Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Add Self-Care to your Fitness for Optimal Rest


Add Self-Care to your Fitness for Optimal Rest and Total Balance

In the quest for fitness, weight loss and muscle building often take center stage, while diet, rest, relaxation, and emotional care are given little attention. These all comprise our total body health, and they work in symbiosis. Rest is crucial to exercise, because muscle grows during rest, not while we work out. For healthy weight loss, diet requires more than blind calorie restriction. Through self-care, a holistic view of your body comes into focus and fitness goals become easier to reach and sustain. Here’s how to include self-care in your healthy life.

Self-care’s role in fitness

Self-care encompasses any action we take to give ourselves comfort. To some, this may seem antithetical to working out. Grueling exercise equals greater returns, while a nap burns few calories. But rest and relaxation allows us to recharge our batteries, repair damaged muscle tissue, and mentally remain in a fitness routine longer. With self-care, people are more able to see sustained positive results from exercise. There are many self-care routines that bolster fitness, including:
-       Warming up and cooling down. Walking prior to a run, for example, prepares your body for cardio. And, unless you like having your internal furnace blasting after your post-workout shower, a cool-down session helps your body acclimate to rest.
-       Breathing exercises. For some, being aware of breathing can reduce stress and help bring them into the present moment in a manner similar to meditation. Taking measured breaths is a good way to start and conclude every exercise session.
-       Organization. A well-planned exercise schedule helps people stay on track, but organizational skills in general lead to reduced stress. Use a fitness routine as a springboard for an overall healthier life. Declutter, make lists, stay on top of medical appointments, set goals beyond fitness and monitor your progress.
-       Eating right. Healthy balance requires an appreciation for the food you eat. Healthy eating, of course, contributes to weight loss, but reducing processed foods, alcohol and added sugars can keep you well, too. A good diet supports healthy sleep, improves the body’s ability to regenerate cells, and can make you feel better emotionally.

Create a relaxation regimen

To ensure that you get sufficient rest, make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Although most of us ideally already have a rest regimen at bedtime, sleep is often a luxury in our busy modern lives. We sleep when we can and often undercut the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. Rest, however, is broader than nightly sleep. Our minds need a break from daily distraction, and for an increasing number of people, sleep starts and ends by staring at a phone screen, which can actually be counterproductive to quality sleep. Attain quality sleep by winding down each night. Treat yourself to an at-home spa session with a homemade mask and DIY hot stone massage, set aside an hour to read your favorite book, or kick back with a mug of decaffeinated tea on your front porch and watch the stars to help yourself settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Your bedroom also contributes to sleep quality. You can create an ideal environment for healthy rest by using a white-noise machine, choosing a comfortable and sleep-style appropriate pillow, and ensuring that your room is as dark as possible. Melatonin - a natural hormone your body produces to help you sleep - doesn’t like bright lights, so when you try to sleep in a less-than-dark room, you are fighting with your natural system for sleep. Light comes from more than just reading lamps and nightlights, though, and can creep into a room from the outside. Try blackout shades to create a sleep sanctuary.

Self-care with a focus on rest amplifies fitness. When our bodies are given opportunities to recharge, our focus is sharpened and our efforts become more impactful. Keep rest in mind when planning your fitness routine so you can build a sustainably healthy life.

Sheila Olson
www.fitsheila.com


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Stuck Inside? Entertain Kids With These Fun & Educational Activities

Stuck Inside?
Entertain Kids With These Fun & Educational Activities

When it’s raining out and playing outdoors simply is not an option, it tends to get kids down. Being stuck indoors all the time is actually bad for their health, and without something to do, kids tend to turn toward watching television or playing video games. Rather than let them rot their brains in front of the TV, why not plan some fun and educational activities that will involve your children and help break the bad-weather blues? Below we’ve highlighted some of our favorite ideas for you to try.

Create an Obstacle Course

Making sure your kids get enough exercise is crucial. Not only does it pump feel-good endorphins through their bodies which makes them feel happier, it’s also essential for their physical and mental development. A fun and safe obstacle course doesn’t just get your kids moving, it also allows them to flex their creativity while building math and science skills.

Use pillows, cushions, furniture, blankets, and boxes to set up boundaries for your obstacle course. Have them crawl under chairs, walk across a balance beam, and jump over hurdles. You can also add movements and activities to the course such as jumping jacks, hula hoops, a bean bag toss, and more! The only limit is your imagination.

