Skip to content
The new Patient Portal, Partners Patient Gateway, is now available! Click here to enroll or log in to Patient Portal/Patient Gateway.
Menu
express care logo
Riverwalk:
mins
Andover:
mins

Wellness Wednesday: Sometimes all You Need to Do is Breathe

 

Breathing exercises offer an extremely simple, effective, and convenient way to relieve stress and reverse your stress response, reducing the negative effects of chronic stress. There are definite benefits of breathing exercises. While simple diaphragmic breathing can provide relaxation and stress relief, there are several different types of breathing exercises to try, each with its own twist. Here are several breathing exercises, some of which are commonly recommended, some of which are unique, and all of which can each offer help in managing stress. This is an easy exercise that only takes a few minutes. Here’s how.

Mindful Diaphragmic Breathing

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start to notice your breath. Before you begin to alter it, pay attention to the pace and depth. Are you taking deep breaths or shallow ones? Are you breathing quickly or slowly? (Becoming aware of your breathing can help you to become more mindful of your body’s response to stress, and can help you to notice when you need to deliberately relax your breathing.)

Counted Breathing

Counting your breaths can be helpful, both for pacing and as a form of meditation. This technique helps with pacing–it enables you to elongate your breath and stretch out your exhales. There are a few ways to do this.

As you inhale, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth, then breathe through your nose and slowly count down from five; on the exhale, let the air escape through your mouth and count back up to eight. Then repeat. This helps you to really empty your lungs and relax into each breath.

A variation of this is known as “4-7-8 breathing,” and is recommended by wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil. With this option, you inhale for a count of four, wait for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. This allows you to pause between breaths and really slow things down.
You may also find your own pace. Experiment with whatever ratio feels comfortable to you, and see if it helps you to feel relaxed. The act of counting as you breathe still helps you to maintain a steady pace and keep your mind on your breath and the present moment, so it is still more effective than simply breathing regularly and unconsciously.

Visualization Breathing: Inflating the Balloon

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, imagine that your abdomen is inflating with air like a balloon. As you exhale, imagine that the air is escaping the balloon slowly. Remember, you do not have to force the air out; it simply escapes on its own, in its own time. You may want to imagine the balloon as your favorite color, or that you are floating higher in the sky with each breath if this is relaxing for you. Regardless, the “inflating balloon” visualization can help you to breathe deeply from your diaphragm rather than engaging in shallow breathing that can come from stress.

Visualization Breathing: Releasing Your Stress

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start diaphragmic breathing. As you inhale, imagine that all the stress in your body is coming from your extremities and into your chest. Then, as you exhale, imagine that the stress is leaving your body through your breath and dissipating right in front of you. Slowly, deliberately repeat the process. After several breaths, you should feel your stress begin to subside.

Deep, Cleansing Breath

Sometimes all you need to release stress from your shoulders, back, or the rest of your body is a few big, cleansing breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and take in as much air as you comfortably can. Then release it, and really focus on emptying your lungs. (Many people hold air in their lungs after an exhale, so emptying your lungs on a deep exhale can help you to get more fresh oxygen into them.) Repeat this breathing exercise for a few breaths and release the tension in your back, your shoulders, and anywhere else it tends to reside.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This breathing exercise variation has been practiced for thousands of years as a form of meditative breathing. As you inhale, place your finger over your right nostril and only breathe through your left. On the exhale, switch nostrils and only breathe through your right. You can breathe at whatever pace is comfortable for you, either a 5-8 ratio, a 4-7-8 ratio or whatever pace feels most relaxing for you (see “counted breathing,” above).

 

Cite: VerywellMind.com
 

Energize Your Body and Mind with Good-For-You Carbs

The diet industry has been doing you wrong by being wishy-washy about carbs. Despite what you may have heard, carbohydrates aren’t a no-no.

So, stop feeling guilty for noshing a much-needed macronutrient and focus on smart carb consumption strategies to adequately fuel your beautiful bod and brain.

Continue reading “Energize Your Body and Mind with Good-For-You Carbs”

Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water

Keeping hydrated is crucial for health and well-being, but many people do not consume enough fluids each day. Around 60 percent of the body is made up of water, and around 71 percent of the planet’s surface is covered by water.

Perhaps it is the ubiquitous nature of water that means drinking enough each day is not at the top of many people’s lists of priorities.

