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Health and Fitness Blog 101

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Don’t Just Diet, Change Your Life

Posted by larends on November 15, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

101_0071I was watching the Today Show the other day on NBC and they were talking about some of the most popular diet programs like Weight Watchers and the Atkins diets.  They said that these diets have similar results in weight loss, but they may not be successful long term.  Below is a link to the article and video.


The reason they are not successful long term is that people that try these diets will follow it for awhile, but then when they quit following the plan they go back to eating unhealthy and gain the weight back.  The key is not to think of it as a diet, but as a new way of life.

I know it’s hard to imagine a complete change in the way you eat, especially if you eat a lot of unhealthy foods.  I used to drink so much pop (aka soda) that I couldn’t imagine giving it up.  Years ago I even drank it for breakfast.  I didn’t used to like milk, but now I love it.  I also loved candy bars.  I ate king size candy bars on a regular basis.  I rarely ate fruits and vegetables.  I ate a lot of fried foods and fast food was a weekly stop.  Fortunately, in my younger years I didn’t gain weight easily, but the unhealthy eating eventually caught up with me.  When someone asked me if I was pregnant (which I wasn’t) when I was wearing a big sweater, I realized that I needed to make a change.

I started doing research to find out how to lose weight and get healthy.  I started off by cutting back on pop and drinking more water and milk.  Eventually, I eliminated pop altogether.  Now I don’t even like the taste of it.  I now crave water and milk and drink them every day.  I quit eating king size candy bars and switched to snack size, then I gradually cut back on those.  I started eating more fruits and vegetables.  I stopped making fried foods and avoided fast food restaurants.  I also started exercising on a regular basis.  I made these changes over a period of years.  It didn’t happen overnight.  I lost the weight I had gained and now I’m close to my ideal weight.  I feel so much better now and I feel healthier than I’ve ever been.

I’ve watched people I care about struggle with weight loss and then give up.  I watched them sabotage themselves by going back to old eating habits.  I’ve also heard others that disregard their health until they or someone close to them have a major health scare.  Then they realize how important it is to take care of themselves.  I want to help people realize how important exercise and eating healthy is before it’s too late.  This is my passion and I feel called to help these people find their way to a healthy life.  I know it takes time, commitment and patience, but believe me, it’s totally worth it.

Don’t Let Temptations Make You Give Up

Posted by larends on November 9, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

glass-of-ice-waterWell, I picked a difficult time to try a healthy eating challenge.  I chose right before Halloween and before the turkey dinner fundraiser at our church.  I always buy candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters just in case we get any, which we didn’t.  Plus, my son likes to go trick-or-treating, so we have plenty of candy in the house.  I’m always assigned to make 4 pies and squash for the turkey dinner.  I also work at the dinner as a waitress, so I’m tempted by the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie.  Of course, I want to support the church and I love the food they make, so I brought home takeout meals.  We also had a potluck at work on Halloween, so that’s another temptation.

So, I started off the challenge great.  I was drinking a lot of water.  I stopped drinking milk, which wasn’t as hard as I thought.  I ate eggs and fruit for breakfast.  On the days I didn’t have time to make eggs, I had a boiled egg prepared.  I had salad, fruit and veggies for lunch with water to drink.  I cut out cereal and crackers.  I cut back on bread and rolls.  I gave in a little here and ate a roll, a tortilla and a bun from sloppy joes at the potluck.  I didn’t beat myself up over giving in to a few things.  I just tried to get back on track.  I never realized how many things have gluten.  I exercised 3 days out of the week.  So, the bottom line is that I didn’t stick to all the steps of the challenge in the first week, but I lost 3 pounds.  Now, keep in mind, the 3 pounds was from the weight I put on when I was not exercising or eating healthy, but I was excited to lose it.  I did enough of the right stuff and really watched what I ate, so it made a big difference.

This just shows that any changes you make can make a difference.  The extra water I was drinking helped keep me hydrated and I felt full, so I didn’t eat as much.  By replacing the milk with water, I was drinking fewer calories.  By cutting back on rolls, cereal, crackers and other foods with gluten, I ended up eating more fruit and vegetables to fill me up.

