Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category


United States farm subsidies (source ewg.org)

United States farm subsidies (source ewg.org) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I’ve heard that U.S. government farm subsidies are contributing to obesity and poor nutrition from many sources.  I thought I’d look into it and see what I could dig up. What I found surprised me. In his article in Environmental Health Perspectives, The Fat of the Land: Do Agricultural Subsidies Foster Poor Health?, Scott Fields writes that while farm subsidies for corn, soy and wheat are the norm, eliminating these subsidies likely would not result in much change in our health nor in the price of these products. (So why do we keep subsidizing them?)

HOWEVER, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture really wanted to help us out and eat healthier, experts recommend they channel those subsidies into production of fresh fruit and vegetables to encourage farmers to grow more of these more difficult to manage crops. (Apparently growing corn, wheat and soy is much easier than growing say broccoli, apples or kale.)

The relationship between farm subsidies and obesity is not clear to all. But the basic idea is that as sugary, fatty food is cheaper, people buy more of it and eat more of it. Can you image how tempted you’d be by a bag of chips if they cost $40!
Read the full  article here.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

One of the frustrations I hear from clients is how to get enough veggies into a daily diet when you are on the go and don’t have time or an appetite to eat breakfast. Eating wraps with lettuce, cukes and red onions is one way. Eating salads, of course is great when you have time. But for that early morning pick me up or when you don’t have time to eat a full meal, I suggest you try Orgain.


Orgain is a meal replacement drink that tastes like a milkshake but includes veggie juices, is low sugar and low-fat and is packed with protein! It comes in 3 flavors: Creamy Chocolate Fudge, Sweet Vanilla Bean and  Iced Cafe Mocha.  Fat is only 7 grams for Vanilla and Fudge.

From the product website-more factoids about Orgain:

Organic Ready-to-Drink Nutritional Shake
– USDA Certified Organic
– 16 grams of Organic Whey Protein
– Organic Complex Carbohydrates from Brown Rice
– Omega 3 Fatty Acids from DHA
– Organic blueberries, bananas, acai berry, apple and raspberry
– Organic kale, beets, spinach, carrots, tomatoes
– Organic Pomegranate and Green Tea Extracts
– 24 Vitamins and Minerals
– Antioxidant equivalent to 10 servings of fruits and veggies per serving
– Lightly sweetened with Organic Brown Rice Syrup and Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (only 13 grams of sugar per drink)
– No caffeine, preservatives, gluten, corn syrup, saturated fat, hormones or antibiotics!

You can buy it at Whole Foods Market for about $3.50 per drink or by the case at Amazon here for about $33 for 12.

Orgain was founded by a practicing medical doctor and cancer survivor, Dr. Andrew Abraham. Read his story and the story of Orgain here. (Click on About Us and Founder.) Orgain also donates a share of the proceeds to people struggling with cancer that don’t have the funds to afford adequate nutritional or medical care.

I say, “Thank you Dr. Abraham and thank you Orgain!”

Note: I have absolutely no affiliation with Orgain now does my company, Working Well Massage. I just think it’s a great product and I buy it for my boyfriend and friends!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

US Navy 050203-N-4729H-005 Navy Delayed Entry ...

Image via Wikipedia

For anyone that’s ever dieted or struggled to keep excess fat off, you know that conventional wisdom (increase activity, decrease calories) has tended to recommend very caloric intake for losing weight. But living on super low-calorie diets is not only not sustainable int he long-term, but it’s very difficult to maintain even for short-term results. Now scientist shave found the way to lose weight is not as strict and severe as we once thought! And the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has produced a wonderful new tool that allows you to more accurately estimate how many calories you need to consume and how you need to adjust your activity level to lose unwanted fat. This tool is called the Body Weight Simulator and is accessible here.

To use the Body Weight Simulator, you need to enter your Base Weight, your activity level and your age and height. The tool does the rest, providing you with an estimate of the number of calories you need to reduce each day to lose weight for the short-term as well as the number of calories you need to reduce to maintain the loss for the long-term. I tried the simulator myself and the number of calories I’d need to cut to lose 10 pounds in 6 months is just much smaller than most diet plans would have me reduce. (About 270 per day versus 500-1000 calories per day.)