Continue reading “Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water”

10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Taking a Bath

10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Taking a Bath

Bathing has a long and detailed history. Submerging ourselves in water, whether in a bathing receptacle or in a natural body of water is something we do for both personal hygiene, leisure and health. There is nothing more enjoyable than going for a swim in the ocean on a warm day or having a hot fragrant bath in the cooler months.

Hydrotherapy  has been practiced for centuries. Both the use of hot and cold water can have beneficial effects on the body. Boiling water can be sourced naturally from a hot spring and many places like New Zealand and Iceland have naturally occurring hot pools that people can utilize to take advantage of the mineral rich waters. Similarly, cryotherapy or taking ice baths, can help to alleviate muscle strain and many athletes including runners will submerge themselves in freezing waters to counteract the damage or strain induced by exercise.

Regardless of the temperature, the benefits of taking a bath have been scientifically proven and can ensure optimal health of the mind and body.

Here are the health benefits of taking a bath:

Bathing can improve heart health

Although bathing in high temperatures can put unnecessary strain on your heart, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition, taking a warm bath will make your heart beat faster and can give it a healthy work out.

Taking a bath may help you to breathe easier

Being immersed in water past your chest with your head out, can have a good influence on your lung capacity and oxygen intake. There are two factors that contribute to this; the temperature of the water and the pressure the water places on your chest and lungs. When the water is warmer and your heart is beating faster, your oxygen intake can be improved and the steam created can clear your sinuses and chest.

Your brain and nervous system can benefit from bathing

Submergence in water can reduce pain and inflammation and also calm the nervous system, reducing the levels of stress and anxiety in the body and improving your mood. Hydrotherapy can help people who suffer from multiple sclerosis as the temperature and pressure of the water gently relieves the spine of pain and discomfort.

Bathing can benefit your muscles, joints and bones

Stretching and moving in water has been shown to be low impact on the joints, muscles and bones, but very effective in providing an adequate workout through resistance. There is also less chance of injury for people who are at risk of falls, which makes aquatic exercise ideal for the elderly.

Take care of your blood and immunity with a bath

Not only does a warm bath make the blood flow easier, it also makes it more oxygenated by allowing you to breathe deeper and slower, particularly when taking in steam. Taking a hot bath or spa can kill bacteria and improve immunity. It can relieve the symptoms of cold and flu. 

Balance your hormones by bathing

Conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and some fertility issues can be assisted by bathing in colder temperatures. Hormones released by the pituitary gland such as adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH and other hormones such as beta endorphinand cortisol can become more balanced. Alternatively, warm water bathing can increase levels of serotonin, which is the chemical produced by the brain associated with happiness and well being.

Bathing cleanses and moisturizes your skin, hair and eyes

Exposure to fluid through bathing and steaming is a great way to ensure hydration of the body in all aspects. The human body is made mostly of water and that is why we are encouraged to drink plenty of it. But soaking in it is also extremely beneficial. We can enhance this by adding certain oils or salts to a bath or bathing in a natural body of water or pool, rich in naturally occurring minerals.

Your core body temperature will be optimal through bathing

There is no quicker and more pleasant way to regulate your body temperature than through bathing. On a cold day, taking a hot bath or spa is sure to warm you up. Going for a cold ocean swim in the height of summer is undeniably the best way to cool off.

Evidence has shown that bathing, whether in cold or hot water; at home in a vessel or out in a natural body of water can have many health benefits without adverse effects. However, it is advised that a health professional is consulted if pre-existing health conditions or diseases are present before embarking on any form of hydrotherapy.

To read the complete article click: https://www.lifehack.org/381960/10-scientifically-proven-health-benefits-taking-bath

Cite: Diane Kopman/ Lifehacks.org. Jan 2018

 

How to use your smartphone without ruining your health

How to use your smartphone without ruining your health

Our smartphones are our constant companions. We hunch over their screens, gaze at their blue-tinted light, and sacrifice human companionship for digital company. Over time, all these habits can wreak havoc on our health.

We hunch over their screens, gaze at their blue-tinted light, and sacrifice human companionship for digital company. Over time, all these habits can wreak havoc on our health.

Luckily, you can avoid some of these negative effects without entirely relinquishing your pocket computer’s company. Here’s how to protect your health from your smartphone.

Improve your posture

How do you stand or sit when you’re occupied with your smartphone? If you bend over the screen, neck cricked, then you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, this unnatural position, dubbed “text neck,” could be causing an increasing number of neck and spine injuries, research suggests. As we gaze down at our phones for hours every day, we’re reversing the typical backward curve of the neck, Todd Lanman, spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told Reuters last year.

