Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Portion Distortion: Healthy Eating Means Eating Less

ThinkstockPhotos-164458496.jpgWe see it, we eat it. Usually that’s how it goes, right? Of course we eat too much, but is it really our faults? Well, unfortunately for Americans, the portion distortion mania has gotten out of hand—and so has obesity. Over time, we’ve gotten so used to the larger portions being served at restaurants, we’ve come to think this is normal. Then of course that thinking spills over into a food addiction at home, too. More food, more food, more food. The craziness needs to stop now! (Here are some tips for portion control at home.)

Today’s Meal Portions Are Too Big

Just because it is served to you, does not mean you need to eat it all. And once and for all, there is no “clean plate club” (anymore)! We certainly should be able to enjoy our meals without guilt, but my motto is “everything in moderation.” So while I indulge in the never-ending bowl of pasta and bottomless nachos from time to time, I focus on the food and enjoy it, that’s for sure (and here are some other tips for mindful eating). But one thing I’ve mastered over time, and invite you to practice as well, is listening to my body’s cues.

Stop Eating Before You’re Stuffed

When I first do that “sigh,” that’s my sign that it is time to stop. It usually comes when the food is about halfway gone, about 15 minutes into the meal. It’s that “ahh” moment. I sit back, put the fork down, stop, and think to myself, “I’m satisfied; I will stop now.” No, I will not continue until I’m stuffed; I’ll stop when satisfied—move away from the table and move on.

Over time, I’ve learned that our bodies are pretty amazing things. They give you these signs all the time if you take the time to listen and respect it. I love healthy foods, and I love unhealthy foods, too. I eat it all, but with balance. My portions end up smaller than those of the people sitting across from me, but that’s okay. It’s not a race, after all. And I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out.

Listen to your body! The key to weight control and healthy eating is to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, and enjoy all things with balance—which will mean smaller portions every time!  Healthy eating means eating less!

Have you ever wondered how you could benefit from meeting with a nutrition coach?  Click below to check out our quick read to better understand how you can benefit from a one on one session.  

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Topics: weight control obesity portion control healthy eating mindful eating

Senior Wellness: Elder Falls Linked to Obesity

fall_riskObesity is an epidemic in our society today. Those who are obese have greater risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and arthritis.

This article discusses obesity in the elderly and how it increases their risk of falling. As might be guessed, the greater an individual's degree of obesity, the greater the risk of falling. A fall may also bring about greater disability for an elder’s ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).

The Risks of Falls for Elders

For more mild cases of obesity (BMI 35.0–39.9 kg/m (2)), an elderly person is at greater risk for long-term disabilities after falling. If an elder is more of a “weekend warrior” type, this claim makes sense. They are obese and need to make lifestyle changes, but they aren’t in such bad shape as to be completely sedentary (inactive). If they attempt a very strenuous activity, they could very well cause themselves a long-term disability.

One claim the article makes is that obesity may reduce an elder’s risk of injury from a fall. This claim doesn’t make sense from an orthopedic perspective. What do most of us do when we fall? We put out our hands to try to catch ourselves, right? Imagine the shoulder and wrist injuries that even a healthy, active athlete could sustain in such a fall. An obese elder is most likely going to have been sedentary (inactive) for at least several months. Being sedentary will have caused atrophy (wasting of muscle tissue) throughout the person’s body. Wrist and shoulder injuries, and perhaps even head and neck injuries, could be expected in an obese elder suffering a fall.

Prevent Injuries Through Exercise and Diet

Practicing prevention is much easier than being laid up with an injury. Strength training, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can help keep us all more fit and active in our later years.

