I spend time pouring over different social media feeds to glean material that someone else might find interesting enough to stop and read. Needless to say I end up reading a lot of tidbits that sometimes pop 
up in everyday conversation. One thing I have noticed is, you can find a "study" to support almost any idea you have in the fitness, health, nutrition world. So how do you decide what advice to take? Every fad diet, juice cleanse or food group that needs to be eliminated supports the idea of extremes. I'm going to suggest a new trend that probably has a study to back it up somewhere too, MODERATION. 
Eat meat sparingly-but eat it, eat fruits and vegetables and gasp! Bread (the dreaded carbs!) but  in moderation. Eat some chocolate once in a while without feeling guilty. And if the Girl Scouts come knocking on your door, buy a few boxes.  
If you feel like you overdid it, go for a walk, hike, bike ride, run, swim, get outside and burn a few calories! Your body will
Thank you. 

Another extreme example, there was a diet a few years ago where you were supposed to stuff yourself for a couple days before starting the diet to see the dramatic weight loss once you started the diet. What??! Extremes!!  I'm convinced I could start a completely new fad with this Moderation idea. Now how do I create a "study" to back me up?


Stress is something most of us deal with on some level. And it's increasing, given the rising use of anti-anxiety medications. Meditation allows people to take charge of their own nervous system and emotions. Studies have shown improved ability to [permanently] regulate emotions in the brain. 
It improves concentration. 

You can become more centered and focused in everything you do. At least one study has shown an improved ability to multitask.  Meditation has been linked to a number of things that lead to increased ability to focus, memory …  Greater concentration is related to the increased energy meditation provides. it connects you with your real source of energy.

It Creates Desire For A Healthy Lifestyle

You become more aware of your body and tend to want more things that are better for yourself. Apply the Hippocratic oath -- "First, do no harm" -- to yourself. You just want to put good things in your body. That means "closest to what's natural. Becoming more intune with yourself allows you to see what nutrients your body needs and your desire for healthier foods and exercise may increase. 

Meditation Can Make You Happier

"Meditation puts you on the fast track to being happy," says Ronnie Newman, director of research and health promotion for the Art of Living Foundation.  Studies have shown that brain signaling increases in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for positive emotions, while activity decreases in the right side, responsible for negative emotions, Newman says. The other benefits of meditation, including increased self-awareness and acceptance, also contribute to improved overall well-being.Studies show that meditation changes brain physiology to slow aging. "Cognition seems to be preserved in meditators," says Sara Lazar, a researcher at Harvard University. Lazar adds that meditators also have more gray matter – literally, more brain cells. Lazar's colleague, Elizabeth Hoge, did a study that showed that meditators also have longer telomeres, the caps on chromosomes indicative of biological age (rather than chronological). That meditation lengthens life "may be a bit of a stretch," Hoge says. "But there is something about meditation that is associated with longer telomeres … [perhaps that] it reduces stress and its effects on the body."

The practice benefits cardiovascular and immune health. Meditation induces relaxation, which increases the compound nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up and subsequently, blood pressure to drop. One study, published in 2008 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed that 40 of 60 high blood pressure patients who started meditating could stop taking their blood pressure medication. Meditation may also improves immunity. Studies have shown those that meditate tend to get sick less often. Meditation may be a new practice you want to explore to improve your awareness of  body and mind. 

Make Mistakes And Get Moving

A study recently published from Baycrest Health Sciences suggests that making mistakes while learning can benefit memory and lead to the correct answer, but only if the guesses are close-but-no-cigar.
"Making random guesses does not appear to benefit later memory for the right answer , but near-miss guesses act as stepping stones for retrieval of the correct information - and this benefit is seen in younger and older adults," says lead investigator Andrée-Ann Cyr, a graduate student with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute and the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto.
Cyr's latest research provides evidence that trial-and-error learning can benefit memory in both young and old when errors are meaningfully related to the right answer.
The researchers wanted to know if participants would be better at remembering rose if they had made wrong guesses prior to studying it rather than seeing it right away. They found that this was only true if participants learned based on the categories (e.g., a flower). Cyr and her colleagues suggest this is because our memory organizes information based on how it is conceptually rather than lexically related to other information. For example, when you think of the word pear, your mind is more likely to jump to another fruit, such as apple, than to a word that looks similar, such as peer. Wrong guesses only add value when they have something meaningful in common with right answers. 
 By guessing first as opposed to just reading the answer, one is thinking harder about the information and making useful connections that can help memory. Indeed, younger and older participants were more likely to remember the answer if they also remembered their wrong guesses, suggesting that these acted as stepping stones. By contrast, when guesses only have letters in common with answers, they clutter memory because one cannot link them meaningfully. The word rope is nowhere close to rose in our memory. In these situations, where your guesses are likely to be out in left field, it is best to bypass mistakes altogether.
"The fact that this pattern was found for older adults as well shows that aging does not influence how we learn from mistakes," says Cyr.
"These results have profound clinical and practical implications. They turn traditional views of best practices in memory rehabilitation for healthy seniors on their head by demonstrating that making the right kind of errors can be beneficial. They also provide great hope for lifelong learning and guidance for how seniors should study," says Dr. Nicole Anderson, senior scientist with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute and senior author on the study.

