Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Let’s just have some fun today…

Here is some fun food trivia!

-Ice Cream is Chinese food

 –It takes the food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach

-On average there are 180 sesame seeds on a bun of a BigMac

-The first breakfast cereal ever produced was Shredded Wheat

-Worcestershire Sauce is basically an Anchovy ketchup

 –To burn off one plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field

-There are more nutrients in the cornflake package itself than there are in the actual cornflakes

-The powder on chewing gum is finely-ground marble

-There is more real lemon juice in Lemon Pledge furniture polish than in Country Time Lemonade

-If you shake a can of mixed nuts, the larger ones will rise to the top

-If you put a raisin in a fresh glass of champagne, it will rise and fall continuously

-Coffee drinkers have sex more frequently than non-coffee drinkers

-Chewing on gum while cutting onions can help a person from producing tears

– Bananas contain a natural chemical which can make a person happy. This same chemical is also found in Prozac

-Apples are more efficient than caffeine in keeping people awake in the mornings!

Use these as some great conversation starters in the lunch room. 

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Another McDonald’s Summer Beverage

We stopped at McDonald’s on our road trip because it is cheap, quick, right off the freeway, and I love their fries! Actually, a meal from McDonald’s can be quite healthy, especially if you stick to the salads but even my Dollar Menu meal of a hamburger, small fries, and a Diet Coke was not horrible calorie or nutrition-wise.  Granted, I don’t eat this way all the time, but once a month or so is a nice treat. 

There was a coupon on the soda cup for $1 off a frapee, frozen lemonade, or fruit smoothie. I’m not one to turn down a coupon so I thought about using this one.  Frapee is out because I am not a coffee drinker (I know, black coffee is good for you, but I just have never developed a taste for it), the frozen lemonade is definitely out (see the previous post about this calorie and sugar bomb), so I decided to check out the nutrition facts on the Mango-Pineapple smoothie.  As we’ve learned, just because it sounds healthy, doesn’t mean it is.

First, this smoothie has 210 calories in the small size, not bad but I still think it is alot for a beverage.   It’s not that much if you call it a treat in place of ice cream or a candy bar.  If this smoothie is good nutritionally, it might make the cut. 

It is very low in sodium and high in Vitamin C.  So far, so good.  Low cholesterol and very little fat!  Yay- it even has 3 grams of fiber, this might be a winner.  Let’s check the sugar…

Uh-oh.  45 grams.  That equals about 12 teaspoons of sugar!  I was hoping to find that it was from naturally occurring sugar in the fruit but it turns out that a “fruit base” is used that has most of the sugar, the rest is in the yogurt.  I could not find an ingredient list for the “fruit base” which is never good news.

Imagine sitting down with a cup of coffee and adding 12 teaspoons of sugar.  Or dumping 12 teaspoons on your bowl of Cheerios.  That sounds ridiculous yet that is exactly what you are putting into your body when you have this smoothie. 

The American Heart Association has recommended that adult men should consume no more than nine teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar daily, while adult women’s daily recommended intake is five teaspoons or 20 grams- for the WHOLE DAY.

So a man and a woman could split one of these smoothies but then eat no more sugar the rest of the day. Finishing one alone, on the other hand, will put either a man or a woman over their daily sugar limit.

Darn- I really wanted to use this coupon but eating that much sugar in one sitting is not worth the dollar. 

Oh- and don’t be fooled by the 150 calorie ice cream cone- this treat is considered 2 servings so it is actually 300 calories and 36 grams of sugar! ouch. 

Yes, this is TWO servings!
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Help-The scale is Stuck!

No matter how dedicated you are to losing weight, you will hit a plateau at some point in your diet. This is when weight loss stalls and the numbers on the scale just don’t go down, even though you are still following your diet and exercise routine. Yes, weight is just a number and does not take body fat into account, but it can be a useful tool when trying to shed some pounds.

Weight loss is 70 percent diet and 30 percent exercise. For any given dieter, making small changes in either area can get the numbers back in motion.