He has a fix, although it might attract a few odd looks from the people around you. Keep your phone at eye level when texting, emailing, or social networking (the higher you hold your phone, the better). This habit lets you hold your head up and your shoulders back, as you should when you’re trying to sit ergonomically at your computer.

The posture coaches at Vertical Align also recommend that you hold your phone at eye level. In addition, they suggest that, while standing, you keep your arms close to your body. When you’re sitting, lean forward—again with your phone at eye level—with your elbows supported on your knees.

Your hand position also matters. Experts also recommend operating your phone with two hands in symmetrical positions. This spreads out the strain on the arms and spine. If you’re tapping and swiping with one hand, according to the Vertical Align team, you should switch hands regularly.

Cutting down on prolonged smartphone sessions will also help improve your posture and prevent other potential problems like eye strain. Essentially, you should avoid spending extended periods staring down at your phone. If you must use your phone, break up the time with small stretches, such as rolling your neck.

Reduce blue light

The sun and your digital devices both emit short-wavelength high-energy blue light. These waves are great when they’re coming from our star—they help us stay awake during daylight hours by blocking the brain’s production of melatonin, which makes us sleepy. But when the light keeping you up is coming from a screen as you lie in bed, that’s not so good. Darkness naturally makes us sleepy, and staring at a phone late at night interferes with that.

That’s not all. Recent research has identified a process through which too much blue light can significantly damage cells in the eye. If the light kills off enough of these photoreceptor cells, scientists say, it can cause serious conditions like macular degeneration.

Luckily, both Android and iOS come with settings that can help reduce your exposure to blue light.

On an Android device, head to Settings > Display > Night Light. Select Turn on now to change the screen’s color to an amber tint, reducing the blue-wavelength light it emits. To schedule this change so it occurs automatically at a certain time of day, tap Schedule.

For iOS, you’ll find a similar option called Night Shift. Access it by going to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. To switch it on only when you need it, tap Manually Enable Until Tomorrow. Or make it turn on and off automatically by hitting Scheduled.

These color-changing options should reduce the damage blue light does to your eyes and sleeping patterns. But we’d recommend restricting your nighttime phone use as well. No matter what light settings you adjust, keeping your mind racing with social media or Netflix shows isn’t the best preparation for a smooth night’s sleep. With that in mind, think about replacing that late-night Twitter check with a book or asking your Amazon Echo to read the evening news aloud so you don’t have to look at the text.

Manage screen time

One of the best ways to protect your health from your phone is to use the gadget less frequently. To help with this goal, both iOS and Android are introducing so-called “digital wellness” tools that inform you about and help you limit your smartphone use. However, you may not be able to access them just yet. Apple’s new suite, called Screen Time, will appear in the iOS 12 update due to roll out in September; Google’s version, an app dubbed Digital Wellbeing, is in beta testing, so you need to install Android 9 Pie on a Google Pixel phone in order to try it out.

When you get the iOS update, you’ll be able to play around with it by heading to Settings > Screen Time. It will display your daily device usage, broken down into app categories, such as gaming or education. Tap the name of your device at the top of the screen to see additional stats: weekly usage, lists of the most frequently-used apps, and charts showing how frequently you pick up your phone and receive notifications. To restrict the amount of time you spend on a given app, tap that program and then hit Add Limit. You can also set limits by category by heading to the front page of the Screen Time menu and tapping App Limits. Once you reach your time limit, the apps in question will appear grayed-out on the home screen, although you can manually override this block.

When your Android phone receives an update that will enable its time-management app, you’ll see a new Digital Wellbeing entry in Settings. Here, you can view recent information on the apps you’ve used, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received. Tap on the pie chart that displays this information to access a more detailed day-by-day breakdown, and swipe right to see your statistics over the previous days and weeks. As on iOS, you can set limits: Tap the No timer button next to a given app. Again, when you reach that limit, the app appears grayed out, and launching it produces a deterrent message. To override your self-imposed limits, you need to go back to the Digital Wellbeing menu and disable the timer.

Both Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing also include tools—Downtime on iOS and Wind Down on Android—that wean you off evening phone time by blocking your app access after a certain hour. Wind Down can also also gray-out the screen or switch into Night Light mode during that time.

