March 2017 E-Newsletter

Friday, March 31, 2017

On average, individuals with severe mental health disorders or developmental disabilities have a shortened life expectancy of 25 years compared to the general population. This is often related to lifestyle, low socioeconomic status, side effects of medications, and lack of access to proper healthcare. Many suffer from diabetes, heart conditions and obesity.

Continuum's Health and Wellness Department provides individual and group consultation, nutrition education, and fitness activities for our residents and to 7 other behavioral health agencies in the Greater New Haven area to increase their awareness and improve their lifestyle. 

To recognize National Nutrition Month, here are some tips from Health and Wellness team that you might find useful.

The Risk of Belly Fat, and Ways to Lose It!

One question we often get as wellness professionals is, “How can I get a six pack?” Many folks want to get rid of excess belly fat, or love handles (that we really don’t love at all), and want a quick ab workout in order to spot reduce stomach fat. 

Abdominal fat can often be the most difficult and stubborn area when it comes to weight loss, especially that last 5-10 pounds a person is trying to shed. The simple fact is, six pack abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.  

The secret, which is really not a secret at all, is a clean, balanced diet, consistent workouts that include cardio and strength, proper hydration, and restorative sleep. Unfortunately, this simple solution can often be very difficult to maintain. An active lifestyle fueled by clean and healthy eating can prove to be tough between school, family, work, and the daily hustle. 

More than just a threat to your GQ career, abdominal fat increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, insulin resistance, stroke, and respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, sleep apnea, and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Belly fat also raises inflammatory cytokines in the body which increase the risk of colon, esophageal and pancreatic cancers according to the American Cancer Society (2016).

A simple tape measure can tell you if your belly fat is placing you at risk. 

  • For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more can be cause for concern.
  • For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more could spell trouble.

A few simple suggestions to help you slim down your abdominal area area:

  1. Cut out sodas, even diet soda, and fruit juices. Diet sodas have harmful chemicals that increase the inflammation in your body making weight loss basically impossible, and sugary drinks in general can cause deep belly fat, which surrounds your vital organs. 
  2. Drink water – it can boost your ability to burn fat. Studies have shown that drinking water increases your metabolic rate by 30 percent.
  3. Eat your veggies!! A great benefit of vegetables is that they can fill you up with fewer calories and also promote weight loss by being rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, some of which can help increase your body’s ability to burn fat. 
  4. Go natural, organic, and non-GMO. Genetically modified (GMO) foods are less rich in fat-blasting nutrients. 
  5. Exercise! It can be as simple as taking the stairs, parking far away from your work building, and taking a walk before or after dinner.  Exercise can increase your metabolism, help to release stress, and burn off calories.
  6. Go to sleep! Lack of sleep can cause your metabolism to not work properly and lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other serious health issues. Follow a sleep schedule, even on your days off.
  7. Keep your cool and stay calm. Stress triggers a cascade of chemical reactions and  can cause inflammation and storage of more fat. Meditation and yoga are great ways to decrease stress and the associated reactions in the body.

Lastly, you have to have a greater why, than ‘why not.’ Find the reason you are working on this issue and keep that in focus. Find a support system from your co-workers, spouse/partner, or children to help you reach that goal and maintain it! The wellness team is always willing to help, and remember we offer weekly boot camps and yoga classes that anyone can attend. I challenge you to put the work in, and watch life open up to you in ways you can’t imagine. 

Down Six Sizes and Living Healthier

Every morning, for years, Patricia would wake up to sharp burning pain in her feet.   

Her diet of sugary sodas and juices caused blood sugar levels to spike and damaged the nerve fibers in her feet, a common symptom of diabetes.

Patricia’s diabetes was just one of many concerns. Daily, she deals with asthma, high blood pressure, and severe arthritis. Ever since giving birth over 20 years ago, Patricia struggles with excess weight. To compound her physical challenges, she suffered a terrible injury at work that severed the tendons in her foot and left her disabled for life. With limited mobility, she packed on more pounds. At her heaviest, she weighed nearly 350 pounds.

Food has been Patricia’s nemesis. She had bad eating habits. Starchy foods like rice and potatoes were her weakness, and soda and juice were her beverages of choice. It didn’t help that, being the daughter of a chef, she could cook and bake anything under the sun – and not the delicacies that necessarily foster good health.

She needed to make a change. Her quality of life depended on it.

Being a resident of Crawford Manor – a senior/disabled high-rise development out of which Continuum operates a program in collaboration with the Housing Authority of New Haven – gave her access to services from Continuum’s Health and Wellness Team. 

She weighed about 300 pounds when she started working with a Health and Wellness Specialist on nutrition plans and workouts modified for her disability, like step aerobics and muscle strengthening exercises with free weights.

After just a couple months, she has lost nearly 30 pounds.

Working with the Health and Wellness Department gave her a more balanced attitude towards healthful eating than she had during the 20 years she struggled with her weight, on and off crash diets.

“It’s not about dieting. It’s about life choices. Instead of saying I’m dieting, I say I’m trying to live -- live a healthier life,” she shares.

Patricia’s new healthier lifestyle means a commitment to working out several times a week as well as to all sorts of dietary changes – she credits her weight loss mainly to the latter. She bakes and grills food instead of frying, eats baked vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots instead of regular potatoes (no more French fries), and substitutes ground cauliflower for rice. Nuts like almonds and pistachios are a staple in her diet and she loves to mix walnuts with dried cranberries and apple slices in her salads. She often eats steamed fish like salmon with vegetables. Patricia avoids salt as much as possible, using other seasonings like fresh garlic and black pepper to flavor her dishes. Her new beverage of choice is water.

The effects of Patricia’s weight loss go beyond her outward appearance – although she is excited to have gone down to a size 18 from a 24. Her diet makes her feel so much better. She has more energy and no longer feels sluggish and tired.  The daily pain in her feet has lessened because her blood sugar levels stay in a good range. She doesn’t have to use her inhaler as much anymore and her blood pressure has lowered.

Even better, her weight loss has improved her mobility as there is less strain on her hips and ankles. Patricia’s current goal is to get her weight down to under 200 pounds. 

Patricia says, “I recommend Continuum to anyone because they are positive role models and they really show an interest in you. They will help you to reach your goals in whatever you want to do.”

Patricia’s Fast Fillets & Simply Steamed Cauliflower Recipe

This healthy meal is super easy and fast to make and is loaded with omega-3s, protein, anti-inflammatory compounds, and antioxidants that help ward off cancer, heart disease, brain disease, and weight gain. 

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Onion, 1/2 cup chopped
Fresh basil
Lemon, thinly sliced
3 6oz. Salmon fillets

Directions for Cauliflower
Bring 1-2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a pot
Put cauliflower florets in steamer basket, place the basket over the boiling water, cover and steam
As the cauliflower is steaming, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle black pepper and a pinch of garlic over the florets
Steam for about 5-7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender with a little crunch
Nutritional information per 1 cup serving of cauliflower: Calories: 28 Fat: 0g Protein: 2g Carbs: 5g Sugar: 2g Sodium: 30g

Directions for Salmon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place salmon fillets in aluminum foil boat
Place a thin coat of olive oil on the fillets and season them with black pepper, garlic, onion, fresh basil; place lemon slices on top of the fillets 
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the fillets are moist and flaky
Nutritional information per 6 oz. serving of salmon: Calories: 300 Fat: 15g Protein: 36g Carbs: 0g Sugar: 0g Sodium: 200g

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