Monthly Archives: March 2017

Wellness Challenge: Replace Sweets with Fruit

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Your wellness challenge for the week is to replace sweets with fruit. Remember, your challenge is to do this at least 4 days this week.

Many types of candy are loaded with artificial dyes and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and an array of other additives. Skip unhealthy ingredients and replace candy with fruit, nature’s sweet treat. While fruit contains natural sugars, it also delivers beneficial nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The fiber in fruit also makes you feel full, unlike most candy.

Out With the Candy

The first step to replacing candy with fruit is to remove temptation. That bag of taffy you have in your desk drawer and any other stashes of candy need to go. If you do not want to throw them away, take them to work for coworkers or give them to a friend. This prevents you from giving in to a candy craving, since the prospect is less appealing if you have to go out and buy candy to get your fix.

Fresh Fruit around the House

Keeping a fruit bowl in the rooms you frequent makes your new candy replacement more appealing and convenient. Wash the fruit so they are ready to eat, set out only as much as you plan to eat in a week and restock when the bowls are empty. Cut fruit that require peeling into candy-size pieces and store mini fruit salad bags in your refrigerator. Reach for these when you feel like snacking, instead of grabbing a bag of candy. If possible, store bags of fruit in a refrigerator at work to replace your visits to the vending machine.

Frozen Fruit Instead of Hard Candy

If your favorite is hard candy, buy a bag of frozen berries or chopped fruit. Alternately, make your own: prepare the fruit, spread it on a baking sheet and freeze it for an hour before putting it in a bag to keep the fruit from sticking together. Pop a piece of frozen fruit in your mouth and suck on it until it has thawed enough to chew. Keep some frozen fruit at your office as well, if you have access to a freezer.

Dried Fruit on the Go

For chewy sweet treats, dried fruit is your best choice. Most grocers have a wide selection of dried fruit; avoid sweetened varieties, which are nearly as bad as candy. Keep a bag of dried fruit in your desk, candy dish, or anywhere else you like to snack. You can also dry your own fruit. Slice them thinly, spread them on a baking sheet and place them in a dehydrator or in a 150-degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 to 12 hours. The fruit will not retain their color unless you dip them in ascorbic acid — or some type of citrus juice — before you dry them. This helps kill bacteria as well.

How to Achieve a Healthy Weight — for Life!

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In America, we want everything NOW — fast food, breaking news and next-day delivery. Our desire for quick results from exercise is no different. So what do we do? We restrict our daily caloric intake to unsustainable levels and exercise to burn additional calories. The pounds start to melt off and we’re thrilled! But here’s the problem with that approach: Calories are a form of energy and when you reduce them to extremely low levels, guess what else is reduced? If you guessed energy, you get a gold star. The truth is, crash or fad diets don’t work and aren’t good for your overall health and vitality.

Losing weight takes time, commitment and a lot of patience. Here’s how it works: 1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories, therefore, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume (that’s a caloric deficit) in order to lose 1 pound. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a healthy weight-loss goal of 1 to 2 pounds per week. You’ll need to burn 500 more calories than you consume every day to reach that recommendation. (500 calories per day x 7 days per week = 3,500 calories per week). There are no quick fixes when it comes to permanent weight loss. The best way to release weight and maintain a healthy BMI: Commit to a lifestyle that incorporates a nutritious, Mediterranean-style diet of appropriate portions and be active every day. Here are some tips to help you get started on your journey to a longer, healthier life.

Set SMART goals. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. That means you’ll want daily or weekly goals. For example, aim for taking at least 10,000 steps a day and doing some strength training at least 3 times per week.

Start small. Setting a goal to lose 50 pounds is great, but it’s going to take time and you will become frustrated if you focus every day on those 50 pounds. Start small by setting a goal of eating a nutritious breakfast made up of whole foods every day for a week. Breakfast truly is the day’s most important meal because it gives you the energy you need to get moving, and it fires up your metabolism.

Make it personal. If you need to lose weight, chances are that you already know it but haven’t found the motivation to do it yet. Give the goal meaning and intrinsic value and it will be easier for you to stay the course when you’re struggling to maintain your healthier habits. For example, maybe losing the weight will allow you to run around with your kids or grandkids and enjoy time with them more. Or perhaps it will make it easier for you to participate in an activity you love to do.

Write it down. Tracking what you eat is one of the best ways to learn and understand your habits. It will reveal your eating patterns (e.g. do you mindlessly snack during your favorite TV shows?) and help you assess if what and how much you’re consuming is helping you reach your goals. There are journals and smartphone apps that will help you with this effort.

Have a plan. Don’t drive to work in the morning asking yourself, “What am I going to eat today?” Be prepared. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time will help you manage the amount and quality of the food you eat.

Make exercise fun. If you don’t like broccoli chances are that you do not eat broccoli. The same principle applies to exercise. If you don’t like it, you are not going to do it. Find activities that you enjoy. You’ll look forward to doing them instead of dreading them.

Losing weight is challenging, but it is not impossible! Find a buddy and use some of these ideas to begin living the healthier life you deserve.

Proactive Strategies for Protecting Your Health

When it comes to protecting your health, one of the best weapons is information. Here are some strategies to help you stay healthy.

Learn about your risk factors.

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Do some research to find out what your personal risk factors are so you are aware of them when making choices about your health. Awareness of risk factors is the first step in knowing what you can do about prevention.

Schedule a doctor’s appointment.

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Most people only call their doctor when something is wrong. Get proactive about your health and schedule an appointment. Talk about the risk factors that you’ve researched, what changes you should make and strategies for making those changes. Be sure to leave the appointment with action items and a follow-up plan.

Introduce one new healthy habit.

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When people get involved in working on their personal health, all the changes they “should” be making can feel overwhelming. Start small. Pick one new healthy habit and work it into your everyday life. Maybe start by drinking 8 glasses of water a day, or perhaps work towards including 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule several days a week. Wherever you start, keep it small. Once you’ve mastered the new habit, start another. Soon you’ll be on your way towards reaching your health goals.

Tell a friend.

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Talk with your friends about your health goals. Ask them to encourage your efforts. You might inspire them to set health goals of their own. Passing on the gift of proactive healthcare helps everyone in your network of family and friends.