Heart Disease is the #1 Threat to Women.
Breast cancer is foremost in many women’s minds, but heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, and women are the prime target. Every year, more women than men die of heart disease and stroke. The overall lifetime risk of dying from breast cancer is 3 percent. For cardiovascular disease or stroke, it’s nearly 50 percent.
While the numbers may be stacked against women, it’s possible to dodge the cardiovascular bullet, especially if you start doing something today. For most women, heart disease is preventable by making lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk.
- Don’t smoke
- Keep your weight in check
- Limited saturated fat
- Eat more fiber
- Eat plenty of produce
- Quit eating Girl Scout Cookies
Who is counting on you to be your healthiest?
Focus on one small thing at a time to help you lower your risk of heart disease and improve your quality of life.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages more than just your lungs. It hardens the arteries, raises the blood pressure and causes an irregular heartbeat. Find a smoking cessation program and kick this habit.
- Monitor your cholesterol intake. Your body needs cholesterol, which is found in animal foods (meats, dairy, eggs) but eating too much can contribute to disease. Keep your intake under 300 milligrams daily.
- GET MOVING! Physical activity is an important part of a heart-healthy routine. It can also help you to control your weight, lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels. Shoot for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Avoid trans fats. Consuming even a small amount of trans fat can greatly increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats can be found in foods that contain “partially hydrogenated” oil as an ingredient; trans fat is the world’s unhealthiest fat!
Stick to Your Resolutions
If you’re still holding firm to your resolutions, give yourself a high five-you’re almost half-way to sticking to them for good! The reason: it takes roughly 30-60 days to make or break a habit. The bad news: temptation grows, not decreases, as you begin to change your behavior. Knowing that the next couple of months will take more commitment than ever, here are a few strategies to help reel you in from the brink of relapse.
- Lapses tend to occur once people start to see improvement. Your pants start to fit better, and suddenly you think that you can afford to indulge in nutella. That is, until your pants no longer fit again. Keep a food journal. You stay more focused because you are constantly aware of your long-term goal every time you use it. It will keep you honest!
- Have your cake, but just one small piece. Relying on willpower is the quickest road to ruin. Treat it as an occasional indulgence, not an excuse to fall off the wagon.
- Think ahead. For some, the Sunday Family dinner may be the trigger. For others, it’s Starbucks with whipped cream and caramel syrup. Know your poison and avoid it if possible. Know when setbacks are likely to occur, then plan for them strategically.
Make a realistic timeline to stay on track. Deadlines turn wishes into goals. Give yourself adequate time to complete each action step and choose a date to reach your overall goal. If you haven’t started working on your goals…TODAY is the day!
“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen”. Frank Lloyd Wright
Creating SMART Fitness Resolutions
It is now the second week of January. You have vowed that THIS will be THE YEAR! You are going to make it to the gym, eat more vegetables, and work on your stress. And then, life happens. You slip back into old habits and once again feel frustrated at yourself for not keeping your promise. Albert Einstein advised us that, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Perhaps THIS YEAR it’s time to put “insanity” to rest and adopt a SMART approach.
- SPECIFIC: Start with a goal that is unambiguous. While setting a clear goal, think about the 5 “W’s”: What do I want to accomplish? When can I realistically accomplish it? Why do I want to do accomplish it? Who can help me accomplish it? Where can I go to work on it? (The last two are very easy. Our Fitness staff will help you accomplish it and you can work out right here!)
- MEASUREABLE: To know whether you completed your goal, you have to be able to track it and measure the outcome. Ask the question “how much or how many?” Example: Setting a goal to lose 1.4 pounds per week and 20 pounds in 4 months.
- ACHIEVABLE: Set a realistic goal. Example: A weight loss goal of 1.5 is healthy and achievable.
- RELEVANT: A goal that has meaning to you personally will be prioritized and get your attention. Example: Being able to play with your children or grandchildren is important to most people.
- TIME-BASED: A target date will lend a sense of urgency and importance to your goal. Ask the question, “By when?” Example: I will hit my target weight in 16 weeks.
“You must begin to think of yourself as the person you want to be”.
New Year. New You.
January… the time of year we get to start fresh and define what we want to achieve in the upcoming year. But how many years have you set a goal only to falter part way through the process? It happens often because we tend to set goals that are too lofty. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t aim high, but we do need to be realistic otherwise, be doomed for failure.
Lofty goals are healthy, but should to be broken down into chunks to ensure success. As the age old wisdom states, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with ONE SINGLE STEP.” If you make that single step small and doable, your small steps will become strides and your strides will become achievements.
Here are some common New Year resolutions and ideas for Small Steps to help you achieve them:
- I want to start exercising: Select an activity you enjoy and can easily fit into your schedule. Do five minutes of it 4 times a week. Do this for 1 week. If successful either add more days or more time (maybe 10 minutes). Repeat this until you’re exercising at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes each day.
- I want to eat more fruits and vegetables: Add a fruit or veggie to one meal or snack 5 days a week. If successful, then either add more days or another fruit or veggie the following week. Repeat this until you are eating at least 5 per day.
- I want to lose weight: See above!
- I want to be less stressed: Choose a short relaxation activity you can do each day for 1 week (breathing exercises for 1 minute, a short walk, or simply closing your eyes). Do this for 1 week. If successful, then either repeat the same activity the following week, extend the time, or pick a new activity. Do this until you’ve built a daily relaxation habit.
- One last tip… Get a calendar and display it. Check off each day you do your SMALL step.
“Motivation is what gets you started . Habit is what keeps you going.”
Plan now to do less, spend less, worry less… and enjoy more!
- Keep things simple. Don’t compete with last year’s events-or the next door neighbors.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations.
- Underbook yourself. Allow more time than you think you need.
- Take a few quiet moments for yourself each day. Think about your purpose in life and how you express kindness and love.
