Author Archives: Cyndi

How to Choose the Best Diet Plan

I’ve attempted many diets over the years.  Some I remember trying are the Cabbage Soup Diet, South Beach Diet, Body for Life, and Weight Watchers.  Sure, I lost a bit of weight following these plans only to regain it once I went back to my normal eating patterns.  One thing is clear, they were all temporary and did not result in any lifestyle or behavioral changes.

Today, I believe that small, sustainable lifestyle changes are the way to a healthier self.  Creating habits that you can maintain over the long run just makes sense to me.  It’s not a quick fix and takes time, but worth it!

Nonetheless, many people feel they need a “diet plan” to lead them in the right direction.  Or maybe to get a “jumpstart” on weight loss.  If you are considering a diet plan, there are some questions to ask in order to evaluate whether or not it is a good option.

Here are some things to consider if you are searching for a diet plan:

  • How does the diet cut calories?  The truth is, in order to lose weight, you must eat less calories.  I do believe that not all calories are created equal and it’s not healthy to eat a bunch of “diet” foods.  Nor is it a good idea to cut calories too much which will definitely backfire.  But, in order to lose a pound per week, you must reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day.  Including daily exercise can make this more attainable.  It’s important to note that, over time, the rate of weight loss will diminish.
  • What is the nutrient density of the diet?  The most sensible diet plan will advise eating at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day in order to supply necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.  Click here for some tips if you don’t like fruits and vegetables!  Getting plenty of fiber from whole grains and eating calcium-rich foods should be reinforced.  It’s probably not a good choice if the diet plan relies on supplements to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
  • Does the diet promote exercise?  Nutrition isn’t the only factor in the weight loss puzzle.  Getting daily exercise helps with expending calories and keeps your body healthy and strong.  Exercise is also key in helping to maintain any weight loss.
  • Does it make sense?  If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  Some diets are promoted to sound so easy and effective.  Try to remember that any weight that is lost quickly is most likely regained quickly.  The most successful way is to strive for slow, steady weight loss and make lifestyle changes that you can stick with.
  • Where is the evidence?  Looking into any research studies is a great way to examine the safety of different diets and if they actually work.  Not only is it important to see the results of the research studies, but it’s also important to find out the study limitations.  Another important consideration is how long the diet study was conducted.  It may not be successful for the long term.
  • Does it meet individual needs?  When choosing a diet plan, it’s essential to be mindful of health status and history of any medical illnesses (such as diabetes or heart disease).
  • How much does it cost?  You may be able to afford a weight loss program in the beginning but can you afford it for a long period of time.  Plan ahead and make sure you’re ready to commit to a program and determine if any financial sacrifices need to be made.
  • What kind of social support do you have?  Support from family and friends is key to weight loss success.  You will probably have a difficult time being successful if your family isn’t encouraging and devoted to helping you make healthy changes.
  • How easy is it to adhere to the diet?  The key element for lifelong weight loss success is lasting adherence to a program.  In other words, lifestyle change.  It’s hard to stick with a plan that has strict rules.  Finding a plan that you can follow over the long term will yield greater weight loss as well as reduce health risk factors.  According to the National Institute of Health, most dieters regain almost all weight lost within 5 years.  And one-third to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than they initially lose. 
Are you considering a weight loss plan? Here are some tips on How to Choose the Best Diet Plan! Click To Tweet

If you are trying to lose weight and are looking into a certain diet plan, I hope this helps with making a decision.  Try to find a balanced plan, not too extreme and not too restrictive.  Remember that permanent changes to your overall lifestyle is vital in order to have success at weight loss and to improve overall health.  Fad diets come and go, but healthy habits last forever!

Have you ever tried a “quick fix” diet?

Have you had success with a particular diet plan?

*Reference:  Sports Nutrition for Health Professionals*

What if I don’t like fruits and vegetables?

It cannot be ignored that fruits and vegetables are such a vital part of our diet.  They provide us with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.  And they are so colorful and delicious!

Phytonutrients (also known as phytochemicals) are compounds produced in plants.  They are found in all edible parts of a fruit or vegetable but are often concentrated in the skin.  Each phytonutrient has “different proposed effects on and benefits for the body.”  Research suggests that there are thousands of phytonutrients!

Fruits and vegetables give us energy, keep our bodies working properly, and help us feel healthy.  They also may reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

Most people know the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables in our daily diets.  A rule of thumb is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal or snack.  Also, try to eat a variety of colors.  But, what do you do if you don’t like fruits or vegetables?  (a question asked by my husband!)

