By Martha Jette

What you should Know

When it comes to dieting, it is a proven fact. Your body needs a variety of vitamin and mineral rich food to function properly. If you starve your body, you do it irreparable harm.

There are a multitude of diets out there, so choosing just the right one for you will likely be difficult. There’s the Grapefruit Diet, Atkins Diet , Mediterranean Diet, NutriSystem Diet, Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution, the Fruit Flush Diet, the Skinny Vegan Diet and countless more. How can you decide?

Forget fad diets that make big promises and when you don’t get the results, you become discouraged and quit. Your best route is to ignore those systems and get back to basics. Learn which foods benefit your body and which don’t with the understanding that most healthy women should only consume between 1,000 and 1,200 calories per day, while men can have up to 1,600.

A certain number of calories are needed by your body to keep it functioning properly by providing much-needed energy. However, if you eat more calories each day than you can burn off, you gain weight.

In order to lose one pound of fat per week, you need to eat about 500 calories less each day. Over a week, that equals 3,500 calories less and that equals about one pound of fat. The idea is to eat fewer calories and burn off more, which can only be accomplished with regular exercise.

However, before you begin any diet regime talk with your doctor, particularly if you have any health issues that might be affected.

By Martha Jette

Learn to Squat

Weight training includes such exercises as squats, chest presses, dead lifts, leg and overhead presses, biceps arm curls, triceps pushdowns, seated cable rowing, lat pull downs and crunches that strengthen core muscles in the body.

However, it is necessary to start slow, particularly if you haven’t exercises in some time.

You could start with squats that can be done with light-weight dumbbells or barbells to begin developing buttock muscles, front thighs and legs. Since these can be done at home, you will have an opportunity to find out if weight training is for you.

It is important to warm up before weight training with five to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercises and stretching. Then you need to position the body correctly to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.

Spread your feet slightly apart with heels firmly planted on the floor. Bend your knees but keep your body upright and jut out your behind as if you’re going to sit down.

For shoulder squats, hold a dumbbell in your hands firmly on each shoulder. Tighten your stomach muscles and begin with 10 squats. As you become accustomed to this amount, it can be gradually increased.

To develop the chest muscles, you can do chest presses. Dead lifts focus on the lower back, behind and front and back thighs. The overhead press works the shoulder neck and back muscles, as well as the upper arms and chest. To develop the biceps and lower arm muscles, arm curls are best.

Triceps pushdowns strengthen the back of the upper arms, while the lat pulldowns are done with weights on a cable pulley to strengthen the middle and upper back. Crunches with weights are believed to be a more effective means of tightening abdominal muscles and seated cable rowing works back muscles, forearms and upper arm muscles.

Remember that if you have health problems, you should consult with your doctor before beginning weight training. As well, once you move on to exercises that require specific equipment and heavier weights, it is best to work out in a gym where your progress can be safely monitored.

By Martha Jette

10 Minute Workouts

In our fast paced world where we run from home chores to jobs, to driving the kids to various events, running weekly errands and getting to appointments, many people believe they don’t have time to work out. However, there are some quick, calorie-burning workouts that even the busiest of folks can fit into their hectic schedules.

For Women

Fitness expert, Tracey Mallet says even the busiest women can get into shape by exercising just 10 minutes a day. She recommends such Pilate exercises as Dolphin Kicks, Super Butt Kicks, the Dead Bug and Side Plank Leg Lifts for best results.

To work on the fat that tends to stick to the thighs, hips and bottom, 10 minutes of squats each day will also tighten and tone those areas.

For Men

The name doesn’t sound too inviting but rotating prisoner squats can be repeated over a 10-minute period to limber up the body and work core muscles. Standing with feet slightly apart and hands behind your head, squat up and down while rotating 90 degrees to one side.

On your next squat, rotate the opposite way. This exercise works the legs, stomach, chest and arms all at the same time. Crunches and pushups can also be added to the quick routine to further tone certain areas of the body.

For a more intense 10-minute workout, men and women can begin with a few minutes of light cardio, such as walking and/or stretching exercises. Then do jumping jacks interspersed with high front kicks, alternating between legs. You can also try high jogs that involve jogging in place while lifting your knees up higher than you normally would.

Five 10-Minute Workout Tips

Because your life is so busy, you want a quick workout that gets the most bang for each minute and is suited to your needs. That means doing your homework to find just the right exercises for the body parts that need the most work. There are plenty of costly programs promoted on the Internet but you don’t need to spend money to lose weight.

