Step Ahead Wellness Center Blog

Healthy Medical Weight Loss for Better Health and Wellbeing (Clone)

Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 01:27 PM

A healthy medical weight loss program should promote both physical health and emotional wellbeing.One of the primary goals behind any diet and exercise program should be improving the health and wellbeing of the person taking part in the program. However, all too many diet and exercise programs take a cookie-cutter approach to helping people meet their weight loss goals.

What do we mean by a “cookie-cutter approach?” The cookie cutter approach is nothing more than a program that fails to take into account the unique needs of each person to participate in the program. Things such as individual metabolic rates, health and lifestyle are not taken into account in these programs.

Part of making sure that your weight loss program gives you the greatest improvements for your health and wellbeing is making sure that your unique needs are met; which is something that requires personalized, attentive care.

One way in which a weight loss plan can help you maximize your weight loss and health improvements is by determining if medically-assisted weight loss is right for you.

Meeting Weight Loss Goals Safely

For some people, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to meet their weight loss goals. In fact, for some people, the kind of heavy activity an exercise routine usually demands can be unsafe. For example, if a person with osteoporosis were placed on a strength training regimen, that regimen might help to improve bone health in the long run, but the risk of severe injury is so high that simply supplementing calcium intake might prove to be much more reliable and safe in the long run.

A medical weight loss program can identify major medical conditions and dietary deficiencies, then create a personalized wellness plan just for you. By creating a personalized plan that takes your whole health profile into consideration, your results can be vastly improved as opposed to what could be achieved without the help of a doctor.

Such a plan takes into consideration how much activity you’ll need to lose weight, how much activity is safe for you, and your dietary needs to stay in good health while losing weight. To further improve your results, the doctor supervising your medical weight loss program can prescribe vitamin supplements and appetite suppressants to complement your diet and exercise routine.

How Supplements and Appetite Suppressants Help

For countless people, the demands of keeping up with a packed work schedule and the needs of their family doesn’t leave much time for following a generic diet and exercise routine. In fact, lack of time is one of the primary reasons why people so often turn to unhealthy fast food in order to satisfy their hunger.

Because of this, sometimes, you might need a little help to keep eating healthy and meet weight loss goals. This is where the use of doctor-recommended vitamin supplements and appetite suppressants can be a big help.

One of the leading causes of a failed diet is that dieters have a hard time resisting the temptation to go off-diet without help. Appetite suppressants help you fight the urge to snack and eat unhealthy foods by keeping your hunger in check. Used properly, appetite suppressants can help you safely stick to your diet plan.

Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to get ALL of the nutrients you need through a regular diet. This is where vitamin supplements prescribed by a qualified nutritionist can help you.Another one of the major problems with many fad diets is that while they restrict the intake of calories and fat, they can also end up cutting certain needed vitamins and minerals as well. Vitamin supplements prescribed by a qualified nutritionist help you by making sure that your body is receiving all of the vital nutrients it needs to function at peak efficiency, preventing many of the negative side effects associated with extreme dieting.

Only by thoroughly examining your physical condition can a doctor find out your nutritional needs and create a prescription for vitamin supplements that will provide a complete solution for improving your health and wellbeing. With continuous medical monitoring, these prescriptions can be updated as necessary throughout your weight loss program as your needs change.

Promote Your Health and Wellbeing

A successful weight loss program not only helps you shed pounds, it helps you to be more energetic and healthy. People who have successfully lost weight often report feeling more confident in their appearance and positive about their self-image. In short, losing weight not only helps you to be healthier, but it promotes mental well-being as well.

With the continued support of a trained physician and staff who are dedicated to making sure that you meet your weight loss goals, healthy medical weight loss programs such as Step Ahead Wellness’ OPTIFAST program can help you be healthier, more positive, and energetic. Learn if the OPTIFAST medical weight loss program is right for you today:

Do You Need a Personalized Weight Loss Program?

Tags: Weight Loss, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Nutrition, OptiFast

Low-Sugar or Low-Carb?

Posted by deborah neiman on Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 05:42 PM

Low-Sugar or Low Carb? On the face of it, low-sugar and low-carb diets seem similar: Sugars are carbs, after all, and most carbs get broken down into sugar (glucose) during digestion. Both diets also call for cutting back on processed foods. But ask a doctor or nutritionist which plan to follow, and it's a safe bet you'll be told that low sugar is best -- specifically, low added sugar. Here’s what you need to know:

low sugar or low carb?

Lose weight and gain confidence with a personalized program and the ongoing support of Step Ahead's expert team, including a physician, certified fitness trainer, and certified nutritionist. We now accept health insurance!

Our body needs carbohydrates in order to function -- the glucose they provide is the main fuel source for the brain. When you go low-carb you may find yourself cranky, tired, and struggling to focus. “Mind your P’s and Q’s” advises nutritionist Sari Greaves, RDN. Practice portion control (use measuring cups!) and  choose high Quality carbs loaded with nutrients such as low-fat yogurt, skim milk, fresh fruit, whole grains, beans, and sweet potatoes.

