So You’ve Bought a Fitness Tracker— Now What?

shutterstock_593935241You’ve finally decided to get into shape, need more motivation or just want another ‘toy’ to add to your growing list of fitness gizmos. So you begin to check out fitness devices. I started on-line and then decided to go to one of the big box stores to take a closer look. There are now so many of them on the market it can be daunting.
I was amazed at the variety of fitness trackers or ‘wearable technology ‘ as they’ re called on display. There are even trackers for pets and ones that will critique your tennis swing! I was totally lost. But quick relief, my daughter went online and bought me one!!! Whew, decision made.

So the first step is to decide what you want to track?
Steps, calories, heart rate, fitness activities besides walking or running or a combination of some or all, you can even measure the amount of sleep and awake time. Do you want one to wear on your wrist or discreetly on your person—in your pocket or attached to your bra?
Once you’ve made the choice the next step is to wear it for the first week—if you don’t regularly exercise then just wear it for a week to decide what you normally do –that would be your baseline.
Now that you know your starting point, it’s time to get moving.
Set a reasonable goal. Your fitness device might have a default goal — often 10,000 steps a day. From your baseline add 200-300 steps a day to increase your weekly total by 2,000. That’s an increase of about a mile a day. Keep building up until you get to 10,000.
When you look at calories burned, a reasonable goal is to increase by 250 calories a day. You can get that from 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise. Or you could burn that amount doing some extra moving during the day. Grocery shopping for instance burns about 100 calories an hour for a 175-pound person.
Remember, to lose 1 pound a week, you need to create a 500-calorie deficit each day. The best way to do this is by eating a little less and moving a little more.
Pay attention to how you feel. On a day when you walk 1,000 more steps than usual, you may notice you feel great and want to do it again the next day.
Transform wasted time into steps. Once you’re aware of your steps, the most boring parts of your day become opportunities. On hold with customer service? Pace your house. Waiting to pick up your kids from school, arrive a bit early and go for a walk. Take the stairs when you can instead of the elevator.
Healthy aging can begin with baby steps! And as always, it is one step at a time!

#run #fitness #active #healthy

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The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Understanding cholestrol-the good, the bad, and the guidelines

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Canada, which makes prevention of heart disease so important. Some risk factors for heart disease unfortunately cannot be changed, including your genes, gender and ethnicity. There are many other factors, however, that you can control. These are called modifiable risk factors, and include high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diet, exercise levels, and high cholesterol. But what level of cholesterol is considered to be high, and how does your doctor determine whether or not cholesterol-lowering medication is right for you?

You may have heard of “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Good cholesterol is called HDL and bad cholesterol is LDL. LDL cholesterol is used as the primary target when deciding whether your cholesterol is at target or not. Target cholesterol levels differ according to risk category; if you are a low-risk individual, we accept higher LDL levels than we do for high-risk individuals. So the first step that your doctor takes when assessing your cholesterol profile is determination of your risk category. This is done by calculating what’s called a Framingham Risk Score, which takes into account your age, gender, total and HDL cholesterol levels, smoking status, blood pressure, family history, and whether or not you have diabetes.

A Framingham Risk Score of less than 10% is considered low-risk, and for these individuals an LDL level of less than 5.0 is considered acceptable. Individuals with a risk score of less than 5% can have their cholesterol rechecked in 3-5 years, while those with a risk score of 5-9% should have their cholesterol levels repeated yearly. Framingham Risk Scores between 10 and 19% fall into the moderate-risk category. The target LDL level for moderate-risk individuals is <3.5. Levels greater than 3.5 should be treated with cholesterol-lowering medication. However, cholesterol-lowering medication will also be recommended if your LDL is less than 3.5, but a different marker called non-HDL is elevated. Finally, Framingham Risk Scores of 20% or greater are considered high-risk. Treatment with cholesterol-lowering medications will be considered for all high-risk patients, regardless of LDL cholesterol levels.

Your doctor will discuss the specifics of cholesterol-lowering medication with you if it is indicated based on these guidelines. For some individuals, lifestyle modification can be tried before medication in order to help lower cholesterol levels. For others, however, medication may be required at the outset depending on risk level and degree of elevation of cholesterol levels. Whether you require cholesterol-lowering medication or not, everyone should try to implement the Canadian Cardiovascular Society’s recommendations for a heart-healthy lifestyle:

1.    Diet with reduced saturated fats and refined sugars
2.   
Weight reduction and maintenance
3.   Exercise: 150 mins/week of moderate activity (i.e. brisk walking, biking, swimming, etc.
4.   Quit Smoking
5.   Limit alcohol to no more than 1-2 drinks/dayTo learn more about dietary fats from the Heart & Stroke Foundation, click here: http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/site/c.pvI3IeNWJwE/b.3581947/k.D7AE/Healthy_Living__Dietary_fats_oils_and__cholesterol.htm

 

 

Losing weight the successful way

As a family physician, I am often asked, what is the best diet to lose weight. The answer is that all of the well known popular diets whether it’s low fat, low-carb or high fiber is all pretty similar.  The most important part is not the diet or weight loss plan you choose, but sticking to it.  We have a hard time over a sustained period of time staying motivated and following a plan.  Ashley Grachnik, RD, CDE, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator recommends these five strategies to lose weight successfully.

