Fit Tips

Watch for new Fit Tips every Wednesday in the Republican Eagle

on the Health Page (back page of Section B).

Loop it. Red Wing has seven gorgeous walking loops, each with its own character, so this week try at least one. Locations are at the Anderson Center, A.P. Anderson Park, Oakwood Cemetery, Memorial Park, Bay Point Park, Colvill Park, and Levee Park. To see a map of all the walking loops and how many times around equal one, two, or three miles, visitwww.livehealthyredwing.org (click "Maps") or look on the back of any Neighborhood Walking Map (available at the web site above, the library, and numerous places throughout the city).

Switch to brown rice. This change isn't just a little -- it's a LOT -- healthier for you. Brown rice is simply white rice that hasn't been refined yet so it still has the side hull and bran. Unlike white rice, brown rice is a whole-grain food that helps normalize your cholesterol, aids your digestion, and makes you feel full longer (so you're not prone to snacking). It also stabalizes blood sugar levels and is rich in anti-oxidants. It's incredibly easy to make but takes longer to cook. Just follow the package's directions. To serve, combine it with sauteed summer vegetables and white wine vinegar, with mushrooms aside grilled meats, or in the soup of your choice. It goes with everything.

Spruce up your space where neighbors walk. It's the perfect time to take a look around your yard--especially the area that others use when they walk or bike. It's possible you always use your back door and don't pay attention to your front walk. Or maybe you live along an alley that you don't think others use (but do). Wherever you live--or own as a landlord--take time this week to look around and see what others see. Trim tree branches that hang over your sidewalk, and edge your walk so it's wide enough for people to enjoy. Cut the grass that the rain keeps ever-growing. You'll even burn some calories at the same time.

Let in the dark leafy greens. If you haven't tried a few different varieties in awhile, now's the time. At the store or farmers' market, buy Swiss chard and/or collard greens and saute them for a few minutes with plenty of diced garlic (also great for your body). Then drizzle lots of lemon juice on top and you'll be surprised how much you like it. Serve with anything from grilled meats to a soup or sandwich.

Visit the Red Wing Farmers Market. This Saturday the 4th you can peruse local produce and wares while listening to live jazz music with the American Queen river boat in the background. Every Saturday the Farmers Market moves from its weekday location at City Hall down to the river at the Depot green. This Saturday you can also see a beehive, learn how bees make honey, and buy fresh honey (try replacing it for the syrup on your pancakes!). Open 8:00 to 1:00; see redwingfarmersmarket.org for more details.

Walk around the traffic. New temporary parking signs are up, reminding all of us (not just visitors) that it's easy to park in underused ramps or lots and walk downtown, along the Main Street corridor, or to Old West Main. Walking lets you maneuver around traffic faster during construction, and you'll get closer to your targeted 10,000 steps a day. Watch soon for temporary pedestrian signs to go up, signaling how long it takes to walk to key areas. Today, pick one time you would normally drive and walk to that spot instead--even if it's just a block or minute away.

Walk during errands. Downtown construction gives you another good reason to walk while getting errands done. You already know about free public lots like Studebaker, Downtown Plaza, and LaGrange. But try other areas, too, like the90 open stalls along West 6th Street next to the police station, the 17 stalls next to Levee Park, or the 50 stalls in the Legion lot at the corner of 4th and Potter. All are free, open to the public, and close enough to walk to all your downtown destinations in minutes.

Eat a good breakfast. It jump-starts your metabolism, gives you energy, and fends off the temptation to snack through morning. Breakfast eaters tend to exercise more and feel better all day. Healthy choices include oatmeal, Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen blueberries on top, grapefruit, fresh or hard-boiled eggs, and (believe it or not) watermelon. If you've got a pizza-for-breakfast, on-the-run routine or you don't eat breakfast at all, switch for one week and test the results. Your body won't lie. You'll feel better.

