Sweet Holidays

The holidays are near and eating healthy is going to become trickier than ever. Especially with all the holiday get togethers, treats, and candies everywhere. Check out this blog from our nutritionist for tips and tricks for surving the holidays. 

We are focusing on the effects of sugar this month as well. Cutting back on sugar in your everyday diet means that you can indulge in those treats with a lot less guilt too! 

Cut out sugar infographic

How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays

One to five. This is the average amount of a weight (in pounds) an adult will gain each holiday season, beginning Thanksgiving and rolling through to New Year’s Day. ‘Tis the season to talk about a few physiological changes that happen with weight gain, some reasons we tend to gain weight during this time of year and how to avoid it!

What happens inside our bodies when we gain weight? Initially, there’s an increase in the number of adipocytes (fat cells). Sadly, this number will never return to the original number (unless you undergo a procedure like CoolSculpt®). Instead, the cells can increase in quantity (with further weight gain) and/or change in volume – either smaller (during weight loss) or larger (during weight gain). This means, the next time around it’s easier for those cells to “refill” the lost “weight”. Unfortunately, these adipocytes are not just along for the ride either, they change the way your body makes, stores and circulates hormones (among other things). Another area that’s affected, is your heart. It’s put under extra stress due to additional weight and blood volume, causing a rise in blood pressure. Poorly controlled blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and impotence – (the last one mentioned if you dozed off… but a good motivator). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a person can become insulin resistant. Which means that the hormone, insulin, has a reduced response to the sugar (glucose) floating in your blood streams. Often, this is due to a poor diet that leads to a consistently elevated blood sugar. When blood sugar remains high for too long it becomes similar to “white noise”. Have you ever heard a white noise machine, at first you do … and then you don’t. Other profound changes include poor sleep, skin changes, digestion upset, and the ever familiar tightly fitting clothes. You see, this is more than just aesthetics.

Holidays are a wonderful time of year; I am one of the first to turn the station to Christmas tunes as soon as the calendar rolls to November. Nevertheless, just like the American way, we allow such a special time of year to become all about over-spending, overeating and under sleeping. Oftentimes when I talk to others about their holiday plans and I end up hearing them complain about too many parties, classroom gatherings, gifts for her and gifts for him. To top it off each party has a menu, with too many decadent cookies, gingerbread houses, stuffing and don’t forget the free-flowing wine and spirits. All capped off with year-end work deadlines, gift wrapping and last-minute online shopping. Just writing this makes me exhausted! You see how our over packed agendas and less than charged personal batteries cause us to store extra weight this time of year.

How do we avoid all of this?

Do you feel helpless?

This month Professional and Personal Wellness has focused on Mental Health for the monthly topic. Make sure you check out the Newsletter and the monthly educational presentation for excellent information regarding Depression.

What I would like to talk about is a condition called “learned helplessness”. Learned helpless is defined as the general belief that one has little or no control over their situation. It can result in persistent feelings of powerlessness, and it can be an underlying cause of depression. I see this condition a lot with employees who feel stuck in their job. No matter what they do, they cannot get ahead both financially and career wise. Often I hear: “all I do is work, eat and sleep” with little or no time, energy and money to do anything else. In my mind the worse of the systems of learned helplessness is the feeling of “giving up” and just living life going through the motions!

What can be done? I believe it starts with making small changes. Break the routine, even if it is driving home via a different route. Do something you enjoy every day, even if it is just for a minute or two. Set small obtainable goals to change and monitor them. Try new things, talk to different people.

Learned helplessness did not happen all at once. Learning that you are not helpless will also take time. Small steps over a long time make a huge difference. Consider talk to others or a trained professional.

Helpless is no way to live your life

How to Boost your Health with Delicious Coffee

There’s little better than a warm, aromatic, comforting cup of coffee in the morning. It is one of the most beloved drinks of Americans, in fact it’s estimated that 83% of the United States population drinks at least one cup daily. Most people would agree that the drink started out as a caffeine jolt (maybe during late nights studying for college courses, or in the first days of their new baby’s life). For most, the beverage gradually morphed into a daily ritual, something they could plan on. Coffee comes in many different mugs; some like it lightly roasted, others black and bold, and some can’t have it without a good dollop of sugar, cream or maybe even a little Bailey’s? Hopefully it goes without saying (though I will anyway), that all of these additives can break the benefits that come with a health conscious brand of coffee. Read on to learn whether coffee is good for you … spoiler alert, ~ 83% of you will be pleased with the findings, and the rest of you aren’t reading this article anyway! :)

Antioxidants

Coffee is one of those habits that constantly receives mixed health reviews. Did you know that coffee is actually the richest source of antioxidants in the western diet, more than even ‘superfoods’ like blueberries and kale? This comparison is based on 100 gram weights of said food/drink. Antioxidants are important because they’re anti-aging, free-radical fighting compounds - these are the shields that defend our cells from damage (a.k.a cell oxidation = cell aging).

Build strength with resistance bands

4126886 unleashing the power of resistance bands ywca saskatoon resistance bands png 530 330 previewResistance bands are a great way to add strength training into your workout, without having to use weights. Most resistance bands come with different levels of resistance, so that you can increase weight as you gain strength. They can be used for many exercises like hip bridges, squats and even for upper body movements like banded pull a parts. These take the place of weights allowing you to get resistance in your exercises without have to use a barbell or dumbbells.

Just like weights, they come in all different resistances, making them versatile for anyone! Resistance band can be used alone but also use in addition to weights. For example, when doing barbell squats one may use a resistance band around their highs (right above the knee) to up the intensity, as well as forcing the knees to stay pushed out creating the burn sensation in the glutes!

Bands are a great piece of equipment that can help get you started with strength training, or up the intensity!