Author Archives: wcscoaches

Drink Up!

Summer is practically here and on some days we’re already sweating the moment we step outside. As temperatures rise, it is even more important to consume enough fluids in order to prevent dehydration.  Dehydration can make us feel tired, but at worst puts us at risk of heat related illness.

Keep in mind, beverages such as sodas, juices, and sweetened teas are a major source of added sugar and therefore extra calories.  Opt to reduce or eliminate sugar sweetened beverages and choose healthier alternatives to meet the rest of your fluid needs. Here are a few helpful tips to stay hydrated:

BYOB- Bring Your Own (Water) Bottle

It is an excellent idea to invest in a water bottle!  Carrying a water bottle throughout the day will make hydrating convenient and easy.  It can also help prevent you from purchasing sugar sweetened beverages while you are out and about, because you know you already have a beverage with you!  Also, it can be eco-friendly to ditch the disposable bottles!

Skip the juice and infuse

 

Some people may not enjoy the bland taste of water. Although 100% fruit juice might sound like a convenient way to get a serving of fruit for the day, it usually isn’t the best option. Juice has a more concentrated amount of sugar and a lot less fiber than the whole fruit, which adds extra calories without the satiation we receive from eating and chewing. A great way to still get a fruity flavor while cutting back on calories is to infuse your water with fresh or frozen fruits! Try adding slices of citrus fruits to you water, such as lemons, or opt for frozen tropical fruits such as pineapple or mango.

How much fluid do you need?

Fluid needs vary for everyone and depend on factors such as health status, activity level, gender, and where you live. On average, it is recommended that women consume 9 cups of fluid per day, and men consume 12.5 cups of fluids per day. This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that around 20% of this fluid usually comes from the food you eat such as fresh fruits and vegetables!

Be sure to stay alert for signs of dehydration such as light-headedness, headaches, increased thirst, decreased urine output, and other symptoms.  Also, talk with your doctor about your fluid needs because certain populations such as women who are pregnant, older individuals, those with certain disease states, and children may have varying fluid needs.

Resources:

IOM Fluid Recommendations http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx

Why are you still awake?

Smart phones and other electronics are becoming essential parts of our everyday lives. Many times, before we even realize it, we’ve been scrolling through emails, social media, or engaging in group texts and an hour has gone by. While staying connected helps many people work remotely in companies they love and keep family members connected who are states away, staying on our phones day in and day out does have some negative consequences. One of which is how it affects our sleep. Screen exposure, especially around bedtime, has been shown to be associated with lower quality of sleep.

Avoid the Blue Light

Most of the electronics we use today, such as cell phones, tablets, and televisions emit a type of light called blue light. This blue light restricts our brains from releasing the hormone, melatonin, which influences our body’s circadian rhythm and tells our bodies when it is time to go to sleep. In order to avoid this disruption in rhythm, it’s a good idea to stop using electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed. If you are one to send last minute text messages or emails before going to sleep, you should check to see if your phone has a “night mode” setting. Many smartphones today have been updated to let you adjust the light emitted from your phone to a warmer, yellow colored light. This yellow light will help prevent melatonin production from being suppressed, meaning you will get a better night’s rest.

Also, if you tend to wake up during the night, try to resist the urge to reach for your phone.  Even though the night mode may help, it’s still better to try to a simple meditation such as counting your breaths or writing down your worries to help your mind calm back down to sleep.

Stretch Instead

If you decide to stop the screen time before bed, a great alternative is to stretch! Doing light stretches before bed can help you relax and get rid of the tension built up during the day. It can be as simple as touching your toes or lifting and resting the back of your legs against the wall. Your mind and body will thank you the next morning.

How much sleep do we really need?

Everybody’s sleep requirements vary depending on multiple factors, but on average, adults function best when they get around 7-9 hours of sleep. If you notice yourself feeling tired or sleepy on a typical day, you may need to add an extra hour of sleep to your schedule.

Sources:

National Sleep Foundation “Electronics in the Bedroom” https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/electronics-the-bedroom

Take the Plunge for Summer Fitness

What better way to exercise this summer than in a nice, cool pool! Water-based exercises are an excellent way to get aerobic physical activity (aka “cardio”) with little sweat.  Also, completing two and a half hours of aerobic physical activity each week, such as swimming, can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and improve your mood.

