Eat Your Veggies! You may not even realize your body is craving them!
It's a cloudy, snowy Saturday here in NYC, and we are home alone, enjoying some time without the "guys" around! (They are on an overnight rode trip to visit Carnegie Melon in Pittsburgh, we love 'em, but everyone needs a break now and then!)
While we were both doing a little work on the computer and chilling, she asked me for a "raw veggie plate."
I've been making my kids "veggie" plates for years and it's amazing that when she's obviously feeling run down and tired, her body is craving the vitamins and nutrients in fresh, raw veggies! That's my girl! I went into the fridge and took out everything in the crisper drawer (it needed going through, anyway, so I got that done!) And look what we came up with! A beautiful, healthy array of veggies! I like to dip mine in hummus, or you can use a healthy ranch, or any dressing you like.
Treat yourself to some fresh, raw veggies. If you don't have any at home now make a point of picking some up the next time your at the store. They are inexpensive, so tasty, and so good for you! They are packed and bursting with healthy energy! Veggies are low in calories for weight management, they keep your skin glowing and your body healthy and strong!
New Year, New Goals, New You!
5 Simple Tips to Successful Resolutions
A Little History:
The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays dating back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar.
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Therefore he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.
The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins became more common gifts.
Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.
Other traditions of the season include the making of New Year's resolutions. That tradition also dates back to the early Babylonians where their most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment!
Our more popular and modern resolutions usually include promises like losing weight, saving money or quitting smoking.
The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was the tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth. Babies are still depicted in current New Year’s festivities.
New Year’s Eve is always an exciting time of year full of hope and renewal. One can truly look away from the past year (and all that we’d like to forget!) and, like Janus, look forward to the year ahead full of new possibilities. Many of us have grand goals as our resolutions which can peter out after a few weeks. The most successful resolutions are the ones that are simple, realistic, and most certainly desired.
Here Are A Few Tips To Making Those New Year’s Resolutions A Reality:
- Be Realistic - - - If you’re goal is to lose weight, for example, choose an attainable result. A healthy, realistic goal is 1-2 lbs a week. And have a smaller initial total goal to aim for, say 5 or 10 pounds. Once you lose that weight you can always keep going!
- Talk About It - - - The more you blab to your friends and family the more support you’ll get! (And the more accountable you’ll feel.) Find a find a partner or buddy who shares the same resolutions as you. You can motivate and encourage each other, and working with a mate makes the journey more rewarding.
- Create A Plan - - - Invest a little of your time researching the pros and cons of your resolution and outline a plan. If you’re going to start working out, plan ahead the days and amount of time you can realistically hit the gym, go for that power walk, bike, etc. Jumping out of the gate with the idea “I’m going to work out 2 hours a day, 7 days a week” is just not realistic and you’re setting yourself up for failure and big disappointment. Keep it specific and realistic!
- Reward Yourself - - - Achieving your resolutions shouldn’t be about total deprivation!This doesn’t mean you go nuts and eat a box of chocolates if you’ve had a few good days. Instead, reward yourself with something that doesn’t contradict your goal. Get a manicure, get a massage, go to a movie with a friend, do something for you that is healthy, stimulating, and keeps you on track.
- Don’t Give UP - - - After you’ve set your goals, created your realistic plan, gotten your partner and/or support system in place, this is probably the most important tip on the list! We all fall down, fall short, mess it up from time to time. But the only way to succeed is to keep at it. When things get a little off track, take a moment, a deep breath, reach out to a friend, regroup, and get back on track!
Everyday is a new day, and every new day is there for you to do your very best! The experts predict it takes about 3 weeks for a new activity (or removal of an activity!) to become a habit and about 6 months for it to become part of your personality, your lifestyle. Don’t give up, keep track of your progress, keep it simple, work with a buddy, talk about it, make a plan and keep it realistic.
Cheers To You!
Holiday Survival Guide
Seven Tips to Sail through the Holidays!
by: Laura McDonald
There’s always excitement in the air as the Holiday Season approaches, it’s a magical time! But there is also a tons of stress. There’s the running around, over-crowded shops, the calendar jammed with parties and events, the over-eating, over-spending, over-indulging, over-drinking, and spreading yourself too thin with over-committing.
Even seeing family members and friends can spark conflicting emotions and put you on edge.
And keep in mind that you're definitely not alone in this stressful balancing act. Consider some of these top holiday stressors:
- Not enough time
- Lack of money
- Pressures of gift-giving
- Trying to please everyone
- Credit card debt
- Dealing with stress
- Not enough sleep
So, what can you do to lessen the tension, stress, and anxiety?