Watch out for sneaky sources of added sugat. Did you know that you'll find it in the soy, almond and cashew milk you use instead of regular cow's milk, usually in the form of evaporated cane juice or cane sugar? (Avoid it by buying unsweetened versions.) What about condiments (ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressings) and processed foods like crackers and chips, as well as in tomato sauce and white bread?

Your daily green juice may be another secret sugar bomb. Purely-green juices are generally low in sugar, but at some juice chains, even if they look green, they can have up to 39 grams of sugar per cup or bottle (sizes vary). For comparison, a 12-ounce can of soda generally has around 40 grams of sugar. Even though these juices have vitamins and the sugar is natural, they're highly concentrated doses of sugar paired with little to no fiber, priming you for a crash later.

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits. The major food and beverage sources of added sugars for Americans are:regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and cobblers, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts, fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch, dairy desserts, such as ice cream. Sari’s advice: Nix the juice in favor of a nutritious whole fruit (serving size: a tennis ball) for a true energy boost and filling fiber that will take the edge off hunger.

Reading the ingredient label on processed foods can help to identify added sugars. Names for added sugars on food labels include: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, confectioner's powdered sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar), pancake syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar, white granulated sugar

You may also see other names used for added sugars, but these are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name. These include cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar.

Bottom line: Added sugar has zero nutritional value but may be responsible for associated health problems. Too much sugar has also been linked to cardiovascular issues and other chronic conditions associated with obesity. So it's not surprising that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has singled out added sugar as a major health concern, recommending that Americans get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from the sweet stuff.

Referenced articles: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/low-sugar-vs-low-carb_n_7347216.html

Sincerely,

Dr. Deborah Neiman MD

49 U.S. Highway 202
Far Hills, NJ  07931
908-470-2235
www.stepaheadwellnesscenter.com

Tags: Weight Loss, low sugar, low carb

Weigh Yourself Without A Scale

Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 04:44 PM

When it comes to finding your happy weight, shift the focus away from the scale and re-define personal success. With the following lifestyle tips, you can experience improvements to health and quality of life, independent of weight loss. Instead of worrying about how much you weigh during the holiday season, set realistic lifestlye goals that you can stick with on a daily basis.

What's so special about our lifestyle tips? We will help you target hormones that influence appetite, eating behavior, and energy balance.

Lifestlye Tip #1: Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates. In other words, strike out white flour foods. Whole grains are a more virtuous choice for your personal health, but make them the side show to your meal versus the main attraction. Use the Plate Model as a guide for which foods to eat and how much to eat. The Plate Model is divided into three sections: 1/4 whole grains, 1/4 protein (including animal and plant sources) and 1/2 primarily non-starchy vegetables and some fruit. Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil should be included in "condiment style" (as a small dollop) with each meal, since they contain more calories per serving but offer nutritional benefits that protect your heart. Here's a sample meal using the Plate Model:

1/2 plate: steamed broccoli sprinkled with 1 teaspoon of slivered almonds

1/4 plate: grilled 90% lean turkey burger or salmon, topped with with a tablespoon of sliced avocado and salsa.

1/4 plate: Wild rice pilaf mixed with chopped spinach and apples. 

Tableware Tip: Try serving meals on smaller (9-inch) plates instead of large dinner plates. You'll satisfy that psychological need for a full plate of food, but you'll be eating more reasonably sized portions. Opting for reasonable portions allows you to eat the foods you enjoy and still improve your personal health.

Retrain your eyes to recognize the difference between a healthy serving and a hefty one. Take a look at this visual-comparison table to get a better sense of what proper serving sizes look like:

Healthy Serving Size   Healthy Serving Size
3 ounces lean meat, chicken, or fish; = A deck of cards
1.5 ounces of cheese = 4 playing dice
Baked potato = Your fist
1/2 cup of ice cream/frozen yogurt = 1/2 tennis ball
1 pancake = A compact disc (CD)
1/2 of a 3-inch bagel = A can of tuna

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

 

Lifetsyle Tip #2: Eliminate sugary beverages.

Food calories register a greater sense of fullness than liquid calories from high-sugar beverages. Stick with water or unsweetened beverages for hydration, and save your calories for lean protein foods that will help keep you full. 

Lifestlye Tip #3: Increase fiber intake.

Among fiber's numerous health benefits, it promotes satiety by creating bulk in the digestive tract, helping you feel full sooner and for longer. In addition, fiber helps create a slower, more controlled rise in blood sugar and the hormone insulin, which can help reduce the drive to overeat. Eating foods such as fruits with their intact fiber, versus consuming juice, increases feelings of fullness; it is difficult to overeat the sugar that comes in whole fruits because of the satiating effect of the fiber. Additional natural sources of fiber include whole grains, vegetables and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils). You don't have to count calories to make savvy high fiber choices. Follow the Plate Model and fill 1/2 your plate with lots of green, non-starchy vegetables for a fiber boost that is skinny on the waistline. 

