Friday, August 19, 2005

Motivation ... and Your Health!

Many studies have been done to research the effects of motivation
and mental health. As the implications of helping those with
negative self-esteem, depression and anxiety are immense this is
certainly an area of research that deserves a great deal of
attention.

Psychology Online reports on a study investigating the
differences between INTERNAL and EXTERNAL MOTIVATION. The report
states that "Although our society is largely
extrinsically-motivated by external rewards such as money, fame
and power, research has indicated those who are
intrinsically-motivated by inner desires for creativity,
fulfillment and inner satisfaction are psychologically healthier
and happier."

How can this help you?

The study of health psychology seeks to understand how our
ability to cope with stress can help us to prevent illness and
promote health. Some of these coping mechanisms are naturally
inborn but may be taught to those who lack them. Motivation is
one of the tools that researchers are trying to use as a
combatant of negative stress reactions.

Motivation is something that we use every day. It's what enables
us to survive - to get food because we're hungry, to go to work
to pay the bills or to educate ourselves in order to pursue a
higher goal in life.

How we respond to life's demands can affect our overall health.
How are you classified?

The same report on Psychology Online identified those who respond
to life with negativity or anxiety as most likely to deal with
the physical affects of anger, guilt, nervousness, frustration
and fear. These emotions can cause hypertension and high blood
pressure which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Other
complications include ulcers, arthritis, asthma and kidney
disease.

Some therapists suggest that by using positive self-talk and
trying to restructure the WAY we look at events can offset the
physical and mental effects of dealing with negative or stressful
events in life.

Interestingly, people who tend to focus on themselves as the
controller of their fate - in fact 'self-motivated' - are more
likely to feel a sense of control when stressors affect them.
Instead of blaming something or someone else they have the
motivation to deal with a problem and look for a reasonable
solution. This positive behavior helps them to achieve goals and
find personal contentment.

Therapists try to teach patients how to emulate this positive
reaction to stress and use their motivation as a source of
empowerment. Learning to manage stress and using motivation to
set goals, work through a problem or fix it can in turn promote
better mental and physical health.

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Abominable Abdominal Excercise Myths!

If you have ever read a fitness magazine...

If you have ever watched TV ads about latest machines that will
"magically" reveal your abs...

If you have ever gone to a gym and seen tens of people lying
on the floor doing crunches....

Then beware - because chances are you are a victim of the
two biggest abdominal training hoaxes!

Hoax # 1

Just doing some midsection exercises can reduce your "love
handles".

Fact:

You cannot reduce fat from a certain targeted area of your body
just by using exercise alone. The abdominal area is no exception.

So, if you want to get a flat stomach and reveal your abs,
losing the fat covering them is the way to go.

The only way to do this is to lose fat proportionately from
your entire body by burning more calories than you consume.

How? By doing these two things:

1) Have a healthy and balanced permanent diet: dark green
vegetables, fresh fruits, whole wheat and whole grain products,
non-fat dairy products, fish, poultry breast, lean red meat, egg
white.

You should cut out all sugar, soda, non-whole grain products
and saturated fats: These aliments should only be a reward for
achieving a goal, not a habit!

2) Start exercising

Aerobic and weight training will raise your metabolic rate. In
result, your body will burn more calories.

* aerobic exercising

3 times per week, conduct an exercise that keeps your heart rate
elevated for at least 30-45 minutes (ex: walking, running,
cycling, swimming, aerobics, etc)

* weight training

Alternate days of aerobics with weight training. You will build
muscles that will burn more calories, even when at rest!

Hoax # 2

You have to do tons of crunches.

Fact:

Overuse of crunches will only shorten your abs, pull your head
forward, and give you bad posture. Do you really want to look
like Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame?

Any standing exercise that will contract your abs will do, but
you should specifically target your lower back to strengthen
the muscles that support your spine.

The easiest exercise is sucking the gut in, also known as the
"stomach vacuum"...

1. Exhale. Suck in your gut.

2. Maintain the contraction for 10 to 20 seconds.

3. Repeat 10 to 15 times, as often as you like throughout the day
(...while in the shower, sitting at your desk, while driving, etc.).

Time now for YOU to take action!

PS: Do not forget to consult your doctor before starting any diet
and exercise plan.

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dine Out, But Eat Healthy - 25 Tips!...

Diners have become more health-conscious the last few years, and
now want healthy choices whether eating at home or at their
favorite restaurants. Luckily, the restaurant industry has been
quick to accommodate the demand, so you'll find you have many
options to "eat healthy" these days.

Whether you're eating at home or dining out, the same rules for
watching your weight apply. You need to eat more vegetables,
fruit and whole grains. Choose smaller portions of lean meats,
fish and poultry. Eat a variety of foods, and fresh, raw foods
are better. Cut back on salt, sugar, saturated fats and alcohol.
Drink plenty of water, and include exercise every day as part of
your daily lifestyle choice.

So whether you're having lunch with the gang, or enjoying a
romantic dinner for two, you can enjoy delicious-tasting foods
that are low-in calories and good for you, with just a little
forethought and planning.

Here are some easy tips to remember when ordering out that will
help you to lose weight even when eating at your favorite
restaurants:

1. If you know the menu from the restaurant you're going to, plan
what you're going to have ahead of time. This will help save you
from making a last minute decision that could result in
high-calorie choices.

2. Drink at least one full-glass of water or iced tea before
eating your meal. This helps your digestive process, and,
because you'll feel full sooner, you will eat less.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for the "senior citizen" special or
kid's-sized portions. Most restaurants will accommodate you --
and often you'll pay less as well!

