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5 Ways to Take a Mental Vacation
You are probably thinking about, or even planning, a summer vacation. If you don’t have the time to take a real vacation, you might find yourself getting more stressed and sad that you can’t take one.
However, the longer days of summer sunlight and the warmer weather mean that you can still take time to relax and unwind without going on a “real” vacation. Here are some ways to clear your mind by taking a “mental” vacation without having to wander too far from home.
Go for a walk or a hike. As I have written here many times, one of the ways I clear my mind is by walking. Walking is not only good for me physically, but I find that it reduces the stress and any sadness I might be feeling. It gets your endorphins going, and by being out in nature you get to focus on the beauty around you. Without even realizing it, you have refocused and gotten your mind off of the things bothering you. This is especially true if you walk in a new or different place, it feels like you have actually gotten away.
Have a music marathon. When I was away at college, our library had soundproof rooms that you could reserve and LP’s and cassettes you could check out. Whenever I was feeling stressed out, or studying for mid-terms or finals, I would go there, pick whatever music matched my mood, or the mood I was hoping to get in and I would spend hours just listening to music. I could listen completely undisturbed and just focus on the music. While my life is much too busy now to do this, incorporating music into my life whenever I can provides me with mini mental breaks. While in the car I listen to my iPod or satellite radio, whenever I am in the house I put music on instead of TV. Singing along is an added stress reducer. And, whenever possible, I just go in a room by myself or even sit or lie outside under a shady tree and listen to music.
Host a comedy movie festival. That old saying, “laughter is the best medicine” really is true. There’s nothing like a great, big belly laugh to make you feel better and forget all of your troubles. Get your friends together and plan a night of it. Have them choose some of their favorites and make sure that everybody turns off or puts away their cell phones and tablets and just focuses on the movie.
Plan a game night or day. Getting in touch with your inner child will clear out all of the negative thoughts and get rid of the stress you are feeling. Try to schedule monthly game nights or game days and play some of your favorite board games, card games or word games. If you want to plan something a little more ambitious, arrange a play “date” with your friends and family and go miniature golfing, bowling, or to a local amusement park.
Unplug with nature. Take the time to connect with nature and unplug. Sit in your garden or go to a garden, go star gazing on a warm summer evening. If you live near the beach or a lake, go and listen and watch the waves as they hit the shore. Just observe the sights and sounds of summer and you will feel like you had a vacation.
Natural Treatments to Reduce Anxiety Symptoms
Catnip is a unique herbal anxiety remedy. Part of the mint family, catnip is designed to treat many of the various symptoms of anxiety. It may be used to alleviate stomach cramps, spams, and irritations (which often occur in those with anxiety). It may also reduce some of the headaches caused by insomnia, improve appetite, and – perhaps most importantly – ease muscle tension and stress in those with severe anxiety.
Chamomile is a natural sedative that is best for mild anxiety.
Chamomile is used to calm nervousness, both in the mind and in the stomach. It can reduce digestive discomforts and improve appetite in those with a great deal of stress.
It has also been linked to reducing headaches and improving liver and lung health. Most experts recommend that chamomile only be used as a temporary treatment, not a long term solution. Chamomile is also popular for anxiety in children.
Fennel isn’t for anxiety specifically, but it is linked to treating some of the most common symptoms of anxiety, including digestion, coughing (many with anxiety have a nervous cough), and asthma (anxiety can exacerbate asthma symptoms). It may also act as an analgesic, diuretic, and antispasmodic – the latter being useful for some types of anxiety.
Kava (also known as Kava Kava) is possibly the most effective herbal supplement for moderate and severe anxiety. The Kava root has been extensively researched for its effects on stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Unlike other herbal anxiety supplements, kava is not only effective for anxiety symptoms – it’s effective for anxious thoughts as well. However, kava has been linked to a few health scares, so it’s advised to talk to your doctor before taking kava, especially if you drink alcohol, take any other medicines, or have any liver problems.
Hops is useful for more than just beer. Hops has a long history of medicinal applications. It’s used to fight insomnia, stress, and headaches. It’s also beneficial for indigestion, general nervousness, and may help reduce fever.
Hops has also been used for lowering uric acid levels in the body, treating infections and skin disorders, and provide some relief from rheumatism, though these are often unrelated to anxiety.
Motherwort’s primary medicinal use is for treating menstrual discomfort. But it is also favored by pregnant women as a way to manage stress and pregnancy tension and anxiety. It’s not recommended for those in the first two trimesters, but it is believed to be effective at stimulating circulation without an increase in pulse rate, lowering blood pressure, fighting heart palpitations, and inducing calmness without any associated fatigue.
Passionflower is a lot like Kava, except without the side effects. Passionflower is considered best for mild to moderate anxiety, although it may still be valuable for severe anxiety. It works by reducing muscle tension and insomnia, calming the nerves to prevent agitation, mood swings, headaches, and hot flashes from anxiety. It’s not recommended to take passionflower if you are using any MAOIs.
