Tag Archives: healthy

WEEK 11: 90-Day Healthy Weight Challenge

PSCteam2JenniferIconBy Jennifer Bement
Social Media Manager

Week 11 has put the team almost over another big hurdle – they are only 1.5 pounds away from 150 lost! They all seem to be working very hard in these final weeks of the challenge to meet their goals and it is showing on the scale, with one person losing three pounds just this week.

While watching the numbers creep down on the scale is a great feeling, something else is happening around here that is even better. There has been an increase in camaraderie among the team. Everyone is so supportive and are all going out of their way to share their excitement. And it’s not just those who are participating, everyone is sharing in their successes. Walking down the hall you’ll hear “I can’t believe how great so & so looks” or “So & so is really making progress, you can really tell!”

Support of friends and family is one of the key components in a successful weight loss program and we are lucky to have the support of our work family during this challenge.

Let’s Get Healthy 2014: Part 1 – Exercise Benefits

Exercise 2014 Part 1.By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

If you think exercise is all about toned abs and weight loss, think again.  Daily workouts may be the answer to a longer, healthier life.  In fact, exercise may be the least expensive prescription for overall physical and mental health.  The union of the physical and psychological benefits of exercise greatly enhance life quality.  Studies show that moderately active people are happier, have more stable relationships, and better sex lives.  

Physical benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Helps to protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  • Helps to prevent development of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer
  • Improves sleep
  • Gives you glowing skin
  • Supports brain and eye health
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Increases energy
  • Improves  cardiovascular, respiratory, muscle, and joint fitness
  • Strengthens bones and helps prevent bone loss due to osteoporosis
  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Bolsters the immune system
  • Strengthens the body for enhanced performance for other activities
  • Improves flexibility and aids injury prevention
  • Increases your chances for a longer lifespan

Psychological benefits include:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Elevates mood by flooding the brain with mood-enhancing endorphins
  • Helps alleviate depression by boosting GABA levels
  • Builds self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Enhances body image
  • Strengthens mental alertness and cognitive skills
  • Improves the general sense of wellbeing

The three factors that determine the level of an individual’s beneficial exercise gains are frequency, intensity and length.  If fitness is your goal, exercise a minimum of 3 days a week, at a moderate level of intensity for at least 30 minutes.  Any less will generally not support physical fitness in healthy adults.  However, if improved health is your goal, lower intensity, increased frequency and shorter time periods will suffice.  

Whatever type of exercise you choose, your regimen should include cardiorespiratory, strength training, and flexibility exercises.  Emphasis should be placed on factors that lead to lasting lifestyle habits and the proper amount of activity to get the greatest benefit at the lowest risk of injury.  If you are new to exercise, be sure to start out slowly and incrementally increase your time and intensity as you gain strength. 

Is Engineering Healthier Junk Food The Answer To Obesity?

healthyjunkfoodBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

“Healthy junk food” sounds like an oxymoron.  Can such foods really exist?  And if healthy junk food and highly processed food is not enough to convince you to start paying attention to your diet in relation to your health, will “engineered food” created by the same corporate giants who helped to create the obesity epidemic persuade you?  The recent article published in the July issue of the Atlantic, “The Cure For Obesity – How Science Is Engineering Healthy Junk Food” by David Freedman, is garnering a lot of attention.  Freedman attempts to make the claim that a healthy, nutritious diet comprised of local, unprocessed, whole fresh foods is not the answer to the national obesity epidemic but simply the dream of upper class, wealthy food writers and celebrity chefs.  He claims the answer to America’s obesity crisis may be the evolving science of processed food and the ongoing engineering of junk food that Americans can’t seem to resist. 

There is hard science behind food addiction.  Scientists working for industrialized food giants have already manipulated our food pleasure centers by creating the exact combinations of sugar, salt and unhealthy fat to reach what the industry calls our “bliss point,” or the perfect amounts of these ingredients to keep you craving, buying and consuming more.  Our taste buds are wired for sweetness and food scientists have figured out the Goldilocks formula, not too little, not too much.  Salt is maximized for “flavor burst” which hits the tongue immediately and then races to the pleasure centers of the brain.  The  quest for the perfect amount of fat equates to the “mouthfeel” or the pleasurable sensation of warm, gooey melted cheese.   Another popular phenomenon known as “vanishing caloric density,” is exemplified by products that, as they melt in your mouth, are meant to fool your brain into thinking the calories have vanished as well, essentially tricking us into eating more. 

The fact is food giants don’t care about nutrition.  They care about creating optimized foods by scientifically designing their products, designing product presentation and marketing to attract consumers, increasing their shelf space to gain a larger market share, and increasing their profit margins thereby lining their pockets with your money at the expense of your health.  There is no doubt that corporations have the right to make a profit.  What they don’t have is the right to make a profit by manipulating the American public with products that increase our health risks by contributing to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other serious health conditions. 

In his article, Freedman asserts that whole foods can contain as much sugar, fat and salt as fast foods if prepared according to certain recipes that may include sea salt, olive oil or sugar and  therefore can be just as calorie laden and unhealthy as fast food.  While he does admit that people (himself included) whose diets include whole, unadulterated foods tend to be wealthier, healthier in general, exercise more, don’t smoke, have better access to health care and are more likely maintain their weight, he argues that the wholesome food movement is not the answer to the obesity crisis.  He states that the average obese American is typically poor, is surrounded by people with similar eating habits, and tends to live where fresh produce is hard to find, too expensive, or of poor quality.  He expresses doubts that fresh, unprocessed, inexpensive healthier foods could be made readily available to the masses quickly enough to make a difference in the obesity numbers and that people are still going to make the same unhealthy choices.  He argues that “the wholesome-food movement is not only talking up dietary strategies that are unlikely to help most obese Americans; it is, in various ways, getting in the way of strategies that could work better.”  Changing the food habits of the general population is an enormous endeavor but does that mean it’s not worth the challenge? 

Freedman argues that Big Food is already preparing for the challenge and fast food corporations are introducing lower calorie and less fatty versions of some its popular menu items.  The premise here is that reducing fat and calories of fast foods would not make the food a healthy choice but would make it better than the full fat versions.  Still, some in the industry are not prepared to give people credit for making healthier food choices and feel that in order to sell healthier versions of its meals they would have to “sneak” in the healthier ingredients and insist they can reduce calories by as much as 30% in some foods by reducing portion sizes and adding ingredients that contain more fiber or water without people noticing the difference in taste.  Frankenburger, anyone? 

There’s no question that any daily calorie reduction is better than none.  But would a Big Mac Combo Meal, containing 1250 calories, 40 grams of fat, 123 grams of carbohydrates and 51 grams of sugar, reduced by 100 calories really make a difference in people’s health and longevity?  Freedman insists that it’s a small step in the right direction.  The assumption that Americans would not make healthy choices if healthier choices were offered, affordable, and readily available means that Americans better get used to the fact that their longevity may be shortened by as many as 10 years and their quality of life may be greatly reduced for many years before that.  In order to stem the tide of rising obesity rates, food corporations will need to stop relying on their customer’s personal responsibility as a defense argument and address the unhealthy and addictive nature of their food offerings.