Friday, March 18, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday to our National Parks

Our country's national parks turn 100 this year! One focus of the celebration includes inviting citizens to visit the parks they own and take advantage of the natural landscapes available to them.

To help with this goal, the parks service has launched the "Every Kid in a Park" initiative. This new program provides fourth graders free access to federal lands and waters. The access pass is valid for the 2015- 2016 school year. The pass grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire vehicle) at more than 2,000 federally managed sites. Teachers can request individual passes for their entire class. Get more information at everykidinapark.gov

Even if you don't know a fourth grader, use this 100th anniversary year to immerse yourself in local nature near you. Follow the link below to Find Your Park.  Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks can be visited now. Head to Sequoia or Channel Islands National Park when it warms up this summer.  http://www.nationalparks.org/our-work/celebrating-100-years-service

Here are three reasons to seek out some time in nature.

Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is the term used to describe eye problems caused by staring at a screen close to your face for prolonged periods.  Do you work on a computer for a living? Do you watch TV when you’re not working?  If so, you’re at risk of developing the symptoms associated with CVS: blurred vision, double vision, dry/red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and neck or back pain.  Getting outside and focusing on objects not two feet from your face can help to prevent and even reverse these symptoms.

Get Fresh Air  Indoor pollutants are normally 2 to 5 (and up to 100) times higher than outdoor pollutants.  And, according to the California Air Resources Board “indoor air-pollutants are 25-62% greater than outside levels and this difference poses a serious risk to health.”  Such health risks include heart disease, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and asthmatic attacks.

Improve Your Psychological Health  Spending time in nature has been linked to improved attention spans (short and long term), boosts in serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) and shows increased activity in the parts of the brain responsible for empathy, emotional stability, and love (whereas urban environments do the same for fear and anxiety).

Get Outside This Week
Stay Active & Enjoy Your Food 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Brain-Body Benefits of Meditation

The influences of meditation stretch from head to toe, positively affecting your brain, heart and immune system, and helping with chronic pain, insomnia and depression.

BRAIN
Upgrade Attention - Multiple studies show that meditation improves your attention span. Even just five days of meditation practice produced results.

Improve Mood - Meditator's moods steadily improved over a three-month period.

Soothe Anxiety - An analysis of nearly 19,000 studies showed that meditation can reduce anxiety and depression.

BODY
Reduce Stress Side Effects - Meditation helps reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This supports a sharper memory, healthier weight and better sleep.

Slow Aging - Telomerase, the enzyme that prevents premature aging in cells, is suppressed when we are stressed. Meditation can increase telomerase activity by 30 percent.

Lower Pain - Participants reported a 40 percent decrease in pain intensity during meditation.

Boost Immunity - Meditation increases antibody levels, helping the body fight off illness and infections. 

Meditation can be a powerful ally for your mind, body and spirit. Make it part of your healthy lifestyle along with cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility practice and conscious eating. Calm.com offers a free guide to meditation, taking you through the steps in a no-nonsense, non-threatening process.


Slow Down, Breathe
Center Your Spirit

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Guilt-Free Treats

Our everyday nutrient-filled foods are vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains and healthy oils. But sometimes we all desire a little indulgence. You can include treats in your balanced life of healthy eating without guilt. Here are some strategies to help.

Know what a true craving is
If you've been eating a diet filled with processed foods, biochemical "addictions" can deceive you. It can be challenging at the beginning to discern a true craving. Once you know that you are craving pasta, for example, plan to allow yourself pasta the following day. You'll avoid feelings of guilt by not giving in spontaneously and in the meantime the craving may subside.

Use the 80 percent rule. 
If you can practice good habits 80 percent of the time, you'll succeed. You need to enjoy what you are eating, Otherwise, you won't stick to your eating plan over time.

Choose your splurges
Sometimes you'll be faced with indulgent foods in the moment, say at a family event. Strive to differentiate between your everyday foods and your indulgences, and then determine which splurges will be most satisfying. I might choose a doughnut at the office this morning over a brownie after dinner the following evening. In another situation, when you are out to dinner, you might choose an alcoholic beverage or a dessert, but not both.  

Occasional indulgences are part of a healthy lifestyle of nutritious eating and consistent movement. Remember that you are striving for sustainability and consistency in your eating habits for - not a month, not a year - but a lifetime of good health.

Enjoy Guilt-Free Treats
Stay Active & Keep Your Body Moving