Stand up for your health

You eat healthy and work out, but you may be sabotaging all of your good intentions. Recent research suggests that sitting can put you at risk for certain diseases and other health problems, and it can lead to an increase in mortality rates. Yes, sitting-what you might even be doing right now-has been shown to increase a person’s chances of dying.

It’s hard to conclude just how much sitting is too much, but the message is clear. To live longer, we need to sit less.

It seems to go against everything we’ve been striving for – high-end office chairs that allow people to work comfortably for extended periods of time, technology-enhanced lounge chairs for relaxing at home and various methods to get children to stay seated in the classroom.

But this somewhat new revelation isn’t likely to become a passing fad. In fact, the office equipment industry has added a completely new segment to help combat the ill effects of sitting. The office fitness category now offers products such as treadmill desks, standing desks, and sit-to-stand desks and tables.

Many companies already give employees

incentives to adopt healthier lifestyles, and now they will likely need to incorporate ways for employees to stay productive while spending less time sitting at their desks. But these types of changes do take time.

So what do you do when your daily commute and desk job not only have you sitting for hours on end but also leave you so exhausted that you can’t wait to get home to sit down and relax?

Well, according to research, you get back up again.

How to break your sitting habit

Of course, there are certain activities that require sitting, such as driving a car. However, unless sitting is absolutely essential, we need to find creative ways to remember to stand up and move around.

Sit for 1 and move for 2

The ability to stay focused is a highly praised attribute in both students and employees. But if it’s keeping you in your seat, it could be impacting your overall health.

One way to break your sitting habit is to get up and move for at least two minutes every hour. If you work in an office, set an alarm to remind yourself. A quick walk around the office or down the hall and back should do the trick.

In a classroom setting, younger students often change activities throughout the day, but teachers could take this a step further. Have the class engage in some form of physical movement, such as marching in place or doing a few jumping jacks, toe touches or arm circles, before settling in for the next activity.

Turn off the TV

If you’re a TV watcher, make a list of all your regular shows and add up the amount of hours you spend watching per week. If you’re shocked by the number, which many are, try replacing your TV time with some sort of physical activity for a week or two. You’ll likely notice a significant increase in your energy level. If cutting out TV seems like too much of a sacrifice, cut down on the time it keeps you sitting. For example, you could stand and fold laundry, iron your clothes or pack lunches for the next day.

While it isn’t very likely you can avoid sitting altogether, just be aware of how quickly your sitting time adds up. Whether you’re working on a project, catching up on social media or watching your favorite shows, make it a point to get up and get moving. Your life depends on it.

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A Drop of Sunshine (Vitamin D)

Vitamin D is the silent hero in our lives. Vitamin D is essential for bone health and it has also been suggested that it may also benefit in protecting us against colds and fighting depression.It can be found in fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. However, the body receives most (80%-90%) of its vitamin D from exposure to sunlight which is absorbed through your skin.

Sunlight is the best way to get your vitamin D. However, because of the associated risk of skin cancer, there are no official recommendations from Doctors to go outside to catch some rays. A small amount of sun exposure without sunscreen can do the trick. Just 20 to 25 minutes of exposure is helpful. Unfortunately if you live at higher latitudes, its winter, or your skin has a darker pigment, you are unlikely to get your daily needs.

When you can’t get enough sunlight, fatty fish is a great substitute. Common options of fish containing vitamin D include salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel. A 3-ounce sockeye salmon fillet contains about 450 international units (IUs) of vitamin D where 600 IUs is the recommended dietary allowance. A bonus to eating fatty fish is the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Canned tuna fish and canned sardines both contain vitamin D, and usually less expensive than fresh fish. They also have a longer shelf life, allowing you to stock up on vitamin D when they are on sale. Canned light tuna has the most vitamin D at about 150 IUs per 4 ounces. Canned albacore tuna has about 50 IUs per 4 ounces, while canned sardines have a little more than 40 IUs per two sardines.

Most types of cow’s milk sold in grocery stores are fortified with vitamin D. An 8 ounce glass of milk contains at least 100 IUs of vitamin D, while a 6 ounce serving of yogurt contains 80 IUs. You can also choose many orange juice brands that also fortify their juice with vitamin D. An 8 ounce glass of juice usually has around 100 IUs of vitamin D, but amounts can vary from brand to brand, so check the nutritional label.

