Archive for July, 2015

“Go Outside & Play!” Let the Broken Record Play on…

July 28th, 2015 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Let the Broken Record Play on – Focus on Free Play

Oh for the love of child’s play and activity in the peak of the summertime. School’s out and it’s time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. It’s every parent’s challenge to keep kids engaged and busy so you don’t hear the common mantra “I’m bored” until it’s back to school in September.

Who doesn’t love summer? It’s a perfect time to start a “movement movement” (as I describe in my book) and make a pact for the kids and parents to get and keep more active. As I sit here and write I can hear the birds chirping under the clear blue sky. It’s as perfect as any movie set, even better because it’s real.

Let’s reverse the abysmal stat that shows only a small percentage of kids meet the benchmark of one measly hour of activity each day. Given it’s the peak of summer let’s adopt some new behaviours that we’ll work on this season and each one following! It takes a conscious effort to “get your party started” to get and keep moving. However, if everyone in the household does it together each can lift each other out of the “lazy” part of the “lazy hazy crazy days of summer”!

The best place to start is setting a few limits. As much as I’d be tempted to suggest you pop a tube in your TV to get the kids outside, that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Set some limits around the time the kids (young and older) sit in front of any screen – TV, computer, game devises, phones.

Get outside and enjoy free play – throw the ball, ride a bike, play on the swings in the park, jump rope, play tag or hide and seek, run through the sprinkler, hit a tennis ball on the wall, climb a tree, go for a walk, you name it, just let your imagination run wild along with you!

Let the Broken Record Play on – Do What I Do

On the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on being a role model. The stats show that a child is very likely to participate in “unorganized physical activities” at age 4, they are likely to still be participating at 17. Having active parents reinforces that in spades. As a parent you might be very good at wagging your finger and telling the kids what THEY should do. I suggest you stop and take stock of your own activity level, then look in the mirror and do the same to yourself if you indeed are not active.

Light Your Own Fire Within
I blog often about setting goals, re-evaluating your activity level and giving yourself a much needed kick in the back side to vamoose and get moving. I might write it for you, but I certainly do it for myself as well. We all have days we want to just lie around – you know, as the song says “those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”. We need to change lazy to blazing by lighting a fire under ourselves.

Play Together
I have divulged that my parents were active when I was young. We all took part in various activities and sports, including some lifestyle sports. We did our share of playing as a family. The great thing about that is that we can still do some playing together when I fast forward today by taking a walk or playing golf.

Destress Valve
Truly though as life becomes more stressful, I find activity is a proverbial valve that helps it release. I cope better after I get back from a walk then have to face the music of real life. And how great is this time of year to better appreciate the birds singing, the gardens flourishing, the kids playing, the sun shining, fresh air blowing. What’s not to love about this scenario, start and continue.

Stealth Moves
I have written about ways to sneak in stealth activity in my book if you’re going through a super-duper busy time. The key is to find 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, another 15 minutes somewhere else and before you know it, you’ve chocked up a half hour of moving. I’m a bad parker so I routinely park further away – that’s 5 minutes right out of the gate. To work in an extra walk I take my grocery bag under my arm and walk to the store at times. A great dovetail of a few activities at one time. Find some of your own stealth moves and get going to show the kids you are truly a gamer.

Let the Broken Record Play on – Organized Sport
Continuing on the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on signing the kids up for activities. Let’s take stock of the school year that just passed. Were you stretched so far because of all of the obligations that you allowed the kids commit to? Let’s try to take the pressure off.

Family DISFunctioning & Signing Up
Sometimes organized sports can add to an existing DIS organized household. And, many of these cost money to sign up for in addition to the uniforms, shoes, equipment and more. I AM all for sports and teams, don’t get me wrong. But it’s ok as a parent to fallow the field for a season and encourage the kids to enjoy free play. We sometimes get caught up in what other families in our neighbourhood are doing and sign the kids up out of guilt. Free play is a perfect activity. I’m in your corner.

Sporty Spice Through the Ages
If you DO have the time and the means, then go ahead and get the kids into activity programs and/or sports. Consider those that the kids can continue as lifelong activities in addition to the team sports. As an adult it’s not as easy to arrange a volley ball, base ball, soccer, ball hockey game when you need a dozen busy people to get together. If you have the flexibility consider getting your kids involved in tennis, squash, badminton, golf, bike riding, hiking, running, etc. which can be more easily continued through the lifespan.

Life Lessons in Sport
I will divulge that I played competitive tennis when I was a teen. When I reflect on that experience I realize that I learned many worthwhile life lessons. I learned that life isn’t always fair even when you do your best. I learned that some people (including parents) cheat to get ahead. I learned how to lose graciously. I learned more from losing than I did from winning. I was a slow starter on the court and learned how to bear down and take it up a notch right when my opponent thought they had the win in the bag….. I also learned that through life people don’t change all that much – from the sand box to the court to the office cubicle. I’m wiser from the experience and that’s a good thing.

