Posts tagged under Health. Show all posts.
With the New Year around the corner you are probably planning your most Savvy resolution to date. This year you will make a plan and stick to it, but before you go crunching that heart out, or latching on to the next craze diet, try these seven tips to flatten your tummy, and help your resolution become a reality.
So make a resolution this year that is not only going to help you get your pre-baby tummy back, but will help you feel healthier too, and all without doing the dreaded crunches.
As a trainer and mom, kegels are very close to my heart (not physically, but emotionally). This muscle needs to be tightened and toned for prenatal, postnatal and beyond. Pelvic floor muscles are just like other muscles: exercise makes them stronger, and kegels are an exercise that you can begin at any age or fitness level. The muscles in your pelvis attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bone. The two most important muscles in postnatal recovery are the transverse abdominus (the sling muscles that held your baby in your belly as you grew) and the kegels. In order to engage your kegels, you must engage your transverse, so it’s a win-win when you practice your kegels.
Remembering to work on your kegels can be challenging, so make a daily schedule that includes time for them. Make sure taking care of you doesn’t fall off the list in 2010.
For some of us (lucky ones), it’s time to take a break from the winter and get some sun. Travelling now with kids means added craziness and complexity—but some things, such as which sunscreen to take and why, remain the same. I am often asked the questions: how do sunscreens work, and which ones should I use for myself and for my kids?
First, you need to understand SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Think of a timeline where 0 minutes equals no sun, and the end point (i.e. 10 minutes) is when you would start to burn without any sunscreen. With an SPF of 8, this becomes a multiplication of that original scale—so now 10 minutes times 8 equals 80 minutes where you could go out in the sun before burning. But if you are very fair skinned and usually burn in that 10 minutes, then with a SPF 8, you would start to burn at around 80 minutes. This is likely not enough protection for you. If that same person used SPF 40, this provides 400 minutes of sun protection, or just under 7 hours. Depending on your day, where you are, and what you are doing, this is probably okay. This also means that when you get beyond SPF 50, there is really not much of an added benefit based on the length of time for protection.
Also, re-application does not mean you can stop the clock and start at 0 again. If during your sun exposure you go swimming or are very active and sweating, re-application is necessary—but you are just continuing the timeline from where you left off. So the decision on what level SPF you will need really depends on how long you expect to be out in the sun (and it’s always best to err on the side of caution).
So which sunscreen to use? Personally, I don’t believe that sunscreens should be used on children under 6 months of age. Put clothing on them and keep them in the shade. Also, you don’t need separate sunscreens for the grown-ups and the kids. I always choose from the kids’ section for my whole family for the following reasons:
Here’s also one last emergency tip. If you are out with your toddler and have forgotten the sunscreen but have diaper rash cream on hand, check if it contains zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a natural physical sunblock. A 7% zinc oxide content is around an SPF 30. It’s great in a pinch.
Since the time of Cleopatra, women have been trying to unlock the secrets to beauty. Here are a few questions that I get asked a lot, with answers that may surprise you.
Q: Does drinking eight glasses of water improve your skin?
A: No it does not. Although drinking eight glasses of water is definitely good for your digestion/elimination, it does nothing to hydrate your skin directly.
Q: Is eating chocolate bad for your skin?
A: Hallelujah no. In fact, having a piece of dark chocolate every day is actually good for you—as the cocoa contains high amounts of antioxidants. But remember, the more refined sugar you have in your diet in general, the more it can affect your hormones, which could cause breakouts.
Q: Do models really use hemorrhoid creams under their eyes to reduce puffiness?
A: That is, thankfully, an urban myth. Interestingly enough, those creams do often contain yeast extract which is a good source of Betaglucan, a very good antioxidant that also helps improve skin tone and texture, and is often found in high-end eye creams for that reason. That said, I would stick to the eye creams.
Q: I have a pimple, should I put toothpaste on it to get rid of it?
A: No, please don’t. Toothpaste will dry out the skin and cause irritation around that pimple, which leaves you with two problems instead of one. Acne preparations that have a low pH are good, but for a simple ‘take the redness down trick’, put some Visine/Clear Eyes on a Q-Tip and dab it on the area. The puffiness and redness will go right down and you can easily re-apply during the day. It’s great for sensitive skin, as these products have been tested and approved for use in the eye.
In honour of Earth Day, I have some simple suggestions on how to ‘green’ your home and improve your family’s overall health.
Still rocking the Teflon, non-stick pan set from your wedding registry? Stainless steel, cast iron, and the latest in earth-friendly cookware are a better alternative. The ‘King of Non-Stick’, Teflon, is produced with highly toxic chemicals that are a likely human carcinogen. While on the topic, avoid using the self-clean option on your oven because these ovens are lined with non-stick services that emit toxic fumes during the ‘cleaning’ process.
