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February 21, 2012

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 8:40 am

Pregnant or not, regular exercise is crucial for good health. Exercise is good, but moving more matters, as being sedentary is considered a risk factor for chronic conditions, including cancer and heart disease.

Here’s the latest on how important it is to move around throughout the day in addition to getting a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week - that’s at least 30 minutes on most days.

February 17, 2012

Don’t Worry Mom: No Arsenic in Baby Formula

Filed under: General Information — Tags: , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 1:31 pm

A new study from Darmouth College has found arsenic in products that contain organic brown rice syrup, including cereal bars, energy shots, and toddler formulas, but NOT infant formula.

Unfortunately, many news stories have wrongly reported that infant formula contains high levels of arsenic, which may hamper the development of a child’s brain and nervous function. Erroneous reports have lumped all the formulas tested into the infant formula category when, in fact, toddler formulas are meant for children over the age of 12 months. Infants are children who are 12 months or younger.

Infant formula ingredients are tightly controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Organic brown rice syrup is not authorized for use in infant formula, according to the FDA.

Mom, there is no need to worry about infant formula. In fact, a 2011 study of arsenic in powdered infant formula found that the maximum levels are at least six times lower than the maximums for drinking water established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

So what did the Dartmouth study reveal? High levels of arsenic in two TODDLER formulas that had contained organic brown rice syrup, the source of arsenic in the cereal bars and energy shots.

Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Toddler Formula and Baby’s Only Organic Soy Toddler Formula, made by the Nature’s One company, contained arsenic levels that were far above the limits set by the EPA for drinking water.

Organic brown rice syrup is used as a sweetener, often in place of high fructose corn syrup. Organic brown rice syrup supplies concentrated levels of arsenic, which is found in water, air, food, and soil as a naturally occurring substance or due to contamination from human activity. You cannot completely avoid arsenic.

Why organic brown rice syrup is allowed as an ingredient in toddler formulas, and in other foods, is beyond me. But that’s another matter.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about infant formula. It’s safe to feed to your baby.

By the way, here’s one story that accurately reported what the Dartmouth study found. Kudos, WebMD!

February 14, 2012

Me, Mrs. Obama, and the WebMD Town Hall on Raising Fit Kids

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 6:24 pm

I had the thrill of a lifetime last Friday when I moderated a WebMD Town Hall in front of a live audience of kids and their parents in Homestead, Florida. The event marked the second anniversary of the Let’s Move campaign, which is designed to help families move more and eat better.

Here’s a picture.

Sharing a laugh before the WebMD Town Hall begins.

Sharing a laugh before the WebMD Town Hall begins.

If you don’t have time to watch the entire 45-minute program, here’s a written excerpt of one my favorite questions and answers. It just goes to show that even people at the top struggle to fit in exercise. That’s a good lesson for new moms and moms to be who are juggling their needs with their family’s.

Question: A WebMD user asks, “I have watched the first lady exercise, and I’m always watching her husband working under pressure. Their bodies have maintained their weight and are healthy. My question is, how are they balancing time, diet, exercise, and stress, and sleep, and everything else that goes along with the healthy lifestyle?” Answer:

Mrs. Obama: Well, it’s just prioritizing what’s important, and there are some sacrifices. Sometimes sleep gets sacrificed, getting up early to get your workout in. But, you know, what I tell my girlfriends who are, you know, struggling, we’re all the same age and everybody’s wondering how to keep my weight down, the secret is good diet and exercise. Sorry. It just, it is. I know, everybody’s looking for the magic pill, but it is. But the thing is, and I tell a lot of my friends this, you have to give it some time. It’s just like kids with vegetables. If you go into the gym and walk on the treadmill and it hurts, you can’t give up because it will feel better. It will gradually, just like kids with vegetables, you will build up your endurance, and if you give yourself some time, six weeks, eight weeks, you’re going to feel better doing the workout, and then you’re going to start seeing results, and then your ego’s going to come in. You got that dress size going down, and then it makes it a little ‑‑ you get a little more incentive to get back on the treadmill. But it takes some time to build up endurance, especially if you’re going from doing nothing to doing something. And it can be walking. It can be walking fast. It can be walking on a little bit of an incline. It can be jumping rope. It can be dancing with your kids. I mean, it doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be something that you enjoy and know that you can’t give up on it, and you’re just thinking every day, if I just do a little bit, the next day, if I can just do it, the next week, if I can do a little more. You know, don’t feel like you’ve got to take these huge chunks, you know, you have to go from zero to doing 25 pushups on Ellen. You don’t have to be there to get ‑‑ to get the kind of benefit that you need. And eventually, your body will ask for it. So what happens with the president and I is that exercise is a de-stressor. It is the thing that just keeps you calm. So now you need it, right. So the president works out because he needs to work out. He’s got to blow off that steam. He’s got to sweat a little bit. He’s got to use that so that he can, you know, sleep at night. It becomes a necessary tool just for getting through. And we’re encouraging our girls to start early with exercise. You know, just making sure that they’ve got some routine, some sport that they do, because what I don’t want is my girls to grow up like many girls grow up, thinking that sweating isn’t cute. You know, that girls shouldn’t be on teams and learn how to fall and to compete. You know, sometimes we do that to our young girls, particularly. So I think we, as women in particular, have to be that role model for our girls especially. So when I get on the treadmill and my girls see me, I make sure they know mommy is tired. Mommy doesn’t want to work out. I would rather go back to bed, but after you go to school, I’m going up to the gym because it’s good for me and I’ll feel better once I’m done. So if you just get over that hump, just do it, and eventually just know it’s going to feel better. I promise you, so ‑‑

Elizabeth Ward: Sometimes just putting your exercise clothes on, it gets you motivated.

Mrs. Obama: That’s another thing I do in the evening. I told friends to do this: When you come home from work, put on your workout clothes. Put your gym shoes on. Do not put on your pajamas. Do not pass go. You know, because if you have the clothes on already, you’re more likely ‑‑ it’s just the notion of taking your clothes off and putting something else back on, right? Nobody wants to do that. But if you start out, and my trainer always tells me that working out early is the best thing, but not everybody can do that. If you get it out of the way then nothing gets in the way of your day, it doesn’t interfere with anything. You get up, you do it first thing. That’s why I work out in the morning, because I never know what my day is going to look like.

Kathleen Zelman: And I would add that you don’t have to do it all at once. I mean, if you’re really busy and your schedule doesn’t allow for it, increments, 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, strap on a pedometer. Fit it into your day is another way to be active and move.