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Topics: weight control senior fitness obesity yoga injury

NIFS Nutrition News: 'Tis the Season for Holiday Baking

holiday bakingOne of my favorite holiday traditions is making fabulous treats for friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.  Entire days are spent baking in the kitchen and the best part (after sampling the treats first hand) is hearing how great everything tastes.  Little do they know that with just a few simple tweaks, those holiday cookies and candy can be dramatically lower in fat and calories.  Here are a few easy substitutions to try:

  • Reduce - Many recipes call for an amount of sugar or fat well above the amount needed for taste and texture. Try reducing these ingredients by 1⁄3 or 1⁄2 when making your recipe. By using non-stick pans and cooking spray, you can reduce the oil or butter on baking sheets and pans.
  • Substitute! There are healthier alternatives to use without compromising taste. Give the following substitutions a try.
    • Eggs - For every egg, use 2 egg whites or 1⁄4 cup egg substitute. Scramblers or Eggbeaters can be found in the dairy/egg section of the grocery store. You can also make your own version of egg substitute: 6 egg whites, 1⁄4 cup nonfat dry milk, 1 tsp. oil, and 6 drops of yellow food coloring. Refrigerate for up to one week.
    • Whipped Cream -Make your own! Beat together 1⁄4 cup ice water and 1⁄4 cup non-fat milk powder until thick. Add 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. lemon juice and 1⁄4 cup sugar. Another option is vanilla non-fat yogurt.
    • Baking Chocolate - Use 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder for every ounce of baking chocolate.
    • Applesauce - Rather than using all of the oil, margarine or butter in baked goods, substitute a portion with applesauce. For example, instead of 1⁄4 cup oil, use 2 Tbsp. of oil and 2 Tbsp. of applesauce. The applesauce provides moisture, but you still have the benefits of the fat in the oil and save 23 calories and 28 grams of fat!
  • Prunes - For your best baked chocolate recipes, try baby food prunes as a fat replacement. They retain moisture and add to the color. Substitute the same amount as in the recipe, or try replacing with a portion of the prunes.

Whatever you decide to bake or eat this holiday season, just remember moderation.  Enjoy 1 or 2 cookies, not the whole batch!!  Happy holidays and happy baking!

Topics: nutrition NIFS calories weight control healthy habits

Corporate Fitness: The Battle of BMI vs. Body Composition

scaleBody Mass Index (BMI) vs. Body Composition: These measurements are used in the healthcare and corporate fitness worlds to help identify risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. But which is best? Many experts reason that both tools can be useful in different circumstances.

BMI

BMI is calculated by dividing weight (kg) by height (m²). Although it takes into account only these two factors, it can generally identify levels of fatness in most people, and has more of a place when a simple, general assessment of a larger group is needed. Labels of “underweight,” “healthy,” “overweight,” and “obese” are used to describe BMI ranges.

The drawbacks of BMI are manifested in a couple of ways. Someone who possesses a great amount of muscle mass may be classified as overweight or obese, when in reality they are in superior shape. An unconditioned individual can be classified as being at a healthy weight when muscle mass is actually lacking. This is where measuring body composition is valuable.

Body Composition

Body composition separates fat mass from lean mass and provides a better assessment of an individual’s health status. The limitations of body composition are that it’s not quite as simple and may not be practical for use in assessments of large groups. The simplest means of measuring it are by scale, handheld device, or skinfold testing and include some margin of error. While most accurate, underwater weighing or air displacement can be complicated and time consuming.

When embarking on a fitness program, it’s a good idea to track your body composition to help you measure your progress. This will allow you to have a much better idea of how your body is changing for the better with the effects of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.  

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Topics: overweight employees corporate fitness Body Mass Index BMI hydrostatic weighing body composition weight control obesity

Employee Health: The Reality of the Weight Loss Rule

This blog was written by Mara M. Winters, HFS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

healthy weight lossSlow and steady. These are the two words that participants in the Pound Plunge, Richmond Wellness Center’s weight-loss contest, frequently hear from me as I coach them through eight weeks of total body transformation. To the dismay of many, weight loss is not an instant process. Many wish they could achieve their ideal weight in only a couple of days, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a one- to two-pound per week weight loss rate is successful and safe.

Can you lose more than two pounds a week? Yes, it is possible. Most often, in the beginning of a weight-loss program, you may see that it is easy to lose more weight. As you diet and exercise, your weight loss will slow down and you may hit a weight-loss plateau.

