Author Archives: Jessica Cassity

About Jessica Cassity

Jessica Cassity is a health journalist who regularly contributes to dozens of magazines including Self, Shape, Fitness, Women's Health, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, and Details. She is also a certified fitness instructor in several disciplines, author of the book Better Each Day, and an enthusiastic cook and gardener. She is based in Portland, OR.

The No-Fail Guide to Buying the Right Sports Bra, Plus 3 to Try

sports bras

For women, the right sports bra is often the most important piece of gear no matter what sport you do. But because the requirements for running are different than those of yoga, or cycling, or Zumba, it’s hard to find one bra that works for everything you want to do. That’s why I have about 20 sports bras in my closet (I know, I know) and I’m not alone: When I polled my female friends I found that most had somewhere between 3 and 30+ sports bras (no joke!).

But it is possible to cull that number at least a little. LaJean Lawson, PhD, a sports and exercise expert who has consulted sports bra makers for a couple of decades, suggests trying on a sports bra before buying it so you don’t get strapped with a not-quite-right bra. (Ordering several from a shop with a liberal return policy works too!) Before committing, put your over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder through this series of tests:

  • The bend over: Lean forward and see if your cleavage spills over the top. This is ultra important in yoga, which has a ton of upside down poses, but spillover can also be an indication that the bra doesn’t fit right and won’t contain your assets during jumping and running.
  • The bounce: Jump up and down and watch your reflection in the mirror. If your cleavage moves more than one inch up and down this isn’t the right level or support or size for you. (more…)

The Book “I Quit Sugar” Makes Giving Up Your Habit Feel as Easy as it Sounds

You know the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, I definitely judged “I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook” but its cover, or at least its title. Give up sugar? For 8 weeks? Eek! That sounds like a lot of work and not a lot of good (or at least tasty) eating. But even the World Health Organization has joined the sugar reduction trend so when Crown Publishing sent me a copy I tried to keep an open mind.

IQuitSugar-880x1024

The book, written by Australian television personality Sarah Wilson, is a guide to slowly giving up sugar, welcoming in fat, and finding a place of balance in your body. Over 8 weeks you start to cut back on sugar then quit it all together, spend a couple of weeks without any sweetness to help reset your tastebuds and your cravings, then slowly add in a little natural sweetness as you’d like. The idea is that a little natural sugar (such as those found in fruits and brown rice syrup) goes a long ways, so long as you break your body’s processed sugar habit.

I read through the book and it sounded plausible, if not actually appealing. But when I got to the recipe section—108 healthy, inspiring meals, snacks, and desserts—I was convinced that “I Quit Sugar” deserved a place on my bookshelf. The recipes are absolutely divine. So far I’ve made two soups—a warm one with sweet potato, lentils, onion, and a blend of spices and a cool one with avocado, cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro. And I have the ingredients for a few more: fluffy squash and chia muffins, cashews chia pudding, and coconut curry meatballs, to name a few. These aren’t necessarily items I would expect to have sugar in them, but it is a good reminder that by focusing on eating good stuff I might naturally start to eat less sugar, which is a concept that’s a lot easier to digest then simply going cold-turkey on sweets. (more…)

Work it Off: 3 Ways to Burn off a 250-Calorie Corn Dog

corn dog 

I know what you’re thinking: Corn Dog? Who over the age of 12 eats those? But just imagine what a “gourmet corn dog” would taste like. Because that’s what they sell at various restaurants here in Portland: All-beef franks wrapped in some sort of locally-sourced corn batter and served with at least one type of fancy mustard. They’re delicious and are meant to be eaten with a fork and knife, because apparently these are upscale corn dogs.

Trust me: This fancy corn dog craze is going to hit restaurants near you soon, so it’s important to be prepared for the high caloric cost of this deep-fried meal-on-a-stick. CalorieCount.com estimates suggest a corn dog is around 250 calories, and while that number seems low to, I will stick with it for the sake of consistency (and to save myself even more guilt).

So what are a few of the ways I could have burned off this 250-calorie corn dog, which was my lunch one hot afternoon last week?

 

croquet

I could have played an afternoon game of croquet for 82 minutes.

 

paddleboard

I could have spent 70 minutes on a stand up paddle board.

 

bootcamp

I could have done 26 minutes of an outdoor boot camp class.

I wound up doing the boot camp class. Tis the season!


Also Read: 

A Summer Food Bucket List: 5 Recipes from Calorie Count

How to Cook with Watermelon

Work it Off: 3 Ways to Zap a 169 Calorie Gelato Bar

Work it Off: 3 Ways to Burn off a 481-Calorie Cheese Plate

More and more, when I talk to people about the one food they could never give up the answer is cheese. I don’t know if this is generation, geographical, or what, but the hard-to-break habit keeps coming up in conversation. People like their cheese, and I’m no different. I like a gooey triple cream brie on apple slices, a chunk of cheddar on crackers, and a thick dusting of parmesan on most pasta dishes. But mostly I like cheese with wine.

cheese

In the past I tabulated a Work it Off: Wine edition. Since we know exactly what it takes to burn off a couple of glasses (and 250 calories) I’m going to turn my attention to cheese. The cheese plate, to be exact, such as the two I helped take down this past week while sipping wine in the sun with various groups of friends. (This isn’t typical for me: The weather turned warm right as my birthday week hit, which led to a little extra indulgence!)

The cheese on a typical cheese plate adds up to around 481 calories, which no doubt explains why it tastes so good and goes down so easily.

