Friday, December 30, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Weight Loss Resolutions

This past fall, I was sitting in lecture, in one of my RD Classes, when this girl next to me whispers: "Hey, hey, hey, what do you do? Diet-wise, what do you do?"

Before I even made sense of her whisper, she started at me, again: "I am thinking of doing that Paleo-Diet. Did you ever hear of that? Yeah, I'm thinking of doing that. Yeah, either that or the Engine2Diet."

I thought to myself, "Wait, aren't these diets total opposites? Girl, what you really need to do is lose that double espresso." The poor thing was fidgeting, blinking, twitching. Holy crap, my heart was beating fast just looking at her!
She was lost. Like so many people out there, she just wants a quick fix, a magic answer to lose weight and get "in shape."


So, on the eve of "Resolution Day", it makes sense to review some general guidelines that should be considered before committing to a program. Too many people follow crazy diets that, in two weeks time, compromises their BMI and leaves them hungry, desperate and susceptible to loss of bone and muscle mass, gallstone and kidney stone formation and weight gain at a faster rate than ever before.

Before starting a weight loss plan, ask yourself 5 Questions:
  1. Does it promote a healthy dietary pattern that you can follow for life?
  2. Does it promote a reasonable amount of weight loss?
  3. Does it promote physical activity?
  4. Does it promote a change in behavior?
  5. Is it scientifically sound?

"It's the best diet in the whole world!
I simply eat as much or as little air as I want!"
1. Does it promote a healthy dietary pattern that you can follow for life?
  • First and foremost, does the diet meet your nutrient needs? How about your health needs? Does it address problems you may have, like high cholesterol, blood pressure or anemia?
  • Is there enough variety, so you won't get bored? 
  • Do you like the food in that particular diet? Is it going to be easy to buy? Does it address any allergies you may have?
  • Does it require costly foods and supplements?

"They tell me I can lose twenty to twenty-five pounds in just four weeks!"
2. Does it promote a reasonable amount of weight loss?
  • Does the diet provide enough calories (not less than 1200 calories per day)?
  • Are realistic weight-loss goals established: 0.5 to 2 pounds per week?

"I hate exercising. I can lose weight without exercising."
3. Does it promote physical activity?
  • Does it include physical activity? Re: The ACSM recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week for health. This does not include ADL (activities for daily living) like walking up the stairs to your office or classroom, walking to the train station, dusting, vacuuming or gardening.
  • Why exercise? So you maintain your BMI
  • The ACSM is a wonderful resource and their brochures and fact sheets can provide ideas to help you develop an exercise plan that can work for you.

"Oh yeah, I am totally vegan all week long, 
so I can PARTAY LIKE MAD on the weekends!"
4. Does it promote a change in behavior?
  • Does the diet help you learn healthy eating habits?
  • Does the plan promote positive changes in behavior that can be maintained?
  • Do you have the social support you need? NOTE: People that care about you do not sabotage your goals, they are supportive of your goals. 

"Well, yeah, I know I'm eating a whole bunch of red meat and high calorie foods, 
but they say our bodies need fat & cholesterol!"
5. Is it scientifically sound?
  • Does the plan make sense, scientifically?
  • Did you get the plan from a credible and reliable resource such as health professional? 
The best diet resolution is the one that works for you: 
Every hour of every day of every year!

Some Basic Half-Crazed Suggestions:
Minimize Processed Foods
Cook Your Own Food
Beware of the Great American: Portion Distortion
Balance, Balance, Balance


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday's Track Workout: Sorta'

Today's track workout was a little different. After my 1.80mile warm-up, I spent the whole workout on the football field.
My feet thank you, coach!
The football field is turf and it is so squishy soft.

First, I had to do my strides, which consisted of eight 50yard dashes. With every 50yard stride, I jogged 50yards to recover. It's funny how the appeal of running on a soft turf surface fades when your gasping for air!

Next, I had to stride, diagonally, across the football field and recover with a jog along the back of the end zone. Once I hit the next corner, I was directed into another stride, again, diagonally across the field, with another recovery jog along the back of the end zone. I kept this zig-zagging routine up for 9minutes. Then I rested for 1.5minutes and repeated this football field zig-zag training for another 7minutes, with a 1minute rest, 5minutes, with a 30 second rest, and then for 3minutes more, until this torture finally ended!

Coach called this routine his "Kenyan Workout". Coach said that this was a great workout for me because like the Kenyans, I need to be able to surge during races, putting distance between me and other runners - like the Kenyans do!

Yup, that's me.
Just like Catherine "The Great" Ndereba
Surging ahead!

Hey, stop that laughing! I can dream!

Seriously, I love my coach. He has such faith in me. I didn't tell him that while he was trying to make a Kenyan runner out of me today, I was thinking:
'Oh my God, I am dying!' 
'There must be some other orifices that I can try to breath from?'

