Healthy Living A to Z: K

Kick [Your Bad Habits!]

We all have a bad habit (or a few) that we have tried over and over again to kick. Whether it be smoking, overeating, nail-biting, binge watching a TV show, or a caffeine addiction, these actions that have become habits can be hard to kick. So what’s the trick? Here are some helpful tips to try and kick your bad habits once and for all!

  1. Pinpoint WHEN and WHY you are doing it. When we take the time to think about and analyze our habits, we can usually find an underlying reason, whether it be boredom or stress. For instance, overeating may occur when you are home alone or nail-biting may occur when you are placed in a stressful situation. By realizing what triggers these certain behaviors, we can begin to take the appropriate steps to find a strategy to change our unhealthy patterns.
  1. Don’t eliminate your bad habit, REPLACE it. In order to successfully kick a bad habit, we often need to replace it with a new habit. Something needs to take the place of the old habit to help us maintain focus. We can replace bad habits with other actions such as meditating or exercising. When replacing a bad habit with a positive one, we are more likely to kick the bad habit for good.
  1. Don’t try and suppress your thoughts. Often when we try not to think about something, it leads to only thinking about that one thing. This can also occur when trying not to think about the bad habit we are attempting to kick. We try and suppress our thoughts about the particular action, which only leads to having more, stronger thoughts about the action instead. Recognize your thoughts and deal with them head on, do not try to continuously ignore them or you will only be setting yourself up for the thoughts to come back even stronger than before!
  1. Reward yourself! Be sure to acknowledge and reward yourself for the steps you take to kick your bad habit, even if they are baby steps. Every step you take to kick your bad habit will help better your future. Keep sight of your goal, keep going, and remember to reward yourself in a positive way every now and then for the progress you have made!

If you are currently trying to or want to start kicking a bad habit, hopefully these tricks and tips can help. Changing your unwanted habits can change your life!

Healthy Living A to Z: J

Joy

Finding the Joy in Fitness: When we make the intentional decision to approach exercise with a positive mindset, it is possible to find the joy in fitness. Fitness and exercise can sometimes be a dreaded activity, but thinking about the satisfaction you will gain after exercising can be the first step to motivating yourself. There are countless benefits that come as a result of engaging in exercise, whether it’s an hour a day, or a half hour a few times a week. However, wouldn’t exercise be much easier if we all found joy in doing it? Here are 10 ways you can work on pursuing the joy of fitness:

  1. Consider who you are doing this for. The answer needs to be you. Goals that are set only to please other people and not specifically set for yourself are unlikely to last long. You must do what you want for yourself and remember that it is OK to be selfish about your own body.
  2. It doesn’t have to be expensive. For many, cost can be one reason why they turn away from exercising. However, fortunately, there are many other options available that wont break the bank. To name a few, running, hiking, and dancing are all free. It is possible to get your body moving without spending a penny!
  3. Try something new. Sometimes getting into a rut of doing the same workout day in and day out can lead to getting bored with your exercise routine and eventually, quitting your exercise routine all together. Find an activity you have always wanted to try, and just go do it. It can put a spark back into working out when you mix things up every now and then!
  4. Address areas of pain. Always listen to your body when it is sore, stiff, or tired. Try to focus on those areas by strengthening and stretching. Taking the time to do so will get you back on the right track for a healthy lifestyle with less pain.
  5. Focus on actions over results. Many times we set goals that can only be obtained by losing a certain amount of inches or pounds. However, fitness and exercise is a process. Thus, you must think about the whole journey and set goals along the way. For example start small and focus on the baby steps that will lead to your final goal. This can be anything such as working out three days a week to eating a certain amount of fruits and vegetables everyday. It all plays a role in reaching your end goal.
  6. Make it personal. Think about exercise as “me” time. This is high quality time specifically for yourself. It is your time to take care of yourself.
  7. Stay positive. Everyone has slip-ups during their fitness journey. The key is to always forgive yourself, bounce back, and focus on what you have done and still can do. Always staying positive is the key to reaching your fitness goals.
  8. Be a child again. We have all watched children play in the park and run, jump, and climb over everything. Most of the time, we just stand there and wonder how they have so much energy? Now it is your turn to be a child. Run wild, go to a playground, jump on a trampoline, do anything that allows the feeling of fun to attach itself to the sensation of your body in motion.
  9. Find beauty in the ugliness. Heavy breathing, sweaty clothes, and burning muscles are not glamorous, but we must learn to love every part of exercising. Thinking about how the ugly parts will bring more health and happiness into your life can make pushing through workouts a little easier.
  10. Break the rules. This is your body and you make the rules. If something isn’t working for you, change it. Be flexible with yourself; set goals, but don’t let your goals control you.

Trying to find the joy in fitness can be a journey, but with a few tips in mind, hopefully you can work on finding your own joy in fitness!

