Archive for January, 2011

Have you joined the Zumba fitness craze? I have to admit that I haven’t, although I have tried it a couple times when I have been at conferences with Zumba offered as a fitness break. My sister-in-law loves the Zumba program and goes about four times a week to classes, as well as participating in Zumba weekend fund-raisers. So if you haven’t tried it – what is it??

The Zumba program is Latin-inspired dance fitness that combines fast and slow rhythms with international music. WebMD tells us that a benefit of Zumba fitness over other dance style classes is that it focuses on only 4 or 5 steps per song that are repeated over and over. So it is easier to learn and you can be a beginner and not feel intimidated by someone who has been coming for a while. Like most cardiovascular workout programs – Zumba classes burn calories, can decrease your blood pressure and body fat, increases stamina and bone density, and can improve your balance and muscular tone. You can tone your legs, arms, abdomen, and gluts.

One of the great benefits of the Zumba program is the social aspect. Instructors often use a party atmosphere to make the classes fun and participants find that they forget they are exercising. I think this is one of the things that my sister-in-law loves about the Zumba program.

Classes can be found almost anyplace. To find the one closest to you go to http://search.zumba.com/classes/ and enter your zip code or the name of a nearby community. I found them listed at:

  • Fitness Centers
  • YMCA’s
  • Library’s
  • Community Centers
  • Senior Centers
  • VFW’s
  • Hospitals
  • Dance Schools
  • Public Schools
  • Almost anyplace

There is also a program called Zumba Gold that is targeted to older adults or those who are just getting back into exercise. Some of these classes may also offer an armchair version.

Once you find a class close by that you want to try – it is important to wear comfortable clothing and good exercise shoes, and bring a bottle of water, a small towel, and lots of energy.

So – what is your excuse for not trying a Zumba program or another new style of exercise? I promise that one of these times I will go to Zumba fitness when my sister-in-law asks who wants to go with her this week. After all, if my 12-year-old daughter can do it, why can’t I??

Note: This message is not intended as endorsement of this product by The Ohio State University or Ohio State University Extension, merely as a means to inform about a newer fitness program. Zumba® is a registered company; there are also fitness programs that offer similar workouts that may be called Latin Dance Classes or Latin Dance Fitness. To offer Zumba an instructor must have been trained with the Zumba Company.




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


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The message is simple: Move More and Eat Less!   

Why not take the pledge today?  By making just 2 small daily changes you can start on the road to improving your health!   Take 2,000 more steps over baseline–about 1 mile–and eat 100 fewer calories– by eating smarter.

Walking is a daily activity that most people can do. It is a good way to increase physical activity, yet is not physically difficult nor take a lot of extra time.  And it requires no special equipment other than a good pair of shoes.  To track your progress, wear a step counter for a minimum of 3 days in a row (preferably for 1 week), with at least one of the days being a day off (e.g., weekend, day off work).

• Put on the step counter after getting dressed in the morning and wear it all day.

• Be sure to reset the step counter at the beginning of each day.

• Record the number of steps taken at the end of each day.

• Try to engage in your usual activities rather than add activity to your usual routine for the first week– this is your baseline. Then try to increase your baseline activity by 2,000 steps each day.

The average American adult gains 1-3 pounds each year. Eating smarter with 100 fewer calories a day can benefit overall health and prevent that extra weight gain.

Check out the America On the Move website for information, support, and tracking options: www.americaonthemove.org

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3 a Day for Bone Health and Healthy Weight

Dairy’s Unique Nutrient Combination
Searching for more nutrients? Look no further than low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt. Together, they pack a powerful nutritional punch:
• Calcium
• Potassium
• Phosphorus
• Protein,
• Vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin (niacin equivalents).
Dairy Foods and Healthy Weight
A growing body of research shows that, as part of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet, three daily servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt may help maintain a healthy weight.
How can you get 3 servings a day of low or non-fat calcium rich foods?

Some ideas that may work to add more calcium- rich foods to your diet:
Enjoy low or non-fat milk with your whole grain breakfast cereal.
Snack on a non-fat yogurt when you get hungry in the mid-morning or afternoon.
Add a non-fat yogurt to your packed lunch. It makes a nice addition and with so many flavors available, you won’t get tired of one or two flavors.
Add reduced fat cheese to your salad or sandwich.
Drink a glass of skim milk with lunch or dinner.
Make a non-fat yogurt parfait for dessert. Simply layer non-fat yogurt, fresh fruit such as berries or banana and top with a small amount of low fat granola.

Here is a tasty recipe idea from the National Dairy Council website.

Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip

Makes 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
• 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
• 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
• 1 (8-ounce) container low-fat plain yogurt
• 1 cup shredded part-skim, low-moisture Mozzarella cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped green onion
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper
Combine all ingredients except red pepper and mix well. Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and sprinkle with red peppers. Serve with toasted bread or whole grain crackers.
Recipe created by 3-Every-Day™ of Dairy.
Nutritional Facts
Calories: 80
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Sodium: 220 mg
Calcium: 20% Daily Value
Protein: 8 g Carbohydrates: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Source: http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org

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Diets by nature are not sustainable.  Diets don’t work well for a long term solution. People need to resolve to adopt a healthier life style.  Begin by writing down all your strengths and weaknesses. Work on changing one weakness every week or two.  Make small changes, for example, if you drink soda try to decrease the number of sodas by one half and replace them with water, ice tea, or a diet version.  Continue working towards decreasing the number week by week.

So what else can you do to create a version of a healthier diet?

Start with a good home environment. Do you have leftover Christmas cookies or unprocessed fresh or frozen foods in the kitchen now?

Your most important meal is a good breakfast.  Include some fruit, yogurt, protein, oatmeal, or whole grain toast with peanut butter.

Mini meals are often better than large meals.  Blood sugars don’t drop as much and you don’t get as hungry and overeat at the next meal.

Eat fewer processed foods and more fresh or frozen foods.vegetables&fruits2

Eat plant based protein such as beans and seeds for one meal each week, while cutting back on red meats.

Aim for five fruits and vegetables each day.  Try to increase the deep rich colors, oranges, reds, and greens. Be sure to shop for seasonal vegetables and fruits.

Watch invisible calories from coffee drinks and sodas.  Work for a goal of non-caloric beverages or low fat dairy.

Increase fiber by including more whole grains, popcorn, brown rice, and whole wheat bread and pastas.

Have a dinner plan to avoid fast foods. Crock pots work great for planned ready meals when you arrive home.

Setting goals and working on one change at a time really helps you stay the course.  Everyone has different habits and preferences, find changes that work for you. Moderation and lifestyle changes will lead you to a healthier lifestyle.

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

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Making healthy choices in what we choose to drink is a giant step toward a healthy diet.   However, in American our consumption of soft-drinks has increased almost 500 percent over the past 50 years.   When you drink non-diet soda you take in more calories than those who do not.  Non-diet soda accounts for almost half (46%) of the total amount of sugar in the diet.   Since most 12 ounce cans of soda contain 150 calories, one soda a day could lead to weight gain of 15 pounds in one year increasing your risk of becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.

Sports drinks have become popular with children and teens.  They tend to have less added sweetener and fewer calories, but were developed for people who were doing high intensity physical activity for 90 minutes or more.  Since the activity level of most youth and adults is not that intense water is a better choice to drink.
When choosing drinks try these tips:

  • Make water your first choice and help your children learn to enjoy drinking water. *
  • Make soft drinks a “sometimes” beverage to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Remember soft drinks include fruit-ades, fruit drinks, lemonade, energy drinks, sweet tea, and sports drinks. *
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for easy access. *
  • Add lemon, lime, other fruit, or a splash of juice to water. *

*from http://www.extension.org/pages/Rethink_Your_Drink

So what is our best choice to quench our thirst?  As you have guessed water is the best choice.  No calories, no problems for our teeth, no caffeine, and it is what our body really needs. Enjoy a glass of cool water!

Reference:  http://www.extension.org/pages/Rethink_Your_Drink

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Most of us remember some of the diet trends from the past few years – the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, or low-carbohydrate/high protein diet.  These diets are like most other fads:  they’re popular for a short amount of time and then disappear.   If they were more effective at helping people lose weight, they probably wouldn’t fade so quickly from the public eye.

One of the most popular food trends in 2010 was the gluten-free diet.  With endorsements from celebrities, movie stars and television personalities, it’s easy to understand why sales from gluten-free products have more than doubled during the past few years.  But what is a gluten-free diet, and does it help a person lose weight?

Gluten is a protein found in foods such as wheat, barley, and rye.  For people who have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is necessary since gluten may damage their intestine.  Food product labels must be read with caution since gluten comes in different forms.  It is frequently used as a food additive and is found in several foods including soups, condiments and baked goods.  Many food products that don’t originally contain gluten may also be “cross-contaminated” during the manufacturing process with foods that do contain gluten.

Although the evidence has not shown that eating a gluten-free diet has health benefits, individuals who follow the diet claim to feel better and have more energy.  However,  individuals who eliminate gluten from their diet and expect to lose weight may be surprised to learn that gluten-free foods are not always lower in fat or calories; in fact they may be higher in one or both!

Trying to assess weight-loss plans can be confusing and overwhelming.  With conflicting information from various sources, there may not be an easy way to determine if a diet will work.  When evaluating the latest diet trends, consider the following  information:

  • Does the plan eliminate food groups?

Avoid any plan that restricts eating foods from an entire food group.  You’ll miss out on important nutrients.

  • Does it promise quick weight-loss?

A healthy weight goal is no more than ½ to 1 pounds per week.  Losing weight too quickly usually results in muscle and water loss.

  • Does it recommend physical activity?

Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle!

Source:  American Dietetic Association; National Institutes of Health. 

Author:   Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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Many adults have the habit of taking on too many tasks at once. Adults find themselves struggling to find the time to balance needed free time with daily tasks. Not only are they juggling their role of the wife, mother, father, caregiver, and adult, but also as a community member and worker.
Seventy-five per cent of all Americans report experiencing physical symptoms as a result of stress. Stress negatively impacts: emotional well-being, physical health, job satisfaction, relationships with partners, social life. Stress can actually make you physically ill.

How do you cope with stress? Many Americans engage in unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating, poor diet choices, smoking and inactivity to help deal with stress. Some positive actions that can help relieve stress include take time for yourself, maintain a balanced diet, give your mind some time to relax. Don’t take on more than you can handle! Say NO to extra commitments!!
Identify your body’s reaction to stress, figure out ways to cope with stress and live a happier and healthier life.
Amarapurkar, S. & Danes, S. (2005). Farm Business Owning Couples: Interrelationships Among Business Tensions, Relationship Conflict Quality, and Spousal Satisfaction. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Vol. 26(3), 419-441.

American Psychological Association. 2007. Stress in America.

Making healthy food choices

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