Monday, December 11, 2023

Improving Your Metabolism.

Metabolism, often referred to as the body's engine, plays a crucial role in converting food into energy. A faster metabolism can aid in weight management, energy levels, and overall well-being. There is this saying that you gain weight as you age because your metabolism slows but that isn't absolutely true. While genetics and age influence metabolic rate, there are several effective strategies to enhance and maintain a healthy metabolism, promoting a more efficient calorie-burning process.

To begin with, metabolism encompasses all the biochemical processes that occur within the body to sustain life. It involves converting food into energy required for various bodily functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, cell repair, and digestion. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the energy expended at rest to maintain basic physiological functions.

There are some strategies you can employ to help improve your metabolism. First, engaging in both aerobic exercises (like jogging, swimming, or cycling) and strength training (weightlifting, resistance exercises) can increase muscle mass and rev up your metabolism. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue, boosting your BMR. Add in some HIIT workouts that involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods. These workouts can boost metabolism both during and after exercise, leading to increased calorie burning.

Next, you need to eat protein rich foods because protein requires more energy to digest compared to fats or carbohydrates, leading to a temporary increase in metabolic rate. Choose lean protein sources like chicken, fish, legumes, and tofu into your meals. Don't forget to stay hydrated because drinking water can temporarily speed up metabolism. Some studies suggest that drinking cold water might have a slight metabolic-boosting effect as your body expends energy to warm the water to body temperature. In addition, a lack of sleep can disrupt hormonal balance and slow down metabolism. Try to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support overall health and metabolic function.

There is a train of throughs that certain spices like cayenne pepper, turmeric, and ginger contain compounds that may temporarily increase metabolism. So incorporating these spices into your diet might provide a slight metabolic boost. Furthermore, look at consuming smaller, well-balanced meals throughout the day to prevent energy slumps and help maintain a steady metabolic rate. However, the impact of meal frequency on metabolism may vary for different individuals.

Be aware that chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels, impacting metabolism. Practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can help reduce stress and support a healthier metabolic rate. Know that extremely low-calorie diets can slow down metabolism as the body adapts to conserve energy so avoid them. Aim for a balanced diet that provides adequate nutrients to support metabolic function.

While genetics and age influence metabolism, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can significantly impact your body's calorie-burning efficiency. Incorporating regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet rich in protein, staying hydrated, and managing stress levels are key factors in supporting a healthy metabolism. By implementing these strategies, individuals can work towards optimizing their metabolic rate, supporting weight management, increasing energy levels, and promoting overall well-being. Remember, small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in boosting your body's metabolic engine. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

What Is Exercise Snacking?

In the realm of fitness and well-being, the concept of "exercise snacking" has gained momentum as a strategy to include physical activity in our daily routines thus making it more accessible and manageable for busy individuals. Just like snacking on healthy bites of food throughout the day, exercise snacking involves short bursts of physical activity strategically sprinkled throughout your day, offering numerous health benefits.

Exercise snacking revolves around the idea of breaking traditional workout routines into smaller, bite-sized portions. Rather than dedicating a specific block of time to exercise, individuals engage in brief, intense bursts of activity, often lasting only a few minutes, multiple times a day. These short bursts of exercise, spread across the day, accumulate to meet daily activity recommendations.

Exercise snacking has multiple advantages. It has been shown even short bursts of exercise, when performed regularly, contribute to improved cardiovascular health, increased stamina, and enhanced muscular strength. In addition, engaging in brief physical activity sessions throughout the day can boost metabolism, aiding in calorie burning and weight management.

Furthermore, exercise snacking can combat sedentary behavior and combat midday slumps, providing a quick energy boost and improving overall alertness and productivity. Exercise snacking can also combat sedentary behavior and combat midday slumps, providing a quick energy boost and improving overall alertness and productivity.

So what types of things meet the criteria for exercise snacking. At work, incorporate simple exercises into your work routine, such as seated leg raises, desk push-ups, or standing calf raises while on calls or during short breaks. In addition, opt for stairs instead of elevators whenever possible. Take short breaks during the day to climb a flight or two of stairs, promoting cardiovascular health and muscle engagement.

At home, perform high-intensity exercises like jumping jacks, squats, or skipping rope for a few minutes during TV commercial breaks or while waiting for dinner to cook. Also, take brief stretching breaks every hour to reduce muscle stiffness and improve flexibility. Perform simple stretches targeting major muscle groups.

The best way to incorporate exercise snacking into your daily routine, schedule reminders or alarms on your phone or computer to prompt brief exercise breaks throughout the day, ensuring you don't forget to 'snack' on exercise. Start with small, manageable bursts of activity and gradually increase the duration or intensity as you become accustomed to exercise snacking. Eventually, exercise snacking becomes a habit.

Find opportunities to move more in your daily routine. Walk while talking on the phone, do household chores briskly, or take a short walk after meals. Furthermore, use fitness trackers or apps to monitor your activity levels. Seeing your progress can motivate you to continue incorporating exercise snacking into your routine.

Exercise snacking offers a practical and effective way to integrate physical activity into daily life. By breaking exercise into bite-sized chunks and infusing movement into our daily routines, we can reap numerous health benefits without the need for extended gym sessions. Incorporating short bursts of physical activity throughout the day not only contributes to improved fitness levels but also enhances overall well-being, making exercise more manageable and accessible for everyone aiming for a healthier lifestyle. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Why Include Functional Training Workouts?

In today's realm of fitness and exercise, functional training has emerged as a transformative approach that goes beyond mere physical aesthetics. This methodology focuses on movements that mimic real-life activities, emphasizing strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. When you understand the significance of functional training and know when to start incorporating it into your fitness routine can really make a difference in achieving overall well-being.

