Archive for January 2013

Reduce Cancer Risk with Weight Loss

According the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), 320 cancer cases could be prevented per day; that’s approximately 117,000 cases per year by keeping our weight under control.

As the chart below indicates, obesity contributes to several different forms of cancer. But while most Americans know the relationship between obesity, heart disease and diabetes, very few know the impact of obesity on cancer.

A recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that just 7% of those surveyed mentioned cancer when asked about the consequences of obesity. Other surveys have found that for Americans under the age of 65, cancer is our greatest health fear, and a disease that many feel they have very little control over. Fear can be a very powerful motivator, but only if you think you can do something to lower risk. The combination of fear with a perception of little or no control however, leads to more fear but no action.  

But there is a lot that we can do to lower our risk, and for many it starts with weight management. According to Susan Higginbotham, PhD, MPH, RD, AICR’s Director of Research, “our understanding of how excess body fat causes cancer is one of the hot topics in research right now.”  It has been found that excess body fat produces proteins called cytokines that cause chronic inflammation, which increase cancer risk and being overweight or obese also increases insulin levels, which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.

The good news is that even moderate weight loss helps to reduce the risk. Not that we need any more reasons to work on managing our weight, but maybe having one more will help.



Declaring My Mission

January is coming to a close and I hate to ask, but did you fall victim to the Resolution Blues? Are you finding yourself slipping away from your goals early in the game? It may be time to refocus your energy.

If you haven’t already created a Vision Board for the year, I suggest you do so. Click here for step-by-step instructions on H3Daily.

Another exercise I would recommend is creating a personal mission statement. As part of our corporate wellness program, we encourage each participant to write a mission statement focusing on why they’ve set the goals they have for themselves—instead of focusing on the outcome. Mission Statements give meaning to your daily routine. They provide clarity and purpose.

Use these steps to create your mission statement:

  1. Block off about 20 minutes and find a quiet place where you can work on your mission statement.
  2. Grab a pen and paper and start by answering a few questions about yourself.
    a. What are my values?
    b. What characteristics do I like most about myself?
    c. What accomplishments am I proud of?
    d. Under what conditions am I most likely to succeed?
    e. What goals would I like to accomplish?
  3. Now, use this information to create your personal mission statement. Incorporate the things that are most important to you and influence your behavior.
  4. Post your mission statement somewhere in plain view for you to read each day. In the morning, establish a purpose of intent for the day. Ask, “how will I strive to meet my mission for the day?” In the afternoons, reflect on the day.

Here’s a great tool for developing your personal mission statement online. Feel free to share in the comments section of this post.



Rediscovering Me

This past month has been eye-opening.  As many of you know, I’ve had the “frequent pregnancy syndrome” for the past 4 years, and man, has it been life-changing.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, but let’s just say my “me time” took a major hit. 

I used to be a die-hard 5am, 5 days a week, hit the gym kind of girl.  I meal planned and ate home-cooked meals at least 90% of the time.  Four years and 3 kids later, if I’m up at 5am it’s because I’m tending to someone’s needs other than my own, and it seems like just getting through the grocery store once a week to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and frozen chicken breasts is a success. 

Until about 4 weeks ago.  You see, my husband encouraged me to sign up for a gym membership (or rather he said “You’re doing it – and that’s it.”)  I haven’t had one in about 4 years, simply because with our conflicting schedules, it was difficult to see when I could go and still have someone home with the little ones. … But that wasn’t all of it.  Remembering the shape I was in before being pregnant, and all I was physically capable of, it seemed daunting to get it back.  Honestly, it seemed unrealistic, overwhelming even, to get it back.  Four weeks ago something changed, and I think its worth sharing… maybe you will find it helpful too.

  1. I got permission.  Usually, I would tell anyone else that is a bad word, but it’s honestly what I felt.  Whatever form you may call it – it was support from my husband.  Hearing that it is OK for me to go exercise in the morning and that he would handle the kids and dropping them to daycare and school was crucial for me.  As a mother, my intuition was to take care of everyone else.  “I can’t leave to workout – I have to get them dressed, make sure they have breakfast….” I would say to myself.  It’s hard, as a woman, to make a personal commitment that affects her family.  For me, this support was critical. 
  2. I let go of the past.  I want to be clear, I’m not forgetting it; I’m just not letting my previous physical fitness depress me to the point of not doing anything about my present fitness.  It’s a work in progress.  The person I see in the mirror today is not who I was before, and some days I choose not to even look in the mirror, but it’s not stopping me from my workout. 
  3. I found a part of me that was lost.  For me, going to the gym has always been a symbol of accountability, routine, and stability.  I’ve struggled to re-create that piece with an at-home program, and I’m not even sure it’s possible for me.  I used to think that if I couldn’t go 5 days a week, it wouldn’t be worth it.  Now, I can see that even 2-3 days per week has allowed me to create a more consistent routine, and has even improved my consistency with my workout days away from the gym. 
  4. I’m [trying to be] patient.  Although sometimes it’s hard, I’m being patient with my progress.  Over the past 4 weeks I’ve actually developed a better fitness base than I expected. 
  5. I made a commitment.  Not only have I now paid money for a year-long membership, I also signed up to run a ½Marathon in March.  It probably won’t be a PR… but I think I just might feel more satisfied with the accomplishment this time around than the dozen other ½ marathons I’ve already completed.

