Life-Changing with LV: One Couples’ Journey to Lose Weight Together

Couple Getting Healthy TogetherLaura Meier, 52, on a health journey with her husband, Brice

Goal(s): Lose a combined total of 150 lbs

Six months ago, Laura Meier joined LifeVest, and set out with her husband Brice on a mission to lose weight. They planned a trip to the Caribbean as motivation, and began making significant changes that would move them towards their goals. Each now two clothing sizes smaller and two energy levels higher, the two set sail this week and are ready to celebrate.

“We’re looking forward to enjoying [the trip] together and being motivated to continue on,” says Laura who’s over halfway to her goal of losing 50 pounds. Brice has exceeded the halfway point towards his goal, too, down 65 pounds and on his way to 100.

Laura was initially motivated by the opportunity to earn money through LifeVest. However, this quickly became merely an added benefit of the experience. She earned a FitBit early into her program and soon after bought Brice one too, and it was at this point that Laura decided to make her LifeVest journey one that would last for life. Together, the couple began powering up their step count, and benefiting from the results.

“Brice has problems with sciatic nerves and back pain, and he used to hardly be able to make it to the corner with me,” says Laura. “Now, he’s sometimes walking 40,000 steps per day because he’s feeling so much better by getting the weight off and getting active.”

Through the weight loss, Brice has been able to relieve some of the pressure from his knees and back, and Laura says she feels better about herself than ever before. They’ve decided they won’t be stopping once they reach their weight loss goal, but instead continuing to find new ways they can lead a healthier life together. Laura shares some advice on what’s worked for them so far, and how her and Brice are make the changes together.

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“Turnip For What?” These 5 Turnip Recipes

In a video-gone-viral, Michelle Obama says, “Turnip for what?” We’re responding to that question with this roundup of healthful turnip-central recipes.

The late autumn crop is particularly low in calories among the root vegetable kingdom – just 34 cals per cup vs. 116 per cup of diced potatoes – and is packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants. This makes it a great filler and addition to lighten up traditional starchy dishes, like Turnip Mashed Potatoes (swap 1/2 the potatoes with turnips), and some of the recipes you’ll find below.

Both the turnip’s greens and bulb can be eaten. Each provide a nice bitterness that pairs well with sweeter veggies, meats, and spices. See for yourself as you turnip some music and your stove, and dive into one of the recipes below.

Sweet Turnip and Carrot Soup

Sweet Turnip and Carrot Soup via InFine Balance Read the rest of this entry »


Meatless Monday: Curry Harvest Soup

Curry Harvest Soup

Fall has fallen upon us, which means sweater, sweet potato, and soup season have all officially arrived! We love all three, especially that latter one, which we encourage you to add into your eat-clean-toolbox.

With the temps cooling down, it’s easy to slide away from light summer fare into heavier winter territory. However, jumbo sweaters are no excuse to add another layer to your diet or your tummy. Luckily with an arsenal of soup recipes on-hand, you can stay warm and satisfied without needing to take that path.

This particular recipe from our food blogging LifeVester Grace calls on an array of hearty harvest veggies to create a soup that’s both robust, yet light. That’s exactly the combination we recommend employing to stay slimming down and feeling good all throughout the season.

Perfect for both Meatless Monday and late October days when you want something a little warm and brothy, head on over to Grace’s blog for the recipe.

Then, as you continue to add more soup recipes to your eat-clean-toolbox, please share them with us! We’re suckers for soup, and would love to hear what’s filling your bowl.


5 Common Nutrition Questions Answered

 

Your health is huge! Of course you’ve got questions. And we’ve got love-your-body answers. Let’s start with diet. Following, we’ll take a look at some interesting common nutrition uncertainties, with answers that’ll help set your mind straight and your waistline even straighter.

 

Will nuts make me fat?

In moderation, nuts are an excellent addition to your diet. They are high in protein and fiber, and make for a crunchy, satisfying snack. But what about all their fat, you ask? While nuts do contain a significant amount, most of this fat is of a beneficial variety to your body in the form of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

“In fact, some studies show that people who eat a handful of nuts daily weigh less than those who don’t eat nuts,” says LifeVest health coach Bridget Wright, MPH. “This is because nuts have a high satiety content, meaning they make you feel full and satisfied.” 

Just don’t go too nuts. Since they are calorie-dense, Wright recommends sticking to no more than a handful or so per day. She notes that the best choices are raw almonds and walnuts, or toasted pistachios, all of which are superior to most crackers, pretzels, and other — fat-free or no t— empty-calorie, crunchy snacks.

How much is a handful of nuts Read the rest of this entry »


5 “Healthy” Foods with Hidden Sugar

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There’s no way to sugarcoat it – sugar is bad & we’re eating too much of it.

On average, Americans consume 156 pounds – or 31 five-pound bags – of sugar per year. Yikes! When considering its linked to everything from diabetes to high blood pressure to heart disease, that’s some Sour Patch Kid news right there. In fact, many experts believe our collective sweet tooth may not just be making us fat, but bringing us to our death. Poison alert, poison alert!

