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Burn More Calories in Less Time

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Though you may not be aware, you are probably like most people in America and consume at least a hundred calories more than you need each day. If this is the case and you don’t feel you can cut down on your calorific intake, then what you need to do is incorporate a couple of short bursts of extra activity into your day to burn them off. If you want to increase your chances of maintaining a healthy weight there are a few ways you can burn extra calories and dropping a few extra pounds without having to go on a strict diet, in fact, you'll hardly notice at all.  Here are a few simple changes you can make and with just a little effort you will soon begin to notice results.

Quick tips for burning calories:

• Avoid the temptation of taking the elevator at work. Climbing the stairs is great for toning your calf and thigh muscles and in just five minutes you will have burned about 140 calories.
• If the weather’s great at the weekend why not get into the garden and do a spot of weeding. You can use up 250 calories in an hour and your garden will look great. Put the leaf blower away and rake your lawn that will use up another 50 calories in just 30 minutes.
• Don't spend your lunch break in the cafeteria, go and do some window shopping. Just an hour of walking can burn 250 calories or more.
• Forget the car wash, save your quarters and lose some calories. Washing the car by hand will consume 280 calories and hour.
• Put some music on and get on down. Dancing is a great way to elevate your mood and also burns at least 180 calories and hour.

 Quick tips to shed a few pounds:

• Use fat free milk instead of whole or skimmed milk.
• Opt for low fat or fat free salad dressings they are just as tasty.
• If you drink soda, replace regular soda with a sugar free substitute.
• Keep fast food to a bare minimum. Make it something you treat yourself to once a month.
• When you're snaking between meals choose fruit and vegetables rather than chips and cookies.
• Use low fat spreads instead of butter or full fat cream cheese.

Quick tips for curbing your cravings:


• Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Many people are dehydrated without knowing it, this makes your body store extra water which adds a few extra pounds.
• Cravings typically last about ten minutes so do something to distract yourself like exercise or read a book.
• Always keep healthy snacks at hand.
• Don’t be tempted to skip meals; this will always backfire because you'll end up over-compensating later.

By incorporating a few of these tips per week you can maximize your results while being more efficient with your time.

Here's to your wellness,


Best and Worst Foods for Pain

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According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, around 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. We all know how important a healthy diet is, but you may not be aware that if you suffer from chronic pain, what you eat can help ease your discomfort or can exacerbate it even more. Here’s a rundown on food items than can help eliminate pain and those to avoid.

Pain-busting Foods

Salmon

Salmon is easy to digest and metabolize and is a plentiful source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation within the body that leads to pain. It also offers protection against a range of diseases including, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. As well as helping control pain, this fatty fish can help your brain function better and improve your memory.

Turmeric

This mouthwatering Indian spice has anti-inflammatory properties and can thereby help reduce pain, although the effects will be very mild. The active ingredient is curcumin. Curcumin’s other health benefits include reducing the risk of tumor growth, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil has very similar effects on the body as omega-3 fatty acids to, by reducing pain-causing inflammation. It is beneficial for those suffering from fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that consuming two tablespoons of olive oil relives joint pain as effectively as 200mg of ibuprofen.

Pain-increasing Foods

Sugar

Chronic pain sufferers should limit their intake of sugar as much as possible. Sugar steals minerals from the bones and joints and increase inflammation, which will exacerbate conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
 
Caffeine

Because fibromyalgia often causes disrupted sleep, sufferers sometimes try to compensate by drinking caffeinated beverages. However in the long run this will do more harm than good as excessive caffeine can increase pain.

Fatty Meats

Fatty meats, like pork or beef the dark meat from chicken and turkey with the skin on can increase inflammation due to their high content of cholesterol and saturated fat. This can cause flare-ups in suffers of chronic pain conditions.

By adding the pain-busting foods to your diet and trying to avoid or reduce the use of pain-increasing foods, it will help to minimize your discomfort.

Here's to your wellness,


Is It Legal to Sell Unsafe Meat?

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Consumer surveys show that 45 percent of Americans believe it is illegal to sell meat or poultry that is contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. That means nearly half of us are wrong…perhaps dead wrong.

Ninety-two percent of chicken carcasses are contaminated with fecal residue when they leave slaughtering facilities, and half of retail poultry samples are contaminated with strains of bacteria commonly linked to human urinary tract infections and food poisonings.

