Tag Archives: health

5 Easy Ways to Spring Clean Your Health

Winter hibernation is over. Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start. Here are five easy ways you can spring clean your health this year.

  1. Clean Out Cupboards: Purge the pantry and fridge of unhealthy temptations and stock up on healthier whole grains, fresh produce, and good-for-you snacks.
  2. Lighten Up: Say goodbye to winter comfort foods. Lighten up your diet and enjoy in-season produce like asparagus, peas and strawberries.
  3. Get Outside: Enjoy the warmer weather and longer days. Take a lunchtime walk, enjoy a weekend hike or play a sport with your kids! Vitamin D improves mood and supports a healthy immune system.
  4. Watch Your Sugar: Winter = holiday candy overload. Cut back on sweets, drinks and other foods high in added sugar. Fuel your body in a healthier way.
  5. Take Inventory: Be real with yourself. Look at what is and isn’t working with your healthy eating and active living goals. Switch it up and set new goals.

For more information or to join the Weigh and Win program, visit www.WeighandWin.com or call
800-694-0352

Cycling to Good Health

Recently Weigh and Win participant Juana Martinez not only lost her brother, her health was also suffering. After months of not feeling well, she made an appointment with her doctor.

“I have a family history of diabetes and have seen first-hand the trouble my family members have experienced as a result of their diabetes. So when my doctor told me I was borderline diabetic, it was the wakeup call I needed,” said Juana.

Juana immediately changed her eating habits and made physical activity a priority by beginning to bike to work every day.

“I love the way I feel riding to and from work. It clears my mind and I get my exercise in for the day. Plus, I’m saving money on parking and a bus pass.”

Cycling has also helped Juana strengthen the muscles in her legs, reducing the pain in her hips and knees.

“I’m able to do challenging hikes now. I even climbed my first 14er.”

In addition to biking, Juana joined Weigh and Win, a free Colorado program that provides technology-based health coaching, progress tracking and cash rewards for weight improvement.

“Every day I read through my coaching email from Weigh and Win. Whether it’s learning about heart rate or portion control – it gets me engaged in my health. The photographed weigh-ins are really beneficial. As I’m toning up and getting stronger, I can go back and compare what I look like now to the old me. It motivates me because I don’t want to be the person I was before.”

Two years later, Juana is twenty three pounds lighter and feels healthier and stronger than ever before.

“I love the way I feel after a long bike ride. I’m always sharing what I’m doing with friends and family, and encouraging them to get outside and get healthier, too.”

Healthy Holidays Tip 3: Incorporating Activity Into Your Day

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With work, house guests, holiday get-togethers and all the work that comes along with hosting or traveling, it can be difficult to stick with your regular exercise routine. Staying active over the holidays is especially important because you will most likely be consuming more calories than normal. Just because you can’t make time for your regular workout in the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t work activity into your day.

Traveling? Here are a few ways to stay active. And running to the gate to catch your flight does count!

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Check out the Healthy Holiday Calendar for more tips on sticking with healthy eating habits and managing your portions at parties.

Making a Healthy Smoothie

Green smoothies are gaining popularity because of all the nutrition and hydration you can pack in a convenient glass on your way out the door in the morning. They are quick to make, clean up and you only need a blender to get started. Since nutritional deficiency has been proven to lead to chronic overeating and poor quality food choices, the green smoothie can be a game changer for those looking to effortlessly add more nutrition to their diet for weight improvement. A smoothie made with the right ingredients contains high amounts of water, fiber and protein so you feel as satisfied as you would normally after eating a meal. Below are some ingredients to consider adding to your smoothie and some ingredients to avoid.

 

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The BEST choice is to choose unsweetened options.

Water, coconut water, fat free or low fat cow’s milk, and unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk.

 

smoothie steps-02The BEST choice is to use raw, leafy green veggies.
Spinach, kale, romaine, bok choy, swiss chard, collards, dandelion, turnip greens, beet greens, carrots, avocados, cucumbers.

 

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The BEST choice is low sugar fresh or frozen fruits.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and tangerines.

 

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The BEST choice is choosing a high protein ingredient.
Protein powders, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seed, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cayenne pepper), vanilla extract, acai powder, unsweetened cocoa powder and natural nut butters.

 

Once you added your ingredients, add a few ice cubes to your blender and then start blending until you have a smooth consistency. If you want your smoothie thicker, add more ice cubes. If you are using frozen fruits, you might not need any ice cubes at all. If you are getting chunks of ingredients after you mix up your smoothie, then you might want to consider upgrading your blender.

Stay away from ingredients like sugar-sweetened fruit juice or concentrate, sweetened or flavored yogurts, ice cream/sorbet, whipped cream or any kind of sugary candy. If you are trying to improve your weight, then I would also avoid high sugar fruits such as grapes, bananas, mangos, sweet cherries, apples, pineapples, pears and kiwi fruit.

Everyone’s tastes buds and nutritional needs are unique and there are a million different combinations of ingredients when it comes to green smoothies. Take time to experiment and find what combination works best for you (and your family) and then share your favorite RAWkstar recipe on our Weigh and Win Facebook page!

Using a Heart Rate Monitor For Improved Fitness

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Do you feel like some exercises make your heart race while others make you feel as though you’re not exercising at all? Your heart is trying to speak to you and it’s important that you understand what it’s trying to say!

Heart rate is measured in beats per minute. During rest, a low beats per minute count is a signal of a healthy heart. This is because a stronger heart pumps more blood out to your body per beat than a weaker heart does, lowering the beats needed per minute. When we exercise, our heart has to work harder to get oxygen out to the demanding muscles that are being worked. The more frequently you exercise, the stronger your heart will become. Using a heart rate monitor can not only help you gauge how effective your workouts are, but can also be used to tell you if your body is working too hard, or not hard enough.

How to Find Your Target Heart Rate

To start, determine your Resting Heart Rate, which is the number of times your heart beats per minute while it is at rest. This number is best found first thing in the morning before getting out of bed after having a good night of sleep.

According to the National Institute of Health, the average resting heart rate:

  • for children 10 years and older, and adults (including seniors) is 60 – 100 beats per minute
  • for well-trained athletes is 40 – 60 beats per minute

After you know your resting heart rate, determine your Maximum Heart Rate, which is around 220 – Age for a simple calculation.

According to the American Heart Association, target heart rates for moderate activities and exercises are about 50-69% of your max heart rate. More intense activities range from 70-90% of your maximum heart rate. It is recommended that you exercise within 55 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes to get the best results from exercise.

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How to Use a Heart Rate Monitor During Exercise

Using a heart rate monitor during physical activity can help you to determine if you’re working moderately or if you’re exercising more intensely. As you continue to exercise more frequently, your heart starts to work more efficiently. Over time, you may notice you need to increase the intensity of your workouts in order to stay in your target heart rate zone. The harder you have to work to reach your target heart rate zone, the healthier and stronger your heart is! The heart rate monitor will allow you to track this progress over time and can help to eliminate some errors of taking your heart rate yourself during exercise which can be difficult.

Resources:

http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/how-to-use-a-heart-rate-monitor-to-improve-fitness

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Target-Heart-Rates_UCM_434341_Article.jsp

5 Ways to Relieve Knee Pain

If you suffer from knee pain during physical activity, you are not alone. One study from Gallup-Healthways found that 26% of the adult population in the US suffers from knee pain. Don’t let your bad knees limit you from reaching your full weight improvement potential. Instead, start implementing the strategies below to build your knees back up stronger for a leaner and pain-free future self!

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1. Engage in low-impact cardio

High impact cardio, like running and jumping, can cause a lot of unnecessary stress on the body and has potential to lead to muscle and joint injuries. For safe knees, incorporate different methods of low-impact cardio to your workouts. Some examples of low impact cardio include the stair climber or step-ups, swimming, speed walking, dance classes, elliptical machines and biking.

2. Strengthen leg muscles, especially the gluteus maximus

Knee pain or injury can occur when large muscles in the hips and legs are weak.  When the largest muscle in the body (gluteus maximus) is weak, it causes an imbalance of additional stress in the hip, knee and ankle. By strengthening your hips and leg muscles, you can safely stabilize the knee joint during activity. My favorite glute exercise is slow and controlled squats.

3. Strengthen core muscles

If your core muscles are weak, it causes an imbalance of stress in the pelvis, low back and legs. You might notice that if your posture is poor then your pelvis starts to tilt forward, which creates a low back curvature causing your legs to shift inward. Strengthening core muscles helps keep your back in a neutral spine position and places the lower extremities in the best possible position for movement without joint compression.

4. Stretch the hamstrings, hip and calf muscles

Since our hamstrings and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) are taking on additional stress from a weak gluteus maximus, unnecessary force is placed on the knee. The imbalances can be magnified for those that sit at a desk all day, which is why we recommend taking stretch and walking breaks at work. By stretching and staying active, you decrease the chance for muscle imbalances.

5. Wear supported shoes

When you can, choose to wear supported flats.  High-heeled shoes increase the compressive force on your knee joints by 23%. Wearing heels also encourages tight calf muscles, which can pull the foot and leg inward causing unnecessary stress to the ankle and knee.  It is also recommended to replace your workout shoes every 300 to 500 miles to avoid injury.

 

Participating in the Weigh and Win program and improving your lifestyle habits will benefit your knees as well. New research shows that a 10 percent decrease in weight will result in a 28 percent increase in knee function (such as climbing stairs and walking). Another study found that for every 11 pounds a woman loses, there is a remarkable 50 percent decrease in the risk of knee arthritis. The point is if you have knee pain, it doesn’t have to be permanent. If you have any questions, please email the Weigh and Win Health Coaches at [email protected].

