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Fitness Apps to Get Your Child Moving!

By Elizabeth Engasser

Disclaimer: Before having your child begin any exercise, please check with your child’s pediatrician or your primary care physician to ensure you’re choosing a safe and effective exercise routine.

In an age of smartphones and tablets, encouraging people to get moving and exercise can be a challenging task – even when it comes to our children.
Marc Major had this same thought when he created his app, Treasure Dash. “If your kids ar like most, they enjoy upbeat, colorful games on the iPhone or iPad , but all hat sitting around isn’t always good,” his game’s description reads on the Apple App Store.

Major isn’t wrong – according to the President’s Council of Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, only one in three children are physically active every day, and children nowadays spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen, whether it’s a TV, computer or a smartphone/tablet.

Wanting to create a way for kids to have fun and stay active, Major launched Treasure Dash and quickly saw the impact it could make on a child’s willingness to exercise. “I have footage of a friend’s son, he’s 10 years old, playing on a mini trampoline,” Major said. “He’s not motivated to do it by himself, but with this game, it becomes a whole new kind of fun exercise that he loves to do.”
Want to help your kid stay healthy, in spite of all the screen time? Check out these smartphone apps and games that encourage exercise, nutritional awareness and more:

Treasure Dash – Race for Lost Wonders
Developer : Cardiograming, LLC
Cost: Free
Platforms Available: iOS

This game is played by standing up and jumping in place to get your character to move, who will move around in the game as you move! By tapping the buttons on the screen, you can jump, attack and collect coins, jewels and fruit (the fruit gives you power ups!) While moving around at a quick pace can be exciting, take note: monsters can come out and attack you from any direction, so being alert is key! Future developments to this game may include a multiplayer setting, so your children will all be able to play together for extra fun.

7 Minute Workouts with Lazy Monster
Developer: Ihar Sviryd
Cost: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)
Platforms Available: iOS

The Center of Disease Control & Prevention recommends children get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, and this app makes it easy for you to not only keep track of this, but to exercise right alongside your children! In “LazyMonster,”” a little orange monster leads various workouts that don’t require any exercise equipment and can be completed in 30-second intervals- totaling up to 7 minutes of exercise by the end of each session. To keep kids coming back, the game has a built in rewards system that provides experience points and unlocks even more workouts.

Eat & Move-O-Matic
Company: Learning Games Lab, New Mexico State University
Cost: Free
Platforms Available: iOS

This app is an informative way for children to learn how many calories are in the foods they eat, and how long they’ll have to exercise to burn them off. Most of the foods are generic, such as sandwiches, and juices, but by rotating the activity wheel, your kids can be inspired to try out various activities, such as soccer, dancing and household chores.

NFL Play 60
Company: American Heart Association
Cost: Free
Platforms Available: iOS, Android

The game gets your children up and moving in place to outrun a coach following you in this endless running game. Collect coins to earn points, and along the way grab football power-ups and hearts for extra lives. As your child progresses through the game, they can unlock new characters, more power-ups and check out fitness tips for how to stay active outside of the game.

Company: Digido Interactive, Inc.
Cost: Free
Platforms Available: iOS

Have your kids get up and move while hunting for buried treasure! This app has a treasure hunting character that the player controls through walking (we tried it walking up and down the hallways of our office). Arrows on each side of the screen allow the player to rotate the direction that the character is moving so they can navigate to the buried treasure. At the completion of each maze, a new one is unlocked to keep the adventure going.

Yaye – Fitness Motivation and Chat for Small Groups
Company: YAYE, LLC
Cost: Free
Platform Available: iOS

This one is great for adults too!!!

A support system is vital for sticking with your fitness goals, and this app from creator Mike Salvaris helps you stay in touch with your team – even from great distances.

“Yaye” is an app that helps you connect with others to stick together while achieving like-minded exercise goals such as frequency of exercise, daily steps and overall weekly activity. This application ties in well with the iPhone’s health kit settings and provides opportunities for users to connect with others on their journey to better health.

Salvaris, who says the app has been used by support groups, grandparents with their grandkids and even members of various organizations (including the Obesity Action Coalition!) explanted that the overall mission of this app is simple: to motivate people to move at the support of their friends and family.
“It’s not just (an app) where you get on it and someone’s yelling at you to do something,” Salvaris said. “Instead of just hassling someone (to exercise), you’re actually doing something together, and I think that’s the thing that’s really resonating with people.”


