Woman at the gym

Stay Safe At The Gym

If you are like most children, you have grown up being taught that sharing is a beautiful thing. We share our toys, we share our food, we share our houses. However, as time has gone on and science has gotten more advanced, we have learned that with sharing comes a not so pretty consequence. It turns out that when we share our things, we share our germs as well. Sure, Suzy was nice enough to give Jimmy her extra Twinkie, but she gave it to him with her bare hands. Did Suzy wash her hands after she went to the bathroom?

As we grow up, we are still expected to share, only our toys have gotten a little more adult. Our jungle gyms have been replaced by gym equipment, but, unfortunately, the threat of germs is just as real. According to a December 2014 study found in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 25 different types of bacteria were found on handrails, toilet handles and equipment at four gyms in Memphis. The most common category of bacteria found were Staphylococcus or staph, a species known to be a cause of skin infection.

Why are Gyms a Breeding Ground for Skin infection?
Although it is easy to see how a virus may spread from one treadmill to another, it may be more difficult to imagine how skin infections are transferred. Fungi, bacteria and viruses that lead to skin infections thrive in warm, moist areas. Therefore, the sweat left on towels and exercise equipment provides the ideal tropical location for bacteria. The germs are also quite comfortable in a nice warm shower, sauna, or swimming pool deck. Not only that, but because staph infections are resistant to a variety of antibiotics, they can live on mats exercise machines and locker room benches for days.

Amber Marie Vasquez, MD and spokesperson for the CDC says, ” Skin infections…are most commonly reported in athletes engaged in sports that involve skin to skin contact, such as football or wrestling, but transmission can also occur…before and after participation-in locker rooms, for example. Open wounds, poor hygiene, and the sharing of towels and equipment all increase your risk.”

Sizing Up a Gym for Cleanliness
If you are checking out a new gym, it may be a good idea to check with the management about the cleaning routine. Make sure that the locker rooms and gyms are cleaned at least once a day with disinfectants and detergents registered by the EPA. Make sure disinfectant sprays and wipes are easily accessible and that equipment is well maintained with no damaged surfaces that make equipment more difficult to clean. “Also, bathrooms and locker rooms should be stocked with liquid soap or alcohol based hand sanitizer,” says Vasquez.

Lowering Your Risk

  • Protect Your Skin. Make sure cuts and scrapes are kept clean and covered with a bandage. Keep a towel or item of clothing between exercise equipment and your skin and always wear flip flops or jellies in the shower.
  • BYO Exercise Mat. Since yoga and gym mats may not be cleaned between classes, it is safest to bring your own.
  • Partake in Good Hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after using equipment and playing sports. Although a wash in good old soap and water is your best bet, the CDC advises utilizing a sanitizer that has an alcohol content of at least 60% if soap is not available. Disinfect fitness equipment with sprays and wipes before and after use and shower after you exercise, or use a swimming pool or hot tub.
  • Wash Your Stuff. Vasquez says, “Evidence shows that the numbers of skin bacteria build up each time we wear a piece of clothes without washing it.” Sweaty clothes, used towels and swimsuits should be stashed in a plastic bag separate from the rest of your stuff and washed after each use. Since heat kills bacteria, wash and dry items at the warmest temperature level possible.
  • Be Stingy. It all comes back to no sharing, especially when it comes to items that touch you, like razors.

So the next time you forget your towel and no one is eager to lend you one, don’t take it personally! Let us know about your experiences sharing (or not sharing) at the gym. We love to hear from you!

Woman eating healthy food

Earning Your Way To A Flat Belly

Anyone who has seen “Crazy Stupid Love” will remember the scene in which Emma Stone first sees Ryan Gosling shirtless. She takes one look at his washboard abs and says, “Seriously? It’s like your’e photoshopped!” Well, while we can’t all walk around looking like we’re photoshopped, we can take certain measures to tighten up our bellies. If you’re serious about losing the muffin top, read on!

