Tuesday, January 26, 2016

It's All About Baby Steps

Baby footprints icon. Child feet sign.
Hi Everyone,

Did you notice that I didn’t write a blog post about New Year’s Resolutions this year?  I chose not to because I realized that not everyone is as eager as I am about making goals. As much as I want to motivate others to move more, and eat a healthy diet, we all know that a person has to WANT to make changes.  Motivation must come from within, and on a person’s own time schedule.

Hence, the title to this post – It’s All About Baby Steps.  My sister told me recently about a wellness journey her friend was taking.  This gal, (around my age), had suffered a stroke.  Since that time, she’d made significant changes to her diet and exercise habits.  One day she decided she’d like to check out the local gym.  Her first step was simply to drive to the gym and sit in her car, in the parking lot. That action alone was her first baby step in moving towards her goal. This was a big reality check for me.  What might seem like a baby step to me, (going to the local gym, and asking about membership), might be the culmination of several baby steps for someone else, someone who is coming from their own frame of mind, their own set of experiences.

So, can I still try to motivate others, even though we think so very differently?  I hope so. I’m going to list some of the benefits of regular exercise below, and if you are only at the thinking stage, that’s OK, maybe it will spark something in your thought process. I gleaned this information from a Mayo Clinic article:


Being active can:
  • Stimulate brain chemicals that could leave you feeling more relaxed and happier.
  • Help boost confidence and self-esteem, and prevent depression.
  • Help maintain weight loss.
  • Help prevent high blood pressure.
  • Increase your level of the "good" cholesterol, (the HDLs).
  • Decrease your level of unhealthy triglycerides.
  • Help prevent stroke.
  • Help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
  • Help prevent or manage certain types of cancer.
  • Help prevent or manage arthritis.
  • Help prevent falls.
  • Help prevent or manage metabolic syndrome.
  • Improve muscle strength.
  • Boost your endurance.
  • Deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
  • Give you more energy to go about your day.
  • Help you fall asleep faster, and deepen your sleep. (But not if you exercise just before bed.)
  • Have a positive effect on your sex life.  Women can have enhanced arousal.  Men are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who do not exercise.
  • Bring on a natural high, especially when you exercise outside.
  • Help you connect with family or friends, if you exercise with others.
And I didn't even go into the benefits of eating a healthy diet! There's always something we can do to move more towards the positive side of the Wellness Continuum.  I hope this finds you happily working on self-improvement.  I shall close for now, so I can go work out!

Mary




Saturday, December 19, 2015

This and That, Holiday Edition


Hi Everyone,

I hope all is going well(ness) for you and yours during this hectic but fun time.  I wanted to get the December post out now, before too many of the festivities begin, in case you wanted to try to make it through everything with little to no weight gain, yet still have fun. So, here are some tips to help steer you towards more mindful eating at the holiday festivities.  I'm sure you've heard of all or most of them before, but a little review might be helpful:

*First of all, just tell yourself that you will be more mindful of your choices.  That's not to say that you shouldn't enjoy yourself and try a taste of everything.  If you want something, you should not deny yourself, because it will most likely come back and haunt you during a moment of weakness later, when you feel deprived of all the fun.  So, have a taste of anything and everything, just be mindful, and not overdo, unless you want to.  Remember my mother's saying:  The first bite of something is always the best part.

*Bring a tasty, attractive, healthy dish.  Here are some suggestions: Roasted vegetables, fruit kabobs, shrimp that you dip into cocktail sauce, deviled eggs made with light mayo, an assortment of nuts (still in the shell), vegetables and hummus, baked chips, a bowl of lowfat popcorn, tuna (mixed with lowfat mayo) and crackers, grilled tropical fruit to dip into Greek yogurt**, a large beautiful yogurt parfait layered with fresh fruit and lowfat granola or crumpled graham crackers.

*Eat a light and healthy snack before you go, so that you are not famished when you get there.

*Make a smart beverage choice, water being the best one, of course, but no need to deprive yourself of alcohol or some other festive beverage.  Consider alternating your beverage choice with a glass of water.  One wine, one water, and so on.  Something that has always helped me is to bring my own wine - those small one serving bottles.  That will keep you from pouring a glass of wine that is really the equivalent of two glasses.

