Health & Fitness – Fiber

By: Janet Hunt
Eating healthy may improve your health and lower your need for prescription drugs. Dietary fiber is a component in plant based foods that is linked to a wide range of improved health outcomes, including lower cholesterol, better blood sugar regulation, improved intestinal health, greater satiety (feeling of fullness), and lower rates of certain types of cancer. Fiber is found naturally in plant foods that should comprise the greater part of a healthy diet.

The typical American diet includes only about half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, primarily due to the amount of processed foods we eat. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 30 grams of fiber per day in your diet; and here are five great fiber sources.

Legumes are a class of vegetables that include beans, peas, and lentils. They are some of the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Because they are a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

Canned beans are affordable and a convenient way to get your legumes. Try subbing pinto beans for meat in your next batch of chili (or add less meat and more beans), add black beans to your burritos or canned beans to your salads, or whip up a batch of lentil soup. If you’re concerned about sodium, rinse the beans under running water first. This will eliminate about 30 percent of the sodium. The fiber in legumes ranges from 5 to 8 grams per half-cup serving.

While fruits and vegetables both contain fiber, fruit generally has more fiber per serving than do vegetables. One cup of berries, for example, contains 4 to 10 grams of fiber (about twice that of an apple). Blackberries and raspberries have 8 grams fiber per cup, while elderberries top the chart with 10 grams per 1-cup serving.

There are many different types of grains that contain bran. Oat bran, for example, contains soluble fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol levels. The bran found in corn, wheat and rice is largely insoluble fiber, which can help fight constipation. High-fiber cereals often include bran in their ingredients. Or if you don’t eat cereal, sprinkle bran on fruit and yogurt or add into casseroles or baked goods. One ounce of wheat bran and oat bran yields 12 grams of fiber, whereas raw corn bran packs 22 grams of fiber per ounce.

Many fruits contain 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving, but pears contain two to three times that much. A large pear has 7 grams of fiber, while a large Asian pear contains 10 grams. Stick with fresh pears because canned pears usually have added sugars and less fiber (because fiber degrades over time and is generally lost during the canning process).

Peas are one of the few members of the legume family that are commonly sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. Black-eyed peas pack 6 grams of fiber per half-cup, and even green-pea powder is popping up with 4 grams fiber and 4 grams protein per 1 ½-tablespoon serving.

To check out the fiber content of some of your favorite foods, visit the USDA Nutrient Database website at For more help with a healthy nutritious diet, talk to a registered dietician or a certified Health Coach.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
Traditional milk producers want us to drink more cow’s milk because sales and consumption are down due to all the plant-based competition who also call their products “milk.”

Because consumers might think “milk” is milk with the same nutritional value, I am sharing the following table from IDEA Fitness Journal, May 2017.

Milk Nutrients per 8 ounces
Cow’s milk 80 – 150 calories
0 – 5 g saturated fat
8g protein
30% calcium
20% vitamin D

Soymilk 100 calories
0.5 g saturated fat
7g protein
29% calcium
25% vitamin D

Almond milk 35 calories
0g saturated fat
1g protein
20% calcium
25% vitamin D

Hemp milk 100 calories
0.5g saturated fat
4g protein
10% calcium (30% if fortified)
25% vitamin D

Oat milk 130 – 150 calories
0g saturated fat
4g protein
0% calcium (30% if fortified)
0% vitamin D

Coconut milk 80 calories
5g saturated fat
1g protein
10+% calcium
30% vitamin D

Rice milk 120 calories
0g saturated fat
1g protein
1% calcium (30% if fortified)
25% vitamin D

One thing to consider if you are drinking or using “milk” for its calcium is that calcium-fortified foods are a good option for those who do not like or cannot tolerate dairy products. But calcium-fortified products are more like supplements than natural sources of calcium. The calcium in fortified foods varies in its bioavailability (how well the body is able to absorb and use it), depending on the form of calcium used and how it is affected by other substances in the food or “milk.” Most studies have found that the calcium in fortified orange juice is as well utilized as that in cow’s milk. But few other calcium-fortified foods have been tested in terms of their bioavailability, and none have been tested for their effects on bone health.

So as I have said in the past, do your homework and read nutrition labels. Do not rely solely on the claims on the front of a product.
For more information regarding nutrition labels and healthy lifestyles, talk to a registered dietician or a certified health coach.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Smoking and Your Health

By: Janet Hunt
I find it hard to believe I have never written about smoking! I was just driving home from one of my classes listening to talk radio and the topic was smoking. I was surprised to hear smoking (nicotine) is the most addictive drug – more than heroin, and 25% of all people who try smoking become smokers. Unbelievable! Do not even try it. It stinks. It causes bad breath. Long-term smokers get smoker’s cough and smoker’s voice and smokers’ face (wrinkles). Still want to smoke? Below are some more serious statistics from the CDC.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.

Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following combined:

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Illegal drug use
Alcohol use
Motor vehicle injuries
Firearm-related incidents

More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.

Smoking causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths; and more women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

Smoking causes about 80% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.

Scared of developing cancer? Listen to these statistics from the CDC.

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body:

Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
Colon and rectum (colorectal)
Kidney and ureter
Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils)
Trachea, bronchus, and lung

Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors.

If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.

We all know the relationship between smoking and heart disease, strokes, and respiratory diseases and we still smoke. But the CDC still has more statistics.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.

Smoking can make it harder for a women to become pregnant. It can also affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for:

Preterm (early) delivery
Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
Low birth weight
Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
Ectopic pregnancy (often referred to as tubal pregnancies)
Orofacial clefts in infants

Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage.

Smoking can affect bone health. Women past childbearing age who smoke have weaker bones than those who never smoked. They are also at greater risk for broken bones.

Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.

Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts. It can also cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision.

Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers.
Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation and decreased immune function.

Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

My advice is to not start smoking. Quit if you are smoking. Vote to increase taxes on all tobacco products. For help quitting, talk to your health care provider.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. Both the exercise and the outside temperature increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which then increases your heart rate. If the humidity is high, your body has additional stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Heat-related illness

Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily and you don’t drink enough fluids.

Heat illnesses include:

  • Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps (front of your thighs) and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.
  • Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F, and you may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke.
  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F. Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. You may develop confusion and irritability.
    You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death

Pay attention to warning signs

During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition. Remove extra clothing or sports equipment. Drink fluids — water or a sports drink. If possible, fan your body or wet down your body with cool water. If you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, contact your doctor. If you have signs of heatstroke, seek immediate medical help.

How to avoid heat-related illnesses

When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Watch the temperature. Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts
  • Get acclimated. If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over the course of one to two weeks, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
  • Know your fitness level. If you’re unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. If you plan to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, consider a sports drink instead of water.
  • Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loose fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas — or do a water workout in a pool.
  • Wear sunscreen. Sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Have a backup plan. If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.
  • Understand your medical risks. Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.

Heat-related illnesses are usually preventable. By taking basic precautions, your exercise routine doesn’t have to be sidelined when the heat is on.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

It is hot out! And it is going to stay this way for a few months. Here are some reminders of ways to “beat the heat.”

Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic) than usual, no matter what your activity level is. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your physician limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him/her how much you should drink during this hot weather. Limit your alcoholic drinks or drinks with large amounts of sugar because they can actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Avoid very cold drinks because they may cause stomach cramps.

Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the public library or a coffee shop – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. During an especially hot period, call the health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.

Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

The best clothing to wear during the heat is lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. If you are outdoors and in the sun, never wear dark clothing and always wear a hat.

NEVER leave any person or pet in a closed, parked vehicle.

Any of us at any time can suffer from heat-related illness; some people are at greater risk than others and need to be checked on regularly:

  • Babies and young children
  • People aged 65 or older
  • People who have a mental illness
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

Check on adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching
If you must be out in the heat, cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose while sweating. But, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports drink. Rest often in shady areas. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Put on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

For more information regarding heat-related illnesses, talk to your health care provider.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

I know that I write about fall prevention a lot, but falling is a serious issue as we age. More than 1 out of 3 older adults fall each year. These falls can be very serious for our long-term health, our health care costs, and our dependency on friends and family.

Many different factors can cause falls:

  • Medications: Read about side effects for the medications. Talk to your physician about all your medications including over-the-counter medications.
  • Medical conditions: Joint problems (knees, joints, ankles, etc) can contribute to the risk of falling. Uncontrolled blood pressure and blood sugar can cause dizziness. Ear and sinus infections may increase dizziness.
  • Sedentary lifestyles: After the age of 30, we begin losing muscle mass; therefore, to counteract the aging process, we must remain active throughout our lives. Without muscle strength, we cannot stand and walk safely.
  • Environment: At all ages, we need to be observant of fall hazards, such as wet floors, cords, rugs, uneven surfaces, children and pet toys, and so much more. Some of these hazards can be removed, but some we need to watch for every day.
  • Shoes: I recommend shoes with a nonslip sole that can be tightened with laces or Velcro as they stretch out. Slip-on shoes, especially flip flops are not a safe choice.