Live Well

Focus On Your Whole Body
Many people believe they can crunch their way to a flat belly, but contrary to popular belief, crunches and sit-ups do not guarantee a svelte middle. That’s because belly bulge is not about lack of muscle, it’s about extra body fat. If you’re hoping to rival Beyonce’s midriff, you need to burn calories, not build muscle. The best way to do this is by developing a workout that impacts several muscle groups so you strengthen your entire body while burning those excess calories.

Woman planking
Work Your Core
In exercise lingo, planking is a term that refers to a move that practices balance, targets abdominal muscles, and strengthens your back and chest. To execute a plank, begin in a push- up position, but with your hands directly under your shoulders as opposed to outside your chest. Bring your feet together and balance on the balls of your feet and the palms. of your hands. Hold the position for as long as you can. If you like this one, you can move on to side plank, reverse plank, and even work your way up to plank-ups and plank twists!

Side Bend Stretch
This exercise won’t make the fat disappear, but it will bring blood and oxygen to this area which may help break down fat. Try to do this three times a day to stretch the upper back, triceps and abs. Bend to one side stretching your opposite arm over your head and then quickly stretch sides, bending the other way and raising the other arm. This should be done continuously for a total of 10 stretches on each side.

Eat Well

Woman eating berries
Beans

Not only do beans contain the best types of carbs, they are also full of resistant starch to help you burn fat after meals. Plus, they keep you feeling full.

Berries
These natural beauties are proven to stop fat cells from increasing in size and also help the cells release a hormone, called adiponectin, which lowers blood sugar and reduces inflammation.

Nuts
Research finds that eating nuts twice a week makes a person less likely to gain weight than their non-nut eating buddies.

Avoid Alcohol
If you drink, even occasionally, you know that alcohol is the ultimate nemesis of weight loss. The demon alcohol releases estrogen into the blood and excess estrogen means you’re more likely to hold on your excess weight. Plus, it lowers your inhibitions and hinders judgement, which means a late night feast may suddenly look more appealing.

Cut Down On Sodium and Drink More Water
If you’re looking to get rid of the bloat, you should keep your sodium intake down to 1,500 mgs a day and increase the amount of water you drink. Be sure to read food labels. Most processed foods contain alarming amounts of sodium. Cut down your levels to lower your water retention.

Now go out and flatten that belly and wait for those jaws to start droppin’! Let us know how it works for you; we love to hear it!

Woman holding up fresh beetroot

Vitamin Packed Fall Fruits and Veggies

Have you heard of the Super Sprowtz? You may have seen the colorful Sammy Spinach, Erica Eggplant, Oliver Onion , Colby Carrot and Suzy Sweet Pea singing, “If you’d like to eat healthy, put a veggie on it” to the tune of Beyonce’s, “Put A Ring On It.” in videos and on social media. The Super Sprowtz are the biggest thing to hit the produce industry since the “California Raisins.” Veggies and fruits as superheroes and rock stars is a no-brainer; they must be among one of the most powerful food sources, able to deliver vitamins and nutrients in a single bound. Let’s have a look at some of the superheroes of the fruit and veggie world.

Cranberries
Don’t let the size fool you. Cranberries deliver a punch of antioxidants. They will protect you from free age-related degeneration and free radical damage and save you from urinary tract infection, oral disease, and cancer. Pop some in your pancakes for a healthier breakfast.

Beets
Beets’ superpowers come from their stores of betaine and nitrate. They will fight off super villains like heart and liver and will staunchly support the blood flow to your brain and reduce the risk of dementia.

Kiwifruit
This furry superhero is known for its lung, eye and colon protecting nutrients. They may also help your supervision by preventing macular degeneration. Kiwi is also known for its high level of vitamin E which prevents cancer and also has been known to pack vitamin C, magnesium, copper and potassium.

Pomegranates
This is a wonder fruit if there ever was one. It boosts your cardiovascular system and kicks carcinogens in the butt.

Brussel sprouts and Cabbage
These daredevils are chock full of the powers of vitamins A and C and will deliver with high concentrations of glucosinolates faster than a speeding bullet.

