Category Archives: Simple Weight Loss Steps

refined carbs

Prediabetes, A Cry For Help

Diabetes doesn’t just come knocking at the door one morning when you wake up.  Diabetes is foreshadowed if you understand its disguise.  If you can catch prediabetes before it becomes diabetes you can prevent some the permanent damage to your cardiovascular system and pancreas, the insulin-producing organ.

The Significance of Prediabetes

There are over 86 million people in the US that have prediabetes and 9 out of 10 of those people do not even know they have it.  Once someone is diagnosed with prediabetes they will most likely develop diabetes within ten years if they do not make lasting lifestyle changes.  Being diagnosed with prediabetes is a gift or warning to make changes now before permanent damage occurs.

How Would You Know If You Have Prediabetes?

Prediabetes doesn’t have any signs or symptoms.  That is the scary thing.  Your body doesn’t give any warning until diabetes has shown its ugly face.  However, your healthcare provider may have checked a basic or complete metabolic panel that includes a blood glucose test.  In our busy healthcare system, having an elevated blood sugar at the prediabetes level often gets missed by busy providers.  Ask for your results and if your glucose level was done after you had been fasting and was greater than 100, then you should have this repeated with one of the tests below.  If you have symptoms of excessive thirst, increased urination, blurry vision or frequent fatigue, then this could indicate that you have diabetes.

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a problem with processing sugar or glucose, mostly from the foods we eat, leading to higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be diabetes.   This is partially due to the body not utilizing insulin in the normal way.  Over time this problem with insulin progresses, leading to higher blood sugars and diabetes.  There are three tests for diagnosing prediabetes and diabetes:

  • Glycated Hemoglobin (A1c) which indicates an average blood sugar over 2-3 months time.   An A1c between 5.7-6.4 indicates prediabetes.  An A1c over 6.4 over two different occasions indicates diabetes.
  • Fasting Blood Sugar is done by taking a blood sample after 8 hours of fasting (usually done overnight).  Under 100 is considered normal.  Having a result between 100-125 indicates prediabetes.  Having a result 126 or greater on two different occasions indicates the individual may have prediabetes.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is a slightly more involved test but probably the most accurate since it directly assesses how the body manages a glucose challenge.  This test is done fasting as well but the individual is given a sugary drink and blood sugar levels are checked before and several times afterwards.  A normal reading is under 140.  Having a reading between 140-199 is considered prediabetes; greater than 199 is considered diabetes.

Who Should Be On Alert For Prediabetes?

The exact cause of prediabetes isn’t well understood but there is a genetic link and it is associated with leading an inactive lifestyle and having abdominal fat.  The following are indications for getting checked for prediabetes:

  • Have/had a parent with type 2 diabetes
  • Having a waist circumference > than 35 for women, > 40 for men
  • Are overweight
  • Are inactive
  • Are of Asian, African, Pacific Island, Hispanic or American Indian descent
  • Are over 45
  • Had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Had PCOS- polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Have sleep apnea
  • Have high triglycerides, low HDL or have high blood pressure

Prediabetes Is A Chance For A Do-Over!

The Diabetes Prevention Program, a multi-center clinical research study, showed that a 7% weight loss along with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week greatly reduced the risk of developing diabetes in those who had prediabetes.  For a 200 pound individual that’s only 14 pounds!  That’s not a huge amount of weight.  Couple that with a walk after dinner most nights and that’s a pretty doable plan.

Let Me Help You

This is my passion.  I understand the nuances to making lifestyle changes.  I will help you find your steps towards prevention of diabetes.

good carbs

Make Your Carbs Count

Some of us are carnivores, people who crave steaks, ribs and other bloody meat, and some of us are carbivores, my definition of people who crave chips, cookies and candy.  But too many carbs, especially the processed ones, do us more harm than the few minutes of pleasure we get from eating them.  It’s not about abstention from them; it is about making informed choices.

Carbohydrate Sources

Carbohydrates (carbs) are those foods that contain sugar, starch and/or fiber.  Some grow naturally in the environment while others are manufactured.  Naturally occurring carbs inherently contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than manufactured carbs.  Manufactured carbohydrates are often times more manipulated to enhance shelf life, taste, advertising appeal and texture.  These are the kinds of manufactured carbohydrates I’m referring to in this article.  It’s the degree and intent to which these “man-made” carbs are manufactured that is the issue when it comes to health.

