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Be Better! Doing this amount of exercise can help you live longer, but more doesn’t seem to help – Karla’s Making It

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Be Better! Doing this amount of exercise can help you live longer, but more doesn’t seem to help – Karla’s Making It

We have all heard that exercising regularly can help you live longer. Experts have been touting that even just a small amount of exercise weekly can decrease risk of death by 20%. Just one hour of brisk walking or 30 minutes of jogging per week is enough to move out of the inactive group. YAY!!

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Recently researchers have dialed in the optimal amount of exercise needed to extend your life. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, published April 6, 2015, states that people who engaged in the recommended level (a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week) of physical activity were 31% less likely to die during the study. Those who benefitted the most exercised 3-5 times the recommended levels and were 39% less likely to die during the study than people who did not exercise.

So you would think that more is better, right.  This isn’t so.  The study goes on to reveal that doing more exercise than 3-5 times the recommended level, provided only marginal returns. That means that those who exercise 10 times the recommended level are no more likely to decrease their mortality rate.

Be Better! Karla's Making It
an Infographic from the National Cancer Institute outlining the findings as reported in the manuscript published by Arem, et al. JAMA Internal Medicine 2015.

The best part of the study maintains that people who are most likely to benefit from increasing amounts of exercise are those who don’t exercise at all.  In other words, if you are currently in the inactive category when it comes to physical activity, you can see a possible huge benefit from just moving a little.

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Isn’t that awesome?!?  Once you incorporate just a little exercise into your weekly routine, you will feel better and WANT to do more! Set a new goal today that you can reach in a short period of time, and when you reach that goal, you can gain some momentum to reach the next goal. Then, before you know it, you are maintaining the 3-5 times the recommended activity level and getting the most from your exercise.

Make this new goal easy. Make it quick then, just do it! Then, tomorrow, write down another one! For increased success, write down your exercise goals the night before so when you wake up you know exactly what you are going to do that day.

I have been achieving my 5-6 times a week walking goal and we are now walking 4 miles each morning.  The small goal I will be adding this week is push-ups and sit-ups following each walk.  I plan to start with 5 push-ups and 25 sit-ups and increasing by 1 push-up and 5 sit-ups every day over the following 5-7 days.

In addition to my exercise goals, we have a new menu and shopping list this week. The recipes are posted here:

  1. Lemon Chicken – 582 calories per serving
  2.  Beef Fajitas– 560 calories per serving
  3. Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry – 565 calories per serving
  4. Tuscan Soup – 465 calories per serving
  5. Tomato and Spinach Penne – 342 calories per serving
  6. Mongolian Beef – 659 calories per serving

You will notice that there are only 6 recipes this week. That is because I had so much leftovers, even with us eating it for lunch, so I created a leftover day. This day will vary for me weekly, but you are free to schedule yours on Sunday or a particularly busy weekday.

What goals have you set for yourself this week?

Make it a Beautiful Day,

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Be Better! This Week’s Progress and Thoughts on Lofty Goals at Karla’s Making It

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Be Better! This Week’s Progress and Thoughts on Lofty Goals at Karla’s Making It

Hello Dear Readers,

How is it going in your part of the world? Here in California, we are having sunny days and I am enjoying them very much.  Things are going well with my Be Better Plan.  I have been walking 5-6 times a week! Yay for me.  I have also been reading inspirational quotes daily and I am currently working on next week’s menu. I plan to add another meatless day and replace another high calorie meal with a healthier option.

How are you liking this week’s menu? We really loved our comfort food meal. I think that since the family knows that we have healthier meals coming our way, we savored every bite.  However, I must say that the Minestrone Soup was really yummy too and the lowest calorie option! So yay for that.

Other changes we made are working as well. I notice that the fruit bowl has been being used! Sometimes when I walk by the dining table I will notice another piece gone. YES! I have even grabbed a nectarine out of there myself this week. Another idea would be to put fruits and veggies at eye level in the fridge. If we aren’t going through the fruit bowl fast enough, I may end up putting it in front of the milk!

