News from Shape Up America!
June 2005
Shape Up America! Newsletter


Junk Food Blues ?
Shape Up America!'s New and Improved CYBERKitchen
You hear it all the time. Healthy food. Junk food. Fast food. Whatever. Are you confused about what is a healthy food? We want to provide you with solid information and support on weight management, but we don't want to police you and we certainly want you to enjoy the food you choose to eat. From that point of view, it makes more sense to ask about choices. If you are making food choices, ask yourself which choice is wiser for weight management. The healthier choice for weight management might be:

  • Choosing a smaller portion
  • Filling your plate once and not going back for seconds
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Snacking on carrots and celery instead of cheese
  • Using less butter or sour cream on a baked potato, or skipping it entirely
  • Choosing a piece of fruit instead of a cookie for a snack
  • Choosing fruit instead of cake or ice cream for dessert
  • Choosing 2% milk instead of whole milk or cream
  • Choosing 1% milk instead of 2% milk
  • Choosing fat free milk instead of 1% milk

  • Choosing fat free frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
  • Choosing to share a dessert with a friend rather than eat it all yourself

Maybe you have been saying "No, thank you" to dessert all week long. Maybe you've been choosing a piece of fruit for dessert each night instead of eating a piece of cheesecake or pecan pie. Maybe you've been exercising a lot lately so that you feel you have earned a treat. Maybe you are attending a dinner and your hostess is serving a very special homemade dessert. Is that so terrible? We think that you should be the judge of that, but our newsletter (and our website) are designed to give you the skills and information you need to judge wisely. Remember what they say on Sesame Street: there are "everyday foods" and there are "sometimes foods". Dessert is a sometimes food, but only the food police would say that dessert is a "never" food.

Foods that cause "out of control eating" are called "trigger foods". Trigger foods are foods that once tasted, cause you to eat more and more. For some people, chocolate or peanut butter may be a trigger food. For others, bread and butter is a trigger food. Because trigger foods vary from one individual to the next, only you know what your trigger foods are. It is very important to identify your trigger foods and learn how to manage them. We don't bring trigger foods into the house, but we do sometimes eat them in a safe setting outside the home where we know we can avoid spinning out of control.

In summary, foods that are high in fat and sugar that deliver a lot of calories and few vitamins and minerals deserve to be considered "sometimes foods". If you are trying to manage your weight and optimize your health, you simply can not afford to eat such foods very often. So how often can you eat a "sometimes food"? We would suggest that you aim for no more than once a month - maybe even less often if weight loss is your goal. When you do indulge in a "sometimes food," a healthier choice is to share it with a friend or two (or more). You'll have more fun when you share and feel better about yourself in the morning.

Powering up Your Legs with Bodyweight Squats
~Guest Contributor: Michael Roussell~
This column begins a monthly journey through all your major muscle groups. Each month we will pick a muscle group and discuss an exercise (or two) that you can do at home with little or no equipment, to strengthen that area of your body. We begin this trek with our upper legs. The upper leg muscles are some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body - glutes (your rear), quadriceps (front of your thighs), and hamstrings (back of your thighs). The most basic strengthening movement for the upper legs is the body weight squat - we'll look at 2 variations.

The squat routine I've outlined below shouldn't take more than 5-7 minutes so you can't use the excuse that you don't have the time! Ideally you want to work up to squatting 2-3 times a week (ex: Monday, Wednesday, & Friday). It is not necessary or recommended to do this type of exercise more than 3 times a week.

I have found that when squatting, people have the hardest time with balance. The first variation of the squat that we will look at, the chair squat, will help with the development of balance so that you can squat correctly in the future. For the chair squat the only equipment you need is an object that is about 18 inches high that can safely hold your bodyweight (ex: a sturdy coffee table, foot stool, or upside down milk crate)

Starting Position: You want to start with your toes pointing forward and your feet just wider than shoulder width apart. The foot stool (or whatever object you chose) should be close enough to sit on during the exercise as described below.

The Movement: When you start to squat it is best to think of moving your rear end backwards instead of down. As you squat, reaching backwards for the stool will help prevent your knees from going too far in front of your toes. Continue to reach back and lower yourself until your bottom reaches the stool. You are now at the mid point of the movement; your upper thigh should be parallel with the ground. Pause for 1 second and reverse the movement, slowly standing up. When you are standing upright again this means that you have completed one repetition or "rep"*.

Beginner Workout: Your goal is to be able to complete just a few - perhaps 5 reps to start with. Over the next few weeks, you will find you will eventually be able to complete 20 reps. This is called one "set"*. Do not expect to complete a set during your first workout. Start slow and try to do a couple more in each workout.

Intermediate Workout: Your goal is to complete 20 reps - one set - during each workout. After several weeks, you are ready to move on to the advanced workout.

Advanced Workout: Your goal is to complete one set, rest for 1-2 minutes and then complete a second set. When you have developed enough strength to complete 3 sets of 20 reps it is time to move to a more difficult squatting movement.

Variation 2: Pure Bodyweight Squats. As the name says, in this version of the squat you don't use any equipment -- just your body - to do the work. The motion is exactly the same as the chair squat except that there won't be a chair for you to sit on.

Instead of reaching back for the stool, allow your arms to come up in front of your body as you squat. This helps you to keep your balance. You're not going to have the stool or chair to tell you when you've squatted down far enough so don't cheat yourself and squat too shallow. Go all the way down, pause, and push through your heels until you are standing again. Just like before, start out slow and work your way up over a period of several weeks to 3 sets of 20 reps.

Squats will probably make your legs "burn" after a couple reps. This is okay; the burning you feel is caused by lactic acid - a byproduct of the energy (calories) your body has used to power the squats. This will help you develop strong legs to power you through your day.

Squatting Tip: Keep your knees in line with your toes so you can use your strength most effectively, maintain balance and protect your knees from injury.

*Weight Lifting Lingo - A rep is one completion of a particular movement. A group of reps performed one after another is called a "set".

The following tip was adapted from "Slimmer and Trinmer: Daily Tips for Permanent Weight Loss" by Arpi A Simonian, MS, ScM, Vantage Press:

Keep a log and save the money that you would have wasted on potato chips, peanuts, candy bars, doughnuts, and other foods you chose NOT to eat. With the accumulated savings, treat yourself with the luxury of a CD, manicure, pedicure, facial or an invigorating body massage. Pamper yourself. Appreciate yourself. When you have learned to give praise to yourself, you do not need to hear it from others.

Experience The Joys of the Great Outdoors
For $50, the National Parks Pass is the perfect start to planning a family vacation. The pass provides admission into any National Park that charges an entry fee and is valid for one full year from first use at a National Park. But if you want to act locally before thinking nationally, check out "Best Hikes With Children" which is a series of books that covers a state or region ($15 to $17 each, You will find descriptions of hikes you can take as a family with details about the features and difficulty of each.

phone: 240-715-3900

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