How to Stick with Fitness Resolutions

FitnessMillions of Americans listed healthier lifestyles amongst their New Year’s resolutions. According to recent studies, the majority of these are headed for despair.

“We’ve tracked the patterns,” reveals YMCA Health and Wellness Director Sue Dissinger. “After 30 to 60 days people start to slowly decline or quit.”

The figures, which are based on several years of study, have been confirmed throughout the health and fitness worlds. People generally lose enthusiasm after about a month, despite their best intentions.

Lori Steven, a dietician with WakeMed Cary Hospital, explains the phenomenon. “We often make our goals too big, too ambitious,” she said. “We say, ‘Once the year starts, I’m going to cut all sugar out of my diet.’ That’s extreme. It’s not sustainable.”

“The main reason most people fail is because they don’t have a plan,” adds Ronnie Neal of Rex Wellness Center. They need to have specific goals, not just “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get in better shape.”

Stevens recommends setting realistic goals, like cutting dessert out of weeknight meals. “Or, instead of saying ‘I’m going to work out every day and run a marathon in March,’ say you’ll work out five days a week and do a 5K in April, then maybe a 10K in June and a half-marathon or marathon in the fall.”

Neal adds: “Writing down your goals hardwires them a little more into your subconcious.”

Lastly, it is very important to stay patient. It can take months to see real results, but stick with it and don’t get discouraged!

Is Your Kitchen Making You Sick?

clean-kitchenThe winter season is often associated with the flu, the common cold, and other inconvenient ailments. While the cold weather is often a contributor to these conditions, experts revealed that the microbes getting you sick may in fact originate in your home, and more specifically, in your kitchen.

Kelly A. Reynolds, PhD, explained:

“Moisture and food particles make it the perfect environment for growing germs that make you sick. If you’re not killing them, you can go from 10 microbes to millions within 24 hours.”

You may think your kitchen is spotless, but here are the places you might want to double-check:

  1. Your kitchen sink. Dr. Reynolds says: “There can be millions of pathogens clinging to the sink, the seal of the drain and the rubber gasket around the garbage disposal.” She suggests cleaning the sink regularly, especially after rinsing raw meat, vegetables or pet bowls. Make sure to use a disinfectant spray at least once a day.
  2. Your sponge, dishtowels and dish brush. According to the NSF International, more than 75% of dish sponges and towels carry harmful bacteria. Therefore, it’s important to change these towels daily and wash them in hot water. Sponges should also be changed at least once a week, or cleaned with disinfectant regularly.
  3. Your hands. Raw eggs, meats and vegetables can all carry pathogens, which will be transferred to different surfaces by your hands. Dr. Robert Donofrio of NSF International suggests: “Get out everything you need, such as the knife, the cutting board and the pot, so you’re not opening cabinet drawers and contaminating surfaces.” Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly as well.

Other places that make ideal hiding spots for pathogens include your coffee maker, purse or briefcase, refrigerator, stove, cabinet handles, garbage cans and countertops.

Get the Most Out of Your Sleep

The use of phones and other mobile devices is becoming more and more common, and especially from bed. This habit may actually have a negative effect on sleep quality.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or electronic device of some kind in the hour before bed.” Researchers have found that the “exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle.”

Those suffering from mild sleep disorders or disturbances may want to consider turning off all electronics prior to bed. Here are some other sleep-supporting habits to try, from Womansday.com:

  • Go to bed earlier. As simple as it seems, going to bed earlier can help you get the extra sleep your body craves. Even if you don’t feel tired, try lying down about an hour earlier until you get a full 7-8 hours each night.
  • Relieve stress. People with uncontrolled stress are more prone to insomnia. But exercise, meditation, yoga and other techniques can help you relax. Do something to relieve stress each day.
  • Let it out. Try to decrease your brain activity before bed by writing down your thoughts in a journal. It will help clear your mind so you can close the book on today and move forward.
  • Turn down the lights. It’s more difficult to fall and stay asleep in a room that is too bright. Wear a sleeping mask and close the blinds and curtains to diminish light and set the mood for sleep.
  • Relax a little. Schedule some downtime each day for meditative activities like stretching, reading or enjoying a hot bath. This can help you unwind after an intense, stressful day so you’ll sleep more soundly.
  • Eat at regular intervals. This keeps your energy and blood sugar levels stable all day long. With fewer highs and lows, you’ll be alert all day and ready to sleep at night.
  • Add white noise. Most people can’t fall asleep when it’s too loud. Wear ear plugs to drown out disturbing sounds and turn on “white noise,” like a fan or rain CD, so you can sleep more soundly.

Smartphone App Reaches Out for the Chronically Ill

Chronic medical conditions such as pain, depression or diabetes, often leave people feeling helpless, eventually leading them to withdraw from society. Doctors or specialists may not see or treat them at all until they show up in an emergency room.

Technology has many uses these days; some of which may save lives. A new app that tracks activity and movement may help patients when they begin to draw inward by alerting the appropriate doctor or caregiver. According to the New York Times, the app tracks how often calls and texts are made, as well as movement and activities.

The United States military, insurance companies and several medical chains have begun backing these digital flares. Hospitals and medical centers throughout the country have already begun testing this technology.

Michael Seid, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, explained:

“It’s a potential human early-warning system, the body’s check-engine light.

“When your pain increases, you’re less likely to be at the park or the mall. It could be early indicators of a flare-up or worsening of the disease,” he added, explaining that the technology “measures social behavior at a scale and depth you just didn’t have before.”

The Advantages of Being a Working Mother

Though many women believe that a long maternity leave and lots of rest are essential to the process of bringing a baby home, recent studies have shown that returning to work shortly after the change may in fact be better for a woman’s health. The research implies that working women have better physical and psychological health than stay-at-home moms.

According to specialists from the University of Akron and Penn State University, women involved in both careers and family lives have been found to have higher energy levels and mobility, as well as confidence and contentment. They are also less likely to go through depression.

The study states that the results are especially accurate among first-time parents. The financial independence and social interaction at the workplace reduce stress, sadness and worry, experts explain.

Adrianne Frech, lead researcher and professor, said:

“Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically. It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy. They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they’re paid a wage.”

The study’s results reveal that 28% of unemployed mothers consider themselves depressed, while only 17% of working mothers feel similarly. Housewives are apparently more likely to be overweight, and women with inconsistent job situations were found to be the unhealthiest.

“Struggling to hold on to a job or being in constant job-search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically,” Frech explained. “It is harder to enter the workforce if you don’t have a solid work history. Don’t give up on work and education.”

She encouraged women to establish a stable work history before starting a family, so that they can easily return to the lifestyle later on.

 

The Widespread Health Benefits of Yogurt

Despite it’s incomparable health benefits, yogurt is often overlooked by today’s dieters and health fanatics.

First and foremost, yogurt is rich in easy-to-absorb calcium. One cup of yogurt can provide the body with the nutrients needed to build, strengthen maintain the bones each day. The fact that low-fat dairy products minimize the risk of bone disease and fractures has been recognized for many years.

Yogurt is also loaded with complete proteins, providing the body with all the different amino acids it needs to function. In addition, yogurt contains numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as low fat content.

Lactose intolerance is a common issue, one that leads many people to believe that they must live without milk products. Not so for yogurt, since the bacteria it contains breaks down the lactose into more tolerable components.

The bacteria in the food have other advantages as well. They are capable of restoring the proper balance of ‘good’ bacteria within the body, especially in the case of antibiotics. Healthy bacteria populations strengthen the immune system, and also improve digestion and the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.