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8 Ways to Stay Motivated and Active this Fall
As the leaves fall and the temperature drops it is sometimes easy to make excuses to avoid working out. Here are some tips and strategies to overcome these obstacles and stay motivated and active this Fall.
  1. Sign-up for a Turkey Trot. A race is a great way to train and give yourself a goal to work hard to achieve. Also, you will feel less guilty about any Thanksgiving splurges. 
  2. Try a new group exercise class at your local LifeStart.
  3. Take a scenic bike ride in your local woods or bike trail.
  4. Raking leaves is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Burn some calories and complete a household chore.  
  5. Get  involved with friends in a indoor recreational league (basketball, volleyball, racquetball etc.). Having a commitment will allow yourself to block time out of your schedule to be active.
  6. Build your endurance by climbing stairs. Want a good challenge? Check out the Fight for Air Climb hosted by the American Lung Association (www.fightforairclimb.org).
  7. Find a workout buddy, because two is better than one. Having a workout buddy allows you to carpool, exchange workouts and motivate each other.
  8. The Holidays will be here before you know it. Try to promote good health by creating a healthy version of your favorite appetizer or dessert. 
September is National Childhood Obesity Month
According to the CDC, “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2012 more than one third of adolescents and and children were overweight or obese. The good news in most cases obesity is something that can be prevented. 
Ways To Prevent Childhood Obesity 
1) Encourage health eating habits: Provide children with vegetables, fruits and plenty of whole grain foods. 
2) Include low-fat or non-fat milk and dairy products. 
3) Limit sugar sweetened beverages, sugar, sodium and saturated fat. 
4) Serve reasonable size portions 
5) Remove calorie-rich temptations from kitchen. 
6) Dedicated a hour a day to being active with your kids. 
7) Limit children’s sedentary time (tv, internet, video games etc.) 
8) Be a positive role model 
Busting the Chocolate Milk Myth

The Myth: Recent Studies have shown that drinking chocolate milk after exercising is advantageous because of its protein content. Compared to plain milk, water or most sports drinks, it contains double the carbohydrate content, ideal for tired muscles. Its high water content replaces fluids lost from sweating and assists in preventing dehydration. In addition, it gives the body calcium, vitamin D, sodium and sugar, which help you retain water and regain energy.

The Facts: Chocolate milk is delicious so it’s not a hard-sell to convince many gym-goers, as well as hardcore athletes, that it’s an ideal post-workout beverage.

Research has shown that protein consumed shortly after a workout is better absorbed and used to repair and build muscles than protein before or at a more distal time from a workout. Chocolate milk contains protein. Chocolate milk also contains carbohydrate which is useful in post-workout recovery. It’s also a fluid so it can help with rehydration and is more easily consumed by those who find it difficult to eat shortly after a workout. The thing is, lots of foods contain protein and lots of foods contain carbohydrate and water is the best (and cheapest) way to hydrate.

The most widely cited article about chocolate milk and exercise recovery was Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid. Not surprisingly, this research was sponsored by the Dairy and Nutrition Council (red flag number one). The participants used in the study were all elite endurance athletes (red flag number two – will the results really be applicable to the average gym-goer?). The number of participants in the study was nine (red flag number three – that’s a very small sample size). Ignoring these red flags for a minute, the study focussed on a comparison of three recovery beverages: chocolate milk, a fluid replacement drink (like Gatorade), and a carbohydrate replacement drink (like CeraSport – never heard of it). They found that the athletes recovered better from exercise when they consumed the chocolate milk or the fluid replacement drink than they did when they consumed the carb replacement drink. However, they actually performed slightly better on the fluid replacement drink than they did on the chocolate milk. So, even if this was a great study (which it’s not based on the aforementioned red flags) it still only shows that chocolate milk is nearly as good as Gatorade in post exercise recovery for elite endurance athletes.
Another thing that’s important to note is that the vast majority of studies pushing the use of chocolate milk as a post workout recovery beverage examined athlete’s performance after having the recovery beverage shortly after an initial workout (basically two back-to-back workouts).

The Verdict: A serving of chocolate milk contains 6-10 teaspoons of sugar per serving. And most bottles of chocolate milk contain 2 servings—YIKES!  Chocolate milk is fine as an occasional treat, like cookies and chocolate bars. The truth is, if you exercise to lose weight and stay healthy, why consume a beverage with sugar and calories? You don’t need to replenish anything but water in your body after a normal workout. Water is best. So, what should you consume post workout? Plenty of water and a small snack that preferably contains both protein and carbohydrate or if it’s meal time and you can handle a full meal then just go ahead and eat that.

Let’s face it: Everyone blows his or her calorie budget every now and then. But forget that old saying, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips.” You can get your eating back on track. Here’s how.

First, Relax

You need some perspective.

