The Lawn Makes a Great Work(out) Space!

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There’s something to be said for old-fashioned, outdoor manual labor. It makes you feel accomplished, connects you to nature and comes with the bonus of making you feel fitter.

Try these “work outs” and feel the burn. Put your muscles to good use and tally up the calories you’ll shed from these fall chores.

Mow the lawn
Personally, I am the proud owner/operator of an old-fashioned push mower. Automated equipment adds convenience but cuts out the cardio, muscle stimulation and calorie-burning effects of hard work. If you, like Greg Moses, are the kind of person who custom installs a jumbo cup holder on your riding mower so you can sip on your Big Gulp of Sweet Tea, then you are probably reading the wrong article.
Ditch the riding mower for a traditional push mower for a cardio workout that conditions the legs and core. According to CalorieCount.com, a 150-pound man can burn 408 calories an hour push-mowing the lawn. By the same calculations, the calorie breakdown for a 250-pound man drinking a 96 ounce Mountain Dew while riding a mower equates to gaining 3 pounds – okay, this part I just made up.
Trim the hedges
Gas-powered hedge trimmers are for cheaters. For better fitness, grab a pair of manual trimmers. They stimulate muscles in the forearms and shoulders and, according to FitDay.com, one hour of playing Edward Scissorhands will trim off approximately 235 calories.
Truthfully, the only reason I don’t personally use gas-powered trimmers is because I don’t own some. This is my least favorite outdoor “workout,” but I still do it out of necessity.
Rake the leaves
You might want to wait for a calm day for this one, but raking on a windy day just means more of a workout. There is nothing like raking your pile of leaves to one side of the yard only to see them scatter like Greg Moses when the dinner check arrives.
According to the Discovery Health online calorie counter, raking the leaves for one hour racks ups nearly 292 calories. Your shoulders will feel the burn, too. If you are raking up leaves, change the movement and direction to make full use of your muscles. Rake in front of your body to target your shoulders. Rake both right to left and left to right to work both arms evenly. This way, you’ll help prevent blisters by avoiding repetitive motions. Gloves are a necessity, as well, for obvious reasons.
Chop firewood
If you want to get a workout and look like a tough guy wielding a giant axe, don’t just buy prepared firewood – toughen up and chop it yourself. Just 30 minutes of this lumber-jacked workout will pump up the back, shoulders and core, and cut your calorie surplus by 247 according to Livestrong.com. What does it say about me if my fireplace is gas?
Weed the garden
The grass is cut, shrubs trimmed, leaves raked and there’s enough firewood to last an ice age. But the yard could still use a few aesthetic touches. Dig, hoe, weed, plant and water your way to a beautiful yard and garden for 30 minutes and you will expend approximately 160 calories.
Stretch
You may have experienced some aching muscles after working outside in the past, but there are actually several things you can do to prevent this soreness while still enjoying the outdoors:
* Yard work utilizes your major muscle groups just like any workout. So, always warm up first by simply taking a short walk around your yard or down the block to get the blood flowing to your muscles.
* Try some light stretches for your hamstrings and lower back (especially if you’ll be doing a lot of bending). I have found this to be absolutely essential when I am pulling weeds or weed-eating.
* It’s a good idea to take a few breaks throughout the day to drink some extra water and do some additional stretching. Hydration, while always important, is critical to reducing post-workout soreness.
If you learn nothing else from this column, learn to stretch before working outside in your yard. Your hamstrings, shoulders, and most importantly, your back will thank you.

Get to work and live well.


Give Your Kids a Healthy Start to the School Year

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We often associate this time of year with back to school clothes shopping, football season kicking off,  pools closing, and for stay at home parents, the celebration of kids going back to school.

This time of year always proves challenging to my family for healthy breakfast and lunch options on the run.  My girls will try all kinds of foods but they get burned out easily on the same healthy snack or meal.  While doing some research for healthy, fast options for feeding my girls this fall, I came across some nice recommendations from ohmyveggies.com

Quick Breakfast Options

1. Purely Elizabeth Probiotic Granola // A healthy dose of vegan probiotics make this ancient grain granola even better for you.

2. Living Intentions Superfood Cereal // Forget those sugar-laden boxed cereals, these cereals contain a unique blend of superfoods and come in irresistible flavors like Cacao Crunch, Acai Blueberry and Radiant Raspberry.

3. Birch Benders Protein Pancake & Waffle Mix // Pancakes on a weekday morning? Birch Benders makes it easy—just add water and heat up your griddle for a hot, protein-packed breakfast.

4. Ezekiel Sprouted Waffles // Frozen waffles are usually pretty light on nutrition and substance, but these waffles will keep your kids full until lunch.

5. EnviroKidz Crispy Rice Bars // These bars are perfect for eating in the car when you’re running late—not that you’re ever running late, of course!

