Staying on track, out of town.

Kendra2Earlier this fall, I traveled out of town for a few days on a business trip. I was excited, but also worried about staying aligned with my diet and fitness goals on the road. In the past, I haven’t been great about navigating or recovering from interruptions to my usual routine. This time, I spent some time packing and planning in advance.

Here’s what I did:

I packed multiple changes of workout clothes, and an alarm clock, which allowed me to grab a fresh set of clothes whenever I could squeeze in a few minutes at the hotel gym.

I packed a ton of healthy snacks, and tracked my calorie intake using an iPhone app. (I use MyFitnessPal.) On a business trip, you eat out a lot, and it can be hard to “guesstimate” an accurate entry for meals. By having healthy snacks to munch on during the day, I was able to keep my take-out meals (and the guesswork) to a minimum.

I brought my new MyZone 3 belt to track my workouts. By using the smartphone app to view my heart rate zone during my workout, I was able to make the best use of my limited workout time, just like when I’m at the Club.

I carried a water bottle to refill between work sessions to stay hydrated. This helped keep food cravings to a minimum, and kept me feeling great while I spent most of my day sitting in a seminar.

Sounds perfect, right? I am the queen of planning! I am a superhero and none shall put my forward momentum asunder! Still, the best laid plans can go awry, and I did learn some very important lessons. Here’s what I also could have done to set myself up for success.

Brought a lightweight exercise or yoga mat for my hotel room. I was surprised to find that the hotel gym was even smaller than my super-tiny hotel room. There was one elliptical machine, one recumbent bike, one treadmill, one rack of free weights, and not much room to swing a sweat towel, or even do some simply bodyweight exercises. Having extra cushioning for the floor in my hotel room would have helped me use that space for stretching, yoga, or a little core work.

Packed a bigger variety of healthy snacks, and more than I thought I needed. I brought enough to sustain me during my time out of town, but by the end of the trip, what I missed was choices. On my last day, I just didn’t feel like peanut butter chocolate chip protein bars anymore. I’d rather carry home a few uneaten snacks, but have enjoyed my snacks along the way, than get sick and tired of some of my favorites.

Penciled in workouts on my calendar for the days AFTER I returned. Sometime after I returned home, I was shocked when I realized that three days had passed without exercising. Even though I had kept myself on track pretty well during my trip, somehow that attention just flew out the window when I got back! I should have written a workout into my calendar for the days following, to ensure that making time for exercise was an intentional part of resuming my normal schedule.

Any other tips, Club Fitters? What has worked for you?

superhero

Fueling Your Workout

by Registered Dietitian, Kristen Klewen Kristin

As a Registered Dietitan at Club Fit, I frequently get asked, “What should I eat before and after a workout?” This question depends on the client, but there is some common knowledge I can share that apply pre- and post-workout nutrition when it comes to fueling your workout!

1. Don’t skip the carbohydrates!
• Carbohydrates are known as fuel for your “engine” (ex. Muscles). The harder you work your engine, the more carbohydrates you need.

2. How soon should you be eating before a workout?
As a general rule of thumb, it is best to not eat immediately before you workout, because while your muscles are trying to function, your stomach is simultaneously trying to digest the food. This competition of demands is a challenge for optimal performance. Eating too close to a workout may cause you to experience some GI discomfort while you train or play. Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food. Experiment and see what time frame works best for your body. If you’re a competitive athlete, this is something you need to explore during your training days and not during game day. Notice that each of the suggestions below includes protein and carbohydrate. We know that carbohydrates are fuel, and are a necessary part of our diet. Protein is what rebuilds and repairs, but also “primes the pump” to make the right amino acids available for your muscles. Getting protein and carbohydrates into your system is even more vital post workout.
• Below are some suggestions for pre-workout fuel:
– A peanut butter and banana or PBJ sandwich
– Greek yogurt with berries
– Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
– Apple and peanut or almond butter
– Handful of nuts and raisins (two parts raisins: one part nuts)

3. Post Workout Nutrition:
Your body uses stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles to power through your workout or game, but after that workout, you need to replenish the nutrients lost. What to do?
• As soon as possible post workout, get carbs and protein immediately into your body. This gives your muscles the ability to replenish the glycogen they just lost through training and helps your tired muscles rebuild and repair with the available protein and amino acids.
• I suggest fueling within 15 to 20 minutes post training with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate and protein for optimal muscle repair and recovery, eating a regular mixed meal 3 to 4 hours after.
• Post-workout meals include:
– Post-workout recovery smoothie (or post-workout smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit)
– Low-fat chocolate milk
– Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
– Yogurt with berries

4. Take Home Points
• Your body needs carbohydrates to fuel your working muscles.
• Protein is there to help build and repair.
• Get a combination of the two in your body 1 to 3 hours pre-workout and within 20 minutes or so post-workout.
• Never try anything new on race or game day!! It’s always best to experiment during training to learn what works best for your body.