Analyses conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System demonstrate that meat and poultry products on the U.S. retail market are frequently contaminated with multidrug-resistant species of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus, and E. coli. On average, half of all meat samples tested are also contaminated with staphylococcal bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

These are the same organisms that keep infectious disease specialists awake at night and worry the epidemiologists who roam the vaunted corridors of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. The bugs that are finding their way to our tables can be lethal, and they don’t always respond to medical therapy.

The widespread use of antibiotics, the use of intestine-tearing hooks to open the abdominal cavities of slaughtered animals, and other common meat-industry practices are undoubtedly at the root of these alarming statistics. Unfortunately, not much is being done to correct the situation.

When pressed about the public health hazards of marketing contaminated meat, industry officials claim that it would be prohibitively expensive to adopt processing methods that eliminate bacterial contamination. Oddly enough, though, other developed countries seem to have a better handle on this problem, and their citizens can still purchase meat without taking out a second mortgage. (In Sweden, for example, it is illegal to sell poultry contaminated with Salmonella, which is the leading cause of food-poisoning fatalities in the United States.)

And, if you pose the same questions to the folks who are in charge of food safety and production policies in the U.S. (namely, the United States Department of Agriculture) you’re likely to be handed a pamphlet that warns of the dangers of undercooked meat — but there will probably be some great barbecuing recipes on the back. According to the USDA, “safety” is in the hands of the preparer.

In other words, if you (or your kids) get sick from eating contaminated meat, it’s your fault.

Here's to your wellness,


Portion Distortion (Correct Food Portions)

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It’s no wonder that more than two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. According to the National Institutes of Health, we’re piling a lot more food on our plates than we were 20 years ago. In fact, the portions of food you consume at any given meal might be sufficient to feed two or even three people.

Now, before you get huffy and start pointing fingers at the food and beverage industry, take a moment to go to your pantry, pull a can of soup, chili, fruit, vegetables or tuna from the shelf, turn it over, and peruse the “Nutrition Facts” section of the label. Direct your attention to where it says “Serving Size” and “Servings per Container.” If you’re like many people, you’ve just discovered that a can of soup (or whatever) contains enough servings for a couple of meals…maybe more. So, unless you’re illiterate or visually impaired, there’s only so much blame you can heap on the shoulders of the food packagers.

We need to make some important distinctions before we proceed: a serving size is a measured amount of a specific food or beverage — one-half cup, one ounce, 20 pieces, 5 chips, etc. The serving sizes posted on cans, boxes, bags and bottles are extrapolated from an agglomeration of population-based data that estimates the daily caloric needs of healthy, normal-weight people.  In contrast, a portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at any one sitting. A ‘portion’ is the consumer-controlled lever on the calorie mill. Thus, you can limit yourself to the single serving specified on a product’s label, or you can eat a whole can (or bag, or box) containing multiple servings.

It doesn’t require a degree in linear analysis to see that people who consistently consume larger portions (i.e., several servings) are ingesting more calories than they need.

This isn’t to say the food industry isn’t complicit in the “portion distortion” phenomenon. Two decades ago, a bagel was approximately 3 inches in diameter. Today’s bagels are twice that size. Likewise, soft drinks are now available in bigger bottles, modern fast-food burgers contain nearly twice as many calories and restaurant meals arrive on bigger plates — fully occupied, of course. Alas, human physiology hasn’t changed to accommodate this onslaught of calories. In other words, serving sizes haven’t magically increased. And, since most of us are far less active than our predecessors, the larger portions we’re consuming are exposing us to higher caloric intake in the face of decreased caloric expenditure.

From a mathematical viewpoint (though not necessarily a behavioral one) it’s relatively easy to control your portions when you’re consuming prepackaged items: serving sizes are prominently posted on labels, and you just follow directions. It’s a bit more difficult when you’re dining out, because most of us tend to eat whatever we’re served. (This is one compelling reason to prepare your own meals whenever possible.) However, if you assume you’re being served more than you really need — which is a good bet — it’s a simple matter to ask for a doggy bag or cut your sandwich in half, thereby converting your restaurant meal into two or three portions. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll leave some food on your plate.

While your waistline will undoubtedly shrink if you cut back on portion sizes, you might just find your food budget diminishing, too.

