Staying Motivated to Exercise During Cold Weather

The weather is starting to get colder and the days shorter, which can make exercising the last thing you want to do. When it’s dark outside, it’s easy to stay snuggled in your warm bed and skip your morning workout, but with all of those holiday treats right around the corner, this is no time to slack off. How can you stay motivated to exercise in the colder months?

Set goals and make a plan.

Don’t wait for New Year’s resolutions; set goals for yourself now and make a plan to meet them. Whether your goals are to get fit, lose weight, or de-stress, or all of the above, schedule your workouts on your calendar just as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. Treat these appointments just as you would any other important appointment, and then get the satisfaction of marking it off your “to do” list.

Move indoors.

If it’s too cold to do your regular run, walk, or bike ride outdoors, move your workout inside. You don’t need to belong to a gym to work out indoors. There are plenty of things you can do at home to stay fit: use workout DVDs or get free workouts on YouTube. If you have the space and it’s in your budget, invest in a treadmill or stationary bike to use at home. You can also try out fitness classes at places other than a standard gym—yoga studios, dance studios, and recreation centers. They offer all types of classes that often don’t involve a monthly contract.

Enlist a partner.

It’s always harder to skip a workout if someone else is depending on you. Partner with a friend to work out together this fall and winter. Bundle up and head out for a walk or run together, or find something else active you can do together such as playing indoor tennis, swimming indoors at a local YMCA, or trying out a new fitness class.

Ward off winter blues.

Remind yourself why working out, even when you don’t want to, always makes you feel better. Exercising on dark, cold days can help you keep away the winter blues by boosting your body’s endorphins. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and affects 10 to 20 percent of people, and exercise is one way to prevent or lessen its symptoms.

Reward yourself.

Staying motivated to exercise throughout the colder months is challenging. Reward yourself for staying active by treating yourself to a soak in a hot bath or a relaxing massage for sore muscles. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

How Sleep (or Lack of) Affects Your Overall Health

Americans are not getting enough sleep. According to the CDC, adults need between seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but most people average only six hours per night or less. Insufficient sleep can do more than make you cranky and groggy  – poor sleep can have lasting effects on your overall health, especially if it becomes a chronic problem.

Weight gain

Lack of sleep has been linked to being overweight, especially in women. Without enough sleep, you may be hungrier than usual and have cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Additionally, your body’s ability to signal when you are full may also be hindered, which can all lead to unwanted weight gain.

Weakened immune system

Even when you’re only moderately sleep-deprived, your immune system will be comprised. You’ll be more susceptible to catching colds, the flu and other viruses, and recovery time will take longer.

Poor mental performance

In short, poor sleep will keep your brain from functioning optimally. Concentration, memory, and cognitive function are all affected by sleep deprivation. When you’re overly fatigued, you’ll have a harder time learning something new and paying attention. This can impact your creativity, decision making, problem solving, and work or school performance.

Heart health

Your risk for developing high blood pressure or worsening high blood pressure if you already have it is increased if you get less than six hours of sleep per night. Over time, lack of sleep can increase your risk for developing heart disease despite other factors such as age, weight, and exercise habits.

Premature aging

If you’re regularly skimping on sleep, you’re more likely to get premature wrinkles and sagging of your skin, in part because cortisol, the stress hormone that’s released when you are sleep deprived, can break down collagen in your skin.

Improve your sleep habits

The good news is, many of the negative effects of sleep deprivation can be reversed or avoided by improving your sleep habits so you get quality sleep. Aim for eight hours per night.

