Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

How to Make Resolutions That Really Stick

At the start of every new year, people feel inspired to make changes in their lives. For some, it may be a smoking habit they want to kick; for others, weight loss may be at the top of their list. Maybe you want to use the new year to motivate yourself to start that business you’ve been dreaming of or perhaps your goal is to spend more time with family. Regardless of what personal or professional change you are aiming for, how you go about setting your goals and measuring your milestones can have everything to do with how likely you are to succeed. Read on for tips on how to stick with your resolutions this year.

  1. Be Realistic: Maybe your doctor has told you to lose weight or perhaps you’d rather give healthy eating and exercise a shot before committing to a lifetime of prescription drugs to manage high blood pressure or cholesterol. The key to any big lifestyle change is to make it doable. If you never work out, pledging to hit the gym 6 days a week is an unrealistic goal. Instead, commit to going to the gym 3 times a week, and then add in a long bike ride or walk on your “off” days. Try out a class you’ve never taken before, you just might find you enjoy it. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure it is mainly activities that you enjoy, or you won’t be excited to do them. This same logic applies to eating healthier—don’t go cold turkey on all of your favorite foods at once. You will feel deprived and will be more likely to binge. Start by having oatmeal for breakfast 3 times a week, a salad for lunch 3 times a week and meatless meals a few times a week. Cut back on your portion sizes and you can still enjoy the foods you love. As your new lifestyle becomes a habit, add in more healthy meals or longer or harder workouts.
  2. Hold Yourself Accountable: Find a friend who has the same resolution as you. When your alarm goes off early on a cold winter morning, the last thing you want to do is get out of bed to workout. If you know someone is going to be counting on you to meet them at the gym or in the neighborhood for a walk, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Online support groups are everywhere and can offer encouragement and a place to ask questions and raise concerns as you work through whatever personal journey you are on towards a better you.
  3. Reward Yourself: Celebrate your successes, no matter how small! If you made it to the gym a few times this week, reward yourself with positive thoughts and encouragement. Non-food rewards make sense when you are trying to be healthier or lose weight. When you lose 20 lbs you might treat yourself to a new workout outfit or pair of running shoes. If you’ve made healthy food swaps for a few weeks and are shedding a some pounds, have friends over to showcase your healthy cooking or reward yourself with a new cookbook or magazine subscription to Cooking Light. Equally important to rewarding yourself is forgiving yourself when you slip up. It is unrealistic (there’s that word again!) to think that you will exercise or eat healthy or give up smoking without any lapses in behavior. The key is to acknowledge that you’ve experienced a setback (notice I didn’t say failed!) and that it isn’t helping you get to where you want to be as a person. Try to figure out what triggered the lapse and plan for how you can deal with it differently in the future. Stressful day at work? Take a walk as soon as you get home or hit the gym on the way home to relieve stress instead of having a cigarette or binging on junk food. Planning ahead for bad days is key, and sometimes just accepting that you really want that chocolate ice cream but will only have a small scoop is ok too!

Fresh Start

New Year's Resolutions written on a note pad.

Regardless of whether you are sad or relieved to see 2016 go, the New Year is nearly upon us. And after a month and a half of over indulging and skipping workouts due to a jam-packed social calendar, January offers a great time to slow down and regroup. Making resolutions is a tradition that many people embrace as a way to kickstart healthy habits or accomplish goals they’ve lost sight of. Resolutions can either be an effective tool for positive self-change or something you later beat yourself up about. Make your resolutions stick this year by following these helpful suggestions:

  • Set realistic goals and timelines. You didn’t develop your bad habits overnight and it is unrealistic to assume you can break yourself of them in the course of a few weeks. Persistence and patience are necessary to succeed.
  • Find an accountability partner. Whether it’s your spouse, best friend or just someone from the gym who’s also looking to drop a few pounds, having someone to share your struggles and successes with can help keep you on track.
  • Don’t let a slip up or setback completely derail your progress. You are human and will make mistakes. The best thing you can do is to learn from them and move on with more knowledge and willpower. Try to identify any triggers—a stressful day at work, a busy schedule with little time to cook healthy meals or exercise—and come up with a game plan to overcome these obstacles. Maybe you have to prep your meals or make and freeze them on the weekends, or you have to fit in two shorter workouts a day (15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening) instead of one longer workout. Be flexible and creative when it comes to reaching your goals and you will be successful!

