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Strong Immune System Against COVID-19

In the current state of the world, health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  Our health is directly dependent on the essential role of our immune system. It relies on complex interworkings of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues to recognize and neutralize harmful viruses, bacteria, cell changes, and other organisms that cause disease.

Our immune system is such an elaborate system of many interconnected parts that requires balance and harmony. Our desire is to live a healthy lifestyle that builds a strong immune system in order to fight off the coronavirus or other harmful substances should we come in contact with them.

Our immune system also operates better when bolstered by healthy lifestyle choices.

Healthy ways to reinforce a strong immune system to prevent or fight COVID-19 include:

A Healthy Diet

Our diet is key to a strong immune system. Be certain to eat at least 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Micronutrients

Numerous nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are required to support the normal functioning of your immune system Some micronutrients that play a role in maintaining your immune system include:

  • Vitamin B6 –found in chickpeas, chicken or turkey, salmon, tuna, bananas, green vegetables, potatoes (with skin)
  • Vitamin C – found in oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwi pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, red peppers, Brussel sprouts
  • Vitamin E – found in almonds, sunflower and safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts peanut butter, spinach, asparagus, red bell pepper, avocado, trout, mango
  • Zinc – found in foods including oysters, crab, lobster, beef, pork chop, chicken, baked beans, beans, nuts, yogurt, Swiss cheese. Some evidence indicates zinc may have a beneficial role in the immune response
  • Vitamin D – found in fortified foods such as dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals. A maintenance dose of vitamin D is vital during the winter months as well as for those with low vitamin D levels.

Exercise

One way exercise may improve the immune system is by boosting your overall circulation making it easier for immune cells to travel more easily throughout your body. Studies have shown 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily helps stimulate your immune system.

Water

Water is a necessary component of your lymph system which carries infection-fighting immune cells around your body.

Sleep

Important infection-fighting molecules are created while you sleep. Inadequate sleep leaves you more prone to getting sick.

Minimize Stress

Chronic long term stress over an extended period is certainly bad for our health. The uncertainty we are now experiencing with COVID-19 can trigger a stress response. The secretion of cortisol suppresses your immune system, thus increasing your chance of infection or illness. Given that stress has a direct negative impact on your health it is important to know how to identify your stress and have treatment options that work for you.

In addition, continue to minimize trips outside your home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. If you do come in contact with the virus, you’ve already taken proactive steps to have a strong and healthy immune system that can strengthen your defense against this harmful disease.

CB

Healthy Lifestyle Opportunities during Social Distancing

Over the past few weeks, it’s become easy to focus on things we’ve lost- 24/7 grocery store access, Barre classes, dining at our favorite restaurants, and even taking our children to the park. As the days turn into weeks, we grieve the loss of control in our daily routines.

This forced slowed down lifestyle gives us the ability to pause and be intentional about our health and fitness goals. We’re staying home, living a much slower pace, we have suddenly found ourselves with opportunities to be present and intentional.

Healthy Lifestyle Opportunities during Social Distancing

Time and necessity to plan meals and grocery shopping lists

  • Increasing interaction with the public is definitely a risky business. A quick trip into the convenience store when all you really need is gas could put you at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus but also lead to a few moments of misguided pleasure down the candy aisle. With recommended interactions outside of the home being brief, it’s a necessity to plan in advance to prevent multiple trips to the store and to decrease impulse choices such as convenience items. This is the perfect time to save on your food dollar plus trim your waistline by decreasing portions. Instead of the larger portion or a second serving, save it for the next meal.
  • Our best defense is a strong offense. Live the strongest healthiest version of yourself you can.  Be absolutely intentional with getting in at least six servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Purchase a rainbow of colors to assure you are incorporating a variety of nutrients. Don’t neglect to keep frozen fruits and vegetables on hand for when you run out of fresh.