  • Choose a bedtime and stick to it, even on weekends.
  • Avoid TV, smartphones, tablets, or computer screens before bed. These can be stimulating and affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Don’t eat or drink late at night, especially avoid caffeinated beverages past 6 p.m. Water is OK.
  • Create a bedtime routine, such as brushing your teeth, showering or taking a warm bath, and listening to soft music or reading a book.
  • Make sure your room is dark except for a very soft nightlight if needed. This means TVs, smartphones, and other devices are turned off completely.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Season: Choosing the Best Options

It’s officially fall, or as it’s come to be known in recent years, pumpkin spice season!

pumpkin-spice

Pumpkin spice has taken over everything from food products to drinks to candles to cleaning supplies. When it comes to food and drinks, there are healthy pumpkin spice choices and some that are just laden with sugar or artificial ingredients, nothing more than seasonal gimmicks to get you to buy junk food.

You can enjoy your favorite seasonal spice and still maintain a healthy diet if you chose the right pumpkin spice foods. And if you cannot resist that Pumpkin Spice Latte, as long as it isn’t an everyday indulgence, you can still enjoy it in moderation and not completely derail your diet.

Learn which popular pumpkin spice products are good choices and which ones to limit to special treats or not at all.

Limit these pumpkin spice options, or avoid them altogether:

  1. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte – At 380 calories for a 16 oz. with 14 grams of fat and a whopping 49 grams of sugar (even more for larger sizes), this popular coffee drink should remain an occasional treat and not an everyday habit this season.
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Donut – This dessert packs 19 grams of fat and 19 grams of sugar per donut, and who can eat just one?
  3. Nestle Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice Liquid Coffee Creamer – Think you can save money and calories by making your own version of a pumpkin spice latte? Think again. While this creamer claims to be free of trans fats, it contains partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fats.
  4. Clif Bar Spiced Pumpkin Pie Energy Bars – There are good protein bars and bad protein bars, and this one falls into the latter category. With only 9 grams of protein, it contains 23 grams of sugar, and will only give you a temporary energy boost before leaving you tired and sluggish.
  5. Chobani Flip Pumpkin Harvest Crisp – While this yogurt does contain probiotics and protein, it also comes in at 200 calories and 17 grams of sugar. This one qualifies more as a dessert than a healthy snack.

Say yes to these pumpkin spice products:

  1. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios – Like their original cereal, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are low in calories and high in whole grains. A serving does contain 8 grams of sugar but is a better breakfast choice than a pumpkin spiced baked treat.
  2. Chobani Pumpkin Spice Blended Yogurt – Curb pumpkin spice sugary cravings with this Greek yogurt that’s packed with protein and live active cultures but still low in calories.
  3. Kashi TLC Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy Granola Bars – With whole pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, this treat can satisfy crunchy cravings while providing healthy nutrients. And one serving is two bars!
  4. Pumpkin Spice Quaker Instant Oatmeal – A fall favorite for mornings that’s convenient and easy to make, this oatmeal is low in calories, fat, and sodium.
  5. Yasso Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar – This frozen yogurt bar tastes like the real thing and with only 120 calories and 5 grams of protein, it makes a great substitute for sugary pumpkin spice desserts.

 

 

HR Focus: Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every October, the entire country turns pink. While it may be pretty, wearing pink or offering pink products does little to educate employees about breast cancer or raise money for the cause. In October, which has become the nation’s annual observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your company should develop a plan to provide information and education to employees on breast cancer prevention and early detection, as well as to find meaningful ways to raise funds for breast cancer research. Participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month can help align your company with a worthy cause if done properly.

Here are some impactful ways your company can get involved this October:

Provide breast cancer prevention information and educational materials to employees and clients and their families.

Advocate for the cause by being proactive in helping employees take charge of their health. Connecting your company to breast cancer prevention can bring good will to your brand while providing useful information for women. Create a handout (with breast cancer facts, risk factors, mammogram information, and how to perform a self-exam) that employees can take home and use. Or add your logo to these pocket sliders (small interactive slide charts in which you match up the bullet point and view information and tips in the cutout window) available at  https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2317504/Pinktober%20Promos.pdf?t=1537766091314.

Share breast cancer facts and prevention tips on your company’s social media.