Some of you might be thinking, “I’m no Cookie Monster. I don’t eat candy or drink soda, so I’m fine.” It’s a thought that some of us here at the LifeVest have held, too. Yet, according to the latest guidelines from the World Health Organization, no more than 100 daily calories (25 grams) should come from sugar, and with it often lurking in unexpected places, that’s a number that can add up quickly.

From bread to breakfast to salad dressing, here are five hidden sources of sugar that could be taking a toll on your health without you even knowing it, along with the best options to keep these “healthy” foods actually beneficial to your health.

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Meatless Monday: Toasted Wheat Berry and Summer Herb Salad

Toasted Wheat Berry and Summer Herb Salad

Here on the East Coast, there is a small window where cucumber season meets tomato season. In those few weeks, us East Coasters rejoice in veggie heaven. The two were meant to mingle, table-side, with a fine bottle of olive oil and vinegar.

Together, the duo brings more than just the joys of Christmas colors to a white bowl. They also present a slew of vitamins and nutrients. In fact, tomatoes are one of the healthiest veggies (or fruit, by the technical definition) you can bring to your table, and we can attribute much of this to the noteworthy nutrient explained below.

  • Loaded in lycopene: Tomatoes can thank lycopene for their beautiful red color, and we can thank lycopene for the cancer-fighting benefits it brings to our body. Lycopene is an antioxidant that lends yellow, red, and orange vegetables/fruits their colors, and has shown in studies to lower the risk of certain types of cancer (especially prostate, lung, and stomach cancers). As Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, explains, “The shape of the lycopene molecule makes it very effective in being able to quench free radicals. We don’t really understand it entirely yet, but lycopene may have specific properties that protect the cell in a way other antioxidants may not.”

Click here to read on…


Minor changes for major impact

Small steps for health

There are some things in life we don’t have direct control over – like when it rains and our shoes get wet (free laundry?). Or like when we walk down the road and bird poop falls from the sky (good luck?). Or when the vending machine runs out of M&Ms (even better luck – for our health, at least?). Luckily, however, life is not all surprises, and one thing we can control is choosing how to take care of our bodies. Many people hit the cookie jar after a long, strenuous day at work, or buddy up with the couch instead of our running shoes, even when we know the latter is what we really need. Even us LifeVesters can admit to doing that from time to time.

The important thing is to become aware of your triggers for unhealthy behavior so that you can then realize how to change them. A few simple choices in a different, healthier direction can end up drawing a major impact.

Below, we’ve got tips for 5 common challenges that take a lot of us by the belly.

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What We’re Reading – First edition

Brain Food

Twice per month, we’ll be bringing you the LifeVest edition of what we’re reading to fuel your brain, boost your motivation, and provide you with education aimed towards your health. You’ll find articles on everything from diet to fitness to well-being, along with a few fun reads thrown in there with a focus on health.

Brain food for health: A snippet of what we’re reading from around the web.

  • Pedal pollution out of the air, one bicycle trip at a time. That’s the theory behind Matt Hope’s latest invention, a bike designed to filter and clean the air as he rides around Beijing, China.  The bike needs some tweaking before it’d ever take off in the commercial market. However, if and when it does, sign us up for a spin please. Read more here.
  • Cricket bars, the new Clif Bars? Outside Magazine discusses what may be the next paleo nutrition craze – insect energy bars. A new food company is whipping up bars with flavors like PB&J, Cashew-Ginger, and Cacao Nut, that all pack in 10 grams of protein per bar. Their secret ingredient? Cricket flour.
  • What we’re making – Magenta Crusted Asparagus PIZZA. When spring comes into full bloom, so does asparagus. Lucky for us, once the green stalks take off, there’s no stopping them.  In warm, mid-season weather, asparagus can grow as quickly as 1 cm per hour – which means there’ll be plenty at your local farmer’s market to make this gorgeous pink pizza. Click here for the recipe.
  • 5 things you didn’t know about caffeine. Get the low down on caffeine from Refinery29 – how it works, how much will kill you, and other interesting facts. For example, the amount of caffeine in a Starbucks “grande” coffee is equivalent to seven cans of Red Bull.
  • Good morning sunshine. Women’s Health mag brings us the one rise and shine tip for losing weight that doesn’t involve food or exercise.
  • Want to improve your health? There’s an app for that. Okay, so your phone can’t do everything for you. Whether it’s your diet, your fitness routine, or your sleep schedule, you’ll need to put in some personal power to boost your health, but these 7 apps recommended by the Greatist team are here to lend you a hand.

Chia Seeds: Good Things Come in Small Packages

Chia seeds

By Theresa Berenato

Prior to this year, your first thought at the word “chia” was probably the pet plant from the ‘80s, right? The one where “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” rang across a slew of seemingly never-ending commercials, and where you’d spread the seeds on a ceramic cat or dog, water it, and watch it grow. “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” was everywhere.

Chia pets eventually faded out, but today, chia again has become ubiquitous – this time as an ingredient topping health food charts. Whether or not you’ve consumed the black seeds, likely you’ve heard about them via the news or in health magazines. So what’s with their reemergence and all of the sudden buzz?