While you wait for the Android and iOS tools to arrive, try a third-party creation like the free app Flipd, which gently nudges you when you’ve spent too long on your phone, or the $2 purchase Forest, which encourages you to take breaks by growing a virtual forest when your phone is idle. For more options, check out this list of time-management apps.

Cite: Popular Science, August 31, 2018

11 Grocery Shopping Mistakes That Are Wrecking Your Diet.

 

We’ve all gone to the grocery store for two things – and walked out with a cart full of snacks we didn’t exactly need. Here is  how to plan your next trip for a smarter haul.

1. You forgot to eat lunch.Healthy eating tips

Yes, you may have heard the “don’t go grocery shopping when you’re starving” thing before — but there’s a good reason for it. Not only are you susceptible to overspending, but you’re also more likely to overeat what you do bring home. So whenever you’re heading to the store, make sure you’ve had a snack or a meal first — your wallet and waistline will thank you.

2. You’re unprepared.

Going to the supermarket without a list is like walking into the SATs without studying. (Well, close enough.) Feeling unprepared makes you vulnerable to poor choices — much like going in hungry! If that slip of paper usually gets left on the kitchen counter, make a list on your phone. Bonus: Then you can also use recipes from cooking apps or photos of favorite cookbook pages.

3. You start on aisle #5.

Bear with me: There’s a strategy to the way a supermarket is laid out. Shopping the perimeter first loads up the cart with the good stuff like fresh fruits and veggies, dairy products, and whole grains. Then, the chips, cookies, crackers, cakes, and soda that line the inner aisles have less room to squeeze into. This theory, also applies to mealtime, too: Fill your plate with with these healthy items, and leave whatever “room” you’ve got left for dessert.

That said, hit up perishable or frozen items last: That will help keep the food you’re prepping stay at the appropriate temperature. Safety first!

4. You beeline for the deli counter.

I’m always in favor of a good, healthy sandwich — but not all deli meats (and cheeses!) are created equal. Many can come loaded with sodium, so even if it’s something lower in fat (like turkey), it may still be chock-full of salt. The better bet: Rotisserie chicken or roast beef. To top it off, pick reduced-sodium cheeses, or swap those slices for 2 tablespoons of hummus or a couple slices of avocado.

5. You’re only shopping “organic.”

Sure, buying organic foods can be beneficial and sometimes safer. But keep in mind it’s most important to buy food that’s healthy. Don’t let the fact that a food is part of the “dirty dozen” (like spinach or kale) keep you from just buying the regular version if your budget doesn’t allow for organic right now. All or nothing attitudes for food and health may not be 100% sustainable for your lifestyle 100% of the time. (Plus, organic food may not be worth the skyrocketing costs.) The bottom line is that some veggies always beat no veggies in your cart!

6. You skimmed the nutrition facts — but not the ingredients.

Fruit juice concentrate and puree aren’t technically added sugar according to the FDA, but they add extra calories to a food item you could eat in a more nutritious form. For example, look for fruit-based products that say “mangoes” or “strawberries” as the first ingredient instead of mango or strawberry puree, and avoid ingredients like “apple juice concentrate.”

7. You’ve stocked up on the wrong things.

I’m looking at you, “lower-calorie,” “reduced fat,” and 100-calorie packs. Let me explain: Those tiny packs are often unsatisfying empty calories, so you’re more likely to blow through a couple at once. If you’re looking for a snack that will give you a real energy boost, go for protein and fiber combos, like fruit with peanut butter or cheese with whole-grain crackers. 

And the same goes for low-cal and reduced fat items. Without the fat, they’re often not as filling so it’s easier to overdo it. Also, when you remove the fat, it’s typically replaced with something — usually sugar. (Frozen yogurt is the worst culprit.) Unless you’re choosing items that cut down on fat without added sweeteners or fillers (good examples include light mayonnaise, low-fat milk, or popcorn made with less oil), you may be better off with the real thing.

8. You’re skipping the freezer aisle.

Sure, you’re avoiding the temptations of ice cream, pizza, and a slate of other treats that remind you of childhood. While I can’t fault your risk aversion, you’re missing out on some frozen gems. They shouldn’t be the bulk of your grocery list, but frozen fruits and veggies along with breads, waffles, and pancakes made from 100% whole grains, and even a single-serving ice cream sandwich can help you make smarter choices.

