Monthly Archives: October 2014

Healthier Together Series: 4B. Physical Activity – Crisp Weather

dan-freeman-VAWqURK_Th0-unsplashToday’s physical activity note:
Master the Common Fall Excuses

Enjoy now and prepare for what’s to come. In the Midwest, fall marks the changing weather and beautiful sounds and colors around us. Leaves are changing colors, sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, the crinkly leaves on the ground and rattling in the trees are lovely. Kids are in school so there are quieter times of the day in the neighborhood…depending on where you live.

However, with these changes, comes some more frantic moments – before and after school- coordinating with others regarding schedules, homework, work, feeding the family, extracurricular activities, social activities, etc. running the household- whether you are alone or with others, is busy. And when the days get shorter and it gets cooler out, our body’s natural responses may mean we start to decrease our vigilance and focus in taking care of ourselves. Waking up gets harder, getting out of the warm bed and into the cold air is a challenge, the weather outside starts to seem too uncomfortable to go out there. On top of it, if you are also needing to worry about getting the kids up and ready for school, that takes up precious time so it’s easy to run out of time in the morning to squeeze in some physical activity. By evening, you are tired and hungry, have to drive everyone to their activities, cook, run errands, go through the mail, help with homework and “projects,” maybe even do some of your own work, etc. etc.

This “Fall transition” often manifests first, in skipping workouts or cutting out or cutting down on our physical activity. Where to squeeze it in?!

First: Plan ahead and be prepared. You know what interfered with your health plans in the past. “I am tired and have so much going on, there isn’t enough time” and “I need more sleep” and “it’s too cold” are common excuses of why those workouts fizzled out.

Master Fatigue
If you keep active through the changes of seasons and cold weather, your metabolism will continue to rev at a higher burn rate through winter (instead of the usual “metabolic slow down”) and especially during those times you may eat foods you wouldn’t normally eat (hello holidays). Also, if you remain active, you will feel less fatigued in general.

Remember, you need less time in bed and you get better sleep the more fit you are. In other words, you add time to your day when you are fit! So if you are tired of being tired, getting fit and staying fit, will help with that! Organize your sleep around your workouts! If you wake up early and are still sleepy, nap later, go to sleep earlier, deal with any sleep debts at times other than your physical activity time. Keep your physical activity a top priority.

If you are tired at the end of the day or after work when you normally workout, do your physical activity and THEN rest. The physical activity can be abbreviated or an alternative less intense activity- it still counts! You may find that once you start exercising and get in the habit of exercising, you develop MORE energy and are no longer too tired to do other things! Again, regular physical activity gives you MORE effective awake time in your day!

Master the Cold
About the cold, if you workout outside and you live in a climate with brutal winters, have alternative workouts for those days you can’t workout per your planned routine. Of course, if you are able and want to keep working out outside, you can find appropriate winter sports or go to an outdoor recreation store and get the appropriate cold weather gear so you can continue to be physically active outside.

When you have the right gear, it’s so much more fun and motivating! My personal cold weather outerwear is from the NorthFace. Initially, the cost prohibited me from trying it but after spending way more in multiple different jackets that each had limitations, and therefore limited
my options, I invested in a NorthFace jacket. I can wear my jacket indoors or outdoors and my body temp feels the same and unaffected by the temperature. No overheating or freezing and it is lightweight and easy to move in. Some days, I wear it all day long- inside and out. It has revolutionized my options for winter activities.

Here are some additional thoughts and tips. See also the earlier blog about how to manage excuses.

1. Pick a shorter workout to do in the morning, that you will do. Maybe you will workout at home and do a DVD workout program or use one from YouTube which is only 15 minutes? Or try high intensity interval training so that you get more out of your workout in less time?

2. Remember it is cold when you get out of bed whether it is to get ready for work or the kids or if you are going to treat yourself to some personal time to move and enjoy the quiet of the morning before others wake up. Use this early morning time for yourself first. Keep your workout gear, clothes nearby so you just start before you are fully awake. Have some warm cushy outer covering to put on over your usual workout clothes (or PJ’s) so you are warm as you get up to start moving. Get into those workout clothes, ie. sports bra. Just getting into my workout clothes – mainly my sports bra, makes it 99% more likely I will exercise.

If you can set your thermostat on a cycle to warm up 30 minutes before waking up, that will help too.

Then, see #1 above – move your body- Tai Chi is great or take a brisk walk outside. Do some stretches. Whatever will get your blood and fluids circulating…it is such a great way to start the day.

3. Plan to do some movement in those brief moments throughout your day when it’s not enough time to do something else, it may be the times you might check email or social media. Find some physical activities you can do at those times. At least standings is better than sitting. Walking is even better. Plank pose is good. Push-ups- even modified push-ups against a wall. Some crunches. How about some lunges or squats or plies? High knees? What about calf raises where you go up and down onto your tip toes? Do you like jumping jacks or jumping rope? Swing your hips while you are standing. Overhead reaches to stretch out. Gently roll your neck and shoulders. How about some arm circles?