Thanksgiving Day, the Healthy Way

Homemade Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner with Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Corn

People often use the holidays as an excuse to overindulge. Holiday travel and stress can take a toll on your emotional reserves and leave little willpower left to make healthy choices at the table. It is possible to survive Turkey Day without the excess though, and making a conscious effort to start the holiday season off with healthy choices can leave you lighter and with less regret come the New Year.

It may not seem like it can make a difference, but small tweaks to your recipes can really add up. Try cutting the sugar in your sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie recipe in half—you really won’t notice the difference. Season your food with fresh herbs and spices and olive oil, which are all heart-healthy choices, instead of butter and salt and sugar. Help yourself to the turkey and veggies and serve yourself smaller portions of the buttery, starchy and fatty sides. There will be leftovers, so eat in moderation and then enjoy your favorites again the next day, in moderation!

Build a little extra movement into your day. Get up early and go for a run, walk or bike ride. After your big meal, toss a football around in the yard or shoot some hoops with the kids. Research has even found that exercising after a high fat meal can help lower triglyceride levels. Every little bit counts!

Stay Active as you Age for Better Health

Senior Couple Walking Through Autumn Woodland

Too many seniors are sedentary, and it is translating into a lower quality of life as they age. The National Institute on Aging at NIH celebrates September as Go4Life® month in an effort to increase awareness of the benefits of exercise and physical activity. Exercise has many health benefits—it can improve mood and memory, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce your risk for cancer and diabetes, stave off weight gain, improve balance and flexibility—which can help older adults live more full and independent lives.

Go4Life® month encourages older Americans to get moving for better health. The focus should be on incorporating the four types of exercise—strength, endurance, flexibility and balance—into your routine for well-rounded physical fitness. For ideas on what type of activities to incorporate into your daily routine, visit the Go4Life® website.

Whether you are new to exercise, getting back into it after a long break or injury, or a lifelong fitness devotee, incorporating a variety of activities and exercises into your routine will help prevent boredom and make sure you are building a strong foundation for healthy aging.

The National Aging Institute’s Web site ( is an institute of the NIH, a U.S. Federal Government agency that provides accurate, up-to-date information about aspects of aging research, information about clinical trials, educational materials and resources about aging for the general public, and information for researchers and health professionals.


Where Are You With Your Resolutions?

Senior African American Woman Exercising In Park

Remember oh so long ago on January 1st when you set a number of resolutions for yourself for the New Year? Well here it is, the end of February—the perfect time to re-visit whether or not your resolutions are working for or against you. Why did I phrase it like that? Because if your goal was to work out more or lose weight, and you’ve yet to do either 2 months into the New Year, then something isn’t working. Maybe you started out with determination and resolve but after a few weeks lost your motivation. Or maybe you gave up after just one or two half-hearted attempts to make it to the gym. Perhaps a nasty cold or the flu derailed you for a week and you never got back to your healthier habits. Regardless of how it happened, now is a great time to start over or re-double your efforts. Grab a friend or family member with similar goals and hold each other accountable. With Spring (and warmer temperatures and longer days!) right around the corner, it is a lot easier to commit to nightly walks after dinner or a bike ride a few times a week. The supermarkets start to fill up with delicious fruits and vegetables at more affordable prices this time of year. Spring is a time for new growth in nature, so use that as a motivator for your own personal growth.

