5 Powerful Healthy Habits To Develop

healthy-habitsWe all want to love and be loved by others, to make a good living and achieve financial independence, and all of this is possible if we take care of our own health. What does it means?

During my post-operative recovery, I really understood the importance of good health. It’s always been one of my highest value regarding my personal life, but now I really understand that without it, the rest seems very hard to accomplish.

When you get ill, you usually become unable to pursue even the smallest habitual actions, including working hard for your dreams. That’s why it’s our duty to take care of ourselves.

During this month, due to the two hemorrhages I had after the surgery, I had to be extra cautious: it has been almost impossible for me to have proper relationships, to see my friends, to go out in the open and at the beginning even to write and work. That’s when I truly realized that many times we take our health for granted, while in truth it’s the most precious resource we have.

Our human capital is composed of mental, emotional, and physical energy. Most of the times, if you’re facing a serious illness, all those three resources are somehow lacking. We need to take care of our body like a temple: it’s better to have proper healthy habits before it’s too late.

So what are the general rules for a good health? I’m not an expert but there are fundamental rules to follow. Read More →

Can Humor and Laughter Help Our Life?

laughter

Your immune system is crucial to sustaining good health. We are all constantly bombarded by viruses, bacteria and other antigens that could seriously harm or even kill us. This threat is present every day of our lives, so anything we do to bolster the effectiveness of this system is clearly important. But can your sense of humor really make your immune system stronger?

It has long been recognized that chronic stress weakens the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to illness-although short-term, acute stress may boost the immune system. If you find yourself constantly stressed out by your job, a financial crisis, deteriorating health, an unsatisfactory marriage or any other persisting personal problem, your odds of coming down with some kind of health problem increase.

One of the first hints of a solution to the puzzle of how one’s mental or emotional state might influence health, came from studies of animals showing that the immune system could actually be conditioned to respond to something that would normally have no impact at all on its functioning. In a now classic study, rats were given a drug known to suppress the functioning of the immune system. The (at the time) commonly used sweetener saccharine was put in the animals’ drinking water and presented simultaneously with the drug, leading to the expected suppression of the immune system. Read More →

12 Simple Strategies For a Healthy Weight Loss

healthy

Maintaining a healthy weight is not easy. We have to resist millions temptations every day, give up amazing dishes and decide to get up from the couch to exercise.

Stress in our lives is often at high levels and eating that delicious chocolate cake is more like a gift to ourselves to get through the day. Emotional eating can get in the way and so it’s even more difficult to eat healthy food.

However, deciding to get in shape is great for many reasons:

– Avoid diseases of various kinds, such as cardiovascular problem, diabetes and so on

– Be able to perform actions that require a good physical shape that are important to us (such as playing with the kids or make love)

– Be attractive to the opposite sex

– Increase your self-confidence

– Feel better

Traditional diets usually don’t imply long-term commitment and don’t work, because the sacrifices you have to make are too many and have to be done in a very short and crazy way. Renouncing all of a sudden to eat your favorite dish and praying for the diet to finish, is usually the best case scenario. Most of the time you end up hating your lack of will power and feel a failure.

Getting in shape has to be a funny journey that doesn’t imply too much sacrifice: it’s the only way to change your eating habits into healthy ones and enjoy both the things you like and take care of your body. Moreover, some of the changes you make might even like you, so making small significant changes from week to week can really help.

Eating healthy, exercising and taking care of your body has to be a pleasure, not a work. So the aim is to start eating healthily little by little, exercise starting from 10 minutes a day and then prolong that time and and above all, find pleasure in these actions.

How can you enjoy it? To do so, you have to make positive association with the food you have to eat the most, that is vegetables and fruits. Years ago I was like “what’s a carrot? Does those things really exists?” J

You know, the first big step is making them appetizing, then everything becomes more eatable. I switched my eating habits from not even knowing what a carrot was (j.k. J ) to eating mostly vegetables and fruits. And I feel better now. So if you’re wondering if you can do it, the answer is yes J

Starting with the basics, the key to success is balance between what you eat and the calories you burn. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.