Here's to your wellness,


Controlling your Cravings

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Despite your best intentions you  may find yourself craving pancakes loaded with syrup for breakfast, you may have difficulty making it through dinner without following your with a dessert loaded with sugar, and you may struggle to eat a cookie or two without plowing through the whole packet.
 
Many people find it almost impossible not to succumb to their food cravings, even though they know they are making unhealthy choices. But where do these cravings come from? Though food cravings sometimes seem overwhelming, they do not actually amount to an addiction, but neither do they stem from basic hunger. When you are genuinely hungry you will eat almost anything, whereas cravings tend to be directed towards very specific foods. Whether it’s a bag of chips while you’re watching TV or you get up in the middle of the night for a bowl of ice cream. Cravings are often linked to an imbalance in your daily diet, a less than healthy lifestyle or your emotional state.
 
You may already be aware that the foods you crave for most strongly are snacks loaded with fat and sugar. This has little to do with the nutritional content of the foods but is mainly because they take little or no time to prepare and you get instant satisfaction. Your favorite snacks may also depend on your emotional connection to them.

What can you do to curb cravings before they get out of hand? Here are some tips to help you regain control.

• One of the first steps is to avoid temptation. Stop buying trigger foods like cookies, ice cream or potato chips.
• When you do have cravings, instead of eating trigger foods, drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack like nuts, fruit or low-fat yogurt.
• Stress can be a big trigger, so work on reducing stress levels by getting more exercise or practicing relaxation techniques.
• Brushing your teeth can help. If your mouth is feeling clean and fresh, you’ll be less inclined to mess it up.

Don’t eliminate all your treats, this will only set you up for binge eating. Allow yourself one of your favorite foods now and again and eat them in moderation.

Here's to your wellness,


Breaking Bad Eating Habits

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When it comes to food, most people are creatures of habit. They eat the same types of meal on a regular basis and usually purchase the ingredients from the same store. Though this may seem just a normal part of your daily routine, if you are serious about maintaining a healthy weight and improving your health, you made need to start thinking very differently about your eating habits.  If you’re determined, this shouldn’t be as hard as you may imagine.

The important thing to remember at the outset is to try not to make too many changes too soon, otherwise you will begin to feel overwhelmed and you’ll soon revert back to your previous habits. Here are some tips to get you on the right track:

• Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night at a regular time; insufficient sleep can lead to overeating.
• Start each day with a light but healthy breakfast so you won’t be fatigued and ravenous by lunch time.
• Eat each meal at the dining table or in your lunch room so you won’t be distracted from chewing your food properly and allowing it time to digest.
• Try to eat as many meals as you can in the company of your partner or family.
• Do not prepare overly-large portions. Make sure you recognize when you are full and stop eating, even if there is some food left on your plate.
• Replace your dairy products with low-fat alternatives.
•  If you enjoy sandwiches, switch to whole-grain bread and skip the mayo.
• Try baking, grilling or poaching instead of frying.
• If you want to treat yourself to calorie-laden foods like pizza, have a small slice and fill up on salad or soup.

Another very important factor to consider is snacking. If you constantly graze between meals, you should to adjust your habit. One or two healthy snacks between your main meals are fine, but watch out or you may end up over-eating. Replace typical snack foods like pretzels, chips and cookies with fruit slices, nuts, seeds or raw vegetables with a low-fat dip. Also keep your eye on how much you snack while watching TV. In general, people who eat in front of the box eat up to 60 percent more than when they are not distracted. If you must eat while viewing, give yourself a small portion of a healthy snack to sit down with, rather than a sack or chips or large bowl of popcorn.

Here's to your wellness,


Fasting Fast Asleep

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Purists might not agree with what I’m about to say, but you don’t have to be awake to fast. For purists like Niklaus Brantschen—Zen Master and author of Fasting: What · Why · How, fasting is more than just the “passive process of not eating when asleep.” But if you think about the word breakfast and its literal meaning (“Breaking the Fast”) or what every nurse or doctor might ask you before a simple blood test—“are you fasting?” it’s easy to understand why one would conclude that we all fast while sleeping.

It’s easy to understand why purists prefer fasting awake to fasting asleep too. After all, purists agree that fasting is about awareness first, blood purification, fitness, and inner tuning. Others may do it for religious reasons or all in the name of increasing longevity. But, if we revisit that simple question mentioned above, then yes, we’re all fasting fast asleep simply because we’re not eating or drinking during these peaceful hours.

