caregivers.women

5 Tips for Caregivers to Carve Out Time to Exercise from New York Personal Trainer

Find Time to Take Care of Yourself

caregivers.women

 

So often, I focus my blogs on expecting and new moms and parents , or those who struggle to find balance between exercise and  work, study or any number of things. Today, though, I want to focus on caregivers.

According to the National Institute on Aging at the NIH, approximately 15 million Americans provide care (unpaid) for an older adult, whether it be a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or close friend or family member. Though being a caregiver can be rewarding, those who are involved in care coordination and medical management are at risk for physical and emotional health problems.

As I’ve mentioned, 2019 is a time for health, for exercise, for nutrition. So how can that happen when there’s such a heavy load on us, when time and money are so tight.

  1. Understand its importance. Exercise and nutrition have a direct link to mental health. Caregiving is highly stressful, and your body needs all the reinforcements it can get. Be aware that this isn’t capricious. It’s fundamental.
  2. Pump it up. Walk, clean, vacuum in time to your favorite music. Keep moving. Break a sweat. Make sure you have at least 30 minutes of upbeat music to keep you moving!
  3. Take short breaks. It’s hard to find a space for a 40-minute chunk of time. Breaking exercise down into three or four short breaks, ten minutes each, will give you the exercise your body needs, and it won’t take away from the needs of the person you’re caring for. Ten-minute workouts cover everything from cardio to toning, yoga to specific muscle groups. Every little bit counts. Some popular apps you can download on your phone include STREAKS WORKOUT, Johnson & Johnson 7-minute workout (down to 7!), and SWORKIT https://sworkit.com/. 
  4. Book it. Just as you book doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, book exercise in your schedule. And stick to it. Remember, this is for you. So, when your phone alarm beeps – 10 minutes for exercise – start walking, running, jogging in place, do your app … whatever you need to stick to your schedule. Ask for help. Perhaps during your exercise schedule, someone can relieve you for the 30 minutes – 1 hour you need.caregivers.couple
  5. Exercise with the person you’re caring for. Can you be active together? Weather permitting, can you take a walk outside? Can the person you’re caring for hold you accountable? Perhaps they’d love to be your coach! Can you walk to the grocery store together? Do you garden? There are many ways to be active while being a caregiver, and these activities might enhance your days together. Certainly, consult with your medical provider before sky diving together.

Being a caregiver is demanding. It can take a mental and physical toll on anyone. By finding spaces, carving out time, to exercise, you’re not only going to better be able to take care of yourself but also the person you are caring for.

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Health Resolutions Anyone Can Stick to from NYC Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer

Begin the Year with a 100%, Fail Proof Resolution Plan

2019.resolutions

Now, this might sound a little bit gimmicky, but I assure you, this is a resolution anyone can stick to. Are you ready for it?

Don’t make resolutions.

Ahhh … that was too easy. And it might seem like I’m cheating, but I’m not. Resolutions tend to be lofty, dreamy, rarely grounded. Soon, this idea of “getting in shape” or “saving money”, loses form. It becomes overwhelming and discouraging. 

So, instead of making resolutions, I recommend my clients make decisions.

Where a resolution is a fantasy, a decision is making up your mind to act. With decisions there’s more clarity. The ideas are actionable. And, most importantly, the ideas and actions are grounded in clearly-defined goals and how to reach those goals. That last part is incredibly important. 

Here, I’m listing my wishes for a healthier you in 2019 and a few critical steps on how to act on these decisions.

bebold.brave.you

  1. Decide to love your body.  With self-hate being a billion-dollar industry, it’s no wonder we spend more money finding ways to make ourselves better than recognizing the beauty each of us already possess. So, it’s time to look in the mirror and fall in love, with you, again! 
    1. Put away the magazines, turn off the TV, and truly celebrate body diversity.
    2. Shift your conversations from weight loss to health. 
    3. Learn about the Health At Every Size (HAES) community. 
    4. Recognize the beautiful gifts your body possesses.  Write them down!