Finding out exactly why you weren’t able to stick to your resolutions is key to success the second time around. Perhaps you set impossible goals for yourself or your goals weren’t specific enough. It is easier to stick to a plan that doesn’t call for a complete overhaul of your life all at one time. If you don’t work out at all, setting a goal to work out for an hour a day might be a stretch. Start slowly by incorporating three 30 minute physical activities (that you enjoy!) into your week and ramp up as that becomes routine. If your diet needs tweaking, swap out a healthy breakfast or dinner three days a week rather than forbidding all of the food you enjoy. The feeling of accomplishment you get from achieving these smaller goals will spur you towards your ultimate goal and keep you motivated to make more healthy changes along the way!

January Newsletter: Happy New Year’s From Home Care Plus


Our January newsletter has great tips on how to make and keep your resolutions, healthy meal substitutions, and why you should consider hiring a trustworthy, dependable caregiver to help you balance your family caregiving needs this year. Click here to read our January newsletter!

Diabetes and The Holidays

diabetes block letters in crossword and spoon over sugar pile isolated on grainy white sugar texture in sweet food abuse and healh risk of sweet nutrition abuse

Living with Diabetes: Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth

Halloween is just the first of many “treat” laden holidays coming up in the next few months. Keeping desserts in check this time of year can be difficult for even the strongest willed among us—but for anyone living with diabetes it can be downright dangerous not too. The key to staying healthy and not feeling deprived as we head into the holidays? Set your intention now and keep a few diabetes-friendly dessert recipes in your back pocket!

One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself doesn’t even relate to food. Sticking with your normal workout routine (or even starting a new one) will keep your weight and stress level balanced when the holiday craziness sets in. Jump at the chance to bring a dessert to your family gatherings so you have control over the ingredients. Cooking Light has some great options for diabetics to satisfy that sweet tooth while keeping your blood sugar in check. Unsweetened cocoa stirred into unsweetened vanilla almond milk, roasted apples with cinnamon and nutmeg or berries with plain yogurt are just a few healthy dessert options that still feel decadent. Don’t let your weight “spook” you come the New Year; make better decisions today to keep it from haunting you tomorrow!

Take Charge of Your Health!

Action portrait of elderly women jogging together outdoors.

Action portrait of elderly women jogging together outdoors.

Do you know what BMI means? How about how many hours of physical activity you should participate in each week? Any idea what the appropriate serving size is for meals? While the answers to these questions are only part of what it means to be healthy, they are critical to your ability to take charge of your health. Many chronic conditions that older Americans suffer from can actually be managed or prevented by making small, healthy lifestyle changes.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is a tool you can use to determine if your weight is generally regarded as healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having a BMI of 25-29.9 puts you in the overweight category, and a BMI over 30 means you are obese. Waist circumference is another indicator of overall health, as excess abdominal fat can put you at increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.

What is the best way to attack those extra pounds? Exercising and eating healthier are two of the most important changes you can make when it comes to controlling your health. Exercise does not have to mean putting in hours at the gym or running or doing any activity you aren’t really keen to do. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick with it, so choose things that make you happy. Meet with a friend and walk on your lunch break, ride your bike at the beach, take up a new interest such as yoga or spinning or barre class. Keep trying new things until you find something you truly enjoy and you won’t have any problem making time for it in your everyday life. As a rule of thumb, older adults need 2.5 hours of moderate activity and full-body muscle strengthening 2 days a week. There are 168 hours in a week, so these recommendations are completely doable! Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Visit the CDC’s website for more information on incorporating a healthy balance of exercise and strength training into your life.

Now on to portion sizes. Most Americans would be shocked to know what their actual recommended serving sizes and daily caloric needs are. To test your knowledge, take this Portion Distortion quiz courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Not only does it discuss portion sizes but also how much exercise you would have to do to burn the extra calories! A really easy trick for cutting hundreds of potential calories a day is to stick with water, black coffee or unsweetened tea. If your goal is to lose weight, cutting out sugary beverages (including juice! eat the whole fruit which has fiber and other nutrients that juice lacks!) can make a big dent in your daily caloric intake.

