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November 25, 2008

Fitness: Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful!

Snow I woke up this morning to beautiful, freshly fallen snow...and ice underneath...and freezing temperatures. It's easy to let less than desirable weather become an excuse to stay indoors and skip that daily walk. But giving up a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be the only answer when the rain is pouring or the snow is swirling.

On days like today, I like to have a little arsenal of "back up" activites, like a fun workout video, high-energy cd, or game to play, locked away specifically for my rainy days. Days like today are perfect for feeling like a kid again and focusing on that intrinsic movement!

Posted by meredith beckman on November 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 21, 2008

Fitness: A Case of the Fridays

Dog You’ve heard of having a ‘case of the Mondays,’ right? Well, I find I’m more likely to fall under the influence of Friday rather than Monday. On the first day of the weekend, the last thing I want to do is pencil a workout into my last-day-of-the-week schedule. Because everyone suffers at one time or another from lack of motivation in terms of moving their bodies, I’ve put together a nice list of ideas to prevent throwing in the towel entirely on such days.

1. Make plans with a workout buddy. I’ve recently been working out with a friend five days a week, and am proud to announce I’ve only missed one workout this week…and felt horribly guilty about leaving her hanging that day. Though I wasn’t always excited before the workout, I never walked away regretting it.
2. Choose recreation. Have an activity planned especially for low motivation days that’s nothing but fun. Play with your dog, go dancing with friends, or maybe even go shopping – power walking from store to store of course.
3.Create the perfect playlist. If you’re like me, the perfect lineup of tunes can get you through almost anything…and probably even help you enjoy it. Having an arsenal of playlists with different genres of music can help you feel satisfied with what you’re hearing while in any type of mood.
4. Plan a reward. The right incentive can go a long way. A movie night with the girls, that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, or giving yourself permission to sleep in an hour later the next morning might be all you need to push through your workout.
5. Phone a friend. I have a girlfriend that I can call up at any time who is prepared to motivate me at the first sign of giving in. Awhile back I told her I needed her to be that motivational buddy who I can pull from whenever I need an extra push. She’s never failed me.

Of course, some days our bodies really need a break. It's most important to enjoy movement and listen to our body's cues...even if that means hitting the hay early and moving tomorrow when it can truly be enjoyed.

Posted by meredith beckman on November 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 19, 2008

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Tips to Guarantee Holiday Weight Gain

The annual holiday food fight is about to begin.  You know, the one where conflicted women nationwide (even worldwide) face down rich-food eating traditions.

This year, to help women understand what doesn’t work when it comes to happy holidays, the healthy-weight experts at Green Mountain at Fox Run have come up with some sure-fire tips to take the guesswork out of gaining those holiday pounds.  We counter them with sensible advice for emerging from the holidays feeling great.

For Guaranteed Holiday Weight Gain

Before the Holidays

·      Diet! Diet! Diet!  Let’s face it, you expect to overeat during the holidays so why not get a jump on weight loss now?  If you’re feeling truly ambitious, try dieting during the holidays, too; the deprivation will be highly effective at driving you to overeat.  Our real advice:  Learn to eat what you want now in a way that leaves you feeling great.  Then the holidays won’t pose any special challenge, and you can enjoy them fully.

·      Work out extra hard and long every day.  You can make up for those times during the holidays when you won’t want or have the time to do anything.  Our real advice:  When we overdo on exercise, we’re more likely to burn out, or worse yet, injure ourselves, and guarantee we don’t want to do anything.  Slow and steady wins the race.

·      Start weighing yourself daily.  You’ll be able to follow your weight up and down the scale, and cut back even more when you’ve gained an ounce.  Then you’ll heighten your feelings of deprivation even more, further guaranteeing holiday overindulgenceOur real advice:  Toss out the scale now and for always.  It generally doesn’t give the instant gratification we seek, and often negatively impacts our motivation to take care of ourselves.

During the Holidays

·      Take on as much work as you can.  If you don’t do it, who will?  The holidays just aren’t the holidays without all the fuss!  Our real advice:  Choose wisely in what you commit to.  You may end up with fewer or simpler celebrations but you’ll enjoy the holidays much more.

·      Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel guilty about eating.  It’s easier to say ‘no’ when your spouse, mother, sister, daughter, friend looks disapprovingly at you as you reach for that wonderful holiday sprinkled cookie.  Our real advice:  Educate family and friends about the real impact of their attempts to control what you eat.  If they won’t listen, minimize your time around them when you’re eating.  It may mean missing a party or meal, but you might feel much better as a result.

