The Checklist: Fitness and nutrition advice for March

March 1, 2011

March is my pudgiest month. Winter has made it challenging to get to the gym or outside for regular runs. But now spring is nigh (it officially starts March 20!), and shorts-wearing weather can’t be far behind. So now’s the time to start getting in shape for the warm months ahead. I will if you will.

Run in a relay

Maybe you can’t get in good enough shape by March 26 to run the whole SunTrust National Marathon, but perhaps you can aim to be part of a relay team. For the second year, families, friends or co-workers can form three-person relay teams for the United Way Team Half Marathon. Two runners run five miles each, and the third runs 3.1 miles. It’s a great way to get a taste of marathon running. Proceeds benefit Kids RunDC, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and United Way.

Having a goal, such as running a race, can help motivate you to start or stick with a fitness plan. Registration costs $150 per team and must be submitted online by March 20. For more information, call 866-786-0262 or visit www.nationalmarathon.com.

Health o’ the Irish

This St. Patrick’s Day, in addition to wearing green, celebrate by baking your own Irish soda bread. Try the recipe for Dark Irish Soda Bread from the Food section’s recipe database. It uses whole-wheat flour, so if you eat a slice or two, you can feel good about following the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, which call for eating at least three servings of whole grain daily. This recipe makes a 12-slice loaf, with each slice containing 113 calories and just one gram of saturated fat.

Sadly, though that nice pint of Guinness Stout you might down with your bread is brewed from barley, a whole grain, the stout itself doesn’t contribute to your whole-grain intake.

As I wrote in last week’s column, eating whole grains is associated with maintaining a healthful weight. And because whole grains deliver a lot of nutrients per calorie, they’re an efficient way of getting all the vitamins and minerals you need in a day without overeating. I’ll drink to that!

March mindfulness

Counter the March Madness in your life with a dose of mindfulness. The practice of living consciously in the moment can keep you calm and focused and even help with weight management, says Annie Mahon, founder of Circle Yoga in Chevy Chase D.C. When you eat mindfully, you concentrate on and savor every bite you eat, which in turn can keep you from eating more than you need. “If you sit and eat it mindfully, it can be a huge joy,” Mahon says. Families can practice mindful eating simply “by taking a moment of silence before you begin eating so everyone can enjoy their food,” she suggests.

You can learn more about applying mindfulness to your home life at a March 19 workshop at Circle Yoga. Led by Mahon and instructor Linda Feldman, it costs $40 if you register by March 5; after that, it’s $45. Circle Yoga is at 3838 Northampton St. NW. Call 202-686-1104, e-mail info@circleyoga.com or visit www.circleyoga.com.

Shop for spears

Asparagus makes its way to the produce section this month, a sure reminder that spring is on the way. The vegetable is chock-full of folate, which can help reduce your risk of obesity. A cup of raw asparagus adds up to just 27 calories, so you can afford to splurge.

Be aware that eating asparagus may make your urine smell like sulfur. Scientists aren’t sure if this happens to everyone, or if only some of us can detect the scent. But asparagus is too good for you to skip it for this reason!
A recipe to try: Grilled Asparagus With Lemon.

Play with your food

The American Dietetic Association has named March National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Eat Right With Color.” The idea is that for optimal nutrition, we should choose a variety of foods in all kinds of colors. That means putting more fruits and vegetables on our plates, along with whole grains, lean proteins and dairy, and making them the cornerstone of a weight-loss plan, says ADA spokesman Jim White. “Colorful foods like fruits and vegetables give you more bang for your buck,” nutritionally speaking, he says. The fiber and water they contain can “decrease your appetite, make you feel full, fast.” White’s suggestions include:

Red: cherries, peppers, beets, tomatoes

Orange: apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, sweet potatoes

White, tan, brown: bananas, cauliflower, brown pears, mushrooms

Green: avocados, asparagus, grapes

A tip: Rather than stashing fruits and veggies in the fridge, wash and cut them and keep them out on the counter, where you and your family are more likely to see and reach for them.

CPR follow-up

A reader pointed out to me that the CPR class finder
I recommended in February’s Checklist didn’t list local classes. Turns out I hadn’t caught on to some glitches on the American Heart Association’s Web site. As it happens, March is American Red Cross Month, and you can find a CPR class in the area at www.redcross.org (click on “Take a Class”). Cross my heart!

Looking ahead

4 Tell us Know of a great fitness-
or nutrition-related event in the
next few months? E-mail details to checkup@washpost.com for possible inclusion in The Checklist.


3Next week The Eat, Drink &
Be Healthy column returns with
a focus on ranch dressing.

6More online Visit the Checkup blog at voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup, follow @jhuget on Twitter and subscribe to the Lean & Fit newsletter by going to washingtonpost.com/wellness.

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