Tag Archives: Health

Easy Steps To Get Closer To Your Health Goal…aside from diet and exercise

Healthy eating and increased physical activity play a major role in optimal wellness. And getting there can take some major effort and dedication. But when you’re not used to hitting the gym most days of the week or cutting a chunk out of your daily calories, getting to that goal can seem rather intimidating and nearly impossible. Here are some simple lifestyle changes you can easily take on to get you closer to a healthier you, no treadmill or food scale needed.

  1. Eat slowly

Chew, like really really chew your food. We’re so go-go-go throughout the day, that we tend to get to mealtime and…welp, that took 5 minutes…on with our day! Give our body some time to enjoy getting the nourishment. This will help us to not over-indulge and to better digest what we’re eating. Do something between bites, like talk or listen for a minute if with company, walk around the room, or count 20 breaths before taking the next bite.

  1. Drink more water

 

I’ve written about it before and I’ll say it again, water can really do the body a lot of good and is crucial in getting the body to its optimal stage of wellness. Check out my article on the benefits of water:

The Benefits of Water 

 

  1. Sleep

 

Sleep plays an important role in body performance throughout the day. If sleep is a difficult thing to come by for you, try some methods to help relax your body at night like meditation, chamomile tea, or lavender inscense.

 

  1. Deep breathing

 

The chaos of our day can easily and often lead us to stress, mindless eating, fatigue, bad posture, and decreased focus. By simply doing two minutes of slow, deep breathing, it helps us become more in tune with our body, bringing us awareness to how it feels inside and out. This will help us to become more inclined to continue bettering it as we go forth with our day. How often do we ignore our bodies and not realize it? Mentally counting down the tasks on our to do list throughout the day, all while having poor posture, overstuffed tummies, tight facial muscles, or what-have-you. But hey, we got all of our tasks done for the day, right!? But at what cost to our body? Take two minutes a few times a day to breathe deep and pull your focus inward. You owe yourself at least that.

 

  1. Stretch

 

Ever notice how a morning stretch before getting out of bed or stretching your neck side to side gives you that ‘okay, now I’m ready’ feeling? Get some light body stretches in throughout the day. Reach as high as you can while sitting in a chair and slowly tilt your upper body side to side. It’ll help loosen your muscles all while helping your posture and circulation.

 

  1. Fidget

 

Keep Moving! Not only does this keep the muscles active and burn some calories, but it actually helps keep our focus and energy up. While sitting, bounce your heel up and down, or back and forth between heels as if climbing stairs toes planted in the ground. Touch each fingertip to your thumb pointer finger to pinky and back. Whatever small movement it may be, keep your body moving.

 

  1. Surround yourself with motivation

 

Take a few steps to change your surroundings to health conscious ones. I noticed that when I did, I became more motivated to eat healthy and be more active. For example:

  • Change the background on your computer and your phone to a fitness motivation (it can be a picture or a quote, whatever helps motivate you)
  • ‘Friend’ others that have a healthy lifestyle on social media. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat on the couch ready to indulge in a not-so-healthy snack or got home after a long day and decided not to go to the gym, just to grab my phone to check Facebook or Snapchat, and a famous fitness/yoga/nutrition icon pops up sharing a post-workout pic or healthy meal picture, and my next actions changed because of it.
  • Wear gym shoes to run your errands instead of dress flats or sandals. It may help you expend more energy in your running around, and heck, you’re already ready for a workout!

When you see ‘healthy’ surrounding you throughout the day, you’re more inclined to make your actions comparable.

 

Just these small changes can get you closer to your health goals. Try to incorporate these into your day and see how it makes a difference.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Healthy Eating Travel Tips

Life happens, and not always in the most convenient of ways. Here are some tips to stay on track no matter where or how you’re traveling!

