4 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier!

4 Simple Food Substitutes to Help You Eat Healthier … from Morning to Night

So you want to eat healthier, but you find it difficult and time-consuming with your busy lifestyle to prepare healthy foods…. and the thought of a “diet” is overwhelming?  Great news! There are several easy, great-tasting food substitutions that you can make to help live a healthier lifestyle. (Notice the word here is lifestyle, not “diet”). Changing even a few of your habits can save calories and provide better nutritional ingredients… while also saving you time!

Here are a just a few of my favorite food substitutions to cover you from morning to night:

 1.  Make Your Own Flavored Oatmeal

Do you often opt for pre-packaged flavored oatmeal as a quick breakfast for you or the kids?

Healthier Eating Infographic

Even though these are simple and convenient, they are usually loaded with added sugar and sodium. Instead, try making your own “overnight oats”. This offers a fantastic, healthier way to have breakfast all ready for those busy mornings.

How to: Purchase steel cut or whole oats. Then, I recommend putting together: ¼ cup of steel cut oats, ¼ cup of almond milk, ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce, ¼ cup of Greek yogurt or Siggi’s vanilla yogurt, and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Shake altogether, then refrigerate overnight. All the ingredients soak and absorb together, and can be eaten as is from the refrigerator. Or, it can be warmed up in the microwave for 30 seconds/1 minute. It’s an amazing combo of flavor and satisfies other nutritional needs, too.

Click Here for other healthy overnight oats options as well.

2. Substitute Rice Cakes for Bread

Always pack a sandwich for lunch? There’s an easy way to lighten that carb load. Try rice cakes instead of bread! Unsalted cakes are your best option. Not only is a sandwich made with rice cakes less calories and carbs, but it won’t bog you down or limit your options.

Peanut butter sandwich? Put that PB on rice cakes. Craving an Italian sub? Put some (nitrate-free) lunch meat and avocado spread on rice cakes.

In the mood for pizza? Lay on some marinara and mozzarella. Click here to learn more about the rice cakes trend.

3. Switch to Natural Peanut Butter or PB2

Love peanut butter? That’s fantastic news because it’s delicious, versatile, and can be a considerable source of protein. However, most peanut butter sold in grocery stores is laden with trans fats and excess sugar.

Make the easy switch to peanut butter labeled as “natural” or to the product PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter that can also be found in most grocery stores right in the peanut butter section.

PB2 has less sugar and fat and is even more versatile than regular peanut butter (think cooking, smoothies, etc.). Measure out and mix with water, and you’ve cut the calories of peanut butter in half.

Click here to understand the health benefits of powdered peanut butter.

4. Eat Yogurt for Your Evening “Dessert”

Need a sweet fix at night? Our registered dietitian recommends eating dairy at night as a snack. So, choose yogurt instead of cookies or ice cream. Keep in mind that “fruit on the bottom” yogurt is laden with sugar, so better choices would be Dannon Light & Fit vanilla, or Click here for ideas and brands to look out for to nail down this substitute, guilt-free.

There are SO many other ways that you can make simple substitutions for every snack or meal throughout the day, for you AND your family. If you would like some additional advice on these handy switches or additional healthy recipe ideas, please contact me in UAC Member Services or the Nutrition & Wellness Center.

My email address is [email protected], and I’d be happy to help!

Why Is Exercise So Important?

It might be easy to tell ourselves or others, “there’s just not enough time in my life for exercise”. I get it. Like so many of you, I juggle working full-time, kids’ schedules, meetings, grocery shopping, laundry, a 4:30pm dinner before two practices, and the list goes on.   It’s challenging and seems insurmountable to fit one more item on your “To Do” list.  But then I remember this excerpt from author, Iain Thomas:

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. THIS is what’s important.’”

I’m sure you would give this same advice to your loved ones, right? So, consider yourself. YOU are important. YOUR heart health is important. YOU deserve some exercise in your life!

WHY exercise is so important: 

Health Benefits Of Exercise Infographic

 

If you don’t make a change, things will remain the same

I often think of the word ‘Inertia’, in the law of Physics, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

This law of physics couldn’t be more factual when discussing our physical fitness. The “a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged” can especially hang in the air. Unless that state is changed by an external force (our own decisions and actions), nothing will change or improve.

