Friday, September 29, 2023

Warm Healthy Drinks For Fall


Fall is coming and it is starting to get cooler.  I love having something hot to drink that is a bit different and does not involve alcohol.  I prefer non-alcoholic drinks because they rely the flavors of the ingredients to provide the enjoyment.

If you are a tea drinker, you might want to try a Matcha Latte. Matcha is that green Japanese a,  that is really good for you.  It requires 1.5 teaspoon  of green matcha powder. 1 tablespoon hot water, no more than 2 teaspoons of honey to sweeten, and 3/4 cup hot milk.  To get the best results use a milk frother than can be found on Amazon for not too much.  The way to make this is to sift the matcha powder into a cup. Add the hot water and whisk the mixture until there are no longer any lumps. Stir in the honey, then add in the milk and either whisk till frothy or use a milk frother.

You could step your hot chocolate up a bit to make it awesome.  First make a whipped cream by taking either 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, or 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed coconut cream.  Add in one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp of vanilla, and 2/3rds cup of chilled heavy cream.  Beat in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until reaches the soft peak stage or about one minute.  

Next make the hot chocolate by mixing a 13.5 can of coconut milk (that has been shaken or stirred) with 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, and  1/4 teaspoon salt. Place in a pan on medium heat and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and taste.  Adjust the flavors by adding a bit of powder, adding water, or sugar.  Let cool for three minutes before adding the vanilla.  Then pour into four cups and place 1/4th of the whipped chocolate cream on top 

Pumpkin spice latte is another great treat.  Take 1 cup almond milk but if you want to cut the calories on it, then use unsweetened almond milk.  Add in 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1/2 a cup of strongly brewed coffee. Mix it all together in a blender till done, pour into a medium sized pan and heat until simmering.  Top with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

What about some classic eggnog.  This recipe is without alcohol but you could add just a bit if you want.  You need one egg yolk, two whole eggs separated, two oranges zested, 1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 tespoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla.  

Whisk all the egg yolks together in one bowl until they become a lighter yellow.  In a separate bowl, which the egg whites, until they form stiff peaks. In a small pan over low heat, whisk together the milk, orange zest, sweetner, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook for 5 to 8 minutes.  Slowly pour the egg yolks into the steaming milk, while whisking continuously for three to four minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and just a bit of rum, if you want it.  Fold in egg whites, pour into cups, and sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon or nutmeg.

I'll return to this topic in the future and I'll take time to talk about fall based drinks that are not super cold but hit the spot.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Boosting Your Immune System.

Sorry about Monday.  I spent the weekend with chills that hit about every 6 hours.  I had a very unsettled weekend.  Even now, I'm over most of the symptoms but I still have a nasty fever by the end of work and I go home and sleep.  This illness, lead to the idea of boosting your immune system since a healthy immune system.  

The first thing to know is that the immune system is a system that works together to fight against disease and illness.  It is important to keep the whole system balanced and in harmony with itself.  This can make it difficult to boost your system.

There are things you can do to help strengthen your immune system. One of the best things you can do is to choose a healthy lifestyle.  Don't smoke, eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly while maintaining a healthy weight. If you drink, only drink a little. Make sure you get enough sleep and wash your hands a lot as a way of avoiding becoming infected.  

Unfortunately, there is an idea that you can buy a product which will help increase the number of cells that deal with keeping you healthy.  This just won't work.  The athletes who dope their blood to increase the number of blood cells run the risk of experiencing a stroke.  As far as the immune system, there are so many different types of cells involved that increasing the number of cells cannot be done. 

In addition, as we age, our body's response to infection becomes reduced.  This means older people are more likely to become sick and die from them.  One theory is that people lose T-cells as they age and it is the T-cells that are designed to fight off infections.  This is supported by the fact that people who are over 65 when they  receive a vaccination, do not produce immunity at the same rate as other ages.

Another issue is when people are under stress.  Stress tends to inhibit the immune systems ability to protect itself.  So as you can see, the best way to boost your immune system is to stay healthy, eat well, sleep well, exercise, and get rid of as much stress as possible.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Friday, September 22, 2023

What Exercise To Do When It Is Too Cold To Walk Outside.

 It is winter and it is cold outside.  It is too cold to do much outside or it is snowing so hard, you have a blizzard.  You want to work out but can't do it outside so what can you do to get that regularly scheduled exercise in. There are some alternatives that cost money and others that are totally free. Some require you drive a bit while others allow you to do something where you are.  

One of my favorite alternatives is to head to the mall early in the morning, before all the stores open.  I love walking around and around.  It's almost like doing speed walking window shopping. Many malls allow walkers in so they can get their exercise before the stores open.  

