Summer Slim-Down Foods


Losing weight can be challenging and excess hunger is one of the biggest obstacles most of us encounter when we try to slim down. If you’re focused on losing a few pounds before heading out to the beach, check out this article for foods that will help manage appetite without sacrificing flavor.


Do Your Heart Good

Celebrate Heart Health Month!

A heart healthy diet can be delicious and simple to follow. The American Heart Association offers a number of free resources on their website ( to help you get started.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean dieting. Instead, it’s best to aim for making your diet part of an overall healthier lifestyle. A great way to begin is to become more aware of what you’re eating.

Read Nutrition Labels
Many of us think we know what we’re eating until we actually look at the nutritional information. Pay particular attention to portion size per serving, saturated fat, and sodium. Tread lightly when it comes to foods higher in saturated fat (above 7% of calories) and sodium. Most of us should consume less than 1500 mg of sodium eat day but sadly the typical American diet contains about 3 times that amount and not from excessive salt shaker use but rather from the ready prepared and restaurant foods that many of us rely so heavily upon.

Here’s a few more ideas to get you started:

Get Moving
If you’re currently sedentary and your doctor feels it’s safe for you to do so, slowly begin to incorporate more movement into your daily life. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym everyday but with a little regular physical activity, you’ll find it easier to control weight and reduce hunger while decreasing your risk of chronic disease.

Examine Your Plate
Aim to fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables. This will help fill you up on less calories and provide vital nutrients that play a role in blood pressure regulation.

Your Friend Fiber
Choose fiber rich foods including plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies. Aim for breads and cereals that have a minimum of 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. Oat bran found in certain cereals and abundantly in old-fashioned oatmeal, is a wonderful addition to any breakfast lineup- as this particular fiber is has been found especially helpful to lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels.

Get An Oil Change
The type of oil we consume can have a big impact on our health. Focus on the mono-unsaturated, heart-healthy oils such as olive and canola while aiming to incorporate those wonderful omega-3’s a couple times a week found in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna. You also find omega 3’s in non-animal sources as well such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

A heart healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. With a bit of planning, you’ll not only reduce your risk of heart disease, but feel so much better knowing you’ve taken a few steps to improve the quality of your life.

Type 2 Diabetes: Are You At Risk?

November is American Diabetes Month, which is a time when the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other organizations raise awareness of diabetes and communicate the seriousness of the disease.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

About 95% of those diagnosed with diabetes are classified as Type 2.  Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s main source of fuel.  With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening.


26 million Americans have diabetes with 2 million new cases diagnosed each year.  An overwhelming 79 million Americans have higher than normal blood glucose levels but are not yet classified as diabetic and it’s expected that about 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes in 2050 at the current rate of incidence.


Diabetes is costly financially as well as to your health and wellbeing.  Fiscally, diabetes costs the U.S. alone $174 billion each year.  This figure represents a 32% increase since 2007.  Let’s put this into prospective, about one out of every 10 healthcare dollars are spent in direct diabetes care.  The health impact is just as staggering with a risk for stroke and death from heart disease at 2-4 times higher among people with the disease.  Diabetes is also the number one cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults.

What You Can Do

You can do a lot to prevent or delay Type 2 Diabetes.

1.) Watch Your Weight

If you are over ideal weight, there are a number of studies that indicate that losing only 5-7% of your current body weight will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.  For instance, if you weigh 200 lbs, a weight loss of only 10-14 lbs will lower your risk significantly.

2.) Controlling your Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly and talk with your doctor about higher than normal readings.

3.) Eat Healthier

Consume plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Minimize the amount of take out and processed meals which typically have much higher levels of fat, calories and sodium and contribute to high cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight gain.

4.) Stay Active

Aim for a minimum of 25-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week.  And remember, exercise doesn’t only happen at a gym.  Staying active means taking advantage of opportunities to move more in our daily life.  Examples may be walking for short errands like mailing a letter or going to the store, gardening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking the dog, etc.

