Archive for January, 2013

January 31, 2013

Great Kid Finds!

This week I wanted to share a couple of exciting kid related items that I recently came across. The first one is Bento Box lunches for kids. Lately I’ve been really struggling with my daughter to get her to eat fruits and vegetables. I really have to sneak them in or even resort to bribery at times….not good! Well late one evening while enjoying one of my favorite past times…surfing Pinterest – yes I probably need a “Pintervention”. I typed in “cute healthy meals for kids” and pins and pins of Bento Boxes appeared. They really are cute and healthy and more importantly very appealing to the discriminating eye of a picky five year old eater.

Bento Boxes make kids lunch healthy, fun and colorful. I love the idea of having the meal in one container with separate compartments, rather than two or three different containers and sandwich baggies. Bento lunches are meant to be pleasing to the eye as well as delicious and there are many ways to be creative while putting together a box for your child. Some people go all out when they’re packing a bento box. They design food art in the shape of hearts, trains, caterpillars, animals and even tv characters. There are many tools to use such as colorful silicone baking cups, themed food picks, cookie cutters and the actual container itself.

Hello Kitty Sandwich Obento sheep  wiltonsiliconecups bentopicks wiltoncutters

Knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming so I have attached many links that I found to be helpful and an excellent blog on the tools needed and what goes in the assembly of the box.

Start Here First – Great How-To on Bento Boxes
http://alphamom.com/family-fun/how-to-make-a-kids-bento-box

Blogs
http://www.meetthedubiens.com

http://www.bentolunch.net

Bento Inspiration
http://pinterest.com/bentousa

Recipes

http://www.aibento.net

Bento Buying Resources
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-keywords=bento+box

http://www.allthingsforsale.com

http://en.bentoandco.com

http://www.jlist.com/category/820
http://www.from-japan-with-love.com

 

artki
Next I recently came across Artkive in the App store. I am so excited about this app! I have two tubs filled with my daughter’s art work. I have never been able to throw any of it away and in kindergarten it seems all they do is make art! I have really stressed about this mounting clutter which my daughter is so very proud of. Well hooray for Artkive! This app digitally saves your children’s artwork and makes it easy to share with other family members and friends. You simply take a photo, tag it, and store your child’s artwork on the Artkive cloud. You can even create photo books from their art which is my next home project!

artkivehomepage-300x248

I have attached this cute video from Artkive.  I must confess I did try to throw away a few things but I was caught red handed so this gave me a little laugh!

www.artkiveapp.com
The App Store – $2.99

GapKids/DVF Collaboration

dvf_gap
GapKids just announced their second collaboration with Diane Von Furstenberg. The collection will hit stores in April. I’m guessing there will be some adorable summer clothes and beach wear! Looking forward to picking up some pieces for my little Fashionista.

On a separate note, while researching this topic I found out Gap Inc. just purchased Intermix, a luxury boutique. Not sure what that means for either company maybe more style for Gap? And more affordable prices at Intermix? I doubt it! Hopefully some new designer collaborations at Gap… well a girl can dream!

Kathy, Fit Fashionista

January 30, 2013

Avoiding The Pitfalls of Nighttime Eating

Avoiding The Pitfalls of Nighttime Eating

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Do you ever find yourself so easily walking away from that yummy looking cinnamon roll with no problem at all in the morning and then fall prey to it right before bed? I have been there. And as someone who tries trying to stick to a clean and healthy diet, this can be so frustrating! I would get so mad at myself for having such great discipline all day long and then at nightfall go into a feeding frenzy. I was so MINDLESSLY consuming the majority of my calories after dark. I would do this even though I knew that this is actually when my body has the lowest need for calories.   I know that I am not alone. Studies from the Department of Agriculture show that “in America, we eat more during dinner than any other meal”. And not only that, after dinner is the second highest snacking time.

Like many of you, I lead a busy life. I am a working mom and by the end of the day, I can easily find myself emotionally and physically depleted. Because of this, I know that my willpower is tested more at night and find that I am more vulnerable to the pitfalls of nighttime binge eating. So here are several strategies that I try to put in place daily to help set myself up for success when the sun goes down.

