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20 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Healthier Fast

Little moves, big results

Being healthier doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire lifestyle. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple changes. From eating more carrots to watching puppy videos (that’s right, puppy videos), these quick-and-easy tweaks to your daily health regimen can make a huge difference in the way you feel.

Grab your toes and pull

“This boosts circulation after your feet have been cramped in shoes all day,” says Michele Summers Colon, DPM, a podiatrist in El Monte, California. “Without proper circulation, the muscles and nerves in our toes don’t work properly. And that can cause pain in your knees, hips, and back.”

Wash the linens

Dust mites, a major allergy trigger, love to hang out in your bed. Zap ’em by laundering sheets and pillowcases every week in hot water. Also smart: Use mattress and duvet covers designed to keep mites out.

Fly right

Flying? Turn on the air vent above your seat. “I fly a couple of times a week,” says Travis Stork, MD, an emergency medicine physician and co-host of The Doctors. “Part of the way I stay healthy is by being very conscientious about all of the germs that are on planes. I turn on the air vent and angle it so it blows air down in front of my face—that’s filtered air and it creates a little bit of a barrier to keep the germs going around the cabin from getting into my nose or mouth.”

Do 25 jumping jacks

Move your body, no matter how briefly, to stop the stress response in its tracks and change the channel on your mood, says Lisa Oz, author of US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most.

Silence your phone at night

Don’t let your loved ones interrupt a deep sleep. “I alerted friends and family to when I would be sleeping so I could minimize noisy calls and texts,” says Marni Hillinger, MD, a medical resident in New York City. “Turning the phone off works, too!”

Get your shots

Get a yearly flu vaccine? Great. Now add a TDaP booster. TDaP stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis—and that last disease, also known as whooping cough, is a particularly dangerous respiratory illness. In fact, cases of pertussis in the U.S. have risen about 137% since 2000.

“For most adults, that means a nasty cough; in children, it can be worse,” says Ana Pantoja, MD, staff physician for AltaMed in Boyle Heights, California. “So if you have kids or are around kids, it’s essential to get vaccinated.” Even if you got the shot as a child, you still need one booster as a grown-up. (You’ll also need a tetanus booster every 10 years.)

Drop your underwear

Going commando once in a while (say, overnight) couldn’t hurt, especially if you’re prone to UTIs. “Wearing no undergarments—or just cotton ones—allows the external genitals to dry and reduces bacteria growth that could otherwise make its way into your urethra and cause a bladder infection,” says Sherry Thomas, MD, an OB-GYN and surgeon at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California.

Going commando once in a while (say, overnight) couldn’t hurt, especially if you’re prone to UTIs. “Wearing no undergarments—or just cotton ones—allows the external genitals to dry and reduces bacteria growth that could otherwise make its way into your urethra and cause a bladder infection,” says Sherry Thomas, MD, an OB-GYN and surgeon at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California.

Keep medical info handy

Put a card in your wallet that lists any allergies you have and medications you’re taking, in case you end up in the ER and are unable to speak for yourself. Says John M. Kennedy, MD, co-author of The 15-Minute Heart Cure, “It could just save your life.”

Crank down the volume

MP3 players can create sound up to 120 decibels—loud enough to cause hearing loss over time. “Follow the 60/60 rule: Keep volume coming through your headphones to no more than 60 percent of the max, for no more than 60 minutes a day,” says James Foy, DO, an osteopathic physician in Vallejo, California.

Nuke the dish sponge

“This is the germiest thing in your house,” says germ guru Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “About 15 percent of sponges contain bacteria that can make you ill.” So toss them in the dishwasher once a week or microwave them damp on high for 30 seconds.

Don’t lose sleep

Are your nerves keeping you up at night? “When my mind starts racing in bed, I think about the next day’s challenges. Then, I take long breaths, thinking, Breathe in, breathe out,” says Olympic swimmer Rebecca Soni. “It takes practice, but if you do it regularly, your body learns how to relax.”

Check yourself out

“Do a full-body skin check once a month in a well-lit room,” advises Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “Grab a hand mirror if you have one. Ask a family member to check out your back if you can’t see it. Look for new moles or old ones that have changed or grown (then have a dermatologist take a look). I also recommend a total-body check with a derm yearly—twice a year if you have a personal or family history of funny moles. Early detection is key in treating skin cancer”—the most common cancer in women.

Munch on carrots

The humble carrot never got much attention, but it’s now a nutritionist favorite, thanks to its high vitamin A content—just one half cup has almost double the amount you need for healthy eyes. They’re hot with chefs, too, making it easier to get your good-vision fix.

Wear an activity tracker

Whether it’s a Fitbit, a Nike FuelBand, or any old pedometer, studies show that people who wear a device that tracks the number of steps they’ve taken each day get moving more than those who don’t.

Take a ticker test

You may not think about your cholesterol, but you should: Having high numbers is a major heart-disease risk factor that even slim women can have. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you may be able to score a screening without paying one cent for it if you have a family history or other risk factors, according to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For a list of more preventive screenings that now have no co-pay, go to

Fight daylight savings blahs

When we “spring forward” this month, the lost hour can have a bigger effect on our bodies than we might think: “You might feel jetlagged, and it can take two to five days to adjust,” says Meir Kryger, MD, professor of medicine at Yale University.

His fix: “Get some sunlight as soon as possible”—by raising window shades or making a coffee run—”to help re-synchronize your body clock. Luckily, the switch-over happens on a Sunday morning, so many of us don’t have to go to work that first day!”

Stay rested on the road

“At hotels, I keep lighting soft and bring lounging clothes and my Dream Sack, a thin, silk sleeping bag,” says flight attendant Tracy Cristoph. “On planes, I close the shades and wear an eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.”

Say yes to puppy videos

Pets are a proven stress-buster, but you knew that. Head to, stat, to melt even the gnarliest of bad moods.

