With a Little Help from a Nutritionist: One-on-One Help to Lose Weight

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 more testing with my doctor—no thyroid problems, for example, although those also run in my family—and then spent a part of each appointment talking about emotional eating. But the bulk of our sessions were about strategies.

For the record, I did lose weight. I lost quite a bit right away while my body adjusted, and then a pound or two a week after that. I also plateaued and gained weight back, but these were largely at times when I was … Read the rest

Arsenic: Friend or Foe?

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 a little in their coffee. Men and women took it to clarify their complexions and help with breathing problems. Scientists who visited the region observed that the arsenic didn’t seem harmful, and that in fact, many of the arsenic-eaters seemed quite strong and healthy. When pale complexions were the fad, women applied arsenic to their faces, which constricted capillaries and made skin look whiter. Peddlers of arsenic health tonics pushed taking it orally to treat a plethora of maladies.

Since … Read the rest

Fads and Fiction: Which Products Are Legit and Which Aren’t?

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.


Kombucha 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.

Sources: Mother Jones and Mayo Clinic


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Join the Party: Get Hooked on Zumba

“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 too. We all stumbled through the warm-up dance, a sort of grapevine dance, as we followed the instructor’s moves and her few spoken directions. We laughed our way through some of the Latin moves that us Southern white folk had never encountered. We tried to mimic every move the same exact way the instructor did—and didn’t look nearly as sexy doing it. But here’s the thing: no matter how ridiculous we looked or felt, by the end of it we … Read the rest

Getting Back in the Workout Groove

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.


Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises are exercises that are done to tighten pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. They entail acquiring the pelvic flooring muscles for an amount of time (normally 5-10 seconds) and after that kicking back the contraction. By doing so you achieve much better bladder control, really feel tighter, and also stop long-term health issue. They are mostly executed by female yet could additionally be performed by men. Kegels could be testing to carry out due to the fact that it frequently tough to knowingly get the pelvic floor muscular tissues. The complying with are some Kegel workout tips that can assist you better perform them.


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, … Read the rest

NYC Fitness Blogger Evann Clingan Shares Her Secrets to Staying Motivated

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 competed throughout elementary and middle school before switching to cheerleading in high school. When I moved to New York, I wanted to take advantage of the rapidly growing fitness scene. I first started to take boutique fitness classes. It wasnt until 2013 that I started running. I started my blog around that time to share my healthy experiences with others.

TYH: How do you balance your fitness and blogging goals with your intense full-time job? EC: I am asked this … Read the rest

It’s Not Me, It’s You: Breaking Up with Sugar

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 on sugar is not a new one. Health gurus and doctors have spoken out on this issue for a while, and much research has been done on the effects of sugar and refined sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, which lurks in tons of processed foods, including many “diet” or “healthy” foods. There are even some people who want to tax sugar in hopes that this would dissuade Americans from eating so much of it. In 1822, Americans consumed 25 … Read the rest

The Great Debate: Should You Eat Breakfast?

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) skipping it may help you shift your diet to eating more lean protein and fewer refined carbohydrates. Intermittent fasters have also had positive results when they skip breakfast (something I hope to return to more in depth in a future post).

So, basically, stick with what works. Personally, I feel like I need breakfast to fuel my morning activities, especially if I’m exercising. I need the fuel or I start to feel awful mid-workout. Plenty of people do fine—no overeating … Read the rest

What Is Pilates?

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 and pads for the user to do balance and strength exercises.The Cadillac

Pilates has six principles:

1. Centering: Bring focus to your body’s center, or the area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. Most exercises begin at the center

2. Concentration: Bring your attention to the exercise and commit to doing it fully.

3. Control: Perform exercises with complete control over your muscles.

4. Precision: Move each part of your body precisely, placing it appropriately and aligning it relative … Read the rest

Why a Bike Life Is a Better Life

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. It feels so much better to muscle my way to work, observing morning life on the streets of BK than to travel awkwardly with the bustling (grumpy) crowds through tunnels in the ground. Don’t get me wrong; I think public transportation is fabulous, the subway is literally a masterpiece, and there are stories I could tell that I sincerely don’t think could happen anywhere but the NYC subway—it’s full of interesting people. However, personally, I think feeling the sunshine on … Read the rest