Wellness

INTERMITTENT FASTING

With prom season upon us, I have heard so many students speak of “needing to lose serious weight for prom.” Hello…it’s a week away. Unless you fast for the entire week (which is not advocated or a good idea), the weight loss probably isn’t going to happen. However, one “new-ish” trend on the world of diets is Intermittent fasting (IF) in which a larger meal is consumed in a prescribed time slot and then fast for the other hours in the day. The jury is still out on the health benefits of IF or if it provides long term effects. Assuming a person can make it work for their own lifestyle, professional and family responsibilities, it may be a good option for someone looking to lose some weight or body fat.

In an article from The Diet Doctor, an excerpt explains how it works and the variations to the IF diet.

Life is about balance. The good and the bad. The yin and the yang. The same applies to eating and fasting. Fasting, after all, is simply the flip side of eating. If you are not eating, you are fasting. Here’s how it works:

When we eat, more food energy is ingested than can immediately be used. Some of this energy must be stored away for later use. Insulin is the key hormone involved in the storage of food energy.

Insulin rises when we eat, helping to store the excess energy in two separate ways. Sugars can be linked into long chains, called glycogen and then stored in the liver. There is, however, limited storage space; and once that is reached, the liver starts to turn the excess glucose into fat. This process is called De-Novo Lipogenesis (meaning literally Making Fat from New).

Some of this newly created fat is stored in the liver, but most of it is exported to other fat deposits in the body. While this is a more complicated process, there is no limit to the amount of fat that can be created. So, two complementary food energy storage systems exist in our bodies. One is easily accessible but with limited storage space (glycogen), and the other is more difficult to access but has unlimited storage space (body fat).

The process goes in reverse when we do not eat (fasting). Insulin levels fall, signaling the body to start burning stored energy as no more is coming through food. Blood glucose falls, so the body must now pull glucose out of storage to burn for energy.

Glycogen is the most easily accessible energy source. It is broken down into glucose molecules to provide energy for the other cells. This can provide enough energy to power the body for 24-36 hours. After that, the body will start breaking down fat for energy.

So, that the body only really exists in two states – the fed (insulin high) state and the fasted (insulin low) state. Either we are storing food energy, or we are burning it. It’s one or the other. If eating and fasting are balanced, then there is no net weight gain.

If we start eating the minute we roll out of bed, and do not stop until we go to sleep, we spend almost all our time in the fed state. Over time, we will gain weight. We have not allowed our body any time to burn food energy.

To restore balance or to lose weight, we simply need to increase the amount of time we burn food energy (fasting). In essence, fasting allows the body to use its stored energy. After all, that’s what it is there for. The important thing to understand is that there is nothing wrong with that. That is how our bodies are designed. That’s what dogs, cat, lions and bears do. That’s what humans do.

If you are constantly eating, as is often recommended, then your body will simply use the incoming food energy and never burn the body fat. You’ll only store it. Your body will save it for a time when there is nothing to eat. You lack balance. You lack fasting.

Shorter fasts (<24hrs)

Fasting offers infinite flexibility. You can fast for as long or short as you like, but here are some popular regimens. Generally, shorter fasts are done more frequently.

16:8

This involves daily fasting for 16 hours. Sometimes this is also referred to as an 8-hour eating ‘window’. You eat all your meals within an 8-hour time period and fast for the remaining 16 hours. Generally, this is done daily or almost daily.

For example, you may eat all your meals within the time period of 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. Generally, this means skipping breakfast. You generally eat two or three meals within this 8-hour period.

20:4

This involves a 4-hour eating window and a 20-hour fast. For example, you might eat between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm every day and fast for the other 20 hours. Generally, this would involve eating either one meal or two smaller meals within this period.

 

Longer fasts (>24 hours)

24-hour fasts

This involves fasting from dinner to dinner (or lunch to lunch). If you eat dinner on day 1, you would skip the next day’s breakfast and lunch and eat dinner again on day 2. This means that you are still eating daily, but only once during that day. This would generally be done two to three times per week.

5:2 fast

This involves 5 regular eating days and 2 fasting days. However, on these two fasting days, it is permitted to eat 500 calories on each day. These calories can be consumed at any time during the day – either spread throughout the day, or as a single meal.

36-hour fasts

This involves fasting for the entire day. For example, if you eat dinner on day 1, you would fast for all of day 2 and not eat again until breakfast on day 3. This is generally 36 hours of fasting. This provides more powerful weight loss benefit. The other great benefit is that it avoids the temptation to overeat dinner on day 2.

 

The bottom line is when we consume less energy (calories) than we burn, we lose weight (and, ideally, most of that is body fat). Fresh, unprocessed, nutrient-dense food is a must, regardless of which eating style you adopt. And of course, exercise is a critical part of the equation. Once those three have been taken care of, it’s a matter of personal preference and lifestyle considerations.

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MOTIVATION

We are all uniquely different, thank God, or it would be a boring world. Likes, dislikes, styles, hobbies, professions, you name it. What motivates us to do what we do? Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? As teachers we often joke that if we want kids (or teachers for that matter) to show up the answer is “free food.” It nearly always works. And guess what? Studies have shown that given the option of food, money or praise, in the short term, food was the answer and productivity actually increased.

