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Travelnista's Ninth Day of Christmas

Monday, January 02, 2012

On the Ninth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - healthy fats

The fact is, everyone needs to have some fat in their diets daily. It’s the type of fat that matters in addition to how much you consume. Healthy fats are essential to good health.

The human body uses fatty acids to do everything from building cell membranes to performing key functions in the brain, eyes, and lungs. The functions of fats include:

Brain – Fats compose 60% of the brain and are essential to brain function, including learning abilities, memory retention and moods. Fats are especially important for pregnant women, since they are integral to fetal brain development.

Cells – Fatty acids help your cells stay movable and flexible, as well as being responsible for building cell membranes.

Heart – 60% of our heart’s energy comes from burning fats. Specific fats are also used to help keep the heart beating in a regular rhythm.

Nerves – Fats compose the material that insulates and protects the nerves, isolating electrical impulses and speeding their transmission.

Lungs – Lung surfactant, which requires a high concentration of saturated fats, enables the lungs to work and keeps them from collapsing.

Eyes – Fats are essential to eye function.

Digestion – Fats in a meal slow down the digestion process so the body has more time to absorb nutrients. Fats help provide a constant level of energy and also keep the body satiated for longer periods of time. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) can only be absorbed if fat is present.

Organs – Fats cushion and protect your internal organs.

Immune System –Some fats ease inflammation, helping your metabolism and immune system stay healthy and functioning.

To understand good and bad fats, you need to know the names of the different kinds of fats there are. The "bad" fats—saturated and trans fats—increase the risk for certain diseases. The "good" fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk. The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats—and to avoid trans fats.

Monounsaturated fats
Are liquid at room temperature and turn cloudy when kept in refrigerator.
Primary sources are plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. Other good sources are avocados; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.

People following traditional Mediterranean diets, which are very high in foods containing monounsaturated fats like olive oil, tend to have lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated fats
Are liquid at room temperatures as well as at cold temperatures
Primary sources are sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and also foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish.

This fat family includes the Omega-3 group of fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and your body can’t make. In addition, Omega-3 fats are found in very few foods.

Saturated fat
Are usually solid at room temperature and have a high melting point
Primary sources are animal products including red meat and whole milk dairy products. Other sources are tropical vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and foods made with these oils. Poultry and fish contain saturated fat, but less than red meat.

Saturated fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

It is unnecessary to eat saturated fat sources since our bodies can produce all the saturated fat that we need when we consume enough of the good fats.

Trans Fats
Trans fats are created by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas, a process called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenating vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers – and very bad for you.

Primary sources of trans fat are vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially
hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), as well as lowering HDL, or good cholesterol.

Make sure you eat some of these fats daily:

1. Olive oil - The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels. (1-3) No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated as olive oil -mainly oleic acid.

Olive oil is very well tolerated by the stomach. In fact, olive oil's protective function has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs. Consequently, it lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

2. Avocado- my favorite fat, thus the indepth list of benefits

Oral Cancer Defense
Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados are able to seek out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy cells. (ref)

Breast Cancer Protection
Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies. (ref)

Eye Health
Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases. (ref)

Lower Cholesterol
Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week. (ref)

Heart Health
One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don't. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are also great for your heart. (ref)

Stroke Prevention
The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who don't. (ref)

Better Nutrient Absorption
Research has found that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with avocado. In one study, when participants ate a salad containing avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes lycopene and beta carotene) than those who didn't include avocados. (ref)

Glutathione Source
Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease. (ref)

Vitamin E Powerhouse
Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health. (ref)

3. Flax seeds / Flax oil have many benefits:

Lowered blood cholesterol levels
Lowered high blood pressure
Increased energy, vitality, and stamina
Increased sense of calmness under stress
Reduced threat of blood clots
Protection against cancers, particularly hormone sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate
Better regulation of blood sugar levels
Eases inflammatory tissue conditions, including arthritis
Alleviation of dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
Enhanced immune system
Increased metabolic rate with a positive impact on weight management
Helps with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Natural laxative

4. Salmon, mackeral, herring, albacore, sardine, rainbow trout, eel contain omega-3 fatty acids.

5.Olives - Olives are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats. Olives can also be a low-calorie snack all on their own. One serving of 20 small black olives is a great snack with less than 100 calories and will contain a good amount of iron, fiber, vitamin E, and copper.

6. 1 ounce of nuts - nuts are now considered as a health food—ironically because of their fats (the good, heart-healthy kind). They also contain an array of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E and zinc, and are a good source of fiber.