By thinking outside the box, technology will continue to progress and there will be even more apps released that encourage movement and get kids and adults alike active. Setting a good example and exercising alongside your children is a great way to keep the momentum going, and keeping them motivated to get up and move!

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The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

The Link Between Obesity and Cancer
By Taraneh Soleymani, MD

According to the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survery, 68.5 percent of adults in the United States has excess weight (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-29.9 kg/m2), 34.9 percent were affected by obesity (BMI 30-39.9 kg/m2( and 6.4 percent had sever obesity (BMI> 40kg/m2). Obesity is a condition associated with having excess body fat, defined by genetic and environmental factors that are difficult to control when dieting.

It is important to keep in mind that the ability to store excess calories as fat was once a useful adaptation so our ancestors could survive times when it was hard to find food. Now, however, we live in an environment where high calorie foods are readily available, so we no longer face long periods without eating. Instead, we face the risk of excess calories and fat storage.

Traditionally, adipose (fat) tissue was thought to be a place where fat was stored as fat cells (known as adipocytes). However, during the past decades we have learned that this tissue is an active thyroid gland, playing an important role in metabolism and the body’s endocrine system, which helps regulate hunger. It’s a connective tissue made up of different types of cells: fat cells, blood vessels and immune cells, among others.

When someone is affected by obesity, the tissue undergoes physiological changes causing it to not function normally. This dysfunction plays an important role in cancer development and its progression.

There are many causes of cancer, such as genetics, lifestyle, infection, radiation, chemicals and other environmental exposures. Some of these factors are under our control and can be changed. According to the National Cancer Institute, after not smoking, keeping one’s self at a healthy weight is the most important thing an individual can do to reduce their cancer risk.

The American Institute for Cancer research (AICR) reports that 38 percent of breast cancers, 50 percent of colon and rectal cancers, 69 percent of throat cancers, 24 percent of kidney cancers and 19 percent of pancreatic cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, balanced diet and by increasing physical activity.

To educate the public on lifestyle changes that could decrease cancer risk, the AICR and World Cancer Research Fund have collaborated to publish a report titled: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. In this report, an expert panel of renowned scientists reviewed thousands of scientific studies and developed 10 recommendations for cancer prevention:

1. Maintain a healthy weight and waist circumference
Aim for a healthy BMI between 18.5-25 kg/m2. The location where excess fat is stored in the body can influence cancer risk. Excess fat around the midsection, or “belly-fat,” increases the risk of certain cancers, such as colon, pancreas, uterus and post-menopausal breast cancer. It will also increase the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Waist circumference should not go about 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men.

2. Increase physical activity
We live in an environment where it has been made easy to follow a lifestyle with less movement: watching television, working on a computer, driving to work, etc. Physical inactivity has multiple harmful effects. It increases the risk of colon and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cognitive decline. Any amount of physical activity is better than none, so start slow and build to a goal of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (any exercise that increases your heart rate and makes you breath harder) every day. Physical activity also helps you maintain a healthy weight.

3. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and limit high calorie foods
Juice with added sugar, soda and sweet tea are examples of sugar-sweetened beverages. They are easy to drink and make it easy to increase our total daily calorie intake. They have minimal to no nutritional value, high carbohydrate content and do not make us feel full. A healthy alternative is water or zero-calorie drinks like unsweetened tea.
Monitoring the calorie content of the food we eat can help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight. A calorie dense food has a high calorie content in every bite. These food items are generally processed and have more fat or refined carbohydrates and are low in fiber and water (i.e. French fries, pizza, cinnamon rolls).

4. Eat a plant based diet
Eating a plant-based diet that includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes has several benefits. This diet has a higher content of fiber that is healthy for the intestines and improves the ability to digest foods you eat. Fiber helps with weight management. A plant-based diet also provides vitamins and minerals in their natural form that are necessary for normal body functions, and the antioxidants (molecules that help delay and prevent cell damage) percent in fruits and vegetables help protect the body cells from cancer-causing substances. The goal is to fill two-thirds of the plate with plant-based food items as often as possible.

5. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat as much as possible
There is a strong link between red meat (i.e. beef, lamb, pork) and colon and rectal cancers. The heme iron, which gives red meat its color, can damage the cells lining the colon. Eating up to 18 oz. of red meat per week is safe. However for every 1.7 oz above this limit, the risk of cancer will increase by 15 percent. Eighteen ounces of meat is a little more than one pound of meat you can eat safely per week, and meat is typically recommended to be served in a three ounce portion – about the size of a deck of playing cards.

