Sunday, September 27, 2015

More veggies and fruit--- 9 servings a day!

Just when you have begun to settle in to eating at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day I decide to step it up a bit. Did you know that many dietary experts recommend 9 servings and some recommend 12 servings every day of fruits and vegetables? Oh my gosh how can that be possible?

And yes you have probably guessed it. I am going to challenge you this week to step it up to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables. For every day you eat 9 servings of fruit or vegetables you earn the daily 5 bonus points.

I’ve been going way too easy on you. According to the latest recommendation released by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Nine servings translate to about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day.

We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but how do we go about getting nine servings every day? Most of us had a hard time working in five.

And what about people who don't even like veggies? Many of us can even picture our mothers urging us to "eat our vegetables" at the family dinner table -- or even refusing to let us leave the table until we choked those veggies down. (In fact, some researchers believe that bad experiences with vegetables from our past can affect how we feel about these vegetables now, says Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN, nutrition consultant to the American Institute for Cancer Research.)
If this sounds like you, eating 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day probably sounds next to impossible. But it's a goal that's so important for your health.

The best nutrition minds in the country made these recommendations after studying the research that show fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and high blood pressure," says Christine Filardo, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the Produce for Better Health Foundation. "Fruits and vegetables can also help fight the obesity epidemic."
For those of you that are LDS fruits and vegetables are the “herbs” referred to in the Word of Wisdom that we are to partake of with prudence (actions to be done) and thanksgiving.

According to Filardo, the most common reasons people give for not eating more fruits and vegetables are that they often aren't convenient, and people don't know how to prepare them.

So what does it take to get into the nine-a-day habit? According to experts:
   It takes constantly reminding yourself to eat fruits and vegetables.
   It takes having fruit and veggies available at every turn -- at work, at home, in restaurants.
   It takes making it easy for yourself, because most people today are beyond busy.
With all this in mind, here are 17 surefire ways to get you on the road to enjoying fruits and vegetables several times a day.
1. Make fruit salad.
Fruit is much more appealing if it is cut, washed, and assembled into a colorful salad. A couple of times a week, clean out your produce bin and make a beautiful fruit salad.
2. Make a bowl of fruit part of your decor.
Wash whatever fresh fruit you have at the moment and set a big bowl of it on your table or desk. As you pass by or talk on the phone, you'll find yourself munching on this awesome snack food.
3. Toss some fruit into your breakfast.
Throw some fresh, frozen, or dried fruit into your breakfast, whether you're having a smoothie, pancakes, French toast, or hot or cold cereal.
4. Throw some veggies in the skillet.
Making an omelet or frittata? Fill it with chopped tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, chili peppers, broccoli florets, or whatever you have on hand. Any or all of these veggies can also be tossed into any potato skillet dish.
5. Crunch on a green salad.
Eat a crisp, green salad every day. It's a cool and refreshing way to work veggies into your lunch, dinner or snack. Load your salads up with as many raw veggies as you can: cucumber, grated carrots, zucchini, broccoli florets, green beans, onions, radishes, jicama, tomato, etc. And try using high-nutrient raw spinach or romaine instead of iceberg lettuce. For a sweet twist, add fruit to your green salads. Strawberries, pears, grapes, orange segments, mango, and papaya all work well.
6. Pair fruit with protein
Enjoy some fresh fruit with cheese or nut butter for a nice (and portable) dessert, picnic, or snack. I was surprised my favorite gas station (Go WAWA) sells a little snack pack of celery and carrots with peanut butter-mmmmm.
7. Munch on dried fruit.
Dried fruits make great snacks! They don't go bad or get bruised, and you can carry them in your briefcase or car (or store them in your desk) for a pick-me-up any time of day. Try dried apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines, prunes, raisins, dates, cherries, blueberries, and more.
8. Add veggies you like to dishes you love.
Spaghetti is one example of a dish that can be secretly supplemented with veggies. Just add finely chopped zucchini, mushroom, onions, eggplant, or yellow squash to a flavorful spaghetti sauce. The smaller you chop the veggies, the less likely you are to notice they're there.
A few more examples:
   Layer zucchini slices into your lasagna (my daughter makes this yum!)
   Stir broccoli florets into macaroni and cheese.
   Toss a few chopped vegetables into an omelet.
   Slide some veggies into a cheese quesadilla.
   Serve spaghetti squash INSTEAD of noodles with your favorite red sauce
9. Spoon up some soup.
Have soup as a snack or with a meal, at home or in a restaurant. Choose soups that are bursting with vegetables. You can embellish canned soups with extra veggies, too. Just stir them in while you're heating or cooking the soup.
10. Drink your vegetables (and fruits).
Some people are just more likely to drink their fruits and vegetables. V-8 or carrot juice equals a serving of vegetables. Or try blending some carrot juice with a fruit juice you enjoy (maybe orange or tangerine juice) and you've got a fruit AND a vegetable serving.
11. Vegi-fy your pizza.
If you like pizza, top it with some vegetables. Try any combination of tomato, onion, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and artichoke hearts.
12. Toss some on the grill or roast them in the oven
After you take your meat or fish off the grill, don't waste the hot coals. Throw some fruits and/or veggies on the grill while you're at it. You might be surprised at how great they taste!
Often, you can use the same marinade you're using for your meat. (Just marinate your fruits or veggies separately from the meat or baste them with marinade that hasn't touched the meat, so they're not exposed to raw meat juices.)
You can make a veggie kabob with chunks of vegetables (eggplant, carrot, bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and other squash). Soft vegetables won't need precooking, but firm vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, or broccoli, will benefit from steam or microwave cooking before they hit the grill. And veggies roasted in the oven are not your mama’s veggies- much much yummier!
13. Get them at the drive-through or service station
These days you can get your vegetables at many fast-food chains. Wendy's, for example, offers a Caesar side salad (with 70 calories and 4 grams of fat, not including dressing) or a side salad (35 calories, 0 grams fat, not including dressing). Ask for the fat-free French, low-fat honey mustard, or reduced-fat creamy ranch dressing. Use half the packet and you'll add around 50 calories and from 0-4 grams of fat, depending on which dressing you choose. Or skip the dressing all together. I often order a side salad and eat it without salad dressing and with my fingers while driving as you would French fries. And as I mentioned earlier a lot of convenience store and even gas stations are now offering fresh fruits and vegetables for snacking.
14. Dress up your dinner plate with fruit. Borrow a trick from restaurants, and add a beautiful fruit garnish to your dinner plate. It adds color and texture to your meal. Try orange wheels or wedges, sliced kiwi, a small branch of grapes, a wedge of melon or a roasted tomato ½.
15. Drizzle on some cheese sauce.
Pour a little cheese sauce or grated cheese over a pile of broccoli spears or cauliflower, and suddenly it's a whole different ballgame. You can make a lower-fat cheese sauce using reduced-fat cheese, fat-free half-and-half, and no butter or margarine.
16. Serve your veggies raw.
Raw vegetables are sometimes more appealing than their cooked counterparts. When you have a platter of assorted raw vegetables and some delicious low-fat dip in front of you, the vegetables just seem to disappear! Try raw cauliflower or broccoli florets, cabbage, or spinach, along with the usual carrots and celery. Use a light ranch or Italian dressing as a dip, or make your own and keep it ready to go in your refrigerator.
 17. Have prepared fruits and veggies ready to go in the fridge.
I don’t know about you but as soon as I get home from the store, I rinse all the fruit and prepare it for eating. I like to cut my grape stems into small sections with kitchen shears and rinse and store them in a colander. I like to have the fruit washed, clean prepared and near the front middle of my fridge so it becomes the easiest thing to grab in a rush.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Balance- important in so many ways!