3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat , if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day , you will lose about a pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). You can calculate your BMR and your BMI here and there.

Normal diets only cause an incredible hunger, irritability and that is why they are often hated. But there is no need to do a diet to lose weight. You only need to make the right choices every day and develop new healthy food habits that make you feel satisfied but that can make you lose weight. Choosing low fat foods is a beginning, like including more veggies and fruits.

So you don’t have to diet, but deciding to change your lifestyle. Start by adding veggies at every meal and soups to make you feel fuller, decide to exercise for a short time every day and make healthy, permanent and enjoyable choices.

It means that if you’re stressed and angry, you don’t ask the fridge for a solution: find something to do of physically demanding that helps you get rid of stress (also taking a walk helps). Find pleasure in the post-workout endorphins. Find pleasure in getting out and have a breath of fresh air in a sunny day.  Find pleasure in eating vegetables and fresh food.

When I was in high school and I was suffering from depression, my afternoon snack was or chocolate, or chips or sandwiches. I had to fill a void and I wanted to turn avoid the main problem that was the relationship with myself and the world around me.

Often, eating too much hides a more specific problem and therefore you gotta ask yourself: why I  want to eat this cake right now? Why eating so much if I’m not even hungry? Is it boredom, stress, sadness? Do I really want to do that? What is the real problem?

Think of it of a lifestyle change, not a diet. It’s your commitment for a healthy life. Various popular diets can help to jumpstart your weight loss, but permanent changes in your life and food choices are what will work in the long run.

1. Look for support in family members, friends or a support group to get the necessary encouragement. Losing a pound a week is the right choice, don’t rush. At the beginning you will lose only water and muscle rather than fat.

You may feel tired, with no energy and experience headaches. My advice to eat a fruit, which provides glucose to our beloved brain. And exercise a bit. This will give you new energy , stimulates adrenaline and you’ll feel better after the workout. Start with little, everyday.

2. Give yourself a good reason to do it. Do you want to be more charming and attractive? You want to have a sculpted physique? You want to feel proud of your body? You want to be able to run for a long time? You want to be able to play for long periods with your kids?

Saying to yourself, ” I need to lose weight because it is right for my health ” won’t work. You need to have the right motivation, something that really is important to you. If you feel comfortable with 50 pounds of excess weight, then do nothing . But if your weight makes you feel bad and you’re objectively overweight, then change lifestyle.

The decision must come from your discomfort and suffering, not from external influences. You have to decide and be motivated to get in shape for the right reasons that are important to you.

3. Use tools to help you monitor your progress. Keep a diary once a week monitor your weight. Do your best to avoid eating too many carbohydrates (theoretically you should reduce them drastically after 3 pm ) , eat plenty of fruits and vegetables , drink at least two liters of water a day (especially if you exe. rcise ) and remember to eat proteins (vegetables proteins also exists!). If your training requires it, take vitamin supplements.

If you are hungry , eat a fruit or a vegetable . I usually recommend sweet fruits, such as bananas. My shake includes a banana , an apple, three oranges , sunflower seeds , flax seeds , walnuts, goji berries and sometimes a bit of cocoa powder. This smoothie fills about 3-4 glasses , so for the whole afternoon , I usually do not feel hungry .

If you are particularly nervous or irritated, exercise: even jumping up and down for a while decreases stress. If you’re at work and you are hungry, have a tea and a fruit or chew a gum.

4. Find your own personal rhythm. It may take time to find your own personal “diet”. My recipe for a healthy weight includes limited consumption of carbohydrates and sweets (some bread in the morning and pasta at lunch), lots of fruits and vegetables (such as the maxi smoothie) , a lot of decaffeinated tea (strawberry , peppermint, green tea) and exercise at least 3 times a week.

I usually dance to burn calories: I like samba, hip hop and Zumba fitness. Sometimes I do squats and weights at home. Abs are my weak point: my mother tends to accumulate fat in the waist and so do I.

The key is to do a lot of cardio and reduce carbs. Warning! I said reduce carbs, do not eliminate them! Eat them in the first part of the day. I never drink cola or soda or things like that: they are full of processed sugars and hurt.

