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Mar 282017
 

Today is a very big day for me – it’s American Diabetes Association Alert Day! Also known as just “Alert Day,” which is what I call it.

As you all know, I work for the American Diabetes Association doing PR/strategic communications, and for the last four or five months, I’ve been working really hard to make sure Alert Day is a success. Not only is it my job to promote Alert Day, but it’s also something I care about personally.

An estimated 86 million American adults are at risk for type 2 diabetes, which comes out to about one in three people. One in three! Think of your two best friends. Chances are that between the three of you, one of you is at risk for type 2 diabetes. Isn’t that crazy? Want to know what’s even crazier? 90% of people most at risk don’t even know it. Ah!

Diabetes is such a miserable disease – the more I read about it, the more I sympathize with anyone who has it – and when it comes to type 2 diabetes, it’s almost always preventable (or able to be delayed) through healthy lifestyle changes.

Through my job I’ve talked to lots of people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes and just don’t do anything about it. They know they’re overweight, they know they don’t eat well, and they know they need to exercise more. Some people even know that because of their ethnicity or family history, they’re even more at risk, but they still do nothing about it.

(FYI – African Americans and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely as their white counterparts to have diabetes, and 30% of diabetes in these groups is undiagnosed. Also, Asian Americans are more likely to have diabetes even at a lower BMI than the rest of the general public. This means an Asian American might look like they’re at a healthy weight, but could still be at an increased risk for diabetes.)

Alert Day is our opportunity to reach out to these people and tell them to WAKE UP! Take control of your health!

If this is something you care about, here’s what you can do. Take and share the online Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test at diabetes.org/risktest. It only takes a minute and asks questions like “Are you physically active,” and “Do you have a family history of diabetes.” In just 60 seconds, you can learn if you’re at risk and what steps you can take to lower your risk and get healthy.

Now I’m assuming many of you CET readers are something like me: you’re young(ish), you eat (mostly) healthy foods, and you exercise (somewhat) regularly. But I also bet you know someone who doesn’t do those things.

For me, it’s the men in my life that I worry about. I want my dad, stepdad, future father-in-law, and grandfather to take care of their health. Heck, even Fabio could do a better job at managing his health. Why don’t men like going to the doctor or thinking about their health?! It’s maddening, I tell ‘ya. But, at least with this quick and easy online test, they can learn if they’re at risk for type 2 diabetes and (hopefully) get inspired to visit a doctor if they’re at high risk. That’s all I want, anyway.

So, please take a minute today to take the test yourself, and/or share it with a loved one. It will obviously help me with my work if I can get more people to take the test, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about educating as many people as possible that they could be at risk for this miserable disease.

Remember, one person in three is at risk!

Question of the day: Did you take the test? Did you share it?

If you did, imagine me giving you a gigantic, virtual hug!

 Posted by on March 28, 2017
Apr 222016
 

Hi friends! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the recaps of what I learned at the nutrition conference last week! If you missed my first recap, find that here. It was a really fascinating meeting, and I’m so thankful that my job allowed me to go and learn so much! Here’s my final recap of what I learned. 🙂

On Resistance Training and Macros

This was my favorite session of the whole meeting! In this presentation, a doctor and a registered dietician from George Washington University (right in DC!) gave an overview of their weight loss center that focuses on a combination of strength/resistance training and nutrition plans that focus on macros.

First, the duo talked about their recommended exercise program, which focuses solely on weight training. They explained that during a cardio session, you will burn more calories while you are exercising, but then your body recovers and pretty much goes back to normal as soon as you’re done. When you do strength training or resistance training (basically, anything with weights) your body might burn fewer calories at first, but will continue burning them throughout the rest of the day.

Strength training will also raise your metabolic rate more than cardio will, so you’ll be able to lose more weight over time and eat more than you would if you were just doing cardio.

They also stressed the importance of pushing yourself to lift heavy weights – while being safe of course – and to always try to improve and lift more than you did last time. It takes a lot of energy for your body to repair your muscles after strength training, and that’s what burns those calories! I loved this discussion and thought it made a lot of sense.

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[Source and Source]

Next they talked about nutrition, and how adjusting your macros to meet your specific needs can help shed excess fat. In their program, they analyze each participant with a fancy machine that shows exactly how much fat is in their body, and then they prescribe target macros depending on your body’s particular makeup.

For example, they explained that most participants are supposed to aim for somewhere around 20% daily calories from fat, 45% daily calories from protein, 35% daily calories from carbs. Each participant gets custom targets based on their individual needs. They then work with you to determine how many grams of each food type you should be eating each day to meet these targets, and encourage you to carefully track your meals.

The biggest thing they stressed is that most people don’t consume enough protein. They said that eating more protein each day can reduce your percentage of body fat even if you don’t change anything else in your fitness routine or diet. Wow!

I thought everything they said was so interesting, and am definitely going to be picking up heavier weights and eating more protein from now on.

On Portion Size

We’ve all heard the advice to use smaller plates to eat less, right? But does that advice actually work? One of the presentations at the meeting was about portion sizes and whether using smaller plates really does make a difference in the number of calories you consume. The researcher giving the presentation has examined lots of existing data and completed a few studies herself, and she found that sadly, that advice doesn’t make much of a difference.

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[Source]

First, she explained that people are likely going to eat almost all of the food that is put on their plate. So, if someone is given a big plate with a lot of food vs. a smaller plate with less food then yes, that should make a difference in how much someone eats. However, if you are at a buffet or in a setting where you are serving yourself, choosing a smaller plate doesn’t make much of a difference in the number of calories you consume. Womp womp.

