Saturday, February 18, 2012

Water, Water Everywhere!

Toilets were flushing around the county during week one of the Healthy Heart Challenge!

Employees from a number of participating Mesa County businesses were downing eight glasses of water (or 64 ounces) a day as a first step in becoming healthier. It takes awhile for your body to adapt to that level of fluid intake, especially if you were dehydrated before. (Most Americans are, and the caffeine in coffee and soda pop is a big contributor!)

With the exception of those folks who drink water on a regular basis as they religiously tote their water bottles with them throughout the day, the newbies commented that this would be daunting.

There were those few who confused an 8 oz glass with a tumbler ( 8 ounces really isn't that much!). Others complained about the lack of taste, and some wondered how they would find the time.

But the advice to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water a day has been around for ages, so it must have been a common practice at some point!

I'm well past 60, and I've heard it eversince I was a kid.

But then I think back to the way life was ~ simpler, slower, and there were fewer choices. I remember spending a few weeks each summer at my grandma's house in Kentucky. The water came out of a well, and in the heat of the summer, a dipper full of water was a welcome thirst quencher. People weren't rushing about, although there was plenty of work to do.

When Kool-aid came on the scene, we downed lots it, along with all the sugar the mix called for. It was cheap, it was sweet, and we loved it. What better foray into the pricier world of soda pop? By that time, water was the last drink of choice. Milk was served with breakfast and dinner ~ Kool-aid came with lunch, and soda pop was for parties and weekend TV viewing, and of course, any trip to the movie theater.

Somewhere back there, water lost its rightful place as an underpinning for good health. It's tough to figure since we are fortunate enough to have the cheapest, best water in the world!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heart Challenge Can Improve Food Choices

The Healthy Heart Challenge starts in our community this coming week!

It’s not focused on weight loss, although that will most likely be a side benefit for a lot of participants. Rather, its focus is behavior change as the underpinnings of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

For six weeks, those who take part will tackle a different goal each week. They include drinking eight glasses of water a day; eating an apple a day; a 10-minute walk daily; getting at least seven hours of sleep a night; stopping to stretch once every work hour; and doing one act of kindness a day.

The idea is that after six weeks of making some small changes, there should be some noticeable improvements in overall health, along with enough incentive to continue in that direction.

The apple is the main food player featured in the challenge line-up, but if you’re eating an apple a day, all those wonderful nutrients that make up an apple are recalibrating your body chemistry. We’re not talking major upheaval, but just enough of a shift to alter your cravings for stuff that’s not so good for you.

Drinking water contributes to that, as well, because it’s helping to remove toxins from your system and keep you hydrated. (Many people mistake hunger cravings for dehydration; and most people are dehydrated! Drinking sodas doesn’t count because the caffeine in them actually acts as a diuretic.)

The stress-reducing aspects of stretching and walking also make a difference if you are an emotional eater. (That’s most of us, given the right circumstance!) Just backing off from whatever task you’re in a dead-heat to complete can totally reframe what your food choices might be. (If I’m relaxed, an apple will be a much more likely choice as a snack. If I’m not, then I’m more likely to search for salt and vinegar potato chips!)

Enough sleep figures in because those who tend to overeat often aren’t getting enough sleep. If you go to bed at a reasonable hour, then there’s less temptation to go to the refrigerator so you can snack as you watch TV.)

Finally, making it a point to do something kind for someone else expands the heart. We know that’s true in a spiritual sense, but research is showing that our hearts are more than just pumps. Our emotions literally make chemical deposits on a regular basis, and nothing affects our emotions more than our interactions with each other. Positive interactions make us feel more connected, and that craving is stronger than any food craving!