Health Coach Corner - by Maria Hicks
Do you suffer from carrying around extra weight around your mid-section? Does your low back hurt? If so, here’s some good news! You can strengthen your abs & back with five simple “core” exercises I am going to share with you. Strengthening your core – which consists of your abdominal muscles and your back, is incredibly important! The stronger your core muscles, the easier simple tasks become… like, doing laundry, sitting at your desk, carrying groceries, picking up your children, etc… Think of your core muscles as your “internal belt”. A strong core will protect your spine and help improve your posture. Better posture actually makes you appear 5-10 lbs lighter! Most of us slouch from time to time, having a strong core will automatically improve your posture and you will slouch less often.
People ask me all the time… If I do a bunch of crunches, will my waist get smaller? Unfortunately, you can’t “spot reduce” – the best way to shrink your waist is to lose body fat through cardio and strength training exercises that burn fat & calories. Core exercises are important to strengthen the muscles underneath the fat. As you lose fat, your muscles will start to appear and you can go for that “6-pack” if you want to!
Here are my five favorite core exercises that target upper, lower abdominals, your oblique’s (“love handles”) and your back! Try them out!
Simply lie down on a thin mat with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor, pushing your heels down and back a little. Place your hands next to your neck (don’t tug at the back of your head) and contract your abs and lift, use the floor or stability ball
Similar to the regular crunches, this one focuses on a twisting motion where you try to touch your left knee with your right elbow and vice versa. The lower back should still be pressed into the floor at all times.
Turn facedown so that you rest entirely on your toes and elbows/forearms with a straight back. Keep your eyes on the floor to maintain a straight spine. Try to hold this position for as long as you can, paying close attention to any sagging.
Starting as a plank, you turn sideways so that you rest on the side of one foot and just one elbow/forearm. Keep the feet together and maintain a rigid position for as long as possible.
Sit on the floor with your knees together in front of you and both feet firmly planted on the floor. Grab a small medicine ball and move it over your knees and down the side, until it touches the floor.
Health Coach Corner – Maria Hicks
I thought it would be fun to share some random health tips with my readers. Since I am a health coach and I sign up for a lot of wellness related newsletters, blogs and magazines, I come across a lot of health tips. Some of them are new to me and quite interesting. I am going to share some fun health tips with you today. Please be sure to do your own research, if you are going to attempt to practice these tips or look into them further, if you just don’t believe it. My sources include Prevention magazine, Natural Health and various online blogs by health professionals.
So, here you go… Enjoy!
Find your memory with a walk – Do you put your keys down and forget where you put them? Try taking more walks – 40 minutes, 3 days a week can help prevent and even reverse memory loss with aging. That’s because moderate exercise increase BDNF, a protein associated with improved memory. Did you know 21% of Alzheimer’s cases are linked to too little physical activity?
The number of times a year you should replace your toothbrush: 4 times – to minimize exposure to thousands of cold & flu-causing microbes that set up shop in toothbrush bristles and handles. – Yuck! Looks like I will be replacing the head of my electric toothbrush very soon!
Ordinary B-vitamins can enhance human mental performance – and even increase happiness – make sure to eat plenty of whole grains!
Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. Containing three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. – My friend who runs marathons always eats 2 bananas before a race!
Long term use of zinc lozenges for treating colds can temporarily suppress the immune system, just the opposite of what you want when fighting off a cold. It’s best to eat a diet high in fruits & vegetables to build your immune system!
Studies have shown that eating close to bedtime may enhance the storage of fat and promote weight gain. – Try eating your dinner a good 2-3 hours before bedtime, and focus on food (fuel) early in the day, rather than later in the day or evening.
Ice cream headaches are no myth – you really can get them from eating this frozen dessert. This is caused by blood vessel spasms, which are caused by the intense cold from the ice cream. The spasms interrupt the blood flow and cause the vessels to swell.
When buying shoes, it is always a good idea to buy them late in the day, when your feet are tired and may be slightly swollen. In this way you are unlikely to buy shoes that are too small.
Most people have lower back pain. This is because the lower back bears the weight of the upper body. It also twists and bends more than the upper back. – Stretch your back often and work on strengthening your lower abdominal muscles
Health Coach Corner – by Maria Hicks
Better Sleep Tips!