Learn an Instrument

Learning how to play an instrument gives your children many advantages in life. It improves their skills at school—especially in math. Playing an instrument helps them develop their fine-motor skills and their ability to follow instructions. They grow to be disciplined and into patient young adults with high self-esteem. Music also helps cultivate social skills and teaches children about the world and other cultures. Whether it be the drums, a clarinet, or the guitar, whichever instrument your children play should align with their interests.

Make a Mess

If your children are really feeling the humdrums, it may help to break out of the ordinary and do something wacky. There are tons of fun and creative activities that make a little mess while being educational, though your children won’t suspect a thing. Finger painting is a great way to let them express their creativity. Or if you want to add some spice to plain T-shirts and sheets, why not give tie-dying a go? Doing something that feels like it’s against the rules is a great way to keep them interested.

Another fun project is the Elephant’s Toothpaste science experiment. Using dry active yeast, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and some common household objects, your family can witness the magic of chemistry in a fun and exciting way. An exothermic reaction turns the ingredients into a squiggly, squirmy foam that shoots up through a container. You can use glitter or food coloring to make it more visible and fun. And while you’re learning about science, why not learn about math as well? Check out these lesson plans on ways children can apply real-world math concepts.

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When the weather is rainy and the kids are stuck inside, don’t let them sit in front of the television watching cartoons or playing video games. Help them stay smart and healthy with fun and educational activities that stimulate the body and mind. Make your own indoor obstacle course with your kids to bring out their inner engineer while also providing a fun and safe way to exercise. Learning an instrument early on improves academic skills, discipline, and social awareness. Finally, if you really want to shake things up, don’t be afraid to make a mess. Finger painting, tie-dying, and silly science experiments are all great ways to spend a rainy day.

By: Jenny Wise

Monday, May 7, 2018

Don't Go Down With the Ship - Saving Yourself From Sunk Cost Fallacy

Don't Go Down With the Ship - Saving Yourself From Sunk Cost Fallacy
Image via Pixabay


Sunk Cost Fallacy is “the idea that a company or organization is more likely to continue with a project if they have already invested a lot of money,time, or effort in it, even when continuing is not the best thing to do.” In other words, it’s what dad used to call “throwing good money after bad.” This fallacy causes us to act irrationally because we fear loss. That illogical behavior extends to bad habits and relationships.


David McRaney, who blogs about self-delusion, describes the Sunk Cost Fallacy as the idea that the more you invest in something, the harder it becomes to leave it behind. He cites psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, which explains the evolutionary process behind the fallacy. As the brain developed, “organisms that placed more urgency on avoiding threats than they did on maximizing opportunities were more likely to pass on their genes.” As a result, when we have a choice, we tend to focus on loss, even when potential gain outstrips those losses. We are genetically programmed to risk-aversion, even when taking a risk is better for us. For example, in Kahneman’s experiments, subjects only chose to take a risk only when the potential win was double their expected loss.


If we are genetically programmed to avoid loss, it makes sense that leaving a bad relationship is difficult. In another study, researchers asked a four groups to determine if a couple should stay in an unhappy marriage. Each of the first three groups emphasized an investment at stake: time, effort, or money. In a fourth control group, researchers didn’t emphasize an investment. Thirty five percent of respondents in the first three groups said the couple should stay together. For the control group, for whom less was at stake, only twenty five percent said they should stay together.


Consider the story of Meghan McArdle, who spent three years in a relationship she thought was heading to “forever”. When she asked her beau about marriage, he dumped her. As she mourned the loss, the economist realized she’d fallen victim to the Sunk Cost Fallacy. She’d seen clues he was reticent to commit, but refused to act on them because she’d invested considerable time and effort in their relationship.


To add further complication, scientists have found that as a couple increases commitment to each other, the individual sense of self blurs. Two people start to identify as a group - so a break up can weaken the sense of self.  Researchers asked couples who had recently been through a breakup to keep a diary. They found subjects were “more likely to use words like "confuse" and "bewilder" in daily diary entries than those who hadn't...Notably, the less clear the students felt about their own self-concept, the more distressed they were after a breakup.”


So, how can you break free from a relationship that looks like a sinking ship? How do you overcome the impulse to stick with it to the end when the relationship is not in your best interest? First, practice self care. Spend time reflecting on what you want. What are your goals and interests? What values and commitments are important to you? Ask yourself, where would I like to see myself in 10 years? Think about your identity alone; not your partner, or your identity as a couple.


