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December 2010
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February 2011

My Top 11 Strategies to Get (and Stay) Healthy in 2011

Here's my top 11 strategies for getting and staying healthy in 2011.  Most of these tips you may have seen before but they are an excellent reminder.  I've learned most of us need to be reminded of the basics to be successful at reaching our goals so here they are...

1) Write out your health goal for the next 28 days and read it out loud daily! Make it something that really gives you energy and determination to reach it!  Make sure you also write out and read the list of reasons on why you want to accomplish your goal. Don't under estimate the power of focus and emotion.

2) Review your Action Plan and all the secondary choices that you will make in order to reach your goal. Such as drink 10 glasses of water daily, do 30 minutes of exercise or healthy activity that will make you feel good like take a walk.

3) Restock your kitchen and get rid of all temptations. Designate a special cupboard for other family members if you must keep these tempting items around. Add good choices to your snack arsenal: celery, pickles, green beans, cucumber, bullion, sugar free jello, and sugar free pop cycles. Also cauliflower.

4) Explain to family members how important it is for you not to be tempted and that you are calling on them for help and support

5) Start journaling: write down everything…what you ate, how you feel. You will learn from your daily eating habits and be inspired when reading back at your successes!  

6) Plan your day: Lay out your meal plan, know your time schedule. Understand that you may need to eat more frequently during that week, so prepare accordingly. Know the “do’s and don’ts” of your plan and review your plan before you start your day.

7) Measure up: Use measuring cups, spoons, and kitchen scale to know that you are eating the right amount of food. You must educate your eye to proper portion size. 

8) Always start your day with a healthy meal first thing in the morning. The morning meal jump starts your metabolism. Research shows that people who eat breakfast burn 200-300 calories more per day! My own experience has been that those clients who choose to exercise or go to work without eating first, do not lose weight very fast!

9) Eat slowly! Take at least 20 minutes to eat. Use this time to write in your journal or read a bit of a positive or inspiring book.

10) Distract yourself when cravings strike. You hopefully will not be hungry between your meals, but if a craving does pop up…be prepared! Make a list of things to do that will take your mind off of your craving. For example take a walk, organize, go for a drive, etc. The activity only needs take about 15 minutes because a craving usually will go away by then. Also drink a big glass of water during this activity, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you rise victorious!

11) Take charge at restaurants. Know exactly how you will handle yourself there. Being prepared is the best defense. Say No to bread. Have a quick snack before you go and then order two appetizers (salad and shrimp cocktail) because appetizers are much closer to the amount of food we should be eating. If you order a full meal, ask for a take home box when the meal come and quickly place half of the dinner into the box for another day. 

Exercise: Flu and Cold Season

You go to the mall and find people are coughing and sneezing your way. You come home, and your children are complaining of sore throats. You go to work, and your co-workers are out the door with aches and fevers. How about you?
If you consider yourself fit and healthy - and work hard to keep things this way - there are a few things you should know about exercise and your immune system.
The average American suffers one to six colds each year. Exercise - at the right intensity and frequency - may help you avoid at least some of the cold viruses that waft your way. That's because exercise can boost your immune function. Here's how it works:

  • Your body ordinarily makes a variety of special white blood cells that fight infection. The more of these cells you have, the better you can fight off colds, flus and other ailments.
  • When the numbers are high, your immunity is high.
  • Immunity is quite sensitive to many lifestyle factors, including diet, stress, rest, and exercise.
  • Research shows that people who exercise moderately at least once a week tend to have higher immunity than people who don't exercise. For example, one study reveals exercisers have higher levels of T-cells - the immune cells that attack cold-and-flu viruses - and cancer cells, too.

And here's the direct link: Women who walk 45 minutes per day, 5 days per week suffer about half as many colds as women who don't exercise.
Some studies also show that colds may go away much faster for exercise enthusiasts.
But intensive training turns the tables. The effects are immediate and quite pronounced. Here's what researchers are saying:

  • People undergoing very intensive exercise experience a drop in immune function that can last for six hours, making them especially vulnerable to getting sick after a workout.
  • California runners trekking more than 60 miles per week suffered twice as many infections as runners limited to 20 miles per week or less.
  • Most athletes training for serious competitions have very low counts of the disease-fighting white blood cells.
  • At least a third of marathon runners get sick within two weeks after the big event.

Rules of Thumb
It's clear that the immunity-boost isn't universal. How much, how hard, and how often you exercise can make a difference.
What exercise specialists are discovering may seem confusing. But the pattern is simple. If you exercise so intensively and so often that you actually stress or traumatize your body, you are making yourself vulnerable to colds and flu viruses. If you're a marathon runner and you know you stress your body, you can cut your risk by staying home and taking care of yourself after each event.
If you exercise moderately (including your favorite aerobic workout) as part of a healthy lifestyle, you are arming yourself against those common winter illnesses. The key is:

  • Balance (Don't let your fitness lifestyle drag you into exhaustion)
  • Get enough rest after you exercise.
  • Eat healthy
  • Take action against stress in your life. (Exercise, in fact, may be one of your stress-busters.)

