Archive for February, 2012

Battle of the Bulge

This afternoon I received an email that contained a Nielson Report which talks about healthy eating trends around the globe.  Nielson Holdings is a global information and management company .  In 2011, there were 25,000 people from 56 countries that took part in the survey.  It is very interesting to see how North America compares to the rest of the world.  Check out these stats:

This study provides a great opportunity for everyone to become aware of

  • Which actions are you taking to lose weight?
  • How are you adjusting your nutrition plan to lose weight?
  • Do you understand food/nutrition labels?
  • If restaurants provided nutritional information, would that make a difference when ordering your meal?

I hope this gives you a little insight as to what is going on around the globe.  If you would like a report of the study, please message me.

be well-

 

 

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Animals do it too!

As I flip through a copy of TIME magazine, there is a great article titled Friends With Benefits.  There are two foxes sitting beside each other in the snow and cold, as if they are posing for this picture on the cover of the article.

Scientists are beginning to conclude that humans are not the only species capable of forging true and lasting friendships.  This goes beyond the neighborhood dogs playing in the local park with each other.  In 1995, John Mitani, a primatologist at the University of Michigan began to study chimpanzees in Uganda.  During his 17 years of study, he noticed a pair of male chimpanzees becoming friendly (knowing they were not related) as they would hunt and share prey with each other.  One would be backup incase there was a fight, they would travel together and stay in touch with loud, hooting calls.  This friendship lasted until one of the apes died.  Strikingly sad, the other “didn’t want to be with anybody for several weeks, he seemed to go into mourning.”

Animal friendship is about creating bonds defined by sharing, sacrificing and even grieving.  This widespread animal friendship is changing our assumption with how nonhuman societies work.  This may also change the way we think about our own friendships, and possibly our health.  It has been well established that creating a network of close friends can contribute to longer lifespans and a lower incidence of disease.

According to the article:

Studies have shown that people with close social networks have lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones and more robust immune systems than those without.  In 2010, scientists at BYU analyzed 300,000 people.  They found that having poor social connections can raise the risk of premature death as high as that from  a smoking habit and even higher than that from obesity.

I feel very fortunate to witness the friendship my dogs have with each other and their friends.

I am even more fortunate to have close friendships of those I surround myself with.  These are friends that live across the country and around the corner.  They include people from my early days on the see-saw in the local park and some I’ve come to know more recently.  Having these friends in my life make me a better person each and every day.

be well-

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Will you be Mine?

I see some people cringe at the sight of hearts, flowers and chocolate as Valentines Day approaches.  Anxiety of being without “someone special” arises.  Others see this as a Hallmark holiday.

To me, Valentines is an opportunity to share with others how important they are in our life.  It could be your significant other, family, friends from your distant past or those who have come into your life more recently.  Letting others know how you feel about them and what they mean to you is far greater than any gift of flowers or fancy restaurant.  Maybe you make a book mark, write a poem, ring them up on the phone.  Whatever you do, do it from the heart.

So, how will you show those you love what they mean to you?

be well-

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Let’s Move! turns 2

The mission statement for Let’s Move!

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping kids become more physically active.

Two years ago Michelle Obama launched this campaign to help decrease the rapidly growing epidemic of childhood obesity.  How does something like this happen?  The answer is easy.  Thirty years ago kids walked or rode their bike to school.  They played outdoors all day long.  Home-cooked meals were served with significantly smaller portion sizes, with one snack a day.  Today is a whole different story.  Gym classes and recess are almost non-existent.  Television and video games have replaced the great outdoors.  Several snacks are given throughout the day (almost 200 calories worth).  Portion sizes have grown to 2-5 times compared to what they once were.

In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago–including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.

