Holiday Stress?!

Holiday Stress
The holidays are a great way to appreciate family & friends and time spent together, but they can also be very stressful.

No sooner have we put away the Thanksgiving turkey and are frantically putting up the holiday decorations and finding the perfect presents we need to wrap for Christmas…. All while trying to plan & prepare for the relatives arrival (uh oh!).

The holidays bring constant motion for many, as well as feelings of being overwhelmed, depression and even loneliness for others.

  • A number of factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and too many commitments can cause stress and anxiety at holiday time.
  • A holiday stress poll by the APA showed that more than eight out of 10 Americans anticipate stress during the holiday season.
  • During holidays, stress and depression are higher than at any other time throughout the year.

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses and may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms including:

  • headaches
  • excessive drinking
  • overeating
  • insomnia

Are your expectations for the holidays realistic? Asking yourself this question is the first step to managing holiday stress.

Give the following tips a try to help minimize those holiday stressors and to avoid being a scrooge!

  • Plan ahead! That goes for decorating, traveling, meals, and shopping!
  • Ask people what they want instead of scouring the earth to find the perfect gifts.
  • Shop early, when there is more of a selection and to avoid long lines.
  • Stick to your gift budget – keep it simple or homemade.
  • Simplify holiday commitments and traditions.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits! Incorporate regular physical activity into each day & continue to log your holiday meals
  • Slow down! Take time for yourself – go for a walk, get a massage, or read a book to take a break from all the Holi-dazzle!
  • Remember what’s important.

 

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic; http://mayoclinic.org

Cleveland Clinic; http://clevelandclinic.org

American Psychological Association; http://www.apa.org/

American Heart Association; http://www.heart.org

Traveling with Food

A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t come to a screeching halt when you have to travel. Whether it is a business trip, visiting family for the holidays, or going on a vacation, it can seem difficult to maintain your healthy eating patterns. When there is a will, there is a way! Even though you won’t be at home, you can still find ways to avoid stopping for fast food or having to subside to the overly processed airline meals. Here are a few tips that can help you on your next expedition!

Traveling By Car:

  • This is one of the easiest ways to travel with food as you don’t have to worry about restrictions!
  • If you plan on staying in a hotel, call ahead and ask if they have a refrigerator and/or microwave.
  • Pack along a small grill (like a George Foreman, very light weight) or a plug-in skillet if you want to cook chicken, fish, or eggs in your room. These are even great tools to warm-up your food.
  • Pre-cook meat like chicken, turkey burgers, and/or hardboiled eggs. Pack them in a cooler with a lot of ice.
  • Avoid stopping at the nearest gas station for snacks by packing your own trail mix, tuna, roasted chickpeas, popcorn, beef jerky, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc. Think outside the box!
  • Bring a water bottle and pending on how long the drive is, a few gallons of water so you can refill your water bottle.

Traveling By Plane or Train:

  • First things first, purchase a cooler that you can carry on to a plane or train.
  • Security will allow meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, potatoes, rice, dry oatmeal (just need hot water and bam you have a meal!), tuna and solid foods to pass through (just no liquids). Freeze your precooked meats that you won’t be eating that day and put in your cooler so they will last the entire trip.
    • TIP: Your ice packs must be frozen in order to be taken on to a plane. If they are thawed, they will be confiscated. Pack along some empty gallon plastic bags just in case they toss your ice bag away. Once you get across security, you can ask a restaurant for ice to fill up your plastic bag and put in your cooler (double-bag your ice so it doesn’t leak).
  • Bring an empty water bottle. You can’t bring liquids through security, but you can bring an empty water bottle in which you can fill up at the bubbler.

Foods for thought to be brought:

  • Turkey patties
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Tuna (packed in water)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Natural granola bars (5 ingredients or less)
  • Dry oats
  • Rice cakes
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Nuts
  • Cut up vegetables like peppers, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas
  • Fruit like apples, bananas, and oranges travel well

Resource(s): Oxygen Magazine April 2014; http://www.oxygenmag.com/

Maintain, Don’t Gain Through the Holidays

Turkey Eating Pie

Did you know that the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? And that doesn’t include breakfast, lunch, or late-night snacking on leftovers! Yikes! That is more than your daily caloric intake!

Studies show that the average American gains 3 to 4 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage. Year after year, those pounds can add up, and contribute to overweight or obesity later in life.

Although we may not all gain weight over the holidays, there is no question we tend to eat and drink more — and exercise less.

Reducing the amount of fat and calories in your snacking and main holiday meals can help prevent the average weight a person will gain over the holidays (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day).

