By: Susan Howard
This is my tater tot series part two, furthering the inquiry about how to keep your child at a healthy weight and give them habits for years to come.
Never tell your child to eat everything on their plate.
Teach them to listen to their body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness. Let them be in charge of taking inventory as much as possible.
Fill their plates with tons of colorful nutritious options and then let them decide how much of what they eat. Our pediatrician, Dr. Liddy, told us kids will self regulate if given the chance. Isn’t that what you ultimately want?
When they are out of the house you aren’t going to be there telling them to finish their veggies. (Unless they are still in the house after college, which seems common these days, but is a different story.)
Teach them about what food does. Brandy is tireless in explaining that protein builds your muscles, milk helps your bones get strong, carbohydrates gives you energy and veggies help give you vitamins to see, and keep you feeling good. It doesn’t have to be too complex simple stuff like that broccoli has fiber in it so you can poop. Then they understand what a balanced diet is and why they need it.
Take them to local farmers markets, farms, and berry picking spots. Teach them that food doesn’t come from a package, it comes from the ground or a pasture. Allow your children to have a connection with what real food is. No it’s not in a Twinkie wrapper.
Plant a garden, herbs is an easy one to start with, and let them help. My daughter loves dirt and worms and being a little pioneer toddler, she’s a regular Laura Engles. She also now loves basil, parsley, and rosemary, and can pick it right off the vine.
Cook with your kids. Start with something easy that involves a lot of stirring and pouring. There is a fun recipe that is basically penne pasta, veggies and cheese in a muffin tin, super easy pasta muffins.
Make healthy foods flavorful. Take a cooking class, buy a new cookbook, watch the Food Network. If your kids aren’t eating it, up your game.
Limit excessive television watching. One of my clients just told me her house rule, if the sun is out no television. I like that because it seems to encourage kids to take on the day be active.
Inquire about the hot lunch program at your school. Be involved and try link fresh produce with the cafeteria. It is a battle worth fighting for.
By: Susan Howard
It used to be, if I didn’t sprint three 8 minute miles up hill, followed by 100 pushups and 500 crunches it wasn’t a workout. If the veins in my head weren’t about to explode I wasn’t doing anything. A 45minute hike was something I did to shake my legs out. Even an hour and a half yoga class didn’t count as more than a rest day. It was then that I taught at Barry’s Bootcamp in West Hollywood, where all the supermodels and twiggy actress go. There is something funny about Hollywood in that it attracts very pretty people who will stop at nothing to be in ridiculously good shape. As the instructor, it was my job to push the clients to the furthest possible place their bodies could handle. This method brought results. Assuming the overstressed ultra routine didn’t leave you injured you might get down to 10 percent body fat with toned muscles.
That was ten years ago. Now I count EVERYTHING as a workout. Hikes with friends, walks with the dog, tennis you name it. My point of view has changed from needing to max out every gym visit to celebrating movement in my day. Each day I aspire to move for at least 20 minutes. I tell my clients to try for the same. I do still go to the gym and sometimes put myself through a balls to the wall routine, it just depends on my mood.
My point is this, don’t discount activity, pay attention to each day and even if it’s not the max reps, gasping for breathe effort, commit to an active life.
You will feel better. You will see thinks clearer.
The world is waiting. Start now.
Susan Howard is a private trainer in Los Angeles
By Susan Howard
Instead of my usual blog about health and fitness, I wanted to take this moment to honor one of my clients who in the past 6 months has melted away over 40 pounds. My clients are constantly inspiring me to do better and I thought it would be nice to highlight her journey. She is, I must let you know a busy mom of 2, a full time doctor, as well as a women that goes out on girls weekends and dinner dates with her husband. I’ve heard about these profound weight losses and have watched the shows where someone drops half their body weight, but I want to give the regular busy Joe or Jane an insight to how it’s really done. She asked to remain anonymous, but here it is in her words.
Me: “What is the most significant thing you’ve changed?”
Her: It is impossible to isolate one, single change. So, I will take a minute to ramble on about a few key differences in my attitude towards food and exercise, and in my daily habits.
1) I think I’ve had significant weight loss success because I made important changes to both my eating habits and exercise routine. I know people who go to the gym religiously, but do not change what or how much they are eating, and then act surprised when they don’t lose weight. Conversely, some people calorie restrict but remain completely sedentary, again without achieving significant results. I felt it was important for me to approach this as a complete lifestyle overhaul and to make healthy changes both in my eating AND exercise habits simultaneously.
2) I did not immediately over-restrict, but gradually decreased my food intake over time. I started out by cutting back to 1700 kcal/day, which is actually still quite a bit of food, and was able to loose a good deal of weight without feeling deprived or hungry. After a few months of eating 1700 calories and feeling quite satisfied with this regimen, I cut back to 1500 kcal/day by making just a few small changes (dropped 1 yogurt and 1 serving of almonds), easy. A few months later, I dropped down to 1200 kcal/day on most days, and 1500 kcal/day on days when I exercise, which is the routine that I maintain today. I like the variation and the idea of a little reward for exercising (a frozen yogurt and a serving of rosemary and sea salt marcona almonds.)
3) I found ways to keep eating my favorite foods, just in smaller portions. For instance, having a large latte with low fat milk (not skim!) is something that I enjoy immensely and look forward to each morning. I have easily incorporated it into my diet such that I have one every single day. Likewise, I have a 150 kcal dessert every day – Cadbury cream egg? Why not? Handful of goldfish (55 to be exact)? Of course! Small wedge of decadent cheese? Absolutely. I’ve come to a place in my thinking about food where I am satisfied having 1 cream egg, and no longer feel a compulsion to eat 5 or 6. I can have 3 bites of Trader Joe’s chocolate pudding and feel content. I never thought I would be the person who could stop eating after 1 or 2 bites, but that is exactly who I’ve become. I have complete control over my intake of food now. I’m not sure how I was able to make this profound attitude change it just came gradually over time with lots and lots of practice.
4) I threw out the “must do a solid 45 minutes of cardio” mentality, and replaced it with a love for and understanding of the importance of strength training. This is where you, Susan Howard, have been an invaluable and completely integral part of my weight loss journey. My body feels and looks different because for the first time in my life, I have lost weight by routinely engaging in light to moderate strength/resistance training in combination with moderate cardiovascular exercise. My husband has commented several times on how I seem more fit and look different/better than I have after previous weight losses. He maintains that my overall body composition is different/more toned/healthier looking than it has been in the past, even when I weighed less than I do now.
5) I gave up my gym membership! Susan told me, “The best gym is the one that you use.” Well, I wasn’t using mine at all, due to a serious time crunch with a full time job and 2 kids. So, for the first time in 25 years, I gave up my gym membership and started working out at home, this was the best fitness change I’ve ever made. I now know that I can achieve better results at home with a spin bike (for 10-30 minutes of cardio) plus a mat, a set of 5, 8, 10 and 12 pound weights, a 4 pound medicine ball and a resistance band than I ever achieved pounding away for 45 minutes on an elliptical machine at the gym. By working out at home I am able to take advantage of golden opportunities for exercise (do it while the baby is napping! Or while the kids are gardening with dad), prefect for a 30-60 minute home workout, but would not have allowed for a time-sucking trip to the gym. I also vary my workout every time I exercise, so as to avoid boredom and to be challenging different muscle groups. This is where having a regular meeting with Susan has been invaluable, because it allows me to constantly be adding new exercises and to be tweaking old ones as I grow stronger. My years of extreme gym boredom and monotony are forever gone!
Summary: Eat 1200-1500 kcal/day
Exercise 30-60 min, 3-4 times per week
20 min cardio + 30 min strength
Typical day’s food:
Morning: Large low fat latte
200 kcal breakfast muffin/bar
Lunch: 250 kcal Lean Cuisine
1 string cheese
Afternoon snack: 110 kcal Fiber one bar + 1 fruit
Late afternoon snack: Carrots + Light Laughing Cow cheese (35 kcal)
Dinner: 250 kcal Lean Cuisine
Spinach/Arugula Salad with 1 Tbl Girard’s Light Champagne Dressing
Dessert: 100 kcal Trader Joe’s milk chocolate bar
Optional (if exercised): 130 kcal yogurt (frozen or regular) OR 1 oz goat cheese on salad and 10 almonds
That’s all folks, not too confusing. That was her trail and she travels on to this day. Right on!
By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer
Habits are often thought of in a negative way. Something to be kicked…smoking, nail biting, boozing, getting that sugar fix…the list goes on and on.
We poor mortals are victims of our habits. Unconnected to our repetitive behaviors, we simply must continue acting them out. How did it all begin?
Well let’s break it down. At one point way back when, you felt anxious (or tired or bored) and you turned to sugar, which relaxed you, or gave you a momentary burst of energy. Now that action has imprinted itself as something to help you fulfill that void. Then you become addicted to the substance, and at this point you don’t even really need a reason to turn to the habit. The habit becomes the cue.
Our brains are so overwhelmed, sifting through constant stimuli to decipher what is important and what isn’t. Once something becomes a true habit our brain goes into cruise control and doesn’t even need to think; it just repeats itself.
Knowing that we like patterns, that familiarity is comfortable to us…why not use this to our advantage? Create a routine to workout everyday (if possible the same time of day). Put out your shoes and clothes the night before, get your same water bottle ready, all of it.
At first it will take thought. But ultimately it will become such a ritual that you may not even remember doing it. Your brain goes into autopilot. Then when you miss it, you will crave it. Like a junkie.
So….I want you to have a nasty habit, a dark little secret you partake in at the crack of dawn, something that makes you jittery if you skip using it even once.
By Susan Howard, Fitness Ghuru
Often I hear clients complain about not having time to workout, which translates to not wanting to workout. I have been training long enough to know that people are only going to do what they want to do.
Why don’t people want to workout? Why not? It’s because they forget how awesome it feels. How incredible it is when your body burns through that ATP, lungs take in oxygen, the adrenal glands release epinephrine, endorphins kick in, the heart rate raises up and the blood is pumping.
When I am at my best I feel strong. Being static makes me feel lazy and like there are no possibilities. Energy equals more energy. Kind of like you get what you pay for, or you reap what you sow.
So why don’t people want to workout? Because they haven’t found the thing they love. Here are a couple photos from a hike and a run I took last week. Embracing my true spirit up in the mountains. I stand in awe of these moments in that I wonder why do I have to beg people to get moving, to commune with nature, to be who they truly are? WE ARE MOVERS! We are supposed to move. It shouldn’t be that big of a bummer to run in beauty and feel powerful. It’s amazing. It’s out there. It’s your day. Take it.
By: Susan Howard
A client of mine lost about ten pounds last year and is holding strong to her new fighting weight. “I am done,” she exclaimed. “I am tired of gaining and losing the same ten pounds. This time is the last.” There was something very definitive about how she pronounced the end of the games she plays with her weight. She is tossing away that habit. Gone.
Another client who is now down a full clothes size was going through her closet realizing a bunch of stuff doesn’t fit -it’s too baggy. “Give it away,” I tell her. “I know,” she laments. “But what if I gain it back, then I’ll have nothing to wear?” Exactly. First of all, the old stuff is probably out of style, and either way it fits the old you -not the one you are becoming. Also, if you are frugal like I am and hate to spend money, then it could serve as an extra incentive to keep the pounds off.
Allow yourself to change, make changes, and then step into the new version of who you’ve become.
Creating new habits takes effort, making little decisions each day that culminate into a larger metamorphosis. Only by exorcising your old self can you clear a space for the new you to be born. Can I get a Hallelujah?
Let’s stay open and also take charge of 2013. It is all inside you to have -whatever year you decide. Make a choice and stick to it, be unwavering, be fierce. You got this. Now go get a garbage bag and throw out your old stuff or, even better, donate it.
A question to you the reader: have you been successful at losing weight and keeping it off? If you have, let me know what worked in your transformation by commenting below.
A University of San Francisco study of more than 2,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide found that most do not warn their patients about environmental hazards as related to pregnancy, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Although they routinely discuss smoking, alcohol, diet and weight gain, only 19 percent talk to their patients about pesticides, 12 percent discuss air pollution and only 11 percent talk about VOCs emitted from things like paint. A mere eight percent discuss phthalates, with five percent extending the discussion to BPA.
Yet studies link low levels of these chemicals in pregnancy to disruption of fetal brain and reproductive system development, as well as increased risks of birth defects, cancer, immune problems, asthma and other problems later in life.
Add this to the fact that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide monitoring program of pregnant women found 43 chemicals present in all subjects—including lead, mercury, toluene, perchlorate, bisphenol A, flame retardants, perfluorinated compounds, organochlorine pesticides and phthalates—and this shapes up to be a serious problem.
So why aren’t doctors talking to their patients about environmental factors? “Despite evidence that environmental factors contribute to many health problems, medical students report fewer than six hours of environmental health training, according to University of Texas School of Medicine researchers,” the Chronicle story reported.
A frightening example of this trend is mercury. According to the story, fetal exposure to mercury has been linked to lower IQs and other negative effects on developing brains, and an estimated 300,000 newborns each year—one out of every 14—are exposed to mercury levels that exceed those set by the EPA as safe in pregnancy.
Yet despite the fact that the dangers of mercury are well established—since 2004, the EPA and the FDA have warned pregnant women to avoid high-mercury fish like swordfish, shark and tuna; the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issues annual statements to members about the importance of avoiding these fish during pregnancy—only four out of 10 doctors discuss mercury with pregnant women, and a mere nine percent talk with their patients about PCBs, industrial compounds that are also found in fish.
What can you do? If you’re pregnant, or thinking about it, take a quick peek at this oldie-but-goodie slideshow, which presents some quick tips on how to create a safer pregnancy.
By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer
Decades ago NIKE coined the phrase “Just Do It.” Lately my workouts have become less and less significant, in that by the afternoon I can’t totally recall having done one or not. Then I think back to the wee hour that I stumbled on to the treadmill, or up the canyon or I feel soreness in my abs and I think oh yeah I think I did workout.
For this last six months I have been committing to working out everyday for 20 to 60 minutes. I say “everyday” allowing myself flexibility to mess up, still making it 5 or 6 workouts a week. Traditionally I hate working out in the morning, but I realize that for consistency’s sake that is the only way I will get it done. Also working out on an empty stomach is my optimum, although not recommended.
If you are a child growing up in India you likely practice yoga in the morning before heading off to school. The Chinese have their Tai Chi to start their day. We have Starbucks and Frosted Flakes. In this country, it feels like there are two camps: the super fit Ultra Marathoners or the couch potatoes. So American…we want to go big or go home.
I urge you this next year to take your resolutions pen out, and commit to working out everyday 20 to 60 minutes. Each workout won’t be your hardest one. They will likely become less of a big deal either way. You will form a habit, a pattern that is just the backdrop of your everyday. As you move through life a bit sharper and resonating health and wellness, it will merely be how you roll.
Create consistency in your life and energy in your body, I promise you will feel better than last year. I wish this for you my readers if I could wish anything. It’s not a big deal, it’s not monumental, start small if you’ve been out of commission in the fitness front. Don’t ask yourself if you are in the mood or not.
Just Do It.
20 minute blast advanced:
60 jumping jacks
10 decline pushups / feet high, hands low
30 crunches / straight leg, toe reaches
40 mountain climbers / top of the push up alternate marching legs
20 deep squats / feet hips distance, slightly turned out
Rest 1 minute repeat 5 times.
By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff
You’re making your list and checking it twice, but do you know what’s in the toys you’re stuffing in those stockings? Here are some quick tips to follow:
1. Avoid plastics made from or including BPA, PET, PVC and Styrofoam. 2. Look for toys made from natural materials like wood and cloth. 3. Choose gifts that are made locally.
That last tip is a quick and easy way to limit the levels of cadmium, lead and other toxic chemicals to which children are exposed.
In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed to regulate lead and phthalates in toys and infant products after a public scare related to the problem of tainted toys, imported mainly from China.
Some states are looking even closer at products marketed to kids, such as Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act, Maine’s Kid’s Safe Products Act and California’s Green Chemistry Initiative.
How to tell which toys are naughty and which are nice? Before you shop, take a minute to check Parents magazine’s list of this year’s toy recalls.
And if you’re still set on plastic, try to assess what type you’re buying by looking for a “chasing arrow” symbol on the bottom of the toy. As with all plastic products, avoid the numbers 1 (PET), 3 (PVC) and 6 (Styrofoam), and seek out those marked “BPA-free.”
PET and PVC (also known as vinyl) are softened with phthalates. Even low levels of phthalates have been linked to birth defects, obesity and asthma.
Styrofoam takes 500 years to degrade, dissolves into tiny bits that end up in the ocean, is rarely recyclable, and last year it was assessed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the government.
And BPA, used to harden plastics, is a hormone disruptor; it mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked to obesity, anxiety and a brain tumor called meningloma, among other problems.
That’s a list worth checking twice.
Update 12.10.12: Hasbro commits to eliminating PVC from toy and game packaging beginning in 2013, and has already started phasing out PVC from packaging; BPA was voluntarily eliminated from their products in 2011. I’d like to see PVC out of product, too, but looks like this company is on the right track! Read more in Hasbro’s corporate report, which I learned about from blogger Richard Liroff.
This post originally appeared on MommyGreenest.com
By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer
Drop it like a hot potato.
A lot of times my blogs are of spirit and inspiration; this one is about getting CUT UP. So take note, print this one and take if with you to the gym.
Drop sets mean exactly that: you start with one weight, you drop them down and pick up different weights –lighter ones– and repeat the same move.
Let’s take a chest press for example. Pick up a fairly heavy weight; chicks might use 20 lb/10 lb and dudes maybe 50 lb/30 lb dumbbells. Your first set is 10 reps. Then, without stopping, drop down the heavies and grab the lighter set for 10 more reps. Rest for one minute, then go again, and then go again. Three sets in all. The first set you are working power; the drop set gets you more into muscular endurance.
You should try this pattern with rows, pull downs, curls, shoulder presses, and squats. You could even do a weighted crunch, then a drop the weight and do the same move using only your body weight.
Okay stop reading and get dropping.