Category Archives: Healthy Living

Some Things I’ve Learned in 2011…

This year I became much more cognizant of health. (I’m sure, in part, because I’m writing all of my thoughts and research about health right here!)

The process of staying healthy–the effort to eat well, make time for exercise, make better choices, and of course, get enough sleep–is NOT an easy proposition in this day and age.

If you read my last post on what Americans are eating these days, the food options we are choosing are not usually healthy ones. Exercise is often the last item on a daily calendar and somehow that “appointment” gets lost in the shuffle of life.  And sleep. One of my passions these days as a sleep consultant.  As my business has grown, I get A LOT of friends asking, “Does this work for adults too? I have insomnia [or some other sleep issue].” It seems that if we’re lucky enough to get to bed at a reasonable hour each night and able to get enough hours of shut, we’re in the minority.

I say let’s make health a priority for 2012!  There are a whole bunch of different resolutions floating around my house today…some are BIG and some are small, but ALL will contribute to a healthier you (or me):

1.  My husband and I are going back on the Phase 1 diet  after falling off the wagon over the holidays. A nice bonus is that you can quite easily shed those extra fruit cake pounds by eating whole foods.  Try it for 4 weeks. See if that lingering sinus infection or sore throat goes away, and if those migraines or lethargic feelings actually disappear. AND it’s actually LESS expensive (double duty for that financial resolution too!)

2. Drinking more water (including coconut water).  I think I need to be more aware of my hydration…my skin is DRY!

3. Going to bed (and waking up) at the same time every day.  If you read my post about Daylight Saving Time and that extra hour of sleep, you get a sense of the sleep debt we all are carrying around.  If you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, you have a sleep debt.  Try going to bed earlier every night for a week (not sleeping in a few hours on the weekend–that messes up your circadian rhythm) and see if that puts a dent in reducing your sleep debt.

4. Exercise more. I’ve mentioned that I’ve never had an issue with weight…which is actually a downside to being thin. Most people are motivated to exercise because they want to change the way they look. (If you’re someone who does it to get your insides in order too, good for you!) I often push exercise to the back burner when I’m busy. But I’m going to try to walk our dog more and actually get to the gym on a regular basis. I will never be a 5-6 times a week kind of exercise girl, but I should be able to pull off 3-4. That’s my goal.

5. Spending more quality time with my kids.  This year, we’ve had surgeries. Out-of-town guests. I’ve started a new business. I’m volunteering at church. I tutor math.  I make time for all of these things, and I should make more time to PLAY with my kids. Just 20 minutes each day makes such a difference. And not 20 minutes while you have one eye on your computer screen or are mentally reviewing your to-do list in your head. REALLY PLAYING, down on the floor, getting messy kind of play.

6. I try to have one “learning” resolution every year. This year it’ll be to more fully understand all of the computer “stuff” I’m using to grown my business.  I just got on twitter (@sleepbetterbaby) and am feeling like a grandma learning about # and retweets! There are so many things to do with a business Facebook page (mine is Sleep Training Solutions) and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  And Mailchimp.  That cute little monkey “spokesman” is taunting me these days because I’m not really sure how to use email distribution systems.

So those are my resolutions for the New Year. I hope they last into February (and beyond!) It feels productive to write them down and see them on paper (or computer screen). It doesn’t seem so daunting now that all of my IDEAS are a 6 item list.

So HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2012 be a year full of health and prosperous for all  🙂

Care to share your resolution(s)?

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What is the Average American Eating?

If you had to estimate how many pounds of food the average American eats per year, what would say?

[Average is a 5’9″ male or 5’4″ female, approximately 36.6 years old…]

Any guesses?

You’re going to be shocked.

Every year, the average American eats 1996.3 pounds of food…that’s almost 2 TONS?!

I recently came across a website that showed the number of POUNDS of food we are eating by food group. Being on the Phase 1 diet, I was especially interested to see how much food we eat that is NOT on the diet:

600 lb Dairy (non-cheese)
193 lb Wheat Products and cereal
56 lb Corn
141 lb Caloric sweeteners (including  42 lbs Corn Syrup)

990 lbs!? That’s almost HALF of what we’re eating for the whole year!  If you think like I do, that certain foods are actually medicinal (those with anti-fungal properties) and some actually encourage fungi to thrive (sugar, grains, peanuts, pistachios, corn), then it makes sense why we, as a society, are sicker than ever!

The research was broken down further to show the “really bad foods” too:

29 lbs of French fries
53 gallons of Soda
23 lbs of Pizza
24 lbs of Ice Cream

No wonder obesity is such an issue in our country.

I truly believe that people don’t understand that the foods they eat are directly impacting their bodies. The INSIDE of their bodies. People usually adopt healthy eating habits when they notice their pants are getting snug, but not necessarily when they get random tummy troubles or an increase in sinus infections.

It would be great if someone could invent an x-ray type machine that could show you what your insides really look like. I remember Oprah had Dr. Oz on a few years back and showed a large 15 pound piece of fat, what many Americans are carrying around their middle. Seeing that would make anyone want to diet. I think we all need these reality checks more often 🙂

 

 

 

Things Change

I am a creature of habit…

I have my daily routines.  There are appetizers and dinners that I make on a regular basis. If you look in my closet, it’s filled with jeans and MAYBE two or three colors of shirts and sweaters.