 
Try these Healthy Holiday Eating Tips from the American Heart Association:

  • Track your food intake over the holidays to see how many calories, fats, sugars, etc., you are actually consuming, and to avoid those extra calories!
  • Prepare for handling your worst temptations; if you want both pecan and pumpkin pie, take a tiny slice of each, instead of an average serving.
  • If cooking, provide low-fat foods, or ask if you can bring a low-fat dish.
  • Be sure to get in your normal, healthy meals and snacks prior (if hungry, of course) so come Thanksgiving Dinner time you aren’t famished, which can lead to overeating.
  • Avoid grazing — which I call mindless eating that leads to overeating! Make sure you are paying attention when you are eating!
  • Before or after the meal, start a tradition — a holiday walk or Turkey Trot, for instance, or be sure to get your regular exercise routine in prior to your gathering.

turkeytrot

 

A Thanksgiving Meal Breakdown: Cut Out Extra, Unwanted Calories in Your Thanksgiving Meal by Following These Nutrition Tips:

  • Turkey: Stick to about 3 ounces of white meat and no skin. That’s about the size of your credit card or a deck of cards and about an inch and a half thick.
  • Gravy or cranberry sauce: One-third of a cup is the recommended serving amount for each. Be aware of the sodium content in gravy.
  • Mashed potatoes: One cup of mashed potatoes contains around 210 calories, so if you stick to the recommended amount of half of a cup, you can slash the caloric intake to 105! If possible, choose red potatoes which are more nutrient dense.
  • Green beans: Instead of making green bean casserole, serve them stir-fried or grilled with a little olive oil and garlic. Since green bean casserole tends to be made with canned soup and fried onions, there is a lot of sodium.
  • Sweet potato casserole: Simply make the sweet potato casserole as you would but try to eliminate any extra cream, butter, or marshmallows.
  • Dinner roll: Stick with one, or skip it altogether!
  • Butter (2 tsp): Replace the butter in your meal with margarine instead to reduce the amount of saturated and trans-fat in the meal.
  • Pecan pie (1 slice): Pecan pie comes in at a whopping 503 calories and 27 grams of fat. Swap it out for a slice of the healthier pumpkin pie or apple pie.
  • Low-fat vanilla ice cream or cool whip: Instead of topping your desserts with full-fat ice cream this holiday season, substitute lower fat or reduced-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt.
  • Red wine (5 oz): Alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram itself, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and only just under the caloric value for fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you are watching your weight this holiday season you will want to stick to the lighter or lower-calorie drinks. Your best bets? Lighter spirits such as vodka, wine, light beers or tonics.

healthyplate

In the end, it really comes down to portion control and moderation. These Thanksgiving tips hold true for Christmas Dinners as well.  In addition to watching your serving sizes and types of food items, be sure to continue or start with a regular exercise routine, even through the holidays.

Take hold of your health over the holidays and focus on consuming less and moving more… your body will thank you!

 

Resources:

American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/

The Diabetes Educator https://www.diabeteseducator.org/export/sites/aade/_resources/pdf/general/ThanksgivingPlateResource.pdf

Mayo Clinic on Thanksgiving Dinner http://mayoclinc.org

 

The Power of Pilates

pilates groupPilates is a low impact workout that builds flexibility, strength and endurance by focusing mainly on the abdominal, hip, and back muscles or also what is called the “core” muscles. Pilates was created about 90 years ago by Joseph H. Pilates, who was a German athlete. Joseph Pilates began to devise his exercise technique after studying yoga, Tai Chi or Zen training and traditional physical training once used by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Joseph Pilates was also a proponent of the mind-body connection and his exercises include a focus on breathing and concentration.

A Pilates workout delivers benefits such as long, firm, flat muscles, a strong back and good posture.

The other benefits of Pilates include:

  • Improved heart and lung health. The breathing exercises can increase your lung capacity without breaking a sweat.
  • Increased balance and flexibility. Pilates stretches the muscles and improves your range of motion for greater flexibility, agility, balance and coordination.
  • Brain Pilates, uses a mental concentration and focused breathing; it also heightens the mind-body connection; this may help relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Pilates is a low-impact type of exercise which can be adapted to your physical condition.

What to Expect in Pilates Class

A Pilates session usually lasts for 30, 45 or 60 minutes on floor mats. Your instructor will lead you through a series of very precise exercises. You can wear comfortable clothing, similar to what you would wear for aerobics or yoga and no shoes.

If you have significant health conditions, you should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Also, let your instructor know about any physical limitations you may have. A Certified Pilates instructors can often customize a Pilates fitness program to meet your needs.