Skullcap has sedative, tonic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Skullcap may be used to sooth overly twitching muscles, and may help manage both epilepsy and restless leg syndrome (RLS). Many people use the natural sedative properties of skullcap to fight insomnia, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, and even depression. It should be taken as directed, and should not be used by pregnant women.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is not designed for anxiety specifically, but it is very effective for fighting depression, which is often comorbid with anxiety symptoms. St. John’s Wort is also an effective mood lifter. It has also been used for diarrhea, gastroenteritis, viral infections of the chest, lungs, and genitals, and many other valuable medicinal uses.
Valerian Root is an incredible effective sedative. It’s used primarily as a sleep aid, but the sedative qualities of valerian are effective at soothing muscles and reducing mental and physical tension so that you can easily relax. It may also be used to relieve uterine cramps, persistent coughs, and bronchial spasms. It is not recommended for children under 12, pregnant women, or anyone taking other antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs.
Moms: How to Pamper Yourself in 10 Minutes
You do it all. You manage the house, soothe skinned knees, cuddle away nightmares. Ask any mom when she last took time for herself, and she’ll probably say “Time for myself? What’s that?”
But if you don’t care for yourself, you can’t care for others, says psychotherapist and parenting coach Tammy Gold. “Think of yourself as a bucket. If you’re constantly dipping into that bucket to give to your husband, your kids, the rest of your family and your friends, but you never give back to yourself, that bucket eventually goes dry and you have nothing more to give.”
Most moms can’t get away for many spa weekends. But you should be able to carve out at least 10 to 20 minutes from every busy day that’s just for you. “Mark it on your calendar if you have to, just like any other appointment,” says Gold. “Otherwise there’s always something else that takes priority.”
What can you do with those precious minutes? Plenty!
1. Waste Time.
Busy moms are perpetually multi-tasking. Try taking a completely purposeless 10 minutes that’s just for you and not your to-do list. Gold suggests reading a (totally fluffy) magazine or a chapter of a book you’ve long neglected (no parenting manuals, please!), or just lying on your bed with your feet up.
2. Phone a Friend.
Ten minutes doesn’t give you enough time to meet up for a cup of coffee, but it does give you time to sit by the kitchen window and reconnect with someone you care about. Try not to dwell on your kids’ sports activities and test scores. Instead, chat about the other things you connect over, whether it’s a love of travel, or the latest episode of your favorite TV show.
3. Massage or Manicure
Many malls and nail salons offer inexpensive 10-minute foot, back, or neck massages, or speed manicures. Find the closest one to you and pay a visit once a week.
4. Get All Wet
In the middle of the day, there’s nothing that feels quite as decadent as lying down to soak in the tub with a fizzy bath bomb or a silky soak.
5 Tips to help relieve anxiety
Why Relaxing Matters
Running a business, even an online business that’s not too big, can be a roller-coaster ride.
Exciting highs. Heart-breaking lows. And as we juggle responsibilities, fit all we have to do into a crowded and shrinking work day, shifting and adapting to a constantly changing playground, battling the effects of recessionary trends or hungry new competition, we experience stress.
If it keeps on accumulating, we start to feel the ill effects. Sagging enthusiasm. Frequent tiredness. Fading optimism. Bleaker outlook for the future. Even serious health problems.
Relaxing frequently has never been more important. Here are some reasons why.
* De-stress: Functioning under a constant burden of stress is like trying to fly an airplane with the wheels unlocked and the flaps down. There’s more ‘drag’ and greater resistance against which much of your energy is wasted.
* Get Creative: Your best ideas often pop-up when you’re most relaxed and in free thinking mode. While working under adverse conditions may provide an adrenaline surge to meet deadlines, it really isn’t a great way to spur creativity.
* Evaluate and Assess: Relaxing from time to time lets you spend some time reviewing your performance and seeing how well things are going. Do they need adjustment? Is some part out of balance? Are you doing what needs to be done? Should you delegate stuff? These answers are easier to find while you relax.
* Celebrate: Taking time in your hectic schedule to break away from work and rejoice in what you’ve accomplished can be a forceful drive to achieve even more. If you can’t do this daily, shoot for at least once a week. And if you can’t find something big to celebrate, why, revere the small ones!
* Rejuvenate: A short ‘vacation’ from the hustle and bustle of your typical work-day can help ignite the passion and excitement that got you started and fired you up in the early days, when running a business wasn’t so much a chore as a joyous adventure. Capture that spirit, in a small way, through relaxing breaks from the routine.
Women’s Health Tips for Heart, Mind, and Body
Looking for the path toward a healthier you? It’s not hard to find. The journey begins with some simple tweaks to your lifestyle. The right diet, exercise, and stress-relief plan all play a big role.
Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
There’s an easy recipe if your goal is to keep away problems like heart disease and strokes.
Eat more fruits and veggies.
Choose whole grains. Try brown rice instead of white. Switch to whole wheat pasta.
Choose lean proteins like poultry, fish, beans, and legumes.
Cut down on processed foods, sugar, salt, and saturated fat.
