May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month as declared by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN). The organization, originally known as the President's Council on Youth Fitness, started in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and served as a public awareness campaign espousing the importance of youth fitness and activity, long before the obesity epidemic spread across America. In 2010, under President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the council undertook a new name and mission. Now dubbed the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition, the council increased their members from 20 to 25 and added an increased focus on educating the public on the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits.
Now, before you start spending thousands of dollars on gym memberships and home exercise equipment, the most basic starting point towards a healthier, more active life is to be mindful of your intake. Of course, people who prefer to live a health-conscious lifestyle probably already adhere to a fairly strict dietary regimen every single day. For the rest of us who aren’t as disciplined when it comes to making sensible food choices or for those who didn’t follow all the way through with those New Year’s Resolutions, we can all take the first steps in breaking those bad habits with these three essential tips.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
1) WATER: Water is the essence of life. Every living cell in your body requires water and at least 60% of your body is made up of it. Health experts suggest drinking half a gallon of water every day, which can be broken down into eight 8-ounce glasses throughout the day. Pure, clean, clear water (not juices, soft drinks, or coffee) not only hydrates, but allows your body to naturally detoxify itself by filtering and removing waste materials through excretion. The collapsible 23.6-ounce pack-up water bottle by Light My Fire is a perfect way to get your daily “8 glasses of 8”, no matter if you’re at the office or on the go.
2) BREAKFAST: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A well-balanced breakfast is crucial for maintaining metabolism and giving you the energy you need to tackle the daily grind. Unfortunately, not everyone’s schedule allows for a hearty sit-down meal in the morning. It’s tough to resist the temptation of readily-made fast food breakfast when you’re constantly moving, but those empty calories won’t do you any good. Quest Nutrition has a more than adequate solution to the fast breakfast quandary. All natural, packed with 21 grams of protein, with simple carbs and no added sugars, their protein bars are an easy and guilt free way to grab a quick bite when you’re on the move. Our Pampered Home sells a variety of Quest Nutrition protein bars in a vast menu of different delectable flavors such as chocolate, blueberry muffin, chocolate chip cookie dough, and much more. Plus, they make for a pretty snack food, as well. With Quest Nutrition’s protein bars, you can forget about all those misconceptions about health food being bland and boring. You won’t believe how something so tasty can actually be good for you!
3) EAT LESS SALT: Salt contains sodium, which is a mineral that acts as an essential nutrient for the human body. Sodium regulates blood volume, blood pressure, and plays an important role on your body’s ability to maintain hydration and pH levels. Fried foods and processed foods contain high levels of sodium and too much sodium can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), leading into heart disease. Doctors and experts at the American Heart Association suggest that only 1.5 grams a day for adults. One way to start cutting down on salt and sodium is to snack on fruits, vegetables, or peanuts instead of candy, sweets, or potato chips. Peanuts are an exceptionally smart choice; they’re rife with rich, natural flavor and valuable, energy and muscle-boosting protein. Feridies Virginia peanuts are popular and highly sought-after for their large size and crunchy texture. Plain popcorn is also another wise snack time selection. Air-popped is the healthiest way to cook, but you can use olive oil or canola oil as a safe alternative to coconut oil or partially hydrogenated trans fat oils. Amish Country Popcorn comes in red, purple, white, and blue corn varieties. If you absolutely must season your popcorn, avoid melted butter or that “movie theatre style” butter-flavored oil. Sprinkle some garlic powder, parmesan cheese, or lemon pepper onto the popcorn. For a sweet flavor, you can try maple syrup or Mexican chocolate or if spicy is what satisfies you, a dash of cayenne pepper or chili powder can add a new dimension of taste.
Calories. That nasty 8-letter word that appears on the backs of food packages that we all seem to ignore. The key here is to burn more calories than we take in. And how do we do that? By exercise, by getting up and being more active. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. As stated before, you don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on weight sets and exercise gear or sign up for a gym membership. Believe it or not, you can make a difference by adding slight modifications to your regular, day-to-day activities.
The American Heart Association has a list of simple tips to help get you on the path to fitness. Give some of these a try; it’s easier than you think!
- Don’t pay someone to clean your house—do it yourself (as covered in last month’s Spring Cleaning blog entry).
- Take a short walk before breakfast, after dinner, or both! Start with quick 5-10 minute walks and work your way up 30 minutes or more.
- If you have a dog, take the dog with you for a walk. The dog’s going to need to go outside, anyway (you might want to bring this along when you do).
- Walk or ride a bike to the store instead of getting in the car and driving. You’ll save gas and cut down on CO2 pollution by doing so, as well.
- If the store isn’t within walking distance or your cargo is going to exceed the practicality of walking, park a little further away. You’ll get in some extra on-foot time and you might even lower the risk of some inconsiderate fool dinging up your car’s sheetmetal with a runaway shopping cart or by carelessly opening a door.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. It might actually be faster than just standing around and waiting for the thing to even show up.
- If you’re situated at a desk for most of the day, try not to sit still for too long. Stand up, stretch, or take a short walk. This can help shake off the midday, post-lunch crash.
- Take a short walk on your lunch break. Walk around the office or go outside and get in a few laps around the building. Some fresh air will do you some good!
- Instead of using the phone intercom to page a co-worker, get up and walk over to his or her office/work area.
- If your commute has you taking the bus, try getting off a stop early and walk the rest of the way home. In a safe and familiar area, of course.
- Visit your local park and enjoy a peaceful stroll along the walking/jogging path.
- Take a trip to the city. Do some sightseeing or travel your favorite shopping district.
- If you enjoy nature, why not spend the day at a state park or in the woods? Many state parks offer hiking trails and bike paths. Rent a kayak and go out on the lake if you can. Avoid rough water if you’re new to kayaking or unfamiliar with the area.
- If you’re a fan of live music, get a group of friends together and go see a live show. Dance, get some exercise, and support your local artists all at the same time.
- Soon it will be Summer. The beaches will open. Soak up some sun and get a little exercise on the beach, either by walking in the sand or taking a swim in the ocean (VERY IMPORTANT: pay attention to the “no swim” zones!).