Step Ahead Wellness Center Blog

Mid-Life Fitness & Exercise Keeps Us Healthy

Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 @ 04:17 PM

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Many people exercise to look better – to improve body composition and control weight, but the other health benefits of exercise are motivating factors as we approach middle-age – for good reason. According to a recent study, exercise is “good medicine” for keeping common chronic health problems at bay as we age. After all, what good is it to look “hot” in a pair of jeans if you’re not healthy?

The Importance of Midlife Fitness

In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at Medicare claims for 18,670 participants, both men and women, over a 26-year period. This group of people had undergone treadmill fitness testing during middle-age, around the age of 50. After adjusting for factors like blood pressure, body mass index, alcohol use and smoking history, they discovered the most fit participants, as measured by their treadmill test, had a lower risk for developing eight medical conditions – heart disease, emphysema, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer and colon cancer over a 26-year period.

That’s a lot of prevention! Although this study doesn’t necessarily show cause and effect, it does suggest that staying fit is a simple and medication-free way to potentially reduce the risk of the most chronic health problems that rob people of their ability to fully enjoy life as they age. According to a 1993 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, an inactive or sedentary lifestyle is a contributing factor in 23% of deaths due to chronic disease. Pretty sobering, huh?

Health Benefits of Exercise: Other Ways Exercise Improves Health

Did you know that half of all women over the age of 50 and a quarter of all men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point during their life? High-impact exercise and resistance training help to build stronger bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The simple act of muscle moving bone, as when lifting a weight, stimulates bone-producing cells called osteoblasts to churn out more bone tissue to reinforce and protect your bones. Combine that with a calcium-rich diet and adequate amounts of vitamin D and you have a head start at preventing bone loss with age.

What about joint health? By the age of 65, about two-thirds of people have osteoarthritis on x-ray, although not everyone has symptoms. Weak quadriceps muscles increase the risk for knee osteoarthritis. The good news? Strengthening your quadriceps muscles through resistance training helps to prevent osteoarthritis of the knee. Plus, it helps with weight control. Being overweight or obese puts greater stress on joints, causing more loss of cartilage – not to mention resistance training helps to preserve lean body mass with age. Why is that important? There’s an epidemic of sarcopenia among older people. Sarcopenia is the serious age-related loss of muscle mass that puts older people at risk for frailty, falls and disability. Strength-training helps to combat this problem.

Exercise Boosts Mental Health Too

Exercise reduces stress and anxiety and may help to prevent depression. It even helps to ward off age-related memory loss and those “senior moments” that become more common after middle-age. One way it does this is by increasing the volume of a portion of the brain called the hippocampus that’s linked with memory and cognitive function. The hippocampus normally shrinks with age, and exercise, primarily aerobic exercise, reduces hippocampal shrinkage. Aerobic exercise boosts the volume of this portion of the brain even in people who begin exercising later in life. Just goes to show, it’s never too late to get the benefits of exercise.

The Bottom Line?

Who doesn’t want to stay healthy as they age? Exercise and a healthy diet are two of your best defenses against age-related diseases – and it’s never too late to start.  Start by walking utilizing the -10,000 Steps Program each and every day.  The more you move the more movement your body will crave.

For more great fitness tips, contact our fitness director/certified personal trainer, Noelle Lusardi, at

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

Get Started Today!

Dr. Deborah Neiman MD

49 U.S. Highway 202
Far Hills, NJ  07931

Tags: losing weight tips, health insurance coverage, health insurance, Diet and Nutrition, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Personal Trainers, group excercise classes, weight loss insurance coverage, lose weight with a partner, Step Ahead Wellness Center

Meal Replacement Plans for Medical Weight Loss - Do they work?

Posted by deborah neiman on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 @ 01:36 PM

Do meal replacement plans really work?One of the questions we hear the most here at Step Ahead Wellness Center is: “do meal replacement plans work?” Considering how important meal replacement plans are to the success of many diet and exercise programs, this is a good question to ask before beginning a medical weight loss program. And, it’s a question that deserves an answer.

To put it simply, a meal replacement plan CAN work, if it is done right.

What Happens When Diets Go Wrong?