Naturally Occurring Carbs

Naturally occurring carbs include fruits and starchy veggies, legumes and whole grains, and some dairy.  The amount of carbohydrates found in fruits can vary depending on the kind and the ripeness.  A cup of grapes has 28 grams of carbs, while a cup of raspberries has 15 grams.  Less ripe fruits have more resistant starches in them that are not digestible while riper fruits have more of their starch converted to easily digested sugar, raising their carb load and their impact on blood sugars.  Starchy veggies include all potatoes, corn, peas and winter squashes.  Think of veggies that are denser and sweeter.   Lower carb veggies are less sweet and have a higher water content like celery, zucchini and broccoli.

And like those resistant starches converted in riper fruit, the same thing happens when grains are cooked longer.  Soft pasta has a higher carb load than the less boiled al dente pasta.

Milk has the natural occurring sugar, lactose, which adds about 12 grams of carbs per cup.  Cheese and plain unsweetened yogurts, especially plain Greek, have less lactose, therefore fewer carbs.

Manufactured Carbs

Manufactured carbs include things like certain breads and pasta, candy and baked goods, chips and crackers, and ice cream and fruit-filled yogurt.  In particular I want to focus on the manufactured carbs that strip the good, naturally occurring benefits out of the product and then try to add other ingredients to artificially enhance a product.

Manufactured goodness pasta labelFor example, Barilla Plus pasta tries to appeal to the health conscious consumer by advertising on their food label “multigrain”, “protein, fiber and ALA Omega-3”.  When you look at the complicated food label you can see that what they’ve done is take wheat flour (only part of the wheat berry) and blended it with flour from lentils, chick peas, flaxseed(tha t’s how it gets to promote the ALA omega 3), oats and barley, and enhanced the fiber artificially by adding oat fiber, enhanced the protein by adding egg whites, and enhanced the nutrients by adding vitamins and iron.  There are 16 ingredients in this product.  Now compare that to Luigi Vitelli organic pasta which contains only one ingredient – whole wheat durum semolina flour grown organically – and you can see what I am talking about.  Not only is the Luigi pasta higher in naturally occurring fiber but there is no food manipulation going on.  A food shouldn’t brag on the front of the box when there are 16 ingredients in it when only one truly good ingredient is needed.  You don’t need to mess around with mother nature to try to enhance a product.

Another example is oatmeal.  Oatmeal comes as quick cooked, old-fashioned, steel-cut and in its pure form, the “grout”.  You can find quick cooked that has added fiber to make consumers think they are getting a really good thing but they really aren’t in this case. Quaker Oats High Fiber Instant Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal is made from precooked and dried oatmeal, a created fiber called maltodextrin, sugar and sugar substitute, caramel coloring and vitamins and minerals to make it sound really healthy.  Keep in mind that maltodextrine is a type of  manipulated fiber that doesn’t provide the same health benefits of naturally occurring fiber.  This cereal gets high ratings for taste but in a man-made, less healthy way.  The less processed the oatmeal grain – which starts with the grout, the more naturally occurring fiber, vitamins and minerals you will get.  You’re better off eating steel-cut oats flavored with a teaspoon of honey and cinnamon than a quick cooked sweetened oatmeal if you are really trying to take care of your health.

In general, look at the number of ingredients in a label when you are comparing similar foods.  The fewer the ingredients, the less man has manipulated it, and the more nature leaves its imprint.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

I think of carbs as the body’s gas pedal.  When you eat a lot of manufactured carbs, especially ones made with white flour and lots of sugar, the body’s rpm’s go really high.  This causes blood sugars to go really high and the pancreas to have to work really hard to take care of the extra blood sugar.  Getting back to the car metaphor, carbs are the gas pedal and the brake pads are the pancreas.  Eating foods that are highly processed, laden with sugar and stripped of the bran and germ of the grain is like pressing down hard and fast on the gas pedal and the pancreas, like the brake pads of your car, gets worn out.

Not "whole" foods

Not “whole” foods

These kind of carbs in the picture at left, are what cause the insulin spike and when consumed frequently, keep blood insulin levels high creating the cascade of events mentioned in the previous post.

