Health Matters Newsletter


  A Healthy Start -March 2007


New Years is long since past, as well as our dieting resolutions.  As we sit here, in the dead of winter, we dream of warm days, sandy beaches, and that day in the not so far future when you are going to have to squeeze into that bathing suit. Whether you are male or female, swim suit season can be a trying time of self image .  This newsletter will be focused on developing a healthy diet and exercise program, hopefully, providing you with some tools for preparing for summers warmth. Each week for this next month, additional tips (i.e.walking for exercise, dealing with emotional eating, and tips for when eating out) will be added to the end of this newsletter.

Healthy eating is a lifetime commitment.  And for most of us, healthy eating comes with a huge lifestyle change. Some pitfalls of dieting include:

- Skipping meals. By Skipping meals during the day, you increase your chances of overeating later in the day because of low blood sugar.

- Snacking while studying or working at our desks.  Munching on high calorie snacks like chocolate bars, chips, and peanut butter laced crackers does not help the waistline.

- Late Nights. Staying up late, means extra waking hours, and possible more snacking. 

- Take out/order in food.  Pizza, wings, subs, etc are high in calories.

- Vending machines. They might be good for a quick pick me up or a last minute meal, but these machines are filled with high calorie, high fat insults to the body.

- Lack of exercise.  Most adults consider exercise to be very low on the list of things to do during a busy semester.  Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain.

- Increased alcohol intake. Alcoholic beverages contain hidden calories.  The average beer or glass of wine contains 150 calories that tend to be stored as body fat.


Goals of nutrition are to attain adequate intake of sufficient levels of essential dietary nutrients while maintaining a balance between energy intake and physical activity.  A healthy weight for adults of both genders and all age groups is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.

In order to understand all there is to know about dieting, we must first understand all there is to know about nutrition.  To stay healthy, avoid disease, and prevent weight gain,  it is recommended to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

Guidelines for Eating Healthfully

- Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day.  This averages out to eating approximately every three hours. You should never allow yourself to get too hungry because this will cause a drop in blood sugar which can lead to binging.  Healthy snacks, which combine protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, weighing in at 100 calories each are good for between meals.

- Become a label reader.  Aim for a diet of 40% carbohydrates including whole grains and fruit, 30% lean protein including chicken breasts and turkey and 30% healthy fats such as olive oil.  Eliminate trans fat and saturated fats from your diet.  You will not only loose weight, but it will be better for your heart.

-Fats.  
Saturated Fats: Get less than 10% of calories each day from saturated fats and less than 300mg per day  of cholesterol. Keep amount of trans fat (hydrogenated oils) you eat as low as possible

Total fat intake:  Keep your total fat intake between 20% and 35% of your calories with most fats coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils found in fish, nuts, and olive, canola, and other vegetable oils.

When choosing meats, poultry, and milk products, choose lean, low fat or nonfat. Remove the skin on  poultry before cooking or eating it.  Bake or broil meat instead of frying.

Limit your intake of fats and oils high in saturated and trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.

-Choose healthy carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates provide energy.  For weight loss, switch to whole grains such as wheat bread, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.  Eat three or more ounce equivalents of whole grain per day. Eliminate refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flours.

-Dairy.  Have three cups of nonfat or low fat milk or equivalent milk products per day. (Equivalents are for 1 cup; 1 cup low fat yogurt, 1 1/2 ox of low fat or nonfat cheese, 2 oz of low fat or nonfat processed cheese)

-Alcohol.  Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Alcohol is high in calories.

-Practice portion control. A serving of protein should be about the size of the palm of  your hand, and a serving of carbohydrates is no larger then your fist.  

-Eliminate sugary drinks and fruit juices.  Switch to diet sodas and water.  You should drink eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day.

-Eat fish three times a week.  Deep water fish contains omega-3. Studies have shown that omega-3 will aid in protecting you from heart disease

-Carry healthy snacks with you.  Almonds, walnuts, and low fat yogurt are good choices to have on hand to stave off candy and cookie temptation.  Apple slices with peanut butter or low fat string cheese are also good choices.

-Allow yourself a treat. You can't enter into a lifestyle change knowing that you will never have another piece of pie or cake again.  It is natural to splurge now and then, just don't use it as an excuse to binge.

Exercise your way into a healthy you.........

Activity is also an important part of the picture.  The guidelines suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of activity per day to reduce disease risk, and 60 to 90 minutes per day to lose weight.  People who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.  A moderate amount of physical activity is roughly equivalent to physical activity that uses approximately 150 calories of energy per day or 1000 calories per week.  Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits. To avoid soreness and injury, individuals contemplating an increase in physical activity should start slowly and gradually build up to the desired amount to give the body time to adjust. Those with chronic health problems, should consult their physician prior to engaging in any new activities.

Walking for fitness: How to trim your waistline,
boost your spirits and improve your health.

Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health.  It's one of your body's most natural forms of exercise.  It's safe, simple and doesn't require a lot of practice, and the health benefits are many.  Here's what you need to know to get started.

Benefits of walking
-Walking for fitness can help  you achieve a number of important health benefits.  For example you can:

-Reduce your risk for heart attack. Walking keeps your heart healthy by lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL)  cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).  A regular walking program also reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, a factor that contributes to heart disease.

-Manage your blood pressure. If you already have a high blood pressure, walking can help reduce it.

-Reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're female, overweight and at a high risk of diabetes, walking can improve your body's ability to process sugar (glucose intolerance)

-Manage your diabetes.  If you already have type 2 diabetes, taking part in a regular waking program can improve your body's ability to process sugar, lower your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease and help you live longer.

-Manage  your weight.  Walking burns calories, which can help you manage your weight.  For example, middle-aged women who walk more then 10, 000 steps a day, have lower levels of body fat than do women who are less active.

-Manage stress and boost your spirits.  Going for a brisk walk is a great way to reduce stress.  Regular walking also can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

Prepare yourself before each walking session

-Take time to prepare yourself to prevent injuries, such as blisters on your feet or muscle pain.

-Wear walking shoes and comfortable, protective clothing. Before you set out, be sure to select comfortable footwear.  Also dress in loose-fitting comfortable clothing and in layers if you need to adjust to the temperature.  If you walk outside, choose clothes appropriate for the weather.  Avoid rubberized materials, as they don't allow perspiration to evaporate. Wear bright colors or reflective tape after dark so that motorists can see you.

-Warm Up. Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm your muscles. You can walk in place if you want.  Increase your pace until you feel warm.  Warming up your muscles reduces your risk of injury.

-Stretch. After warming up, stretch your muscles for about five minutes before walking. Include the calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch, lower back flexion stretch and chest stretch.

Tips for Pedestrians

-Only cross the street at a crosswalk

-Pay careful attention to road signs and cars around you.  Don't assume that cars will stop when they should .

-Follow traffic signals, and don't cross the street unless the sign says "walk".

-If walking at night, wear bright, reflective clothing, and be sure not to walk alone.


Getting started: Design a program that works for you

-Start slow and easy. If you're a seasoned walker, keep doing what you're doing. If you've been inactive and tire easily, it's best to start slow and easy.  At first, walk only as far as or as fast as you comfortably can.  If you can walk for only a few minutes, let that be your starting point.  For example, you might try short daily sessions of three to five minutes slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week.  Then, over several weeks' time,  you can gradually work your way up to 20 minutes of walking five days each week.

-Use proper technique to avoid injury and setback.  Walking is a great exercise because it's so simple to do.  But if your posture is poor or your movements exaggerated, you increase your risk of injury.

-Measure the intensity of your workout. As you walk, measure the intensity of your workout. Knowing the level allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it.  You have these options:

Talk test. If you are so out of breath that you can't carry on a conversation with the person you are walking with , you are probably working too hard and should slow down.

Borg Scale.  This method is a self-assessment of your perceived exertion.  You rate how hard you think you are working on a scale that ranges from six (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort).  Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.

Calculate your heart rate (pulse).  To find out if you're exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or your neck (carotid artery).  Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate.

-Keep track of your progress.  Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration.  Just think how good you will feel when you see how many miles you have walked each week, month or year.

-Cool down after each walking session.  To reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then, repeat your stretches.

-Stay Motivated: Set goals, have fun and stay in the game
Starting a walking program takes initiative.  Sticking with it takes commitment.  But when you think of the potential health benefits, it's well worth the effort.  Over time, you'll likely feel more invigorated.  To stay motivated:

-Set performance goals. People who can stick with a new behavior for six months usually make it a habit.

-Make it fun. If you don't like walking alone, invite your spouse, partner, friend or neighbor to join you.  You might also join a health club and use a treadmill.

-Vary your routine. Plan several different walking routes for variety.  But if you're walking alone, be sure to tell someone which route you're taking.  Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a few blocks from the office or store and walk the rest of the way.  If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk the remaining few blocks.


Page modified 7/15/14