As teachers, I bet we could “motivate” students for a day with the promise of food but over the long run, praise from the boss in these studies is what had a longer lasting effect on productivity and truth be told, it is what a human beings want….a desire to be appreciated. We are the bosses of our classrooms and if we want our students to achieve over the long haul, I would be willing to bet that a well-placed compliment will keep the kids coming back for more.

Study Says Pizza Works Better Than Cash to Motivate Employees. But One Thing Works Even Better

And guess what? It won’t cost you a thing.

Justin Bariso

Who doesn’t love pizza?

That’s the question Dan Ariely implies in his upcoming book Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations. In the book, Ariely, a behavioral economist, recounts a week-long experiment in which employees working at a semiconductor factory were promised one of three things if they were able to assemble a certain number of chips per day:

  • A cash bonus of approximately $30
  • A voucher for a free pizza
  • A complimentary text message of “Well done!” from the boss

A fourth group, serving as the control, received nothing.

Interestingly, a number of major outlets have reported on this study, correctly pointing out that pizza was the top motivator on day one–increasing productivity by 6.7 percent over the control group. This is somewhat surprising considering the cash only motivated a 4.9 percent increase…and actually resulted in a 6.5 percent drop in productivity for the week overall.

But what caught my attention was what turned out to be the biggest motivator of the week:

It was the compliment.

Why Praise Matters

I’ve written extensively about the ability commendation has to motivate others.

Decades ago, Dale Carnegie expounded on the power of praise in his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People:

There is one longing–almost as deep, almost as imperious, as the desire for food or sleep–which is seldom gratified. It is what Freud calls “the desire to be great.” It is what Dewy calls the “desire to be important.”

…William James said: The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” He didn’t speak, mind you, of the “wish” or the “desire” or the “longing” to be appreciated. He said the “craving” to be appreciated.

When you commend and praise members of your team, you satisfy a basic human craving and provide motivation as a byproduct–as was highlighted in Ariely’s experiment.

And just think: If the promise of a simple text message from the boss can increase productivity, can you imagine what real, sincere and authentic praise would do?

For example, imagine if you were approached by a colleague or team leader and heard the following:

“Hey, _____________, do you have a minute? I’ve been meaning to tell you something. I know I don’t say this enough, but I really appreciate what you’re doing here. The way you handled that (project, client, problem)–it was great. I could really see your (specific quality you possess) in action, and how much it benefits the company.

Keep up the good work.”

Sound motivating?

Remember This

To be clear, I never encourage flattery–or praise that you don’t really mean.

But everyone deserves praise for something; as a leader, it’s your job to figure out what. To look for the good, to see the potential, and to bring out the best in them.

Your employees will value that a heckuva lot more than pizza.

I guarantee it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PEACE OF MIND

If you don’t know it already, your mental state of physical wellbeing is often as important if not more important than your physical wellbeing. Kind of like, the chicken or the egg. Which came first. Physical health affects a person mentally and most definitely mental/emotional health affects an individually physically. Whether it is unmanaged stress, depression, anxiety etc. it takes a toll. It is important to find outlets to manage the various stressors we house so it doesn’t become a chronic condition physically or mentally (especially when we don’t have a Spring Break!).

Music is always a great option. It often takes us away to a flood of good memories, it is a relaxer and can soothe our emotions. Singing can even release tension that we have built up over the course of the day. Calming music can promote peace and relaxation before bedtime. If music is “it” for you, keep the following words in mind. Even if music isn’t your thing, try to find your own Peace of Mind compliments of Boston.

Now if you’re feelin’ kinda low ’bout the dues you’ve been paying Future’s coming much too slow And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin’ Can’t decide on which way to go Yeah, yeah, yeah I understand about indecision But I don’t care if I get behind People livin’ in competition All I want is to have my peace of mind. (yeah) Now you’re climbin’ to the top of the company ladder Hope it doesn’t take too long Can’t cha see there’ll come a day when it won’t matter Come a day when you’ll be gone I understand about indecision But I don’t care if I get behind People livin’ in competition All I want is to have my peace of mind. Take a look ahead, take a look ahead, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah… Whoa! Now everybody’s got advice they just keep on givin’ Doesn’t mean too much to me Lot’s of people out to make-believe they’re livin’ Can’t decide who they should be. I understand about indecision But I don’t care if I get behind People livin’ in competition All I want is to have my peace of mind. Take a look ahead, take a look ahead. Look ahead.

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FINANCIAL HEALTH

No matter how old you are, it never hurts to have a few extra pennies in your pocket. Shop the sales, use coupons and only buy what you “need.” After all, it is better to have the extra money in our own pockets than the retailers. See a penny pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck. Plus, you’ll have an extra penny to save! Does anyone save anymore? Can anyone save anymore? Young old and in between, everyone seems to be stuck in managing their money paycheck to paycheck. Young people are saddled with school loans, older people are worried about retirement and the in-betweeners are raising kids and wondering how much college will cost when their kids turn 18.