1) On the job, women can still work out. A quick tip for those who sit behind a desk all day is to tense and release the stomach muscles 10 times or more.

2) Both men and women can benefit by taking a few moments while on a break at work to rotate the head, neck and shoulders to ease tension and stiffness. Standing up to stretch and rotating the arms and legs will keep the circulation going as well.

3) To release pain and tension from the lower back, sit up in your office chair, place your right arm behind your right hip and gently rotate your body to the right. Then repeat the opposite way. About.com offers a number of exercises that can be done right from your office chair.

4) At home or in a gym, just 10 minutes a day on a treadmill at a ‘challenging pace’ will not only burn fat but also increase your stamina. By using an inclined treadmill, you’ll burn off that excess fat even faster.

According to an article in Mind, Body & Spirit Fitness running on a treadmill at a 6-mile pace will burns 640 calories per hour. However, with five minutes of running and then five more minutes on an incline burns 74 extra calories per hour.

5) Add an extra challenge to regular exercises, such as walk, jogging and running by holding a suitably sized weight in each hand or wear weighted wrist bands.

By Martha Jette

There are a number of things to consider before choosing the workout plan that is best for you.

First and foremost is the current state of your health.
If you have health problems such as asthma, emphysema or other respiratory problem, you will have to choose a workout that allows you to take frequent breaks.

The Better Health Channel recommends beginning with breathing exercises to strengthen the diaphragm. Then take short walks each day and concentrate on exercises that stretch the muscles. You might also want to consider something like Tai Chi rather than more intensive workout programs.

If you have arthritis, fibromyalgia or any similar chronic condition that affects your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, you will need to choose a workout that is less strenuous as well. Low impact exercise for those with arthritic conditions can actually be beneficial.

Try walking, swimming or yoga to keep muscles limber and strong but do not overdo it or you will feel the negative results. Begin with short periods of any exercise and slowly work up to more.

Exercise is good for the heart but if you have pre-existing heart problems, you need to be careful. Safe Sport recommends first discussing an exercise regime with your doctor and keeping in close touch with him/her throughout. Start out with warm-up exercises and be sure to rest afterward.

If you have a heart rhythm problem caused by abnormal electrical activity in the heart, you could be in danger of atrialatrial or ventricular fibrillation, Wolfe-Parkinson White Syndrome or even Long QT Syndrome.

If you are obese, you might not be able to exercise as easily in the beginning. People who are morbidly obese often have knee or back problems due to their access weight.

One way to get started is to opt for swimming, which won’t cause undue stress on those areas. As well, obese people often don’t fit on regular gym workout equipment such as exercise bikes and weight benches. In such cases, you should consider a personal trainer, which will also save you the embarrassment of going to a gym.

Those with diabetes or too much sugar in the blood can benefit greatly from a regular exercise routine. A Canadian study of 251 obese adults has now shown that people with type 2 diabetes who undertake aerobic exercise and lift weights have better blood sugar control. Be sure however, that you monitor your blood  sugar level carefully because it will decrease during and after exercise so if you feel shaky or sweat more than usual, stop immediately.

Many seniors cannot handle excessive exercise but a short walk after dinner each day will go far in maintaining a healthy weight. If you find this difficult as well, begin walking just a block or two and increase your distance each day. Even if you use a walker, you will still benefit. You will find that you can burn off a significant amount of calories simply by walking.

Some people with health issues may find exercising difficult at first, but the health benefits will out outweigh any problems they might initially experience. That’s because being overweight is a health problem in itself that can cause everything from high blood pressure to diabetes and heart disease. Exercise has also been found effective in alleviating stress and depression.

By Martha Jette

Diet, Exercise, Water

Before undertaking a weight loss program there are a number of things to consider.

First of all, think about your expectations. Are you hoping to lose a few pounds each week or do you want to lose a lot of weight quickly? If your answer is the latter, you should re-evaluate your expectations. Janet Polivy, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario advises that the best thing to do is have “smaller, realistic goals.”

Your objective should be not only to look slimmer and trimmer but also be healthier. Yes, you can lose a significant amount of weight quickly but not only can you do serious damage to your body, also the weight is more likely to come back on. It is preferable to lose a few pounds each week so your body can adjust.

Weight Loss Plans

You should also consider which weight loss program is best for you. There are many diets out there such as the Grapefruit Diet , also known as the Hollywood Diet or the Mayo Diet, in which you eat a lot of protein. The two together are believed to burn fat and promote weight loss. Those who follow this diet, which allows certain other foods to be consumed, will likely lose weight because the diet itself is low on calories. However, there is no scientific proof that this diet actually works.

