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Eating Healthfully when you’re a busy person: It’s not that hard!

October 20, 2016

When I counsel people in nutrition, many of my clients lament that they are too busy to eat nutritious meals. While I sympathize with them, I assure them that it can be done!  My husband and I both work full-time and pursue a number of other interests, but we make a point of preparing simple, healthful meals that are delicious and I can assure you “It’s not that hard!”

Here are some GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHFUL MEAL PREPARATION:

  1. Use your freezer: stock up on frozen protein, veggies and fruit; freeze extra servings of meals and snacks you prepare (even smoothies!).
  2. Learn to prepare simple, healthful meals made of “real food” at home, minimizing dining out if possible. You’ll not only eat more healthfully, you’ll save money.
  3. Examine the number of ingredients when purchasing packaged foods and beverages. The fewer ingredients the better and be sure you can identify those ingredients without googling them.
  4. Set  up a grocery delivery account. It saves time, reduces temptation and is very affordable.
  5. Watch the liquid calories! Juice, soda, alcohol calories all add up to empty calories.
  6. Focus on high nutrient density, but low-calorie/high volume density foods 80 percent of the time. Allow some room to enjoy dessert, alcohol and/or fast food (or whatever non-nutritive calories you enjoy) the other 20 percent of the time.
  7. Listen to your body – eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re 2/3 full.
  8. Most of all:  be proactive rather than reactive with your meals and snacks! Planning ahead doesn’t take much extra time and it makes all of the difference!

SAMPLE, HEALTHFUL EASY MEALS:

Here are examples of easy, healthful meals you can make in a jiffy!

Breakfast or Brunch:  scramble 2 or 3 whole eggs with kale or spinach and mushrooms. Slice avocado to garnish and add a side of fruit and a glass of milk.

Lunch:  entrée salad with chicken, black beans, salsa, tomatoes, avocado, field greens or romaine lettuce; cup of tomato or butternut squash soup

Dinner:  grilled, broiled or poached salmon with dill; green beans, broccoli or brussels sprouts; baked sweet potato with butter or olive oil.

Breakfast:  Greek yogurt (plain, full fat); blueberries; an ounce (palm full of nuts –  walnuts, almonds or pistachios;  slice of whole grain toast spread with peanut butter or almond butter or save as mid-morning snack.

Lunch: Tuna sandwich with  can of water packed albacore tuna mixed with Tbsp of mayo, baby spinach leaves, sliced beets, whole grain or sourdough bread.

Dinner:  Grass fed skirt or flank steak (marinated in tamari or soy sauce) broiled or grilled, cauliflower rice, drizzled with olive oil or melted butter; large salad with romaine and red leaf lettuce, roman tomatoes, broccoli slaw, mung bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts; avocado with seasoned rice vinegar and olive or avocado oil.

Dessert can be healthful. Here are some ideas: frozen cherries, berries or frozen banana slices in 2% or whole milk – let the milk sit out for an hour some it’s close to room temperature and then just add frozen berries or banana slices and stir. “Dessert potato”:  bake a small sweet potato and drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spices. Frozen smoothie:  freeze half of your next smoothie and enjoy later as a frozen dessert.

Be Well,

Carolyn

 

 

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Aquanimity®: Balancing Mind and Body With Aquatic Movement

November 4, 2015

You’ve no doubt heard of “equanimity”, defined as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper”, but did you know that you can achieve both mental and physical serenity by moving in warm water? Hence I’ve coined the term “aquanimity®” as a word to describe the balancing of mind and body through aquatic movement.

Whether you engage in high-intensity deep-water athletic training or gentle, rhythmic “ai chi”, a form of aquatic tai chi, or an aquatic yoga flow using a noodle, moving in warm water balances both mind and body,  facilitating a state of Aquanimity®.

In my work as an aquatic therapy specialist, I frequently witness the freedom warm water gives individuals who are unable to move with ease on land. But moving in a warm, aqueous environment also fosters a mental tranquility. Sometimes I wish I could show my clients video of themselves before and after an aquatic therapy exercise session. What a difference in the way they move and in their demeanor before and after they’ve moved in the water for an hour.

