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Archive for May, 2012

Adventures in Yosemite!

So, I know it’s been a little while since we’ve posted, but that’s because we’re in California! Kevin and I are spending the week in San Francisco for the American College of Sports Medicine conference. I presented some research yesterday, and now we’re exploring the city and of course, learning new stuff at the conference. I’ll put up some of the newest and most exciting research tomorrow! We wanted to show you guys our epic trip to Yosemite. I’ve never been there before and growing up in Illinois, I’m always so amazed by the splendor of mountains.

This was on the drive up. Gorgeous rolling hills!

Down in Yosemite Valley, just a short walk to the trailhead

 

Yosemite Falls. We climbed all the way to the top! It was gorgeous but arduous.

Endless stairs to the top of the falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Yosemite Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halfway up. Can you believe this view?

Only a few feet from the top!

 

 

Top of Yosemite Falls

At the top with the North Dome in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was such an incredible climb and definitely made me want to move to Cali! We’ll blog again soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the pictures!

-Sara and Kevin

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5 “Health Foods” that Aren’t Healthy

I know there’s a ton of information out there about what is a “healthy” diet, and advertising doesn’t help to clarify the situation at all. We get bombarded with images of “all natural”, sugar-free, and pictures of skinny people eating and drinking things we think will make us fitter, thinner and healthier. Unfortunately, many of these products don’t deliver what they promise, and instead may wreak havoc on your waistline. Here are the top 5 offenders (in my opinion):

1. Gatorade. This is my favorite product to poke fun at, not because their advertising is deceiving, but because of the way most of us react to it. Every Gatorade ad features professional athletes, extreme endurance runners, and fitness gurus pushing themselves to the max, and using Gatorade to achieve their incredible goals. And yet, who consumes a huge portion of their product? We do. Us 30 min run 3-5 times per week, average joes. Why? We know we aren’t Lance Armstrong or LeBron James, and yet some of us drink these products after every workout. Time for a little reality check; Gatorade (or other sports drinks) are a great way to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates if you’ve depleted them.  Working out for 2-3 hours at a time in the sun means you’re very dehydrated, have low muscle glucose, and in need of sodium and potassium. If you just ran 2 miles on a treadmill, water will do just fine. For those of you who are interested in exercising to lose weight, Gatorade is a great way to negate all the hard work you’ve just accomplished. Put the bottle down and just have some water. It’s free!

2. Balance Bars. These are one of those energy bars that fall in between a few categories, and may be successful at tricking you into thinking they are incredibly healthy. (I used to eat one everyday!) The packaging has a runner on the front with a 40-30-30 graphic that suggests scientific research has gone into the bar (which it probably has). However, each bar has 200 calories, 17 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of fat. Just for a point of reference, a Twix Bar has 286 calories, 28 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of fat. So, the balance bar is better, but not by much.

3. Vitamin Water. How could something called vitamin water be bad for you? Well, it isn’t necessarily bad, just not as good as they claim. Each bottle of vitamin water contains 120 calories, and 32 grams of sugar (more than the Twix Bar). That’s a ton of sugar for something you’re just sipping on to get some vitamins. You’re much better of drinking water with lemon and taking a multi-vitamin every morning.

4. Diet Soda. You may have heard about this one. There are several reports and publications liking regular diet soda consumption to an increase in metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, and weight gain. Here’s a nice article reviewing some of those studies. The evidence is controversial; some claim extraneous factors led to weight gain, and that not enough factors were controlled to draw accurate conclusions. What I do think is interesting is that while the relationship between diet soda use and weight gain is weak, there is convincing evidence that diet soda doesn’t lead to weight loss. (at least not in the long-term). Additionally, the artificial sugars and dyes used in soda have been linked to cancer and other digestive issues. If you can, try switching to water with lemon, or put some natural fruit juice in sparkling mineral water.

5. 100 calorie packs of anything. Honestly, I think these are just dumb. I bought them quite a bit in college thinking I would be able to regulate portions better and feel satisfied from a little treat, but it never worked. I would take one pack of 100 calorie cookies to school with me, eat another at dinner, and a third before bed; each time feeling completely unsatisfied with my meager portion of fake food. If you want to eat, then you should eat something whole, natural and real. Yes, it will contain more calories, but it will leave you actually feeling satisfied and you won’t need to eat so much.

What foods do you consider “diet” or “healthy” foods? Has your opinion of what’s healthy changed over time?

Featured!

Exciting news! I (Sara) was featured as an expert source on foxnews.com! Come check it out! (Just FYI, the picture in the article of the incredibly ripped looking girl is definitely NOT me… too bad.:) )

Don’t forget to stop by amazon and check out our ebook! We really appreciate your support.

Changing the Way We Think About Exercise

If I mention the words “exercise program,” what comes to mind? Do you think about joining a gym, sweating it out in a spinning class or maybe training for a marathon? Most people associate exercise with something hard, sweaty and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I came across this article in the New York Times about a new book written by Gretchen Reynolds, one of their columnists. I loved her idea so much, I thought I’d tell you about it. Her book is called “The First 20 Minutes” and details the most current research about how long and how hard we should exercise.

She clearly defines how much exercise is required for health, as compared to how much exercise we need to become more fit (faster, stronger, more competitive). “The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in the first 20 minutes of being active.” Reynolds explains.

Without being evangelical, I wanted people to understand that this is a book about how little exercise you can do in order to get lots and lots of health benefits. Two-thirds of Americans get no exercise at all. If one of those people gets up and moves around for 20 minutes, they are going to get a huge number of health benefits, and everything beyond that 20 minutes is, to some degree, gravy.”

I’ve seen this so much in research; just walking 20 minutes a day lowers your risk (by quite a bit) for not only heart disease and diabetes, but cancer and depression as well. Our bodies were just made to move around during the day, and our health benefits tremendously when we do. When encouraged to exercise, I think most people feel pressure to join a gym, lift weights or start running, and perhaps it seems either too expensive, too time consuming or just too hard. Reynolds disagrees with that idea, “If people want to be healthier and prolong their life span, all they really need to do is go for a walk. It’s the single easiest thing anyone can do. There are some people who honestly can’t walk, so I would say to those people to try to go to the local Y.M.C.A. and swim.” Walking is so easy and so cheap, and the best part is that you don’t have to get 20 minutes in all at once. Plenty of research supports the fact that if you walk 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 in the evening, you still reap the same benefits.

Reynolds also discusses the importance of moving around during the day, and not going too long without standing up. For more information on the dangers of sitting, check out one of our previous posts.

Others who aren’t big proponents of exercise feel that they put in plenty of time at the gym, but don’t lose much weight right away, and think it isn’t worth their time. “I think a lot of people look to exercise to help them lose weight, and when they don’t lose weight immediately with exercise, they quit. They return to the couch, and they basically never move again. What is lost in that is that fitness is almost certainly more important than fatness,” says Reynolds. Exercise, especially moderate exercise, may not lead to large weight loss if not coupled with a reduced calorie diet. I think so many people struggle here because you feel so great about all that exercise you just did, and then you drink a 200 calorie Gatorade, completely negating the caloric deficit.

I loved this quote:

If someone starts an exercise program and improves his fitness, even if he doesn’t lose an ounce, he will generally have a longer life and a much healthier life. It would be nice if people would look at exercise as a way to make themselves feel better and live longer and not necessarily as a way to make themselves skinnier.”

How do you view exercise? Is it a way to stay thin, a way to be healthy, or both?

-Sara

 

 

Stages of Change

Hey guys! Here’s a section from our book about how to negotiate changing your habits when  you’re in a relationship. Enjoy!

“For most couples, seeing eye-to-eye on health and fitness is something you dream about, but not really a practical reality. You may like to read articles about diet and vegetables, but your partner is only interested in hitting the gym. Or, perhaps fitness has never been part of your relationship, but as you become more interested in a life change, you’re hoping your partner will be excited about changing with you.  In order to make this transition as easy as possible, it will be helpful to understand how willing your partner is to change and what methods will be most helpful in ensuring the two of you change together. In this section, we’ll teach you about the 4 stages of change and what strategies are most effective in communicating with a partner at each stage.  This theory was originally published by Prochaska et al in 1992, and the strategies we discuss are based on a paper published by Zimmerman et al in the American Family Physician Journal.

T he Stages of Change model shows that most people slowly change their behavior over time, instead of just having that “aha” moment. True change in one life takes time and is not a linear progression. Relapses are almost guaranteed to occur and actually become a piece of the process. The Stages of Change model describes 4 stages along to way to making a life change; pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation and action.  In the pre-contemplation stage, a person has no intent or desire to change. They don’t think the statistics apply to them and they don’t think there is any reason to live their life differently. In the contemplation stage, a person will begin to weight the benefits and costs of changing their habits. They may see the merit in diet or exercise, but giving up their lifestyle will seem like a loss. In the preparation stage, a person is getting ready to make a big change. They may test out smaller changes such as buying a pair of walking shoes or shopping for low-fat items in the grocery store. Finally, the big leap is the action stage. This person has weighed the pros and cons, done the proper preparation and has decided to jump in and live life differently.

It is critical to understand where your partner is in the stages of change before you expect a significant alteration in their behavior. If they aren’t even contemplating change, then giving them goal setting tips probably isn’t your best course of action. The most effective way to help your partner change their lifestyle right along with you is to match your interventions with their stage. So how do you do that?

The best thing you can do is to listen. Ask your partner how they feel about diet, exercise or even their own health and then listen to what they have to say. More than likely, they’ll let you know exactly where they are just by their answer. Here’s what to listen for:

If they are in the…. They might say….
Pre-contemplation Stage “All that research doesn’t apply to me”

“It’s impossible for me to lose weight”

“I’m fine the way I am”

In this stage, your partner won’t think change is necessary at all. They don’t think advice applies to them and altering their lifestyle is not something they are interested in.

 

Contemplation Stage “I know I should work out, but I just don’t have time”

“I’d like to eat better, but I just hate the taste of vegetables”

Your partner will be receptive to the benefits of diet and exercise, but they feel that the cost (whether it be money, time, or taste) is just too much

 

Preparation Stage “I’ll try walking once a week with you”

“I guess some more vegetables would be nice”

Your partner may be willing to try out small changes that don’t seem too intimidating

 

Action Stage “Alright, let’s do it”

Good idea! I’ll challenge you to see who loses the most weight!”

In the action phase, your partner is truly ready to make a big life change

How to be Manly on a Diet

Can you really maintain your manly credibility on a diet? I will testify to the fact that if you truly strive to eat healthy, the legitimacy of you Y chromosome will take a few shots. Don’t believe me?  Ok, next time you go out with the guys, order the fresh green salad with salmon and low fat dressing on the side with a glass of ice water……….that’s what I thought.

So how do you try to lose weight while still maintaining your masculinity? Here a few things that worked for me.

Talk up your testosterone:

First thing you have to do is make it publicly known to your friends that you care about what you put into your body. You’re going to want to address this as a performance issue; every man can get behind this. Whatever your cup of tea is:  weightlifting, running, triathlons, martial arts or vinasea yoga, let people know what your goal is and that a proper diet is pivotal to your success. This brings forth manly thoughts of determination and desire to be physical, which will strike a chord with every guy and they will get behind you.

Having a Drink:

Next comes the booze.  There is nothing wrong with ordering a light beer and water; this way you are still having a drink and hydrating to go with it. Or, volunteer to be the designated driver.  Trust me, this will make you popular. One great excuse for passing up the booze Friday or Saturday night is having a planned athletic event the next morning. For me, it’s a race because I still consider myself a runner despite everything else I do.  Not a runner?  No problem!  Tell your friends that you’re maxing out on bench in the morning; trust me, they will buy into that.

