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Tag Archive for: Healthy Lifestyle

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Better Health: Is There an App For That?

At this time of year people are focused on finding ways to improve their health and well-being.  A great way to facilitate this is through the use of technology, specifically helpful apps.  The App Store and Google Play Store feature thousands of apps for health, weight loss, smoking cessation, disease management and more, but how do you know which ones will actually help you reach your goals?  Take a look at the following from MedScape which provides rankings of the top clinically rated apps for both health and wellness and condition management and try one today!

MedScape:  Healthcare Apps to Recommend to Patients

Have you found an app that has helped you improve your health?  Please comment — we’d love to know what has and hasn’t worked for you!

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No Excuses: Daily Healthy Activity Tracking Tool

In our busy day to day lives it can be difficult to make time to put yourself first.  Healthy habits such as hydration, exercise, sleep and “me time” often get put on the back-burner or forgotten as we spend our time getting stuff done.  However, to achieve optimal mental and physical health you need to put yourself first!  Use our printable Daily Health Tracker to help create healthy habits and keep yourself accountable to ensure you are getting daily physical activity, drinking enough water, achieving a proper sleep, and making time to do the things that make you happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools for both children and adults visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Forming Healthy Habits

In my work as an Occupational Therapist I am often asked to help people learn to manage or improve their behavior.  Things they want to stop or start doing, and how to get there, become the topic of our treatment sessions.  But my response in these situations is often the same and my approach is to encourage people make “lifestyle” and not just “behavior” changes when it comes to improving function or health.  After all, if behavior (be·hav·ior) is: “the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others” and a lifestyle (life·style) is: “the way in which a person or group lives”, then there is a difference between acting and living.  My job is to coach the latter.

Modifying behavior helps, but how do we turn this into a lifestyle?  By forming healthy habits.  In the words of Jim Rohn:   “motivation is what gets you started… Habit is what keeps you going!

Use our Daily Habit Tracker to help you work turn your new healthy habits into a lifestyle.

Simply print, fill in your goals or “habits” and record each day if these goals were or were not met.

Learn more about turning your healthy goals into lifestyle changes in our post:  Healthy is a Lifestyle, Not Just a Behaviour.

habit-trackerAccess more helpful tools for children and adults on our printable resources page.

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The Busy Community OT – Top Healthy and Fast Grab-and-Go Lunches Under 300 Calories

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

As a newer vegetarian, and someone who spends most days on the road, I am always looking for quick, but decent, lunch options.  While in an ideal world I would prepare my lunches and snacks ahead of time (including hand sanitizer!), sometimes life takes over and I am rushing out the door unprepared.  On some days that may result in me being undernourished and not eating again until dinner, on other days it does have me searching for healthy stuff en route.  So here is my list of the healthiest but fast meal options that are under 300 calories but can be grabbed quickly, as listed by restaurant name:

SUBWAY

Veggie Delight (whole wheat bread without cheese or mayonnaise) 230 Calories

MCDONALDS

Side Garden Salad (no dressing) 40 calories

Chipotle Chicken Snack Wrap® with Grilled Chicken 230 calories

Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap® 230 calories

WENDY’S

Full Asian Cashew Chicken Salad (no dressing) 190 calories

Chicken Go Wrap Grilled 260 calories

PITA PIT

Garden Pita (no cheese or condiments, whole wheat pita) 227 calories

Tuna Pita (no cheese or condiments, whole wheat pita) 285 calories

Turkey Breast (no cheese or condiments, whole wheat pita) 286 calories

STARBUCKS

Perfect Oatmeal (plain) 140 calories

Spinach, Roasted Tomato, Feta and Egg White Wrap 280 calories (my personal favorite with the nutrition value quickly wasted by my latte add-on).

TIM HORTONS

Chicken Ranch or Salad Wrap Snacker 190 calories

Chipotle Chicken Wrap Snacker 200 calories

Chili 290 calories

Soups (no bun) 80 – 230 calories

HARVEYS

Warm Grilled Chicken Salad (no dressing) 150 calories

Warm Grilled Chicken BLT Salad (no dressing) 210 calories

Grilled Chicken Sandwich (no cheese or condiments) 280 calories

BURGER KING

Tendergrill Caesar Salad (no dressing) 250 calories

Hamburger (no cheese or condiments) 260 calories

Veggie Burger (no cheese or condiments) 270 calories

QUIZNOS

No under 300 calorie meals.

Of course, calories are not the only consideration when consuming a healthy lunch.  However, this measure can provide an easy metric when looking for something fast while trying to avoid the unnecessary calories found in heavy carbs and bad-fat common to fast food meals.  For drinks, stick to water as not only is this often free (tap water) with your meal, but it provides an opportunity to rehydrate which is also important.

I hope this list helps you to also pick healthier options when on the road.

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The Work-Life Balance Myth

What is your impression of work-life balance? A lot of people find it a completely unrealistic goal that is impossible to achieve. Many people find life demands are simply keeping them too busy to take time to relax. As we talked about in a previous episode, stress can cause heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and immunity issues. Statistics Canada says that 1 in 4 adults reported high stress in 2013, and high stress means that your mental and physical health are declining.

