Health & Fitness – Fiber

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.

Do you think personal trainers are just for the rich and famous? Think again. While we don’t come at bargain basement rates, we can fit into many fitness budgets. And there is good reason to consider consulting one of us if you find yourself in a workout rut, are struggling to meet your health and fitness goals while working out on your own, need help with sports-specific challenges or injuries, or need the motivation and accountability. A personal trainer can make your workout more productive and challenge you in new ways. In addition, personal trainers can identify issues in your workouts that you may not see — problems such as posture and incorrect form, things you can improve to provide a more effective workout.

If you think personal fitness training is something you could benefit from, but wonder how to fit it into your budget, below are some suggestions.

Find several friends who will share workout sessions. Small group training sessions can be a fraction of what one-on-one training can cost. These groups can be as small as two or three, or as large as fifteen or twenty. (For example, I have trained groups of church members in their gym.) For more personalized attention, partner with someone who is at a similar fitness level to cut training cost in half.

Share a session with your son, daughter or other family member to save money and set a great example that fitness can be a family activity.

With some trainers, the more you buy the lower the individual session.

I enjoy working with clients who have specific results in mind as long as they are realistic. Then after your goal is reached, use your trainer for just an occasional maintenance session.


Short or occasional training sessions can be extremely valuable if you already have a consistent fitness routine. This can renew your motivation.

I frequently work with clients on a limited basis, even once every few months, to tweak an existing routine. I will even provide a written routine to follow until the next tune-up.

I have my own studio or I will work with you at your home. As a trainer, I prefer to use free weights, elastic tubing, fitness balls, and other equipment that you may have at your home rather than use the weight machines at a gym.

Ask your trainer for his/her credentials. Avoid trainers with weekend-seminar or correspondence course certifications. Some of the best certifications come from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Meet with the trainer before your first session to see if you are a good match.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Typical diets do not work. They are frustrating, overwhelming, sometimes expensive and usually long-term weight loss fails. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests a Food Diary or Food Journal may be the key to weight loss success.

A Food Diary can be as simple or as complicated as you want. The simplest involves accurately recording your food intake and the calories at the time you are eating or before you eat. (If you wait until later, you will forget). Something more complicated would include recording grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, the time of day and your feelings.

A Food Journal makes you accountable for everything you eat. You may think you are eating only three healthy meals a day, but you forget all the little extras in between that can start to add up. Maybe you are sneaking a piece of candy or two from the office candy dish, or finishing your kid’s last few french fries. Just an extra 200 calories a day can add up to a weight gain of 20 lbs. in a year.

Recording what and when you eat food can help you determine when you are eating too many calories. Life can be full of social events that take you to places that don’t fit in your diet guidelines. Determining these problems will make you more aware of these events, and allows you to create a plan to avoid or overcome the problems.

Another major component of weight management is portion. A study done by Cornell University found that the bigger your meals are the more you will underestimate how much you ate. Therefore, if you write down what you eat and the amount, you will get a more accurate idea of your calorie intake. Also, many food packages are actually multiple servings, but you may think they are one serving. The Food Diary will educate and train you to read food labels.

The most important result of a Food Diary is that it actually helps you change your eating habits to become healthy habits that you can live with forever. “Diets” are always temporary because they often require you to eat foods you don’t like or don’t fit in your or your family’s lifestyle.
A Food Journal will help you account for calories, preventing you from overeating. It can also show you when you can afford to treat yourself. After a while of utilizing this tool, you will learn to control portions and identify trouble areas, thus creating better eating habits and self-control. All your hard work will pay off when you realize you can afford to indulge in a favorite food and not feel guilty about it.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

12-2-2016-9-31-17-amExercise may help! Research has shown that certain levels of physical activity can positively affect mental health – stress, depression, anxiety.

People with higher levels of fitness are capable of handling stress more effectively than those who are less fit. Cardiovascular exercise is the activity that benefits stress reduction the most. Cardiovascular exercise (often referred to as cardio) is any exercise that raises your heart rate. This usually involves using the large muscles in your body – walking, running, biking, skating, etc.


