Two Important Ways to Age Well
September is National healthy aging month. Life is hard and life is long. There are so many unforeseen obstacles that appear during our lives that make it nearly impossible to keep a completely perfect body. Mix that with the natural effects of father time, and it is truly impossible. That being said, the more information, dedication and effort you put into your body, the longer it will keep you kicking. There are so many different health aspects to think about when it comes to aging it is hard to keep up. You have to eat well continuously, you have to exercise, you have to stay socially engaged, you have to stay mentally (educationally) engaged, you have to protect your skin, you have to sleep well, you have to stay in a positive mind set, and ultimately you may be bound by fate or your traits.
Sleep – The most overlooked health attribute of them all
Sleep is being linked with more and more health risks. Over the past decade sleep studies have been correlating sleep deprivation with depression, anxiety, stress, heart disease and poor immune system. Sleep is a fundamental health subject and we need to take it more seriously. As our lives become filled with technology and easy to access media our brains are constantly turned on. It is becoming harder and harder to slow down and get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is the foundation of how every day starts, it sets the pace for your whole day and it should not be ignored. Our society ignores it because we think we can just catch up on sleep over the weekend or we can take a supplement that will give us energy for the day but both of those thought processes are extremely unhealthy. Our brains need routine shut downs and if we do not get that then it effects our overall health. If you constantly sleep poorly, you literally can knock weeks, months or years off your life. It is the silent killer, pay attention to the long-term investment of a great sleep cycle.
Exercise – The most common healthy habit that is done wrong
Exercise in terms of aging well, is right up at the top. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. When it comes to exercise people are treating it like most things: as a short, aggressive plan to lose weight or look great. That is not what exercise is for, unless you are an athlete training for something specific. When it comes to the general population we all need to be training not to look our best but to be our healthiest. Two different things. We want long and strong muscles. This means everybody needs to be warming up before our workouts and stretching afterwards. This is essential for people over 50.
The over 50 group used to be told, make sure you do slow strength training and long cardio exercise routines. This has been debunked by a few reputable university studies. The key to aging well in terms of exercise is… diversification. The body responds to different styles of workouts extremely well. Thus, you should not stick to just long cardio sessions but add in interval training as well. No matter the age (as long as your Dr. gives you the nod) you must be doing some form of high intensity exercise so that your heart is tested (safely). Not only, your heart but your muscles as well, long are the days of 10 reps of a mediocre weighted exercise. It is ok to push your muscles to a heavier weight occasionally, and it is ok to do lighter weight with more reps. To extend your body life you must keep purposefully testing it and giving it new exercise options and whatever you do, stretch after every workout.
Cholesterol Education Month
September is national cholesterol education month, and a good reminder that heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans. Cholesterol is found in fats (lipids) in our blood. We do need some cholesterol to live, having too much of this in our blood can lead to heart disease. Below are lifestyle changes that can help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL), and increase the good cholesterol (HDL).
Be Mindful of the Fats you Eat:
Eat plenty of Omega 3s: Found in fatty fish (salmon) and ground flaxseeds and chia seeds. These can increase your HDL cholesterol.
Avoid Trans fats: These are in common in packaged foods (popcorn, chips, pastries, cookies) and in many margarines and “unnatural” nut butters. Ideally, these would be avoided since they can increase your bad cholesterol.
Balance with saturated fats. These are found in meat, poultry and dairy products. Recent research suggests these are not as bad as once believed to be. It’s still a good idea to balance your diet by choosing lean cuts of meat.
Limit Added Sugar
Excessive carbohydrates in the diet can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol. The first place to start reducing carbs in your diet is with added sugars found in sweetened drinks (sodas, Frappuccino’s, fruit juice), and “junk” food.
Keep sodium to less than 2,400 milligrams/day. The best ways to limit sodium is to dine out less, and check food labels on food that comes in a bag, box or can.
Eat a balanced diet. Eat plenty of vegetables and whole grains to help get enough fiber, which can help lower LDL cholesterol. (Check out the recipe below, full of veggies and lean protein!)
Get Enough Exercise
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise (walking, water aerobics) or 75 minutes each week of vigorous exercise (running, swimming). Exercise is the best way to increase your HDL or good cholesterol, and can help you maintain or achieve a healthy body weight.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
A health professional such as a doctor or dietitian can help determine what a healthy weight means for you. However, it’s recommended that men maintain a waist at or below 40 inches and women at or below 35 inches to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.
Keep Alcohol within Moderation
This means no more than 2 drinks/day for men and only 1 drink/day for women.
Don’t Smoke Tobacco
This is the number one thing you can do to help prevent heart disease!
Greek Chicken Salad
• 2 cups chopped romaine
• ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
• ½ cup chopped cucumber
• ¼ cup crumbled feta
• 3 oz. baked chicken breast, sliced
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Top salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and chicken.
• In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour onto salad.
Nutrition: 328 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 14 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 18 protein, 411 mg sodium.
