Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Keeps You Healthy

During Thanksgiving week, people around the United States express gratitude for the bounty of their lives, but many may not realize that in doing so, they're also improving the quality of their health and increasing their life expectancies.

Gratefulness is linked with optimism, which in turn is linked with better immune health. For example, a University of Utah study showed that stressed-out law students who were optimistic had more immune-boosting blood cells than people who were pessimistic. We can all use a boost to our immune systems this winter!
Another study showed that appreciation and positive emotions are linked with changes in heart rate variability. This may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.

Writing down what you're thankful for as you drift off to sleep can help you get better sleep. Specifically, researchers found that when people spent 15 minutes jotting down what they're grateful for in a journal before bedtime, they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.

Finally, in one study, one group of participants were asked to name five things they’re grateful for every day, while another group was asked to list five hassles. Those expressing gratitude were not only happier and more optimistic, they reported fewer physical symptoms (such as headache, cough, nausea, or acne). Other gratitude studies have shown that those with chronic illnesses demonstrate clinical improvement when practicing regular gratitude.

Here are some simple things you can do to build positive momentum toward a more happy and fulfilling life:

1) Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed.

2) Make it a practice to tell a spouse or friend something you appreciate about them every day.

3) Look in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth, and think about something you have done well recently or something you like about yourself.

Thankfulness feels good, it's good for you and it's a blessing for the people around you, too. It's such a win-win-win that I'd say we have cause for gratitude.

Practice Thankfulness This Week
Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Step Up Your Routine

Want to boost the intensity of your exercise? Try adding some stairs to your weekly workouts. When you run on a flat surface, your glutes are basically taking a nap. When you have to climb, those glutes fire up. That's why running up stairs can burn up to 953 calories per hour.

Stairs are unique because the flat landing spot of each step causes you to strike with your mid-foot rather than the ball of your foot. You use your whole leg, not just your calf, to push off. Striking every step requires quick muscle activation, which can make you speedier on your runs. In addition, if you take two steps at a time, your muscles are contracted over a wider range. This requires more power, which can improve your endurance.

Since the steps are tougher, you don't need to dedicate a lot of time. Women who walked up & down stairs for 10 minutes a day five days a week improved their cardiovascular health by 17% within two months. A 20 minute session at this intensity will give you a complete workout.

Here is a simple plan.  Incorporate both sprints up the stairs and climbing two steps at a time. I also like to include a crossover step, moving up the stairs sideways. Make sure you change the lead leg with the crossover step. Do some incline pushups and plank walks on the bottom two steps. Turn around and do tricep dips. Finish with some abs to complete your workout. Of course, I have more ways to mix it up and make it fun but you will have to connect with me in person for that!

Take the Stairs this Week
Stay Active & Enjoy Your Food

Friday, November 6, 2015

Brussels Sprouts - Horrible or Heavenly?

Fall weather is upon us. I feel like I can finally think about roasting vegetables, baking squashes, and preparing big pots of soup. Roasted Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite side dishes in the winter.

Some people have a hard time enjoying Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Despite what your family said, it might not all be in your head. Research reveals that roughly one quarter of us carry a taste-receptor gene that's super sensitive to bitter flavors. Those of us who do not carry this gene eat 200 more servings of veggies every year. If you are in the group that is super-sensitive, try these ideas to mellow the bitterness and increase your servings of vegetables this winter.

Brussels Sprouts
Shred them raw in salads or cook them quickly (the longer they break down, the more bitter they become).  Sear them in a pan until caramelized.

Broccoli Rabe
Boil it 10 seconds, then drain, to tame it's pungent flavor. Or pair rabe with a fat (turkey bacon or sausage) and some heat (think cayenne or jalapeno)

Char it in a cast-iron skillet, then sprinkle with feta or blue cheese. Or saute it until just wilted and combine with a sweeter vegetable like carrots.

Enjoy Your Veggies This Winter
Stay Active & Keep Moving

Friday, October 30, 2015

Don't be a Turkey - Join Us!

Did you know? More Americans participate in races on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year! Join the crowd and start your holiday on the right foot by participating in the Burbank Community YMCA Turkey Trot. This family friendly 5K/10K race is open to runners, walkers and stroller-pushers. Costumes welcome! There is a Kiddie Run and Fun Zone for the little ones. In addition, you'll get a wicking-fabric race shirt to exercise in all around town throughout the year. Everyone will know you did the race Thanksgiving morning.

The Turkey Trot is a great Burbank community day with people from all areas of city life coming together to get their sweat on before sitting down to dinner. It's fun to see so many friends gathered for the event. John and I will be power walking the 5K course with Sadie Mae. Don't miss my turkey feather headband and John's turkey hat! Last year, we even got on the TV news.