5.) Quit Smoking

Those who smoke are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.  So if you’re thinking about quitting, now is the time.

For more information on diabetes and prevention visit the American Diabetes Association.

About the author:

Gina M. Crome, M.S., M.P.H., R.D., is a Registered Dietitian and ACE Certified Personal Trainer based in Southern California.  She is the owner of Lifestyle Management Solutions, a company that provides customized nutrition and fitness programs designed to fit an individual’s lifestyle.  Become a fan of Gina on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and visit her website Lifestyle Management Solutions.

Does Your Fitness Routine Vacation For The Summer?

Summer often presents a difficult time of year to maintain a fitness regimen.  Much of the difficulty appears to be in maintaining a routine.  Between vacations, keeping the kids entertained on break, and other summertime events, fitness often gets pushed to the proverbial back burner.  Inevitably, September arrives and we find ourselves a few pounds heavier looking to shed the weight before the holidays.  Sound familiar??  Then please read on… 

The good news is that physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be elaborate during busy times nor does it have to be restricted to the home or gym.   In 3 simple steps we can avoid the inevitable summer weight gain and seamlessly blend it into our summer activities.

1.)  It’s All In The Planning

Often times we plan our activities based on where we are going to eat or what we are going to see.  Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this logic, we must also consider one more factor which is how much are we going to move.  Staying fit while traveling requires regular activity combined with a bit of creativity.  Consider activity as part of your recreational planning.  Look for ways that the entire family can get involved such as family day at a local park or an early evening after-dinner hike.  If heat is a factor, consider utilizing the services offered in your city through your local parks and recreation departments such as public pools and organized group trips to various places of interest.  Vacations at larger hotels and resorts will sometimes offer sightseeing activity packages.  They usually refer to these as “adventure” tours.  These excursions can present unique opportunities for activities that can compliment a current fitness routine as well as provide enjoyment for everyone in your party.

2.)  Send Your Fitness Packing

Packing for your fitness-minded vacation can be a snap.  A workout outfit and a sturdy pair of sneakers can provide the basics of your travel gear but don’t stop there.  Other must have items to pack would include: a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, healthy snacks such as protein bars, fruit, beef jerky, and 100-calorie snack packs (for times when only gas station stops or vending machine food is available).  Most hotels have a fitness center; some are more elaborate than others.  It pays to call ahead to find out what they offer and if there are additional fees to utilize the facility.  If your hotel doesn’t offer a fitness facility or you choose not to use it, you can get a great workout just by packing a few extra items such as a jump rope, exercise bands/tubing or simple suspension resistance equipment like the I.M. Rings from BodyByJake.

3.)  Work With What You Have

You’re in your hotel room and you forgot to bring anything even remotely related to fitness and there’s no hotel gym in sight.  What do you do?  The answer is- work with what you have.  Any fitness professional will tell you that the best fitness routine will contain 3 elements:  1.) Cardiovascular Activity, 2.) Strength Training and 3.) Flexibility.  It’s possible to get all three of these critical components on vacation even without a gym or equipment. 

Cardiovascular Activity

Perhaps the easiest way to get in cardiovascular activity is through walking.  This can be done in tandem with sightseeing through walking tours or as dedicated exercise.  Walking the surrounding area of a hotel can offer the weary traveler a chance to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and take in different scenery.  If you don’t want to leave the comforts of your hotel but are looking for a great cardio workout, try the stairs.  Moving as quickly as you can through flights of stairs can be intense, so it’s important to pace yourself.  If you can’t step away from the free HBO in your room, try jogging in place or simple callisthenic-type exercises like jumping jacks.  Both will elevate your heart rate and help you burn off those poolside mai tai’s. 

