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Summer of Cycling: Bike to Work

June is Colorado Bike Month and Bike to Work Day is Wednesday, June 26th. Everyday around 10,000 people bike to work in Denver. This year, they are expecting that over 30,000 Coloradans will take on the challenge of riding to work. If you are going to be one of the participants taking on this challenge, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.

Safety First: In Colorado, bikers have to obey the same rules of the roads as drivers do. Biking next to cars can be scary at first but if you’re wearing the proper gear, injuries can be prevented. Statistics show that most bike accident fatalities are caused by bikers not wearing helmets. In fact, wearing a helmet can reduce the severity of a head injury by 88%. Always remember to wear your helmet and use proper signals when turning to let the cars around you know to avoid injury.

Hydration is Key: Especially in the hot summer months, it’s important to drink as much water as possible. When your exercising outdoors, it’s even more important to keeps those hydration levels up. Make sure to drink water before, during and after your ride to work. Keep a water bottle attached to your bike at all times and even a hydration pack for easy access as you ride. There will be plenty of food and water stations out for you to stop at and even get a quick tune up if needed. For a list of stations and to map out your ride, check out the Bike to Work Day Site.

Be Prepared: Bring a change of clothes and lunch to work the day before to help lessen the load you’ll be carrying on your ride. Especially if you don’t frequently ride into work, you’ll want to have your bike be as light as possible. Knowing that your meals are ready to go after a hard workout and where the showers are located in your office will take a lot of stress off of you on the day of. If you do have to bring a change of clothes, keep them in zip lock bags to avoid getting any sweat or water on them during your ride.

Check the Weather: In Colorado, we tend to have cooler mornings and warmer afternoons. Make sure to bring a light jacket for your morning ride and breathable sweat wicking clothing on your ride home. If you are new to bike riding, there are compression shorts that have a bit of padding in the glute area to relieve some of the pain from sitting on a bike seat for a longer period of time. Shorts or pants that are tight around the ankle are also recommended so that they don’t get caught up in the bike chain. Lastly, the brighter color of clothing, the better. This way, other commuters and motorists can clearly see you to avoid accidents.

Enjoy the Ride:
The most important thing is to have fun on this ride. There will be plenty of other riders out and it’s a great time to meet people and meet the local organizations and sponsors in the community. Take in the beautiful scenery that Colorado has to offer and enjoy a day outside of traffic!

Young sportive couple working out together on the quay, near the sea. Attractive man jumping with skipping rope, while his girlfriend watching at him and cheerfully smiling.

Cardio Intervals for Exercise

Did you know that alternating between high and low intensities for 20 minutes is more effective at burning calories than 20 minutes of steady state exercise? Once you are able to complete steady state cardiovascular exercise for thirty minutes or more, start to gradually introduce interval training to your workout. Interval training is a fitness training approach in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with higher intensity intervals. Interval training has been proven to be one of the most effective forms of training for weight improvement because of the fat burning benefits even hours after your workout. So, how do you safely introduce cardio intervals to your workouts?

  1. Choose your exercise equipment.

It is safest to introduce cardio intervals on exercise equipment that creates less impact on your joints, such as the bike, elliptical or rower. Cardio machines make it easier to control the intensity and help individuals keep the correct form during high intensity intervals. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, then you can with your bike or on foot. However, if you start on foot be careful and make sure you don’t create unnecessary stress your joints.

  1. Choose your interval time and recovery time.

After your five to ten minute warm up, start to alternate between your high and low intensity intervals for a total of twenty minutes.

  • High-Intensity Interval Time: The amount of time you spend exercising at higher intensity, such as a 70-100% effort.
    • You will want to focus on bringing your heart rate up safely and keeping correct form.
    • Usually a 30 seconds- 1 minute interval
  • Low-Intensity Interval Time: The amount of time you spend exercising by at a lower intensity, such as a 30-60% effort.
    • You will want to focus on recovering by bringing your heart rate down and taking deep controlled breathes.
    • Usually a 1 minute- 3 minute interval
  1. Third, adding intensity effectively.

The most common two ways to effectively increase your intensity is by increasing your resistance and/or your speed. I recommend first increasing your resistance and then increasing your speed for the safest results. For example, add resistance to your stationary bike and pick up the speed for 30 seconds. Then, take the resistance you added back off the bike and ride easy for 1- 2 minutes during your low intensity interval.