When eating healthy, flexibility often works best, says Joyce Meng, MD, assistant professor at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. If you like to follow a strict diet plan, go for it. If not, it’s OK. “Find what works for you.”
Tricia Montgomery, 52, the founder of K9 Fit Club, knows first-hand how the right diet and lifestyle can help. For her, choosing healthy foods and planning small, frequent meals works well. “I don’t deny myself anything,” she says. “I still have dessert — key lime pie, yum! — and I love frozen gummy bears, but moderation is key.”
Exercise Every Day
The more active you are, the better, Meng says. Exercise boosts your heart health, builds muscle and bone strength, and wards off health problems.
Aim for 2 and a half hours of moderate activity, like brisk walking or dancing, every week. If you’re OK with vigorous exercise, stick to 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of things like running or playing tennis. Add a couple of days of strength training, too.
If you’re busy, try short bursts of activity throughout the day. Walk often. A good target is 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs. Park your car far away from your destination.
Montgomery exercises every day, often with her dog. By adding lunges, squats, and stairs to a walk, she turns it into a power workout. “I also am a huge Pilates fan,” she says.
When you shed pounds you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Aim for a slow, steady drop. Try to lose 1-2 pounds a week by being active and eating better.
“It doesn’t have to be an hour of intense exercise every day,” Meng says. “Any little bit helps.”
As you improve, dial up the time and how hard you work out. If you want to lose a lot of weight, try for 300 minutes of exercise a week.
“Eating a healthy diet will go a long way,” Meng says. Start by cutting sugar, which she says is often hiding in plain sight — in store-bought items like salad dressing, packaged bread, and nuts. Try to avoid soda and sugar-laced coffee drinks, too.
Visit Your Doctor
Get regular checkups. Your doctor keeps track of your medical history and can help you stay healthy. For example, if you’re at risk for osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones, he may want you to get more calcium and vitamin D.
Your doctor may recommend screening tests to keep an eye on your health and catch conditions early when they’re easier to treat.
Keep the lines of communication open. “If you have questions, ask your doctor,” Meng says. “Make sure you understand things to your satisfaction.” If you’re worried about a medication or procedure, talk to him about it.
Cut Down Your stress
It can take a toll on your health. You probably can’t avoid it altogether, but you can find ways to ease the impact. Don’t take on too much. Try to set limits with yourself and others. It’s OK to say no.
To relieve stress, try:
Talking to a friend, family member, or professional counselor
Create Healthy Habits
If you make the right choices today, you can ward off problems tomorrow.
Brush your teeth twice a day and floss every day.
Limit your alcohol. Keep it to one drink a day.
If you have medication, take it exactly how your doctor prescribed it.
Improve your sleep. Aim for 8 hours. If you have trouble getting shut-eye, talk to your doctor.
Use sunscreen and stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wear your seatbelt.
Take time every day to invest in your health, Meng says.
It paid off for Montgomery. She says she overcame health problems, feels good, and has a positive outlook. “My life,” she says, “is forever changed.”
Health Tip: Copy your kitty: Learn to do stretching exercises when you wake up. It boosts circulation and digestion, and eases back pain.
8 Diet Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief
Food might not be the first thing on your mind when you have the stiffness, swelling, and pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But what if it could provide some relief?
It’s no substitute for your medicine, but it can help, says Anca D. Askanase, MD, clinical director of rheumatology at Columbia University.
No. 1. Switch to Olive Oil
Take a cue from the healthy Mediterranean population and make extra-virgin olive oil a staple in your dressings and sauces. Swap saturated fat like butter and red meat with healthier choices like olive oil. It can ease inflamed joints and lessen morning stiffness, says Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can raise your chances of heart disease, so adding healthy fats to your diet is good for more than your joints, Sandon says, who also has RA. What’s more, virgin olive oil contains a compound that has anti-inflammatory properties similar to nonsteroidal medications (your doctor may refer to them as NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of olives and can fight inflammation more than refined light versions.
No. 2. Bite Into Beans
Legumes like lentils and beans are chock full of protein, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also a great source of fiber. They can keep you feeling full on fewer calories, Sandon says, which can help you drop extra pounds.
Keeping a healthy weight is important for people with RA, she adds, because it reduces pressure on your weight-bearing joints. It also cuts the inflammation in your system that’s a byproduct of body fat.
Fiber-rich foods can lower your levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance that is a sign of inflammation in your body.
No. 3. Choose Colorful Veggies
Bright vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and dark, leafy greens are full of powerful nutrients. They also have antioxidants, which may help reduce joint damage caused by inflammation, Sandon says.
Veggies like kale and broccoli are good sources. They can lower signs of inflammation in your body, like pain and swelling. Plus, adding fiber-rich, low-calorie vegetables is another way to help you lose weight and ease stress on your joints.
If pain in your fingers and wrists makes chopping and food prep hard, use pre-cut veggies and fruits you can find at the grocery store, Sandon says.