7. Natural Peanut Butter -Natural peanut butter is high in fat - good fat - and it's cholesterol-free and has vitamin E, folic acid, and zinc. In regards to the myth that its loaded with calories. A slice of toast with peanut butter has the same number of calories as toast with a bit of diary butter. But keep in mind peanut butter is higher in nutritional components...

Note:Two tablespoons contains about 8 grams of protein/200 calories, the same protein as 1oz of roast turkey. Yes the calories are a bit high, but protein and nutrition value far out weighs the worry of a few extra calories.

Natural Peanut Butter is better due to regular peanut butter does contain a tiny, tiny amount of hydrogenated fats, less than 1% per jar. Are Trans Fats Listed on the Nutrition Facts Label ? NO There is currently no provision for the listing of trans fats on the nutrition facts label. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a proposed rule for including trans fat on the nutrition label.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    This is amazing! I'll show it to my husband when he comes home. What a great blog. I "liked" it.

Thank you for your education. It's amazing.


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ORGANIC811LFRV 1/3/2012 5:49AM

    Your blogs are a wealth of knowledge girlfriend. I shudder when I read raw vegans going low fat! I go WHATTHEHELL? Fats - healthy ones such as Omega 3's in flax are essential!

Thanks for the blog! (Did you know I'm copying these to present to my future students for dietary information?)

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    Thanks for another excellent blog. Love you, Dawn emoticon

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    Lots of great info, thanks! You put so much work into this, I applaud you!

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TEDYBEAR2838 1/2/2012 8:12PM

    I love the flax seed and the benefits for sure. I love a lot
of the things on this list and use them often.

Thanks again for all you do for us.


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DARA52 1/2/2012 6:03PM

    Am just now infusing some olive oil with lemon zest. I love lemon olive oil for stir frying my veggies! My old bottle was too expensive to replace so I just googled it!

Thanks again, Yvonne. Great blog.

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SEASONS_CHANGE 1/2/2012 5:48PM

    I wonder which olive oil is the best.. there are so many different kinds... thanks for another blue ribbon blog


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LGAR519 1/2/2012 4:02PM

    Very informative. Thanx!

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BE-THE-CHANGE 1/2/2012 3:05PM

    Thanks for all the info!

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L*I*T*A* 1/2/2012 3:04PM

    love it..........thanks

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KNH771 1/2/2012 2:46PM

    I've been enjoying your "Days of Christmas" posts... Thanks!

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Travelnista's Eighth Day of Christmas

Sunday, January 01, 2012

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - Superfoods

Top 10 Multitasking Super Foods

1. Low fat or fat-free plain yogurt is higher in calcium than some other dairy products and contains a great package of other nutrients, including protein and potassium. It can also be enhanced with other good-for-you substances. "Yogurt is a vehicle food that can be enriched with probiotics for a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, and beneficial, heart-healthy plant stanols," says Zied. "And lactose sensitive people may tolerate yogurt better than milk." Look for plain yogurt fortified with vitamin D, and add your own fruit to control sweetness and calories. Versatile yogurt can also be used in entrée and bakery recipes, in dips for veggies, etc. Don't like yogurt? Skim milk is another super dairy food that has only 83 calories per cup and is easy to slip into coffee to help you get one of the recommended three servings of dairy each day. "Dairy foods contain practically every nutrient you need for total nutrition -- and in just the right balance," says bone health expert, Robert Heaney, MD. "No other food group in the diet is as complete or as economical."

2. Eggs make the list because they are nutritious, versatile, economical, and a great way to fill up on quality protein. "Studies show if you eat eggs at breakfast, you may eat fewer calories during the day and lose weight without significantly affecting cholesterol levels," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Eggs also contain 12 vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory. Enjoy them at any meal or hard-cooked as a portable snack.

3. Nuts have gotten a bad rap because of their high fat content. But their protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and antioxidant content earn them a place on the top 10 list. The key to enjoying nuts, experts say, is portion control. "All nuts are healthful in small doses, and studies show they can help lower cholesterol levels and promote weight loss," says Today Show nutritionist Joy Bauer, MS, RD. "I like pistachio nuts because they also contain plant sterols and it takes longer to crack the shell and eat them, making it easier to control the portion. Whether you prefer pistachios, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, an ounce a day of nuts help fill you up. Nuts add texture and flavor to salads, side dishes, baked goods, cereals, and entrées. They taste great alone, too. Zied recommends putting together your own "100-calorie packs" of nuts for easy and portable snacks.

4. Kiwis are among the most nutritionally dense fruits, full of antioxidants, says Ward. "One large kiwi supplies your daily requirement for vitamin C," says Ward. "It is also a good source of potassium, fiber, and a decent source of vitamin A and vitamin E, which is one of the missing nutrients, and kiwi is one of the only fruits that provides it." The sweet taste and colorful appearance of kiwis makes it easy to slice in half, scoop out with a spoon and enjoy alone, or slice it into desserts, salads, or side dishes. Kiwifruit can also have a mild laxative effect due to their high fiber content.

5. Quinoa is now readily available in many supermarkets and is one of the best whole grains you can eat, according to Zied. "It is an ancient grain, easy to make, interesting, high in protein (8 grams in 1 cup cooked), fiber (5 grams per cup) and a naturally good source of iron," she says. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) also has plenty of zinc, vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes, she says. Quinoa is as easy to prepare as rice and can be eaten alone or mixed with vegetables, nuts, or lean protein for a whole-grain medley. Try to make at least half your daily grain servings whole grains. In addition to quinoa, try barley, oats, buckwheat, whole wheat, wild rice, and millet.

6. Beans, beans, good for your heart -- really! Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, as well as soluble fiber, which fills you up and helps rid your body of waste. They're also a good, low-fat source of protein, carbohydrates, magnesium, and potassium. Bauer favors edamame (whole soybeans) because they also contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Beans can easily substitute for meat or poultry as the centerpiece of a meal, says Bauer, but they also work as a side dish, or tossed into soups, stews, or egg dishes. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 cups weekly.

7. Salmon is a super food because of its omega-3 fatty acid content. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help protect heart health. That's why the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon twice weekly. Salmon is low in calories (200 for 3 ounces) has lots of protein, is a good source of iron, and is very low in saturated fat. You can simply grill or bake it, top it with salsas or other low-fat sauces, or serve it on top of salad greens. If you don't like salmon, Lichtenstein recommends eating other kinds of fish, like canned tuna. And what about the mercury content? (Mercury is known to accumulate in fish.) "The benefits of eating salmon or other fatty fish twice weekly far outweigh any risks, but if you are concerned, check with your doctor," says Zied.

8. Broccoli is one of America's favorite vegetables because it tastes good and is available all year long. It's a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and bone-building vitamin K, and has plenty of fiber to fill you up and help control your weight. "Some people think beta-carotene (vitamin A) is only found in orange and yellow vegetables, but broccoli is an excellent source," says Ward. You can eat broccoli raw, lightly steamed, stir-fried, roasted, or grilled. Eat it as a side dish, or toss into grains, egg dishes, soups, and salads.

9. Sweet potatoes are a delicious member of the dark orange vegetable family, which lead the pack in vitamin A content. Substitute a baked sweet potato (also loaded with vitamin C, calcium, and potassium) for a baked white potato. And before you add butter or sugar, taste the sweetness that develops when a sweet potato is cooked -- and think of all the calories you can save over that loaded baked potato. "If we eat more foods like sweet potatoes that are rich sources of potassium, and fewer high-sodium foods, we can blunt the effect of sodium on blood pressure and reduce bone loss," says Zied. Other dark orange vegetable standouts include pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, and orange bell peppers.

10. Berries pack an incredible amount of nutritional goodness into a small package. They're loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. And their flavors satisfy sweets cravings for a fraction of the calories in baked goods. Blueberries lead the pack because they are among the best source of antioxidants and are widely available. Cranberries are also widely available fresh, frozen, or dried. All can add flavor and nutrition to numerous dishes, from salads and cereals to baked goods and yogurt.

WEB MD - source

Every year depending on the popular flavor of the month / year so to speak the top 10 list changes. Just like sometimes you read coffee is bad for you, month later you will read it is now good for you. One minute they tell you to eat margarine in stead of butter and then they switch back and margarine is out and butter is in. My advice is to try to incorporate as many of the above foods as you can. They are all healthy with great benefits for your body.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SWEETLIPS 1/2/2012 11:20AM

    Glad you are feeling better. Thank you so much for thr goodies from the team and you. Here's to 2012!!

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SEASONS_CHANGE 1/1/2012 7:08PM

    Thanks for posting this. I read somewhere last week that those steamer bags of veggies are actually not as good as just steaming them in a regular steamer. Apparently, the microwave kills a lot of the nutrients. I have a freezer full of veggie steamers that I plan on opening up and just steaming them the old fashion way.

