Healthy State Fair Activity and Eating Guide

Enjoy the Minnesota State Fair's healthy offerings

Enjoy the Minnesota State Fair’s healthy offerings

Have you made plans to go to the Minnesota State Fair? The great Minnesota get-together runs from August 22 – September 2, 2013, so you’ve still got plenty of time to enjoy the festivities.  But before you go, check out this list of resources.  You’ll find fun ideas to help you eat well and stay active during your day at the fair.

Eat Healthy at the Minnesota State Fair

Get Active and Fit at the Minnesota State Fair

Remember that you can also visit the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder to find healthy foods to try and the Minnesota State Fair Fun Finder to find healthy activities.

Have you checked out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter

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How to Do a Mini Workout at the Minnesota State Fair

Got a few calories to burn off? (The Minnesota State Fair runs from Aug. 22-Labor Day, Sept. 2)

Got a few calories to burn off?
(The Minnesota State Fair runs from Aug. 22-Labor Day, Sept. 2)

Want to burn a few extra calories as you graze through the food delights at the Minnesota State Fair?  If you saw Tuesday’s list of calorie costs for popular state fair foods, you know that it would take a significant amount of time and effort to burn off all of the calories that you might consume. But you can put a dent in the damage with a few simple exercises.  Give this total body mini workout a try.

Total Body State Fair Mini Workout.

Start your day by walking or biking to the State Fairgrounds.  It’s healthy and economical.  You can lock your bike for free at one of the free bike corrals.  Then do these exercises to strengthen the muscles in your upper body, lower body and core.

  • Park bench push-up.  Strengthen your upper body and tighten your core muscles with an incline push up performed on the back of a park bench.  Stand behind the bench and place your hands on the bench about shoulder height apart.  Your feet will be behind your upper body and you’ll lean towards the bench to begin. Bend your elbows to lower your torso closer to the bench, then straighten your arms to return to the starting position.  Do ten repetitions.
  • Waiting-around wall squat.  If you find yourself waiting for the kids to get off a ride or for your husband to come back from the food line, find an empty space on a sturdy wall to do this squat variation. Stand with your back to the wall and lean against it. Now walk your feet out slightly and lower you’re hips so that they are in line with your knees.  Hold the position for 15-60 seconds to strengthen the muscles in your lower body.  It’s harder than it looks!
  • Stand-in-line stability exercises. One of the best ways to strengthen the muscles in your torso is to do balance exercises.  When your body has to stabilize to stay upright, you have to tighten the core muscles to balance.  Try this standing core exercise when you’re waiting in line for your snack or ride. Balance on one leg and lift the other foot slightly off the ground in front of you.  Circle the foot around to the back and return to the starting position.  Do 10 circles then switch to the other leg.  Keep your torso tight but don’t hold your breath as you complete each repetition.

If you didn’t bike to the fair, you can still improve your health by parking further away and walking back to your car at the end of the day. A small study conducted recently in Japan suggests that going for a walk after consuming a high-fat meal may help to lower your post-meal triglyceride levels.  The study was limited in scope, so you shouldn’t use it to justify eating more cheese curds, but a brisk walk to the car along with a few five-minute exercise breaks during the day will help you to balance the energy scales and keep your body healthy.

Have you checked out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Exercise Cost of Your State Fair Food

The MInnesota State Fair runs from Aug. 22 through Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013.

The MInnesota State Fair runs from Aug. 22 through Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013.

Have you budgeted properly to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair?  You may have saved your pennies to afford your favorite fried treats and you may have even plotted an efficient course to visit each popular food booth, but have you considered the exercise cost of your day at the Fair? Before you dive in, you may want to take a look at the price you pay for indulging in these popular state fair foods.

