Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to reward yourself

         I was talking with some young parents recently and mentioned that I think that even if you banned junk food from your house completely (which I was not advocating) I think children would still be eating way, way too much garbage just from what they get while away from home.
         It seems that the cop out easy way to celebrate anything special is to feature unhealthy treats. Whether it is an end of year school party, a soccer game, a church event or a good report card we usually reward it with fat and sugar laden prepared foods.
         I picked up my grand-daughter from her nursery school class yesterday and they were having pizza, brownies, cupcakes and ice-cream to celebrate the end of the year. We had been asked NOT to send lunches yesterday or today because they had lunch planned. (And today’s lunch was the leftover brownies, cupcakes and ice-cream. No more pizza)
         In talking this situation over with my daughter (the dietician) she said she hopes to reward her future children in ways other than food. You got an A on your math test- let’s go for a family walk. You had your end of the year chorus performance- let’s go bowling to celebrate. When you think about it time together and a fun activity really are more rewarding than junk food.
         And so your challenge this week is to find one thing to celebrate each day (either something personal or an accomplishment of a loved one) and find a way to celebrate without unhealthy food. Here’s a few ideas. Please post any ideas of your own!
1. Music! How about an instant dance party with your favorite music? I recently read that one family’s favorite memories involved impromptu dance celebrations in the kitchen. “Suzy got an A on her project so let’s all dance!”
2. Hugs - lots of them . I have given the challenge before to hug others until THEY let go and it is a good one.
3. Shopping. No you don’t have to buy expensive beyond budget items. Little children love having a dollar to spend at the dollar store or the Target dollar area. And even adults enjoy small luxuries like a new nail polish or kitchen gadget.
4. Purchase a new magazine that looks interesting or go to the library (or bookstore) or browse red box and rent a movie.
5. To get yourself laughing until you cry watch videos of your favorite comedians on YouTube. My current favorites are Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan. What a reward and treat laughing is.
6. Drop by your favorite thrift store and see if you can find a bargain on something that you need.
7. Take a bubble bath or a long shower. Luxuriate a bit!
8. One of my favorite indulgences is Sonic ice. They sell it by the bag and I just love filling my glass nearly full of ice, Mio and water. Ahhhhh!
9. Watch a healthy eating documentary on Netflix. I find them so inspiring and have recently enjoyed several
10. Listen to a Ted talk or Podcast on a topic that interests you. Yes new ideas can be a treat to the brain!
Yes it is wonderful to mark special events, note even our tiniest accomplishments and appreciate when it’s time to take a bow. But we really don’t need to always show our joy through cake and ice cream. We can find better ways to pat ourselves and others on the back!
And how did we ever choose a carrot at the end of a stick as something to lure us to do something? I am traveling and at the mercy of a family member’s refrigerate. With no car yesterday the ONLY vegetable I could find in the house was carrots so I had to eat 1 ½ cups to get in my daily veggies. Yuck. Now a Klondike bar on the end of a stick might lead me to do anything.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Clear, pure, wonderful water!!

You are probably wondering why I would propose a water drinking challenge when you are already required to drink 48 ounces (6 cups) of water per day for the challenge. Well the answer is because many sources propose that you need even more than that.
Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 50-65 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.
I don’t know about you but I’ve found that if I have a headache it is almost always because I have fallen short in my water drinking. Some say that if you take a pill for a headache it may be the water that brings relief rather than the medication.
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. 9 cups of water is 72 ounces. Wowsers!
So you guessed it. We are going to have a whacky water drinking challenge. And no you may not count coffee or soda toward those totals. I will be kind and let you use water flavoring drops if you must. Every day that you drink 72 ounces (9 cups of water) you can claim your daily challenge points. Drink up ladies.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eating Mindfully

When I write our weekly challenges I try to find a balance between challenges involving exercise, eating and mind set. This week’s challenge involves the third as we work on habits of mindful eating.

Please start by watching this video:

There is quite a bit of research and some really great books on this practice of eating mindfully. I believe that one of the reasons we tend to overeat is that we are not making the effort to receive the pleasure and fulfillment that we should receive when we do eat. As you saw in the video Lilian Cheung shares these habits of mindful eating.

1. Honor the food- We take food for granted in a land of abundance. We usually don’t think about where the food is coming from. I was talking with some young single adults recently about keeping our prayers before meals from becoming “vain repetition”. One young man shared that one way he does this is by taking the time to really think about and appreciate all that has taken place in order to provide him with the abundance and variety of the food set before him.  He remembers the farmer, the harvester, the transporter, the grocer, the cook and even the good company that surrounds him. I do think being more mindful through grace can help us be more mindful in eating.
2. Engage all your senses- Take the time to savor your food more fully. Look at the beauty of the food, inhale the aroma, notice the texture and even listen for the sound of your food. Oft times our eating on the run can keep us from being fully engaged as we eat our food.  Take the time to fully use your senses!
3. Be mindful of portion sizes. Do not take too much. Start with a modest amount. The video suggests using a smaller plate or bowl. Another strategy is to target a small area of your plate for calorie dense foods (meat, starches) and the larger area of your plate to nutrient dense foods (vegetables, fruit).
4. Chew. Chewing actually helps us to digest. The enzymes in our saliva help us do that. Also the taste comes from having the food in our mouth cavity surrounding the tongue. Once we swallow we no longer taste. Chew more. Enjoy the taste and flavor of your food more and you will have less of a desire to overeat.
5. Do not to skip meals. Sometimes life gets hectic and it seems to make sense to just skip a meal and skip the calories. But this can backfire when hunger and fatigue lead to eating high-calorie low-nutrient foods with abandon.
6. Eat plants based diet. The video mentions that research has shown that eating meat increases risk of colon cancer. There are many other reasons to cut down on your meat intake. Consider going meat free one day a week or one meal each day.

