Prevent Osteoporosis with Healthy Exercise

Exercise is important for a healthy heart, a healthy mind and for weight control.  But did you know that exercise is also important for healthy bones?

As part of the natural aging process, we lose calcium in our bones.  In some people, this can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that leaves us at higher risk for fractures.

So how do you prevent osteoporosis?  The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends weight bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing or using an elliptical machine.  The organization also recommends that you participate in resistance training (sometimes called weight lifting) 2-3 times per week.

If you’re not sure how to start your own exercise program, visit North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss to view videos that will guide you through exercises that you can do at home.  Then watch the video below to find out more about osteoporosis prevention.


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Stay Fit and Healthy as You Age – Tips from Dara Torres

Dara Torres and Malia Frey at The Shed in Uptown

Dara Torres and Malia Frey at The Shed in Uptown

Swimmer Dara Torres has set records with her performances in the pool, but she is also setting a new standard for aging well.  Torres was the first U.S. swimmer to compete in five Olympics and at the age of 41 became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympics. In 2012, at the age of 45 she missed a spot on the US Olympic swimming team by a fraction of a second.  So how does the 46 year-old mom follow up this amazing career as an athlete? By aging well and creating a healthy life balance.

I sat down to talk to Torres at a spinning class that she taught at The Shed Fitness Studio in Uptown.  She was in town to promote Koss Fit Series headphones that she helped create.  The colorful FitClips and FitBuds are designed by women for women and are 33% smaller to fit comfortably in a woman’s ear.

New Attitude, New Workouts, New Diet

Torres still works out almost every day, but she is clear that her attitude about exercise has changed.  ““I used to train as my job and now I’m just training for life, so I’ve set a different standard for myself.”  For Dara, this means that she exercises to “get a good sweat” but she doesn’t obsess about her performance .  She likes to do cardio workouts, like spinning, and prefers aerobic workouts to lifting weights at the gym.

Torres’ eating habits have changed as well.  Since she doesn’t spend hours exercising, she isn’t as hungry anymore.  So, naturally, she eats less.  But I asked her if she counts calories or does anything special to maintain her world-famous swimmer’s body.  She said no.  “My body is always changing,” she says and explains that she is comfortable with the natural changes that happen with age.

Staying Motivated to Exercise

So now that there is no medal at stake, how does this Olympian stay motivated to exercise?  She says that listening to music is important. “I’ve listened to music during my workouts ever since I was in my teens and now it’s a necessary part of my routine.”

Torres is also inspired by her daughter and two “inherited” teens.  She says that being a mom changes your perspective.  At her last Olympic Games, for example, she says she didn’t feel as much pressure as some of the younger competitors.  “For them, this was going to be the most important thing that they’ve ever done.  But I had a two year-old to go home to.”

It’s clear that the healthy balance that Dara Torres has created for herself is paying off.  She is relaxed and confident but still looks exceptionally lean and fit.  It’s a good lesson for anyone who wants to age well; find what matters and let go of the rest to gain perspective and live a healthy life.

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

Are Short Workouts Better for Your Health?

If you read health magazines or follow health trends, you’ve probably seen stories about the benefits of short workouts. High intensity interval training is popular in health clubs right now and a new kind of workout called Tabata training is also getting a lot of attention. The workouts are appealing because they are short. But are they really better for your health?

Minimize Weight Gain in Less Time

A recent study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion evaluated data from nearly 5000 participants over three years. The researchers found that short high intensity bursts of activity were linked to a lower risk of obesity. This led study authors to conclude that hard mini workouts lasting ten minutes or less can be an effective form of weight gain prevention.

Are Mini Workouts Right for Me?

For most people, any increase in physical activity level is a good thing. But to reap the benefits of short high intensity workouts, you have to work at a difficulty level that may be too intense for some people. What’s the best way to find out? Speak to your health care provider. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you are healthy enough for vigorous activities like jogging or tennis. He may also be able to explain how an exercise program can improve your health, which might help you stick to your program.

Easiest Way to Eat Less When Dining Out

It’s hard to stick to your diet when you are dining in a restaurant.  Even if you are not trying to lose weight, just trying to get out the door without feeling too full can be challenging.  So what’s the easiest way to eat less when dining out?  Try to order (and eat!) smaller portion sizes.

What’s the Right Portion Size?

Use our guide to eat the right amount.

Use our guide to eat the right amount.

