How to Cut the Stress of Christmas

How to Cut the Stress of Christmas

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

December 18, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I love the holidays but sometimes they can be so overwhelming.  Any ideas on how to cut some of the stress at Christmas?

A: This article from Organized Home has some great ideas on how to slow down and enjoy the Holidays instead of getting caught up in Christmas madness…

Sure, you love the holiday season–but just not so much of it! This year, you’re hoping to cut the crazy out of Christmas: to trim the celebration back to one that is sustainable and calm.

Question is, just how do you do less–and enjoy it more–during the Christmas holiday season?

If you’re aiming to simplify Christmas, take time to ponder ways to cut stress, save money and tame over-the-top traditions. Setting simplicity strategies in place early will keep you from being swept up in holiday madness.

Get armed! Try these ten simple strategies to calm holiday chaos and rein in the seasonal overkill this year.

10 Simplicity Strategies

  • Prune the to-do list. Ask, “If I don’t do this, what will happen?” Stressed lady wrapping gifts with Christmas tree in backgroundAim to knock down the list of chores to the rock-bottom necessity.

  • Cut the gift list. Rein in gift exchanges that have been outgrown or lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only, draw names, or organize a gift exchange.

  • Wrap as you go. Who needs to spend Christmas Eve catching up on wrapping chores? Sticky notes will help you keep track of gift contents.

  • Buy, don’t bake. Turn your back on the oven this year. Supermarkets, bakeries and the freezer department of the discount warehouse are a great source for delicious, pre-baked holiday treats.

  • Call, don’t send cards. Reach out and touch someone … the easy way. Online greeting cards are easy, inexpensive and fun to send. No more lines at the post office!

  • Scale back décor. Substitute a simple door wreath for outdoor lighting, a tabletop tree for the over-the-top Tannenbaum. Focusing holiday decor on the Big Three–front door, tree and focal point–can bring a festive feel to the house without day-long decorating sessions.

  • Cut the clean-a-thon. Focus cleaning attention on kitchen and public rooms; private areas can slide til season’s end. Better to schedule deep-cleaning chores like carpet cleaning until after the wear-and-tear of the holiday season.

  • Downsize dish washing. Hand-washing fine china is nobody’s idea of a good time, so move to everyday stoneware. Simpler still: paper plates!

  • Finger food, not feast. A smorgasbord of tasty tidbits is easier on the cook and kinder to the waistline than a sit-down dinner. Share the work by hosting pot-luck events.

  • Stay home! Cuddling down close to the hearth beats holiday travel any day. A holiday “stay-cation” allows for evening drives to see the lights, family camp-outs in front of the Christmas tree, and evenings spent with carols and popcorn. Fun!

Mr. Pedometer adds:  Make time to get out for a walk with family or friends and get some steps in walking and talking and enjoying your neighborhood lights and decorations.

Portion Control is the Most Important Aspect of Healthy Eating

Portion Control is the Most Important Aspect of Healthy Eating

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

December 12, 2018

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you have said that portion control is the most important aspect of healthy eating.  Can you elaborate on that?     

A:  Sure!  Everyday Health recently offered the following advice in their newsletter on this topic:

Twenty years ago, the average blueberry muffin was 1.5 ounces and 210 calories. Today, most muffins are 5 ounces and 500 calories.  A bagel used to be 3 inches and 140 calories, but now is 6 inches and 350 calories or more.

When eating out, you can estimate serving sizes by comparing them to familiar objects — for example,

  • One cup is about the size of a tennis ball, and
  • One serving of meat, which is about 3 ounces, should be the size of a deck of playing cards.
  • A serving of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal should equal the size of a small computer mouse.

It’s easy to grab a big bottle of juice and chug it down without thinking — and without reading the nutrition label first. But it’s important to read food labels carefully when monitoring portion sizes. Start with the calorie count, but then look beyond that.

Many beverage and food packages contain more than you might think. What seems like a single serving might actually be two. And if it contains two servings, the number of calories in the container must be doubled as well.

Common sense should tell you that all-you-can-eat buffets are a bad idea for everyone.  dinner plate with portions drawn on itWith big plates and the ability to endlessly refill them, portion control becomes a losing battle. If confronted with this type of dining experience, vow to use at most only two plates.

  • Choose low-calorie, low-carb foods like shrimp and raw veggies for the first plate to help take the edge off of your hunger.

Follow your usual meal plan for the second. This second plate will typically include more non-starchy vegetables,

  • A fist-size serving of a grain and
  • An open-palm size portion of fish or chicken.

Buying smaller plates or using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate are good options.

This is a tangible portion control method that’s hard to circumvent. Be sure to fill half your reduced-size plate with vegetables or salad, one-quarter with a starch food, and one-quarter with protein. This is a great way to monitor portion sizes and trick your eye into thinking you’re eating more because the plate will look fuller.

Asking for a doggy bag when eating out is an easy way to practice portion control.

With so many restaurants taking a bigger-is-better approach to portion sizes, you’re left to rely on nothing more than willpower for portion control. Taking leftovers home is a good idea, but don’t wait until the end of the meal — ask your server to package half your entrée before it makes it to the table or cut it in half yourself before starting to eat to remove temptation.

