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Family Fitness: Raise Healthy, Active Kids

by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

Get active with your kids.

Whether you want to raise superstar athletes or just emphasize the importance of physical fitness in order to raise healthy, active kids, it’s never too late to get started on a family fitness journey.

There’s never been a better time to get active with your family! If you’re looking to change your children’s current lifestyle and make healthier choices, then I have six great tips that may help you get or stay on a path to raising healthy, active kids. An active lifestyle is a great family goal that can be achieved with a few creative changes.

Related Article: Design Your Own Healthy, Active Lifestyle Plan

1) Talk to your child’s physician

I always advise that you talk to your child’s doctor about what kind of fitness is right for them —especially if it’s a drastic lifestyle change. The words ‘active’ and ‘kids’ used to go hand in hand, but in today’s modern world, many kids hardly ever run around or play sports. Going from complete inactivity to a sudden active lifestyle can be a shock to the system. All changes in physical activity should be gradual. Checking your kids’ health before making any lifestyle changes should be the first step to achieving your family’s fitness goals.

2) Create a routine

The best way to get going on your family fitness journey is to write out a schedule and pick two activity days per week. Consider planning outdoor activities such as hikes, bike rides or sports to make it feel less like a duty and more like playtime. The more you can involve your kids in the planning process, the more enthusiastic they will be about the change.

3) Embrace modern technology

If you have children that are reliant on modern technology such as computers, video games, and tablets, you might face a full-blown rebellion if you try to swap gadgets for family fitness time. Instead, you can embrace modern technology and ease into an active lifestyle with fitness games and challenges. There are many dance, fitness and activity games available that combine technology with simple tasks to help entertain kids into getting active. This tip shouldn’t take away from traditional outdoor activities, but it’s a step in the right direction.

4) Go back to basics and keep it simple

Remember how much fun it was to play a simple game of catch with your friends when you were younger? As you move towards more traditional fitness-based activities, focus on fun coordination and body awareness moves. Kids have developing nervous systems and would benefit greatly from engaging both small and large motor skills. These activities include kicking, catching and hopping, and they could feel more like a game rather than fitness.

5) Be smart about fitness

Children get so many ideas of what think they can do. Your child may see photos in the media of other kids lifting heavy weights. In reality, it’s not a good idea for children to be doing heavy lifting. There are differing opinions on the correct age that children should start lifting weights, and it’s a decision that should be discussed with your child’s physician. I believe doing exercises that use your body weight are a perfect way to build strength for kids and adults. I started my weights program at the age of 15. My husband started using weights at the age of 17, and we’ve both been successful in the fitness world. My children will be well into their teens before they touch a weight. Until then, they’re going to have fun with squats, pushups and playing on the monkey bars!

6) Lead by example

The greatest gift you can give your children is to lead by example by practicing healthy habits. Try popping in a fitness DVD or follow a fitness routine on the computer to set an active example. If your young children want to join in, you should let them! Just make sure they stay away from the equipment, especially weight machines and treadmills. A fall on a moving treadmill can cause permanent scarring and burns (I know this from personal experience – you don’t need to make the same mistake!).

We can all make healthier choices to lead our children down a healthy, active path. If you keep it fun for them, you can set them up for a lifetime of being active.

Written by Samantha Clayton, A.F.A.A., I.S.S.A. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.


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Why the Glycemic Index can help you choose a healthy diet by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND

Why the Glycemic Index can help you choose a healthy diet | Herbalife nutrition adviceThe term ‘glycemic index’ is one that’s heard more and more these days.  So much so, that it suggests that most people actually know what it means.

In reality, the Glycemic Index concept is not all that easy to grasp, but it’s is one worth understanding, since it relates to the overall quality of the diet and also has implications for weight management.

The Glycemic Index looks at the effects of carbohydrate-containing foods on sugar levels in your bloodstream.  Whenever you eat and digest carbohydrate-rich foods – foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and sweets – the end result is a rise in your blood sugar (your blood glucose).  This sugar in your blood is important – it’s the primary fuel for your brain and muscles and is, in large part, what keeps you going mentally and physically throughout your day.

But not all carbohydrate-containing foods cause your blood sugar to rise to the same degree – and this is where the Glycemic Index (or GI) comes in.  The GI ranks foods according to how much – and how rapidly – they cause the blood sugar to rise after they’re eaten.

How was the Glycemic Index established?