It takes 3,500 calories to gain one pound of body fat. One unplanned treat — a slice of cake, some fries, or even a rich meal — probably won’t make a major difference on the scale.

No one is perfect in their eating habits. What we have to learn, is that we are giving ourselves permission to do this, and as soon as it’s over, we should go back to the eating plan we normally follow. The goal is to not make a habit of it.

Most people overeat somewhere between 500 and 1,500 calories every single day!

Don’t Give Up

Too often people give up on their healthy eating plan after a splurge. You may feel defeated and say, ‘Oh, I blew my diet … and the heck with it.

When you do overindulge, don’t be self-deprecating. You overeat for one day; let’s get back on track again. Let’s be more conscious of our portion sizes the next day.

Cut Back a Bit, But Not Too Much

Don’t try to make up for the extra calories by skipping meals the next day. That just leaves you hungry.

Instead, cut  back throughout the day with a series of small meals packed with fruits and vegetables. Their fiber will help you feel full.

  • Wait until you’re hungry. Then have a light breakfast such as a bowl of low-fat yogurt and berries.
  • Mid-morning snack: a piece of fruit and an ounce of low-fat cheese
  • Lunch: a big salad with lean protein such as fish or chicken, or a whole wheat pita pocket with lettuce and tuna or turkey
  • Afternoon snack: a cup of vegetable soup and an orange
  • Dinner: a piece of fish and plenty of vegetables

Skip the Scale

After a feast, you may weigh more. That’s not because you gained body fat, but because of water retention from extra salt that was in the food you ate. So don’t weigh yourself. Wait until Friday, when you’re likely to weigh the least, since people tend to overindulge more often on the weekends.

Stick to Your Normal Exercise Routine

Exercise is a good idea. But don’t do a mega-workout to try to burn off all the calories you just ate. If you overload and do more than your regular routine, you could strain a muscle, you could hurt a joint. So muscle soreness may set in. Then you can’t exercise.

Track What You Eat

Set a goal for your daily calories, and write down what you eat. That helps you stay aware of what you’re eating.

"You have to be conscious every time your hand goes from a plate to your mouth.”

ALS-What Is It?

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and it is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. ALS has been getting a lot of media attention lately, due to the introduction of the Ice Bucket Challenge to Strike Out ALS. The word “amyotrophic” comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative, “myo” means muscle, and “trophic” means nourishment-so basically, the word means no muscle nourishment. “Lateral” identifies the areas in the spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As the disease progresses, this area degenerates and leads to hardening (sclerosis) of the region. When motor neurons degenerate they can no longer messages to the muscles. This results in loss of muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially in arms and legs, speech, swallowing, and breathing. These muscles then get smaller (atrophy) due to lack of use, which results in limbs looking thinner. Late stages of the disease cause the limbs to be totally paralyzed. There is no cure for ALS, but there is a drug that slows the progression of the disease.

                The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been taking over all outlets of social media. Everyone, from celebrities to politicians has been getting in on it. If you are nominated for the challenge, you either donate to the ALS Association or dump a bucket of ice water over your head. Most people have been doing both the challenge and donating. So why a bucket of ice water? Dumping ice water over your head causes your muscles to paralyze for a split second, thus giving you some insight into what it is like to have ALS. The challenge has been extremely successful-not only in raising awareness, but they have also raised over $4 million dollars! If you are nominated, we hope that you participate in the challenge and make a donation to www.alsa.org!


Christine Giorgetti, BS, HFS

“Selfies”-Addiction or Disorder?

In society today, it is totally normal to see a person with their arm extended in front of them, holding a camera phone and smiling. The “selfie” craze has really taken off in the past decade with the introduction of smart phones with front-facing cameras. Everyone, from celebrities to politicians, has jumped on the selfie bandwagon. Kim Kardashian just announced that she will be publishing a book of her selfies, entitled “Selfish”, which contains a staggering 352 selfies the reality star has taken. There has been a lot of discussion in the news regarding selfies, and even a faked article stating that the American Psychology Association had officially classified taking selfies as a mental disorder. Even though that is untrue, it got people wondering whether it COULD be true.

                Some people have gone as far as to say that taking selfies is an addiction, however, a lot of people in the psychology world think that calling selfies an addiction does a disservice to people who are truly suffering from an addiction. Rather, they’ve suggested that selfies can help diagnose an underlying disorder, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that arise from different obsessions. An example would be someone who is obsessed with germs may develop a compulsive need to wash their hands repeatedly. People with BDD become preoccupied with a minor or imaginary flaw in their appearance that can dominate their thoughts to such an extent that they are unable to conduct their lives normally. Psychologists have reported that since the rise of selfies, repeated self-portraits have become a common symptom of people with both BDD and OCD. They use social media to seek attention and approval through posts. This can be dangerous, and if it gets out of hand, could cause other issues such as depression or anxiety if people in the internet make negative comments.

