Snacking Do’s and Dont’s

October 24, 2011


Lunch is hours away, but your stomach is already growling. You’re contemplating snatching a candy bar out of the machine, but the guilt is too much to bear. If you think that your best option is to avoid a snack altogether and wait for the next meal, think again.

One of the biggest myths about snacking is that it is an unhealthy habit. The truth is that it’s not snacking that is bad, but rather the type of food and quantities that people choose. In fact, snacking might be the missing ingredient that will help you reach your optimum health goal.

Healthy snacking can boost energy levels while providing the proper nutrients and also satisfying hunger. You don’t need to avoid snacks altogether. Instead, plan them with moderation and variety in mind.

The Benefits of Snacks

Although you may feel guilty about snacking, it can be beneficial to eat several small meals a day instead of large meals just a few times a day. Here’s how healthy snacking can help you:

  • More satisfaction from fewer calories. Snacking often can help people meet their nutritional needs without gaining the added calories.
  • Prevent overeating. Snacking between meals can actually reduce your overall caloric intake by controlling the feeling to binge at your next meal.
  • Boost of energy and nutrients. Healthy snacks provide fiber and nutrients your body needs to keep you energized throughout the day.

Make Snacks a Healthy Part of Your Life

The challenge with snacking is not when or how often you snack. The real challenge is what kind of food you eat and how much. There are many easy ways to incorporate snacking into a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips to make snacking work for you:

  • Avoid consistent snacking of foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat. Snacks such as candy, potato chips and soda tend to have little or no nutritional value, but they can be okay, once in a while.
  • Eat slowly and make the first bite count. Research has shown it takes approximately 12 minutes for food satisfaction signals to reach the brain of a thin person, and roughly 20 minutes for an overweight person. Eating slowly guarantees that these messages have time to reach the brain in order to prevent overeating.
  • Be aware. Avoid eating snacks in front of the television, computer or while driving. When we are distracted our brains tend to not recognize the food we have eaten.
  • Moderation. The key to healthy snacking is to eat more frequent, yet small portions. Buy small packages of food to avoid binge eating and don’t snack out of the box. The temptation to polish off the package is just too great.
  • Always have snacks available. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit or raisins in a desk drawer, carrots or fresh fruit in the kitchen refrigerator at work or even nuts in the car, so when cravings arise you won’t visit the candy machine.
  • Only snack if you are hungry. The point of healthy snacking is to quench hunger while being health conscious, so don’t snack if you aren’t really hungry. A leading cause of overeating happens because of boredom or social eating, so be careful not to fall into this trap.

With proper portions and healthy food choices, snacking can enhance, rather than hurt your diet.


Exercise Like A Kid

October 17, 2011
Go Bac

At one point exercise was simple — our only mode of transportation was a bicycle, a skate board or roller skates, and our social time was spent playing physically demanding activities like tag and kickball. Even in middle and high school, organized extracurricular sports complemented our scholarly aspirations.

But we all know exercise doesn’t fit so seamlessly into our schedules anymore. For some of us, playtime with children gives us time to exercise like a kid — and our bodies thank us for it. But for the most part, hectic schedules and stressful career obligations keep us off the streets and out of the yards.

While working out at a gym provides benefits, sometimes you just need to change things up and keep life interesting. Check out some of our ideas for exercising like a kid again — these workouts will challenge your muscles in familiarly fun ways, and will help keep your wellness regimen on track.

Get Back on the Bike

You never forget how to ride a bike. So assuming you’ve lost the training wheels at some point, bicycling is a great way to exercise on your own or with family and friends. It’s easy on the joints and it’s great for enjoying and exploring the sights. Keep in mind, bicycling doubles as a healthy, green-friendly transportation option that can burn up to 563 calories*, so it’s also great for people with places to go and people to see.

Brush off your Dancing Shoes

There’s no question that dancing is hot right now, so it’s not too hard to find dancing classes that fit your interests. From Salsa to ballet, the options are endless. And while some may be more comfortable bringing a dance partner, most dance institutes offer classes for singles and will match you up with a dancing friend. Generally, dancing can burn up to 350 calories*,although that can vary with different dance styles.