Make instant hot cocoa

Research, including a study published in the journal Appetite, shows that even a bit of chocolate can boost your mood almost immediately.

Go outside!

“Fresh air is full of feel-good negative ions, which may boost oxygen flow to the brain,” says Kathleen Hall, PhD, founder of the Stress Institute in Atlanta. “If you can, combine it with exercise, like a brisk walk—activity boosts endorphins and energy.”

How many days of rest should you allow for building muscle?

This particular query can’t be answered with a universally numerical conclusion. Many variables factor into how many days of rest one should have for optimal muscle building results. However, I will go over a few scenarios in hopes that it helps paint a clearer picture.

First of all, no matter what type of Health & Fitness Guru Blog you are reading from, the best knowledge comes from personal experience. Yeah, the stuff you have personally tried, tested and adjusted to your own genetic makeup.

While browsing through the Internet, I was surprised to see many of the health blogs saying the exact same answer, which was 24 to 48 hours of rest between workouts. Personally, I disagree. For one, what type of workout? How intense is it? Are you concentrating on certain muscle groups per each workout or are you taking the shotgun approach? How old are you? Are you a beginner just starting to workout or are you a professional bodybuilder building massive muscles? All of these things and many more factor into how many days of rest your muscles need for optimal growth and/or safe methods of building lean body mass.

The small groups of muscles like what are found in your forearms, for example, could be worked thoroughly almost daily while larger muscles like what are found in your chest, shoulders, hamstrings, etc., will most likely need more time to fully recover from a hard workout. Your genetic makeup, hormone levels, overall health, age, hours of daily sleep, and so on, all affect how quickly your body recovers.

I have heard of many professional bodybuilders training 6 days a week, with only one off day. But guess what? They only train certain groups of muscles once a week. Yep, so that means that they allow 7 days of rest per muscle group for building mass quantities of muscle. However, you can rest assured that they totally tear down each muscle group during those days of pumping iron/working out.

The other thing you need to do is simply listen to your own body. If you go back to the bench press and you still feel weak from a workout you did a couple days ago, wait a few more days before trying again. I try to wait an extra day or two after I feel ready for another intense weightlifting session. Always try to keep in mind, your muscles grow when you are resting, not when working ’em to the point of exhaustion.

With that being said, aerobic-style workouts don’t really need “days of rest” in between, but it never hurts to have a couple off days during the week, right? As for building muscle, lifting weights, intense training, etc., I like to take 6 to 7 days off between working that same muscle again. For optimal gains, even if I was in a big rush, I still wouldn’t want to take any less than 4 or 5 days off, but that’s just my opinion; cheers!

Healthy life tips: Create a habit, workout at the same time everyday

Yup, I am talking about working out. No matter what you do, plan it, schedule it, and start at the same time every day. This way it’s a habit. There is no doubt in your schedule by yourself or others. You are simply there and ready to go. I’ve recently started waking at 5:45 am to get my workout done.

Frankly, anything with a 5 and an am in the time is WAY TO EARLY in the morning but here are the benefits.
  • My workout for the day is done. I don’t have to worry about being tired after work or finding time. And if I want to get an extra workout done in the evening, like Pilates, Yoga or something else, then great. I can plan for more if I need to.
  • I am more likely to meet my goals. That morning first thing workout can be difficult but here is the thing. If I do it first, I am more likely to be consistent. My attention span is like a squirrel. I might say that I am going to workout at 2:00 but then something else catches my attention and I am off on that tangent.
  • I get to work on time and ready to go. I’ve been up for a while by the time I sit at my desk and my brain is ready to do some damage. I walk in like, “what’s up succas” instead of needing a pick me up to get going.
  • I am more likely to stay away from sweets in the morning. I’ve already eaten. I usually grab an apple and a water on my way to the gym. That’s enough till I get back and have some breakfast.
I’ve noticed that when I get the workouts done in the morning. I’m not anxious about when I can fit one in or forget to workout in favor of getting the other things that I have to do for the day done. That part of my day, no matter what else I am doing, is done.
I hope this helps you get moving

15 Shocking Exercise Facts

What do dark chocolate, casual Fridays, and graduating from high school have in common? According to research, they all improve your workout. Anneli Rufus on the secrets to good exercise.

1. People who exercise as little as 15 minutes a day have a 14 percent lower mortality risk than people who don’t exercise at all.

That statistic covers all causes of death, which translates at age 30 to a three-year increase in life expectancy. When it comes to cancer, those who work out 15 minutes daily are 10 percent less likely to die of it than those who don’t exercise at all. Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise reduces the all-cause mortality risk by another 4 percent and the cancer mortality risk by another 1 percent. “The best thing to do is to not get obese in the first place,” Biggest Loser contestant Phil Parham, who coauthored The 90-Day Fitness Challenge with his wife and co-contestant, Amy Parham, tells The Daily Beast. “Once you’ve been big and you lose weight, your body always wants to regain that weight, so you’re continuing to fight all your life.”

C. P. Wen et al., “Minimum Amount of Physical Activity for Reduced Mortality and Extended Life Expectancy.” The Lancet, 2011, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60749-6.

2. Exercisers can improve their performance by as much as 50 percent if they eat dark chocolate regularly.

At least they can if they’re mice. Researchers fed mice the flavonol epicatechin, a key ingredient in dark chocolate, then put them through two weeks of treadmill tests and observed “an integrated response that includes structural and metabolic changes in skeletal and cardiac muscles resulting in greater endurance capacity.”

Leonardo Nogueira et al., “Epicatechin Enhances Fatigue Resistance and Oxidative Capacity in Mouse Muscle.” Journal of Physiology, 2011, doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.20992.

3. Men who exercise vigorously are only one third as likely to experience erectile dysfunction as men who exercise very little or not at all.

According to the study that yielded this stat, men whose workout routines are the equivalent of running at least three hours a week or playing singles tennis at least five hours a week have a 30 percent lower ED risk than men who exercise very little or not at all. Ready, set, go.

