Why a "Summer Body?"

Marci Anderson - Friday, April 29, 2011

Or a "beach" body, or a "bikini" body?

Why not a "rake-the-leaves" body or a "shovel-the-snow-then-go-cross-country-skiing" body? While we're at it, how about a "clean-the-house-then-go-grocery-shopping-and-carry-the-case-of-water-yourself-'cause-you're-just-that-strong" body?

And just how IS a summer body supposed to look when compared to a winter body? Assuming you even have a "winter" body in the first place (whatever that means).

The assumption is - at least in this part of the country, where we spend a good 6 months buried beneath layers of heavy sweaters and bulky parkas - that a "winter" body is a mess.

It's worthless and disgusting. It doesn't deserve to appear in public sans layers of heavy sweaters, and is ill-suited for display during the summer months without starving or over-exercising it into some magazine editor or diet pill/book/drink/meal company's idea of a "summer" body.

And we know what THAT looks like. . .impossible to achieve (photoshopping, anyone?), maintain (never again eat chocolate?), or even aspire to (genetics, remember those?).

Why waste all that energy trying to have an impossibly "perfect" body for just a few, short months? Why not work toward having the healthiest, strongest, happiest body you can, 365 days of the year?

Trying to make your body be someone else's vision of perfect will never, ever, ever, no matter how badly you want it, be doable.

If you're unhappy in your own skin, even the perfect "summer" body isn't the answer. . .you'll soon find another flaw. Then another. Then another.

I challenge you to embrace your physical uniqueness and kick that "summer" body idea to the curb.

This post was brought to you by Cathy Leman MA, RD. Cathy Leman is the founder and owner of NutriFit, Inc., a nutrition counseling, consulting, and worksite nutrition services business located in Glen Ellyn, IL. She is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and holds a masters degree in health psychology.

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Exercise: Finding Your Happy Place

Marci Anderson - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Exercise. Just say the word and notice what feelings and thoughts come up for you. If the word exercise is accompanied by a lot of negativity, you aren't alone. In addition to my role as nutrition therapist, I am also a certified personal trainer. And I have learned quite a bit while helping many people re-construct and find their own happy place with both food and exercise.

The reality is that our bodies, minds, and spirits need and crave movement. But many of you are battling busy schedules and damaged relationships with your bodies. How many times has an over-zealous exercise regimen been accompanied by a rigid/restrictive diet?  And you wonder why you hate it?!

If you would like to work on mending your relationship with exercise, the Weightless blog is a wonderful place to start. Margarita offers some pearls of wisdom, along with practical advice. Here are a few of my own suggestions to get you started:

* We take best care of the things we love. Appreciating and showing kindness to your body are the first steps to taking better care of it.

* Choose activities which are fun and make you feel good. Your friend may love the challenge of running a 5K but chasing your kids around the playground may be a much better option for you.

* It's ok to be selfish with your "me time." Making time for a little exercise often means other things (and other people!) may have to wait...and that's ok.

Have you mended your relationship with exercise? If yes, I'd love to hear what you learned. Send your thoughts my way: marci at marci rd dot com.

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A Call To Arms...Abs, Quads, Calves, Shoulders

Marci Anderson - Sunday, November 28, 2010

Each month I try to post a blurb on exercise.  And this article (forwarded to me from a client, you know who you are and thank you) probably takes the cake.  Getting physical activity is about so much more than shaping and toning our tooshies.  And our culture's weight and body obsession has darn near ruined physical activity for many of us.  No, we won't ever look like the ladies on the cover of Shape Magazine (those air brushed fakes!) so let's stop trying.

And let's try to have a little fun with our exercise...you don't want to look like this lady to the left do you?

If reading this article doesn't inspire you to ditch Cosmo and embrace strength, I don't know what will.  Warning: this article does contain expletives. 