A bettter option to dieting by eating specific foods is to learn how to cut calories in what you already eat. Substitute certain items like sugar with honey when possible. Also cut your portion sizes, particularly for foods with high starch and carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes. With no drastic change in your current lifestyle, you are more likely to stick to it.

Cut out Fast Food

If you are going to proceed with a diet, you must cut out fast food. If it’s hamburgers you crave, stay away from McDonald’s where a ¼ pounder has 430 calories and a Big Mac, 590. Burger King’s original Whopper has an astounding 760; a double Whopper has 1,060 – nearly a day’s worth of calories! Opt instead for a homemade lean turkey burger instead and watch the add-ons.

Veggies are fine but mayonaisse and other sauces will add to the calory count quickly. The same goes for that side of fries. Rather than pay for fries cooked in grease, make them at home in the oven.


The Grapefruit Diet and others like it are not a solution in themself. You can shed the pounds but your body will not be healthily toned. The truth is that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. So with any diet you chose, remember that exercise is an important part of acquiring and maintaining a healthy weight.

It is not necessary to undertake high impact exercise like you see on The Biggest Loser either. A good, brisk walk after dinner can do much to help you shed those extra pounds.

Add Water

Aside from eating healthy foods and exercising, you need to add water to the mix. If you feel hungry between meals, a glass of water will take that hunger away. It will also keep you hydrated following that after dinner walk.

You should also reduce your intake of salt, which is composed of sodium chloride. It is recommended that a healthy person consume no more than one teaspoon of salt daily. However when dieting and drinking plenty of water, the salt will retain the water in your system rather than flush it out.

By Martha Jette

Walking seems like one of the simplest things we do. However, many people just don’t do enough of it to keep them healthy. Instead, they opt to sit on the couch watching television or paying video games for hours on the Internet.

This sedentary lifestyle is a dangerous one that can cause a wide variety of health problems.

Walking as a cardio workout has more health benefits that you can imagine. First and foremost, this simple activity strengthens the heart reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. And because the heart gets a workout, blood circulation throughout the body increases and brings much needed oxygen and vital nutrients to every muscle and organ.

Studies have shown that walking also improves cognitive function and alleviates depression. As well, it has been shown to strengthen joints, improves overall physical function and more.

If you’ve been one of those couch potatoes, begin by walking five to 10 minutes, two or three days a week. As you become accustomed to this, gradually increase your pace and the time you spend walking. As you increase these just beyond your comfort zone, you’ll get more out of your walks, increase your heart rate and lose weight.

The ultimate objective is to eventually reach 30 minutes per day, every day. If you have a dog, take your pet for daily walks. You can also add to the intensity of this cardio workout by jogging or running, as well as wearing or carrying weights. However, make sure you’re wearing a good pair of running shoes to avoid injury to feet and/or legs.

Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends 30-minutes of walking or other exercise each day to reduce the risk of breast cancer. A study of more than 74,000 women between 50 and 79 years of age by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that “women who walked for half an hour, from three to five times a week” reduced their risk from breast cancer by about 20 percent.

“For most, walking is probably going to be the easiest thing to do because it doesn’t require training or special equipment, just a good pair of shoes, said lead researcher Anne McTiernan.


A study noted in the April 2005 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology stated that “inactive, middle aged people with chronic constipation” who were put on a program of 30 minutes a day of brisk walking “dramatically cured a large percentage of them of constipation.” But the news on the benefit of walking for a healthy colon gets even better.

In the August 2005 issue of the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, it notes that a study (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16030427?dopt=Abstract) comparing people who were average in their lifelong physical activity vs. those who were the most active found that “the most physically active… had 1/3 the risk of colon cancer.”


In a study at the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) at the University of Pittsburgh, it was found that walking 30 minutes a day reduced the risk of diabetes.

Andrea Kriska, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at GSPH noted in the Oct. 1, 2003 issue of American Journal of Epidemiology that: “men and women who incorporate activity into their lifestyles are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who are sedentary.

This finding holds no matter what their initial weight. This suggests that adopting and maintaining a program of regular physical activity similar to what the Surgeon General’s recommendations suggest can play a significant role in preventing type 2 diabetes.”

As you can see, the simple act of walking brings many health benefits so get up off your couch or chair and get active. Walk to the corner store instead of driving. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You’ll be glad you did!

By Martha Jette

Children like to have fun, so any exercise for them must include that very important element.

Children are less likely to rigidly follow an exercise regimen that demands daily workouts than they are to take part in activities they enjoy that will help them lose weight. Livingstrong.com recommends such activities as races, dancing, swimming and playground games to keep your child active.

