News That Makes You Feel Good
Diabetic kindergartner sells homegrown pumpkins to pay for his diabetic-alert service dog. Read more here and keep spreading the ‘good’!
Want a “quick fix” that actually works: improve your sleep to improve all aspects of your health. Just like your phone charges each night for reliable use the next day, your body needs to charge or it will start to break down- in more ways than one! You can buy a new phone battery if you don’t take care of it, but you cannot buy a new body. If you can in the future, then I assume it is expensive.
The good news is that once you improve your sleeping habits, many other areas of your life will start to improve. It is the gift that keeps on giving! For example, choosing the right foods, engaging in activity and concentrating at work will become much easier. When we don’t get enough sleep, then we don’t have enough energy. When the body doesn’t have enough energy for the demands of the day, it will start to crave low quality, processed foods because these foods have quick-release energy. Before we know it, sugar and unhealthy fats will become a stable in the diet just to get us through the physical and mental activities of the day.
Brian Sanderoff P.D,director of the Well Being Healing Center and Holistic Pharmacy in Hunt Valley, Maryland, states that “the reason sleep is so important is because it is when we are asleep that we create Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH is thought to be the “anti-aging” hormone; and is responsible for muscle building, tissue regeneration, liver regeneration, the breakdown of fat cells and blood sugar regulation.”
How much sleep we need varies between individuals but generally changes as we age. The National Institutes of Health suggests that adults need 7-8 hours each night. Here are some tips to start improving your sleeping habits today!
Every year on April 22 we celebrate Earth Day and the importance of protecting our environment. Maybe you started recycling or swapped plastic water bottles for a reusable one in the past few years. This year, celebrate Earth Day by improving your health and the Earth. Here are six things you can do:
Bike or Walk Instead of Driving
With warmer weather here, take the opportunity to enjoy more time outdoors and consider walking or biking instead of driving. Try bike commuting or taking public transportation to work once a week or walking to a nearby restaurant or store instead of always driving. This will cut back on emissions (better for Earth) and help you burn extra calories (better for you).
Plant a Garden
Home grown vegetables taste better. Consider planting a small outdoor garden, and then you’ll have access to delicious and healthy vegetable right in your backyard.
Eat Local Produce
Don’t have a green thumb? Visit a Farmer’s Market or make a point to buy local produce available at the grocery store. Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get your plate. This uses a large amount of natural resources and contributes to pollution. Buying local produce (or growing your own) means your food will travel a shorter distance to get to your plate.
Go Meatless on Mondays
Reducing the amount of meat you consume can help lower your risk for preventable diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The effect on the environment can be huge. It is estimated that nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gases come from the meat industry and as much as 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef! If a four–person family skips meat one day a week for an entire year, it’s like taking your car off the road for almost three months, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Eat Safe Seafood
Seafood is a great low-calorie, high-protein food source. Many types of seafood are also high in heart healthy omega-3. However, you want to make sure the seafood you’re eating is healthy for you and the environment. Make a point to eat seafood that is low in mercury and doesn’t have environmental problems like overfishing. Visit www.fishwatch.gov to help guide your seafood purchases.
Waste Less Food
Nearly one-third of food production for human consumption is wasted or lost. That is 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year. Not only are we wasting food, we’re wasting the energy used to produce, grow and transport that food. Help cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, making more trips to the grocery store and cooking appropriate portions.
Emotional eating is using food to fill an emotional need rather than to fulfill a physical hunger.
People often say they have “fallen off the wagon”, meaning they made positive lifestyle changes and then life got in the way and they slipped back into their unhealthy routines. This situation seems to be common, however, there is actually no such thing as “falling off the wagon,” simply because there is no wagon to begin with.
Everyone has their struggles and their bad days. It’s important to know that health is not a destination that you arrive at; it’s a journey and a lifestyle that you consciously work for every day. Try to make small improvements and learn from your mistakes to become the healthiest version of yourself.
Emotional Hunger v. Physical Hunger
5 STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME
Strategy 1: Set up a Healthy Home Environment
Emotional eating is often automatic and mindless. If you plan ahead and prepare a healthy home environment, you are setting yourself up for success. Next time you are in an emotional state, you will be less likely to reach for the comfort of food.
Three things to help you set up a healthy home environment:
Clean out your fridge or pantry
If you don’t have unhealthy foods in your house, then you’ve created a buffer for emotional eating.
Rearrange your fridge and pantry
Behavioral studies have shown that foods in visible sight or at eye level are more likely to be eaten. Keep your “treats” hidden away in a drawer and the healthy options front and center.
