Posts Tagged ‘Goals’

Safe, Simple Strategies for Supporting your Metabolism

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall


It’s that time of year when most reflect on the last year and look forward to all that the upcoming year will bring. Many people resolve to quit smoking, exercise more often, eat more vegetables, drink more water, lose weight, and the list goes on and on. The most common of the resolutions is to achieve a healthier weight. Many people look to lose the 10lbs that they gained over the holidays and more. There are a variety of products, pills and approaches to weight loss, but many may be just another fad and provide nothing more than false advertising.

People looking to enhance their weight loss efforts may seek out methods to boost the mysterious “metabolism” with popular pills or even common foods. But, is there truth behind the claims? It’s time to bust the myths and find out how to support a healthy metabolism.

It is important to first explore what the metabolism is and what affects its function, in order to better understand how to support it. Metabolism comes from the Greek word metabolismos, which is basically how the body uses energy it consumes. Metabolism includes two separate processes:
• Anabolism: Building process
• Catabolism: Breakdown process

The metabolic rate, or the rate in which energy is used to build the body or breakdown the body, is affected both positively and negatively by a variety of factors, including:
• Age
• Gender
• Muscle mass
• Hydration
• Meal pattern
• Activity level
• Sleeping pattern

It is evident that a person’s metabolism slows as they age due to losses in water and lean body mass (muscle). Therefore, in order to maintain a healthy weight it is vital to practice simple, sound strategies to support a healthy metabolism.

  • Stay Hydrated.

WaterChoose water as your number one beverage and drink up! Practicing good hydration to support your metabolism by replenishing the body, which is 57-75% water, with fresh stores. This cycling process- out with the old and in with the new- will alleviate stress on the kidneys and liver, which help to filter waste from the body and leave the body refreshed and rejuvenated. Strive for the golden rule of eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. If at the beginning you feel like your new hobby is running to the washroom, no worries your body will adjust over time.

  •  Eat often, but not too often.


Small, frequent meals and snacks can help to feed the muscle and boost the metabolic rate for a short period of time. By eating every 3-4 hours, you avoid “starvation mode” and remind the body that food is plentiful. Fasting and skipping meals can slow the metabolic rate causing the body to store calories as fat and may also cause many to overeat late

Healthful meals are composed of at least three food groups (lean protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, or healthy fats) and healthful snacks include two foods (fruit, vegetable or grain with a source of protein or fat). This intentional composition can provide stable sources of energy to feed muscles throughout the day and night.r. It is important to not eat too frequently, which can cause the blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels to remain high throughout the day. By waiting 3-5 hours that body is able to utilize energy consumed and prepare for the next eating episode. A healthful meal or snack can help many to bridge this gap without cravings and swings in mood or energy levels.

  • Maintain Muscle.

dbIn general, for every 5-10lbs of muscle, the body will burn an extra 100 Calories per day. Regular exercise and physical activity can help to build and maintain muscle. Muscle mass is the primary engine for the body’s metabolism. Muscle building activities focused on the body’s larger, or major, muscle groups can be an efficient way to support the metabolism and increase strength. Identify safe activities that use the back (latissimus dorsi), chest (pectoralis), core (abdominals), and legs (gluteus, hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius).  An individual can reap the benefits by incorporating anaerobic, resistance exercises at least two days.
Aerobic activities (walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, etc) are also a great way to give a sluggish metabolism a boost. A good initial goal is to achieve 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. In addition to consistent exercise, regular physical activity can increase the metabolic rate. A good goal is to try to get up and move at least one time per hour.

• Catch some Zzz’s.

Inadequate sleep can lead to unhealthy changes in the way that the body uses energy. Researchers found that sleep-deprived people had higher levels of blood sugar and insulin and also had difficulties managing their appetite. Adequate sleep allows the body to rest and repair itself from head-to-toe every night. This includes the body’s hormones, which help to regulate how the body uses energy.

Try to forget about the latest fad foods for boosting the metabolism rate. The best practices to achieve and maintain a healthier weight are to choose water, eat well, move more, and to allow yourself time for rest.


Since every body is different, health behavior changes are very individualized. Seek out sound sources for nutrition and exercise advice, including registered dietitians, certified personal trainers, exercise physiologist and your personal physician.

Supermarket Savvy: What’s for Dinner?

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall, MS RD CD CPT

What’s for dinner is a question that most household cooks hear on a daily basis. Putting together a healthful dinner in a time crunch can be a difficult task. Thus, many people opt for simple just-add-water foods that do not provide good nutrition. Even more people with busy families swing by a local fast-food joint to provide a time-friendly feast.

