Staying Hydrated in Cold Weather

When the temperature outside becomes freezing, the last thing on your mind is drinking a nice cold glass of water. However, dehydration doesn’t disfavor the cooler months. In fact, it may be easier to become dehydrated as the dry winter weather can lead to a decreased thirst sensation, causing you to drink less.

Up to 60% of the human adult body is made up of water, which is why our bodies need water in order to function properly. Staying hydrated is essential and beneficial for exercise, sleep, and so many other natural body functions. Drinking water can even give your immune system a boost and prevent you from getting sick during peak cold and flu season. Try these simple tips to help you stay hydrated this winter season:

  1. Carry a water bottle with you so you have an opportunity to drink more on the go
  2. If you are thirsty, don’t wait, stop and take a drink
  3. If your urine is dark, you may need to drink more water
  4. Drink mostly water; avoid alcohol and caffeine as these can cause dehydration
  5. Make sure to drink before, during, and after exercise

Hopefully, these five tips will be enough to remind you to keep your water intake up during the cooler months. Remember, stay hydrated so that you stay well!

4 Strategies for Enjoying, Not Overindulging, on Thanksgiving

Countless times we find ourselves off track from our healthy lifestyle, especially around the holidays. Tempted by so much delicious food, it can be especially hard to maintain or even introduce healthier eating and exercise habits.

To put things into perspective, a Thanksgiving meal on average will contain about 2,500 – 3,000 calories, not including the countless appetizers or snacks you had beforehand. That is about double the average of what we should be intaking in one day! Thankfully, you can still enjoy the Thanksgiving feast by following these simple tips on how to navigate the big meal.

  • Limit the carbs

This does not mean eliminate them. The key is not to have all of them in one meal and only indulging in one carb side such as macaroni and cheese, stuffing, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. Don’t deprive yourself, just be responsible.

  • Choose more vegetables

Be creative, you can make your vegetables more festive. Look for new recipes and try something different. It’s fun to experiment with food. By enjoying more vegetable dishes on your plate, you won’t miss the carbs as much. Butternut squash, and cauliflower, riced or smashed, are excellent options to replace the carbs.

  • Remember it does not have to be a one-day event

Leftovers taste even better. You can always eat one of the carb side dishes with each meal over the next 3 days after Thanksgiving. Then you’ll get a chance to taste everything without over indulging.

  • Activity is important

Eat earlier in the day, then you’ll have more time to burn off the calories. After you finish the meal, don’t just sit around. Help clean up the kitchen and go for a walk. This is another time you can be creative by planning some social activities that will get everyone involved and moving. Make it fun.

Enjoy yourself this Thanksgiving and do it in a way that you can feel great about yourself and your health.

5 Tips to Quit Smoking

November 17th is the Great American Smokeout – a great time to commit to finding ways to quit smoking. Use these five tips to help you on your way.

Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is a primary risk factor for the leading causes of death in the developed world.  Smoking may harm nearly every organ of the body and diminishes overall health. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema, osteoporosis, and cataracts. From your health and finances to your self-esteem and productivity, the rewards of quitting smoking are profound and begin immediately. Many people will experience the benefits of not using tobacco within 20 minutes of quitting, and as your tobacco-free days accumulate, the benefits will accumulate, too.

  1. Find Your Reason:

Why are you thinking about quitting? Is it to lower your chance of developing cancer, heart disease or other chronic conditions? To look and feel younger and prevent premature aging? To protect your family and friends from second hand smoke? To save money? Whatever it is that motivates you, acknowledge it, say it out loud and reaffirm to yourself that you are capable of quitting.

  1. Develop a Quit Plan:

Nicotine is very addictive and you will likely experience withdrawal upon quitting. That is why it is very important to establish a quit plan ahead of time. Will you go “cold turkey,” use nicotine replacement therapy, pharmaceuticals or mindfulness//hypnosis techniques.  This is a great time to talk with your doctor about your options and decide what method you believe will be best for you.

  1. Enlist Support:

Let your friends and family know you are going to quit. Having a support system will help keep you on track when you may be struggling. Have a main point of contact when you feel unsteady. Enlist a health coach to keep you on track. You may like to join a support group to share your experience and learn from others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others – a single phone call can help you reconnect with your intention and ward off cravings.

  1. Avoid Triggers and Create New Habits:

Recognize your triggers. Do you tend to reach for a cigarette after drinking alcohol or coffee? Are you more likely to light up when you are stressed or when you are in the car? Once you acknowledge these times and triggers, find a new habit to work towards instead of smoking. Avoid drinking and over eating. After coffee or a meal, brush your teeth or go for a walk. When you are in the car, dial a supportive friend or family member. When you feel stressed try exercising, take a long bath or use breath-work/meditation. Smell can be a trigger too so after your last cigarette get rid of ashtrays and lighters. Wash your clothes, clean your carpets, draperies, upholstery and car.

  1. Don’t Give Up:

Many people try several times before giving up cigarettes for good. If you slip, try not to get too discouraged. Instead, determine why you relapsed. Use this experience as a learning opportunity. Revaluate your quit plan and make adjustments as needed. Remember that within only one day of quitting your blood’s carbon monoxide level returns to normal. In just 2-3 weeks, you will start to lower your odds of having a heart attack. Quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of heart disease within the first 1 to 2 years, reduces respiratory issues and cancer risk. It’s never too late to quit!

Quitting smoking is not easy. If it was easy, you probably would not still be smoking. So I recommend that you prepare a battle plan using any or all of the techniques listed above. But be prepared for the battle and fight to win.

If you only try you may not succeed. But if try to win, your chances of quitting smoking and improving your overall health are much greater.

Dr. Steve Horvitz is R-Health’s Medical Director and one of the physician’s part of the NJ SHBP / SEHBP program