10 Steps You Can Take To Slow Down Aging

images-4Aging is a complex process that involves many areas of your body. It’s unlikely that any one product or pill could cure all of the ailments of aging. However, there are things you can do that not only will help you age more slowly but will improve your quality of life.

Your best bet for a long and healthy life is to:

1. Eat a varied and healthy diet.  Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods. Fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins all play a part in keeping your body functioning at its best. Drink lots of fluids to maintain healthy skin and flush out waste. Eating right will help you maintain a healthy weight.

2. Exercise every day.  Exercise improves appetite, makes healthy bones, gives you a better emotional outlook and improves digestion and circulation. Exercise makes you stronger and helps you lose weight.

3. Seeking prompt medical care when you’re ill or injured.  Listen to your body and take care of any little problems before they become big problems. Get screened for diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

4. Use sunscreen to prevent sunburn.  Professionals agree that one of the most significant factors contributing to aging is chronic inflammation of the skin.

5. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking has very damaging effects and dramatically increases your risk of getting cancer and heart disease.

6. Manage stress. Stress is a part of everyday life. Develop ways to help you cope and adjust to situations in your life that may cause you stress. The situation isn’t the problem, its how you react to it.

7. Look for ways to improve overall well-being and enthusiasm for life.  Be curious and creative which will encourage you to learn new things. You can also use humor and laughter to help you age well and live long.

8. Keep strong relationships. Maintaining close ties to your family and friends are crucial to healthy aging.

9. Don’t let fears and worries dominate your life.  A worried mind is not at peace and robs you of zest and energy which you need to maintain youthfulness.

10. Keep cells youthful with antioxidants.  Antioxidants are found in a full-range of fruits and vegetables, as well as in some meat, like fish. Although, our bodies produce its own antioxidants, the level of product declines over time because of environmental factors and through the aging process. You can also take anti oxidant supplements or even anti oxidant teas.

Do all you can to be healthy and in doing so you will age slower. If you have any questions about products that claim to slow or reverse aging ask your doctor. He or she can help you sort through the information and get the facts.

10 Tips to Help Kids Eat Healthy

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Creating a Healthy Home can be easier than you think.

Creating a nutritionally healthy home is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your child. To start, make smart food choices, and help your child develop a positive relationship with healthy food. Your children will learn their food smarts from your example.

Here are the top 10 tips for getting children to eat healthy food:

1Do not restrict food. Restricting food increases the risk your child may develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia later in life. It can also have a negative effect on growth and development.   Also by restricting food you will actually increase the risk of overeating later in the day which will cause weight gain.

2Keep healthy food at hand. Children will eat what’s readily available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, not buried in the crisper section of your fridge. Remember, your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house, by limiting junk food you will, by default, teach your child how to choose healthier foods.

3Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports, academics and hobbies. Let your child know that lean protein such as turkey and calcium in dairy products give strength to their sports and academic performance, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables add luster to skin and hair and the carbs in whole grains will give them energy to play.

4Praise healthy choices. Give your children a proud smile and tell them how smart they are when they choose healthy foods. Kids thrive on positive reinforcement!

5.  Don’t nag about unhealthy choices. If your child chooses unhealthy foods infrequently, ignore it. However, if your child always wants fatty, fried food, redirect the choice. You might try roasting potato sticks in the oven (tossed in just a bit of oil) instead of buying french fries. Or, if your child wants candy, you might make fresh strawberries dipped in a little chocolate sauce. Too busy? Then keep naturally sweet dried fruit at home for quick snacks.  With consistent effort taste buds change and soon your child will be craving healthy foods.

6.  Never use food as a reward. This could create weight problems in later life. Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun — perhaps a trip to the park or a quick game of catch.

7.  Sit down to family dinners at night.  If this isn’t a tradition in your home, it should be. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Start with one night a week, and then work up to three or four, to gradually build the habit.

8.  Prepare plates in the kitchen. There you can put healthy portions of each item on everyone’s dinner plate. Your children will learn to recognize correct portion sizes.  Too often people go for seconds and even thirds just because the food is right there.  You might notice that you need less food to feel full!

9. Give the kids some control.  Ask your children to take three bites of all the foods on their plate and give it a grade, such as A, B, C, D, or F.  When healthy foods – especially certain vegetables — get high marks, serve them more often. Offer the items your children don’t like less frequently. This lets your children participate in decision making. After all, dining is a family affair!

10.  Consult your pediatrician.  Always talk with your child’s doctor before putting your child on a diet, trying to help your child gain weight, or making any significant changes in the type of foods your child eats. Never diagnose your child as too heavy, or too thin, by yourself.  If weight change is recommended seek the help of a professional Dietitian.