      healthy.snack

  2. Decide to love food. Food, in America, has become the enemy – a source of guilt and punishment, or, if we’ve done our exercises, reward. We’ve become masters of the “cheat day mentality”, losing the joy of food.
    1. Make meals matter, being mindful about each bite you put in your mouth, grateful for the nourishment, flavors, colors, and textures. 
    2. Being mindful goes hand in hand with listening to your body. If you’re distracted by TV, work, you miss critical body signals. When you’re sated, stop eating. Get to know your biological signals again.
    3. We’re not Food Santas. We don’t need a naughty and nice food list. Food is family and tradition (even those deep-fried carnival treats!). It’s all about balance and enjoying these flavors, no guilt attached.

      riding bikes

  3. Decide to love to exercise. Like with food, unfortunately, exercise is used as either a punishment (after that hunk of chocolate cake) or a means to a goal (fit into that dress). Both are problematic because the way we view exercise (as a punishment or goal) doesn’t help instill a movement mindset. And there are so many extremes – Mudders, menthol-and-sweat-smelling gyms, marathons etc., it feels almost as if we’re not exercising for something, what’s the point? The point is … basically … movement. So how do we learn to love to exercise?
    1. Do what you love! Dancing, walking, swimming, jumping rope, riding a bike, playing in the park with your kids … What do you love? That’s the exercise you need to do.
  1. Make motorized transportation plan B, C, or D. Start one step at a time, walking to the grocery store, to work, to the park, to the library. If it’s within a mile, walk it.   
  2. Make it a family affair! Create spaces for the family to exercise together, and, in turn, develop lifetime exercise habits in kids. Healthy kids = healthy adults.
  1. Decide to be kind. Be kind to yourself and others. Because the world needs more kind.

Decide to act. Decide to move. Decide to love your body, love food for how it nourishes us. And choose kindness … these are all ways to start 2019 off right!

Grocery List

8 Tips to Healthy Eating on a Budget from NYC Registered Dietitian

Resolve to Eat Well and NOT Break the Bank

Grocery List

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, losing weight and saving money are the top two resolutions of the majority of people in the United States. In 2017, the US weight loss market was worth near 66 billion dollars. This market includes everything from commercial weight loss programs, Weight Watchers (that hit a big boom after Oprah’s endorsement), medical weight loss clinics and franchises, meal replacements (for those high-cost powders!), and online dieting.

There’s a lot of money pumped into Americans losing weight. Yet, Americans continue to gain. The NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) reports that no state has an obesity rate lower than 21%. 

Eating healthy and staying within a budget seems like the impossible dilemma. Especially considering organic foods are consistently higher priced than their non-organic equivalent. Consumer Reports reports that on average, organic foods are 47% more costly than their counterparts. Though on an individual basis, it might not seem like much, over the course of a year, it can add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. 

Add the food label deciphering dilemma, and it all becomes overwhelming!

In 2019, though, we can all resolve to eat healthy and stick to a budget. Here are 8 easy-to-follow tips that registered dietitians use and teach clients in order to keep health, and savings, top of mind.

  1. Start cooking! Most money and calories wasted come from eating out or ordering in. Consider this: restaurants charge an average of 300% markup on food they serve. According to Moneyunder30, the average restaurant meal costs $13.00 compared to $4.00 for one prepared at home. Yikes. Now, let’s talk calories: never-ending bread baskets, portion distortion, and free refills. A simple meal at home, when eaten at a restaurant, can turn into thousands of calories. 

This doesn’t mean no more eating out! Everybody loves to indulge once in a while. Moreover, many of my clients are executives whose meals mostly come from restaurants. It’s all about becoming restaurant savvy, recognizing nutritional needs, and how to budget!

    1. Order an entrée or half-sized portions.
    2. Order the cup of soup, instead of the bowl.
    3. Share a meal.
    4. Ask the waitress to take away the bread basket.
    5. Drink water (steer clear of sweet sodas and teas).
    6. Pack up leftovers to eat for a later meal.
  1. Plan your meals ahead of time. No more last-minute, what’s for dinner decisions. Make a plan for what you are going to eat during the week and shop accordingly. Take stock of pantry, freezer, and refrigerator items over the weekend. Buy food items on sale at the grocery store that fit into your meal plan strategy. 
  2. Have a running grocery list. No more last-minute runs to the grocery store for that one item, only to come home with three bags of cravings! Stick to the list. Only buy items that fit into your budget or meal plan strategy.
  3. Don’t bulk up. Super-sized chips and crackers, though tempting, are costly (on the wallet and health). Same goes for vegetables and fruits (unless you have room to freeze them). 
  4. Simplify! What are your family’s favorite meals? What’s your favorite meal? Prepare it often, changing up the vegetable or side options.
    Beans
  5. Incorporate beans, lentils, and chickpeas into your diet. Beans are a low-cost protein supplement and can be used in salads, chilis, and even as a meat supplement in your favorite soups and sauces. Go meatless one day each week to shrink your carbon footprint and improve health and savings. 
  6. Reduce food waste. Make sustainable eating practices a priority, not only because of your budget but also for your health and the environment. Visit your farmer’s market and eat in-season fruits, vegetables and fish. Keep leftovers organized and easy-to-see. Keep food in your stomach, not the garbage.

