Nov 15

How to enter recipes on MyFitnessPal

Apr 22

O Dream Board: Envision Your Best Life™ –

O Dream Board: Envision Your Best Life™ –


People have created vision boards for years using images from magazines on corkboards or posterboards but they weren’t very portable. Since many of us spend our days on the computer, create your own O Dream Board to serve as a daily reminder of your aspirations and what you want your life to be.

What do you want in your life? What images represent your dreams? What words inspire you to move forward? Capture them with O Dream Board. Get clear about your goals, your hopes and your vision for your life. Make the connection to turn your dreams into reality every day.

The new O Dream Board is a free web-based application available to all members and easy to share with your friends. So dream it. See it. Share it. Achieve it. And repeat. Start living you best life now!

If you’re already a member of, you’ll be asked to login to get started. If you’re not a member of yet, you’ll be asked to join.

With O Dream Board you can:
Upload photos from your computer
Choose from our photo library featuring images by our partner Getty Images
Write inspirational quotes, words and actions
Change your O Dream Board as you change
Keep track of your life’s journey with an archive of your past O Dream Boards
Save image jpgs to your desktop
Share your O Dream Board with your family and friends
Published on May 03, 2010

Apr 09

People Underestimate Daily Food Choices

People Underestimate Daily Food Choices

How much time during the day are you mindful of food choices? Most people estimate that, on average, they make about 15 food- and beverage-related decisions each day. But one researcher says we make more than 15 times that  more than 200 such decisions.

Commenting on his new study, Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell, observed, “So many food decisions are made on mindless autopilot.” The problem with making so many more food decisions than we are aware of, he said, is that “each of these small decisions is a point where a person can be unknowingly influenced by environmental cues.” The study is published in the January issue of Environment and Behavior.

When Wansink and Jeffery Sobal, Cornell professor or nutritional sciences, asked 139 university staff and students to estimate how many decisions they make about food each day, the average response was 15. However, when the volunteers then answered specific questions about when, what, how much and where they ate and who made decisions about meals, snacks and beverages, the researchers found that the staffers and students actually made an average of 221 food-related decisions each day.

“It’s really easier than we think to let small things around us plate size, package size, people around us, distractions  influence these 200-plus decisions because we are not aware of them in the first place,” said Wansink. “Rather than try to overly obsess about our food decisions, it’s better to change the environment so that it works for us rather than against us, making it easier to make decisions to eat less,” suggested Wansink, who offered the following mindful tips to pass along to clients:

* Use smaller bowls. People who served themselves foods into smaller serving bowls ate almost 60% less than when they are served helpings in larger bowls.
* See it before you eat it. Avoid eating directly from the package. People served a snack mix in a bowl ate 134 fewer calories than those eating straight from the bag.
* Bank your calories. Skip the appetizers if you know you want to save room and enjoy the upcoming dessert. You’ll also be more accurate at estimating the number of calories you consumed.
* Sit next to the slowest eater at the table: Use that person as a benchmark as to how slow you should eat. Always be the last one to start eating, and set your fork down after every bite.
* Embrace your comfort food: Don’t eat around the food you really want. Just eat it in a small portion.
* To eat less without having to think about it, use the rule of two: Pick two of the following three: appetizer, a drink or a dessert.
* Use the “half” rule of thumb: Fill half your plate with vegetables, the other half with protein and starch.
* Think “back.” Keep tempting treats in the back of the cupboard or refrigerator wrapped in aluminum foil. Office workers ate 23% less candy (around 50 calories) when it was in an opaque covered candy dish than a see-through dish.
* Always sit at least an arm’s length away from a buffet table or snack bowl.

For the latest research, statistics, sample classes, and more, “Like” IDEA on Facebook here.

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved.

via People Underestimate Daily Food Choices.

Apr 04

Detox Diets: Myths vs. Reality

Detox Diets: Myths vs. Reality.

health fitness

Detox Diets: Myths Vs. Reality

Nutrition: What You Should Know About Cleanses and Juice Fasts.

Catherine Towers forked over $1,000 for a physician-supervised “detox.”

“I felt that I needed a drastic change,” says Towers, a brand-marketing consultant in New York City. “Slow weight loss from trying to eat better is uninspiring, so a detox plan was more appealing.”

The fee included a doctor’s visit, nutrient supplements, and protein and fiber powders. For 4 weeks she ate a “clean” lunch of fish and veggies, and drank juices and protein/fiber smoothies at all other meals. “My skin looked amazing, and I lost 10 pounds,” Towers recalls. She admits that after returning to her poor eating and drinking habits, she gained back more than she had lost and is now 20 pounds overweight.

