Weight loss success
By Mary Beth Galarneau
After: 131 (10 more to go)
Went from tight size 14 to a loose size 8
Months it took: 12
Dawn Lajeunesse can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t aspire to lead a healthy lifestyle. But like many people, the aspiring part wasn’t enough to make her change her lifestyle. Motivation did come, however, from debilitating health problems that were interfering with her quality of life.
Growing up, Lajeunesse maintained a normal weight with minimal effort. But like many people, she gained a lot of weight in college, lost it after graduation and yo-yoed all of her adult life. Her early fifties brought with it a cardiac scare that resulted in her being hospitalized at Albany Medical Center for a night. The problem was not acute, but highlighted her risk factors: high blood pressure, cholesterol and family history. Like many other times during her life, Lajeunesse lost weight, only to put it back on in a few months.
Her mid-fifties proved more difficult. “I was always tired, and the more I rested, the less I felt like doing. I just felt lousy all of the time,” she said.
A nurse for 37 years, she knew that her health problems were lifestyle-related.
Three years ago, she had a minor surgical procedure that created imbalance problems and caused chronic vertigo. Though it decreased over the year, it never completely went away. Her inability to endure any kind of physical fitness caused her weight to creep back up.
Not only did she walk like she had a stroke, but she couldn’t walk a straight line without holding onto something. “I felt vulnerable and old and then I got mad, more at myself than anything else. I knew I had to take control,” said the 59-year-old.
About four months after the minor surgery, she contacted Judy Torel, a long-time Capital Region personal trainer with over 25 years experience based out of Planet Fitness in Loudonville. Lajeunesse had followed Torel throughout her career since her days teaching at the old Colonie Athletic Center in the 1980s. Formerly a resident of Loudonville, Lajeunesse, who now lives in Chestertown but works in Albany, said it was a no-brainer to seek out Torel.
“She exudes energy, fitness and drive. Many trainers have some of that, but Judy takes it to another level.”
Upon seeking out Torel, she began her on a strength building routines to rectify her muscle strength imbalances. “Fitness and weight loss were less of a focus at that point,” Lajeunesse said.
Though she sought out physical therapy for her problems in the past, it didn’t help. But Torel’s routine zeroed in on the problem and, within a few months, even with the chronic vertigo, her muscle strength was balanced and sufficient enough for her to begin a more active program.
Torel took Lajeunesse’s baseline weights and measurements and conducted metabolic-type testing to identify the appropriate balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats for optimal health (40-40-20 percent). She also set up an exercise routine that incorporated cardiovascular exercises into the mix.
“Mostly what I did was time on the elliptical and walking (with increasing elevation) on the treadmill about three times a week.”
As for the diet, Lajeunesse, a former “junk food junkie”, found that the 40-40-20 balance satisfied her enough that she wouldn’t overeat. Very occasionally, she will allow herself junk, calling it “therapeutic”, but is quickly reminded how lousy they make her feel.
Be don’t be misled: changing her diet, which sometimes consisted of chips and candy for meals, was not easy. “Judy recommended going a certain number of days with only protein and water vegetables to help clear my system and reduce cravings.” Though she slid backward many times, she eventually settled into a healthy pattern.
With portion control and moderate exercise, the weight slowly started to come off. “I wasn’t really focused on weight loss as getting my functional self back.”
About a year later, she reached a plateau and felt ready to push herself further. “It was very much an evolving process,” said Lajeunesse, who then started weekly training sessions with Torel.
Another ailment she suffered from for years was chronic back pain, which didn’t completely go away when her strength imbalances were corrected. Physical therapy, chiropractic care and even cortisone shots in her hip and spinal column didn’t help.
“Judy didn’t give up until she identified a possible cause.”
The cause turned out to be a discrepancy in her leg length and the solution was as simple as wearing a Dr. Scholl’s insert in the shoe on her shorter side. Within a month, her recurrent back pain was history and thoughts of running a marathon started creeping into her mind.
Though an attempt to run a marathon 10 years earlier was an unpleasant experience for Lajeunesse because of her chronic pain, she still loved long runs. Now that her health had improved, the thought of running another race enticed her. In early 2008, she turned to Torel to assess her capability to run and to design a program.
“At that point, we began the online training format, with only occasional in-person encounters to adjust my weight workouts.”
