Tag Archives: Live healthy Brown county

Practicing Slowness & Being Present

I set a goal for myself this year to be more present.  To spend less time multi-tasking and more time focused on one-thing-at-a-time.  Yes, I’m still working on that goal! Yes, I still find myself having time for just one more quick thing and rushing through my moments.  But, I’m better than I’ve ever been before.

For today’s healthy living post for the holidays, which will also be my last for 2014 as I take the holidays off to re-charge, re-connect and re-center, I bring you this great guest article from a enews I get from ZenHabits.

I also send you my wishes for peaceful Christmas and New Year’s celebrations full of grace that bring you happiness and joy!

 

Practicing Slowness & Being Present
By Leo Babauta

In our rush to get through the tasks of our day, to complete our errands and answer emails, to look at the next video or link we find … when do we think we’ll find happiness?

If it’s not here right now, when will it come?

Maybe we think it’ll come when we improve our lives, or meet our goals, or succeed at our business, or finish our college degree. Maybe it’ll come when we go on that next trip, or when we find time to relax. Maybe tomorrow.

Or we could try this:

Slow down instead of rushing.
Pause to savor the current moment.
Really notice everything about the moment, and find small things to appreciate.
Be grateful for what there is right here, right now.
Allow the things that are bothering you to just be in your life, without fighting with them, without pushing them away.
Don’t allow little things to offend you. They’re not worth ruining this moment.
Let the beauty of this moment wash over you like a warm foamy wave.

These are all things we already know. But we don’t actually do them. The key here is practice.

If you don’t practice being present, slowing down, enjoying the moment right now, when will you practice? What are you practicing now instead?

Start your practice this moment.

‘When you live completely in each moment, without expecting anything, you have no idea of time.’ ~Shunryu Suzuki

Stressed? What??? Me! Why would you think that???

holidaystress

I love the holidays.  I do.  Really.  No, I’m not kidding.

holidaystresshat

My holidays are admittedly a lot less stressful now that my kids are out of school and on their own.  The stress of shopping for them, their friends & teachers (and keeping things hidden and don’t even get me started on St. Nick’s Day!), plus school commitments, holiday parties & events in addition to our own family obligations and my work ones was, well, often a lot!  I’m not telling those of you living those days anything you don’t know, but it can be managed.

babystressholiday

Here are 7 tips for managing stress and anxiety this time of year:

  • Do just a few things well.  There is a lot of stress this time of year to make it “the most wonderful time of year.”  For example:
    • I love to decorate for the holidays and my dining room is my favorite spot to decorate though I do spread it around the house.  However, I do *very* little outside.  I have multiple wreaths and a few things that hang in pre-placed hanging spots, but other than those, no.  If it isn’t your thing, just do one room, or your tree, or the top of the toilet tank and feel really good about it!
    • What about holiday cards?  Do you like to sit down and send them or do you do so out of obligation. If it is obligation, borrow my rule for Christmas cards. It is my same rule as invitations for major family events – if I have neither seen nor spoken (even electronically) to you in the last 15 months (last year’s card not included) – no card for you!  I mean really?  The time, the cost, the stress, the point??  Just no.
    • Do you bake & decorate cookies with your kids?  Cool!  If you are stressing about not having time to make them and you haven’t discovered pre-made dough then I have a Christmas miracle for you!!  All kids care about is cutting out and decorating them anyway.  Save the hour for those cards you feel obligated to send to Great Aunt what’s-her-name who used to be married to Mom’s Uncle Cliff!
  • Attending parties that stress you and you attend because you are obligated.  I’m not talking about extended family get-togethers which is a whole Oprah having coffee with Dr. Phil episode!  I mean that party a certain someone “hosts” every year and everyone seems to go to.  The one that requires you to dress in some unusual fashion, bring a sports related gift to swap, bake 6 dozen cookies to exchange, and bring a bottle of wine and homemade appetizer?  That one where you have a crick in your neck before you go, get a monster headache while you are there and snap at your spouse on the way home?  Yup, that one. Just.say.no.  Along with any other party that isn’t actually fun, they are supposed to be FUN (caveat inserted about extended family …)
  • We all want to give back and express both our gratitude as well as our Christmas spirit, we post about it here often.  BUT — Don’t over-commit. Commit to ONE *extra* activity.  Find one thing during the holidays that you are passionate about and touches your heart.  Otherwise, you will end up resentful not grateful!
  • Don’t make a major change in your life right now.  If it was something that bothered you before, chances are it is driving you to distraction right now.  Don’t get a buzz or pixie cut.  Don’t remodel the kitchen or suddenly quit your job.  Make sure whatever big thing you might do now is because the timing is right for that change, not because you feel like things are out of control.  If it is a good idea, it will still be a good idea in 16 days.
  • Get some “You” time.  The grocery store or gift shopping doesn’t count.  Find a place where you have no obligation to get something done, all by yourself for at least an hour.  (Unless that some place is the gym … see next item!)
  • Exercise and sleep.  Yes. You must do both.  Running around like a crazy person getting things done is *not* exercise.    At least 20 minutes 3 times a week do something to work out that stress.  Sleep, this is number two on the list (after exercise) that gets sacrificed this time of year.  Don’t do it!  You must sleep. The laundry to be folded and dishes to be done will be there in the morning (the cleaning elves went on holiday in 1966 and have never returned, trust me, it will be there) – but that is okay!  No one will become ill because the towels didn’t get folded and put away or the last 5 dishes washed.  Sleep and exercise are CRUCIAL.
  • Try to turn a sad moment into a warm memory.  It is very easy this time of year to think about those are no longer with us and become overwhelmed with missing them. Death, divorce, relocation, or just one of those things. No matter how this is affecting you this year, try to pull out a memory and sit warmly with it for a few moments.  Remembering something happy and moving forward is the best way to stop feeling sad.

