6 Strategies for Staying on Track Over Vacation

6 Strategies for Staying on Track Over Vacation

For many this time of year is a time to escape! A time to get away, explore, celebrate or otherwise enjoy themselves! And rightfully so! You should give yourself a break every now and again, and you should celebrate your health and fitness victories – but we want to give you the tools to preserve your hard work and help you get back on track upon returning!

1. Prep Meals Before You Leave

So much planning and preparing goes towards leaving town or the trip itself, but what about when you return? You will no doubt come back to a pile of work, laundry, shifted appointments, and/or approaching deadlines – set yourself up for success by freezing meals you can easily reheat when you get back! Soups generally work great for this!

2. Reasonable Expectations

Set small, achievable workout expectations during your vacation. Don’t expect to workout at the same intensity we do here every day while you are away, but plan ahead! Will you have access to a workout facility? You can easily do a total body workout with calisthenics and/or resistance tubes. Remember: even 20% of your normal workout load will make returning significantly less difficult and will help preserve the habit!

3. Pack Food

This is one of the most valuable skills to develop for those day or weekend trips! Find ready-to-eat foods that are healthy and appetizing to bring with you so you don’t end up at a fast food joint! Salads travel really well if you keep the dressing on the side, nuts and seeds are great go-to’s, and dried fruit or meat can be life-savers – but remember to check the labels for added sugars!

4. Imbibe Intelligently

Drink smart! Trade beer for wine or simple cocktails. Even tonic water is very high in sugar – it’s practically just coca-cola! Go for Seltzer/Club Soda instead and squeeze some citrus in there. Avoid pre-mixed as those are almost guaranteed to be sky-high in added sugar! Now the last tip here, and this is the big one: One glass of water before each drink will greatly cut down your overall intake as well as the impending hangover 😉

5. Don’t Punish Yourself

You are on vacation! Enjoy your favorite dinner or dessert – just moderate your indulgences! Plan for a healthy, trim breakfast and lunch if you’ll be dining decadently in the evening. Just don’t feel guilty about it.

6. Ease Back Into Your Routine

Upon returning? Go about 80% instead of 100% in sessions on your first week back, and FOAM ROLL/STRETCH! Your body will thank you and you will probably be ready to ramp it back up to normal intensity the following week if you take this approach.

Shocking Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Domestic Abuse

This week we have a more serious tone in light of our Victory Over Violence event coming up this Saturday, March 24th. Every year we invite our members and communities to join us for a benefit event with the aiming of “knocking out” domestic abuse – raising funds for local support outlets. This is something that literally anyone can do; find a space, start a fun engaging event, and give your community a reason to care and a reason to support victims of domestic abuse!

Although there are some stereotypical views of what domestic violence looks like, it has no single face. It could be your neighbor, friend, relative, or that person you just passed on the street.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes not just physical or sexual violence, but also threats or emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically of course, but ultimately if you live in a state of fear of your intimate partner we’re encouraging you to seek help!

Please, if you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for totally confidential support.

The Sobering Facts

• Nearly 1 in 5 women have been a victim of sexual assault at some point in their life. Link

• It is estimated that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime!

• The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk for homicide by 500%.

• 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

• A child witnessed violence in 22% of the intimate partner violence cases in state courts.

• Facebook reported that 45% of users in the U.S. had at least one friend who had posted #MeToo on their timeline with only a few days of the movement! Link

Here’s a story that is all too common:
In January of this year Sara Schmidt of Appleton, WI (Town of Harrison) was murdered outside of her home by her husband, leaving behind 3 children. She had filed for divorce after her husband was arrested for domestic violence, but he had been released on bail. She had, by all accounts, done everything right in trying to stay safe. Schmidt was the second woman killed in a domestic violence incident in just four months in the Fox Cities.

– This is part of why so many people who are victims of domestic violence are afraid to take action, so we MUST find a way to give them better support – to open the path for them without putting them at further risk.