    Farmers Market

  7. Make mealtime matter. Family meals and mindful eating practices are great ways to put the focus on nourishment and healthy eating.

Sticking to a budget and staying healthy aren’t mutually exclusive. In 2019, resolve to eat well on a budget. It’s absolutely possible!

happy new year

6 Tips to Better Posture from NYC Registered Personal Trainer

Stand Up Tall to the New Year in a Month of Resolutions You Can Keep

happy new year

Yep. It’s that time of year again. The New Year begets new beginnings, new plans, new ideas … a bit of a reboot. It makes sense to reflect on the past and plan for the future in the New Year. And resolutions are inevitably part of that. 

According to Statista, the number two resolution for people across the United States is to lose weight or get in shape, right behind saving money. (In fact, getting healthy goes hand-in-hand with savings!). And according to a UK poll, 7 of 10 most common resolutions are health and nutrition related.

Many of us have experienced the defeat of broken resolutions.  So, this January, we’re going to celebrate a month of resolutions everyone can keep.

Start the New Year off standing (and sitting) tall! Good posture is essential for body and brain health. Good posture is powerful, so powerful that it can even land you that dream job.

Great posture is a first step to great health and success. And what better way to reboot and recharge?

The first step is to recognize what good, and bad, posture is. Good posture isn’t military-straight backs. Our backbones have a natural curve. That said, oftentimes we take that curve and become masters of the slouch.

With poor posture, our heads jut forward and lean down (keeping our heads out of alignment with the rest of our bodies); our sternum and chest pull inward compressing the diaphragm, making breathing more difficult; finally, our shoulders and upper back are rounded, which causes stress on our neck, back and shoulders. This can cause tension headaches and strain. (I bet you’ve just shrugged your shoulders back.) Alignment in the body affects everything from joint-health to brain power. 

It’s never too late to improve posture. Initially, it might be tough, but over time you’ll get in the habit of standing tall. Here are 6 tips to better posture for better health in 2019.

sitting well

  1. Sit well. The majority of my clients have jobs where a lot of sitting takes place. Sitting well is key to great posture. Feet should be flat on the ground. If not, get a little stool for your feet. There should be a small gap between your knees and the chair. Have something to support your lower back. 
  2. Stand up. Many have office jobs where it’s common to slouch, slump, and hunch over a computer all day long. Set a timer to stand up every 40 minutes. Walk around. Stretch out your back muscles. Sit tall and stand up. Often.
  3. Walk well. When walking, keep your tummy tight, shoulders back. Walk with your feet slightly outward – no top-model runway stuff here. Body alignment is key to joint, bone, and muscle health.

    happy new year

  4. Strengthen your core. If you have time, try enrolling in a Yoga or Pilates class. If you don’t have time or a way to get to a class, there are many great exercises you can do while watching TV:
  • Sit with your hands to your sides. Stand up. Sit back down. Do this during advertisements.
  • Plank it. During advertisements, put your body in plank position, tummy tight. The stronger you get, the longer you’ll be able to hold the plank position.
  • Try commercial crunching or sit-ups. 
  1. Stretch. Roll your shoulders back. Arch over a physioball to stretch your abs, the front of your thighs, and chest muscles. So much of our bodies get “smooshed” when sitting so often.
  2. Sleep well! No stomach sleeping, please! Sleep on your back, with a pillow under your knees, or on your side, with a pillow between your knees. And use a pillow. A great pillow can make a big difference!

