Archive for January, 2010

Eight Tips for Staying Motivated During the Winter Months

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

winter motivationWhen the weather outside is cold, it’s easy to get lazy and to lack the motivation to even get out of bed some days. The low winter light and cold temperatures can combine to make even the most resilient people want to just lie down and hibernate for the winter. So how can you stay motivated when it seems like everything is keeping you down? Here are eight tips for staying motivated during the winter:

1. Set Goals and Document them- By keeping a physical list of things you would like to accomplish it keeps your goals fresh and at the top of your mind. Not only are they easier to rate in order of importance but you will also see them on a daily basis. As a result you will feel more inclined to want to check things off your list.

2. Set Deadlines- 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.

3. Reward Yourself- Giving yourself incentive for meeting your deadlines and reaching your goals is a great way to actually accomplish them. 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.

4. Be Inspired- Listen to motivational tapes and/or read motivational books to help gain some inspiration to keep going.

5. Breathe- Learn to breathe correctly. You will instantly feel more relaxed and when you are more relaxed you will also be more apt to stay motivated than when you are stressed.

6. Stay Positive- 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.

7. Progress not Perfection-
Remind yourself that progress is what is important and not perfection. This is especially essential when you are looking at your long-term goals, as they may seem more unreachable. Remember all of the short-term goals that you have met and you will be more successful.

8. Support- 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. In addition, according to msnbc.com one of the best ways to stay motivated is to feel challenged by a friend. Buddy up with someone in order to hold each other accountable for your own individual goals. You can challenge each other to reach certain goals and then celebrate together once you hit them. You won’t believe how much more accountable you will be when you know someone else is right on your heels.

While these are only a few tips to get you motivated during the next few months, everyone is different, so do what works best for you, and you will see that spring will be here before you know it!

Winter Skin Tips: Six Ways to Protect Your Skin during the Cold Months

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Attractive sport girl snowboarder applying face pack outdoors inThe winter months are some of the harshest months on your delicate skin. But by following these simple tips you can help protect your skin from the harshness of winter. Your body will thank you for it.

1. Don’t forget the sunscreen- Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach. Just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean the ultraviolet rays have gone away. While the UVB rays are weaker, you shouldn’t skimp on the sunscreen during the winter months. According to CNN.com you should choose a moisturizer with added SPF of at least 15 year round.

2. Turn down the thermostat.. just a few degrees- Surprisingly; people who spend most of their time outdoors aren’t the ones with dry, peeling skin. It is just the opposite. Those people who spend their time indoors with indoor heat constantly are those who experience parched skin the most. If you can, turn down the thermostat a few degrees and use a humidifier to put some moisture in the air. It may be a good idea to use a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep. The added moisture to the air will help relieve dry skin, chapped lips and sore throats that may be aggravated by winter heat.

3. Nutrients are essential to quenching dry skin-
While many people believe that drinking an abundance of water will help quench dry skin, dermatologists suggest that getting the appropriate nutrients is more important than downing water when it comes to healing dry skin. Getting appropriate levels of omega-3 fatty acids through a diet rich in foods like salmon and halibut can help to combat skin dryness. The acid in these types of fish lessens inflammation and plays a huge role in strengthening the lipid layer, thereby helping your skin retain its natural oils.

4. Skip the long, hot baths-
While a good long soak in a hot bath sounds like just what the doctor ordered after a day out in the elements, that hot bath is a big no-no when it comes to protecting your skin in the cold. Taking a bath that is warmer than your body temperature opens up your pores and releases the moisture that your body desperately needs during the winter. If you would like a bath over a shower, limit your time in the tub to about five minutes and be sure to use a creamy oil wash to give your skin that moisture back that it may lose. CNN.com suggests that soap only be used on body parts that make an odor and to apply a moisturizer after toweling off. Look for lotions and other products with petrolatum, an ingredient that seals in moisture and protects skin from the environment.

care for beautiful woman legs5. Exfoliate those rough feet- While the logical cure for dry feet is to moisturize them, dermatologists suggest that exfoliating your feet should be the cure instead. A moisturizer cannot work if you continue to put it on dead skin. Once you get rid of those rough spots on your feet, then the moisturizer you use will take to your feet so much better. Try a crystal buffer while your feet are damp or a stainless steel file while your feet are dry for the best results.

