Posts By : Crystal Dwyer Hansen

Your Child’s Fitness Determines Their Health Future

While it can seem that the digital age has taken over and there’s nothing we can do about it, parents play a key role in helping their children learn to integrate healthy activity into everyday life.

Did you know only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day and less than 50% of the time spent in PE, sports, and outdoor activities involves enough movement to be considered physically active? With the technology boom has come more time for children and teens spending more time on phones, computers, and other electronic devices, leaving about 1 in 3 children overweight or obese.

So what can we as parents and grandparents do to help children become more physically active?

  • Be a sport- Even if your child doesn’t seem drawn to a specific sport The more they enjoy the activity, the more likely they will continue playing it. Get the entire family involved! Not only will it increase your child’s physical activity, it’s a great way to spend time together as a family. Soccer may be thumbs down but skating might get a big smile.
  • Focus on Joy- One at a time begin to find a fun activity that the child enjoys! It doesn’t have to be structured. Adventure walks where you collect fun things in a bag can keep kids happy for hours. Time your kids when they run across the lawn and back. Challenge them to beat their own time! See how many times they can throw a ball in the air and catch it. Testing themselves against their siblings or friends can create a bit of healthy competition that increases their motivation to do well.
  • Plan a time where you can exercise or engage in physical activities with your child. The more you are involved, the more your child will enjoy it.
  • Provide toys that promote physical fitness. Have toys that around that make it easy to be active; balls, jump ropes, bicycles, and other active toys.
  • Limit television. Limit both TV and computer use. No more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time per day will give your child plenty of time for physical activities.
  • Don’t push too hard. Gently find ways to increase your child’s physical activity and make it fun rather than a chore. Your attitude will reflect and make an impression on their attitude when it comes to fitness and health.
  •  Engage in a discussion with your child’s physician during a check-up. Your child’s doctor may help him or her understand why physical activity and fitness can keep them strong and healthy.

Remember to incorporate a balanced diet into your child’s new healthy lifestyle. One of the most important things we can do as parents is encourage healthy habits early in life. The time you invest in creating a happy program of healthy activity and eating now will pay dividends for a lifetime!

Are You Drinking Your Calories?

Are you drinking your calories?

Beverages are not as satisfying as solid foods and typically don’t compensate for eating a balanced nutritious meal.

According to research, our brains register liquid calories differently than calories from eating solid foods. Orange juice (for example) is naturally high in calories and sugar. An 8 ounce glass of OJ typically has 130 calories. When you consume the juice, your brain won’t register the calories the same way it does if you eat an actual orange.  Researchers believe this is because the action of chewing and biting isn’t present which may trigger signals in the brain that we are eating. You may also find you don’t feel as full from a glass of juice as you would if you ate the orange in its natural form. Why is this? Because the orange fruit has fiber and the juice has very little fiber. Fiber helps us feel full and contributes to proper digestion. Juice, which is mostly sugar, is quickly absorbed after we drink it.

It’s okay to drink milk, juices, and other drinks in moderation. But try to stick to non-caloric drinks like tea, coffee (skip the creamer), and water. If you need to liven up your water, try a squeeze of lemon or lime to give it a fruity kick. If you consume alcoholic beverages, be mindful of the calories.

Hope this helps you live a healthy Skinny Life!

caloric drinks

Do You Eat Out Too Often?

Do you eat out too often?

Cook at home more often for healthier, more nutritious meals.

When you cook at home, you control how much oil, sugar, and other high-calorie ingredients you use in your recipes.  Eating at home also allows you to eat more whole foods and control portion sizes. This can lead to a healthier waistline and thicker wallet.

If you eat out a lot and want to put an end to it, here are some quick easy tips to help you:

  1. Commit to eating at home. Sounds obvious but if you’re not completely bought into the idea, you will fail. If you have a partner who isn’t on board with your healthier goal, you are also likely to not follow through. Commit and do.
  2. Challenge yourself and give yourself a goal. Is your goal to never eat out? To only eat out on special occasions (and what is a special occasion – a birthday or holiday)? Is your morning cup of coffee at the convenient store or Starbucks considered eating out? Define your goals and make them crystal clear. When you make an outline of what you will and will not do, it makes it easier to stick to your goals.
  3. One Month. After completing the first 2 steps, commit to not eating out for one month. Typically, if you can do something for a month, it has become a habit. Then once you succeed after one month, challenge yourself for another month. You will start to see an increase in your pocketbook and a reduction in your waist (if you are choosing nutritious foods).

