Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No-Deprivation Halloween Diet Tips

Whether you’re handing out the treats or will have to deal with the pillowcases full of goodies your kids bring home (or both!) Halloween can cause quite the candy conundrum. But you and your kids don’t have to miss out on the fun to avoid turning into Augustus Gloop. Follow Gladwyne-based dietitian and family nutritionist, Emma Fogt‘s tips for a happy, healthy Halloween.

You’ll already have to deal with the loot the kids bring home, so do yourself a favor and opt for calorie-free or healthier treats. “This year, instead of handing out tons of candy, opt for more stickers, mini pumpkins, mini toys and dollar-store gifts like fake tattoos, stick on gems, crayons, pencils, erasers or sticky notes,” suggests Fogt. “Or passing out more nutritious foods such as; individually wrapped Fig Newtons, dried fruits, pretzels , baked chips or popcorn.”

“Make sure to feed the children and yourself before trick-or-treating, even if it is early,” says Fogt. “I guarantee your kids—and you— will eat less candy on a fuller stomach.”

The amount of candy kids collect in one night goes far beyond the USDA’s advice of having approximately 250 calories of discretionary calories per day. “Discretionary calories are those calories that contain added fats and sugars,” says Fogt. “It is so easy to overspend these discretionary calories on a normal day, but it’s especially difficult at Halloween time.” So, spread them out. If you really love Reese’s, figure out how many you can have in a day, enjoy them, and then opt for nutrition-packed whole foods for the rest of the day.”

“Have candy only after dinner, not as a snack or when you are hungry,” says Fogt. “If you start to eat candy on an empty stomach, you will; fill up on these non-nutritive calories.” Instead, keep fresh fruits on the table. “If you are truly hungry, an apple will sound just as good as a candy bar,” says Fogt.

Halloween Fruit Bites

Great way to have fun and get your kids to eat apples and nuts. Fruit bites is a healthy snack for kids that you can make together.

To make these little bites you can use pears or apples. Any nuts will work. We used peanuts.

1. Wash apples and pears. Dry them.
2. Quarter a pear, cut a wedge from the skin side of each quarter.
3. Sliver the peanuts.
4. Cut them into smaller teeth looking pieces.
5. Press the your peanuts into the pear to make teeth.

“As the parent, you are responsible not only for what and where your kids eat, but when,” says Fogt, who recommends having kids pick any two pieces of candy after dinner and stashing the rest during the day. “After some time, the ‘best’ candy is gone and you can chuck the rest. The younger your children, the more control you have over their food choices, timing of meals and when they eat.”

Leaving candy out in view is a fast-tack to a sugar fest. “Brian Wansink, a Cornell researcher and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think says that we eat more of visible foods because it causes us to think about it more, and every time you see the candy bowl you have to decide whether … you want a piece of candy or not. “Don’t get sucked into the ‘see food diet’ mentality that makes you want to eat the candy simply because you see it and not because you are hungry.”

When you experience a sweet craving it may be that you are actually hungry for real food. “Ride the crave wave for a few minutes and ask yourself if you really want candy right now or real food,” says Fogt. “Take a break and get up. Go outside or eat some fresh fruit and see if the sweet carving subsides.”

“You can also choose to get the candy out of the house,” says Fogt. “Donate the candy to a shelter or homeless facility, a food bank or a senior center that would appreciate it.”

Keeping cheap candy you don’t like in the house—if you aren’t a fan of Peppermint Patties, for instance, handing them out will be a lot easier than handing out your favorite. “But why not get a little of your own yummy, high-quality dark chocolate?” suggest Fogt. “Eating a good piece of dark chocolate slowly is rich, sweet and satisfying, and it also provides antioxidants.”
resource: blogs.phillymag.com

   Eerie eyeball snacks for Halloween

One of my favorite creepy snacks to serve at a Halloween party is Eerie Eyeballs. I originally got the recipe from Britta Blvd and it’s a pretty easy one with great impact. I love seeing people (especially kids) squirm and squeal over these chewy, gummy, and freaky little bites!