The good news is that this is preventable. For a lot of people, their expectation of work-life balance is NOT realistic. You can’t expect to go to the gym 7 days a week, get 8 hours of sleep every night, meet every work deadline, and have the time to home-cook every meal. A common misconception of work-life balance is that it needs to happen every day, and that simply isn’t realistic. A more realistic goal may be to try to have a balanced week or month of work and leisure; it doesn’t need to happen all in one day.

We also need to change the way we think about work; instead of work-life balance we’ll be using the term stress-life balance. People that are unemployed by choice, students, and caregivers still experience stress-life balance, so we can’t attribute all stress to work even though it’s a common stressor for many.

One of the strategies OT’s use to make stress-life balance possible is to set SMART goals. A good goal should be:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

First, figure out what stresses you. This may seem simple, but get really specific. Does your job stress you out? What ABOUT your job stresses you out? When do your kids stress you out most? Make a list of what can be changed, and what can’t. Don’t say that nothing can be changed!

Next, understand what helps you de-stress. This is different for everyone. Some people need passive or relaxing leisure where they can shut their brains off; common examples of passive leisure are watching television, yoga, or going to the theatre. Some people need active leisure to de-stress, like going for a run, socializing with friends, or reading a favourite book.

Lastly, make a plan for how you can integrate more of those de-stressors into your life on a weekly or monthly basis. Also make a plan for how to reduce your stressors. Make sure this plan is a SMART plan, and you should be on your way to improving your mental and physical health. Occupational therapists know the evidence behind de-stressing, and which activities give you the most bang for your buck when you’re low on time.

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Laughter Is The Best Medicine!

Tomorrow is April 1st and you know what that means–  April Fools!  April Fools day is a day for pranks, jokes and laughter.  It may also be one of the healthiest days of the year as laughter is often felt to be “the best medicine.”  Check out the following from The Huffington Post which discusses the health benefits of laughter.   Make sure to have some fun and create some laughs today!

The Huffington Post:  Why Laughing Is Good For Your Health

 

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National Non-Smoking Week– Be a Quitter!

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

National Non-Smoking week aside, are you ready to butt out?  According to Smoke Free Ontario, smoking takes approximately 13000 lives in Ontario each and every year.  However, the good news is that the number of smokers continues to decrease yearly, and is currently at 18.1%.  Are you in for reducing this number further?

Apparently, quitting smoking is extremely difficult and many need to try different approaches before finally kicking the habit.  For many smokers it becomes more about the habit and the behavior, than the nicotine itself.  So how can you butt out?  Our team of experienced Occupational Therapists have some great solutions for you to try:

1.    Make Your Intentions Public:  The decision to quit takes a great deal of courage and should be celebrated.  Make your intentions public within your family or friends, or by using social media for a larger reach.  By making your goal to quit public it will help hold you accountable and to draw on those close to you to lean on for support.

2.    Devise a Plan:  Quitting cold turkey can be extremely difficult.  We recommend that you create a monthly or weekly plan to reduce your intake and set you well on your way.  This might be as simple as reducing one cigarette per day for a week or a month, then reducing again etc.

3.    Identify Triggers:  While working through your monthly or weekly plan to reduce the amount of cigarettes you consume, ensure you are keeping track of the amount you smoke each day, the times of day you smoke and what in your environment has triggered you to have a cigarette.  Tracking any behavior is the best way to isolate it and is the first step to making improvements.

4.    Modify your environment to help reduce these triggers:  After conducting your research look closely at the time of day, environment, people, stressors or other triggers that promoted your need or wanting to smoke. Is it possible to change your situation or environment to avoid these triggers moving forward?

5.    Work to reduce stress:  Many smoke as a reaction to stress.  Finding ways to reduce stress, such as meditation and mindfulness practice, taking a hot bath, or breathing exercises can help you to reduce this trigger.

6.    Find a healthier habit:  If it’s the “break” you find is your trigger try finding a different way to take 5 minutes to yourself.  Take a quick walk, try yoga poses, grab a warm beverage, phone a friend or practice breathing exercises instead.

7.    Seek Support:  By making your intentions to quit public you have opened yourself up to a group of family and friends to rely on and assist you in your goal to quit.  If these sources are not available, try phoning the Smokers Hotline or join a support group to speak with someone who can help you through your craving and keep you smoke free.

8.    Seek an Alternative Solution:  There are so many different products in the marketplace to assist you with quitting such as:  gums, e-cigarettes, inhalers, and patches.  Find which one works for you and rely on this to assist you along the way.

9.    Speak to Your Doctor:  Your family doctor is a great resource and will gladly support you in your quest to break the habit.  Speak with your doctor about the alternative solutions and medications that exist that can help you quit.  Your doctor may also connect you to OHIP-funded resources that you can access to support you in your quest.

10.  Celebrate Your Success:  Ensure that along the way you celebrate any milestones you have reached.  If you’ve worked for a week or a month to cut your daily intake by 5 cigarettes, reward yourself and share your news with those you love.  This will help to keep you focussed and lead to further success!