No. 4. Stick With Salmon
Fish is high in vitamin D. You really need this bone-building nutrient in your diet because RA can put you at increased risk for poor bone health. “There is often bone loss around inflamed joints, and steroid medications can be hard on your bones,” Askanase says. Plus, pain might stop you from getting regular exercise, which could also make your bones weaker.
Just 3 ounces of salmon can provide more vitamin D than you need for an entire day. You can also find many brands of milk and orange juice with vitamin D.
Cold-water fish like salmon also offers omega-3 fatty acids, a good fat that can help keep your heart healthy and lower inflammation, Sandon says.
No. 5. Hit the Walnuts
Walnuts are another good source of omega-3s. Along with vitamins and minerals, nuts are a healthy source of fat in general. How healthy? One study showed that people who ate the most nuts for over 15 years were half as likely to die from inflammatory diseases like RA, compared with those who ate the least. Still, nuts are high in calories, so limit your portion to around an ounce.
No. 6. Make Time for Tea
Sip on some steamy mugs of green tea throughout the day. Not only will you get hydration without calories, but it may also ease your RA symptoms. That’s because green tea has unique antioxidants that zap inflammation compounds.
The brew can also help your heart by improving blood cholesterol numbers. Just be sure to enjoy it straight up. Proteins in milk can bind to the antioxidants in green tea and reduce their power.
No. 7. Ride the Whole-Grain Train
Swap out white bread and rice for whole grains like brown rice, oats, and quinoa. This can lower levels of compounds in your body that trigger flares. “Whole grains contain levels of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals not found in refined versions that make them more beneficial for those with arthritis,” Sandon says. Whole grains may also help with weight loss.
You might find a gluten-free diet helps RA symptoms. If you want to try it, steer clear of grains like wheat and barley, Askanase says. You can still enjoy plenty of gluten-free whole grains including quinoa, millet, oats, and amaranth.
No. 8. Reach for the Citrus
Grapefruit and oranges have high amounts of antioxidants to help soothe burning joints. You also get a good dose of vitamin C, which can help limit the wear on your joints, Sandon says. Eating a lot of grapefruit has been known to lower the amount of CRP. You can snack on a tasty clementine, add grapefruit segments to salads, or blend peeled oranges into smoothies.
The Ultimate Arthritis Diet
Stock your fridge and pantry with Mediterranean staples to fight pain and inflammation.
One of the most common questions people with any form of arthritis have is, “Is there an arthritis diet?” Or more to the point, “What can I eat to help my joints?”
The answer, fortunately, is that many foods can help. Following a diet low in processed foods and saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans is great for your body. If this advice looks familiar, it’s because these are the principles of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which is frequently touted for its anti-aging, disease-fighting powers.
Studies confirm eating these foods can do the following:
Lower blood pressure
Protect against chronic conditions ranging from cancer to stroke
Help arthritis by curbing inflammation
Benefit your joints as well as your heart
Lead to weight loss, which makes a huge difference in managing joint pain.
Whether you call it a Mediterranean diet, an anti-inflammatory diet or simply an arthritis diet, here’s a look at key foods to focus on – and why they’re so good for joint health.
How much: Health authorities like The American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend three to four ounces of fish, twice a week. Arthritis experts claim more is better.
Why: Some types of fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. A study of 727 postmenopausal women, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2004, found those who had the highest consumption of omega-3s had lower levels of two inflammatory proteins: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6.
More recently, researchers have shown that taking fish oil supplements helps reduce joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness and disease activity among people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Best sources: Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies, scallops and other cold-water fish. Hate fish? Take a supplement. Studies show that taking 600 to 1,000 mg of fish oil daily eases joint stiffness, tenderness, pain and swelling.
Nuts & Seeds
How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (one ounce is about one handful).
Why: “Multiple studies confirm the role of nuts in an anti-inflammatory diet,” explains José M. Ordovás, PhD, director of nutrition and genomics at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 found that over a 15-year period, men and women who consumed the most nuts had a 51 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease (like RA) compared with those who ate the fewest nuts. Another study, published in the journal Circulation in 2001 found that subjects with lower levels of vitamin B6 – found in most nuts – had higher levels of inflammatory markers.
More good news: Nuts are jam-packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. And though they’re relatively high in fat and calories, studies show noshing on nuts promotes weight loss because their protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats are satiating. “Just keep in mind that more is not always better,” says Ordovás.
Best sources: Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds.
Fruits & Veggies
How much: Aim for nine or more servings daily (one serving = 1 cup of most veggies or fruit or 2 cups raw leafy greens).
Why: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. These potent chemicals act as the body’s natural defense system, helping to neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage cells.
Research has shown that anthocyanins found in cherries and other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Citrus fruits – like oranges, grapefruits and limes – are rich in vitamin C. Research shows getting the right amount of that vitamin aids in preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints.
Other research suggests eating vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood.
Best sources: Colorful fruits and veggies – the darker or more brilliant the color, the more antioxidants it has. Good ones include blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli.