The antidepressant action is one of the most commonly accepted psychological benefits of exercise. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress more effectively than antidepressant drugs. Both cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective. Both a one-time exercise session and long term programs have positive results. However, greater improvement is seen after several weeks of regular exercise. Both men and women show the positive effect of exercise on depression.

12-2-2016-9-31-33-amResearch also shows a reduction of anxiety with exercise. Even short bursts (5 minutes) of cardiovascular exercise stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Again, regular training offers the greatest benefits. .

So to reduce your Holiday Stress, reduce your Holiday Blues, and burn the extra holiday calories – exercise! If you need a little help getting started, join some activity programs that are available or consult with a personal trainer.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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11-18-2016-3-02-00-pmFrequently, students and clients ask my opinion of sugar substitutes. So having recently read an article from ACE (American Council on Exercise) on this subject and the upcoming holidays with all the desserts, I think this is a good topic to write about.

White sugar is a processed “food” that is high in calories and contains no nutrients. It is associated with high insulin levels, diabetes (all the side effects resulting from diabetes), obesity, tooth decay, cancer and more. Sugar causes your body to react a certain way chemically and if you have insulin resistance, diabetes, or pre-diabetes your body does not use the sugar as expected. Sugar substitutes are chemically different and do not contain a form of sugar, therefore they it does not produce the insulin response that sugar does. The problem is that most sugar substitutes are chemicals and not foods.


Sugar substitutes can be divided into four categories:, natural sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and novel sweeteners. Let’s look at each group in a little detail.
Natural Sweeteners:. Natural sweeteners are often advertised as better options for sugar because they come from real food and may contain small amounts of nutrients. Some examples of natural sweeteners are honey, agave nectar, molasses,and fruit juices, etc. All these contain about the same amount of calories as white sugar, will increase blood sugar levels, and can lead to tooth decay just like white sugar.

Artificial Sweeteners:. Artificial sweeteners are often called synthetic sugar substitutes. Most of these are chemical substances made in a lab. They are much sweeter than white sugar and require smaller amounts for a sweet flavor. Some examples of artificial sweeteners are sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin, etc. These substitutes are most often used in “sugar- free” foods. Numerous side effects have been reported with the use of artificial sweeteners including the possible increased risk of some cancer.

Sugar Alcohols:. Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables or may be synthetic. These types of sweeteners are less sweet than white sugar and contain calories but less calories than sugar. Because of their chemical makeup, they do no not cause as much of a blood sugar rise as sugar. Some examples offor sugar alcohols are xylitol, erythritol and sorbitol. The side effects of sugar alcohols are gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Novel Sweeteners:. Stevia is in this category. Stevia comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. The FDA has not approved stevia leaves or their extracts for use as food additives. There is some concern aboutthat the effect this form of stevia has on blood sugar control, cardiovascular and renal systems, and fertility. The FDA has approved an isolated chemical from stevia. This form of stevia contains no calories.

As a fitness professional, I always recommend reducing sugar intake. Sugar is known to increase inflammation, encourage weight gain, promote tooth decay, and cause problems with controlling blood sugar and all the problems associated with that. Sugar substitutes may seem to be a logical alternative, but that does not address the root of the problem. I recommend making healthy food choices that are unprocessed as well as low in calories.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.


11-4-2016-10-39-24-amType 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two different diseases. Both are very serious diseases that need to be monitored and managed. In general, people with type 1 diabetes have a total lack of insulin and those that have type 2 diabetes have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively.

Type 1 diabetes often called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes accounts for about 5-10% of the people who have diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, our cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy.


Type 2 diabetes sometimes called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes can develop at any age. It most often is diagnosed in adults; and until recently with the obesity epidemic, it was fairly rare in children. Now the diagnosis in children is rising. The majority of people who have diabetes have type 2 (90-95%). In type 2 diabetes, your body is not able to use insulin correctly resulting in insulin resistance. As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas makes less and less in insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.


Both types of diabetes greatly increase the risk for many serious complications. Even though monitoring and managing either type 1 or 2 can prevent complications, diabetes is still the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It isalso a serious risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and foot or leg amputations.

For more information regarding diabetes, lowering your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, managing your diabetes, and more, contact your health care provider or talk to a personal trainer that has worked with diabetic clients.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.