And when all else fails, vitamin D supplements can help get your proper daily dose. The benefits of vitamin D supplements is you can take your dose all at one time. Too much vitamin D can be toxic so be careful not to consume too much. The IOM sets the upper limit at 4,000 IUs for people aged 9 and older (includes all sources – food, sun, and supplement). Talk to your doctor before choosing a dosage.

Breakfast can also help you get your daily intake of vitamin D. Eggs are a convenient way to get vitamin D. Vitamin D in an egg comes from its yolk, it’s important to use the whole egg, not just the whites. One egg yolk will give you about 40 IUs. But remember, one egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 300 milligrams a day for heart health. Many cereals are also fortified with vitamin D, such as Multi Grain Cheerios. A 1 cup serving of Multi Grain Cheerios with one-half cup of fortified milk is about 90 IUs. Add your 8 ounce glass of fortified orange juice and you’re up to almost 200 IUs.

Vitamin D has many uses and is essential for the formation, growth, and repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption and immune function. With the options listed above, you’ll get your daily dose of vitamin D, even if it is the dead of winter.

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Hidden Calories

The holidays are here and enjoying the season with friends and family usually includes having a nice beverage, alcoholic or not. A lot of the time, the drink we choose has a lot of hidden calories that do not help maintain your waistline and may negate all the hard work you’ve done at the gym.Holiday celebrations can translate into additional calories from drinks that you wouldn’t normally have. Before you reach for that glass of cheer, beware, many fancy holiday drinks are loaded with calories, fat and sugar. Eggnog, Hot Chocolates, Coffees, Cocktails are some of the well liked holiday drinks that will not help you when you go to step on that scale. There are ways to still enjoy a tasty beverage, while leaving some of those additional calories behind.

Here are some of the favorite high calorie holiday drinks and what it would take a 150lb woman to burn it off.

  1. Peppermint Mocha – a 16-ounce serving has 470 calories and equal to 1 hour of intense yoga.
  2. Pumpkin Spice Latte- a 16-ounce serving contains 410 calories and equal to 40 minutes of step aerobics.
  3. Hot Buttered Rum – 418 calories and equal to a 4-mile run.
  4. Margarita – approximately 9-ounces is 408 calories and equal to 60 minutes on the rowing machine.
  5. White Russian – 355 calories and equal to 30 minutes of jumping rope.
  6. Eggnog – 1-cup serving is approximately 350 calories and equal to 35 minutes of kick boxing.
  7. Hot Chocolate – 12-ounce serving is 320 calories and equal to 60 minutes of raking leaves.

To combat these extra calories, but still enjoy a nice beverage, you just have to make a healthier choice. Here are some suggestions to not let the holiday cheer get away from us:

  • Go for the lighter options such as, Light Eggnog, Lowfat Lattes, Sparkling Cider.
  • Substitute the milk in the drink to a low fat or skim milk instead of creams and high fat milk.
  • Drink lots of water before, after and during holiday beverages. You’ll find you won’t have as many if you are hydrated with water.
  • Plan ahead. Choose a holiday beverage instead of dessert. Or drink the beverage earlier in the day so you can work off the calories.
  • Avoid the alcohol. Order the drink as a virgin and save up to 100 calories per beverage. Plus, you’ll be a safe driver over the holiday season.
  • Skip the extras. Avoid the whipped topping, chocolate sauce, sprinkles or candy cane. Even go as far ahead and ask the barista to give fewer pumps of the flavored syrup.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of what you love. Enjoy your favorite, but limit the amounts you have over the season. One delicious drink here and there isn’t going to hurt too much.
  • Continue with your exercise routine over the holidays. You’ll find the little bit extra you consume over the season, won’t have too big of an effect on the scale.

If you’re sensible over the holidays you can enjoy the festivities without increasing you calorie intake too much. Happy Holidays and stay safe.

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Getting Enough Zzz

Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, and inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles. Sleep is sometimes a luxury to many. Everyone needs to sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy.