4. Order first. That way you're much less likely to be influenced
by the choices of your companions.

5. If you're not sure how something is prepared, don't be afraid
to ask. And if the dish is cooked in oil or butter, you can
always ask if they have a "fat free" option.

6. If everything on the menu is high in fat or calories, ask if
the chef could prepare a plate of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Many restaurants offer a vegetarian selection, so if you don't
see it on the menu, ask.

7. When ordering meat or fish, ask that it be grilled or broiled,
and prepared without oil or butter. (When you eat it, use lemon
or herbs and spices to give it flavor rather than heavy sauces).


8. Order an appetizer and a salad as your meal. Or a soup and
salad. For dessert, choose fresh fruit.

9. When choosing soup, remember that cream-based soups have many
more calories than broth-based ones.

10. If you're having a full meal, split the appetizer and desert
with your companion.

11. If you decide to order pasta, tomato sauce has fewer calories
than cream-based sauces, just like soup.

12. Choose breadsticks over bread, or if you eat bread, don't add
butter. Stay away from muffins and croissants, and choose whole
grain over white.

13. Choose steamed vegetables instead of baked potatoes or other
starches. Again, use lemon and herbs and spices rather than
butter to flavor them with.

14. Whenever possible, eat like the Europeans do, and have your
biggest meal at lunchtime. Not only will you save money, but
you'll cut down on calories at the same time!

15. Take the time to enjoy your meal. Savor the flavors and
textures of your food, and enjoy the company you're with. When
you eat slowly, you give your body's internal clock the time it
needs to know when you've had enough. When you're full, stop
eating. Ask your server to remove your plate so you're not
tempted to keep eating while you wait for your companion to
finish.

16. Ask for salsa on your baked potatoes, rather than sour cream
and butter. Not only is salsa much lower in calories, but it
adds a "spicy" flavor to potatoes.

17. Order salad dressings and sauces "on the side." This gives
you more control of how much to use. Another tip for salad
dressing -- rather than pouring the salad dressing on your salad,
dip your fork into the dressing first, and then into the salad.
You'll get the same amount of flavor, without all the added
calories!

18. Choose brown rice over white rice (or french fries), whole
grain breads and rolls over white. Not only are they lower in
calories, but they are better for you.

19. Stay away from "all you can eat" buffets and salad bars. It's
too easy to lose track of the amount of food you're eating, even
when it's salads. If that's your only choice, then stay away
from the pasta, marinated salads, cheeses and fruit salads with
whipped cream. Stick to soups, raw vegetables and fresh fruits.


20. Have your soup first. It will help to fill you up, and most
soups have fewer calories.

21. If you're craving something sweet, and don't want fresh
fruit, choose sorbet. If you absolutely HAVE to have the
chocolate sauce, use the same trick as you did with the salad
dressing -- dip your fork into it first, then your dessert.

22. Split your dessert with your companion. You'll still feel
like you got to be indulgent, and you'll only have to exercise
half as long to burn off the extra calories!

23. When ordering sandwiches, order them with mustard only,
rather than mayonnaise. Not only does mustard have almost no
calories, but you won't miss the mayo!

24. If the portion you were served is large, only eat half of it.
Take the other half home. Not only will you get two meals for
the price of one, but you'll cut the calories in half as well!

25. Go for a walk after eating. Stroll along the beach, walk
through a park, visit a zoo. You'll burn calories and get your
exercise at the same time!

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Investing In Your Body

What if a trusted friend were to tell you about an investment
where you could not possibly go wrong...what would be your
reaction? And what if there was a virtual mountain of credible
information that supported the investment claims...wouldn't you
be inclined to take advantage of the opportunity and not miss out
on the rewards? Although the answer to these questions seems
apparent, when it comes to investing in our health and quality of
life we often choose to ignore what obviously works. Take for
example, exercise...

Physical fitness may be the ultimate investment opportunity.
Think of it this way. If you are willing to make the commitment
(investment), you will feel and look healthier, have an abundance
of energy, be more self-confident, more productive and discover a
more joyous and fulfilling life. These are rewards that money
cannot buy and the substance of high quality living. And, the
investment of exercise becomes even more attractive when you
consider that there is absolutely no down-side risk. You have
everything to gain and nothing to lose. How much better can it
get? How many times can you remember ever having a better offer?

The honest answer is probably never, and yet many of us fail to
act on this extraordinary opportunity. We simply choose to
procrastinate or ignore the proven benefits of exercise!

Here are a few reasons that sometimes inhibit our willingness to
"step out" and make a change or take a chance:

- Sometimes our vision gets clouded. We lose tract of what is
really important. When this happens, it's time to forget the
trees and look at the forest. Try to focus on exactly what you
are trying to accomplish. Sometimes we get so caught up in the
detail that I forget where I'm going.

- If we look at the "big" picture, it can seem overwhelming. And
the bigger the task, the more overwhelming it can seem. Break the
task apart into smaller pieces. Want to lose 50 pounds? Go for 10
pounds, five at a time! Need to start an exercise program? Begin
with short, simple exercises and slowly expand your routine. The
absolute worse approach to exercise is to overdo it when first
starting the program. We seem to have this all or none mindset
where we end up killing ourselves the first few times out. We end
up stiff, tired, disillusioned, and then quit. Moderation is the
key.

