Ten Tips for Getting Back into an Exercise Routine

Ten Tips for Getting Back into an Exercise Routine

Kara Steele, Health Stewardship Coach

Now that the kids are headed back to school, it's a perfect time to get back on track with your exercise routine!  Here are ten tips to help you achieve success:

1. Plan Ahead

Schedule your exercise sessions as you would any other commitment on your calendar. Pack your gym bag the night before and get a good night's sleep so you are ready to go in the morning!

2. Exercise in the morning

Research has shown that those who exercise in the morning are morel likely to stick to their routine than people who work out later. Unexpected distractions are bound to happen, so get your workout in early!

3. Vary your activities to avoid boredom

Find several different workouts that you enjoy, and change it up frequently!  This keeps your body guessing and prevents you from feeling like you're stuck in a rut.

4. Make exercise convenient

Pick a gym close to where you work or live.  Use your lunch break to squeeze in some activity. Have a back-up plan for when things don't go as expected.

5. Don't try to do too much too soon!

Soreness, exhaustion and injuries will all limit your progress. Set attainable goals so that you don't burn out. 

6. Use technology to help you stay on track

Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker to keep you motivated; post goals or pictures of progress on social media. 

7. Make an exercise "date" with a friend or family member

Working out with a partner will keep you accountable and less likely to skip if something comes up!

8. Join a team!

Adult leagues are a great way to get fit and be social at the same time!

9. Turn chores into a workout

Raking leaves, cleaning out the garage and scrubbing the shower all count as exercise!

10. Don't focus on the number on the scale!

Average weight loss is about 2 pounds per week.  Weighing yourself every day can be defeating. Instead, focus on how great you FEEL!

Remember, it takes a minimum of 21 days to make something a habit!  Having support from those around you will help you accomplish your goals!



Immune Support - September 2016

Immune Support - September 2016

Bethany Tennant, ND

September represents a new season and the return of schedule and routine. Unfortunately, it often includes exposure to collective germs as everyone returns to the office or classroom after summer travels. This can lead to head colds and stomach aches soon after the first week of school.  While you can’t control all that you or your children will be exposed to, you can support your immune system to prevent illness.


● Avoid highly processed foods that include sugar, salt, and omega­6 fatty acids that reduce immune function. Incorporate as many fresh whole foods and produce while limiting frozen, packaged or canned items.

● Increase immune supporting vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A, beta­carotene, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, riboflavin, iron, copper, zinc, and selenium impact how your immune system fights bacterial infections. Be sure to include colorful fruits and veggies to ensure vitamin and mineral intake.

● Emphasize zinc intake­ this is a mineral found in oysters, chicken and beef as well as almonds.  It plays an important role in production of your first line of defense, neutrophils and Natural Killer Cells.

● Hydrate!  Increasing water intake and reducing sugary juices, soda and alcohol will also improves immune function.

● Gut check! Incorporate fermented foods in your diet such as kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir or yogurt.  Maintaining a healthy gut “flora” allows for optimal immune function.


● Create routine and schedule in regular exercise. Think of just 1 hour per week, in three sessions of 20 minutes each, minimum.

● Moving your muscles is how your body allows for lymph movement, an important component of immune function. Lifestyle

Mindfulness and Meditation: for optimized immune function, find ways to slow down your day.

Stress Management: exercise, chamomile tea, time with animals, being outdoors, or just recreation can help with immune function and lower systemic inflammation.

Sleep: ensuring one gets enough restful sleep can improve immune function

● Vitamin D: get natural light if possible, eat foods high in vitamin D such as mushrooms or find a supplement to help with immune support. Be sure to take care of your body as it prepares to take care of you through the cold and flu season!  Stay ahead of the bugs by preparing your immune system to function optimally

Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

Kara Steele, Health Coach

Nearly 1.5 million Americans have heart attacks each year, and one-third or 500,000 people die. Women are affected nearly as often as men. The cause is Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).  CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside coronary arteries, reducing blood flow.

            Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world.  The American Heart Association lists five major risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease:

1.    Sedentary lifestyle

2.    High blood pressure

3.    Abnormal blood lipid levels

4.     Smoking

5.    Obesity

Reducing these risks can greatly decrease your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

The heart is a muscle, and needs regular exercise in order to work efficiently. Moderate to vigorous physical activity strengthens heart muscle, and improves its ability to pump blood throughout the body. Other benefits of regular exercise on cardiovascular risk factors include:

1.    Increased muscular function

2.    Improved aerobic capacity

3.    Decreased body weight

4.    Lower blood pressure

5.    Increase in HDL (good cholesterol)

6.    Decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol

7.    Improved ability to use insulin

8.    Increased life span

The effect of continued, moderate exercise on overall cardiovascular risk can be dramatic when combined with proper nutrition, smoking cessation, stress reduction and medication, when appropriate. Individuals who are more active tend to develop CHD less frequently than those who are sedentary.  For fit and active individuals who do get CHD, it occurs later in life, and is often less severe.

