PFTL News November 2017


Take Walk in Nature

Walking in the woods is healthier than walking in an urban area.  Scientists at Stanford University asked people to walk 90 minutes in either a woodsy area or an urban one. Those who strolled in nature had less activity in an area of the brain linked to depression. That supports earlier studies that showed that people who live in cities tend to have more mental health issues, like anxiety and mood disorders, than people who live in the country.

Joints Need Lubrication

Got achy, creaky knees or hips? You have good reason to get walking then. For starters, your joint fluid moves around when you do, and that gets oxygen and nutrients to your joints and cartilage and helps prevent friction. It also strengthens your leg and core muscles. When your muscles do more of the work, your joints hurt less. A regular walk may also help you slim down, and a thinner body means less pressure on your joints.

Walking for Chronic Low Back Pain

Most doctors recommend physical therapy for people who have chronic lower back pain. While that can help, walking can be just as effective. And it’s free and a great stress reliever — and you can do it anytime without a referral from your doctor


Do you start to feel rundown or a bit groggy by the middle of the afternoon?  You think, let me get that shot of caffeine or an energy drink and I will be on my way to recovery.  But experts say that is not correct.  The University of Georgia found, by studying sleep-deprived students, that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs is more likely to reenergize you than one of those drinks.  They found there was not much change in how the students felt from ingesting the drink, but they did feel more energetic after a little exercise.  So, put down that drink, get off your butt and walk a little.  You will feel better, so say the experts.



Protein is essential for your health for many reasons: People who are trying to lose weight usually follow a low-carb, high-protein diet. Protein helps keep you feeling full and satisfied after a meal and provides the fuel for your workouts. But have you ever wondered whether you can eat too much protein?

The answer to that isn’t quite so cut-and-dried: The amount of protein that’s right for you depends on many factors, such as age, sex, weight, activity level and health goals.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 46 grams of protein per day for the average adult woman and 56 grams per day for the average adult male. Athletes, seniors, people recovering from injuries or illness and pregnant or lactating women need about 25 percent more protein. But most Americans eat about 100 grams of protein per day.

Signs That You’re Eating Too Much Protein:

  1. You’re Gaining Weight

If you increase your protein intake without decreasing other foods in your diet, you’ll have an excess of protein and calories. And if you have a sedentary lifestyle and eat excess protein — or excess anything — you will gain weight.

  1. You’re Dehydrated

Excess protein is filtered out of your body by your kidneys. A by-product of protein metabolism is nitrogen. The kidneys use water to flush out the nitrogen, which creates a dehydrating effect. When you decrease carbs, your body retains less fluid as well.

  1. You’re Having Digestive Issues

Have nausea, indigestion, diverticulitis or constipation? When you increase meat, fish, chicken, cheese and other dairy on a high-protein diet and don’t eat enough fiber, the kidneys use excess water to rid your body of nitrogen and you can develop constipation. Too much protein also puts a strain on your digestive enzymes, which can lead to digestive issues.

  1. You’ve Got Bad Breath and Headaches

In a diet low in carbs with increased protein and fat, your body may go into a state of ketosis. In ketosis your body is burning fat for fuel instead of carbs. Bad breath and headaches are a side effect of ketosis. The biggest potential problem with following a high-protein diet is that you may not be getting enough fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all of which are found in grains, vegetables and fruits.

So what can you do? Switch some of your protein sources to plant-based proteins, which will then provide you with these other needed nutrients.

Keep in mind that all plant-based sources of protein don’t have all of the essential amino acids your body needs like animal proteins do. But if you eat a variety of whole foods throughout the day, you’ll likely get all the amino acids that you need.

As always, moderation is key: For a healthy, balanced diet, eat a combination of plant and animal sources of protein and a good amount of vegetables with some whole grains and low-glycemic fruits.


DM Note: November is the month to formulate your winter exercise plan, prepare for the holidays and smile whenever you can.  Enjoy the month and have a good Thanksgiving holiday.

PFTL News October 2017

HEALTHY BRAIN FOOD (from ACE Health eTips, 9/21/17)

The brain is a remarkable organ. It is responsible for your ability to think, problem solve, process emotions, make memories, your five senses (sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing) and physical movement. With so many things to do, your brain requires a lot of energy. Proper nourishment will keep your brain happy now and prevent diseases typically associated with aging.

The basic working unit of the brain is the neuron. It is a specialized cell that transmits information to other nerve cells, muscles or glands via chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in your brain that rely on a steady stream of energy to function. The right foods will take care of your brain and keep it functioning properly. Conversely, the wrong foods will not nourish your brain and can speed up age-related brain diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive decline and impaired memory.

The good news is that we are seeing more and more studies that highlight which foods are best for a healthy brain.

