Associates in Nutrition is back on the Blog scene! Follow us and blog with us as we up date you on news and information to better your nutrition, fitness, wellness and sports.

Posted September 14th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Events, Exercise Tips, health, In The News, nutrition, sports, weight loss

Soon I will have a NEW wellness portal, where you can keep track of your own daily nutrition and exercise.   Keeping track of what you eat and when you exercise really helps if you have a goal, like more energy, weight loss, muscle gain, or whatever.

I will look for you there!


Weekend Warriors Prevent Injury with Preparation

Ever heard the term “Weekend Warriors?” These fun-loving, sports-minded folks work hard then occasionally decide to have some fun by participating in an activity that’s new (or old and dear). The problem is, their body isn’t conditioned through diet and exercise for what’s about to happen, and the result is often an injury … sometimes a bad injury.

Common catalysts for weekend warrior syndrome are spring thaw, reunions, holidays, turning 40, turning 50, New Year’s resolutions and your teen’s friends playing ball in the lot next door. There are abundant opportunities to “jump right in” and although your heart’s in the right place, you could pay a big price later.

I’ve fallen victim to this scenario myself. I work out on a regular basis and eat well, but recently I played a charity softball game, a sport that I used to play in my younger years … and I could not get out of bed on Monday. I also could not use my Blackberry because my hands hurt so bad.

Had I at least been doing some type of similar activity before that game, or stretching the body parts I knew I’d be using, I might have had a fighting chance. Changing from a flat gym floor to uneven earth or rolling trails or sloped beaches can also cause issues. Imagine what the 50th-birthday-but-20-mile-bike-ride might do to an office worker.

If we’re not used to using certain muscles, we make ourselves prime candidates for debilitating or highly irritating injuries. I was thinking about the various ways to keep the body prepared for the occasional odd activity, and came across a great quote on the Internet: “Men over 40 should be fit for their sport rather than using their sport to get fit,” it said. This surely applies to everyone contemplating a sudden, big burst of athleticism.

The easiest way to avoid injury is the one requiring the most discipline: don’t do too much of anything that’s new. Start out in moderation, play part of the game, do 5 miles instead of 20. You could save yourself a stress fracture or a couple of very uncomfortable weeks.

Flexibility and stretching are key, too, so if you know you have a new sport ahead, start working that part of the body, stretching daily, and always stretch after a workout to gain flexibility. A balanced diet and proper weight is always a good idea. Hauling an extra 30 pounds around a make-believe football field is tough.

Here’s another tip: A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Magnesium is lost via sweat, so regular exercisers and even saunagoers need to take in enough magnesium rich foods or supplement magnesium. But after a spontaneous workout, you’d do well to have some on hand.

Weekend warriors can benefit from maintaining a healthy mineral balance. Think of magnesium as your “muscle mineral.” The FDA recommends 310-420 mg daily for most adults.

Here are a few magnesium-rich foods if, like me, you prefer a healthy diet to taking lots of supplements: 3 ounces of halibut, 90 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted almonds, 80 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted cashews, 75 gm; 1/2 cup cooked soybeans, 75 gm; 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 75 gm; 1 ounce mixed dry roasted nuts, 65 gm; 2 biscuits of Shredded Wheat cereal 55 gm; 1 cup instant fortified oatmeal, 55 gm.

I also like to keep resistance bands all around me: tied to doors, in my travel bag, in front of the TV, wrapped around the legs and arms of my chairs. A good 10-minute workout with bands can be great if done right.

So if your college roomie has challenged you to a tennis rematch from days gone by … start working the “pushing” muscles on your chest wall, and get your shoulder primed for action. Do some sideways motion drills, and start taking magnesium. If it’s been a while, you’re going to need it!

Fuel your body right for Exercise

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

Whether you are establishing a new exercise routine, increasing your fitness or looking for ways to maximize your existing plan, your body requires proper nutrition and hydration before, during and after you exercise.

Nutritional guidelines specific to sports, cardiovascular and wellness nutrition are designed to help you understand how much, how often and what kind of nutrients your body needs to improve performance and recovery.

For example, before exercise, it is important to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal, along with small amounts of protein to help build and repair muscle tissue and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. Low-fat and low-fiber foods are best to ensure optimal digestion.

Three to four hours before exercise, you should eat and drink a small meal or snack. Ideas may include:

- Peanut butter and honey on toast with an instant breakfast drink;

- Fruit and yogurt cereal with low-fat granola;

- Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds, skim milk and a banana; or

- Turkey and cheese sandwich with fruit and a sports drink.

In addition, approximately 30 to 60 minutes before exercise, you should eat a light snack such as a piece of fruit or a small jam sandwich. Also, drink plenty of water or a sports drink.

