Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Losing Weight without Losing your Breath


Losing weight is never easy. Once you have accepted this fact with grace, you are on your way to success. Combined diet and exercise are key to successful weight loss. However, there are few simple changes you can incorporate in your everyday life to help you along the way. Try them!

1. Cook your own food

Cooking your own food will often result in a healthier meal instead of going out to eat. Besides, you must be on your feet to cook, at least 30-40 minutes at any given time to prepare the meal and clean up. The benefits are two-fold.

2. Wear heels

Three times a week, I wear the highest heels I own. My calves and thighs thank me at the end of the day.

3. Do things by hand and don’t ask for help

“The cook never washes up after him/herself.” In my opinion, you are missing out on burning quite a few calories more. Wash your own dishes, vacuum, clean the table. Those extra minutes on your feet are extra energy (calories) you may not need.

4. Sleep like a Belizean ;)

When you sleep less than four hours of sleep over time, your metabolism slows. Anywhere between 7 and 9 hours will help to keep your metabolism peaked. Make those 7-9 hours QUALITY sleep. A recent study showed that the quality of one’s sleep directly affects what types of foods we choose the day to follow.

5. Wear a pedometer

You don’t need an expensive one. The cheapest you can find is a great investment (about $30). Make short term goals for yourself weekly. Every week, aim for more steps until you reach the 10000 step mark. When you’ve achieved that goal, maintain it!

6. Move like you’re late!

Whether it is walking to your car, going for a walk, walking to the grocery store, walk with purpose!

7. Break your Fast!

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Throughout the night, you are in FASTING mode. Glycogen stores from your liver are used to sustain life until you wake up. Having breakfast sends a signal to your brain indicating that the fast is broken. At this point, you start burning fat calories doing regular day to day activities. Two of my favorite breakfasts (I eat one or the other every morning) are: 2 egg white with 1 slice of low sodium turkey and a cup of light vanilla soy milk OR 1/3 cup dried rolled oats cooked with 2/3 cups fat free milk, 1/3 cup water. I add ¼ cup frozen unsweetened berries and 1 tbsp wheat germ for flavor and added B vitamins and folate.

8. Hour of Power

Spend the last five minutes of every hour (set your phone alarm) up and moving around. At the end of the day you will have at least 40 minutes of physical activity you didn’t have to work extra hard to obtain. Try it!

9. Stand Straight

Good posture not only makes you look taller and leaner, but it helps strengthen your abdominal muscles too.

10. Chew gum

The act of chewing itself burns calories. Added bonus: it keeps you from eating just because you may be bored.
11. Drink while you cook

Have you noticed that sometimes you are full by the time you are finished cooking dinner. Well, that’s often because you mindlessly graze while you cook, taste-testing this and that, here and there. Research shows that eating while you cook adds more calories than actually eating. If you drink (100% juice, water, crystal light, or sip a glass of wine) you tend to avoid “just because” eating.

12. Beware of sugar

Sugar triggers your body to release insulin, which can lead to the excess being stored as fat. Sugar also increases cravings for more sugar later in the day and night.

13. Drink more H2O

The more water you drink, the more hydrated you become; the more hydrated you become, the higher your metabolism will be. It’s as simple as that.

14. Take the long way

At work, at the grocery store, at the mall, wherever you are, take the long way. Park far, walk to the grocery store instead of driving, at work, take the long way to the restroom, take the stairs.

15. Go on dates

Studies show that women tend to order foods with fewer calories when they are on a date compared with when they eat with other women.

16. Snack well, snack often

High protein snacks are your best bet. If you do choose carbs as a snack, try adding a protein to it. Snacking keeps your metabolism up. Being prepared with snacks is also key. It saves you a trip to the vending machine. My favorite snacks: fibre-one bars, nuts (any kind), home-made trail mix, banana and peanut butter, crackers and cheese, ½ PB&J sandwich.

17. Cut your lunch break by 10 minutes

After you’ve eaten, save an extra 10 minutes of your time and head for a 10 minute walk.

18. Eat! Choose wisely

The more times you eat in a day, the faster your metabolism will be. Instead of calling them breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, call them snacks. What works best for me is snacking 6 times a day instead of meal breaks.

19. Eat while you drink

Alcohol paves the way for overeating. Snack before or during going out for drinks.

20. Sit up instead of laying down

While watching tv, reading a book, or online, sit up! You will burn double the calories just by sitting up.

21. Mindless eating can be dangerous

While watching tv, reading, surfing the net, or driving, avoid snacks. These are breeding grounds for mindless grazing and excess calorie consumption.