The trick to these is in the mold. My favorite mold is a simple plastic paint palette. They are cheap, easy to store, and have a perfect round shape and a smooth, slick surface. Best of all, you can find them at any store that sells craft supplies. Just make sure you’ve never used them for paint before — we want these eyeballs to be edible!
eerie eyeballs snackspaint palette
You can also use any other mold you can find that has a round shape. Some suggestions are truffle molds and round ice cube trays. Or, you can just put the mixture in a bowl and use a melon baller, but your results won’t be nearly as consistent or round.
Eerie Eyeballs
  • 3 oz box (that’s the small size) of lemon gelatin (can be sugar-free)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese (can be lowfat/Neufchatel)
Dissolve lemon gelatin in 1 cup water in double boiler, add marshmallows, and stir to melt. Remove from heat. Add pineapple juice and cream cheese. Beat until well blended. Cool slightly. If you are using molds, spray them very lightly with non-stick cooking spray, then pour the mixture in the molds and leave to set in the fridge. To decorate the eyes, use food coloring (liquid or paste) and a tiny (clean!) paint brush and get creative. You will need black food coloring for the pupils, but the irises can be any color you like.
eerie eyeballs
You can have a lot of fun with the painting. The eyes can be realistic and creepy, or wild and crazy (think cat eyes, bloodshot eyes, or eyelids and huge lashes!). I tend to go to parties with kids at them, and I don’t want to gross them out, so I make the eyes pretty tame. Just ordinary blue eyes is still enough to make most people shiver to see one being eaten, though!
This recipe will make a LOT of eyeballs, especially if you are using the palettes as your molds, since they are not very deep. If you don’t have a lot of molds, you might want to try to cut this recipe in half.
Here are some fun ways to display the eyeballs:
  • Arrange them on a platter in the middle of the buffet table.
  • Put one or two eyes on the edge of each plate, including serving platters and your guests’ dining plates.
  • Put one or two on top of a cupcake or use them to create a border around a cake.
  • Spear them with a swizzle stick or umbrella and use them to decorate a cocktail glass (Note that if your eyeballs are flat, you might want to put two of them back to back for this idea, to create a fuller-looking eye.) Add a drop of red food coloring on the stab wound and really gross them out!
  • Put one on your tongue and walk up to a guest at your party and stick your tongue out. This is sure to get a reaction, especially if chew the eyeball up right after they see it!
Got any favorite creepy treats that you serve at your Halloween parties? I’d love to hear about them!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

USA TODAY's Weight Loss Challenge 2011: No Excuses

If you've successfully lost weight and kept it off, we'd like to hear from you and possibly include your story in USA TODAY's 2011 Weight Loss Challenge. The theme of this year's challenge: No Excuses.
Please e-mail us with the excuse you had for not losing weight and exercising regularly and how you changed your mindset to trim down. Send a short paragraph about yourself, including your name, age, location and the keys to your success. If possible, please attach before and after photos.
Or write to:
Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY
7950 Jones Branch Dr.
McLean, VA 22124

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Biggest Loser Fitness Video Game Review

Now you can become "The Biggest Loser" in the comforts of your own home. Shape and tone your body, either by yourself or with a friend, with this interactive fitness video game for the Wii. Choose a 4, 8 or 12 week program and The Biggest Loser fitness game will build a workout and nutrition plan for you so you can reach your fitness goals. You can take advantage of the expert advice and unique motivational styles of the amazing trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels to help guide you along with the way.
The Biggest Loser game logo
Bob Harper leading exercises on the Wii Balance Board in The Biggest Loser for Wii
Wii Balance Board support.
An example of a customized core routine from The Biggest Loser for Wii
Customizable workouts.
Playing as former TV show contestant Michelle in The Biggest Loser for Wii
Play as former contestants.
Built in calendar for tracking goal progress in The Biggest Loser
Progress tracking functionality.
Put Wii to Work for Your Health
We know what you’re thinking – "The Wii?? Isn’t that for kids and gamers?" Not anymore. The Biggest Loser is an interactive fitness program that emulates the competitive and training elements of the hit NBC show. Just like the show, your goal is to accomplish weight loss milestones through weekly training and exercise challenges. If you succeed in obtaining your weight loss goal, you’ll become the "Biggest Loser". Lose weight, win challenges and stay above the yellow line. Sign on to Your Virtual Gym
Getting started reaching your fitness goals with The Biggest Loser is as easy as grabbing your Wii Remote. If you got the Wii Balance Board, bring that along too. These will be your tools of the trade. There's no need to worry about strapping on awkward devices or using complicated exercise equipment, you’ll be up and sweating in minutes. So, how does it work? The game includes 4 tools to reach your goal:
  • Fitness Program - This is where you establish your goals, make a plan and compete for the title of The Biggest Loser. Pick a 4, 8 or 12 week program and start sweating.
  • Health and Lifestyle Tool - In this component you’ll find encouragement and tips from former Biggest Loser contestants and trainers, and some of the best recipes from the Biggest Loser cookbooks.
  • Exercise Routines - This section allows you to select from a collection of routines that match your skill level and let you focus on every part of your body. Through it you can also create your own routine that fits your schedule and focuses on your favorite exercises.
  • Challenge Events - In Challenges you’ll take the exercises you’ve learned and put them to the test in a series of fun but competitive events against some of the former contestants that you’ve seen on The Biggest Loser show. In Single Exercises, you can find your weakest exercise and conquer it or refine your technique to get the most out of your time.
Multiplayer Support
Dedicated to helping users attain their weight loss goals by all means necessary, The Biggest Loser allows for the power moral support and companionship of having a friend at your side. To that end two players can train together, pushing each other when they need to and providing healthy competition as they engage in weekly challenges to see who really is The Biggest Loser.
Wii Balance Board Integration
Although the Wii Balance Board is an optional accessory, The Biggest Loser offers numerous interactive features which fully employ the innovative, sensor-driven hardware that only Wii currently offers. Use the Wii Balance Board in over 66 of the Biggest Loser's 88 exercises, including squats, lunges and knee lifts to name a few. As you mirror your trainer’s movements Wii will monitor your movements to help you become more efficient at each exercise. Whether its cardio, upper and lower body workouts or even yoga, you’ll learn proper form and technique in no time. Wii technology, combined with The Biggest Loser comprehensive workout and diet programs, will help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle and to feeling great about yourself. And you may even have fun along the way too.
Key Game Features
  • Join The Biggest Loser Challenge - Select from a 4, 8 or 12 week program and compete with contestants from the prior seasons of The Biggest Loser.
  • Personalize your Program - Choose your challenge length and difficulty level, your personal goal, your trainer, customize routines and even pick your team color.
  • Health & Lifestyle Tips and Information - Includes healthy recipes from The Biggest Loser Cookbook, a calorie counter and healthy tips and suggestions from Bob and Jillian, chefs and contestants.
  • Train with a Friend - Two players can train together and compete in weekly challenges to see who really is The Biggest Loser.
  • A Complete Workout - Over 88 exercises, including upper and lower body, core, cardio and yoga.
  • Wii Balance Board Compatible - Use the Wii Balance Board for squats, knee lifts, lunges and much, much, more.

