Winter can be a cozy, snuggly season where you find warmth and comfort, or it can transform you into a seasonally affected, slightly depressive person who’s constantly down in the dumps. Here are some ways to stay cheery and bright all winter long.
With the shortened daily hours, waking up early to exercise pre-work or staying energized post-work is a tough thing to do. Add in some colder temperatures at those times and you have a recipe for blowing off your workouts.
- Wake up anyway. It’s hard to wake up in what feels like the dark of night, but try to make yourself do it anyway. You’ll feel more awake and energized for your whole day and will be productive in your personal life after work.
- Warmth and shine. If you’re awake, but the cold and darkness still deter you, stock up on some warm and reflective winter workout gear. Think of the money spent as an investment to your health. Whether you stay warm walking to a class or are able to block the wind during a run, you’ll stay on your track to good health.
- Penciled in. Make appointments to exercise. If you like going to classes, schedule them ahead of time and put them in your calendar. Stick to them like an appointment where your presence is expected. If you enjoy going to the gym or exercising outside on your own time, still schedule it into your calendar and commit to your activity.
- Wilted winter green salad with squash. A salad but seasonal and filling.
- Veggie soups. Warming and nutritious.
- Canned pumpkin. Stir some (with spices!) into oatmeal or a blended juice. You can’t help but feel seasonal.
- Use a grill pan to cook your veggies and proteins. You’ll feel like it’s summer time all year round.
- Make plans with friends for after work so the night time hours don’t seem so depressing.
- Make those plans super charged by exercising together or trying a new healthy restaurant.
Food labels consciously and subconsciously guide our food purchasing behaviors. But it turns out there’s much more to the food label lingo then one would think. Most consumers have an understanding of what “healthy” means, but did you know that this word (and other words that seem simple and inherent) must actually meet regulations that are determined by the FDA? Here are some of my favorites, as seen in Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition.
(ex) “fat free” cookie
Free, in this sense, doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of something, but rather “nutritionally trivial.” For example, there may be a bit of fat in foods that are “fat free,” but in comparison to other foods and how your body processes it, it makes no difference. But in another regard, “trans-fat free” foods still may have a negligible about of trans-fat in the serving. So, if you eat many servings of a food that’s “trans-fat free” you may be getting more than a healthy amount of trans-fats in your diet.
Good Source Of
(ex) provides a “good source of” fiber
This food has between “10 and 19% of the daily value…per serving.”
(ex) a “healthy” choice food
This food is low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It contains at least 10% of the daily value for vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or fiber. Notice the “or” in this. A food doesn’t necessarily have to have all of these items to be healthy. That’s why varying the “healthy” foods you eat will help you create a well rounded diet that’s nutritionally adequate.
Light or Lite
(ex) light salad dressing
This food has one third fewer calories and 50% less fat and sodium than a comparison food.
(ex) “organic” bread
For a food to be deemed organic, atleast 95% of the ingredients within that food should be grown and processed in a way that fits USDA’s regulations. All I’m saying is, 95% isn’t 100%. See if you can eat organic, unprocessed food.
Your best bet? Read ingredients and nutrition facts to see what your food is really comprised of. If your food doesn’t have a nutrition label because it’s whole, natural, raw and organic, even better!
For many Americans, the majority of any given day is spent working. Because of this we must be mindful about how our jobs affect our bodies and our health. Many jobs are almost completely sedentary. The social, communal and sometimes depressing aspects of many offices make it that much more unhealthy. Here are some ways to create a healthier work environment.
Replace your chair.
Sitting on a physioball while at your computer will work the stabilizing muscles of your core. You must recruit those muscles to help you feel balanced and sit up straight. And who’s to say you can’t sneak in a few crunches when no one’s looking?
Take a stand.
If you’re able to stand while completing tasks, try to do so. This is tough to do if you don’t have a standing desk, but if your company will allow you to get one then go for it! When you stand, all of your muscles are working to keep your skeleton upright. Livestrong says you burn at least 50 more calories per hour if you stand.
The case for pacing.
If you’re the only one in the office working while standing then you may start making people nervous. If you’re forced to sit, then take frequent breaks from your desk. Get up to grab water, make copies or have a (project-related) chat with a co worker. Even if you have no purpose for it, stand up and do a lap around the office. You’ll arrive back at your desk refreshed and more focused. If you have to eat lunch while working on the computer, atleast leave the office to go pick up your food. That brief stint away from the fluorescent lights and computer screen will help you burn some of the calories you’re about to eat.
Beat the treats.