Lifestyle Tip #4: Incorporate more physical activity.

Start by adding a little more movement to your usual daily routine and work up to a goal of  60 minutes of activity per day. Exercise is absolutely essential to help turn back your body clock and improve your long-term health. It's a good idea to consult with a medical doctor before starting a new exercise program. Exercise reduces stress and cortisol levels, factors that have been shown to increase food intake and fat gain around the midsection. Do activities that you enjoy!

Learn more about how you can make lifestyle resolutions with our personalized program. Click below to start the journey to a healthier, new you with the support of a medical doctor, registered dietitian, and certified personal trainer.

Optifast 4 Week Membership

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Deborah Neiman MD, Sari Greaves, RDN & Noelle Lusardi, CPT

49 U.S. Highway 202 Far Hills, NJ 07931 908-470-2235

Tags: Weight Loss, hormones that influence appetite, energy balance, Lifestyle tips, Plate model

High Protein, Low Carb Foods On the Go

Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

At Step Ahead Wellness Center for weight loss, our mantra during the holiday season is to to set realistic goals and be sensible about your eating habits. We will help keep your weight in check through the new year.

Feeling tempted to warm up with a cup of joe or breakfast treat at a local Starbucks, Panera or other coffee shop? Here are some of your best bets for breakfast and beverages on the go. Higher protein foods will keep you full and lower carb options will help slash white flour and added sugar in your diet.

Learn more about how you can fast-track your New Year's weight loss resolutions with our special personalized weight loss holiday promotion. Click below.

Optifast 4 Week Membership

Top Foods Picks at Coffee Houses. The following selections are under 300 calories and have at least 10 grams (g) of protein to kick start your day.

Starbucks:

Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Sandwich: 230 calories, 13g protein

Spinach Feta Wrap: 290 calories, 19g of protein

Greek Yogurt with Berries Parfait: 220 calories, 14g protein

Panera:

Sprouted Grain Bagel Flat: 240 calories, 10g protein

Egg White with Roasted Turkey Power Breakfast Bowl: 170 calories, 26g protein

McDonald's:

Egg White Delight McMuffin: 250 calories, 18g protein

How how to slim down your drink:

Stick with nonfat milk. That goes for caffe latte (espresso, steamed milk, and foam), cappuccino (a latte with less milk and moe foam), or caffe misto (half coffee, half steamed milk, with a bit of foam). You'll walk away with just 70-130 calories (in a 16 oz. grande) with a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, potasssium, and zinc.

Skip the whipped and Syrups. Save 70-110 calories by skipping whipped cream and syrups. At Starbucks, each pump of syrup has about 20 calories and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Choose herbal over chai tea. Chai Tea Lattes (in a 16 oz. grande) from Starbucks or Panera start at 200 calories due to 5 or more teaspoons of added sugar. Herbal teas are packed with disease fighting antioxidants and can soothe your tummy on a cold winter's day.

Satisfy a sweet tooth by choosing a Light Frappuccino. The most virtuous choice on a Starbucks Frappuccino menu would be the Coffee Light for only 110 calories and 4 teaspoons of added sugar. Whole milk is replaced with nonfat milk, and stevia is used to cut back on sugar.

What you need to know about getting enough protein. On average, women should aim for 60 grams of protein daily and men should aim for 80 grams of protein daily. Here's a rule of thumb: Your protein target in grams is roughly equal to half your weight in pounds. Here are some of our top picks for protein snacks on the go. Specialy snacks are sold online or at health food stores:

1. ProTings Snacks: made of pea protein, flax seeds, and sunflower oil, Protings Baked Crisps are gluten-free and each serving provides 120 calories and 15g protein.

2. The Protein Bakery's Cookies: Made with ingredients like rolled oats, light brown sugar and fine chocolate, these blondies and brownies contain no preservatives, trans fat or wheat flour. They start at 100 calories per 1 oz cookie and sneak in 4g protein. Pair this sweet treat with a nonfat plain greek yogurt for a post-workout mini meal that packs 18g protein and 200-250 calories.

3. Kashi GOLEAN Cereal: At only 140 calories per cup, you get 13g protein. Works well for a crunchy snack. Pair it with a cup of nonfat milk for a super easy high protein meal that packs 20g protein for only 230 calories.

4. Dig into Dairy and Eggs. Nonfat plain greek yogurt (6 oz.), 1% cottage cheese (1/2 cup),  a cheese stick or a boiled egg are easy ways to get 6-16g protein at only 80-100 calories per serving.

We are delighted to serve as your personal health expert team, and help make your weight loss resolutions a reality.

Sincerely,

Dr. Deborah Neiman MD, Sari Greaves, RDN and Noelle Lusardi, CPT

49 U.S. Highway 202 Far Hills, NJ 07931 908-470-2235

Tags: Weight Loss, super fast weight loss, high protein low carb foods

6 Healthy Lifestyle Medical Weight Loss Tips

Posted by deborah neiman on Mon, Sep 22, 2014 @ 01:27 PM

You’ve resolved to lose weight, get in shape, and be a healthier, happier you. Congratulations! The question is, how can you meet your health fitness goals? For many people, meeting weight loss goals is accomplished by following a strict diet and exercise routine. Others join special weight loss programs.