- Breathe deeply. Take time to smell the gingerbread.
- Spend time with people who truly care about you.
- Set a budget for entertaining and gifts. No one will mind.
- Enjoy thinking about all the things you are thankful for. Let go of any guilt or disappointments.
- Sleep, be active, nap, be active, repeat.
“That which matters the Most should never give way to that which matters the Least.”
Healthy Holiday Habits
The Holiday season does not have to mean weight gain. Here are a few healthy habits that are easy to follow during the holidays to keep you on the right track to a healthier lifestyle.
- Keep a food diary. If you write down what you eat, it will make you think twice about overindulging.
- Be aware of beverages. Alcoholic drinks are easily 100-300 calories or more per serving. Plus, drinking reduces inhibitions (which will make it harder to resist tempting foods) and can give you a hangover (which will probably lead to not exercising the following day.) Eggnog (with or without alcohol) is one of the highest calorie beverages in existence. A better option would be wine spritzers or naturally flavored seltzer water. If you must drink, try drinking a full glass of water between each drink to help fill you up and slow down your rate of drinking.
- Snack on produce before you go to a party. Filling up on produce will boost your diet quality along with keeping you from arriving at a party so hungry that you can’t make healthy choices.
- EXERCISE! EXERCISE! EXERCISE! It has been proven that people tend to eat healthier when they exercise. Staying active will keep your calorie burning level high and remind you of your health and fitness goals throughout the holiday season. If you feel like you don’t have time, think about not saying yes to every party, squeezing in a shorter workout and planning when you will fit in exercise the day before. Part of staying consistent with exercise is putting it higher on the priority list.
“NOTHING tastes as good as HEALTHY feels”!
This holiday is a bit of a challenge for most highly-health conscious individuals. All that good food and drink can add up and before you know it, you have consumed well over a day’s worth of calories in just one meal. Honestly, a once-per-year day of overeating isn’t likely to sabotage your diet plans, though sustaining this eating behavior throughout the Holiday season might lead to a few extra pounds to lose in the New Year. The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make to your Thanksgiving plans this year that will save you some calories (without sacrificing taste or your reputation) and add some fun to your holiday.
- Fit it all on one plate: Sample small portions and avoid going back for seconds. If you’re tempted to return for more, wait for 20 minutes (about how long it takes to feel full) first.
- Eat slowly: Thanksgiving foods are likely to be richer and more filling than your everyday fare, so eat slowly and savor every bite.
- Enjoy the company of family and friends: Socialize during the meal and festivities. You can’t eat and talk at the same time- so the more conversation you enjoy, the less you’ll eat.
- Get moving: Sign up for a local Turkey trot 5K or 10K and spend Thanksgiving morning getting some exercise. So get moving and remember: No pain, no pie!
- Make some Turkey day substitutes:
Eat the white meat without the skin instead of dark meat and shave off 190 calories
Make your own cranberries rather than the jellied stuff and save 120 calories
Cut the marshmallows on your sweet potatoes and save 100 calories
Skip the green bean casserole and cut 130 calories
Choose pumpkin pie instead of pecan and save 180 calorie
The Best ways to Find Your Motivation
You can read hundreds of articles and talk about getting healthier until you’re blue in the face, but all the knowledge in the world won’t do you any good unless you’ve got the motivation to go with it. And even though getting motivated might sound like the easiest part, it’s actually the trickiest. It’s all too easy to plop down on the couch instead of hitting the gym after work, or to grab takeout instead of cooking a healthy dinner. Here are seven tips to getting and staying motivated; and for setting–and reaching–any goal you set your mind to.
- Set SMART Goals. The more specific and detailed you can be about what you’d like to achieve, the easier the process will be–and the more likely you will be to reach your goal.
- Use smaller goals to help you reach a larger goal. Focusing on a realistic target as a first step and building on that foundation gradually is often much more helpful than looking at the big picture as a whole. Achieving a series of small goals can lead to tremendous progress over time.
- Keep your motivation in mind. The first and most important step is to know WHY you want to reach the goal you have set. Sometimes, it’s as simple as reminding yourself why you’re making healthy changes and what those changes mean to you, your life and your loved ones.
- Explore. Try out lots of strategies and options. Keep the things that work for you and ditch the things that don’t. Do you hate a certain kind of exercise? Good news: You don’t have to do it! Find something else that clicks with you instead. The more you love your routine, the more likely you are to stick with it.
- Expect setbacks. Challenges will come up along your journey to a healthy lifestyle, and you’ll need to do a bit of problem solving. Barriers are common, but so are solutions. Create back-up plans for those unexpected events that might come up.
- Increase accountability. Find ways to hold yourself accountable and seek others who will hold you accountable. This will help you stay on track.
- Be positive. Research shows that keeping a positive mindset actually makes you healthier in the long run. Reflect on your progress. This is more productive and self-motivating than focusing on what’s not working.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”
Two Steps Forward
Not long ago, you were energetic and determined to start your healthy lifestyle. Starting with enthusiasm and hope, you watched your food intake diligently, tracked your blood sugar religiously and exercised like it was going out of style. You were confident in your ability to stick with a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Then certain tragedy struck! You ate the piece of birthday cake and blew it. Or worse, you missed one workout which then turned into a whole week away from the gym. After that, your momentum to start over again was gone and your gym bag has not left the closet since.
Every time you misstep on your healthy journey, you have 2 choices: to keep walking backwards, which will surely take you even further away from your goals; or to accept that your lack of perfection as normal and forgivable, and take not one, but two positive steps down the path that brings you closer to the future you want. If you’re reading this, you might have been walking backwards for a while but instead of waiting for the next day, week, month or even a year to overhaul your habits, start TODAY!
“The only way to finish your workout is to start.”