THE MIND DIET – This diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, both of which are revered for their ability to lower blood pressure, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and decrease risk of diabetes. Participants who adhered to the diet lowered the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53%. It is thought that the diet works by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can be quite detrimental to the brain. This diet is full of antioxidant-rich berries and vegetables, lean proteins, wild-caught fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil, all of which decrease inflammation. The more you can control inflammation, the healthier your brain will be.

VITAMIN D – Known as the “sunshine” vitamin, vitamin D has long been known for its role in the development of strong bones. More recent findings have linked vitamin D deficiency to non-skeletal conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, cognitive impairment and dementia. The best source of vitamin D is the sun (UVB rays), but most people are cautious about sun exposure and increasing their risk of skin cancer. Plus, wearing sunscreen blocks the absorption of the rays that allow for the vitamin D to enter the body. There are limited foods that are rich in vitamin D, so supplementing with Vitamin D3 is often recommended. Consider getting your blood vitamin D levels checked to determine how much vitamin D you will need to supplement. According to the Vitamin D Council, your recommended intake could range from 1,000-5,000 IUs.

PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS – Good health begins in the gut. The bacteria that live in your gut number in the trillions and it is both the diversity and the ratio of good bugs to bad bugs that impact the health of your body, including your brain. We know that the gut bacteria directly communicate with your brain, influencing the production and function of neurotransmitters. Probiotics—the good bugs—can be found in fermented foods, such as kimchi, miso, kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut. Prebiotics—the indigestible fibers found in plant foods—keep the probiotics alive and kicking. Onions, garlic, asparagus, oats, jicama and Jerusalem artichokes are some of the richest source of prebiotics. Including these foods in most of your meals will help cultivate a diverse and robust gut microbiome.

OMEGA-3 FATS – Approximately 8% of your brain is made up of omega-3 fats, which serve as the building blocks for your neurons. The two most important omega-3s—DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)—play a role in brain development and function, protecting it from oxidative damage and inflammation. Omega-3-rich foods include wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, wild Pacific halibut and algae. Plant-based omega-3 fat comes in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which can be converted to EPA and DHA, but is done so poorly. That’s not to say that these foods (ground flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts) aren’t helpful; they are important for their fiber and other inflammation-lowering properties.

TURMERIC – Turmeric is a root widely used in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking, usually as part of a curry recipe. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that can decrease inflammation and increase brain-derived neurotropic factor (BNF), which amplifies growth of new brain cells, enhances memory and increases the size of the memory center (hippocampus) of the brain. Best absorption of curcumin takes place when turmeric is combined with black pepper in a recipe.

THE FOODS TO AVOID The list of foods that promote inflammation, hasten cognitive decline and increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease should come as no surprise. While it is almost impossible to totally avoid these foods, it is best to try to avoid them when can.  Being mindful of food choices can go a long way to maintaining a healthy brain.


PFTL News July 2017


Offered to our clients and the public – We meet Mondays and Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30pm, at the Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park, Wilmette.  Includes warm-up, stretching, intervals, stair climbing, core strengthening and a great way to get some extra exercise.  Contact for information.


Did you know that mammograms miss 20%-60% of tumors?  Dense breast tissue (present in 40% of women) limits the accuracy of mammograms. Additionally, limited training of technicians, HRT, breast implants and rapidly growing tumors are all good reasons for women to do monthly exams themselves.

We have acquired two breast palpitation models from . Their mission is to teach women how to check their breasts for possible abnormalities These breast models come with simulated tumors and complete instructions to take home and learn what tumors feel like.

There is no charge for the models; you may sign them out and bring them back for others to use.  Although not necessary, if you find the models helpful, you can visit to donate to this initiative.  Contact Julie to borrow a model to take home.

WHERE CALORIE COUNTING GOES WRONG (excerpted from IDEA Food & Nutrition May 2017)

While calories do count, it has become clear that counting them won’t help most people over the long term. However, we should still want to be aware of how much we eat each day.

Counting calories, however, can be tedious  frustrating and inaccurate.  When eating becomes overcomplicated, people are more likely to give up and fall back on old habits. That’s simply human nature.  And research has repeatedly shown that being able to stick with a dietary approach is the ONLY factor strongly associated with weight loss, regardless of dietary ideology or approach used.

Don’t Count Calories – A Better Way to Control Portions

All you need is the ability to count to 2, and your own hand.  Here how it works:

    • Your palm determines your protein portions.
    • Your fist determines your veggie portions.
    • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
    • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

Hand-based dietary recommendations equal about 2300-3000 kilocalories per day for men and 1500-2100 kcal per day for women.  If they eat an assortment of proteins, veggies, carbs and healthy fats.  A simple and flexible guide for meal planning would look like this.


