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Congratulations on making it through all of those Thanksgiving temptations! Now, it's time to face the upcoming barrage of holiday parties over the next month. Between the office buffets, neighborhood open houses, family gatherings, religious festivities, and community get-togethers, sticking to a healthy eating plan can become difficult, to say the least.
While there are a variety of excuses to overindulge during the holidays, the best defense against holiday eating disasters is a good plan of action. There is no better way to formulate a plan for holiday survival than to learn from how others stay healthy during this time of joy and celebration. Use these helpful SparkPeople member tips to stay on track into the New Year.
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Just about everywhere you look someone is using technology. I find it's actually difficult to go out and not see people texting or playing games on their cell phones. It seems that using our phones and other mobile devices (iPads, tablets, laptops, etc.) is such a common thing now. According to this article, the National Sleep Foundation found that "more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or electronic device of some kind in the hour before bed." With the use of electronic devices like that, researchers are finding that the "exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle." This can cause disturbances in our sleep, along with increasing our risk of obesity and diabetes.
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There's no doubt medical screenings (such as MRIs and CT scans) save lives, but in some cases, they're just not necessary. "Some doctors may prescribe a test 'just to be safe,' and many patients don't think to question it, but the truth is, you should always discuss with your physician why you need a test before you go for it," says Christine Cassel, MD, president of the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Simple questions to get the conversation going:
- "How will the results of this test improve my treatment?"
- "What are the risks of the test?"
- "What are the risks if I don't have it?"
Three tests you should question:
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Keep Your Brain Sharp
Straining your brain to remember someone’s name or where you left your wallet? Forgetting things can be a pesky problem, but it can get serious without the proper attention. Thankfully, a few simple tricks are all it takes to prevent those forgetful moments and get your memory in shape.
New research shows that older people who have higher levels of vitamins B, C, D and E in their blood have stronger memory and thinking skills. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin B12 in particular (found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk)—low levels of this vitamin have been linked to memory problems. Whenever possible, try to get these nutrients from food instead of pills. But if you're a vegetarian, over 50 years old and/or taking certain medications for diabetes or heartburn, ask your doctor about B12 supplements, since you may be at a higher risk for a deficiency. On the flip side, avoid foods that contain trans fats (including fried foods and many packaged baked goods). Studies show that people with high levels of this dangerous fat had worse cognitive functioning.
The neurologist says...Eat your vitamins B, C, D and E
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Having a job that requires sitting most or all of the day doesn't mean that you can't fit in extra calorie burning activities throughout the day. For me, I work from home and am on the computer a lot of the day, however, I take breaks as often as I can to get up and walk around to stretch my legs, which also gives my eyes a rest from the computer screen. Some of my favorite exercise breaks include walking around the house at a fast pace, walking up and down the stairs, dancing around the living room (my dogs really love this!), or taking the dogs for a quick walk around the neighborhood. Before working from home though, I worked in a conventional office and would do everything I could to get up and move. I would walk to my co-worker's office/cubicle rather than email them, take the stairs as much as possible and go for walks during my lunch hour. Even though I'm not in a conventional office now, I still make sure to work in ways to burn extra calories (in addition to my formal exercise) throughout the day.
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You watch what you eat and feel pretty savvy about nutrition. But as you’re racing from one chore to the next, it’s easy to skimp on certain nutrients and overdose on others. The good news: “There’s no food or dietary component that you have to eliminate from a healthy diet,” says Rachel Begun, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But you have to plan a little to balance your diet the majority of the time.” Here are women’s most common nutrition mistakes and how to fix them.
You eat too much sodium.
The recommended daily allowance for sodium is 2,300 mg. But if you’re over 50 years old, have high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease or are African American, your sodium intake shouldn’t go above 1,500 mg per day. Unfortunately, the average American consumes about 3,300 mg daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Most of our daily sodium comes from restaurant meals and processed foods, not the salt shaker on your table,” says Begun. “Start reading food labels. You’ll be surprised how quickly sodium adds up.”
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Have Better Days
Feel like all of the advice you hear tells you to do more? Eat more salad. Drink more water. But it's not just about doing more, it's about doing what you already do—like taking a walk or drinking coffee—at the right time to maximize the benefits. "Your biological clock regulates when you produce certain hormones and chemicals that affect just about everything, from your energy levels to how quickly you burn calories," says Timothy H. Monk, PhD, director of human chronobiology research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
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After living in the state of California all of our lives, five years ago my husband and I decided we were ready for a change, and we moved to Missouri. We have enjoyed the change that we experienced with that move and decided that it was finally time for us to purchase our first home. We purchased our house in mid-July and have been enjoying being homeowners. We honestly couldn’t ask for a better first home as we both love it very much. It feels great, and we both feel quite accomplished that we were able to become homeowners much sooner than we ever thought was possible.