She conducted one study with men and women at a buffet, where one group was given small plates and the other group was given big plates. What she found was that people with the small plates went back to the buffet over and over again, and wound up filling their plates multiple times and eating just as much as the group that had big plates (BTW – the men also consumed way more than the women!).

She also conducted another study where she analyzed what was going on the plates, and she found that with smaller plates, vegetables were the first thing to go. I guess they’d rather use that valuable real estate for the mac ‘n’ cheese and other goodies! (I mean…really who can blame them? 😉 haha)

In her opinion, the most effective way to manage portion sizes and eat less is to focus on filling at least half your plate with vegetables (not something calorie-dense like sweet potatoes) and then use the other half of your plate for the rest of the food. Sadly, she doesn’t think the size of the plate matters much.

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[Source]

Good to know!

Anyway, those are the most interesting sessions from the meeting in my opinion! There were a few others that I enjoyed hearing about – including how effective apps and fitness trackers are for losing weight – but I didn’t think they were interesting enough to write a whole blurb on them here. I’m happy to talk about them in a different post though; just let me know if you want to hear about it!

Question of the day: Cardio or strength training?

 Posted by on April 22, 2016
Apr 192016
 

As I mentioned, I attended the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Weight Management Symposium this past weekend, and I learned so many things about diet and nutrition when it comes to weight loss. I’ve decided to break this recap into two parts since I learned a lot of interesting things and don’t want to lump it all into one super long post. Here we go!

USDA Dietary Guidelines

During the first presentation of the Symposium, a woman from the Committee that developed the new USDA Dietary Guidelines spoke about the guideline development process. In case you weren’t aware, the USDA issues a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, and the most recent version came out in 2015.

This speaker and the rest of her Committee was responsible for reviewing all the scientific evidence available about nutrition, and then making recommendations for the new dietary guidelines, at which point different government staffers actually did the writing.

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She explained that while there are a lot of different studies available to help them make their recommendations, there wasn’t always the perfectly designed study to answer whatever question they had. A lot of times the research was close, but they had to improvise a lot too. There were of course tons of rules and guidelines involved in the process as well, so it was a really big job that took a long time to complete.

In the end, here are the major takeaways from the new guidelines:

  • Eat a mostly healthy diet, most of the time
  • Limit sugar, saturated fat, and sodium intake
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  • Eat a variety of foods/nutrients within your daily calorie limit
  • Eat nutrient-dense food that you like
  • Support healthy eating patterns everywhere (at school, at home, while traveling, etc.)
  • Eat a variety of vegetables and whole fruits (limit items like apple juice, even when it’s natural and organic, since it’s high in sugar and has no fiber)
  • Consume fat free or low fat diary (milk, yogurt, cheese, soy)
  • Consume a variety of proteins (seafood, lean meats, legumes like beans and peas, nuts, soy)
  • Enjoy healthy fats in moderation (this is a new recommendation!)
  • Limit processed meats

She showed this nice comparison of how the recommendations have changed over the years, and said that even though we’ve recommended one thing for a long time, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question the evidence and change our minds to recommend something else as new data becomes available.

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The guidelines received criticism for a number of things, including that they were too vague (a lot of specific targets were eliminated due to a lack of scientific evidence proving them to be beneficial) and that they didn’t do a good enough job addressing controversial topics like low fat vs. high fat dairy products and processed meats leading to cancer. Many of the other sessions that I attended referenced the new guidelines, and pointed out that they are common sense and don’t offer advice specific enough to help people much. Then again, they are just guidelines and should be treated as such.

One thing I thought was really interesting was the topic of lobbying in relation to these new guidelines. A lot of criticizers said that food companies lobbied the government to change the guidelines in one way or another. This has always made sense to me, especially when I think about the old food pyramid that had grains on the bottom and was put together by the USDA, the government agency responsible for promoting agriculture for crying out loud. That was something that always bugged me, so I could see how this could be a relevant concern. While the speaker said that was untrue and that no company could have that much power, she did admit it’s a bit of a problem.

Specifically, she noted that her Committee recommended that people should eat a wide variety of vegetables that have rich interior color like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, kale, etc. After the government was finished typing up the guidelines, her Committee noticed that they had added a recommendation to eat “starchy vegetables,” which is not something the scientific evidence supported and her Committee did not recommend.

I thought this was a really interesting piece of information, and it definitely helped put everything into perspective for me. Sigh. Oh, government.

The Role of Circadian Rhythm in Diet

The researcher who gave the next presentation examined how your body’s circadian rhythm and internal clock affects the way you process food. This topic was completely new to me, and totally fascinating.

Circadian Rhythm and Food

[Source]

She explained that every cell in your body reacts to your internal clock or circadian rhythm, and that it winds up affecting a lot more about your body than you probably realize. She stressed the importance of your inner clock and explained that when you eat can make a big difference in your body composition.

She has examined a number of different eating strategies for losing weight including meal frequency, breakfast skipping, intermittent fasting, daily meal timing, time-restricted feeding, shifting food intake, and macronutrient timing. She found that the first two strategies have no affect on body weight, but there is some very interesting data out there about fasting and strategically timing meals.

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I think we’ve all heard the saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a price, and dinner like a pauper,” right? Basically the theory is to eat larger meals earlier in the day, and then eat less and less as the day goes on. She had some incredible research to back this saying up, and found that when two people ate the same meals and consumed the same number of calories but switched up the times that they ate them, the ones who ate more in the morning and less in the evening weighed significantly less and had less problems with diabetes, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, etc. Fascinating!

So what were the key takeaways from her session?

First, try not eat late at night, because once the sun goes down your body starts releasing melatonin to get you ready for sleep. Eat dinner before it gets dark out whenever possible.

