Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I slept for almost 6 hours straight last night - amazing for me, but then when I awoke I couldn't go back to sleep. That's at least an hour less than recommended! So I decided to do some Sparking and read some emails - and once again there's SP being so timely for me.
Today's "Exercise Tip Of The Day" isn't about a specific exercise, but about something that affects our motivation to exercise and our weight loss success - of course, I'm referring to those ever elusive ZZZZZ's.
"Answers from SparkPeople's Fitness Experts
Question: I only sleep 5-6 hours each night. Is this really a big deal?
"Expert Answer: Sleep is instrumental to good health and even weight loss. A disruption in your hormones and your different metabolic processes has all kinds of adverse effects. Your fat cells respond to the food you eat differently, based on your hormones. Sleep loss affects the level of certain hormones, putting your body in a position to gain weight.
Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and "run down." Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscle - sleep and proper nutrients help re-build the muscle. Yes, sleep is a big deal!
Time Involved: At least 8 hours
Body Benefit: Energy, Improved weight loss, Balanced hormones, and more!"
I know we keep hearing that we should be getting 7 - 9 hrs. of sleep a night, but I don't think it can be emphasized enough because I think I'm only one of many who can't or aren't getting enough sleep and we're paying for it in areas we wouldn't suspect - lack of motivation, hormone disruption, problems losing weight and muscle repair.
Losing weight and creating a healthier lifestyle is a lifetime - long - journey and we all suffer from lack of motivation from time to time- is one of the main reasons - lack of sufficent sleep???
Thank goodness contrary to former belief we can indeed "catch up" on lost sleep and pay ourselves back. See
So what else can we do? Some good suggestions are:
"Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle are major factors in helping secure a good night’s sleep. Four current studies of the effects of exercise on the quality of sleep of older men and women indicate that regular exercise is likely to have a beneficial effect on quality of sleep. Recent research also indicates that taking short naps during the day of no more than 20 to 30 minutes may actually help a person sleep at night. Medication can be used for short-term problems, but does not seem to solve long term sleep problems. Two new ideas, light therapy and two drugs, melatonin and valarian, are thought by some experts to be effective treatments for some insomnias associated with aging. However, more studies are needed on these alternative treatments to ensure that they are safe and effective, and to determine an accurate dosage." (See www.newswise.com/articles/view/50048
I have used Melatonin (3 mg. tablets) occasionally and have found them to be helpful with no side affects, but I try not to take them too often. They're available over the counter and I take two. It's important not to swallow them, but to let them dissolve under the tongue - they have a minty taste so they're quite palatable.
And turn off the TV. Late night programs are not as good for our health as adequate sleep is!!!!
I don't think that there's any doubt that we have to look at sleep deprivation and how it's affecting us more seriously. It's not something that we should keep putting aside pushing back - it's too important for our overall health and that's why SP keeps reminding us so!!!!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I've always thought that a flaw in my character was that I couldn't "forgive", but after reading Jonathan Lockwood Huie's Daily Inspiration today, I realize that I never really understood what "to forgive" means.
Everyone suffers hurts and wrongs, some horrendous. One of J. Huie's affirmations is, "I forgive everyone, especially myself, for all actions and all inactions throughout my entire life." Now this sounds all well and good and it provoked a number of responses especially from those who had suffered various forms of abuse who just couldn't bring themselves to forgive those that had caused them harm. His explanation of "forgiveness" has made such an impact on me that I thought I would share it.
"My article "Regrets, Resentments and the Path to Forgiveness" has generated several comments and questions that I would like to address. First, a brief summary of the original article...
I forgive everyone for every "wrong" that I believe they have ever inflicted upon me. I forgive them for my own sake, that I may release the venom - the anger and resentment within myself - and regain my joy and serenity. I have compassion for everyone who has ever been a player upon the stage of my life.
Forgiveness is not a reprieve that you give to someone else. Forgiveness for another's act or omission is a gift that you give yourself. You are the one who suffers the upset and the anger when you feel that you have been wronged. It is your own blood pressure that rises when you hold on to resentment.
Forgiving others is a gift to yourself, given not because the other deserves pardon, but because you deserve the serenity and joy that comes from releasing resentment and anger, and from embracing universal forgiveness.
Three anonymous comments/questions I received...
Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I have been wronged by the ones I loved all my life and I am not sure how to let go of the anger and to forgive them. I want to let go of the burden I have been carrying for so long.
I have been abused sexually and beaten by my father almost everyday, I stood there while he beat my mother and my sister and brother. He even tried to molest my sister. Well, he committed suicide a few years back and it's very hard to forgive him for what he has done, but after reading this, I guess that I can try. It just hurts. I think about it almost everyday. Then I get very upset.
I was sexually violated by my stepfather many years ago and it continued through my whole childhood. The only reason it stopped is because I ran away at age fourteen. How can I forgive someone who said I was a liar? He did it to my 4 sisters and I have no family because they all turned on me for speaking up. I find myself very alone at times and I wonder "Did I do the right thing?"
Thank you for your questions. Life has been very hard on you. I wish it could have been otherwise.
I will attempt to answer your question, "How can I forgive?" The short answer is that your act of forgiveness is for yourself, to enable you to stop suffering.
To expand upon the nature and benefits of forgiveness, let's look first at what it means to forgive. The dictionary tells us that "to forgive" means "to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for something they did or failed to do." It does not mean that you believe what the person did was acceptable then, or is now acceptable, or ever could be acceptable.
Forgiveness is about ending your anger. Anger is a destructive human emotion that rots our insides. It causes much of the physical illness in the world as well as untold emotional suffering. Freeing yourself from as much anger as you are holding is like taking a three hundred pound weight off your chest and six daggers out of your ribs.
The better question might be, "How can you NOT forgive?" Forgiveness - forgiveness of all people and all acts - is a sure path to happiness.
So what can you do today to end the resentment and anger, and create forgiveness and happiness? Carrying around three hundred pounds of anger is a little like carrying around three hundred pounds of excess weight. It took years to grow that much anger, and it will take time to shed the anger. Today, hold the intention to be one percent less angry than yesterday. Do the same thing tomorrow. If you can stick to that emotional diet, you will have lost all your anger and resentment, as well as any regrets about anything you yourself did or did not do, in three or four months. I'm rooting for you."
I know this is a little long, but I learned a lot from it today. I'm definitely going to work on "letting go" of past hurts and stored up anger - it's what's best for me and my health. I'm not accepting them - just letting them go. Perhaps though my problem hasn't been one so much of "forgiveness" as "forgetting" - isn't "not forgetting" a kind of self-protection?? Anyhoo, I'm going to work on "letting it go", "letting it go" a little bit more each day - taking it one day at a time - for me!!!
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~ Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~ Paul Boese
Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself. ~ Harriet Nelson
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I'm finding it harder and harder to get in the exercise like I used to as the demands of my active 3 year old granddaughter (who I "nanny") increase. I know all younger mothers can relate to this and I all too well remember how hard it was to put in time for myself in those days - and here I am again in a similar situation. And with the arrival of my new grandson (another darling to eventually "nanny") in the Fall, well, I've had to rethink my exercise regime and plan ahead.
And that's why I was so encouraged when I read this SP Family Health & WellnessTip:
"Shorter Workouts Help Build Consistency
Most experts recommend that you exercise up to 90 minutes most days of the week, emphasizing that you gradually work your way up to that duration. However, a recent study conducted at Boston Sports Clubs found that participants who exercised for 20-30 minutes did so more consistently than those involved in 45-60 minute workout sessions. This study shows that you're more likely to stick to a shorter duration workout than a longer one.
Action Sparked: If you and your family members are having trouble staying consistent with exercise, try a shorter workout session. Tell yourself that you'll exercise for 10 or 15 minutes, and follow through with it. Of course 10 minutes of exercise is better than totally skipping a workout. But, once you've hit that small goal (whether it's 5, 10, or 20 minutes), ask yourself if you could keep going. You may find that planning on a short workout is enough to get everyone to the gym (or park, trail, etc.), and once you're there, you can do a lot more than you thought."
Great news, but what about health benefits? If I workout for shorter periods of time will I still get the same benefits in helping lower my blood pressure?? So I did some research and found this great WebMD article at www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/featu
res/how-much-exercise-do-you-really-need "How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?"
Apparently "there's building evidence that short but frequent bouts of exercise can yield plenty of health benefits.
* A study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2006 showed that short walks after dinner were more effective than long exercise sessions in reducing the amount of fat and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream after a hearty meal. (Great!!!)
* Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that short bouts of exercise helped lower blood pressure as well as shave inches off the hips and waistline. (BINGO - that's what I was looking for!)
* In a study published in Preventive Medicine in 2006, researchers found that multiple workout sessions as short as 6 minutes apiece could help sedentary adults reach fitness goals similar to those achieved by working out for 30 minutes at a time. (Now that's attainable for just about everyone, isn't it!!)
* In a finding published in the journal Psychopharmacology, doctors found that short bursts of exercise could help reduce the craving for cigarettes and help people quit smoking." (I should share this with all my smoker friends!)
"There is no question that short amounts of exercise can help you get fit, help you stay fit, and help you maintain your health," says personal fitness coach Susie Shina, author of Sixty Second Circuits. "You can stay fit in increments as short as 4 and 5 minutes at a time."
"The best part about that is that everyone can find 5 minutes a few times a day, says Shina, owner of a mobile personal training center called Fitness 180.
"Some of these exercises can fit into a 5-minute time period at work, at your desk, waiting on line in the grocery store, even driving in your car," says Shina. "It's not an overwhelming task, and the benefits can be enormous."
