Tag Archive | weight management

CHRISTMAS is getting near! SASA’S practical TIPS for the festive season

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Her comes the next advice!

GET IN PERFECT SHAPE BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

Start NOW!

3 Want to LOSE WEIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS to fit into your party dress?

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Tune Up Your Immune System With Healthy Nutrition

by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND

Fruits and vegetables promote a strong immune system.

When my kids were little, I always braced myself for the ‘back-to-school cold’ that swept through the house during their first week back in the classroom. With the new school year upon us, kids are going to be bringing home more than just homework and new friends – they’re sure to bring home plenty of germs, too. Even if you don’t have kids at home, you’re still more likely to get sick as the weather turns colder – so now is a good time to look at all you can do nutritionally to help keep your immune system running in tip-top shape.

Despite what your parents or grandparents might have told you, you don’t catch cold from being out in the cold air (or, as my mother always insisted, from going outdoors with wet hair). But when the weather turns chilly, we spend more time indoors. That means we’re in closer contact with more people and there’s less air circulating, so we’ve got more exposure to the germs that can make us sick.

Related Article: Healthy Digestion, Healthy You

Your body has a built-in defense, of course – your immune system. It’s your own personal army of ‘soldiers’ that protects your body by identifying anything foreign – from a virus to a bacteria to a parasite – and then seeking it out and destroying it. Your body does rely on good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to keep your defenses up. For one thing, if you eat a healthy diet and take care of yourself, you’re more likely to maintain your good health.

Fruits and vegetables are key players because they provide an abundance of phytonutrients – natural compounds found in all plant foods that help to promote health by serving as antioxidants. You need antioxidants to balance out the processes in your body that cause oxidation. Oxidative processes are a normal part of metabolism, but oxidation can run rampant in cells if it’s not kept in check. And that can weaken the body’s ability to fight illness. So, your body relies on a steady source of antioxidants from fruits and veggies to reduce this oxidant stress and, in turn, help to support immune function.

Your immune system also has some ‘special forces’ in the form of white blood cells. These cells produce specialized proteins called antibodies that seek out and destroy invading viruses and bacteria. Since antibodies are proteins, you need adequate protein in the diet to ensure you’ll be able to manufacture the antibodies your body needs. Healthy protein foods – like fish, poultry, lean meats, soy foods and low-fat dairy products – provide the building blocks that your body needs to make these specialized proteins.

Keeping your digestive system healthy is also important in supporting immune function. Your digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria that have numerous functions in promoting health. Some strains of bacteria help you digest the fiber in your foods, others consume intestinal gas, while others produce vitamins, like vitamin K and vitamin B12. When your system is populated with these ‘good’ bacteria, they also serve to ‘crowd out’ the potentially harmful bacteria that might enter your digestive tract. Some of the best sources of these friendly bacteria are cultured dairy products – like yogurt and kefir.

Eating well really does pave the road to good health. To help your body in the fight against foreign invaders, your internal ‘army’ needs the best nutrition possible. So, call in the troops – and dry your hair.

Written by Susan Bowerman. Susan is Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a board-certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

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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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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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Survey says: Most summer bodies stayed under wraps this year by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND

Survey says: Most summer bodies stayed under wraps this year | Susan Bowerman | Discover Good NutritionIt’s late spring, and you’re standing in line at the supermarket, staring at the magazines.  The covers are graced with people who are tanned, toned and fit and the headlines scream, “get your bikini body now!” or “there’s still time to shape up for summer!”  And many of us do toss around the idea of getting rid of a little excess flab that’s been hiding under bulky sweaters and long coats all winter.  But how many people actually attempt to get in shape for summer?  And, when they slip into their swimsuits, how do they feel “letting it all hang out”?  In order to find out, Herbalife sponsored a nationwide survey* – and the results were really surprising. 

The survey asked 1000 men and women whether they tried to diet and exercise their way to a better body for the summer, and how they felt about being seen in swimwear.  And a large majority – 69% of the women and 76% of the men – said that they put forth absolutelyno effort to get in shape for the summer.

And while we didn’t gather height and weight data in the survey, it’s probably safe to say that most of those surveyed are carrying around more weight than they’d like.  When asked how they felt about their bodies being out in plain view, only 3.5% thought, “I’ve got it, so I flaunt it”.  And despite summer’s searing heat wave, more than half said they keep their bodies “under wraps”, 36% said they’re “embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit”, and another 16% avoid swimming situations altogether – because they simply don’t want to be seen.

