December Newsletter! Happy Holidays!

Click to enlarge.

Rethink Your Nighttime Routine

A Sleeping moon in a cap.

Bedtime Routines!

Are you not quite tired or have a lot on your mind when it’s time for your head to hit the pillow? Have you ever thought about starting a nighttime routine and unwinding at least 1-2 hours before heading to bed?

We all have trouble sleeping from time to time. But you can make it easier to get a good night’s sleep every night with these simple steps:

  • Relax before bedtime. Stress not only makes you miserable, it wreaks havoc on your sleep. Develop some kind of pre-sleep ritual to break the connection between all the day’s stress and bedtime. These rituals can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour.
  • Choose activities that won’t get your adrenaline going or stress you out. Start by preparing for the next day. Make tomorrow’s To Do list, pick out clothes, gather things you need to take with you, brush your teeth, hair, etc. Then relax.
  • Cut caffeine. Simply put, caffeine can keep you awake. It can stay in your body longer than you might think – the effects of caffeine can take as long as eight hours to wear off. So if you drink a cup of coffee in the afternoon and are still tossing at night, caffeine might be the reason. Cutting out caffeine at least four to six hours before bedtime can help you fall asleep easier.
  • Exercise at the right time for you. Regular exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep. The timing and intensity of exercise seems to play a key role in its effects on sleep. If you are the type of person who gets energized or becomes more alert after exercise, it may be best not to exercise in the evening. Regular exercise in the morning even can help relieve insomnia, according to a study.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and comfortable. For many people, even the slightest noise or light can disturb sleep like the purring of a cat or the light from your laptop or TV. Use earplugs, window blinds or curtains, and an electric blanket or air conditioner everything possible to create an ideal sleep environment. And don’t use the overhead light if you need to get up at night; use a small night-light instead. Ideal room temperatures for sleeping are between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 75 or below about 54 can disrupt sleep.
    Bed made with white bed linen. Four fluffy pil...

    Bedtime should be inviting.

  • Eat right, sleep tight. Try not to go to bed hungry, but avoid heavy meals before bedtime. An over-full belly can keep you up. Some foods can help, though. Milk contains tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that may help promote sleep include tuna, halibut, pumpkin, artichokes, avocados, almonds, eggs, bok choy, peaches, walnuts, apricots, oats, asparagus, potatoes, buckwheat, and bananas.
  • Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, you can end up associating the bed with distracting activities that could make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Create your own list of relaxing bedtime activities. Such as, light household chores like picking up, read easy-on-the-mind books and magazines, watch light TV, listen to relaxing music or whatever relaxes you. Then when you feel sleepy, roll into bed!

If you try to sleep before you feel a little sleepy, you’ll just toss and turn. Also, try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This can keep you from having to get up to use the bathroom during the night. Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What thoughts run through your head that keep you from getting enough sleep?

Those Tanning Beds Don’t Give You Personal Skin Care

A tanning bed in use.

Image via Wikipedia

Tanning beds! They don’t exactly care for your skin during the hot summer months when the Sun‘s heat is pretty harsh. What necessary measures do you take to keep your body’s skin healthy? Do you burn easily or do you always just turn a deep brown?

Like many people, my skin is fair during the cooler months in comparison to what it looks like during the warmer months. And I choose to not go to a tanning bed venue to maintain a dark complexion.

Now, I really enjoy laying out by the pool or just simply being outdoors and catching some rays, but I am guilty of not using a strong enough sunscreen or even sunblock and we are all well aware that preparation is key. Although I will brown in the following days, I can burn very easily at first exposure to the sun right around the shoulders and neck area.

Did you know that those pesky ultraviolet A and B rays (UVA and UVB rays) can damage your skin even if you don’t get a sunburn? And a tan is the body’s attempt to merely protect itself from the Sun’s harmful rays. And on top of that, the sun releases vitamin C to try and repair the damage.

What are some of the elements that put you at risk for skin damage?

Here are a few:

  • Being fair-skinned
  • Having light-colored eyes. Who knew?
  • Sun-burning easily
  • Having many moles, freckles or birthmarks

Are you fair-skinned and light-eyed? What do you do to prepare for laying out in the sun? What is your preferred level of sunscreen or sunblock protection? 12? 35?

Get Inspired With A Great Playlist

iPod 5th Generation white.

What songs get you movin'?

A little bit of country and some dance music – that’s what I listen to when I exercise! But what about you? I often feel like I need some really energetic tunes to get me moving.

Is your iPod playlist the only thing that gets you through your intense workout? Do the grooves of Whitney Houston’s “Million Dollar Bill” keep you at a steady pace on the treadmill? Can Daniel Bedingfield’s “Gotta Get Through This” motivate you to do one more rep on the weight machine?

What’s the best way to find music you might actually like? Well, the short answer is A LOT of trial and error. However, here are a few ideas for expanding your search techniques:

  • Borrow from your spouse, partner, family members or friends.
  • Expose yourself to a wider variety of tunes even when you’re not working out.
  • Check with bloggers who have made lists or asked their readers for suggestions. (InTheGym.net)
  • Go to a big database and browse through their categories or search user favorites. (Amazon or iTunes)
  • Let sites with fancy algorithms recommend things you like. (Pandora)

With these ideas and many more you are sure to find something you like that will keep you motivated and inspired to workout and reach your goals. I have actually conditioned myself to look forward to the time I get to spend working out and listening to some music. I find it’s a great way to unwind from a long day.