Happy New Year Yvonne!

and keep on blogging, love your info!


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LGAR519 1/1/2012 4:24PM

    Are you sure that broccoli tastes good!?!?

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TEDYBEAR2838 1/1/2012 1:45PM

    I love just about every one and include most of them in my weekly eating.




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L*I*T*A* 1/1/2012 1:00PM

    emoticon emoticon

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GLAMNGLOWDIVA 1/1/2012 12:16PM

    This is a great list to follow Yvonne! Thanks for posting it. I'm loving your healthy ideas here.

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    Excellent list. I've never eaten Quinoa but am willing to give it a try. All the rest I already enjoy & eat. Happy New Year my friend. Love, Dawn emoticon emoticon

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Travelnista's Seventh Day of Christmas

Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - a good night's sleep

People naturally want to sleep a little bit more during the winter. But with all we have going on, sometimes sleep is the first thing to go. With a little time management, and some self-discipline, you easily meet your sleep quota needs. Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent. That way, your sleeping patterns can normalize and you’ll have more energy. Try not to oversleep—those 12-hour snoozes on the weekend can actually make you MORE tired.

Don’t under estimate a nap. A short (10-30 minute) afternoon nap may be all you need to re-energize midday. These are called power naps, and yes even the big executives do this. How do you think they stay on top of their game?

Straight from Spark’s Healthy Reflections

Giving your body and mind a break

“For 16 hours a day, you drive your body hard. You put pressure on joints for hours on end, you expose it to who knows what kinds of germs and bacteria, you put it under major strain and stress, you demand everything it can do and some things that it can't. Let your body have the other 8 hours to itself. It's earned it. After a long day, your body needs to heal and recover. Let your muscles and joints take a break. Your immune system needs strengthened and cannot always be stretched to its limits. Your body has a way of letting you know when it's not getting the rest it needs--it wears down and feels fatigued. And eventually it breaks down. So do everything you can to pay your body back by getting a good dose of sleep. It will love you for it. “

There are so many different things that factor in to your quality of sleep. I find I am sleeping so much better now that I am following a new healthy lifestyle. “Behaving” definitely has had its rewards for me as I used to be a terrible sleeper. So just how do you manage to get the sleep you need?

How Air Temperature Affects Your Sleep?

Pay close attention to your bedroom temperature. Experts agree the temperature of your sleeping area and how comfortable you feel in it affect how well and how long you snooze. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature -- the temperature your brain is trying to achieve -- goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, who wrote a chapter on temperature and sleep for a medical textbook. “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too cold or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point.

That mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Generally, Heller says, “if you are in a cooler [rather than too-warm] room, it is easier for that to happen.” But if the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up, says Ralph Downey III, PhD, chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University and one of the specialists treating Roy.

He explains that the comfort level of your bedroom temperature also especially affects the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage in which you dream.

What’s the Best Temperature for Sleeping?

Recommending a specific range is difficult. While a typical recommendation is to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Heller advises setting the temperature at a comfortable level, whatever that means to the sleeper.

There are other strategies for creating ideal sleeping conditions, too. Experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, for instance, advise thinking of a bedroom as a cave: It should cool, quiet, and dark. Be wary of memory foam pillows, which feel good because they conform closely to your body shape -- but may make you too hot. And put socks on your feet, as cold feet, in particular, can be very disruptive to sleep.

The following are other suggestions to help you get the sleep you need?

Stick to a schedule.
Sticking to a schedule allows your body to set its internal rhythm so you can get up at the time you want, consistently, every single day. Also, make sure you try to keep the same schedule on weekends too, otherwise the next morning; you’d wake later and feel overly tired.

It’s actually known to help you sleep better. Your body uses the sleep
period to recover its muscles and joints that have been exercised. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise every day can help you sleep, but be sure to exercise in the morning or afternoon. Exercise stimulates the body and aerobic activity before bedtime may make falling asleep more difficult.

Taking a hot shower or bath before bed helps bring on sleep because it can relax tense muscles.

Avoid eating just before bed. Give yourself at least 2 hours from when you eat to when you sleep. This allows for digestion to happen (or at least start) well before you go to sleep so your body can rest well during the night, rather than churning away your food.

Avoid caffeine. It keeps you awake and that’s now what you want for a good nights sleep.

Sleep in silence. Sleeping with no music or TV on is more easy and restful. Sleep with no distractions is best for a clearer mind.

Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It’s a depressant; although it may make it easier to fall asleep, it causes you to wake up during the night. As alcohol is digested your body goes into withdrawal from the alcohol, causing nighttime awakenings and often nightmares for some people.

