Archive for June 2013

Fitness Friday: Stretch it Out


Flexibility means being able to move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion.

As you become more flexible, you will find it easier to reach things on high shelves, to look under a bed, or perhaps to tie your shoes. You will also have a better sense of balance and coordination.

Over time, we create body movements and posture habits that can lead to reduced mobility of joints and compromised body positions. Staying active and stretching regularly help prevent this loss of mobility, which ensures independence as we age. Being flexible significantly reduces the chance of experiencing occasional and chronic back pain.


– Reduces stress in the exercising muscles and releases tension developed during the workout.

-Assists with posture by balancing the tension placed across the joint by the muscles that cross it. Proper posture minimizes stress and maximizes the strength of all joint movements.

– Reduces the risk of injury during exercise and daily activities because muscles are more pliable.

– Improves performance of everyday activities as well as performance in exercise and sport.


To stay flexible, stretch all your major groups of muscles. These include the muscles of your arms, your back, your hips, the front and back of your thighs, and your calves.

-Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes before you stretch them by doing aerobic activity such as walking or jogging. This will help increase blood flow to your working muscles.   – Try to hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

– Add stretches to your day. Do some stretches first thing in the morning, take a stretch break instead of a coffee break, or stretch in the office for a few minutes.

-Get involved in activities that include stretching, such as dance, martial arts tai chi, or yoga

Remember to never push your body beyond its limits. Any stretch that hurts, means you’re pushing too far.



Book Review: Fat Chance

fat chance

I recently read the book, FAT Chance, by Dr. Robert Lustig, M.D.—pediatric endocrinologist and director of the WATCH program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.  Talk about a homerun.  If you have seen the YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” you have heard Dr. Lustig present on one major negative in our food system—SUGAR.  Truly impressive, he was able to keep the attention over 3 million people for 90 minutes talking about carbohydrate metabolism…not your typical entertaining topic.  Lustig’s book definitely stems from this YouTube video but also from Lustig’s vast experience with children and the fight against obesity.  It is definitely worth purchasing, but here are 3 main messages that I took away from the book:

  1.  A CALORIE IS NOT A CALORIE.  We have been educated that in order to maintain our body weight and energy balance then one calorie taken in through food must be offset by one calorie burned.  This calorie could come from any food source—cheesecake, vegetables, cheese, etc.  However, Lustig makes it clear that a calorie is not a calorie.  We metabolize and use various foods different.  For example, one gram of fat is 9 calories but one gram of omega-3 fatty acids is going to be more heart healthy compared to one gram of saturated fat.  When it comes to sugar, Lustig emphasizes that our problem is coming from added sugar and fructose… not fiber-rich fruit (fiber being the “antidote” in Lustig’s terminology).
  2. CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT.  The book provides numerous strategies to control your food environment, but check out Lisette’s previous blog on Recognizing Environmental Triggers to help control cravings—especially those sugar cravings.
  3. A BOTTOM UP MOVEMENT IS NEEDED.  Ideally, our environment and food system would be promoting a healthier lifestyle, less sugar consumption and lower exposure to processed foods.  We all know this is not necessarily the case.  A bottom up movement, coming from us as a whole, is needed in order for our food system to change for the better—feel free to leave comments about this topic.  We would love to hear your thoughts!!


Wellness Wednesday: Good Fat?

The goal in weight loss is to lose fat, right? Well there is one type of fat that you actually want more of, brown fat. Until recently it was thought that brown fat was found only in some animals and infants, but it is now known that adults carry some brown fat as well. This is significant since brown fat has a much greater metabolic rate than normal white fat. An important question then is can you increase your brown fat deposits? A study recently presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 73rd Scientific Sessions suggests that it is possible. Men who trained for twelve weeks on an exercise bicycle underwent a browning of their subcutaneous white adipose tissue. One of the researchers involved in the study, Kristen Stanford, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, commented that “our results showed that exercise doesn’t just have beneficial effects on muscle. It also affects fat. It is clear that when fat gets trained, it becomes browner and more metabolically active. Our work provides greater motivation than ever to get out there and exercise.” Studies with mice showed that brown fat not only increased their metabolic rate but was associated with increased glucose uptake and increased insulin sensitivity, suggesting it might help improve the management of or reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Who would have ever thought that one of the goals of exercise might be to develop “more” fat? But in the future we might be talking about increasing brown fat as much as we talk about preserving or building muscle.