The Wrong Ways to Lose Weight Fast

But how do people rapidly shed pounds? We see celebrities do it all the time; however it takes extreme measures that are not recommended.  

  • Starvation: There are many starvation diets that call for very low calorie intake. You may lose weight, but side effects of this type of dieting include emotional changes, slower metabolism, weight regain, and of course the uncomfortable feeling of being hungry all the time. Low-calorie diets are hard to stick to.
  • Overtraining: You could spend eight hours a day working out. That would burn a huge amount of calories. However, most people cannot dedicate such a large amount of time to training. This type of workout regimen is hard to follow and can lead to overuse injuries, which don’t leave you feeling good, either.

Safe Weight-Loss Alternatives

Try lowering your calorie intake without starvation. With nutritional control plans such as Weight Watchers®, you can have a variety of foods and feel good, too.

The one- to two-pound a week weight loss rate allows for greater adherence to a weight-loss program. You are able to focus on manageable ongoing lifestyle changes through diet and exercise. Greater long-term success is seen with gradual weight loss.

Slow and steady may not be the most exciting method, but a wise turtle once said it always wins the race.

Topics: employee health overweight employees nutrition weight loss weight management weight control

Employee Health and Nutrition: New Risks of Diet Sodas

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

diet drinksMany people feel that drinking diet sodas is a healthy alternative to regular sodas. While we may believe artificially sweetened beverages may help cut daily calorie intake and therefore minimize weight gain or aid in loss, there is evidence that they can put employee health in danger.

Some studies have suggested that diet colas are actually linked to weight gain. Another study claims that people who consume one diet cola each day may also have a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular events compared to those who do not drink sodas.

While the full story about what links diet soda to heart disease may not be fully revealed, you certainly aren’t missing out on any vitamins, minerals, or other health benefits by not consuming these beverages. Some experts suggest that minimizing these types of beverages and including more water in your day may not only cut risk for cardiovascular disease, but also provide health benefits.

Want to know what you can do to help your employees make better nutritional decisions that not only prevent significant health issues but also protect their health? A qualified corporate fitness management company can help you and your organization guide your employees toward daily activity and nutritious choices.

Topics: employee health corporate fitness nutrition water weight control

NIFS Nutrition News: Take It Off, Keep It Off!

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

NIFS, nutrition, portion controlI love what I do. Seeing people succeed with their weight-loss goals is one of the most rewarding feelings as a dietitian. However, it can also be very challenging when I see clients revert back to old habits and struggle to keep off the weight that they worked so hard to remove.

After checking out some research of highly successful dieters, I have found the best things that can be done to keep off the weight for good:

  • Keep a food journal. Individuals who keep food logs tend to eat 40 percent less because they are writing it down. Also, a recent study found women who kept a food journal lost 6 pounds more than those who didn’t. Some excellent online food tracker sites include My Daily Plate and Choose My Plate. Free apps for your smartphone that are highly rated include My Fitness Pal and Lose It.
  • Practice portion control. As a society we are terrible at eyeballing portions! The secret to success is consistently measuring food items to make sure you are eating the same amount you are journaling. The simplest way to do this is to use measuring utensils to dish out your meals and to associate common items to certain portions. For example, a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, a baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse, a half-cup of pasta is the size of a tennis ball, and a teaspoon of oil is the size of one dice.
  • Don’t skip meals. Lots of people think if they skip a meal they will be decreasing the total calories they are taking in for the day. In reality, the opposite usually happens. When someone skips a meal they typically end up overeating at a different time of day to compensate for missing out on the food that their body needed. Also, whenever you skip a meal it makes your metabolism work at a slower rate and, therefore, makes it harder to lose weight. Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to stay on track!

The more you follow these rules, the higher chance of success you will have in keeping off the weight. For more information or to set up an individualized nutrition appointment, contact me at ascheetz@nifs.org.