Another possibility is to use the building you work in or your multistory house.  Think about walking up and down the stairs several times for a great workout. Research shows that climbing helps strengthen and tone your legs so you become stronger and your legs look better.  Although you could do stair lunges, or stair crawls, just walking up and down the stairs is enough to get a good cardio workout.

Get up and walk around the house or building.  When I worked in an office in my 20's, I often walked to the bathroom across the building or on another floor so I could get a bit more exercise. At home, I'd take the stairs up to the second floor bathroom if I was downstairs, or go downstairs if I was upstairs.  I'd try to find the longest route I could.  I was even known for delivering work by taking the longest way around or even do a couple of laps before stopping at the office.  

Movement is important.  If you don't have time to walk, think about pacing across the room if you are in a conference, rather than sitting through them.  When you move around, you are doing so much good for your health and for the health of your brain.  Another thing is to look at doing a bit of yoga to help stretch muscles.  For instance, circle your head so you are giving your neck a great stretch, or roll your shoulders forward or backwards so the muscles don't cramp. You could also bend to the left with your right hand over your head and then reverse it.  When you spend all your time sitting, your muscles can get tired and need stretching.

You might consider getting a membership to a gym that is near work, near your house, or is on the routing home.  You also need to make sure the gym offers activities you want, at the level you want.  On Monday, I'll do into more details about what to look for in a gym.  For me, I have a university that is closer and they do allow towns people to buy memberships so you can pop in and swim or take classes, workout, or use their equipment.  There are also park and rec departments that offer so really nice activities for much less than a gym.  

If the weather gets too cold, know that there are alternatives available so you don't have to walk out in the super cold air.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Walking During The Winter

 It is mid September, heading into October.  For many of us, that signals that it is heading into fall and winter isn't too far behind.  Up here in Alaska, the temperatures start dropping the middle of August in many parts, and the snow isn't far behind.  I've seen multiple feet of snow fall by this time of the year.  Today, I'm looking at walking outside during the winter and on Friday, I'll address the issue of walking in areas where it is too cold to walk outside. We'll look at your alternatives.

So if the temperature isn't too bad, then you might want to continue walking outside because there are some benefits to exercising outside. Even though the temperature is a bit colder, you are still enjoying fresh air and sunshine when you are outside.  This can really help your mood and you are less likely to suffer from the winter blues.

In addition, when you are out in the sunlight you are getting Vitamin D.  Research indicates that when you spend 5 to 30 minutes outside each week, you will get all the Vitamin D your body needs. This is important because it is difficult to absorb Vitamin D from the sunlight that comes in through a window.

When you walk outside, your body is more effectively burning calories because your body is trying to stay warm so it uses more energy. Thus if you take a nice walk at a great pace, you use calories and you can end up losing weight more quickly.  Furthermore, there are studies that indicate you are activating your immune system when you walk outside in the winter.  Just think, a short 30 minute walk outside, can help you keep from getting winter colds. 

A nice winter walk can also give you a boost of energy without needing to take any caffeine.  In fact, research suggests that the energy boost you get will keep you going for three to four hours after the walk. There is also research to indicate that walking outside, can change the fat from white to a lovely brown.  A brown colored fat is said to be better for our metabolism and the white fat is not good for us.

In addition, when you are outside in the cold and snow, the scenery is so different from what you normally see the rest of the year.  You will see things, you've never noticed before and there is nothing prettier than fresh snow sparkling around you as you walk.  Furthermore, the air is much cleaner in the winter so everything smells so much fresher.  Also in winter, there are fewer allergy causing items in the air so you are less likely to have issues.

Finally, all the fresh air combined with the extra demand on calories can help us sleep so much better at night.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. On Friday, keep an eye open for ideas of how to walk when the temperature outside is too cold for you.  Have a great day. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Exercises You Can Do In The Office


Some days, we barely have enough time to exercise while other times you just want to get some exercise done because you need it. If you work in an office, you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk in a cubbyhole or in a small office.  Often times, you are expected to work without taking much of a break but there are things you can do to fit in a bit of exercise here and there, even in an office.

Many of these exercises can be done with little to no equipment.  The first few exercises require the use of a chair, one without wheels.  First is one for the triceps.  Sit with  a chair behind you, Put your palms on the chair, with fingers facing away from you, with your feet on the ground in front of you. Raise yourself up so your arms are straight up with your bottom is off the ground.  Then lower yourself till you are almost parallel to the ground before returning to the starting position.  Repeat this 10 times.