Do it, Do it, Do it ’til You’re Satisfied!
You who know me well by this point know my view on this. Doing something is better than doing nothing so just get started already. Do something you enjoy and encourage the same for your kids. Avoid living your glory days through your kids in sports. You had your childhood and they have theirs and never the two shall meet. Follow their lead and gently encourage their participation in something they can call their own and enjoy.

Let the Broken Record Play on – Rainy Day Play

Continuing on the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on changing plans on a rainy day. Ahh yes just when I blathered on about getting active in the summer a thunder storm blows through! It’s times like these that reminds me how important it is to be flexible with our plans. Nothings carved in stone unless Mother Nature has the chisel.

Rules of Thumb
The first thing to remember on the weather change-up is that in most places it usually doesn’t rain all day, every day. So do try to get out when it’s over. Second thing is to remember that safety comes first, stay inside or ensure you take cover when there’s an electrical storm with thunder and lightning. And finally, rain without thunder storms won’t make you melt if you get sprinkled with rain. Really!

I rather enjoy walking in the rain. I have not melted yet. I have a trusty raincoat with a hood and it travels with me to many places to shelter me from the rain. Your kids won’t melt either and may love splashing in puddles and carrying on.

Board Game Help Ward off Boredom
I know a teacher who divulged that kids who’ve grown up without playing board games have more trouble with simple life skill, such as adding the dots on a couple of dice, for example. On a rainy day drag out some old games, blow the dust off of the boxes and get playing. When you get right down and think about it there’s a social aspect to game playing in addition to the simple counting thing, plus following directions “Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass Go and do not collect $200″. Like Snakes and Ladders we all have to cope in life with slipping on a proverbial banana peel, or a snake that sends you back 15 steps, only to recover in the near future. Yes, a metaphor of life.

If you have the odd rainy day inside, aim to get out when you can then play outside longer tomorrow when the sky clears.

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Clean UP on Aisle 3!

July 13th, 2015 No Comments Tags: ,

Did you read the article that appeared in the Globe & Mail last week about nutrition experts on staff in grocery stores? The writer made a boo boo lumping unregulated nutritionists together with Registered Dietitians while asking the question “…is their advice hurting more than helping?” hmmmm. It sparked a flurry of chatter among my fellow RD nutrition expert compadres. Truth be told, I had a case of indigestion reading it while trying to enjoy my breakfast. I have done my share of pondering, now it’s time to weigh in…

I cannot think of a more brilliant concept than having nutrition experts – Registered Dietitians in the grocery store setting, bravo! It’s the one place where the rubber meets the road to support optimal food choice propping up the health and well being of you and your family. Many times have I spied customers who look bewildered comparing products trying to figure out which choice is better.

I love the Metro “My Healthy Plate” program with a smile-symbol system right on the product shelves denoting what’s good and what’s better of the rows of offerings. It’s a solid scheme based on current scientific criteria mapped out by a team of sharp-minded dietitians. This system takes the guess-work out of grocery shopping by helping you make better food choices in every aisle of the grocery store. All of the nutrition figuring has been done for you, simply grab and go.

I get my knickers in a knot when unregulated nutritionists with healthy sounding titles promote unproven concepts tied to herbals, supplements, high priced organics and gluten free for non-celiacs. It bothers me to think that innocent consumers, especially seniors are being nudged into spending hard earned dollars on products they don’t need. It is THAT type of advice that is hurting more than helping.

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. These days it seems that every second youthful-looking person is starting their own blog and tweeting all sorts of non-sense. Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example. Just because someone eats, bakes, takes a few courses, watches Dr. Oz and surfs the net doesn’t make them an expert of any kind. If something sounds too good to be true, remember… it is. To spot these imposters I wish you could just listen for that quacking sound, but alas it isn’t that simple.

What I have learned over the years is that young bodies can really take a beating when trying seemingly innocuous products. Beware though, because as we age our magical machine can’t hold up quite as well and things eventually start to break down.

Case in point, I heard a story about a woman who tried a cleanse, limiting her to only drink a high-priced, special elixir to help her find her fountain of youth. After a month on this bevy blaster her hair started falling out. That wasn’t exactly the special side effect she was seeking, good grief. That’s what happens when you don’t deliver all the nutrients your body needs consistently – it eventually breaks down. Unfortunately the wisdom of eating a balanced diet and regular food can seem unsexy and highly underrated when indeed this nugget is truly the Holy Grail… The moral of that story – don’t mess with the machine – your bodacious body, as I have written many times and explain in my ebook, Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

Some nutritionists spew all kinds of folksy stuff. Make sure whoever gives you advice can back up what they’re preaching using scientific evidence and NOT the popular press. If someone tells you “…well back on the farm eons ago everyone ate all ..… blah blah blah blah”. I love a good fairy tail too, but in reality the life expectancy back then was much lower than it is now thanks to the advances in modern medicine.

