Want to feel better? Take a walk!

     
If you are like me, you don’t want to hear about another diet or diet plan for at least the next ten years. Whether it is the newest fad diet or a fairly reasonable low fat, low carb diet, most of us have had our fill of them. But when you pick up the latest magazines you can be sure you’ll see plenty of new headlines about diets and weight. Why? Because for most of us, weight control is an ongoing problem. Whether we were skinny or chubby kids, most of us have a few extra pounds to contend with in our senior years.
Any intelligent adult knows how to lose weight. You simply increase your activity and decrease your calorie intake. Yes, it is simple, but oh, how difficult to do! We love to eat and a good portion of our entertainment revolves around the sharing of food. The answer is eating a healthy diet in moderate portions. But let’s focus on the most accessible and direct way to add calorie-burning activity to our busy days. Let’s walk!

Have you heard about walking 10,000 steps a day? That idea has been around for a while as a means to increase activity. If you do a little walk around the house you will soon realise that you can’t get 10,000 steps in with your normal routines, you will have to add a nice intentional walk to achieve that count. I am convinced that exercising and dieting go better with some motivational support. Do you remember the little charts you made for your kids to motivate them to do their chores? Why not make one for yourself related to your addition of daily walking? It is easy to get an approximate step count during your neighbourhood or treadmill walk. I find that I walk about 100 steps per minute, so I start my day with 3500 steps before drinking my first cup of coffee. It is a great way to wake up and get the metabolism going.
Another reason to walk is that it is good for the overall health of our entire bodies. It is low impact exercise, requires little gear and has the added benefit of getting you out of doors at least in good weather. Your muscles are getting a work-out, your heart is happy and your body is burning calories with each step. Doctors generally recommend that you walk between 30 and 60 minutes per day at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. You should be able to carry on a conversation easily at that rate. Distance is more important than speed.
Be sure to take reasonable precautions before adding any new exercise program to your days. Your doctor will most likely be thrilled if you begin to walk, but talk to him or her first. Wear good shoes for support, layer your clothing for comfort, and wear reflective colours if you walk after dark.

A good walk begins with a few minutes of warm-up, a short break for some stretches, then the main body of the walk. It ends with a gentle stretch. Look online for pedometers to track your steps, and be sure to do research before purchasing a treadmill as they can cost anywhere from €500 to over €3,000 and are a major purchase. If walking alone isn’t your cup of tea, find a partner or join a walking club. The time flies by when you are walking with a partner or with a group and the social aspect makes getting your exercise a joy. 
Don’t want to diet? Want to enjoy life and feel tension-free? Don’t have a lot of money to hire a personal trainer? Then you can take the simple route to better health: add a daily walk to your routine, get your step count up to around 10,000 and enjoy the benefits of a slimmer, healthier body. 

Less Clutter = Less Stress

2020 has been a stressful year and we’re only half way through it. But most of us would also agree that with the stress there have been some positives. We’ve slowed down. We’ve cooked healthier meals. And many of us have begun to take on cleaning and de-cluttering projects because we’ve had a lot of time on our hands.

If you look around your living space and feel the need to de-clutter, you may be encouraged by some common sense tips and bits of information to help you tackle one project at a time.

First of all, a cluttered, messy home causes mental overload. Everywhere you look there is a job to be done. You can’t find the paperwork you need or the article of clothing you want to wear. When you look at your laundry pile, it seems endless and overwhelming. These emotions are energy-draining and contribute to higher stress levels.

On the other hand, an orderly living space sends the message that all is well. Anxiety gives way to relaxation. You’re able to focus on the task at hand and that focus often leads to creativity and accomplishment.

But, de-cluttering requires a concerted effort beginning with the decision to do it. Most de-clutter experts encourage a systematic, well-planned attack on “stuff” in the home. Here are some tips to setting out to make your home a peaceful, healthy, and enjoyable place to live.