Standing tall is a great way to begin a magical year of success and possibility. Happy New Year!

holiday meals

9 Tips to a Healthy Holiday Season from NYC Registered Dietitian

Healthy Ways to Navigate the Holidays

holiday meals

It’s here. No matter what you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, the holidays come. They bring loads of activities, noise (sounding Grinchy here, I know), and expectation. Lines at the grocery store are longer. Traffic is more intense. And I haven’t even touched on meeting up with family, in-laws and more. (And it’s been an election year. UGH!)

There are school parties and office parties. There are cookies and cakes on every corner. Everything smells like cinnamon. And it seems like everywhere we go, someone is offering a hot, frothy, sugary beverage. Since we’ve been wired to feel guilt, all these decadent flavors can often bring stress and anxiety, instead of joy.

Suffice to say, the holiday season can be crazy chaotic and stressful. Add the high-sugar, high-calorie deluge, and our bodies, and minds, take a hit. 

Here are 9 tips to a healthy holiday season (without falling into the cliché of Hallmark movies!)

  1. Be Holiday Smart: The holidays happen. Every single year. So, know what makes you anxious. What causes you stress? Long lines? Consider online shopping. Cooking a huge meal? Consider a potluck. You don’t have money? Make homemade gifts. Be honest. “I don’t have money for an elegant party dress this year.” Take the mystery out of it. Invitations every other evening? Say, “no” (see below). These small changes can make a big difference.
  2. Say no. You don’t have to attend every party, every activity. If the dread of going to an event outweighs the actual joy of going, then opt out. Simplify your schedule. Prioritize. Stay at home, order a pizza, and watch a movie with the family. Finding balance is key. (And it’s okay to be honest about it, too. “I’m overwhelmed and need a night at home watching bad TV.” Who won’t understand that feeling?)
  3. Stick to the middle. The periphery of any holiday party is a virtual landmine of high-sugar, high-fat foods. Indulge in the holiday flavors, but mindfully. Pay attention to what you’re eating. If you’re within arm’s length of the food table, it’s more likely you’ll snack and not listen to your body. Heavy holiday foods can end up making us feel lethargic and unwell.
  4. Remember the magic of tradition. Eating our favorite family recipes shouldn’t weigh us down with guilt. You’re not “cheating” when you eat these foods. You’re celebrating tradition and history. Prepare these foods with your grandma, aunt, mom, or children. Talk about what these flavors mean to you. Enjoy them!
  5. Stay hydrated! Often, we mistake hunger for thirst. Drink sparkling water with berries or lime. Drink lots of water. But be beverage aware as holiday drinks can pack on lots of unwanted sugars and calories. Make sure your host doesn’t cap off your drink (the never-ending glass of wine). Listen to your body.

    volunteer

  6. Volunteer. Giving and volunteering are powerful ways to engage with the community’s needs. Help your children organize a food drive for a local shelter. Instead of playing “Secret Santa” at work, have a book drive for a local school. There are so many powerful ways to bring meaning back to the holidays. 
  7. Pile them on …  the veggies and fruits. This time of year, our immune system takes a hit, not to mention our digestive system. Keep those fruits and vegetables coming (but steer clear of too many creamy sauces). A great holiday snack is cut-up vegetables and yogurt dip. Eat the vegetables and fruits before piling your plate with everything else. This will help keep you balanced.

    pumpkin.roasted

  8. Pay attention. Pay attention to signs you might be over-stressed: change in sleeping and eating habits, exhaustion and fatigue, digestive issues, headaches, dizziness and more. So stop, listen to your body, and make some changes.
  9. Say, “Thank you.  Gratitude is a fundamental part of happiness. Gratitude is appreciation for the things we have (health, family, a job, a meal) and acknowledging them. Taking the time to reflect, not live on automatic, on the gifts of this life will help you 

I am grateful for you as a reader. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I love – information about nutrition and exercise.

5 Tips to Improve Your Body Self Esteem from NYC Registered Dietitian

Celebrate World Kindness Day and a Month of Gratitude, Starting with You

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Yesterday, November 13, was World Kindness Day. This month memes abound about gratitude. Kindness and gratitude are two things we can never over-indulge in.

That said, I know so many people who forget to be kind to themselves, to be grateful for the bodies they have. In a world that pushes unrealistic body image ideals in every media, every form, it’s really hard to build a better body self-esteem. Advertisements, movies, TV shows, billboards, pharmaceuticals … all form part of a billion-dollar industry that promotes body anxiety and hate. We are taught to feel shame. And both men and women buy into it.