Seriously, there must be some secret additional way we runners can get oxygen into our lungs? Maybe the Kenyans have tapped into this secret and that's why they're so good! Hmmm...

Today, though, I stood there, listening to my absolutely adorable coach encourage me with all the love and faith in his heart for me: "Go out there on that Polar Bear Asbury Park run and do better than you did in the Ashenfelter Classic!"

I promised him that I would, totally encouraged by his faith in me and finished the day with a 2mile warm down, some plyometric exercises and the deep desire to keep my promise and
( a Kenyan)


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winding Down in 2011

It's been so much fun spending time with my family (not having to study or write a paper). Aaagh, I have even slept more than 5hours a night! It's been great!

A little too much Verve Clicquot, Jack, Cuervo and Fig Vodka, which if you haven't tried, caution: it is dangerously good! I'm not one for cakes or sweets. Although I do love my sissy-in-law's struffoli:
Yes, this plate was piled high to the top 1 day ago!
I had help: Mini-man is my partner in crime!
And my family's La Cucidati
Can't eat too many of these & then think you can
run without paying some price: They are full of figs & raisins!
BUT (no pun here) ....where I can really get myself into trouble is 
in the beverage department. 

This year, I was pretty good - well sorta. I indulged, but kept telling myself,
"Remember, you have to run 10 miles tomorrow." 
"Switch to water! DON"T let yourself down - 
you need to pound out seven miles tomorrow."

I held true to myself and my goals, 
which is not easy to do around the holidays.

I have another secret motivator: my stomach. I hate being doubled over in pain - although, I know some of you have been witness to this the last few days, through

The Gingerbread House Decorating Party:
My 7-year-old nephew: Presents on the roof!
My 5-year-old nephew: Love that chimney!
Girlfriend, I love your picket fence!
My Niece is 22! She still enjoys making a house! 
This one wins best outdoor patio!
Love the deck! Go mini-man!

Christmas 2011
Girlfriend loves Free People!
Ouch, so $$$$!
I know, it's a sad tree.
This is what you get when you go two days before Christmas in NJ!
Aww! They got each other presents ...on their own!
Mimosa's Christmas Morning
In the hot tub with Girlfriend!

And through enjoying NYC: Hustle & bustle & such ...
Sissy & her hubby!
Wow! Mini-man & Girlfriend are getting so mature!
Side-kick & Me!
It's all good! We health nuts
and CRAZY runners just gotta stay focussed, 'cause
We're Gonna Make It After All......

Friday, December 23, 2011

Food Facts Friday: La Cucidati

From a tiny farm in Sicily, Italy, to a little town in JerZey, past down from generation to generation, I present: La Familglia Italian Christmas Fig Biscotti, La Cucidati.

They take half a day to make, but they are so worth the time - especially when you make them together with your crazy family, year after year! 
Enjoy the pictures

Girlfriend Does Not Like Baking!
Making The Fig Filling!
My sissy was making fun of my shirt!
No, I am not in a chef's outfit!
Sissy! Sooo Sweet!
That's code for, "No, only a 1/4cup of sugar!!!!"
Ground Fig, Oranges, Raising and Glace Filling

Mom Icing and Sprinkling!
More Icing!
She was torturing me! Honest!
I am not crying, I am hysterically laughing, I swear!
Can't tell, but I am holding a pic of my Great Grandmother, Angelina.

Thatsa nice!

Quando si bella bicotti!

La Cucidati

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday W/O @ the Track

It's good to be back and running after taking the last four days off. I had way too much to do over the last four days and could not squeeze in a workout!

My son went to his 1st varsity high school wrestling tournament! I spent Saturday trying not to make a fool of myself screaming like a maniac. 
I have to say, I was a bit more composed than in years past!
Mini-Man! You had some good moments -
Keep working hard and DON"T give up!

On Sunday, my daughter performed in her holiday voice recital!
Wow! Just, WOW!
You have such a pretty voice, girlfriend!
And somewhere in between, I studied for 4 finals! 
Sleep - in the last four days - that was just a bad five letter word!

So, in spite of the rain, I was looking forward to training at the track, today. Today, I jogged a 2mile warm-up, did my 6 strides, and broke into a 7:20'mile pace for 1.5miles. I followed that up with a 400meter jog break and then another 1mile at that same 7:20'mile pace. It is my goal to run the Asbury Park Polar Bear Run on the 31st, at a 7:20'mile pace.

I was cold and soaking wet, but I finished today's track workout with a 1.75mile cool down jog.
I think my good friend, running, missed me too!
Hope you are able to squeeze in some good mileage during the holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Kombucha, A new discovery!

Without grossing you out with details, I thought perhaps a UTI might be in my future, so I was in search of some cranberry juice yesterday. After reading all the research articles on GMO foods, of course, my eyes lit up when I spotted this really cool glass jar with a label that read, "Organic & Raw Cosmic Cranberry". There it was, on the top shelf, in the veggie aisle at the grocers. I read the ingredients, "organic raw Kombucha and pure unsweetened cranberry juice & 100% pure love". Sounded good. I put the bottle in my cart, and moved on, thinking nothing of it. 
La, la, la....
When I got home, my daughter came to help me with the groceries. As we unpacked the bags, she spotted the juice, "Oooo, what's this?" I told her that it was some cranberry juice that I bought to try to keep a UTI away. She was grossed and decided that was enough of helping Mom. She was out!
She spun around on her heals, looked at me and said, 
"TMI, Mom, I'm gonna go finish my homework, now."

I moseyed on over to the bottle, opened it. It was cool & it had a little effervescence. It was also pretty tasty - not too sweet. I always water down juice, it's too sweet to drink straight, and sometimes it upsets my stomach. This drink, though, didn't need to be watered down. I really liked it, so, I started to sip and read the label.

Fascinating, how some times, I can do more than 1 thing at the same time!

As I read the label, I noticed it was a probiotic and I thought it might actually be good for my Crohn's Disease. But, what's Kombucha?
So, innocently, I Googled: 

"Oh, no." I started to panic. It has yeast? I don't want yeast - after a week of diarrhea and a possible UTI on the way? Absolutely not! Oh, goodness, what did I just put in my body?

Memory Flash Back: 1986, Senior year, Rutgers, School of Environmental & Biological Science. I was chosen to be a part of the George H Cook Honors research program. It was quite an honor! I was assigned an internship with an Environmental Engineering firm. Sounds great, right? Don't be impressed: I had to collect effluent from a factory, International Flavors & Fragrances. This factory is famous for making fragrances, perfumes and food flavorings. Yes, my dear friends, those strong tasty flavors in popular snack foods are made in the same place that makes expensive "French" perfume.
Sorry, but that $200 bottle of perfume did not come from here.
It came from here: IFF, Hazlet, NJ!
Anyway, I was hired to conduct research on a pilot plant, which was installed to treat the factory's waste water. This pilot plant was based on bacteria, which lived on these big discs, called rotating biological contactors. When the discs rotated into the waste water, the bacteria ate the waste in the water. When the discs spun up, out of the water, the bacteria were oxygenated.

I was such a nerdy little scientist - so proud of that pilot plant study!
But one day, it all came crashing to a halt.
I went to the factory to collect my effluent samples.
And what the...
White foamy-like stuff covered my rotating biological contactors.
 What was this stuff?
 It was slimy.
It was disgusting.
It was...
Oh, and by the way, my research, it was ruined!

Back to the present: I was freakin' out. I kept thinking, "What little bacteria I have in my intestines is going to be taken over by this yeast, just like my rotating biological contactors."

I googled the bacteria on the label: Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086
And I googled the yeast: S. Boulardii.
Okay, Relief: 
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086 is a great natural supplement developed by Ganedan Labs to help support digestive and immune health. This was a good to know, but what about this yeast stuff?

And, much to my chagrin:
S. Boulardii was also effective in treating and preventing gastrointestinal disorders. What luck! The S. Boulardii has also been shown to increase our immune system responses and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut! What a relief! I can breathe, again. And I can keep drinking this tasty beverage, "Synergy".
I needed to know more about this company, so I Googled: Synergy with this GT's Kombucha? I encourage you to visit the website. There, you will read an incredible story posted by this young man, GT, and his mom, Laraine. They started the company because Laraine discovered that drinking Kombucha, helped her deal with, and eventually beat, breast cancer! You go, Laraine!

Well, I really liked the Kombucha and am on a quest to see if it can help give me some relief in the tummy area, while building my immune system and keeping that UTI at bay!
Has anyone else heard of this stuff? 
Do you drink it? 
Has it helped? 
Is there something else you drink or eat that makes you feel like you have more energy?
Or maybe you feel like it's helping your immune system?
It would be nice to share, like Laraine did so we can all ....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life: The Hill Training Challenge!

Today, I was okay with the six 100m strides and my first set of four 300m at 6:30min pace - really, I was. But then coach told me to jog over, about 1/4 mile, to the base of a steep incline for hill training.

Jogging over, I didn't know how challenging this hill training would be. Every time I have ever tried to run this hill fast, I could only squeeze out a 8:10min pace. I convinced myself, "I can run it faster. I can do this, I'm strong. It can't be that bad. I can do this!"

I got to the bottom of the hill and started my run. As I climbed up, I started screaming in my head, "You can do this. Count to four. Again. Run faster. Relax. Breathe. Run. C'mon, move legs, move, let's go."
I ran 1/4 mile straight up, keeping a 7:45-8min pace. When I got to the top, I thought my chest was going to burst. And my legs, OMG, they felt so heavy.

