Posts Tagged ‘Personal Trainer’

Bump to Babies

Hello followers!

I just wanted to share my new blog entitled Bump 2 Babies found at:

My hope is that it is a resource for parents, health professionals and baby lovers alike. I am open to suggestions on topics of discussion and investigation just as I am on this blog. So, don’t be shy and stop by to join me on my adventure to having quintuplets!

Beauty and the Beets

beetsMany people say you are what you eat. So, does that mean if you grab a cinnabun everyday before work that pretty soon you’ll be sporting some large cinnabuns? Maybe.

As always, there is more to it. But, we do know that what we eat directly impacts several different processes in the body. For example, if we eat more sugar, our blood sugar will be higher. If we eat more fat, our cholesterol may go up or down depending on if we chose a big chunk of cheddar cheese or a savory avocado. Most- if not all- of the organs in the body are affected by our typical food choices.

The skin is the largest organ in the body and often manifests the condition of what’s going on inside. Maintaining good skin integrity can be crucial to protecting the body from infection (immunity), maintaining a healthy body temperature and supporting a healthy sense of touch. Our skin completely renews itself every 2-4 weeks as skin cells move from the lower dermis to the upper layers (epidermis) that we can see. The dermis houses the sebaceous glands (sweat, oil), nerve endings, blood vessels, collagen and elastin.  

SkinCollagen and elastin are structural proteins that support the skin’s function. Collagen is a rigid connective tissue, where as elastin (like elastic) helps the skin to stretch and retract. The body stops producing elastin during puberty, and then it’s up to us to maintain the elastin throughout the aging process. Without healthy elastin, collagen begins to become weak and even more rigid. This process can cause changes in skin tone and can lead to the dreaded wrinkles!

Young versus Old Skin

Even though there are endless amounts of beauty products, one of the best ways to care for skin is from the inside out. So, if you are looking for yet another reason to eat healthy, look no further.  There are several nutrients that help skin to stay hydrated and nourish the elastin and collagen.

  • Vitamin A and Carotenoids

Vitamin A is converted in to retinoic acid in the body, which has been known for years to “cure” wrinkles. There are many topical ointments that contain these retinoids, but why not feed the skin from the ground up? Food sources of vitamin A include orange fruits and vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, oranges, sweet potatoes), as well as, dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus) and eggs (yolk).

  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin)Egg

Biotin, like other B-vitamins, are co-factors (helpers) in several metabolic processes throughout the body, including processes that build and repair. Biotin plays a critical role in the formation of the dermis, as well as the base for hair and nails. Biotin can be found in eggs, banana, and certain whole grains (oatmeal and brown/wild rice).

  • Vitamin C

This vitamin is a potent antioxidant and thus fights hard to protect the body from damage inside and out. We know that the skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays, smoking and pollution. Vitamin C also plays a role in the creation and maintenance of collagen. Most people know that vitamin C can be found in citrus (oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime), but it is also quite high in leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

  • Vitamin E

This fat soluble vitamin is also a strong antioxidant that can protect the skin from external and internal damage. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, olives and other vegetable oils, as well as, egg yolks and spinach.

  • Other colorful antioxidantsPhytochemicals

Colorful antioxidants are also known as phytochemicals. There are an abundance of different phytochemicals found within each color category: orange (carotenoids), green (chlorophyll), purple (betaines), red (polyphenols), white (sulfides). Enter the beauty found in beets! Beets are very high in betaines, which are responsible for its deep purple color. This rich color represents the strong antioxidant capabilities of the food, which also promotes anti-inflammatory and detoxification processes throughout the body.

  • Selenium & Zinc

Two minerals that are critical to skin health. Selenium is yet another antioxidant that can minimize the damage caused by the sun. It is found in whole grains, including the germ (wheat germ), seafood, garlic, nuts and yet again- eggs. Zinc supports cell growth, including the growth of skin and hair. It can also maintain a healthy degree of oil production. Zinc deficiency is often characterized by dry skin, dry hair and brittle nails. Zinc can be found in nuts, pumpkin seeds, oysters, meat and poultry, as well as, oats and eggs.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These anti-inflammatory fats can help to naturally decrease systemic inflammation. Inflammatory skin conditions include acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and hyperkeratinization often found on the back of the upper arms.  Consuming foods rich in these heart healthy fats may lead to smoother, young-looking skin with less acne and psoriasis. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (salmon, sardines) and seeds (flax, chia).

