Friday, November 29, 2013

5 Things you need to do to get through the holidays

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and you know what that means… The holiday season is upon us.  For some, that can put a new meaning on the term “Black Friday”. All that work we have put into losing those 5 lbs. is could be negated by Eggnog and Candy canes. The evening walk that helped your body and mind during the summer and fall becomes more difficult in the dark and the cold.  According to research, this can be the most stressful time of the year. It is also when cold and flu season is really getting cranked up. The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but they could be full of pitfalls that can turn it into a nightmare before Christmas. In the spirit of the holidays, we have come up with 5 remedies to the holiday blues.

1.       Hydrate: Hydration becomes more difficult during the winter due to the dryness that accompanies the colder weather. Twenty percent of our hydration comes from food, however winter foods have less natural water in them than the summer fruits and vegetables. Alcohol and caffeine can actually add to the dehydration. This can lead to impairment in cognitive skills and make you more tired and lethargic. Hydration allows our bodies to rid themselves of toxins and waste products that can lead to illness and disease. So remember the rule of 8’s (eight servings of eight ounces of water a day).

2.       Sleep: It seems nobody gets enough sleep these days but this becomes worse around the holidays. Shopping, partying, and year end projects can take their toll on your sleep pattern. The stresses associated with these activities can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Being rundown is the last thing you need at this time of year. For one thing it will make you more susceptible to illness. Try to avoid late night eating, drinking, or partying. The body needs some time to slow down and prepare for sleep. Food, alcohol, and activity just before retiring tends to keep your body’s metabolism revved thus disrupting sleep. Try reading a book instead of watching TV as studies have shown that TV stimulates parts of the brain that can prevent sleep. If you can’t get stressful thoughts out of your head try concentrating on a peaceful or pleasurable thought. Take yourself to a place or time that brings you happiness and stay there until you fall asleep.

3.       Exercise: The holiday season can take a real toll on your exercise routine. Why do you see so many ads for exercise clubs and equipment right after the New Year? It might be the cold or the dark or the myriad of seasonal activities that disrupt our activity level. If you have a regular workout time stay with it and if you don’t have one this is a great time to start. Remember, all you need is 30-40 minutes three times a week. Even walking counts so bundle up and get outside. Try skiing or snowshoeing if you want an extra challenge. If you can’t find 30-40 minutes to free up, you can get the same result from three or four 10 minute segments. This will help you have more energy, sleep better, and prevent illness.

4.       Try to limit over-indulgence: Here’s where those extra pounds really add up. We tend to eat more and consume more alcohol than at any other time of the year. Late night parties especially can lead to gaining weight and losing sleep. So in order to keep indulgences in check, have a healthy snack before you go to the party. Use a salad plate to keep the portions smaller. Discipline yourself to have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Try to stick to the healthier party foods such as fruits, vegetables, or shrimp. In particular go easy on the desserts and high calorie snacks. And above all, pace yourself. Have a small snack and then engage someone in conversation. That way you won’t leave the party feeling overly stuffed. You will probably also have a better time meeting new people or catching up with old friends.

5.       Have more Fun: Seems like a simple concept so why is it so elusive some times? Sometimes the stress that goes with this time of year can take the fun right out of it. Remember when you were growing up and the excitement of the holiday season? It is still there, you just have to find a way to get it back. In the end it’s not about presents and parties, it’s about friends and family. Try to come up with activities that will rejuvenate those relationships. Take some family walks or just hop in the car, grab some hot chocolate, and go see the Christmas lights. Organize a game night or invite your favorite friends over and prepare a dinner together instead of going out. Work out together or take you partner ice skating. Make the memory of the holidays more about what you did together than what you had under the tree.

The holidays are a magical time of the year where for a few short weeks we can escape back to another time, a time where the wonders of childhood can emerge and fill us with joy. But underneath the magic are pitfalls that can turn the season into a time of stress and disappointment. You can avoid these problems with five simple solutions. Follow these suggestions and when New Year’s comes around you won’t have to worry about resolutions, you will have already made them.

 Happy Holidays from MDFitness!

Friday, November 8, 2013

MDFitness Tip~

Healthy eating starts with your shopping cart. Learn which foods to grab that’ll keep you on track towards better health. One of our primary principals is to:

 Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

We love carbs as much as the next person and a juicy steak is hard to beat. But research shows that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies provides countless benefits, including protection against cancer, heart disease, and the effects of aging!  SO we strive to load up on fruits and veggies as a principle of a great diet!

Ultimately, the FDA recommends a total of nine to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables daily. That really is not as difficult as it seems since a serving size is only a ½ cup for most fruits and veggies.  However, if that still seems daunting, rather than fixate on a specific amount, make sure to have just one vegetable or fruit with each meal. Whether that means adding a banana to your morning cereal or putting tomato and lettuce on your lunchtime turkey sandwich, it's an easy way to get your veggies in without keeping a tally sheet.