22. Eat your fibre

Most people eat just the flesh of a baked potato or an apple and discard the peel not realizing that the bulk of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber come from the peel alone. Most people get only about half the recommended intake of fibre everyday. Fiber not only fills you up quicker but it helps to keep you full longer.

23. Turn up the heat

Some research shows that spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism.

24. Destress and relax

When your stress levels increase, cortisol is released. Cortisol is a natural steroidal hormone released from the adrenal gland. While a rise in cortisol in the bloodstream can be somewhat beneficial, prolonged stress allows for prolonged high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. This has negative effects on the body including but limited to: increase in blood pressure, reduced immunity, and increased abdominal fat deposits.

25. Eat fruit later in the day

I have found that having fruit or fruit juice in the morning hours increase my cravings for sugar later in the day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You ARE What You Eat

We are what we eat. We've all heard it, but most of us probably don't quite believe it. After all, you've had french fries and didn't sprout french fry antennae. So we're not really what we eat ... are we?

We are. It's every bit as true as it is hard to see. Just as our homes are made from lumber without looking like trees, our bodies are made from the nutrients we extract from foods without resembling those foods. The nutritional content of what we eat determines the composition of our cell membranes, bone marrow, blood, and hormones. Consider that the average adult loses roughly 300 billion cells to old age every day and must replace them. Our bodies are literally manufactured out of the food we consume.

That's why what we put in them is of utmost importance — and why "clean food" is an urgent priority and "junk" food is neither cute nor innocuous. In short, our bodies are only as clean as the food we feed them.

What difference does that make? Nothing less than this: Our forks — and our feet — are the master levers of medical destiny. Let me explain.

Before 1993, a list of the leading causes of death in the United States included heart disease, cancer, and stroke. But in that year, J. Michael McGinnis, MD, and William Foege, MD, changed this paradigm when they published "Actual Causes of Death in the United States" in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which looked at the causes of these diseases.
They concluded that fully half the annual deaths — roughly a million — were premature and could've been postponed by modifying behaviors, including smoking, diet and exercise, alcohol consumption, use of firearms, sexual behavior, motor vehicle crashes, and illicit drug use. Smoking and poor eating and exercise habits alone accounted for 700,000 premature deaths in 1990.

In 2004, a group of scientists at the CDC revisited this issue in JAMA and came to the same conclusion. This time, however, the toll from eating badly had gone up, due to obesity and diabetes.

Then, last summer, CDC scientists published a paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine analyzing records of more than 23,000 German adults enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC) and investigated four behaviors: Are you eating well? Are you a healthy weight? Are you physically active? Do you smoke?
Those with four good answers (eating well, body mass index below 30, active, not smoking), compared with those with four bad answers (not eating well, BMI above 30, not active, and smoking), were 80 percent less likely to have any major chronic disease. (Imagine if a pill could reduce our risk of dying prematurely from any cause by 80 percent!)

You have doubtless heard of nature (genes) versus nurture (environment) — but this shows that lifestyle is so powerful, we can use it to nurture nature, or influence our genes. Various studies have shown this, but Dean Ornish, MD, and his colleagues have produced the most compelling results. Assigning men with prostate cancer to a "clean living" intervention that included a wholesome, plant-based diet; regular physical activity; and stress management, they demonstrated a marked reduction in the activity of genes that can promote prostate cancer growth and a significant increase in the genes that are able to control it.

That's the power and promise in clean eating, so it helps to know what it means. Is it organic? Not necessarily. Food can be organic without being nutritious — think organic gummy bears — or nutritious without being organic, such as conventionally grown broccoli. Organic is a good thing, but it's not a summary measure of "clean."

Clean foods are minimally processed and as direct from nature as possible. They're whole and free of additives, colorings, flavorings, sweeteners, and hormones. I particularly like foods with one-word ingredients, such as spinach, blueberries, almonds, salmon, and lentils. The longer the ingredient list, the more room there is for manufacturing mischief — additions of chemicals, sugar, salt, harmful oils, and unneeded calories — and the more likely it is that you should step away from the package so no one gets hurt!

There's also strong evidence that, as a rule, the closer to nature you eat, the fewer calories it will take for you to feel satisfied. The reason? Processed foods often have low amounts of fiber and water; a high ratio of calories to nutrients; and a mix of tastes from added sugar, salt, and flavoring that overly stimulates the appetite center in the hypothalamus. Clean foods are the opposite: lots of fiber and fluid, a high ratio of nutrients to calories, and free of added flavors — all of which send signals of satiety to your brain before you consume too many calories. As an example, think of how many raw almonds you eat before stopping, then compare that to honey roasted almonds — that sugary coating spurs you to eat more. By eating clean, you can control your weight permanently without feeling deprived or hungry or having constant cravings.
So, let's sum up the importance of eating clean. Our bodies are replacing billions of cells every day — and using the foods we consume as the source of building materials. Eating well is part of the formula that can reduce our risk of any major chronic disease by 80 percent and reach into our innermost selves to improve the health of our very genes.

