Everyday Tips on Healthy Living

A 30-Day Health and Happiness Boost

By: , DailySpark Blogger
7/7/2015  4:00:00 PM   :  0 comments   :  194 views

When you're juggling work, family life, social obligations and other responsibilities, your healthy lifestyle probably often seems like it's pushed to the very bottom of your to-do list. But the good news is that you can find the balance you're looking for in just a few minutes per day. Healthy living doesn't have to be all-consuming; your health is a result of small, consistent choices over time. We're here to help with a new challenge to help you make healthy choices at your own pace--and balance your life in the process. If you liked our Healthy Habits Reset Challenge, you're going to love this one, too!



What can I expect from the Balanced Life Challenge
  • 30 Daily "Mini Challenges"
Each day, you'll get a "mini-challenge" to complete to help you stay on track with your healthy-living goals and find your happy balance point. These will help you stay accountable to your plan the whole month, reminding you of what to do, offering great tips, and keeping your goals top of mind.
  • 150 SparkPoints
Yep, you read that right! You can earn 5 SparkPoints for each daily challenge you complete. Just visit the challenge page and click the "Earn Your SparkPoints" button to tell us that you completed that day. It's just that easy!
  • Social Support
We will be using the hashtag #BalancedLife on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest throughout the challenge. Ask questions. Post about your progress. Tell us how the day's challenge went. Encourage your friends to join you! When you use the #BalancedLife hashtag, we'll be right here to support you and cheer you on! We also encourage you to use it on your own social media pages to connect with others who are completing the challenge. Be sure to follow our Health & Wellness pinboard, too, for more tips and motivation as you complete the challenge.
  • Open to Anyone: Invite Your Friends to Join!
While members can earn SparkPoints for participating, this challenge is open to anyone! Share the challenge page with your friends by posting it on Facebook, sending an email link, and more. You do not have to be a member to participate. Anyone can sign up for daily challenge emails just by entering their email address.
 
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
Go to our Balanced Life Challenge page and sign up by clicking the "Take the Challenge!" button to enter your email address. After you've signed up, you will receive one email per day for the next 30 days with a reminder to complete your daily challenge (and get your SparkPoints). Note that once you sign up, you should expect to receive your first challenge email the following day at 8 am EST.

When does it start?
RIGHT NOW. The challenge is open and ready for you to join—and you can start or join at any time. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be on the path to a healthier, happier you!

What are you waiting for? Sign up right now to get started today—and feel happier, healthier and refreshed in 30 days. (Be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterest and Twitter, too.) Let's do this!

Will you be participating in our 30-Day Balanced Life Challenge? Let us know in the comments if you're up for the challenge!

This challenge is brought to you by Balance Bar. Nutritious & delicious, Balance Bars are a seriously smart snack to keep you going throughout the day. Try delicious flavors like Peanut Butter, Lemon Meringue or Dark Coconut today!

The Best Post-Run Recovery Foods

By: , DailySpark Blogger
7/7/2015  12:00:00 AM   :  1 comments   :  2,352 views

Many runners plan out their daily health routines down to the nth degree.  However, even though you are seeing your desired results on the outside, you may not be doing everything you can to ensure your body is being properly cared for on the inside. 

Eating the proper foods at the right times can mean the difference between a healthy body and one that isn't receiving the post run nutrition it needs to recover.  Therefore, you should take some time to learn exactly what foods should be eaten before, during and after your running events, if you want to keep your body in optimal condition.  Let’s take a look at some of the best post run recovery foods.

Post Run Recovery Foods By Category

There are a number of different types of foods your body needs after a run.  Let's start with discussing specific categories and why they are important. Then, we will go into the types of post run recovery foods your body needs.

1.  Carbohydrates

You should strive to consume carbohydrates within 20-30 minutes after your run.  Eating carbohydrates shortly after your workout helps optimize your body's recovery as that is when your muscles are the most receptive to rebuilding your glycogen reserves.