How, exactly, could I have burned off these 481 extra calories? (more…)

On Demand Eating: 6 Types of Food Delivery Services that Will Bring You Whatever You Crave

grocery

Remember when having food delivered basically meant the Domino’s Pizza guy ringing your doorbell? Now you can get pretty much anything delivered to your doorstep, regardless of where you live or what you feel like eating. Here are 6 of our favorite healthy ways to make the most of this new craze for on demand eating:

If You’re an Athlete: You know how sports drinks and energy bars seem to take up a lot of shelf space at the grocery store? It can be hard to cut through the clutter and find the best foods to fuel your workouts. The pros at The Feed do this for you. Their in-house experts customize a monthly box of sports nutrition for you or you can build your own. Boxes start at $20.01

If You Like to Cook (but hate to shop): We’ve already reported on Amazon’s growing grocery delivery service and other companies like Fresh Direct are also carving out a space in the market. This is great for anyone who likes to keep food in the fridge but can’t seem to make the time to shop. Some services charge a fee of around $10, which may seem steep or cheap, depending on how you feel about grocery stores. (more…)

Work it Off: 3 Ways to Burn off the 350 Calories in a Chocolate Croissant

This past fall I noticed a big flaw in my diet: When I wrote from the comfort of a coffee shop I tended to treat myself to baked goods. When I worked from home I snacked on whatever was available, which was usually fruit or nuts. Oops!

choc croissant

Of course, my coffee shop routine didn’t start out this way. At first I ate a chocolate croissant every few outings, but before long this turned into an each and every time splurge. (Clearly I didn’t read this article on choosing healthy snacks at a coffee shop!) So I changed course and started working from home more. But after several months of this new routine I decided that I needed a change of scenery.

This past week I returned to my favorite coffee shop and, for old times sake, ordered my favorite baked good of all, a chocolate croissant. I love the flaky pastry, the gooey chocolate… the way I can drag it out to last a good part of an hour.

I do not love the 350 calories in each one.

What are some ways I could have burned off these extra 350 calories? (more…)

The No-Helmet Bicycling Movement is Harmful to Your Health

Every sport has its own built-in factions: If you’re a runner do you wear minimal shoes or full-support ones? If you do yoga, do you like traditional yoga or hot yoga? When I started cycling I was pretty surprised to find that the point of division was whether or not your wore a helmet.

bike helmet

“Who doesn’t wear a helmet?” was my initial thought when I saw fellow cyclists pedaling without any protection on their heads. Hadn’t they seen the stats showing that helmet save lives? I’m squarely in the helmet-wearing camp, using science (and common sense) to back-up my position. Because of that, I continue to be surprised that people on the no-helmet side of the argument also use science to support their claims. But it shouldn’t be too unexpected: The interesting thing with numbers is that you can spin them to support just about anything you want. (For a good example, see this tongue-in-cheek article on why seat belts and child restraints are hazardous.)

But back to bicycling. Yesterday, via Facebook, I was directed to yet another anti-helmet argument, this one written by a student at Yale. He had all sorts of supporting documents, pie charts, etc., that claimed to show: A.) that cycling is less dangerous than walking down the street, among other things; and B.) that helmets may actually be harmful.

I read the piece. Then I checked his math. And he was spinning the statistics to make his case. Here’s the beginning, and cornerstone, of his argument: (more…)

A Full Day of Cinco de Mayo-Inspired Recipes, from Breakfast to Margaritas

cinco de mayo

Diets in Review has been covering healthy Cinco de Mayo celebrations for 7 years! This year, rather than create yet another new recipe for good-for-you-guacamole, we’ve put together our hit list for a healthy Cinco de Mayo celebration. Because we’re pretty sure we already nailed it.

 

breakfast burrito

For Breakfast:
Start your day with a Fajita Breakfast Burrito. This spin on the classic gets its flavor from sausage and green peppers with a little cumin, soy sauce, and vinegar for good measure. It tastes great, and the healthy helping of protein, fat, fiber, and carbs will keep you full for hours.

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Work it Off: 3 Ways to Burn Off a 244-Calorie Serving of Guacamole

May is here and Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. You know what that means: Guacamole season—which in my mind  lasts from around May through September—is upon us!

guac

It may be obvious, but Guacamole is probably my favorite food, one of the three things I would want with me on a desert island. A few years ago I even had a “guac off” for my birthday party, asking guests to bring different versions of the classic green condiment/first-course which we of course then taste-tested and voted on. Versions included one with cranberries, one with chipotle chilis, and one with bacon. All were delicious, no surprise.

The good new is, guacamole is made of all sorts of good for you stuff: the avocados are full of heart healthy omega 3s and the onions, cilantro, jalepeno, and so forth provide a ton of nutrients. But moderation is not something I have an easy time practicing with guacamole, and I know I’m not alone: nutrition sites suggest a serving size of 1 oz., or about 2 Tablespoons. But as anyone who’s ever planted themselves next to the guac bowl at a party, it’s hard to stop there. I’ve easily eaten 2/3 of a cup on my own, which contains more like 244 calories. (Let’s not even get into the calories from the chips, which shoot this number way way up!)

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8 Natural Cures for Knee Osteoarthritis Aches

Five years ago, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with pretty severe knee osteoarthritis. I was a on the young side for this condition: I was still in my late 20s although my doctor said my knees were more like those of an 80-year-old. The good news was, and still is, that while I suffer from occasional swelling in my joints I don’t really experience much pain. This is part luck, and part careful planning. If you’re been feeling any extra aches or have a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis here are some tricks that have helped me minimize any discomfort and will allow me to put off treatment (i.e., a knee replacement) for as long as possible:

 

heels

1. Ditch the high heels. Funny but true: This was probably the hardest lifestyle change to make. I was living in New York where shoes are a real part of the dress code. But I had flashes of pain each time I walked down the stairs in them, or stood for long periods of time. If osteoarthritis is a wearing down of the cartilage between the bones I realized that this was one thing I needed to avoid in order to give my knees TLC.

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