Pumpkin
What would our group of avenging produce be without a super pumpkin? Hurling through the air bursting with alpha-linoleic acid, pumpkin seeds are known defenders against high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Pumpkins are also great sources of alpha and beta carotene to guarantee X-ray vision and cell growth with its alpha and beta carotene.

Pears
Maybe the Boy Wonder of the Superfruits, pears are not only full of antioxidants, they are also considered hypoallergenic because they are so unlikely to incite allergies. They’re also full of vitamin C and fiber to make constipation and other chronic diseases a thing of the past. Holy Smoke!

Apples
If pears are the Boy Wonder, apples are the Superman. They are packed with antioxidants to fight evil doers like chronic illness and can help to slow aging, how’s that for a superpower? Fuji apples are the stars of the apples family, with the highest amounts of phenolics and flavonoids.

How’s that for some super power? If you have any fruits or veggies to add to our list of superheros, let us know. What superpowers does your super fruit/veggie give you?

Woman drinking orange juice

Signs Of Vitamin Deficiencies

So here’s an interesting story. An American decides to live out his golden years in the tropics of Costa Rica. There he meets a German gentleman who owns a couple of acres about 10 miles away from the Pacific coast. A few months later, the American hears that the German gentleman was found singing at a bus stop, completely naked, emaciated, and sick and was promptly sent back to Germany to the waiting arms of his family to recover. How did this happen?

It turns out that the German had decided to put himself on a coconut water fast several months long. Upon examination, it was determined that not only was this man depleted of minerals, he also was suffering from a rather extreme vitamin B12 deficiency leading to hallucinations and psychosis. He was promptly pumped full of the vitamin he lacked and sent back to his tropical paradise to live out the rest of his days.

In these days of veganism, vegetarianism, cleanses and crash diets, vitamin deficiencies can be all too common, and, while you may not find yourself at the point of naked and singing at bus stops, you should be aware of some of the following signs alerting you that your vitamin intake is not where it should be.

Cracks Along the Corners of The Mouth
This can be a sign that you’re not getting enough zinc, B vitamin, iron or protein. Try putting some organic eggs and poultry in your diet, or try some wild caught Alaskan salmon, organic eggs and poultry or tahini. Also, get some vitamin C in there; it will help with iron absorption. Load up on the broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.

Scaly Red Rash and Hair Loss
If you suffer these symptoms, you may have a biotin deficiency. While the body needs biotin to metabolize fats, amino acids, and carbohydrates, it is probably most known for its ability to strengthen nails and hair and is also a key ingredient in most hair, skin and nail vitamin formulas and shampoos. If you’re looking to get some biotin from your food, cook up some raw egg white or down the whole egg raw. Eating raw egg whites alone can actually lead to a biotin deficiency.

Acne-like Bumps on Your Arms, Thighs, and Buttocks
These can be signs that you need more essential omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins D and A. You can get omega-3 in anchovies and sardines or in a krill oil supplement. Vitamin A can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and red bell peppers; and vitamin D can be obtained through safe exposure to the sun.

Numbness of Hands and Feet
Other signs of B-vitamin deficiency, tingling and prickling in the feet and hands are caused by the effects of the deficiency on the peripheral nerves and can include depression fatigue, anemia and hormone imbalance. If your feet are tingling, try to down some asparagus, spinach, organic eggs and poultry, or grass fed beef.

Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps can be caused by a lack of magnesium, potassium and calcium. Combat this with some hazelnuts, squash, leafy greens, apples and broccoli.

Let the tale be a precautionary one. Take these steps now to avoid vitamin deficiency or risk public embarrassment. If you have any stories or advice about vitamin deficiencies or public embarrassment for that matter, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to send in comments and stories.

Woman working out while looking at wrist watch

Tips For Meeting Your Body Goals

If you are a follower of the latest celebrity news, you’ll have seen a lot of pretty incredible body transformations. You’ve probably seen Jennifer Hudson shrink a few sizes and Al Roker lose a good percentage of himself. You’ve seen Oprah go down, then up, then down, and Jessica Simpson go from a Renaissance painter’s dream to a biker’s fantasy. You bore witness to Cristina Aguilera’s triumphant return to hot pants. And of course, you’ve seen the “Revenge Body” of Khloe Khardashian whose astonishing slim down left her sisters wondering who was really ‘ the fairest one of all.’

Okay, so these are celebrities, and they do have access to personal trainers, dietitians, and Photoshop, but hey, you don’t get results without hard work and commitment. If they can achieve their body goals, so can you, and here are some pretty good tips on how you can do it.

1. Muscle Up
There are more ways to build muscle than weight-lifting. Resistance training can sculpt your body with lean muscle using your own body weight, resistance bands, and medicine balls. Begin with resistance training three times a week and try downing a protein shake or hard boiled egg within 45 minutes after your workout. Protein will help to keep the muscle on. Boot camp classes offer a variety of exercises and tools to help members reshape their bodies into lean muscle.

2. Stick to The Plan
Having a plan could make all the difference in actually achieving your goal. No one gets anywhere without a solid blueprint of how to get there. Arrange meetings with your friends for workout sessions or pencil visits to the gym on your daily planner. You’ll be more likely to commit if you have a realistic arrangement that will fit into your lifestyle.

3. Consider the Benefits
Of course losing weight and looking good are always motivating factors in pursuing a healthier lifestyle; however, it is also a good idea to think about other perks, such as increased flexibility and coordination, better health and a higher level of fitness. The more reasons you have to exercise, the more likely you are to stick to your plan.

4. Hydrate
A good workout equals a good sweat, and while a good sweat is a great accomplishment, it can also be responsible for the loss of fluids, nutrients, and minerals. Coconut water mixed with regular water is a great way to replace lost electrolytes and keep the body hydrated. A good way to determine the amount of water you should be getting daily is to take for weight and divide it in half. The number you get will be the number of ounces of water you should be getting every day.

5. Be Prepared When Cravings Hit
Cravings can be caused by thirst, exhaustion or lack of nutrients. Try to get a nap or drink some water rather than reaching for a bag of chips. Recognize that cravings may really be symptoms of something other than lack of food.

6. Pick Something You Enjoy Doing
Nothing is surer to dissuade you from sticking to your fitness goals than a boring exercise routine. If you like dancing, Zumba is a great way to get that calorie burn. If you love the outdoors, consider running or hiking. Sports and swimming are also valid options.

If you’ve got any tips for sticking to exercise goals, let us know how you did it, We welcome comments and suggestions.

Group of people working out in gym

Exercise Can Make You Happy

If you have ever watched “Legally Blonde,” you will definitely appreciate the wisdom of Elle Woods. You may remember this little gem from the trial scene, “I just don’t think Brooke could have done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” Can’t doubt the wisdom of that.

Anyway, if you need another reason to exercise, keeping happy is a proven result and, if the life of your significant other is at risk, maybe you should seriously consider starting an exercise routine. And, if you need more convincing, here are some ways exercise really does keep you happy.

1. Happy Chemicals
Never doubt a character played by Reese Witherspoon! Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for feelings of pleasure. Studies show that as we age, our stores of dopamine decrease and, as a result, we tend to seek out dopamine releasing experiences. And what’s the best way to do that? Exercise. Dance, run, whatever it is that gets your dopamine buzz going, get moving!

2. It Relieves Stress
Regular exercise actually subjects your body to low level stress by increasing your heart rate setting off a series of hormonal changes. In response, your body becomes more adept at handling stress in general, leading to better mental and physical health and quality of life.

3. It Give You Energy
Of course there are days when working out seems like the least appealing option in the world, However, if you are a regular exerciser, you will attest to the fact that you will feel better after some invigorating physical activity. Try and make that extra effort to get yourself moving by focusing on how the results.

4. It Gives Your Confidence A Boost
Let’s face it; looking great equals feeling great and feeling great equals looking great. If you don’t like how you look, it can effect your career, your relationships and you self esteem. Transforming your body through exercise makes you feel more powerful and look beautiful; not only will you lose weight, but your posture will improve and your skin will glow.

5. It Helps Fight Insomnia
Sleeping pills have their benefits, but they can lose effectiveness over time and can hamper your a.m. activity. Exercise can help relieve insomnia and provide relief for people with sleeping disorders, while giving you the energy boost to leave your bed in the morning.

6. It Reduces Anxiety
Studies show that exercises offers relief from anxiety similar to the effects of therapy and meditation. Maybe old Elle was on to something!

We would love to hear your comments on how happy exercise has made you. Feel free to weigh in (pun intended).

Woman sleeping

Maintaining A Healthy Sleep Routine

If you’re not overly motivated, a good night’s sleep may be your greatest accomplishment. After all, it is no small feat. From the various available products to the barrage of commercials and helpful apps and websites devoted to the subject, it is obvious that not everyone is capable of peaceful somnolence. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones who has just engaged in 8 or 9 hours of uninterrupted rest, pat yourself on the back! You are quite the achiever!

What You Accomplish During Sleep
The list of things your body does during sleep is quite lovely. During Stages 3 and 4 of sleep, our muscles relax and our blood pressure drops. There is an increase of blood supply to the muscles, repair, and growth of tissue takes place, the body experiences a restoration of energy, and the growth hormone is released. Sleep gives our brains and bodies energy and helps us to perform our daily activities. Plus, you have some really cool dreams!

Sleep Hygiene And Becoming A Successful Sleeper
Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe your habits associated with sleep. To maintain good sleep hygiene, you should:

  1. Keep your sleep schedule consistent. Try to set your body clock to waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, even on your days off.
  2. Establish a bedtime ritual that helps you relax. Avoid bright lights excitement, sound, and stress. Reading can be incredibly sleep-inducing.
  3. If you are among the sleep deprived, try and curb your desire to nap. It may help get through the day, but it is equally as likely to make you less sleepy at night.
  4. Exercise every day, but not when you should be sleeping. Exercising lowers blood pressure and stress and makes sleep easier.
  5. Keep your sleeping environment comfortable, The optimum temperature for a good sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees. Make sure your room is dark. Blackout curtains can be very effective and very cool. The atmosphere should be free from disruption, If your spouse is snoring, gently push them off the bed. (only kidding)
  6. Make sure your mattress is comfortable. If it’s over 8, it’s time to replace. Consider throwing some nice fluffy pillows on your bed, make sure to avoid allergens, and don’t leave your heels where you might trip over them.
  7. The right amount of light is important in maintaining circadian rhythms. Get some sunlight in the morning and avoid it in the evening.
  8. No alcohol, spicy foods, and coffee before sleeping. If your feel hunger may keep you awake, you can allow yourself a nice light snack 45 minutes before turning in.
  9. Keep any stressful work-related devices and thoughts separate from your sleep routine. Light from electronic devices can stimulate the brain and keep you awake.
  10. If you are having a hard time slipping into a dream state, go into another room and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel tired.

And, to think, your mother told you-you would never accomplish anything!

Woman doing push-ups at the gym

Avoiding Muscle Cramps During Exercise

So there’s this really cute guy at your gym. You feel emboldened because you just shed about 15 pounds and your new tank top reveals your newly flat belly. You see him on the treadmill. You give a little wave and smile. He waves and smiles back. Good sign. You maintain eye contact as you straddle the stationary bike. You feel his eyes on you as you start to pedal. And then…it happens! You are seized by a blinding shooting pain causing your leg muscles to spasm uncontrollably. Your face becomes a mask of agony. The cute guy looks away, horrified. You will never live this one down.
The most commonly accepted explanation for muscle cramps is dehydration, so most of us will try to combat a cramp with a glass of water. However, the reason for muscle cramps may be far more extensive and avoiding them may not be a simple as grabbing a glass of H2O.

