10 Ways to Health and Perfect Weight


At the beginning of each New Year, so many of us take a closer look at areas of our lives that we’d like to change or improve a bit. Losing weight, whether it’s a few pounds or 50 pounds is up there with the top three. Even those that don’t need to actually lose weight, vow to eat healthier.



Although everyone starts out motivated and with the best of intentions, most people rarely make it past the first month. What happens? For anyone that has ever been on a diet, you know that overly restrictive and very low-calorie diets are not sustainable. To truly lose weight and maintain the weight loss, a slow, consistent change in your eating pattern will bring about the results you seek.


10 Ways to Health and Perfect Weight

1. The most important element is your physical environment. What is in your pantry, fridge and freezer? Is it stocked with veggies, fruit, whole grain bread and crackers, lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy, etc.? Or are you surrounded with Twinkies, white bread, cookies, soda and other junk food?Out of sight, out of mind… if you must keep unhealthy fare in the house for other family members package it up and put it in the back of the pantry and fridge. Keep the nourishing food front and center.


2. Do you eat only when physically hungry? Start rating your hunger on a scale of 1-10, 1 = starving and 10 = stuffed. During a meal or snack, pausing when reaching a 5 (neutral) is the perfect time to take a moment to decide if you need more food or if your body has had enough nourishment. Getting in tune with true hunger connects us to correct body signals for eating.


3. Focus on the delightful food in front of you. Take away all distractions when eating: TV, radio, reading, computer, cell phone and mail. Take notice of the color, aroma, taste and texture of each bite. When we eat while distracted, we can overeat without noticing. Start out small, perhaps with a snack at first and move to one meal at a time.


4. Eat s-l-o-w-l-y. This takes practice for those used to multitasking and eating while driving, answering email or running between appointments.


5. Because it takes our brains at least 20 minutes to register fullness, eating quickly leads to eat more than we need. Set a kitchen timer at your next meal and time yourself. Did you make it the full 20 minutes?

Because we tend to eat as much as we see before us, plate your food in the kitchen and bring only your plate to the dinner table. The only exception is salad. Bring a large bowl of salad to the dinner table. Also, use a salad plate rather than a dinner plate. Dinner plates have gotten larger and larger through the years. Look at your great grandma’s china dinner plate… much smaller… and so were the people back then!


6. Drink plenty of pure water. Although there is no perfect formula for the “right” amount, if your urine is a pale yellow color, you’re adequately hydrated. By the time you are thirsty, you are most likely dehydrated. Many times when we “feel hungry” when we are actually thirsty and this can prevent adding unnecessary calories.


7. Eat protein and fiber at each meal. Protein empties the stomach at 4 calories/minute, is the most filling and reduces hunger. Fiber is satisfying, also reduces hunger and is very filling. You will notice less hunger between meals.


8. Make ½ your plate veggies. Increasing your veggie intake adds essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants known to help reduce the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Also, eating mostly veggies adds the filling fiber. If you’re not a veggie-lover, don’t get stuck in the green beans, broccoli, and corn rut. Try something different: snap peas, bok choy, collard greens or jicama.


9. Choose whole, natural foods over processed foods. Processed foods are loaded with sugar, fat and/or salt. These 3 addictive ingredients are the known triggers for many overeaters. They keep us coming back for more. Feeding your body nourishing food that provides the fuel and energy needed for cell growth and regeneration prevents those “got-to-have-it” cravings.


10. Plan, plan, and plan. Don’t let yourself go too hungry or run out of the healthy food. Until eating healthy becomes your new practice, write down exactly what you plan to eat for each meal/snack and write a grocery list based on this. If you’re running from meeting to meeting with no time for lunch, carry a small snack baggie of almonds and raisins in your pocket to nibble with water. Keep a stash of fruit, nuts, whole grain crackers and nut butter in your desk drawer. A hungry belly is a sure plan for overeating at your next meal.