Next try a desk pushup.  You want to stand so your hands are on the front edge of the desk with your feet two to three feet away.  Your hands should be slightly wider than your shoulders with your arms straight. Lower yourself slowly till your chest is almost to the desk, then return to the starting position.  Repeat 10 times.

Then try some calf raises.  Stand by the desk or your chair, resting your hands on either the top of the chair or the desk.  Rise onto your toes, hold at the top of the rise for a couple of seconds, and then return to having flat feet.  Repeat 10 times.  

A nice exercise for your lower legs is to perform a squat.  Stand so your chair is right behind your feet.  Slowly sit down till you are almost in the chair before standing up. Repeat at least 10 times.  Follow this with a plank where you lean on either the chair or the desk so your feet are straight out behind you.  Your forearms are on the chair or desk with the fingers clasped together.  Hold this position for 10 seconds.  Then shift slightly to do a side plank by having only one forearm on the chair or desk and have your body straight.  Raise the other hand towards the ceiling and hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.

These few exercises can be done during a short break so they won't take time out of your daily schedule and they will leave your feeling so much better.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Friday, September 15, 2023

What Is A Flexitarian Diet?


It seems like every time you turn around, there is some new diet fad raging through the population.  There is paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, whole foods, and so many more.  Personally, I've been following a vegetarian diet because it works well for me.  Over the past year or so, I've been seeing the term flexitarian, so I thought it was time to investigate that particular term.  

By definition, flexitarian is a combination of the two terms - flexible and vegetarian.  It does allow you to enjoy animal products some of the time, so its not as strict as some of the other diets.

As far as diets go, it is considered among the healthiest diets, just behind the Mediterranean diet. because it is simple, straightforward, and healthy.  It isn't as fussy as some other diets.  This way of eating has you consuming a lot of beans, grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts but you are allowed to enjoy the occasional piece of meat.  This is great for those who cannot give up their meat entirely.

In addition, this is not a typical diet with a start and stop date.  It does not require you to weigh or measure every serving but it does place a larger emphasis on a plant based diet with less saturated fats and such.  There are some restrictions on the amount of meat you eat during the week and that mainly depends on how much meat you eat.  The recommended amount is between 9 and 28 ounces of meat per week.  So being a flexitarian has you cutting down on the amount of meat you eat per week.

This diet has three stages to help ease you into being a full time flexitarian.  The first step is to skip eating meat, twice a week.  Instead replace the meat with some sort of plant based dish like beans and rice, meatless pasta, or even pizza without any meat.  So instead of eating meat 7 nights a week, you'll only have it 5 nights.

The second stage has you cutting back on meat even further so you enjoy a full vegetarian diet for three to four days a week.  On the days you eat meat, you shouldn't have more than a total of 18 ounces.  To give you an idea of size, a playing card sized piece of chicken or steak is about 3 ounces.  The final stage requests you enjoy a full vegetarian diet for 5 of the days.  On the other 2 days, you shouldn't consume more than a total of 9 ounces.  So about 4.5 ounces each day.

As far as the meat you consume, it is recommended you eat organic, free-range, pasture raised, or grass fed beef, chicken, or turkey.  No matter what, look at the leaner parts so you are not eating that much fat.  If you like fish, look at eating fish that is caught in the wild rather than farmed.

Some of the benefits include decreased heart disease, weight loss, decreased risk of diabetes 2, and being healthier overall.  Be aware though that when you cut back on eating meat, you might find you are deficient in iron, B12, zinc, or calcium.  

Make sure you chose to eat foods that have undergone the least amount of processing, with no added sugar or extra salt, Otherwise enjoy fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, grains, plant based milks, etc so you get the best diet you can eat. It is important to replace meat with these items and not just stock up on frozen pizza, and canned pasta.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Ways To Become Mentally Fit

In todays world it is easy to eat properly, exercise regularly, but we sometimes forget to keep our selves mentally fit.  It is especially important as you age so you delay getting dementia or Alzheimer's and are able to age gracefully.  Today we'll look at ways you can become mentally fit and maintain that fitness.  

When we are mentally fit, we have more opportunity to respond to a specific situation, thus causing us less emotional or relational injury. An example might be when you are with a friend who says something to you in anger.  Normally, you want to immediately respond in kind but if you are mentally fit, you have the opportunity to pause and think about how you will respond so you may not have to mend fences later.

The advantages of being mental fit include being present so we are better able to retain information, listen better and enjoy life more, helps us respond rather than react because we have more control over automatic thoughts, improved cognitive functionality, have a more positive outlook so we are more optimistic, much more positive while developing positive habits, and finally, sleep better at night.