If these types of activities become commonplace in your family, your child won’t even realize your ulterior motive – getting him or her to lose weight and stay healthy.

As a family activity, such exercises get kids away from the television and computer, and help everyone become healthier and stronger.

My Family Exercise.com suggests other ways to get kids active, including taking a nature hike or playing a ball game. My daughter takes her daughter along with her climbing the Wentworth stairs up Hamilton Mountain several times a week. To make it fun for my granddaughter, my daughter makes it a challenge to see who can get to the top first. If she wins, she gets a non-fattening treat.

It’s also a good idea to get your children into an organized sport that interests them. My grandson plays hockey twice a week and plays street hockey often in between. This type of regular exercise will help burn off access calories and aid in losing weight.

I have seen my daughter enjoy wonderful times with my grandchildren while keeping them active with such things as jumping balls, playing soccer, tobogganing, skating, using a hoola hoop (good for the waistline!), bowling and more. Recently, she and her husband purchased a safely enclosed trampoline that provides hours of jumping fun, while at the same time helps reduce body fat. According to FunSpot.com, jumping on a trampoline for 20 to 30 minutes also increases the heart rate and lung capacity, and improves flexibility, reflexes and spatial awareness.

“Another benefit of trampolining is that it affects joints, strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint, and improves movement, thereby reducing risk developing some forms of arthritis.”

Of course, it’s not necessary to purchase a trampoline in some areas where they can be found at public parks and recreational facilities. You could also opt for a one-person trampoline for use inside your home.

By Martha Jette

A Family Plan to eat Right

The most successful children’s diet is one that the entire family eats, so the younger members of the family do not feel they are being singled out. Children who are obese are often teased enough by their peers and don’t deserve added humiliation.

And because children are still growing, it is vitally important to ensure that any diet you put them on is chock full of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary for healthy growth.

According to Keeping Kids Healthy.com, the United States Department of Agriculture has devised a food pyramid specifically for children age 2 to 6 years old. Focusing on the five major food groups, with emphasis on grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

Rather than filling children up on potatoes, you can substitute some meals with brown rice, which contains Vitamin B, iron, magnesium, selenium and fiber. Also switch from white to whole wheat breads that contain less fat and more fiber, along with magnesium, folic acid essential for DNA synthesis and repair, copper, zinc, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E.

For proper bone development, children need foods rich in calcium, which does not mean just dairy products. Other sources include calcium fortified orange juice, tofu, spinach, canned pink salmon with bones, plain oatmeal, white beans, kale, okra, beet greens and fortified cold cereals. Calcium is also high in Vitamin D, which helps maintain organ functions.

Encourage children to eat salad several times a week that includes plenty of low-calorie high fiber greens. While all are good for children, the darker lettuces contain more vitamins. Add to that, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, broccoli, snap beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots and even some fruits such as apples and pears.

You can even add some variety by including small cuts of such high protein foods as eggs, cooked shrimp, skinless chicken breast, shredded cheese or tuna. However, make sure you’re not adding too many things and raising the amount of calories. Also be sure to use a low-calorie salad dressing. An alternative is to make your own low-cal salad dressing.

Also keep plenty of fruit in the house that are in easy reach for healthy snacks, including, bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries, grapes and pears. Raspberries, blueberries, apples and raisins are also high in antioxidants that reduce free radicals that can damage cells.

For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) high protein foods have been found to calm them down and improve learning. Studies on the blood and hair of children with ADHD (Kozielec 1994 and 1997) showed low levels of magnesium, zinc and iron.

A simple and easy source of magnesium can be found in bananas. Zinc, important for a healthy immune system and growth, is found in such meats as beef and lamb, shellfish, whole grain cereals and legumes. Iron, which is needed for healthy blood and brain development, can be obtained from beef, liver, lamb, pork, poultry and seafood.

Brain foods are also vital to developing minds. This means eating foods that are high in protein and amino acids that promote production of neurotransmitters in brain cells. The Food for the Brain Foundation conducted a seven-month pilot study on hyperactive children at Cricket Green special education school in Merton, London.

Pupils were given long chain fatty acid supplements “eye q”, Omega-3 fish oil and Omega-6 evening primrose oil , along with a balanced diet, exercise and a multivitamin. The study found that behavioral issues dropped 25 per cent. The foundation is expected to release a new study on more than 10,000 British school children between 6 and 16 years of age soon. This study will compare diet with “behavior, academic performance, SAT scores and overall health.”