Get creative on Facebook and Instagram by sharing photos and memes with prevention tips and breast cancer facts for the entire month of October.

Share breast cancer and nutrition facts.

There is a lot of misinformation about the causes of breast cancer, especially when it comes to diet. As a food service company, clarifying the connections of breast cancer and diet can have a big impact. Share the facts through educational materials, blogs, newsletters, and social media. A good place to start is https://breast360.org/topics/2017/01/01/breast-cancer-and-nutrition-facts-and-myths/.

Share survivor stories.

Sharing breast cancer survivor stories and photos is also a powerful way to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you have employees or clients who are willing to share their breast cancer stories, include their photos and stories in your company’s blog and/or newsletter with links to your social media.

Organize a company team for a Breast Cancer Walk/Run or other event.

There are numerous Breast Cancer Walks/Runs and other fundraising events happening in October all over the country. Find a local event and organize a company team to get involved by fundraising and participating the day of the event. At the event, your team can wear t-shirts with your company name and logo and give away promotional products to promote your partnership.

 

 

 

The Keto Diet – Is It Safe?

You’ve probably heard of the Keto Diet or known someone who’s following it. It has gained popularity  in recent years because it can result in quick and sometimes extreme weight loss. But is it safe?

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet requires a person to eat little-to-no-carbohydrates and instead consume mostly high-fat and protein-rich foods. The purpose of the diet is to change your body’s metabolism so it reaches a state called “ketosis.” This means that instead of your body getting energy from carbohydrates, once in ketosis, your body shifts to burning fats for energy. This can then result in significant weight loss.

However, nutritionists and doctors have cautioned about following this type of diet. Not only is it hard to follow long-term, but it also omits many fruits and vegetables that are necessary for important nutrients. It may also pose cardiac risks, especially for those who already suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure or have other risk factors.

A challenge to follow

While eating a diet full of meat, cheese, and butter may sound appealing to some, the Keto Diet actually requires complex eating plans to get the right amount of proteins, fats,  and carbs to put the body into ketosis.

Followers of the diet also develop what’s known as the “keto flu,” which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea, fogginess, and increased hunger. Symptoms usually start three days to one week after starting the diet and can last up to two weeks or more.

Not enough nutrients

Because the diet restricts carbohydrates to only 2-4 percent of the diet, nutritionists say it’s not sustainable long-term. You will need to take supplements and vitamins since you won’t be getting essential nutrients from foods, and you may also need fiber supplements to keep your digestive system working properly.

Not only are you depriving your body of crucial nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, but (like most people) you may start to crave bread or pasta—then give in to those cravings. As soon as carbohydrates are reintroduced, any weight lost will be quickly regained.

The ketogenic diet is a very restrictive plan that really only provides a temporary, quick fix. Because it’s too difficult to stick to, you would be better off making a lifestyle change by eating a well-balanced diet that incorporates good carbs, such as whole grains, combined with healthy fats and moderate amounts of proteins, with a focus on whole foods and less heavily processed foods. Add in portion control and exercise, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy, long-term weight loss.

 

 

 

Quick Dinner Recipes for Families on the Go

Schedules tend to get hectic this time of year with the kids back in school and busy with extracurricular activities. With everyone running in different directions, it’s easy to forgo family dinners and just run by the drive-thru. While that’s OK when you’re really in a pinch for time, you don’t want to make it a regular habit.

Here are five healthy dinner recipes for stress-free meal planning for families on-the-go. Each recipe takes only 30 minutes or less to make, so you’ll still have plenty of time to help kids with homework, cart them to and from sports, piano or dance lessons, and maybe even do a load of laundry.