Top 3 Picks

top 3

I was recently asked a question… “What are the top 3 things Hilton Head Health provides their guests to help them achieve success?”  After answering the question, I think one answer simply doesn’t do it justice.  Because our lifestyles are different, the way we posture ourselves for success may also be different than the person next to us.  So today I’d like to share my answer; the top 3 things Hilton Head Health provides our guests.  I’d like you to answer back!  What are your Top 3 Picks?

1)      A taste of healthy living.  A little more than test-driving a car, but in affect, H3 lets you get a sense of what it’s like to live with healthy habits.  It not only makes you a believer, it creates a achiever through real life practice.

2)      An environment of support unmatched.  While I am including the staff (from housekeeping to the servers to our trainers and program staff), they are only a part of the support provided at H3.  Each week we have a group of new guests join those returning to the program – a perfect blend for motivation, encouragement, inspiration, and yes, even fun!

3)      A view above the trees.  I know, it sounds crazy if you’ve ever been to Hilton Head (so many trees!), but seriously… Life can get so busy, so important, so fast, so essential that we forget about the basic needs that are necessary to be both efficient and enjoy that life we’re living.  H3 gets you out of the grind and reminds you what healthy living can feel like.  When you take time to move your body, you take time to actually eat a meal during the day, and you even take time to let someone else be the expert and allow yourself to be student.  H3 gets you out of the branches so you can see where you are going again.

What were your Top 3 Picks from your visit at Hilton Head Health?  Comment here to share, or join our conversation on Facebook.



Healthy Recipes: Mini Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon meringue


Lemon flavored custards, puddings and pies have been enjoyed since Medieval times, but meringue was perfected in the 17th century. Lemon meringue pie, as it is known today, is a 19th-century product. The earliest recorded recipe was attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from the canton of Romandie. Try our recipe!


Lemon filling and Meringue;

2 cups                         All-purpose flour

2/3 cup                       Butter, melted

¾ cup                         Lemon juice, fresh

1 teaspoon                Lemon zest

1/2 cup                       Sugar

1 ¼ cup                      Water

5 tablespoon             Cornstarch

3 each                        Egg yolks

1 tablespoon             Sugar

1 each                        Egg white


Pie Dough;

2 cups             All-purpose flour

¼ cup             Sugar

1/8 tsp.           Salt

¼ tsp.              Baking powder

¼ cup             Chilled butter, cut into small pieces

¼ cup             Fat free cream cheese

1 T.                  Cider vinegar

4 to 5 T.          Ice water


  • To Make Lemon Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  • Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.
  •  Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot lemon and sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture.
  • Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
  • For the pie dough;Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor, pulse 3 times or until combined.
  • Add butter, cream cheese, and cider vinegar, pulse 3-4 times.
  • Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulsing until dough is combined.  **Mixture may appear crumbly but will stick together when pressed in palm of hand.**
  • Place half of dough into 1-cup measuring cup, pressing to compact the dough.
  • Remove the dough from cup and form a ball.
  • Divide ball into 6 equal portions.*This dough recipe makes 6 pie crusts, only use one dough ball or 1/6th of the recipe for the lemon pies.*
  • Repeat with rest of dough.
  • Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
  • Roll each dough portion into 5 inch circles.  **It helps to roll in between plastic wrap**
  • For the meringue; In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
  • Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.



Number of servings:                     18

Serving size:                                    2 oz. 1/18th of pie crust

Calories:                                           200

Fat grams:                                        10



Thermal Walks Decrease the Risk of Developing Diabetes


If you have been to H3 within the past 25 years, you know what Thermal Walks are. We have been promoting them since then as pleasant and effective way to increase walking and boost metabolism. Thermal walks are leisurely to moderate paced 10 – 20 minute walks taken shortly after finishing a meal. A new study published in the journal Diabetes Care suggests that taking a short walk after a meal might also help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. The study found that for older (average age of 71) adults with prediabetes,  a moderately paced 15 minute walk after each meal worked as well at regulating blood glucose as one 45 minute walk a day. (previous studies had confirmed the beneficial effects on blood sugar that regular moderate daily walking of 30 – 45 minutes a day provides). That’s important because some  older folks find it difficult to walk for 30 – 45 minutes at a time.

