Friday, July 25, 2008

Help! I Want My Body Back! – Guest Blog

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(Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is Holiday Durham, Postdoctoral Fellow with the LSU AgCenter’s School of Human Ecology.)

Take a moment the next time you walk down Highland Road in a public area by yourself, with family, friends and/or coworkers. Look around you, listen carefully and place particular attention on women’s health. What do you observe?

More often than not, you will detect several key findings. Many women are overweight or obese. Many of these women are mothers, and many of these mothers will agree that pregnancy was the culprit to their initial increased weight gain.

Although most women will lose 80 percent of the weight gained during pregnancy by approximately six months postpartum, 14 percent to 20 percent of women are still more than 11 pounds heavier six to 18 months postpartum than before becoming pregnant. Evidence shows women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy and do not lose this weight by six months postpartum are at increased risk for being overweight or obese later in life. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows the prevalence of women defined as overweight (body mass index (BMI) = 25) and obese (BMI = 30) is rising among childbearing women. In Louisiana, 29.3 percent of women are overweight and 29.3 percent are obese.

So how can postpartum women get their bodies back? Behavioral factors such as diet, physical activity and breastfeeding have been associated with weight loss during the postpartum period.

Diet: Evidence suggests that nutrition during this period should primarily focus on meal and snack patterns, healthy food selections, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, low-fat and low-sugar options. Many women consume excessive calories when breastfeeding; however, the recommendation is to determine your appropriate caloric intake based on height, weight and physical activity level and add 330 additional calories to it to compensate for calories expended during breastfeeding. So how can you easily calculate these needs? The USDA’s MyPyramid Web site for new moms provides an easy-to-use resource that calculates appropriate caloric needs, specific to how you are feeding your baby and provides food options.

Physical Activity: While many women reduce physical activity during the postpartum period for various reasons, physical activity is safe even for mother’s breastfeeding (always obtain clearance from your doctor before beginning, which is typically 4-6 weeks postpartum after a vaginal birth or = 6 weeks for a cesarean birth), promotes weight loss and has many positive health benefits. Gradually increase physical activity to 45 minutes most days of the week. This can include walking, running, swimming and various other activities that can be done throughout the day and not necessarily all at once. However, it is difficult to achieve weight loss with physical activity alone; a sensible diet must also be maintained.

Breastfeeding: During the postpartum period, many associate breastfeeding with accelerated weight loss. However, postpartum weight loss varies among breastfeeding women. While breastfeeding provides health benefits for the mother and infant, evidence shows breastfeeding interacts with other factors to promote weight loss, such as gestational weight gain, frequency and duration of breastfeeding (breastfeeding = 3 months has been linked to decreased risk for overweight later in life), diet and physical activity.

Because obesity is on the rise, it is important that these lifestyle behaviors be practiced during the postpartum period, a time when many women are at increased risk for lifetime overweight but motivated to make lifestyle changes, lose weight and ultimately get their bodies back for long term health.

Holiday Durham

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Choosing a Shoe Right for You– Guest Blog

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As someone that has trained for and completed a marathon (26.2 miles) as well as many, many 5K and 10K races, I can tell you firsthand that choosing the right pair of running shoes is one of the most important decisions you'll make as a runner, especially if you're just getting started. Your choice of running shoes can make the difference between having a good or bad experience, running in comfort or pain, and, most importantly, whether you stay healthy or get injured.

The biggest and most common mistake novice runners make is to bargain shop for an inexpensive first pair of running shoes at a local department store. After all, who wants to pay a lot for shoes when you may not actually use them much? How do you justify a higher priced running shoe to your spouse? Aren't you just paying a lot for a logo on the side? On the other hand, another common misconception is that the higher the cost, the better the shoe.

All these observations make sense. Choosing a running shoe can be an overwhelming task given all the high-tech shoes available today and all the special features each running shoe claims to have.

But this kind of thinking will likely lead you to the equally logical decision to quit after a couple of miserable runs. What you need to start running is the right shoe, not the cheapest.

Basically, there are two types of buyers – those that just want a decent pair of shoes and could care less about whether it’s a Motion-Control or Stability running shoe and those interested in knowing more about the art of picking the right pair of running shoes. If you are the former, my suggestion is to go straight to the experts at a running specialty store. If you are the latter, the first step is to understand pronation and to determine your foot type.

Understand Pronation
Pronation is the rolling of the foot from heel to toe through the foot strike. A proper or neutral pronation is hitting the outside of the heel and up to ball of your foot evenly across the front. This is how your foot reduces the stress of impact.

Underpronation is not enough evening out so the outside of your foot takes most of the shock instead of finishing in the neutral position.

Overpronation is too much roll across from the outside to the inside of your foot.

To determine your level of pronation, look at your shoes you walk or run in. Most everyone will begin on the outside of the heel, the real indicator would be the wear on the forefoot.

If most of the shoe wear is:

  • On the medial (inside) side, then you overpronate and probably need to choose motion-control running shoes.
  • On the lateral (outside) side, then you underpronate and most likely need to choose cushioned running shoes.
  • Uniform across the forefoot, then you have a neutral stride and are best suited for choosing stability running shoes.

Determine Your Foot Type
Another method of determining pronation and, ultimately, foot type is by checking your arch height. The easiest way to figure out your arch height is by using the “wet test.” To take the test, wet the bottom of each foot and stand normally on a paper bag. After a minute or so, step off and observe the imprint left by your foot. (Trace the outline with a pencil if you want to look at it later.)

You have a normal arch (neutral pronation) if there's a distinct curve along the inside of your foot with a band a little less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and toe. Choose motion-control running shoes.

You have a low arch (flat feet/overpronator) if there's not much of a curve along the inside of your foot, and your imprint shows almost the entire foot. People with low arches are more likely to overpronate (roll too far inward), which can lead to overuse injuries. Choose stability running shoes.

You have a high arch (underpronator) if there's a very sharp curve along the inside of your foot, and your imprint shows a very thin band between your heel and toe. People with high arches typically don't pronate enough. Choose cushioned running shoes.

Choose the Right Running Shoe for You
If you have flat feet and overpronate, choose a motion-control running shoe. Motion-control shoes prevent your foot from rolling in too far, have a straight shape that gives maximum support to your foot and are the most rigid, control-oriented running shoes.

If you have high-arched feet and underpronate, you should choose a cushioned running shoe. Cushioned shoes allow your feet to roll inward (absorbing shock), have a curved shape to encourage foot motion and have the softest midsole with the least medial support.

If you have normal arches and pronate normally, choose a stability running shoe. Stability shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. They often have a semi-curved shape and don't control foot motion as strictly as motion-control shoes.

More Tips:
Go straight to the experts at a running specialty store. Plan on spending some time there because the salesperson should ask you lots of questions and have several options for you to try.

If you're already a runner, bring your current shoes with you to the store. The salesperson can look at the wear on the bottom of your shoes to get some more insight into your running style.

Make sure the salesperson measures your foot while you're standing up. Your running shoes should be 1/2 to a full size bigger than your regular shoe size because your feet will swell when you run, and you need plenty of room in the toe-box. If your toes are crammed in the front of the shoe, you could develop bruised or black toenails.

Give the salesperson information that will help him or her with shoe recommendations. He/she should be asking you questions about what type of running you do, how often you run, where you typically run, and what type of surfaces you run on. If you use orthotics or custom-fit insoles, bring them with you to try on your shoes. You need shoes that are roomy enough to accommodate your insoles.

Run in the shoes that the salesperson recommends for you. (Make sure you're dressed to run when you're shopping!) Simply trying on the shoes and walking a few steps inside the store is not enough. Run in each pair of shoes to test for fit, function and comfort before making your final decision.

Test your shoes by running in them for a week. If you quickly develop blisters or foot pain, they may not be the right shoes for you. Many specialty running stores have liberal exchange policies and allow you to return shoes even if you've been running in them for a week or more. Take them back and exchange them for another recommended pair.

Don't pick running shoes based on the colors or style. Just because they look cute doesn't mean they'll be the best shoe for you!

After you've found your perfect shoes, you don't have to keep going back to the specialty running shop. You'll need to replace your shoes every 300-400 miles.

Michael Zanovec 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Temptations Abound

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Temptations abound! It is only mid morning and I have already had two brushes with nutritional nightmares.

First, I went to an early morning meeting and right there in plain sight was a tray of fresh, still-warm donuts. Then, I get back to the office and somebody left some Girl Scout cookies in my coffee room. Why would someone do that? Would you leave alcohol out in the open at an AA meeting? Would you have illicit drugs openly available at a drug intervention gathering? Then why would someone leave donuts and cookies visibly present where I could see them? Am I being punished? I felt like I had the good angel on one shoulder giving me support to pass up the sweets and the bad angel on the other shoulder egging me on.

I ate only one donut and three cookies. Remarkable restraint! Before I would have eaten the entire container. I sure hope somebody finished off the rest of them before I need another cup of coffee. I guess an occasional donut or cookie – or three – will not derail my entire nutritional game plan, but they sure are tempting. I had better keep writing this blog rather than go back for another cup of coffee.

Maybe this is all a conspiracy by the obesity dark side forces to derail me and my plan. I’m down a couple hundred calories today and will have to make up the difference later on.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

As we say in nutrition, nothing is off limits. We can partake in an occasional cookie and a piece of cake or a donut. The problem is when they become daily rituals, and we replace the good foods such as fruits and vegetables that give us all the necessary nutrients with snacks that have few nutrients but a lot of calories. A donut has an average of 250 to 350 calories each, depending whether they are glazed or filled. If someone plans on being physically active, they can have the calories, if they then burn them off later with an aerobic workout or if they plan to do physical labor such as landscaping, painting around the house or various other jobs.

Let’s take a look at various activities and see how much energy is expended by people of different weights doing certain activities:

Energy expenditure in kilocalories per hour according to body mass


110 lb




198 lb

aerobic dance


















circuit training






climbing (mountain)






cycling (moderate speed)






dance (social)






golf (walking with bag)






jogging (9?km/h)






rowing (recreational)






running (16?km/h)












swimming (laps)












walking (brisk)






weight training






As you can see, it will take anywhere from one hour of aerobic dance for a small person to almost an hour of swimming for a larger person to use up all of the calories in that donut. It would take about 25 minutes of brisk walking for the chancellor to just burn off the three cookies, and another 50 minutes to burn off the calories in the donut.

It’s better to snack on low-calorie fruits and vegetables that give us plenty of nutrients.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lose If You Don’t Snooze

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Will a good nutrition program coupled with exercise and sleep help keep your brain healthy? Some researchers think so! In one report, a UCLA scientist concluded that “diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function.” Could it be that nutrition and exercise are valuable tools to help our cognitive abilities and counteract the effects of aging? One food source like salmon rich in Omega-3 fatty acids provides many benefits to brain function and metal capabilities. The summary I gleaned was to get sleep, exercise and eat a good diet, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Do you notice that as we write about more and new research related to lifestyles, the principles seem to always come back to the basics? Eat a well balanced diet! Get some exercise! Get adequate sleep! And, the basics are do-able and well within the purview of most of us.

As I read through this article and others I often find myself trying to personalize the content to my situation. But, this article, also pointed out the impact of nutrition, exercise and sleep have on the cognitive performance of students in school. On top of cognitive development, nutrition, exercise and sleep ward off obesity and type 2 diabetes, etc. As a well-educated populace, wouldn’t you think we could get back to the basics?

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

In an earlier blog, I talked about the importance of sleep primarily in adults. But with the new school year right around the corner, let’s take a look at the role of sleep in cognitive development. Some statistics show that about 50 percent of children get less than 7 hours of sleep on a weeknight. Why is sleep so important? It has been well-documented that during school-age years, many developmental processes are affected by the amount of sleep a child gets.

The take-home message in most of the articles I reviewed was that inadequate sleep can affect the ability of children to focus – not to mention can cause irritability, fluctuations in emotional expression and, of course, fatigue. Bottom line? Adequate sleep is important for everyone, not just adults. Listed below are some tips to help your child (and you) meet sleep needs:

  • Don’t go to sleep with the TV on. Better yet, take the television out of your child’s bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine. While your child should avoid sugary drinks altogether, drinking caffeinated soft drinks right before bed can keep the child stimulated.
  • Have a routine that allows your child to transition into sleep. Help the child develop a routine that will allow time to wind down before he or she “hits the sack.”
  • Have consistent bed times and wake-up times. Just like exercise, once you establish a routine and have time reserved for exercise, you are more likely to stick to it.

Denise Holston

2/10/2009 1:16:38 AM
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