  • Sharing a meal with a friend and
  • ordering an appetizer instead of an entree are other possible ways to avoid overeating.

Supersizing is a supersized danger when it comes to portion control. Avoid it at all costs. The average soda today is 20 ounces and 250 calories — Compare that to 20 years ago when it was 6.5 ounces and 82 calories. Don’t get carried away with bigger portion sizes just because it’s a good deal for your wallet. Your waist and health will pay for it.

Another reason to say no to sodas is their notable lack of nutrition. Many beverages tend to deliver empty calories.  Beverages don’t satisfy hunger…. Choose water or diet beverages instead. If you occasionally indulge in a regular soda or juice, read the label for the portion size information and practice portion control.

Especially during this holiday season, practicing portion control is a healthy habit!

If you’re looking for more information about portion control, check out Mr. Pedometer’s Blog

Be Aware Of Air Quality During Fire Season Before You Head Out To Walk

Be Aware Of Air Quality During Fire Season Before You Head Out To Walk

With wildfires raging at both ends of California and filling the air with smoke we need to be even more aware of the air quality where we live before we head outside to get our steps in for the day or for any other reason.  We hope that most of the fires will have been quelled before this weekend.  However, there are several ways (besides looking up at the sky) that you can determine whether it’s healthier to stay indoors.

Woman wearing a protective face maskThe Bay Area News Group newspapers warned that “everybody is at risk” when the smoky air is loaded with soot particles that can affect our lungs and even our bloodstream.  Most severely affected are children (whose lungs are still developing) and those who have respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD.

Become familiar with the Air Quality Index, which rates air pollution levels on a scale of 0-500.  Each day, these forecasts are printed on the weather page of the Bay Area News Group papers (including the East Bay Times) and can be found online (see below).

Air Quality Index

  • 0-50 = Good air quality
  • 51-100 = Moderate
  • 101-150 = Unhealthy for sensitive people
  • 151+ = Unhealthy for all

“Anything between 150 to 200 has the potential to affect even healthy people, but patients with chronic heart or lung conditions can also be at risk for exacerbating underlying conditions,” according to Sharon Chinthrajah, a pulmonologist, and an allergist with Stanford Health Care.

“The amount of fine particulate matter registered across the Bay Area on November 9 was the second-highest ever recorded since the metric started being tracked almost 20 years ago,” according to Kristine Roselium, a spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. (The highest was October 13, 2017.)

You can check for Air Quality Index listings at SpareTheAir.org. The newspaper article also cited AirNow (a government site) or PurpleAir.

For some of us who are fortunate to have good health, being outdoors for an hour of moderate walking is no problem.  For others, on Spare the Air days, it can lead to hospitalization for life-threatening pneumonia.  Quality air masks (N95 respirators) can help, but many stores no longer have them in stock.

Staying indoors, with doors and windows shut tight, maybe the best for those at risk.

One in EIGHT American adults have Type 2 Diabetes-A largely preventable disease! 

One in EIGHT American adults have Type 2 Diabetes-A largely preventable disease! 

ASK MR. PEDOMETER AND FRIENDS…

November 7, 2018

Mr. Pedometer, I heard that one in ten American adults has Type 2 diabetes.  Is that an exaggeration?

Actually, the truth is even worse:  One in EIGHT American adults have Type 2 Diabetes which is a largely preventable disease!  November is American Diabetes Month, and the Parade magazine insert in our local Sunday newspaper included the following Type 2 diabetes facts:

  • About 29 million American adults have Type 2 diabetes, which means that their bodies either don’t use insulin properly or don’t make enough of it, causing their blood glucose levels to rise.Woman with Type 2 Diabetes checking glucose level

  • The older you get, the greater your risk.

  • “The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on medical expenses than those without it.”
  • Sugary foods and drinks do NOT cause diabetes, but those extra calories can lead to weight gain, which increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to Sacha Uelmen, RDN, director of nutrition at the ADA.

  • “You could have prediabetes and not know it. One in three Americans over age 20 – a staggering 86 million – has blood glucose (sugar) levels hovering just below the Type 2 diabetes threshold….  Prediabetes isn’t harmless:  It may endanger blood vessels and cause nerve problems, says William Cefalu, M.D., chief scientific, medical, and mission officer for the ADA.  (You can take the ADA risk test at doihaveprediabetes.org)

  • “You can prevent or delay its onset. If you have prediabetes, you can help reverse the disease by losing 7 percent of your body weight. For starters, eat healthfully and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking.”

  • “Even older people can develop Type 1 diabetes. Though it’s dubbed juvenile diabetes because it typically affects children and young adults, Type 1Diabetes doesn’t discriminate based on age.”  Sometimes older people are mistakenly diagnosed with Type 2 when they actually have Type 1 – meaning different medications are needed.

  • “It really hurts your heart. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than people without diabetes, says Cefalu.”

  • “It can raise your risk for gum disease. Type 1 and Type 2 up the risk for cavities, thrush, dry mouth, and periodontitis, says diabetologist Jay Shubrook, D.O., director of diabetes services at Touro University in Vallejo, CA.”

