Sunday, April 29, 2012

Here comes the Sun!

Not sure about where you live, but here in Central Florida the weather has been gorgeous! It’s a great reminder of the importance of getting adequate amounts of sunlight for its vitamin D-boosting benefits. Recent research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that those with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes over an eight-year period compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels. The researchers cite "decreased outdoor activity" as one reason that people may become deficient in vitamin D. Another recent study found an increased risk of heart attacks in those with low vitamin D levels.
Why is Vitamin D important?
Vitamin D is involved in a number of processes that are essential for good health, including the following:
   It helps improve muscle strength and immune function.
   It helps reduce inflammation.
   It promotes the absorption of calcium from the small intestine.
   It helps maintain adequate blood levels of the calcium and phosphate needed for bone formation, mineralization (incorporating minerals to increase strength and density), growth, and repair (1–3).

What is vitamin D and where can I get some?
Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin. It is the name given to a group of fat-soluble prohormones . Most people get much of the vitamin D they need through sunlight exposure. It can also be obtained through the diet, but very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. These foods include fatty fish, fish liver oil, and eggs. Smaller amounts are found in meat and cheese. Most dietary vitamin D comes from fortified foods, such as milk, juices, yogurt, bread, and breakfast cereals. Vitamin D can also be obtained through dietary supplements. Fortified foods and dietary supplements usually contain either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. A person’s vitamin D status is usually checked by measuring the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood serum.

 Am I getting enough Vitamin D from the sun?
In the winter, it's impossible to produce vitamin D from the sun if you live north of Atlanta because the sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere. But spring and summer present a great opportunity to stock up on the nutrient. When the sun's UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place that enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. If you're fair skinned, experts say going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun—in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen—will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of the vitamin. Dark-skinned individuals and the elderly also produce less vitamin D, and many folks don't get enough of the nutrient from dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified milk.
What else is good about getting daily sun?
The sunshine vitamin may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. What's more, sunlight has other hidden benefits—like protecting against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system.
Given all the upsides of basking at least briefly in the summer sun, many experts now worry that public-health messages warning about skin cancer have gone overboard in getting people to cover up and seek the shade. U.S.News got in touch with Robyn Lucas, an epidemiologist at Australian National University who led a study published in the February issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology. Her finding: Far more lives are lost to diseases caused by a lack of sunlight than to those caused by too much.
How much sun is it safe to get without sunscreen?
 It depends on how much skin is exposed and the time of day. If you're fair skinned and sunning yourself outside in a bathing suit at noon, you only need a few minutes without sunscreen. If you're already tan or of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Black skin may require six times the sun exposure to make the same vitamin D levels as a very fair-skinned person.
And so what is the challenge for the week?
YOUR CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK (BEGINNING MAY 2) IS TO GET YOURSELF OUTSIDE FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES A DAY. You have the continueing challenge to exercise 6 days a week but this week you also need to BE OUTSIDE FOR 10 MINUTES A DAY (And yes although you may take the Sabbath as a day free from exercise you can still go outside for 10 minutes on Sunday). You don’t have to do your 60 minutes of exercise outside. Feel free to do your hour of yoga (or whatever) in the gym and then go lay on your front lawn with the dog for 10 minutes. Or if you’d like, you can do part or all of your exercise outside. The important thing is that you get yourself outside in the daylight. Please enjoy, breath deeply, enjoy the trees and bushes and flowers. Notice the squirrels and birds. Rest your soul and soak up some vitamin D.

·       I gave this challenge last year and got a lot of complaints about how cold it still is other places. I really hope if it’s still chilly where you live you can dress as warmly as needed (modestly exposing as much skin as you can stand) and still get yourself 10 minutes of outdoor time a day.
** If you consistently cannot get real sunshine. Think carefully about taking a daily Vitamin D supplement like

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I think I can, I know I can, I am amazing!

First of all I was inspired and encouraged by the creativity you all showed in picking a visual to help you on your path to Healthy Living- Awesome!

So last week we all worked on "Seeing Ourselves" to healthiness, and this week we will work on thinking ourselves to Healthiness. 

About 8 years ago I completed a marathon with my oldest daughter. Our goal was to finish and hurrah we did it! Funny thing is neither of us is really a runner, and we actually both went from not running at all to a marathon in just a few short months. 

And with all those months of training and all those hours and hours of running I actually never learned to love to run nor did I ever feel a runner's high. I just had it on my bucket list and wanted to prove something to myself by doing it

But one funny thing I learned while training was the power of my thoughts. I NEVER once wanted to do a training run. I would often find myself during the day thinking "Oh I'm so tired. I need to run 12 miles today. I don't want to do it. Oh I'm dreading it. Oh I wish I could skip it." And what I finally learned to do next was just silly. I would purposefully say to myself in my mind... "No actually I love to run. I can't wait until I get to run today. It's such a stress reliever. It's going to be awesome. When can I get to it? I just can't wait." And even though I didn't really think ANY of those things sincerely I would actually find my attitude improving by pretending to think them and methodically going through the thoughts in my head.

