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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.




Detox diets are a HOT trend especially in the summer by giving hope of shedding a few pounds and showing off that beach bod. However, detoxing may not be as great as it’s hyped up to be. Losing weight is more likely than not because detox diets are very low calorie but gaining the weight back is high. Here’s why to don’t-tox:

Potential side effects: low-calorie diets do not provide adequate energy to keep your body moving along. Detox diet side effects may include low energy, low blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue and nausea

Dehydration: Summers hot and so are you. Sweating is inevitable and dehydration goes along with that. Colon cleansing is recommended with detoxes and typically flush you out so hydration is important.

Bowel problems: Detox diets may be fiber heavy, which may lead to bloating, gas, and possibly diarrhea which may be quite an inconvenience when you’re stuck in a meeting.

Packaged foods or meals: Some detox plans recommend herbs, pills, powders, enemas, and other forms of colon cleansing which can get pretty pricey.

Exercise: Exercising while detoxing is not required or recommended because of the insufficient calories. The diets do not provide enough energy and nutrients to recharge your muscles and could leave you fatigued. It can also deplete muscle mass which may increase injury rate and decrease metabolic rate.

Low FODMAP Diets

Gluten-free diets have become popular in recent years. What is not as widely known is that there are other things besides gluten that can cause the same symptoms that gluten is being blamed for. People who have actual gluten sensitivity, such as Celiac’s disease, will see results from eliminating gluten.  If you still have GI symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and diarrhea even after trying a gluten-free diet, then it might be time to try something else.

FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols. These are fermentable carbohydrates that are found in many foods, including dairy products (lactose), some fruits and vegetables, some grains such as wheat and rye (fructans), beans, some soy products, and some sweeteners such as honey, agave, and sugar alcohols (polyols). There is still a lot of research being done on why these FODMAPs affect some people differently than others; however, researchers at Monash University in Australia have found that a low FODMAP diet is effective in providing relief from GI symptoms in 3 out of 4 individuals.

 If you have symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramping, and constipation that were not relieved by a gluten-free diet, a low-FODMAP diet can be your next step. You can determine whether your symptoms are related to FODMAPs by trying the diet for 2-3 weeks and then slowly adding FODMAP foods one at a time back into your diet. In a journal, record which foods give you GI symptoms. These are the foods that are problematic for you. The diet takes a lot of planning and replacing high FODMAP foods with low FODMAP foods, but can be very beneficial in the long run.


Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS

According to scientists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, there are six dietary guidelines for cancer prevention, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Below, are some things you may want to consider during your weekly menu planning.

  1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.
  3.  Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
  4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
  5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer.
  6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several common forms of cancer.


For more information check out the full article at http://time.com/2841490/six-diet-guidelines-for-preventing-cancer/


The Power of Intervals

We have all heard the hype about HIIT (high intensity interval training), but what is it and what can it do for me?  HIIT simply means doing a high intensity activity followed by a resting period.  There are many workouts that incorporate intervals into their program such as CrossFit, Tabata, and even cycling classes.  Tabata, for example, uses a 20/10 system meaning you work for 20 seconds and get 10 seconds of rest.  This sequence lasts for 8 rounds which is a total of 4 minutes, and after this is complete, you get 2 minutes of rest.

HIIT training has not only been proven to be more effective at fighting fat, but it can also be done in a shorter amount of time.  The American Council of Exercise (ACE) did a study on Tabata training to see if it truly was better at burning fat than traditional steady state exercises.  They recruited 16 individuals between the ages of 20 and 47 and recorded their heart rate, blood lactate, and RPE (rate of perceived exertion) during the rest periods of the workout.  After performing a 5 minute warm-up, they did a 20 minute workout, followed by a 10 minute cool-down.

ACE found the participants reached an average of 86% their max heart rate, and reached an average RPE of 15.6 on a scale of 6-20.  They also burned between 240-360 calories in just 20 minutes, which is an average of 15 Kcal/min.  One researcher says that Tabata is trying to prove that you can burn more fat in a shorter period of time, given the intensity is high enough.

If you are a beginner exerciser, you should start off slower and at a lower intensity.  Tabata training is something that can be very dangerous if you do not already exercise on a regular basis.  You should also allow 48-72 hours to recover between exercise bouts. 

In conclusion, Tabata training has been shown to increase cardiovascular fitness, even if only performed for 4 minutes, however, greater results are shown doing it for the whole 20 minutes.  So whether your goal is to lose weight or maintain your current weight, intervals can help you get to your goals working out for a shorter period of time.  Here is the Tabata workout that was done in the experiment

Segment 1

  • High-knee Run
  • Plank Punch
  • Plank Punch
  • Side Skater

Segment 2

  • Jump Rope
  • In/Out Boat
  • Line Jumps
  • Push-ups

Segment 3

  • Burpees
  • Russian Twists
  • Squats
  • Lunges

Segment 4

  • Mt. Climbers
  • Push-ups
  • Split Squat
  • Box Jumps
Margherita Pizza Recipe


  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°), divided
  • 10 ounces bread flour (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil $
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup Basic Pizza Sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup small fresh basil leaves


    1. Pour 3/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and spoons; level with a knife. Add flour to 3/4 cup water; mix until combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and yeast in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add yeast mixture, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to flour mixture; mix 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; cover surface of dough with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate 24 hours.