Torel provides her with a week of workouts at a time, and Lajeunesse logs in daily to record her completion of the workouts. This program also has a nutrition log component, but Lajeunesse admits to not having been as consistent with that as the workout log. Torel reads the log and adapts the workout schedule, increasing, decreasing, or just modifying routines as needed.
Following the plan and eating healthy without counting calories, Lajeunesse felt herself growing leaner and feeling fitter by the week.
“I lost about 15 pounds during the training and felt better than I could ever remember – even in my youth.”
But a strained calf muscle during a half-marathon (13 miles) three weeks before the big marathon caused her to have to stop at the 13.5 mile mark. But it certainly didn’t dampen her spirits; instead, it has only egged her on. She plans to run in the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington this May.
“In a way, that was a good thing because now I have unfinished business. There is no way I’m going to slack off on training.”
And, if all goes well, Lajeunesse plans on doing another marathon in the fall, before she turns 60.
Lajeunesse’s typical weekly workout schedule (it varies a little, depending on the phase of her training.)
Sunday – long run (2-4+ hours)
Monday – off
Tuesday – moderate (4-5 mile) run or 1 hour elliptical (strides 180/resistance 7) plus 30-45 minutes strength
Wednesday – 1 hour elliptical
Thursday – Speed work – 4 miles inclusive of intervals of running at LT pace, plus 45 minutes strength. (LT pace stands for lactic acid threshold and is the pace when you start to reach an intensity that you can no longer sustain without an excess of lactic acid starting to accumulate in the blood. It is also known as “race pace”.)
Friday – off
Saturday – easy run or 1 hour elliptical plus 45-minutes of strength training
Intensity is key to staying in shape. “In the old days I would spend 45-60 minutes on the elliptical and barely break a sweat.” Now, with the speed and resistance training added in, Lajeunesse is soaked within 10 minutes. Before, she would alternate running and walking on the treadmill, now she alternates running and running faster.
“The length of the workouts and the intensity both contribute to fat burning,” she said. In addition to her workout schedule, Lajeunesse also canoes with her husband, hikes and walks her dog. She also enjoys the occasional yoga class.
Boost your immunity
By Alissa Lubanski
If you haven’t gotten that dreaded winter cold already, then you probably would like to prevent it in any way possible. The key is to keep your immune system strong so it can fight off any harmful invaders in your body. In order to do its job, the immune system requires a constant supply of energy and nutrients.
The following tips can help build up the immune system, and in turn, can combat not only that cold, but a host of other diseases.
Keep sugar to a minimum. Sugar depletes nutrient absorption in your body and raises your body’s insulin levels, which in turn, depresses the immune system.
Get enough sleep each night. When you sleep, your body is able to make repairs. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will not only feel run-down but your immune system will also suffer.
Exercise. Exercise is beneficial in so many ways. It helps combat stress, which can take a toll on the immune system. Yoga, for instance, can help balance energies and certain poses help massage organs, improving immune system function.
Wash your hands. Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you come home, and always before you eat. This reduces your exposure to bacterial and viral infections. Don’t use antibacterial wipes, because that can allow strains of virus and bacteria to mutate and become stronger, making them more difficult to treat.
Eat your fruits & veggies. Get necessary antioxidants, vitamins A, C & E, lycopene, Omega 3, folate and other nutrients from colorful fruits and veggies to feed your immune system.
Ingest probiotics. The majority of the immune system lies within the digestive tract. Help your body keep up the good fight against bad bacteria with probiotics (aka healthy bacteria) found in yogurt, kefir and even in supplement form.
Drink tea or tisanes. Green tea and herbal teas (aka tisanes) such as Echinacea, Goldenseal, Astralagus, and Cat’s Claw are all shown to boost the immune system. Add a cinnamon stick or a teaspoon of honey to tea for extra health properties.
Get a massage. Massage stimulates the lymphatic system, improves circulation of blood, and nourishes the entire body, which in turn helps to rid your body of unwanted debris or metabolic waste products that can cause disease.
See a chiropractor. According to Dr. Ron Pero at New York Preventative Medicine Institute and Environmental Health at NYU, people who receive regular chiropractic adjustments have immune system competency that is 200 percent greater than those who don’t. Need we say more?
Do the Thymus Tap. The Thymus is sometimes considered “the mother” of the immune system. Located behind the breast bone, it produces T-cell lymphocytes which help fight infection. Make a fist and tap on the sternum, or center of chest on the breast bone, for 20 seconds while taking deep breaths and humming. Pounding on the sternum will stimulate the thymus gland (apparently Shirley Maclain swears by this!). Think Tarzan thumping his chest; in effect, this is what he was doing, giving himself a boost of energy and courage, while improving his immune system!
