5 Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy

The last segment in this health series focuses on family health. Growing up, my family always had a rule to take your shoes off when entering in the house. We’ve also kept this tradition and it definitely keeps the house cleaner with less dirt and germs entering the living space.

keeping your family healthy

There are so many reasons why we moms want to keep our family as healthy as possible, not least because our kids are a pain to look after when they get ill and the man-flu our partners complain of is unbearable to live with. That alone is reason enough to go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure that we are doing all we can in the healthy family stakes.

Water Not Food

Overeating a is a big issue at the moment, a pandemic that has certainly taken America by storm. So, the next time your kid says they are hungry, instead of reaching for a snack packed full of E-numbers, given them a glass of water instead. The reason you should do this is thirst and hunger can be really hard to differentiate, meaning your kids could actually be thirsty instead of hungry. Of course, your kids may complain because they don’t like water, in which case you should spruce it up a bit with some sliced fruit and tell them to enjoy.

Always Wash Hands

Pretty much every type of cold, flu or viral bacteria is spread through hand-to-hand contact, which is exactly why you should encourage your kids to get their scrub on. It is just the most effective way to protect your family from catching all those things that are out there. Get into the habit of your kids cleaning their hands every time they come into the house. That, or start having antibacterial hand wash dotted about your home.

Doctor On-Call

Going to the doctor every time your partner gets the man-flu (and claims it is life threatening) or your kids say their tummy hurts is a tiring process. Booking an appointment, getting into the car, sitting in a waiting room full of people with contagious flu’s, and all that sort of stuff is time-consuming. That is why you should join the 21st century and sign up to 365 Doc. You can get a doctor’s opinion from anywhere using your phone and not have to suffer any waiting times or run the risk of catching the actual flu when nothing was wrong in the first place. Oh, the irony.

No Shoes Policy

Wearing shoes around your house is a surefire way to encourage the spread of germs. Think about it. You’ve been wearing your shoes outside, stomping around in pesticides, germs, toxins, allergens and whatever else, and now you’re stomping them into the floor of your home. We read one statistic that said the sole of each shoe contains over 400,000 bacteria. So, yeah, take them off at the door and leave them there. Simple.

Stretch As A Family

Why not add a little stretching into your morning routine. Wake up, come down stairs, pop the kettle on, and then have a little stretch together while you wait. You don’t need to go overboard and start learning a thousand different yoga poses. Just a reaching up into the air and then trying to touch your toes a few times over will be enough to get your circulation going, and that will keep your immune system running high.

How to Get Better Posture

The second post in this series of health collaborations is about posture. Good posture is not only good for your body’s alignment but can also enhance your self confidence. My biggest key to better posture that is also mentioned later in this post is core and abdominal strength. Some of my favorite core exercises here.

Posture is more important than many people think. With correct posture, you are likely to live longer, have far less trouble with aches and pains in old age, and even  – some studies suggest – live a happier life. But poor posture seems to be almost something of an epidemic at the moment. If you are concerned that your posture is not quite as good as it could be, you will be glad to know that there are a number of steps you can take to improve it. Many of these are relatively simple and straightforward, and yet can make a huge difference to how you live your life.

Developing A Mindfulness Of Body

One of the most important changes you can possibly make is to start to be a little more mindful of what your body is actually doing from moment to moment. Many people go through their daily lives not really paying close attention to their bodies. This inattentiveness can lead on to many problems, and bad posture is just one of them. The more aware you are of what your back is actually doing, the better equipped you will be to keep it – literally – on the straight and narrow.

There are certain times in the day when it is particularly beneficial to practise this. When you are sitting, particularly at a desk, try to remain aware of how your back is arched. Similarly, when you are walking you can use that time to simply pay attention to how you hold yourself. This simple act of drawing attention to your body is only the first step, but it is one of the most vital, and even just doing that is likely to make a difference at first.

Giving Yourself The Gift Of Sleep

Sleep is a hugely important health concern as it is, but it is especially relevant when it comes to trying to improve your posture. Many people often completely overlook the importance of their sleeping position and comfortability, but it is vital if you are truly serious about keeping your posture strong and healthy. Fortunately, there is plenty that you can do to improve your quality of sleep.