9. You skipped the canned goods.

First, stop judging: This aisle has more than the slimy green beans of your childhood memories! Canned beans, lentils, chickpeas, and fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, and anchovies) can be incredibly healthy and convenient. Plus, my personal favorite canned food is pumpkin — try it in Greek yogurt with cinnamon and a little honey! Just look for lower-sodium options (140 milligrams or less of salt per serving), canned in water when possible, and drain and rinse before eating.

10. You bought it “on sale.”

Would you normally eat that? If not, a sale isn’t enough reason. When it comes to discount items, double up on things you know you’ll use and that are good for you, like eggs, yogurt, canned or frozen foods, and pantry items like nuts and nut butters.

11. You didn’t make an impulse purchase.

Listen, those little last-minute buys at the checkout line (including the latest issue of Good Housekeeping!) can be well worth it — if you do it right. You’ve already got a cart full of good foods you need, and none of the bad stuff you don’t. So it’s okay to buy a single-serving chocolate bar or candy. Why? Because when you skip large quantities of fatty processed foods, sugary beverages, and other sneaky stuff, you leave room for a smart indulgence that satisfies your sweet tooth and won’t make you feel deprived. So, enjoy!

By Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute/ Aug 9, 2018

 

Science Says Your Pet Is Good for Your Mental Health

Being a pet in America is a plum gig. Pets are incredibly well loved: according to a 2015 Harris poll, 95% of owners think of their animal as a member of the family. About half buy them birthday presents. And it’s a two-way street. People who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure, heart rate and heart-disease risk than those who don’t. Those health boons may come from the extra exercise that playing and walking require, and the stress relief of having a steady best friend on hand.
Scientists are now digging up evidence that animals can also help improve mental health, even for people with challenging disorders.

Though the studies are small, the benefits are impressive enough that clinical settings are opening their doors to animal-assisted interventions–peFour pugst therapy, in other words–used alongside conventional medicine. “It used to be one of the great no-no’s to think of an animal in a hospital,” says Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, citing the fear of causing infection. “Now, I don’t know of any major children’s hospital that doesn’t have at least some kind of animal program.”

The rise of animal therapy is backed by increasingly serious science showing that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two. Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between.
More research is needed before scientists know exactly why it works and how much animal interaction is needed for the best results. But published studies show that paws have a place in medicine and in mental well-being. “The data is strong,” Beck says. “If you look at what animals do for people and how we interact with them, it’s not surprising at all.” Here’s a look some of the cutting-edge science in the field.

Rabbits

In one study, a stressed-out group of adults were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle or their toy forms. The toys had no effect. But stroking a living creature, whether hard-shelled or furry, relieved anxiety. It worked for people regardless of whether they initially said they liked animals.

Crickets

Animals don’t have to be cuddly to help. In a 2016 study published in the journal Gerontology, elderly people who were given five crickets in a cage became less depressed after eight weeks than a control group. The act of caring for a living creature seems to make the difference.

Horses

Among the most-studied therapy animals, horses have been involved in medical treatment plans in Europe since the 1860s. Activities like grooming a horse and leading one around a pen have been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents.

Fish

Animals can focus people’s attention. When people at an Alzheimer’s-disease facility dined in front of aquariums with brightly colored fish, they ate more, got better nutrition and were less prone to pacing. They were also more attentive and less lethargic.

Dogs

Some research suggests that when children who struggle with reading read aloud to a trained dog and handler, they show fewer anxiety symptoms. “Their attitudes change and their skills improve,” says Lisa Freeman, director of the Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction.

Animals make socializing easier for kids who find it stressful, says Maggie O’Haire of Purdue. In her study, when children with autism had a guinea pig in the classroom, they were more social with their peers, smiled and laughed more, and showed fewer signs of stress.

This appears in the April 17, 2017 issue of TIME

10 Tips for a Healthier Weekend

10 Tips for a Healthier Weekend

We all know how it goes. You make good food choices, avoid temptations, and work out every morning only to find that on Friday or Saturday night, your willpower goes out the window. Somehow you begin noshing on chicken fingers and guzzling beer then snoozing through your Spinning class the next morning. Sound familiar?

The weekend sure can pose a challenge to our health and weight-loss goals. Why? Well, during the week, we tend to plan ahead and follow a schedule. We get up, eat breakfast, head to work, eat planned snacks during our breaks, enjoy lunch at the same scheduled time each day, and find ways to squeeze in a little exercise. Many of us even pack a whole day’s worth of food and do pretty well at making healthy decisions day to day.