Maybe that makes me boring. Definitely not trendy! I think predictable is a more positive way of thinking about it 🙂

I was reminded today, though, that things do change, whether you want them to or not!

As I’ve mentioned before, we have a nut allergy in our house.  After the initial AHHHHHH, and spending 2 hours at the grocery store scouring the shelfs for nut-free items, I found my list of things I would be regularly buying for him.

And I’ve stuck to that list for about 5 years, with minor tweaks here and there.

But today, as I was picking up a loaf of bread, glancing quickly at the ingredient list as I always do to make sure there aren’t any new nut warnings, I found one!

It seems that MANY bread companies have nut warnings now.  Brownberry and Arnolds were safe a few weeks ago. Now they are made in a facility with walnuts and almonds.

Were they always make in the same factory with nuts and someone called them out on their labels? Maybe.

All I know is that I now have to buy a different kind of bread (as of today, Natural Ovens and Pepperidge Farms were still nut free) and I’ll have to reprogram reaching for the old loaf of bread for the next few trips to the store 🙂

If you are shopping for someone with a food allergy, please remember to check labels every time to buy an item.  Things can change overnight….

Deja Vu…

Strange deja vu moment today.

Back in September, right after my son had surgery, I wrote this post  about the government wanting to put restrictions on supplements.

And here we are again, shortly after his second surgery, and I get ANOTHER email request to take action and call government officials.

Clearly we need to stop the surgeries 🙂

This is an excerpt I got today from a Know the Cause email, written by Doug Kaufmann:

“I’m concerned that we have a dilemma on our hands with the FDA accepting funds from pharmaceutical companiesthose whom they should be governing rather than commingling with. At the very least, this represents a blatant conflict of interest. At worst, I am concerned that this improper relationship between our FDA and the pharmaceutical companies may be one of the very reasons that our FDA is now considering imposing legislation against the freedoms we enjoy in health food stores…”

I’m flabbergasted.  Why the FDA would want to partner up with the big pharm companies is beyond me.  No wait.  I do get it.  I just don’t agree with the money-driven motive…

This is the way I see it….Big pharm companies are annoyed that they can’t patent (and sell at a ridiculously inflated price) naturally occuring supplements/minerals, etc. like Chlorella. So they partner up with the FDA, slip this government agency some $$$, and buying supplements (that these pharmaceutical companies can’t make any money off of) becomes much more difficult. Does anyone else smell a skunk?

ANYWAY, there is a link to voice your concern:

http://www.anh-usa.org/fda-food-detention-powers-endanger-food-and-supplements (scroll down to the last paragraph right before the facebook share button and click on that link…it’ll bring you to a demographic form and prewritten letter.)

BUT the comments are only accepted through tomorrow–Friday, 12/2/11. So please don’t save this for a better time. Take 2 minutes and do it right now 🙂  This is a big deal!

 

What is Acrylamide?

It’s NOT a good thing!

Acrylamide is a toxic, colorless chemical compound that can form when certain foods are heated at high temperatures.  Reminds me of the post on grilling meat. Apparently cooking most foods at a high temperature is just plain bad for your health!

According to the FDA site, “Acrylamide is produced industrially for use in products such as plastics, grouts, water treatment products, and cosmetics. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.”  And it’s found in our food???

It was first discovered in food in 2002, but “they” suspect it has been always been present in foods that are roasted, baked or fried.

Like the HCAs that are produced when meat is cooked at high temps, acrylamide is formed when foods that come from plants (think potato, grains and coffee) are cooked at high temperatures.

What I found interesting on the FDA site was that there seem to be committees, research studies and action plans devoted to getting acrylamide out of our foods.  BUT, didn’t they explain that it isn’t caused by dangerous packaging or other industry protocols?  It’s user (read: cook) error.  (Or more accurately ignorance–have you ever heard of acrylamide?)  They can’t control how you prepare your food.  A better plan might be to devote their energy to educating the public on the dangers of consuming acrylamide and how to prevent (or at least reduce) exposure through different cooking techniques.  Just my two cents.

Dr. Mercola recently wrote an article on this very subject.  He mentioned one food that was “cancer in a can”.  He likes dramatic titles for his articles.  Anyway, if you have a few minutes to spare, it’s an interesting article.

So, show of hands…have you ever heard of this chemical before reading this post?  I hadn’t until I got the Mercola newsletter and did a little more investigating.  I’m guessing it isn’t common knowledge yet 🙂

One Extra Hour of Sleep

So did everyone enjoy that extra hour of shut-eye on Saturday night?

Considering my new career, I am interested in anything to do with sleep.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I’m now a Sleep Consultant for babies and young children!

In preparation for my 3-day training in Vancouver (when I got that crazy cold!), I read 1000s of pages on the topic of sleep.  I know more about Ferber, Weissbluth, Pantley, The Baby Whisperer and How to Become Baby Wise than I thought was humanly possible!  I can tell you why babies have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.  How parents can teach their children better sleep habits and finally start sleeping through the night. 

