Friday, March 30, 2012

Losing Weight without Losing Inches in the Breasts and Buttocks...

I have loss about 17 pounds in the last 3 months and my biggest problem right now is that all my bras seem to be too big. Sadly, whenever I lose weight, the first thing to go is inches off my breasts.
I have certain women friends who have been concerned with losing weight and inches because they did not want to lose it in certain areas (i.e., breasts, buttocks, hips). This may be compared to “spot reduction” where people SEEK TO lose weight in a certain spot on the body (i.e., “I need to get rid of these flabby arms,” or, “I want to work on losing weight on my thunder thighs”). In the case of NOT wanting to lose weight in certain spots, this may be referred to as “spot maintenance.”
In over a decade of education and training in the health, nutrition, and even fitness arena, what I have learned is that all of our bodies are different in their methods of operation in regards to weight loss, so it is very difficult to tell a person how “NOT TO” lose weight in a certain area of the body when they are trying to lose weight. However, many women (and men) admire certain areas of their bodies and want to keep them in tact, but know they need to lose weight all over for health reasons. What to do?
My biggest advice for the person who wants to maintain certain spots on the body while losing weight is to use exercise workouts to tone the area you don’t want to lose. This way, you may still lose weight in that area, but it will still look great as it may be smaller but properly formed, toned, and proportioned with your smaller body. The biggest way to do this would be to limit the cardio workouts (not eliminate), and focus on strength training to tone key areas. For the buttocks and thighs, toning exercises that work well include the infamous squats and lunges. For the breast area, push-ups and even chest flys work well to maintain breast tone and size.
Now toning alone will not help you maintain your shapely form if you are not eating healthy. Your diet should also be altered. As is in most posts, my advice is for you to limit the fat, salt, and sugar in the diet, and increase your water intake. If you are committed to losing weight, but want to keep and build muscle on certain areas of the body, along with the strength training, increase your protein intake by eating lean meats like chicken, fish, and turkey (decrease the red meat). Even eating 3-4 turkey slices as a snack a couple of times a day can help increase your protein intake in conjunction with the protein you consume during your normal meals.
I hope this was helpful. Until next time…
-Jenelle N. Robinson

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Church Refreshments...

Recently, I went to a church program event where refreshments were served. The refreshments included a wonderful array of foods. There were crackers, tuna salad, deli meats, rolls, a variety of cheeses, fruit kabobs, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, and other veggies, and then a plethora of desserts including cakes, cookies, and chocolate candies. There was also some sort of pretty punch available. Since I had already eaten, I only ate a couple of fruit kabobs, strawberries, and some carrots, along with a bottled water (I take one bottled water with me wherever I go). As you may be able to surmise from my description of the refreshments, it was not all bad food. As a matter of fact, there were several healthy options available. My problem came when I saw how the people were filling their plates. I saw plates overflowing with that could last them two or three meals. I could estimate close to 600-1000 calories on some of their plates. I couldn’t understand why one person would need to have 3 cookies, a piece of cake, and several chocolate candies on their plate. I didn’t understand why a person would need to have several pieces of deli meat (not the kind you buy in small packages, but the kind you get thickly sliced straight from the deli), along with a couple of rolls, in addition to a plate full of other foods. Now, I could take this from a spiritual point of view and take a look at the sin of gluttony that “church people” so often overlook, however, I won’t take that route upon today. A better way to look at this, especially since I am not one to stand in judgment of another (I try not to be), is, “why would a person feel like they have to put so much food on their plate?” Here are my top 5 reasons as to why many may put so much food on their plates when they are at an event (especially a church event):

1.       The food is free. Whenever we hear the word free, or know that something is free, we often take advantage of that. But one thing I have learned when it comes to food, though the food may be free, you also will get free extra calories on your body that you may not need. When it is free, only get what you need.

2.       The person is hungry. Now this is a viable reason to eat. When you are hungry, you seek to satisfy your hunger. But it is definitely not a viable reason to overeat. Eat enough to satisfy the hunger.

3.       It is socially acceptable. Everybody else is doing it, so why not me? If everybody else jumped off a cliff would you jump too? YOU BE THE LEADER INSTEAD OF LETTING OTHERS MAKE YOU A FOLLOWER.

4.       The food looks so good! I will admit, when I looked at the beautiful array of food that was presented, I was tempted to get a little bit of everything too. That is the temptation of food. Especially if it is free, we feel like we will miss out if we don’t try a little bit of everything. But a little bit of everything turns into a big amount of food.

