Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Blood Pressure. The New Numbers

The guidelines for what's normal and what's high for blood pressure have changed.  With the new classifications 120-129 resting systolic blood pressure is a red flag meaning one has elevated blood pressure.  High blood pressure stage 1 is 130-139 for resting systolic or a resting diastolic of 80-89.  It goes on from there.

Exercise is key in helping to control blood pressure.  Studies tell us that as little as 30 minutes a day can make a favorable impression.

Along with exercise check out the DASH diet.  Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, dashdiet.org.  You will find a weight loss and vegetarian option of the DASH  as well.

If you need to lose weight and need a reason to do so here it is.  Excess weight can affect blood pressure.

Interestingly enough I have read that most Americans are not getting their excess sodium from the salt shaker but from processed foods and eating out. When grocery shopping look for the AHA heart check mark on the label giving  approval for sodium content as well as saturated fat and Trans Fat.  The AHA recommends 1500mg sodium daily as ideal.  That translates to about .75 teaspoon of salt.  Get out that set of measuring spoons and see how little that is.

If you are part of the group with normal blood pressure keep up the  good work.  If your numbers  are moving up  work hard with lifestyle changes now.

Resources:  AHA website; dashdiet.org

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Question: What Does It Cost You to Eat Healthy?

Every Month in my ACE Fitness Journal there is Question of the Month.  I don't often pay too much attention but this month I did and the response I sent in is printed below.

Do you think the price of healthy food is too high?  Do you base food-buying decisions on cost? What are some of the ways you eat healthfully without spending too much? What food policies could lessen the cost of nutritious foods?

"I do think the price of healthy food is too high.  Nine years ago my husband retired and we started food shopping together once a week with a list in hand and meal plans in mind.  We rarely go back during the week because we forgot something or didn't buy enough of a favorite item. Seldom do we eat out.  Nine years ago our weekly bill was about $95.00 (for the 2 of us) and today we are lucky to keep it under $180.00.  We are basically buying the same thing then and now.  I would like to buy all organic fruits and vegetables but the cost prohibits that.  I am a vegetarian.  My husband is not.  A couple of times a week we have "meatless" meals for him as well which helps keep the cost down.  I also pay close attention to expiration dates and "use before" dates to avoid any waste.  I hate to throw something out.  My husband is agreeable to eating one evening's leftovers the next day for lunch.  I make very good use of my freezer when I have extras that might spoil.  I take advantage of the local farmer's market when available but the cost there is not any less. I am not sure what policies we need to put in place but I do think as fitness professionals we should take every opportunity to educate."

Every time I grumble about the cost of food I think about the farmer who works before daylight to after sunset for me to have food on the table.  My friends who have gardens tell me that we are not charged enough for food we buy. This morning as I talked about  this with one of my groups  someone asked what I consider junk food. Thankfully someone interrupted because the answer falls under the category that one man's trash can be another man's treasure.

Resource: March ACE Fitness Journal

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

When You Think About Strokes Think...

My husband's doctor sent out a flyer last week to his patients entitled SPOT A STROKE F.A.S.T.  You can get the information yourself from the American Heart Association, but just in case you are having a busy day, here is a quick review of some important facts.

A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted.  Brain cells begin to die very fast. Medical treatment can save a lot of lives and lessen the effect for others.  So if you think you or someone you are with might be having a stroke remember F.A.S.T.

FACE DROOPING.  Is one side of the face lower or without feeling?  Check the mirror.

ARM WEAKNESS.  Is one arm weaker such that if both arms are lifted one is struggling?

SPEECH.  Is speech slurred or talking difficult?

TIME.  If any of these symptoms are evident call 9-1-1.  Fast.

Be aware of the risk factors for stroke.  Some are lifestyle (meaning we can change them) such as being overweight and inactive.  Some are medical risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history. There are others.  Remember it is your brain. This is not the time to wait.

Resources: The American Heart Association
Mayo Clinic website
National Stroke Association

Saturday, February 24, 2018


February is heart month.  So before it is gone, let's be aware of a few reminders from The American Heart Association.
  • Heart disease is the #1 killer of women.  I think most women would think it to be cancer.
  • Every 80 seconds one woman dies of cardiovascular disease.
  • 1 in 3 women is living with some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • 80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented.
The heart is an organ with cardiac muscle tissue about the size of both hands clasped together or some say the size of a fist.  We know of the heart's importance and yet many of us go through life never giving it a thought until we feel as if an elephant is sitting on the chest.  It beats about 100,000 times a day and pumps 1 and 1/2 gallons of blood each minute.  Talk about hard working without taking a break.

