Boy, did I get a surprise last week. My doctor’s office called to say my blood work came back fine except for my A1C test — the one that provides information about a person’s average level of blood glucose (blood sugar) over the past three months. It is the primary test used to determine if you are pre-diabetic or have diabetes itself.
I recently read an article by designer Tory Burch about how growing up playing sports, in particular tennis, helped her develop her successful fashion career. As an entrepreneur myself, I appreciated her analogy since I too grew up playing tennis, swimming and running.
Now that we are in the holiday season, many of us resign ourselves to the weight gain that typically follows. Indeed, it is very hard to pass up holiday sweets that seem to be everywhere as well as extra servings of a traditional family dish. That’s why so many weight loss books are published at this time promising a “New Year, New You.”
So it’s no surprise that the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. But this year consider a broader approach to resolving the problem for more lasting success. Here are 10 points that my health-coaching clients have incorporated into their weight-management programs that you may want to consider:
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, especially after 50 years of age, you know it’s an extremely difficult challenge. You should also know that keeping off those extra pounds is even harder.
According to the International of Journal of Obesity, among overweight and obese adults, only 17 percent who lost at least 10 percent of what they started with were able to keep it off long term. And those who lost more are less likely to keep it off. So why is this?
The key to lasting change in any area of your life is developing healthy habits and sticking with them. So start now to develop good dietary choices. This makes managing the weight loss far easier. It’s also important to establish reasonable goals ahead of time. You can’t reach a goal if you don’t have one. When it comes to maintaining your body weight, keep that goal in mind and hold yourself accountable.
But don’t beat yourself up if you get off track occasionally. As I often tell my health-coaching clients, change is not linear. It’s OK to slip occasionally. Just get back on track as soon as you can and continue working toward becoming the best that you can be.
It’s also important to customize your diet to fit your lifestyle once you are in maintenance mode. The key is to find what works for you personally. One diet does not fit all, and neither does one diet-maintenance plan.
Fun times, vacations, dinners out, etc. are important. It’s fine to enjoy these times. They are a part of enjoying life. So plan accordingly. Keep your overall diet healthy and practical for your lifestyle. Here’s a time-tested rule of thumb: If you eat healthy 80 percent of the time, you can splurge for the other 20 percent.
Of course, no article on maintaining weight loss would be complete without reference to exercise. Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. Exercise is a great way to break through weight loss plateaus and help you manage your weight once you have reached your goals. Whether you prefer a leisurely walk around the block, an intense 10k race, or anything in between, exercise is great for maintaining your weight, your energy and a critical can-do attitude.
Once you have hit your weight-loss goal, it’s wise to continue to build muscle mass with exercise such as resistance training. As we age, we lose muscle mass. But many women don’t want to build muscle, only lose fat. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other. Muscle burns fat and it important for maintaining your weight and keeping your metabolism revved up. The best way to lose fat is to build lean muscle with exercise and the right amount of protein, plant based protein counts too.
If you find you are struggling with losing weight, or keeping it off, accountability may be the missing piece for you. Give me a call for a free, 30-minute optimal health breakthrough session to see how I might be able to help.
If you observe and talk with people around you, you will find that most follow a formula for life that goes something like this…. if you work hard, you will become successful and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy. This pattern of belief is what motivates most of us in life. We think if we lose 10 pounds, we’ll be happy. If I can get into a regular exercise routine, I’ll be happy. In other words, success first, happiness second.
However, in the last decade groundbreaking research in the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience have proven that the relationship between success and happiness is just the opposite. Thanks to this new science, we now know that happiness is the precursor to success, not the result. Happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement. Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive.
So what is positive psychology? It is the belief that people actively seek and inherently desire happiness. And while happiness is influenced by genetics, happiness is a choice. People can learn to be happier by developing optimism, gratitude and altruism.
There is no single meaning for happiness. Happiness is relative to the person experiencing it; based on how we each feel about our lives.
Some proven ways to raise your level of happiness are: Mediation, Three gratitudes a day, Journaling, Finding something to look forward to, Committing conscious acts of kindness, Infusing positivity into your surroundings, exercising, spending money-but not on “stuff,” and exercising a signature strength. What are some things you do to raise your level of happiness?
Do you need to feel more in control of your happiness and health? If so, give me a call or send me an email. I offer a free, 20-minute discovery session to help you discover what happiness and good health look like to you.
To sweat or not to sweat? You’re better off with the first option, which, of course, comes naturally. Here are 10 benefits of sweating.
— Sweat is a built-in cooling system. The skin is covered with millions of sweat glands that cool like air-conditioning ducts.
—Humans typically produce from a half-quart to a full-quart of sweat per hour depending on gender.
—Sweat’s main job is to cool down the body. However, stress, anxiety and excitement can also cause sweating. Foods and beverages that increase anxiety, such as coffee and tea, can ramp it up too.
— Sweat is mostly water, a little salt and trace amounts of other mostly dietary substances including potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron.
— The human body has two types of sweat glands. One is near the skin surface and has cooling properties. They produce a watery substance and are present in skin tissue from head to toe and concentrated on the brow, hands and feet. The other type of sweat gland is in human hair follicles. This produces a thicker substance that includes fatty acids and protein byproducts. When broken down by bacteria, this kind of sweat emits nitrogen and carbon compounds as well as ammonia. Unpleasant odor and staining might result.
— Men typically sweat more and easier than women while exercising. Women carry less water and sweat less to prevent dehydration. It’s an evolutionary trait.
— As skin changes during the aging process, sweat glands produce less sweat. This increases the risk of heat stroke. So remember to drink lots of water when exercising.
— Sweat glands produce a natural skin barrier that emits a natural antibiotic, which fights germs and infections, and help prevent bacteria from reaching the kidneys.
— Sweating is a mood changer. A good workout is great way to lift your spirits. That’s because the more you sweat the higher your feel-good hormones rise. Those hormones are known as endorphins.
— Sweating cuts accumulation of salt and calcium in the kidneys and urine. It also stimulates thirst. This washing out of the system has multiple benefits, which includes reducing the formation of kidney stones.
So do yourself a favor and sweat for at least 30 minutes a day. Simply move your body until you drench yourself, and be sure to have fun in the process.
I’m a high-energy person, and I plan to stay that way. But a lot of folks over age 50 have trouble getting motivated, and I’m not talking only about exercise. This also applies to dieting, social matters, school, finance, career and, well, you name it. Are you one of them? If so, here’s what you can do to get going and stay that way:
— Get organized, especially in your surroundings. Clutter in your home leads to clutter in your brain, which causes inertia, and is exactly opposite of what you need to reach your goals.
— Set simple goals that you know you can achieve.
— Develop a plan. You’ll never get there if you don’t have a simple plan — one that you can build on.
— Make time for yourself. If it’s 30 minutes of daily exercise that you want to achieve, block out enough time on your calendar to get it done, and the earlier in the day the better.
— Talk with others about your goals and how you intend to reach them. You’ll be surprised at how much this helps. It’s like thinking out loud, and if you have the right listener, one that doesn’t mind being a sounding board, you will become motivated.
— Think positive. Once you achieve your first goal, take note of how good you feel, expand your reach and keep on going. It’s OK to take a little time off, but primarily to rejuvenate your enthusiasm. The word “enthusiasm” makes a good mantra. It means “the spirit within.” I like to think of it as “good energy,” which is the fuel to power your success.
— Have fun. Whatever it is that you’ve set out to do, make it enjoyable. Celebrate life!
Summer has arrived in the South Carolina lowcountry, and along with it comes fresh tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers and rich, leafy spinach — the makings of a perfect sandwich. All you need to add is two slices of whole grain bread and cheese, and you have the main course for a healthy midday meal.
Let’s take a closer look at my favorite summer sandwich:
— Use sprouted whole-grain bread, which might be hard to find but is oh so worth the effort. Breads that are made with sprouted grains are not the same as what you typically find in a grocery store bread section. The sprouting process breaks down proteins and carbohydrates in the grain, thus increasing the availability of vitamin and mineral content. Sprouted whole-grain breads offer the consumer a consistent flow of energy for several hours, often eliminating a late-afternoon crash.
The grains are pre-soaked in water until they begin to sprout. Next they are carefully drained, mixed and ground up to produce living enzymes, which readily break down proteins and carbohydrates. The result is bread that is low in glucose (blood sugar), and easier to digest than standard grain breads. Most sprouted grain breads are considered kosher, with increased antioxidants as well as vitamin C and vitamin B. These breads also lower the risk of obesity and heart disease.
— A sandwich needs a good spread, right? I enjoy the flavor of mayonnaise, which is a combination of egg whites and vegetable oil, and my favorite mayo is made with olive oil. A dry sandwich is a boring sandwich. Just remember to spread sparingly.
— My favorite summer sandwich has two medium slices of a deep red, ripe tomato fresh from our family farm. Tomatoes are a source of vitamin C and lycopene, and the riper the tomato, the more umami — or savoriness — it contains.
— I also include a thin slice of a fresh red onion. The potent flavor and deep purple color of these onions comes from quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant that fights allergies and helps prevent cancer, heart disease and obesity.
— You can’t beat fresh baby spinach for a perfect sandwich. The deep-green richness of spinach typically provides more vitamin K, vitamin A and calcium than an average leaf of lettuce.
