Stay on Track With Your Fitness During Stress

23 Nov

 Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness 

Take a walk to reduce stress.

When life delivers difficult situations, you must learn to find your balance and stay on track.

Today, I want to share a personal experience with you—one that involves a stressful situation where I found myself hardly eating and being inactive for several days.

It made me realize what an impact emotional wellness has on our health and fitness goals. We need fuel, we need to be active and we need to find balance, even when life poses challenges.

I’m always the first to tell people that being active will boost your positive emotions during times of stress; however, I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t following my own advice.

I didn’t even realize I wasn’t being active until my daughter asked me why I hadn’t been dragging them on a family walk with the dogs, and why my yoga mat and weights weren’t in the family room (they usually take up space). Her concerned tone made me jump up, get my three other kids ready, put leashes on the dogs, pack some healthy snacks and go on our family walk.

We were out for three hours and, I must admit, our family walk made me feel less stressed. I realized that it was time for me to follow my own advice and write some tips on how to keep balanced during challenging times. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to lead by example and show my children that you must get outside and be active, even during times of stress.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gotten off track due to stress, so I want to share some ways to tackle emotional stress without taking it out on the body. First, ask yourself some questions to help you keep your health and fitness goals on track:

  • What is your go-to safety mechanism when dealing with a stressful or emotional situation?
  • Are you a stress eater or someone who fasts during times of stress?
  • Do you sit around, or do you exercise to keep your mind off the issue at hand?

I have been at all ends of the spectrum when it comes to how emotions have affected my body and exercise habits. When I was balancing my young triplets and a toddler, I found myself reaching for sweet foods and coffee to make me feel better. It led to weight gain and a lack in confidence. During times of emotional stress, I find that I don’t eat enough. My reason for writing a fitness post about feelings is because life often throws us stressful situations. How you deal with them can truly impact your health, your weight and your fitness goals.

Not finding balance during stressful times can have major consequences on health and well-being. Here are some tips to help stay focused when your emotions get the best of you.

How to Get the Stress Out

Keep a list

Writing out a to-do list is a great way to make sure you accomplish all of your tasks. Checking things off your list will also make you feel good, and ensure you don’t add any more stress by dropping your responsibilities. Even if your mind is preoccupied, your to-do list will ensure you don’t forget things.

Plan your meals

I’ve found that planning meals in advance can mean that you don’t find reasons to skip eating or reach for junk food. Put grocery shopping on your to-do list and fill your list with loads of fruits and veggies. It’s essential for your body to get proper fuel during stressful times.

Plan fun activities

Looking forward to something can help boost your mood. It can be something as simple as a yoga class, or a bowling night with friends or family. Just as long as you plan to get out of the house for a little while, it can make a difference in the way you feel.

Make time for a walk

Whether you’re at home or at the office, schedule regular walking breaks. Not only is it a way to clear your mind and get some fresh air, it’s the perfect way to get active when you have other things on your mind.

Spend active time with friends and family

Spending time with loved ones during stressful times may help keep your mind off the root of the problem. Active time is much better than simply sitting around, because it’s less of an opportunity to start snacking or pondering unhelpful thoughts. Spending time with loved ones will also give you the emotional support you need during difficult times.

Avoid unhealthy snacks

Eating sugary foods will only give you a temporary feel-good moment. The extra sugar in your system may temporarily boost your energy levels, but it’s always followed by a crash. My advice is to snack on healthy protein-rich foods.

I hope you can use some of my tips to help stay on track next time you have a stressful situation. Your emotional well-being is just as important as your physical health. The two seem to be linked pretty closely, so be aware of your actions and try to protect your health.

 

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How to Build an Achievable Fitness Plan

26 Sep
 Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness  0 Comment
 
Create a fitness plan with attainable goals.

Do you have a fitness plan? I think you need one, and these are my tips on how to kick-start your year with a renewed commitment to stay in shape OR get in shape.

I know that starting a new fitness plan can be daunting, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while or you’ve started and stopped before. But with a new approach and a determined attitude, success may be closer than you think.

The most important first step to becoming fit is making a workable fitness plan—otherwise it’s too easy to lose focus. Ask yourself these five questions below and make sure you answer them completely honestly.

1. What are your bad health habits?
Your answers might be poor eating, having too many snacks or sitting down for too many hours.2. Where do you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10?>
One being completely out of shape, breathing heavily while doing daily tasks; 10 being perfect fitness.

3. How much time do you currently dedicate to exercise or activity each week?
And is it enough? Would you like to be more fit and do you want to have more energy?

