Stay away from the chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs. Unless they are small, and good quality dark chocolate. Then splurge on a couple with a glass of red wine to maximize the antioxidants! Enjoy!
Between the polar vortex, a long visit with my mom as she recovered from a hip fracture, and the start of school, January passed by in a snowy haze. Since I wasn’t too focused on the start of the new year, I decided to have a “do over” and consider Chinese New Year as my fresh start. Kung Hei Fat Choy, everyone—Happy New Year!
Part of the tradition of the Chinese New Year is to give the house a thorough cleaning…a sweeping away of any misfortune or bad luck from the past year to make way for the incoming good luck and fortune that will surely arrive during the new year. While I can’t say I gave the whole house a thorough cleaning, I did sweep and tidy up the front porch and landing, so I’m hoping for at least a little good fortune!
Along with new years come new resolutions. Did you make any this year, and have you kept them? If so, way to go—double down on them and keep it going! If not, then now’s the time. They can be your Chinese New Year Resolutions…and no, I don’t mean resolve to eat more Cantonese and Shichuan food!
In essence, a resolution is just a big word for goal. Goals should be attainable with a reasonable amount of work and discipline, and they should be measurable. My main resolution involves a little gadget I gave myself for Christmas–a personal fitness tracker called the Jawbone Up. It tracks steps, food intake and sleep patterns. There are other trackers such as the FitBit and the Nike+ that are very similar. I am aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day, and what I have found is that it definitely takes some planning and discipline to reach that goal. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Parking the car in the spot farthest from where you are headed really does make a difference in terms of getting those steps in
- On days when I don’t do a workout I better get myself out there walking for at least 30-45 minutes if I’m going to meet my goal
- Teaming up with a buddy is a good way to keep motivated–my device allows me to see my teammate’s activity and vice-versa so we push each other along
- I plan to do laundry on a day when I don’t work out–doing 4 or 5 loads of laundry and going up and down stairs really adds up
- Chester the wonder dog is the beneficiary of my new goal–at the end of the day if I don’t have enough steps we head out for a walk
- I programmed my tracker to vibrate if I have been sedentary for 30 minutes–that prompts me to get up and get moving for a bit
Using the tracker has definitely motivated me to move more, but even an inexpensive pedometer would do the trick. If you haven’t tried it before, you definitely should–just track your steps for a few days to see what you average, then start ramping up. MySisterSaid we’ll be stepping our way into 2015 a little more fit and healthy!
Does the thought of taking a 30-minute chunk of exercise time out of your busy day to improve your health put you off doing anything at all? What if you broke it down into three 10-minute sessions? Could that also have a positive impact on your health? More and more studies indicate that multiple short sessions of exercise provide the same health benefits as a comparable workout completed in one go. And some studies indicate that shorter sessions are better!
Better health backed by science
A number of universities from around the world presented research results in May at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting. A few highlights:
- Researchers in China compared arterial benefits in men riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes to men doing two 15-minute sessions. They discovered that the benefits provided by the shorter sessions lasted longer.
- In a 2012 study on exercise and blood pressure control, researchers found that among adults with borderline hypertension a 30-minute afternoon walk or three 10-minute walks spaced throughout the day improved overall blood pressure just as effectively. However, the 3x 10-minute routine also reduced later spikes in pressure.
- Scientists also reported almost identical endurance improvements in college students, whether they jogged for 30 minutes on the treadmill or broke it down into 3 sessions.
Don’t let the ’30-minutes of exercise advice’ scare you off!
If you think 30 minutes of exercise is too much – or if it takes up too much time – break it down. Head out for a brisk 10-minute walk or bike ride. Or jump on that treadmill, elliptical trainer or stationary bike haunting you from the corner. You may need to bundle up against the cold. Or depending on your choice of exercise, you may not even need to put on your sweats! Opt for three short sessions, morning, noon and night.
Do you go for long or short workouts? What’s your favorite 10-minute workout?
At bedtime when we were little kids, my mom often said it was “Time for the Sandman to visit“. According to legend, the Sandman would come by and sprinkle sand in your eyes, forcing them to close, thus prompting sleep.
I have to admit that this creeped me out! I mean it wasn’t as if the Sandman was going to leave a dollar under my pillow, like the Tooth Fairy. We’ve all been to the beach and getting sand in your eyes isn’t a very pleasant experience, certainly not something you want to think about while trying to go to sleep!
I did a little research on the “Sandman”, and what my mom failed to impart to me, or perhaps I didn’t hear, is that the the Sandman is a kindly figure, and the sand he sprinkled in your eyes was a very fine magical dust meant to help you fall into a sleep full of wonderful dreams. What a better image than the one my five year old self conjured up!
Based on the latest sleep research, we should all be welcoming the Sandman. Here are a few great reasons to catch some more ZZZZZZs:
Weigh Less: Dieters who get enough sleep lose more fat, whereas dieters who don’t sleep enough lose more muscle mass
Live Longer: More deaths occur in those who get fewer than 5 hours of sleep than those who get adequate sleep
Curb Inflammation: People who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins, which are markers for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging
Boost Immunity: People who get fewer than 7 hours of sleep may be 3 times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who get adequate sleep
Ward off Depression: Getting a good nights sleeps helps reduce anxiety and level-out your mood
There are plenty more good reasons to conjure up your best image of the Sandman and head off to the Land of Nod. What will you do tonight to relax and get some extra sleep?
There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee!
For a long time it was made out to be a baddie, but now science is proving coffee to be our friend. I usually skip the icky-sticky flavor add-ons from the big-name barista-run joints. When I’m travelling I go for café au lait, caffè latte, cappuccino, café con leche, koffie verkeerd, milchkaffee. You get the picture. My cup of perk-me-up comes with milk. On a normal day at home or the office, I use coffee to help me meet my protein quota by adding one of my favorite protein sources: skimmed milk. Half a mug of the milk blasted to piping hot in the microwave and topped off with a healthy splash of dark roast and I’m good to go. If the wonderful taste isn’t enough reason to drink it, here are 11 more reasons to have a cuppa Joe:
Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.
Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed.
Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol).
Coffee can make you feel happier.
Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide.
Coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (if you’re a woman).
Coffee can make you a better athlete.
Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer.
Coffee may make you more intelligent.
Moral of the story? Coffee is a superfood. Keep drinking it!!!
For all the steamy details and science behind the claims, check out the full story in this great article at the Huffington Post