This time of year (especially the next 8 days) can be over-the-top stressful, but if you take a breath and limit yourself while taking care of yourself, you CAN enjoy the holidays.  Really.

I’d love to hear any tips you have for managing stress and life this time of year!

 

Most wonderful time of the year, except for …

I love the holidays.  I love the decorating, seeing the holiday lights, finding the perfect gift and annual ornament for each family member, watching seasonal movies ~ Miracle on 34th Street with Dylan McDermott and Richard Attenborough and A Christmas Carol with Jean Luc Picard, err… Patrick Stewart are my preferred versions and nothing beats Jimmy Stewart’s “George Bailey” in the original It’s a Wonderful Life ~ and spending time with friends and family, as well as cooking and eating.

Holiday eating, or as I call it “the brown sugar, butter & cinnamon time of year,” is particularly hard on the waistline and hips!  I have pretty much zero willpower, though if I look at the calories on something and then calculate how much time I will be working out to burn off that goodie, it does dampen my enthusiasm for it a bit! However, I still indulge more than I *want* to and then I feel guilty for having such low willpower. However, I read an interesting excerpt from a book recently that made me realize it isn’t just my low willpower to blame for the sugar binging; there is another reason!    It isn’t a magic wand and doesn’t eliminate the need to be responsible about my eating choices nor does it give me a pass to skip my workouts, but, it was very interesting.  Plus, it reminds me why I need to limit my sugar intake in general.

Enjoy!

Excerpt from:  Salt, Sugar, fat by Michael Moss. Sugar was a rare for centuries, but is now abundant. And eating sugar makes us crave still more sugar:

“The first thing to know about sugar is this: Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets.
The myth of the tongue map; that 1 tastes bitter, 2 tastes sour, 3 tastes salt, and 4 tastes sweet.

“Forget what we learned in school from that old diagram called the tongue map, the one that says our five main tastes are detected by five distinct parts of the tongue. That the back has a big zone for blasts of bitter, the sides grab the sour and the salty, and the tip of the tongue has that one single spot for sweet. The tongue map is wrong. As researchers would discover in the 1970s, its creators misinterpreted the work of a German graduate student that was published in 1901; his experiments showed only that we might taste a little more sweetness on the tip of the tongue. In truth, the entire mouth goes crazy for sugar, including the upper reaches known as the palate. There are special receptors for sweetness in everyone of the mouth’s ten thousand taste buds, and they are all hooked up, one way or another, to the parts of the brain known as the pleasure zones, where we get rewarded for stoking our bodies with energy. But our zeal doesn’t stop there. Scientists are now finding taste receptors that light up for sugar all the way down our esophagus to our stomach and pancreas, and they appear to be intricately tied to our appetites.

“The second thing to know about sugar: Food manufacturers are well aware of the tongue map folly, along with a whole lot more about why we crave sweets. They have on staff cadres of scientists who specialize in the senses, and the companies use their knowledge to put sugar to work for them in countless ways. Sugar not only makes the taste of food and drink irresistible. The industry has learned that it can also be used to pull off a string of manufacturing miracles, from donuts that fry up bigger to bread that won’t go stale to cereal that is toasty-brown and fluffy. All of this has made sugar a go-to ingredient in processed foods. On average, we consume 71 pounds of caloric sweeteners each year. That’s 22 teaspoons of sugar, per person, per day. The amount is almost equally split three ways, with the sugar derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, and the group of corn sweeteners that includes high-fructose corn syrup (with a little honey and syrup thrown into the mix).

“That we love, and crave, sugar is hardly news. … Cane and beets [were] the two main sources of sugar until the 1970s, when rising prices spurred the invention of high-fructose corn syrup, which had two attributes that were attractive to the soda industry. One, it was cheap, effectively subsidized by the federal price supports for corn; and two, it was liquid, which meant that it could be pumped directly into food and drink. Over the next thirty years, our consumption of sugar-sweetened soda more than doubled to 40 gallons a year per person, and while this has tapered off since then, hitting 32 gallons in 2011, there has been a commensurate surge in other sweet drinks, like teas, sportsades, vitamin waters, and energy drinks. Their yearly consumption has nearly doubled in the past decade to 14 gallons a person.

“Far less well known than the history of sugar, however, is the intense research that scientists have conducted into its allure, the biology and psychology of why we find it so irresistible.

“For the longest time, the people who spent their careers studying nutrition could only guess at the extent to which people are attracted to sugar. They had a sense, but no proof, that sugar was so powerful it could compel us to eat more than we should and thus do harm to our health. That all changed in the late 1960s, when some lab rats in upstate New York got ahold of Froot Loops, the supersweet cereal made by Kellogg. The rats were fed the cereal by a graduate student named Anthony Sclafani who, at first, was just being nice to the animals in his care. But when Sclafani noticed how fast they gobbled it up, he decided to concoct a test to measure their zeal. Rats hate open spaces; even in cages, they tend to stick to the shadowy corners and sides. So Sclafani put a little of the cereal in the brightly lit, open center of their cages — normally an area to be avoided — to see what would happen. Sure enough, the rats overcame their instinctual fears and ran out in the open to gorge.

“Their predilection for sweets became scientifically significant a few years later when Sclafani — who’d become an assistant professor of psychology at Brooklyn College — was trying to fatten some rats for a study. Their standard Purina Dog Chow wasn’t doing the trick, even when Sclafani added lots of fats to the mix. The rats wouldn’t eat enough to gain significant weight. So Sclafani, remembering the Froot Loops experiment, sent a graduate student out to a supermarket on Flatbush Avenue to buy some cookies and candies and other sugar-laden products. And the rats went bananas, they couldn’t resist. They were particularly fond of sweetened condensed milk and chocolate bars. They ate so much over the course of a few weeks that they grew obese.



“‘Everyone who owns pet rats knows if you give them a cookie they will like that, but no one experimentally had given them all they want,’ Sclafani told me when I met him at his lab in Brooklyn, where he continues to use rodents in studying the psychology and brain mechanisms that underlie the desire for high-fat and high-sugar foods. When he did just that, when he gave his rats all they wanted, he saw their appetite for sugar in a new light. They loved it, and this craving completely overrode the biological brakes that should have been saying: Stop.

“The details of Sclafani’s experiment went into a 1976 paper that is revered by researchers as one of the first experimental proofs of food cravings. Since its publication, a whole body of research has been undertaken to link sugar to compulsive overeating. In Florida, researchers have conditioned rats to expect an electrical shock when they eat cheesecake, and still they lunge for it. Scientists at Princeton found that rats taken off a sugary diet will exhibit signs of withdrawal, such as chattering teeth.”

