3 Tips for Getting Back on (the Healthy) Track

 Have the gray, cold, dreary days taken your healthy New Year intentions captive? Don’t worry; all is not lost!  Usually, when we make a commitment to turn over a new leaf, the first few days – or weeks – can seem effortless.  We are caught up in the excitement and have fun changing up the foods we eat and adding new variety our fitness routine. 

 But then IT happens. 

Something catches us off guard:  a fight with a loved one, an extraordinarily busy work schedule, or a cold that just won’t seem to go away.  Whatever it is, once your new routine is disrupted, it is common to seek solace in your past habits.  We begin to crave the foods that comfort us and zoning out in front of the TV becomes much more appealing than working up a sweat.  You tell yourself you’ll just take a day off, but days quickly turn into months, and you find yourself making the same resolutions every year! 

 Does this sound familiar?

 The truth is, life has a way of always getting in the way.  Try as you might, everyone get sick, stressed out, and has disagreements.  The key lies in being prepared for the bumps in the road.

1. Make a list of activities that comfort you – and don’t involve food: Some of my all time favorites: catching a yoga class, taking a warm bath, and meeting a friend for tea.  These all help me to reconnect to myself, my intentions, and put things into perspective.  

2. Schedule in healthy activities into your calendar:  It’s easy to get lost in our busy schedules.  Don’t just wait to see how the week unfolds to figure out when you will get in activity or stock up at the grocery store.  At the beginning of the week, plan when you will exercise, grocery shop, and if you want extra bonus points – plan your meals for the week.  This will help keep you organized and prevent last minute take out. 

3.  Get Support!  Whether you turn to a good friend, fitness trainer, or health coach, it is important to make your goals heard and establish accountability.  This helps to keep you focused on your goals, and is an excellent resource to turn to if you fall off track.  It is important to stay in touch or have occasional sessions even when everything is going.  This will help to increase momentum, build trust, prevent relapses, and most importantly – get you back on track if you happen to slip. 

Amanda Skrip provides culinary and wellness services to inspire healthy living.  She specializes in food-based cleanses, weight-loss, and eating for energy.  In addition to working with private clients, she teaches natural foods cooking classes around the city.  Visit her website to and be sure to check out the blog, event schedule, and sign-up for the newsletter – www.amandaskrip.com

Daily Exercise Helps Keep the Sniffles Away

Regular exercise can improve your mood, help you lose weight, and add years to your life. Still need another reason to hit the gym? A new study suggests that working out regularly helps ward off colds and flu.

In the study, researchers followed a group of about 1,000 adults of all ages for 12 weeks during the winter and fall of 2008. During that time, people who logged at least 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise—such as jogging, biking, or swimming—on five or more days per week were sick with cold or flu symptoms for just five days, on average, compared to about 8.5 days among people who exercised one day per week or less.

What’s more, regular exercisers tended to have milder symptoms when they were ill. Compared to the people who barely exercised, those who worked out frequently rated their symptoms about 40% less severe overall, according to the study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. (Symptom severity was gauged with a standard questionnaire.)

Exercise is thought to boost the circulation of the virus-fighting white blood cells known as natural killer cells—the “Marine Corps and Army of the immune system,” says the lead author of the study, David Nieman, a professor of health, leisure, and exercise science at Appalachian State University, in Boone, N.C. “Exercise gets these cells out…to deal with the enemy.”

The increased immune activity brought on by exercise only lasts for about three hours, but the cumulative effect seems to keep disciplined exercisers healthier than most. “As the days add up, it adds up to improved protection [from] the viruses that can make you sick,” Nieman says.

Endorphins may also play a role, says Len Horovitz, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. These feel-good neurotransmitters—the source of the so-called runner’s high—have “positive effects on the immune system, so it’s not surprising there’s a spike in immune cells,” says Dr. Horovitz, who was not involved in the study.

It’s also possible that people who exercise frequently tend to lead healthy lifestyles in general, and are therefore less likely than couch potatoes to get sick.

Nieman and his colleagues measured a host of factors besides exercise that could potentially affect a person’s susceptibility to cold or flu, including age, gender, diet, stress levels, marital status, smoking, and educational attainment. Of all of these, physical activity was most closely linked to the number of days a person spent sick, although some characteristics, such as being married and eating a lot of fruit, seemed to help protect against colds and flu as well.

“You can’t do much about your age, and you can’t do much about your gender. Here’s something you can really do,” Nieman says. “Exercise is the most powerful weapon that an individual has in their hand to reduce illness days.”

By Amanda Gardner, Health.com November 2010

Celebrate National Preschool Fitness Day January 28

January 28th is National Preschool Fitness Day, a day to acknowledge the importance of developing

healthy lifestyle habits in preschool age children. With the growing concern over childhood obesity, diabetes and an early predisposition to heart disease, it is imperative that healthy habits of regular exercise and sound eating are taught to our youngest population. Two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese.

This has a direct impact on our work force, health care costs and overall quality and length of life.

National Preschool Fitness Day is a perfect time for the community, child care centers, preschools, businesses and parents to come together to encourage daily physical activity for all children during the preschool years.  Numerous studies point out that preventing disease and implanting healthy habits works best when aimed at children age 5 and younger.