  • First of all identify the trouble spots in your home. They most likely will include junk drawers, closets, storage areas, and the garage. Make a list.
  • Decide on a sorting method as you work on one trouble area at a time. You might decide to toss, store, recycle or sell items. 
  • Develop some self talk to help you with the decision-making. “Someone else can use this now,” “Thank you for your service, but I don’t need you anymore.” This will be especially difficult when sorting through clothing items. A good rule of thumb is to ask, “Have I worn this in the last six months? Does it need repair? Does it fit well? If not, recycle or otherwise dispose of it.
  • Identify “memory clutter,” those items we keep because they represent a fun time or a certain relationship. Is there a way to save the memory without keeping the item?
  • Identify “someday clutter,” the items that don’t fit, but maybe you’ll lose ten pounds, or I’ll fix it someday. Either fix it now or get rid of it.
  • Make it a goal to clear flat surfaces in your home. These are the areas that begin to build up with unfinished business: items that haven’t been properly put away or things we don’t have an established place for.
  • Keep like items together. For instance tools and home repair kits should be stored together so everyone knows where to find them. 
  • When possible, enlist the help of the rest of your family. Even children will become excited about cleaning out excess “stuff” if they get the proceeds at a garage sale.
  • You may wish to research new storage units for your kitchen, laundry area or clothes closets. A junk drawer can be cleaned up quickly with some simple box dividers to keep the articles separated and easy to find.
  • Don’t let the “wasted money” blues get in your way when purging unnecessary items. Those expenditures are history and your goal now is an orderly, relaxing space in which to live each day.

So let’s be thankful for the good things 2020 has brought our way. The challenge to de-clutter and de-stress our homes can be one of the positive outcomes.

Active, Healthy and Positive While Living in Quarantine

Living a quiet life at home sounds very good when caught up in the usual hectic pace of our daily lives. But now the time at home is getting old and we’re looking for ways to make it both manageable and enjoyable.

It’s easy, at first, to lounge around in pyjamas, eat too much. It seems like a bit of a vacation to let regular chores go and to know others can’t see us so, who cares about the hair and make-up?  But if you’re like me, you want to feel productive at least part of the time and that vacation soon begins to feel like captivity.

Here’s the solution. Design a routine that works for you. Choose some of the positive activities below and build a schedule around them. Turn your lethargy into an active, healthy schedule and you’ll feel happier and more content in one of the most challenging events of our lives.

  1. Cook healthy meals

Since it’s difficult to shop for groceries and we’re often relying on online orders, be extra-careful to plan and cook healthy meals. It’s tempting to eat too many treats and let nutrition go. Here are 100 meals that are both healthy and require few ingredients.

  1. Organize and De-clutter

Most of us have the uneasy feeling that our home is a bit of a mess. We need to get rid of things, but where to begin? We have time now, so there’s no excuse, and I think you’ll find it’s actually fun to get rid of unwanted, unnecessary items once you begin. Check out Marie Kondo’s method for de-cluttering and then modify the procedures to suit your home.

  1. Get regular exercise

Stress can destroy our desire to stay fit. It can paralyze us. We may not be able to maintain our usual exercise routines which involve fitness clubs and team sports. So it’s time to be creative and just do it. You can create your own at-home exercise routine or get online and find a good old-fashioned exercise video to do from your living room. Don’t forget most of us are free to walk in our own neighbourhoods if we keep a distance between us.

  1. Deep Clean

Dirt happens. The most fastidious housekeeper will need to occasionally do a deep-clean of each room. You have the time now, so what’s keeping you from a frenzy of cleaning? Why not select one room, follow the deep cleaning checklist and before you know it, you’ll have a sparkling-clean abode.

  1. Read 

Most of us enjoy a good book and usually don’t find enough time to read. Now we have nothing but time. So..

  • Read a classic you’ve always wanted to read
  • Find a new author and explore his or her writing
  • Read a bestseller
  • Explore a new genre. Maybe you’ll enjoy fantasy or romance
  • Look for an online book club
  1. Write

Have you always meant to try your hand at poetry? Do you enjoy writing thoughtfully in a journal? Do you enjoy writing to others? Take the time now to write something. Perhaps a memoir of this unique and challenging time will become a valuable family treasure.

  1. Connect with Friends and Family

This one goes without saying. We miss the family and friends who are beyond our touch at this time and for some time to come. Make the phone calls, do the video calls or send a quick note to someone you love. Maybe this is the time to strike up a renewed friendship with someone you’ve not seen in a long time. Make those connections.

  1. Watch an old or new TV series

Is there a television series you’ve always wanted to watch from beginning to end? Now is the time. Find something just right for you and go ahead a binge-watch.

