Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top Five: Whole Body Health in 2013

Written by the fabulous Kim, The Healthy Engineer.

So I went back and forth about what I wanted to share with you guys this week while Tabby is away.  I wanted to share something that you guys would be interested in while still talking about something that I actually know about.  And I after deciding and writing up almost a whole post I completely changed gears.  I decided to talk to you all about five quick things you can do today to improve your family's health.

Why did I decide to talk about this?  

Easy - because I think from talking to friends that people find today's health environment overwhelming.  Eat this.  Don't eat that.  Test this.  Read about this.  You are a bad mom/friend/wife if you cook this.  So on and so forth.  I think people get overwhelmed, I certainly have gotten that way, and don't know what to do. This list isn't inclusive, but it really is a great way in my experience, to start making some changes for your family that will make you all healthier and happier.

1. Meatless Mondays.  Adding one vegetarian or vegan dinner for your family a week will change your family in many ways.  First of all, it's typically cheaper to cook a simple meal without meat and second it also is a day to try out new recipes and try new vegetables.  Most of us eat the same foods a lot.  I know I did growing up.  Now I get a lot of strange looks from my mom when she realizes that I really never repeat recipes except for a handful of favorites.  Branch out!  Try new things!  Eat some seasonal fresh vegetable based dishes and for bonus health points have a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert.  My new favorite thing is to whip my own whipped cream (incredibly easy, cream whipped until it's stiff, then add to taste powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla extract) and put on top of sliced banana and strawberry with a few chocolate chips.  It's so so good and so so easy. It's a dessert you can serve your family daily and feel good because you have a nice healthy fat and carb combo that makes your body happy.

2. Shop Organic - Economically.  I tend to go for the organic if I can whenever possible because I'm really trying to cut back on the chemicals in the foods I eat.  Typically the canned and frozen organic foods are very similar in price, so it's easy to choose organic there.  But sometimes there is a HUGE difference in price when it comes to fresh produce between organic or not.  I've seen the difference be sometimes 100% of the price of the non-organic food.  Obviously that will make a huge impact on your grocery bill.  Enter the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.  The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that tend to be highest in pesticides in the non-organic version.  The Clean 15 are the fruits and vegetables that are lowest in pesticides in the non-organic version.  So basically - if you have to make a choice, buy the regular Clean 15 items and spend the extra money on the Dirty Dozen.  I use this list regularly when shopping and it's a great way to make educated decisions on organic food choices.

3. Move as a Family.  This is my favorite one, because it's by far the most fun.  My husband and I have bikes and we go biking together when the weather permits.  It's the one exercise we have in common and it's nice to head out for a ride.  We also play Xbox kinect together - those dance and sports game work up a sweat.  These are ways for us to spend time together and also spend time not sitting down.  Other ideas are to go bowling, a walk after dinner, or play a board game like Cranium where you get up and move while playing.  Just think about what your family or significant other likes to do and go do it.  Get up and go do something now, I'll wait...

4. Relax and Find Your 'Me' Time.  This one is so so serious everyone.  I know between work, trying to blog, studying about nutrition/fitness, and being a wife, I feel incredibly busy.  I cannot IMAGINE how some of you feel with children or are taking care of other relatives.  But one of the worse things we can do for our bodies is to put ourselves in a state of constant stress.  Stress impacts the body in many ways, some of us overeat, some under eat,  and no matter who you are your hormones are not fans of the stress hormones.  Being over worked and over tired just leads to burn out.  So for our #4 tip - we are going to take a woosah and find time for ourselves.  Every day.  Even if it's only 20 minutes some days.  Find some time and make it your own.  Exercise, pray, scrapbook, meditate, read a book, take a long hot shower or hot bath...whatever you need to do to feel relaxed find this.  It will make you a better person, believe me.  Not that you aren't fabulous already, but you feel so much better when you nurture your person.  One of my favorite new habits is to do my P90x stretch DVD at night by candlelight.  I slept SO well after doing this that I wanted to do it every single night.  Work out a deal maybe with your partner to watch the kids for 30 minutes while you have your down time, then take over and let them do their thing.  Let's take care of our minds and souls as well as our bodies.

5.Call the Doctor.  This is probably the easiest thing to do, but it's the thing we don't do.  When is the last time you went for a physical?  I think everyone is really good at taking the kids to their appointments, but most of us don't go ourselves until something is wrong and it becomes an emergency.  This week add make an appointment for a physical and an appointment for the dentist to your to do list (don't get me started on to do lists...Tabby knows I love them!).  Keep up with your health BEFORE it is a problem and you will save yourself and your family a lot of stress.  Oh and ladies...this is a gynecology appointment AND a physical with a general practitioner   Not just one or the other.  If you haven't been in a while or are going to a new doctor make sure you know your family history, especially if you have immediate family members with illnesses that make your at higher risk for something so you can discuss this with the doctor.  Discuss with the person making your appointment that you want a full physical and that you want to fast before so they can take your cholesterol and all the other blood tests.  Make sure you are honest about anything you are feeling like being sluggish or tired a lot.  Most importantly, make a note in your smart phone to make another appointment right after you finish if you can, or to call back later for your next appointment.

I hope that you found something in here that you can use to help you and/or your family be healthier in 2013. Health is about so much more than your weight and if you are sick or not.  It's a whole mind/body/soul connection :)

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