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Archive for the ‘Wellness Month’ Category

Do you sometimes feel like a Food “Addict”?

Are you one of the millions of people who describe the pull of food on your life as an “addiction”? Do you suffer from that nagging feeling or voice in your head that drives you toward foods that you know are not beneficial or healthy?

Unlike chemical substances, addictive behaviors around food are not likely to be about the chemical make-up of the food but about the way we think about food, react to it and the habits we form. In short, scientists who study food be-haviors tell us that food addiction really isn’t about the food itself at all.


For many, food can become a coping mechanism — eating can be a way to relieve stress, a method for reducing anxiety, anger, sadness and feelings of inadequacy, just to name a few. It’s the repetition of this type of coping mechanism that can cause a “food addiction”. When we use food over and over again to deal with issues, the body becomes conditioned to crave food as a way to feel relief.

Several studies have demonstrated that when pleasurable foods are consumed, the reward centers of the brain light up and release dopamine – a “feel good” brain chemical. Dopamine is also released when the pleasure sensation is stimulated by drugs or alcohol. Another reason why food can sometimes seem like a true addiction.
If you sometimes feel like food has too much control over you and your life, consider the following ideas for taking the power back from food:

Follow a Structured Meal Plan. One suffering from an unhealthy relationship with food can get on the right track to recovery by following a meal plan and a regular eating schedule – no starvation…no binge eating. This helps the person set safe boundaries with food and feel satisfied so that there is not a physiological need to eat.
Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food. In traditional 12-step addiction-based recovery models, addicts are challenged to remain abstinent for healing. However, with food addiction, one can’t simply stop eating, as food is es-sential to life. Thus someone suffering with food addiction must address reasons for turning to food to cope. Identify healthier coping mechanisms and strategies so that you can begin learning healthier means of dealing with emotions.
Set Boundaries with Unsafe Foods. Typically, trigger or “unsafe” foods are removed from the diet and bounda-ries are set so that managing these foods in a healthier way can be relearned. If someone binges on ice cream when he or she is stressed, it’s best not to keep it in the house. Eliminating the temptation until he or she can eat ice cream again in a balanced way is a safe option.
Seek Professional Advice. Beating a food addiction is a process and does not happen overnight; it often needs to involve a registered dietitian and licensed therapist that specialize in the area of disordered eating. These profession-als will help a person suffering from food addiction to implement appropriate strategies and provide accountability with sound advice.

Step Up To “The Challenge”!

Have you decided to take “The Challenge” this summer? Have you challenged yourself to walk 1 million steps? It’s not too late! Just add days in September and you can still challenge yourself over these 100 days to walk 10,000 steps each day.

If you are like many people, you have what researchers at the Mayo Clinic call “sitting disease” and it is slowly killing you. The average American is not active enough to stay healthy and lean – getting an average of only 3,000 to 5,000 steps per day.

Are you ready to change all that? If so, join us this summer for the 1 Million Step Challenge. Sound like a lot of steps? It’s really not. The challenge will run from June 1st to September 8th—exactly 100 days.

100 days X 10,000 steps / day = 1 Million Steps!

Now the good news: studies provide overwhelming evidence that workplace wellness programs reduce the negative impacts of a sedentary workforce. Employees who walk 10,000 steps a day and work out at the gym three times a week can add five years to their lifespan according to a Body-Brain Performance Institute and Swinburne University Brain Sciences Institute walking study.

In another Body-Brain Performance Institute walking study, 40 employees were tested for brain function, including the ability to plan, remember, simulate future scenarios and make decisions as well as their alert-ness, energy levels and levels of anger and stress. The research showed a clear link between vigorous physical activity, increased brain function and reduced stress levels at work.

So why wouldn’t you want to participate this summer? Get your pedometer and get moving!

Around Town Fit Tips…

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is extremely important, but almost nobody gets enough of it. Recent studies suggest that lack of sleep may have more serious implications than previously thought. Lack of sleep might make you gain weight and it could even increase your disease risk.