Another study published shows the importance of physical activity on learning. There is myriad research that proves that students need adequate amounts of physical activity throughout the school day—not only do they prevent obesity and obesity-related issues, but they perform better academically also.
The CDC states, “…physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.”
And there’s more. Active Living Research says, “In some cases, more time in physical education leads to improved grades and standardized test scores.” In schools that are under government mandates to bridge the achievement gap (and when those mandates encourage “teaching to the test”), physical education can actually help improve the students’ scores. 
Exercise directly impacts the behavior and development of the brain for both young and old. “It is likely that the effects of physical activity on cognition would be particularly important in the highly plastic developing brains of youth and the aging brains of adults,” according to a 2010 essay penned by Charles Basch of Columbia University.

He summarized how exercise may affect executive functioning:
  • Increased oxygen flow to the brain
  • Increased brain neurotransmitters
  • “[Increased] brain-derived neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in the developing brain.” Neurotrophins assure the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking.
So what do these studies mean for you? Both young and old can benefit from memory activities that help us learn to guess based on information rather than just seeing the answer and trying to remember it. For young students this may mean a new approach in teaching and test taking and for the older population it will help in rehabilitation after stroke or other causes of memory loss. It also means that physical activity is a necessary component to learning and memory retention for the young and old and it keeps us fit through out our lives. When we stay physically and mentally active we are better able to enjoy our life experiences.  So make mistakes and get moving!!

Tips for a Healthy and Pain-free Holiday Season

The holiday season is all about tradition, fun, and family, but if we're not careful, the holidays can also be a pain.  Typical holiday activities, such as shopping "till you drop," lifting heavy boxes and presents, and countless hours of cooking and baking, can cause muscles to work harder than usual, many times resulting in neck, shoulder, and back pain.

This holiday season we encourage you to take precautions—from distributing the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body to lifting boxes carefully—in order to keeps aches and injuries from occurring.

Test an object's weight before attempting to lift a Christmas tree, heavy packages or luggage. Try pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy then take smaller loads, which are less likely to strain your back and are easier on arm and shoulder muscles.
Keep the load close to your body when lifting. Ask for help or use an assistive device to lift heavy objects.
Seek help from a physical therapist if your back pain lasts more than a few days or gets worse.

Holiday shopping can be stressful. Try to distribute the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body.
Consider carrying a small backpack rather than a heavy purse. Wear comfortable shoes; carrying packages while wearing high heels on hard surfaces can contribute to foot and ankle injuries. Don't carry overstuffed shopping bags for extended periods. Consider using a shopping cart or getting help to carry packages to your car.
Make frequent trips to the car to drop off purchases. Avoid prime shopping times to decrease wait times that can increase or exceed standing/walking time tolerances.
Plan your shopping trip ahead of time. Having a set list of gifts you intend to buy will help you plan for extra help, if needed, to carry purchases.

When baking choose a work surface that is approximately at the level of your forearms when your elbows are bent at a right angle (90 degrees) or at elbow height. Shoulders and upper back will be in better position and this will decrease the risk of upper back, neck, and shoulder strain. Work on a padded surface.  If you have tile, vinyl, or wood flooring, for cushioning consider purchasing an area rug  that has grippers on the back to keep the rug from moving and you from slipping or tripping. Standing too long periods on a hard surface can lead to muscle fatigue and back ache. Use good lifting technique when retrieving small kitchen appliances from lower shelves or drawers. Kneel down if necessary and keep the object close to your body. Frequently perform gentle exercises to keep the muscles in your neck and shoulders loose.

Take time to unwind and enjoy the holidays with exercise like yoga or stretching and meditation to reflect on all that you are thankful for at this time of year.

Live a Physically Active Life

You are never too young or too old to exercise. Most children get plenty of exercise because of their constant movement and energy. They run, skip, jump everywhere they go, to them, exercise is part of daily life.
Exercise has benefits at all ages.
Don't worry if you feel like you haven't been part of organized exercising or if you stopped exercising for some reason. Being physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age. In addition, the right kind of regular exercise can reduce your chance of heart disease, diabetes, and falls.
An effective exercise program needs to be fun and keep you motivated. Think back to when you were a child. what type of things made you happy? Roller skating? Riding a bike? Running around with your friends? Swimming?