  • HydrationWater

The last nutrient isn’t a nutrient at all, it’s water. Practicing good hydration means providing the body with enough water to carry out its normal functions in an efficient and effective manner. This may be 4 cups to 8 cups of water per day. The Institute of Medicine currently recommends 9 and 13 cups of water for women and men, respectively. It is always best to start where you are at and build from there. So, if you are drinking 2 cups of water, would on doubling it and if you are drinking 8 cups per day, work on maintaining that amount and adding a cup or 2 throughout the day. It is also important to account for dehydrating beverages including alcohol or caffeine.

Now, instead purchasing another expensive moisturizing cream to protect your skin this winter season, consider starting your day with a hardboiled egg and oatmeal and load up your supper plate with dark leafy greens, salmon and a sweet potato to fill up on skin-nourishing nutrients.

Written by Cassie Vanderwall, MS RD CD CDE CPT

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.

Raspberry Ketones: Fab or Fad?

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall, MS RD CD CPT

Fab or Fad? Are raspberry ketones a fabulous new way to achieve a healthier weight, or are they just another diet fad?

Adiponectin is created by fat cells and acts upon fat, muscle and within the brain to promote a variety of functions:Raspberry ketones were found to increase production of a hormone (adiponectin) that is used to regulate the body’s metabolism. It may play a significant role in type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, obesity and thus metabolic syndrome.

  • Increases the body’s use of blood sugar (glucose) by increasing insulin sensitivity.
  • Decreases the creation of new glucose in the liver (Gluconeogenesis).
  • Increases the breakdown of body fat and uses this fat and triglycerides for energy (Beta-Oxidation).
  • Protects the arteries from plaque formation by decreasing the expression of adhesive proteins.
  • Increases metabolism through the up-regulation of uncoupling proteins.

Therefore, it makes sense that researchers have found:

  • People with high levels of adiponectin are typically thinner than those who have lower levels.
  • People with diabetes tend to have lower amounts of the hormone than those without diabetes.
  • In mice, supplementation of leptin (another key hormone for weight management) and adiponectin completely reversed insulin resistance, but again this was a mouse study.

It is evident that there is an inverse relationship between the level of adiponectin and body fat; the less adiponectin, the more body fat.  It has also been shown that weight loss increases the body’s production of adiponectin. This evidence-based research is quite exciting and shows promise to adiponectin supplementation.

The questions remains, will supplementation of raspberry ketones help the body to reach therapeutic levels of adiponectin?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to reach these levels with food alone. According to Dr. Oz, a person would need to eat 90 pounds of raspberries to equal the current recommended dose of raspberry ketones. Now that’s a lot of berries!  But, do not get too discouraged because every bit helps! It has been shown that by eating more dark colored fruits, including raspberries, blackberries and cranberries individuals can increase their adiponectin levels.

Other nutrition-related tactics to up this fat-burning hormone include:

  • Make protein a priority. Eating adequate lean protein from lean meat, chicken, fish, beans, peas, legumes and whole grains because hormones are made from protein.
  • More Omega-3 please. Increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your day by choosing fatty fish, walnuts or almonds, and flax or chia seeds. It is also important to watch your intake of omega-6 fatty acids from corn, soybean and safflower oils.
  • Drink coffee! Coffee drinkers who drank 1-2 cups (6-12oz) of coffee per day had the highest levels of adiponectin among coffee and non-coffee drinkers.
  • Move more. 40 plus minutes of aerobic, heart pumping exercises, like brisk walking, jogging, biking  climbing stairs, jumping rope, dancing, or swimming, per day, at least 4 times per week also will encourage the body to make more adiponectin.

All in all, the jury is still out on if raspberry ketones can truly increase adiponectin levels enough to promote body fat losses. But, we do not it is safe to try. In the mean time, don’t forget about the tried and true methods to increase adiponectin and achieve a healthier weight listed above.

Fat: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

Fat is the most dense form of energy with 9 calories per gram; this is more than twice the number of calories per gram found in carbohydrate or protein. Fat helps the body to grow and develop, absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K), and provide cushioning for organs and cells.  Fat is also a great storage space for extra energy in the body. The body is able to find all sorts of places to store fat. When tissue stores max out, the body will often begin storing fat in the organs, such as the liver. High levels of fat in the body also increase the amount of fat that is being transported throughout the bloodstream via lipoproteins, or cholesterol including low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and triglycerides. Over the years, researchers have concluded that intake of specific fats can modify not only fat/cholesterol transportation levels, but also fat storage.

We have designated fats as heart healthy versus not heart healthy. Most “heart healthy” fats are those that are fluid in nature (unsaturated) whereas most rigid fats (saturated) tend to increase levels of “bad” cholesterol and thus are not heart healthy. Unsaturated fats are long carbon chains that have one or more double bonds. Mono-unsaturated fats (MUFAs) have only one double bond, whereas Poly-unsaturated fats (PUFAs) have more than one. The image portrays a triglyceride with a saturated fat at the top, followed by a MUFA and a PUFA at the bottom.