6. Sweet Home Farm Granola // We love the milk carton packaging of this granola, but we love the fact that it’s made with non-GMO ingredients, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors and colors even more.

7. Orgain Healthy Kids Nutrition Shakes // Some kids just don’t want to eat in the morning; these sippable shakes have all the nutrients they need to start the day.

8. Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt Pouches // We’re huge fans of these yogurt pouches because they’re made with whole milk.

Quick Lunch Options
1. GoRaw Sprouted Bars // We love topping these raw sprouted seed bars with almond butter and slices of ripe pear as an alternative to PB&J.

2. Dang Toasted Coconut Chips // These chips are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals—and their sweetness and crunch makes them a crowd-pleaser with the kids too.

3. Brami Lupini Beans // Never heard of lupini beans? They have the highest amount of protein per calorie of any plant, with more fiber per calorie than every plant except collards and berries. We love the Garlic & Herb flavor.

4. Tickle Water // Soda in a lunch is a no-no, but Tickle Water isn’t soda—it’s naturally-flavored sparkling water. No sugar! No preservatives or weird flavors! It’s not neon orange! It’s kind of a game-changer for kids drinks.

5. Crispy Fruit // Put an apple in your kids lunchbox and it’ll probably still be in there when they get home from school. But Crispy Fruit won’t come back home with them—it’s perfectly crispy, all-natural freeze-dried fruit and kids love it.

6. Ginger’s Healthy Habits Veggie Trail Mix // So many raw veggie snacks kind of taste the same, but we’re a little bit obsessed with this one because it tastes like pepperoni pizza. And who doesn’t love pizza?!

7. Larabar Bites // It’s pretty hard to improve upon the original Larabar, but these bites do it. They’re perfect for tucking into a small lunch.

8. Hail Merry Bites // Every lunch needs a little something sweet and these bites are a treat you can feel good about—they’re made with almond flour and coconut oil. The 2-bite packs are ideal for school lunches.

9. Biena Rockin’ Ranch Chickpeas // These are even better than ranch chips because: crispy roasted chickpeas! They’re dairy-free, non-GMO, and made without any artificial flavors or preservatives.

My Personal Recommendations

Kids Clif Bar-My kids enjoy the chocolate chip bar.  Natural ingredients and a pretty healthy option for a breakfast on the go.

Sliced Turkey or Sliced Chicken on Whole Wheat Bread-Both of my kids will eat peanut butter and jelly but due to food allergy concerns at their school we’ve adjusted over to a Cajun Turkey or Chipotle Chicken and cheese for their go-to lunches.  My wife throws in some light chips and some grapes or fruit and they are set.  Wait, it’s ham not turkey?  Yes, she’s always done their lunches (I’m more of the dinner prep guy).  Very thankful.
Stay Healthy On the Run and Live Well!


Back To School Health

back-to-school-healthThe number of overweight people in the United States, including children, has increased more than 30 percent in the last 30 years, and activity levels are down considerably while screen time is up. What can you do as a parent to help your family and your children get fit and healthy and stay that way throughout the school year?

Unfortunately, the days are gone when parents can simply tell children to “go outside and play,” Instead, even during beautiful summer weather, children want to be in front of screens (TV, computer, handheld devices) and frequently snacking, habits that undermine a healthy lifestyle. Pokémon GO may appear to be keeping your child active, but don’t be deceived. Those walking while tracking Pokémon GO often move at a snail’s pace.

Those who are physically active feel the benefits, and they are more likely to continue the positive and healthy trend.

Parents can be great role models. Here are some things you can do:

1. First and foremost, parents are the ultimate role models for being fit and eating healthy. So, limit your own TV and screen time, increase physical activity and eat the right foods.  I’ve been known to watch quite a bit of sports on television myself but I get 5 or 6 workouts in per week on average.

2. Remove TVs and computers from your children’s bedroom. They may object at first, yet over time they will unconsciously sense the benefits of less screen time and feel more connected to the world around them.

3. Consider practicing the concept of being mindful. Mindfulness is being aware in the present and helps break unconscious habits such as snacking and using screens incessantly (constantly checking email, Twitter or Facebook). For example, you and your children can ask yourselves, “Do I really want this food?” instead of thoughtlessly eating because that is what you typically do.

4. Make physical activity a family priority. Try starting with 10 minutes daily, working towards 30 minutes of activity each day. For example, dance to loud music that your children love or walk to the store to run errands. Consider organizing a group game or sport at a local gym. Take your children swimming at the YMCA.

5. Attempt to enroll children in activities in your community, but if they are resistant, it’s best not to force them initially. Instead, focus on doing physical activities with your child with the goal of having them want to participate in a sport or physical activity with same-age peers during the school year. If you start increasing their activities now, you can reach that goal by the time school and town sports begin in mid-September.

