MEC launches national fitness movement

- September 18th, 2014

In case you missed it last week, there’s some good news for young adults from the folks at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Here’s the press release:

Who knew healthy food could be this delicious?

- September 18th, 2014

Fresh Fit FoodsFor 21 days, I’ll be dining from the Fresh Fit Foods menu.

Mmnnn … who knew healthy food could be this delicious?

For those who haven’t given their taste buds (and the rest of their bodies) the nutritious pleasure, Fresh Fit Foods is a food service that operates out of World Health’s Glenora location at 10720 142 St., in Edmonton.

I got my first taste of Fresh Fit Foods back in the spring when I won the 2014 World Health Media Transformation Challenge. I dropped 38 pounds during that six-week fitness challenge and Fresh Fit Foods was a big reason why.

Just like its website says, Fresh Fit Foods was my “personal chef, grocery shopper and nutrition coach” — all wrapped into one. All I had to do was pick up my food every few days — which was prepared fresh on location — and eat it at the right times (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks). That’s it. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, as my oldest daughter says.

Well … um … actually, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a tiny bit of discomfort in the beginning. You see, I had to get used to eating proper portions. Like many North Amercians, I like to “supersize” my meals. Fresh Fit Foods, of course, offers sensible portions — the amount that we should actually consume in one sitting. That was a bit of a reality check for me.

But thankfully, what my meal plan lacked in excessive calories, it more than made up for with quality. And that was critical to my success. Fact is, the food tasted great and didn’t leave me wanting more. I was satiated and energized after every meal — not sluggish.

So I stuck to the mealplan — veering off for only a few cheat meals — through the full six weeks. And along with my hard work in the gym under the tutelage of personal trainer Dennis Brent, I was able to melt the pounds off.

Fast-forward to today and I’m back on the plan after splurging a tad during the summer.

Here’s a look at Day 1.

Breakfast:

Day 1 — Breakfast

Countryside Breakfast

Lunch:

Day 1 lunch

Chicken Salad Wrap label

Snack:

Egg salad snack

Egg salad snack label

Dinner:

Day 1 dinner

Chicken salad label

Snack

Vega snack

Vega snack label back

‘Ever heard of the Malory Band?’

- September 10th, 2014
malory band

The Malory Band

My wife recently asked me if I had ever heard of the Malory Band.

I did have a vague recollection of the product because I’d remembered receiving a few emails earlier this year from a company spokesperson touting it.

On closer inspection this week, methinks it’s an interesting concept. Albeit a simple one. It involves a little psychology. And as anyone who knows me knows: I’m a sucker for psychology.

The Malory Band is a “narrow, adjustable cord that is worn around the waist,” as described on www.maloryband.com.

“It feels tighter as you eat, keeping you conscious of the quantity of food that you consume. It acts as a psychological alarm bell to your conscious mind, warning you not to over-eat.”

Apparently this Pavlovian-like idea is inspired by a “centuries-old technique.”

I subscribe to a similar technique: if my jeans start to feel too tight, then I know I had better get my butt in gear at the gym and also ease up in the kitchen.

But I suppose the Malory Band is a more precise gauge of an expanding waistline.

And, at the very least, it is refreshing that the Malory Band doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is: a psychological tool for weight loss.

“The band will not MAKE you slim,” reads the website. “As we all know, a healthy diet and regular exercise are the only ways to achieve lasting weight loss. However, when you have made the psychological decision to lose weight, the Malory Band will act as a great support, reminding you to cut back on what and how much you are eating.”

It’s certainly not for everyone. But if it helps people take control of their eating — and ultimately their lives — then more power to them.

Here’s one woman’s success story (emailed to me several months ago) …

Tina before and after

Tina Oliver before (at 260 pounds) and after (at 150 pounds).

Tina Oliver, 45 from Harrogate, works as a hairdresser in a busy salon. Tina’s interests were centred on her customers, her many sugary cups of tea throughout the day and her reward for a productive day: an enormous takeaway in the evening, in front of the television. Tina weighed 260 lbs, took a UK dress size 26 and had a morbidly obese BMI of 43.