 

Healthier Pasta Ways

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Healthier “Pasta” Ways

While pasta may be a staple meal in your home, it is important to be mindful of the ingredients included in your favorite dishes.  Here are some ways that let you enjoy comfort food while getting some extra nutrients along the way.

Add More Vegetables

Make a meat sauce with lots of fresh vegetables. Instead of using canned pasta sauce, which tends to be loaded with sugar, make a sauce using sautéed and blended vegetables. Bake, roast or grill carrots, leeks, onions, celery, peppers and tomatoes until thoroughly cooked. Use a hand blender to puree the mixture for a sauce that now has a full serving of vegetables, and no sugar!

Choose Whole Grains

When picking from different types of pasta, choose a whole grain option when possible. When compared to the traditional, bleached pastas, whole grains give you more Vitamin B and tons of added fiber.

Try Pasta Substitutions

Spaghetti Squash: Simply using a fork to scrape out the insides of the cooked squash gives it the same appearance as spaghetti. It has vitamins A and C, and magnesium and can protect against some forms of heart disease.

Zucchini Noodle: Using a peeler, zucchini can make the perfect spaghetti substitute. This option is rich in fiber and can even help lower cholesterol.

Soba Noodles: Made from buckwheat and originally from Japan, Soba noodles are high in protein and could lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Find them in the Asian foods aisle of your local grocery store.

Quinoa Pasta: Known as a super grain, quinoa tastes just like regular pasta, but has more potassium, magnesium and calcium for stronger bones and teeth.

Black Bean Spaghetti: Although the dark appearance might be something to get used to, black bean pasta has almost 20.5 grams of protein per serving.

Control Portion Sizes

Determining the correct serving size can be difficult. Keep in mind appropriate portion sizes when eating pasta. Stick to ½ cup or a fist size portion of carbohydrates and pasta.

Congratulations to the April HEALTHpoints Winners!

Congratulations to the April HEALTHpoints drawing winners!

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  • Emily – Arvada
  • Helen – Westminster
  • Johannes – Longmont
  • Terri – Denver
  • Mindi – Strasburg
  • Noelle – Boulder
  • Marti – Fort Collins
  • Karyn – Longmonst
  • Karah – Greeley
  • Neona – Aurora
  • Stephanie – Highlands Ranch
  • Mark – Larkspur

Earn 300 points and you could win this prize in May:

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Meet Your Health Coach – Mallory

Did you know you have unlimited access to a health coach by phone or email? Each health coach has a wide variety of experience in health and wellness. Weigh and Win has three health coaches available to you Monday-Friday from 8 am – 5 pm at [email protected] or at 303-694-8007.

We’d like you to meet Health Coach – Mallory!

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Years with Weigh and Win:
Three

Education:
I graduated from Oklahoma State University (Go Pokes!) in 2010 with Bachelors in Health Education and Promotion with a concentration in Exercise Science.

Certifications:
ACE Certified Personal Trainer, AFPA Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

Hobbies:
Cooking, lifting, tennis, snowboarding, hiking, yoga, sleeping, cornhole and live music.

Health Advice:
Above all, focus on sleep for health improvement and reduced stress.  You won’t get the full benefits of the physical and dietary lifestyle changes you are making until you get your baseline seven hours of sleep per night. Sleep is vital to health, wellness, cell growth, memory formation, mental agility, physical performance – you name it and sleep can improve it. Studies show you get the best quality of sleep between the hours of 10PM and 2AM. I challenge you to try to get to bed a little bit earlier and, if possible, try to wake up naturally without setting an alarm clock. You will be flabbergasted how much better you feel and the results you experience!

Meet Your Health Coach: Rachel

Did you know you have unlimited access to a health coach by phone or email? Each health coach has a wide variety of experience in health and wellness. Weigh and Win has three health coaches available to you Monday-Friday from 8 am – 5 pm at [email protected] or at 303-694-8007.

We’d like you to meet Health Coach – Rachel!

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Years with Weigh and Win:
One

Years as a Fitness Trainer/Health Coach:
Three

Education:
I graduated from the University of Iowa as a Division 1 gymnast with a Bachelors Degree in Health & Sports Studies, emphasizing in Health Promotion.  GO HAWKS!!

Certifications:
ACE Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist

 Hobbies:
Camping, hiking, running, yoga, cooking, listening to music, Frisbee, arts and crafts, fitness/boot camp classes

 The Best Advice I Have to Offer:
There is no excuse that is too large to overcome. Whether you’re young or old, have bad knees or too little time, a healthier lifestyle can always be achieved. Some people would consider these things as setbacks but there are always ways of achieving your goals. Even the smallest amount of progress is still progress. My best advice is to keep striving for change and always keep trying to be a better you. Setting little goals along the way will help you to stay focused and motivated on always becoming healthier. Don’t do it for the physical changes, but to become healthier, live longer and not only limit your health conditions, but lower your risk for preventable diseases.