    2. Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, 1 hour or until dough comes to room temperature. Punch dough down. Press dough out to a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured baking sheet, without raised sides, sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges to form a 1/2-inch border. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap.

    3. Position an oven rack in the lowest setting. Place a pizza stone on lowest rack. Preheat oven to 550°. Preheat the pizza stone for 30 minutes before baking dough.

    4. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Sprinkle dough with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread Basic Pizza Sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange cheese slices evenly over pizza. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide. Bake at 550° for 11 minutes or until the crust is golden. Cut pizza into 10 wedges, and sprinkle evenly with basil.

Before and Happily Ever After


Carbohydrates are needed to fuel you and your workouts. Food should not be eaten right before a workout because the body and muscles need to concentrate on getting stronger; not breaking down a pizza you ate 15 minutes prior. Try fueling up before a workout about 1-3 hours.


  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  • Greek Yogurt and Trail Mix
  • Oatmeal and fresh fruit
  • Apple wedges and almond butter

TIP: A prework meal should include both carbohydrates and protein. The carbs serve as fuel to maximize the workout and the protein rebuilds and repairs the muscles.


As soon as you’re done running on the treadmill, run and get carbs and protein into your body ASAP. The carbs replenish the glycogen that was used during the workout and protein repairs and rebuilds muscles. Dietitians suggest fueling up within 15 to 20 minutes after working out with a 3:1 carb to protein such as Chocolate Milk. Then, eating a regular meal 3 to 4 hours post workout.


15-20 minutes after

  • Recovery smoothie (made with low-fat milk and fruit)
  • Low fat chocolate milk

3 to 4 hours after

  • Veggie omelet with avocado
  • Grilled chicken and mixed vegetables
  • Salmon with sweet potatoes
FireWork Safety

Fireworks have become a tradition for the 4th of July holiday in America. While many people prefer the commercial fireworks shows, the use of consumer fireworks has become more and more popular. Using fireworks can be safe if certain common sense rules are followed. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that there have been 9,600 fireworks related injuries since 2011. Injuries can be avoided with adult supervision and basic safety steps. Here are some tips for using fireworks this season:

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source
  • Always use fireworks as directed on the label-never alter the products
  • Observe local laws and use good common sense
  • Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family’s show
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Do not drink alcohol while shooting fireworks
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks
  • Always have water ready when you are shooting fireworks
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in a trash can
  • Report illegal explosives to the police or fire department

Follow these rules and have a safe and happy 4th of July!


Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS

July: National Picnic Month

In honor of National Picnic Month here are some tips for creating healthy and delicious sandwiches for you and your family.

Bread: Try to choose 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain bread to give your sandwich some nutrients. Be careful of the bread calories, try to look for bread that is around 80 calories per slice. Most grocery stores carry whole grain pita bread, sandwich flats and wraps that are 100 calories per serving.

Spreads: Beware of the hidden calories in sandwich spreads such as dressings, mayonnaise, oils etc. For a healthy option try yogurt dressings, nut butter, mustard, hummus, mashed avocados or salsa. These healthy options are lower in calories and provide healthy fats.

Add a healthy protein: Lean proteins such as turkey, grilled skin-less chicken, ham, tofu or tuna canned in water are great sandwich options. It is important to add lean meats in moderation (one slice=1 oz.). Lean proteins take longer to leave your stomach keeping you full for a longer period of time.  

Toppings: Pile on the fruits and veggies to make your healthy sandwich more taste worthy. Adding greens such as spinach and lettuce will give your sandwich a nice crunch. Roasted peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes will add some extra flavor.


Drinking Safely in the Summer

“1 out of 2 water recreation deaths of teens and adults involve the use of alcohol” –National Institute of Health

With the holiday weekend coming up it is important to be extremely careful if you are drinking in the hot sun and if you are intoxicated around the water. As you know, drinking de-hydrates the body, effects balance, and decreases the ability to make safe choices. Here are a couple basic tips to be safe when enjoying your time off

  1. Stay hydrated and drink water every other drink. When you are constantly sweating and consuming alcohol our bodies lose a ton of water. Alcohol inhibits the hormone commonly called ADH. ADH is responsible for reabsorbing water into the blood stream and without it, we lose more than we realize. To ensure your body is getting enough water, make sure to have water in between glasses of wine or beer.
  2. Even on the boat, be sure to have a designated driver. The NIH claims that accidental death in a boating accident increases 16 times for people driving boats with a BAC of over .1. Be sure to have a DD to ensure the safety of the driver and those on board.
  3. Be careful on the road. With people traveling to lake houses and vacation destinations they may be unsure to where they are going or towing a camper or boat. One quick turn and loss of control can be fatal. Drive sober and drive cautiously because summer holiday time is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.
  4. Know your swimming limits. While under the influence we don’t realize how strong currents can be and how difficult it is to swim back to shore. Be careful when swimming too far away, and be able to get back safely.
  5. Have a life jacket on hand. If you are in a boating accident and injure your head, it won’t matter if you are an expert swimmer. Having a lifejacket on will save your life; always have one readily available for each passenger on the boat.