Everyone’s lives are busy and people are constantly on the go. Sleep is often compensated to make time for other activities. Over time this can be very dangerous to a person’s health because sleep is necessary for the body to function properly. While you are sleeping, your body uses that time to rejuvenate and prepare for the following day. As you deprive yourself of sleep, your body begins to wear down and becomes more susceptible to disease, poor health, and poor mental condition. Sleep is especially important when you’re involved in a workout routine. Sleep is the most important part of your workout program. When you are sleeping, your muscles are healing and getting bigger. Getting enough sleep should be a priority.

Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night to be productive. Kids need even more sleep than adults. Getting enough sleep has many benefits:

  • Get sick less often
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Boost your brainpower and your mood
  • Think more clearly and do better in school and at work
  • Make better decisions and avoid injuries

It’s an excellent idea to keep a good sleep ritual that will get you to bed at a reasonable hour each night. Try these key points to healthy sleep habits.

  1. Go to bed at the same time each night.
  2. Limit your caffeine intake to earlier in the day, stopping caffeine after 4 p.m.
  3. Try to turn off the TV and computer an hour before going to bed.
  4. Have some tea (caffeine free), listen to soft music and read a book before bed.

Just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, so is sleep. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

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Snacking, Choose Wisely

There is nothing worse than that hungry feeling in between meals. You don’t want to ruin all the hard work in your weight loss program by eating snacks throughout the day. You don’t have to have that feeling, there are lots of healthy snacks for weight loss that are delicious and still nutritious.

A good rule to follow when looking for healthy snack foods is to make sure you look for snacks that are high in protein and contain complex carbohydrates. Protein is critical because it is a primary component of every cell in the human body. The body uses protein to make and mend tissue as well as to reproduce bone, muscle, hair, nail, skin and blood cells. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and come in two forms, simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are your better choice, such as whole grains. However, you can choose simple carbohydrates as long as you choose “good” simple carbohydrates, like the ones found in fresh fruits.

It is important to try to keep your snack foods within the range of approximately 100 to 150 calories and not to have them in an amount that would take you over your daily calories count. If you are allowed 1600 calories per day then it is reasonable to have three meals of about 400 calories each and two to three snacks of approximately 100-150 calories each. This should keep you within a calorie count to lose weight and remain on a healthy diet eating plan.

In addition to selecting snacks containing high protein and low carbohydrates, making sure to snack regularly in between meals is vital. It’s a great idea to get in tune with your internal hunger clock; don’t wait until your stomach starts talking to you. Practicing portion control will make snacking more effective for you. Instead of grabbing an entire bag of nuts from the kitchen cabinet, try measuring out the appropriate serving size ahead of time.

Here is a list of some good snack choices.

  • Apple slices
  • Whole grain bread sticks
  • Unsalted rice cakes
  • Baked tortilla chips
  • Nuts (1 ounce or less)
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Unsweetened canned fruit
  • Baked apple
  • Raisins
  • Frozen grapes
  • Celery
  • Dark chocolate
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Low-fat/fat free fruit yogurt

Eating healthy snack foods is just one part of a health maintenance strategy that should incorporate eating healthy and being active. Talk with your trainer and plan out your meal plan and workout routine.

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Heart Smart

Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in many countries. Excess weight and obesity are among the major contributing factors in heart problems. It is extremely important to have a heart smart diet such as one that is low in cholesterol, sodium and trans fats.

A Heart Smart diet works by helping you reduce your consumption of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. These two are replaced with lots of fiber-rich foods that are famous for lowering LDL. Foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and cereals are great for heart smart options. Also, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from food such as olives, fish, avocados, and nuts are great for eating heart smart. Equally important is the low amount of salt to help defend the health against high blood pressure. This diet ensures 50-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-25% of calories from protein, and less than 30% of calories from fat. Out of the fat content, saturated fat makes up less than 10%.

Here’s some tips on eating heart smart:

  1. Eat complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and rice. They fill you up, help increase your fiber intake, and make you less prone to eating sugary desserts and fatty meats. They also do not clog your arteries.
  2. Chicken and turkey skins contain a lot of saturated fat, and should definitely be avoided if you do not want coronary artery disease.
  3. Grill, Broil or Steam your food. Avoid frying your meat.
  4. Eat less egg yolks and organs. Egg yolks are more that 50% fat and have high amounts of cholesterol. Organ meats, like liver, may be rich in iron and protein, but they are extremely high in fat and cholesterol. Limit these items in your diet.
  5. Reduce meat portions and eat more fish. Eat 3-ounce of meat instead of 6-ounce or choose a fish option instead of steak.
  6. Pastries should be only a once in a while treat. They are usually high in saturated fat because they are made with shortening or butter. Choose healthier heart options such as whole grain breads or rolls.

Here’s a delicious heart smart sample meal plan for a day:

Breakfast: cinnamon banana toast, served with 125ml of low-fat yogurt, 1 tbsp of raisins, and 1 chopped apple.
Lunch: roasted beef pita with mango chutney and yogurt, cucumber, mixed salad leaves, and 1 small granola bar of about 21g.
Dinner: grilled fish with lentils and rice, 75g of steamed broccoli, and 1 apple.

Take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you for years to come. It is the starting point to a healthy you.

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Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Whatever the season, it’s always a nice treat to take care of you feet with a pedicure. Whether you do it yourself or visit a salon getting a pedicure will make your feet look nicer in the summer and you’ll be more comfortable in your winter boots with soft smooth feet.Try an at home pedicure. Begin with a long soak. Get your feet into a tub of hot water and soak your feet for at least 10 minutes. Take the dead skin cells off with a pumice stone. When done, make sure you dry your feet well. Moisturize your feet after their soak. Try creams that contain menthol or peppermint for a soothing feeling. The moisturizer will help keep your feet smooth and soft. Trim your toenails and hydrate your cuticles. And finish it all off with some polish. Bright colours can be playful, or chose a colour that will go with your outfit. Finish it with a top coat to protect it.

Here’s how to care for your feet all year long so that they will be healthy, look beautiful and feel wonderful.

  1. Eat Fish and Nuts – The nutrients you take in your food will decide how your hair, skin and nails will turn out and nuts and seeds contain omega oils which are necessary for radiant skin, healthy hair and nails.
  2. Exfoliate Your Feet – Scrub your feet with a foot scrub, or use exfoliating wash to get rid of dry, peeling skin and allow younger, healthier skin to surface. Exfoliate your feet daily. Pay attention to the rough patches and to your heels.
  3. Moisturize Your Feet – Feet respond even better to a massage with a good moisturizing clean. Do moisturize your feet immediately after washing them thoroughly and drying them with a towel.
  4. Groom Your Feet – Cut your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. When summer comes, pretty up your feet by painting the nails with your favourite nail polish.
  5. Prevent Fungal Infections – Once a week, soak your feet in a foot bath that has a few drops of tea tree oil added to clean warm water. For added luxury, you could add a little tea tree shampoo to the water for lather and use that to clean your feet too.

Looking for a great homemade moisturizing cream. Here is a recipe for an all natural moisturizing treatment for your feet.

1 ripe papaya
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Apply to feet then slip into old socks for at least 15 minutes

So, with some tender foot loving care, a pumice stone and some nail polish, it’s easy to achieve beautiful feet.

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Diet and Sleep

Sleep is so important in our health. And what we eat during the day can have a huge impact on our sleep. Food can affect how easily you fall asleep and the quality of the sleep you get. Some foods help your brain to calm down, while others stimulate it. If you have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping well, your food intake may be unwittingly causing problems.

Your food choices can sometimes affect the amount or even the quality of sleep that you get. Also, your food choices can help you achieve a better night’s sleep. We’ve all heard to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption near the end of the day. Good nutrition is important, but the right portion sizes are just as important. You don’t want to overdo it or you’ll also defeat the purpose of trying to get the right amount of sleep.

If you eat too much or eat the wrong thing before bed it can cause acid reflux during the night causing food to rise up in your throat. Acid reflux is irritating and painful and if left untreated will develop into a major health issue. Try a homemade quick relief remedy of an ounce of apple cider vinegar and a few ounces of water. Drink the mixture before bed.

Melatonin is an essential element necessary for promoting sleep. A few walnuts would be a perfect snack before bed because of their melatonin content. Almonds are another source to help you get to sleep because of the magnesium content they have.