Product Description

Utilizes the Wii Remote, Nanchuk and Balance Board. Features 8 of your favorite former contestants from past seasons


1. The core of this game is its very comprehensive list of dozens and dozens of "Single Exercises", which are essentially old-school calisthenic exercises (i.e. exercises that don't use weights or equipment). Every exercise imaginable is included, including exercises for cardio, upper and lower body, core, and even yoga poses. Each is clearly identified by an icon and color-coded by intensity (light, moderate, challenging, hard, and intense). As you select each exercise, there's even a diagram telling you exactly what muscle groups you're working out.

During each exercise, an on-screen figure will demonstrate to you very clearly how to do it, including the correct posture, moves, and timing. The exercises typically use the Wii-mote and/or the Balance Board to passively "check" your progress in different ways. For example, when you choose the jump rope exercise, you hold the Wii-mote like a jump rope and make small circles with it. With "tire drills", you put your Wii-mote in your pocket and the system registers the vibrations as you run in place rapidly. There are a number of exercises which use the balance board such as the "plank" (where you press both hands against the balance board) and the "T-raise" (where one hand is on the balance board and the other is stretched out). Some exercises will be very familiar (jumping jacks, push ups), but even the ones that aren't familiar are very intuitive once you watch the on-screen character doing them.

You can do each of the exercises a la carte, but more likely you'll want to choose "Exercise Routines", which combine multiple single exercises into comprehensive pre-designed programs. You can also create custom routines.

You can also choose the full "Fitness Program". You enter your vital information (conveniently, you can use your Balance Board to measure your weight, both your initial weight and in your very own "weigh ins"). Then, you pick your favorite real-life Biggest Loser contestant to play as from a list of eight past contestants. You can pick whether you want Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels as "your trainer". From there, you can pick a personal goal: whether you want to simply maintain your current weight and improve your health, lose a little weight, or lose a lot of weight. You'll also pick a skill level and a program length.

Based on what you enter, the system will calculate a specific exercise regimen for you, complete with dates. If you're really committed, you can also input the number of calories you eat every day, as well as log any additional training you do outside of the program (such as walking, running or biking outside), and the program will adjust itself accordingly.

An interesting part of this title is a menu option called "Health and Lifestyle". Here, you'll find a large number of recipes straight out of The Biggest Loser Cookbooks. Under this menu option you'll also find a large number of "quick tips" from past Biggest Loser participants, including short video clips from Bob and Jillian themselves. Finally, there's an extremely useful feature called the "Calorie Counter", which calculates the daily calorie intake recommend specifically for you based on your weight, age, and goals.