It seems as if everyone has tried a detox diet these days. Although regimens vary, they generally entail a juice fast lasting days or weeks and often include a “cleanse” with limited food and/or “detoxifying” supplements. Serving up a small allotment of calories can produce dramatic weight loss, which makes detoxing tempting to typical dieters.

But what’s unique about this eating (or rather, noneating) trend is that it’s also attracting people not trying to lose weight—normal-weight and fit people. That’s because these fasts are billed as a way to improve health by removing impurities from the body. Many of the juice regimens, like The Gerson Therapy and the Reboot Your Life program seen in the film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, purport to cure chronic health conditions and diseases like cancer. All this gives detox diets more street cred than the typical fad diet.

But are they as scientific as they sound?

“Extreme detox diets are not nutritionally balanced,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, a Maryland-based medical doctor and registered dietitian. Even diets that incorporate a meal or smoothie can have too few calories, especially if you exercise while on them. The risks are considerable.

“When you’re not getting enough protein or calories, you can lose muscle mass and experience dangerously low blood sugar, which can cause you to pass out and create electrolyte imbalances that, in extreme cases, can lead to a heart attack,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RD, CDN, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who has a private nutrition-consulting practice in New York City.

Of course, not all detox diets go for the starvation approach. Some take a more sensible route, providing juices or supplemented shakes with adequate calories (around 1,200 per day) and protein. “As long as you’re healthy and only follow [a diet like this] for a few days, you will probably lose a few pounds, [but] it’s doubtful that you are going to cure a disease,” says Cohn.

In other words, it’s true that these exercises in portion control can produce weight loss. But the bigger question is whether a detox diet truly “de-toxes.” These diets are said to be able to cleanse the liver and flush the body of toxins, but do they?

What Is a Toxin?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a toxin as “a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism.” Venomous snakes and the bacteria that cause life-threatening botulism (the same stuff in Botox® that gets injected into furrowed brows) produce bona fide toxins. Of course, detox diets are not clearing out snake venom.

In the context of alternative health treatments, toxin is a vaguer term, usually referring to substances alleged to cause health problems. Toxins might include pollutants, pesticides, chemicals or anything else deemed “unnatural” or unhealthy. Sugar is often considered a toxin, even though forms of sugar (juice and maple syrup) are used to detoxify.

What Is Detoxing?

Removing poisons from the body is a seductive idea, but much like the word natural, the term detox is so overused that it can mean just about anything.

Detoxification is an established medical treatment—for helping drug addicts and alcoholics make it through withdrawal. A medical detox can also reduce a buildup of heavy metals, like iron or mercury, or treat a genetic disease that impairs the absorption of copper. Chelation therapy uses a substance that chemically binds with a specific metal to remove excesses from the body. In each case, the treatment targets a specific toxin to be removed.

“But when it comes to dieting, there is no real scientific basis for detoxing,” says Gerbstadt, author of Doctor’s Detox Diet (Nutronics Publishing 2012), a clean-eating plan in which she tries to salvage and redefine the term. A quick Medline® search of peer-reviewed medical journals shows no studies proving that a diet can “cleanse” or “detoxify” the body.

“Detox diets are created by people with products or books to sell, but this is not a legitimate medical treatment,” says Carla Wolper, EdD, RD, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of eating disorders research at Columbia University in New York City.

One of the big problems is that it’s usually unclear what exactly is being detoxed. In 2009, a group of British scientists collaborated to research the claims behind a number of products that claimed to detox. In their “Detox Dossier,” the chemists, biologists and physicists concluded that the term detox was a myth and that “many claims about how the body works that were made when marketing products were wrong and some were even dangerous.” The report noted that little to no evidence was provided to back up most product detox claims (VoYS 2009).

Selling the Idea of Toxic Bodies

Of course, a lack of scientific evidence does not deter the marketers of diets or the people who try them. And the idea that the body is polluted is not new: Back in the 1990s, products alleged that cellulite (fat just under the skin) was toxin-filled sludge that could be removed by special diets or treatments such as brushing one’s skin. With today’s diets, those selling detox can often make a very compelling case. In a recent television exchange, former sitcom star Suzanne Somers, who sells alternative health books and supplements, interviewed Andrew Weil, MD, a medical doctor who also sells alternative health books and supplements. Weil noted, “There is a tremendous amount of toxicity in the environment . . . in many cases, the effects are unknown. But . . . if we don’t have all the evidence in, let’s err on the side of caution and take precautions.” Somers added, “We are exposed to, they say, 80,000 toxins on a regular basis, 200 toxins while we do our morning ritual . . .” (What are these toxins, who says we have them, and what evidence supports the claims? She did not say.)