The problem with a lot of fad diets is that, while they reduce your calorie intake, they don’t provide a suitable level of nutrition to meet your body’s needs. These diets often have you removing food from your diet without replacing that with a healthier option. While an extreme starvation diet might produce some results in the short run, it isn’t a viable choice for long-term healthiness.

As these self-denying diets cut calories, they also cut your intake of vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, and D, Calcium, and dozens of other compounds your body needs in order to survive. This results in symptoms such as fatigue, muscular deterioration, increased susceptibility to disease, and even death (in very extreme cases). Even if you’re on a diet, your basic nutrition needs still have to be met.

Even when a diet has a “meal replacement plan,” that plan is often formulated to work for people in general, and as such, isn’t optimized to meet your specific needs. Although, even when these meal replacement plans aren’t entirely tailored to your needs, they’re still better than a starvation diet. At the very least, these plans shouldn’t leave you without nutrition.

What Makes Medical Weight Loss Meal Replacement Different?

To make sure that your meal replacement plan is successful takes more than just cutting calorie intake, it takes a thorough understanding of your health from top to bottom. By starting with a medical examination, a medical weight loss program can find out which vitamins and minerals are deficient in your diet, if any.

Once the doctor supervising your weight loss regimen has an understanding of your unique health needs, she can create a comprehensive meal plan that will address your specific dietary needs. This healthy meal replacement plan will be tailored to provide you with all of the nutrients your body needs to work efficiently, while cutting back your calorie intake to promote healthy weight loss.

Another benefit of a medical weight loss meal replacement program is that the supervising doctor can prescribe dietary supplements as necessary. For example, if a patient had a severe vitamin deficiency that would be impossible to remedy through diet alone (at least, not without a massive increase in calorie intake), their supervising doctor could prescribe a supplement that would give them the nutrients that would otherwise be missing from their diet.

Sometimes, it can be hard to resist the urge to snack unhealthily.One of the leading causes for a meal replacement plan to fail is that it is often too tempting to go “off the plan.” This is especially true of meal plans that rely on a massive reduction in portions compared to what the dieter may be used to. If the meals aren’t filling, the temptation to snack to satiate hunger can lead even the most determined dieters astray.

It is so easy to go astray when you’re hungry. Thoughts such as “just one cookie/candy/scoop of ice cream won’t kill me” and “well, I had one, so might as well eat the next one” are difficult to resist when your stomach is growling like a ravenous tiger. The hunger response is a natural reaction, one designed to make sure we eat enough to meet our body’s needs. The problem is when feelings of hunger persist even after eating all the nutrition you need. This is where appetite suppressants can be a huge help.

Combined with a meal replacement plan and nutritional supplements, appetite suppressants can help you fight the urge to snack and keep you on-track to meet your weight loss goals, while still getting the nutrients you need to stay in good health.

Get a Meal Replacement Plan That Works

Once again, a meal replacement plan can and will work for your weight loss goals, IF it’s the right plan.

Get a complete weight loss solution that combines medical monitoring, meal replacement, dietary supplements and the support you need to lose weight and keep it off today!

Download the Optifast Tip Sheet

Tags: meal plans, medical weight loss solutions, Diet and Nutrition, healthy eating, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss

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

Ask the Dietitian: “Are Fiber One Bars Good for Me & My Diet?”

Posted by Sari Greaves on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 @ 03:42 PM

Fiber-enriched cereal bars such as Fiber One bars are rich in dietary fiber, but are they really that good for you?Many Americans simply don’t get enough fiber in their diet. With the prevalence of cheap, fast food and limited time for full-on meal planning, people often find it easier to just grab something form their local food chain or buy heavily processed, prepackaged meals. The problem with this is that many such processed food items are sorely lacking in key nutrients.

Adding fiber to your diet is a great way to promote the health of the digestive system. The question is, how can you add more fiber to your diet?

In response to an increased awareness of the importance of increasing dietary fiber, people have turned to a number of prepackaged and processed food products that contain concentrations of fiber. One of these ready-made sources of fiber would be the variety of fiber-enriched cereal bars such as the now-famous Fiber One Bars. However, are fiber bars really good for you?