Ordering the right amount of food can be a tricky process.  For example, a restaurant may offer more than one size of the food that you like.  A menu description of spaghetti, for example, may list both an appetizer size and an entree size.  Most people would assume that the entree size is the amount that they should eat if they are eating that food as their main dish.  But in many cases that assumption is wrong.

Menu Descriptions Can Be Deceiving

A recent study conducted at Cornell University found that menu descriptions played a significant role in helping people to determine how much food to eat.  But those menu descriptions are not regulated and they shouldn’t be used when you’re deciding how much food to eat.  A “small” serving of pasta salad could easily have more calories than an “entree” sized serving of baked fish.

So what’s your best bet for smarter dining?  Use the North Memorial Guide for Estimating Food Portions.  Download the sheet and take it with you until you are familiar with the proper portion sizes of different foods.  If the food that you order is bigger than a single portion, ask your server to pack it up for later.

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

How to Find Hidden Sugar in Your Food

How much sugar do you consume?

How much sugar do you consume?

Did you read Tuesday’s blog post about the difference between good carbs and bad carbs?  In her video, Deb Vevea RD does a great job of explaining that we should limit our consumption of food that contain empty calories.  Those are often foods that contain a lot of added sugar and few nutrients.  The problem is that finding sugar in your food can be complicated.

Find Added Sugar in Your Food

The best way to find hidden sugar in your food is to look at the ingredients list on the package.  You’ll usually find this list below the Nutrition Facts label, but it can also be placed elsewhere on the package.  Manufacturers don’t always identify sugar with the term “sugar.”  This list, compiled by the USDA, provides a list of names that you might see.  All of these terms are simply other words for sugar.

Brown sugar Invert sugar
Corn sweetener Lactose
Corn syrup Maltose
Dextrose Malt syrup
Fructose Molasses
Fruit juice concentrates Raw sugar
Glucose Sucrose
High-fructose corn syrup Sugar
Honey Syrup

Which Foods Contain Added Sugar?

So where will you find added sugars?  Start by looking at soft drinks and other sweetened beverages.  But even if you are not a soda drinker, you should check the labels of your foods.  You’ll also find added sugar in many foods that you might not expect, like commercially prepared peanut butter and ketchup.

If you want to lose weight, or simple eat a healthier diet, reducing the amount of added sugar in your foods is one of the most important changes you should make.  If you’re not sure how much sugar you should consume each day, make an appointment with a registered dietitian to get a number that is personalized based on your health profile.

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

Bad Carbs vs. Good Carbs: How to Tell the Difference

Do you crave carbs?  You’ve probably seen headlines in magazines or online about the diet dangers of eating too many carbohydrates or eating the wrong kind of carbohydrates.  But how do you tell the difference? What makes some carbohydrates good and some carbohydrates bad?

As Deb Vevea, RD, explains in this video, there is really no such thing as a “bad carbohydrate.”  There are just carbs that we should choose to eat less of.  Watch her video as she explains which carbohydrates you should limit in your diet.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 12.37.40 PM

So what carbohydrates should you include in your diet?  Fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains all contain important vitamins and minerals along with healthy fiber.  Learn how to get more fresh produce in your diet to lose weight and improve your health.  You can also use these guides to learn more about the benefits of whole grains.

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

How to Set Up a Cheap Home Gym

Set up a cheap home gym. (source: alal/morguefile)

Set up a cheap home gym.
(source: alal/morguefile)

For many people, fall is a more reasonable time to make a fitness or weight loss resolution.  The kids are back in school and the change in temperatures helps us to focus on healthy eating and physical activity.  In Minnesota, we also start to think about exercising indoors.

In the coming months, colder temperatures may prevent you from exercising outside.  So now is the time to think about other options.  If you choose not to join a gym, you can set up a fitness center in your home with just a few simple tools.  This video from the American College of Sports Medicine provides simple advice for some products to consider.


Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to set up a fitness plan that works.  Visit local Twin Cities stores like Marathon Sports to get expert advice and proper shoe fitting for running or walking shoes.  And stores like 2nd Wind have used and new exercise equipment for a range of budgets.

If you are new to exercise, talk to your primary care provider to get guidelines for the kinds of exercise that can improve your health.  You can also visit North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss to check out videos that will guide you through the basics of cardiovascular training, strength training and learning how to stretch.  You’ll also find a list of websites and exercise programs that are well suited for exercisers who have limited mobility.