You may wonder what functional training is. Functional training revolves around exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and joints simultaneously, replicating movements used in daily life. Unlike traditional weightlifting or isolated exercises, functional workouts focus on movements that enhance one's ability to perform daily activities both efficiently and safely. Squats, lunges, push-ups, and kettlebell swings are examples of functional exercises that engage various muscle groups and promote functional strength.

There are multiple reasons for incorporating functional training into your workout schedule. First, functional training enhances overall strength that people use in their daily activities such as lifting, carrying groceries, or bending over and makes these activities more manageable. Next, it enhances both stability and balance. By engaging core muscles to encourage stability, functional exercises aid in reducing the risk of injury and improving balance, crucial for maintaining stability in daily movements especially as one ages. The emphasis on multi-planar movements in functional training enhances flexibility and mobility, allowing individuals to move more freely and comfortably.

Since functional workouts maximize efficiency by targeting multiple muscle groups in a single exercise, it means that this is a more efficient and time saving workout so it is an ideal choice for those with limited time for exercise. In addition, functional exercises can be adapted to suit various fitness levels, making them accessible for beginners and challenging for seasoned athletes.

You may wonder when one should start incorporating functional training into your workout rotation. You can start now so you stay in good shape as you age rather than waiting till you are 75 or 80. The beauty of functional training lies in its adaptability to different fitness levels and goals. However, certain considerations can guide the decision of when to start integrating it into your routine.

First, if you are a beginner, it is best to start with basic functional movements to establish a solid foundation. Simple exercises like bodyweight squats, lunges, and planks can introduce individuals to functional training. For seasoned fitness enthusiasts, they can benefit from integrating functional movements to diversify their routines, prevent plateaus, and challenge their bodies in new ways. In addition, functional training can complement other workout routines, adding a dynamic element that enhances overall fitness goals.

Functional training offers a great overall approach to fitness, emphasizing movements that improve functional strength, stability, flexibility, and balance. Whether you're a novice looking to start a fitness journey, or seeking to diversify your workout routine, functional training can be adapted to suit various fitness levels and needs. By incorporating functional exercises into your routine, you can experience the transformative benefits that contribute to overall well-being and an improved quality of life.

Monday, December 4, 2023

What To Pack In Your Carry-On During The Christmas Season.

It is the Christmas season and so many people are heading home to be with family.  It is also the time when flights are canceled due to weather and it is possible to end up spending the night somewhere.  Traveling during the Christmas season often brings a unique blend of challenges. Whether you're spending the holidays with family or heading off for a special vacation, packing a well-prepared carry-on can make your journey merrier and more comfortable.  Here are several things you should pack in your carry-on when traveling around Christmas.

First of all, make sure you have all your necessary travel including passports, identification, boarding passes, visas, or travel permits, easily accessible.  Place them in an easy to get to pocket so you don't have to look through every thing. In addition, carry your wallet with any credit cards, local and foreign currency, and any travel insurance details.  Hint, if you carry your wallet in your pants, put them in one of the front pockets as it is harder for someone to lift it.  Finally, keep your phone handy along with the charger.  Make sure the phone has any travel apps updated and your devices have lots of entertainment on them..

Next, think about packing a few pieces of clothing just in case.  Pack pieces that can be layered such as a shirt, a pair or two of underwear, light jacket, some sort of comfortable bottoms such as leggings, socks, a pair of flip flops or sandals, and a scarf, hat, and gloves it its cold where you are headed.  Throw in something you can sleep in. Rather than packing a jacket, wear it or a sweater on board since the main cabin of an airplane is often cool.  

Place travel sized toiletries in a zip lock bag so they are easy to take out at TSA.  You can find travel sized items for facial care, hair, mouthwash, and body lotion or wash -  so invest in a few.  Throw in a small toothpaste and your toothbrush since one often needs to freshen up after a long flight.  In addition, have a bit of hand lotion and lip balm in your things to help combat the dryness of the cabin.  Don't forget to pack your meds or personal care items such as vitamins in your carry-on. It is possible to buy small containers to carry them in. Finally, throw in a bit of hand sanitizer and wipes in case you need to clean up things.

The last things to think about packing include snacks such as nuts, granola bars, or dried fruit incase you need a quick snack between flights or on the flight. Bring an empty water bottle to fill once you are on the other side of TSA so you don't have to buy bottles at the airport. You should also include any portable electronic devices so you can use the entertainment system provided by the airline, do some work, or just entertain yourself. Be sure to pack chargers, extra power banks, headphones and chargers so you stay connected all flight. Finally, throw in a travel pillow so you can stay comfortable, catch a short nap either on the plane or in the waiting area.

Carefully pack all the items in your carry-on bag. Roll up clothing to help it fit better, slide shoes into side pockets, place travel papers, boarding passes, and meds in easily accessible spots.  Place any foods in a zip lock baggy to make it easier to pull out at TSA along with your toiletries.  Tie the travel pillow to the side of your carry-on so you don't lose it.

Finally, always, always, always check with the airline for size of the carry-on, and other regulations so you don't have a problem.  This includes the size of digital devices.  I found out my large iPad Pro was too large to use on one airline and had to switch it out for a smaller one.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Keeping Your Lips Nice All Year Long.

It's that time of year again when it seems like we battle to keep our lips in nice shape. Your lips are a delicate yet prominent feature of your face, deserving attention and care just like the rest of your skin. Proper lip care not only enhances their natural beauty but also contributes to overall comfort and health. From harsh weather conditions to everyday habits, several factors can affect the condition of your lips.

Just like the rest of your body, your lips require hydration. Drink an adequate amount of water daily to keep your body and lips moisturized from within. Dehydration can lead to dry, chapped lips, so staying well-hydrated is crucial for lip health. Although it seems as if it provides temporary relief, licking your lips can worsen dryness. Saliva evaporates quickly, leaving your lips drier than before. Instead, reach for your lip balm to moisturize when your lips feel dry. Furthermore, make sure to use a humidifier to help keep your lips hydrated.

