Monthly Archives: February 2017

Dietary Guidelines

February is heart health month, so I thought it would be a good time to review nutrition recommendations!  I recently participated in an ACE fitness webinar which was titled Nutrition Recommendations for Heart Health.  It was led by Justin Robinson, a registered dietitian as well as a strength conditioning coach.  The webinar was very informative and started off with discussing the progression of Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  So, I thought it would be fun to go back and see how the dietary guidelines have changed through the years.

The first dietary guidelines for Americans were presented in 1980 by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the HHS (Dept. of Health and Human Resources).  These guidelines are updated every 5 years.  Take a look at the guidelines in 1980:

1980 Dietary Guidelines

These are actually pretty good rules to follow, but are too general.  What exactly is too much fat? or too much sodium?  From 1985-1990 their wasn’t much change and the guidelines were essentially the same.  Eventually, the dietary guidelines evolved to address nutritional needs and public health concerns.

In 1995, the food pyramid was introduced.  This included a balance of food with physical activity.  Remember this……

In 2000, the 7 guidelines increased to 10 broken down into three categories.  Here is a summary:


The 2005 guidelines placed a stronger emphasis on increasing physical activity and reducing caloric intake. Getting the most nutrition out of calories eaten and finding a balance between eating and being active was stressed.  Detailed information was made available on

The key recommendations introduced in the 2010 guidelines were:  balancing calories to manage weight; foods and food components to reduce such as sodium, added sugars and dietary cholesterol;  foods to increase such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  My Plate was launched in 2011.  This served as a visual as to how to build a “healthy” plate.  I feel that this is a good tool, as it’s more user friendly than the food pyramid.

That brings us to 2015, which are the guidelines provided to date. These recommendations focus on helping us make food choices that equal an overall healthy way of eating.  Build a healthy eating pattern by making healthy choice from all food groups, but also paying attention to overall calorie intake.  Here are 5 guidelines to encourage healthy eating patterns:

Some of the key recommendations are eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, and proteins and also limit saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.  More information about the 2015 dietary guidelines can be found here:

The reality is that about half of all American adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases and two-thirds are overweight or obese.  Why is this the case?  Are the guidelines not helping?  Or are people just now aware of these recommendations?  I don’t know the answers.  But we, as a health minded community, need to get this information out there and help people take control of their health!  At this rate, disease and obesity are going to be the normal way of life.  I realize there is an overwhelming amount of information, diet books, and conflicting opinions on what and how to eat.  Everybody is different and we thrive on different eating patterns.  Maybe we just need to get back to the basics.

I still like Michael Pollen’s quote:  “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.  Sounds too simple.  Let’s find our healthy!

Are you aware of the dietary guidelines?

Do you believe they are helpful?




Daily Smoothie

My smoothie bowl.  I love it and eat it every day.  Usually for lunch, but sometimes for breakfast.  Or during marathon training it will be a post long run snack!  Here’s what goes into my Ninja blender:

1 c water

a few shakes of cinnamon

1 scoop of vanilla plant based protein powder (Sunwarrior or Vega Clean Protein)

1/2-3/4 c frozen blueberries

1/2 c frozen leafy greens

1/2 c frozen spinach

Blend until smooth!  It’s thick enough to pour into a bowl and eat with a spoon.  (I find that the Sunwarrior protein powder provides a thicker consistency).

I top it with a crumbled homemade muffin and a drizzle of nut butter.

During marathon training, I may add frozen cherries or tart cherry juice if I have it on hand for the anti-inflammatory benefits.  I also like the Vega Sport protein powder which is pretty good.  It’s hard to find a decent plant based protein powder that tastes good and has the right consistency.  I have tried many and always go back to Sunwarrior or Vega.

Do you like smoothies?

What’s your favorite protein powder?

Enjoy your day!



With a light covering of snow on the ground and 24 degree temp, I briefly considered the treadmill for my 5 mile run.  But I decided to hit the pavement!  I prefer running outside over the treadmill, as long as there isn’t any ice.  Afterwards I enjoyed my favorite snack….. sweet potato with sunflower seed butter (and a cup of coffee).  Give it a try!

I’ve been dealing with some left knee pain, which led to NO running in December.  Since January 1, I’ve been slowly adding miles to re-build my base.  Look’s like my spring marathon will be switched to the half marathon.  It’s frustrating but at this point I’m behind in training and I don’t want to risk damaging my knee or not getting my goal time.  There will always be another marathon!

As I was doing my physical therapy exercised this morning, balance came to mind.  Our bodies/muscles need to be in balance in order to perform at its best.  We should be able to balance on one leg (with our eyes closed)!  Muscle imbalance or muscle tightness often contributes to dysfunctional movement.  This is especially true for runners.  If one quadriceps muscle is stronger than the other, it could cause issues with your knees among other things.

One main concept that I learned while studying for my ACE personal trainer certification, is that we need stability and mobility before anything else.  We need to straighten the body before strengthening it.  People tend to want to jump right in and start weight training, but if you don’t have a strong base of support, then that could lead to injury and imbalances.  The 5 basic movement patterns are bend and lift (squat), single-leg (lunge), pushing, pulling, and rotational movement.  These primary movements serve as the foundation of all movement which we do daily!

Posture, or the alignment of body segments, is extremely important.  If you’re trying to perform any movement with poor posture, you are at risk for injury.  There are many assessments that can be done in order to determine if someone has any muscle imbalances, tightness, side dominance, or postural deviations.  Most can be corrected although some instances are non-correctable such as scoliosis or rheumatoid arthritis.  If you straighten your body before strengthening it, you can have an overall more balanced body!

The exercised that I’m doing twice daily for my knee are concentrating on strengthening my hip flexors and quadriceps as well as stretching my IT band and hamstrings.  Having these weakness has caused my patella (kneecap) to track improperly.  I am hoping by consistently doing these exercises, I can get my kneecap back on track!

Do you like running in the cold?  Have you dealt with any knee issues?