I recall my mother admonishing me, as a child, to clean my plate because there were starving kids in China. These days, China, like us, has epidemic obesity. Forget about cleaning your plate — focus instead on choosing clean foods to put on it in the first place. You know what's at stake: life itself, the liberty that comes with good health, and the likelihood of happiness.

by David Katz, M.D.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I found this article on MSNBC today and thought I would share it. I guess I'm in good shape (pun intended)

Fat butt? It may be healthier than you think
Lower body fat may produce hormones that ward off certain diseases

Having junk in your trunk is healthier than a spare tire around the gut, new research suggests. The extra padding on the backside and thighs could even help to protect against disease.
The results come from a review that summarizes various studies on the health effects of different fat stores in the body, particularly around the hips and thighs.

"The fact that body fat's distribution is quite important for your health has been known for some time now," said lead researcher Konstantinos Manolopoulos of the University of Oxford in England. But this new article summarizes a body of research showing that such hip and thigh fat can help to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The review also suggests a mechanism for conveying those benefits.

The next step is to figure out how our bodies decide where to store fat, say, in the stomach versus the butt. "Once this is understood then one could think about therapeutic approaches to make use of that," Manolopoulos told LiveScience. "Maybe to make use (of it) in a preventive way by redistributing the fat."

Manolopoulos and his colleagues detail their findings this week in the International Journal of Obesity.

When looking through the studies, the researchers found that not all fat is created equal.
Butt fat vs. stomach fatStomach fat is considered more metabolically active than lower body fat. While that may sound good, as this fat breaks down easily, the result is a release of substances called cytokines, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and diabetes. In fact, research on mice reported in 2008 revealed that belly fat boosts inflammation and is linked with hardening of the arteries — known to increase the risk of heart attacks.
But scientists think lower body fat, like that around the hips and thighs, produces beneficial hormones that protect against these
diseases, though more research is needed to firm up this expectation.

In addition, this lower body fat also traps fatty acids. While this long-term storage can make it tricky to slim down your butt and thighs, it's healthier for you if some fat stays put.
"If fatty acids are not stored in fat but are stored in other organs like the liver or the arteries this makes you prone to develop diabetes and heart disease," Manolopoulos said. He added, "One moment on the lips, forever on the hips. It really is exactly this phenomenon; the fat that goes there stays there," on the hips and thighs.

He says the most compelling evidence for the link comes from population studies showing the more fat individuals have in this hind area the less likely they are to develop diabetes and heart disease later in life.

Other evidence includes instances of Cushing's syndrome, in which patients lose their hip and thigh fat while gaining stomach fat. These patients are known to have an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The scientists aren't sure how the body decides where to store fat, but it's partially genetic.
That genetic force can be seen in the gender differences in how fat gets stored, with women having much more of the healthy, lower body fat than men. And females have a much lower risk for heart disease, Manolopoulos said.

"As long as you are female and your hormones are female hormones you are protected from cardiovascular disease," Manolopoulos said. "The moment you go into menopause and your hormones change, you lose your typical female appearance and you gain stomach fat and at the same time your risk for heart disease and diabetes becomes comparable to men of the same age."

© 2010 All rights reserved.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Real Women Have Curves

"We don’t need Afghan-style burquas to disappear as women. We disappear in reverse—by revamping and revealing our bodies to meet externally imposed visions of female beauty."
Source: Robin Gerber, author and motivational speaker

Ever look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what happened to your body as time flew by, since you've had your baby, since you've lost that last 10 lbs, since you just couldn't make it to the gym anymore? I have. As I approach my 30's, I find myself in steady state of wonder of how much my body has changed since I was 21 or what will change 10 years from now. While I pondered this thought, I finally got some sense of clarity. While we do need to preserve our bodies and fight for good health, we must always ask for grace for what the results of our efforts may be.

Some years ago, a group of friends and I were having a conversation about our dreams/wishes/hopes. The obvious ones: "I want to find a good husband, " or "I want to publish a novel," of course came up. A brief silence overtook the conversation shortly thereafter when one of the women said, "I just want to watch myself grow old and enjoy the process." While she may not have been the brightest one among the bunch, her words spoke of nothing but true wisdom. Just then, I realized that her words, like a warm blanket on a cold day, would be comforting when I look at myself in the mirror and I notice a new wrinkle, or a gray hair.