As indicated, you should invest in a good-quality lip balm containing moisturizing ingredients such as beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, or coconut oil. Apply lip balm regularly, especially in dry or cold weather, to prevent dryness and protect your lips from environmental elements. It seems there is a rumor going around that says you can become addicted to using lip balm and you shouldn't useit for that reason but numerous dermatologists disagree.

Another thing you can do is to regularly exfoliate your lips since it helps remove dead skin cells while promoting smoother lips. Use a gentle lip scrub or make your own by mixing sugar with honey or coconut oil. Lightly exfoliate your lips once or twice a week to maintain softness. Don't laugh, it honestly works, just like It works on the rest of your body.

When you apply sunscreen, don't forget to apply it to your lips since UV rays can damage the delicate skin on your lips. Use a lip balm or lipstick with SPF protection to shield your lips from harmful sun exposure. Reapply sunscreen-infused lip products throughout the day, especially when outdoors. You might have to look for balm or lipstick with added SPF but when you find it, it is worth it.

It doesn't matter how tired you are at night but leaving lipstick or lip gloss on overnight can dry out your lips and cause irritation. Make it a habit to remove all lip makeup before bedtime using a gentle makeup remover or micellar water.  

Taking care of your lips is an essential aspect of your skincare routine. By following these simple yet effective tips, you can maintain soft, smooth, and healthy lips regardless of the season. Regular hydration, protection from the sun, gentle exfoliation, and a balanced diet are key elements in ensuring your lips remain luscious and well-nourished. Incorporate these practices into your daily routine to keep your lips looking and feeling their best. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Staying Well In Winter By Getting Enough Vitamin D.

As the winter months set in and daylight hours diminish, getting enough Vitamin D becomes increasingly challenging. Often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," Vitamin D plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including bone health, immune system support, and mood regulation. Fortunately, despite the lack of abundant sunlight, there are several strategies to ensure you're getting enough Vitamin D during the winter season.

Vitamin D is extremely important to the human body. Vitamin D is primarily synthesized in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, specifically UVB rays. However, in the winter, reduced sunlight and spending more time indoors can lead to lower Vitamin D levels, potentially impacting overall health.

There are several strategies one can follow to keep levels of Vitamin D up during the winter. First one should maximize their exposure to sunlight by going out during the day. It is best to be outside during the midday when the sun's UVB rays are stronger. Even brief periods of sun exposure can help stimulate Vitamin D production.

Review your diet to make sure it has sufficient Vitamin D rich foods included. Incorporate foods naturally high in Vitamin D into your diet. Look at fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, or mushrooms and eggs as well as fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals, as they are excellent sources of Vitamin D. Read the label of any fortified foods to check for the amount of Vitamin D they contain. Egg yolks contain a decent amount of Vitamin D so consider having eggs for breakfast or a quick lunch.

If you check the internet you'll see there is a trend to recommend using Vitamin D supplements but it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine if they are necessary. This is especially true if you live where there is limited sun exposure or a diet without enough Vitamin D-rich foods. Supplements can be an effective way to get the amount of recommended Vitamin D.

In addition, there are UVB lamps sold on the market. These lamps mimic sunlight exposure but one needs to be extremely careful not to over due it. It is possible to damage the skin so it is important to follow manufacturers guidelines.

Finally, if you aren't sure you are getting enough Vitamin D, check with your local healthcare professional. I checked with mine and he recommended the supplements since in so many places here in Alaska, one cannot get enough Vitamin D from the sun. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Tips To Staying Well Hydrated Indoors.

As the temperature drops and the air becomes drier, it's easy to overlook the importance of staying hydrated during the winter months. Unlike the scorching heat of summer that triggers obvious thirst, the cooler temperatures of winter can deceive us into thinking that we're not losing fluids. Furthermore, most houses are set up to send dry, hot, air through the house to heat it. Many people think about staying hydrated outdoors but not inside. However, maintaining adequate hydration indoors during winter is just as crucial for overall health and well-being. Here are some essential tips to help you stay well-hydrated inside during the colder months.

  1. Always prioritize your regular water intake. While you might not feel as thirsty in winter, it's vital to maintain a steady intake of water throughout the day. Carry a reusable water bottle and sip on it consistently to ensure you're meeting your hydration needs. The liquid does not need to be cold but can be room temperature. Think about aiming for at least 8 - 10 glasses

    of water each day.

    In the hustle of daily life, it's easy to forget to drink water.  Use your phone to set frequent reminders or download an app specifically designed to keep you hydrated. You want someway to remind yourself to take regular sips of water throughout the day, ensuring consistent hydration.

    If you aren't much of a water drinker, think about including warm herbal teas since they not only provide a cozy respite from the cold but also contribute to your daily fluid intake. Go for caffeine-free herbal teas like chamomile, ginger, or peppermint, which not only hydrate but also offer various health benefits. Speaking of caffeine, limit the intake of beverages like coffee and alcohol as they can contribute to dehydration. If you indulge, be sure to drink additional water or herbal teas to maintain hydration levels.

    Be sure to include hydrating fruits and vegetables into your diet. Use foods like cucumbers, celery, oranges, and watermelon since they have high water content and can contribute to your overall hydration. Additionally, enjoy bowls of soups and broths since both can provide warmth and hydration.

    As mentioned earlier, heated indoor environments can strip moisture from the air, leading to dehydration. Rather than sticking it out, consider using a humidifier, which helps maintain optimal humidity levels and prevents excessive drying of your skin and respiratory passages. Using a humidifier can keep your respiratory passages from drying out.