In September 2012, Tina visited the dentist for work to correct her rotting teeth and was told by her doctor that she was borderline diabetic. The same week, she saw a picture taken by a friend, of herself in front of a pile of cakes. Frightened by her recent news, Tina took a life-changing decision. She would join the gym, follow a slimming plan and try out a prototype weight loss product, recommended by a close friend.

The product was a narrow cord, called a Malory Band, that Tina wore around her waist, on a 24/7 basis. It provided her with a constant awareness of her body and her food intake, as the cord would feel tighter as she ate. Such a simple concept, but one that Tina realised worked very quickly.

The weight began to drop off and Tina’s gym sessions became more productive. With a supportive family, close network of friends and the knowledge that she was saving her own life, Tina ate sensibly, worked with her trainer at the gym and continued to listen to her body, via the Malory Band. The fully adjustable band offered an immediate gauge of her size, so that as she lost weight and moved the button to make a smaller band, Tina was instantly aware if she over-indulged. Never wanting to regain the weight she had worked so hard to lose, Tina started to train for a local half-marathon, something she wouldn’t have been able to contemplate even a few months earlier.

“When I joined the gym and had my induction, I almost passed out. I could barely walk, never mind run. My trainer was great and worked with me to establish a fat-burning programme that didn’t put too much pressure on my already stressed joints and that was fun. I began to enjoy myself and started to understand how people become addicted to exercise.”

In August 2013, Tina had hit her target weight of 150lbs, a full 100 lbs lighter than she had been.

“Losing the weight was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but now wish that I’d done it 10 years ago. I look younger, my skin is fresh and bright and I feel like a different person. I know that I have extended my life expectancy and it’s that realisation that will never let me go back to how I was. My eating and exercise regimes are fully in place, as is my Malory Band. I’ll never take that band off, for as long as I shall live. It keeps me aware and that’s what I never had before.”

Wearing a Malory Band, there’s no calorie counting, omission of food groups or faddy diets. It can be worn 24/7 as its fabric is washable, durable and can even be worn in the shower. The band has a unique button-hole system, allowing it to be made smaller as you lose the inches. You can stop the inches creeping back on by continuing to wear the band — so your weight loss product turns into your weight maintenance program.

Video: ‘Press experience’ at CrossFit Games

- September 10th, 2014

My tan has long since started to fade, but I’m left with nothing but fond memories of my trip to California this summer for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

Here’s a video montage courtesy Reebok highlighting the “press experience” portion of the trip.

* * *

Website: http://www.edmontonsun.com/author/cary-castagna

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keeping-Fit-with-Cary-Castagna/106367266730

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/CaryIsKeepingFit#g/u

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/cary-castagna/

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/CaryCastagna

Eight facts about ‘healthy’ eating on-the-go

- September 9th, 2014

(Note: The following is a guest post from Dr. Mike Fenster, author of The Fallacy of the Calorie.)

Eight surprising medical facts about ‘healthy’ eating on-the-go

Road Trip Credit iStockPhotoBefore you hit the road on that holiday vacation or business trip with a mindset of maintaining a healthy diet regimen, beware! What you “think” you know about healthy food choices can hurt you. Eating healthfully can be extra-challenging when you are out and about, whether traveling remotely, in transit from point A to point B, or dining out locally.

Below, cardiologist, chef and martial artist Dr. Mike Fenster, author of ‘The Fallacy of the Calorie,’ lists 8 medically-based food facts to help you correct common dietary deceptions. This is information that’ll compel you to rethink your approach to healthy eating not only when you travel, but also when you’re preparing every day fare at home:

1. Diet salad dressings are equally, or more, detrimental.  Opting for a salad even with “light” dressing when dining out may not be the healthiest choice. Whether it is low calorie, low fat, or regular salad dressing, it’s often loaded with omega-six polyunsaturated plant oils—too much of which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. In fact, consuming too much of these salad dressings can be even more harmful to your waistline and overall health than what you presume to be “less healthy” menu items you were trying to avoid with the best of intentions. When opting for salad, stick with just a little olive oil, vinegar, fresh lemon juice or nothing at all.