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Author: Michael Moss
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Copyright 2013 by Michael Moss
Pages 3-6


If you wish to read further: Buy Now

 

If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children’s literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity.
Back to Cheryl – I get daily snippets of non-fiction books from DelanceyPlace via email.  They are about the length of the one above and since I don’t normally read non-fiction (unless to do with something for work or school) are a nice size for me to decide if I want to get the book and read more.  Even if I don’t take that step, I’ve likely learned something I didn’t know – which I love to do.

Healthy living through gratitude

The Executive Edge Challenge is over for 2014.  I didn’t hit my goals – yet – but it was a just push for me!  I’m about mid-way through the Metabolic Meltdown Challenge I mentioned and wow, I’m definitely melting and building tone & muscle.  Today though, I thought I’d switch gears a bit.

I have always loved November.  First of all .. the first is my birthday.  Second, I prefer cool weather to hot and I adore snuggling in soft, cozy clothes.  Third, having a reason to have a fire going is awesome.   Fourth, it is a month that begins with me saying “Thank You” for gifts and best wishes and ends in thankfulness.   I am thankful for memories & gratitude.

By nature, I’m a pretty positive person who looks for the silver lining in every cloud.  Sometimes I really, really have to squint to see it, but I nearly always find it.  I’ve been told I have a “sweet spirit” because I see the best in people and find it difficult (and not a little distasteful) to speak ill of people.  Before I’d heard of karma, I had the sense talking negatively about others would bounce back to me in some way.   One of the really good things my Mom always used to say was, “If they will talk badly to you about someone else, know they are very probably talking badly about you to the next person.”  I’ve always tried to keep those words in mind and not gossip about others.  I tried to pass it on to my children.  Time will tell how I did as well.

As part of my overall positive nature, I try to live with an “attitude of gratitude,” as I think it makes me feel happier.  Research supports that sense. One study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who wrote and delivered a heartfelt thank-you letter actually felt happier for a full month after, and the same researchers discovered that writing down three positive events each day for a week kept happiness levels high for up to six months.

According to researchers at Eastern Washington University, there are four primary characteristics of grateful people, and these are the ones that thank-you notes and a gratitude journal can help tap, strengthen, and invigorate. People who experience the most gratitude (and therefore the positive effects) tend to:

  • Feel a sense of abundance in their lives
  • Appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being
  • Recognize and enjoy life’s small pleasures
  • Acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude

And, according to “The Greater Good” at Berkeley University, there are physical, psychological and social benefits as well:

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

As part of #NaBloPoMo month, I’ve started a 21 days of gratitude challenge.  The bloggers I’ve seen doing it started on November 1st, but I started it the 7th so my 21st day is on Thanksgiving.  For as long as my daughter can remember, at Thanksgiving dinner we have always gone around the table taking turns saying what we are grateful for.  They have always rolled their eyes at me and both my son and son-in-law each year say they hope I will forget about it, but I secretly think they like it too.  Join me if you’d like!  The challenge I’m doing is from a Facebook page challenge in May that I saw, but I found the author’s website as well.  I didn’t do it then because I wanted it for now!  Week one I’ll look to ordinary things in my life and find the magic in them. Week two, I’ll focus on past and present experiences and I’ll spend the final week being grateful for the people in my life.

I found another one if you want to do the challenge as a family or as more of a parent perspective.   Here are the prompts for the one I’m doing:

Gratitude Challenge

You can blog about these, put them on social media, keep a journal or just stop and think about them for yourself.  There is no magic formula, just do it!
Day 1: Notice the things that bring you JOY
Day 2: Take a moment to think about the things that make your life easier
Day 3: Be grateful for something beautiful in your life.
Day 4:  Today is all about food! Treat yourself to something delicious today. Be present in the moment and grateful for that experience.
Day 5:  Today’s gratitude challenge is all about your favorite color
Day 6: Today we’ll focus our gratitude on something we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) want to live without
Day 7: Fill in the …  “Today I am Grateful For …”
Day 8: A place you are grateful for.
Day 9- Focus your gratitude on stories that you have read or seen. (i.e. can book film or play)
Day 10: The calming experience or serenity in you day
Day 11: Your mom or mother-figure
Day 12: A first experience that you were/are grateful for
Day 13: Today’s gratitude is for those moments that make you laugh until your stomach hurts
Day 14: No, not algebra, no need to solve, just fill in the “x” and “y” – “I am grateful for (x) because (x)”
Day 15: Say thank you to someone. And really mean it!!
Day 16: The people/person in your life who inspire(s) you.
Day 17: Friendships, both near and far, new and old.
Day 18: The teachers you have had
Day 19: Your miraculous body
Day 20: All the love in your life. All the people you love and who love you in return.
Day 21:  Fill in the … “Today I am grateful for …”

Days of rest

Today is a day of rest for me.  I usually take rest days on Friday and Sunday, but sometimes Wednesday and Sunday.  This week today is definitely a day of rest.  A much needed one.  While I wasn’t in the gym over the weekend,  I did some tabatas at home as part of the Metabolic Meltdown session I’m doing and I raked/did yard work for 8 hours between Saturday and Sunday.  I burned 893 calories during Sunday’s activity alone!  Sunday was NOT a rest day for me.  Today, I woke and knew I needed the rest.  I felt a tiny little niggle of guilt at the back of my mind, but I know rest days are critical when training or staying with any workout lifestyle.

We count steps, active minutes, and calories burned/consumed. These are all important pieces of data that help us live healthier, more active lives. But we often don’t stress the important of rest and why your body needs days off.

From Dean Karnazes, ultra-marathon man:

1.Rest Prevents Injury – It’s common sense that resting is beneficial for injury reduction, but why? Well for starters, rest days prevent overuse. That extends from running to lifting and even walking. If you’re a regular runner, you know how much your legs and feet can take until you just need a day off. If you push it too hard without a break, your muscles and joints suffer from overuse and that’s where injuries can happen.

2. Your Muscles Need Rest – This is likely the first thing you learned about strength training. When you lift weights, you’re essentially tearing muscle fibers. But without a proper period of rest for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to get the benefit of your training. That’s why you need to vary the muscle groups you engage on staggered days.

3. Your Performance Won’t Dip – In general, it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level. So don’t think that taking a day or two off from training will set you back all that hard work you’ve put in.

4. Over-training Affects Sleep – Is your sleep data all over the place? Over-training could be the culprit. Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making a good night’s sleep tough to achieve. A telltale sign is an increase in your resting heart rate. Taking those rest day can help bring down your alertness and heart rate, which can help get you a night of sound sleep.

5. Your Immune System Can Overheat – During periods of heavy activity, our immune systems are constantly activating to repair muscles and joints. Without proper rest, your immune system can’t catch up to all the repairs your body needs. And then? You guessed it: injuries.

6. Mental Edge – From a psychological standpoint, taking a rest period can rekindle your hunger for exercise and help prevent burnout. Mental fatigue can be every bit as detrimental as physical fatigue and taking a rest day helps to recharge the psyche.

 

So, rest!  Rest when you need it.  Sometimes rest when your mind thinks no but your body says yes!

Rest is as important as fueling your body correctly to working out effectively and having good health.  Slow down, fuel up and hit it again the next day  (or maybe the day after that … it is your body – listen to it!).

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Of comfort zones and jumping out of them!

I’m not a super adventurous kind of athlete.  I actually *really*, *really*, *really* hesitate to use the word “athlete” to describe me at all.

Full Definition of ATHLETE

:  a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

Examples of ATHLETE

  1. Athletes from around the world will be competing at the Olympics.
  2. She was quite an athlete as a child.

Origin of ATHLETE

Middle English, from Latin athleta, from Greek athlētēs, fromathlein to contend for a prize, from athlon prize, contest

First Known Use: 15th century
Not me.  I am more like the Energizer Bunny … I just keep going but not anything remotely resembling “elegant” or “graceful” or looking good during or afterward.  In fact, this is me:
Stilllookpretty
So, for me to get out of my comfort zone with what I’m doing for my workouts is pretty hard.  I’m thinking most of you who are working through the process of lifestyle change are the same, right?
Well, beginning this week and for the next 8 weeks,  I am not only stepping out of my comfort zone but am leaping about 3 counties out of my comfort zone.  Led by the amazing Kari Merrill,  Group Fitness Director at Western Racquet , 25 amazing women (and, well, me)  are taking part in the “Metabolic Meltdown AMPED UP” program.  It is 8 weeks of hard core fitness, fun, sweat, support and HOMEWORK.  Holy.Bears. the homework is intense.  Like scary intense.
But, I need a change.  A push.  My Fitness Energizer Bunny batteries, after nearly 3 full years, are running down and they need to be changed out.  I know this will be so hard, but it is what I need.  So, if  like me:
  • you are feeling stuck …
  • feeling like you are no longer making progress …
  • feeling like your get-up-and-go for fitness has gotten-up-and-left …