Benefits of Eating a Fiber Bar

The primary reason why people eat fiber bars these days is to supplement their dietary fiber. Fiber One Bars contain chicory root extract; an ingredient rich in inulin, which is the primary source of dietary fiber in these bars.

The increase of dietary fiber from these bars can have a beneficial effect on your digestive tract. The inulin in the bars promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, and can help keep your digestion regular. An increase in digestive health can even help you shed a little weight!

While increasing your dietary fiber can be a very good thing, there are also drawbacks to consuming Fiber One Bars…

Potential Risks of Eating a Fiber Bar

Going from the extreme of not eating enough fiber to supercharging your diet with excess fiber can have some consequences. Physical side effects of a sudden rise in your dietary fiber include:

  • Abdominal cramps.
  • A “bloated” sensation.
  • Increased flatulence.
  • Intestinal obstruction (which is rare).

Most of these side effects from increases in fiber intake are temporary at worst, and will fade as your gastrointestinal tract adjusts to the increase in dietary fiber. However, there are other risks tied specifically to inulin.

Inulin, as it promotes the growth of bacteria in the digestive tract, is classified as a FODMAP, which is a category of carbohydrates that can be harmful to some individuals. This is because even as inulin can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, other, more harmful bacteria can develop as well.

As a cereal product, Fiber One Bars contain several allergens, including soy, milk, peanut, almond, sunflower and wheat-based ingredients. If you are allergic to any of these ingredients, it is safest to avoid Fiber One bars.

So, Are Fiber One Bars Bad?

Like many other food items, Fiber One bars are not life-threatening when taken in moderation (unless you’re allergic to them). However, while they’re not really very bad for your health, there’s not much to really recommend them over other sources of dietary fiber.

For example, a Fiber One bar might have only 140 calories (per 40 gram bar) and not much in the way of other important vitamins and minerals, but it does have 10 grams of sugar to go with your 9 grams of dietary fiber.

Bananas, and many other fruits, are an excellent source of dietary fiber.Compare that to one 126 gram serving of a banana, which has:

  • 15% of your RDA of Vitamin C.
  • 1 gram of protein.
  • 13% of your RDA of Potassium.
  • .5 mg of Vitamin B6.
  • No fat, saturated or Trans.
  • No cholesterol.
  • No Sodium.
  • 3 grams of dietary fiber.

(Nutrition facts courtesy of the Chiquita Bananas website).

Now, the fiber bar does come out ahead when it comes to the sheer amount of fiber provided per serving. However, the banana has way more nutrients beyond simple fiber, and fewer calories (even though the serving size of the banana is 3x that of the fiber bar).

Because the fiber content of a banana is less concentrated than that of a Fiber One bar, you can use bananas to help you gradually increase your fiber intake slowly over time, avoiding many of the uncomfortable side effects of a sudden spike in your dietary fiber.

Other good sources of dietary fiber include:

  • Garlic.
  • Onions.
  • Artichokes.
  • Wild yams.
  • Apples (with skin on).

Many of these natural sources of fiber boast not only a significant amount of dietary fiber, but fewer calories per serving and numerous other nutrients needed by the human body.

So, while a Fiber One bar might not be a bad thing to have once in a while when you need fiber in your diet, there are much better sources of dietary fiber that provide other nutritional benefits.

Learn more about dietary fiber and other nutrition issues from the dietitian.

Download the Optifast Tip Sheet

Sources Cited:

Banana Nutrition Facts About Chiquita Bananas. Web. 07/03/14.

Tags: Sari Greaves, Diet and Nutrition, fiber

Top 5 Barbecue-Related Diet Pitfalls

Posted by Sari Greaves on Wed, Jul 09, 2014 @ 03:53 PM

Grilled Summer treats are tasty, but they can be horrible for your diet. Tis’ the season of hot dogs and burgers. The joys of summer are surrounded by food laced with calories and weight gain risks. But, with a healthy eating plan, you can satisfy your taste buds without expanding your waistline. Here are the five most common mistakes people make when eating at a barbecue and solutions on how to avoid popular diet pitfalls.

Diet Pitfall #1. Arriving to a barbecue starving. Are you just going to wing it?