Fluids
The jury on the effects of hydration on muscle cramps is still out. Some studies find there is no correlation between cramps and liquids, others show that fluids and electrolytes can be an effective way to avoid or delay muscle cramps. If dehydration is a cause of cramping, it would work something like this: When we don’t get enough to drink fluids outside our cells decrease and our nerve endings get crowded together, The result of this is a spontaneous discharge or a muscle twitch, leading to a muscle cramp. Proper hydration will prevent this from happening. So, to drink or not to drink? To drink of course. The benefits of staying hydrated during exercise are virtually never-ending, even if they don’t include the prevention of cramps. Experts agree that you let your thirst be your guide in determining the proper amount of fluid to drink and when to drink it.

Muscle Fatigue
Cramps are most common among beginner athletes and those who exercise too intensely because cramps are more likely to result from muscle fatigue. Exercisers should make sure to warm up muscles and pace their exercises to avoid strain. Adapting to heat may also cause cramps. When warmer weather arrives, take precautions to avoid starting workouts with too much intensity; don’t go from 0-100 too quickly.

Salt
Electrolytes are necessary for shifting fluids into and out of cells. Sodium is an electrolyte found in table salt. When it sweats, the body doesn’t just lose water, it loses sodium. Replacing the water without replacing the sodium can lead to dangerously low sodium levels, otherwise known as hyponatremia. This condition is most likely to occur during high endurance workouts which produce repeated sweating and can lead to painful cramping. Sodium can and should be replaced by snacking on salty foods or drinking sports drinks with high sodium levels.

Carbohydrates
Although some may claim they are the devil incarnate, carbs are still the main source of fuel for exercise. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in our muscles, and muscle cramps can set in when the store is exhausted. This is because our muscles use carbs to contract and also to relax. While exercise makes muscles contract, without enough fuel, muscle relaxation becomes impaired . If the muscle cannot relax, it can cramp.
Energy from carbs usually lasts through 60 to 90 minutes of exercise. Carbohydrates should be consumed if the workout exceeds that limit. Eat carbs before and during exercise, as needed.

So if you want to avoid those painful cramps, stick to these guidelines:

  1. Make sure to get appropriate training.
  2. Get used to the environment.
  3. Make sure your body gets enough fluids.
  4. Eat salty foods of high sodium sports drinks during, before and following exercise.
  5. Consume carbohydrates before working out and every 60 to 90 minutes thereafter.
Woman relaxing in a suana

The Health Benefits of Hot and Dry Heat

You have just finished working out at the gym and you feel like crawling home.  It must have been somewhere between the 50th and 51st set of squats when your muscles just gave out.  Your legs feel like jello.    You decide that some relief is definitely in order if you have any chance of getting to your car and driving home without  requiring medical attention.  You spot the sauna. “This is just the thing,” you think.  I will sit in here, let my muscles relax  a little and I will feel like a new person!” Then you spot the steam room.  Could this be a better option?  You try and think.  What have you heard about them?  You can’t remember which one is which and think that in your condition it may just be a matter of which one is closer.  Well, just so you are prepared for when this happens to you, here’s the breakdown.

The basic difference between saunas and steam baths is that steam baths use moist heat, while saunas offer dry heat.  Both are hot baths which stimulate blood flow, easing pain and promoting healthy metabolism.

The Heat Factor
Saunas are a good deal hotter than steam rooms with the set temperature at somewhere between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and a humidity level between 5 and 30%  In other words, it’s a dry heat.  Steam rooms measure somewhere between 110 and 120 degrees but the 100% humidity will make it feel much higher.  Heat rises in both saunas and steam rooms, so the higher you sit, the hotter you will be. Wet and dry heat have a sedative effect which can provide relaxation to those suffering emotional disorder and pain relief to those suffering from a muscular injury.

