Do you tend to feel more depressed, anxious or moody during the winter season? Many feel some degree of winter blues which typically starts in October and ends in April. Sensitivity to light deprivation causes a disruption in circadian rhythm which is our internal body clock. Sensitivity level depends on genetics, geographical location and individual brain chemistry. Some suffer from a more severe type of winter sadness called Seasonal Affective Disorder which requires treatment from a mental health professional. For less severe symptoms of the winter blues there are many tips to help you cope.
- Expose yourself to daylight. Open blinds and curtains to all windows and if possible sit near a window at work.
- Use a light therapy box. This is a special light that mimics natural outdoor light to trigger brain chemicals that improve mood. Sit a few feet from the light box within the first two hours of waking up.
- Get outside. Even if it is cold or cloudy it is important to spend some time outdoors. This is especially helpful within the first two hours of awakening.
- Manage your stress. Learn what techniques you respond to. This may include listening to music, talking to a friend, taking a relaxing bath or reading a book.
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep is the time our body has to replenish itself and make brain chemicals that make us happy. Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep daily.
- Use relaxation techniques. Yoga, tai chi and mediation are effective at relieving stress.
- Exercise daily. Exercise is a powerful tool to improve mood because it increases blood flow to the brain, releases energizing hormones and stimulates endorphins that make us feel good. All forms of physical activity are beneficial so take a walk, lift weights or take a Zumba class.
- Eat nutritious meals. Maintain a steady production of blood sugar levels and neurotransmitters by eating regular meals that consist of protein and carbohydrate.
- Spend time with your pet. Pets have a profound effect on our brain chemistry by increasing oxytocin which is another brain chemical that makes us feel happy. If you do not have a pet, a visit to a local animal shelter would be very much appreciated for a homeless animal.
It is important to manage your winter blues because it can result in fatigue, weight gain from stress induced eating or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with friends and family. However, gatherings often lead to unwanted pounds. How will you handle the challenge the holiday season brings with a hectic schedule and endless choices of high calorie foods? The good news is that there are strategies that can help to control stress and keep your weight on track.
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule. It may be tempting to skip your workout to accommodate a busy to do list but regular exercise is important to stay fit and control stress.
- Maintain a regular eating schedule. This means to avoid skipping meals. If you skip a meal and go to a holiday feast you are setting yourself up to overeat.
- Bring a healthy dish to a party so you have a low calorie option. For example, a vegetable tray is a great substitution for typical party appetizers.
- Take the edge off your hunger by having a high fiber snack before leaving for a party. Fiber helps keep you full. An apple or a pear can do just the trick.
- When you first arrive at a gathering drink two glasses of water before eating.
- Start holiday meals with a plate of vegetables. The idea is to get full on low calorie foods so you will not overeat calorie rich foods such as casseroles and desserts.
- Be careful with drinks. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories so drink calorie free beverages such as water or seltzer.
- Control your serving sizes by using a dessert plate for your meal. This encourages you to reduce portion sizes. Be careful not go back for second helpings.
- Reduce temptations by avoiding hanging around the food table.
- For high calorie foods aim to have just a taste or half of what is served.
- Slow down when you eat by putting your fork down between bites.
- Leave some food on your plate. There is no rule that says you have to “clean your plate”.
- Learn that is it ok to say no to a food from a well meaning relative. You are the one who decides what to put in your body.
- When you attend a party find a way to avoid sitting for the majority of the time. However, sit down and enjoy your meal when you are ready to eat.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule so you do not get overtired. When we are not getting enough sleep the body gives us a signal to eat more food.
A holiday survival plan includes physical activity, healthy eating and adequate rest. You have the power to take control of your behaviors even during holidays and parties. Eating foods in moderation is the key to prevent weight gain. For a more personalized approach to holiday eating seek help from a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist.
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Spot reduction is the attempt to lose body fat from a specific area of the body by doing exercises that target the area of interest. Although exercises performed for a particular body part will result in an increase in strength in that area, it is not possible to target fat loss to one specific location. Another misconception is that you can turn body fat into muscle. Muscle and fat are two different types of tissues and you can not turn one into the other. Participation in an appropriate weight management program will result in a decrease in subcutaneous body fat and an increase in muscle tissue. An acceptable range of body fat is 14-24% for men and 21-31% for women. Continue reading
The Paleo diet fad has been around since 1975 and became popular again in 1985 and 2002. This diet is also called the Paleolithic diet, the stone age diet and the caveman diet. During the Paleolithic era (a time that ended about 12,000 years ago) the only foods that were available were those that can be hunted, fished or gathered; meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits and berries. Continue reading
If you are pregnant you may be wondering how it is possible getting in shape after pregnancy is over especially if you gained more than what was recommended. This can lead to feelings of discouragement as pregnancy continues but there are things you can do to facilitate post-partum weight loss. Continue reading
Most people struggle with weight loss. Many try a variety of diet plans only to be left discouraged with their body. Why is that? Lets look at just a few of the reasons weight loss attempts lead so many to give up on their goals.
We all know that smoking can result in an increased risk of disease such as cancer and heart disease but did you know that sitting for too much time can also have a profound effect on your health? Sitting can result in not only postural changes but an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
There is an overwhelming amount of dietary mistakes & misinformation especially with regard to weight loss. Lets take a look at some popular beliefs that people follow in their attempt to lose weight.
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