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Healthy Living Tips

With life so busy, it's easy to forget how important good health is. On this page, I'll list healthy living tips that I find interesting or easy to incorporate into everyday life. Check back regularly for the latest tips.

Don't Focus on the Negative

Negativity can drag us down and stress us out. If you find yourself obsessing over a hurtful remark from a friend or a fight with your husband and start to feel sad, take a deep breath and stop those thoughts. Instead, think about the happiest part of your day or something that made you smile. Every time your mind wanders back to a negative place, don't let it. Remind yourself that there is too much in life to be happy about.

Find an Exercise You Love

Make sure you love the exercise you're doing. If you hate running, stop running. Exercise shouldn't be something you dread every day. If you can find an exercise you enjoy, whether it's yoga, indoor soccer, or Zumba, you're much more likely to stick with it.

Schedule Your Exercise

You've probably heard this before, but put that workout on the calendar. Once you've blocked out the time and know it's on the schedule, you're much less likely to skip your workout.

Pay Attention to Breathing

Breathing is an automatic activity that your body takes care of so you don't have to think about it. But if you're like me, you don't breathe deeply enough. Shallow breathing gets air into our lungs and allows us to survive, but deep breathing fills our body with even more of that all-important oxygen. We think better, exercise better, and feel better. To achieve these benefits, pay more attention to your breathing to make sure your lungs are consistenly filled.

Try More Vegetables

If you're like me, you rotate through the same three vegetables at dinner: peas, corn, and green beans. While they're cheap and convenient, it's easy to get tired of these repeat offenders. To get out of that rut, try a different vegetable each month, or even each week if you're feeling adventurous. Find out what's seasonal and try to incorporate it into your family meals. For example, October is a good time to buy eggplant. You could make ratatouille, grill the eggplant with a little olive oil and garlic, or whip up some eggplant parmesan. Your family might just find a new favorite vegetable.

Don't Keep up with the Joneses

Don't worry about that new car your neighbor just bought. Or that kitchen remodel your best friend just finished. It's easy to get bogged down in all the shiny new things our friends and neighbors have, but it takes a toll, both emotionally and economically as we wonder if we need to run right out and buy it too. Someone will always have the latest gadget or the best vacation home, and that's okay.  Just focus on what makes you happy.

Choosing Organic Fruits and Vegetables

Organic produce can be expensive, so it's important to purchase foods that provide the most benefit by having that organic label. Apples, plums, and nectarines are all fruits for which the peels and skins are eaten, so they're at the top of the list. Similarly, all lettuces and spinaches should be organic, since the entire plant is consumed, just like celery or broccoli. You don't eat the rinds or peels of certain fruits, so it's okay to skip organic bananas, watermelon, or oranges, since these provide the least exposure to pesticides.

Get Plenty of Rest

Everyone's heard that getting a good night's sleep is crucial to a body's well-being, and it's true. Getting eight to nine hours of sleep helps keep weight down, your heart healthy, your memory sharp, and stress levels down. While it's tempting to stay up and watch those late night talk shows and cheesy horror films, it's better to turn off the TV and get some extra rest. Your body will thank you for it.

Eat your Green Beans

Green beans are an excellent source of Vitamin A, antioxidants, and fiber. They're also a snap to fix. You can saute them in a little heart-healthy olive oil with minced garlic, sliced almonds, and a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese. When buying at the store, look for bright-green beans that are firm. They can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days.

Keep your Brain Sharp

Did you finish the crossword puzzle in your newspaper today? Drive a different way to work? Take up a new hobby? Research shows that continually challenging your brain through such things as brain teasers and puzzles or performing routine acts in a new way can help keep your mind sharp as you age. So take that ballroom dance class you've been considering. It'll help your mind as much as your body.

Overcome that Afternoon Slump

When the dreaded afternoon slump hits, that candy bar in the vending machine can be sooooooo tempting. A better bet is a bag of trail mix or a handful of almonds. While a sugary treat provides a short-term boost, snacks that are high in protein take longer to digest and offer a steady stream of energy. So the next time you need an after-lunch pick-me-up, consider a carton of yogurt instead of those cheese puffs to help wake you up.

Good Posture Helps your Health

I'm a sloucher. I know this because my mom is constantly telling me to stand up straight. What I didn't know is how much bad posture can affect a person's health. Leaning your head forward too much can lead to jaw clenching and headaches. Slouching down reduces lung capacity, which means not as much oxygen gets where it needs to go. Slouching also compresses the digestive organs, reducing their efficiency. Guess I need to start listening to my mother. Improving my posture really is important.

Replace Mayonnaise with Avocado

My sister likes to eat her turkey sandwiches plain, as in just turkey and bread. I need something a little smoother, so I always add mayo or cheese or both. For a healthier option, I occasionally swap out the mayo with slices of ripe avocado. The avocado provides the same creamy texture but with a whole list of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin E, and potassium, to name only a few.

Use Ferns for Good Health

Ferns are one of the best indoor plants. They suck up carbon dioxide and release oxygen. At the same time, they filter formaldehyde from the air. Ferns love to grow in moist, dark places, so a corner of your bathroom counter is the ideal location.  As an added bonus, they're low maintenance and only require occasional fertilizer.

Eat More Fruit

I'd eat more fruit if I didn't have to cut it up myself, but I find the prepared fruit platters at my local grocery store to be on the pricy side. Now, I've found a solution with fruit salsa. Most brands are made with tomatoes, mango, and sometimes papaya, and the salsa is so delicious! All I have to do is pair it with baked tortilla chips for a delicious and healthy snack.

Trim Asparagus the Fast Way

Asparagus is one of those vegetable that needs very little (a drizzle of olive oil, some shaved parmesan, salt, and time in the oven) to make it into a fantastic side dish. I usually trim asparagus by peeling the outer skin of the woodier bottom part. But when I'm in a hurry, I often hold each end of the stalk and bend it. The asparagus naturally snaps where the tougher part starts. I might waste a little asparagus, but it makes the prep work, well, a snap.

Exercise, Even if It's Just a Few Minutes

Ten minutes of exercise is better than none, even if you just do push ups or jumping jacks during commercial breaks of your favorite TV show.

Regrow Green Onions

If you're a fan of green onions, here's a fun trick I learned somewhere to get a little more for your money. The next time you use the green part of the onion, pop the white part with the roots in a glass of water and leave it on the counter or window sill. The onion will regrow itself within a few days, providing you a new green part for very little effort. This is also fun to do with kids so they can watch a plant grow in a short amount of time.

Organic Labels

If you decide to buy organic foods, you may wonder about the different labels. Here is a general breakdown:

  • "100% organic" means just that: all the ingredients are organic. You may see the USDA Organic label on these items.
  • "Organic" means that at least 95% of the ingredients are organic. Not all foods are available in an organic form, so that's usually why the remaining ingredients aren't organic. You may see the USDA Organic label on these items.
  • "Made with organic ingredients" means that 70% or more of the ingredients are organic.

Other foods might include organic ingredients, but if the contents are less than 70%, there is no extra label. Hope this helps on your next shopping trip!

The Kitchen Sponge

If you knew how many germs lived on your kitchen sponge, you'd never use it again. With all the exposure to kitchen spills, food crumbs, and pet messes, the sponge is teeming with all sorts of disgusting things. To fix that, all you need to do is microwave your slightly damp sponge for about a minute, and all those little critters will be zapped. Be sure to leave the sponge in the microwave for a few minutes or wear a hot pad when removing it, because it will be HOT.