Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘Forks Over Knives’ Category

All healthy fats step forward- not so fast trans fat

By Nicki On November 9, 2013 4 Comments

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It was almost 20 years ago when I started reading about the dangers of consuming foods containing trans fat. I was raised in the age of Crisco and fake butters. My Grandmother used Crisco freely knowing that as long as it was homemade it was good for you. That’s what the ads said, so it must be true.

This week the FDA made it official, trans fats are in fact bad for your health. Well, it’s preliminary, so we’ll have to wait for a solid decision. ‘sigh’

By the time I started studying nutrition, I discovered some of the foods that I fed my children were in fact harmful to their health. Wait,  you mean to tell me that fruit roll-ups aren’t made with real fruit? And, McDonalds isn’t serving my family good-for-you foods? Outrageous I tell you!

Yep, when I started digging in to the truth behind the foods being  pushed, advertised and promoted to our country and kids, I was shocked. I couldn’t understand how it was o.k. to push food that clearly caused heart disease, obesity and diabetes. I understand all too well now, M-O-N-E-Y.

Given that smoking (though it took years) is finally  recognized as dangerous and banned in restaurants and the workplace, it seems foods that cause death and disease should have the same red flags. But you know and I know there’s not only money to be made in the world of food, the pharmaceutical companies are making out like bandits.

Do you know that the United States and New Zealand are the only two countries that advertise prescription drugs on television and in magazines?  And we wonder why prescription drugs are so ridiculously expensive. Don’t blame the pharmacies, blame the big advertising pharmaceutical budgets.

Any way, back to trans fats. So this week, the FDA as made a preliminary decision that a major source of trans fats– partially hydrogenated oils– is no longer “generally recognized as safe.” Apparently, if the preliminary decision is deemed final, than foods cannot contain partially hydrogenated oils without approval.  In  my humble opinion, if a food is not safe, what would ever constitute approval?

Healthy fats supporting good health.

Healthy fats supporting good health.

If you look at any snack food, basically anything in a box, anything processed it will contain trans fat. And beware of labels touting “No Trans fats” as there is a formula that companies can get away with and still use trans fat.  Although over the last few years, manufacturers and restaurants have  made small strides in reducing trans fats in their food, it’s still out there and it’s still a health concern.

I have to go back to what I’ve been preaching for a long time. The closer your food is to nature, the healthier it will be for you. Frozen fruits and veggies are fine for those that don’t have access to fresh.  And there are plenty of healthy options for busy, on-the-go people.

Read your labels and start cutting out processed foods in your diet. The truth is that our country, a very advanced, smart country is extremely  unhealthy. Poor diet is the norm. After 30 years in the fitness industry, I saw the bodies of women change. I saw their health issues change and I feel very strongly that it was mostly food related.

Just like smoking, the truth is finally coming out about trans fat.  For years the nutrition experts have warned against consuming trans fats and they were dismissed as fanatics.

When things sound too good to be true, they often are. “Eat all you want and don’t gain weight.  Cookies that are only 10 calories each! 100 calorie snack packs.”  All of those likely carry trans fats and are not a natural source of food that your body can digest and utilize properly.

There are some great websites to learn more about healthy nutrition. Remember, changing your diet doesn’t mean deprivation. It  means paying attention to the foods that work well with your body and make you stronger and healthier. The current American diet only serves to weaken our body and house disease. You can be a catalyst for change not only for yourself but for future generations.

What do you think?

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!

Nicki

 


Weight Loss Season Hype- Don’t Get Sucked In

By Nicki On April 8, 2013 8 Comments

WEIGHT_BS_WEIGHT_LOSS_LANE.jpg.w300h247“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” This quote is from a very famous 1976 movie called, Network.  I was a teen when this came out and I recall seeing Peter Finch brilliantly deliver that famous line as Howard Beale. Now it’s my turn to use it.

It’s April, spring is a comin’ and with that comes the excess of weight loss ads. Even on my Facebook page there’s a push for a green tea bean and how to burn 30 lbs of belly fat per month effortlessly.  It’s killing me. Quite honestly, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Right around the time Peter Finch was given his Academy award for his role as Howard Beale, I entered the health and fitness industry. I was four. 🙂

Although awareness about obesity has certainly increased,  obesity back in 1976 was 8.7%., and today it is 34.7% . Obesity and its related diseases costs our country 190 billion dollars in healthcare and lost productivity. Yet, health clubs and diet programs grow in popularity right along with the American waistline.

The thing that leaves me scratching my head is why those that desperately need health clubs don’t go. Given my experience from a personal and professional perspective, I can answer that question, intimidation, unrealistic expectations, fear, feeling out of place, indifference from staff and lack of the truth. Now before my health and fitness friends shout at me, there are a number of very honest, ethical health and fitness professionals and clubs I admire. I just wish there were more. However, with every great, honest health and fitness pro, there are 5 behind him or her waiting to push the latest fad diet, supplements and God knows what else.

I was in business for 20 years doing everything I could to educate, motivate and inspire my clients to get healthy the old fashioned way. I hope I made a difference to some. But, thanks to The Biggest Loser and uneducated fitness pro’s that promise 20 pounds in 20 days, my honesty and real life approach was trumped all the time.

So who’s fault is it that our country still battles the bulge and opts for medication over recreation? It’s both sides.    weightloss

  • Consumers have got to know at this point that anything that sounds too good to be true- is.
  • Consumers have to know that it starts with taking a long, hard look at lifestyle and realizing that things have to change, not overnight, but change must occur.
  • Consumers have to know that beating yourself up mentally and physically is NOT the way to achieve good health, it’s quite the opposite.
  • Consumers need to know that there are health and fitness professionals out there actually interested in helping clients go through the process, safely and effectively so that weight loss isn’t temporary but sustainable.
  • Consumers have to understand, work is involved and at times it’s hard. Then it simply becomes a question of whether or not you’re ready. If anyone tells you weight loss is easy,  they’re lying.
  • Health and Fitness clubs have got to know that for someone walking in to a health club overweight and out of shape, it is terribly intimidating. Please have someone working the front end that gets it, not someone who is bored with their job and intolerant of incoming guests.
  • Health and fitness clubs need to welcome and respect those that can’t withstand an initial hour-long class that includes squats and lunges as their first class.  (I see this all the time).
  • Health and fitness professionals have got to denounce the fast-n-easy weight loss scams out there, stick together and create an alliance for ethical health and fitness practices.
  • Health and fitness professionals can play an amazing role in the health and wellness of our country as long as they understand what the deconditioned client needs to be motivated and ultimately successful. It’s got to be a solid partnership.
  • Health and fitness professionals have an obligation to put clients first and “do no harm.”  Check out IDEA’s Code of Ethics.

I have to say, I dread this time of year as much as I do December, resolution season. Weight loss adverts ad nauseam.

If you’re currently frustrated because you didn’t stick to your goals, don’t be, 98% of people don’t. Instead be more realistic. Don’t buy in to the promises of fast and easy weight loss, thinner thighs in thirty days because aside from all those promises it’s really about you and your health. The only reason you should change your lifestyle if you’re currently inactive or dealing with excess weight is y our health, period. I’ve kept 50 pounds off for over 30 years, not because I’m a rock star but because I remember what it felt like to carry that extra weight and I know what my body feels like now, it’s a marked improvement. At almost 52, I’m medication free.

Save yourself money and frustration. If you need help getting on track and staying there, hire a qualified professional that doesn’t make ridiculous promises. Find someone who puts your health first.

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If you remember nothing else when those crazy weight loss commercials come on, remember these three things:

1. If diets worked, obesity would be non-existent.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. The only way to get yourself healthy for the long-term is find a way to move everyday, even if it starts with a walk around the block, and focus on eating less food with more nutritional value.
3. It’s weight loss season and the hype is here, don’t get sucked in.

Here’s to a healthy spring and a healthy you.

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!

Nicki

 


Wanna Lose Weight? Check Out Your Local Farmers Market

By Nicki On June 5, 2012 No Comments

How I love the first Farmer's Market of summer!

For years, I’ve been telling people that weight loss is a byproduct of lifestyle, period. Yet many continue to jump on the latest diet trend in hopes of finding the miracle that once and for all melts unwanted fat and delivers the ideal body. Though intellectually people know that’s never going to happen, emotionally it’s a wish many still make every day.

I have always touted whole foods as the secret to a healthy weight. Even with my first book over 10 years ago, I gave the same advice then as I do today; in order to achieve a healthy weight,  you need to consider moderate portions of whole, REAL foods.

We have discovered through many studies and personal experience, that excess weight comes from so much of the processed foods we eat. Folks continue to be sucked in by confusing labels that promote, “All natural, gluten-free, fat-free, calorie-free,” it doesn’t matter, they’re likely garbage.

One of the great things about dabbling in the world of health and wellness is that there is always something new, and very often fleeting. For example, remember oats back in the 90’s as being the secret to weight loss? Fat-free in the 80’s? Yet here we are, still battling with our weight and hoping that the miracle that comes along will be fast, easy, painless and permanent.

Will something like that ever happen? As a  matter of fact, it’s something that’s been around forever, it’s just that diets are far more glamorous and make the truth far less attractive. The truth, real food. Yep, whole, natural food. No boxes no wrappers, no nothin’, simply whole, real foods. And there’s no better time than summer to experiment, and check out the vast selection of these amazing, natural foods that are kind to your body and your waistline.

As summer kicks in, Farmers Markets are opening and gaining in popularity. Farmers Markets are a wonderful way for small family farms to connect with their community, share their bounty of beautiful, fresh and in some instances, organic produce. I can promise you that the moment you choose to exchange your processed, diet foods for the real thing, change will happen. Your body will thank you for giving it what it needs by losing extra weight and operating in a more energetic way.

Nothing more beautiful than summer harvest!

However, no matter how healthy food is, quantity is still to be noted. I like to follow my Q2 rule, quality and quantity. Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean I should eat enough to feed 2 families. Part of being healthy is being kind to your body which includes not overeating.

If you’ve struggled with achieving a weight you’re happy with, why not support your local farmers while supporting your health? There’s nothing better than a meal full of fresh vegetables to make your body love you.  And the best part of all, you’ll likely love your body back.

 

Here’s to your health!

Nicki


Dissecting Diets

By Nicki On March 11, 2012 4 Comments

 

I admit, my first attempt at weight loss as an overweight teen was a diet. In fact, it was Weight Watchers.  However, back in 1978, WW was significantly different. It really wasn’t a “diet” like we know today, it was an education in healthy eating, a healthy diet. For the first time in years, I abstained from eating fast food, started moving more and ate fruits and vegetables every day. Since that time, weight loss strategies and the ridiculous number of fast-n-easy diets has dramatically changed people’s relationship with food. Instead of discovering how food can work with their body, many people are fighting weight loss and food has become their weapon of choice.

As a senior in high school, I was 50 pounds heavier and on a 5’2″ frame, that’s just not healthy. I knew by how I felt, how I performed each day that something wasn’t right. To be honest, it wasn’t so much how I looked, but more about  how I felt. Today, it’s all about how we look, how thin we are and health has taken a back seat. I look at movie stars, models and even reality stars and thin is the new black. The truth is that not everyone is meant to be skinny, and I mean skinny, not thin, Hollywood, Angelina Jolie thigh skinny. And women (and some men) buy into that look as a goal to shoot for. So, they jump on the latest diet that promises to slim your thighs, harden your abs, whittle your waist and remove cellulite.  And because of the pressure to meet the expectations of an unrealistic culture, we diet, over and over and over again all in an effort to be- skinny.

Over the last few years, I have become more and more interested in nutrition, how what we eat affects our body as well as our environment. I’ve been fascinated to read the evolution of nutrition over the years. Oddly enough, instead of our country creating amazing, healthy foods to make us smarter and leading edge, we’ve excelled in fast-food restaurants and processed food leaving us all unhealthy and overweight. We see high numbers of obesity, schools cutting out physical education and more and more kids being diagnosed with things never heard of 30 years ago. When I was in grade school, no one had allergies. Maybe one or two kids had asthma.  ADD? Autism? ADHD? It was unheard of then.

As my interest in nutrition has grown, so has the way I fuel my body.  And the funny thing is I find myself changing and becoming more and more interested in listening to and trusting what my body needs to perform optimally. The way I eat is not designed to help me become thin, not skinny but healthy.  Diets that I have reviewed over the years have one goal, to cause weight loss and longevity is irrelevant. These programs figure if they get people to lose weight once, they’ll come back. because they believed it worked before. Hmmm.  Over and over and over again, people fall in to the diet trap striving for skinny, to achieve what they perceive to be normal.  If only we could rise above the hold that diets clearly have on the 70 million Americans that diet each year.

I recently wrote an article on Plant Based Nutrition. I am a believer. Not only am I believer, I am gradually changing my lifestyle to accommodate more of a plant based diet, not weight loss, health based. Why? Because it’s more along the lines of how my ancestors ate and given the way our environment is constantly compromised, I want to select my foods based on how kind the food is to my body and to the earth.  When I’m buying organic simply because it’s organic and dismissing the fact that it was sent here from Mexico or Chile, what kind of carbon imprint is that leaving? Further, how does the nutrition diminish during lengthy transportation? Wouldn’t it make better sense to buy locally even if not necessarily organic? We’ve confused organic with earth and health smart, not always the case.

Imagine if more people took up gardening and learned to eat seasonally vs. expecting perfect produce in the off season. Imagine how differently you would view food if you didn’t have to decipher ingredients on the side of a box that looked more like hieroglyphics versus real food.  Eating for health truly is the key to ridding yourself of diets and hanging on to a healthy, strong body.

I believe it’s time to walk away from the world of diets that does nothing to encourage healthy eating options, simply calorie focus. It’s time to realize that if diets were great, obesity and disease would decline, not the case. Getting back to basics with a focus on plant based nutrition, locally grown produce, small farms we can support,  we will not only find a wonderful difference in the health of our body, we will discover a great way to positively impact our environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to your health!

Nicki


The Food Puzzle

By Nicki On May 15, 2011 No Comments

After close to 30 years of studying nutrition, I find we are no closer to a clear understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. So many agendas, so much money to be made, so many opinions, it makes it rather tough for the average American to clearly understand what the truth is when it comes to a healthy diet.  I had a couple new clients this week and all of them echoed the same concerns, “I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, what’s the truth?”  Given that I am not an R.D. I’m mindful of how much information I feel comfortable sharing with my clients, so I often provide websites for clients to visit. That way, they can form their own opinions about what makes sense to them and their lifestyle. But in my years as a fitness professional, I have learned a lot and here of some of the lessons I have learned.

1. We eat too much, period. Further, we eat too much of the wrong things. We have gotten away from whole, fresh foods as the norm and ended up with boxed, processed foods as the new norm. Our foods are loaded with ingredients we can’t pronounce, along with a surplus of sugar, fat and sodium.  With the explosion of “diet food” and trends, we are led to believe that something like “100 calorie packs” are healthy for us, when it fact, it’s simply a smaller amount of processed food and questionable ingredients.  The goal should be to get as close to natural and whole food as we possibly can. It’s supply and demand, the more we seek out whole foods, the greater the likelihood of them being more readily available.Unfortunately, there is far more money to be made in processed foods that have a long shelf life.

2. All too often people confuse dieting with eating healthy, that’s not always the case. Some diets offer pre-prepared boxed foods. Weight loss programs don’t focus on quality of food, simply quantity. The truth is anyone can lose weight if they cut down the amount of food they’re eating, but if you’re eating a snickers bar because it has less calories than an avocado, you’re missing the point. Sustainable weight loss comes from focusing on quality and quantity. Reassessing what you’re eating, how you can improve the quality of the food you’re eating while reducing the quantity. It’s a common held belief that if food is “healthy” you don’t have to worry about how much you eat. Our country has become obsessed with “how much can I get away with eating without gaining weight?”  Not a good approach. The better approach is “How can I learn to eat well, feel well and sustain those healthy habits?”  But diets perpetuate the misconceptions and as long as people are losing weight (even though it’s often temporary), they don’t question it.

3. We are a powerhouse country, we are well-educated yet our country is suffering from staggering numbers of health maladies as a result of poor nutrition and inactivity.  Even worse, for the lower income families their options of fresh fruits and veggies are limited. We make it easier and more affordable to go to McD’s and get a happy meal than to receive education on how to make great, healthy meals on a shoestring budget. It’s possible, but it’s not a money making proposition for large food manufacturers that mass produce “carbage.”  We are led to believe that with busier lives and less money, the only food we can afford (both in time and money is junk food), I beg to differ. Perhaps we need to spend more money on developing programs that teach options for healthy nutrition. ”

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

4. Parents think they’re doing their kids a favor by buying in to the highly commercialized boxed, processed foods. The truth is….I did it. I shudder to think that at one time I bought my kids junk snacks masked as “natural” including those fruit roll-ups things which barely pass as food. It wasn’t until I really started studying nutrition that I came to know that the fruit roll-ups were  made up of:  corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and a variety of artificial colors and o.k. pear concentrate. When I finally started studying what I was putting in to my child’s body, I stopped. My kids were not happy, but I certainly knew that in the long-run, it was what I needed to do to give my kids the best start possible. Just as we educate our kids about the dangers of smoking and drinking, so should we focus on educating them on healthy eating.

5. So much information so little time. Here’s the way I look at it, you can’t go wrong with whole foods, you just can’t. Granted there is the debate about organic vs. non-organic, I won’t go in to my thoughts on that now, but the bottom line is that the closer you can get to natural food, the better off you’re going to be, period. If I buy anything that is boxed or wrapped, I read the ingredients. If it has more than 3 ingredients that I can’t pronounce, I take a pass. We can take control of our health by taking control of what we put in our mouth. I don’t want my nutrition information coming from organizations that are funded by Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, General Mills, Mars, etc. how can the information be objective? Um, it’s not.

Here’s the bottom line. There’s no shortage of nutrition information out there. It’s hard to research because links often take you to places that are trying to pedal their wares. As stated earlier, I’m not an RD, I am simply passionate about seeing  the health of our country improve by educating kids and families properly. The sad truth is that if we don’t get a handle on this obesity issue due to poor nutrition and inactivity(nutrition being the biggest contributor), the future of our country will be weak at best.

Following are just a few of the websites I recommend.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!

Teri Gentes a Whole Self Health Lifestyle Wellness and Natural Nutrition Educator

Michael Pollan – Author of Omnivores Dilemma

How to find sustainable fruits and veggies in your community

Mark Bittman – Author of Food Matters, Food Matters Cookbook

Eric Schlosser- Author of Fast Food Nation

Morgan Spurlock – Author of  Don’t Eat This Book – Fast Food and the Super Sizing of America

Dr. Mark Occhipinti -President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates

Movies to check out – Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me

 

Here’s to Your Good Health,

Nicki