Big sandwich - hamburger with juicy beef burger, cheese, tomato,  and red onion on wooden background

Healthier Choices To-Go

Everyone has those days where the meal planning didn’t get done, there was not enough time to go to the grocery store, your kids have a late night practice or you just don’t feel like cooking at home. We get it, it happens to everyone. However, what we want to try and avoid is making the worst decisions when stopping at fast-food restaurants. Some of the tips and choices below will allow you to still get that quick meal in without all of the added guilt, try them out!

Skip the Sauces: Going light on the sauces and dressings can make a big impact on the calorie content of a meal. Mustard is usually the best dipping sauce in terms of being healthy. Ask for burgers, salads and sandwiches ‘dry’ or with the sauce on the side to help manage intake.

Make it a Small: When ordering a combo meal, fast food places may try to upsell you for a minimal charge, don’t fall for it! If you get a combo meal ask for the small serving of sides and drinks. That way, you still get the sides you love, but don’t get the chance to over indulge.

Say “No” (Thanks) to the Soda: This is a hard one, because a drink usually comes with the meal. Skip the soda and try unsweetened tea, hot tea, coffee, soda water – if you still need that carbonation, or just  a cup of water.  Removing soda from the meal takes out unnecessary calories and sugars, that I would rather use on actual food!

Eat When Relaxed: This is another tricky tip to follow, especially if you are in a rush. I know I get fast food when I am in a bind, its past bed time and have two screaming toddlers in the back seat. I find all too often gorging down the meal while driving, just so I can get home and get everyone else taken care of, knowing this is my only chance to get some food down. This is called distracted eating. I recommend skipping the upset stomach later by waiting to eat when you can sit down at home or park the car and have everyone eat in a somewhat relaxed manner. This way your stomach has a chance to tell your mind it is full.

Some ‘healthier’ option ideas next time you are at McDonalds

(McDonalds Healthiest (CNN, 2017))

Kids: 4 piece chicken McNuggets, apple slices, low fat yogurt stick and low fat milk.

Vegetarians: Fruit and yogurt parfait (snack/mini meal); or Southwest salad (no chicken) with Newman’s Own creamy Southwest dressing

Vegans: Southwest salad (no chicken or cheese) with Newman’s Own low-fat balsamic vinaigrette; or side salad with balsamic vinaigrette and hamburger bun; and a “Cutie” (mandarin orange)

Calorie Counters: Southwest grilled chicken salad (without dressing); or bacon ranch grilled chicken salad (without bacon and with half a packet of Newman’s Own ranch dressing); or Egg McMuffin (without Canadian bacon or butter); and fruit and yogurt parfait (snack/mini meal size)

Sugar Conscious: Chicken McNuggets (six pieces) with spicy buffalo dipping sauce; or Egg McMuffin (without Canadian bacon or butter)

Gluten Sensitive: Southwest grilled chicken salad (without dressing or tortilla strips); or Egg McMuffin (without muffin and butter)

Athlete: Artisan grilled chicken sandwich; or fruit and maple oatmeal without brown sugar; and fat-free chocolate milk jug

Low Carb: Artisan grilled chicken sandwich (without bun); or Egg McMuffin (without muffin and butter); or cheeseburger (without bun); side salad with Newman’s Own low-fat balsamic vinaigrette

A Healthier Way to Vacation

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When you think of vacation, usually you think of relaxation, adventure, and a chance to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle. Typically, eating right and exercising is not the first thing that comes to mind. But, you can still focus on healthy eating and active living while on vacation without feeling like you’re missing out on the full experience of what vacation is.

Plan Your Vacation Around Activity

Sand volleyball, swimming, golfing and walking around site seeing are all easy and fun to do during a vacation. When you are having fun, you are more likely to participate in those activities and less likely to think that you are actually exercising. Plan your days with something active and adventurous in between all of the lounging and eating that can happen.

Bring Your Own Snacks

Whether you’re driving or flying, snacks tend to be expensive and limited to unhealthy options. Most airports have increased prices on food and vending machines leave you with choosing between cookie and chips. Bringing your own snacks helps you to be prepared to tackle on those cravings and hunger pains that happen with long layovers and traveling. Bring fresh fruits or cut up vegetables, pretzels or air popped popcorn along and you can actually save money.

Fill Up on Healthy Foods First at the Buffet

Walk around the buffet once to pick out all of the healthy options you have. Focus on getting plenty of fresh fruits, greens, and lean protein sources first to help fill you up before indulging in some of the treat foods. Then, if you are forced to eat some lesser healthy options throughout the day, you will have at least eaten plenty of produce and fiber beforehand.