Constance G. Bacon et al., “Sexual Function in Men Older Than 50 Years of Age.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003, 139 (3), 161-168.

4. Depressed people can alleviate their symptoms by as much as 47 percent with regular aerobic exercise.

In one study, a group of depressed people who performed moderately intense aerobic exercises at least three times a week “experienced a decline in depressive symptoms by an average of 47 percent after 12 weeks.” Another group of depressed people performed low-intensity aerobics at least three times weekly; their symptoms improved by 30 percent. “Exercise isn’t just about working off energy. It’s about turning on the brain,” says Harvard psychiatry professor John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. With regular exercise, “people become much more emotionally regulated, and their cognitive abilities are much better.”

Andrea Dunn et al., “Exercise Treatment for Depression.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2005, 28 (1), 1-8.

5. Three times as many college graduates as high-school dropouts exercise regularly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher engage in vigorous leisure-time physical activity three or more times a week, compared with 13 percent of adults with less than a high-school diploma. According to the same survey, 79 percent of high-school dropouts never engage in periods of vigorous leisure-time physical activity, compared with 41 percent of college grads.

J. R. Pleis et al., “Summary Health Statistics for US Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2009.” Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Center for Health Statistics, 2010, 10 (249).

6. Exercisers can improve their performance by as much as 15 percent if they listen to music while working out.

In one study, treadmill walkers moving in time with music felt 15 percent more energetic—and less eager to get off the machine—than treadmill walkers who were not listening to music. According to the sports psychologists who produced this stat, “Music listening can be an effective dissociation strategy, reducing perceptions of effort and fatigue by up to 12 percent.” Dancing makes moving in time with music into more of a party and less of a chore. “In some ways, dancing is the best exercise—it’s really aerobic,” Ratey says.

Costas Karageorghis et al., “The BASES Expert Statement on the Use of Music in Exercise.” British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

7. Waiters and waitresses walk twice as much as lawyers and police officers do on an average working day.

But servers walk only about half as much on an average working day as mail carriers, and about 75 percent as much as janitors. According to researchers with the American Council on Exercise, who highly recommend the use of pedometers, mail carriers walk about eight miles per day, janitors walk just over five, restaurant servers walk four, and cops and lawyers walk about two. According to the ACE study, secretaries walk the least, at 1.7 miles.

John Porcari and Reem Ekhwan, “Do You Do 10K a Day?” American Council on Exercise, Fitness Matters, 2007, 12 (4).

8. Six percent more men than women exercise regularly.

And women are bigger couch potatoes than men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 percent of women in the United States “never engage in periods of vigorous leisure-time physical activity lasting ten minutes or more per week.” For men, that figure is 50 percent. Who in the United States does engage in at least 10 minutes of vigorous leisure-time activity per week? Only 31 percent of men and 25 percent of women.

J. R. Pleis et al., “Summary Health Statistics for US Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2009.” Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Center for Health Statistics, 2010, 10 (249).

9. Workers increase their physical activity by 8 percent and burn 25 more calories on casual-clothing workdays than on workdays when they wear regular office attire.

Who needs suits? “Wearing casual clothing every day for 50 weeks of work would translate into burning an additional 125 calories per week or 6,250 calories per year—the equivalent of almost two pounds,” write the authors of the study that yielded this stat.

John Porcari and Reem Ekhwan, “Do You Do 10K a Day?” American Council on Exercise, Fitness Matters, 2007, 12 (4).

10. People who want to quit smoking are twice as likely to succeed in quitting if they lift weights than if they don’t lift weights.

In the study that yielded this stat, one group of struggling-to-stop smokers engaged in two hours of weight training per week. Another group didn’t exercise, but watched health-related videos instead. Twelve weeks later, 16 percent of the weightlifters had quit smoking. They had also lost weight. Only 8 percent of the nonlifters had quit smoking, and all 8 percent had gained weight. Resistance training is key, says Parham: “Strength training builds muscle, which burns calories and knocks the weight off. Whatever you’re doing, do it more.”

Joseph Ciccolo et al., “Resistance Training as an Aid to Standard Smoking Cessation Treatment: A Pilot Study.” Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 2011, 13 (8), 756-760.

11. Avid swimmers have a 50 percent lower mortality rate than runners, walkers, and people who don’t exercise at all.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health evaluated data spanning 32 years and involving more than 80,000 participants in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. They found that swimming lowers the mortality rate—in men, at least—by about 50 percent. The fact that the nonprofit National Swimming Pool Foundation partly funded this project may or may not be irrelevant.

Steven Blair et al., “Does Regular Swimming Reduce Your Risk of Dying?” Paper presented at the 2008 World Aquatic Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.

12. Astronauts lost 15 percent of muscle mass and 30 percent of muscle performance during six months at the International Space Station, despite their aerobics-focused exercise regimen.

This striking decrease in fitness—along with 30 percent bone-strength loss in some astronauts—is spurring NASA to boost resistance training in space-station workout routines. “While on the ISS, crewmembers had access to a running treadmill, cycle ergometer, and resistance exercise device,” write the authors of this study. “Future long-duration space missions should modify the current ISS exercise prescription and/or hardware to better preserve human skeletal muscle mass and function, thereby reducing the risk imposed to crewmembers.”

Scott Trappe et al., “Exercise in Space: Human Skeletal Muscle After Six Months Aboard the International Space Station.” Journal of Applied Physiology, 2009, 106 (4), 1159-68.

13. Teens who exercise are 36 percent less likely to develop brain tumors than teens who don’t.

Cancer researchers investigating the type of brain tumor known as the glioma found that the risk of developing these is 36 percent lower among people who were physically active during ages 15 to 18 than among people who were physically inactive during those years. The same study found that people who are obese at age 18 are four times as likely to develop gliomas as people who are not obese at 18.