I hope to convey some tips for the time-crunched family and the struggling chef, so that anyone can serve up a healthy, inexpensive meal in 20 minutes or less. 

Time-saving Tips:

  • Choose budget-friendly staples.
  • Make a grocery list based on meals for the week
  • Get creative with leftovers.
  • Cook ahead: eat now or freeze for later.

Healthy eating does not cost more money, but does cost more time or at least a few moments of planning. Inexpensive staples that pack a nutritional punch include:

  • Dry peas, beans and lentils
  • Eggs
  • Dry whole grains (Brown rice, Barley, Bulgur, Quinoa)
  • Fresh, frozen or canned (no salt added) vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Ground chicken or turkey breasts
  • Canned fish in water with limited added salt

The items above vary in cooking time. The dried peas and lentils are going to cook up a lot faster than the beans, but in a time crunch all would be best if made ahead of time and placed in the freezer. Additionally, the dried grains vary in prep time where brown rice and barley may take 45-60min to cook versus the bulgur and quinoa may only take 10-12 minutes. Check out the recipes below for ideas on how to compile these staples for family-friendly meals.

A proven method that can ensure a healthful dinner is meal planning, which can be as simple as making a grocery list. When crafting a grocery list be sure to use a few of the budget-friendly staples to create 2-3 weekday dinners. These dinners can feed you and your family throughout the week. The one catch with this approach is that you have to be a fan of leftovers. Leftovers do not have to be the same meal, but may include the same foundation. For example, grilling several chicken breasts on Sunday may provide Kebabs on Monday, Tacos on Tuesday, and pasta with chicken on Wednesday.

Since time is of the essence and lack of time is a common barrier for a variety of healthful lifestyle habits, cooking ahead and freezing for later can be very helpful. Most people have at least one day out of the week that is a bit slower than others. I recommend to set aside 1-2 hours on this day to cook up a few of the staples listed above or to even create home-made frozen dinners, such as frozen soups, stews, or casseroles. Another option is to cook up the meal, grains or beans in a slow-cooker or crock-pot during the day, so they are ready by the evening.

One Week of Nutritious, Delicious and Efficient Dinners:

  • Monday: Grilled chicken breast (from Sunday dinner) sandwiches on toasted whole wheat bread topped with vegetables, sliced avocado and melted reduced-fat cheese. Served with fruit salad.
  • Tuesday: Stir-fried frozen vegetables with chopped chicken breast served over made-ahead brown rice.
  • Wednesday: Made-ahead 3-Bean Chili topped with plain Greek yogurt or reduced fat cheese and raw vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, bell pepper)
  • Thursday: Baked potato topped with leftover chili, yogurt or cheese with a side salad as easy as bagged spinach topped with a few grape tomatoes.
  • Friday: Home-made pizzas with leftover vegetables from the week, a jar of low-sodium tomato sauce, reduced-fat cheese served on a whole wheat pita, tortilla or English muffin.

For additional cost-effective, time-sensitive and healthy recipes check out:

Supermarket Savvy: RD Approved Foods to Break the Fast!

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

We have heard it over and over; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Despite this fact, breakfast is commonly missed by many. Therefore, it is vital to continue to tout the many benefits of breakfast and highlight quick, easy and healthful products that can help break the fast.

Researchers have confirmed that people who eat breakfast:

  • Have stable energy levels throughout the day.
  • Have improved mental focus.
  • Manage their appetite and tend to eat appropriate portions for the remainder of the day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

The breakfast food aisle seems to be getting longer and longer and is typically overflowing with colorful boxes, goofy looking characters and the rich smell of coffee. When venturing into the inner aisles of the grocery store, it is important to have a plan to ensure you are in and out without any unwarranted items in the basket.

The following are RD-approved products that are tasty, reasonable in cost, and use simple ingredients. The links provided will bring you to the products sites for further ingredient, price and nutrition information.

Uncle Sam’s Original® Cereal was created in 1908 and is an oldie, but a goody!  It is a simple cereal made with toasted wheat berries. This choice also has whole flaxseeds for additional fiber. It would be best if the flaxseeds were ground to provide additional omega-3’s.Uncle Sam’s has only 4 ingredients: whole wheat kernels, flaxseeds, salt and barley malt. Since it is unsweetened it is recommended as a topping, but after some taste bud retraining it can make a great breakfast! There are additional varieties, which help to boost flavor, including Skinner’s Raisin Bran®, which is simply Uncle Sam’s plus raisins.

Ezekiel® Sprouted Grain Cereals with almonds or flax are another option for cold cereal. These cereals are composed of a variety of sprouted grains and lentils to provide a rich source of lean protein, fiber and a natural source of vitamins and minerals.

