The 5 Things You Need to Know From IDEA World Fitness 2014

Do you ever wish you could attend a conference with over 12,000 exercise professionals? Do you wish you could sit beside them as they learn what’s new in weight management science and fitness technology or as they learn new exercise techniques and tools? I wish each one of you could have been by my side as I did TRX Atomic Pushups and walked the Expo sampling new protein bars while checking out the latest shoes from Ryka at IDEA World Fitness. Since my budget wouldn’t allow me to buy badges for everyone, let me share THE five things you need to know from IDEA World Fitness 2014.

  1. Did you know 50 percent of people who buy activity trackers or wearable fitness technology no longer use their gadgets? Many of those who do wear them use them ineffectively. They don’t review the data to look for habits or they use numbers to help rationalize unhealthy behaviors. Have you heard about the study that showed FitBit users actually gain weight? Participants were eating all the calories their device said they burned. What they were unaware of is how large the margin of error is on activity trackers. Trackers are about creating awareness not providing statistically accurate data.
  1. Forget SMART goals and go SMARTER. Hopefully you are familiar with goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Based. I want you to add E for Enthusiastic and R for Revisable. Working towards a goal should make us feel good and should always be open for adjustments.
  1. The Affordable Healthcare Act could really make a difference if the prevention provisions were activated. In the balancing act of improving quality of healthcare and keeping costs under control we know exercise does both. Yet Congress hasn’t done it’s job to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid patients get access at NO COST to things like health coaching and diabetes prevention programs. Medicaid in particular is a challenge because it is a state managed program, not a federally managed one. No state wants to go first in providing health coaching benefits. I plan on writing my state representatives and governor to ask them to take the first steps. I encourage you to do the same.
  1. Even fitness professionals fall prey to the fads. I saw SO many trendy exercise programs and questionable supplements at the Expo. It’s easy to get caught up in the NEXT BIG THING but we, as professionals, need to keep our heads in the game. We all need to stick to what is proven to work for long-term health and fitness.
  1. Fitness can and should be fun. I had a great time learning about fitness games and the value of play. We should all stop taking our workouts so seriously and laugh a little. Wouldn’t your office be a better place if you played a game that made you get up and move during a team meeting? Wouldn’t you have a better retreat if you got outside and played Human Bowling or Shark Island?

What do you think you could learn at a conference like IDEAWorld Fitness? What would the name of your favorite session be?

Farmers Market Finds for August 2014

One of the benefits of long summer days is the extra daylight to do more outdoor activities. I have more energy when I leave the gym because it’s not dark out yet. Brian and I can go for evening walks, even if we have errands we need to run first. I can also take advantage of Party in the Park.

Party in the Park is the Thursday night happy hour at Farmers Park. While the farmers market isn’t as robust as it is on a Saturday morning, you still have plenty to choose from including samples from local wineries and brewing companies as wells as food vendors. I visited the market after I finished my Thursday sessions, once again showing up not long before closing. I wasn’t interested in partaking of the drinks or food but instead I was on a mission for fresh produce to accent my latest haul from Costco and Trader Joe’s. I had some specifics I hoped to find as well as a curiosity on what had change since my last visit to the market.

I can’t say if it was my timing or the fact that it was in the evening, but the crowd was much smaller on Thursday night than the weekend market. I REALLY liked this. I didn’t feel like I was in anyone’s way as I slowly meandered past the stalls. I wasn’t hurried in my analysis of who had the best kale for the best price. The trade off for this is a smaller selection. There are fewer vendors at the evening market and, since I came in late, they were out of or had a very small selection left of certain items. I almost had to duke it out with another lady for the last green onions at one booth. Luckily the dispute was settled peacefully when we discovered there was more than one bundle on the table.

Me efforts were rewarded with white peaches! If you’ve never experienced the goodness that a white peach is you are missing out! They are a perfect blend of peach and pear that has a way too short growing season here in the Midwest. It’s been a few weeks since my last visit to the market so I am not sure if I am catching them at the end or the beginning of their peak. I hope the beginning.

I also loaded up my bag with kale, leeks, zucchini and basil. Knowing I would be on the road again soon I didn’t want to load up too much. I didn’t partake of some of the other great goodies in season right now: peppers (of all varieties!), yellow squash, potatoes and green beans. Tomatoes are everywhere right now too but we are not tomato eaters. I think it’s too early for the spaghetti squash I was hoping to pick up but perhaps on the next trip.