What is your goal and how long do you think you can go without eating out again? I would love to read your comments!




Improve Your Walking Technique for Maximum Benefits!

Are you looking for ways to make certain you get the most out of your walk? Walking is a fabulous way to clear your head.  Cruising along briskly in the fresh air can double as meditation time during which you can reflect on the positive things as well as getting in some good movement and exercise.  Just so you get maximum benefit with minimal issues with your walking routines, we’ve  created a walking awareness checklist to help you get started!

No one wants to add unnecessary strain to body parts that don’t need it. Besides, a sloppy posture increases your risk of injuring yourself. By delegating some of the work to your abdominal and hip muscles, you can walk faster and more efficiently, reduce your risk of injury, and eliminate much of walking’s joint-jarring impact. With fewer pains and strains, you might even walk farther. And that means you’ll burn more calories – and who doesn’t love that idea?

Here are some simple reminders of items to be aware of during your next walk and every walk:

Intentionally engage your butt and thigh muscles:  
As you prepare to take a step, focus on your trailing leg, creating a crease where your butt and thigh meet by lifting your cheek and tightening your hamstring. Continue to use those muscles as you bring that leg forward. Notice how your inner thigh muscles keep your knee pointed forward and stabilize your leg.

Toes Forward:  
When you walk, allow your heel to strike first, then push off from the big toe, flexing at the ankle. Walking with your toes pointed our causes stress on your knees, so keep them pointed forward for a safer stride.

Pull your navel toward your spine:  
Your abdominal muscles will form additional stability when holding your stomach in, and your movements will be more controlled too (it also helps create great abs). As you walk, let your arms swing, but try not to swivel your torso, because your torsos job is to support movement.

Be proud and hold your head high:  
Walking forward headfirst creates unnecessary stress in your neck and throws off your balance. Walk as if you are a puppet and imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head keeping your head up – or – pretend as though you have a stack of books on your head that you are attempting to balance. This distributes the force of gravity along the natural curve of your spine.

Relax your shoulders:  
Position your shoulders back and down. Concentrate on not shrugging or hunching them as this is also bad for your back and spine.

Make your walking time a top priority not to be compromised even if it’s on lunch breaks or walking home from work.  Your body and brain will enjoy the extra oxygen you take in and afterward you’ll feel happier and more calm.  Be conscientious of your form, your movements, and your walking posture. The awareness will help you move your body in a healthier way and create long lasting, skinny life results!

Happy walking!

Health Benefits of Eating Garlic

Garlic not only makes food delicious, it may also have a number of health benefits. Some of these benefits are more likely if you eat your garlic raw, since cooking it may reduce the amounts of certain chemicals garlic contains. Before adding large amounts of garlic to your diet or taking garlic supplements, speak with your doctor as garlic can interact with certain medications and isn’t safe for everyone in amounts greater than those used in cooking.

It May Lower Cancer Risk

People who consumed raw garlic at least twice a week experienced lower rates of lung cancer than those who consumed raw garlic less often, according to a seven-year study published in “Cancer Prevention Research” in July 2013. Garlic may also be beneficial for preventing or treating colon and pancreatic cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center — although research is still preliminary.

Lowers Cholesterol

Medical students who consumed 10 grams of raw garlic each day for two months significantly lowered their cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the “Journal of Postgraduate Medicine” in 1991. Another study, published in the “Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences” in October 2006, found that raw garlic consumption increased beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, while decreasing total cholesterol, although the difference wasn’t large enough to recommend using garlic as the only method for lowering cholesterol.

Offers an Anti-inflammatory Effect

If you suffer from an inflammatory condition, it may help to consume raw garlic. A study published in “Food and Chemical Toxicology” in August 2013 found that garlic had an anti-inflammatory effect, with raw garlic exhibiting a stronger effect than garlic that had been heated. The levels of a compound called allicin were greater in the raw garlic, which is most likely the reason for its greater benefits.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

A decrease in insulin sensitivity increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Consuming raw garlic may help improve your insulin sensitivity, thus lowering your risk for diabetes, according to a preliminary study published in “Nutrition & Metabolism” in 2011. However, this study used rats, so further research is necessary to see if the same benefit exists in humans.


garlic health benefits

Original Blog Post: Click Here

How to Successfully Lose Weight

How to Successfully Lose Weight

Throughout many successful weight loss journeys, there are similar factors that contribute to lasting and successful weight loss.  Here we share a few, and, if you have tips to share with others, please comment below or head over to our Facebook page to share your weight loss tips!

