Archive for the ‘Health News’ Category

Earlier this week, Paula Deen admitted to having been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago. Now, she is endorsing a product, Victoza, a noninsulin injectable diabetes medication made by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

We all know who Paula Deen is, and chances are, we all know what kind of food she cooks.

Delicious. That’s what kind.

Delicious and the opposite of healthy. The sticks of butter, cups of sugar and loads of salt make her recipes so high in calories. Even on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have a hard time making one of her recipes because I know there is a healthier version that tastes just as good somewhere out there.

And, most of the time I can find a healthier version and no one can tell the difference.

Or, maybe they can and they are just being nice and tell me what I’ve cooked is good anyway.

I have a few reactions to this news:

  • I don’t think revealing this news three years earlier would have harmed her career. She could have acknowledged the insane amount of calories in her recipes and decided to make a change to the way she cooks. Instead, I’m DVRing her sons new show, “Not My Mama’s Meals.”
  • I don’t really think becoming the spokesperson for a new drug is the best PR move. I think admitting that her recipes probably have had something to do with her diagnosis would have been a better way to handle the situation.
  • I don’t fault her for continuing to cook the way she does for professional reasons. She is very successful and is fun to watch on TV. What she cooks is delicious, but should be eaten in moderation or on special occasions.

So, those are my thoughts on the situation. What are your thoughts?


Read Full Post »

It seems like the first few weeks of the new year are always filled with “shoulds.” You know, the typical “I should go to the gym more,” or “I should keep in better touch with my friends,” or “I should clean out my closet.”

I’m not quite sure where I stand on the word “should.” Who says you should do something? Sometimes the word “should” just makes me feel like I’m falling short instead of serving as motivation. When I accomplish something it’s because I want to, not because I should.

Since my exercise routine is still very limited (and I’d still like to fit into the same pants I wore before surgery), eating healthy is important. While I was off from work from surgery, I had plenty of time to watch daytime TV. The Dr. Oz Show can be hit or miss in my opinion, but one show really caught my attention where he provided a list of the “100 foods you should have in your shopping cart.”

There’s that word again, “should.” But, since this list relates to staying healthy (and zipping up my jeans), something I want to do, I actually paid attention to it.

So, here it is.

After a little self-evaluation, here are the items that I would like to include in my diet that I would actually eat, because let’s face it, if I don’t like something, I’m not going to buy it just because Dr. Oz says I should.

Fresh Produce:

  • Melon


  • Berries

Seafood/Meats: (I rarely eat red meat, so I am ignoring those items)

  • Lean pork
  • Fish
  • Shrimp
  • Canned tuna

Canned/Bottled Items:

  • Canned beans
  • Canned artichokes
  • Low-sodium sauerkraut


  • Eggs


  • Microwavable steel-cut oatmeal

Beans and Soy:

  • Lentils
  • Frozen soy burgers
  • Soy hot dots


  • Vegan mayo
  • Ginger
  • Agave nectar
  • Tomato paste (Not on the list, but he mentioned it during the show as a good substitute for ketchup.)

Snack Foods/Desserts/Treats

  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Popcorn


  • Tea
  • Orange juice

Question: What items on this list do you want to incorporate into your diet?

Read Full Post »

I know Halloween was yesterday, but I had to share these pictures from past Halloweens. Luckily my mom is awesome and sent them to me since I don’t have any childhood photos here in Chicago. Thanks Con! (That’s what I call my mom, Connie.)

The other cutie in those pictures is my older sister, Sallie.

And now, moving on to a completely different subject. Fitness and the use of deception for training purposes.

We train, we race, we push ourselves to the limit. Or, at least we think we push ourselves to the limit. However, an article published in the New York Times has revealed that an athlete’s personal best may be more of a “mental best.”  Dr. Kevin Thompson, head of sport and exercise science at Northumbrian University in England, conducted experiments to see just how significant an athlete’s mental state can be when racing.

Dr. Thompson asked cyclists who knew their personal best times for a certain distance to race against an avatar (a figure of a cyclist on a computer screen in front of them). Each rider was shown two figures that would virtually pedal along a course – one was himself and one was the avatar.

The cyclists were told that the avatar would move at the pace of his or her personal best; however the avatars were actually programmed to ride faster than the cyclist had ever ridden with a one percent increase in speed. When cyclists were told they were racing against their personal best time, they kept up with the avatar, therefore actually beating their personal best time.

So, what really determines an athlete’s ability? Obviously, physical elements play a huge role; however, the article suggests that when an athlete is pushed to race at a pace within reason, mental beliefs are a determining factor in success.