 

then I encourage you – no I challenge you to jump out of your comfort zone!  There are a zillion different things you can try … add weights, use the Arc Trainer instead of the Treadmill, do a class, try heated yoga, play racquetball, meet with a personal trainer.  Whatever you have been doing, just do something different and new and scary. You can only get better and more healthy.  And if you hate it, you will have other choices to try.

Here is the motto for the rest of 2014:
traininsane
Let me know what you do!

Balance – Not just for gymnasts and yogis

healthy-balance

I struggle with maintaining balance, also known as sanity, when it comes to my fitness and nutrition.

I really get in the zone sometimes and am on track with eating clean and working out dirty (don’t take that wrong, I mean getting sweaty and really getting it done!).  Other times, not so much.  And then?  GUILT SETS IN.  I don’t give up, but I definitely don’t feel good about myself and I beat myself up over it.

However, living healthy means living a life that is in balance.  Maybe for you balance is being very ordered and always eating healthy foods, working out and doing all of the prescribed things for being healthy each and every day. That is perfect for you and I congratulate you.   For me, not so much.  For me being in balance means I have to regularly remind myself that life is, well, life.  And life means my schedule won’t always allow for me to workout as I’d like to and that I don’t always take the time (carve out the time) to prep and plan so I have healthy, filling foods at the ready in order to eat as well as I know I want to.

It also means sometimes I just go ahead and have chocolate and wine for dinner with a handful or two of Lay’s Kettle Cooked Salt & Vinegar chips.  I acknowledge it, log in and know the next day is a new day for me to do the right things.    More often it means I have a few bites of dessert or snacks or a glass or two of wine and include it into my daily log.  I can do so and not go over my allowances for the day so I feel good about my bottom line.  Now, yes, I know.  Doing so isn’t the best choice for good training and optimal health, but it is fine to do so now and then.  Balance for me means I don’t live a life of denial and discontent because I’m not enjoying things I like.  I don’t do it every day.  But I do it.  And that is part of living a healthy lifestyle and as well as a balanced one.

I don’t want to be old and in ill-health and unhappy about it; but I also don’t want to be young, in good health and making everyone around me miserable because I am such a nag about my choices … and theirs … while also making myself manic with guilt.

So, balance means finding a middle ground between doing everything like you are supposed to and doing ALL the WRONG things all the time.  Let me know your progress and how you find *your* balance.

 

Time away is healthy too

When is the last time you took a vacation from work?  As in didn’t call in, check voicemail?  As in didn’t check email?

When you did, was it a long weekend?  A full week?  *gasp* 2 weeks?!

When was the magical mystery time you took?  A year ago?  2?  Longer??

You’ve probably guessed this is not a good thing if you haven’t taken time away.  But, don’t feel bad.  1/3 of Americans say they take vacations less than once every couple of years or never!

Here are reasons you should:

  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier
  • Vacations Promote Overall Wellbeing: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keep on giving.

I’ve been taking a lot of extended weekends for my vacations this year and then took a whole week at Labor Day.  Wow!  Was that fabulous!  My brain and body felt so much better when I returned.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I remember years ago, I took my kids to Jamaica.  We had no phone, no internet, very little TV.  We swam, walked and read books.  However, it took my 15 year old daughter and I about 3 days to de-jitter and it was late on day 4 before we felt relaxed.  So, if you can – take more than just a 4 day weekend.  You don’t even need to go anywhere.  Just disconnnect and turn your brain off.  I typically take vacation at the Christmas holidays and hang out at home.  Wonderful time with family and resetting me for the new year.

Everyone will thank you!

