Posts Tagged ‘health’

Inspired Living

July 28, 2014

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As a frequent business traveler, I tend to encounter some of the same people working at my destinations. Whether it is the room service waiter, the taxi driver or the check in clerk, there is something pleasant and comforting about encountering a familiar and friendly face.

In one city, I rely on a taxi service to shuttle me from my hotel to the office and back. It is not uncommon for me to have the same drivers over and over again. In the 30 minute rides, we make idle small talk, and they all know me on a first name basis. They know a bit about my family and where I live, among other tidbits we share on our journey together.

This week, I had a unique and gratifying experience. I was greeted my one of my regular drivers and he immediately inquired as to my well being, and my family. After a few minutes of polite chit chat, he told me he had been on a health kick and had lost about 30 pounds since we last spoke. He attributed it to getting active, and eating healthier. He began cooking his own food, and gave up on junk. I congratulated him on his accomplishment, but I was unprepared for came next.

He said, “Chatting with you about healthy eating and your exercise regimen really inspired me. I decided after I dropped you off one day, it was time to get serious about my weight and my health.”

That really blew me away and made my day. In a week that I was feeling less than good about myself, I realized that our actions, however small can have an influence on others. We probably have an effect on people all the time, through the positive, and not so positive things that we do.

I am so happy to have been able to help this man change his life for the better, however inadvertently that may have happened.

Congratulations Bill the taxi driver! Keep up the good work and pay it forward!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Chilling at Bedtime

July 21, 2014

 

d4jm9-331.jpgI love to sleep in a cold bedroom at night. I prefer to burrow under the covers, rather than have the room warm and toasty. While it can sometimes be a bone of contention , this article in the New York Times gives another, perhaps more compelling reason to turn the thermostat down at night.

Sleeping in a cooler room can alter the amount of brown fat our bodies carry.
Brown fat, which has been discovered in tiny amounts in the upper backs and necks of adults, is thought to have be metabolically active.  This healthy fat aids in   burning calories, maintaining core body temperature, and taking sugar out of the bloodstream.

Studies performed on healthy men showed that sleeping in a room cooled to 66 degrees, allowed their bodies to double their stores of healthy brown fat in just four weeks, and improved their insulin sensitivity.  When the same men slept in an 80 degree room for four weeks, their brown fat levels fell lower than they were at the onset of the study.

While the effects of these findings were minimal, it is interesting to note that subtle tweaks in temperature could offer small metabolic health boosts.

The original article can be found here.

photo: glasshouse images

Rev Up Your Metabolism

June 2, 2014

It seems every few years, there is a diet trend that is later found to be unwarranted. Remember high carb, low fat? How about high fat and low carb?
Right now it’s all about juice cleansing, and being gluten free. Thanks to the new film “Fed Up,” sugar free eating is gaining momentum, and will be the next big thing in dietary deprivation.

While some of this advice is valid, we spend so much time hip hopping between the latest diet and exercise crazes, that we often sabotage our metabolisms in the process.

A fit young man runs on a beach trail in sand dunes.

Metabolism is defined as the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. Revving up your metabolic functions can result in weight loss and increased energy. Yet, so many of the things we do actually have a negative effect on our systems.

Some of the first things we think of when trying to lose weight are eliminating calories and hitting the gym. While those things will impact weight loss, going about them in the wrong way can have adverse implications.

The more you move, the more you burn.

Recent research states that sitting all day at a desk can be hazardous to your health. Even exercising for an hour per day can’t offset the sedentary lifestyle of a desk jockey.

To alleviate the problem, try to get up every hour or so to stroll around the office. Use your breaks to take a walk, and hit the steps instead of the elevator. Getting up and getting the blood flowing keeps the metabolism active.

Iron deficiency can also be a metabolism-slowing culprit. Menstruating women and some vegetarians can easily become anemic. Add a supplement, or simply increase your intake of iron rich foods, such as beans, spinach, shrimp, lean meats and artichokes.

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Extreme dieting may initially get the scale moving in the right direction, but long term and frequent yo-yo dieting can wreck havoc on your system. When you deprive your body of essential nutrients and the calories it needs to function properly, you trick it into “starvation mode”, causing your metabolism to slow down to conserve energy, resulting in a lower than normal calorie burn. Alcohol can also be a culprit in slowing down the metabolic process. Avoid fad diets and cleanses, and instead adopt a well balanced diet, full of healthy proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and eliminate unhealthy processed foods.

Dehydration can be another metabolic roadblock. The body needs water to run properly, and without it, it works less efficiency. Drinking more water also helps escort excess fluid from the body, flushing out toxins and bloat.

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Your body needs adequate sleep in order to function at its optimum level. When deprived of sleep, we perform much more slowly, and our metabolism follows suit. Sleep deprivation is also linked with unhealthy food cravings. Try to get 8 hours of shuteye each night, and step away from the empty calorie foods, like cookies and chips.

Good health revolves around a consistent program of well-balanced eating, physical exercise, and adequate rest and recovery. Taking care of your body will help it function at its peak level. Try cleaning up your diet, and getting up and moving, and see how positively it responds. You will look and feel better in no time!

photos: Glasshouse Images

Exercise Your Way Young?

April 17, 2014

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We all know that exercise benefits our health in many ways, but a new study shows it might also help us look younger too.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that mice became ill when sedentary, but thrived when given access to a running wheel. The theory was then applied to humans, with positive results.

A group of  men and women ages 20-84 were split into 2 groups; the first exercising vigorously for 3 hours per week, and the other less than 1 hour per week. It was discovered that after age 40, those who got more exercise also had thinner and healthier status cornuems and thicker dermis layers, a skin composition more similar to those aged 20-30.

They also studied a sedentary group of people over the age of 65. After three months on an exercise programs, the participant’s skin was found to be similar in make up to that of 20-40 year olds, and they looked visibly younger.

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Instead of investing in costly lotions and potions to battle the visible signs of aging, perhaps it’s time to start working out. You heart, lungs, bones and skin will thank you.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Sports Beer

February 21, 2014

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Generally speaking, drinking a beer after your workout is not the best choice. It’s dehydrating, bloating, and has enough calories to negate the effects of the workout. Unless it’s a Lean Machine Ale that is.

Canada’s latest entry into the world of breweries, is not only a healthier option to traditional ales, but it also marketing itself as a sports drink!

Aside from having a low alcohol content, it contains antioxidants and electrolytes that aid in recovery, and replenish vital nutrients often lost during high intensity exercise. One 77 calorie can,contains 7 grams of protein, and 7 different vitamins. It is shown to boost the immune system, and is gluten free.

For those of you in the states looking to give it a try, the company is offering a 24 pack, for $150, which comes with shares in Lean Machine, a hat and tee shirt, and an invitation to a local launch party. Why not give it a try?

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Hot Tips Tuesday: Relieving Muscle Cramps

August 20, 2013

Everyone who does any type of physical activity has experienced leg cramps and side stitches. Today’s tips will help you beat them in no time.

New runners are often plagued by side stitches; those gripping cramps that form at the side of your waist. It happens when the overworked diaphragm begins to spasm.

To ease the pain, slow your pace, and exhale forcefully each time the foot opposite from the painful side strikes the ground. It can also help to massage the area until the pain subsides.

Avoid them by eating lightly at least 1 hour before running. A full stomach can trigger side stitches.

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Leg cramps and toe cramps are other painful side effects of working out, or even walking in high heels all day. They often hit in the middle of the night, and can be absolutely excruciating.

For a “Charley horse,” deeply massage the area until you can get up and walk it off.

For toe cramps, pull the toes towards you until the muscle starts to relax and the worst of the pain subsides.

Muscle cramps can often signal dehydration. Be sure to drink enough water when you work out to help prevent them.

You might also try keeping tonic water on hand. The quinine in the beverage has been known to relieve the spasm.

Doing dynamic stretches to warm up, and stagnant stretches to cool down will help prevent muscle cramps post workout.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Wine and Workouts

July 31, 2013

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Could that glass of red wine negate the effects of your workout? A new study suggests that it might be.

Red wine, touted for its antioxidant powers from resveratrol, is thought to have a positive effect on cardiac health. A study published in the Journal of Physiology followed 27 men over the age of 65. All followed an intense workout regimen, but half of the men were given a resveratrol supplement, while the others received a placebo. The placebo recipients were found to have lower body fat, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than the resveratrol users. This contradicts the findings in previous studies, which linked the antioxidant to improved heart health.

“We were surprised to find that resveratrol supplementation in aged men blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health parameters, in part because our results contradict findings in animal studies,” said Dr. Ylva Hellsten, the leader of the project, in a statement.

The caveat to the study is that the dose of resveratrol was 100 times higher than what is found in a glass of red wine.

So until further notice, keep working out hard, and enjoy your wine in moderation.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Here Comes the Sun

July 17, 2013

It’s hot here in New York City, and the blazing sun beating down on us during our walk to work isn’t doing us any favors.  Slathering on the sun block ( and deodorant!) and donning a hat are good habits, but a recent article from the Greatist suggests that what you eat can provide some serious protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

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Salmon and other foods rich in omega- 3 fatty acids, can protect the skin from free radical damage, and have been shown to prevent some types of skin cancers.

Cacao Beans with Chocolate Pieces

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help guard against UV rays. They also keep the skin hydrated and boost blood flow. While chocolate and bikinis seem a bit counterintuitive, a little of this delicious treat could help prevent sunburn.