The Bare Bones
Have you ever gotten on a slide in the hot weather as a child? Perhaps, then you understand why saunas are built of wood and not metal.  In addition, wood absorbs moisture, keeping surfaces cooler and pulling humidity from the air.  In steam rooms, high humidity would cause wood to deteriorate and are therefore made of tile or plastic.  They feature sloped ceilings which allow the water to run down the wall rather than drip on your head.

The Relaxation Factor
Both steam rooms and sauna reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation. They improve circulation and cause occupants to perspire, opening the pores and cleansing the skin,  The humidity of the steam rooms may be more comfortable for people suffering from allergies and congestion, whereas those with conditions that may be aggravated by humidity, like arthritis, may opt for the sauna.

The Expectoration Factor
One advantage that a steam room may have over a sauna is the expectorant effect.  Wet heat opens the sinuses throat and lungs and can loosen and clear the mucus in your nose, chest, and throat.  However, it can also aggravate asthma, which would make a sauna a better choice for asthmatics.

The Myth
You may have heard that both of these baths may remove toxins from the body and help you lose weight.  There is no evidence to support that either removes any toxic chemicals from your body and any weight loss will be temporary, resulting from water weight lost from sweating, so hanging out in the sauna or steam room will not make you svelte, which is why you still have the gym.

So which way do you stagger?  To the dry or to the wet?  The choice is yours, just pick one soon!

Happy woman with outstretched arms outside

Moving, Eating, Being, Thinking

Happiness finally seems to be getting a fair shake.  Didn’t it seem like years ago, we thought that anything that made us happy couldn’t possibly be good for us?  Weren’t we brought up on sayings like, “If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t working”, or “It’s not love if it doesn’t hurt.”  Isn’t it time that we bring an end to this self punishing philosophy?  Isn’t it time we admitted that some things that we like can be good for us?  Aren’t we tired of being miserable?  (Cue shouts of, “Go, girl” and “Amen!’)

It seems like its getting more and more obvious that we don’t always have to suffer and deprive ourselves to reach our goals.  Happiness may not pay the bills, but it seems like it could take us into a ripe old age.  Here’s to being happy and healthy!

Eating
Eat fewer calories, but more food.  That sounds like happiness to me!) Load on the greens and the beans.  Take a second helping of (fresh fruit.  Skip the burgers and cream sauce and pile on the whole grains.  You’ll end up with less calories, more antioxidants and longer, happier lives. Dr. Bradley Wilcox of the Pacific Health Institute in Honolulu says, “People in Okimawa eat more food by weight than people who eat a Western style diet.” The result?  Their risk for dementia, heart attacks, strokes and cancer are among the lowest in the world.

Woman exercising

Moving
Exercise can help to give you better quality of life and slow down the aging process.  In fact, you don’t even have to work that hard! (Happy now?)  A University of Florida study showed that healthy people aged 65 to 85 who did low intensity exercises had a drop in free radical damage while high intensity exercisers had a slight increase! For protecting the heart and arteries, just walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes a day, along with resistance training and aerobic exercise can do the trick.

Being
Find something interesting to do.  So, admit it.  We all love to relax.  We love to sit back and watch the tube and put our feet up. Well, that may sound appetizing, but if you’re better off doing something slightly more meaningful. People who pursue their interests develop better coping mechanisms and tend to be more optimistic and live longer.

Also, connect with friends and family.  Science journal prove that having friends changes the biochemistry of the brain and strengthen immunity.  Being alone, causes the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol to rise which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and sleep problems.  BTW:  Marriage can add seven years to a man’s life and three to a woman’s.  Can’t live with ’em?  Pets can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Woman solving a crossword

Thinking
Just like our bodies, our brain needs exercise to stay healthy.  Reading, doing crossword puzzles and writing are all ways of lowering risk of mental decline.  Also, it has been proven that using your brain can actually up your “cognitive reserve.”  That means that you get a kind of bonus of extra neurons and pathways in your brain that make them function longer.  Our brain muscles are just like all the other muscles in our bodies; the more we use them, the healthier and more flexible they’ll be! So be happy, live healthy and be your best, most beautiful self!  Cheers!