Category: Wellness Tips

Many recommendations have come out in recent years discussing the benefits of avoiding long periods of sitting. For those of us who work at a desk, that can be tough! While working, it can be difficult to 1) remember to get up, 2) realize how much time has passed since you got up, or 3) get up at all, depending on what your job is!

To help with this conundrum – I tracked down two apps designed to promote movement while I was on my carb counting stent (people with diabetes are recommended to get up and move for 3 minutes out of every 30!). Check out my assessment of these apps:


Move – Daily Activity to Stay Healthy
(free from the Apple app store)

This one allows you to customize the frequency with which you want to be reminded to exercise, as well as the time frame in which you want reminders (like 8 am to 5 pm, for example). The app sends you an encouraging and/or Jillian Michaels-like reminder (“Don’t you dare think about skipping this one!” or “Come on, no excuses!”) to get up and move on the schedule you set. The app contains a list of exercise suggestions that you can tailor to your preferences. If you choose to do the exercise it suggests, you click a button that says “I did it!” and it will tack it onto an ongoing list of the exercises you have completed that day, complete with estimated calories burned. If you don’t want reminders on certain days, you can skip them for a day.

  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable exercises/schedule, exercise suggestions, accumulating list of exercises throughout the day is motivating.
  • Cons: Reminders could be a little less cheesy/condescending, several of the exercises would not be discreet in certain office settings (think jumping jacks and side-lying leg lifts – they have an “Office” exercise pack you can purchase that is supposed to remedy this).

Overall: I enjoyed this app – I liked that it gave suggestions for exercises because, even as an exercise physiologist, I do better with direction. Particularly when I’m in the middle of the work day – I don’t have to come up with exercises on my own!

Stand Up! The Work Break Timer (free from the Apple app store)

This app also allows you to customize it with a daily schedule and frequency of reminders. You can skip days as needed. On schedule, the app pops up a reminder that states, “Time to stand up. We want you to live longer!” If you go to the app at that time, you can select between options to skip that particular reminder or to acknowledge that you got up, which the app will track.

  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable schedule, tracks the number of times  and when you get up throughout the day.
  • Cons: Reminder is the same every time, no exercise suggestions.

Overall: It worked. I enjoyed the other app more, but they both will get the job done!

Exercise Wellness Tips

Have you ever been following a “diet” and then been faced with that darn thing called life?

Stress, donuts in the break room, or (like for me) date night can throw the best-laid plans out the window and then many people sit, riddled with guilt and feeling like a failure, wondering whether or not to throw their healthy goals out the window simply because they ate something their over-restrictive plan “didn’t allow.” That’s why I am all about focusing on including lots of nutritious choices, being aware of harmful foods and ingredients, and especially having a plan that includes the foods that make your life worth living!

Check out this great article written by a fellow RD about building a healthy relationship with food! I’m in agreement that the mental game of dieting and restriction can be just as destructive as poor eating habits!

“Yes, I’m a registered dietitian and I care deeply about nutritious, wholesome foods and eating. But I also wholeheartedly believe that there’s a time and a place for a treat.”
– RD Paige Smathers, quoted from KSL.com

 



 

Wellness Tips

On a note unrelated to any particular diet, I wanted to take a moment to spotlight one heck of a health and fitness inspiration.

 

Photo from nymag.com
Photo from nymag.com

 

I discovered this gal on a recent vacation when we had a TV in our hotel room (the kids were super psyched!) and watched a show called American Ninja Warrior. If you haven’t heard of it and you are in the right age range, you will best liken it to something along the lines of American Gladiators. If neither of those names means anything to you, American Ninja Warrior is a strength and agility competition in which contestants train to tackle a specific (very difficult) obstacle course. They are timed, and they must achieve certain times and complete certain obstacles in order to move on to the next round.

 

In the episode we watched, there was a very tricky obstacle christened “The Wedge” in which contestants hung from a horizontal bar with rubber tennis-ball-like objects on either end. This bar was wedged into what looked like two sheets of angled glass. The contestants had to use their momentum and body control to “jump” the bar across the tunnel between the two glass sheets, ensuring they keep the bar horizontal and don’t lose their grip. If my description makes absolutely no sense, fear not, for the video below will clear things up. “The Wedge” took no prisoners. Time after time, they would get to that darn wedge and their grip would slip or the bar would land slightly sideways and down they would plunge into the waiting pool below. It was beginning to look downright impossible.