A lot of people get frustrated when they try a new diet.  They give up too quickly.  This is the reason many people say that diets don’t work.  They don’t stick with it long enough and they go back to eating whatever they want.  Most diets have a lot of restrictions and it’s hard to stick with it.  A diet or healthy eating challenge doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  If you give in to some temptations, don’t just give up.  The important thing is to be more conscious of what you are eating and make more healthy choices.  I think I eat fairly healthy, but I have my weak moments and I sometimes eat foods that I know I shouldn’t.  As long as I don’t do it all the time and I get right back on track, I can usually maintain my weight.  Losing weight takes a commitment to eating healthy and you have to be fairly consistent with those choices, but if you stick with it and don’t give up when you make a bad choice, you’ll see results.  Just be patient and remember if you lose weight gradually, you are more likely to keep it off.  Good luck and keep working at it.

Watch Your Weight During the Holidays

Posted by larends on October 30, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

It’s that time of year again.  The holidays are coming up and that means lots of food.  Thanksgiving is one day we tend to overeat.  Then there are holiday parties in December leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  This is the season that people love to make goodies like cookies, desserts and candy.  Desserts and baked goods are everywhere.  Many people gain weight during this season.  It’s hard to avoid.

It’s also a busy time of year, so you are more likely to eat unhealthy meals like fast food, frozen dinners, and prepackaged meals.  Eating healthy takes planning and commitment.

The first thing you should do is plan what you are going to eat for each meal.  The more you plan ahead, the more likely you will eat healthy meals.  Prepare fresh fruits and vegetables ahead of time, so you have them on hand to pack in your lunch, eat with meals or as a snack.

Make a list of healthy meals including fruits and vegetables and plan which days you will eat them.  You can even make meals ahead of time, so they are quick and easy to make.  You’ll be less likely to fall back on those unhealthy options.

I recently read about a six week weight loss challenge by personal fitness trainer, Dustin Maher that sparked my interest.  Most of the things in the challenge look fairly easy, but there were a few things that would be a challenge for me.  I haven’t been eating very well lately and I think if I try this challenge it will get me back on track.  Below are the steps of the challenge:

  1. Drink up to a gallon of water every day, to flush out toxins.
  2. Drink as few calories as possible.
  3. Eliminate dairy for 10 days.
  4. Eliminate gluten for up to 21 days.
  5. Don’t eat after 7 pm.
  6. Eat low glycemic fruits.
  7. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
  8. Practice at least 10 minutes of prayer, meditation, or deep breathing daily.
  9. Exercise 6 days per week for at least 30 minutes.
  10.  Make 2 of your workouts high intensity
  11.  Do not eat any food that contains the word “enriched” on the label.
  12.  Do not consume anything made with fake sugars.

He recommends eliminating the dairy and gluten because many people have sensitivity to those.  Those 2 will be the most difficult for me.  I drink milk every morning for breakfast.  I crave it like some people need coffee in the morning.  I never realized how many things contain gluten.  Well, this is a good time of year to try to eat healthier.  Just in time for the holidays.  You can view Dustin Maher’s website at http://dustinmaherfitness.com/.


Prevent and Treat Viruses Naturally

Posted by larends on October 22, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

Assorted fruitIt’s cold and flu season and it seemed to show up quickly.  It caught be off guard.  I came down with a cold without even knowing where I caught it from.  I usually bump up my prevention routine when cold season hits.

There are several things you can do to help prevent getting a cold or the flu.

The first thing you can do is wash your hands frequently.  The important thing to remember is the 20 second rule.  Not to be confused with the 5 second rule.  When washing your hands, you should wash them for at least 20 seconds with soap to kill the germs.  During cold and flu season I become a little obsessed with washing my hands.  I wash them after I touch door handles, light switches, railings, etc., anyplace that someone else might have touched.  I also make sure I wash my hands before I eat, before I touch my face, before I make food, every time I cough or sneeze, and after using the restroom or blowing my nose.

If you don’t have access to soap and water, you should always have hand sanitizer available.  I keep some in my purse and in my desk at work.  It’s also a good idea to keep some in your car.  Apply frequently and thoroughly to your hands.

The second thing I do to help prevent getting sick is to take vitamin C, echinacea, and garlic.  Vitamin C is a vitamin that helps fight infection and is commonly used to prevent and treat colds.  Echinacea is an herb that is known to fight infections.  It used to be used frequently before antibiotics were developed.  Garlic is an herb that has also been used to treat colds.  During cold and flu season I try to take these every morning and every night.  They help prevent me from getting sick or help reduce the length and severity of the cold.  Zinc is another mineral that is frequently used to help prevent colds.

Third, you should exercise regularly to keep your immune system strong.

Fourth, get plenty of sleep.  When you start to feel tired your immune system is at risk and you are more likely to get sick.  As soon as you start to feel tired or when you notice the first signs of getting a cold, get more sleep.