Please share your tricks to maintaining or incorporating physical activity into your day as you master the excuses.

 

Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 4A. Nutrition – Go To List

dan-gold-4_jhDO54BYg-unsplashREAL food. Here are some of my go-to REAL food ideas. A little planning & prep can go a long way.

Remember: Avoid foods and drinks that are artificially made “low fat” or “no fat.” If nature made it with fat, that’s how it’s best managed by your body. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you are having something sweet, own up to it and only have a little. You can modify the list below to remove grains or dairy. 

Snacks to have on hand (**Always available, keeps longer):

In the Fridge:

  • Raw veggies – usually have 2-4 varieties in fridge for week:
    • carrot sticks
    • sugar snap peas
    • celery sticks
    • radishes (eat salted- yum)
    • cucumbers
    • peppers
    • romaine hearts
    • grape tomatoes
  • salad/baby spinach packs
  • hummus
  • Greek plain yogurt
  • Baby bell (or other individually wrapped) cheeses**
  • crumbled smoked blue cheese or feta cheese
  • blue cheese or other salad dressing**
  • boiled eggs (boil a dozen at beginning of week- remember boil older eggs & add 1 tsp baking soda to water helps make them easy-peel)
  • crispy oven baked nitrite/nitrate free bacon (line on cookie sheet & bake)
  • deli meats, (pasture raised IS better)
  • leftovers: roasted veggies or meats
  • Berries occasionally
  • dark chocolate covered cocoa dusted almonds** (Buy in bulk & stored in freezer)

NOT in the fridge (often in my desk drawers in office or pantry at home)

  • nuts** (various flavors ie. wasabi soy sauce almonds, smoked almonds, salted peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)
  • nut butters** (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.) – great to add to other foods or when in a pinch, just scoop it out in a spoon and eat 1 spoonful- surprisingly satisfying.
  • beef jerky** (pasture raised is best)
  • tuna packs**
  • salmon packs** (great way to get wild salmon, instead of farm raised “Atlantic” salmon – which doesn’t have the higher omega 3’s of wild salmon)
  • olives**
  • pickles**
  • Kind bars** – there are many varieties…these are when I want something sweet

Rotating foods:

  1. Kale Salad: kale- 1 bunch (julienne or chopped fine, massage leaves with drizzled olive oil), juice of 1 lemon juice, sprinkling of pine nuts, grated Parmesan to taste
  2. “Everything” Mix: nut butter + flax seed + chia seeds + old fashioned rolled oats (optional) + few choc chips + coconut flakes (unsweetened) (which is combined & put together with some maple syrup & stored in fridge in balls or crumbled…then when I want it, mix it into plain Greek yogurt +/- berries). Recipe for a no-bake snack.
  3. Chopped Colorful Salad or Wedge salad – nitrite/nitrate free bacon, boiled eggs (as above) +/- avocado/blue cheese +/- grape tomatoes on salad pack (or quarter of iceberg lettuce or cut up hearts of romaine lettuce) with leftovers from dinner
  4. Tuna/egg/salmon salad on romaine lettuce leaf (use like taco shell) or on cucumber slices/boat (scoop out the seeds) or on salad pack. (If you like capers, add some to your egg salad – it is divine!)
  5. Nut butter on celery or apple slices or stirred into Greek yogurt
  6. Deli meat (as above) or tuna/egg/salmon/chicken salad wrapped in romaine with hummus or cheese +/- additional veggies like peppers slices or tomato or avocado (wrap in saran wrap like nori-maki to store in fridge if making ahead)
  7. Spinach with almost anything (can saute or eat fresh or put in microwave. Then, put dressing or soy sauce or vinegar w/olive oil or sprinkle with cheese & bacon or toss berries in it)
  8. Broccoli slaw – saute or add to almost any dish. It’s easy and an excellent source of vitamins and delicious.
  9. Eggs: fried/scrambled/boiled with tomato slices & avocado (+/- sprouted ezekiel bread-if occasionally eating whole grains, found in freezer section only) +/- salsa
  10. Homemade Trail Mix: mixed nuts with some dark chocolate chips/carob chips +/- unsweetened coconut flakes
  11. Cabbage – sauteed as “base” for other foods in place of pasta or rice
  12. Spaghetti squash -baked – to eat with spaghetti with meat sauce
  13. Cauliflower – as “mashed potatoes” or “rice” or baked with parmesan or roasted or raw, etc. etc.
  14. Meatloaf, prefer grass-fed ground beef or ground lamb – great as leftovers & easy to add to almost any other meals (if have extra time, would make it into meatballs)
  15. Green beans (blanched) & grape tomatoes halved (soy sauce, chopped garlic & sesame oil)
  16. Edamame – boil x 5 minutes & sprinkle with salt over pods. Good hot or cold.
  17. Eggplant slices – baked or fried with some olive oil & salt or grated Parmesan or other seasonings. Add some tomato or marinara sauce on it with a sprinkling of Parmesan or Asiago & baked- it is AMAZING.
  18. Mushrooms – stuffed. Or baked with soy sauce or cheese
  19. Cheese crisps (sliced or shredded cheese placed on parchment & baked or microwaved until melted & flattened out, then browned just a bit to make them crispy when cooled down)
  20. Stir fry veggies +/- protein
  21. Hummus with veggies
  22. Peppers stuffed with deli meats (see above), tuna salad or sliced with hummus or in stir fry or salads
  23. Leftover meats cut into strips (Always cook extra protein for dinner & cut up the leftovers. Strips are easy to grab as snack or put in romaine boat or toss in salad or stir fry or with cabbage stir fry)
  24. Coconut granola (I did not use both honey AND maple syrup, so it wasn’t too sweet)
  25. Golden Low Carb granola from the Low Carb Diet Doctor

