Saturday, July 31, 2010

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Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices

World Without Cancer - our goal

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The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you. Many of the common foods found in grocery stores or organic markets contain cancer-fighting properties, from the antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn't a single element in a particular food that does all the work: The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods. 
The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size.
Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.
Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially sprouts, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin - believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in laboratory animals.  However, be aware that the Agriculture Department studied 71 types of broccoli plants and found a 30-fold difference in the amounts of glucoraphanin. It appears that the more bitter the broccoli is, the more glucoraphanin it has. Broccoli sprouts have been developed under the trade name BroccoSprouts that have a consistent level of sulforaphane - as much as 20 times higher than the levels found in mature heads of broccoli. 
Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast. Some research indicated beta carotene may actually cause cancer, but this has not proven that eating carrots, unless in very large quantities - 2 to 3 kilos a day, can cause cancer.  In fact, a substance called falcarinol that is found in carrots has been found to reduce the risk of cancer, according to researchers at Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS). Kirsten Brandt, head of the research department, explained that isolated cancer cells grow more slowly when exposed to falcarinol. This substance is a polyacethylen, however, so it is important not to cook the carrots.
Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer. 
Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin that may help decrease prostate and other cancers. 
Figs apparently have a derivative of benzaldehyde. It has been reported that investigators at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo say benzaldehyde is highly effective at shrinking tumors, though I haven't seen this report. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says figs, which contain vitamins A and C, and calcium, magnesium and potassium, may curtail appetite and improve weight-loss efforts. Fig juice is also a potent bacteria killer in test-tube studies.

Flax contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against colon cancer and heart disease. See Budwig diet for a specialized diet using flax seed oil and cottage cheese. For studies about flax seed and flax oil, go to our Important News or Archives Page.
Garlic has immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development. Diallyl sulfide, a component of garlic oil, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Studies have linked garlic — as well as onions, leeks, and chives — to lower risk of stomach and colon cancer. Dr. Lenore Arab, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the UNC-CH (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) schools of public health and medicine and colleagues analyzed a number of studies and reported their findings in the October 2000 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. According to the report, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer as people who eat little or none. Their studies didn't show garlic supplements had the same effect. It is believed garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.
Grapefruits, like oranges and other citrus fruits, contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.
Grapes, red contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells - this appears to help slow the growth of tumors.
Studies show that consumption of green and yellow leafy vegetables has been associated with lower levels of stomach cancer.
Kale has indoles, nitrogen compounds which may help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells in estrogen-sensitive tissues. In addition, isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in kale, are thought to suppress tumor growth and block cancer-causing substances from reaching their targets.
Licorice root has a chemical, glycyrrhizin, that blocks a component of testosterone and therefore may help prevent the growth of prostate cancer. However, excessive amounts can lead to elevated blood pressure.
Mushrooms - There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system - Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor.  These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially  Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also contain Thioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.

Extracts from mushrooms have been successfully tested in recent years in Japan as an adjunct to chemotherapy. PSK is made from the Coriolus Versicolor. Maitake mushroom extract is PCM4.