I just spent the last half hour or so researching and writing our challenge for the week and then looked back to this one and decided it was better so you get a Throw Back Blog! 

I was talking with my best friend this morning and she recently fell and broke her elbow. It was a great reminder to me of the importance of this challenge so I am reissuing it to you this week. It seems we can get hung up on cardio or strength training and often neglect working on balance and flexibility! Let's remedy that! 


Important for Fall Prevention

Each year many people incur injury due to falls. Fall-related injuries can have a serious impact on a person's life. Balance exercises, along with certain strength exercises, can help prevent falls by improving your ability to control and maintain your body's position, whether you are moving or still. 

You know it's true. We all stumble from time to time. But whether you are able to right yourself or whether you fall to the floor and perhaps injure yourself depends on your core strength. 

Please read carefully through the entire post. I list the more challenging balance exercises at the end. Choose carefully something that will challenge you to increase your core balance. 

Beginner's Balance Exercises to Try

The 5 exercises that follow are aimed at improving your balance and your lower body strength. They include
  1. standing on one foot
  2. walking heel to toe
  3. balance walk
  4. back leg raises
  5. side leg raises

Anywhere, Anytime

You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to if you become unsteady. In the beginning, using a chair or the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely. 
Balance exercises overlap with the lower body strength exercises, which also can improve your balance. Do the strength exercises -- back leg raises, side leg raises, and hip extensions -- two or more days per week. 

Modify as You Progress 

The exercises which follow can improve your balance even more if you modify them as you progress. Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. To challenge yourself, try holding on to the chair with only one hand; then with time, you can try holding on with only one finger, then no hands. If you are steady on your feet, try doing the exercise with your eyes closed.

Safety Tips

  • Have a sturdy chair or a person nearby to hold on to if you feel unsteady.
  • Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise.

Standing on One Foot

Demonstration of standing on one foot while balancing on a chair. - Click to enlarge in new window.
Improve your balance by standing on one foot.
  1. Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
  2. Hold position for up to 10 seconds. 
  3. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg. 
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg. 