Healthy advice from Dietitian Cathy DiSomma

Cathy DiSomma, Registered Dietitian and Health Specialist  at Club Fit Jefferson Valley

Cathy DiSomma, Registered Dietitian and Health Specialist at Club Fit Jefferson Valley

We often pick one approach over the other… exercise more so you can eat more, or eat less so you can exercise less. But a healthier approach, especially with the calorie-heavy, time-consuming holidays around the corner, is to balance your exercise and nutrition. They work together to get you optimal results, whether you are trying to lose weight or just maintain.

Just ask Cathy DiSomma, who joined the Club Fit Jefferson Valley staff this summer. Cathy, a Registered Dietitian, certified Dietitian-Nutritionist and American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health (ACSM) Fitness Specialist, is very excited to help our members out. She has an undergraduate degree in Food & Nutrition from Fordham University, and earned her Master’s degree in the same at Lehman College. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Westchester Community College.

Cathy will be playing an integral part in the club’s Healthy Holidays program, a new version of our popular Merry Maintenance program from past years. “I’ve already gotten very good input from the Club Fit members on what they are interested in, from a survey I put out for possible presentation topics, and interaction at informational tables and presentations,” says Cathy. “The topics we’ve come up with are very diverse, from food allergies to proper diet for athletes, healthy lunches, and post-cancer nutrition.”

Healthy Holidays will be a bit different from Merry Maintenance. There is no weigh-in or weigh-out, just a focus on maintaining healthy habits and keeping members moving during the holiday season. Cathy is working closely with Fitness Director Joelle Letta on weekly emails that will be sent to participants on topics such as maintaining a fitness routine, better food and drink choices, low calorie recipes, reducing holiday stress, and keeping up the motivation to stay on track.

According to Cathy, statistics show an average 5- to 6-pound weight gain through the holiday season. It starts with munching on Halloween candy, then Thanksgiving feasts, followed by Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan, Christmas, then the big finale, New Year’s. Some helpful topics Cathy wants to cover include how to approach holiday party food and drinks as a guest, how to offer healthy options if you are hosting, alternate recipes for high-calorie or high-fat dishes, and portion control. “People are very interested in portion control at this time of year. You don’t want to skip your favorites, but you don’t want to overdo it, either,” says Cathy.

“We felt the weigh-in and weigh-out process may have intimidated some people who were just interested in maintaining their weight through the holidays. What makes this program fun is that you can earn points for activities throughout the club, and for each 100 points you are entered into a raffle for great prizes rewarding your efforts,” says Cathy. No limit on entries!

Beyond Healthy Holidays, Cathy is enjoying working with the entire population at Club Fit. Even the staff members are using her as a resource. “Instructors and trainers have many questions that come to them from their clients,” says Cathy. “They want to be in the know on nutrition, so they can help our members separate fact from fallacy.” There is so much information out there that it can be confusing for everyone, even the professionals! “We can give them the real story.”

Outside of Club Fit, Cathy is also Fitness Director at Kendal on Hudson, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Sleepy Hollow, on the campus of Phelps Memorial Hospital. Her schedule is flexible, allowing her to also serve our Club Fit members, and she loves the combination of jobs because it allows her to work with people of all ages with a variety of needs. “I so enjoy working with the seniors at Kendal, but then I can mix up my day at Club Fit working with kids, athletes, and other seniors with other issues and questions.” She also notes that Kendal and Club Fit share many of the same values and practices, and Club Fit Briarcliff has shared space in the past with Kendal residents when they are in need of the pool. “Both are very community-oriented, and I’m proud to be a part of organizations that have that focus.”

Cathy, a resident of Ossining, loves the outdoors, and is an avid hiker and cyclist. She also loves Pilates, and is certified to teach but that has taken a back seat to her work helping others with fitness and nutrition. She is available evenings and weekends, but her schedule is flexible if those hours don’t suit your schedule. Cathy looks forward to hearing from you, and can be reached 914-245-4040, ext. 1214 or cdisomma@clubfit.com if you would like to set up a consult or would like more information on Healthy Holidays. “It’s great that the fitness and nutrition connection is finally coming full circle,” says Cathy. “Our goal at Club Fit is to help our members reach their goals, and by incorporating knowledge from both areas, we can do that!”

