Wellness

The Holiday Season is in Full Swing…How to Avoid the Overeating and Weight Gain

For many of us the holiday season is both stressful and enjoyable.  Stressful from ensuring the gifts get bought and wrapped in time, to getting those big meals cooked and on the table.  Enjoyable because it’s a festive time with pretty lights, gift giving, office celebrations, and gatherings with friends and family.

Underneath the festive nature of the holiday season lurks the overindulgence of food and disruptions to our time to exercise.  So, how can you manage your way around the food at the parties, at the holiday dinner table, and the home baked goodies in the office, so you don’t find yourself a few pounds heavier in the New Year?  Here are some tips to help you still enjoy the holidays without the guilt of weight gain.

Rather than trying to adhere to all the suggestions below, pick the 1 or 2 you can be most successful with and stick to those 80-90% of the time. 

  1. Plan ahead for the holiday parties.  There are several things that can help you navigate the food temptations at parties. 
    • Don’t arrive hungry.  This will most likely cause you to eat more and choose foods you normally wouldn’t.  Instead, eat a light protein-based snack before the party.
    • If it’s a potluck party, bring a healthy dish.  This way if the other dishes are high in fat and calories, you and the other guests have an alternative.
    • First, fill your plate with vegetables and lean meat.  Leave off the desert.  After you’ve finished your plate, wait 10-15 minutes before heading for the desert.  This will give you time to feel satiated, so when you reach for that desert you’ll be more likely to choose the one you most want.
    • If you are the host, send guests home with to-go containers of the leftovers.  If you are a guest, either take one serving of what you really want, or politely use the excuse you have too much at home and it would go to waste if you took it.

2.  Enjoy your holiday food favorites without the guilt.  At the holiday dinner table, what can you skip all together in order to enjoy one of those foods that are cooked special for the holiday?  For example, can you skip the bread, mashed potatoes, etc., that you can get any day of the year in favor of indulging in the candied sweet potatoes?

3.     Keep holiday treats and snacks out of sight.  Out of sight out of mind as they say.  To avoid mindlessly eating high calorie treats, put them in opaque containers on a higher shelf, or if they can be, freeze them in individual servings. 

4.     Stay active.  This is a busy time of the year which can easily derail any exercise routine.  Try working out first thing in the morning to avoid schedule conflicts later in the day.  If all you can spare is 10-15 minutes, you can get a quick body weight workout at home (i.e., squats, plank, push-ups, triceps dips), or take a brisk walk (or jog) in the cooler winter air.

Lastly, be realistic.  Holidays are centered around food, family and fun.  One day of splurging won’t break your fitness and nutrition efforts.  Just be careful one day doesn’t turn into many days or weeks.  Also, avoid dieting during the holidays.  It is one of the most difficult times of the year to lose any weight or weight gain with all the temptations facing you.  Focus on maintaining your weight rather than losing it with the tips provided above.

Want to Lose Weight and Perform Your Best? Avoid Telling Yourself This…

When it comes to weight loss and exercise, there is a missing ingredient in those diets and fitness routines that rarely, if ever, gets included and talked about.  And, it has a greater impact on how successful you can be reaching your weight loss and fitness goals, and being able to perform your best both professionally and personally.  That is, what you tell yourself matters.

Successfully Lose Weight and Keep it Off – Start by Eliminating These 2 Words from Your Vocabulary

Your thoughts and feelings have a great influence on how you act, or not, on something.  If you have a negative emotion towards it, say about exercising, then it’s likely you will not be rushing to do that cardio workout or pick up those weights.  This limits how often you exercise, and increases the chances you won’t lose weight or have the energy to perform your best.  Alternatively, if you have a positive emotion towards something, say eating a healthy diet, then it’s likely you will find ways to eat better more often.

But, telling yourself to be more positive likely isn’t going to solve the problem of exercising more often or eating a healthy diet.  Instead, consider the words you use.  Avoid saying these 2 words to yourself – “Should” and “Can’t,” and replace them with something different.

Why is “Should” so Bad?

