Come join me on SGW Fabulously Healthy

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Fans of fitness, nutrition and fun unite! Use this forum to share and learn solutions for the brighter side of healthy living .

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Why you should go organic today


I admit that I am amazed every-time I walk down the supermarket aisle and see the prices of organic goods. So what. In my opinion, living organic IS more expensive than not in the same way that getting regular check ups is beneficial in the prevention and maintenance of good health. Pay a little more now for better health now and later. So why should you even bother to go organic? well, here is something to remember: the huge amount of additives used in non-organic goods were not made for human consumption . These pesticides, preservatives, fragrances and dyes  accumulate in our system over time and some have been shown to disrupt some of our biological functions  They then lead to  problems like allergies, hormonal imbalance, cancers, nervous system problems and thyroid dysfunction.  Still, I get that it might not be in your budget to drop a lot of cash on making your entire household organic. Lucky for you,  the Environmental Working Group has a list of the items you should begin with first.** Make sure to look for the USDA certified organic logo**

Eating Organic: EWG has published a “Dirty Dozen” list naming the top 12 produce items treated with the most pesticides (see below)

  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Bell pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries

Read the whole list…
Cosmetics: According to the EWG’s research, there are specific ingredients that cause the problems listed above. Be especially diligent with the products you use frequently  and that stay on your skin like face ad body lotions. Here is what to avoid:

  • Parabens because they disrupt hormones (especially in teen girls). They are found in almost every cosmetic out there especially lotions.
  • Triclosan  and triclocarbon because it can cause thyroid and environmental issues. Triclosan is found in many antibacterial items.
  • Triethanolamine (TEA) because it triggers allergies and is toxic
  • Sodium Lauryl or laureth sulfate because it causes skin damage and is toxic. It is found in lathering soaps and shampoos.
  • DMDM hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl because they are toxic contaminants
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone because they trigger allergies and affect your nervous systems.

Read more here…

Kids’ products: The EWG recommends avoiding these products for children

  1. Avoid boric acid and sodium borate in diaper cream
  2. Avoid 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol in baby wipes
  3. Avoid toothpaste with fluoride for children under 2
  4. Avoid play makeup like lipstick, perfume, and nail polish

See where this is going? This is all research based information! It just seems easier to go organic than have to remember all that, right? The good news is that most pharmacies and groceries offer organic options and sometimes even organic versions of their store brands at a lower price.

The “mini work” workout


Stuck in an office for most of the day? Wish you could squeeze a few exercises into your day so that you could ease up after work? Well, yes, you can! Here are a few exercises you can do in the office that won’t necessarily make you look like a crazy person ( at least not more than usual)

  1. Butt squeezes: These are great because you don’t have to leave your chair. Simply  sit up straight and clench your buns together, hold for 20 seconds and release.  Repeat  2 sets of 20 repetitions.
  2. Wall sits: You should probably do this away from prying eyes. Find a flat wall and stand with your back against it with your feet hip width apart.  Slide down until you’re in a sitting position and your knees form a 90 degree angle. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 sets of 30 seconds.
  3. Wall push-ups; Stand approximately an arms length away from the same flat wall. Make sure your arms are extended in front of you chest width apart. Place your hands flat against the wall and lean forward so that you’re on your tip-toes. * Your body should be leaning diagonally towards the wall* Bend your elbows and lower your body, chest first, towards the wall until your chest is parallel with your elbows. Push the wall away from you and straighten your arms. Repeat 2 sets of 15 or 3 sets of 10.
  4. Leg lifts: Stand sideways while holding onto a  chair. Straighten your outer leg, flex your outer foot and lift your leg away from your body using your hip and glute muscles.* Make sure the foot of the lifting leg stays flexed and the toes point forward and NOT up towards the ceiling. The knee of the supporting leg should be slightly bent.  Repeat 2 sets of 15 reps on each leg.
  5. Tricep dips: Sit on the very edge of that same chair with your hands gripping the edges very close to your hips. Your knees and heels should be together in front of you. Lift your toes so that you’re on your heels. Slowly inch your hips off the chair so that you’re approximately 2 inches away from it and your elbows are bent behind you at a 90 degree angle. Lower yourself towards the ground and then straighten your elbows to bring yourself back up. Repeat 2 sets of 15 reps * The degree of difficulty increases the straighter your knees so so choose bent knees if you’re a beginner and straighter to straight legs if you need more intensity. Remember to stay on your heels with your toes up.

