You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Body and Health Environment’ category.

For those of us whose work has us sitting at our desks all week, it’s time to stand up and take notice!  According to what I’ve been hearing and reading,  sitting for all those hours is wreaking havoc with our health, and may even be taking as much as 15 years off our life expectancy.  Yikes!

The good news is that this is easily corrected.    The simplest thing to do is just get up!  That’s right,  standing up for 30 seconds each hour is enough to counteract all that sitting.  Stand while you’re on the phone, walk to get a drink of water, march in place.  Or better yet, take a five minute walk or even do jumping jacks at your desk.  (This goes for those of you who spend a few hours in the evening in front of your television as well!)

(via http://lifehacker.com/5800720/the-sitting-is-killing-you-infographic-illustrates-the-stress-of-prolonged-sitting-importance-of-getting-up)

 

Drinking three cups of tea a day may help to significantly (10%) lower blood pressure according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

Now they are saying this is a result of polyphenols and caffeine in the tea. But I’m wondering if the act of stopping what you’re doing to brew and drink the tea may be a contributing factor.  Ritual and relaxation are both huge aspects of your body and health environments!    http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension/30802

 

 

Running man sculpture outside the Sport, Exerc...

Image via Wikipedia

I recently attended a meeting where one of the speakers was Dr. Mark Hyman.  Among other fascinating discussions, he talked about how important it was to create a support team as well as to set up your physical environment for success.  In the case of focusing on your health and eating habits, he talked about one of his successes with the Saddleback church, who with his help, created an entire program and website to promote health–The Daniel Plan.  Here parishioners can join a support team.  Get plan information and education in videos, blogs and more.  It’s a total environment for changing the way they live and getting fit and healthy.

I listened to some of the videos, in particular Dr. Daniel Amen and his wife going though someone’s pantry and refrigerator to eliminate all the “bad” foods–things like hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals and additives.  By doing so you not only become proactive in showing your commitment to yourself, you create a physical environment that supports healthy eating habits.

Mark joked about the collaboration between a nice Jewish boy from NY and the Saddleback Ministry.  But it’s no joke that this program is effective and changing lives.  Coming soon, he’ll have a website that will support those not part of the ministry, but you don’t have to wait to get started.

Commit to eating better.  Mark’s book, Ultrametabolism, is a good start, as are so many of the excellent books that have come out in recent years.  Prevention Magazine is another good resource.   There’s a wealth of resources both at the Daniel Plan site and Mark’s own site http://drhyman.com/7-keys-to-ultrawellness/ and http://drhyman.com/healthy-library/.

Commit to moving more.  It would be amazing to have the resources of a personal trainer, but you can do almost as well with one of the many sites that show you, step by step, how to exercise properly.  Two of my favorite are Livestrong and Mayo Clinic.

Get a support team!  Ask a few friends or find a group online.  Research has shown that those who have support do much better than those who go at it alone.

Set up your environments to support you.  Don’t buy foods that are bad for you. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with easily prepared and grabbed foods.  Read and learn about what’s important to your health and why.  Stay away from fast food places and avoid the neighborhood cupcake bakery. 😉  Find a walking or exercise buddy and commit to them.

And go straight to health!

stress elf

For all the holiday cheer this time of year, I find that for many of my clients the holidays are particularly stressful.  It’s a combination of overly busy schedules, family obligations, financial strain from gift-giving requirements, and often a reaction to too much food, too much joviality, and the endless stream of holiday requests and marketing.

Over the years, a few time-worn strategies to dealing with it all have emerged.

  1. Have reasonable expectations.  The media would have us believe that everyone’s holidays are right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, when in truth, they may be more like National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation.  Go with the flow instead of expecting perfection.
  2. Don’t say yes, when you want to say no.   Sounds simple, but over and over again people accept invitations out of a sense of obligation rather than a real desire.  It’s perfectly acceptable to say “Thank you so much, I’m afraid it’s not possible,” even if your alternate plans are Chinese take-out in front of The Big Bang Theory.
  3. Don’t overspend.  Another obvious strategy, and yet one often overlooked.  Set a budget for how much you’ll spend on gifts and stick too it.  Shop in advance so you’re not desparately looking for a gift at the last minute.  Make a list and use the internet to price shop.  Then call your local store before you head in to avoid disappointment with the item you’re hunting for isn’t available.
  4. Don’t leave things for the last minute.  That includes shopping, gift-wrapping, RSVPing, finding the right dress to wear for New Year’s Eve, or sending out holiday cards or letters.  (Consider a Christmas email and save both time and money!)
  5. Eat healthy despite the overabundance that surrounds you.  Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean you need to down a quart of heart-clogging eggnog (one cup won’t hurt), or Christmas cookies, or a dozen fried potato latkes.   Indulge wisely.  However, don’t even think about starting a diet this time of year.  That’s what January is for. 😉
  6. Get enough rest.  The holidays generally take us out of our routine, whether it’s because of the abundance of events, guests or travel.  This may be the time of year to indulge in naps!
  7. Give back.  During the holidays, find a way to give back to the community, whether that’s donating to a food bank, visiting some elderly people, or volunteering some time to a worthy cause.  Don’t over-commit, but do find a way to show love and gratitude.

In the womb, we gently rock in a bubble of amniotic fluid.  As mothers, we rock our babies to sleep, in our arms or in a cradle.  When my babies wouldn’t sleep, we’d often put them in a car seat, and let the gentle motion of the car ride, put them to sleep.

And scientists have finally confirmed that gentle rocking (think hammock or waterbed)  propels us into sleep faster, and allows us to sleep more deeply. The Better Brain Life  blog quotes Dr. Sophie Schwartz, one of the researchers:  “The use of rocking to soothe sleep thus belongs to our repertoire of adaptive behaviors in which a natural mechanism of sleep … has been harnessed in the simplest manner since immemorial times,” wrote Dr. Schwartz and her colleagues in the report of their findings, published on June 21 in the journal Cell Biology.

There’s no question that some environments allow for better sleeping than others.  Imagine trying to sleep in a bright room, with a lumpy bed, and a jack hammer working away outside your window.  (Although I suspect my husband could do that with no problem.) It’s important to create the proper environment for sleeping, and that not only includes the absence of lighting and loud noise, and the proper bedding, it also includes creating a bedtime ritual for yourself.

It’s long been proven that children do better with a consistent bedtime ritual.  A warm bath, brush your teeth, get into fresh jammies and have mom sing you a lullaby or read you a story (or two or three.)  Adults would do well to create one as well. If you can, try going to sleep at the same time every night. Check your calendar for the next day and prepare ahead so you start the day without stress.  Wind down the day with soft music, or a bit of quiet reading. This is not the time to answer some more emails, watch the news (who decided that 11 PM was a good time for news?) or start on a new project. By doing the same thing night after night, you’re signaling your brain that it’s time for sleep.

My nightly ritual includes my nightly face ablutions, reading, and a sleep sound machine set to rain.  (And ok, I admit it, sometimes a bit of the Cooking Channel.)

Can’t get to sleep?  Try taking deep slow breaths, or doing a relaxation exercise or meditation.  Visualize a calm, peaceful place and then starting at your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head.  If you still find yourself wide awake, don’t fight it.  Make yourself a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk, daydream about something pleasant in a dimly lit space, and then let yourself drift off into sweet slumber.

I wonder if someone will make a king-sized cradle?