Eat regularly throughout the day. When one’s glucose levels are down, studies show
that you are more susceptible to lose your self-control.  So when we don’t stay on top of our eating throughout the day, we are setting ourselves up for failure at the worst time of the day to consume high amounts of calories. Instead of fasting and ending up starving at night, make sure you eat small meals containing protein.  This is one of the best ways to not only lose weight but also maintain it long-term.

Have a plan. If you know you are likely to search the pantry late at night, put a plan in place in case you give in. Set out a healthy snack such as fruit or raw vegetables. This will lower your chances to act impulsively. And if you do end up snacking on your healthy snack, don’t do it standing up in front of the fridge. Make your self sit down and mindfully pay attention to each bite.

Find other ways to relax. Eating can become the way that people wind down after a long, stressful day.  Instead of mindlessly eating the whole bag of chips in one sitting, set in place a nightly routine that helps you wind down; whether that’s reading, taking a bath, or watching your favorite show.

Shut down the kitchen. Clean the kitchen and turn out the lights. Make sure you put away all of your trigger foods and only leave out your healthy “go-to” snack. By shutting down the kitchen you are less likely to wander in there and act impulsively.

Make green tea or set out a glass of water. Sipping on a hot glass of green tea or setting out a glass of water can be a good way to distract your mind from food. Sometimes a little distraction can help break this nighttime cycle.

Rest and Recharge. Since we know that we are more susceptible to losing our self-control while we are tired, make sure you are getting the appropriate amount of rest each night. Give yourself 7-9 hours at night to recharge your body. Also, try to take small breaks to be relax your mind throughout day.

And at the end of the day, we all have weak moments and can falter on a plan. If this happens don’t beat yourself up. Instead, empathize with yourself for struggling, stop the negative self-chatter, and take note of where the plan faltered. Then you are ready make changes to set yourself up for success the next day.

Love yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Loren Silas

January 29, 2013

Family photos

Family photos are often a treasured item that last a lifetime. Except for my family, the stress of coming up with what we wanted to do for them stopped us from doing them. I didn’t want the kind of photos you see on that site awkward family photos (if you ever need a good laugh and have a few free minutes, you should totally check it out. http://www.akwardfamilyphotos.com). We are not the blue jeans, white shirt, barefoot, walking hand in hand in the forest kind of family (and if that is your family, that is totally cool and I bet your photos are amazing, that is just not us).

So my husband kept saying, “think of something honey!” I went on Pinterest, and I asked my friends on Facebook, but nothing felt right. I saw some pretty cool ideas on Pinterest (a social media tool I am finally start to use more…did you know the HH have a Pinterest account now? http://pinterest.com/healthywives/). So I finally just said, “everybody get dressed in whatever!” I figured, let’s just let our personalities shine through and see what happens. 

We went to a park near our house and did just that. Bianca was throwing sticks and we were yelling (you know, gentle encouraging) at her to put them down. Adrianna was throwing out ideas that totally involved her being the center of attention (not sure where she gets that from! just kidding). I was ticked off because it was windy and my hair was messing up, and Jason kept reminding me to chill out. The photographer just kept clicking. And what we got were some of the most awesome, authentic, shots of our family. We even did one with our phones (as an inside joke of how hard it is to unplug these days) and one pretending to be zombies (our families obsession). 

So what is the point of this article? To remind you to be you. When you look back twenty years from now on your family photos, do you want to see stiff hands, in genuine smiles, and looks of terror as your family is posed awkwardly? Or, do you want to be able to look at that picture, tilt your head back and smile, easily being brought back to that moment in time?

Family photos don’t have to be painful. In fact, they should be just the opposite!ImageImageImagehttp://www.facebook.com/pkphotography2013

January 28, 2013

Whiter Teeth in a Flash

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If you’ve been considering whitening your teeth but haven’t done the deed yet, consider this, “Since teeth naturally yellow as we age, whitening them will automatically make you look younger”, says Kim Harms, DDS, a practicing dentist and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. What’s more, a 2008 Columbia University Study found that women with healthier-looking teeth earn more than those with less sparkling grins. Sign me up!