What did I make with this small load of goodies plus the staples in my pantry? The zucchini along with red onions and carrots I already had were paired with tofu (I bought 2 cases at Costco) made a wonderful vegan frittata that I served with NEAT Breakfast Patties. The kale and leeks made a crustless quiche and the basil ended up in the spaghetti squash that I purchased from Mama Jean’s Natural Market. Kale is my new favorite smoothie ingredient too. I never need as much as I buy for a given recipe so I’ve started adding it to my post workout shake. Thanks to my new NutriBullet, I can add the kale to my regular shake of:

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 Tbsp PB2
  • 1 Scoop Designer Whey Gourmet Chocolate Protein Powder

Nothing goes to waste and I get a little help eating meeting my veggie quota for the day.

Does the bounty of summer help you get your 5 servings a day of vegetables and fruits? How do you make sure the fresh picked farmers market produce doesn’t go to waste?

Quick Cardio With No Equipment Necessary!

This week I am in Anaheim for IDEA World Fitness Blogfest. One of the many GREAT things about going to a fitness conference is I don’t have to worry about getting my workouts in! Fitting in fitness on the road otherwise can be a challenge. In case you need a workout for travel (or just something quick for at home on a busy day) here is a workout I did with Paul Adler on KY3 Ozarks Today. It’s four moves with no equipment required.  Let me know what you think!

Personal Trainer Pamela Hernandez takes you through a 4 move circuit workout, quick cardio with no equipment.

Healthy Cooking on a Budget Hacks From A Trained Chef

Americans spend less on food, as a percentage of income, than anywhere else in the world. We also spend less than we have at any time in history on food. We can produce a lot of food cheaply but unfortunately a lot of it is junk. We are a country divided, with more people eating healthier foods than ever while fast food consumption is also at an all time high.

These were ideas presented by Chef Geoff Underwood during the Healthy Cooking on a Budget class. Chef Geoff and Katie Caudle, from Mama Jean’s Natural Market, facilitated this class for the BetterU team last weekend. My goal is always to help real women learn to operate in real life in the real world. The things that Geoff talked about are what make eating healthy in the real world such a challenge. We have competing priorities for our dollars and our time. Fast food is the norm. Food you cook yourself is not. In the beginning of a fitness journey, these facts can make it very hard to do the things you know you NEED to do. You’re motivated to make changes but the way our society is set up works against you.

After spending the first seven weeks of the program building their foundation with the 4 Keys to Real Fitness, my goal has been to spend the remaining sessions filling in the gaps. We’ve talked about stress eating and the importance of using your support network. We’ve talked about accountability tools and how to progress their exercise programs as they get stronger. The cooking class from Mama Jean’s is another very valuable tool in their toolbox. I can tell them what to buy and where to buy it but a trained chef can really tell them how to use it. He gave them a foundation with food they way I do with exercise!

As he prepped the green salad, Chef Geoff shared some great tips on how to make the most of a food budget.

  • Do a farmers market stroll.
    Chef Geoff suggested you hit the farmers market first. Do a stroll around to see what’s bountiful. Supply and demand works so what you see the most of will usually be less expensive. Pick your produce and then build a menu from there. This is something I love to do!
  • Cook like a chef and ditch the recipes.
    Chef Geoff was trained using method based cooking. In school it wasn’t about learning a certain recipe or a special food, but learning a certain cooking method like sautéing or roasting. Doing this frees you up and lets you experiment with whatever might be on sale or in season.
  • Do a cook day.
    Eating healthy on a budget can take a little more time up front but prepping grains ahead and chopping vegetables to use later in the week will save you time later and make your food dollars go farther.
  • Bulk bins are your friend!
    Bulk bins allow you to buy as much or as little of an ingredient you need without paying for excess packaging or branding.
  • Take advantage of your local CSA.
    The upfront cost of a share might seem daunting at first, but when you divide it over weeks and per person it really does make sense. It also challenges you to cook on a regular basis. If you don’t those gorgeous greens might go to waste!

While we enjoyed our salad, Chef Geoff prepared sweet potatoes and ground turkey with millet. He also gave some specific tips about the ingredients he was working with. They may not only improve the health of your meal but also the taste!