I replaced my night time cookies and ice cream with a sort of trail mix type concoction.  I got a big gallon sized bag and added packages of dried fruit, unsalted nuts, seeds, granola, and a small bag of yogurt raisins. It so far has been working to curb my sweet tooth, and is much healthier than those processed cookies. If you are watching calories, you may want to choose another option such a whole fruit or a smoothie.

Be Better Karla's Making It

How are you doing on your Be Better Plan? Have you made any changes this week?

I was thinking the other day about how many people make New Year’s Resolutions in January and for the majority they are long forgotten by now. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  Maybe I have once, but truly I have an aversion to the occasion.  First of all, I feel pressured to make them really big! After all, it is only once a year, right? So I feel the need to do something monumental, like quit eating meat, or get into shape, or get my home organized.

Ew! Makes me tired just thinking about starting those goals. I can think of a thousand excuses to NOT do those things: I don’t have time to go to the gym everyday. I don’t have the energy to organize my entire house! I like meat!

Those lofty aspirations feel insurmountable to me every January. It is way easier to just shove those old sweaters to the back of the closet and close the door! So, every year I procrastinate. But then nothing changes. And I’m frustrated with myself all over again.  I’m not getting into shape even though I want to. I’m not eating healthier because planning meals takes so much time than whipping something up on the fly. Many parts of my home are in disarray and when I have company, my closets are bulging to hide the clutter.

Be Better Karla's Making It

But what if I just made tiny changes daily or even weekly that would move me closer to those lofty goals? What if I went through one section of my closet a week? Or created a meal plan that could be reused every couple months? Or start having Meatless Monday’s? Or went to Yoga once a week? Or even just do 10 sit-ups a day?

This is the idea behind my Be Better plan! Making small changes more often to achieve a better body, better health, a better home, better relationships, anything you want to be better at. Right now, I can’t get in shape because my will and motivation is not strong enough. But I can certainly do 10 sit-ups a day!

What are you doing today to Be Better?

Make it a Beautiful Day,

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Be Better! This week’s analysis and goals, including our Week 1 Printable Menu and Shopping list

Be Better, Karla's Making It

Be Better, Karla's Making ItBe Better! This week’s analysis and goals, including our Week 1 Printable Menu and Shopping list

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Good Day My Friend,

Hope you are having an amazing week! Coming off of a long weekend is bittersweet isn’t it? On the one hand we got another day of relaxing with our families but on the other hand, we have to squeeze 5 days of work into 4. It is worth it though, don’t you agree?

So, I am ready to jump into things and get started with my Be Better quest! How about you? Hopefully you will join me as our family adds new and improved habits and lifestyle changes. My anticipation is that this will result in a happier more peaceful life. I could fail and do all this work for nothing, but there’s only one way to find out…

Be Better! Karla's Making It

Boy isn’t that the truth! I have high aspirations for myself and fall short all the time.  I want to make so many changes to my diet, in my activity level, as well as in my mindset on life, but it is so easy to give up and fall back into my old ways.

I find myself eating unhealthy processed food or craving comfort food because I let myself get hungry.  I procrastinate and let my to do list get too long, resulting in no time for exercise. My sleeping habits are poor and it takes me so long to fall asleep most nights. I let negative thoughts feed my emotions at times. I could go on, but instead, this time I plan to make small weekly changes that will eventually, with persistence, will turn into good habits.

That’s leads me to another reason I came up with this new direction for my blog.  I figure if I am transparent in my goals, perhaps I would be more apt to achieve them.  After all, dear reader, you are going to hold me accountable aren’t you?

My expectation in participating in this plan is that not only will I Be Better, but I will achieve my goal to create a place to come for positive inspiration. If even one of you here feel like they got a big hug, a friend that can relate, some motivation, or peace of mind, it would make all this hard work worth it!

Be Better! Karla's Making It

So I will no longer live with regret for yesterday but use that as motivation to make changes today.  I wanted to start with nutrition. There is not much planning in my weekly meals or grocery shopping.  I will usually walk the aisles and choose whatever we are low on or that would please my family.  My cart often contains things like oreos, sugary granola bars, bagels, frozen kid favorites like Hot Pockets and such, with a sprinkling of fruits and veggies.