Also, if you’re going to have one big, unhealthy/fatty meal during the day, try to eat it around breakfast time whenever possible as it gives your body the ability to break it down better. Those individuals who eat large meals late at night are more likely to have problems with their weight and their health.

She also recommends that fasting is a good option for people who want to lose weight, and you should talk to your doctor about fasting for intermittent periods during the day (for example, only eating during 6 or 8 hours of the day and then fasting during the rest of the time) or fasting a couple of times a week by drastically cutting calories on specific days.

This was a really interesting talk with lots of great data to back up the findings, and I’m curious to see where this approach goes in the future! Either way, I know I’m going to try eating dinner a little earlier at night, that’s for sure.

Aaaaand, that’s it! I’ll recap the rest of the sessions in a Part 2 follow-up post.

Question of the day: What time do you usually eat dinner? Do you like hearing about these kinds of topics?

 Posted by on April 19, 2016
Sep 162015
 

Hi friends! Writing all these vacation recaps has been pretty time consuming, so I thought I would keep things light today with a fun food and fitness survey! I always love reading these types of surveys on other blogs, and hopefully you like reading them too. 🙂 I can’t remember where I originally saw this one, since I have a whole bunch saved in my email. Oops!

Let’s get started!

1. What did you eat for breakfast? Like usual, my morning started with a glass of fresh juice as soon as I woke up. Lately I’ve been sticking with the same blend: kale, mixed greens, cucumber, celery, 1/2 a lemon, ginger, and 2 green apples.

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It’s really tasty and I love getting in so many nutrients in the morning.

After I walked Jack and took a shower, I dug into my second breakfast which is also pretty standard: Quaker oatmeal squares, Life cereal, 1% milk, 1/2 a sliced banana, and slivered almonds.

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I also ate the rest of the banana after finishing my bowl. Yum!

2. How much water do you drink a day?

A ton! I love water and most days it’s the only thing I drink (about three times a week I will drink green tea, which is still basically water). I have these cute Lilly Pulitzer cups at my desk at work, and I refill my cup a few times during the day. Drinking water out of a cute cup > drinking water out of a plain one. 😉

I’m very lucky that I’ve always loved water and drank a lot of it as a kid. I’ve never had a problem enjoying water or needing extra flavor or bubbles to get me to drink it. For that I am very thankful!

3. What is your current favorite workout?

I can’t say I have a favorite right now, but I am definitely taking a lot of the same types of classes over and over again: a mix of bootcamps, strength yoga classes, barre, and spin/cycling classes. Basically, I am just enjoying mixing things up! I have also been running a tiny bit, but nothing compared to how much I used to run.

Now that I’m back from my vacation I reactivated my ClassPass membership and have been loving jumping back into classes! Yesterday morning I went to a cycling class at Biker Barre, and although my last class there was just so-so, this class was SO amazing. My instructor for the morning, Allison, had a killer playlist and encouraged us to listen to the music to help guide our pace. She chose songs with a strong beat so keeping in time with the music was perfect! I loved it and felt like I totally lost myself in the music and also got a fantastic workout. I was dripping in sweat by the end.

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Loved it!

I also wore my new clip-in bike shoes that Aunt CC bought me last time we were in Otis. (They have a bunch of bikes for us to use in Otis, but they all require clip-in shoes so she bought a pair for me. She’s the best.) This was my first time wearing the shoes and I thought they were great! I loved feeling so stable on the pedals even when we were sprinting. Thanks, CC!!

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4. How many calories do you eat a day?

I honestly have no idea – I wouldn’t even be able to give you an estimate. I don’t count calories (anymore) and I like it that way. I aim to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Fresh fruit! I eat fresh fruit almost every afternoon, and although it’s usually an apple because it’s fast and easy for me to bring to work, recently I’ve been loving peaches.

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It doesn’t hurt that they’re so cheap right now either!

If I don’t have fresh fruit available, I really like the bars and cookies from WB Kitchen (read about those here) as well as CLIF bars.

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Crunchy peanut butter is my favorite!

6. What do you usually eat for lunch?

I eat a salad like this one almost every single day. Yesterday’s was made with mixed greens, grilled chicken breast, brown rice, shredded carrots, feta cheese, and Craisins. On Monday night I mixed together a big batch of salad dressing made with olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, honey, hummus, salt and pepper, and packed them up into small Tupperware containers to have throughout the week.

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You can read more about how I pack my salads here. When I start to get bored with this salad I add other mix-ins like roasted sweet potatoes or summer squash. So far I am still loving these every day.

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train?

My arms! I love seeing the definition in my shoulders and arms, and showing off a surprisingly big bicep to Fabio can be fun too. 🙂

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?

My legs. I am lucky that I have always had pretty strong leg muscles, so sometimes strength training is boring for me. I also don’t usually see a ton of change in how my legs look after strength training them.

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?

All the chocolate! I don’t discriminate – chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips – I love it all. Right now I still have some chocolate that we brought back from Belgium, so that’s my current temptation.

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10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?

I take a daily “Women’s Active” multivitamin every morning. It’s nothing fancy – just the CVS brand – but it supposedly helps support mental and physical well being. It has all the normal vitamins (C, D, E, K) as well as supplements like iron, calcium, and zinc. It gets the job done!

11. How often do you eat out?

I would say we average eating out around once a week, usually on the weekends. Some weeks it’s much more, but other weeks it’s much less. It usually depends how well I meal planned the Sunday before. 😀

12. Do you eat fast food?

Yep. Not often, but I will eat it. My favorite is Chiptole or Chick-fil-a. Yum.


13. Who is your biggest supporter?

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a huge group of supporters in my life. From Fabio to my family to my fantastic group of friends, I know I have so many shoulders to lean on. I have so many people that I could call/text/g-chat/email/FaceTime if any little thing was bothering me – no matter how big or how small – and I know they would all be there for me.