Elise Campbell, RDN, CSSD
Project Wellness Nutritionist & Personal Trainer
The American Heart Association's Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from
Why Women & Men need to Switch their Workouts
Disclaimer: This title and newsletter is a generalization of the average Jane and Joe, who sticks to their comfortable workouts. Jane likes yoga, stretching, body weight exercises, running, low impact movements and fast paced group classes. Joe likes slow paced, low reps, heavy weights, fundamental movements and the occasional warm up run. So, if that does not cover your workout story, then try this: female weightlifters, STOP lifting and go to yoga. And Male yogis, do some heavy lifting. Runners and cyclists, go strengthen your hamstrings.
Before I jump deep into this topic, you must know my philosophy on working out. I believe in longevity and quality of movement through life. There is not one style of workout that is better than another and there is no one workout that fits all. Diversification in workout routines creates the healthiest and most efficient bodies on this planet. We all get into our comfort zones and find something we enjoy or find a little easier or do because of social norms/peer pressure but I’m telling you to stop that right now.
I see it repeatedly: weak shoulders, necks, traps, triceps, and upper back. I can’t think of one female client in my tenure who didn’t have some sort of pain, misalignment, pinch, ache or issue with their upper extremities. Unfortunately, 5lb weights, push-ups and punches isn’t going to fix it. With technology and desk life keeping you glued to screens, it is inevitable that your posture is going to get the best of you. Unless, you fight back and add in a slow strength day to your weekly routine.
How to Fix the Problem
Go to your local beefy, bro, cut-offs welcome, meathead gym and take note. You should know in advance, yes, all those gyms smell the same, like sweaty feet. You don’t nesseciary need to work out their more than once but observe and lookout for all the PULL motions and exercises. NOT push, but PULL. Things like sit down rows, bent over rows, reverse flys, cable machine pulls, lateral shoulder motions, and lat pull downs, just to mention a few.
Heavier weights, between 4-12 reps, 3-4 rounds, strengthening primarily upper back/traps, shoulders, and triceps.
Please stop trying to look like The Rock. You should know that he gets paid very well to work out and look the way he does. Not only that, he works out twice a day every day, has help from the best health professionals in the world and hasn’t eaten a piece of candy in over 10 years. Most men have an amazing amount of muscle mass but have extremely poor cardiopulmonary efficiency and terrible flexibility/functional movement. Here is the issue, you may look like and feel like a million dollars but unfortunately what really counts when it comes to the human body is the heart and lungs. Heavy lifting only can put a lot of strain on your heart, mix that with poor pulmonary/lung/breathing efficiency, you get serious health issues.
How to Fix the Problem
Get over your manliness, suck in your pride and accept that it is ok to take a rest from lifting. Understand that it is not necessarily the healthiest thing for you. What I am trying to say is that men should stop trying to be the pride lion and start accepting that women are right… it’s what is inside that counts.
The simplest option: replace a muscle building session with 45min+ of consistent fast walking or very light jog.
The second option: join a mildly intense yoga class once a week
Third: ask a girlfriend, friend, partner, wife, to join one of their hour-long group classes, full of low impact body weight exercises that will ramp up your metabolism and burn your lungs.
Back to School Nutrition Tips
It’s that time of year again! The kids are headed back to school, family vacations are winding down, and it’s time for a set schedule again. Going back to a routine can have its advantages, but it can also feel challenging to make time for healthy eating and staying active. Below are the four most important tips to help ease you into your busier schedule, while still making healthy choices.
Plan your Meals for the Upcoming Week
Take the time to check your schedule for the week ahead, and see which nights you’ll have time to cook, or be rushing to get the kids to their after school activities. This will help you make enough food for leftovers, or plan a healthy convenience meal in advance.
Preparation is Everything
Just as you planned your meals, taking the time to do some basic prep work on the weekend can help your week run smoothly. You don’t necessarily need to cook all of your meals for the week (but you can if this works for you). However, you can chop your fruit and veggies, cook some whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, etc.), and even cook some of your protein (meat, chicken, etc.) if you wish.
Have a Plan B
Schedules can change last minute, and you may not be able to cook the meal you were planning on. It can be helpful to have some easy to prepare staples in your pantry and freezer. Keep frozen veggies on hand, they are just as healthy as fresh (just get them without a salty sauce added). Keep whole grains in the pantry (whole wheat pasta, quinoa, bulgur). Quick protein options could be making a quick veggie and egg scramble or frittata for dinner (see recipe below), or even picking up a rotisserie chicken on the way home.
Pack Lunches the Night Before
This goes for your own, as well as your kids. This helps your morning run smoother, and you can focus on packing a healthy lunch and snacks for the day. This defends against the grab and go unhealthy quick options.
Veggie Frittata and Green Salad (3 servings)
• 1 tbsp. coconut oil
• 1 cup sliced mushrooms of choice
• 1 cup asparagus, sliced into 1 inch pieces
• 1 tsp. minced garlic
• ¼ cup sundried tomatoes
• 6 whole eggs
• 3 egg whites
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 6 cups spinach
• 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. vinegar of choice (balsamic, apple cider, etc.)
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat oil in large cast iron (or other oven safe skillet) over medium-high heat. Sauté mushrooms and asparagus ~8 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and tomatoes and sauté ~1-2 minutes.
• Beat eggs and egg whites in large bowl with salt and pepper.