But I also learned about sleep in general and was particularly fascinated by our sleep debt.

What is sleep debt?  Imagine you are wearing a backpack.  Every hour that you either go to bed later or wake up earlier, you add a brick to your backpack.  If you are fairly consistent with the same wake-up and bed-times, you can usually “catch up” or get rid of your bricks by getting extra sleep over the weekend or going to bed a bit earlier during the week. But what if you are consistently depriving yourself of good, consolidated sleep?  Your backpack is going to get incredibly heavy and crush you!  Or you’ll walk around really slowly 🙂

One of the books I read for my pre-training was Sleep Thieves by Stanley Coren.  This book was a very interesting read! The main premise is that we, as a society, are operating on a fairly substantial sleep debt, and it affects everyone.  And most people don’t even know they have a sleep debt.  He has stories about truck drivers, pilot, teenagers, college students, to name a few. And the stories are eye-opening, and many make you think about sleep in a whole different way.

One story highlighted pulling all-nighters in college.  The student will stay up all night writing that 20-page paper or cramming for a final.  He is applauded by his parents and professor for his efforts, perseverance, and dedication and rewarded with a good grade.  But wasn’t the paper assigned a week ago (or longer)? And as for finals, those do tend to pop up at the end of every term pretty consistently!  He was basically praised for procrastinating?! When you look at it that way, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense…but that’s how our society operates. We are rewarded for output and results and if it compromises our health, so be it.

There were several ideas in the books like this…ones that made you think about a normal everyday situation in a different light.  He also had some pretty dramatic statistics.

One that stuck with me concerned Daylight Savings Time.  After the time change in the Fall (when we gain an hour of sleep), studies have shown a 7% decrease in traffic accidents?! And in the Spring, when we lose an hour, there is a 7% increase in traffic accidents!

I’m fascinated that one hour can have such a huge impact on our lives!  If one extra hour of sleep can have that profound of an effect on our society, it’s pretty scary to think about how sleep deprived we are as a nation!

Do you think you have a sleep debt? Do you wake up naturally at about the same time every day without an alarm clock? If so, you are probably getting enough sleep! But if you rely on that alarm clock 100% to get you up and out of the house on time, your backpack is probably overloaded with bricks.

What can you do to fix your sleep debt?  For at least a week, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, shooting for 8 hours of sleep each night.  If you’ve got a huge debt, you may actually need an hour or two beyond that.  Don’t bring your laptop and do work in your bed, or read that page-turner that you just can’t wait to finish. Watching tv in bed or talking to your best friend on the phone isn’t a great idea either.  When you get into bed, you should relax and not think about work or your to-do list!  Keep a pad and pen by your bed to write down anything that you don’t want to forget and then put it out of your mind for the rest of the night.

One final thought on the importance of sleep…Dr. William Dement, the leading sleep expert and author of The Promise of Sleep, explains: “Healthful sleep has been empirically proven to be the single most important factor in predicting longevity—more influential than diet, exercise, or heredity. And yet we are a sleep-sick society, ignorant of the facts of sleep and the price of sleep deprivation.”

I hope you’ll continue with your good sleeping habits, or change those bad habits ASAP! Sleep well everyone 🙂

I Guess I’m Human After All

It was inevitable.

8+ pounds of Halloween candy is currently sitting in cute plastic lack o’ lanterns on the dining table…and the candy is speaking to me.

Not screaming “Stay away!” or “I’m Not Good For You!”  Something more along the lines of a provocative whisper, “Oh, one little piece won’t kill you”.

I will be the first to admit that I have very little willpower.  If it’s in the house, I will probably eat it.  I was like this as a teenager (only worse) but at least now my head knows why I shouldn’t be eating it 🙂

I’m really not like this any other time of year.  Just Halloween.  But I suppose that’s because sweets aren’t in the house in such massive quantities any other time of the year. 

I should admit that over the last couple of weeks, I’ve fallen off the Phase 1 diet wagon.  (When you are following the diet more faithfully, the cravings are fairly non-existent.)  One more reason to hop back on…We’re having pork tenderloin with my new favorite sauce  tonight!

Anyway, that’s why I buy Halloween candy that I don’t like (read: non-chocolate).  No chance of breaking into the stash.  But when the kids start showing me the massive amounts of chocolate they’ve hauled in over the course of the night, my knees start to buckle.

MUST STAY STRONG.

Or sell the candy back to the dentist.

Which is exactly what we’re doing when the office opens tomorrow…

We did this last year and the kids each brought home crisp $10 bills–which to a 3 and 6 year old is like hitting the jackpot!

I’ll let them keep a few (preferably ones I don’t like 🙂 ) and we’ll get rid of the rest.  If you happen to be in the same predictment, here’s a site to find a local dentist who will relieve you of your stash:

http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/

The candy collected is sent to troops overseas.  Along with a new toothbrush 🙂

So what are you planning on doing with the abundance of candy at your house?  Planning on eating it over the next 6 months (or week!) or do you have another way to get rid of the sugary stuff without actually consuming it yourself?