According to the World Health Organization, 60% of the global population is not active enough. The Centers for Disease Control along with the American College of Sports Medicine have developed guidelines for physical activity. They recommend that individuals get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity most days of the week. Moderate intensity is similar to brisk walking (3-4 mph) and includes activities such as swimming, bicycling, yard work and doing household chores.  Studies have shown that the activity can be broken down into smaller segments without decreasing the benefit. Thirty minutes of moderate daily activity is equivalent to 600-1200 calories of energy expended.

Exercise is a key component in preventing disease and promoting good health.  It’s never too late to start exercising, however if you are over 45 or have two or more risk factors consult your physician.  The first step in starting an exercise program is to determine your current fitness level. This will give you standards by which you can measure your progress.  Examples include BMI, waist circumference, resting heart rate, time it takes to walk a mile, etc.   Design a program that fits with your goals, is appropriate for your fitness level, includes a variety of activities and allows time for rest and recovery. Start slowly and gradually increase your intensity and duration of exercise. Make sure you listen to your body, and give yourself time off if needed. Finally, monitor your progress on a regular basis to determine if you need to make any changes in order to meet your fitness goals.

Stress and the Heart

Stress and the Heart

Kate Jwaskiewicz, VP Coaching Services

Stress.  Normal daily life includes a healthy dose of stress for just about everyone – it keeps us alert and on task.  Work, family, careers, relationships all account for some level of stress in our lives. As we may know, stress and our body’s hormonal reaction to it can be beneficial in certain situations, i.e. ‘fight or flight’. However, when we suffer from daily, chronic, toxic levels of stress our bodies, particularly our hearts, do not have an opportunity to recover from increasingly high levels of cortisol and adrenaline which are produced in response to stressful situations.

Overtime our bodies don’t differentiate from situations that are truly life or death versus typical situations such as being stuck in traffic. This is chronic stress and it is wreaking havoc on us all. While studies to date may be inconclusive on the direct effects chronic stress has on the heart, it is certainly logical to accept that stress triggers unhealthy behaviors causing myriad of physiological issues.  For example, when we’re stressed we tend to turn to unhealthy foods, alcohol and nicotine and these can eventually lead to rising cholesterol levels, blood pressure and decreased immune function, all conditions that increase the incidence of heart disease.

So, how can we reduce the effects of stress on our bodies and protect our hearts? Here are five ways stress management techniques can manage stress and help your heart:

1.     Meditation

There are many ways to include meditation in your daily routine. Practicing yoga, participating in guided meditations, and mindful breathing are all types of meditation.  Meditation encourages concentration and inner visions, focusing on imagery and when our minds wander, returning to the breath. Try the 5 – 5 – 5 – 5 rule.  Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, 5 times.

2.     Practice Self-Care

Schedule a massage, pedicure, or haircut. Watch your favorite television show, uninterrupted. Settle on the couch with a good book and let your mind unwind.

3.     Unplug

Try a social media detox. Turn-off your television, cell phone, iPad, radio. Remove the temptation to read, process, judge and respond to posts, tweets, texts, e-mails or calls (unless, of course, completely necessary).

4.     Time Management and Day Planning

By taking the time to plan your day in advance, you can relieve much of the stress that comes from feeling unprepared and overwhelmed. Take a few minutes each morning to answer the following questions:

What do I want to accomplish today and what is the relative priority of each task?

How much time will it take to complete each tasks and what time of day do I need to start each task to ensure I complete it on time?

Once you answer these questions, take 5 minutes to plan your day. Keep in mind that your plan is flexible and you may need to reassess. Continue with this process when new tasks arise to keep your day manageable.

5.     List and Appreciate Positive Moments

Spend time with gratitude. Share accomplishments with loved ones and celebrate successes of those around you. Focusing on positivity leaves little time for negative thoughts and unnecessary stress.

The Push for Whole Grains

The Push for Whole Grains

Gabrielle Mayfield, Wellness Screening Technician

The recommendations are out, and the 2015 guidelines are sticking with “make at least half your grains whole.” For some this may be a daunting task, but the benefits of whole grains are sure to start persuading folks to take this recommendation seriously. Choosing a diet that is high in whole grains can help improve blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Let’s not forget to mention that whole grains are high in dietary fiber giving you a feeling of fullness. Whole grains can help you to consume fewer calories and play an important role in healthy weight management. Whole grains provide several key nutrients including dietary fiber, many B vitamins, iron, folate, magnesium, and selenium. That’s a whole lot of good nutrition! What about enriched grains, you ask? Well contrary to popular belief all of those key nutrients in the bran and germ that are milled during the refining process are not added back. It is important to remember that you should be incorporating as many quality grains in your diet. Strive to include more for intact grains, like rice, oats, quinoa, popcorn and barley in your diet. These types of grains have had little to no processing. Sadly, replacing   a refined cookie with a cookie that says “now made with whole grains” really isn’t helping to improve health.