I must admit the idea of getting in 10 min. bouts of exercise here and there whenever I can throughout the day seems less daunting to my present circumstances and now that I know I'll still get the same health benefits of longer periods on my blood pressure - well - it sounds like a good workable plan for me!!!
And I found a good SP article on how to help me do just that at www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness
_articles.asp?id=202 "Small Bits of Exercise Add Up"
So I now have no excuses not to "Keep Moving", I just have to "Eat Less" to stay on plan LOL!!!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Good news!! It looks like the old adage "Laughter is the best medicine" may indeed have some truth to it according to the results of a two studies recently reported in SP's Health News.
Apparently, the two studies "found that laughter not only can reduce stress, which can damage the heart, it can lead to improved blood flow, which can help ward off high blood pressure."
The first group was comprised of healthy adults who were "asked to watch either a comedy or documentary film. They were then checked for activity of the carotid arteries -- the main arteries in the neck that bring blood to the brain and face -- during the films.
People who watched the comedy displayed improved "arterial compliance" -- the amount of blood that moves through the arteries at a given time. Decreased arterial compliance is often linked with high blood pressure and heart disease, according to an American College of Sports Medicine news release.
"Arterial compliance was improved for a full 24 hours after subjects watched a funny movie," said lead researcher Jun Sugawara. "Laughing is likely not the complete solution to a healthy heart, but it appears to contribute to positive effects."
The second study focused on vascular function and the dilation of blood vessels. When a second group of adults watched either a comedy or a serious documentary, there was more dilation of blood vessels during the comedy. Constricted blood vessels can be a cause of high blood pressure, the news release said.
"Not only did comedies improve vascular dilation, but watching a documentary about a depressing subject was actually harmful to the blood vessels," said Takashi Tarumi, lead researcher on the second study. "These documentaries constricted blood vessels by about 18 percent."
And interestingly, "In both studies, the beneficial effects of laughter lasted for 24 hours, the researchers said."
(To see the article, go to
Action Plan: Watch a comedy film - attend a comedy show - tell a good joke and laugh, laugh, laugh!!!
What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. ~ Yiddish Proverb
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~ Irish Proverb
Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. ~ Arnold Glasow
A good, real, unrestrained, hearty laugh is a sort of glorified internal massage, performed rapidly and automatically. It manipulates and revitalizes corners and unexplored crannies of the system that are unresponsive to most other exercise methods. ~ Author unknown, from an editorial in New York Tribune, quoted in Quotations for Special Occasions by Maud van Buren
Friday, May 29, 2009
"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." ~ Leo Buscaglia
I'm a worry-wort! I worry about everything!! I've had to work hard over the years to suppress my worrying and learn to "accept what I can't change", but it's a constant struggle so I really appreciate reading reminders about the cost of worrying and today's Healthy Reflection has done just that.
"The destructive power of worry
Legend has it that 90% of what we worry about never comes to pass. Whether that is statistically precise or not, there's probably some truth to it in your life. How much of our lives do we miss because we're agonizing over what might happen down the road? How often do we fail to act--even if it's the right thing to do--because we fear any number of possible consequences? Fretting over the future doesn't solve any impending problems. It only paralyzes your actions of the present. It stresses you out, makes you mentally and physically tired, and saps all the fun out of what could have been another great day. Next time you start to worry about what might happen, think of this: You can prepare, but you cannot predict. So do what you can and forget what you cannot."
Dr. Shad Helmstetter tells us that it's not natural to worry - that it's not an instinct or a trait - that it's a habit that's learned.
"Worry is different from "being concerned." It is natural to be concerned about things that threaten you or someone or something important to you. Concern is your mind's way of getting you to take notice and, if necessary take action.
But healthy concern often turns into unhealthy worry - a form of fear and doubt that all too often exaggerates a problem, makes you dwell on it and replay it over and over in your mind without creating a solution.
The truth is, we can't solve some of the things that bother us, while we can solve others. The solution for worry, as we have often been told, is to do something about those things we can change, and learn to accept those things which we cannot."
I find that focusing on positive self-talk messages helps me deal with my learned negative thinking - sometimes I verbally say them to myself and sometimes I repeatedly write them down. Ones I use to help combat worrying are:
"My mind focuses its attention only on those things that I can do something about. If I cannot affect it or direct it - I accept it."
"My mind is constantly in tune with the positive - it is bright, cheerful, enthusiastic - and full of good, positive thoughts and ideas."
"I am able to relax easily and comfortably in my body and in my mind. I am calm, confident, and self-assured."
and my favourite,
"I control the thoughts I choose. No thought, at any time, can dwell in my mind without my approval or permission."
Yup, I'm working on it!!!
"Rule number one is, don't sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it's all small stuff." ~ Robert Eliot
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