October 8th
2023

30 Plants a Week

I’ve been doing an experiment this week based on some advice I read that we should aim to eat 30 different plants in a week. I’m familiar with the advice to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and I often fall short of this, even though I do eat a lot of plants, so I though this challenge would be a good idea. For the purpose of this challenge, all plants count, so grains, nuts, seeds and potatoes are all included.

The idea is that you count the different plants you eat over the course of the week. You can only count each plant once, so if you eat a banana every day it still only counts as one.However, you don’t need to measure the quantity of the item. This appeals to me, because, I often eat small amounts of many things in a dish, but none of them would necessary amount to a serving for the purposes of “5 a day” I read that you can even count herbs and spices, although I didn’t, since I think that they would have been dried in the dishes I ate, and in very small quantities. Maybe if I cooked from scratch using fresh herbs and spices I would count them, although they only count for 1/4 each, so this would make counting more complicated.

I actually got to 30 on Wednesday. I made myself a template on a whiteboard to track my progress. I put it on the refrigerator door so that I could easily note down the ingredients in any food I ate while I was preparing it.

Monday wasn’t great, but I did have soup for dinner, which gave me four items. (I was traveling on Monday, so apart from the soup I just had McDonald’s at the airport and some snacks on the plane). Then on Tuesday, I had oatmeal for lunch with peanut butter and raisins, then soup again for dinner, which got me up to 13 with the bread I had with the soup, and also the banana I had in my protein shake for breakfast. I was a little worried that I would struggle to finish the list, because, even though I still had five days, I tend to eat the same things across the week, so I wasn’t sure that I could add enough new foods.

We were out of bread on Wednesday, so I went to HEB and that’s where I found the solution: 12 Grain bread! This got me up to 24. I had a cheese and turkey sandwich, but on the side I had some chips and guacamole. The guacamole got me up to 28! For dinner we went out for sushi, and I made sure to get my last two items by ordering asparagus roll and cucumber roll. I actually went way over, because there were a variety of other ingredients in the various sushi rolls I ate, I guess seaweed also counts? But I had achieved my goal!

Pro: It’s a good way to see how healthily you are eating overall without getting obsessive about it. There is no weighing or measuring required and you only need to count up to 30. I recommend making a list and having it somewhere you can easily add to it when you eat, for me the whiteboard worked great, but you might want to keep it on your phone if you are often out and about when you eat.

Con: I worry that it will make me less likely to get my “5 a day” although, realistically, I don’t often achieve it anyway. I could plan better to ensure that I’m getting my five portions of fruit and vegetables in the mix in the future.

Overall I think this is a good challenge to try to increase the amount of plants in your diet and bring awareness to the different kinds of foods you are eating. Give it a try!

Muscular Training for Women

Many women can be reluctant to do weight training, fearing that it will result in a muscular or bulky appearance, which is at odds with the slim physique that is often desired. This is an understandable fear. A bodybuilder figure is not something that is desired by every person, and since bodybuilders are known for doing weight training with heavy weights it seems logical that this kind of exercise should be avoided by those who don’t want the appearance of a bodybuilder.

However, it does take a lot of work and effort to achieve the figure of a bodybuilder. There are a variety of ways to incorporate strength training into your workouts, and using heavy weights for low repetitions in order to achieve hypertrophy (muscle growth) is only one of them. If you wish to improve your strength and health and improve your body composition by losing fat, then there are a variety of muscular training techniques that can help you to achieve these goals.

It is not even necessary to use actual weights to strengthen muscles. Bodyweight exercises are a great place to start, using the resistance of your own weight to work the muscles of your body. Resistance bands are another great option for working out at home with minimal equipment. When you are ready to progress to adding external loads, it is best to start with small weights of around 5-10lbs, before progressing to heavier weights as you are ready.

Contact me today and I can devise the best strength training routine for your current needs.

October 4th
2023

May 5th 2023

Guidelines for Americans on Nutrition

Every five years since 1980 the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have published dietary guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are based on scientific research, and are intended to encourage healthy eating choices. The latest set of guidelines for 2020-2025 for the first time give specific advice for different age groups.

The guidelines are summarized in the following points:

1 - Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.

2 - Customize and enjoy nutrient- dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.

3 - Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.

4 - Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.