Keep healthy food options easy and readily available and you will improve your nutrition and your health from inside…out. Please share some of your suggestions for easy healthy real food ideas.

 

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 3D. Putting it all together — Power Recharge!

tracey-hocking-tq1J9imFJ3g-unsplashIn our 3rd cycle, we covered healthy responses to hunger, that little bits of physical activity count & add up, and the power of nature in our abilities to recharge. Here’s how it might look:

1. In the morning when you first wake up, drink a glass of water, maybe with a lemon. Or drink some tea. Or some coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Spend some time walking (it can be a leisurely pace or as fast as speed walking), doing some enjoyable exercise (including the obvious like lifting weights, interval training, treadmill, biking, elliptical, nordic track, but free form dancing also counts!) or some other physical movements of the body (tai chi, yoga, pilates, Nia technique, Callanetics, etc.). If you wake up before others in your home, this is your GIFT time. It’s ALL yours, to spend how you want. I cherish this GIFT time in my life. I can choose EXACTLY how to spend it.

If you have beautiful nature nearby, you can take your activity outdoors, as is commonly done with Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese practice of coordinated physical movements that used to be a martial art for self defense. Moving your body outside in nature is a VERY nice way to start your day. Have another glass of water/tea/unsweetened coffee when you move onto the rest of your day. After your physical activity, have a breakfast with protein for better function later in the day. In nicer weather, have breakfast outdoors- what a dream!

Once this routine becomes your regular routine, you will find that this is a FANTASTIC way to start your day. It’s great to start out your day as your own perfect person, fully recharged and ready to face the day!

2. At work, when you would normally take a break to walk to the coffee machine/break room/vending machine/bathroom, grab a cup of water/tea/coffee and stand or walk a bit extra. Take a step outside if you can, or look out the window. At least move your body: This can be stretching your arms up high, arching your back (especially if you sit hunched over a desk or computer),  or bending forward at the waist to stretch out your lower back. You might pull out your travel yoga mat and do a floor stretch or two, maybe downward dog and plank pose? A sun salutation? You may take a walk by the potted plants or a window and shake out your legs, roll your shoulders. Bottom line, make an effort to hydrate and move and expose yourself to nature. If you are hungry, go for the protein snack you have as back up.

3. In many countries, people take extra “rest” time at lunch, commonly known as a siesta. In the US, we don’t traditionally incorporate that into our day, but we do commonly take a break for lunch. At lunchtime,  get as close to the outdoors as possible so that you can see the weather, you can see something naturally green or view the sky or a natural body of water. Spend at least a few minutes just seeing what’s “out there.” If possible, stand or walk in places you find peaceful or that allow you some exposure to nature. It can be surprising how enchanting this habit can be. To complete the picture, take a bottle of water with you on the lunch time walk outdoors. If you eat lunch AFTER your walk, you will be much more alert later in the day and you may find you make better food & drink choices. Choose water/tea/coffee, protein, and some non-starchy veggies for lunch & you are good to go.

4. In the evening, stay away from caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee. Drink water. Taking some time in the presence of nature, stop to connect with other people and give them your full attention. Taking an evening stroll with friends or significant other is a great way to do this. Having a meal with someone(s) you care about is also beneficial to your health. Think about, talk about, journal about the events of your day. Process your day…better with someone, but OK with nature. Think about what you learned that day and consider 3 things you are grateful for or appreciate. In this way, you will be refreshed and able to be recharged for tomorrow.

5. When you find you have greater time, unplug from the electronics and spend some time reading, writing, drawing, moving, singing, or communing with others- ideally in person. Sip some water or tea or coffee. Move around, walk a bit. This is the equivalent of “hanging out on the piazza” and recharging your soul. The more regularly this becomes a part of your life, the more relaxed and comfortable the rest of your life will become- the ripple effect.

Please send me your ways of bringing it all together.

Photo by Tracey Hocking on Unsplash