10 Health Tips on Surviving the Holidays

Author -- Dayna Hicken, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

It’s that wonderful time of year again, filled with family, friends, and lots and lots of food! Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track this year.

1. Do not be afraid to enjoy the bounty of wonderful foods at these social gatherings. Just be smart with it, by starting off with filling your plate with simple foods such as fruits, vegetables, green salads, grilled meat, roast turkey or chicken, or any seafood. If you choose to eat any high-calorie, high-fat sauces, gravies, or desserts, do so sparingly in small "tastes."

2. One plate of healthy food should usually fill you up. Before getting up for a second helping, try waiting about 10 minutes. Listen to your stomach, because usually the desire for more food is not about hunger, but about how good it tastes. This is why eating slower can be very beneficial for helping with portion control.

3. Keep up your regular physical activity and make sure to get in a good workout on the day of any party or event. NO excuses! Be super-diligent on non-party days by sticking closely to your eating and workout plan.

4. Many times eating a small, nutritious snack before leaving for the party can help to take the edge off of your appetite. More importantly it can help you have enough willpower to resist hours of being surrounded by tasty high calorie foods.

5. Ladies and gents, wear a comfortable but somewhat tight outfit that will not allow you to overindulge. It’s crazy how much less food people tend to eat when they are wearing a tight shirt because the are more aware of themselves.

6. Watch your alcohol calories -- they add up fast. Alternate alcoholic beverages with non-calorie beverages such as sparkling water. For best results just stick to a good old fashioned cup of ice water.

7. Be careful not to linger around the food table! Try moving to another location that is less tempting. Always sit down while you eat, it helps you feel more relaxed and eat slower.

8. Try to start a healthy tradition on the mornings surrounding each holiday. For example wake the whole clan up early for a bike ride or walk in the woods before you sit down to that scrumptious meal and day of football games. Family gatherings usually involve too much food and too much sitting around. Get everyone outside and moving any way you can.

9. Sugar has no place on vegetables. There will be enough sugar in your favorite dessert. Glazing is for doughnuts. This year, find ways to make side dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Avoid adding any unnecessary sugar and sodium.

10. Keep in mind that social gatherings during the holidays are a time to embrace and give thanks for our family and friends. Spend less time focused on food and more time enjoying the friendship of your loved ones.


4 Big Reasons Why Physical Therapy Is Beneficial

Author -- Dayna Hicken, NASM Certified Personal Trainer


Reduce or eliminate pain —

Therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques can help reduce pain and restore muscle and joints functions. Physical therapy(PT) can also help to prevent pain from coming back in the future.

Recovery from surgery —

When the body undergoes surgery it loses mobility. Physical therapy focuses on bringing back that mobility by prioritizing the strengthening of the small fibers and base strengths of the body. Stretching and strengthening exercises help restore the ability to move. Physical therapy creates individualized plans pre/post surgery that will significantly help with the healing process.

Improve balance and prevent falls —

Having good balance is key to performing everyday life with ease. Therapists also help you with exercises to improve coordination and assistive devices to help with safer walking and overall balance. Therapists often provide exercises that safely and carefully challenge your balance as a way to mimic real-life situations. This makes the exercises more functional and useful to the patients.

Manage diabetes and heart/lung diseases —

Much like any kind of exercise, physical therapy can help people manage diabetes by assisting with blood sugar control. Physical therapy can improve quality of life through conditioning and breathing exercises and can even help patients clear fluid in the lungs. PT also help patients reach healthier fitness levels by forming healthy habits.

10 Weight Loss Tips

Author -- Dayna Hicken, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Here are a few weight loss tips regarding eating habits that just might help you find your edge on your weight loss journey! The saying is true, “Abs are made in the kitchen”.

1) Have meals scheduled

Eating meals at regular times helps to keep your metabolism high while also helping to keep your caloric intake lower. 3-6 small meals a day, 3-4 hours apart, is recommended for best results. Research says that eating larger portions of low-calorie, high nutrient foods, helps people to feel full longer. Also be sure to get plenty of veggies, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats. Try eating a salad once a day.

2) Eat slower

Make sure you taste your food! By eating slower you will notice “full” signals sooner. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to tell your brain that its full. Eating slower can help with this and prevent overeating and bloating.