Gluten-Free, Guilt-Free Oatmeal Muffins

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Now there’s absolutely no excuse for skipping breakfast!   These muffins are like a portable bowl of oatmeal. The fruit is even included.  AND… they are kid-tested and approved!

This is a great base recipe.  Make it your own, play with it, use your creativity.  I often add walnuts, flax seeds, cranberries (dried or fresh), chocolate chips, any kind of fruit, whatever is in season.  This is good clean eating.  Enjoy!

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Yield: 12 large
Bake: in 400ºF oven for 20 minutes

1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup yogurt, plain low-fat
1/2 cup milk, low-fat
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar  (or any natural sweetener of choice)
1/3 cup oil, sunflower or vegetable oil
2 bananas, large, ripe, mashed
1 egg, large, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup oat flour  (just grind 2 cups oats in blender)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Instructions
In a bowl mix together rolled oats, yogurt, milk, and vanilla. Let soak for 10 minutes.
Mix oat flour, salt, spices, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
Add brown sugar, mashed banana, egg and oil to rolled oats mixture. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients to the rolled oats mixture. Mix well. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Be Merry And Stay On Track! Sensible Nutrition for the Holidays

It is possible to enjoy the holidays and eat healthy too!
It is possible to enjoy the holidays and eat healthy too!

It’s the most delicious time of the year!  But why does it have to be the most damaging time of the year, when it comes to nutrition.  Well, with a little sensible advice and an ounce of prevention, you can make it through the holidays without sabotaging your progress.

  1. Be Realisitic.  Instead of trying to lose weight during the holidays, set a goal of weight maintenance.  This is more realistic and frees you from the “all or nothing” thinking that sabotages healthy eating.
  2. Substitutions.  When making holiday recipes, look for ways to make your creations healthier.  Swapping low-sodium broth for regular broth, low-fat cream cheese for full-fat, Greek yogurt for sour cream, or whole-wheat flour for white are just a few options.
  3. Planning.  The “most wonderful time of the year” also seems to be the most stressful, in terms of time management.  However, a little planning can go a long way, and healthy eating does require a little pre-planning.  Try not to arrive at a party hungry.  Eat a light but filling snack (such as nuts, fruit, yogurt, string cheese) before arriving.  Do not skip meals, try to stick to your normal meal plan.
  4. Moderation.  Eating healthy does not mean completely avoiding every dish that looks delicious.  If you want to have a piece of pie, by all means, put it on your plate!  Exercise some portion control and select a small portion to try first; then reassess if you want to go back for seconds.  Often our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and small samples of each item from the buffet usually add up to a full plate.
  5. Support.  Chances are, you are not the only one who struggles with food during the holidays. Find a friend or family member who can share accountability with you.
  6. Balance.  Keep your goals in mind, but don’t let them take over your social calendar. Remember that good nutrition is not about extreme dieting, sacrificing your favorite foods, or excluding yourself from the party to avoid temptation.  Bottom line – enjoy yourself!

The journey to healthy living is a gradual one, made by implementing small but consistent changes in behavior. Pick one or two reasonable goals and do your best to reach them daily. Most of all, enjoy this season of celebration. The whole point of being healthy is to live well.

Happy holidays!

Outsmart Holiday Weight Gain

T’is the season for weight gain!  Along with all the delicious food around at this time of the year, comes the added pressure to over eat.  The holidays also place extra demands on our time, and more often than not, eating out of convenience ends up being the choice for many.  So let’s face it, nobody expects to lose weight during the holidays, it’s impossible and will only add extra stress.  But we can be proactive by doing some damage control before the damage actually happens, this entails planning and awareness.  According to the experts, the key to avoid any holiday weight gain is portion control.  It’s ok to indulge in the foods you enjoy as long as you are aware of how much you are eating and are staying within your daily calorie allowance.  This way you can enjoy the festive treats without the associated guilt.

Be your own Scrooge when it comes to calories.  Try these practical tips on outsmarting your cravings and avoid over indulging this holiday season:

  1. Workout Before the Event Try to sneak in a workout before the event.  Burning off some extra calories will help create ‘room’ for the calories you may end up consuming at the buffet table.  But more importantly, after a workout session, you may not want to sabotage your efforts by overeating.  A  heightened awareness in your physical well-being comes from endorphins (‘feel good’ hormones) that are released during exercise.  These hormones leave you feeling energized, optimistic, and confident.  You are in a far better position to make sensible food choices when you feel good about yourself.
  2. Eat Before Arriving Never arrive on an empty stomach, it’s simply a recipe for disaster.  Instead, have a healthy snack beforehand, or if that’s not possible, a glass of water will also do the trick.  The idea is to curb your appetite.
  3. Do a Walk-By Before grabbing a plate take a moment to simply walk by the buffet table and check out the offerings.  This is a form of planning, it allows you to scan the situation and narrow down your choices before deciding.  Instead of trying a little of everything (which can add up to a whole lot of calories!), you will, more likely, only choose the foods that interest you the most.
  4. Step Away From the Food People naturally seem to congregate around food because food is festive.  But the party shouldn’t just be about the food.  Make it a point not to focus on the food and explore your surroundings.  You’ll find that when food is not the focal point, you’ll naturally find other distractions.  Enjoy the company of friends.  Conversation and laughter are a great distraction from mindless eating.
  5. Bring Your Own Healthy Snack Offer to bring something.  Not only is it gracious, but it’s a way for  you to have a healthy backup plan just in case you don’t see anything else worth trying.
  6. Wear Something Body Hugging This one is for the gals.  Wear a body hugging outfit and you’ll automatically be more conscious of how much you are eating.  This works every time!
  7. Use a Smaller Plate Instead of the regular dinner size plate, opt for the smaller appetizer size plate.  Do not pile up your food, keep your selections to a single layer.

10 Health Benefits from a 10% Weight Loss

#10  Lowers the risk of developing gallstones and developing gallbladder disease.

#9  Lowers the risk of sleep apnea, a serious breathing difficulty during sleep.

#8  Lowers the risk of congestive heart failure.  Excess weight puts stress on the      heart and lungs.

#7  Reduces the risks of some types of cancer. A healthy weight and a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are great ways to reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

 #6  Puts less stress on your bones and joints, especially the knees.

#5   Lowers the risks of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

#4  Reduces the risk of developing diabetes and helps control blood sugar levels if you are already diabetic.

#3  Reduces blood pressure.  Even a small weight loss can help to lower high blood pressure.

#2  Improves your ability to move and do activities.  Losing weight makes every step and breathe easier.

#1  The # 1 reason to lose weight is …
You will feel better!  Set a goal to lose 10% and Get Started!

Kill the Cravings and Slash the Calories

Before giving in to the urge to eat when you might not be hungry, ask yourself:

Am I hungry or am I thirsty?

Asking yourself this question is another level of defense to help you prevent unnecessary and mindless eating.  If you don’t drink enough water, or you miss the cues to thirst, you could be eating for the wrong reason.  It’s quite common to misinterpret the body signalling dehydration for hunger.  During these times we can easily substitute an urge to eat with a tall, refreshing glass of water and feel satisfied.

Getting to your desired weight doesn’t happen overnight.  But when you make small, sustainable changes one after another – like drinking more water, for example, great things happen.  You see, water not only helps you feel full,  but is necessary for many aspects of health and weight management.

I want you to use the key question to differentiate thirst from hunger. Be comfortable saying,  “You know what? I’ll have a glass of water instead and see how I feel afterwards.”

How does it feel knowing you can turn to water for refreshment instead of being dependent on overeating?

Practice this behavior whenever you feel an urge to eat and you’ll be surprised to discover how many calories you are able to save!

Burn More Calories While Doing Nothing

This is what we all want, right?  Let’s be honest, the idea of receiving maximum benefits for minimum efforts sounds pretty sweet.  Almost too sweet.  Well, it is possible – but (ah yes, there’s always a ‘but’!), we need to kick-start the whole process first.

Our metabolism is like an engine that runs all day long, it never really stops, it constantly burns energy (calories).  When we are active, our body is expending more energy, thereby burning more calories than when we are inactive.  However, even when we’re sitting around on the couch, we’re burning calories.  This is called our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the energy we burn at rest.  Therefore, whether we lose weight or gain weight depends greatly on how efficiently our metabolism is functioning.  A slow running metabolism is inefficient at burning calories and can lead to weight gain, whereas, a fast running metabolism efficiently burns calories at a higher rate throughout the day, even when you are doing nothing!  The key is not only to burn enough calories during activity, but to keep the metabolism revved up during rest, that is, to increase our BMR.  This is what leads to successful long-term weight loss.

BMR Facts

BMR is based on a number of factors like our gender, age, weight, height, the amount of fat or muscle we carry around, plus a host of other genetic factors that vary from person to person.  BMR calculators can provide a general idea of your BMR.  Here are some key numbers to keep in mind:

  • Number of calories burned at rest = 12 cal per lb per day
  • Number of calories burned by muscle = 30 – 50 cal per lb per day
  • Number of calories burned by fat = 3 cal per lb per day

The numbers obviously speak for themselves.  Muscle tissue is metabolically active and burns 10-15 times more calories than fat.  This is an important fact to keep in mind when considering how to go about revving our metabolism.