Getting back to the gas pedal metaphor, choosing mostly intact carbs with little processing like whole grains, fruits and beans it’s like gently putting your foot on the pedal to  accelerate.  When you choose these kinds of carbs you get a more gradual blood sugar rise and put less stress on the pancreas.  And because they are high in fiber you stay fuller longer – which is like getting more mileage for the same amount of gas.  Furthermore, the best payback that I hear from my clients is that they have more energy.  With fewer blood sugar swings there are also fewer times during the course of the day where they have trouble focusing and feel sleepy.

How Many Carbs Should You Have?

Last post I talked about reducing carbs to the lower end of the Institute of Medicine acceptable range of around 45% of total daily calories.  How many grams of carbohydrates does that amount to for a day?  First you need to calculate your recommended daily caloric needs that considers your age, sex, height and activity level.  The Mayo Clinic has a nice interactive calculator you can use here.

For me to maintain my current weight considering my activity level, I would need 2100 calories daily.  To determine my daily carbohydrate needs Based on the points made in my last post, I will multiply the 2100 calories by the 45% and then divide it by 4 since there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate.

                                                                     2100 X .45 = 945                                                                                                                                              945/4 = 236 grams

If I divide the 236 grams over my three meals it works out to about 80 grams per meal.  If I were to have a snack containing carbohydrates I would reduce the carbs in the meals accordingly.  You can look at the food label under total carbohydrate to see how many grams a serving has.  For those foods that do not have a food label The Calorie King Calorie and Carbohydrate Counter Book is a nice resource.  Keep in mind that many prepared food items contain more than one serving.  The Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese in the above picture actually contains 5 servings in the box.  Many people would either eat the whole box or split it with someone.

How To Begin

  • Cut out or reduce your soda intake.   A 12 oz. coke has 55 grams of sugary carbs.  Try seltzer water with natural flavoring or tea.
  • Reduce the amount of chips you ea.   A serving of Stacy’s pita chips has 19 grams of carbs.  Measure your portion and put it on a plate, do not eat out of the bag.  And don’t think that just because pretzels have little fat and are low in calories are a good choice.  Most pretzels are make with white flour.  Eating a few servings of those is just like putting the pedal to the metal.
  • Switch to black coffee or coffee with whole milk with less sugar or use Truvia.  A vanilla Frappuccino at Starbucks has 68 grams of carbs.
  • Eat your fruit instead of drinking it so you get the fiber.  Juice glasses use to be 4 ounces, now they are 8 oz – that’s 30 grams of quickly digested sugary carbs.
  • Cut out the donuts and muffins (unless it’s my high fiber, high protein recipe) and eat a breakfast with more protein and fiber from whole grains and fewer carbs- like my frittata with 2 pieces of whole grain bread.  Or something more simple might be a cup of plain Greek lowfat yogurt, with 1/2 cup of thawed frozen berries and some chopped nuts.
  • If you are a candy lover switch to one small piece of dark chocolate which is lower in carbs (4 gms) and has heart healthy flavonoids.  A candy bar like 3 Musketeers can have 42 grams of sugary carbs.

Most of us love our carbs whether they are sweet, salty or crunchie.  Everything in moderation has to be defined.  It can’t be permission to indulge without discretion.  Next post I’ll discuss tips to make this process easier.

 

 

 

 

Bo Derek

Ten, A Very Important Number

Aside from Bo Derek’s movie, Ten, with her gorgeous body running on the beach knowing how good she must feel, the number 10 is important in health coaching.  The number 10 is where we want our clients to reach in terms of their energy level.  When someone rates themselves a 10, they are able to accomplish more, overcome obstacles, achieve hopes, improve health, and feel life is full of possibilities.  The number 10 is also important in some areas of health.  When these guidelines below are achieved, any individual can feel like a Bo Derek and reach a 10 in energy level.

smile

Fiber – Ten Grams Per Meal

You laugh, but face it, without having a daily poop our comfort is compromised and we feel bloated.  The average American eats only 15 grams of fiber a day – mainly from processed foods.  The U.S. government guidelines recommend 25 – 35 grams of fiber a day.

