Usually my weekly column provides insight on how to live a healthier life through proper nutrition and exercise.
My article this week will focus on a different kind of well-being. My well-being.
In July of 2016, I took the job in Neligh, Nebraska working as an Extension Educator for the University of Nebraska. This position would give me the opportunity to increase the nutritional and physical literacy of children and adults in Northeast Nebraska. Throughout my professional career, I had searched for ways to have a positive nutritional impact on a community. This position as a Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Educator would provide me with that impactful opportunity. With this opportunity of a lifetime, came sacrifice.
In taking this position, I would have to move away from my home and family in Orlando, Florida. While my wife finishes up business matters in Orlando, I would be moving across the country as a party of one. Transitioning from a region of 2,000,000+ people in the Orlando area, to only a few thousand people in Northeast Nebraska could have been a daunting task. There are a few organizations and people that I would like to thank for helping me feel welcome into my home.
I would like to thank my co-workers in the Antelope County Extension office and at the University of Nebraska. You welcomed me into your offices and programs with open arms. I am looking forward to an amazing 2017.
Thank you goes out to the Neligh Economic Development Office. You showed me how businesses working together can strengthen the foundation of the community. Your tour of the town really sealed the deal!
A huge thanks goes out to the local newspapers in my community for publishing my articles every week. You have provided me with a forum to provide healthy living tips for the members of our community. Thank you for keeping our communities informed.
My final thank you goes out to my best friend, my wife. Being apart for months on end has only strengthened our relationship. I look forward to the time that I will be able to spend with her and our dogs over the next few weeks. It will probably take all of those two weeks to convince her to leave 85 degree weather and join me here where anything above 20 degrees is considered a heat wave.
I will see you in 2017!
Energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, 5 Hour energy, soda, or coffee, tea, etc.) seem to be the first thing people grab for when they need a boost of energy.
That boost of energy usually comes in the form of caffeine. Caffeine works by blocking the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical involved in sleep. By blocking the adenosine, the neurons in your brain fire. This produces “emergency” signals in your brain that releases adrenaline. This hormone causes your heart to beat faster and induces your liver to release extra sugar into the bloodstream.
The end product of all of these biological processes is a short boost in energy.
The increase in energy usually lasts thirty minutes or less and is followed by more than an hour of listlessness and drowsiness.
The daily recommended allowance for caffeine is 400 milligrams. That is equivalent to about four cups of coffee, ten cans of soda, or two carbonated energy drinks.
Heavy caffeine use over 400 milligrams can result in insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, increased heart-beat, and muscle tremors (MAYO clinic). Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that is very addictive. Eliminating caffeine from a caffeine dependent body can result in headaches, muscle pain, or fatigue.
A healthier alternative to that morning cup of coffee (or four cups of coffee) is to start off you day with a little cardiovascular exercise. Adding twenty minutes of exercise three times a week can boost your energy levels. Increasing the amount of whole grains in your diet can also give your body sustainable, healthy energy to get you through your day.
Start small by engaging in a morning workout instead of that morning cup of coffee once per week.
Even your trusty health and nutrition educator would have a hard time giving up coffee three days a week to start.
With one more flip of the calendar page we will arrive in 2017.
There were successes, failures, and challenges for all of us over the past twelve months. For many of us, 2017 can’t get here fast enough! We often view the New Year as a time to “re-boot” and start the year fresh with new business, family, and personal goals.
New Year’s goals and resolutions fill all of us with hope that this next calendar year can be the best year that we have ever had. While it may be easy for us to set new goals and resolutions, keeping those same goals and resolutions throughout the year (even the first month) is very difficult.
Here are a few tips to stay on track with your New Year’s resolutions and goals.
Tip #1: Have a plan. Before you can set goals and resolutions, a period of reflection is required. It is hard to visualize where you are going, without first looking at where you have been. What worked for you last year? What did not work last year? In order for your goal or resolution to be met, you have to put a plan in place. A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Tip #2: Focus on the journey, not the destination. Try to focus on improving yourself every day. Instead of setting a weight loss goal to achieve by the end of the year, set a daily activity goal. Hitting a daily goal motivates you to keep going the next day. A scale should be used in your fitness routine only one time. Follow these instructions to use your scale properly; Bend down to pick up the scale. Use your knees, not your back. Grab the scale, lift it high in the air, and throw it in the garbage. Let your body tell you how you are doing, not a useless device.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is in the name itself. Why do we need to wait for the beginning of the New Year to start improving our lives? Why do we need to start and stop goals only once per year?
Start today by making a plan. If that plan changes, which it will, make a new plan. I make a New Year’s resolution every day; be better than I was yesterday. I plan on keeping that resolution.
Holidays are a wonderful time of the year to spend with family and friends.
One of the best parts about meeting with friends and family, is the sharing of delicious food. If your family is anything like mine, one Thanksgiving dinner turns in a two or three day eating binge, trying to get rid of all of those leftovers. The combination of additional holiday calories and fewer exercise opportunities can lead to over indulgence and increased inactivity time. If this happened you, do not worry, you are not alone! Here are a few tips to get you back on track.
Tip 1: Do not rush back into your fitness program. It will take time for you to get back into your routines. One day of hard exercise will not make up for days of holiday overeating. It may seem like it takes your body additional time to get warmed up, or you may find it difficult to finish a workout. This is normal after a break in your routine. Rushing back in to an exercise program after taking a break can result in injury.
Tip 2: Stretching, especially after a period of inactivity is crucial to avoiding injury when resuming an exercise program. Spend an extra 15 minutes getting an entire body stretch before attempting to exercise. When you postpone exercising for even a couple days, your muscles tighten up and you are more susceptible to injury. Stretching improves blood flow and releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that are released from your pituitary gland, that relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria.
Tip 3: Make sure you are fueling your body with healthy food. Proper nutrients are necessary to getting back into your nutritional and fitness routines. Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetable, whole grains, and low fat proteins. Proper hydration is also important. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together, I am sure we will be having this same conversation in less than a month, and that is okay. The time spent with family and friends makes it all worth it.
Extension Educator- Food, Nutrition, and Health
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