                So is taking selfies a disorder? Not yet. Could it be detrimental to mental or sometimes physical health? Absolutely. Instead of focusing on selfies being the main issue, the focus should be on any underlying disorder that can be treated.



Christine Giorgetti, BS, HFS

Four Exercises to Replace
  1. Crunches: The lumbar spine is meant to be stable-not mobile. Consistently flexing your spine in the crunch movement is dangerous! According to Ben Greenfield, a strength and conditioning coach and sports nutritionist, “Performing the crunching motion can put a lifetime of damaging strain on your back. Imagine your spine as a credit card. Repeatedly flexing and extending the card will eventually lead to wearing out of the card, just like it would on your spine”. Try substituting with anti-rotation and anti-flexion movements for the core such as planks, dead bugs, and Farmer’s Walks.
  2. Behind-The-Head Lat Pulldown: This exercise is classified by the ACSM as contraindicated, meaning it is dangerous! According to celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza, “this behind-the-neck lat pulldown done on gym equipment requires you to have very flexible shoulders. If you don’t you can impinge your shoulder and suffer pain in your rotator cuff”. Try pulling the bar down in front of the shoulders. This will still work the lats, but in a safer way.
  3. Leg Extension Machine: Machines are not always one-size fits all as they are marketed-often, you aren’t able to perform the given exercise from a natural position. The leg extension machine uses a non-functional movement (a movement we don’t replicate in our daily lives). According to Alena Hall, certified personal trainer, “it places more stress than necessary on the back of the kneecap, which can cause problems for anyone with existing knee pain”. To work the quads PLUS other muscles in the leg and core, try substituting squats, step-ups, wall-sits, or split squats to your workout!
  4. The Smith Machine: Due to the single plane of motion the Smith Machine provides, the machine does all of the balancing and stabilizing for you. This means it does not allow you to recruit the smaller muscles, which takes away from the functionality of the exercises. Continuing to use the Smith Machine will result in getting very strong in one specific plane of motion, which can lead to overuse injuries. Exercise physiologist Alison Peters suggests learning proper form with free weights. “The smooth balance and fixed motion can make you believe you can lift more weight than you should be. Go from squatting in a Smith Machine to picking up something heavy from the floor, and you can seriously injure yourself. Learn with free weights and build up to heavier weight safely and with the appropriate amount of time”.


Christine Giorgetti, BS, HFS

Why is a strong core important?

In order to understand the core we must first understand the anatomy of the muscles involved and what exactly they do.  There are several muscles that make up the Core, in this article we will discuss two of them.  The muscles are the Transverse Abdominus and the Internal Obliques.  These muscles are the two inner most layers of the core and help protect the spine in all three planes of movement. 

            The most important of these muscles is the Transverse Abdominus or the TA.  The TA is the innermost muscle of your abdominals which wraps around your body and connect directly to the spine.  This muscle is so important because if an individual has a weak TA, they have a weak spine, which means a person is more prone to back pain and even injury.  Exercises to strengthen the TA include Standing Shoulder Press, Front Shoulder Raise, Crunches and Sit-Ups.

            The next muscle to discuss is the Internal Obliques.  This muscle is located on both sides of your abdominals and aids in twisting motions.  Just like the TA, this muscle connects directly to the spine and helps protect it while performing movements in the transverse plane.  Since most of the movements that we do in life are in this plane, it makes this muscle a crucial part of our cores foundation.  Exercises that can be done to strengthen the Internal Obliques include Wood –Chops, Ab Roller, Physio Ball Crunch and Side Planks.

Gluten-Free Does Not Equal Guilt-Free

Going gluten-free has become the newest diet fad within the past few years. Supermarkets have capitalized on this, and now offer almost everything gluten-free. But are gluten-free cupcakes healthier for you than regular cupcakes? Not necessarily!

                For people with a diagnosed gluten intolerance, gluten-free diets are lifesaving. But for people who are not sensitive to gluten, simply trading wheat products for gluten-free versions doesn’t mean you’re eating healthier. Gluten-free products still contain sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and are usually made from potato or corn starch, which are high in carbohydrates. Gluten-free does NOT mean calorie free, carb free, or fat free! A better trade-off is to eat ancient grains, such as quinoa and millet, instead of wheat, and increase your veggie intake. Here are some other tips on how to be gluten-free the healthy way:

  1. Read the labels on products carefully
  2. Avoid gluten-free packaged desserts as most of these contain 400+ calories and 6-7 tsp of sugar per serving! Instead, have fresh fruit to crave a sweet tooth
  3. Experiment with different ancient grains to make your own bread. Avoid the pre-packaged bread.
  4. Incorporate more whole, fresh foods and avoid the processed products. Eat more vegetables, legumes, and protein
  5. Be sure to see your doctor if you think you have a gluten intolerance so that you can get proper care and guidance


Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS


Quinoa or as I call it, Keen-WOW is the superfood of the day, the month, the year. This bad boy was “the mother of all grains” when it was first cultivated over 5000 years ago and it has gained its popularity back most recently. The most common types of quinoa available in stores are white, red and black.