 

For further tips, see: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/finding-joy-fitness

 

 

 

Healthy Living A to Z: I

Image

Developing and maintaining a healthy body image is crucial to living a healthy life. Body image is how we see ourselves when we look in the mirror or when we picture ourselves in our minds. This does not just include how you feel about your body, but how you feel IN your body. Feeling proud of your body and accepting the unique body you have can lead to a much more comfortable and confident life. While on the other hand, having a negative body image can cause individuals to feel ashamed, self, conscious, uncomfortable, and awkward in his or her own body.  Those who have a negative body image are more likely to develop eating disorders, as well as more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem. We must work towards learning how to overpower the negative thoughts and feelings by replacing those thoughts and feelings with positive, affirming, and accepting ones. Below are 10 steps to a positive body image:

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.
  2. Keep a top 10 list of things that you like about yourself. These things should not be related to how much you weigh or what you look like.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep…Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person; choose not to focus on specific body parts.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.
  6. Shut down the voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good about your body.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.
  9. Do something nice for yourself—something that lets your body know you appreciate it.
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food to help others.

This list cannot automatically tell you how to turn any negative thoughts into positive thoughts, but it can help you find new ways of living a healthier lifestyle with a more positive body image!

For more information on body image and the effects of a positive and negative body image, visit the following website: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-body-image

Healthy Living A to Z: H

Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right in this country. Everyone has their definition of what it is to them. For some it’s financial resources, others its the company of good friends. In reality, it’s often a combination of factors that lead to the least amount of stress in your life and elevate your mood. In order briefly cover this broad subject, let’s discuss some of these different factors and why some people value certain things over others.

  1. Money can buy happiness. Sometimes. Nearly 3/4 of Americans report finances as being a major stressor in their lives. Naturally, take away this stress, and become a happier person. However, money’s stress relieving powers caps off at $75,000 according to studies by Nobel laureate psychologist and economist Dr. Daniel Kahneman, after which, additional income has no effect on personal well-being.
  2. Relationships can be both beneficial and detrimental to ones mental health depending upon the dynamic. Think of the people you surround yourself with. Are you constantly competing with them, or are you on a team, cheering for one another to do their best. If you relate closer to the former, consider whether these people are worth having around. It’s always difficult to lose someone close to you, but you will find your happiness increasing with the cleanse of negativity that used to surround you.
  3. Age can greatly affect your happiness. People going through a “midlife crisis” have higher rates of depression and report more stress than any other age group. However, once you make it past mid-life, happiness goes back up, with people in their sixties and seventies reporting being just as happy as young people, according to a from the University of Warwick.

Healthy Living A to Z: G

Greens

Dark green leafy vegetables are great sources of nutrition. Salad greens, kale and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, and broccoli, bok choy and mustard are also rich in many of the B-vitamins. These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids—antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer. They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Furthermore, greens have very little carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol.

There are many ways to enjoy a meal with leafy greens:

Make a salad: Keep salads interesting by varying their colors, textures and varieties. Perk them up with small tender leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach and arugula mixed with different kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.
Wrap it up: Make a wrap with tuna, chicken or turkey and add romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, and other veggies for some extra flavor.
Add to soup: Add greens with larger, tougher leaves such as collard greens, kale or mustard greens into your favorite soup.
Stir-fry: Add chopped spinach, bok choy or broccoli to chicken or tofu stir-fried with olive or canola oil with some garlic, onion or ginger.
Steamed: Steaming collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach until they are slightly soft.
In an omelet: Add steamed broccoli and/or spinach to an egg-white omelet for a vitamin and iron rich meal.

http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=23199

Glutes

Everyone wants a healthy posterior chain. Whether that translates into “a nice butt” or a “faster sprint/better deadlift” for you, paying attention to your glutes’ strength and flexibility is an important factor of lower body health.

Any motion, from walking and climbing stairs to squatting to pick somthing up and biking require proper strength, coordination and endurance in the several muscles that make up your posterior: lumped together, these muscles are called your glutes (short for gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus).

Just like training your biceps of your shoulders, these muscles are targeted not only by big compound movements but also isolation and muscle specific lifts.

Here is a glute routine that you can either do on its own or you can sample some of the exercises and concepts to toss into your next leg day or full body workout.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/glute-workout-5-moves-to-a-better-butt.html

 

 

Healthy Living A to Z: F

Fish

Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits. White-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats. Since the human body can’t make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish is an important part of our diet. Also, fish is low in the “bad” fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids. A growing body of evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids provide a number of health benefits. They:

  • help maintain cardiovascular health by playing a role in the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction;
  • are important for prenatal and postnatal neurological development;
  • may reduce tissue inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis;
  • may play a beneficial role in cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), reducing depression and halting mental decline in older people.

The omega-3s found in fish (EPA and DHA) appear to provide the greatest health benefits. Fish that are high in omega-3s, low in environmental contaminants and eco-friendly include:

  • wild salmon from Alaska (fresh, frozen and canned),
  • Arctic char,
  • Atlantic mackerel,
  • sardines,
  • sablefish,
  • anchovies
  • farmed rainbow trout and
  • albacore tuna from the U.S. and Canada.

http://seafood.edf.org/benefits-eating-fish

Flexibility

Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and balance problems.

A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance — imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve — and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day. Activities such as yoga combine stretching and relaxation and also improve balance, a wonderful combination.