So if you’re in the need for some mental and physical balance, look no further than your nearest warm water pool.

Be Well,

Carolyn

 

Staying fit on Vacation – Part II

April 17, 2014

In our previous post, travel expert Kendra Thornton and I wrote about staying fit and healthy when traveling. In this second part post, Kendra gives specific  tips for healthy family vacation travel.

Now that Spring has arrived, visions of summer vacations are dancing in my head. But… as much as I like to travel, I don’t like to venture far from my healthy habits. And the good news is that we don’t have to. The key to staying fit while vacationing is planning ahead. Just as you would with your travel itinerary, create a wellness itinerary outlining how you will exercise and eat healthfully while you’re away from your usual routine. With a little forethought you’ll return from vacation refreshed and restored.

1. Exercise from the Start

Start your vacation right by exercising en-route to your destination. If you have an airport layover, check your carry-ons in a locker and walk briskly around the terminal rather than sitting and waiting for your flight. (Staying active in the airport also helps kids settle down when they finally board the aircraft). Once you’re sitting in the airplane, try the following exercise to enhance circulation: alternate pointing and flexing your toes approximately 20 times every one to two hours. If you’re traveling by car, stop every couple of hours so everyone can stretch their legs and take a brief walk.

2. Eat Well From the Start

Vacations don’t have to be a downfall for healthful eating habits. Here again planning ahead is critical. Eat a nutritious meal before your flight so you and your family won’t be tempted by the airport food court. Carry some nutrient-dense, minimally processed snacks on the airplane or in the car (unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, carrot and celery sticks and snap peas with a hummus dip, hard-boiled eggs, whole grain crackers and string cheese). If you’re traveling by car, bring a cooler filled with healthy foods and beverages. Book a hotel with a kitchenette and bring some cooking tools from home so you can make some of your own meals. It’s a healthful and economical alternative to eating out in restaurants. My husband and I have been known to pack our mini-George Foreman grill so we can grill salmon or chicken or make a veggie frittata.

3. Build in Fitness

If you’re visiting a city, build in exercise by taking a walking sightseeing tour. For fun, carry a pedometer to track how far you’re going and have everyone in your group guess the number of steps you’ve taken. Or, rent bicycles and cycle to see the sites. My husband and I try to rent a tandem bike when we travel. It’s a great way to see city sites and venture outside a metropolitan area. Exploring your surroundings on two feet or two wheels will give you a new perspective on your destination.

4. Aim to Maintain

Finally, aim to maintain rather than gain fitness when traveling. Stay flexible and fit in fitness when and where you can. Exercising on vacation should be playful and fun so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stick to your home routine. Likewise, strive to eat healthfully most of the time, allowing for a few indulgences. With a little creativity and a bit of pre-departure planning, you can keep your health fitness from taking a vacation when you do.

Bon Voyage and Be Well!

-Carolyn & Kendra

 

Staying Fit on Vacation – Part I

April 11, 2014

In this two-part post, travel expert Kendra Thornton and I will discuss ways to stay fit and healthy while traveling. In this first part, Kendra offers her tips for healthful family vacations:

My family’s health is of utmost importance to me. At home, I regularly pack healthy snacks for the kids to take to school. The entire family exercises regularly, and each of my children is involved in sports. When we go on vacation, our routines are different, but I always make sure that we get healthy nutrition and plenty of exercise wherever our travels take us.

1. Checking In

Hotels today offer several amenities to fit the active, healthy family. I make sure to book hotels with well-equipped fitness centers because this is a great way for me to be able to get a quick workout completed in the mornings before my kids wake up. Some hotels offer other fitness amenities such as running trails or bike rentals. I was able to find one for our upcoming trip to Orlando. With so many hotels in Orlando sites like Gogobot can make the process a little easier. I also always refuse the key to the minibar to help my family avoid the temptations of midnight cravings. To combat high-calorie indulgences at the vending machine, I often stock our hotel fridge with healthy snacks such as fruit, fresh veggies or low-fat yogurt snacks.