Park and walk. It's still easy to get around downtown during the highway construction--just park and walk a couple of minutes to your destination. There's plenty of free public parking at lots like LaGrange (behind Red Wing Shoe Co.), Studebaker (next to the library), and the Downtown Plaza ramp (entrance on 4th Street across from Jordan Towers). Downtown is so walkable you only need to park once to do everything. Try different parking spots and find your favorite for the summer.

Break a sweat. It's absolutely true that walking and doing any moderate movement makes you feel better and be healthier by drastic amounts. But this week, make yourself sweat. Moving enough to "break a sweat" is shown to reduce your risk of stroke even more--and produce a chain reaction in your body that lessens depression. You still don't have to run for miles; just break a light sweat for 10 to 15 minutes and you'll feel better all day.

Celebrate Earth Day. Since today is Earth Day, do something that feels good to you outside. It might be walking, biking, hiking, fishing, sightseeing, playing catch, gardening, or something completely different. It's your day, your Earth -- go out and enjoy it.

Eat slower. This one small change makes a big difference (and may be harder to do than you think). When we eat slowly, our bodies have time to register our food so we can tell we're getting full before it's too late. Not only do we eat less, we also enjoy the food more. Try it every day this week; you'll feel better because of it.

Pay attention behind the wheel; slow down for walkers and bikers. In a hurry? Distracted with your phone, the radio, or your morning coffee? Make a commitment right now to slow down and focus when you're driving and make the street safer. Our warmer weather means many more residents are walking and biking to and from school, work, activities, or around the neighborhood. Everyone owns the road--we all need to share it.

Hike during leafless weather. Yes, hiking the bluffs is fantastic right nowbefore the trees leaf out. You'll see beautiful overlooks everywhere without tree cover, and it's easy to orient yourself. Cool weather, no bugs, and a wealth of bird song. People travel hundreds of miles to get this and we have it out our front door. For Barn Bluff, take East 5th Street to the end and you'll find the trail head steps. For Memorial Park, drive up Skyline Drive from East Seventh Street, or walk up any of four other trail entrances: at the corner of Bluff and East Eighth Street; at the end of Wilkinson Street; up the steps at Bush and 13th Street; or from the Mississippi National Golf Links parking lot at the very east end of Bush Street. For Billings-Tomfohr Conservation Area on Coon Hill, take any of three access trails: from the Twin Bluff Middle School east parking lot; from the east end of Neil Street; or from the Red Oak/Sumac Drive entrance just off Spruce Drive. Also take advantage of our local neighborhood trails: The Oakwood Cemetery Trail at the east end of East Avenue; the Historical Society Trail from Oak Street or from the West 4th Street steps; or Sand Hill Trail from the top of West Avenue or the corner of Grace and Kingman. Happy hiking!

Control the barking! The most common reason children say they don't like to walk to school or the park? Barking dogs. You may have a beautiful, fun, lovable canine, but when it barks at a child, your dog feels scary. As students and neighbors start walking more this spring, please be aware of your pet, especially when it's in your yard. It helps everyone--especially kids.

Put sunshine on your plate. Yellow foods like pineapples, bell peppers, squash, bananas, lemons, and corn are all super healthy and taste delicious (even to kids!). Many are full of things like limonoids, lutein, and the enzyme bromelain--all of which do things like increase digestion, keep eyes strong, and promote overall health. For an ultra-easy side dish with lots of cheery yellow, mix these items together: 1 can corn (or 1 cup frozen), 1 can diced pineapple, 1 cup fresh chopped yellow and red bell pepper, 1 can rinsed black beans, 1 can chopped green chilies,1-2 cloves diced garlic. Mix together with 1/4 cup orange juice; salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes for flavors to intensify. Top with cilantro if desired. Serve alone, with tortillas, or atop grilled chicken. Delicious!

Have strong will power at the grocery store so you can relax and snack better at home. Shop when you're not hungry and your determination is strong so you fill your cart with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other healthy snacks. When your cupboards are full of foods that are good for you, you'll eat those simply because they're available (you'll have no other options!). When you're hungry, it will be easier to grab a banana, a handful of nuts, or carrots with dip. If chips, pop, and overly processed items are at your fingertips, however, you'll reach for them without even thinking. Don't worry -- soon you'll get used to better snacking and won't need as much will power at the store.