  1. Mindset is everything.

Weight loss is difficult. It is hard to break old habits and implement new ones. Our bodies have memory (you’ve probably heard of muscle memory, well, our entire bodies have physical memory) and losing weight is rewiring the memory. You will hit plateaus and there will be weigh-ins where you lose nothing, you may even gain a few pounds. But don’t despair, stay positive and remember that even when things are frustrating and you’re feeling defeated, that the journey will be worth it once you hit your weight loss goals.

  1. Burn more calories than you consume.

Yes, the goal is to eat healthier and to nourish your body with the right nutrients and vitamins. With that being said, it is still possible to lose weight eating the foods you currently love, IF, you can eat them in moderation. Slowly replace unhealthy foods with healthy, vibrant, unprocessed foods. Log your meals and track your calories, this will help you burn more calories than you are eating.

  1. Move your body.

Each person burns calories each day on a normal day, some more than others based on muscle mass, their movement throughout the day and overall lifestyle. To permanently lose weight and keep it off, you need to make lifestyle changes. You will need to find an exercise that you love doing, such as swimming, yoga, cardio, lifting weights, or taking walks. Make your workouts fun and move, move, move.

  1. Eat clean and organic.

Weight loss rules are simple. Eat organic and clean, eat in moderation, eat lots of green leafy vegetables, limit sugar (bread, soft drinks, pastries, etc), eat plenty of protein, and drink tea or unsweetened coffee, and lots of hydrating water.

  1. Stay busy.

Keep busy at home (even housework burns calories), and park further away when you go out so you can benefit from extra walking to and from your car (make sure your car is in a well-lit area and close to others when parking at night). There are several small changes we can make that will increase our calorie burn.

  1. Celebrate successes.

Make small goals. Don’t wait to reward yourself until you have lost all of your weight. You will become frustrated and feel unmotivated. Instead, find ways to celebrate your small wins throughout your weight loss journey! Maybe a fun night out with friends, or buying something new to show off your changing figure, or going to a movie, can be rewards you implement. Just remember to celebrate YOU!

Health Benefits of Quitting Caffeine

Millions and possibly billions of people drink coffee or some type of caffeine daily. Yes, caffeine is accepted as safe for our consumption in moderation, however, there are incredible health benefits of breaking the caffeine habit (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, etc).

Here are several reasons to kick the caffeine habit that I hope you can incorporate into your health regime:

  • Improved health: Yes, there are health benefits of coffee and tea because of their antioxidant properties, however, this isn’t true for all caffeinated drinks. Soda pop, processed coffee and tea, and energy drinks, have a negative impact on long term health.  People who consume mostly water, report having a more natural energy, sleeping better, healthier skin, and an overall feeling of wellness.  

  • Increased Productivity: What if you had an extra hour every day? What would you do with that time? People addicted to caffeine and waste time stopping at convenience stores, coffee shops, in the break room at work, etc. That time saved could be spent sleeping or working out. 

  • Weight Loss: Caffeinated beverages generally add empty calories to our diets that we don’t need – unless you drink your coffee black. When caffeine is in a sugary beverage, it causes people to consume more of that beverage, in comparison to a sugary beverage without caffeine. 

  • Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk: Black coffee has been proven to reduce diabetes risk, but once you start adding sugar, sugary creamers, and other flavorings to your coffee, your risk for diabetes actually increases.
  • Less Jitters: One of the leading side effects from consuming too much caffeine (in any more) is shaky hands or jitters. Quitting your caffeine habit will bring your steady hands back.  You may even find that you’re less irritable throughout the day.
  • Healthier Diet: Bottled drinks, energy drinks, sodas, teas, and coffees, often have a lot of preservatives to provide them with a longer shelf life.  These preservatives can have adverse health effects and some are even banned in other countries (which should be concerning in itself).  Sugar-free energy drinks and sodas contain artificial sweeteners that can negatively affect your health – so cutting these out of your diet can be beneficial to your overall long-term and increased health.
  • Prettier Teeth:  Tea and Coffee stain teeth. Sugary drinks erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. Eliminating these beverages results in whiter, brighter, and healthier teeth. Smile!
  • Less Headaches: Have you ever noticed when you cut back on caffeine consumption, or drink more caffeine than normal, that it triggers a massive headache? Any change in your consumption can result in caffeine headaches, including migraines. Be prepared when cutting out caffeine that you may experience a headache for a few days. This is normal.
  • Sleep Better: Drinking caffeine to late in the evening can affect your sleep since the life of caffeine is 4-6 hours. If you’re having difficulties sleeping at night, cut the caffeine and see if this improves getting your zzzzz’s.
  • Lower Your Blood Pressure: Quitting caffeine can lower your blood pressure and keep your heart from working as hard. Give your heart a break.