4. What three fitness activities do you most enjoy?
Be honest. Do you like walking, exercise classes or simply playing outdoors with your kids? Don’t hold back from putting something more adventurous down as a bonus answer. You can work up to high-powered activities as you build your fitness.

5. What roadblocks have caused you to lose focus in the past?
Maybe you’ve stopped exercising because you’ve become busy at work, or your routine was interrupted and you didn’t get back into fitness. Put down anything that derailed your plans.

Now, let’s use your answers to make a fitness plan

You can decide to fix just one thing at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Let’s go through your answers and build a fitness plan you can stick to all year. You don’t need to aim too high. Right now, we just want to improve on where you are now.

Overcoming bad habits

If you eat unhealthily, then you should focus on making your next meal more healthy. You can’t change what you’ve eaten in the past, but you can make sure your next meal meets all your nutritional needs. Approach fitness in the same way: focus on your current or next workout and do the best you can. Decide right now when you are going to do an activity—or even go and grab your running shoes and prepare for an activity session as soon as you finish reading this.

Your fitness rating

It’s good to know where you are, but you also need to think about where you want to be. I’d like you to aim for two points higher than your current number. So, if you rate a five, then your fitness plan should slowly take you up to a seven. And if you’re already at level 10, then I know you’re ready for any challenge, but maybe you could diversify? Think about whether there are any areas you could further develop or learn to love more?

Your exercise routine

If you want to give more time in your life to exercise, then try to increase your exercise habits by 10 minutes per week until you reach at least 30 minutes of activity a day. Exercise doesn’t have to be daunting: if you currently sit down in an office for long periods, then promise yourself that you’ll go and visit a colleague instead of emailing at least twice each day. Or, plan a walk straight after work—even if you only go around the block, then at least you’re out and about. As you build your fitness plan, you’ll soon see that adding 10 minutes of activity here and there can make your day more fun, and that has to be better than thinking of exercise as a chore.

Choosing an activity

You can start out by only doing the activities on your list—the ones you listed in answer to question four. The start of your fitness plan is not a good time to try new types of exercise, so focus on your favorites—they’ll help you feel confident and comfortable for the first few weeks. Activities like walking, jogging and body-weight exercises are a great way to start out. I love the phrase “Don’t run before you can walk,” because a slow and steady approach builds results that will last.

Avoiding roadblocks

If you find yourself always stumbling because of one particular obstacle, then avoid it. It sounds simple, I know, but if you always plan early morning workouts and you can’t get out of bed, then consider lunchtime or evening sessions. You know yourself and your fitness plan needs to be tailored to who you are, so don’t pledge to do something that you won’t enjoy—because then you’re less likely to succeed.

Finalizing your fitness plan

Now you should have everything you need to create a fitness plan that meets your needs. You know what you want to achieve, how you what to achieve it and why. You even know what might knock you off course. With your fitness plan, be kind to yourself and choose an easier route that you know you will be happy navigating over the long term.

Once you have gathered all your thoughts, why not write them out clearly? For me, transferring my thoughts to paper helps to make them concrete. And if I have my goals written down, I know I can’t ignore them. Place your fitness plan somewhere prominent to remind you of your starting point and your aims. I recommend sticking it on the fridge, because keeping it visible will help to keep you motivated. I also always keep an exercise journal, because it’s a great way to track my progress. And when it works, you want to be able to remember how you did it.

7 Exercises That Will Have You Feeling and Looking Good

26 Sep

 

 Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness  0 Comment
 
Strength your core with forearm planks

Let’s be honest – sometimes, our goals are tied to looking and feeling a certain way in our clothes, whether it’s a new dress or that pair of jeans in the back of your closet – and that’s okay.

The truth is, when you feel great, you radiate confidence, which can go a long way in influencing how you look – not just in that dress, but overall. Wondering what you can do to feel and look your best? Try this three-step approach that focuses on toning your physique, eating right and the importance of stretching and standing tall.

Let’s get toned

A well-balanced exercise plan contains both cardio and resistance training. Here are seven moves to add to your routine and help you feel confident and strong.

Multi-directional squat with bar – this exercise challenges your coordination, engages your glutes and works your inner thigh muscles. As an added benefit, lower body exercises burn significant calories.

Box jumps – this total lower body cardio move engages your glutes and challenges your calves and core muscles.

Burpees – this total-body mix of a squat, step-back, plank, push-up and jump is intense, but it can help enhance your coordination and strengthen several muscles at the same time.