Strength Training

The notion of strength training conjures up images of pumping iron in a gym.  The truth is that strength training doesn’t necessarily have to involve dumbbells, barbells, or any sort of gym equipment.  Simple things found in your hotel room can easily double as dumbbells such as filled water bottles or other equally weighted small items.  Using your own body weight as resistance is often times the easiest way to achieve results in the absence of any equipment.  Standard lower body exercises such as lunges and squats can prove very effective for this purpose.  Basic upper body exercises such as push-ups either against a wall or the floor as well as dips using a chair or bed are also great ways to work the upper back as well as arms.  Abdominal exercises are also super easy to accomplish with the help of a few curl ups as well as alternating leg scissors.


Flexibility is the third critical component in a good fitness program.  It’s often overlooked many times because people don’t realize the benefit of flexibility.  However, flexibility is important as it decreases the likelihood of injury and enhances the work that we do on the other two components.  The easiest way to get this in is through stretching post work out when your muscles are completely warmed up.  Stretches for all major muscle groups should be held for 10-15 seconds without any bouncing motions.

By incorporating these 3 exercise elements into your travel plans, a vacation can be a great place to either jumpstart a fitness routine or provide you with a unique opportunity to continue with the good habits you’ve already established.  With a bit of creativity and pre-planning, you’ll be successful at avoiding summer weight gain and realize that a fitness routine doesn’t really need a vacation after all.

Back to School and Back to You: Recommit to Taking Care of Yourself

It’s that time of year again.  The kids are back in school, the holidays are right around the corner and it’s time to recommit to taking care of yourself.  The difficult part always begs the question, where do I begin? 

One of the first things that I ask my clients seeking weight management is why it’s important for them to manage their weight and what does it mean to them personally.  At first glance, this seems like a simple question but actually the answers are very unique for everyone.  We each have personal reasons for wanting to make lifestyle changes.  Some may be based on health issues, others on physical appearance and confidence.  Whatever the reason, it’s important to have a clear picture as to what motivates you and if possible to get those thoughts down on paper.  

One place to start would be with creating a simple “Top 10 List” that highlights a few of the most important reasons why you would like to lose weight.  This is your personal list and doesn’t need to be shared with anyone so it’s best to be specific and candid.  It’s amazing how different we view our thoughts and feelings when they come out of our head and put onto paper.  This simple process not only legitimizes our efforts, but also helps us sort through our priorities. You’ll know that you’ve created a meaningful list if upon re-glancing at it in the future, it takes you back to the feelings you had the day you created it.

Another strategy I use to help clients begin their journey is through a simple tool that I created called the Commitment Worksheet.  This worksheet acts as a self-contract by outlining your short term goals, exploring potential roadblocks and setting a plan for rewarding your accomplishments.  

These items are not just an exercise in listing your thoughts and goals, but tools used to help keep you on track when your motivation begins to wane.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, goes through cycles of highs and lows in their motivation.  Much of the variance is related to your individual stress level and pressures of daily living.  Simple everyday distractions always seem to threaten our best efforts to stay on track.  Take control of your life by ensuring your goals are personally meaningful and visibly available; especially when you need a little extra help committing to taking better care of yourself.

How Fit Is Your Company? The Real Benefits Involved In Worksite Wellness Programs

Early in my career, I’ve had the privilege of developing several specific health improvement programs for a major insurance carrier.  At the time, I was unaware of the impact our development team was making on all the lives we touched.  The truth is, we created programs that not only improved quality of life for the individual, but also gave employers a major advantage when it came to healthier and happier workers. 

The current economic downswing has forced companies to reduce expenditure in a number of areas in an effort to stay afloat financially.  At a time when many people are either looking for work or find themselves in jobs whereby even the slightest cost of living raise is out of the question, the issue here is where should employers turn to retain their qualified staff and promote company loyalty?   

Worksite wellness programs have been long touted as a means of increasing the health and wellbeing of a workforce.  It’s no mystery that healthier employees are happier employees that will take fewer sick days, are more productive, and have lower rates of medical utilization.  In fact, according to the Wellness Council of America, for every $1 invested in a wellness program, there is $3 savings in health care costs.  However, I believe they actually do more than that – they create a message.  This underlying message to the employee is that we (as management) are willing to invest in you and want you to live healthier.  Even the smallest changes of policy and health improvement offerings will create a sense of belonging and camaraderie; qualities of which are essential to any organization.