Our lifestyle, our habits, our nutritional choices directly affect our metabolic rate.  There are a number of things we can do to ensure that our metabolism is functioning optimally all day long.

#1 Muscle is Metabolism

We already know that regular exercise is important for weight loss.  However, all exercises are not created equal and will not deliver the same results.  Remember, muscle burns way more calories than fat, therefore, the focus of exercise should be to build more muscle.  A regular strength and resistance training program will not only help build lean muscle but will burn more calories.  Muscle increases your BMR which means the calorie burn from weight training continues long after your workout is done.

#2 Muscle is Made in the Kitchen

What we eat, when we eat, how often we eat have a great effect on our metabolism.  In order to support the hard work we put in at the gym, we need to feed our body clean, natural foods.  Nutrition accounts for approximately 80% (if not more) of the fat loss battle.  We should try to eliminate as many refined and processed foods as we can from our regular diet.  This type of change does not have to take place overnight.  In fact, I don’t recommend that anyone make drastic changes as it would be an unrealistic approach.  Small, incremental changes made regularly are more likely to stick and become habits rather than drastic changes.  The focus of a healthy diet should be on nutrient-dense foods rather than calorie-dense foods.

How much and how often we eat is very important in keeping the metabolism stoked.  Eating less is a common misconception regarding weight loss, in fact, to lose weight we need to eat more often.  On average, we should try to eat 6 small meals throughout the day to keep our blood sugar levels stable and our metabolism humming.

#3 Chill Out

Stress plays havoc on our metabolism and our health in general.  The mind-body connection has been given much attention as of late.  For our optimal well-being it is essential for us to practice stress management on a regular basis.  Stress throws our body out of balance and in order to restore homeostasis our body responds by releasing stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (aka adrenaline).  Both cortisol and adrenaline are released by the adrenal glands at the same time, but we feel the effects of this a few hours later.

Cortisol is a powerful appetite stimulant which researchers suggests may interfere with our brain’s normal hunger signals.  Cortisol causes us to crave foods that our body can quickly convert to energy to deal with the threatening situation – stress.  We, therefore, end up craving simple sugars and carbs in the form of refined foods and sweets.  Cortisol not only promotes weight gain, but it affects where you put on the extra pounds.  Elevated cortisol levels generally cause weight gain in the abdominal area.  Increased abdominal fat is dangerous as it increases our risk of developing  cardiovascular disease.  Managing stress is crucial to our well-being especially in our fast-paced lifestyles.  Combating the effects of cortisol is simple, and it doesn’t necessarily involve yoga or tai chi, just 30 minutes of moderate level physical activity of any kind daily can significantly reduce stress.

Training with a Friend

Our friends are always the ones we spend time with on weekends, in the evenings and even at the office, so why not bring that relationship into the gym and both benefit?  Training with a friend always brings out a higher level of accountability as well as an added edge of competitiveness!  This can serve as the perfect source of motivation to begin the fitness journey and have a lot of fun while you’re at it!

Who’s Your BFF?

Who’s your Best-Fitness-Friend?  What about your best friend who’s been telling you he/she needs to get to the gym?  A co-worker?  A family member?  Couples can have great success training together as well.  Bear in mind, just because you’re friends doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make great training partners.  When choosing a training partner, it’s important to find a person who has similar fitness goals as yourself and is at a similar fitness level.  This will allow the training sessions to flow better, making them more efficient, and you’ll get more from your one hour.

Sync Your Schedules and Goals

Making a plan of attack on times to meet, as well as coordinate your specific fitness goals is in my opinion, just as important as the work out itself. The work out schedule needs to be convenient for both parties so that there are no excuses.  Sit down together and plan out a schedule; put it in your calendar just like any other appointment, and then stick to it.  Make a pact to help each other stick to it.

Take some time to individually identify some SMART goals and then review them together to ensure they are in sync. And here’s the best part about training with a friend:  use the buddy system to hold one another accountable and push each other to reach those goals.  This is a proven recipe for success!

Dare To Suck!

What I mean by “dare to suck” is this:  you will always be what you’ve always been if you always do what you’ve always done.  Step out of your comfort zone and use each other to get fired up and complete your mission. Don’t be afraid to challenge each other and dare to suck while doing it!  The important thing is that you’re daring to go beyond your limitations, and this is when the magic happens.  In terms of fitness, this is how you get results!

Study after study show that support is the key to success in anything we do!  Getting healthy is no different.  Here are some of the many benefits of training with a friend…

  • Extra motivation and accountability
  • Fosters friendly competition – to make each other work harder!!!
  • Fun and enjoyment
  • Saves money OR allows them to train more regularly
  • Encouragement and support
  • Improves relationships
  • Increases chances of success and gets results!