Monthly Archives: May 2015

Does being social help you lose more weight?

One of the questions we often receive here at incentaHEALTH is “What’s the secret to losing weight, and keeping it off?”

Of course the simple answer is HEAL: Healthy Eating and Active Living!  If you can find ways to eat better (my most effective thing is to remember to control my portion sizes) and move  your body more (take the stairs!) you should start to see changes in your energy level and your health.  But if you’re looking for additional ways to stack the odds in your favor, then read on.

After analyzing the performance of thousands of participants in our community program,  Weigh and Win, we recently noticed that people using our team challenges tend to lose more weight.  And those that decide to be the captain of a team have even more success.

People who join the team challenge lose more weight
People who join the team challenge lose more weight

Why is this happening?  One theory is that the very act of promising to your friends that you’re going to try to get in shape increases your commitment to change.  This “social contract” with your family and friends provides a bit more motivation to put down that donut and pick up an apple.  And if you take on the role of team captain and organizer, then you’re given an extra helping of social accountability.  Everyone is watching!

apple-donut

Team challenges aren’t for everyone.  But if you don’t mind a little fun and competition with your weight loss journey, then you might want to give one of our team challenges a try!

Good luck!

Written by: Todd McGuire, CTO incentaHEALTH

Healthy Memorial Day Tips & Tricks

Are you ready for the three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer?  Whether you’re planning on gardening, playing a game outside or getting your grill on, here’s some healthy advice to making your Memorial Day the best for your healthy and active lifestyle!

Grill Without the Guilt

Add some more fruits and vegetables to the grill to get more antioxidants out of your typical barbeque meal. Try grilling zucchini, onions, bell peppers, pears and pineapples to add some unique and healthy flavors to your plain old burgers.

Choose leaner cuts of meat for grilling. Make sure excess fat is trimmed to reduce the amount of fat dripping onto the grill. Choose meats like skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey instead of ground beef, or even fresh fish

Marinade, marinade, marinade! This gives flavor to leaner cuts of meat without adding more fat. Choose healthier marinating options like the use of less sodium sauces, vinegars, or even fresh citrus juices like lemons, limes and oranges.

Get Active While Soakin’ Up Some Sun

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the opening of pools and water parks to help deal with the long and hot weather days. Take the time to go for a swim or even play around at a water park to increase your vitamin D intake.

Avoid the holiday weekend traffic by going for a bike ride instead. If avoiding the driving traffic is an option, try going for a walk or a bike ride somewhere instead of sitting in the hot car if at all possible. With bike riding becoming more and more popular,  bicycle friendly states are starting to help bikers out a bit when it comes to safety with improved road conditions and more signage for cars to share the road.

dad and kid biking smaller

Make the most out of the weekend by enjoying time together with friends and family. Whether it’s playing backyard games together, walking around at a festival or just enjoying the beautiful spring scenery, enjoy the time spent with each other and don’t make food the main focus of this special weekend.

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach

Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health

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!

6-tips-for-better-sleep

Exercise Injury Prevention

Along with the warmer temperatures comes more outdoor physical activity. Since May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month let’s review what you should practice to ensure proper exercise technique and avoid injury at all costs. Let’s face it, no one wants to be locked up inside with an injury during the summer months!

Proper Warm-up and Cool-down

A proper warm-up prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing the heart rate and loosening the muscles and joints. A warm-up should include light movement to get your blood flowing. Start out at a low intensity and slowly work up to the intensity of your workout. Some good warm-up activities would be a light jog, bike, jump rope, or plyometric exercises like high knees or leg swings if you are planning on participating in a sport that requires a lot of agility movements like baseball, football, basketball, etc.

A cool-down is important for slowly bringing your heart rate back down to a normal level. Many of the same activities you perform during a warm-up can also be done as a cool-down (i.e. light jog, bike, etc.) You can also incorporate stretching into your cool-down routine. Focus on the muscles you primarily worked during your workout and slowly stretch these muscles and hold for approximately 10-20 seconds.

Walking

Ease Into It

When you begin a new exercise routine, it is very important to start slowly. As you become more comfortable with the movements and your body is more comfortable with the strain being put on it you can then gradually build up the intensity, duration, and frequency.

Listen to Your Body

Only do what feels comfortable to your body and do not push yourself further once you feel uncomfortable. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and if what starts out as a small issue is repeatedly stressed, or not given proper rest, it may lead to a more severe injury.

Hydration and Nutrition

It is important to stay hydrated during a workout to avoid becoming light headed or passing out. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you work out. A good general rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water about 20 minutes before working out and another full glass of water after your workout. Along with hydrating yourself before and after your workout, you should also be drinking water frequently throughout the duration of your workout.

Aside from staying hydrated you also should be eating before and after activity in order to provide your body with nutrients and to refuel energy stores.  Practice eating a small meal or snack every couple hours throughout the day. After your workout, be sure to consume a quality carbohydrate and protein to replenish your energy body.

Hydration

Proper Equipment

Before you start any type of activity, make sure you have the proper equipment required for the specific activity. Proper clothing and footwear is the most important. Consider light weight or dry-fit type of material when you know you will be exercising to the point of perspiration. Also, make sure the shoes you have are right for the activity you are participating in. If you are a runner, you should replace your shoes every year or every 500 miles (whichever comes first) to maintain proper support and traction.

Vary Your Activity

Make sure you vary your workout. Do not overuse one muscle group because overuse can lead to injuries such as tendonitis or shin splints. Make sure you include rest days in your workout routine to allow your muscles time to rebuild.

Proper Form

Practicing proper form is very important. Something as small as leaning too far forward or having your feet too far apart can end in injury. Make sure you research the proper form for each activity you plan to do and if you are still unsure you can always contact one of your incentaHEALTH Health Coaches who would love to help answer any of your exercise related questions!

 Written by:   Deanne Emig,  Health Coach