Nuts contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. Brazil nut contains 80 micrograms of selenium, which is important for those with prostate cancer. (Note: Many people are allergic to the proteins in nuts, so if you have any symptoms such as itchy mouth, tight throat, wheezing, etc. after eating nuts, stop. Consider taking a selenium supplement instead or work with someone on how to eliminate this allergy.)
Oranges and lemons contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (lymphocytes, e.g.) that may also break down cancer-causing substances.
Papayas have vitamin C that works as an antioxidant and may also reduce absorption of cancer-causing nitrosamines from the soil or processed foods. Papaya contains folacin (also known as folic acid), which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia and certain cancers.
Raspberries contain many vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer. According to a recent research study reported by Cancer Research 2001;61:6112-6119, rats fed diets of 5% to 10% black raspberries saw the number of esophageal tumors decrease by 43% to 62%. A diet containing 5% black raspberries was more effective than a diet containing 10% black raspberries. Research reported in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in May 2002 shows black raspberries may also thwart colon cancer. Black raspberries are rich in antioxidants, thought to have even more cancer-preventing properties than blueberries and strawberries. 
Red wine, even without alcohol, has polyphenols that may protect against various types of cancer. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, compounds that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals.  Also, researchers at the University of North Carolina's medical school in Chapel Hill found the compound resveratrol, which is found in grape skins. It appears that resveratrol inhibits cell proliferation and can help prevent cancer. However, the findings didn't extend to heavy imbibers, so it should be used in moderation. In addition, alcohol can be  toxic to the liver and to the nervous system, and many wines have sulfites, which may be harmful to your health. Note:  some research indicates that alcohol is considered a class "A" carcinogen which can actually cause cancer - see You should probably switch to non-alcoholic wines.
Rosemary may help increase the activity of detoxification enzymes. An extract of rosemary, termed carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals. We haven't found any studies done on humans. Rosemary can be used as a seasoning. It can also be consumed as a tea: Use 1 tsp. dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for 15 minutes.
Seaweed and other sea vegetables contain beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones - important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer. Many sea vegetables also have high concentrations of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.
Soy products like tofu contain several types of phytoestrogens — weak, nonsteroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancerous cells. It appears to lower breast-cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of epithelial cells and new blood vessels that tumors require to flourish and is being scrutinized as a potential anti-cancer drug.  However, there are some precautions to consider when adding soy to your diet. Eating up to 4 or 5 ounces of tofu or other soy a day is probably ok, but research is being done to see if loading up on soy could cause hormone imbalances that stimulate cancer growth. As a precaution, women who have breast cancer or are at high risk should talk to their doctors before taking pure isoflavone powder and pills, extracted from soy. 
Sweet potatoes contain many anticancer properties, including beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.
Teas: Green Tea and Black tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Green tea is best, followed by our more common black tea (herbal teas do not show this benefit). According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols that are abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves, which are about 40% polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested.Tapioca is derived from the cassava plant. It is one of the many plants that manufactures cyanide by producing a chemical called linamarine which releases hydrogen cyanide when it is broken down by the linamarase enzyme. Spanish researches have been studying the cassava and attempting to clone the genes from the plant which are responsible for producing the hydrogen cyanide and then transfer it to a retrovirus.  However, funding for the project has run out. for more information on this. For a list of other foods that contain B17, go to our laetrile page.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, and red peppers also contain these substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes.  Scientists in Israel have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer. (Note: Recent studies indicate that for proper absorption, the body also needs some oil along with lycopene.)
Tumeric (curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, is believed to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation-related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), levels of which are abnormally high in certain inflammatory diseases and cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer. In fact, a pharmaceutical company Phytopharm in the UK hopes to introduce a natural product, P54, that contains certain volatile oils, which greatly increase the potency of the turmeric spice. 
Turnips are said to contain glucose molaes which is a cancer fighting compound. I haven't confirmed this.
Consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with decreased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
There are many good books on this topic, including Vern Verona's book on "Cancer Fighting Foods."

Cancer Fighting Foods in your Balanced Healthy Diet

As a 10-year survivor of cervical cancer, I'm always looking for ways to make sure I reduce my risk of any other type of cancer. Diet and physical fitness are key to our overall wellness. It is proven in study after study. One need only watch a season of Biggest Loser for proof!

Health Benefits of Almonds

Health Benefits of Almonds
This article mentions something the other does not. Almonds reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. My grandfather had Alzheimer's when he died. I'm participating in a walk later in August for the Alzheimer's Association in his memory. Alzheimer's is a disease that effects anyone whose life is touched by the afflicted. I'm doing my part to help find a cure.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Almonds: Try This Heart Healthy Brain Food

Top 10 Health Benefits of Almonds: Try This Heart Healthy Brain Food

Friday, July 30, 2010

Family Dinner Choices

Tonight, I gave the kids a few choices for dinner.  We have gift certificates to several different restaurants.  I told them they could choose one of those or we could have a "healthified" junk food night or homemade pizza.  They decided on junk food.  This ended up being nachos and brownies. 

We made the nachos with real cheese, whole grain tortilla chips, 96% lean ground beef, turkey sausage, fat free refried beans, diced tomatoes, black olives, and salsa.  All together, my personal plate was 811 calories and 40g fat.  Not great, but not horrible either.  I was able to control the type of ingredients to ensure the calories were healthy calories.

We made the brownies with Betty Crocker Hershey's Frosted Supreme Brownie mix, substituting the oil with unsweetened applesauce and the eggs with egg substitute.  Instead of the suggested 20 servings, we cut out 40 servings.  The brownies are small, yes, but sufficient and only 77 calories each with just over 1g fat.  The mix prepared as written would have been 200 calories and 9g fat!

I was so proud of my kids for choosing health and economy for dinner tonight!  We ate healthy and saved money!  We went shopping at Whole Foods for the ingredients we did not have.  The kids were reading labels and ingredient lists with me and making wonderful decisions!

Avocado Nutrition Facts - Hass Avocado Calories, Cholesterol & Fat Information

Avocado Nutrition Facts - Hass Avocado Calories, Cholesterol & Fat Information

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010 - Trust for America's Health

F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010 - Trust for America's Health

Visit the site for an interactive map!

