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December 20th, 2010 - Staff

Get Healthy is proud to introduce a redesign of its website. We’ve packed it full of all the great content you’re used to, plus the site will be the new home for engaging news stories about health care in Northwest Indiana.

Please bookmark our new URL here.

With access to the leading health experts right here in the region, Get Healthy offers readers a local perspective on what’s best for your health, including nutrition, fitness, mental health and environmental health. Along with the magazine, email newsletter and Facebook page, Get Healthy offers an array of valuable content that is both relevant and proactive.

The easy-to-navigate Get Healthy site will have even more beneficial content in the near future—including blogs and expert columns—so stay tuned. We’re here for you 24/7, so check it out, and let us hear from you!

Women and Chocolate

October 21st, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller

Chocolate

Why do women love chocolate so much? In addition to the fact that it’s just so fabulous tasting, medical research has shown that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains the mild mood elevator phenylethylamine (PEA).

“That’s the one that’s released in your brain when you fall in love,” says Tina Buck, owner of the Chocolate Garden in Coloma, Michigan. “And chocolate is loaded with this. New studies come out all the time about properties of chocolate, not only for emotional health but physical as well. One study [conducted at the University of Helsinki, Finland, in 2004] showed that pregnant women who ate chocolate every day had happy babies that smiled and laughed more.”

Another study in Sweden showed that middle-aged and elderly women who regularly ate a small amount of chocolate (one to two servings per week) had lower risks of heart failure.

It’s important to note that the higher density dark chocolate is the better choice, because it’s not as sugary nor is it as calorie-dense as the milk chocolate.

Eat More Greens, Lose More Weight

September 3rd, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller

Can you really lose weight just by eating more vegetables? Studies, including one released last year from Johns Hopkins, show that eating less meat will help you lose weight and fend off diseases and cancers. Vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They promote longevity, and will keep down the weight. On average, vegetarians weigh 15 percent less than meat eaters. Registered and licensed dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet—The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life [McGraw-Hill Professional] says that this approach to eating is ecologically friendly, since eating a vegetarian diet is better for the environment than the typical meat-heavy American diet.

Kale—The New Super-Veggie

September 1st, 2010 - By Bonnie McGrath

Why is everyone talking about kale?

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods (whfoods.com), “The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.”

Most of us are familiar with kale because its deep purple leaves make nice border plants, especially in the fall. But when it comes to eating it, we are more likely to ingest kale’s relatives—brussel sprouts, cabbage, even collard greens.

Filed under: Nutrition. Tags: , , .

Pole Fitness—A New Exercise Trend Sheds its Prior Reputation

August 26th, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller

People are always looking for new and innovative ways to get in shape and stay healthy. One trend that has begun to appeal to women of all ages is pole dancing. Pole dancing studios are popping up all over, catering to women of all walks of life who want to learn the art of seduction while still getting a great workout.

“Pole dancing is certainly associated with strippers,” says Karen Price, instructor at Studio Venus, a women-only pole aerobic center located in the Midwest Fitness Center in Dyer. “People are a little wary about what that means, but it certainly grabs the attention! I was actually drawn to the bad/good aspects of pole dancing. I was an aerobic instructor for many years, but now I have emphysema and it’s difficult for me to get through an aerobic class. I found pole fitness to be exactly what I needed. It was slow enough but yet still intense. I like to say it is the workout for every part of every woman.”

Biggest Winner

June 25th, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller

Losing weight is certainly a challenging feat on your own, but that challenge can be easier and even lots of fun when you join forces. That’s the idea behind “The Biggest Winner” challenge organized by Fit City Valparaiso. Now in its fourth year, more than 170 people participated in teams of two, three or four members. The program began January 12 and concluded May 11. Teams came up with their own strategies of weight loss and attended monthly weigh-ins and educational classes by Porter Hospital. Participants also were given health and wellness tips through a weekly email.

Michelle Guth (34) and Dee Kowalski (53), a mother/daughter team called Sassy by Summer, were the big winners with a 78.9-point average for their team. The second-place team was Nutrition Mission with 59.5 points, and third place went to VAC Winners with 46.3 points. “Points were allocated at the end of the competition comparing the first measurement of weight and body fat to the final assessment,” says Megan Owen, recreation coordinator at the Valparaiso Parks Department. “One point for each pound lost and ten points for each percent of body fat lost. We gave more points to the body fat because you must make a lifestyle change with nutrition and exercise to lower [body fat]. A person can lower the weight by crash dieting and we wanted to deter the participants from that method.”

