Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spicy Popcorn

About a week ago, our microwave stopped working. Randomly, in the middle of trying to reheat some leftovers for lunch. Frustrating? Yes. Especially when I have some amazing leftover Drunken Noodles hanging out in the fridge just begging to be eaten. Alas, it needs a new part which will be here at the earliest on Friday. Grr.

Having a broken microwave also guarantees one other thing -- no popcorn. Well, at least none of the bag popcorn. And of course, that's when I start to get the popcorn craving. Now, I come by these popcorn cravings honestly -- when I was younger it seemed that my mom was always popping up a bag of popcorn to munch on. Although I have to admit, plain ol' popcorn with no salt or butter doesn't really do it for me. Yeah, I was always that kid that smothered their popcorn with butter at the movie theater.

So what to do with no microwave to help satisfy my craving? Make it old school style. This way we can change the flavor to our liking AND get rid of that partially hydrogenated oil (read: trans fat) that hides out in those bags. I opted for some buttery popcorn with a little bit of a kick to it.

Spicy Popcorn
From: Original Recipe

1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup popcorn kernels
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels, cover, and shake to form an even layer. Cook for about 3 minutes, then shake pot again. Once kernels start popping shake every few seconds. Remove from heat once popping subsides. Transfer popcorn to a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. (You can also melt the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl.)

Pour half of the melted butter over the popcorn. Sprinkle half the cayenne pepper, garlic salt, and cheese over popcorn and toss. Add the remaining ingredients and toss again.

Makes: 10 2-cup servings

Making my own stove-top popcorn was much, much easier than I had anticipated. While trying to figure out my ingredients, I skimmed across a recipe that claimed 1 cup of popcorn kernels made 20 cups. I laughed. Yeah right. Then I made popcorn from 1 cup of kernels. Yeah, not really a joke. It really does make that much. (I had to use a my super huge pyrex bowl and the next largest one just to fit it all.) I highly recommend using a very large pot to make this in -- I used my 8 quart stockpot and it worked perfectly.

Even at room temperature, this popcorn makes for the perfect munching snack. As evidenced by the fact that I have almost taken down the smaller of the two bowls of popcorn. And I may have just made it this morning...

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 231Calories from fat 169
% Daily Value
Total Fat 18.7g29%
Saturated Fat 6.1g31%
Cholesterol 20mg7%
Sodium 119mg5%
Total Carbs 12.9g4%
Dietary Fiber 2.4g9%
Protein 4.1g
Vitamin A 5%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 6%Iron 4%

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 30: The End

Sometimes I feel like these past 30 days have just flown by. Other days I can't believe National Blog Posting Month is still going on. Well, it is officially coming to a close today, and with it, our Get Up and Move Challenge. Let's take a look back at all we've talked about this month:

If you successfully completed the Get Up and Move Challenge by performing some type of exercise each day, then pat yourself on the back. Congratulations!

Feel free to take this image and post it to your blog or facebook page. Be proud of your accomplishment!

Now that our challenge is over, keep up your hard work! Below are the American College of Sports Medicine's recommendations for weekly exercise [1]:

Aerobic Exercise:
  • At least 5 days per week at a moderate intensity, or at least 3 days per week of vigorous activity
  • At least 30 minutes per day for health benefits and 60 or more minutes per day for weight loss or weight maintenance.

Resistance Exercise:
  • 2-3 days per week, with at least 48 hours separating the training sessions for the same muscle group
  • 8-10 various exercises focused on the major muscle groups
  • A resistance that allows 8-12 repetitions per set should be selected

  • 2-3 days per week
  • 4 or more repetitions of each stretch, with each static stretch being held 15-60 seconds

If you have a known pulmonary, metabolic, or cardiovascular disease (or signs and symptoms of one) talk with your physician before starting an exercise program.

Keep in mind that these guidelines are for healthy adults 18-65. If you find yourself outside this range or have other ailments, talk to your physician or a trained exercise professional for guidance on where to begin. Remember, you don't have to try and run a marathon on your first day, instead, gradually build up to the recommended levels. Then enjoy the fact that you are becoming healthier with each passing day!

[1] American College of Sports Medicine. Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2010.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Korean-Style Pork Tenderloin

Raise your hand if you've seen enough turkey to last you for a very long, long while. Or mashed potatoes. Or green bean casserole. Mine's raised. Don't worry, I will have a recipe or two for you that will work excellent for any upcoming holiday feasts, but let's take a break from all that heavy goodness.

Instead, let's switch it up a bit. Let's have some pork with an Asian flair that involves barely any work to throw together. I'm game.

Korean Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from: Cooking Light, September 2002

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray

In a large ziploc bag, combine first 7 ingredients (through garlic). Add pork, seal, and roll tenderloin to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a deep baking pan with foil.

Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Remove pork from bag. Reserve marinade. Brown pork in pan, about 1 minute per side.

Transfer pork to baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, or until 160 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring reserved marinade to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Cut pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices; serve with sauce.

Serves: 4

This pork was excellent and a perfect change from the fall flavors and heavy casserole type dishes we've been eating as of late. It was sweet and savory and paired well with the garlic fries. Don't skimp out on cooking the marinade -- it really gives the pork a big punch of flavor. As long as you remember to prepare this in advance (which I had a tendency to keep forgetting), it's great for a quick, low-stress meal.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 243Calories from fat 68
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.6g12%
Saturated Fat 1.9g9%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 83mg28%
Sodium 1263mg53%
Total Carbs 9.3g3%
Sugars 6.7g
Protein 31.2g
Vitamin A 1%Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 2%Iron 10%

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 29: Is exercising while pregnant safe?