    Always pay attention to the color of your urine as it can indicate your hydration status. Aim for a pale yellow color, since darker urine may signal dehydration, indicating the need to increase your fluid intake. If you wait till you feel thirsty, then you are already on your way to being dehydrated.

  2. Maintaining proper hydration indoors during winter is essential for overall health, despite the cooler temperatures that may not induce strong feelings of thirst. By consciously incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can ensure adequate hydration and support your body's optimal functioning throughout the winter season. Stay warm, stay hydrated, and stay healthy!

    Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Are Black Friday Deals Arriving Earlier?


I've been receiving lots of e-mails advertising "Black Friday Deals" before Thanksgiving ever arrived.  In fact, I think I got my first ones around Halloween so I wondered if these deals have been showing up earlier and earlier.  Sort of like seeing Christmas stuff at Halloween.  For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Black Friday deals, the event began back in the 1950's in Philadelphia.  Apparently, the police were upset with having to control the masses of shoppers who descended on the town the day after Thanksgiving and they coined the phrase.

Since the advent of the digital age, Black Friday has spread and attracted more people since they can shop online rather than physically going from store to store.  It has been observed that Black Friday is no longer just on Friday but has expanded to include Cyber Monday sales.  

One researcher found that notices of Black Friday deals have been arriving earlier and earlier so notices often begin arriving around Halloween.  This is something that has been happening over the past decade.  One reason for the earlier and earlier notices is due to the rising competition among retailers for limited funds and in the hopes of easing demands on shipping methods.  

Furthermore, when the term "Black Friday" is used before Thanksgiving, it is used as a marketing ploy because people associate the term with huge sales and savings.  In addition, many places have smaller sales leading up to the big event. Furthermore, with the use of Cyber Monday sales, and Small Business Saturday sales, the whole shopping season is being extended to at least a week after.  

In addition, it was found that many of the early Black Friday discounts are higher than they have been in the past.  Retailers are worried that people may not have as much money to spend this year due to inflation, even though things have eased a bit.  Retailers want extend the season to give shoppers a longer period to use the discounts.  

Black Friday is traditionally a time when stores make quite a bit of money and with the economy being the way it is, retailers, want to entice people to spend their money, especially since the economy has began slowing down around the beginning of October. They want to draw people in to spend their money.  Retailers are afraid that if they wait too late to begin their deals, consumers will shop elsewhere.

Furthermore, the discounts offered are on certain items so shoppers can't buy everything they want at once.  They have to wait as discounts are spread out over the season.  This way they get shoppers excited throughout the season and they are more likely to spend money over the whole season.  

I admit, I tend to enjoy deals but I'm not as bad as some of my friends.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Staying Motivated To Workout Through The Holidays

 Last time we looked at ways to keep from overeating during Thanksgiving but what about exercising?  Thanksgiving is just the first event over a four week period leading to New Years.  A season filled with parties, eating, more eating, and lots of socialization.  Unfortunately, this can make it more difficult to think about working out, especially if you are out a lot.  

So today, we'll explore ways to keep you working out through the holidays, even when you'd rather put it off.  One thing that helps is keeping the right mindset.  Promise yourself that you will workout, no excuses and stick to that promise. Don't make excuses why you can't do it.  If you don't feel as if you can workout after you are done working for the day, do it before you go in or head out for a nice long walk during lunch.  Grab a friend or your dog and hit the trails for a nice long walk.  Don't let anything get in your way.

Make sure you have a schedule, one that lists all your parties, work, and include your workout sessions.  If it is on your calendar, you are more likely to actually get it done.  I have a spot in my daily routine for a 30 minute workout and I do it.  If I don't have it written down, I am more likely to skip it because it's not written down.  In addition, if you are traveling, you have a chance to download videos, look to see where the gyms are located where you'll be, or look for walking routes.  I know someone who is a digital nomad and she is always looking for a gym in the new place so she can continue training.

Arrange to have a workout buddy who will hold you accountable to workout with them and vice versa.  It is harder to decide to skip working out when you are doing it with someone. This also makes it easier to stay motivated.  Furthermore, even if you and your workout buddy are separated during the holidays, you can ask each other if you've worked out.  Don't forget, there is Skype if you want to do it at the same time.  

This might be the perfect time to check out the local gym if you haven't been there.  Working out in a group can be motivating because it makes it into a social experience.  You could also check out things like volleyball or basketball games since both require you to move a fair bit.

If you can't workout due to traveling, throw a jumprope or resistance band in your suitcase and when you hit your hotel, look on Youtube for videos that you can workout to.  If nothing else, find videos that have you rely on body weight because you don't need to have any equipment.  As far as exercising while traveling, I have spent many a time walking around airports and exploring them in detail.  I can tell you where just about every pet stop is inside the Sea-Tac Airport and where the closest one is outside the Reno Airport just from walking around.

Finally, think about why you are exercising.  Are you doing it to help reduce your stress, keep your weight off, or stay in shape?  Remember why and encourage yourself to keep at it.  Let me now what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, November 20, 2023

How To Avoid Overeating During The Holidays

 It's that time of the year again.  We have Thanksgiving coming up in a few days, lots of holiday parties, Christmas, and New Years. There are gatherings, parties, giving, and so much more.  There is always someone you know who spends days baking all sorts of goodies to share with everyone and parties with things you can't resist.  Before you know it, you've gained a few pounds.

So how do you navigate this food filled season without gaining weight?  Without stuffing yourself because you just can't resist one more.  That is what we'll look at today.

On Thanksgiving, do not skip meals rather eat your regularly scheduled meals.  Consider having a good breakfast with lots of protein since protein helps curb your appetite all day long. Most people skip meals with the idea that you'll have space for more food but if you skip meals, you'll be really hungry and that is when you overeat. Sometimes you are so hungry, you inhale the food and then feel sick when you are done eating. In addition, work on staying hydrated but don't rely on alcoholic drinks for that. One reason you want to stay hydrated is that you think you are hungry so you eat more.  In reality you are actually dehydrated and just need some water.