Give These Pilates Moves a Try

What you’ll need:

What you’ll need: A mat or piece of plush carpeting

1. The Hundred

The One Hundred

Works abs, inner thighs
Lie on floor with knees bent above hips (not shown), arms by sides, palms down. Exhale and raise head and shoulders off mat, curling chin toward chest while extending arms and legs; keep lower back pressed into floor and pull abs toward your spine (keep them engaged throughout the workout). Vigorously pump arms about 6 inches up and

down, reaching through your fingertips. Inhale for 5 pumps, then exhale for 5. Do 100 pumps, or 10 full breaths.

2. Roll Down

The Roll Down

Works abs
Sit tall with knees bent and feet on the mat, legs hip-width apart. Place hands behind thighs, keeping elbows wide. Inhale and begin to roll back toward the mat, curling your pelvis under and pressing your lower back into the floor. Stop halfway down, when your arms are almost straight. Hold this position for 3 breaths (deepen your abs with each exhale), then roll back up to sitting position. Do 3 times.

3. Single-Leg Circles

single leg circles

Works abs, hips, inner and outer thighs, hamstrings
Lie with right leg on the mat and left leg extended toward ceiling; keep arms at sides with palms pressing down into mat. Point left foot, reaching out with toes, and rotate the leg slightly outward.
Inhale and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving the entire leg but keeping hips still (don’t lift left hip off floor).
Circle 5 times clockwise, then repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Switch legs and repeat.

Resources:

Mayo Clinic-Pilates for Beginners: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/pilates-for-beginners/art-20047673

Pilates Benefits – WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-benefits-of-pilates

Blending versus Juicing

 

 

Juicing

One minute we should be blending fruits and vegetables for our morning breakfast, the next minute we should be juicing them. Is the difference? Which one should you do? Let’s find out!

For starters, what is the difference? Juicing is when you use a specific juicing machine (“Juicer”) to extract water and nutrients from fruits and/or vegetables, leaving behind the skin where fiber is held. Blending involves using a blender to mash down entire pieces of fruit and vegetables, skin and all, in to a drinkable form, typically referred to as a smoothie.

Knowing the differences, which one is better? Both have fantastic nutritious benefits. Below is some food for thought. See which one would fit your lifestyle better.

Juicing:

  • Juicing has been found to assist in healing and detoxification. This is because they are nutrient dense and restore the human body at the cellular level.
  • Nutrients are available to the body quicker than eating a whole piece of fruit by itself.
  • If you choose to juice only fruits you could cause a rapid blood sugar (glucose) spike and unstable blood sugar levels.
  • Although quick and tasty, juicing fruits and vegetables leaves you without the fiber and most likely hungry soon after drinking it. Fiber is important for heart health. It also keeps us fuller longer because our digestive system has to work harder to break it down.
  • You can intake more servings of fruits and/or veggies with a single serving of juice than with a smoothie.
  • It can be expensive to juice because you need a decent amount of produce to juice an 8 oz. cup. It can also be seen as wasteful since it involves discarding the peels.

Blending:

  • When blending fruits and vegetables you get the nutrients from the food items and the fiber if you leave the peels on (the edible peels of course).
  • More fiber from blending creates a slow and even release of nutrients in to the blood stream. You are less likely to encounter any blood sugar spikes.
  • The volume of the drink is more so than with juicing = bigger bang for your buck.
  • Clean up is typically easier than with juicing.


Both are great options. It just depends on what you are looking for. Still not sure? Try out these two delicious recipes and see which one tickles the taste buds.

Carrots & Apples, with a bit of Celery Juice

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

3 Apples

2 Carrots

2 Celery Stalks

Place all ingredients in your juicer. You may want to add some ice cubes to your glass and then pour. Typically they taste better chilled.

 

Parsley, Kale, and Berry Smoothie

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)

4 kale leaves (center ribs removed)

1 cup frozen organic berries (such as strawberries or raspberries)

1 banana (cut into pieces)

1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Purée ingredients with 1 cup water in a blender until smooth (add water if too thick)

 

Resources: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/search.php?search=juicing&cat=

http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/juicing-vs-blending-which-one-is-better

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/parsley-kale-and-berry-smoothie

http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/article-detail/Fruit-and-Vegetable-Juice-Recipes-for-Fasting-Detox-Juice-Recipes/am/

Sitting – Are You at Risk?

As a society we have become a population of professional sitters who spend long periods of time at a desk, in a car, on the phone or looking at a screen device.

