I got the nutritionist referral at one of those doctor’s appointments that happens after one gets insurance after a while without and decides to get everything checked. In this case, it really was everything; this doctor’s appointment also led to a topical acne prescription and a referral to a GI doctor because I thought I might be lactose intolerant but have a family history of Crohn’s and colitis. (Turns out I am just lactose intolerant.) My doctor wrapped it up by saying I should lose weight and giving me the name of a nutritionist.
My nutritionist, let’s call her Belinda, worked first out of my doctor’s office and later out of a chiropractor’s office around the corner from where my mother lived. (This may seem convenient, but after I spent a half hour talking about food, I’d go have dinner with my mother, and always felt really self-conscious about it.) We met once a week (and later every other week) for a weigh-in and what I thought of as a food therapy session.
Belinda was of the belief that most weight gain has an underlying cause, be it mental or physical. We ruled out a lot of health issues via … Read the rest
When I was growing up, we had a VHS tape of Arsenic and Old Lace that I watched probably a hundred times. It was one of my mother’s favorite movies. The story is very silly, but if you’ve never seen it, the plot circles around a couple of eccentric old ladies who take old bachelors out of their misery by serving them wine spiked with arsenic.
Indeed, arsenic has a fine tradition as a silent killer, and the detection of it in the body of a dead person spawned the development of forensic science as we know it today. Since it’s a known poison, it must be pretty dangerous, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Arsenic is very common. Low levels of it are found in soil, water, and air, and are then absorbed by plants, including vegetables and grains we eat every day. Prolonged exposure to low levels of arsenic can affect the way your cells communicate, which means it could play a role in the development of diseases like diabetes and cancer.
In the 1800s, taking arsenic as a health supplement was all the rage for a while. Visitors to Styria in southeast Austria reported that the residents there put … Read the rest
I’m a skeptic by nature, and I was raised by scientists, so my inclination is always to see whether something really has benefits or if it’s just the latest fad. So I thought I’d look into a couple of health products with buzz to see what’s legit and what’s a waste of money.
Sometimes mislabeled as a mushroom, kombucha is a colony of bacteria and yeast, which is often added to tea and then left to ferment. Proponents say drinking it helps the immune system, prevents cancer, and improves digestive health. Is this true?
Probably not. Consuming kombucha if you’re healthy doesn’t pose much risk, but science doesn’t support the health benefits. On the other hand, studies show kombucha can cause upset stomachs and allergic reactions. Kombucha tea was pulled from a number of stores a few years ago because the fermentation process continued after bottling, and so the alcohol content was too high. Many people have tried making their own kombucha tea, and you can buy the cultures—a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY—at some health food stores. But home brewing could cause dangerous molds to get into the brew. So drink at your own risk.… Read the rest
“Join us for our newest group exercise class—Zumba!” the flier read. “What the heck is Zumba?” I remember thinking. I was 13 years old in the locker room of the YMCA in Charlotte, NC. When I asked my group fitness fanatic mother about it later, even she didn’t know what the class was. After a bit of Googling, we found out Zumba is, essentially, a dance fitness class.
The following Thursday, my mother (who was just excited that I was finally old enough to participate in the group exercise classes) dragged me to this mysterious dance class. The music was already blasting as we walked in. The instructor was at the front of the room decked out in vibrant clothes with “Zumba” plastered all over them. Class participants were lined up in rows in front of the instructor and the mirrored wall behind her. I immediately made a bee line for the back row in the back corner of the room.
Now, I’d be lying if I said that first class (or that first month) of Zumba was easyand I’d definitely be lying if I said I looked good doing it. Luckily for me, everyone in the class was new … Read the rest
So you’ve decided to start working out. Maybe you’re new to exercise, maybe it’s just been awhile. There are a few important things to consider.
For example, a friend of mine decided to take up running recently. She dusted off an old pair of athletic sneakers from the back of her closet that were pretty old but had barely been worn. Her first time out running, the impact really hurt her knees. Was she just out of shape? No; a runner friend informed her that the foam in sneakers degrades over time, so even if you barely wore those running shoes, if they’re more than a year old, they’re probably not doing you any good.
What other things should you consider before starting to work out again?
First, if you haven’t worked out in a while, it’s a good idea to see your doctor and get a check up, or check in to make sure there aren’t any underlying conditions you could exacerbate by working out.
Second, for safety’s sake, wear the right clothes for your activity. Replace those old sneakers. If you’re running, many running stores offer consultations for free so that you can find the sneakers that will … Read the rest
Evann Clingan started her fitness blog, EvannClingan.com, two years ago to chronicle the start of her running journey. In just two years, she has transformed from beginner to marathon runner, Finish Line brand ambassador, and role model for others looking to take on the fitness world. She has completed destination races in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Walt Disney World, San Francisco, and Vancouver, and shows no sign of putting her sneakers away anytime soon.
