Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I have been reading a lot about ways to help us live longer. In fact, when I read any newspaper or magazine, my eyes tend to gravitate toward those kinds of stories. Too bad I didnít focus on that when I was a teenager. Then, I mostly read comics, if I even did any leisure reading at all. Now, health and nutrition matters make up the bulk of the things I read.
When I think of the many different things I read, there are some basic things we can do to prolong our lives. There are probably dozens of things I could recommend; however, here are a few of the basic ones that should be easy for everyone to do:
First, get plenty of exercise. The ideal is 3-5 days of rigorous exercise of at least 30 minutes; however, it doesnít need to be so regimented. Even moderate exercise, such as walking or riding your bicycle or taking the stairs rather than the elevator, can have profound effects on your life. Seize any opportunity you have to be more active.
Second, reduce (or preferably, eliminate) meat from your diet. On average, people who maintain a meatless diet tend to live about 20% longer than those who do eat meat. Whether you want to avoid just red meats, all animal products, or anywhere in between, reducing the amount of meat and meat products can have many positive health benefits.
Third, make sure your plate is colorful. The food pyramid is a guide to help encourage people to maintain variety in their diet. Consuming foods from several of the different food groups (mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans) provide an added nutritional bonus. The more variety you have within these parameters, the better off you are. If your plate looks like a rainbow or the color spectrum, youíre good to go.
Fourth, get lots of sleep. There is no magical answer for the amount of sleep that every should get. The optimal amount of sleep needed for the average adult is about 7.5 hours of sleep per night. If you arenít getting that much, join the club. Many people get only about 4.5 hours. But if you want to improve the quality of your life and health, try to get a little more sleep at night.
Finally, keep tabs on your stress. It is impossible to live completely stress-free. But, the important thing is in how you cope with it when it happens to you. How are you channeling your stress? Do you absorb it, or do you allow it to eat you up, leaving a knot in your stomach? If it is the latter, find more productive ways of dealing with your stress. Handled properly, the stress in your life can roll away from you like water off of a duckís back and leave no residual effect.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Oftentimes, people restrict all of the things that I like to call the ďsin foodsĒ when they are on a diet. These include the cheese cake, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies, candy bar, and all the other things that we all like from time to time. Generally, thatís a good idea. Most people who want to lose weight wonít do so by a diet rich in these things. There must be a sacrifice and limiting how much of them we eat is key to sustaining any measurable weight loss.
But times may come when you want to indulge in such pleasures. If you know you have a fondness for some type of chocolate delight, then thatís okay. Rather than giving in to your cravings and over indulging, plan for those calories in your daily plan. Every day for every meal, you should be planning for the things you eat to ensure you get in enough fruits and vegetables and are not taking in too many calories.
Determine how many calories are in everything you want to eat, and factor that into your daily caloric intake. A modest-sized piece of chocolate cake Ė about three ounces Ė is about 350 calories. The same amount of sweet potato pie is about the same. Having one serving Ė or if you want to be frugal with your calories, have a size smaller than a single serving Ė isnít a bad thing if you plan for it. Once you determine the number of calories you need to have on a daily basis, you can organize your menu to make sure you eat the things you need and want.
Many people claim they can't plan their meals so specifically because they are just too busy with work or school or their kids or their many other responsibilities. But I know that it can definitely be done with only a little effort. Just like everything else going on in your life YOU are important too, and you need to take some time to be mindful of your own diet, health, and nutrition.
A little planning goes a long way, and once you get into the habit of doing it, youíll wonder why you didnít plan your meals sooner and more often.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
If a storm came through and knocked out your electricity, do you have a back-up plan? If not, then you should develop one before the storm hits. If you are accustomed to planning your meals as I am, it is much more difficult to find things to eat on the spur of the moment. Given that this time of year is the middle of hurricane season and there is the potential for there to be, at a minimum, power outages for long periods of time. Here are a few key things to help you if your power goes out:
* If you donít already have one, invest in a manual can opener. A nice one will cost you about ten bucks. But you can also find a decent one at the dollar store. This will be very handy when there is no electricity.
* When storms threaten a community, the water supply could be compromised. It is advisable to keep some bottled water on hand solely for emergencies. If you have pets, keep enough water for them too.
* Keep some extra batteries on hand for a radio and flashlight. If you have medical needs that require equipment, be sure you have batteries for that as well. If your smoke detector runs on electricity without a battery back-up, consider investing in a second one that runs on batteries. You may want to consider investing in a generator. The prices vary and depending on the kind you get, which range in price from around $100 on up, a generator can provide you with several hours of auxiliary power.
* If the only phone in your home is a cordless phone, a loss of power will mean a loss in telephone service. If you also have a mobile phone, it will continue to work only for as long as the battery lasts. Restrict the use of your mobile phone to those that are essential for the duration of the power outage.
* If you are able, contact a friend or relative to let them know you are without electricity so they can check up on you if you are MIA for a long time.
The problem wonít last forever. Hopefully these tips can help make things a little more bearable until the power is restored.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Here are some easy-to-follow tips to help guide you with your weight loss goals. I spent some time thinking of the most important things people need to know and I came up with five. I could probably come up with dozens of tips to help you. But I wanted to give you something as succinct as possible, so I limited it to five. I could preface each one with the statement, ďThis is the most important thing,Ē as each tip is so very important. Be sure to see your doctor before beginning any program that makes changes to your diet or amount of physical activity.