Teachable cooking moments for your family

  • Food prep and cooking at home can bring healthy options to your table in a fun and creative way. Try new recipes or experiment with new ways to cook to make cooking a fun family affair. More opportunities for family meals mean more opportunities for everyone to learn this essential life skill eliminating some of the feelings of, “I don’t want to cook, I don’t like to cook, I don’t know how to cook.” While we hope to never experience another pandemic, your children will benefit decades down the road for learning this important life skill.

Learning physical hunger over emotional hunger

  • Embrace this time to figure out physical vs emotional hunger.  Is your hunger coming from your gut or possibly your head? Is your hunger tied to the current freeway of anxiety, worry, fear, panic? This is the perfect time to look into the emotions you are feeling with curiosity, not shame or blame.  Identify your negative feelings and respond to them with compassionate words such as “isn’t this interesting.” Take the time to explore your feelings and learn more about yourself and your relationship with food. Remember, food will not fix fear, anxiety, worry or panic. COVID-19 will still be here after you polish off the chips, nuts, ice cream or cookies, then how will you feel? If you choose to indulge in reckless eating you will be layering more “icky” feelings on top of your “icky” corona feelings.

Feel your feelings and get moving

  • Everything about the coronavirus feels pretty awful. Thank heavens we can still be outdoors to exercise for our mental health. The weather has been challenging with days that have felt too hot, too cold or too wet to get outside. Realize you may need to adjust to the weather, you can dress cooler, wear a coat and even carry an umbrella—- MOVING is a necessity to maintain mental health. A dance party in the house would also work, I couldn’t live without my hula hoop during these trying times.

Seize the day! The stage is set! This is the perfect opportunity to create that healthy and fit version of you. Go forth and be intentional.

CB

Fitness 101

Fitness 101:

 

Exercising is a great way to relieve stress, improve your health, and gain self-confidence. There are many reasons why people might not want to exercise like: “I don’t have time”, “I am too out of shape”, “I don’t know what to do when I am at the gym”, or even “I don’t want to workout alone”. All these problems can be solved with a little effort and motivation. Working out does not have to take place anywhere specific either. You can workout in your neighborhood, your living room, a local gym or park. The hardest part is getting started, once you have a routine it is easier to keep it up and make time for yourself and your health. Here are a couple ways to get yourself started:

 

A little goes a long way. There is no need to start off your exercise journey spending hours in the gym every single day. Add a 15-20 minute walk or run into your routine a couple times a week then go from there. Starting small will better ensure that you don’t get burnt out and you stick to your exercise goals.

Stop making excuses. If you don’t like running or lifting weights, find something that you do enjoy. There are many options like yoga, dancing, or hiking. If you don’t believe you have the time, make the time. This is your life and your health, so make it a priority for yourself to set aside even 5 minutes of exercise.

Be kind to yourself. If it has been awhile since you’ve had any physical activity there is no better time to start than right now! Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t look like a body builder after a week of hitting the gym. Your exercise journey is about YOU and YOUR health. Focus on making yourself better and reward yourself for sticking to your exercise goals.

 

When you do decide to get back in the gym, get a good warm up and cool down with walking and some light stretching. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. It is time to put your health at the top of the list! Happy exercising 😊

 

KM

Fitness & Mental Health for Mom

As moms we have many different hats that we wear. We play the role of chefs, nurses, cleaners, counselors and SO much more. Whether we stay at home or work outside of the home, we are all working moms. It’s a job that we have 24/7 and by far the most amazing job there is. Being a mother combined with everything else that we do can be stressful. As a mother of three small children, that also works, I can say this from experience… It can be challenging at times to consistently make time for myself and be mindful of how I can effectively manage stress in a positive and beneficial way.

Something I strive to do is focus on both mental and physical health. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. When we exercise endorphins are released. Endorphins are hormones that the body releases in response to stress such as physical pain or intense exercise. After these chemicals are released, they cause feelings of well being and euphoria. Finishing a workout gives a sense of accomplishment and boosts energy.