 At dinner we practice the 50 percent rule: we aim to have half of our plate covered in veggies. Not only will this help you get your nutrition fix in, but you'll also likely shed some weight. Each bite of vegetable has 3 to 4 times fewer calories than any other bite of food on your plate.  In addition the fiber in the veggies will fill you up FAST. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

National Eating Healthy Day

Did you know that today, November 6, is National Eating Healthy Day? Most people don’t. So what is the big deal and why should we designate a day to get people to eat more healthy foods? What if I told you that over 144 million adult Americans are overweight or obese? How about the fact that over a third of our children share the same problem? Did you know that for the first time in the history of our country the next generation isn’t expected to live as long as their parents despite advances in treatment for cancer and other diseases? One major reason for this obesity epidemic is the increase in meals eaten out, presently one in five or about 4.2 meals a week. Eating out means larger portions and more calories. As we go into the holiday season the problem becomes worse than ever, making this a perfect time to make a pledge to change our eating habits and live a longer healthier life. It’s really not that hard. Just follow these simple guidelines and you are on your way.

When you go to the super market look for these healthy items:
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables 
  • Beans and other legumes 
  • Brown rice or whole grain pasta 
  • Whole wheat or whole grain bread 
  • Lean grass fed meat 
  • Free range poultry and eggs 
  • Low fat dairy products including yogurt 
  • Olive and Canola oil 
  • Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and other nuts 
  • Berries especially blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries 
Look for these same ingredients when you eat out and try to eat half the meal and take the other half home.

Remember the difference between a serving and a portion. A serving is a specific measured amount of food. A portion is the actual amount you put on your plate. The closer your portion size is to a serving, the more you control your weight. Try to remember what a serving size means. For instance:
  • A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards 
  • A serving of fish is about the size of a checkbook 
  • A serving of fruit is about the size of a baseball 
  • A serving of leafy vegetables is about the size of a small fist 
  • A serving of bread is one slice 
  • A serving of rice, pasta, or cereal is about the size of a baseball 
  • A serving of cheese is about the size of 4 stacked dice 
Go easy on the salt. Most people consume over twice the recommended limit of 2/3 teaspoon a day.

So come on and make the pledge today. Don’t put is off until tomorrow or next week or next year. Let’s all strive for a healthier future for ourselves, for our family, for our country. It might just save your life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November is Diabetes Awareness Month… What you need to know!

So it’s your birthday and here comes the cake. You blow out the candles (harder to do than last year) and lick some of the icing (yum). You tell yourself that you are only going to have a small piece but it tastes so good you find yourself craving for more. 400 calories later you still want more. As you started to chew the first bite your body was already breaking down the carbohydrates to glucose and fructose, the major basic sugars. The sugars are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in a condition called hyperglycemia. The accelerated spike is largely due to the lack of fiber in the highly processed flour used to prepare the cake. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugars in the intestines allowing the body to adjust to the rise in blood sugar more naturally. Your body responds to the rise in blood glucose by releasing insulin from the pancreas. 

Too much glucose in the blood is toxic to the body just as too little deprives the body of needed fuel to the brain, muscles, intestines, and other organs. Insulin helps maintain the right level by allowing the liver and other organs to absorb the sugar where it can be burned as fuel or stored as fat like a battery storing electrical power. When the system is overwhelmed by the excessive surge of sugar and insulin, the liver has to release some of the excess into the blood stream. The fat or triglyceride ends up being stored as visceral or belly fat. The glucose released by the liver creates a vicious cycle by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin putting more stress on the liver. Over time the pancreas wears out and the liver becomes insensitive to the insulin resulting in a condition called “metabolic syndrome.” This in turn leads to Type 2 Diabetes.

Fructose, unlike glucose, does not stimulate production of insulin. In the liver fructose is converted triglycerides which are deposited in the belly leading to obesity. Fructose increases our hunger, and deprives us of energy. This creates a vicious cycle of sugar intake leading to fat deposition leading to insulin resistance with increased craving for sugar accompanied by less energy to burn the calories. In the end this can lead to massive obesity.

Between 1975 and 2005 the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes has increased over sevenfold. Interestingly this corresponds perfectly with the development of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in 1971. By the 1980s HFCS was the most common sweetener in the U.S.  Humans are clearly not designed for the lifestyle of today. The combination of inactivity and a diet high in refined carbohydrates is largely responsible for this deadly epidemic. Type 2 Diabetes is deadly because it leads to cardiovascular disease, increasing the risk of death by heart attack or stroke.

So how do we prevent it?

  1. Avoiding fructose especially HFCS may be the most important step. 
  2. Adding fiber to your diet and limiting the amount of processed carbohydrates allows the body to absorb the sugar more slowly preventing the spike in insulin that overloads the liver. 
  3. Exercise has been shown to make the liver and other organs more sensitive to insulin while simultaneously lessening the amount of visceral fat. 


We can treat the symptoms of Diabetes but there is no cure. That is why it is so important to prevent the condition from developing in the first place!