Laugh often. Laughing reduces stress hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol. It also benefits your immune system by increasing the number of T-cells that help your body fight infection and disease.
Break out the humidifier. Keep the humidity inside your house between 30 and 50 percent. This will prevent the drying out of mucous membranes in the nose. The cilia, or fine hairs in the nose, help catch and prevent harmful bacteria from entering the body through the nose. When the cilia dry out, germs can enter much more easily.
Smart tips for healthy eating
Food can make you healthier – if you make good choices. It can seem hard to make healthy food choices, particularly if you are on a budget and short on time. But there are some simple steps you can take to help you and your family eat healthier.
Build a healthier plate
Use a grocery list when shopping for food to help you choose more fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Buy leaner meats (such as chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of pork or beef such as sirloin or chuck roast) and lower fat dairy products like low-fat or non-fat (skim) milk and yogurt. Buy whole grain breads and cereals. Save money by buying less soda, sweets and chips or other snack foods. Remember that special “dietetic” or “diabetic” foods often cost extra money and may not be much healthier than simply following the suggestions given here.
Also, watch the size of your portions. You may find that you are used to eating portions that count as two or more servings. It helps to be able to “eyeball” portion sizes. Here are some guides:
Meat, fish, and poultry: 3 ounces, or about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards.
Cheese: 1 ounce, or about the size of your thumb.
Fresh vegetables, milk and yogurt: 1 cup, or about the size of a tennis ball.
Bread: one slice.
Easy ways to make smart food choices
There are lots of ways you can make smart choices about your own and your family’s eating habits. According to Ann Albright, PhD, RD, president, Health Care and Education of the American Diabetes Association, “One of the most important things you can do to start eating more healthfully is to pick one or two not-so great items you eat frequently and find a more nutritious substitution for those. If you start with foods you eat more frequently, then the change will pack a bigger punch.”
Set aside some time to plan your weekly meals. It may seem like a hassle at first, but having a plan (and writing your grocery list with it in mind) can save you time, stress, and a lot of extra trips to the store.
Stock your pantry with plenty of healthy basics, including brown rice, whole grain pasta, crackers and cereals. Remember that fresh fruits and vegetables are usually healthier than canned or frozen, but it is better to have canned or frozen fruits or vegetables than none at all! When you run out, put the items on your grocery list so you’ll always have them on hand.
Shop only from your grocery list. Avoid aisles that contain foods high in calories but low in vitamins and minerals such as candy, cookies, chips and sodas. Also avoid buying items promoted at the front of the store, on the “end-cap” displays at the end of each aisle, or at the cash register. These foods are usually low in nutrition. Never shop when you are hungry and might be tempted by less healthy food.
Keep fruits and vegetables washed and cut up for easy snacking and steaming.
Canned and frozen vegetables and fruits are healthful, quick and convenient. To cut down on the sodium in vegetables, drain and rinse canned vegetables with water before heating them. You can do the same to cut down on the added sugar in canned fruits. Better yet, buy them packed in juice.
Learn how to “Create Your Plate.” When serving a meal, draw an imaginary line down the middle of your plate and another one across. Fill half of your plate with leafy greens and other vegetables. Fill one quarter with grains, like whole grain bread or pasta or brown rice. Then fill the last quarter with lean protein such as chicken or fish.
Start meals with a salad or a broth or tomato-based soup with lots of vegetables. This helps you eat more good-for-you veggies while filling you up before you get to the higher fat and calorie courses.
Make healthy snack foods easy to find in your kitchen. For example, when you get home from work or school, put some fresh carrots, grapes, or pretzels out on the counter instead of having bags of chips out.
In restaurants, ask if meats can be grilled rather than fried, and request sauces and dressings on the side. Remember to choose fruit, salad, or other vegetables as side items, rather than French fries. Order a salad or soup to start and then share an entre. Save money, and lots of calories, by skipping dessert.
Learn more about healthy eating and how it can help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Visit CheckUpAmerica.org or contact the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or AskADA@diabetes.org.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Take time to stop and detox
By Alissa Lubanski
Our bodies are practically waging a war against the toxins we ingest and are exposed to everyday. These toxins are eliminated in a number of ways, such as through the blood, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph and skin. However, when our natural system of detoxification is not running smoothly, toxins can build up, which opens up the possibility for sickness and disease.