Loretta DiPietro, the study’s lead author and chairman of the department of exercise science at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health services commented in the USA Today that walking after a meal “really blunts the rise in blood sugar”.   The study also found that since for most, the dinner meal is the largest meal, causing the greatest rise in blood sugar,  walking after it most effective time to influence blood sugar levels.  Blood sugars tend to rise after dinner and throughout the night in those who are inactive and may stay elevated until the next morning.

While a very well designed and controlled study it only had 10 subjects, so the results need to be confirmed by a larger study. But no need for you to wait for confirmation. Just keep doing those Thermals and may help manage your blood sugar while you burn a few calories and boost your metabolism.



Wellness Wednesday: Lifestyle Trumps Genetics

Have you ever read something, heard someone speak on a topic, had the information, but for some reason the knowledge didn’t particularly impact you all that much? Then, a month or even a year later you hear it again and the proverbial lightning bolt strikes as an AHA moment is born.

I read about epigenetics in Dr. Pamela Peeke’s book, The Hunger Fix, almost a year ago. The Hunger Fix provides a great introduction to the problem of food addiction from both a scientific and behavioral perspective. I frequently recommend the book to my clients. The funny thing is however, her very well-written section on epigenetics didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me — until I heard her speak at a conference I attended last week. Lightning bolt! AHA!

The prefix “epi” means above or on. Simply defined, epigentics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve modifications to the actual genome, or genetic code, because the changes occur on top of the genome. It is a quest to understand why some genes turn off and some turn on, as well as why some genes whisper and some genes yell, even though the gene itself doesn’t change in any way.

At this point, you might be scratching your head a bit wondering where my lightning bolt came from. Wait for it…wait for it. This is the thing, if I am genetically predisposed to obesity or addiction, the way I live can either make those genes louder, or silence them altogether. The way I live can enliven the gene or suppress it. Thus, I can create my own suffering or I can shut the possibility down just through some choices I make in lifestyle and perhaps environment. As Bob Wright so eloquently says, “Lifestyle trumps genetics.” In other words, my genes do not determine my destiny. I have the power to alter the expression of my genes by changing what happens on top of them.

Here’s how it works. We have billions of cells in our body and every cell has the exact same DNA, or genetic code. Your heart cells also have the genes for a liver cell, a skin cell, eye cell, lung cell, tongue cell…you get the picture. There is potential for serious identity issues if your heart cell doesn’t know how to just be a heart cell, right? Enter methyl groups. Methyl groups are organic compounds that bond to the genome and instruct them on how to express themselves. They bond differently to different cells so their instructions for expression are different. For instance, when a methyl group bonds to a skin cell, it tells the genome to say, “Hey, I’m a skill cell” while silencing the liver and heart genes.

The second part of this process involves proteins called histones. Histones coil around the genome and determine how much the gene expresses itself. You can think of methyl groups as a switch and histones as a dial. Histones wound tightly around the genome cause the gene to be expressed less, while loosely wound histones cause the gene to express more. Remember, these histones as well as the methyl groups don’t actually reside within the genome, but rather sit on top of it. Therefore, they influence the way your genes are expressed without actually altering the gene.

Why is this exciting to me? Dr. Peeke explains it well. She refers to histones as genetic referees, “scanning every action you take and choice you make, switching the message that a particular gene will deliver to the rest of the body. Eat junk food and your genetic “speech” or expression changes, resulting in a whole cascade of biological changes, including increased body inflammatory processes. Eat an apple and histones order the gene to start a different cascade, resulting in improved immune function.” Dr. Peeke says that the goal is to have happy histones.

This is some powerful stuff people and we are going to hear a lot more about it in the upcoming years. The way we live and the choices we make have the capacity to change our genetic expression. We don’t have to be slaves to unfortunate heredity. We have the power to influence our bodies and mind on the most basic and profound level…the genetic level.

