Category Archives: Exercise

Little Extras for Help with Weight-Loss Success

The two basic things you have to do to have a successful weight-loss journey is consume fewer calories (eat less) and exercise more.  It is a pleasure to report that it is possible to do both of these things without feeling deprived or overwhelmed. Just add these two little extras for help with weight-loss success.

Add a Little Extra Exercise to Your Daily Routine

Little Extras for Help with Weight-loss Success
Image by AndreyPopov

A simple way to increase the level of exercise during your week is by adding a little more effort into your daily activities – the things you are going to do anyway.

For example, we all have to do housework right? So, that is an easy one! Instead of taking your time and working at a leisurely pace, work faster.

As you sweep and mop the kitchen floor, put some oomph into it. Work at a steady, brisk pace. Stretch your arms and use your muscles. This will definitely increase your heart rate, and burn more calories.

When it’s time to clean the windows, reach up as high as you can – stretch to the top of the windows and be sure to get into the corners. Then, buff the glass to a high sheen, which will involve a little more elbow grease than normal.

When you scrub out the tub and the shower, do it with energy and a song – make those tiles shine.

Play fun music and dance when you sweep, mop or vacuum.

Work for longer periods of time – 20 to 30 minutes of active cleaning is much better than 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. It gives you more time to get your heart rate going and a better boost to your metabolism.

These are things you can do to keep your house sparkling and build the new you. So, start throwing in an abundant amount of gusto for extra calorie burning and body shaping.

Add Two Healthy Snacks to Your Daily Meal Plan

A great way to focus on success with your weight loss journey is to plan what you are going to eat in advance. When you shop ahead and know exactly what you will be eating, temptation to fall into old eating patterns – and indulge in foods that will throw you off track are taken out of the equation.

Be sure to include at least two healthy snack options in your daily plan. They should not only be healthy choices, but foods that are easy to grab when you are feeling a little out-of-sorts – and also handy when you are on the go.

Planning ahead ensures that you will eat healthy snacks that you enjoy as well as satisfy your hunger. Make sure they are nutritious and satisfying, and fit in with your diet all at the same time.

You can find suggestions for healthy snacks everywhere – in books, magazines and all over the Internet. Just be sure that they are in keeping with your diet of choice and give you the nutrients you need.

You can find a few good options at the more health-focused stores (Trader Joes, Sprouts, or Whole Foods), but read labels VERY CAREFULLY if you are buying pre-packaged snacks. Many of them have hidden sugars, additives and empty calories, which will NOT be good for your weight-loss journey. Try to stick with fresh fruits, veggies, raw nuts (use roasted peanuts) and seeds, etc.

One of my favorites is my version of mixed nuts (macadamia, almonds, pecans, and pistachios) with a few dark chocolate chips in the mix (use the chocolate chips sparingly).

Make small snacks packs of two tablespoons each and keep them available. Toss ONE into your lunch bag each day. It is a also good idea to have one in your car cubby for a quick pick-me-up when you need it – a much better choice than a candy bar.

Another excellent choice is a generous serving of fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries with a dollop of Crème Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt with a little organic honey) – YUM!

It is important to find your own preferences that fit your personal taste and dietary needs. Set aside time each week to prepare home-made options that can be stored and used whenever you need them.

In Summary

Try these two little extras for help with weight-loss success. Adding a little extra exercise and adding two healthy snack options each day will make a big difference on your weight-loss journey. They will help you reach your destination – a healthy, fit and happier life.

Mediterranean Diet Is Not for Everyone

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the merits of the Mediterranean Diet. However, I have to acknowledge that no diet is perfect for every single person and Mediterranean diet is no exception to that rule. The Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone.

There may be some people who find that they have negative reactions to some of the foods on the diet – others may find that it simply is not suitable for their lifestyle.

Excellent Choice for Most People

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

However, it is an excellent choice for most people because the health benefits are tremendous. Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and much more.

The diet is based on consuming wholesome fresh foods in their natural state and by cooking them in a healthy ways.

Red meats are eaten only on occasion; sugar, processed foods filled with additives, fast foods, and junk food, which are the cause of so many illnesses in today’s world are simply not eaten.

It should not be news that most health problems in the US can be attributed to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet solves both problems, if you let it. It provides the healthy nutritious foods your body needs for energy and well-being; plus, it incorporates exercise to solve the sedentary lifestyle issue.

Potential Difficulties

Let’s look at some of the potential difficulties.

1. The diet can be expensive.

When you eat primarily fish, fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. you will find that they are more expensive than grabbing a cheeseburger from a fast food joint or buying junk food from the vending machine at work.