Only one more day left in the Get Up and Move Challenge! I really can't believe we've made it this far!

Today we're going to look at the safety of exercising while pregnant, as many women are unsure if it's safe at all, let alone what level they should be exercising at.

Not only is exercise safe to perform while pregnant, it can help to improve the health of the pregnancy as well. Obviously, a women's body goes through many changes while pregnant. Increases in the levels of estrogen, progesterone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), relaxin, prolactin, and oxytocin all help to transform the female body into a nice safe place for the baby to grow.

Weight gain during pregnancy is expected and necessary, however, there is a point where it can become excessive. The current weight gain goal for females is between 25-35 pounds. Now, not all of this weight is caused from a simple gain in fat tissue. In fact, only about 7 of those pounds is extra protein, fat and nutrients stored by the mother. The other weight comes from (at full term):
  • 7.5 pounds from the baby
  • 4 pounds from extra blood
  • 4 pounds of additional body fluids
  • 2 pounds of increased breast tissue
  • 2 pounds of increased uterus weight
  • 2 pounds of amniotic fluid
  • 1 1/2 pounds from the placenta
This extra 7 pounds of fat weight should come from an additional 300 calories consumed per day [1]. Yup, 300 extra calories per day, that's all that's needed.

If you find yourself eating healthy and not to excess, yet still gaining lots of weight, don't worry. Your body is designed to increase your fat stores during the first two trimesters.

In the past, worries arose regarding exercising while pregnant for two main reasons: 1) the increased blood flow during exercise would be diverted away from the fetus causing a decrease in the nutrients and other essential items during this time period; 2) the mother's core temperature would rise, causing an increase in fetal temperature and affecting the narrow pH of the blood. Good news! As long as exercise is within reason (not a marathon), and the mother stays adequately hydrated, the baby will be just fine.

In fact, low to moderate-intensity exercise is actually encouraged during pregnancy. Exercising promotes a healthy weight gain, reduced occurrence of gestational diabetes, adequate blood pressure, a decreased risk of preeclampsia, improved circulation (reduces or prevents swelling), as well as an easier pregnancy and labor and delivery.

How do I need to modify my exercise while pregnant?
First off, there are certain contraindications for exercising while pregnant, some of which include: significant heart disease, restrictive lung disease, incompetent cervix (which you would most likely be on bed rest anyways), pregnant with multiples, persistent bleeding, placenta previa after 26 weeks, a previous premature pregnancy, ruptured membranes, and preeclampisa or pregnancy induced hypertension.

For those healthy females with a healthy pregnancy, prior to starting a training program, talk with your OB and get their clearance.

While pregnant, you are able to continue with most activities, just at a lower intensity. You are still aiming for at least 3 days per week, building to at least 30 minutes per day. You should be working out at a low to moderate-intensity. The recommended heart rate ranges are broken down by age as follows:
  • less than 20: 140-155 bpm
  • 20-29: 135-150
  • 30-39: 130-145
  • greater than 40: 125-140

Activities such as soccer, basketball, contact sports, those with a high risk of falling (skiing, horseback riding, rock climbing), or activites that cause jarring or sharp changes of directions should be avoided. However, things such as cycling, walking, jogging, swimming, and even resistance training are all still on the table. Other things to avoid involve supine positions (on your back) after the first trimester, motionless standing, vigorous activity in the first trimester, the valsalva manuever, and exercising within 6 weeks post-delivery (your doctor will need to clear you to start exercising again).

During exercise, make sure to extend your warm-up and cool-down periods to at least 5-10 minutes. Also, make sure to stay hydrated! It is recommended to take in 8 ounces every 30 minutes (having a bathroom nearby is also handy). Try focusing on strengthening your abs, back, pelvic floor, and other muscles involved in labor (such as your inner thighs).

Just because you are pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up exercising. You can still perform many of your favorite workouts, just at a lower intensity. Remember, if you aren't feeling well, you don't have to push yourself to work out. Your goal should not be to train for an upcoming race while pregnant, but instead simply to have a healthy and easier pregnancy. Over-exercising can have detrimental effect to the fetus, so make sure to stay within your appropriate heart rate range and a reasonable duration.

[1] American College of Sports Medicine. Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2010.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 28

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 28: Is being flexible important?

In the realm of exercise, aerobic and resistance training usually take center stage. As they should, being that they provide the main health benefits of exercise. Flexibility often gets tossed out the window and forgotten with most people, however, as we age, working on our flexibility becomes more and more important.

Stretching exercises can help to improve a joint's range of motion as well as physical function [1]. Right now you may think this doesn't matter. Right now you may be able to reach up over your head and pull down a set of heavy mixing bowls, or bend over to place items in the dishwasher. The older we get unfortunately, the harder and harder these seemingly simple tasks become to do.

Not only do these tasks get harder, but the risk of falling (with the possibility of fracturing a hip) increases as well. Over 81% of deaths from falls are in the 65 and older population, and those 75 and older who fall have a 4-5 time higher risk of ending up in a long term care facility for a year or longer [2]. On top of that, those who sustain a hip fracture during a fall have a 20-25% increased risk of death. So, maybe flexibility and balance are more important than we first thought.

What type of stretching should I do? [1]

Stretching can be performed either after your warm-up or prior to a cool-down in your workout, whichever way you prefer. There are four main types of stretching:
  • Static
  • Dynamic
  • Ballistic
  • Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation technique (PNF)

Static stretching involves a passive relaxation of the muscle while it is elongated (such as reaching to touch your toes and holding the position). It is recommended to hold each type of this stretch for 15-60 seconds.