• Remove pan from heat and pour egg mixture over vegetables. Place in oven and bake about 15-20 minutes or eggs are set.
• Place spinach and tomatoes in large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients to make vinaigrette. *Only toss salad right before serving.
Nutrition: 350 calories, 20 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 24 grams protein, 273 mg sodium.
Elise Campbell, RDN, CSSD
Project Wellness Nutritionist & Personal Trainer
What do we mean when we say hiking? I’m not talking about walking for an hour around your local park I’m talking about spending a half or full day on a trail, simply enjoying mother nature’s beauty. July is National Parks and Recreation Month and we want you to take full advantage of the incredible scenery that this country has. Not only do you get a chance to see some of our nation’s natural treasures but you also have the chance to engage in excellent physical and mental exercise in as well.
1: Physical Stress
When it comes to exercise, the current trend is to push our bodies to their physical limits for short periods of time and at extremes intensities. This form of training has become extremely prevalent due to the time crunch we burden ourselves with and EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Essentially, EPOC is the fat burning hours that take place after we have stopped working out. Unfortunately, there are massive flaws with only training your body in this method. First, your body becomes resilient to this training method, thus not burning as much as you did your first month or so. Second, for today’s fast paced, chair bound, and high demand working culture, this form of exercise can be detrimental to the body. High intensity workouts can put massive stress on your muscular system and cardiopulmonary system, which can result in soft tissue injury and added physical stress such as high blood pressure, pulse rate, and breathing rate.
So, why is hiking physically healthy for me? The answer is longevity, consistency and work rate. A normal day hike takes around 3-6 hours. Traditionally, one would walk at a good walking pace for long periods with small breaks to refuel over the day. This type of exercise, compared to our EPOC driven classes described above, is the complete opposite. When hiking, you get your fat burning during the exercise and you break into that fat storage after the first 45 mins or so. Our body responds to this type of aerobic exercise (over-time) by becoming more efficient at burning fat. We have an almost unlimited amount of fat storage in the body and this is an extremely efficient way of burning energy. It is extremely good for our joints/muscular system and even better for our cardiopulmonary system. It reduces the physical stress we build up during the week and has proven to lower our blood pressure, pulse rate and breathing rate.
2: Mental Break
The working world we live in today is built on a foundation of perfection and delivery. Every small decision and task seems to have a weight or pressure applied to it as if it is going to be the end of the world if it is not executed with precision. This creates so much undue stress throughout the working world and it is affecting our health very negatively. Stress is a major cause of serious and less serious health conditions, from heart attacks to anxiety attacks.
A day hike on a beautiful trail out in the open is what the doctor ordered. When out in the open your brain secretes less cortisol “stress hormone” and more dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. This allows you to feel more happiness, completion or success in addition to increase in mood or sense of calmness. Literally, hiking creates a relaxed state of mind and a positive sense of life perception/clarity.
3: Technology and Screen Time
Our worst enemy and biggest competitor: technology and screen time. How do you compete with the amazement of technology and what it can do for us? Yes, there are some truly amazing things that technology has provided us for the good of our health and for that, we are thankful. However, our addiction, over use, and dependency to technology is also leading us down an unhealthy path. The amount of screen time we put in each day is exhausting. I could go on for hours about the specifics of this topic but to keep it quick, we all need a break. Trust me, everything from your eyes to that horrible posture your sitting in need a break.
There is no better break for your eyes than a beautiful and adventurous hike outdoors. Mentally, physically and socially, hiking allows us to turn on different receptors in our brains and turn off the ones we use constantly staring at screens. Being in the outdoors keeps your brain from overheating like the computer you stare at all day. It allows you to reset, refocus, and become more productive when you return to work.
4: Human to Human Communication
Related to technology, we are so dependent on email, text messages, apps, and social media to communicate within our society, that we are losing personal connections. It has become too easy to criticize and ignore feelings. As well as, too hard to read in-between the lines, develop trust and commitment, sense humor or tone of voice. These listed factors make it extremely hard to build positive relationships and hard to create a healthy communication lines.
Hiking with a partner, friend, co-worker, family member, team member or whole team will increase your trust, general communication, emotional bond, unity and relationship strength. Furthermore, hiking in the outdoors is a great way to start a new relationship or develop your listening skills. Being able to talk about or listen to another’s issues can help your own personal health. Being in the open and walking with someone opens you up to a new dimension of sharing, you help someone clear their mind and in return you clear your mind as well. Clear mind = healthy mind.
5: Fresh Air and Sunshine
Circulated air is one of the quickest ways to get sick and your office building has a bunch of it. The more time you spend indoors the more likely you are to be breathing in someone else’s bacteria or virus. Yes, I am ending with a scare factor. There are many airborne pathogens circulating your office and people who spend too much time indoors are being diagnosed with low Vitamin-D. Down the road, this can cause bone pain and muscle weakness, and is correlated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
The more time you spend outdoors breathing in fresh air the less likely you are to get sick. Plain and simple: escape into the beautiful outdoor world and get moving to defend against your stress and office germs!
Finally, don’t forget to put on SPF before absorbing some natural vitamin-D.