Interestingly, the majority – 61 percent – admitted that while their bodies aren’t perfect, they were comfortable with what they’ve got.  And on the surface, that body acceptance would appear to be a good thing.  But when nationwide statistics are also showing that, as a nation, we’re just getting heavier and heavier, it could also suggest that our view of what a normal and healthy body looks like is shifting – in the wrong direction.  And, that may mean that many are simply giving up the fight to get fit – they’re working out less and loving it more.

With so many people keeping themselves covered up and avoiding the water altogether, a day of activity at the beach or pool is a missed opportunity for those who could really use it.  Swimming is a great cardio workout, and the natural resistance of the water helps to build muscle.  And a walk or jog in the sand at the beach really works the legs.

So now imagine that it’s next spring, and you’re standing at the checkout line, looking at the magazine covers.  Okay – maybe you can’t get a bikini body in time for summer – but you sure aren’t going to get one if you spend the summer on the couch.  Instead of avoiding the beach and the pool (or the mirror) next year, get into those swimming togs, get outside and get moving.  While it’s great to be comfortable with the body you’ve got, if you take care if it with proper diet and exercise, it’ll also be the best body it can be.

*Survey of US adult population, conducted by Synovate eNation, June 27, 2011 through June 29, 2011, margin of error +/- 3 percentage points.

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

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Training Mistakes: Fix It Right, Not Quick by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA

Choose the weight that’s right for you.

As you focus on your body composition goals, it’s important to avoid common training mistakes that can set you back.

The approach of summer is often a wonderful motivator to get people up, off the couch, and more disciplined with their nutrition plan. However, quite often the fact that the clock is ticking will make people start to cut corners with both their diet and training regimen.Quick fixes may seem like a good idea when you are short on time and want to see changes, but in the long term, cutting corners will set you back with your goals and negatively impact your health. Here are a few common mistakes that you can avoid with suggestions on what you can do instead:

Related Article:  How to Achieve Better Gym Performance

Avoid single body part challenges: I see these types of challenges online all the time, but unfortunately, many will have you overworking one specific muscle group putting you at a high risk of injury. Doing squats every day is bad for your hips and knee joints. Doing sit-ups every day means that you stop using the muscle fibers in your abs and instead start using your lower back, which creates imbalances. Doing push-ups every day can cause micro tears in the shoulder complex. I can list many more examples that are a bad idea for your long-term muscle and joint health. I believe it’s best to avoid a challenge that focuses on one specific part of the body.

Do: Participate in fun challenges that involve multiple exercises and are set with a moderate number of repetitions and adequate rest. In order for your body to get the benefits associated with repetitive exercise, the reps and rest time must be taken into consideration and both have to make sense. Most of our muscles work in pairs and therefore all strength training should be balanced. If you are trying to add more exercise into your day, consider doing a short bodyweight circuit. One day, the focus can be lower body and the next day, upper body. Try to avoid overusing one specific muscle group on a daily basis.

Avoid lengthy gym sessions: Training in the gym for hours on end may not get you better results, because more is not always better. Spending an hour on the treadmill at a pace that is not challenging, or lifting incredibly lightweights for long amounts of time, will have little effect on your fitness level or overall strength. Not to mention the stress caused by devoting so much time to the gym and getting little in the way of results.

Do: Go to the gym with the approach of quality over quantity. Think about what your goal is and train specifically in a way that will encourage desired adaptation in the body. If gaining strength and building muscle is your goal, you must choose weights that challenge you. Choose a weight that you can lift 8-12 times before reaching fatigue. Rest, then repeat for 3 sets. Consider doing HIIT training for a cardio and strength combination, or work in a circuit to maximize your time in the gym.

Don’t crash diet: The approach of the summer brings light to the many crazy crash diets that deprive your body of essential nutrients. Drastically cutting your calories, especially as you start to exercise more, can make you feel tired and prevent you from training at your best. The weight that is lost from a deprivation style crash diet is often not sustainable long term because you can lose lean muscle mass in addition to fat.

Do: Start making more conscious and healthy choices, and control your portion size. The goal should be to provide your body with the right balance of nutrients to support your energy output and recovery needs. As your exercise duration or intensity increases, make sure that you are eating enough protein, consuming enough water and getting a good balance of carbohydrates to get the most out of your training sessions.

Getting in shape is a process, one that takes both time and dedication. Quick fixes often don’t last for long and my favorite saying is, “Get fit and healthy for a lifetime, not just for the six weeks of summer.” When you make living a healthily part of your everyday lifestyle, reaching your goals may take a little longer, but the results will last.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

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How Your Dining Companions Influence Your Food Intake- by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND

How Your Dining CompanionsNo matter how much you feel in control of your own eating, when you eat with other people, your food intake is likely to be affected.