Think about how it sounds, feels, or looks like when you say, “I should have exercised this week,” “I should exercise tomorrow,” “I should eat better.”  I should, I should, I should.  That word strongly implies an obligation or a sense of duty of having to do something, not out of choice.  Here’s what happens:

  • It decreases the feeling of having a personal choice, desire, and empowerment to act.
  • It’s a form of self-criticism and we feel bad about ourselves for not doing something that we know is good.
  • It decreases self-esteem, confidence, and motivation.

Contrast this with saying, “I want to exercise so I can lose weight,” “I am eating healthier (even if all you’ve done is substitute one unhealthy item for a healthier one),” “I desire to be stronger and more fit.”  Words like these are much more empowering and create a greater desire to do something that is good.

Why “Can’t” is Bad

The reason for avoiding this word is obvious.  If you tell yourself you can’t do something, well then you’ve convinced yourself you can’t.  It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  For example, have you ever said to yourself, “no matter how hard I try I can’t lose weight,” or “I’ve tried a handful of diets and I still can’t lose weight,” or “I can’t exercise, I’m too busy today.” 

The key is to be aware of the word when you use it.  With awareness comes change.  When you catch yourself saying “can’t,” ask yourself what you can do.  It could be as simple as, “I can eat a piece of fruit today,” or “I will get up from my desk and take a short brisk walk to get a bit of exercise and clear my head.” 

What you tell yourself matters.  It matters if you want to lose weight, be more fit, eat a healthier diet, or perform your best personally and professionally.  So, tell yourself nice things and this will increase your chances of achieving your goals.

Make Fitness a Lifestyle Instead of a Goal to be Reached

If being healthy and fit is important, why do so many of us fail at it?  It’s not from a lack of trying.  Truth is, each year consumers spend billions of dollars on weight loss products, diet programs, supplements, gym memberships, etc.  We spend this money to reach a goal of losing those 20, 30, 40…extra pounds we’ve been carrying around, getting 6-pack abs we see on TV, or being 60 and moving like a 30-year old.  

Are these goals bad or unachievable?  Of course not.  It’s important to know what you are shooting for.  But, it’s more than just about a goal.  It’s about creating a lifestyle, and it’s not as hard as you think.  In fact, you just might be more successful…Here’s why.  

What Happens When We Set a Goal?

Three unfortunate things tend to happen when we set a goal(s):

  1. We have unrealistic expectations.  Those 20+ pounds?  We try to lose them in a matter of weeks.  6-pack abs?  “My body can look like his/hers if I work hard enough.”  60 the new 30?  “All I need is that supplement.”
  2. We go to extremes, we try to do too much too fast.  We jump all in on the latest fad diet or workout trend only to exhaust ourselves, burn out, quit, and feel like a failure.
  3. We look at that goal(s) as the end all.  Once we reach it we think we are done.

Of course, as mentioned above, having a goal is important.  If you don’t know what you want to achieve, then shooting for something intangible is a sure miss.  We have to have goals.  But, if we focus more on making health and fitness a lifestyle, then our chances of not only reaching the goal, but maintaining what we achieved, are even greater.  

A Fit and Healthy Lifestyle…Yours for the Taking

Let’s look at 5 simple ways to make fitness a lifestyle.  Don’t try to do all 5 at once.  Just take one at a time until it is a part of who you are, then move on to what you think you can do next.

  1. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love, as it rarely lasts before you eat them again.  Instead, make them healthier.  Love pizza?  Make your own dough (it’s actually quick and easy) and load it up with more fresh vegetables than meat.
  2. Find exercise you like to do.  If you don’t like it, you won’t stick to it.  If you hate to run but love walking, make it really brisk walking to get your heart rate up.  Even consistent low intensity exercise is better than inconsistent high intensity, or worse, none at all.
  3. When you get off track, take 1 small step to get back on.  If you ate junk food today, make yourself a promise to eat 1 healthy meal tomorrow.
  4. While never easy, stop comparing yourself with someone else and how they look.  Your body is your body and it can be fit and healthy.  Our muscles aren’t built all the same and they won’t always take on the same look.  They don’t have to for you to be just as strong and healthy.
  5. Switch things up every once in a while.  Try new foods, mix up your exercise and physical activity/hobbies during the week.  You’d be surprised how this turns out to be a fun and motivating way to live a healthy, fit lifestyle.