Football Sunday:

This is a problem I encounter a lot; friends invite me over to their house for a day of football or just a cook out, but they don’t follow my regiment when it comes to food. Everything bacon wrapped, extra cheese, beer, fried, ranched covered is what is served to me. First, I try to bring a dish, not just an appetizer but something that will count as real food. On top of that, I make it something that’s actually good.  There is no way you’re reaching over the extra large pizza for goat cheese salad. Try my healthy pizza recipe or make it a pasta salad and chalk it up to carbo loading. The next trick, and probably the best, is to host the party at your own house. It’s your turf, your food and so you can just provide all the crap that they want and make your own food to suit your needs. Couple that with my other techniques listed above and you maintain your man credibility.

Let me know how it goes this week!

-Kevin

Benefits of Juicing

 

image from http://www.lifestyledivine.com

So, it’s official; we’re juicers. I honestly never thought we would take the plunge, but it’s really been incredible how our dietary behaviors have changed since we started this blog. Information is incredibly powerful and persuasive and the more we learn about the power of food, the more our weekly grocery trip is altered. The journey to the juicer really began by watching the documentary Hungry for Change. Every nutritionist and physician interviewed on that film not only touted the benefits of a very vegetable heavy diet, but they sang the praises of juicing. Honestly, I kind of just rolled my eyes. I didn’t really know much about juicing except for those infomercials at 3 am where an older couple puts whole apples and celery into the Jack Lalane juicer. My first question was:

So what is a juicer and how does it work?

A juicer is this really fancy (and potentially expensive!) machine that can extract the juice from just about any fruit or vegetable. I was surprised at how much juice you can get from things ilke swiss chard, celery and strawberries. Basically you just press the fruit or vegetable against a spinning blade and filter, and all the pulp, seeds, rind, skin etc. is pumped out to the side while the juice gets drained

This is our juicer. We got it from Wal-mart for about $50

through the filter and into your glass.

What are the benefits of juicing?

Here is where I think a little research goes a long way. If you google juicing you’ll find a ton of pretty “out there” claims about the benefits. You may be lead to believe it’s magical; “juicing gives you perfect skin,” “juicing removes all toxins from your body” “juicing restores perfect health” are just some of the things you’ll come across. Regarding juicing’s magical properties, I do want to bust two myths I commonly hear about juicing.

  1. Juicing is better for you than eating the vegetables whole because the juice is easier to digest. There really isn’t any evidence that this is the case. Your stomach is really good at what it does and we were built to digest vegetables, even leafy ones. We don’t benefit from having our food “pre-chewed” by a juicer.
  2. Juicing removes toxins. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any scientific evidence I could find that suggests that juicing removes toxins from the body. The liver and kidney should be very effective at removing harmful toxins, but many vegetables and fruits are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, which are incredibly beneficial.

Why Juicing is still awesome

For me, it’s a very effective way to eat way more phytonutrients that I would if I tried to rely on whole vegetables. I know how important veggies are for me, and yet when I put them on my plate at dinner time, I find myself still pushing them around like I did when I was 10. No way am I going to be munching on kale, swiss chard, or celery all day, but shove them all in some juice and they go down without a problem.

The other great benefit of juicing is that it takes the place of other processed foods. If I have a big glass of vegetable and fruit juice after dinner, I’m not hungry for dessert or snacks. Instead, I’ve fed my body and incredible cocktail of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients I can’t get anywhere else.

As far as the “magical” properties of juicing go, I do think my skin has gotten clearer, and I like the energy I have when I drink a lot of fresh juice, but I’m not convinced that it’s a life altering experience just yet.

Have you ever juiced? What did you think?

-Sara

For more information about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, come check out our ebook! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007VI58SI

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