workouts usually encourages me to drink, and when I teach a class to my college students all that talking makes me take sips all day. Here I will discuss the health benefits, some of which will surprise you. Then I will offer some tips on how to increase your ability to drink water.

Water and weightloss
Weightloss - definitely. For one, we often confuse thirst for hunger, so drinking may actually help get rid of your desire to snack. It also helps you feel more full, by taking up space in your stomach. People tend to consume fewer calories per meal when they increase their water intake, and over time that means loosing weight. It also helps with preventing constipation and stored waste (a nice way of saying poop) adds to feelings of sluggishness, decreased ability to absorb nutrients, and, well...the stuff is just heavy. Water also increases your metabolism, and best of all prevents you from drinking other beverages that have calories. Americans now drink 300 calories a day. That may not seem like much but given that 3500 calories makes a pound -over the course of a year (365 days) that's 31 extra pounds!

Water and overall health
Sheesh, what DOESN'T water help with? Well for starters it helps control blood sugars, reduces the impact of high salt consumption on blood pressure, improves the poop problems (see above), keeps your skin healthy which not only makes you look amazing but keeps away infections, regulates metabolism, lubricates joints, helps you maintain your body's ability to regulate temperature, and best of all it flushes out the system. Now, this one is very unappreciated. Hydration flushes out toxins from the lymphatic system through increased blood volume, encourages good kidney function - which means all kinds of flushing of toxins, keeps the immune system working well (and that system removes all kinds of unmentionable things from the body), and generally keeps things running smoothly. Water also helps flush out lactic acid - the thing that makes muscles ache more after a work out. So drink more, feel better!

How much water should you drink?
So we've all heard that 8 glasses a day is the answer, but is that really true? Probably not. The number also includes water that is gained from foods. There is a lot moisture in fruits, veggies, and even some in breads and dairy. Not to mention that every body is different, so we all have a different need. So figure out your set point. Start with an empty milk jug - that's about 16 8oz cups. Pour in 1 cup at a time and mark the height on the outside of the jug. Then start drinking as you normally would in a given day. So you only drank 4 glasses fine. Using the same jug, increase you water intake the next day to 6 and see how you feel. Try 8 or 10. At some point you will look at the jug and think "I just can't drink anymore." See where that point is, and now you can use that jug (or a smaller container) to fill up every day to your set point. Then all you have to do is drink the container and not have to worry about counting or measuring.

Why we don't notice dehydration well
We are actually very bad at this simple task, and depending on where you live it may be even more challenging. If you live in a place where hot summers mean high humidity and lots of sweating, you'll think "gee, I should go drink something." If you live in a place with that pesky "dry heat" (or if you live in a cold climate the drying weather comes from more inside time, more heating appliances and fireplaces also means drier air) then you can easily become the victim of "imperceptible water loss." What does this cool phrase mean? It means that your body loses water through evaporation. That's why I get so thirsty when I'm teaching too! All that talking dries out the moisture in the mouth...imperceptible water loss! So, be sure to check in with that water jug if you notice signs of dehyration or just make a habit of it at the change of seasons!

Signs of mild dehydration
-Dry mouth
-Constipation or irregular bowels
-Sore muscles and joints
-Unclear thinking (just a 2% water loss can impair memory and basic math skills)
-Dry skin
-If you stop sweating or get chills during a work out or on a hot day
-Darker (yellower) urine
-Heart palpitations (racing heart)

Why soda sucks
Now the occasional treat is fine, but I know many of you are soda addicts - drinking one or more a day. If the 31 calories a year wasn't enough to make you want to stop, consider this: soda contains 3 tablespoons of sugar - and totally useless calories. It also gets its sugar solely from high fructose corn syrup, which is NOT the same as sugar. For one it is completely processed, and 33% of products have been found to contain mercury (which is used in this processing). The body metabolizes it differently from sugar as well. For example it produces advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which are linked to aging and complications of diabetes. Fructose is more rapidly broken down in the liver then sucrose or glucose so it increases fat storage, fatty-liver, higher triglyceride production, and increased calorie consumption since you will feel hungry sooner. Another problem with soda is the caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee. Increased urination, means it is not a hydrating fluid. Now for those of you who say, but I drink sugar free or caffeine free, studies show that your brain still interacts with it like it has sugar and caffeine. It also still has artificial sweeteners, sodium, and additives. All of which are not nearly as good for your body as water.