Remember, to lose weight and maintain long-term requires changing your lifestyle. Make changes you can live with forever and make them gradually. Baby steps… or as I taught my children many years ago… inch by inch, everything is a cinch.


Happy, healthy eating! Eat slowly, savor each bite and enjoy.



Red Yeast Rice for Cholesterol

Lipitor just went generic earlier this month, losing its patent. $5 billion worth of Lipitor was sold in the US last year and was used by 17 million people. What about those who can’t or don’t want to use Lipitor or other statin medications?

“Statins” are common prescription medications used to treat high cholesterol. They include simvastatin, pravastatin, Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), and others.


One option patients ask about is Red Yeast Rice.  It’s a yeast (or fungus) grown on rice under special conditions. It contains monacolins, the most abundant is monacolin K. This component is structurally identical to lovastatin, a prescription medication used for cholesterol. It’s not surprising then that red yeast rice works for cholesterol, but there are concerns with using it.


If a person has a bad reaction to another statin, taking red yeast rice may also cause a similar reaction (since it contains a similar product to statins). It’s not advisable to take red yeast rice unless you’ve discussed it with a knowledgeable practitioner and are being monitored.


The most common adverse effects with red yeast rice (as with all statins) are muscle aches and pains. Statins can also cause an increase in liver enzymes and should be monitored with blood work.


Discuss any cholesterol medications, and any supplements with your healthcare provider(s). Since you can’t tell what your cholesterol is without monitoring lab work, make sure to follow up as appropriate with your healthcare providers.



3 Addictive Ingredients found in Processed Foods


We know that fueling our body with the most nourishing food will keep our energy high, our weight at the optimal level, our sleep invigorating, and immune system fighting. So why do we eat so many processed foods with minimal nutritional value and empty calories? Some of the reasons are related to our hectic, stressed lifestyles and the availability of processed and fast foods.

The food industry has been very accommodating to our demands to make our life easier by producing quick, convenient meals and snacks for the on-the-go families and career singles. Walk into any grocery store and the aisles are filled with pop-in-the-microwave, eat-right-out-of-the-package processed meals. Single serve soups, snacks and frozen meals are so abundant that you could easily fill your cart for the entire week with processed food that requires virtually no cooking and is ready in just a few minutes. What’s wrong with that?


Take a close look at the ingredient labels of those processed foods. The amount of sugar (remember there are many different forms of sugar), fat and salt in processed foods is high. Add a couple of fast food meals to that and not only is the calorie count most likely too high, but the sugar, fat and salt amounts most certainly exceed what your body needs.


Those three ingredients- sugar, fat and salt, are known trigger substances. When those 3 are combined into foods like donuts, French fries, etc., they keep you coming back for more and more. If I asked you all to make a list of your trigger foods, I would not see oranges or broccoli or chicken or tomatoes or any whole food on your list. It most definitely would be a food containing one or more of the “big 3” that are so plentiful in processed foods.


To take care of your body and keep it in prime condition and more importantly to feel at your best, you do not have to give up everything that contains sugar, fat and salt. There are no good or bad foods. There are just those that nourish your body and fuel it… and remember, that’s our #1 priority, and those that may taste good, add calories, but do little to nourish your body. Live by the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, be sure to eat healthy, whole foods and 20% of the time, eat those convenient foods. Your body will thank you…




Warning: Excessive Flavor May be Deadly


In an interesting study, researchers estimate that cutting just 3 grams of sodium from your diet every day (about 1/2 tsp of salt – or the amount in your pasta water) could prevent up to 99,000 heart attacks & 66,000 strokes every year.


So what’s the story on salt? The research is confusing. We’ve been told that those who have high blood pressure should reduce salt consumption. But in fact, only ½ of hypertensives are salt-sensitive and ¼ of those with normal BPs respond with an elevation in BP to a salty meal. Of course, hypertension can significantly increase the risk of stroke.