Here are seven simple, easy tips and tricks to enjoying the holidays...You don’t have to become totally overwhelmed! (and a few bonus tips.)
Lower Your Expectations:
Cut yourself some slack! Try to go with the flow and let the little things go. Surrender to the madness and try to enjoy being in the moment. Everything may not be “perfect”, but what really matters is enjoying the experience, the journey, and letting go of trying to “control” everything!
If nothing else, do it for your sanity. When stress becomes overwhelming, take an exercise break. Even just 30 minutes a day — a brisk walk, a run on the treadmill, lifting some weights, a yoga class or even popping in an exercise dvd— gives you a powerful tool to fend off stress. Exercise helps you manage weight and is good for your body and releases endorphins that make you feel good! Exercise can also help you de-stress and clear your mind. And with a clear mind, you can make better decisions about what’s good for you this holiday season.
Accept Stress For What it is:
Life is full of stress, holidays or not! Seeing normal life events as uncontrollable, personal attacks “wires" you to produce more cortisol which drives up your blood pressure, and is unhealthy. Look at normal life events as — well, normal. This will help enable your body to calm down from stressful situations more quickly and stop the vicious stress cycle before it gets out of control.
Curb The Shopping:
Limit your gift giving to the important, close people in your life. You can even establish a “no-gift giving” policy with your friends and certain family members. (I did this a few years ago through e-mails or personal calls. Most of these friends were relieved to not have to give/send gifts and instead we exchange cards and try to make a point to catch up on the phone or even schedule a lunch, which is very special.) Stay home and shop on the Internet, or go to the mall during the off-peak hours. Better yet, give the gift that everyone treasures: time. Plan a family vacation, treat friends to dinner, take a little one to a favorite museum, play or show. Memories last a lifetime. There not found in material things, but in the time you spend with those youcare about most.
Give Unto Others.
Smile at a stranger, hold open a door, donate food and clothing, volunteer at homeless shelter or senior citizen center. Take the focus off yourself and and shine the light on someone else. Caring for another bonds you to humanity in a way like no other—and keeps you grounded. You’ll forget about all the little things you’ve been worrying about!
Eat, Drink and be Merry!
In moderation! The holidays are meant for celebration, not overindulgence. Try to limit portions of food and alcohol, this will help you avoid indigestion and even feeling poorly from over doing it! Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you are drinking alcohol. Eat slowly, and don’t overload your plate!
Take Some Time For Yourself:
This is probably one of the most important things you can do on this list! Taking care of yourself helps you to take better care of others. Go for a long walk or take some time to read or listen to your favorite music. Treat yourself to a manicure/pedicure or massage. Make the time to exercise. Or just unplug and take a nap to recharge your batteries! Taking a little time for yourself will actually give you more energy to accomplish your goals.
Here are a few more “quick” tips you can use:
- Stick To A Budget! This will definitely reduce stress as you have a plan.
- Acknowledge Your Feelings To A Close Friend.
- Reach Out. Seek help if you’re feeling lonely or isolated.
- Have Gratitude. Make a “gratitude” list of everything you’re grateful for everyday.
- Keep It Simple. Don’t over schedule yourself!
- Keep It Real! Be realistic, nothing is perfect so let the little things go.
- Plan Ahead. Whenever possible have a game plan so you don’t feel scattered about what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Make A List. Know exactly what you need before you head out shopping, whether for gifts, the grocery store, etc.
- Learn To Say No. Don’t feel compelled to do everything you’re asked. It’s healthy to say no and will reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and resentful.
- Stick To Your Healthy Habits.
Resolve to make this holiday season one of the best ever! Resolve to reduce and better manage your stress, and enjoy the holidays in good health and happiness!
Have a Healthy Day!
Sex And Exercise
by: Laura McDonald
Exercise And Sex Are Good For You
Ok...We all know exercise is good for you. It helps you stay in shape, keeps your heart healthy, reduces stress, helps lower blood pressure, can help reverse osteoporosis and keep other diseases at bay. Even moderate aerobic exercise can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and has positive benefits for diabetes. Exercise also adds years to your life! By exercising on a regular basis you’ll not only be increasing your health benefits, you’ll be making your sex life better! Exercise and Sex does a body, heart, mind and soul good. Keep reading:
Sex is Cardiovascular and Aerobic
Sex is a form of exercise, when you work up a sweat you burn calories and fat. So, when you have sex you are exercising and that makes you feel and look better and makes you healthier! Your working multiple muscles in your body and it keeps you flexible. Sex basically combines the benefits of cardio exercise and yoga into one activity.