But . . . if you consider the health problems you may endure in the future and the cost of health care that goes with those problems, you may want to think twice about the actual cost. The healthy foods on the Mediterranean diet may not seem so expensive after all.

2. Possible food allergies.

It is possible that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the foods in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil may not agree with their digestive system, etc. It happens. If you have serious reactions to any of the foundational foods of the diet, you would probably want to choose another diet – just make sure it is a healthy one.

3. The toxicity of fish.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and is one of the most toxic foods on the market today because of pollution in the world’s waterways

Educate yourself and find out which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination, and sustainably produced. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are better (and worse) choices when buying fish.  Check out their website for details on how to buy fish – The EWG’s Seafood Guide.

You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and Brussel sprouts.

4. Cost and availability of fruits and vegetables.

It may not always be easy to obtain fresh seasonal produce and some of the more common choices in the Mediterranean Region may not be available in your area – or the cost will be prohibitive – especially for organic.

Easy to Adapt?

Will it be easy to adopt the Mediterranean Diet with a full commitment?  Maybe not.  It may take some serious adjustment and determination to stay with it.

As Americans we are used to eating whatever we want, whenever we want it. If we are feeling hungry or blue – grab that tub of ice-cream. When we are bored, frustrated or angry, we reach for comfort foods like a bucket of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits form KFC.

Food has become far more than sustenance for many people. It is frequently used as a form of ‘medication’ for emotional problems. It that plays into your eating patterns, staying with any diet will be challenging.

When you start the Mediterranean Diet it can take time to adapt to the practice of thinking about what you are eating and being willing to make healthy choices. Eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes with thick gravy is not encouraged. The tub of ice cream should be replaced with a bowl of sweet, healthy fruit that is preferably high in fiber.

Such dramatic changes in your approach to food and eating habits may not sit well with some people. It may be too different and troublesome. Maybe that will be the case initially. But, you know that anything worthwhile often has challenges that must be faced. Major accomplishments rarely come easily.

Adopt the Mediterranean Diet!  Give it your best shot (including your time and energy), keep a positive attitude no matter what, and you may be surprised at how fast you realize that this is diet you want to stay with the rest of your life.

Your body and health will reflect the benefits of this diet in time . . . give it a real chance!

 

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

Since grade school we have known about the food pyramid, but the food pyramid I want to discuss today is quite different: The Mediterranean Food Pyramid.

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

The pyramid is used by countless health organizations, clinics, doctors and many others to guide people to eat in a healthy manner. It is the standard to live by and health professionals unanimously agree that by following this diet pyramid, your health will benefit tremendously.

The pyramid is a wonderful synopsis of what the Mediterranean Diet entails. It shows four different food groups and the optimal number of servings of each group that should be consumed.

The pyramid was created based on research of the diet that the people in the Mediterranean countries consume. The area was selected as the model because of the low incidence of heart disease and high life expectancy found in the region.

One of the primary reasons for the healthy results of the diet is that the people not only use fresh, unadulterated ingredients, they also cook their meals in very healthy ways.

They are among the minority of the world’s population that have not embraced the fast food culture that dominates the US and Australia. It should be noted that both countries are battling an obesity epidemic.

You Will Eat Fresh, Healthy Foods

There are no processed foods, colas, white flour products, pizzas or any unhealthy food in the food pyramid. There are only categories of fresh, healthy foods: fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, beans, fish and seafood, and healthy oils (primarily olive oil) – plus a little red wine.

Your fat consumption should be moderate along with consumption of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Eggs can be consumed daily.

Fish (seafood) is preferred over meat and should be consumed twice a week. Poultry is also preferred over red meat and should be consumed once a week. Red meat should only be consumed 3 to 4 times a month. The rest of the time, vegetables, legumes, and/or pasta should be the focal point of your meals.

Fruit and vegetables (7 servings) should be consumed daily.

Get rid of your salt shaker and start seasoning with fresh herbs and spices. Don’t forget the garlic and onions.

Cook primarily with olive oil. Butter should be used minimally, if at all.  NEVER use margarine or hydrogenated oil products.

The use of unhealthy hydrogenated oils is very rare in Mediterranean cooking – and they rarely eat red meat or sweets (other than fresh fruit)

Avoid all foods that contain processed sugar. That means chocolate, candies, and most rich desserts are to be consumed minimally.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Mediterranean diet is red wine. This is not an open invitation to include all alcoholic beverages such as beer, vodka or bourbon in your diet. The Mediterranean diet advocates ONLY wine. About 1 glass for women and no more than 2 glasses a day for men and usually, consumption is after dinner.