The joys of stretch


If you’ve ever said ” Oh, my aching (insert muscle here) then chances are you need a good stretch. The thing with stretching is that we all know we’re supposed to do it but many of us don’t. When we do make attempts at stretching it’s usually a perfunctory pull here and there before and after exercise. Sorry but that’s not gonna cut it if you really want all the benefits of the stretch:

Stress Relief: Doesn’t it feel really good when you do stretch? That’s because it’s good for you! When you stretch you relieve the accumulated tension in your joints and muscles that are caused by stress and exercise. Less tension = less stress

Increased range of motion: Ever see those guys in the gym who are so muscled and tight that they can’t even fully extend their arms? Their elbow ligaments have basically shortened up due to only working in a specific range of  motion for a bicep curl. The same could happen to you if you continuously stand, sit, walk and reach only so far. Use stretching to improve the range of motion around your joints i.e. your arm swinging around in a making a full circle. Improved ROM = improved balance and less injuries.

Improved circulation: When the muscles surrounding your veins are tight then your veins are tight too. Stretching unblocks the constriction and increases blood flow to the area. This is especially useful after an injury.

So how long should you stretch? Well, the general consensus is that a stretch should be held for a minimum of ten seconds for it to be effective. I say that a little more wouldn’t hurt so try for 15-25 seconds per stretch. According to this Pub Med review, stretching must regularly be performed in a full range of motion for you to reap the benefits.

Does it matter if you stretch before or after exercise? not really and unfortunately, stretching isn’t guaranteed to prevent soreness from exercise.  One thing is for sure, warming up before you stretch is crucial in preventing injuries.

Hey Dad, your baby weight is showing


There’s a definite baby boom going on as evidenced by all the strollers, slings, and Baby Bjorns populating my sidewalks these days. Heck, most of my friends are on their 2nd are 3rd babies right now which isn’t surprising since I’m a billion years old. What I have noticed however, is how BIG dads are getting these days. Is this something I missed or is it normal for new dads and dads- to- be to carry higher than their pregnant spouses? The complaints about baby weight that I usually get are from new mothers who want to lose or moms-to-be who don’t want to gain. Somewhere in there I forgot all about the poor fathers who find themselves too exhausted and stressed out to shave anymore let alone exercise.

Let’s give the guys a break shall we? becoming and being a father is a joyous and incredibly emotional experience for most men too. It also increases every anxiety they will ever have about manhood. They will have to ask themselves : do I know enough to teach my child? am I good at anything that I want to pass on? do I have enough money for my baby’s’ future? will my wife/girlfriend ever forgive me for the pain of childbirth? will she ever let me touch her again? will I still be one of the boys? Of course, moms know that the answer to all those questions is: Eventually.

Men just know that nothing will ever be the same and so they eat and drink sometimes in an effort to regain the old  joie de vivre of the Before Baby days. Truth is, the BB days are long gone and so is the youthful metabolism that hid their dietary sins. In its place is a fountain of the stress hormone cortisol fueled by a lack of sleep due to feedings, burpings, changings, wailings and dwindling savings. Hence the basket ball beneath his t-shirt and the stubble on his chin.We must help them. What does or did your guy do to lose the “daddy weight” ?

Here are some tips to get started:

Hang out with people that encourage your fitness: Yeaaaah, you probably shouldn’t listen when your friend tells you that pizza is a food group. You’re not ten anymore.