Today, the barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells "ordinary" women that they are always in need of adjustment. We are encouraged to believe that the female body is an object to be perfected. The overwhelming presence of images on TV screens and magazines, billboards and music videos of painfully thin women with perfect noses, and wrinkle free skin means that real women’s bodies have become invisible. The saddest part of this is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by beauty industry's standards. This focus on beauty and desirability destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate we currently live in.

While America is a true culprit of this, the world has begun to share in this ugly habit. For instance, in India, skin bleaching is becoming more and more popular; "Bleach skin, increase sex appeal." In Brazil, fake breasts are the new trend. In Tehran, a large majority of women seek out the Michelangelo of Tehran for just the perfect nose. In Saudi Arabia and in Europe, the number of women/men who go under the knife for cosmetic improvement continues to grow.

While I do know that this entry might conflict with the fact that I am a dietitian and I constantly strive to make myself, my family, and my clients look and feel their best, it is also important to take a step back and realize what means the most. Yes, it is important to take care of your body, eat right, exercise, and strive for a better you, but, we must realize that there is beauty in decay...there is beauty in change, there is beauty in getting old....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beat Ih Wife Like Ih Beat Di Conch (Caribbean Saying)

Ever wonder what lives inside those beautiful conch shells that decorate the waters of the Caribbean? Growing up in Belize, conch soup, conch ceviche, conch fritters, conch steak, and curry conch were a staple in my household. While my craving for conch has not diminished, it is quite hard to find in the US and relatively expensive when you find it. Don't let this be a detterent. I encourage you to try it when you get a chance. It is well worth the money.

Conch, pronounced konk, is known as the queen of the Caribbean who has no bones but sports a beautiful shell. It is one of a number of different species of medium-sized to large saltwater molluscs that have intricately designed, spirally constructed shells. They are abundantly found in the Indian and Pacific oceans. However, six species live in the greater Caribbean region, including the Queen Conch. They live on sandy bottoms among beds of sea grass in tropical warm waters.

When Columbus “discovered” the islands in 1492, he wrote of finding conch shells “as big as the head of a calf” off the coast of Cuba. He found them to be a good and hearty source of protein. I remember when I was child, we would spend our holiday on a small island off the coast of Belize. When we came across conch, we knew we had to have it. A hole was made at the top of the spiralled shell. This would release the tension and pressure inside the shell. Shortly after, the long and very slender animal would slip out of the shell. We were all given a chance to clean our prize which consisted mainly of pulling the transparent outer entrails and discarding that in the sea. Then, you would remove any brown outer covering on the meat. This then exposed a beautiful white fleshy chunk of meat that is best enjoyed then and there raw with a squeeze of lime. The saltiness from the water would add enough seasoning to the already perfect meat.

If you are to cook conch at home, you will definately need to tenderize the meat by pounding it or by grinding it in the food processor, depending on the recipe of choice. Even though it has no bones, without tenderizing the meat, you may very well think that it is purely bone. Conch can be prepared many different ways. I will provide you with 1 of my favorite recipes.

Jam's Conch Ceviche Belizean Style!
1/2 lb. Cleaned conch meat
1 Carrot
8 Lime/Lemons
1/4 c Olive juice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Cucumber
1 Onion
Handful cilantro
1/2 Habanero pepper (seeds and all)
2 large Tomatos

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Clean conch meat by removing all brown outer coverings. Cut the meat into small chunks. Dice carrot, cucumber, onion, cilantro, tomatoes and Habanero pepper (remove seeds if you like it hot, keep seeds if you want it extra extra hot, or eliminate if you don't like the heat). Pour boiling water over diced conch and let sit for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, squeeze lemons or limes into a bowl. Add all vegetables. Drain conch, and add to the vegetable, citrus mixture. Add olive juice, salt and pepper to taste. Let this marinate in the fridge at least 1 hour before serving. Serve cold with beer and corn tortilla chips.

My mom makes the most amazing conch soup and curry conch ever! I will provide you with this recipe when I am able to convince her to share her secrets. :)

Nutrition Facts:
Based on 3.5 oz serving
Conch is an excellent source of protein.
3 1/2 oz. of raw conch yields 137 calories (pretty amazing)! Sodium content of conch hovers around 206 mg per 3 1/2 oz. Cholesterol is relatively low being 65mg cholesterol compared to other shellfish.

Conch is low in fat!

Conch is a good source of B vitamins but it is especially rich in folate. The levels of the minerals magnesium and selenium are also appreciable in conch.

Sharing the love

Paul made this salad last night and it was fabulous! Thought I would share the love...