— Add a couple of rings of a sweet yellow pepper. Fresh banana peppers are plentiful this time of year, and they are especially good for you. One banana pepper produces almost half of your daily vitamin C requirement, and it contributes to your body’s vitamin A, iron, protein and potassium intakes. Banana peppers improve blood circulation throughout your body too.
— A protein? That’s a good question. I stay away from meats — especially the processed variety. I choose a solid cheese instead, and not always the low-fat kind, which typically is higher in sodium and calories. Different cheeses contain different nutrients. If you want to boost your calcium and vitamin B-12, select Swiss cheese or a Gruyere cheese. My husband’s favorite for the perfect summer sandwich is Colby Jack with bits of jalapeño peppers mixed in. Nothing like a little “heat” from the inside out to counteract the drag produced by the sun’s summer rays.
Summer has arrived in South Carolina, and between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. it’s hard to rustle up enough energy to take on the smothering heat. So don’t, unless you have to. There’s plenty exercise to be done at home.
No matter how old you are now, it’s never too late to learn. Think about it. You know you need to increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes a day, so start you day with an early walk at 8 a.m.
You also know that you should eat well-rounded meals, so have a good breakfast after your morning walk. And you know you need at least seven hours of solid sleep, so eat supper no later than dark, and hit the sack by 10 p.m.
But do you know the best time to exercise your brain?
Most folks say the best time to read is when you go to bed, but I disagree. A good book might help you get to sleep, but that’s really not the point. Reading is supposed to stimulate your brain, not wind it down, right? So why sleep on it? An hour or so in the morning makes more sense to me. So, when your brain is energized with knowledge, you’re ready to do whatever you have on your agenda.
And remember, reading is a skill, a lot like riding a bike. Both of which take practice. Reading also strengthens your vocabulary, your comprehension and your imagination. So make reading a part of your daily routine.
Charleston, S.C. — one of the world’s most popular cities — is a nice place to live, especially if you have good physical health. A morning stroll along The Battery overlooking Charleston Harbor is delightful, especially during the spring and fall. You are certain to see ships entering and exiting past Fort Sumter to and from the Atlantic Ocean. The sky is typically clear with white clouds billowing in calm winds mostly from the south. The old city sparkles today — generally fit and healthy, always alive and largely well.
It’s a thriving, livable city for good reason. Its people are generally happy and healthy and work hard to keep their historic port city ship-shape, so to speak. But it could be so much better. We have too many cars and trucks constantly breaking the silence and fouling the air. We have few bicycle riders risking life and limb to share the streets, and it doesn’t have to be this way. More bike lanes and a modern, reliable system of public transportation would do wonders.
Cities — like people — must stay active to remain healthy. And fiscally speaking, Charleston appears to be doing just fine. But it’s way past time to make it easier for folks to check their cars at the door. The walking and bike lane on the “new” Ravenel Bridge on the peninsula’s east side is an obvious success, and its use is growing day after day. Having a bike lane from the West Ashley Greenway across the Ashley River is a no-brainer as well. Closing one lane of the Legare Bridge into the city makes a lot of sense to me, but even if the traffic studies prove it will do more harm than good, then why not widen the span instead? If city, state and federal government would provide the seed money, there is no doubt in my mind that the balance could be raised by walkers, bicycle riders and others in very little time. Every one of the 40,000 or more Cooper River Bridge runners would happily contribute at five dollars per year, and friends and advertisers could surely cover the balance.
Each of us needs regular physical activity to help protect ourselves from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s also fun, cheap and good for the environment. Riding to work or to the shops will become routine with convenient bike lanes and parking areas. An estimated one billion Americans already ride bicycles every day — for transportation, recreation and sport.
All is takes is between two and four hours of cycling per week to achieve marked improvement in one’s general health. It’s low impact and less dangerous for strains and muscle injuries that most others forms of exercise. Cycling uses all of the major muscle groups, and it does not require a whole lot of physical skill. Once you learn, you seldom forget. And you control the intensity.
These are the benefits, according to health experts:
— Increased cardiovascular fitness.
— Increased muscle strength and flexibility.
— Improved joint mobility.
— Decreased stress levels.
— Improved posture and coordination.
— Strengthened bones.
— Decreased body fat levels.
— Prevention or management of disease, including cancer and diabetes.
— Reduced anxiety and depression.
— Weight control.
You get none of these benefits by sitting in traffic waiting for the light to change, a broken down car to be removed from the roadway or the police, ambulance and wrecker to clear a wreck. And the cost and convenience of building bike lanes on roads and bridges are minimal compared to building superhighways to accommodate all of the cars and will only make matters worse in time.
Charleston has some excellent bicycle-advocacy organizations whose members would be happy to join forces with you to achieve the necessary goals. Go on line. Check them out. And get busy. We all could use some help.