*Peruse the entire buffet table before taking a plate and serving yourself.  Decide what you want to try, and what you can really do without.  Weight Watchers International always suggests that you ask yourself this question before selecting an item, "Is it worth it?" If you have to ask that question, then perhaps these would be the items you would take only a taste of, instead of an entire serving.

*Choose a seat far away from the buffet table.  Concentrate on having engaging conversations vs. concentrating on the food.

*Consider wearing something more fitted, rather than looser-fitting clothing.  That might be a reminder that you don't want to gorge and be uncomfortable.

*Exercising before and after an event helps, of course, but remember that the caloric intake is much more important when trying to lose or maintain weight.  If you do exercise, try an interval workout, and rev up that metabolism.  Here's a simple one I like to do:  Stationary bike, 30 seconds at a normal pace, followed by thirty seconds of pedaling as hard as I can.  Do this for 30 minutes. No need to add a lot of resistance.

*And, if you don't wish to put limits on yourself, or think about it too much, give yourself permission to have whatever you'd like. But, promise yourself that you'll get back to a healthy lifestyle at the very next meal.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  

Take good care,

Mary

**You can make chocolate yogurt by mixing a 6 oz. serving of plain Greek yogurt with 2 tsp. raw honey and 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Healthy Holidays!


Hello to everyone, and to the holiday season!  Oh yeah, hello to the wind and rain, too. Ish. 


On a brighter note, here are some thoughts to help with the season.

If you'll be dining out more than usual:
*Red Robin has a petite burger that you can ask for. Maybe other places have that choice too, or the choice of an “unwich”, a burger with a lettuce leaf bun.

*Ask your server to bring just ½ the amount of fries.

*Order first, so you won't be tempted by what others order.

*Ask if you can order from the kids’ menu.

*If you’re hoping to have some dessert, ask someone to split a sandwich with you.

*Order a side of steamed vegetables with your meal, for added fiber, health, and fullness.

*If you do have a larger than usual meal, try to get back on track at the very next meal.

Other ideas for coping with some of the stresses of the season:

*Have fun with exercise by setting up a rule during a favorite TV  show.  For example, every time a certain actor sits, you have to do 20 sit-ups.  Or, every time a certain athlete makes (or misses?) a basket, you have to do 10 pushups. I met one gal whose family plays empty kleenex box football on the commercials.

*Find a motivating quote or photo and use it as a screen saver.

*If you’re hosting, and  you don’t wish to keep certain leftovers around the house, purchase containers at the $1 store, so you're ready to send items home with people.

*Instead of purchasing fund raising treats, offer to give a donation instead.

*Maybe now is the time to request that stand-up computer station at work, or at home.  Here's a link to one I found on Amazon for a little over $57: http://amzn.to/1HerOtF. You'll need a mat to stand on, too.  Here's one for a little under $14: http://amzn.to/1SaYgxe .

*Consider purchasing gifts that help get people moving, or socializing more.

*Rather than treating yourself or someone else with food, consider something else that will bring a smile – flowers? A magazine? A massage?


Here are some thought-provoking quotes for those of us who struggle with self-control, perhaps especially during the holidays:


"I am my problem, but also my solution."




"You'll never get what you truly deserve if you remain attached to what you're supposed to let go of."


And, for those of us who need to forgive:


"Grace happens when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back."


Have a wonderful and positive holiday season. "Life is about giving.  When you take your eyes off yourself, life is a lot better." - Kelly Boyd


Mary

 

 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Are You Proactive About Your Health and Wellness?




Hello Everyone.  Have you been enjoying the delights of autumn?  I hope so.  My topic this month might sound preachy, but my posts are as much for me as they are for others.  I could stand to be more proactive at times. Wellness is a continuum, and something to constantly work on.

Let me list the various areas of wellness, and what I think proactive behavior would look like in each area.  I’ll make it a survey, so we can score points and see how we're doing.

Here is the point system for answers:

I never do that – 0 points
I do that sometimes – 1 point
I do that all of the time – 2 points

If interested, get out a piece of paper, and number it from 1-25.  Here we go!


Personal Maturity:
*_____1. If I find myself talking negatively to myself, I stop and rephrase, making the statement more positive.

*_____2. When I want to improve in some area of my personality, (such as trying to gossip less, or trying to not stretch the truth), I make a conscious effort to keep myself in check.

*_____3. I am optimistic about myself and life in general.

*_____4. I try to develop good habits and get rid of bad habits.

*_____5. I accept compliments that I am given, and also take the opportunity to give others sincere compliments.

Emotional Maturity:

*_____6. I make sure to discuss things that concern me, either with a friend, a professional, or by writing in a journal.

*_____7. I try not to worry or perseverate about things, telling myself it doesn't do much good anyway- tomorrow is a new day.


*_____8. I have a hobby or activity in my life that I am passionate about.

*_____9. I keep my temper under control.

Physical Maturity:

*_____10. If I have a prescription, I make sure I never let it run out, before ordering a refill.

*_____11. If I say I want to work out more, then I make sure it happens.

*_____12. I exercise moderation in my eating habits, making sure I have a healthy diet 90% of the time.

*_____13. I follow seat belt, helmet, and life jacket, and driving rules. 

*_____14. I am proactive about trying to get enough sleep every night.

*_____15. I use alcohol in moderation.

*_____16. I seek medical treatment as soon as I notice that something isn't quite right.

*_____17. I wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, on exposed areas, daily.

*_____18. I keep up with all of the 'tests' that are suggested for someone my age. (Examples:  colonoscopy, pap smear, prostate check, blood tests, skin checks, etc.)

Social and Ethical Maturity:

*_____19. I keep in touch with those I love on a regular basis.


*_____20. If I have a problem with a family member or friend, I try to resolve that problem.

*_____21. I do not judge people by their looks, or their status in life.

*_____22. I look for opportunities to help those less fortunate than myself.

*_____23. I look people in the eye and smile frequently.

Intellectual Maturity:

*_____24. I try to read regularly, or work on other activities that stimulate my brain.

*_____25. I look for opportunities to use my creativity.

Here's what your score might mean:

Total of 45-50 points = "Ms. or Mr. Proactive!!!"
Total of 40-44 points = You might need to pay a little more attention to your health.
Total of 35-39 points = Maybe you need a push in the right direction.
Less than 35 points = Put 911 on speed dial.  You might need it.

Have you ever noticed that the word HEAL is in the word HEALTH?  Enough said.  I hope you found the survey worth your time.

Take good care,

Mary


Thursday, September 24, 2015

More of This and That

Hi Everyone,


Happy Fall! I wonder if you are enjoying the simple pleasures that come with fall - the freshness in the air; and the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that you haven't experienced for awhile.  Does it put an extra bounce in your step?  It sure give me a lift, and puts a smile on my face.  I especially love taking bike rides this time of year.


Here are some random quotes and/or pieces of information that I would like to share with you this month:


*A pretty sobering thought about drinking, (or taking drugs): It's the only thing that you don't get better at the more you do it.


*Never use money to measure wealth.


*Don't fear moving slowly forward.  Fear standing still.


*Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.


*When most adults eat out compared to eating at home, they consume about 200 more calories.  Just think, if you did that three times a week, that's 600 extra calories. After 52 weeks, (one year), that's 31,200 extra calories, which translates to a gain of almost nine pounds. One way to keep calories more in check is to only go 'off' your regular diet (whether at home, or at a restaurant) when it's your birthday, anniversary, or some other special occasion.


*Next time you reach for that fancy espresso drink, or some other sweet drink, like a soda, remember this:  It only takes two sugar-sweetened beverages per week to raise your risk of suffering a stroke by 19%, as opposed to drinking almost none.


*Next time you're boiling pasta, consider tossing some fresh vegetables into the very same pot.  Not only does that make your dinner healthier, you have one less dish to wash!


* Remember this number - 135.  As a suggestion by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, that's the minimum number of minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise recommended to reap the anti-depressant effects of physical activity. That's only a little less that 34 minutes of activity four times a week.  Sounds doable!


