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Keeping Tabs on Your Vitals

After I quit smoking over two decades ago, I told myself I would always do my best to keep track of my vital signs and keep track of my general health. During the 20th century, I had watched my friends and relatives who kept in good shape and those who were not able to stay in shape.

Twenty-years later, I’m glad that I did. These tools are a great investment. Here is what a person can do. First, anyone who wants to keep track of what they put into their body doesn’t need to buy anything but a tablet and a pencil. Nutrition information is out there for virtually everything. It doesn’t take that much research. If you need to find info on a food item….and what it contains try http://www.nutrition.gov. It has a huge database of food items, including fast foods.

An item to track your heart is a watch that also measures your pulse while you exercise. It can help someone reach their maximum heart rate when they workout. It also reminds someone not to overdo it.

Pedometers are great, as well. Especially for seniors, or for those who don’t run as much, anymore. Walking is a great exercise, and many people are surprised to learn how many steps they actually take everyday.

Other small tools to consider getting for the house are bathroom scales and blood pressure monitors. Just keeping tabs on your weight once a week or once a month let’s you know if you are eating something bad in your diet. Are you putting too much sugar in your coffee? Are you grabbing food on your way to work too often? It is just a simple way to stop a bad thing, before it gets out of control. I did it with sub sandwiches one time. Then, I tried to save money by making a homemade cappucino mix, instead of buying one at the store. Yeah, that took a few thousand miles of walking to fix. Not to mention a few pairs of tennis shoes.

As for the blood pressure monitor, I am still shopping for one of those. I don’t need one, yet. But, it’s better to start keeping track of your pressure before your doctor says you have to start. As long as you start somewhere with the vitals it will be in the right direction. Another piece of good advice is to keep an eye out for those free health fairs, too. They usually start up in the springtime, and offer all kinds of valuable health tips for free. Have a good one!

Quick Workouts Around the House

Not everyone has enough time to take advantage of a gym to get a few workouts in during each week. I am one of those people. So, over the years, I have created all kinds of exercise routines to try to stay at the same weight. It isn’t easy, though. I have to remind myself to exercise, just like reminding myself to drink more water.

So, what are some interesting ways to burn calories at home, and try to tone up a little bit of the body. After prepping and stretching out your body properly, put some hot water and dishwashing soap in the sink to wash and dry some dishes by hand, instead of the dishwasher. If it takes a while, grab a chair, and sit down for breaks for a few minutes to rest your back. By the time you’re done, you will have given your arms, shoulders and upper back a good workout. Just don’t overdo it too quickly.

If you have stairs, use them all of the time.  Find all kinds of ways to incorporate them into your weekdays and your weekends.  If you do, your legs and lower body may last longer as long as you don’t go full blast everytime.

Workplaces are telling everyone that they want to move away from sitting at desks too long.  The same is true at home.  I stand quite a bit when I eat in the kitchen.  It seems more comfortable.  I like counter space over table space, when I do any cooking, too.

Other quick tips to keep moving in the house:  play with your animals, keep up with your laundry, put away remotes for awhile, take walks outside, and go visit neighbors.

An Active Brain is a Healthy Brain

As people age, we start to quickly realize that we can no longer do certain activities as well as we did in our younger days. We can’t run that well. We are not quite as limber. We quickly get sore from exercising too long. Plus, we tend to forget things much more quickly. Yes, this is the aging process. I don’t like thinking about it, either.

Instead, I still enjoy those days when I can slow down the process a little bit. Experts say one way to keep a mind in great shape is to continue using it on a daily basis. Gerontology is described as the study of aging and older adults. Part of the overall study includes how aging impacts a person’s mental skills, such as memory, reasoning, problem-solving, etc…. Experts in this field say the seniors who actively learn new things, such as new hobbies, languages, sports, games, etc… are more likely to be more active in their later years than those who do not participate in new activities.

Another way to keep the brain active is to use it everyday with games such as crossword puzzles, wordfinds, sudoku, cryptograms, memory games and solitaire. These help in multiple ways; just like reading, writing and math.