1. 33% of those who drink 4 or more caffeinated beverages daily are designated “at risk” for sleep apnea – a disorder in which breathing is interrupted briefly and repeatedly. Chronic snoring can be an indicator.

2. The less you sleep, the more your genes contribute to how much you weigh. The more you sleep, the less your genes determine how much you weigh, and the more control you can have over your weight.

3. Lack of sleep can raise the sensation of hunger by 25 percent. Sleep more and you can eat more or burn more calories.

4. Studies show that regularly sleeping too little (6 hours and less) OR regularly sleeping too much (more than 9 hours) is associated with shorter lifespan. Seven to eight hours is the ideal.

5. Sleeping directly after learning something new will improve your ability to remember it effectively.

6. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility to the internet.

Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good “sleep hygiene.” To improve your sleep hygiene, consider incorporating some of the following tips:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule – the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock (circadian rhythm) and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.

2. Avoid bright light and “blue light” before bed. Turn down the lights and turn off computers, cell phones and TV’s. Bright light and blue light turns off melatonin—a natural sleep enhancing hormone.

3. Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity.

4. Evaluate your room. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees, free from any noise that can disturb your sleep and free from any light.

5. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes and heavy meals in the evening

6. Try a natural sleep aid such as sour cherry juice or turmeric milk.

If you’re still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or to find a sleep professional

What’s The Risk?

Focus on Blood Pressure

About 1 in every 4 American adults have high blood pressure, also called “hypertension”. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart and kidney diseases, stroke and heart failure. High blood pressure is especially dangerous, because it often gives no warning signs or symptoms. Fortunately, you can find out if you have high blood pressure by having your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is high, you can take steps to lower it. Just as important, if your blood pressure is normal, you can learn how to keep it from rising.

A healthy blood pressure number is less than 120/80.

You can prevent high blood pressure or lower blood pressure by:

Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight can make you two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure than if you are at your desirable weight. Even small amounts of weight loss can make a big difference in helping to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

Get moving….Get together….Get inspired ! !

 

 

 

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Sun safety is never out of season. Summer’s arrival means it’s time for picnics, trips to the pool and beach—and a spike in the number of sunburns. But winter skiers and fall hikers should be as wary of the sun’s rays as swimmers. People who work outdoors need to take precautions, too.

The need for sun safety has become clearer over the past 30 years. Studies show that exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. Harmful rays from the sun—and from sunlamps and tanning beds—may cause eye problems, weaken your immune system, and give you skin spots, wrinkles, or “leathery” skin.

Sun damage to the body is caused by invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation. People recognize sunburn as a type of skin damage caused by the sun. Tanning is a sign of the skin reacting to potentially damaging UV radiation by producing additional pigmentation that provides it with some—but often not enough—protection against sunburn.

Whatever our skin color, we’re all potentially susceptible to sunburn and other harmful effects of exposure to UV radiation. Although we all need to take precautions to protect our skin, people who need to be especially careful in the sun are those who have pale skin, blond, red or light brown hair, have been treated for skin cancer, and/or have a family member who has had skin cancer.

The National Skin Cancer Foundation has the following sun safe tips:

1. Seek the shade, especially between 10 am and 4 pm.
2. Do not burn.
3. Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
4. Cover up with clothing and use a broad brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses.
5. Use broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
6. Examine your skin head-to–toe every month.
7. Get a professional skin exam once a year

Eat to Defeat: A New Way to Fight Cancer

Changing the way you choose the food you eat everyday can be one of the most powerful things you do to decrease your risk for cancer. Like life itself, one’s diet is all about making choices. Since we all eat every day, why not choose foods that can reduce your risk of disease? Listed below are some food facts, supported by scientific research, to help you get the most cancer fighting benefits from your diet.

Eat dark greens. Dark greens contain a vari-ety of phytonutrients such as kaempferol and quercetin which are powerful cancer fighters. If you’re a novice to using greens, start by shred-ding them and adding a large handful to your next salad. Or, next time you are sautéing on-ions for a dish, throw in a handful of finely chopped greens and sauté them as well.