However, note that experts no longer recommend stretching before exercise. Newer recommendations suggest that you start your workout routine with a warm-up, such as an easy walk or a sport-specific routine, such as serving some tennis balls and practicing ground strokes before a match. This gets blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles. After five to 10 minutes of warm-up, your muscles are warm and supple. This is a good time to stretch. You can even do your flexibility exercises as a post-workout cool-down.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/benefits-of-flexibility-exercises

 

Healthy Living A to Z: E (A Thanksgiving Special!)

Eating Wise

How can we prevent putting on the pounds this holiday season?

  • Go for a walk in the morning and after dinner with the family. This will promote family bonding and physical activity!
  • Eat Breakfast!! Don’t “save” your calories for the big meal, you need a small high-protein breakfast to give you more control over your appetite later in the day. It’s never a good idea to skip a meal.
  • Pick and Choose. Yes, Thanksgiving is an exciting day for everyone, but you can have corn on the cob year round, right? It’s okay to pick and choose your food. Survey the buffet before filling your plate and decide what holiday exclusives you absolutely are dying to try.
  • Listen to your gut. Just because you had two plates last year, doesn’t mean you have to break that record this year. If you stomach is telling you no more, listen.
  • Eat slowly and savor your food. You will end up consuming less and avoiding the dreaded unbuttoning of the pants.
  • Lastly, spend time with your loved ones. It’s not just the food we have to be thankful for (although I sure do love some apple pie!)

 

 more Thanksgiving Tips can be found at http://www.webmd.com/diet/10-tips-for-a-thinner-thanksgiving?page=3

Healthy Living A to Z: D

Dehydration

You become dehydrated when your fluid output exceeds your input. The effects of mild dehydration are easily fixable- drink some water. However, if you or someone you know is severely dehydrated (see below for symptoms), they may require immediate attention. Always keep an eye on your water intake, and make sure you drink slightly more than eight 8oz. glasses of water a day.

Symptoms of dehydration:

MILD TO MODERATE DEHYDRATION SEVERE DEHYDRATION
Dry, sticky mouth Extreme thirst
Sleepiness or tiredness Irritability and confusion
Dry skin Sunken eyes
Headache Dry skin that doesn’t bounce back when you pinch it
Constipation Low blood pressure
Dizziness or lightheadedness Rapid heartbeat and breathing
Few or no tears when crying Fever
Minimal urine No tears when crying
 Dry, cool skin3 In serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness
Muscle cramps Little or no urination, and any urine color that is darker than usual
Dry Eyes

How can we prevent this scratchy foe?

  • Remember to blink often and takes breaks when reading and especially when working with a computer
  • Rest with a warm compress or wash cloth over your eyes to melt semi-solid secretions blocking your tear glands.
  • Eat Fish
  • Make sure you close your eyes all the way when blinking.
  • Use a humidifier in the winter
  • Artificial Tears- thin liquid drops for short term relief and thicker gels for long term (aka before bedtime). Avoid “red eye reducing” drops, as they often contain decongestants that will dry your eyes out even more.

 

Sources: 

http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/dry-eye-tips.cfm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/definition/con-20030056

http://articles.mercola.com/dehydration-symptoms.aspx

 

Healthy Living A to Z: C

Cardio Workouts

Heart disease and stroke are the number 1 and number 5 causes of death in the United States. The American Heart Association states that cardiovascular exercise is crucial to avoiding these two health epidemics. Whether it’s jogging, bicycling, pick-up basketball or Zumba, thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day. Anything that keeps your heart pumping and makes you sweat will burn calories and build your cardiovascular system to perform better and stay healthy.

For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, we recommend 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Try varying the duration, intensity or frequency of your cardio workouts to keep things fresh and also maintain progress. Your body will adapt to repeated workouts and, to gain fitness, it’s good to constantly strive to train a little harder, longer or more often. But above all, have fun with it: you’ll find it a lot easier to get your weekly cardio in if it’s something you enjoy!

Colon Health

Just as diet can have a positive or negative impact on heart, brain and bone health, your colon’s overall health can be affected by what you eat. The colon is a crucial part of the digestive system, and many different conditions can cause it to work improperly. Some of these include inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; diverticular disease; irritable bowel syndrome; and colorectal cancer (the third most common cancer and the third deadliest cancer in the U.S.).Treatment for these conditions includes diet and lifestyle modifications, medications and/or surgery.

Diets high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in red and processed meats have been associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer, according to the ACS. To help promote good colon health, follow some of these diet recommendations:

Limit red meat consumption and steer clear of processed meats.

Cut back on sugar.

Up your fiber intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. 

Drink your milk: make sure you’re getting the recommended amount of calcium in your diet: depending on age, that is 1,000 milligrams to 1,300 milligrams a day (three to four eight-ounce glasses of low-fat or fat-free milk). Other dietary sources of calcium include leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and collard greens.

Choose grains wisely: Some readily available whole grains include barley, quinoa, whole wheat flour, wild and brown rice and oatmeal. 

 

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.VkOPdLerSUl

https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/eating-healthy-colon