One musician we lost a few years ago showed everyone how he was still able to battle Alzheimers and play his guitar. Glen Campbell was one of the best at the guitar during his prime. But, even during his last days on stage, he could still pick a pretty decent guitar with his youngest daughter by his side with the banjo. That just shows how music and learning musical instruments can only be good for all of us as we age. It keeps our brains active long past retirement by allowing us to enjoy songs we have listened to and played most of our lives.

Whatever the hobby, sport, craft, game or other fun activity it is, if it works the mind, it works as a way to enjoy our later years.



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When You Want Good Food From the Grocery Store Think About Colors

The most colorful place in the grocery store is also the best place for food. The produce section is like Mother Nature’s crayon box. I would say everything is there.

I spend more time in that section than in any other area. Sometimes, my kids have to remind me that we have to leave to go somewhere else.

I am always wanting to try something new….a new type of apple….orange…or even a different vegetable. When it comes to apples, I love the honeycrisp. But, I don’t love the price. Experts in the apple industry say that the reason honeycrisp apples are more expensive is because of the lack of trees to support the popular national demand. So, when the stores run out, or the price just gets too high, I have to look for an ambrosia, or any other type of red sweet apple. Green and yellow apples cause my face to turn different shapes because of the tartness.

I am even learning tricks about picking bananas. Our kids are the lucky ones, though. One store in our neighborhood gets rid of their day-old fruit by offering it to the kids for free. Our three kids are banana-eaters. When it comes to picking the best bananas, I don’t chance it with the unripened ones, and hoping they will ripen later in the week. I buy ones that are about to ripen, and expect bananas to be the first fruit gone during the week.

I have had better luck with timing strawberries, grapes, plums, and other fruit. Another fruit that can be hard to time is the blueberry. I like to get those frozen. They last much longer, and taste pretty good. With frozen fruit, though, check the nutrition label for anything that might be added. I only buy fruit that has no added sugars or anything else.

Now to vegetables for more color. My white-colored vegetables are cauliflower, onions and garlic. The cauliflower is a good snack between meals. The onions and garlic are always part of my flavorings. My green-colored vegetables are spinich, broccolli, celery and cucumbers. My reds are tomatoes and peppers. Carrots are my orange. Olives are my black and another green.

I have started making vegetable wraps with cheese and other toppings. One wrap is a wheat tortilla with broccolli, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced olives. It gets microwaved for one minute. Another wrap is a vegetable tortilla with sliced tomatoes, cheese and marinara sauce that is heated in the microwave for over a minute. A third wrap is spinich and broccolli, along with cheese and olives. Once again, heat in the microwave for about a minute. Other toppings that I use for these are: sliced onions, sliced red peppers, sliced green peppers, and picante sauce.

Another vegetable item that clears out the refrigerator is a fresh vegetable soup with a chicken or beef broth. Just add your favorite vegetables to the unsalted broth and serve it up for a healthy, warm and colorful meal for everyone.

I think what I have learned about cooking with fruits and vegetables is to use them everyday to make sure they get eaten, instead of thrown away.

Healthy Snacks To Try Between Meals

Whether I am on the go, or working around the home, I am always taking a quick break to fill up with some food for a little energy. One snack that I really enjoy has always been raisins. They hit the spot when mixed in with some nuts for a quick energy boost. Other types of nuts to try for the health benefits include: unsalted peanuts, brazil nuts, walnuts and pecans. Watch the numbers, though. Some are high in calories.

Another healthy snack is any homemade trail mix that omits the sweet milk chocolate. Instead, go with dark baking chocolate that is not sweetened if a chocolate fix is needed in the mix. It isn’t as damaging. Other items to try in the mix include nuts for protein, cranberries, raisins and sunflower seeds.