When you snack before the meal, look at foods like unsalted nuts, veggies, and fruits before you indulge in deli meats or cheese. The unsalted nuts, veggies, and fruits are a much healthier choice.  The deli meats tend to be over processed, high in sodium, and saturated fats which aren't good for us.  So if you see a charcuterie board, don't just grab things.  Look at it and decide what you should eat.  Place your choices on a plate and walk away so you don't continually graze.

Depending on your family, you'll either sit around the table and pass foods around, or you'll go through a buffet filled with the main dishes for the meal.  Keep in mind the old saying "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach."  Instead of grabbing spoonfuls of each dish, settle on a little of everything including the meats. Spend time chewing your food, enjoying the flavors, and taking your time eating it. If you decide you want seconds immediately after, don't.  Wait at least 10 minutes before returning to get more.  The 10 minutes gives your brain a chance to catch up and decide if you are full or have space for more. 

Enjoy conversations with your family and friends away from the food so you don't fall into the snacking trap.  When you stand next to the food, you tend to grab some to eat without thinking.  If you aren't near the food, you are less likely to snack.  One of the last things recommended is to get out and move.  Grab people to throw a foot ball around, walk through the neighborhood, checking for lights and decorations. 

I am not going to share the number of times I've ignored these and ended up over indulging.  It's hard to say no to your mother.  Have a great day and enjoy your self.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, November 17, 2023

How To Determine Your Skin Type.

I remember as a teenager, I tried to figure out what type of skin I had.  It was difficult because I was told if you break out in acne, you have oily skin but what if you break out during that time of the month only? I had acne but not much and I didn't have it all the time. I ended up giving up for the simple reason that it was easier to find information on the shape of ones face and the best hairstyles for those shapes than it was to find skin type.

Now it is so much easier to determine your skin type especially with the internet holding so much information.  It is important to know the type of skin you have so you can treat it properly, purchase the right products for it, and adjust your lifestyle to match it.

One of the easiest ways is to do the 30 minute test.  To do it, you must first wash your face to get rid of anything on it such as makeup or sunscreen.  Leave it alone for 30 minutes.  This means do not apply any sort of product to it.  At the end of 30 minutes, look into a mirror and carefully examine your face.  If it looks shiny and even feels slick when you touch it, you have oily skin.  If your skin feels dry and flakey with some tight feeling patches, you have dry skin but if your skin is red and irritated, you have sensitive skin.  Finally, if you have both flakey and shiny places, you have a combination skin.

Another test is to use a clean piece of blotting paper on different parts of your face and then hold the sheet up to the light.  If the paper picks up a lot of oil, you have oily skin.  On the other hand, if there is little to no oil, you have dry skin. If you only find oil in the T-zone, then you have either combination or normal skin.

Now, it is quite possible for your skin to undergo temporary changes but it won't usually change its basic type since that is genetically determined. Your skin can and does change temporarily to enviornmental changes or during certain transitional periods in your life, or age.  For instance, when a woman goes through menopause, your skin may become dryer due to your oil producing glands becoming less active. Your skin may also undergo changes due to medications, levels of stress, or even diet.

If you skin becomes oilier, that is often caused by changes in your hormones. Your hormones can begin to produce more which causes the glands in your skin to produce more oil.  Sometimes, this happens to the whole face while other times it might only be along the nose in the T-area. 

Thus it is important to change your routine to meet the current needs of your skin type.  If you had dry skin most of your life and suddenly it becomes oily, you want to switch to products that are designed for oily skin.  You can damage your skin if you use the wrong product on your skin.  If you have oily skin that suddenly dries out but continue to use products made for oily faces.  You could dry your skin out even more and that isn't good.

So take time to monitor your skin, note any changes, and make adjustments.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Why Ultra Processed Foods Are Not Good For You.

You've seen the headlines and articles.  The ones that tell you not to eat ultra processed foods but these same articles don't always go into why you shouldn't eat them.  Sometimes the information provided is not actually correct.  I had a physician tell me not to eat any white foods.  I basically ignored her because many of the things I eat are white but are considered good for you.  Foods such as tofu.  I didn't stay with her very long.

Although many food items that we eat are processed, what separates processed from ultra processed? Ultra processed is one category of foods in the NOVA scale.  The first category is unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as carrots, avocados, or milk.  They are grown, washed, or pasteurized before being sold. Next is the processed culinary ingredients which are minimally processed through pressing, refining, grinding, or milling such as olive oil or almond flour.  The third category is processed foods which have been changed some by adding oil, sugar, salt, or other substance such as canned tuna or certain cheeses. 

 The last category is the ultra processed which are processed foods that have been processed even more.  These have artificial colors and flavors, preservatives to last longer, or ingredients to preserve the texture and are often packaged foods. The defining definition for ultra processed foods is that they have at least five added ingredients and containing ingredients not normally used in culinary preparations. These often are lacking in nutritional value or have way more salt or sugar than is really needed. Things such as soda, hot dogs, deli meats, fast foods, prepackaged cookies, salty snacks, and jarred sauces are often classified as ultra processed foods. 

Although ultra processed foods don't sound bad on the surface, one is exposing themselves to high energy fats, simple sugars, and limited fibers because the food has already been broken down due to processing and the body reacts by rapidly increasing blood sugar while activating the reward center in the brain.  This keeps us wanting more and more.  Due to the heating that occurs during the preparation of the product, fats often change into trans fatty acids which are extremely bad for you. Trans fatty acids have been linked to higher levels of LDL cholesterol, ending up with heart disease, stroke, or diabetes 2. 