If these reasons want to make you cut back or quit caffeine altogether, give it a try and let me know how you feel after a few weeks of cutting your caffeine.  It’s always good to give your body a break from anything that could become a bad habit!


Quick Tips to Improve Your Eating Habits

It can be difficult to change your eating habits and sometimes feel like an impossible thing to do. Many people find that it helps if you focus on small changes. Making changes to your diet may also be beneficial if you have diseases that can be made worse by things you are eating or drinking or are not eating and drinking. Symptoms from conditions such as kidney disease, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease can all benefit from changes in diet. Below are some quick suggestions for you to try to improve your health.

  • Find any strong and weak points in your current diet. Do you eat 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day? Do you eat fish, nuts, legumes? Do you get enough calcium? Do you eat whole grain, high-fiber foods? If so, you’re on the right track! Keep it up. If not, add more of these foods to your daily diet.
  • Keep track of your food intake by writing down what you eat and drink every day.  There are several apps such as My Fitness Pal that make it easy to keep your journal right on your phone. This record will help you assess your diet. You’ll see if you need to eat more or less from certain food groups – just remember to be HONEST with yourself when tracking what you have eaten.

Almost everyone can benefit from cutting back on unhealthy fats. If you currently eat a lot of unhealthy fats, commit to cutting back and changing your habits. Unhealthy fats include things such as: dark chicken meat; poultry skin; fatty cuts of pork, beef, and lamb; and high-fat dairy foods (whole milk, butter, cheeses). Ways to cut back on unhealthy fats include:

  • Rather than frying meat, bake, grill, or broil it. Take off the skin before cooking chicken or turkey. Try eating fish at least once a week.
  • Reduce any extra fat. This includes butter on bread, sour cream on baked potatoes, and salad dressings. Use low-fat or nonfat versions of these foods.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with your meals and as snacks.
  • Read the nutrition labels on foods before you buy them. If you need help with the labels, ask your doctor or dietitian.
  • When you eat out, be aware of hidden fats and larger portion sizes.
  • Staying hydrated is important for good health. Drink zero- or low-calorie beverages, such as water or tea. Sweetened drinks add lots of sugar and calories to your diet. This includes fruit juice, soda, sports and energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk, and sweetened iced tea.

Balanced nutrition and regular exercise are good for your health. These habits can help you lose or maintain weight. Try to set realistic goals so you don’t become frustrated with yourself and throw in the towel.

Make healthy eating habits a part of daily life rather than following fad diets. Nutrition tips and diets from different sources can be misleading.

The Gluten Free Craze

Research has showed us in recent years that whole grains are good for us.  So why are so many people giving up wheat, barley, soy, and rye in what appears to be an all-out war on products with gluten?  Is there good science that shows us gluten is not a good thing for our bodies or is it a fad into which we’ve all jumped, assuming since the anti-gluten campaign is everywhere it must be justified?

You probably hear the phrase “I’m gluten free” often and wonder if you are missing something important that you should be incorporating into your diet. Some grains are naturally gluten free, such as millet and quinoa, and are becoming quite popular. Many books claim that gluten free diet will help with autism, weight loss, and several other health conditions.

So should we all be avoiding gluten? Honestly, for most of us, a gluten free diet doesn’t appear to offer many health benefits. In fact, it may bring unwanted results such as weight gain and nutritional insufficiencies.  For those truly suffering from Celiac Disease the elimination of gluten is very important.  Celiac Disease is an inherited autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested.  For those people, gluten free eating can be truly life-changing.  However the true statistic is that only one percentof the population is actually affected with true Celiac Disease. I recently had a conversation with my functional medicine doctor about this very subject.  His conclusions after treating many, many people have been that the gluten-free craze is a huge fad that in many cases could cause health problems.