I know we all suffer from sleepless nights, now and again. How come some nights you can fall asleep quickly but other nights, you can never get comfortable? It could be due to stress, your late night coffee run or exercising or eating too close to bedtime. Whatever the underlying reason for your sleepless night, here are some fun tips to get your Zzz’s back and wake up more refreshed!
Peaceful pigments – the most restful colors for your bedroom walls are soothing blues and greens so if your walls are white, beige or red, maybe a switch to a blue or green is in your future?
Stretch yourself sleepy – practicing yoga poses or stretching before bed can help you relieve stress and feel more peaceful
Darken it up – even a bit of moonlight sneaking through your shades can disrupt your sleep cycle, try wearing a sleep mask like this one:
Write off worries – does your brain start racing the second your head hits the pillow? Quiet your mind by journaling before bed
Cool & calm – do you ever wake up sweaty? Forget those flannel sheets and opt for a lighter, more breathable moisture-wicking fabric
Get comfy – super cozy, lightweight cotton jimmies are your best bet to be comfy and the more comfortable you are, the better chance of falling sleep and staying asleep
Keep the red digits away – is your clock glaring into the darkness? Turn your clock around, so you won’t be distracted by the glaring numbers – or stressed that it’s 2:00am and you are still awake
A little noise may help – some people (like myself) cannot fall asleep in a super quiet space, I’m not suggesting having your TV or radio blaring but a nice, soft humming sound – like a fan – can help you fall asleep and disguise any “ringing” in your ears
Try a few sleep better tips tonight! I can’t take credit for all these tips; I give credit to my Health Magazine as well for their great sleep tips!
New Perils in a Connected World – by Stew Nelson
Data breaches announced in August at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Yale University compromised Personal Information consisting of names and Social Security numbers of almost 120,000 individuals. These breaches could potentially cost $500,000 just to provide credit monitoring for two years for everyone affected. If you add $10 to send a registered letter of notification it will add another $1.2 million to the remediation costs! It is not hard to imagine the total cost of these two breaches to exceed $2 million in total costs. Serious money!
Lessons we can learn
The breach in Milwaukee was caused by malware installed by an unknown individual. It could be that an insider installed the malware in the affected server but it is equally likely that the malware infected someone’s computer when they visited an infected website. No matter how much security you install, a rogue employee can always do damage. But if the malware was caused by someone web surfing it is much more preventable with education of employees and strict usage policies of university or corporate computers. As hackers become more sophisticated they are setting traps in what appear to be innocuous websites, employees home computers and even cell phones. So using personal computers for work or personal cell phone for work can compromise an entire network.
The breach in New Haven Connecticut at Yale University appears to be a case of negligence (As most breaches are!) that left a server containing names addresses and Social Security numbers from former employees, employees and students from 1999 connected to the Internet. So wouldn’t you know along came a Google spider and found the data file that did the damage. The issue here is why the server was connected to the Internet to begin with as there probably wasn’t much immediate need to retrieve information from this legacy database. The lesson to be learned is that all data that is stored by an organization needs to be assessed and evaluated for confidentiality and stored accordingly. As I have mentioned in previous posts if you don’t need to store it….. shredded it!
Universities typically are self-insured for these type of liabilities however, you don’t have to be. Each of these situations could have been fully insured at very reasonable prices. Talk to your agent about cyber liability insurance.
Do you have any idea which produce you should try to buy organic? Most people don’t. This week, I wanted to share two lists with you. One list is called the “dirty dozen” – its 12 fruits & veggies that are recommended to buy organic because of the pesticide load, which means, the amount of pesticides used and absorbed into these healthy and delectable goodies. But, how can they be healthy and delectable if they are loaded with bug repellent? Take a look at the list and work towards buying most (or at least) some of the items on the list in their organic form. I included a second list called the “Clean 15” and these are foods to buy conventional/non-organic. I love veggies, and not just because I am a health coach, but I love them because they are full of energizing nutrients and I can add fresh lemon with garlic and chili powder for a really tasty vegetable delight! Keep your fruit intake to 2-3 pieces a day and eat all the vegetables your heart desires. I’ve never heard of anyone eating “too much broccoli.”
“Dirty Dozen” – (highest pesticide load)
“Clean fifteen” – (lowest pesticide load)