Curtsy lunge followed by single leg deadlift – this exercise focuses on the outer glutes and the hamstrings.

Forearm plank (hold for 60 seconds) – this exercise is great for pulling in and strengthening your core. Take deep breaths and be sure you’re not putting too much pressure on your neck or back. Try to let your abs do most of the work.

Pike roll with an exercise ball (hold for 30 seconds) – this is a great move for toning your shoulders and abs. Get into a push-up position with your feet placed on an exercise ball instead of the floor. The closer the ball is to your abs, the higher the difficulty. Keeping your abs tight, press your hips up towards the ceiling. Then, come back to your original straight position. Keep your back flat throughout this exercise.

You’re eating right, right?

If you want to see differences in your physique, you’ve got to be dedicated when it comes to your eating habits. The best workout program in the world won’t give you the results you want if you’re not paying attention to what’s on your plate. For tips on jump-starting a new plan, go here. To find a meal plan that’s right for you, check out this guide. And, if you find you need help getting your hunger under control, check out these tips.

Sit up straight

Who hasn’t found themselves hunched over their computer during a long day? Focus on pulling your shoulders back and try to incorporate regular yoga stretches into your day – this can really help lengthen and streamline your posture. And if you’ve made it this far, go ahead and reward yourself with a good stretch.

Whether it’s a new dress that’s motivating you or just a desire to feel your best, you’re on the right track. Go ahead and give these confidence-boosting healthy habits a try. Don’t feel like you need to do them all at once, either. Change creates change, so start with small changes (like posture) and work your way up to bigger ones (burpees, we’re looking at you).

Why Carbohydrates Are So Important for Athletes

08 Sep
 Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training  0 Comment
 
Take in carbs before and after workout.

Carbohydrates are the best fuel for the body’s engine, more so than proteins or fats. The right carbs taken at the right time are key to good athletic performance.

Carbohydrates are the most important source of fuel in an athlete’s diet. And yet some athletes experiment with popular low-carbohydrate regimens, mistakenly believing that these diets will somehow “train” the body to burn more fat for fuel, or that carbohydrates interfere with the body’s ability to burn fat. But carbohydrates are a critically important energy source during exercise. In fact, the body cannot use fat for energy unless carbohydrate is present.

Why Carbohydrates Are So Important for Athletes

Carbohydrates are the fuel that makes the body’s engine run, and athletes need plenty of carbohydrates before, during and after exercise.

While fats can be (and are) used as a source of energy, the main function of the carbohydrates you eat is to supply energy to cells. This is particularly true for high-intensity exercise, the level at which most athletes train and compete.

The body generates energy from carbohydrates much more rapidly than it does from fat, and the brain and central nervous system rely exclusively on carbohydrate for fuel.

It’s often said that “fats burn in a carbohydrate flame” in the body. What this means is that in order for fats to be broken down completely to result in the release of energy, carbohydrate breakdown has to happen simultaneously.

This is because one of the products of carbohydrate metabolism is a substance called pyruvate. Pyruvate plays a critical role in the release of energy from fat. Without enough carbohydrate in the diet, pyruvate production drops, which impairs the release of energy from fat.

Eating enough carbohydrate is also important because it helps prevent the body from using protein for energy. While your body can use protein to supply energy, the protein you eat supports many more important functions in the body. Its primary role is to build body proteins such as muscle, bone, skin, hair, enzymes and hormones.

If you were to burn protein as an energy source, it would impact the body’s ability to perform these more important functions.

How Carbohydrates Fuel Activity

When you digest the carbs in the foods you eat, the end product enters your bloodstream in the form of glucose, or blood sugar. This is then transported to the cells to be used for energy.

Any glucose that is not used immediately can be converted into a storage form of carbohydrate called glycogen. Glycogen gets stashed away in your liver and muscles where it can be tapped into during activity.

Working muscles require a steady source of fuel, which can come from both the bloodstream and from the glycogen that is stored away. But there’s a limit to how much glycogen your body can store. If activity lasts long enough, the glycogen stores can become depleted. That’s why it’s so important to fuel properly—and regularly.

Athletes Need Carbohydrates Before, During and After Exercise

For the average person, a well-balanced diet will usually provide enough carbohydrate to fuel daily activity. But athletes who train hard know that they need to properly fuel up before starting out, and to keep the carbs coming in during activity and to refuel properly afterwards.