Think again. Attending a barbecue extremely hungry without a game plan is a combination that can lead to overindulgence and diet regrets.


Practice damage control when it comes to your favorite summer foods. Remember that everybody can eat something of everything; it’s just a matter of how much. A small sliver of mom’s apple pie with a side of fresh fruit will do less damage to your waistline than chocolate cream pie a la mode.

Take control of your environment whenever possible. Never engage in conversation while sitting next to a bowl of potato chips. Summer events are a great time for mingling and conversation is calorie-free. Two additional tips that help prevent overeating include wearing snug-fit clothing and chewing on sugarless gum, which can prevent you from returning to the buffet line for second helpings.

If you are starving, you are more likely to eat fast and impulsively, instead of selecting foods based on nutritional value. This can lead to calorie overload—just 1 ounce of potato chips and 2 tablespoons of ranch dip adds up to 200 calories and 16 grams of fat, and that’s before the main course. Take the edge off your hunger before a party. Eat a small low-fat snack such as fruit or low-fat yogurt before you head to a summer barbecue. This will help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive. It’s also a good idea to eat slowly and savor every bite. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register fullness. Speed eating (usually as a consequence of extreme hunger) can easily lead to excessive calorie intake. Using chopsticks for salads and noodle dishes can slow down your eating pace.

Diet Pitfall #2. Putting the wrong foods on the grill.

While it is true that outdoor grilling allows excess fat in meat and poultry to drip away, it is worth keeping certain foods off the grill due to their high calories, saturated (artery-clogging) fat and sodium content. The culprits: regular ground meats, dark-meat poultry with skin, beef short ribs (just 3 ounces has 330 calories and 31g fat, pork spareribs and sausages (1 link of bratwurst has 281 calories, 25g fat).


Chicken breast meat is leaner than skin-covered dark meat.

Grill lean cuts of meat. Lean protein adds a “satiety factor” to your barbecue meal, keeping you full on fewer calories. Purchase ground meat and poultry advertised as “lean” or “extra lean” on the package*.

Choose white-meat chicken over dark. Chicken breast is lower in calories and fat than is the dark meat found in thighs and legs. A 3-ounce serving of grilled skinless chicken breast tenders has about 110 calories, 3g fat—that’s 100 fewer calories and 12 fewer fat grams than the same serving of chicken thigh with skin.

Add seafood to your grill. Firm, fatty fish like salmon (which contains heart-healthy omega-3 fat) is the easiest to barbecue. Shrimp also serves as a low-fat source of protein. A 3 ounce serving of cooked shrimp (about 12 large shrimp) provides 90 calories and a modest 1.5g fat. Flavoring with lemon juice and herbs instead of an oil-based marinade can save calories.

When buying beef, look for the words round or loin (eye-round, bottom round roast and steak, or sirloin/flank steak). When buying pork, look for leg or loin cuts (pork tenderloin, top loin. A 3 ounce cooked serving of pork tenderloin has only 116 calories and 4.5g fat. Don’t stop at meats. Lean protein can also be vegetarian. Prepare veggie kebabs using cubes of firm tofu on a skewer with your favorite fruits and vegetables (mushrooms, grape tomatoes, pepper, onions, pineapples, apple slices) For a meaty burger without the beef, swap a hamburger for  a Portobello mushroom burger topped with 2 slices of low-fat cheddar cheese (48 calories, 2 g fat, 7g protein per slice of cheese). For added flavor, remove stems and gills of Portobello mushroom and brush with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Non-fat cooking spray (olive oil or canola oil base) can be used in substitution for oil to save calories.

Meaty Tips:

* 4-ounces of raw meat weighs in at 3-ounces after cooking

* Lean beef has less than 10g of total fat, 4.5g or less of saturated fat (the bad-for-your heart-fat that raises blood cholesterol) and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per cooked 3 –ounce serving (about he size of a deck of cards). Extra lean meat has less than 5g of fat and less than 2g of saturated at per cooked 3-ounce serving. 

Diet Pitfall #3. Forgetting to factor in beverage calories.