If you’re struggling because you know you want to make a change, but you’re having trouble getting started, just take that leap of faith.  You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself…. I know I was.



Healthy Super Bowl Recipes Pt. 3

Spicy Buffalo Party Mix


4 cups Rice cereal

4 cups Wheat cereal

4 cups Whole wheat pretzels

2 ½ Tablespoons Hot sauce

3 Tablespoons Olive oil

1 Teaspoon Onion powder

1 Teaspoon Garlic powder


  • In a large microwavable bowl, mix cereals and pretzels; set aside.
  •  In small microwavable bowl, microwave olive oil (uncovered) on High for about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in hot sauce and seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
  • Microwave (uncovered) on High 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool.
  • Store in airtight container.

 Number of servings: 24

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Calories: 200

Carbohydrates: 43 grams

Sodium: 240 milligrams

Fiber: 4 gram

Protein:  6 grams

Salsa Verde

1 ½ pounds Tomatillos, husked, and washed
½ cup Onions, chopped
½ cup Cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon Lime juice, fresh squeezed
¼ teaspoon Sugar
2 Jalapenos, cleaned and cut
¼ teaspoon Salt

• Preheat grill or cast iron skillet
• Place tomatillos on grill until skin is slightly blackened
• Then cut in half and place all ingredients in blender or food processor.

Chef’s Note: You can use this salsa as a topping for enchiladas, tacos, baked chicken or as a dip with baked tortilla chips, carrots or celery.

Number of Servings: 4
Serving Size: ½ cup
Calories: 35
Fat Grams: 0



Gluten-Free Dieting for Weight Loss

Gluten-free products are showing up more and more in our local grocery store aisles. This is fantastic for people who suffer from celiac disease-who for health reasons must eliminate gluten from their diet.

However, most of the people who reach for gluten-free products do not have celiac disease or do not suffer from sensitivity to wheat. Why exactly then are consumers opting for gluten-free products… we don’t know!  According to Peter H.R. Green MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, many people may perceive the gluten-free diet as a healthier diet.

In fact, it is not a healthier diet. For those who do have celiac disease a gluten-free diet is essential. But for others, a gluten-free diet can potentially lack vitamins, minerals and fiber unless the consumer is very careful.

Experts estimate that about 1% of Americans have celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten, damaging the lining of the small intestine and preventing important nutrients from being absorbed. Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, anemia, bone pain and a severe skin rash.

How can you know if you have celiac disease? The only way to know is to go to your primary physician and be tested.

So what is wrong with a gluten-free diet if you don’t have celiac disease?

While gluten is common in many processed foods, eliminating over-processed foods from your diet will be beneficial. Eliminating processed foods and gluten foods are two different battles. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, farro, kamut and spelt. The whole grains that contain gluten provide nutritional benefits. They are rich in vitamins and minerals including iron, B vitamins and fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that half of all carbohydrates in the diet come from whole grain products.

All in all if you do have gluten sensitivity stick with your gluten-free products. However, if you are gluten tolerant enjoy your whole grains and the nutritional benefits they provide.



Friday Fitness: No Equipment, No Excuses Cardio Workout Routine

So let’s be honest, sometimes it is hard to get to the gym. Whether it is freezing temperatures and ice on the road, or a weekend away where exercise equipment is at a premium, there are times when it seems nearly impossible to get to the gym. So should we tell ourselves, “oh well, I tried” or “oh yes, time to get creative!”

Well, I am going to get creative for you and give you 10 bodyweight cardio exercises that can be done anywhere—at home or even on vacation! So no excuses for not getting that heart rate up!