Catch some Zzzz’s, it really does a body good! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEASONS_CHANGE 1/1/2012 7:26PM

    Hmmmm, I didn't know about the alcohol thing. Very useful info

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    As you can tell, I am NOT getting a good night's sleep. I went to bed around 2:30 and here I am up at 5. Potty break, but still... I need to be sleeping. I am going to definitely work on getting 8 hrs of good sleep nightly this year. It's a part of my goals for 2012. Happy New Year. Love, Dawn emoticon emoticon

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    I guess I'm failing in that one right now since it's the middle of the night. I must work on that one.

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ASHLEEWEBART 1/1/2012 2:14AM

    Sleep is what I need so much to make my life work. It is encouraging to read your writings because I need to be reminded that I do not have to be a night owl! It is so easy for me to stay up a night, and then for days have my sleep pattern re-arranged.

I can get back on track, but it does take some real effort and planning.

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ORGANIC811LFRV 12/31/2011 8:04PM

    I can sure agree that sleep is an important part to a healthy lifestyle. I go to bed early, I wake up early. Normally I do get 8 hours a day.

Thanks for the wonderful write up and reminder.

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DARA52 12/31/2011 6:35PM

    This is so true. And the only part of being healthy that I have not had a problem with. Thank goodness. Sleep deprivation and I do not do well together. I believe that was the reason for my post partum with the first baby. So important to get plent of sleep. Love your blogs. Missed them and will spend some time going back in time to read the info I missed. Have a wonderful New Year!!!

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LGAR519 12/31/2011 3:57PM

    Sleep, or lack thereof, has always been a problem. I had insomnia when I was young. When I worked, it was evenings or nights. And when I moved back home, I worked the day shift. Now my cats don't need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. And They think I don't either. Hubby sleeps when watching TV and is awake all night. I don't know the answer. Hope you can figure out your sleep schedule!

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L*I*T*A* 12/31/2011 2:04PM


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Travelnista's Sixth Day of Christmas

Friday, December 30, 2011

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - exercise

I know I don't like it either but we have to do it. Try to find something that you will enjoy and be able to incorporate into a lifetime of good habits. My exercise of choice is water aerobics. I love music and I love dance so it is a perfect fit for me. It also is very appealing because what ever you do as exercise in the water equates to 1.5 times of a workout compared to a workout done on land. You may ask why is that, is because you are lifting water as you move.

We women can do it all, but we need to start taking time for ourselves first. Don't confuse the quality and quantity of your time. They simply aren't the same things. Focus on the impact that your time does have, and give yourself the same attention you'd give someone else you love. You can make time for both your family and you and your family will not suffer.

Exercise does not need to be expensive to accomplish. Walking or running for that matter is free. You can do it almost anywhere and anytime. You can walk in almost any type of weather. You have the great outdoors when it is nice out and when it is cold, icy, or rainy there are many Shopping Malls that offer their mall to what are called Mall Walkers. They give them access to the inside of the mall before business hours. It is safe because there is security courtesy of the mall, it is warm, dry, and a flat surface. In the summer when it is too hot to walk outside, it is air conditioned. Should your local mall not offer it you can always walk laps around the mall during business hours – just don’t count this as exercise as you are shopping. You need to be walking at a pace brisk enough and long enough to get all of that oxygen and blood flowing into your body. Walking helps to ensure a healthy heart, reduces stress, and gives your mind a boost. Lose yourself while you walk (just make sure you are not on a major roadway doing this) Meditate or work out your problems while you walk. It is just you and your brain out there, work them both – I choose the meditation route myself, but there are times when I have worked through some issues that have been pressing on my mind.

We are lucky here at SparkPeople because we have access to so many free exercise videos. You can tailor yourself a whole workout routine courtesy of SparkPeople. The TV is another great source of free exercise. There are so many exercise classes on TV today. You have all different levels of aerobic workouts, belly dancing, yoga, senior or chair exercising classes, and so many more. Youtube is another great source for free exercising videos.

There are many different kinds of exercise equipment you can buy at relatively inexpensive prices such as jump ropes, free weights, resistance bands or balance balls. You can use heavy canned goods weights or empty jugs filled with water or sand if you don’t want to spend the money. Towels can act as resistance bands in some cases and your broomstick handles can offer some assistance in others.