2. Burgers beat deli meat. Despite conventional thinking, the consumption of fresh red meat that isn’t over processed has not been associated with any increased risk of heart disease, cancer or mortality. Many restaurants today, outside of the fast food variety, offer freshly ground, quality burgers—some even use beef that’s organic, grass fed and pasture raised. In contrast to fresh red meat, the consumption of highly processed meat and meat products like that typically used in deli sandwiches often presumed to be a healthier option over burgers- are proven to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and mortality. Piling on a few zombiefied vegetables that have marginal nutritional value won’t give the meal much more health merit.

3. Diet drinks are tied to disease.  The common misconception that you can avoid or compensate for poor food choices with diet drinks is a double edged exercise in futility. In fact, studies have shown women who drink more diet drinks are heavier and have an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

4. Under-salted food may be a diet disservice. We season our food so it tastes good, and a properly seasoned meal leaves us more satisfied and less likely to binge and over-consume. What’s more, adding salt to fresh food only accounts for about 5% of the daily intake—well within bounds. But, “fresh” is the key word as over 75% of an average person’s daily sodium intake comes from eating highly processed and prepared foods. Seek out those restaurants that utilize fresh ingredients, from produce to proteins. In a worst case scenario stop into a market and grab some fresh fruit, optimally organically grown, to tide you over.

5. Low cholesterol advertising is a fat trap. Most are surprised to learn the cholesterol consumed in one’s diet has little or nothing to do with your blood cholesterol levels. Foods and menu items promoted as a “healthy” because they are “low in cholesterol” are often loaded with fat, sugar or other additives that cause more harm than a three egg omelet ever could.

6. Bars are bogus. Energy bars, protein bars, granola bars and other so-called healthy eating snacks are often marketed as an all-natural or otherwise nutritious choice. The fact is that many of these bars are highly processed and contain high levels of low-nutrient fillers and sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Diets high in added sugars, fructose in particular, has been associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other life-threatening medical conditions. Bars are also often loaded with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that’s linked to a myriad of health ailments. The short term energy boost bars provide are often followed by a “crash” that can cause you to eat yet more unhealthy bars or other food to get revved back up.

7. Bagels are the “other” white bread. Many people are aware of the empty calories and the lack of any nutritional redemption in a slice of white bread. Commercial breads are the number one source of sodium in the average American diet. They also often contain significant amounts of refined sugar and fat in the form of detrimental omega-six polyunsaturated fatty acids. While many health-seekers do already avoid that slice of white bread for these many unappealing reasons, they may not know a seemingly benign plain bagel is equivalent to several slices of white bread…even before the addition of toppings or fillings.

8. Counting calories is a fallacy. A calorie is measured by turning food to ash and recording the amount of heat given off. The caloric content of a food or beverage item doesn’t have much to do with how we actually metabolize our food. Additionally, calories alone do not accurately reflect a food’s nutritional value. For example, a 100 calorie soft drink is not the nutritional equivalent of a 100 calorie apple. Healthful eating isn’t about focusing on the quantity of calories, but rather it is about the quality of the consumable.

Whether you are at home or on-the-go, taking even these few considerations into account relative to the quality of the “healthy” food at hand can have a significantly positive impact on your diet and overall well-being. Indeed, the food and drink choices you make when traveling can put you on the road to good health or result in a figurative food fatality.

Dr. Mike Fenster, “America’s Culinary Interventionalist,” is a Board Certified Cardiologist, chef and athlete whose cutting-edge medical expertise and insight, culinary talents and dedication to fit living convene in his uniquely integrative Grassroots Gourmet™ approach to food-borne health. His upcoming book “The Fallacy of The Calorie: Why the Modern Western Diet is Killing Us and How to Stop It” is currently available for pre-order at www.CardioChef.com.