4 Health Tweaks You Can Easily Introduce to Your Daily Routine

Are you looking at 2020 wondering how you will implement changes to your health goals? Feeling overwhelmed already? This year look to simplify changes by making small tweaks in your current routines and add little increments to your health behaviors for maximum success.

Guest Post By: Jennifer McGregor

Well-intentioned health goals are a dime a dozen. Everyone always has something that they want to achieve, whether it’s losing 20 pounds or running a 5K. For many, reducing stress is also a compelling objective, especially those in high-stress occupations like caregivers. Regardless of what your goals are, know that it takes more than just good intentions to meet them; you need action, too. Thankfully, with strategic tweaks here and there, you, too, can incorporate solid health practices into your daily routine. Here are a few to get you started.

Choose the good.

The fulfillment of any health goal invariably starts with one thing—making good choices. In fact, mindfulness is known to not just improve your physical health, but also your mental well-being, too. 

No doubt, the thing that particularly benefits from this is your diet. The practice of mindful eating means listening to your body’s signals—that is to say, eating when you’re hungry as opposed to bored and knowing when to stop. Not only that, but it also means consciously choosing to consume food that’s healthy and nourishing, cutting back on processed food rich in sodium and sugar, which would be particularly beneficial to caregivers prone to stress and conditions like hypertension. Another way to eat healthier (and less) is to order healthy options from a meal delivery service because with pre-measured ingredients, you can control portion sizes

Beyond just your diet, being mindful means making choices that truly serve you and your body, too. This can be as simple as going to bed an hour earlier to get more quality shut-eye, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Move with intention.

Of course, regular physical activity is a must for just about any health goal. And it’s hard not to see why with the many known benefits of movement. Its physical perks such as weight loss and improved immune and lymphatic systems—to name just a few—are common knowledge, but even more interestingly, movement also enhances brain health, elevates your mood, and reduces stress.

While the idea of movement inevitably brings to mind exercise, there are other ways to go about it, too. This could be anything from stretching to dancing to gardening. Indeed, simply being on your feet will already do wonders to your well-being holistically, so it’s great practice, therefore, to always make it a point to move.

Prioritize relaxation.

As rewarding a vocation as caregiving is, it also leaves you vulnerable to feelings of overwhelm and frustration, making caregiver stress a real problem. This is why it’s doubly important for caregivers to make relaxation and stress management a priority. 

Doubtless, the easiest way to go about this is to introduce relaxation techniques to your routine, such as meditation and deep breathing. It’s also a good idea to make it a point to go on a break and take time to do something you love, like reading or pursuing a hobby. Going on vacation is another way to relax. Even a staycation in your own city will do wonders for your overall well-being. 

Allow indulgence.

In the same vein as taking downtime, you should also give yourself a license to indulge from time to time, as long as you make it worthwhile. For example, partaking in your daily red wine is one indulgence that’s really good for you as red wine is chock full of antioxidants that protect you from a plethora of diseases, as well as anxiety and depression. Hiring a health and lifestyle coach is another, as you could certainly benefit from a customized health plan, plus it helps to have someone hold you accountable.

Suffice it to say, health goals are just ideals when you don’t have concrete steps to follow through on them. Thankfully, being healthier need not be earth-shattering. So start making small changes and see the difference.

Photo Provided by Author: Jennifer McGregor via Upslpash.com. Image URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/VKnjdEesFxw ~ Image Credit: Photo via Unsplash.com

Plyo-Dumbbell Total Body Shred

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

The Workout

The first portion of the workout consists of a metoblic fat burning time set. Do each movement for 1 minute as many/hard as you can, then rest for 30 seconds. Move the next exercise. Do this whole set 2x through.

  • Compass Jumps
  • Plank Spider Walks
  • Rocket Girls
  • Bear Crawl
  • High Skip Traveling Jumps
  • Plank Rockers

The next portion includes a dumbbell matrix. With each DB move use the abdominals to rotate while lifting. It is important to have good form here. Go slower and lighter on the weight until you feel strong enough to hold good form. You’ll do one DB exercise followed by a 30-second plank hold in between each DB movement. Do the whole group 2x through.

  • Rotate and overhead press
  • Rotating bicep curl with alternating leg backward lunge
  • Alternating uppercuts with isometric plié squat
  • Narrow squats with Y overhead press
  • Frontal to lateral should raise
  • T-Burpees

The third portion of the workout is all about balancing out your core strength. Do these exercises 2x through then congratulate yourself and stretch!

