Nature Improves Sleep

hiking

 

Recent findings suggest the closer you live to nature, the better you sleep.

 

The study hasn’t confirmed whether it’s just the natural environment helping you sleep or if living in nature or green spaces results in you getting outside and being more active.

 

Sleep is so important to your health. Lack of sleep reduces your brain power. You not only lower your IQ, you may become forgetful and even depressed. Impaired judgement can also lead to accidents. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain, speed up the aging process and even increase the potential for heart disease.

 

If you currently don’t live near any green spaces, take some time during the day to get outside. It may improve your sleep and your health.

Is Coloring Good for your Health?

 coloring book

One of the latest trends is coloring books for adults. Many swear it has a positive effect on their health.

 

At 18 years old, I was in the hospital recovering from an appendectomy. I woke up to my boyfriend handing me a coloring book and a 64 pack of crayons with a sharpener in the back. Surprised, I asked him why he brought them to me and he responded “you asked for them, being very specific to get the 64 pack of crayons with a sharpener in the back”. I don’t remember asking for this, but I admit I was on heavy pain killers. Interestingly, I found coloring to be very soothing and distracting during my 1 week stay in the hospital.


My older sister was in the hospital a couple weeks ago and when asked if she wanted anything, she answered a coloring book and colored pencils. No, she wasn’t aware that I asked a similar question years ago! She too found it comforting through her recovery.

 

The latest claim is that coloring reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, decreases anxiety, improves fine motor skills and increases the focus of the brain. It’s considered meditative and centering, just as you would experience in a yoga session.

 

This isn’t just considered a solo activity. “Colorists”, as they call themselves, started coloring groups in which multiple colorists get together to color. They’ve been known to group at work, at the local café and even at bars.

 

Coloring books have been used therapeutically by psychologists for their patients for the last hundred years, but this latest fad brought out many concerned psychologists who fear patients may self-prescribe coloring in place of true discussion therapy.

 

Is coloring for you? Maybe, if you are one of those people who just needs a break from this crazy world and enjoys coloring, I say try it. 

 

Hierloom Beans ….More Color and Flavor

Beans

I’ve always been a big fan of beans. They have virtually no fat, provide a high amount of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians, are gluten free for people with celiac diseases and they are loaded with fiber and nutrients.

I really love the look of heirloom beans with the variety of colors and patterns. Although this picture shows a few different types you will be amazed doing an image search on the web. My favorite heirloom beans are Scarlet Runner and Cranberries.

You cook heirloom beans the same way you cook any bean:

Pick out rocks and foreign materials from beans, rinse and soak them overnight. You can speed up this process by boiling beans for 5 minutes, turning off the heat and let sit for an hour.

Rinse again and add 2 cups of water to each 1 cup of beans. Simmer beans for approximately 2 hours depending on the size of beans.

If you eat a lot of beans and want an easier way to cook them you can use a pressure cooker. There is one specifically designed for beans called the ez bean cooker.

Beans are usually cooked with a little salt and pepper, onion and sometimes garlic. They are also very good cold in salads when cooked with a firm texture. Heirloom beans look great in salads!

If you are a gardener you can appreciate these beautiful beans for what they are. These beans are over 50 year old but are becoming rare due to hybridization for higher yielding plants. You can grow these heirloom beans as easy as other beans but will result in fewer beans per plant. Eat them early in the pod or let them dry on the plant. The pods are multi-colored as well. They come in green, purple and yellow and are tender. Just like all other heirloom plants, you can collect the dried seeds and plant them year after year for a lifelong harvest. Don’t forget that beans add nitrogen to the soil so dramatically improve your garden while yielding a tasty meal.

No Time to Exercise?

Gym

When people ask me how they can best lose weight or to change their body shape without dieting,  I always tell them that exercise is the way to get rid of body fat. Most of these people reply “but I don’t have time to exercise”.

How much exercise do you need to lose weight? The answer is any! Every little bit of activity you do will improve your body. While most doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times a week of exercise, research of newer workouts shows that there are significant benefits from shorter workouts as well.

HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is one of the more recent methods of exercise which can take as little as 4 minutes.  It starts with a quick warm up including a few toe touches, lunges, arm circles, etc.  This is followed by a number of different exercises done quickly with a certain number of repetitions. For example, do 20 push-ups followed by 20 sit ups follows by 30 seconds of running in place.  Once complete, you start over again.  There are many workout examples given online and I’m sure you’ve seen the TV advertisements for workouts that are’ transformational’ in just minutes a day. Some require weights and some only use the weight of your body to get your results.

Research has shown these workouts do more than burn calories; they are good for your heart and build muscle which helps burn fat more efficiently.

How do you start? Look online for a series of exercises that interest you. My recommendation is to wake up 15 minutes early to fit in a quick 10 minute workout. If later in the day works better for you then pick a time and stick to it. Start slow! Work your way up. This type of routine can hurt you if you overdo it as a beginner. Day two……take a rest. With intense workouts you need to give your body time to recover in between work outs. Complete this every other day until your workout becomes easy to you. Next, bump it up a notch. Try more difficult exercises or focus on more intensity. You can add more repetitions or add more time, depending on what you want.

The nice thing about this type of workout is you don’t need to join a gym, you don’t need to buy equipment, and you can change it up as often as you want. The best thing is it can be as little as 4 minutes if that’s all you can do. The idea is to just get some level of activity every day and put some effort into it.