Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simple Tips To De-Stress Your Weight Loss Efforts

Did you know that some people lose weight when they are under stress? It’s true. The rest of us pack on pounds like crazy, and then get even more stressed out because we’re gaining weight. It’s natural to turn to “comfort foods” and tv when you feel like you can’t handle your life right now. But this doesn’t help you to eliminate stress, and can create more.
Presumably you’re pretty much always under some stress, but you want to be a healthy weight in spite of that. How do you do that?
First, don’t let your weight goals cause you even more stress! That would make things harder for you, and so would be self-defeating! Instead, think of your attempt to maintain (or to achieve) a healthy weight as a chance to take care of yourself. There isn’t some state of perfection that you have to reach – you just need to balance your life, and that includes a little bit of caring for your body.
Second, in the spirit of taking care of yourself, find activities that you enjoy, and make time for them. Even as stressed out as you are, and as rushed as you feel, give yourself permission to take care your yourself by exercising a little. Take a few deep breaths, then a 5 minute walk around the block. Slow down and take the stairs at work, instead of the elevator. Sign up for a weekly yoga class, and really go. This is time for you! The little bit of time you lose here or there won’t make things any worse, and might make you feel a little better.
Third, exercise reduces stress. There have been many studies that show a strong connection between regular exercise and reduced stress. Even depression is sometimes eased by exercise. The time you take for yourself, to do some physical activity that you enjoy doing, will make you more productive later. You’ll feel better, you’ll look better, and you’ll even work better.
Food choices are a little tougher. I know how tempting comfort foods are when I’m under stress. The thing to bear in mind is that even if you choose comfort foods, you can still be careful not to eat to much. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat an apple?” If the answer is no, then you aren’t really hungry, so don’t eat.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is really just a matter of taking care of yourself. No matter how much your child wants to stay home from school every day, you wouldn’t be taking good care of her if you let her goof off like that. Similarly, no matter how tempting it is to be sedentary and eat lots of junk food, you have to take care of your long term interests a little, by exercising and eating right (or at least by not eating too much).
Read more »

Is a Stress Free Life Good or Bad?

It seems that the word “stress” is becoming more common in the venue of everyday discussions. We hear about stress on the radio, tension induced by the economy, the anxiety of losing a job and the stress that comes with very challenging work. It is easy to conclude that all stress is bad if the news and magazines were your only resources for information. But is all stress bad for you? Does stress have any positive qualities?
You may be surprised to learn that some stress is actually “good” for you in many ways. The trick to benefiting from stress is to moderate the level of stress in your life. Just as a healthy body requires water, a healthy body requires an amount of stress to maintain its health. Likewise, if a healthy body is exposed to too much water (or stress) there can be negative consequences like drowning (or heart attacks).
So you are probably curious about how stress could possibly be good for you. Let me begin by pointing out that there are different forms of stress. Physical and emotional stresses are among the many forms to which we are exposed on a daily basis. Emotional stress can include being worried about paying the bills or about that lump you recently found on your back. The good part of such anxiety is that it will often drive you to action to avoid the discomfort of the worry. In this case it would motivate you to sit down and figure out a budget or to finally pick up the phone to make an appointment with your physician. (Since we are already very familiar with the negative aspects of too much stress I am refraining from addressing them here.)
Physical stress can be similarly beneficial. Think about it a moment… If you lift weights or engage in a cardiovascular exercise you are stressing your body. You are exposing your body to the physical stress of a greater number of muscle contractions which leads to greater use of oxygen and production of waste products that require removal. This places pressure on your circulatory system by increasing the requirements for oxygenated blood. This causes the heart to pump faster and the lungs to process a greater volume of air. Simply put, you breathe hard when you run.
This physical exertion forces the body to adapt to the stressor by improving its cardiovascular health. This leads to a lower pulse rate and blood pressure which eases the burden on the continuously contracting muscle called the “heart.” This exercise induced stress also improves the functional capacity of your lungs which makes them more efficient. Just as with the heart, this improved efficiency lowers the lungs’ stress load as well. It seems to be counter-intuitive to realize that more stress leads to less stress!
These examples of exercise induced physical stress are also restricted by the “too much” boundary. If you run too far or for too long then your body can respond with an injury (e.g. shin splints) or with an excessive level pain. Both of these examples are quite effective methods for your body to tell you “don’t do that again.” The physical stress of weight lifting leads to a stronger musculoskeletal system by forcing the body to adapt as well. As with running, this level of exertion must be balanced with a period of rest and recuperation or else the athlete will suffer from overtraining. This is another very effective way for your body to tell you to “slow down” or “stop that”- depending on how far you have gone beyond the boundaries.
Soon you will hear another story on the radio or read another article in a magazine addressing the harmful effects of stress and how it is such a terrible threat to your well being. I hope that you will remember that these stories are addressing the presence of “too much” stress and not “all” stress. Coincidentally, adopting a “some is good” attitude towards stress may actually reduce the amount of emotional anxiety you may experience because you are able to understand the positive sides of it. Remember, if kept in balance, some stress can actually provide a healthy and positive impact on your life.
Read more »

How The Light Bulb Is Making Us Fat…

When you hear the name Thomas Edison you most likely think of the inventor of the light bulb and phonograph. Some may think of the “Genius of Menlo Park” who has over 1,000 patents in his name.
Others imagine a brilliant mind that laid the ground work for the telegraph services that eventually led to the convenience and speed of communicating by the telephone. Few people, however, would associate Edison with inventing something that could increase your physical stress levels and, as a result, have a negative effect on your health.
The human body has an internal clock which regulates its activities throughout a roughly 24 hour cycle. These 24 hours cycles are called “circadian rhythms.” These rhythms are found in all animals but can differ greatly from one species to another. For example, some animals are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night whereas others are active in the daylight hours. Wild animals are able to awaken without the benefit (or curse) of an alarm clock because their circadian rhythms arouse them from their sleep. These internal clocks control everything within your body to include your body temperature, your appetite and your energy level.
Before the artificial lights became common, our human circadian rhythms were closely synchronized with the 24 hour cycle we find in nature. We were active when the Sun was up and slept when the Sun went down. We shared a common cycle with beasts and plants alike.
The human body developed a close relationship with the 24 hour days over its extensive evolutionary history. When we were in caves, we had only sunlight to illuminate our world. We eventually developed torches and candles which enabled us to move at night but with a relatively dim light source.
Edison’s light bulb introduced a light source that was controlled by man instead of nature. We were suddenly able to make a room almost as bright at the day whenever we wanted to. Instead of squinting behind torches and candles we were now able to see greater distances and read with a brighter light. The problem here is that our bodies depend on light levels to determine when to release some of the many chemicals that drive our behavior and our health. These release times are driven by our circadian rhythms which developed with the sunlight cycles.
Consider the number of times you stayed up late to watch a movie on TV or to surf the Internet. These seem to be harmless pursuits but they are not. The exposure to the light sources at hours when your body thinks it should be sleeping can disrupt your circadian rhythms.
These disruptions can reduce the efficiency of your immune system and disrupt your metabolism as well as the regulation of your body temperature. If this happened on a rare occasion then your body could recover from the stress. However, if these late night activities are consistently repeated then your body is not able to recover from the stress and your health can suffer accordingly.
Modern living finds us surrounded by light at most hours of the night. We have street lights throwing up light pollution, glowing alarm clocks, late night computer use and all night access to entertainment on cable TV. The impact on our circadian rhythms by all of this light is still being researched by numerous organizations but the results so far have not been positive.
To be fair, Edison cannot be blamed for the stressor which may be linked to his creating the light bulb. He could not have foreseen the extent to which his invention would spread across the globe and surely had no idea of the possible negative impacts it would have on our lives.
It would be irresponsible and absurd to try to remove the light bulb from our modern lives. The light bulb was a life changing invention for the world that came from the mind of a single man. It is up to today’s minds to develop a way in which we can continue to benefit from Edison’s brilliance while minimizing the stress it has introduced to our lives.
Read more »

Easy Pack Pain Solutions

Have you ever had trouble bending over, playing with children, or dancing? Maybe you’ve been wanting to play golf and you can’t because of the stiffness and the pain. Are you uncomfortable driving in the car and even while you’re doing light house work? You might even mind that you sit at your desk feeling the pain rather than getting anything productive, putting your business or your job in jeopardy. This sort of back pain problem is common and I think you should do something about it. The cost to you of putting up with this pain is way to high.
Before we get into my personal recommendations for you, I want to make clear that you should be evaluated by a health professional first. I don’t know everyone out there and I don’t want anyone to get hurt, so you need to get checked out as a priority. You need to know what the source of your pain is.
Once you’ve got that done, you should work towards eliminating anything that is contributing to your pain. This could be your bed, poor posture, a bad office chair, or even poor form with the exercises you routinely perform. You need to be careful as you address the pain problem because you can easily aggravate the problem, but you can also easily make it better.
When you work out, you should always keep the back’s alignment straight without trying to round-it-out. Rows are another move that you should avoid.
The way you hold your back when picking up weights or other objects is also important. You need to hold yourself to good posture at all time before you make things even worse. You should also be mindful of the way you are doing a row, dead lift, and other movements. For any drills that you’ve never been shown how to do, you might want to skip them until you research more on the proper form to perform the routines you have chosen.
Picking things up is the source of more injuries than you might be aware of. It’s surprising how reaching for something on the floor has devastated so many lives.
Many folks don’t pay attention to simple lifting because they don’t consider it as part of their routine.
Read more »

Neotame: The Newest Dangerous Sweetener To Hit Your Store Shelves

Have you heard about the newest artificial sweetener? It’s called Neotame and it’s a derivative of aspartame. Neotame is 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar and about 60 times sweeter than aspartame (nutra-sweet) . So what is the big deal? The problem is that you have been lied to…neotame

Why Aspartame and Neotame are NOT a Dieters Best Friend

This is a myth. Thanks to the media, and great marketing tactics by large corporations, they have gotten you to believe that these man made artificial sweeteners can help fight obesity. Guess what? It doesn’t.  There is a truckload of evidence pointing to the fact that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and neotame tend to lead to weight gain.
Here’s why: Aspartame and Neotame contain 2 amino acids called Phenylalanine and Aspartic Acid. These are known to rapidly stimulate insulin and leptin which are 2 hormones directly involved in your hunger mechanism and fat storage.  These 2 hormones play a gigantic role in regulating your metabolism.