Dynamic stretching is commonly used prior to training or maximal events. This method involves a smooth swinging or continual motion of the muscle, stretching a little farther with each motion (stretch is not held).

Ballistic stretching involves a bouncing or bobbing movement and is not commonly recommended.

PNF technique involves passively stretching a muscle, then contracting the muscle in that position for about 6 seconds, relaxed, then moved farther into the stretch and held for about 10-30 seconds. It is not recommended that those unfamiliar with this technique and without supervision use this method.

It is important to note that regardless of the type of stretching you perform, they should be within the limits of discomfort in your range of motion, but no further.

How often do I need to perform a stretching workout? [3]
A stretching workout should be performed for at least 10 minutes, 2-3 days per week. These sessions should involve the major muscle tendons with four or more repetitions.

Workouts such as yoga and tai chi are also great programs to enhance flexibility and balance.

[1] American College of Sports Medicine. Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2010.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview [Internet]. [cited Nov 28, 2010]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

[3] American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2010.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 27

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 27: Health Spotlight On Type II Diabetes. Can exercising help treat or prevent it?

Yes, yes, most definitely yes.

I am sure most of us have heard the term "diabetes" or "Type II diabetes" and know it's associated with our blood sugar and insulin, but we may not be quite sure what it is exactly. 90-95% of all diabetes mellitus cases are Type II, which results from the muscle cells becoming resistant to insulin and the body's inability to compensate for this resistance (insulin helps the body's cells take in sugar for food). What's the big deal with having a high level of blood sugar (blood glucose)? Type II diabetes is a significant cause of early death and sickness related to cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, nerve disease, and amputation [1]. So, it is a big deal, and definitely not something to take lightly.

Genetic and environmental factors play a huge role in the development of diabetes, and it has yet to be teased out with a fine-tooth comb how much each contributes. However, we do know that the risk for diabetes increases with age, obesity, and physical inactivity. While we might not be able to control our genetics or our age, we can most definitely control our weight and physical activity level.

Does weight loss and physical activity really matter when there's medication I can take? Absolutely. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) investigated the difference in reduction of the incidence of Type II diabetes between lifestyle intervention (diet and exercise) versus medication (metformin) versus a control group. And guess which one came out on top? That's right, the lifestyle intervention. In fact, the lifestyle intervention group actually reduced the risk by a whopping 58% as compared to only 31% by the medication group [2]. That's a whole 27%!

How does that even happen? Quick science lesson:
During rest and after eating, the muscle cells are dependent on insulin to be able to take in glucose from the blood. They need this glucose to replace their glycogen stores in order to keep functioning. During exercise, the muscle contractions allow the muscle cells to increase their uptake of blood glucose without the help of insulin. These two pathways are separate, thus even when the insulin-needy pathway is impaired by diabetes, the blood glucose uptake still functions normally during exercise.

Exercising can have both immediate and long term effects on a person's blood glucose levels. One bout of moderate-intensity exercise can cause an increase in insulin action and glucose tolerance for 2-72 hours afterwards (varies by the duration and intensity of the exercise). Over time, exercise training can improve insulin action, blood glucose control, and fat oxidation and storage in muscle (which is better than in fat cells). However, any exercise program must be performed regularly to have a continued effect.

So now that we know physical activity is excellent at helping to prevent and treat diabetes, what kind of exercise do we need to be doing [1]?
  • Moderate-intensity aerobic (such as brisk walking) and resistance training (such as weight lifting)
    • Either alone will work, but performing both gives the best results
    • Milder forms of exercise, such as tai chi and yoga, have shown mixed results, and up to this point should not substitute aerobic or resistance training
    • Aerobic Exercise
      • At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity spread out over at least 3 days per week
        • Bouts can be no shorter than 10 minutes
        • No more than 2 days should elapse between workouts
        • If relying on exercise alone for weight loss purposes, up to 60 minutes per day may be necessary
      • All aerobic exercise should be at moderate intensity (40-60% of your max heart rate), although progressing to vigorous activity can help to obtain additional blood glucose benefits
      • Any form of aerobic exercise is fair game (including brisk walking), as long as it causes a sustained increase in heart rate
    • Resistance Training
      • At least two times per week, optimally 3 on nonconsecutive days
      • All resistance training should be at moderate (50% of your 1-repetition max) or vigorous (75-80% of 1-repetition max) intensity
      • Training should minimally include 5-10 exercises involving the major muscle groups (in the upper body, lower body, and core)
        • In the beginning these sets (as low as 1) should consist of 10-15 repetitions to near fatigue in each set
        • As progression occurs, the weight should be increased until only 8-10 repetitions can be performed per set (as many as 3-4 sets)
      • Resistance machines and free weights are the recommended modes for resistance training
  • It is also strongly recommended that the training be supervised (by a trainer or other health professional) for the best results

Now there are also some warnings that need to be addressed, especially for people with advanced diseases, with uncontrolled blood glucose, or those already dependent on insulin. For those with advanced diseases and uncontrolled blood glucose levels, you can still exercise and reap the benefits. However, first have a chat with your physician to see if additional testing needs to be done and if you have any exercise restrictions. For those diabetics already taking insulin, it is imperative that you monitor your blood glucose levels before, after, and possibly during (if just starting) exercise. Depending on which insulin you are taking, it could be necessary to ingest carbohydrates prior to exercise to prevent hypoglycemia. Once again, this is a time to talk with your physician to see how much you need to take and when.