The tool also provides graphs and charts that show the progression of weight loss, body fat % change, and activity level change.  Try it yourself and see how reasonable the new calorie goals and activity levels can be for your own fat loss plan!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I recently learned about a really exciting project in Chicago called The Plant where sustainability meets urban farming and small businesses. According to the website, The Plant is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable food production, entrepreneurial businesses, and building reuse through education, research and development.  Plant Chicago took a 93,500 sq. ft. former meatpacking facility, The Plant and is turning it into a net- zero energy vertical farm. One-third of The Plant will hold aquaponic growing systems and the other two-thirds will incubate sustainable food businesses by offering low rent, low energy costs, and a licensed shared kitchen.

The Plant ChicagoThe Plant will create 125 jobs in Chicago’s economically distressed Back of the Yards neighborhood and these jobs will not require fossil fuel use. Instead, The Plant will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year to meet all of its heat and power needs–which is quite impressive!

A Cycle of Life-Growing Vegetables with Fish and Fish With Vegetables

Recycling will also occur in the aquaponic farm system. Aquaponics is a closed-loop growing system that creates a symbiotic relationship between tilapia (fish) and vegetables. Tilapia produces ammonia-based waste that is sent through a biofilter to settle out solids break down the rest of the waste into nitrates. Those nitrates are fed to plants growing in hydroponic beds.  The plants clean the water by absorbing the nitrates,, and the nitrates are then returned to the fish. The Plant will sell both the fish and the vegetables to local food markets and restaurants in Chicago!

Incubating Sustainable Food Businesses

The Plant will also provide artisanal food businesses, including a beer brewery, a bakery, a kombucha (fermented tea) brewery, a mushroom farm, and a shared kitchen. According the The Plant Website:” Here again, waste from one business will be used as food for another. A good example is the spent distillers grains from the brewery will be fed to the tilapia, while solids from the tilapia waste will be fed to the mushrooms. This self-sustaining, interconnected system helps the businesses housed in The Plant grow and prosper together, while creating new, green jobs in a struggling community.”

Meet John Edel, Executive Director of The Plant

John Edel, Executive Director of The Plant

From the Plant Website: John Edel is the owner and developer of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As General Contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100% occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading edge technology to make the building exceptionally energy-efficient and pleasantly non-toxic. The renovation was assisted by a core group of volunteers and by bartering with suppliers, tenants and scrappers.

In previous careers, Edel taught computer graphics, designed sets for broadcast television, art directed video games and worked as a chef on private railroad cars. He has a lifelong dream of combining industrial preservation and plants in a productive, conservatory-like project.

Check it Out Yourself! Take a Tour of The Plant

Tours are held every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Volunteer at The Plant

Be part of  the great transformation! help transform The Plant into a farm of the future!
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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Fresh fruit

After eating a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving meal, I was inspired to look for some new healthy eating tips. I came across one that I think we should all check out: Healthy Dining. It is an all-volunteer community education and outreach program in Chicago devoted to providing simple, healthy lifestyle options for Chicago diners. By subscribing to the newsletter (free), you have access to “a steady diet of bite-size, easy-to-digest morsels of practical information, valuable resources, easy recipes, time and money-saving ideas, conservation tips and special subscriber-only invitations and offers that support good clean living.”

Who Started Healthy Dining in Chicago?

Laura Bruzas


In 2003, Laura Bruzas founded Healthy Dining to help teach Chicagoans that good nutrition and an eco-friendly lifestyle can aid in to disease prevention and management. Bruzas’ holds a degree in Marketing, has 15 years in HR/Recruiting and spent five years working with Whole Foods Market. When Laura was in college, a friend gave her a copy of Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and she has been on that path ever since.  Laura is also the author of Eat Well for Less, a collection of 50 simple tips and fast recipes to save time and cut your natural food bill in half.


For ten years, Laura has been an adult education instructor at the Latin School. She received a grant for developing and delivering a series of community wellness workshops, has taught healthy cooking classes at Whole Foods Market, Gildas Club of Chicago and the Discovery Center, presented a motivational lecture series on wellness and personal effectiveness for Chicago Public Library patrons and has spoken to audiences at the Chicago Women in Publishing Conference, Chicago Green Drinks, and FamilyFarmed.org EXPO.  Prior to publishing Healthy Dining Chicago, she was the editor of Living Well from 1998 to 2002.