Liver is also an excellent source of Vitamin A needed for healthy growth. If your child refuses to eat certain foods, you might need to supplement their diet with protein shakes, vitamins and minerals.

Even fat is essential but choose foods with Omega-3 and Omega-6, such as salmon, tuna, avocado, nuts and seeds bearing in mind that the latter two items may cause a choking hazard in very young children. Omega-3 and Omega-6 assists in brain development.

Foods to limit of course are fast foods, as well as desserts, soda drinks, cereals and candy that are high in sugar, along with unhealthy fats found in fried foods, potato chips, cake, ice cream and soft drinks.

By Martha Jette

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid.gov, a healthy diet can be achieved by following its food pyramid guidelines.

It is up to each person to make a commitment to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The pyramid, which is also sanctioned by the Mayo Clinic, is designed to offer not only good health maintenance, but also improve health. By following its recommendations, the risk of such chronic health concerns as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even depression can be greatly diminished.

Your diet should include:

Whole Grains: These are a great source of complex carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, fiber, selenium, potassium and magnesium. Complex carbohydrates, which provide much-needed energy, can also be found in rice, whole-wheat pasta, cereal, potatoes, corn, dry beans and green vegetables.

Vegetables: While most vegetables are a terrific source of vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and fiber, some have been found to have additional benefits. What is called cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and Brussels sprouts contain phytonutrients that help fight various forms of cancer.

Yellow, green and orange vegetables contain carotenoids, a potent antioxidant, to boost the immune system. Greens, including such lettuce, spinach, broccoli and green peppers are loaded with Vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Purple, blue and emerald-green veggies are rich in flavonoids, have antioxidant properties and can help prevent heart disease and cancer. Flavonoids improve the cardiovascular system, thus lowering the risk of heart disease. Its other benefits include reversing short-term memory loss and improvement of motor skills.

The National Cancer Institute recommends eating at least five servings of vegetables each day. If you have a craving for something sweet, choose such vegetables as corn, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots or winter squash.

Fruit:  These are a wonderful source of healthy nutrients and should be a part of any diet. Apples contain pectin, which can lower your cholesterol level, Vitamin C, fiber for bowel regularity and potassium. Research has found that eating two apples a week can also lower the risk of developing asthma.

Recent research has shown that blueberries contain the highest antioxidant ability of any other fruit. They are believed to fight Alzheimer’s disease, improve vision, help stop diarrhea or constipation and like cranberries, promote a healthy urinary tract.

Tangerines, oranges and grapefruit are high in Vitamin C, B1, B2 and B6, flavonoids, fiber and more. Vitamin C has many health benefits for the immune system, eyes, reproductive organs, connective tissue and adrenal glands.

Every fruit provides health benefits of some kind. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least four servings of fruit a day.

Protein:  The Harvard School of Public Health suggests that instead of eating a porterhouse steak, you opt for something like salmon, which delivers a little less protein but much less saturated fat. Other healthy choices include chicken and turkey that are hormone and antibiotic free.

Proteins can also be found in milk, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, lentils, peas, tofu and whole grain foods. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 0.8 grams for each kilogram of body weight each day.

Dairy Products: For strong and healthy bones, the body needs calcium and Vitamin D found in dairy products. The recommended daily consumption is 1,000 mg per day. Other sources of these vitamins are green, leafy vegetables, green beans and dried beans.

Good Fats: When it comes to fat, not all of it is bad for you. Monounsaturated fat can be found in olive, peanut and canola oil, as well as some seeds and avocados. Polyunsaturated fat, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are found in fish, soybeans, flaxseed oils, corn and walnuts. Saturated fats are found in red meat and whole milk dairy products, while trans fats are found in margarine, shortening, cookies, fried foods, baked goods and more.

The types of fat, which are good for you, are unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help fight cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. Most saturated fats, however, clog the arteries and raise your cholesterol level.

Water: Since the human body is composed of 75 percent water, regular intake of water is vital to flush out wastes and toxins that settle in the body. Instead of choosing fruit drinks, which often contain a lot of sugar, soft drinks or those with caffeine, opt for a cool glass of cold water instead to keep yourself hydrated. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming eight glasses of fluid a day.

They say fluid because water is consumed by eating such things as vegetables as well. A good guide to follow is that if your urine is too yellow, you’re not consuming enough water. A lack of water in the body can cause a decrease in energy and headaches.

As with most things in life, the key to a healthy diet is moderation. Never taboo certain foods because they’re not as healthy for you. Simply restrict how much you eat of it.