The nutritional value of plants is hard to replace.  Yes, there are multivitamins and daily greens pills, but our bodies prefer real, whole foods and supplements are not a replacement.  For optimal health, these foods are a necessity!

If you don’t like fruits or vegetables, here are some helpful tips:

Keep trying different types.  There is always something new to try as the variety of fruits and vegetables is endless.  You aren’t limited to apples, bananas, and carrots.  Go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and pick out something new to you and give it a try.  Have a goal to try something new each week.

Hide them.  Remember the cookbooks “Sneaky Chef” or “Deceptively Delicious?”  You can puree fruits or vegetables and “hide” them in certain dishes.  You can blend them in soups, sauces, chili’s, or casseroles.  In the past, I’ve added shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce or shredded zucchini to lasagna.

Bake them.  Who doesn’t love a good banana or pumpkin bread?  You can bake shredded carrots, apples, or zucchini into muffins or bread.  I’ve made Green Monster Muffins that have spinach in them and are delicious!

Smoothies.  Add greens or just about any fruit to a smoothie.  In most cases, you can’t even taste the greens.

Find the right texture.  There are many ways to cook vegetables.  Grill, roast, sauté, bake, stir fry.  You can even make veggie “chips” or “fries.”  Using different cooking methods will bring out different flavors.  I love just about any vegetable roasted!

Add flavor.  There is no reason to eat bland veggies.  Add some spices, olive oil, garlic, lemon, fresh herbs, or balsamic vinegar.  Add some fruit to your cereal or yogurt.

There are endless ways to prepare fruits and vegetables and chances are you will find one that you like.  Don’t give up!  Knowing the health benefits of plants should be reason enough to find a way to get them into your daily diet.

I’ve slacked off lately, but it’s time for me to be a “sneaky chef” and include more phytonutrients in my husband’s (and kids) daily meals!

What’s your favorite fruit and vegetable?

Do you ever “sneak” plants into your family’s meals?


Strength Training Program for Kids

When my 11 year old daughter asked me to set up a strength training program for her, I wasn’t sure if she was serious.  Several weeks later, she is still asking when she can start her program!  Her goal is to become stronger so she can do an overhand volleyball serve.  She plays soccer and basketball, but volleyball is something new.  I appreciate her determination and willingness to work to achieve her goals!

I’ve talked about the importance of strength training and several myths of strength training, now let’s go over some guidelines for youth resistance training:

  • Kids should be properly supervised at all times and be in a safe environment
  • Always begin with a warm-up
  • Focus on proper technique
  • Breath properly during the movement, no breath holding
  • Vary upper and lower body movements
  • Perform up to 15 reps
  • Train 2-3 days a week (non-consecutive days)
  • Always cool down afterwards
  • Drink plenty of fluids

Strength training for kids can improve their bone density and has been shown to enhance motor skills and sports performance.  There isn’t a minimum age when kids can start training, but they should be old enough to follow directions and understand the benefits of the exercise.

Our plan is to use different forms of resistance.  Light dumbbells, resistance bands, and body weight, as it’s good to mix it up and helps with boredom.  The exercises should take 20-30 minutes.

Body weight routine:  Warm up for 5-10 minutes (jog, jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.)Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps of push ups, squats, and calf raises.  For the plank, wall sit, and supermans, hold for 20 seconds, 40 seconds, 60 seconds.  If this is too much, stick with the lower reps and holds.

Dumbbell or resistance band routine:  Warm up for 5-10 minutes.  Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps using light weights or resistant band.  (lay on the floor for chest press)

*if you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises, do a quick google search*

I have 1 lb., 5 lb. and 8 lb. dumbbells for my daughter to use.  We will start light and progress from there.  Proper form is key in preventing any injury.  Always cool down and do some stretches for each major muscle group after each workout.  Drink some water and eat a healthy snack!

Strength training for kids. Summer is a perfect time to get started! Click To Tweet

Some other fun options would be to set up an obstacle course or go to a playground or park.  Getting kids outside and moving is always encouraged!  Playing hopscotch, jumping rope, tug of war, climbing a tree, and riding a bike will strengthen muscles and bones.  It is recommended that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

With the last day of school quickly approaching, it will be a great time to get started. Creating a special workout calendar, chart, or workout log may be something fun to do and to show progress!

Do your kids play sports?

Do you think strength training is good for kids?