Archive for December, 2010

If you are anything like me, as hard as you tried, you still put on a couple of extra pounds over the holiday season.  It is now time to hit the gym.  How do you know what fitness plan is right for you?  The best plan is one that fits your lifestyle, age and ability, keeps you motivated and helps you burn calories.

Should you join a gym or a fitness center? The hardest part of any exercise plan is getting started.  Exercise can be done anywhere.  However, there are benefits to joining a fitness center.

  • Offer a variety of activities – many have different machines for using different types of muscles, may have a running track and a swimming pool.
  • Motivation through a support system of being with other people, you may even join with a friend or relative.
  • Paying a fee may be the motivation you need to keep going.
  • An experienced trainer or instructor for individual or class instruction.

You may choose to work out at home.  Do you have a gaming system that has some type of exercise games?  Do you have a treadmill, bench press, free weights or a nice space in your home to work out? Exercise does not have to be expensive.  There are many simple exercises that you can do on your own.  The best plan though, is one that incorporates cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises.

  • Cardiovascular exercise increases the work of your heart and lungs.  Exercises such as walking, running or playing tennis.
  • Strength Training helps burn fat and build lean muscle.  Fitness centers have weight machines for strength training, but you can do the same thing at home with free weights.  Choose exercises which work different parts of your body.
  • Stretching helps increase your flexibility and also keeps you from hurting your muscles.  It is important to stretch before and after exercise.

Whatever you decide, start today and try to maintain a routine of getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity everyday!

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Source:  Exercise and Fitness Centers Not a Puzzle, Live Healthy Live Well Series, Ohio State University Extension.


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Did you know that women are 6 times as likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer? 

Heart diease kills more women over 65 than do all cancers combined. 

The symptoms of heart disease in women can be different and may trick the woman into thinking it is not serious.   These symptoms are not always as severe for women and we may ignore them.  You may have heard of a woman who had neck & shoulder pain that wouldn’t quit so she drove herself to the ER.   Women are more likely than men to have signs and sypmtoms unrelated to chest pain.  Heart Attack Symptoms for Women may include:

  • Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Unusual fatigue

**** Remember to call 911 if you have syptoms.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  Do NOT drive yourself to the emergency room. 


  • Eat a diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol & salt
  • Eat more fruits & vegetables
  • Get regular health screenings including Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels
  • Exercise 30-60 minutes a day on most days of the week
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products

If you are having any of the symptoms, discuss this with your doctor.  Even if you think they are mild, it is important to tell your doctor about your concerns. 

2011 is right around the corner— this is a great time to set a healthy living goal.  If you don’t know your cholesterol numbers, find out.  If you need a physical exam, now is the time to schedule the visit.  Set a goal to eat more fruits & veggies.  Start a physical activity you enjoy.  If you’ve always wanted to stop smoking, make 2011 the year. 

Remember that it is easiest to change one health habit at a time.  Give yourself time to adjust to the new habit and continue working to improve your lifestyle.  Make it fun and a family activity.  Everyone will benefit from a few simple changes.  Make today the beginning of a new journey as you start on the road to health!!

Source:  Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease

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This is a great time to be teaching and involved in nutrition education. Foods and beverages are being shown to help our bodies fend off certain diseases and boost our bodies’ immune system beyond just providing calories and energy.  A balanced diet can help lower cholesterol which may reduce the risk of heart disease. The foods often known as powerhouse food can also help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Below are just a few of those powerhouse foods with their benefits:

The first of these foods would be beans.  This would include pinto, kidney, white, and black beans.They contain soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fibers help lower cholesterol while the insoluble type helps aid the body of waste.  Beans are low fat and a good source of protein, carbohydrate, magnesium, and potassium.

Another powerhouse food is the tomato. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene which is an antioxidant. Consider tomatoes in many forms such as sauce, soup, and catsup too. They may reduce the risk of breast, lung, and prostrate cancer. They may also help protect the heart.

The next food is the berry. Berries are packed with antioxidants. They are high in both Potassium and Vitamin C.  They have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and act as an anti-inflammatory. This includes all types of berries.

Tea, both black and green, is another powerhouse item. Tea has polyphenols and antioxidants that may help with premature aging.

Although this is only a partial listing of a few of the powerhouse foods, it gives one a place to start when shopping and planning meals. Consider purchasing these foods and beverages while improving your health with every purchase.

Author: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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Ok – raise your hand if you get 7.5 hours of sleep every night? I know you can’t raise your hand – but I’m sure most of you are like me and rarely get anything close to that. And the holidays make that even worse – I’m going to wrap one more gift, do one more load of wash, finish decorating the cookies, or get this one last gift ordered on-line. Research does show that if you aren’t getting enough sleep you are more likely to gain weight, and by getting adequate sleep you will likely start to drop extra pounds. Web MD and many other sources tell us that those of us who are sleep deprived likely have a slower metabolism – so our body is burning fewer calories than others. Sleep deprivation may affect the way our body stores and burns carbohydrates – resulting in weight gain.

So how can we either get more sleep or a better night of sleep? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Avoid caffeine 6 hours before you go to bed – caffeine is a stimulant that can impact sleep for up to 6 hours. So most of us should avoid soft drinks and another cup of coffee after about 5:00 pm.
  • Avoid spicy or overly rich foods close to bed time that may cause heart burn.
  • Don’t watch TV or use your lap top in your bedroom they stimulate your brain.
  • Gradually move your bed-time up to get more sleep. Try going to bed 10 or 15 minutes earlier for a couple days, if you are still tired, move it up again.
  • Exercise – it will make you more tired, but try to do it earlier in the day. Some people find exercise close to bed time keeps them awake.
  • Try kicking your pets out of your bed for a couple nights – there is evidence to support that for some people pets in their bed make disturb sleep.
  • Make sure your room is the right temperature, not too hot or cold, and outside lights or bright night-lights aren’t bothering you.

Another sleep tip – sleep loss may result in moodiness, impatience, and irritability. Who needs more of that during the busy holiday season?

Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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 We are rolling into the most festive time of the year. And that means all those tempting delights that we all enjoy making and sharing puts our appetite into high gear.  Weight gained during the six-week holiday period accounts for most of a person’s total weight gain over a year’s time! 

 You can make your favorite holiday foods with fewer calories and without sacrificing taste!  Try these easy ingredient substitutions and reduce some extra calories in our favorite holiday recipes.


  • In place of regular cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise or salad dressing in your dip, cheese ball or cheesecake, use low fat or fat free products. 
  • Low fat yogurt can also be substituted for sour cream in some recipes.  Consider that 1 cup of sour cream = 495 calories while 1 cup low fat yogurt has just 145 calories!
  • Use skim milk in your creamed dishes and soups.  For more consistency try evaporated skim milk as a replacement for cream.
  • Choose low fat cheeses on your appetizer tray and in recipes.
  • Purchase low fat or fat free whipped toppings and Half and Half


  • Reduce sugar by ¼ in baked goods and desserts.  If your recipe calls for 1 cup, use 3/4 of a cup.  That saves nearly 200 calories!

  • Replace part or all of the sugar with sucralose (Splenda granular).  You may need to reduce baking time slightly.   Other sweeteners work well for desserts that are not baked. 
  • Choose sugar free gelatins, puddings and beverages.

 Combining these simple changes along with sensible portion control can help you curb weight gain over the holiday season.

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