Portion out your food
Did you know eating from a smaller diameter plate will give you different brain reactions? For example, switching from an 8 inch plate to a 4 in plate might be a helpful tip to control overeating. Also, portion out food that comes from a bag, like chips or nuts, and put them in a smaller bowl when eating.
Strategy 2: Identify Triggers & Bad Eating Habits
What situations or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Are you eating comfort foods at a certain time of day or after certain interactions?
Two tips to help you identify your triggers and bad eating habits:
Think about the why
Next time you feel yourself reaching for food for a reason other than physical hunger, stop and think about the reason WHY you are reaching for that food. Is it because you had a stressful day at work? Is it because you had a fight with a friend?
Common emotional triggers are stress, comfort after a bad day, anxiety and depression.
Keep a food and mood journal
Log what you’re eating and what your emotions were. Tracking these instances and identifying triggers are an important step for changing unhealthy behaviors. A food journal is meant to be temporary. Once you’ve identified your bad eating habits and improve upon them, feel free to ditch the journal and eat in a natural and healthy way.
Strategy 3: Pause When Cravings Hit
When you find yourself craving something, take time to pause and think about it and give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision. When you have a specific craving, ask yourself “Am I hungry? Or am I actually bored or stressed?”
Think back to the emotional triggers you have identified. Then ask yourself another question: Is there a better way to address whatever emotion I am feeling, instead of turning to food.
Two things to help yourself during a moment of craving:
Take a breather
Wait five minutes instead of immediately indulging. If you need to, set a timer. Tell yourself to wait and see if you still want that food after you have time to clear your mind and think rationally.
Think past the craving
How will you feel after you give into your craving? Will you feel better? Will you feel worse? Will it address your problem or the emotion you’re feeling? Most likely, the answer will be no.
Strategy 4: Find a New Outlet Besides Food
Once you’ve identified what is causing you to eat emotionally, finding a different outlet for that emotion is the next step.
A few things to try:
Find an alternative activity to eating
Find a physical alternative to eating. Try going for a walk, working out, reading a book, playing a game with your children, or some other fulfilling hobby.
Studies have shown that as little as five minutes of nature can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem. Get outside, take a walk and breathe in the fresh air.
Talk about it
Holding in feelings of stress or anxiety is only going to make you feel more stressed or anxious. When you’re distressed, find someone you can talk to about your emotions, whether that is a spouse, a friend, a co-worker or a pet. Talking about it and venting can be a powerful emotional release.
Strategy 5: Improve Overall Health & Well Being
If you’re well-rested and healthy, it will be easier to handle day-to-day obstacles that may otherwise have derailed you from your health goals.
Focus on what you’re doing to improve your overall health.
Healthy Foods = Healthy You
Maintain a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, quality carbohydrates and healthy fats. Keep your body hydrated with water and not sugary drinks.
Make daily exercise a priority. Staying active doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym. You can incorporate activity into your day: take the stairs, go for a walk, play with your kids. Exercise releases endorphin and can be a powerful mood booster and increase your overall energy levels.
Stay well rested
When you’re sleeping, your body is repairing itself. When you’re not well rested, you feel sluggish and tired and are less likely to stick to your health routines.
Find your “me” time to relax and decompress. Set aside even just 10-15 minutes a day to relax and do something you enjoy, whether that’s going for a walk, meditating, reading a book or watching a TV show.
Make meaningful connections
Studies have shown people with strong social connections live longer, so maybe laughter is one of the best forms of medicine after all! Make time for friends and family and spend time together in a meaningful way.
Stress is a part of almost everyone’s life. In fact, 35% of Americans said their stress has increased in the past year and 62% say their job is the main point of stress. Chronic stress can have an impact on your physical and mental health. It can lower your immunity, cause sleeplessness and headaches, and make you feel anxious and angry. The negative effects and feelings associated with stress can pile up, so learning to cope and deal with it is important.
5 Tips for Managing Stress
1. Learn to Say No
A healthy work-life balance is important. Learn to say no to things in your personal and professional life. An overloaded schedule is a sure-fire way to increase stress.
2. Manage Your Time Better
When you’re running behind for an appointment or a deadline is looming your stress levels are going to sky-rocket. Learn to manage your time, plan ahead and stay focused on one thing at a time.
3. Stay Positive
Next time you feel stressed and negativity starts to take hold, pause and take a moment to think about all the good things in your life.