The benefits of exercise are immeasurable

They truly are! Take a moment and look at the benefits of exercising regularly. There is not one prescription drug on the market that can have as positive of an effect on preventing and improving health conditions that exercise can.

Regular exercise can prevent or treat dozens of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and some cancers. It can also protect your joints, prevent falls and injuries and increase bone strength. In addition, it’s important to avoid inactivity or the amount of time spent sitting. Limiting sitting to less than six to eight hours a day is optimal. Regular exercise makes our activities of daily living much easier and provides us the ability to thrive!

We will THRIVE instead of simply survive

When we set aside a plan to exercise daily, we will reap many benefits and thrive in life, as opposed to simply try to survive. I love Arianna Huffington’s description in her book “Thrive” regarding how seriously we take the battery power sign on our smart phones. If it’s nearing “low power mode” we become a bit frantic as we search for the nearest power source to refuel and recharge.  However, in life, we rarely pause to recognize when our bodies are operating on “low power mode” and need to recharge.

If we took time to build strength, endurance and flexibility in our physical selves, the benefits spill over into other areas of our life, including our relationships, our careers, our outlook on life and even sleep patterns.

I could spend days here discussing how daily exercise improves our well-being and boosts our ability to thrive in life! You will find yourself more productive in your daily life. And your emotional health will receive a boost. Have you met a miserable individual that exercises regularly? I challenge you to find one….they are hard to find.

Ways to Start or Get Back into Exercise

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends exercising at least 150 minutes a week. Yet many of us still struggle to make this a part of our lives. Here are some ways to start an exercise routine or to get back into a routine if you have gotten off track.

Write Down Your “Why?”

Ask yourself “Why is it important to me that I start to exercise?” Are you out of breath after walking up a flight or two of stairs? Are your pants fitting more snug than previously?  Did your doctor recommend necessary health improvements that can be obtained through exercise? Or do you just want to have more energy, improve sleep quality or just feel better overall?

Having a “why” is the first intention in initiating an exercise program. Writing it down in a journal or in your “notes” in a mobile device helps you set up a foundation for staying focused on your goal. It provides the motivation to get off the couch and take the first steps toward moving more.

Take your “Why” to another level by professing it to a peer, family member, or friend; someone you know who will encourage and support you and hold you accountable. If you have a “why” you have a reason to get started.

Start by Taking “Small Steps”

Keep it simple and obtainable at first. Start with a ten-minute walk every day at a routine time that works for you. Then eventually add on more minutes. Another great way to start is by seeking the help of a professional at a fitness club, like Universal. A  personal trainer might also help, they can map out a plan to get you started on the right path with some cardio, strength and stretch workouts that are realistic for you to follow.

Find a pal, start moving and have fun with it. Make a commitment to it for one month. You’ll be happy with the difference it makes in your life!

4 Easy Steps for Starting Exercise as an Older Adult

Daily Exercising = Healthy Aging

You have probably heard the old adage,“It’s never too late to start.” This phrase could be applied to many activities and habits. However, the most significant ending to this statement, would be “…a consistent exercise program.”  Research has shown, that the benefits of physical activity are great. In fact, daily exercise for older adults serves as a prescription for preventing, treating, and managing chronic diseases and conditions including the leading causes of death in the United States, heart disease and cancer.

Improvements to one’s physical health can be made at any age. In general, people age differently from one another; factors that play a key role in this are overall lifestyle choices and irreversible genetics. We cannot control our genetics, so one would suggest modifying our lifestyle habits, which gives us the best chance of survival.

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A few lifestyle factors that make the biggest difference in physical health are abstaining from smoking, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet (consisting of whole foods), managing stress, monitoring cardiovascular markers including blood pressure and blood lipid profiles, and regular physical activities — all of which are great examples.

My Personal Experience with Older Adults & Exercise Benefits

Working as a certified Exercise Physiologist for the past 20 years, I have witnessed true success stories in older adults (65 years and older) who have survived accidents they should not have. However, because they were physically active prior to the accident, they survived Through rehabilitation, they are thriving once again.

I’ve seen older adults who exercise and easily perform their Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) which has significantly helped their quality of life. Aren’t we are looking to move through our day with better ease? I would vote “yes!.”

I’ve watched numerous joint replacements with successful outcomes because the patients were committed to exercise routines for older adults prior to surgery. As one’s age increases, the risk of hip fractures increases by 95% resulting from a fall. One hip fracture can lead to numerous other health issues.