Our new house is located in a neighborhood only a few miles away from the house we were renting. Now, this is generally a safe and quiet neighborhood. However, last week we learned an important lesson, that bad things happen even in "safe and quiet" places.
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Do you ever hit an energy low during your workouts? If so, there could be a variety of reasons why, but some of those can be an easy fix, such as eating properly, getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water, changing up your workouts, etc.
Whenever I find myself hitting a low during my workouts, I run through a list of things in my head to figure out what may be happening so it doesn't continue to happen for future workouts. A few things that I do to make sure I have enough energy for my workouts are to make sure I'm well rested, drink plenty of water and make sure I switch up my workouts so I don't get bored. If I'm not well rested, then I am going to be tired well before my workout, which will not only cause my workout to be less than great, but it can also lead to more fatigue and possible injuries. On the days that I know I didn't sleep well the night before, I either do a short walk as my workout (or something else that is quick and simple) or I skip that day's workout. I would rather go to bed early to help me catch up on my sleep so I will be more rested and less injury prone. If all goes well and am better rested the next day, I am able to put more effort into my workout then.
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Fact vs. FictionShould you swim with a full stomach? Let scrapes air out? Tinkle on a jellyfish sting? There once may have been some wisdom behind the advice (although probably not with the jellyfish sting), but many summer suggestions are outdated. With the lowdown from top experts, find out which warm-weather beliefs are based on real common sense—and which are complete nonsense.
My husband and I just celebrated our 14th anniversary earlier this week and I thought it was a great time to share some active date ideas with you. While we haven't had a chance to actually celebrate our anniversary just yet, we will be doing something active and fun when we do. We both enjoy a good movie and dinner, but that can be costly not only for our wallets, but our waistline as well.
Easier Doctors’ AppointmentsYou've been putting off scheduling your gyno appointment for weeks. The flimsy gown, the stirrups...no matter how many times you've gone, you still feel vulnerable. As tempting as it is, delaying regular medical exams won't make them any better, since timely checkups can catch problems in their earliest stages when they're easiest to treat.
Fortunately there are ways to make exams more comfortable. The first step is to call the doctor's office before your appointment and speak to a nurse or physician's assistant. "Often, it's the fear of the unknown that prevents people from scheduling a test like a colonoscopy, so ask for an overview of what to expect," says Sandra Cialfi, nurse manager of the endoscopy center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "We're more than happy to answer all of your questions in advance because it makes our job easier once you're here," she says. Knowledge is power, and that's particularly true when it comes to these often anxiety-producing health screenings. Top medical insiders explain how to navigate four of the most common.
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One thing I don’t have patience for is being hungry. I’ve never been one of those people who can go all day without remembering to eat. My body is like an alarm clock, and when the buzzer goes off that it’s time to eat, it just keeps getting louder until I do something about it. When I get really hungry, the first thing I grab for is usually a granola bar or something else that’s high in carbohydrates. I always figured that’s because it’s quick and easy, but new research shows that my growling stomach could be causing me to gravitate toward these types of foods. Read More ›
Whether your tension is small-time or big-league, unwind with our smartest stress-less advice from the past 75 years.
Instant Tension Zappers
1 | Take three deep breaths—5 seconds in, 5 seconds out—to slow your heart rate and the pace of your stress hormones. April 2010
2 | Copy a cat: Stretch and then shake it out. February 1963
3 | Sing a favorite song. You'll breathe more fully and the increased oxygen will do your body good. May 2000
4 | Hang your head forward as if it were a heavy ball, then move it slowly to the side, back, side and front. Repeat. Circle around twice in the opposite direction. July 1975
5 | Sit up straight. When your shoulders are back, you open up your chest and breathe more freely. April 2010
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Summer provides a perfect opportunity to get a healthy dose of the sunshine vitamin that many of us need. At the same time, we are mindful of the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays we have heard so much about over the years. We look for tips that make applying sunscreen easier and more fun for kids while not always wearing it ourselves.
Last summer the FDA unveiled new rules related to sunscreen claims to help reduce consumer confusion about UV protection and claims related to being waterproof or sweatproof. The new rules would have gone into effect June 17, 2012 were it not for an FDA issued delay last month that provided a six-month extension.
With all the confusion regarding when and how the guidelines will change, it can be difficult to know how to protect your skin against the sun at the beach or during outdoor workouts. Here are some useful tips to help you have a skin safe summer.
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