Our challenge for this week is to use at least one mindful eating habit each day. And I challenge you to challenge yourself! Don’t pick the easiest habit or one that you are already doing. Pick one that will invite you to step it up in mindful eating. You can work on the same habit all week or choose a different one for each day. But work on at least one mindful eating habit that you honestly feel will benefit you through the effort.

Monday, May 12, 2014

10,000 steps a day

It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that sitting is even worse for our health (and fitness) than we thought. Hopefully you are forging a habit of a daily hour devoted to exercise but even when we’ve checked off our hour we still face health risks if we are sedentary for the rest of the day (you know, the other 23 hours we’re not working out in the gym). Some recent research shows that when it comes to weight loss or weight management, it's not even necessarily the people who "exercise" the most who come out on top: it's the people who are simply more "active" that tend to be the leanest.

My oldest son who is active by nature shared something with me. He makes it a point to stand whenever possible. (So I was not surprised when he purchased a standing desk for himself. That’s right he does not sit down at work). Additionally he thinks it’s puzzling that while waiting to board a flight the entire waiting area is full of people sitting. They are about to get on a several hour flight where they will be strapped in and forced to sit and they are resting up for that? He prefers to walk around the waiting area.

No matter what your fitness level, setting a goal to move more can be a motivating way to improve your health. You may have heard recently that many people are setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps every day. Medical authorities around the world have agreed that 10,000 is a healthy number to aim for. The American Heart Association uses the 10,000 steps metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in America. The benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day are many:  lower BMI, reduced waist size, increased energy, and less risk for Type II diabetes and heart disease. 
10,000 steps daily is approximately 5 miles.  Unless you have a very active lifestyle or profession, you probably don’t reach 10,000 steps on a given day without putting some dedicated effort into your activity. I have found I need to walk my dog about an hour (around 3 miles) in addition to my regular daily activities to hit the 10,000 mark. And on days that I am more sedentary I may have to walk further. 
While I highly recommend the Nike fitbit and flex band for tracking your steps you can use any pedometer. So please buy or borrow one because our challenge this week is to walk 10,000 steps for at least 6 days this coming week. If you do this you will earn the 30 bonus points. You can do this along with your regular exercise routine or instead of it. But to earn the points it must be the full 10,000 steps. (Note if you have a special health limitation that does not allow you to walk please let me know and we will work out an alternative challenge)

Here are some ideas that might help. And yes if your pedometer will track bicycling (in or outside) or tread milling you can count it. (Ideas adapted from Spark People)

1.            Consider breaking your step goal into three smaller goals throughout the day: a morning walk, a midday walk, and an evening walk.
2.            Every Hour on the Hour. If you were to split up these steps during a normal workday (8-9 hours), that works out to just over 1,000 steps per hour. That means several half mile walks (less than 10 minutes of time), spread out across the day. It won't be realistic for everyone to do this at work, but it may be realistic for some people to take a few 10-minute breaks during the workday—then squeeze the remaining 10-minute walks in before or after work.  Set a timer on your phone or computer and walk just 5 minutes every hour of the day until bedtime. DONE!
3.            6 Legs in One. The easiest way for me to accumulate steps in a given day is to walk my dog. He's the best fitness partner around! We have a daily routine of walking either in the morning or evening (it’s already too hot in Central Florida to walk when the sun is shining) 

4.            Buddy Up. I don’t know about you but walking alone for long distances becomes really boring for me but I love walking with friends. If no one is available I often talk with a friend on the phone or listen to audible books while getting in my daily steps.
5.            Step It Up Inside. Indoor walking workout DVDs are extremely popular and allow you to get moving no matter what the weather. Some titles are specific walking distances like 3 to 5 miles. Recommended are Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds series as well as Jessica Smith's Motivating walking DVDs.
6.            Walk with a purpose. One reason I love my Nike flex bracelet is I get to compete with other friends that wear them to see who can walk the most steps in a week. One side benefit of this has been we are looking for opportunities to walk. One friend’s husband walked home from the car repair place last week. Another girlfriend walked to the bank, then walked to make a house payment then walked to the dry cleaners. Another friend walked the halls at church between meetings yesterday. And when I was shopping with a girlfriend today and I was done trying on clothes before she was rather than sink into the easy chair near the front of the store I walked in circles. Once you settle into the challenge of walking 10,000 steps in a day you will be surprised how creative you get (Yes that was me the other day walking in place while I blow dried my hair)
So get moving ladies. This week your challenge is to walk 10,000 steps for 6 days out of 7. (Hoorah you get a day of rest)