Need vs. Want. There is a difference. Needs are food, shelter, clothes and a way to get around each day. There is also a difference within the needs themselves. Food doesn’t have to include steamed crabs, surf and turf when chicken will do. Cars don’t have to be a Lamborghini when a Honda Civic works and clothes can be bought at Target or Kohl’s. How many bathrooms do you really need in a house? You just have more toilets to more to clean. Lawn service or cleaning service? Do it yourself. Bottom line is don’t live beyond your means and put yourself in debt (or further debt).

Surveys and studies have shown that the Millennial Generation will end up in worse financial shape than their parents (the first generation to do so), stemming from financial unease, lack of confidence in government programs, a lack of Social Security and medical benefits. Additionally, more debt and higher poverty rates plus more people in the work force (creating more competition) are high on the list of concerns for the millennial aged generation. The stats don’t even take into account the excessive spending so many tend to indulge in.

Even companies that have savings plans (401Ks) often hurt the employee’s ability to save for retirement. Some requirements of 401Ks won’t allow employees to contribute until they are 21 years of age and others won’t allow contributions until they are employed for one year and then have to wait another year to be eligible for company matching funds. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data shows the median tenure is only 4.1 years for private sector workers and the federal data found that the average number of jobs held for people under the age of 50 is 11. Holy Cow!!! Eleven!!! That said, this would mean that for 11 years (the first year at each place of employment), a person would not be able to contribute to retirement. The U.S. GAO’s projections conclude that over $400,000 less in retirement savings.

Regardless of what the statistics say or how many jobs a person has had, it is up to us to save our own money and not spend it frivolously on “non-need” items. A person doesn’t have to live like a pauper and eat Ramen Noodles for dinner every night but is the 72” home theatre television really necessary? How many toys does each kid actually need?

Try to save early in your career or whenever possible, even when you don’t think you can afford to save. It gives you control of your options later in life. The best advice to a newbie is to put money into a 403B (an educator’s 401K). Starting salaries are now mid 40’s. Back in the day, it was $18,500 and with a Master’s $21,000. Put it in and don’t touch it. Full retirement now (assuming a person starts at 22 years of age) is 34 years (Rule of 90). Just think of how much money can be saved if you sink it into an account every paycheck. You may not think it will ever add up but it does. Time flies by and assuming you make a career in education, it is nice to know there is a little tiny pot that can supplement a pension. It’s almost like a faucet. You turn the water (money) on when you need it; a drip or a flow, the well is there to dip into if you need the money.

Money and finances are high on life’s stressors list. I can’t emphasize strongly enough to manage your money wisely, live within your means, if you don’t have the money, don’t buy it and save, save, save. It will pay off in the long run (pun intended!).

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WEIGHT LOSS

Trying to lose weight is frustrating. In this world of instant gratification, we hope that the five pounds we gained over the winter will go away after one day of healthy eating. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way (unless it water weight that will easily be gained back). We psych ourselves up to “start a diet on Monday,” shop healthy over the weekend and by Tuesday afternoon, we are starving and thinking “just one cookie won’t hurt.” By the time HH rolls around on Thursday or Friday, we are done. Most of us have been there, done that many times over.

There is no easy way to lose weight and keep it off. It is work….a lifetime of work. The general rule of thumb is to lose weight, it is a 75% to 25% ratio of what you eat to how much you exercise. That said, it is still important to work exercise into your weight loss routine. A person will lose fat through dieting but also muscle mass (and bone density!). If there is a substantial weight loss, you end up with a very weak body. As one article states, “while you can’t outrun a bad diet because cutting calories is easier than burning it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise at all.” If you have any wearable technology or use an app for workouts, take a look at the duration of a run, let’s say. It gives you duration of exercise and calories burned. Seriously, a 45 minute run was only burning 350-400 calories?? WTH. After leaving out there on the field, treadmill, road or court, you want a whole pizza burned up, not just one slice.

If losing weight is mostly tied into your diet, a few recommendations…first, stay away from fads diets. No carbs or no fat diets…they aren’t realistic. Your body actually needs all of the macronutrients. You don’t want to deprive yourself of food groups that are essential for optimal functioning. Try counting calories and make sure your calories are coming from healthy foods. To compute how many calories you need a day to lose, stay the same or gain, go to this website and put in your own data. http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html   If you go too low on calories, you slow your metabolism down actually making it harder to lose weight; too high on calories and you will gain weight.

If necessary, keep a food journal. It actually helps you to literally see what is going in your mouth and on your hips, butt and belly. Remember serving size as well (a serving size of meat/fish is the size of a deck of cards). Even if you don’t write it down, be picky. Choose the right kind of foods to consume. Limit refined sugars and starches and increase fruits, veggies and protein. Try to eliminate simple sugars (anything ending in “ose”) and any enriched products such as white bread.

Once you have established some healthy eating habits, add some sort of strength training (even if it is just body weight exercises) as well as cardio to help burn calories and give yourself a better look and build bone density. If you don’t have a gym membership, check out nerdfitness.com for helpful ideas and suggestions for exercising at home.

The older you get, the harder it is to lose weight. Your metabolism slows, habits are more engrained and life just gets in the way. If you can establish healthier habits when you are younger, you feel better, have more energy, less stress on your joints, set a better example for your kids and have fewer health concerns as you age. Getting older sucks but if you can take a little bit better care of yourself, you will thank yourself in the long run. So will your family and friends.