Foods containing an amino acid called tryptophan are known to induce sleep. Tryptophan can help make you sleepy, and sleep better through the night. Foods without this may disturb your sleep. Adding carbohydrates with tryptophan-containing protein will help relax your brain. However, a carbohydrate-only snack is likely to stimulate you and make it hard to sleep.

Here are some foods that contain high amounts of tryptophan:

  • Whole grains
  • Hummus
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Dairy
  • Meats, Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Hazelnuts and Peanuts
  • Soy Foods

Lighter meals are better to help you relax. Avoid high-fat meals and large servings because they make your digestive system work too hard and may end up keeping you awake longer.

Try these ideas for dinner options that will help you sleep:

  • Pastas
  • Meat/Poultry with Vegetables
  • Stir-fry Tofu
  • Scrambled Eggs and Cheese
  • Seafood with Cheesy Pasta

When you get enough sleep along with good nutrition habits the two work together to help your body naturally repair itself and prevent health issues. Providing your body with sleep and good nutrition, your energy as well as your quality of life will naturally improve. Eating better and having a healthier lifestyle is one of the ways you can feel better every day and rest better at night.

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Meatless Mondays – Is It Worth a Try?

You may have started to hear a new trend out there called Meatless Monday. There may be some validation to this new initiative. In 2003 Meatless Monday was restarted as a public health awareness program, and by 2009 has been gaining popularity with celebrities campaigning and supporting it. Meatless Monday is part of the Healthy Monday initiative. Healthy Monday encourages people to make healthier decisions at the start of every week.

It was started to be beneficial for the health of the planet, as well as the health of humans. It is about healthy, sustainable eating. It’s about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s about doing what we can to slow down global warming and build a better future and planet. But on the other side of the coin, technology has become so much better in making food production greener. The beef industry’s carbon footprint has dropped 16% from 1977 to 2007. Its may not be that bad on the environment after all.

Eating too much meat is not good for our health. Reducing meat consumption (especially red, grilled and processed meats) can drastically reduce incidences of various cancers such as colon and prostate cancer. But, meat does have its many benefits as well. Meat contains very high amounts of protein, good for replenishing the body, upping the immune system, and building bones and lean muscle mass. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A and Iron. Meatless Monday is maybe a day to help you think about healthier eating.

There are many arguments that state going meatless is good for the environment and good for your health. But there are many arguments that state the opposite that eating meat is sustainable and offers many things that are good for your health. Be careful what you read, there are always two sides to the story. Make the decision for yourself, but do the research. On the bright side, eating more vegetables is never a bad thing.

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Exercise Addict

Remember the old adage, too much of anything in life can be a bad thing? Even something as simple as drinking water can be dangerous if you consume excessive levels. Exercise is a really important part of a healthy lifestyle – but make sure you build a healthy addiction to exercise. Exercising regularly is a major component in leading a healthy lifestyle. To get into the habit of exercising on a regular basis, you may need to set aside time in your schedule to visit the gym and find a type of exercise you can genuinely enjoy. At other times, you may have difficulty becoming addicted to exercising if you feel as if you aren’t reaching your goals in terms of fitness or weight loss. This is where a personal trainer can really keep you motivated and keep your enthusiasm and interest in your workout while changing things up and staying on track of your goals. Take a positive approach to exercise and making specific changes to your lifestyle, you can become addicted to exercising and improve your health in the process.

Here are some tips to become a Healthy Exercise Addict.

  1. Select a type of exercise best aligned with your interests.
  2. Recruit a friend or family member to exercise with you.
  3. Set aside time in your day for exercise.
  4. Exercise at your pace.
  5. Set fitness and training goals.
  6. Keep yourself entertained while you exercise.
  7. Reward yourself (clothing, jewelry, shoes).

Recovery time is an important aspect of physical training and without it you are likely to eventually experience physical symptoms, such as muscle or joint damage, prolonged fatigue, and be more prone to infections. Again, working with a trainer will make sure you aren’t over doing it and prevent you from doing more damage than good.

Don’t let exercise start to take over your life. Have it be an important part of your week, but ensure that you take some recovery time and don’t forget about spending time with those that are important in your life. Liking what you do, will make you want to continue to do it. Make exercise your healthy addiction.

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