June 23, 2009 [Volume 3, Issue 15]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Eating Light, Eating Right
Rehab the Right Way
Portrait of a Healthy Mom

Eating Light, Eating Right

Even cooks with the most basic skills can take advantage of the wonders of summer foods and prepare delicious, good-for-you meals in just minutes. When you combine a little bit of education with simple preparation, it can be fun to mix and match flavor combinations and natural ingredients to create well-balanced meals with optimal benefits. Here are a few quick examples.

Berries Start the Perfect Summer Day: Berries, together with almonds, make a great topping on all-natural granolas and high-fiber cereals to provide your body the tools it needs for proper digestion. While the granola/cereal supplies the whole grains needed to fuel your body, the fruit is full of antioxidants and fiber. Best of all, this meal can take on entirely new flavors by making the slightest changes, such as strawberries one week and raspberries the next. Berries that are more exotic, such as goji berries and "yumberries," are becoming a healthy trend and easier to find in natural food stores. These are also great mixed when added to your favorite breakfast foods, like whole-grain waffles.

Add Summer Fun to Lunch: There are a few key factors to creating a lunch that incorporates the season's fresh produce. First, focus on healthy fats and omega-3s. These fats, which provide energy and have heart-health benefits, can be found in avocados, olive oil, walnuts and other nuts. There are so many ways to add these simple ingredients to salads and sandwiches. For example, avocado goes great with a turkey sandwich with a slice of fresh tomato, or as a delicious and nutritious salad topper. Speaking of salads, skip the premade dressings and opt for olive oil to bring positive nutrition to your salad. Be sure to also sprinkle a few nuts on top for added protein and crunch.

Taste the Summer Nights: The best way to make any dinner festive is to experiment with seasonal vegetables. Great complements to seasonal vegetables are exotic whole grains and fish. Start with brown rice or quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), which are easy to prepare in a rice cooker and can be flavored with carrots, broccoli, spinach and sunflower seeds. Also try adding Tamari or Bragg; these are great soy-sauce alternatives for seasoning your vegetable dishes. Another dinner favorite is turkey sausage and fresh tomato quarters prepared on the grill and placed on a bed of mixed greens, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

After you learn how to prepare a dish or two, take some time to experiment in the kitchen and come up with your own favorite summer meals. It will make this wonderful season more memorable for you, your family and friends. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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Rehab the Right Way

With the exception of professional athletes, few people know where to turn after suffering an injury that limits their ability to exercise, perform daily activities - or in worse-case scenarios, even move. The rehabilitation process may seem complicated, but it's actually fairly straightforward (depending on the injury) once you know the basics. So, are you ready for a little insight into how to rehab right?

1.Control the pain naturally. To do this, some say use ice; some say use heat. Just remember one thing: If you are exercising and experience pain and swelling afterward, use ice to take the swelling down. If you feel your muscles are too stiff and painful before you start exercising, use a few minutes of heat to warm up the area. Using ice or heat during rehab is a good way to control pain and discomfort.
2.Increase flexibility. Everyone is infatuated with stretching. However, in some cases, it may not be the most important part of your rehab. There are a few things to remember with stretching. Don't try to become the next Olympic gymnast. Overstretching is just as bad as not stretching. Also, it's not just about stretching the areas where you're experiencing problems. It's also about stretching the tight muscles around the area, because the whole area works together.
3.Improve endurance. When we think of rehab, most people think of lifting more weights and getting stronger. However, in some cases, your success in rehab has more to do with doing something at less intensity, but improving your ability to do it over and over again.
4.Regain balance. Regardless of whether you have ankle, knee, or low back pain, or even headaches, balance training is very important. The basic balance progression involves doing things on stable surfaces first and then moving to unstable surfaces.
5.Develop strength. This is probably the most popular goal of all rehab programs. However, make sure you build up your strength while always staying within weight ranges that do not elicit pain. The "no pain, no gain" mentality should be abandoned. Also remember to work on balance and flexibility with strength, not just by itself.
6.Functional training. This just means practicing activities you did every day prior to the injury. For workers, this means practicing how to lift, or even how to sit properly if your job is sedentary. For athletes, this means practicing the movements of your sports.

Keep in mind that these are just guidelines to increase your knowledge of the various elements involved in successful rehab. Which exercises will work for you will depend on the precise injury and a comprehensive screening process by your doctor. Hopefully, you now understand some of the goals of rehabilitation and can better appreciate the steps necessary to get on the road to recovery. Remember, always consult with your doctor whenever you suffer an injury and before beginning any rehabilitation process.

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Portrait of a Healthy Mom

Moms are continuously challenged to treat themselves with the same care and concern they selflessly dedicate to their children, their spouse and countless others. Finding the time is one of the biggest challenges, but it's an absolute necessity for your sake and the sake of your loved ones. Here are four ways to stay healthy - physically and emotionally - in the midst of the chaos:

Make the world your gym. This might sound strange, but it's great advice, especially when you're running around with your head cut off and can't possibly see yourself making it the gym for an hour a day, three or four days a week. At home, you can increase your metabolism (which promotes weight loss) and tone your muscles with simple body-resistance exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats, etc.) in as little as 10-15 minutes a day. If you're with the kids at a park, bring a few cones and set up a sprint course for you (and them) to run. Even riding the swings can be a heart-pumping, muscle-toning activity.

Plan ahead - way ahead. This is a great suggestion in general, but with respect to ensuring proper nutrition for you and your family, it's essential. Why wait until the last minute and end up rushing to prepare breakfast, get lunches ready or whip up dinner after work? To combat this all-too-common trend, plan weekly meals. On the weekends, shop for the week, paying particular attention to purchasing a variety of healthy, easy-to-prepare foods you can turn into quick meals. Anything that can be prepared beforehand and/or in large quantities is perfect - leftovers are a great way to ensure good meals during the hectic week.

Give yourself a break. Sometimes finding time to do nothing is just as important as finding time to exercise, eat right or do something. Just because you've finally found an "extra" 20 minutes in your day doesn't necessarily mean you've got to fill it with an activity. Taking a few moments to unwind, de-stress and get away from it all can do wonders. If the kids are asleep or otherwise occupied, kick off your shoes and relax in your favorite chair with soft music and aromatherapy (or complete silence, if that's possible); if the house is still bustling, a casual walk around the block can be just as freeing.

Put yourself on your list of priorities. One of the very qualities that makes moms so special - selflessness - can also be their downfall. To avoid this, make sure you're on your priority list (and not at the bottom); this doesn't mean being selfish or putting yourself ahead of your children or your other responsibilities; it's really about identifying when you need your time - and then taking it without feeling guilty. If you're convinced that sacrificing your own health and wellness to ensure the same for your children is acceptable, think of it this way: By giving to yourself, you'll be giving to them, too.

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