And with the holidays coming up, there’s no end to articles and headlines about how to keep holiday weight off, avoid extra calories, and guilt, guilt, guilt. That last one is particularly effective. 

So, here’s what I propose this holiday season for you. Indulge! Indulge in family, tradition, flavors, and friends. Celebrate your body and the beautiful things it can do: hold a hand, go for a walk, dance, hug someone you love. 

Here are 5 tips to start to celebrate you, your body, your beautiful self.

  1. Write it down. This change from “feeling frumpy” to “feeling like a Goddess (or God)” usually won’t happen overnight. So, take the time to write down five things you are thankful for about your body: your smile, how fast your hands can type … anything. Gratitude breeds gratitude. Each week, add to the list. It’s amazing how many beautiful things you’ll find.
  2. Re-evaluate your relationship with food: Take a mental note of how you talk about food, how you approach meals, your grocery store choices. You might be surprised about how much negativity, and guilt, you feel about food. Dr. Linda Bacon writes in Health at Every Size, “When asked what came to mind upon hearing the words ‘chocolate cake’, Americans were most likely to connect it with ‘guilt’ while the French connected it with ‘celebration.’” Americans are hard-wired to see food as the enemy, which, in turn, dominoes into low body self-esteem. How can we change how we view food?
    1. Make mealtime sacred, a time to nourish yourself, a time to share with family, friends, or sit and reflect on what’s on your plate and how it’s going to make you healthier.
    2. Honor family tradition and history by making baklava, latkes, lefse, roasted lamb, and other traditional foods. Teach your children, nieces, or others that you love how to make your favorite family recipes. No counting calories!
    3. Make eating decisions made based on nourishment and health, NOT guilt and punishment.


  3. Be mindful of what you are teaching your children. The relationships you have with food and your body are passed onto your children. Break bad mental, and verbal, habits. Don’t say disparaging remarks about your body … ever. Move the conversation from fat-thin, to healthy-unhealthy. Censor yourself and change the way you speak about yourself. This will take practice. But soon, it will become habit.
  4. Selfie beware! Okay. Social media, fashion magazine, TV, and Hollywood-beware. How often do you see someone with bedhead and fuzzy teeth taking a selfie? Right. Social media is a cesspool of lies. (Sounds pretty harsh but true). Photoshopped models on magazine covers don’t do much to help us get a real sense of what real bodies look like. So … step back from social media, turn off the TV, ditch the magazine subscriptions and start interacting with real live people with real bodies who have bed head, morning breath, and probably love handles and are actually doing pretty great!
  5. Get moving! The best way to love your body is to use it. Go for a walk. Play tag with your kids. Start a lunchtime walking group at the office. Join a weekend hiking group, sign up for the public pool, or just lose yourself in a museum all day. Exercise is the best way to start to love your body. It’s never too late to start moving.

When discussing kindness and gratitude, begin with yourself and the beautiful things you have to offer this world. You are uniquely and wonderfully you. Give thanks for that because I don’t doubt so many others do!

Best Food and Exercise Ideas to Help Manage Stress from NYC Registered Dietitian

Post-election and Pre-holiday Stress Management Ideas

Election years have become times of increasing stress … for everyone. Stress, it appears, is uniquely bi-partisan. The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted the 2016 Stress in America Survey to determine how elections play a role in people’s level of stress. And, no surprise, elections play a big role in people’s levels of stress. 

Regardless of political views and how you voted yesterday, it’s likely you, or someone you care about, is experiencing a significant amount of stress today. Add to the fact the holidays are coming, which are often a time of high-level stress – financially and emotionally – I wanted to start November off with a blog on how to manage, and hopefully reduce, stress.

Moreover, for some reason, stress and being busy and not having time have become markers of status, bragging points. They aren’t. Over an extended period of time, chronic stress can lead to chronic illness, plaque buildup in arteries which leads to heart disease, lowered immunity which can lead to cancer and many other illnesses. 

 

Stress management is critical for health. Stress is anything but status. Here are 7 nutrition and exercise tips to manage stress.