Heart Pumping Exercises:

  • Skip: Flash back to the playground for this fun activity. Starting on the right foot, jump off the ground, drawing the left knee into the chest. Land softly on the right foot and then explode up on the left foot, drawing the right knee into the chest.
  • High Knees: This one can be done at high or low intensity. Alternate bringing one knee into the chest, then place it on the ground; alternate with the other leg. Pick up the pace for some quick cardio.
  • Jumping Jack: An obvious but good cardio exercise. Start in a standing position, hands by your sides and legs together. Jump your legs out, wider than shoulder width apart and bring your arms straight up over your head; return to starting position. To modify, maintain the arm movement up over head but step side to side instead of jumping.
  • Burpee: The pushup is optional in this exercise, but included for some extra strength if you chose to challenge yourself even more. Start in an upright, standing position, bend down and place hands on the ground by your feet. Kick your feet back or step back to a plank position. Hold (insert push-up here if comfortable) and then jump or walk feet back to hands and jump up. Repeat.
  • Mountain climber: Start in a plank position on the ground, bring one knee in toward the chest then replace and alternate with the other leg. Pick up the pace to really move over those mountains.
  • Squat jump: Begin by lowering down into a squat and then jump up putting air between your feet and the ground. To engage the arms, drop them toward the ground as you are lowering into the squat and push straight up into the air as you are jumping.
  • Long jump: You don’t have to be facing a pit of sand to enjoy the benefits of the long jump. Start by lowering into a slight squat position, pump the arms and jump forward landing with soft knees and both feet at the same time.
  • Jump rope: These are small jumps up and down, landing with soft knees (slight bend). If you don’t have a jump rope then simply move the hands like you were holding the handles. A jump rope is a great piece of fitness equipment because it doesn’t take up too much space in your suitcase when traveling!
  • Bicycle: Lie on your back with your feet at a 90 degree angle in the air: knees right under the hip, and feet in line with the knees. Keep the hands by the hips and alternate extending each leg and drawing in. It’s just like riding a bike!
  • Flutter kicks: Not just for the pool. Lie on your stomach with hands folded in front of you, relax either your head or chin onto your hands. Squeezing the glutes and lifting the legs off the ground, flutter the legs continuously. Try lifting the thighs up off the ground too. Kick, kick, kick, kick!


What Causes Chronic Low Back Pain?

Chronic pain, longer than 6-8 weeks, emanating from the lower back can be a serious issue and a number of risk factors can contribute to a host of different problems.  The cause of low back pain stems from either injury or degeneration

Degeneration in the lower back is characterized by the breakdown of intervertebral discs (see photo above).  When healthy, these discs have the consistency of a wet sponge and help provide shock absorption during movement.  If over time the discs begin to disintegrate, the vertebrae will grind onto one another causing very serious discomfort.  These discs naturally degrade as we age, but will do so more rapidly if you are carrying extra weight on your belly, have bad posture, use tobacco products, are inactive for long periods or have a job that requires heavy lifting or long term exposure to vibration.

Secondly, if due to an injury the spine contorts from its normal shape the intervertebral discs may press against the spinal cord and/or nearby nerves, often termed a herniated or bulging disc (see photo above).  The most common of these nerves to be aggravated is the sciatic nerve (see photo below).   The sciatic nerve wraps around the sacroiliac (SI) joint and travels all the way to the feet.  If you’re experiencing low back, hip and leg pain than you may be suffering from sciatica, inflammation of the sciatic nerve caused by impingement or herniation.



From the H3 Vault: Healthy Italian Restaurant Guide

from Allie Mak

I always remind myself this little piece of advice: eat if you’re truly hungry, don’t eat if you’re NOT truly hungry. Easier said than done right?  Exercising portion control and listening to hunger cues can be difficult especially when you are dining out. Thus, I have created a guide to help you choose healthier options when eating out at Italian restaurants. Healthy food does not have to mean eating naked salads while staring at everyone else eat creamy pasta dishes!

Of course, you want to enjoy your meal out, so choose something you like (within reason) and split it with a friend or get a tasty appetizer (again, within reason) to split with everyone at the table and choose a healthier main entrée.

Don’t be shy. See what the kitchen can do for you. After all, you are paying them to cook your food! Ask your server for an order of steamed or grilled veggies instead of a baked potato. Perhaps you can get your chicken grilled or baked instead of breaded or fried.

Remember, you can always pack half of your meal up and enjoy it the next day, especially if you’re not hungry.



  • The whole breadbasket
  • Garlic bread(sticks)
  • Caesar salad w/ dressing
  • Cream sauces (i.e. alfredo)
  • Fried calamari
  • Fried eggplant
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Lasagna
  • Carbonara
  • Ravioli
  • Tortellini
  • Chicken Parmesan


  • ONE piece of bread
  • House salad
  • Olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • Minestrone soup
  • Tomato Soup
  • Marinara sauce
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Grilled chicken
  • Grilled or broiled seafood
  • Spaghetti w/ marinara or white wine sauce (watch the pasta portion!)
  • Grilled calamari
  • Caprese Salad


Are you stuck in the problem?