To prevent falls, we need good balance and the ability to recover; both of those require muscle strength. Balance is the process of controlling our body’s center of mass (center of gravity) with respect to its base of support, whether our body is stationary or moving. Recovery is our ability to right ourselves after losing balance, before it becomes a fall. Exercise can reduce the risk of falls. Below are some basic exercises that can help keep us safe and healthy.

To prevent falls:

  • Practice balance with stationary poses, such as side leg raises using the chair for support, and toe stands (calf raises) behind the chair.
  • Practice muscle strengthening exercises, such as seated leg extensions, standing hamstring curls behind the chair, stand up/sit downs without using your arms to pull up.
  • Practice righting reactions or training muscles to react and recover from loss of balance. Try standing lunges – front, back, and side.
  • Strengthen abdominal and other core muscles.

For more information regarding fall prevention, talk to a Personal Trainer or join a group fitness activity such as SilverSneakers™, SilverSneakers™ Flex, or water fitness classes. Participate in a Stability class. SilverSneakers™ classes are offered at Athens Limestone Wellness. SilverSneaker™ Flex classes are classes outside a gym and are scheduled below:

M/W/F (Strength & Balance) at Athens Senior Center – Pryor Street at 8:30 -9:15
M/W (Strength & Balance) at East Limestone Senior Center – Nick Davis at 11:30 -12:15
T/Th (Cardio & Strength) at Round Island Baptist Church – Brownsferry Rd at 10 -11
Th (Stability) at East Limestone Senior Center – Nick Davis at 11:30 – 12:15

For more information, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

In class the other day one of my students asked about eating goat meat. Then, when I got home and started looking at one of my fitness/nutrition magazines, I was surprised to find an article on goat meat.

The article states that the popularity of eating goat meat and its availability in the U.S. is growing. With our desire for new and different cuisines and restaurants that offer new foods, goat meat will be seen more and more. Goat is widely eaten in China, India, parts of Africa as well as central and South America. My first taste of goat was in a Mexican restaurant in Houston, Texas. On the menu, it was called “cabrito.”

Nutritionally, goat is comparable to other meats. Roasted goat has about 122 calories per 3 ounce serving. It is lower in total fat than lamb, beef, or pork. Like most other meats, it has about 7 grams of protein per ounce.

As with any meat, the best cooking method depends on the cut and how lean it is. Goat can be grilled, roasted or stewed. Some people describe goat as gamey or similar to lamb. Others find it quite mild in flavor, with an intensity midway between pork and beef. I remember it as being mild in flavor and not fatty or greasy.

Because of my environmental concerns with U.S. diets high in beef and pork, I was thrilled to hear goat is more environmentally sustainable. Goats can be raised in areas that are drier and hotter and more rugged than that used for beef. Also, goats are more efficient at converting plants they graze on into meat.

Below is an easy marinated goat recipe:

1-4 lbs. of goat meat (stew meat or bone-in cuts such as shanks or chops work well)
1/2 c. olive oil
1 Tbl. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 Tbl. white vinegar
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced


Set the goat meat aside. In a food processor, combine all remaining ingredients and pulse into a paste. Coat the goat meat completely with the paste, wrap it in aluminum foil, and refrigerate. Marinate for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 400? F. Bake the goat, in the foil, for 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350? F and bake for an additional 2 hours. The meat is finished when the juices run clear. Let the cooked meat rest for 20 minutes before carving. Serve over rice.
For more information on healthy lifestyles, call Janet Hunt, certified Health Coach, at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Maintaining weight loss long-term is difficult. Research shows that most dieters regain their lost weight within five years and up to two- thirds gaining more weight than they lost. But researchers have also learned some of the traits and strategies that help increase a person’s chance of maintaining their weight lost. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) has tracked more than 10,000 people over the last 23 years who have successfully maintained their weight lost. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your weight loss:

Focus on lifestyle changes and not a diet. These habits/changes must be adaptable to your situation and needs and sustainable for long term.

Move it! The NWCR reports that 90% of successful losers exercise an average of one hour a day. This may seem discouraging, but activity does not need to be strenuous or extreme. The most common exercise reported to the NWCR is walking.

Resistance training helpsbuilds to preserve and build muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day, even while resting. Focus on working all the major muscle groups two or three days per week. If you are unsure or need help in finding a program best for you, contact a certified personal trainer that can set up a simple program for you.