  1. Recognize the symptoms. Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies. Many of us recognize stress in our behavior, but don’t realize our bodies are responding, physically, as well. Everything from headaches to stomach pains, muscle pain to sleep problems, fatigue to a drop in sex drive, are all physical symptoms of stress. 
  2. Beware of Social Media! In the 2016 stress survey, election-related stress is more prevalent among social media users. Walk away from Facebook and other social media. Turn off the news. Limit your information to reading articles from two solid sources.salmon
  3. Feed your brain to reduce stress.
    1. Leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula) are chock full of folate. Folate helps the body produce serotonin and dopamine, our stress-reducers. So, too, are foods with Tryptophan (turkey, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and eggs).
    2. Omega 3 is essential for brain function. Salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseed oil are jam-packed with omega 3-fatty acids to keep your brain healthy.
    3. Hello complex carbohydrates! Please, please burn any diet book that tells you to steer clear of complex carbs. Our brains need glucose to function. For only taking 2% of our body mass, our brains use up 50% of the glucose. The key phrase is complex carbs … so, yeah, put down the Pop Tart. Fill up on quinoa and whole-grain breads, whole-grain rice and pasta and fruits and vegetables.
  4. Steer clear of the glossy packaging. Oh, it is so so tempting. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips, cookies, or crackers. It’s hard to resist those monster-sized cinnamon rolls and store-bought muffins. Diets high in refined sugars damage the brain – as they stimulate inflammation and oxidative stress as well as lessen the body’s regulation of insulin. There’s a high correlation between diets with too many refined sugars and depression. Eating clean is the healthiest alternative. 
  5. Go Pro! Biotics. (Okay. That was pretty bad). Really, though, gut health is mental health. 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in our gut. Prebiotics and probiotics help keep the GI tract (gut) healthy which, in turn, lowers stress and anxiety.dark.chocolate
  6. Chocolate! Dark chocolate (not milk or white) has anandamide. Anandamide is a pain blocker. Indulge on a few squares after dinner. 
  7. Run away from your problems. Walk it off. Join a yoga class (which is amazing for meditation, mindfulness, and taking things down a notch). Go play in the park with your kids. Create a play list and move to it until it ends. Exercise increases blood circulation to your brain, helping improve your mood. Depression and anxiety are energy vacuums, and it’s easy to fall into a vicious cycle of feeling down, not wanting to exercise, then feeling worse.walk.fall

So, enjoy the evening with a stress-reducing meal. Have roasted turkey sandwiches with arugula salad drizzled with olive oil and caramelized walnuts. For dessert, melt dark chocolate and dip strawberries in it. And, really, if you’re just needing a pizza and beer, that’s okay, too. It’s about balance and knowing what to give your body on a regular basis.

So, here’s to a stress-reduced November!

personal.trainer

7 Tips to Progress Your Fitness Program from NYC Registered Personal Trainer

Are These Habits Getting in the Way of Progress?

personal.trainer

“I go to the gym all the time, and nothing happens.” This complaint isn’t uncommon for personal trainers to hear from clients.

Going to the gym a few times each week to do the elliptical or ride a bike is a great way to keep active. The gym can be a great way to disconnect. I often see people going with friends to talk and catch up. Many read a book or their phones when working out. There’s really nothing wrong with this. It’s healthy from both a physical, and mental, standpoint. 

However, real change in cardio vascular health or body composition can only come from progressing your fitness program. 

Here are 7 tips to progress your fitness program, whether it be weight training or aerobics, to see real change in your cardio vascular health and/or body composition.

  1. Be mindful of your exercise. I’ve discussed mindful eating on the blog a lot. The same applies to exercise. We’ve got “multitasking” ingrained in our brains. It makes us feel like not a second has been wasted. Think quality, not quantity. This is, perhaps, why I love yoga. Yoga, however “still” it may seem, is a grueling exercise in mindfulness. For yoga to be effective, you must be aware of your body position, muscles. Today, when you head for the gym, put Dostoyevsky away and pay attention to your body.

    yoga

  2. Make a plan. Progression, in any field, any area, depends on thoughtful planning. For those trying to cut sugar out of their diets, they take logical steps to reduce it. The same goes for exercise. What is the logical progression? Where do you want to take your body next?
  3. Get uncomfortable. This isn’t the same as “no pain, no gain”. “No pain, no gain,” has been an exercise mantra for years now. And it’s completely false. It can be not only unsafe for your body but completely demoralizing. That said, if you’re stuck in your comfort zone of exercise and aren’t pushing yourself, your body won’t change either. It’s hard to bite those exercise habits that feel so good.