So let’s look at the different options out there and what’s best for you. Whiteners work in gel, strip, or liquid form to dissolve surface stains on your teeth. The enamel of your teeth is extremely porous and absorbs pigments from food and drinks. Peroxide bubbles on those surfaces and lightens those pigments.
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If you have certain kinds of dental work, i.e. veneers, caps, or crowns, remember lighteners will not penetrate those surfaces. Likewise, stains caused by antibiotics, and tetracycline are also very hard to remove, so see your dentist. They will know which methods are best for you.

At home kits
Easiest to use: Rembrandt Whitening Strips $24 for 7 sets, drugstore.com, results in 4 days

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Slide the thin plastic film over your teeth and let the peroxide soak in for 30 minutes once a day. Users said they are comfortable to wear, and there’s no goop to ooze out. However, they can cause sensitivity on gums, but it went away in a couple of days. Also, the flavor wasn’t the
best.

Biggest change: GoSmile Advanced Formula $89 for 20 ampoules, sephora.com, results in 2 days
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Pop open the ampoule and swab on the whitening formula twice a day-no rinsing or brushing. One tester said she couldn’t even tell the whitener was on her teeth.

Fastest: Aquafresh White Trays $40 for 7 sets, Walgreens.com, results in 1 day
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Pre filled trays are slipped over your teeth for 30-45 minutes once a day. Users said the treatment is convenient, and the gel doesn’t taste bad.

If you see a pro:
The whitening agents salons and dentists use are 3times more powerful than home versions, and you’ll see results faster. For a dramatic change consider laser whitening. First, rubber guards are placed over the gums to protect from sensitivity. Then teeth are coated with a bleaching agent and a light is aimed at them to activate the gel. The entire procedure lasts about an hour and could whiten your teeth 6-8 shades in one visit and cost about $249.
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Good luck ladies! Share with us what has worked for you.
Cheers,
Shelly

January 28, 2013

HH UPDATES

The HH at the Dallas SAG award party.

The HH at the Dallas SAG award party.

Hey HH family!

I hope all is well. Here in HH land, we are busy working away to bring you a successful 2013. We have been working like crazy to get the new website up, a book, and even a monthly column is a popular health & fitness magazine! Let me share some of our fun endeavors we have coming up…

New HH website!

New HH website!

Website: Our new website will be very user friendly. We will have all kinds of new blogs, post, fitness videos, health tips videos, products, and much more. My web designer and I have worked really hard on it and can’t wait to share it with you! (I have been wanting to launch a new site for about a year now and I am finally accomplishing it.) It should be done in a few weeks, I will keep you posted so make sure to check back.

Debbie-the owner of Natural Muscle Magazine

Debbie-the owner of Natural Muscle Magazine

Monthly column in Natural Muscle Magazine: The Healthy Housewives will have a 2 page mnthly column in Natural Muscle Magazine. As some of you know, I am a contributing writer for Natural Muscle magazine. I have a  page GO GREEN column. Writing about health and fitness is a passion of mine and I am alwasy excited to share my health tip with you. I was estatic when Debbie, the owner of Natural Muscle Magazine, suggested we change up my column up a bit to include my new Healthy Housewives brand. I thought that was a genius idea to include my HH ladies so we can share our health tips with you. All 5 of us will be sharing our tips with you starting in March 2013 this year! You can go to www.naturalmuscle.net to subcribe or see where they carry the magazine near you. Here is our specialties-

Marzia: Fitness and Nutrition

Shelly: Beauty and Skincare

Brooke: Health & Wellness and Pets

Kathy Hamilton: Fashion

Danielle Hinson: Family Health

The Healthy Housewives

The Healthy Housewives

Book: We are in the process of writing a book/cook book. We are 5 different women with 5 different healthy lifestyles. Not one healthy lifestyle is better than the other. We do what works for us, with the resources we have, at that moment in time. We do our best to be healthy for ourselves, our family, and the planet. We give your favorite meals an eco-friendly make over while giving you personal tips from our daily lives. We are a new breed of housewives!

We have so much more coming that I can’t just spill all the beans just yet. But, I want to let you know that you won’t be dissapointed!

Thank you for being a part of the HH family. We welcome all your feed back! Thank you for coming along our journey!

Looking forward to a fun filled year!

Marzia

January 25, 2013

For Our New Friends . . . Hello!

