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Archive for the ‘Health & Wellness’ Category

6 Unhealthy Eating Habits You Need to Break

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1. Skipping Breakfast. Between hitting the snooze button three times, scrambling to get ready, and making it to work or class on-time, sometimes it’s to tough to find the time to eat breakfast in the morning. However, nutritionists agree that skipping breakfast is an eating faux pas!  Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why?

  • Breakfast not only gives you energy first thing in the morning, but also jumpstarts your metabolism for the day. Metabolism is linked with weight loss, so eating in the morning may actually lead to weighing less! You will also have more energy to work out and stay active throughout the day if you eat when you wake up.

 2. Not Eating. This unhealthy and unproductive eating habit is also linked to metabolism. The Mayo Clinic explains that metabolism is the process your body performs in order to convert food and drinks into energy to carry out physical processes (even when you’re resting, metabolism creates the energy to breathe and circulate blood through your body).

  • If you don’t eat, your body may initially drop pounds, but you’ll end up retaining as much weight as possible. If you don’t eat, your body will hold the calories needed to perform these functions, even if you’re not eating.
  • Skipping meals also leads to increased hunger later in the day;  even if you saved yourself a few extra calories by skipping lunch, you’ll probably overeat to compensate by the time dinner rolls around.

3. Binging. It goes without saying that overeating to the point of discomfort is never healthy. We’ve all gone back for seconds (or thirds…) after a tasty Thanksgiving meal, but it is an unhealthy habit if you find yourself binging on a regular basis. If you skip a meal, you’ll probably end up binging later because you’re so hungry.

  •  The best way to avoid this harmful habit is to stay comfortably full throughout the day, and never let yourself reach the point of starvation.

4. Late Night Munchies. When you eat late at night, you’re probably rolling through a fast-food restaurant or grabbing a slice of pizza after a night out with your friends. Not only are these foods generally unhealthy and calorific, but also your body will not be able to fully digest and burn the calories while you sleep.

  • If you desperately need a snack after a night of partying, opt for some raw veggies or a hundred-calorie pack snack!

5. Eating When You’re Thirsty. It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger; sluggishness and headache are common signs of dehydration, and these ailments can also strike when you’re hungry.

  • If you don’t think you’re getting enough fluids (The Institute of Medicine suggests men drink about 3 liters of water daily, women should drink 2.2 liters daily), try having a glass of water before chowing down.

6. Distracted Eating. If you grab a bag of pretzels and plop down on the couch for your favorite night of TV, you may reach for a handful and realize you’ve plowed through all the snacks. Distracted eating in front of the TV or computer is unhealthy because it is easy to focus on the TV show or website without paying attention to eating habits; you may be eating when you’re completely full if you’re focused on something else.

  • If you’d rather not eat in silence, portion your meals and snacks before you turn the TV on or open your laptop so you’re not tempted to keep eating.

Healthy Living Part 4: Know Your Numbers

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Knowing some important numbers, and truly understanding what these numbers mean, is an extremely important step to healthy living. Check with your doctor or calculate these numbers yourself in order to determine how you can adjust your eating and exercise habits for a healthier and improved lifestyle.

Check your blood pressure.  It should be really no higher 120/80.  What do blood pressure numbers indicate?

1.     The top (systolic) number represents the pressure while the heart contracts to pump blood to the body.

2.     The bottom (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.

Diastolic high blood pressure refers to the blood pressure in between muscle contractions. Doctors and medical experts have stated that diastolic high blood pressure should be taken seriously because it causes more harm to the body than systolic does. Higher rates of diastolic pressure cause adverse effects on the brain, heart and kidney. Individuals with high diastolic blood pressure should try to maintain this number below 90.

If you find that your pressure is above 140 systolic, (the top number) then you have hypertension.  If your pressure is above 90 diastolic, (the bottom number) you have hypertension.  Many people do not have symptoms until something “bad” happens, however, by then the damage has been done. Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer, and leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness.  If you have high blood pressure, be sure to take your medication as your doctor has prescribed it.

Check your cholesterol.   Your total cholesterol should be below 200.  Your HDL is your good cholesterol, and  the number is raised by exercising.  The HDL cholesterol should be about 50, and the higher the better! Your LDL is your “bad” cholesterol, and this cholesterol should be under 100.  To help you remember which is which, your HDL is happy and your want it to be high.  Your LDL is your loser cholesterol and you want it to be low.  Silly mnemonic, but it works!

Check your blood sugar. Fasting sugar should be under 100. Any isolated level over 200 grants you access into the wonderful world of diabetes.  Diet and exercise as well as maintaining an ideal body weight are the first steps to avoid diabetes!

