15 Ways for Success with Your Fitness Regimen

It’s now June… how many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. Now, the list.
There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.

1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.

2. Mix Up Your Exercise

Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.

3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.

4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.

5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat

You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.

6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.

7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.

8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.

9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.

10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.

11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.

12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.

13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.

15. Record Stats and Progress

Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!

Averages for Americans, 1960-2010

It’s no secret that Americans are, well, fat. Upwards of 71%-79% of all Americans are overweight, with 80% of those being clinically obese. You’ve heard the rants, the opinings, the pleas before. Here is a graph chronicling this.

 

Image result for Average height weight American men 1977

 

In 2010, the CDC found that the average weight for American women is the same as American men in the 1960s.

Average height of American men: 5’9 1/2″

Average height of American women: 5’4 1/4″

Overall, women have slightly gained more weight than men since 1960 (18.7% women) to 17.6% for men. Both sexes are about an inch taller.

Average weight of American men: 195.3 lbs

Average weight of American women: 168.3 lbs

In comparison, the average American is 33 pounds heavier than the average Frenchman, 40 pounds heavier than the average Japanese man… and 70 pounds heavier on average than the average Bangladesh male.

In closing, we Americans are big. We must do better. The alternative is grim. But it can be done. It must be done.

 

 

 

 

8 Anti-Aging Foods

8 ANTI-AGING FOODS

Although the modern world has countless products designed to counteract the effects of aging from the outside, these don’t do anything for degenerative or age-related issues that may be occurring within.

If you can create better health and take better care of yourself, it stands to reason that not only will your internal organs be in better shape, but your skin will be also.

You may feel “invincible” when you are young, but acting as though you are will take its toll. Start caring for yourself properly – get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and minimize toxins.
Here is my list of 8 foods that have been recognized by researchers for their health-prolonging and even rejuvenating effects:

1. Pomegranate

Pomegranate has been associated with immense cardiovascular benefits in actual human studies, which found that it reversed arterial plaque that is thought to be a prime cause of serious or even fatal heart conditions.

2. Berries
Berries of all types are antioxidant rich (especially organic ones) – which means that they combat free radicals, inflammation and inflammation-related diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and even Alzheimer’s. [1]

3. Omega-3 Rich Fish

Omega-3’s, which are found in wild-caught salmon (in much higher quantities than in farmed salmon), tuna and also some plant sources such as walnuts and flax seeds, have been associated with brain health – especially with beneficial effects on mood and attitude. [1] They are also considered anti-inflammatory.

4. Red Wine or Red Grape Juice

Yes, it’s true. Red wine contains resveratrol – a powerful antioxidant that has actually been associated with reduced cell death in the brain and heart – meaning that this could actually lengthen your life. It’s advised not to drink more than one glass of red wine per day for health reasons – also you could skip the wine and simply drink red grape juice if you prefer something non-alcoholic.

5. Tea
Black, green, white and oolong teas have been been associated with various health benefits. Note that loose leaf tea is considered preferable to tea bags, owing to chemical residues in the paper of the tea bags which can end up in the tea.

6. Chocolate

Who said that staying healthy had to be boring? Did you know that the world’s oldest person, Jeanne Louise Calment, ate a bar of chocolate every day during her later years? It’s true. Calment was a French supercentenarian who has the longest confirmed human lifespan on record, living to the age of 122 years, 164 days.

This amazing lady, who lived on her own until shortly before her 110th birthday, ascribed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance for her age to a diet rich in olive oil (which she also rubbed onto her skin), as well as a diet of port wine. She ate nearly one kilogram (2.2 lb) of chocolate every week. Calment reportedly remained mentally intact until her very end – though (astonishingly, and we don’t want to encourage you) – she smoked cigarettes from the age of 21 to 117! Chocolate’s health giving properties are due to its principal ingredient – cacao – which is noted for numerous health benefits.

7. Olive Oil

As mentioned above. Though be sure that you are getting olive oil that is pure and not adulterated.

8. Lycopene-rich Foods (Tomatoes, red carrots, watermelon)

Lycopene has been associated with reduced cancer risk and (in tomatoes) is a component of the Mediterranean Diet which is noted for producing some of the worlds longer-lived, healthier people.

Other beneficial foods worth adding to your list – avocados, nuts and swiss chard.

In closing… food should be fun. So should be eating helthy. Just another spin of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

References:

[1] http://www.webmd.com/diet/best-anti-aging-foods

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Okay people… I just wanted to say one thing. I sincerely appreciate your support in my blogging and fitness endeavors. It means a lot to me that you like what I write (and repost). Those of you who follow me on wordpress– thank you. If you follow me on twitter @halcyonfg16… thank you. On the facebook version of this blog… vid.me… wherever… I graciously and humbly give you thanks for your patronage.

One of these days I am going to have to do something for you all. Real talk.

Thank you for your time.

Top 5 Energy/Attitude Killers

This article is about my Top 5 Attitude/Energy killers. It’s the little things that oftentimes end up being the difference in whether you have a successful day or not. You see, everything matters and everything counts. Bottom line, I am hoping you take this article to heart.

 

  1. Eating like a pig. Sumo wrestlers, for example eat once a day to maximize fat gain. This in turn wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels, causing mood swings.
  2. Noshing in your car or at your workstation.  This will kill a preprogrammed break in your day. Studies show that taking a regenerative break in your day increases productivity 40%.
  3. Dehydration/Underconsumption of water. Waking up, most people are 1-10% dehydrated (that equals at least a 10-15% reduction of mental drive, focus and physical strength). Add to that, the lack of water leads to a deficit of creativity, short-term memory, and even arithmetic scores.
  4. Too much water after 8PM. This is a no-no, particularly if you value your sleep. Drinking a ton of water (to catch up on a water deficit during the day) almost guarantees time spent during the night in the bathroom- time that could be better used, sleeping.
  5. Lack of Exercise. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, is very hard to get rid of without exercise. An overabundance of cortisol will generally mean you are cranky and tired. Thankfully, there are two ways to rid yourself of cortisol: Laughter and/or exercise.

 

BATES’ TOP TEN STRENGTH/SIZE EXERCISES

NOTE: This is MY list, not a definitive list made elsewhere. This is basically what got me big. The basics… THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

 

Yes, this is still “The Basics Always Win”, but I am taking a different path on this one. I am going over my top ten favorite strength training exercises. These are foundational, but brutal. They got me big… and will get you big as well.
As always, use caution when strength training. Always consult your primary healthcare provider before starting any fitness regimen. Now, the list.

1) Bench Press. Called “The Grandaddy of Em All”, this exercise is king for a reason. Raw, animalistic strength is evident. It is noted that the bench press does tax the Central Nervous System a bit. Risk of injury is high, so technique and a bit of reason will come in handy.

2) Barbell Squat. Yet another brutal, yet simplistic exercise. This is another exercise that emphasizes technique, skill and a bit of courage lol. High risk of injury here as well. D
3) Bentover Row. This very simple exercise is all about blasting the upper back. Power, pure power.

4) Barbell Lunge. Used by athletes for ages to develop size in the quads, hamstrings as well as overall growth, this exercise is also dangerous for the knees (especially if you go too heavy).

5) Lying Dumbbell Flyes. This exercise is all about power, concentration and technique/form. Injury to shoulders, arms and chest is high. All-around exercise for great strength and looks.

6) Lawnmowers (Dumbbell Row). This exercise shores up the back, shoulders while scuplting the upper body as a whole. Great strength, thickness and width is a certainty.

7) Standing Dumbbell Press. All-around strength. Great for shoulders, back, neck even the chest gets a bit of work. Form, form, form. You need to use a weight that is comfortable, but challenging.

8) Dumbbell Curl. Timeless exercise. All about form, strength and patience. Yes, the politicians can’t ban the guns, but you need good form and a weight that is comfortable yet challenging.

9) Skullcrushers (Pullover Press). Animalistic power, size and savage strength is the name of the game here. Form, form, form!!!
10) Behind-neck press. Awesome for size, strength and bragging rights.

In closing, these are only ten of the many exercises that I consider great. Hopefully some of you gym rats out there can use what I have been using to get results, because that’s what it’s all about: 1) Good form 2) Passion 3) Results. These are the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!

Expansion

I have been wanting to do more with this platform. I stumbled over two apps, Discord and Vid.me. These two are great apps- Discord is the “Skype killer”, plus it’s free (from what I have seen). Vid.me allows for great original content with total freedom.

These are great times for fitness and wellness. For the Halcyon Fitness Group? Just another weapon in our arsenal. Keep your eyes on us. As a matter of fact, join us!!!

twitter: @halcyonfg16

Vid.me: vid.me/halcyonfg16

Discord: Look up Halcyon Fitness Group.

 

Things are changing. Exciting time to be alive.

Food Poisoning: What is it, What to do about it

With the changing of the seasons (since we are in springtime), comes good food- cookouts, more ready-to-eat foods, catering- you name it. Warm weather usually means more accessible, portable food. Unfortunately, food poisoning is a side effect of the plethora of great food choices out there. Did you know over 3000 people die annually of complications of food poisoning? This is no joke. Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms — including bacteria, viruses and parasites — or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning.

Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked.

Food poisoning symptoms, which can start within hours of eating contaminated food, often include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Most often, food poisoning is mild and resolves without treatment. But some people need to go to the hospital.
SYMPTOMS
Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

Nausea
Vomiting
Watery diarrhea
Abdominal pain and cramps
Fever
Signs and symptoms may start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks later. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from a few hours to several days.

When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, seek medical attention.

Frequent episodes of vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
Bloody vomit or stools
Diarrhea for more than three days
Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
An oral temperature higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C)
Signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle weakness and tingling in the arms.

CAUSES

Contamination of food can happen at any point during its production: growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing. Cross-contamination — the transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another — is often the cause. This is especially troublesome for raw, ready-to-eat foods, such as salads or other produce. Because these foods aren’t cooked, harmful organisms aren’t destroyed before eating and can cause food poisoning.

Many bacterial, viral or parasitic agents cause food poisoning. The following table shows some of the possible contaminants, when you might start to feel symptoms and common ways the organism is spread.

Contaminant Onset of symptoms Foods affected and means of transmission
Campylobacter 2 to 5 days Meat and poultry. Contamination occurs during processing if animal feces contact meat surfaces. Other sources include unpasteurized milk and contaminated water.
Clostridium botulinum 12 to 72 hours Home-canned foods with low acidity, improperly canned commercial foods, smoked or salted fish, potatoes baked in aluminum foil, and other foods kept at warm temperatures for too long.
Clostridium perfringens 8 to 16 hours Meats, stews and gravies. Commonly spread when serving dishes don’t keep food hot enough or food is chilled too slowly.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 1 to 8 days Beef contaminated with feces during slaughter. Spread mainly by undercooked ground beef. Other sources include unpasteurized milk and apple cider, alfalfa sprouts, and contaminated water.
Giardia lamblia 1 to 2 weeks Raw, ready-to-eat produce and contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Hepatitis A 28 days Raw, ready-to-eat produce and shellfish from contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Listeria 9 to 48 hours Hot dogs, luncheon meats, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and unwashed raw produce. Can be spread through contaminated soil and water.
Noroviruses (Norwalk-like viruses) 12 to 48 hours Raw, ready-to-eat produce and shellfish from contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Rotavirus 1 to 3 days Raw, ready-to-eat produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Salmonella 1 to 3 days Raw or contaminated meat, poultry, milk or egg yolks. Survives inadequate cooking. Can be spread by knives, cutting surfaces or an infected food handler.
Shigella 24 to 48 hours Seafood and raw, ready-to-eat produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
Staphylococcus aureus 1 to 6 hours Meats and prepared salads, cream sauces, and cream-filled pastries. Can be spread by hand contact, coughing and sneezing.
Vibrio vulnificus 1 to 7 days Raw oysters and raw or undercooked mussels, clams, and whole scallops. Can be spread through contaminated seawater.

RISK FACTORS
Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. High-risk groups include:

Older adults. As you get older, your immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as when you were younger.
Pregnant women. During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation may increase the risk of food poisoning. Your reaction may be more severe during pregnancy. Rarely, your baby may get sick, too.
Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
People with chronic disease. Having a chronic condition — such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS — or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.
COMPLICATIONS

The most common serious complication of food poisoning is dehydration — a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. If you’re a healthy adult and drink enough to replace fluids you lose from vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration shouldn’t be a problem.

Infants, older adults and people with suppressed immune systems or chronic illnesses may become severely dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they can replace. In that case, they may need to be hospitalized and receive intravenous fluids. In extreme cases, dehydration can be fatal.

Some types of food poisoning have potentially serious complications for certain people. These include:

Listeria monocytogenes. Complications of a listeria food poisoning may be most severe for an unborn baby. Early in pregnancy, a listeria infection may lead to miscarriage. Later in pregnancy, a listeria infection may lead to stillbirth, premature birth or a potentially fatal infection in the baby after birth — even if the mother was only mildly ill. Infants who survive a listeria infection may experience long-term neurological damage and delayed development.
Escherichia coli (E. coli). Certain E. coli strains can cause a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This syndrome damages the lining of the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, sometimes leading to kidney failure. Older adults, children younger than 5 and people with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing this complication. If you’re in one of these risk categories, see your doctor at the first sign of profuse or bloody diarrhea.

PREPARING FOR YOUR DOCTOR APPOINTMENT

If you or your child needs to see a doctor, you’ll likely see your primary care provider first. If there are questions about the diagnosis, your doctor may refer you to an infectious disease specialist.

What you can do

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Some questions to ask include:

What’s the likely cause of the symptoms? Are there other possible causes?
Is there a need for tests?
What’s the best treatment approach? Are there alternatives?
Is there a need for medication? If yes, is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing?
How can I ease the symptoms?
What to expect from your doctor

Some questions the doctor may ask include:

Has anyone in your family or otherwise close to you developed similar symptoms? If so, did you eat the same things?
Have you traveled anywhere where the water or food might not be safe?
Are you having bloody bowel movements?
Do you have a fever?
Had you taken antibiotics in the days or weeks before your symptoms started?
When did symptoms begin?
Have the symptoms been continuous, or do they come and go?
What foods have you eaten in the past few days?
What you can do in the meantime

Drink plenty of fluids. Stick with bland foods to reduce stress on your digestive system. If your child is sick, follow the same approach — offer plenty of fluids and bland food. If you’re breast-feeding or using formula, continue to feed your child as usual.

Ask your child’s doctor if giving your child an oral rehydration fluid (Pedialyte, Enfalyte, others) is appropriate. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems might also benefit from oral rehydration solutions. Medications that help ease diarrhea generally aren’t recommended for children.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Food poisoning is often diagnosed based on a detailed history, including how long you’ve been sick, your symptoms and specific foods you’ve eaten. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, looking for signs of dehydration.

Depending on your symptoms and health history, your doctor may conduct diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, stool culture or examination for parasites, to identify the cause and confirm the diagnosis.

For a stool culture, your doctor will send a sample of your stool to a laboratory, where a technician will try to identify the infectious organism. If an organism is found, your doctor likely will notify your local health department to determine if the food poisoning is linked to an outbreak.

In some cases, the cause of food poisoning can’t be identified.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Treatment for food poisoning typically depends on the source of the illness, if known, and the severity of your symptoms. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning may last longer.

Treatment of food poisoning may include:

Replacement of lost fluids. Fluids and electrolytes — minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body — lost to persistent diarrhea need to be replaced. Some children and adults with persistent diarrhea or vomiting may need hospitalization, where they can receive salts and fluids through a vein (intravenously), to prevent or treat dehydration.
Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning and your symptoms are severe. Food poisoning caused by listeria needs to be treated with intravenous antibiotics during hospitalization. The sooner treatment begins, the better. During pregnancy, prompt antibiotic treatment may help keep the infection from affecting the baby.
Adults with diarrhea that isn’t bloody and who have no fever may get relief from taking the medication loperamide (Imodium A-D) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol). Ask your doctor about these options.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Food poisoning often improves without treatment within 48 hours. To help keep yourself more comfortable and prevent dehydration while you recover, try the following:

Let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours.
Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. You might also try drinking clear soda, clear broth or noncaffeinated sports drinks, such as Gatorade. You’re getting enough fluid when you’re urinating normally and your urine is clear and not dark.
Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods, such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas and rice. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
Avoid certain foods and substances until you’re feeling better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
Rest. The illness and dehydration can weaken and tire you.

PREVENTING FOOD POISIONING

To prevent food poisoning at home:

Wash your hands, utensils and food surfaces often. Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces you use.
Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. When shopping, preparing food or storing food, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish away from other foods. This prevents cross-contamination.
Cook foods to a safe temperature. The best way to tell if foods are cooked to a safe temperature is to use a food thermometer. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature.

Cook ground beef to 160 F (71.1 C); steaks, roasts chops, such as lamb, pork and veal, to at least 145 F (62.8 C). Cook chicken and turkey to 165 F (73.9 C). Make sure fish and shellfish are cooked thoroughly.

Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly — within two hours of purchasing or preparing them. If the room temperature is above 90 F (32.2 C), refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.
Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen food using the “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting, be sure to cook it immediately.
Throw it out when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, discard it. Food left at room temperature too long may contain bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. Don’t taste food that you’re unsure about — just throw it out. Even if it looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat.
Food poisoning is especially serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. These individuals should take extra precautions by avoiding the following foods:

Raw or rare meat and poultry
Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops
Raw or undercooked eggs or foods that may contain them, such as cookie dough and homemade ice cream
Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, bean, clover and radish sprouts
Unpasteurized juices and ciders
Unpasteurized milk and milk products
Soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie and Camembert; blue-veined cheese; and unpasteurized cheese
Refrigerated pates and meat spreads
Uncooked hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats.

In closing, preparation always leads to a safe time, this being no exception. Food poisoning is no joke. It is an unfortunate (and unnecessary) side effect of good weather and good times. These tips we have given you will help you through the ordeal of food poisoning.
Stay safe out there eating.

SNACKING: Friend or Foe

Snacking. What can be said about such a sabouteur of diets worldwide? Lots of diets have gone by the wayside (maybe even yours) this year due to snacking and temptation… Here is a respite… well-planned, healthy snacks can complement your weight-loss plan. Here are creative and healthy ways to satisfy your hunger.

Your stomach is growling, but lunch is hours away. You could grab a snack, but you think it’s best to grit your teeth and wait for lunch. Not so, if weight loss is your goal.

In fact, well-planned weight-loss diets allow for healthy snacks to help manage hunger and reduce bingeing at mealtime. The key is to eat healthy snacks that satisfy your hunger and keep the calorie count low.

Healthy snacking

The best snacks are those that fill you up quickly, make you feel full until mealtime and add relatively few calories to your daily total. Fruits and vegetables meet these ideal snack requirements for several reasons:

Few calories. Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories. Even when you eat a portion that satisfies your hunger, the calorie count is low.
Lots of water. Most fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, which helps fill you up.

Lots of fiber. Fiber is the part of plants that you can’t absorb and that passes through your digestive system slowly. Fiber fills you up and helps you feel full longer.
Lots of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables provide healthy vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant chemicals (phytochemicals).
Little fat. Most high-fat foods are high in calories, but usually low in water content and fiber. In order to feel full with high-fat foods, you need to consume lots of calories. Most fruits and vegetables have very little fat.
100-calorie goal

A good goal for a between-meal snack is something with fewer than 100 calories. Generous portions of fruits or vegetables can easily help fill you up while staying below that calorie count. All of the following servings have fewer than 100 calories:

Medium apple: 95 calories
Small banana: 90 calories
Two kiwis: 84 calories
20 medium baby carrots: 70 calories
20 grapes: 68 calories
Medium orange: 65 calories
20 cherry tomatoes: 61 calories
Medium peach: 58 calories
Medium red pepper: 37 calories
20 pea pods: 28 calories
For comparison, one reduced-fat cheese stick has about 60 calories 100-calorie but it also has 4.5 grams of fat. While the protein and fat may help curb your appetite, a single cheese stick may not be as satisfying as, say, 20 baby carrots, which add up to nearly 10 times the weight of the cheese stick, have 70 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.
Fresh is best, but . . .

While fresh fruits and vegetables are the best choices for between-meal snacks, frozen fruits and vegetables are a good alternative. And canned fruit packed in its own juices or water — not in syrup — is a reasonable choice even though the processing does somewhat lower the nutrient value.

Other snack options

Other snacks that are healthy and low in calories include the following:

Popcorn. Two cups of air-popped popcorn has 62 calories and is a good source of nutrients, such as magnesium and potassium.
Whole-grain crispbreads. Toasted whole-grain bread crackers, such as rye Melba toast, are good sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Five pieces of Melba toast have about 97 calories.
Hummus. Hummus is made primarily from chickpeas, a small amount of ground sesame seeds and olive oil. It’s a good source of protein. Although it contains fats, they are mostly healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Two tablespoons of hummus — a good dip for a low-calorie vegetable snack — has 50 calories and 2.8 grams of fat.
Nuts. While nuts may have a bad reputation, research studies have shown that they don’t generally contribute to increased calorie intake or weight gain when eaten in moderation, in part because you feel satisfied after eating them. Nuts also have been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and overall mortality. Thirteen almonds provide a 100-calorie snack with 7.8 grams of healthy fats.
Making snack time work for you
Healthy snacking requires planning. Here are some tips to snack sensibly:

Keep your house stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. Buy a variety so that you don’t get bored with your selection.
Keep a supply of frozen or canned fruits at home and work for backup.
Don’t keep conventional snacks, such as candy or chips, in the house.
Have a small amount of mixed nuts when hungry, which will go a long way toward decreasing hunger sensations.
Experiment with herbs or spices to make fruits and vegetables more interesting.
Prepare snacks in the evening for the next day. For example, before bedtime slice up a red pepper, wash an apple or count out a snack-size serving of grapes. Put the snack in a container so that it’s ready to go in the morning.
Planning ahead by having healthy choices on hand can help make your weight-loss or weight-maintenance plan a success.
In closing, “bodies are made in the kitchen”. You must make that commitment to being great…. dieting, exercise, whatever it is you are looking to do. Never forget the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!!

Mediterranean Diet: A Delicious Alternative.

Healthy fats

The focus of the Mediterranean diet isn’t on limiting total fat consumption, but rather to make wise choices about the types of fat you eat. The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), both of which contribute to heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet features olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat — a type of fat that can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated or trans fats.

“Extra-virgin” and “virgin” olive oils — the least processed forms — also contain the highest levels of the protective plant compounds that provide antioxidant effects.

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil and some nuts, contain the beneficial linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure.

Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet.

Wine

The health effects of alcohol have been debated for many years, and some doctors are reluctant to encourage alcohol consumption because of the health consequences of excessive drinking.

However, alcohol — in moderation — has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in some research studies.

The Mediterranean diet typically includes a moderate amount of wine. This means no more than 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine daily for women (or men over age 65), and no more than 10 ounces (296 milliliters) of wine daily for men under age 65.

If you’re unable to limit your alcohol intake to the amounts defined above, if you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, or if you have heart or liver disease, refrain from drinking wine or any other alcohol.

Putting it all together

The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who switch to this style of eating say they’ll never eat any other way. Here are some specific steps to get you started:

  • Eat your veggies and fruits — and switch to whole grains. An abundance and variety of plant foods should make up the majority of your meals. Strive for seven to 10 servings a day of veggies and fruits. Switch to whole-grain bread and cereal, and begin to eat more whole-gain rice and pasta products.
  • Go nuts. Keep almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts on hand for a quick snack. Choose natural peanut butter, rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Try tahini (blended sesame seeds) as a dip or spread for bread.
  • Pass on the butter. Try olive or canola oil as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. Use it in cooking. Dip bread in flavored olive oil or lightly spread it on whole-grain bread for a tasty alternative to butter. Or try tahini as a dip or spread.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices make food tasty and are also rich in health-promoting substances. Season your meals with herbs and spices rather than salt.
  • Go fish. Eat fish once or twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid fried fish, unless it’s sauteed in a small amount of canola oil.
  • Rein in the red meat. Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. When eaten, make sure it’s lean and keep portions small (about the size of a deck of cards). Also avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat meats.
  • Choose low-fat dairy. Limit higher fat dairy products such as whole or 2 percent milk, cheese and ice cream. Switch to skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese.
  • Raise a glass to healthy eating. If it’s OK with your doctor, have a glass of wine at dinner. If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t need to start. Drinking purple grape juice may be an alternative to wine.