MUFAs are liquid at room temperature and become solid when chilled. Olive, canola, peanut, sunflower and sesame oils, avocadoes, nuts and seeds are all good sources of MUFAs and are quite high in the Western diet. MUFAs are considered a good alternative to saturated fats due to their fluid nature.

PUFAs are liquid at room temperature and when chilled. These essential fats are composed of:

  • Omega-9 common in animal and vegetable oils and made by the body,
  • Omega-6 from soybean, corn and safflower oils, and
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), some nuts and sunflower seeds. Omega 3 fatty acids can be further broken down into DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid).

Americans tend to consume more omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils found in fast and processed foods, versus omega-3’s from cold water fish, nuts and seeds. It is important to note that all PUFAs play a significant role in brain function, immunity and growth, but excessive omega-6 intake may increase inflammation in the body, whereas the omega-3’s tend to put the fire out.  Omega-6 fatty acids promote hormones that increase blood clotting and cell growth/division and omega-3’s decrease blood clotting and unhealthy cellular growth/division. This oppositional relationship accentuates the importance of consuming these fats in balance, or lower omega-6 : omega-3 ratio so one function does not over-ride the other.

Saturated fats have been coined the “bad” fat since high intake of saturated fat in the West correlates nicely with cardiovascular disease and high LDL (bad) cholesterol. Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen atoms and do not contain any double bonds. This causes them to be solid and rigid at room temperature. Animal products (meat, poultry skin, butter, cheese, cream, high fat milk, ice cream, etc) are all high in saturated fat. It was thought for some time that saturated fat was only found in animals. But, now we know that tropical oils, including palm (image to the left) and coconut, also have saturated fat. The oil from the palm fruit’s flesh is much healthier than that which is extracted from the kernel. Researchers are now beginning to distinguish the health consequences of the animal versus plant-based saturated fats, because coconut oils do not appear to have the negative effects. Many believe this difference is due to the length of the carbon chains.

According to a recent study on medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), with 6 to 10 carbons, MCTS differ from longer chain fatty acids. MCTs are more water soluble and are absorbed at a faster rate than longer chains and thus are not as likely to be stored by the body. Additionally, dietary lifestyles high in longer chain fats versus MCTs tend to increase the risk for heart disease and insulin resistance. To make matters more confusing, animals that are grain-fed versus grass-fed tend to be lower in calories and unhealthy saturated fats and higher in omega-3’s, vitamins A and E and other antioxidants.

Trans fats were not discussed above, but it is best to keep these sources of fat minimal at less than 1 gram per day.

Current recommendations suggest that most people allot 30% of their daily calories to fat with the majority of the fat coming from Omega-3 sources (fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds), a bit coming from Omega-6 sources (other nuts and seeds, vegetable oils) and a growing percentage from MCTs (coconut, olive). The recommendation to keep saturated fat low, 7-10% of daily calories, is still a strong guideline due to the prevalence of atherogenic saturated fats in America.

It does seem that nutritional recommendations change with the direction of the wind. I consider this a good thing because it means we are continuing to research and learn what is best for our bodies and overall health. If there are issues, or questions, that you have, please do not hesitate to ask or send a message. I am happy to explore them with you!

Tactics to Avoid the Trick and Enjoy the Treat

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

Halloween can be a scary time for more reasons than the goblins and spooky ghosts. Halloween seems to kick-off the season of treats. Many parents dread Halloween due to the amount of candy that their child drags home after a long night of trick-or-treating.  This can be unwelcomed, especially if any member of the family is attempting to manage their weight.  Let’s take a moment and spin this into a learning opportunity.

Trick-or-treating is a great time to teach kids about moderation. Remember, Halloween candy is no different than other sweets and desserts.  There is a growing body of research that encourages families to mark no food as forbidden. Ellyn Satter encourages parents to help their children to, “Learn to manage sweets and to keep sweets in proportion to the other food [they] eat.” Moderation can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is a lesson worth learning. According to research, treat-deprived children often end up weighing more later in life due to hoarding forbidden foods, where as children who are permitted to enjoy treats regularly maintained a healthier weight. Additionally, authoritative food policies often encourage sneaking and hiding behaviors.

Brave parents may allow their children to manage their own stash of Halloween candy and possibly learn the hard way after a few belly aches. Other families may wish to combine the booty and sort through it together; allowing each member to identify the candies that they “love,” “like,” and can “do without.” Most people find it beneficial to throw out the candy that they can live without and enjoy the rest 1 piece at a time as part of a meal.