Check your Body Mass Index (BMI). Many websites offer a BMI calculator; all you need to do is enter your height and weight and it will compute your number. Under 18.5 is considered underweight. Normal is 18.5 to 24.9.  Over weight is 25 to 29.9 and anything over 30 is considered obese. Check out this simple BMI calculator provided by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute! 

Knowledge is power, so know your numbers.  If you know them you can control them, and if you don’t then the numbers can control you!

Healthy Living Part 3: 8 Ways to Find a Positive Attitude

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By Dr. P

Have you been feeling a little down or sluggish?  It could be that your attitude needs an adjustment.  It’s easy enough to say that we all need to have a positive attitude, but how is a positive attitude achieved?  It has a lot to do with the first two steps of healthy living: eating well and exercising.  Eating well and exercising both decrease stress, and decreased stress leads to a positive attitude.

1)  One of the best things we can do to decrease stress is to get enough sleep.  People need at least seven hours of sleep on a daily basis.  Sleep is when the body works on healing itself; sleep allows the mind to relax which, in turn, allows a brighter outlook on life.

 2)  Exercise increases our endorphins and our feel good hormones. It also increases our energy levels, so if you are at work and things are not going well, increase your activity level.  Get up and pace while on the phone, take a walk around the office, or go up and down a couple of flights of stairs.  These activities will make you feel better and create a better mood for you.

3)  Having close bonds with others is another key to happiness.  Reach out to others. Send a quick email. Call a friend and chat for a few minutes. Write in a journal about something that’s irritating you. This process will help you get it off your mind and let you move on.  Sometimes in the midst of doing this, you will find the solution to the irritation. If you are upset about something, you’ll probably spend more than 5 minutes brooding about it, so instead, try doing something during that five minutes to make it go away.

4)  Rid yourself of that nagging task.  Hate the mess in the family room?  Set the timer for 10 minutes and see what all you can get accomplished in that time.  Then stop.  You will have accomplished something, you will feel better about it, and you will have a sense of success.

5)  Do a good deed.  Nothing makes people feel better than helping someone else out.  Let the person behind you in line with 2 things check out in front of you at the store.  Grab the door for someone. Let the other person trying to get into the close parking place have it.  You get the benefit of knowing you made them happy and the benefit of exercising by walking a little further.

6)  Sing with the radio. Studies have shown that people who sing in the car have fewer accidents, arrive calmer, and have less irritation with the other drivers on the road. Music makes people feel happy.

7)  When you don’t feel happy, try acting happy.   Get up and get moving.  Fake it:  before you know it, you’ll feel better and actually find yourself smiling and laughing.

 8)  If these ideas don’t work to increase your positive attitude, go see your doctor. You may need to have your thyroid function checked or just find some better living through pharmacology.  Depression happens.  It can be genetic, situational or environmentally induced.  If you find yourself having more “bad days” than good days, or can’t find any motivation, go see your doctor.   There is nothing wrong with admitting you are depressed or have tendencies toward depression.  You wouldn’t fault your best friend for being depressed, so don’t fault yourself!

Healthy Living Part 2: Exercise

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By Dr. P

First of all, I’m a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Doctor who is passionate about nutrition and healthy living.  I always want my patients to spend more time taking better care of themselves, so they spend less time in my office.

The information given here is correct and accurate to the best of my knowledge.  This advice is medical advice for the “average person”, but as we all know, none of us are the average, ideal person, so know that your needs may differ.  Please use it in consultation with your personal physician and other health care providers.

What does it mean to Live Healthy?

If you ask people what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, they will tell you “it means to take care of yourself,” and by reading this, you are taking the first step in healthy living.  Being healthy is taking time to put you first.  Many times, busy people put themselves at the bottom of the list and do everything for everyone else before they take care of themselves.  In my biased opinion, a lot of women do this often.  But if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else-  so thanks for putting yourself first and reading this.

Step 2     Exercise

Regular exercise boosts metabolism, increases feel good hormones (endorphins) and decreases stress hormones (cortisol).  Studies have also shown that it is the most effective way to guard against getting sick and building immunity.

It is best to alternate your exercise between aerobic exercise, resistance training, and balance work.

Aerobic Exercise includes any type of exercise which is cardiovascular and elevates your heart rate.  Examples of this include walking, running, swimming, bicycling, rowing, or playing tennis.

One interesting fact is that outdoor exercise benefits your mood more than indoor exercise due to the combination of sun, fresh air, and a changing environment, Exercising outdoors helps you to focus on other things rather than just being “in your own thoughts”.  I personally exercise indoors because it fits my schedule and lifestyle better.  I hop on the treadmill or the recumbent bike, and watch a movie or TV.  This is the only way I will watch TV….so if there is something that I’m dying to see…it’s a great way to keep me motivated!