The body enters a state of fasting all on its own and this is certainly a good thing. These nightly fasting periods allow the body to continue processing the day’s food and drink intake, and help prepare what the body doesn’t need for disposal. Fasting also allows the body’s systems to settle down—if only for a brief period.

Speaking of time periods, FYI—some say that in order for the body to enter a state of fasting, the fast must last for at least 12 hours. According to the Communities in Action (CIA) Ramadan Health Guide, fasting is complete abstinence from food and drink between dawn and dusk, and a Chicago-based M.D. mentioned that four to six hours is a long enough “fast,” prior to taking many tests and in preparation for a multitude of procedures.

Now, if fasting wide awake on a set schedule sounds a bit more intriguing to you, you can do it safely by checking with your doctor first to make sure you are healthy enough to fast, then think carefully about what type of fast you want to do. On the moderate side, some people fast from certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, dairy, meat, or sugar. At the mid-range is the popular juice fast, which allows for carefully planned liquid “meals,” but solids are forbidden. On the extreme side is fasting for several weeks or more. This type of fasting allows for water only.

Total fasting (the ultimate extreme), involves abstaining from both food and water for extended periods (typically, 24/7 for weeks). This is extremely dangerous, as the body needs at least two to two and a half quarts of water daily for proper functioning. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and damage to the tissues will result if you abstain from water intake.

If you’ re brand new to fasting, most veteran fasters recommend starting with a juice fast and only for several days. You can work your way up, gradually over time. By choosing a juice fast instead of an all water fast, the body will get the fluids it needs, PLUS all of the nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, and phytochemicals it needs. These beneficials help neutralize toxins and give the fuel you need to make it through the day. While the cosmetic benefits of a juice fast (or any fast for that matter) may sound appealing (yes, you will lose “weight”), much of the weight loss is temporary because a large percentage of it will be water weight. Once you resume eating solid foods, the weight will return, albeit gradually.

Here's to your wellness,


To Go Organic or Not

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In the 15 years between 1996 and 2011, the US market for organic foods grew from $3.5 billion to nearly $30 billion annually. Organic foods have gone from being farmers’ market fare to being big business. However, many shoppers opt for organic items with only a vague notion of the difference between “organic” and “non-organic.”

To be certified as organic, plant foods must come from farms that have not been exposed to synthetic insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers for at least three years before harvest, and there must be a sufficient buffer zone between an organic farm and adjacent lands to decrease contamination. Genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge are prohibited during the cultivation, growth or processing of organic crops.

Organic livestock must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics or growth-inducing hormones, and livestock feed must be free of these contaminants. While vaccinations and vitamin and mineral supplements can be used in raising organic livestock, any animal treated with antibiotics cannot be sold as organic. Animals on organic farms must be provided with access to the outdoors.

In the United States, organic farming is overseen by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). A subsidiary of the USDA – the National Organic Program (NOP) – establishes labeling and production standards that govern the American organic food industry. (It’s worth mentioning that the NOP’s standards are subject to modification following input from the National Organic Standards Board, which seats individuals from large organizations like General Mills and ConAgra.)

When compared to conventionally produced foodstuffs, organic diets expose consumers to fewer of the pesticides that are known to be harmful to humans. Furthermore, organic farming has fewer environmental impacts than conventional farming methods. However, current scientific data does not demonstrate any consistent nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods, nor is there any convincing evidence that “going organic” prevents disease or confers specific health benefits.

Without question, the operative phrase in this discussion is “current scientific data.” Meaningful epidemiologic studies – those that allow scientists to draw valid conclusions about long-term health issues – require observing hundreds or thousands of people for years or even decades. To date, the connection between organic diets and long-term human health outcomes simply hasn’t been adequately explored. While it seems intuitive that people will be healthier if they’re exposed to fewer harmful chemicals, scientists (a compulsive, persnickety bunch) demand empirical proof. So – as far as your health is concerned – it will probably be years before there’s any “evidence-based” support for consuming an organic diet.

In the meantime, if you choose organic you’ll have to be content with knowing that you and your children aren’t a walking chemistry lesson, and you can always take solace from the notion that you’re imposing less pressure on our increasingly strained planet. 

