At the beginning of a new year, we start to think about the areas of our lives that we would like to improve. Those New Year resolutions can be easy to start and get excited about. Often, we decide we would like to start the New Year off right by setting goals to take better care of ourselves and our family.
Whether it is starting a new exercise program, trying a diet, spending more time with our kids or partner, reducing stress or tackling other areas we desire to improve, taking steps in the beginning to make it successful can make a difference in whether we drop out or achieve our goal.
Did you do it again? Did you eat more than a fair share of holiday cookies, pies, and casseroles this season? The New Year often rings in the start of diet and exercise plans. After all, no one wants to start dieting in November or December—the prime season to bake delicious treats! Jenna Hogan, University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator, says, "It's important to start the New Year with a nutrition and wellness plan." The first step is not to diet.
Hogan says that "dieting" is not the way to look at it. "Dieting" is generally something we start on Monday, and by Friday we have already fallen off of it. "This is what is known as the yo-yo effect. We initially lose weight; but eventually, we gain it right back and sometimes more." It is better to think of it as a lifestyle change. Eating a nutritious diet and actively participating in exercise should be a lifelong endeavor. Sure, there will be occasional times when candy bars and cookies seem to just fall into your mouth or when you will skip the gym to lie on the couch and watch a movie, but it should not be routine.
Update your nutrition and wellness plan often by continually adding healthier alternatives to your current plan. Once you have mastered one goal, make up another goal! Mix up your physical activity routine so that you do not get too bored and lose interest. Finally, develop a plan for next season's holidays, and stop the cycle of overeating and then crash dieting!
Jenna Hogan Visiting Extension Educator, Nutrition & Wellness, Springfield Center
Exercising before breakfast may help limit weight gain, according to a new study, but it's not for everyone, said Margaret Harris, assistant professor-health with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
Researchers at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium recently published the results of a study in "The Journal of Physiology," which found that exercising in the morning before eating seems to significantly lessen the effects of eating a high-calorie, high-fat diet - a common feature of holiday meals, buffets and parties.
An online article in "The New York Times" cross-referenced the Belgian study with another one by Australian scientists, who found that after only three days, an extremely high-calorie, high-fat diet can lead to increased blood sugar and insulin resistance, potentially increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes. In other words, all that rich holiday food acts like a one-two punch to the gut.
Harris cited several other factors supporting exercising in the morning, regardless of eating breakfast or not:
"It is a little dangerous to recommend physical activity like this before breakfast in people who have disturbances with diabetes already, are hypoglycemic or have been sedentary," said Harris. "Once they reach a certain level of fitness, yes, I can see it. However, I wouldn't recommend this to someone starting out an exercise program - if they're unfit or have a chronic disease, they could faint.
As for advice for the New Year: "Just do it and stop over-thinking," she said "After all, the best time to exercise is whenever you exercise."
Source: University of Arkansas Writer: Mary Hightower
Having a healthy lifestyle can have a positive effect on how you feel (your mood). Yes, this means eating healthy foods and being active. Being active can affect your mood in a positive way. Exercise has been shown to release chemicals in the brain that affect our moods. Even if you don't exercise vigorously, being active can distract you from your problems, provide you with a sense of accomplishment, tone your muscles, and improve your overall health.
Wellnessways.aces Healthy Moves
Homemade soup can be the perfect meal on a cold winter day. Soup is what most people think of as a comfort food. It can be enjoyed as a prelude to a main meal, an accompaniment to a sandwich or salad, or a main course by itself. We often have it for lunch or dinner, but what about for breakfast? In Asian countries, congee, or rice porridge, is eaten primarily at breakfast time. It may be served plain or with meat or fish added to it. While it may not be popular in America, the texture is not so far off from a bowl of oatmeal.
Generally, a traditional soup in America is eaten with lunch or dinner and consists as either a clear or thick soup. Clear soups are often made with broth and may include vegetables, legumes, and various herbs and spices. Thick soups are classified by the type of thickening agent. Purees are vegetable soups that may be thickened with starch, and bisques are typically thickened with cream. Therefore, thickened cream-filled soups are generally higher in fat and calories and may not be the best choice if eaten with other high calorie foods.
Jenna Hogan, University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator, says that a bowl of homemade soup can be healthier than its canned counterpart. "Canned soup is often made with a lot of sodium, but by making your own, you have the control of what ingredients and spices go into your soup." Start with a vegetable or meat stock or a low sodium broth. Try loading it with plenty of vegetables (such as tomatoes and zucchini) and aromatic vegetables (such as onions, peppers, and celery). Add peas or beans and brown rice or whole grain noodles. Then, try salt-free seasonings and herbs—such as pepper, sage, and basil. Soups are so easy, healthy, and delicious!
Source: Jenna Hogan, Visiting Extension Educator, Nutrition & Wellness, Springfield Center
May the bright spots in the old year be but flickers in the dark, when compared with what the New Year will enkindle with its spark!
Stuffed Pepper Soup
Makes 10 servings
2 lbs lean hamburger
2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cans (14 oz) low sodium beef broth
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups long grain rice, cooked
Cook hamburger and onion in skillet until hamburger is no longer pink. Drain well. Add all ingredients except rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked rice and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. May add water if needed for desired consistency.
Nutrient analysis per serving: 380 Calories, 11 grams fat, 44 grams total carbohydrate, 24 grams protein, 510 milligrams sodium.