Stressed Out
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Stressed Out
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Fitness Hacks on Tight Schedules

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Busy-ness is a buzzword that takes on so many iterations.

“I’m too busy,” you say, when asked to volunteer in your daughter’s classroom.

“I’m crazy busy,” you squeal to your BFF when she asks why you haven’t returned her calls.

I’m so #$@&%*! busy! you screech when you realize you need to cancel that dentist appointment…again.

But are we as busy as we claim to be? CBS Money Watch reports that we’re not. They write that we’ve got plenty of discretionary time, and spend a quarter to a third of our waking hours on activities that are non-work related (not including the time we spend on personal things during our work day).

And what of exercise? 

That’s often an all-too-easy one with which to pull the busy card. Sure, it can be tough to fit in exercise when your schedule is so tight you can’t squeeze one more hour into your overflowing plate. But it is possible, and I’ll tell you how.

1. Ditch the All-or-Nothing Mentality. You may think that unless you can put in an hour at the gym, it’s worthless to go at all. But with exercise, remember this: Some is definitely better than none. Research shows that even small sessions of cardio and strength training are beneficial.

2. Break It Up. Small bits of exercise throughout the day do add up – and can be valuable. In fact, various studies have demonstrated that multiple short sessions not only provide the same benefits as one longer session, but sometimes the shorter sessions can be more advantageous to your health and fitness.

3. Work It Into Your Day. There are likely numerous opportunities for you to work in some exercise, without even hitting the gym. Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator; choose the furthest parking spot; exit the bus or subway a stop or two before your final destination. All those extra steps do add up. Research proves that working in light activity during the day can decrease damage to our arteries. A report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) reported that even small amounts of physical activity – even standing - could lead to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. “The greater benefit is to simply exercise,” JACC Editor –in-Chief Dr. Valentin Fuster, is quoted as saying in a press release. Just do it – regardless of intensity – and you’ll benefit.

4. Choose Something Fun. Okay, we know that if you detest cycling, you’re still not going to that spin class you signed up for, even though it seemed like a good idea at the time. This is the time to think about enjoyment – because, in order to keep up with exercise, we have to like it. Besides, it’s easier to make room for fun, isn’t it? If you love music, try a Zumba class; or make a playlist of your favorite tunes and let it pump you up for a walk or run. Playing music during exercise, research shows, increases both motivation and effort.

5. Keep Your Exercise Clothing Handy. This is a trick I’ve used for years – and it always works. I lay out my exercise clothing the night before. (When my children were babies, and time was really limited, I sometimes even slept in my exercise clothes!) Being dressed to work out puts you in that mindset, and acts as a reminder to get moving. Why waste a perfectly good workout outfit – get moving!

6. Be a Weekend Warrior. Saving your workout time for the weekends used to be frowned upon, mainly due to fears of increased risk of injury. But now, a brand new JAMA study – though it doesn’t dispute that contention – does give the weekend-only exercise concept some respect in the health department: Scientists say that 150 minutes of moderate- or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise sessions, done once or twice per week, may help reduce the risk of mortality from all causes, compared with no exercise. To help reduce injury risk, always begin gently with a good warm-up, which can increase both blood flow to your muscles and flexibility.

7. Schedule It In. Just as you’d do with any other appointment, schedule your physical activity by writing it down on your calendar. It will make you more committed and accountable and less likely to play the “I’m too busy” card. Plus, looking back on how many exercise “appointments” you’ve actually kept will give you a huge sense of satisfaction and impetus to keep it up.

Don't Get Caught Making These 5 Nutrition Mistakes

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When it comes to figuring out how to eat healthy, there is no loss of choices. You may be a compulsive label-reader (if you can understand what all those tiny numbers really mean!). Or maybe you follow the advice of your super-healthy friend, trainer, nutritionist or favorite celebrity crush. Or you choose items based on price — many studies show that people do perceive “healthy” to equal “expensive” when it comes to choosing healthy foods (think “Whole Paycheck” as the moniker for Whole Foods).

All good intentions aside, no matter how wide and reliable your knowledge, it’s likely you’re still making these nutrition mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up — lots of us are in the same boat. Here’s how to row yourself safely to shore, retain your footing, and set upon the right path.

1. Multigrain or 7-grain. Sounds pretty healthy, doesn’t it? After all, it’s filled with grains, and grains are good for you. Well, yes, they are good for you. But unless the label says the grains are "whole grains," you’re not ahead in the healthy department. That’s because when grains are whole, the entire kernel (bran, germ and endosperm) is kept intact; when they’re not whole (read: refined), they’ve been passed through a milling process, which strips the bran and germ, where all the nutrition is housed. Sure, the process may improve their texture and shelf life, but at the cost of losing dietary fiber, iron and a bunch of B vitamins. (Although some refined grains are enriched with certain B vitamins and iron, fiber isn’t added back in.)

2. Fruit juice. It may be healthier than soda, but if you want to get your fruit fix, you’re much better off with the whole fruit itself, which offers more nutrients for fewer calories. Juice also doesn’t have the fiber you’ll find in whole fruits, has more sugar and is less filling. Research shows a link between drinking fruit juice and an increase in the risk for diabetes — possibly due to the juice’s high glycemic index, which passes through the digestive system more quickly than does fruit. (Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates boost blood sugar.) Certain fruits, especially blueberries, grapes and apples, have been shown to significantly lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, while the consumption of fruit juices raised it. When you realize that just eight ounces of regular orange juice can set you back 100 calories — the equivalent of about two oranges — you might reach for the whole fruit, instead; you’ll get the fiber, the nutrients and a lot more satisfaction.

3. Olive oil. It’s been touted as a “good” fat, in that it is mainly monounsaturated. But that doesn’t mean you should use the type of oil that may help lower your risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels with abandon: Olive oil is calorie-dense. Just two tablespoons of olive oil packs 240 calories. Think about that when you’re dipping your bread into the stuff, or coating the bottom on your skillet with it — a little goes a long way, calorie-wise.

4. “Negative calorie” foods. With apologies to all you dieters, eating unlimited portion of foods that are low in calories and high in fiber and water — like celery, cucumbers and lettuce — is not a surefire way to melt the pounds away. Although they may be very low in calories, the calories still do count.

5. Fat-free. Those two words may sound appealing, but maybe not after you learn this: What makes a food fat-free is, well, lack of fat: The same thing that gives it texture, flavor and aroma. And to make up for the lost taste, food manufacturers turn to other ingredients; particularly sugar, flour, thickeners and salt. Those, in turn, can add plenty of (unnecessary and useless) calories. But not all fats are bad. The American Heart Association, which recommends you eat between 25 and 35 percent of your total daily calories as fats, says that they can definitely be part of a healthy diet. These are the healthy fats (or “good” fats) — which have heart-protective properties — and include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like canola and olive oils, walnuts, fatty fish, flaxseed, eggs, avocado and peanut butter. If you still opt for fat-free foods, make sure to limit your servings and be aware of the ingredients on the food labels (like sugar and additives), which can drive up flavor — and calorie count.


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