But now a more recent study determined that the risk of stroke was higher in people who ate more sodium, regardless of their blood pressure. Research also shows a diet rich in salt may have an adverse effect on Vitamin D as well as promoting calcium excretion, which has negative implications with bone density. And here’s another surprise: people tend to become more sensitive to sodium as they get older. Likewise, their blood pressure is more likely to drop when they cut back on salt in their later years.


So my advice: Be mindful of your salt intake. The brackish flavor is not worth the risk. Cut back a little at a time it’s safer and your taste buds will become accustomed to the taste so you won’t even miss it. It’s estimated that a full 75% of our salt comes from foods that are processed. So eat fresh food, pass on the condiments (pickles, catsup, relish…), canned foods, chips, and fast-food. In other words, eat a healthy diet and cut back on the salt.





6 Super Foods that Fortify your Immune System


It’s that time of year again—cold and flu season.  With chillier weather comes sniffles, sneezes, fevers and sore throats.  As hard as we may try, in cramped office spaces it’s difficult to avoid getting sick.  Are you looking for a little extra protection from the common cold or flu bug this year?  The old saying “you are what you eat” doesn’t just apply to dieting…it means that what you eat could keep you away from the doctor’s office.


Here are 6 foods that are great for boosting your immunity.  Eat them alone or add them to your daily meals.  Here’s to your health! Bon appétit!


Sweet Potato:

The power of sweet potatoes is found in their high amounts of the antioxidant beta-carotene and Vitamin A.  Beta-carotene eats up damaging free radicals in the body.


Garlic breath is great at keeping people away but it also keeps the cold away! Add garlic to foods when you cook for an added immunity boost. Garlic is packed with antioxidants but to fully activate its immune- strengthening enzymes let the garlic sit for 15 minutes after you chop it.



This veggie packs a powerful punch for immunity.  Full of Vitamins A, C and glutathione, Broccoli is great for keeping you healthy.  Broccoli also makes a convenient snack and is easy to incorporate in your meals.


 How can a handful of almonds help you fight off colds? Almonds have key stress-fighting ingredients such as Vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin. Stress is a big factor in making your body more susceptible to illness.



Watermelon holds strong immunity boosting powers.  Not only is it super-hydrating, it contains the antioxidant Gluthathiane.  This antioxidant is known for its ability to fight infections.



Both green and black teas are loaded with polyphenols and flavonoids which are excellent at fighting disease.  Doesn’t matter if you drink caffeinated or decaf; both offer the same illness-resistant power!





The Connection Between Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer


Most diabetics are aware of the health complications associated with the disease, like cardiovascular problems, kidney disease and skin ulcers. But recent studies have suggested that diabetics also have an elevated risk of developing pancreatic cancer.


Despite the rarity of pancreatic cancer, pinpointing the underlying causes for this increased risk hasn’t been easy. Diabetes inhibits the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates the body’s glucose levels—and this could lead to a number of complications with the organ. But there’s also evidence that two of the drugs used to treat diabetes might also increase development of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, as well as pancreatic cancer.


Conversely, about 80 percent of people who’ve developed pancreatic cancer also suffer from glucose intolerance or diabetes. The most obvious connection between both of these conditions is pancreatic dysfunction.


While people can develop diabetes because of genetic factors, prevention and lifestyle changes can lessen the negative effects of diabetes and, perhaps, avoid the factors that could contribute to developing pancreatic cancer as well.



Genetics contribute to the development of diabetes, but for many people, lifestyle changes can have a significant impact—both in reducing the risk of developing the disease, and in managing diabetes. Paying attention to diet, exercise, and quitting smoking can help diabetics avoid many of the symptoms of the disease. Those lifestyle changes can also help diabetic patients avoid pancreatic cancer: smoking and obesity can contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer. As with any disease, patients should talk to their doctors to help them create a wellness plan to help them manage their disease.