Unexpected Ways to Track Your Progress
You’re committed to a healthy lifestyle. You started exercising, ditched the soda for water and brought healthy fruits and vegetables back to the center of your plate. Then you step on the scale, only to find that you haven’t lost a single pound after all your hard work. And now you’re asking yourself, “Is it even worth it?”
Of course the answer is YES! Although weight loss can take time, there are other changes happening in your body-and mind-that you simply should not ignore. After just a few days of sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan, you might start to notice a difference in your energy level, stress level, quality of sleep and overall feelings about yourself. By tracking your progress in these areas, you CAN stay motivated and learn to appreciate all the little improvements you are seeing, regardless of what the scale tells you.
“STOP FOCUSING ON BEING SKINNY. START FOCUSING ON BEING HEALTHY!
Where Do the Days Go?
How often do you ask yourself, "Where did the day go?" Is this a common question in your life? Many of us pack so much into our daily routines, there's no time to relax-let alone exercise. Lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not having a decent fitness regimen. But do you realize that in the time it might take you to go through your email, you could fit in a good workout? I'm not talking about giving up 60 minutes either. All you need is 10! Take q quick walk around the track, around the block, or go up and down the stairs a few times. Forget the "all or nothing" mentality when it comes to exercise. Fitness does not live or die by a 60-minute workout; there is a middle ground. Short spurts of exercise, when they accumulate, have been shown to share similar benefits of longer workouts. So... start accumulating!
Healthy habits - Healthy Living: Science-backed Tips to Help You Stay Healthy and Feel Great!
- Choose power-house veggies: Those are the ones that are the most nutrient-dense, pack lots of vitamins and minerals into every calorie, and are strongly associated with reduced risk of chronic disease. According to a recent study that analyzed 47 fruits and vegetables the top 10 power-house veggies are: watercress, cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, parsley, romaine lettuce and collard greens. The fruits and vegetables that did not make the list included raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onions and blueberries. Although all contain vitamins and minerals, they are not densely packed with important nutrients.
- Run (even just a little): A new 15-year study suggests that runners may live an average of 3 years longer than people who don’t run. Researchers say it appears that running at slow speeds, for just 5 to 10 minutes a day, can also help extend your life. In fact, reports on the study suggest the risk of death dropped just as much for those who ran for less than 1 hour a week as it did for those who ran for more than 3 hours weekly. (Just a reminder... there are 168 hours each and every week and 1 hour of exercise is better than 24 hours of dead!)
- Get your blood pressure checked: High blood pressure has no symptoms. Left untreated, it can cause damage to your arteries, heart and other organs and lead to heart attack. It’s important to monitor and treat risk factors for heart attacks, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and smoking-particularly in younger women. A new study showed young and middle-aged adults are just as likely to have a heart attack today as they were during the previous decade (seniors experienced a 20% decline.) Women ages 30-54 are more likely to fare worse from heart attacks than men, and take longer to recuperate.
Get Moving Today!
If there's one magic bullet to being healthy, and wise, it's exercise. So the next time you think that you'll just work out tomorrow, check this list of research-proven facts to remind yourself to get moving today!
- Physical activity helps you lose weight by burning calories, boosting resting metabolism, and buffering you from bone and muscle loss that can result if you diet alone.
- High levels of physical activity can decrease your risk of colon cancer by 40-50%.
- Exercise helps you get better sleep. In one study, people who walked more than 6 blocks a day had one-third fewer insomnia problems than their less active cohorts.
- Walking just 30 minutes, 5 days a week, can increase your life span by 1 ½ years. Turn that inito running and it may add up to 4 years. That’s the conclusion of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which showed it’s never too late to increase longevity.
- Half-hour aerobic sessions 3-5 times a week have shown to cut symptoms of mild to moderate depression nearly in half. One study suggests that exercise can be as effective as drugs in treating major depressive disorder.
- Brisk walking for just an hour or two a week can reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by nearly 20 percent. And for those who already have the disease, walking 3-5 hours a week may reduce the chance of dying from it by as much as 50 percent.
It's Not About BMI Anymore
All the research now shows that the biggest health risk is belly fat. To keep risk low, experts say a measurement of under 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is best. Research has found that women who have waists over 37 inches have an 80% higher risk of various conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Scary, right?
The best way to keep your number in check: Regular exercise- ideally, 45 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity… Group Active, Spinning, Group Kick, Zumba 3 times a week, and three 15-20 minutes sessions of resistance training (like Group Power!)
You get the idea, right? JUST GET MOVING!
Sodium gets a bad rap-and deservedly so. Our bodies do need this mineral, but in much smaller amounts than we normally eat. To prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, a healthy sodium goal to strive for is no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. Keep in mind that sodium doesn’t just come from the salt shaker; processed foods, frozen entrees, common condiments (like ketchup), deli 6+ meats (such as salami and ham) and cheeses (including cottage cheese) can be high in sodium. Cutting back on sodium is one action you can take to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and the related complications. Keep in mind that your taste buds are probably accustomed to a strong taste of salt, so limiting your consumption might take a little getting used to, but your health is worth it, right?
Resist the "Magic Monday" Syndrome
How tempting it is to say, "I'll start over on Monday." It's the first day of the week and it seems ideal, right? Wrong! Any day is a good day to start (or recommit to) eating well and exercising. Don't let one junk-food-laden party or skipped workout derail you for days. Think of it this way. If your car suddenly started skidding, you wouldn't wait until Monday to do something, you'd take corrective action right away. Apply that principle here. As soon as you perceive a skid, grasp your mental steering wheel firmly with both hands and turn decisively in the direction you want to go!
Every morning you wake up is another chance to get it right. Just get moving!