Beverage calories do not register the same sense of fullness as food calories. As a result, if you drink a high-calorie beverage, you won’t compensate by eating less food.  It’s not just soda that can add extra calories to your barbecue meal- it’s also fruit drinks, alcohol and other sugar-laden beverages (sweetened teas and vitamin-enhanced water included)


Avoid soda and alcoholic beverages in favor of water and milk.1. Eat your fruit, rather than drink it. Whole fruits not only contain the vitamins and minerals found in fruits, but they offer the added bonus of dietary fiber. Fiber adds bulk to your diet, helping you feel full on fewer calories. If you love juice, downsize your portion to four to six ounces daily.

2. Focus on beverages for hydration. For the most part, that means water, unsweetened coffee (limit to two or three eight-ounce cups daily), tea, and diet soda. Coffee and herbal teas also can provide beneficial antioxidants for your health, and can be very refreshing when iced.

3. Try diet sodas and other diet drinks, such as Crystal Light, which have five or fewer calories per serving and are ideal for increasing your beverage options while minimizing intake of added sugar.

4. Don’t be afraid of artificial sweeteners. The majority of research on aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), and saccharin (Sweet 'N Low) shows them to be safe for human consumption. While you only save about nine calories using an artificial sweetener instead of regular sugar, they can definitely add up over time.

5. Skip vitamin water, which contains added sugar. You are better off drinking water and taking a multivitamin.

6. Drink non-fat or one-percent milk. Milk contains nine essential nutrients vital to your health. Drinking milk as a protein source can help prevent loss of muscle mass and promote fullness for individuals trying to lose weight. Soy milk is also a healthy option.

7. Avoid or limit alcohol consumption, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Avoid mixing alcohol with any type of fruit juice or non-diet soda, which add unnecessary calories. Combined with alcohol, these can lead to fat storage. Lower-calorie drinks include light beer and red or dry white wine. Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Instead try a sparkling water with a twist of lime. If you drink alcohol, practice moderation. (one drink for women, up to two drinks for men per day) 1 drink = 5 ounces wine (about 120 calories), 12 ounce beer (about 145 calories), 1.5 ounces 80-proof liquor (about 100 calories)

Diet pitfall #4: Grazing.

Grab a plate to avoid simply grazing from what's available... but make it a small one to help your portion control.

Grazing can easily lead to overeating.


1. Put together a meal on an actual plate.

2. Use small plates as a built-in way to control your portions.

3. Bring a healthy dish to a summer party. Mixed fruit salad or a spinach salad drizzled with olive oil & vinegar are simple to prepare and easy to carry. Other nutritious pot-luck contributions include shrimp cocktail or vegetables crudités with low-fat bean dip or hummus.

4. Portion your plate wisely. Fill ½ of your plate with steamed or fresh vegetables, ¼ of your plate with lean protein (fish, skinless poultry and lean meats such as sirloin or flank steak). Leave the remaining ¼ of your plate for a “small taste” of high-fat dishes (that includes vegetables prepared with fatty sauces, fried items or mayo-based salads)

5. For dessert, choose the Angel cake instead of the Devil’s chocolate cake. Ice cream and frozen yogurt can pack a nutritional punch, delivering calcium, protein, and phosphorous. Stick to simple flavors like vanilla (1/2 cup provides 140 calories, 7 g fat) or choose low-fat ice cream and frozen yogurt. (1/2 cup Edy’s Slow-Churned Light ice cream flavors provide 100 calories, 3.5 g fat).  Once you start adding cookie dough, brownie chunks or candy bits to ice cream, the calories soar. A ½ cup serving of a premium brand with peanut butter cups packs 380 calories and 26 gm fat. It’s also a good idea to factor in fresh fruit. Top your ice cram with a cup of chopped fruit to boost your fiber intake by 3 grams. Savory additions include diced bananas, mangoes or strawberries. While juice bars and other icy treats may provide some vitamins and minerals, they tend to contain more sugar than nutritional benefits. However, these treats can still satisfy a sweet tooth at a lower calorie level (1 Edy's frozen whole fruit bar provides 80 calories). For a cool chocolate fix, try fat-free frozen chocolate pops or sliced strawberries drizzled with chocolate syrup.

Diet pitfall #5 Assuming all salads are healthy.

