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Filtering by Category: Health

4 Exercises You Can Do While Getting Ready in the Morning

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez | 

Eat. Work. Sleep. This is the daily routine of many Americans. Some are able to squeeze time in for a social life, and even fewer do so for exercise. With work at the top of on our to-do lists (or even taking over our to-do lists), it's easy to compartmentalize exercise as an un-ideal and unproductive task.

Effective exercise doesn't have to look like hours spent at the gym or around the track. Those activities can be wonderful, but are not mandatory for holistic health. 

In a New York Times article titled, "One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn't," Dr. Kujala [a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Jyvaskyla] explained how, "Even if the input from our DNA and upbringing urges us to skip the gym, we can 'move more.'" Based on this study, he says, we can "rapidly and substantially improve the condition of our bodies and brains."

We care for our mental, emotional and physical well-being when we take a few moments to exercise each day. 

When To Exercise

The exercises listed below can be done: 

  • While waiting for the shower to warm up.
  • Waiting for the coffee to brew.
  • This one is especially relevant for #4 since you're likely to be in a kitchen or near a chair. 
  • Waiting for your straightener or curler to heat up. 
  • Waiting for your eggs to fry or bread to toast. 

Get Moving In the Morning

1. Calf Raises

The exercise: Simply stand on your tiptoes and slowly lower your heels without touching the ground. Once your heels get close to touching the ground, raise them back up and repeat. 

How many? Do 1-2 sets of 30-50 calf raises. This should take less than 3 minutes to do. 

2. Squats

The exercise: Place you feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down & stand back up. Focus your weight towards the back of your heels for balance. You can also extend your arms out in front of you to help keep your back straight, which will give you better form.

How many? Start with 2-3 sets of 10 squats in the morning, and feel free to increase as your legs grow stronger. 

3. Push Ups

There are many different ways to do a push up. You can do a traditional push up, a knees-down push up, a standing push up, or (if you want to challenge yourself) a spider push up. 

The exercises: 

  • Traditional push up: Put your weight on your hands and toes. Push down at a 90 degree angle and come back up. Make sure to keep your back straight for better form. 
  • Knees-down push up: Assume a traditional push up position, but instead of balancing on your feet/toes, use your knees. 
  • Standing-up push up: Lean your hands against a wall or a bed at about a 45 degree angle or greater (a greater angle adds difficulty). 
  • Spider push up: Start in a traditional push up form. Lower your body down. As you push back up, pull one of your knees to your side so that it's parallel to your body. Switch between your two legs. Pushing back up and pulling up one of your knees should be simultaneous.

How many?

Start with 1-2 sets of 10 push ups each morning. Feel free to do more once you feel your arms, legs, and core strengthening. 

    

4. Tricep Dips 

*See graphic on right for visual demonstration.

The exercise:

  1. Find a stable chair.
  2. Face your back to the chair. 
  3. Use your arms (specifically your triceps) to lower yourself.
  4. Form a 90 degree angle with your elbow. 
  5. Keep your legs closer to the chair for low intensity, and farther away for high intensity. 

How many? Start with 2-3 sets of 10 triceps dips and increase your amount as you feel your triceps and core strengthening.  

Sometimes the best habits are formed by small steps. We at deliberateLIFE hope that this list of tips will encourage you to care for your body and get movin'.

Keeping Your Mind Sharp: How to Improve Memory

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez |

Is it possible that our busy and technologically innovative generation is having trouble keeping track of all the moving pieces? With so much going on, is it more difficult for us to remember? Gary Small, M.D., director of the Memory & Aging Research Center at UCLA, offers an answer. "Our lives may be more frenetic, but we actually have the capacity to remember much more than we do," said Dr. Small. "We simply need to work on improving our attention." 

Staying focused and paying attention are increasingly important factors to cultivating a strong memory as we grow older. We can do this by focusing and adjusting how we listen, process, and remember information. 

Here are some tips to strengthen your memory:  

Repetition + Association 

Repetition helps you remember everything from someone's name to the details of a software program your company has recently installed. For the best retrieval and in-depth understanding, pair repetition with distinct associations. A recent study in Learning & Memory explained that plain repetition - for example, meeting someone named Dan and repeating 'Dan, Dan, Dan,' again & again - strengthens memory. However, this also makes retrieval 'less precise.' Plain repetition makes it easier for us to get confused when faced with similar choices later on. Imagine seeing him again after a week or two: was it Dan or Don? 

Association is necessary for a strong and precise memory. You can come up with clever expressions related to someone's name; for example, 'Dan the Man.' Or for more complex recollections, acronyms are helpful. Also, do not be afraid to make creative connections - things that may seem odd to others may be helpful to you.