5. Never skip a meal. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism. Eat 5 small meals during the day, it will help to reduce the size of the stomach (and therefore not having the need to eat 500 grams of pasta to make you feel full ) and increase metabolism .

Usually I have breakfast with whole grain ​​bread, coffee or tea , orange juice or a banana. My lunch usually consists of a pasta or brown rice and raw vegetables, in the afternoon I drink my hypervitaminic smoothie and in the evening I eat vegetables (raw or boiled) , with vegetable or animal protein (I often eat beans, chickpeas, lentils, or fish or eggs). I do not eat cheese because I get digestive problems with that.

6. Avoid emotional eating. When I watch a movie or I’m on the couch, instead of eating popcorns, I drink tea. Two cups of green tea if I want to feel fuller and decrease my craving for junk food. I used to do it before. I used to eat popcorn, chips and chocolate.

Eating because you’re sad or angry or stressed won’t get you to the solution. Instead try to exercise, have a hot bath, listen to energizing music, take a nap, call a friend, go for a walk , read a book. Eating tons of chocolate for sure will not increase your self esteem.

7. Focus on foods that you can eat in abundance. Fruits and vegetables will only do good to you and are low in fat and healthy. Strawberries, apples, oranges , berries , nectarines , plums , salads, greens….eat them in large quantities.

Prefer vegetables proteins such as broccoli, spinach , beans, lentils etc. . Even if you go too far with the portions, this will not affect your weight as it could do a chocolate cake or a giant portion of pizza. To feel full, start your meal with a soup without pasta. Eating soup, which contains large amounts of water, will help you feel fuller. And use salt and oil for salads, not mayonnaise or other sauces .

8. Eat the foods you love without exceeding. Eating a piece of cake once a week is not a catastrophe . Nor a Sunday lunch with your favorite dishes. If you have chocolate cravings, you can use cocoa powder and include it in smoothies.

9. Make sure you have the food you need in the fridge. Remember to always have in the freezer foods that you can prepare at the last minute, such as broccoli or spinach or fish. I’m not speaking of ready meals but frozen foods.

So the day that you forgot to buy carrots, you will anyway have some veggies to eat. Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. You will be more likely to eat in moderation, if you prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance. Cook your own meals and do not go shopping when you’re hungry.

Limit the amount of tempting foods you have at home. I have no crisps, chocolate or junk food at home. So when I’m hungry and I want to eat it, I have only healthy food. Drink lot of water and herbal teas to feel full.

10. Try to get enough sleep. Two hormones regulate the normal feelings of hunger and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin sends signals to the brain when you’re full. These hormones when you lack of sleep, don’t work that well. Let’s not forget that, however, poor sleep increases levels of stress that can lead to emotional eating.

11. Avoid all soft drinks like coca cola, pepsi , fruit juices… drink only water, lemon water, potassium and magnesium supplements and herbal teas. Beverages such as cola and soda contain endless amounts of sugar that can ruin your body, sabotage glucose levels in the blood and make you gain weight. Don’t drink too much alcohol.

12. Exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Whether it’s a walk , a run, dancing or whatever, it increase your energy levels, improves your shape and makes you feel better because of endorphins. Start with 10 minutes, but just do it.

Start right now to change your eating habits. If necessary ask for help to a nutritionist and attend dancing classes or go to the gym. Do something today to get what you want and achieve your goals. If you want something, just go and take it ! Do not sit on the couch thinking “I’ll never make it .” Make your journey interesting. What kind of person would you like to become? What kind of things you want to be able to achieve? What kind of sports appear fun to you?

These are the most important strategies that I use to keep myself in good physical shape. They are possible and simple . Do something today to get what you want and achieve your goals . If you want something take it!

 

Exercising: smart tips to make it enjoyable

exercising

Exercising in the minds of many, means spending hours suffering for a result that never comes. Is this always true? Exercising is not about being gym-addicted, but taking care of our own health. This includes activities like yoga, dancing, stretching or even just going out for a walk every day.