Mongoose heelo

Happy Friday to our Healthy Housewives family! My name is Brooke Berryhill, and I am your go-to gal for Health and Wellness as well as Animals (specifically, Pets). I’m really excited to be a part of this group of amazing women—each of us is blazing our own trail in healthy living as we lift each other up and hopefully inspire you along the way! I’ll share a little bit of my story, and I look forward to hearing from you as well.

I’m an East Texas girl, having grown up in the beautiful Piney Woods of Longview. If you have had the good fortune to pass through Longview, you’ll appreciate how very lovely it is. I went on to Texas A&M University, where my love affair with iced coffee drinks and staying up very late really took hold. Then I was blessed to meet my husband, John, and life became even sweeter. We’ve been married for 14 years, he makes me laugh every day, and thankfully he shares my love of animals, P.F. Chang’s, and America’s Next Top Model—really, what else could you ask for in a husband?

My love

My love

I graduated with a degree in English and proceeded to spend the next 10 years as a copyeditor, providing the grammatical spit and polish to everything that I could get my hands on—science textbooks, advertising copy, medical test-prep, and romance novels (my favorite!). Then, after spending years combing the written word, I felt called to nurture people more than manuscripts and became a licensed massage therapist. And what a beautiful gift massage therapy has been for me! As a therapist, I can provide a nurturing and safe place for people to rest, to heal, and to feel more peaceful than when they walked in. I also love educating my clients on how to take better care of themselves. As the Wellness Director at a lovely retirement community, I get to do this every day as I create brand-new health and wellness programs for our staff and residents.

Pretty Lucy

Pretty Lucy

Something else that brings me (and you too, I hope) great joy are animals. I love all animals! Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and hug a snake or anything—but I will be the one rushing past you to the nearest door as I rescue that scary spider or tiny pink gecko (by holding a well-placed cup and sturdy envelope, of course)! My love of animals is deep and abiding, and it led me to become a vegetarian many years ago. I strive to live compassionately toward people and animals, and I’m always looking for fabulous products and fashions that are created cruelty free. Now, truth be told, if I could shelter and protect all the animals in the world, I would. But since my house is not quite big enough for that, I will introduce you to my current furry family members: Lucy (snow-white, very smart, snuggly, and has lots to say);  Tiki (brown-ticked tabby, ultra affectionate, very mischievous, and wheels-off crazy); and Bit Bit (small golden-orange tabby, Tiki’s brother/partner in crime, unbelievably sweet, and cute as a bug).

Happy New Year to Tiki

Happy New Year to Tiki

Bit Bit wants more toys!

Bit Bit wants more toys!

That’s my story for now. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and see you again next week!

Brooke

January 23, 2013

The Journey to a Happier Healthier Housewife

My family

My family

 

I wasn’t always a health nut or a fitness lover! I’m not going to tell you that it was smooth sailing becoming both, it wasn’t. I had my ups and downs. I went back to old habits. I went through periods of terrible negative self-talk and excuses while at the gym. However, at the end of the day, all those valleys I trudged through, led me to a harmonious place- a place where fitness and nutrition are now a part of my life and the life of my family. A life welcomed with open arms and without fear. There is a balance! A balance between eating healthy, still enjoying “not-so-healthy” treats, not spending hours in the gym; all while balancing the things that matter most in your life-your family!

 

Throughout my journey I came upon several realizations:

