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Gym Rats News
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I have a new toy. Oh, boy, do I have a new toy! It’s not a boy toy, but it is a toy my boy turned me on to. It’s actually a new app for my iphone called Lose It! This thing is AWESOME! In a nutshell, it’s a glorified food journal and calorie counter. Now before you cry “UGH!” and click over to read the latest depressing headlines from some news web site, hear me out.

Lose It! has made eating healthy and losing weight FUN for me and my husband. Now, you have to understand, my husband has never counted a calorie in his life! And diets? Forget about it! Weight loss for him is more of a pleasant accident than a calculated event. But in the 5 days he has been using this little tool, he has lost 8 pounds!! Ha! I bet I have your attention now! And I have lost 2.5 pounds in 4 days.

Here’s how it works. After you download the app, you input your starting weight, your goal weight, and how many pounds a week you want to loose. The app calculates your daily caloric allotment and how long it will take you to reach your goal. Then you input everything you eat or drink throughout the day. The app has hundreds of food items already programmed in that you can browse, including supermarket brand foods, restaurant foods, and regular foods. All of these include caloric and nutrient information. You can also create foods that are not on the list and you can enter favorite recipes. It has a “My Foods” list of foods you have already entered so that you can quickly re-enter foods you eat often. In addition to calories, you can also track fat, cholesterol, carbs, dietary fiber, and protein. It has bar charts to track your daily and weekly calorie consumption and a line graph to track your weight loss progress (or regress).

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!! It also tracks your exercise and automatically deducts calories burned during exercise from your total calories consumed during the day to give you your net remaining calories. There are lots of pre-programmed exercises, and even includes things like house cleaning, yard work, and “sexual activity”! (That’s right. Now you can multi-task THAT, too!) You can adjust for duration and intensity on most exercises. The more you work out, the more calories you get to eat.

I really like this app for several reasons:

  1. It’s easy. The pre-programmed foods and exercises save a lot of time. The interface is very user friendly and only takes minutes to figure out. The fact that it is on your phone and, therefore, always with you is so convenient.
  2. It’s fun. Keeping that bar from crossing the line into the red zone can make it feel like a video game. And it’s fun to turn it into a competition with a friend.
  3. It’s flexible. It’s not just for dieters. You can use it to help you maintain your weight, keep your cholesterol in check, gain weight (for you body builder types), or just make sure you are eating healthy.

So here’s the deal. People who keep food journals are way more likely to lose weight, eat healthier, and achieve nutritional goals than those who don’t. That’s just a fact. It’s all about accountability. And after using this app for several days, I can tell you it has impacted my decision making. I went to a mexican food restaurant for lunch today and ordered a plate full of steamed veggies, grilled shrimp, and rice because I did not want to eat a ton of chips, some enchiladas, sour cream and guacamole and then end up with 12 calories left over for dinner! This thing is AWESOME!

The obvious downside to this is that it is an iphone app. So if you don’t own an iphone, you can’t use it. You can search the internet for a similar product. Unfortunately, I don’t know any personally to recommend and you lose the portability factor if it is on your computer. But if you can find something that you like, then it’s worth it. If you DO own an iphone, you absolutely should give this app a try. It’s free, so even better! (One caveat: according to a couple of reviewers, the developer sells your activity information, not your personal information, which is probably why they can offer it for free. Decide for yourself if that matters to you.) Believe me, it makes a difference if you see in black and white what those 3 slices of Pizza Hut supreme pan crust pizza will do to you! Click here to check it out on the itunes store.

Live Healthy. Live Well.


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My original plan for this blog was to follow up the evils of sugar with the evils of artificial sweeteners, according to the Skinny B’s. However, as I began to do a little research of my own, I discovered that raising the question of aspartame safety is roughly akin to raising the question of who shot JFK? Or where is Jimmy Hoffa’s body? Or what happened to the 2008 Detroit Lions? Conspiracy theories and conflicting data abound. (My money is on alien abductions with regard to the 2008 Lions.) As this is an issue in which I have great personal interest, and given that I don’t want to contribute to any urban myths, I want to take some time to research this a little more so that I can better represent the facts and/or issues.

So on to Plan B. Random Thoughts. If you missed RT 1, you can check the archives in January of 2008. Has it really been a year?!? Wow.