Research studies performed in the United States and Australia have produced some thought-provoking results. Too much sitting has been associated with an increased risk of death cardiovascular disease and cancer.

sitting_image

One study analyzed adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a screen – of any type – and compared them to those who engaged in more than four hours a day. Here are the results:

There was nearly a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.  An approximate 125% increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease.

Activities associated with extending sitting such as driving your car or sitting at your desk are also harmful. Additional studies indicate that a FEW weekly hours spent at the gym or engaged in vigorous activity does not show significant offset of the risk.

There is hope however. The American College of Sports Medicine has prepared a handout with tips to help alleviate the effects of long-term sitting. Please see the link below.

http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/reducing-sedentary-behaviors-sitting-less-and-moving-more.pdf

 

Resources:

Matthews CE, et al. Amount of time spend in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in US adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012:95:437.

Stamatakis E, et al. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population- based study with ongoing mortiality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the Ameircan College of Cardiology. 2011:57:292.

Levine, James A. What are the risks of sitting too much? Mayo Clinic.org/healthy-living;adult-health. June 2012.

 

 

 

Metabolism & How to Rev It Up

 

Rev Up Your Metabolism

“That girl eats a lot and is still lean. She must have a high metabolism!”

You may have heard this before. You may not have. In our younger years, we could eat what we wanted and not gain an ounce. Now, for many of us, this isn’t the case.

Your metabolism involves a complex network of hormones and enzymes that not only convert food into fuel but also affect how efficiently you burn that fuel.

“The process of metabolism establishes the rate at which we burn our calories and, ultimately, how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it,” says Robert Yanagisawa, MD, director of the Medically Supervised Weight Management Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Not everyone burns calories at the same rate. There are several different factors that go into your metabolic rate. Your metabolism is influenced by your age (metabolic rate slows down gradually at age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be). Heredity can make a difference as well. Although we have age working against us, there are ways to keep your metabolism working at an efficient rate.

 

What are ways to increase your metabolism to prevent those extra pounds?

  • Build Muscle – Resistance Train! Time to pick up those dusty dumbbells.  The truth is that muscle tissue will burn seven to 10 calories daily per pound. Fat burns two to three calories daily per pound. “Replacing a pound of fat with a muscle, therefore, helps you burn an additional four to six more calories each day”, says Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.

 

  • Add Aerobic Workouts – Cardio/Aerobic training may not build muscle post-workout your metabolic rate remains high. High intensity interval training (HIIT) gives a longer lasting elevated resting metabolic rate than low intensity workouts.

 

  • Drink Up! Water that is- Lack of water can slow the metabolic rate just as lack of food can, says John Acquaviva, PhD, assistant professor of health and human performance at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. “Since water is the body’s most important nutrient, the liver will turn its concentration to water retention instead of doing other duties such as burning fat.” Aim for 32oz of water for every 50 pounds of body weight per day, more if exercising at high intensities outside. Factors such as diet, exercise habits and health status all affect the amount of water a person actually needs to drink in a day. Try to drink a glass of water (8oz) prior to eating your meal. Also, snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, which naturally contain water, rather than pretzels or chips which contain too much sodium.

  • Avoid Energy drinks- Yes, they do have caffeine which allows your body to have more energy to burn and may have taurine, an amino acid. Taurine can speed up your metabolism and may help burn fat. However, most energy drinks have high sugar content and may cause problems such as high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, anxiety, and sleep issues (Web MD). Looking for an energy boost mid-day? Try black coffee or tea instead, as you will get a quick metabolism and energy boost.

  • Spice it up! – Spicy foods have natural chemicals that can kick your metabolism into a higher gear. Cooking foods with a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can boost your metabolic rate. The effect is probably temporary, but if you eat spicy foods often, the benefits may add up. For a quick boost, spice up pasta dishes, chili, and stews with red pepper flakes.

 

  • Protein Power – Consuming protein can have a positive effect on your metabolism. Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. As part of a balanced diet, replace some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods to boost your metabolism at meal time. Good sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.

  • Your body burns many more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. As part of a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can boost metabolism at mealtime. Good sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.

 

  • Avoid Crash Diets- Crash diets involve eating fewer than 1,200 (if you’re a woman) or 1,800 (if you’re a man) calories a day. These diets may help you drop pounds but can affect your overall metabolism. There is also a great chance of losing muscle, which in turn slows your metabolism. The final result is your body burns fewer calories and gains weight faster than before the diet. Aim for a healthy diet rich in

avoidcrashdiets

 

 

Questions? Comments? Email jenna@answertowellness.com

Resources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/rev-up-your-metabolism

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508

http://www.themetaboliccenter.com/increasing-metabolism.php