Beating the Diet Plateau
Try these tips for moving the scale in the right direction again — you may not even need all of them to start seeing a difference:

  1. Clean up your diet. There are four deadly sins of food: butter, cheese, fried food, and sugar. These things will keep you from making progress. Examine your diet to make sure you’re being honest with yourself. You can’t complain about your weight if these foods are part of your diet.
  2. Skip the alcohol. Alcohol not only adds calories- it effectively slows your metabolism and  reduces your motivation to work out and eat right.
  3. Go low-glycemic. If you are still eating refined carbs, get rid of them, especially before a workout. Eating a meal containing low-glycemic carbs about three hours before a workout results in more fat burned than a meal containing refined carbs.  I will explain more on this in a future post.
  4. Vary your exercise routine. If you go to the gym or head outside and do the same thing every time, change your workout.  Run today, lift weights tomorrow, swim on the next day, take a group exercise class the day after.
  5. Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Working out at different levels of intensity is thought to increase weight loss. Try weight-training for about 20 minutes, exercise at 85 percent of their maximum heart rate for about 10 minutes, do more weight training for about 10 minutes, and then finish with moderate cardio exercises.
  6. Strength train. Use weight training to build muscle. Each pound of muscle burns about 50 calories a day at rest. According to a national survey of more than 6,000 adults, about 19 percent of people who were successful with weight loss included weight training in their workouts.
  7. Use a heart rate monitor. It keeps you honest about the intensity of your workout. Figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Target your workouts so your heart rate stays between 65 and 85 percent of your maximum most of the time. People tend to work under their capacity, the heart monitor will keep you working at peak efficiency.
  8. Drink water. If you are not drinking enough water during the day, your body may be retaining water, adding to the numbers on the scale. How much to drink?  What is your weight?  Divide that number in half.  You should drink that many ounces of water each day.
  9. Exercise for more than 30 minutes every day. People who exercise at least 30 minutes every day are more successful with weight loss. Try to get in at least this much exercise — and increasing the time you spend working out every day will increase the caloric burn.
  10. Get the people in your life on board. Most people don’t sabotage your diet on purpose, but don’t let them convince you to eat bad stuff along with them.  Overweight people tend to have overweight friends.  Get them to join you in making changes-it might change their life!
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Nice to Mole You!

How many moles do you have?
  On average, most people have at least 10 but less than 40 and most moles develop before age 20.  Although the number of moles you have is mostly genetic, exposure to sun can cause you to have more and darken ones you already have.
 Are your moles harmless?  It depends…
>Congenital Moles are present at birth and are at increased risk for skin cancer later in life.   Only 1% of people have this type of mole, ask your mom if she remembers that any of your current moles have been there since you were born.
>Acquired moles are the most common and usually develop during childhood or early adulthood. These moles are usually smaller than a quarter inch, and are thought to be due to excessive sun exposure. Most acquired moles will not develop into skin cancer.
>Atypical moles  are larger than a pencil eraser and shaped irregularly. These moles are usually uneven in color, with a dark brown center. The borders of atypical moles may be irregular, with a lighter or reddish color, and unevenness or black dots around the edge. Atypical moles tend to run in families and they may be at increased risk of developing into skin cancer.
http://www.webflostudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/austinpowers_mole.jpg
Be sure to examine your skin regularly.  Some moles are in places you can’t see so you will need to get a mirror or a special someone to take a look around.  (please, wait until you are home to do this!)  Look for moles that fit into the atypical category or any new moles. If  you have a family history of atypical moles or skin cancer, or a large number of moles or freckles, your primary doctor may suggest that you see a dermatologist for regular skin evaluations.
Most moles are harmless, but getting any suspicious ones checked out quickly will enable you to detect skin cancer in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable.
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Take a 2 Minute Vacation Today…

Can you sit for 2 minutes and do nothing? This is not as easy as it sounds but it will do wonders for your well being.   Don’t read, don’t move,  don’t talk. Just tune out everything.  Start the video, sit back and breathe.  The video might not work on some computers so you will need to set your own timer.   Please set aside 2 minutes for yourself today.

Relax and enjoy this mini  vacation
(caution- there is sound if you are doing this at your desk)
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Car-Robics!

