ID-10060584(1)Did you know that even mild hydration can zap your energy, making you feel tired and irritable? Because our bodies continuously lose water, we must continuously replace it in order for our systems to operate properly. It is recommended that men take in 13 cups of liquid, women get 9 cups and children consume between 4 and 12 cups (depending on age). Total intake includes drinking water and water contained in food and other beverages.

Water can be an acquired taste, especially for individuals or families who prefer juice, soda, milk, sports drinks, coffee, tea or other beverages. Developing a water drinking habit is worth the effort because of the numerous health advantages so here are a few strategies to boost the flavor factor of plain water.

  • Encourage kids to drink water by offering a child-size pitcher they can use themselves. You can also provide fun drinking accessories such as swirly straws, colorful glasses and clip-in portable containers.
  • Freeze chunks of fruit in ice cube trays.
  • Mix fruit juice with plain or carbonated water. Gradually increase the ratio until it’s 50/50 or 25/75.

Here are a few more tips for boosting your water intake.ID-10034122

  • Limit beverage choices in your home to water or milk. Consider a “no soda” rule when dining out. BONUS BENEFIT: Beverages can add up to $3 per person to your restaurant bill!
  • Experiment with hot and cold water drinks. How about lemon and hot water instead of that fifth cup of coffee? Add crushed ice for a super refreshing drink.
  • Carry a water bottle with you at all times. Aim to finish one full bottle on your drive into and home from work.
  • Zero-calorie flavored carbonated waters are a nice change instead of plain water, especially at social gatherings when other people are drinking cocktails. Create a tasty wine spritzer by mixing wine with club soda or other flavored carbonated water and muddled fruit.
  • Consume fruits and vegetables that have high water content: watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatoes, grapefruit, coconut water, cucumbers, jicama, beets, carrots and celery.

How do you get in enough water during the day? What exotic ingredients do you use to flavor your H2O?

Sources:
Active.com
EatRight.org
MayoClinic.com

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of GT_Pann / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Chopped hard boiled egg, diced avocado and grape tomatoes make a quick, healthy, filling meal.

Chopped hard boiled egg, diced avocado and grape tomatoes make a quick, healthy, filling meal.

Underappreciated and often overlooked, eggs are economical, versatile, nutritious and delicious. Eggs cost approximately 15 cents each, and one egg provides 6 grams of protein (12% of the recommended daily value) and all of the essential amino acids required by our bodies. Considered by nutritionists and dieticians to be a weight loss “superfood,” some folks avoid them because they worry about cholesterol. Health magazine reported that one study found overweight women who had eggs for breakfast lost twice as much weight as women who had bagels, plus the egg eaters’ cholesterol counts were no higher or lower than those of the bagels eaters.

Eggs aren’t glamorous, but they do have several redeeming qualities. They are portable; easy to prepare; suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner; quick to assemble into meals; mild in taste and compatible with other flavors; can be cooked into a variety of textures; offer a satisfying portion for the calorie count; and can be incorporated into ethnic recipes.

Most people are familiar with eggs in breakfast burritos, frittatas, omelets and mayo-laden chopped egg sandwiches. If you’re willing to take a crack at breaking out of your egg rut, here are links to a few tempting recipes:

Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast
http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/04/spinach-and-smashed-egg-toast/

Huevos Rancheros
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/huevos-rancheros-recipe/index.html

Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Pizza
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/bacon_egg_asparagus_pizza.html

Italian Egg-Drop Soup
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/italian_egg_drop_soup.html

Veggie Egg-Fried Rice
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2770/veggie-eggfried-rice

What’s your egg IQ?

1.  Most eggs are laid between which hours in the day?

4 a.m. – 8 a.m.
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

2.  You can cook an egg inside its shell in the microwave.

TRUE
FALSE

3.  A large egg contains about _____ calories.

70
100
150

4.  The Incredible Edible Egg™ slogan has been around for more than _____ years.

30
20
10

5.  The average hen lays _____ eggs a year.

75 to 100
250 to 270
345 to 365

6.  Last April, U.S. hens laid more than _____ billion eggs for human consumption.

1.8
4.7
6.5

Click here for answers.