So what is this week's challenge?  To think some positive thoughts. I'd like you to go to 
and read Hillary Week's material on thinking positive. You may even want to purchase one of her inexpensive clickers to help you count your positive thoughts. I promise you are going to find great power in thinking positively.

And our specific challenge for the week is to Compose 5 positive statements about yourself and your healthy living, and read or recite them to yourself every morning and every night for the week. For every day you accomplish this you earn the 5 bonus points. 

And really ladies. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are a woman that honors your body and enjoys being physical and healthy. You exude energy and wellness and happiness. You are amazing!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let's Get Visual

I realize that since this is a healthy living competition we may all be focused on various personal goals. Perhaps you want to be able to run 30 minutes without stopping. Maybe you want to lose pounds or inches or both. Maybe you want to eliminate sugar from your daily diet (with just occasional treats), perhaps learning to drink more water is your focus.

Our challenge for this week is to do something visual about it. I'd like you to make some kind of visual reminder to help you reach your personal healthier living goal.

A few ideas might be:
1. If you have inches or pounds to lose get 2 jars and some kind of tangible markers to put in it (quarters, buttons, stones, seashells). In the first jar put how many -- inches, pounds or whatever you hope to lose and you will move one marker into the second jar each time you lose one. Sad of course if you have to move any of the markers back!
2. Find a photo to post of your heaviest or most out of shape self and your thinnest or most in shape self. Tack it to your mirror or refrigerator or somewhere else your gaze often falls.
3. If drinking water is your goal get a large cup or bottle that holds ALL the water you want to drink daily so you can more easily see and track your progress.
4. If a certain level of fitness or exercise is your goal make some kind of chart to track your progress. I had one girlfriend that literally ran from North Carolina to Los Angeles. She found out how many miles that was and made herself a little chart where she colored in each of the many miles she ran until she met the total. She was there!
5. Make yourself a puzzle. Google an image of something you have been really wanting (manicure, new pair of shoes, movie tickets to a film you want to see etc.) and cut the puzzle up into a number of pieces. When you reach health living milestones you set for yourself, award yourself a piece until you have completed the puzzle and allow yourself the real reward.
6. There are a couple of really interesting websites. The first one is at

This is an interesting site where various people have downloaded photos of themselves at various heights and weights and sizes. (not all modest- Sorry!) It is a tool to help you discover what size, shape and weight you truly desire to be at.

7. A second tool that is really fun and I'd love it if you'd all take the time to use this one is
This tool allows you to upload a full body photo of yourself and once you have, you can use a sliding tool to see what you will look like plus 20 pounds or minus 5 pounds etc. A great visual tool.

So for this next week to earn your 35 bonus points you must:
1. Make some type of visual to help you with your weight loss goals
2. Post on the blog and tell us what you've made. We'd love to see pictures too, if that's possible!

Good luck and let your vision of your healthier self guide you!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Contact, Remind, Encourage!

Your challenge for week #1 is to make some kind of positive contact with your healthy living challenge partner EVERY DAY and be creative about it. Yes you should contact her and she should also contact you—seeing each other in person or talking on the phone can count for both of you but other than that you should each be making at least one contact per day. I want you to become a strength and support to one another. Some ways you might make contact:

1. Send an upbeat and encouraging text or e-mail

2. Chat on the phone about your commitment to healthier living

3. Arrange to exercise together

4. Put a positive comment on her wall

5. Say something encouraging on her facebook wall

6. Mail her something fun (you can count this the day you put it in the mail)

7. If you live near each other put a sticky note on her door, mailbox or windshield

8. Draw a message in chalk on her front walk

9. Find a healthy recipe and e-mail it to her.

10. E-mail an encouraging photo or cartoon

11. Loan her your favorite work out DVD

12. Meet for a healthy breakfast or lunch

13. Leave an upbeat voicemail on her cell phone

14. Have someone in her family put upbeat stickies from you on the bathroom mirror, the fridge door, the kitchen cupboards etc.

15. Make up a fight song or chant just for your duo

16. Make team t-shirts, soda cups, hats etc.

17. Plan a celebration for when you earn a certain # of points

18. The sky’s the limit- just make some kind of happy, creative, daily contact!!

For every day this week that you make positive comment with your partner you can claim the 5 daily bonus points-- 35 points if you remember all 7 days.

And don't forget to weigh and measure yourself tomorrow! Good luck- e-mail me with any questions!