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October 17, 2019

A Story with Heart

When considering our health, so many times we think about starting better habits on Monday, or after a big celebration, or at the beginning of a new y

October 10, 2019

Ever Get Mad at…You?

I recently saw a post from a wonderful lady we’ll call Ann. (This is not her real name, so you can insert any name you prefer to use here. Maybe you

October 2, 2019

Managing Inherited Behaviors

Ice cream is still my favorite food. It has been my favorite food my entire life, as far back as I can recall. I firmly believe that my fondness for i

September 29, 2019

Fresh fruits and veggies, fish, good fats make healthy eating delicious

(The following article first appeared in the February 14, 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. Online version) T

September 26, 2019

Applause for Your Consistency

Today, I acknowledge and applaud you for your commitment to consistency. Whether you consistently make a conscious effort to consume more vegetables f

September 19, 2019

No Time? Quick Meal Ideas

No time. Can you relate? I’ve been feeling the crunch of more scheduled evening events—and I no longer have kids going back to school! As I sat lo

September 12, 2019

The Biggest Nutritional Challenge

When it comes to losing weight and improving nutrition, what is the #1 challenge? Go ahead, take a guess. If your answer is, “I don’t know what I

September 5, 2019

Mr. Non-Compliant Ate Gross Greens

Miracles do happen and life is full of surprises. If your loved one is not keen on eating as healthy as you’d like, keep the faith. I offer you a st

August 28, 2019

The Other 84% of Health

In last week’s blog, I mentioned water intake, slower eating, and increased movement. Did you pick up on the fact that I never suggested WHAT to eat

August 21, 2019

Back to School, Back to Basics

When we break it down, practicing healthy habits is rather elementary. It can also seem rather complicated. Since school is back in session, I figured

Enjoy the Game

Enjoy the Game.

Many people think about health and fitness as drudgery. It’s work, requires discipline, and inflicts a certain amount of pain. We have to stop eating food we REALLY like that brings us immediate gratification and comfort. Then, we have to face the music of what happens later.

I get it. Some days I feel like giving up. Some days when the wind chill is below zero or it is pouring down rain, I don’t want to go to the gym.

Then, there is the food part of the equation. All the workouts in the world will not compensate for a junky diet. What is up with that? Currently, with this extremely cold weather, I want to eat every CARB that isn’t moving—which is all of them. Bread, bagels, cookies, pasta. You get the idea. 

So, what’s a human to do? We would love to be healthy without having to take medication, exercise, and still be able to eat whatever we want.

Enjoy the Game. Have fun trying new things, whether it is new-to-you “healthier” foods, some new fitness program, or finding an accountability buddy to support you. Think of this entire experience as an experiment. Try something and decide if you like the results. If it works, GREAT! If not, try something else.

How can you make healthy FUN? As we move into 2017, my plan is to offer some ways to take the drudgery out of health and fitness. Hint: it’s all about our attitude.

When we enjoy the game, we stay in the game. Why do I STILL go to the gym when it’s freezing or I’m tired? When I go, I am surrounded by FUN friends who may not want to be there either. We purposely tell one another, “See you tomorrow,” and we like to stay honest. We keep each other on track. I NEED them!

About those carbs? Well, I ate macaroni and cheese yesterday (and didn’t do so well with my vegetables). I REALLY enjoyed it and today I am just fine. The key here is that I sometimes consciously cave a little, so I don’t go crazy one day and EAT EVERYTHING. Every so often, I do eat everything anyway, and then I move on. Balance, balance, balance.

And on that note, enjoy the holidays in a way that is special for you. I am excited to spend Christmas with my family and eat our traditional foods that my Grandma Mary used to make. Today I made nutrolls that are AMAZING! We eat them on Christmas morning. Enjoy the Game! 

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”Benjamin Franklin

November’s Healthy Lifestyle Habit

RELAX!

This time of year, people tend to be wound pretty tight. The intensity gains momentum as we move into December, in preparation for the holidays. This month, stockings-1816094_640make it a habit to relax.

You may think this relaxing idea sounds crazy, so let’s analyze the facts:

  • Stress causes LOTS of health problems and can sometimes make us cranky
  • When we feel rushed, we tend to make mistakes, forget important details and even get hurt
  • Burning the candle at both ends may contribute to us being less productive in the long run
  • We make poor food choices when we don’t take some time to plan ahead, which leads to unnecessary remorse
  • Our exercise routine is likely to get pushed aside because we think we are much too busy for self-care, when the exercise will help us feel better
  • Working, shopping, decorating, entertaining are all more enjoyable when you are able to go through the process in a calm, relaxed manner

Have I sold you on this idea yet? Keep in mind that whether you choose to be uptight or relaxed, time will pass you by just the same. YOU decide how you want to live your life, one day at a time. Thanksgiving dinner will come and go whether you are a frazzled mess or lighthearted and calm. Everything works out fine in the end, even if it isn’t perfect!

Okay, so this all sounds like a fairytale, right? Doesn’t have to be. Here are some ideas to help you RELAX your way into 2017:

  • When you feel anxious, focus on your breathing. Take some slow, deep, breaths by breathing in for a count of four, holding for four, and exhaling for eight. Try to breaths that go into your belly. Doing this little exercise for even a minute or two will allow you to relax into the present moment.
  • Allow more time than you think you need for your tasks. By doing this, you won’t be as apt to rush. For example: shopping at the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving is going to take more time than if you do it the Monday before the holiday. Expect it to take time and if that is the only day you are able to shop, mentally prepare for this and enjoy the process. Odds are good you will run into your neighbors and friends during the outing, so enjoy it!
  • Plan a few minutes at the end of the day for quiet time. You may choose to read something light, listen to your favorite music, or sit in silence and pet your dog. girl-1561943_640(My Sophie likes that last idea best!)
  • When you have lots to accomplish and feel stressed, ASK for help. Are there other members of your family who can run and pick up the item you forgot at the store, or wrap the last-minute gift? This small favor may give you a chance to sit for 5 minutes and breathe.
  • Go ahead and exercise when you think you don’t have time. You DO have time and you will feel much more relaxed because you did!
  • What is it that you love to do? Whatever it is, do it, even if it is only for half an hour or so.