Think about fitness as a lifestyle instead of a fixed goal to be won and done.  In the long run, it really is the key to long term success.

The One Thing Holding You Back From… (Excuses)

You want to lose weight.  You want to look and feel great all the time.  You want a profitable business/career.  You want to ditch the dieting forever.  Once you lose that weight you want to keep it off.  You want less stress and more energy.  

These are great things we all want.  Why is it so difficult then to lose that weight, or get off that dieting roller coaster, and achieve everything we want.  The answer most often lies in the excuses we tell ourselves.  

There are good reasons for not doing something we want or intend to do.  It might be an emergency or something of more importance that comes up and we have to postpone that thing we wanted/meant to do.  Any reason we give ourselves is real and valid at the time. 

What happens when we keep using these “reasons” day after day, month after month?  Sadly, these once valid reasons become the “good” excuses we have for putting off what we wanted, intended, or knew we should do.  The excuses we made were good, but they didn’t get us anywhere.

It’s safe to say all of us have used these 3 excuses at one time or another.

Excuse #1: “I Have No Time/I’m Too Busy.”

Time to get real on this excuse.  We all have 24 hours in a day…not more, not less.  People that perform at high levels of achievement don’t have any more time than the rest of us, and in fact it’s likely they are even busier.  Consider Richard Branson, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey…the list goes on.  What they do is make time for what is important to them, and yes their fitness and health are critical factors to their high performance.

Here are a few options for busting through the exercise time excuse:

  • Been off the exercise wagon a while?  Take 5-10 minutes each day (no more until this becomes so easy and a habit) and do something physical.  Walk, jog, do a few push-ups, crunches, stretches, etc. 
  • Exercise in the morning before your day truly becomes busy.
  • Literally schedule exercise into your day, just like you would a meeting.  If 15-minutes is all you have tomorrow, then 15-minutes it is.   

Excuse #2: “I’ve Tried [such and such] Before and It Didn’t Work.”

There are two things about this excuse.  One, maybe the diet or weight loss program you tried really didn’t work for you.  Fine, but did you try something else or just give up?  Second, maybe you had a failed attempt at losing weight or reaching whatever goal you had.  Did you get discouraged and just give up?

The biggest problem with this excuse is letting failure have its way.  Everyone fails at times.  High performers do.  The difference is they get back into the “game” quickly.

How about trying this:  Have a plan for when you do fail.  For example, 2 days in a row of skipping exercise is all I will allow myself; or if I eat poorly 1 day, the next day I’ll eat a healthy breakfast and dinner.

Excuse #3: “I Don’t Have Money To [join a gym, pay a personal trainer, buy a program].”

This excuse requires a certain amount of honesty.  Do you truly lack money to make even a small investment in your health and fitness?  Is losing weight and being fit really on the top of your list of importance?  How badly and how fast do you want to lose that weight, be stronger, more mobile…?

The key to ditching this excuse is being able to answer these questions.  Because what is important to us, we usually put our resources into and accomplish.  And while money is a legitimate concern, running or fast walking outside and doing bodyweight exercises at home are free.  Small purchases of a few key pieces of equipment to have at home can help you level up. 

Bottom Line…

Examine your reasons for skipping exercise and continuing to eat unhealthy.  Have these become excuses over time?  If so, take one excuse and make just one small change to be better.  Stick with that until it is so easy that you know you can make a second small change.  The road ahead to losing weight, feeling great and having the life you want then becomes that much easier.

Understanding the Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman diet, has been around awhile and is still popular among some dieters and athletes.  But, is it a healthy diet and is it one that is good for you?  As with any diet, it’s important to understand what the diet is, the foods it includes, the foods it avoids, the benefits, and risks or concerns of the diet.  It’s even more important to determine if this diet is right for you by speaking with your doctor and a registered dietitian. 