Steven C. Moore et al., “Height, Body Mass Index, and Physical Activity in Relation to Glioma Risk.” Cancer Research, 2009, 69 (21), 8349-55.

14. White Americans exercise 16 percent more than Hispanic Americans and 10 percent more than African-Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “51 percent of non-Hispanic white adults never engage in periods of vigorous leisure-time physical activity, compared with 61 percent of non-Hispanic black adults and 67 percent of Hispanic adults.”

J. R. Pleis et al., “Summary Health Statistics for US Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2009.” Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Center for Health Statistics, 2010, 10 (249).

15. Runners who stretch before running burn 5 percent fewer calories than runners who don’t stretch.

Contrary to what trainers have told us for decades, pre-run stretching isn’t helpful, according to one recent study, which also found that nonstretchers ran 3.4 percent farther than stretchers. “Stretching appears to acutely decrease muscle-force production capacity,” its authors write, citing decreased leg-press performance, vertical jumping height, knee-extensor concentric torque, and maximum plantar flexion torque, which “remained depressed even 60 minutes after the stretching routine.”

Jacob M. Wilson et al., “Effects of Static Stretching on Energy Cost and Running Endurance Performance.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010, 24 (9), 2274-2279.

3 Best Ways to Lose the Baby Weight

Easy ways to lose the baby weight and get back in shape.

OK, Heidi Klum gets her runway body back about five seconds after giving birth, and you’re feeling the pressure to squeeze into your size 10s before returning to work. Listen to us: Most moms don’t reach their pre-pregnancy weight until their babies are 1 year old. Dropping those extra pounds takes time, especially when you’re caring for a new baby and getting adjusted to a new schedule. So don’t be hard on yourself. “Just focus on a healthy lifestyle now,” advises Pamela Berens M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. “Take it one day at a time and become a healthy role model for your child.” Our three-step guide will help you find your waistline again without sacrificing time with your baby—or losing your mind

Step 1: Move It, Mama

Start exercising now. Decades ago, doctors liked to keep women physically restricted after delivery—no more. Short 10- to 20-minute relaxed strolls once you’re home from the hospital—even for Cesarean-section moms who aren’t on painkillers—are good for you, says Dr. Berens. For more formal workouts, Dr. Berens recommends waiting six weeks. “You’re not going to feel well before then,” she says. “Six weeks gives your body enough time to heal after labor and delivery.”All those diaper changes and midnight feedings aresure to have you frazzled, and stress can actually prevent you from losing weight. Exercise is a tried-and-true stress-buster. “Getting some type of exercise will help you feel alive again,” says Dr. Berens. “You’ll lower your risk for both postpartum depression and obesity.”

How Hard Are You Working?

Use this guide to gauge how much effort to put into your stroller workout. Aim to work out between a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 3 to 7. Remember: When doing the stroller walk, you shouuld be able to speak to your baby without gasping for air.

  1. No effort
  2. Light effort
  3. Very easy/comfortable
  4. Light to moderate effort
  5. Moderate to strong effort (you become aware of your breathing)
  6. Strong effort (you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation
  7. Very strong effort (you can only talk in short sentences)
  8. Challenging (you can’t utter more than a phrase at a time)
  9. Unable to talk (You can only keep up this intensity for very short spurts)
  10. Maxed out (lightheaded even)

Stroller Coaster: An Easy 26-Minute Workout (No Babysitter Needed!)

We asked Kristen Horler, the founder of Baby Boot Camp, to design a quick, easy stroller workout for new moms of any shape or size. “With this workout, you can go at your own pace because it doesn’t matter what fitness level you’re starting at,” says Horler, whose popular Baby Boot Camp classes are offered nationwide. “Plus, there’s no guilt about leaving your baby.” In the beginning, do this 26-minute stroller workout three times each week. If you’re breastfeeding, nurse your baby before the workout so you won’t have to stop along the way.

Beginner: Crawling

Warm-Up: 5 minutes

Walk at a moderate pace, keeping your shoulders back, your spine long (not rounded) and your stroller 6 to 10 inches from your hips.

The interval walk: 18 minutes

Step One: Walk at a challenging pace for 30 seconds.Your rate of perceived exertion should be a 5 or 6 .

Step Two: Walk for 60 seconds at a slower pace. Your RPE should be a 4 or 5 . Alternate steps one and two 12 times (18 minutes total).

Cool down: 3 minutes

Slow down and walk at an easy pace. Your RPE should be a 2 .

Moderate: Cruising

When you feel like your breathing isn’t challenged anymore (this could take five days or five weeks or longer, depending on your fitness level), increase steps one and two to 45 and 90 seconds each. This will make your workout nine minutes longer. Don’t forget to cool down.

Advanced: Full-On Toddling

After you’re accustomed to your new interval times of 45 and 90 seconds (usually after about four to six weeks for a woman of average-level fitness), boost your intensity to a 6 or 7 on the RPE scale. When you feel like you can handle it, increase the duration and frequency of your stroller workouts: Add minutes to your present workout and then add a fourth, then a fifth day. But never increase the duration, frequency and intensity at the same time, suggests Horler. Choose one, get comfortable with your new level, then boost it with additional minutes, extra days or more RPE intensity when you feel ready.

Stroll Call When using a stroller to work out, just any old ride won’t do. What you use depends on your baby’s age and physical development. Always check that she’s strapped in properly before hitting the pavement.

0 to 6 months

“Infants don’t develop good head and neck control until they’re about 6 months old,” says Alison S. Tothy M.D., medical director of the pediatric emergency department at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “Before that, use a stroller that reclines fully so your baby can lie flat on her back. You can use a bassinet stroller for a walking workout or a leisurely saunter.

6 months plus

Medical experts say your infant should be at least 6 months old, able to sit up and have good head/neck control to withstand the potentially bumpy ride of a workout in a jogging stroller.”For a more stable ride, opt for a jogging stroller with three 12- to 16-inch inflatable wheels,” Horler recommends. Keep in mind that just because a stroller has three wheels doesn’t mean it’s safe for running. Check the user’s manual before doing more than walking.