6. Avoid licking those lips- Overusing lip balm is not the culprit when it comes to dry, cracked lips. Instead the culprit is more than likely the acid from your saliva left on your lips when you lick them. The skin on our lips is very thin and when that acid, which is used for digestion, is left on the lips for extended periods of time, dryness occurs. Make a conscious effort not to lick your lips when you are out in the elements and use a lip balm with softeners like Shea butter or jojoba oil. Avoid minty lip balms as they may contain drying menthol which will defeat the purpose of wearing the balm to begin with.

While these are only a few tips to protect your skin this winter, we hope that this is a good jump start for you and that the winter won’t be as painful on your skin this year or in years to come.

Winter Immune Boosters

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

winter immune boostersWe’re right smack in the dab of winter and it’s more important to boost your immune system this time of the year more than any other. Winter time is synonymous with cold and flu season, so why not try a few methods for warding off those winter sniffles?

Here are some winter immune boosters that will help to keep you healthy right through spring:

Diet- What you eat and what vitamins and minerals that food contains is also a huge boost to your immune system. Many doctors agree that a balanced and varied diet is key to warding off sickness. A diet rich in vitamin C, zinc, iron and selenium will give your immune system that boost.

According to CNN.com your nutrition profoundly affects your ability to fight these diseases. Filling up your plate with lean protein, including chicken, fish and fat-free dairy products is essential. The molecules that fight disease are made of protein.

Certain fats also improve cellular function and the ability to fight disease. Healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil and nuts are healthy fats that can boost immunity.
It’s also important to include fruits, vegetables and whole grains in our diet. These contain important antioxidants that keep blood levels of vitamin c, beta-carotene, zinc and B-vitamins high.

Exercise- Exercise, in moderation, is a great way to boost your immune system for the winter. Because exercise improves your circulation, immune cells are able to get around your body better to target viruses.

winter immune boosters 2Sunshine- Vitamin D, which is produced in the skin after exposure to the sun, is a great boost for your immune system and cell defense. Even getting outdoors when the sun is shining, despite the cold weather, will do wonders for your body.

Echinacea- According to a study put out last year, Echinacea, an herbal medicine, could reduce the risk of you catching a cold by half. The study also looked into its effectiveness in treating more serious respiratory infections, as well. Echinacea is said to regulate the immune system’s response to infection.

Stimulants- Be aware of the amount of stimulants that you put into your body. Where no research shows that an abundance of stimulants have an adverse effect on your immune system, moderation should be used when dealing with caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter drugs. If you are looking for a stimulant that could help your immune system try green tea instead. The antioxidants in green tea will help to prevent illness in the long run.

Sleep- If you are looking for a surefire way to help ward off a cold and the flu this year, be sure to get your seven hours a sleep per night. Sleep is extremely important and many doctors agree that lack of sleep can have a negative response on our immune system and our body as a whole.

Meditation- Even just 20 minutes a day of peace, quiet and relaxation can have a major impact on your immune system and can help to ward off winter colds. If you are able to put your body into a meditative state at least once a day, your bodies’ cells will be able to rejuvenate tremendously. Meditation is also a good stress reliever and can allow you to re-energize.

Mood/Stress- Being positive and avoiding stressful situations are both excellent immune boosters. While everyone’s mood and stress levels are different, studies have shown that chronic stress and depression have been linked to a weakened immune system. It’s important to find the stress in your life and work to deal with that stress in a positive way or to eliminate the stressful situations entirely.

Solving Diet Mysteries: Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

good fat vs bad fatDieting can be overwhelming. Sorting through labels- calories, fiber, good fat vs. bad fat and doesn’t it seem like the information is always changing? The food that we put in our bodies is essential to how we feel and how our bodies look so it’s essential that we’re making healthy food choices.