Here's to your wellness,


Feeling Over-caffeinated? Try These Four Alternate Energy Boosters

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You’ve made it to the end of another tough week: just one more round of tedious meetings to wade through before you kick off your weekend. As you head out the door, you shift your third cup of coffee from one hand to the other while you paw through your pockets for your keys. You’re beginning to feel jangled from all that caffeine, but you just can’t seem to summon the energy you’ll need to get through the morning.

A lot of people use caffeine as a matter of course. Approximately 60% of Americans drink coffee – and nearly that many consume other caffeinated beverages – on a daily basis. If you wander the aisles of any grocery store in the country, you might think we were in the midst of an energy crisis: mood-boosting supplements and energy drinks seem to be everywhere, and most of these products contain caffeine in one form or another. If caffeine itself doesn’t appear in the list of ingredients, you’ll probably see guarana, yerba mate or kola nut.

Caffeine certainly has a devoted following, and it even appears to have some health benefits...as long as you’re not downing a whole pot of coffee every day. And that could be the problem. Many of us don’t know when we’ve had enough of a good thing, so we tank up on coffee, energy drinks or caffeine-laced supplements until we’re tremulous, irritable, distracted and unable to sleep. If you think you might be joining the legions of “over-caffeinated,” consider these alternative ways to boost your energy:

• Green tea extract contains a modest dollop of caffeine and a caffeine-like chemical called theophylline. More importantly, it is an excellent source of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. Studies in both animals and humans suggest that EGCG accelerates your metabolic rate and improves energy levels. Choose an extract standardized to 80% polyphenols and 55 to 60% EGCG, and try a daily dose of 300 to 400 mg.

• Ginseng has long been considered an “adaptogen” in those cultures where it is used regularly. Adaptogens reportedly regulate energy levels and improve stamina. While there are subtle differences among the various types of ginseng, it doesn’t appear to make a difference which one you choose: Oriental, American and Siberian ginseng (Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolium and Eleutherococcus senticosus, respectively) all have similar effects. Dosages vary, so follow label directions.

• Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a complex molecule that is needed for cellular energy production. People who eat a balanced diet and who aren’t under a lot of stress probably have enough CoQ10 in their tissues, but athletes, individuals who are stressed and people who eat poorly (i.e., most of us) are likely to be deficient. Individuals who take certain medications, such as acid-blockers, statins or antibiotics, might also need some extra CoQ10. Doses of 20 to 200 mg daily are well tolerated.

• The most effective way to boost your energy level is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Exercise for15 to 60 minutes at least five days each week. And take a hard look at your diet: if you’re consuming foods that contribute to your acid load, your metabolic machinery is probably being overtaxed in an effort to modulate your pH. This, in turn, lowers your overall energy level. A few simple dietary changes might make that second, third or fourth cup of coffee unnecessary, and you’d probably feel better all day long.    

There are healthy ways to keep you energy up without being over-caffeinated. By keeping your caffeine intake to a minimum, you will not have the crashing feeling at the end of the day.

Here's to your wellness,


Cholesterol Lowering Foods

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Understanding cholesterol is a key to good health. Your liver and other cells make about 75% of cholesterol and 25% is derived from your diet. There are two kinds of cholesterol: HDL, the “good” cholesterol which helps keep the “bad” cholesterol, LDL, from getting lodged into the artery walls which leads to coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. A high LDL level can be genetically inherited from your grandparents. It is also commonly caused by eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fats, and foods with high fat content like meat and dairy. Increasing your HDL levels through physical activity and diet is the best way to lower your LDL.

Soluble Fibers: Oats, Oat Bran, and Beans

Soluble fibers from nutritious foods like steel cut oats, barley, fruits and vegetables prevent the absorption of cholesterol. Beans have the highest cholesterol soluble fiber content of any food and 1 cup of beans per day can lower your cholesterol by 10% in 6 weeks.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil contains a mix of heart healthy antioxidants that can replace other cooking oils. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it is less processed and retains its antioxidant properties. “Light” Olive Oils are misleading because they only lighter in color due to over
processing, not lower in calories.

Cold Water Fish


These fish are high in EPA and DHA, Omega-3 fatty acids that increase HDL, lower LDL and decrease the risk of sudden death in individuals who have had a heart attack. Enjoy two servings a week of salmon, albacore tuna, halibut, lake trout, anchovies, herring, sardines, and mackerel.

Soy

One of the most important diet changes you can make is to transition from a diet high in animal products to one that includes more vegetable based protein. LDL is found in high concentrations in high fat dairy as well as beef, lamb and pork. Try to eat these foods sparingly and eat more meals with high protein, low fat soy in products like tofu, soy sausage, tofurkey or ground soy that can be used like ground beef. Soy is high is isoflavones which lowers LDL.

Garlic

One of the oldest medical remedies, garlic has many healing properties; it can lower LDL, prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and prevent infection. New research has found that garlic can prevent clogging of arteries at the earliest stages, when they are known as nanoplaques, by keeping individual cholesterol plaques from sticking to the arterial walls. Buy pre-peeled cloves to add to soups, sauces, top pizzas or add to casseroles. To get the best benefits, eat 2-4 cloves a day.

Tea

Black and green tea contains several antioxidants that relax the blood vessels and prevent blood clots. Flavanoids prevent the oxidation of LDL which prevents it from forming plaque on the artery walls. One cup of homemade tea, hot or cold, contains more antioxidants than one serving of any other fruit or vegetable.

By incorporating these foods into your diet you can keep your cholesterol down while continuing to eat healthy.

Here's to your wellness,


Warm Up to Winter Workouts

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While the weather outside may not inspire you to pull on your workout gear and go for a run, there’s no reason not to continue a fitness regimen throughout the coldest and darkest months of the year. In fact, the exercise you do in winter provides the foundation for your spring and summer training by working alternate group muscles, learning new skills and gaining strength. Unfortunately, over 30% of people stop exercising over winter, a time when the cold helps increase the body’s metabolism and burn more calories. While a short rest period can re-energize the body, over resting the body has a negative effect and ultimately makes it harder to restart your fitness regimen.
   
One solution is to take your workout indoors to a gym, which provides excellent opportunities for improving strength, and learning new skills through personal training, fitness and dance classes and indoor swimming, all of activities like running and cycling. You might also investigate a fitness challenge, like a marathon or 5K walk, for the upcoming spring or summer to help direct your workout.
   
Another plan is to embrace winter and enjoy the diverse sports that provide intense, challenging and calorie burning fitness fun. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Snow Hiking:

Take a walk in deep snow and give your heart and legs a great workout. Make sure to wear insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry.

Cross-Country Skiing:


This aerobic exercise can be done just about anywhere: a field, a park or a specific course. It gives you a full body workout with special emphasis on the biceps, glutes, hamstrings and triceps.

Snowshoeing:

Snowshoeing, a hybrid of cross-country skiing and running, is becoming one of the most popular winter sports with high tech gear that is low impact on the joints. As you progress in intensity, you will improve your overall stamina and leg muscle tone, making it an excellent winter conditioning sport for runners.

Snowboarding:

Snowboarding, once associated with young kids, is popular today among people of all ages and is a less expensive option than downhill skiing. It provides an overall body workout with emphasis on the glutes, abs and arms.

Downhill Skiing:

Still the most popular winter sport, downhill skiing requires strength, coordination and flexibility and provides a high intensity experience. Expect to be sore the next day because you will work every muscle in your body.

A few tips for winter sports:

• Wear sunscreen and sunglasses, especially in snowy conditions
• Start warming up inside about ½ hour before you exercise
• Make sure you stretch before and after your workout
• Wear a few thin layers of breathable fabrics, preferably made for winter sports
• Change out of workout clothes as soon as possible into dry clothes
• Pay attention to signs of frostbite – numbness, loss of feeling, stinging – and warm area up slowly
• Cover your mouth and nose to help humidify and warm air
• Move your early morning workouts to the sunnier afternoon

With these winter workout ideas you can stay fit and healthy while having fun during the cold months.

Here's to your wellness,

10 Health Myths

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1. You can catch up on missed sleep. False.

Trying to catch up on sleep by sleeping in on weekends can actually sabotage you. Your sleep-deprived brain will be more prone to mistakes and cognitive dysfunction. Give your body several days to catch up by consistently going to bed and waking up at the same time and getting at least 6-7 quality hours of sleep.

2. Cold weather causes you to get sick. False.

While it is true the cold/flu season runs October-March, we become sick because we spend more time indoors where there is a decrease in humidity and increase in indoor temperature, making our mucous membranes vulnerable to germs, the real cause of illness.

3. You’ll lose weight if you eat smaller meals throughout the day. False.

A recent study in Cell Metabolism indicated that restricting food to specific periods of day leads to less weight gain in comparison to grazing which caused obesity in test subjects, suggesting the traditional three meals a day plan is best for the average person.