- Have you ever not wanted to start something for fear of
failure? Take the first step and acknowledge the fear, then the
next step will come easier. Fear of the unknown scares us so much
we don't want to even begin. Once fears are acknowledged, they
usually quiet down. Taking the first step allows us to go past
the fear and on to the next step.

- Sometimes we start to think that a task is unpleasant or
boring. Just like any other activity, this can also be true for
exercise. There are days when we just plain lack the enthusiasm
and motivation to continue. It's part of human nature. On days
like these focus on 'why' you are doing it. Think about all the
people you care about and who may need and rely on you. What
would happen if you became ill or disabled and was unable to work
for a period of time, or worse, if you were out of the picture
completely. How would things change? If something happened
tomorrow, how would your family or business manage without you?
What do you want your life to be like in the future? There are
many tasks or chores we do, that we may not like, but are
necessary to live a happen and productive life. Focus on the
bigger picture.

- Indecision can be defeating, but doing "anything" is better
than doing nothing. There are no wrong choices and very few
choices that can't be undone or done again. Can't decide on a
particular exercise program or routine? Pick a few exercises and
start with something simple. If you don't like it, go on to the
next exercise.

- When you lack the confidence to start something new, take a
deep breath and try to figure out why. Are you hesitating because
you really lack the skill or is it just imagined? If it's real,
try to find out where to gain the skills you need or find someone
with the right skills who can help. In the case of exercise,
finding a qualified personal fitness trainer can sometimes do the
trick, but be wary...some PFT's are overzealous and tend to start
newcomers on programs that are too strenuous.

- Life just seems too busy to find time for some activities.
Large, uninterrupted chunks of time are very hard to come by.
And if we're honest, when they do come, we'd rather do something
totally pleasurable! Exercise has to become part of your routine.
It can't be an option. Make it a high priority just the same as
your career, and other areas of interest. You will be surprised
at how easy exercise becomes when approached this way!

- Have you ever subconsciously (or otherwise) invited
distractions so that you have a "good" reason not to get
something done? Sometimes it's the simple things like answering
the phone or sitting down to watch that "one" TV program, that
distract us. When you find yourself doing this, take control of
the situation and make a conscious decision to do what you are
avoiding.

To reap the benefits of exercise, or any other health related
endeavor, you must agree to become a willing participant. This
will require due diligence on your part. And remember, as you
embark on your mission you are investing in something near and
dear to your own heart...your life and a future of healthy
living.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Why Are We Fat?!

To say that Americans are obsessed with dieting is an
understatement! Pick up any magazine, tune-in or turn-on any
source of advertising and you're bombarded with the latest diet
schemes and food fads. More often than not, they are endorsed by
some familiar Hollywood celebrity, or promoted using some other
cleaver technique.

It's no mystery that the weight-loss industry has built a
thriving empire. In America, for example, we spend about 35
billion dollars every year on an assortment of weight loss
products and plans. In addition, we spend another 79 billion
dollars for medication, hospitalization, and doctors to treat
obesity-related problems. Even with this, the obesity epidemic
continues to spread. Sadly, we have become the heaviest
generation in our Nation's history.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that we have
some very good reasons to be concerned about our weight-gain.
Americans, for example are packing-on the pounds faster than ever
before and weight-related medical problems are taking center
stage. Diseases like heart disease, diabetes and yes...even
certain forms of cancer have all been linked to obesity.

Here are a few of the surprising statistics about our weight:

- A whopping 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or
obese. That's up approximately 8 percent from overweight
estimates obtained in a 1988 report.

- The percent of children who are overweight is also continuing
to increase. Among children and teens ages 6-19, 15 percent or
almost 9 million are overweight. That's triple what the rate was
in 1980!

- Nearly one-third of all adults are now classified as obese. At
present, 31 percent of adults 20 years of age and over or nearly
59 million people have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater,
compared with 23 percent in 1994.

(The BMI is a number that shows body weight adjusted for height.
For adults, a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9 is considered normal. A BMI of
25.0 - 29.9 is overweight and 30.0 or above, is considered
obese.)

Modern life both at home and at work has come to revolve around
moving from one "seated" position to another: whether it's
television, computers, remote controls, or automobiles, we seem
to be broadening the scope of our inactive endeavors.

At times, life seems to have gotten almost too easy! For
entertainment, we can now just sit-down, dial-up our favorite TV
program or DVD movie and enjoy hours of uninterrupted
entertainment...

And all those simple calorie burning activities that were once a
normal part of our daily routine not so long ago? Long gone! You
know the ones I'm talking about...activities like climbing stairs
instead of using escalators and elevators. Or, pushing a lawn
mower instead of riding around on a garden tractor. And what
about that daily walk to school? Now, our kids complain when the
school bus happens to be a few minutes late getting to the bus
stop!

Along with the convenience of our affluent lifestyle and
reduction in energy expenditure, have come changes in our diet.
We are now consuming more calorie rich and nutrient deficient
foods than ever before.

Here are a few examples of what we were eating in the 1970's
compared to our diet today (information is taken from a recent
U.S. Department of Agriculture survey):

- We are currently eating more grain products, but almost all of
them are refined grains (white bread, etc.). Grain consumption
has jumped 45 percent since the 1970s, from 138 pounds of grains
per person per year to 200 pounds! Only 2 percent of the wheat
flour is consumed as whole wheat.

- Our consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased, but
only because the U.S.D.A. includes French fries and potato chips
as a vegetable. Potato products account for almost a third of our
"produce" choices.

- We're drinking less milk, but we've more than doubled our
cheese intake. Cheese now outranks meat as the number one source
of saturated fat in our diets.