You may have friends or co-workers who have slimmed down after giving up gluten. Going gluten free may initially lead to shedding some pounds or dropping a few dress sizes, because the weight loss is typically caused by cutting out gluten based starchy foods, which are loaded with refined carbs, like pasta, crackers, bagels, white bread, and baked goodies.  Cutting those things out of your diet and replacing them with veggies and whole grains like wild rice, and quinoa, naturally cuts excess refined carbs (which love to feed our fat cells), and results in newfound energy. However, going gluten free can eventually lead to weight gain if you’re not careful.  This is because after a while, people still crave breads and other starchy products and many of the gluten free options have no fiber or protein and are very carb dense.  Increasing your carb load (especially with the gluten free substitutes like rice flour or tapioca flour) at the same time you’re giving up important proteins and fibers could end up being a recipe for unintended weight gain.

Bottom line: If you’re looking to lose weight, and you think you may have Celiac Disease, I recommend getting a blood test.  Your doctor will be able to test you easily for it.  If you find you’re not a true Celiac, then there may not be enough evidence at this time to suggest you will benefit from eating gluten free. Before making this plunge into the gluten-free world, examine the rest of your eating habits first. Your weight gain probably might have more to do with consuming too many sugar packed foods (read your labels – sugar is hidden in many things). If you do determine to eliminate gluten from your diet, keep in mind that gluten free foods are often low in calcium, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, and fiber. Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts,  lean meats, dairy, and legumes to get the important nutrients your body needs.


Should I Stretch Before or After Exercising?

Do any of these lines sound familiar?

  • You have to hold a stretch to get the benefit.
  • Don’t bounce in the stretch — you’ll tear your muscle.
  • If you don’t stretch before a workout, you’ll hurt yourself.

Well, they’re all wrong. But first, there’s a bigger question to answer.

Do You Need to Stretch at All?

It’s a good idea, says the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM recommends stretching each of the major muscle groups at least two times a week for 60 seconds per exercise.

Staying flexible as you age is a good idea. It helps you move better.

For example, regular stretching can help keep your hips and hamstrings flexible later in life, says Lynn Millar, PhD. She’s a physical therapist and professor at Winston-Salem State University.

If your posture or activities are a problem, make it a habit to stretch those muscles regularly. If you have back pain from sitting at a desk all day, stretches that reverse that posture could help.

Simple Back Stretch

Exercise physiologist Mike Bracko recommends doing the “Standing Cat-Camel” as a work-related back stretch. Here’s how:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent slightly.
  • Lean forward, placing your hands just above your knees.
  • Round your back so that your chest is closed and your shoulders are curved forward.
  • Then arch your back so that your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.
  • Repeat several times.

If your job keeps you in the same position all day, Bracko suggests doing 2-minute stretch breaks to reverse that posture at least every hour.

Do You Need to Hold a Stretch to Get the Benefit?

Not necessarily.

Stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds is what’s called a static stretch, and there’s no harm in stretching that way as long you don’t stretch until it hurts.

But studies suggest a dynamic stretch is just as effective, and sometimes better, especially before your workout.

Here’s a static version of the Cat-Camel:

  • Lace your fingers together and turn your palms to face outward in front of you.
  • Reach your arms as far as you can, curving your back and shoulders forward.
  • Hold for about 10 seconds.
  • Now release your fingers, and grab your wrists or fingers behind your back.
  • Raise your arms as high as you can behind your back without releasing your hands so your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.

With any stretch, static or dynamic, you should feel a stretch, but you shouldn’t feel pain. So there is no need to stretch farther than the range of motion you typically need.

Should You Stretch Before Exercise?

Not necessarily. It’s not proven to help prevent injury, curb muscle soreness after exercise, or improve your performance.

Static stretching before exercise can weaken performance, such as sprint speed, in studies. The most likely reason is that holding the stretch tires out your muscles.

You should warm up by doing dynamic stretches, which are like your workout but at a lower intensity. A good warm-up before a run could be a brisk walk, walking lunges, leg swings, high steps, or “butt kicks” (slowly jogging forward while kicking toward your rear end).

Start slowly, and gradually ramp up the intensity.

Should You Stretch After Exercise?

This is a great time to stretch.

“Everyone is more flexible after exercise, because you’ve increased the circulation to those muscles and joints and you’ve been moving them,” Millar says.

If you do static stretches, you’ll get the most benefit from them now.

“After you go for a run or weight-train, you walk around a little to cool down. Then you do some stretching. It’s a nice way to end a workout,” Bracko says.

Can You Stretch Anytime?

Yes. It is not a must that you stretch before or after your regular workout. It is simply important that you stretch sometime.

This can be when you wake up, before bed, or during breaks at work.

“Stretching or flexibility should be a part of a regular program,” Millar says.


Original article found here:  CLICK HERE