Just look at all these ladies (plus Fabio who took this picture) who stood out in the FREEZING cold to cheer me on during my last half marathon!

I <3 them.

14. Do you have a gym membership?

No, but as I mentioned earlier I am a member of ClassPass! (You can read more about that here.) I never thought I would spend so much on a monthly fitness membership, but I absolutely love it and am not planning to stop anytime soon.

Megan & me at last year’s DC ClassPass launch!

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

According to my SleepCycle app (read more about that here) I average between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. One big thing that affects my sleep is whether I work out in the morning. For example, today is a rest day for me, so I got to sleep in until 6:45 am. I also got into bed rather early last night, which is a little unusual (I usually am not asleep until around 10:30).

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On Monday night however, I got into bed closer to 10:00 and stayed up reading for quite a while. I also had to set my alarm for 4:55 so I could walk Jack and then drive to my 6:00 am spin class. Oof. Waking up that early was NOT fun.

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As you can see this number varies a lot, which is why I usually try to give myself a day to “sleep in” after a day of waking up so early.

16. Do you have a “cheat” day?

Not technically, but I usually wind up letting loose on the weekends and eating whatever I want.


17. Do you drink alcohol?

Yep! Some would probably say too much, but that’s just how I am. I like to have fun! I’m also young with no kids, so YOLO.


18. Do you have a workout buddy?

Yes! I used to always have a workout buddy in college (shoutout to Catrina for doing Insanity with me in her room!) and after college I used to run a lot with Fabio and Jack.

Now my friend Anne is my go-to workout buddy and we usually take some sort of class together once a week. I love it! Her friend Kathleen has been joining us lately as well, so I’ve made some new workout buddies along the way. 🙂

I also workout with my friend Jojo occasionally, which is also a ton of fun. I am a strong believer in having a workout buddy to keep you accountable!

Jojo is Portugal right now, the lucky duck!

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?

I am happier with my body and am more accepting of myself. I used to be really bad about my body – I would often point out parts of it that I didn’t like and participate in “fat talk” with my friends – but I’ve mostly stopped doing that. Knowing that I eat well (most of the time) and workout often has helped me accept my body for how it is.

20. What was the last healthy thing you did?

Hmm this one is hard. I sort of think everything I do is “healthy” in its own way…whether its eating chocolate or getting in a great workout, it all leads to my overall sense of mental and physical health.

 

Question of the day: Your turn!

What did you eat for breakfast?

Do you have a “cheat” day?

How much sleep do you get?

Do you eat fast food?

 Posted by on September 16, 2015
Jul 282015
 

I think the title of this post makes it pretty obvious what we are talking about today – Invisalign! While I was weighing the pros and cons of getting Invisalign, and I read a ton of helpful reviews online. Today I decided to add my decision making process to the bunch!

As a bit of background, I had braces as a kid from fourth – seventh grade (I even wore headgear at night. How cute). My parents graciously paid for my braces, and I enjoyed very straight teeth for a number of years. Then sometime in college I stopped wearing my retainers and I noticed that my teeth began to shift around a bit. I remember trying to put my retainers on one night after not wearing them for a couple of months, and they didn’t even fit anymore. Woops. At that point I threw them in a drawer and didn’t think about them for a while. Then a few years ago Jack found them and chewed them up, so that was the end of that.

I have one tooth on the bottom of my mouth that’s been pretty crooked for a while now, but since it’s on the bottom it doesn’t bother me too much. Then I started noticing that I had a tooth up top that was crooked too, and it was starting to push on my front right tooth.

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Just a quick note here: I am fully aware that I have beautiful, mostly straight teeth (thanks, mom and dad). I get that most of you probably won’t even really see what I’m talking about here, but it’s something that was bothering me and I noticed. As I always say, do what makes YOU happy.

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Oh hello. Sorry for that. 

Anyway. I started seeing a few pictures of myself where my crooked front tooth was noticeable (to me). Still it wasn’t bothering me too much, but I was annoyed by it more and more.

Then during my last trip to the dentist, my dentist mentioned Invisalign. She used her high-tech camera to show me that my crooked teeth are actually pretty dirty because the angle makes them so much harder to clean. She told me that mostly my teeth were fine, but if I wasn’t careful those teeth could start to decay one day from not getting cleaned properly. I am an everyday flosser with a heavy-duty electric toothbrush, so seeing all that grossness was horrifying. I’m still not sure that was enough to convince me to look into Invisalign, but then she mentioned that if I got it now I could probably qualify for the cheaper and faster Invisalign Express, but if I waited too long I would miss that window. She also told me my teeth would likely continue to move and get more crooked, so the longer I waited the more I would pay and more time it would take.

While all of this was going on, Fabio’s brother-in-law Alex graduated from dental school and became a practicing dentist. He was always offering to see us and help us out with dental work, so I tentatively asked him if he could offer any family discount on Invisalign. Being the amazing guy that he is, he said yes!

I figured this was a sign that I should suck it up and get Invisalign now before my teeth move more/I no longer qualify for Invisalign Express/Alex changes jobs and can’t get me a discount/etc. etc. Back in May I visited Alex for my fitting, and then a couple of weeks ago I headed back to pick up my Invisalign!

