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Now is the Time to Eat Your Leafy Greens

Now is the Time to Eat Your Leafy Greens

We actually are having winter this year in the Lowcountry even though freezes have been few and far between.  That means the grocery shelves should still be full of fresh greens. If not, check out local farmers markets, especially if you’re looking for tasty kale, chard and collards.

Packed with vitamin A, C, K and E, these vegetables are also rich iron, calcium, manganese and potassium, as well as a wealth of antioxidants, which have numerous beneficial effects for our health.

Kale is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet. Simply remove the leaf from the stem sauté quickly with a little bit of lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.  You can also make a salad with it or add it to quinoa to make a healthy and satisfying meal.

Collards here is the South are extremely healthy too. My husband and I own a farm in Hampton County where this deep green vegetable is one of our favorites. We wash our collards carefully and use kitchen shears to cut them into thick, two-inch shreds, which we add to a pot of boiling organic chicken broth and fresh green onions, including the stems, seasoned to taste. We make sure to not leave them on the stove for more than 20 minutes. The longer you boil them, the less the nutritional value.  So keep sampling until they reach the consistency you like.

Collards also are excellent when added to various soups; so don’t be hesitant to experiment.

Fresh chard is somewhat of a new staple for traditional Southern cooks. A relative of the beet family, chard offers beautiful green, yellow and red color to winter dishes.  Fresh young chard is great in salads, while more mature leaves can be sautéed or cooked. The bitterness typically fades with cooking, so also sample often until you get the taste and consistency you like.

So, don’t be shy.  No need to wait until spring.  Ask your grocer or you favorite farmer for fresh kale, collards and chard now. Your body will thank you.

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How You Can Make the World a More Loving Place

How You Can Make the World a More Loving Place

Have a healthy Valentine’s Day!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day that most of us pause to think about who we love and who loves us. It’s a day to reach out to others to let them know we care. Expressing your love is also good for your health.

Each time you give of yourself to those you love, you grow and flourish. But even though we grow when we give love, we must also be able to receive love. I’m not talking about Valentine’s candy here. It’s about your ability to give love and receive it — unconditionally.

That loving relationship may be with your spouse, significant other, close friend or family member. Someone who you give love to by telling them often how much you appreciate them for solely for who they are, not what they give or do for you.

So, starting today, let’s take some time from our very busy days and listen to others who are close to us.  No need to give advice, just listen without judgment.   Allowing others to know that you are listening and that you care is healthy for all involved.

Once we learn how to nurture those close to us in a loving way, then we can go out and make a difference in the world through our children, our communities and nation.  The price of giving unconditional love to others nurtures us and fulfills our purpose in life.  Supportive relationships with your family, friends, co-workers and colleagues that are based on open, respectful communication can have a dramatically beneficial effect on your health.

If you want to live at your optimal health level, pay attention to the health of your social relationships. An important factor of keeping a relationship operating at its highest levels is effective communication. As a health coach, I ask my clients to think about their relationships and assess their communication style, patterns and skills. We talk and brainstorm ideas on how you can improve communications.

So what better day than Valentine’s Day to nurture others, improve your health and make a difference toward making today’s world a kinder and more loving place.

 

 

 

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The Secret to a Productive Day

The Secret to a Productive Day

With all the talk about the importance of getting the day started on the right note, it’s no wonder that getting a good night’s sleep has become more important than ever. If you have ever tried to have a productive day after only 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, you know what I am talking about.

If you are like most folks, you may feel as if there is not enough time to do all the things you want to do. Yes, most of a productive day is often work related but fun relaxing things are important too. So how do you have a productive day; do everything you want to do and get a good night sleep of 7 to 8 hours?

The answer appears to be a better bedtime routine. You might be asking how does having a bedtime routine have anything to do with a more productive next day?  Isn’t a good night’s sleep all you need to pave the way for a productive day?  What does a nightly routine of washing your face, brushing teeth or limiting caffeine after 6 p.m. have anything to do with the next day?