A seemingly healthy salad can become calorie laden with ingredients such as fried chicken, fatty dressing, cheese cubes, croutons, bacon bits, or fried wontons. A Caesar Salad Kit sold at your grocery store contains 170 calories and 15g fat per serving (there are 3.5 servings per bag). One bag contains as much total fat as a fast-food cheeseburger! Salads drowned in mayonnaise (potato, tuna, macaroni salads) can add up to nearly a quarter of a day’s worth of fat. (1/2 cup potato salad contains about 180 calories, 10g fat)


1. Salads can easily serve as a nutritious and refreshing summertime side dish or even a main course. Fruits and vegetables are among the best sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables have fewer calories than anything already mixed in dressing.

2. Do think beyond iceberg lettuce. Take advantage of dark leafy greens which are loaded with nutrients such as vitamin C, beta carotene, folate, calcium, fiber, and potassium, all for only 25 calories per cup.

3. Do make salad a satisfying dish  by adding lean protein and unsaturated fats (heart-healthy fats).Grilled skinless chicken breast, salmon, cubed tofu, or flank steak hot & fresh off the barbecue serve as low-fat protein sources. One of my favorite diet tricks: When you make vegetables the centerpiece of a meal, it’s easy to keep calories low without counting. Low fat shredded cheese and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) also add a protein punch.

4. You don’t have to give up all fat and flavor. Choose one of the following nutrient-rich fats for added flavor: a few avocado slices, a sprinkle of nuts or seeds, or a tablespoon of hummus.

Don’t dress to kill. If there’s a dressing that you love, try a “light” variety, use 1 tablespoon instead of 2 and dilute it with vinegar. Even better, avoid pre-made salad dressings and go natural with olive oil and lemon juice. (Oily dressings coat vegetables pretty well, so 1 tablespoon (120 calories) will do the trick). 

Download the Optifast Tip Sheet

Tags: diet, Sari Greaves, Diet and Nutrition, summer weight loss


Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 12:55 PM

We are taking you outside this summer with our weekly Wednesday night


Finish your hump day with this amazing hour of movement.  See details below...

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Tags: losing weight tips, physician weight loss program, losing weight fast, Diet and Nutrition, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Personal Trainers, lose weight, Yoga classes, weight loss goals, diet to lose weight


Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, May 14, 2014 @ 03:31 PM

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One of the most dangerous lies of mainstream weight-loss advice
is the notion that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and if the number of
calories you consume is fewer than the number you burn, you will lose weight.

Many struggle with their weight, even as they follow this
advice. They count calories and exercise, yet the numbers on the scale never
budge. Or even worse: the numbers grow higher.

The laws of physics correctly say that if you burn more calories
than you consume you will eventually lose weight. This is a scientific fact,
but hidden in this fact is your metabolic rate is not a static number and the
food you eat as well as other factors can cause your metabolism to fluctuate
throughout the day and over longer periods of time.

These and other factors make accurately determining your
calories burned very difficult.

When combined with overly optimistic and often incorrect
calories consumed as well as thyroid and hormone issues, it easy to see why so
many people calculate calories needed to lose weight wrongly.

 Fat Storage is a Complex Metabolic Process

The idea that you will successfully lose weight if you eat less
and exercise more is continually disproved, but is still often repeated as

Fat storage–how much is stored, where it is stored, and how much
is used as fuel for the body–is determined by the actions of a variety of
enzymes and hormones. How your body processes the nutrients that become fat is
based on genetics and the foods you choose.

You can see evidence of this fact in the people around you: A
pregnant woman’s hips and thighs increase in size, even if she’s usually slender.
One person is thin and struggles to gain weight, while another person is
overweight in spite of hours in the gym and skipped meals.

The foods you eat, especially those that elevate blood sugar
levels, have a tremendous impact on how much fat is burned and how much is
stored. This is why low-carb diets are so effective. These diets eliminate the
foods that spike your blood sugar and promote the release of fat-storing

The Source of Calories Matters

Does it make a difference if you take in 100 calories from a
cupcake or the same amount of calories from chicken breast? Research shows that
the answer is a resounding “yes”.