4. Learn to Move On
Things that are out of our control, like the actions of other people, can be a huge cause of stress. While you can’t control everything or everyone, you can control how you react.
5. Find a Healthy Outlet
Find a way to unwind and let go of your stress at the end of the day. For some that’s running or yoga, others it’s taking a hot bath or meditating. Talking about your feelings, laughing at a funny movie, and getting outdoors are all healthy outlet options. Find an outlet that works for you.
Happy Opening Day! In addition to the fresh air, cheering, and the excitement of the game – ballpark food and beer are a part of the experience. Just because you’re at a game doesn’t mean you have to toss your healthy habits aside nor does it mean you have to deny yourself a treat. Here are a few ways to make your next game a healthier experience.
- Avoid the Nachos
You’re looking at more than 1,200 plus calories! If it’s your favorite item, try sharing the order with a group of friends.
- Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
Buttery popcorn isn’t your best option. Go for a box of Cracker Jacks, which has only about 120 calories compared to over 1,000 for popcorn.
- Swap the Burger for Chicken
Once you add the cheese and toppings, the calorie-count can sky-rocket. Opt for a leaner protein and eat the grilled chicken sandwich instead.
- A Healthier Dog
It’s the toppings that are a nutrition killer. I’m looking at you Bacon and Blue Dogs. Select a regular size hot dog and toppings like relish and onions. Ketchup can be high in sugar, so reach for the mustard instead.
- Load Up On Vegetables
There are plenty of vegetarian options throughout most baseball stadiums like wraps, sandwiches, salads, and veggie dogs and burgers. Check out places that have a make your own salad option. Remember to skip the cheese and select a non-creamy dressing.
- Limit Your Beverage Intake
Whether it is beer or soda, try to limit yourself to only one or two beverages.
- Pack a Lunch
Did you know that most stadiums allow you to bring your own food? Pack a healthy picnic lunch or snack, plus bottles of water.
Add More Activity Into Your Game Day
- Bike to the Game
Avoid the parking hassle and burn extra calories by biking to the game. Utilize the bike lanes throughout the area if they are available and be prepared for the weather.
- Take a Lap
Don’t just walk to your seats, take a lap around the stadium in between innings.
- 7thInning Stretch
Avoid sitting the whole game and take your own 7th inning stretch by standing up, stretching and moving around. Walk up and down the stairs a few times to get some blood flowing to your legs.
The best approach for a healthier Easter: shift your focus to the meaning of Easter and the nonfood traditions behind the holiday. Then, once you’re looking at the bigger picture — not just candy-filled Easter baskets — you can figure out how to get the best out of your “Easter Eggs.”
Plan for Sweets
Make smarter choices elsewhere in the day to allow for a small splurge later. Remember, Easter is only one day so try to only indulge on those chocolate eggs on Sunday and not ruin the rest of the week! Some chocolate can be good for you but try buying small, individually wrapped chocolate eggs and avoid the giant chocolate bunnies, no matter how cute they are.
Break an Egg
One of the big heart myths is that eggs contain harmful cholesterol. However, eggs aren’t a problem unless they are fried in oil or loaded up with cheese. For a filling and healthy start to your day try a boiled, poached or scrambled egg loaded with fresh vegetables.
Don’t Come to Dinner Hungry
Try snacking on some of those colorful hard-boiled eggs you may have made earlier — one large egg has around 76 calories. It’s a filling and nutritious option before the big meal.
When has there ever been a shortage of food or drinks at holiday events? Eat and drink slowly and allow your brain to catch up to your stomach.
Plan fun activities with your family and friends to stay active and motivated over the weekend: go for a walk, run, swim, bike ride, kick a ball around, whatever you like… just move that body and enjoy the time spent together!
Rethink the Easter Basket
Nontraditional gifts such as jewelry, books, and clothing are even more appreciated than those sugary little peeps. Who wouldn’t love seeing a Fitbit in their Easter basket?!
Consider Making Healthy Meal Substitutions
Try serving chocolate covered strawberries instead of a carrot cake or even steamed carrots instead of honey glazed carrots. Add in more vegetables and make sure to savor every bite!
Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach
Get to know another one of your incentaHEALTH health coaches, Rachel. She is the newest member of the incentaHEALTH team who moved from Chicago Illinois to Denver less than 3 years ago. Want to know more about your health coaches? Email or call us!
Name: Rachel Corcoran
Years with incentaHEALTH: One
Years as a Fitness Trainer/Health Coach: Three
Education: I graduated from the University of Iowa as a Division 1 gymnast with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health & Sports Studies, emphasizing in Health Promotion. GO HAWKS!!
