Wellness is a Cost Effective Choice

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

I’m working on my next Toastmasters speech which includes the perspective that wellness is a choice. We do not have to be victims of genetics.  In addition to the obvious benefits of choosing to be well (we feel good and are able physically to do what we want), it’s also cost effective.  According to AARP, the cost of four diseases associated with obesity and smoking – diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke – is $238 billion a year.  Over half of that is paid by your tax dollars, through Medicare and Medicaid.

Overweight and smoking are two risk factors most of us can do something about.  As I reported in November, some 16% of adults and 23% of teenagers still smoke.  In Arizona alone, that’s a million people!   And if the associated diseases aren’t expensive enough, look at the cost of cigarettes today.  In Arizona, the average price per pack is $6.87, and in New York, where they’re the most expensive, it’s a mind-boggling $11.90.  (I remember having to sell cigarettes at my first job in a drug store in Rochester, NY where the cost per pack was a mere 54 cents.)

Thankfully smokers are in the minority.  Not so with overweight, a condition 70 percent of the population experiences.  While smoking has declined over the years, overweight and obesity are still on the rise. The Urban Institute forecasts that this rise will add another $466 billion to the total cost, without even factoring in inflation.

What choices can you make that will support your wellness?  Next week I’ll cover the ten commandments of health.

More Sweet News

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

We all know that sugar (in pure form or one of its many disguises) is not a health food.  But it’s also not necessarily as evil as it’s made out to be.  Sugar, a type of simple carbohydrate that the body uses for energy, occurs naturally in many healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk and some grains.  Sugar in its various forms is also added to foods and beverages because it enhances flavor, gives baked goods texture and color, acts as a preservative, enables bread to rise, is a bulking agent, and balances the acidity of vinegar and tomatoes.

There are a couple of common myths about sugar that are not supported by research.  First is that sugar causes diabetes.  According to the American Diabetes Association, it does not.  Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin, a result of genetics and unknown factors.  Genetics and lifestyle factors cause the much more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells don’t respond to insulin.  Sugar does contribute to obesity and overweight, and these are very much linked to diabetes, however.

Second, there is no scientific evidence that sugary foods cause hyperactivity.  According to Consumer Reports, more than a dozen good-quality studies have failed to find any link between sugar in children’s diets and hyperactive behavior.  In one study, parents who were told that their children had been given sugary drinks went on to rate their children as hyperactive.  In reality, their children had really been given a sugar-free drink and the difference was in the parents’ perception. Health experts believe that it’s the events where sugar is consumed in large quantities, such as birthday parties, that promote the high energy.

This is not intended to encourage you to embrace sugar.  Unless you have medical advice to the contrary, the adage “moderation in all things” is likely to be an effective approach to sugar.

How Sweet are You?

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

Based on the average American’s diet, you’re probably pretty sweet!   Did you know that most people eat about 400 calories worth of added sugar each day?  That’s 20 teaspoons of sugar!  Find that hard to believe? Take a look at these sugar contents, keeping in mind that one teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams and 16 calories:

  • 12 oz. soda = 8 tsp.
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup = 1 tsp.
  • 1 tablespoon creamer = 2 tsp.
  • 8 oz. sweetened yogurt = 7 tsp.
  • 1 tablespoon jam = 1.5 tsp.
  • 1 oz. chocolate = 4 tsp.

When you consider that it takes 3500 extra calories to gain a pound, it’s easy to see why so many people are overweight today.  Besides the toll sugar takes on the waistline and teeth, sugar in its various forms causes the following concerns for health experts: it raises triglycerides, increasing the risk of heart attack; it might boost visceral fat, deep abdominal fat linked to a higher risk of heart disease; it raises the risk of gout and high blood pressure; it could promote overeating; and it’s generally found in foods of little nutritional value – junk food (Nutrition Action Health Letter, Jan./Feb. 2010).

Do health experts suggest that we ban sugar altogether?  Not necessarily, although the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adding no more than 8 tsp. per day sugar based on a daily diet of 2,000 calories.  That’s the equivalent of 32 grams or 6% of your total calories for the day.

It’s not realistic to eliminate all sugar from your diet since some occurs naturally in foods and food labels don’t distinguish naturally occurring sugar from added sugar.  If you’d like to reduce your sugar consumption, or at least be more aware of it, watch for these ingredients on food labels: dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, fruit juice concentrate, malt syrup, molasses, invert sugar, honey, sorghum, and cane sugar (Environmental Nutrition, March 2010).  Don’t be fooled into thinking that some of these are better for you than others – they’re not.  Added sugars are added sugars.

Resolve to Embrace Healthy Habits in 2012

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

Many people will be thinking about their new year’s resolutions this week.  With New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday, the start of a new week, it’s inviting to consider embracing a whole new lifestyle to kick off the new year.  Unfortunately, many people set goals that are unrealistic and end up feeling discouraged.