Sex Releases Endorphins
When you’re having sex your whole body is engaged, including your brain, which releases calming and soothing endorphins that give a feeling of pleasure. It’s akin to the “runner’s high.” When you exercise and break a sweat you experience a feeling of bliss, contentment, even euphoria. The same applies when having sex. Each time you exercise or have sex your body releases these chemicals. The more you exercise, the more you are able to achieve this feeling of pleasure with exercise and sex.
Sex Boosts Your Energy
Just as exercise boosts your energy and stamina, so does sex. And not only in the bedroom--but also to help handle the long days at work, dealing with the family, and almost any other activities that get thrown at you!
Exercise Makes You Feel Sexier
It’s not easy having sex when you don’t feel sexy! People who exercise have an improved body image and feeling more comfortable about your body leads to better and more relaxed sex. The more physically fit you are, the more desirable you feel! It’s been proven that people who exercise more have more sex.
Some Other Healthy Benefits Of Exercise And Sex:
- Helps Reduce Erectile Dysfunction: When a man is experiencing circulatory problems it might be due to high blood pressure, blocked arteries or other cardiovascular concerns. Exercising helps keep the heart and arteries fit and healthy, which reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Helps Reduce Prostate Cancer
- Boost your Immunity
- Sex Reduces Pain (those endorphins again!)
- Improves Intimacy in your Relationship
- Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles
- Helps You Sleep Better
- Sex Relieves Stress
- Burns Calories
- Raises Your Self-Esteem
- Boost Your Mood and Confidence
- Helps You Age Better (Older adults who exercise on a regular basis have about the same amount of sex and pleasure as they did when they were younger!)
The list goes on and on. So if losing a few pounds or gaining better health isn’t enough to get you motivated and off the couch, think about the added healthy benefit of better and more sex! The bottom line is having sex is a great workout, and the more you workout the better the sex.
Exercise and Depression
by: Laura McDonald
Many studies have shown that people who exercise regularly reap the benefits of lower rates of depression and a positive boost in mood and energy.
How does exercise help with depression and anxiety?
When you exercise your brain releases feel-good endorphins that ease depression. These endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body which help diminish the perception of pain and anxiety. Exercise will also reduce immune system chemicals that can deepen depression. You will raise your heart rate which increases your body temperature for a calming effect. Exercise has psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you gain confidence, boost self-esteem, improve sleep and getting in shape can help you feel better about your appearance!
What type of exercise is best?
The good news is that virtual any form of exercise can help depression and anxiety.
You don’t have to go crazy and run 10 miles everyday! Exercise includes a wide range of activities that boost your activity level to help you feel better. Running, lifting weights, playing sports and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can gardening, washing your car, taking a stroll and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood and reduce depression. You can start slowly by taking walks around the neighborhood (go with a friend!) Gradually, work up to exercising on most days of the week. Try any of these moderate ways to get exercise:
- Low-impact aerobics
Making lifestyle changes can also help:
*Eat healthy foods, high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugars and fats. Make sure to get a good night's sleep. Drink plenty of water.
*Reduce stress at home and at work. Ask for help with some of the stressful things in your life. Enlist friends or family to occasionally help take care of some of the daily chores, like housework. If your job is stressful, figure out ways to scale back some of your responsibilities.
*Stop worrying! Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
*Get social. Joining a group exercise class may be beneficial. Or you can exercise with a friend or partner.
Other added health benefits:
- Strengthens heart muscle
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Reduced Body Fat
- Stronger bones
- Leaner, more toned muscles
- Increased energy
- Look fit and healthy
- Help reduce risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, and other types of diseases
- Lose weight
Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Creating a steady exercise program is a win-win situation and there is no excuse to not get started today! Look and feel your best by incorporating fitness and healthier eating into your lifestyle. And help keep depression and anxiety at bay.
Have a Healthy Day!
Last night I went to yoga class at my local gym. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a class (though I do a little practice on my own and incorporate techniques with my clients.) I was once again reminded how important the mind-body connection is. Within minutes I was breathing deeper, my racing thoughts were slowing down, and I began to experience “flow”---an integrated consciousness connecting mind, body and sprit with fluid movement, an unbroken stream of consciousness and a peaceful connection to myself and the outside world.
The moves (asanas) gradually grew in intensity but in yoga you are encouraged to accept “where” you are at at that moment. You don’t worry about how limber the neighbor next to you may be, or how you well did or didn’t do at the last class. You become the moment you are in, listening and connecting to your body. You may also rest in child’s pose at anytime if you like. There is no judgement, on others and most importantly on yourself. I left my class last night feeling relaxed and incredibly rejuvenated at the same time, a part of the yin and yang of yoga.