Here is a simple exercise anyone can do and is perfect with those with disabilities or who feel they are too heavy to start an exercise plan right now. If this is done properly it can be counted as an aerobic exercise. Anything done for 20+ minutes and your body is "in oxygen" is considered an aerobic exercise. Trust me if you are doing this correctly you will know it. Your abs will get quite the workout and they will be killing you the next day till your body gets used to it. I sometimes feel as if my belly button is touching my spinal cord when I breathe deep enough. What is this exercise - Deep Breathing

Breathing Awareness and Deep Breathing

1. Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair, maintaining good posture. Your body should be as relaxed as possible. Close your eyes. Scan your body for tension.
2. Pay attention to your breathing. Place one hand on the part of your chest or abdomen that seems to rise and fall the most with each breath. If this spot is in your chest you are not utilizing the lower part of your lungs.
3. Place both hands on your abdomen and follow your breathing, noticing how your abdomen rises and falls.
4. Breathe through your nose.
5. Notice if your chest is moving in harmony with your abdomen.
6. Now place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest.
7. Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose into your abdomen. You should feel your abdomen rise with this inhalation and your chest should move only a little.
8. Exhale through your mouth, keeping your mouth, tongue, and jaw relaxed.
9. Relax as you focus on the sound and feeling of long, slow, deep breaths.

Complete Natural Breathing

1. Sit or stand with good posture.
2. Breathe through your nose.
3. Inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs then the middle part, then the upper part.
4. Hold your breath for a few seconds.
5. Exhale slowly. Relax your abdomen and chest.

(Taken from Davis, Eshelman, and McKay; The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, 2nd edition; New Harbringer Publications, 1982.)

Strength training is a must for all of us, no matter how young or old we are. I personally believe that it becomes more important as we age. We all know in our "golden years" we tend to do things less physical. We all need to strength train to prevent future accidents down the road due to muscle loss, bone mass, and overall strength.

Here is an excerpt straight from SparkPeople:

So what’s the point? If you’ve never participated in a strength training program, why start now? Here are some very important reasons strength training makes a difference in your quality of life:

Improves your ability to do everyday activities: The stronger your muscles, the easier it is to get groceries out of the car, get a package off of the top cabinet shelf, push the lawnmower…..the list goes on and on!

Improves your balance and stability: The stronger and more resilient your muscles, the more balance is sturdier. This will help keep you safe in your daily activities and decreases the risk of falls or accidents.

Builds muscle strength: Adults lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade after age 20. Strength training will help prevent this muscle loss, and rebuild what you may have lost.

Decreases your risk of osteoporosis: Inactivity and aging can lead to a decrease in bone density, leading to brittleness. Studies have shown that consistent strength training can increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.

Reduces blood pressure: Strength training can be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure by strengthening the heart, allowing it to beat more efficiently.
Increases calorie burn: Strength training increases the body's metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories throughout the day. This aids significantly in long term weight loss.

Reduces low back pain: Research has shown that strength training can increase low back strength and alleviate low back pain.

Here is the link if you want to read the entire article:

Go ahead, get some exercise into your daily routine - it does a body good. “When you feel good physically, you feel better emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.” Maria Shriver

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEASONS_CHANGE 1/1/2012 7:40PM

    Another great blog... I never thought about walking around the mall. Being so cold here, that's a very good idea.

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GLAMNGLOWDIVA 12/31/2011 12:55AM

    There's some good techniques in there. I know I can use some more exercise time.

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ERIN1957 12/30/2011 7:17PM

    I need this so bad. I am a non exerciser and do walk and swim once in awhile.I need consistant behavior on this. Thanks!
I will change this!

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DAWNWATERWOMAN 12/30/2011 6:19PM

    I love exercise! thanks for sharing this blog. together we're going to reach our goals.

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LGAR519 12/30/2011 4:43PM

    I walk 6 days a week. I don't even think about it. I just get out of bed and go for a walk. If the weather is really bad, I work out with a Leslie Sansone DVD. 3 days a week I do curls with my hand weights. One of my friends taught me how to do ab crunches while I walk. I really need to try more but have several physical disabilities.

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BE-THE-CHANGE 12/30/2011 11:09AM

    Great blog!

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L*I*T*A* 12/30/2011 11:05AM


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DS9KIE 12/30/2011 11:04AM

    can't say that I like exercising but I like how I feel afterwards so now I can't imagine not doing exercise everyday.

Rather its a little or alot just got to do some exercise.

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SHEILA8383 12/30/2011 10:49AM

    Thanks once again for the great blog. I need to focus more on exercise especially strength training.