Set yourself up to succeed this year by choosing one or two habits to implement that will improve your overall health.  Perhaps it’s replacing soda with unsweetened iced tea or water. If an all-out switch is too lofty, start with just one day a week.  You can always increase the days as you go.  Here are some other possible habits you might consider starting with:

  • Walking ten minutes (or once around the block) every day.
  • Eating one serving of vegetables at lunch and/or dinner every day.
  • Listing ten things to be grateful for every day.
  • Keeping a food diary of what you eat.
  • Incorporating one physical activity the family can do together every weekend, such as hiking, swimming, or Frisbee.
  • Setting an alarm to remind yourself every 90 minutes to get up and stretch when at your desk.

Adopting small, simple habits will enable you to be successful, and success breeds success.  Start with just one or two and once you have those down, add another or step those up.  If you miss a day, don’t worry.  Just start over.  The point is not to be perfect, but to be on the path.

Did You Eat the Whole Thing?

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

It’s holiday time and food is everywhere.  I believe in moderation in all things, so I don’t encourage people to eliminate the foods they really love.  It’s a matter of portion control.  When I joined Weight Watchers in 1994, one of my primary goals was to learn how much to eat.  I grew up with three brothers who ate whatever they wanted, it seemed, and restaurant sizes were already starting to expand.

Does watching portion sizes mean you have to weight and measure everything? Well, when you can do so at home, it helps.  But don’t become obsessed with it.  WebMD and Weight Watchers have some great tips for estimating how much food you actually have on your plate.  This is a great thing, because researchers have found that people tend to underestimate how much they eat, a sure recipe for weight gain!  Use these comparisons to help you get started:

  • 3 oz. meat = deck of cards, the palm of your hand or a cassette tape
  • 2 oz. nuts or peanut butter = golf ball
  • 1 teaspoon = a poker chip or the tip of your pinkie finger
  • 1 tablespoon = your thumb from the end to the first knuckle
  • 1 oz. chips = six large tortilla chips or 20 potato chips
  • 2 servings of rice = light bulb
  • 1 c. vegetables = a baseball or your fist
  • 2 c. leafy vegetables = two tennis balls
  • Baked potato = computer mouse
  • ½ c. pasta = ½ of a baseball
  • 1 serving waffle or pancake = CD
  • 1 small muffin = a tennis ball
  • ½ bagel = a hockey puck
  • 1 oz. cheese = one die

For a great wallet-sized guide to

portions, visit WebMD at: http://www.webmd.com/diet/printable/wallet-portion-control-size-guide

 If  you’re not sure how many portions you should be eating a day, give me a call at 602-909-8598 to schedule your personal consultation.

Stay Active During the Holidays

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

With the increased demands on us, it’s easy to give up exercise during the holidays.  Who has time for trips to the gym or exercise classes when there is shopping, decorating, mailing, baking, and so forth to accomplish?  People intent on enjoying their holidays do!  Actually, maintaining your exercise program is essential to getting the greatest pleasure from your holidays.

Given the hectic pace, be creative in your approach.  Rather than eliminate exercise, look for ways to modify your regular routine.  Cutting the time in half is better than skipping it altogether.  Take a walk during your child’s piano lesson.  Try NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, to expend calories by building activity into your day.  Stand rather than sit, and pace rather than stand.  Return telephone calls on your cell phone while walking, ironing, or folding laundry.  Park at a distance from the store, and make several trips to the car.  Strive to take the stairs everywhere, and be less efficient at home to take the stairs more often.

Keep in mind that activity is an effective way to alleviate stress.  Consider trying yoga, a wonderful relaxation technique.  Besides the great physical benefits it affords, yoga harmonizes the body with the mind, enabling people to perform activities efficiently while enhancing overall satisfaction.  Need something simpler?  Take a brisk walk and spend quiet time alone or invite a loved one and talk out your stress.   How about dancing?  Music is a terrific mood enhancer, and the aerobic movement will energize you and release excess emotion after a stressful day.

Finally, when planning your holiday activities, include those that get you and others moving.  Set up a caroling event or tree-trimming party.  When dividing the tasks among family members, choose to decorate or go shopping.  Volunteer for a local charity wrapping gifts, delivering gift baskets, or serving food. Make your family outings and events active.  Walk off your holiday dinner and enjoy the lights, go skating, or clear the living room for dancing.

Whatever you choose to do, make it fun and have your best holiday yet this year!

Minimize Holiday Stress

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

Start by being selective with the events you attend.  Just because you’re invited to six parties, doesn’t mean you have to attend them all.  Consider rotating your attendance; attend his employer’s party this year and yours next year.  How would it feel if you went separately – you attend your work party while your spouse attends hers?  Or simply just decline – whatever works best for you.

Once you’ve decided on your priorities for the year, “pen” those on the calendar first, and plan everything else around them.  Shopping, baking, and decorating can all be worked in; plan ahead so you can enjoy attending your son’s holiday concert.