If you have the following symptoms, you might benefit from a detox:
Craving junk food
Depressed or anxious
Brittle hair and nails
White film on tongue
Reduced sex drive
“The average American can benefit from a gentle detoxification program that includes reducing exposure to toxins, regulation of the diet, and support of the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and skin in their detoxification and elimination functions,” said Dr. Ann Cary Tobin, integrative medicine physician with Partners in Healing in Delmar.
With Tobin’s advice in mind, we created a list of relatively simple detoxifying strategies. If you incorporate some of them into your daily regimen, you can start to clean out the unwanted debris, feel better and live healthier.
Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars and unhealthy fats (at least for however many days you intend to detox).
Avoid harsh chemicals, dyes, and fragrances found within many household cleaners and personal care products, and switch to all-natural products.
The skin can eliminate 10 percent of all waste from the body. Use a skin brush (you can find these brushes at health food stores). Brushing the skin stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system, helping to drain toxins. A warm bath with Epsom salts, apple cider vinegar and a few drops of Rosemary essential oil can also help pull toxins out through the skin. Of course, you can sweat out toxins by exercising or heating up in a sauna.
Jumping on a rebounder, or mini-trampoline, is one of the best exercises for toning your body and getting your lymph fluids flowing, which helps drain the toxins out of your body.
Cilantro’s purifying powers help to pull heavy metals such as aluminum and mercury from your body. Pair with garlic or chlorella, which helps to further carry out the aluminum and mercury that the cilantro has extracted from your body’s tissues.
Increase fiber intake to clean out and remove toxins via your intestinal tract. Eat brown rice and organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables; for added fiber try psylium husk capsules or powders.
It is important to stay hydrated, so drink sufficient quantities of clean, filtered water. The water will help flush out toxins through your kidneys and urine.
Cold shower therapy
After your hot shower, follow with a blast of cold water for 30 seconds, or as long as you can stand it. This helps to cleanse the circulatory and lymph systems, and strengthens the nervous system and mucous membranes, all of which aid in the elimination of toxins.
Good old-fashioned fast
Try going from lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner, without eating and only drinking water. When you fast, you rest your organs and digestive system, so instead of processing all of the food you eat, your body can tend to other matters, helping to improve your overall system with the elimination of toxins.
Drinking only fresh fruit juices and healthy organic vegetable soups for a weekend will help your body loosen up toxins and flush them out.
Other foods and herbs that help detox: pumpkin seeds, lemon, dandelion, milk thistle, mullein, goldenseal, burdock, fennel, sage, chamomile, and peppermint.
Cleansing supplement packages generally contain fiber, herbs, vitamins and minerals. There are many packages to choose from at your local health food store.
Possible detox side effects
It’s not uncommon to have some side effects when detoxing, especially if you have a heavy load of toxins. Symptoms may include:
Excessive sweat and body odor
Feeling unusual emotions
Disclaimer: Do not detox when pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating or if you have any other medical problems being treated by a doctor. Always check with your doctor first before beginning a detox program.
How do celebrities look so good?
This is the time of year when many of us take inventory of ourselves and in doing so decide to jump on the pulsating energy of a “new year” with the most notable goal being to improve our physiques!
So, we look to our role models, which often times turns out to be those beautiful people who grace the covers of the magazines that stare us in the face while we are in the check-out at the grocery store (perhaps we should re-think the inventory on the cashier’s belt?)
What do these miraculously chiseled men and gloriously thin women do that result in these amazingly thin and lean bodies? Some behaviors are worthy of role modeling in our own lives and some are definitely risky and should be avoided.
This celebrity has established herself as a fitness role model in 2008 as she graced the covers Self and Fitness. She has arms that are being compared to Madonna (known for her vigorous workouts and yoga practice!) and has lost significant weight on a frame that once ballooned up to 170 pounds during pregnancies.
What did she do to go from over-weight pregnant to chiseled super lean? Ripa has been a runner for many years and has returned to her 3-4 times a week 3-5 mile runs. But, she attributes her more recent weight loss and body fat reduction to her new obsession: Physique 57.