Avoid using chemicals to mask odours. Room deodorizers (or plug-ins) are the worst culprits for spritzing chemicals around a room. Instead, open your windows and let the sunshine and fresh air into your home. Sunlight is a natural killer of bacteria. Fresh air and plants will also remove odour, improve air quality, and save you money!
There’s no need for fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Dryer sheets provide a double whammy of skin irritation and airborne toxins for your family to ingest. Walk around your neighborhood on a beautiful, clear morning and you’ll smell the homes that are using dryer sheets from outside. Think of how high the chemical concentrate from those sheets must be if you can smell it in that context. There are healthier alternatives to keeping your clothes soft.
Start cleaning and laundering with eco-friendly cleaners. Not only will the fish thank you, but your health will improve, too. And your children can safely help you clean using a microfibre cloth or washing dishes with eco-friendly soap because the toxic ingredients are gone.
Being green definitely has its benefits.
Candles are often overlooked as a cause of poor indoor air quality and can affect our health. Paraffin candles are unfortunately the predominant ones on our shelves. Why? Paraffin is cheap—it’s basically the final by-product in the petroleum refining chain…petroleum sludge, if you will. When paraffin candles are burned, they emit toxins and soot that is harmful to our health (think second-hand tobacco smoke). Why would you want that on your birthday cake as everyone important to you gathers around?
When we make better choices and buy, for example, beeswax candles, we support beekeepers and bees, and they are better for our world and the air we breathe in our homes. Pretty simple. Beeswax candles leave your air fresher and cleaner—they are a true air purifier and they are the only candle for those with chemical sensitivities or allergies. Also, make sure to select 100% pure beeswax (candles can be labelled as beeswax candles even with only 10% beeswax and many are blended with cheap paraffin to cut costs).
Beeswax may be more expensive, but they have a much slower burn rate, so you’ll be able to use them over and over again.
Light, burn safely, blow out. And repeat often. Celebrate happily and in good health, for you and the world.
What shades are in your shopping cart? What is the actual colour of your food?
In the kitchen and on your plate, everything looks better in colour. I’m thinking field greens, delicious tomatoes, yellow peppers, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe and so on. I am not referring to neon-coloured food products and beverages like blue power drinks, though. As you reach for coloured foods, consider how they artificially colour and flavour that stuff.
For decades, there have been studies about food dyes and their link to cancers, allergies, and behavioural issues in children, not to mention their affect on our world in production alone. The results and linkages are astounding, and regardless of the ability for companies to claim that they are safe, you are still taking a risk on your body and on your kids’ bodies that you might not want to take.
In the EU and UK, the big companies have already started phasing dyes and other toxins out of their products…because their population has demanded it. Remember, we might expect to find toxic stuff in junk food (candy, cakes, cocktails), but it’s important that you read up on your yogurt, cheeses, vitamins, and even crackers…be your own best advocate and read the label every time. You will surprise yourself!
These are the colourings that I deem acceptable for my family:
These are the absolute “not in my shopping cart” ingredients:
Although I encourage you to be colourful, don’t paint your plate by number, use your own palette.
There is nothing more exhausting about motherhood (the early years) than having a baby who will not sleep and then spending those half-conscious waking moments trying to find a sane solution to the sleeplessness.
Let’s forget the books, the Google-ing, other mother declarations (or maybe your mother’s two cents worth) for now. Instead, let’s focus on the here and now on what is right in front of you.
Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective—attune yourself more closely to your baby’s experiences to turn on that ‘night light’. Here’s my mommy brief on some of baby’s key senses. There are actually 11, but here are the top five:
Good to know: Babies will hone their senses between four to seven months of age. Tune in next week for more on sleep and your baby.
When it’s time to introduce your baby to solids, there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Regardless of whether it’s your first or your fourth time, you can make it fun, and it doesn’t hurt to review these simple steps.
What to Feed?
This tends to be the biggest question of all, and recommendations vary widely on what to start with. Iron-fortified rice cereal is the most common recommendation, because it is least likely to cause allergic reactions.
Where to Feed?
This is much more important than you think. You are teaching good eating habits which begin with structure in a common ‘eating’ area. Babies and children like to know what to expect. When they are at the kitchen table, they will learn what to expect and what is expected from them.
When to Feed?
Pediatricians now recommend introducing solids at six months. This is to encourage breast-feeding for longer periods, and research shows that it’s not necessary to introduce solids earlier. Speak with your family doctor, pediatrician or a dietitian if you need some guidance.
How to Make?
Make your own, buy jarred or frozen baby food as you feel comfortable. Give your baby a spoon, too, so they feel they are a part of the experience. Think calm, quiet and consistent:
Introducing solids definitely has its challenges, but by setting proper expectations for both yourself and your baby, you will have more success in the long run.
I’m just like every other parent—busy. We have two children, Beckett who is turning three soon and Zoë, almost two. I work full-time for CTV and I’m eight-months pregnant with baby number three.