60 Second Desserts and a variety of Four-Course Dinners in Under an Hour.

Laura has a full list of Q&A’s about healthy dining. Check out the questions and answers here.

Bruzas also teaches classes at the Moraine Valley Environmental Institute, as well as hosting corporate Lunch & Learns on the topic of Healthy Dining on a Dime and offering home parties with menu options that include 60 Second Desserts and a variety of Four-Course Dinners in Under an Hour.

For More Information or to Schedule a Lunch & Learn or Home Party
Please contact Laura at 312.666.9979 or via e-mail Laura@HealthyDining.org.

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Students Studying

Image by University of Denver via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

When I go to my graduate school classes, I often make note of what my fellow students are noshing on. For some, its fruit smoothies and edamame from a nearby sushi bar. For others, its chips and cookies from vending machines in the school. Others bring french fries and burgers. Most of us are hungry, pressed for time and needing enough nourishment to get us through our classes.

Now there is a blog, specially catering to Chicago college students, that has great tips for staying healthy. Check out Healthy in College Blog for tips on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle while in college.

In the blog post” The College Breakfast” where the blogger gives student reasonable alternatives at fast food restaurants for breakfast. The Healthy College blogger offers alternative to Breakfast Burrito, Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich, and cereal. In”How to Stack Your Dorm Fridge: The healthiest and tastiest snacks“, the blogger provides healthier snack food options to the standard potato chips and Cheetos diets many college dorm dwellers munch on.

Like Health in Chicago, the Healthy in College blogger chooses to remain anonymous. But she  or he does say that the blog “Healthy In College is for prospective college students, current students,master students and alumni alike who are interested in obtaining and maintaining good health throughout their years in school.”

There haven’t been many posts lately, but I’m particularly found of the most recent post in June 2011, “Getting Your Just Dessert… Healthy Takes on Summertime Treats!” where the post share a recipe for “The Sheet Cake Alternative: Angel Food Berry Cake.”

Image from Healthy in College blog

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Downtown Chicago Building Roundup: North

Image by Gravitywave via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I was looking at my WorkingWellResources  blog subscribers and noticed that I’ve got a few blog stalkers.   OK, not stalkers, just fans. One of them is Healthy In Chicago, an easy to read, fun and accessible blog about healthy lifestyle choices for Chicagoans.

What I like about this blog is that it’s not about being perfectly healthy. The blogger admits that it’s about trying to do his/her best at making healthy lifestyle choices. I am certainly not perfect either. I often have to check myself to see if I am practicing what I preach. And sometimes I fall short of the optimal healthy guidelines I would like to adhere to. I am human. And so are my clients. WE strive for our ideals but don’t get overly critical of ourselves when we fall short of perfection! This attitude of acceptance and moderation helps me be less critical and judgmental of my clients and allows them to share their successes and weaknesses with me more easily. So I am happy to introduce you to another blogger that has a similar positive, but not fanatical, outlook on Wellness.

Check out the Top posts on the Healthy In Chicago blog:

Chicago, Meet HealthyinChicago on the blog here. To follow Healthy In Chicago tweets, check out @HealthyNChicago.

Who is the Author of Healthy In Chicago?

The blogger chooses to remain anonymous, but did post some fun factoids about him/herself.

From the Healthy In Chicago Website, the blog author:

  • Is someone who doesn’t always ”practice what they preach” in terms of health advice.  I am not the perfect pinnacle of health.  I truly believe in moderation and not depriving myself of things (food and drinks) I love, which doesn’t always fit within the “recommendations” of healthy living.
  • Has a sweet tooth
  • Makes attempts to make healthy choices and health goals however
  • Has a college degree in Sport Science
  • Employed with IL largest health system, and is responsible for educating the community on health topics that plague Chicagoan’s (diabetes, heart disease, asthma, obesity, etc)
  • Previous experience as a personal trainer
  • Certified Intrinsic Coach (basically a life coach, someone to motivate you to follow through with the decisions, you have made in your life…example, quitting smoking)

The blogger also states that:

“I came to a point in my life where I was looking for more active, healthier activities and resources in the city…and really couldn’t find them and neither could my friends. So, I thought…why not share the information I find with everyone so they too can have the local resources to enjoy a healthier life, when and if they want to?  And with that Healthy In Chicago was created!”

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