What is the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet is based on what cavemen and cavewomen are presumed to have eaten thousands of years ago.  Why eat like a caveman you ask?  The premise is that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat as our stone age ancestors did.  True or not, let’s take a look at what foods they had access to back then.

Since our stone age ancestors existed before modern agriculture became a thing, the foods they ate would have been ones they hunted and gathered for.  Wild animals, fish, and uncultivated plants, such as fruits, berries, eggs, and roots, rounded out the diet.  As such, the diet was high in protein and fiber, and low in fat.

If a food did not exist back then, it would not be an authentic paleo food item.  In modern times, we have many more cultivated healthy food choices available.  Additionally, most meats and plants are domesticated, thus making a true paleo diet difficult to follow.  What this means is, at best, a modified version of the paleo diet that is organic and gluten free would be one that a dieter could follow.  But that doesn’t alone make it good either.

Foods of the Paleo Diet

While there are many versions of the Paleo diet, with some stricter than others, below is a list that most paleo diets are made up of.

·  Grass-feed meats and poultry (versus corn fed) as the nutritional quality would be closer to what our stone age ancestors would have had available.

·  Wild-caught fish and seafood (salmon, haddock, trout, shellfish, shrimp, etc.)

·  Low carb vegetables (such as leafy greens, peppers, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers)

·  Pasture-raised eggs

·  Fruits (sometimes)

·  Tree nuts (only in moderation)

·  Raw cacao (high in polyphenol antioxidants)

·  Coconut milk

·  Organic green tea

·  Cold pressed avocado, coconut and olive oil

Foods not included in the Paleo Diet

·  Legumes

·  Grains

·  Starches (potatoes, corn, refined cereal, etc.)

·  Dairy

·  Alcohol

·  Sugar

·  Processed foods

·  Processed oils

Potential Benefits of a Paleo Diet

·  Fast weight loss

·  Improved blood markers (cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin)

·  Lower blood pressure

·  Reduced risk of chronic diseases

·  May benefit patients with type 2 diabetes

Potential Risks/Concerns of a Paleo Diet

·  Lack of energy (from carbohydrate restriction)

·  Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies (from legume and grain restriction)

·  Calcium deficiencies (from legume restriction)

·  Increased risk of chronic diseases (from legume and grain restriction)

·  Mental fatigue (from carbohydrate restriction)

·  Muscle loss (from carbohydrate restriction)

What’s The bottom line?

A well-formulated paleo diet may be beneficial for weight loss and improving overall nutritional health.  A major drawback may be the restriction of healthy legumes and grains in the diet, as well as other nutrient rich items like many fruits and vegetables.  Always seek the advice of a doctor and registered dietitian to determine if a paleo diet is good for you. 

In the long term, having a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and unprocessed foods, is easier to maintain and provides needed nutrients for optimal health.

The Home Gym Equipment Everyone Should Have

Can’t always make it to the gym?  Don’t have a gym membership?  Prefer working out at home?  If this is you, just having a few things on hand at home can help get and keep you in shape without having to give up any space to do it. Your home gym is simple (and cheap!) – elaborate is not necessary at all!

Resistance training is critical, whether you are trying to lose weight, get stronger, or get more toned.  Bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, squats and planks are great.  But, if you want to go beyond that, you need some basic equipment at home.  And, it doesn’t have to cost you lots of money or space in the house. 

Recommended Minimum Resistance Training Equipment

The following equipment will provide you with everything you need to do your resistance workouts at home:

  • A set of exercise bands – Exercise bands provide varying degrees of resistance from very light to very heavy.  They come in both looped style and long bands with handles.  Most basic exercises can be done using these, from overhead shoulder presses to strengthening those glutes.  While you may think of these as good for beginners, there are ones on the market that provide higher resistance for intermediate and advanced exercisers as well.
  • 3 sets of dumbbells – Three is all you need, really!  A set of light, medium and heavy weights.  And, that means what is light, medium, or heavy to you personally.  Or, if you prefer the style and option of having a “one size fits all,” you can purchase one set that is adjustable to varying weights.  These tend to be a bit bulkier but offer more options for adjusting the weight as you progress.  If a “one size fits all” doesn’t appeal, you can start by just buying 1-2 sets based on your current need to help get you started.
  • Stability Ball – Often missing from a person’s workout is balance and stability training.  Athletes know the importance of this to reduce chances of injury, and be able to stay on their feet!  The same holds for the rest of us, we all need good balance and core strength to reduce the risk of injury while exercising and going about our daily lives.  There are many exercises that can be conducted using the stability ball, from ball squats to even push-ups for more advanced exercisers.

If you are an avid at home exerciser, then adding one of our favorite pieces of equipment, the Bosu Ball(R), can be useful.  This is great for increasing the level of difficulty of a workout by further challenging balance and core stability. 

This equipment is enough to ditch the excuses and get to working out!

Maybe Grab That Dark Chocolate the Next Time

It’s been widely publicized that dark chocolate may have the health benefit of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and inflammation.  With so many chocolate lovers out there, this was some great news.  Justifying eating this wonderful treat because it’s actually healthy for you!

But, are there buts to it like anything else?  Thus, deflating you yet again and steering you away from something delicious?  Maybe, maybe not.

What’s Behind the Chocolate Hype

Chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean, which is rich in antioxidant flavonoids.  Foods with antioxidant properties are wonderful to hear about.  Talk about guilt free foods! 

Antioxidant is a very broad term that refers to hundreds of substances.  The ones of most notoriety are Vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, lycopene and polyphenols.  These are found in familiar foods such as berries, nuts, and beans.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.  Free radicals are both a natural byproduct of normal processes in our body’s cells, and from those environmental toxins we come into contact with such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet rays.  Our body’s cells naturally produce strong antioxidants, while the foods we eat supply others, such as those mentioned above.

Back to the Cocoa Bean

Remember, the cocoa bean was rich in flavonoids.  Flavonoids are a wonder of nature in that they are found only in plants, and help protect plants from those environmental toxins, fungi and microbes.  They also help the plant repair damage. 

Flavonoids have hit notoriety because of their possible medicinal use in fighting against certain types of cancers, atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the artery walls), and high cholesterol.  The main type of flavonoid in the cocoa bean are flavonols.  These flavonols contain antioxidant properties that may serve a role to improve blood flow and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).

Why Dark Chocolate over Milk Chocolate

Not all chocolate is created equally.  Cocoa is very pungent and bitter.  So, in order to make it taste good, most of the chocolates available on the U.S. grocery shelves are heavily processed.  The more heavily processed, the more flavonols are lost, and so it becomes just another unhealthy food to eat.

The silver lining is in the dark chocolate, and the darker the better.  It’s believed that more of the flavonols are retained during processing of dark chocolate than say, milk chocolate.  However, it all comes down to the manufacturing process, which we aren’t always privy to.  However, for now, dark chocolate appears to be the better health conscious choice.

So, when you feel you just have to treat yourself, a moderate amount of dark chocolate (one ounce) a few times a week may be a good choice.  This, along with those other flavonoid rich foods, such as berries, citrus fruits, and legumes, can round out your diet without the guilt.

5 All Time Worst Exercises – (What to Do Instead!)

Just as there is bad nutrition and good nutrition, unhealthy habits and healthy habits, there are bad exercises and beneficial exercises.  The worst exercises are not just bad, but can be dangerous. From watching workouts in gyms to videos online, we’ve seen our share of some of the worst exercises people can dream up.  Here, we’ve picked out some of our personal all-time worst exercises to avoid in order to reduce chances of injury and instead get the results you intended.

And the Losers Are…

1.  Sit-ups:  If these aren’t on the top of every fitness professional’s “never to perform” exercise list, they should be.  We’re not talking about proper abdominal crunches, but the old military style sit-ups where you bring your upper body completely off the floor towards your knees.  Besides doing little to nothing for your core, they push your curved spine against the floor which can cause injury to your back.  And, they work your hip flexors, which, frankly…why?  Most of our hip flexors are already overworked sitting in front of computers all day.