Eat Mindfully... Every Bite Appreciated
All food is good. Remove the "good" and "bad" from your food vocabulary. You can't completely enjoy that piece of cake if you're telling yourself it is bad for you. There is no such thing as a bad or wrong food. If you get rid of the judgmental language around food, it becomes less stressful. When making food decisions, try replacing "I should" or "I shoudn't" with "I choose to." Having said that, try to follow the 80/20 rule; 80% of the time you are making good, healthy decisions surrounding food; and the other 20% of the time, just enjoy!
Always enjoy what's on your plate and never eat anything you don't enjoy. I continously ask myself, "is it worth it?" Often it is, but sometimes it really isn't. Take the first 4 bites of your meals slowly and pay full attention to the food. Savor the flavors and textures so that you can begin to understand what mindful eating feels like. "Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!"
The Why List... 10 Reasons to Exercise
1. You want to fight disease. Exercise reduces your risk of a number of conditions, such as cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
2. You want to lose weight and keep it off. This is a given, but it means that people who maintain weight loss work out regularly. They don't just exercise until the weight comes off, then go back to being a couch potato. If you really want a thinner, healthier body, there is no way to avoid being active.
3. You want to look better. Exercise doesn't just help you lose weight; it also firms the body, improves posture and gives the skin a glow.
4. You're always annoyed and sapped of energy. Research has shown that just 1 exercise session can put you in a better mood for at least 3-4 hours. It's also a documented fact that exercise combats depression, sometimes as effectively as medication.
5. You take too many sick days. If you're looking for a way to reduce colds and upper respiratory infections, a good fitness program is key.
6. You have joint pain. The right kind of exercise can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by strengthening the muscles around the damaged joints.
7. You have a bad back. Once upon a time, people with bad backs were urged to avoid physical activity. We now know that, in most cases, the best thing you can do is move.
8. You don't sleep well. Even though exercise is energizing, it also wears you out. It's a paradox, I know, but eventually you will feel more vibrant during the day and sleep better at night.
9. You want to slow the effect of aging. Exercise is one of the msot effective ways to fight aging. Regular workouts drastically reduce the loss of muscle and bone, and improve circulation. Exercise may also help stave off age-related diseases.
10. You love your kids. When you care about yourself--and exercising is a sign that you do--you are doing your kids a favor by setting a good example. If you're active, there's a better chance that your kids will be active, too. Plus, you're more likely to be around longer for them.
You probably know the effects of smoking, but do you know the wonderful effects of quitting?
- In 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
- In 12 hours, your blood's carbon monoxide level returns to normal
- In 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and lung function increases
- In 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease, and your lungs regain the ability to clean themselves and reduce the risk of infection
- In 1 year, your excess risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker
- In 5-15 years, your risk of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker
- In 10 years, your risk of lung cancer is just half that of a smoker, and your risk for several other cancers decreases too
- In 15 years, your risk of heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker
And there's more! You'll feel better, breathe easier, have more energy, regain your senses of smell and taste, enjoy whiter teeth and fresher breath, and have fewer wrinkles, lower your risk of cataracts, be proud of your accomplishment and inspire others around you.
If you or your loved one is a smoker, quitting is the very best thing you can do for your health. No matter what your age and how long you've smoked, quitting can help you live longer and healthier. What are you waiting for?
Still need more reason to make Fitness a habit?
You hear all the time that exercise is good for your health and heart. Here’s more motivation to start getting fit:
- If you’re inactive, you’re twice as likely to develop Heart Disease as people MOVING on a regular basis.
- Regular exercise naturally decreases the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in your blood while increasing the HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Exercise lowers blood pressure and helps with blood sugar control, not to mention that exercise strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system so that it’s more efficient.
Exercise does not have to be strenuous to offer benefits. Any activity that gets you up and moving, (where have you heard this before?) can benefit your heart. JUST GET MOVING!!
“Welcome to today- Another day, another chance… Feel free to change!”
Sitting is the Smoking of our Generation
As we work, we sit more than we do anything else. We’re averaging 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping. Sitting is so prevalent and pervasive that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And, everyone else is doing it also, so it doesn’t occur to us that it’s not okay.
Of course, health studies conclude that people should sit less, and get up and move around more (Where have you heard this before?) After just 1 hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%. Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism affecting things like (good cholesterol) HDL levels in our bodies. Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to 6% of the impact for heart disease, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer. Some doctors today actually believe that excessive sitting, which is defined as 9 hours a day, is a lethal activity.
So… what are you sitting there for? Get up… take a walk to see your co-worker instead of e-mailing….. On your way to the restroom, walk around the track a few times…. Take the stairs … ALWAYS….. Set a timer and at least once every hour, get up and MOVE. …. When the phone rings, stand up and talk instead of sitting. JUST GET MOVING!
GO MEATLESS ONE DAY A WEEK….
- Meat in the Middle. Instead of going completely vegetarian one day, try to go two-thirds vegetarian almost every day. It’s fairly easy to eliminate meat from a couple of meals a day. Try enjoying meat for your lunch only.
- A salad a day. Try a roasted root vegetable salad. Root vegetables have a meaty flavor, they’re substantial, and when you roast them, they have a natural sweetness.
- Rice and Beans please. There’s nothing better or simpler than pinto beans or black-eyed peas and rice. You can experiment with so many different varieties of rice and there are lots and lots of different choices for beans. Get creative!
- Get creative with substitutes. Meat substitutes are better than ever, and when you want the flavor and texture of meat, Gardein (a soy-based meat substitute) is a delicious way to get it.
- Take 2 on tacos. Tacos are a perfect kid-friendly option for any crumbled meat substitute. Mix in taco spices, and you don’t even know you’re not eating meat. Then just add lettuce, tomato, and guacamole. Taco salad is also an option. I swear, you will not miss the meat!
Assess honestly where you are today
- Can you improve your eating habits? Get more Sleep? Exercise more?