There are studies now coming out that indicate eating ultra processed foods can increase your chance of getting dementia, dying earlier due to cardiovascular disease or increasing the chance of getting cancer, Having said that, not everyone agrees that ultra processed foods are bad for you but the general consensus is that one should try to eat foods that contain less salt, sugar, and oils regardless of the type of food. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, November 13, 2023

How To Relax Without Technology.

I watch my students play games on their phones but I don't see them relax without technology.  If they get free time, they just want to be online to play games or check out YouTube.  I seldom see them actually relax without a device.  For myself, I often use my device to read books since I had to fit all my belongings into one suitcase when I came out here for the job.  Yes, I sometimes play games but mostly I use it for reading. So today, we'll look at ways to relax without using technology.

There are several reasons one should find time to relax without using technology.  The use of digital devices often leads to inattentiveness, poor quality of sleep, and increased anxiety.  So it is important to take time to enjoy yourself without using technology.

For instance, rather than eating dinner while watching Netflix, or checking social media, take time to prepare the meal without any technology in front of you.  Then sit down at the dining room table to eat it slowly, while conversing with other members of the family. When you enjoy a meal with no technology, you slow down and really appreciate the taste of the meal.  This type of eating is often referred to as mindful eating because you are taking time to enjoy the flavor and texture of every bite.

Pull out a good old fashioned book, sit down and read it.  In addition to being relaxing, reading a book can also be mentally stimulating while providing actual benefits for your body and mind.  It has been shown that reading a physical book for just 30 minutes can lower blood pressure, improve your heart rate, and decrease feelings of psychological stress.

Think about going back to that hobby you had years ago or start a new one.  When you engage in a hobby, you'll get into a zone that is like meditating. It doesn't matter if you bike, make jewelry, dance, or gardening, you are focused on one activity which helps reboot and clear your mind so you feel more fulfilled and successful.

If you can, head out to spend time in nature, walking, enjoying the trees, flowers, or even lakes.  Being out in nature can help your mind unwind.  There is evidence that being in nature can impact our brains and behavior by relieving anxiety, increasing our attention span, and helps us connect to other people.

Rather than keeping a digital journal, pull out a composition notebook and start writing in it by hand.  Journal your feelings, your gratitude, your day, or similar topic. Journaling by hand, helps get rid of the noise in our brains we've absorbed from all the screens around us, and declutters the brain.  If you don't know what to write about, check the internet for ideas or journal starters, print them off and keep them with your journal.

Call someone using your phone rather than relying on texting. Stay connected by phone, enjoy the conversation without the distraction of the screen. When you speak on the phone, there is little chance of misinterpreting something that is written or texted.  You don't have to figure out if the period was placed in the wrong spot, or remember what that shortened word means.  When talking you can just enjoy the conversation.

Finally, take up yoga.  Yoga helps ease tension in the body and mind, helps develop flexibility, and is great for relaxing by the end of a session.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have fun relaxing more without your screen.  

Friday, November 10, 2023

7 Exercise Myths

Today, I'm looking at myths about exercising.  I know I've heard some of these repeated again and again.  I also know my mother repeated a couple of these to me.  

One of the myths I've heard from friends is that one can target the fat you want to get rid of.  Although exercising can help reduce fat over all, one cannot determine the part of the body that burns the most fat. It doesn't just burn fat from the targeted area because your body breaks down fat to use it as fuel and it will burn fat from anywhere on your body.  

Next is the one that says that lifting heavy weights will cause women to bulk up.  In fact, lifting weights can help tone the body while helping to shape it. Since women have low levels of testosterone, they are not likely to build muscles and bulk up.  One advantage of lifting weights is that it helps prevent the loss of bone and can help increase bone density. Furthermore, lifting weights helps increase the rate your body burns calories so you burn more fat.

There is the myth that says that crunches are the best way to help your core but in reality, crunches do not get rid of belly fat.  A better way is to increase your cardio while adding resistance training. It is important to reduce belly fat because this decreases the chances of heart disease.

Don't count on exercise to counter a bad diet because diet plays a large part in weight management than exercising. In addition, eating certain foods can help you healthier and so you want to eat well and exercise for the best results.

What about the myth that says when you stop strength training your muscles turn to fat.  Your muscles cannot turn into fat.  What actually happens when you stop strength training, you actually lose muscle mass while your metabolism slows down and you begin to gain weight.

You also don't need to spend hours in the gym working out.  You can get the same benefits working out at home instead of the gym as long as you do strength training before doing aerobic exercises. The first thing your body burns is carbohydrates which is great for intense exercises over the short term.  Then your body burns fat after it has used the carbohydrates. 

Finally, don't stretch before you exercise because your muscles are cold.  It is best to stretch once you've given your muscles and joints a chance to warm up. When you stretch once your warmed up, it can improve your performance and flexibility.  Stretching can also reduce stress, improve circulation and posture.

So have fun breaking these myths for better health and a better life.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Lifting Weights For A Cardio Workout.


I was trying to remember where I came across something about using weights to get a cardio workout.  It might have been one of my DVD's or it might have been an article but I know it impressed me.  I suspect everyone of us wants a workout where we can get the most value out of each and every workout. 

 You could also combine resistance band training, HITT, circuit training, and plyometrics  with compound moves from kettle balls, dumbbells, or even the weight of your own body to work your heart, increase your strength, build lean muscle all in one workout.There is research to indicate that when both cardio and weights are combined, people are less likely to die.

For many folks, they do cardio to exercise the heart and weights to build muscles but it is possible to get a cardio workout while doing weights. One way to do this is to cut down on the length of time between repetitions.  

For instance, if you wait three minutes between each set of bicep curl, wait only one minute or even just a few breaths.  Keep pushing so you don't have time to rest.  It helps you burn more fat and you feel as if you are on a cardio machine at the same time you are lifting.