So what else can you drink?
Water, water, and water are all good choices. Juice (which usually also contains high fructose corn syrup) is not a good option. You don't get the same nutritional benefits of drinking an apple or orange as you do eating it. Also, sugary beverages
actually encourage your body to urinate more (like soda) -so not a hydrating fluid. Any of the powders you add to water also add all those odd things, and sometimes calories or dyes. But if you hate water as much as I do there are a few things you can do: add a piece of cucumber or citrus fruit to the water. I personally really like to make cold herbal teas (so no caffeine). I love the fruit teas like blueberry, raspberry, and lemon. Another option is to figure out when you naturally drink fluids the most and increase it at those times. As I said, for me I try to drink the most during workout and when I am at work, but I have also learned that if there is water at the table I am more likely to drink it. I also know that temperature matters to me. I don't like very cold water, so I like the water jug out to be room temperature. If you like it ice cold - try getting a water bottle with a freezable center or keeping filled containers in the fridge so you can grab-and-go, and it saves money and waste from buying bottled water. Happy Hydrating!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exercising -when the excuses run out, you need to make it work!


Yup, people will go to great lengths to avoid moving their bodies. People hate dieting, but they'd rather starve then move their bodies - What with all the sweating, soreness, and...moving.

Research has shown that exercise is a better controller of cholesterol levels then dieting is, and improves your immune functions, your sleep, your overall positive disposition (you know how work out people always seem annoyingly happy?), balances hormones, lessens symptoms of PMS/pregnancy/post-partum depression, improves glucose tolerance (so your body uses blood sugar better), helps cardiovascular function, prevents dementia, improves digestion, etc....but, people would rather take a pill or eat a "magic food" or complain and be sad then move their bodies. Confession: from time to time, I'm one of those people.

I recently started doing P90X again, a workout program that I do at home with weights (no not the bulk you up, but the tone you up). I dragged myself to starting it, with a very whiny "I Don't wanna go work out." I had been working out regularly - 6 days a week kind of regular, but then got very sick over a month ago, and just couldn't do it for a while. I gave myself time to recover, and now it's time to get back into it! Yes, I get sweaty, and yes, I get sore - but it does get better and here are some of my tips for getting yourself over the hump, and into a regular exercise routine:

Slow and Steady
Most people are so ready to work out, and so despise it, that they go at 100% in their first workout. Then they are too sore, or really injured to continue. They limp around with a general feeling of "See, I told you this sucked." So slow it down. Going at 80% will probably make you feel like you're being a slacker, but it is far more realistic. Do what you can ACTUALLY do, not what you want your body to be able to do...that takes work, and time. After a week or two, you'll find you are able to do more and can up your endurance, weights, or intensity.

Isolate the Right Muscles
Ok, so this is another example of how people can injure themselves. If you are intending to workout a particular area, say for example, your biceps (the "make a muscle" muscle), you will probably do curls. But you need to have good form, and the right weight. If you begin to curl your arm, by swinging your body to get the arm up - no good. That means that you aren't lifting the weight with your bicep, but with other parts of your body. At this point, you should slow down, lower the weight you are lifting, or perhaps you have hit your max on this exercise. Also, don't collapse. If you are doing leg lifts, don't lift with all your might and then drop your legs to the ground. Don't lift a weight up high, only to let it swing down to a rest position. Control the body, up and down. This will prevent injury, strengthen your core, and isolate the muscles you are really targeting.

Stop Making Excuses
We all give a million reasons why we can't do something, but at some point we need to accept that these reasons are just excuses. No money? Working out is FREE. Sure you could join a gym, or do awesome workouts like P90X. You could go to a yoga class, or buy weights to use at home. These are all wonderful, structured tools to enhance your workouts - but they are not the end. You can workout in your neighborhood, take walks/jogs, go hiking, hop on a bike path. You can get free videos from the library, or simply increase your movement by taking the stairs, walking to the store, or doing sit ups or jumping jacks instead of laying on the couch while watching TV. No time? The funny thing about committing to a workout routine is that there is always time. Walk on your lunch break, or after dinner with the kids, put your laptop on a stationary bike and multitask, get up a little earlier in the morning, or look at exercise programs like Slim in 6 (minutes) or 10 minute trainer. For more information about these programs go to Too tired or have an injury? There are always exercises that can be done despite any injury. I'm a nurse, so I know that if people with spinal cord injuries work out every day, or my cancer patients still find the energy, that this is really just an excuse. Work with a professional to find activities that work for you. Try swimming or yoga if you have joint issues, etc. About being too tired, the truth is that exercise increases your stamina and makes you feel energized. Is there an excuse you keep repeating to yourself? Submit it here and I'll help you find a solution!