Since your body is buoyant (able to float) in water, you may have an easier time moving around and improving your flexibility during water-based exercises. The resistance you experience when moving in water can help strengthen your muscles. Water-based exercises may be ideal for people experiencing joint or muscle pain.

Try these aquatic exercises the next time you go to the pool:

  1. Water jogging

In chest or waist high water, walk 10-20 steps forward, then walk 10-20 steps backward. Challenge yourself by increasing your speed. If you are looking for a higher-intensity workout, try jogging in place. Alternate jogging and walking for variety!

  1. Lunges

In waist high water, take an over-sized large step forward, bending the knees, without letting the forward knee get past your toes. Return to a standing position and repeat with the other leg. For more variation, try doing side lunges by taking a step to the side instead of forward, making sure you are keeping your toes pointing forward. Try 3 sets of 10 lunges.

  1. Sidestepping

In chest or waist high water, take sideways steps with your toes and body facing forward. Take 10-20 steps in one direction and then do the same in the opposite direction. Try repeating each direction twice.

  1. Hip Kicks

Standing straight and holding onto the pool wall to one side of your body for support, kick 1 leg forward with your knee straight and return to the starting position. Next, do the same kicking movement, but instead of kicking forward, kick to the side. Last, kick behind you, maintaining the straight knee, then return to the starting position. Try doing 3 sets of 10 for each leg.

  1. Standing knee lift

Standing with the pool wall behind you, and both feet on the floor, lift 1 knee up to the same level as your hip, and then straighten your knee. Bend and straighten your knee 10 times, then repeat on the other leg. For increased difficulty, try doing this exercise without standing against the wall. Try doing 3 sets of 10 for each leg.

There are plenty other water based exercises to try. You can even invest in a few pool tools, such as styrofoam noodles and kick boards to add more variety to your exercise routine.  And if the gym you attend has a pool, inquire about pool based fitness classes. Have a splash!

*Always talk with your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine. 

All About the Chia

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! Furry chia hair pets are what usually come to mind when we hear the word “chia,” and yes, if you let this seed grow it will eventually make your pet — but did you know that eating them will provide you with a rich dose of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants? A member of the mint family, this little seed is known as a super food because of its dense nutrient profile. Here is a quick guide to what nutrients are found in the chia seed:

  • Fiber: Just 2 tablespoons will provide men with 29% of their daily recommended intake and 44% for women. Specifically, the chia seed is high in insoluble fiber. Fiber is important to help keep bowel movements regular and reduce constipation. Additionally, insoluble fiber has been linked with reduced risk of diabetes.Chia seeds
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Known as essential fatty acids, our bodies are unable to produce these acids so it’s essential that we get these nutrients from our diet. Omega-3s and 6s play an important role in cell structure. Recent research is starting to look at the potential benefits of the fatty acids in chia seeds and a link with improved blood pressure, heart health, and blood sugar regulation.
  • Iron, Calcium, and Magnesium: Two tablespoon can provide 27% of your daily iron needs, as well as 18% calcium, and 24% magnesium. Iron is important for the health of our red blood cells. Calcium is important for bone, nerve, and muscle health. Magnesium plays many roles in the body, including DNA and cell health, as well as, metabolism regulation.
  • High in Protein: A plant base source of protein, the seed itself is 19% protein. Additionally, it’s gluten free, so it’s a great option for those with an intolerance to gluten.

So how do you prepare these little guys?

A unique feature of chia seeds is their ability to absorb water and form a gel – making them perfect for smoothies, pudding, and milkshakes. They can also be sprinkled over salads, fruits, oatmeal, or cereal.  Recently, more and more recipes are popping up that replace fat with chia seeds. These recipes include pancakes, cookies, cereal bars, breads, baked goods and more!

Fun fact: “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength.

Recipe: Banana Wild Blueberry Smoothie with Chia Seeds

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon soaked chia seeds (1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 small banana (about 4 ounces without the skin)
  • ½ cup frozen organic wild blueberries
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond, soy, or skim/2%)
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Preparation

  1. To soak the chia seeds, place in a jar or bowl and add 4 tablespoons water for every tablespoon of chia seeds. Place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The seeds and water will be become gelatinous.
  2. Scoop up a tablespoon of seeds with the gooey liquid and place in a blender (don’t worry, your smoothie won’t have this consistency). Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 1 full minute at high-speed.

Adapted from: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014742-banana-wild-blueberry-smoothie-with-chia-seeds

Hello Sunshine

Most people know of the importance of sunscreen and sun protection, but with so much conflicting information, it’s hard to understand exactly what’s what – so we’ve created this quick guide to get you and your skin through the summer.

UVA vs UVB Rays: The first thing to know is that not all rays are created equal, however, both have links to cancer. UVA rays are also linked to aging and wrinkles, while UVB rays are linked with sunburns (think A=aging and B=burning).  While all sunscreens provide some UVB ray protection, not all sunscreens protect from UVA rays. To protect yourself from both, check the label for:

  • “Broad-band spectrum” – means that both rays are covered
  • “If used as directed with other sun protection measures, this product reduces the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, as well as helps prevent sunburn.”
  • “Zinc Oxide” and “Avobenzone” in the ingredients – will specifically protect from UVA

Additionally, something else to keep in mind is that sunscreen less than SPF 15 will not protect you from both rays; the label will likely state something along the lines of ‘doesn’t protect from skin cancer.’  Avoid products with this disclaimer.

SPF: stands for “Sun Protection Factor” and refers to how much protection you get from UVB rays (not UVA).  Typically, the higher the number, the longer the protection; HOWEVER, studies are showing that greater than SPF 50 might not have any added benefit and could actually be exposing individuals to more chemicals. Additionally, there is a false sense of security with higher SPFs which has been linked with poor re-application habits. As a general rule of thumb, you should apply sunscreen 15-30 mins before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours. If you are sweating a lot or swimming, you should reapply more often.

UV Index: This measures the strength of the UV rays on a particular day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, knowing how to read and apply the scale can help protect you:

  • Green 0-2: Low danger for the average person: Wear sunglasses on bright days; if you burn easily, cover up and use SPF 30+ sunscreen; beware of bright surfaces (i.e. snow, water, sand)
  • Yellow 3-5: Moderate risk from unprotected sun exposure: stay in shady areas during midday; wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats; use 30+ SPF every 2 hours; beware of bright surfaces (i.e. snow, water, sand)
  • Red 6-7: High risk of harm to skin and eyes from unprotected exposure: Precautions are the same as above.
  • Blue 11 or more: Extreme risk to skin and eyes, can burn within minutes: Precautions are the same as above.

Sunscreen Should NOT be Your Only Protection: Yes, sunscreen is great and all, but you should be doing other things to protect your skin from harmful rays such as:

  • Avoid prime sun hours
  • Wear protective clothing; even just a t-shirt can have the equivalent of SPF 5 protection
  • Wear wide brim hats
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses
  • Avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade when possible
  • Check the UV Index
  • Follow the shadow rule (if your shadow is taller than you, UV exposure likely to be lower, if it’s shorter than you, UV exposure is high and you should take caution).

Swimming and sweating: While there are some water-resistant products on the market as mentioned above, you should be reapplying more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming. Read the label for more details as to how often you should reapply the water-resistant products.

What about Cloudy Days?: Yes, you should still be wearing sunscreen on cloudy days. The clouds still let in 80% of harmful rays through, leaving you exposed to damage.

Monitoring the weather, staying on top of sunscreen use, and following these tips will help keep you and your loved ones safe this summer!

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Rid Yourself of Clutter

We’re all guilty of it; we hold on to something because “we might need it later” — but have you ever considered that all this accumulated stuff could be affecting our mental health? The truth is that clutter can be a source of stress.  Clutter and disorganization can overwhelm the senses (visual and olfactory), be distracting, and lead to feelings of guilt and frustration.  According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, 65% of Americans feel that their home is disorganized. Organizing and getting rid of clutter can often be a daunting task, so here are 5 helpful tips to get you started:

  1. Rome wasn’t built in a day: if you feel that you have too much to handle, start small. Pick one room or area and dedicate a predetermined amountOrganization.jpg of time to just that space.
  2. Make a list and schedule: break down different areas of your home into manageable spaces, prioritize which areas you want to focus on the most, and set a schedule for yourself.
  3. See the full project to the end: don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll take this to Goodwill/trash/friend’s house tomorrow.” As part of your schedule, allot time to dispose of these items. This may mean multiple trips to Goodwill, but when you start seeing progress, it will help keep you motivated to continue.
  4. Recruit roommates and family members: If you live with others, chances are the mess isn’t yours alone. Include everyone in your household in the fun! Play music, make a competition out of it, or make it a group bonding event.
  5. Fill one trash bag a week: Don’t have time to dedicate more than a few minutes a day? No big deal, focus on one bag for 15 minutes a day. By the end of the month, you will have logged almost 7.5 hours.