The Exercise Balance

Marci Anderson - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

As both a dietitian in the field of eating disorders and a certified personal trainer, I've observed first hand what a complicated issue exercise can be for A LOT of people.

 "Working out" is often associated with punishment for eating or punishment for not looking a certain way.  It's easy to feel that your exercise regimen is never "good enough" and that you never worked "hard enough." Often, our motivations for exercise stem from a negative place, but then we wonder why we can get excited about doing it!  Many people have abandoned exercise all together while others work out so excessively their body is begging for a break.  And many people vacillate between these two extremes.

If you can relate to anything I'm saying, you may want to check out a useful workbook "The Exercise Balance: What's Too Much, What's Too Little, and What's Just Right For You" by Pauline Powers MD and Ron Thompson PhD.  Here's a blurb from the book: 

Healthy exercise means finding a balance between overtraining and inactivity. By using a combination of clinical studies and real-life examples, this book shows readers how to develop their own personal prescription for discovering that balance. Written by two specialists in the field of eating disorders, it details both ends of the exercise continuum, from compulsive exercisers who push their bodies to the limit to people with little or no physical activity in their daily lives.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating, talk about the concept of Mindful Exercise.  Below are four components to keep in mind:
1. It is used to rejuvenate the body, not exhaust or deplete it
2. It enhances the mind-body connection and coordination, not confuse or disregulate it
3. It alleviates mental and physical stress, not contribute to and exacerbate stress
4. It provides genuine enjoyment and pleasure, not to provide pain and be punitive

Hopefully these words will help guide you in finding an exercise balance that's right for you.  Just as Aristotle's quote on my homepage says "For both excessive and insufficient exercise destroy one's strength, and both eating and drinking too much or too little destroy health, whereas the right quantity produces, increases or preserves it."

Consider making a list of 5 reasons you like to exercise.  But here's the catch, they can't be related to burning calories or trying to shape/change your body into something it's not.  I'll start you off with my personal favorite:
1.) Helps to reduce stress and anxiety

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Fitness Fact: Feet!

Marci Anderson - Friday, August 20, 2010

A couple of months ago, a participant in my step aerobics class asked "Marci, my feet and shins have started hurting me, what could that be from?"  So I asked her how old her shoes were.  She thought for a minute and said, "hmmm, I've had these for about a year and a half."  After following my advice and investing in a great pair of shoes, she is free from foot and shin pain.

One of the most important things to think about when it comes to exercise is making sure your feet are taken care of.  Their job is to keep you upright and take the impact on a daily basis.  Plus, when your feet don't have the right kind of support, you'll start to experience pain in your feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and even low back. Two things to consider are the right fit and replacing them often.

1.) If you don't know what kind of shoe is right for your foot or the types of exercise you like to do, find a reputable store in your area.  I always recommend my Cambridge clients to go to Marathon Sports on Mass Ave (there are 6 locations in Massachusetts).  They have expert sales reps who are trained to analyze your feet and gait, to help guide you to just the right shoe.

2.) This article gives suggestions on how often to replace your shoes.  The general consensus seems to be every 5-6 months if you are using them on a regular basis.  Remember, if your feet starting aching, you've waited too long!

I often hear people complain that their feet fall asleep while exercising or that their feet hurt, even if their shoes are new.  There are two common pitfalls to watch out for.

1.) Don't tie your laces too tight!  Give your feet a little wiggle room.
2.) Consider buying a 1/2 size bigger than you normally would.  Your feet swell while exercising and you need space for your feet to expand.

Good luck and have fun!
Marci RD, Nutrition Therapist

Produce No Case: Shape-Ups & Easy Tone

Marci Anderson - Monday, July 19, 2010

Each month I have a little fun showcasing an item that, in my opinion, just isn't as good for your health as it is advertised to be.  In the past I have showcased food items.  But last week, a client prompted me with a brilliant idea.  