Another way to help prevent a cold or flu is to kill germs on surfaces with Lysol or antibiotic wipes.  Kill germs on doorknobs, light switches, sinks, faucets, handles, computer keyboards, desks, counters, steering wheels and any other surface.

Finally, eat healthy foods to help keep your immune system strong. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that are good for fighting colds.  Tea and chicken soup have also been known to help alleviate cold symptoms and help you feel better.

These are some common tips to help prevent and shorten cold viruses.  Most of these tips have definitely helped me fight off colds.  Here’s to your health.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Posted by larends on October 13, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

cavemanThe Paleo Diet, also known as the “caveman diet”, is the latest popular diet.  The reason they refer to it as the “caveman diet”, is that the diet consists of foods that people ate back in the times of the caveman.  These foods include fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood and nuts.  The recommended foods are all natural.

This diet is a fairly safe and natural diet.  You cut out all processed foods which means you avoid anything that comes in a box, jar, or bag.  However, the Paleo diet prohibits dairy, grains, added salt, potatoes and alcohol.

K. Aleisha Fetters wrote an article about the Paleo Diet on www.ABCnews.go.com that stated, “Whole grains and dairy can help lower the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, reduce blood pressure and promote healthy weight.  Cutting dairy can cause problems because we need calcium and vitamin D.”

So this diet has some good qualities, but I think it’s still important to include dairy, whole grains and fiber in your diet.  Modern healthcare has discovered that many people, especially women, are deficient in calcium and vitamin D.  We have to also consider the fact that life expectancy back in caveman times was much lower than it is today.  A big reason for this is that medical technology has improved and prevents many diseases today, but research has also been done to improve what people eat and how much they eat.  In addition, the types of meat, fruit and vegetables that were available to our ancestors have also changed dramatically over the years.  Plus, our lives today have drastically changed since the times of the caveman.  In prehistoric times people had to spend their day hunting and gathering their food, which meant they were physically active.  Today many jobs involve sitting for long periods throughout the day.  This means we have to adjust what we eat based on how much physical activity we get each day.

To sum up, I recommend that you stick with what modern health professionals consider essential to a healthy diet.  Below is a list of foods that are considered healthy and should make up your main meals:

  • Protein (fish, poultry, beans, nuts, eggs)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits (fresh are best and don’t add sugar)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta)
  • Low-fat cheese/dairy (limit to 1 to 2 servings per day)
  • Water or tea (with little or no sugar)

Don’t get hung up on these special diets with fancy names that somebody thought up as the new big thing.  Stick to the basics that have worked for years.  According to Harvard Medical School your dinner plate should consist of ¼ healthy protein, ¼ whole grains, and the other half of the plate should be 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 fruits.  Plus, you should limit your dairy intake to 1 to 2 servings per day.  I always try to remember that a serving of protein or meat is the size of a deck of cards.

healthy eating plate

The Truth About GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

Posted by larends on October 6, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

CornIf you search the internet to find information about GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms, you will find a ton of information that’s says GMOs are bad.  This just proves that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not dangerous to eat.
Blue Care Network recently published an article that stated, “The World Health Organization’s National Academy of Sciences says there haven’t been studies showing GMOs are harmful to those who eat them.”  The article also said, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration agrees that foods containing GMOs aren’t dangerous to eat.”  The article also noted that most processed food sold in the U.S. over the past 10 years has contained GMO ingredients.

The American Medical Association declared, “GMOs have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”

These organizations were created to research and determine what is safe and healthy.  If there was any evidence that GMOs were unsafe, these organizations would notify the public.  You can read more about genetically modified organisms on their websites:

How are Genetically Modified Organisms made?
GMOs are made by making a copy of a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism and using it in another plant. It’s simply making a change to the DNA of an organism.  The changes are made using science and nature, but no chemicals or artificial ingredients are added.

Why are GMOs made?
Scientists created genetically modified organisms to make plants that are resistant to insects, resistant to disease, increase herbicide tolerance, so fewer pesticides need to be used, to increase yields, and to reduce costs.

Do the same people that are against GMOs feel that vaccines are dangerous?  Vaccines are created to prevent life-threatening diseases.  They are made using disease-causing virus or bacteria, which are administered into a person’s body to help the immune system develop antibodies or defenders against the disease.  They use science to prevent disease in people just like they use science to prevent disease in plants or GMOs.

What about all the medications on the market?  Are those same people against medications that cure illnesses or diseases?  Those medications are also created by scientists, but unlike GMOs they may not be all natural.  That doesn’t mean they are unsafe.

