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Ask An Expert

Ask an Expert: Balancing cardio workouts with active recovery

Q: Would it be a bad thing to do daily cardio workouts without any days off? I've been doing about 20 to 50 minutes of cardio a day for the past three months in hope of getting results quickly. I don't want to delay getting my new body, but I also don't want to cause any problems.

Ask an Expert: Beginning an exercise program

Q: "Year after year, I make a New Year's resolution to start exercising. And I never keep it up past about March. What can I do differently this year to finally succeed?"

Ask an Expert: Bouncing back after time off from exercise

Q: How long does it take to get out of shape? I couldn’t exercise for a while in December, and am wondering how much my fitness level may have declined. When I get back to the gym, how long would it take to get back in shape?

Ask an Expert: Can a person eat too much fruit?

Q: Health experts tell us to eat lots of fruits and veggies, but can a person eat too much fruit? On an average day, I eat about 2-1/2 cups of grapes, two apples, two pears and, at dinner, two servings of vegetables. I’m trying to lose a little weight and am worried that fruit may be deceptively high in calories and sugar.

Ask an Expert: Can supplements help increase muscle mass?

Q: “I’m an 18-year-old male and I would like to start working out to gain mass, as well as definition. What would be the best and safest supplement to use to get quick results?”

Ask an Expert: Can supplements substitute for strength training?

Q: “I am a very skinny 16-year-old and I want to gain muscle. The problem is, I don’t have enough time to lift weights or run regularly. Are there any vitamins or nutritional supplements that would help me gain muscle without exercise? If so, which ones do you recommend?”

Ask an Expert: Cardio workouts you can do at home

"I'm a 17-year-old boy, and I'm looking for a challenging cardio exercise that I can do in my apartment. I lift weights three times a week, so I'm looking for something that will let my muscles rest while pumping up my heart rate.”

Ask an Expert: Changes to the food pyramid’s carb recommendations

Q: Is the amount of carbohydrates recommended by the current USDA Food Guide Pyramid too high? It seems like more and more evidence is showing that many carbs contribute to obesity and other health problems.

Answer from Terese Scollard, R.D., L.D., M.B.A., Regional Clinical Nutrition Manager:

Ask an Expert: Counting calories

Q: How important is it to watch calories if I want to lose weight? It seems most diet plans today focus on total fat intake, or the total amount of protein vs. carbohydrates. Do I still need to pay attention to calories?

Ask an Expert: Exercise and the Holidays

Q: I look forward to the holidays except for one thing: I know I'll stop going to the gym, gain weight and arrive at January 1st feeling pretty bad about myself. Do you have any advice to help me avoid that pattern this year?

Ask an Expert: Exercising at the right intensity

Q: What intensity should I aim for in my cardio workouts?

Ask an expert: Fat facts

Q: First, fat was bad. Then some fat was good and some was bad. Now we’ve got trans fats to worry about. It’s getting so complicated! Please explain the differences between fats and what I need to know about them.

Ask an Expert: Fruits and Veggies – How Many Should You Eat?

Q: First, it was “five a day.” Then the Dietary Guidelines changed to “4 to 13 servings per day.” I’m confused — how many fruits and vegetables should I be eating?

Answer provided by Terese Scollard, MBA, R.D., L.D., regional clinical nutrition manager for Providence Nutrition Services: 

Ask an expert: Heavy kids

Q: “My 11-year-old son is very active and eats healthy foods, but is still heavy. Will he grow out of the fat, or is there something we can or should do now? Kids tease him, and he’s very sensitive about being heavier than his friends.”

Answer provided by Connie Warner, M.S., R.D., pediatric dietitian, Providence Children's Development Institute:

Ask an Expert: How many calories should I drink each day?

Q: “How many of my daily calories should come from beverages? I realize that the calories in my daily lattes and occasional sodas, sports drinks and beers add up, but are there any actual guidelines on what, and how much, we’re supposed to drink every day?”

Ask an Expert: How much strength training should I do?