If your regular workouts are strenuous and longer than an hour or so, here are some tips to keep your performance at its peak:

Before starting out, it’s a good idea to ‘top off the tank’ with some low-fat, high-carb foods to help maintain blood sugar, particularly if you exercise first thing in the morning. The best choices are foods that are easy to digest like a smoothie, a carton of yogurt or a small bowl of hot or cold cereal. Low-fat and low fiber foods are best to help avoid any stomach upset. Foods with fat and fiber delay digestion time, so they’re better eaten after exercising. If it’s hard for you to eat much in the morning, start with something small and light like a few bites of banana or a slice of toast.

During activity, specially formulated sports drinks can help keep your tank topped off.  In addition to providing much-needed fluid, sports drinks are designed to provide the amount of carbohydrate recommended during activity (30-60 grams an hour for the first few hours). That’s about the amount in a liter of a typical sports drink. For longer events, some people also carry foods like low-fat cookies, sports gels, gummy candies or cereal bars for an extra boost of carbohydrate.

Refueling after a workout is critical—most of the stored glycogen will have been used up. Since your muscles are craving carbs, they’ll take them up readily and store them away for the next bout of activity. This is the time to load up on higher fiber carbs, since digestion time is no longer a concern. A dab of protein helps repair muscles, too, so ideal recovery foods include both protein and carbohydrate. It’s also important to refuel within about 30 minutes after exercise to maximize the effects of protein and carbohydrate on muscle recovery. Specialized recovery foods and beverages are convenient. Otherwise, work in plenty of healthy carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and dairy products. A sandwich on whole-grain bread, a protein shake made with milk, or a bowl of lentil soup with a piece of fruit are all great post-exercise meals.

More:

What to eat after your workout

What to eat before you work out

How to find your best workout

For Athletes, Meal Timing Is Key to Good Performance

08 Sep
 Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training  0 Comment
 
Find the right balance of nutrients for performance.

When I was a child, I loved to spend summer days swimming in the pool. I used to get really annoyed at my mom, who always insisted that I wait an hour after lunch before diving back in so I wouldn’t “get a bellyache.” At the time I thought she was being unreasonable, but it turns out her advice was scientifically sound. When you’re doing strenuous exercise, paying attention to what you eat and when, it can have a big impact on your performance.

Athletes are usually on a constant quest to craft the perfect diet to give them the winning edge. While many athletes go through a bit of trial-and-error with their diet until they come up with a plan that works for them, there are a few key points that all athletes should keep in mind when trying to match their meals and snacks to their activity.

    • •Carbohydrates are primarily what the body relies on for energy. But the body needs a fairly steady source from the diet, since there’s only so much carbohydrate the body can store (in the form of glycogen) in the muscles and the liver.
    • •It’s important to ‘top off the tank’ with some carbohydrate before an athletic event. But in choosing what to eat, the athlete needs to consider how much time they have to digest before activity starts.
    • •Foods high in fiber and fat delay digestion time; it’s best to save them for after the event.
    • •Light or liquid meals digest more quickly than solid ones. For athletes who have only an hour or less to digest before an event, a smoothie or a carton of yogurt would be easy on the stomach.
    • •If there’s an hour or two before the event, then a lighter, solid meal—some cottage cheese and toast, a bowl of low fiber cereal would work. If there are three hours or more until the event, then a regular meal will do.
    • •During continuous activity that lasts longer than an hour, athletes need to keep the carbohydrate coming in. Specially designed sports drinks are ideal for this purpose, since they provide fluid and salts as well as the right amount of carbohydrate to keep muscles well-fueled. Some also provide small amounts of protein, which help with muscle recovery.
    • •Post-exercise, the body is ready to take up plenty of carbohydrate to replenish the stores in the liver and muscles. Ideally, athletes should try to eat within 30 minutes or so after the event is over. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and dairy products are all terrific recovery foods. That’s the time to load back up on the higher fiber carbs, since digestion time is no longer a concern.
    •Whey and casein—proteins derived from dairy products—are also needed after exercise to help promote muscle recovery. A sandwich on a whole grain bread with a glass of milk, some yogurt with a piece of fruit, or a protein smoothie made with milk and fruit are all post-exercise meals that would fill the bill.

 

Nighttime Nutrition for Athletes

01 Sep

 

 Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training
Cottage cheese or yogurt make great bedtime snacks

The right snacks at bedtime help athletes recover and also perform at their best the next day.

Most highly active people are pretty good about keeping tabs on their nutrient intake during the day. They’ll plan out their meals and snacks, and what they’ll be eating before their workout and afterwards for recovery. But if athletes aren’t snacking at bedtime, they might be missing out on an opportunity to optimize their nutrition.