But fiber does more than just make us happy in the morning.  Soluble fiber helps lower the artery clogging LDL cholesterol.  Insoluble fiber feeds gut flora that helps to boost our immune system and gives bulk to our morning constitution.  Fiber has been linked to body weight regulation and helps to keep people fuller longer.  Aim for about ten grams a meal by eating fruits and veggies, nuts, beans and whole grain breads, cereal, and crackers.  And watch out for isolated fibers like maltodextrin, inulin and polydextrose that are processed fibers and do not give the same health benefits and can cause gas and bloating.

Exercise – Ten Minutes At A Time

The American College of Cardiology looked at the association between jogging at a leisurely pace and it’s impact on mortality and presence of heart disease in over 55,000 patients between the ages of 18 and 100.   They concluded that even jogging at a leisurely pace for 5-10 minutes each day was associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from all causes and heart disease.  Imagine that as few as five to ten minutes will give you a healthier, extended life.  If you have bad knees or joints then try an elliptical or the Arc, these are just as effective,  and you can watch TV or be in your skivvies and no one will know.

Saturated Fat – Less Than Ten Percent Of Your Daily Calories

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 which are updated every 5 years, recommend no more than 10% of total daily calories come from saturated fat.  For a 2000 calorie diet that would mean about 22 grams a day.  For an 1800 calorie diet it tops out at 20 grams.  For a 1500 calorie diet that would mean no more than 17 grams.  Saturated fat comes mainly from animal fats, but also palm and coconut oils.  Saturated fat is only part of the total fat on the nutritional label, but along with transfats, can lead to heart disease.

Saturated fats can add up.  A Big Mac has 10 grams, a double quarter-pounder with cheese has 19 grams – adding an ounce of cheese to any sandwich will add about 6 more grams of saturated fat.  A half cup of ice cream has 4 grams of heart-clogging fat.  A venti Vanilla Latte from Starbucks has 4.5 grams of saturated fat.  An apple crumb donut from Dunkin Donuts has 9 grams of saturated fat.  You can quickly see how all these numbers add up.  Awareness is empowerment so you can make an informed decision.

It’s All About Getting to Ten

Feeling like a 10 is possible.   Eating using these guidelines along with getting even 5-10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily is going to improve your circulation, digestion, immune system and satiety.  You will have more energy to do what makes you happy.

It doesn’t have to happen overnight.  It starts with getting familiar with food labels and eating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts.  Increase you activity by parking further away during errands, taking the stairs more and gradually work towards that 5-10 minutes of exercise.  You don’t have to look like Bo to feel like a 10!

positive thinking

Lose Weight Or Gain Health. Be Positive

Are you feeling like your life is tedious and overwhelming and you really want to lose weight?  Happy, happy, joy, joy as Ren and Stimpy would say!  Actually, I’m not being sarcastic.  Why can’t we look at losing weight as gaining health instead?  It’s not like we really can’t find the weight in our thighs, belly and behind.  And it’s not like we want to be deprived or suffer from the loss of weight.  Why can’t it be thought of as “gaining health”?  After all, aren’t improved blood sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, appearance, relationships, energy, mood and sleep a huge gain????

Be Positive

positive thinking

half empty or half full?

Barbara Frederickson, a reknowned psychologist, has done extensive research on positive psychology.  Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that uses scientific research to study and determine positive human development.  Dr Frederickson has discovered that experiencing positive emotions changes cognitive pathways in the brain so that people are able to become more resilient to challenges and feel empowered to accomplish what they could only dream of in the past.  Her research supports that a three-to-one ratio of positive to negative thoughts creates physiological changes in the brain.  Her website has a test and tools you can access to assess and improve your ratio.  Some of her tools include meditation and Day Reconstruction Method which involves self-reflection on the previous days to explore patterns and how time was spent.  There is also a tool for analyzing social interactions and the emotional connections felt during interactions.

Why Get To A 3 To 1 Positive Ratio

Emotion drives our behaviors.  Imagine if you come home from work in a negative mood feeling like your boss doesn’t understand you, your bills are piling up, your kids don’t appreciate you, your spouse has it easier than you and you still have to take the kids to evening activities, figure out dinner, do laundry, and finish up some stupid work assignment.  Now that is the frame of mind that’s going to open up all kinds doors of possibility, right?  No, it will probably lead you to open up the door to the stash of chips.