Toyota Avalon Limited - Front Angle, 2006, 800x600, 7 of 34
It’s not just a car, it’s a gym on wheels!

We just finished a 9 hour road trip through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and managed to get a workout in while we sat in the car.  These moves are good if you are on a long trip, or just a short drive.  Anytime you get a chance to work in a few moves, take it. 

1- Stop every hour to stretch.  I know this will add a few minutes to your trip, but you will feel SO much better.  Get out of the car, raise your hands above your head and reach to the sky with a big inhale then fold over at the waist and let your head, neck and arms relax down while exhaling.  Do this 2-3 times. Walk around for a few minutes to get the blood flowing to your legs.  Do a few more stretches and you are ready to go. This could potentially save your life as it will help prevent deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) that can occur from sitting for a long time. 

2-  Chest Lifters-While driving, grasp the steering wheel in the 9 and 3 position.  Pull outward as if your were tyring to expand the wheel.  Hold for 5 seconds and release, do 5 reps.  Next, press in as if you were trying to squish the wheel, hold 5 seconds, do reps. This will work biceps, shoulders, and chest. 
3- Butt Winks-Your butt gets tired and flat after sitting for so long so wake it up.  Squeeze just the right cheek and hold 5 seconds.  Release.  Squeeze the left cheek and hold for 5. Release.  Now it’s time to “wink” by alternating squeezing right then left, back and forth until you can’t do it anymore.  If there are 2 of you in the car, make it a contest- who can “wink their butt” for the longest time.  Or maybe who can wink the fastest! 

4- Bicep and Arm Toning– Reach up and grab the handle above the window.  Your arm is bent at 90 degrees.  Squeeze your bicep as if you were going to use it to pull you out of your seat.  Keep that muscle tight until you can’t do any more.  Ideally, you will be able to switch seats so you can do both sides!

5- Red Light Challenge!  While stopped at the red light, sit up as straight as possible.  Pull your shoulder blades back until they are touching. SQUEEZE and hold for the length of the red light. 

6- Banish the Slump–  We tend to sink into the seat and slump down.  Sit up straight.  Lift your shoulders up toward your ears and the bring them down and back.  Pull your belly button to your spine.  Push your butt way back in the seat.  Hold your head up and pull your chin back, don’t let your head drop forward.  Big breath in, fill your lungs, then big exhale out.  Keep this perfect posture for 10 big breaths. 

Whew!  You will arrive at your destination refreshed rather than needing to take a nap!

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Road Trip!

We are headed out for our annual summer trip to beautiful Detroit!  Our oldest daughter lives there she needs a good dose of mom and dad once in awhile.  
The plan is to take the northern route there, the U.P. is always fun and then we don’t have to hit Chicago and Milwaukee twice, we’ll get them on the way back taking the southern route.  We aren’t going to be in a huge hurry so I’m going to pack a cooler and stop frequently for snacks.  Our usual road meal is bologna sandwiches with American cheese and Miracle Whip.  I haven’t had one of these in awhile but since it is a tradition, I am going to make them, but make a healthier version. 



Let’s Give this a Makeover


Original                                                   New
OM Bologna 2 slices                             OM Light Bologna 1 slice
Kraft American Cheese 1 slice               Sargento Reduced fat colby
Miracle Whip 1/2 tbl                              Miracle Whip light 1/2 tbl
Wonder White Bread 2 slices                 Healthy Life 100% whole wheat 2 slices

Calories:    448                                          Calories: 200
Fat:           24 g                                          Fat:           10g
Sodium:    1,230 g                                     Sodium:    728 g
Fiber:          4 g                                          Fiber:          5 g

There are other ways to make this sandwich even healthier such as a low-sodium cheese or no cheese at all, using a high fiber bread, using mustard instead of mayo, but this is the way I like it.  As you can see, I can eat twice as many sandwiches and still take in fewer calories.  Yes, I know, I would also have to double the fat and sodium so I’ll just have one sandwich.  Maybe…

We really should have a turkey sandwich with tomato and lettuce but this is an old stand-by car food so we are going for it!  As you can see, by reading the label or Nu Val score, you can still eat some of your favorites but make them a bit healthier.  I’m just not going to make a steady diet of this one!