 When you’re asleep, your body doesn’t generally have any nutrients coming in (unless you’re one of those fanatical athletes who schedules during-the-night feedings). This means that if you can supply your body with the right nutrients before you nod off, it could help your body recover, help reduce muscle soreness and help you get ready to train the next day.

Most athletes can benefit from nighttime snacking

 Protein is the usual target for nighttime snacking, particularly for strength athletes. While the total amount of protein eaten over the course of the day is key, the timing of when that protein is eaten is also important when it comes to maximizing muscle development. Most strength athletes know that protein is important after a workout, but may not realize that a dose of protein at bedtime can help them optimize protein intake and muscle development.

During sleep, muscle tissues are in repair mode and rely on a steady supply of amino acids in the bloodstream to support muscle protein synthesis. One of the best sources of protein to take in at bedtime is casein – one of the two major proteins (along with whey) in milk and milk products.

Whey raises blood levels of amino acids faster and earlier than casein, which is why whey is the go-to protein after a workout to get the recovery process started.  But casein digests more slowly than whey – taking about 6 to 7 hours to digest – which means that it delivers an overnight supply of amino acids that can assist with muscle repair and growth.

For this reason, milk and milk products make great bedtime snacks – cottage cheese or yogurt, for instance – as do specially formulated casein-rich protein powders that can be made into a smoothie.

While nighttime protein snacking is most often associated with strength athletes, endurance athletes may benefit, too. That’s because protein supports many different functions beyond just muscle growth and repair. Dietary protein supplies the body with the amino acid building blocks the body uses to produce important body proteins such as hormones, and enzymes that help your body convert food into energy.

Carbs at night can help athletes, too

Some carbohydrates at nighttime can be beneficial for athletes, too. For an endurance athlete competing in an early morning event, a balanced snack of protein and carbohydrates at bedtime can help to support muscle repair overnight, but it will also bolster carbohydrate stores for the next day. And for athletes of all types who train or have competitions late in the evening, a balanced bedtime snack can serve as a recovery meal.

Some athletes are concerned about eating before bedtime, under the false assumption that this will somehow affect body fat breakdown during sleep and impede their progress towards becoming more lean. But as long as caloric balance is maintained, taking in supplemental protein or carbohydrate in athletes shouldn’t lead to weight gain. And for those athletes who are trying to gain weight, a balanced bedtime snack is a great time to sneak in some extra nutrition and calories.

What Motivation Do You Need to Get Healthier?

22 Aug
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training
 
Now is the right time to get started.

People have different reasons for wanting to shape up. Finding the motivation you need can help you stay on track.

There’s no doubt about it, change is hard. I frequently tell my clients that my job is much easier than theirs. My role is to advise them on how to eat better, while they’ve got the more difficult task of having to actually do it. But my job doesn’t stop at simply handing out advice: I also try to help people find the motivation to help them make the changes they need. The reasons are all over the map. For some, just the goal of getting healthier is all it takes to kick-start the process. On the other hand, that probably won’t motivate those who tell me (and I’ve heard this more times than I can count), “I’m perfectly healthy, I’m just fat.”

What’s Your Motivation?

blog_may3Whether you’re trying to lose weight, add muscle, shape up or just want to eat healthier, you’ll probably be more successful if you can figure out what’s driving you to do it in the first place. Everybody is different, there’s no right or wrong reason. Most people focus on the positive, like, “I want to have the energy to keep up with my kids” or “I want to look better in (or out of) my clothes.” Others take the opposite approach and focus on moving away from the negative, like, “I don’t want to avoid the mirror any more” or “I don’t want to feel so tired all the time.” Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a health scare before people ‘wake up and smell the coffee.’ But it can drive people to make incredible strides towards better health. And, as the saying goes, better late than never.

Some people have specific goals that motivate them, like wanting to look good at an upcoming wedding or reunion, or being able to fit into their favorite jeans. One client of mine had a very specific goal. She wanted to be able to just hop into the driver’s seat of her car, rather than having to first move the seat all the way back in order to accommodate her enormous belly before climbing in.

How Does It Feel?

You might get motivated by thinking about how good you’ll feel as you get healthier and fit. How terrific would it be to have more energy, to feel more flexible and strong, or to look great in some new clothes? If ‘avoiding the negative’ is what gets you going, then it might help you to think about how you’ll feel if you don’t take action.