There is an alternative reality.  Perhaps your boss does see your side of an issue but he has pressures from his boss that he hasn’t shared.  Perhaps your kids do appreciate how you support them and take them to their activities but can’t truly understand how you feel because they are only kids without enough life experiences and are dealing with their own social pressures.  Perhaps your spouse is working as hard as you but managing other household responsibilities that you hate doing.  Perhaps you haven’t sat down with your spouse to find alternative ways to simplify life.  Perhaps if you did more planning and cooking on the weekend in bulk and froze meals for the week it would make weekday dinners easier.  Perhaps if you delegated some activities like laundry or meal preparation it would relieve some stress.  Perhaps if you looked at how you managed your time at work you might not be bringing work home.

Negative thoughts can muddle thinking, undermine attitudes and drive us to unhealthy behaviors.  Imagine if the above scenario happened to someone in a positive frame of mind.  That person might come home from work after having a good talk with their boss to clear up some concerns and feel empowered to address the issues at home.  He or she would have the energy while driving home to think about dinner plans, perhaps call the kids to enlist their help (which would empower the kids).  The chores of the evening could be shared with opportunities to talk to each other and connect.  All these actions lead to empowerment and open communication just by shifting perceptions and would most likely not end up with raiding the pantry!

If you are trying to gain room in your clothes and regain your health, start with how your are wording it and then develop that 3 to 1 ratio of positive thoughts.  You might find that just changing your thinking might lead to less unhealthy snacking and improved health with no effort at all.

 

Nurture Your Self-Talk

What we say to ourselves has a direct impact on what we think about ourselves.  Talking to yourself in the right language will have a direct impact on how successful you will be in accomplishing difficult tasks.  Elizabeth Bernstein’s article in the Wall Street Journal on self-talk supports the notion that what we say to ourselves will help us perform better in competitions, interviews, public speaking events, and even has more success in dating.

How Self-Talk Works

self talkIn Elizabeth Bernstein’s interview with Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, associate professor at the University of Thessaly in Greece who has studied the impact of self-talk on athletic performance, he states that motivational self talk such as “you can do this” leads to the correct reaction.  This kind of instructional self talk can be very beneficial for learning a new task.  Before a speech, someone might say to oneself, “speak slower and make eye contact”.  He also mentions to be short, precise and consistent.  You instruct yourself until it almost become automatic.

Bernstein also refers to a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that examined how one addresses oneself being also significant.  Using non-first person pronouns or one’s own name was more effective than using “I”.   So before giving a speech saying, “Barbara speak slow and give eye contact” is more effective than saying “I will speak slower and give them eye contact.”

Apply Self-Talk to Changing Habits

So take this a step further.  Making lifestyle changes also requires a series of new tasks.  If you are starting an exercise routine which involves getting up earlier and you really want to press the snooze alarm, you could try saying to yourself: “You will get out of bed and exercise”.  Non-first person pronoun, short and concise.  When you are reaching for a cookie or bag of chips and you are trying to eat healthier, say to yourself: “Barbara, eat an apple instead”.   When you are breaking your habit of going to McDonald’s and having a craving, say to yourself:  “Barbara, this will pass, go home and make dinner.”  When you are going to a party with plenty of temptation, tell yourself:  “you will enjoy one dessert only”.

Why not try making your self-talk direct and with the desired outcome.  Do this with every new task and see how successful you can be.  That little voice inside your head needs to come out louder so you can hear it and follow its guidance!

Is Your Home a Safe Zone or Torture Chamber?