If you find yourself faced with the diagnosis of pre-diabetes or diabetes, talk to your doctor about what you can do to make lifestyle changes to help lower your blood glucose levels.

[1] American College of Sports Medicine and American Diabetes Association Joint Position Statement: Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes. Med Sci Sport Exer. 2010;42(12):2282-2303.

[2] Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler Se, et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med. 2002;346(6):393-403.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 26

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 26: What Motivates You?

There are only 5 days left in our Get Up and Move Challenge! Can you believe it? Seems like this month has just flown by!

Now that we've been through 25 days of exercising and trying to eat better, it's time to share our motivational tips with each other.

So what are things that help you get out of the house or off the couch and moving? What are things that motivate you while you exercise?

There are the big "heavy-hitter" type reasons, such as trying to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, or for weight loss, but those don't have to be the only reasons. It really can be as simple as wanting to try a new type of exercise (like Zumba).

There are all kinds of ways to motivate yourself while exercising -- to help you keep going to reach that goal, rather than giving up after 5 minutes. Things such as listening to music, watching TV, or better yet, working out with a friend, can all help to keep exercise from being monotonous and boring. Varying your exercise day to day can also help keep things fresh and fun.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and fun-filled Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for?

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 25: Exercising Safety

With all this talk about turkey, I'm sure the last thing on your mind is getting out and exercising today. Don't forget though, if you're taking part in the Get Up and Move Challenge, today counts too!

One of the things that's not talked much about happens to be one of the more important -- exercising safely. I'm not referring to stopping if you have chest pain or other medically related issues (although that is important as well). I'm referring to exercising safely outside.

There are three huge safety pet peeves I see often with people exercising in the great outdoors. More specifically, around busy streets and neighborhoods.

(1) Wearing an MP3 player with headphones. While not in and of itself a bad idea, many people tend to crank the volume up really loud. This can be a problem in high traffic areas, either vehicular or pedestrian. If you are walking or running down the side of a street, you need to be able to hear if there is a car or other automobile approaching. Same thing in pedestrian traffic. Many times runners or bikers will use "passing on the left" or "passing right" when they are about to go around you. If you are unable to hear this, you can easily step in their path and cause injuries to both parties. Even if they don't call out before passing, once again you still want to be able to hear if someone is around you. This doesn't mean you can't wear headphones while out and about, just keep the volume turned down.

(2) Exercising late in the day, in dark clothing without reflective gear. How many times have you been driving home from work in the winter months and had to do a double take because you didn't see a pedestrian out walking? If you are going to be out during very early hours, or dusk and later, make sure you wear at least one item of light colored clothing and more importantly, some piece of equipment or clothing that has reflective tape on it. Many drivers are busy focusing on the road (or worse, texting or talking on their phone) and are not looking for pedestrians. Make it easy for them to see you.

(3) Walking/Running on the wrong side of the road. This happens a lot, and more often than not it's because people don't know which side is the correct one. If sidewalks are available, this isn't a big concern. However, when there are no sidewalks present, it is very important you walk/run on the correct side of the street. Which side that? You always want to walk/run facing traffic. This typically means (in the US) the left side of the street. Going against traffic allows you to be aware of oncoming traffic, and to get out the way if there is a distracted driver. You can't see how close to you the approaching car is if it's coming up behind you, and this can be very dangerous.

What are some safety concerns you've seen while outside?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Garlic Fries

Hold on. Wait one minute. Wasn't I saying how crazy it was I made a side dish yesterday? And then I went and did it again? Yup, there must seriously be something wrong with me. Although the process of making these and not timing it right with the main dish (okay, how was I to foresee this would need two baking sheets when it only called for one?) reminded me why side dishes stress me out.

There. I said it. They stress.me.out. Not to say that munching on fries while waiting for some juicy pork tenderloin to come out of the oven was the worst thing in the world. I could probably think of a lot worse things to do while waiting for dinner. Like cleaning, or working on my research project, or maybe some homework, or... oh wait, I did those things the rest of the day. Silly me.

Anyhoo, so we were talking about fries. Not your typical fried sticks of potato coated so heavily with salt you weren't sure a fry still existed underneath it all. Nope, these get a nice healthy coat of vegetable oil and a sprinkle of salt before being sent off on their merry way to the oven. After a quick flip and more time spent basking in the heat, these golden sticks are tossed with Parmesan cheese, parsley, and best of all garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. Which makes them amazing and finger-lickin' delicious.

Garlic Fries
Adapted from: Cooking Light, September 2007

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 pounds (about 5) baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter
8 cloves garlic, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray two baking sheets thoroughly with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a gallon-sized ziploc bag, combine oil, salt, and potatoes strips. Toss well (or shake the bag) well to coat. Transfer potatoes to baking sheets, ensuring they are in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes, then bake another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. Toss well and serve immediately.

Serves: 6

Please don't run off scared when you see there are 8 cloves of garlic in this. Yes, 8 cloves. You need them all (these are called Garlic Fries for a reason). So don't be shy.