To help celebrate the day, Aerobic Fitness Consultants offers a number of free preschool fitness activities and ideas. Go to http://www.kid-fit.com/preschool_fitness_toolkit.htm

to download your FREE National Preschool FitnessDay Tool Kit. A few of the items included are:

 

 

 

  • Fitness Activities
  •  Simple Healthy Recipes
  • Easy to make physical education equipment
  • Educational Handouts & Coloring Sheets
  • Classroom Projects

This event is sponsored by KID-FIT, a division of Aerobic Fitness Consultants, Inc. KID-FIT is a world renown physical education program designed to combat the childhood fitness crisis by teaching children ages 2-5 that it’s fun to exercise, eat right and take care of their bodies. Contact Aerobic Fitness Consultants toll free at (888) KIDFITT or via email at corporate@kid-fit.com.

Probiotics in your diet

It is in the dairy or freezer sections, Jamie Lee Curtis talks about them on television; probiotics.  What is all the hype, do they really benefit us?

What are probiotics?

According to the World Health Organization, they are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. Simply put, they are food supplements that contain “good” bacteria.   They can come in many forms, like yogurt, pills or powders.   According to studies, the various foods and supplements contain one or more of dozens of different probiotic organisms. Each is thought to have its own benefits.

Benefits of probiotics in your diet

  • Help prevent or treat some digestive problems
  • Regulate the immune system
  • May even protect against common respiratory infections

Studies show probiotics

  • Are a proven treatment of childhood and adult infectious diarrhea
  •  That taken before a course of antibiotics may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Can be effective for preventing or treating atopic eczema related to cow’s milk allergy
  • Found that the combination of eight probiotic organisms called VSL#3 significantly reduced symptoms of IBS
  • Were more effective than placebos in warding off flare-ups of ulcerative colitis
  • May help ward off childhood illnesses such as ear infections, colds, and infectious diarrhea

Bottom line: Studies have shown that a diet with probiotics does benefit those with digestion issues or other health ailments.  When purchasing foods with probiotics, look for the label to contain a statement that the product contains “live and active cultures.”

Sources: WebMD, MayoClinic

Healthy Weekend Happenings (May 28th-30th)

Enjoy the sunshine Chicago!

Friday, May 28th

Critical Mass Bike Ride 5:30pm Daley Plaza

Saturday, May 29th

2010 Fleet Feet Sports Solider Field 10 mile

1:30 p.m. Gosling Gazing  Take a guided tour of North Pond Cost: Free

Green City Market 7am-1pm.  Lincoln Park

Chicago Farmers Markets (Bridgeport, Lincoln Park, Southport, Division St., NorthCenter, Printers Row)

Randolph Street Market Festival 10am-5pm $9-$12

Belmont/Sheffield Music Festival Noon-10pm $5 suggested donation

Chicago Memorial Day Parade Noon from State Street and Lake to Van Buren and Lake

FREE yoga with Exhale Spa at lululemon Rush and Walton.  9-10am

Sunday, May 30th

 Bike the Drive

FREE yoga with Core Power Yoga at lululemon Halsted (in Oz park). 10-11am

FREE yoga with Bend Studio at lululemon Bucktown.  10-11am

Memorial Day Hash 3-5 mile job Lincoln Square

Chicago Farmers Markets (Beverly, Erie Street, Wicker Park and Bucktown)

May 30th FREE In store cooking techniques class “Memorial Day with Michael Symon” at William Sonoma.  Call your local William Sonoma store to RSVP

FREE fitness classes with Dare to be Fit at lululemon Michigan Avenue 11am-12pm

Next Week

May 31st Ridge Run

Every Wednesday 7-8pm FREE Yoga in Oz Park presented by lululemon halsted

June 2nd Camping Basics for Women.  REI Lincoln Park 7-8pm FREE. The class will cover tent set up, sleeping bags and pads, basic camp cooking suggestions, hygiene suggestions, how to keep bugs at bay, clothing, nearby destinations and more

June 4-6, 10th, 12th.  FREE Kidney Health Screenings. Various locations.

What is Healthy?-From a 1st Grader

Happy Monday Chicago! 

Healthy In Chicago enlisted some help from a few elementary school teachers to bring you insight (and maybe a few laughs) from the youth of the area on what they think healthy means.  When asked the questions below, the first graders responded with the following;

What does the word healthy mean?   

  • “I think it kind of means you are feeling good and not sick.”
  • “It means that you eat good.”
  • “It means that you are not eating junk food and you are staying in good shape.”
  • “It means that you are eating apples and oranges.”
  • “It means that you’re eating oranges and bananas.”
  • “It means that you are working out.”
  • “It means that you are strong.”
  • “It means that your weight isn’t high.”
  • “It means when you don’t eat ice cream all of the time.”
  • “It means you eat a lot of vegetables and that makes you really good for your body.”
  • “Don’t eat junk because it will make you not healthy.”
  • “It means that you are brushing your teeth well.”
  • “It means that you sleep a lot.”
  • “It means you are feeling good and not having rabies.”
  • “It means that you are getting in shape.”
  • “It means that you’re healthy and you eat apples and fruit and vegetables.”
  • “It means that you’re eating a lot of green things.”
  • “It means that your lifting weights a lot.”
  • “You’re eating green beans and salad.”

Where did you learn about being healthy?

  • “If you see vegetables you will get healthy.”
  • “School, my teacher.”
  • “In kindergarten.”
  • “Sometimes the hospital.”
  • “The doctor.”
  • “At my home.”
  • “Your parents teach you.”
  • “The Nurse”
  • “Online.”
  • “The Biggest Loser Show.”
  • “The Doctor OZ show.”
  • “Dr. Seuss.”   (*my personal favorite because his name is doctor)

Chicago, what do you think Healthy is? Do you remember how you first learned how to be healthy?  Do you pass this knowledge on?