Oops, I gave in.  Last week’s blog happened to me.  I am living proof that the TV, in cahoots with the remote control, sends out sub-conscientious messages… “You want something to eat.  Your mouth is not satisfied.  It doesn’t know what it wants.  Go out to the kitchen and forage.”  Empty Stacy'sIn my case, I knew those Stacy’s chips I had bought for a presentation was in my office, hidden under other food labels to use in my discussion.  I knew those lightly salted, crispy square chips were exactly want my mouth wanted right then.  I found them and brought them out to my TV room trying to ignore my husband’s look of disdain, knowing he had just proofread last week’s blog the day before.   I opened the bag and smelled that delightful freshness and began to enjoy everything I anticipated as my show resumed.  Thank God I had bought the smaller bag that was next to the 15 serving bag.  And thank God my husband’s silent drooling convinced me to handover the bag.  My home became a torture chamber last week, instead of the safe zone it has been for most of the past 5 years all because I allowed one of my favorite chips to come into the house for my presentation.  I could have picked Doritos or even Frito’s and I would have ignored the sublime messages, since those do not trigger the same cravings.  But no, Stacy’s was on the end cap and in my purview and I thought I was past those days of temptation.  I thought I could handle bringing them into the house.  But what was I really thinking?  Were they going to just disappear into thin air after my presentation?  Well, quite frankly, I had not thought that far ahead.  My planning ended at getting them to the presentation, not to what was I going to do with them when the presentation was over.

Torture Chamber

Of course I talk a bit tongue and cheek about this.  Is gluttony really the worst of the seven deadly sins?  Will John Doe from the movie, Seven, come after me?  And really, isn’t a sloth worse?  Just the word “sloth” conjures up some bad breath, foul smelling, greasy haired, oily faced, stained finger-nailed person. No seriously, in the grand scheme of things pigging out on 500 unneeded calories isn’t a life changer.  But what happened last week confirmed what I know about myself.  When foods I really enjoy come into the house, they are a temptation to me.  It further reinforced how I feel my best, both physically and mentally, when I make my house a safe zone.  I know there are people who can keep tempting foods out of sight at home and manage to ration them over the course of the week.  But I also know that there are people who bring in ice cream, cookies, chips and candy on a regular basis.  These are short term pleasure foods that become habits, a source of mindless eating and weight gain.  I had eaten 520 unnecessary calories.  If I had done this every night it would have amounted to a pound’s worth of food by the end of the week.  How would that serve my desire to feel energetic, look my best, perform my best during the day and help me to be around and really enjoy my grandchildren?

Safe Zone

I choose to make my home a safe zone.  For the most part I make my sweets and muffins count by using only whole grains, fruit (and even flax seed!) and I make just enough servings to last one or two nights.  If I go out to eat, then I might get a serving of those crispy, salty, crunchy delights.  I know they are too tempting for me to resist when they come into my house, so most of the time they don’t make it into my cart.

My presentation went well and I showed my empty, paper stuffed, Stacy’s chip bag and explained that a very large mouse overcome by sublime TV messaging had eaten them.  And then I told them the real story.  Thank God john Doe was not in the audience.

Do You Have A Health 401k?

What is in your health 401k?  You might be making regular contributions to your work 401k to insure financial security for your retirement but what are you doing to invest in your health for your future? gold You can look at your 401k, see its performance and even estimate how many years of work you will need to work to secure a comfortable retirement.  But how do you look at your future and gauge your health?  Do you look at your health today and predict realistically what your health might look like when your retire?  Do you think about whether or not you will be able to walk a few miles without getting out of breath, carry your small grandchildren in your arms if they are tired, have enjoyable sex with your spouse or significant other, or even work in your yard with vim and vigor?  Do you consider whether your sedentary lifestyle today, compounded with your sports injuries and perhaps being overweight might plague you in your retirement years?  If you are already taking blood pressure or cholesterol pills, some pills for back or knee pain, a pill for heartburn and something to help your sex life, do you wonder how many more pills your might be taking later and at what cost both physically and financially?  Do you think it has to be this way or do you want to make changes today to invest in your health in your retirement years?

You do have a choice and your decision today, whether you are in your 20’s, or even 50’s can make a huge impact on your future health. Instead of letting your work, family and house demands dictate your entire day, take 30 minutes and do these three things today that will make huge deposits in your health 401k for the future.

Do These Three Deposits For Your Health 401k

1.  Eat a healthy breakfast.   We know that people who skip breakfast eat more calories over the day than those who eat breakfast.   Most people either skip breakfast or have cold cereal.  Most cold cereals lack adequate protein, have little fiber and healthy fat.  We know the key to fullness and energy is to have adequate lean protein, some good fats and a healthy amount of fiber in every meal.  The following are some great ideas for breakfast and can be packed quickly or kept in your office.