Another thing to do is throw in a cardio element between sets of weights to really get the heart pumping.  You could do several jumping jacks, jump rope, or other exercise that has you moving.  So do your bicep curls, 20 jumping jacks, do upright rows, 20 running in place, etc.  

Think about doing circuit training to work your whole body.  Circuit training is defined as combining resistance or endurance training with high intensity so that you build muscle at the same time you do cardio.  All the exercises in circuit training use multiple groups of muscles while getting the heart pumping.  Examples of exercises for circuit training include push-ups, squats, step-ups, stomach crunches, or kettle ball lifts.  

This type of exercise is known to help people break through plateaus that seem to plague us on our journey through life.  For best results, combine resistance training with continuous movement, remember to include rest so your body is able to rebuild muscles, choose exercises you enjoy, eat properly, and lift heavier weights.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, November 6, 2023

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?


Everywhere you look, there are all sorts of recommendations for a proper diet if you exercise regularly, or if you want to lose weight, or in general. If you go shopping, you see all sorts of protein bars, protein shakes, and foods with protein added. Over the years, I've seen different suggestions, so today, we'll look at the answer to this question. I have also seen it said that many people eat more protein than they really need.

Depending on the person, they should consume 10 to 30 percent of their calories as protein.  So if you need 2000 calories a day, you should eat between 200 and 700 grams of calories from protein.  In other terms, you should be eating between 50 to 175 grams of protein if you are under the age of 40.  This recommendation is based on eating meat, cheese, or other source.

Once you reach the age of 40 to 50, it is important to increase the amount of protein you consume because the body begins to lose muscle mass so you want to make sure to counter that by eating between 75 to 90 grams of protein.  In addition, if you exercise regularly, you also need to eat a bit more protein each day.

Now where do you get protein from in your diet.  Some of the healthiest sources are plant based from soy, nuts, seeds, beans, or lentils.  If you prefer you meat, look at lean meats such as skinless white chicken or turkey, fish or seafood, or low-fat dairy.  It is best to eat these rather than relying on supplements or protein bars, or drinks.

As far as eating protein, it is best to spread it out throughout the day so you are less likely to be hungry  or suffer from cravings.  Unfortunately, most people tend to eat the most protein at dinner and the least amount at breakfast.  It has been suggested that people eat between 15 and 30 grams of protein at each meal. 

It isn't hard to get that amount in a meal.  For instance, if you eat a banana, a serving of Greek yoghurt, and a hard boiled egg, you've consumed 19 grams of protein.  Try a 3 ounce chicken breast combined with 1/2 cup cooked rice and half a cup of vegetables, that is 25 grams.  You should always each protein with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

So it isn't hard to have a balanced diet while eating enough protein each day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, November 3, 2023

How To Take Up Running Or Jogging.

Do you want to take your exercise level up a bit and begin either jogging or running? If you do, it is important to take up this form of exercise, it is important to do correctly so you don't hurt yourself. Furthermore, one needs to do it step by step for the best results.

One of the first, most important things to do is to check with the doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to take up jogging or running.  This gives the doctor a chance to find medical problems that make it hard to run.  

Begin by walking briskly for 30 minutes every time for 8 to 12 weeks. As you get better at walking, begin with a gentle jog for say 5 minutes, then walk for a while before jogging for another 5 minutes.  As time progresses, jog for longer periods of time, alternating jogging with walking.  Eventually, you'll be jogging for the full 30 minutes.  Once you are used to jogging for 30 minutes, you can extend the time to 35 or 40 minutes.

If you want to move faster, begin by running for a couple minutes, and jogging for say 10 minutes, and run again.  As you get used to this, alternate longer periods of running with shorter periods of jogging until you are running for the 30 minutes.

Before you begin walking or jogging, it is important to both warm up and stretch fully so your body is less likely to be hurt.  At the end of the session, cool off with light stretching.  Always take a bottle of water with you so that you stay hydrated throughout the session.  

In addition, always include at two days of rest per week so you don't overdo things.  You want to make sure you don't hurt yourself.  If you want to do something on those two days, think of swimming or yoga.

Take time to plan your route so that you are traveling over grassy areas if possible since these do not hurt your joints as running on a hard surface.  Try to avoid running near or on roads because exhaust fumes can cause health problems.  If you do run near roadways, try to avoid running at peak periods so there is less air pollution. 

Always dress appropriately in clothing that causes moisture to go away from your skin.  Wear layers so you can take off something if you get to hot, or add it back on if you need to. Make sure you wear a good pair of shoes and cover any exposed areas with SPF.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Easy Ways To Improve Balance.


Sorry about this past Monday.  I didn't get a blog entry done because I was off traveling and my computer totally died.  So I am sorry about that. Today, we are looking at some easy ways to improve balance. The systems responsible for helping us maintain balance can be affected by aging or by certain medicines.  In addition, there are some health problems such as a stroke, arthritis, etc that can cause us to be unsteady.

There are things you can do to improve balance as you age.  If you walk, run, or climb stairs you are already strengthening your lower body but if you do have issues, look at getting a stair stepper to work on balance. 

Consider stretching your muscles which helps with posture and balance or look at including yoga in your regular workout so you can challenge both static and dynamic balance skills.  Throw in some tai chi because the shifting weight from one foot to another, twisting the trunk, and extending your limbs provides the body with certain challenges that help increase balance.

In addition, there are some simple exercises one can incorporate into your daily workout to help improve balance. They are recommended by the NHS.  One is to step sideways. To do this, have both feet next to each other with your weight equally balanced.  Move one foot out to the side and balance again, then move the other foot to join the one you just moved.  Repeat this 10 times in each direction or do it across the room and back. 