First, take a look at how comfortable – or not – your bed is. If it is not comfortable, it is more likely that you will shift around as you sleep, and this in itself can often be a cause of poor posture. Similarly, if you are sleeping on a mattress which is either too hard or too soft,  your posture will suffer – and besides, you will be causing harm to your back in the long run anyway. You should aim for a mattress which supports you, but does not envelop you. This plush beds mattress review gives an example of the kind of mattress which offers a good level of support. Remember that your pillows are important too – memory foam is a healthy option here, and you should endeavor to support your neck a little too.

It’s not just the bed itself however. If you are not sleeping as soundly as you could, you might be causing harm to your back, and making your posture in waking life much worse. Therefore, it is also important to carry out any other essential tasks aimed at improving your quality of sleep. This could mean working to get the temperature just right, choosing calming colors for your decor, and limiting the amount of caffeine you have in your diet. It all helps.

Training Your Body

Many people who want to improve their posture will carry out the things mentioned above first and foremost, without too much hassle. But many fewer people will ever look to training their body more generally. However, the better in shape you stay, the more chance you have of retaining a decent posture throughout your life. Training is vital – but what kind of training is best for this specific aim? The answer might surprise you.

Most of all, you need to make sure that you are working to stabilize your core. There are many specific workouts you can do to achieve this. The single leg extension, for example, can be particularly beneficial. In this exercise, you lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and your hands behind your head. Then it is a case of pulling your navel in and up towards your spine. Done right and repeatedly, this can improve your core hugely. That, in turn, means that your core muscles will find it easier to hold your body upright, therefore improving your posture naturally.

With a little concentration and some basic changes, you can improve your posture easily and quickly. Doing so will automatically lead to a better way of life, and this is something that anyone should consider doing.

Muscle Sculpting

This the first of 3 health and wellness posts I’m collaborating with other writers on. I’ve enjoyed yoga for years and continue to find amazing benefits including flexibility and strength. More recently, I’ve been swimming more. Dave and I signed up for a sprint triathlon that’s actually in a couple weeks so we’ve been forced to swim more, ha, ha! While my swimming endurance is something I can definitely work on, I have liked mixing up my exercise routine and the benefit of using different muscles. Here are a few suggestions for muscle sculpting:

yoga

Most of us know that lots of aerobic exercises are good for heart health and weight loss. You might enjoy walking a lot, and perhaps you even go jogging occasionally. Did you know that combining these exercises with some weight work can help you to sculpt your body shape more easily? Of course, standing around with dumbbells doesn’t sound like fun, so here are some of the best ways to enjoy toning and building up your muscles:

Yoga

All you need for this one is a workout mat and enough space to put it down. You can find lots of really good Yoga poses online, or even join a class to get more from it. Yoga builds strength in most of your muscle groups. It particularly works the core muscle and can help to improve your posture. Did you know that Yoga can be used for relaxation as well as energizing? Best of all, it serves as the perfect warm-up to stretch all those muscles out well. Low impact stuff that’s fun and good for toning!

Kettlebells

This is the exercise that’s taking America by storm right now. Kettlebells are relatively cheap to buy and you only really need one. Start with just a couple of kilos, especially if you’re coming back to exercise. If you’re asking what muscles do kettlebell swings work, then you’re not alone. After all, it’s just one weight with one handle. How effective can it be? The trick is to use kettlebell swings to work your shoulders, back, and hips. If you don’t want bulky legs, this is perfect because it tones rather than adding mass.

Dancing

There are so many different kinds of dancing, but all of them demand a strong core and good posture. This immediately lifts your entire frame. As you’re up on your ball joints a lot, your legs, ankles, and glutes will enjoy a lot of toning. Best of all, the music motivates you to keep going. There are lots of dance exercise classes, but a standard ballroom, jazz, street, or ballet class will work wonders. Plus it’s social and lots of fun!

Swimming

Do you remember those pregnancy exercise in the water classes? Some people love them, others hate them. Now you’re back to basics, and it’s time to get in the water and start swimming! The movements you ‘enjoyed’ before are actually pretty good warm-ups. But it is the breaststroke and front crawl that is going to help you tone up your shoulders, arms, and back.

Laying on the sofa?

Yes, laying on the sofa can help you tone and even build up your leg muscles. This can be ideal for anyone with a weakened back. For squishier couch seat cushions, add a pillow or two under your lower back as you lay on the sofa. Now raise your legs in the air, one at a time. From here you can start to explore the range of movement in your hips that are comfortable. Leg pushes, splits and kicks can help push the excess fluid away from ankles and knees. And you’ll get some great toning if you perform these during your favorite soap opera each night!

Health Tip

health tips give a complimentThis month’s health tip is guaranteed to help you feel better and someone else! If you’re feeling down, a great way to feel a little better is to reach out and compliment someone. While you may not see the impact of your compliment, the recipient will remember it. Focusing on others is something that helps me to see outside my own needs and usually gives me a better perspective on any problems I’m having.

*more health tips here

6 ways to get more from your workout

I’m excited to share some tips that can help all of us achieve our fitness and wellness goals. They are all great reminders of how to get the most out of a workout. My favorite part and something I always can improve on is making sure to fully stretch after exercising. We are members at 24 Hour Fitness and use their Kids Club as childcare while we’re there. I sometimes find myself rushed after a workout or fitness class to get back to the kids, other commitments, errands, etc. Thanks, Maurine Anderson for guest posting!

Want to get more out of your daily workout? Finding the motivation to get that daily workout in is hard enough as it is, so it’s good to know that there are a variety of techniques out there that you can use to make the most of your workouts. Here are 6 simple ways to get more out of every workout.

Eat a pre-workout snack.

Even if you like to work out first thing in the morning, your body is going to need some fuel first before hitting it hard. Enter: the pre-workout snack. The ideal pre-workout snack contains simple carbohydrates, which are absorbed quickly and offer quick energy, along with complex carbohydrates, which will sustain you throughout the duration of your workout. (Many say that a good pre-workout snack also includes protein, and while some protein helps, protein is ultimately much more important as part of your post-workout meal.) You should plan on eating your pre-workout snack 30 minutes to an hour before working out, as this article states. Some ideas for pre-workout snacks:

  • Whole wheat toast topped with fruit
  • Oatmeal topped with dried fruit
  • Greek yogurt topped with fruit
  • Fruit smoothie that includes oats
  • Cold brown rice topped with fruit
  • Banana slices and peanut butter

Warm up first.

Many people confuse warming up with stretching. Warming up involves doing a lighter version of the exercise you are about to engage in, at the beginning of your workout. If you’re about to go on a run, for example, warming up should involve fast walking or slow jogging to get your heart rate up. If you’re about to engage in a synergistic workout, jumping jacks make for a great warm up. You should warm up for about 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of your workout, gradually increasing intensity throughout the course of the warm up. Doing so will increase blood flow, loosen the joints, and prepare the muscles for high intensity work.

Cool down and stretch afterward.

Cooling down and stretching are essential for preventing injury and aiding in muscle recovery. They can also help improve flexibility and range of motion. A good cool down is a lot like a warm up, only it involves gradually decreasing intensity and incorporating some stretching. Start your cool down by gradually decreasing the intensity of the exercise you are engaging in, and finish by stretching the muscles you worked. A cool down should be about 5 to 10 minutes long.

Don’t forget your recovery meal.

If you work out regularly, your post-workout recovery meal is perhaps the most important meal of the day. Your recovery meal should be rich in both protein and carbohydrates, and you should plan to eat it within two hours after a workout. (It’s also best to consume some carbs within 15 minutes after your workout to replenish your muscle glycogen supply.) Your recovery meal may also include some fat and fiber as well, as you’ll have more time after you work out to digest those things. Aim for a recovery meal that’s between 200 and 400 calories. Here are some examples:

  • Grilled chicken and mixed vegetables
  • Whole wheat toast and a vegetable omelette
  • Chocolate milk and some raw almonds
  • Whey or soy protein shake
  • Energy bar and fresh fruit

Get a massage.

Here’s a tip that you won’t need me to tell you twice. Getting a quick massage after a particularly strenuous workout can actually improve and speed up your post-workout recovery. Studies have shown that getting a post-workout massage reduces muscle inflammation and increases the number of mitochondria in muscle cells (which generate the energy your muscles need for recovery).

Go for a soak.

Here’s another tip you’ll like hearing—soaking in a warm bath or hot tub after your workout can also help you get the most out of your workout. The heat of the water helps increase your circulation and relax your muscles. The key with this, however, is to time it right. It’s best to wait for your heart rate to go back down before immersing yourself in hot water. You can read more tips on incorporating hydrotherapy into your workout regimen here.