Either way, successfully losing weight and getting healthier is going to take some lifestyle changes. What are some of these changes? To help you meet healthy weight loss goals, we’ve assembled a few healthy medical weight loss lifestyle tips.

Tip #1: Meet with Your Physician Regularly

Meeting with your physician regularly is an important part of optimizing your medical weight loss program.As your diet/exercise/meal replacement plan progresses and you start to shed weight, make sure to have regular checkups with a qualified physician. During these visits, your physician can verify that your progression to your weight loss goals is healthy, and that you’re getting all of the proper nutrition you need.

This is important because, as you shed those unwanted pounds, your body’s metabolism can be altered, changing your dietary requirements. Getting a checkup once every few weeks (or immediate emergency checkups if you start to experience symptoms of tiredness, weakness, or involuntary muscle spasms) can help you stay on top of your nutritional needs so that you can be healthy while you lose weight.

Tip #2: Monitor Your Hydration

Water remains one of the healthiest things that you can put into your body, and ensuring that your body’s getting enough water is an essential part of keeping yourself healthy. So, after a rigorous exercise routine, take a few sips of water to replace what gets lost when you sweat.

As a general rule of thumb, make sure that you get somewhere between 2.2 liters (for women) and 3 liters (for men) of water per day, with a little extra intake after periods of heavy activity.

Tip #3: Set Weight Loss Goals That are Healthy

Losing weight can boost confidence and improve health, just don't go overboard with it...When on a medical weight loss program, it might be tempting to enter “extreme diet mode” and try to lose as much weight as possible as quickly as possible. However, fast weight loss isn’t necessarily healthy weight loss.

Losing weight too quickly can have an adverse effect on the body. One of the causes of this is that when you’re on an extreme diet that removes food, you can wind up suffering from a lack of nutrition. Your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to survive, so you end up experiencing problems as a result. On most medically-supervised programs this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as the doctor can prescribe vitamin supplements to replace the nutrients lost on a restricted diet.

Generally speaking, weight loss of more than 2 pounds per day is risky, though.

Tip #4: Take Any and All Nutrition Supplements and Dietary Aids ONLY as Recommended by Your Physician

When you’re on a medically supervised weight loss plan, it is vital that you follow the directions given to you by the medical professionals supervising your program. Be sure to inform your doctor of any and all medications that you may be on, including other diet supplements, pain pills, heart medication, etc.

Many medicines can have severe side effects when taken in conjunction with other medications. In order for your physician to provide you with the best way to lose weight safely, he or she needs to know about any other medications you may be on.

Also, avoid taking more than the doctor-recommended dosage of any diet aid or supplement that is prescribed.

Tip #5: Create a Plan for After the Program is Finished

Preparation can mean the difference between keeping the pounds off and relapsing all over again.For many people on a weight loss program of any kind, the hardest part of the program is keeping the weight off once the plan is over. All too often, once a person’s diet is “done” and their weight loss goal has been achieved, they balloon back to their pre-program weight or worse.

This is why it is important to have a diet and exercise plan for after the end of a medical weight loss program. By keeping track of your calorie intake, exercising regularly, and avoiding too many unhealthy foods that lead to rapid weight gain, it is much easier to stay at your ideal weight once you’ve attained it.

Tip #6: Speak to Professionals for Advice

To get the best advice for important lifestyle changes to help you meet healthy weight loss goals, be sure to consult the experts who are a part of your weight loss program (nurses, physicians, and dietitians). The professionals at Step Ahead Wellness, for example, specialize in providing advice that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals in a safe and effective manner.

In programs such as Step Ahead’s OPTIFAST program, dietitians such as Sari Greaves (our nutrition director) are available to help you form plans for life after your diet is over so that you can lead a healthy life through lifestyle modification, as well as provide helpful advice for meeting goals when you need it. Sari's experience as a dietitian is respected throughout the country, and she has even made a guest appearance on the Dr. Oz show to share her knowledge with the world.

Noëlle Lusardi, our fitness director, is here to lend a helping hand for personal training and fitness counseling. She has served as a member of the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA) for over 20 years, and brings her considerable knowledge and experience in helping people to every consultation. With her experience, she can help you create and execute a physical activity regimen to keep you on track for losing weight and keeping it off safely.

Learn more about how you can use a healthy medical weight loss program to shed the pounds and keep them off today!

Download the Optifast Tip Sheet

Tags: Weight Loss, diet, Diet and Nutrition, wellness

Healthy Medical Weight Loss for Better Health and Wellbeing

Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Sep 03, 2014 @ 02:57 PM

A healthy medical weight loss program should promote both physical health and emotional wellbeing.One of the primary goals behind any diet and exercise program should be improving the health and wellbeing of the person taking part in the program. However, all too many diet and exercise programs take a cookie-cutter approach to helping people meet their weight loss goals.