  1. Rest or Nap

In times of stress it’s even more important to get adequate sleep. Most of us are worried about the effects of the virus and may be losing sleep because of that. Do your best to get good sleep at night and take a nap now and then if you need it.

  1. Take an Online Class

There is probably some skill you wish you’d learned earlier or some knowledge you wish you had. Maybe it’s time to study a bit each day and learn something new with an online class. Many are free and the accomplishment will feel very good.

In any time of crisis there are those who stand up to the challenge and those who don’t. Take stock of your situation and determine the best path for the coming weeks and perhaps months. Let’s thrive!

Protecting Your Mental Health during the Pandemic

In the past month or two the entire world has been engulfed with news of the Corona Virus and its dangers. Our daily lives are totally disrupted and we are bombarded with dire new reports from dawn to dusk.

These are not normal times. We need to be aware that we’re living in an abnormal world and that our mental health may be affected as the days and weeks go by. There are many positive attitudes and actions we can embrace to make these difficult days bearable. Here are some things you can do:

  • Be Aware

No, these aren’t normal times and we may be carrying more stress than we realize. Be aware that you may feel anxious. You may worry about yourself and others you love becoming sick. You may feel a bit irritable at times and notice a general feeling of being unsettled. Again, the situation we’re in is not normal, so we won’t feel normal at times.

Be patient with yourself and others. Adopt a “let it go” attitude if others fail to be what you want or do what you’d hoped. It’s time to give yourself and others a bit of slack.

  • Learn the Facts

It’s extremely important in this time to have accurate, no-nonsense, medical facts. Don’t fall for overly-optimistic or hysterical, dire predictions. Base your actions and your peace of mind on actual facts. It’s sad, but true that some folks will delight in passing on false information in a time of trouble. You can find accurate medical information at:

Mayo Clinic Covid Information

Center for Disease Control Information

Government UK

  • Avoid Extremes

This is a little tricky because we all have to be more careful and more observant of our health than usual. But if you’re following proper distancing and hand-washing procedures, staying as safe as you can and paying attention to the guidelines given for your time of life and your health conditions, then excess worry and fuss does no good.

While you need to know the factual information and will probably watch a lot of television coverage of the spread of the virus, it’s good to set some limits to the amount of time you spend doing that. 

Avoid the hysteria found on social media sites which will give you a steady diet of both fluff and crazy theories. Again, set your well-being on facts and proceed to live each day as fully as possible.

  • Keep a Healthy Routine

You may be taking advantage of the opportunity to get more rest and that’s great. Also see to your daily exercise and do your best not to overeat, drink too much or otherwise binge on too much of a good thing. 

A healthy diet, enough rest and daily exercise will go a long way to boosting your overall well-being during this stressful time. You can also look at the extra time at home as a gift. Use the time to do those things you never have time for: deep cleaning, gardening, reading, or meditation.

  • Stay Connected

Even introverts don’t want to be at home and alone all the time. So be sure to connect with others regularly. Take part in those neighborhood or community efforts to applaud the health care workers and first responders. Sew some masks and donate them. Donate to a local food bank. Call or e-mail family and friends. Learn to video chat with a group or play board games together online. 

Don’t go through this challenging time all alone.

  • Have a Realistic Perspective

While no one knows for sure when this pandemic will be finished, we do know it will take time. It’s probably best for now to have an open-ended kind of approach to each day. Count your blessings while being realistic about the current health crisis. There will be sad days and that’s okay. There will be good times ahead, but they may take a while. Meanwhile, be well, be safe and be proactive in staying healthy in every way including your mental health.

Should you have a true health or mental health crisis, be quick to contact friends, family members or your primary healthcare professionals. There are support services for a mental health crisis available in all areas. Take the time to jot down phone numbers of your doctor, advice care nurse, mental health hotline, etc. Don’t hesitate to reach out in a time of mental health crisis.

Be well.

Stay Active, Healthy and Positive While Living in Quarantine

Living a quiet life at home sounds very good when caught up in the usual hectic pace of our daily lives. But now the time at home is getting old and we’re looking for ways to make it both manageable and enjoyable.

