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mindful minute

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Tag Archives: nutrition


Mark Fontaine

Unhealthy eating concept : Stock Photo

The world is becoming addicted to unhealthy food. Childhood obesity is rampant. We have become slaves to the insidious practices of big food companies. There is a lack of political will to address the problems.

 North Americans have doubled their sugar intake since 1977. There has been an explosion of Type 2 diabetes in the past 30 years. Weight-loss industries are worth billions.

 14-year-olds are getting lap band surgery. The prognosis isn’t good: This is the first generation of kids in two centuries expected to live shorter lives than their parents.

Why isn’t anything being done about it?  Is there collusion between government and big food? Processed food remains cheap and accessible. School nutrition budgets have been slashed. Fast food is served in most schools. Companies dump so much sugar (in so many different forms) into food labeled non-fat or low fat that “healthier” options are often anything but. Attempts to crack down on practices that are clearly harmful to kids are met with accusations of a nanny state.

Exercise campaigns will continue to be massive failures for only addressing half the problem. Few politician have the will to risk of taking on the big money food companies.

Research suggests that sugar may be linked to deadly diseases, but current food labelling regulations make it tough for people to get an easy picture of how much they are consuming. Don’t look for that to change any time soon. Researchers have linked sugar to diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer and Alzheimer’s.

 We have become used to warnings about the dangers of consuming too much fat or salt, nutrition labels on food but labels have never included recommended daily limits for sugar. Sugar industry spokespeople say they see “no need” for a recommended daily limit on sugar intake.

 According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar per day. That works out to 40 kilograms per year, or roughly 100 pounds.

The American Heart Association is suggesting men consume no more than nine teaspoons a day. For women, the recommendation is a maximum of six teaspoons.

 Current food labelling regulation can make it difficult for consumers who want to avoid sugar. Many labels list multiple kinds of sweeteners with different names. For example, honey, barley malt syrup and evaporated cane juice could all be listed separately, even though the human body treats them all as sugar.

 Also, sugar is measured in grams on labels, instead of more consumer friendly teaspoons. For someone trying to keep track of intake, four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

 In a can of Coke, there are more than 10 teaspoons of sugar. “Healthy Choice” microwave chicken dinner has 5½ teaspoons.

 Because of the epidemic of obesity in our society today, it has created a new industry of over-sized caskets for people when they die. A company called Goliath Caskets boast widths as much as 52 inches.  No word on how many pallbearers are required.

 You may want to familiarize yourself with food labels and ingredients that are masquerading sugars, or instead, check out Goliath Caskets and make a reservation. I have a feeling their business will be booming.





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Mindful Fitness

 Written by Mark Fontaine

 Exercise does more than just tone your body, it boosts self-esteem, improves mood and revs up metabolism. So suck it up and get moving! 

 Set a goal. Working towards something helps motivation.  Make your goal realistic.  If you have been a couch potato for over a decade, don’t set yourself up for failure by having a goal of running a marathon by Easter.

 Record your progress. Write down what you have achieved regularly. Seeing how far you have come is a great motivator.

 Start small. Don’t over do it. You may want to consult your doctor. Stay at around 70 percent of your maximum heart rate at first. As the weeks progress and you become stronger and more fit, begin to up your intensity for best results.

Accommodate your body clock and schedule.  Are you a morning person? Do you have childcare obligations in the morning or after work?

Be consistent.  Say to yourself, “I eat every day so I need to burn calories every day.”

Make physical activity fun. Listen to music.  Run on a scenic trail.  Watch a favorite television program while you ride an exercise bicycle or walk on a tread mill.

If you find yourself tired of the same old exercise routine, chances are your body is too. It’s time to switch things up if you want to see results.  Do you need to enlist a friend to push you to workout when you really don’t want to and vice versa? Is it time to invest in a workout video game, or purchase a martial arts, yoga or pilates DVD?  Don’t be afraid to mix things up.

Work around the weather. You may need to run before sunrise or sunset to beat heat.  You may need to walk in a mall to avoid cold or rain. Do not let unfavorable weather sideline your program.

Eat mindfully.  It takes about 30 minutes on a treadmill to burn off the calories in a donut. Eat a couple donuts and you could be running for a very long time. Regular workouts will increase your metabolism and help you burn off even more calories between workouts. Do not exercise without proper nutrition.  If you workout on an empty stomach, you will burn muscle as opposed to fat.

Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Work toward 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for optimal results.

Throw in some circuit training. This is an exercise technique that uses a series of moves in rapid succession without any rest in between. For example: push-ups into squats followed by jumping jacks. This method allows your workouts to attack several muscle groups as well as strengthen and burn fat at the same time.

Another way to intensify is to try incorporating high intensity interval training. This simply means working short 30 to 60 second bouts of cardio into your strength training routine.

It is very important to be mindful of your form when exercising.  This will not only help prevent injuries, it is the key to getting the results you want quickly. Think quality over quantity. Take the time to perfect your form.

Remember, six pack abs are not about crunches. You cannot spot reduce fat. The best way to get washboard abs is by burning the fat off on top of the muscle through nutrition, cardio, and total body resistance training.

Are you pressed for time?  Each little thing helps.  Can you squeeze in 3-10 minute blocks into at least 5 days a week?  Be creative. 

Choose a nutrition plan that fits your body type.  It should be adjustable to your lifestyle so that you won’t get off track with your goals.  Be mindful that nutrition and fitness go hand in hand.  If you are not eating right you will not achieve the best results.

Buy clothing and shoes that are comfortable.  Good shoes may be expensive but are essential.  You may want to extend the life of your expensive shoes by limiting their use to indoor workouts. 

Never get down on yourself if you suffer a setback. We all skip a workout here or there.  The key is to not fall into a pattern of avoidance.  If you are feeling particularly tired, sore or sick, could you at least manage a 15 minute stretch routine?  If so, do it.  At least you will have done something and will have some momentum going forward.

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Mindful Nutrition

Written by Mark Fontaine

What’s is healthy eating? It’s hard to know these days, isn’t it? Regardless of the types of foods you eat, most all nutritionists agree on three basic concepts: balance, moderation and variation.

Balance: Most professionals suggest a balance of Carbohydrate at 55-65%, Protein at 10-15% and Fats at no higher than 30% of total calories.  Also, balance refers to choosing healthier foods more often than foods that are less healthy.

Moderation: Obesity is at epidemic rates.  A huge concern for the eater is portion control. How much food is enough and how much is too much?  Be mindful to plan food portion sizes.  Remember, the feeling of fullness in the stomach takes as long as twenty minutes to hit the brain.  It is important to eat slowly and stop at the first sign of a full feeling. Moderation involves learning the distinct difference between true fullness and eating as recreation.

Variation: It is best to include several food-types. A wide-variety of foods increases the likelihood of acquiring the required amounts of essential nutrients. Vitamin and mineral composition is food-specific. Variation also helps to avoid food boredom.  Try new foods.  Expand your pantry with healthy, exciting foods.  An excellent way of making sure that you really start to burn away some fat, control blood sugars and artery clogging plaque is to include the following foods in your diet: fat free dairy, lean protein, whole grain carbs and healthy fats.

Fat free dairy products are high in calcuim. Calcuim has been shown to aid in weight loss. Switching to fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese will play a critical role in preventing osteoporosis.   Low fat sources of calcium may be better absorbed than the calcium found in supplements, because lactose, which is also found in dairy, but not in supplements, appears to aid its absorption.  Studies show that low fat dairy products help people lose weight from the stomach area than those taking calcium supplements or eating a low-calcium diet.  Dairy’s calcium is also essential in protecting from colon cancer and helping normalize blood pressure. 

Lean protein helps build lean muscle mass and boosts your metabolism. Stick to lean protein and limit the rest.  Good quality lean proteins include beans, fish, poultry and tofu. Protein is an energizer-physically and mentally. It builds muscle. Muscle cells produce energy. Protein releases energizing neurotransmitters in the brain, creating a positive, confident state. Contrarily, high quantities of simple carbohydrates, particularly sugars and processed grain products, release seratonin, which induces sleepiness and lethargy. 

Whole grain carbs keep you fuller for longer.  If you are fuller for longer, you burn more calories and eat less. Good carb choices includes whole-grain wheat, whole-grain oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa. If you stick to healthy, low glycemic index carbs, you will weigh less. For centuries, we ate whole grains straight from the plant stalk. It gave us a rich package high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, enzymes and phytonutrients.  Modern milling strips away the bran, germ, and healthy oils that need refrigeration to keep from spoiling. This makes grains easier to store and gives them a much longer shelf life.  Processed grains lose fiber, oils, 90% of vitamin E and half of B vitamins. Eaters pay a high physical price for these high glycemic index foods. Whole grains and other unprocessed carbs can prevent constipation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, offer protection against many forms of cancer and help protect from developing type 2 diabetes.

Healthy fats, like nuts, olives and avocadoes, are good for you. Don’t be afraid of all fats.  Believe it or not, if you eat the right types of fats, you will be fuller and it will help you to eat less, lose weight and fat.  The total amount of fat you eat isn’t really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat.  The bad fats—saturated and trans fats—increase the risk for certain diseases. The good fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk.  Substitute good fats for bad fats and avoid trans fats.

Next time:  Mindful Fitness

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