How much: Two to three tablespoons daily
Why: Olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has properties similar to nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. “This compound inhibits activity of COX enzymes, with a pharmacological action similar to ibuprofen,” says Ordovás. Inhibiting these enzymes dampens the body’s inflammatory processes and reduces pain sensitivity.
Best sources: Extra virgin olive oil goes through less refining and processing, so it retains more nutrients than standard varieties. And it’s not the only oil with health benefits. Avocado and safflower oils have shown cholesterol-lowering properties while walnut oil has 10 times the omega-3s that olive oil has.
How much: About one cup, twice a week (or more)
Why: Beans are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients, which help lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. At high levels, CRP could indicate anything from an infection to RA. In a study published in The Journal of Food Composition and Analysis in 2012, scientists analyzed the nutrient content of 10 common bean varieties and identified a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Beans are also an excellent and inexpensive source of protein, with about 15 grams per cup, which is important for muscle health.
Best sources: Small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans rank among the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top four antioxidant-containing foods (wild blueberries being in the number 2 spot).
How much: Eat a total of 6 ounces of grains per day; at least 3 of which should come from whole grains. One ounce of whole grain would be equal to ½ cup cooked brown rice or 1 slice of whole-wheat bread.
Why: Whole grains contain plenty of filling fiber – which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Some studies have also shown that fiber and fiber-rich foods can lower blood levels of the the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein.
Best sources: Eat foods made with the entire grain kernel, like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa. Some people may need to be careful about which whole grains they eat. Gluten – a protein found in wheat and other grains – has been linked to inflammation for some people.
Should You Avoid Nightshades?
Nightshade vegetables, including eggplant, tomatoes, red bell peppers and potatoes, are disease-fighting powerhouses that boast maximum nutrition for minimal calories.
They also contain solanine, a chemical that has been branded the culprit in arthritis pain. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that nightshades trigger arthritis flares. In fact, some experts believe these vegetables contain a potent nutrient mix that helps inhibit arthritis pain.
However, many people do report significant symptom relief when they avoid nightshade vegetables. So doctors say, if you notice that your arthritis pain flares after eating them, do a test and try eliminating all nightshade vegetables from your diet for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Road to Good Health?
If you have a condition that causes inflammation, it may help to change your eating habits.
While medication and other treatments are important, many experts say that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help, too. If you have, say, rheumatoid arthritis, changing what’s on your plate won’t be a magic cure — but it might lessen the number of flare-ups that you have, or it may help take your pain down a few notches.
An anti-inflammatory diet is widely regarded as healthy, so even if it doesn’t help with your condition, it can help lower your chances of having other problems.
What to Eat
In a nutshell, anti-inflammatory foods are those that any mainstream nutrition expert would encourage you to eat. They include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices.
Fruits and veggies: Go for variety and lots of color. Research has shown that vitamin K-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale curb inflammation, as does broccoli and cabbage. And the substance that gives fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blackberries their color is a type of pigment that also helps fight inflammation.
Whole grains: Oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains tend to be high in fiber, and fiber also may help with inflammation.
Beans: They’re high in fiber, plus they’re loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances.
Nuts: They have a healthy kind of fat that helps stop inflammation. (Olive oil and avocados are also good sources.) Stick to just a handful of nuts a day; otherwise, the fat and calories will add up.
Foods to Avoid
Originally created to enhance flavor, extend shelf life and improve texture, these fats are present in a myriad of foods that many people eat on a daily basis. Small amounts of these fats occur in lamb, beef and full fat dairy, however they are most often present when vegetable oil is processed to solid fat.
Because of FDA food labeling laws and consumer awareness, many food manufacturers have worked to reformulate their products in a way that reduces or eliminates these fats. However, these fats still exist in many products that you may not expect. You should look for trans fats in any of these products:
Chocolate drink mixes
Trans Fat Labeling on Foods
The FDA allows labels of 0g trans fat on anything with .5g or less of trans fat per serving, so even if you are trying to be conscientious, you may end up eating a significant amount of trans fats. For this reason, in addition to looking at the nutritional facts, you should also look at the ingredients list. Anything that contains “partially hydrogenated” oil contains trans fat. Though it may only be a small amount, these fats add up quickly, and single servings are often quite a bit less than one would eat.
Because most of the foods that contain trans fats are snack foods, even without containing trans fats, they are not necessarily nutritionally sound. They are often loaded with empty calories and should be avoided regardless. The only way to have a truly healthy diet is to eat a wide mix of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
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Porn Star Tasha Reign Shares Her Tips for Staying Fit and Camera Ready
Tasha Reign is one of the porn stars who gave us her tips for getting in shape and staying camera ready at all times. We recently checked in with her to learn more about her focus on fitness and how she squeezes in a workout whether she is on set and mid-scene or on the road.
What is the craziest workout/diet/fitness trend that you have tried to stay in shape?