Remember Vitamin D. We're finally seeing the sun more minutes per day, but we Minnesotans are also emerging from our darkest months. This time of year, many of us are low or extremely low on Vitamin D (often called "the sunshine vitamin), which can lead to bone brittleness, mood swings, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, some cancers, and even cognitive decline. To combat this, eat foods high in vitamin D such as salmon, canned tuna, sardines, fortified milk, and eggs. If you choose, take a supplement (including yummy chewy "gummy vitamins" for adults and/or children). Then go outside and see the sun.

Build up arm muscles. You can do this easily, without cost or weights, even while you're doing something else. If you have three- or five-pound weights, terrific. If not, grab something like a can of soup, bottled tonic water, or a gallon of milk and start lifting. Lift while you watch TV or listen to your child's day or talk on the phone. Hold your arms and weights down at your sides then lift your arms up on each side keeping your shoulders down and your arms almost straight. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Do it again, this time reaching your arms out in front of you until arms are pallelel to the ground. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Do this three times per day and you'll see strength increase dramatically.

Give up pop for one day. The average 16-ounce soda contains 12 teaspoons of sugar and 200 calories. To visualize that, go to your kitchen, take out a glass, and measure 12 teaspoons of sugar into the glass Then multiply that by the number of sodas you drink per day. That's a lot of sugar and a lot of empty calories. Substitute water and your energy levels won't crash.
Donate something today. Studies show that doing something for someone else boosts one's mood and overall mental health.


Remember thankfulness. 
Weeks of sub-zero temperatures are enough to make all of us irritable. When you're feeling close to your limit, take a deep breath and think of one thing you're grateful for. Block everything out and stay with that thought for two minutes. Inhale deeply once more. You can go back to reality with a better state of mind--which leads to better physical health, too. 

Lift "kitchen weights" right at home. Lifting weights has huge health benefits -- especially for people 60 years and older. Start with 10 minutes a day and work up. If you don't have hand-held weights, grab things from the cupboard: cans of soup or big bags of rice. Straining the muscle gently builds it up stronger than before--even into older age. Start today and see how much stronger you feel in a month!

 
Eat less cheese this week. Americans eat three times as much cheese as we did 30 years ago. No surprise, then, that cheese is our leading source of saturated fat, which clogs arteries. This week, shy away from cheddar, processed, and cream cheeses, and choose cottage cheese, feta, ricotta, goat, or Parmegiano -- all good sources of calcium, protein, Vitamin B and other nutrients. 

Open Your Front Door and Walk. New posters, walking maps, and bookmarks around town spotlight winter fit tips and places to go for winter fun. Look for them! Remember -- feeling better is just a step outside your front door. One foot in front of the other. Dress for it. Then do it. 

Organize your pantry/cupboards. Yes, this greatly improves your eating habits. Toss out all old items. Wipe down the inside of your cupboards. Then put healthy items in front where they're easy to see and reach. Placing foods like nuts, dried fruit, and healthy crackers in clear canisters make them even more appealing. As a bonus, put fresh fruit on the counter in an attractive bowl. (Those Doritos? Either don't buy them or put them up so high you have to climb to get to them.) 

Move for half your lunch break. This week, whatever time you get (or give yourself) for lunch, get up and move for half of those minutes. Walk and do an errand. Do the stairs at work or walk a few blocks outside. Walk your dog if you're at home. Do strength moves like deep knee-bends or arm circles. If you don't give yourself a break, start. Moving mid-day re-energizes your brain and body for a productive afternoon. 

Keep your resolutions. Follow these steps:  1) Pick something you enjoy. 2) Be realistic. 3) Make your goal specific (and write it down). 4) Give yourself visual cues so you remember (i.e. put fruit on the counter so you see it first thing in the morning). 5) Picture your end reward. Name what it is and see it in your mind often to revive your resolve. 6) Be accountable. Tell your goal to someone and ask them to check in with you. You'll stick to it if you have to answer to someone.