There are several ways we can become mentally fit.  This means we exercise our brains by practicing mindfulness through meditation or other process. Think about doing this about 10 to 15 minutes every single day.  Notice if any thoughts pass by and if you need to reframe them from negative to positive.  In addition, start a gratitude journal where you list things you are grateful for.  It might be as simple as listing 3 positive things that happened during the day.

Start exercising regularly since the mind and body are connected. Working out helps relax the mind while releasing tension and stress. Drink lots of water every single day and include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet as all of these help your brain. Use your mind to determine three things you did during the day such as moving from sitting to standing - knowing when you did it.  This is something we do automatically and it helps us become more aware of our thinking.

Practice savoring your first cup of coffee, the sun rise, eating a meal, or even crawling into bed after a long day.  This is a way to slow down and enjoy something you might otherwise rush through. You might also want to sit down, notice your breath so you are more aware of yourself.  Take your time, enjoy yourself.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Food Myths Debunked!


Food.  Glorious Food. Most of us have a bit of a love hate relationship with it in that we love the food but we don't want to eat too much.  I enjoy cooking but since there is only really me, its hard to make much of it at once.  I love trying new recipes but I still have the things my mom told me in the back of my mind.  Some of these things fall within the food myth category.

One of those myths I heard growing up is the one that there is nothing better than fresh produce for your health.  My mother mentioned it a lot as she commented that she couldn't afford all the fresh produce and had to use either canned or frozen since it lasted longer.  There is research out there that says that canned, frozen, or dried produce can be as good as fresh.  It is important to read labels to make sure there is no added sugar, salts, or oils that make an otherwise healthy item into something that isn't as healthy.

Along this vein is the idea that one should only use unrefined sugars such as honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar because they are healthier due to have additional vitamins and minerals. That isn't quite true because the amount of vitamins and minerals are extremely small and they are a sugar.  Sugar is sugar no matter what and too much is not good for us.

There is also a rumor out there that says one must cut out all fat because it is better for your heart and overall health.  The food industry has replaced fat with sugar and salt to help maintain the flavor lost when the fat was taken out. In fact, it is important to consume healthy fats so you have energy, are able to absorb certain nutrients, to support cell function while helping to produce certain hormones.  

Of course, my mother was great at following the rule about counting calories to lose or maintain weight but it isn't calories that is the only thing to look at.  It is much more important to eat healthy foods.  Look at quality over quantity.  I saw a infographic that showed a small plate.  Half of it was devoted to veggies and greens, one quarter to grains etc, and the last quarter to protein as the best way to eat.  

There is another myth that if you want to lose weight you avoid all carbs.  Many of these low carb diets restrict or eliminate all fruit and grains which are good for you. If people eliminate processed carbohydrates found in cookies, cakes, or soda, they are likely to lose weight.  It is not good when a diet eliminates one class of food.

One thing my doctor told me was that I couldn't eat anything white including potatoes.  I was not allowed to have any potatoes because they aren't good for my health.  According to John Hopkins, potatoes are good for you with Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and other nutrients but they should be eaten with the skins on because the skins have nutrients. They should be fixed by baking, air frying, boiling, and roasting.  Furthermore, they are available in the grocery store year round.

Another myth is that certain foods such as apple cider vinegar, grapefruit juice, or cayenne peppers will help your body burn calories.  There are no foods which will make your body burn more calories. What really happens is that diets recommending these foods eliminate others and that is what causes your body to lose weight.  When you add the missing foods back in, you are likely to gain the weight back.

These are just some of the food myths out there.  Remember, check to see if the food advice you get is actually good or a myth.  You want to take the best care of yourself and want to eat as healthy as possible.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Do You Need A Mental Health Day?

Have you ever taken a mental health day?  I haven't, mostly because I grew up in a household that didn't believe in such a thing.  I do know folks who have taken a mental health day and they've freely admitted to it.  In fact, since COVID, more people have recognized the need for such a day.  A mental health day is defined as taking a limited amount of time away from your responsibilities with the express goal of renewing yourself.  It is also important to take the day off before things reach a point of exploding.  If you wait till you are too stressed, the mental health day will not be as effective.
Furthermore, a mental health day does not have to take a full day.  It might just involve a few hours in the afternoon.  Taking a mental health day also recommended for children and teens to help them with stress. 

Unfortunately, people are suffering from burnout more right now and a mental health day is an important step to help people destress and cope with everything.  Burnout can effect your sleep, energy, focus, self-esteem, and being able to spend time with family and friends.  In addition, it is well known that working more hours at work can lead to anxiety, trouble sleeping and even depression.