- What is your goal? Why do you want to achieve it? What will it take to attain it? When do you want to obtain it? What do you need to do to succeed?
- Break your goal into 4 smaller specific goals. (Example) Instead of I am going to lose 20 pounds. Try I am going to lose 1 pound a week. I am going to pack my lunch instead of eating out 3 days a week. I am going to watch my portions sizes. I am going to start the day by eating a healthy breakfast instead of going to Starbucks. I am going to eat fruits/ vegetables with every meal.
- What obstacles might get in your way of meeting your goal? What is your plan to overcome each obstacle?
- Lose the all of nothing attitude.
- Write your goal down in your daily planner. Send it to 2 friends.
Sleep and Sweat
All the stressors in your life aren’t likely to disappear, but there is a way to stop and even reverse the damage they do. Start by getting enough sleep. Lack of shut-eye boosts cortisol levels and can lead to metabolic imbalances that can increase your risk of heart disease. Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and cut back on fat. And find time for friends and loved ones. Strong social support- surrounding yourself with people whom you can confide in- makes coping with stress a lot easier. Finally, don’t forget about exercise. It can help stabilize our bodies’ stress-related hormonal imbalance and may reduce the effects of cortisol. It is one of the most potent antiaging behaviors known. Just get moving…. And then get some sleep!
Improve your sleeping patterns
There are many factors that can cause sleep problems, and even more potential solutions. The steps you take to improve your sleeping patterns will be individual, based on the cause of your insomnia and the treatment plan laid out by your health care provider. In addition to the many lifestyle changes that can help you sleep better, the following tips may also help improve the quality and quantity of your shut-eye:
- Stop eating at least 2 hours before your regular bedtime. If your body is trying to digest food, you won’t be able to fully relax, fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol may help you fall asleep quickly, but it can disrupt your normal sleep patterns and leave you feeling un-rested the next morning.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and foods during the afternoon and evening. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate that can delay your sleep or cause you to wake up during the night. You may want to eliminate caffeine entirely and see if your sleep improves.
- Limit your intake of fried and fatty foods, refined carbohydrates ( such as white rice, breads, pasta, and sugars) and spicy foods which can cause heartburn especially before bedtime. These foods can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- Enjoy a light snack approximately 2 hours before your bedtime. A healthy snack can help take the edge off of your hunger and help you sleep through the night. Your snack should contain mostly carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. This combination may help increase the availability of tryptophan (an amino acid that helps induce sleep) to your brain. A few nighttime snack ideas include: a small bowl of oatmeal, cereal with low-fat milk, half a bagel with peanut butter, and a sliced apple with an ounce of cheese.
Two little steps to less stress… Breathe in…. Breathe out
The ins and outs of Better Breathing
Try this relaxation exercise from breathing guru Andrew Weil, MD. The payoff? Blessed relief from constant thinking.
- Sit with your back straight
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge just behind your front teeth.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
- Inhale quietly through your nose with your mouth closed to a count of 4. Hold you breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, this time whooshing to a count of 8.
- Inhale again and repeat the exercise 3 times for a total of 4 breaths.
If you have trouble holding your breath, speed up but stick to the 4-7-8-count. Practice twice a day, but don’t do more than 4 breaths at a time for the first month; later you can work up to 8 breaths. You may feel a little light-headed, but it will pass.
Are you stressed out and too busy to notice?
If you feel like you’re always rushed, never get a break, don’t have enough time, and are dissatisfied with your relationships, job, etc., chances are you’re stressed. Stress has become so normal that most of us don’t even recognize it. Stress can also manifest as physical symptoms, such as stomachaches, headaches, chest pains or back pains. Though people often believe they’re too busy to reduce their stress level, it’s important and possible to practice stress management. Managing stress preserves the body’s nervous system, reduces disease-causing inflammation, and creates a sense of confidence and hope that you can handle life. Practice the following stress relief techniques. Any of them will work at any given moment.
- Slow down. Whatever you’re doing- whether you’re combing your hair or taking a walk- just slow down and pay more attention to what you’re doing. Decelerating the pace of everyday activities is the easiest way to relieve stress.
- Breathe deeply. When people are stressed they tend to breathe tensely and shallowly. Slowing down and breathing more deeply can reset your nervous system, producing a sense of calm. The very act of breathing more deeply into one’s belly will reduce stress instantly. The technique is simple: Breathe in a little more deeply and expand your belly when you exhale.
- Practice gratitude. Think of things you’re grateful for. Think of positiveness, not just negativeness. Expressing gratitude can have multiple benefits, including improved mood and better physical health.
Erase the effects of stress? Yes, you can!
Exercises that elicit a “relaxation” response can help your body erase the cumulative effects of stress. This relaxation response is a state of profound rest and release. When a person meditates, for example, heartbeat and respiration slow down. The body uses less oxygen and produces less carbon dioxide. Blood-lactate levels- which some researchers believe are linked with anxiety attacks, decline markedly. Blood pressure tends to stabilize in healthy individuals and drop significantly in people with hypertension. More good news: Studies have shown that this decrease in blood pressure persists with regular meditation.
Meditation is only one way to elicit this response, of course. Other methods include practicing deep-breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, and repetitive prayer. What’s crucial is that the method enables a person to interrupt everyday thoughts by focusing on a word, phrase, prayer or repetitive muscular activity.
To get the most benefit, it is recommended that you practice relaxation techniques once or twice a day for a total of10 to 20 minutes daily.
Secrets from successful Long-term losers
- Walk for 60 minutes every day. Break it up into 20-minute segments to work with your schedule if necessary.
- Watch less than 10 hours of TV a week. That’ll get you off your duff and keep you from snacking.
- Weigh yourself at least once a week. Think of the scale more like a car’s speedometer- not as a measure of success or failure.
- Go low-fat, low-cal. Aim for less than 30 percent of calories from fat and about 1,600 calories per day- this has been most successful among the National Weight Control Registry participants.