It’s easy, at first, to lounge around in pajamas, eat too much. It seems like a bit of a vacation to let regular chores go and to know others can’t see us so, who cares about the hair and make-up?  But if you’re like me, you want to feel productive at least part of the time and that vacation soon begins to feel like captivity.

Here’s the solution. Design a routine that works for you. Choose some of the positive activities below and build a schedule around them. Turn your lethargy into an active, healthy schedule and you’ll feel happier and more content in one of the most challenging events of our lives.

  1. Cook healthy meals

Since it’s difficult to shop for groceries and we’re often relying on online orders, be extra-careful to plan and cook healthy meals. It’s tempting to eat too many treats and let nutrition go. Here are 100 meals that are both healthy and require few ingredients.

  1. Organize and De-clutter

Most of us have the uneasy feeling that our home is a bit of a mess. We need to get rid of things, but where to begin? We have time now, so there’s no excuse, and I think you’ll find it’s actually fun to get rid of unwanted, unnecessary items once you begin. Check out Marie Kondo’s method for de-cluttering and then modify the procedures to suit your home.

  1. Get regular exercise

Stress can destroy our desire to stay fit. It can paralyze us. We may not be able to maintain our usual exercise routines which involve fitness clubs and team sports. So it’s time to be creative and just do it. You can create your own at-home exercise routine or get online and find a good old-fashioned exercise video to do from your living room. Don’t forget most of us are free to walk in our own neighborhoods if we keep a distance between us.

  1. Deep Clean

Dirt happens. The most fastidious housekeeper will need to occasionally do a deep-clean of each room. You have the time now, so what’s keeping you from a frenzy of cleaning? Why not select one room, follow the deep cleaning checklist and before you know it, you’ll have a sparkling-clean abode.

  1. Read 

Most of us enjoy a good book and usually don’t find enough time to read. Now we have nothing but time. So..

  • Read a classic you’ve always wanted to read
  • Find a new author and explore his or her writing
  • Read a bestseller
  • Explore a new genre. Maybe you’ll enjoy fantasy or romance
  • Look for an online book club
  1. Write

Have you always meant to try your hand at poetry? Do you enjoy writing thoughtfully in a journal? Do you enjoy writing to others? Take the time now to write something. Perhaps a memoir of this unique and challenging time will become a valuable family treasure.

  1. Connect with Friends and Family

This one goes without saying. We miss the family and friends who are beyond our touch at this time and for some time to come. Make the phone calls, do the video calls or send a quick note to someone you love. Maybe this is the time to strike up a renewed friendship with someone you’ve not seen in a long time. Make those connections.

  1. Watch an old or new TV series

Is there a television series you’ve always wanted to watch from beginning to end? Now is the time. Find something just right for you and go ahead a binge-watch.

  1. Rest or Nap

In times of stress it’s even more important to get adequate sleep. Most of us are worried about the effects of the virus and may be losing sleep because of that. Do your best to get good sleep at night and take a nap now and then if you need it.

  1. Take an Online Class

There is probably some skill you wish you’d learned earlier or some knowledge you wish you had. Maybe it’s time to study a bit each day and learn something new with an online class. Many are free and the accomplishment will feel very good.

In any time of crisis there are those who stand up to the challenge and those who don’t. Take stock of your situation and determine the best path for the coming weeks and perhaps months. Let’s thrive!

Simple Soups from the Cupboard

When you can’t get to the supermarket and you want something yummy for dinner, why not try one of these super-simple soup recipes? Using only a few ingredients that you probably already have in the cupboard, you can whip up a simple, but tasty soup. Add a crusty roll or square of cornbread for a quick and satisfying meal.

Three Ingredient Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is a standby choice for a quick lunch or dinner. This recipe calls for three ingredients used in equal parts and can be made in minutes using a blender before heating.

One part marinara sauce

Water or broth

Cottage cheese

Combine equal parts of the above three ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Then place in a saucepan and heat. So simple, so good.

Four Ingredient Broccoli-Cheese Soup

If you can’t get to the store for fresh broccoli, use frozen. Cook the broccoli until tender and then combine with the rest of the ingredients.

10-12 oz fresh broccoli, cooked

1 family-sized can of cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk (add more to taste)

2 cups shredded cheese

Combine the first three items in a saucepan and then add the cheese, melting it just before serving.