Dr. Thompson conducted another experiment in which a group of cyclists was divided into two groups. The first group was told that the avatar would be moving two percent or five percent faster than their personal best. These athletes did not even try to keep up with the avatars and simply raced at their personal best pace. The second group was told they would be racing against an avatar that would be moving at the pace of their personal best, when it was actually programmed to move two percent or five percent faster. The cyclists racing against the avatar moving two percent faster kept up with them the entire race. The cyclists racing against the avatar moving five percent faster kept up with them for half of the race and then dropped off.

So, there is a limit as to how fast an athlete can go, but mentality and a belief in an athlete’s own ability is a key factor to his or her success.


This is fascinating! I definitely think that a bit of deception would push me to race faster. (Side note: I absolutely HATE being chased! Even if it’s just in a game of tag…I hate having someone speeding up behind me. So, I would race my butt off even if it meant going two percent faster).

Do you think deception would work for you? Maybe once I can start training again I will try to deceive myself during a run, like make a playlist for 10 minutes longer than I would usually run, or something like that. If you’ve tried this technique, let me know how it worked for you!

Read Full Post »

Happy Halloween!

I’m not a huge fan of Halloween, to be honest. I’m not really sure why? As a kid I loved it! And, I had some of the best costumes, all homemade, I might add. Nothing over the top that required tons of effort. Most of them were created out of things we had in our house and closets.  Next Halloween I will definitely show these pictures. They are priceless. I was such a cheeseball and loved having people laugh at my costumes. Those were the days…I wish I had photos, but for now I’ll just name a few of my best from childhood.

  • Steve Urkel (from Family Matters)
  • Tim Allen (from Home Improvement)
  • A hobo (my all-time best costume)
  • An M&M (this was repeated many times over!)
  • One of the three blind mice
  • The floor of a movie theatre

I think I enjoyed Halloween more as a kid than I did as an “adult” because it was so much more innocent and fun back then. Once you got to high school and college, it’s really just an excuse for girls to dress up like hookers. I went online and found the following costumes from Buycostumes.com. I mean, seriously, Deluxe Enchanted Queen of Hearts? This is barely even a real thing! Also, this is hideous.

I much prefer humor for my costumes than trying to make something sexy that’s not. I would choose something more along the lines of this guy 🙂

I stuck to my guns in college and rocked this look in college. That bow on my head is obnoxious. And, yes, I was doing cheers all night. Staying in character is key!

Note: I think you get more attention being something funny than being something sexy. The sexy thing is so overdone, and you’ll just blend into the crowd.

So, there are my two cents on costumes.

Moving on, here are a few interesting statistics on Halloween:

  • Approximately 589 million pounds of candy are bought for Halloween. That’s an average of 13.5 pounds of candy per child. (Shape.com)
  • $2.5 billion will be spent on costumes this year. $0.3 billion of this will be spent on pet costumes. (TheStreet.com) Wow, is all I can say.
  • There are 41 million potential trick-or-treaters ages 5-14 years old (Halloweenstats.com)

Now let’s talk candy. My sister and I used to come home with pillow cases of Halloween candy. Pillow cases of it! My dad would take us out for hours while my mom usually stayed home to pass out candy. When we got home, my sister and I would count and trade our goods. My mom is a teacher, so she always had us do fun sorting and math activities that we really didn’t even know were educational at the time; we just thought we were playing with our profits!

I’m really not much of a candy person. I’d much rather have a piece of cake, ice cream, cookies, frosting, pie, etc. But since Halloween really is all about candy, here are some fast calorie counts for you.

  • 3 York Peppermint Patties: 150 calories
  • 2 Fun-Size M&Ms packs: 147 calories
  • 6 Mini 3 Musketeers bars: 146 calories
  • 7 Hershey Kisses: 157 calories
  • 3 Mini Twix: 150 calories
  • 6 Dum-Dum Pops: 150 calories
  • Pop Rocks package: 25 calories (These things take me back to middle school days…)
  • 8 Starburst candies: 163 calories
  • 2 Fun-Size Peanut M&Ms packs: 180 calories
  • 3 Snack Size Almond Joy: 200 calories
  • 16 Sour Patch Kids: 150 calories

I’m really not a strict “calorie counter,” but around holidays I think it’s good for me to have a gauge on what exactly is going into my mouth. Otherwise, my pants may not fit and, I really would have to wear that Gumby costume.


