Thursday, August 27, 2009

We’re headed in the wrong direction on this one.

Yes, we’re in the wellness business, and yes, this is our Blog. So, it will come as no surprise that we’re going to talk about wellness—and what we can all do about it on a personal level. To do this, we’re going to also have to talk about a pretty scary forecast. A study in the journal Obesity reports that in just over 20 years “the vast majority of Americans will be overweight or obese.”

Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows about 66 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Dr. Youfa Wang, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and author of the study says by 2030 that number will rise to 86 percent. If this prediction turns out to be on target, Wang and his colleagues estimate the additional overweight and obesity would add up to between $860 billion and $956 billion per year in health expenditures to treat these and the accompanying related chronic conditions (up from $147 billion in 2008). And this means $1 of every $6 spent on health care would be spent as a result of overweight and obesity.

We eat more, we move less—and so do our children. The average American eats 50 pounds more meat and 20 pounds more cheese per year than they did in the 1960s. Nearly half of all American adults (4 in 10) report they are not active at all. Obesity has tripled among teens in the last 20 years. Nationally, obesity rates have nearly quintupled among 6 –to 11- year olds and tripled among children ages 2 to 5 since the 1970s. And, the doubling of obesity between 1987 and today accounts for 20 to 30 percent of the rise in health care spending.

Now, what might happen if we use this information to focus on how we can change those behaviors that got us to this point, to those that promote health and long-term wellness? Like we say when we address groups of employees or individual LoneStart Wellness participants, “Modest but meaningful changes lead to long-term and sustainable weight loss and wellness.” And just a few modest behavior changes can dramatically improve our collective health. We also point out that what we’re talking about is making “lifestyle changes that change lives.”

Predictions are possibilities—not guarantees. Will the forecast ring true? Will we do anything to keep it from happening? Will we finally take control of our own health?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ah, Rats!

Fatty Foods. We know two things—many fatty foods are really tasty, and they’re really bad for us. Now, we know even more—eating fatty food seems to take a toll on short-term memory and exercise performance. We learned this from a study using rats, reported in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

The study found that a fatty diet affected the brains and bodies of rats in just a few days, even before the extra pounds showed up. The theory is that a high-fat diet can trigger insulin resistance, so the body becomes less efficient at using the blood sugar (glucose) that’s important to brain function. The effects on exercise efficiency were thought to be due to the body’s reaction to high fat content in the blood by releasing certain proteins that make metabolism less efficient, thereby making muscles less efficient at using oxygen and fuel to create energy.

The study’s lead author, Andrew Murray, a lecturer in physiology at Cambridge University, said researchers also performed similar tests on healthy humans, and that the short-term effect of a fatty diet on humans “appears to be similar to that found in the rat studies.” Dr. Murray goes on to say that the impact of these findings is particularly relevant to those people who don’t worry about occasional binging on fatty foods—because they are physically active and exercise regularly. Evidently, that’s not good enough to ward off the short-term evils of a high-fat diet.

So, here’s the question. We’re all in this “rat race” together. Why would we want to deliberately limit our potential and performance?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Small Changes Add Up to Big Results

This isn’t huge news, but changes don’t always have to be big to result in significant improvement. On one level it’s about specifics, on another, it’s part of a belief system that gets to core values.

Sometimes there are simple things we can all do that make big differences in our own health and wellness—and yes, weight loss. Becoming just “a little more” physically active. Watching liquid calories. (We’ve posted on these before.)

This isn’t one of those thought-provoking, doesn’t it make you mad, did you know posts. We just want to share some information from LoneStart Wellness that can lead to some of these “wellness” changes—changes resulting from something as simple as recipe modifications.

The goal is to decrease calories and fats without sacrificing texture and taste, using simple techniques such as: When reducing salt in a recipe, enhancing the flavor with herbs and spices;

liquid oils can usually be reduced, so make-up the difference with other liquids such as broth, water, skim milk or low fat milk. And, in many recipes, butter and margarine can be replaced with healthy oils like grape seed, canola and olive oil.

Following are simple modifications to make your recipes heart healthier:

  • Instead of 1 whole egg—use 2 egg whites
  • Instead of bacon—try Canadian bacon
  • Instead of ground beef—try ground turkey
  • Instead of chicken with skin—remove the skin before cooking
  • Instead of sour cream—try plain nonfat or low fat yogurt or reduced fat or no fat sour cream
  • Instead of cheddar cheese—use extra-sharp cheddar but one-third the amount
  • Instead of whipped cream—chill evaporated skim milk until almost frozen and then whip
  • Instead of ½ cup shortening try 1/3-cup canola or olive oil (may not work in baking)
  • When using prepared condensed cream soups—use 99 percent fat-free condensed soup
  • When a recipe calls for sugar—you can usually cut it by at least one-fourth and not lose any of the sweetness

Each of these in and of itself isn’t a big deal. Together, and over time, they can become a big deal. If we look, we can all find ways to become more mindful of the choices we make—can’t we?