When paired with eating a balanced diet, there aren’t many activities that make you feel that good. The recommended amount of exercise each week is either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Exercise can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Here are some tips to make this a regular practice for yourself.

 

  1. Do something you enjoy: This looks different for everyone. If you find it challenging to figure out how to incorporate it into your schedule, think outside the box.
  2. Workout ideas for your moms:
    1. Take your kids out on a walk or jog around the neighborhood while pushing the stroller.
    2. For those of you that have kids that are a little older, make it a fun family challenge and workout together at home. Physical activity doesn’t require you to go to the gym or a fitness class, you can do workouts at home too.
    3. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, try to exercise early before the kids wake up or during nap times.
    4. If you don’t work from home, take advantage of lunch breaks or any time that you have before or after work.
    5. Your workouts can be spread out in multiple mini sessions throughout the day instead of one longer session. It’s perfectly fine and still counts if you do two 15 minute sessions a day or three 10 minute ones. It all adds up and will make a difference.

 

SAMPLE AT HOME WORKOUT: INTERVAL TRAINING:  A workout I like to do at home, when I can’t make it to the studio to train, is interval based training. This is accomplished by establishing a set amount of time to perform the exercise(s) followed by a set period of time to rest and repeating the sequence. I like to choose at least 1-2 upper and lower body exercises, 1-2 core exercises and at least one cardio intensive exercise and end it with some stretching. This method helps keeps my intensity higher and lets me accomplish more in less time.  For example, do 4 rounds of squats, push-ups, lunges, bicep curls, jumping jacks, and a plank hold. The work : rest ratio for this would be 30 seconds on : 60 seconds off. 

 

Whether it be Zumba, Yoga, weight training or a great walk with the kids, just keep moving. In order for us to continue all that we do and have peace of mind, we HAVE to take care of ourselves and make it a priority. Your kids will be so motivated and inspired by this.  So the next time you feel anxious and stressed, remember that you are only one workout away from a good mood!

UC

Winter Blues

 

It’s easy to be a little more relaxed with your diet and exercise habits during the winter. Even I have noticed lately that I have been lazier because it’s dark when I get home from work or I just don’t want to get all bundled up to venture out into the cold. It seems to be easier to maintain the healthy lifestyle during the summer months with all the fun recipes for fruits and vegetables that are in season, and the outside activities that keep us moving all day long. To keep you on track and ready for Spring, here are some tips on how to stay motivated through this Winter season.

  • Accept that it is COLD and gear up! Go pick up a couple pieces of extra warm clothing (hats, socks, gloves, coats) to make it easier to head outside for a trip to the gym or grocery store.
  • Wear bright colors. (If you’re into that) Wearing a bright coat or hat could help you feel happier and more upbeat. I tend to wear a lot of black and grey during the winter but mixing in a bright green or purple would be great for creating a fun and colorful mood for the day.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. The people around you influence your mood and behavior, especially during the dark winter months.
  • Cook something new. Try out a new recipe with a food you have never tried before, trying new things can be fun and rewarding. The whole point is to make a wholesome meal for yourself and rekindle the flame for making yummy home cooked meals. Some “winter mood” foods include: sweet potatoes, eggplant, and squash.

Here is a Winter Squash Soup recipe!

Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 45 minutes / Servings: 4 / Calories: 346 kcal

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
2.5 pounds winter squash peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon honey
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parsley (Fresh) chopped to serve (optional)

 

Directions:

-Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and celery, and gently cook until really soft – about 15 mins.

-Add the squash and cook, stirring for 5 mins.

-Add the honey and chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender.

-Remove from heat and using a hand blender, blitz until smooth (adding a bit more stock or water if the soup is too thick).

-Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

 

Recipe Notes

For the winter squash – you can buy whole squash and prepare them yourself or buy bags of ready to use.

 

Sourced used for tips and recipe:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/ways-fight-off-winter-blues/

https://www.errenskitchen.com/winter-squash-soup/

 

 

KM