- Keep a food diary. Track your fat grams, calories.. Include ALL snacks.
- Eat 5 small meals a day, including breakfast. This helps you keep a handle on hunger.
- Dine out fewer than 3 times each week. You have more control over portion size and fat and sodium when you eat at home.
- Avoid the pitfalls of summer… hot dogs… hamburgers…potato salads….. fruity little drinks!
Boosting Mental Discipline
There are differences in how easy it is for people to resist distraction but we all have the potential to improve our focus. Boosting our mental discipline can help us to excel at work and any other interests…… And we all want to excel, right?
- Unitask. Multitasking may seem like a valuable skill, but the brain actually works best on one issue at a time. Think of the brain as a big ship- it takes a while to build momentum. Switching back and forth between tasks doesn’t give it enough time to address any particular problem.
- Get motivated. How much we actually want to work on a task greatly affects focus. Boost your motivation by thinking about how important the task is, the rewards of finishing it and what might happen if you don’t.
- Prioritize. You probably already do this or you would never get through the day. The more systematically you do it, though, the easier it will be to focus on a particular chore. That’s partially because in deciding which task is most important, you’re motivated by thinking about the outcome.
- Eat. A well-timed snack can help bring your attention back in line. The effort it takes to concentrate literally uses energy. On super-intense days, consider several mini-meals instead of one big one for a steady source of energy.
- Meditate. As little as 15 minutes of meditation a day can dramatically improve focus. Meditation improves self-awareness, so you know if your attention has drifted off, you can bring it back.
Exercise is the ultimate anti-ager
But all workouts are not created equal. Here is the bottom line on what really works for what.....
The most youth-restoring move you can make is exercise! It's the one prescription that has the power to affect every cell and system in your body, reducing your risk of developing dozens of diseases, slowing down aging and adding years to your life. The benefits are huge and they are extensive. Being inactive is one of the strongest predictors of mortality- far more important than even obesity. But with all of the exercise options out there, how do you know which workouts do what. If you're not active by nature, what's the minimum you can do and still get good results? Here is all the info you need to write your own "fountain of youth" exercise plan.
- You want to live longer and keep your heart healthy?
Commit to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 5 days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio 3 days a week.
Result: Add about 4 years to your life and reduce your risk of dying from heart disease almost niefold.
- You want to stay sharp?
Commit to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 3 times a week.
Result: A brain 3 years younger.
- You want to slim down?
Commit to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 5 days a week.
Result: You'll drop 4-6 pounds a year.
So who doesn't want to live longer.. have a healthy heart....Keep your brain sharp.. and lose a couple of pounds?
Get Moving! Happy St. Patricks Day!
One Small Change
Doing only one thing differently can be all it takes to lose weight and improve your life in surprising, healthy ways.....
- Walk- Take a brisk stroll on flat terrain..... Pick up the pace, so you're power-walking. Go at a challenging clip and hit the hills or add incline.
- Run- Jog slowly and steadily on flat footing.....Run like the wind...Do intervals (1 minute a level 5 and 1 at level 9. Repeat 18 times).
- Bike- Joyride around your neighborhood... Pedal with power for a focused, medium-fast trek...Do a Spinning class!
- Swim- Glide through the pool with a consistent crawl stroke... Up the oomph of every kick ( and your time in the pool).... Sticking to your race pace, double the time on the clock!
- Rowing Machine- Pull steadily so you've got gusto in reserve...Row more vigorously, as though you're racing....8 minutes at level 8; 2 minutes at 5. Repeat 4 times!
- Eliptical trainer- Stride steadily at a comfortable pace...Don't be afraid to get a good sweat going....Intervals: 2 minutes at level 8; 1 minute at level 5. Repeat 20 times!
Your calorie count can go from 100 to 250 or 500 depending on your choice.... One small change!
Doesn't Have to be All or Nothing!
If it’s one thing I wish I could fix, it would be people’s “all or nothing” approach when thinking about health. Don’t start some diet that’s so vastly different from the way you eat- figure out something that fits your preferences and approach this as an ongoing process. Can I save a bit here? Can I burn a bit there? Most experts agree it all boils down to changing your relationship with food. The most important component to losing stress around weight is letting go of the diet mentality, which creates guilt. When we get caught up in that type of thinking, it becomes hard to listen to your body and its cues, and that’s one of the most reliable tools we have. In other words, a little inner conversation can go a long way. Consciousness, mindfulness, whatever you want to call it, is about creating a calm, nonjudgmental voice in your brain that will allow you to relax around food and enjoy each bite.
It doesn’t make sense to talk about diet and weight control without mentioning exercise, but instead of thinking boot camp, just try increasing your activity level. Exercise is a known stress reducer, and those who do the best with the weight-gain-with-age trend are those who move regularly. Just think 10-15 minute blocks, twice a day. Just 15 minutes of resistance training, 2-3 times a week, to preserve the strength we naturally lose over time. Combine that with just 15 minutes of something active- say walking- and you have met the Government’s daily activity recommendation.
Lastly, make your setbacks temporary. As you adjust to these changes, be kind to yourself. Everyone has days when exercise doesn’t happen or a co-worker brings in cookies. Don’t punish yourself for merely being human. The key to keeping these situations low-stress is to treat every experience separate.