In a recent blog post about turning 27, Evann reflects on her past year, including her decision to sign up for her first marathon, writing:
To achieve a big goal, want it (a little) more than you’re afraid of it.You have to want the big goals, but fearing the process keeps you working toward them.
To Your Health, NY! reached out to Evann to see how she balances fitness goals with a full-time job and what advice she has for becoming more active. Read her answers below!
To Your Health, NY: When did you start getting into fitness and a healthy lifestyle? And why did you decide to start a health blog?
Evann Clingan: I actually started dancing when I was about 3 years old. I … Read the rest
Sugar, we’re going down swinging. These are more than just angst-ridden song lyricssugar really is taking us down, and we are fighting it because we don’t wanna hear it. Oh, how I love sugar. A melt-y ice cream cone on a steamy summer night, a powdery funnel cake at a carnival, a hot, flaky donut on a windy winter morningthese are just a few of my favorite things. But, in case you weren’t aware, sugar can be as addictive as alcohol or any other drug, like cocaine and nicotine.
When you consume large amounts of sugars, the reward centers of the brain are affected. A large amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers (aka makes us feel good), is released. Millions of people are suffering from sugar addiction without even realizing it, and not without consequences. Addiction symptoms: needing something sugary after a meal, rewarding or comforting yourself with sweet and starchy foods, special trips to the grocery store to satisfy sweet cravings, a secret “sweet stash,” justifying sugar as healthy (“But it’s organic cane sugar!”), the midday sugar slump, and the most telling of alltrying to quit it and failing.
The war … Read the rest
Conventional wisdom seems divided on this issue. Is it better to skip breakfast or to eat it? Will skipping breakfast cause you to gain more weight or lose it? Is it healthier to eat breakfast?
The answer is: it depends.
I realize that’s unsatisfying. And I’m an avowed breakfast eater, but I know plenty of people who get nauseous if they eat first thing in the morning. So I decided to investigate to see what the real truth was.
So, first things first: will eating/skipping breakfast help with weight loss? Studies show that breakfast skippers tend to overeat later in the day–snacking more and eating larger dinners. If you skip breakfast, youll likely get hungry before lunch time, which can lead to extra snacking–and calories you don’t need. Studies also show that young people who don’t eat much at breakfast are at risk for developing metabolic problems later in life.
Skipping breakfast can cause other issues. It can affect focus and memory. Studies show skipping breakfast might increase the risk of diabetes in women and the risk of heart disease in men.
But some people handle skipping breakfast just fine. In fact, because breakfasts tend to be carb-heavy (cereal, toast) … Read the rest
Pilates (pi-LAH-teez) is a system of exercise focused on improving strength, flexibility, endurance, posture, and focus. It’s similar to yoga, but the emphasis is on your body’s core: primarily the abdomen, lower back, and upper thighs.
Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates, a former gymnast who created the exercises for injured dancers. Many of the movements are based on yoga poses or animal movements.
Pilates exercises are often done using equipment. Some equipment is simple: mats, rings, and large stability balls, for example. Other equipment is more complex. A reformer has an adjustable foot bar, a carriage (the part where you put your body; your position depends on the exercise) and straps or rope to pull on. The carriage has springs and gears to provide resistance. You then do a series of exercises by pulling on the straps or pushing against the foot bar. Another common piece of equipment is the Cadillac, also called a trapeze tower. It looks intimidating, but it is used in a variety of exercises, some easy—working against the resistance of bars or straps—and some more challenging—using bars to lift your body and hold poses. The wunda chair is also a resistance machine. It has bars … Read the rest
Two months ago, I did what I’ve wanted to do ever since I moved to NYC: I bought a bike. Though there are plenty of people who think I’m crazy for biking the busy streets of Brooklyn and boroughs beyond, I can honestly say it’s one of best decisions I’ve made in the year since moving here from North Carolina after college.
After a lovely ride to and around Prospect Park, Hilly (yes, I name inanimate objects) and I take a rest to enjoy the park sun and some reading.
Obviously, there are serious physical health benefits to commuting by bike to work and to getting out and biking whenever I feel like it (which is a lotreally, I’m obsessed). My legs, core, arms, even wrists and hands, feel stronger. I’ve noticed fewer aches and pains in my knees and feet, as I put less weight on my joints while cycling to places I used to walk to. And apparently, new full-time bicycle commuters can expect to lose an average of 13 pounds within the first year of commuting!
My body isnt the only thing benefitting from cycling, as I’ve noticed a change in my psychological health too. … Read the rest