Losing Weight – the Successful Way

How do I lose weight and actually keep it off this time?” 

As a Registered Dietitian focusing on Diabetes prevention and management I get this question
all the time.  I see patients who have tried every diet and weight loss trick in the book.  Most of the time they are able to lose some weight but eventually, and inevitably it seems, the weight creeps back on.  This usually happens because of extreme short term changes like cutting outentire food groups which are not sustainable in the long run.  Most people know they should be eating balanced, healthy meals but they don’t always
recognize other behaviour changes that can help with long term success.  So here are my suggestions for healthy eating and changing food behaviours, not dieting.  Healthy eating nourishes the body, prevents diseases and keeps you at a healthy body weight while healthy food behaviours set you up for
success.  You want long term success? Read on…

  1. Change your relationship with food

Food is not your friend or your enemy.  Food should not comfort you when you’re sad, relieve your stress when it’s been a tough day or reward you when you’ve done something good.  Food is your body’s nourishment, just like air and water.  So what does your body really need to be sustained? – Healthy carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals.  When you’re emotional – sad, happy, stressed, angry, tired – find something else to do about it that doesn’t involve the kitchen or the drive thru.  I know this is easier said than done but starting to identify those times when you turn to food as emotional comfort or reward is the first step to changing your relationship with food.  To help you, write down a list of all the things you enjoy doing that doesn’t involve food.  Put that list on the fridge or cabinet and when you’re about to reach for food that list is in your face reminding you to turn around and try something else other than eating.

  1. Find support

Changing your habits is difficult but it’s easier when you have people in your corner cheering you on.  You don’t need the food police, that is not supportive, you need friends or family who will encourage you through your journey without judging your setbacks.  And there will be set backs.  If you’re not comfortable talking to your friends or family I suggest turning to the online community.  I’m not talking about joining a diet club online as you might get a lot of misinformation about what healthy eating really means.  I’m mean a chat room or blog about the challenges you face trying to eat healthy and stay on track.  So many people around you are trying to do the same thing as you and you can easily support each other through the tough hurdles of healthy eating and weight loss.

  1. There is no such thing as will power

I truly believe that will power doesn’t exist.  Or if it does it is finite and runs out way too quickly.  So rather than have all sorts of temptations easily accessible to the point you have to fight with yourself NOT to give in, why not set yourself up for success?  Create an environment where you don’t have to fight, where all your choices are easy and healthy.  That means there is no ice cream in the freezer, chips in the cabinet, or pop in the fridge.  When you open anything in your kitchen it is healthy.  Involve your family too – make the house a haven for health and everyone at home will reap the benefits.

Another challenge against “will power” is eating out.  If you’re going to someone’s house for dinner bring a salad, veggie platter or fruit salad so you know at least one option will be healthy.  Don’t go to an all you can eat buffet.  Choose, instead, to go to a restaurant where you know there are healthy choices on the menu or you can ask for healthy substitutions.  Study the menu online or call ahead before you go to ask questions about how dishes are prepared and what kinds of substitutions are possible.  Bottom line: healthy choices are only as hard as you make them.

  1. Enjoy a treat every once in a while!

If it’s your birthday, have some birthday cake.  If you’re at a wedding, have some wedding cake.  Don’t be that person who is on a diet so you can’t ever eat anything unhealthy until you’ve reached your weight goal so you can completely fall off the wagon and indulge in excess.  Allow yourself little treats now and then.  If you’ve been eating healthy and exercising then there is nothing to feel guilty about when you treat yourself to some birthday cake.  Notice I’m using the word “treat” and not “cheat” – this goes back to point number 1 and having a healthy relationship with food.  If you consider food just what it is, then a treat now and then isn’t a negative.  Relax and enjoy and don’t feel guilty.  And if you really want to ensure a little treat won’t be a big set back for you then plan some extra exercise that day before or after the birthday party or wedding.

  1. Make your health your number 1 priority

Yes, healthy living (eating and activity) takes time and planning.  Far too often the excuse for running to a drive thru or skipping the gym is that you just didn’t have time.  If you don’t make time for your health now, you’re going to have to make time for illness later.  And health is a much better thing to make time for.  So re-prioritize.  Take a careful look at everything you do in the day and shift around the importance.  Grocery shopping for healthy food, time to cook and prepare healthy food, and time for some physical activity should be top on the list.  If you find time to sit in front of the TV or computer at all in the day, those activities should move lower than your health on the priority list.  Or if you’re too tired at the end of the day then take a good look at what you do in the beginning of the day and move your health to the start.  No better time to focus on your health then today, so what are you going to do today that is healthy?