What are you being for Halloween? Do you like the holiday better as an adult or was it more fun as a kid? What’s your take on sexy costumes?

Read Full Post »

Last night Chicago had a fall storm. Who has ever heard of a fall storm?! I haven’t, and I’ve lived through 25 falls now. The lakefront path was closed down due to extremely high waves, high wind (around 50 mph) and heavy rain. Book your tickets to visit us in Chicago 😉  It’s really great!

The rain was insanely loud on our windows last night but stopped just in time for us to make it to our morning workout. I more or less did a repeat of the 3-2-1 treadmill routine that I completed yesterday. Then, I rocked some new ab moves that I got from Sarah. Come on abs! It’s your time to shine! I know you want to 🙂

So, last week I read this article on Self about exercise and appetite and thought it had some valuable information about, well, appetite and exercise.

It’s true, exercise makes us hungry. It’s a slippery slope, this exercise thing, because on the one hand, you have to exercise to be healthy, but on the other hand, you can’t reward yourself the way you completely deserve (a large soft serve ice cream with health bar topping).

Holy cow. This has 940 calories. Enough said.

Actually, this is exactly the type of thinking that Self addresses, along with many more helpful tips on how to properly fuel your body for your workouts and not destroy all of your work with poor eating choices.

So, after a workout our bodies crave the energy we just used up (i.e. a large soft serve ice cream), and guess what folks, this desire to eat tends to hit women harder than it hits men. They have it so easy! Self identifies a few thought patterns that should be thrown out the window if you really want to reap the rewards of your workout.

  1. The “exercise halo.” Most people overestimate how many calories they actually burned, therefore thinking that a candy bar will burn right off. Not so. Drop the Snickers.
  2. The “afterburn effect.” Even very intense exercise lasting more than 45 minutes only burns 100 calories (or less) post-exercise. Bottom line: skip the post-workout snack. Put away the chips and salsa, save 100 calories. In a week, you’ll save 500.
  3. “Last thing eaten is the first thing burned off.” Wrong. Women eating sugary foods (candy, white bread, sugary cereal) before exercising burned 55 percent LESS fat than those who had non-sugary food (oatmeal, yogurt). And really, a candy bar before a workout?!

So, it’s pretty obvious that what you eat can have a significant effect on how much your body really gets out of a workout. Here is an outline of the most beneficial snacks and meals pre-workout:

Intensity of workout Length of workout How long before workout? What to eat
Low intensity Less than 60 minutes Less than 1 hour Piece of fruit or bottle of water
Low intensity Less than 60 minutes More than 1 hour Low-fat yogurt with granola, piece of fruit, or turkey on whole wheat bread
Low intensity More than 60 minutes Less than 1 hour A few whole wheat crackers, 1 string cheese, or Luna bar
Low intensity More than 60 minutes More than 1 hour Whole grain cereal with skim milk, blueberries or hard-boiled egg
High intensity Less than 60 minutes Less than 1 hour Toast with jelly, or sports drink
High intensity Less than 60 minutes More than 1 hour Whole wheat wrap with veggies and eggs, or PB& J on whole-wheat
High intensity More than 60 minutes Less than 1 hour 1 cup dry cereal with raisins, or regular crackers with jam
High intensity More than 60 minutes More than 1 hour Whole wheat bagel with reduced fat cream cheese, 2 slices of turkey, or 1 cup cooked oatmeal with skim milk and sliced banana or raisins

Note to self: Nowhere does it say Fiber One bar, my personal favorite. Bummer. Bring on the toast!

For me, avoiding the pre-workout munchies is easy. I don’t really eat anything since I get up at 6 am (except on weekends. See Fiber One bars.) Post workout? Now that’s a different story. Chips and salsa? Yes please! A handful of animal crackers? Of course. A few bites of a homemade pumpkin oatmeal muffin? Absolutely. I’m beginning to think this is one of the reasons my abs haven’t made themselves visible yet.

Post workout bites (here is where I really need to pay attention):

Running or biking: Have a carb-rich snack, like whole-grain cereal or fruit within 30 minutes of exercising. Your body needs to refuel quickly.

Swimming: Swimming really works up an appetite because your body loses heat, which prevents the release of hormones that suppress appetite. So, when you’re finished swimming, have a hot drink to warm up first. If you’re still hungry, opt for a healthy snack.

Strength training: Protein! You need 10-15 grams of protein within an hour of your workout in order for your body repair muscle and to prevent wear and tear. Egg on whole wheat toast? Yum.