5.       You had a small breakfast and lunch just so you decided you would “eat good” at this event. This is not a bad idea. Granted, one meal full of sugar (as might be the case in this meal) may spike your blood sugar up, however, cutting back on other meals so that you can eat more food at dinner is not a horrible idea. But you still need to make sure you don’t overeat.

Now there may be other reasons people put a lot of food on their plates when they are at an event.  There may truly be people who eat a lot because they know they are not going to eat another meal for a while. These are not the people I am talking to in this blog. This blog is mainly for those of us that have a problem with social eating. The main principles you should receive from this post is that when you are at a social event, be wise with your eating. Just because it is free and looks good and everyone else is eating a lot does not mean you have to. If anything, be the example. Show others that you can eat a balanced meal that satisfies your hunger, even when you are at an event that serves good food. Now this is not a “deprivation mentality.” I want you to enjoy food. I believe you should eat some things you like and enjoy them. I just believe everything (concerning food) should be done in moderation. I hope this post has been helpful. Until next time…

-Jenelle N. Robinson

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Preventing Cancer...

Chances are, you know someone who has died of cancer or currently has cancer. I have had several in my family to die of cancer. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide accounting for 7.8 million deaths in 2008. In addition, the American Cancer Society (2012) suggests that half of all men, and a third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

By definition, cancer is a general term for a group of diseases in which abnormal cells in the body begin to multiply out of control.  Cancer cells often spread to other parts of the body, but no matter where they are spread, the cancer is named based on where it started (i.e., breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer).

This blog is not about how to treat or even find out if you have cancer, but more so about how we can decrease our risk of getting cancer. I have provided a lot of information in my blogs about healthy eating habits that all play a role in decreasing the risk of getting cancer. I have also made sure to make special emphasis on fruits and vegetables and how they protect our bodies from diseases including cancer. What I have not done is tell you how exactly the nutrients in food work to protect us from disease. So I will attempt to “simply” explain how certain nutrients may help decrease our cancer risk.

1.   Pro-Vitamin A compounds decrease the risk of the development of epithelial cancers (lung, bladder, mouth, cervix, and larynx). The best source is beta carotene which can be found in most kinds of greens, carrots, cabbage, and pumpkin.

2.   Vitamin C is a nitrite scavenger. This means that it looks to eliminate cancer causing agents within the body. The best sources for Vitamin C may include citrus, strawberries, kiwi, potatoes, cabbage, and green peppers.

3.   Vitamin E is a free radical scavenger. This means that it looks to get rid of free radicals in the body that could do damage to DNA (our genetic map) in the body leading to cancer. Good sources of Vitamin E include vegetable oil and nuts.

4.   Low intakes of folate have been associated with increased risk of cancer. Folate is involved in the making, functioning and repairing of DNA. Not having enough folate may result in damage to the DNA that may lead to cancer. Most grains are fortified with folate. However, other good natural sources of folate include spinach, broccoli, dark green lettuce, and orange juice.

5.   Resveratrol has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in animals by affecting cancer development.  Resveratrol can be found in red wine, grapes, and raspberries.

 I hope this information has been helpful in showing you the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and their protective risk concerning cancer. Until next time…


American Cancer Society. Retrieved March 15, 2012 from

Cancer Fact Sheet. Retrieved March  15, 2012 from
Schlenker, E., Roth, S. (2011). Williams’ Essentials of Nutrition and Diet Therapy, 10th Edition. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

 Stanfield, P., & Hui, Y.H. (2010).  Nutrition and Diet Therapy: Self Instructional Approaches, 5th Edition. Sandbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Over the past 4-5 days, three significant events have occurred in my life….

1.       Sunday, March 4th, I ran in the Little Rock Half Marathon (13.1 miles).  This was my 6th half marathon that I have run in. This race was not easy for me as I was having “female issues” (ladies, you know what I am talking about).  I actually started out pretty fast in the race for the first six miles, but slowed down around mile seven. It was up and down from mile seven to mile 13.1. But I ENDURED that 13.1 miles for 2 hours and 19 minutes and finished, receiving a pretty silver and purple metal.

