Health and Fitness - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Special Reports

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Health and Fitness

A collection of columns from fitness and nutrition experts Shannon Sorrels, Paula Owens and Michael Murphy.


Change can be difficult so hang in there

For anyone out there trying to make a change and feeling frustrated this one's for you.
  • Holidays happen so choose for yourself

    The holidays are upon us. Here come truckloads of cookies, pies, cupcakes, casseroles, cocktails, fudge and ginger bread houses (you know you want to snap some of that roof off). For the weight-conscious, the next six to eight weeks can be rife with anxiety, guilt and self-flagellation. So, I'm here to help!
  • Don’t ‘accept’ anything less than good health

    Most everyone, religious or not, is familiar with the Serenity Prayer:
  • Are you changing or are you denying?

    I've witnessed a pattern - and for some it's a dangerous game. Break your routine (vacation, business trip, etc.) and suddenly it's OK to eat a large deep-dish meat lover's pizza with a bottle of wine, order the chocolate cheesecake and call it quits on exercise. For most people, this equates to a couple of unwanted pounds. For others, it knocks them hard down a slippery slope.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

    Since the dawn of time (or at least the beginning of having enough food to get fat) we've wanted a quick way to lose weight. Desperate for something easy, we'll even suppress our usual skepticism.
  • Warning: Change your habits now

    It's a fact - 66 percent of us are overweight or obese. Chances are that means you. Don't trivialize it by convincing yourself that you really didn't need a swimsuit anyway. Just think of everything you've got to look forward to: Insulin injections (that means syringes), blood pressure and cholesterol meds, joint pain, reduced mobility (leading to more weight gain), scooter chairs, dependence on others and, for some, an early death. Read that again.
  • Don’t give up: You have to spend energy to get energy

    Many sedentary people embarking upon a fitness journey encounter what I like to call "The Deconditioned Paradox." This riddle dawned on me one day as I struggled to motivate a client to keep going one more minute. He had been begging to quit for 10 minutes. He'd only been going for 15.
  • Interval training: It’s your new best friend

    I see you out there taking your long strolls around the neighborhood, walking with your best friends, having lengthy conversations while the dog sniffs nearby bushes. After about 30 to 45 minutes, you all part ways and head home. You feel good. You “exercised” and secretly hope to see the scale move tomorrow. You scan your daily to-do list and enjoy a sense of satisfaction as you check off “exercise.” Now, time to decide on which restaurant for dinner as you snack on some chips.
  • The weight-loss battle: It’s your choice

    For everyone out there struggling to lose weight, complaining how hard it is, and raging against the wind at the injustice of it all - I agree with you. That’s right. I agree.
  • Take the long view to weight loss, fitness

    In a society of instant gratification and quick fixes, many of us get unbelievably frustrated during our health and fitness journey. Our expectations are that once we've made the decision to "get in shape," the changes should start showing up now.
  • Holiday health tips

    The holiday season is upon us. Your schedule is filled with shopping, work deadlines, holiday parties, relatives and obligations. Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to avoid holiday weight gain and stay healthy, happy and fit.
  • Prevent the flu; boost your immune system naturally

    Instead of putting your health at great risk by getting a flu shot, a healthier option is to prevent the flu naturally by limiting immune suppressors.
  • Winning formulas to manage stress

    Stress and anxiety - we all experience it and know how unhealthy it can be to our lives. While short bursts of stress are actually good for you, it's the continual, long-term stress that is damaging.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness: A holistic approach part two

    Editor's note: This is the conclusion of a two-part series of submitted columns on holistic approaches to breast cancer and lower estrogen dominance. All views are those of the author. The first column appeared in the Oct. 15 AFN.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness: A holistic approach

    Editor's note: This is part one of a two-part series of submitted columns on holistic approaches to breast cancer and lower estrogen dominance. All views are those of the author.
  • Winning formulas to prepare for a marathon

    Marathon training season has kicked into high gear. Injuries often come when training for a marathon due to the volume of training. The most common injuries in marathon runners are shin splints, stress fractures, muscle strains, patellofemoral pain syndrome, which causes pain under and around the knee and ITB Syndrome (iliotibial band), which causes to pain on the outside of the knee and hip.
  • Are your symptoms related to your food?

    At least 80 percent of my female clients complain of lower abdominal bloating, and 70 to 80 percent of my male clientele gripe of indigestion or chronic sinus issues.
  • What is holistic health?

    People of all ages are concerned about their health – how they feel, how they look, disease prevention, as well as quality of life. Unfortunately, the majority of society has been brainwashed to believe in the concept of eating less fat, excessive exercise, Botox injections or pharmaceutical drugs as the answer to attain health, vitality, longevity and fat loss.
  • What’s the deal with nuts?