2. Playing in the Water

Water sports offer lots of high-energy fun for families on vacation. My kids love boating, and we’ve enjoyed a variety of water-faring vessels as a family. Paddleboats and canoes are great for building muscle and getting an aerobic workout. Water sports such as skiing, surfing and parasailing also burn calories. You can even burn calories sailing or enjoying time on a Wave Runner. For fun without a boat, swimming or splashing in the water can provide plenty of activity.

3. Eating Out

You will eat out when you travel, but you can take steps to make adventures in eating out more nutritious and less caloric. I like to research local restaurants before going on vacation. I find places that serve local produce because I know the cuisine here will be healthier for my family. I also look for restaurants that feature lite-and-fit menu options or vegetarian fare. Mediterranean restaurants almost always have healthy offerings for my family to enjoy.

4. Playing Games

There are many ways to have a good time on vacation. My family tries to focus on staying active. Most popular vacation destinations have a wide variety of venues for getting active. You can play horseshoes, badminton, shuffleboard or catch at a lot of parks. On a vacation by the beach, you can have fun with Nerf items. Running foot races together is another way to work some healthy activity into your vacation. Depending on the age and fitness level of your family members, you might even enjoy a vacation centered around physical activities such as hiking or climbing.

Staying healthy is important for every family. I know my family has more fun on vacation when I take active steps to keep them healthy throughout the trip. We enjoy spending time together away from home, and sticking to a healthy routine helps us more easily return to life as usual when we come back. I hope my tips and tricks have inspired you to have a more healthy vacation with your family this year.

Join us next time for more healthful travel tips.  Until then….

Bon Voyage and Be Well,

Kendra and Carolyn

 

Healthy Anti-Aging from the Inside Out

October 31, 2013

Aging is a strange phenomenon. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been alive a long time, other times I can’t believe I’m 46 years old!  Where did the time go? I still feel young and though I have more wrinkles and can’t run as fast as I used to, I do believe my healthful lifestyle is helping me  fight the aging process naturally. In fact the top 5 best anti-aging methods I incorporate and endorse are free and already at your fingertips:

1.Get a restful night’s sleep during the week and on weekends:  Besides makeup, what’s the best way to get rid of the bags and dark circles under your eyes?  Sleep 8 hours – it will do wonders for your mood as well as your looks. It’s also great for your brain. Have you noticed that as you age your short-term memory really suffers after a poor night’s sleep? If you’re having trouble either falling or staying asleep steer clear of Ambien and other prescription sleep drugs. Keep lavender oil (uncorked) by your bedside. Try a few drops of a tincture of valerian root in a cup of water or milk an hour before bed. Have a light, sleep-inducing snack of half a banana and a glass of milk an hour before you retire. You’ll sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed.

2. Eat a balanced, whole foods diet: You are what you eat is never truer than when it comes to anti-aging nutrition. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-aging antioxidants. Combine them with some lean proteins and healthy fats and you’ve got balanced, nutrient-rich meals. Avoid all simple carbohydrates with not only increase inflammation in your body but also reduce collagen production – both of which age your skin and your body.

3. Avoid alcohol – or drink only moderately:  Many times middle-aged women come to me for advice wondering why thy can’t lose their “muffintop”even though they’re eating very little. Not only does alcohol lead you to gain visceral (abdominal-area) fat, it also dehydrates you and your skin, while giving you that unwanted puffy appearance. I have an expression I use with clients when it comes to alcohol consumption:  “a glass of wine may be good for your heart (1/2 glass for women), but any more than that is bad for your waistline” – which is ultimately bad for your heart.

4. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – ideally six days a week. According to the authors of “Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond”,  the most important thing we can do to turn back the biological clock is to exercise often – preferably vigorously.  Just like a car is designed to be driven, your body is built to move. Not moving can lead to weakness and disease. In fact being sedentary is now one of the top risks for Cardiovascular Disease – equivalent to smoking.

5. Stay Sexually Active:  Yes, having sex on a regular basis, ideally with a committed partner, is great for balancing your hormones – which is in turn good for your skin, your hair and your mood. It’s also great for your relationship!