Q: “I am a 47-year-old woman, I weigh 155 pounds, and I am very physically active. Currently, I do more cardio than strength training. How many times a week should I be doing strength training?”

Ask an expert: Is coconut oil really a miracle food?

Q: "What's all the buzz about coconut oil? Can it really help you lose weight, fight heart disease and do all the other things people are claiming? And what about coconut water – is there any benefit to drinking it?"

Ask an Expert: Losing that beer belly

Q: What does it take to get rid of a beer belly? Are there certain diet or exercise programs that work best?

Ask an Expert: Losing the Last 10 Pounds

Q: “I have always carried extra weight, and have always dieted. Even though I lost around 40 pounds in my early 20s, I’m still carrying around 10 or 12 extra pounds. I rarely eat fatty foods or junk, but I have a low metabolism and I hate exercising. Do you have any advice to help me lose those last few pounds for good?”
Answer provided by Valerie Edwards, M.S., R.D., L.D., clinical dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center, and Michelle Guitteau, M.D., director of ambulatory education, Providence Portland Medical Center: 

Ask an Expert: Losing the love handles

Q: “I’ve been working out for three years, focusing mainly on weight lifting, and I’m starting to get bulkier and to gain muscles. However, I still have some visible body fat. My ultimate goal is to become very lean and ripped. What is the best and fastest way to lose the fat – especially the love handles?”

Ask an expert: Making weight loss last

Q: “Every January, I get super motivated to go on a diet and lose weight. I make radical changes in my diet, lose a few pounds and feel great about it – but a few months later, I’m right back to my old ways – and my old weight. What dietary changes can I make this year to get results that last?”

Ask an Expert: Metabolism and Weight Loss

Q: “I am cursed with a slow metabolism, so I burn calories slowly and gain weight easily. What can I do to rev up my metabolism?”

Answer provided by Valerie Edwards, M.S., R.D., L.D., clinical dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center, and Michelle Guitteau, M.D., director of ambulatory education, Providence Portland Medical Center: 

Ask an expert: Paleo pros and cons

Q: "Proponents of the Paleo diet claim that we'd all be healthier if we went back to eating like cavemen. Is there any truth to that?"

Ask an Expert: Protein vs. carbohydrates

Q: What role do proteins and carbohydrates play in the diet?  Should I be avoiding carbohydrates altogether if I’m trying to lose weight?

Ask an expert: Shaping up in middle age

Q: “I am a 57-year-old woman in good health (5’10”, 165 pounds). I have never been a jock or worked out for any length of time. Is it possible to get in shape now? Can anything be done about sagging upper arms and a spare tire after so many years of neglect? I've tried doing exercises to tone these areas, but after a while I give up because I don't see a difference. Any advice?”

Ask an Expert: Strength training for kids

Q: My 13-year-old son is a competitive basketball player, and my husband would like him to start lifting weights to add upper body strength and bulk. My son is definitely into puberty, but is it safe for young teenagers to lift weights?

Ask an Expert: Super-slow weight training

Q: "What is super-slow weight training? Is this method something I should consider trying?"

Ask an Expert: Ten ways to watch your weight over the holidays

Q: "This year, for once, I do not want to gain weight over the holidays. Can you offer some realistic advice that will still allow me to enjoy the season?"

Answer provided by Valerie Edwards, M.S., R.D., L.D., clinical dietitian, Providence Portland Medical Center, and Michelle Guitteau, M.D., director of ambulatory education, Providence Portland Medical Center: 

Ask an Expert: The benefits of aerobic exercise

Q: "My husband does a lot of strength training, but refuses to include any aerobic exercise in his routine. I'm worried that he's losing out on some important health benefits, but he doesn't buy it. Can you convince him?"

Ask an Expert: Training for bicycling events

Q: "I'd like to get back into exercise this year and am interested in cycling. Can you share pointers on getting in shape for that? I'm not out to win any races, but I do think it would be fun to participate in some cycling events."