Nutrition and hydration during exercise also is important, particularly during prolonged exercise such as a marathon or long bike ride. This requires the proper mix and timing of fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes. Too much can result in cramping or other intestinal problems. Too little hydration can cause dehydration, fatigue and impaired performance.

Easily digestible foods such as a banana, low-fat granola or nutrition bars are recommended during endurance training and events. In addition, you should always drink plenty of water or sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes to help speed fuel to muscles.

For short duration exercise, less than 60 minutes, water is a good choice to drink before, during and after exercise.

Following exercise, eating for recovery is important to restore fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, replace muscle fuel utilized during activity and to provide protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue.

If you have two training sessions per day or your next training session is within eight hours, nutrition recovery is crucial. Ideas for recovery snacks and meals include the following:

- Fruit and yogurt smoothie;

- Sports drink and nutrition bar;

- Graham crackers with peanut butter, low-fat chocolate milk and banana;

- Whole wheat pita sandwich with turkey and veggies; or

- Rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and whole grain tortilla.

A nutritional plan tailored to help you achieve your personal exercise goals will help you maximize performance and results. Experiment with foods and hydration to create a custom plan that what works best for you. A registered dietitian can assist you in designing a program based on the amount and intensity of your exercise schedule and your desired results.

Whether you participate in sports activities, aerobics, weightlifting or a competitive fitness program, following proper nutritional guidelines is critical to helping you achieve your goals.


Read my News-Column: Small changes in eating mean big gains in health

Posted January 13th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Meal Tips

For many people, the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. The New Year is a good time to make a commitment to focus on living a healthier lifestyle. Even small changes in your eating habits can make a big impact on your health.

In addition, incorporating more exercise is important too. Simple tips that can make a difference in your health include parking farther from the building so that you have to walk more and burn more calories, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or cutting out all sugar drinks and drinking water instead.

When implemented daily, these easy lifestyle changes can help you get closer to reaching your goal of a healthy weight and feeling better.

For some, more significant changes must be made to get on track for healthy living. If you are thinking of starting a fad diet, be sure to do some research and consult with your physician to see if the diet is a safe and effective option for you.

Unfortunately, many diets deprive you of nutrients and can have a negative effect on your long-term health. In fact, consuming healthy food more often can actually help you drop those additional pounds. Be sure your diet includes plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables. Five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily are highly recommended.

In addition, find ways to reduce salt, fat and sugar intake. These are commonly found in fast food and processed food. Modify cooking methods to reduce the use of oil in cooking. Steaming, boiling, grilling and baking are good cooking methods. Avoid deep frying whenever possible.

Also, eat more moderately by monitoring your portions. Start cutting your quantities in half; you’ll be surprised at how filling and satisfying smaller portions can be.

To develop a healthy eating routine, plan ahead. Start off each day with a hearty breakfast.

Trade your breakfast bran muffin for a bowl of bran flakes. You can potentially save 83,000 calories per year. Follow your breakfast with a lunch and light dinner. Eat soup for lunch instead of a sandwich. This may help you save another 50,000 calories per year.

Be sure to eat nutritious snacks in between meals. Avoid junk food by replacing a candy bar with fruit. This small change can help you avoid gaining an extra 5 pounds per year. Eat more vegetables and fruit for snacks.

By eating less at meals and adding healthy snacks in between, your body will burn the calories quicker without storing as much excess fat. This also helps to keep your metabolism running efficiently all day long.

As always, drink plenty of water. Water works as an appetite suppressant and helps to ward off food cravings. It also helps to metabolize the fats in your body and keeps you properly hydrated.

In addition to making these small changes, one of the best ways to lose weight is to develop a support system. Get your entire family involved and start off with some simple little changes in your diet.

Stay the course and soon you will begin to see the results of your resolutions for the New Year.

May you have a healthy and happy New Year!

Enter the Get Fit Lee County $100,000 Challenge!

Posted January 11th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

I am teaming up with Bill Davey and inviting Lee County to “GET FIT” and lose 1 Million pounds of fat and gain 250,000 pounds of muscle in a 12-week health and fitness challenge. Top male and female prizes of $15,000 will be awarded! In addition, a portion of the registration fees are going directly to support our local Lee County Ronald Mc-Donald House, Homeless & Hunger Coalitions, and Volunteers in Medicine, impacting the lives of thousands of people in our county. Take the Challenge…Change your Life! Register today at:

Fit in fun on Friday! Workout resolutions for 2010

Posted January 8th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday

If you are like many Americans, you pledged to improve your physical activity in 2010. One of the best ways to stay on track is to recruit a support system to get family and friends involved and to cheer you on. Here are some ways to involve family, friends, neighbors or co-workers:

-Find a training partner at the gym and spot each other during weight lifting or attend exercise classes together to stay motivated.