She had been to City Sports in Cambridge and decided to try on a pair of Skecher's Shape-Ups (Reebok Easy-Tone is another version of the same idea).  You know the shoes.  Slim, long legged models wear them in their commercials, promising that they'll help you "burn more calories, tone muscles, and more."

So my client was curious to know whether or not there was any actual research behind the dramatic sales pitch.  So I did some research of my own.  First I looked for any data to support the claims of calorie burning and leg toning.  Nope, couldn't find anything.  Doesn't appear that either company has done any actual research that would validate such claims.  Skechers or Reebok, if you know something I don't, please send the research my way!  I'm all ears.

Then I decided to contact my colleagues. Here were their responses:

  • There was another brand that came out a few years ago with these. I bought them (because Oprah had them...lame, I know!) and they really hurt my knees so I gave them away. A chiropractor told me they were not great for your back.

  • My husband is a physical therapist and he says to stay away from them!

  • My best friend is a PT and says the same: bologna.

So it seems that at best, wearing these shoes won't lead to any body-transforming miracles.  And at worst, they may take a toll on your back, hips, and knees.  No thank you!

My advice?  Be grateful for the body you do have and take good care of it with moderate yet consistent exercise.  Your joints will thank you!


Workout Fun?

Marci Anderson - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Did you know that research shows that the right tunes can actually help you enjoy your workouts more?  I recently read this article and thought the concept was great.  If you are prone to hanging out on the couch, the right music may just help you get your bootie movin'.  Check out the playlist selections posted in the article, it may be just the motivation you need to get up, get out, and start having a little fun. :)

  Here are the top 5 songs that get me excited to exercise:
1. Right Round- Chani
2. Lovegame- Lady Gaga
3. Glamorous (Craig Dice remix)- Fergie
4.  Maneater- Nelly Furtado
5.  Bounce That- Girl Talk

What tunes get you moving?

Your beat loving dietitian in Cambridge,

Fitness Fact: Muscles = Metabolism, Really?

Marci Anderson - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Each month I try to write a little blurb on something exercise-related and I stumbled across an interesting tid- bit while preparing for a recent seminar.

Once we hit our 30's, our Resting Energy Expenditure* begins to decline by .8% for women and 1% for men each decade.  Translation: in our 30's our metabolism begins to slow down.

*REE = 55-75% of the calories or energy our body expends in a day.  These are involuntary, life sustaining activities like breathing, circulation, hormone secretion, and nerve/brain activity.

How does this decline happen? Through the loss 1.5-2 pounds of lean body mass per year.  Yikes!

But here's the good news.  We can off-set this age-related muscle loss by strength training.  Whoohoo!!!  A simple 20-30 min a couple of times a week is all it takes.

So join a strength training class, buy an exercise video and some dumbbells, or start by climbing stairs.  Every little bit counts!

Protein Drink Dangers

Marci Anderson - Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Watch CBS News Videos Online
I thought this news clip was really interesting.  Another testament to the value of eating whole, non-processed, real food!

Yoga in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

Marci Anderson - Thursday, April 15, 2010

A recent randomized clinical control trial of using yoga in the treatment of eating disorders appeared in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.  The study compared traditional treatment at an outpatient eating disorder center as compared to individual yoga plus standard care.  After 8 weeks, those in the experimental group showed lower Eating Disorder Examination scores and reduced food preoccupation following the yoga sessions.  Results show yoga as a promising adjunct therapy to eating disorder treatment.

A few reasons I think yoga is great:
*Teaches you to remain in the "present moment"- a skill that is greatly needed in our busy world and an essential component for anyone looking to change their food habits or relationship with food.  Learning how to be more present in your body allows you to listen to your body's hunger and fullness cueing.
*Helps you maintain posture and flexibility with age.
*Improves balance which helps to prevent falls.
*A great way to destress

Interested in using meditation to de-stress but don't have the means or desire to go to a yoga class?  Try this 10-minute self-guided mediation at your desk!

Your neighborhood nutritionist in Cambridge,