    yoga

  4. Progress your workout. As said above, we’re creatures of habit. And change, for anybody, can be discouraging. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The change is under your control. You can change the number of reps you do, the weight, the intensity or speed, the duration and types of exercises. Other options are to change the type of resistance (from bands to free weights), the position of the exercise you’re doing, or even by adding balance (a ball, foam roller, or inflatable disc). Small changes can make a big difference to progress your fitness program.
  5. Hire a personal trainer. Gyms can be daunting. A personal trainer will not only find ways to fit exercise into your life and help create a fitness plan with you, but she will also help keep you accountable. She’ll work to find the best ways for you to progress.

    exercise.distracted

  6. Hydrate! Our hearts and cells need water. And lots of it. Cells need water to synthesize energy. If we’re dehydrated, our heart has to work extra hard to pump our blood. Drink before you exercise, while you exercise, and after you exercise. This will reduce risk of cramping, will keep you feeling invigorated (and ready for one last rep), and can help you regulate your body temperature.
  7. Eat well. Exercise without appropriate nutrition can be devastating for your body. Take the time to nourish yourself. Take the time to care for yourself. 

If you’re feeling like you’re in an exercise rut, like you’re not improving, change things up. Be mindful of what you’re doing. And bump it up a notch to progress your cardio and body composition.

walktoschool2

5 Reasons to Celebrate Walk to School Day

Build Community, Movement Mindset, Health and Safety One Step at a Time

walktoschool2

Today is Walk to School Day, something most of our grandparents would laugh about. A friend’s grandma, for instance, grew up in North Dakota. She remembers she and her sister would hold onto their little brother’s hands so he wouldn’t get lost in the snow drifts during winter. The girls wore tights and dresses, walking in sub-zero North Dakota temperatures.

Extreme? Definitely. And probably not the safest thing to do. But this was in 1924, and there were no such thing as “snow days.” But the mere act of walking to school (or biking) goes beyond “toughening up” for those snow days. (Probably uphill both ways.)

The freedom to walk to school (or bike) is all about community.

Walking, and biking, to school are ways to promote healthier habits, detect problem spots (traffic and safety) in neighborhoods, and build community. So, instead of just making it once/year, make walking and biking to school a year ‘round commitment.

walktoschool3

  1. Develop a movement mindset. Kids need regular physical activity to grow, strengthen their bones, build strong joints, improve flexibility and mental health. How much is regular physical activity? You’ll be surprised to know that The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 60 minutes of physical activity every day for children between the ages of 6 – 17. 
  2. Get a common goal. Get the children’s school to start a walk-a-thon during the month of October. Raise funds for better school sports equipment or something activity-centered. What a fun way to keep exercise on the brain!
  3. Promote safety. Children must wear helmets when riding a bike. Teach them how to use the bike lanes and/or sidewalks when they can. Teach them necessary hand signals and that traffic signals, too, correspond to bike riders. Teach children to look both ways before crossing the street.

    walktoschool6

  4. Minimize risk. Criminal Minds ruined parents for life. We see predators at every corner. In an age of over-information, over-reporting, there is a definite gap between our perception of safety and the reality. That said, I’m not recommending you send a five-year-old to walk alone to school. There are ways, though, to walk and ride to school and minimize risk. Start a neighborhood walking club where parents take turns accompanying the younger children to school. Create bicycle trains – where there’s a meeting point and everybody rides their bikes together. Take back your streets … together!
  5. Make it a community effort. Show your local politicians and city planners the need for lowered speed limits, bike paths, sidewalks, and traffic signals. Go to city council and school board meetings. Start a petition. Make muscle-powered transportation more visible, and viable. Get involved!

The freedom to walk, or ride, to school is a privilege, though it shouldn’t be. We can change the way we view our car-centric society, one step at a time. And by doing so, we’re creating a community of healthier, more active, children. 

Get moving. Get biking. Get involved in Walk to School Day. And wear out those shoes!

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8 Nutrition Tips for Vegetarians or Want-to-be Vegetarians from Registered NYC Dietitian

Celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month

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Not too long ago, vegetarianism was considered a radical choice. We’ve all had family members – mostly grandmothers and great grandmothers – who balked at the idea of becoming vegetarian. Some of my clients have shared how defensive others get when they mention they’re a vegetarian, as if their food choices were a challenge to family tradition. It’s not uncommon, especially in smaller cities or more rural areas, for vegetarians to struggle.