Paul & Jam's Everything Salad
Serves 2-3.
2 Grilled boneless chicken breast sliced on a bias
2 Hard boiled eggs sliced
1 Large head of Romaine lettuce
2 oz. Greek OR French feta cheese OR a sprinkle of grated Edam Dutch cheese
Handful of fresh blueberries
1 Vine ripe tomato
Jam's homemade pomegranate dressing (please see below for recipe)

Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Grill on a hot plate until tender (approx 8 minutes per side on medium heat). Remove from heat and let the meat sit before slicing. Boil water. When water has come to a boil, add eggs and boil for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately immerse eggs in iced water. When eggs are cold, remove shells and slice thinly. Wash and dry romaine leaves. Chop the tomato. Layer ingredients starting with the lettuce leaves, tomato, eggs, blue berries, and cheese. Gently but firmly, slice chicken breasts against the grain on a bias. Arrange on top of salad. Drizzle Jam's homemade pomegranate dressing on top and enjoy.

Jam's Home-made Pomegranate Dressing
1.5 c pomegranate juice
2 cloves garlic minced into a paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
juice of 1 lemon
Canola Oil

Bring juice to a boil and reduce to half. Cool the reduction. Mince garlic and add to reduction with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice. Very slowly add canola oil and whisk until an emulsion develops. I usually use equal oil to juice for this recipe. If the dressing is too sweet for your liking, add some water and continue to whisk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


America is experiencing a sex crisis (sex starved maybe?). Ironically, it is also the country with the highest rate of obesity. Believe it or not, these two very different issues are tightly correlated. When individuals increase their body fat percentage, hormonal changes occur that directly impact one's sex drive. This inverse correlation also bears a heavy burden (no pun intended) on fertility. In men, sperm count diminishes and in women, ovulation is affected.

Making some changes in your diet can be the secret to a revitalized sex life. Note though that while some of the foods I mention below may not be the best thing for your libido, they may be good for you in many other ways. However, ALWAYS remember that moderation is key! Read on!

- Unfortunately, these guys diminish testosterone levels. While the effects are not particularly dramatic, be aware that if you want to get your groove on, skip the tomato soup. :(

- This very rich and fatty fruit stimulates testosterone production which does great things for your libido. I highly suggest you make a trip to the Thai restaurant to load up.
Vanilla Ice Cream
- If you are anything like me, only a few things are better than a scoop of vanilla ice cream with caramelized apples. Great news vanilla ice cream lovers, for once we are encouraged to eat a scoop of this great treat. The scent of vanilla alone has been found to get us all hot and bothered. It gets even better! The dairy in the ice cream offers calcium and phosphorus which helps build the libido and makes orgasms more powerful.

- Nothing makes a romantic dinner better than a bottle of wine, right? WRONG! While one glass of wine acts as a relaxant and can help put you in the mood, more than one glass will do just the opposite! Beware! Who has one glass of wine anyway?

- While we are encouraged to keep our red meat consumption to a minimum, note that eating a serving of red meat will actually increase levels of neurotransmitters and provides us with a healthy dose of zinc which heightens our sensitivity and boosts our libido.

- It is the one of the oldest aphrodisiacs known to man and with a hefty dose of vitamin E per serving, your sex hormones will be in full force.

- Yet another reason to support the theory that pomegranate is a super food. As we already know, it is loaded with tons of antioxidants that not only help prevent cancer but also keep the blood flowing through all parts of the body including our friends below.

Hot Peppers/Chillies
- Wrong! There is no research out there that supports the theory that hot peppers help increase the libido.

- While I know it is probably one of the top 10 most expensive spices out there, it is well worth the extra dollars. A pinch goes a long way! Not only is the depth of flavor and color spectacular and unlike any other spice, it does great things for your body. Research shows that saffron acts like a natural antidepressant and pain killer. This is already a great start to a steamy evening. It gets even better! Saffron is packed with a chemical component that makes your body more sensitive to touch.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Sounds cliche right? Well, cliche or not, the rumor is true! Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C--a natural libido booster. The chocolate is not just an extra treat for your taste buds. Chocolate (especially those with 60% cacao) helps release sex hormones into the blood stream. It's not just a gimmick.....promise.

- So I suppose you know the answer to this one. Not really! While oysters stimulate the release of minerals and amino acids that spark an immediate release of sex hormones into the bloodstream (especially for men), it is only effective if a man eats at least 50 oysters at one sitting. Let's not talk about the coma like feeling of fullness and bloating and what that does for your sex drive.

- This fruit has everything going for it. The potassium and vitamin B boost you get from each banana is enough to take a trip to the bedroom.