Fresh fruits are an obvious healthy choice, but did you know that bananas contain cancer fighters? They are called catechins and del-phinidin, and studies have shown diets rich in bananas and other fruits may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Have half a banana a day with breakfast. It’s an easy way to sneak a cancer fighter into your diet, right at the start of each day.

Citrus fruits are also great to start the day. Oranges, tangerines and clementines contain cancer fighters called hesperidin and naringenin which researchers have shown may reduce the risk of esophageal cancer.

Olive oil has become a popular substitute for other vegetable oils but why not go straight to the source? Olives make a great condiment and contain cancer-fighting polyphenols. There are three “super olives” which contain excep-tionally high levels of these natural anti-carcinogens: 1) The Picual or Spanish olive; 2) the Moriaolo olive, from Umbria, Italy; and 3) the Koroneiki or Greek olive.

Squash: contains two cancer fighters, lutein and zeaxanthin. Diets high in squash have been shown to reduce the risk of a cancer of the lymph system called Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Squash is easy to cook. Simply heat it up, add some cinnamon (a cancer-fighting spice), and serve it as a delicious side dish with any meal.

Choose at least one cancer fighting food for each meal. At 3 meals each day, that adds up to more than a thousand of cancer fighting food choices each year.

Want to know more? Watch for more ways food fights disease in next month’s newsletter….

Fit Tips:

What’s The Risk?

Focus on Waist Circumference

Your waist measurement typically correlates with your Body Mass Index (BMI), and is often seen as a better way of checking your risk of developing a chronic disease.

Measuring your waist circumference is a simple check to tell how much body fat you have and where it is placed around your body. Where your fat is located can be an important sign of your risk of developing an ongoing health problem.

Regardless of your height or build, for most adults a waist measurement of greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women, is an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits which coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas, and increase the risk of chronic disease. Waist circumference has become one of the leading indicators for developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Reducing Your Risk

Reducing your waist circumference has nothing to do with hundreds of crunches and sit-ups. To remove fat from the mid-section you must:
1. change your eating habits
2. increase the amount of physical activity you get each day
There is no magic pill or starvation diet that will allow you to lose your waist and keep off the pounds. Lifestyle changes work best to reduce your waist circumference and keep off the excess fat for a lifetime.

Stressed?
Take a Breath!

We all have stress. We usually can’t avoid it but the way we manage our stress can mean the difference be-tween being healthy or sick. There are many ways to cope with stress that range from calling a friend to taking a bubble bath. But what can you do when you need to relax RIGHT NOW?
Breathing is a simple strategy for managing stress. Here is a down-to earth breathing exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime to cultivate a sense of calm.
1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine upright.
2. Place your hand on your stomach to help you breathe from your abdomen, rather than your chest.
3. Notice your breath as it flows in and out of your body.
4. As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in calmness and relaxation.
5. As you slowly exhale, imagine yourself breathing out frustrations and tension.
6. Continue for as long as necessary to relax.

Are You Up for The Million Step Challenge?

These days, Americans are obsessed with weight loss. We spend tens of billions of dollars a year on diets and weight-loss plans, yet obesity is rapidly increasing. What we’ve learned is that dieting alone doesn’t work for most people.

Even dieters who lose weight typically gain it back. Dozens of studies have shown that the people who reliably lose weight and keep it off are those who slightly decrease the calories they eat and increase the calories they burn through physical activity.

There is a special advantage to exercise when it comes to losing weight and maintaining weight over the long term. You don’t have to cut back so much on your daily calories. Here’s why….

It takes a 500 calorie per day deficit to lose one pound of body weight per week. You can do this by eating 500 calories less per day OR eating 250 calories less and increasing your physical activity by 250 calories OR increasing your physical activity by 500 calories per day.