  1. “If I don’t love myself through thick, I won’t love myself through thin”. I had to change my internal dialogue from negative self-talk to positive self-talk. Loving and encouraging thoughts were a must! Instead of hating that my thighs were not exactly the way I wanted them to be I reminded myself that my legs are power houses! My legs will do whatever I ask of them- for that I am grateful! Instead of beating myself up over a “cheat meal” that turned into a “cheat day I chose to remind myself that tomorrow is another day. Another chance to “get it right”. I found strength in my choices.  It is up to me to choose a positive outlook.  It is up to me to choose to push myself out of my comfort zone in the gym.  It is up to me to choose to nourish my body with nutrient rich foods.  My results are based on my choices! I decide!
  2. The scale is worthless.  Throw it out! I do not weight myself… ever! It simply does not matter what the scale says!  That number holds no value to me! So many different factors affect our weight- water, activity level, sodium, menstrual cycle etc.  What is truly rewarding is not a number on the scale but how strong I feel and the positive changes in my lifestyle.  Non-scale victories quickly became my new best friend-“I lifted heavier weights today”, “I stayed consistent with my good nutrition this week”, “I didn’t use my inhaler once during today’s workout!”  I’m not a NUMBER or a SIZE! I’m awesome!
  3. Honesty. I choose to be honest with myself.  In order to be truly successful I had to face reality.  I was fudging my workouts and my nutrition.  I was eating clean all day and then blowing it at dinner time. I was eating junk with the mindset: “I’ll just burn it off tomorrow”.  I was cutting out of group exercise classes 15min early and quitting during my own workouts before I was truly worn out.  All of those “little” things added up and kept me from reaching my goals.  I decided I had to be honest with myself when it came to the kitchen and the gym!  My actions needed to be in line with my goals.  I needed to challenge myself in ALL areas if I truly wanted to change.
  4. Being consistent and embracing the journey.  My final realization was that results don’t happen overnight.  I have to be patient! I have to stay consistent!  It is about working hard day in and day out.  Major lifestyle changes don’t come without hard work, sacrifice and will power.  You have to work for it and earn it!  The reward of achieving your goals is unbelievably sweet!
I challenged myself to compete

I challenged myself to compete

Through sheer persistence and will, from knowing nothing at the start of this journey and being uncomfortable in my skin, I became confident and successful.   I practiced will power, threw out the scale and chose to be positive and embrace my body.   I stopped dreading workouts and the broccoli in my meals.  I embraced the sweat dripping down my cheeks, my heart pounding, the burn in my muscles and the foods that made me stronger.  I became knowledgeable in the gym and in the kitchen.  Every single day full of good choices brought me that much closer to a happier, healthier me.  I was leading by example for my family.  We are no longer junk food junkies! We are a happy, healthy family unit!

Make the choice! Be patient, love yourself, work hard, be consistent and stay positive.  Repeat this day in and day out and you will get there! If you fall, pick yourself up and start again.  The journey to success is spotted with failures that in the end make us stronger.  Winners never quit and quitters never win!

Thank you,

Erin Meyers

 

January 22, 2013

It starts with food….

My little Bianca is what I love to call  a “hot mess”…which means she constantly has the wiggles. She cannot sit still, and I am not exaggerating. She spins when she walks, and jumps on the furniture, has no inside voice, and often looks like she has major ants in her pants at all times. So, what do we do? This not something I foresee her growing out of…some days its really frustrating. She does pretty well in school, but I know she could do better if she could focus. But, I will not put my child on medicine. I just won’t…and if you do, that is your parental decision, and I don’t judge you…but for me, its not something I am willing to do. So …now what?

Well, It starts with food…literally. I am going to make my child my own guinea pig. I am going to do the Whole30 with her to see if removing certain things from her diet can help her function better with more focus and less “wiggles”. If you are not familiar with the Whole30, then a great book for you to pick up would be the title of this blog, It Starts With Food. You can also check out their website at http://www.whole9life.com.

This book is literally changing my view on they way we have been eating in my household, and even though I have been eating “healthy” has really opened my eyes to some of the things that go on within our family. From Bianca’s energetic behavior, to my husband’s need for late night snacking, to even my own inability to turn off my brain at night before I go to sleep.

So here is my  challenge to you. Would you be interested in joining me and Bianca (eventually my husband and our older daughter Adrianna will go through it too, but I want to focus on just Bee and me at first) for thirty days of a life changing experience? If so, let me know via our Healthy Housewives Facebook page.  I will create a private facebook group for us to communicate in and will let you know step by step day by day what you need to do…and then perhaps you can be one of our guest bloggers when its complete to let all the HH fans know your results and what you discovered about yourself and your body.

 

I am excited for this LIFE CHANGING experience….the question is, will you join me?

Unknown Unknown-1

 

January 21, 2013

Help for Hyperpigmentaion

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If you’re someone who has suffered with dark spots, pigmentation and uneven skin tone for years, it’s finally time to take control and banish them for good. With today’s arsenal of lotions, potions, esthetic treatment peels, and lasers, there’s tons of treatments options for every budget and lifestyle.