The Importance of Resistance Training
Whether you’re new to exercise or you are an accomplished athlete, one of the most important ways to train your body is through resistance training which helps to build lean body mass. In order to properly train your body- and in order to see results like muscle toning, increased metabolism, increased bone density, and weight loss- incorporating some form of resistance training into your weekly exercise routine is essential. The Benefits of Strength Training… Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance like weighted barbells, dumbbells, exercise tubing, or your own body weight. Recently there has been tremendous scientific research promoting resistance training and the corresponding overall health benefits. That same research has taken away some of the common misconceptions associated with resistance training. Contrary to some belief, resistance training will not make you bulky or big. In fact, resistance training is the key to:
- Weight loss and increased muscle tone
- Developing strong bones
- Increasing metabolism
- Improving endurance and reducing injury
Where do you start? One of the hardest parts of incorporating a strength training program into your life is knowing where to start. In addition, knowing what and how often to lift, coupled with proper exercise technique can prevent you from feeling successful and seeing results. Group Power classes offer effective, often less intimidating, and arguably more fun ways to experience resistance training and keep you motivated. These classes are appropriate for all ages and fitness levels no matter what your level of experience. Not only are they an effective way to train your muscles, they are also time-efficient. In just 2-3 hours a week, you can experience a full-body workout that includes all the benefits of resistance training.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association now jointly recommend twice-weekly strength training sessions, in addition to moderate or intense cardiovascular activity. There are many benefits of resistance training, and perhaps the most accessible is that it can help you lose weight and keep your body strong. No matter what your strength training goals might be, it is never too late to start some form of resistance training. Getting involved in a regular strength training program is essential to keep you healthy, and leaner for longer.
Please pick up a Group Ex. Schedule to see which Group Power class fits your schedule.
Creating Exercise Habits
So you’ve made a resolution about committing to weight loss and starting to exercise and then your initial enthusiasm and energy wane. We get distracted by other things going on in our lives, or we do not think we are seeing results quickly enough, and we throw in the towel. Many people do manage to hang in there and make exercise a lifetime habit, and I know you can be one of them!
A recent study asked long-time exercisers what motivated them to keep up with their regimes. Primarily the exercisers were not as concerned with specific physical goals, like being toned, or having bulging biceps, as they were with feeling good and being healthy.
Here’s is how the participants ranked their motivators:
- Feelings of well-being
- Pep and energy
- Enjoyment of exercise
- Sleeping better
- Feeling alert
- Being relaxed
- Weight Management
How do you become one of the fitness faithful?
- Find something that you enjoy.
- Exercise in a group or with another person- Exercise retention is improved when exercising in a group and/or with another person.
- Make exercise a priority and schedule it in- Exercise has to be scheduled weekly or you will never get to it. Finding 2-3 hours a week should not be so difficult when you plan in advance.
- Be aware of all the indicators of progress- We all love it when our clothes fit better, but this is not the only indicator of progress. Lifting heavier weights (Group Power) or being able to workout longer without getting exhausted are other indicators of progress that can keep you on track.
- Understand that exercise is not a luxury, it is a necessity! Everyone needs exercise. The conversation that you have with yourself has to change from “if I have the time” to “I must make the time”, or from “if I can fit it in” to “when will I fit it in?” Again, you have to rethink your personal schedule, allowing 2-3 1-hour appointments with exercise per week. In the grand scheme of things this is equal to one night in front of the television. What do think is more important?
Make a positive choice today; It could completely change your life.
Review your Goals….
Be sure to revisit your goals along the way. Look back at your initial goals and be sure to celebrate your successes thus far. As you progress, set new challenges for yourself and keep your goals current.
- How much exercise do you need?
- Want to feel less fatigued? -60 minutes per week
- Better sleep?- 120 minutes per week
- Stronger bones? 120 minutes per week
- Stay sharp and a younger brain?-135 minutes per week
- Healthy heart-modest weight loss? 150 minutes per week
- Significant sustained weight loss?- 250 minutes per week
So I am sure you’re thinking … How can I possibly find the time? Well, there are 10,080 minutes in every week. I’m thinking you can fit this in! Please let me know if I can help in any way.
8 million women in the Unites States are living with Heart Disease, yet only one in 6 believe heart disease is her greatest health threat.
- 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.While one in 30 American women dies from breast cancer each year, one in 3 dies of cardiovascular disease.
- 42% of women die within a year of suffering a heart attack-compared with 24% of men.
- Women younger than 45 who suffer a heart attack are at a higher risk of death.
- Some 26% of women in this age group die within a year of a heart attack, compared with 19% of men, and 47% of women are dead after 5 years versus 36% of men.
Common symptoms for women include pain of the jaw, arm, or back, but most report a delay in seeking treatments after the symptoms began of anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 weeks. Women are less likely to call 911 for themselves when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack than they are if someone else were having a heart attack.
Heart disease is silent and it’s hidden and misunderstood. Women tend to take care of everyone else first. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
Women can do their part by quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, adding an exercise routine and watching your weight.
Also, to help get the word out and raise awareness, please plan on participating in the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women National Wear Red Day this Friday. Do it for yourself or for any woman you might know with heart disease.
The “No-Diet Diet”
Keep your appetite under control- and cut calories painlessly with these little changes that will help you achieve a healthy weight.
- Start with soup- Research shows that people who began with soup ate less during the main course. Not only are they filling, but most soups are also swimming with nutrients we need. Choose tomato, broth, veggie or bean-based soups and lower –sodium canned versions.
- Go nuts- Need a snack? Grab a handful of nuts to keep hunger at bay. Most varieties-like pistachios, peanuts, almonds and walnuts- are rich in healthier fats, protein and fiber, all of which help keep you feeling fuller.
- Power your breakfast with protein- Adding lean protein to a healthy breakfast can help you hold off hunger. Try a side of scrambled egg, a scoop of whey protein stirred into a smoothie or a handful of nuts on hot cereal.
- Dilute your drinks- Cut calories from energy drinks or fruit juices by filling your glass with two-thirds of your usual drink and topping it with seltzer or plain water.
- Prep produce- Make a vow to, as soon as you return from the market, wash and cut up produce that can be enjoyed raw. They’ll be ready to grab when you need a snack.