Holiday time can mean cutting back on sleep as we strive to fit everything in.  Avoid this temptation and maintain your sleep routine as much as possible.  This will enable you to minimize stress, maximize your productivity, and maintain good judgment.  Burning the candle at both ends only makes us unproductive as we waste time making errors and being indecisive.

Look for ways to save yourself time and effort.  Order preprinted holiday cards and have your gifts wrapped by the store or at the charity booth at the mall to save time and do a good deed.  Buy your holiday pies from the local bakery, or do your shopping online.  As you work to accomplish what you need to, consider what tasks you can delegate.  Don’t pass up any offers of help, and if others don’t offer to help, ask them to!  If you can, hire some outside help for house cleaning or other chores you don’t need to do  yourself.  Remember that the holidays are for having fun, so be sure to allow time for relaxation.

Create a New Mindset for the Holidays

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

Begin by considering when the holiday season starts for you.  Did it start at Halloween?  Will it continue past January 1?  What triggers the start for you – Thanksgiving, the day you put up your Christmas tree or other holiday decorations, or something else?  If possible, start your celebrating later in season; for example, bake holiday treats closer to the actual holiday.  When do you consider the holiday to be over – when the special food is gone?  If so, make less food and end the holiday earlier than you have in the past.

A successful strategy for many people is to avoid thinking of the holidays as one long season; rather, manage the season by going from event to event.  In between events, stick to your routines as much as possible, and conduct yourself the way you would any other of time year.  Eat regular, balanced meals; be active; sleep 7—8 hours a night; and take care of your health.

Another effective strategy is to set goals for yourself around how you want to handle managing your weight, incorporating exercise, managing your time, and minimizing stress.  Take the time to consciously think about these areas, and set an intention in each area.  Finally, during the holidays, avoid all or nothing thinking.  Remember that ten minutes of exercise is better than no exercise and one hors d’oeuvres is better than five (and better than none if skipping them leaves you feeling deprived.)  Aim for balance and moderation to maximize your enjoyment of the season.

More Small Steps to Wellness

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

Everyone has a lifestyle or manner of living, a set of habits they engage in every day.  Some experts have estimated that up to 70% of visits to the doctor are lifestyle related.  This is good news, because unlike genetics, lifestyle is something you can change.  Here are some small steps to wellness:

  • Engage in physical activity four days out of five during the week and on at least one weekend day, for at least 30 minutes if possible.  Exercise is essential to a long, healthy life, and with over 600 major muscle groups, you are designed for movement!  Small steps: start with ten minutes a day. Walk the dog, weed the garden, or dance.  Go swimming with the grandchildren, clean out your closet, or just stretch for ten minutes. Be sure to have fun and get moving.
  • Set yourself up to succeed by having what you need in the house and handy.  If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it.  That goes for fruit when you want it and ice cream when you’re trying to avoid it.  Small steps: make a grocery list throughout the week.  Shop once a week and prepare food ahead of time.  Divide your snacks into individual servings for convenience during the week and to avoid overeating.  Wash the grapes and cut up the melon.  Hide the chips in the back of the pantry and keep the healthy snacks right up front.  Keep a food scale and the measuring cups within easy reach, too.
  • The holidays are coming, so plan ahead, beginning with Halloween.  As you prepare for visits from little ghosts and goblins, be strategic at home and work.  Small steps: buy candy you don’t like or can easily pass up.  Use my “no eating food at work that you didn’t bring” rule and avoid all the bowls of candy located around the office.  Bring your own healthy treat.  Set a goal not to eat any Halloween candy and reward yourself with present such as a massage or new CD.

Remember to start small and build on each success for last results.

Small Steps to Eating Better

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Nurturing Yourself - Wellness

There are certain habits that consistently correlate with positive health indicators, such as a lower risk for disease or the ability to maintain a healthy weight.  The good news is that these behaviors are not all or nothing.  Here are a few ideas about eating well and small steps you can take to get you started in the right direction:

  • Eat breakfast every day.  Many people believe they don’t need or can’t eat breakfast, when really they never have had a habit of eating breakfast, don’t enjoy it, or don’t want to take the time for it.  The brain needs carbohydrates to function properly, and the metabolism wanes without anything to fuel it, so the body physically requires that you eat within the first two hours of rising.  Small steps: start the breakfast habit with a glass of juice or piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt, a hardboiled egg, or a cheese stick. 
  • Eat every four – six hours to keep the metabolism from dropping and help you avoid overeating later in the day.  Studies show that eating regularly also helps to maintain a healthy weight.  Small steps: keep healthy snacks handy, such as those mentioned above or breakfast/granola bars, nuts, whole wheat crackers, carrot and celery sticks, or popcorn.
  • Make healthy choices when dining out.  Small steps: choose water, iced tea, or coffee rather than soda; select a side salad rather than fries; opt for grilled meats rather than sautéed, breaded or fried; ask for your salad dressing and sauces on the side and a take-home box right away; and don’t eat portions any larger than you would at home.

Choose one or two of the small steps to begin with. Once you’re comfortable with those, add another.  Check back next week for more ideas.