Breakfast Ideas That Will Grow Your Health 401k:

flax

  • 1/2 cup dry old-fashioned oatmeal cooked with water, mixed with 2 tbsp of ground flax seed (super source of heart healthy omega 3′ and fiber) topped with two tablespoons low fat french vanilla Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt has more than twice the protein as regular yogurt), and 1 tbsp chopped walnuts.
  • Two slices of whole grain bread (first word in the list of ingredients should be the word “whole” or “100% whole”) toasted with 2 Tbsp all natural peanut butter like Teddy.
  • 2 scrambled eggs with 2 pieces of whole grain toast.  Keep your spread to 1 tsp per slice and try whipped butter to reduce the saturated fat.
  • 1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese with 1 fruit and 1 muffin (try this almond muffin recipe)

2.  Bring lunch to work.  People who bring lunch to work are exposed to less temptation and can make healthier choices.  It also saves time to do number 3.

Lunch Ideas That Will Grow Your Health 401k:triscuits

  • Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread topped with lots of veggies and a fruit.  Keep the mayonnaise to 1 teaspoon.
  • One 6 oz low fat Greek yogurt, 12 almonds, 1 fruit, and a bag of cut up celery and carrots.
  • Whole grain crackers like 4 Grainsfirst or 15 Triscuits Thin Crisps, 1 low fat cheese stick, 1 fruit and small bag of chopped veggies with 2 tbsp of humus.  )Notice how these Triscuits only have three ingredients and made with whole grains).triscuit label
  • Large salad with variety of greens, cucumbers slices, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and avocado, then tossed with 1 tbsp of oil and vinegar dressing.  Top with 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese or 3 oz of leftover meat.  Include one serving of fruit.

To save some time, cut up all your vegetables on the weekend for the week.  Buy pre-washed greens and prepackage your crackers.  Make extra meat sources on the weekend and slice the leftover chicken, salmon or steak to top on your salad or have in your sandwich.

 3.  Exercise for 20 minutes every day.  Exercise strengthens your heart, raises the heart healthy good cholesterol (HDL), reduces the bad cholesterol (LDL), strengthens your joints thereby reducing osteoarthritis pain, reduces stress, improves sleep, improves mood and burns calories.  No other pill can accomplish all of that.  The time you save by going out for lunch or buying your lunch can be spent going on a vigorous walk around your building.  Find some hills for some great interval exercise.

Get Great Dividends From These Deposits in Your Health 401k

Think of the impact on your self-talk when you reach the end of the day and you can say that you accomplished all these things.  Notice the impact on your energy level during those days that you eat a healthy breakfast, bring your lunch and exercise.  Notice whether or not you are tired or more alert two hours after you eat. Notice your self confidence at the end of the day.

We are a society of instant gratification. We take care of the demands of the day, neglecting our hunger signals and then over-feed them with restaurant food that delivers way too many calories in the form of carbohydrates and fat and not enough nutrients to nourish our body.  We come home tired and hungry causing us to make poor food choices, to overeat and snack on way to many unhealthy carbs in the evening when we least need it. Think of the impact of taking these three steps on your future.  these steps will bring the real gold to your golden years.  You might have wealth in your 401k, but what good is that if you do not have good health. Why not start your health 401k for your future today?

It’s the Small Health Changes That Make a Big Difference! (May 8, 2013)

small changesI remember a conversation I had with a client a while ago who was morbidly obese and required a rolator walker to get around.  She came to a weight management program of mine with trepidation on her face.  “I have so much to lose, is it even worth it?”  I said to her that this program is not about a diet; it is about making small changes and exploring our food choices in a very nurturing environment.  It’s not about the big goal that is way out there, rather it is about enjoying the health changes and new experiences along the way.

The following week she returned elated and surprised when she stepped on the scale to see that she had lost over 6 pounds.  But what really surprised her was that her knees were not hurting her as much over the week and that this was accomplished by just decreasing her food portions.  “I didn’t even write down what I had eaten because I wasn’t ready to and yet I still lost all this weight!” she said with a surprised smile.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.  When we step back and observe what we notice along the way, these small changes are reinforced.   Learning to eat in a way that not only improves inflammation in the body, but also leads to weight loss is a win-win solution.  You must enjoy the view between the trees before you get to the end of the forest!