2.       The second significant thing that happened for me is that I stepped on the scale on Tuesday, March 6th, and saw that I have lost 13 pounds since January. This is huge for me as I had been struggling with trying to lose weight for at least a year. But I have to admit, Weight Watchers is a wonderful program. This is the program I have been doing since January (in addition to intense training to run in the half marathon).  The difference in this program is that weight loss is slow. I didn’t like that at first. Some weeks I only loss .2-.6 pounds. Other weeks , I loss 1-2 pounds. This is actually the healthiest way to lose weight, but it takes ENDURANCE; because it is difficult to keep going when you are not seeing immediate results. But I will keep going through this process. I have 7 more pounds I want to lose. I am so close, so I will continue to ENDURE. In all honesty, my biggest goal is not to just lose the weight. My biggest goal is to maintain the weight loss. That will be the biggest challenge, but I believe I am finally up for it because I know how to ENDURE...

3.       The last significant thing that occurred yesterday (March 7th) was that after close to three years of coursework, oral and written examinations, teaching 8 weeks of a nutrition education intervention, writing a 214 page doctoral dissertation, and defending the dissertation in front of my committee yesterday, I PASSED IT! I ENDURED close to three years of this process. This was one of the biggest challenges of my life. It caused more anxiety than almost anything I have ever experienced. But I passed it…by the grace of God. I will be graduating May 11th, with a PhD in nutrition. I ENDURED and finished well.

In all three of these situations, it took training, and most importantly, endurance, which we may also term patience (read Heady’s blog on patience (it is really good) ). I had to train my mind and body for each situation. I had to have patience to endure the process, whether it was the 6 months of training I did before the half marathon, the 2 hours and 19 minutes in the half marathon, the 3 years of doctorate work, and the two months of Weight Watchers. In each situation, the time was different, but the principle was the same. I had to wait and endure the process, knowing that the end result would come soon. If you keep these principles in mind, you will not be so quick to quit when you don’t immediately see results in different areas of your life. In areas of your life like even weight loss and moving towards a healthy lifestyle, change does not come overnight. There is a process, and the key is that you ENDURE….

Until next time….

-Jenelle N. Robinson

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Decrease the SALT, SUGAR, AND FAT!!!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all Americans. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and being obese are three major risk factors for heart disease. Close to 9% of American adults have diabete; 30% have high blood pressure; and about 64% are considered overweight or obese. These simple stats reveal health outcomes that are related to dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle.  In order to decrease the prevalence of these diseases, we have to make dietary modifications and increase our physical activity. To increase our physical activity, we have to do more than what we have been doing. If you don’t exercise, START. It is as simple as that. Your goal should be AT LEAST 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. No matter if you consider yourself skinny, fat, healthy, or unhealthy, this is the bare minimum that ANYBODY should be doing. As Michelle Obama says, “Let’s Move!”
As for dietary modifications, simple modifications in the areas of sugar, sodium, and fat may do wonders to your health. Here are 6 simple ways to practice behavior modification in these areas:
1.     Limit the kool-aid and sweet tea. Oftentimes, when people make kool-aid and sweet tea, they put cups and cups of sugar in it. Unless it is the sugar free kinds of kool-aid or tea (which is still suspect), put less sugar in it, or choose water instead.
2.     Limit the soft drinks…especially if you are going out to eat where you usually get 3-4 refills. There is a lot of sugar in soft drinks so opt for a sugar-free beverage (suspect) or water instead. If you feel you must have a soft drink, have no more than 8-12 ounces a day (or every couple of days).
3.     Do not immediately put salt on everything you eat, especially if you are out to eat. There is already a nice amount of salt (sodium) in your food, especially if you are out to eat. Do not add to it by immediately dousing your food with salt. Taste the food first. If you feel like it needs a bit more seasoning, a couple of shakes will do.
4.     Use Mrs. Dash when cooking. Many people cook using salt and seasoning salts that have a lot of sodium. Mrs. Dash has seasonings that are salt free. You can find great recipes using Mrs. Dash seasonings at
5.     Only use a teaspoon of butter to coat your bread. Many use a tablespoon or more. Seeing as though many people eat bread several times a day as they feel they have to have it with every meal, that is a lot of butter. If you must have butter on your bread, use as less as possible as butter contains a lot of fat.
6.     No cheese or mayo on the burger. Or no cheese or mayo on whatever you usually put it on. Cheese and mayo contribute a nice amount of extra fat to your meal, so if you can lessen the fat some way, this would be a good way.

Until next time…

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Retrieved March 1, 2012 from