To learn more about this burgeoning area of scientific research, watch the attached video or visit some of the links below.



Becoming a Morning Person

From Becca Hamm, Summer Intern 2013


Every now and then, maybe sometimes more than we would like, we all need a little help to get motivated for the day. We’ve all heard the saying “The early bird gets the worm”, but are there really any advantages to getting a kick start to your day? Not only are there advantages, but a significant amount of scientific research supports the early riser routines, especially ones who incorporate exercise in the morning.

According to Dr. N.N. Khanna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals, due to the high secretion of catecholamines in the morning, which increase blood pressure and the likelihood of blood clotting, waking up early and working out can help reduce blood pressure, stress levels, and the risk of cardiac arrest and stoke. Dr. Sameer Srivastava, Associate Director of Non Invasive Cardiology, also states “People who work out in the morning are happy people, because morning workouts produce endorphins, which are stress busters”. It is also suggested that breathing exercises in the morning will help you stay relaxed and keep those stress levels down.

Not only has research found that earlier risers are more motivated and nicer to be around in the morning, they’re also happier, healthier, and more self-satisfied than others who tend to sleep in. Exercising may not always be an option in the morning, but here are a few tips to still help you get a jump start to your day! Pay attention to your five senses and become present as you awaken to enjoy yet another beautiful day!

The Moment You Wake Up: It starts from the second the alarm goes off. Instead of waking up to a constant beeping noise blaring in your ears, studies have found that a clock that gradually wakes you up with a softer tune or peaceful music, can help lower the heart rate and slowly wake you up.

Give Yourself a Pep Talk: Many of us dread the alarm clock in the morning because it reminds us of all the obligations we have for the day. Before you even get out of bed and start reminding yourself of all the things you have to do, rephrase it into what you get to do. Stay positive and look forward to what the day will bring!

Learn To Love The Sunshine: One of the most powerful things to force your body to awaken in the morning is the natural sunlight. Try to place your bed near a large window with thin blinds to slowly wake your body with the morning light. Take a few slow, deep breathes and be ready to conquer the day!

While You Get Ready: To help you get energized before you head out the door, use a citrus scent in a shampoo or soap, that has lemon, orange, or grapefruit. This will help being in touch with your senses and become more present.

Bring On The Protein: You already know what is going to be said next… “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” After sleeping all night, our metabolism and blood sugars are at its lowest, so be sure to fuel up your body! Think of a breakfast for champions meal and incorporate a protein along with colorful fruits, vegetables, and a whole grain into your morning.

Before Going To Bed: Have an hour before you go to bed be devoted to “unwind period”. Try to stay away from the electronics or another other obligations you might have for the next day to give your body a chance to slow down and enjoy a night of rest!



Healthy Recipes: Mango Breeze

mango breeze

This is a special summer drink that really quenches your thirst and spices up your summer drinking.  Using a variety of fruits offers a variety of flavors and vitamins.  You can change this up and add orange juice concentrate as well along with a little vanilla extract; it’s like a mango orange dreamsicle!



 2 cups             Mango, frozen concentrate

2 gallons          Water

4 cups             Splenda


  •  In large pitcher, place all ingredients.
  • Stir until well incorporated
  • Let sit for an hour in refrigerator
  • Serve with fresh fruit in individual glasses for garnish


Serves:                       32

Serving Size:             8 ounces

Total Calories:          20






Fitness Friday: Michael Brams Success Story (Brams the Man)

There have been many people who have walked through the doors of Hilton Head Health and have gone home successful. Today, June 14th, 2013 marks the day that one of our guests, Michael Brams, has achieved his goal weight. After 7 weeks of H3 dedication in the fall of 2012 combined with 12 weeks of H3 dedication in the Spring/Summer of 2013, (75+ lbs later), Michael Brams says he is “feeling and looking the best I’ve felt since high school”. Michael took full advantage of the program; diligently following the meal plan, taking several fitness classes a day, signing up for personal trainings, cooking lessons, one on one nutrition consults, and learning as much as he possibly could in order to apply these healthy habits for when he goes back home. As a Fitness Specialist here, I am thrilled to show off some of the amazing accomplishments Michael has made during his time here. Please enjoy the video that does just that! =D



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