  • Bicycle curls
  • Supermans with cactus arm pull-downs
  • Upper to lower body curls
  • Quadruped opposite elbow to knee curls and extensions

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

Easy Red Cabbage & Carrot Coleslaw

This is a great side dish and goes with all sorts of main dish dinners. It is hearty enough to stand as a main dish for lunches or a small dinner. It’s easy, quick, and tasty.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Red cabbage – green would work just fine too
  • Carrots – shredded or sliced
  • Thai fish sauce enough to coat the cabbage and carrots (or you can skip and just use the tahini)
  • Toasted Sesame seeds with Olive Oil for toasting – you can also use tahini, and skip roasting
  • 1 lime for juice
  • Salt and pepper

The Cooking Part …

  • Heat olive oil (just enough for your sesame seeds)
  • Drop-in sesame seeds and stir to coat, allow to roast on stovetop
  • Chop or shred carrots and cabbage, toss in a large bowl
  • Pour in fish sauce and stir
  • Add the roasted sesame seeds and olive oil
  • Slice lime in half and squeeze juice over the mixture
  • Salt and pepper to taste – less is more here because it will sit and intensify as the flavors blend in the dish. You can always add more to serve. 

What to serve with …

You can add rice vinegar to this recipe if you would like a tangy flavor. It is a great side dish for any Asian BBQ, soup, or dumpling. It’s also great with tacos, sandwiches, or hamburgers. Serve warm to add another dynamic alongside a fish dinner or pork chops. I served with Fish as a main course. AND it’s great as a solo dish, too. Make a batch and eat off it all week. 

3 Ways Seniors Can Protect Their Health

Health is important at every age. Make sure you are paying attention to these 3 areas of your health. In addition to things like heart disease, cancer, and other diseases make sure you pay attention to your dental, vision, and getting enough physical exercise to stay as healthy as possible through the lifespan.

Guest Post: By Jason Lewis from www.StrongWell.org

Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in people over 65, and quality of life and quality of care play a big part in how these serious medical concerns will impact you. That’s why seniors who want to live their healthiest life in their golden years need to understand the power —  and the limitations — of their healthcare plan. 

For example, Traditional Medicare won’t cover vision, dental and prescription medications, and it’s coverage of in-home care is limited. That’s why many seniors enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Provided by private health insurance companies, Medicare Advantage gives seniors peace of mind with more comprehensive coverage. For example, these plans offer coverage for vision, dental, wellness programs, prescription drugs and fitness centers.  Let’s take a closer look at how this healthcare coverage can address common concerns for people 65 and older.

Dental Health Over 65

Doctors provide compelling evidence that links dental health to a plethora of other health concerns, from depression to heart disease. These rates and risks spike substantially for seniors, which is why many add this coverage to their traditional Medicare plan. For example, some medications have negative side effects for oral health, like dry mouth and even cavities. Gum disease is also a major concern for older adults. Since many people don’t feel pain or discomfort until gum disease is in its advanced stages, many seniors don’t realize they have it. The dental coverage in Medicare Advantage plans vary from annual cleanings to more comprehensive treatments, including reducing out-of-pocket expenses associated with partial and full dentures. If it’s been over a year since your last cleaning, you should find a dentist and schedule a checkup. 

Seniors and Vision Health

Eyesight is a common concern for seniors, as there are certain kinds of vision diseases and disorders that happen due to age. It’s natural for our vision to change as we age, so it’s natural for seniors to need vision care even though they may have spent the majority of their lives with healthy eyesight. Some common age-related vision conditions include presbyopia (difficulty focusing), cataracts (clouding of the lens), glaucoma (build up of fluid) and macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in seniors). Medicare Advantage plans give seniors an opportunity to maintain their eye health and see specialists when something feels off, without having to worry about covering the full cost of an expensive procedure.

Fitness for Seniors

Physical activity is one of the leading ways seniors can positively impact their physical and mental health. And, the good news is, it’s never too late to start. If you have lived a relatively sedentary life, you may think that working out now won’t help much. But it’s time to think again. Exercise now can not only prevent major illness and injury, but in some cases it can even undo some of the damage caused in your younger years. There have been many documented cases of seniors being able to reverse their type 2 diabetes diagnosis just through diet and exercise. With Medicare Advantage plans, many seniors get access to Silver Sneakers programs, which are special fitness classes aimed at people 65 and over. You can also get free memberships to thousands of gyms and fitness centers across the country.

Medicare is so complex; it’s no wonder some seniors shy away from understanding it. Grateful even for basic coverage, they sign up for it but their interest stops there. And it’s not surprising — Medicare is confusing, complicated and challenging. But if you want to be in control of your physical and mental well-being, knowing what is (and isn’t covered) is exactly where you need to start. Knowing the gaps in your coverage can help you decide if you need more help. 

Understanding all the ways we communicate. We are just chemical, electrical, and vibrational little beings

In my undergraduate studies there was a moment in time when I was a communication major. In the end I graduated with a bachelor of science in exercise science and a minor in business and communication studies. You are probably pretty familiar with the “regular” ways we communicate i.e. talking and body posture. Did you know that communication is mostly non-verbal? And that we as mammals can understand and pick up subtle nuances based on somatic markers? These somatic markers are based on the chemical, electrical, and vibrational communication patterns our cells and atoms use to communicate to each other.