Resistance Training is any exercise that causes muscles to contract against an external force. Common examples of resistance training are weight lifting and using resistance bands.

Resistance training strengthens bone and muscle.  This is important because as we age, we lose muscle mass. Resistance training also raises metabolic rate which allows those of us that love to eat to consume more calories and not gain weight!

Strength training increases muscle mass, bone strength and it has also been shown to increase bone mass and calcium depositing in those over 30.

The American College of Sports medicine recommends strength training 3-4 times weekly where you work on all the major muscle groups of the body (chest, arms, shoulders, back, abdomen, and legs).

You can also use your own body for resistance training. Push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squat thrusts, lunges, and step-ups are some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your body.

Balance Training increases your flexibility, strengthens your core, and leads to increased coordination.  

Yoga and Pilates are both great ways to increase your balance, strengthen your core, and increase your flexibility.  Increased balance leads to increased coordination.

Any exercise that works one side of the body while making the other side not move then has to be repeated will increase your balance.  Increased balance leads to increased coordination.

Ideal Fitness Plan

So your ideal fitness plan would include 3 days of cardio, 3 days of resistance training and 4 days of balance training each week.  The nice thing is that resistance and balance training can often overlap.  Daily physical activity allows your body to maintain an elevated metabolic rate.

Fitting Exercise into your Schedule

If you’re like me, you’re saying, “How do I fit that in to my busy schedule?”  Here’s my advice: set a time to exercise daily (just as you would set a time daily to take a shower, get up, get ready for work).

We manage to squeeze getting up, getting ready, applying makeup, and fixing our hair into our daily routine.  Exercise is just as important as daily hygiene.

Set 30 minutes aside when it’s good for you…it doesn’t have to be in the morning.  I usually exercise after coming home from work….it’s a nice little stress relief for me.  Just set a time and do it.  You are worth it!

Healthy Living Part 1: Eating Right

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By Dr. P

First of all, I’m a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Doctor who is passionate about nutrition and healthy living.  I always want my patients to spend more time taking better care of themselves, so they spend less time in my office.

The information given here is correct and accurate to the best of my knowledge.  This advice is medical advice for the “average person”, but as we all know, none of us are the average, ideal person, so know that your needs may differ.  Please use it in consultation with your personal physician and other health care providers.

What does it mean to Live Healthy?

If you ask people what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, they will tell you “it means to take care of yourself,” and by reading this, you are taking the first step in healthy living.  Being healthy is taking time to put you first.  Many times, busy people put themselves at the bottom of the list and do everything for everyone else before they take care of themselves.  In my biased opinion, a lot of women do this often.  But if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else- so thanks for putting yourself first and reading this.

Step 1   Eating Well

Depending on your age and metabolism, women need between 1500 and 2500 calories per day;  men typically need about 500 more calories per day.  Unfortunately, the older you get, the slower your metabolism becomes due to changes in your hormonal levels.   Metabolism begins to slow in the early 40’s and for women, and their metabolism takes another plunge as they hit menopause..

The first thing to know about eating well is “don’t skip meals,” especially breakfast.   With breakfast, your body has had the longest period of being “unfed”.  Starting your day with a complex carb, fruit and protein will keep you moving until lunch.  Having a full body keeps the brain working and helps focus and mood.  Skipping meals decreases your metabolism, and you are more likely to “binge” on unhealthy snacks, or consume more calories at a later time, than you would if you just ate regular, balanced meals.  Studies have shown that eating 5-6 small meals a day actually boosts the metabolism.

When planning your meals:

25-30% of your diet should be composed of fats, primarily monounsaturated fats

20-25% of your diet should be proteins

50% should be complex carbohydrates

Finding the right foods:

You can find monounsaturated fats in things like olive oil, peanuts, and avocados.  Proteins are foods like eggs, cheese, beans, and meats.  Red meats are an excellent source of iron, which is great for menstruating women and pregnant/post-partum women.  The rest of us, however, really don’t need much,if any, red meat.  I believe meat should be viewed as a “condiment” in the American diet:  2-3 ounces is a serving which is about the size of a deck of cards.  Think about fish, chicken, turkey, and pork as healthy alternatives to red meat.

Complex carbohydrates are a very important part of your diet.  Complex carbohydrates are simply sugars bonded together to form a chain.  Digestive enzymes have to work much harder to access the bonds and break the chain into individual sugars for absorption through the intestines.  For this reason, digestion of complex carbohydrates takes longer.  The slow absorption of sugars provides us with a steady supply of energy and limits the amount of sugar converted into fat and stored.