Ask an Expert: Weight gain after workouts

Q: "I’ve been working out for about three weeks now, and I have actually gained weight. Is this normal? What should I do if it isn’t? I eat right, and my workouts consist of 30 minutes of cardio followed by 30 to 40 minutes of weight lifting, five days a week.”

Ask an Expert: Which is better in a workout: Intensity or duration?

Q: "I just purchased an elliptical trainer, and after three weeks of 30-minute routines every other day, I’m finding that staying in my ‘target heart rate’ zone is too easy. A higher level feels right – rigorous, but not too hard. The trouble is, at this rate, I am working at my ‘maximum heart rate’ – about 150 to 176. Would I be better off staying with my current high intensity level, or backing off on the intensity and doing a longer workout?"

The best sites for the heart-healthy diet

The digital marketplace now offers an abundance of health and diet management tools, from websites to monitor your weight to smart phone apps that allow you to take a picture of your food and get an instant calorie count.

Forms Instructions

Health and Wellness Class Registration - Mail or Fax

Please use this form to register by mail or fax.

Health and Wellness Classes Registration Information

You may register in any of these four ways.

Request Nutrition Services

Please complete the following form if you are interested in scheduling any of the following nutrition services:

  • Special diet counseling
  • Weight management
  • Nutrition counseling for children with special health care needs
  • Medical nutrition therapy

Proprietary Health Article

Bicycle training schedule

The schedule below provides a guide to training for a 24-mile event, such as the Providence Bridge Pedal.

Eat breakfast every day

Mom always said that eating a good breakfast is the best way to start the day. If only more of us had listened. Only about half of American adults under age 55 eat breakfast every day. Those who skip it often do so in the mistaken belief that it’s an easy way to drop calories and weight. But research shows the exact opposite effect: people who skip breakfast weigh an average of seven pounds more than people who eat breakfast. Adding breakfast to your daily schedule can result in a weight loss of four pounds in just a few months.

Losing the first 20 pounds

By Valerie Edwards, MS, RD, LD, clinical dietitian, Providence Outpatient Nutrition Services, Providence Portland Medical Center How many pounds...

Twelve resolutions for real health improvement

Forget crash diets, miracle supplements and infomercial exercise gizmos. If you are tired of feeling tired, sick of getting sick, and over being overweight, here are 12 New Year's resolutions that will help you make real, lasting improvements in your health.

Your April resolution: Get some sleep

If you’ve been following along with our 2011 monthly resolutions for better health, then you’ve made some impressive changes in your life in just three months: you’ve had a thorough health checkup, kicked tobacco out of your life, and started a lifelong exercise habit. Give yourself a big high-five – I know that not all of these were easy to do. By comparison, you should be able to accomplish April’s resolution in your sleep.

Your August resolution: Make water your beverage of choice

This month, your resolution is to make water your main beverage.

Your December resolution: Manage your stress

Much has been written about the harmful effects of stress on the heart, the immune system, the digestive system, the reproductive system, the lungs, the muscles – even the skin. But if you ask me, the most devastating effect is the toll that stress takes on your mood and quality of life. 

Your July resolution: Eat a salad every day

If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your health, your weight and your diet, make a resolution this month to turn over a new leaf.

Your June resolution: Replace refined foods with whole foods

When whole grains get refined to make white flour, or apples get processed to make juice, we miss out on one of the most valuable components of the original whole foods: fiber.

Your March resolution: Get up and march

It takes about 21 days to turn new behaviors into habits that will stick with you. This month, take 21 days to build an exercise habit.

Your October resolution: Pick better proteins

Fats and carbohydrates both have been branded by various fad diets over the years as nutritional bad guys that should be avoided at all costs. Protein, on the other hand, has somehow maintained a sterling reputation as a nutritional good guy. The truth, of course, is that all three are good guys, as long as you choose the right kinds and don’t eat too much.

Your September resolution: Walk, lift and stretch

This month, take a look at the kinds of activity you’re getting. Is your exercise program balanced? Does it include a mix of aerobic exercise (for your heart), strength training (for your bones and muscles), and stretching (for flexibility and balance)? If you’ve been focusing on only one of these areas, start shaking things up and adding the other two to your weekly routine. Your resolution for September: walk, lift and stretch for a healthy, well-balanced body.

Recommended Resource

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Dietary Energy Density

Article: Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets.

American Journal of Preventative Medicine: Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial

To improve methods for long-term weight management, the Weight Loss Maintenance (WLM) trial, a four-center randomized trial, was conducted to compare alternative strategies for maintaining weight loss over a 30-month period. This paper describes methods and results for the initial 6-month weight-loss program (Phase I).

Annual Review of Nutrition-Successful Weight Loss Maintenance

Abstract  Obesity is now recognized as a serious chronic disease, but there is pessimism about how successful treatment can be. A general perception is that almost no one succeeds in long-term maintenance of weight loss.

Beverage Guidance Panel site

The Beverage Guidance Panel was assembled to provide guidance on the relative health and nutritional benefits and risks of various beverage categories. 

Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Since 1990, the non-profit Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has opened roads and minds to cycling, working to promote bicycle use and to improve bicycling conditions throughout the state of Oregon.

Fruits and Veggies More Matters Website

Online resource with tips for incorporating more fruits and veggies in your diet, preventing childhood obesity and other health information.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III)

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between breakfast type, energy intake and body mass index (BMI). We hypothesized not only that breakfast consumption itself is associated with BMI, but that the type of food eaten at breakfast also affects BMI.

Oregon Farmer’s Markets Association

"We envision vibrant marketplaces where Oregon food finds its way onto Oregon tables increasing the rural-urban bond and bringing neighborhoods together by sharing our bountiful harvest and providing for the future of farms and families."

Portland Wheelmen Touring Club

The Portland Wheelmen Touring Club was founded in 1971 to promote cycling and to provide a social organization for bicyclists.

Science Magazine Article- Physiology: A NEAT Way to Control Weight?

Why do some people remain slimmer than others? The answer may be in the amount of time lean individuals spend fidgeting, standing and walking around compared with sitting still. As Ravussin explains in a Perspective, a followup study by Levine et al. now pinpoints sitting as an important culprit of weight gain. Just sitting for 2.5 hours less each day would result in an extra energy expenditure of 350 kcal/day, which the authors calculate could translate into preventing the gain of extra pounds.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article

Research article showing the effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Association of breakfast energy density with diet quality and body mass index in American adults

Background:Recent reports suggest that dietary energy density (ED) is associated with diet quality, energy intake, and body weight. Breakfast consumption was also associated with diet quality and body weight; however, little is known about the association of breakfast consumption with dietary ED.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Children’s Portion Size

Article: Children’s bite size and intake of an entrée are greater with large portions than with age-appropriate or self-selected portions.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis

Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. Background: Although a regular meal pattern is recommended for obese people, its effects on energy metabolism have not been examined.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on Portion Size

Article: Portion size effects on daily energy intake in low-income Hispanic and African American children and their mothers.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Article on When to eat and how often

Article: The effect of the timing of food intake on metabolism has been the subject of active investigation for >40 y. Indeed, whether it is "better" to eat many small meals a day is one of the questions most frequently posed by the lay public. 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Omitting Breakfast


Background: Breakfast consumption is recommended, despite inconclusive evidence of health benefits.

The Journal of Nutrition Article on Time of Day and Food Intake Influences Overall Intake in Humans

Article: Circadian and diurnal rhythms affect food intake, and earlier research has suggested that meal sizes increase, whereas the after-meal intervals and satiety ratios decrease over the day. 

The National Weight Control Registry

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), established in 1994 by Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.

US Department of Health & Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans

US Department of Health & Human Services website on the latest dietary guidelines, includes FAQs, weight management and activity tools.

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. CNPP is an agency of USDA's Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.

USDA Food Pyramid Website

MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan/ assess your food choices based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.