Exercise Cost of Popular State Fair Foods

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies:  A single sweet Martha cookie contains 90 calories.  But who eats just one? To burn off four cookies, you need to run a 10-minute mile 1.5 times around the perimeter of the state fair grounds.  And that’s just for the cookies!  Having milk with your treat? Look below to see how many miles you should add to the course.
  • Milk.  An eight-ounce glass of cold whole milk contains 148 calories. If you’re running to burn off the cookies, you’ll need to add another mile and a half to your route to burn off the milk as well. A smarter option?  Get skim milk. It only contains 83 calories.
  • Ice Cream, Malts, Shakes.  Who doesn’t love a creamy milkshake?  If you plan to enjoy a malt or milkshake in the Dairy Barn, you’ll consume over 350 calories in one small 10 ounce serving.   To burn it off, you’ll need to do the two-mile History Walking & Cell Phone tour for almost three consecutive hours.
  • Pronto Pup. This tasty snack on a stick contains 350 calories.  Eat one and you’ll have to walk up the seven-flight DNR staircase for 40 minutes.  Doesn’t sound like much does it? You might want to start climbing and then decide.
  • Deep Fried Cheese Curds. The number of calories in cheese curds depends on the number that you eat.  By most estimates, you’ll consume 570-759 calories in a single serving of curds.  Got your running shoes on?  You’ll need to sprint the perimeter of the fair grounds twice, and climb the DNR stairs for thirty minutes when you’re done to burn off the cheesy snacks.
  • Mini Donuts.  If you’re like many fair goers, you head straight towards the mini donut booth when you walk through the gates.  If you eat a 12-donut serving, you’ll consume 630 calories.  Did you bring your dancing shoes?  You’ll need to shake your groove thing for three hours at the Fair-Well-To-Summer Dance Party to burn off the calories in that treat.

Remember that there are lower calorie foods to eat at the State Fair.  If you don’t have time to jog the fair grounds or sprint up the stairs, share just one or two indulgent treats with a friend to keep your calorie count low.  Then spend the rest of the day enjoying healthier State Fair offerings like fresh fruit, grilled kabobs or fresh corn.  Use the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder to locate your favorites.  And don’t forget to check out more tips and advice about healthy eating and exercise at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.

*Nutritional information comes from sources including USDA, MyFitnessPal, and local vendors.  Calorie estimates for activities provided by the American Council on Exercise Activity Calculator and are based on the exercise cost for a 150-pound person.

Are You Ready to Lose Weight? (Quiz)

scaleIt’s not uncommon for people to want to lose weight.  But just because someone wants to lose weight doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ready to lose weight. What’s the difference?  Being ready to lose weight means that you understand the changes that you’ll have to undergo and the benefits that you can gain from going through the weight loss process.

Weight Loss Readiness Quiz

Before you go on a diet or embark on any big changes to your diet or exercise regime, ask yourself these questions.  You should know the answers to each question before you begin your weight loss journey.  The answers will help you stay on track when challenges arise.

  • Does my weight affect my health?  Your healthy care provider may have talked to you about the importance of losing weight.  But you might also want to discuss specifics with your doctor.  Ask specific questions to find out what medical conditions are affected by your weight.  You can also use this downloadable Wellness Questionnaire to help you decide if now is the right time to lose weight.
  • What changes am I willing to make to lose weight?  You’ll need to make some lifestyle changes in order to make a real difference in the way your body looks and feels.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that the changes are bad!  A registered dietitian can tailor a program to meet your needs.  But you need to be open to changing portions sizes of foods that you eat, meal choices and your activity level if you really want to be successful in the long run.
  • What will I gain from losing weight? The answers to this question may fall into a few different categories.  Your doctor can explain how losing weight may improve your medical health.  Weight loss may also make it easier to spend active time with your children or with friends.  And you may want to think about how weight loss can affect your own feelings about yourself.  A behavioral specialist can help you explore these issues in greater detail as you work through your weight loss journey.
  • Do I have support for my weight loss journey?  Before you start a weight loss program, think about who can help you out when the going gets tough.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  Your spouse may be open to suggestions about how he or she can make the process easier.  Do you have coworkers who are also trying to slim down?  Connect with others who are going through the same process.  And connect with North Memorial as well!  Our Facebook page, blog and Twitter feed offer daily tips and motivation.