Walking Heel to Toe

Demonstration of walking heel to toe. - Click to enlarge in new window.
Improve your balance by walking heel to toe.
  1. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch. 
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk. 
  3. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot. 
  4. Repeat for 20 steps.

Balance Walk

Demonstration of the balance walk. - Click to enlarge in new window.
Improve your balance with the balance walk.
  1. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height. 
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk. 
  3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. 
  4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward. 
  5. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

Back Leg Raises

Demonstration of back leg raises. - Click to enlarge in new window.
Strengthen your buttocks and lower back with back leg raises.
  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. 
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Try not to lean forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold position for 1 second. 
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg. 
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times. 
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg. 
  7. Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg.

Side Leg Raises

Demonstration of side leg raises. - Click to enlarge in new window.
Strengthen your hips, thighs, and buttocks with side leg raises.
  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. 
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your back straight and your toes facing forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. 
  3. Hold position for 1 second. 
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times. 
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg. 
  7. Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg.

Yoga standing balance poses are difficult because they require leg strength and upper body flexibility in addition to the ability to balance on one leg. Balancing poses also require core strength, so you will also be working the abdominals with the series.

 - © Barry Stone

1. Awkward Chair 

1.  Bend the knees until the thighs are almost parallel to the floor.
2. Keep the butt low.
3. Bring the arms up towards the ceiling.
4. Bring a slight back bend into the upper back.
5. Hold 5-10 breaths
Beginners: Work on bring the thighs closer and closer to parallel to the floor.
Advanced: Try this variation: Bring the hands into a prayer position at the heart. Twist to the right side, bringing the left elbow outside the right knee. Stay low in the pose and keep the knees pressing together. Come back to center and then do the left side.
 - © Barry Stone

2. Eagle Pose

1. Shift your weight onto the left leg.
2. Bend the right leg, lifting the foot from the floor and cross your right thigh over your left.
3. Hook the right foot around the left calf.
4. Bring the arms out in front.
5. Cross the left arm over the right and bring the palms to touch.
6. Lift the elbows while keeping the shoulders sliding down the back.
7. Hold 5-10 breaths.
8. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: If you have trouble with the balance, rest your backside on a wall. If you can't hook the lifted foot around the calf, put a block under the foot instead.
Advanced: Start to come into a forward bend, bringing the elbows in front of the knees. Bring the thumbs to your third eye.
 - © Barry Stone

3. Tree Pose - 

1. Come to a standing pose
2. Feel your weight equally on all four corners of both feet.
3. Begin to shift the weight over to the right foot, lifting the left foot off the floor.
4. Bend the left knee, bringing the sole of the left foot high onto the inner right thigh.
5. Press the foot into the thigh and the thigh back into the foot.
6. Try not to let the right hip jut out. Keep both hips squared towards the front.
7. Focus on something that doesn't move to help you keep your balance.
8. Repeat the move while standing on the left foot.
Beginners: If you cannot bring the left foot high inside the right thigh, bring it lower on the right leg -- but be careful to avoid placing the left foot directly on the right knee.
Use the wall for balance if necessary.
Advanced: Bring the arms up towards the ceiling with the palms touching. Open the arms out to side.
Try closing the eyes and see if you can stay balanced.

 - © Barry Stone

4. King Dancer Pose - Natarajasana

1. Shift your weight onto the right leg.

2. Bend the left knee and grasp the inside of the left foot with the left hand.

3. Start to bring the left foot and the right arm up toward the ceiling as you bring your torso forward.
4. Hold 5-10 breaths.
5. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: Fix your gaze on something that doesn't move so that you don’t lose the balance.
Advanced: Go for the full version of this pose.
Shift your grasp on the raised foot so that your arm is coming straight up toward the ceiling with a bend at the elbow coming back towards the foot. This requires coming into a deeper backbend.
Once you have the foot grasped with one hand, move the other arm into a parallel position and take ahold of the same raised foot.
Balance and deepen the backbend.

 - © Barry Stone

5. Warrior III 

1. From Warrior I position, bring the hands onto your hips.
2. Bring your weight forward into your front foot as you gently kick up your back leg.
3. At the same time, bring the torso forward until it is parallel to the floor.
4. Keep the neck relaxed, as if it's the natural extension of the spine.
5. Keep both hips pointing toward the floor as you bring the back leg in line with your body.

6. Flex the raised foot and keep the muscles of the raised leg actively engaged.
7. Bring the arms back along your sides.
8. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: Do the pose at the wall. You can either face the wall and bring your arms outstretched in front of you with your hands on the wall or turn around and bring the lifted back foot onto the wall.
Advanced: Try another arm variation. Bring the arms outstretched in front of you. 

So your challenge for this week is to attempt 5 different balance exercises each day that will help you to improve your balance. These exercises can be from the list above or others that you are familiar with. (And as in all exercise challenges you can only earn points 6 days of the week for a total of 30 challenge points)