If you are looking to get away, you should join us tomorrow night – Thursday, October 9th at our Chairman’s Gala.  Click HERE to register and for info.  As if Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, Greater Green Bay Convention Visitor Bureau President Brad Toll Cvb and our 2014 Award Presentations weren’t enough to entice you to attend our Chairman’s Gala this Thursday at the Swan Club at Legends in De Pere? Well, there is an *awesome* door prize package that you must be in attendance to win.

Prize package: 2 Night Stay at the Heidel House Resort & Spa, Champagne and Chocolates delivered to your room, $100 Dining Credit and $200 Evansong Spa Gift Card! 

Hope to see you – but, if you are on vacation?  I’ll understand and applaud you!  Let me know how it was!

 

 

 

Short attention span

I am a tremendous multi-tasker.  I am doing more than one thing at a time, most of the time.  I also have a very short attention span.  Which means I get bored pretty quickly.  I have talked to lots of people who do as well and they tell me that is why they don’t stick to an exercise program.  I completely understand!  *hand up* me too!  I don’t even take the dogs on the same route each day for their walk!

I’ve been pretty successful over the last 3 1/2 years at keeping boredom at bay by doing the following:

  • I’m very fortunate with my fitness club.  Western Racquet has a set class schedule but the content of the classes are always different.  (Other than Step class for which the choreography is the same for the month and it just takes a while to learn it … fortunately for me!)  They also add/drop classes depending on demand/response. But, finding classes that aren’t the same over and over is helpful.
  • When I can’t get to a scheduled class, or when I’m out of town, I have found MyFitStation on Facebook as well as mydreamshape.com.  They post a monthly workout calendar and each day is a different workout.  They are all planned out so I don’t have to do so, but they are varied without me having to figure out my own plan so I don’t get bored or frustrated.  Pinterest is also a great source for workouts you can do on your own.
  • I occasionally throw in something completely different to change it up.  Like Belly Dancing or a bike ride or something.  Just a curve ball to make it feel new.  I am thinking of going back to racquetball again and I haven’t tried that in well over 20 years!
  • While I, in general, like it better when I work out with other people (a friend or in a class), sometimes I just like to put the ear buds in and tune out the world. I hop on the elliptical or the Stairmaster and read while I work out on the machine.  That also takes my mind off how hard the workout is since I’m without the encouragement of a class instructor.
  • I have had a few personal training sessions and while I’ve enjoyed those workouts; I’m just not sure that is something worth it for me for either the workout value or for the cost value.  I sort of feel, well, a little picked on with most trainers!  The two I’ve worked with recently haven’t made me feel like that at all and I’ve benefited from their coaching in how to do some exercises correctly that I hadn’t been.  I think that will prevent me from injury and also give me the best benefit from the work.  So … jury out for me on personal training but if you need a push or a jump or a little snazz it up … maybe try it!

If you have trouble sticking to a workout schedule, it may not be you or even the specific workouts – you just may need some change up.  I know I would never have last 3 months let alone 3 years if I did the same 3 or 4 workouts all the time.  *ick* You know what they say about variety?  Well, it is the spice of your fitness life too.

Have a great week!

The other side of the keep moving equation

I remember a few years ago when I started the Executive Edge program and I had my health assessment completed.  I was ready for weight (too high), waist/hip ratio (ewww) body fat percentage (don’t even get me started) and the look when I revealed how little I worked out.  I was NOT prepared for them to ask me how much I sleep.  I thought for a moment or two and then said, 5-6 hours a night.  The nurse doing my intake raised her eyebrows and said, “that needs to be 8-9 hours if you want to lose weight and gain health.”

Wait.  Really?  Take 3-ish hours OUT of my already far-t0o-full day and just sleep?  When on earth did she think I was going to get anything done as well as add 5-7 hours per week of exercise??  ummm.. right.  I’d get right on that.

I’m not much of a sleeper.  I’m rather like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going and going until someone ranks my batteries and then I simply … S.T.O.P.  I don’t run down.  I crash.  And then when I wake, be in 20 minutes, 2 hours or whatever, I’m wide awake and running again.  I’m infamous for emailing folks at 3am with an “I’ve been thinking …”  I just never needed much sleep, nor was I good at doing it for any length of time (unless I’m sick); so the idea of just sleeping 3 extra hours a DAY … like 21 less hours of my life available each week … suuuurreee.  But, I was committed to this whole living healthy thing, so I said, “okay.  I’ll see what I can do.”  And, like I do anything, off I went to research.