To make your own informed decision on the topic of genetically modified organisms, be sure to research trusted organizations such as those listed above.

Get Healthy Now and Enjoy Your Life

Posted by larends on September 28, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

view from a hike.

view from a hike.

secluded beach after a hike.

secluded beach after a hike through the dunes.

Did you know that forty percent of Americans will contract diabetes in their lifetime?  Diabetes can be prevented by exercising and eating healthy.  Almost Twenty nine percent of the deaths in the U.S. are caused by heart disease.  That’s almost 1/3 of deaths.  Those deaths could be prevented by exercising and eating healthy.  These 2 statistics should be big motivators to getting in shape, but surprisingly it’s not enough to motivate many people.

It’s not easy to start exercising when you’ve never exercised before or it’s been a long time.  I get it.  I went 2 weeks without exercising and it was hard to get back into it.  It’s so easy to stop exercising, but after 2 weeks without it, I could tell a difference in how I felt.  I would be out of breath after walking up the stairs.  It’s hard and time consuming to exercise, but it will make your life easier in the long run.  It’s better to work hard now when you are in control than to let your health go and suffer the consequences later.

Sometimes people are intimidated by the word exercise.  You can ease into it by doing something fun that doesn’t feel like exercise.  I played tennis with my son, the other day.  We had so much fun it didn’t even feel like exercise, but I was tired out later that day, so I knew it was beneficial.  The next day we went to play again and I had more energy than the time before.  Each time we play it gets easier.

When we went to Frankfort, Michigan this summer for vacation we enjoyed hiking in the woods, riding bikes and walking on the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes (one of the most beautiful places in America).  It brought back a lot of memories from when I was a kid.  I used to love walking in the woods out behind our house.  I remember riding bikes into town and all around the neighborhood.  I also loved going to the beach.  We had so much fun in Frankfort and the activities were great exercise.  You can start out doing things that are fun, that don’t feel like exercise.  Just get moving and gradually do more and exercise and activities will start getting easier.

I talked to a lady in the grocery store that was 86 and her husband was 87.  We somehow started talking about eating healthy and she said that if men don’t take care of themselves, the wife usually has to take care of them when they are older.

She committed to eating healthy years before and that’s how she still looked good at 86.  The average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7 years old, so this woman and her husband both exceeded this by eating healthy.

Of course there are cases where someone lives longer even though they didn’t eat healthy and exercise, but what is their quality of life like?  Can they still get around on their own without pain?  Try to visualize what your life will be like when you are 60 or 70.  Will you be active or will you be stuck at home because you have too much pain in your knees or back.  Will your heart be strong or will you be limited to short activities because you have shortness of breath, fatigue or dizziness from a weakened heart?  You have the choice now to determine how you will feel when you are older.  I hope you choose health.


Be Kind. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Posted by larends on September 18, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

personOnBeachBenchThis well known quote is over 100 years old, but still resonates today.  Not everyone posts everything that happens in their life on Facebook.  A lot of people like to keep their life private.  Many people that have bad things happening in their life don’t want anyone to know.  They keep it inside and smile on the outside, so no one will know what they are going through.

Life can be difficult and everyone has things they have to deal with at some point.  That person you see every day could be worried about health issues, suffering from depression, dealing with abuse, struggling financially, coping with family issues, going through a divorce, mourning a loved one that is ill or passed away, or enduring pain.  These are major life issues, but people you know could also be dealing with other stressful things that can make it seem like their world is falling apart.

Most people that are dealing with life’s problems continue to go to work, go to school or carry on with life as usual.  They try to hide their problems because they don’t want anyone to know what they are going through.  Many people put a smile on their face and go about their daily business even though they are falling apart inside.

We often don’t realize when others are going through difficult times.  If you’ve heard the news lately, you may have heard about Ray Rice, the professional football player who hit his fiancé and knocked her unconscious.  No one knew about it until much later when someone found it on a video surveillance camera.  His fiancé didn’t want anyone to know about it.  I once worked with someone that was abused by her husband.  No one knew there was a problem and she came to work every day and seemed happy until one day she broke down and decided it was time to leave him.

Think about a time that you were going through a difficult period.  When you felt like your emotions were in turmoil and it was difficult to do any normal activities without falling apart.  When we are feeling like this, we are less tolerant and less patient with other people.  The slightest provocation can push us over the edge.    Life is hard enough without people adding to our pain. We need to remember to be kind and considerate of others.  You never know what struggles they are going through.