- We've cut back on red meat, but have more than made up for the
loss by increasing our intake of chicken (battered and fried), so
that overall, we're eating 13 pounds more meat today than we did
back in the 1970s.

- We're drinking three times more carbonated soft drinks than
milk, compared to the 1970's, when milk consumption was twice
that of pop.

- We use 25 percent less butter, but pour twice as much vegetable
oil on our food and salads, so our total added fat intake has
increased 32 percent.

- Sugar consumption has been another cause of our expanding
waistlines. Sugar intake is simply off the charts. According to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people are consuming roughly
twice the amount of sugar they need each day, about 20 teaspoons
on a 2000 calorie/day diet. The added sugar is found mostly in
junk foods, such as pop, cake, and cookies.

- In 1978, the government found that sugars constituted only 11
percent of the average person's calories. Now, this number has
ballooned to 16 percent for the average American adult and as
much as 20 percent for American teenagers.

The days of the wholesome family dinners so near and dear to our
hearts, where we all sat around the kitchen table to discuss
events of the day, are now a part of our sentimental past. They
have been replaced by our cravings for take-out and fast-food. We
have gradually come to accept that it's "OK" to sacrifice healthy
foods for the sake of convenience and that larger serving
portions mean better value.

And, since I have been throwing-out statistics, here's one more:
Americans are consuming about 300 more calories each day than we
did twenty years ago. We should actually be eating less because
of our decreased activity level, but instead are doing the
opposite!

Decide TODAY that healthy eating and exercise habits will become
a permanent part of your life!

Begin to explore your values and thoughts and other areas of your
life where change may be required, and then take action. Begin
slowly, but deliberately to make improvements in the areas you
identify. And remember, it has taken a very long time to develop
your habits, and it will take some time to undo them…so be
patient!

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Dine Out the Healthy Way!

Here's food for thought! Did you know the average restaurant meal
has over 1,000 calories? That's enough to blow any healthy eating
plan. Fortunately, by following a few simple guidelines, you can
dine out without having to sacrifice good taste and nutrition.

1. Avoid ordering an appetizer. It's a little known fact that
some appetizers have more calories and fat than the main course.
Plus, many appetizers are fried and served with heavy sauces
which will add to your intake of saturated fat as well as trans
fats and calories. It's not a healthy way to start your meal.

2. Say "yes" to salad. Salad is a healthy eater's best friend.
Not only will it fill you up so you'll consume fewer calories
overall, but it will also give you a hefty dose of antioxidants
which are heart healthy. Be sure to ask your waitress to hold the
croutons and cheese which will further reduce your caloric load.
Also, choose your dressing wisely. Avoid cream based dressings
and go for the vinegar based ones. You also have the option of
using vinegar and olive oil which is heart healthy.

3. Make the right entree selection. Go for broiled and grilled
rather than fried. Not only will you save calories and fat grams,
you'll also avoid trans fats which are so prevalent in fried
foods. Instead, consider asking for a doubles order of vegetables
with your entree. Very few Americans are getting the 7-9 servings
of fruits and vegetables recommended for optimal health. Plus, by
avoiding the starch, you'll be reducing your caloric and
carbohydrate load. Also, stick to tomato based sauces rather than
cream based and you'll enjoy a considerable calorie savings.
Lastly, ask for the sauce to be served in a separate dish on the
side so you can control the amount you eat.

4. Think about what you're drinking with your meal. By not
ordering an alcoholic beverage, you've saved yourself a
considerable number of calories. Try sipping iced tea sweetened
with a noncaloric sweetener, a diet soft drink, or water with
lemon. You'll be glad you did when you consider the calorie
savings.

5. Indulge your sweet tooth wisely. Many of the chain restaurants
now offer a low fat or low carbohydrate dessert selection such as
a low carb cheesecake. These are wise choices for the health
conscious eater and still allow you to end the meal on a sweet
note. If a healthy dessert option isn't available, try a cup of
coffee with skim milk to help satiate your desire for something
sweet.

6. Learn to control your portions. Many restaurants are serving
larger quantities of food than in the past. If this is the case,
put aside a portion of your entree at the beginning of the meal
to take home with you. If you remove it from your plate before
you start eating, you'll be less tempted to overindulge.

By following these steps, you can make your dining experiences
not only healthy, but enjoyable. Your heart will thank you!

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hiking Your Way to Health!

Some people have fought many years of their lives to preserve the
rich heritage of the outdoors and nature we now enjoy. That
dedication and effort has been rewarded by fantastic hiking
opportunities in our local, state, and national park systems.
In honor of their efforts, let's break out of our winter
hibernation and venture into the crisp, clean outdoor air and hit
some of those dirt trails.

Here are 4 steps to an enjoyable hike, no matter where your feet
decide to take you.

1. Know the area you will be going into. Although many states,
like California, Colorado, or Wyoming have exceptional hiking hot
spots, even your local park will have some kind of useful
information. Whether it's a website with information and trail
details, or a map at the park office, trailhead, or visitor
center, always check before you head out on your hike so you know
what to expect.

2. Know the conditions you will be facing, wherever you go.
Nothing is worse than traveling to a hiking destination only to
miss the hike, because it was raining or freezing and you weren't
prepared. If the trail is flooded out, or snowy conditions have
shut it down for an extended period, you should be able to find
this out as well. It is also good to know if there are any
plants or animals to watch out for at your hiking location.
Wiping with poison ivy won't feel good in the morning.