The most interesting part of The Biggest Loser for Wii are what they call "Challenge Events". Here, your on-screen character will compete in a number of interesting events, the types of which you'd see on the show. As on the show, you start out competing with 7 personalities from the show, and after each round one is eliminated. You don't actually simulate the movements of the character on screen, but instead you perform "single exercises", and your character does his task only if you do the exercises precisely and timed correctly. I found this by far the most effective part of the game, because my instincts to compete far exceeded any resistance to exercise.

There are a couple minor annoyances. If your balance board power goes out, the game is completely hung up until you turn it back on. The controllers are passive, meaning that instead of actively tracking your movements accurately, it'll just check whether you come close to making the on-screen movements. Sometimes the controllers will not register properly, and in many cases, you're on the "honor system" as to how closely you follow the on-screen examples (even if you get a little sloppy in your form or don't do the exercise properly, Bob or Jillian may continue to shout out praise and encouragement). One thing to keep in mind is that you need a LOT of room to move around. And I admit I was a little disappointed that most of the activities didn't take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Wii and its controllers in the same innovative ways that Wii Fit Plus does--at the end of the day it's really not much more than a glorified exercise video.

But still the bottom line is, they have an impressive number of fundamental exercises to work out all different areas of your body. When I choose "intense" level in particular, it really does make my heart pound and gives me a great workout that rivaled any kind of workout I'd get at the gym, for a fraction of the price. And fans of the TV show will appreciate the details like the voice talent, the familiar settings, Bob and Jillian's coaching, and the recipes and tips.

Bottom line, if you're looking for something along the lines of a more traditional exercise video, or you're a die-hard fan of the show, you won't be disappointed. If you're looking for something that's a game first and exercise second, try something else like Wii Fit Plus or Dance Dance Revolution.

2. Positives -
1) If you like the show it's fun to play along with the trainers.
2) You get to choose the length of time you want your "challenge" to last
3) There is a menu where you can choose if you want to do the program (a guided series of exercises, a calendar, a weight graph, diet suggestions, a weekly challenge and weigh in) or you can choose individual types of exercises. (Yoga, upper body, full body, lower body)
4) There is a place where you can kind-of make up your own series of exercises. Although I like this, it is also a negative because once you pick out a series of exercises and start your "routine" there is a lot of dead time between the different ones you picked; time where your just standing there waiting for it to load the next one you pick.
5) You can choose to use your fit board or not.
6) I really like the weekly weigh in and challenges.
7) It has a nice calendar feature so you can change your scheduled training.

Negatives - I'm disappointed because they could have done a much better job, some of this stuff is really obvious and it seems like they were kind of lazy with the game. The game is not very personalized, at all.
1) On the game you do not have a personal character, or even a mini, instead you pick a former biggest loser contestant.., and there is not very many to pick from. You don't even get to use your own name.
2) One of my biggest complaints.., there are a lot of floor exercises where you are looking at the ground and the trainer changes exercises on the screen, with no warning.., no count down or anything, so you're constantly trying to look up.., it interrupts the exercise as you have to change positions just to see what he is doing.
3) It often tells you to put the remote "in your pocket". a) Most of my work out clothes don't have pockets. b) When it's in your pocket it doesn't read your movements very well and just tonight I lost in a "challenge" because the wii was not reading my movements while I worked my butt off.
4) Last week I lost 2 lb.s.., it put me below the yellow line and my player looked all disappointed. I thought "hey, 2 lb.s at home is good.," but that was not a big deal.. but then.., At this week's challenge I gained 2 lb.s (what can I say, it was Thanksgiving week).., so my contestant should have looked all disappointed and it should have showed negative weight loss. But instead it showed my player "Michelle" as having an 8 lb loss and my contestant was the 1st place player.
5) Overall the game is not personal enough, it often feels like your watching a workout video and not like your playing a game.
6) When you are in a routine it has a little clock thing that spins as you continue the individual exercise so you know how long you've got left for that exercise (that's good)., but it doesn't have any sort of timer so you know how far along you've progressed in that training routine. Am I half way done? Only 25%? Who knows. It's annoying.
7) The graphics are boring, boring, boring. You are in the gym or by the pool. (Unless something more happens at a different level, but I've been doing this for a few weeks and the graphics are boing).
8) The exercises are very repetitive.., I was so surprised there is no step routine, no crunches.., a lot of basics that could have been added. You get tired of doing the same things.., plank on knees, plank, jumping jacks, boxing, low step.., boring. The program mixes up the different exercises but it's just the same ones in different sequences.
9) Where's the good music? Just the same boring background tune over and over..,
10) Bob and/or Jillian say the same few phrases over and over.., again.., boring!