First let’s talk about the types of hyperpigmentation and how it’s caused.

There are three main types of hyperpigmentation, each of which is categorized by their cause.

*Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). This occurs following skin injury from acne lesions, psoriasis, burnsIt begins to fade as the skin regenerates itself—a process that can take months or more. On the positive side, PIH generally responds well to treatment.
*Lentigines. These are commonly known as liver spots or age spots. Although they do become more prevalent with age—they are found on 90% of light-skinned individuals over the age of 601—they are not directly caused by the aging process. Rather, lentigines are related to UV exposure.
*Melasma. This is caused by hormonal fluctuations, common, for example, during pregnancy, with thyroid dysfunction, and through use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. It affects an estimated five to six million women in the United States alone and can often be difficult to treat.

Although not considered a main cause, certain illnesses, as well as the use of certain prescription medications, may cause hyper-pigmentation.

*UV exposure. Questions surrounding these topics may pinpoint UV exposure as a cause of hyperpigmentation, while determining if the skin care professional should be on the lookout for signs of melanoma.

Use of tanning beds and unprotected UV exposure
Frequency of sunscreen usage
Likelihood of burning when exposed to the sun

Now let’s look at the best ways to treat these conditions.

*topicals medications/creams
Hydroquinone. 2%-4% This is frequently referred to as the gold standard for hyperpigmentation and with good reason: It has been used for more than 50 years and is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved product for skin lightening. It is often formulated with antioxidants, retinoids and hydroxy acids to improve results. Unfortunately, it can be irritating to certain individuals and may cause serious reactions when used in high concentrations.

Azelaic acid. This was developed for the treatment of acne. However, it has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, especially PIH from acne lesions. In one study, it demonstrated results similar to 4% hydroquinone, but without its side effects.

Kojic acid. This is a naturally occurring derivative of certain fungal species that features an efficacy similar to hydroquinone. In fact, hydroquinone and glycolic acid can produce better results when kojic acid is added to the formulation.

Mandelic acid. This AHA is derived from almonds and is used in the treatment of several skin conditions, including all types of hyperpigmentation. It is often combined with salicylic acid and administered as a peel, in which case it has fewer side effects than a glycolic peel and has demonstrated better efficacy.
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Another great treatment option for hyperpigmentation are laser treatments. Lasers such as the Ruby and Q-switched ND:YAG reach the dark spots deep in the skin, converting light to heat, and literally blow up dark spots which then flake off the skin. Though the procedure only takes a few minutes redness and scabbing can occur; recovery time is about a week. At about $700 per treatment and you typically will need more than one.
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Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments or photo facials can also help hyperpigmentation with no downtime and a week of what is called “peppering” may occur. At about $150-200 per treatment recommended in 3-6 treatments 3weeks apart.

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Prevention is key

With all clients, especially those undergoing treatment for hyperpigmentation, preventive measures are vital. The necessity of daily sunscreen application cannot be emphasized enough. Too often, clients are the cause of recurrent hyperpigmentation due to a nonchalant attitude toward sun exposure. Listen to your skin care therapist!!

Following treatment for hyperpigmentation, a more focused approach to daily skin care should be implemented. Clients can much better maintain the positive effects of treatment through the use of professional skin care product lines that include proven active ingredients coupled with effective delivery systems. As is recommended for all individuals, a regimen involving four steps—cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and protect—should be standard.

Cheers!
Shelly

January 21, 2013

Chasing Those Winter Blues Away, Part II

Love this kitty!

Love this kitty!

Hi! It’s Brooke again, with some tips to help you enjoy the winter months, even if you don’t love being wrapped in 3 layers before venturing outside. In my last blog, I mentioned seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and some of its possible causes. However, you don’t have to be officially diagnosed with SAD to get down in the dumps and bored during this time of year. Our days are shorter, nights are longer and colder, and activities are driven indoors and away from the happy, if watery, shine of the winter sun. I noticed this recently when my husband and I went to the mall to see a movie—apparently all of the DFW Metroplex decided to join us at the theater. Talk about cramping our style!

