Plan for the Perfect 4th of July

Sunshine! Barbecues! Fireworks! The big national day is coming, and who doesn’t love a good July 4th celebration? If you’re planning on hosting or even just attending any of the festivities, planning and preparation can go a long way toward being safe and healthy this Independence Day. The fun times of the 4th can be fraught with peril if you’re not careful, but don’t worry; we’ve got the best tips to make sure this is your best 4th of July ever.

  • Bring some earplugs. A report from Loyola University Health System found that the sounds of summer—such as fireworks and marching bands—can damage your hearing. In fact, fireworks have a sound decibel of 150, and ear protection is recommended for decibels above 85. When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear; the longer you’re exposed to loud noise, the more likely you are to permanently damage your hearing. Toss some plugs in your bag or use your hands to cover your ears in a pinch. 
  • Swim in clear water. Swimming is great exercise, and a super way to cool off when overheated; However, a good rule of thumb is to only dip into clear, good-smelling water. For lake goers, make sure there isn’t any blue-green algae, or slimy, smelly, green film floating on the lake’s surface. Some forms of this can produce toxic bacteria that’s bad news for your health. 
  • Practice smart and safe eating. Keep from throwing your diet to the (hot) dogs by choosing wisely. Try to fill up on the delicious fresh fruits and veggies of summer instead of high carb, high calorie picnic foods. Choose lean proteins like skinless, grilled chicken over fatty burgers or ribs, for example. Avoid food-borne illnesses by eschewing mayonnaise-based salads. Instead go for options with oil and vinegar-based dressings which are generally lower in calories and risk of spoilage. 
  • SPF in advance. Applying your sunscreen in advance—and reapplying frequently—means you can significantly improve your skin’s protection from harmful rays.  
  • Follow the heat & humidity rule. To keep from dehydrating, implement the 70/70 rule: When the temperature and humidity are both above 70, you enter the dehydration danger zone. Stay safe by sipping frequently from a water bottle and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after activity.
  • Alternate your alcohol. If you choose to have a cocktail or two, the safest way to consume them is to make sure you have plenty of food in your stomach and to alternate each cocktail with a non-alcoholic beverage like water or decaf soda to help stave off alcohol-induced dehydration.

With a bit of preparation, some thoughtful food choices, and common-sense summer safety, you can have a wonderful holiday celebration. And don’t deprive yourself of a treat! Just choose wisely to get the most “bang” for your calorie choice. Happy holiday planning from all of us at VIPSurg.

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Health and the Holidays – How to Focus on Fun Not Food

Let’s face the facts here — most holidays are associated with certain foods. Our holiday gatherings usually revolve around an extravagant meal. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s creamy corn casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus of the day. Instead, get into the other rituals a holiday brings.

Lead an Activity

We’re not suggesting you forgo or even minimize the importance of the holiday feast or traditional foods, but adding in some physical activity is something that’s good for the whole group. You can be creative, but here are some holiday themed activities to get everyone up and moving:

  • Caroling – who doesn’t love belting out a holiday tune? And what fun it is to hear people laughing outside (2)singing, open your door, and see a group of neighbors reveling in holiday spirit! Basically, this is a walk with plenty of stops for resting for those older or less fit among us.
  • Cut your own tree – Don’t buy a tree from a roadside lot where the trees have been drying out for weeks. Instead, visit a tree farm where you can cut your own. The tree will be fresher and often less expensive than they are at the lot. Also, you will burn calories (and fight some of the blood-sugar effects of the sweets you’ve been sneaking) by tromping around the grounds in search of the perfect tree. *Added bonus: Your family will have one more pleasant holiday memory to look back on of a lovely walk through a pine forest with loved ones.
  • Be inventive – nobody knows your family and friends better than you, right? Maybe a little friendly competition is in order. Perhaps your family enjoys a game of flag football or even musical chairs can get the heart pumping.

The point is — try to add some fun group activities that will get you and others moving.

Be Selective at the Table

Some of the more fattening or unhealthy choices on the table will be common foods that you could eat any time of the year. Opt instead for the holiday specialties if you want to “spend” your calories wisely.

  • Choose baked sweet potatoes over the cream and butter-laden mashed potatoes on the buffet.
  • Pour the gravy and sauces lightly. You may not be able to control what’s being served at a holiday meal, but you can make the turkey, roast beef, and even mashed potatoes and stuffing much healthier by skipping the sauce or gravy or ladling on just a small amount.
  • Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. Skip the store-bought baked goods, but do save some calories in your ‘budget’ to sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your grandma’s special Yule log cake.

Teaching yourself what is worth indulging in and what to skip is much like budgeting your money: Do you want to blow it on mundane things that you can buy anywhere? Or do you want to spend it on a very special, one-of-a-kind souvenir? Don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually be overwhelmed, and you’ll end up overeating.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

 

 

 

Keeping Active during the Holidays

santa runThe holidays are here, and keeping on track for your diet and fitness goals can be even more challenging than ever. Traditional holiday feasts, along with extra errands can send your eating plan and workout routine spinning out of control, but it doesn’t have to be like that – especially when it concerns exercise. Here are some tips for getting in those essential workouts while still getting all of your holiday preparations done.

Keeping in mind that you don’t have to do your workout all at once but that it can be just as effective in chunks, shopping is the perfect time to get in plenty of walking. Park as far away from the door as possible, consider parking on the opposite end of the mall from your shopping destination and walking the length of the mall, and walk briskly to save time and pump up that heart rate.

Don’t discount the extra work around the house either. Did you vacuum before everyone came over? Did you spend an afternoon outside stringing lights? When you ask yourself if you are getting enough exercise during the holidays, remember all the time you spent on your feet cooking and bringing decoration up from the basement or down from the attic. It all counts!

Try to incorporate activity into your family traditions too. If the weather permits, Christmas caroling through the neighborhood gets everyone out for a nice walk. Start a tradition of having a flag football game after holiday brunch. Even a rousing game of charades can get folks up and moving. There are many ways to keep everyone active in a fun way.

Finally, don’t ignore your needs during this busy time. We often have so many notions of what’s expected of us from our families that we sacrifice the time we need to keep ourselves happy and energized. This year, make time for the things that are important to you and your health. If you have to give up something, skip the screen time, and go for a walk instead.