Choose something that you enjoyed and try it again.  It helps to have a goal. Your goal might be:
Keep up with your kids/grand kids
Lose weight
Manage a health condition
Reduce stress
Improve your stamina
Your exercise program can also be a way for you to socialize. Taking exercise classes or exercising with a friend are both good ways to be social! There is probably a friend that would love a walking buddy, she/he just needs a little friendly nudge to get started.
You may have a hard time starting an exercise routine. Once you do start, though, you will begin to notice the benefits, including improved sleep and self-esteem. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly sleep better.
Exercise and physical activity have so many benefits for your body. Exercise can make it easier to do the things you want to do, it can help with your balance and walking, help with feelings of depression or anxiety and improve your mood.
It also helps to maintain your thinking skills (cognitive function) as you get older and prevents or treats diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancer, and osteoporosis.
Exercises can be grouped into four main categories, although many exercises fit into more than one category:
1. Aerobic exercise: This type of exercise increases your breathing and heart rate. These exercises help your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. They may prevent or delay many diseases, such as diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and heart disease.
Aerobic sports activities include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, biking, climbing, tennis, and basketball. Aerobic activities you can do every day include dancing, yard work, pushing your grandchild on a swing, and vacuuming.

2. Muscle strengthening: Improving your muscle strength can help you climb stairs, carry groceries, and stay independent.
You can build muscle strength by:
Lifting weights or using a resistance band, performing everyday activities, such as carrying a full laundry basket from the basement, carrying your smaller grandchildren, or lifting things in the garden.
3. Balancing exercises: Balance exercises help prevent falls, which is a concern for older adults. Many exercises that strengthen the muscles in the legs, hips, and lower back will improve your balance. It is often best to learn balance exercises from a physical therapist before starting on your own.
Balance exercises may include:
Standing on one foot
Walking heel-to-toe
Tai chi
Standing on tiptoe to reach something on the top shelf
Walking up and down the stairs
4. Stretching exercises: stretching can help your body stay flexible. To stay limber:
Learn shoulder, upper arm, and calf stretches
Take yoga classes
Do everyday activities, such as making your bed or bending over to tie your shoes.
Everyday exercise is important to continue living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

☀️ Summertime ☀️

Summertime. The mere mention conjures up an image in your mind. Think about it, some of your favorite memories probably revolve around the most relaxed and warmest season of the year. If a fun summer is a distant memory, it's time to create your own oasis of summer fun. Start with the whole family. Summer is a great time for the whole family to get fit. 

So what are the options in your neck of the woods? Your local chamber or commerce or city homepage can be a starting point. Many websites have city guides to your area. has some great options and breaks it down by intensity categories. 

Lower Level Intensity
Walking or walking tour
Water park

Moderate Level Intensity
Hiking or hiking tour
Kayaking or canoeing
Running event, such as a family 5K
Paddle boarding
Water skiing

High Level Intensity

Running a marathon
Bicycling race
Mountain biking
Rock climbing
White water rafting

Another option for the active family is to train and compete in a group event such as a color run, Mud run or a more intense Ragnar Relay. Designing an entire vacation around this type of event could make for awesome family memories!

The travel channel also boasts an impressive list of the top ten best family vacations. 

Whatever you decide to do, allow your whole family to participate and be included. So if you have little ones, you may need to modify your plan to accommodate the ages of your children. So the next time you hear "summertime" you'll recall some new adventures that include your whole family.

Just Do It

The alarm goes off you reach out, hit snooze to grab a few extra winks of sleep. Good, right? Unfortunately that one move can throw off the rest of your day. You have a decision to make when that annoying bleep begins, hit snooze and enjoy the comfort of your bed or burst into action and begin your day.  Sometimes that small choice can determine a lot.  To sleep or not to sleep? To exercise before or after work or not at all? To grab breakfast at home or on the run? So what motivates your decisions? Factors like stress, children and weather can all influence our actions but ultimately if we are motivated to succeed we will. Do you have a competitive nature? Find a friend or partner to push your goals farther. Do you find yourself wishing for a healthier lifestyle? Make small changes that will impact your day to day life.  

The best way to start your day is to plan ahead. The night before. Determine what the day holds and stick to your plan. If that means an early workout, lay out your clothes and shoes ahead of time, so you aren't fumbling around in brain fog trying to find a sock. If it means 15 extra minutes to eat at home, set out the oatmeal and fruit the night before so you can bypass the fast food. Put healthy snacks in baggies for "grab and go"convenience. Find a farmers market and frequent it for local fruits and veggies. Little choices we make along the day are the difference between a good day and a great one. 

If you decide the night before that you can streamline your morning routine, set your alarm back 30 minutes and wake up refreshed. 

It's easy to feel like life is governing your choices, but with a few small tweaks you can begin to feel more in control. 
Spring is the perfect time to start something new or renew good habits. Don't wait for "Monday" or use other excuses to put off starting Get up and walk around, take the stairs, eat an apple. In the words of Nike "Just do it".