So where do you begin?  Always start with feedback from employees.  Ensure there is an interest in developing a program.  Next, form a company health improvement committee comprised of individuals representing all levels of the company-including upper management.  This sends the message to everyone that the program is supported across the board.  It’s a good idea to start on a small scale and build your program over time.  This helps the program maintain longevity, employee interest and financial flexibility moving forward.

Below lists a few economical programs that can be quickly put into operation.

  • Vending Machine Revamp
  • Walking Programs
  • Weekly Lunch and Learns
  • “Biggest Loser” Challenges
  • No Smoking Policies

In a time when companies are looking to cut costs, the one area that shouldn’t suffer is the health and wellbeing of their employees. A cost effective program can implemented by getting everyone involved and taking small, inexpensive steps to improve the overall health of the company.

Baby Steps To Reach Your Weight Goals

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most basic things we can do to improve our health and lower our risk of chronic disease.  Yet so many of us who try to lose weight find that the high motivation at the beginning of their new regime soon gives rise to despair and disappointment when their weight loss goals fall short of expectations.  One of the most significant things to understand about weight loss is that we reach our ultimate weight through a series of small steps.  Each “baby step” brings us closer to our ultimate weight goals.  An analogy can be made when we travel to a desired destination.  Depending on our mode of transportation, we must proceed through a series of steps via turns, stop signs, and the like to bring us to our destination. 

People often fail to reach their weight goals not because they lack willpower, but because they may be unable to learn and recognize the steps necessary to reach their destination.  An example of this phenomenon can be seen in what is commonly known as Yo-Yo dieters; those individuals who lose weight at an extremely rapid rate and conversely gain it all back (and then some) throughout the course of their life.  Here are a few things to consider as you move toward your weight loss goals.

Lay Groundwork for Gradual Change – No one puts on the weight overnight, so you need to plan to be successful. Begin your journey by setting realistic expectations.  A healthy rate of weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week.  This is the ideal rate at which we are able lose actual fat tissue. Weight loss exceeding 2 pounds per week is usually indicative of a loss of more than just fat tissue but muscle as well. 

Prepare Your Social Climate – Ask those closest to you to support your efforts.  Few people eat alone or in isolation; so those around them and the environment in which we eat is as critical as what we eat.  Families, friends, and acquaintances can influence what we eat and how much.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support in your goals.

Choose Healthy Options Each Day – What we eat is as important as how much we eat.  People sitting down to a meal decide what they want to eat first, and if they even want to eat everything on their plate.  Start with the foods that will fill you up early in the meal – vegetables and proteins. You can still enjoy the breads and desserts later, but in smaller portions as you fill up on healthier foods first.

Reaching your weight goals involves getting through the twists and turns of the journey. Succeeding in the smaller steps can lead to reaching the final milestone.   Sticking to the right path of your journey is not only important in your success of losing weight but keeping it off for a lifetime.

What’s In Your Drink? Hidden calories that can pack a real punch

As many people begin a plan to reduce their caloric intake, they often think about what they are eating.  The truth is cutting calories means more than watching what you eat; it’s also about what you drink.  Did you know that people consume about 400 calories each day just from beverages alone?  This equates to 2800 extra calories each week.  If those beverage calories are in excess of what it takes to sustain your current weight, it could mean potential weight gain of about 1 pound per week!  Additionally, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition cited that among our beverage calories, 37% of them are from sugar-sweetened sources such as sodas and energy drinks. 