The dietary guidelines suggest that nutritional needs should be met through nutrient-dense foods and beverages. A good way to get nutrient dense food is to start with single ingredient foods. That way, you know that the food is in its natural form, and there has been nothing added to it. Fruits and vegetables, grains (especially whole grains), low fat dairy and lean meat, fish and eggs are good, nutrient-dense foods.

Many Americans don’t meet the recommendations and there are many health issues associated with poor diets. For help in implementing these guidelines in your diet, you can visit www.myplate.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Walking is Great!

When beginning to add physical activity to your routine, walking is a great place to start. It is an activity that most people are able to do, and it can be done at a pace that suits your current level of fitness. If your doctor has told you that you need to exercise, don’t think that you have to start running, or pushing yourself on a exercise bike at the gym. You can start by simply walking around.

Current guidelines say that adults should get 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. How does walking fit into that? Well, it depends on you. One simple way to gauge the intensity of exercise is called the “talk test”. While you are exercising at moderate intensity, you should be able to talk at the same time. If you are able to sing, you are not exercising hard enough, and if you are not able to speak in full sentences, then you are exercising too hard.

Why not give it a try? Get out in the fresh air and go for a walk. Ideally, you should take a friend with you, so you can test out your ability to talk throughout your walk. That way you can both start accumulating your 150 minutes. Or simply take your dog for a nice long walk, I’m sure he or she will appreciate the conversation, even if it is one sided!

April 21st 2023

Health Benefits of Exercise
April 19th 2023

Taking part in regular physical activity has many health benefits. Exercise can lower the risk of a variety of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and numerous cancers. It can also improve cognition and reduce the risk of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. Being physically active can improve your quality of life and reduce anxiety and the risk of depression as well as leading to improved sleep. An exercise program can help you lose weight, or prevent or reduce weight gain over time. It can help prevent weight regain after weight loss. Taking part in regular physical activity can lead to improved bone health and improved physical function. For older adults the benefits include lower risk of falls and lower risk of fall related injuries.

The recommendation is for adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Examples of moderate intensity physical activity are walking briskly, riding a bicycle on level ground, doing water aerobics or even pushing a lawn mower. Alternatively, you can do 75 minutes of vigorous activity, for example jogging or running, hiking or cycling uphill, or doing heavy gardening, such as digging or hoeing. The benefits can be obtained by doing a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activities, and the benefits are even greater if over 300 minutes of activity are accumulated in a week.

Additionally, adults should do muscle strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity at least two days per week. This can be weight lifting with dumbbells or barbells, or body weight exercised such as push ups or squats. All major muscle groups should be worked.

For older adults, it is vital to incorporate some balance training to help prevent falls. Some activities that include exercises that can improve balance include yoga, tai chi or dancing. Elements of challenging balance can also be incorporated into strength conditioning sessions, by altering the stance. It is important for older adults to be aware of how any chronic conditions affect their suitability for an exercise program. If they are not able to do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, then they should simply do as much as they are able. Something is better than nothing!

Being physically inactive is a risk factor for a whole host of potential health problems. Sitting less and moving more can benefit almost everybody. Inactive people should start slowly, for example with sessions of walking for 5 minutes at a time throughout the day, with the goal of building up to 150 minutes a week over time.

If you want to achieve the health benefits of becoming more physically active, contact me today to discuss how I can help you!
 

What is Sarcopenia?
March 31st 2023

Sarcopenia is a loss of muscle mass due to the aging process. It causes reduced strength and limits a person’s ability to accomplish everyday tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, bending, lifting and carrying. It can also affect balance and lead to falls.

Muscle mass starts to decline after the peak of muscle strength which is around the mid thirties. It drops 3-8% per decade, depending on the individual, and the rate of decline is even greater after the age of 60. Aging is the main cause of this, but other factors, such as poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute.

Using muscles to carry out strength training exercise can improve their strength, size and tone. Strength training can consist of body weight exercises, such as push-ups or pull-ups, lifting weights like dumbbells or barbells, or using resistance bands. The CDC states that adults over 65 need at least two days a week of activities that strengthen muscles. This includes all the major muscle groups, arms, legs, chest, back and shoulders.

I can develop a safe, effective exercise program for you, however old you are. This can help limit the loss of muscle as you age and enable you to remain active for life.

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