 



 

Enter our heroine – Jessie Graff. Jessie is a stunt woman from Pennsylvania. She enters stage left with a delightful smile and a Wonder Woman costume. Her interviews gave a taste of her zest for life and her positive attitude. She is beautiful and fit on the outside, sure, but her mind and heart also exude beauty. Jessie, the only female in the show I watched, conquered the dreaded Wedge like it was a set of monkey bars on a playground.

 

 

So why am I all about Jessie Graff now? It’s not just because she’s a woman or because she “beat the boys” (though I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a defiant third-grade girl inside me who found a little bit of glee in that). It’s because she surpassed everyone’s expectations – including her own. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we combine discipline with a positive attitude. I so admired these qualities in her that I tracked her down on Facebook. Her page is littered with pictures of little girls in Wonder Woman suits and comments from people saying that she is inspiring others out of eating disorders by showing what the human body is capable of when properly fueled.

 

This lady is stupendous and has most definitely been added to my mental Wall of Inspiring People.

 

You and I also can (and should) make a practice of surpassing everyone’s expectations – including our own. Make a fitness goal to see what your body can do – even if it seems a little out of reach. Add some positive attitude and discipline and you can inspire the socks off of yourself and others too!

 



Archives Wellness Tips

Alright, here goes a new post (some might call it a rant) about my feelings on meal plans. I gotta tell ya, I love to hate ’em. Making them, selecting them, and most of all, following them. They are stinky, like fish. That will make more sense in a few paragraphs. Promise.

Why are they stinky, you ask? Well I would be more than happy to tell you.

The food we eat is connected to everything in our lives. Everything. Your budget, your spouse (or lack of spouse), your kids (and their preferences, allergies, and appetites), your schedule, your culture, and your mood all play in to the food you choose to eat. That being said, someone would have to thoroughly understand all of those things about you in order to select foods that are good options for a meal plan for you. Now, how many meal plan makers know you that well?

Take the meal plan I’m currently on, for example. The meal plan ingredients increased my grocery budget by 75%! Typically I use dinner leftovers for lunches, but this meal plan uses NO leftovers for ANYTHING. You know what that gets you (besides an expensive grocery trip)? A fridge full of leftovers waiting to go bad. It also leaves you cooking two meals every night – dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. Not sustainable, functional, or enjoyable.

 



 

My final gripe about following meal plans made by others? Sometimes I just don’t like the food. Like, for example, coleslaw. I’m not a huge fan, but it’s on the meal plan, because the person who made it didn’t know me and my lack of appreciation for coleslaw. So here I am, either eating coleslaw or feeling as though I somehow “failed” my meal plan because I didn’t like it.

And you know what else (yes, I lied about the final gripe part)? As a dietitian, my goal is to empower my patients to live a healthy life they love. Now even if I gave them the perfect meal plan that worked great for their lifestyle, are they empowered? What will they do when the week-long meal plan is over? Will they just eat the same food week after week forever?

Of course not.

Remember the old saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and feed him for the rest of his life”? Well, a meal plan is a fish.

 



 

I can give someone a meal plan fish and they can meet their nutritional goals for a week (if they can manage to stick with a meal plan someone else made), or I can teach someone how to plan for themselves and meet their health and quality of life goals. Truly, they are the only ones who know themselves well enough to do it. It’s not easy and it’s awkward at first, but once they get the hang of it they are empowered. They can eat for life – on a budget and with foods they love! And that is why I love what I do!

And why I hate stinky meal plan fish. End rant.

 



Archives Wellness Tips

Today marks my last official day following the MyPlate diet. Starting in one week, I will begin on the next. I thought I’d sum things up a bit with a bunch of things I have learned, and that have already started to change the way I view food and work with my patients:

  1. My body regulates its calorie intake pretty well. I quickly realized that even if I wasn’t tracking my food throughout the day, I would end up eating 1800-2000 calories without feeling deprived or overfull. Bodies are cool like that.
  2. 1 cup is not as much as I thought. 0208140842aExhibit A: 1 cup of orange juice in a standard glass. Pouring appropriate servings took some practice.
  3. 2 tablespoons is a lot more than I thought. As the standard serving size for many condiments, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, mayonnaise, or any kind of salad dressing was waaaaaaaay more than I ever thought. I had always assumed I was eating more than that by default, but when I measured out 2 tablespoons of almond butter to eat with my apple I couldn’t even finish it!
  4. “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” mealsThis nifty little saying is something I had heard over time to flip the traditional “American” way of eating on its head. It makes sense because when you eat breakfast, you’re fueling your body for the whole day, so you need to eat more and eat well. At night, you’re only fueling your body for another hour or two. It worked beautifully for me when I was trying to get all of my food groups in. In the morning I was motivated to eat well and get all of my groups in and by the evening I was tired after work and more likely to go for something easy. It worked with my plan, rather than a common diet pattern of eating basically nothing for breakfast and lunch, then bingeing at dinner when you’re tired and starving. I heard a dietitian at a conference once refer to that as the “weight gain diet.”
  5. Meal plans can be helpful. They are also really annoying. It was a love-hate relationship for me. It was nice to know I had everything already bought and decided for what I was going to eat. However, making the grocery list, having no flexibility, and feeling like I “cheated” when I didn’t eat exactly what was on it were all big cons for me. Check out this article for more thoughts on meal plans.
  6. Vegetables are really low in calories. Like, REALLY low. I knew this already in my brain, but putting 1 cup of spinach, 1/4 cup of mushrooms, half a tomato, and half a cucumber into your tracker and getting a grand total of 37 calories kind of drives that one home.
  7. Tracking everything you eat is exhausting. It was kind of fun in its way…for about a week. After that it became very tiresome, especially if I got behind and had to catch up. From now on, I think I’ll recommend that clients track for about two weeks, and then maybe one day each week just to keep in check. After a week or two you get a pretty good idea of how to do it in your head, anyway.
  8. Tracking websites and apps help with this a lot. My fitness pal screenshotsPersonally I like My Fitness Pal, but there are negatives to it also. One thing I really love is that you can enter in homemade recipes, calculate the nutrition facts, and save them to go back and use later.
  9. Eating three servings of dairy a day is really repetitive. milkYogurt, milk, cheese, yogurt, milk, cheese, yogurt, milk, cheese.
  10. Vegetables are not really as difficult to get in as I expected. They can go in most anything. My friend Abbie taught me this the weekend I stayed with her. Abbie puts veggies in everything – scrambles for breakfast, soups for lunch, and side dishes for dinner. Just chop, chop, chop and sautee, bake, boil, or steam. They add tons of flavor variety too.
  11. It is extremely difficult to eat less than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. Except for when I was traveling, I cooked most everything at home from scratch. I ate a ton of fresh produce. I rinsed the canned beans. I stayed away from the packaged, the processed, the sodium-laden. It was a terrible struggle. I’ll have a lot more empathy for my heart failure patients from here on out.
  12. It is even more difficult to eat more than 35 grams of fiber per day. TONS of veggies, beans, and whole grains was not enough to get me there most of the time. I was about to start gnawing on cardboard in the evenings just to reach my daily goal.
  13. Eating MyPlate at restaurants is really not very tough (with the exception of limiting sodium). Portland mealMany places have fruit side dish options and milk as a beverage choice. The struggle here? Whole grains.
  14. Telling people you’re on a diet can be awkward. Most people were really supportive of me and the reasons I’m doing it, but that wasn’t always the case.
  15. Some kinds of exercise can make really big dents in your calorie intake. 0124141459Hiking, snowboarding, dancing, biking up hills, and plyometrics left my net calories for the day sometimes as low as 1400! I was shocked at how quickly these fun activities added up to big time calorie gaps.
  16. Other kinds of exercise make reaaaaaally teeny dents in your calorie intake. 0124141459Cycling through town or strolling with the fiance was not going to fit the bill if I was trying to even out an indulgent day.
  17. On a related note, it’s okay to have indulgent days. One weekend day out with Abbie I ate chicken wings at happy hour. You may have read about my Superbowl feast. In the end, it all averaged out. Some days were a little low, some days were a little high. I never really felt deprived at all during the entire three weeks.
  18. I don’t need to eat as much ice cream as I usually dish out. I still maintain that the half-cup serving size on the label is insulting and offensive, but two small scoops was enough for me. I rarely eat ice cream because I’m actually hungry…I just want to taste it.
  19. Starting small and working up with salt can go a long way. Make your meal and taste it. Add a little bit of salt only if you feel like you need to. I found that most of the time, I didn’t need to add any salt and when I did it ended up being only a pinch in the entire recipe.
  20. I’m really enjoying being creative with food. God gave us the amazing gift of thousands of different flavors in this world…and there are so many combinations to explore! I’m so excited about trying new foods, new recipes, and new ideas. Send me your favorites! I’d love to try them!
  21. I think it’s going to be hard for me to not pay attention to what I’m eating once the diet is over. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about being obsessed with their food once they have been on diets, and I can totally relate now. It’s a different animal to be completely aware of everything that goes down the gullet – keeping a mental tally of food groups, calories, and nutrients. Honestly, I’m really curious to see how it ends up going on this week off from dieting.

Thanks for your support and following along with me!

MyPlate Guidelines Wellness Tips