Being more active is one of the top New Year’s Resolutions.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS Photo: Sally Lanigan.
Well, it’s that time of year again. January 1st has finally rolled around and I still have not completed last year’s New Year’s Resolution. If you’re like me, your resolution is to lose weight in 2022. Maybe you have chosen to quit smoking, exercise more, or try to be more positive. Maybe these resolutions sound familiar to you because they were last year’s resolutions, too!
You don’t have a New Year’s Resolution yet? Below is a list of some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions that could help you spark an idea!
Exercising with others can help you stay on track to reach your wellness goals.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Save more money
- Quit the use of tobacco
- Quit the use of alcohol
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Travel more
- Read more
So, how do you ensure that you are going to stick to your resolution? Below are a few New Year’s Resolution tips to help us create long-lasting change:
- Dream big! The bigger, the better. Do you want to learn to run a marathon? Do you want to fit back into those jeans you wore in high school? Being ambitious will help inspire others around you to cheer you on toward those goals.
- Break that big dream down into smaller pieces. Running 26 miles seems daunting, but when you start with just walking 1 mile, you will soon gain the confidence to push for more. Choosing to reach for healthier snacks, such as carrots or celery instead of potato chips, is a small change that can affect your diet. You do not have to deprive yourself of foods you enjoy to lose weight. You just have to focus on portion control. Small steps will move you forward to your ultimate goal.
- Commit yourself to your goals! Write them down, post your goals on social media, or verbally promise to others that you are going to do it. Hold yourself accountable to what you are trying to do. Sometimes, making a public announcement will encourage others to join you on your journey. They can push you to be the best version of yourself, while also holding you accountable.
- Give yourself a pat on the back! “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, neither will you accomplish your end goal in one day. Typically, our new year’s resolutions take time, sometimes a very long time. Encourage yourself to keep going by acknowledging what you do accomplish!
- Learn from your past. I am not perfect, you are not perfect, no one is perfect! We all stumble at times, but it is how we recover that will set us up for success or failure. If you “fall off the healthy-eating train” one evening, don’t beat yourself up or give up. Tomorrow is a new day, and you can resolve to recover from your mistakes to get back on track.
- Support! I have mentioned inspiring others already, but you need support, too. Accept help from those who care about you to help you achieve your goals. Consider joining a support group, such as a workout class at the gym or a group of co-workers to quit smoking. These individuals share your struggles and want to see you succeed, which makes the challenge less intimidating!
- The 3 R’s: Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce. The 3 R’s can help you make a long-term change. Reflect on your current situation, i.e. eating habits. Replace those unhealthy habits with healthier ones. Reinforce these changes in your daily life.
Use the Nutrition Facts label to make healthy food choices.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS.
According to the American Psychological Association, “By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your every day life.” The dreaded New Year’s Resolution does not have to seem unattainable. If you plan to make a New Year’s Resolution this year, limit the number of resolutions you choose so that you can focus on them. By creating new habits and making small changes, you can do anything you put your mind to!
Trees help to clean the air and provide a relaxing setting to reduce stress.
Photo credit: Anitra Mayhann
Do you know how vital trees really are? Trees conserve soil and water and clean the air. Research has shown that there are both mental and physical health benefits from forests. Trees provide us with oxygen through photosynthesis. Not to mention, think of the beauty they add to an area. Florida has celebrated Arbor Day for many years, since 1886 to be exact. It is the third Friday in January, whereas the National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April.
We can improve our health just by spending time outside in nature. Forests and trees can boost our immune system, reduce stress, increase our ability to sleep as well as boost energy levels while improving mood and helping us to focus. Studies in health care show a link between nature and health. Plants put off airborne chemicals called phytoncides to repel insects. The antifungal and antibacterial qualities that are put off in this process help us as we breathe them in by increasing our white blood cell count.
It is important that we remove ourselves occasionally from our office or home to explore green spaces to take a mental break. That might mean a walk in the forest, gardening, exercising, or resting and meditating to unplug from our fast-paced busy life. Many doctors encourage and incorporate this type of therapy for wellness for their patients and for children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.
There are many ways to celebrate trees. They are a great gift for birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. You might also consider planting a tree in honor of a family member who has passed on or to remember a beloved pet. This year, give a gift that gives back as well as be encouraged to celebrate Florida’s Arbor Day on January 21st, 2022.
Many holidays celebrate something we remember, but Arbor Day is a way to celebrate hope for the future by planting a tree to support a healthy community. I encourage you to check with your local government offices, Forrester, or Extension office to see if there are any special celebrations planned that you could join or plan your own activity to honor trees as a resource and how they impact your environment.