Airport:

  • If eating at the airport, opt for choices like salad with lean un-breaded protein or a vegetable stir fry
  • Monitor spreads, sauces, creams, etc.(ask for them on the side)
  • Cut cravings for flavor while walking past all the food court options by bringing a water bottle with cucumber, lemon, or mint sprigs
  • Low carb, low calorie protein bars work great for non-perishable snacks

Road Trip:

  • Try low sodium turkey jerky for an easy non-perishable protein option on the go
  • Prepare some pre-portioned baggies such as trail mix with nuts and dried fruit or low-fat string cheese and celery/carrot sticks
  • Protein bars work great for non-perishable snacks, or bring a cooler for deli meat, yogurt, string cheese and water bottles
  • Preplan at restaurants you’ll be dining at- most restaurants will have their nutritionals online
  • Split portions at restaurants with someone else (they’re typically double the appropriate portion size)
  • “Would you like ‘fries’ with that?”- many fast food places offer the unhealthy option instead of asking ‘Would you like a side”. This is a marketing tactic to sell what is cheapest for them and usually the most unhealthy. Instead, opt for a side salad or fruit, not fried or fatty sides

Hotel Stay:

  • Preplan at restaurants you’ll be dining at- most restaurants will have their nutritionals online
  • Split portions at restaurant with someone else (they’re typically double the appropriate portion size)
  • Ask for a to-go container before even starting your meal and put half in the container to later refrigerate in the room
  • Make a stop at the local grocery store for healthy staples for your hotel mini fridge
  • Try to at least have breakfast in the hotel room; that way you have one healthy meal down to start your day
  • Make use of your coffee maker to heat water for Instant Oatmeal
Tagged , , ,

Sugar Coated Excuses

Sugar Coated Excuses

What’s the excuse that goes through your head when you oh so very much want that sugary sweet? Typically, it’s something along the lines of “It’s only ___ calories” “I’ll just do another __ minutes of cardio”. Let me tell you something- sweets aren’t just about the calories. I’m sure most of you can’t say that when you’re reaching for that cookie, you’re thinking “this could make my skin look worse over the next few days”. Or “this cookie is actually going to deplete my body of some of the nutrients I gave it earlier today” or “if I make this a habit, this sugar is actually going to AGE me and give me premature wrinkles” or “my immunity is going to take a slight hit simply because of this here cookie!”. Nah, it’s all about the calories in this calorie focused world. According to WedMD, a highly credible source, “Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing [sugar].” AskDrSears.com states “An overdose of sugar. Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.” “If the concentration of glucose in the blood goes beyond a certain concentration, the white blood cell’s 50-times vitamin C concentration can start to drop because of the large amount of glucose it’s pulling in as a substitute for vitamin C.” Sugar attacks the collagen and elastin in your skin as well as the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic. This, in turn, leads to premature wrinkles and sagging.
I’m not saying not to eat a cookie EVER, but maybe think twice before overindulging. Your waistline won’t be the only thing to benefit from it.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

seasonal-food-chart.jpg

Hello healthy hotties! Happy Healthy Saturday!!!! It’s spring cleaning, which means now, more than any other time in the year, it’s easier to freshen up our diets. Ever try out a farmer’s market? Fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t just at your neighborhood grocery store. By grabbing a handful at your local farmer’s market, you know that these produce are as fresh as they come; locally grown, free of hormones and pesticides, and jam-packed with vitamins and minerals for you. Even better, Saturdays and Sundays are typically the days that farmer’s markets are open to the public! So take advantage of getting some fresh fruits and vegetables this weekend. If you want some help with finding one that’s in your area, make a shout out. Below are some in the Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin areas:
http://www.thechicagotraveler.com/2014/04/top-10-chicago-farmers-markets/
http://www.aroundindy.com/farmersmarkets.php
http://mifma.org/find-a-farmers-market/
http://www.wifarmersmarkets.org/find-a-farmers-market.aspx

Wishing you all a happy and healthy weekend

Tagged , , , , ,

Inner Peace

There’s more to being a healthy person than eating right and exercising. Of course these are very important, crucial in fact, but are only two-thirds of the equation. If we are hitting the gym six times a week, eating only healthy meals, and are stressed, negative, and hateful inside, what good are we really doing our bodies? More importantly, what good are we doing our minds and our hearts? We could do all the cardio in the world to build the strongest heart we can, but without emotional balance and a positive outlook in life, our hearts are still as weak and strained as that of the sedentary. Anger and stress only weakens the mind and heart. If we’re ridding our body of toxins to become healthier, we must rid our minds of that which is toxic as well. As Marcus Tullius Cicero says, “In a disordered mind, as in a disordered body, soundness of health is impossible.”

Here are some ways to help find peace of mind:

  1. Breathe- Take a deep breath in for 5 seconds through your nose, hold for 5 seconds, and slowly breathe out through pursed lips for 5 seconds. Do this several times and remind yourself that you’re breathing in the good and breathing out the bad. Deep, slow breathing counteracts the effects of stress by slowing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
  2. VocalizeTell someone how their actions affected you instead of holding it in and building resentment. Be sure to do it in a positive and productive way and stay honest. And in return, LISTEN! Sometimes this is the hardest part.
  3. Forgive- No matter the intensity of pain the person may have once brought you, it’s in the past and it’s only continuing to pain you by holding on to it. The anger will only destroy you, it often does not even affect the other person. “Unforgiveness is choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime.” It takes real strength to give someone a piece of your heart rather than a piece of your mind. Let Karma teach the lesson, not you.
  4. ApologizeWe’re human, we make mistakes, and we fix them and move on. Apologize and then choose to forgive yourself. And if we don’t see that we did something wrong, but perhaps someone was hurt by it- think about this quote: “Apologizing does not always mean that you’re wrong; it means that you value your relationship with that person and your own wellbeing more than your ego.”
  5. ListenPlay your favorite song and maybe even dance along. It’s funny how an upbeat tune or lyrics can instantly change our moods.
  6. CleanHave a messy house? Don’t focus on the house; focus on the space, the room, the one assignment. Declutter an individual space in your home, creating even one peaceful area.
  7. Be PresentEnjoy the good things about today instead of scheming to create a better future. The past always has good memories. And the present is the future’s past.
  8. Be KindDo something for someone without expecting anything back. It’s easy to forget how rewarding it is to help others instead of only helping ourselves. There is always someone within reach who could use a helping hand or even just an ear. If they ask what they can do in return, tell them to pay it forward.
  9. Smile!-It is the quickest stress reliever and happiness booster. And it’s free, pretty, and addictive. Even better, smile at someone else (maybe a stranger) and make it contagious, you may just make their day.
  10. Rest– Your body needs time to recoup from stressful events. If we’re burdened by a decision, “sleeping on it” is often the best solution.
  11. Practice GratitudeBe grateful for what you have learned from the situation or be grateful to not HAVE to deal with the stress anymore unless you choose to. If you feel there is no positive in the situation, reflect on a positive in your life as well. Be grateful for the people and the things in life you may take for granted. One day, you may not have them. Today, you have them to hold and cherish.
  12. Talk with a friendFriends know how to make you smile, if not laugh. Sometimes we need to vent to someone for 5 minutes whom we know will care to listen and help. If venting, let it out and let it go. Let someone help, don’t bring someone down with you. And sometimes, we don’t even need to talk about the pain. By being with a loved one (family, friends, significant other) is all we need to close our eyes and laugh without even seeing the pain pass by.
  13. Dream-Let yourself daydream. This is like a mini vacation in the middle of the day. Daydreaming helps you to learn and recuperate. Children daydream all the time, and look how happy it makes them. We should learn from our little ones. We’ve forgotten with all the chaos of adulthood how important, powerful, and productive it is to escape into our imagination.
  14. SurrenderBe prepared to let go of your attachments to any particular outcome. The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come. Learn that to succumb does not mean that you lose. Let life lead you down unexpected roads and you will find that the outcome is better than you could have imagined. And I truly believe that you do not attract what you want, you attract what you are. If you are bad or negative, you attract bad and negative. If you are good, you attract good.
Tagged , , , , ,

The Benefits of Water

                Everyone knows that drinking water is good for you. Sure, it’s a great zero-calorie thirst quencher, but this free beverage can do much more for your health than hydrate. Here are ten surprising benefits of water.