Antibiotics and Alcohol - According to Prevention magazine, it is unsafe to consume alcohol while on antibiotics. “Alcohol can interfere with the absorption of erythromycin or the efficacy of doxycycline. And with certain antibiotics or antifungals - like cefoperazone, ketoconazole, metronidazole, and tinidazole - even a sip of alcohol may lead to flushing, nausea, abdominal cramps, headache, low blood pressure, rapid heart-beat, and shortness of breath.” They also recommend avoiding alcohol while taking cough syrup and other OTC meds. Finally, they recommend keeping the bottle corked for at least 3 days after you finish taking your medicine. (Prevention, February 2009, p. 32)

Diet Myths Debunked - Health.com ran an article debunking what they consider to be the top 5 diet myths. Here is what they had to say: 1. Myth - Cutting carbs helps you loose weight. Truth - You need carbs for energy, however some are better than others. Consuming carbs at a level prescribed by low-carb diets can leave you fatigued, constipated, and irritable. 2. Myth - Diet foods help you drop pounds. Truth - they actually do the opposite. They may have less calories, but they are often loaded with unhealthy stuff like trans fats that have adverse effects on your body. The more processed “diet” foods you eat, the less whole foods you are probably eating. 3. Myth - The more you cut calories, the more weight you loose. Truth - That can actually hurt you. Reducing calories below about 1200 a day can wreak havoc on your metabolism and decrease muscle mass. The key is to make the most of the calories you do consume. 4. Myth - Dairy makes you fat. Truth - Combined with calorie control, dairy can actually double body-fat reduction and weight loss. The hormone calcitrol, which helps conserve calcium for stronger bones, also tells the body to burn more fat. 5. Myth - Brown equals whole-grain. Truth - caramel coloring can make a product look whole-grain. Read the label and reach for items where “whole-wheat” or “whole-grain” on top of the list. (Diet Solutions: 5 Common Diet Myths Debunked, Health.com)

Take Two Prayers and Call Me in the Morning - Hold on to your halos. Religion has a new BFF - Science. According to an article published on RD.com (Reader’s Digest), science has discovered that prayer can increase your lifespan, increase your odds of surviving surgery, and increase your heart health. Several studies have shown that “seven years is the increase in lifespan you can expect if you nurture your soul through prayer, faith and religious involvement.” (Hmmm . . . I think I’ve seen the number 7 floating around the Bible somewhere.) Also, you are “three times more likely to survive surgery than people with no spiritual grounding.” (Hmmm . . . 3, another number that often rears it’s head in Scripture.) (The Power of Prayer, RD.com)

A Few Stats from Shape Magazine - Here’s a few interesting numbers from the February edition of Shape Magazine. 1) 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day. 2) 16% of normal or underweight girls between 8 and 11 are trying to lose weight. 3) The average American woman weighs 165 pounds. 4) The average American model weighs 117 pounds. 5) 87% of normal-weight female college students want to be thinner. 6) 48% of American women want to have cosmetic surgery.

And One Final Thought from Me - As I type this, it’s cold outside. And tomorrow is supposed to be bitterly cold here, as in a low of 2!!! When the weather gets like this, that ancient hibernation instinct kicks in and all I really want to do is curl up under a blanket on the couch with a good book or a sudoku. Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep that exercise regimen going. Exercise will recharge your body when you are drained by winter’s cold. It will help stave off those winter pounds. It will help keep your body strong and healthy so it can fight all those winter germs and viruses. It will increase body temperature and metabolism. So don’t let the winter blues blow your work out routine. You will thank yourself come spring!

Live Healthy. Live Well.


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Of all the things we put into our bodies, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners are two of the most common and two of the most destructive. Now, if you were like me, I laughed out loud when I read the part about soda being “liquid Satan”. (Skinny B!$@# by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin) Then I cried out loud. I have a true affinity for soft drinks. Love that bubbly goodness! AND, I have a sweet tooth the size of Montana. I don’t think I am alone in this.

As such, I think we all know how hard it is to remove sugar from our diet. Anybody that has ever tried to give up sweets (especially us ladies) can relate to the term “Gone Postal”! But removing sugar from your diet is more than just ditching cookies. Check the labels in your pantry and fridge. Sugar, and it’s various highly processed forms, are in TONS of stuff: ketchup, pickles, bread, mayo, crackers, cereal, salad dressings, canned vegetables, soups, juice, yogurt, energy bars, soda, beer, frozen dinners, etc. According to the authors, “Sugar is like crack, and food manufacturers know that if they add it to their products, you’ll keep coming back for more.” (pp 27-28). They are so right. Sugar IS crack. If you doubt me, just give it up - right now - all of it - go ahead. Bueller? Bueller?

You get the picture. Allow me now to just rattle off some of what the authors say about the sweet stuff. I have not done my own research to confirm their findings, but they present adequate documentation and it matches up with what I know or believe to be true. So, I present it for your consideration.

“In its simplest form, (sugar) is the juice from a sugar cane plant. A plant - that seems benign, right? And it is, in moderation, ingested in its raw simplest form. But all the enzymes, fiber, vitamins, and minerals are destroyed during the refining process.” (p. 28).

“Refined sugar, a simple carbohydrate, has been linked to hypoglycemia, yeast overgrowth, a weakened immune system, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, enlargement of the liver and kidneys, increase of uric acid in the blood, mental and emotional disorders, dental cavities, and an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.” (pp. 28-29)

“Excess amounts (of sugar) are are stored in the liver as glycogen. But when the liver is too full, the excess amounts are returned to the bloodstream as fatty acids. Guess where those end up? Hips, stomach, thighs, and @$$.” (p. 29)

‘High fructose corn syrup is another bad@$$ that finds its way into tons of foods. (It) is processed more than sugar and is even sweeter. It has a negative, dramatic impact on our blood-sugar levels.” (p. 29)

“Diabetes and obesity are directly linked to eating refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup.” (p.29)

But even these Skinny B!$@#es are realistic. Their recommendation, and I concur, is not to give up the good stuff in life, but to substitute the nasty good stuff for healthy good stuff. Be warned: If you have never done this before, your body (and brain) WILL PROTEST this change in behavior. Your body is chemically addicted to these manufactured products. You must give yourself at least 2-4 weeks to allow for detoxification.

The authors provided a list of natural sweeteners and product brands that will allow you to enjoy life and not poison yourself in the process. Check these products out at your local Whole Foods or other natural food store. You can also search their recipe database for yummy treats that contain these sweeteners at www.wholefoodsmarket.com. Being the sacrificial person that I am, I am willing to “take one for the team” and try a few of the recipes I found on their site. I’ll get back to you later with my research data. Until then, here are the authors’ recommendations.

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Natural sweeteners - agave nectar, stevia, evaporated cane juice, Sucanat, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, Rapadura sugar, Turbinado sugar, raw sugar, beet sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and blackstrap molasses.

Product brands - Uncle Eddie’s, Tropical Source, Terra Nostra, Back To Nature, Country Choice, Paul Newman, Sun Flour Baking Co., and Alternative Baking Co. I also recommend Kashi.

There you have it. You can have your cake and eat it, too. Just watch those portions!

Live Healthy. Live Well.


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Immediately, you may be asking yourself, “What’s up with this title?” Well, it’s actually the title of a book I read recently by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. The subtitle is “A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!” (Emphasis on “though-love”. They can be rather frank.) Kim is a former model and holds a Masters of Science in Holistic Nutrition. Rory is a former agent for Ford Models and a “self-taught know-it-all.” I picked it up because a friend of mine read it and subsequently became a vegetarian. I saw that as a personal challenge. No book could possibly convince me to become a vegetarian. I am proud to say that my incisors are safe. (Those are the pointy teeth that God gave us to cut and tear through meat, as opposed to our molars which exist to chew plants.) However, it did cause me to cut back on the amount of meat that I eat.

Now I have to say up front that I can’t, in good faith, recommend the book because the ladies are, as the title would infer, quite profane. The other reason I can’t recommend it is that they are, first and foremost, animal rights activists and vegans. Now, there is nothing wrong with either of those. However, for purposes of this book, your good health takes a back seat to the rights of animals and they are trolling for political converts. Once I realized this, I had to take everything they said relative to the consumption of meat and animal products with a grain of salt. Finally, their focus is a little too external for me. There is a lot of emphasis on looks and skinniness. Good health should be more a matter of stewardship than vanity. Those caveats aside, the book is an entertaining read and full of some great nutritional advice. So I thought I would share some of the things from the book that I found interesting. Decide for yourself if you would like to read the whole book.

They begin the book with a general list of things that you should, absolutely and without question, give up. Their basic premise is that “healthy=skinny” and that you “can not keep eating the same s#!^ and expect to get skinny.” Here is what they have to say about their big no-no’s:

Cigarettes - “Cigarettes are for losers. They are so 1989.” They also destroy your taste buds and wreak havoc on your metabolism and body chemistry.

Alcohol - “Habitual drinking = fat-pig syndrome.” Beer “makes you fat, bloated and farty.” It also interferes with the digestive process and raises blood sugar levels.

Soft drinks - “Soda is liquid Satan. There is nothing in soda that should be put into your body.”

Coffee - Okay, I can’t even repeat what they say about coffee drinkers. They do allow for the occasional cup, but for those of you who require your daily cup (or 5) to get going, they have more than a few unpleasantries for you.

Junk Food - These are nothing but “laboratory-developed aromas, artificial flavors, chemical food colors, toxic preservatives, and heart-stopping hydrogenated oils. They will pitch a tent on your hips and camp out all year.”

Over the counter medicines - “Every time you take medicine, you interfere with your body’s natural ability to heal itself. If your nose is running, your body is trying to rid itself of something through your snot. But you, drama queen, take cold medicine to stop your booger flow.”