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that your body needs in high doses on a daily basis for proper functioning. When you eat carbohydrates, they get converted to glycogen and are either used immediately for energy, providing a steady dose of blood sugar, or they are stored in the muscles and liver for energy at a later time.  Simple carbs, by contrast, cause a spike in blood sugar that quickly dissipates.  For sustained energy, eat foods rich in complex carbs.

Don’t forget the fiber: Whole grains are high in fiber, protein, and low in fat.  Fruits such as apricots, oranges, plums, pears, and grapefruit are full of necessary vitamins, fiber, and provide a good source of water. Vegetables are also great sources of 

fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  A nutritious diet leads to a sense of well-being because the body is being given what it needs to be healthy.  Make eating a healthy balanced diet a must for your family because it enhances not only physical but emotional wellness as well.  And remember, it is always better to get your vitamins and minerals from foods rather than supplements.

Break out the bubbly! Champagne is good for you.

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Good news this holiday season!   Champagne actually has some health benefits!

Good news this holiday season!   Champagne actually has some health benefits!

1.  Champagne is good for the heart!

According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, champagne helps keep your cardiovascular system healthy by reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Polyphenols, found in champagne grapes, slow the removal of nitric oxide from the blood, says lead study author Jeremy P. E. Spencer, Ph.D., of the University of Reading in England. That in turn increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of clots.  Spencer suggests drinking one glass of champagne weekly to enjoy the health benefits.

Women’s Health Magazine suggests maximizing polyphenols by drinking blanc de noirs, a type of champagne made with a high proportion of red grapes. 

2.  Champagne is good for the skin!

According to Fitness Magazine, the drink is full of antioxidants which help repair the skin.

You can incorporate champagne into your skin care by making your own scrubs.

Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup plain yogurt, and 1/4 cup champagne.  Gently rub the mixture all over your body and rinse.  This scrub helps rejuvenate the skin and make it glow.  This recipe comes from Kym Douglas, coauthor of The Beauty Cookbook.  Check out her book for more great beauty tips!

3.  Champagne is good for the soul!

Champagne contains elements which help boost your mood if it is consumed in moderation, says Tran Ky, MD, co-author of The Healing Power of ChampagneHealth Magazine suggests pairing the drink with a fish dish in order to maximize the mood boosting powers since the fish, high in omega-3s, will help make you even happier than just the champagne alone.

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

November 8, 2010 at 4:43 am

Your Best Life, Part 1- BE Your Best.

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We all have our own wishes, goals and intentions, but sometimes we get so bogged down in how large the task is, that we can’t help but get derailed from where we’re trying to go.

Too often, our goals look something like this:

  •  I am going to lose twenty pounds.
  • I am going to exercise every day for an hour.
  • I am going to make $___ a year and get out of debt.
  • I am going to be a better mother/wife/daughter…

It’s not that there is anything wrong with these goals, but these goals reflect the end result rather than the path to get there.  Ultimately, the end result doesn’t matter because we never stay where we are.  We can always lose that twenty pounds, and then gain it back.  We can get that $100,000 job and lose it.  The only thing we can guarantee is that life will always be changing.  That’s why we have to focus on the thought behind the action rather than the end result.

So right now, just STOP.  STOP framing your goals around what you “are going to do” and instead consider who you want to be.  This can be a “wish list” of sorts; no one is perfect, but do consider what the “perfect” version of yourself would be.  What do you want to stand for?  What qualities do you want to define your character?

Now, make a list of what those qualities are, but use them in the present tense, as if you already ARE that person.

For instance:

  •  I am kind and considerate.
  • I apply myself to the fullest with everything I do.
  • I lead a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising.
  • I have quality relationships and I make a daily effort to keep them strong.
  • I keep my commitments and finish what I begin.
  • I am successful.
  • I appreciate all that life brings me understanding that any set backs are just part of the process.

Make that list, and as you continue to think about it, go back and edit it to reflect everything you want to be.  You can always modify your list.  It is never set in stone.

This week, I want you to read that list every day.  Just read through it when you get up, get to the office, brush your teeth, or go to bed.

Pretty soon, you might find that you are trying to make a decision, a decision which might usually trip you up a little, and then you’ll hear that list in your head, and you’ll know what to do.   You will know what you have to do because these are qualities you’ve chosen for yourself, and within that list will be the answer.

What you have been in the past does not matter anymore.  All you have to do is choose to reflect the person you want to be.

In order to grow and change, our thoughts have to change.  We have to choose to change our thinking from “I should,” to “I already am.”

This week, I hope you have the realization that your best self lies within you.  It’s not something you have to change.  All you have to do is work on your thinking in order to access it, and your behavior will follow.

You CAN BE everything you want to be. 

Written by Real Life 101, Inc.

October 25, 2010 at 3:27 am