June 2010
Adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia (D.C.), according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010, a report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). More than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.
The report highlights troubling racial, ethnic, regional and income disparities in the nation's obesity epidemic. For instance, adult obesity rates for Blacks and Latinos were higher than for Whites in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia; 10 out of the 11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South -- with Mississippi weighing in with highest rates for all adults (33.8 percent) for the sixth year in a row; and 35.3 percent of adults earning less than $15,000 per year were obese compared with 24.5 percent of adults earning $50,000 or more per year.
"Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region, and income," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. "This report shows that the country has taken bold steps to address the obesity crisis in recent years, but the nation's response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. Millions of Americans still face barriers - like the high cost of healthy foods and lack of access to safe places to be physically active - that make healthy choices challenging."
The report also includes obesity rates among youths ages 10-17, and the results of a new poll on childhood obesity conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint. The poll shows that 80 percent of Americans recognize that childhood obesity is a significant and growing challenge for the country, and 50 percent of Americans believe childhood obesity is such an important issue that we need to invest more to prevent it immediately. The survey also found that 84 percent of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, but research shows nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight. Obesity rates among youths ages 10-17 from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) also were included in the 2009 F as in Fat report. Data collection for the next NSCH will begin in 2011. Currently, more than 12 million children and adolescents are considered obese.
"Obesity rates among the current generation of young people are unacceptably high and a very serious problem," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., RWJF president and CEO. "To reverse this national epidemic, we have to make every community a healthy community. Americans are increasingly ready and willing to make that investment."
Additional key findings include:
  • Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in nine states, 35 percent in 34 states, and 30 percent in 43 states and D.C.
  • Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states.
  • Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension.
  • No state had rates of adult obesity above 35 percent for Whites. Only one state-West Virginia-had an adult obesity rate for Whites greater than 30 percent.
  • The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight --Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.
  • Northeastern and Western states had the lowest adult obesity rates; Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1 percent.
The report found that the federal government and many states are undertaking a wide range of policy initiatives to address the obesity crisis. Some key findings include that:
At the federal level:
  • The new health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, has the potential to address the obesity epidemic through a number of prevention and wellness provisions, expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, and create a reliable funding stream through the creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund;
  • Community Transformation grants have the potential to help leverage the success of existing evidence-based disease prevention programs;
  • President Barack Obama created a White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, which issued a new national obesity strategy that contained concrete measures and roles for every agency in the federal government; and.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama launched the "Let's Move" initiative to solve childhood obesity within a generation.
And at the state level:
  • Twenty states and D.C. set nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks that are stricter than current United States Department of Agriculture requirements. Five years ago, only four states had legislation requiring stricter standards.
  • Twenty-eight states and D.C. have nutritional standards for competitive foods sold in schools on √† la carte lines, in vending machines, in school stores, or through school bake sales. Five years ago, only six states had nutritional standards for competitive foods.
  • Every state has some form of physical education requirement for schools, but these requirements are often limited, not enforced or do not meet adequate quality standards.
  • Twenty states have passed requirements for body mass index screenings of children and adolescents or have passed legislation requiring other forms of weight and/or fitness related assessments in schools. Five years ago, only four states had passed screening requirements.
To enhance the prevention of obesity and related diseases, TFAH and RWJF provide a list of recommended actions in the report. Some key policy recommendations include:
  • Support obesity- and disease-prevention programs through the new health reform law's Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides $15 billion in mandatory appropriations for public health and prevention programs over the next 10 years.
  • Align federal policies and legislation with the goals of the forthcoming National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy. Opportunities to do this can be found through key pieces of federal legislation that are up for reauthorization in the next few years, including the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act; the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act.
  • Expand the commitment to community-based prevention programs initiated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through new provisions in the health reform law, such as Community Transformation grants and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
  • Continue to invest in research and evaluation on nutrition, physical activity, obesity and obesity-related health outcomes and associated interventions.

Planning Ahead For Weight Loss Success

When one fails to plan his or her meals, it can be a challenge to stick to a weight loss plan. Even relatively good meals that can be picked up quickly at a drive-through are often detrimental to weight loss.  

When you get in a hurry, there’s a huge tendency to just grab whatever, wherever. Although some will give consideration to their diets when grabbing a quick bite, even the more diet-friendly options at fast food places are often not ideal for getting good results from a weight loss program.

Salad usually seems like a safe choice, but fast food salads are often high in fat, salt, and/or sugar, which can cause a set-back in your diet. Because you don’t have the opportunity to study the list of ingredients, you may think you are doing well with the salad choice, but it may have things in it that can really slow down your weight loss progress. Even “lite” salad dressing may be full of sugar, which can trigger a strong insulin response and interfere with fat burning for up to 2 days.

Of course, grilled chicken selections like wraps are better than burgers, but they are usually still filled with refined carbs which can depress your body’s ability to burn fat. Most people also find it hard to skip the soft drinks that come with most fast food meals, and the drinks are typically high in sodium benzoate, a preservative which is currently suspected as being a depressor of the metabolism.

If you take the time to plan your meals and bring food with you when you won’t be home at meal time, you’ll have much better control over what you are eating and you’ll be much more likely to really follow your diet plan. This will help you avoid eating those hidden ingredients that can hinder your ability to lose weight.

With some advance planning, you can be sure to have the food you need to comply with your diet plan and significantly improve the effects of your weight loss program.

To obtain additional weight loss information,, please visit Dr. Best’s site on diet motivation. For assistance with meal planning, Dr. Best recommends you visit healthy eating meal plans.

Top 10 to Effective Meal Planning

Top 10 to Effective Meal Planning

I Still Struggle

This was what I had for dinner yesterday.  Completely unacceptable.  I thought I would give myself a "freebie."  This is not the way to go about it!  Even "freebies" should be as healthy as possible! 

Why am I sharing this?  Because I want you to know that I am not perfect and that I still struggle, daily.  Please note, that even though I went overboard, I still tracked my calories!

P90X One on One is Here!

This fitness program is less than $20 per month, with a new DVD shipped to you each month. You have NO excuses!

See What Doctors Are Saying about Shakeology

How long does it take to form a habit?

4 August 2009
It takes an average 66 days to form a new habit, according to new research by Phillippa Lally and colleagues from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre based at UCL Epidemiology and Public Health.
The team has completed a groundbreaking investigation into how people form habits, published last month in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Here Phillippa explains the key factors in creating and breaking habits and how we can help set up for ourselves new patterns of behaviour.

What exactly takes 66 days?

It can take longer than many people expect to create healthy eating habits
In our study, we looked at how long it took people to reach a limit of self-reported automaticity for performing an initially new behaviour (that is, performing an action automatically), and the average time (among those for whom our model was a good fit) was 66 days.

How do you define a habit?

Habits are behaviours which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past. This repetition creates a mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behaviour) which means that when the cue is encountered the behaviour is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.

How do you measure the strength of a habit?

We use a self-report measure of automaticity (items from Verplanken and Orbell’s Self Report Habit Index (2003)). An example item is ‘I do this without having to consciously remember’. Participants rate how much they agree with this statement for their chosen behaviour.

What are the key factors in breaking or gaining habits?

To create a habit you need to repeat the behaviour in the same situation. It is important that something about the setting where you perform the behaviour is consistent so that it can cue the behaviour. If you choose a context cue, for example after lunch, we don’t think that it matters if you eat lunch at different times in the day.
Breaking habits is very difficult. The easiest way is to control your environment so that you do not encounter the cue which triggers your habit. It is difficult to break any habit even when you are motivated to do so. If you are ambivalent about breaking it then you will be less likely to succeed.
New habits do not stop the old habits from existing; they just have to become stronger influences on behaviour.

What happens if we miss an opportunity to perform an action that will help us build a habit?

In our study we showed that missing one opportunity did not significantly impact the habit formation process, but people who were very inconsistent in performing the behaviour did not succeed in making habits. We do not yet know what level of consistency is necessary to form a habit.

Do men and women acquire or break habits differently? Or young and old?

We don’t have any evidence to suggest that men and women or young and old people acquire habits differently.

What are the implications of your findings for people trying to form healthy habits or break unhealthy ones?

It can take much longer than many people think to form a habit and it is important to persevere. If someone wants to form a habit they should specify clearly what they will do and in what situation and try to do this consistently. Over time it will start to happen more easily and require less effort.

Why did you decide to investigate this area?

We are interested in helping people to change their health behaviours, and if we can help them to form habits for these behaviours it will be easier for them to maintain them long term.

What are the next steps for your research?

We hope to conduct a similar study and measure a number of factors which might help to explain the variation we found among participants in the time it took them to reach their limit of automaticity. We are also conducting a trial of a simple weight-loss intervention based on the principles of habit formation.

My P90X Round 2 Journey

(I'll post progress pics when I've conjured up the courage.)

Some of you have heard me talk about having done P90X last year and got convincing results.  I thought I'd journal my progress in the hopes it might give at least one person the motivation they need.  That thought helps motivate me.

A little background...I started trying to lose weight in 2007.  I had not fully realized just how large I had gotten.  Working full-time, going to school full-time, and raising two kids makes for a busy woman!  I hadn't bought new clothes in some time and knew what I had was fitting uncomfortably tight.  Short version - I found myself in the dressing room at JC Penney's in tears because I had just attempted to try on a size 16 pants and needed a larger size!  I'll spare you anymore of that drama! I began eating better, using the basic rules of Weight Watchers I had learned years earlier.  I also began exercising 3-4 days a week.  The exercise was difficult to get in working 45-50 hours per week and taking 12-16 hours of college courses.  I managed to lose about 20 pounds and to a size 12 prior to my first round of P90X.  My half-ass use of the program reduced another 20 pounds and to a size 4...yes, a size freaking 4!!!  You can see some of those results pics on my profile...the ones the photographer tagged me in when she posted them to her page...bikini...not too far off from that now but would not be seen in a bikini right now, either!  I'll get it back and better!

Due to a number of things having taken place last year, I "fell of the wagon" and gained back 15-20 pounds ( I have a 5 pound yo-yo). I succumbed to stress and the ensuing exhaustion, and being completely transparent, depression.  I never stopped trying to get my workout back.  With the exception of an entire month when I had bronchitis and did nothing, I managed to run and occasionally lift weights an average of three times per week.  However, I also let my diet go.  This is easy to do when you don't have much food or money to buy it.  Nevertheless, it is no excuse. 

Things have been much better of late. My New Year's resolution was to be the driver in of my own destiny.  I would no longer allow someone to take complete control of my mind and the resulting actions. I was tired of being tired, depressed, crying, and lonely.  I was all those things only because I allowed myself to be...mind over matter, right?  I had done it once, in fact, I have done it countless times through out my life.  I was done being pissed at myself for being weak. It was time to let that strong, independent woman I once was come out again.

January and February were difficult as I worked through my emotions.  I took it one day, one week at a time.  I didn't dwell on what I failed to do, but rather saw what I could change and vowed to do better tomorrow, next week.  Finally, mid-March, I began running and lifting weights every day.  I did this for two weeks straight.  Now I could undo what I undid!  I knew I was ready to start P90X, again, and so begins my journey on April 3rd, 2010...

End of Week 1 (April 10th): I'm starting week 2 of P90X and proud of myself for still trying and staying motivated. I had to adjust my schedule this week a bit. I worked in the yard all day yesterday and missed my workout.  I got back on it today, though. I pushed myself through my run after chest & back. I harder and more than I have in a very long time.

The diet still needs some tweeking. I get lazy! I also noticed that I crave sweets when I am tired.  Now, I need to find a way to work through that and not give into eating sweets!  Any suggestions for the afternoon dive!?

End of Week 2.1 (April 17th): I am redoing week 2 of P90X.  I worked out three days.  On day three, because I don't get any other time to do cardio, I walked the stairs 2x, 15 minutes each.  Due to my schedule, I get home very late on day 3, so I had scheduled my rest day for the following day.  I ended up taking both days because my calves hurt so bad I would nearly fall back down after getting up. Day 5 & 6 was crazy busy & I was not able to get up for my morning workout.  I wasn't happy with the week, so I decided to redo it and more closely follow the nutrition plan to help me get my diet on track.  I found myself starving most of the day last week.  That told me I wasn't getting nutrition to fuel my body.  I also think that was causing me to be unusually tired.

I hope my body adjusts this week, I get more sleep, I'm not hungry all week, and I make my workout goals each day.

End of Week 2.2 (April 24th): I just realized, at the end of Week 2, that I had skipped Kenpo X! I had it in my head that I had 2 rest/stretch days!!  I will be adding an extra Kenpo X to the next two weeks to make up for it.

Had a really difficult time completing the Yoga.  It was working me and quite effective, but it was so slow and boring and kept finding myself easily distracted.  I guess that kind of defeats part of the purpose of Yoga, huh? I vow to do better this coming week.

So far, so good. The scales aren't moving but I don't expect them to until my muscles are fully engaged and working off the fat.  I do notice a big difference in how my clothes fit!  The combination of no weight loss and looser clothing  tells me that I am losing inches in fat and gaining lean muscle.  I'm perfectly happy with that.  I am also going about this much healthier than last year in that I am following the nutrition plan more closely.

I don't follow it to a T because 1) I don't like seafood and it calls for a lot of it, 2) I find it impossible to consume that much food without regurgitating it from being so full!  I do use it as a guideline to be sure I am consuming the calories and protein my body needs.  I am not nearly as hungry these days and my muscles are responding well. I see definition in my arms and legs.  My stomach is getting flatter and more toned by the week.  I see fewer, unflattering, dimples on my backside!!  My waist appears to have dropped because I am losing the "love-handles."

I am content with the results I am seeing and proud of myself for sticking to it.  It has taken me nine months to find the determination and drive I had last year.  I have been steady and consistent now for five weeks straight!

Mid Week 3.1 (April 28th): Fighting the afternoon crash hard! I have no idea why I get so tired between 2 & 3 in the afternoon. My diet is on and I get plenty of sleep.  I don't understand it.  I'm hoping it is that my body is still adjusting and will level out soon.