Start by making small changes to your daily routine and add (exercise, new vegetable) or subtract (fast food, Starbucks’ sugar-laden drink) something new each week. You will feel less deprived if you aren’t overhauling your entire life all at once and will be more likely to make lasting changes you can live with. Here’s to a healthier future!



New Year, Same You–Only Better

Composite image of this year i am going to

If you’re like most people, you spent the holidays overindulging and are looking ahead to the New Year as a chance to return to (or perhaps begin) healthy habits. Having a game plan going into the New Year can help you hit the ground running—pun intended—so read on for tips to make lasting changes that you’ll be celebrating come next New Year’s Eve.

While the symbolic meaning of starting over as a new year begins can be motivating, this time of year also presents its own challenges that can hinder even the most resolute among us. If you aspire to workout more, make a plan for those days when the weather isn’t cooperating. Too cold temperatures or rain can make it easy to forego your daily run or walk, so have a few dvds on hand or YouTube a free circuit workout and forget your excuses. Most gyms offer great pricing specials to reel in new members, so consider joining one (preferably with a friend and a location on the way to or from work) if you haven’t had success with previous attempts with at-home workouts.  Colds, the flu and other nasty viruses can also derail your plans to eat healthy and workout. One of the most important things to remember about setting goals is to accept that you will not be perfect 100% of the time. Acknowledging there will be slip-ups and challenges along the way will keep you from throwing in the towel when your resolutions have to take a backseat for a few days. So you can’t cook at home or workout as much as you’d like because of family or work obligations or because you are nursing an illness. Just do the best you can—only eat half of your entrée at dinner, do squats and lunges for 5 minutes before bed, or be ok with going for a bike ride instead of your favorite spin class.

The best resolutions are specific and realistic. Don’t just say you want to lose weight or eat healthier. Aim to lose 5 lbs each month for the next 6 months, set a workout goal of 3 times a week (2 cardio sessions and one weight training) or cook at home and bring leftovers to work 4 days a week. Tell everyone you know about your goals so they can help hold you accountable. Even better, start a weight loss challenge at work or form a running group to train for a 5k. Knowing people are counting on you (or competing against you!) can be a terrific motivator.

Lastly, consider bringing in a professional. A personal trainer can help you develop challenging workouts you love and has the benefit of built-in accountability. A professional organizer can help you declutter your closets and de-stress your life. Cooking classes can teach you how to prepare healthier home-cooked meals. A doctor may be able to help you kick your cigarette habit. You get the idea.

Make this the year you stick to your resolutions. Do something different from what you’ve done in the past if it hasn’t worked for you. And don’t give up!

Healthy Living and Successful Aging

Article Courtesy of the National Care Planning Council

The United States is experiencing a remarkable increase in the number of people who live to an old age. Our older population (people 65 years or older) numbered nearly 40 million in 2009 (latest year of available data). These folks represent one in every eight Americans, or 13% of the population. By 2030, it is projected that the U.S will be home to more than 72 million people age 65 and older.

This astonishing increase is largely a result of medical and health care advancements that simply allow people to live longer. Currently, the average life expectancy of an American is about 80 years old (nearly double that of our ancestors).

Health is Wealth 

Living a long life is a goal most of us have in common. Ensuring that we spend the latter years of our life feeling healthy and happy should be an important part of that goal.

Health is indeed wealth, especially as we age. Embracing a healthy lifestyle and making health our number one priority will bring invaluable wealth to us as we age.

Although growing older is inevitable, there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs have and will extend our longevity, but how we decide to live our senior years will be crucial. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships, following safety tips, and making adequate preparations to fund our retirement and long term care can help us make the most of our so-called ‘golden years.’

Below are suggestions for healthy living that will help each of us age successfully.

Stay Connected and Productive 

One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy and happy as you age is to maintain your sense of purpose by staying productive and connected to people and things that are important to you. Spend quality time with at least one person (a family member, friend or neighbor) every day. Seek out those who uplift and challenge you. Avoid secluding yourself.