Are our bodies really polluted with toxins? “If you are not sick, then you probably do not have dangerous toxins in you,” says Wolper. “Even if you are sick, it may not be because you have toxins.” There is no denying we are exposed to environmental pollutants, chemicals in water and processed foods, hormones from animal foods, and pesticides from plant foods, but it’s not clear in many cases if normal exposures are truly harmful. Furthermore, it’s difficult to know whether the body’s own detox systems—like the liver—are so inadequate that they need help from a special regimen.

People rarely, if ever, test their bodies for toxins. Marc Cohen, PhD, professor of complementary medicine at the RMIT University in Victoria, Australia, noted in a 2007 commentary on detoxing that certain toxins can be measured in blood, urine, hair, sweat, fat, saliva, breast milk and semen, yet these tests are rarely done in clinical settings, and even if they are, it’s often difficult to interpret the test results, especially for “subtoxic” doses of multiple compounds (Cohen 2007).

Typical detox dieters do not ask for proof, though. They assume their bodies are polluted and also assume the regimen they follow actually removes toxins. Books, products or practitioners offering a detox diet are vague. Rarely do they specify which toxins their plan is removing, nor do they recommend that you get proof of having a certain level of toxic contamination before you do something about it.

Are you clearing your body of lead, bisphenol A (BPA) or polychlorinated bipenyls (PCBs)? Could it be particulates from the air, artificial sweeteners, your allergy meds or alcohol from yesterday’s margarita? If it’s all of them, how do you know?

Furthermore, no proof of detoxing is provided, despite dramatic promises that it will happen: One claim made about one of the most famous juice fasts of all, The Master Cleanse, states, “Your body will purge itself of toxins that are lodged in joints, soft tissue, cartilage and mucous membranes especially.” And this is apparently achieved by drinking juice made from lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and sea salt. The toxins being removed are not specified, and there’s no evidence they are actually gone.

Detoxing the Liver of Thousands of Toxins . . . ?

The most common claim is that a regimen detoxifies the liver, the body’s own self-detoxification organ. It’s assumed the liver gets clogged like an air conditioning filter and must be cleaned so it can continue detoxifying.

“But there is no evidence showing that a normal liver gets clogged with toxins,” says hepatologist Nancy Reau, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago who treats patients who have liver cancer, cirrhosis and other liver conditions. “The liver is a very sophisticated filter. Everything you inhale, put on your skin or eat enters the bloodstream and is brought to the liver. It then generates specific enzymes to help remove things that are unhealthy or change them to a healthier form.”

Reau concedes she has not read “all” of the medical literature and that being a Western-trained physician can make it easy to misunderstand alternative and homeopathic approaches. Still, she has not seen evidence where peer-reviewed data shows clogging of the liver without a predisposition (a medical condition that would affect processing). “If whatever the liver has to metabolize is present in large amounts (such as alcohol), the liver can’t suddenly become more efficient. However, adding something (like an herb) is not usually going to make it more efficient. You have to give it time to deal with the backlog. So the ingredients in a ‘flush’ are going to have to get in line with everything the liver is already processing.”

Aside from cases of excessive alcohol or drug use, there is no good evidence that the liver needs to be—or can be—detoxed. “The liver is self-cleaning, you just have to give it good fuel in the form of healthy food,” adds Reau.

Effects of a Detox

Of course, people who do detoxes often swear by them: They lose weight and often say they look or feel better. Jocelyn Conn, who works in television in New York City, spent weeks traveling for work, eating fast food and drinking more alcohol than normal. “Afterwards,” she says, “my co-workers and I banded together to cleanse the damage we’d done.” They went on a 3-day juice fast, drinking a different juice every 2 hours. “My skin felt great, I slept really well, and sometimes I felt like I had a lot of energy.”

But were the positive effects due to magical nutrients in the juices, or simply to the fact that she was no longer on the road, was keeping more regular hours and had stopped consuming Cheetos® and martinis? Conn admits that during the fast she sometimes got cranky and felt off-kilter. Detox advocates often brush off negative symptoms as a sign that toxins are being released, yet they offer no evidence that this is the case.

Pros and Cons of Detoxing

The upside of a detox regimen is that cutting out bad eating habits and helping the body eliminate waste more easily make good sense. Choosing organic foods has been shown to reduce pesticide exposure (Smith-Spangler et al. 2012), and eating less processed food and more plant foods means more fiber, more nutrients and fewer chemical additives. Detox diets may even have a valid detox effect if people forgo alcohol that they might otherwise drink. Weil himself asserts that the body can detoxify itself if you simply stop putting toxins into it. He recommends avoiding alcohol, secondhand smoke and household chemicals—as well as drinking more water, eating enough fiber, getting enough exercise to improve elimination and increase breathing (exhalation) rates, and sweating in steam rooms. (Of course, this advice suggests that drinking juice all day or taking certain supplements is not necessary.)