The good news is that studies are beginning to show that the epidemic is beginning to plateau rather than continuing to grown.  Much of that has to do with the many accomplishment the Let’s Move! campaign has done.  A few of those accomplishments include:

  • In December 2010 President Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation, to help all kids have healthier food in school. In January 2012, USDA released new school meal regulations to update the quality of nutrition through the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. Changes include ensuring kids are offered and served more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less sodium, saturated fat and trans fats.
  • The country’s largest food manufacturers pledged to cut 1.5 trillion calories from the market place by 2015 through their Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.
  • Let’s Move! Child Care was launched to ensure that our youngest children are getting a healthy start. To date approximately 2,000 child care professionals and organizations have registered online to implement new criteria for nutrition, physical activity and limiting screen time. The Department of Defense, General Services Administration and Bright Horizons committed to implement new standards – that commitment represented over 2,000 centers serving nearly 300,000 children.
  • The American Beverage Association committed to put clear calorie labels on the front of their products to give consumers better information.
  • Walmart’s Nutrition Charter committed to lowering the cost of fruits and vegetables as well as healthier options like whole grain products by 1 billion dollars in 2011. In addition, Walmart pledged to work with manufacturers to remove 10% sugar and 25% sodium in categories throughout the store.

Everyone has a role in helping to keep our community healthy.  Check out the following link on how YOU can take action! http://www.letsmove.gov/action

Let’s Move!

be well-

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Chaos or Clarity

The above picture is a great example distinguishing the difference between chaos and clarity.  I often speak about being mind full verse mindful.  There are many people who feel being able to juggle or multitask several things at once helps them become more efficient.  In the short-term, this may be true.  However, I strongly feel at some point, there will be dis ease, either in the physical body or the mind.

Our minds can be compared to a computer.  When a computer is on and has many programs open such as Power Point, iTunes, Excel, Google and Outlook, the computer starts running much less efficiently.  It is having to work hard just to keep things in order and from shutting down.  The same can be said for our minds.  The long “to-do” list of laundry, grocery shopping, picking kids up from school, social engagements, etc, our mind becomes scattered.  We become forgetful, less efficient.  As we begin to close programs on the computer or mark things off our to-do list, there is more ease in our life.  Our thoughts, actions, movements and communication with ourselves and others is done so with clarity.

Here are a few examples of bringing more mindfulness to your life-

  • When sitting down to eat, do just that.  Avoid tv, reading the paper, checking your email.  Take time to enjoy your meal.
  • Allow yourself to be quiet and still, free from all distractions for five minutes every day.  If need be, sit in your bedroom with the door closed, turning off all electronics.
  • Meditate.
  • Pay more attention to what is going on around you.

My wish is that we all become a little more mindful.

be well-

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Leap Year Challenge

So, I cannot take credit for the title.  The Leap Year Challenge is something we are offering at the Club and I thought what a perfect name.  At work we are encouraging members and employees to step out of their usual routine and try classes which they typically shy away from.

Studies show it takes about 29 days for a habit to stick.  This February is the perfect month to begin that.  One challenge I have set for myself is to do 5 Sun A’s and 5 Sun B’s each day.  For those of you unfamiliar with those terms, it is yoga jargon.  Each has a very specific sequence of movement and can be seen in the following pictures.

Surya Namaskar A

Surya Namaskar B

I have found it difficult to commit to attending a public yoga class every week.  By giving myself this challenge, it allows me to still practice yoga every day and reap all the great benefits.  Practicing the Surya Namaskar (Salutations to the Sun) regularly is known to ease stress and give you peace of mind besides increasing your levels of concentration.  Who wouldn’t want more of that.  Some other great benefits include:

  • The workout it provides for the muscles, but it also benefits joints, ligaments and the skeletal system by improving posture, flexibility and balance.
  • This practice stimulates and conditions virtually every system in the body. It is good for the heart and stimulates the cardiovascular system. It oxygenates the blood and helps strengthen the heart. Surya Namaskar is good for the digestive system and the nervous system. It stimulates the lymphatic system and supports respiratory system health, as well.
  • It also benefits the Endocrine system and enables the various endocrinal glands to function properly. These include the thyroid, parathyroid and pituitary glands as well as the adrenal gland, testes and ovaries.

As we are beginning to see New Year’s Resolutions wear off, what will you do to challenge yourself?

be well-

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