Calories Don’t Matter…

Even though you aren’t eating sugar and these sweeteners have no calories, Aspartame and Neotame can still raise your insulin and leptin levels. This boosts your fat storing ability which leads to obesity, diabetes and a few other not so good to have diseases.
Over time, if your body gets exposed to too much insulin and leptin it becomes resistant making you hold onto fat. What happens next? Your body will crave sweets and store fat.
The best thing that you can do for your weight loss goals, and for your body is to simply avoid artificial sweeteners all together. If you need something to use, switch to stevia,  or coconut sugar.
Read more »

Monday, March 21, 2011

Health And Nutrition: How To Steam Broccoli

How to steam broccoli.

Broccoli is an extremely nutritious vegetable that can benefit nearly everyone's diet. Extremely versatile, this green cruciferous broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw. However when it is cooked, broccoli should be prepared using a method that preserves the majority of its nutrients. Boiling removes many of the vitamins and minerals from this vegetable, so steaming or sautéing are considered the preferred method for cooking broccoli. Steaming broccoli is fast and simple, so even a novice cook can do it successfully.
Before you cook
Before you steam your broccoli, it is important to prepare it properly:
1. Wash the broccoli thoroughly under cool running water.
2. Cut off the thickest portion of the stalks, removing the fibrous, woody bases.
3. Either chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces or cut it into thin stalks with florets at the top so it looks like a group of small trees.

Stovetop steaming
There are various kitchen implements available for stovetop steaming. You may use either a folding metal steaming basket, a hard pan-insert designed for steaming or a steaming basket made of wood. Whichever steaming tool you select, it should be placed in a pan that has a tightly fitting lid.

1. Fill the base of the pan with water so it is up to the level of the steamer, but does not rise up into the steamer.
2. Set the stove burner to high.
3. Once the water is boiling, place the broccoli loosely in the steamer. It is okay to fill the steamer, but it should not be packed with broccoli.

3. Cover the pan.
4. Allow the broccoli to cook three to five minutes. If the pan is really full, you may need additional time.
5. Make sure to remove the pan from the heat source and to remove the lid once the broccoli is done or it will continue to cook.

Microwave steaming
To steam in the microwave, you will need a covered microwave-safe dish or bowl.

1. Place the cut or chopped broccoli in the dish.
2. Add one to two tablespoons of water to the dish, depending on the amount of broccoli.
3. Cover the dish tightly, either with a lid or with microwave-safe plastic wrap.
4. For two cups of broccoli, cook on high for three to five minutes. For a larger amount of broccoli, you will need to increase the cooking time.
5. Remove the lid from the dish once the broccoli is done or it will continue to cook.

Recent studies suggest that stovetop steaming may preserve more of broccoli's nutrients than microwave cooking.

How to tell when broccoli is done
Broccoli is done when it is still a little crisp, but the stalks cut easily. It should be a bright green. The best way to test broccoli for doneness is to taste it!

Once the broccoli is cooked, consider serving it with butter or lemon butter and a little salt and pepper to taste. It is often served with cheese sauce or with garlic-based Asian sauces.
Read more »

Protecting Your Skin From The Sun: 5 Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer

5 easy steps can prevent your chance of developing skin cancer.

The possibility of developing skin cancer is something that everyone must face, especially those that work outdoors or have relatively pale skin. The bad news about skin cancer is that it can be fatal. The good news is that if caught early, it is entirely treatable.

What follows are five steps that you can take to greatly reduce your chances of developing skin cancer:

1) Wear sun block
This is the most obvious and most important way to combat skin cancer. When you are going to be outside, put sun block of at least SPF 15 wherever you will be exposed to the sun. If you are going to be swimming or sweating, remember to reapply regularly.

2) Put on a hat
Hats are another great way to reduce exposure to the sun. Especially for balding men, a hat can reduce exposure to the sun in places where it is difficult or messy to apply sun block. LArge straw hats are especially good for keeping the sun off of your head, face, and shoulders.

3) Watch out for moles
A mole that changes size or shape is often a warning sign of skin cancer. Keep vigilant observations of your moles to make sure that they are not changing size or shape. If you do notice any changes, be sure to see a dermatologist immediately.

4) Look out for any skin irregularities
Skin irregularities, especially bumps, should be watched for always. Have a friend or spouse look for such irregularities on your neck and back where you cannot see them. If any irregularity is found, see your dermatologist immediately.

5) Don't let your guard down on cloudy days
Did you know that you can get sunburned even on the cloudiest of days? Harmful rays can penetrate the clouds and bring cancer to your skin even when you cannot see the sun because of many clouds. Do not let your guard down by forgetting sun screen or appropriate coverings on days when the sun is not out.

Follow these steps and you'll greatly reduce your chances of skin cancer. Live healthy!
Read more »

Powered by Blogger