You can also fill your days rendering service to others who are not as fortunate as you. Giving time for a cause beyond yourself brings with it a sense of purpose you can’t achieve anywhere else. Your wealth of wisdom and experience will continue to grow as you reach out to others.

Activities that can help you remain connected and productive include: gardening, cooking, knitting, volunteering at a library or hospital, helping neighbors, visiting museums, traveling, playing cards or games, joining a senior center, starting a book club, taking a class, attending church, or learning and using a social media like Facebook.

Finally, challenge yourself mentally. Reading books or newspapers, doing crossword puzzles, drawing or painting, writing, studying, or learning to play a musical instrument are effective and fun ways to keep your mind sharp.

Collect and Write Family Histories 

Those who pursue the gathering and writing of personal and family histories are always rewarded. As one of the older people in your extended family, you likely hold memories of people, places, and events that might be lost forever upon your passing. In this case, you are the family history. Don’t let it be lost to future generations. Take the time to preserve your heritage by writing these memories down.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a significant part of good health at every age. Unfortunately, many older adults do not get enough physical activity and exercise. Staying active can improve vitality, help maintain strength and flexibility, expand mental function, decrease risk for health problems, and may even help relieve chronic pain.

Find an activity you enjoy then ease into it at a pace and consistency your body can handle. Try to include a variety of endurance, strength, stretching, and balance exercises in your routine. Exercise choices may include yoga, walking, swimming, biking, gardening, and exercises classes designed for seniors. The key to successful exercising is variety.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

Prepare Financially 

For some, successful aging equates to financial responsibility, making sure that they have the right Medicare health plan, long term care insurance coverage and enough money to cover the costs of health care in retirement.

As soon as you have a job and a steady income, begin to plan frugally for retirement and the decades which follow. Planning early will help you to avoid unnecessary debt and live more comfortably during your final years. Use caution in cosigning financial notes (even with family members) when retirement income might be jeopardized. As you near retirement, be even more cautious about “get-rich” schemes, mortgaging homes, or investing in uncertain ventures. In all financial aspects, proceed cautiously so that the planning of a lifetime is not disrupted by one or more poor financial decisions.

The National Care Planning Council provides lists of eldercare planning services to help the public prepare for the years following retirement. The list includes care management services, financial advisers, elder attorneys, reverse mortgage specialists, advocates for veterans, home care services, and other types of eldercare providers.

Have a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle 

Don’t smoke, eat right, and practice good hygiene. We’ve all heard these tips before, but we repeat them so often because they are crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Eating right should include consuming nutrition-packed meals every day. Extra weight from poor diet choices increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Staying healthy also has the very practical impact of reducing out-of-pocket health care costs. A healthy person spends far less time at the pharmacy, the doctor’s office, and even the hospital.

Prevent Injuries from Falling 

Falling is one of the most common causes of injury among seniors. Simple home modifications, the use of assistive devices, wearing sensible footwear, and removing hazards can reduce the risk of falling and the injuries that come with it.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly 

About 80 percent of seniors are living with a chronic condition. Many chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, can often be prevented.

Visit your health care provider regularly and follow their recommendations for screening and preventative measures. Screenings are particularly helpful as they serve as an early warning system. Much of the illness and disability associated with aging can be prevented (or slowed down) when you have the benefit of early detection. Regular dental, vision and hearing checkups should also be taken into consideration.

One of the most common conditions affecting older men is enlargement of the prostate gland, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Among aging women, a loss of bone density (osteoporosis) is a particular concern.

Many people age 70 and older seek the care of a geriatric physician, also called a geriatrician. Geriatric physicians are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and disability in older adults.


Growing older is inevitable, but there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs have and will extend our longevity, but how we decide to live as we age is crucial. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships, being productive, taking safety precautions, visiting our health care providers often, and making adequate preparations to fund our retirement and long term care can help us make the most of our senior years.

For more information on aging issues, visit the National Care Planning Council’s website at