Items that clutter:

  • Clothes you don’t wear: Try the hanger trick. Turn all your closet hangers around so that the round end is facing away from you. When you wear something, re-hang it with the hanger facing the right direction. After a couple of months, it will be clear what clothes you wear and what you don’t wear. Have you considered donating old formal wear? There are organizations that will re-purpose old prom dresses, wedding wear, and suits to people in need.
  • Expired products: Old make-up, medications, spices, canned/processed foods. If you haven’t used them recently, you don’t need them and they should be tossed.
  • VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs: In the Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify age, our movie and music collections are right at our fingertips. Unless you feel strongly that old Animal House VHS will be a collector’s item, trust us and donate, sell, or toss.
  • Paper: Get rid of old newspapers, magazines, junk mail, receipts, old holiday cards, birth announcements, wedding invitations, take out menus, etc. Anything that you must keep (i.e. taxes, warranties), you can file in an accordion organizer or electronically. If you are really attached to the photo cards, start a photo album and move them from the fridge to the album after a couple of months of display.
  • Books: Do you really need that freshman year biology book? Guess what, after several years, books come out with new editions because research and information is changing so rapidly. Also, did we forget to mention this little thing called the world-wide web? Everything you could ever want to look up is right at your fingertips. Only keep books that you reference or read often.
  • Games: The clay is hard, it’s missing pieces, it never gets used – whatever it might be, it’s taking up space and can probably go.
  • Old Electronics: Unless you have a buddy that can bring that 2010 computer back to life, you can probably go ahead and donate it.

Once you get yourself organized, set small goals for yourself to keep the clutter out. Maybe once a month go through the house to make sure there aren’t things that can get tossed or donated. Also, create a habit of putting items back in their place once you’re done using them. This will limit the daily clutter. Happy decluttering!

 

 

Trending: Healthy Meal Planning and Delivery Services

Life seems to get busier and busier every day, which can make it hard to plan and prepare healthy meals at home. The good news is that there are programs to make it easier for you! These programs can be split into two categories: meal planning services and meal delivery services.

Meal prep.jpeg

Meal planning services provide you with recipes and grocery lists that fit your dietary preferences.

Meal Planning Services
  How It Works Diet Options Monthly Cost
Prep Dish Each Friday you get your meal plan, grocery list and prep instructions. The meal plan involves one 2-3 hour prep session at the beginning of the week and an additional 5-20 minutes of preparation the day the dish is served. Only paleo and gluten free recipes $8.25 – 14
Fresh 20 Receive recipes and grocery lists for the week that only require 20 ingredients. Preparation of the recipes will take 1 hour, one time per week. Meals plans are posted every Friday. Classic, gluten free, vegetarian, paleo, dairy free, kosher, for one $6 – 18
Zipongo View recipes that fit within your preferences/restrictions. Select recipes for the week and Zipongo will generate a grocery list for the recipes. Can restrict: dairy, eggs,  fish, gluten, peanuts, pork, poultry, red meat, shellfish, soy, and tree nuts Free
The Six O’clock Scramble Each week 5 recipes with organized grocery lists personalized to your diet preference. All recipes are designed to be made within 30 minutes Vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic $6 – 13

Meal delivery services take things a step further, providing recipes and delivering the ingredients right to your door!

Meal Delivery Services
Hello Fresh Meals are selected by Hello Fresh, customized to your preferences, but you can change the recipes if you wish.  Classic and Veggie boxes provide 3 meals for 2 people and the family box has 3 meals for 4 people. Classic, Veggie, Family Begin as low as $69 for classic boxes, $59 for veggie boxes and $105 for family boxes.
Chef’d Offers breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. Most meals are available in 2 servings. Family friendly recipes are available to order with more servings.  Each recipe is individually priced and can be chosen through a meal plan or individually. Recipes: family friendly, gourmet, quick and easy, lighter options, vegetarian, gluten free, vegan

Meal Plans: Atkins, The New York Times Cooking, American Diabetes Association, Weight Watchers, Spoon University, Tone it up Fresh, Runner’s World

$5 – 27 per

serving

Peach Dish Each week you choose from at least 8 meal options and can order 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 servings. Recipes take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Vegetarian, gluten-free Servings start around $11

 