 Okay, so now that you know intact grains are the best, you may find yourself asking, “how do I include more into my daily diet?” Let’s start with breakfast, oatmeal has been a staple breakfast food, and can be prepared in many different ways. You could try a fruit filled oatmeal bake, or get adventurous and go for overnight oats! Moving on to lunch and dinner, brown rice is an inexpensive way to include whole grains in to your daily diet. Create a brown rice and beans dish for a Mexican twist, or try a brown rice stir-fry to add some Asian flare to your weekly menu. Now that you know the benefits and you have a few different meal ideas; remember when you head to the grocery store to look for the American Heart Association Certified product symbol (see below). This symbol means the product is limited in saturated and trans fats, sodium, and sugars. The symbol also lets the consumer know the product does not contain hydrogenated oils and more than half the grains used to manufacture the product are whole grains. So now that you’re ready to go out and start exploring the world of whole grains just keep in mind the correct serving sizes;

•               1 slice whole-grain bread (such as 100% whole-wheat bread) 

•               1 cup ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal

•               1⁄2 cup cooked whole-grain cereal, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta

•               5 whole-grain crackers

•               3 cups unsalted, air-popped popcorn

•               1 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla

All of these listed are the equivalent of one serving or one ounce of whole grains. Just to give you that extra push here is a flavorful oatmeal bake recipe that you can make ahead for the week, or enjoy it at a larger family brunch! For more information please visit www.heart.org

Baked Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal

Print Recipe

Baked oatmeal with blueberries and coconut is a great morning treat. Make a big pan to feed a crowd or to reheat during the week for an easy healthy breakfast!

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups skim milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 square baking dish and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla. The coconut oil might get a little lumpy, but that is ok. It will melt when baking.

4. Arrange two-thirds of the blueberries on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oat mixture evenly over the berries. Pour the milk mixture over the oats. Gently shake the baking dish to make sure the milk covers the oats evenly. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries on top of the oats.

5. Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Note-this baked oatmeal is great reheated in the microwave. We like to add a splash of milk!

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This delicious recipe brought to you by Two Peas & Their Pod



Natural Considerations for Managing Blood Pressure

Natural Considerations for Managing Blood Pressure

Bethany Tennant, ND, Education Director

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as systolic (top number) 140 or higher and the diastolic (lower number) above 90 mmHg, after the readings have been high on three occasions. You can track your own blood pressure by using free readings often offered at local pharmacy or even purchase your own automated device. The reason it is important to maintain a healthy blood pressure is because of the increased risk of stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attack), other vascular disease, chronic kidney disease or retinal damage. Most often after a diagnosis, medication is suggested to manage the condition. Typically, these pharmaceutical therapies include thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. 

However, diet and exercise have demonstrated both prevention and management of high blood pressure. In fact, the DASH diet, emphasizing low sodium and high potassium, has been shown to significantly lower the BP (8-14mm Hg) in patients with hypertension. Below you will find some considerations for lowering blood pressure naturally and in practical ways:

-Decrease sodium intake by avoiding canned foods such as soups, frozen meals, lunch meats, or snack items like chips and pretzels.  As an alternative try adding flavor with herbs and spices such as basil, dill, turmeric or cilantro instead.

-Increase potassium intake by consuming more avocados, melons and bananas.

-Consuming four stalks of celery per day has antihypertensive effects.  Try eating veggie sticks as a snack, adding them chopped to a salad or a stir fry mix.

-Increase garlic and onion consumption as these are a form of plant medicine that can be hypotensive.  They also inhibit platelet aggregation which decreases one’s risk of stroke or heart attack.  Include this blend in your soups, omelettes, meat preparations or with any sautéed vegetable blend.

-Increase in omega 3 consumption, this can be found in grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, chia and flax seeds.  Flax seeds can be ground and added to a smoothie, sprinkled atop oatmeal or a salad.

-Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 1-2 drinks daily.  In fact having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure. 

-Increase magnesium rich foods, a common mineral deficiency which can help support blood vessels. Food sources for magnesium include soybeans, buckwheat, tofu, almonds, cashews and legumes.

 In addition to nutritional considerations, exercise is highly effective in managing blood pressure.  Current recommendations include 20-30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week. Studies show that it doesn't have to be 30 minutes all at once, but could be three, 10-minute intervals.  You can try to incorporate this by going for a walk during a lunch break, find an accountability partner or pet, take the stairs, or park further away. By utilizing nutrition and exercise you can help prevent and even manage blood pressure to decrease your risk of a cardiovascular event.  Take charge of your health with your meals and exercise plan today! Be sure to talk to your primary care provider if you are looking to replace a pharmaceutical regimen with natural alternatives to ensure safety.

Smoke, free workplace

Smoke, free workplace

NOTICE: If you have been developing a plan to help employees move beyond tobacco use, this article may be crucial to your company’s success in creating a healthy and productive culture.