-Walk with a neighbor, friend or family member. Set a schedule to stay on a routine. Start off by walking and gradually increase your distance and endurance. Set goals including charity walks such as a local 5k to benefit cancer research.

-Keep it up! It can take up to 12 weeks of routine exercise to notice results. Exercising as little as 20 to 30 minutes a day is enough to begin improving mood, health and level of fitness. By developing a routine, you can build on the next exercise session and begin to notice improved strength, stamina, endurance and sense of well-being.

Fit in fun Friday – Seasonal fitness tips

Posted December 11th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday

Don’t put off physical activity until after the holidays, use this time to bond with family while staying active and keeping fit. Here are a few seasonal fitness tips:

-Instead of driving to look at holiday light displays, park your vehicle and enjoy a walk through a well-lit community. Be sure to bring a flashlight or wear reflective clothing for safety!

-While holiday shopping, park your car further away so you have more opportunity to walk and burn calories! Be sure to park in a safe, lighted area.

-In preparation for guests or parties, clean the house! Get the entire family involved in sweeping, vacuuming, dusting and mopping. You’ll be surprised at how much faster the job gets done and how many calories you will burn!

Enjoy the season and stay fit!

Fit in fitness Friday – give the gift of fitness this holiday season!

Posted December 4th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday

Looking for the perfect holiday present for the family?  Give the gift of fitness!  Local gyms are offering membership specials for the holidays. Another idea is to buy sports equipment to encourage your family to be active. So while you are walking the malls this weekend in search of the perfect gift, consider your family’s fitness goals.

Here are just a few suggestions:

-A pedometer to track your steps
-Tennis racket and balls
-Footballs, baseballs, soccer equipment
-Yoga mat
-A bicycle and helmet
-A treadmill or home equipment
-Exercise videos
-Headset/music for the gym, jogging or walking
-Workout clothes
-Gym bags
-Water bottles

Read Today’s News-Press Column: Don’t let travel be a detour around healthy eating

Posted December 1st, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Meal Tips, The News-Press Column

Traveling during this holiday season doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your healthy eating and exercise routine. The best approach is to plan ahead to avoid overeating and to fit exercise into your travel plans.

Just as you would schedule vacation activities, you should think about your meals or dining plans. Planning ahead is the best way to avoid unwanted pounds and enjoy a “guilt-free” vacation.

Whether you are traveling by airplane or automobile, you can plan your snacks and meals with nutritious options. Eating healthy snacks every two to four hours can help you feel energized and keep you from overeating when it is time to stop for a meal.

For example, pack small plastic bags or containers with snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, low-sugar and low-fat power or granola bars, low-fat cheese, hard-boiled eggs, pretzels, baked whole grain crackers, sandwiches made with whole grain bread with peanut butter or lean meats, or fresh fruits and vegetables. A combination of a carbohydrates and proteins are a good choice as these foods are absorbed more slowly, helping to curb hunger and provide more satisfaction.

In addition, drink lots of water and keep it accessible.

If you plan to dine out during your travels, avoid fast food restaurants or those with limited choices. Sub shops offer better choices for brief stops. Select sandwich ingredients including whole grain bread, lean meats and lots of vegetables. A quick and nutritious breakfast choice is a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, filled with vitamins and fiber. In addition, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs are excellent sources of protein. You can also look for single-serving whole grain cereals with low-fat milk.

Another option is to split a restaurant meal with your traveling buddy. Most restaurants provide more than enough food for two people in one entree. Eat the vegetables that come with the meal first. If the meal does not come with a vegetable ask for a side dish. Another idea is to skip the entree and replace a meal with a healthy soup and salad.

Choose wisely when ordering salads. Stay away from taco salads or ones that are topped with fried chicken strips. Remember to select foods that are prepared with healthier, low-fat ingredients and choose grilled over fried foods.

In addition to maintaining good eating habits, you should include exercise during your travels. If you are driving, it is best to stop in a safe location every two to three hours to stretch your legs. Take a quick walk around a rest area, do a few jumping jacks and take time to stretch your muscles. If you are traveling by plane, you can get up, walk briefly and stretch as well. Moving around will help keep your metabolism going while preventing you from feeling drowsy.

Traveling is not an excuse for making unhealthy choices. By planning ahead and making smart decisions, you can stay on track, eat well and enjoy your holiday vacation.

Fit in fun on Friday – burn off those extra holiday calories with a ‘turkey trot’

Posted November 20th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday

With the holidays upon us, indulging in festive foods including turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie often motivate people to rev up their fitness goals. As you make your holiday plans, schedule time for exercise. Community “turkey trots” offer families a great way to exercise over the Thanksgiving weekend. The traditional “turkey trots” usually include a one or three mile family fun walk, as well as several options to participate in more competitive jogging events. Check your local newspaper listings or online for more information on events in your community.