To find the answer, we’ll delve into the health benefits they hold as well as some of their fun culinary usages. It’s pretty clear the cool factor of these little seeds goes far beyond their initial value in creating fast-growing Christmas gifts.

The Origins of Edible Chia

Chia, technically known as Salvia hispanica, is a traditional food in central and southern America. Here, it’s been a staple long before any sort of household chia pet, dating back to early Mayan and Aztec civilization. Originally, it was the chia seed oil that was used for cooking because of its widely-believed health benefits. Chia seeds produce little pretty white or purple flowers that can grow up to 1-1.5meters tall. The plant it produces is technically an herb.

It’s the seeds, however, that are all the rage at the supermarkets. You can generally find them anywhere that has a bulk aisle, near the other nuts and seeds. Although, there’s always the option to grow your own! Hubpages gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do so.

What makes chia seeds super-stars?

Chia seeds come in two varieties – white and black – and range in size from 1 to 2 mm. Both are equally nutrient-packed, and are praised for their high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are an essential nutrient for human health that the body can’t make on its own – meaning, we must consume this nutrient through food in order to survive. When optimal levels are consumed, omega-3s help lower blood pressure, protect against autoimmune disease/cancer, and lower the risk of other heart-related diseases. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are the building blocks of our hormones and support our nervous system.

A whopping 20% of a chia seed is made up of omega-3s, making them a “superfood” for the brain and heart. As a result, studies show that adding them to your diet can aid in decreasing LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol levels and increasing HDL, or “good”, cholesterol. Another 20% of each seed is made up of protein. Bonus: they contain all eight essential amino acids, making this 20% act as a complete protein. They hold five times the amount of calcium as milk, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, three times as much iron as iron-boasting spinach and twice the potassium of bananas. It goes without saying, these little guys certainly pack a lot in.

Chia seeds also have a high fiber content. Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed in the blood stream, which keeps your blood glucose levels from rising to quickly and creating sugar crashes. Aside from the health benefits chia’s fiber brings to the table, it also enables the seeds to create a gel-like substance when mixed with water. This gel can be generated within all sorts of foods, like oatmeal or smoothies, to add a unique texture that doesn’t compromise flavor. Gel yeah!

Speaking of food, I’m ready to eat…how should I use these little seeds?

Part of chia seeds’ quickly growing popularity stems from the fact that these health food stars can be used in virtually anything. They are mild in flavor, meaning they’ll add lots of nutrition without being overbearing or intrusive.

The US Dietary Guidelines recommends staying within 48 grams per day. Think of them like sesame seeds and throw them on top of:

–       Salads
–       Soups
–       Cereals
–       Yogurt
–       Baked goods (such as bread products)
–       Smoothies
–       Beverages (such as fruit juices)
–       Wherever your culinary imagination takes you!

If you’re curious about their gel properties, The Kitchn brings us a handful of recipes where you can test this out.

This is a no-brainer…

If you can’t already tell, the chia seed is a pretty resourceful food. Chia seeds have left their mark by benefiting our health in the past, and will continue to do so for the future. Start by adding chia seeds in your yogurt in the morning, your soups at lunch, and in your salad by dinner. These simple small steps can add a boost to your diet without you even realizing it.


Foods that Fight the Flu

By: Liz Myers, September 26, 2013

Courtesy of ABC news

Happy flu season, folks! That joyous season when a chorus of coughs fills the air, sneezes shower you with germs from every direction, and you find yourself shaking hands with someone who desperately needs a Kleenex. It’s a warzone out there. Fortunately, there are tasty ways that will help to reduce your likelihood of falling victim to the cold and flu virus.

The ginger root has long been valued for its natural medicinal purposes, and science can support the plant’s benefits for the flu season. This flavorful herb fends off rhinoviruses, better known as the common cold virus, with chemicals called sesquiterpenes. Moreover, if the sesquiterpenes didn’t build up a defense quick enough and you’ve caught the infection, ginger also helps to suppress coughing, reduce fever, and relieve pain. So stock up and use it to flavor your tea, soup, or vegetable dishes. However you enjoy it, make sure it’s the real deal; processed products like Schweppes Ginger Ale won’t give you the full benefits.

Believe it or not, a spoonful of honey to help your cold isn’t just an old wives’ tale. The sweet syrup coats your throat, providing relief when it is sore from a cold or the flu. Honey is also full of antioxidants to boost your body’s immune system. Look for buckwheat honey, which is the richest in antioxidants. The honey that you buy at your local grocery store is most likely clover honey, which contains the lowest levels of antioxidants.

While red wine is often used to relax, to have a good time, and sometimes, as a last minute gift to bring to a dinner party, suddenly, the drink is being touted for its medical purposes as well. Not only does red wine improve heart health when consumed in moderation, it also contains chemicals called resveratrol and polyphenols that prevent the flu virus from multiplying if it were to enter your system. For those non-drinkers, peanuts and grape leaves contain the same chemicals.

I must also stress that getting your flu shot should be the first step in staying healthy this season. With a shot and a flu-fighting diet, your immune system should be prepared to ward off any infection that comes its way. For more foods with immune boosting benefits, visit http://www.rodale.com/healing-foods-cold-and-flu.