I’m pretty good about eating lots of fruit and a handful of veggies daily. I use calorie drinks like Naked Juice when I’m feeling too full. I rarely eat enough meat but I do mix in beans for protein. The worst is my night time snacking.  I will sacrifice breakfast and lunch in lieu of cookies or ice cream at night. VERY bad habit! That one will be hard to change. I speculate that I might decrease those craving at night once I am on a daily meal plan, including a hearty breakfast and continuing with small regular meals throughout the rest of the day.

My family has a little bit different nutritional needs. My honey wants to lose a few and we already started him with some good habits. Instead of eating out everyday for lunch, I have been making him batches of portion controlled meals to heat up at work.

The first week I made him chicken, rice and broccoli.  I used a citrus seasoning and it was pretty tasty.  This week he is having beef, potatoes, and green beans. I simply take one of our lower calorie dinners and portion it out in 5-6 small food storage containers. I have been trying to do this on Sundays, but it is turing out that the weekdays are easier for me to make an additional meal.

He’s doing GREAT!! In two weeks he lost 7 pounds! I’m so proud of him.  The only problem has been getting the food storage containers back home!

In addition to his lunch makeover, we started walking regularly. Now that the weather is warming up, we are able to walk either in the mornings or after dinner.  Our goal is to walk 5+ days a week and we are successful two weeks strong.

Our teenagers pretty much eat whatever is here.  Sometimes they will eat out at a fast food restaurant with their friends. But for the most part, they will eat whatever I have in the kitchen. One new thing I have been doing for them is to keep a bowl of fruit on the table.  I love seeing them grab an apple or a nectarine as they are walking by, rather than scan the pantry for junky snacks.

Be Better! Karla's Making It

So my goal for this week for our family is to analyze our family dinners, and make some alterations, if necessary. I know that I tend to make comfort food more often than what I would consider healthy food. I also noticed my menu is an eclectic collection of recipes consisting of my Italian upbringing, having lived many places in the U.S. from coast to coast (except the South), and spending a lot of time in the company of a hispanic family during my 20’s and early 30’s. I wouldn’t call it traditional California fare (I moved here when I was 12) or Midwestern as much as a mish mash of my journey until now.

This week’s menu includes meals that I had no clue had so many calories such as Chicken Marsala (979) and French Dip Sandwiches (793)!  When I added those recipes to the website and saw the nutritional information I was shocked. Since I love both those things, I will have to find healthier recipes or add them to my Comfort Food Day.  (Note: I was going to have a cheat day, but that brings a negative connotation to it, like I’m not entitled or something. So, I’m going to call it a Comfort Food Day. Doesn’t that sound more warm and fuzzy?) The Swedish Meatballs are hefty too, especially when you add the Garlic Bacon Mashed Potatoes I served with it (gasp – you don’t want to know).

menu and shopping list week 1
Menu and Shopping List Week 1

By the way, you are welcome to use these menus yourself.  It also includes a handy dandy grocery shopping list 😉 In addition, I have added my recipes to the website. Sorry if they are lacking in images, witty descriptions, and Karla’s normal fairy dust, but I wanted to get them up there for you.

I was please to see that I had some good choices on our menu as well. The Asparagus, Chicken and Penne Pasta and Minestrone Soup ( appetizers for us Italians) both came in at well under 400 calories and the Herbed Pork and Apples is close with 444. The Black Bean Burritos are 632 per serving. I think I could get that into the 400-600 calorie range (which is what I am shooting for) by just eliminating the cheese.

OK, so after meticulous analysis (j/k) my plan to Be Better this week includes:

  1. Start planning a weekly menu with shopping list (done!)
  2. Be more deliberate in choosing 400-600 calorie dinners for the following week

I will add that to my last week’s achievements of:

  1. Walking 5+ days per week
  2. Read 2-3 positive quotes a day
  3. Make weekly lunches for my honey
  4. Provide a bowl of fruit for the kiddos

How do you plan to Be Better this week?

Make it a Beautiful Day,

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