There are some signs you can look for that will help you determine if you need a mental health day.  If you are suffering from these symptoms, think about taking some time to yourself so you can recouperate.

l. You are feeling much more run down and getting sick or having colds more often.

2. You feel tired all day long. It feels like you could take a nap at any point during the day.

3 You feel highly resentful or are easily irritated.

4. You react negatively to small changes or requests.

5. You have low self-confidence, low self esteem, or low self-efficacy.

6. You find it difficult to concentrate.  You feel really foggy.

7. You are easily distracted or feeling restless.

8. You have difficulty sleeping.

9. You are no longer interested in the activities you once loved.

10. You skimp on self care such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

When you hit a point where you find it difficult to function each day, it is time to stop and think about taking a mental health day. Don't wait till you burnout, take some time off when you start noticing a few of these symptoms so you can help recharge yourself.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Ways To Improve Your Mindset.

We all have a certain mindset we meet the day with.  Mindset is defined as how your mental attitude is as you interpret and respond to various situations.  You might hear mindset referred to as mental attitude, outlook, or other such terms. 

Mindset matters because it helps the person make decisions and helps determine a point of view. .  If they have a positive mindset, they are more likely to prioritize mental health and self improvement.  It allows people to step outside their comfort zone. Those with a negative mindset feed into self-doubt with negative thoughts.  

 Although we each have a certain mindset, there are five things which make up the mindset.  They are self-efficacy, locus of control, belief about our capabilities, motivation, and level of resistance. 

In order to change your mindset, it is important to decide to change it as the first step.  Even if you have a negative mindset, it is possible to change the mindset to a positive one.  Understand, this change will take time and it varies from person to person.  There are five ways to change your mindset.

First, embrace change by making new friends, quitting your current job and moving to one you like better, or move to a new place.  This one may be logistically harder but if you embrace it, it will be easier.  

Second, set attainable goals. Break the goals into smaller pieces so that they are smaller steps.  Write these goals out and put the goals where you will regularly see them and are able to determine how much progress you are making towards the goals. As you  make a goal, you can cross it off.  

Third, surround yourself with people who are encouraging, rather than pessimists because their positivity is likely to rub off on you. This positivity is more likely to help you change your attitude.

Fourth, include daily exercise because exercise helps you think more clearly, improves your mood, and makes you feel more positive. Exercise often helps change your attitude and in turn your mindset changes.

Fifth, talk to a friend.  Making changes to your mindset can be difficult and if you have a friend to talk to, you can express your feelings.  If not a friend, share with a therapist, or think about writing your feelings in a journal if you are private and don't want to share with anyone.  This helps get rid of doubt and clears the way for improving your mindset.

These are five easy ways to help change and improve your mind set.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Color Depositing Shampoo.

 I just ran across something called color depositing shampoos at the store.  I'd never run into them before so I don't know if it is something new or if it has been around for a while but has only made it to my local store.  The biggest difference between regular hair dye and color depositing shampoo is that the regular dye goes inside the surface of the hair strand while the shampoo deposits color on the outside.  This means a color depositing shampoo is not as strong as a regular dye.

A color depositing shampoo is a shampoo with specific ingredients that either temporarily deposit color or eliminate unwanted undertones. It is important to read the labels on color depositing shampoos to see what they are designed for.  A purple shampoo is often used to eliminate brassiness, a green one is good to neutralize red, and more.

In addition, a color depositing shampoo can help keep your color brighter longer so you don't have to re-dye your hair as often.  The length that the color  from color depositing shampoo lasts, depends on several factors but it is important to read the directions so you know you are using the product correctly. Since it deposits color, it is important to use gloves so you don't stain your skin from applying it.

The frequency you use a color depositing shampoo depends on the shampoo. Some are made to be used every day while others can only be used once or twice a week. There are a few that are designed to only be used every couple of weeks and you would wash your hair with regular shampoo in between.  This information is found on the back.  

In general, you only need to have the product on your hair for between 3 to 10 minutes, depending on how much color you want.  If you need a bit of color, you might only leave it on for 3 minutes but if you need more, you'd leave it for 10 minutes. Furthermore, it is said to cover unbleached gray hair quite well.

As stated earlier, color depositing shampoo is great to use between the times you have your hair dyed.  It helps keep the shade vibrant and while keeping your hair glossy.  In addition to using gloves to protect your hands, make sure you rinse the shower immediately after using to keep the pigments from staining the shower.  

So if you want your color to last longer, or cover grey, consider using color depositing shampoo.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.