 Pre-register before race day to save $5 at

Stay Active, Keep Moving 
Have Fun

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trick or Treat Temptations

Don't eat the whole treat, just go for your favorite part. For example, if you love the tops of cupcakes best, eat just them; there's no rule saying you must also eat the base of the cupcake. It's not a free ride -- you're still consuming calories and fat -- but you're slimming down your totals with the smaller portion.

Get rid of additional servings of Halloween candies. It's not budget-conscious, but it is belly-conscious. For example, if you love mellowcrème pumpkins but can't find them in a single-serving pack, set aside your allotted amount, then sit and nibble at each one, slowly, attentively. Then toss what remains.

Chew gum. Sugarless gum gives your mouth a burst of sweet sensation for very few calories. Studies have shown that gum chewing satisfies a sweet tooth, overcomes the urge to eat candy, and helps manage hunger pangs to hold you over until your next meal.

Sip on a low-calorie beverage. Keep your hands and mouth busy by drinking a zero-calorie cup of hot tea or glass of sparkling water. Light hot chocolate can satisfy your sweet tooth for fewer calories than most fun-size chocolate bars.

Clear candy out of the house when the calendar says November. Give it away to some deserving teenager or throw it away.

Enjoy a Candy, just not the Whole Bag

Friday, October 16, 2015

Is Texting Harming Your Health?

The average person sends or receives 50 texts daily. That doesn't account for the rest of the time we spend on our phones - talking, surfing the Web or using apps. All that fiddling with our phones can have a negative effect on our bodies.

Breathing Issues
Forward-leaning posture can impede breathing. Dropping the head and rounding the shoulders makes taking full, deep breaths harder. The position decreases our heart's and lung's ability to function effectively. In addition, researchers have found that individuals hold their breath or breath shallowly while texting.
Take a break now and then to breath slowly and deeply. Get up and stretch. Set a timer if you need to.

Aching Neck and Sore Back
Texting's habitual head-down posture can put dangerous pressure on the spine. An adult head weighs 10-12 pounds and, as we tilt it forward, it exerts up to 60 pounds of pressure at a 60-degree angle.
Raise your phone so your ears are directly above your shoulders.

Texting Thumb
Gripping and holding a cell phone can constrict our flexor tendons. Because our thumbs do not have the dexterity of our other fingers, excess texting can result in pain. The pain is usually on the outside of your thumb around the wrist. You may also suffer from a decrease in grip strength.
Use your phone's voice recognition feature rather than manually texting. Try using other fingers.

Text Claw
Because texting requires fine-motor activity, it may lead to "text claw". This is habitual clenching that can lead to repetitive stress injuries such as tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Regularly stretch and move hands through their full range of motion. 

Be Aware of Your Body While Texting Today
And remember, never text while driving

Friday, October 9, 2015

Grab a Leash and Get Moving!

This past summer I was devastated to find out our 2-year-old dog, Mattox, had cancer. I was sad to say goodbye to him at the beginning of August. Last week, I welcomed a 5-month-old Black Mouth Cur puppy, Sadie Mae, to my family and have added daily dog walks back into my routine.

Research shows that dogs are actually nature’s perfect personal trainers—loyal, hardworking, energetic and enthusiastic. And, unlike your friends, who may skip an exercise session because of appointments, extra chores or bad weather, dogs never give you an excuse to forego exercising. Consistency is the key with any exercise program and this is where your dog can help.

A survey of dog owners, conducted at the University of Western Australia, revealed that dogs are great motivators for walking because they provide a strong motivation to maintain exercise, are good walking companions, and provide good social support while exercising.

The exercise is beneficial for your dog, too. A fit dog is healthier and a tired dog is calmer for the rest of the day. In addition, daily walks are a great way to bond with your dog. A closer bond will help your dog to be more responsive to your commands. An obedient dog becomes a blessing, not a curse.

How can you include dog-walking in your day? Establish a walking schedule; plan to walk 30 minutes each day. This might include a 10 minute neighborhood walk in the morning and a 20 minute walk in the park in the afternoon. Or maybe three 10-minute walks fit better into your day. Don't count your dog's potty stops as a walk. Make sure these times are exercise for both of you. If dog-walking is scheduled into your day, you'll feel more responsible for sticking to your program. Plus, your dog will get used to the routine and will remind you when "it's time"!

I really enjoy walking in different neighborhoods, exploring parts of Burbank I rarely visit. I like to take advantage of the hills above the city and hike in Stough or Wildwood Canyons. It is fun to have a partner to go with as I explore pocket parks and cul-de-sac neighborhoods I don't usually drive through. After a hard workout, my muscles can get sore and stiff. Walking with the dog is just what I need to loosen up and stretch those muscles a little bit.

Add dog-walking to your weekly exercise program, 
Enjoy your canine companion and 
Stay active.