Sources:
American Egg Board
Health.com
IncredibleEgg.org

The first Wednesday in April is the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day. To encourage your participation during this year’s event, here are 10 good reasons you should lace up your sneakers and take a stroll.Walking

  1. Walking is the most popular form of physical activity in the U.S. It also has the lowest dropout rate.
  2. Experts recommend logging 10,000 steps per day. That’s about 5 miles.
  3. Walking 30 minutes each day benefits not only your body but also your mind. Walking burns calories, strengthens bones, aids intestinal regularity and enhances mental well being.
  4. Every minute you walk can add 1.5 to 2 minutes to your life.
  5. Brisk walking burns the same number of calories per mile as running.
  6. Because walking is a weight-bearing activity, heavier individuals burn more calories than skinny folks. A brisk, one-hour walk burns approximately 400 calories for an average built person.
  7. Walking isn’t as likely to result in injuries as other types of physical exercise.
  8. Women who exercise, including brisk walking, report enhanced sexual desire and increased sexual satisfaction.
  9. People who choose walking as their physical activity of choice save money on gym fees and expensive equipment/gear.
  10. Walking with friends, children or a spouse has been shown to improve relationships.

Sources:
AmericaWalks.org
AmericanHeartAssociation.org
Blue Cross/Blue Shield National Walk @ Lunch Day
EverybodyWalk.org
MayoClinic.com
NIH.gov
Rodale.com

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Spring has sprung! The vFun Facternal equinox—which occurred at 7:02 a.m. this morning, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac—marks the first day of a new season.

I like occasions that offer a fresh start: a career change, the new school year, even Sundays because they are the beginning of a new week. There is something about starting anew that makes it easier to forgive myself for not accomplishing what I set out to do and let go of past failures. A fresh start infuses me with energy and motivation to refocus and recommit. The arrival of springtime brings all kinds of new opportunities and exhilarating possibilities. Can you feel my enthusiasm? Well, grab some and jump into the new season with an action plan to feel better and live stronger.SMART

Before the first day of spring draws to a close, spend a few minutes thinking about three changes you’d like to make in your life. Start broad: Do you want to eat healthier? Start exercising? Get more sleep? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Now, determine one S.M.A.R.T. action you can take towards achieving this goal.

If you’re stuck, here are a few healthy living habits you might want to consider adopting:  WordItOut-Word-cloud-178227

 My springtime goals include 1) walking one hour/three days a week, 2) cooking dinner with my children at least twice a week and 3) limiting carbs to one meal per day.

Chime in with your fresh start ideas and let’s make the most of a new season.

 

YogurtPull out those cereal bowls and spoons; it’s National Breakfast Week (March 4-8, 2013). Since its launch in 1989, this campaign has been held annually to raise awareness about school breakfast programs, as well as to educate the public about the importance of starting each day with a healthy meal.

The most important meal of the day

Eating breakfast is important for children and adults alike. By early morning, most people have gone without food between 8 and twelve hours. Without refueling the body, people can experience decreased energy, poor concentration and focus, irritability, unsteady blood sugar levels and a sluggish metabolism. Eating breakfast has also been linked to successful weight loss and healthy living. Small frequent meals and snacks throughout the day keep the body performing efficiently and reduce overeating due to extreme hunger.

Squeezing in breakfast is easier than it sounds. Many options are quick and convenient so kids can eat them in the car or adults can bring them to work. The key is to avoid high-fat, sugary, processed foods such as pastries, sweetened cereal or fast food sausage/ cheese sandwiches.

A healthy breakfast should include a combination of

  • lean protein (low-fat milk, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter)
  • whole grains (oatmeal, whole-grain bread/cereal/pancakes)
  • fruit/veggies

Five fast morning fixes

  • Spread peanut butter on a small whole-wheat tortilla, lay banana in center and roll up tortilla
  • Mix whole-grain cereal, raisins and nuts and portion into small plastic containers or baggies;Tip serve with yogurt or glass of milk
  • Scramble one egg, toast two whole-grain freezer waffles and assemble sandwich (slice of cheese optional)
  • Mix 1/3 cup each rolled oats, milk and plain yogurt; refrigerator overnight (flavor with fruit, jam, cinnamon, nuts, etc. and enjoy cold or warmed in microwave)
  • Dice apple (or fruit of choice) and mix with 1 cup cottage cheese, sprinkle with cinnamon and wheat germ

Not a morning eater?