3. Wear clothing that works and fits the terrain and hike
conditions. There are many options in your clothing arsenal, to
keep yourself comfortable, here are a couple of pointers:
- Try and stay away from cotton. Instead, look for synthetic and
natural fibers that pull moisture away from your body, or at
least stay warm when wet. - Also, go for layers to keep yourself
warm, versus carrying around a huge parka, in case you are hit by
a freak snowstorm. - The two most important pieces of clothing
for any hiker, are good socks and good shoes. Don't
underestimate the pain a hike can cause with uncomfortable shoes
and socks. Finally, a hat in cold weather is a great addition,
since your body loses over half its heat through your head.

4. In addition to knowing the weather conditions, you will need
to be prepared with a first aid kit that matches the hiking you
will be doing. In most cases a simple kit will do. You can pick
up a simple first aid kit at a local department or sporting goods
store. Or you can build you own, which should include these
basics: - Different sizes and shapes of bandages and gauzes. -
Various types of tape for wounds or fixing tools. - Suntan
lotion. - A light emergency blanket (preferably with some kind of
water resistance). - Aspirin, allergy, laxative, and
anti-diuretic medications. - Small multi-use tool with a knife,
scissors, and a needle and thread. - A cell phone can come in
very handy in emergencies. It is recommended that you pack all
of this in a waterproof bag or container.

These tips should ensure a comfortable, short hiking adventure.

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Struggling to Lose Weight? Syndrome X....

“I’ve put on 40 pounds in one year!” “It doesn’t matter how much
I workout, I can’t lose weight.” “My doctor must think I’m
eating pizzas in the closet.”

With nearly 4 million Americans weighing in at over 300 pounds,
is it any wonder the above cries are heard each and every day by
countless frustrated people who can’t lose weight? One such
cause for the ever increasing need to buy larger pants is a
disease known as Syndrome X.

Syndrome X is also referred to as Metabolic Syndrome, Metabolic
Syndrome X and Insulin Resistance. It is a very common disease;
however it is widely overlooked by many medical professionals.
One statistic reveals 1 in 3 people suffer from it.

This syndrome is a precursor to developing Diabetes Type 2.
Sufferers have a high level of insulin. Their bodies are unable
to process all the insulin that is being made from their diet.
As a result, they become insulin resistant.

Think of it like this: You knock on someone’s door because you
want to come in. If they don’t answer, what normally happens?
You knock again, right? Sometimes you may even knock a third
time, trying to gain entry. Insulin works in the same manner.
The pancreas produces insulin (knock). Some foods cause the body
to produce even higher levels of insulin (knock again). Once you
become insulin resistant, develop Syndrome X, the body is unable
to properly process the glucose, therefore the pancreas tries to
make up for it by producing even more insulin. It thinks “no one
is home” and just keeps making more.

The main purpose of glucose is to be used as fuel for the cells
in the body to produce energy. Unprocessed glucose translates
into fat. If the body keeps making it and it’s not being
processed, where does it go? Hips, thighs, stomach, and
buttocks, that’s where!

In addition to hypertension and heart disease, elevated insulin
may be associated with weight gain and difficulty with weight
loss, other blood sugar problems such as hypoglycemia, and some
menstrual related imbalances.

Genetics is partially responsible for causing this disease. More
likely though is lifestyle. In many cases years of high starch,
processed foods, simple sugars, lack of exercise, smoking, and
increased stress may be the culprit for Metabolic Syndrome X.

Now what? For starters, start exercising today. Increase water
intake and totally omit starches, sugars, processed foods from
your diet. Limit or omit caffeine. Try to maintain at least one
third of your daily food intake to vegetables. Ask your doctor
to test your sugar levels. Change what you’re eating and get
walking and you’ll be amazed at the pounds start to fall off.
The fatigue and fuzziness will start to disappear and in turn
you’ll feel much better.

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Motivation and YOUR Health!

Many studies have been done to research the effects of motivation
and mental health. As the implications of helping those with
negative self-esteem, depression and anxiety are immense this is
certainly an area of research that deserves a great deal of
attention.

Psychology Online reports on a study investigating the
differences between INTERNAL and EXTERNAL MOTIVATION.
The report states that "Although our society is largely
extrinsically-motivated by external rewards such as money,
fame and power, research has indicated those who are
intrinsically-motivated by inner desires for creativity,
fulfillment and inner satisfaction are psychologically healthier
and happier."

How can this help you?

The study of health psychology seeks to understand how our
ability to cope with stress can help us to prevent illness and
promote health. Some of these coping mechanisms are naturally
inborn but may be taught to those who lack them. Motivation is
one of the tools that researchers are trying to use as a
combatant of negative stress reactions.

Motivation is something that we use every day. It's what enables
us to survive - to get food because we're hungry, to go to work
to pay the bills or to educate ourselves in order to pursue a
higher goal in life.

How we respond to life's demands can affect our overall health.
How are you classified?

The same report on Psychology Online identified those who respond
to life with negativity or anxiety as most likely to deal with
the physical affects of anger, guilt, nervousness, frustration
and fear. These emotions can cause hypertension and high blood
pressure which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Other
complications include ulcers, arthritis, asthma and kidney
disease.

Some therapists suggest that by using positive self-talk and
trying to restructure the WAY we look at events can offset the
physical and mental effects of dealing with negative or stressful
events in life.

Interestingly, people who tend to focus on themselves as the
controller of their fate - in fact 'self-motivated' - are more
likely to feel a sense of control when stressors affect them.
Instead of blaming something or someone else they have the
motivation to deal with a problem and look for a reasonable
solution. This positive behavior helps them to achieve goals and
find personal contentment.