Work Space Ergonomics

You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking. But many of us have no choice
but to sit while we are at work. In an ideal world, sit/stand desks would be the norm, but for many that isn’t feasible. If you find yourself strapped to your desk and chair at work, make sure you are following these tips for a more ergonomic work space!
Adjust your chair
There are a ton of ergonomic chairs to choose from, but if updating your chair isn’t an option, adjusting the one you have will be beneficial! Simply adjust the height of your chair so your feet rest flat on the floor and alter the armrests so your arms gently lay flat when your shoulders are relaxed. You will be surprised how much of a difference adjusting your chair can make!
Invest in a headset
This is especially important if you spend a large portion of your day on the phone. Many of us multi-task and clinch the phone between our head and neck while typing or doing other activities. A headset can be a lifesaver for your neck and give you more freedom while on those long calls.
Modify your monitor
Your monitor should be directly in front of you about arm’s length away. You want to top
of the screen to be at eye level. Many monitors are adjustable now, but if yours is not, try stacking books under it so it’s the appropriate height.
Move your mouse
This may seem obvious, but make sure your mouse and keyboard are close enough and on the same surface. Keep your wrists straight and rested comfortably on your desk when working. Lastly, tweak the settings on your mouse to make it more sensitive so you can use less force when using it. If you can alternate the hand you control your mouse with it can be a helpful way to create more balance on each side (this will take a lot of patience at first).
Desk

Celebrate Sleep Week!

Our first instinct may be to curl up for a good nap when we hear “Celebrate Sleep Week.”  But, we hope you’ll take a moment to consider how you can improve your zzz’s. The National Sleep Foundation has marked April 23 through April 29 as “Sleep Awareness Week.”  The theme is “Sleep Better, Feel Better,” because when we’re well rested, everything reaps the benefits.  A good night’s sleep can improve mood, productivity, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. Did you know that 35% of Americans rate their sleep as only fair or poor?  It’s obvious there is room for improvement!

So, what are some ways we can get a better night’s rest?  We have a few unique ideas to try to help you better celebrate sleep week!

White Noise

Think of the gentle sound of a ceiling fan or a rainstorm during the night. That’s white noise. It works by reducing the difference between background sounds and sudden noises. Constant ambient sound can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. To try white noise, you can simply use a fan or air purifier or invest in a sound machine (sometimes called sound conditioners) or download a white noise app on your phone.

Rituals

When you were a child, it’s likely your sleep routine would be to brush your teeth, put on your pajamas, listen to a bed time story, and get tucked into bed.  As adults, we tend to abandon a pre-sleep routine in favor of getting one more thing done before hopping into bed. However, a sleep routine such as having a calming cup of tea, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or taking a bath or shower, can help you unwind and prepare for sleep. It’s also best to avoid stimulating activities such as aerobic exercise, work, watching TV, or playing video games at least 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed.

Stay Cool

Did you know that our body temperature is not consistent throughout the day? It actually rises and falls slightly and this cycle is tied to sleep. Our body temperature decreases as we prepare for sleep and will increase as the morning progresses. A room that is too warm can reduce the ability for our body to cool and reach an optimal temperature before bed. Approximately 65 degrees is the ideal temperature, but it’s a good idea to experiment with temperatures around 65 degrees to see what works best for you.  Also, consider purchasing cotton pajamas or sheets to stay cool and how many layers you may wear to bed or have on your bed.

pexels-photo-46100

Source:  Sleepfoundation.org

Ravishing Rainbow Ratatouille Recipe

You may have noticed this kitchen gadget has taken over food blogs everywhere. But what exactly is an Instant Pot® and do you really need one? The short answer… yes. An Instant Pot® combines a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and stockpot warmer. So not only does it save you time, but also money. This appliance is conveniently small and, according to the company, reduces cooking time by up to 70%. To continue the celebration of National Nutrition Month and the theme of eating the rainbow, here is a recipe that contains at least one item in each group!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: ~5 servings

  • 3 frozen boneless chicken thighs
  • 6 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4- inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4- inch pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1/4- inch piecesvegetable_ratatouille (1)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 7 mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 5 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place frozen chicken thighs on the bottom of your Instant Pot®.
  2. Add ingredients and mix, then cover and seal the lid.
  3. Cook on manual setting for 25 minutes. When finished, let pressure release naturally, which will take about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Note: if you don’t have an Instant Pot® you can use a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

Learn more about the Instant Pot®

Recipe adapted from: http://deliciouslyfit.guru/chicken-ratatouille-instant-pot/