It’s critical that diabetes patients maintain a steady and honest dialogue with their health care providers about their diabetes symptoms, but that they also report any changes in their health that could be signs of pancreatic cancer. The two medications connected with the development of pancreatic cancer, sitagliptin and exenatide, have been found to increase pancreatic cancer risk six-fold—and diabetics who take these medications should be especially vigilant when monitoring themselves for signs of pancreatic cancer.


It’s also important that people suffering from pancreatic cancer talk to their doctors about their treatment regimen. Because pancreatic cancer can affect insulin production, patients receiving pancreatic cancer treatment should also encourage their doctors to do tests for diabetes, and look for symptoms of diabetes like excessive thirst, blurred vision, and rapid unexplained weight loss.


As research continues to solidify the links between diabetes and pancreatic cancer, patients suffering from either disease have the responsibility to change their daily routines in order to reduce their chances of developing complications. Coupled with regular checkups with a doctor and a healthy lifestyle, it’s possible that people could prevent more dangerous health issues. Each of these steps is critical to surviving both pancreatic cancer and diabetes, and to leading full and healthy life.



25 Quick Tips to Smart Dieting


It’s the little things that can make all the difference when dieting, and the little things can be easy to change without feeling taste deprived.

Here are 25 quick tips to dieting that will help you succeed while teaching you how to diet smarter not harder. By making small tweaks to your food choices you don’t have to sacrifice flavor, but you can cut a calories, fats, and sugar to help slim down your waistline and achieve your perfect weight. Increase your vegetables and whole grains, but decrease the fat, salt and sugar. If you’re really serious about changing your family’s diet, print this page and post it on your refrigerator as a daily reminder for everyone.



1.  Learn to properly steam vegetables.
2.  Decrease the meat and increase the vegetables called for in stews and casseroles.
3.  Add grated carrots, zucchini or cabbage to chili and meatloaf.
4.  Offer washed and trimmed carrot and celery sticks for snacking.
5.  Add finely grated carrots, pumpkin, or zucchini to baked breads and cakes.


6.  Substitute whole-wheat flour for bleached white flour when you bake.
7.  Top casseroles with wheat germ or whole-wheat bread crumbs.
8.   Serve bran-based cereals, or those made from shredded wheat.
9.   Serve imaginative whole-grain side dishes (bulgur, kasha, etc.) instead of egg noodles.
10. Offer crackers and corn chips containing whole grains.


11.   Cook with less fat by using non-stick skillets.
12.   Blot all fried meats on paper towels.
13.   Add a spoon of water or broth as needed instead of more fat when sautéing onions and vegetables.
14.   Substitute low-fat yogurt for mayonnaise.
15.   Substitute ground turkey for ground beef.


16.   Substitute lemon juice or herbs for salt when cooking pasta or grains.
17.   Avoid cooking with soy or Worcestershire sauce.
18.   Substitute garlic or onion powder for garlic or onion salt.
19.   Avoid using products that contain monosodium glutamate.
20.   Use unsalted or low-salt vegetable broths and products.


21.   Choose canned fruits packed in water instead of heavy syrup.
22.   Use only fresh-frozen fruit without added sugar if fresh is unavailable.
23.   Cut the sugar called for in most recipes by one-third to one-half.
24.   Sweeten waffles and quick breads with cinnamon and vanilla or almond extracts.
25.   Add pureed banana to baked goods and reduce the sugar or applesauce to reduce the fat (oil/butter)




How to Prevent and Detect Diabetes


The statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association are concerning, even if you do not have a history of diabetes in your family: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, 7 million are undiagnosed, 79 million are pre-diabetic and 1 out of every 400 children has diabetes!

Although it can be easy to ignore in the early stages, controlling your blood sugar is vital to prevent damage to blood vessels and vital organs. Complications from diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve damage), amputation of lower limbs, osteoporosis, skin and mouth conditions such as bacterial and fungal infections, hearing impairment and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.