The second and third options give you all the added health benefits of exercise. Benefits like a healthier heart, lower diabetes risk, alleviation of depression, more energy, stress relief, better sleep and much, much more.

Why 1 Million Steps?

Because research tells us that people who get a minimum of 10,000 steps each day typically have lower blood pressure, run less risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, have less depression and just feel more energetic each day!

10,000 steps x 100 days = 1 Million Steps!

November is Nutritional Awareness Month!

With the holidays approaching, it is appropriate that the wellness focus for November is nutrition and diet. Of course, we want to be able to enjoy the holiday feasts, and can by remembering moderation and physical activity. It may take a little more will-power, but you can still savor your holiday favorites and avoid an unhealthy crash diet on January 1st.

Everyone’s heard it a million times – eating nutritious and being physically active is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. Yet, we’re all seeking the next fad diet that will somehow help us lose weight and stay fit by watching Grey’s Anatomy marathons and eating chips and dip, cookies, and ice cream. Right? Unfortunately and fortunately, our bodies don’t work like that. A nutrient-filled diet keeps us from illness and disease, improves mental functioning, enhances mood, and gives us energy. Exercise is important for very similar reasons.

On the subject of dieting, every person has a different ideal weight and a different basal metabolic rate (BMR). A person’s BMR is influenced by several factors, including: age, gender, current weight, activity level, muscle-to-fat ratio, and heredity. Personal BMR also changes as these variables change.

The way our bodies regulate the balance of caloric intake and energy expenditure is quite amazing. Each year, a typical adult consumes about 900,000 to 1 million calories. If you subtract the amount of calories one generally expends in a given year from this amount, you are left with a difference of 1% or less. This means that most people could make the long-term, healthy changes they want by merely taking a 15 minute walk each day or eating a few bites less at each meal (both equal to about 100 less calories that get stored as fat per day). This could be a great key-point to remember this holiday season. Enjoy your favorite foods, but don’t take that extra helping, or opt for a brisk walk after dinner each night. Making these small, consistent changes over a long period of time is what will make a difference. According to the “set-point hypothesis”, everyone has a body weight “thermostat” that adjusts our metabolism and eating to maintain weight. Starvation often results in a plateau over time as the BMR lowers to accommodate the minimal caloric intake. Short periods of overeating, like around the holidays, cause an increase in fat cells (adipocytes), which tends to increase feelings of hunger in the lateral hypothalamus. Also, when a person decides they want to lose that weight, the depleted fat cells actually arouse hunger and the body is confused as it tries to replenish the adipocytes. Furthermore, weight cycling (pattern of repeated weight gain and loss) is unhealthy and hinders the body’s goal of homeostasis.

The concept of the food pyramid has been hammered into our heads since grade school. There is good reason for this. For example, in several heart studies, its been found that poor nutrition is a leading factor of heart disease. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats is ideal. In addition, limiting fats and sugars, avoiding saturated fats, and eliminating trans fats is the other part of the nutrition equation. Consuming more of the good and less of the bad makes it so the body has the nutrients it needs to protect and repair itself; plus, proper nutrition gives the body sufficient energy to live well each day. In fact, our body needs 46 nutrients to remain healthy. Thus, paying attention to the Food Guide Pyramid is important to ensure we receive these 46 nutrients on a regular basis. (Visit the link above to get a calculated estimate of the daily needs!)

Many people get the idea that carbs are bad. This is not necessarily true. Its which carbohydrates you eat that make the difference. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a tool that rates carbohydrates based on how quickly the body converts them to sugar, from 1 to 100. Foods closer to the 100 mark cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. This may be appealing due to the surge of energy; however, this energy surge will usually quickly turn to increased fat storage, lethargy, and even more hunger! Foods that rate lower on the GI take longer to convert to sugar, resulting in a more constant state of blood sugar and energy– which is when the body performs at its best. These foods lower on the GI are lower in calories and fats, rich in fiber, nutrient-packed, and often contain antioxidants. So, take a look at a Glycemic Index and be sure to add the lower rated items to your next grocery list!

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