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When You Need Your Own Personal Masseuse

Wouldn’t it be awesome to end each day with a little pampering? Your own personal massage therapist? As good as a massage would feel at the end of every school day, most people are not willing to shell out $50-$150 for self indulgence. It is possible though with minimal time, effort and materials to “hurt so good.” One of the most overlooked muscles in the entire body is the hip flexor. Weak, tired or overused and under strengthened hip flexors can lead to many different spine/back/hip issues which can be completely disabling.

The article below explains how a simple lacrosse ball can be utilized to help alleviate soreness in several areas of the body in addition to the hips without too much time or effort. If you want to kick it up a notch, especially with the hip and back area, Google “foam rollers.” A $20 investment could pay off if it helps to relieve every day pain caused by any number of physical or stress related issues. It may be worth “hurting so good.”

The Best Tool for a Deeper Self-Massage

Jay Cardiello

Life would be wonderful if we all had a personal massage therapist at our disposal to help rub out the soreness, stress, and tension that we experience on a daily basis. Unfortunately this is not realistic for most of us, and while we all love foam rolling, sometimes a foam roller is just too big for those harder-to-reach places.

However there is an effective way that one can experience complete relief from tired and aching muscles. Best thing about this, you may even find the answer on the floor of your kid’s room. Plus it’s easily portable—it can be stashed in your desk at work or thrown in your carry-on. What magical tool am I talking about? A rubber lacrosse ball. This highly durable SMR (self-myofascial release) tool has become more popular over the past few years as an easy way to activate trigger points in muscles and relax very stressed areas.

Below are five different ways you can use a lacrosse ball for more effective myofascial release. Perform each of the following exercises for up to 60 seconds. They can be performed before or after your workout, as well as any time throughout the day. No need to go fancy—a simple maverick STX lacrosse will do the trick.

  1. Soothe sore feet. Place the lacrosse ball under the arch of your bare foot and begin rolling over it. The ball will provide instant relief from tight arches and also help those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. I recommend keeping a ball in a ziplock bag in the freezer for an after-work cold foot massage or storing one in your carry-on bag for your next flight.
  2. Ease glute pain.In a standing position, rest the lacrosse ball between your glute and a wall with the ball directly over the area you are experiencing pain. Press your glute into the wall and begin performing circular motions in and around the area. Once the pain subsides, stop moving and increase pressure into the wall with the ball resting directly over the sore spot. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  3. Loosen tight hips. Lie on the side where you are experiencing tightness with knees bent 90 degrees and stacked on top of each other. Rest hands on the floor in front of your body. Raise your hip, place the ball directly under the stressed area, and slowly lower your weight back onto the ball. Begin moving your hips around to massage and release tension in the area. If the pain is too severe, stand up, place the tight hip closest to the wall, and place the ball over the tight area. Begin moving your hip around to massage the pain away.
  4. Relieve shoulder stress.Positioning the ball in this area can be tricky, so place it in an old stocking or sock to give you more control. Stand tall with your back close to the wall. Hold the end of the stocking or sock with one hand and, allowing the ball to rest between you and the wall, position the ball directly over the stressed area. Press your back into the wall. You can rest the ball over the area or perform small circular motions until you start to feel relief.
  5. Ease forearm pain.Sitting in front of a computer all day can wreak havoc on your forearms. If not properly stretched and strengthened, this can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Try these two ways to relieve the tension: Hold the ball in one hand and role it up and down the forearm, or place the ball on a desk or other flat surface and rest your forearm over the ball. Press your forearm into the ball and run it over the ball. I recommend doing this several times throughout your work day to relieve your muscles.

 

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DEPRESSION

A bad day? A bad week? Or something more? Tired? Stressed? Uninterested in life? If you are feeling this way occasionally, it happens especially as the holidays approach. But if this has become life, maybe it is something more. Depression affects over 350 million people around the world and is a leading cause of disability. Your mental/emotional state affects your physical state and your physical state affects your mental state and then it just snowballs. This is part of the reason that “wellness” incorporates the whole package of being . . . physical, emotional and social.

Depression, defined as “to lower the spirits of; to lessen the energy or vigor of; or to lower the nervous or functional activities of,” can often be suffocating or debilitating to an individual going through a difficult period. It interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It is real and it isn’t a character flaw. Many factors contribute to the onset of depression including genetics, biology of the brain and the brain’s chemistry. Often traumatic life events can trigger the beginning of depression. It is generally thought that the signs and symptoms are experienced for a consistent two weeks or more, not just sporadically (like on an A or B day at school! LOL). I shouldn’t joke actually as depression is a widespread incapacitating illness.

There are several types of depression/depressive disorders. The first of which is intermittent, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), occurring in the winter months when there is less natural sunlight and less time spent outside. It can be treated with light therapy or some form of antidepressant medication. Bipolar Disorder is listed as a type of depression because there are bouts of extreme lows followed by extreme highs. Other types include postpartum depression and psychotic depression which involves depression but also psychosis and includes delusions and/or hallucinations. The two most prevalent forms of depressions are major depression and persistent depressive disorder. The first involves interference of a person and their ability to sleep, work, study, eat and basically the ability to enjoy life. These episodes can occur many times in a person’s lifetime. The second disorder, persistent, is a much longer occurrence, often years in which they yo-yo between major depression and less severe periods of time but still exhibiting the same symptoms to a lesser degree.

There are several signs that indicate you MAY be nearing depression. First, you have lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy; there is no interest in doing much of anything except being in social isolation. Second, you can’t sleep. Self-explanatory. Also, you feel exhausted all of the time, a total lack of energy and a feeling of hopelessness. Another potential sign is that you can’t focus, like living in a constant fog. Tuning in and out, trouble remembering or even being able to respond during a conversation. Your diet can be another indicator. You have lost your appetite or constantly overeat, a change in weight (gaining or losing) can signal distress. Along the same lines, digestive disorders can suggest a disruption in a positive mental state. Our mental health definitely is a big tie into our digestive health. Ever have a knot in your stomach during anxious moments? Our mental clarity helps to control want signals our stomach sends to our brain. And lastly, and probably the most prevalent is a persistent sad and hopeless feeling. People in a depressed state can get sucked into a whirlpool of negativity and feeling of being overwhelmed. With work and the right supports, these feelings can be overcome and shift to a positive mindset.

While everyone goes through bouts of stress, anxiety and fatigue, most people bounce back after a day or two, a good weekend or a restful night sleep. It is when the couple of days turn into a couple of weeks, then a month or longer and your life as you knew it is disrupted (kind of like the start of school!). If you have concerns about yourself or others, be open and honest with a professional or someone your trust. Get help if necessary. Don’t think “it can’t happen to me, I’m tougher than that.” You are tougher and stronger when admitting difficulty and then working your way through it.

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Nutrition Facts

NUTRITIONAL LABEL READING

As a kid, who didn’t read the label on the side of cereal boxes? I still do, however, I don’t just limit it to cereal boxes. Since the BCPS “Healthy Loser” initiative started and even before, shopping takes a bit more time, not to comparison shop for prices, but to shop labels. Wow . . . it can be very eye opening. Sometimes I wish I didn’t look. I now try to turn it into a challenge to find foods I want to eat but have lower sodium and added sugars. I refuse to eat lettuce and rice cakes for the rest of my life. That just is ridiculous. For example, corn chips and salsa is better than potato chips and ranch dip. Hot air popcorn rocks it with very low calories and lots of fiber (although it borders on rice cake flavor).

The labels on all foods have governmental regulations which have to be listed. Ingredients, which are listed most to least (so avoid foods that are listed as “enriched,” sugar—or anything ending in “ose,” syrups and hydrogenated oils), should be read first and foremost to know what is in the product. After the ingredients, the nutritional “chart”on each label should be dissected to know how much of what is contained in what you are eating.

The label above is an example of macaroni and cheese. Starting in area #1—note the serving size!!! One cup, not one box, one plate full or one bowl. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to overindulging. Area #2 on the chart is calories and number of calories from fat. A general guide to calories is that 40 calories is considered low, 100 calories is moderate and 400 calories is considered high—keeping in mind serving size. This is based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. You need to skew it depending upon how many calories you normally consume.

Area #3 on the label is an area in which you should limit consumption. Bad. Bad. Bad. Too much fat (saturated and trans fats), cholesterol and sodium can increase your risk for certain chronic diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure and even some cancers. Below lists the Daily Values (DV) in mg and the recommended goal each day. It is a good thing to keep the fats, cholesterol and sodium to a minimum. It is okay to consume very, very little each day.

Examples of DVs versus %DVs

Based on a 2,000 Calorie Diet

Nutrient DV %DV Goal
Total Fat 65g = 100%DV Less than
Sat Fat 20g = 100%DV Less than
Cholesterol 300mg = 100%DV Less than
Sodium 2400mg = 100%DV Less than
Total Carbohydrate 300g = 100%DV At least
Dietary Fiber 25g = 100%DV At least

Area #4 on the sample label is known as “get enough” of these. It is the shaded area on the above label (does not include the sugar). Most Americans don’t get enough vitamin A or C, calcium, iron or fiber in their diets. Often eating foods high in this area increases the chances you will be eating a healthier diet. Additionally, iron helps with rich oxygenated blood, calcium prevents osteoporosis and fiber helps the bowels.

Area #5, the Footnote area, gives you percent daily values (again, based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet). Whoaaaa! Add these babies up and many of us max out by lunch. No more McDonald breakfast runs! The little sidebar on DV lists anything with 5% or less is low (and good for the percentages), anything over 20% is high and maybe you shouldn’t eat it or cut in half.

A few nutrients do not list number of mg or a DV basically because they aren’t good for you—trans fats and sugars. Zero would always be best in these areas as it promotes raising the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Protein DVs only need to be listed if a product claims to be high in protein. It should be proportionately a part of your daily diet as long as it is good protein (not ground beef that is 73% or Taco Bell). Other labels like Oikos Triple Zero yogurt (15 mg of protein contains 30% of the RDA of protein), has to list the protein due to the claim of being high in that area.