There are several risk factors contributing to the alarming rise of Type 2 diabetes in the United States.
  • The main reason is being overweight- thisincreases insulin resistance
  • Storing fat mainly in your abdomen
  • Being sedentary- the less active you are, the greater your risk
  • Family history- increased if parent or sibling has Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain races are more likely, although the reasons are unclear- Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans, American blacks
  • Age used to be a factor after 45 but children and adolescents are quickly catching up
  • Women who developed gestational diabetes when they were pregnant or delivered a baby more than 9 lbs
  • Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day can increase your risk to more than 3 times that of a non-smoker


Don’t let fear stop you from visiting your doctor. If you are concerned, make an appointment today. Be mindful that some people have no symptoms and others have some of the following:
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired a good deal of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Slow-healing sores
  • More infections than usual


To get on a healthy path and prevent diabetes, the most important thing you can do is lose weight or maintain a healthy weight by eating “just right” portions. Begin by eating less fat, cutting out all trans-fat and saturated fat, increasing fiber by adding whole grains, fruits and vegetables, cutting out or at least cutting down high-sugar foods and eating fewer foods high in salt, especially processed foods such as pickled, canned and packaged. If you stick to whole (from the earth) natural foods in an array of colors, you will be getting the nutrients your body needs.


Add some physical activity to your day, whether it’s walking, gardening, swimming, jumping rope… make it something that you enjoy and will stick with long-term. Change it up with lifting weights, zumba, dance classes or family bike riding. Any exercise will control your weight, blood glucose, and blood pressure, raise your HDL (good cholesterol) and lower your LDL (bad cholesterol).


Don’t become the next diabetic statistic. And if you are a parent, the most important thing you can do is role model. By eating healthy food, your children are more likely to choose wisely. Making exercise a family affair by incorporating fun activities keeps everyone active, lean and diabetes-free!




Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes with These Simple Steps


November is National Diabetes month. As a health and fitness professional, I see my share of Type 2 diabetes clients. I also see my share of those as risk of diabetes. This disease is something we can prevent, there’s almost NO EXCUSE for people to become diabetic if they are willing to change their lifestyle. Small steps can have a profound affect, and if we all work together to educate and motivate maybe we can eradicate!



More than 76 millions Americans are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But the biggest point of all is that IT’S PREVENTABLE! A few weeks ago, a family friend was home doing some work and dropped a box on his leg, leaving a rather nasty wound. Within a week, that wound got worse and wasn’t healing. He wasn’t feeling well, chronically tired. After 3 weeks, the wound still not healing, I encouraged him to go to the doctor. I knew what it was, he didn’t have a clue. The doctor concluded that he was severely diabetic, and he had been for at least 5 years!


My friend loves junk food; he rarely eats at home and never, ever drinks water, only soda. He’s not overweight, but extremely sedentary. When he went to the doctor his blood sugar level was 532! Normal blood sugar should be around 100 mg. Bottom line, his lifestyle and not taking care of his health, led him to this point. He has been in the hospital for almost 2 weeks and they are still trying to get his blood sugar to normal levels.


The reason that I’m sharing this with you is because type 2 diabetes has tripled in the last 20 years. Why? Because, lifestyles have changed dramatically. We sit more than we move, we eat more than we should and the food that we’re eating is typically processed and loaded with “stuff” that does not serve our body well. All of these things are fertilizer for type 2 diabetes.


You see, exercise and eating right is more than just about weight loss; it’s about keeping the quality of your life in check. There is no reason in the world you should be at risk of type 2 diabetes if you’re taking the steps necessary to care for your health.


Simple changes including exercise a few days a week, monitoring your food by opting for healthier fare including more fruits and veggies, eating out less and learning to prepare more healthful dishes. These simple steps can prevent type 2 diabetes. There are some amazing diabetic cookbooks (you can even go online for diabetic recipes).  I like diabetic resources, although I don’t have diabetes, the recipes are foods everyone should be eating. Another favorite of mine is The Simple Art of Eating Well, Eating Well for Diabetes and Mark Bittmans’ The Food Matters Cookbook.