For example, I color-code events in my planner based on my personal associations with that color. Soccer-related events are written in green because grass is green. Events I'm excited for are in light blue since it's my favorite color, and I use dark blue for work-related tasks (because I think it's a more serious color). Serious is an odd way to describe a color, but this technique helps me remember what is happening and when. 

Rest To Remember 

Sleep helps sew our memories together and solidifies long-lasting memories. Harvard Medical School conducted an experiment to study the connection between memory and sleep. They found that people who slept were able to memorize more random words from a list than those who did not have the opportunity to sleep after being shown the words.

Also, make sure to sleep a sufficient number of hours. 

For every hour we’re awake, it takes about a half hour of sleep to process that information.
— Dr. Stickgold

Dr. Robert Stickgold, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition, stated the following: "One of the big functions of sleep is to take the information that we have learned throughout the day and do [a couple of] things with it: first, [sleep] stabilizes it so we won't lose it...second, it actually takes that information and tries to integrate it with older information...it's one thing to memorize something new, it's another thing to figure out what it really means. What does this mean to me? How does this fit in with the rest of my life? We're doing that while we sleep." 

Relax + Recall 

Imagine this: You're in your office or home intently listening to someone speak. You've thought of a valuable response, but right when you open your month to speak, nothing comes out. It's not stage fright; you genuinely forget. 'What in the world was I going to say?' One of the best ways to fight the frustration of forgetting is to give yourself grace and stay calm. "Anxiety distracts us, making it even harder to remember," stated Dr. Small. 

Relax, take a deep breath, and (if needed) tell the person that you need a moment to think, or that you will get back to them later. 

Deal With Stress 

It's important to not just endure the stress you feel. We experience stress for a reason. Try not to ignore it. Stress has physiological repercussions, especially in regards to one's memory due to the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the hippocampus, which is the area in the brain that controls our learning and memory.

When we are stressed, the cortisol levels in our hippocampus rise and obstruct our ability to remember. This inability to remember often leads to frustration and an even higher level of stress. "As you get older, chronically elevated cortisol levels are linked to memory impairment and a smaller hippocampus," explained Shireen Sindi, a researcher at McGill University in their Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. 

Learn what causes you stress and seek healthy ways to adjust your lifestyle. 

Take a Walk

Fun fact: you can expand your hippocampus by staying active! "Fitness improvement...leads to an increase in volume of this brain region [the hippocampus]," stated Dr. Art Kramer, a Univeristy of Illinois professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. 

It does not have to be anything extensive. "Just get out and walk for an hour a few days a week," stated Dr. Kramer. 

So, Remember 

  • Repetition combined with association strengthens your memory. 
  • Sleeping helps us process information. 
  • Don't stress. Staying calm makes it easier to retrieve memories. 
  • Exercise your hippocampus! Staying active improves memory.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Recipe Ideas: What To Make

Annmarie Rodriguez

There are a plethora of tasty fruits and vegetables that are ready for the picking this time of year, as you may have seen in our two previous spring-spirited posts. Here to help you utilize your knowledge of what's in season, we've composed a list of recipes from simple to more complex. Prep time & cook time: 2 minutes to 2 hours. It all really depends on you. 

Simple Recipes 

Pineapple Salsa

Total Time: 10-15 minutes  There are a plethora of tasty fruits and vegetables that are ready for the picking this time of year, as you may have seen in our two previous spring-spirited posts. 

Here to help you utilize you r knowledge of what's in season, we've composed a list of recipes from simple to more complex. Prep time & cook time: 2 minutes to 2 hours. It all really depends on you. 

In a bowl, mix the following ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced fresh pineapple
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

[Recipe brought to you by Whole Foods]

Fresh Peas With Lettuce & Green Garlic Recipe   

Serving Size: 4 people 

Total Time: approx. 10-15 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 5 small stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 small heads butter lettuce (about 6 oz.), washed, cored, and torn into large pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper 

Directions

Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat; add garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add peas and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining butter, along with lettuce and 1 tbsp. water, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Stir until lettuce is just wilted, about 1 minute.

Apple Salad (Contains Celery)

Prep Time: 15 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour & 15 minutes 

Ingredients 

  • 2 large apples diced (Honey crisp recommended)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar 

Directions

  1. Place apples, celery and walnuts in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir mayonnaise and sugar until smooth.
  3. Pour mayonnaise over apples/celery/walnuts and mix well.  
  4. Four the best taste, refrigerate 1 hour before serving.*Tip of the trade: 

*Tip of the trade: the recipe can be easily doubled, if you would like more of this tasty goodness.  

 [Recipe brought to you by Ann Drake]

Recipes that Requires More TLC ~ Time Looking and Cooking 

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

Serving Size: Makes 1 smoothie

Total Time: 5-15 minutes 

Filled with delectable fruits of the season, you can feel happy about both the health benefits and flavor packed into this smoothie. 

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple (fresh in juice recommended)
  • 1/2-1 cup ice cube
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
    • Want to make it vegan or lactose-free friendly? Swap out the skim milk for almond, soy, or rice milk.

Fill the blender with all this refreshing ingredients and blend until the liquid has smoothed.

Feel free to alter the ice input based on desired consistency--thinner or thicker. 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This recipe is a healthy make-over of a family favorite recipe. 

Serving size: makes 5 cups 

Ingredients 

  • 2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1(10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry 
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt 
  • 1 (8 oz) block 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, softened and cut in 1/2" cubes 
  • 1 (8 oz) block fat-free cream cheese, softened and cut in 1/2" cubes 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional garnish)

Directions 

Slow Cooker Method: Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except the red bell pepper. Stir to combine, cover and cook until heated through. 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours on high, 3 to 4 hours on low. [Recipe can be doubled]. 

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside half of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. In a large bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients but the red bell pepper. Spoon mixture into greased or sprayed 1& 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheeses. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes of until bubbly and golden. 

To Serve: Sprinkle cooked dip with diced red pepper, if desired. Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, crostini, or raw vegetables. 

[Recipe by Yummy Life]

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Serving Size: 8 people

Total Time: 2 hours (1 to prep, 1 to cook)

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • looking for a healthy alternative? Try Arrowroot!
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1 egg beaten for glaze
  • sugar (optional) 

Directions 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 

Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch of arrowroot, lemon juice and cinnamon in a bowl. 

  1. On lightly floured surface, roll our half of the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. 
  2. Spoon in the filling from the bowl.
  3. Roll our the pastry for top crust: using pastry wheel or knife, cut into 1-inch wide strips. 
  4. Beat eff and brush pastry rim with some of the egg. 
  5. Gently weave strips over the pic to form lattice; trim and flute the edge. 
  6. Brush lattice with the rest of the beaten egg. Sprinkle top with sugar if using. 
  7. Bake on a baking sheet with the sides in the oven for 15 minutes. 

*Tip of the trade: If you do not have a cookie sheet handy, make a drip catcher out of foil paper, larger than the bottom of thepie plate, and place it under the pie plate and up the sides loosely. 

  1. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes more or until rhubarb is tender, filling is thickened and crust is golden. 
  2. Let the pie cool off for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. 
  3. Enjoy the nutrient-rich ingredients and taste! 
[Recipe from Canadian Living Magazine; May 1993]

Spring Time Vegetables

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez 

‘Eat your vegetables!’ may be an expression echoing through your head from childhood. Since it's a familiar expression, it can be easy to dismiss. Yet, to make consistent healthy choices it’s important to cultivate a deeper understanding of why eating certain vegetables can be valuable.

Similar to our ‘Spring Time Fruits’ post, we have researched and compiled a list of various vegetables that are in their peak season during spring. The list includes their nutritional value.

Our hope is that this will help you shop, cook and eat well.  

Vegetables In Season

Rhubarb is often used as a fruit, but is technically a vegetable. It is available year-round, but grows with greater variety from April through July. It contains a good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese.

*Important to note: rhubarb stalks are the only part of the plant that you should eat.

Asparagus are in their prime during April; however, their full season lasts from February through June. This vegetable contains numerous health benefits due to its many nutrients, including: fiber, folate, Vitamin A, antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, minerals: manganese and selenium).They are high in gluthanthione, which is a 'detoxifying compound' that helps our bodies fight off harmful substances like free radicals.

*Fun fact: Asparagus comes in three colors—green, purple and white. 

Spinach is often referred to as an ultra-healthy 'power' vegetable. If you've ever seen Popeye, a cartoon series from the 1930s, you know what I'm talking about. Popeye, the protagonist, eats a can of spinach in times of need and quickly bulges with muscles and strength. Although you may not gain superhuman strength by eating a can of it, spinach is in fact an incredibly nutritious vegetable. It contains large amounts of Vitamin K which helps our bodies maintain bone health.  It also contains a wonderful supply of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. It is available year-round, but is in season during the spring from March to June. 

*Tip of the trade when cooking spinach: It doesn’t hurt to put a little more spinach in your pan than you might think. Spinach has a large water content which causes it to shrink.

Artichokes are at their peak season from March to May. Artichokes contain a rich nestle of nutrients, which include: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, folate, and great amounts of fiber (about 10 grams for a medium sized artichoke). They hold anti-inflammatory antioxidants within their green, round and slightly spiky exterior.  

*Fun fact: California grows close to 100% of all of the artichokes in the U.S.

