Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Sorry I was pokey in getting out our next challenge but here it is:
If you meditate for at least 10 minutes a day you will earn the daily challenge points.

Many of us are stress eaters and one way to overcome our life time habits of over eating is to find alternatives to turn to during times of stress. Exercise is a great one and so is meditation.

So how do you meditate?

Simple Meditation in 5 Steps

When times are stressful everyone could stand to take a minute to stop and breathe. During meditation, you harness, calm, and essentially turn off the “thinking” portion of your mind so that you open yourself to a deeper state of relaxation and awareness. With regular practice, you become able to do this anywhere, anytime you feel the need to stop and breathe.

Simple meditation in 5 steps described in this post can help alleviate stress and countless ailments, including lowering high blood pressure, decreasing muscle tension and headaches, enhance the body’s immune system, easing symptoms of arthritis and allergies, and more. For those of us seeking calm from the storm of daily stress, meditation allows you to have greater control over not only your emotions but your reactions to occurrences (if you are quick to anger over small things, for example). With practice, you become more aware of your surroundings and what goes on in your mind, thereby preparing yourself and your body for a calmer, less reactive response.
Anyone can stand to gain from meditation, and better still, anyone can do it.

1. Make time to meditate daily.

As with most things, meditation mastery doesn’t happen overnight. Meditation is a lifelong endeavor and treatment, and its benefits are most noticeable with regular practice. You can meditate at any time of the day. Begin by setting aside 10 minutes for focused meditation.

2. Sit comfortably in a quiet, relaxing environment.

Avoid things that will distract you, like the TV, your cell phone, noisy appliances (like the refrigerator), kids, and the like. I love meditating while wearing my noise canceling headphones. I usually listen to meditations that I find at There are several free ones on this site. Go and download one for your own use. They are wonderful! Stin (who provides the meditations) is a member of the church and I just love her voice. I actually have a membership to the site but it offers several free meditations too. If you don't listen to one of these prepared meditations you might want to play soft, repetitive music that won’t disrupt your concentration. Some people enjoy sitting in a grassy field or forest or even near a stream and letting the sounds of nature help to soothe them.

Make sure the place you are sitting or lying is comfortable. A cushion or yoga mat can help. If sitting you don’t need to cross your legs into the lotus position if this is painful; you only need to sit comfortably with your back straight so as to make it conducive to healthy breathing. You may at first need to concentrate on proper posture; try sitting on a the forward edge of a thick cushion or rolled up towel to tilt your pelvis naturally forward and imagine a thread pulling the top of your head up so your spine is straight. If lying position yourself so that your head is supported and your muscles are all in a position to relax.

Keep your hands and feet relaxed; don’t worry about position. Consider starting out with letting your hands lie on your thighs or hanging at your sides.

3. Relax.

Close your eyes and look for parts of your body that aren’t relaxed, like your neck, the muscles near your forehead or eyes, your knees, hands, spine, etc. Adjust your posture accordingly. Focus on them and imagine your blood running through that part of your body so it warms and relaxes.

4. Focus on your breathing.

With eyes still closed, focusing on your nostrils as you breathe. This sounds silly, but focusing on this single part of your body allows you to focus on how breathing feels and quiet the chattering of your mind. Imagine that with every exhalation, you’re breathing out negative emotions that are causing you pain, stress, and tension. Imagine you’re breathing in relaxing, positive air when inhaling. Preparing for meditation like this is part of the process and you’ll adjust more quickly with practice.

5. Focus on nothing.

Once you’re able to focus on your breathing alone, focus on nothing. Clear the mind by focusing on your breathing and then casting the thought of it from your mind. Enjoy the peace

Monday, February 14, 2011

What? A total of 9 servings of fruits and veggies every day?

Well ladies I'm afraid it's time to step up our efforts. To earn your 5 challenge points each day for the next week you need to eat additional servings of vegetables to bring you up to 7 servings of vegetables per day along with at least 2 servings of fruit.

The US Government recommends a total of 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies so we have been doing the bare minimum. Lately I heard that a new study had been done at Harvard that said the optimal is 9-13 servings of fruits and veggies per day.

Can you imagine how healthy we would be if we ate 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every every day? And goodness we would never eat any pie, ice-cream, candy or other goodies because we would be so stuffed with veggies!

And don't forget although it's not the optimum choice, the US Gov says that you can count juice as one of your servings. It is clear, however, that fruit juice from concentrate is the least nutritious choice so if you opt for juice fresh is better.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Perfect Posture

Posture ranks right up at the top of the list when you are talking about good health. Our challenge for this week is to practice perfect posture for at least 10 minutes a day. You can practice perfect sitting posture for half the time and perfect standing for half the time! And for every day you remember to practice for 10 minutes you earn the 5 Weekly Challenge points. You will think this is an easy challenge- heck you can do it while grocery shopping. But I have tried to keep perfect posture for an entire grocery shopping trip and it is HARD!


Posture is as important as eating right, exercising, getting a good night's sleep and avoiding potentially harmful substances like alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Good posture means your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work as nature intended. Not only that you can look pounds thinner just by improving your posture! (practice in front of the mirror and you will see that this is true!)

Good posture means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency. Posture also helps contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system. Without good posture, you can't really be physically fit.

Surprised? Well, you're not alone. The importance of good posture in an overall fitness program is often overlooked by fitness advisers and fitness seekers alike. In fact, the benefits of good posture may be among the best kept secrets of the current fitness movement. The good news is that most everyone can avoid the problems caused by bad posture...and you can make improvements at any age.

Better Posture Made Simple

Follow these simple steps to quickly improve your posture.

1) Bring your feet parallel, not turned out, and about hip width apart. Bringing your feet parallel engages the muscles in the front of your thighs and keeps your hips, knees and ankles in proper alignment.

2) Reach up through the top of your head, feeling your spine lengthen, getting tall.

3) Bring your pelvis to a neutral position. To find this neutral position, place your hands around your hips, then tuck your tailbone slightly until your pelvis is directly over your thighs, so there is no bend in your hip joints, and there's less sway in your low back. As you tuck your tailbone, you should feel your abdominal muscles engage a bit.

4) Draw your shoulders back and relax them down, bringing your hands in line with the seams of your pants.

5) Level your chin, keeping your head directly over the spot between your shoulders, not forward or back.

Here are some easy ways to check your posture at home:

Stand facing a full length mirror and check the following:

1) Your shoulders are level

2) Your head is straight, not tilted to the side

3) The spaces between your arms and your sides seem equal on both sides

4) Your hips are level, not sloped to one side

5) Your ankles are straight and not turned in or out.

You can also have someone look at you from the side and check the following:

1) Your head is stacked over your body, not jutting forward or pulled back

2) Your chin is parallel to the floor, not tilting up or down

3) Shoulders are in line with ears, not drooping forward or pulled back too far

4) Your hands are in line with hips, not forward or back

5) Your knees are straight, not bent or hyper-extended

6) Your lower back is slightly curved forward, not too flat or curved too much, (creating a swayback)

To earn 5 Challenge points a day practice these points of posture for at least 10 minutes everyday. (Note: Yoga, Pilates and other core strengthening exercises can help you to improve your posture)