I’m very fortunate to work in the industry that I do. Every single day, I have the opportunity to help educate people about the value of living healthy. I have come to learn, over the years, that weight loss is not always the best motivator to change one’s lifestyle; rather it’s the byproducts of weight loss that can be the real motivator. So, why not take action today, to prevent type 2 diabetes which is gaining strength and threatening the well-being of our country. I’m passionate about this subject, and hope that if you know someone or if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, knowing that making small lifestyle changes can be the difference between living a life rich with potential or living a life sidelined by diabetes. Your choice, your health.



About the Author:  Nicki Anderson entered the fitness industry over 25 years ago after losing close to 50 pounds. She has owned and operated an awarding winning Personal Training Studio, Reality Fitness, since 1991. As a successful business owner and motivational speaker, Nicki’s enthusiasm and fitness knowledge on subjects including Weight Loss, Developing and Maintaining a Healthy Life and Healthy Body and Work/Life balance makes Nicki a sought after international speaker.


Nicki is the 2008/2009 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Finalist in 2006 and 2007. She is the author of numerous books, her most recent, Nicki Anderson’s Single Step Weight Loss; 101No-Nonsense Tips for Healthy Living, Weight Loss and a Diet-Free Life. (Healthy Learning, 2009). Nicki is the health and fitness columnist for Chicago Suburban Newspapers, Naperville Magazine and an IDEA Editorial Board member. Additionally she has been a contributor to numerous magazines and websites including, MSNBC.com, Forbes.com, LA Times, Family Circle, Shape Magazine and FitnessMagazine.com.



The Sweet Stuff: Which is Better?


The American Heart Association recommends that we consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and most Americans are up to 22-34 teaspoons a day. Sugar is also the # 1 craving and all sweets provide a very lucrative business for the food industry.



If you want to cut back on sugar, should you switch to an artificial sweetener instead? There are many different artificial sweeteners on the market today, making it even more difficult to choose. Some from years ago are known cancer- causing agents. Artificial sweeteners are also known for being much sweeter than sugar, tricking your taste buds and brain in wanting more sweet foods.


The author advises that eating all natural foods, including pure sugar in small amounts, is a healthier option. I do agree with her in light of all the research done on diet sodas and other sweeteners. Although they claim that they are “natural”, they are not found in nature, but chemically compounded.


I prefer to use pure stevia with no additives. Many brands sold in grocery stores contain additives, such as inulin and erythritol, so it pays to read the labels carefully.


Other Articles You May Enjoy:

Sugar is abundant in the North American diet. In an effort to improve health or lose weight, many have made the decision to replace high-sugar foods with artificially sweetened options, such as diet pop, artificially sweetened fruit juice, sugar-free yogurts, puddings, and Jell-Os.


If sugar is on your radar and you’ve been making an effort to decrease your intake, I applaud you. Hidden and added sugars can quickly add up over the course of the day. Sugar does not provide us with nutrients and consumption can lead to spikes and crashes in energy levels, as well as cravings for more high-sugar foods.


That said, does substituting natural forms of sugar with artificial sweeteners actually help us achieve our goals of long-term health and weight loss? At this point, we don’t have a lot of conclusive research to help us understand how the human body processes artificial sweeteners. This means we really do not know whether artificial sweeteners help or hinder health and weight-loss efforts.


In the absence of sound research and if neither artificial sweeteners nor natural sugars contribute to our nutrient intake, then which you choose to consume is ultimately your decision. My approach to nutrition is that natural foods should be consumed whenever possible and that all foods can fit as part of a healthy diet. This means even though high-sugar foods do not have a positive impact on nutrient intake, they taste good, and they can certainly be included as part of a healthy diet.     Click the Read Article button below to continue reading.