One thing to keep in mind with sugars, is the label only listed all sugars as “sugars.” There are good sugars that naturally occur (fruits) and bad sugars (added sugars). BOTL for added sugars, they lurk everywhere.

You almost need to be a chemist to figure all of this out. Eating healthy is not always easy. You get sabotaged from all aspects of life. Advertising, shelf placement of products (check it out—bad, tasty stuff is eye level, good stuff is on the bottom shelves), and simply the comfort foods and “bad” foods just taste better and are more readily available at social events. Who hosts a Superbowl party and puts out bowls of tossed salads and celery/carrots? People want that 7 layer salad not green salad! Tweak your diet and take an extra 10 minutes in the grocery store to compare or read labels. It really is eye opening. Every little bit of knowledge counts!

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SHOES

If you have ever had trouble with your feet, you know it is no fun. Particularly for exercise, it is imperative that you have good shoes or you are setting yourself up for painful days ahead. Nearly every athletic brand sells shoes for fashion. Multi-colored, neon, glow in the dark (for night running), differing treads to name a few of the reasons that will entice people to buy their brand. So many brands sell varying levels of shoes that have not a great deal of quality to them. Fans of a certain player may spend a ton of money because of the name of the athlete although the shoes do not fit correctly.

If you are going to invest some of your hard earned money in a pair of decent shoes, make sure they aren’t going to sit in your closet because they hurt your feet, fall apart or even buy them because you got a good deal on them.

The following is from a website that deals with the importance of shoes not just for exercise but on how shoes can affect the whole body.

Wearing good shoes can help you to feel your best and help prevent injuries. Shoe choice can affect your whole body, not just your feet.

Look for shoes that:

  • Have a stiff back. Grasp the heel in one hand and the shoe above the heel in the other hand. You should not be able to move the shoe side-to-side around the heel.
  • Have a small amount of torque. Hold the shoe at both ends. You should be able to twist it slightly.
  • Bend where your toes bend..
  • Provide arch support. If the shoe does not have arch support, add an extra arch that makes it comfortable. Check that the arch support can fit in the shoe without squeezing the toes or causing the shoes to slip off the heel.
  • Are wide enough and long enough at the toes. It should not push the toes in or make them curl.
  • Feel comfortable right away.

When to replace shoes?

  • Look at the heel. Most people will wear out the side of the heel over time. When the heel becomes angled, it will alter every step you take and can cause pain in the leg or back. Shoe repair stores may be able to fix the heel. If not, replace the shoe.
  • Running shoes can cause pain before they look worn. This is because they lose the capacity to absorb shock. The guideline to replace running shoes is every 350 to 500 miles. Running shoes older than one year old may also cause pain because of changes in the sole with exposure to humidity or heat. Save running shoes for running only and it will prolong the life of the shoe. Old running shoes can be used for walking.

Consider different factors for different shoes:

Athletic shoes: There are four types of running shoes: motion control, stability, neutral/cushioning, and minimalist. The correct shoe for you is based on arch type and biomechanics. One way to test the shoe is to walk and jog in it. You can also balance on one leg and do a one-legged squat. The shoe should feel comfortable right away and these tests should feel easier in the right shoe.

For court sports, a sport-specific shoe is better than a running shoe because it will provide more side-to-side support. For cleats, it can be helpful to pick a shoe that allows you to add an arch support.

Minimalist shoes are used for forefoot running to simulate “barefoot” running. To avoid injury, it’s best to slowly add time and to get guidance for proper form.

Sandals: Flip flops are good for short distance walking only. Choose sandals with strapstha cover more of the foot and/or wrap around the anke.

Boots may fit loosely and not provide adequate foot support. Adding arch support can improve comfort.

Women’s dress shoes are often detrimental to feet, knees, and spines. Heels alter whole body posture and can cause pain. If you wear heels, pick a lower heel shoe, a wider heel or wedge, and a heel that does not curve in. Wear higher heels when you have to, then switch to a lower heels if you have to walk any distance.

Take time to tie and untie your shoes:

Your shoe will work best when it fits snugly and acts as an extension of your foot, without sliding around. Pulling off your shoe without untying it will cause the support in the shoe to break down much faster.

It’s funny how some people are just passionate about their shoes. The one good thing about shoes……is no matter how much weight you gain or lose, they will always fit! Unless you are pregnant…..that probably takes it to a whole different level of weight gain and feet swelling.

For those of you who are looking for a good pair of shoes for cardio or any type of exercise, I highly recommend Brooks. I’m sure there are plenty of good shoes out there but I will never buy any other shoes other than Brooks.

Do your feet and body a favor….invest in decent shoes for the long haul. You will be thankful that you did.

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BCPS WELLNESS

In the recent past, BCPS has added a central office to the Office of Benefits, Leaves and Retirement….it is the Employee Wellness Office and can be located through a link on the internet or intranet through Benefits, Leaves and Retirement. There are many offerings to participate in through school based activities or even if you need personal or family care. For school related activities, you can check either the internet or intranet, for more personal information on the health care opportunities through Cigna or Kaiser, the intranet is the best location.