What do we mean by a “cookie-cutter approach?” The cookie cutter approach is nothing more than a program that fails to take into account the unique needs of each person to participate in the program. Things such as individual metabolic rates, health and lifestyle are not taken into account in these programs.

Part of making sure that your weight loss program gives you the greatest improvements for your health and wellbeing is making sure that your unique needs are met; which is something that requires personalized, attentive care.

One way in which a weight loss plan can help you maximize your weight loss and health improvements is by determining if medically-assisted weight loss is right for you.

Meeting Weight Loss Goals Safely

For some people, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to meet their weight loss goals. In fact, for some people, the kind of heavy activity an exercise routine usually demands can be unsafe. For example, if a person with osteoporosis were placed on a strength training regimen, that regimen might help to improve bone health in the long run, but the risk of severe injury is so high that simply supplementing calcium intake might prove to be much more reliable and safe in the long run.

A medical weight loss program can identify major medical conditions and dietary deficiencies, then create a personalized wellness plan just for you. By creating a personalized plan that takes your whole health profile into consideration, your results can be vastly improved as opposed to what could be achieved without the help of a doctor.

Such a plan takes into consideration how much activity you’ll need to lose weight, how much activity is safe for you, and your dietary needs to stay in good health while losing weight. To further improve your results, the doctor supervising your medical weight loss program can prescribe vitamin supplements and appetite suppressants to complement your diet and exercise routine.

How Supplements and Appetite Suppressants Help

For countless people, the demands of keeping up with a packed work schedule and the needs of their family doesn’t leave much time for following a generic diet and exercise routine. In fact, lack of time is one of the primary reasons why people so often turn to unhealthy fast food in order to satisfy their hunger.

Because of this, sometimes, you might need a little help to keep eating healthy and meet weight loss goals. This is where the use of doctor-recommended vitamin supplements and appetite suppressants can be a big help.

One of the leading causes of a failed diet is that dieters have a hard time resisting the temptation to go off-diet without help. Appetite suppressants help you fight the urge to snack and eat unhealthy foods by keeping your hunger in check. Used properly, appetite suppressants can help you safely stick to your diet plan.

Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to get ALL of the nutrients you need through a regular diet. This is where vitamin supplements prescribed by a qualified nutritionist can help you.Another one of the major problems with many fad diets is that while they restrict the intake of calories and fat, they can also end up cutting certain needed vitamins and minerals as well. Vitamin supplements prescribed by a qualified nutritionist help you by making sure that your body is receiving all of the vital nutrients it needs to function at peak efficiency, preventing many of the negative side effects associated with extreme dieting.

Only by thoroughly examining your physical condition can a doctor find out your nutritional needs and create a prescription for vitamin supplements that will provide a complete solution for improving your health and wellbeing. With continuous medical monitoring, these prescriptions can be updated as necessary throughout your weight loss program as your needs change.

Promote Your Health and Wellbeing

A successful weight loss program not only helps you shed pounds, it helps you to be more energetic and healthy. People who have successfully lost weight often report feeling more confident in their appearance and positive about their self-image. In short, losing weight not only helps you to be healthier, but it promotes mental well-being as well.

With the continued support of a trained physician and staff who are dedicated to making sure that you meet your weight loss goals, healthy medical weight loss programs such as Step Ahead Wellness’ OPTIFAST program can help you be healthier, more positive, and energetic. Learn if the OPTIFAST medical weight loss program is right for you today:

Do You Need a Personalized Weight Loss Program?

Tags: Weight Loss, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Nutrition, OptiFast

4 Tips for Choosing a Certified Personal Trainer

Posted by deborah neiman on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 @ 01:56 PM

Finding the right personal trainer means taking a good long look at a lot of different things.When it comes to keeping up with your exercise and diet programs and meeting your weight loss goals, few things are as important as having the support of others. Having a personal trainer can give you the support you need to make it through your health fitness program without missing a proverbial beat. The challenge, however, is finding the right personal trainer to help you.

Not every personal trainer will have the right qualifications, training, and experience to help you meet your personal goals. So, how do you find the right personal trainer?

There are actually a number of things to consider when choosing a personal trainer. To help you find the right one, we here at Step Ahead Wellness have compiled a short list of tips for choosing a personal trainer here4:

Tip #1: Check the Trainer’s Certifications

When looking at a trainer’s résumé, see what certifications they have. For example, does the trainer have an ACSM personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine? Furthermore, what certifications does that trainer have? On the ACSM’s certification page, they list several different types of certifications for health fitness, clinical, and other specialties. Examples of their health fitness certifications (the category aimed at personal training) include the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and the ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist (HFS).

A personal trainer with either of these certifications is knowledgeable when it comes to creating personalized exercise regimens to help others meet fitness and weight loss goals. The primary difference between the two is that the HFS certification indicates that the trainer is rated to develop exercise programs for people who have medically controlled conditions.

If a personal trainer cannot list any certifications, it may be time to look for another trainer.