Warning Signs of an Abuser

Intimate partner violence alone affects more than 12 million people per year. Red flags and warning signs of an abuser are important to recognize and include things like:
• extreme jealousy • possessiveness • unpredictability • bad temper • cruelty to animals • verbal abuse • controlling behavior • antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships • controls the finances • Sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school

Watch for red flags. If you feel you, or someone you know may be in trouble, please reach out confidentially! Again the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

There is help out there, and there are people who care about your well-being. Please seek support if you are reading this knowing that you are a victim, and if you are not? Please take some sort of action to support those who are.

If Not Sugar, Then What??

Last week we talked about some of the harmful effects of added sugar. BUT, if you are going to have sugar, which kind is the right choice? This week we’ll look at honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar, raw vs white sugar, and even stevia. We have to realize there isn’t a simple answer when it comes to added sugars/sweeteners. Added sugars is where the clear majority of health issues lie. Watch your labels and start playing sugar detective to know what you are eating!

Honey

Honey contains a few more calories than table sugar but unlike stevia or table sugar, it contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making honey more like a food than a sugar. Unfortunately, most non-raw honey has been filtered, heated/pasteurized and processed thereby negating many of the health benefits in an attempt to prevent crystallization once on a store shelf.
(Caution: If you are allergic to bees, raw honey could potentially cause reactions!)

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar (not to be confused with palm sugar) is made from the sap of coconut trees and is less processed because the sap is extracted and then placed in heat to dry. It has a couple minerals and antioxidants and a lower glycemic index than table sugar thanks to inulin (a type of fiber). Coconut sugar contains the same number of calories as table sugar, but the amount of nutrients is negligible unless large quantities are consumed so it should really not be consumed for its “nutrition” – it is still ultimately added sugar.

Raw Cane Sugar

Raw cane sugar (also called turbinado sugar) is extracted from the sugarcane plant and not refined. Although in large amounts, no sugar is “good”, raw sugar would be a better alternative than white table sugar since it retains some minerals. Raw sugar includes unrefined cane juice or powder (Sucanat and Rapadura) and date sugar.

Beware: White sugar can be labelled in disguise as refined or dried cane juice and refined cane sugar!

Stevia

While all of our article has been designated to explaining different types of sugar, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a natural sweetener that appears to be in good standing. Stevia is a sugar-free and calorie-free South African herb made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has a glycemic index of zero so it doesn’t raise blood sugar. It appears stevia COULD be your best choice for a sweetener without the additional calories of local honey, etc BUT be careful of overly processed stevia products as in general the word “processed” often means “processed with chemicals”.

Also, be aware of overuse as it can cause you to develop more of a taste for sweets. According to Livestrong.com “crude stevia extracts and whole-leaf stevia are not approved, the Mayo Clinic notes, because there are concerns about their effects on the kidneys, cardiovascular system and blood glucose levels.”

In summary, granulated white sugar/table sugar is the most chemically processed and refined of sugars. Brown sugar is just white sugar with added molasses, thus containing even more calories and sweetness. Choosing artificial sweeteners vs a “better” sugar is a choice you have to make based on the information available to you. There is no simple answer it seems. Our advice? Watch your labels, know your sugars, and choose what is best for you while exercising moderation!

The Devil in the Details…Sugar!

Sugar inside the body – blood sugar – is a sticky substance that coats the red blood cells. If left in the bloodstream (instead of being burned as energy) the particles will start to stick to the cells, interfering with blood circulation and oxygen exchange! Research has even shown that white blood cells are less efficient at fighting illness when exposed to sugar. Be careful of added sugars in your diet, especially if you feel an illness coming on!

One thing to think about here is the difference between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates come from vegetables and whole grain sources and break down more slowly, releasing glucose into the bloodstream more steadily instead of creating a spike in blood sugar. Read more about glycemic index here at nih.gov

WARNING: Sugars Hiding On The Label!