Keep a food and activity diary to help raise your awareness. You might want to include the following in this diary:

  • What you ate and how much (calories, points, or carbs, etc.)
  • Where you were and what you were thinking and feeling before you ate
  • How much time it took you to eat
  • What you were doing while you ate (watching TV, playing computer games)
  • How you were feeling and level of fullness after you ate
  • When you exercised and type of exercise
  • Time of day you exercised and length of time
  • How you felt before and afterward exercising
  • Sleep patterns after exercising in the day

Self-monitoring can help when maintaining your healthy behaviors becomes challenging.

Maintain a circle of friends and family that are supportive, enjoy healthy eating and exercise. Work with a certified health coach to overcome obstacles when they come up.

Plan for barriers that may obstruct your activity schedule or your new eating habits such as stress, vacation, financial issues, etc,). If you do have a “setback,”, use it as a learning experience rather than calling it a failure.

Always remember why you worked so hard to lose weight because it is easy to fall back into old habits. Go ahead and write down your reason and look at it every day as a constant reminder to stick with your new healthy behaviors!
For more information about weight loss and maintaining that weight loss, call Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530 or
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Low-back pain is the most common chronic or long- lasting pain issue in the U.S. with 60% to 80% of adults dealing with it at some time in their lives. Many conditions can lead to low-back pain, but poor core strength is often the fundamental factor. With the increased number of sedentary jobs and all the time we spend sitting, this can lead to muscle imbalances and weak core muscles which put the lower back at an increased risk of stress or injury.

  • Our deep core muscles are meant to endure prolonged contractions to support and stabilize the spine while standing or sitting in an erect position. Therefore, when we slouch in a chair all day, the core remains relatively inactive leading to decreased brain signals to the core, telling it to “turn on” and protect the spine when necessary.
  • The psoas major muscle is a strong hip flexor. Sitting can shorten this muscle, putting chronic stress on the low back.
  • The gluteal muscles, which are the hip extensors, become lengthened and weak. These muscles are then unable to do their job in regular activities of daily living, forcing other muscles, such as those in the low back, to compensate. Avoiding sitting is completely is unrealistic, but exercise can help minimize your chances of developing lower back pain.

Below are five suggested exercises.

  • Plank. Perform one to three planks holding for 20-60 seconds, or as long as you can maintain proper form.
  • Side Plank. The side plank may be more beneficial than a standard plank because it requires activation of the internal and external obliques. Again, maintain proper form.
  • Back extension. Back extensions help strengthen your posterior side. Use proper form; a avoid extending past 180 degrees (where the upper body is higher than the legs).
  • Glute raises or bridge. Weak gluteal muscles contribute to lower back pain. The gluteal muscles support activities like walking, running, squatting and deadlifting, but when they lack sufficient strength, the back takes over.
  • Bird Dog. To perform this movement properly, the trunk should remain stable, while only the arms and legs move.

For a full description of the above exercises, check them out online or talk to a Personal Trainer for professional guidance about lower back health.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Many people begin an exercise program to get in better physical shape. “I want to look better and feel better” are the words I hear all the time. But appearances are not everything; exercise benefits the mind and body in ways that no prescription will. These are benefits you cannot see in the mirror. Twenty minutes per day is all you need to reap the benefits of exercise. Of course, if you make it 30 or 45 minutes, the benefits are even greater.

Reduce stress. One in ten adults in this country suffers from stress and anxiety. Any form of movement from yoga to walking to weight lifting can reduce stress by releasing tension in your body. So choose an activity that best fits you and your lifestyle. Side effects of exercise are much better that potential side effects of prescription drugs for stress and anxiety.

Improve health. Regular exercise can help prevent and manage many health conditions including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, some cancers, and arthritis. Again, prescription drugs for every health condition has potential negative side effects as well as high costs.

Elevate mood. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins which can stimulate feelings of joy and pleasure. This is why people tend to feel happier and energized after a good workout. I had a student in class yesterday inform me she came to class grumpy, and is leaving with a smile!

Increase productivity. Studies have shown that working out before work can improve productivity and boost your energy for the rest of the day. I have many students and clients who tell me they have more energy and sleep better at night due to exercise.

Fall in love with fitness. When you find physical activities that you love, you will be more motivated to work out consistently, and the rewards will be even greater. Before you know it, you will be hooked on fitness and wonder what took you so long!
For more information about finding the activity that works best for you, contact me (Janet Hunt) at 256-614-3530 or I can refer to many activity opportunities in the Athens area.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.