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Posted on 05-15-2012

Good Morning! Women often find themselves constantly busy with little time to focus on your own health. We always hear about the ideal ways to maintain health and fitness, but oftentimes those ways are difficult to manage or achieve.

Diet
Diet is a huge component to staying healthy. Many people believe that a diet such as vegan or vegetarian is the ideal way to have a healthy diet. In fact, a study was conducted about vegan dieters and showed a significant reduction in their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and more. Also specific to women, diets that limit animal protein are also an important way to reduce calcium loss, which in turn protects the bones. Bone loss is a critical health issue for women, especially during and after menopause. We've all heard of a vegetarian diet-one which excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Vegan diets are actually the strictest subcategory of vegetarians. Vegans do not consume any animal product or by-product.

That being said, those diets are very overwhelming and can be incredibly hard to maintain. Realistically, it's not so hard to move towards better diets-resembling those mentioned-by simply striving for one to two meatless meals per week. Normally, we tend to plan our meals around meat. For example, you're going to have chicken or a hamburger, surround it with other foods. Think about making the central part of the meal something other than meat such as mushrooms or beans. Of course, you don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan dieter to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet.

Exercise
Most women have a lot on their plate. Fitting in time to pick make lunches, drop off kids, schedule work meetings and make dinner can become overwhelming. Where do you fit in daily exercise? Although exercise is important for both men and women, some issues that overwhelmingly affect women, such as osteopenia/osteoporosis, are particularly responsive to an exercise program. Ideally, 30 minutes of exercise for at least five days a week is what we should all strive to maintain.

Realistically, you're not perfect! When it comes to exercise, it's not all of nothing. Squeeze in anything you can whether it be 10 minutes of strength training at home or a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood. Every minute counts. Also, remember to balance your workouts. You should be doing aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility-not just running or just lifting weights.  Check out crossfitredding.com for a great solution to a great workout in record time!

Stress Management
Not managing your stress is extremely detrimental to your health-both physically and emotionally. Stress can raise blood pressure and resting heart rate and lead to weight gain. Every single one of these things can cause cardiovascular disease. And if it goes untreated, long-term stress can cause even more medical problems.

Ideally, everyone could benefit from some form of daily meditation and relaxation, but that's often hard to do. Studies have shown that meditation may be particularly helpful for some issues that primarily affect women, such as chronic pelvic pain and fibromyalgia.

Most people do better with stress management in a guided fashion whether it's in a class or with a tape. Practice some sort of deep breathing whenever you can. This is really important if you're finding it difficult to sleep. Simple breathing concentration (inhale for 15 seconds and exhale for 15 seconds) will take your mind's focus off the daily worries and stresses and into a relaxed state.

Sleep
Ideally, most people need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. People who don't get enough sleep have higher risk for blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and not achieving weight-loss goals.

Realistically, seven to nine hours is not always going to happen. The most important thing to remember when it comes to sleep is to be regular. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time will help your body establish a routine. The more you stick to a routine, the better. Of course, it's ok to grab some catch-up sleep when you can! Studies suggest that napping is good for you. But they should only be 15 to 30 minutes long.

Try these sleep tips when you find yourself stay awake at night:

  • Practice deep breathing. Inhale for 15 seconds and exhale for 15 seconds.

  • Try to avoid television at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Especially stimulating shows such as crime mysteries or dramas.

  • Read something…boring. There's nothing wrong with reading in bed, but again, avoid the stimulating books such as thrillers or mysteries tempting you to keep reading.

  • Keep you room cool, quite and dark. The ideal sleep temperature is 68 degrees.

    Have a blessed day folks!

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