In this article we’ll begin unraveling the mysteries of eating healthy, starting with fats. This article will give you a brief explanation of the four types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats), how they affect your body and the healthiest way to consume them.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are fats that stay solid at room temperature, such as lard, coconut oil and cow butter. Saturated fats are what dieticians consider “bad fats” because they raise your bad cholesterol level, thereby raising your total cholesterol level.

People whose diet consists of many foods high in saturated fats typically are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats have a lower melting temperature than saturated fats, which means that they do not stay solid at room temperature. These types of fats can be found in: peanut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados.

Monounsaturated fats are what dieticians consider the “good fats” that lower bad cholesterol without lowering your levels of good cholesterol. In addition, monounsaturated fats help to prevent against cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are fats that can stay liquid even at lower temperatures, such as corn oil and sunflower oil. Polyunsaturated fats are also found in soybeans, fish, fish oil and in grain products.

Dieticians consider polyunsaturated fats the “good fats” as they lower cholesterol and they help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering the amount of fat in the blood.

Trans Fats
Trans fats are man-made fats that are created during the hydrogenation process. These types of fats are unnatural and toxic to your body. Trans fats are abundant in packaged and processed foods.

Dieticians consider trans fats the “bad fats” as they can cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sterility.

How Fats Affect You

Fats are essential to your overall health. Fats provide energy and certain types of vitamins and minerals can only be processed by your body when fats are present. Trying to eliminate fats from your diet can lead to problems like vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

According to NBC.com a common weight loss myth includes completely cutting fat out of your diet to achieve weight loss. While you should limit foods high in saturated fat, some fat is necessary to maintain a healthy body. There are indeed many good fats that are required for optimal health. Healthy fats play an important role in helping our bodies use vitamins D, E, A, and K. However, moderation is key and the amount of healthy fats that you need is dependent on the total number of calories you require for weight loss.

Most dieticians will recommend that no more than 10 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fats, with up to 10 percent coming from polyunsaturated fats and up to 15 percent coming from monounsaturated fats. No amount of trans fats are safe or are recommended on a daily basis.

Here are a few foods recommended by CNN.com that can help you in your quest to consuming good fat:

Avocado
Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to increase the amount of heart-healthy fats to your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.

Olive oil
Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties — they’re the least processed — and use them instead of butter when cooking.

Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are all full of omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Almonds are rich in omega-3s, plus nuts increase fiber in the diet.

The best way to keep an eye on your daily fat intake is to be cautious of what you eat and to be a good label reader. This will help you to keep your dietary fats at a healthy level.

Muscle Building at Home: Six Simple Exercises to Create a Leaner and More Muscular You

Friday, January 15th, 2010

exercises at homeMuscle building at home is an excellent alternative to going to the gym. Oftentimes people either cannot afford a gym membership or just find going to the gym inconvenient or uncomfortable. An excellent substitute that can be just as effective is muscle building at home with exercises that are proven to increase strength and slim the body.

By fitting these few simple exercises into your daily regimen at home you will begin to see results in no time. Don’t forget to begin any work out with a quick stretching routine and then do the following exercises, which target your upper, middle and lower muscle groups.

Push Ups: (Reps: Three sets of five, or five sets of three) Do simple push-ups, using your knees as your stability, instead of your toes. When lowering your body, try to go as slow as possible for the best work out.

Crunches: (Reps: Three sets of ten) Do crunches instead of sit-ups because sit-ups tend to harm your back. Lay on your back with your hands locked behind your head, bend knees so your feet are on the floor and lift your shoulders and head up forming the crunch. If you can hold it for one second the work out will be more beneficial.

Half-knee bends:. (Reps: Ten) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips, lower your hips halfway and hold, placing your weight on the balls of your feet. Hold for a ten count and then go back to a normal stance.

In addition to these standard exercises you might want incorporate these next few advanced exercises found at www.health.msn.com.