Be My Buddy
Getting in to a regular routine takes habit, but sticking to that habit requires support and structure. Don't just say "I'm going to work out again," make a schedule that says I will do THIS today. I like p90X because it tells me exactly what I am doing every day for 90 days. Today I worked on my chest/back muscles, and tomorrow I'll be doing yoga! If you don't know how to make a schedule, work with a coach or a trainer. Get a buddy: have a friend who can hold you accountable, and be a support. Work out together, or just connect with people (online or in person) who will encourage you to work out today. Research shows that when people have a buddy, they stick to their schedules better, and are more likely to reach their goals.

So find a buddy and get started. Watch your form, and prevent injuries by listening to your body and not trying to get years of not exercising into one workout! Develop a plan, an work through your excuses. If you need help with that, there are plenty of people out there willing to help. Some for free like a church group, or at a community center, or at your work, and some are professional services, like coaches, trainers, and professionals like at who offer workshops or one on one support. Good luck!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making a lot of healthy food when time and money are both on a BUDGET!

Now, you want to cook a healthy meal for you and your family, but your time and money are both on a budget. Our grandparents knew how to stretch a meal, but as we got busier, worked longer hours, and convenience foods became more...convenient we forgot this information. Here are some tips, refreshers, and suggestions!

Adding Veggies
Ironically, most of us are wondering how to get more vegetables into our diets, and yet adding veggies to meals is a great way to get food to stretch. Nothing wastes money like throwing out food that's about to go bad, and usually because you don't know what to do with it. Chop the veggies up and add them to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, homemade pizza, eggs for a nice veggie omelets, or on top of rice or pasta as a stir "fry" or pasta primavera.

Crockpot Cooking
Throwing a bunch of stuff into a crock pot is another great way to not only make a delicious, healthy meal, but also to throw it together in the morning and have dinner already ready for you at night! There are free crockpot recipes online, including low fat recipes, low sodium meals, diabetic recipes, vegetarian meals, and even crockpot cooking for 2 people (when you don't want a lot of left overs). It is also a healthy way to cook, and slow cooking keeps the vitamins and antioxidants happy and full of power! Also, if you think crock pots are for soups and stews only, think again. I make breads, sauces, desserts, meatloaf, and pot "pies." Try it!

Cheaper Meats
Another way to stretch food is to buy meats still on the bones. Now, while it DOES take time to get it off the bone, that just means that you should use this time wisely. I spent $4.99 on chicken breast on the bone with skins (4 large pieces). I took the skins off since that is where most of the saturated fats are (bad fats), and cut the meat off the bones into nice pieces. I then massaged them with yogurt butter (half the calories of regular butter, but just as tasty)...and who doesn't like a massage? Then I sprinkled on salt, pepper, and paprika, and baked them. While that was cooking I boiled up some water and tossed in the bones with the scrap meat on them. Unless you are a professional chef, you're not going to get that close to the bones so there is always a little meat still on it. When that was cooked, I removed them from the water and added some carrots that were getting soft, celery, a left over onion, garlic and seasoning for a few minutes. While it cooks you remove all the left over bits of chicken from the bones - it's more then you think. I got a little more than a cup. You add the chicken to the broth and throw in any left over little half bags of frozen veggies in your freezer. You can add rice or pasta (I used 1 cup of whole wheat elbows). Lastly, don't forget to remove the chicken from the oven and serve with rice and salad or cooked veggies! So for about 7 bucks I have dinner for my family, left over chicken for sandwiches, or on top of a salad or potato, AND enough soup for the next few days - oh, and I didn't waste my money by throwing out all the veggies in the fridge! Also, because I cooked two meals at once, I definitely saved time:) You can also freeze some and have a healthy pre-cooked meal to make on some crazy-busy day later on.

Last tip: add a can of beans! These lovely little legumes (fancy word for things in the bean family) add color, protein, are low in fat, high in nutrients, and fill up tummies for about $1. They are great in soups, salads, rice, pasta dishes, and can be added to ground beef to make it stretch in all kinds of dishes like tacos, lasagna, stuffed peppers, burgers, or casseroles. You can also use them for one of your meatless meals! Happy eating:)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Healthy eating for kids - of all ages!

So have you ever wondered if your kids are eating well? Have you convinced yourself that fast food is better then no food? Or have you gone the other way and gone all organic all the time? Where's the middle ground and is healthy eating for kids the same as it is for adults?