·      Forget about stress management for now.  You’re too busy!! Just focus on getting what you need to get done.  And be sure to really have too much to do before big parties.  If you can pick a fight with your spouse on the way to a party, all the better to guarantee extra emotional overeatingOur real advice:  Take care of yourself physically and mentally to help keep a balanced view on what’s important during busy times.  Maybe the easiest thing to do:  Get some exercise! Physical activity refreshes, relaxes, revitalizes and will add energy and enthusiasm to your life.  Make it a regular part of your day during the holidays and after.

Before & During Parties

·      Make sure every social event revolves around food.  If you throw the party yourself, make too much food, especially desserts!  Set up nuts and other goodies early so you can pick at them all day long while you skip meals.  You do eat fewer calories that way, right?  Our real advice:  Traditional foods are a big part of festivities, but holidays don’t have to be all about food.  Plan fun activities such as pumpkin bowling (knock down gourd ‘pins’ with small pumpkins), a pine cone toss (count how many pine cones you can land inside a hula hoop) or just fun and refreshing walks through the woods, around the neighborhood talking to friends you pass.

·      Set a ‘hands-off’ rule for all the rich foods you’ll encounter.  If you just say ‘no,’ you’ll be able to nip any weight gain in the bud!  Our real advice:  When we forbid foods or label them ‘bad,’ we set ourselves up for overeating them.  Again, learn to eat foods you love – even those rich in calories, fat, sugar – in a manner that makes you feel well.  That way, you’ll enjoy them and, if you’re following a healthy lifestyle, you’ll enjoy a healthy weight, too.

·      Go ahead and buy all those goodies on sale in jumbo packages.  They’re for your guests; they won’t create any problem for you having them around.  Our real advice:  Good intentions aside, mere exposure to food often sets us up for wanting to at least taste it, especially if we’ve got the idea we shouldn’t.  Help yourself by buying only as much as you really need, and even then, it might help to keep goodies tucked out of sight in the pantry until party time. 

·      Bank calories whenever possible.  Skip breakfast and lunch to make sure you’ll overeat at the party.  Our real advice: Feeding yourself well all the time leaves you better nourished and able to choose wisely whether at parties or the food court at the mall.

Posted by Marsha on November 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 18, 2008

Fitness: Yoga for Peace of Body and Mind

Yoga Sunset This is the time of year when things seem to begin to spiral out of control. Stress builds with the approach of the holidays, visits from family and friends, the end of the work year, making travel plans, and of course the many celebrations centered around food and drink, making mindful eating difficult. As I began thinking about my own personal quest to try not to let my fitness and health slip during these few months, I landed on the idea that maybe it wasn’t just my body that would need the extra attention.

During one particularly busy semester in college – two jobs on top of seven classes – I created a very acute fitness plan for myself. Every day I carved out 30 minutes somewhere for a yoga session, supplemented only with my daily treks across campus. Aside from keeping me in shape, I was more focused and clear-headed than ever before, even with the many responsibilities I held.

With stress being a major contributor to a wide array of health problems, a workout that creates peace in the body, mind, and spirit might have far more benefits than one may think. This holiday season, why not couple a workout with some major stress reduction? Try bringing some peace to your body and mind with yoga!  

Posted by meredith beckman on November 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 14, 2008

Fitness: Forget the Workout – Let’s Play!

Dancing Girl A girlfriend of mine called the other day, unfortunately just missing me, and left a feel-good voicemail. She heard a man on the radio talking about recreation as re-creating ourselves. Because recreation for fitness and intrinsic movement are such powerful components of the healthy lifestyle program at Green Mountain, it really hit home. Finding an activity we really love – in the way that it re-creates our most genuine self – is such a big idea.

At the end of a long day this week, I popped in a CD, and began to work on some choreography for a Zumba class I would be teaching later in the week. Zumba is a fantastic outlet for me, in that dancing and music have always made my “Favorites” list. It’s still something I have to learn, however, and I just couldn’t seem to de-stress with it that day. I tossed in a different CD with a few of my newest favorite songs, and just began to throw out whatever choreography came, whatever the music inspired. Forty minutes later, I was more breathless than I’d been in nearly a month…and I hadn’t even noticed. I was lost in true self-expression, in passionately exhibiting everything in my unique makeup. It was more than enjoyment…it was the satisfaction that only comes from being wholly honest in participating in an activity that brings us sincere joy. When we find something like that, the parts of us that sometimes get hidden are allowed to come out, re-creating us.