Certifications: ACE Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist
Hobbies: Camping, hiking, running, yoga, cooking, listening to music, Frisbee, arts and crafts, fitness/boot camp classes
The Best Advice I Have to Offer:
There is no excuse that is too large to overcome.
Whether you’re young or old, have bad knees or too little time, a healthier lifestyle can always be achieved. Some people would consider these things as setbacks but there are always ways of achieving your goals. Even the smallest amount of progress is still progress. My best advice is to keep striving for change and always keep trying to be a better you. Setting little goals along the way will help you to stay focused and motivated on always becoming healthier. Don’t do it for the physical changes, but to become healthier, live longer and not only limit your health conditions, but lower your risk for preventable diseases.
Are you ready to show your Irish pride on St. Patrick’s Day? What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland is now an all day festival celebrating Irish culture with extravagant parades and a whole lot of green. incentaHEALTH encourages you to continue to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with a whole lot of greens, but maybe a little less green beer and more green leafy veggies!
Leafy greens are one of the most hormonally healing foods in this world because they have the most nutrition per calorie, they keep you satisfied for longer, and the calories are much less likely to be stored as body fat. These foods are natural health boosting and fat burning medicines that you won’t need to purchase over the counter- unless it’s a grocery store counter!
Most nutrition per calorie
I hope we can all agree that 250 calories from Twinkies is not the same as 250 calories from Spinach. Calories are very different in foods when it comes to nutrition and keeping our body healthy long-term. The key is nutrition QUALITY. Quality is based on how much nutrition (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids) you get for the amount of calories you consume.
Keep you satisfied for longer
Leafy greens are packed with high amounts of water, fiber and protein. More water and fiber means bigger food, more stretch, and getting fuller and staying fuller for longer. That is why 200 calories of wet, fibrous celery is more filling then 200 calories of dry, fiber-free gummy bears. A calorie is not a calorie when it comes to filling us up and keeping us full throughout the day. For example, I bet a six-pack of green beer would make you want to grab a pizza later in the day.
Unaggressive in being stored as fat
Leafy greens produce a very small amount of glucose, which is the blood sugar released during digestion to bring energy to cells. Aggressive calories in certain starchy and sugary foods will cause too much insulin to be released. Body fat storage is triggered as a response to eating foods that causes more glucose in our blood stream then we need at one time.
Arugula, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Collards, Dandelion Greens, Kale, Leaf Amaranth, Leeks, Mixed greens, Mustard Greens, Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Turnip Greens…and the list goes on! Pick a few for dinner this week and celebrate good health and St. Patrick’s Day.
Written by: Mallory McCormick, Health Coach
What’s your reason for not sticking with your New Year’s resolution to become more active this year? For a majority their reason is they are “too busy” and demanding work schedules are the number one culprit. With technology advancements, many jobs have moved from being physically demanding to sedentary. Just because most of us work in an office or a cubical doesn’t mean we can’t continue to keep our bodies fit. Try some of these ideas for staying active while at work and finally get yourself moving toward a true state of health!
Take the stairs – Skip the elevator and take the stairs whenever possible. If it’s too cold to take your daily walk, agree to climb the stairs instead!
Stand at your desk – Try this while on one of those long conference calls you dread each week. You can even add in some squats or calf raises! You may want to mute the phone if you find yourself getting out of breath.
Park further away – Park your car at the top of the parking garage or at the back of the parking lot and enjoy your walk into the office each morning.
Move around the office more – Get up out of your seat and personally deliver messages rather than calling or emailing your coworkers down the hall.
Incorporate activity into your day- Try to incorporate some body weight exercises each day. Set an alarm to go off each hour and take 60 seconds to complete one set of each of the following exercises:
1. Squats or wall sits – Challenge yourself to see how many squats you can do in one minute or if you can hold your wall sit for an entire minute.
2. Calf raises – You can do these standing or seated. To add resistance while sitting, place a couple books or other heavy object on your knees.
3. Push-ups (on the floor, wall, or desk) – How many push-ups can you do without stopping? Challenge your coworkers!
4. Plank (on the floor, wall, or desk) – Can you hold a plank for an entire minute? As time goes by try improving on your past time!
5. Tricep dips (on your desk or chair) – If you are doing these on your chair make sure it’s secure or backed up to a wall so it does not move.
6. Sit-ups – Many variations of sit-ups can be done in the office. Bring in a towel or yoga mat to lay on.
Written by: Deanne Emig, Health Coach