The first paper on Glycemic Index was published over 30 years ago,1 in which a small group of healthy people were used to establish the index.  The volunteers were fed each of the 62 foods in whatever amount was necessary to supply 50 grams of carbohydrate (which varies a lot from food to food – it takes about 60 baby carrots but a mere handful of cooked white rice), and their blood sugar measurements were then taken several times over a 2-hour period.  The effect of each food on blood sugar was compared to the effect of 50 grams of pure glucose (the form of sugar in your bloodstream), which was given a value of 100.  So, foods that caused the blood sugar to rise quickly and steeply had a number closer to 100, while foods that caused a less dramatic rise in sugar had a lower GI.

Which foods have the highest Glycemic Index?

The highest GI foods are those that are low in fiber, but starchy or sugary – foods like white bread, sweet breakfast cereals, noodles, fruit juices and white rice.  Since they are digested and absorbed relatively quickly, these high Glycemic Index foods tend to cause fairly large and rapid rises in blood sugar.

Now, this burst of sugary energy might sound like a good thing – after all, we need sugar in the blood to fuel our activities, but not in such large surges.   That’s because a quick spike in your blood sugar is often followed steep drop – and suddenly you’re craving something sugary to boost your blood sugar levels back up.  And then, the cycle starts all over again.  If you wind up snacking on sugary foods all day long, there’s a good chance you’ll take in more calories than you need –  which will be put into storage on your belly and thighs.

Which foods have a low Glycemic Index?

On the other hand, the lowest GI foods are those carbohydrate-rich foods that are whole and unprocessed. So, vegetables, whole fruits, beans, and most 100% whole grain foods – like brown rice, rolled oats, barley, quinoa and 100% whole grain bread – have relatively low Glycemic Index rankings.  That’s because they’re high in fiber – which means they take longer to digest – and so your blood sugar rises more gently after you eat them.

Rather than a big spike in blood sugar, these wholesome foods lead to a slower release into your bloodstream, which provides you with more sustained energy.  And, thanks to their high-fiber content, they’re more filling, too – so a diet that emphasizes low GI foods can be a good strategy for weight control.

What really matters:  the total carbohydrate load of your diet

If you use the GI as a guide to choosing what to eat, it can steer you towards foods that are less “carb heavy” – like whole grains and veggies – with fewer calories per bite. But you should know that this isn’t always the case.  Some foods (like ice cream) have a low Glycemic Index because their high fat content slows digestion – which means they don’t cause a big spike in blood sugar after they’re eaten.  On the basis of GI alone, you might conclude that ice cream was a good thing to include in your “low GI” diet.

On the other hand, some healthy foods have a high Glycemic Index value which can be a bit misleading if you don’t consider portion size.  Take watermelon for example.  You’d need to eat 5 servings of watermelon to get the 50 grams of carbohydrate needed to determine the GI.  But a typical serving doesn’t contain nearly that much – and doesn’t contribute much to the overall carbohydrate load of your diet.  If you were to focus on GI values alone, you might end up omitting some healthy fruits unnecessarily.

That’s why it’s better to look at the Glycemic Index of your diet as a whole, rather than getting hung up on individual foods.

Adjusting the Glycemic Index of your diet

To cut back on your high GI foods and reduce the carbohydrate load of your diet overall, here are some switches you can easily make.

Instead of white rice and potatoes, switch to brown rice or other whole grains like cracked wheat, barley, millet or quinoa – or substitute beans, lentils or sweet potatoes.  Rather than drinking a lot of calories from high Glycemic Index fruit juices, eat whole fresh fruits instead – have berries on cereal, or a whole piece of fruit for a snack or dessert. Switch from refined white breads, crackers and snack foods to products that are made with 100% whole grain – or try nuts instead of chips for snacks.

Whole and lightly processed low GI foods are more bulky and filling than their refined cousins, which means they retain their natural vitamins, minerals and healthy antioxidant phytonutrients, too.  And that means that you get more nutrition for your calories.   By swapping out the high Glycemic Index foods and replacing with more low GI items, you can greatly reduce the overall carbohydrate load of your diet – which can help you with calorie control while providing a healthy nutrient boost, too.

1Jenkins D et al. Am J Clin Nutr 34:362; 1981

Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.


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Eating Right at Night By Luigi Gratton, M.D., M.P.H.

Eating a balanced diet means that you’re taking in a variety of healthy foods at reasonable intervals throughout the day – it doesn’t mean that you “balance” healthy foods eaten during the day with junk foods like pizza and ice cream at night.

