Friday Free for All – Heart Health


I did cook this week but I did not try any new recipes, so in lieu of a Fit Hits the Pan post I will share some info to wrap up Heart Month! Did you know the #1 killer in the United States is Cardiovascular Disease? By controlling diet and getting active, this disease can be prevented. Here are some stats from The American Heart Association:

  • From 1999-2009, the death rate from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) declined by 33%
  • CVD takes the lives of more than 2,150 American each day
  • Less than 1% of U.S. adults meet the definition for “Ideal Healthy Diet”, essentially no children meet the goal.
  • 32 million adults have total serum cholesterol levels >240
  • An estimated 78 million adults are hypertensive (high blood pressure)

(Source: 2012, American Heart Association)

Heart Disease – Several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow and creating risk for heart attack or stroke.

Steps you can take!

  1. Avoid Processed Foods – Processed foods range from minimally processed (bagged spinach, pre-cut vegetables, frozen vegetables) to highly processed (frozen dinners, frozen pizzas). Not all processed foods are bad but you should avoid any foods that are moderately to highly processed.
  2. Avoid Sodium – 90% of Americans age 2 and older eat too much sodium¹. It is everywhere, often hidden in foods that appear healthy like tomato sauces, canned vegetables, or pre-made salads. Do your homework! Be sure to read labels and nutrition information at your favorite restaurants. The recommended daily intake for a healthy adult is 1500-2000 mg².
  3. Know Your Fats – Limit your saturated fats and cholesterol avoid trans fats. Stick to oils with unsaturated fats like canola, olive and avocado. Oils that are liquid at room temperature are best. Remember to use any oil in moderation! There are a number of healthier substitutes for baking and cooking.
  4. Add Variety to Your Diet – Consume a diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein.
  5. Hydrate  – Drink at least 8 – 8 oz glasses of water per day. Water keeps you hydrated and cleans the toxins out of your cells.
  6. Exercise  – Get active! At a minimum, commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times per week.


¹Center for Disease Control and Prevention,, 2012
²American Heart Association,, 2014




The Social Media Illusion

Reception (170)

Today is my second wedding anniversary and as I was writing my ode to my husband on Facebook (it’s not real unless it’s on Facebook, right?), it occurred to me that a follow-up message may need to be posted. My husband and I have a great marriage but it is not without its ups and downs. If you saw our lives on Facebook, you wouldn’t know about of our personal or familial struggles but I promise they are there. Behind the smiles and laughter there has also been heartache, financial struggles, family feuds and all other sorts of everyday hurdles any marriage faces, but no one sees those posts.

Social media websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Instagram give our followers a glimpse into the world we want them to see. There are those people who feel the need to air every dirty family secret to their cyber friends and family and that is ok; I see it as a new type of web-based counseling session, but that’s not for me. In my selective posts, I control what people see and know about my life.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a great life and are blessed beyond measure. However, it is also important to share our struggles, especially with other women. I am certain there are a number of women with whom I am friends on Facebook and off whose marriages are struggling, they can’t pay their bills, their children are in trouble or their family is in turmoil. Let’s make an effort to reach out to people privately whose posts we see everyday. Underneath their unexplained silence or the cryptic digital postcards, some of them may truly be hurting and need prayer or a friend.

We have been given a gift in social media that we can reach an immeasurable amount of people all over the world instantly. Why not use that power for good and be an ear to those who are hurting? You may have gone through a similar experience and be able to shed some light in their dark world.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Skinny Pumpkin Energy Bites

Happy Friday! This weekend, we have a huge race in the Tampa area called Gasparilla. It is part of a two month-long celebration of the fictitious pirate invasion of our fair city. In reality, it is an excuse for a bunch of adults to get drunk and party 🙂 I have not participated in the revelry in many years, but I do run the race almost every year. We are doing the 15K tomorrow!

I know Fall is over and we are heading into spring, but I will ask that you bear with me as I share one more pumpkin recipe with you! I made these for a talk I gave at Nutrition Smart on Heart Healthy Nutrition. They were a huge hit! Almost every ingredient is good for your heart health!

Oatmeal (steel cut) – soluble fiber, helps lower cholesterol
Pumpkin puree – 7 grams of fiber per cup
Wheat germ – high in fiber, no cholesterol, contains phytosterols that can help lower cholesterol
Honey – can lower risk of heart disease
Cinnamon – anti-inflammatory

Skinny Pumpkin Energy Bites
by Shugary Sweets
Nutritional Info
85 calories, 2g fat, 10g sugar, 16mg carbs, 0mg cholesterol


  • 1 cup steel cut oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate morsels


  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until completely combined, Scoop into one inch balls. Store in refrigerator in airtight container.

How much is too much?

Anyone who knows me knows I love NBC’s weight-loss reality show Biggest Loser! There are a number of annoying caveats to the show that I am forced to ignore like the well-placed commercials for the show’s sponsors like Brita and Jennie-O. Aside from that, I think the show has merit. America is FAT! Not just a little overweight but morbidly obese. According to the American Heart Association, 154.7 million Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Since the show’s debut in 2004, contestants have lost tons (literally) of weight. Not to mention, the viewers who have participated in the at-home challenges. The idea of a show that promotes a healthy lifestyle and gives people hope is my choice over teen mom’s or overweight child beauty pageant contestants any day.

There have been years of criticism regarding the over-the-top training methods. However, numbers don’t lie. Contestants lose body fat and gain muscle and they get their lives back. Not all of the contestants maintain the weight loss and they have had several return for additional assistance from the trainers but overall, they find a new appreciation for life and good health.


We were all shocked when this season’s winner, Rachel walked out from behind the curtain at a scary 105 pounds. After losing 60% of her body weight, the trainers were floored and albeit a little freaked out when they saw her. The main thing that kept drawing my attention was her face; she appeared gaunt and unhealthy. According to several of the articles I read, people were criticizing the show for not paying attention to the off-camera habits of the contestants and allowing for unhealthy practices. I have watched almost all 15 seasons of this show and I have never seen anyone go to that extreme. Perhaps Rachel’s circumstances were an anomaly? Perhaps she had previous issues with eating disorders that reappeared during the show? Bottom line is that she was under a doctor’s care the entire time and they did not see an issue with her weight. Even if they did, they cannot make her eat more or exercise less.

Critics will use this one instance to bash the show, however I hope that people will continue to see the show as a positive light in the negative realm of reality television shows. 

What do you think? Do you think Rachel went to far? Do you think the show is responsible or does this point to the personal responsibility of the contestants?