Although I believe that you can have it all, I also believe that some things have to be prioritized. I never go to after-work parties, restaurant openings, fashion shows, movies—all the events I went to before I had kids. I come straight home every single night because I want to put my kids to bed—and because I’m so freaking tired. I’m a natural homebody, so this is easy for me.
I choose sleep over the gym. I’d rather be chubby and well-rested than skinny and tired. I have great support. My husband and I have weird hours, so we are lucky to have family close by. We also chose to have a nanny and put Beckett in part-time daycare because it has been instrumental in his growth. Beckett has Down syndrome, so anything we can do to encourage and nurture his development is a priority in our family.
Some tips that help me find balance:
Finding balance is truly a work in progress.
It’s not easy to get up and read a personal story about your post-baby marriage breakdown in front of a group of strangers. But that is what I regularly ask my writing students to do. Bare your soul on a piece of paper and then read it out loud. I give them topics and a time limit and they come back (mostly beginner writers) looking sheepish and scared. They always start off with a disclaimer: “I don’t really like this, but…” or “I didn’t really know what to say, but…”. Always, the stories are interesting. Always, the group of strangers becomes friends.
It’s amazing what sharing your personal stories can do to transform your confidence and your connections with other moms. Here’s a short-list of benefits to baring your soul:
We often hide from the truth, pretend everything is fine, believe we can manage. But motherhood is hard, and sharing our stories can help us connect and feel less isolated and alone.
Do we blame TV time, diet or busy parents? The failing grade that Active Healthy Kids Canada gives Canadian children each year causes lots of soul searching.
Why aren’t our children more active?
We’re asking the wrong question; it’s like asking “Why aren’t our kids reading more books?” when they can’t read. Canadian children are less physically active because they are less physically literate than previous generations.
Physical literacy doesn’t refer to specific sports skills, rather it is general physical competence and confidence. Think agility, balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, and speed (fundamental movement skills), coupled with a desire to be active.
Just like linguistic literacy, physical literacy is best developed from six months to six years of age when the mind and body are building foundations.
A physically literate child has the necessary motor skills and confidence to play any sport they choose recreationally, and a far greater chance of finding one where they excel.
If a child is not physically literate, they are tied to the few sports they acquired sport-specific skills from when young. If they lose interest, or if this sport doesn’t suit their physical strengths, they often lack the versatility to adopt a new sport.
The best route to physical literacy? According to Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development Plan, under sixes should spend most of their time at unstructured active (often outdoor) play. Varied movements and the capacity to hold children’s interest make active play the foundation of physical literacy. Go to the park, ride your bike, run in the sprinkler or play hide-and-seek outside. This play can be supplemented with well-structured programs that develop all fundamental movement skills (gymnastics and swimming are two good examples).
Help your child become physically literate by providing them with opportunities to acquire fundamental movement skills, solidify them through repetition and combine them through active play. Most importantly, make sure they are having fun.
Only when our children are given these tools, along with the knowledge that active play is fun, will we raise them to be active for life.
There are some pretty simple things parents can do at home to build their children’s physical literacy.
You can try a bit more structure by putting it all together into an obstacle course. Have your child help lay out the circuit or do it themselves. Unless it’s a matter of safety, don’t worry about showing your child the ‘right’ way to use sports’ equipment. A critical component of physical literacy is the ability to string movements together into different combinations. Building ‘circuits’ and creative use of equipment can jump start this process.
With your support, your child can gain a foundation of physical literacy that will allow them to enjoy a wide variety of sports (recreationally or competitively) for their entire lives. Canadian Sport for Life is a great resource for those interested in learning more.
Do you have a picky eater you’re trying to feed? Do you worry they’re either going to die of malnutrition, or from choking as you force food down their resisting throat?
Here are 10 tips that should help:
At some point, whether you’re ready or not, your toddler is going to declare an end to nap time. Here is some advice on weathering that transition stage.
From Two Naps to One
Most toddlers make the transition from two naps to one nap by the time they are 18 months old. This can be a tough time for you and your toddler. A toddler may not need that second nap every day, but if he goes too many days in a row with just one nap, he can become overtired and edgy (or fall asleep in the middle of dinner). At that point, anything even remotely resembling a routine goes out the window.
If you’ve eliminated the morning nap, try moving the afternoon nap ahead a little so that it occurs earlier in the afternoon. You may want to serve lunch a little earlier than you did when he was having a morning nap to ensure that your toddler will be in a reasonably cooperative mood when it’s time to eat. If he’s too tired, lunch could turn into a battle and your toddler may not want to eat at all. That could interfere with his afternoon nap. (If he hasn’t eaten anything for a couple of hours, he’ll wake up shortly after he’s fallen asleep because hunger will trump his need for some shut-eye.)
From One Nap to None
To figure out if your toddler is ready to give up that final nap, consider the following:
Your answers to these questions will help you to figure out whether your toddler is ready to ditch that final nap or whether he’d benefit from a bit of daytime shut-eye (or at least some daytime quiet time) for just a little while longer. Good luck!