What’s on your playlist? What do you groove to?

Vitamins Versus its Counterparts

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...

Image via Wikipedia

I, too, am guilty of not eating enough fruits and vegetables but I try my best. Every morning after waking up, I head to the kitchen to pour myself a small glass of V8 Juice, then gulp down my mouth full of vitamins.

I’ve been told all my life that vitamins are essential to ensure proper growth and strength of mind and body. But there is a lot I don’t know about vitamins, like the popular B6 and B12.

Still, the question remains…Do I continue to take the vitamin supplements or do I try a little harder to get what I need out of the real sources? Debatable I’m sure.

Here is some information I’d like to pass along just in case:
Vitamins B6 and B12
What it does for you: The B complex of vitamins (especially B6 and B12) keep blood, nerves, and the immune system functioning properly. A deficiency may be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
How much you need daily: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1.3 milligrams for B6 and 2.4 micrograms for B12.
Best food sources: B6 is plentiful in whole grains, bananas, beans, nuts, wheat germ, chicken, and fish. B12 is found in beef, pork, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy.
How to eat enough of it: One cup of plain yogurt and a banana, one ounce of sunflower seeds, and three ounces of roast beef will fill your B12 and B6 quotas. B12 is found only in animal products, so vegans should take a supplement.

Vitamin C
What it does for you: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been shown to fight DNA-damaging free radicals. It may help to maintain a healthy immune system and boost HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol.
How much you need daily: Seventy-five milligrams, but some experts recommend getting at least 200 milligrams. As for megadoses of C to prevent colds, there’s no scientific evidence that they accomplish anything.
Best food sources: Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, red and green peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, kale, and collard greens.
How to eat enough of it: Just one orange almost gets you to the RDA. Eat your recommended five servings a day of fruits and vegetables and you shouldn’t be lacking in C.

Vitamin K
What it does for you: It helps maintain healthy blood clotting and promotes bone density and strength.
How much you need daily: No RDA has been set. The adequate intake (AI) for women is 90 micrograms.
Best food sources: Dark green, leafy vegetables and vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, and soybean.
How to eat enough of it: One cup of raw broccoli or a spinach salad will provide about all you need.

Vitamin E
What it does for you: This vitamin’s major function is as an antioxidant. Recent studies point to positive effects on eye health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
How much you need daily: Generally, 22.5 IUs. There is controversy about safe upper limits, but most agree that adding 150 to 200 IUs shouldn’t hurt and might help.
Best food sources: Avocados, vegetable oil (such as safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, canola, and olive), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, and most other nuts.
How to eat enough of it: It’s easy to meet the RDA with food―one cup of raw broccoli plus two ounces of either almonds or sunflower seeds will do it.

Calcium
What it does for you: It is essential for bone health and plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis.
How much you need daily: Up to age 50, women should get at least 1,000 milligrams daily; those over 50 should get at least 1,200. The body can’t absorb more than 500 milligrams of calcium at a time, so small doses are best.
Best food sources: Dairy products are the most calcium-dense foods, but smaller amounts can be found in legumes and dark green, leafy vegetables.
How to eat enough of it: An eight-ounce glass of skim milk, one cup of yogurt, one cup of cooked spinach, and one fig will get you to your calcium goal. If you don’t eat dairy, look for calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice.

Vitamin D
What it does for you: It enhances calcium absorption. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and has been linked to certain cancers, as well as to multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
How much you need daily: Two hundred IUs for women up to age 50, and 400 to 600 IUs for those over 50.*
Best food sources: Although some is found in fatty fishes, like tuna and salmon, most of our vitamin D comes from fortified foods, like milk and cereal. The body also produces its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
How to eat enough of it: If you’re under 50, one 3 1/2-ounce serving of salmon or two cups of fortified milk will give you the RDA. Ten to 15 minutes of sunlight (with no sunscreen) two to three times a week is usually sufficient, too.

Any thoughts? Are vitamins a part of your daily regimen or do you eat healthy enough for it to not really matter?

Is Staying ‘Fit’ Worth the Money?

Image via Fitbit.com

Around here at Monroe Place, we love to exercise. So for the exercise guru in you, there is now a way to keep track of the calories you burn.

As I get older, I have become more humble about what I eat and the amount of time I spend exercising each week. I’m finding that in my thirties it’s a lot harder to shed the pounds!

As the weather cools down a bit, I am finding that I would much rather spend time walking outside than on the undesirable treadmill inside. I have discovered that walking outside is also good for my mental health. Breathing in the fresh air seems to keep my stress levels down.

As I begin to exercise more and more, I’m finding that I want to keep track of how many calories I burn. A friend of mine has turned me on to the Fitbit. According to Fitbit.com, the Fitbit will keep track of the calories you burn, steps taken, and monitor the distance traveled and even your sleep quality. With a 3D motion sensor, the Fitbit tracks your motion in three dimensions and converts this into useful information about your daily activities.

According to the description, “You can wear the Fitbit on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. At night, you can wear the Fitbit clipped to the included wristband in order to track your sleep. Anytime you walk by the included wireless base station, data from your Fitbit is silently uploaded in the background to Fitbit.com.”

The Fitbit will run you around $100.00. But the expense seems worth it for all that you get. Plus, how can you put a price on your health? What do you think? Is it worth the money?

%d bloggers like this: