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Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Life's Lemonade"

I have not posted in far too long. I can give you the reasons but I would bore you with my tales of moving and transitioning into a new job and school. But while I am on the subject of transitions, let me go ahead and talk about how we can better our health despite the hardships we will inevitably face...

It is inarguable that at one time (or 10 times) we will be faced with changes in our lives. How do you handle life's unexpected loops?

A move, a birth, a union, a divorce, a death, getting fired, starting a new job, foreclosures, new relationships,  new school, etc. Do any of these scenarios apply to you? At some point we all must face the reality that despite life's "lemons," we must persevere and continue to pick up the pieces and make "lemonade."

I know you are thinking, okay Mich..easier said than done. And yes, you are correct. I understand and empathize with people who are struggling to deal with the changes in their lives. I too have been to a dark place of uncertainty and did not know how to deal with what had happened at the time. I felt alone, depressed, and unmotivated. Are these familiar feelings to any of you? If not, perhaps you have found the secret recipe for what I am referring to as "life's lemonade" and I congratulate you. But in case you have felt similar feelings, I think it is important to know that may others experience it as well and along with those aforementioned feelings, comes stress.

 Stress is an ugly emotion that will not only cause you to feel anxious and tense, but it also affects sleep patterns, hormone levels (think insulin and cortisol), weight gain, and your overall well-being. During change and transition times in our lives we are CHALLENGED to change our routine.
    ** Maybe you used to get up and have a morning coffee with breakfast but your new job starts earlier and you only have time to shower and head out the door after packing the kids' lunch, making sure the dog is fed, and trying to look presentable for the new boss.. get to work on time (phew!) but now your hunger is consuming your morning and you find it difficult to work diligently. 

This is obviously only one example, but you get the point. Keeping yourself healthy is just as important, if not more important, as keeping your family life and career on point.

Are you having difficulty maintaining YOUR health during this time of economic difficulty and tightly packed schedules? Here are a few tips to keep your body in great shape both internally and externally.

Drink more water and herb teas, avoid caffeine!  Your morning Joe is just fine but those afternoon and late evening "pick me ups" are getting a bit ridiculous. Reduce your intake slightly each day and eventually you will see, you don't really need ALL that caffeine anyway. Caffeine is a dehydrator when consumed in excess so chances are if you are sleepy, water will do you better anyway.

BreakfastKeep quick morning meals in the refrigerator or freezer and grab them on your way out the door. ( GREAT CHOICES WOULD BE: Greek Yogurt with and Apple or Banana, Whole grain muffin with nut butter, Low fat Cheese and a fruit, or prepare a meal the night before and grab it before you leave) The protein and fiber in these choices will keep you focused through your busy morning.

Snacks: Try to have satisfying healthy snacks ready-prepared the night before so that you are not worrying about you and your family only having a processed snack option due to time constraints (think Carrot sticks, red pepper sticks, apple slices, grapes, cheese sticks, organic yogurt drinks, and when buying the processed snacks, always go for whole grain and minimally processed, all-natural boxed and bagged snacks. If possible I always recommend going organic when it comes to snacks because it guarantees safer ingredients (ie. no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, colors, dyes).

Lunch: AVOID THE DRIVE-THRU!   Even you salad-buyers be weary!  Many salads served at chain restaurants have more calories than a Big Mac! Salad dressings alone can pack up to 400 calories a serving especially if you ask for extra!  Try to brown bag your lunch by packing a smart option the night before. I know you are probably saying to yourself that you do not have time, etc. to do that. So you have a choice, you can make the time and know you are making a smart investment in yourself or  look for restaurants that take pride in their ingredients-Whole Grains (100% whole wheat), Healthy Oils (Olive), Lean Proteins (chicken breast). When going to the drive thru this seems near impossible, so the rule of thumb is to order as healthy as possible and really pay attention to when you are no longer hungry. It is so easy, especially when we are busy, to overeat mindlessly.

Dinner: Kids are home, spouse is home, dog is barking, TV is on.. aka Chaos is taking over the house and you still have to make dinner. What to do? Pop in a frozen processed meal of course! NOT....
try to find quick family meals that everyone will enjoy. Search engines online today are choc' full of information about quick, healthy recipes that will satisfy the whole family. Kids Picky Eaters? go to HEALTHBARN USA for some great ideas.

EXERCISE: If you find it difficult to find time for a proper workout, do little things to challenge your body throughout your day

  • Take the stairs: Up and down! Great for your booty and heart rate!
  • Park in a far spot in the parking lot
  • Plan a walk during your lunch break
  • Stretch frequently

Before I sign off, I want to leave you with this image.. 
Think about what flight attendants direct you to do in case of an emergency. If you need an oxygen mask, before assisting others, even your children, first place the mask on yourself.
 Think of health the SAME way!! If you do not help yourself, you can not properly keep anything else together. 

Stay Well