Once you toss everything together, the warm garlicky butter just melts right into the fries and it pairs perfectly with the salty Parmesan. And as we all know, the parsley is really just for show. :)

Make sure you spray your baking sheets well as I had had issues with several of my fries sticking to the pan. I did spray one of the baking sheets of fries with cooking spray again before flipping -- these removed easier than the pan that I didn't. Oh, and if you find a easy way to flip these guys, will you please pass them on? My flipping methods leave a lot to be desired.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 286Calories from fat 70
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.7g12%
Saturated Fat 3.4g17%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 12mg4%
Sodium 367mg15%
Total Carbs 49.4g16%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g20%
Sugars 2.7g
Protein 6.6g
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 39%
Calcium 6%Iron 14%

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 24: Tackling Turkey Day

If there was ever a day to "cheat" on a diet, I think Thanksgiving could put up a good fight for that day. Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks. It's a celebration of friends, family, and of course, food. It is one of the only holidays that is so centered around food that any deviation from the traditional menu gets the cook the stinky-eye and revokes their Thanksgiving dinner making privileges for years to come.

It can't be denied that Thanksgiving in a holiday of overindulgence. Of stuffing ourselves to the brink of explosion, then going back for a piece of pie. Yet there are those out there who aren't interested in the belly ache and 3,000+ calorie meal. If you fall in this category, there is no reason you can't still enjoy everything the table has to offer. Just keep it in small, sample sizes. Opt for smaller portions of bread and meat, and larger portions of vegetables (as long as they aren't doused in marshmallows and butter). Have a bite or two or pie, not a quarter of the entire thing. Remember, moderation is key.

Then there are those who aren't so concerned with the meal. They believe Thanksgiving dinner is what it is and appreciate it for that. There is a time and a place for everything, and the time for a little overindulgence is Thanksgiving. However, we can prevent insult to injury to our body by watching what goes in before the big meal. We really don't need to aim for another 2,000 calories on top of that big turkey meal.

The November issue of Cooking Light contained an "Eating Smart" section detailing how even those little bites here and there during the meal prep really can sneak up on you. Let's take a look:
  • Licking the batter during cake making: 75 calories
  • Nibbling on some leftover bacon for a gratin: 42 calories
  • Taste testing your bread cubes for the stuffing: 15 calories
  • Oh, there was a little bit of whipped cream left in the bowl from the pie?: 26 calories
  • Let's try adding a bit of variation to this dish with some alcohol. Shot of Grand Marnier (you have to taste test, right?): 38 calories
  • Adding in a little dried fruit to the cranberry sauce never hurt. One for the sauce one for me: 25 calories
  • The family is arriving. There's cheese set out to keep the hounds at bay. And maybe the cook: 57 calories
  • Oh, that bottle of wine magically opened. It must be tasted before being served to the guests: 125 calories
  • Time to top that pecan pie... need to make sure the pecans are properly toasted first: 49 calories
  • The bird is done! But you need to check to make sure it tastes alright...: 48 calories
  • Dang those veggies, they just can't stay in the dish. Eat the ones that jumped onto the counter: 9 calories
  • Ah, those beautiful little marshmallows on top of sweet potato casserole. You need a few to remind yourself how good they are: 13 calories
  • Another side dish is out of the oven! Brussels sprouts! (Have to taste to make sure that one's okay too): 15 calories
  • Mmmm the rolls are on their way out of the oven toward the table. That one's a little ugly, we can't have that now can we?: 106 calories
  • Hmm, that wine glass is almost empty. Might as well finish so we can have a fresh glass for dinner: 106 calories

Individually these aren't that bad. 9 calories for some veggies, 125 for a glass of wine. All reasonable. Until they are all together. 768 calories. Those sneaky little calories.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you refuse to taste your food before serving it or that you must starve yourself before the big meal. This list is just a reminder that even those little bites here and there eventually add up to a calorie count worthy of an entire meal. So eat a hearty breakfast and slow down on those "oops fell on the floor" marshmallows. You'll thank yourself the following day.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Have you ever come across a recipe that as soon as you see it, you know you are going to make it? That's my story when it comes to these brownies. As soon as I opened my inbox I saw the title and had to check it out. After seeing them... sold. I had been feeling in the brownie mood lately, and these gave me the perfect excuse. Well, wait. My parents are stopping through on their way to my sister's tonight so that's my excuse. These were the perfect recipe to fit that excuse. :)

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Adapted from: Cake Duchess

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter paper.

Bring about 2 cups of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Place a glass bowl in the saucepan over the water. Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl and melt, stirring occasionally until smooth.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt. Set aside.

In the work bowl of a mixer, add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and well combined, about 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly add in flour mixture, beat until fully incorporated.

Divide batter evenly (about 2 cups) between two bowls. In the first bowl, add in chocolate mixture, stirring until completely combined. In the bowl with the second half of the batter, add in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until well combined.

Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan, covering the bottom evenly and smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Add half of the pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate, once again smoothing out evenly to the edges. Working quickly, repeat with remaining batters.

Using a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.

Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted is removed cleanly. Allow brownies to cool in pan on a wire rack.

Makes: 16 brownies

The concept behind these brownies confused me at first -- you are essentially making one batter, then dividing it and flavoring it with chocolate or pumpkin. The end result is a cakey fluffy little square of goodness, followed by a little bit of a kick from the cayenne. For as much pumpkin as I have ingested in my life, I had yet to try the whole chocolate & pumpkin combo before eating these. I must say, it was quite tasty. However, swirling artist, I am not. Maybe I should work on that...

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 303Calories from fat 124
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13.8g21%
Saturated Fat 7.0g35%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 142mg6%
Total Carbs 41.1g14%
Dietary Fiber 1.5g6%
Sugars 27.2g
Protein 4.3g
Vitamin A 65%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 5%Iron 9%

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 23: Are diets such as Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-Free safe and healthy?

Yesterday we talked about weight-loss diets, but some people choose to change their diet for other reason. This group includes diets such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, among others. Are these diets safe? Are they as healthy as the traditional diet? Let's start out with a couple key definitions again:

Diet: food or drink regularly provided or consumed. However, over the years it has morphed into a word defining a specific intake for nutritional or weight-related reasons.

Vegetarian: does not consume the flesh of animals, but may consume animal products (such as eggs, milk, and cheese)

Vegan: does not consume any animal product, whether meat or byproduct

Gluten-Free: a diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten-containing cereals (e.g. wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, malts and triticale); also bans the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent

Vegetarians, vegans, and their derivatives often choose this change in diet for a multitude of reasons: ethics, health, environmental, religious, political, cultural, aesthetic, economic, or culinary (textural). The gluten-free diet originated as the cure for those with coeliac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, or a wheat allergy. Recently however, many people without these diseases are opting for this diet as well.

Are they healthy?

Gluten-free diets absolutely can be healthy. They are, after all, designed to help relieve medical problems. There are certain concerns when one switches to a gluten-free diet, whether it's for a medical reason or not. Many gluten-free foods are not fortified or enriched as many products with gluten are, which can lead to lower intakes of folate, iron, fiber, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and calcium. However, with careful planning, these deficiencies can be avoided.

The same goes for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has taken the position that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases [1]. As with the gluten-free diet, there are some concerns with receiving adequate nutrition, specifically protein, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin A (especially vegans), omega-3-fatty acids, and iodine.

If these nutritional concerns are addressed and meals are designed to combat these deficiencies, then there is nothing wrong with changing from a traditional diet. The ADA position stand paper actually provides an excellent list of food sources of the nutrients in concern (pages 4-6).

Changing your diet can be a healthy change and with each of these diets it is more than possible to reach your recommended daily intakes for all nutrients. However, as mentioned yesterday, if you are finding that you have a heavy need for vitamins and supplements to reach the recommended daily levels, you may need to reevaluate what you are eating and possibly changing your diet back to a more traditional form. (As a side note: it is imperative that parents keep a strict eye on children who voluntarily opt to enter into one of these diets to ensure a proper amount of calories and nutrients are being consumed.)

[1] Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian diets. JADA. 2003;103(6):748-65.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Brussels Sprouts

Oh. My. I went there. I made that certain vegetable that sends kids running from the table or at the very least ends up hidden under napkins and plates.

I have to be honest here. Up until now, I've never tried brussels sprouts. Ever. I can't say that didn't stop me from hesitating with the fork right before taking a bite, or having that sinking "this is going to be bad" feeling.

But I was intrigued. I had seen these tiny little cabbage look-a-likes popping up everywhere, from Bon Appetit and Cooking Light, to Bobby Flay making them during a throwdown (instead of mashed potatoes, gasp!), to other blogs. What was going on? Was I missing something? I had to find out. Instead of smothering and covering these guys, I figured the best way to go about trying them was a simple saute. Olive oil, garlic, and a little red pepper. Nothing too fancy.

Brussels Sprouts
From: Original Recipe

1/2 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Trim off bottom part of stem on brussels sprouts. Slice into half or thirds (depending on size).

In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add sprouts in one layer. Cook for 5 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to prevent sprouts from sticking. Flip sprouts over and cook for another 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Serves: 3

So I tried a bite. And then another. Not exactly my favorite vegetable, but definitely doesn't warrant a complete meltdown and parent-child stand-offs. I think these guys get a bad rap. The larger pieces I had did have a little bit of bitterness to them, so make sure you pare them down to a nice bite-sized amount before cooking.

Can you believe it? Another side dish. That might be even more weird than me eating brussels sprouts. AND it's not the only green veggie on the plate! There was some broccoli involved last night, too. I think there was something mysteriously wrong going on last night. Let's not let it happen again.

Seriously? I would make these again? What is the world coming to?

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 74Calories from fat 43
% Daily Value
Total Fat 4.8g7%
Saturated Fat 0.7g3%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 19mg1%
Total Carbs 7.2g2%
Dietary Fiber 2.9g12%
Sugars 1.7g
Protein 2.6g
Vitamin A 13%Vitamin C 108%
Calcium 3%Iron 6%

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 22: Which "diet" is the best?

This is the "big daddy" of all the "dieting" questions out there. And unfortunately, there just isn't an answer. Before we start, let's define a few things first.

Diet: food or drink regularly provided or consumed. However, over the years it has morphed into a word defining a specific intake for nutritional or weight-related reasons.

Low Calorie Diet: consists of 800-1200 calories per day (often need to be medically supervised)

Balanced-Deficit Diet: usually between 1200-1500 calories per day

Low Fat Diet: restricts fats to 20-30% of daily calories, but can be as restrictive as 10%

High Protein Diet: recommends a protein intake between 30-50% of daily calories

Low Carbohydrate Diet: recommends less than 10% of daily intake coming from carbs, with some diets eliminating carbs completely

Okay. So there are about a million and one different diets that exist; from the Atkins Diet (High-Protein, Low-Carb), to the South Beach and Zone Diets (Low-Carb), to Weight Watchers (Balanced-Deficit), to the Ornish Diet (Low-Fat), to NutriSystem (Portion Control), to the Caveman/Paleo Diet (only pre-agricultural era foods), to the Cookie Diet and SlimFast Diet (meal replacement). There are 88 different diets listed on WedMD alone, and that that barely scratches the surface.

Where do you even begin? First and foremost, if your doctor has recommended a particular diet for you due to health-concerns (such as diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) follow it. They did spend 10+ years getting that MD behind their name -- they probably know something. Second, if you are unsure about a particular diet or have questions regarding what you should be eating and if you're getting the proper nutrients, talk to a registered dietitian (RD). Once again these people went to school for nutrition and know it like the back of their hand. They are experts. Those trying to sell you on a diet, most likely, are not. Or, if they are an expert, as in the case of the Atkins and South Beach diets, check the facts -- the majority of these diets (including the two aforementioned) are based on theories and case studies, not true-blue peer-reviewed factual science.

In all actuality, it is very difficult to find information regarding a specific diet in a scientific journal. The problem is most diets are simply a fad, and come and go before the research can be approved, performed, and published. There are a few diets, such as Weight Watchers, Atkins, Ornish, and Zone that have been compared and investigated scientifically, as those are the few which have been around for longer than a season or two, although those studies are still far and few between.

I know you're hoping I am going to single out one diet that stands above the rest, but it really isn't possible. In the end, most studies find that after 12 months, there is no weight-loss difference between the low-carb/high-protein diets and those more traditional high-carb/low-fat/low-calorie diets [1]. What is important, however, is the attrition rate (drop-out rate). Any diet, whether high-protein, low-carb, low-calories, or low-fat, that is overly restrictive will cause people to drop out (at rates topping 50% in some cases!). This includes those diets completely cutting out carbs, or containing an extremely low amount of fat. It simply boils down to the fact that people are not able to maintain them. The reasons vary -- it may be too much of a time commitment to figure out what you can and can't eat, an environmental factor (such as the rest of the family is loading up on pasta every night while the diet has completely cut out carbs), or the food selection doesn't provide enough of a variety -- but the results still say the same thing: very restrictive = high drop out rate.

Before starting any diet, you need to make sure you understand that there are some downsides to many of the highly touted methods. High-protein/low-carb diets can encourage an increased intake of fats, many of which end up coming from saturated fats (which, as we know are strongly linked with cardiovascular disease). High-protein diets can also stress your kidneys, with the possibility of dehydration. Another big factor with low-carb diets is the nutritional imbalance during many of their "induction" phases. Cutting out major food groups, such as fruit, can cause the loss of many important nutrients and vitamins -- big red flag: if a diet has you taking vitamins and/or supplements during any phase, it is NOT a nutritionally well-balance or a healthy diet (i.e. the Paleo/Caveman diet recommends calcium and vitamin D supplements due to the elimination of dairy). Low-fat diets often fall into the same trap as low-carb diets by cutting out nutritionally important items, such as monounsaturated fats (which actually help your heart, not hurt it).

So then none of these diets will work? Yes, they can. Dieting is a highly personal and individualized thing. You have to find what motivates you. If counting calories or points is not your thing, try focusing on a different area, maybe as simple as portion control, as it might work better. Key points to consider when choosing a diet: Is this something I can maintain long term, or will I eventually be unable to continue due to the restrictive rules? Does the program have a long term weight-maintenance plan, or is it just a XX-week long program? Does the program include exercise, or does it only focus on weight-loss through dieting? Does the diet seek to change your lifestyle habits or simply provide you with a list of foods?

Recommendation: Find a diet that you believe in, one that motivates you to stick with it and doesn't place restrictive rules on your eating that you have a hard time with (don't believe in). Make sure the diet has a long-term weight-maintenance plan, and doesn't leave you hanging at the end. It has been said that "anyone can lose weight, the problem is keeping if off". You want a program that teaches you how to change your eating habits and make healthier choices, so when you are done with it, you are able to maintain your losses. Use a program that incorporates exercise, not just briefly mentions it. Remember that those who are overweight and active can still be healthier than those who are inactive and thin.

As I said, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to everybody when it comes to dieting. Find what works for you and your health needs.

Which diets have you failed with, and with which ones have you seen long-term success?

[1] Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, McGuckin BG, Brill C, Mohammed BS, Szapary PO, Rader DJ, Edman JS, Klein S. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003;348(21):2082-90.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 21

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 21: The final time increase -- moving from 20 to 30 minutes!

Woohoo! If you've been keeping up and participating with the Get Up and Move Challenge, give yourself a huge pat on the back for making it 2/3rds of the way through! Only 10 more days (including today!) to go!

With only 10 more days left in the challenge, you know what that means... time to increase our workout time from 20 minutes to 30 minutes! We are now officially at the ACSM recommended amount of physical activity. As a reminder, you don't have to perform your exercise in one big 30 minute chunk. You can break it down into two 15 minute segments, one 20 minute bout and one 10 minute bout, three bouts of 10 minutes, or any other combination with each bout lasting at least 10 minutes.

What are some ideas for 30 minute activities?

You can use any combination of the 10 minute exercise or 20 minute exercise ideas, or just perform them for longer.

  • Go for a hike at a nearby state park
  • Find a workout video series that you enjoy (Amazon's most popular exercise DVD list)
  • Commit to a workout program such as:
    • Couch to 5k Program
    • Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred
    • P90x (if you're looking for something more intense)
  • Sign up for an exercise class (doesn't have to be through a gym, many community centers or high schools offer workout classes for adults); there are all kinds of non-traditional fun classes out there:
    • Zumba
    • Yoga
    • Tai Chi
    • Kickboxing

It can also be helpful to switch up the intensity you are working out at day-to-day. If one day you attend a kickboxing class, you might want to just go for a walk the next day, and then do some yoga at home the day after that. Switch things up and don't be afraid to try something new!