When the weather starts heating up, most of us reach for those cold drinks to cool us down.  So what’s in your drink anyway?  Soft-drinks (sodas) are fairly straight forward with sugar comprising the main ingredient, carbonated water, and artificial coloring in some cases.  In general a 12 ounce can of soda is about 150 calories, all of which come from the main ingredient (sugar).  Energy drinks on the other hand have gained enormous popularity over the last 5-10 years.  The interesting thing about the marketing of these beverages is that they follow the same lines as the claims made by the early pioneers of soft-drinks purporting that their product will give you energy and vitality.  In reality, energy drinks are very similar to soft drinks in that their main ingredients are sugar and water with about the same number of calories (150 per 12 ounces).  The “energy” constituent comes from another common ingredient found in many sodas which is caffeine.  A typical energy drink can have between 70-200 mg of caffeine per can.  To keep this in prospective, a typical cup of coffee contains about 80mg of caffeine. 

Negative side effects from caffeine in excessive amounts (over 400mg) include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, abnormal heart rhythms, and stomach upset.  Worse, if you are using sodas or energy drinks as a way to replenish fluids and rehydrate, you are actually doing just the opposite.  Caffeine acts as a diuretic in the body, meaning it has a tendency to make you lose excess water; couple that with an individual who has already lost water through sweat during exercise and it’s easy to understand how someone can quickly dehydrate.

Be it calories or caffeine, the real issue here all boils down to quantity.  As a dietitian, I’m not in the business of telling people what they can or cannot have.  Water is the best way to rehydrate, however, if you choose to drink a portion of your daily calories (with or without caffeine), I think it’s important to know what you are getting.  Be a smart consumer and ask for the nutritional information at your favorite coffee house or drive up window, read nutritional labels, and above all know what’s in your drink.

Sodium: A Salty Subject

So what is salt anyway and why is too much of it bad for us? 

Salt is a naturally occurring mineral found in rock (rock salt) and water (sea salt) that is used to a great extent in the preservation of food.  Historically, it was such a precious commodity because allowed foods to be brought great distances without spoilage.  However, because it was so highly regarded, it was difficult to come by.  Roman soldiers were occasionally paid their wage in salt (salarium in Latin) and some believe this is where we get the term Salary. 

But enough on history…so what is all the hubbub about salt?  Since it’s natural it should be good for us in unlimited quantities, right?  Not exactly my friend.  According to the American Heart Association, most of us should strive for a Sodium intake of no more than 2300 mg per day which is the equivalent of about a teaspoon of salt.  The bad news is that most of us get twice that amount (and often greater) on a regular basis. 

So where does all this sodium come from?  If you said “the salt shaker” you’d be wrong. 

The truth is that the salt we add to our foods is the least of our worries.  Most of the salt consumed (almost 80%) comes in the form of processed and/or restaurant foods.  Now we get back to the function of salt as discussed earlier.  Salt is a preservative and as such is needed in the processing of foods to maintain their shelf life.  Examples of higher sodium items are canned foods like soups, frozen entrees, boxed side dishes, cheeses, deli meats, and soy sauce just to name of few.

Also, remember that kosher salt and sea salt still contain sodium.  Some believe that these are better sources as they have a lower amount of sodium than standard table salt.  However, this difference is very slight and has to do more with the density of the grain.  Table salt has a smaller grain compared to sea or kosher salt which is larger with more space between granules.  Therefore a teaspoon of table salt will contain more sodium because it has less open space between granules.

 The good news is that decreasing the amount of sodium in your diet can result in a lower blood pressure. Here are a few tips: 

  • Read your nutritional labels.  You may be surprised at the amount of sodium in the foods you eat on a regular basis.
  • If you are on blood pressure medicines, know that a reduction of sodium intake will help your medications work more effectively.
  • Balance your meals with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.  They provide wonderful nutrients like potassium while at the same time helps to fill you up with fewer calories and less salt.

If you dine out regularly, beware!  Most restaurant foods have very high levels of sodium in their foods to enhance flavor.  Check the menu’s nutritional information or ask your waiter.

Whenever possible, consume foods in their more natural state.  Unfortunately, our busy lives don’t always afford us the opportunity to cook all foods from scratch, but if we work towards reducing the so-called convenience items, we may find ourselves better able to keep our sodium intake in check.