If your answers to these questions are yes, yes, maybe, yes and no...then you'll like what is to follow. I plan on regularly including posts that address the many questions parents and caregivers have about healthy eating for kids. To start today: Fat.

Children need varying amounts of fat from infancy through the teenage years. In fact, adults do to, but thanks to the nutritional trend of the low/non-fat everything market we often avoid fat altogether or get confused and eat all the wrong kinds of fats. So here's the breakdown: we NEED to eat fat. It is an important source of long-burning energy (unlike starches and sugars), helps your feel full longer, helps provide learning brains with the nutrition it needs to develop, it helps maintain stable hormone levels (and that's good for everybody!), and helps bring the vitamins A, D, E, and K into your body - that can't do it without fat!, and also some fats are called ESSENTIAL, meaning that you must eat them since the body can't make them. These fats are important to having a healthy heart, immune system, in helping your body heal itself, and preventing the development of cancers. How do you add more essential fatty acids? Flax seed pancakes are a big hit here, pine nuts in veggie pasta, avacados (good fats galore), pumpkin seeds, nuts and olive oil.

Ok, well what about the bad fats? Those are the fats that come from heavily processed foods and animal fats. No, you don't have to be a vegetarian, but Americans definitely can reduce their meat intake simply by adding 1 or 2 meatless meals to the family menu. Sure, you can add some tabouli stuffed peppers to the family meals, but if you have picky eaters - or skeptical partners, you might want to try something less "different." I take a well loved meat meal, and switch the meat ingredient for something else. Lasagna with ground beef can become veggie lasagna, use meat substitutes like ground crumbles (BOCA or YVES brands), or even mushroom slides for a meaty texture. Do the kids like mac and cheese and hot dogs, but you dislike the idea of all those animal "parts" and nitrites - try tofu pups, smart dogs from Lightlife (our family's favorite). We also like to add peas or edamame (soy beans) to up the protein/veggie points. My one year old, and picky-eater hubby like these options and they are so good that it doesn't occur to any one that the meat's even missing!

I like making smoothies for my Little One, giving her all the good fat and protein that comes in yogurt or milk. I personally drink Shakeology everyday as it has lots of Omega-3,6, and 9 fatty acids, good protein, vitamins, and is gluten free. It keeps down my cravings for sugars and carbs - so there are less times I have to tell my daughter she shouldn't want to eat what mommy's eating! Habits are easier to make then to break, so start them now - before the age of three if possible.

Last note: high heat destroys essential fatty acids, so cook low - no deep frying with oils, and add seeds and nuts raw on top of foods after cooking. Also, fish oils are high in essential fatty acids, and have less cholesterol, and can even prevent heart attacks. Bake fish sticks for little ones, and bread the outside with crushed crackers or rice crispies. Give them something to dip it in - My little one lives dipping fish in apple sauce, don't ask. She also loves soynut butter on sandwiches or waffles, and it's full of good fats. It's also a great alternative for tree nut-free homes or schools. Try some of these tips for yourselves or your families.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

P90X challenge!

So I've been talking about fighting weight gain after the holidays by prevent it before it happens by having a plan! Have a support system, and of course, Have FUN.

Yes, I said fun! I've been doing beachbody workouts for years now and I love them. I've done P90x, turbofire, Insanity (yes, it IS insane - but I lost 14 lbs, so whatever), and something called HipHopAbs:) If you've seen the ads on tv for P90X but weren't sure, I can tell you it's wonderful. It's fun, it's challenging, the host is too cheesy not to love and adore, and he NEVER makes you want to hate him:) If you’ve been wanting to start P90X now’s the time. Join the P90X Challenge which will be starting Dec 12th. As a beachbody coach I can help you with the workouts, give you support, and offer nutritional support and you can even win up to $500 per day. Seriously.

Save $75 and get real results -- get stronger and healthier!! The P90X BeachBody Challenge gives you a structured workout, healthiest meal of the day with Shakeology, and the opportunity to earn money.