How many minutes? What heart rate? The hard numbers aren't all in. So, your best tack is gauge it by how you feel. If your workout is jump-starting (not draining) your energy level, you're probably on course.
When You're Sick: Should You Still Work Out?
It's true that the right balance of exercise and rest can boost your immunity. If you adhere to a healthy fitness routine, you may find yourself getting sick less frequently than others. But you probably will become sick with a cold or flu from time to time. Then what?
You may be a warrior or a wimp - or somewhere in between. A warrior takes the stoic approach, denying that she feels like a dead melon and tackling that 45-minute aerobic class no matter what. A wimp assumes an attitude of self-pity and crawls under a mountain of bed covers at the first sniffle. Who will get well faster?
As with the question of who will get a cold in the first place, the answer to this question is not always clear-cut. Once again, it seems to boil down to a point of happy equilibrium. Here's what we know:

  • Day-to-day rest is essential for maintaining a healthy level of immunity.
  • Extra rest is critical when you're sick.

Best Advice...
To reconcile the exercise-immunity paradox, medical experts offer these guidelines:
If you've been in very intensive training (as for a marathon), realize that your immune system may be depressed. Stop for a while and let your body recover.
If you have a fever or body aches, don't exercise. These are signs your body is in the most severe phase of an illness. Exercise will probably make you sicker, and delay the time when you get back at it full-steam.
If you have diarrhea or vomiting, don't exercise. Not only are you sick, your body is struggling to maintain fluid balance. Exercise will just dehydrate you more.
If you have a severe cough or chest pain, don't exercise. It's likely that your lungs are not up for the added stress.

Researchers feel that moderate exercise offers the benefit of clearing out mild congestion from your lungs and nasal passages. You may find yourself coughing or blowing your nose more during and immediately after a mild workout. At the same time, your body is working harder to deliver oxygen to your active muscles - so use restraint.

...and Mom's Advice
All the research points to the same simple facts that Mom used to tell you: If you're sick, rest. If you're really sick, really rest. If you're a little sick, rest (at least) a little.
If you are a warrior, give yourself a break. If you are a wimp, you probably know how to take care of yourself. Most of us are somewhere between the two great W's. Whatever your W is, remember that exercising moderation is a form of fitness. And, it's the best way to get back to that other kind of exercise you enjoy... ASAP.

Are you "really" hungry?

I've found that many of us misinterpret hunger pains we have or the lack of hunger pains. Why is there such a difference between these two experiences? Often it is in our interpretation of the signals. Early recognition of hunger is a helpful skill to develop. While you don't want to overreact and overeat at the slightest hint of hunger, letting hunger go too long will result in an urgent drive to eat. Usually, this drive leads to overeating. It is a problem for weight control because food intake is not paced to match the body's natural rhythm. Read on to get some specific tips on reading your body hunger signals and why eating every 2.5-3 hrs is key to your long term success. 

We get our fuel from food, so hunger is our body telling us it is time to eat. The question is, which fuel is running low? Fats and sugar are the two main fuel sources of your body, and it is highly unlikely that fat fuel will ever run too low. Even on the leanest bodies, it is estimated that 35,000 calories of fat are in reserve. Sugar stores provide only 800 calories in reserve. Many of the signals of hunger are related to a depletion of sugar reserves.

An empty stomach is not always the signal your body gives when it needs fuel. Look at the list below and identify body sensations you recognize as common for you.

Low blood sugar causes:

Fatigue, tiredness, yawning - Less fuel for brain activity
Weakness, less energy - Less sugar fuel for muscle activity
Inattentiveness - Less fuel for brain activity or focus
Lightheadedness, dizziness - Less fuel for brain activity
Headache - Muscle tension and less fuel for brain
Shakiness, muscle tension - Adrenaline, stress response
Irritability, mood change - Adrenaline, stress response
Occasional nausea - Adrenaline, stress response 

When you are hungry, ask yourself, "On a scale of 1-to-10, how strong are my hunger signals?" If you wait until your hunger score reaches 10, you have waited too long. Adrenaline will be activated and you will have an urgent drive to eat, anything and everything, as quickly as possible. A good time to eat is when your hunger has reached a score of 6 or 7. This allows you to be more selective about food choices, and to eat slower.

1 - None
2 - Faint
3 - Slight
4 - Mild
5 - Low
6 - Moderate
7 - High
8 - Moderate High
9 - Very High
10 - Extreme 
Judge the amount of food you need to eat in order to lower your hunger score back down to a score of 1 or 2. Eating until you are overly full or stuffed is not the idea. Remember, when spacing your meals, you will be eating again in a few hours if you're using the science of the six fuelings (see more on this inside chapter 8 from the Habits of Health at 

Eat slowly, and allow food to begin digesting before you decide whether or not you need more. You will gradually feel your energy level, mental alertness and physical discomforts all fade as your food digests and blood sugar is restored. Comfort is the key to satiety, not discomfort which results from being too full.