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Travelnista's Fifth Day of Christmas

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the Fifth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - no more diets for me

If there is one thing we can all learn on SparkPeople is that diets do not work. Diet is a four letter word. Diets fail - we will no fail. Why, because we are all going to do this together. It should be the mantra of SparkPeople.

We all want to be successful and we want this as a lifetime change. The yo-yo dieting stops here. We have to find a healthy eating plan that works for each one of us. It has to be something that we can live with for the rest of our lives. Do not make the mistake of looking for the quick fix - STEP AWAY FROM THE FAD DIETS! SparkPeople does not promote any one dieting plan other than it be sensible. You can not live on a liquid diet for the rest of your life, you can not live on a popular diet out there right now that I will not even name to give anyone any crazy ideas that is a diet of 500 calories or less, or any of the other dangerous fad diets out there. You should not be eating less than 1200 calories a day - EVER! Please use your Nutrition Tracker here on SparkPeople and enter in your information such as current weight and exercise routine. The Nutrition Tracker will calculate for you exactly what your calorie range should be. You can tweak these numbers as you lose weight on your Nutrition Tracker by editing the information.

I will tell you what has worked for me. I eat a whole food diet,staying away from preservatives, including but not limited to artificial sweeteners, staying away from pre-packaged foods unless it is preservative free (they are out there in your freezer section or even on the shelves in health food stores and even some grocery stores today, and I am following a Vegetarian diet. I will occasionally eat fish, feta cheese, raw cheeses, and yes on occasion I will have a rare steak. I never said I was perfect. I eat predominately fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, bulgar, and others, nuts and seeds. I have lost 64 pounds since the middle of June because I screwed around the 1st 3 weeks on SparkPeople and gained weight. I told you I wasn't perfect. More importantly in 3 months I dropped my sugar from an 8.1 to 6.1. I went from a high of 307 ish I can't remember (although I have been in the 400's but not during those 3 months) to an 86. Most days I am in the 90's. I hope to be off my Diabetes meds soon.

I am not saying that you have to go Vegetarian but I will say we all need to start eating more veggies. There are many reasons to do so as you will read below. Veggies are our friends.

"We need to scarf down plenty of calories in a day, but if you've got a nasty snack habit that's tipping the scales to heavy, weblog Bootstrapper's list of 15 foods that burn more calories than they contain might be the perfect addition to your grocery list. Called negative calorie foods, the following 15 treats actual burn more calories in their digestion than they offer, so you can fulfill your snack craving without the guilt of a bag of potato chips. From apples to zucchini, these foods make the perfect snacks. "

Don’t under estimate the power of fruits and veggies. There are some fruits and veggies that treats actually burn more calories in their digestion than they offer, so you can fulfill your snack craving without the guilt of a bag of potato chips. Why do you think that many diet programs like Weight Watchers, etc have so many free foods on their programs? From apples to zucchini, these foods make the perfect snacks: Celery , Oranges, Strawberries, Tangerines, Grapefruit, Carrots, Apricots, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Watermelon, Cauliflower , Apples, Hot Chili Peppers, and Zucchini

Please note - you still have to enter these as calories in your Nutrition Tracker because they do equal calories in. They just equal more calories out than most foods. You will burn more by eating these foods.

Below you will find a list of the 33 Healthiest Foods courtesy of David Murdock

Pineapple Speeds post-surgery Promotes joint health Reduces asthma inflammation

Blueberries Restore antioxidant levels Reverse age-related brain decline Prevent urinary tract infection

Spinach Helps maintain mental sharpness Reduces the risk of cancers of the
liver, ovaries, colon and prostate

Red Bell Pepper Reduces risk of lung, prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer
Protects against sunburn Promotes heart health

Broccoli Reduces diabetic damage Lowers risk of prostate, bladder,
colon, pancreatic, gastric and breast cancer
Protects the brain in event of injury

Tomato Reduces inflammation Lowers risk of developing esophageal,
stomach, colorectal, lung and pancreatic cancer Reduces cardiovascular disease risk

Apple Supports immunity Fights lung and prostate cancer
Lowers Alzheimer’s risk

Artichoke Helps blood clotting Antioxidant Superfood
Lowers “bad” cholesterol

Arugula Lowers birth defect risk Reduces fracture risk Protects eye

Asparagus Nourishes good gut bacteria Protects against birth defects
Promotes heart health