All I heard, as I approached the top of the hill: Slap, slap, slap.
You know, that sound - 
That weird one your sneakers make when your feet hit the pavement flat 
because your legs are trying to remember how to run. 
It's complete and total proprioception! 
Your brain has to concentrate on your leg movement
to make sure your legs move the right way. 

"Wait, okay girl, you did it! You got to the top in a speed you never thought you could keep up on that hill! 7:45 min pace! YES! Okay, don't lose it: You gotta do this two more times."

Aaaagh! The complete and utter exhaustion, just trying to get to the top of that hill. Jogging down - heck that was God's blessing: The sun was shining, the sky was clear blue and the air was a crisp 42*F. "I got this. I'm gonna 'kill this hill' YES" Repeat, "You can do this. You're a winner. You are strong."

And, when the hill training was done, I ran back over to the track for the second set of four 300m at 6:30 pace. Really, coach? Another set?

After my mile cool down, I felt good. 
I felt strong.

I thought about how much I love running and how it mirrors life in so many ways:
You are stuck facing a challenge. 
You may have friends, family, a coach, a counselor or a therapist behind you. 
They are pushing you, but ultimately, 
It's you! 
You gotta face that challenge. 
You gotta do the work. 
Along the way, you may find some blessings. 
But you gotta do the work to find those blessings.

So what are you waiting for?
Face your challenge: 
Today, it is the day to FACE YOUR HILL. 
Put one leg in front of the other, concentrate, and climb to the top! 
I promise you, when you get to the top, 
you will be exhausted, 
but you will be a winner!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Studying for Finals!

Thirteen credits was way too much!
And now I'm stuck studying for finals!
One day, I WILL get this RD Certification!
In the meanwhile, my Finals Workout Routine has come down to this: Waking up at 5:03 to go to the gym,
to do one major body part every day, plus abs...

Back and Bi's on Monday, 
Chest/Pecs (LOL) on Tuesday, 
Shoulders/Delts and Tri's on Wednesday, 
Thursday off, 
Friday, my favorite: LEGS!
And I am still reaching for that 30mile per week goal!

My last exam is December 20, 2011!
I am almost done!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Sugar

"It's comin' on Christmas, their cutting down trees, putting up render and singing songs of joy and peace..."
Joni Mitchell!
Okay, I'm showing my age.
I still love listening to this song this time of year!

Yes, it is the holiday season! And with that comes sugar - sugar in candy, sugar in cookies, pies, cakes, breads, sugar in sweet alcohol drinks, sugar, sugar, sugar!

That's why, this week, when I got EWG e-mail on how much sugar is in the cereal we feed our children, I was shocked to see that the Honey Nut Cheerios had more sugar than three Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. Could it be? I had to check for myself.

It's 9grams of sugar per serving!

I haven't told my kids, yet - I don't know how to handle this one...
Oh no, Mom's gonna take our Honey Nut Cheerios away!
I think it will be more like ....
Pleeeze, pretty pleeze, just buy us the Chips Ahoy.
We'll sacrifice and eat those for breakfast!
So, that's when I got to thinking, what's a parent to do? How do we know what amount of sugar is okay? I mean, c'mon, 9, 10 or 12grams - those are some small numbers - they don't seem so bad, right?

I guess it's a little subjective: Some may say that they are okay feeding sugary cereals to their kids because at least their kids are getting some vitamins (if the cereal is fortified). And if the kids like the cereal, at least they are eating breakfast. 

Other's may want to find an alternative - but how do you know what to look for? How do you know if the alternative isn't just as bad? 
You need to check the Nutrition Facts label.
Honey Nut Cheerios Nutrition Fact Label
Look under Carbohydrate. Here you will find different values for: 
  1. Dietary fiber
  2. Soluble fiber - which is how General Mills gets to claim that Cheerios helps lower your cholesterol and is good for your heart. Soluble fiber pulls fat/lipids and bile out of your gut so you can pass it out in your poops. With less fat/lipids absorbed, there are less fat/lipids (LDL cholesterol) going into your blood, thus lower cholesterol and a happier heart.
  3. Sugars (see 9grams)
  4. Other carbohydrates.
Since 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar, you can take that 9 grams of sugar you found on the Honey Nut Nutrition label and divide it by 4: 
9 grams/4 = ___teaspoons of sugar
9 grams of sugar = 2&1/4 teaspoons of sugar

So 3/4 of a cup of Honey Nut Cheerios has 2&1/4 teaspoons of sugar. That's not so bad, but who eats just 3/4 of a cup of cereal?

This one is a real eye opener:
27grams of sugar
You do the math and tell me how many teaspoons of sugar are in that 1 serving (27 grams) of soda.