I understand that one's activity level or lack of is the greatest potential risk factor for heart disease. An inactive person has a much greater risk factor than an active person.  There are ways to improve your score such as quitting smoking if you do, managing cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Good nutrition will make a big difference as well.  Do you remember that "80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented"? In case you need to know, "regular exercise is the single most important key to heart health".  

I found one other interesting fact that touched my heart.  The first heart cell starts to beat as early as four weeks. Heartbeats are with us a long time.

Check out additional information using the resources below.
Resources:   The American Heart Association

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Liquid Calories

If you read my last post about SMART goals, you may have made one or two New Year's resolutions. If you made a specific, measurable, attainable goal about weight loss, this post might prove helpful.
Quite often the calories in beverages are ignored but without paying attention, they can add up quickly.

The Balanced Calories Initiative is an effort to lower calories in the American diet through the calories consumed in beverages.  Several major beverage companies, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper, have committed through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to offer beverages with low or no calories.  Coca-Cola offers 250 such beverages and Pepsi offers 129 with 40 calories or less.  If you like Coke, even a 6 ounce mini is a better option than a full size can or a bottle. I was once a die-hard diet coke fan so I am not beating you up or giving you an evil eye if you love soda.  Just be aware that the calories are real.  They count just as much as the ones you eat.  I have also read that such changes have been implemented at schools with vending machines carrying lower calorie options.

Lynn Kravit recently wrote, "recent findings submit that a key factor in dietary success is adherence to diet". So often when the word "diet" comes to mind it is in planning what we need to give up.  The list can become so long, filled with things we love to eat and drink, that failure weighs in long before success.

Remember the "A" in SMART.  A goal needs to be attainable.  So even if the favorite sugary beverage is not on the list to give up, buying a smaller size might be one step towards getting the results you want.

Resources: ACE Fitness Journal, January 2018, 50 Ways To Cut Calories by Len Kravitz, PHD
Website:  The American Beverage Association

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Resolutions

My husband, David, started his sermon this morning with some interesting facts about New Year's resolutions.  A survey of 300,000 people determined the top 10 resolutions for 2017.  It appears that 45% of Americans make one resolution or more and of those 75% let it go by the end of the first week. In 6 months only 45% of the remaining 25% stayed with the resolution.  Many people try and fail and keep trying with 17% succeeding after 6 attempts.  Of the top 10 resolutions the #1 resolution was weight loss/get in shape.  If you are considering a New Year's resolution consider the following:

#1.  Motivation is key.  Somewhere in your being discover your reason for a change.  Dig deep!

#2.  Write down your goal.  Without writing it down a goal is only a wish!

#3.  Remember SMART.  This acronym has lead many before you in the right direction.

  • A goal needs to be SPECIFIC to be attainable.  I want...
  • It needs to be MEASURABLE.  Decide how you will measure your success.
  • A goal needs to be ATTAINABLE.  Start small and don't set yourself up for failure.
  • RESULTS will be part of your success.  How will you recognize your results.
  • From day one establish your TIME frame.  Will it be 6 days or 6 weeks?

#4.  Think about  your coping strategies.  It will get tough.  What will you have in place to get over a rough patch?

#5.  Get support.  Don't try to do it alone. A good friend will help you stay on track as you tackle your challenge.

#6.  Perseverance.  Change is hard.  Hang in there!

Resources: www.hr.virginia.edu/uploads/documents/media/Writing_SMART_Goals.pdf

Monday, October 30, 2017


On a two or three year basis depending on the certification, personal trainers are required to re-certify to keep credentials up to date. For me that means a lot of reading and completing on-line studies and quizzes or webinars.  All in all it is something I enjoy and usually have more cecs than required since I find one more book I just have to read.  Recently I have been taking the ACE Fitness Nutritionist Specialist. Natalie Digate Mute is a wonderful presenter, well qualified being a Pediatrician, Dietitian among other things.  A lot of it has been review but even so it has been quite good. For instance, personal trainers can talk about supplements with clients, the pros and cons if there are any but can not recommend supplements.  We can help the client find answers to questions but the client needs to decide. The protein powder that I use almost every morning is a supplement and if asked about protein powder I can discuss the advantages, etc. even give out printed information from approved sources but not get any more detailed than that.  While I always thought it was OK to say "this is what I do", it is not.  A client might think "Well if it is okay for her it has to be good for me". Individuals need to decide on his/her own given adequate information. Actually making ones own plan with guidance from a professional is a plan for success.  It is quite often necessary to have a trainer or a mentor to lead you in the right direction whatever the cause may be, but long term success requires owning up and taking responsibility for yourself,

Resource:  ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist Program