3) Shop with limits

Make a shopping list and stick to it. Only bring home foods that will help with your diet and meal plans. Avoid sweet and salty snacks, they only bring empty calories and unneeded sugar. If you avoid buying junk food you won't have to deal with the temptation everyday. Remember, don't go grocery shopping when you are hungry.

4) Learn to cook

Learning to cook is important when trying to eat healthy. It’s so hard nowadays to find food that isn't processed and full of unwanted ingredients. Cooking your own food is healthier and can also be fun. Try cooking with your friends or that special someone and see what delicious, nutritious meal you can make together.

5) Don’t clean your plate

As children we are usually taught to eat everything off our plate. But don't feel like you have to eat everything in front of you. Especially once you start eating smaller meals and eating slower you will naturally feel full sooner. Don’t feel guilty about wasting food, just save the rest for tomorrow.

6) Plan ahead

Don’t let “being too busy” be your excuse for not eating healthy. Meal prep is key. Cook when you have time and plan ahead for your week. If you know you always get really hungry around 4, try eating a healthy snack around 3:30.

7) Don’t read or watch tv while eating

Most of us are guilty of this one. Try to avoid turning on the television or reading while you eat any meal. These can be huge distractions from focusing on your food and stomach signals. Many people tend to overeat while distracted.

8) Don’t eat out of the pot or dish

This is a big one when it comes to portion sizing. Don’t eat straight out of the pan the food was cooked in. This can cause overeating. Make sure to watch portion sizes and high calorie foods. Smaller plates mean smaller portions.

9) Have a plan when dining out

This can be a tough one, especially in a social setting. But I suggest only eating half your meal and placing the other half in a to-go container beforehand. Try ordering sauces on the side or ordering veggies instead of greasy french fries. Also be sure to order water instead of soda or other sugary drinks.

10) Burn more calories than you consume

The most important part of losing weight is creating a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume. This is the best and most successful method to lose weight, regardless of specific approach taken. Now this does not mean cutting your intake to 500 calories a day, this will kill your metabolism and as soon as you start eating normally again the weight will come right back. This can also lead to malnutrition which can be very harmful to your health.

Don’t completely cut out the foods you love or else it will be very difficult to stick to your diet. There is nothing wrong with having a piece of cake on your child's birthday, just not everyday. Having a balanced diet and getting enough exercise (at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week), will help you create and live a healthy lifestyle.

What Does Water Do For You?

Author -- Dayna Hicken -- Content creator for Elite Healthcare

We have all been told that we need to drink more water. Water is one of the sources of life for all living things, so it’s no surprise that humans need it everyday. But why is water so important?

Water is key in almost every chemical reaction that takes place in your body; digestion, nutrient transportation, joint lubrication, and it helps maintain body temperature, just to name a few. Water is important in keeping you looking and feeling healthy. Since the body is composed of between 55 and 78 percent water, adequate and regular water consumption has several health benefits. Plus, water has no calories, fat, carbohydrates or sugar.

The recommended amount of water to drink each day is 8-12 cups to maintain good health, and even more is recommended if you workout on a regular basis. Many times when people start to drink more water they find themselves losing weight. The main reason is because hunger and thirst signals can feel very similar in your body, so when you feel hungry you may just actually be dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water when you feel those hunger signals kick in. This helps you snack less and drink more water at the same time.

Being dehydrated makes the body less efficient and long term dehydration can effect the metabolism and other bodily functions.

A few signs of dehydration may include: Dry mouth, headaches, sleepiness and tiredness, constipation, thirst, sunken eyes, yellow pee, dry skin

Watch out for these symptoms. Many times that pounding headache you have is because you are dehydrated. Several studies have shown that even mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1-3%) can impair energy levels and mood while leading to major reductions in memory and brain performance. Not only is water key in keeping you hydrated, but it can help with weight loss and overall health.

Some other benefits of drinking water include mood improvement, aid in digestion, help in decreasing fatigue, help in fighting some cancers, and increase in alertness and energy.

So when trying to cut calories or find more energy, a good place to start is to check what you are drinking. By replacing coffee, sports drinks, and alcohol with water, the calories and carbs are decreased. In fact, sports drinks are only recommended for those who workout for longer then two hours.

Try replacing sugary drinks with water whenever you can and your body will thank you.



National Academy of Sports Medicine Textbook