Tasha Reign: The craziest diet trend that I have tried to utilize has been the “juice cleanse.” It is extremely popular is Los Angeles and I have attempted three different times with two different cleanses, specifically “Pressed Juicery” and “Clover.” They do make you automatically flatter in the stomach, and think clearer because there are no processed foods inside of them. However, beware of getting dizzy and disoriented, although you are technically digesting fruits and vegetables you need more to sustain your diet. This is a good solution if you are looking for a quick fix in three days for a photo shoot or a formal event.
How do you get back on track when you get out of your usual routine or go on vacation?
TR: I travel 24/7, literally all the time for vacation and pleasure. It is extremely problematic, because I adore routine, I like to do the same thing over and over again, and that is just not happening when I wake up in Ohio, with a hangover at two in the afternoon. I feature dance a minimum of twice a week, where I headline at a gentlemen’s club, so it can be draining.
I try my very best to sanctify my life when I am home in L.A., and make the most of every moment. I find the nearest Pilates or yoga place to the hotel that I am staying at and try to make a morning or afternoon class, or even just force myself to go the gym once a day. I also locate the nearest Starbucks and make sure to bring my gratitude journal along, plus vitamins. If I can just remember to do those things when I wake up, it sets a tone for the day and the evening. Also, eating healthy is a must, I am a vegetarian so I use the app “Postmates,” as well as “Grub Hub,” to make sure I have options! Basically, making sure you keep up your routine when you travel and vacation is the solution!
Do you have any current fitness goals that you are working toward?
TR: I have a personal trainer who comes to my home twice a week, and I make sure to go to Pilates three times a week. Pushing myself and making sure I show up to my workouts 110% are my goals and I am very motivated to continue with them. By New Years, I would like to feel like the best possible me, health wise, it’s not so much an image as it is a lifestyle.
What are your favorite calorie-burning sex positions?
TR: My favorite calorie-burning sex position is something I usually save for the camera, we call it “Reverse Cowgirl”… I love this one, it’s a real leg burner! I also enjoy giving [oral sex] on my knees, you can, believe it or not, turn that into an ab/arm/whole body workout!
[Image via Instagram // @tashareigndotcom]
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USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion
The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) was established in 1994 to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans. Toward this goal, CNPP focuses its efforts on two primary objectives:
Advance and promote dietary guidance for all Americans, and
Conduct applied research and analyses in nutrition and consumer economics.
CNPP’s core projects to support its objectives are the following:
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
USDA Food Guidance System (MyPlate, MiPlato, MyPyramid, Food Guide Pyramid)
Healthy Eating Index
USDA Food Plans
Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply
Expenditures on Children by Families
CNPP and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) are agencies of USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.
How to Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
More mommy and me workout…coming daddy and me.
Mommy and me Work Out
Couple Hiking the Presidential Traverse
Climbing on rocks, jumping over streams, and balancing on logs makes me feel like I’m a kid again. It’s amazing what you can see and experience just a few paces from the trailhead. Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are great, but many of my best memories occurred just a few miles from home.
I’ve had a fawn, groundhog, and fox within arm’s reach. I’ve walked under waterfalls, over natural bridges, and into caves. It’s a fun, healthy, and inexpensive way to exercise and clear your head.
Know your physical abilities
Before considering a hike, you should evaluate your physical abilities and limitations. Many factors, like the weather, terrain and altitude, affect the physical challenge of your hike. Always give some thought to the worst-case scenarios.
You’ll also need to take your endurance or strength into account. Hiking is a unique exercise, especially if you plan to carry a backpack. Give your body time to adjust to the specific strains of hiking.
Know your limits
Don’t start off planning a hike that will have you climbing rock faces, crossing rivers, gathering food or anything else you don’t know anything about. Learn the skills, then practice them.
It’s also a good idea to keep your mental stability and strength in mind. How would you deal with an accident like a cut or sprained ankle? What happens if you get lost? Prepare for such incidents and know how you’d deal with them.
You may need to build up your physical abilities before your first hike. If you’ve never hiked, make sure to prepare your body, start slowly and prepare for the challenges. Because hiking uses specific muscle groups, you probably need to prepare even if you think you’re in great shape.
Hiking up and down hills on varying terrains and in all kinds of conditions cause their own distinct kind of strain on your body.Choose a four- or five-mile route near your home with plenty of inclines. Since walking up and down inclines uses more energy than walking on level ground, you may have to begin at a pace that’s slightly slower than your normal walking speed. Walk this route a few times a week for several weeks, until you can manage it comfortably at a moderate pace.
Before you go, make sure you have a good pair of hiking boots or all-terrain shoes. You’ll probably also want to take some water and snacks. The links below will give you more ideas about what equipment you’ll need.
I find that exercise really helps me during the week. It gives me more energy and less stress of the day to day things that come with having a family. I have my individual workout regime and my time of walking and hanging out with the kids.
Exercise Frequency – How often should you workout per week?
When putting together your workout routine, the first major component you need to figure out is your exercise frequency. As in, how often and how many times should you workout per week?
Now, I’ll admit… that’s a pretty broad question. After all, terms like “exercise frequency” and “workout frequency” can have a ton of different meanings.