Use these simple tips to have a safe summer and safe Fourth of July weekend! Just remember that you will have a great time, even without that extra drink.

Christine Cichon

Indiana University, School of Public Health

Eye Eye Cap’n

Scurvy was once a common disease upon sailors and pirates due a Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is found in foods such as bell peppers, oranges, lemons, and tomatoes to name a few. Vitamin C can help lower your risk of cataracts. Here are 5 foods to keep the eyes the prize:

  • Kale: is believed to protect eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduce risk of cataracts. Other great eye healthy nutrients include dark leafy greens, collard greens, broccoli, kiwi, red grapes, oranges, mangoes, etc.
  • Sweet potatoes: Orange veggies are linked to beta carotene. Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A which prevents dry eyes and night blindness. Beta carotene and vitamin A are a dynamic duo and also help fight off eye infections. Liver, milk, and eggs are other great sources of vitamin A.
  • Strawberries: This juicy fruit contains plenty of vitamin C to help you C. Other vitamin C rich foods are bell peppers, broccoli, citrus, and cantaloupe.
  • Salmon: Dry eyes? Omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate the problem. Omega-3s can be taken in supplements or also found in blueberries, avocado, tuna, etc.
  • Green Tea: Not only speeds up metabolism but also lowers risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.

Protective Measures:

Nutrition can help out with eye health but here are few tips that also help out with keeping your eyes in tip top shape:

  • Choose sunglasses that block 99% to  100% of harmful UV rays
  • Protect your eyes when working with hazardous materials and wear safety goggles
  • Avoid stressing your eyes out by staring at a computer or television screen for too long
  • Make sure you have adequate lighting when reading to avoid straining the eyes
  • Make certain glasses or contact lens prescription is up-to-date
Grill Master

Summer is in the air and so is that great aroma from the grill. Grilling is a great way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors or celebrate special occasions such as the fourth of July. Here are a few tips to keep the heat off you and strictly on the grill:

  • Never use the same utensils or cutting boards on raw foods & cooked foods
  • Allow frozen foods to thaw in a refrigerator or microwave
  • Cook foods to minimum internal temperatures to prevent food borne illnesses

Steak: 145◦F (choose a leaner cut to lower fat and cholesterol levels)

Hamburgers: 160◦F (Try veggie burgers for a healthier option)

Chicken: 165◦F

Fish: 145◦F or until fish is opaque (GO FISH! Fish are filled with heart healthy omega-3s)

Taste the Rainbow

                Add some color to your life and throw those fruits and veggies on the grill while you’re at it. This is also a great way to get some vitamins in! These are great on the grill:

  • Zucchini
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Watermelon (Since it’s mostly composed of water, 30 seconds on each side is all that’s needed)



Fresh Mango Marinade

  • 1 ripe mango (peeled, pitted  & chopped)
  • 1 TBSP pressed canola oil
  • 2 TBSP orange juice or white wine
  • 2 TSP finely diced peeled fresh ginger root
  • 2 TSP brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • ¾ TSP fine sea salt
  • ¼ TSP crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all in food processor until pureed & combine marinade with chicken, poultry, steak, tofu, etc. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Nutritional Info:

Serving size (about 1/4 cup): 90 calories (25 from fat), 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol,360 mg sodium,17 g carb ( 1g dietary fiber, 15g sugar) 1 g protein

-Dairy, Gluten, Wheat free

A Discussion on Metabolic Damage

A hot, but controversial topic, in fitness today is metabolic damage. While there is no science to back it up yet, it’s still important to acknowledge that extreme dieting can cause a lot of damage.  Those who are trying to lose body fat through extremely low calorie diets can be affected by this.

Metabolic damage, also called metabolic crashing, is defined by Dr. Layne Norton as, “the point where your metabolism is so repressed that you simply lose the ability to drop fat body without starvation”.  A lot of “crash diets” that promise fat loss have you on 800-1000 calorie diets paired with hours of steady-state cardio. These people then find that they cannot lose weight or body fat. When you have such a high caloric output, and such a low caloric input, your body adjusts itself for survival. The body reduces your metabolic rate so that you don’t go into starvation-it is almost like a protective mechanism. Thus, you have metabolic damage.

The scary part is that it can take up to a year to fix it. The best way to repair your metabolism is to slowly and deliberately add calories to your diet. This could mean adding up to 200 calories over the course of an entire year, not 50 calories a week. A lot of people will binge after they plateau with fat loss and put on 30 pounds of body fat within DAYS. The body has not had time to recover from metabolic damage, so getting all that extra body fat off again will be twice as hard.

If body fast loss is your main goal, you are better off “cleaning up” (sticking to real and natural, not processed foods) your diet, and pairing steady-state and high-intensity interval cardio together. Cutting calories and walking at 3mph for hours will cause more damage and you will not get the results you want. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on metabolic damage, but acknowledging that it exists and working to prevent or reverse it is still important.

Christine Giorgetti, BS, ACSM-HFS