What are the different activities you like to do throughout the week to "switch things up"?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 20

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 20: Health Spotlight On Osteoporosis. Can exercising help treat or prevent it?

What exactly is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis causes thinning of the bones and the loss of bone density over time. This decrease in density and increase in brittleness can lead to an increase in the probability of bone breakage with a fall. There are several reasons this occurs such as aging, genetics, and hormonal factors. Not a whole lot we can do about those. However, there are some things we can do to help prevent and even slow down the progress of this disease.

High-intensity (high-impact) exercising can help to significantly increase bone circumference and strength [1]. What does this consist of?

Strength training, such as lifting free-weights, machine-weights, resistance bands or even water exercises.

Weight-bearing aerobic activity, such as running, aerobics, calisthenics, and dancing.

Flexibility exercises, such as yoga and stretching.

Stability and balancing exercises, such as tai chi or standing on one leg.

Some of these exercises, such as flexibility and stability exercises as well as lower-impact aerobic exercises like walking, may not directly increase your bone density. However, performing these exercises can help to improve your strength and balance, helping to prevent falls.

It is key to note, if you are unsure about your bone health, or have been diagnosed with osteoporosis (rather than the less severe form of the disease, osteopenia) it is critical that you see your physician for further guidance with an exercise program.

Aside from exercise, eating the proper amounts of calcium, Vitamin D, and phosphorus can also help to keep your bones strong and healthy. What are some key items you can eat to help you reach the 1,000mg (ages 19-50) to 1,200mg (ages 51+) of calcium, 700mg of phosphorous, and 5 mcg (ages 19-50), 10mcg (ages 51-70), and 15mcg (71+) of Vitamin D each day [2]?

Vitamin D is actually a hormone (not a true vitamin) which can be produced by your skin using sunlight. However, if you're short on sunlight, fish oil, fish (such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, shrimp), fortified milk, and fortified margarine can provide alternative sources of Vitamin D.

Calcium can be found in sources such as milk and other milk-based products, green leafy vegetables (such as spinach), fish with bones such as salmon or sardines, and other calcium-fortified products such as soy milk and orange juice.

Phosphorus is one of the easiest minerals to come across, and is found in most foods, especially animal foods. Few people are unable to reach the recommended daily amount.

What kind exercises or dietary changes have you done to help prevent or slow the onset of osteoporosis?

[1] Vainionpaa A, Korpelainen R, Sievanen H, Vihriala E, Leppaluoto J, Jamsa T. Effect of impact exercise and its intensity on bone geometry at weight-bearing tibia and femur. Bone. 2007;40(3):604-11.

[2] Dunford M and Doyle JA. Nutrition in Sport and Exercise. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2008. pp. 272-73.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Sauce

Better known as Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Soup.

Repeat after me: "In the kitchen, I will always follow my instinct." Please. When it seems like you should add more pasta, do it. When it seems like you should boil down the sauce because it seems awfully runny, do it. Just trust me on this one.

Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Sauce
Adapted from: Cooking Light, January 2005

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves,peeled and crushed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 (14 ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 pound uncooked medium seashell pasta
1 (15.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add crushed garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in salt, pepper, chickpeas, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water over high heat to a boil. Add dried pasta and cook according to package directions, omitting any salt or fat.

Carefully transfer chickpea mixture to a food processor. Process until smooth. In a large bowl, toss together chickpea mixture, pasta, tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley, and lemon juice until pasta is thoroughly covered. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves: 8

Now, don't get me wrong here. With a little more pasta, this dish would actually be quite good. (I have adjusted the recipe above to reflect the proper amount needed.) As long as you aren't scared of a little garlic (yeah... don't recommend this for a first date dish). The boiled and pureed chickpeas give the pasta a creamy texture very reminiscent of macaroni and cheese. I would definitely be game for making this dish again... with a full box of pasta in hand.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 232Calories from fat 46
% Daily Value
Total Fat 5.1g8%
Saturated Fat 0.9g4%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 355mg15%
Total Carbs 36.2g12%
Dietary Fiber 10.3g41%
Sugars 7.4g
Protein 12.1g
Vitamin A 11%Vitamin C 18%
Calcium 9%Iron 20%

Get Up and Move Challenge Day 19: What other ways can I increase my daily activity without adding more time to my planned exercise?

Over the last 19 days we have talked quite a bit about ways to eat healthier and trying to plan time in during the day for exercise. Both are very important and critical areas to focus on to improve our health. Outside of changing our eating habits and making time in our day for exercise, is there anything else we can do?

Why, I thought you'd never ask. :)

There are other things you can do throughout your day to help increase your level of physical activity (think: increasing the amount of calories you burn), and I'm sure you've heard of several:
  • Park your car in the back of the parking lot at work and at the store
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Mow the yard with a push mower, rather than a riding mower
  • Walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker rather than shooting them an email or a quick phone call
  • Rake the yard, rather than using a leaf blower
  • Shovel the drive, rather than using a snow blower
  • Get up and move around during TV commercials
  • Walk your kids to school instead of driving them or having them take the bus
  • Use a shopping basket, rather than a cart, for smaller grocery trips

These things may seem small and trivial, but added up over long term can have a significant impact. While performing these lower intensity activities for a shorter time may not have as profound of an effect directly on health-related risk factors, it can increase weight loss (by burning more calories), which, as we've discussed, can impact your risk factors.

What little things do you do (or can you do) throughout the day to get just that little bit extra physical activity?


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