When you feel your motivation waning—which happens to mostly everyone—remind yourself why you embarked on this makeover in the first place. Keep your focus on your feats rather than your failures. Try paying less attention to what the scale says, and give yourself a pat on the back for all the behaviors you’ve changed. After all, the positive changes you make in your diet and lifestyle are really what drive you towards your goal. The fact that you also get healthier and fit is just “icing on the cake.”

What to Do About Hormonal Skin Conditions

09 Aug
 Posted by Herbalife Nutrition
As always, cleanse and hydrate.

Whether you’re 20 years old or heading into your 60’s, there are certain hormonal skin changes that all women will experience.

Women and hormones go hand in hand. Throughout the various stages of life, whether it’s puberty, pregnancy or menopause, our bodies experience significant changes due to hormonal fluctuations. These changes in our bodies can bring about many different changes in our skin. Whether we are 20 years old or heading into our 60’s, there are certain hormonal skin changes that we will experience.

For most of us, when we are in our 20’s and 30’s, our skin is pretty healthy. Our collagen and elastin levels are positive and are continuing to produce. We usually don’t have any major wrinkling or discoloration, and our skin maintains a very youthful appearance. But when our hormones start to fluctuate, we begin to experience hormonal skin changes. And I’m not just talking about menopause. What are these changes and what can we do about them?

As we age our skin changes, and some of these changes occur at the hands of our hormones. Hormones, simply put, are chemical messengers that are produced in our ovaries, adrenal glands and thyroid glands. And they can affect certain tissues of the body.

Women can chalk up many skin concerns to the effects of hormones, and there are countless manufacturers who market and sell products to women in hopes of countering these hormonal changes. Yes, menopause seems to be the most popular, but these changes can occur well before menopause strikes. Women in their early 20’s can experience the negative effects of hormones in various changes in their skin.

Most Common Hormonal Skin Conditions

Blemishes and Breakouts

Unfortunately, one of the very first hormonal influences on our skin comes in the form of pimples. You may experience just a few small pimples or some major breakouts. In either case, these breakouts seem to appear at just about the same time as your monthly friend. This is probably the biggest skin problem that young women face, because in our 20’s and 30’s the body tends to be in reproduction mode. This is directly related to our hormones. These breakouts will be most prominent on the lower cheeks, chin and along the jawline. But they may also appear on the tops of arms and on your back as well. To help clear up acneic skin, use an OTC anti-acne product. If the problem is serious, see your dermatologist to pinpoint the actual cause and determine the best solution for you.

 Oily Skin

During that certain time of the month when your hormones are going a bit bonkers, you may notice your skin is starting to look and feel greasy. These monthly hormonal changes encourage our oil ducts to produce a lot more oil than we would like. So, with our monthly period also comes excess oil production and buildup on our skin. Is there something you can do to help? Absolutely. Cleanse your skin with a gentle facial cleanser designed for oily skin. Look for one that doesn’t just remove excess oils from the surface, but one that will also help to reduce sebum production as well. And keep some blotting papers on hand to help remove the oil as a quick fix between cleansing.

Itchy, Dry Skin

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you may remember your skin feeling dryer and more uncomfortable than normal. This is very common for most women and also very normal. Your skin is stretching to accommodate your little bundle of joy, and also to allow for some expected weight gain. With that stretching and pulling of the skin sometimes comes a bit of dryness and itchiness. Keep your skin moisturized with a rich, hydrating body lotion. This will keep your skin more flexible and help alleviate the urge to scratch. Apply your body lotion immediately after your bath or shower when your skin is still damp.

Hyperpigmentation

Another hormonal skin condition that seems to go hand in hand with pregnancy is hyperpigmentation, or discoloration of the skin. To be fair, hormones and sun exposure are the main causes of the discoloration, which shows up in our skin in the form of melisma. You may notice the skin on your chest, armpits and certain areas of the face begin to darken during pregnancy. Any birthmarks or existing scars may also begin to darken during this time. Much of this discoloration will fade after the baby is born. But you’ll need to be patient, as it may take some time for your hormones to level out and for your skin to change back to its pre-pregnancy state.

Hyperpigmentation doesn’t only apply to those who are pregnant. Keep in mind that if you’re taking birth control pills, you too may notice some darkening of your skin. Speak to your dermatologist about skin care products that will help to lighten these dark spots by inhibiting melanin production. It’s the melanin that provides pigment to the skin. Some drug products are available to address hyperpigmentation and other skin discolorations. Ask your doctor about the right product or treatment.

All women will experience hormonal skin changes. Nutrition and skin care won’t address changes in hormone levels or the skin conditions they cause.