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Leafy greens and herbs are packed with antioxidants that protect the skin. Studies have shown that eating dark leafy greens can stave off the reappearance of skin cancer.

Multicolored tomatoes

Red and yellow vegetables, such as bell peppers, tomatoes and carrots, are skin protecting super foods. Lycopene and carotenoids are the compounds to thank for reduced reactions to sunburn, and other skin irritations.

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Cruciferous vegetables are also packed with the ability to fight free radicals. Eat your broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels spouts to ward off cancer.

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Top your healthy meal off with a cup of tea. Both green and black tea are strong cancer fighters and one study claims that just one cup of tea per day can lower the incidence of melanoma.

Why not include these foods in your diet on a regular basis? In addition to their skin protecting powers, they all play roles in a healthy, balanced diet.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Don’t Pass the (Star)Buck

June 19, 2013

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Often, some of the controversial health bills passed in New York City become more widespread in time.  Such is the case with Starbucks, who today announced it would post calorie counts on all of their menu boards, nationwide.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking at having all restaurants with more than 20 locations post the nutritional information publically, allowing customers to make more informed decisions. Starbucks is one of the first to voluntarily post calories in their stores across the country.

In an effort to serve up healthier options the chain began offering sugar free syrups and switched to 2% milk, as it’s standard several years ago. Skim milk is also an option for customized drinks.

Would you pass on that double chocolate chip Frappuccino at 500 calories, and choose a 260 calorie iced Café Mocha, or a Skinny Flavored Latte at only 110 calories, if you were well informed? How about a 240-calorie croissant, instead of the healthier sounding banana walnut bread at a whopping 490 calories?

Informed decisions are generally better decisions, and Starbucks is taking a step in the right direction to make sure that their customers know what they are indulging in.

New York has successfully led the country in kicking the trans fat habit, banned smoking in public places and built awareness of the calories in their food.  Now how about those giant sodas Mayor Bloomberg is fighting to limit? Do you think that will eventually catch on as well?

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Nutrition Fiction

May 20, 2013

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While flipping through a popular health and wellness magazine today, I was a little surprised at some of their nutritional suggestions.

I am an armchair expert, admittedly with no formal training in nutrition and look to articles written by others to provide me with much of my information. Through this process, I have a heightened awareness of what is good for you, and what is not. Clearly, some of what I read falls into the latter category.

First up on the agenda: The 2013 Healthy Food Awards.

In this segment, 175 readers blind tested foods that the editors and contributing registered dieticians selected and deemed healthy.

The winners all came in a package, something that generally doesn’t spell “super food” to me.

With categories like “best potato chip”, “best nuked popcorn” and “best chewy granola bar” on the list, it’s hard to grasp the concept of these foods being healthy.

The next page featured celebrity chefs’ recipes using kale, which they dubbed “the holy grail of health.”

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Kale and Watercress Soup has white potatoes, whole milk and heavy cream. It is 252 calories per serving.

I don’t know about you, but the soups I usually enjoy are closer to 80-120 calories per serving. The potatoes, when pureed, should be enough to give the soup a creamy texture, making the heavy cream and milk unnecessary. Using broth instead of the dairy, would probably add more flavor to the soup, and a fraction of the calories and fat.

Instead of the suggested garnish of low fat sour cream, how about recommending a dollop of fat free Greek yogurt? It is lower in calories and fat than the sour cream, and is higher in protein and contains healthy probiotics.

As an avid and well-informed reader, I am concerned that a magazine of this type, would feature foods that are processed, high in saturated fat, and not the best, healthiest versions available. This is not a food magazine, where the flavor and ingredients take center stage, nutritional aspects be damned.

This is a magazine about healthy eating, fitness and wellness. They owe it to their readers to provide them with informed choices. High fat, high calorie soup is not healthy, just because it has a trendy super-food in it.

Processed foods laden with preservatives, huge amounts of sodium and a few unpronounceable ingredients, often in potentially toxic packages, are not healthy, just because they are organic, or lower in calories than their counterparts.

So how does the average consumer get real information about the seemingly healthy foods that are not in fact, as healthy as they seem?

Let me introduce you to a not so secret weapon called Fooducate.
Fooducate is a website and an app for smart phones that offers nutritional profiles culled from a huge database of supermarket foods.  The free app allows you to scan the food’s barcode, and it provides a breakdown of the item’s nutritional data from a list of ingredients to calories, fat and sodium contents, chemicals and preservatives, information about what makes it a good or bad choice, and sums it up with a letter grade. It is a valuable resource for those who want to make wise decisions in the food aisles. The app also offers daily tips, and can help zero in on gluten free or diabetic friendly foods as well.

Perhaps the experts featured in my magazine might benefit from swiping a few of the foods they list, before awarding them best healthy food status.

photo: Glasshouse Images


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