But for many people, when the sun goes down, so does their willpower. While they can maintain their sensible eating habits during the day, evening often signals the start of an unending food fest until bedtime.

Strange as it may seem, one of the best solutions to controlling your appetite after dark is to eat more often during the daylight hours. Heavy evening snackers often lack a regular eating pattern – one that includes sensible meals combined with healthy and nutritious snacks.

Putting the Myth to Rest
You’ve probably been told that eating late at night is detrimental. But while your calorie needs are lowest during the night, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that the calories ingested at night are stored more efficiently than those eaten at other times.

Eating foods later in the day rather than earlier is not what leads to weight gain – what matters is your daily caloric intake as a whole. No matter when you eat, if you take in more than you need, your body stores any extra calories as fat. Curbing evening snacking habits leads to weight loss simply because fewer calories are being taken in over the course of the day.

Feeding Frenzy
We do tend to eat most of calories late in the day – Americans eat more calories during dinner than at any other meal. And if you tack on the calories eaten after dinner, it really adds up.

There are several reasons these unhealthy patterns are so commonplace. Some people don’t eat enough during the day which can cause blood sugar levels to drop. This can make people overly hungry and result in overconsumption at night.

Many people are too busy to plan meals – they may dash out the door in the morning with little more than a cup of coffee, and then try to power through the day without taking time to eat properly. It’s no wonder that by the time they get home at night, they’re literally out of gas.

Others are simply eating as an emotional escape from stress or to beat boredom. We tend to mindlessly reach for junk food during sedentary activities such as watching television or using the computer – and we then associate these high calorie foods with relaxation and keep the habit going.

Meal Planning and Suitable Snacks
Putting in the right fuel – and at the regular intervals during the day – is one of the best defenses against nighttime nibbling. Breakfast and lunch meals should provide plenty of protein to keep your mind sharp and hunger at bay as well as some healthy carbs like fruits, veggies and whole grains to maintain blood sugar. A protein shake with fruit is a great way to start the day – otherwise, try an egg white omelet with fruit, a dish of plain nonfat yogurt with fruit, or a quick bowl of oatmeal with some protein powder stirred in.

protein shake also makes a quick and satisfying lunch, especially when you’re too busy to stop and prepare a meal. Other good choices? Try a salad with some grilled chicken or fish, or a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with some fruit for dessert.

When energy starts to slide in the afternoon, one tactic that works is to have a substantial snack – almost a “second lunch” – between lunch and dinner. A protein shake or bar, a half sandwich, some soy nuts, or a dish of cottage cheese and fruit are all appropriate choices.

By putting more nutritional emphasis on your daytime meals and snacks, it’s likely you won’t be nearly as hungry at night, so your dinner meal can be lighter and smaller.

The next time you feel like “midnight munching,” think about the benefits of a healthy, protein-powered snack earlier in the day. The nutritional difference will be like night and day.

Dr. Gratton also serves as vice-president of medical affairs at Herbalife.


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VIDEO: Quick Recipe: Herbalife Formula 1 Chia Berry Pudding | Herbalife Healthy Eating Advice

Quick Recipe: Herbalife Formula 1 Chia Berry Pudding | Herbalife Healthy Eating Advice

Chia seeds are full of fiber, omegas, potassium, and magnesium. Combine them with your favorite Herbalife Formula 1 and a few other ingredients and you could enjoy a delicious and nutritious treat!

Nutritional Facts:
350 calories
8g of fiber
12g of protein

• 8 oz. (250 ml) of lowfat milk (may substitute with soy milk)
• 2 scoops of Herbalife Formula 1 Berry
• Two tablespoons of white chia seeds
• ½ cup (100 g) of mixed berries (rasberries, blackberries, and blueberries)

In a shaker bottle mix 8 oz. (250 ml) of lowfat milk, 2 scoops of Herbalife Formula 1 Berry and 2 tablespoons of white chia seeds. Shake bottle to mix well and let it sit for a few minutes. Periodically pick up shaker bottle and mix again, let the mixture sit a few minutes until chia seeds absorb liquid.

Mash ½ cup of mixed berries in a small bowl then scoop the mashed berries into the bottom of a glass cup. Shake up the mixture in the shaker bottle and pour over the berries into the glass cup. Cover glass with plastic wrap and let it set overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day remove it from the refrigerator, your pudding should look thick and the chia seeds gelled. Serve and enjoy!


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