2.  Protein

Protein helps with the repair of muscles after a strenuous run. Therefore, you should try to consume some carbohydrates and proteins at a ratio of 4:1.  In other words, 4-grams of carbohydrates for every 1-gram of protein you eat.
 
3.  Electrolytes and Antioxidants

Running, especially long-distance running, significantly depletes your body's electrolytes and antioxidants.  There are several ways to help restore these vital nutrients in your body.  Certain fruits and fruit juices will do the trick.  Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and eat frequent small meals to help combat fluid loss and replenish your body's electrolytes. 

You are probably asking yourself "what about a sports drink?" Well, sports drinks can be helpful. However, while a sports drink will supply your body with the sodium and potassium you lost through the sweating process, they really don't have any nutritional value.  Therefore, you can guzzle a sports drink for a quick fix but you should ultimately strive to replenish your reserves with fresh fruit or fruit juices. One more tip is to avoid drinking alcohol or large amounts of caffeine as these will only dehydrate your body further.

The Best Post Run Recovery Foods

Now we are going to provide you with specific examples of the best post run recovery foods you can eat to help replenish your body with the vital nutrients it needs.  Of course you need to start restoring your fluids as soon as possible after a strenuous run. Therefore, a sports drink or some water are both great for a quick fix.  However, the recovery process does not stop there.  Here are some specific foods that will help restore your body back to pre-run status.
  • Oatmeal
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chicken
  • Hummus
  • Salmon
  • Lean beef
  • Turkey breast
  • Sports/Energy bar
  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Fruit Juice
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Almonds or other nuts
  • Vegetables
There are some great food combinations that also work well, such as:
  • quinoa salad
  • chicken/turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • whole-wheat pasta or rice with a lean meat and your favorite sauce
  • salad with some lean meat or fish
  • omelet with veggies and lean meat
  • turkey and avocado sandwich on whole-wheat bread

What You Should Do If You Can't Eat Immediately After A Run

It's best to try and eat a post run meal within an hour or so.  However, if that's not possible, strive for one of the following:
1.  Chocolate milk is helpful for immediate nutrient replacement.
2.  Drink a protein shake with either milk or water.
3.  Snack on some Greek yogurt.
4.  Grab an apple.
5.  Have a banana with some peanut butter.
6.  Try some Hummus with carrots or pita chips. 

Last But Not Least

Although running is an integral part of your health regimen, it can also be hard on your body.  Therefore, you will need some rest and relaxation after your run.  Make sure you give your body plenty of time to recover properly after a rigorous workout.  That means sitting down, relaxing and putting your feet up as you enjoy the fruits (no pun intended) of your labor!

Find the Blood Glucose Meter That's Right for You

By: , – FreeStyleŽ
7/6/2015  12:00:00 AM   :  3,502 views

It’s a buyer’s market out there. Whatever you need – from a smart TV to walking shoes – you’ll find a sea of options. These days, even blood glucose meters have seemingly infinite variations and features.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed with all the different glucose meters out there, it might help to start with these three criteria: ease of use, required sample size and cost of the meter and test strips.

Is the Meter User-Friendly?
If you choose a meter that’s user-friendly and delivers quick, accurate results, you’re much more likely to stick to your testing schedule. Testing regularly will help you understand how your blood sugar responds to everything from your meal choices to physical activity.

Ease of use means something different for everyone, so consider everything from the size and weight of the meter to how readable the display numbers are. You might benefit from a larger meter that’s easier to hold. If you’re always on the go, a super portable meter that allows you to test discreetly might suit you better.

What Size Blood Sample Is Needed?
If you’re like most people, you’ll be interested in a meter that requires a small sample size. This is particularly important if you need to test often or have sensitive fingers. Fortunately, you’ll find that many meters use less than 1.0 microliter – or 1.0 μL – and take 10 seconds or less to display results.

The FreeStyle family of products offers several meters that require a sample size of just 0.6 microliters or less, and can display results in 5 seconds, on average or less.