Tip #2: Ask Past Clients about Their Experience

Talk to others who have used a personal trainer's services in the past. You can get a lot of great information about them this way.Sometimes, the details on a résumé can only tell you so much about a personal trainer, even one with all of the right certifications and experience. A big part of a successful personal training experience is being able to get along with your personal trainer. To learn if a given trainer is the right person to help you, look at what some of their past clients say about them.

Reviews of personal trainers can often be found on online business review sites (such as Yelp!) or on specialized trainer search sites. When reading reviews, look at both the positive and the negative ones. When a review is positive, see what it is that that person liked about his or her experience. When a review is negative, try to find out why that person was dissatisfied with the trainer.

For example, was the trainer insistent that clients make a specific lifestyle change? An important part of meeting weight loss goals is to break some of the bad habits that hold you back from being healthier. However, not all clients may have appreciated being told to change their lifestyle. As a result, the clients who were willing to make the necessary changes ended up being much more satisfied with their experience than the clients who didn’t want to make such changes.

Knowing what caused others to be either very happy or unhappy with a personal trainer can tell you a lot about whether or not that trainer will be right for you.

Tip #3: Find out What Kind of Training You Want to do

Different personal trainers will have different specialties when it comes to making exercise plans. Before you start looking at trainers, consider your goals and preferences.

For example, is your goal simply to get your BMI into a healthy range, or are you trying to get into athletic shape? Your ultimate goal will affect the types of training you’ll be doing, as well as the intensity of your training.

Also, consider whether you want to do private personal training, or if you want to be a part of a group. Some trainers specialize in one-on-one training sessions, while others are trained to manage whole groups of people who are exercising at a time.

Knowing your goals before trying to find a trainer can help you focus your efforts and better screen trainers who may not have the certifications/specializations that are needed to create the best results.

Tip #4: Consider the Gym/Fitness Facilities the Trainer Uses, if Applicable

If a trainer is a part of a gym or other fitness facility, see if the costs of using said facility are included in the trainer’s fees. When you go to that trainer’s gym, do you have to provide your own equipment, pay for rentals, or are equipment costs included? Do you need a separate membership to the gym on top of the trainer’s fees? These items can all add your personal training costs unexpectedly.

Beyond the facility and its costs, also check to see what services the trainer can provide, such as nutrition planning or lifestyle coaching. There are fitness programs out there, such as Step Ahead’s own OPTIFAST program, where trainers, lifestyle coaches, and other support personnel are all included in your personal training costs.

With some time and effort, you can find the perfect personal trainer with the right program to help you meet your health fitness goals. Learn more about Step Ahead Wellness’ health fitness programs today!

Do You Need a Personalized Weight Loss Program?

Tags: Weight Loss, Personal Trainers, Fitness, personal training

How to Lose Fat with Interval Training

Posted by deborah neiman on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 08:46 AM

With interval training, you swap between short periods of intense activity and longer periods of light activity.“How to lose fat?” is a huge question for many women. There are countless different exercise/weight loss programs out there to help women meet their fat/weight loss goals. Yet, for many women, finding the best way to lose fat proves to be difficult.

The two broadest categories of exercise are cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise training and weight (i.e. strength) training. However, there are countless different types of exercise regimens which fall under these broad categories and even different methods of performing some of the most basic exercises.

Today, we’ll talk about the benefits of interval training.

What is Interval Training?

While the specific definition of interval training might differ based on who you ask, the basic idea is relatively simple. In essence, interval training is any exercise regimen where you alternate periods of heavy activity with light activity.

Examples of interval training would include things such as alternating swimming at full speed with leisurely laps in the pool or switching between running and jogging/walking during your morning walk at regular intervals (hence the name interval training).

How Does Interval Training Help Me?

Interval training of various intensity can be healthy for women of most ages.Intense activity helps people to burn calories more quickly, which in turn leads to increased weight loss. Interval training helps exercisers to achieve that higher calorie burn through short periods of intense activity interspersed with warm-up and cool-down periods of activity in between to help maximize the efficiency of the workout.

Properly done, interval training can help to reduce the risk of cramps and muscular injury from suddenly starting or stopping intense activity by easing you into or out of bouts of heavy exercise.

Studies featured in the Journal of Applied Physiology have shown that high-intensity aerobic interval training, “over a longer period of time (4-6 wk) has been reported to increase high-intensity exercise performance, muscle buffering capacity, whole body exercise fat oxidation rates, and aerobic capacity” (Talanian et. al.). To put this in other words, aerobic interval training has been proven to improve your capacity for exercise, muscle health, and your body’s ability to burn fat.

Over time, interval training can help you build endurance to let you work out for longer, and get more positive results from your exercise.

Another noted benefit of interval training is that it can help combat the monotony of an exercise routine by adding variety to your workout. This helps prevent the sense of boredom and increase your engagement with your exercise.

Interval training can, for many people, prove to be the best weight loss exercise regimen possible.

Are There Risks to Interval Training?