Purchase by December 5th. Start working out by December 12th, and you'd be working out with me - virtually of course. Send me an email if you are interested or click on any of the banners on this page. Oh, and if you are starting to feel the panic of holiday shopping, consider buying a work out program for the one you love, a bag of shakeology, a membership, or just a gift certificate! Easy, healthy, and a wonderful holiday tradition of supporting the health and wellness of those you love. xoxox for more information or email me

Monday, November 21, 2011

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

      So I had a nice visit with my chiropractor today. If you've never tried it, and your insurance covers it - go. My lower back has been in spasms for 3 days now with sciatic pain down the front and back of my left leg. I finally went to the Chiro and she twisted me gently into a pretzel, and then POP! All better. No pain. Thank you nice lady.
     Now before all this magic happened I was sitting in the waiting room and there was a poster saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I had to reflect on it while I waited, and I began to think of what I could have done to better maintain my healthy back status. Well, better ergonomics is obvious - I need to lift Amaya with my legs, bend at the hips less, and sit at my computer WAY less. I also need to drink more water, stretch daily, and keep exercising.
      We all know what we should do, so what keeps us from doing it - better yet, what causes us to do what we do do? Well, thanksgiving is an easy example - habits, tradition, pressure from friends and family, and simply wanting to do what we want to do (namely eating until turkey comes out our ears, and then promptly doing nothing for the next few hours). Ok, but what about every other day of the year?
       In order to stop the cycle of fighting with ourselves, and everyone around us, we need to stop fighting at all. Getting a healthy, balanced self comes directly from having healthy, balanced thoughts. SO, make new traditions - do a turkey fun-run/walk every year! Develop new habits: When people ask to bring a dish, ask them to bring sides (less desserts means less temptations AND less pressure from the hosts to "please eat more! I can't keep it all!" Develop healthier pressures with friends and family: instead of showing your love by stuffing them full of high calorie, low nutrition goodies, show your love by stuffing them full of fresh, colorful, healthful, delicious dishes! Lastly, if you are super stubborn, have low self-control, or generally just dig your heels in when someone tries to tell you what to do - change your thoughts, and your body will follow. Instead of wanting to eat poorly and do nothing, WANT to eat well, want to feel good after you eat, want to improve your digestion, mood, and outlook by exercising during the holidays!
      Make a list. A mental list is ok, or go crazy and write it out - but make a list of the reasons you haven't done what you should do over the holidays or at get-togethers, and then re-frame the problem so that you can develop a positive thought process about that problem. Then, when that situation arises you will be prepared with your new healthful, balanced thoughts! Good luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pre-thanksgiving wellness?

       My name is Kasha and I'm a holistic nurse, and mamma of one super awesome one year old! I wanted to start this blog because of all the people I talk to about life, the universe, and everything- people who want to know more about how they can live healthy in this unhealthy world. I will be posting stories, advice (your following it is entirely up to you), and general thoughts about holistic living, finding balance, and about good solid nutritional information.
       So what makes me qualified to do this? I'm an APRN, I have a PhD, I'm certified in advanced holistic nursing, I've taught nutrition to college students, families, and patients for years, and I'm a beachbody coach. Does this make me qualified, I don't really know - but I do know that it shows that I have lots of experience talking to people about wellness, that I've probably made mistakes and learned from them, and that I have a true passion for the topic.
        My post for today is my thoughts on pre-thanksgiving wellness. So we all know that thanksgiving is just around the corner. Basically we all decide as a people to abandon our diet and exercise plans starting on Thanksgiving. Some of us wantonly abandon all hope of eating well and exercising until January first, and others of us just schizophrenically binge, starve/fast/exercise, binge, repeat.  As a healthcare professional, I can tell you that now is the time to make your action plan! When Auntie is pushing another helping of 'taters on to your plate and coating it with chocolate syrup and regret - that is NOT the time to decide what you want. Decide now how much you will eat, what you will eat, and how you will stick to your exercise routine. What will you say to family members that insist you must take a plate home of Thanksgiving-trauma? Focus on your triggers, your favorite holiday foods, and develop a plan of attack! For example, I love starchy yummy veggies and stuffing - all the sides. Well, offer to bring a side dish of your own so you can control the butter, cream, and salt content. Find healthy alternatives and bring that dish so you can at least have one dish you can feel comfortable with. Or plan to have only one ladle full and that you will fill up the rest of the plate with salad, unadulterated veggies, or lean meats. Eat a healthy snack before going to the party - yes, ruin your appetite! Drink plenty of water, and be sure to at least take a walk on the holiday. Lastly, get your exercise in early. You won't likely feel like it after dinner and merry making, so go early. If festivities are at your house, the morning is the perfect time to go and have some quiet time to de-stress before your crazy family and friends come over.
        In the end, be THANKFUL for the health you have, the air in and out, for the people around you, and that you have food to spare. Make less food this holiday and give more away! Take care of what you have and be grateful for your beautiful body and all the ways it helps you love, nurture, and care for the people in your life. I know I am:)