How Much Do the Meter and Supplies Cost?
We all know that diabetes can be an expensive condition to manage, so out-of-pocket costs for testing supplies will probably factor into your decision. Although buying a meter may be a one-time cost, it’s really the test strips that are the recurring expense, so make sure you look closely at the total cost when selecting a meter and test strips.  

Bonus Tip: Consider Buying Your System Over the Counter
In addition to all the other options in the marketplace, there is another approach to diabetes management – buying your test strips over the counter. Now you can avoid the hassles of insurance, including paperwork, pharmacy lines and the ever-increasing cost of copays.
 
Until recently, it hasn’t been possible to buy meters and test strips from leading brands over the counter at accessible prices. But now, you can get the FreeStyle Precision Neo meter and test strips at your pharmacy without a prescription. This gives patients a quality alternative to using insurance and paying high copays for blood glucose test strips. You can find the FreeStyle Precision Neo meter and test strips at major retailers or drugstores in the diabetes supplies section, or you can buy them online. Prices may vary, but the MSRP for 50 test strips is $21.99.
 
The bottom line: You have to find what works for you! To help you come up with your ''Best for Me'' short list, be sure to tap into resources like user reviews, manufacturer comparison charts and how-to videos. Good luck finding the meter that suits your needs best. 

The Many Benefits of Honey

By: , DailySpark Blogger
7/1/2015  10:00:00 AM   :  3 comments   :  8,571 views

What is one food that was eaten thousands of years ago, is still eaten today in probably the exact same form, and is just as good for you today as it was then?  Honey!   Some refer to honey as liquid gold because in the good old days honey was the only opportunity many people had to eat something sweet, so it was considered a great and rare treat.

General Health Benefits

Honey offers benefits to the entire body.  A tablespoon of honey only has a little more than 60 calories. Honey is fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free.  No wonder health conscious people add honey to their tea rather than sugar or a sweetener substitute.  Honey is comprised of 80% carbohydrates, 18% water, and a 2% mix of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, so honey adds a mighty health wallop.

Help Ditch the Cough

Honey is a cough suppressant.  In a 2012 study, the journal Pediatrics recommended that when children between the ages of one and five years take two teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bed, they coughed less, which made falling asleep easier.  Although the exact reason honey helps is unknown, most believe that honey coats and soothes the throat, especially the nerve endings that might cause the “itch” creating the cough.  Honey can also be used to treat upper respiratory tract infections.

Sleep

Honey can also help people who have trouble falling asleep.  Honey can help create a release of serotonin.  Serotonin helps improve a person’s mood, which in turn makes sleep come easier, and honey even improves the quality of sleep a person gets.  Another sleep benefit of honey is that some of the amino acids in honey include tryptophan, which is the same amino acid in turkey that tends to make it harder to stay awake after the big Thanksgiving meal. 

Allergy Relief

Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that sooth coughs and other allergy symptoms.  Although the scientific evidence is harder to prove, the anecdotal proof is evident.  Additionally, naturopathic doctors have been prescribing honey for people with allergies for years.  One belief is that the pollen has antibodies that when introduced to the body helps decrease, over time, the body’s reaction to pollen.

Energy Drinks

With only 17 grams of carbohydrates in a tablespoon, and because it offers unprocessed sugar, honey can be a benefit as an energy drink.  The fructose and glucose of honey enters the blood stream directly, which means drinking a honey-based energy drink right before a workout pays dividends immediately, and it continues to offer an assist during longer, more involved workouts.

Cancer Fighter

Some of the properties found in honey are also found in anti-carcinogen meds and other foods.  Yearly, there are more and more studies that indicate that honey has a role to play in the prevention of cancer, and in the prevention of the formation of tumors.

Cuts and Burns

Who knows why the first Egyptian found this out, but honey is beneficial for people who are suffering from cuts and burns.  Honey has antiseptic properties that keep wounds clean and free from infections.  It is believed that honey is able to take moisture from the air and to promote healing while keeping bacteria away.  Honey has even been recognized as a successful treatment for athlete’s foot, yeast infections, and arthritis pain.

Hangovers

In the unlikely event that a person would drink too much and wake up with a hangover, honey has been found to be one of the more effective and reliable home remedies.  Honey helps sooth the stomach, and it even allows the liver to expel remnants of alcohol faster.  A simple recipe for a hangover cure is to take eight parts orange juice, seven parts natural yogurt, and 1.5 parts honey and blend them together.

Honey is one of the best natural remedies and natural preventatives a person can find.  Like most foods, it is most effective when taken in moderation.  Whether you’re suffering from a cold or allergies, or if you want to ensure that you’re doing all you can to fend off cancer, honey offers many benefits.

Jump Into July with a New Boot Camp Challenge!

By: , DailySpark Blogger
6/29/2015  3:00:00 PM   :  26 comments   :  13,092 views

Hey, Sparkers! If you've been following along with us this month, you might know that we ran a "Streak Into Summer" challenge on our Facebook page from June 1st-June 21st. We're happy to say that this format was incredibly successful—over 2,000 of you participated in the challenge! WooHoo! We've been getting tons of requests for more Facebook challenges, so we're delivering a brand new one for July: the Bodyweight Blast Boot Camp Challenge! Here's how it's going to work: 

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30 Days of Happy, Healthy Pets

By: , – Nature's Recipe
6/26/2015  10:00:00 AM   :  12 comments   :  6,901 views

There's no question that owning a pet can be great for your health. Our pets melt away stress, make great workout buddies, and are constant sources of unconditional love. So, it's only fair that we return the favor and treat our four-legged companions with as much love and care as possible. Our friends at Nature’s Recipe believe that all pets deserve to live long, vibrant lives. That's why they focus on providing real, delicious pet food at a real value. We are proud to partner with Nature's Recipe to nourish the relationship between you and your pet with the Make It Real™ 30 Day Challenge. Take our month-long pledge to get happier and healthier together, with fun activities to do each day that will bring you and your furry friend closer than ever.


What can I expect from the Make It Real Challenge
  • 30 Daily "Mini Challenges"
Each day, you'll get a "mini-challenge" to complete to help you strengthen your relationship with your pet and renew your commitment to the health and happiness of your companion. Some days will include fun interactive activities with your pet, and others will have you complete a task to help you become a better, more informed pet owner.
  • 150 SparkPoints
Yep, you read that right! You can earn 5 SparkPoints for each daily challenge you complete. Just visit the challenge page and click the "Earn Your SparkPoints" button to tell us that you completed that day. It's just that easy!
  • Social Integration
We will be using the hashtag #MakeItReal on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest throughout the challenge. Ask questions. Tell stories about your pet. Tell us how the challenge is going for both of you and what you've learned. Encourage your pet-owner friends to join you! When you use the #MakeItReal hashtag, we'll be right here to support you and cheer you on! We also encourage you to use it on your own social media pages to connect with others who are completing the challenge. Be sure to follow our We Love Our Pets pinboard, too, for more tips and motivation as you go along.
  • Open to Anyone: Invite Your Friends to Join!
While members can earn SparkPoints for participating, this challenge is open to anyone! Share the challenge page with your friends by posting it on Facebook, sending an email link, and more. You do not have to be a member to participate. Anyone can sign up for daily challenge emails just by entering their email address.
 
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
Go to our Make It Real™ Challenge page and sign up by clicking the "Get Started" button to enter your email address. After you've signed up, you will receive one email per day for the next 30 days with a reminder to complete your daily challenge (and get your SparkPoints). Note that once you sign up, you should expect to receive your first challenge email the following day at 8 am EST.

When does it start?
RIGHT NOW. The challenge is open and ready for you to join—and you can start or join at any time. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be on the path to a stronger bond with your furry friend!

What are you waiting for? Sign up right now to get started today—and get ready for 30 days of fun with Fido. (Be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterest and Twitter, too.) Let's do this!

Will you be participating in our 30-Day Make It Real Challenge? Let us know in the comments if you (and your pet) are up for the challenge!

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