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So far everything has been great, and I don’t think it’s too noticeable even though I have 11 (!!!) of the little attachments on my teeth. I figured you guys might have some questions, so here are some basics:

  • Cost: I’m sure the cost of Invisalign varies a lot, but from my research Invisalign typically costs around $5000. Mine is significantly cheaper since a) I was able to qualify for Invisalign Express and b) Alex generously offered me a family discount. Some insurance companies help cover this cost (don’t think mine will, but we will find out) and you can always talk to your dentist/orthodontist about payment plans.
  • Wearing: I am supposed to wear my liners 22 hours a day and only take them out when I eat or drink. On weekdays this is really easy, but it’s proving to be a bit more difficult on weekends when I have parties/weddings/all-these-plans-that-never-stop etc. 😉
  • Eating/Drinking: I can eat everything I ate before, but my teeth were a little sensitive on the first day or two so I stuck to softer foods. I have to take the liners out when I eat or drink anything other than water. So far this has really helped cut down my gum-chewing habit which is probably good but also sad. 🙁 I <3 gum.
  • Cleaning: I clean my liners with a toothbrush, hot water, and soap (no toothpaste). I brush my teeth after every meal and after any especially sticky snacks. If I don’t have a toothbrush nearby I swish water around in my mouth.
  • Timeline: I have 10 liners and will be done with the whole process at the end of November. Woohoo! FYI I got Invisalign Express 10, which is slightly more intense than Invisalign Express 5, so it’s a good thing I didn’t wait any longer! The timeline is different for everyone depending on how much straightening they need.

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So there you have it! Just a little update for anyone else out there who may be curious about the Invisalign process.

For the Maryland locals, Alex did a fantastic job and I can’t recommend his services enough! He works in Severna Park, MD, and I would happy to refer anyone who is interested in seeing him!

Question of the day: Have you ever had braces? Do you have any other questions about Invisalign?

 Posted by on July 28, 2015
Feb 192015
 

Why yes, that is a Beyoncé reference.

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[Source]

Gotta love a little Bey in the morning.

Anyway, I wanted to update you guys a bit on my recovery process! For those of you who are new or just living under a rock, I had surgery on my right foot almost six weeks ago to correct a painful bunion I was born with, and I am now able to walk hobble around in a boot. Woot!

My thoughts are sort of all over the place today in regards to my recovery, so please bare with me. 😀

Walking

Over the weekend I was still mostly relying on one crutch, but when I woke up on Sunday morning I tossed my crutch to the side and decided I didn’t need it anymore. Yep, that happened. I wound up going the whole day without touching a crutch or my peg-leg, which made me so incredibly happy.

See ya lata’ peg-leg

Around this time I also experimented with walking around the house while not wearing my boot. This is actually something the doctor cleared me to do last week, but I was too scared to try it out until recently. After a few short hobbles around the apartment, I’m now getting around great with and without my boot! Of course I always wear my boot when I leave the house, but it’s nice to be able to walk to the bathroom from the living room without having to strap on the boot or hop around like a bunny.

Physical Therapy

I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday! It was actually just an assessment – I haven’t had a real session yet – but I can already tell this PT is going to be great.

The place where I’m going specializes in sports injuries (not that I have one) which means they have a ton of cool fitness equipment for building up strength. While I waited for my doc, I watched a couple of ladies (I’m thinking maybe they were college soccer players?) complete an intense bootcamp workout. Man, I was so jealous I couldn’t be out there with them!

The visit went great, and the doctor tested the range of motion on my toe, as well as my quad and calf strength. To be honest I probably thought this was way more fun than it should have been – he tried to push my legs down and I was supposed to resist him, and I enjoyed testing/showing my strength. #nerdalert

He said the range of motion on my toe needs some work (no surprise there), and he wants me to come back twice a week for four weeks. He also gave me some homework, which I’ve been working on diligently!

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Some of the exercises are really hard for me, especially the one where you use your toes to roll up a towel. Gah! So difficult.

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I know though that with enough practice I’ll get my motion back in no time. 🙂

Long-term recovery

Now that I’ve been in the boot for almost two weeks, I probably have another month or so left wearing it. I’m going back to the doctor on Tuesday so he’ll tell me more then, but that was his initial estimate. Who knows though – maybe I’m a super fast healer and won’t need as long? A girl can dream, right? 😉 Fabio and I are going to a wedding at the end of April, so I’ll be curious as to what footwear I’m cleared to wear by then. You know I’ll keep you posted!

There is one little problem in my recovery; it seems I’ve developed a small infection by my incision. My doc was a little worried about it during my last visit (it was just a small spot that hadn’t healed all the way) and sure enough it turned into a little infection. He prescribed some antibiotics for me, so hopefully it will heal soon! He didn’t sound too worried, and according to my dad who is the king of surgeries (seriously, he’s had more than 30 knee surgeries), this can happen sometimes since that skin is super sensitive. Other than that though, the incision/scar area is looking pretty good!

I’m still not sure when I’ll be able to get into some more intense workouts (I’m sooo tired of pilates at this point) but I’m planning to ask my doctor when I see him on Tuesday. I obviously don’t want to rush into anything, but now that I can put weight on my foot I’m thinking there are probably some things I can do? Maybe biking or rowing? We shall see.

Now that I’m walking I’m also planning to head back to work, especially since my physical therapy place is right near my office. Now if only the darn snow would stop messing up my plans! Here’s hoping I can get back there soon – things are getting a little too quiet for me here at home.

Alright friends, that’s all I have for you today! Have a great Thursday!

Question of the day: Tell me what workouts you’ve been loving so I can live vicariously through you guys. 🙂

 Posted by on February 19, 2015
Feb 182015
 

I’m the sort of person who doesn’t say no to plans. When I get a text or email inviting me out to happy hour, dinner, brunch, and the like, I am almost certain to yes. I’m also not the sort of person to make huge sacrifices when I’m out – if I’m in the mood for beer and a pizza that’s what I’m going to order. On the other hand, I enjoy leading a healthy lifestyle, and I enjoy zipping up my skinny jeans and looking good in a bikini as much as the next girl.