The sleep-diet connection is regular fodder for diet books and magazine articles. Maybe you have even heard about the sleep diet, which suggests you can lose weight while you catch your ZZZs.

And it’s true, sort of.

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, he says. “If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

I found information, lots of it.

If you’re looking for a fairly painless way to lose weight (or at least not gain) researchers at Brigham Young University have a new solution for you: Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule.

People who maintain an unvarying sleep routine have a lower percentage of body fat than those who keep irregular sleep hours, says a new study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Led by Bruce Bailey, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young, researchers followed 300 female college students, ages 19 to 26, who were given activity trackers to monitor their movements and activities, including waking and sleeping times. The study participants were assessed for body composition before and after the one-week study period.

What the researchers found:

  • Getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep and more than 8.5 hours of sleep was linked to higher body fat

  • High quality sleep was associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat

  • Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day (particularly a consistent wake time) was most strongly linked with lower body fat

And even recently,

Insufficient sleep affects appetite and satiety hormones as well as fat cells, according to the nation’s top sleep experts.

If you want to lose weight, be sure to get enough sleep.

Most people know they should cut calories and exercise more to trim down, but there’s now significant scientific evidence that another critical component to weight control is avoiding sleep deprivation, sleep scientists say.

“There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain,” says Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago. She has spent 15 years studying the topic.

Sleep deprivation probably affects every process in the body, she says. “Our body is not wired for sleep deprivation. The human is the only mammal that does this.”

This would be a pretty story with a bow on it, if I could say it was that easy.  It wasn’t … it isn’t.  I struggled and I still do.  Here is what I found helps me:

  • When I’m tired, I go right to bed.  If I get home and I’m feeling tired or sleepy (not a common occurrence, but still), I get to bed.  ASAP.  If I don’t, I get wired and I’m off to the races and probably will be up even later than I would have normally.  I know, I know, I’m odd!
  • I love love love Sleepytime Extra Tea by Celestial Seasonings.  Sounds silly, but I swear by it. Yes, yes, I know.  It has probably become a Pavlovian trigger for me, but I don’t care.  It helps.
  • If I find that I’m tired, but wired, I do some easy yoga.  No, not the pretzel-y, twist-y, gumby kind you may be thinking of, but like this, Yoga for Better Sleep, just 14 minutes long and very relaxing.  That site, DoYouYoga.com, has some great workouts for all the non-yogis in the crowd.  Good, good stuff.
  • If I’m still tired, but wired, I meditate.  You are now picturing me on a mountain top, sitting in a lotus position, chanting “Ohhhmmm” aren’t you?  Yeah, right.  Not so much me!  What I do is either find a comfortable seated, kneeling or laying on my back position, then I don’t “clear my mind and think of nothing.”  That just does not work for me!  But I focus.  Either on a series of thoughts that relax me or music (I really like Omvana. It is an app as well as a website.  Some tracks are free, some are for purchase.  I really like them).  If you have a mantra, focus on that.  Mine has changed many times over the years.  Find something positive and relaxing that works for you to close your day out.  Just something like, “Today was a full day.  I am thankful for what I accomplished and those I spent time with.  I forgive myself for anything I didn’t get done and I commit to start tomorrow on new, fresh ground.  Today was a gift. Tomorrow is a promise.”  Then, while thinking that (over and over), I focus on relaxing each part of my body from my feet up then I focus on breathing.  Just breathing in and out. Feeling my tummy rise and expand, then my ribs and finally my chest up under my collar bones. Slight pause while full of air.  Then, slowly emptying out, releasing any residual stress.  Then I repeat.  I have to be honest, often it takes me a good long while to stop the mental chatter.  But it works.  Stick with it.
  • If I get into bed and my mind starts to go again or I just need something else, I love Dormio.  It is both an app as well as a website. For me, their Urban Rain & Thunder is amazing.  It works nearly every time.  I set the timer for 20 minutes in the program and only for a handful of times have I still be awake at the end of the timer cycle.

Long story short?  Sleep and I have a twisted, difficult relationship.  However, in my journey to health and wellness, it is one I am learning to manage well!

Sleep well, y’all!