6. Limit alcohol consumption
Studies have shown that alcohol can increase the risk of several cancers, such as mouth, throat, vocal chord, breast cancer and colon or rectal cancer in men. It is recommended that alcohol be limited to one drink for women and two drinks for men per day.

How much is one drink?
• 12 oz. of beer (1 regular sized can) (5 percent alcohol content)
• 5 oz of wine (about ¼ of a large glass and ½ of a smaller glass) (12 percent alcohol content)
• 1/5 oz. (1 shot glass) of 80-proof liquor such as vodka (40 percent alcohol content)
Both the American Heart Association an AICR do not recommend individuals who do not drink alcohol to start drinking. Limiting alcohol intake can also help with weight management.

7. Limit salt consumption
High salt consumption has been associated with increased risk for stomach and throat cancer as it can damage their lining. Processed meat has a high content of salt, especially when it is salt-cured or salt-pickled. Other processed food such as cereal, pizza, chips, canned soups, frozen meals and flavored noodles can increase salt intake above the recommended 2400 mg per day (about 1 teaspoon).

How much salt is enough?
Dietary Guidelines for Americans for a Healthier Life 2010:
• Reduce intake to less than 2300 mg per day
• Further reduce intake to 1500 mg per day for
o Adults ages 51+
o African Americans ages 2+
o People ages 2+ with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease

8. Avoid using supplements in place of natural nutrients
Supplements should not be used to protect against cancer. It is best to get the nutrients we need from our diet in their natural form. Also it is important to keep in mind that very high doses of vitamin and mineral supplements has been associated with increased cancer risk. Supplements are recommended for the following groups: women, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old, seniors and bariatric patients.

9. Breast-feeding can help new mothers
It is recommended that mothers breast-feed exclusively for 6 months and then add other liquid and food to their baby’s diet. Breast-feeding is good for the mother and the baby. It protects the mother against breast cancer by reducing the caner producing hormones in the body, and it protects the child from becoming affected by excess weight or obesity.

10. Cancer survivors should follow all guidelines
AICR recommends that cancer patients follow the nine cancer prevention strategies stated in this article.
Our overall cancer risk is affected by our lifestyle over the span of our life. It is never too early or late to start cancer prevention, and most importantly, making small every day changes that are sustainable today can help lower the cancer risk throughout our lifetime.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reports that only half of all Americans are aware of the link between obesity and cancer. An estimated 121,700 new cancer cases each year are related to excess weight, and 15-20 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to excess weight.

The types of cancer most commonly associated with obesity are:
• Post-menopausal breast cancer
• Colorectal (colon) cancer
• Esophageal (throat) cancer
• Endometrial (uterus) cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Pancreatic cancer

Obesity can also increase the risk for the following cancers:
• Liver cancer
• Advanced prostate cancer
• Gallbladder cancer
• Ovarian cancer
• Stomach cancer
• Non-hodgkid lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes)
• Multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells)
• Cervical cancer

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What is Mindful Eating?

By Cassie I. Story, RD

It wasn’t until the cat nudged my leg that I realized my plate was empty. I had been in a trance of sorts. I was watching while uploading a picture of my breakfast to Instagram, mindlessly devouring my plate of eggs.

Did I really just finish my meal without tasting one morsel?

Later that day, lunch was catered for a work meeting. Wilted, sad-looking lettuce, bowls of unidentifiable dressings, and what I only can assume was chicken disguised as cold, slimy cubes. Normally, I would have been prepared and brought food with me. However, the cat’s hair had stuck to my pants that morning like a magnet and took longer than normal to remove.

I reluctantly piled the flavorless food onto my plate and stat down. Hanger (hunger induced anger) had set in about an hour beforehand, so I didn’t have much choice. My manager began talking as I feverishly shoveled cold, flavorless food into my mouth. Within a few minutes the meal was over.

Did I really just eat that?

The only evidence I had that I actually ingested lunch was the glob of mystery dressing that accidentally fell onto my lap. Clearly, it wasn’t my day to be wearing pants!

As I got my daughters ready for bed that evening, a strange question came in mind. “Did I eat dinner?” Let me think. We went to soccer practice, then piano lessons, then came home… Oh yes! I had a handful of pistachios as I was rushing the girls off to take a bath and complete homework. Luckily, my pants did not endure any additional tragedies that day – except for the fact that they were starting to become difficult to button.