Daily Totals

6-8 palms of protein

6-8 fists of veggies

6-8 cupped hands of carbs

6-8 entire thumbs of fat


Daily Totals

4-6 palms of  protein

4-6 fists of veggies

4-6 cupped hands of carbs

4-6 entire thumbs of fat


Per Meal

2 palms of protein

2 fists of vegetables

2 cupped hands of carbs

2 entire thumbs of fat

Per Meal

1 palm of protein

1 fist of vegetables

1 cupped hand of carbs

1 entire thumb of fat

How Much Protein Do We Need? – For protein-dense foods like meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, use a palm-sized serving. This means a serving has the same thickness and diameter as your palm. Each palm-sized serving provides approximately 20–30 grams of protein.

How Much Vegtables – For non-starchy colorful vegetables (think broccoli, spinach, salad, carrots, etc.), use a fist-sized serving. Again, a fist-sized portion has the same thickness and diameter as your fist.

How Much Carb? – For carbohydrate-dense foods—like grains, starches or fruits—use a cupped hand to determine your serving size. Each cupped handful provides approximately 20–30 g of carbohydrate.

How Much Fat? – For fat-dense foods like oils, butters, nut butters and nuts/seeds, use your entire thumb to determine your serving size. 
A thumb-sized portion is the thickness and entire length of your thumb, and each serving provides approximately 7–12 g of fat.

Weight loss does not have to be complicated. Most people  can become lean and healthy without following a prescribed meal plan, making themselves miserable in the gym or even counting calories.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Fat loss—like any life change—often requires trying new things, getting out of comfort zones and swapping old habits for new ones. All you need is your hand. And the willingness to try something new.

PFTL NEWS March 2016


There are certain foods that you should try to buy organic as much as possible. These foods are those fruits and vegetables whose conventionally grown “alternatives” have been found to contain high levels of pesticide residues. Every year the Environmental Working Group ( releases an updated report that identified foods in the conventional, non-organic food supply that contained the highest number of pesticide residues. The worst offenders, were nicknamed the “Dirty Dozen Plus.”   Conversely, the fruits and vegetables with the least amount of residue, are known as the “Clean 15.”

The Dirty Dozen– (# 1 is the worst, # 12 is bad, but the least of this list)

The Clean 15 – (#1 is the cleanest, #15 is clean, but less so)

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes
  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet Potatoes


Experts have long known that a diet that works for one person doesn’t necessarily help another person shed a pound. Now a new study finds that even if we all ate the same meal, we’d burn it differently and have different blood sugar levels afterward.

Researchers say the findings will help pave the way for personalized nutrition. One day, soon, we may have diets based on how we respond to foods so that we can keep our blood sugar at healthier levels. High levels are linked with a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and strokes. DNA and genetic testing will become a big factor in customizing diet and exercise plans


Now that the weather is getting nice, you may be tempted to forgo your resistance training and head outdoors for some aerobic exercise in the fresh air.  But beware:  if you give up your resistance training, you will be giving up more than you bargained for.  Why resistance train?

Resistance training is critical for true fitness.  Without it, your muscles will atrophy.  If you aren’t building muscle, you are likely losing it.

And if you are 20 or older, you are definitely losing muscle, unless you are working hard to build it.  Beginning at age 20, we begin naturally losing muscle mass every decade.

The old cliché holds true for muscle mass:  if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Have you ever broken your arm or leg and had to wear a cast for a few weeks?  Remember  what greeted you when the cast was removed?  Your arm or leg was a lot smaller and felt weak.  That is because just a few weeks of disuse caused the muscles to begin atrophying.

Here are some of the benefits of resistance training: 

  • Stops muscle loss and helps begin the rebuilding process.
  • Makes daily activites easier, from carrying groceries to rearraging your furniture.
  • Gives you a sculpted look.
  • Increases bone density, giving you a strong, stable skeleton.
  • Improves balance and coordination.
  • Prevents decay of the pads between your bones, so that you do not hurt when you move.
  • Causes the tendons to grow deeper into your bones, reducing the chance of tearing.
  • Builds muscles which will burn more calories, even while you are resting.
  • Reduces blood pressure by making your heart stronger.
  • Increases your metabolism.
  • Decreases blood sugar, which helps prevent insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes).
  • Improves your aerobic capacity: the stronger your muscles, the better your endurance.
  • Gives you a general feeling of wellness and strength. If you are strong, you feel strong.
  • Makes you a better athlete: there is no substitue for strength!
  • Prevents the weak, frail “skinny-fat” look.
  • Raises your energy level. The more muscle you have, the less effort you have to exert and the more energy you have available.
  • Secures future protection against falls and fractures. If you age with dense bones, strong muscles and good balance, your risk of injury plummets.
  • Creates 22% more afterburn than aerobic exercise does. (Afterburn refers to the fat and calories that your body burns in the hours after you have finished your workout.)

NEXT MONTH, PART TWO OF THIS ARTICLE WILL EXPLAIN:  Why aerobic exercise is not enough AND the “skinny fat” syndrome.

Fitness Words of Wisdom:  Strength doesn’t come from what you can do.  It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.