We’ll also have some baked Lay’s potato chips and some carrot and celery sticks to round out this meal.  For beverages we’ll stick with coffee for Randy, Diet Pepsi (my ONE vice) for me, and water for both. 

Dessert?  Yes, there will be fresh fruit in the car but we’ll most likely have Twizzlers for Randy and Junior Mints or Whoppers for me.  After all, it IS a road trip and one junk food item per day is allowed, it’s in the rule book- just make sure it is under 400 calories and has no trans-fats. 

Road Trips can also lead to a bigger bottom so tomorrow I’ll discuss Car-robics!!

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What the F***is all the fuss?

The new four-letter F word in healthy eating circles is FLAX.  It is almost impossible to find a cereal or bread that is not touting flax as an ingredient.  We are constantly being hit with new super foods (Acai berry, pomegranate, quiona, etc) and now we can add flax to the list.

Why Flax? 

For something so small, flax seed has big benefits. Recent studies have shown that flax seed may aid in lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, reducing bone loss, promoting weight loss, increasing immunity, and fighting cancer.
Flax seed is high in:
  • Vitamins and minerals, including most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese
  • Fiber, both soluble and insoluble
  • Phytochemicals, including many powerful antioxidants such as lignans. In fact, because it’s a plant, flax seed is one of the best sources of lignans around, Metsovas says.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, key to fighting inflammation. Flax seed is a mega-source of the plant version of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flax seed oil is about 50 percent ALA — five times more than walnut oil or canola oil, which are the next highest sources of ALA.

Flax seed may:

  • Lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reduce bone loss, help with weight management, improve digestive health, increase immunity, and fight cancer.

However, there are some concerns with the use of flax seed as well.  While the Omega-3 benefits of flax seed are good, using fish as an Omega-3 source is still better. People who have inflammatory bowel or digestive issues should avoid flax seed because of its laxative effects.  Pregnant women and those with reproductive issues and men with an increased risk of prostate cancer should also stay away from flax seed.  Please check with your doctor if you have concerns or questions.



Flax seed is also gluten free. And look at those Nu Val Scores!

 Flax seed comes in many forms, at Festival we have the Bob’s Red Mill in bags as well as in bulk and Flax seed oil, which is refrigerated.  It is best to buy the whole seed and grind it as you need.  Use a blender or coffee grinder and keep it refrigerated in an airtight container.  Flax seed will get rancid so grind in small batches.

How to Eat Flax seed:
Adults should eat no more than 1 tablespoon a day, 3/4 teaspoon for kids.  I will warn you, this seems small,  but it is a serious amount of fiber hitting your system so don’t start with 1 tablespoon.  Be prepared for some changes in your pooping habits as well as some major gas until your body gets used to it!  Trust me on this one.

 Ground flax seed can be sprinkled on yogurt, added to mustard or mayo on a sandwich, as a salad topping, added to cereal,  or mixed into meatloaf or meatballs.

Flax seed can be a great way to add fiber and nutrients that might be lacking your diet that can improve your heart health and digestive system so give it a try!

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I am NOT lovin’ it!

Contrary to their tagline “I’m lovin’it,” you should not be loving the new McDonald’s Strawberry Lemonade

 It looks so refreshing but here is the dark truth:

1- When the weather is hot- stay hydrated but avoid caffiene, alcohol, and high amounts of sugar.

2- A 16 oz serving of this lemonade has a WHOPPING 67 grams of sugar which is equal to 16 teaspoons!

3-The Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living says, “The real problem is that almost all sugar-sweetened soft drinks contain no beneficial nutrients, only calories, and with the adult and child obesity epidemic, encouraging reduced consumption of empty calories is the right thing to do. Not only do sugar-sweetened soft drinks have calories, they way your body perceives calories you can drink more than you can eat before becoming satiated. (This means your body does not count calories that you drink so these calories to not satisfy your hunger). Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are also associated with the development of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes.”

4-Too much refined sugar may raise your blood pressure and contribute to elevated triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood. Both conditions raise your risk of developing heart disease. High consumption of refined sugars may also increase body inflammation, aggravating arthritis or autoimmune conditions.