Think back to the last time you ate a meal by yourself. What did you eat? And how much? Chances are, you probably had a plan, and you probably stuck pretty close to it. You knew what you were going to eat (and how much), you sat down with your plate of food, you ate, and you finished. Now, think back to the last time you had a meal with another person – or with a group. Did you eat the same way that you do when you eat by yourself? Social science research would say probably not.

Related Article: Don’t Make These 5 Calorie Counting Mistakes!

The amount of food you eat at a meal is influenced by many factors – how hungry you are, how the food tastes, and even environmental factors like the color of the room, the lighting or the noise level. But there’s another big factor that can’t be overlooked – your dining companion (or companions) can greatly influence how much you eat, too.

The research in this area is really interesting. What it tells us is that the amount we eat at a meal is influenced not only by the eating habits of the person we’re with, but also the number of people who are at the table. And, even the gender of the person sitting across from you can have an impact.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, the way you eat in a social situation (as opposed to what you do in private) is influenced by something called modeling – in essence, you pattern your eating behaviors after the behaviors of those around you. As you eat with other people, their behavior influences your perception of what is the “right” amount of food to eat in a certain situation and, by modeling them, you tend to follow suit.

Light vs. Heavy Eaters as Dining Companions

When you eat by yourself, it’s a bit easier to pay attention to your body’s signals that tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full. That’s one reason why it’s often easier to control your intake when you eat alone. But when you are modeling other people’s eating behaviors, it’s as if these internal signals have been dialed back.

Interestingly, though, the modeling effect seems to be stronger when your dining partner is a light eater, rather than a heavy eater. What this means is that you’re more likely to model the behavior of someone who eats lightly, and less likely to eat more than you normally would just because your dining companion is over-indulging.

And that’s good news, because it suggests that when you eat meals with light eaters, it may help you to keep your portions in check, too. At the same time, it also suggests that when you share a meal with a heavy eater, there’s less of an influence on you to keep pace.

Same-Sex vs. Opposite-Sex Dining Companions

The gender of your dining partner may also influence how much you eat. The way men and women approach eating and food is a huge topic – and much too large a topic to be addressed here. But, in general, women tend to model eating behaviors of others at the table more so than men do. The reason for this isn’t clear, but one thought is that women may be more concerned with how others view their eating habits than men are – at least when they’re dining with companions.

However, women eat pretty consistently – whether they’re dining with other women or dining with men, their overall intake doesn’t change that much. On the other hand, men tend to eat larger amounts of food when they dine with women than they do when they dine with other men.

Perhaps this explains a finding from a recent study1 in which women said that when their dining companion was male, they estimated that they ate more than they actually did – and reported feeling as if their meal was rushed. (This didn’t surprise me. When I was teaching a few years back, I asked a group of college undergrads to write down an observation about the eating habits of the opposite sex. Most of the men said that women “hardly eat anything” or “just eat salad”. But the women, overwhelmingly, said the men eat…and I quote here…“like pigs”.)

Number of People You Eat With

The number of people you eat with can have a dramatic influence on how much you eat – partly because when you’re with a group, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re eating. While you’re enjoying the company and the conversation, you might mindlessly grab handful after handful of tortilla chips from the communal basket, or swallow another scoop of mashed potatoes without even realizing it.

We also tend to linger at the table when we’re with others, too. We’re going to stay at the table until everyone has finished – which just means there’s more time to keep eating and eating. If you’re a fast eater and the first one to finish your meal, you might dish up another plate of food so the slower folks at the table don’t feel as if they’re dining solo.

And, the larger the party at the table, the more you’re likely to eat. One widely cited study2found that – compared to eating a meal alone – eating with one other person increased meal size by 33%. With two other people, the meal was 58% larger, and with three other companions it was 69% larger. By the time there are seven or more people at the table, meal size nearly doubles – averaging 96% larger than a meal eaten alone. The reason for this isn’t entirely clear, but likely traces back to the fact that the more people there are at the table, the longer the meal tends to be.

Tips for Dining With Others

If you’re trying to watch what you eat, you might be thinking that you’re better off just eating alone – or, only with those who tend to eat less than you do. But let’s be real – dining with other people is a pleasure. And, as long as you are aware of how others might influence you to eat more than you should, you can make an effort not to be persuaded. Here are some tips:

  • In restaurants, try to order before everyone else does. That way, you won’t be swayed by what everyone else is choosing to eat.
  • Try to start eating after other people do, and try to set your pace with one of the slower eaters at the table.
  • Decide ahead of time what you’re going to eat (and how much) and commit to it.
  • Find a way to signal the end of your meal. You can leave a few bites of food on the plate, or place your silverware across the plate. Or, simply pop a breath mint in your mouth – and call it dessert.

1Knifflin et al. Evol Psychol Sci Published online November 10, 2015.

2J. deCastro. Nutrition 16:800, 2000.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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