It all starts with slime mold (see video below, it’s old but good). This is the stuff all living things are made of. From single celled organism, life evolved to have specialized cells. Bring together enough specialized cellular structures and you have … a human. To make the human system work, you have to have communication between all those specialized groups. This communication is done using chemical, electrical, and vibrational patterns. 

Human Chemistry 

Chemical is probably the easiest to conceptualize. Most of us in the therapy field have a basic understanding of how neurotransmitters and hormones play a role in mental and physical health. Most of us know that dopamine is connected to pleasure, serotonin to depression and contentment, and GABA to anxiety states. Many of us understand that estrogen and testosterone play a role in our ability to connect and assert ourselves. Lots of us understand that many of these shift and change based on the environment. 

Diet plays a huge role here. The body is an amazing system that can make what it needs and recycle or eliminate what it doesn’t. We use food, the sun, and nature to help us develop and synthesize the neurotransmitters we need from the nutrients, vitamins, and phytochemicals we are exposed to. Biology also plays a huge role here. We often consider genes of ancestry to understand our physical structure functions. 

Overall, chemical communication is fairly slow. The hormones and neurotransmitters have to get into the blood stream, enter the synapsis, hook up with other chemicals, and “dock” for uptake to keep the system going (Fields & Stevens-Graham, 2002). This is a lot of steps. The endocrine system and nervous systems use chemical patterns and electrical signaling to communicate between specialized cells.

Understanding electricity

Electrical patterns are faster and extend out beyond the physical system (Brian & Lamb, 2014). As a result, this kind of communication can be “read” by other electrical systems. When you have one electrical system next to another and they share the same frequency they create a larger field around the electrical objects. The heart works on electrical signals and is the “battery” of the human body. As your heart rate changes, it impacts the field around you. If you are in connection with another mammal and your electrical fields are similar, you will create deeper connection by collapsing the wall between you and create a larger field that both are part of (Tozz, 2014). Ever sat at the coffee shop and watched people connecting in conversation? Those who are deeply connected appear to “be in their own bubble” or we get the feeling that they are oblivious to the outside world. Maybe you’ve even had this experience yourself. 

Let’s talk about heart rate variability. If you can influence your heart rate (electricity) and shift your nervous system (chemistry) and your electrical pattern moves beyond your physical body you are now influencing others near you. As the clinician you can work to regulate your clients by slowing your breath rate, shifting your heart rate, and calming your nervous system. Just like a parent does a child. Your most important therapy tool … your body. If you are working to calm yourself or others, work to slow your breathing and shift your heart rate to a slower signal. POST HRV Email on my therapist blog site.

Vibrational Waves

Humans, like all things, are made of molecular structure. Molecular structure is made of atoms. Atoms are tiny parts of matter that vibrate. Is high school physics coming back to you? When things vibrate they send out ripples. In humans these ripples extend beyond the physical structure. Just like water ripples out from the point of the dropped stone. As a result we “read” each other based on our “vibes”. You know the sayings … “that guy has bad vibes” or “I really felt good around her”. When our vibrations are similar we feel better, we “resonate” with the other person. When we do not resonate with the other person we often find ourselves feeling unease or “off”. We influence our vibrational patterns by shifting our focus points and influencing the physical structures around them (Trivedi & Mohan, 2016). Waves, like electricity will enhance or cancel each other based on how they match up when they meet. This is the communication we are experiencing between two human bodies. 

When we talk about these deeper, subconscious ways humans communicate we would be remiss if we did not speak to the need for boundaries. For many of us we have physical boundaries – my chair, my office, clothing, home etc. We also have professional, ethical, and other mental / thought based boundaries around our activities, but have you thought about your energetic ones? Now that you understand how we communicate beyond the physical structure what are the ways you create energetic boundaries for success and safe connection in your life?

Now that you have an understanding of ways we communicate how will you shift your personal practices to make sure you are taking care of your own chemical, electrical, and vibrational communication influencers? What will you do to make sure you are prepared and ready to communicate in these somatic ways that allow a deeper and subconscious connection? How will you boundary yourself to make sure you are taking care of yourself?

Embrace the power of your soma to impact and influence others – both in traditional verbal / non verbal communication tactics, but also with the more subtle and powerful subconscious ways humans communicate in their environments. Give it a try today and let me know how it goes. 

References: 

Fields, R. D., Stevens-Graham, B. (2002). New insights into neuron-gila communication. Science, 298(5593). 556-562

Brian, M., Lamb, R. (2014). How electricity works. How Stuff Works. http://www.presentationexpressions.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Yulchon-Howstuffworks-

Tozz, P. (2014). Does fascia hold memories. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 18, 259e-265. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.11.010  

Trivedi, M. K., & Mohan, T. R. R. (2016). Biofield energy signals, energy transmission and neutrinos. American Journal of Modern Physics. 5(6),172-176. doi: 10.11648/j.ajmp.20160506.12