The Athlete’s Way

June 17th, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller

If the thought of walking a treadmill or attending a fitness class leaves you cold, consider taking up a sport.

Sports such as racquetball, golf, basketball and softball can offer a more laid-back approach to exercise. You can combine it with your social life by getting your friends together for a game or a round of golf. Or create team building at work by starting an after-work sports league. “Sometimes it’s easier for friends to get together for sports than running,” says Ryan Penrod, senior program director of the sports and aquatic programs for the YMCA in Portage.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Friend or Foe?

April 23rd, 2010 - By Sharon Biggs Waller

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has been the subject of conversation lately, with many people believing it leads to obesity. HFCS is a mixture of glucose and an increased amount of fructose, hence the name “high fructose.” In contrast, table sugar can be broken down into equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Because it’s inexpensive and readily available, HFCS is added to 40 percent of all processed, canned or baked foods in place of table sugar. In addition to taking the role of sweetener, HFCS helps extend shelf life and provides a softer texture.

Some studies have shown that fructose increases ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger and appetite. Because of this, foods high in fructose may encourage overeating. The World Health Organization says that HFCS should only make up 10 percent of the total amount of sugar consumed daily. “The recommended daily limit of sugar is ten teaspoons [or 40 grams],” says Vanessa Provins, RDCD, of Porter Health System in Valparaiso. “And that’s what’s in one can of soda.”

Is the Alkalinizing Diet Legitimate?

February 26th, 2010 - By Terri Gordon

There’s a new diet in town, and its fans claim it does everything from weight loss to curing cancer to holding back the aging process.

Sorting the facts from the fiction is not easy. The diet embraces vegetables and eschews meat. It also limits the kinds of fruits and grains a person can eat—and not everybody’s list is exactly the same.

The basis for the diet is pH, the measure of alkalinity or acidity. When the body converts food to energy, it leaves behind either an alkaline or acidic residue. Proponents of the alkalinizing diet (also referred to as an alkaline ash diet) believe avoiding foods that produce an acid ash promotes a more alkaline environment, and one that is less hospitable to disease.

Form Follows Function

February 19th, 2010 - By Tyler Lennox Bush

It’s early on a Sunday morning in Manhattan. 32 degrees F. Celebrity trainer Xander Phoenix has just woken from a winter’s slumber. He straps on the iPod, shuffles to the beat of a driving techno track, spikes his hair to perfection, and bounces like Tigger from the apartment building he calls home. It’s approximately a quarter-mile run to Central Park, where he will lead a group of overachieving urbanites through a series of monkey bar pulls, bear crawls, kettlebell swings and plyometric drills.

“I like to refer to it as ‘the past and future of training,’” Phoenix says. “Yoga, tai chi, kettlebells are a return to basic human movements. The current trend in the fitness industry is moving toward functional-based exercises: the kind that trains balance with strength, coordination with core development.

“It is what is referred to often as the mind-body connection,” Phoenix adds. “With the addition of such physical awareness, exercises can go beyond the close chain [machines] and single plane [bench press] to incorporate movements we use every day, like picking up a laundry basket or shoveling the driveway.”

The Ultimate Fitness Test

December 25th, 2009 - By Seth “Tower” Hurd

I’m gasping for air into a fighter pilot mask at a dead sprint on a treadmill. I’m given a few minutes to recover before pulling myself under water and expelling every last ounce of oxygen in my lungs. This isn’t some sort of training regime for the Navy Seals, it’s a controversial experiment in fat loss to learn what the numbers on a scale will never reveal.

The idea to pursue this test was born out of frustration. After completing the Ironman race, I was still left with some fat around my middle. I was ready to give up, until a chance meeting with Chad Leader of the Crown Point-based Ultimate Test Lab (ultimatetestlab.com) gave me hopes of a midsection worthy of an underwear ad.

As we went over the numbers from Leader’s three tests—resting metabolic rate, VO2 Max, and hydrostatic weighing, it was the first time I considered that my “clingy” fat wasn’t a metabolism problem, as mine measured in the “very high” category for a mid-twenties male.

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