Couple jumping in to pool

During the weekend, it might seem that all bets are off. Without a set schedule (and more opportunities for temptation) one weekend can easily undo a whole week of healthy habits.

But weekends don’t have to be this way. In fact, weekends are a great time to practice healthy behaviors because you usually have more time to do so.

So, how do you change your unhealthy weekend habits? A good start would be to begin incorporating these healthy weekend tips so you can stay healthy—and on track!

1. Squeeze in a longer workout.

The best part of the weekend is that you have more free time. So while you might not be able to squeeze in a 30-minute run over lunch during the week, you can use the weekend to go for a longer run at a beautiful park nearby. Or go to the gym to try a new hour-long class. Use the weekend as a time to refresh your workout and get more activity in without feeling rushed.

2. Eat like it’s a weekday.

When you think about it, it doesn’t really make much sense to eat differently on the weekend than you do during the week—especially if your food choices during the week keep you fueled and energized. It can be easy to skip meals on the weekend and then make up for it later by overindulging at dinner. So, make a point to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while sitting down. Pack snacksfor when you’re on the go, and follow a schedule just like you would during the week. Your body will thank you!

3. Stick to your usual sleep schedule.

Are you someone who has a firm bedtime during the week only to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends? Changing your sleep patterns could throw off your schedule (hard to eat breakfast when you get up at noon!), and could also interfere with weight loss. Just think of all those times you stayed up later than usual, got hungry and ended up eating something unhealthy! Changing your sleep schedule can also make it harder to fall asleep on Sunday night which could set you up for a tired Monday.

4. Get outdoors.

Because most of us work indoors during the daylight hours, the weekend provides a nice opportunity to get outside, see the sun and connect with nature. Heading outside can boost your body’s production of vitamin D, plus studies show that people are happier when they spend time out in nature. So, get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

5. Fuel yourself for weekday success.

Ask yourself honestly if you pushed yourself too hard with workouts or restricted your food or calories too much during the week. If so, come Friday, your body may be hungry and tired, which can lead to overeating and underexercising on the weekend. Remember to practice moderation every day, eating and exercising in a way that you can sustain for the long haul—not just a few days or weeks.

6. Limit your drinks.

While many of us forgo the soda, beer and wine during the week, we loosen up over the weekend and drink more of our calories. Just remember that the calories in beverages can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Go easy on the drinks, or try healthier drink swaps if you just can’t forgo that fancy coffee or sweet tea on Saturday! Practice moderation when it comes to alcohol, too. Just because you were “good” during the week doesn’t mean that it’s OK to make up for that with one night of all-out binge drinking. Here’s what you need to know about fitting alcohol into a healthy diet.

7. Plan for relaxation.

Most of us are busy during the week and even our weekends seem to become non-stop errands, chores, work and travel. So how do you find time to relax? Take the whole weekend (or at least part of it) to schedule some downtime for at least an hour or two. Whether it’s practicing your favorite hobby, seeing a movie with friends or even meditating quietly, do something every weekend that recharges you. You’ll not only feel better, but also beat stress (which may also ) help you drop a few pounds.

8. Break the on-again, off-again diet mentality.

If you have a history in yo-yo dieting, make sure that you’re not alternating between being “good” and “bad” throughout the course of a week. View the weekend as time for you—not a time to rebel or “cheat” on your diet and exercise plan. Remember that being at a healthy weight is about sustainable healthy lifestyle changes, not just a diet and exercise plan that you can maintain Monday through Friday. Revisit your goals and recommit to making healthy and realistic choices every day that set you up for success in the long term.

9. Weigh in Monday morning.

If you need extra help being accountable over the weekend, schedule your weekly weigh-in for Monday morning. Knowing that you’ll step on the scale at the start of the week can help you to stay accountable and be more aware of your weekend choices.

10. Plan for the week ahead.

What better way to stay healthy on the weekend than by using your extra time to continue to set yourself up for success? Take a Sunday afternoon or evening to plan your meals, hit the grocery store, and do some big batch cooking for the week ahead. That way, when your busy week gets even busier, you’ll already be ahead of the curve and able to stay on track! Don’t forget about laundering your workout clothes, packing your gym bag, and getting prepared for workouts, too.

Follow these ideas to get on a healthy track this weekend, and revisit this list to stay healthy for many more weekends to come!
 

Cite:  Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor 3/8/2011 SparkPeople