Avocado Limits liver damage Reduces oral cancer risk
Lowers cholesterol levels

Blackberries Build bone density Suppress appetite Enhance fat burning

Butternut Squash Supports night vision Combats wrinkles Promotes heart health

Cantaloupe Bolsters immunity Protects skin against sunburn

Reduces inflammation

Carrot Antioxidants defend DNA Fights cataracts
Protects against some cancers

Cauliflower Stimulates detoxification Suppresses breast cancer cell
growth Defends against prostate cancer

Cherries Alleviate arthritic pain and gout Lower “bad” cholesterol
Reduce inflammation

Cranberries Alleviate prostate pain Fight lung, colon and leukemia
cancer cells Prevent urinary tract infection

Green Cabbage Promotes healthy blood clotting Reduces risk of prostate, colon,
breast and ovarian cancers Activates the body’s natural
detoxification systems

Kale Counters harmful estrogens that can feed cancer Protects eyes
against sun damage and cataracts Increases bone density

Kiwi Combats wrinkles Lowers blood clot risk and reduces blood lipids
Counters constipation

Mango Supports immunity Lowers “bad” cholesterol
Regulates homocysteine to protect arteries

Mushrooms Promote natural detoxification Reduce the risk of colon and
prostate cancer Lower blood pressure

Orange Reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol Lowers risk of cancers
of the mouth, throat, breast and stomach, and childhood leukemia
Pectin suppresses appetite

Papaya Enzymes aid digestion Reduces risk of lung cancer
Enhances fat burning

Plums & Prunes Counter constipation Antioxidants defend against DNA
damage Protects against post-menopausal bone loss

Pomegranate Enhances sunscreen protection Lowers “bad” cholesterol
Fights prostate cancer

Pumpkin Protects joints against polyarthritis Lowers lung and
prostate cancer risk Reduces inflammation

Raspberries Inhibit growth of oral, breast, colon and prostate cancers
Antioxidant DNA defense Lower “bad” cholesterol levels

Strawberries Protect against Alzheimer’s Reduce “bad” cholesterol
Suppress growth of colon, prostate and oral cancer

Sweet Potato Reduces stroke risk Lowers cancer risk
Protect against blindness

Watermelon Supports male fertility Reduces risk of several cancers: prostate, ovarian, cervical, oral and pharyngeal Protects skin against sunburn

Banana Increases Fat Burning Lowers risk of colorectal and kidney cancer, leukemia Reduces asthma symptoms in children

Rather long winded but the point is we need to develop a healthy lifestyle. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet. We need to follow a healthy food plan we can stick with for the rest of our life. Isn't that why you joined SparkPeople to live a longer and a better quality of life? Diets fail but we won't!

PS: I apologize I spent over an hour trying to line the fruits and veggies up in columns so it would make reading easier and it did not work, I wasted so much time, I know better for the next time. Sorry for the difficult read on each line. I tried! emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:



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OLDERDANDRT 12/30/2011 10:26AM

    I think you did a great job with presenting this info! Thanks you so much for compliling it! It's a great reference for us! emoticon

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TRACYZABELLE 12/30/2011 5:57AM

    What an awesome list-- thank you

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DS9KIE 12/29/2011 10:41PM

    you did a great job, and I can read it fine..thanks for the hard work you did.

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ORGANIC811LFRV 12/29/2011 9:32PM

    I bookmarked this blog for the wonderful listing that you took so much time to try to line up perfectly. We know we aren't perfect. When people care, like you do, imperfection isn't noticed.

Thanks for the blog. Inspiring as usual.

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DAWNWATERWOMAN 12/29/2011 8:20PM

    thanks for the post honey. I am grateful for it. If I have not told you, I really love the new profile picture. Love you, Dawn emoticon emoticon

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SEASONS_CHANGE 12/29/2011 7:05PM

    Thanks for posting this... no more diets indeed... more of a lifestyle change and knowing which foods are naughty and nice...

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TEDYBEAR2838 12/29/2011 5:43PM

    Definitely good info. I LOVE FRUITS!


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BD3269PM 12/29/2011 2:50PM

    columns do not matter. Thanks for the info We can do this!! Happy New Year emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 12/29/2011 2:39PM

    great sharing.....
blessings and hugs...............lita

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LGAR519 12/29/2011 2:29PM

    Great blog! Especially about the fruit.

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GLAMNGLOWDIVA 12/29/2011 1:32PM

    So much good info there Yvonne. More and more veggies for me.

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SHEILA8383 12/29/2011 11:25AM

    Yvonne thank you for all of the good information. I needed the reminder about the fruits and vegetables as it is easy to avoid them this time of year.

Wishing you and everyone on SP a wonderful healthy new year.


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