For more information, visit Arbor Day Foundation or Florida Urban and Community Forestry.
The holiday season is finally upon us. It’s a time for enjoying family, friends, and food!
You can make healthy habits this holiday season. It’s not only a single meal but rather an entire season of parties, events, gatherings festivities, and unhealthy choices that add up to that holiday weight gain we resolve to lose when January rolls around. As the holiday season begins its rapid approach, take time and consider those eating habits that set your new year off on the wrong foot. Why not make a resolution now to eat healthier this holiday season?
Just a few simple strategies can help make the difference and keep those unwanted pounds away. Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t skip meals. Eating healthy on a regular basis will keep you from overindulging at holiday gatherings.
- Use smaller plates for meals and gatherings and be mindful of portions
- Choose more vegetables and smaller helpings of entrees and desserts
- Drink more water and minimize alcoholic drinks and eggnog
- Make healthier recipe ingredient substitutions when cooking and baking
Take a mindful approach to keeping your personal health goals in-check. We can all still experience the joy of the holiday season, without making food the focus. Make a resolution to be mindful and eat healthier this holiday season, and your waistline will thank you!
Learn more about making healthy habits this holiday season!
— Tips for Making Healthy Choices
— Simple Substitutions
— Diabetes During the Holidays
— How to Add Fruits and Veggies
— Cranberry Nutrition
— Cranberry Sauce Recipe
— Holiday Food Safety Tips
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Take care of your bones today for better quality of life tomorrow!
According to the National Institutes of Health, about one in every two Americans over the age of 50 may already have or be at risk of developing osteoporosis. (1) Osteoporosis is a disease where, over time, bone quality and strength decline, making bones more likely to fracture and break. Fractures can develop not only as a result of a slip or fall but also from everyday sneezing or coughing. If your doctor diagnoses you with osteoporosis, the best course of action for slowing its progression may be prescription medication. However, nutrition and exercise can help provide a good foundation to prevent or delay disease development. (1)
Know Your Risks
While all risks are not completely understood, there is a genetic factor linked to osteoporosis – mainly, if poor bone mineral density runs in the family. In addition to genetic factors, poor nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol, and a lack of exercise can all increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. It is important to talk to your doctor to discuss your level of risk and prevention measures. (1)
Build More Bone
Although they may not seem like it, bones are a living tissue and go through times of building and breakdown during the life cycle. Bones grow the most during childhood, but they also change and become stronger as an adult by doing exercises like weightlifting or running. (1) Similar to a savings account or retirement fund, the more you build when you are young, the more you can afford to spend as you age. Current recommendations to support strong bones include muscle strengthening exercises at least two times per week. These exercises require your muscles to do more work than doing just day-to-day activities. Additionally, strength training exercises should be done to the point where it would be difficult to perform one or two more repetitions. Examples include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and doing body weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and planks. Additionally, climbing stairs, and carrying heavy loads (such as groceries and heavy gardening) also count when done frequently.(2)
Support Your Bones
In addition to exercise, nutrition plays a large role in promoting healthy bones. The two most important nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is what gives bones their strength but is also involved in many other processes in the body. If you do not regularly consume enough calcium, your body takes it from your bones. (3) If this happens for long enough, your bones will become weakened and begin to develop osteoporosis. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium. Not having enough vitamin D can impact your bones, even if you get enough calcium from your diet. (4)
||Vitamin D (IU/day)
|Infants 0-6 months
|Infants 6-12 months
|1-3 years old
|4-8 years old
|9-13 years old
|14-18 years old
|19-30 years old
|31-50 years old
|> 70 years old
|14-18 years old, pregnant/lactating
|19-50 years old, pregnant/lactating
Recommended Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes (5) Definitions: mg = milligrams; IU = International Units
Bone Strengthening Foods
There are a variety of food sources that provide calcium and vitamin D. Calcium can be found in dairy products, green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods. Examples of calcium-containing dairy products include cheese, yogurt, and reduced-fat milk. Other calcium-fortified foods include breads, orange juice, cereals, and tofu. When it comes to vitamin D in your diet, be sure to include fatty fish such as tuna and salmon. There are smaller amounts of vitamin D found in cheese, mushrooms, and beef liver. Similar to calcium, there are many vitamin D-fortified foods available. Some examples are cereals, orange juice, milk, and milk products. Check out the two tables below for calcium and vitamin D food sources. (5)