Another quick energy boost is two pieces of whole wheat bread with a little bit of honey and nuts in the middle. Don’t use white bread. Make sure it is whole wheat. If you want this to be a warm snack, stick it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Fruit has always been a great snack for me. I try to get at least 4 servings a day, if not more. I usually start with breakfast. Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, and pears all are great snacks in my book. Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries are also good snacks. For the berries, sometimes it is best to go frozen. Make certain there has been no sugar added to the frozen fruit to help with taste. I always grab honeycrisp apples when they go on sale. Bananas usually have to be eaten pretty quick in my neck of the woods. Our selection of oranges also is not very good, either. But, it is still a good snack when you can get it.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Take a few breaks when you can. And, energize your body with some water and food from time to time. Have a good one.



It Isn’t About Dieting. It’s about Eating Healthy.

With this new year comes the usual talk about diets. It’s time to diet because it is January. Well, if you want to live the rest of your life on a diet, I guess you should listen to the people selling those fad diets, low-calorie meals, and promises.

But, the truth is anyone will lose weight after they eliminate processed food, sugar, salt, fast-food, restaurant food, sugary drinks, and grocery store desserts and candy from their diet. All this food does to the body is destroy it. Think of it this way. What does your cat eat. Does his system handle the catfood pretty well? After you eat all of the food I listed above, what might happen to your system? I think the cat has a better diet.

Go back in time…..when many people were skinny. It was because they walked more. They had to walk to the bus, the train, their wagon, to get to work. How often are people sitting down in a chair or couch in a western movie or a photo from the 1800’s. What did these people eat? It wasn’t fast-food that’s for sure. What did they drink? I would guess tea, coffee, alcohol, or water.

When I started losing weight, I first eliminated what I knew caused my weight gain. I got rid of doughnuts in the morning. Then, I got rid of my cappuccino, and went back to straight coffee. When I had to eat away from home, I chose salads. I stopped my attraction to soda pop. I started drinking more water and tea. Then, my sugar fix became fruit instead of candy and sweets.

No, it wasn’t that easy. It took several years. It took a commitment and a determination that I would return to my college-time weight. With exercise everyday, a completely different menu for the food I eat daily, and by finding ways to stay busy, the weight has stayed off, so far.

For those who struggle with this issue…here’s two words: Stay positive!

January is Definately Winter Time

Now that the holidays have passed, its time for those cold winter months of January and February. It’s time to avoid those bitter cold days of winter by staying warm by the fireplace or stove inside. This is always my reading time.

However, sitting for too long is bad for your bones. So, the physical therapists and others say to get up for a few minutes before an hour passes. Here are some tips to help achieve that exercise time.

It’s Saturday morning. You have dishes to do. The dishwasher is running with yesterday’s dishes. So, you still have some more to do. But, you don’t want to use all of the hot water. Guess what you can do. Make hot water by heating it up in a pan. Then, pour the warm to hot water in your sink. Put some of the dirty dishes in the water to soak with some dishwashing soap for about an hour. That will make the cleaning easier.

While you are up, check the laundry. Do any clothes need put away or put in the dryer. Check the hamper. If the washer is empty, do some laundry that can be washed in cold water.

Do you have pets? Check their food and water. Just like humans, animals need quite a bit of water, too.

These are just a few of the many things that could be part of a “TO DO” list that a person can make to keep those bones active from time to time. It does help.

Other ideas that help with staying active include:

1) Don’t use the living room area as the dining room area.

2) Put all magazines and books in shelves that are away from the seats.

3) Take all dishes and glasses back to the kitchen sink area.

4) Put dirty clothes hampers or bags in every bedroom, and use them.

5) Put a broom in every room; and, teach everyone how to sweep.

6) Pick up your trash.

7) In this age of home deliveries, get a container for cardboard. Break the cardboard down everyday.

8) If you have kids, work with them on “Pick Up, Clean Up.” There are plenty of resources like PBSKids, Sesame Street, etc…. to help them learn.

9) Shoe racks and shoe warmers are great for the cold states. If you get snow in the winter time, you will want them.

These are just a few ideas to help someone stay active during the cold months, and still get in some exercise.