Treat fitness like work appointments: Put it in the schedule and keep the appointment. Could you skip a work meeting “just because”? then don’t blow off your workouts either

Do it early when you still have the energy: Take the baby for a run in the stroller while mommy sleeps ( you’re welcome, ladies) or better yet WITH mommy, ride the bike while watching the morning news but don’t postpone it until you’re too tired to move or it won’t happen.

Improve your court/field/rink skills for when your kid needs a coach: Join an intramural team and anticipate how proud you’ll feel when s/he says wow, teach me THAT Daddy!”

Remember, your health is your wealth: Plan on being a burden on your family in your old age or plan on walking someone down the aisle or on a family trek? it isn’t rocket science that prevention is the best medicine.

Fibroids: nature vs. nurture


Do you have uterine fibroids ? Ever wondered what caused them to grow there in the first place and how you can manage them? Personally I have because I too have them and just returned from my 3 rd surgery in 7 years to remove them ( 2 myomectomies and 1 hysterscopy). First and foremost there are genetic factors which we cannot control. In my case, my paternal aunts, maternal grandmother and mother had hysterectomies due fibroids tumors.  According to the Uterine Fibroid Foundation,   Black women are 2-3 times more likely to develop these growths more white or Asian women. The UFF  list the risk factors for developing fibroids as the consumption of red meat and obesity which I think is true. However, I think that stress and other dietary changes are also risk factors to eliminate. I obviously don’t have all the answers since I’m basically a fibroid making machine. What advice have you gotten ( if any) about managing fibroid growth? Here is the advice and info I’ve heard over the years.

“Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” ( Dr. Christine Northrup): Fibroids are the result of suppressed/unchanneled creativity and dead-end relationships. Clear our heads and lives and our bodies will respond in kind. Interesting take and I do believe that aimless and unfulfilling activities can work as a stopper to life’s natural flow.

My doctors, nurses practitioners: Fibroids grow as a result of excessive estrogen. Too much estrogen in the system can result from remaining childless. My recent doctor, the well published Dr. Stephen Goldstein stated  women weren’t meant to have so many periods without ever getting pregnant. Our uteruses are more likely to develop growths when we remain childless.

Nutrition info: It is a fact that some foods have estrogenic effects on our bodies, meaning they mimic the effects of estrogen. When you’re already making too much estrogen, that ain’t good. See below for a list of estrogenic foods. Some also say that excessive sugar fuels the growth of benign tumors like fibroids and cancerous tumors as well. Last but not least,  a recent study posted on Science Direct reveals the connection between increased alcohol consumption and fibroid growth

Estrogenic foods and herbs:

Phytoestrogens such as soy and soy products, fennel, chamomile, cinnamon, pomegranate


highly processed foods

Why you can’t stop overeating and how it’s making some people rich.


We’ve all been there: exhausted, glum and reaching for that second or third helping that we just don’t need. Why do we do that? why do we do it now more than ever? did cave men do it? if they did, how come they didn’t get as fat as we are now? These are all questions that David Kessler, former commissioner of the FDA tried to answer for us in his recent blog post for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.

In his post, Kessler explains that the triple threat of SALT, FAT, and SUGAR are the culprits in our gluttony and that the food industry has spent billions researching that fact. According to Kessler’s interview with a major designer of fast food ( yes, they have designers for fast food!), the industry designs dishes to hit those “3 point of the compass”. The brain changes that occur when we eat sugar, fat and salt can almost be described as a high that is impossible to resist. We’re talking a chemical high with neurons firing and dopamine releasing, people , so it’s not about willpower.  In essence it makes us feel GOOD for a moment and then compels us to eat more to maintain that feeling. Consequently, the more we eat, the bigger we get and the more money the industry makes because we buy more to eat more.  The amount of complexity involved in the design and deliberate availability of today’s high fat/salt/sugary food is scary because it isn’t designed to work in our favor. How can we fight a system that’s set up to undermine our efforts? Well, now that we know what we’re up against we need to have a plan of defense.

  1. Know your trigger foods and don’t buy ’em: don’t think you can outwit the system and that includes your biology. Can’t stop at one potato chip, pretzel, Dorito? don’t buy the bag.
  2. Practice portion control: Humans are designed to eat as much as they’re served so serve yourself less.  If you’re still hungry after that, wait at least 20 minutes before choosing another low-fat and calorie food item.
  3. Eat enough good fats: It’s helpful to include some healthy plant and fish based oils into your diet so that your fat doesn’t feel deprived. Having a fat-free break fast and lunch and then gorging on a a high fat dinner is not the way to go. Too much fat in any single meal goes straight to our stores ( read: weight gain).
  4. Always question your hunger: Are you really hungry or just upset, bored or tired? do you really want to eat that anyway or can you wait for a healthier choice? Try not to go more than 3 hours between meals because you will be vulnerable to making poor choices. Also never food shop when you’re starving.
  5. Eating out or at a party? Visualize making the right choices or better yet, eat a small salad or fruit at home beforehand so you aren’t starving when you get there.

Why Macho men need help too


If the men in your life are anything like mine when it comes to their health then they are stubborn, fatalists who don’t bother worrying about chronic diseases. That they leave for us to do.  Men, I ask you : Is it too much to ask that you not punish us with the future headache of having to wheel your broke-down behind around? I don’t think so especially if what got you there was something preventable on your part. We want to enjoy our future with you, not in spite of you. Women, do what you have to do to get your man, father, brother and sons over 18 to take control of their health. If that doesn’t work then I say it’s better it’s better to wheel them into the doctor’s office now when they’re seemingly well than when they’re obviously not.

Most young men ( 18-49)  think they are invinceable because they have never faced their mortality due to a health scare. Even when something scary happens they often think they can ignore it. Not so. In fact, what happens to us in regards to health is about 65% lifestyle and 35 %  genetics. Our genetic roadmap will tell us if our lifestyle factors will lead us to develop certain diseases. It isn’t always that black and white but in general pain, discomfort or unusual changes in our bodies are signs of disturbances. They aren’t always major issues but more often than not, the major issues sent up warning flares well before the main event.  Here is what you might want to pay attention to:

Heart disease a.k.a cardiovascular disease: Evidence shows that we should start watching saturated fat intake for ages as low as 2. Saturated fat deposits accumulate over years and eventually cause problems. Researchers state that men young and old that smoke and have a high fat diet are prime candidates for the disease. Check out your guy’s complexion ( constant ruddiness may be an indicator), his libido ( low libido may indicate blocked arteries) .Add genetics to that and you may have a ticking time bomb.

Smoking: According to the National Cancer Institute smoking

    Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person’s overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of death from cancer. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia (1).

    Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, lung disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), hip fractures, and cataracts. Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia and other airwayinfections

    With all that we know now, smoking isn’t cute anymore.

Skin and other cancers: The CDC says that melanoma is the main cancer killer for men ( and women) ages 20-29. If it’s caught early it’s 100% curable, if not then it’s incurable. Wear sunscreen,  try to check all moles regularly and pay special attention to the ones with irregular borders. The American Melanoma Foundation states that 80% of lifetime sun damage happens in childhood and 5 or more sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk of developing skin cancer. Learn more
Binge Drinking : Why some people can drink and never develop alcoholism and others do is based primarily on genetic factors. One thing that is universal is that too much alcohol is not good for your body and too much alcohol in a short span of time is worse. Your liver and kidneys are your filtration system. They can only do so much at once and when you ingest alcohol they basically drop everything to make sure it leaves your body first. That means any vitamins and rejuvenating nutrients that were in your body with the alcohol get dumped if they’re water soluble and put aside if not. If alcoholism is in your family then yes, you’re most likely to become dependent on drink IF you continue to drink heavily or make it a regular habit at all. **Also remember that alcohol has 7 calories/gram which is almost as much as  fat’s 9 calories/gram count.
Sedentary lifestyle: Humans were designed to go GET their food, BRING it back and PREPARE it to eat. That used to  mean walking up or down a hill and gathering/raking/ or clobbering something before having to prepare it. Now that means driving to the supermarket, walking to the fridge and popping something into the microwave. Convenient? yes. Better for us? not necessarily. We’ve taken all the physical out of our days of activity and it’s the physical that keeps us lean and healthy. Find ways to be active together or with friends on a weekly basis.
Obesity: I know we’d like to believe that our man is just our big teddy bear guy and we love him that way. We should love him unconditionally but there’s a difference between enabling him into obesity and loving him enough to help him. Remember, his future is yours so picture him in a few years. What will you be feeling and doing? Almost everything discussed above is a factor in the development of obesity or vice versa. Add to that a stressful work life and you get a guy who just wants to “veg” out all the time even as the pounds pile on. Watch out for an expanding waistline: anything north of 40 inches is trouble but even getting close to that is a danger zone.
Depression: Men sometimes have a hard time articulating their feelings and will turn to substances, overwork, and overeating to hide them.  Money and job worries, relationship stress can cause your guy to act glum, angry,  tired and distant. Some depression is normal sometimes but weeks of not taking care of himself, sluggishness and inattention are signs that he’s in a hole.  Ask him and if it get s worse suggest he speak to someone.

Pregnancy: Invasion of the bodysnatcher(s)?


Okay, I know that’s not a fair title for the miracle that is life but I have never been pregnant so I don’t know any better. What I do know is that the changes that your body goes through as a pregnant woman sound mind boggling. Swollen lady bits, cobwebs of veins, gaseous emissions that rival an 18-wheeler and…ok, I’ll just stop there since I do plan on doing it one day and don’t want to scare myself even more. So, like I said, the changes are major which is all on-top of you getting bigger than you’ve probably ever been. So what’s that like, ladies? how do you mentally give yourself over to this process? I only ask because the topic was raised in in one of my classes : some women have  a really hard time letting go of trying to control their weight even when pregnant. It’s the elephant in the nursery, so to speak, that some women still continue to diet while others completely lose control of their appetites during pregnancy. The result s of both behaviors can have detrimental effects on the underweight (5 lbs and under)  or overweight ( 9 pounds and over) babies they have and on the mothers themselves. Most say that the best way to ensure that you gain the appropriate amount of weight while pregnant is to be active and healthy beforehand and then throughout your pregnancy. Eating for 2 doesn’t really start until the 2nd trimester and even then we’re only talking about an increase of 180 calories per day, people. Of course this doubles by the 3rd trimester but still, that’s 1 extra meal per day not whatever fatty thing our hearts desire. But what about women with disordered eating and borderline anorexic patterns? the ones who workout religiously, skip meals and are very worried about losing their figures? It’s a delicate question but I know that there are many women like this because they sometimes come to nutritionists for help. Personally, as much as I’d like to think that I’m above it all and would just give in to the process, I’m guessing that I will freak out a bit when my abs stop responding to my core workouts and I can’t suck in my gut anymore. So I honestly want to understand:  What was (is ) it like for you to lose control of your body as a pregnant woman?


A cure for allergies?


You know the feeling: stuffy, runny nose, itchy, red eyes, head in a cloud and M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. Not fun at all, right? What if you didn’t have to deal with that and didn’t have to deal with the side effects of antihistamines either? Well, according to researchers the Japanese herbal compound falcarindiol is showing promise for helping us do just that. A study conducted at Nagoya City University, Japan found that the compound acts by suppressing the stimulation of the dendritic cells which regulate immune response. In plain English, falcarindiol calms those cells down so we don’t suffer allergic reactions. Falcarindiol is found in carrots and celeriac foods. No word yet on if there will be a supplement available soon so eat up!