People choose to be vegetarian for many different reasons: moral decisions about not wanting to harm animals or the environment, health reasons, food intolerance issues, religious or cultural reasons, among others. Whatever the reason, the lack of support from family and friends, and even a lack of support from establishments (schools, the workplace, local restaurants and supermarkets) make the choice to become vegetarian challenging. Luckily, we’ve made a lot of headway. Going “veg” isn’t as radical as it was once considered. 

Not all vegetarians are the same. Vegans are people who don’t use or ingest any animal products – not even wearing silk or leather, or eating honey. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diets. Lacto-ovo vegetarians include dairy products and eggs in their diets. And finally pesco-vegetarians include fish in their diets.

There’s so much misinformation about what being a vegetarian is and how vegetarians receive adequate nutrition – from what seems like a very complicated diet. But I’d argue that everyone has challenges to meet dietary recommendations. They’re just different for vegetarians and meat eaters.

October 1 is World Vegetarian Day, and in October we celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month. Whether you’re a vegetarian or are considering moving toward a vegetarian diet, there are some nutritional challenges you need to be aware of. Here are 7 nutrition tips for vegetarians or want-to-be vegetarians.

  1. Know why you want to make this choice. If it’s to lose weight in order to avoid certain foods, it might not be the best route. Vegetarianism shouldn’t be considered a crash diet. 
  2. Change from an animal-based diet to vegetarian diet slowly
    1. Cut red meats out of your diet first. 
    2. Try one new recipe each week. 
    3. Start experimenting with vegetable-based proteins (beans, lentils, chick-peas) in your sauces and soups.
    4. Take a cooking class or get some books out of the libraries. Being a vegetarian in such a meat-centered community takes extra study to insure you get the nutrients you need.
  3. Make a list. What do you usually eat for meals and snacks? Now, investigate healthy vegetable-based substitutes for the meat products in your list.

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  4. Protein, protein, protein matters. One of a vegetarian’s biggest challenges is getting enough protein. A complete protein provides the eight essential amino acids (nine in children) our bodies need every day. Proteins create the nuts and bolts (amino acids) of every cell in our body that are necessary for almost all biological processes. There are some phenomenal plant-based complete proteins: soy beans and tofu, hemp, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and micro algae.  Incomplete proteins in plant foods can be mixed together to create a complete protein. Grains, cereals, nuts, or seeds can be combined with dried beans, peas, lentils, peanuts or peanut butter. And you don’t even have to eat them together … at the same time. The proteins from these foods go into the protein pool in our bodies where all the amino acids combine as needed throughout the day. Biology is phenomenal.
  5. B12, calcium, iron and fatty acids are must-haves for good nutrition. These nutrients are found in dairy products and meats. Vegans, especially, are at risk for not getting their fair-share of B12 and might need a nutritional supplement or nutritional yeast. Many plant foods, such as tofu, dark leafy greens and some legumes, are excellent sources of calcium. Some foods are fortified with these nutrients, so be on the look out!

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  6. Take soy off the black list!  Soy is a great source of protein, good fats, calcium, and iron (see above). You can use Tofu (extra firm) in pasta sauces and vegetarian chili recipes. Add soybeans to salads and soups.  Use soy beverages (unsweetened) for pancakes, oatmeal, and smoothies. That said there is good research out there to support that isolate soy protein is problematic. It is processed and added to foods. Read the labels.
  7. Vegetarian processed foods are still processed foods. I call them Frankenstein foods, those foods that have a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. The market abounds with “veggie burgers”, fake chicken, and other products that pass themselves off as the veggie version of the meat. These products are often jam-packed with sodium and aren’t healthy options.
  8. Get an appointment with a registered dietitian to support you and help you create a meal plan that gives you the adequate calories and nutrients you need. This is especially important if you’re transitioning from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian diet.

Now there are many Websites and organizations that support vegetarians with tips and recipes. Thug kitchen is funny, irreverent, and is like tough biker gang goes vegan. Other useful websites are the Mayo Clinic’s vegetarian diet pyramid, and the Vegetarian Resource Group. 

The more you know, research, and learn about vegetarianism, the less restricted you will feel. This will help you on your road to becoming, or continuing to be, a vegetarian.