Did you know there are 56 different names for sugar?? Watch your labels and look for sneaky sugar words like dextrose, sucrose, sorbitol, rice syrup, and so many more! Read the full list here!

You also have to be aware of “healthy” sounding sugars like Agave. Agave is made by treating agave plant sugars with heat and enzymes which leads to a highly refined end product still heavily loaded with calories and still…sugar! Even raw, unfiltered, organic, locally produced honey which certainly has some positive properties and benefits is still ultimately sugar – so stay sharp if fat loss is your goal!

Added Sugars can lead to Excess Weight. Why? Sugar in the blood that goes unused completely ends up being stored as fat. Too much fat in the body can lead to obesity, and obesity is known to trigger diabetes and heart disease, among other common diseases.

Diabetes is not directly caused by too much added sugar but excess weight raises the risk for diabetes. Once a person has diabetes, added sugar can make it worse since your body becomes less efficient at regulating blood sugar (glucose) due to spikes and drops in insulin. Worse yet due to the disrupted blood circulation, diabetes can cause high blood pressure and ultimately heart attack, stroke, eye conditions, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

When we eat too much sugar, the process called glycation can occur. When this happens, some of the sugar we consume sticks to the proteins in our body, causing our body tissues to lose their elasticity. It is not just our skin that is affected, but also our internal organs. The faster that the body loses its elasticity, the faster aging occurs!

Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and other white flour products tend to be very high in sugar and will cause an inflammation of the skin. Additionally, when we eat too much sugar, the process called glycation can occur. When this happens some of the sugar we consume sticks to the proteins in our body, causing our body tissues to lose their elasticity. It is not just our skin that is affected, but also our internal organs. The faster that the body loses its elasticity, the faster aging occurs! Skip the added sugar and age gracefully!

CSA – Do You Get It??

It’s come to our attention that many people are still unsure what a CSA is and why they are such a great thing to be a part of! So…what is it?

Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Shares typically consist of a box of produce, but other farm products may also be included like jams, baked goods, eggs, soaps, herbs, and more! Many farmers will team up with other local farmers or businesses to provide the largest selection of fruit, vegetables, animal, and/or dairy products they can.

Now is the time to get signed up! Typically farmers take a survey from their pledged consumers before the planting season so they can be sure to provide as much of the things you want as they can. Let your voice be heard by signing up before seeds are in the ground!

How does it all start?

Interested consumers purchase a share/membership and in return receive a box, bag or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Although half shares are available, a full share will range somewhere between $400-$700 per season for weekly deliveries often from June through late fall. Not bad at all if you compared the same amount of produce with your grocery store, and you get MUCH fresher and generally more sustainably produced food!

Feel good about your place in the food chain!

With a very large amount of produce in supermarkets being trucked and/or shipped in from other regions or countries, a great deal of farmers have turned to monoculture (growing one crop in massive quantities) in order to turn a profit. You can help keep traditional farming alive and provide a reliable income for small farmers by sharing in a CSA program!

CSAs provide the freshest of local produce and sometimes the opportunity to try produce that you may never have known existed! That is super exciting for those bored with the same old selection at the store. Many CSA farms have a couple of events throughout the season which allow its members to visit the farm and see where their food comes from! Some farmers also provide newsletters/communications sharing with their members ways of preparing the vegetables they received and different recipes to utilize their weekly bounty.

It sounds great! What’s the catch?

Well as we all know, growing anything outdoors poses potential problems due to weather, pests, and other conditions beyond our control. Every year farmers take the same risk and, although they take preventive measures to prevent as much loss as possible, sometimes full crops can get destroyed. But turn this around in your head; CSAs provide the chance for the community to support the farmers and share in that risk! Understand that sometimes you may get less of your favorite crop or it may be less than perfect, but on the flip side when crops are abundant you can find yourself with more produce than you ever could have expected! This usually makes you the favorite neighbor on the block when you have to offload extra produce or share a dish you made extra of!

Check out the local CSA options at www.localharvest.org and search based on your city or zip code.