But for us though, here’s the 3 specific exercise frequencies that we need to care about most:
Overall Exercise Frequency: How often and how many times will we do any form of exercise (weight training, cardio, etc.) per week?
Weight Training Frequency: How often and how many times will we weight train per week?
Muscle Group/Body Part Frequency: How often and how many times will we train each muscle group or body part per week?
The main exercise frequency missing from that list is cardio frequency, but seeing as this is a guide to putting together the best weight training workout routine possible, cardio is a topic we’ll get to in depth at some other time (don’t worry, a cardio-specific guide is already on my to-do list).
For now, let’s focus on those 3 extremely important frequencies.
Overall Exercise Frequency
So, the first thing we need to decide on is how many times we will workout per week total. This would include weight training workouts, cardio workouts, whatever. It’s our overall exercise frequency.
Now, this is the one that can vary the most because it depends on many factors specific to you and your goal (example: a fat person with the primary goal of losing fat may have 4 cardio workouts per week, while a skinny person with the primary goal of building muscle may do no cardio whatsoever).
Because of this, it’s impossible to say exactly how often/how many times everyone should be working out per week total.
However, there is 1 general rule I can pretty much definitively set in terms of everyone’s overall exercise frequency.
And that rule is: take at least 1 full day off per week from all forms of exercise.
That means, AT THE VERY MOST, you should be exercising 6 times per week total (and again, this includes weight training, cardio, and any other form of exercise).
I’m setting this rule because I am pretty confident that there is no one reading this that needs to be or would benefit from working out 7 days a week.
In fact, I’d say that there are many people reading this who should set their maximum total exercise frequency at between 3-5 times per week depending on their goal.
Why? Because it’s not only NOT necessary for reaching your goal… it’s almost always counterproductive.
Weight Training Frequency
While too many individual factors come into play for me to get super specific about overall exercise frequency, weight training frequency is the opposite. I can get pretty damn specific here.
If it isn’t obvious enough, weight training frequency in this case will refer to how often and how many times we weight train per week.
My recommendation is: the majority of the population should weight train 3-4 times per week, and never more than 2 consecutive days in a row.
Some people can get away with 5 (although few truly need it), and some people can get by with 2. However, for most of the people, most of the time, you’ll get your best results with either 3 or 4 total weight training workouts per week.
This is based on the fact that the majority of the most highly proven and intelligently designed workout programs in existence are all built around doing 3 or 4 weight training workouts per week.
The same goes for having no more than 2 weight training workouts on back-to-back days.
These recommendations appear to create the sweet spot in terms of allowing for optimal recovery, and when recovery is at its best, your results will be at their best too.
Muscle Group/Body Part Frequency
And last but definitely not least, we have muscle group/body part frequency.
Out of all the different exercise frequencies, how often and how many times you should train each muscle group or body part per week is by FAR the most discussed, argued, thought about, screwed up, and potentially confusing one of them all.
That’s why I think the best way to fully explain it all is by taking a look at the pros and cons of each of the 3 most common muscle group/body part frequencies.
Those 3 frequencies are:
Training each muscle group/body part once per week.
Training each muscle group/body part twice per week.
Training each muscle group/body part three times per week.
Now let’s break them down one-by-one and see exactly which frequency will work best for you. First up…
Mental Health Tips for Wellness and Stress Management
Mental health wellness involves a sense of well-being, an ability to function during everyday life, managing stress levels when adversity arises, as well as feeling confident to pursue opportunities when presented. Maintaining an individual’s mental health wellness is of equal importance to a person’s physical health, and there are actions that could be taken to optimize mental health. Here are some tips to boost a person’s well-being and encourage good mental health, as well as help manage stress in daily life.
One tip for mental health wellness and stress management that cannot be understated is the need to build interpersonal relationships and develop a strong support system. Specifically, developing and maintaining relationships with people around an individual who will support and enhance a person’s life, as well as look out for their interests. The depth and scope of these personal relationships has a significant effect on a person’s well-being. Investing time and effort into building strong relationships could reap tremendous benefits and rewards.
Another tip that is essential to mental health wellness and stress management is the concept of Me time. It is important to set aside time for recreational activities and projects an individual enjoys and in which they look forward to participating. Additionally, it is also important to be spontaneous and allow a person’s creative juices to flow. Go to the movies, tackle a crossword, enjoy a walk or run, read a book, or play chess. An individual who allows for spontaneity and creativity will ultimately be more productive and satisfied.
A third tip that could promote good mental health and increase a person’s sense of well-being is participation in group activities. By joining a club or group of people who have shared interests, an individual might not feel isolated or alone. Being part of a group with a common interest fosters a sense of belonging and is good for mental health. An individual could form common bonds with people at a gym, band, dance class, book club, theatre, or singing group.