Sedentary lifestyle - “Give up the notion that you can be sedentary and still loose weight. You need to exercise, you lazy s#!%.” (All quotes found on pages 11-21 of the aforementioned book.)

I told you it was “tough love”. They don’t pull punches, but they can be quite humorous. I left out a lot of the profanity, too. They are quite colorful. Despite the delivery, I can’t really argue with the advice they lay down in this section of the book, with the occasional exception to that OTC meds section. I’m sorry, but if I haven’t been able to breathe for a week, then I am going to take something, ANYTHING, in order to get some oxygen! I figure oxygen deprivation is more fatal to my system than NyQuil! They do have a no non-sense, no excuses approach to healthy eating. And this is just the beginning. I’ll probably dedicate a couple of more blogs to their ideas because I found them to be both enlightening and challenging. They stepped on a few of my toes, and I’m sure they will step on a few of yours, too. But I hope you will view it as I did - a wake up call to carefully consider exactly what we are putting into our bodies and what the possible consequences may be.

Live Healthy. Live Well.


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As I discussed (or ranted) in an earlier blog, it’s becoming financially painful to eat healthy. So I thought I would share some of my meal ideas that attempt to combine good nutrition with lower cost. Since these are “compromise” meals, they are neither the healthiest meals nor the cheapest meals you can serve. They merely attempt to find a happy middle. So tighten up your apron strings and let’s get down to dinner!

Italian Night: Pasta and Salad - Drain one can of diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano then pour into your blender and blend 20 - 30 seconds or until smooth. Cook one package if whole wheat cheese tortellini according to directions (I like Buitoni) and drain. Pour sauce over pasta and heat through. Serve with a salad, such as a Ceaser’s Salad with Ken’s Steakhouse Light Ceaser dressing. Serves two adults.

Alternate - If you bought some nice chicken breasts on sale, trade out the tortellini for whole wheat spaghetti. Then, pan-saute the chicken breasts in olive oil and Italian spices.

Mexican Night: Veggie Chili - In a large pot, saute 1 chopped onion, 4 cloves chopped garlic, one chopped green bell pepper, and one seeded/chopped jalapeno in 1-2 Tbsp canola oil until tender. Dump in two cans of black beans drained and rinsed, two cans of diced tomatoes with juice, 1 1/2 cup water, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp cumin, and 1 tsp salt. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Dump in one can of drained corn and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve with cheese quesadillas or cornbread.

Stir-Fry Night - Cook up four servings of Texmati Brown Rice. (This is NOT minute rice. It takes 40 minutes or so to cook.) While that’s cooking, stir-fry in a wok (or saute in a pan) with a Tbsp of sesame oil a bag of Cascadian Farms Chinese Style Stir Fry veggies or Thai Style Stir Fry veggies. (Of course, any brand will work, but this brand is very good.) Throw in some teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and/or fish sauce. Serve veggies over rice.

Holiday Leftover Night: Turkey Tortilla Soup - A baked, whole turkey is healthy, easy to prepare, relatively cheap, and not just for the holidays. Cook one and serve it for dinner. Then, if you are willing to undergo the arduous task of de-boning the carcass, you will end up with a hefty amount of meaty tidbits just perfect for a pot of soup. AND it allows you to get 4 or 5 meals out of one bird. In a large pot, Pour 4 cups of chicken broth. Then dump in 2 Tbsp lime juice, one can of diced tomatoes with juice, one can of mild green chiles undrained, 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (fresh or dried), 1 Tbsp chili pepper, 1 Tbsp cumin, two whole green onions chopped, one can of black beans drained, and one can of corn drained. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add your turkey tidbits and simmer for 10 more minutes. Garnish with a sprinkle of shredded low-fat cheese, chopped fresh cilantro if you’ve got it, and just a few crumbled tortilla chips.

Easy Lunch: Good ole PBJ. To make it healthy, use whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, and Polaner’s All Fruit. Serve with carrot sticks and a glass of skim milk, soy milk, or rice milk.

Breakfast: Open-Faced Egg Sandwich - Toast one slice of whole wheat bread. Take one thick slice of tomato and put it on the bread. Salt and pepper, if desired. Scramble one egg or slice a boiled egg and place on top of tomato. Sprinkle a pinch of shredded low-fat cheese on top. Melt cheese in microwave or under broiler. Can be served as a regular sandwich with two slices of toast.

Well, there’s a few ideas. I hope you enjoy them. My budget is definitely feeling the pinch, but healthy eating is still a worthy goal, even when times are tough. If you have your own recipes or ideas, please share them and post them on the web site. I need some new ideas myself!

Live Healthy. Live Well.

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