Therapists try to teach patients how to emulate this positive
reaction to stress and use their motivation as a source of
empowerment. Learning to manage stress and using motivation to
set goals, work through a problem or fix it can in turn promote
better mental and physical health.

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Ultimate Showdown - White Bread Vs. Wheat Bread

For any kid who grew up eating doughy, thick Wonder Bread for
lunch, the encouragement by dietitians and nutritionists to
switch to whole wheat bread can be a tough transition.

Bread, like any other part of our diet, is an acquired taste.
Starting out early helps since children are much more adaptable
to accepting foods than adults. This does not mean that children
LIKE as many foods as adults - children are renowned picky
eaters. But if you only expose them to healthy, whole grain foods
they won't have the opportunity to develop a taste for white
bread or other non-nutritious foods.

Adults, however, must learn to change their diet preferences
because of knowledge. Understanding why whole wheat is superior
to white bread can help you feel good about the compromise and
encourage you to make it the standard for your children. Who
knows - you may even like it!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

The two biggest differences between white bread and whole wheat
are the processing and the nutritional value.

Flour is made from wheat berries. The wheat berry is made up of
the bran, the germ and the endosperm. All parts are filled with
nutrients and are used in whole wheat flour.

White bread on the other hand, uses only the endosperm - the
starchy inner layer. There is a total of 30 nutrients missing in
white bread. The nutritional difference is immense and has
measurable impact on our health.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SWITCHING?

The fiber content of whole wheat bread has several health
benefits.

Fiber helps the digestive system. It also creates a 'full'
sensation and thus can help with weight control. Research has
been conducted by Harvard and other organizations that shows men
and women who eat high-fiber foods have less heart attacks and
strokes than those who don't.

There is also an increased risk of diabetes in children who eat
refined white flour - a risk that has been proven by the increase
in cases of childhood diabetes.

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR?

Watch out for words like 'wheat flour' or 'enriched wheat flour'
as they can be mostly made from white flour with just a small
amount of whole wheat added in.

Look for 'whole wheat' or other whole grains, like oat. And don't
be mislead by the name of the product. Names like wheat, whole
bran, stoned wheat, 12 grain and others are still mostly white
flour. The only way to know for sure is to read the label.

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What you MUST Know About Food Labels!

Whether you're concerned about cancer, cardiovascular disease,
diabetes, or simply losing weight, you want to eat a healthy diet
and focus on foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and
phytonutrients, and balanced in fats, carbs, proteins.

There is only one way to incorporate healthy foods into our diet
and that is to make the decision to do it! Practical information
about the nutrition and safety of the foods we consume is
absolutely vital in making this decision.

One way to learn more about what we eat, is to snoop around the
supermarket. Check-out package labels to see what manufactures
are adding (or removing) from the foods we eat. Read the
information on the package and start making comparisons to
determine which foods are the best for YOU. Know about
nutritional labeling and the sometimes sneaky ways that
manufacturers have of hiding what is in the food. Know and
understand ingredient declarations, how they are used, and what
a few of the "technical" terms mean. Are the unfamiliar
ingredients good or bad for your health?

Since 1994 food manufacturers have been required by the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) to include food labels (or Nutrition
Facts labels) on product packaging so that consumers have
accurate nutritional information about the food they purchase.
But food labels are more than just a federal requirement – once
you understand the information they provide, you can use food
labels as a guide to planning healthier meals and snacks.

Food labels are required on almost all foods, except those that
don't provide many nutrients such as coffee, alcohol and spices.
Although some restaurants provide information about the food they
serve, they aren't required to have labels. The FDA recommends
that sellers provide nutritional information on produce, meat,
poultry and seafood, but it's strictly voluntary.

What Is a Serving?

At the top of a food label under Nutrition Facts, you'll see the
serving size and the number of servings in the package. The rest
of the nutrition information in the label is based on one
serving.

Calories, Calories From Fat and Percent Daily Values

This part of a food label provides the calories per serving and
the calories that come from fat. If you need to know the total
number of calories you eat every day or the number of calories
that come from fat, this section provides that information.
Remember that this part of the label doesn't tell you whether you
are eating saturated or unsaturated fat.

On the right side of a food label, you'll see a column that lists
percentages. These percentages refer to the percent daily values
(%DV). Percent daily values tell you how much of something,
whether it's fat, sugar or vitamin A, one serving will give you
compared to how much you need for the entire day. It will help
you gauge the percentage of a nutrient requirement met by one
serving of the product. One way to use this section of the label
is when you comparison shop. For example, if you're concerned
with sodium, you can look at two foods and choose the food with
the lower % DV. Are you trying to eat a low-fat diet? Look for
foods that have a lower percent daily value of fat.

The %DV is based on how much or how little of the key nutrients
you should eat whether you eat 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day. So
if you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, you should eat less than 65
grams of fat in all the foods you eat for the day. If you're
eating 12 grams of fat in your one serving of macaroni and cheese
(remember that's one cup), you can calculate how much fat you
have left for the day. You can use the bottom part of the food
label in white to compare what you are eating to the % DV you're
allowed for that nutrient, whether it's fat, sodium or fiber. If
you need more or less than 2,000 or 2,500 calories, you'll need
to adjust this accordingly.

Nutrients

Fat, Sugar, Sodium and Carbohydrate

The sections on a food label shows the name of a nutrient and the
amount of that nutrient provided by one serving of food. You may
need to know this information, especially if you have high blood
pressure, diabetes or are eating a diet that restricts certain
nutrients such as sodium or carbohydrates.