Bodyweight Squats: Stand with your hands behind your head, your chest out, and your elbows back. Sit back at your hips and bend your knees to lower your body as far as possible without losing the natural arch of your spine. Squeeze your glutes and push yourself back to the starting position.

Step-Ups: Place one foot on a step and push down through your heel to lift your other leg up. Return to the starting position and finish all reps with one leg before switching legs and repeating the exercise. Go up and down quickly and drive your knees up to get the maximum burn.

V-Up and Roll: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Hold your arms straight above your chest, your fingers pointing toward the wall behind you. Contracting your abdominal muscles, fold your body up by lifting your legs off the floor and stretching your arms toward your toes. Keep your back straight. Pause then return to the starting position. Variations like this one reduce the stress on your back (smarter) and use more muscles together (harder).

Muscle building at home can be as easy as incorporating these simple exercises into your daily routine.

Best Vitamins for Kids: Giving Your Child the Essential Vitamins They Need

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Multicolour boySo what are the best vitamins for kids to consume in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle? It’s vital for parents to consider the essential vitamins that children need in order to grow and nourish a healthy body. By starting to consider these things early on, parents will be able to instill in their children the importance of a healthy lifestyle that will hopefully carry on through adulthood.

If given the choice, kids would live on a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs that’s why it’s up to us as parents to make sure that we’re providing the best vitamins for kids when choosing their daily meals. Besides giving your child a daily multi-vitamin keep these tips in mind when label reading to make sure that they are getting all that they need from their food:

  • Calcium: Getting enough calcium is important to everyone, especially children. That’s why children require at least 800 mg of calcium for children ages 4 to 8, and at least 1,300 mg of calcium for children 9 and older.
  • Iron: Many multi-vitamins do not contain iron, so be sure to supplement your child’s meals with iron-rich foods to be sure they get the recommended 10 mg of iron a day.
  • Folic Acid: Important for so many reasons, including the production of red blood cells and healthy skin, hair and gums, a typical child’s dose of folic acid is 75 to 150 mcg daily.
  • Vitamin C: Especially during cold and flu season, be sure to increase your child’s daily intake of Vitamin C to at least 1 gram per day.
  • Vitamin D: Children’s growing bones require plenty of Vitamin D, so many pediatricians recommend that children take a supplement with 800 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin D daily.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is also important for a growing child’s body, but too much Vitamin A can also be toxic, therefore many pediatricians suggest increasing your child’s beta carotene intake, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body.

Another trick to ensuring that your children are consuming the best vitamins for kids is to make sure that they are eating fruits and veggies in an array of colors. According to msn.com the colors represented in foods are indicators of nutritional value and different colors mean different vitamins and minerals.

Red
Red-colored fruits and veggies offer an essential antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that is associated with a multitude of health benefits, including protecting the skin from sun damage and decreasing the risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer. It’s also been shown to decrease symptoms of wheezing, asthma, and shortness of breath in people when they exercise. Good red sources of lycopene include red tomatoes, bell peppers, guava, watermelon and pink grapefruit.

Orange
Beta-carotene is the nutrient responsible for fruits and vegetables’ dramatic orange color. Once beta-carotene is inside the body it is converted to vitamin A which contributes to immune-system health. Orange foods also help improve eyesight and night vision due to the fact that vitamin A is vital for creating the pigment in the retina responsible for vision in low-light situations. A few good orange fruits and veggies rich in beta-carotene include winter squash, oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe.

Yellow
Yellow foods are close relatives of orange foods and are likewise rich in carotenoids. The more common yellow carotenoid is beta-cryptoxanthin, which supplies about half the vitamin A as beta-carotene does. Studies show it decreases the likelihood for such diseases as lung cancer and arthritis. Research also shows that foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin help decrease inflammation in the joints and improve the functioning of the respiratory system. Yellow foods high in beta-cryptoxanthin are yellow bell peppers, pineapple, corn, bananas, and yellow squash.

Green
Green foods are among the most abundant sources of lutein and zeaxanthin which promotes healthy vision. They’re also capable of strengthening bones, muscles and brains. Green fruits and veggies get their color from chlorophyll, which studies show play an important role in stimulating the growth of new tissue and hindering the growth of bacteria. As a topical treatment, it can speed healing time by 25 percent. Green fruits and veggies high in vitamins and nutrients include avocado, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, romaine lettuce, broccoli, kale, spinach and green peas.

Blue and Purplepurple veggies
Blue and purple foods get their color from the presence of flavonoids called anthocyanins. These are known to improve cardiovascular health and prevent short-term memory loss, but the deeply pigmented anthocyanins go even further. Blueberries have been found to make brain cells more responsive to incoming messages and might even spur the growth of new nerve cells. Purple and blue foods high in flavonoids include eggplant, blackberries, beets, blueberries and plums.

Here are a few suggestions for making sure that your children are consuming the best vitamins for kids. By following these tips your child will be well on their way to a healthy lifestyle.

A Thirst-Quenching Guide to Water: An Essential Element for a Healthy Life

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Water picAs Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Water is the driver of nature”. Put simply, water sustains life. So you’re already aware that drinking plenty of water is not only good for you but also a vital aspect to achieving the ultimate in health and wellness. But it might be even more important than you realized. By not drinking enough water, you can impair every aspect of your physiology. According to Dr. Howard Flaks on www.naturodoc.com by not drinking enough water, people may incur excess body fat, poor muscle tone and size, decreased digestive efficiency and organ function, increased toxicity in the body, joint and muscle soreness and water retention.

Besides air, water is the element most essential for survival. In fact, a typical human is comprised of between 60 and 70 percent water and brain tissue is said to be comprised of 85% water. It’s reported that people can go without food for almost two months, but for only a few days without water. In addition, without water humans would be poisoned to death by their own waste products. As indicated by www.naturodoc.com, when the kidneys remove uric acid and urea, they must be dissolved in water first. If there isn’t enough water available, wastes are not removed as effectively and may build up as kidney stones.

Water is also essential for chemical reactions during such body processes as digestion and metabolism due to the fact that it carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells through the blood and helps to cool the body through perspiration. In addition, it helps to lubricate our joints. We even need water to breathe. Our lungs must be moistened by water in order to take in oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide. Studies show that humans lose close to a pint of liquid each day merely by exhaling.

“Proper water intake is a key to weight loss,” says Dr. Donald Robertson, medical director of the Southwest Bariatric Nutrition Center in Scottsdale, Arizona on www.naturodoc.com. “If people who are trying to lose weight don’t drink enough water, the body can’t metabolize the fat adequately. Retaining fluid also keeps weight up.”

If you’re wondering if you’re drinking enough water then just listen to your body. Here are some common symptoms of dehydration:

• Heartburn, stomach ache
• Non-infectious recurring or chronic pain
• Low back pain
• Headache
• Mental irritation and depression
• Water retention (ironic but true )
• Dry mouth- this is the last outward sign of extreme dehydration.

Moral of the story if you haven’t figured it out yet- we need water to survive and thrive. But exactly how much water should we drink to ensure optimum health and wellness?

According to Dr. Flaks the minimum amount of water one should intake is eight to ten eight-ounce glasses a day. Eight to ten 8 oz glasses is equivalent to three to four standard 16 oz bottles of water per day. But you’ll need even more if you exercise a lot of live in a hot climate. And overweight people should drink an extra glass for every 25 pounds that they exceed their ideal weight.

The formula that the International Sports Medicine Institute uses is this: 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight if you’re not active (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses if you weigh 160 pounds), and 2/3 ounce per pound if you’re athletic (13 to 14 glasses a day, at the same weight). Simply calculated, drink 50-75% of your body weight in ounces. And intake should be spread throughout the day and evening.

If you’re wondering about how this might affect you bladder, then don’t worry. You may be constantly running to the bathroom at the onset of appropriate water consumption but after a few weeks, your bladder tends to adjust and urination is less frequent but in larger amounts.

By simply paying attention and drinking more water on a daily basis you will not only be contributing to a healthier life but you could also be on your way to a healthier and leaner body.