Burning Calories in the Snow

Let’s face it.  Most of us don’t have the luxury of living in a climate where it is warm and sunny 12 months out of the year.  Instead we must learn to deal with all four seasons …including the dreaded winter.

But, thinking positively, there are plenty of things to do outdoors in the winter where you can burn calories – lots of them!  So, try one of these high-intensity, fun winter activities today:

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  • Cross country skiing
  • Downhill skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Hiking
  • Dog-sledding
  • Zip lining
  • Sled riding – especially if you find a really steep hill!
  • Snow tubing

 

It’s important to keep in mind that whatever winter outdoor activity you decide to take part in, it’s necessary to dress in layers, remain hydrated and watch for signs of hypothermia.

Remember to warm up first.  Just like you were working out indoors, warming up first before you get started working out outdoors is definitely important.  Colder temperatures can cause your muscles to tighten up, so a proper warm up session will help prevent injury.

When you come in from out of the cold, it’s also important to NOT strip down and remove all of your layers.  Give your body time to adjust from your outdoor workout.  Post-exercise hypothermia is possible, so be sure to let your body adjust before taking off all of those layers.

Staying hydrated is also a big one, so be sure to have plenty of water on hand for whatever outdoor activity you choose.

Beat the Winter Blues

The winter season brings the least amount of sunlight of any time during the year – and people who work indoors get a mere 30 minutes of sunlight a day, compared to 90 minutes of sunlight a day in the summer time.

So instead of sitting indoors and enduring the winter blues… get outdoors, have some fun, and the winter months will fly by!

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Get outside:  To fight the winter blues, you have to join the winter blues… or something like that.   Bundle up, build a bonfire and roast some marshmallows.  Campfires don’t need to be just for summertime anymore!

Create a positive playlist:  Studies show that when people listen to happy music that their mood increases.  While you clean the house or do the laundry, pump up the jams and listen to some music that puts you in a good mood to fight the blues.

Cheer yourself up with color:  When all you see outside is shades of blue and grey, cheer yourself up by adding a little bit of color to your life.  You don’t have to do anything drastic like paint your walls a bright pink or anything, instead fill up some vases with colorful flowers.  Or fill a bowl with fresh lemons and limes for the beautiful yellow and green hues.

Start planning your vacation:  While you may not be able to get away from work or life during the winter months, there’s no reason why you can’t start planning your spring, summer or fall vacation.  Many people get more pleasure from the anticipation of the vacation, than the actual vacation!  Brainstorm about where you want to go, when you want to go there, what new foods you want to try or what new activities you will try out this year.

Have a snow day:  Snow days can be either indoors or outdoors.  An outdoor snow day includes building snow forts and having a snow ball fight.  While an indoors snow day includes lots of hot chocolate, popcorn, funny movies and family-friendly games.

Fitness for All: New Year! New Workout!

Try these quick and easy ways to jump start your new workout regimen in 2017!

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  • Wear a pedometer to determine the distance you walk each day. Shoot for 10,000 steps per day.  If you aren’t reaching that goal, add an extra mile to your routine or take the steps instead of the escalator whenever possible.
  • Add jumping to your exercise routine – also known as plyometric moves – to build muscle and improve your bone density. Try jump squats or scissor lunges in your next routine.
  • Spend the extra money to purchase good work out necessities – clothing, shoes, bras, supports, etc. Purchasing the better brands versus going the cheaper route will ensure that you use them and that they are the best for your workout.
  • Don’t spread germs. Always wipe down gym equipment before and after using them to protect yourself and others from germs and bacteria that can be passed from unclean gym equipment.
  • Consider the other ways that you can lose weight without really trying – clean the house and burn 200 calories or work in the garden and burn 272 calories.
  • Even if you have to travel or spend all day in a car or on a plane, still try to fit in physical activity. Take advantage of bathroom breaks by stretching and doing some light exercise. Walk briskly through the airport in between flights if traveling by plane.
  • Build better bones and as much bone density as you can by doing weight-bearing activities like running or jumping as much as you can in your twenties and thirties.
  • Yoga has many healthy benefits for your body and your mind. Even if you are a novice, take a class and try something different.
  • Work out with your significant other or a friend or family member. This allows you to be a spotting partner for one another or just spend some quality time together working out.

Spotlight on: Cranberries

  • Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and also an excellent source of fiber.
  • Cranberries alone can be particularly tart, but in a sauce, juice, or as an ingredient in cakes, stuffing or casseroles, this fruit becomes tastier.
  • When shopping for cranberries, choose cranberries that are shiny and not shriveled.
  • A deep red or almost brown color actually signals freshness. A good cranberry should be hard.
  • Cranberries will keep up to two weeks in a refrigerator.

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Recipe: Holiday Cranberry Sauce

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups white sugar

Place fresh cranberries and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Wrap cloves, allspice berries and cinnamon sticks in a spice bag. Place in the water with cranberries. Cook until cranberries begin to burst, about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard spice bag. Chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Recipe:  Cranchick Salad 

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  •  1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 8 leaves spinach – rinsed, stemmed, and dried

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, stir together the celery, walnuts, cranberries, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Add cooled chicken, and stir until well combined. Cover and chill about 6 hours and serve on top of spinach leaves, if desired.

Diabetes 101: Mediterranean Diet

When a person is diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes most doctors start by getting their patients set up with a diet plan. Many people turn to a classic, low-fat regimen, while others have opted for a higher-fat, Mediterranean-style diet filled with lots of olive oil, as well as vegetables, whole grains and fish and poultry.

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Researchers studied groups of people who were following both diets and they found that after four years both groups had lost similar amounts of weight.

But, only 44% of the Mediterranean dieters needed to take diabetes medication, as compared to 70% of the low-fat dieters.

One of the major benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that it is full of healthy foods and primarily because it doesn’t recommend fat-reduced foods that are chock full of refined carbohydrates.

What do you know about High Fructose Corn Syrup?

It seems that one of the most asked questions these days is high fructose corn syrup worse for you than regular sugar.  Well, according to studies, last year alone Americans consumed 27 pounds of high fructose corn syrup, after all it can be found nearly everywhere including the fruit on the bottom of your yogurt and in many whole wheat breads.

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While that number is down from the 37.5 pounds consumed per person back in 1999, it seems that most Americans are filling in those remaining calories and pounds by adding in good old fashioned sugar.

Normal table sugar is made up of 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose.  But since fructose is sweeter than glucose many manufacturers increased the ratio, to inexpensively hook their consumers.  High fructose corn syrup contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.

Because it is sweeter, people who eat foods high in high fructose corn syrup it may cause overeating and weight gain.  Studies have also shown that high fructose corn syrup may also contain varying amounts of mercury.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy stated that “mercury was present in nearly a third of 55 popular brand name food and beverages in which high fructose corn syrup was the first or second ingredient on the label.”

It is important to be a good label reader and avoid foods that list high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient on the label. Even if an item is marked “natural” or in the health food aisle, it still can contain high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient.

Even though table sugar isn’t as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup, it can still wreak havoc on your diet and weight loss goals.  Indulge in sugary items as a treat or only on special occasions, instead of at every meal.

How Fit Are You?

Take this Quiz and Find out!

If you are looking to “get fit” in 2017, take these three self tests to find out how fit you are first!

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  • How are your muscles?  Do some push-ups.  A 30-year old man should be able to 35 push-ups while a 30-year old woman should be able to do 45, while her knees are on the floor.  For every decade after 30, the amount of push-ups decreases by 5 for each gender.
  • How is your flexibility? Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you, slightly apart.  Extend your arms placing your one hand on top of your other hand, fingertips forward and reach for the space in between your feet.  Women under the age of 46 should be able to reach at least two to four inches past your feet.

Older women should be able to reach the soles of their feet.  Men under the age of 46 should be able to reach the soles of their feet.  Older men should aim to be within three to four inches of their soles. 

  • What’s your heart rate?  Begin by exercising for 18 minutes at 80 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate – for men, 220 minus your age; for women, 208 minus .82 times your age.  Then exercise all out for three minutes.  Check your pulse.  Rest for two minutes and then check it again.  Your heart rate should have dropped by at least 66 beats.  The faster it drops the more fit you are.

Strange Reasons Why You May be Gaining Weight

So you have been working out and eating right, but you still can’t get that scale to move in the right direction? Well, there may be a “strange” reason why you are gaining weight instead of losing weight.

Here are some strange factors that could cause you to be gaining weight, even though you are doing everything you can to lose weight.

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  • If you are depressed and taking medication for it, you can expect to see about a 5 to 15 pound weight gain, with accumulated weight gain the longer you are on medication. Even if you are not taking medication, if you are depressed you can still be causing unnecessary weight gain because people that are depressed typically turn to “comfort” foods like foods high in fat and calories or they may cut back on physical activity.
  • If you have digestive issues, like having slow bowel movements, you may be gaining weight from that.  Ideally, you should eat and then in an hour or two, have a bowel movement.  To be considered “regular” you should have one to two bowel movements per day.  Staying hydrated is important to become regular and having a diet rich in fiber is also important.
  • If your body is low on vitamin D, magnesium or iron, then your body’s immune system can be comprised, your energy levels may be decreased, or your metabolism may be altered in a way that makes it much harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  You can increase your red meat and spinach intake to help improve your iron levels, and improve your magnesium levels by eating more almonds or Brazilian nuts.  Add a supplement of vitamin D to get that all important vitamin.

Winter Motivation Tips

When the weather outside is frightful, it’s easy to get lazy and to lack the motivation to even get out of bed some days.  So how do you stay motivated when everything is keeping you down?   Try some of these tips:

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  • Set goals and document them. By keeping a list you will see this daily and you will feel more inclined to want to check things off this list.
  • Set clear dates of when you need to complete things by, whether they are long term or short term goals. By giving yourself a deadline, you will work harder to keep them.
  • Reward yourself for meeting your deadlines and reaching your goals.  Whether you allow yourself to buy something nice or a day of pampering at the spa, you will work harder to do things when you know there is a reward at the end.
  • Listen to motivational tapes and/or read motivational books to help gain some inspiration to keep going.
  • Learn to breathe correctly.  You will feel more relaxed and when you are more relaxed you will also be more apt to stay motivated than when you are stressed.
  • Keep a positive attitude.  Even though it is easy to be depressed when the long, cold winter months drag on, try to remain positive and you will notice that motivation comes along with being happy.
  • Remind yourself that progress is what is important and not perfection.  This is especially important when you are looking at your long-term goals, as they may seem like the most unreachable.  Remember all of the short-term goals that you have met and you will be more successful.
  • Build a support system of friends and family members that are typically motivated.  By keeping like-minded people close to you, you will become motivated by just being in their presence.

Spotlight on Salmon

  • Besides being an excellent source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, salmon is also full of high-quality proteins and low in saturated fat.
  • Salmon has nearly a third of the saturated fat of lean ground beef and 50 percent less saturated fat than chicken, making it one of the healthiest items that you could eat.
  • Salmon is also low in calories. One serving contains approximately 183 calories, making it one of the lowest in calories among other fish.

 

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Recipe: Smoked Salmon Dip

 

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudités or crackers.

 

Recipe: Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned and cut into four portions
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Whisk scallion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a sealable plastic bag, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with sesame seeds.