For persons seeking a healthful gluten-free cereal, my vote goes to Erewhon® Crispy Brown rice and Corn Flake cereals. Crispy brown rice is an alternative to traditional crisped rice cereal. Both cereals are gluten-free and only have two ingredients!

These cereal choices provide a sound whole grain source for breakfast.  Pour on organic low-fat dairy, such as 0-1% cow or goat’s milk or a low-fat kefir for lean protein and add a whole fruit and before you is a balanced breakfast that takes minimal time, but packs a whole lot of nutrition!

Smoothies are quite trendy right now and are best if made at home. It is difficult to control the sugar content when consumed commercially. A simple smoothie recipe that will provide a boost of energy in the morning is: ½ cup low-fat milk or kefir, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 cup spinach and 1-2 Tablespoons of ground flax or chia seeds. This concoction provides 250 Calories, 6.5g healthy fat, 35g (2 servings) carbohydrate with 10g fiber and 12g protein.

Let’s not forget about the beloved toaster! Two slices of toasted bread or waffles can also be the foundation for a healthful morning meal.  Ezekiel® also makes a sprouted grain bread, which like the cereal is composed of an assortment of sprouted grains and thus is higher in protein, vitamins and minerals than other breads. However, this bread is typically more expensive and needs to be refrigerated.

Brownberry® Natural Wheat bread and Pepperidge Farm’s® Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat breads are comparable in ingredients, nutrition and price and are great runners’ up.

The best waffle is Kashi’s Heart-to-Heart® 7-Grain waffles. Most of the ingredient list includes a variety of vitamins and minerals used to enrich and fortify the grains. These waffles provide a good source of fiber without the card-board flavor and texture.

Most do not partake in dry toast or waffles, so I encourage my clients to spread on a heart healthy fat such as almond or peanut butter and top with a whole fruit such as banana, apple, or pear.

If there are a few minutes to spare, hot cereal is another hearty option. Rolled oats provide an ideal source of whole grain, fiber and b-vitamins. Three-fourths cup of oats soaked in water with 1 tsp lemon juice over night provides another quick option for the morning. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of nuts (almonds or walnuts) and seeds (ground flax or chia) for a healthy source of fat and protein for about 400 Calories.

That concludes my simple list of quick, easy and healthful breakfast items. I would love to hear from my readers, any top-of-the-line products that are a great way to start your day? 

Stay tuned for as we head to the aisles to compose a healthy lunch!

Get S.M.A.R.T.

Written by Cassie Vanderwall, MS, RD, LDN, CPT

Change is composed of several small steps and begins with one small step in a different direction than how we are currently acting. Goals are these smaller steps, and it is important for goals to be S.M.A.R.T, or specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Take note of how the following common health and wellness goals are transformed by these principals.

• Exercise more.
Be SPECIFIC- I will walk briskly outside or on a treadmill for 10 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
This new goal helps to identify what, when, where, and how, while leaving little room for interpretation, and excuses.

• Lose weight.
Make it MEASUREABLE- I will lose 1lb every week by making water my primary beverage and limiting Caloric beverages to one serving one time per month.
Measureable goals are easier to track and thus mark your progress as time goes on, because the long-term goal is progress not perfection.

• Quit smoking.
Make it ATTAINABLE- I will call my friend, ___, when I have the urge to smoke a cigarette, and limit myself to ___ cigarette(s) per day with the desire to quit smoking by May 1, 2011.
Many people are able to quit smoking “cold turkey,” but many more need assistance in the process. Since addictive substances often are a way to cope with a stressful situation, a more positive coping mechanism is necessary, in order to make this goal attainable. Genuine relationships are an important part of a healthy lifestyle and provide the social support that is key to making resolutions a success.

• Stop eating fried foods.
Be REALISTIC- I will choose fried foods sparingly by limiting them to one serving one time per week.
Fried foods can add a lot of unnecessary Calories and fat to our meal plans. We can usually enjoy the same food baked, broiled or grilled with less of an energy burden. It is not realistic to say that one will never eat fried foods ever again, because most foods can be enjoyed in moderation. In order to make this goal realistic we can allow ourselves one serving of fried foods (IE: 1 small fry, 1 piece of fried chicken or fish), one time per week, month, every 2 months, etc. The time period will vary based on how much we are consuming when we start.

• Learn something new.
Be TIMELY- I will learn how to cook a new food every week for 10 weeks.
It is important to provide a time-frame so, that we can assess our progress later. This resolution goal was also not very specific; remember being specific helps us to focus our efforts and thus create better results.

The S.M.A.R.T. framework can be very helpful in pursuing all types of life changes. If you have additional questions about behavior changes related to nutrition, fitness and wellness, leave a comment.  I am happy to help!


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