Do this instead…Plank.  Not only do these work your abdominals, but also your back and shoulders.  Proper form includes keeping your back flat, tucking the chin slightly and tightening your abs.

2.  Side Bends with Weights:  Proper side bends for stretching are great.  But, someone, somewhere, came up with this exercise with weights that supposedly was to strengthen the oblique muscles.  However, all this exercise does is put more stress on the low spine, which again can lead to injury.  Really want to work the obliques?

Do this instead…Wood Chopper.  This works both the oblique and transverse abdominal muscles—the ones that allow you to twist, swing a bat, golf club, etc.  This also has the added benefit of working your back and shoulders.  Proper form includes tightening your abs, avoiding arching your back, and using a weight that freely allows you to perform the exercise without stress on your shoulders.

3.  Lat Pull-downs Behind the Neck:  This is a common exercise seen in gyms anywhere, and carries with it a greater potential for injury to the spine, neck and rotator cuffs.  To avoid hitting your head with the bar, you have to extend your head forward.  This puts stress on your spine.  Additionally, the exercise forces your shoulders into an angle they aren’t really built for, which can lead to tearing your rotator cuffs. 

Do this instead…Lat Pull-Down to the Chest.  This is the correct form of the exercise.  Pull the bar down in front of you towards the chest.  Proper form includes keeping your feet flat on the floor and leaning slightly back.  Be sure when you release the bar doesn’t extend beyond your reach to avoid injury to the shoulders.

4.  Hip Abductor/Adductor Machine.  This piece of equipment appears in almost every gym.  You sit down and push your thighs in and out.  Sorry, but besides looking ridiculous, this works very few muscles and is a complete waste of precious exercise time.  It also puts stress on the spine, and unnecessarily tightens the IT (iliotibial) band which can lead to pain between the hip and knee.

Do this instead…Side Lunges.  Not only do these work the major muscles of the legs, but also the hip abductors and adductors due to the side to side movement.  Proper form includes keeping your spine straight, tightening your abs and keeping the bent knee from overshooting the toe.

5.  Hurdler’s Stretch.  We still see a lot of people doing this.  One leg is stretched in front and the other bent behind, which puts the bent knee in a very awkward position.  This puts a lot of stress on the knee and can cause pain and injury.

Do these instead…Basic hamstring, quad and hip flexor stretches.   These stretches will do everything the hurdler’s stretch was trying to do without the added risk of injury.  Proper form includes:  minimizing rounding your back in a hamstring stretch so as to avoid putting stress on the spine; avoiding overstretching the quad to where it causes pain; and whether seated or standing for a hip flexor stretch, avoid arching your back.

Most, if not all of these, were made popular during the early gym days.  They are tough, and they fit into the model of “no pain, no gain.”  However, they are not very effective, and worse, they are dangerous.  People have injured themselves doing these before.  Remember – pain does not equal gain, and often will slow down progress.  The key is to work at exercise in a smart and efficient way.  Challenge yourself, instead of hurting yourself.

TV & Junk Food: Are They Related?

I don’t know, maybe I was just burned out a bit from working too hard and needed a break, but yesterday was one of those lazy days for me.  I decided enough was enough and I was just going to relax for the day.  Now we all need those relaxation days to recharge.  But, on this particular day, I was glued to the TV.  And, for some reason, I took more notice of the many food commercials that we are bombarded with. 

It Made Me Wonder if TV Led to More Eating, and Junk Food in Particular.

To be completely transparent, some of what I have to say on this subject is based on my own experience, and some on research.  First, my own experience…

What I Know to Be True for Myself

I fight my food demons like I know a lot of others do.  Growing up, there were always sugary desserts and candies on hand.  While that’s another story in itself, suffice it to say, while we had to eat dinner at the table, dessert was served later in front of the TV.  I took this same practice into adulthood for many years.  Unconsciously, I associated relaxing in front of the TV with treat time.  During my own weight loss journey, it was one of the habits I became aware of that were contributing to my overweight.  (If you want to know what I did…I slowly began substituting for a healthier snack.

