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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 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.

January 24, 2012

Infant Feeding Choices: No Guilt Necessary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 11:22 am

As a health professional, I recommend breastfeeding as the gold standard of infant nutrition. When mom is well-nourished, breast milk offers top notch nutrition for her baby.

I’m also a mother, and, out of necessity, I am practical.

I know that breastfeeding isn’t right for every family, which is why it’s important for moms to feel confident about their infant feeding decision, which may including using infant formula.

Unfortunately, baby formula is a source for much maternal angst.

According to a study of 1,900 expectant first-time moms and those with kids one year old and younger, more than 40% of them feel guilty about using formula instead of breastfeeding, which may be why so many of them say that they’re willing to overspend on formula. Sixty-eight percent (68%) believe a heftier price tag for formula means that it’s a better quality product than store brands, such as those sold by Target and Walgreens.

That’s not true.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, all formula marketed in the U.S. must meet the same nutrient specifications, which are set at levels to fulfill the needs of infants. You’re not paying more for better quality; you’re paying more – up to $600.00 a year - for national brand packaging and advertising.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding for one year, or longer. But the reality is that more than 80% of moms use infant formula exclusively until solid foods are introduced or they supplement with formula within the first six months of lfie.

I fed my three kids breast milk and infant formula, sometimes on the same day. At the time, I was working outside the home and the breast/bottle strategy made the most sense.

Feeling guilty about what you feed your baby is a heavy burden that no mom should bear. Maybe you wanted to nurse your child and it just didn’t work out. Perhaps you planned not to breastfeed. Whatever your choice, nobody has the right to make you feel bad about it. As long as it’s safe, always do what’s best for you and your family.

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