  • “It’s bad for bones. In people with diabetes, hormones and cell products called cytokines can weaken bones, raising fracture risk, says Felicia Cosman, M.D., professor of medicine at Columbia University.  Also, conditions associated with diabetes, such as neuropathy, vision problems, and low blood sugar, increase the risk of falling a breaking a bone.”

Don’t become a sad statistic!  Take steps to decrease your risk of prediabetes or diabetes. Walking 10,000 steps a day will help lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes or eliminate it if you already have it. Try wearing a pedometer.  Research shows that pedometer users increase their daily steps by 26.9%.  That’s 2000 extra steps a day to get you on your way to being a healthier more active you. Find the pedometer that is right for you and start walking.  You will be amazed at how much better you begin to feel.

For advice on how to get started on a walking program go to Pedometer.Com.  There you will find articles on how to start a walking program, tips on the correct way to walk and many articles in the Blog search about Type 2 Diabetes that will encourage you on your journey.

If you have questions, Contact Us at info@Peodmeter.com

Daily Stress – How to handle it

Daily Stress – How to handle it

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

October 30, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I try to follow your advice about eating right and moving more, and I am fortunate to be mostly in good health. I say “mostly” because I deal with daily stress, due to family obligations, daily news, and more. Am I the only one who feels this way? 

A: Far from it! EverydayHealth.com recently issued a special report entitled “The United States of Stress: You’ll Never Think About Stress the Same Way Again.” Visit their website for the full report, but here is a sampling of what they had to say:

“Stress in the modern world is a constant. When stress doesn’t let up clock with coutout of person with stress words all over itand is paired with the feeling that we have little to no control over the circumstances that are creating it, that’s called chronic stress. Over and over again, the research points to one key fact: Prolonged or unremitting stress exacts a stunningly toxic toll on the body, brain, mind, and soul. Its ongoing assault wears us down, measurably aging — or ‘weathering’ — our insides, for some of us much more than others. Chronic stress zaps brainpower by damaging neural pathways and skewing judgment. It compromises the immune system. It taxes the heart, kidneys, liver, and brain.”

Their special report was based on findings of a survey of 6,700 Americans, ages 18-64. Three of the key causes of stress among those surveyed were:

Financial instability

Putting others first (including the “sandwich generation,” dealing with aging parents or grandparents at the same time as raising children)

Social isolation – possibly being “connected” via electronic devices rather than in person. We need daily contact with those who make us feel safe, feel seen, and feel heard. (Walking and talking with friendly people is a good way to meet this need!)

To deal effectively with stress, according to Frank Farley, Ph.D., Temple University in Philadelphia, we need three things:

Self-knowledge (What energizes you? What enervates you?)

Motivation (The desire to change one’s condition.)

Resources (Necessary to take effective action.)

Those in the study were asked what they did to manage stress, but the panel who reviewed responses felt that many were distractions rather than strategies. The most common replies were (in the order of frequency) music; TV/videos; sleep; exercise/sports; and talking/venting. The fourth on the list – exercise/sports – was deemed most effective by the reviewing panel.

Stress will continue to be part of your life. Be sure to take care of yourself – not just other people – particularly by making time in your schedule to get out and walk. That can help!

A Lifetime of Meds for Blood Pressure and Cholesterol?  Maybe not…

A Lifetime of Meds for Blood Pressure and Cholesterol? Maybe not…

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

October 23, 2018

Q: Mr. Pedometer, my doctor has prescribed medication for my blood pressure and for my cholesterol. Will I have to take these pills for the rest of my life? Is there any hope of getting off of them?

A: Possibly. The “Consumer Reports on Health” newsletter included a recent article that suggests many of us can make lifestyle choices that can either eliminate our need for certainwoman pouring pills into her hand heart medications or at least allow us to safely reduce the dosage.  Of course, you want to work with your doctor to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk. Here are the four healthy lifestyle steps that may help, as reported in the newsletter:

  • LOSE EXTRA WEIGHT. Even losing just 9 pounds can make a significant difference in your blood pressure readings, according to a 2014 Cochrane review.
  • EAT RIGHT. Where have you heard that before? (-; “Proper eating habits can help you get to – and maintain – a healthy weight. Vegetarian and Mediterranean-style diets reduced body fat and weight equally, according to a study published in “Circulation” in February (2018).” woman walking in tennis shoesCutting back on sodium (less than 2,300 mg per day) also can help reduce blood pressure.
  • If you are engaged in 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous activity, you have a 22 percent lower risk of a major cardiovascular event than those who are less active, according to a 2017 study published in “Lancet.”
  • AVOID AIR POLLUTION. This may be the most unfamiliar suggestion on the list. “A study published in the “Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism” in 2016 found that people who breathed in higher than average levels of particulants, such as auto exhaust and dust, had higher blood sugar levels, higher “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, and lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels – all factors that raise your risk for heart disease.” Pay attention to local pollution levels by visiting airnow.gov. “…On high-pollution days, spend time outdoors before or after rush hour, when pollution levels tend to be lower.”

You may want to try some or all of these lifestyle choices before your next physical, to see if the combination helps you reduce the need for prescription medications.