The good news is that it’s never too late to adopt healthier lifestyle habits that can restore your body to good health even in the later years of life. Healthy behaviors such as quality sleep,  regular, vigorous physical activity, balanced nutrition and an active sex life can all not help reduce your risk of developing many chronic diseases later in life but also enhance your quality of life as you age.

Be Well,

Carolyn

Tandem Adventures Part II: Paris

November 9, 2012

In my previous post I described my tandem bicyling adventures in Bend, OR at the National Masters Cycling Championships. From the week in Bend we arrived home exhilirated and excited for our next trip – for only 11 days later we were leaving for France where my fiance, Chris,  was competing in the World Duathlon Championships in Nancy, a small city in the north-eastern part of France. During our 3 days in Nancy, we had the pleasure of interacting with world class athletes from a number of nations and enjoying the hospitality of the charming city. Then it was on to Paris for five days of fun, including some tandem riding in this not-so-bicycle friendly city. We rented a tandem on our second-to-last day in the city with the intention of riding the 50-mile round trip to Versailles. We had researched and found a route that not only had us touring some of the more picturesque parts of the outskirts of Paris, it would also allow us to visit the Palace of Versailles and some of the grounds that were harder to reach on foot.  Unfortunately, it rained the morning we rented the bike so we had to forgo our Versailles plans and instead ride around the city. Weather aside, had we known how treacherous bicycling in Paris would be, we might have abandoned the idea altogether. Mon Dieu! In four hours we pedaled on cobblestones along the Seine River; circled the Tuileries Garden located between the Louvre and the Place de Concorde only to find out bicycles weren’t permitted :(; made it to the Arch de Triomphe just as a thundershower hit; and navigated the streets of Paris among cars, buses, taxis, trucks and the dreaded scooters!  Yes, among all of the vehicles on the road, the scooters were by far the most aggressive and obnoxious.  Well thanks to the excellent navigation skills of my tandem captain, Chris, we made it back to the rental shop without incident.  Exhausted (more from the tension than the exercise) but glad for our efforts we continued our Paris tour on two feet rather than two wheels!   Be Well,  Carolyn 

Sit Ups Won’t Reduce Belly Fat

September 6, 2011

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you can’t spot reduce!  Doing a million sit-ups will not give you that six pack if you’ve got belly bulge. But don’t take my word for it: new research found that six weeks of 5-day-a-week abdominal training made no difference in abdominal body fat and abdominal circumference among a group of 24 sedentary subjects. On the positive side the subjects did improve their abdominal muscular endurance. If, however, the researchers had combined subjects’ torso training with some aerobic interval training, their subjects would likely have lost belly fat as well.

So beyond the desired appearance of a lean torso, why is it so important to reduce belly fat? Evidence is mounting that belly fat is a significant marker of cardivascular disease risk. While core training is important for spinal health, but it’s not going to remove your belly fat or, another myth, turn fat into muscle. You need to burn body fat systemically to reduce the subcutaneous fat that resides in your midsection.

In addition to aerobic interval training, reducing your intake of calories from food and especially alcohol is also essential to reducing abdominal fat. The beer belly is not a myth: it turns out that extra calories from alcohol do tend to show up in the abdominal area.

Be Well,

-Carolyn

What’s the Best Way to “Detox” Your Body?

August 27, 2011

Clients frequently ask my opinion of the many detoxification products on the market. My response?  “Save your money”. Your body already has an amazing capacity for internal cleansing through elimination, expiration, and perspiration. Furthermore, the best way to support your body in its detoxification efforts is to cut out all processed foods, drink lots of water, sweat and breathe through aerobic exercise, and get plenty of restful sleep.

If you’re going to detoxify your body, you first need to clean out your cupboards. Detox your pantry and refrigerator by throwing out all processed foods and replacing them with vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains and healthful fats – in other words, whole foods. In addition to eating a whole foods diet, drinking lots of water and eating foods with a high water and fiber content ( i.e. vegetables and fruit) will help “flush”out your system through urination and elimination. Avoid alcohol to ease the burden on your liver. Exercising – especially cardio – will also facilitate detoxification by increasing respiration and perspiration.