Food labels also include information about how much sugar and
protein is in the food. If you are following a low-sugar diet or
you're monitoring your protein intake, it's easy to spot how much
of those nutrients are contained in one serving.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Information

The light purple part of the label lists nutrients, vitamins and
minerals in the food and their percent daily values. Try to
average 100% DV every day for vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and
fiber. Do the opposite with fat, saturated fat, sodium and
cholesterol. Try to eat less than 100% DV of these.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Reading a Food Label

Until you become accustomed to reading food labels, it's easy to
become confused. Avoid these common mistakes when reading
labels:

-A label may say that the food is reduced fat or reduced sodium.
That means that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced by
25% from the original product. It doesn't mean, however, that the
food is low in fat or sodium. For example, if a can of soup
originally had 1,000 milligrams of sodium, the reduced sodium
product would still be a high-sodium food.

-Don't confuse the % DV for fat with the percentage of calories
from fat. If the % DV is 15% that doesn't mean that 15% of the
calories comes from fat. Rather, it means that you're using up
15% of all the fat you need for a day with one serving (based on
a meal plan of 2,000 calories per day).

-Don't make the mistake of assuming that the amount of sugar on a
label means that the sugar has been added. For example, milk
naturally has sugar, which is called lactose. But that doesn't
mean you should stop drinking milk because milk is full of other
important nutrients including calcium.

Reading Label Lingo

In addition to requiring that packaged foods contain a Nutrition
Facts label, the FDA also regulates the use of phrases and terms
used on the product packaging. Here's a list of common phrases
you may see on your food packaging and what they actually mean.

No fat or fat free - Contains less than 1/2 gram of fat per
serving Lower or reduced fat: Contains at least 25 percent less
per serving than the reference food. (An example might be reduced
fat cream cheese, which would have at least 25 percent less fat
than original cream cheese.)

Low fat - Contains less than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Lite - Contains 1/3 the calories or 1/2 the fat per serving of
the original version or a similar product.

No calories or calorie free - Contains less than 5 calories per
serving.

Low calories - Contains 1/3 the calories of the original version
or a similar product.

Sugar free - Contains less than 1/2 gram of sugar per serving.

Reduced sugar - at least 25% less sugar per serving than the
reference food.

No preservatives - Contains no preservatives (chemical or
natural).

No preservatives added - Contains no added chemicals to preserve
the product. Some of these products may contain natural
preservatives.

Low sodium - Contains less than 140 mgs of sodium per serving.

No salt or salt free - Contains less than 5 mgs of sodium per
serving.

High fiber - 5 g or more per serving (Foods making high-fiber
claims must meet the definition for low fat, or the level of
total fat must appear next to the high-fiber claim).

Good source of fiber - 2.5 g to 4.9 g. per serving.

More or added fiber - Contains at least 2.5 g more per serving
than the reference food.

With a little practice, you will be able to put your new found
knowledge about food labeling to work. Reassess your diet and
decide what needs to be changed. Start by eliminating the foods
that don't measure-up to your nutritional wants and needs, and
replacing them with more nutritional substitutes.

And while you're at it, visit the FDA website and learn about the
new labeling requirements, including those for "trans" fat. Like
saturated fats, trans fats can raise levels of low-density
lipoproteins (LDL) and increase your risk of heart disease. The
"Nutrition Facts" panel on food packaging must provide this
information beginning January 1, 2006, but most manufacturers
will start providing it sooner.

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Whey Protein = More Muscle!

Are you concerned about taking care of your body before and after
strenuous activities or workouts? Do you try to avoid supplements
that contain additives and possible side effects?

If you are interested in better health and improved physical
fitness you have surely heard that bodybuilders and other
athletes are turning to a simple, natural supplement called whey
protein.

WHY DO ATHLETES USE WHEY PROTEIN?

Protein levels are depleted through exercise. Muscles require
amino acids to prevent deterioration, give endurance and build
mass. Proteins supply these amino acids to the muscles which is
why athletes use whey protein.

WHAT IS WHEY PROTEIN?

Commercial whey protein comes from cow's milk. Whey is the
by-product of making cheese and was usually thrown away as a
waste product. Now researchers know that whey protein is high
quality, natural protein that is rich with amino acids essential
for good health and muscle building. It is naturally found in
mother's milk and also used in baby formula. It is being
considered for use as a fortifier of grain products because of
its considerable health benefits and bland flavor.

Although protein is also found in other foods such as meat, soy
and vegetables, whey protein is proven to have the highest
absorption (digestion) levels in comparison to all others.

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER USING WHEY PROTEIN?

Whey protein has many health benefits including immune support,
bone health, sports health, weight management and overall well
being.

Because amino acids are 'building blocks' for the human body it
is sometimes used by patients to speed up the healing of wounds
or burns.

The high quality protein that comes from whey makes it a
recommended choice for those who need optimal benefits from
restricted diets including diabetics, those on weight management
diets and even ill patients not able to consume enough protein in
their diet to assist with healing.

CAN WHEY PROTEIN BE DANGEROUS?

Whey protein is a food and so it does not have have the risks
associated with other supplements. That said, too much of
anything carries risks. Extremely high use of whey protein can
overload the liver which can cause serious problems. Moderation
is always recommended.

If you are lactose intolerant you might try whey protein isolate
which has less than 1% lactose and should be tolerable for most
users.