UPDATE, Week 3.2 (May 5th): So, last week kicked my butt.  I worked out only half the week.  I tried some things to see if I could narrow down the reasons for my exhaustion.  First, I remembered my eye doctor telling me I no longer needed corrective lenses for up-close work (I work on a computer all day).  He said wearing my corrective lenses when I didn't need them would cause fatigue.  I went without my contacts and only wore my glasses to drive.  Sure enough, I had no afternoon crash.  I was still a bit tired by quitting time, but, honestly, nothing I couldn't have pushed through.  Second, I made sure to stop drinking caffinated beverages by early afternoon, 1p or 2p.  Third, I made certain to put up the computer, tv, & phone when I went to be to allow my mind to calm and me to drift off.  Finally, I checked my diet.  While I had been making good decisions and eating healthy 95% of the time, I believe I was not getting enough calories to fuel my body with this routine.  To resolve this, I started following the P90X diet to a T.  I also took the weekend to get plenty of rest and de-stress.

Now that I think I have figured out some things, I am repeating week 3 and following the diet.  I have doubled up on the workouts to get back on my schedule of having the workout weeks begin on Saturday.  It is easier for me that way and I can begin my work week with the satisfaction of knowing I have already conquered 1/3 of my workout week! I did just track my caloric intake for the day.  I'm sitting at just over 1500 calories.  Beachbody's calculator suggests I need 2100-2200 calories to lose weight & have fuel for the workouts.  I did miss my afternoon snack and am about to go to bed, so I didn't eat much for dinner.  I felt like I ate a lot today.  I don't know how I am going to cram in another 600-700 calories and stay within the portions meal plan!  I am already a bit discouraged because I have gained 5 pounds & .5 inch in my waist and hips since I started.  I see results in that I can see muscle definition in my arms, shoulders, back, and beginning in my lower thighs.  I really hope the gain is due to re-engaging my muscles and that I start to see leaner results and weight loss in Phase 2 and following the diet more strictly.  That is when I had the most dramatic results during Round 1 last year & I only did the muscle group workouts and Plyo, along with running every day.

UPDATE, Week 3 (July 26th): Yup, you guessed it! I started over...again! After struggling so hard to get on track and stay on track, I decided to take things one at a time.  When I was so successful with my weight loss last year, I took things in steps.  I couldn't follow a strict diet and quit smoking at the same time.  Believe me, NOBODY wanted to be around me!!

I took the month of June to get my diet in check.  I cut out all processed sugar and unnaturally white foods.  By that I mean, no white flour!  They use the same bleach you use in your laundry to make that flour white.  You wouldn't drink your laundry water.  Why eat white breads and pastries?!  I also cut my caloric intake down to the minimum required by a person who does not exercise, around 1200 daily.  I cut my carbs down to only those found naturally in produce and protein.  I lost 13 pounds, 10.5 inches total, and had maintained that strict diet for four weeks.  I knew I was ready to re-incorporate the much-needed fitness program back into my routine.  I started P90X...again...July 12th.  I am now on the dreaded Week 3.

Three weeks into any new routine is the most difficult!  I remember when I quit smoking.  It was always on week 3 that I would cave.  So, with this, I was expecting it to be difficult.  It is like trying to run as fast as you can uphill.  It is extremely difficult, exhausting, strenuous, and challenging (redundant, I know, but necessary to get the point across).  I am half way through this awful week.  I have three more workouts and a day of rest.  I know I can do this.  I've done it before but not nearly as regimented and strict. I also got only mediocre results, results I was happy with, nevertheless.  This time, mediocre is not acceptable, not good enough for me.

I am already seeing wonderful results...the fruits of my labor!  I feel healthy again thanks to the organic, nutritious foods I consume.  I have more self-confidence and raised self-esteem thanks to the changes in my body through my fitness routine, P90X.  I'm already making plans for the program I will do following P90X.  I'm thinking INSANity! ;o)

I'm a Coach!

I just signed up to be a coach with Team Beachbody! I've been using their fitness programs for two years now and had no idea this was a direct home sales opportunity. They are going to pay me to brag about their products while I get fit and healthy using them! How fantastical is that?

To learn about the fitness programs and tools, go here:

To learn about their phenom meal replacement shake, Shakeology, go here:

It's a revolution! Join me!

Healthy Diet Guidelines

I wanted to share this with everyone, especially those that have a hard time knowing what to watch out for or don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This is the way I eat and I don't at all consider it a "diet" -- it's about finding the foods you like so you can eat in a healthy way for the rest of your life! Accompany this with 4-6 hours of exercise every week and you will see results! :-D Any question, please feel free to send me a message!

Guidelines to success!!

1. NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!! This is in many foods, especially beverages and packaged processed foods. If you see it in your food label, especially in the first 5 ingredients, DO NOT buy it! Period!!

2. Avoid excess amounts of sodium! Your daily amount should not exceed 2400mg! Under 1500mg is even better.

3. Avoid excess sugar! Natural sugars like those in fruit or dairy products are fine. Limit the amount you get from cereal, snack foods, juices and sports drinks. For example, just one 32oz bottle of Gatorade has 56g of sugar – that is about your sugar limit for the entire day!!! Energy drinks like Monster and Amp are even worse! Stay away from them!!

4. Also avoid artificial sweeteners like Splenda and aspartame that are generally found in diet or light drinks and foods. These are just as bad for you as they tend to make you crave sweet foods even more and lead to over-eating —here is a small article based on this: Animal studies have indicated that artificial sweeteners can cause body weight gain. A sweet taste induces an insulin response, which causes blood sugar to be stored in tissues (including fat), but because blood sugar does not increase with artificial sugars, there is hypoglycemia and increased food intake the next time there is a meal. After a while, rats given sweeteners have steadily increased calorie intake, increased body weight, and increased adiposity (fatness). Furthermore, the natural responses to eating sugary foods (eating less at the next meal and using some of the extra calories to warm the body after the sugary meal) are gradually lost. The one exception is Stevia; a natural no calorie sweetener. Many products are starting to use this ingredient rather than the artificial ones, so look for it!

5. Drink a lot of water! A good rule of thumb is to cut your body weight in half and drink that amount in ounces – example: a 200 lb person should be drinking 100oz of water. That is about 12-13 cups!! If you have a hard time drinking plain water, add a lemon or lime wedge for some flavor! It will get easier to drink that much the longer you do it so get to it!!

6. Avoid foods with enriched bleached flour – this is just as it sounds – flour that has been stripped of its original nutrients and fiber and whitened with bleach like what you wash your clothes in!! Stick with foods that say 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grains.

7. Make sure you balance your meals with carbs (fruits, veggies, and whole grains), proteins (chicken, beef, pork, fish, cheese, dairy, eggs, beans), and healthy fats (nuts, nut butters, olive oil, avocado, fish). Doing so will keep you full and satisfied for longer and help your body metabolize your food more effectively.

8. Eat every 2-4 hours to keep your metabolism up! Most important of all – eat within 1 HOUR of waking up!!! You need to get your metabolism started for the day and if you don’t eat, your metabolism will stall and most likely you will overcompensate calorie-wise with the next meal or meals you do eat because you will be so hungry!! This is a double whammy because not only did you slow your metabolism but now you are over-eating the rest of the day!!

9. Finally, never dip below 1200 calories for females and 1500 calories for males! It may seem like less calories equals more weight loss but if your body does not have enough fuel to sustain your workouts and daily life, your metabolism will slow and you will plateau.

5 Breakfast ideas:
* ½ cup to 1 cup of oatmeal with 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts or almonds, dash of cinnamon and no more than 2 tsp white or brown sugar (if you need a little sweetness--although if you can afford stevia use that instead) with 6 egg whites or 5 egg whites and 1 whole egg

* protein shake – 1 scoop of protein powder, ½ cup of berries, ½ a banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter and 6-8 oz of skim milk, soy milk, or almond milk and ice

* 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg omelet with veggies and 1 oz low fat cheddar or mozzarella cheese, ½ cup of melon, citrus fruit, or berries, and a slice of whole grain toast with 2 tsp of peanut butter or 1 tbsp of all fruit jam

* 1 serving of whole grain cereal such as Kashi goLean crunch, Fiber One, or Total with ½ cup skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk, 10-12 raw almonds, protein shake with 1 scoop protein and 1 cup skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk

* breakfast sandwich or wrap – 2 egg white and 1 whole egg, 2 slices turkey bacon, 1 slice 2% American cheese on a whole grain English muffin or in a whole grain tortilla and a ½ cup of fruit (berries, melon, orange, banana) **This is my least favorite choice as it has a lot of sodium but it’s still better than a lot of other things.

5 snack ideas:
* 1 apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter

* 1 cup of any fruit and 1 piece of string cheese

* 1 serving of whole grain crackers (Hint of salt Triscuits are a good choice) with
an ounce of low fat cheese (cheddar, Colby jack, provolone, mozzarella)

* ½ cup to 1 cup low fat yogurt such as Activia or Stonyfield with 1 serving of
granola (Bear Naked is great) or 10 almonds or 1 tbsp walnuts

* Kashi cereal bar like Honey almond flax or Trail mix flavor

Lunch ideas:
* turkey sandwich – 2 slices of whole grain bread, 2-3 oz of deli-style turkey, 1 slice of low fat cheese (not American), lettuce, tomato, and mustard (if desired) and 1 piece of fruit

* peanut butter and jelly sandwich – 2 slices of whole grain bread, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp all fruit jelly, ½ cup cottage cheese, and a piece of fruit

* 4-6 oz grilled chicken, 1 cup of veggies, and a slice of whole grain toast with 1 tbsp peanut butter

* chicken ranch wrap – 2 whole grain tortillas, 4 oz grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, or any other veggie you would like, 1 tbsp low fat ranch dressing, and 1 piece of fruit

* 4-6 oz of fish like salmon, shrimp, trout, etc. with 1 cup of veggies and 1 piece of fruit

*Shakeology- 1 scoop of chocolate shakeology, 1/2 of a banana, 1/3 cup strawberries, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 5 oz of skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk, 3 oz water, and 4-5 large ice cubes -- mix in blender and enjoy!

Dinner ideas:
* Chicken and broccoli over whole wheat angel hair pasta – In a medium skillet, bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add 1 tsp of sodium free chicken instant bouillon (wyler’s brand) and seasoning such as black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and basil (No salt!!) Add 8 oz of chicken and 1 ½ to 2 cups of frozen chopped broccoli and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Top over one serving of pasta and add 1-2 servings of parmesan cheese. Makes 2 servings

* Chicken stir fry over brown rice – In a large skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil and cook 12-16 oz of boneless chicken breasts cut into strips until no longer pink. Add 2 tbsp lower sodium soy sauce, 1 ½ to 2 tbsp honey, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper and add in 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (whatever veggies you like but make sure there is no added salt on the ingredients list) Cook on medium heat about 10 minutes or until desired tenderness. Top over 1 serving of brown rice. Makes 4 servings

* Chili – brown 1 lb of ground turkey or ground beef (if using ground beef make sure to rinse in a colander under hot water to remove as much fat as possible) and then put in crock pot. Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes (Eden brand is the best as it has no added sodium), 1 can of kidney beans, and 1 can of black beans (Eden organic or Kuner’s are the best brands because no sodium is added) Add 1 tbsp chili powder, ¾ tsp garlic powder, ¾ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp black pepper, dash of allspice, and ¾ to 1tsp salt. Keep on low for 3-4 hours. Top over half a serving of whole wheat pasta such as shells or elbows (if desired) with 1 oz of lowfat cheddar cheese, 1 serving of low fat sour cream, and diced onions (again if desired) Makes 4-6 servings depending on how much you want to stretch it.

* Chicken or steak fajitas – Cut 1 large onion and 1-2 green, red, or yellow peppers into strips and saut√© in in skillet with ½ to 1 tbsp of olive oil. Remove from skillet and set aside. Cut 12-16 oz of chicken or steak into strips and brown in skillet with a little more olive oil until no longer pink. Add in 1 ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp sugar, ¼ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp ground cumin and 2/3 cup of water. Simmer for a few minutes and then return onions and peppers to skillet and heat through until most of the water is gone. Scoop mixture into 2 whole grain tortillas and if desired add ½ to 1 oz of low fat cheese, 1 serving of low fat sour cream, or salsa. Makes 4 servings

* Pork roast with sweet potatoes – Peel and cut up 2-3 large sweet potatoes and place in bottom of crock pot. Set a 2-2 ½ lb lean cut of pork roast on top (fat side up so you can peel it off later) In a small dish mix 2-3 tbsp brown sugar, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp garlic powder, and ½ tsp onion powder and sprinkle over pork and potatoes. Heat on low for 8-10 hours and don’t forget to peel off that layer of fat from the roast! Makes about 6 servings Add another vegetable on the side such as broccoli, green beans, spinach, or peas to complete the meal.

* Mexican chicken bake – In large skillet heat a small amount of olive oil and add ¾ to 1 lb of chicken cut into bite size pieces. Cook until no longer pink – about 5-10 minutes. Add 1 can of black beans (drained, no salt added), 1 can of corn (drained, no salt added), ¼ cup of salsa, and 1 packet or 1 batch of taco seasoning ( I make mine from scratch so I can control the salt and any other additives – recipe will follow) Simmer on medium low heat for 10 minutes, then transfer to an 8x8 casserole dish. Top with ½ cup low fat cheddar or Mexican cheese and about 1 ½ servings of crushed tortilla chips (I use Bearito’s unsalted chips). Heat in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. Top with 1 serving of low fat sour cream (if desired). Makes 4 servings

Taco seasoning recipe:
1 tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp oregano
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper
¼ to ½ tsp salt (depends on your tastes)
½ tsp paprika
dash of cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you want it)

I hope this has been helpful! I have many more food ideas if you’d like – these are just some of the simplest ones. Adjust the amounts according to your calorie requirements – all of these meals are 500 calories or less!
Mexican chicken bake -- chicken, black beans, corn, salsa and taco seasoning mixed together and topped with cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and a dollop of low fat sour cream! Yummy:)
Steak fajitas with green and red peppers and onion:)
Chicken and broccoli topped over whole wheat angel hair pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese -- one of my favorites:)
Lunch - 4 oz of wild Alaskan salmon - broiled, 1 1/2 cups of broccoli, 1 nectarine, and 3 triscuits (hint of salt flavor) -- less than 350 calories