Get in Shape at Birdtown Running Events for All Levels

TheBirdtown_Dec10Looking for a fun way to slim down for the summer? Consider taking part in the new Birdtown Half Marathon, 8k or 4k races on May 17.  The events will take place in Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Crystal, and Brooklyn Center. And if you are new to exercise, don’t worry.  Race organizers say that the events are designed to meet the needs of exercisers of all levels.

Choose Your Distance

If you’ve never taken part in a fun run or running race, there’s no need to be intimidated.  Very few people actually “race” the course.  Most participants take part in the fitness event as a fun run and as a great way to connect with others and get some healthy exercise.

And you don’t need to be a seasoned runner to get involved.  A 4k course is only 2 1/2 miles.  If you walk the course at a moderate pace, it should take 40 to 60 minutes to finish.  An 8k course is about 5 miles. If you run this course at a slow pace (10-11 minute mile) you’ll finish in about an hour or so.

Register Now, Connect with Friends

Get more information about the Birdtown Half Marathon, 8k, 4k online.  North Memorial is a proud sponsor of the event which also includes  a Lil’ Birdie” Fun Run for the kids.  Grab some friends, get registered and start training today.



How to Burn More Calories All Day

scaleDid you know that there are simple things you can do to burn more calories all day long?  Dieters often try to boost their metabolism to lose weight.  But it’s very hard to change your resting metabolic rate (RMR).  Several factors like age, gender and genetics play a role in this number. But you can change your activity level to burn more calories.

Simple Steps to Burn More Calories

  • Stand while you work. If you work at a desk job, you might feel confined to a chair all day.  But in many jobs you can actually stand while you work.  Set up a counter height workspace and spend part of your day working on your feet.
  • Park far away.  Make it a habit to park at the back of the parking lot when you go to the mall, the grocery store or the gym.  Every step counts and you’ll increase your number with this simple trick.
  • Have meetings on the go.  Instead of booking a conference room for your next meeting, tell your coworkers to lace up a pair of shoes and take your meeting on the road. Walk outside or around your building.  If you’re a homemaker, grab the kids and chat about their day during a walk after school.
  • Talk and walk.  Do you chat on the phone during the day?  Don’t sit while you gab. Pace around the room or walk up and down the stairs while you catch up with friends.
  • Do your chores.  Hate to clean?  Housecleaning isn’t fun for anyone, but if you clean vigorously you can boost your caloric burn and get a clean house at the same time.

Want more ideas for ways to burn calories with physical activity?  Check out the exercise page at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.






How to Eat More Healthy Vegetables

my plateWhen you sit down at the dinner table, is at least half of your plate filled with fruits and vegetables?  It should be.  If you follow guidelines provided by the U.S.D.A., half of your plate should be fruits and veggies, while the other half should be divided between protein and grains (preferable whole grains).  Families can use the plate icon as a guide.

How to Choose Healthy Vegetables

Vegetables are organized into 5 types: dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables.You can eat them raw, cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.  If you (or your kids) cringe at the thought of steamed broccoli, get creative and try something new.

  • Dark Green Vegetables.  If you stir fry bok choy, make a healthy kale salad or add a small amount of low fat cheese on top of sauteed spinach you’ll be eating veggies from this food group.  Mustard greens, watercress and dark green leafy lettuce are also a part of this group.
  • Starchy vegetables.  Popular frozen favorites like corn and peas are part of this group, along with lima beans, potatoes, and water chestnuts.
  • Red and Orange Vegetables. Many peppers and squash varieties fall into this category.  Need a fun way to include more red and orange veggies into your meals?  Steam sweet potatoes or cut them into slivers and bake them to make low-fat, festive french fries.
  • Beans and Peas.  Navy beans, pinto beans and garbanzo beans are part of this food group.  Beans can be purchased dry or canned and are easily added to salads, soups or stews.
  • Other vegetables. You’ll find many veggies in the local produce department that don’t fall into any of the categories above.  But you should still eat them!  Mash cauliflower instead of potatoes, create lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta or saute zucchini to add a dash of color to your dinner plate.

Experimenting with new types of vegetables is the best way to find new varieties that you and your family will enjoy.  Get more information about including veggies and fruit in your diet at

How to Use a Pedometer to Start a Walking Program

Walk to improve your health

Believe it or not, spring is on its way.  The warmer temperatures already this week may inspire you to get outside and get some exercise. If walking is your sport of choice, use a pedometer to improve your level of fitness and measure your progress .

How to Buy a Pedometer

Pedometers come in many different price ranges, but an inexpensive model is really all you need to measure your steps per day.  You can find one at your local sporting goods store for less than $20. Most pedometers attach to your belt or waistband.  As you move through your daily activities, it measures the number of steps you take.

Figure Out Your Steps Per Day

The first time you wear your pedometer, don’t be worried about adding extra steps or trying to get the number too high.  Just measure a typical day’s activity to establish your starting point.

