Heart Disease

More than 80% of Firefighters in the U.S. Are Overweight or Obese, But What’s Being Done?

obesity-in-firefighters-2014

A new study out of the CDC finds that 82.5% of firefighters in the U.S. are overweight or obese, a figure alarmingly higher than the rest of the general population, which hovers around 67%. The study found that, of 1,002 firefighters who participated, 854 had a BMI over 25%. A BMI under 25% is considered to be “normal.”

The main purpose of the Centers for Disease Control’s study was to determine whether firefighters were receiving recommendations from their health care providers regarding their weight and whether they needed to gain weight, lose weight, or simply maintain their current weight. The study found that 69% of them, despite having visited their physician in the last 12 months, received no recommendations or advice.

This is especially problematic, considering that data from earlier this year by Johns Hopkins University found that cardiovascular problems are the leading cause of death (45%) for active duty firefighters. They attribute that staggering statistic to the high stress factor of the job and poor lifestyle habits surrounding it.

What can be done to reduce obesity in our first responders? (more…)

With a 90 Pound Weight Loss, Brigette Underwood is About to Hit ‘Onederland.’

I’m just throwing it out there, I adore Brigette Underwood. Today’s true weight loss story comes to us from deep in the heart of Mississippi. This southern girl knows her food triggers (fried chicken), but now instead of yo-yo dieting, she’s finding balance and a healthier relationship with food than she’s ever had before. Look at that smile. I want to sit and sip on some sweet tea with you, girl.

brigette underwood collage 1

More from Brigette in her own words.

Tell me when your weight struggles began. I distinctly remember in 3rd grade a boy asking if I had a baby in my tummy. I was always bigger than my friends. I never felt pretty or accepted because of my weight. I would go through phases of crash dieting and starving myself but obviously none of that worked. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food.

What caused you to realize you needed to change? I realized I needed to change when I had a physical done before I started nursing school. My blood pressure was 150/91, the highest it had ever been, and I weighed a whopping 254lbs. How did I let myself get to that point? I don’t really know. But I knew I needed to change or I was going to have major health problems and I was only 19 years old.

How did you lose the weight? I started by simply down sizing my portions. I wasn’t necessarily eating better but I was eating less. Then one day I decided to join a gym and I fell in love with working out! What a great stress relief from nursing school. The more I worked out the better I wanted to eat. The better I ate, the better I felt.

(more…)

Mike Matteson Lost 279 Pounds Without Surgery. “I used Diet, Exercise and a Lot of Blood, Sweat and Tears.”

Mike Matteson admits, “I had every bad habit you can think of that contributed to my weight gain.” At 503 pounds, Mike says he often laid down to eat. Now, this bodybuilder, yes, I said bodybuilder, has lost an amazing 279 pounds. His success was hard won, and his story is one of the most inspirational I’ve read in a long time.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t overweight.

Over the years, Mike says he has dealt with “just about every uncomfortable thing that an obese person has to deal with.” From the bullying of classmates, to finding a seat belt that would fit across his midsection, Mike lived in a body that he never felt good about, and admittedly, didn’t take care of.

mike matteson Collage 2

Mike revealed that processed/junk and fast food were his diet staples. He never cooked, and says 90% of his meals were served by a waitress or through a drive-up window. Exercise, he admits, was nonexistent. “I was probably the laziest person you could ever meet,” he said.

I would wake up numerous times through the night gasping for breath.

Finally, Mike says the cumbersome weight of his body, the lack of sleep due to worsening apnea, and the warning by his doctor that he was pre-diabetic and would have to be placed on blood pressure medication finally culminated in the realization that he was in serious trouble. “I lived my life in bed,” he explained. “I knew if I didn’t do something that’s exactly where I would die.”

I lost the weight the good old fashioned way, with diet, exercise, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears!

At 503 pounds, Mike knew exercise would be a challenge. He started by walking to the end of his driveway and back again. Eventually, he was able to walk around the block. After one year, even though he hadn’t changed his diet, his increased activity helped him lose 100 pounds.

(more…)

The De-Stress Diet and 5 Foods for a Better Mood

good mood food

Eat more when you’re stressed? You’re not alone. In fact, all that stress eating can pack on an additional 11 pounds each year! Most of us are quick to turn to sugar and refined carbs the second tension gets high. When we feel overwhelmed, we seek out comforting food, giving it the power to make us feel better…and then worse.

A national survey conducted by NPR, Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that most changes to diet occurs during stressful times. And these changes aren’t always for the best.

The foods we choose under stress, like chocolate or simple carbohydrates such as bagels or white pasta, often take you on a hormonal roller coaster: surging and crashing hormone and blood sugar levels which leaves you more susceptible to new stresses than when you started. It’s a vicious cycle that must be stopped! (more…)

Little Blue Dynamos: My Love Affair with Blueberries Made a Blueberry Cucumber Salad

blueberries

It’s my favorite time of year: peak blueberry season! If you’re anything like me, you can’t get enough of these little balls of deliciousness. Farmers markets, U-Pick berry fields, or from the local produce store, I can’t gobble them up fast enough.