BBQ Chicken Crescent Roll-Ups and Garlic Green Beans

An easy meal for busy weeknights that kids and grown-ups will both love. Unroll-and-bake crescent rolls are stuffed with shredded barbecue chicken, Swiss cheese, and a tasty cream cheese blend. Dress up frozen green beans for a healthy side dish and you’re done. These also make great game-day snacks!

https://www.sugardishme.com/bbq-chicken-crescent-roll-ups/

Chicken & Cheese Tortilla Pie

A dish made with store-bought, ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken combined with cheese and other ingredients to make a hearty Mexican dish. You can substitute tomatoes for olives or add black beans for some fiber, or modify the recipe based on your family’s preferences. It can be easily created in minutes!

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chicken—cheese-tortilla-pie/

Tuna Carbonara

Made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, this tuna recipe can be made in about 20 minutes. This is a great option when you’re really pressed for time because you can easily substitute ingredients based on what you already have on hand. The only things you’ll really need are some sort of pasta, tuna, bacon, eggs, cream, and Parmesan or Romano cheese.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/tuna-carbonara-482016

Three-Bean Chili

For those upcoming cold or rainy nights, this three-bean chili packs just enough spice to warm you up. Plus, it’s easy to make and serves six, so if you have a smaller family, it’s great for leftovers for lunch.

https://www.familycircle.com/recipe/spicy-3-bean-chili/

Beefy Macaroni and Cheese

Kids love mac and cheese, and this version adds beef for added flavor and protein. Serve with a side vegetable for a complete meal of comfort food for any busy weeknight.

https://crystalandcomp.com/beef-macaroni-and-cheese/

Finding Time to Exercise for Busy Parents

Now that kids are back in school, and you’re back in your daily routine, finding the time to exercise can be a challenge for busy parents. Whether you’re working full-time or part-time along with taking care of a newborn, chasing after a toddler, or chauffeuring older kids to and from school and activities, it’s easy to go for days without fitting in a workout. Add in a hefty dose of guilt for not spending your free time with your kids, and it’s a recipe for abandoning regular exercise altogether.

With such busy lives, we have to schedule in time to exercise every week, or it may never happen. Think of it as another way to stay healthy for your family. Even if you get in 10-minute increments throughout the day, just moving more will make a huge difference in your overall health, outlook, and well-being, which in turn, will only make you a better parent.

Make exercise a priority by using these tips for finding ways to sneak it into a busy lifestyle:

Strollercize!

Got a baby or toddler? Take advantage of nap time by loading your little one(s) into a jogging stroller and take a walk, or run for 30 minutes.

Find a buddy

Enlist a friend to share workouts. You’re less likely to skip a workout if you’ve promised to meet a friend at the gym or at the park for a walk. Or you can also trade babysitting duties while the other works out.

Play with your kids

Spend time with your kids and exercise at the same time. Kick around a soccer ball with your kids in the yard; go on a bike ride together; walk the dog, or take them to the playground, and join in a game of chase or tag.

Download it

There are endless workout videos available for download as well as on DVD. Especially when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, working out at home to a video is an easy way to fit in exercise. You can even have your kids join you to make it a fun, family affair.

Hit the gym

Join a gym that offers childcare or offers a children’s program your kids can participate in while you and your spouse or partner work out.

Lunch break

If your office allows, eat lunch at your desk, and use your lunch break to go to the gym, or walk or run outdoors a few days a week.

Rise and shine

Get up early before the rest of your house, and get your workout out in before your family’s hectic morning routine starts. You’ll start the day energized and won’t have any excuses later in the day when things like a sick child or schedule changes could derail your workout plans.

A Week of Healthy Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

Summer is over; the kids are back in school, and parents are back to the arduous task of packing lunches every day. Make your mornings easier, and keep kids satisfied with these simple lunch ideas for a week’s worth of healthy meals.

Each lunch packs protein, healthy carbs, and fresh fruits and vegetables, but you can mix and match ingredients based on your kids’ taste preferences.