- Fruit first- Craving something sweet? Reach for a piece of fruit. Wait 15 minutes, then reassess if you still want that brownie. You might find that a smaller piece will do- or even that your craving is gone (it is possible, you know).
Sign up for our Weight Watchers at Work program and learn even more….
Change Your Life for Good
You swore this was the year you would stick to your resolutions, but that jumbo tin of popcorn and comfy couch are calling you every night! Join the club.
About 40 percent of Americans make a vow on Jan. 1st- and half relapse within the first 21 days. How to sail though that critical launch period and keep on going?
- Watch your wording: many a resolution have failed simply because they were expressed too vaguely. Be specific with an action plan. Instead of “ I Want to lose weight” try- “I plan to drop 1 pound a week by cutting out late-night snacking.” Hoping to eat in more often? Commit to whipping up a home-cooked meal 3 night s a week.
- Build your case: To help clarify your goals and pump up your motivation, make a list of pros and cons. So if you’re aiming to exercise more, pros would include as many reasons as possible to support that (you’ll lose weight, sleep better, boost your immunity, and lower stress.) The cons would identify anything that might stand in the way of your success- say a busy schedule. Don’t even attempt to tackle that resolution until the driving factors far outweigh the obstacles.
- Set up incentives: The urge to return to your old way is going to be pretty powerful at times, which is why it is critical to plan rewards. If you have packed a healthy lunch all week, treat yourself to a lunch out. Shopping is always good!
- Rally support: Research proves that people who make healthy changes together are more likely to succeed. The more similar your objectives are, the better you’ll all do- so if your close pals aren’t up for your brand of self-improvement, keep looking.
- Plan ahead for slip-ups: Setbacks are inevitable. But you can improve your chances of a quick recovery by visualizing the fallout in advance. Imagine yourself reaching for a cigarette or biting into a brownie. What will you do to avoid smoking the whole pack or scarfing down every sweet for the rest of the day? Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding yourself that a small misstep is just that- a pause in your progress rather than an excuse to throw in the towel- and that you can pick right up where you left off.
REMEMBER THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO REACH THEIR GOALS AND THOSE WHO DON’T IS THAT THOSE WHO SUCCEED DIDN’T GIVE UP.
Holiday Survival Guide
- Trick the chef: Chew gum while cooking to avoid nibbling(many) calories while preparing food. Tasting for taste is one thing but eating half of the cookie dough before they hit the oven is another story!
- Rally the troops: Go for a walk with your aunts. Invite your cousin to the gym with you, or join the kids for a snowball fight- being active with family and friends is the best way to stay active and have quality time too.
- Party Patrol: Enjoy the people at the party and don’t linger by the food table. Ladies, carry a clutch-size purse or guys, carry your cell phone in one hand, which leaves just one hand available for that champagne glass. Free hands + buffet = holiday scarf-down.
- Snack smartly: Snacking if good, but not when it’s candy canes, red and gren m & ms and sugar cookies. Eat high-protein snacks like nuts, greek yogurt and fruit, or an apple with peanut butter 12-3 hours before a party of family dinner to avoid over-eating later on.
- Drink to excess: guzzle the lots and lots of water before each meal and you’ll consume 75-90 fewer calories and stay hydrated too. Research shows that drinking 2 cups of water before each meal lost an average of 4.5 pounds over those who didn’t.
- Be prepared: Traveling for the holidays? Pack your sneakers, a resistance band, and a jump rope and you’ve got all you need for a full-body workout. Go for a morning run and do a quick circuit- or if it’s too cold, hit the local gym.
Remember it really is just about moderation. Enjoy your holiday! We’ll worry about the resolutions in January!
Boost Your Brain Power
Meditation requires you to tap all the self-regulation systems in your brain as well as the self-monitoring mechanism. Every time you meditate, you use two important parts of your brain: the prefrontal cortex, which helps you make smart choices, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which helps you be aware of when you make such choices and when you don’t. The more you activate these systems, the more powerful they become, so in the future it will feel easier to do the right thing. Eventually you will start to notice whenever you are doing something that is inconsistent with your goals.
How great will this be! How to get started?
Work your will: Meditate for just 1 minute every day for the next week. Here’s how to get started: Sit quietly with your eyes closed and count your breaths. When you reach 10, begin again. Whenever your mind wanders from your breath, start again at one. Work up to 5 minutes a day.
Healthy Eating for Busy Families
America is getting fatter and Pennsylvania is helping to lead the way as one of the nation’s top 20 “Most obese” states. Our busy lifestyles encourage unhealthy eating habits, like eating on the run, and high/fat – sugar snacking. But with just a little effort, you can gradually transform your family’s diet from “fat” to “fit”.
- Start your day off right – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Kids who eat breakfast- especially those packed with “brain food” like protein, vitamin C, and omega 3- are more alert and focused in school; adults have more energy and concentrate better.
- Think smart when it comes to fast-food lunches- no time to pack your own lunch? Use healthy strategies when dining out: Say no to fried, sautéed, or creamy foods. Opt for roasted, grilled, broiled, steamed, or baked. Beware of add-ons (like mayo, butter, and salad dressing) that quickly increase calorie counts. Replace sodas with water of fat-free or 1% milk. Even diet sodas can be bad for you. Go online for the nutrition info on your favorite meal. Don’t just focus on calories: look at factors like fat and sodium count.
- Make dinner a family affair- Eating together as a family offers countless benefits- including serving more balanced, nutritious meals and the chance to act as “healthy – eating” role models. Talk to your children about portion control, with fruits and vegetables comprising half of every plate. Reduce the amount of meat your family eats by gradually introducing healthy alternatives into your meals, like fish, whole grains, and beans. Look for seasonal produce that is locally grown. In the Fall, that means vegetables like pumpkins and squash, and fruits like apples and pears.
Remember… We are what we eat…. So why not make it healthy!