Topics: overweight employees nutrition weight loss weight management NIFS weight control healthy habits

Corporate Wellness: Is Nighttime Eating a DO or a DON'T?

binge eating, late night snackThis blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Snacking before bedtime has long been a hotly debated subject. Although we’ve learned that weight control is largely dependent on the balance between calorie consumption and calorie expenditure, late-night eating must be done with care. Otherwise it may damage your weight loss or maintenance efforts. Follow these simple tips for nighttime eating.

Nighttime eating is a DON’T if…

  • You eat out of boredom or habit; not because you are hungry.
  • It leads to mindless consumption of excessive calories, especially of foods void of nutritional value such as potato chips, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.
  • You tend to suffer from nighttime heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux.
  • You tend to reach for foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate.
  • You wake up feeling too full in the morning to eat breakfast.

Nighttime eating can be a DO if…

  • Heavy, greasy foods with a high fat content are avoided.
  • It has been several hours since your last meal.
  • The snack is light and nutritious and contains a mix of carbs and protein (examples: whole-grain cereal and milk, a piece of fruit with cottage cheese, low- or non-fat dairy, popcorn, a small turkey sandwich, whole-grain crackers and cheese or hummus, etc.).
Topics: nutrition weight loss weight control

Snacking Is Good for Employee Health!

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Your stomach is growling, you’re having trouble concentrating at work, and you can’t help but count the hours until dinnertime. Sound familiar?

Nix the idea of snacking as a diet disaster and feel free to indulge! As long as it’s not potato chips from the office vending machine or candy in the office, snacking can lead to long-term health benefits and healthy weight maintenance.

healthy snacks, trail mix, snacking at workAim to eat a 150 to 300-calorie snack with a mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats in between meals. Most likely, this will average out to eating approximately every two to three hours. Consistently fueling your body provides a boost to your metabolism and prevents the overeating that can happen all too easily when you approach a meal with an empty stomach.

Just remember to compensate for the snacks' calories by consuming smaller meals, so that your calorie distribution remains balanced throughout the day.

Healthy snack options are endless; take a look at the handful listed here:

  • Homemade trail mix
  • Yogurt and granola or fruit
  • A handful of nuts
  • Whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese
  • Vegetables and hummus or guacamole
  • A piece of fruit—with or without cottage cheese
  • Whole-wheat English muffin and peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Protein bar
  • Small cup of soup
  • Small turkey sandwich with veggies on whole-wheat bread
  • Small baked potato with salsa
  • Whole-grain cereal with skim milk

What other suggestions do you have for between-meal nibbles?

Topics: employee health nutrition calories weight control

Is a Calorie Just a Calorie? Food Quality and Weight Loss

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

processed foods, calories, nutritionFor many years statements like “a calorie is a calorie” and “everything in moderation” were uttered by many health professionals to explain that in regard to weight loss, controlling total calories consumed is the most important factor. That is to say, it does not matter what you eat; whether it be a salad or a fried chicken leg, as long as your total calories remain below a certain number, you will lose unwanted pounds.

Research now suggests that this is not necessarily true. All calories are not equal, and the source of calories does much to help or hinder our weight loss efforts.

Data from a study that surveyed 122,000 men and women for 20 years found that more significant weight gain was linked to the consumption of potatoes (chips, baked, fried, or mashed), sugar-containing soft drinks, butter, refined grains, desserts, processed red meats, and fruit juices. In fact “a single-serving bag of potato chips added to one’s daily intake tacked on 1.69 pounds over 4 years.” Additionally, the study participants who experienced weight loss reportedly ate more yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.  The reason for this is simple...the body uses more energy to break down nutrient dense foods than it does to metabolize processed items.

It is becoming more and more apparent that what we eat is just as important as how much we eat. What can you do to help your employees make the most nutritious food choices? Adding healthy vending options and cafeteria discounts on fresh fruits and vegetables is one option. Implementing a well-rounded workplace wellness program can be a great resource for educating your employees about making the best choices when it comes to mealtime and incorporating exercise for weight loss and preventing weight gain.

Topics: weight loss calories weight control