Green Garlic is a young form of garlic that looks like green onion because of its stalk. It is in season from February to June. When eaten fresh, green garlic helps boost your immune system due to the allicin it contains, which also gives garlic its strong smell. Because of this, it helps prevent both the cold and flu. 

Peas are in season from April to November. You can eat them cold or warm, whole or just the peas without the pod. In addition to their versatility in consumption, peas are low in calories, and high in protein and fiber. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to the following nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidant mineral zinc, and alpha-linolenic acid (through which peas provide Omega-3 fat). They also contain pisumsaponins I & II along with pisomosides A & B. 

Celery is in season from April to December. Celery is filled with healthy content. It contains Vitamin A, C, E, D, B6, B12, K, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and fiber. All these nutrients gathered together in this green stalk-y vegetable to provide the following health benefits: reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, reduced inflammation (around joints, in the lungs due to asthma, and the like), and it's good for your eyes (due to its Vitamin A content) and soothes your nervous system which means: stress relief! 

*Tip of the trade: It will retain more of its great nutrients if it is freshly chopped. If you're going to chop it up, do so the same day as consumption. 

 

 

[Photograph by David Marsden. Photo Library: Getty Images] 

Spring Time Fruits

Annmarie Rodriguez

For those of us near the west coast, spring is finally here. This means new colors, warmer weather, and new fruits and vegetables.

For your spring know-how, we have compiled a list of fruits that are at their peak during this time of year.

What's In Season

Strawberries are accessible all year-round, but hit their most prime season from April to June.  Health wise, they have a good source of fiber, manganese and potassium. They are also high in vitamin C which is an antioxidant and helps promote immunity.

Sweet Cherries are only available during the late spring and early summer so eat up while you can! These juicy delights are high in potassium and fiber, low in calories.

Pineapples are best during April to May. The Hawaiian ones are considered the freshest, especially those marked with a ‘Jet Fresh’ tag on them. This means (as one might insinuate from the tag) that they were flown over (if you’re not in Hawaii) by a jet and are only 2-3 days old—in terms of when they were plunked from their plant. That’s right! Pineapples come from leafy plants, not trees.

Oranges: Navel, Blood, and Valencia Oranges are currently in season. Navel Oranges are in peak season from March to April, and Blood Oranges are in their prime only during March. Valencia Oranges, often referred to as summer oranges are actually in season as early as March until August. These fruits are a great source of vitamin C, a good source of B Vitamins (including: B1, pantothenic acid and folate), Vitamin A, calcium, copper, and potassium.

Grapefruit are in season from winter to early spring. They are high in Vitamin C and contain the antioxidant lycopene (only found in pink and red grapefruit). Lycopene has a high ability to help fight off oxygen free radicals which damage cells. 


When you choose to buy and eat what is in season, you support our environment and your own health. Enjoy!

7 Tips on Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

Fay Johnson

The holidays are a time of joy for some, stress for others, and lots of food for most. But with a little planning and keeping moderation in mind, the holiday season can be a healthy season too. Here are 7 tips for managing your wellness and weight over the holidays, from Dietician Allison Evanson:

1: Moderation, moderation, moderation – From the Thanksgiving table to office parties, unhealthy foods are likely to surround you this holiday season.  When you decide to indulge, keep the portion small and really enjoy it – remember, one cookie will not add the pounds, but the same can’t be said for frequent treats throughout the holiday season.

2: Save Splurges for the Best – Avoid eating foods that don’t make the grade – if something indulgent isn’t great, put it down and save those calories for something that you can really savor.

3: Be Alcohol Aware – Not only does alcohol contain calories, but the more you drink the less likely you are to make good eating decisions.  Try alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic sugar-free beverages (water, unsweetened tea, etc).

4: Be Buffet Smart – Holiday buffets can be dangerous because of the number of high-fat and high-sugar items available.  Try to fill ½ of your plate with fruits and/or veggies, ¼ with lean protein, and the remaining ¼ with a starchy side.  Decide what you want before filling your plate, so you don’t end up with a scoop of everything!

5: Breakfast is Still the Most Important Part of the Day – It is ok to eat a little lighter during the day if you know you are going to have a big meal in the evening.  However, try not to skip eating altogether, which is likely to cause overeating later in the day.

6: Keep Goals Realistic – If you have been working to lose weight, realize that a good goal for the holidays may be to maintain your weight.

7: Keep Exercising – Exercise can help work off those special treats as well as keep stress at bay.  From walking with family to making time for your regular exercise routine, regular physical activity is good for mind and body.

_____

Allison Evanson, MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian who works with patients to improve their lifestyle habits for disease prevention, weight loss, and health improvement. Allison helps patients find realistic and sustainable ways to incorporate healthy eating into everyday life. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to her here.