Getting sufficient sleep is also critical for your body does much of its repair and maintenance at night when you are asleep. Production of growth hormone, which speeds absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells and aids the repair of tissue, peaks during sleep. In addition, your immune system recharges itself during sleep, producing antibodies to ward off viruses and infection.

If you have scar tissue from old injuries or surgeries or you suffer from arthritis, you can help your body break down old proteins and reduce inflammation by using proteolytic enzymes – a natural, internal cleansing aidAcupuncture is another method of supporting your body’s natural healing and detoxification systems.

So what’s the best way to ensure your body will stay this way? Don’t ” tox” in the first place!  Keep up these healthy habits – not just for a short period but as a way of life!

Be Well,

Carolyn

Drop Just 3 Things and Watch Your Weight Fall

August 19, 2011

Deciding to lose weight can be a daunting task, prompting the questions “what should I eat?” and “what shouldn’t I eat”? I’d like to simplify the matter by proposing that if you drop just three non-necessities from your meals, you will lose weight without sacrificing flavor or nutrients. This approach is particularly applicable to those of you who dine out regularly and feel this habit keeps you from your ideal weight. It doesn’t necessarily need to.

So what three things should you drop from your restaurant (and home) menus?  First of all alcohol. It’s not so much the calories that alcohol contains that can lead to weight gain (though they are relatively high at 7 cal per gm – similar to fat which is 9 cal per gm), but it’s the way in which it is metabolizedAlcohol’s conversion to stored fat is fast and efficientPlus, because alcohol calories receive the “VIP” treatment by the body and are metabolized first before carbs, fats, or proteins, so drinking alcohol suppresses your body’s ability to burn fat as fuel. Furthermore, alcohol increases appetite and decreases inhibition for overeating and we typically combine drinking with eating high-fat, high-calorie foods such as cheese. Extra alcohol calories tend to show up as abdominal fat, which is the most dangerous place for individuals  to carry extra weight.

Second – skip the starches. If you’re dining out, ask your server to remove the bread basket, white rice, or chips and salsa. In Japan, rice is served at the end of a restaurant meal – so diners don’t waste their appetite or their calories on the simple starch.  Instead of a starch, ask for double the vegetables, add a side salad to your entrée  – or better yet, choose an entrée salad with plenty of veggies and protein.

Third – and perhaps most difficult for diners – skip the dessert. Order some fresh fruit instead. Pop a breath mint or hard candy to take the edge off your need for a sweet end to your meal. Order a cup of licorice herbal tea for a naturally sweet conclusion.

Now I realize that I may have suggested that you eliminate three of your favorite things, so here’s a compromise. Pick one of the three. For example, if you really want that glass of wine, skip the dessert and starches. If you just have to have that key lime pie, skip the liquor, potatoes and bread. You may not lose weight as rapidly as you would by eliminating all three, but you may be more likely to stick with your plan, while keeping cravings at bay.

Be Well,

Carolyn

Food and Mood: Eating to Prevent Depression

February 24, 2010

Eating healthfully is not only good for your body, it’s also important for your emotional well-being and what you eat can have a big impact on your moods. When you eat a lot of sugar, for example, your body releases insulin in large amounts to lower your blood sugar, which then causes your brain to release a neurotransmitter called glutamate that can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, lethargy and general crankiness. Eating protein, by comparison, stabilizes blood sugar and makes you more alert. Furthermore, eating foods that are high in Omega 3 fats, such as salmon have been found to reduce symptoms of depression. There’s also evidence that a deficiency of the B vitamin folate (found in leafy green vegetables and legumes) can lead to depression, especially in the elderly.

A survey of 3,486 British civil servants looking at eating habits and symptoms of depression found that eating a “whole foods” with lots of fruits and vegetables boosts mood, while a diet full of processed foods (such as fried foods, refined breads and cereals, sweetened desserts) may contribute to depression. Really no surprise here – what’s good for the body is good for the brain.

So what nutrients does a whole foods diet contain that might provide protection from the blues? It could be all of those antioxidants and other phytonutrients abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. And, as I mentioned above, it could be the Omega 3 Fats found in cold water fish. All the more reason to eat a wide variety of whole foods every day to naturally boost your mood!

So eat well and….

Be Well,

Carolyn