Are you stuck in the problem? Do you have a problem and all you can see are road blocks that prevent you from solving it? You have a string of excuses why this and that won’t work. You’re afraid or too lethargic to try anything? Then it’s time you stepped into the solution.

Within each problem there are various solutions. However, we often get stuck in the problem. A strange paralysis takes over and we can’t seem to move in any direction or even see a way out for that matter. Normally it’s fear, complacency or pessimism that holds us back from positive change. Often, we nurture an addictive relationship with our excuses. Does this sound familiar?

A phrase I am forever using is, “Sounds like you’re stuck in the problem and not in the solution.” So how do you fight fear and paralysis in order to get into the solution? You start by listening. As you discuss the problem with others, really start to hear your responses. If most of your sentences begin with, “Yes, but…” “Well I can’t because…” “But if I do that…” then you’re in the shoot-it-down, default mode. Change your language. As suggestions are offered simply say, “I’m going to think about that” or “That’s a possibility.” A subtle change in your verbal response creates an energy of openness that can shift dynamics from the impossible to the possible.

An old-fashioned brain-storming session on paper is also a good strategy. Just let the possibilities fly without judgment. Doing so will loosen up those tight constraints we often impose on our brain. Then, look at what you’ve written and see if there is one small change or action you know you can take toward a solution. It doesn’t have to be an action intended to solve the entire problem.  Even the smallest achievement can cure the paralysis and get the ball rolling.

The important thing is to recognize your reluctance to even entertain possibilities or your stubborn attachment to hopelessness. Awareness is the first lifeline out of the problem.



Healthy Super Bowl Recipes Pt. 2

Twice Baked Potato Footballs


4 Red bliss potatoes

¼ Onion, yellow, small dice

½ Red bell pepper, small dice

1 teaspoon Garlic, minced,

¼ cup Broccoli

1 teaspoon Rosemary, fresh, minced

2 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Black pepper

1 tablespoon H3 Sour Cream (1 cup 1% cottage cheese and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, puree)


  • Set oven to 400 degrees.
  • Roast potatoes for 35 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onion, red bell pepper, garlic, broccoli, rosemary, salt and pepper at medium high heat until softened.
  • Cut potatoes in half, scoop out potato filling.
  • Combine potato filling with sautéed vegetable mixture.
  • Stuff potato mixture into potato skins.
  • Create 8 potato “footballs” by drawing football like strings onto the potato with H3 Sour Cream.

Servings: 8

Serving size:  1 each

Calories: 220

Carbohydrates: 37 grams

Sodium: 690 milligrams

Fiber: 5 gram

Protein:  10 grams


Pita/Tortilla Chips


1Pita pocket, whole wheat, or corn tortilla cut into triangles

2 sprays Spray oil 

1 teaspoon Garlic powder

¼ teaspoon Paprika

1 teaspoon Onion powder

¼ teaspoon Salt             


  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Cut pita bread in half (round way). Then cut each round into eight chips.
  • Place chips on baking sheet. Lightly spray with oil and sprinkle with spices
  • Toast in oven 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Servings: 2

Serving Size: 8 chips

Calories: 80

Fat (g): trace

Baked Bean Chili Dip


1/2 cup Onion

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Chili powder

¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Oregano, dried

1 teaspoon Sea salt

4 cups Vegetable stock

Pinch Black pepper

1/2 cup Bean juice (after you have cooked the beans)

2 cups Pinto beans, raw, uncooked

8 ounces Fat free cream cheese

½ cup 2% Sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup Green onions, diced

3 each Pita bread, whole wheat, cut into 16 pieces each (optional)


  • Rinse beans in colander.
  • Then place beans in container and fill container with about four cups of water.
  • Let sit overnight.
  • Drain off water and re-rinse beans one more time.
  • Then fill sauce pot with four cups of water and add beans.
  • Cook slowly on a medium heat.
  • Once beans have been cooked half way through, add salt.
  • When beans are done cooking, drain off water and reserve about 1/2 cup of the bean juice.
  • Mince onion in food processor.
  • Sauté onions. Meanwhile, place beans in food processor to make a smooth paste.
  • After onions are translucent, add pureed beans, cumin pepper, and a pinch of salt.
  • If a smoother consistency is desired, slowly add your bean juice to the dip.

Servings: 4

Serving size: ½ cup

Calories: 160

Fat grams: 4

For more healthy tailgating recipes, check out Super Bowl Ready – H3 Game Day Recipes



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