Treat Yourself

Choose your splurges wisely, but do allow for some splurges—I mean it is a vacation! Consider your favorite things and enjoy them, but pass on the things you can easily get at home that add extra calories. For instance, pop and bread at dinner are things we easily come by every day but fancy desserts or a cities signature food is hard to duplicate.

Unplug and Unwind

These days, it’s harder than ever to put down our phones and unplug from all the technology we are around every day. The point of a vacation is to eliminate stress and steer clear of work in order for your brain to fully relax. Try your hardest to resist the temptation of checking on your emails and always having your phone around. Leave your phone in the hotel room 1 day and bring a disposable camera to still capture all the memories.

6 Tips From Our Registered Dietitian

Portrait of sporty beautiful happy young woman practicing yoga, standing in low lunge exercise, warming up, stretching before morning running routine, working out outdoor on autumn day in sportswear

Tips for healthy eating during the holidays:

  • Take your time! Be mindful of what you are eating, especially between meals when you are more likely to graze your way through the day.
  • Use a smaller plate at meals. This will help you control your portion sizes and help prevent you from over eating. Also, try to fill most of your plate with vegetables.
  • Do not skip meals throughout the day. Rather than “saving your appetite” for the big feast, try to fill your day with nutrient rich meals. High fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can be a great way to stay full.
  • Hydrate with water. There may be a large variety of beverages available during the holidays. Remember that water is the only beverage that your body needs to function regularly.
  • Be healthy when satisfying your sweet tooth. Choose a piece of fruit when you feel like eating something sweet.
  • Post feast physical activity. After a busy day of preparing for the big meal, remember that it is always advised to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the day. A post meal walk with friends and family can be a great way to fit your activity in.

MORE This, LESS That

Group of diverse people are gathering for christmas holiday
With the holidays on the horizon, it can be daunting to think about how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy body weight. The peer pressure of friends and family around the table mixed with all the delicious options can surely set you back. Before looking into tips for eating healthy during the holidays, let’s review what a healthy diet looks like!

EAT MORE:

  • Whole Grains: Make at least half of your grains whole grains by eating more brown rice, quinoa, whole grain breads and cereals, and whole wheat pasta.
  • Vegetables: Try to make at least half of your plate fruits and vegetables at meals. Include more beans and legumes as well. Focus on eating vegetables of varying color!
  • Fruits: Try to sneak more fruits in between meals to help prevent letting yourself feel starved. Again, eat fruits of varying color!
  • Lean Proteins: When choosing a protein for your meal, try to choose a lean protein source such as chicken breast, turkey breast, lean cuts of beef and pork, fish and seafood, as well as tofu.
  • Fat Free Dairy Products: Choose low-fat or fat free milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Nuts and Seeds: This is another great snack food to help satisfy your hunger between meals.
  • Water: As always, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout each and every day.

EAT LESS:

  • Sodium: Try to limit salt to 2,300 mg per day by consuming less processed foods that may be high in sodium, add fewer high sodium ingredients, and taste food before salting it.
  • Saturated Fat: Try to avoid processed foods with high levels of saturated or trans fats, as well as well-marbled meat, cured meats, poultry skin, butter, and whole fat dairy products. Replace these fats with avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds.
  • Refined Grains: These grains have had the bran and germ (which hold most of the nutritious value!) taken out. Try eating more whole grains to replace white bread, white rice, pasta, and flour tortillas.
  • Added Sugar: Avoid foods and beverages that contain added sugars. These foods include soda, juice, candy, cookies, dairy desserts, cakes, pies, and more.

One in Eight

Breast Cancer Awareness {Not just for Women}

Hands showing cancer balloons word

No one likes the ‘C’ word. It’s scary, unknown, expensive and can change lives in an instant. However, the more you know about cancer and the more measures that are taken towards prevention and detection, the better off you’ll be.

Did you know that one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? If that’s not you, its someone you know, someone you sit by at the office, a high school friend, a daughter, sister or Mother. While women do take the brunt of breast cancer, it is important to remember that men can be diagnosed as well.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Tenderness
  • Lumps or ‘thickening’ of tissue near underarms
  • Skin texture or pore enlargement
  • Change in shape/size/placement {bigger or smaller}
  • Dimpling, swelling or discoloration
Have you done these things yet? {Have your friends?}
  • Stay physically active and control weight
  • Limit alcohol and give up smoking
  • Breast feed (if possible)
  • Avoid radiation exposure and pollution

Know your body and when things are different. Do self exams and if something even seems questionable, go to a screening facility or your doctors office. Even if you think, “it’s probably nothing,” set your mind at ease, or begin the on your path to treatment.