Back to Those TV Commercials.

To be fair, not all those food commercials I noticed yesterday promoted bad foods.  Some were certainly healthy.  But, on seeing them, even though I wasn’t hungry, it made me want to eat.  In sight, in mind, so to speak.  So, my natural tendency was to hit the kitchen and forage for food.  That meant extra calories I was consuming, healthy food or not.

What Some Research Says

In 2018, Cancer Research UK1 [United Kingdom], conducted a survey of teens between 11 and 19 years of age to assess if there was an association between TV streaming and ads on diets.  More specifically, on junk food and sugary drink consumption.  They discovered that teens who regularly streamed shows containing ads “were more than twice as likely (139%) to drink fizzy drinks compared to someone with low advert exposure from streaming TV, and 65% more likely to eat more ready meals than those who streamed less TV.”

In another study, researchers looked into whether eating while watching TV increased the number of calories consumed relative to eating with no TV2.  The participants were women.  Interestingly, everyone ate more with TV.  If the show was a favorite, or one they were familiar with, the food intake was even greater.

I always like to leave with a bottom line.  After working with clients and my own experience, one of the ways to combat TV and food intake is to be mindful of it.  The more mindful we are of what we are doing, the more we can move to modify it in a healthier way.

1Cancer Research UK. “Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180115184342.htm.

2Braude, L., & Stevenson, R. J., 2014. Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. “Watching television while eating increases energy intake. Examining the mechanisms in female participants.” Appetite. Vol. 76, pp 9-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.01.005.

Why Today’s Technology Is Messing With You

I don’t know about you, but growing up my mother was constantly telling me to “sit up straight,” or “stand up straight!”  Being a kid, I just assumed she thought I was purposely showing I didn’t care and was being lazy.  I mean why else was she always on me?  (That’s a rhetorical question! LOL.)

Granted, maybe we did not, nor our mothers, know at the time why having good posture was important, especially if we weren’t entering beauty pageants or impressing others with our great physique.  But, it turns out she actually might have had our backs on this one!

We’ve all heard it by now—sitting is the new smoking.  However, there is more to it than just being sedentary and out of shape leading to unwanted health problems.  In reality, something more is happening here.

Enter Today’s Technology

In today’s tech society, we spend countless hours staring down at our cell phones and peering forward at our computers.  We sit hunched over in cafes or walk through crowds with our heads down, oblivious to the heavy weight that puts on our neck and shoulders.  With time and age, we get more and more slumped over, developing what I like to call bird neck (head and neck extended forward like we are pecking at someone’s hand).

You probably thought that was simply age, right!?

Why Is This Bad…Besides the Way It Looks?

Our bodies adapt to the position(s) we constantly put it in.  This causes some muscles to be overactive and others underactive.  Because of this, we can more easily injure muscles that are weak (underactive), and feel tightness in other muscles (the overactive ones).  In the case we are talking about here, with time we begin experiencing pain in our neck, back, and shoulders.

Okay, So What Do I Do with This Information?

Besides taking more frequent breaks from staring at that computer and down at the cell phone, here are some simple exercises you can do to combat that rounded back and/or forward head (remember the bird neck).

Rounded back:

·  Bent over Rows to strengthen the back.  Yes, I said bent – but not in the slouched over sense!  Rather bent slightly forward from the hip.

·  Chest Stretch to loosen tight pectoral muscles pulling inward.

Forward head:

·  Head Retraction (keeping head level, tuck your chin which will draw head directly backwards).  You might not like the look of wrinkling under the chin, but that says you’re doing it right!

So, next time you find yourself scrolling too long through Facebook, or working too long at the computer, take a few minutes to get up and stretch out the chest and neck.  And add those back rows to your exercise routine (watching your head position).  You’ll make your mother, and your body, proud!