There are many ways to decrease your chance of falling, but physical activity is amongst the most impactful.  A well-rounded exercise routine for older adults is essential.  Exercise for older adults may include incorporating cardiovascular exercise such as:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Resistance training
  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Mobility
  • Coordination
  • Reaction time training.

While this might feel overwhelming, here are a steps to help keep you in line with your goals when choosing/re-starting your an older adult exercise program

Steps to Starting Exercise Routines for Older Adults

  • STEP ONE: Consult with your physician and inquire on whether there will be any negative affects to your exercise regimens based on the medication that you are taking.
  • STEP TWO: Commit to three months of regular exercise. When starting out, prepare your mind that you are going to adopt this new habit for 12 weeks and stick with it. Set a goal to be as consistent as possible. Believe it or not, by week 12, you will notice some differences in your quality of sleep, energy levels, overall mood, and an increase in stamina.
  • STEP THREE: Aim for 30 minutes of exercise on five or more days of the week (or 150 total minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity). What does moderate-intensity mean? It is an exercise intensity that is hard enough to break a sweat, but you could still carry on a conversation with your walking partner. You could break it into two 15-minute bouts per day, depending on your schedule.
  • STEP FOUR: Diversify your exercise routine types. Studies indicate that a combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training (2-3x/week), flexibility/mobility training and balance exercises yield the biggest benefits to one’s health and well-being. Focus on one area to begin the first few weeks, possibly aerobic exercise such as walking.

My top recommendation? Try a SilverSneakers class. I know what many may be thinking, “Those classes are for the elderly, and I am not in that category. I may age ten years just by trying a class,” but I encourage you to have an open mind and try a new class. You may be surprised!

These classes are designed to target those skills and functions that decline with age, including balance, strength, muscular endurance, agility, coordination, reaction time, flexibility and mobility. My goal in every class is to incorporate a variety of regimens to execute the best exercises for older adults.

 

7 Reasons Why Exercise Programs for Older Adults Are Beneficial

Healthy Aging Includes Exercise

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

Physical Activity is Essential for Healthy Aging

  1. Cardiovascular-respiratory health: The heart, a muscular organ, is the most vital part of the human body. The lungs, which provides oxygen to the heart, is extremely important as well. As we age, the efficiency of the heart and lungs decreases; however, regular cardiovascular exercise slows the effects of aging.  Aim for accumulating 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week  such as walking, biking or swimming. Exercise at an intensity to break a sweat, but at a pace where you can still hold a conversation with a friend. I could sit here for hours and list all the ways that cardiovascular exercise improves the function of the heart, lungs and related components , but to cut to the chase…it is essential to do — almost as essential as breathing!

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  1. Psychological/Emotional well-being: Both aerobic training and resistance training yield significant improvements for depression and anxiety. Both also increase in quality of life including perceptions of body pain, vitality, social functioning, morale and sleep quality.
  2. Free Insurance: Think of exercise as additional health insurance. If you need unexpected surgery, joint replacements or experience an accident, the more fit you are prior to injury or surgery the quicker you’ll be on the road to recovery.
  3. Cognitive benefits: Studies show, a combination of aerobic training and resistance training decreases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
  4. Weight management: As we age, our metabolism with naturally slow. Therefore, without mindful eating and regular exercise, it becomes very easy for the pounds to creep upwards. Exercise is a natural way to burn calories and preserve muscle mass. The less weight our skeletal system carries, the happier our joints.
  5. Fall prevention: More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. Hip fractures can lead to a lengthy list of undesirable conditions and a severe decrease in quality of life and independence. Keeping bones strong through weight bearing exercise and resistance training, maintaining agility, reaction time, joint mobility, kinesthetic awareness and balance are all important factors in preventing a fall from occurring. Luckily, these areas can be improved because exercise does prevent falls in older adults.
  6. Chronic disease and disability prevention: A regular exercise program, 150 minutes per week, will minimize the physiological changes due to aging and a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity and exercise for older adults will increase the active life expectancy while limiting the development and progression of chronic disease and disabilties including certain types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression, and many others.

Any movement is better than NO movement! Exercise guidelines for older adults emphasize that for most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.

The guidelines stress that if older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.  It all starts with a single movement!

Start today, by trying one of our SilverSneaker classes.