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains:

  • Iron
  • B-vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin E
  • Fiber

Quinoa is also an excellent source of protein and has a high protein to carb ratio compared to other grains.

FUN FACT: NASA nominated Quinoa to be an ideal food for long space flights

Possible Health Benefits

Consuming 2-3 servings per day can help decrease risk of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Colon cancer
  • Obesity

Recommended serving size: 48 grams (3 servings of 16 grams)

Quinoa is versatile and can be used as a breakfast grain, hot or cold side or even in burgers. You can even drink Quinoa. Sky is the limit with this super grain. Try this simple sweet recipe from Wholefoods


  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 2 cups unsweetened soymilk
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 TBS packed light brown sugar
  • ½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract

Place quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Drain well. Return quinoa to saucepan and add soymilk, apples, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender, add vanilla and puree until smooth. Serve hot.

Nutritional Info:

Per Serving:170 calories (30 from fat), 3.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 65mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 15g sugar), 7g protein

-Dairy free, Low Sodium, Vegan, Vegetaria

Exercise as a Treatment for Depression

For a long time, it’s been thought that exercise can help relieve symptoms of depression. It is known that exercise increases endorphins. Endorphins improve natural immunity, reduce the perception of pain, and may also improve mood. It is also thought that exercise stimulates norepinephrine which could also help improve mood. Paired with the other health benefits of exercise, such as lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease, and boosting self-esteem, exercise can be just as helpful in fighting depression as medication can.

                In a 1999 study, 156 men and women were divided into three groups-one group took part in an exercise program, one group took the SSRI Zoloft, and one group did both. After 16 weeks, depression had decreased in all three groups. This suggested that it may not be necessary to take drugs for depression. A lot of people would prefer to stay off drugs, so they can use exercise to help alleviate their symptoms. While anti-depressants work faster than exercise, a follow-up to the study showed that exercise’s effects lasted longer than those of anti-depressants. Researchers checked in with 133 of the original patients 6 months after the study ended. They found that those who exercised regularly after completing the study, regardless of the treatment they were on during the study, were less likely to relapse back into depression.

                Depression is not an exact science, and it affects everyone differently. The actual intensity or duration you need to exercise to help alleviate symptoms is not clear. For general health and well-being, experts suggest a half-hour of moderate exercise on all or most days of the week.


Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS

Hit 10,000 Steps a Day!

Trying to burn some extra calories throughout the day? It might be a good idea to count your steps. Aim for 10,000 steps per day!

Here are some simple ways to incorporate more steps in your daily activity.

  1. Avoid the front row parking spot and pick a farther spot.
  2. Do an extra lap around the grocery store when purchasing your weekly groceries.
  3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
  4. At work try to incorporate walking meetings instead of sitting down.
  5. Feelings stressed? Go for a walk through your neighborhood to clear your head.
  6. If you have kids that walk to school, try joining them for the walk.
  7. Enjoy shopping? The mall is a great place to get in extra steps during the weekend and it’s free!
  8. Encourage co-workers to walk during lunch breaks.
  9. Try out a Group exercise class at your LifeStart facility.
  10. Catch up on some good music during a nice walk on the treadmill.
  11. Find a fun race (5k, mud run, 10k etc.) to train for.
  12. Every time you get up for a drink at work do an extra lap around the office.
  13. When you’re watching television perform 20 jumping jacks during commercials.
  14. If you get a phone call try to walk while you are talking.
  15. Take your dog for a walk, dogs need steps too J


Obesity in the United States

It’s no secret that obesity is a growing problem in the United States today. By 2030, 13 states are projected to have adult obesity rates above 60 percent. Obesity is affecting adults and children alike. As of 2012, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity was $147 billion in 2008. For people who are obese, their individual medical costs were $1,429 higher than costs for people who are a normal weight. And that is just for adults!

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, and in 2012 more than one-third of adolescents and children were overweight or obese. Obesity has immediate and long term health effects. Immediate effects include high cholesterol and high blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular disease; pre-diabetes; and greater risk of bone and joint problems. There is also an increased risk of many different types of cancer.

Luckily, obesity can be prevented. Healthy lifestyle habits for both children and adults can lower the risk of becoming obese. This includes healthy eating and physical activity. Starting children in physical activity young will help them stay healthy as they enter adolescence and adulthood.