Monday

Deli turkey and ham wrap

  • Use whole wheat or spinach wraps filled with deli turkey and ham and add garden veggie cream cheese.
  • Baby carrots and snap peas with light Ranch dressing
  • Popcorn

Tuesday

DIY chicken tacos

  • Use leftover grilled chicken from a past dinner, or slice pre-made Rotisserie chicken into small pieces
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Small container of shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 small whole wheat tortillas

Wednesday

Hummus, and pita bread wedges

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Apple slices
  • Pretzel sticks

Thursday

Pizza Rollups

  • Easy, three-ingredient pizza rolls freeze well, and kids will love them served hot or cold. For recipe, visit https://www.whatlisacooks.com/blog/pizza-rolls.
  • Fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Celery with light Ranch dressing
  • 2 fig cookies

Friday

Yogurt Parfait

Pack in small Bento box (one-serving box) containers for your child to create their own parfait.

One cup plain or low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt

  •  ½ cup low-fat granola
  •  ½ cup Cheerios
  •  ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup sliced strawberries

Sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes

Recognizing the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Summer may be winding down, but the weather outside is still hot. With fall just around the corner, you may be dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters, but in many parts of the country, September is still one of the hottest months of the year, so exercising outdoors should still be done with caution to prevent heat exhaustion.

 

Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats. This condition is caused by exposure to high temperatures, especially when there is a combination of high humidity and strenuous activity. It is usually accompanied by dehydration. If not treated quickly and properly, heat exhaustion can progress to a more serious, life-threatening condition known as heatstroke. That’s why knowing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to treat it is so important.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion

  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling faint or weak
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps

Anyone can experience heat exhaustion, but infants, children, and the elderly are especially at risk during hot weather. Don’t forget that dogs and other pets can also get heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so never leave your furry friends outdoors for extended periods during hot weather, and never leave a pet, child, or infant in a hot car.

Treatment for heat exhaustion

If you experience any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion when exercising or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat, the first thing to do is stop the activity and move indoors to a cooler place. Rehydrate your body with water or a sports drink to replace important electrolytes that are lost when your body overheats. Applying ice packs or cold, wet towels to your forehead, back of neck, and wrists can also help. With prompt treatment, your symptoms should resolve in a couple of hours, but if they do not or you feel worse, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

If you do not get out of the heat and properly treat heat exhaustion, symptoms can quickly progress to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening emergency. Signs of heatstroke include confusion,  odd behavior, agitation, high fever, and seizure. If you or anyone you are with are displaying signs of heatstroke, always call 911 immediately.

You can prevent heat exhaustion by being aware of symptoms anytime you are outdoors in hot weather and staying hydrated by drinking fluids before, during, and after any activity.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Hydrating Foods to Eat During Summer

During these hot, sticky dog days of summer, it’s important to stay hydrated. Overheating and dehydration can occur quickly, especially when exercising or participating in other outdoor activities in high temperatures.

 

While drinking enough water is the best way to stay hydrated, getting in the required eight glasses per day can sometimes seem daunting—and that amount increases when exercising or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat. The good news is that you don’t have to only drink water to meet your daily hydration needs. You can also get a lot of your daily water intake from foods that have a high water content, mainly fruits and vegetables.

A lot of these foods can be worked into other meals, such as adding a piece of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato to a burger or adding a couple of slices of cucumber to your water. And what tastes better in summer than sinking your teeth into a piece of juicy watermelon or ripe strawberries? In addition to their high water content, many of these foods also offer important vitamins and minerals and can help replace any electrolytes lost during exercise.

Don’t forgo drinking water entirely, but by working some of these hydrating foods into your daily diet, you will be less likely to get dehydrated when the temperatures are soaring.

Top 15 Most Hydrating Foods

  1. Cucumber
  2. Iceberg lettuce
  3. Celery
  4. Radishes
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Green peppers
  7. Watermelon
  8. Cantaloupe
  9. Strawberries
  10. Oranges
  11. Peaches
  12. Zucchini
  13. Cauliflower
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Broths and soups