Four Ingredient Pinto Bean Soup

So easy and with a bit of zip.

1 ½ cups of refried beans

1 cup salsa (use the level of spice you enjoy)

½ cup water

Cheddar cheese as garnish

Combine the first three ingredients in a saucepan and heat. Add cheese after serving into bowls.

Five Ingredient Rosemary-Orzo Soup

This simple soup is tasty and the rosemary adds a nice flavor.

2 cups broth

2 T. olive oil

1/3  cup shredded carrot

1 T. rosemary or fresh if you have it.

½ cup orzo

Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook approximately nine minutes or until soft. Add cilantro or green onion for color and flavor.

A nice bowl of hot soup is comforting on those days when you can’t get out. And it doesn’t have to be a challenging cooking chore. Enjoy these simple recipes or create one of your own as you see what’s in your pantry.

For more ideas for simple soup recipes see:

https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/5-ingredient-soup-recipes/  https://www.southernliving.com/dish/soup/easy-soup-recipes-few-ingredients

Your Family Needs a Fire Safety Plan

                                  Your Family Needs a Fire Safety Plan

Every family needs to think seriously about keeping safe, and one of the biggest safety needs is a clear and well-rehearsed fire safety plan. The plan itself can be very simple—simple enough for the youngest member of the family to follow. The key is to intentionally make plans, practice the routine and establish a time each year to update it and make any necessary changes. If you take a look at the statistics on residential fires in your own community, you will be even more motivated to make and implement your family’s plan. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

The first part of any good fire safety plan is to install smoke alarms. Yes they are a nuisance when Mom inadvertently sets them off while cooking, but a good alarm will save lives in the case of a fire. Some families have discovered that vocal smoke alarms work quite as well as the regular ones. A vocal alarm is a recording made by the parents or other adult family member which gives instructions in case of a fire. It may say something like, “Wake up Amy, there is a fire. Follow our plan. Stay low and go out of the window then meet us at the mailbox.” In some cases young children or even elderly adults have responded better and more quickly when hearing a familiar voice.

Your plan should include a simple floor plan map of your home with arrows indicating where the nearest exits are for each part of the home. It is important children know the fastest way out of their bedrooms and also have a secondary route planned if possible.

After making the plan, have a family meeting to explain and practice the routine evacuation of your home. If ladders, ramps or other ways of exiting the home are in your plan, be sure to practice the exit exactly as it would occur. Every good plan has a meeting place established well away from the home structure. It is often at the curbside or mailbox of the home. Plan and keep a schedule for periodic practices of your plan.

Children often get fire safety lessons as part of their school curriculum, but they may have difficulty applying it in their home settings unless they have the opportunity to practice with the family. Here are some pieces of information that will help you in establishing your family’s fire safety routine:

  • Smoke alarms should be tested monthly to make sure they are working. The

            batteries usually last a year and the alarm itself for about ten years.

  • It has been proven safer to have children sleep with bedroom doors closed. If parents are worried about hearing their children during the night they should purchase a monitor so communication is easy and reassuring to the child.
  • Children of school age may be shown how to use a fire extinguisher. There should be a fire extinguisher in every kitchen, hallways leading to bedrooms and near a barbecue pit or grill area.
  • Instruct children to feel doors first before opening them in the effort to exit. If the door is hot, they need to try to use another exit.
  • If it is necessary to move through a smoky area, teach children to crawl on hands and knees—“stay low and go.”
  • If clothing catches fire, children need to know they should, “stop, drop and roll” to extinguish the flames.
  • If there are elderly family members, toddlers, or even pets, the family should make assignments for aiding them in their escape.
  • Once out of the building everyone should go directly to the meeting place. Phone calls to 911 or other emergency agencies should be made after the exit. Children should be taught NEVER to return to a burning building once they are out safely.
  • It is a good idea to have your address clearly visible from the street so any emergency vehicles will see it upon arrival.
  • Be sure babysitters or other caregivers are aware of your safety plan. Have the exit maps posted with family emergency phone numbers.

In the serious business of keeping your family safe, a well thought-out plan can make life and death differences. So make your plan, practice your plan and be sure to include annual checks and updates to it. Then, sleep well; knowing you have done all you should to keep your family members safe.