Calcium Content of Selected Foods
||Milligram (mg) per serving
|Sardines, canned in oil
|Cheddar cheese, shredded
||1 ½ oz
|Yogurt, reduced fat, no solids
|2% milk (reduced fat)
||8 fl oz
||8 fl oz
|Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat
||2 cups, unpacked
|Mozzarella, part skim
||1 ½ oz
|Tofu firm, with calcium
|Orange juice, calcium fortified
||6 fl oz
|Tofu soft, with calcium
|Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve
|Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium fortified
|Turnip greens, boiled
|Vanilla ice cream
|Soy beverage, calcium fortified
||8 fl oz
||1, 6” diameter
|Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured
Adapted from Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. (7)
Vitamin D Content of Selected Foods
||Micrograms (mcg) per serving
||International Units (IU) per serving
|Cod liver oil
|Rainbow trout, cooked
|Salmon (sockeye), cooked
|White mushrooms, raw, exposed to UV light
|2% milk, vitamin D fortified
|Soy, almond, & oat milk, vitamin D fortified
|Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% DV vitamin D
|Sardines (Atlantic), canned in oil, drained
|Beef liver, braised
|Tuna fish (light), canned in water, drained
|Portabella mushrooms, raw, diced
|Chicken breast, roasted
|Ground beef, 90% lean, broiled
|Broccoli, raw, chopped
Adapted from Vitamin D – Fact sheet for health professionals (8)
Stay Safe and Healthy as You Age
Osteoporosis can be a serious and life changing diagnosis. However, adopting healthy habits like limiting smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can decrease your risk. Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D each day and getting regular muscle building exercise at least twice a week can also help protect your bones. Women over the age of 65, or anyone diagnosed as “at risk,” should be regularly screened for osteoporosis by a doctor during their yearly physical health exam. (6,7,8)
Making healthy lifestyle choices from a young age can help prevent or delay osteoporosis, but once you’re diagnosed, the best course of action for slowing its progression may be prescription medication. Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program or for interactions with medications.
- “Osteoporosis Overview.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/overview.
- S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.
- “Osteoporosis.” Edited by Susan Randall, Osteoporosis | Office on Women’s Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 20 May 2019, https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/osteoporosis.
- “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 Mar. 2021, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminD-HealthProfessional/
- S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov
- Palmer S. Bone Health and Diet. Today’s Dietitian. 2013;15(2):44.
- Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone health and osteoporosis: A report of the surgeon general. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004. Table 7-2, Selected Food Sources of Calcium. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45523/table/ch7.t2/
- Vitamin D – Fact sheet for health professionals. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/#h3. Published August 17, 2021. Accessed November 11, 2021.
Guest contributors: Andrew Treble and Lexi Fraino are master’s students and Dietetic Interns from Florida State University’s Department of Nutrition & Integrative Physiology.
Until July 2, 2021, I felt confident I had done everything possible to stay safe and avoid contracting Covid-19. Throughout 2020 and well into 2021, I worked from home, socialized very little, quarantined when necessary, wore my mask, and constantly washed my hands. In fact, I may have dry skin on my hands for the rest of my life, but I still wash my hands frequently. The Covid-19 virus has become a controversial issue over the past two years, but my story is from real experience.
Keeping your fever under control is a necessity when battling Covid-19. Photo credit: Melanie Taylor
As I prepared to have a safe, but fun, Fourth of July weekend with a few vaccinated friends, I was winding down my Friday at work and started to feel achy. I headed home, excited for a 3-day weekend, but I still felt like I was dragging. My husband and I had plans to meet up with friends at a restaurant with outdoor seating, but before I left the house, I decided to take my temperature, just to be cautious. To our surprise, I had a fever of 99.9. We canceled our dinner plans and I took some acetaminophen, went to bed early, and we prayed it was not Covid-19. It was kind of an unspoken prayer because neither of us wanted to admit we were a little nervous about my symptoms. As the weekend carried on, I felt sicker as the hours and days went by and barely left the sofa or bed. On Sunday morning, I woke up with a bad dry, hard cough so my husband called my doctor. To be totally transparent, I am immunocompromised, so we both knew there was a chance I could have a breakthrough case even though I was vaccinated. Based on my symptoms, my doctor recommended I go to the emergency room and be evaluated since it was a 3-day weekend. I followed his directions, had a chest x-ray, which, thankfully, was clear, but I tested positive for Covid-19.