  1. Skin: Water, good ol’ H2O (O standing for oxygen, my friends), hydrates your body and brings oxygen to all of your organs. This includes your biggest organ, your skin. Water naturally plumps skin. This means firming fine lines and wrinkles, hydrating dullness, and even helping to conceal cellulite. Overall, your complexion will improve greatly, guaranteed.  
  2. Weight: Just because it plumps your skin, doesn’t mean it makes you plump. In fact, it’s quite the contraire m’dear. If you’re not drinking enough water, your body actually starts retaining water as a survival mechanism. This, in turn, leads to bloating. To eliminate fluid retention, drink more water, not less. And FYI, there’s a reason Gatorade is advertised for athletes. It contains a high amount of sodium, helping you hold on to fluid in your body when you’re expelling so much through sweat. Gatorade is not meant to be a tasty replacement for water, it’s meant to keep water in your body. Also, water in between meals helps to suppress appetite and fill you up. Plus it’s 0 calories!
  3. Muscles: As mentioned before, water brings oxygen to all of your organs. This means your muscles, too. The more oxygen you bring to your muscles, the longer and harder you can work them. Up the water, up the endurance. You get the idea.
  4. Energy: It has been medically proven that just a 5% drop in body fluids will cause a 25% to 30% loss of energy in the average person.
  5. Mood: Many studies have shown that drinking water improves mood and eases stress. A bottle for your blues?
  6. Brain: Brain tissue is 85% water. With dehydration, the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. This is why when we have a headache, sometimes just drinking water will help alleviate it. It could just be a symptom of slight dehydration. Heading in for an exam? Don’t forget your water bottle to keep that oxygen going to your brain.
  7. Breakouts: Hot lemon water is said to reduce bacteria internally, lessening breakouts. Hot steam (water in gas form, if you were unaware) helps open your pores, and a splash of cold water helps to close them.
  8. Toxins: Water flushes toxins out of your system and carries nutrients to your cells. Your kidneys rid your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is enough. If you don’t drink enough water, you’re at higher risk of developing kidney stones. And toxins staying in your system can lead to illnesses and diseases like cancer. When you’re well hydrated, your urine is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine is darker and concentrated because your body is trying to hold on to as much liquid as it can.
  9. Constipation: Adequate hydration keeps the gastrointestinal tract working the way it should. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration, resulting in constipation.
  10. Joint Health: Water lubricates our joints. Cartilage holds a lot of water, which serves as a lubricant during the movement of the joint. If the cartilage is dehydrated, the abrasion can cause damage, resulting in joint deterioration and increased pain. Rheumatoid joint pain and back pain is often alleviated or decreased with a little bit of hydration.

I noticed several of my nutritionist coworkers bringing giant jugs of ice water to work every day…so I followed suit; and boy am I glad I did. Not only does it help energize me for the work day, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in my skin. Caffeinated beverages as well as alcoholic beverages act as diuretics and increase fluid loss, so they actually make you lose more water. For every glass of coffee or alcohol you have, try to have a glass of water too. Ever wonder why the feeling of a hangover often includes a headache…? Your body might be full of liquid, but not the right kind. A heavy night of drinking, followed by a morning of excessive coffee is the worst thing you can do. Your body is in a state of dehydration, not just tiredness. I’ll drink to that! Water, that is.

You’ve probably heard the common recommendation to drink eight full glasses of water a day. The recommendation seems to change constantly. And of course your recommended water intake will increase if you’re an avid exerciser, breastfeeding mom, or live in a hotter climate. I say just keep drinking instead of keeping track of how much you drink. It’s not likely you’ll over-hydrate yourself. If water is a little too boring and bland for you, try adding some mint, lemon slices, or cucumber to a pitcher of water.  

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Glued to the Tube?

The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. For a 65-year old, that’s nine straight years glued to the tube. That’s a whole lot of telly!  HowellMainFour.com says it best- “They are spending all these hours watching a manipulated version of reality instead of living their own”.

What happened to the days of spending your free time on board games with the family, going outdoors with friends, or simply eating meals at the dining room table? It’s a shocker today to go into an American home that doesn’t have a television set; almost 100% of American households have at least one, and almost two-thirds spend their mealtime watching it. TV watching is not a good habit to make.  Not only does pushing the ‘on’ button suddenly cause a distraction from any type of near-future activity, but it can also have lasting effects on your health.

The first two years of a child’s life is considered a critical time for brain development. Many studies link excessive TV viewing at this age with later attention problems. Electronic media can distract from exploring, playing, and interacting with others.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a large survey of almost 12,000 Australian adults, found that for every hour of television viewed by a person over the age of 25, their lifespan is reduced by 22 minutes. In comparison, smoking one cigarette is said to reduce life expectancy by about 11 minutes.

There is an abundant amount of evidence out there that links the sedentary habit of tv watching to obesity as well as evidence that proves that simply cutting back on even a little bit of tv time has been helpful in weight control.

If that’s not incentive for the big guy on the couch, let’s at least do it for the little guys. A Harvard study released in February of this year found that men who watch 20 or more hours of television a week had a 44 percent reduction in sperm than those who did not clock any television time. It was also found that men who work out at least fifteen hours per week have 73 percent higher sperm counts than those who logged less than 5 hours a week.

There’s no harm in restricticting your telly time to two hours a day…literally. Studies have shown that even those who watch two straight hours of television have significantly lower risks associated with it than those who watched four straight hours. In an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers combined data from eight different studies and found that for every additional two hours spent glued to the tube, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20% and the risk of heart disease increases by 15%. According to an American Journal of Public Health study, an adult who watches three hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than an adult who watches less than one hour. The Nurses’ Health Study, following more than 50,000 middle-age women for six years, found that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and a 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. “The most striking feature of prolonged sitting is the absence of skeletal muscle contractions, particularly in the very large muscles of the lower limbs,” says David W. Dunstan, a professor at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia. “When muscles don’t contract, they require less fuel, and the surplus, in the form of blood sugar, accumulates in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes risk and other health concerns”.

So, go ahead and watch your favorite show, but keep in mind that a half-hour show can easily turn into a five-hour boob tube session.  If you refuse to nix it all together, try spending commercial time doing jumping jacks or push-ups.

Tagged , , , , ,

Milk vs. Milk

With so many alternatives to milk out there, what are the differences and which ones are the healthiest?

Soymilk, made from water and soybeans, has almost as much protein as regular cow’s milk. However, there have been studies done claiming that excessive soy intake may be linked to digestive issues and reproductive disorders. With 60 calories, 1.5g fat, 6g protein, and 0mg cholesterol, soymilk is the most heart healthy option.

Although more difficult to digest for the 13 percent of Americans with lactose intolerance, regular cow’s milk is the highest in calcium, protein, and potassium. Skim milk, the low-fat version, has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Normally consisting of rather high amounts of added hormones and antibiotics, there are organic brands that are produced from grass-fed cows only. Skim cow’s milk contains 83 calories, .2g fat (8g in whole milk), 8g protein, and 5mg cholesterol.

Almond milk, perhaps the sweetest tasting of all the milks, holds 60 calories, 2.5g fat, 1g protein, and 0mg cholesterol. Also lactose-free, being that it’s made from almonds, it has a high amount of the skin friendly antioxidant, vitamin E (+cancer fighting). With its rich, nutty flavor, it is a great complement to your morning coffee or cereal. Almond milk is less starchy than soymilk, therefore may be more advantageous for dieters. Both contain your brain boosting omegas and metabolism moving B-vitamins. Soymilk has much higher amounts of protein to build strong muscle, but also generally contains more sugar than almond milk.

~Rice milk contains the highest amount of calories (120 and 2.5 from fat) and about twice as many carbs as skim milk. Coconut milk, one of the newest milk crazes contains 5g of fat, all being from unhealthy saturated fat, so drink in moderation.

All in all, it comes down to personal preference. All “milks” will have different benefits; it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for. Just be sure to stick with the ‘light’ versions.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Wine…The incredible cure-all?

There is much hype lately about wine and its health benefits. 1-2 glasses of wine a day doing your body more good than harm? It may sound appealing, but new research from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health says otherwise. Those with a BMI of 27.5 or higher (the majority of Americans), increased their risk of heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and stroke by having even a glass.  However, the benefits still hold for those with a BMI under 27.

“You can’t just focus on research that promotes something appealing- like indulging

in wine- and run with it.” “You can however, consider the findings an extra incentive

to stay fit.”- Elizabeth Somer, R.D.

Tagged ,

Uh Oh! Did these pants shrink?

Looking for a fabulous fat figher? Fiber! Say that five times fast. Fiber helps to bind to cholesterol and makes you feel fuller longer. On top of helping with weight loss, it also helps to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower blood sugar levels. Foods with excellent fiber content include beans, rice, bran cereals, walnuts, almonds, oranges, apples, berries, oatmeal, and vegetables. Shoot for 25-35 grams a day to start seeing the benefits!

Tagged , , , ,