After the girls when to sleep and I began my normal adult duties – you know, laundry, dishes, and paying bills – I began to think about my tight-fitting pants. It is the first of the year, so it’s understandable that they are a little snug. Should I create a meal plan for myself? How about those nifty little “weekly meal prep” ideas I’d been seeing all the CrossFit people post about on Pinterest? Maybe I should do a cleanse?

As I was contemplating various strategies to help loosen said pants, I checked my email for the 203rd time that day (as I was nibbling on more pistachios). I came across an article titled “Mindful Eating: The Missing Piece to Your Health Goals.” One click later and I was transported back in time.

Once upon a time (before I had children), I used to enjoy eating. I would look down at my plate and taste with my eyes and nose before the food reached my mouth. I would set the table with fine linens, light a lavender-scented candle, put on soft, classical music and be completely present in the moment. Okay, okay – maybe I wasn’t that into enjoying my food, but I had definitely lit candles in the past during dinner, and I’d probably listened to soft music at some point in life.
I read the article with sustained curiosity. Could mindful eating really be the missing link to my waistline woes? I made a decision right then and there; during the next few weeks, I decided to conduct a small study, and by small, I mean a study of one – myself. I was going to dedicate my eating events to being mindful, to honor what I as hungry for and to savoring my food. It was time to shift my focus from what I was eating, to how I was eating.

What is Mindful Eating?

Principals of mindfulness:

• Deliberately paying attention to the present moment
• Being aware of your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations without judgment
• Paying attention to internal and external cues in the moment they are occurring
Mindful eating is:
• Eating food in a way that promotes respect to your body
• Being in the moment while eating, and acknowledging your personal likes and dislikes
• Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety (fullness) cues to guide your eating choices
• Without judgment, selecting food that is satisfying to you and nourishing to your body
A person who eats mindfully:
• Savors each eating experience
• Is aware of how certain foods feel in their body and makes food choices that support their health and well-being
• Practices mindfulness to promote balance and acceptance of themselves as they are today
While I was preparing for my small study of one, I consulted my favorite scientific source, Google. Where was I going to start? Based on the various articles that I read regarding “mindful eating,” I kept seeing a few common strategies listed:
• Take five deep breaths prior to each meal
• Sit down while eating
• Place your food on an attractive plate or bowl
• Eat slowly and taste each bite
• Take small bites
• Honor your hunger cues, and do not fear hunger
• Pay attention to satiety cues
• Once you begin to feel satisfied, stop eating
• Eat without distraction
• Carry foods with you that you like and that support your health, in the event that you become hungry when you are out
• Sip warm tea or water prior to a meal to calm your body
Preparing for Mindful Eating
Before I started my new mindful eating adventure, I needed to go shopping. Not for new pants, but for food. If mindful eating was going to work, I needed to have my food environment stocked with foods that I enjoyed. I purposefully came to the store without a list. I wanted to focus on purchasing what looked good, instead of focusing on what I “could” or “couldn’t” have.
First stop, the produce section. The blueberries were mushy. The carrots lacked color. I was sick of apples. Then suddenly, I looked to my left and spotted this gorgeous emerald broccoli, glistening under florescent lights from the shower it just received. Yum! To the right, I noticed ruby red strawberries; I picked them up and used the smell test. Divine. Those would be delicious for breakfast.
As I continued to push my increasingly full cart around the store, I felt empowered. The foods I was choosing were not based on some latest diet craze. They were foods that I liked and made my body feel good. Then I came to the grain aisle and had to pause. I was faced with my first real dilemma. For years I’d been buying brown rice. Recently, I started to purchase quinoa, but you know what? I don’t really like quinoa. I know the deal, it’s a ‘superfood’ packed full of fiber, protein and B vitamins, but I just don’t like it.
If I was going to honor the rules of mindful eating, which included eating things I liked, what should I do in the situation? Then something caught my eye, something that hadn’t touched my shopping cart in over a decade – white rice. I remember white rice: sticky, slightly sweet and perfect with beef and broccoli. Could I, in good dietitian conscience, buy this?
I surveyed my cart. It was filled primarily with whole foods that I love. I guess adding white rice to it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Putting it into Practice

That evening for dinner, I dimmed the lights in the kitchen, and turned off the TV. I sat down at the table and took five deep cleansing breaths. Then I looked down at my plate. Spicy stir fried beef with perfectly steamed broccoli sat on top of a small pile of mouth-wateringly sticky white rice. I took a few moments staring at my plate. No judgment, simply admiring this beautiful meal that I created. The first bite was divine. Soft and fluffy, I’d forgotten how much I loved white rice. I savored each and every bite.