Physique 57 is a workout studio in Manhattan with a specific technique that is designed to facilitate increased cardiovascular capacity, superior muscle tone and turbo charged flexibility all in one class! The technique originated out of the work of Lotte Berk, a world-famous ballerina, and is being perpetuated with some refinements by Tanya Becker, owner of Physique 57, who was extensively trained in the Lotte Berk method.
The Physique 57 website describes the technique as “a vigorous and dynamic exercise method designed to rapidly transform your body” and Ripa is a walking testimonial!
Jennifer Lopez is arguably the most notable female celebrity who has always been recognized for her extreme attractiveness in the absence of excessive thinness. She is a role model for women – she has a successful singing and acting career, a successful marriage, is the mother of twins and in 2008 successfully completed the Malibu Sprint Triathlon! (This after giving birth six months prior!)
Jennifer trained in swimming, cycling and running in order to compete in the California triathlon that attracts pro-triathletes and Hollywood stars alike.
Her trainer, Gunnar Peterson, said not only did Lopez work out, but she also followed a sensible eating plan designed to maintain energy throughout the day and for her workouts. Unlike some regimes where celebrities are going without eating for relatively long periods through the day, Jennifer ate her first meal within 30 minutes of waking up in order to block the body from thinking it is starving and thereby hording its body fat. A typical breakfast was a cup of oatmeal with some sliced fruit and several scrambled egg whites.
Eating at regular intervals (every 3-5 hours) has been linked to successful weight loss and weight management. It causes a jump start in your metabolism every time you eat and it stops you from getting so hungry by the end of the day that you eat like an animal!
You would have to be living under a rock to not know that Beyonce dropped over 20 pounds in order to play the Diana Ross character accurately in the movie “Dream Girls” in 2006. She had to be heavier in her (Diana Ross’s) younger years and leaner in her middle years in the movie and so she had to lose weight, and lose it fast, during the shooting of the movie.
Beyonce regularly works out with a trainer, but in order to drop the weight quickly, she decided to use the Master Cleanse. This regime involves taking in nothing except a liquid drink consisting of maple syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper. It is touted as a purifier and cleanser. Beyonce is reported to have stated that she felt like she was going to die while on the program and that she was driven to eat fatty foods upon completion which lead to a regain of all the weight she lost.
There are several products currently being promoted in the Capital Region claiming similar benefits to the Master Cleanse. These are Isagenix and Metafast. In my opinion, the major flaw to these regimes is that they teach how not to eat and do not promote experiential learning and practicing of how to be with food on an ongoing daily basis. For these reasons, many people who try these and other fasting regimes, have a similar experience to Beyonce. The weight loss does not last.
To Beyonce’s credit, by continuing her workouts with her trainer and changing her eating habits incrementally over time, her body is more buff than at any other time of her life, including the time she did the Master Cleanse!
With his beach boy good looks and lean, chiseled physique, Matthew McConaughey is the epitome of men’s fitness. He added another fitness accomplishment to his resume this year by competing in his first triathlon in Malibu.
McConaughey’s fitness philosophy is to do something to break a sweat every single day. Not one to be what he terms as a “fitness fanatic” his approach to working out is less structured and more consistent. He doesn’t like to do workouts that involve sets of pre-determined intervals or reps and sets. Instead, McConaughey likes to bring an element of play to all his workouts, going by how he feels and making it fun more than having to complete a dictated format.
In the weight room, he likes to keep his workouts varied by throwing in variations in the middle of his workout program. For instance, he will perform a random set of 200 push ups when the spirit moves him!
But he never misses a day and has been seen doing everything from running with a weighted vest to biking next to his buddy Lance Armstrong to surfing with his girlfriend to caving with buddies to getting in a superset weight workout in the gym.
He takes as similar approach to his eating. He generally eats a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, but has said if he goes to a party and they have beer and wings he isn’t going to say “I can’t eat that!”
If McConaughey stays as active as he currently is he can maintain his physique while indulging, but portion awareness will have to come into play as he ages if he wants to stay as lean as he is now.
Bottom line: celebrities use a mixture of healthy and not-so-healthy tactics to look as good as they do. Try to take the healthy behaviors and integrate them into your daily regime of self-care and fitness and leave the others back with the now finished year of 2008.
Judy Torel is a USAT coach, personal trainer, nutrition consultant and psychotherapist. She conducts online services through her website www.judytorel.com. Her office is located in Planet Fitness, Loudonville. She is also a competing triathlete who is currently training for Ironman, Florida.