It not only helps to improve our physical and mental wellbeing, but also alleviate depression, anxiety, stress, increase cheerfulness, improve our mood and make us feel much better. Exercise does release endorphins, that are chemicals that affect our mood and make us feel good.

I was allergic to any kind of exercise and sport, but I can assure you that when I start moving now, even for just half an hour a day, I feel much better both physically and mentally and at peace with myself.

You might say you do not have time. Well, there is also a 7 minutes workout, which are a series of bodyweight exercises with few repetitions that allow us to wake up our body and make us feel immediately more active.

Usually it is always best to start with an aerobic activity: dancing to the beat of the music you love can be a great way to start moving. Or just take a walk at fast pace for 30 minutes or clean the house. Just start moving!

Exercising daily will make you realize how good is for you to move and how much it can decrease your stress level.

To begin exercising, the best thing to do is to find an activity that:

– Doesn’t involve too much effort

– Is fun

– Takes a few minutes of your time (a minimum of 10 minutes to a maximum of 30)

Start with little and then, with time, increase the amount of exercises. Have a specific time for physical activity. Your goal has to be specific.

One of my ex-colleague told me that she lost 20 pounds when she was a teenager deciding to exercise every day at 5 pm. No matter what she was doing: at 5 she had to be home to exercise for an hour.
I wish you could see the before and after pics! I didn’t recognized her!

You can take advantage of all the physical and mental benefits of exercise with 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. The more you exercise, the more energy you have. The important thing is to stay active every day, even if for a short time.

Especially in the beginning, to install the new habit, you have to practice daily with no interruption, not even for Saturdays and Sundays. You only need a 30 minutes’ walk. That’s all. Just do it.

Aerobic activities such as running, cycling and swimming, strengthen your heart and help to lose weight. Lifting weights increases muscle strength and resistance. Stretching and yoga reduce pain and muscle stiffness. Decide what you need to do for your physical wellbeing and then have fun with that!

It takes very little to make a difference. Sometimes it is useful to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or take a walk, or clean in the house, or play with the Wii.

The basic step is to keep moving: whatever you are doing, just move!

Little tricks to make it enjoyable

– Focus on activities that you love. If you love to dance or play football, choose this kind of activities

– Focus on short-term goals. Define your goals: like being able to do a 5 km walk or taking the stairs without breathing hard

– Make it a habit. At the beginning you only need 10 minutes per day .

– Focus on having fun. Enjoy what you do and make it a necessity (a walk in a park on your lunch break can help your regain a quite mind)

– Find someone with whom to do it. You can go jogging with a friend and chat in the meantime

Easy Tips

– Always warm up the muscles at the beginning with aerobic activities

– Always do stretching at the end of your workout

– Drink at least 1 liter of water a day

– Make exercise a social activity

Motivation

Motivation is fundamental. If you don’t do it for the right reasons, in less than a week you’ll quit. Why do you really want to do it? Is it a 30 days trial or you want to make it your life-style? You need it for your health or it could also be a way to get more fun into your life?

Set yourself goals and rewards (eg if you become able to run 5 miles, buy yourself a new pair of shoes)

Record your progresses. Take before and after pics. Record how many miles you can do in the beginning and how much after a month. Take the “challenges of the 30 days,” where the exercises gradually increase in resistance and repetitions.

Let yourself be inspired. There are a lot of pages on Facebook with daily fitness motivational quotes. Like them and visit them daily.

Start from today. What could you do to be more active? Take yoga classes? Spend your lunch break to walk in a park instead of in front of the pc? Use the bike to go to the grocery store instead of the car? Take the stairs instead of using the elevator? Dance for 10 minutes to the rhythm of your favorite music? Have fun with that! 🙂

 

The Mediterranean Diet: italian myths and tips

The Mediterranean diet

When it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, usually the one thing that comes to everybody’s mind is pasta and pizza and never ending dinners.

Although especially here in Italy we eat a lot of pasta and notoriously our dinners are long, the true Mediterranean diet actually consists mainly of vegetables and fresh food.