5-Bacteria in the mouth feed on refined sugars, creating tooth decay. Sugar causes glycoproteins to adhere to the teeth, resulting in the formation of plaque. The bacteria adhere to the plaque, and begin the process of decay. Avoiding sugary snacks is a recommended method of protecting your teeth.

So, what should you have instead?  Water is the obvious answer, but sometimes you just want something cold and fruity on a hot summer day.  I checked the frozen aisle and found these options. 





Edy’s No Sugar Added Fruit Bars
Nu Val=33
Calories=25
Sugar=1 g
Edy’s Fruit Bars with Superfruits
Nu Val=42
Calories=50
Sugar=11 g
 Nestle Frozen Lemonade Cup (also comes with strawberry)
        Nu Val=11
        Calories=90
        Sugar=20 g
        This is a 12 oz serving
Luigi’s Real Italian Ice
Nu Val=1
Calories=100
Sugar=20 g
This is a 6 oz serving. 
Cedar Crest Lemon Sherbet
Nu Val=3
Calories=120
Sugar=27 g
This is a 1/2 cup serving!
Other than the Edy’s, none of these are a great choice nutritionally but if you are looking for a frozen treat- head to the grocery store not to Mc Donald’s.  You can save many of calories and prevent several grams of sugar from messing up your insides! 
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Playground Workout!

It’s the first day of summer- as much as I love the gym, it’s time to take the workout to the playground!  We have a really nice school playground about a 5 minute walk from our house and it has the perfect equipment for a total body workout.  Lace up your tennis shoes and let’s go…

1- Warm up with some cardio for 5 minutes, this could be your brisk walk or bike ride to the school or park

2- Sit on a swing and hold the chains, then lean back about 45 degrees. Extend your legs straight in front of you with your feet together and toes pointed. Open your legs slightly to form a V, then cross your left calf over your right, contracting your core muscles to keep the swing as still as possible. Return to V position for one count, then cross your right calf over your left to complete the set. Do 12 to 15 sets.This is super for your abs.

3- Find a jungle gym bar that is 3-4 feet high.  Using an underhand grip and  keeping your hands shoulder-width apart, extend your legs in front of you until your chest is under the bar; place your feet hip-width apart. Pull your chest close to the bar by drawing your elbows alongside your ribs. Straighten arms and repeat. Aim to do five pull-ups; work up to 12 to 15.This is like an upside down push up. This is easier than pull-ups as your feet are resting on the ground but it is great for your upper back and biceps.

Jason Todd

4- Go to the slide (or use a park bench) to do some lunges for your butt and legs. Stand facing away from the slide and rest your left foot on the bottom of it; place your hands on your hips. Bend your right knee until your right thigh is almost parallel to the ground, but don’t let your knee move farther forward than above your toes. Return to starting position by pressing through your right heel. Do 12 to 15 reps, then repeat with the other leg. The leg that is on the ground is working, the one that is on the slide is there for balance. 

5- Push Ups- I do these on an angled ladder but you could do them on a park bench as well. Keeping your body straight, bend your elbows out and lower your chest almost to the ladder or bench.  Push up with a big exhale.  Do 10-15, really concentrating on keeling your abs tight and working your chest and shoulders.

6- Bench Dip- Sit on a bench and grip the edge with your hands shoulder-width apart. Scoot off the bench and extend your legs in front of you, bending your knees slightly.  The farther and straighter your legs are, the more difficult this will be. Bend your elbows and lower your butt a few inches toward the ground, keeping your back close to the bench; slowly press back up. Do 12 to 15 reps. This is working your tricep (back of your arm).  Don’t use your legs to push you up and down, all your weight is in your arms.  Bench Dip

These are just a few moves, look around and see what else looks like fun- I am trying to to regular pull-ups while hanging from the monkey bars, I am up to 2!!  These are difficult for women as we have weaker upper bodies, but I am going to keep working at it!

Do another 20-30 minutes of cardio (run/walk/bike/jumprope), then some stretches and you’re done!  Be sure to bring a water bottle with you and stay hydrated. 

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