Someone once told me that you can learn everything you need to know about that person by watching the way they play the sport they care about. I think you can learn by watching the way the play, period. In a country where a majority of working men and women list work as their biggest stressor, I think the idea of play gets lost, which is quite sad when you consider this entire discussion. If we never take the time to re-create the part of us we love most, we may start to lose touch with who we really enjoy being.

So get fit to play, because playing will keep you fit!

Posted by meredith beckman on November 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 05, 2008

Women's Healthy Lifestyles: Self-Esteem & Loving Ourselves

We've written a lot about self-esteem and self-acceptance over the years we've had this blog.  The issue is that we spend our time apologizing for who we are because we are ashamed or otherwise feel bad about our body size.  But for the last 36+ years, we at Green Mountain at Fox Run have been trying to move women beyond the issue of body size and women's weight loss.  We have always proclaimed that we are much more than our body size and to be successful in achieving a healthy lifestyle and living a healthy, happy life, we need to like ourselves for who we are, regardless of our body size.  Thelma, our founder, began our program with the phrase "You're going to like you!"  Sounds simplistic but is so at the core of the issue.

Pat Ballard, self-described "Queen of Rubenesque Romance Novels," recently published a non-fiction book titled "10 Steps to Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are)."  Check out the 10 steps to building your self-esteem independent of body size.  Here's her tenth tip that I think rings true for all of us as we traverse this challenging journey called life.

But most of all, you have to love yourself. When you love yourself, others will love you and respond to you in the exact manner as you feel about yourself.

Posted by Marsha on November 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 04, 2008

Women Under The Influence - Rock The Vote!

Make your voice heard, it's a privilege and a right.1026145_stars_and_stripes

I believe that the influence of woman will save the country before every other power. - Lucy Stone

... even if the right to vote brought to women no better work, no better pay, no better conditions in any way, she should have it for her own self-respect and to compel man’s respect for her. - Susan B. Anthony

... we are not dreamers or fanatics; and we know that the ballot when we get it, will achieve for woman no more than it has achieved for man.... The ballot is not even half the loaf; it is only a crust—a crumb. The ballot touches only those interests, either of women or men, which take their root in political questions. But woman’s chief discontent is not with her political, but with her social, and particularly her marital bondage. - Laura Bullard

... today we round out the first century of a professed republic,—with woman figuratively representing freedom—and yet all free, save woman. - Phoebe W. Couzins

... while one-half of the people of the United States are robbed of their inherent right of personal representation in this freest country on the face of the globe, it is idle for us to expect that the men who thus rob women will not rob each other as individuals, corporations and Government. - Susan B. Anthony

In the courts women have no rights, no voice; nobody speaks for them. I wish woman to have her voice there among the pettifoggers. If it is not a fit place for women, it is unfit for men to be there. - Sojourner Truth

No matter how well-born, how intelligent, how highly educated, how virtuous, how rich, how refined, the women of to-day constitute a political class below that of every man, no matter how base-born, how stupid, how ignorant, how vicious, how poverty-stricken, how brutal. - Mary Putnam Jacobi

So long as State constitutions say that all may vote when twenty-one, save idiots, lunatics, convicts and women, you are brought down politically to the level of those others disfranchised. - Susan B. Anthony

The right to vote, or equal civil rights, may be good demands, but true emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in courts. It begins in woman’s soul. - Emma Goldman

Women have had the vote for over forty years and their organizations lobby in Washington for all sorts of causes; why, why, why don’t they take up their own causes and obvious needs? - Dorothy Thompson

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Posted by Cindy on November 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 31, 2008

Fitness: Stretching - The Magic Bullet?

Circle What if I told you I knew a way you could increase your annual salary by 30 percent? Perhaps you’d be more interested if I told you I could make your food 30 percent more satisfying. Maybe I’d have your attention if I could convince you that the same strength-training routine you’ve been doing for years could be 30 percent more efficient. Well, if you know the undisclosed weapon for achieving the first two, go ahead and send that tidbit of invaluable information my way, while I let you in on the secret to locking down the third. It’s a little thing I like to call stretching.