Here in Italy especially, there is the tradition of homemade food, so we tend to avoid frozen and junk food.

My grandmother and my mother taught me that a meal is healthy only if made ​​of fresh ingredients, so very often, every dish is cooked at the moment (and it takes just usually about half an hour to do that).

The average ration of pasta is about 70-100 grams for each person and the rest of the meal consists of fresh vegetables, fish, fruit, olive oil and cereals, which help incredibly to fight heart disease, cognitive decline , cancer and diabetes.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is based on the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean around 1960 at a time when the rates of chronic disease among the people there were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest, even if the media services have been limited.

The Mediterranean includes also daily exercise and to enjoyment of the pleasures of a good calm dinner with others.

There are some myths of the Mediterranean diet to clarify, derived from old movies and distorted representations.

alberto sordi

1. We drink wine from morning to night

Drinking a glass of red wine can help circulation and our heart. But drinking a whole bottle hurts. We all know that lot of alcohol hurts. My parents only drink a bottle of wine in an entire week.

2. Eating tons of pasta, bread and pizza is the norm

Wrong. A plate of pasta is usually around 70-100 grams. And the toppings are made with homemade gravy, pesto sauces and fresh ingredients. The rest of the meal usually consists of vegetables as a side dish (fresh tomatoes, raw carrots, lettuce, broccoli, spinach) and meat or fish. In Italy we do not use salad dressings, but olive oil, salt and lemon (sometimes even a bit of vinegar). The basics are to eat fresh and homemade food and lot of vegetables and fruits. It takes very little time to cook a homemade dish. Following the traditional Mediterranean diet is cheap, because we try to avoid too much meat, cheese and frozen foods (which usually cost more)

3. Mediterranean diet makes you lose weight

The Mediterranean diet is healthy because it is based primarily on fresh food and lots of vegetables. But to be healthy and fit, also daily physical activity is required. Take a walk every day for half an hour at a moderate speed. When my grandmother was a young woman, they used to consume a lot of vegetable protein (meat was usually eaten once a month) and work in the fields or at home was the norm. Exercise is fundamental to health.

4. You eat until you burst

For weddings it is true that there is a tradition to eat a lot, but during the week, lunch or dinner last an hour or more because because we spend our time talking. This is the beauty of eating together. I speak for Italy, lunch or dinner is a chance to talk and share precious time together. We gather around the table at a set time and eat slowly, chatting and enjoying this precious time.

The health benefits of a Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is based on the consumption of lots of fruits and vegetables, fish and olive oil. This type of diet, rich in fiber and antioxidants, combined with daily physical activity (even just a fast paced walk) reduces the risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

How to make it your own?
How can you use the Mediterranean diet to eat healthier?

Here’s some simple tips to follow the Mediterranean diet:

Eat a plate of fresh vegetables as side dish to any meal, such as chopped carrots, fennel, tomatoes and salad (and for fresh vegetables I mean real tomatoes bought at the supermarket, no oily tomatoes in a jar that once I have been served in a restaurant in the UK along with a horrible salad). Avoid salad dressings, use instead olive oil and lemon. Learn to cook easy recipes to eat homemade food.

For breakfast, it depends on the areas. Personally, I eat slices of wholewheat bread, orange juice and either tea or coffee with cereals.

Replace red meat with fish. Tuna, salmon, and sardines are rich in Omega -3 fatty acids, and shellfish such as mussels, oysters and clams have similar benefits for the health of the brain and heart.

To eat a lot of vegetables all at once, you can also make vegetable soup. Just boil broccoli, beans, carrots, potatoes and zucchini all together. Just boil them, add a pinch of salt and blend them. Once ready, add a spoon of olive oil.

Eat seasonal fresh fruits, preferably between meals, as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. When I worked in my former company, my habit was to bring with me a couple of tangerines, or an apple or a banana. Fresh fruits meet the needs of your body for sugar.

– Use olive oil instead of butter.

P.s. Pasta should be “al dente”, not overcooked. Buy durum wheat brown pasta (and brown rice). De Cecco is the best. 😉