With any exercise regimen, there is a risk of bodily injury, especially when said exercise involves strenuous activity. If you rush into a heavy exercise routine before you’re ready, you can end up damaging one or more major muscle groups.

If you are just starting an exercise routine after a prolonged period of no exercise whatsoever, or have a serious health condition such as cardiovascular disease, consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

To reduce your risk for injury and other health complications when performing interval exercise, consult with a physical trainer and/or your doctor. A trained physical health expert can help you determine your threshold for physical activity and create an exercise regimen based on your health needs.

Also, make sure to wear the appropriate equipment for your chosen exercise routine. For example, wear running shoes that provide full support for your feet when jogging.

To further reduce risk of injury, ease your way into practicing bouts of heavier activity. On your first interval exercise routine, try doing just one or two bouts of heavy activity of roughly 30 seconds to a minute long at most. If that level of activity feels too hard, ease back on the intensity and length of the high-intensity intervals until you have had a chance to build up your endurance. The bottom line is "listen to your body"  -- you want to challenge yourself but not to the point of injury or heat stroke, or over stressing your body.

Exercise is safer when done with a trainer. Unless you are a seasoned exerciser/athlete, it is probably best to avoid performing interval training alone. There are always benefits to training with a partner. The biggest benefits are that partners push each other so there is no quitting and they make each other more accountable (to actually show up for the exercise!). As with all diet/exercise lifestyles, consistency is key.  

If you need help with your own interval training regimen, Step Ahead Wellness is here for you. We have a staff of dedicated professionals who are trained to help you meet your health and fitness goals.

Do You Need a Personalized Weight Loss Program?

Source Cited:

Talanian, Jason L. et. al., “Two Weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases the Capacity for Fat Oxidation during Exercise in Women.” Journal of Applied Physiology. Vol. 102 no. 1439-1447. April 1, 2007. Web. Accessed 8/13/14. http://jap.physiology.org/content/102/4/1439

Tags: Exercise, Weight Loss, losing weight tips

How to Maxmize Your Health Fitness Programs

Posted by deborah neiman on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 @ 10:17 AM

Many weight loss regimens involve exercise and personal trainers.Year after year, thousands of women join the latest diet and exercise programs with the hopes of being able to shed excess weight so that they can feel more energetic and confident about their bodies. Every year, countless women are disappointed by the results of their diet and exercise plans.

What went wrong for these women? And, more importantly, how can you avoid disappointment at the end of your own health fitness program?

There are actually a few things that you can do to maximize the results of your health fitness program, including:

Set Reasonable Goals

Before beginning any weight loss or fitness regimen, it is important to know what your goals are and to have a reasonable expectation of reaching said goals.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight, establish how much weight you want to lose and how quickly you would need to lose it under your selected program. Odds are, if your weight loss goal would have you trying to lose more than 1-2 pounds per week, then you might need to reassess your goals.

Why? Because extreme weight loss (loss in excess of 3-4 pounds a week) can be unhealthy, and could lead to severe health problems. Also, such extreme goals are very difficult to meet, and create an unreasonable performance expectation. Failure to meet an extreme goal can be discouraging, which in turn leads to less engagement with your fitness or health plan.

Study ALL of the Features of Your Health/Fitness Plan before Starting it

When looking at a fitness or health regimen, take the time to read all of the program’s features, including:

  • Length of the program.
  • Dates/times of meetings.
  • Location where meetings occur.
  • Location of program’s headquarters/office.
  • Any special medical notices.
  • Dietary restrictions.
  • Names of registered physicians involved with the program, if any.
  • Any medications that the program uses.
  • Support networks tied into the program.

Two of the biggest reasons that a health or fitness program fails are:

  1. The people taking part in it aren’t able to reconcile their lifestyle to the program;
    AND
  2. They are not given the support they need to keep up with the program on a day to day basis.

By carefully examining fitness programs before signing on for them, you can find a program that provides everything you need to succeed, which increases your chances of being satisfied with the results of your program.

Get Your Checkups, While Still on the Program

One of the best things you can do to protect your well-being while on a health or fitness program is to schedule several physicals with your doctor to check your condition throughout the program. This way, if the fitness program is causing health complications for you, your doctor can spot the problem straight away and help prevent serious complications.

At the very least, getting regular checkups can help to reinforce the effectiveness of your health program and keep you motivated to stay on track.

Have a Plan for after the Program

For those who successfully complete their health/fitness programs and meet their weight loss or other goals, the end of the program is only the beginning. All too often, weight that was lost while on the program comes back, with some people actually gaining more weight than before.

For this reason, it is important to prepare for the end of the program by establishing your own post-program exercise and meal plan. If your program has a lifestyle coach, consulting with him or her can be incredibly helpful in adjusting your lifestyle to prevent weight gain after the program ends.

Get a Step Ahead when it comes to Your Wellness

To get started right, check out our own OPTIFAST program, which features numerous benefits to help you get into shape and stay that way. For more tips about how to make the most of the OPTIFAST program, download the tip sheet below!