So, what’s the good news…..

By reading this you have further educated yourself and will {hopefully} pass on at least one piece of information to another women {or man} that will help raise awareness and increase the estimated 180,000 SURVIVORS of breast cancer each year.

Is there such a thing as a ‘healthy Halloween’?

pumpkin

When you think of Halloween I doubt the  word ‘health’ comes to mind. I think of candy-corn, gummies, and the over-the-top neighbors that pass out king size candy bars. To my surprise there is a way to still have a good time but not completely derail your progress.


  1. 1. Eat before pulling out the candy dish.
    1. Whether you are heading out for trick-or-treating or are in charge of passing out candy, make sure to eat a substantial meal before the candy makes its way out. Our family tradition is Halloween homemade chili. It is a quick and healthy meal that is great for a chilly October night, even with doorbell interruptions (See the recipe here)
  2. 2. Don’t over buy or early buy the candy.
    1. Set yourself up for success by not getting too much candy or tempting yourself by keeping it in the house for too long before the 31st. If you still have a lot of leftover goodies and the trick-or-treaters are beginning to dwindle, be generous! Increase that one/two piece ratio to a handful. The kids will love it and you won’t be stuck with the Snickers.
  3. 3. Trick-or-treat with your kids, if you don’t have kids (or they are too cool for you) walk around to see the costumes and fall leaves.
    1. Trick-or-treaters can cover some serious ground. Throw on your tracking device and try to get a couple thousand steps in. You can even make this a competition among your family to see who can get the most steps.
  4. 4. Treat yourself!
    1. It is a holiday so don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick out two of your favorite candies (snack size) and don’t feel guilty letting yourself indulge.
  5. 5. Keep your water bottle close.
    1. Water intake is a great way to keep your sweet tooth at bay. Make a game of it; every time someone says, “trick-or-treat,” or “happy Halloween,” take a swig.

I would love to hear some tips and tricks you have used in the past or are planning to implement this year to have a “Happy Healthy Halloween!”

How to Avoid Added Sugar

Sugar has been getting a lot of negative attention in the media over the last few years. That’s because not only is it one of the main causes of our countries obesity epidemic, but it also can cause a lot of preventable diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and cavities just to name a few. Cutting sugar out completely can seem impossible but here are some simple things to look for to avoid consuming more added sugars.

Read the Labels: There are products that you know sugar is already in such as fruit juice, sweetened cereals and candy. The problem is, sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we typically wouldn’t expect. Everything from tomato sauce, to ketchup, to granola bars and even some spices contain sugar. Make sure to read the label fully and look for the amount of sugar per serving size. Ideally, you should aim for sugar to be no more than 48 grams. There are about 56 grams of sugar in a bottle of Gatorade… just to emphasize the importance of reading the labels first before consuming.

Buy Fresh Foods over Canned: It is recommended by the USDA food guidelines to aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and a colorful assortment of them. Although fruit does have sugar in it, these are natural sugars and not artificially added sugars like the ones we find in our foods. Canned foods, especially fruits, are swimming in syrupy sugar water in order to preserve their freshness and shelf life. Always choose fresh over canned and just shop for the amount of fresh produce that you’re actually going to eat that week, since it will go bad faster than the canned versions.

Try Healthy Substitutions: There are a number of baking substitutions you can use to reduce your sugar intake. Applesauce is a great natural sweetener to use in place of large amounts of sugar. You can also use extracts to bring sweetness to baked goods and cinnamon and nutmeg that can cut down on the added sugars in a dish. When you bake at home, you can even cut the sugar called in recipes down and not notice the difference in taste.

Make Your Own Food: The best way to make sure you don’t consume any extra sugars is to cook your own food at home. You get to choose the ingredients, you know exactly how much sugar does/doesn’t go into a recipe, and you can control your portion sizes. This is a great way to take control of your health and really give your family the best possible food and nutrition. If you need some inspiration on less sugar dishes, check out some of the healthy recipes below.

http://www.thelittleepicurean.com/2015/02/avocado-kale-smoothie.html?crlt.pid=camp.fBbHcF49nUqK

http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com/cilantro-lime-chicken-with-avocado-salsa/

http://fitandhealthywithdebbie.blogspot.com/2012/10/banana-oatmeal-breakfast-muffins.html?m=1#.WNvQuvnytPZ