Let me honestly say, this was the sickest I had ever felt in my memories. For about twelve straight days, I laid on the sofa, took my temperature and oxygen levels, had no sense of taste or smell, ate food with no taste to keep up my strength, hydrated, and slept. The body aches, fever, dry cough, and fatigue were debilitating. I had every Covid-19 symptom listed by the CDC except for a headache. I thought to myself many times how bad and scary this could have been if I had not been vaccinated. My doctor clearly expressed his opinion that if I had been unvaccinated, I would have been hospitalized, no questions asked. Unlike many people, it was not recommended for me to take a regimen of pills or vitamins, so I fought it with acetaminophen, lots of hydration, healthy foods, and tons of rest. When I finally woke up on July 14th and could smell the coffee brewing, I knew the end was finally in sight. It still took two more weeks to feel and return to normal, and I knew firsthand this virus is no joke.
Like many of you, I know people that have tested positive and showed no symptoms, some that felt very sick but were able to stay home and recover, and some that never made it home from the hospital. I work in the field of science as a UF/IFAS Extension Agent and feel very strongly that we can all make simple efforts to reduce exposure to ourselves and others. The most important step is to pay attention to the symptoms and stay home if we suspect illness or exposure. Even though I was looking forward to the holiday festivities, I made a conscious decision to stay home on July 2nd just in case I really was positive with Covid-19. I wanted to keep my friends and family safe just in case there was a remote chance I was contagious. I feel very grateful I did not expose them to this virus.
Checking your oxygen levels while sick with Covid-19 is a must. Photo credit: Melanie Taylor
The positive cases in Florida are lower right now, and that is fantastic. I am very excited about it too, but I also know we still shouldn’t put our guard down. Please stay aware. Be aware if you or a family member(s) have been exposed or do not feel well, and check for symptoms. I highly recommend every American household have a reliable thermometer, a pulse oximeter (safe oxygen levels should not go lower than 92), fluids for hydration, and foods of different textures because eating food without being able to taste and smell is very difficult. Different food temperatures, spice levels, and textures made eating to keep up my strength easier for me to handle.
The past two years have been stressful, emotional, and very exhausting. We still cannot forget to stay aware and diligent in our everyday lives to keep our families, friends, and communities healthy. Please revisit these CDC websites as needed and always consult your doctor when you have questions and concerns. Stay aware and healthy out there!
What do you think of when you hear the word bacteria? If you are like most people, you probably think of those teeny, tiny germs that are invisible to the naked eye, but have the potential to cause serious illness. And while you would not be wrong to think that way, you would be leaving out a huge percentage of bacteria that are considered “good” bacteria.
The common name for “good” bacteria is probiotics (from the roots pro and biota, meaning “for life”). They are a group of beneficial microorganisms that have been shown to improve a variety of digestive and other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infections.
Foods like Greek yogurt are a good source of probiotics, which have been shown to have a positive effect on digestive health. (Photo source: Samantha Kennedy)
Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, primarily fermented foods such as Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, fermented drinks such as buttermilk and kombucha, and pickled vegetables such as pickles and sauerkraut. The bacteria required for the fermentation process – the process that gives these foods their tangy flavor – have been shown to provide natural health benefits.
The primary benefit of probiotics is their positive effect on a variety of gastrointestinal ailments such as diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and stomach ulcers. According to Harvard Medical School, probiotics can also help reduce the presence of harmful bacteria, such as H. pylori and C. difficile, both of which can cause digestive problems.
In Northern Europe and many Asian countries, people get probiotics mainly from food sources, where fermented foods are consumed more regularly. Here in the United States, many people get probiotics from over-the-counter (OTC) supplements. These products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, however, so when choosing OTC supplements, be wary of the claims they make.
The information about probiotics is not all positive, however. Some people report an increase in diarrhea after taking probiotics for the first time, which usually goes away with time. Also, people with a compromised immune system may experience illness caused by probiotics if too many are taken.
That being said, OTC probiotics have also been shown to have positive effects on health, when taken as directed. However, they are not a cure-all, and more research needs to be done to learn more about their complete effects on gastrointestinal health and immune support. Just like with other supplements, it is important to consult with a physician or pharmacist before beginning a probiotic regimen.
So, what is the final word on probiotics? Well, it depends. While they are not a magic bullet that can cure everything that ails you, they can be a positive addition to a healthy diet. Many foods that contain probiotics also contain other important nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals, which are an important part of a nutritious diet.
One more thing: do not confuse prebiotics with probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible, short-chain carbohydrates that serve as fuel for probiotics. On their own, they do not offer any health benefits, but they can serve to promote the growth of probiotic species. Foods with high amounts of prebiotics include fruits and vegetables and whole grains, so a diet rich in these foods can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
To learn more about probiotics, please contact your local Extension agent.
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