  • The best of the flavor in a lime or lemon is in the rind. Before you zest or juice, roll the lime or lemon with your hand back and forth on the counter top. It will help heighten the flavor. More flavor means the less you need of ingredients like salt or sugar.
  • Sweet potatoes cook quicker than white potatoes and are very budget friendly. If you are roasting or making fries, keep them in one layer for the best results.
  • Grains like millet are very inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk. They are great way to “thin out” proteins like ground turkey. Be sure to always rinse those grains too. Particles make their way into grains just like beans and lentils.
  • Don’t go “reduced”, just go less. If you want to reduce sodium or fat, don’t go with a low sodium soy sauce or a fat free cheese. The taste is worse and the price is usually more. Instead just opt for a small amount of the real thing. The sodium overload in the Standard American Diet come from eating out and processed foods, not the foods we cook ourselves from whole and fresh ingredients.

We started with some sobering facts but Chef Geoff ended on a positive note to go with the delicious meal he had prepared. He said in his nutrition course, the registered dietician teaching it said:

All things in moderation. Even moderation.

I couldn’t agree more. With all the food fads and trendy “miracle foods”, it’s best to just keep it simple. Eat real food. Eat food that tastes good. Eat food that makes you feel good.

What would you ask a chef about healthy cooking if you had his ear while he made you lunch?

Healthy Life Lessons from a Type 1 Diabetic

As I celebrate my D-Day Anniversary and 29 years with type 1 diabetes, I have been thinking about the lessons living with diabetes has taught me:

Always carry snacks with you.

Test don’t guess.

The body loves consistency.

Don’t deal with customer service agents when you have low blood sugar.

It’s easier to NOT tell TSA you wear an insulin pump.

Perhaps the most important lesson is that it’s okay to be different.

Type 1 diabetes has made me stand out in many ways, especially when I was a kid. When I was diagnosed in 1985, things were much different than they are now. The dietary prescription was DON’T EAT SUGAR. I didn’t count carbs. Instead I had a point system, similar to Weight Watchers, to help manage how much I ate. I learned to read labels early on to detect hidden sugar and how many points a food product might be. Diet products were great because they had no sugar and were very often low in points. I had no problem telling my friends’ moms that I had to have a DIET Pepsi instead of regular. If we went out for ice cream I  had no problem suggesting somewhere I knew  had a no sugar added flavor. For birthday parties my mom made sure we brought a sugar free treat for me.

Technology was much different too. I took my insulin the old fashioned way via twice daily injections. I mixed two types of insulin in each shot to cover me through multiple meals. I had a glucose meter that was the size of a shoebox. I carried it everyday to school with me in an insulated lunch bag and left it in the school secretary’s office. Before lunch I would be excused to take my blood sugar. Going to the office in elementary school was a bad thing so of course everyone wanted to know why I went every day. They also wanted to know why during class celebrations, like the Christmas party, I got a meat and cheese plate and a diet soda instead of the cookies and punch everyone else had. I learned early on how to handle these questions. My pancreas was broken, I would say, and I can’t process sugar like you can. It was a simplistic answer but it did the trick at the elementary school lunch table.

The art of saying no to food and being comfortable being different are skills that are much harder to learn as an adult. Standing out in social situations or the fear of hurting someone’s feelings drives most women to eat things they wouldn’t eat if they were dining alone. We’re people pleasers who don’t want to reject a hostess’ hard work or a husband’s effort at helping with dinner. We show great concern for making them feel appreciated to the detriment of our own feelings and goals. We seem more willing to suffer through the guilt of how we treated our own bodies than risk offending someone else.

If you’re an introvert the last thing you want to do is stick out by bringing your own lunch to an office meeting or asking the waitress 20 questions about the menu before you order. Despite being an extremely shy child, developing diabetes at the age of 10 helped me to be assertive when necessary. Standing up for myself and standing out were required to keep me well. I had to be my own advocate, especially as I got older. Mom wasn’t always there to ask about the food or when dinner was for me. When I got jobs in high school and college, I always told my boss there were certain times I needed to eat.

Now I have no problem pulling food out of my bag if I need to eat. I am perfectly comfortable asking about ingredients at a restaurant. I politely decline the cupcake knowing I am only rejecting a food item that will make me feel bad not passing judgment on the person offering it to me.

This isn’t to say I don’t indulge on occasion. I do but it’s on my terms. I won’t feel guilty about eating a delicious scoop of gelato anymore than I would about saying no to a piece of store bought birthday cake. I’ll adjust my activity, other meals and insulin. Diabetes helped me to not be afraid to stand out. It also has taught me about the importance of balance. Bringing all of it into balance is a lesson is I still work on every day.