10-21-2016-2-45-00-pmAccording to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and increased fourfold in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in this country who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. The percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period. In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors (that we mostly associate with adults) for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Obese adolescents are also more likely to have prediabetes or even diabetes. Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem.


Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Healthy lifestyle habits that kids learn at home, school, social media, etc. including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese. For this article, let’s focus on physical activity.
Just a couple of generations ago, kids spent hours playing outside, making up fun games. It was during these fun play sessions that we developed the lifelong skills of fitness and being active for fun. Today it seems we rely on youth sports for daily physical activity. Unfortunately, not all kids have the opportunity to play sports or even want to play sports. Daily play and physical games were once merely an outlet for fun; it is now primarily a prestige and a possible a college scholarship.

If parents are concerned about their kids’ health and want their kids to be active, parents need to be active as well. Parents’ attitudes toward exercise are revealed by the ways they speak and act. “Daddy has to go to the gym to lose weight” or “Mommy has to exercise because she ate cookies yesterday” give the perception of punishment. Therefore, kids see exercise as punishment rather than fun. We should make exercise as something to be enjoyed and embraced as a lifestyle.

Encourage kids to be creative and physical with their play time. Think of the things we did as children: hide and seek, kick the can, tag, race to the end of the block.

For more information about exercise for children and adolescents, 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.

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10-7-2016-12-24-10-pmMetabolism is the way your body converts food and drinks to energy, and is usually measured in calories. You can determine how many calories your body burns each day by plugging different information into various formulas. All the various calculations have limitations. The most accurate method is to have your metabolism measured through indirect calorimetry. This method uses a machine to measure oxygen consumption; and in less than 10 minutes you can know your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Metabolism is a complex process that is affected by what you eat; how much you exercise, and your lifestyle. Some of the lifestyle habits may be having a huge negative affect. Below are some things to consider.

Inconsistent Meals. When meals come at regular intervals, your body uses up the calories for fuel and burns more calories in between meals. If your eating pattern is inconsistent, your body gets confused and isn’t quite sure when the next meal is coming, so it goes into conservation mode. Your calorie burn is reduced and more food is put into storage (fat cells and glycogen stores).
Eating too little. If you are “dieting” to lose weight, eating too few calories can actually backfire because cutting calories too much will put your body into a starvation mode and slow your metabolism to keep you alive.


Skipping resistance work or strength training. Many people do only aerobic work because it burns the most calories. But strength training is important because it is directly related to muscle mass and the more muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate. You can do strength training by lifting weights, using resistance bands or your own body weight. (High resistance, low repetitions, and slow movements.)

Too much sitting. Even if you exercise an hour a day, if you spend the remaining 23 hours sitting or sleeping, your metabolism will slow down. Sitting more than 20 minutes can put your body into a more relaxed, non-energy-burning state. Regular movement will cause small spikes in your metabolism as well as lower your triglycerides, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
What you drink. Drinking too little water leads to dehydration which can cause you to burn 2% fewer calories. Try to drink at least 8 – 9 cups of water each day.
Not getting enough calcium. Calcium plays an important role in fat metabolism. Low fat dairy is a great source of calcium that also offers an extra benefit to muscles because if contains proteins that help build muscles and prevent muscle breakdown.

Stress. Stress is probably the number-one factor impacting metabolism. It increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and makes us reach for comfort foods. It can decrease our desire for exercise, even though exercise is a powerful stress-buster. Stress slows digestion, causing a lower need to metabolize calories. Plus, stress can impact our quality of sleep and number hours we sleep.

For more detailed information regarding boosting your metabolism, talk to a Certified Health Coach or a Certified Personal Trainer. (Janet Hunt 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.

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9-16-2016-9-56-32-amAccording to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. Hot weather may cause arthritis symptoms to flare up. In addition, increased joint pain may be triggered by swelling or dehydration.

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the whole body and often causes fatigue and visible swelling. Osteoarthritis is often isolatedwith a particular joint or area of the body. The affected areas may hurt but are not always swollen.