The food pyramid is just a guideline to help you eat in a healthy way. You do not need to be overly strict and get upset if you do not follow it exactly. As long as you eat the foods on the pyramid and stop eating the healthy damaging junk/processed foods that are typical on the American diet, you will be doing well. If you make those changes, you will be giving yourself one of the greatest gifts possible: Good Health!

Photo from: https://www.unitypoint.org/madison/filesimages/News%20Article%20Images/mediterranean-diet-pyramid.jpg

From the same site, check out the 7-day Mediterranean Menu (Autumn/Winter).  Not only does it suggest full menus for all meals, it includes recipes and calorie count for the day.  ENJOY!

Anti-Aging Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Jonathan Swift said, “Everybody wants to live forever, but nobody wants to grow old.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stay healthy and young and live as long as possible? Because that is a deep down desire of the majority, many people are always on a quest to slow down the aging process.

So, our question for today is:

What are the Anti-Aging Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?

First, we must acknowledge that no diet in the world can halt or slow the aging process. Aging is inevitable and food is not the elixir of life – although the type of food you choose can lengthen or shorten your life.

What has been proven by numerous studies is that the Mediterranean diet lessens your risks of getting certain diseases. It also offers a range of health benefits that will allow you to age in a healthy way. When you whole-heartedly adopt the Mediterranean way of eating, you will reduce your risk of health problems such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, heart diseases, etc.

That alone can be classified as anti-aging. Old age is often associated with health problems. If you can grow old and maintain your health, that would be a fine way to live. The Mediterranean diet can help you do that.

Typical Junk-Food Diets are the American Way

Unfortunately, the standard diet for most Americans is filled with junk food, sugary sodas, fast foods and processed, additive-filled food, etc. – basically empty calories.

Obesity is an epidemic. People eat whatever is the most convenient with little regard for their health. This is very upsetting and dangerous for the population as a whole.

There is a wide assumption that healthy food is not delicious. People believe that to eat healthy they must live on a steady diet of raw carrots and steamed chicken breasts. As a result, they choose not to do so. They would much rather have a fast-food burger and cheese fries – it’s easier and tastier.

What they don’t know is that the Mediterranean Diet is filled with DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY food, which is why people in the Mediterranean Region often live healthier and longer lives than Americans.

Why the Med-Diet Is Better for Your Health

The foundation of the Med-Diet is fresh vegetables. In the US, vegetables are typically an afterthought, with unhealthy choices like French-fried potatoes classified as vegetables.

When you make vegetables the center of your meals, you will get your daily dose of antioxidants to fight the free radicals in your body; plus give your body necessary nutrients and keep your skin healthy and supple.

Fruit is another important part of the Med-diet. They are filled with nutrients and rich in fiber, which slows down digestion so you do not get hungry as quickly. The fruit also prevents sugar cravings.

Refined sugar is at the root of many health problems, plus it causes your body to age more quickly. Just reducing your sugar intake will benefit you immensely, including making you less likely to get Type 2 Diabetes.

The diet is also rich in fish and nuts – both excellent sources of protein and healthy omega-6 fatty acids, which protect your from losing lean muscle and developing osteoporosis.

Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

A glass of red wine after dinner that is suggested in the diet (a common practice in the Mediterranean) has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. A limited amount of red wine can be beneficial to your health – unlike beer, vodka or bourbon.

The Mediterranean diet will definitely benefit your health tremendously, when you adopt it as a way of life. As long as you exercise regularly and eat in moderation, you are more likely to live a long and healthy life – and age with style and grace.

If you have not already made the decision to try this new way of eating that definitely includes some anti-aging benefits, I encourage you to do so ASAP!

 

Prevent Inflammation with the Mediterranean Diet

Danger of Inflammation

The Free Medical Dictionary describes inflammation as:

A localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue. The class signs of inflammation are heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function.

Inflammation Tablet in Doctor's Office
Image by tashatuvango

Unfortunately, millions of people suffer from inflammation without realizing it. Even people in their early forties blame the constant aches and pains in their bodies and joints on getting older, which is absurd.

Causes of Inflammation

The reality is that many of those aches and pains are the result of their diet.  Most of the inflammation they are experiencing comes from the foods they put into the bodies without any concern for how it may be affecting their health.

The food manufacturers have changed the average diet so dramatically over the past 50 years that it is frightening.  They have gradually managed to convince us that they know what is best for us to eat and we have succumbed to their strategy.

We accept the extreme processing of foods for convenience, colour, flavour, and taste as perfectly acceptable without a moment’s consideration of whether we should be eating the foods, or not.

We rarely take the time to think about the foods we eat – foods that are filled with processed sugars and flour, preservatives, chemicals, artificial sweeteners, etc. – all of which are incredibly bad for the human body.

We have become human guinea pigs for the food industry. They continuously introduce new foods with no idea of the side effects. Nor, do they seem to care if they are any adverse effects as long as the foods sell and make a profit.

It is time to stop this horrible trend. There is a price to be paid and it will be in the general health of the population.  In fact, many are already paying.  There are more serious health problems today than ever before and inflammation is only the beginning of the problem.

Inflammation may sound relatively harmless, but can and often does lead to numerous serious and life-threatening diseases.  Inflammation is the common link between such debilitating conditions as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Body Ecology believes that one of the main causes of inflammation is low-grade bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in the bloodstream and organs like the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.

They also list other causes of inflammation as:

  • Chronic low-grade food allergies or food sensitivities that may cause few symptoms.
  • An imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your gastrointestinal tract, also known as symbiosis. This causes your immune system to overreact to bacteria in your gut and can be without notable symptoms.
  • Stress! Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol, creating inflammation.
  • Environmental toxicity from our air, water, food pollutants and toxic metals like mercury and lead all contribute to inflammation and have been linked to diseases as varied as endometriosis and cancer.
  • Diet and lifestyle: too much fat, sugar, and protein in your diet, constant dehydration, consumption of too many sodas or caffeine, inactivity, and lack of sleep can all increase inflammation in your body

When you suffer from any type of ongoing inflammation in your body, your immune system can become overburdened. The inflammatory triggers are cycled continuously through your blood where they affect nerves, organs, connective tissues, joints, and muscles.

As a result, we are quickly becoming a world in crisis. Diabetes is running rampant across all ages. Heart disease is on the rise, and we are nearing a pandemic of obesity in children, teens, and adults.

Mediterranean Diet Can Help

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It is not a fad diet created by a doctor or nutritionist that will reach celebrity status like the Atkins or Paleo Diets. It is much lower key. In fact, it is more of a healthy eating plan than a diet. It is filled with wonderfully delicious foods that are actually good for you.

Because of all the extreme fad diets that have come and gone over the past decade, when most people think of healthy food, they picture tasteless dishes that you must force down, rather than enjoy.

That description does not fit the Mediterranean Diet in any way. The foods are not only tasty; they are also great for your health and do not create inflammation in your body.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The average daily diet today has been essentially stripped of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and includes an excess of Omega -6 Fatty Acids, which come from vegetables such as corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, as well as poultry and eggs. The fatty acid balance needs to be restored.

The more omega-3 fat you eat; the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. The Mediterranean diet includes generous amounts of fish and olive oil – both rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Mediterranean DietThe Mediterranean diet uses olive oil as its primary oil. There is no use of unhealthy hydrogenated oils which wreak havoc in our bodies. The primary meat is fish with the consumption of red meat and poultry at a minimum; which limits the intake of unhealthy saturated fat that also aggravates the body.

Eating fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds is essential in the Mediterranean diet. This is quite the opposite of the idea that a bottle of processed apple juice is an adequate serving of fruit each day. What people do not realize is that fruit juices are essentially sugar, water, artificial flavouring and preservatives that contribute to inflammation, which will drive you to the doctor rather than keep him away.

A basic premise of the diet is to eat natural foods – as close to nature as possible. Eat fresh, raw fruits (well-washed).  Also eat large quantities of fresh vegetables, raw or lightly steamed or quickly sautéed in olive oil and a little garlic.

The biggest benefit of the Mediterranean Diet is that those miserable aches and pains will begin to diminish and your overall well-being will improve.  And, you will start losing weight more easily.

Of course, you must eat all things in moderation and exercise daily  to ensure weight loss.  Even the healthiest diet can make you fat if you overeat. When you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Moderation is the key.

When you eat healthy as this diet allows you to do, the toxins are slowly and naturally eliminated from your body.  The pounds begin to fall away, the aches and pains will lessen, and you will become more fit – especially if you exercise regularly.

With a healthy diet, new toxins are not continually introduced through the foods you eat and you can enjoy the result of a relatively pain free life.

Make the choice today to switch your way of eating to the Mediterranean way and say goodbye to aches and pains and hello to a happier, healthier life.  It’s about time.