At this time of year especially, people start bringing treats to the office to pawn off on their fellow workers. (“If I bring these gingerbread cookies to the office then they won’t be staring at me when I get home from work and am too tired to make dinner…”) If someone announces that there’s a spread of waistline-compromising treats in the conference room, stay at your desk while the stampede goes to check out the loot. When the mad rush is over, the holiday treats will either be gone or severely picked over and less appetizing. You’ll definitely think twice.
Holiday office parties can be an easy way to embarrass yourself and decrease productivity. The free food and booze is alluring, but slurring to your boss and feeling hungover (from food and drink!) the next day at work is just not worth it. Keep your drink count in check and try to eat a healthy meal that will help you hold your alcohol. You’ll be glad you stayed sober(ish) when your to do list is completed the next day.
Love what you do!
Then you will always enjoy how you spend the majority of your day. You will be less stressed and reap the full rewards of your work. The best part about it? It won’t feel like a job!
We hope you find a happy and healthy work environment this holiday!
Science is constantly helping and hurting our understanding of nutrition. Recent studies explain what the future of nutrition could be like, but old habits die hard and there is usually a debate between old school and new school, or in this case old science and new science.
Regardless of what the reports tell you is good or bad, let’s get back to some nutrition basics and revisit the core of what we actually eat.
Minerals, water, vitamins
Minerals: They do not provide energy for the body, but they can be found throughout fluids and structures of the body.
Vitamins: These help facilitate the breakdown of energy from the energy yielding nutrients.
Water: This is essential to maintain the composition and functions of the body, which is composed of mostly water.
Instead of taking supplements, try to get your vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. You can maximize the amount of nutrients you receive from food by eating foods raw or cooked at a low temperature. Beware of adding too much extra water to any cooking process since the water can be a vehicle for taking vitamins and minerals out of foods.
Carbs, protein, fat
These give the body energy by providing calories. The calories are broken down by the body to be used as fuel whether it’s for everyday activity and/or exercise. Eating foods with a lower energy density gives you more “bang for your buck” in terms of calories. Fattening foods are usually higher in energy density, meaning they have more calories. An example in Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition illustrates that having two doughnuts (high energy density) for breakfast has about the same caloric value of eating a small bowl of cereal with milk, a small cup of fruit salad, a scrambled egg, a sausage link and a piece of toast. The foods eaten in the lower energy density breakfast will also take longer to burn. You’ll have more sustained energy and increased nutrients instead of empty calories and a lack of nutritional value.
Finding a balance of all of these nutrients in your meals will optimize your nutrition and the health of your body. Be on the look out for some more nutrition posts coming soon!
Over my Thanksgiving holiday I of course had to get in some running. I ran twice: once on Friday and once yesterday. I had such trouble running in the cold the last time I was in Massachusetts, so I suited up and hoped for the best. To make sure I could continue running in the cold, I recently bought a pullover from Lululemon. The “cuffin” (cuff + mitten = cuffin) feature is the absolute best.
I was toasty warm and on my way. My breathing was labored, but I’m proud to report that I’ve definitely gotten more acclimated to running in the cold and didn’t have too much of a problem.
The best part of yesterday’s run was my realization during it. First, I noticed what I’ll call “the suburban run nod.” Every runner or walker I passed would nod, wave and say hello. I thought how friendly and nice it was to have this camaraderie with my fellow outdoor exercisers, and thought how great it would be if this happened in New York. Then I realized if this were actually the case, I’d be a running bobble head. A nod for every person you saw outdoors when you ran? It’d be constant! It then made me sad to think that even at 7am on a Sunday I saw so many cars on the road and very few people out walking or running. I reflected on my own very sedentary weekend, how I was antsy and pacing around the house. It made me thankful for New York and the active lifestyle of the city. I love that even if I don’t fit in a work out on a particular day, I still walk miles. Yesterday morning’s crisp air, bright sun and pretty views made me feel invigorated and excited to be outdoors. Sure, my solitude was interrupted by a few run nods, but it only made me more grateful for the wonderful city in which I live and more hopeful that the suburban run nod eventually stops…because there are too many people exercising outdoors!
Now if only I could see this on my New York jogs.
The Run Around Girl
Plank clients and blog readers,
We’re writing to say thank you and to let you know how grateful we are. It’s seeing your faces every day that makes our job worth it. Your enthusiasm, energy and positivity are contagious and always appreciated. Thank you for being a part of our Plank community and for making it something wonderful to be involved in.
We hope you enjoy your family and friends today. Can’t wait to see you back in class!
The Plank Team