Download the Optifast Tip Sheet

Tags: Weight Loss, OptiFast, weight loss goals, health fitness advice

Weight Training Programs vs. Cardio Training Programs

Posted by deborah neiman on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 @ 12:27 PM

In any weight loss regimen, staying active is an important part of losing weight and keeping it off. Exercise, of any kind, is an established, reliable method for improving overall health and even elevating your mood.

However, there has been quite a lot of debate in recent years about which exercises are best for people who are looking to lose weight: cardio or weight training. Both of these classes of exercise possess solid health benefits for women, but which one is right for you?

Benefits of Weight Training

Weight training is great for building lean mass and confidence.When most people think of weight training (also called strength training), they envision the big, muscular bodybuilders lifting huge barbell weights. However, there is more to weight training than just adding muscle mass (although that is a major portion of weight training).

Benefits of weight training include:

  • The ability to focus on a specific group of muscles.
  • Improved muscle tone.
  • Increased strength and feelings of confidence.
  • Increased muscle endurance.
  • Free weight training, in particular, is good for rehabilitation after an injury.

For women who are trying to get into better shape, weight training is an excellent option. It allows women to tone specific muscle groups that may not be responding to aerobic exercise. Also, weight training allows for the person doing the exercise to either do a lot of repetitions with light weights, or a few reps with heavier weights.

While weight training does produce more muscle mass than aerobic exercises, women will not build mass as quickly as men. This is because men have an abundance of the hormone testosterone, which works to repair and strengthen muscles after a hard workout. Women still have some of this male hormone, but not nearly as much as men in most cases.

Cons of Weight Training

While weight training is a great option for improving strength and toning muscles, there are a few cons attached to this kind of exercise, including:

  • Increased risk of injury (particularly with free weights), which demands the use of a spotter or other supporter/supervisor for safety.
  • Need for specialized equipment for many standard resistance exercises (weight machines, free weights, barbells).
  • Some exercises more complicated than aerobic exercise, making their safe practice more difficult.
  • In many cases, weight loss from strength training is more modest for women than aerobic exercise. It is important to note, however, that the addition of lean muscle is a factor in this, as lean muscle mass weighs more than fat.

The biggest risk is that when using weights, it is possible to drop them and cause yourself serious injury. Even a light, 5-pound weight can do serious damage to an unprotected foot if dropped from chest height.

With any exercise regimen, exercise caution and if you are at risk for injury, heart attack or stroke, consult with your physician before trying to lift heavy weights.

Cardio Training Benefits

Aerobic exercise, such as jogging, is great for the health of your heart and lungs.Millions of women engage in aerobic exercise to help themselves shed excess weight and improve health. For many women, cardio training (sometimes referred to as aerobic) exercises such as jogging, swimming, or riding an exercise bike provides cardiovascular benefits that improve heart health and lung function.

Other benefits of aerobic activity that women have noted include:

  • Lessened muscle and joint pain. One of the best treatments for arthritis is to remain active and in motion, which is something that cardio training helps to ensure. On top of that, aerobic exercise stimulates the capillaries, improving blood flow and speeding the removal of lactic acid from muscles.
  • Increased stamina. With improved heart and lung function comes improved oxygen generation for the body. With increased oxygen and other nutrients carried in the bloodstream, your muscles can operate more efficiently for longer.
  • Weight loss. Cardio training burns more calories than strength training during exercise.
  • Elevated mood. After any workout, endorphins are released into the bloodstream, naturally promoting feelings of wellness.

These are just a few of the benefits of cardio training. Certain research from as early as 1986 has even linked cardio exercise to longer lifespans!

On top of this, many basic cardio regimens don’t require much in the way of special gear other than running shoes for jogging, a bicycle or exercise bike, and access to a pool or beach for swimming.

Cons of Aerobic Exercise

The specific cons of aerobic exercise will vary depending on your specific routine. For example, if you go jogging, finding a good, safe route to jog along may be more difficult for some. Swimming might not be an option if you don’t have access to a large body of water to swim in.

Aerobic exercise, despite generally being good for joint health, can result in stress fractures for some. This is most common in jogging, especially if the person in question is wearing shoes not designed for the task.

Pain in the foot or legs is not uncommon after a few weeks or months of aerobic exercise, and may be an indication of a severe problem or injury. Many of these injuries can be prevented, however, by wearing the appropriate footwear and performing stretches before and after exercise to prepare the muscles for the upcoming activity.

Which One is Right for You?

This is a difficult question to answer. In reality, whether you follow a weight training or a cardio training routine should be based on your personal fitness goals.

Odds are, if you’re looking to shed the pounds, cardio training is your best bet. However, if you’re looking to build confidence, strength, and muscle tone, weight training may be right up your alley.

Of course, you can do both types of exercises, and gain the benefits of both. Whatever your fitness goals are, be sure to consult with a physician before beginning any kind of regimen that involves rigorous activity.

Learn if an exercise regimen is right for you, today!

Do You Need a Personalized Weight Loss Program?

Tags: Exercise, Weight Loss, health fitness advice