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Guest Post: Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out

Guest Post: Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out

Re-printed from 60 Is The New 50, by Dr. W

Basic working formula. Nothing profound. Simple math. You put 2000 calories into your body- then you must follow thru and use those calories throughout the day. Put in 100 calories per day more than you use, multiply by 7 days, then over a month you have gained a pound. The solution is found on either end of the formula or simply stated- eat less or burn more. What could be simpler? Look around you and everywhere you turn you see those extra pounds on almost everyone. What has happened? We eat too much and we move about less. So obvious and, at the same time, so difficult to surmount. foof court -image4I was at the airport last week, waiting and still waiting for my flight. Outside my gate the airline has opened a new, enticing, and seductive food court. The appeal was overwhelming. Nothing to do – eat. Hundreds of people milling about, entertaining themselves with visual delights, unable to control those leptin levels and indulging themselves regardless of the enormous physical cost. To boot, ten dollars for a tuna sandwich.

Is there anything one can do about it? Maybe the airline should give out those night masks before you get on the plane. On a serious note, exercising self-control is a challenge that so many of us fail.

However, can we do something with the other side of the formula? How do we rev up the calories out portion? Can we increase our daily energy expenditure on a regular basis? We all have daily schedules and patterns. Can they be modified to include higher caloric use? A more profound question emerges: does this higher caloric use translate into real health benefits?

Let’s begin with the famous studies done in England in the 1950’s and 60’s comparing bus drivers of double decker buses to conductors who climb up and down the stairs. The more active conductors had half the incidence of heart disease. Landmark studies conducted by Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, spanning his career, studying the effects of inactivity, obesity and heart disease showed a strong correlation between inactivity and heart disease. One study looked at the relationship between TV watching and markers for coronary heart disease. Spending hours in front of the tube, interrupted by getting up and going to the kitchen for beer and chips, may lead to eventual heart disease. Mother was right – TV is bad for you.

So what to do? Alter the basics.

We spend too much time sitting. Take those activities that you normally would do sitting and do them standing. “Screen time” has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Time spent sitting in front of the computer, the TV and hand held devices makes up the majority of our waking hours. Use that phone standing up. It can double caloric output. Skip that spectator sports event and do that exercise yourself. Who knows? You may end up with the “bod” of that swimmer on TV.

Climb those stairs.

One now classic study compared San Francisco factory workers in a five story building with no elevator. Those working on the top two floors had less heart disease and lived longer. The message is clear: find that stairwell and use it. Up and down. Never take an elevator or escalator 1-2 floors. Make it dogma.

Next up is walking.

For those who can walk to and from work the benefit is obvious. For others who need the car or train, make small alterations that go a long way. Park your car in the parking lot as far away from your destination. NEVER look for the closest parking spot.

Park a few blocks away from your destination. Need the train or bus, get off a stop before. Minimize emailing or texting a colleagues at work. Get up and speak to them. Walk to the theater or restaurant. Walk to the gym. Walk your children or grandchildren to school – the obesity epidemic has spread to them as well. Whenever you open that door and leave the house, ask the question- can I walk there? And back? Sure, it means spending time that can be used for other things. However, you are adding “time” down the “long road” ahead. Nothing is better than that.

Final message: calories in <CALORIES OUT

See more at 60isthenew50.com

 

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Do You Know Why Wheat Is Bad For You?

Do You Know Why Wheat Is Bad For You?

Over the holidays, I read a book by David Perlmutter, MD, called the “Grain Brain.” It has been on my bookshelf for a couple of years but only recently caught my eye.  Maybe subconsciously I knew I was eating too much grain, especially wheat, over this holiday season.  After reading this book and skimming another one, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD, I decided to make some changes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love wheat products. However, what I read has encouraged to cut way back, if not eliminate, whole wheat from my diet.

Historically, wheat is not bad for you. But since the 1980s, the new forms of wheat that have been genetically modified cause inflammation in our bodies, our guts to leak and trigger the increase in autoimmune diseases.

So, what’s the solution? Resorting to the new gluten-free replacements foods on the market today? And why is wheat bad for you? Here’s what I have learned from Dr. Perlmutter, a neurologist, and Dr. Davis, a cardiologist:

  • Did you know whole wheat is full of sugar? Yes, eating two slices of whole wheat bread could spike your blood sugar as much as eating two tablespoons of pure sugar. Not good because it could put you on the path to diabetes.
  • This chronic spike in blood sugar and insulin can increase visceral fat around your belly. This abdominal fat manufactures excess estrogen in both men and women and can lead to breast cancer in women, “man boobs” in men.
  • You may know that skin is our largest organ and part of our immune system. But did you know that excessive amount of wheat can advance aging and cause wrinkles? Wheat has also been linked to skin inflammation and psoriasis.
  • And it doesn’t seem to matter what type of wheat. Organic, sprouted or stone ground, it’s still wheat. Wheat in and of itself triggers high blood sugar, visceral fat and inflammation.
  • Wheat and baldness are linked. It seems that eating wheat can fuel a certain type of baldness, alopecia areata. This is the non-heredity kind, a type of hair loss that occurs in patches, usually from the scalp. Dr. Davis says he has patients who quit eating wheat products and regrow hair in their bald spots where skin once had inflammation.
  • Wheat is the only plant food that generates an acidic by-product, which can affect your body’s PH level. You need to maintain a healthy PH level and non-acidic environment in your body so you don’t pull calcium from your bones. Bones that have become calcium depleted are ripe for fractures and osteoporosis.
  • And lastly, elimination of wheat from your diet can help with fewer mood swings, better moods, deeper sleep and better concentration. But caution!  If you decide to take yourself off wheat, be careful. Some folks experience withdrawal symptoms that include brain fog, irritability and extreme fatigue.

Although wheat hides in foods besides the bread aisle, going wheat-free is easier than you think. Eliminate processed foods and start cooking from scratch again. Create simple salad dressing from extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and spices. Avoid fast-food restaurants and convenience foods in the grocery stores. You’ll save money and your health.

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Beware of So-Called “High-Energy Drinks”

Beware of So-Called “High-Energy Drinks”

  Need an energy boost?  We all do from time to time, but those highly advertised over-the-counter energy drinks are not the way to go.  Here’s why:

  • The extreme acidity and high caffeine content of such beverages can increase your blood pressure, induce a rapid heartbeat, and cause dehydration, vomiting, seizures, headaches, insomnia and death.
  • Caffeine is typically good for your body, but when consumed in a can of so-called hyper-energy drink you get six times as much that is in a regular cup of coffee.  This not only speeds up and stresses your heart, it also flushes your body of vital fluids and nutrients.  
  • Most highly advertised energy drinks are also extremely high in acid. When low ph assaults your body, calcium leaves cells and enters the bloodstream in order to neutralize the acid. This means your bones, muscles and brain are robbed of vital calcium precisely when needed the most.  
  • High-energy drinks are also loaded with sugar, the No. 1 cause of diabetes.  Who by now doesn’t know the risks taken when too much sugar enters your system?
  • High-energy drinks are packed with carbohydrates, far more than are recommended for active people.  This can lead to serious gastrointestinal distress and all the problems that go with it.

The best high-energy drink in the world is fresh, clean water in combination with fresh, clean fruits, vegetables and foods containing plenty of natural fiber. Add 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night and you have a healthy mix for an energy lift. Talk to your health-care provider or health coach about getting on a proper diet and then with their help, sticking to it.

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Start Your New Year Off Right With Mindfulness

Start Your New Year Off Right With Mindfulness

Happy New Year!  By now, everyone has been into 2017 for two days. That’s two days into the new goals, resolutions and intentions for yourself this year. One that has been on my list for a couple of years has resurfaced again…. a formal meditation practice.  Most of us know nowadays that meditation is a good thing. But so far I have not been able to stick with it because I’ve allowed myself to become too busy too often.  But this year will be different. I’ve decided to do the following:

  1. Start small, meditating only 3-5 minutes (or less if need be).  Slowly take one deep breath in and think, “I receive life.” Exhale slowly and think, “Life is good.” Then repeat for at least two more rounds and you will be energized significantly because more oxygen has entered your blood stream than usual. The longer and slower you do this, the more alive you will feel.
  2. Understand that this simple breathing exercise reduces stress, calms anxiety, erases irritability and clears your mind.  The process is called “mindfulness,” which at first seems contradictory.  “Mindlessness” is more like it because your goal is to clear your head of all thoughts except for breathing and exhaling.  This increases your resilience to stress and induces a calming effect on your nervous system, thus erasing anxiety.

This makes sense given that meditation allows you to focus on breathing in and breathing out while everything else that clouds your mind disappears. If you feel that your mind is drifting, simply go back to thinking only about breathing in and breathing out.

  1. Understand the principles of meditation. Beginning meditators often think the goal is to get to the point that they can focus without becoming distracted. That goal is difficult. Instead become aware that your mind has drifted, redirect your attention back to your point of focus without criticizing or judging yourself.
  2. Do meditation in your own way. It’s alright to do more while concentrating on your breathing. Some people find that a walking meditation is the way to go. This increases your heart rate and distributes more oxygen throughout your system. Jogging is even better. Just remember to stay focused on your breathing. If your attention drifts to past, future or evaluative thoughts, remind yourself that you’re breathing in life and exhaling the phrase, “life is good.”
  3. Do away with all-or-nothing thinking. If you can’t do 30 minutes of meditation, then do 15. The idea is to learn how to clear your mind and focus only on your breathing. On those days when you have more time, you can gradually build up to 30 minutes if that’s your preference.

Doing at least 15 minutes of a formal practice when you begin meditation will allow you to try different types of meditation. It will also increase your comfort and familiarity with meditation so you can restart a formal practice if you’re going through a period of stress or overthinking.

I am only one week into it right now, with a goal of continuing to do so at least three times a week throughout January. Won’t you join me?

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Four Ways to Rev Up your Metabolism

Four Ways to Rev Up your Metabolism

After you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, thus it is easier to regain the weight you lost. And once you gain back the weight, the harder it is to lose it.  It’s a vicious cycle.  But you can get it back under control.  By employing a few helpful nutrition and lifestyle changes, you will be on the road to optimizing your metabolism for life.

What is metabolism? It’s the sum of all the chemical reactions happening in your body. Based on the science of food metabolism and the way our bodies burn energy, here are four ways to boost your metabolism for lasting weight control:

  1. Distribute your intake of protein throughout the day. Don’t let dinner be the meal where you consume most of your protein. Spread it out among all your meals for more efficient use.
  1. Work out daily: But mix up what you do every day.  Combine resistance, aerobic and flexibility training to five consistent workouts per week.  Maybe 2-3 times a week do an aerobic or cardio workout like jogging, my favorite, or biking.  Balance this out with 2-3 days of some form of stretching like Yoga or Pilates.  The objective is to not solely burn calories but to boost your body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding.
  1. Manage stress: Stress is not something we are going to eliminate, and a little bit is not necessarily a bad thing.  But when your stress level gets out of whack, your metabolism suffers.  Stress causes your hormones, such as cortisol, to overproduce and affects your insulin sensitivity.  You tend to sleep less and gain weight. We also tend to overeat and exercise less when we are stressed.
  1. Sleep well. Even a single interruption in your normal 6-8 hours per night sleep pattern has a detrimental effect on fat metabolism and tissue recovery from exercising.  Plan your sleep routine as you would a workout. When you give your body a full night sleep on a consistent basis, you are supporting the release of important hormones. Melatonin is one of these hormones that help control your daily metabolic rate.

Your energy levels, ability to work out, and weight gain or loss all depend on your body’s metabolic processes.  If you implement these four simple strategies, your body will operate more efficiently.  You’ll maintain weight loss, which makes for a happier new year.

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Is Healthy Eating One of Your New Year’s Goals?

Is Healthy Eating One of Your New Year’s Goals?

Healthy eating can benefit you in many ways. It can help you live longer and become stronger. Good nutrition keeps your muscles, bones and organs in tip-top shape. A proper diet can also reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, healthy eating leads to consuming fewer calories and more nutrient-rich food that will keep your weight under control.

Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy diet can sharpen your mind, too. Nutrients are essential for the brain to function properly. Most kinds of nuts, but particularly walnuts, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that can improve focus and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s’ disease. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods enhances memory and mental alertness as you age.

Consuming wholesome meals rich in nutrients will give you more energy and help you look better. Looking better improves self-esteem. The way you eat and the way you feel are connected.  If you eat well by properly nourishing your body, you feel good.

This holiday season try to incorporate some of the following tips into your daily eating habits. If you start now by incorporating small changes, you won’t’ be so overwhelmed come January.

— Reduce sodium intake.

— Avoid white flour, refined sugar and white rice.

— Put five colors on your plate. Fruits and vegetables rich in color correspond to being rich in nutrients.

— Eat until you are satisfied, but don’t stuff yourself.

— Be mindful of beverage consumption.  Alcohol induces overeating.

— Make time for exercise.  It relieves stress and helps prevent weight gain.

And let me leave you with these thoughts:

Don’t’ restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday treats. Just be aware of how much you are consuming and limit the amount. Think twice about drinking a second glass of an alcoholic beverage.  Instead, incorporate healthy options of things you enjoy. One of my holiday favorites is alcohol-free eggnog. I have found the soy version every bit as rich and satisfying but with half the calories. Enjoy the holidays, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals and make time for physical activity. Give the gift of health to yourself starting now.

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