All for now.  Have a fun October.  Will you dress up for Halloween?  Time for me to consider this year's costume!


Mary



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Things I'm Loving Lately

Hello Again!

I wanted to post something a little earlier in the month this time, because (happily) I'll be in Texas during the last week of August, visiting my daughter and granddaughters.

There is a blogger listed on this blog page, Carrots 'N' Cake, who writes a post pretty much every Friday about things she has been loving lately.  So, I thought I'd share some of the things that have put an extra bounce in my step lately.  I'd love to hear some of the things you are loving lately as well.

First, my absolute favorite kind of protein bars:  Pure Protein. I like: that they have a LOT of protein, and therefore fill me up; the variety of tasty flavors; that they do NOT taste like cardboard; and, the fact that Costco sells them.  Calories?  180-200.


I have also discovered this fat free milk, made by Lucerne, that has added protein, half as much sugar,and has a longer shelf life than it's non-protein-added counterpart.
Here's a hair care product that I discovered recently.  "It's a 10 " has become so popular that I know that my Safeway doesn't have it out on the shelves.  You have pick up a piece of paper that describes it, and then take it to the cashier, who then gets it from behind the customer service counter.  I spray it on after towel drying my hair. It is an excellent (and somewhat expensive) leave-in conditioner.  I swear it works!
Simple pleasures.  Don't you just love it when you walk by something and just have to take a picture of it because it brings a smile to your face:  Here are a few things that caught my eye recently.  These flowers were growing right next to the parking lot at my gym.
And, speaking of the gym, I could marry the outdoor pool if it was a person.  Here it is, ready for someone to just walk into it and have it all to herself.  Talk about a Simple Pleasure.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but I love my ice water.  I decided awhile ago that I'd start making sure I always had a container of ice water close at hand.  It really makes a difference, as I have noticed, when you practice drinking water more frequently, and then find you have forgotten to grab your container.  Hydrating can be addicting, I think, and is such a healthy practice, especially if you're eating a lot of salty foods, if the weather has been exceptionally warm, and if you're working out.  I don't take the time to do this, but I know some people experiment with adding fruit slices, or cucumber slices, for a little variety.
I haven't invested in one of these yet, but I'm loving that it's now available:  a waterproof iPod.  Well, actually I saw on Amazon that you can just buy a waterproof pouch for your iPod, but I don't trust myself to keep it sealed completely.  Anyway, how cool is that - to swim while listening to tunes!
And, finally, one thing I'm loving is looking forward to a trip somewhere.  Sometimes I think the anticipation of something is often more enjoyable than that actual event, whatever it might be. That's not to say that the activity is a let down, but rather that it's always fun to have something to look forward to, and to prepare for.  I hope there's something on the horizon that you too are looking forward to, or at least a simple pleasure or two that comes to mind or crosses your path each day.

Take care,

Mary





Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You Appreciate Your Body?



Hello Everyone,

This month I wanted to address body appreciation.  We are taught to be humble, so we certainly don't go around bragging about our toned abs, strong legs, thick shiny hair, high cheek bones, etc. On the contrary, sometimes we discuss things about ourselves that we aren't happy with:  beer belly; big ears or nose; bird legs; thunder thighs; flabby arms; varicose veins; pontoon feet - you get the drill.  It doesn't help when family joins in and gives us nicknames related to our shortcomings.  Again, it's perhaps an effort to keep a person humble.

But, shouldn't we change the way we think?  Shouldn't we be thankful for what we have, and what our body does for us?  I have a friend who has been in a wheelchair ever since a debilitating accident 15 years ago.  I don't hear him complain about not having the use of his legs. As a matter of fact, he's simply grateful to be alive, and makes the most of every day.


When you find yourself starting to say something negative about yourself, try to stop, check yourself, and turn it into something positive.  Example:  "I hate my legs!"   Instead, say:  "I'm so grateful to my legs for holding me up, and taking me so many places all these years." 

Consider practicing 'body gratitude' this month, and see if it doesn't just help make your outlook more optimistic. Practice replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Take care,

Mary