Some people report not being hungry in the morning so they skip breakfast. Nutritionists encourage everyone to start the day with a healthy meal so if this is you, consider one of these strategies:

  • Keep the meal small and light (a piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt, a hard-boiled egg)
  • Opt for non-breakfast foods to whet your appetite (a slice of cheese and a few whole-grain crackers; lean turkey on a slice of whole wheat bread)
  • Eat a few hours after rising (between 9-10 a.m.)
  • Sip on a fruit smoothie (blend 1 cup low-fat flavored yogurt, ½ cup any fruit, and a few ice cubes)

Sources:
LetsMove.gov
National Institutes of Health

Image courtesy of Piyato / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Movies-Oscar-iconI love movie stars. There is still a childlike part of me captivated by their beauty, thrilling lifestyles and torrid romances. So, when Oscar time rolls around each year and Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars come out to shine, I’m front and center—ready to buy into that fairy tale Tinsel Town is selling.

This year’s award ceremony did not disappoint. The leading men were dashing, and the leading women were glamorous. But somewhere in between Hugh Jackman and Meryl Streep, I realized there was a lot of red carpet inspiration that could be applied to one’s pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

Let me tell you what the 2013 Oscars taught me about losing weight and eating right.

No matter how much money you have, fat still looks fat. Singer Adele may have earned a B+ fashion grade on the Red Carpet Report Card, but I’ll bet a case of Twinkies her thrill at winning the gold for the theme from James Bond’s Skyfall was tarnished when she saw the publicity photos of herself. I’m not saying she isn’t beautiful, and I’m not saying everyone has to be a perfect size two. But as a woman who topped out at 242 pounds, I know how inhibiting that extra weight is. It dictates what you wear, how you pose, heck, even who you stand next to!

Small oscar iconDropping extra weight releases inhibitions, gives you confidence and allows you to celebrate life without worrying about lumps and bulges.

Everyone stumbles. Jennifer Lawrence was the talk of the town following the Oscar festivities; not because she won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook but because she tripped walking up the stairs on her way to claim the award. Like gossip rags, our internal media system likes to rehash such awkward moments, which deflects the focus from our accomplishments and achievements.

Small oscar iconRealize that even when at your best, it is easy to stumble. It might be skipping a workout or indulging in sweets. You’re not going to be flawless all the time. When you fall, pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

It takes a cast and production crew of hundreds. Currently the Academy Awards names winners in 24 categories, including best actor, best director, best costume design, best cinematography, best editing, best makeup and best original score. While several individuals have won awards across categories, it is impossible to singlehandedly produce a box office smash.

Small oscar iconCreate the best version of yourself by working with industry experts. Your production team should include health care practitioners, nutritionists, coaches, trainers and instructors.

Anyone can make a comeback. Of the eight films nominated for Best Picture, I would have predicted Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty or the grand production Les Misérables to be named winner. While Argo got great reviews, many people pooh-poohed chances for director Ben Affleck because of his less-than-stellar track record. But win he did, despite flops like Daredevil and Gigli.

Small oscar iconIt can take a while to hit your stride. You may need to try the Cabbage Soup diet, the Easter Marshmallow Peeps diet and the Grapefruit diet before you find what program works for you. You may need to start with a seven-hour mile before you work up to a seven-minute mile. But even when the critics are unkind, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.

Don’t be afraid to do something different. If you haven’t seen a Quentin Tarantino movie, you’ll have a hard time understanding this one. But let me throw a few QT titles at you and see if you get my drift: Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2), Inglourious Basterds, Natural Born Killers. If you’re still clueless, let’s just say QT has a reputation for producing films best described in geographical terms such as “over the top” and “out there.” However, his 2012 screenplay Django Unchained (which is as “over” and “out” as any of his movies) brought home a set of gold-plated bookends when it won Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.

Small oscar iconSometimes success is found when you try something different. While there are many popular weight loss programs, don’t be afraid to develop your approach to fitness and nutrition. Sometimes you have to find what works for you instead of doing what works for everyone else.

Even if you lose, you’re in good company. You hear the nominees repeat the same phrase every year: “It doesn’t matter if I win; it’s simply an honor to be nominated.” Whether they are truly being gracious or just spouting the politically correct phrase, there is truth to what they say. Being recognized for your efforts and hard work is a reward in and of itself.

Small oscar iconWhether it’s running a marathon or a weight-loss challenge among office mates, you don’t need to take first place to be a winner. Celebrate and be proud of your accomplishments. More importantly, encourage, acknowledge and applaud the achievements of those around you. This will create a network and support system of individuals who share your dedication and commitment to the pursuit of healthy living.

Photos licensed for free personal use by Itzik Gur (http://itzikgur.deviantart.com/) and IconShock (http://www.iconshock.com/professional-icons.php).