I have a client that recently went on an overnight retreat. She unexpectedly had extra time the day she was preparing to leave and spent oodles of time packing. It was very relaxing and peaceful, and it set her up to enjoy her experience of the retreat even more fully.board-393835_640

So, what will I do differently? I am having guests for Thanksgiving dinner this year. I have already begun the process of cleaning the house, so I am not running around like a turkey with my head cut off on Wednesday. I am looking at the week ahead and deciding when I will do the shopping, make the pies, set the table, etc. Simply reviewing the list of what needs to happen and PLANNING makes me feel more relaxed.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. I wish you and your family a most blessed Thanksgiving!

October’s Healthy Lifestyle Habit

Need Sleep?

Questions: Do you get enough sleep? How much is enough? Does it really matter over the long haul?

Answers: Probably not. Seven to eight hours seems to be ideal. Sleep is just as newborn-216723_640important as diet and exercise, as it pertains to good health.

This is one of those habits that tends to get overlooked; yet it has a HUGE impact on our health. Studies show that a lack of sleep may contribute to weight gain and obesity. When we don’t get our required amount of sleep, hormones that affect appetite and other important functions may get out of whack. Another big (and perhaps the most obvious) reason that non-sleepers gain weight is simple: they are awake more hours and can do more eating.

Folks who get less than 7.5 hours of sleep each night are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac arrest, than those who get more zzzz’s. Along with the weight gain that may be attributed to sleep deficiency, there is also the increased likelihood of insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes.

Wow. Feeling like you should go take a nap?

I think some people think it is heroic to get less sleep; like it is a badge of honor because they are getting more done. Or, perhaps they just like to stay up and watch movies or late night TV to relax. Then, there’s the college-age crowd that studies until some crazy hour, or decides to meet up with friends starting at 11pm. Oh, youth!

Some do not get proper rest because of untreated sleep apnea. If you think your loved one stops breathing during the night, snores loud enough to wake the neighbors, or falls asleep anytime they sit still during the day, consider a sleep apnea test. It could add years to their life, not to mention, life to their years. I know many people who are much happier and healthier because they now have their CPAP machines at night. Their spouses are happier too!                                                                                                            morning-1092771_640What can you do to encourage better sleep habits?
*Maintain consistent bedtimes and wake times, even on weekends
*Keep the room dark and quiet
*Try some form of relaxation and self-care before bedtime, which excludes TV, movies, computers, and stressful discussions
*Keep the temperature of the room between 66 and 72 degrees F
*Avoid any stimulants like caffeine and nicotine later in the day
*Regular exercise improves sleep, although some do not do well exercising in the evening
*Avoid going to bed with a full stomach
*Get help for sleep apneaice-cream-967094_640

So, based on these suggestions for restful sleep, I guess eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream while watching The Walking Dead could explain why I don’t sleep well some nights.

There is always room for improvement…. Sweet dreams!

Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds. ~JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002

(Reference: Precision Nutrition Blog: All About Sleep by Ryan Andrews)

Become Empowered!

October is the month to become empowered. It is the time to get your mental game on with food. Once we celebrate Halloween, many typically begin the season of the “mucous mess.” It is all downhill from that point.     halloween-candy-1014629_640“Mucous mess” refers to the season between October 31st and January 1st. Sugar consumption is at an all-time high; there are severe temperature swings here in the Midwest, often within a day. Add to the mix a lack of exercise–because there is no time for such a luxury—the stress of daily life, and it happens: people start getting sick. Immune systems are a wreck and this dreadful cycle continues for months. The coughing, sneezing, and runny nose syndrome becomes like family that repeatedly visits for the holidays. Oh, not to mention those extra 5, 10 or 20 pounds. Why begin healthy habits in November with all those eating fests on the horizon?

October is my month to boycott this nonsense to the best of my ability and set myself up healthy-food-1348430_640for a healthy holiday season. I practice the art of clean eating, since I am a bit lax in the summer. (Yes, even I sometimes take a healthy food vacation. It’s why I follow the 80/20 rule, 20 being the non-healthy selections. 🙂 ) My mainstay foods are vegetables, fruits, lean protein, good fats and plenty of water. I avoid refined sugars and excess carbohydrates, which translates to ice cream, bread, cookies, etc. I eat REAL food and avoid those foods that do not serve me in a positive way. EVERYTHING we eat leads us toward better health or away from better health. There is no such thing as neutral when it comes to food.

Choosing to eat this way is a very empowering experience, in addition to the health and weight benefits. Think about it: there is very little in this life that we are able to control. What you CAN control is how much you exercise and what (and how much!) you eat. YOU DECIDE!

By practicing the habit of making good choices—not perfect, but BETTER—you may not woman-1209866_640need a resolution January 1, 2017 that concerns losing weight and getting in shape. What if you could begin the New Year with your focus on achieving your lifelong dreams, instead of avoiding the cookies?

That, my friends, is empowering!

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”
― Plutarch