11.   Reword the goal if needed:  Yes “quitting smoking” might be the BIG goal, but under this there are layers of other goals that you can focus on that might seem less intimidating and are more fun to measure.  Maybe your smaller goals include walking upstairs without becoming breathless, having whiter teeth, or not wanting your clothing or home to smell like cigarette smoke.  Perhaps if you relate to a more practical goal that is tangible, measurable, and visible to others, your motivation might be enhanced.

12.   Watch for other bad habits to surface:  Sometimes when trying to move from one bad habit we pick up another.  With any reduction in a negative behavior there will be withdrawal.  Accept this and cope through it for the days it lasts, knowing that those symptoms too shall pass.  But when struggling through withdrawal, try not to adopt another bad habit as a coping mechanism.  Switching from smoking to eating unhealthy food or consuming more alcohol will not help you to achieve the ultimate result you want which is to improve your health.

13.   Don’t just change your behavior, change your LIFESTYLE:  Adopting a new way of living, and talking to others about this, is far more impactful and motivating then talking about a behavior change.  When people say “I am trying to lose weight” it is not nearly as impactful as “I have a sugar-free lifestyle” or “I have changed my lifestyle to achieve my health goals”.  Make a LIFESTYLE change to be healthy and let the behaviors follow.

14.  If at first you don’t succeed… try try again!

For more resources and tips to help you along the way visit www.smokershelpline.ca or www.quitnow.ca.

We wish you the best of luck and encourage you to BE A QUITTER this 2016!

 

Originally posted, January 2015.

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The Gifts of Music

Studies show that playing a musical instrument, at any skill level, can benefit your health in many ways including:  lowered stress, increased concentration, heightened math and reading skills, and more.  However, access to musical instruments can be difficult based on cost and availability.

Learn how one man’s legacy is inspiring instrument lending libraries across Canada aimed at helping others gain access to this excellent and healthy hobby.

The Globe and Mail:  Instrument-lending programs spreading at libraries across Canada

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Top Tips to Achieve your Healthy Resolutions

It’s easy to think of resolutions each new year.  We all have vices, bad habits, and things we know we can improve upon or want to change about ourselves.  The hard part is achieving these goals, especially as we move further away from January 1st.

The majority of resolutions tend to focus upon creating a healthier diet, getting more exercise and other activities that lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.  The following from Eat Right Ontario provides some great tips that can help you to achieve these healthier lifestyle goals in 2016.

Eat Right Ontario:  Resolutions you can live by

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Never Stop Learning

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Over the holidays we were prepping for a family ski trip.  Our children are not yet skiers, and were asking us questions about our upcoming adventure.  My oldest daughter asked my husband “Daddy, have you ever fallen when you ski”?  His response was “Of course…that is why I am a good skier – if you are not falling you are not learning anything”.  So true.

His comment got me thinking about fear, risk and how people learn.  We need to fall to know how to get back up.  We need to fail to know how to succeed.  We need to make bad decisions to know how to do it right the next time.  We need to lose money to know how to keep it.

Humans seem especially good at falling, failing and learning as children, teens and young adults – provided the people in their environment provide them with these valuable opportunities.  As adults we tend to fall and fail in our early careers, social and personal lives while we learn how to behave as an adult and to manage our growing responsibilities like work, families, homes, etc.  Then we seem to reach an age where we become teachers, leading the younger generations to grow as we have.  We still need to gain knowledge during this time, but ultimately we might be revered as wise for all we already know.  But then do we stop learning?  Or stop having the will to learn?  Do we reach a point of “knowing it all”?

I will use another example to explain why I ask these important questions.  I have a close friend whose elderly grandparents are struggling to manage in their home.  They both have health issues and struggle to mobilize, access their upper level, get into the community, and cannot care for their home as they need to.  Family is providing a significant amount of support while living in a state of constant worry.  Really, the couple are one fall or new health problem away from losing their home and being institutionalized.  My friend mentioned to the daughter of this couple that an Occupational Therapist could provide valuable insight into how they might be able to manage more safely and independently so they can stay at home.  The daughter replied “Oh, they would never go for that”.  How sad.  This couple are unwilling to learn.

With a background in Gerontology (the study of aging), I understand fully the challenges most of us will face as we age.  And as an Occupational Therapist (the study of human function) I also understand the difficulties of living with a physical, cognitive, emotional or behavioral disability – age related or not.  But the big difference I see between my younger and older clients is their willingness to learn.  My younger clients seem to want to learn what I know, they appreciate how I can help, and engage in the process of working with me to make things better.  Yet my older clients are historically much less open to suggestions.  It is more difficult to get them to consider alternative ways to manage, devices that might help, or to accept assistance to do activities that are now unsafe for them to do on their own.  My funniest example of this was a 96 year old client that told me “scooters are for old people”.

I consider myself a life-long learner.  I recently finished my MBA, am constantly reading books about business, health and wellness, I take great interest in the stories and experiences of other people, take courses, attend conferences.  I just hope that when I reach that wonderful age of ultimate maturity I will continue to appreciate the value that other people can bring to my life and situation.  And hopefully I will accept suggestions, input and ideas proactively.  Because while falling is one way to learn – like when skiing – the older we are the harder it is to get back up again.