4. If you swallow gum, it stays in your body for seven years. False.

Gum digests as quickly as any other foods – about three days.

5. Coffee is worse for you than soda. False.

A tall iced coffee may have more caffeine than a can of Coke but it won’t give you ulcers, it’s not full of artificial ingredients, it won’t destroy tooth enamel and it won’t lead to obesity and diabetes (unless you add a lot of sugar or artificial sweetener). Coffee is also one of the largest sources of life-extending antioxidants.

6. Cracking knuckles causes arthritis. False.

The popping sound is caused by an air bubble in the sinovial fluid that gathers in the cavities of digits and joints. It may cause some grip weakness later in life.

7. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. True.

Eating apples reduce LDL cholesterol levels significantly. Apples contain the antioxidant poly-phenol that fights heart disease, prevents colds, protects against cancer and slows the aging process in cells.

8. Feed a cold and starve a fever. False.

Feed and drink both a cold and fever based on how the patient feels, focusing on keeping the patient hydrated. Avoid dairy, acidic juices or lemonade. Clear liquids like flat 7-up or Coke and electrolyte fluids such as Pedialyte are best. Avoid plain water. Start with light food like Jell-O and broth.

9. You lose 30% of body heat through your head. False.

An adult only loses about 10% of body heat from his/her head, the same amount lost from any exposed body part such as hands, neck or face.

10. Never swim one hour after eating. False.

Feel free to dive in after a huge buffet lunch. Because your blood is now directed towards your gastrointestinal system to digest you food, you don’t have to worry about muscular cramps. Don’t expect to win any Olympic medals in freestyle, but enjoy a relaxing game of water volleyball.

Where these myths come from? How do they even start? I don't think we will ever find out, but now we know the truth!

Here's to your wellness,


To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

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One of the most popular trends today are cleanses which make a variety of promises including weight loss, increased energy, a rejuvenated digestive system, great skin and increases in sex drive. Cleansing has replaced dieting  - now considered negative and unhealthy - in our culture; in fact, most people assume all cleanses are healthy. Is this true? Let’s consider the pros and cons of cleansing as well as the claims made by the cleanses.

Weight Loss: Cleanses like the Master Cleanse and other juice cleanses usually involve a liquids only diet for ten days or longer. Because these cleanses are so calorie restrictive, the body goes into starvation mode and burns fat instead burn lean mass. Weight lost on this cleanse is regained as soon as a normal diet is resumed, often as fat.

Dietary cleanses can also cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and diarrhea. Other side effects include fatigue, insomnia, weakness, headaches, dizziness and extreme irritability. Some cleanse diets allow you to eat fruits and vegetables and encourage you to drink water, factors which will can a cleanse healthier and easier on your body.
   
Detox: Certain cleanses claim to “detox” the body from a number of unspecified toxins. While it is true we encounter a number of toxins in the environment and in our food, there is no scientific evidence that cleanse/detoxes are more effective than the organs in our body designed to rid us of toxins: the kidneys, liver and intestines. These organs are sophisticated mechanisms designed to process toxic substances like alcohol and drugs, excrete ammonia and heavy metals and prevent carcinogens from entering the bloodstream. A calorie restrictive cleanse can interfere with these systems by irritating the gastrointestinal system and causing dehydration which can lead to kidney and urinary tract complications.
   
“Resting” the gut: Some cleanses claim there is a benefit in “resting” the gut by only consuming liquids, thereby allowing it to more easily absorbing nutrients. In reality, the gut works best when it has a constant flow of a variety of healthy fibrous, nutrient-rich foods. This allows the beneficial gut bacteria to flourish and keeps the gastrointestinal system’s pH at an optimal level.
   
Are there any reasons to cleanse? A short cleanse to lose a few pounds for a special occasion is reasonable for a healthy individual, and it can also be a good way to jump start a new diet. An oral colon cleanse, designed to fully evacuate your large intestines, may give you relief from severe constipation. It is also used before undergoing certain medical procedures, such as a colonoscopy. Many people report that a 24-hour cleanse energizes the body and mind.
   
If you do decide to use a cleanse, make sure you consult your doctor. It’s also important to define what you want to get out of your cleanse. Make sure you research the products and regimens to find the right cleanse for your needs.

Here's to your wellness,


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