Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Your Health is a Gift . . . Much Better Than a Fruitcake

It’s that time, when the holidays conjure up thoughts of gifts, wrapped in shiny paper and colorful ribbons. For many of us the end of the year comes with more than a little carefree over-indulgence—in the form of spending, celebrating, and yes, eating too much. Concerns about our health and wellness find themselves on the back burner until after the New Year, which we often meet with both remorse and new resolve, at least for awhile.
So, let’s take a big step back. Good health is a condition in which our bodies and minds work well and work in sync. We each get one body—are we taking care of it? Do we pay attention to what we put into it and what we ask of it? Do we look for excuses to abuse it—I’m too old, I’m too tired, I’ll do it later, I’ll take a pill instead?
Think about this . . . Chronic diseases kill more than 1.7 million Americans every year, and account for 7 of every 10 deaths. These are truly staggering statistics!
And there’s more. The foods we choose to eat on a daily basis contribute 80 percent to whether we will develop diabetes, heart disease or cancer.  Approximately 40 percent of deaths in the U.S. are caused by behavior patterns that could be modified. As a whole, Americans are 4.5 billion pounds overweight. But, just a 7 percent loss in weight (12.6 pounds for someone weighing 180 pounds) can reduce the risk of progressing from prediabetes to diabetes by as much as 58 percent.
The solution here  is up to each of us—as family members, parents and individuals.  The question here becomes this: What do you think  happens when we consider, and cherish the gift of good health?
We’re not suggesting a gift-wrapped scale. We’re not even suggesting a literal gift (although we do have some suggestions for healthy gifts). What we’re after is for each of us to treat our bodies as the gifts they truly are. Each of us can give ourselves and our families the gift of health and wellness, and we can do it over and over, every day of the year. We can do it through the choices we make, not the excuses we find.
What do you think? Are you ready for a gift that really does keep on giving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s a time to be thankful, and even with all our stresses, worries, and uncertainties, we can all find those blessings in our lives we are thankful for. These are what we don’t want to lose sight of. They are what keep us going through everything else. So, on we go . . . whether we’re plugging away or sailing away, we move forward, and for that, we should be thankful.

So, to you, your families and friends, we wish you all a healthy, happy Thanksgiving. It’s a time to reflect and celebrate those things in our lives that we are truly grateful for.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Wellness “Script”

Just what exactly do we mean by a “script?”  Sociologists study experiences and behaviors, resulting in the knowledge that there are shared rules that govern (or should govern) how we act, and why we act the way we do. These are mostly unwritten scripts but they greatly influence our day-in / day-out behaviors and interactions.

In short, scripts are the reason we intuitively know what to do in a given situation, such as when we find ourselves standing in a long line for any number of reasons. Remember the post office line at Christmas? We roll our eyes, shift from foot to foot, shake our heads, and comment to those in front of and behind us to vent about the inefficient process and lack of personnel. In fact, we know pretty much what that experience will be before we ever arrive. Shifting from negative to positive, we also know the script for a holiday party. We expect to see friends, share smiles, and enjoy ourselves, no matter what kind of day we’ve had. 

So, OK, you know this is a Wellness Blog, so now, think about that wellness script. What does it say? Is it a script you follow, or one that might need a re-write? Here’s a clue—as a rule, it’s exactly those experiences that jump out at you that are most often the same experiences that change an existing script.

You had a really bad day at work—everything that could go wrong, did. You just wanted to go home, relax, eat some real comfort food.  Before you knew it, that box of macaroni and cheese was gone. So was the leftover Chinese in the take-out carton, and so was the last of the pizza from two days ago. Now you’re mad at yourself, and madder still at the situation that created that felt desire to eat the refrigerator.

Time to re-write a script.

Go back to the “bad day” scenario. Go back to what set it off and how you felt when you got home. Nothing in that day said, “go home and eat whatever makes you feel good.” What it really said was, “this has been a crummy day and didn’t go at all the way I hoped it would.” The script you re-write says you go home and make it better. You focus on what’s important and good about your life. You focus on how you can take the “crummy day” and give it a positive outcome by doing something positive—something you feel good about—something that’s in your true and long-term best interest.

Believe it or not, that something positive might be as simple as going for a long walk, playing outdoors with your kids, yoga, jumping rope, or cooking a healthy comfort food meal and then eating only the recommended serving size. Think about all the ways you can replace the “crummy day has to end badly” script with one that says, “This is your day to conquer. This is your day to be your best. This is your day to overcome and re-write those old scripts.”  Maybe now’s a good time for a re-write.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Thought, Scary Stuff

Today is Halloween. The stores have been full of candy for well over a month, and that’s just the beginning. You know there will be leftovers. Here’s what’s really scary about Halloween. We’ve chosen a sample of favorite Halloween candy, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that one person could (would?) eat this much in one day (or one night) if it’s sitting there in the “treat bowl” or if you happen to be raiding your child’s treat bag (but surely, you would never do such a thing).

  • 20 pieces of candy corn
  • 2 Hershey’s Kisses
  • 2 Brach’s caramels
  • 1 mini Tootsie Roll
  • 1 Fun-size candy bar (Milky Way, Butterfinger, Snickers)
  • 1 mini bite-size candy bar (Milky Way, Butterfinger, Snickers)
  • 1 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
  • 1 Fun Size M&M packet
Total calories: 515

Think of the above as little fat bombs, with almost no nutritional value and a ton of calories. To burn off those 515 calories you will need to walk 5.15 miles or 10,260 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps. And, Halloween candy isn’t just a “one-night stand.” The tempting bowls everywhere you go have been out for weeks, tempting you to have “just one more” as you pass by. Then, after Halloween, your evil co-workers will bring in their leftover candy—all those small, colorful, innocent-looking treats.

It’s true that just a few pieces of Halloween candy won’t derail your long-term weight loss efforts, but it’s the “just one more” temptation that over time will pack on the pounds. 

Scared yet? It only takes nine small fun-size candy bars to put on a quarter-pound of fat.

Keep in mind this isn’t about complete denial, or complete abandon. It’s still about making mindful choices. Each of us on average makes more than 200 food and beverage choices every day. The majority are not triggered by hunger. Maybe it’s something to keep in mind when you look at those cute plastic pumpkins full of treats—or tricks.