6. Pursue outdoor family activities such as walking at one of Athens/McMinn County’s many trails, going for nature hikes or exploring nature on camping trips. Studies indicate that time spent outside increases mental health dramatically.

7. Avoid sugary drinks and instead introduce a water-drinking challenge to see who can drink the most water each day.

8. Focus on what you should be eating, not what you should avoid eating. Do not eliminate sweets completely, but use healthy fruit and yogurt recipes to satisfy sweet cravings. Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, healthy grains and proteins, and engage your children in finding interesting new recipes to try.

9. Studies indicate that sleep is tied to weight maintenance. Especially during the summer there is no reason that your children can’t get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, during nighttime hours. The teen preference for sleeping from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. is not an effective way to gain rest, so insist on regular nighttime hours.  I know I irritate them but I make sure to wake up my teens at a decent hour in the summer so they won’t be up all night the following night.

10. Avoid weighing in on the scale too frequently, as this adds an evaluative component and emphasizes losing weight, rather than being healthy.

11. Finally, expect some initial resistance. However, within a week of implementing consistent activity, good nutrition and behavior changes (limited screens, mindfulness, sleep), you and your children will experience noticeable benefits.

As role models, parents have the greatest influence over children’s healthy habits. If engaging your children directly appears too overwhelming given all your other daily stresses, then start with a healthy lifestyle program for just you. Over time, your healthy lifestyle will have a significant impact on your children and they will want to join you.

Get your kids moving and Live Well!

Source:

Fit Kids for Life: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Children, written by Brandon McIntosh with Chrisoula Kiriazis M.D. (paperback, available through Amazon.com).


Be Water-Wise..

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Water is the only drink for a wise man.
~ Henry David Thoreau

 I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.
~ W. C. Fields

           Have you seen pictures of W.C. Fields?  Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking with meals. If you are like me and like your diet soda and coffee, you need even more water to flush out your system.  During the dog days of summer, it is more important than ever to get 64 ounces of water in daily.  If you are very active, especially out in the heat, I suggest closer to 90 ounces of water of some sort on a daily basis.

Water helps your body:

  • Keep your temperature normal
  • Lubricate and cushion joints
  • Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • Eliminate waste

Your body needs more water when you are:

  • In hot climates
  • More physically active (no danger for you Greg)
  • Running a fever
  • Suffering from “viral” symptoms
  • Taking medication such as allergy meds that “dry” you out. I have learned this from personal experience.

If you think you are not getting enough water, these tips may help:

  • Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands. If you have a desk-job, buy a 32 to 64 ounce water bottle, fill it in the mornings, set it on your desk, and make sure you get your 64 ounces per day.   If you are hurting for exercise, stick with a 16 ounce bottle so you have to make more trips to the water cooler/faucet.
  • Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Key point here: Don’t drink your calories!
  • Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.

Here are a few creative ways to increase your water intake:

  1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.
  1. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don’t just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.
  1. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home. If you ever travel to Europe, you have to ask for still water or you are automatically served sparkling water.
  1. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that’s so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.
  1. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you’re interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.
  1. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption. This doesn’t sound that great in July but do what you must to keep your water intake up. I had a coach in college tell me that hot water was much better for me than cold water anyway.  It was better for him because he didn’t have to put ice in the water jug..(See Wayne Norfleet)
  1. Add fast flavor. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system. Be cautious with these as we still don’t know all the lasting impacts of sugar-free additives. If you use one, be sure it is Stevia-based.

Don’t Stay Thirsty, my friends.

Source: Jen Laskey, Everyday Health


Watch Your Heart

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We all know that fitness is good for your heart, but there are exceptions.
But would you know the signs it’s time to stop exercising immediately and head straight to the hospital?
Exercise is very good for your heart. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Here’s the catch…-Still, more exercise and more intense exercise isn’t always better, particularly for people with certain underlying heart conditions. “There is a little bit of this cardiac arrest paradox, where we’re telling people, ‘Exercise is beneficial when you do it on a regular basis, but at times, can be a trigger for something worse,’” says Dr. Jonathan Drezner, a family medicine physician at the University of Washington, who specializes in sports medicine. Here are seven of those times:
1. You haven’t consulted your doctor. -If you’re at risk for heart disease – meaning you have hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes; you smoke or have a family history of heart disease, heart attack or sudden death from a heart problem; or all of the above – it’s important you talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise plan, Drezner says. Young athletes should be screened for heart conditions, too.
2. You go from zero to 100. -Ironically, out-of-shape people who can benefit most from exercise are also at higher risk for sudden heart problems while working out. That’s why it’s important to “pace yourself, don’t do too much too soon and make sure you give your body time to rest between workouts,” says Dr. Martha Gulati, editor-in-chief of CardioSmart, the American College of Cardiology’s patient education initiative.
3. You experience chest pain.-“Chest pain is never normal or expected,” says Gulati, also division chief of cardiology at University of Arizona College of Medicine, who says that, in rare cases, exercise can cause a heart attack. If you feel chest pain or pressure – especially alongside nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath or extreme sweatiness – stop working out immediately and call 911, Gulati advises.
4. You’re suddenly short on breath. -If your breath doesn’t quicken when you exercise, you’re probably not working hard enough. But there’s a difference between shortness of breath due to exercise and shortness of breath due to a potential heart attack, heart failure,exercise-induced asthma or another condition. “If there is an activity or level that you could do with ease and suddenly you get winded … stop exercising and see your doctor,” Gulati says.
5. You feel dizzy. -Most likely, you’ve pushed yourself too hard or didn’t eat or drink enough before your workout. But if stopping for water or a snack doesn’t help – or if the lightheadedness is accompanied by profuse sweating, confusion or even fainting – you might need emergency attention, Johnson says. “These symptoms could be a sign of dehydration, diabetes, a blood pressure problem or possibly a nervous system problem,” she says. Dizziness could also signal a heart valve problem, Gulati says.
6. Your legs cramp.-Cramps seem innocent enough, but they’re not to be ignored – “especially in the legs,” Johnson says. Leg cramps during exercise could signal blockage of your leg’s main artery, and warrant at least a talk with your doctor, she says. Now, this doesn’t mean an occasional calf cramp from playing sports or the occasional love-handle cramp that Greg experiences.
7. Your heartbeat is wacky. -Conditions that feel like fluttering or thumping in the chest and require medical attention, Johnson says. While I’m a huge fan of exercise that causes muscle confusion, heart confusion is not what you are looking for in a workout.
I am all for encouraging physical activity and it is, in fact, directly linked with living a longer life. However, if you experience any of the symptoms be sure to check with your doctor! Don’t give up on your workouts though if you actually break a sweat or start breathing hard. That part is to be expected…
Keep tabs on your heart and Live Well!

Source (US News & World Report)


Stressed Out

Stressed Out

“Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.”-TWENTY ØNE PILØTS

Unless you live under a rock (no offense Greg Moses), chances are it wouldn’t be difficult for you to find someone – including yourself – saying they’re stressed about something. Stress can be a good thing when it leads us to conquering our fears and getting the job done; when you’re in a constant state of anxiety and tension, then this could/would negatively affect not only your emotional state, but your physical and mental states, as well.
So how should we handle stress?
First, we need to figure out what is leading to the stress. The following from WebMD are signs that you may be already under heavy stress.
1.You’re Always Sick
If it seems like you have been constantly sick for over a month now – cough, sore throat, and fever – stop blaming your sickness to your sneezing coworker or the unpredictable weather. It might be you have been working really hard lately and are under extreme pressure.
Whenever the body is under extreme pressure, the body secretes a stress hormone called cortisol. Although this can help the body in the short-term, if you’re always stressed, these hormones won’t be able to do anything at all. Cortisol, as well as the other hormones of the immune system can help the body combat stress, but when these hormones become withdrawn, then the body becomes more susceptible to illness.
The side effects don’t stop here. Stress can also slow down the healing process, which leads to the activation of other viruses. I’m a big believer that if you have any prolonged illness, you better get to the doctor and have it checked out.
2.Suffering from Constant Headache That Won’t Go Away
Does it feel like your head is throbbing or you’re feeling pressure anywhere on your temple area? There’s a good chance it’s because of tension or stress.
Most of the time, a lot of us point to particular troubles in life as the cause of stress. However, more often than not, this should be blamed on the lifestyle instead. Keep in mind, whenever you’re experiencing a migraine, or “the worst headache of your life,” then this could probably a sign of a dangerous health problem and a doctor’s visit becomes necessary.
See my comment above about seeing a doctor with lingering illnesses or pain.
Several years ago, I had a headache and sinus pressure for a few weeks that I tried to treat with ibuprofen and sinus meds. Randomly, I had a blood pressure check here at the YMCA during a health fair and found that my blood pressure was about 200 over 120. I am a very active guy, but my family genetics (hereditary blood pressure issues) didn’t really kick in until that moment. See you doctor with lingering issues!
3.Upset Stomach
Stomach problems are one of the most common symptoms that a lot of people suffer from.
So, what’s the connection of stress to one’s stomach? Well, the gut is very sensitive to emotions and stress. This is the main reason why whenever we’re nervous or excited about something, we get the feeling of having “butterflies in our stomach.” On the other hand, when you’re disappointed or upset, it will seem like your stomach has “churned up.”
Whenever we’re stressed, some of the hormones and chemicals released by the body go into the digestive tract. Instead of helping in the digestion process, these chemicals interfere. Thus, it results in a chemical imbalance, leading to a number of gastrointestinal conditions, such as:
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS happens when the hardness of muscle contractions uncontrollably oscillates – the process by which the food is pushed through the digestive tract in order to be digested. These oscillations could lead to either diarrhea or constipation.
* Nervous Stomach: It’s a term often used to describe stomach related problems, especially when diagnostic tests fail to determine the real cause of it.
* Peptic Ulcers: These are described as open sores in the lining of the stomach – the first part of the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed into the body. The most notable symptom of peptic ulcer includes a gnawing feeling in the stomach area that lasts between half an hour to thirty minutes.
4. It’s Hard to Concentrate
Do you feel overwhelmed that you can’t even concentrate on what’s in front of you? Or does remembering simple things like your co-worker’s name becomes difficult? If the answer is yes, then this could be a sign that you’re really stressed.
According to research, long-term exposure to excessive amounts of cortisol could have a negative effect on the brain, because it eventually shrinks the hippocampus – the brain’s memory center. Likewise, constant stress can also trigger the growth of proteins that might lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
5.Dry Mouth
This is one of the symptoms a lot of stress individuals will recognize. The mouth feels very dry whenever you’re in constant stress. This is the main reason why a lot of public speakers have a glass of water ready on their side. I find myself drinking more and more coffee and water when stressed.
6.Difficulty in Sleeping Well
If you have been finding yourself wakening up and worrying over a lot of things – this could be a sign of anxiety and depression. After a long, tiring day, sleep should come easy and getting into bed would be the time to fully relax and shut your brain off. However, whenever you’re in constant stress this would seem like a very impossible task for you. If you have been experiencing this lately, then you better talk to your doctor and discuss whether chronic stress is the cause of this depression.
In future posts we will talk about some stress relief activities.

Until then, find your happy place, relax, and live well!


12 Tips to Beat the Christmas Bulge

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 tips for beating the Christmas bulge so I won’t look like a partridge in a pear tree. (Actually, it was my good friend, Amy Sullins, who suggested I do a take-off of the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas.”)

As we approach the holiday season, let’s take a few moments to identify some options from WebMD and EatingWell.com to make the Christmas season less damaging to our waistlines. (Yes, I know it’s old but I’ve got “Bing Crosby Christmas” pulled up on my Pandora Internet radio station, so why not?)

Eat Breakfast Every Day. Research shows dieters are more successful at losing weight – and keeping it off – when they eat breakfast. If you don’t already eat breakfast, start. I personally feel you are better off to eat a sausage biscuit than eating absolutely nothing in the morning. While that is not the best alternative to eat every day, at least it puts “fuel in the engine” and gets your motor running in the morning.
Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. When you wear snug-fitting attire, chances are you’ll be too busy holding in your stomach to overeat. While you stand around looking posh in your holiday finery, hold a drink in your dominant hand so it won’t be so easy to grab food, recommends obesity expert Cathy Nonas, MS, RD. Or you could be the rude guy or gal at the party with a cell phone out texting and Tweeting.
No skipping meals. Always eat normally on the day of a party. “People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there,” says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of “Diet Simple.” “Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint.” Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack or salad shortly before the event. Unfortunately, many of us do this by going to three Christmas parties in one day. That’s not the idea here, obviously.
Be a food snob. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Melinda Johnson, MS, RD. Scan the buffet for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes that are available all year long. And don’t think it’s your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and, slowly and mindfully, savor every mouthful. Unfortunately, we all feel pressure to try everything on the buffet line. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to try the old “hide the leftover food under the napkin trick.” (Hint: Stand up and leave the table and then cover the food with the napkin as you take your plate to the garbage. Greg Moses does this with vegetables all the time.)
Chew gum. When you don’t want to eat, pop a piece of sugarless gum into your mouth. This works well when you’re cooking or when you’re trying not to dive into the buffet. I try to keep some Orbit White or Trident White on hand at all times. It not only helps with the cravings, but it also keeps my teeth looking great.
Downsize Your Dish. Studies show that we eat less when we use smaller dinnerware. The theory is that our eyes get tricked into thinking we are eating more because our plate is full, making the food portions look bigger. The result: We are satisfied with less food. Try eating your meals on salad plates instead of larger dinner plates. (Greg Moses recently downsized his plates from hubcaps to regular dinner plates and is doing very well.)
Trade Up Your Fork. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows using a bigger fork and subsequently taking bigger bites can actually lead to eating less (apparently seeing yourself making a larger dent in the food on your plate can cue you to stop eating sooner). You’ll increase the benefit by holding the fork with your non-dominant hand to slow you down.
Drink Lots of Water. You’ve probably heard it before, but this is one diet-friendly adage that’s tried and true, so start hydrating. Drinking two cups of water before eating a meal can help you lose weight. The water helps you feel full sooner, so you eat less and, in turn, weigh less.
Display Produce Proudly. You know the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” right? Not what you want when it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables. Produce delivers lots of nutrients but not a lot of calories. Plus, it’s packed with fiber, which helps fill you up.
Snack on Yogurt. Yogurt was recently identified as a top weight-loss-promoting food by Harvard University. It’s high in protein, which, gram for gram, helps fill you up more than carbs. Stick to plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt for a healthy snack without extra sugar or saturated fat. Another diet bonus? The probiotics in yogurt may also help you burn fat as well as aid in digestion.
Enjoy a Small Treat. Don’t banish all your favorite foods. Doing so may lead to failure. A drastically limited diet is not sustainable, and feeling deprived may eventually cause you to overeat. Savoring a small treat daily really won’t sabotage your weight-loss efforts, according to research.
Sit with people you really enjoy. I find if I sit with friends and family I enjoy talking to, I tend to spend more time talking and less time chowing down. By the time you finish chatting, your food will have settled and, hopefully, you won’t go back for seconds or thirds. (Alternative: Sit next to Greg Moses as he tends to provide two helpful weight-loss benefits: He’ll pick food off your plate and turn your stomach when you see all the stuffing and gravy in his beard.
Merry Christmas and Live Well!


Add Healthy Living To Your Thanksgiving Menu!

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“You can tell you ate too much Thanksgiving when you have to let your bathrobe out.”

– Jay Leno

It’s that time of year when we give thanks and reflect on all our blessings. I am personally thankful for my God, my family, my friends, my home, my job, and my constant opportunities to poke fun at Greg Moses.

Over the years, my family has developed a great Thanksgiving tradition of running a 5K at Keeneland, a horse-racing track in Lexington, Ky. It is held at 8 a.m., in late November, in Central Kentucky. Typically, that is the coldest day of the year and snow is on the ground, but it is a great time. We always bundle up and leave my mother at home prepping for Thanksgiving dinner and the kids watching the Thanksgiving day parade.

The best part of the morning? We all go eat a big breakfast right after the 5K. While it might sound a little gluttonous considering the big day I will have eating, since we started doing this, I’ve experienced an unusual phenomenon: I don’t feel nearly as bad after my Thanksgiving meal when I get up and do something productive earlier in the day, even if I follow that productivity with a Shoney’s breakfast bar.

I am a firm believer that Thanksgiving is an occasion to spend time with family, relax, and eat whatever you want, even if it is the annual deep-fried Thanksgiving Twinkie that Greg enjoys. However, we must be willing to work some of that out of our system on Black Friday.

I suggest the following steps to detoxify your system:

1. Get up, get movin’. Only the proud and the few will be up at 3 a.m. to do their annual Black Friday shopping. For those of you who will, walk and shop fast. For the rest of us, we should plan ahead for an intense sweat session. An interval workout alternates between short bursts of high intensity activity and short to medium bursts of low intensity activity. You will not only burn a higher amount of calories, but you will also increase your overall aerobic capability. Personally, I am planning on a racquetball match Friday morning.

2. Get friendly with fiber. Foods rich in dietary fiber naturally help cleanse your digestive tract and promote healthy bowel functions. Eat foods such as whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa), fruits (bananas, apples, raspberries, grapes), and vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes). Here’s a hint: If you follow step number two, then step number one will definitely not be a problem.

3. Stretch. About one-third of you worked half of Thanksgiving Day cooking for loved ones. Some of us sat around all day. For us, Friday is a day to work out the cobwebs. Even if you don’t work out on Friday, take twenty minutes or so to stretch away the pain 12 hours in a recliner can cause.

4. Eat mindfully. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. Fasting or skipping meals can completely backfire and lead to binge eating. Eat five or six healthy, portion-controlled meals to keep your metabolism revved up.

5. Drink lemon water. Lemons are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, making them the perfect culprit to assist in the cleansing of the digestive tract. Drinking warm lemon water has been known to flush the body of toxins, speed hydration, and improve the immune system.

6. Drink Green Tea. Green tea is also known for flushing out the kidneys and the liver – and trust me, after Thanksgiving Day, we all can use a good double-cleansing.

And finally, after you have cleansed your body of all the goodies you eat on Thanksgiving Day, take a moment to soak in a quote about what we really have to be thankful for in our lives:

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual … O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Be thankful and live well!


Got a Texting Problem?

people-texting

I’ve heard all the talk about cell phones being the downfall of today’s youth.  Yes, I have two teenagers who text often.  However, what constitutes a texting problem?  I recall two things from my teen years (that I can share) regarding phones:  1) I’m so glad we didn’t have cell phones back then.  Instant communication is not beneficial to those who haven’t learned the principles of rational behavior over emotional behavior.  Plus, cell phones have cameras!  2) My parents thought that landline phones were the downfall of the youth of the late 1980’s.  I turned out ok, eventually..

Teenagers use text messaging more than any other mode of communication, so it may be hard to tell. But youngsters who check their phones continually, snap if you interrupt them and are so preoccupied with texting that they skip sleep and don’t get their work done may be compulsive texters, a new study says. For girls, compulsive texting is more than just a distraction – it is also associated with lower academic performance.  I have to give my girls credit, they do better than the old man academically but that could just be that I married up.

The study of more than 400 eighth and 11th graders found that many teenage texters had a lot in common with compulsive gamblers, including losing sleep because of texting, problems cutting back on texting and lying to cover up the amount of time they spent texting.

“Compulsivity is more than just the number of texts teens are engaging in,” said Kelly M. Lister-Landman, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at Delaware County Community College in Media, Pa. “What is their relationship with phone use? Do they feel anxious when it’s not around them? When they sit down to eat dinner with their family, do they feel a need to check it? Do they feel compelled to look at it at all times, rather than just answering texts they get?  I have to admit, my family tends to glance at their phones during meals more than I’d like.  However, much of the time it is my daughters looking at their phones together and any time teenage sisters get along (almost) is a good time for all.

Over all, girls text compulsively at a far higher rate than boys do. And unlike girls, boys in the study who were compulsive texters were not at risk of doing poorly in school.

The study, published online Oct. 5 in Psychology of Popular Media Culture, is not the first to find a link between excessive social media use and lower grades. A 2014 study found that the more time black and Hispanic teenagers spent on Facebook, the lower their math scores were. Other studies have found that college students who texted while doing homework had lower grades, and students who texted during class took less detailed notes and had poorer recall. An experiment with college students showed that students who abstained from texting during a lecture retained more information and scored higher on a quiz.

Excessive Internet use has also been linked to sleep problems, because students log on late at night and because it interferes with homework, requiring them to stay up later to finish it. Studies have also linked high numbers of daily texts to sleep problems, possibly because teenagers are awakened by messages.

The new study underscores the correlation between compulsive texting and problems in school but does not explain whether texting is a direct cause of poorer school performance or whether another problem like depression or substance abuse is driving both behaviors.

“I don’t think texting is causing academic problems — I think it’s an attention-span issue,” said Kimberly Young, a psychologist who founded the Center for Internet Addiction and has done research on the subject but was not involved in the new study. “If you’re constantly checking your phone, how are you going to study for school? I have kids who can’t sit through an hourlong lecture without checking their phone.”

Texting has become the dominant mode of communication for teenagers, according to figures published in 2012 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That report noted that three-quarters of teenagers own a mobile phone and 63 percent say they text every day, a greater percentage than those who say they talk on the phone, meet face-to-face or email every day. The median number of texts sent by teens is 60 a day, with older girls having a median of 100 text messages a day and boys a median of 50.

The new study on texting looked at several elements of school performance, not just grades, but school engagement or “bonding,” as well as students’ perceptions of their own academic competence.

The authors administered a questionnaire to 211 eighth-grade students and 192 high school juniors in a semirural town in the Midwest to assess whether they were compulsive texters. The 14-item questionnaire is one Dr. Young had adapted from a pathological gambling scale to identify compulsive Internet use. The authors of the new study further modified it to identify problematic texting.

Questions included: Do you not do your chores to spend more time texting? Do you text longer than you intended? Do you snap, yell or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are texting? Other items inquire whether teenagers are losing sleep because of texting, if they have tried but have been unable to cut down on their texting, and if they lie to cover up the amount of time spent texting.

Of the 403 students who participated in the study, 47 said they did not text every day. These “nontexters” were excluded from the analysis.

Among the remaining 356 students, girls were far more likely to be compulsive texters. About 12 percent of the girls — one in eight — were compulsive texters, while only about 3 percent of the boys had the problem. Most of the compulsive texters sent more than 100 messages a day.

The three biggest issues I have with youth and texting:

  1. They don’t communicate well in face to face conversation
  2. They will say things through texting that they would never say to a person’s face.
  3. Oh and don’t get me started on texting and driving.  I think adults are just as bad as this as youth.  I saw a man texting and driving a …wait for it…motorcycle in front of the YMCA just a couple of weeks ago.  Put that phone down and live well!(Source NYTimes)

To reduce a student’s texting time, concerned parents may want to insist their children turn off their phones or put them away while doing homework, and create screen-free zones in the house, make dinner time phone-free and establish screen-free bedtime routines.  I know of a family that, upon arriving at a restaurant or home kitchen table, piles all the phones in the middle of the table.  Whoever picks up their phone before dinner is over has to pay for dinner.  Wish the Montgomery’s (especially Dad) luck as we try that in the coming weeks..

Put down that phone and live well!


Fighting Fatigue?

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Do you ever struggle with fatigue?  No, I’m not talking to all the college students who stay up until 2 AM and then complain because they are so tired for their 8 AM classes.  We. All. Make.  Choices.  I’m talking about the average “Mack-Minn” Countian who works a 40 plus hour week and struggles to stay awake between about 2 and 4 PM every work day.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have gone so far as to call Americans’ lack of sleep a “public health epidemic.” Chronic fatigue is also related to a variety of medical conditions including autoimmune disease, thyroid disorders, depression, and anemia. Combine any of these possibilities with long hours at work and it’s no surprise you’re reaching for a third cup of coffee or a Diet Coke by 3 o’clock. But there are other natural ways to boost energy that will provide a more sustainable lift and won’t compromise your ability to wind down in the evening so you can finally get the rest you need. Read on for a few research-supported strategies to stay energized all day long.

Balance your carb consumption

That afternoon slump may happen because you’re bored at work, but more than likely it has a lot to do with what you just ate for lunch. Your body and brain need food for fuel, but when a lot of the calories you consume come from carbohydrates—such as the bread used in sandwiches or a hearty bowl of pasta—you may start to feel sleepy about an hour after eating. Carbohydrates are absorbed into your blood stream almost immediately after eating. Right after a carb-heavy meal your blood sugar will experience a big surge then, when all the carbs are used up, your blood sugar will plummet, bringing on that feeling of fatigue. This explains why after Sunday afternoon lunch I desperately need a nap.  Calories that come from fiber, fat, and protein take longer to release. For even all-day energy, eat a mix of nutrients at each meal and snack, including plenty of fiber-rich veggies and fruits, lean proteins such as chicken or beans, and some healthy fat, such as that found in avocados and olive oil.

Take in more B12

Even if you eat a balanced diet, you may be deficient in important nutrients. If you’re feeling sluggish, try increasing your intake of vitamin B12. This vitamin is naturally found in animal-derived foods like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy, which explains why many vegetarians and vegans may not get enough through diet alone. (Vitamin B12 is also important for anemia prevention.) Vitamin B12 supplements can be found in the vitamin aisle of most grocery stores; you can take this vitamin on its own or in a blend of other B vitamins.

Take a walk

It may seem like being active will only make you feel more tired and it can be true—going to an intense cardio class may make you want to take a nap. But engaging in low or moderate activity—such as a short walk or a pilates session—can boost energy levels, according to an article from the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. This sort of exercise is enough to increase your circulation—and with it the blood and oxygen flow to your body and brain—without actually tiring you out. The next time you feel fatigued but you really need to be awake, try it out: Go on a brisk 10- or 20-minute walk and see how you feel after. Chances are you’ll be much more awake than when you left.

Relax to rev up

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, all of that mental churning can zap your energy levels—it’s the equivalent to your mind running a marathon. Shift your thoughts to more of a leisurely stroll and you’ll feel a whole lot less drained. Easier said than done? Try meditation or prayer. Simply focusing on your breath can help you relax and, according to a study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, it can also increase your alertness. To start: Close your eyes and notice your inhales and exhales for a couple of minutes. Let your thoughts drift in and out, trying not to focus on any one.

Breathe some fresh air

This is too easy.  Step 1: Spend less time with Greg Moses.  When the couch is calling, get back to nature. A study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being in the outdoors is a simple way to increase feelings of vitality. In the study, people who spent just 20 minutes outside felt more awake than those who spent the same amount of time inside. Being active, such as walking or gardening, can help increase these feelings. No chance to escape four walls? Simply imagining a natural setting can help, according to the researchers.

Set a routine bedtime

To put the power in your power suit, you must give your body and brain adequate time to rest and recharge at night. If you often hit snooze in the morning or wake up feeling like you haven’t rested enough, move your bedtime forward to ensure you get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. (Have a hard time shutting off your screen time? Set an alarm on your phone to remind you it’s time to unwind.) A recent study in the Journal of Primary Health Care found that going to bed earlier and practicing better sleep hygiene, such as limiting screen time before bed(something I don’t practice), improved sleep for 73 percent of participants.

Keep a water bottle handy

If you’re feeling fatigued, keeping H2O on tap will help refill your energy stores. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired and decrease your ability to concentrate, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Experiencing headaches or feeling lethargic can signal that you need more fluids. This is something I’ve suffered with recently so let’s work on this hydration thing together.  Feeling thirsty can also be a sign that you’re already dehydrated. Aim to drink around eight 8-ounce glasses (nope, this is not a myth!) or four 16-ounce bottles of water each day. If you exercise regularly, you may need to drink more.  I have found that since I’ve started cycling that I need close to 100 ounces of water per day.  (Source Health.com)

Rest Easy and Live Well