Next, Psychology Today recommends spending some time in meditation. Each day, they say, take 15 minutes to breath, step back from the issue, and remove judgement. They suggest a handful of questions you can ask, depending on your own “sunk cost,” like; “If you were deciding again to make that purchase or get into that relationship, would you make the same decision?” and “Are you trying to prove that you are right, even if it keeps you committed to the wrong decision?” The author suggests that by stepping away from yourself with meditation, you are more likely to answer the questions logically, and can overrule your genetic disposition to avoid loss.


It takes a lot of effort to build a habit or manage a relationship. That doesn’t mean we should continue with it, if the end cost is too great. Taking the time to look at our choices with a critical eye will help reduce the effect of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. We may find we are overdue for positive change.

By: Julie Morris
Life and Career Coach
juliemorris.org

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Our Friend Roy Fixes Our Antique Clock From The Afterlife

Tribute to Roy Fawcett 1928-2018

Roy Fawcett passed away on March 31st.  He was what many would like to claim to be, a legend in his own time. Roy was renowned world wide for his organs and pianos. He was a force in life and, apparently, after life as well.  His wife Shirley said she hoped to have a sign from him from the other side.  This definitely was it.

My husband, Pierre, and I are new to Winchester and Roy and Shirley were the only people we knew.  Need I say we met Roy through his organ selling business.  His impression on us was stellar. When we moved to our new dwelling in town, we invited Roy and Shirley over for lunch. It was then we learned that Roy had also been in the clock and watch business and knew a few things about tick and tock.  What a coininkydink that I had an antique clock on the mantle that hadn’t worked in 20 years.  With my temptation to ask and his enthusiasm to look, he did indeed examine the clock and tried to fix it.  Even then Roy’s eyesight was failing him. I admired his determination.

Unfortunately, the clock did not work after Roy’s efforts.  This was all the more reason I was astounded that day I walked through the dining room and heard the pretty chimes that had been quieted for so long. The clock was working! After a moment of being mesmerized, I got a chill and the thought of Roy flashed through my mind. I said to Pierre that he better call Roy and see how he is.  It was then we learned he had just passed two days before.


The clock still ticks and chimes.  There won’t be a day that goes by that I won’t think of Roy Fawcett..



Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Power of Gardening: The Perfect Hobby For Getting Healthy

The Power Of Gardening: The Perfect Hobby For Getting Healthy

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By: Julie Morris
While we all want to be healthy, sometimes getting healthy is easier said than done. Eating healthy all the time can seem limiting, and preparing healthy meals can be time-consuming and tiring, especially after a long day at work. Exercising at the gym can be intimidating and trying to work out at home can get stale quickly. And if you have a chronic illness or chronic pain, there are simply some exercises and activities that are too strenuous or tiring. 

I know from experience. My fibromyalgia and the accompanying depression made tending to my physical health a chore. My grandmother suffered through similar aches and pains, but I remembered one thing that always brought her such joy and happiness was her garden. Her garden was filled with vegetables of every color, and I spent many afternoons canning in her sunny yellow kitchen. Gardening is a fun way to improve your health that you may be overlooking. Here are a few tips on how gardening can help you improve your physical and mental health: 

Community gardening is a great way to stay active and socialize 

Urban gardening has become quite popular in many areas of the country. Some families do this by growing plants in containers on their balconies or patios while others embrace community gardens. In this format, a large area of land is gardened collectively by a group of people. According to Newsmax, some research has shown that gardeners who utilize community gardens tend to be less overweight than non-gardeners.

Community gardens provide a host of benefits to those who join in to tend the space. There is a socialization aspect that can be valuable for all gardeners, and the sense of camaraderie and success that builds during gardening can be a valuable way to boost one's confidence and self-esteem. 

In fact, while I certainly get my passion for gardening from my grandmother, it wasn’t until I started working in a local community garden that I really learned the ins and outs of gardening, and gained the confidence to start my very own backyard garden. I’ve found that gardeners are always very willing to share their advice and expertise, such as using vertical gardening or raised beds to avoid wear and tear on my joints, and investing in ergonomic gardening tools. These adjustments enable me to use my garden as a place of solace and escape, as well as grow my own produce to fuel my cooking obsession.

Stress can be significantly reduced by gardening

High stress levels, which are often accompanied by poor sleep quality, can be detrimental to our physical and mental health. One great way that I’ve found to to reduce stress levels is to garden. There is just something about being outside in the fresh air and digging in the dirt that puts a smile on my face and brightens my mood. As the Conversation notes, gardening is linked to reduced feelings of fatigue and depression and greater life satisfaction. It turns out that we don't have to spend a lot of time gardening to see some improvements in our mental health. Benefits come from even moderate chunks of time spent gardening each week.