So, there you go. And, there I go. Its time the hard work paid off. Even if I don’t exactly follow the recommendations in this post, I’m going to try not to completely negate the sweat sessions by using more common sense when it comes to food. I’m on a mission. Who’s with me!?! Anyone?! Bueller?!


What do you eat pre-workout and post workout?

Read Full Post »

There’s something about breasts. There just is. Whenever the word “breasts” or “boobs” is said, my ears perk up a little bit. Don’t yours? They’re just an interesting topic of conversation.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I have the world’s smallest breasts. Seriously. I used to wonder (and sometime still do) whether or not they would ever get bigger. But, at 25 years old and no bigger than I was in eighth grade, I have learned to embrace what I have been given and to move on with life. After all, you always want what you can’t have. I have a few friends with very large breasts who find them annoying and sometimes painful. For me, I could run a marathon without a sports bra and probably wouldn’t notice anything different than if I had one on. (Okay, that’s a lie. I did forget to wear one once to go to the gym, and it was a little bit weird. I put my sweatshirt on to feel a little less awkward.) But, my breasts are mine and boys don’t have them (not like we do, I mean) and that’s what makes them special. They play a large part in feeling “womanly” and “sexy.”

Based on my own memory, Breast Cancer Awareness Month really became public in a big way a few years ago when NFL teams started wearing pink as part of their uniforms. Now, college football teams also wear pink. (Too bad that’s not Peyton Manning instead of Curtis Painter. Come on Colts!)

(Interesting how it’s something men do that make millions aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nonetheless, it’s great to have teams promoting awareness.) I’m sure many women’s teams wear pink this month as well. There are hundreds of races all over the country to raise money for breast cancer research and thousands of athletes who participate in them to support the cause. In fact, I participated in my first walk for breast cancer my sophomore year of high school when my English teacher was battling the disease.

So, in an effort to bring even a little bit more awareness regarding breast cancer, here are some statistics from Cancer.org:

  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer.
  • The percentage that breast cancer will be the cause of a woman’s death: 3%
  • Breast cancer survival rates have been decreasing since 1990, especially in women under 50, due to early detection and regular screenings.
  • There are more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

And Health.com provided a list of celebrities who have battled or are currently battling breast cancer:

  • Cynthia Nixon, 40
  • Sheryl Crow, 44
  • Edie Falco, 40
  • Kylie Minogue, 36
  • Elizabeth Edwards, 55
  • Robin Roberts, 46
  • Christina Applegate, 36
  • Melissa Ethridge, 43

And, as you have probably heard, Giuliana Rancic was recently diagnosed at age 36.

Health.com also debunked common myths about breast cancer:

  • Myth: Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk. Reality: Roughly 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors for the disease. If someone in your immediate family has or has had breast cancer, your risk nearly doubles.
  • Myth: Wearing an underwire bra increases your risk of getting breast cancer. Reality: The type or tightness of bra does not affect your chances of getting breast cancer.
  • Myth: Most breast lumps are cancerous. Reality: About 80% of lumps found in women’s breasts are benign.
  • Myth: All women have a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer. Reality: Your risk rises with age. A woman has a 1 in 233 chance of getting breast cancer in her 30’s and a 1 in 8 chance by the time she’s 85.
  • Myth: Small breasted women have a smaller chance of getting breast cancer. Reality: Size doesn’t matter.
  • Myth: Breast cancer always comes in the form of a lump. Reality: Breast cancer symptoms can also be skin irritation, swelling and nipple pain.

So ladies, it’s a crap shoot. What we need to do for ourselves is to go to the doctor, get examinations, do self examinations, eat healthy foods, exercise and be advocates for our own health.

Read Full Post »

Good morning! It is beautiful and HOT in Chicago. I woke up this morning and had a delicious bowl of vanilla yogurt with Rice Krispies and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Granola. I usually have yogurt for breakfast every morning, but I just recently discovered adding Rice Krispies as a topping…adding extra crunch with fewer calories 🙂

Then, I was off to watch some of the Chicago Marathon. I didn’t know anyone running, but it is so cool to cheer on thousands of runners! Gives me goose bumps. It got me thinking about running a marathon…some day. The streets are lined for 26.2 miles with spectators yelling for friends, family members and complete strangers.

I snapped a few photos for a homework assignment for my master’s program and thought I’d share a few with you.

Isn’t this sight unbelievable?

I’m off to get my workout in for the day. It will be nothing close to 26.2 miles, but it’s better than nothing! Have a great day and enjoy the gorgeous weather!

Read Full Post »