Step 2: Eat Smart

Believe it or not, you’re still eating for two. Even if you’re not nursing, you need energy to care for your baby and yourself. Plus, you probably already know that what a breastfeeding mom eats can affect her baby’s food preferences (eat broccoli and baby is more likely to enjoy it too), but a new study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that when mom ate healthful fare she became a better role model for her children, who were less fussy and picky at mealtime and showed more interest in eating. Food can energize you—or make you feel sluggish. (Remember how you felt after that last big bowl of buttery pasta?) Even though a late afternoon candy bar, cookie or caramel frappuccino may revive you at first, steer clear! Refined carbs and sugary foods will make your blood sugar spike, then crash, says Dawn Jackson Blatner R.D., L.D.N., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. That makes you feel hungrier sooner and more likely to reach for another candy bar to quash the pangs. Eat smart by choosing foods packed with nutrients like filling produce, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

5 Energizing Meals

  1. A turkey sandwich on a toasted whole-wheat bagel with tomato and onion slices, romaine lettuce and low-fat mayonnaise and mustard, an orange and a glass of low-fat milk.
  2. A grilled lean hamburger patty on a whole-wheat sesame roll with grilled onions, pickles and lettuce with grilled zucchini wedge stopped with parmesan cheese.
  3. A whole-grain pita pocket filled with canned white beans (drained and rinsed), arugula, tomatoes and drizzled with prepared pesto sauce and a peach for dessert.
  4. A bowl of oatmeal (or any whole-grain cereal) topped with berries and low-fat milk.
  5. A cup of lentil soup, a vegetable salad sprinkled with olive oil and vinegar and topped with a grilled chicken breast and a whole-wheat roll on the side.

10 Super Snacks to Energize You

  1. 12 to 18 baby carrots and four tablespoons of hummus.
  2. Two tablespoons each of slivered almonds and raisins mixed with½ cup of Wheaties.
  3. Five whole-grain crackers topped with natural peanut butter (which has no sugar or trans fats) and banana slices.
  4. A 16-ounce skim, low-fat or soy latte.
  5. String cheese and a pear or apple.
  6. A hard-boiled egg on a slice of whole-grain toast and ½ cup of grapes.
  7. A corn or whole-wheat tortilla and a slice of low-fat cheese with salsa.
  8. An orange and two or three slices of low-sodium turkey.
  9. 6 ounces low-fat plain Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup of berries and one tablespoon of sunflower seeds.
  10. 10 Four celery stalks topped with one teaspoon of natural peanut butter.

Step 3: Free Your Mind

Simply put, you’re probably stressed, and it sucks. Here’s why: When you’re worried or feel like you have no control over what’s happening in your life, your body reacts by releasing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. When you’re in physical danger, these hormones give you the strength to run from enemies. But if the stress is in response to frequent emotional demands, as is the case with new moms, these hormones build up and cause fatigue, listlessness, irritability and weight retention or gain (sigh). High levels of cortisol make you crave fatty, sweet, salty, crunchy foods. We know your free time is fleeting, but try a few of these stress-busters and you just might find you have more energy to care for your baby and feel better emotionally. You might even shed some pounds.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps

That means letting your mom do the laundry (or let it pile up) and your husband do the dishes. The extra sleep will help your body wash out stress hormones. Any missed sleep can induce insulin resistance, a condition that negatively affects your metabolism and ability to burn calories, according to a new study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The Lowdown on the Rubdown

If you don’t have time or money for a spa visit, ask your partner or a friend to give you a massage. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recently published a study showing that adults who received a deep-tissue massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases in the feel-good hormone called oxytocin.

Go Outside

If weather permits, shift your baby’s playtime to the great outdoors. Here’s why: Spending time active in a green space increase happiness and decreases your level of stress hormones. Just five minutes spent anywhere outdoors led to improved mood, self-esteem and well-being, according to a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Six Minutes of “Me Time”

New research shows that just six minutes of reading can soothe frazzled nerves and reduce stress levels by 68 percent. If books aren’t your thing, turn on your iPod. Music listeners in the same study decreased stress levels by 61 percent. Or simply make a cup of tea, sit by yourself and drink it. That alone will cut your stress in half. The key is getting lost in a distraction (whether it be Dostoevsky, Lady Gaga,Earl Grey or this magazine), which will slow your heart rate and breathing—the physiological changes that promote relaxation.

Your Favorite Stress-Busters:

  • Exercise (walking, yoga, running,dancing, jumping rope,stretching, squatting, taking a cardio class).
  • Hot shower or bath.
  • Computer time (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, blogs).
  • Reading.
  • A cup of coffee or tea in a quiet place.

26 Ways to Live Life to the Fullest

Act like a kid

Sometimes being a grown-up is, well, boring. Yes, you should pay your bills, make your deadlines, and clean your apartment, but make sure to leave time to be a little silly and have fun. “Even jumping on your bike for an afternoon ride with friends will make you feel more carefree,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Add More -Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness

Be still

Whether you meditate or just take some quiet time to yourself, being still may help you embrace the moment and appreciate your life. “Being still reminds you that life isn’t about racing as fast as you can to get to the end of your to-do list,” says James Baraz, a meditation instructor and founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, Calif.

Find your inner optimist

Even die-hard glass-half-empty people can have a sunnier lookout if they work at it. Don’t obsess over bad news or your finances; instead, shine your attention on areas of your life for which you are profoundly grateful.

Get some lovin’

Regular romps are more than just fun and games. Sex is great for your health. It can satisfy all sorts of emotional and physical intimacy needs and helps partners stay close, says Anita H. Clayton, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia and author of Satisfaction: Women, Sex, and the Quest for Intimacy.

Take a hike

Literally. There’s nothing better than a hike to remind yourself that there’s more to life than an annoying commute and pesky coworkers. It’s a win-win. You can be blown away by the awesome power and beauty of nature, while giving your quads a workout.

Work your muscles

Not only does working out do wonders for your body, but physical activity also improves your overall well-being and health. “Exercise, yoga, or any kind of regular movement helps get you out of your head,” says James Baraz, a meditation instructor and founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, Calif. “In addition to being a healthy activity, it triggers endorphins that have a profound effect on lifting your spirits. It makes you come alive.”

Get over a grudge

Don’t waste precious time or energy nursing a grudge. Everyone gets mad now and then, but staying mad is more likely to harm you than the one who triggered your ire. “In life, you get a choice between being right and being happy,” says Philip H. Friedman, PhD, author of The Forgiveness Solution.

Make time for your pooch

Simple activities, like hugging you dog or cat, can put you in a good mood. Petting a dog for just 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol, a University of Missouri—Columbia study suggests.

Indulge in food you love

You’ve heard it before: Healthy eating is all about moderation, so that means you don’t have to deny yourself the foods you love. Just indulge in a smart way. “Depriving a sweet tooth is a recipe for disaster,” says celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels. “Don’t cut things out so you binge later. Instead, try allotting up to a fifth of your daily calorie allowance to the sweet of your choice.”

Sing out strong

Whether you’re in the shower, in your car, or on a public stage, belt out a tune. You’re a terrible singer, you say? Irrelevant. (A million karaoke lovers never let that hold them back.) Research suggests that an organ in the inner ear is connected to a part of the brain that registers pleasure. So singing may make you happier, even if you’re no Beyonce.

Find fresh air

Make time to go outside during the day, rain or shine. Just 30 minutes in the sun can boost your mood, according to a University of Michigan study. But even on wintery days, a breath of fresh air is, well, refreshing.

Catch some z’s

Don’t feel guilty about catching a few extra hours of shut-eye. Sleep boosts your mood, improves your memory, sharpens your focus, and can help you maintain a healthy weight. The health benefits of a good night’s sleep improve your quality of life.

Read a book

Take the time to sit and read, a practice that previous generations recognized as a necessity, not a luxury. You can aim to get in touch with what’s really important in life (Henry David Thoreau’s Walden is good for that), learn something new, or just go for pure escapism with the latest frothy romance or beach-read paperback.

Get artsy

Have you always wanted to paint, but don’t know where to start? Visit your local art store and get going. Participants in a Boston College study became happier when they distracted themselves by creating artwork that expressed their negative feelings. Writing in a journal has been shown to have a similar effect.

Share your goals

If you want to make things happen, spread the word! Tell your family and friends about your goals. Your loved ones can hold you accountable and help you stick to your guns. Sonja Lyubomirksy, PhD, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, believes this ups your chances of success.

Get out of town

Plan your getaway for a week or just a weekend. A 2009 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that engaging in enjoyable leisure-time activities can lower stress hormones and blood pressure. Plus, it’s fun.

Unplug and go tech free

Put away the cell phone, turn off the television, and shut down the computer. Constant exposure to technology can overwhelm your nervous system, says Alan Keck, PsyD, of the Center for Positive Psychology, in Orlando, Fla. Take a few days, or even just a day, to live life without these distractions. You might be surprised at how nice it is to relax without the noise and interruption.

Give back

Help yourself by helping others. People feel good when they do good, “but research now shows that giving is good for you emotionally and physically,” says Margaret Clark, PhD, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Yale University, in New Haven, Conn.

Find a hobby

Although hobbies seem almost quaint in our purpose-driven world, spending time on an activity you enjoy—just because—is a great idea. “A good hobby makes you lose all sense of time and self, liberating you from the every day,” says Andrea Pennington, an integrative medicine physician and wellness coach.

Sit down and eat

The Italians have practically made this an art form. They know that preparing and eating meals together can help you bond with others, and just all around enjoy life more. If your crazy schedule seems to never leave room for a sit-down meal, opt for easy prep meals and fit them in on weekends.

Schedule fun every day

You can enjoy life without taking an extravagant vacation. Each morning, think, “What can I do today that will make it an amazing day?” suggests life coach Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life. Create your own personal list of simple pleasures, and work them into your day.

Wake up with yoga

Shake up your morning routine with a natural energy booster: yoga! Several poses allow you to take in more oxygen and stimulate your muscles and adrenal glands, raising your energy levels. Yoga also increases your flexibility and strength, relieves stress, and improves your mood.

Pick a perfect snack

Snacking between meals can curb hunger and satisfy your cravings. So when your stomach starts to rumble, go for it! Whether you’re in the mood for salty or sweet, healthy snacking is a great way to sneak extra nutrients into your day.

Soothe yourself with sound

Need to chill out? Try listening to some tunes. In a 2010 study, researchers found that soft, soothing music reduces anxiety as well as a massage does. Plus, hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, which is good for your heart.

Get social

Prioritize time together with friends. Whether you go out or stay in, it’s important to let your hair down and blow off steam every once in a while with your pals.

Make negativity a no-no

Turn your to-do list into an adventure, without letting negativity get in your way. Push all doubts to the side and write down your thoughts and feelings. “You’ll boost your self-esteem and happiness by gaining control of your situation,” says Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot. This will pave the way for you to get excited about doing everything you have to do.

RER’s New Healthy Chapter

Hello! I am pretty excited about this… I decided to become a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I have actually thought about this for YEARS and years . But then ol’ RER took off and kept me super busy and I kinda pushed it aside.


Recently it’s been nagging at me again. I am obsessed with learning about health and food and balance and helping people. I really want to take my knowledge further. And I want to align myself with others who are passionate about healthy living.

My personal issues with binge eating and more recently hypothyroidism, have required me to do tons of research, self care and trial and error to find out how to keep myself healthy. It’s been a very long journey to learn what my binge eating triggers are and how to fuel myself in a healthy way.

I’m still working on eating the best diet for my thyroid issues (a recent blood test actually showed my T4 is now low – in the past it was just my T3). My family physician doesn’t have a ton of information on the best nutrition for thyroid issues and has always encouraged me to read up on it myself. I feel like becoming a health coach in combination with overcoming my own obstacles open up an opportunity for me to help you/my friends/strangers in the supermarket…

I know I have so much to learn. But given my personal experiences, I have so much to share. And after researching the program and their instructors I decided to just go for it!


I have signed up for the next session starting in July. It’s a year long virtual program. I was lucky enough to hear about a Memorial Day discount that took a lot of $$$ off tuition and IIN is offering to give that same discount to anyone who signs up and mentions me (Monica Olivas not necessarily Run Eat Repeat, but maybe that would work too). I did a lot of research so if you’re interested you can also email me with your questions.

So yeah… let’s see how this goes!

Related… now I have to mention this to Ben as I just realized I didn’t tell him yet. Monican is busted!


In other news…. Florida is still hot and beautiful and fun! I had to stay inside for most of the morning to get work done, but I’m planning on heading back out to take a walk and soak up the salty air right after I’m done with this post.beach-florida-rainbow-671x503_thumb

And Corey and I went snorkeling yesterday! Sadly I went at the worst time and it wasn’t very clear. I did see some Sheepshead fish! But I should try it again asap!


Question: When was the last time you went snorkeling?

Fun fact: I’m too scared to do SCUBA diving. For now at least.

Healthy Lifestyle tips!

Below are five simple tips from the book to achieving a healthy lifestyle:

1) Befriend Your Body: Your body is the best guide to your wellness decisions. In addition to what studies and research shows, understanding your body’s messages will help you make accurate decisions to achieve perfect wellness.

2) Exercise to Energize Not to Exhaust: It is important to exercise in order to feel energized. Working out obsessively to the point of exhaustion is not the answer. Also, exercising out of guilt is ineffective and short lived. Exercising to look and feel good helps to achieve a more effectively healthy lifestyle.

3) Connect With Nature: As within so without. Nature is really an extension of the human body and is a great way to also connect with oneself. The more we create time for being outdoors and close to nature the better our foundation will be, to listen to our bodies.

4) Trust Your Own Feelings: Your feelings never lie. If you allow yourself to access how your body is feeling when you imagine a specific choice, food, or lifestyle decision, you will be guided to the best option. Envision and choose what feels right and relaxing for your body.

5) Don’t Make Decisions Out of Fear: Many of us make diet and lifestyle choices out of fear of what might go wrong if we eat something unhealthy or if we don’t workout. Changing the perspective from fear to love for the body helps us to make naturally better decisions and create long lasting wellness.

What are some tips you would like to share that have helped you achieve a healthy lifestyle???

10 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Lifestyle

Now that warmer weather is on the horizon, so to may be the quest to get bathing suit-ready before summer. Instead of focusing on one, or two, specific areas for physical improvement, we suggest simply looking for a happier, healthier lifestyle in general. Consider implementing these tips into your daily life to promote a wider sense of well-being in all areas of your life.

1. Focus on your “haves” versus your “have-nots”
This is one of the simplest, yet completely free, changes you can implement in your life that can achieve profound results in your attitude and daily outlook. In a consumer-driven society that promotes comparison, it’s easy to see what looks so appealing about that grass on the other side of the fence. By stopping to focus on all the good things already present in your life, you’ll be more likely to feel content and appreciative instead of jealous or unsatisfied, making it easier to…

2. Exercise inner peace
One of the easiest ways to find greater contentment as well as giving your mind a chance for a mentaldeep breath is to connect to whatever gives you peace and harmony. Whether you pray, meditate, listen to music, or practice yoga, it is essential in today’s hectic pace of living to take a few moments to center yourself, to give thanks for your blessings, and to clear the negative thoughts from your mind.

3. Seize the day
“Carpe Diem” has been quoted for centuries to remind people that they should make the most of the present. Many of us are so quick to focus on the past or future that it’s easy to miss out on all the joy and experience of the present moment. Watching your child pick flowers, experiencing a sunset, savoring a delicious meal, listening to a beautiful piece of music, or laughing at the silly antics of your pet can’t be fully appreciated if your mind is elsewhere. Concentrate on the present and seize the day!

4. Move your body
If a formal hour long gym class truly motivates you, then by all means… sign yourself up! If, like many people, you simply drag yourself to the gym because it seems like the only way to get some exercise in, you’re wrong! Exercise can have profound mental and physical benefits, but those are minimized if you’re forcing yourself to do something you hate. Go for a hike or swim, do pilates, jog with your dog, stroll through a park, or take part in any other activity you find enjoyable that engages your body while freeing your mind.

5. Treat your body kindly
So many of us are incredibly hard on ourselves and so quick to criticize our bodies. Yet again, focus on the good and the areas that you love about yourself. Whether it’s your strong legs that carry you for miles each year or your bodacious bottom that so many of us would kill for, embrace yourself and be thankful for your health.


6. Feed your body well
While we are all aware of the need for more vegetables in our diet, many of us still fall victim to a busy lifestyle and the need for convenience. Look for easy ways to substitute healthy, natural foods for the packaged, processed items in your life. The less processed your food, the more likely you are to enjoy better overall health, clearer skin, and a healthy weight.

7. Be kind to your skin
Many women abuse their skin for years and then are frustrated with how it appears later in life when wrinkles, spots, and dryness begin to “show their age.” Do what you can to minimize those issues by implementing good skincare practices. Check in with a dermatologist from time to time and remember to properly wash, cleanse, and moisturize.

8. Wear sunscreen without fail
Speaking of skin care, one of the biggest health-related mistakes people make is not being consistent with wearing sunscreen, all day, every day, not just when you’re going to the beach. If you’re using a daily moisturizer (like you should be) make sure it has SPF or apply an additional sunscreen. Without realizing it, your skin can be easily damaged by sunlight filtering through car or office windows, while you’re walking down the street, or sitting on the sidelines of your child’s soccer game.

9. Up your dental ante
It’s so easy to go to bed without brushing, and those of us who floss and rinse on the recommended daily basis are probably pretty far and few between. With good dental health linked to everything from the obvious decrease in tooth decay to the prevention of heart disease, this is a 5 minute health routine that will reap beautiful benefits.

10. Indulge
It goes without saying that you can’t subsist on fries, wine, and chocolate alone, but if you’re in celebration mode or nursing a broken heart, it won’t kill you to indulge from time to time. Similarly, you shouldn’t blow your entire budget on new purses every month, but if you just got that hard-earned raise, treating yourself to something is totally justifiable. Remember that some of the best indulgences in life are free, though–some long overdue girl talk or spending some extra play time with your kids?


Ten Ways to Lose Weight in Taipei

Since I moved to Taipei last year, everyone has been telling me how easy it is to gain weight here.  My life here consists of ten course banquets (with red wine or kaoliang liquor for toasting), four or five course lunches, snacking at night markets, sweet treats from bakeries for breakfast (or anytime), and the occasional Western-style feast.

When I first arrived here, I was inundated with banquets.  Like monsoonal rain, the banquets followed one after another in a never-ending deluge.  My boss pointedly told me that I was eating for my country — eating was just part of the culture here and something I would get used to it.  (I did adapt, probably too readily because deep down I really love to eat.)  But I am determined to prove that I can in fact be a gourmet — and enjoy it — while still losing weight.

Last year, I briefly resorted to an acupuncture based diet.  This was very effective, but not something I recommend as a long-term strategy as it makes the Atkin’s diet look easy.  I had some moderate success with weight loss this year, but became reacquainted with chocolate during a winter trip back to Australia during the northern summer.  But have now refocused, have a goal of reducing a further 5 kg by October.

So, here are my top ten reasons why you can still have your Taiwanese cake, eat it and still lose weight:

  1. The fruit here is fabulous.  Once upon a time I had to force myself to eat a piece of fruit a day, while now I would easily eat three or even four serves.  Taiwan is tropical fruit heaven, with famous fruits including bananas, Tainan mangos, guavas, paw paws (papayas), wax apples, pomelos, dragon fruit, pineapples, persimmons, passion fruit and giant Fuji apples to name a few.  Many formal meals finish with fruit rather than sugary desserts.
  2. Serving sizes are usually small.  Restaurants serve rice in small bowls, and the average stir-fry dish is about half the size of that back home in Australia.  Thankfully, Taiwan has not yet widely adopted the trend of over-sized serving plates.  And in formal banquets, you will usually have a small amount plated up for each course with an option to top up with more.  So long as you pace yourself and avoid filling up on the entree dishes, you can generally avoid over eating.
  3. Taiwan is a great place for walking.  Or hiking, as for the more energetic of us there are plenty of hiking trails in the hills — especially around Taipei.  But you do not have to go far to enjoy walking, and it is easy to incorporate a few extra brisk paces into your daily life.  In recent years, public transport has improved and urban renewal projects  have upgraded the pavements in some areas (notably Xinyi), making it easy to get around on two feet.  And it is generally safe to walk around at night, with lots of people out and about in the evening.
  4. There are heaps of fabulous vegetarian restaurants.  I have not yet reviewed many vegetarian restaurants, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them.  Actually, I always head to my local vegetarian restaurant on those rare days when I forget to bring a lunch box (in Taiwan they are called ‘bian dang’, 便當, derived from the Japanese ‘bento box’).  Not all vegetarian dishes are healthy, but there are usually a wider range of options to choose from.  Buddhism is the most popular religion in Taiwan, and while not all Buddhists are vegetarian, many people try to eat vegetarian food on the first and the fifteenth of each lunar month.
  5. Instead of white rice, opt for a serve of brown rice (糙 米飯), or even better a recently trendy grain mix such as five grain rice (五穀飯) or ten grain rice (十穀飯).  Whole grain combinations are becoming increasingly popular with those seeking to reduce their refined carbohydrates, in part because of a growing diabetes problem.
  6. When eating out there is no need to finish everything you order, and it is quite okay to ask restaurants to pack up leftovers to take home.  Some of the more upmarket restaurants even have custom-made containers for this purpose.  Most Taiwanese hate waste — especially food waste — and will understand if you do not rush to eat everything.
  7. Most Taiwanese food is on the whole not as oily — or salty — as other Asian cuisines.  And the use of MSG is not as ubiquitous, either.  (This reminds me of a recent New York Times article about mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan.  On arrival, the tour guide advised the Chinese visitors that …”our Taiwanese brothers do not like salt, oil and MSG the way we do”.)
  8. Desserts are not as sweet as in Western countries, usually feature fruit and are served in small portions.  This does not make desserts healthy, but at least it minimizes their bad effects.
  9. Not all fast food in Taiwan is necessarily bad.  Of course, you can find major Western fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC, but there are plenty of healthier options as well.  Taiwan’s ‘snack’ (小吃) culture means that something to eat is never far away, but the servings are usually small and there is enough variety to ensure healthy choices.  Most food courts have several Taiwanese style dishes such as stir-fries and noodle soups, and even night markets will have healthier choices such as fruit juices and lean(ish) grilled foods.
  10. The Japanese influence means that the Taiwanese diet has adopted many healthy qualities.  The traditional Taiwanese diet consists largely of seafood, vegetables, tofu, fruit and rice, with not very much meat in the diet.  Taiwanese have also adopted the Japanese (Okinawan) concept of eating until you are only eighty percent full (in Japanese Hara Hachi Bu).  Which means that even thought there is a lot of food, people do not habitually stuff themselves full.

So, now I have no excuses for not following my weight loss plan.  What are your favorite tips for eating healthy and reducing weight?

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