Activity Categories

  • Less than 5000 steps = sedentary
  • 5000-7499  = low active
  • 7500-9999 = somewhat active
  • More than 10,000 = active
  • More than 12,500 = highly active

Set a goal to improve your health by moving up at least one category.  For example, if you took 6000 steps on the first day you wore your pedometer, that means you started in the “low active” category.  Set a goal to walk 7,500 steps or more in order to move into the “somewhat active” category.   Once you reach that goal, see if you can set a new goal and continue to make progress.

Achieve a Moderate Walking Pace

Once you find yourself in the “active” category, start to measure the pace of your walks.  To improve your health, experts generally recommend 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity.  So how do you know if you are walking at a moderate intensity?

Researchers have found that moderate intensity walking can be achieved at a pace of 100 steps per minute, or 3000 steps in 30 minutes.  But, you don’t need to complete all 30 minutes in one session.  Three sessions of 1000 steps in 10 minutes can also be used to meet the recommended goal .


Simon J. Marshall, et al. “Translating Physical Activity Recommendations into a Pedometer-Based Step Goal.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, May 2009.

Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr. “How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health.” Sports Medicine , 2004;34(1):1-8..

(Photo credit: phaewilk/Morguefile)

4 Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Have a happy, healthy  Valentine's Day

Have a happy, healthy Valentine’s Day

Have you bought your sweetheart a Valentine’s Day gift yet? If your loved one is trying to live a healthy life, use these creative ideas and give him or her a gift that supports the commitment.

  1. Cooking classes for two. Cooking isn’t a chore when you do it with the one you love. Check out the offerings at your local kitchen shop or community college to find cooking classes that will help you cook heart-healthy meals together.
  2. Ballroom dancing classes.  Burn a few calories and spice things up with the love of your life. Sign up for dance classes and burn up to 300 calories per hour.
  3. Support coupons.  On a budget?  If your loved one is trying to eat a healthier diet, lose weight or stick to an exercise program, provide support by giving him/her coupons to do household chores, activities with the kids or other tasks. That way your loved one will have more time to invest in her healthy goals.
  4. Cook a heart-healthy meal.  Make a romantic meal that is both indulgent and healthy.  Use recipes from the American Heart Association to develop a sample menu for your sweetie like this one:

Is Body Mass Index (BMI) the Best Measure?

The recent Biggest Loser finale raised a few interesting questions about using body mass index (BMI) to evaluate a healthy weight.  During the final episode of the popular weight loss show, Rachel Frederickson, a Minnesota native, won the grand prize by slimming down from 260lbs to 105lbs.  Some say that her weight loss went to far because her BMI is now estimated to be below healthy standards.

What is BMI?

Body mass index is a way of estimating how your weight affects your risk for certain medical conditions.  It is not an absolute measure of fat or of your general health.  You can calculate your BMI with this formula:

BMI formula:  weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal.  A BMI between 25 and 29.9 falls into the overweight category and a number over 30 is considered obese.  If your BMI falls in the overweight or obese categories your weight may put you at higher risk for chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea or stroke.

What Does BMI Mean?

If your body mass index falls outside the healthy range it is simply an opportunity for you to talk to your doctor about ways in which you can lose or gain weight to improve your health.  Your body mass index is changeable! Use the score as an opportunity to talk to your provider about a healthy diet and exercise program.

Have you found us on Facebook yet?  Do you follow us on Twitter?  Join us today for more healthy tips and news.

How to Order Healthy Meals in Restaurants

Look for the red check in restaurants

Look for the red check in restaurants

Do you order heart-healthy meal when you dine out?  Trying to order a diet-friendly meal in a restaurant can be quite a challenge.  Entrees are usually too big and it is hard to find out how much fat, salt and sugar was used to prepare your entree.  But a smart diner can learn to order better meals in restaurants with a few handy tips and tools.

American Heart Association Certification

The American Heart Association provides a helpful guide for diners who want to eat better when they dine out.  Their Dining Out Guide provides tips by cuisine, a guide for deciphering the menu and other helpful tips.

The AHA also provide a certification of certain items on restaurant menus.  If you see the check-mark logo on an entree at your favorite spot, you’ll know that the item meets the nutritional guidelines established for good health by the AHA.  This means that the entire meal contains:

  • less than 700 calories
  • less than 30% of the total calories from fat
  • less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • less than 0.5 grams trans fat per the entire meal
  • 900 milligrams or less sodium per the entire meal
  • 10 percent or more of the Daily Value of one of the following nutrients per the entire meal: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber or protein.

Making Good Restaurant Choices

Since the AHA’s restaurant certification program is new, it is very likely that you’ll end up at a restaurant that doesn’t have menu items with the logo.  And very few restaurants provide nutritional information about their food.  So what do you do to make better choices?  Check out our Tips for Staying Social on a Diet.  You’ll find quick tips for dining out and advice for how to manage parties and other situations where food is present.

You’ll  find plenty of resources about diet, exercise advice and healthy eating strategies at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.  Check it out or join the weight loss community on Facebook and Twitter.