I want to share some thoughts I have on mindfulness, and how important it is to take the time to make the mind-body connection. Most of us face serious life challenges that interrupt our natural hormonal rhythms and sleep patterns. The world is a stressful place, now more than ever. Work, family, external stimuli, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, all lead to a more stressful life. We must not underestimate how debilitating and damaging living in this stressful, chronic state of worry is. According to the American Psychological Association (2010), stress has long-term effects on the immune system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, and skin and muscular system. When you’re stressed out your immune system weakens, leading to illness more often. Higher blood pressure is also linked to stress and you may also suffer tension and/or pain in the neck, shoulders and back.
Time tested yoga and meditation techniques for developing mindfulness and flow not only help you physically and mentally, but also helps you cope with stress in the outside world.
I encourage you to incorporate some type of yoga or meditation at least once or twice a week. (There are many dvd’s and even online yoga classes if you can’t get to a gym/studio.)
Or take a few minutes and do the following meditation exercises (2-3 minute intervals) once a day, or at least several times a week.
- Find a quiet spot. Start by sitting in a comfortable, cross-legged position or lie down. You can play soothing music, dim the lights, set the mood.
- Close your eyes and begin slow, deep breathing. Feel the breath moving in and out of the nose and filling your diaphragm. Imagine your breath slowly spreading throughout your body.
- Focus on the consciousness of the cool breath in and the warm breath out.
- As your mind wanders try to put those thoughts aside until your done with your meditation.
- Occupy your mind with a simple mantra.
Ex: I am life, I am peace, I am love.
Practice Mindfulness- - - - unifying the mind, body and spirit!
Have a Healthy Day,
Leave a Little on Your Plate
by Laura McDonald
Most of us have been taught from an early age to “clean your plate.” And if you grew up in my era you probably heard “people are starving in other parts of the world---Eat!” Boy, that makes you feel bad and then a pattern of feeling guilty can begin if you don’t scarf down every last morsel! Members of this “eat it all” club equate: food + guilt = BAD! It’s time to resign.
(And yes, people are starving all over the world, even right here in our own country. Send a donation, volunteer, and leave a bit on your plate to remind yourself how lucky you are!)
People who don’t overeat are usually not overweight and actually can leave food on their plate. When they feel full, they stop. If the dish isn’t knocking their socks off, they eat enough to satisfy their hunger and leave the rest. They don’t sit down with the one and only goal of cleaning that plate!
Try a new approach today---leave just a little bit on your plate. Eat slowly. Eat with appreciation and gratitude for the food you have. It may be difficult at first, but overtime if you leave a little bit of something when you can, you will lose weight and lose the obsession to overeat.
This is the training menu for my bootcamp class in Central Park today!
Friday Fall Fitness 9/16/11
warm up and stretch for a few minutes
One Minute Intervals:
- Jog in place ---easy-medium-harder (knees up)
- Jumping Jacks
- Side to Side Shuffles
- AX Chop - - - side, front, side
- Punch with bands
- Touch toes- - - JUMP
- plank back kicks
2 Laps! (approx. 2-3 minute duration)
- Wall Planks
- Windmill Warrior
- Iron Sumo Squat (knees touch elbows)
- Standing X Abs
REPEAT One Minute Intervals above
- plank back kicks
- Wall Planks
- Windmill Warrior
- Iron Sumo Squat (knees touch elbows)
- Standing X Abs
2 Laps!---cool down, stretch
September 8th, 2011
Laura's Easy Homemade Vegetable Soup
Other vegetables--tomatoes-shredded kale, spinach or cabbage, green beans, etc can be added to the soup if you wish. I recommend using as many local, seasonal vegetables from your area that you can find. This just keeps it super fresh, keeps it green and supports local farmers. This is the basic recipe, but you should get creative and make it your own by adding what you like.
3-4 TBLS organic butter
2 Cups Organic Chicken or vegetable broth
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery with leaves, diced
1 TBLS butter
1/2 or small onion, chopped
finely chopped fresh parsley
1 small/medium turnip peeled and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
Freshly Ground Pepper
Melt the butter in a soup pot, then add the onion, celery, carrots, turnip and potato. Cook over a low heat, stirring. If you have other vegetables to add, now is a good time. I love the soup with corn scraped right off the cob into the pot (I use two ears) and the kale or spinach is so healthy...just make sure it is rinsed well and torn into small pieces. Add the stock and the two cups water, partially cover pot with lid and let simmer for at least 30 minutes to up to a few hours (until veggies are tender) Salt and pepper to taste and add the fresh parsley on top to complete. Serve with a fresh whole wheat baguette with drizzled olive oil (you can infuse the oil with some dried basil, oregano and a pinch of salt,)
*Makes about 6 cups