BCPS activities include monthly challenges, Healthiest Loser, Red Your Red, offerings for fitness center discounts and smoking cessation, 10,000 Steps, 5K Wellness Day, Flu Vaccines, Hungry Harvest, CPR Training and several others. Additionally, through our Health Care Providers, there are so many opportunities for help in all facets of life….physically, emotionally, financially, family counseling, general quality of life, etc.

The website below is a good place to start to explore all that is available to us.

http://workspace.bcps.org/wellness/Pages/default.aspx

Remember, a healthier and happier you, makes it so much easier to face the day and the challenges that may come forth. Take a minute or two to investigate the benefits that BCPS’s Office of Wellness presents to all employees.

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KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

No, not your lucky lotto numbers although the winning numbers would be awesome. What would be even better are winning numbers in “Know Your Numbers” regarding your health. That way you can happily and healthfully enjoy your megabucks in hitting the jackpot. To be honest, money is great and something we can’t live without but so is your health. I can’t imagine living the life of a chronically sick person, housebound and running to doctors every other day. Just shoot me. Quality of life is probably the “key to happiness” although we may not even realize it. Health is a large contributor to the quality of your life. You don’t think so? . . . Trying living with poor health or observe someone that has poor health. Probably not a pretty picture. So many other factors affect those with poor health as well. Depression, lack of self-confidence, poor self-image, so many psychological aspects go in to quality of life as well.

That said . . . Know Your Numbers! Blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI. If you don’t know them, find them out. Cholesterol is the most difficult to determine because you need a blood test. A fasting blood test can determine your blood sugar too but if you know someone with diabetes, they may let you use their blood sugar testing kit and prick your finger to do a quick test on your sugar levels. Blood Pressure? Stop by our nurse’s office or any pharmacy usually has a blood pressure cuff that can give you a quick check. BMI is as simple as plugging your height and weight into a chart that calculates your BMI for you.

A quick overview of the actual numbers . . . Blood pressure. Systolic over Diastolic. The pressure in your arteries on every beat over the pressure in your heart between beats. It’s generally been said that the lower number is the “more important number.” That makes sense because if it measures the pressure between beats of your heart, you don’t want that pressure high. It’s like over filling a balloon. Kaboom if it gets too high. In theory, 120/80 is considered the normal blood pressure. Between 120/80 and 139/89 is considered borderline. 140/90 is high and above that is very high. Blood pressure can routinely vary through the day as it can be affected by exercise, stress, sleep and meds. Low blood pressure is generally thought to be good as long as you feel well and are not dizzy or see stars after quick movements. Know your numbers. Have Kate check it out. Don’t be reactive, be proactive.

Cholesterol numbers . . . the bad news is only 25% of the numbers are under your control while 75% is inherited. Know your family’s health history of heart/cardiovascular disease. Meds can control the cholesterol but not “cure” it. Once those arteries become clogged with a waxy build up that coats the inside of the arteries (it is called hardening of the arteries because that stuff is rock solid), the way to get them “unclogged” is through heart surgery. Not good. Angioplasty and stents are what is put in to open the throughways of the arteries to your heart. And with each time this has to be performed, the chance of success goes down. If it sounds like a scare tactic, it is. Get the numbers down the best as possible through your diet. Lay off the crappy foods that has a ton of saturated and trans fats. Read the label. Cholesterol levels have a tendency to go up as we age, especially with women. Keep them low. There are several actual numbers to deal with regarding cholesterol. HDL, LDL, overall cholesterol, the HDL/LDL ratio and triglycerides. It’s called a lipid panel when you get blood work done. The general thought is that overall cholesterol should be below 200. Triglycerides below 150, HDL (good) is 35-65 for men and 35-80 for women, LDL (bad) is below 130, the ratio should be optimally 3.5 to 1 but 4.0 to 1 is considered okay. Unfortunately, getting a blood test (fasting) is the only way to get a true lipid/cholesterol test. There are home kits but I think when dealing with the importance of cholesterol, it is important to let the professionals handle the testing. To help lower cholesterol, eat a heart healthy diet, be active, lose weight if necessary, don’t smoke and try to eliminate saturated/trans fats. Say goodbye to fast foods. Know your numbers!

A high blood sugar level in our bodies can lead to diabetes. Insulin helps us absorb nutrients from our food. Whenever we eat carbs the amount of sugar in our blood increases, and the pancreas releases insulin to help take the sugar out of the bloodstream and into our organs where it can be used for energy. Diabetes follows when that insulin response doesn’t occur and sugar piles up in the blood with nowhere to go. Fasting glucose numbers should fall between 70-100 and throughout the day, below 125 is acceptable. Know your numbers!

The last “Know Your Numbers” number is BMI. In my (unprofessional) opinion, a BMI number is the least to worry about and also the least accurate of the important numbers to know. It basically is a glorified height/weight chart. That isn’t to say weight isn’t important because it is. However, the percentage of body fat is probably more important as it takes into consideration musculature and body build. That said, if your BMI is under 18.5, you are considered underweight, between 18.5 and 24.9, the so-called normal range, 25.0-29.9, overweight and above 30.0, obese. If you are overweight or have a high percentage of body fat or BMI, other health issues can arise such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and/or sleep apnea among others. There is no such thing as an “ideal” body weight, shape or size. If you feel good, have plenty of energy, eat a good diet and participate in physical activities, you are probably on the right road to healthy living. Don’t smoke, limit alcohol and manage stress, you have it made! Know your numbers!