My daughters looked at me like I’d gone crazy. Why was their mother making audible pleasure noises while eating? I didn’t care. I was reconnecting with something that had long been missing, eating not only for nourishment but also enjoyment. As I continued this tuned-in practice, I noticed after about 10 minutes that I was no longer hungry, and starting to feel a bit full. Not “Thanksgiving let me change into my sweatpants full,” but full-ish. I decided to stop eating and talk to the girls about various things that were going on in their lives. Which boy did my eight year old like this week? And was my six year old excited about her upcoming field trip to the science museum?

After a few minutes of talking, I looked back down at my plate. There was still some food on it, but it didn’t look as appealing as it had 15 minutes ago. Another mindful eating rule popped in my head: Stop eating when you are satisfied. Lately, I stopped eating when my plate was empty. I was at a mental crossroads. Do I keep eating or let the meal be over?

I stood up and took my plate to the kitchen, and came back to the table with my daughters while they finished their dinner. It was at that time that I noticed something – my daughters seemed to naturally eat mindfully. They ate when they were hungry. They stopped eating when they were satisfied and despite all my parenting efforts, they never ate quinoa. They were painstakingly slow eaters, and when they ate, they weren’t focused on all of the tasks that still had to complete that day, or what their friend was posting about on Facebook, or if their boss had emailed them. They just ate.


Throughout the next several weeks, I continued to focus on one mindful eating strategy at a time. I was not perfect, but that’s okay. I found that some ideas worked very well for me, like taking a few deep breaths before eating, and sitting down to eat. While others weren’t my favorite, like eating without distraction and placing my food on a pretty plate (not sure that placing a protein bar on a plate would really work for anyone).
I was slowly beginning to change my eating habits. I found that being present in the moment with eating allowed me to eat less, and enjoy my food more. And you know what else happened? My pants avoided further food-related causalities – the cat, however, just got shaved.
“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” – Mark Twain
Additional Resources about Mindful Eating:
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – A guide to healthy eating based on your personal food needs and your psychological relationship with food.
Am I Hungry? By Michelle May, MD – Helping people break the never ending diet cycle. Visit for free resources.
Eat, Drink, and be Mindful: How to End Your Struggle with Mindless Eating and Start Savoring Food with Intention and Joy – by Susan Albers, PsyD – A collection of more than 70 worksheets that the author uses with her clients to increase mindful eating.

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Understanding Protein Powders

Suppose you went to the grocery store and asked for ground beef. The butcher gives you a package and says it’s a great buy at their new special pricing. Great deal right?

Only when you get home you find that the ground beef is only 25% meat and the rest is fat. Not much of bargain, right?

So how do you know when you purchase protein powder what you’re getting?

Let’s take a look at Whey Protein.

Not all Whey Protein is created equal. When you purchase whey protein you are either getting one of three forms. Whey is broken down into three main catagoies—whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein isolate (WPI), or whey protein hydrolysate (WPH).

Whey Protein Isolate contains almost all protein – usually at least 90% protein. Containing the highest percentage of pure protein it is pure enough to be virtually lactose free, carbohydrate free, fat free, and cholesterol free.

Whey Protein Concentrate is protein, lactose, and minerals. These ingredients can vary from 25% to 90%. The FDA only requires that Whey Protein Concentrate be a minimum of 25% protein. So, when it’s 25% protein, what’s the rest? It could be 60% lactose. When you get less protein, you get more lactose. So, what is lactose? We’ll talk about that in a moment.

Whey protein hydrolysate is the “predigested” form of whey protein—which has already undergone partial hydrolysis – a process necessary for the body to absorb protein. This form doesn’t require as much digestion as the other two forms of whey protein. In addition, it is commonly used in medical protein supplements and infant formulas because of it’s improved digestibility and reduced allergen potential.

So what is lactose? Lactose is milk sugar. Lactose sugars can cause problems for weight loss surgery patients. Lactose sugars can cause “dumping” and rob you of much needed protein we need for healing, overall health, weight loss and satiety. Not getting enough protein robs us of our health and undermines our hard-earned weight loss efforts.

Even though concentrate may be less money, they may not be our best option in the long run! You’re in charge of your health—which is the best option for you? Choose wisely. You have many moremiles to go!


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