Once you know the answers to these questions, starting a weight loss program will make more sense. You’ll set yourself up for success by answering the questions now and equipping yourself with sound reasons for improving your health.

Make Your Child a Healthy-Eating Champ

ChampionRibbonIt’s hard to encourage your children to eat well when they are bombarded with television commercials and online ads for foods that are unhealthy.   Cartoon-covered packages are more likely to grab your child’s attention at the grocery store than a bag of apples or carrots.  With so many forces working against you, what’s a parent to do?

The MyPlate program has developed a few online resources to help you out.  MyPlate and ChooseMyPlate are programs developed by the The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), an organization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  They provide an online MyPlate Champion program to encourage children to eat well and exercise everyday.

How to Make Your Child a Champ

Visit the MyPlate Kids Place online to get started.  The site provides games, playful videos, activity sheets and other resources that will teach both you and your child how to make healthy choices at home and when dining out.  Download the MyPlate Champion Pledge and encourage everyone in the family to sign one.  Post the pledge sheets in an area where they serve as a reminder for healthy habits.

Looking for healthy kid-friendly recipes and lunch ideas?  Use these resources to get started:

Do you have another idea or tip to share about healthy eating in the home?  Go to the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss Facebook page and share it so other parents can benefit!  We love to hear from our readers.

Grocery Shopping Mistakes That Could Cause Weight Gain

Are you buying the best food for weight loss?

Are you buying the best food for weight loss?

What influences your choices when you go grocery shopping? If you’re like many shoppers, you look for foods that are healthy and satisfying. But if you’re trying to lose weight, that can be a confusing process.  New research out of Cornell University suggests that some of us are making grocery shopping mistakes that could cause weight gain.

Organic Food: Better For Your Diet?
One study conducted by the Cornell University Food and Brand lab found that when foods are labelled “organic” people tend to think the food has fewer calories. In addition, shoppers were willing to pay more for organic foods simply based on the assumption that those foods were better for their diets.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you should look for food that has fewer calories. But whether a food is organic does not affect it’s calorie content. For example,if you scan the calorie counts for both organic and non-organic oatmeal cookies you’ll find that calorie counts on most brands – organic and non-organic – are about the same.

What Color Is Your Food?
Another study conducted by Cornell evaluated shoppers’ responses to the color of the Nutrition Facts Label. When the label was colored green, shoppers tended to think that the food was healthier, even though the actual facts on the label were no different than the facts on a black and white labelled product.

How to Avoid Grocery Shopping Mistakes
If you’re trying to lose weight, the best way to purchase cheaper, lower calorie food is to get the facts – the nutrition facts. Read the Nutrition Facts Label and ignore other advertising cues. These cues might include words like “healthy” “organic” “wheat” or “diet.” Food manufacturers may also try to lure you in with green colors, natural looking images and wholesome packaging. None of it matters unless the claims are backed up on the official Nutrition Facts label.

Learn more about the Nutrition Facts label and about foods to eat and foods to avoid at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.

Is It Time to Choose Weight Loss Surgery?

scaleIf you’ve battled your weight for years and you’ve tried traditional methods to slim down, it may be time to consider weight loss surgery.  But how do you know if bariatric surgery is right for you?  I recently spoke to Dr. Ninh T. Nguyen, MD, the President-elect of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).  He provided a few questions that you can ask yourself to help guide your answer.

  • What is my BMI?
  • Have I tried to lose weight with diet and exercise?
  • How will weight loss affect my health?
  • What changes am I willing to make to lose weight and keep it off for the long run?

The answers to these questions can provide a starting point on your journey to make a decision about weight loss surgery.   Discuss your answers with your doctor to get more guidance.  You might also consider taking an informative class through the Specialists in General Surgery.  The surgeons there have partnered with North Memorial Medical Center to provide comprehensive care, management and planning for surgical weight loss for qualified patients.

Learn more about the informational classes and about your weight loss surgery options in this recent publication of Health eMinutes.  You can also visit North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss to learn more about healthy eating, starting an exercise program and getting support throughout your weight loss journey.