If I asked you to list five health conditions associated with obesity, you could probably give me 10 or 15. The media has done a pretty good job educating Americans about the risks of carrying too many extra pounds, but since February is Heart Health Month, let’s take a closer look at the connection between being oID-10069051verweight and cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, contributing to one in four fatalities. Some of the conditions related to heart disease include heart attacks, strokes, angina, arrhythmia and coronary artery disease. The annual combined costs of medical treatment, medication and lost productivity is $312.6 billion. The cost in terms of loss of quality of life and death cannot be calculated in dollars and cents.

When a person carries too much weight, the cardiovascular system is compromised due to high cholesterol levels, poor blood circulation, unstable fluid levels, raised blood pressure, sleep apnea and other complications. All of these factors increase the odds of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

The bad news is that most of the causes of heart disease are related to personal choices such as smoking, diet, physical activity and stress. However, that is also the good news because it means you can reduce your risk by swapping unhealthy habits for a heart-healthy lifestyle. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Eat a balanced diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables
  • Avoid processed, fried and sugary foods
  • Walk for 15-30 minutes every day
  • Reduce/manage stress
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose excess weight
  • Manage cardiovascular risks such as high blood pressure or diabetes with help from a physician

Find more tips at 28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Are you at risk? Complete the American Heart Association’s free Heart Attack Risk Calculator to evaluate your heart health.

Sources:

American Heart Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not to ever have ice cream is unthinkable,

but not to have half-gallon containers in the freezer is doable.

Try this tip from fellow ice cream junkie and romance writer Shirley Wilder: I decided I could handle my addiction better if I just didn’t buy big containers of ice cream.  For the last few months I have eaten ice cream only when it’s offered at an event or function. I only have a small serving or occasionally  treat myself to a cone at Rite Aid Drugs.  It works out so much better, and I really don’t crave it like I used to.  

Do you have a strategy or tip to manage your healthy lifestyle? Share it with us!

“Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment.” ~Vince Lombardi

“To succeed you must first improve, to improve you must first practice, to practice you must first learn, to learn you must first fail.” ~Wesley Woo

“There is no failure. Only feedback.” ~Unknown

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” ~George Washington

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” ~Dr. Robert Schuller

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” ~Sven Goran Eriksson

“You have failed only when you quit trying. Until then, you’re still in the act of progression. So, never quit trying and you’ll never be a failure.” ~Tommy Kelley

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” ~Henry Ford

“You must act as if it is impossible to fail.” ~Ashanti Proverb

“Failure is not fatal; failing to change will be.” ~John Wooden

“Men succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

I heard a radio interview with Roy Baumeister, author of  Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, on NPR over the holiday weekend. Baumeister made some interesting comments about how to “use” willpower in order to stick to all those New Year’s resolutions or to achieve other goals.  So let’s kick off 2012 with a few of his suggestions on how to harness your self-control for success.

* You only have a limited amount of willpower. This means you have to be careful how you ration it. Trying to change five new behaviors simultaneously equates to doling out bits and pieces of willpower, as well as more rapidly depleting your “pool of power.”

SECRET FOR SUCCESS: Avoid multiple failures by conserving your willpower and focusing on one change/goal at a time.

* Willpower can be developed  like a muscle. Baumeister’s research with co-author John Tierney revealed that people can strengthen willpower through simple self-control activities such as sitting up straight, tracking daily food intake, saying “yes” instead of “yeah” or an other task that requires a mental effort.

SECRET FOR SUCCESS: Find small ways to exercise self-control to improve your willpower over all.

* Willpower can be overused and fatigued. Researchers refer to the process of exhausting one’s mental energy as “ego depletion.” When a person is experiencing ego depletion, it is more difficult to make decisions, focus attention, cope with frustration, resist cravings and apply effective self-control. Ego depletion can be avoided by limiting willpower drains and, surprisingly, Baumeister found that a (modest!) sugary pick-me-up can re-energize a depleted ego.

SECRET FOR SUCCESS: Not everything has to be a test. To avoid unnecessary willpower drains, put snack foods out of sight, plan your daily meals and exercise ahead of time, stay away from vending machines, avoid extreme dieting, etc. Also, confront your biggest challenges when you are fresh and energized, such as hitting the gym first thing in the morning.

For many people, willpower seems to be an elusive character trait, possessed by a few lucky souls. Baumeister’s research and suggestions demonstrate that by understanding the dynamics of self-control, we can all become more successful in whatever goals we undertake.

 

 

 

 

 

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