Revisit Tree Climbing. The Adult Way

Do you miss the challenge of reaching new heights? Try rock climbing. Instruction is available for indoor and outdoor rock climbing, and it provides an excellent all-over workout that canburn up to 774 calories*. Plus, with the equipment you’ll use, it’s a bit safer than climbing your parents’ old oak tree.

Stretch it Out

Were you a former gymnast or cheerleader? Get acrobatic again with trapeze classes and burn up to 300 calories*. If airborne challenges aren’t really your bag, try out for an adult all-star cheerleading squad. These teams consist of former cheerleaders who want to keep the spirit alive — and can burn up to 255 calories* while doing it.

Tag Along

Recreate the fun of a wild game of tag by joining a flag football team (burns up to 563 calories*). Or try a jogging club that pushes you to catch the other members for up to 493 calories*. If you don’t want to commit to an entire season, you can simply gather the gang in the front yard for a game and reap some health benefits.

Play Ball

If your fondest childhood memories involve ball games like handball or four square, give tennis or racquetball a try and burn up to 493 calories*.

Jump In

Were your first steps toward the water? Consider joining an adult swim league. If you prefer staying a little drier, try kayaking or rowing instead. Either way, you’ll burn those calories: up to500 calories burned* in both sports.

To put all those numbers in perspective, check out the number of calories in some of the foods below.


Type of Food

Typical Calories **

Plain Hamburger (3 ounces)


Honey Roasted Peanuts (Two Tbsp.)


Medium Serving of Spaghetti (One Cup) with Marinara Sauce (Half a Cup)


One Packet of Plain Instant Oatmeal


Pretzels (One Ounce)


One Medium Apple


One Slice of Cheese Pizza


One Cup of Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt


One Small Baked Sweet Potato, Without Butter


One Scoop of Light Vanilla Ice Cream (Half a Cup)


Source: (

Keep in mind that physical activity doesn’t offset a poor diet. To manage weight loss, make sure you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming. Also remember that when you’re exercising regularly, it’s even more important to eat foods that have a high nutritional value (i.e., nutrient-dense, while low in fat and sugar) to help propel you through tough workouts.

Here’s to feeling like a kid again!

* Calories burned based on a 150 pound woman performing the activity for one hour.

** Typical calories based on average estimates. Actual calories can vary by brand, serving size and toppings.

4 Exercise Myths That Won’t Go Away

September 26, 2011

by Beth Shepard, M.S., ACE-CPT, ACSM-RCEP, Wellcoaches Certified Wellness Coach

The fascinating — and sometimes frustrating — thing about science is that new evidence is constantly unfolding, changing and often disputing what we think we know about exercise. It’s easy to get stuck, holding on tight to what we’ve always done or believed, even when research clearly shows otherwise. Freshen up your fitness knowledge by taking a new look at some old myths:

Myth 1: Stretch first.

Many of us were taught to perform static stretching before a cardiovascular or strength-training workout — it was part of the warm-up and believed to help prevent injuries. Yet, there’s no scientific evidence linking reduced risk of injury or post-workout soreness with a regular stretching routine. Recent studies indicate that pre-event stretching can actually impair performance in sports requiring explosive power, like jumping or sprinting. While flexibility training helps maintain a full range of motion around joints — for optimal results, stretch after your workout.

Myth 2: Don’t let your knees go past your toes while doing a squat or lunge.

Avoiding excessive forward movement of the knee during a squat or lunge is important. However, in everyday activities such as climbing stairs, the knee and torso naturally move forward slightly in parallel with each other for balance — and to propel the body forward and upward. Restricting this movement when performing squats and lunges increases hip stress and could increase the load on your lower back. For more details, read Knee Movement & Proper Form During Lunge Exercises by ACE exercise physiologists Fabio Comana and Pete McCall.

Myth 3: To burn fat, exercise at a lower intensity.

Forget the “fat-burning zone” — just get out there and move. Your body burns both fat and carbohydrate calories to meet the demands of exercise. The proportion of fat or carbohydrate burned in a given workout depends on exercise intensity and duration, but when it comes to weight control, the type of calories burned with exercise doesn’t really matter. If you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. If you don’t, you won’t.

Low-to-moderate intensity exercise can be sustained for longer periods than higher-intensity exercise, which burns more calories per minute. Base your exercise intensity on your goals, your fitness level, health status and how it makes you feel. Don’t worry about whether you’re burning fat or carbohydrates. For weight control, the key is to choose an intensity level that makes your exercise program sustainable.