Morning stiffness can be a problem with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, but can last longer for rheumatoid arthritis. Getting up and moving in the morning can be a challenge especially when the body is dehydrated and dreading another hot summer day. Exercise can be unappealing to someone with arthritis, but research suggests that exercise, along with drinking plenty of water, is one of the best natural remedies for stiff joints. Of course, always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.


Below are a few things you can do to help get yourself out of bed and moving each day. First drink 8 to 16 ounces of water when you first wake. Water will triggermlubrication of the joint and reduce inflammation. Then add the following moves to circulate your joints’ lubricant to further reduce discomfort or pain:

•Wrist Circles. Move wrists in all four directions (up, down, side, side) then open and close the palms by extending the fingers 5 to 10 times.

•Knee Rolls. While lying on your back, bend knees and roll from side to side until the spine starts to feel more flexible.

•Ankle Rolls. Lift one leg and circle foot in both directions, point and flex.

•Shoulder Rolls. Sit up and roll the shouldersm forward and in reverse. Bring shoulders up to the ears and down a few times. Take a few deep breaths to stretch the chest cavity.

•Hip Circles. Stand and do an imaginary hulahoop in both directions.

•March. Get the blood circulating by marching slowly in place for 30 to 60 seconds.

Now that the body is out of bed, keep moving! Get outside for a walk while the temperature is cooler or attend a low impact exercise class. Research shows that movement reduces arthritis symptoms
and doesn’t cause harm. But if there is any sharp or stabbing pain in the joints, see a doctor.

If walking or a land exercise class such as Silver Sneakers does not appeal to you, get in the water. You can swim laps or join a water fitness class. For more information regarding exercises for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, contact:

Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530 or visit one of her classes at the Athens Senior Center, East Limestone Senior Center, Round Island Baptist Church or a water class at the Athens Limestone Wellness Center.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.


9-2-2016 2-41-42 PMWhen I talk to people as a Health Coach about losing weight, one of my first suggestions is – do not eat out more than one time per week. Well, that is fine for many of us. For others, it is more difficult because maybe your spouse likes to dine out, or you have a group of friends that insist on eating out, or you have a job that requires you to take clients out. Unfortunately, Americans’ lifestyle has changed and eating out is often the “norm.” So, if you must dine out, below are some ideas that may help.

Go out for coffee. Getting coffee or tea instead of a meal out can be just as friendly or intimate way to catch up with friends (and a coffee place may be quieter) in addition to saving yourself some calories. A cup of coffee or tea (black) has zero calories, but one of the fancy coffees with whip cream might have over 500 calories. Be thoughtful when ordering!!

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Ask for a “To Go” box when ordering. When your meal arrives, immediately place half in the box and set it aside. If you wait until you are finished, you might change your mind and nibble a little more and a little more. Out of sight – out of mind!

Skip the bread or chips. Mexican restaurants and many fine dining restaurants are notorious for placing cheap carbs on the table before you order. There might be a couple of restaurants with outstanding breads or chips, but usually it’s not worth the calories. Do yourself a favor, and politely refuse the basket of bread or chips and save your calories for the foods that are difficult to prepare at home.

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Become familiar with food descriptions. “Lightly sautéed” means doused in oil, “pan-fried” means bathed in butter, and “steamed” veggies often come floating in fat. Most restaurant meals are heavy with added fats. Ask your waitress/waiter about the preparation and request no added butter or oil. Ask for potatoes or veggies “dry” (no added butter or oil). Request condiments on the side.

Pace yourself. I eat fast, which means I can eat too much at a restaurant because they usually give you an excessive amount of food. A couple of tricks for this are to put down your fork or your sandwich between every bite. You could also try to chew your food a prescribed number of times before swallowing. Both of these ideas can help slow your pace of eating and help your body recognize fullness cues before you have overeaten.

Another trick that may work is to “pre-load” your meal by eating a high-volume, low calorie filling food made up of vegetables and water such as a soup or salad before the main course. Of course cream based soups or salads with fatty dressings do not fit this bill.

No matter how you decide to watch your calories, stay aware. If possible, I still recommend keeping your restaurant dining to a minimum!

For more information regarding healthy food choices, contact a registered dietician or Janet Hunt, a certified ACE Health Coach.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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