    Every time I recommend eating more nuts, the typical response is: "Won't they make me fat?" The fact that nuts are perceived this way is troubling because any food can cause weight gain if too much is eaten and nuts are easy to overeat. While it is true that nuts are high in fat and calories, if eaten in moderation, nuts can contribute significantly to a healthy diet. This is because nuts contain mostly unsaturated fats. These fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) can help control cholesterol and aid in the prevention of heart disease. That is why they are called "good" fats and saturated/trans fats found in baked goods, ice cream, fried foods and some animal proteins are called "bad" fats. Nuts offer one of the best sources of plant proteins and are high in fiber. Nuts are also high in Vitamin E (an antioxidant) and selenium.
  • Is eating healthy really that hard to understand?

    As a dietitian, I appreciate the level of knowledge required to understand the intricacies of food composition in all facets of life, not just in weight loss. What I really do not need to explain to one of my adult clients is the blueprint for what you should base a healthy diet on. Do you know of any adults that could not identify that a double cheeseburger is much less healthy for them than a grilled piece of fish and steamed vegetables? Of course not. Our obesity epidemic has prompted more nutrition information to the public than ever before, and it isn't working as we are getting heavier each year.
  • Are you eating enough fiber?

    You may have noticed over the past few years that a popular cereal brand was taking over almost every corner of your grocery store. Yes, Fiber One is not just for breakfast anymore. You can have your Fiber One yogurt with lunch, Fiber One cottage cheese for a snack, and a Fiber One blueberry muffin with dinner. General Mills, the maker of Fiber One products, seems intent on adding fiber to almost everything we eat. The amount of fiber in one serving of these products is sometimes more than many of us eat in a whole day! Are our diets so devoid of fiber that a company can profit from adding it to dairy products of all things? It sure looks that way.
  • How many daily food decisions do you make?

    Researchers at Cornell University determined that we make more than 200 food-related decisions per day. How many times can you choose to go the healthier route when faced with these many decisions? Let's say a co-worker brings in a box of doughnuts to the office. You think to yourself, "I'm going to reject those doughnuts and walk away." Great, a victory for you. Ten minutes later, you discover there are still a few remaining and you again make the decision to deny yourself the benefit of tasting one of the greatest sweet treats man has ever produced. Two hours later, there is one left and before you can blink, it's resting comfortably in your stomach. It is amazing we get anything accomplished with all this brain power dedicated to food decisions. Because of the many times we think about food each day, the key to success is keeping your environment healthy enough to allow yourself to make easier decisions.
  • Load your plate with food to lose weight

    Have you ever eaten a cup of soup prior to your meal only to find that you couldn't eat very much of that meal? Obviously the soup had a hand in filling you up before the main course came. The principle behind this is called caloric density and it may be the key to your weight loss.
  • Looking for a healthy dish around Ahwatukee?

    Hopefully, when making the decision to eat out, most of us at least try to think we are going to order a "healthier" dish at our restaurant of choice. The problem is, once we actually get to the restaurant and find ourselves salivating over the highest calorie menu item; an irrational decision may take over. The good news is that many of Ahwatukee Foothills' restaurants have lots of healthier, great tasting items on their menus that you can plan to order before you even walk in the door.
  • Don’t fall victim to grocery store tactics

    For most of us, grocery shopping is a mindless activity. This is exactly how the grocers like it. The less actual thought you put into buying food, the more you can be manipulated into spending more money. Supermarkets and food manufacturers will do everything within their power to make your wallet lighter. Anything from using creative labeling to make you think you are buying a "healthy" food, to the placement of milk the furthest from the entrance of the store to make you pass all those foods you had no intention of buying.
  • Full-service restaurants avoid criticism given to fast food

    By now, we all know that fast food is bad for us. We have books, movies and news reports telling us this almost every day. Most fast food is loaded with calories, saturated fats, sodium and just about anything else our bodies could use less of. Why do some chain restaurants avoid the negative press even though many of their meals are just as high in calories, fat, and sodium?
  • Try essential fats for a healthy heart

    What if I told you that you may not be consuming enough of a nutrient that may decrease your chances of cardiovascular disease by 50 percent, improves memory and lessens your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease? You may wonder if it is too good to be true. In this case, it isn't. The nutrient is omega-3 fatty acid (or fish oil) and most of us do not consume enough of these each day.
  • 12 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? Impossible, you say?

    It is universally known that fruits and vegetables are good for our health and should be eaten every day. In fact, "5-a-Day for Better Health" encourages consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Unfortunately, most Americans don't even get this much. Have you ever attempted to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in one day? What would this look like? Think of a serving as the amount that can fit in the palm of your hand and note this example day of eating:


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