All carbohydrates convert to glucose (sugar), but some are more
easily digested. This means that, compared to other carbohydrates, they elevate
blood sugar levels higher and for longer periods of time.

Foods like wheat and other grains, sugar, starches, and
dehydrated fruits are the easiest to digest and boost your blood sugar levels
sky-high. Insulin comes in to bring down those levels by storing the sugars as
fatty acids in your fat cells.

Fructose, the sugar contained in table sugar, high fructose corn
syrup, and agave nectar, travels straight to the fat cells. It is much better
at adding to body fat than either glucose or starchy foods.

In spite of its repetition by nutritionists and doctors
everywhere, a low-calorie diet and physical activity do not guarantee weight
loss. All calories are not created equal. Certain foods, like wheat and
starches, stimulate insulin production that leads to fat storage. Sugars not
only stimulate insulin, but also go straight into your fat cells. Remove these
foods from your diet and replace them with high-quality nutrients found in
animal proteins, vegetables, and fruits for the most effective way to lose
excess pounds. To get started, the next time you go grocery shopping purchase
as many whole foods as possible and start reducing your purchase of processed


For more fitness information contact our fitness director/certified fitness trainer, Noelle Lusardi, at




Taubes, Gary. Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the
Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease. New York: Knopf,
2007. Print.

Corbett Dooren, Jennifer. “Not All Calories Equal, Study Shows.”
WSJ Health and Wellness. Wall Street Journal, 26 June 2012. Web. 3 July 2012.

Hallfrisch, J. “Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fructose.” The
FASEB Journal 4.9 (1990): 2652-660. Print.



Tags: Personal Weight Loss, Weight Loss, Diet and Nutrition, Dr. Neiman, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Personal Trainers, Noelle Lusardi, Physician Weight Loss, Physician Weight Center, OptiFast, personal training, Weight Loss Center, appetite suppressants, diet pills, Step Ahead Wellness Center, 100 calorie snack


Posted by deborah neiman on Tue, May 06, 2014 @ 06:24 AM

Join us every Wednesday night this summer for our Power Walk/Yoga Stretch Classes In The Park! 

Registration is OPEN!  And we look forward to walking with you!!!

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Tags: Diet and Nutrition, Dr. Neiman, summer weight loss, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Personal Trainers, Noelle Lusardi, Nutrition, Doctor, diet to lose weight, Weight Loss Center, Step Ahead Wellness Center

Why Strong Is The New Skinny....

Posted by deborah neiman on Fri, May 02, 2014 @ 04:26 PM

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No doubt you’ve heard the slogan, “strong is the new skinny.” For
years women have focused on losing weight, sometimes using unhealthy techniques
like extreme calorie restriction, excessive aerobic exercise and weight loss
supplements. The tide seems to be turning as more women discover the power
weight training has to transform their body – and their mind. Rather than
depriving themselves, they’re fueling their bodies with whole foods that build
strong, defined muscles. Why is this a good thing? Here are five reasons why
strong is better than skinny.

Strong is about Functional Strength

Strength isn’t just about building defined biceps and thighs,
it’s about developing the strength you need to do everyday things like moving
furniture, carrying heavy loads and shoveling snow safely and more efficiently.
This makes everything you do easier. How do you achieve this? With an
integrated approach to strength-training – compound exercises that work
multiple muscle groups simultaneously, bodyweight exercises and exercises that
mimic movements you do in your everyday life. It also involves strengthening
your core, the part of your where most of your power originates.

“Strong” enhances your life and makes you more functionally fit
and capable. “Skinny,” if it comes from calorie restriction, under-nutrition
and too much aerobic exercise, makes you weaker and less able to do your daily
activities without feeling fatigued. Of course, there are people who are
naturally thin but even naturally thin people can benefit from strength

Skinny Doesn’t Mean

You’ve probably familiar with the term “skinny-fat.” It’s used
to describe people of normal or low body weight with a high ratio of fat to
muscle. If you fall into this category, you’re still at higher risk for type 2
diabetes despite not being overweight. Here’s where it gets interesting. A
study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found people
with type 2 diabetes that are under or at their ideal body weight have a
greater risk of dying from diabetes.

In contrast, research shows resistance training not only builds
strength – it increases insulin sensitivity and improves blood sugar control.
One study showed men that weight trained at least 150 minutes per week lowered
their risk for type 2 diabetes by between 35% and 50%. Skinny won’t necessarily
improve your blood sugar but strength training will.

Skinny is No Guarantee of Health

A study recently showed people who are underweight are at as
high risk of dying as people who are obese. This conclusion was based on a
meta-analysis of 51 different studies. People with a BMI of under 18.5 were at
1.8 times greater risk of dying relative to people of normal weight. This
finding held up even after the researchers controlled for factors like smoking
and chronic disease. Using extreme calorie restriction and excessive aerobic
exercise to get skinny carries risks too. Women who fall into this category may
experience a drop in estrogen that leads to osteoporosis and infertility. The
scale can be deceptive. It’s not a measure of health.

Strong Helps You Age Better

As you age, if you don’t strength train, skinny turns to frail.
You begin losing muscle mass by the age of 30 and the loss greatly accelerates
after 50. From then on you continue to lose strength and muscle mass. Along
with loss of strength and muscle mass, you lose functional strength. This means
you can’t do the things you once could do with ease. Muscle isn’t the only
thing you lose. You lose bone density too. Your risk for falls and fractures
goes up – including the most serious type of fracture – hip fractures.

“Strong” that comes through strength training slows down muscle
loss and helps preserve bone density. Even if you’re still in your 20s,
strength training helps you maximize your bone density so you’re better
protected against osteoporosis later.


Resistance training builds self-esteem. When you’re strong you
feel more comfortable with your body and have a more positive self-image. This
transfers over to all aspects of your life. You’re more confident at work and
in relationships. Strength-training and the confidence that comes from it
improves all aspects of your life.

One study carried out at McMaster University found twelve weeks
of strength training significantly improved how participants (men and women)
viewed their bodies. Along with gains in strength and lean body mass came
improvements in self-esteem and body image. In this study, women felt the most
satisfaction from knowing they could lift heavier and do more reps as a result
of their training. “Strong” changes how you look – and how you think.

The Bottom Line?

Strong has lots of benefits that skinny doesn’t – even if you’re
naturally thin. Age brings changes that make “skinny” hard to maintain. Even if
you manage to maintain it, body fat increases and muscle mass declines with
age. This leads to a more extreme form of skinny-fat – sarcopenia. Sarcopenia,
or the age-related loss of muscle mass, is one of the most serious problems
older people face because it increases the risk for mortality. “Strong” can
help you avoid it.



Science Daily. “Underweight people at as high risk of dying as
obese people, new study finds”

JAMA. 2012 Aug 8;308(6):581-90.

Diabetes Care August 2006 vol. 29 no. 8 1933-1941.

“Psychological aspects of resistance training” Michael H. Stone,
Meg Stone, and William A. Sands

Body Image, December 2005: vol 2: pp 363-372.



Tags: Personal Weight Loss, Diet and Nutrition, Dr. Neiman, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Personal Trainers, Fitness, Noelle Lusardi, group excercise classes, muscle conditioning classes, diet to lose weight, exercise classes, Step Ahead Wellness Center


Posted by deborah neiman on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:17 PM

Wednesday is “GIVE-AWAY” DAY at Step Ahead!



popcorn resized 600


Come in for a weigh-in, personal training session, or check
in with the Doctor and Registered Dietitian and leave with these

Step Ahead Customized 100 calorie packs.
Enjoy only 65 calories of veggie sticks and 35 calories of popcorn for a delicious 100 calorie snack!

Call Erica at 908-440-2235 to schedule your appointment. 

 Don’t delay… offer is good for today only and while supplies last.

We hope to see you today!!


For more information on all the weight loss programs we
offer, visit us at

Tags: Exercise, diet, HEALTHY DIET SHORTCUTS, Diet and Nutrition, healthy eating, Dr. Neiman, summer weight loss, Doctor Supervised Weight Loss, Fitness, Healthy, just 100 calories, Doctor, weight loss goals, diet to lose weight, lose weight in 2014, health, Weight Loss Center, giveaway day, wellness, healthy entertaining, 100 calorie snack