It is helpful to refer to published guidelines regarding added sugar to identify a healthy way to enjoy candy. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends a certain number of grams of sugar per day based on their age and gender. For reference, there are 4 grams of sugar in every teaspoon of sugar.

  • Men: 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons)
  • Women: 25 grams per day (6 teaspoons)
  • Pre-teen and Teenagers: 20-32 grams per day (5-8 teaspoons)
  • Children (4-8 years): (3 teaspoons)
  • Preschoolers (2-3 years): 16 grams per day (4 teaspoons)

In order to do your part and limit the extra sugar that enters your home, choose to hand-out the following candy alternatives:

Non-Food Alternatives:

  • Stickers
  • Glow sticks
  • Play dough
  • Rings
  • Toothpaste/Floss/Toothbrush
  • Pencil/Erasers
  • Post-it’s
  • Bubbles

Food Alternatives:

  • Sugar-free Gum
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Trail mix

So, with moderation in mind may, the force be with you as we forge into the season of sweets!

Food and Money- Too Good to Waste

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

Money may not buy love or happiness but it certainly has become a resource for better health in the present age. Many people believe that eating healthy costs more money and depending on food costs, it very well may. This is why it is vital to be strategic about how the mighty food dollar is spent and reduce waste.

A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. This amounts to $165 billion every year! So, what does this look like on the individual level? The report estimates that individuals waste about 25% of everything they purchase. The average adult spent $3240 at the grocery store in 2011 (7% of their income), so this means of that they wasted food amounting to $810. The average family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) spends $13,000 annually or $250 every week. If they also toss out 25% of what they buy, they waste $63 every week.  These wasted foods and funds can be reduced through the following 3 strategies.

Take stock before you shop

Try to get down to bare bones in the cupboard, pantry, refrigerator and freezer before hitting the store. This may require a thorough clean out of the kitchen first to ensure all foods are safe for consumption. Be sure to check the expiration dates on all packaged foods. If it’s expired, feel good about tossing it out. It is important to note that not all dates on packages are expiration dates. There are also “sell by” and “best by” dates and food may last long after these dates have passed.

When grocery shopping, bring a list and try to stick to it. Impulse buys are often the items that end up in the trash. Also, be weary of bulk items. It may be a great deal, but be sure you will eat it. Often times, bulk items get eaten faster when they are in less intimidating packages. Try to take some time to pre-portion these items, such as trail mix or snack foods into home-made 100-Calorie packs. This same method can be applied to chicken breasts, ground turkey and fish.

Get creative with your cupboards

Now that you and your family have a clean slate to work with, you will begin to form the habit of working with a few odd items as you approach grocery shopping time. Pretend that you are on Top Chef: the Family edition and you’ll be having fun before you know it!

When just starting out, try to keep the following staples for quick and healthy meals on-hand:

  • Grain/Starch: Quick brown rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread
  • Protein: Canned fish, canned beans, eggs, cheese, milk, peanut butter, nuts and seeds
  • Vegetable: Canned or frozen
  • Fruit: Dried, Frozen or canned in water

Give over-ripe produce a second chance

Before tossing out squishy, mushy produce, try to give it a second life. Be sure to inspect it for mold and give it a quick sniff. If everything checks out, toss it in one of the following items:


  • Over-ripe bananas or apples are great for baking
  • Fading berries work well in jam
  • Grapes, cranberries, and other berries are great to dehydrate
  • All others can be nutrient boosters in smoothies or home-made juices


  • Sagging carrots, celery and wilted greens are perfect for soup
  • Other over-ripe vegetables can be pureed into sauces or dressings
  • Spinach, kale, cucumber, carrots, and many others are great for juicing and smoothies

It’s also important to keep a close eye on these perishable items. If you notice they are aging quicker than expected, prepare them and then store them in the freezer for a quick dish later in the week…or month.

Make food last longer by being smart about Portions

Most of the food wasted in restaurants is due to the large portions. Try to be mindful at home and follow the recommended portions for your age range. In general, the plate method featured on is an easy way to practice healthful portions at home. Just be sure to start with a 9-inch plate- no platters.

Be diligent when dining out and either order what you can eat or plan to take some home. Turn in your card to the clean plate club and remember leftovers are your friend.

The bottom line is that healthy eating may not cost more money, but does cost more time and both are too precious to waste. Try to…

  • Take stock of your staples before you shop,
  • Get creative with what is in your cupboards,
  • Give over-ripe produce a second chance, and
  • Be smart about portions to make food last longer.

Your One Source For Wellness Information.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,122 other followers