Monday, June 29, 2015

Sweet Summer Plans

I don't set a challenge this week as it is the end of our short 6 week competition. But I do actually want to suggest something. Why not make a plan? Summer plans can be more fun, more spontaneous, less rigid. But they can easily include a big bottle of ice water, a long walk on the beach, lots of fresh fruits and veggies. 

I don't know about you but for me if I stop recording what I have eaten on myfitnesspal and stop weighing myself I slip into taking terrible care for myself. It's not that I am savoring a special treat or enjoying a nice dinner out. It's that I'm eating garbage, neglecting my exercise and really just forgetting to honor my body.

So make some kind of plan for the rest of the summer. What habits that we do during this competition do you want to try to keep up with? What kind of tender care do you want to take of yourself!

I'll probably start up another challenge sometime in the fall. Until then keep honoring the wonderful body that you have been given and have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Final Challenge- Soak Up Some Nature

These photos are of the Wekiva River where my hubby and I often go paddle boarding. It's shady and green and gorgeous with natural spring water so clear that you can see turtles walking on the river bottom. We see alligators every time we go and on a lucky day have spotted an otter or two. It's so relaxing and beautiful and healing! 

I'm not sure how many of you are gym rats. I love organized classes too (mostly yoga). But sometimes I feel a little sad watching myriads of people mindlessly walking or stair stepping or elliptical trudging and all missing out on the glorious right outside the gym doors. 

Just in the last week during my morning walks (which my good friend and I have to take super early to avoid the intense summer heat) we have seen a giant grasshopper, an armadillo (yuck I HATE anything with a giant rat tail) and a sweet pair of 3 foot tall cranes.

Nature can sooth your soul and give rest to a weary mind. And I want you to get some this week. 

For every day that you spend at least 10 minutes outside you can claim the daily bonus points. So yes- walk in the evening, swim in the sunshine, run in the sprinklers, walk on the beach and I will even count gazing at the stars. 

And I'd like to share some info on the importance of sunshine in your life. If you have been running from home or the office into the gym and back out to your car-- get yourself some outside time. 

Here's a list of the benefits of daily sunshine from US News and World Report

• Better sleep. Natural daylight helps shut off your body's production of melatonin, a hormone produced at night that makes you drowsy. This can help you maintain a normal circadian rhythm, so you're more likely to feel tired at bedtime when it's dark outside. Going outside for 15 minutes at the same time each day, preferably in the morning, gives your body a clear signal that it's no longer night. Also, forgo the sunglasses if possible, since this will enable sunlight to pass unhindered through your eyes to the brain's pineal gland, triggering the gland to stop releasing melatonin.
• Happier outlook. A type of depression called seasonal affective disorder affects some people during the winter when they don't get enough sunlight. Experts now believe that sunlight has widespread mood-elevating effects, possibly because the "happy" hormone serotonin increases when nights are short and days are long. In fact, psychiatrists often recommend that depressed individuals go outside in the sun for 30 minutes a day. Bonus: You can slather on all the sunscreen you want and still reap the mood benefit.
• Protection from autoimmune diseases. Exposure to UV radiation appears to suppress an overactive immune system, according to an April report published in Environmental Health Perspectives. This could explain why exposure to UV rays may help with autoimmune diseases like psoriasis and lupus; one recent study also suggests it might help alleviate asthma.
• Lessening of Alzheimer's symptoms. Elderly Alzheimer's patients exposed to bright lighting during the day—from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.—got better scores on a mental exam, had fewer symptoms of depression, and lost less function than did those exposed to dim daytime lighting, according to a study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers attributed the improvement to more-regular circadian rhythms, which are thrown out of whack when advanced dementia sets in.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Healthy Fats

I can clearly remember sitting in a Weight Watcher’s meeting years ago (Yes I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and learned many good things from their excellent program) and the group leader questioning us as to whether we had been eating our daily requirement of 2 teaspoons of oil?

Oil?  Somehow it disturbed my low fat brain mentality to actually choose to eat oil. Like me you have probably tried like crazy to avoid French fries, onion rings, potato chips, fried chicken etc. etc. Keep out the fat and keep from getting fat.  And now here they were trying to get me to include oil in my diet.

Yes a healthy diet does include healthy fats. In fact dietary fats increase absorption of nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K, and lutein, lycopene and beta carotene. We need to learn to choose healthy fats and avoid the fats that are associated with disease risk.

Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats, such as oleic acid, are found in olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Eating foods rich in these fats can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your cholesterol levels, according to, and they may also help with blood sugar control--a concern for diabetics.

Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. The three acids are docosahexaenoic, eicosapentaenoic and alpha-linolenic. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential because they are necessary for your health, but are not naturally produced by the body. They can only be obtained through diet and are important for brain and eye growth, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts are all sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to UMHS, have anti-inflammatory effects and may help prevent or treat depression, heart disease and cancer.

Omega-6 Fats
Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for brain function, normal growth and development. They stimulate skin and hair growth, help keep bones strong, regulate metabolism and are necessary for reproductive function. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most vegetable oils and the average diet contains more than necessary. Consuming too much omega-6 fats may increase inflammation and pain.

Fats to Avoid
Eliminate trans fats from your diet and avoid most saturated fats. Trans fats are made from liquid vegetable oils that have been chemically altered to make them solid. Found in stick margarine, fried and processed foods, trans fats, according to the University of Michigan, raise your LDL cholesterol levels and lower your HDL cholesterol levels. LDL is the bad cholesterol that leads to heart disease while HDL is the good cholesterol that reduces your risk for heart disease.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in meats, dairy products, eggs and some tropical oils. The University of Michigan reports that saturated fats raise total and LDL cholesterol levels when consumed in large amounts.

So what is your challenge? To get an adeqequate amount of healthy fats in your diet. For every day that you include olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, salmon, sardines, flaxseed or walnuts in your diet you earn the 5 bonus points.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This Week's Challenge- Have Fun

I just got back from a  week of camping with the teenage girls from church. Wow did we have fun! We did a ropes course (amazing), swam in the pool (water polo and flat out racing), canoed, did archery and played a really fun game called gaga ball. Along with all of this we walked all over the place. 

It was a great reminder of the delight of using your body to have fun. 

As you have competed in these challenges I hope that you have worked your way toward incorporating daily exercise into your constant routine. But admittedly sometimes we think of it as a chore to check off the daily to-do list.

Your challenge this week is to put the fun back into movement. Think back on what physical activity you enjoyed as a child. Did you skate, play marco polo, climb trees, swing on a swing? Did you like to play catch, kick a soccer ball, play tennis? 

For every day that you spend at least 10 minutes putting fun back into your daily exercise you will earn the daily challenge points. Have some fun ladies!