Don’t just roll the dice and let the numbers fall where they may. Pick and choose your numbers. In most instances, lower numbers are good. Don’t tell the lottery agent, “random select.” Those numbers always stink. Know your numbers and the numbers that need to be drawn. No money in the world is going to buy your health. Hit the jackpot on your own. It’s not always easy but it is always worth it!

 

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WATER

Fatigue. How many different ways can there be to express the run over feeling that is prevalent this time of year? Tired. Exhaustipated. Can barely put one foot in front of the other. Going to collapse. Every. Single. Morning. And . . . . the afternoon too, regardless of how much coffee/caffeine is consumed. Those that have large responsibilities i.e. families/kids outside of school probably should invest in stock of Keurig. There is never enough time in the day to get everything finished, so days bleed into nights. Professional lives bleed into personal lives. Stress levels go up. And the quality of your health goes down.

What if you were told you could have improvement in how you felt each day and it was free? Would you take advantage of it? Who wouldn’t? Well, you can and you should. It’s called WATER. Simple solution. Not complicated and it is even convenient. The number one cause of fatigue is dehydration. Studies have shown that one out of every five trips to the doctor’s office can be eliminated simply by being hydrated. As a rule of thumb, each person needs one ounce of water per two pounds of body weight. An additional cup of water for every cup of caffeine consumed as well since caffeine is a diuretic. Some of us could be in trouble or spend lots of time in the bathroom! Believe it or not, we lose anywhere from two to three liters of fluid a day. More depending upon weather and activity level. Even more dehydrating than caffeine . . . yep, alcohol. Bad time of year to hear that fact. And ice in your vodka or rum does not count toward hydrating!!!

The human body is made up of over two thirds water. Slowly take that away and our systems are highly affected. We can survive maybe two weeks without food but only a few days without water. Calories are a measure of energy and luckily 25% of our water intake comes from the foods we eat (mostly fruits and veggies but even a bagel is 33% water). Just think of how much better we would feel if we really tried to watch our diets and fluids. Age, gender, weight, environment and health also play a role in the amount of water we need on a daily basis.

Besides fatigue, there are other signs and symptoms that can clue you in to your hydration level. The color of your urine for example. If your urine is approaching the color of apple juice, you are in trouble. Unless you know you have an electrolyte imbalance (which is NO JOKE!), water is the best thing for rehydration. Sports drinks and juices have many calories, sugars, sodium and chemicals. Water has so many positive functions in the body, including removing waste, moving nutrients, cushioning joints regulating body temperature, keeping your skin moist (I know, a gross word) and your cells, tissues and organs alive and functioning. It is imperative to stay hydrated. Another simple test is pinching the skin on the top of your forearm. If it doesn’t snap back quickly, you are dehydrated.

Warning signs of lack of water are thirst, weakness, dizziness, flushed skin, faster breathing and heart rate and having trouble with any cardio exercise. Don’t wait for the warning signs. Stay hydrated. No excuses. Start your New Year’s Resolution now in September and October. That way you can enjoy the holidays feeling better and even have an extra drink or two!! You are worth it. Hydrate. Eat, drink (water) and be merry!

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You Matter

What do you do for you? Better yet, do you do anything for you? We all need outlets, down time and social time. Driving to and from school doesn’t count. Neither does going to the bathroom since the dog or kids barge into the room. The beginning of school is generally the worst time to try to accomplish all we need to do plus take time for ourselves. However it is probably the most important time. How can we expect to be good for others when we don’t function at nearly 100%. We give and give to everyone else until there isn’t anything left in the tank.

Health, wellness and fitness is the first day lesson in Fitness Mastery. All are interrelated and the backbone of the course. Health is defined as the state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being. Wellness is the state that allows a person to reach his or her highest potential. Fitness is defined as the ability of the body to work together efficiently. The bottom line is they all suffer due to the vicious cycle of no time, too tired. If you don’t take time/make time to get in decent shape, you can’t be optimally healthy and therefore wellness can’t be achieved because you aren’t able to work at your highest potential.

If you care for your family, friends, coworkers and students, you have to care for you. Take a minute to honestly assess what you do for you. How can you be better to you? How can you be less stressed, eat better, exercise more and relax more? If you don’t take time to be well, you will have to find time to be ill.

Health is a relationship between you and your body. Individuals need to take charge of their own wellness. Be proactive. Don’t wait for the engine to blow . . . get an oil change or tune up every so often. Not to get all “science-y” but increased levels of endorphins and serotonin in the body are known for boosting emotions. Both of these chemicals are affected by physical activity and nutrition. By being in a positive state, it has a significant impact on motivation, productivity and wellness. Get those chemical levels up!!

No one said taking care of yourself is easy. Most teachers don’t think of themselves at all. As the saying goes “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that step and more. Be good to yourself. You matter.

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