Not just for increasing flexibility anymore, stretching after each set done for a particular muscle group can lead to increased strength gains on the size of said muscle group, as well as boost growth abilities. But let’s face it…we think about stretching as we’re speeding through our workout about as much as we pause to think about flossing every morning – a nice touch, but only if we have time. Studies suggest that fascial stretching - a slightly more intense form of stretching – added during rest periods between sets (not even adding time to your normal routine) can amp up muscular strength and size.

According to Nick Nilsson, President of an online exercise, fitness, and personal training company called BetterU, Inc, explains how stretching is the solution to avoiding plateaus in muscular strength and development.

"Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body.
Because fascia is so tough, it doesn't allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won't change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within."

Nilsson suggests holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds after each set, which also meets American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines. He also stresses the importance of stretching following strength training, while the muscle is “pumped up,” or showered with increased blood flow.

The fitness staff at Green Mountain at Fox Run leads women through stretches before, during, and after each activity, thus preventing them from being tired, sore, and achy the next day…not to mention super-charging the efficiency of each workout by creating possible strength gains.

According to Lynnann Covell, an 18-year fitness staff veteran at Green Mountain, a number of women verbally express improvements in flexibility, strength, and stamina by day three – even participants with arthritis. I don’t know about you, but those effects coupled with the idea that more muscle means greater calorie-burning capabilities has me sold. Enjoy your day – I’m off to stretch!

 Fascial stretching video

Author: Meredith Beckman - Fitness Specialist/Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, Green Mountain at Fox Run

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Posted by Cindy on October 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 29, 2008

Get Ready for Healthy Weight Week

They don't get the attention the Academy Awards do, but they ought to.  I'm talking about the Slim Chance Awards, given to the "the “worst” of the worst of the many weight-loss products and programs that flood the internet, the airwaves, and the pages of print materials in seemingly increasing numbers."  Whether they're promises for women's weight loss or any other version of the subject, we can be sure they're not about healthy lifestyles or self-acceptance.

Healthy Weight Week is sponsored by the Healthy Weight Network and describes 2009's event as "the 16th annual Healthy Weight Week is a time to celebrate healthy living habits that last a lifetime and prevent eating and weight problems.  Our bodies cannot be shaped at will. But we can all be accepting, healthy and happy at our natural weights."  

Last year's award winners:

Evercleanse, Most Outrageous Claim
Bio SpeedSLIM, Worst Claim
HoodiaHerbal, Worst Product
Hollywood Detox Body Wrap, Worst Gimmick

You can see they're serious!

Send nominations to Francie Berg, Coordinator Task Force on Weight Loss Abuse, National Council Against Health Fraud, Healthy Weight Network; 402 South 14th Street; Hettinger, ND 58639, along with supporting material or online link if possible. Or email her at [email protected]  Put Healthy Weight Week in the subject line.

Posted by Marsha on October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2008

Healthy Living: Stop! Don't Touch That Refrigerator Door!

Well, not unless you want to catch a cold, suggest research scientists  from the University of Virginia. It's difficult to determine just how many folks catch colds or the flu from simply touching everyday items like doorknobs and light switches each year. But, we now know, that cold germs can live on these objects for up to a day or more. Yuck.

This recent study found:

Out of thirty adults showing early symptoms of colds, sixteen tested positive for rhinovirus, which causes about half of all colds. They were asked to name 10 places in their homes they had touched in the preceding 18 hours.

"We found that commonly touched areas like refrigerator doors and handles were positive about 40 percent of the time" for cold germs, Winther said.

All three of the salt and pepper shakers they tested were contaminated. Other spots found to harbor the germ: 6 out of 18 doorknobs; 8 of 14 refrigerator handles; 3 of 13 light switches; 6 of 10 remote controls; 8 of 10 bathroom faucets; 4 of 7 phones, and 3 of 4 dishwasher handles.

Additionally, they found that mucus from the infected adults stayed on items up to two days. Double yuck.

So, does that mean that our mother's were right? Of course...they're always right! Remember to wash your hands, and don't put your fingers in your nose! Mom always knows best.

On the bright side (if there is one), this should give us all pause next time we mindlessly turn on the TV to occupy ourselves, or open the refrigerator door to stand there while the cool air washes over us wondering what's good to eat. Instead, we might put down the remote control and take a brisk walk around the block. Fresh air is good for the common cold!                                                    

(I don't really know if that's true - but that's what my mother told me).

Source: Marilyn Marchione - AP

Illustration: Seattlepi.com

Posted by Cindy on October 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack