Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New You!

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to get your attention with the title Happy New You!, instead of the traditional Happy New Year!  Many people, including myself, do look forward to self-improvement in the new year, so the title works for me.

I know that many people don't like New Year's Resolutions, and I understand why.  It's too broad of a topic, and why must we wait until January to come up with goals for self-improvement?  The latter should be an ongoing event.  Perhaps we should start to reflect on the week behind us, and try to improve the week ahead of us. 

Here's the deal, what works best is when goals are stated in specific and measurable amounts.  Instead of, "I'm going to work out more," it should be something like:  "I will schedule at least three one hour workouts a week."  Instead of, "I'm going to start eating better,"  it should be something like:  "Every Sunday I will make a weekly menu; a grocery list; go shopping for those foods; and do some early preparation of some of the items."  Or, "I'll try one vegetarian recipe a week." 

One obvious goal for me is:  No surgeries in 2014.  I had three surgeries in 2013.  That's enough for awhile!  I will share another goal with you, because studies have shown that people stick to their goals better if they share them with a friend or loved one.  No popcorn for me, after dinner, for 5 of the 7 days of the week, between now and February 27, (the day we leave for a nice long vacation).  Believe it or not, this is going to be quite a challenge for me.  I think I could marry popcorn, if it were a person. 

Here are some healthy tips to share:
*Many of you know that cardio workouts work better at chipping away the belly fat than target area exercises (like crunches).  That's because you need to burn away the fat that is lying on top of the muscle.  Well, the best type of workout for chipping away the 'ol muffin top is intervals.  In a study reported by the International Journal of Obesity, the women who alternated cycling as fast as possible for 8 seconds with 12 second rest periods, during 20 minute workouts, lost 9.5% fat off of their mid-sections. Yowzer!  I just wish the article I read had reported how many days (or workouts) the study covered.  Anyway, interval training can be included in any type of cardio exercise you choose.  And, it makes sense that this type of workout would burn more fat.  The other obvious way to lose the fat is by eating less calories, of course.

*If you've ever wondered which is better- lifting free weights, or using the weight machines at the gym, free weights is the winner.  Lifting a free weight requires input from more muscle fibers, in order to keep you steady, which in turn recruits more muscles.  There's a good argument for having a few hand weights around your house to use during TV commercials!

*Do you drink more than one serving of diet soda per day?  If you do, you might develop kidney problems. The Harvard Medical School scientists studied more than 3,200 women. Those women who drank two or more servings of diet soda per day had a 30% decrease in kidney function.  This decline was not seen in the women who drank regular soda, so the scientists believe that  artificial sweetener was the culprit.  That's enough evidence for me!

All for now.  I hope 2014 is starting out well for you.  I wish you the best in any of your efforts to improve your health.

Mary R.