Try a simple grapevine. You remember that move from dancing?  You start by balancing equally on both feet.  Take you left foot out to the side and then place weight on it.  Take the right foot and move it to the front of the left foot, balance before moving the left foot out again and take the right foot and move it behind the left. Repeat across the room and back.

Practice heel to toe walking which is exactly what it sounds like.  You step forward by placing the left heel in front of the right toe.  Then take the right heel and place it in front of the left toe.  Repeat across the room.  This one requires your body use a lot of muscles to maintain your balance.

There is a one leg stand.  In this one you face the wall about an arms length away so your finger tips can touch if needed. Lift your right leg, and balance for 5 to 10 seconds before placing the right foot down and lifting the left leg up. Repeat and do 3 on each side.

These simple exercises can help you stop any deterioration in balance and get it back.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Are Superfoods Really Super?


You've seen all those claims about certain foods being "super". It is said they provide better nutrients for your healthy diet and lifestyle.  There are cookbooks, articles, and all sorts of things making claims on these foods.  I've seen them, I've tried a few but I also took time to research the topic with recognized health cites such as Harvard medical because they are more likely to have a objective view.  Any business selling these foods is going to try to advertise them in a way to make you want to buy.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no scientifically based or governmental regulated definition of superfoods. However, most foods that are advertised as such tend to offer higher levels. of certain nutrients, is said to prevent certain diseases, or is claimed to provide certain health benefits beyond the nutrients it contains.

The term itself appears to have originated in the early 20th century around the time of World War 1 as part of a food marketing campaign. It was used by the United Fruit Company to promote the bananas it imported into the United States.  They spoke about how nutritional they were, how they could be used, and so much more so people would buy it.

The term started to take off when it began appearing in medical journals as doctors began publishing their results of using bananas to treat various diseases such as celiac's disease or diabetes.  Even the American Medical Association used the term when they announced that a child who regularly ate bananas would either find relief from celiac's disease or be cured of it.  This all lead to a crazy banana diet.

In current times, with the vastness of social media and the internet, the announcement of a "superfood" spreads rapidly across the world.  Thus for people who sell the food, it can translate into multimillion dollar sales because people are willing to pay more for foods that are seen as healthier either naturally or via various claims. This is especially true of people who see food as medicine. In addition, when the food industry markets a food as a superfood, sales of that item are likely to increase so anything with superfood on the label is considered a hot product.  

There have been studies done on many of these superfoods to see how much of what nutrients they offer and their health properties but there haven't really been any studies done to see how these properties apply to a person's diet.  This is due to the fact that the laboratory conditions used to study the food are extremely difficult to apply to a person's diet. It has also been found that the benefits are often of short duration and people would have to eat frequent portions to experience the continued benefits. Finally, most studies look at the food in isolation, not in combination with other foods which is the normal way people consume these products.

Although superfoods are more national in general, the label seems to motivate sales and can cause people to ignore other foods and focus on a select few.  It is important to eat a wide variety of foods for the best nutrition, the best amount of vitamins and minerals, and is so much better for us. So rather than focusing on superfoods, look at eating a well balanced diet containing different foods.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Ways To Get More Out Of Your Walks.


Although fall is here and we are heading into winter in some parts of the country (including mine), many areas stay at nice temperatures so people can walk all year. The thing is, even if you walk inside at the mall, you can still use these tips to help you have a more effective walk and walking is considered a great form of exercise.  Walking is accessible to most people, is a low impact activity so there is less strain and stress on your joints, can help you lose weight, and improves your health. 

One of the things you can do is to walk with intention.  This means you should write down you weekly walking goals so you have a tangible plan for your walking.  I don't mean an entry like "walk for 30 minutes".  Instead write down the type of walk you are doing each day such as an interval walk, or a fun walk with a friend.  In addition, a walk should be as short as 15 minutes but it could be 45 minutes or even an hour depending on how far you want to do.

Next, think about varying your walk so that one day you are climbing hills while the next day, you are walking on the beach. You don't want to get bored following the same path every day.  When you change the grade of the walk, you are able to work other parts of the body such as the glutes and burn more calories.  If you walk on a treadmill, change the incline of the machine to replicate hills.  Try to maintain the same pace when walking on an incline to give your body a better workout.  If you walk in a mall, try going from one level to the next using stairs.

Furthermore, try to walk with a buddy because it makes it easier to stick with walking regularly.  It is much better to have someone to encourage you, have fun with, talk to so you are more likely to stick with it. When you walk with a buddy, there is also an accountability issue because you have to coordinate the walk with someone.  Remember, the walk doesn't have to be exactly at the same time everyday depending on the demands of the day.

If you can, incorporate interval training or alternating periods of harder and easier walking.  You might want to walk as fast as you can for a period of about 45 seconds and then slow down for a more leisurely walk for 30 seconds for the whole walk.  This type of walk helps increase your cardio health and endurance.

Work towards a personal best for some of your walks.  If you use a set trail on a regular basis, time how long it takes to complete the walk and then the next time you do it, try to beat that time so you increase your personal best.  You might start with beating your time by 5 seconds, then 10, then 15, etc so you have a goal of how much to beat the previous record by.  This helps you do it.

Since music is considered a great motivator, especially when it comes to exercising, think about listening to music as you walk.  Take time to plan your play list because you want music with a steady beat that will help you walk at a steady pace for endurance walks but you might want something with a faster beat if you are trying to make a new personal best.  Choose music you like and have a good time.  

If the weather is nice enough, try walking on trails so that you are walking on uneven trails, or even on dirt roads because it requires that you pay more attention to your surroundings, improves spacial awareness, and works on balance.  In addition, the uneven terrain helps you burn more calories, while strengthening the smaller stabilizing muscles.

Follow these seven suggestions to help you improve the efficacy of your walking workout.  Have fun and enjoy yourself.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.