Myth 4: Strength training will make you gain weight.

If you’re concerned about preventing weight gain, strength training is actually something you should be doing. On average, adults who don’t engage in any strength training exercises lose about 4-6 lbs. of muscle tissue per decade, silently chipping away at their resting metabolic rates. Unless caloric intake is also reduced, fat weight tends to increase.

Alternately, regular strength training on the major muscle groups at least twice a week helps prevent loss of muscle tissue, and can even help to restore it. Adults who strength-train at levels recommended for fitness gain about 3 lbs. of muscle weight on average in the first 10-12 weeks, with men gaining slightly more and women gaining slightly less. Greater muscle weight gain is not typical, even with continued training. If you spend hours bodybuilding in the gym each day, then you may put on some additional weight within your genetic limits. But if you’re strength training for fitness, your weight gain should be very modest and could be offset by fat loss.

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity

September 19, 2011

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

No. 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

No. 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

Heat Advisory Tips

September 2, 2011

Heat Advisory – Tips from Phoenix Children’s to Prevent Heat-Related Injuries and Illnesses


High temperature days can cause the temperature inside a vehicle to reach dangerous levels. Never leave a child alone in a car, truck or van. A car parked in direct sunlight for only 15 minutes can get to 131 to 172 degrees inside. High Temperatures could lead to heat exhaustion or death.

• Cover metal parts of car seats in hot weather. Belt and harness buckles can cause serious burns to children.

• Limit children’s time outdoors between the sun’s peak intensity hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., keeping outside play to 30 minutes.

• Use sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or higher 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every three to four hours, more often if swimming or sweating.

• Dress children in light weight, light colored, and loose fitting clothes. Hats (with brims and bills) and sunglasses help protect from the sun and ultraviolet light.

• Kids should drink 16 ounces of water every four to six hours. Additionally, sports drinks include a balance of minerals and vitamins which help to hydrate the body.

• Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion including headaches, dizziness, vomiting, muscle aches, paleness, heavy sweating, etc. Phoenix Children’s recommends placing kids in a shady location with loose fitting clothes and lots of water. Seek medical attention if symptoms are severe, get worse, or last more than one hour.

Making Physical Activity a Part of a Child’s Life

July 27, 2011

What can I do to get – and keep – my child active?

As a parent, you can help shape your child’s attitudes and behaviors toward physical activity, and knowing these guidelines is a great place to start. Throughout their lives, encourage young people to be physically active for one hour or more each day, with activities ranging from informal, active play to organized sports. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • boy playing soccerSet a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.

  • Make physical activity part of your family’s daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
  • Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
  • Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
  • Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities.
  • Make physical activity fun.  Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play.
  • Instead of watching television after dinner, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes.
  • Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.

What if my child has a disability?

Physical activity is important for all children. It’s best to talk with a health care provider before your child begins a physical activity routine. Try to get advice from a professional with experience in physical activity and disability. They can tell you more about the amounts and types of physical activity that are appropriate for your child’s abilities.


American Heart Association’s take on childhood INACTIVITY

July 21, 2011
Boys and girls playing soccer in a park AHA Scientific PositionPhysical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. It also increases the risk of stroke and such other major cardiovascular risk factors as obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Why is exercise or physical activity important for my child?

Increased physical activity has been associated with an increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.  Physical activity produces overall physical, psychological and social benefits. Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults. And physical activity helps with

  • controlling weight
  • reducing blood pressure
  • raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • reducing the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
  • improved psychological well-being, including gaining more self-confidence and higher self-esteem

How do I promote physical activity in my child?

  • Physical activity should be increased by reducing sedentary time (e.g., watching television, playing computer video games or talking on the phone).
  • Physical activity should be fun for children and adolescents.
  • Parents should try to be role models for active lifestyles and provide children with opportunities for increased physical activity.

What if my child is uncoordinated or overweight?

All children, even less-coordinated ones, need to be physically active.  Activity may be particularly helpful for the physical and psychological well-being of children with a weight problem.

The American Heart Association recommends:

  • All children age 2 and older should participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day that are developmentally appropriate and varied.
  • If your child or children don’t have a full 60-minute activity break each day, try to provide at least two 30-minute periods or four 15-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate to their age, gender and stage of physical and emotional development.