Listen folks, I am now north of 50 and I’m not talking latitude here, but age. I realize how important it is for me to rely on accredited, well-trained professionals to treat my body right. After all, your body IS your temple. If you want to shop around for different shoes or styles, go for it. But when it comes to your health heed the advice of accredited health professional like Registered Dietitians any time you can get it. The years of training, high standards and demands for them to consistently stay in the know to allow them to be registered by an accredited college to protect the public holds them to a higher standard. Isn’t that what you want? Why settle for anything less?

The next time you go to the grocery store make it a point to ask for a session with a Registered Dietitian. I’d like to hear on the overhead speaker “Call the Dietitian for clean up on aisle 3!”; yes clean up the misconceptions on food and nutrition issues that lurk in every aisle…

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Get Your Game Face ON!

July 9th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Construction… check, gridlock…. check, mannequins…. check, torch lit…. check, well those Pan-Am Games are almost upon us…. double check! Come on folks it’s time to stop complaining and make our inner light shine and plan to take it all in.

I love taking in all things sports. I did some pondering about what this means in our lives, hmmmm. Take the flame for instance. It’s a perfect symbol of motivation as it travels over hills and dales, towering snowcapped mountains and cavernous valleys to the host city. Each day that flame is passed represents that internal glow in our own lives to be better, go further, get stronger, don’t you think?

I chuckled when I did my mat routine recently with weights and flexibility exercises in deep contrast to those buff beach volley-ball players’ routines. I bent and stretched to just touch my toes and lifted those weights tightening my core, cause I too can do just a little bit better. How about you?

I won’t be joining a Viking iron woman team any time soon because tortoises don’t qualify. I will however be more mindful of how I can do my body right one baby step at a time. Maybe I’ll sneak out for an extra stroll at lunch in the day; perhaps I’ll forgo those excessive food offerings at special occasions; how about getting down on my mat an extra day or two in the week to tighten my core or make my lunch with the seasonal fare adorning my fridge. Every positive step in the right direction is a good thing.

Some Pan-Am Game food for thought, that’s for sure. Enjoy watching and ensure you take your routine up a few notches from the inspiration garnered by the athletes.

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Follow the Loser – Vacation Tips

July 2nd, 2015 No Comments

Canada Day has come and gone with more vacation days looming as the seasons unfold. Some might think it’s easier to stay on track with eating and activity goals with summer here and bountiful produce is around. Nay, nay I say! I think for many there’s a “party hearty” mood with more opportunities to eat, drink and be merry to the max. If you worked diligently to tone your beach body why not work in ways to stay in shape for the duration.

My good friend and colleague Cara Rosenbloom and I conducted a survey on successful weight losers years ago. We surveyed women who made it from Fat City to Slim Town. These women anonymously spilled a hill of beans on this (and many other topics) on how they approach vacationing. Let’s review some tips of the successful loser Slim Town-ites… enjoy the cornball names!

Eating, moderation and finding balance

“Plan ahead and have some of the things you love, but don’t totally overindulge.” – Pamela Prudence

“I never go to an eating occasion hungry.” – Edith Wise

“Lose the “all or nothing” mentality that comes with vacation eating and drinking ‘amnesia’.” – Debbie Dealmaker

“I make sure I have healthy snacks on hand.” – Nora Nibble

“Balance what you eat. My tip: eat before you go to those meals. The edge is off your appetite so you are less likely to overeat.” – Sandy Satiety

“I eat what I want, but small portions and in moderation. If I overeat, I exercise longer the next day.” – Patty Prioritize

“Maintain food limits 80% of the time and enjoy drinks or desserts 20% of the time.” – Fanny Figure

On activity and exercise

“Keep exercising, even on vacation. If you overindulge one day, eat better the next few days to compensate.” – Jill Jockology

“On holidays, I’m usually more physically active because I’m out of the office.” – Mina Move-It

“Exchange my regular routine with other things like walking on a beach, stretching and spot exercises.” – Chaz Changeup

“I actually like working out when I’m away. It’s a new gym or a new place to run. And I feel extra-proud of myself for having done it! Still, I’ll eat everything (in moderation), because… it’s a vacation!” – Amy Attitude-Adjustment

These women appear to have their routines down pat and priorities figured out – balance and moderation are keys to their success. They do partake in the holiday eating while continuing activity to offset the intake. Very wise words to follow as more vacation days unfold, don’t you think?

Check out Chapter 9 in my ebook Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books with an array of tips and tricks for “Facing Routine Curveballs and Challenges” that everyday life brings.

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