Why Protein is Important

Posted by larends on September 7, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

chicken+saladProtein is an important nutrient that helps control weight, curbs hunger, helps you feel full longer, and boosts your metabolism.  Protein is also important to build and repair muscle, build strong bones, build tissue, maintain energy level, support the immune system and stabilize blood sugar.  Experts recommend that we get 10% -35% of our calories from protein.

Getting enough protein is a key factor when trying to build stronger muscles.  In order to build muscle you must do exercises such as weight lifting, squats, lunges, and changing your exercises to put fatigue on your muscles.  These exercises break down or damage our muscle fibers, which is necessary to building stronger muscles.  This is why we feel sore or feel a burn when we work our muscles.  After we work out, the process of rebuilding the muscle fibers begins and this causes our muscles to grow and become stronger.  In order to rebuild and repair itself, the muscle requires protein, vitamin D, water and plenty of rest.  It’s important to get these nutrients and rest soon after your workout to start the process of rebuilding.  It will also help alleviate the soreness faster.

Some of the best foods that provide protein include:

  • Meat (red meat, poultry)
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Beans
  • Low fat dairy

Here are a couple of my favorite recipes that provide great protein and are delicious:

Almond Encrusted Salmon
Soak the salmon filet in a pan of milk for an hour or two.  Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Spray salmon lightly with butter or margarine.  Shake garlic powder lightly over salmon.  Crush almonds and a few crackers together and sprinkle over salmon.  You can use any kind of nuts in place of the almonds.  I had macadamia nut encrusted salmon in Hawaii and that’s where I came up with the recipe.  Broil in oven for about 15-20 minutes.  This tastes really good.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches
Cook chicken breast and cut into small pieces.  Add Marzetti Poppy Seed dressing (enough to coat chicken).  Add some cut up onion, cut up celery, salt, pepper, sliced almonds, and cut up red seedless grapes (you can do as much or as little of these ingredients as you like).  You don’t need much salt or pepper.  I love this chicken salad.

These are great recipes that provide the protein that is vital to your health.  Enjoy and healthy eating.

Break Free From a Life With Limits

Posted by larends on August 17, 2014
Posted in Health and Fitness 

100_0422Do you ever feel like you can’t do things you would like to do, because of your health?  There are so many fun, exciting things to do when you are in good shape.  When we went to the Grand Canyon, my husband, son and I hiked down into the Grand Canyon.  I hiked down to the 3 mile point, because they recommend that you don’t hike all the way to the bottom and back up in one day.  My husband and son wanted to keep going, so they hiked to the bottom and back up.  I may have been able to make it all the way, but I wasn’t sure if I was in good enough shape.  The top of the Grand Canyon is at a higher elevation, so it’s hard to breathe when you hike back up.  It’s like climbing a mountain.  I had to stop several times on the way up to rest.  I missed out on going to the bottom with my family.  If we go back to Grand Canyon, I will train beforehand, so my lung capacity can handle it.

146When my husband and I went to Hawaii we hiked 2 miles to a beautiful waterfall.  There was no way to get to this waterfall other than hiking.  We also went through a bamboo forest on the hike, which was really cool to see.  If I hadn’t been in good shape we wouldn’t have been able to see this waterfall and bamboo forest.



137If you exercise on a regular basis, you will be able to enjoy a lot more and won’t miss out on things because you are out of shape.  I’ve never enjoyed running, but it can definitely improve your lung capacity so you won’t be out of breath so quickly.  I recently read an article about how to train for a 5K.  The key is to start off slowly by walking for 3 minutes and running for 30-60 seconds. Then you keep alternating between walking and running in these intervals.  You do this for a few weeks and gradually start running a little longer each time.  This is a great way to ease into it and may even make it more enjoyable.  Maybe that is why I never liked running.  I didn’t ease into it.  I’m going to give it a try and hopefully improve my lung capacity in the process.

When I was walking the other day I had so much energy that I actually felt like running.  It made me think of a self-propelled vacuum or lawn mower.  If you’ve ever used one of these, you know that there is a big difference between a regular vacuum or lawn mower and a self-propelled one.  The self-propelled machine is way easier to push.  That’s how you feel when you’ve been working out on a regular basis.  Exercise gets way easier and you can do it without much effort.

Getting started is the biggest hurdle to start exercising and eating healthy.  Once you start, you just need to make it a regular thing and soon you’ll feel better and be able to do all the things you love.  If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your kids and grandkids.  The healthier you are, the more things you can do with them and the longer you’ll be around for them.