Some people think that a regimented, strict plan helps them mentally prepare to embark on a healthier way of eating. But both Powers and Conn admit that they returned to their former eating vices when their cleanses were over.

And that might be the biggest downside to a detox diet. The belief that it can kick-start a healthier life may only be a fantasy. In fact, the deprivation during fasting may result in a backlash—an impulsive return to junk-food eating. A 2002 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that both during but also after a fast, obese people experienced increases in hunger and appetite (Oh, Kim & Choue 2002). In a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, researchers took late-morning brain scans of normal-weight adults as they viewed pictures of high-calorie foods—once after eating breakfast and once after skipping it. The scans showed greater activation in brain areas associated with reward when subjects had skipped breakfast, suggesting a difference between fed and fasted states of mind that might help explain an increased desire for overindulgent eating (Goldstone et al 2009).

But if your routine consists of alternating an occasional detox week to fix a chronic pattern of poor eating habits, what’s the point? “A lifetime of good, healthy eating is going to be more effective than a sometime, short-term cleanse,” says Reau.

For the latest research, statistics, sample classes, and more, “Like” IDEA on Facebook here.

Feb 20

5 Common Fitness Saboteurs and How to Defeat Them

5 Common Fitness Saboteurs and How to Defeat Them

Ever have those days when you feel like the universe is conspiring to keep you from reaching your fitness goals? Even the most committed fitness enthusiasts face challenges to staying active. Sometimes we sabotage ourselves. Other times, life interferes with our exercise plans.

Check out this list of common fitness saboteurs and learn how to combat them with practical strategies that really work:

1. Stress—When you’re up against a work deadline or the kids are sick, you may feel you can’t handle one more thing, including exercise. But taking time out to go for a brisk walk or workout is one of the best things you can do during times of intense stress. Exercise helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression and helps boost your mood, enabling you to cope with whatever you’re facing. Even a short workout is better than nothing.

2. Unrealistic Expectations—Novice exercisers get frustrated when they expect big results too soon after starting a fitness program. Because they haven’t lost a huge amount of weight or developed six-pack abs after only a week or two of exercise, they throw in the towel. To avoid this mistake, set realistic goals and practice extreme patience. You can’t undo 10 years of a sedentary lifestyle in a week of walking. If you stick with a regimen, your body will respond to exercise. It takes at least six weeks of regular exercise and sometimes more for physiological changes to kick in.

It’s called the training effect. You’ll know it’s happening when your workouts start feeling easier; when you can tolerate longer, harder exercise sessions; and when you can do housework, yardwork, or climb stairs with less effort.

3. Overtraining—Demanding daily workouts without scheduled rest won’t help you reach your goals faster. Instead, it’ll undermine your progress. Overtraining occurs when the exercise load is excessive related to the amount of time allowed for recovery. Overtaxing the body’s systems leads to decreased performance. A day or two off from vigorous exercise each week is recommended for rest and recovery. This can be done through a combination of scheduling rest days into your fitness plan and alternating hard and easy workouts. For example, cross-training, swapping out a few runs for swimming or bicycling, is another effective way to avoid overtraining, but scheduled recovery days are still recommended.

4. The Unexpected—You were going to walk after work, but now you’ve been asked to work late. Or perhaps you planned to swim, but then you find out that the pool is closed for maintenance. Life happens, and you can either throw up your hands and say, “forget it,” or accept it and roll with it. Resilience is your ability to bounce back quickly from life’s surprises and setbacks. This can be improved with practice. Strategies include practicing good self-care, such as eating right, sleeping well, and exercising regularly, along with cultivating good relationships, practicing optimism, taking decisive action, etc. As you become more resilient, you’re less likely to ditch your workout when something comes up. Instead, you’ll be able to quickly modify your plans and move forward.

5. Negative Self-Talk—“I’m so lazy, I’ll never be fit;” “I didn’t even exercise once this week;” “I’m such a loser.” Would you talk to a friend or loved one this way? Listening to negative self-talk isn’t motivating, so what’s the point? Negative self-talk only destroys your confidence and motivation to the point where you can’t visualize success. But you don’t have to put up with it. The next time you recognize a critical thought, stop it and replace it with a positive thought, like this: “I’m so proud of myself for walking at lunch time today. It took a lot of effort, but I did it.” Behavior change is hard. Give yourself some credit for every step you take toward your fitness goals. Practice intentionally giving yourself positive feedback and watch your motivation soar.

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