So, what can you do to bring a little more pep to your step? Here are just a few ideas:

sunshine over water

1. Get your walk on: Walking outside, especially in the morning, not only gets your blood pumping and muscles moving, increasing your serotonin levels, but also reunites you with that precious sunlight that will not only cheer you up but help your body produce vitamin D, usually in short supply this time of year. If the weather’s too cold even for walking, hitting a treadmill or walking the mall works in a pinch.

2. Boost your “feel-good” hormones: During the wintertime, serotonin is absorbed more quickly by the body, which causes dips in this mood-boosting hormone. Serotonin levels can be improved in several ways, but two of the easiest are ensuring that your exercise and your diet are on track.

woman with DB sexy

Add this pic to my vision board–done!

  • According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, for important health benefits, adults should perform at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week OR at least 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Remember, aerobic activity can still be beneficial to you when it’s broken down into 10- or 15-minute increments, done several times a day. Also, the guidelines recommend that adults participate in strength training, concentrating on working the large muscle groups at least 2 times each week. For more information, check out the guidelines (http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/default.aspx). They make a great resource for getting your family involved in healthy living!
  • When you exercise and really break a sweat or push yourself, your body releases a flood of hormones, including serotonin (the “happy” hormone) and endorphins (hormones that reduce the sensation of pain and make you feel giddy or euphoric). Sign me up!
  • In The Serotonin Secret, author Dr. Caroline Longmore suggests adding serotonin-rich foods to each of your meals. Her ideal sources of this hormone include bean sprouts, spinach, asparagus, turkey, pineapple, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, tofu, and bananas. And look! These foods are also wholesome and clean.

3. Catch plenty of ZZZZs: We’ve heard this 100 times, but getting plenty of sleep is important for so many reasons. During the darker winter months, our biological clock is affected by the lack of bright light, shorter days, and longer periods of “nighttime” in which we must still function. If you haven’t already guessed, the biological clock is closely tied to proper functioning of a healthy body. So, when our clock is messed up, namely during the time changes each year, we are really thrown for a loop until our system becomes accustomed to the new routine. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns and moods, and when we have poor-quality sleep or just don’t get enough shut-eye, we cannot function at our best and are more likely to feel down and mopey. Getting at least 7-8 hours of good, deep sleep will do you a world of good (I’m still waiting to experience this—I’ll let you know what it feels like!).

4. Add some magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps in muscle contraction/relaxation, energy production and transport, protein synthesis, and enzyme production. It even helps us sleep more deeply, which is great news. You can supplement your diet with magnesium found in vitamins, but whole foods are even better. Sources of magnesium include black beans, raw broccoli, spinach, nuts, tofu, whole grains, and some fish.

food-sources-of-magnesium

5. Lighten up: In addition to getting outside for at least 15 minutes, if possible, you can improve your mood by gathering closer to windows and skylights during the day or using “daylight” bulbs (more blue than yellow light) or fluorescent lighting.

  • Some businesses even use special “skyboxes,” or light boxes installed on the ceiling in lieu of skylights. These installations brighten up office spaces with little or no natural light, and they can even be designed to simulate various weather and sky conditions across the office ceiling.
  • There are also personal light boxes, which are prescribed by physicians and used therapeutically to reduce symptoms of SAD. These boxes of powerful light bulbs come in various strengths and are used only in timed doses (anywhere from 5-30 minutes at a time). As you can imagine, this therapy can be easily abused, but you can gain similar benefit from using brighter, blue-tinged lights in your home or office.
  • Dawn simulators are helpful if your biological clock has been monkeyed around with by the changing seasons. These simulators are used as alarm clocks, with or without alarm sounds. The light, situated on your nightstand, begins to glow very dimly, gradually growing brighter over 30-45 minutes, until the light is brightest at your programmed “wake” time. This cool machine is designed to simulate the longer amount of morning sun that we enjoy in the spring and summer. Success with the simulator takes some trial and error, until you find your appropriate range of “sunrise,” but it has been proven to help those who struggle with seasonal blues as well as SAD.
Doesn't she look happy and well-rested?

Doesn’t she look happy and well-rested?

A quick Google search will yield countless tips and tricks for dealing with the winter blues. All you need is a few good ideas that work for you. I hope you enjoy each day, whether chilly and cloudy or bright and sunny. Have a lovely one!

~Brooke