Tip #1: Exercise Ė Exercise is a crucial component to sustainable weight loss. You have to get the body moving. The physical activity will elevate your heart rate, which in turn helps boosts your metabolism and will burn fat. Some people who are overweight tell me they cannot exercise because it causes too much trauma to their legs and ankles. To them, I say that only a small percentage of people are unable to do any exercise, an abysmally small number. Most people are able to do some measure of exercise. Your exercise does not need to be what I like to call the double Rs: regimented or rigorous. The only requirement is that it be a consistent and regular part of your routine. If you are unable to stand for long periods of time, then do your exercises sitting down. You can sit on a chair and lift your left leg ten times or 5 times. Then switch to your right leg. Eventually increase it to 15 repetitions, then 20 working your way up to 25 or 30. You can also get some five pound dumbbells and do some arm lifts from a seated position. With some creativity, you can devise a number of activities you can perform from a seated position. Donít let your large size be an excuse not to exercise. Get moving.
Tip #2: Drink Water Ė Water is necessary to keep the bodyís organs cleansed. Cleansed organs help to ensure they are properly functioning, and properly functioning organs can be an important catalyst toward your weight loss goals. Some people think they donít need to have water because they have other beverages, such as tea or juice or soda; there has even been a lot of debate about whether those other beverages being adequate enough and that maybe you really do not need water. While these other beverages will help to keep your body hydrated, they may not necessarily be helping to cleanse your body of toxins the way water does. I donít wish to spend much time debating this; water is necessary for the body and I recommend you get plenty of it. Most experts suggest approximately 8 glasses (8 ounces each) of water per day. Thatís just a ball park amount. If you exercise, your body will lose water and it must be replaced, over and above the 8 ounces you should be drinking. I know that some people just cannot stomach plain water; however, I challenge you to stretch yourself. Any change, particularly one that involves health and nutrition, requires a sacrifice. Make a commitment to make that sacrifice and drink more water. If you cannot get in your 8 ounces ever day, work up to it. Make that your goal.
Tip #3: Donít Get Too Many Calories Ė If you take in more calories than you burn up, you wonít lose weight. It wonít matter whether you follow Weight Watchers, Adkins, Slimfast, Jenny Craig, South Beach, your Aunt Sallyís, or whatever program you choose to follow. If your calories are too high and you are not doing anything to burn them up, those pounds will linger on.
Tip #4: Donít Be A Slave To The Scale Ė The scale is an excellent measure of your weight loss progress; however, it is not the only measure. For many people who start a weight loss program, the pounds often fall off in the beginning. Then they reach a point at which the number on that scale wonít move. Thatís when many people get discouraged and give up. But thatís just when you should stick with the program just as diligently. Look at other things to measure how youíre doing. How do you look in the mirror? How does your shirt or jacket fit around your arms? Do your pants still fit the same or what about the hole in your belt? Do your friends or co-workers ask you, ďAre you losing weight?Ē especially at times when you feel like youíre just as big as you had been? These are examples of other ways to help measure your progress. Let the scale just be one of many things you use.
Tip #5: Get Enough Calories Ė Okay, before anybody jumps on me, I know this sort of contradicts with Tip #3. But the mistake people often make is they nearly starve themselves. They cut their calories too much. When you donít eat enough, your body goes into salvation mode; it thinks youíre dying due to malnutrition and hangs on to every little morsel that passes those lips. There are many tools that you can use to help determine your bodyís calorie needs. One that I like is at: www.ahealthyme.com/topic/calneed But you may use any one that you like to guide you. Bear in mind that these online tools are meant to be used as a guide. The results may be different from one person to the next. But you should get a general idea of your bodyís calorie needs to ensure you are not getting to many (or too few).
Bonus Tip: It was difficult limiting these tips to just five so I wanted to through in this bonus tip. Keep a food journal. Write it all down and monitor what you eat daily. Whether you use pen and paper, a PDA, the Sparkpeople journal, or some other tool, track the food youíre eating. You may think youíll remember, but donít fool yourself. Youíd be surprised at how quickly you forget. Keeping a log of what youíre eating helps you remember, especially if you are not making the progress you were hoping for.
There are plenty other things that you can do to aid you in your weight loss journey. But I identified those tips that I believe to be the most important. So, set your plan in motion, and get busy with shedding those pounds. There is not day better than the present to get in shape and improve your health.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
If youíre like most people who have been on a steady fitness routine, you feel motivated and inspired every time you go for a walk or get up on your treadmill. You probably get a huge emotional rush just thinking about it. But how do you feel when you sustain an injury and your workout regime is put on hold? That can be very frustrating. Many people wonder whether they can still exercise, even with the injury. These tips should help you make the right decision.
First, all injuries beyond your typical muscle soreness should be evaluated by a physician. You want to make sure there arenít any major problems with joints, tissues, or ligaments.
Second, if there is pain, donít exercise. This is one instance where the ďno pain no gainĒ principle does not apply. If there is any pain, give it a rest.
Third, be sure you do not exercise the areas that were injured. You need to give the injured area time to heal. You can work on other areas unaffected by the injury. If you hurt your knee or ankle, donít get on the treadmill. Pick up some dumbbells and do some curls. Also, even if you canít put any pressure on your leg, you may still be able to go a few rounds on a recumbent bicycle. Even if you canít do what youíre used to, like playing tennis or running, the bicycle is an excellent way to get in your cardio because it is low impact. Another low impact exercise is swimming.
Finally, pay attention to your body. You donít want to do additional damage to an injury. The instant you feel pain or discomfort around the injured body part, stop what youíre doing immediately. The instant you feel pain or discomfort around the injured body part, stop what youíre doing immediately. No, that wasnít a typo. That point was so important that it was repeated. Too many people cause further injury by continuing an activity even when they feel pain. Until the injury fully heals, donít take any chances. If you arenít sure what exercises you can safely do with the injured body part, ask your doctor. At risk of sounding too clichť, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure any day.
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