An invaluable tip that promotes mental health wellness and stress management, as well as gives back to the community, is volunteerism. By volunteering time for a cause or issue an individual is invested in, it helps promote a person’s sense of well-being and purpose in life. Whether someone helps out a neighbor, works at a local food bank, or devotes time to hospice care, they will know their contributions mattered and their efforts were appreciated. Moreover, efforts to improve the lives of others will likely boost an individual’s karma and help reinforce the concept of good deeds for humanity.
An essential tip to keep in mind that plays a vital role in mental health wellness and stress management is the concept of healthy mind/healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked and people tend to feel more satisfied in life when their body and mind feel good. There is also a well-known link between physical activity and lower stress levels. Therefore, individuals could help maintain a healthy body by combining physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish their bodies and minds, as well as promote stress management.
Another tip that promotes mental health wellness is learning a new skill or taking on a new goal. A person could set new career goals, a fitness goal, or learn to cook. Being a perpetual learner improves an individual’s mental fitness, while striving to meet and achieve new goals helps build skills, confidence, and a sense of achievement.
One of the most important tips to promoting mental health wellness is proper stress management. An individual should become aware of their stress triggers and reactions. By doing so, a person could learn to avoid some of the triggers and manage others. Stress is present in everyone’s daily life and it affects individuals in different ways. A balanced lifestyle could also help with stress management. For those who have trouble decompressing, certain coping techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, stress balls, or meditation have proven effective in stress management.
Another essential tip to mental health wellness and stress management is getting enough sleep. Sleep restores and repairs both the mind and body. An individual should try to get on a regular sleep schedule and practice good habits to get better sleep. Feelings of fatigue could still set in if an individual feels constantly rushed and overwhelmed when they are awake. Therefore, it is important to allow some Me time each day to relax and refresh. Indulge in a daydream, go for a walk or run, listen to some music, or just take time to smell the roses. If possible, days off or ‘do nothing’ days could prove extremely beneficial for mental health wellness and stress management.
Perhaps one of the most valuable and underutilized tips for mental health wellness and stress management is the ability to ask for help when an individual becomes overwhelmed and cannot handle everything on their own. It is at times like these that an individual’s support system could prove invaluable. Maybe a friend could babysit while a person takes some much-needed Me time, or consult a doctor regarding mental health services available in the community. It is safe to say a perfect, worry-free life does not exist and life’s journey will present challenges for everyone along the way. However, help is available and no one should feel they are alone in their struggles. When an individual is in crisis, there are services available that provide an array of assistance. Mental health wellness and stress management is essential to the healthy mind/healthy body dynamic. Hopefully, more individuals will recognize the need to address this dynamic and foster the relationships involved.
Opinion by Leigh Haugh
Damaging Effects of Too Much Sugar in the Diet
Sugar provides an average of 16 percent of the calories in the standard American diet, according to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010,” mainly from soft drinks, fast food and desserts. This corresponds to a whopping 18 to 26 teaspoons of extra sugar a day, based on a 1,800- to 2,600-calorie diet. Excessive sugar in your diet can not only make you gain weight, but can also negatively affect your overall health.
It is no surprise that consuming too much sugar can make you gain weight. Extra sugar your body does not immediately require for energy can easily be converted to triglycerides, a type of fat that can then be stored around your waist as well as in your hips and thighs. Sugary beverages, such as soft drinks and fruit-flavored punches, are the worst offenders because their liquid calories do not affect satiety and can even make you crave more. Over time, many studies have validated the association between sugar, especially in beverages, and obesity, according to an article published in 2006 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”
The sugar you eat eventually makes its way into your bloodstream, where it can elevate your blood sugar levels. The more sugar you eat, the more fluctuations you will have in your blood sugar levels. One of the damaging effects of a diet high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates is that it puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to an article published in 2002 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” If you already have diabetes, whether it is type 1, type 2 or gestational, too much sugar in your diet can prevent you from keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
Impaired Immune System
Your immune system is one of the most important defense mechanisms your body has against infections. Eating too much sugar can seriously compromise the ability of your immune system to fight viruses, bacteria and parasites, according to a classic study cited in in “USA Today” in 2009. In this study, eating sugar, either from table sugar, honey or unsweetened orange juice, depressed the immune system of healthy volunteers by about 50 percent for up to five hours. If you eat sugar at every meal, it means that your immune system will be functioning at half-capacity for most of the day.
In addition to elevating your blood sugar levels, constantly eating too much sugar can also result in elevated insulin levels. Insulin is an hormone your pancreas produces in response to rising blood sugar levels. The more sugar and refined carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin your pancreas produces, according to the international glycemic index table published in 2002 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” However, chronically high insulin levels are associated with an increased risk of some cancers, heart diseases, polycystic ovarian syndrome, acne and even myopia, according to an article published in 2003 in “Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A.” Reducing your sugar intake will help you lower your insulin levels and your risk of developing these chronic conditions.
Simple recipes that parents and children can make together, advice on making meals healthy and delicious, and ways to come home with bagsful of groceries that don’t break the bank. You will also find lifelong fitness routines and other kid-friendly physical activities. “Health” has features to keep you informed of medical trends.