 

 

My Superhero Diet: Plant Power!

Homemade salad pizza. This is my life now - and it's delicious!

Like many of us, I have experimented with fad diets.  When you get swept up in large promises based on “new research”, it’s hard to remember that the one thing they all have in common is that they don’t work, or are only a temporary solution, and in some cases – dangerously unhealthy.  The disclaimer to “consult your physician” before beginning any diet or exercise program is serious business – but like many people, I never bothered.  Ten years ago, I fell for the fat-free fad, and ended up with some serious adverse health effects.  That was a wake-up call for me, and I knew that to start any weight-loss journey off on the right foot, I had to follow directions, and make an appointment with my doctor.

When I met with my physician, I laid it all out on the table.  I told her that my goal was to slowly and sustainably lose all of the extra weight I’m carrying, to prevent disease, and to be an active participant in my health, which meant I was looking for a manageable long-term eating plan.  She did a lot of research on my goals, my past conditions, and delivered a plan: no animal fats, no soy, no processed food, and no sugar.

Wow!  Four little “no”s that wiped out a lot of items.  Even the frozen veggie burger patties that I considered healthy alternatives were full of soy, and the ones that were soy-free are still heavily processed.  Most people are shocked when I tell them my diet, and ask me what on earth is possibly left to eat.  I tell them, lots!  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts – it doesn’t sound like much, but the possibilities are endless when you are informed and prepared.

Like any other major lifestyle changes, this diet requires a lot of planning to adhere to, and it really took me a number of months to find my groove.  Since I’m highly active, I have to count my protein intake carefully to make sure I’m getting what my body needs without packing in too many calories that might deter my weight loss efforts.  I have to have a well-stocked pantry, and shop frequently for fresh produce (which is a joy at this time of year), in order to be able to throw a meal together on the fly.  Sitting down once a week, browsing vegan recipes for inspiration, and making a specific shopping list help me keep from feeling lost for inspiration, and there are still some delicious and easy meals that are fast to make – like my homemade salad pizza pictured above.  It’s my favorite quick meal.

One thing is for certain – this diet is not for everyone.  I hope that you will learn from my past mistakes and speak with a doctor you trust (who knows your health history), if you are considering making any major changes to your diet.  That being said, it’s definitely healthy to indulge in a plant-based meal once in a while, and now that vegan diets are increasing in popularity, it’s easy to find inspiration.  Here is my favorite veggie burger recipe (homemade, not processed) from the Candle Cafe in NYC.  It’s fast, delicious, and family-friendly – I hope you enjoy it!

Do you have a favorite plant-based meal to share?

 

Why I bought a scale.

Me, one year after starting my fitness journey.

For a long time, I refused to own a scale.  Not because I was in denial about being overweight, or refusing to change, but because I associated my weight with very complicated feelings of self-worth.  Just the sight of a scale brought immediate flare-ups of guilt, and sometimes shame.  For years, I have excused myself from the practice of weighing myself regularly by rationalizing that those feelings could not possibly be healthy.  As long as I was in good health, why did I need to lose weight?

I have been overweight for my entire life.  As a child, I was among the tallest and the strongest in my age group, and always a bit on the heavy side.  My extraordinarily tall friends laugh when I tell them that I understand how they feel being a head taller than the rest of the world, but the truth is, I have never known what it’s like to feel small, even after all my classmates grew taller than me.  I was an athlete – a strong and fast swimmer – and I ate like one, especially on meet days.  My dietary habits formed at a time in my life when I exercised for hours a day – and later on, when my pursuits changed from athletic to artistic, my weight ballooned, and I didn’t see it – all because I was no stranger to being “big.”  So when my weight was criticized, I took it very personally because I thought it was just the way that I was.

When I started my health and fitness journey, around this time last year, I had to do some serious soul searching before I could even set foot in the gym.  I had to remind myself that it wasn’t about getting thin, it was about being healthy.  I didn’t start with a goal of losing weight, I only focused on improving my health by getting more exercise.  Of course, weight loss came in short order, especially after I made healthier changes to my diet.  When I felt my body changing, I got on a scale out of curiosity, and I saw that I had lost ten pounds since the last time I had been weighed at the doctor’s office.  For the first time, I realized that it is totally within my power to shed every pound of extra weight that’s keeping me from being as healthy as possible – but I couldn’t do that without a scale to measure my progress.  I had to face my fear head-on.

So I bought one.  My husband came with me, not knowing that he was accompanying me to a simultaneously painful and triumphant event.  I made it not a big deal.  We stopped at the store on our way to do something else, picked out one we liked, tossed it in the trunk, and went on our way.  Even while I was driving away, I was aware of that scale sitting in the trunk of my car, and what it meant for me: that there is no turning back.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I realized that just because it’s always been sunny, doesn’t mean it will never rain.  Obviously, being heavy did not cause my cancer, and I can’t control it by losing weight, but doing everything in my power to get as healthy as possible means that I’ll be stronger to fight it if it comes back.  While my cancer diagnosis has taken many things away from me, it has actually given me an incredibly powerful gift.  It has allowed me to move forward on my journey to good health, free from the guilt and shame that I associated with my body, my weight, and how I got to this point.  I have lost 30 pounds so far, and I’m still have at least 100 pounds to go.  It will not be fast, and it will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

NUTRIENTS & YOUR BRAIN


FOOD, MOOD, AND BEHAVIOR

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is

Infinite”


The adage goes “ You Are What You Eat”, but have you ever really thought about that. Many times this is quoted without a full understanding of how true it is. This saying is truly the foundation of who you are. By now, you have a general understanding of the impact nutrition has on your body physically, so now I will open your understanding of how nutrition can impact your mind.

The human brain is a fascinating organ that is studied in depth by scientist and people in the medical field, but it still remains a mystery. It is the organ in the body that has the most demand for energy and nutrients. It consumes twenty – thirty percent of the Calories of your basal metabolic rate but cannot store energy so it must be supplied by glucose. It is also the “main frame” that controls your desire to eat, and also to stop eating, by regulating certain physiological metabolic factors and substances.

Besides the physical attributes, there are also debates regarding the notion if the brain and intelligence are the same. One side believes they are, while the other believes the brain is merely a physical organ and intelligence is something science may never understand. Sure intelligence can be measured, but by tests that have been developed by us. Therefore, philosophically speaking, what are we measuring?

Why can some people analyze in depth concepts to their finite details, while others cannot? How can some people visualize something in their mind and replicate it in writing, a painting, or a song, while others cannot?  Can some people truly hear an inner voice and be more attuned to a different plain of existence? Why can some people see a vision or set a goal and never lose sight of it, while others give up quickly? Why are you sometimes in a good mood, and sometimes you are not? Are you happy, sad or angry? Can you remember things easily, or do you forget often? This area of wonder is fascinating to me, but is it to you?

The brain can be looked at as three separate areas of function: reflexive, skilled, and emotional/instinct. Different sections of the brain deal more specifically with each of these functions.

Fundamental units of the brain are the billions of neurons (nerve cells), which conduct actions for your thoughts, movements, feelings, and all the physical process that takes place in your body. These actions are a combination of electrical impulses or chemical transmission by substances called neurotransmitters. It is these neurotransmitters that interest me from a nutritional point of view.

Neurotransmitters are found in the synaptic vesicles (sacs) on the axon terminal section of the neuron. There have been hundreds of neurotransmitters identified each having different functions and tailored to fit at a receptor site of specific cells that are to receive their information or designated excitatory or inhibitory actions.

Answers to the questions posed above can be directly linked into specific neurotransmitter and hormonal substances, or the imbalances of them. Imbalances can occur from several different factors such as genetics, disease or illnesses, stress, drugs, alcoholism, or smoking.  But most often overlooked is nutritionally.  Poor nutrition can have a direct impact on many of the neurotransmitters because they are formed from their respective precursors, which are often amino acids. If you are not eating correctly, you can cause a mild or severe imbalance.

Have you ever gone more than a few hours without eating, and notice some irritability, mood change or difficulty in concentrating? This is a temporary mild imbalance. If poor nutrition habits are prolonged, it can lead to other deeper, more severe imbalances. This is why the brain has several mechanisms to get you to eat. Although I am discussing it from a nutritional perspective, please keep in mind that there are several major disorders which etiology is unknown.  Don’t falsely think they’re all nutrition related or corrected through improving dietary intake.

I will be discussing these key neurotransmitters in future blogs

Understanding Nutrition

THE GLYCEMIC RESPONSE:

 

 It is important for the body to maintain optimal blood glucose levels. As I have indicated, this is 80- 120 ml/dl of blood. If blood glucose level falls low you may become lethargic, irritable, extremely hungry and unable to think clearly. If glucose level rises to high, you may become very sleepy. Either instance is dangerous, and can cause severe consequences.

The body normally regulates your blood sugar levels by releasing two hormones secreted by the pancreas.  Insulin is secreted when blood sugar concentrations get to high, and Glucagon is secreted when blood sugar levels get too low. (Remember). Diabetes and Hypoglycemia are two conditions where glucose regulation is hindered.

Although our body regulates these responses, it is important for us to eat properly to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, and all body responses. Every cell in our body depends on glucose for fuel, especially the brain and nervous system, which I will discuss later.

So what can you do to maintain optimum levels? First, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. You should be eating approximately every 2½ hours. Second, when you do eat, make sure the meal or snack consists of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Fats slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.  Protein triggers the release of many important substances including glucagon, which hinders the effect of insulin. By adhering to these practices, you prevent fluctuations of blood sugar level and help prevent surges of glucose in the blood .You will also feel much better both physically and mentally.

There are times when an athlete may want a surge of blood sugar to get nutrients into the cells quickly. The prime opportunity for this is directly after exercise when the “window of opportunity’ is the best. More glucose and nutrients will replenish deleted

stores used during exercise. The longer you wait after exercise the less amount is restored. How does this translate into something useful? Well, the more glycogen and amino acids that are replenished quickly, the better your recovery and preparation for the next bout of exercise. You will notice increased strength and more energy.

The glycemic effect of food is in relation to our blood sugar and insulin response. It is the effect of how fast and how high blood sugar concentrations rise, and how quickly our body lowers the levels back to normal.

Some carbohydrate foods are rated very high on the Glycemic index. This is another reason why carbohydrate foods often targeted for propaganda and fad diet claims. On the contrary to many fad diets that advocate you should not consume carbohydrates or carbohydrates eliciting a high glycemic index rating, most of these provide an excellent source of nutrients, and are healthy for you.

It is believed that these carbohydrates provoke hunger, food cravings, and cause too much of a release of insulin which claim to promote fat storage. By following special eating patterns, and consuming lower carbohydrates they claim you will lose weight, and fool the body into producing the right amounts of insulin.

Generally, it is wise to choose foods with a low glycemic rating if they are going to be consumed alone, to achieve sustained energy. However, as I have stated earlier, the overall glycemic response of a food is influenced by other foods eaten at the meal.  Keep in mind, people take a little bit of validity, and manipulate others into believing.

 

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX:

 

The glycemic index is a physiological based method used to classify foods according to their response to raising blood glucose.

 

 

  • The index compares how rapidly carbohydrates are converted to blood sugar compared to glucose, which is 100 %.

 

  • The lower the rating, the less of a glycemic response.

 

 

  • The glycemic response of a food is not dependent upon the sugar content or the content of simple versus complex carbohydrate. Carrots eaten alone will increase insulin more than a candy bar with nuts.

 At present, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has not endorsed the glycemic index for patients with diabetes. The ADA recommends that people with diabetes moderate their carbohydrate intake to keep their blood sugar low, eat less fat, more fiber, and fewer calories to lose weight, rather than attempt to follow a glycemic correct diet. Weight loss alone can bring blood sugar down to healthy levels in type II diabetes.

                                  Glycemic Index Of Common Foods

 

100 %                         80-99%                       70-79%                       60-69%

Glucose                       Maltose                    Bread                         Brown Rice

                                    Parsnips                       Millet                          Bananas

                                    Carrots                        Potato                         Raisins

                                    Potato Chips               White Rice                  Mars Bars

                                    Corn Flakes                                                     White bread

                                    Honey

 

50-59%                       40-49%                       30-39%                       20-29%

Sucrose                     Oranges                       Apples                       Fructose

White spaghetti           Peas                             Ice Cream                 Kidney Beans

All Bran                      Navy Beans                 Most Meats                 Lentils

Yams                           Oats                           Most cheese               

Corn                                                                Yogurt

 

10-19%

Soy Beans

Peanuts

Adapted from Source: Jenkins, D.J.A., Lente carbohydrate: A newer approach to the dietary management of diabetes. Diabetes Care, 5:634, 1982: as adapted by ISSA Performance Nutrition: The complete guide, 1997.