Peak season is anytime from late June through early September, so I’m even known to buy extra large amounts in bulk and freeze* for the rest of the year. Then I add them to smoothies, pancakes (my favorite recipe is this one), oatmeal, you name it! I even found a way to add these little guys to a savory salad. Don’t believe me? We’ll let you try the recipe for yourself!

blueberry cucumber salad

Why the love affair with blueberries? These little blue dynamos… (more…)

Meet the Dietitian Who Eats Butter, Sugar, and Carbs, and Says You Can, Too!

butter bread

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

As I got the butter out from my fridge the other day, a friend of mine commented in surprise, “You eat butter?”.

She’s right to question. For years, there was no butter in my kitchen because it contains a lot of saturated fat, which nutrition scientists believed could lead to heart disease and possibly increase the risk for cancer and even dementia. But being a nutritionist, I keep up with the food research, and things change. I started thinking of how my diet has changed over the past decade, and here are the main shifts; the ways I changed my own diet for the better.

I ENJOY BUTTER. Even after margarine was exposed as a trans fat nightmare, I still avoided butter because 63 percent of the fat in butter is saturated. I went along with the scientific thinking: If you eat too much saturated fat, levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) rise, and people with higher LDL are more likely to develop heart disease. (more…)

Bell Smith Lost 67 Pounds – “I’ll Never Be Skinny But I Can Still Carry Weight and Be Healthy”

Bell Smith is a belly-dancing beauty who embraces her curves because she knows they belong to a healthy body. For a time in her life, Bell let stress and grief take hold and she forgot to focus on her own well-being. Not anymore. After a 67-pound weight loss and mind-shift, Bell has transformed her life and her body.

More from Bell in her own words –

Bell Smith collage

Tell me when your weight struggles began. As a child, I could eat what I wanted and get away with it, but when I lost both my parents in the span of two years and then job stress piled on, so did the weight.  I experienced out-of-control eating, excess carb intake and I really overdid the fast food.

What caused you to realize you needed to change? I saw a family picture of myself in 2009 and thought, “I’m fat.” Since my dad’s side of the family carried a lot of weight and both parents had high blood pressure and diabetes, I knew I had to take charge.

How did you lose the weight? I knew I had gained weight, yet I had been belly dancing since 2001 and my troupe accepted me as I was. I didn’t realize how much weight I’d gained. I started off by walking in the early morning with friends while it was dark so no one could see me, then signed up for a gym membership.

(more…)

Apple’s Health App Confirmed; to Sync with Nike+, Mayo Clinic, and More

Apple HealthKit Screenshot

Remember a few months ago when we speculated about the release of a new Apple product for tracking all things health? This month, Apple Insider confirms its upcoming release.

HealthKit and its related app, simply named “Health,” will collect and store a variety of personal health data. Apple’s Senior Vice President Craig Federighi “took the wraps” off Apple’s response to the growing trend of tech-based health tracking devices. “Health” is an app that can track and store steps taken, blood pressure, blood sugar (key for diabetics!), quantity of sleep, and many other metrics.

One of Apple’s first partners on the project is Nike and their digital interface Nike+, who previously quantified activity through their own NikeFuel and the FuelBand–their response to the FitBit.

The Only Fitness Tracker Review Guide You Need (more…)

The $190 Billion Problem: It’s the Actual Cost of Obesity in the U.S.

Bistro MD obesity and healthcare costs

Health researchers continue to study—and warn about—the rising rate of obesity worldwide and particularly in the United States. The concern, of course, is for people’s overall health: Being obese is associated with a ton of medical problems including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which is why you’ve probably heard that obesity is one of the main causes of skyrocketing health care costs. (more…)

When it Comes to Workouts, Anything is Better Than Nothing

workout time

You know the drill: Wake up, work all day, come home exhausted and yet your to-do list seems to have grown longer. The last thing you want to make time for is a workout. You’ve worked hard and feel exhausted—why go running?!

When I hear this from my clients, or when I think these thoughts myself, I pose two questions:

1) Will I feel better or worse after I finish my workout? 

2) Will I regret going to work out? 

Chances are, your answers are BETTER and NO, respectively. But I get it! It’s hard to justify turning off Netflix and leaving your comfy couch to spend even a few minutes boosting your heart rate. But find your reason to remember that it is worth it. We don’t exercise simply to look smokin’ in our summer bikini; hopefully, you also exercise to feel strong, to have more energy, to sleep better and stress less, and to bring out the best version of yourself. If you don’t have 60+ minutes to devote to burning calories, that’s okay!

Anything is Better Than Nothing. 

A recent article from Shape.com explained how your brain responds to running. There’s a lot of science in the piece, but the take-away is that running definitely boosts your mood and the more in-shape you are, the better you feel. How’s that for incentive to get out and move more? (more…)