Eating a nutritious diet, living a healthy, active lifestyle and practicing a daily skin care regimen, are good steps for any woman to take. Remember, the healthiest skin is always the most beautiful.

Heart health: How to fine tune your diet in 5 easy steps

17 Jul
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training  0 Comment
 
Fruits and veggies for a heart healthy diet.

Samantha and I are in privileged company this week. We’re looking forward to a guest post from Louis Ignarro Ph.D, Nobel Laureate*, consultant to Herbalife and member of the Herbalife Nutrition Institute Nutrition Advisory Board, in which he’ll describe the impact of a healthy, active lifestyle on heart health. A healthy diet is, as Dr. Ignarro says, “As good for your heart as it is for your taste buds.”

I couldn’t have said it better. But what I often run into with my patients is that it’s one thing to know what to eat and why (okay, that’s two things), but they often get hung up figuring out how to incorporate more healthy foods into their diet. So, let’s take a good look at the key whatwhy and—more importantly—the how-to of a great diet for your heart health.

Eat an abundance of fruits and veggies

Why it’s heart healthy:

Aside from being low in calories, high in fiber and chock full of vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables provide the body with antioxidants. As part of everyday metabolism, the body produces something called oxygen free radicals—highly reactive molecules that can negatively affect cells and tissues in the body. It’s important to keep their formation in check, since free radicals can damage the lining of blood vessels and may encourage the so-called “bad cholesterol” to get trapped in the lining of arteries. Antioxidants offer protection by helping to keep the production of free radicals to a minimum.

How to:

Eat a fruit or veggie at every meal or snack. Add fruit to your breakfast protein shake, yogurt or cereal. Have a salad and/or steamed veggies at lunch and dinner, and snack on fresh whole fruits and vegetables. When you make a point to have a fruit or vegetable every time you eat, it’s easy to get all your servings in for the day.

Choose proteins for heart health

Why it’s heart healthy:

Protein is important for taming hunger, but your protein sources should be low in fat. Since saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, choosing the lowest fat protein sources is the way to go. Meats naturally contain more saturated fat and cholesterol than poultry, and poultry has more fat than seafood. If you eat dairy products, it’s best to choose fat-free or low-fat. Plant proteins—like soy proteins, beans and lentils—are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. And fish is a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats DHA and EPA.

How to:

Aim for a few fish meals per week. For convenience, you can’t beat canned tuna, salmon and beans—any of which can be tossed into a salad for a quick, balanced meal. Use nonfat or low-fat milk in cooking and in your smoothies and nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese at meals or snacks. If you eat red meat, choose the leanest cuts and trim visible fat. Replace high fat ground meats with ground poultry breast.

Eat plenty of fiber, especially soluble fiber

Why it’s heart healthy:

There are two main types of fiber, known as “soluble” and “insoluble.” Both are important, but they each have different effects on the body. Insoluble fiber is found primarily in vegetables and whole grains, and it speeds the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract, so it’s helpful in promoting regularity. But the soluble fiber (found in apples, oranges, carrots, oats, barley, and beans) traps water as well as cholesterol in the digestive tract. In doing so, it promotes fullness – which helps with weight management.

How to:

Snack on apples and carrots. Add beans to soups and salads or blend smooth into a dip. Aside from oatmeal, rolled oats can be added to protein shakes, or you can whirl rolled oats in the blender into a flour and use to partially replace wheat flour when you cook or bake at home.

Choose heart-healthy fats

Why it’s heart healthy:

Foods like fish, tree nuts, avocados and olive oil are considered some of the most heart-healthy fats, because they contain very little saturated fat and are good sources of polyunsaturated fats, which can help keep blood cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

How to:

Reduce the total amount of fat you use in cooking and at the table, and use heart-healthy olive oil as much as possible when you cook. Sprinkle nuts and seeds on salads, yogurt and cooked veggies. Try using avocado to replace other fats—replace mayonnaise with it in your tuna salad or for the spread on your whole grain toast. Aim for a few fish meals a week. If that doesn’t work for you, consider an omega-3 supplement.

Find and stay at a healthy weight

Why it’s heart healthy:

I listed this one last, because if you follow the other “whats” of a heart-healthy diet—and include regular exercise—chances are good that you’ll find and maintain your healthy weight. But I could have listed this one first, since maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the key factors in maintaining a healthy heart.

How to:

In addition to following the heart health guidelines above and getting plenty of exercise, another key issue to weight management is portion control. Plenty of people eat very well, but they still eat too much and carry too much weight. By keeping your portions moderate, you’ll control your overall calorie intake as well as the total amount of fat that you eat. Make sure to eat at regular intervals – and have some protein every time you eat, too, to help keep blood sugar levels steady and to control hunger.

Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing Beneficial Fats

14 Jul
 Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training  0 Comment
 
Olive oil is a source of beneficial fat.

Beneficial fats can help promote heart health. Here are some tips for working more beneficial fats into your diet.

Confused about beneficial fats and bad fats? You’re not alone. Aside from questions about weight loss, the topic of beneficial fats seems to come up more than any other. Many people I talk to remember the low fat diet era of 20 years ago—just as they remember the high fat/low carb era that followed right behind. Then suddenly it wasn’t merely about how much, or how little fat we should be eating, but whether or not we were eating the right kinds of fat.

What Are Beneficial Fats, and Why Are They Good For You?

Fats can be divided up into two broad categories: saturated (unhealthy fats) and unsaturated (beneficial fats). Of the two, the unsaturated fats are considered better for you, since these fats are derived primarily from plant foods and can help to keep blood cholesterol levels within a normal range. On the other hand, a diet with a lot of saturated fats (found primarily in animal products like butter, cheese, whole milk and meat), can contribute to a rise in cholesterol.

Unsaturated fats can be further broken down into two categories: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. You’ll find monounsaturated fats in nuts, seeds, olive oils and avocados. They’re considered beneficial when eaten in moderate amounts.

Polyunsaturated fats can be further classified as either omega-3 or omega-6 fats. While your body requires both types, you need them in the proper balance to promote health. The problem for most of us is that we eat too many omega-6 fats (fried foods, snack foods and sweet baked goods) and not enough fish, nuts, seeds and leafy greens that provide the omega-3s.

Be Choosy With Fats To Keep Calories in Check

Now, added fats do add calories to your diet. All oils, regardless of their source, have about 120 calories a tablespoon. Just because olive oil is a beneficial fat, doesn’t mean you should pour it all over your food.

How to Get More Beneficial Fats Into Your Diet

The foods that contain beneficial fats include nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil, seafood and avocados. Here are some ways to work more of these beneficial fats into your day.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans are considered tree nuts, which have more heart-healthy omega-3 than peanuts (not actually nuts, but beans). Here are some ways to include more nuts and seeds into your diet.

    • • A handful of nuts make a filling snack.
    • • Try stirring some nut butter into oatmeal, yogurt or protein shakes; or spread some on apple slices for a quick snack.
    • • Finely ground nuts make a delicious crispy coating for fish or chicken. Dip fish fillets or chicken breasts into beaten egg white, then lightly coat with ground nuts. Season with salt and pepper, then bake or saute.
    • • Sprinkle nuts or seeds into green salads, on top of cooked vegetables, yogurt or hot cereal, and into your shakes.
    • • Add nuts and seeds to trail mix.
    • Tahini (sesame seed paste) makes a delicious base for a salad dressing or sauce.
Olive Oil and Olives

Olive oil is also one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fat. If the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil is too strong for you, look for light olive oils that have the same calories as regular olive oil, but are lighter in flavor.

    • • Use olive oil to replace vegetable oils and butter when you cook.
    • • Make your own salad dressing with 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice or vinegar; salt and pepper to taste.
    • • Use a tiny bit of olive oil to flavor cooked vegetables.
    • • Add whole olives to salad, or chopped olives to pasta sauces, or stirred into whole grain dishes after cooking.
    • Try an olive spread on whole grain crackers. Whip up chopped olives, garlic and a little tomato paste in the blender.
Seafood

Fish fat naturally contains heart-healthy omega-3.

    • • Canned tuna and salmon are super-convenient. Flake some tuna or salmon on top of a green salad for a quick meal.
    • • Add frozen cooked shrimp and scallops to soups or pasta dishes.
    • • Use fish instead of chicken in some of your favorite dishes like tacos or one-dish meals.
    • Order fish more often in restaurants.
Avocado

Avocados are technically a fruit and a good source of monounsaturated fat. Here are a few of my favorite uses for avocado.

    • • Use mashed avocado as a substitute for mayonnaise in tuna salad or egg salad.
    • • Mash into guacamole with a little lime juice and salt; use cut veggies rather than chips for dipping.
    • • Try a few slices of avocado in an omelet, or on top of hard-boiled eggs.
    • Mix diced avocado, mango and red onion with a little lime juice and cilantro into a delicious salsa.