Maurine Anderson originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now enjoying life out west in Salt Lake City. She is a professional writer and blogger who in her free time loves to create new cake recipes, travel, and practice her hand at photography. She tends to geek out over linguistics, cats, and all things Scandinavia. Check out more of her writing at MaurineDashney.com and find her on Instagram @maurinedashney.

More motivation and fitness tips from guest bloggers here

Favorite family activity: flashlight walks

One of our favorite things to do as a family is nightly walks. It’s great exercise and we’ve found a way that makes it enjoyable for the kids too.  When we first got married we would go on an evening walk usually on Sundays since it’s a more relaxing day and a nice way to start the week, talk and enjoy nature. When we lived in Virginia and I was pregnant with Brent we walked a ton since it was supposed to help induce healthy labor. Plus we also had Bruce and it was good exercise for him, and us. When Tessa was a newborn we continued to do our daily walks even though it was winter in Utah. It was fun to bundle up and get out of the house (we would push Tessa in her stroller that had a zipped winter cover).

When we lived in Texas, we still wanted to do our walk and since it was so hot, we usually wouldn’t go until the sun went down and we had the kids bring their mini flashlights which they absolutely love! It makes it fun for them especially if we’re going for a long walk and they’re in the stroller. We’ve still been doing our favorite family activity with the flashlights and it’s still great to stretch your legs at the end of the day, relax, breathe fresh air and talk together. If you’re looking for a way to walk more, get more exercise and feel refreshed, adopt our evening walk tradition! 🙂

favorite family activity evening flashlight walks

favorite family activity evening flashlight walks

[mini flashlights from the dollar store, we love our BOB Sport Utility Duallie double jogging Stroller from my parents and I always wear my nerdy runner’s vest similar to this one with a blinking bike light in the safety vest pocket]

Health tip

Like most people, I make a health related goal at the beginning of every year.  How are yours coming along? I feel like most people are super motivated in January and sometimes that motivation fades as the year goes on. To help all of us achieve our health goals this year, I will post a small health tip every month to hopefully boost that motivation level. All the tips will be practical and simple. I’m not into fad diets or drastic measures that promise quick results (because they usually don’t last). My philosophy is more about consistency and challenge. Some tips won’t necessarily focus on just physical health as over wellness includes mental, social, emotional and spiritual health. Here is February’s health tip:

health tips and motivation, lose weight, be healthy

When I’m done working out, one of the first things I want to do it eat! It’s easy to eat snacks or even junk but try to fill up with good, whole foods. When you burn calories exercising, you need to replace those calories. Don’t let your body store junk food calories or it’ll take longer to progress. I’ve listed some of my favorite, easy post workout snacks and I also like these protein bites you can make before hand.

10 ways to improve your health

No matter your age, circumstances or stage, there is probably something you can do to be healthier.  These are my favorite, small things to do to improve one’s health:

  1. Drink more water – aim for 8 cups a day.
  2. Regular and consistent exercise -find something you love to do that’s not a chore.
  3. Practice stress relief like meditation, deep breathing, stretching, yoga, etc.
  4. Walk more – take the stairs, walk on your lunch break, park farther away.
  5. Get enough sleep! – you will be mentally sharp and more able to maintain a healthy weight. One of the factors of obesity is a lack of sleep.
  6. Eat breakfast.
  7. Fill your body with whole foods – the less processed, the better it is for your body.
  8. Lift weights – You don’t need to become a body builder, but strengthen your muscles and bones.
  9. Look on the bright side – make an effort to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, don’t compare yourself to others.
  10. Serve and reach out to others – both parties will benefit in countless ways.

The one I feel like I’m ALWAYS working on is drinking more water! I don’t drink anything besides water and occasionally orange juice and have found carrying a water bottle around (even around the house) has helped me remember to drink more water. I’ve started to see minor improvements in my skin tone and texture. My current favorite water bottle is this Hydro Flask bottle. I wanted a bottle that would keep water cold (because Texas) and didn’t collect condensation or leak. This bottle is amazing and met all my requirements. Even outside at the park in 95 degrees, my water was still ice cold.

hydroflask

10-simple ways to improve your health

10-ways to improve your health