I always find it the hardest to balance a healthy lifestyle in the winter. When there are less outdoor activities to partake in, all my friends want to get together for boozy brunches and happy hours to catch up when we might have gone for a hike or a walk in warmer months. This can obviously lead to a bit of turmoil and stress, and can make me ask questions like should I skip happy hour? Should I go but not drink? Should I just ditch my healthy eating altogether? (Haha! No.)

Because I’m not the type of person to turn down a good time, here are some of my tips for balancing a healthy (and fun!) lifestyle.

1. Decide what’s worth going to.

Ok I know I said I never turn down an invitation to a good time, but that’s sort of untrue. I try to limit myself to two social outings per week where I know there might be unhealthy activities going on. For example, if I got invited to a happy hour on Thursday, a pregame with an outing to the bars on Friday, and a boozy brunch on Saturday, I would evaluate all three invitations and decide what’s really worth going to. Once I’ve made a decision, I will either skip the third outing or go but make a commitment to eat healthy and just sip water.

This might not work for everyone, but this usually works out pretty well for me, and allows me to save money and calories, at least a little bit. Of course if you have friends in town or it’s a special occasion you can always go to more events, but I like to keep this rule of thumb throughout my typical week.

2. Plan your healthy habits around your social schedule.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, but having a dry-erase workout calendar right on my fridge is the best thing ever. Not only does it allow me to plan an even workout schedule (a balance of strength, cardio, etc.) but it allows me to schedule my workouts around my social calendar. For example, if I know I have a happy hour with friends on Thursday night, I will schedule a workout for Thursday morning and then plan a rest day for Friday. This helps me stick to my workouts, and then I don’t feel bad if I’m too hungover to exercise one day, since it was a planned rest day anyway.

It’s also important to consider what you’re eating before going out. On a day when I know I’ll be going to a bar around dinnertime, I make sure to eat a healthy and nutrient-packed breakfast and lunch. On these days, I would typically have a glass of green juice in the morning, followed by a nutritious breakfast. For lunch I would have a giant salad packed with tons of greens and some grains, and I would make sure to eat a small snack and fill up on water before heading out to the bar. I like to keep calories low and nutrients high if I know I’m going to be drinking later.

3. Order the slightly healthier meal.

When I’m out to eat, I don’t always want the absolute healthiest thing on the menu. Sometimes when I’m looking at all the delicious options for sandwiches or pizza (clearly I’m a carb queen), a salad with salmon just doesn’t sound appealing. What I like to do is order a slightly healthier meal than whatever it is I’m really craving. Am I craving a pizza? Then I’ll get the thin crust with arugula on top. Am I craving a burger? I’ll get a grilled chicken sandwich instead.

When ordering a meal out, I just try to order something that will taste good enough that I won’t feel disappointed, but will still be slightly healthier than whatever it was that I really wanted.

Grilled veggie sandwich with sweet potato fries

 

Psst…this isn’t just for food! I like to do this with drinks too and will usually order a vodka soda with extra lime, when what I really want in a gin and tonic. Not that those are really the same, but, you get it. 

4. Share meals with a friend.

This is probably my number one tip for enjoying “unhealthy” food while you’re out. If there’s something you’re really craving like burgers, fries, nachos, or pizza, ask a friend to split it with you. If you’re out with other ladies this is especially helpful since chances are good your friend is craving the same thing but also wants to avoid overeating.

Last weekend everyone ordered dinner while we were out at the bar, and I asked my friend Bianca if she wanted to share a chicken sandwich and fries with me. This way we both got to enjoy half a delicious sandwich, and we got our taste of some delicious French fries. Usually the portions are so big at restaurants that half an order is probably closer to what you need anyway!

5. No regrets.

Ok I lied, this is my number one tip for enjoying unhealthy food and drinks while you’re out. We all (probably) know that feeling of waking up after a night out with friends where your head is pounding and your stomach is hating you from the late night pizza. In these moments, it’s easy to throw in the towel and want to give up on your healthy habits or feel bad about your choices. Just don’t.

 

Life is short, and you can’t waste a single moment regretting your decisions. Each day is a new start, and there’s no reason why you can’t make today better than yesterday.

One of my favorite things to do these days when I’m hungover is drink some fresh juice and go for a run! I swear it helps! They say your body burns alcohol before it burns fat, and I believe it!

Either way, you have to start loving yourself and all of your decisions – good and bad – in order to be happy in life. So don’t have regrets!

Question of the day: What are your tips for making healthy choices while out?

 Posted by on February 18, 2015
Jan 142015
 

Fabio and I have recently gotten into watching documentaries on Netflix, and the other day we watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

For those of you who have never seen the film, it’s a documentary about an overweight man from Australia who completes a juice cleanse for 60 days in order to reset his body and lose weight. When he starts the documentary he is taking tons of medications for an obesity-related autoimmune disease he has, however when he finishes the cleanse he is healthy, thinner, and completely off his pills.

Fat-Sick-Nearly-Dead-Featured

[Source]

While he’s cleansing, the host drives around the United States and interviews people about their health. As you would expect, the documentary showed that the eating habits in this country are pretty atrocious. Many of the overweight people interviewed were baffled about how to eat healthy, and others just didn’t seem to care. They knew that their life spans would be cut short because of their weight, but they weren’t motivated to do anything about it. Although this information was depressing to hear, I have to say I wasn’t surprised. Working every day in an obesity-related nonprofit organization has really opened my eyes to this epidemic, and I’m happy to say that each day I try my best to make a small difference on the number of Americans with obesity.

One thing that did surprise me though was how beneficial the juice cleanse was for people’s health. Of course the cleanse made people lose weight (a drastic change in calorie intake will do that) but I was really impressed with its other health benefits. For example, the documentary showed one woman who suffered from frequent migraines, and after trying the juice cleanse for just 10 days, she didn’t have a single migraine even after consuming foods that previously acted as migraine triggers for her. The fact that the juices were able to cure the host of his autoimmune disease was pretty impressive as well.

In order to help explain how the juice does this, the documentary used really cute animations which demonstrated that micronutrients in the juice help repair cells and fight off diseases. Here’s the video demonstration:

I just love the thought of those micronutrients helping out our cells! So cute, right?

Anyway, Fabio and I both thought the documentary was truly eye-opening, and when it was over we both vowed to incorporate more fresh juices into our diet.

In the past I’ve been somewhat against juicing because you have to buy so-much-produce to yield just 1/4 cup of juice. Fabio and I are pretty good about managing a budget, so all that extra produce just didn’t seem worth it. However after watching this video we’ve both decided that getting the nutrients from fresh juice is important enough that we’re going to give it a go.

At this point we are only at the very beginning stages – researching juicers, finding juice recipes, reading about the pros/cons of cleanses, etc. – but I promise to keep you guys posted about our progress along the way. I think this could be a fun venture to take on in 2015, and I’m excited to see what (if any) health benefits come our way after consuming more fresh juice! (Psst…I’m not ruling out smoothies either! That fiber is important too!)

Questions of the day: Do you drink fresh juice? If so, how do you make it? What juicers do you like? What recipes are good? How do you feel about juice cleanses?

 Posted by on January 14, 2015
Jul 152014
 

Balancing a healthy lifestyle is hard enough at home where you’re tempted by dinner invitations from friends, takeout menus shoved in your door, or that secret stash of chocolate hiding in your cabinet.

One place where I find balancing a healthy lifestyle to be even harder is in the workplace. I don’t know about you, but at jobs I’ve had in the past, I’ve been bombarded with birthday cake, free bagels, and leftover catered food from large client meetings. One of my friends works at BuzzFeed, and they even have a free froyo machine complete with toppings in their office! Something about free food just makes it irresistible, and even though you might be focused on your healthy habits, all it takes is one measly free donut to lead you astray.

Now that I’m working in the health and wellness industry, however, all of this has changed for me! I now work for a company that promotes a healthy lifestyle not just for its members and stakeholders, but also for its staff! (Of course we still have the occasional birthday cake or catered meal, but the options are much healthier). We have a solid wellness plan in place, which I totally love. It’s so much easier to maintain my healthy habits when I’m surrounded by people who are doing the same!

That being said, here are a few tips for those of you who would like to set up a health & wellness plan at your own company, but don’t know how to begin.

employeewellnessplan

1. Have a chat with your manager and/or HR. At my old job, our HR department had a whole wellness committee where you could brainstorm health and wellness ideas. I was (obviously) on the committee and although I left before all of our ideas netted out, I definitely saw some healthy improvements around the office. At my new job, I made it a point to chat with my manager about my interest in health and wellness from day 1. I’ve found that being open and expressing your interest is actually a lot easier than you might think, and you’d be surprised how much people are willing to listen to you!

2. Be proactive. From my experience, a lot of companies have small budgets set aside for initiatives just like this, but they often lack the manpower to get it going. If you are proactive about setting up a plan and pitching a reasonable budget to your manager and/or HR department, there’s actually have a decent chance you’ll get it approved. By approaching the situation like you would a new business meeting, you’ll get great experience (which you could probably even add to your resume if you wanted to), impress your employers, and hopefully set an employee wellness plan in place. Three birds with one stone doesn’t sound too bad to me!

3. Start small. Change can be hard, and while maintaining healthy habits might be high up on your priority list, remember that everyone’s goals aren’t the same. Also, your fellow employees will probably all be starting out at varying fitness levels, so it’s a good idea to start off slow or let people customize activities to their liking.

4. Set tangible goals. People will feel good about themselves if they know they’re making progress, so set some goals for your fellow employees to accomplish. At my job we have one month dedicated to an Employee Wellness Challenge (June, since that’s National Employee Wellness Month) and there are different challenges for each week. We set up a tracker in a Google doc so that everyone can track their goals publicly, and small prizes are awarded at the end of each week for those who met their goals (there’s a FitBit as the grand prize!). Our challenge includes simple goals like incorporating more water, exercise, and fruit & veggies into your diet, but it feels like a huge accomplishment for those people who have never focused on getting healthy before, and suddenly they’ve met all their goals.

Here are some of the activities we’ve implemented at my workplaces (old and new) that might be good starting places for you:

Inexpensive/free:

  • Host a month-long Employee Wellness Challenge, and track goals on a Google doc
  • Schedule weekly walks outside (set up a recurring calendar appointment in Outlook so people won’t skip this)
  • Host a healthy potluck to kick off the wellness initiative where everyone brings in a healthy dish
  • Hold a weekly healthy recipe swap where employees email their favorite healthy recipes to one another
  • Send out healthy tips of the day (or week) which can be things like reminders to get up and walk around or inspirational articles you’ve seen online
  • Turn summer and winter parties that would have been held at a restaurant or bar into an active event like a hike, kayak adventure, or bike ride

Moderately expensive:

  • Hire a fruit delivery company to deliver produce at the start of each week (apples, oranges, bananas, etc.)
  • Buy communal healthy breakfast options like yogurts, granola, oatmeal, cereal, and skim milk
  • Bring in a yoga instructor to teach yoga classes to employees once a month during lunch
  • Encourage employees to take advantage of Groupons and deals for local exercise classes (give them a $5 or $10 voucher to be used on a fitness class)

More expensive:

  • Allow employees to swap out regular desks for standing desks or exercise balls
  • Purchase a treadmill desk for the office and allow employees to sign up for different time slots to use it (we are getting one of these soon!)
  • Pick a medical cause that’s important to an employee, and sponsor employees to participate in a race or fitness event benefiting that cause (e.g., have everyone do one of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events)

Hopefully with these tips you will feel inspired to go forward and start a health & wellness initiative in your own office!

Question of the day: What healthy activities does your company promote?

 Posted by on July 15, 2014
May 022014
 

Hi friends! Happy Friday! I actually don’t have a Favorite Things Friday post for you today, since most of my week was dreary, cold, wet, and not too exciting.

However the weather finally cleared up yesterday and I was able to run in to Georgetown for another Barre3 class, which was really nice.

georgetownwaterfront

Oh, hello!

rungeorgetown

Check out that brown water from the rain. Yuck!

rosslynkeybridge

Instead of trying to scrounge together a less-than-my-best Favorite Things Friday post today, I thought I would share some health news and views we have been discussing at work instead!

Now that I work full time in the health & wellness industry, I am always hearing about topics that I think would interest you guys, and I figured today would be a good day to round them up. Think of this as more of a “Favorite Things I’ve Learned At Work Friday,” if you will 😉

So without further ado, here are some hot health topics!

1. Sugar Sweetened Beverages are a big problem. One thing we talk about a lot at work are sugar sweetened beverages. Personally I hardly ever drink soda (except when mixed with alcohol, but even then I am likely to order soda water) so I often forget about this issue, but it’s actually a huge problem in our country. Did you know that 6-7% of Americans’ overall calorie consumption comes from sugar-sweetened beverages? That number shocked me!

Soda is not the only culprit either; many healthy-looking juice drinks trick people into thinking they are making a smart option, when in reality they can be loaded with added sugars. Make sure when you are selecting a juice drink you look for “100% juice” and not “juice cocktail” on the packaging to avoid buying anything with added sugar. Naturally-occurring sugars in juice are ok in moderation, but you really want to avoid drinking anything with added sugar.

My organization also issued a statement last week about how sugar-sweetened beverages are a leading cause of the obesity epidemic in America, especially in children. Our statement has now garnered some significant coverage in the media, and I have to say I am really proud to be a part of the process!

We are also exploring the results of some recent research regarding diet sodas and how they affect weight loss, but the results haven’t been published in our journal yet so I can’t share them at this time. I’m in charge of writing the press release on the study, contacting reporters, and handling interviews with our spokesperson, so it’s going to be very exciting! If you guys are interested in hearing more about this let me know in the comments section below and I will keep you updated 🙂

2. A new movie is coming out about the food industry in America, and we should all go watch it.

One of our partners sent us the trailer below for the movie FED UP, a new documentary from Katie Couric and Laurie David about the country’s food industry. The movie comes out on May 9 and highlights a couple staggering facts including: (1) More than 95 percent of all Americans will be overweight or obese in two decades; (2) By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes; (3) 80 percent of food items sold in America have added sugar (source). Wow. I definitely plan to see this movie, and if you’re at all interested in health/wellness I encourage you to see it too!

3. There is a big debate over how schools should handle children who are overweight and obese.

Lately some schools have started screening students for BMI (which is calculated by weight and height) as part of their normal school check-up. If their BMI falls under the overweight or obese classification, the school nurse will mail a letter home alerting the parents and suggesting tips for talking to pediatricians, maintaining a balanced diet, and increasing physical activity. Theoretically the child (and his or her peers) will never see the letter, thus avoiding many concerns over bullying that many people have had.

Obviously this has been a very controversial topic because parents have strong opinions about how they want to raise their children. I know everyone has their own opinions, so my organization is trying to figure out what our stance should be. I personally think sending letters home to parents is a good idea since there are so many uninformed families out there who probably don’t even see that their child is overweight, but I understand the consequences involved.

What do you guys think?

4. The FDA is planning to change their nutrition label. 

The proposed changes would do a couple different things. One of the main changes would be to make the caloric information much more prominent on the package, so people will be more likely to pay attention to it.

The changes also propose adjusting serving sizes to more accurately reflect what people normally consume, and making that information more prominent as well. Yes! I especially love this change because so many people get fooled into thinking what they are eating is low in calories, and they don’t realize that the “serving per container” is actually 2, 3, or even more. Yikes.

The FDA is also proposing the addition of an “Added Sugars” label, which will require manufacturers to report the amount of sugar they add to food and drinks. Hopefully this will not only help people become aware of just how much added sugar they are ingesting (e.g., a can of soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar, and the recommended daily average for women is only 6), but also get manufacturers to start lowering the amount of added sugars.

FDAnutritionlabelchanges

[Source]

Woohoo! Go FDA!

Other Interesting Information

In addition to the topics I mentioned above, I have two other interesting things I wanted to share with you.

1) While researching something for work, I came across an interesting article written by a man who lost 140 lbs “the right way”about how Eating is Not a Hobby.  As a food-lover I found myself relating to a lot of the points he made, and I thought you guys might find it interesting.

2) HealthyPeople 2020 is holding a webinar with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday, May 9, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. ET for a conversation on how a diet rich in nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — along with regular physical activity — is essential for the health of the Nation. The webinar will also discuss how healthy environments and healthy communities can contribute to healthy people. Should be cool if you want to join!

Well guys, that’s all I have for you today. Please let me know if you liked hearing about all these little health updates that I am learning through work; I think they are really cool and would be happy to share more information like this in the future if you’d like!

Happy Friday!

Question of the day: If your child was overweight or obese, would you want his or her school to contact you about it?

 Posted by on May 2, 2014