Whey protein is a natural and healthy way to bring protein into
your diet and increase well being.

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Low Carb Diets - All Hype?

With all of the conflicting studies and fuzzy interpretation of
information, it's no wonder that confusion reigns when it comes
to the value and safety of low-carb diets. It seems like heated
debates are raging everywhere!

Whether it's Atkins, the South Beach or some other low-carb plan,
as many as 30 million Americans are following a low-carb diet.

Advocates contend that the high amount of carbohydrates in our
diet has led to increasing problems with obesity, diabetes, and
other health problems. Critics, on the other hand, attribute
obesity and related health problems to over-consumption of
calories from any source, and lack of physical activity. Critics
also express concern that the lack of grains, fruits, and
vegetables in low-carbohydrate diets may lead to deficiencies of
some key nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, and
several minerals.

Any diet, weather low or high in carbohydrate, can produce
significant weight loss during the initial stages of the diet.
But remember, the key to successful dieting is in being able to
lose the weight permanently. Put another way, what does the scale
show a year after going off the diet?

Let's see if we can debunk some of the mystery about low-carb
diets. Below, is a listing of some relevant points taken from
recent studies and scientific literature. Please note there may
be insufficient information available to answer all questions.

- Differences Between Low-Carb Diets

There are many popular diets designed to lower carbohydrate
consumption. Reducing total carbohydrate in the diet means that
protein and fat will represent a proportionately greater amount
of the total caloric intake.

Atkins and Protein Power diets restrict carbohydrate to a point
where the body becomes ketogenic. Other low-carb diets like the
Zone and Life Without Bread are less restrictive. Some, like
Sugar Busters claim to eliminate only sugars and foods that
elevate blood sugar levels excessively.

- What We Know about Low-Carb Diets

Almost all of the studies to date have been small with a wide
variety of research objectives. Carbohydrate, caloric intake,
diet duration and participant characteristics varied greatly.
Most of the studies to date have two things in common: None of
the studies had participants with a mean age over 53 and none of
the controlled studies lasted longer than 90 days.

Information on older adults and long-term results are scarce.
Many diet studies fail to monitor the amount of exercise, and
therefore caloric expenditure, while participants are dieting.
This helps to explain discrepancies between studies.

The weight loss on low-carb diets is a function of caloric
restriction and diet duration, and not with reduced carbohydrate
intake. This finding suggests that if you want to lose weight,
you should eat fewer calories and do so over a long time period.

Little evidence exists on the long-range safety of low-carb
diets. Despite the medical community concerns, no short-term
adverse effects have been found on cholesterol, glucose, insulin
and blood-pressure levels among participants on the diets. But,
adverse effects may not show up because of the short period of
the studies. Researchers note that losing weight typically leads
to an improvement in these levels anyway, and this may offset an
increase caused by a high fat diet. The long range weight change
for low-carb and other types of diets is similar.

Most low-carb diets cause ketosis. Some of the potential
consequences are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and confusion.
During the initial phase of low-carb dieting some fatigue and
constipation may be encountered. Generally, these symptoms
dissipate quickly. Ketosis may also give the breath a fruity
odor, somewhat like nail-polish remover (acetone).

Low-carb diets do not enable the consumption of more calories
than other kinds of diets, as has been often reported. A calorie
is a calorie and it doesn't matter weather they come from
carbohydrates or fat. Study discrepancies are likely the result
of uncontrolled circumstances; i.e. diet participants that cheat
on calorie consumption, calories burned during exercise, or any
number of other factors. The drop-out rate for strict (i.e. less
than 40 grams of CHO/day) low-carb diets is relatively high.

What Should You Do? - There are 3 important points I would like
to re-emphasize:

- The long-range success rate for low-carb and other types of
diets is similar.

- Despite their popularity, little information exists on the
long-term efficacy and safety of low-carbohydrate diets.

- Strict low-carb diets are usually not sustainable as a normal
way of eating. Boredom usually overcomes willpower.

It is obvious after reviewing the topic, that more, well-designed
and controlled studies are needed. There just isn't a lot of good
information available, especially concerning long-range effects.
Strict low-carb diets produce ketosis which is an abnormal and
potentially stressful metabolic state. Under some circumstances
this might cause health related complications.

The diet you choose should be a blueprint for a lifetime of
better eating, not just a quick weight loss plan to reach your
weight goal. If you can't see yourself eating the prescribed
foods longer than a few days or a week, then chances are it's not
the right diet. To this end, following a moderately low fat diet
with a healthy balance of fat, protein, carbohydrate and other
nutrients is beneficial.

If you do decide to follow a low-carb plan, remember that certain
dietary fats are associated with reduction of disease. Foods high
in unsaturated fats that are free of trans-fatty acids such as
olive oil, fish, flaxseeds, and nuts are preferred to fats from
animal origins.

Even promoters of the Atkins diet now say people on their plan
should limit the amount of red meat and saturated fat they eat.
Atkins representatives are telling health professionals that only
20 percent of a dieter's calories should come from saturated fat
(i.e. meat, cheese, butter). This change comes as Atkins faces
competition from other popular low-carb diets that call for less
saturated fat, such as the South Beach diet plan. Low-carb
dieting should not be considered as a license to gorge on red
meat!

Another alternative to "strict" low-carb dieting would be to give
up some of the bad carbohydrate foods but not "throw out the baby
with the bath water". In other words, foods high in processed
sugar, snacks, and white bread would be avoided, but foods high
in complex carbohydrates such as fruit, potatoes and whole
grains, retained.

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