Hit the garden for a full body workout

Gardening also provides great physical exercise, making it a great fit for those who may shy away from other activities. Gardening provides a complete body workout, providing cardio along with valuable weightlifting and stretching opportunities. As you weed, dig, plant, water, and prune, you are building heart strength, endurance, and flexibility along with burning calories. The best part is that it is low impact, and easy on bones and joints, making it a great way for those with chronic pain to remain active.

Gardening is a great catalyst for healthy eating

Once you’ve nursed a cucumber or tomato plant to life, you’ll look forward to eating the fruits of your labor. Vegetable gardening can be an effective catalyst for making healthy dietary changes. Eating produce that you have grown yourself feels great and can be motivating and gardening can spark a desire to try new foods and spend more time getting creative in the kitchen.

Get a big brain boost from being in the garden

People often find that their attention to detail and ability to concentrate improves while gardening. The National explains that natural environments like gardens can have restorative qualities that improve one's problem-solving abilities and memory. The stronger and healthier you feel mentally, the better you'll be able to commit to healthy lifestyle changes. Your garden doesn’t have to be the only natural environment you escape to to relax. I often visit a local park to read and do a little bit of yoga. The surrounding area is full of shady trees and beautiful landscaping, making it a green space paradise.


There are few activities that provide as many health benefits as gardening. Tending a garden provides great physical exercise and can improve one's mental health, both of which are key to building a healthy life. Take it from me, a garden can change your life.




Friday, February 2, 2018

Getting Ready For a New Baby, When You Have Disability

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4 Ways to Get Ready for a New Baby (And Prioritize Self-Care) When You Have a Disability

Getting ready to bring a child into the world is amazing and beautiful. It also means a laundry list of things that have to be done to get ready. For expectant parents who have a disability, that list of to-dos includes figuring out how to make baby gear work for your home and your unique needs. 

#1 Get Your Home Ready

If you have a disability, you most likely already have a routine at home that fits your needs. Now you have to take into consideration a baby’s needs and the best way of meeting those needs that works for you. Start with a good guide, like this checklist from RealSimple.com, and use it as a tool to think about how you plan on parenting and how any gear or adaptations will meet your needs. For example, many parents choose to use a bassinet in the beginning to keep their baby close at night, and one popular option is a bassinet co-sleeper that attaches to your bed. This might be a great option to keep your baby within arm’s reach so you don’t have to worry about mobility in the wee hours of the morning. 

#2 Get YOU Ready

All your attention may be focused on the your little one’s arrival, but moms and dads both need to think about their own needs too. For moms who plan on breastfeeding, stock up on nursing bras and nursing pads. Just as you want to have everything ready for your baby, planning ahead for your needs means you don’t have to worry about extra trips to the store after your child’s arrival. Another way you can plan ahead for your own needs is to make some meals you can freeze that will be ready to pop in the oven when you need them.

Even with the best preparation, adjusting to parenthood can be stressful. That’s entirely normal, but when stress rises, take a look at what you’re doing for yourself and see how you can make self-care a priority. Whatever you like to do to relieve stress now, whether it’s exercising, taking a relaxing bath, or chatting with friends, plan on scheduling time for that after your baby is born. Self-care is about more than basic needs and time for yourself, though. Create a habit of checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling throughout the day. Start doing that now so you’re in the habit of making yourself and your own needs a priority when your baby comes.

#3 Arrange Care

If you have close friends and family who can help, talk with them now about how they can help because that social support is especially crucial in the early days. Many new parents like to set up websites that let loved ones coordinate bringing you a meal. Whatever your abilities or limitations may be, parenting a newborn is a round-the-clock job, and having help makes a huge difference in how you feel. If you’re planning on hiring a babysitter or nanny, asking friends for referrals is the best way to find someone who is the right fit for your family.

#4 Reach Out

Along the same lines as reaching out to friends and family for help, start connecting with other parents and researching resources that will help on your parenting journey. The U.S. Department for Child Welfare has an excellent list of resources for parents who have a disability. You can start using these now to reach out to other parents who are in your situation. Parents who have been through it already can give tips and be a valuable support system.

Reaching out for support and prioritizing self-care are two of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. The adjustment to parenthood can be exhausting and stressful, but it’s also a time to bond with your baby and enjoy the sweet moments of his or her first days and weeks. When you prepare as much as you can ahead of time, it’s easier to be in the moment when the time comes. 

By: Ashley Taylor

Photo credit: Unsplash