Honestly, The Wii fit has way more interesting stuff to do and look at.

I've been doing it for a few weeks and I am glad I bought it because I do it almost daily.., but mostly because I love the show and it's fun to play along on this version. However, they were really lazy with this game and it could have been done much better. I am already getting tired of it and I've been playing on my Wii fit to warm up and on the days there is no "scheduled training" The only reason I gave it 3 stars is because it's fun to play with the game. I think after my current 4 week challeng is over I'm going to only log on for the weekly challenges and weigh ins. I'm very disappointed at what they did with this.., they've done a few other training games with Jillian that I know of and I'm sure they got enough feedback to make a better game.., this game feels rushed or like they were very lazy with it.

See more reviews on Amazon.com

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weight Loss Tips: Obesogens

You may have heard of a new buzz word in the weight loss community which is getting a lot of attention – obesogens. What are obesogens and how can we prevent ourselves from being exposed to these nasty chemicals which are causing us to be fat?

It can be quite discouraging when you are training your ass off and eating right and yet still seem to not affect any weight loss from your trouble spots.

Therefore in this article we’ll dive into 4 of the most common obesogens and expose their sources so we can stay far away and start to see better results from our healthy diets.

Definition of Obesogens
Without getting into the crazy details of obesogens, think of them as harmful chemical compounds which disrupt our hormonal balanace and negatively affect the way we store fat.

The main way these compounds really mess around with our fat storage is by disrupting our energy balance by disrupting the natural function of our endocrine system (which is responsible for metabolism).
The 4 Obesogens discussed in this article are BPA’s, PFOA’s, PVC’s and Phthalates…ok so where are these chemicals found?

Weight Loss Tips: Obesogen #1
You may remember me mentioning BPA’s and their harmful effects in my article “What is BPA?“, but let’s look at a quick summary.

BPA’s around mostly found in plastic containers and the shiny lining you see in most cans. The problem with these chemicals is that they have direct exposure with the foods and drinks we consume so over time you can only imagine how much of them get stuck in our digestive tract and wreak havoc.

Look for containers which have the number 7 recycling code on the bottom which indicates that they are BPA free, and remember to never heat any kind of plastic in microwaves as this is when they seep out into our food the most.

Weight Loss Tips: Obesogen #2
You are probably wondering what the heck PFOA’s are? Well they are a synthetic compound which has been found to be toxic and cancer causing in animals. The ridiculous thing is that corporations have kept research on these chemicals from being exposed to the public and have therefore deemed them as being insignificant to humans. Seriously?

Were are PFOA’s found? They have been detected in industrial waste, stain resistant carpets, carpet cleaning liquids, microwave popcorn bags and unfortunately the water we drink and the air we breathe. Pretty scary stuff if you ask me and only public awareness can ever bring any light to this matter.

There are class action lawsuits against corporations who use PFOA’s such as DuPont since their chemical plant leaked PFOA’s to the surrounding community and the people have complained of major health problems.

PFOA’s are also related to the chemical we find in non-stick cookware known as PTFE’s. There are numerous long term studies being conducted on the harm these chemicals cause to our endocrine and hormone system and I’m sure you know what the results are going to show.

Weight Loss Tips: Obesogen #3
PVC’s are found in heavy duty plastics including plastic wrap that you buy your meat in. Luckily PVC’s aren’t found in the plastic wrap we buy in the grocery store but the durable ones used for wrapping meat are unfortunately found to have been identified as  an endocrine disruptor as well as possible carcinogens.
The solution? Try and get your meat wrapped in paper that meat deli’s often use.

Weight Loss Tips: Obesogen #4
If you use products like Febreeze or air freshners then you have definitely come across the chemical Phthalate. The problem with these guys is that we breathe them in and since they contain volatile organic compounds they are of major concern with anyone who has breathing problems or is prone to headaches/migraines and sinus infections.

That in itself should be enough reason to stay away but scientists are now warning that the level of accumulation that we are now seeing in humans is much higher than previously thought of and there is new concern of their accumulation affecting our hormones and possessing a threat as carcinogens.
One other issue is that they are usually disguised in the labeling of packages since they are listed as “fragrance”. Instead of these artificial chemical sensory overloads try essential oil candles and diffusers

Weight Loss Tips: Obesogens

It’s already a good challenge trying to manage healthy eating and training on a daily basis but to have these chemicals accumulate and cause us further distress with our weight loss efforts can definitely create a lot of frustration.

Hopefully with the knowledge of this information we can influence corporations through our buying power and we can prevent long term health complications for us and our families.
resource: http://weightlossandtraining.com/weight-loss-tips-obesogens?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_c