Eat dinner on lunch plates. Yes, this really does work. Using smaller plates naturally limits portions and visually looks like a bigger meal. It's not about dieting but instead eating the right amount that makes us feel satisfied, not overstuffed. 

Keep shoes at the ready. Bring your walking shoes to work with you every day this week. Keep them at your desk, shove them in your work bag, or stash them in your car. Every time you have a break, switch into them and walk the halls, up and down the stairs, or around the block. Five minutes of walking will energize your body and refresh your mind. Try it a few times each day.


Drink water with your holiday beverages. It's okay to imbibe in festive cheer, but keep this yuletide rule: Drink one glass of water before and after each cocktail. You'll decrease your alcohol and caloric intake, feel better the next day, and still enjoy the party. 

Remember winter play. Take off your adult hat for a minute and forget about scraping ice off the car or waking up in the dark. Remember the fun of winter and get that joy back this week--our first week with snow. Venture out for walk after dinner and enjoy the stars. Throw a snowball. Play catch with your dog. Go ice skating at the Athletic Field's outdoor rink (there's a warming house and lights.) Or just breathe in the clear winter air. Winter doesn't need to make you hibernate. Open your door and enjoy. 


Eat breakfast daily this week. Only 49 percent of Americans say they eat breakfast seven days a week. But eating this meal helps you maintain a healthy weight because it discourages overeating later in the day. Try fresh fruit and a piece of whole-wheat toast or whole-grain cereal for energy and protein. 

Everyday movement counts. December is one of our most hectic months; unfortunately it also has the shortest days. So make everyday tasks work for you. When you're shoveling, tighten those stomach muscles (pretend you're pulling your belly button toward your spine.) When you're cleaning house for guests, stretch, balance, and move like you're doing a workout. You don't have to go anywhere to get in shape--move wherever you are. 

Eat every meal (plus healthy snacks). If you eat a solid breakfast like oatmeal or fruit and yogurt, you'll be less inclined to eat two donuts mid-morning. If you eat a small, healthy snack like nuts or granola before the office happy hour, you'll be less likely to order two fried appetizers. Eat well with moderate proportions and you'll make it through the holidays feeling fine. 

Pick your pleasure--early. If you want to savor your Thanksgiving feast but not feel overstuffed, decide early in the day what you want to indulge in and stay firm. Maybe you'd love two helpings of mashed potatoes but feel satisfied with just one piece of pie. Pile on the gravy but eat more vegetables. It's up to you!

Do 30 minutes on Thanksgiving Day. Even if you're the cook and host this holiday, you can grab 30 minutes somehow. Take a 15 minute walk in the early morning (wear your wool!) and another 15 minute walk after your meal. Drag your dog, spouse, friend, partner, or child--just go. Or, for some extra motivation, head down to Levee Park at 8:15 a.m. for the YMCA's Annual Turkey Trot 3 or 5-K Walk/Run. Bring $5 or more for the Red Wing Food Shelf. Walking will give you a great (and grateful) start to the day!

Take control of one. There are four things you can start doing today that together will absolutely reduce your risk of heart disease by 70 to 80 percent, according to Dr. Grogan of the Mayo Clinic. Guess what? Only 2 percent of us do all four. So, for this week, take control of one of these that you don't do already: a) Eat a balanced, protein-rich diet; b) Be physically active 30 minutes per day five days a week; c) Maintain a healthy weight; d) Kick the habit if you smoke. Yes, each of these includes lots of small choices every day. It's not easy, but it is within your control. 


Know your reason
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Picking a goal that matters to you will help you stay on track.Everyone's motivation is different. Maybe you want to hunt with your grandson, or dance at your daughter's wedding next spring. You might want to take your dog for longer walks, fit into that new outfit, start a garden, play catch with your son, lower your blood pressure, or get up in a better mood for your family. Think hard about what the goal is for you. Then commit to working on one of the choices listed in our first Fit Tip with that reward always in mind.

Get your winter gear. As the temperatures turn chilly, most of us want to hibernate until spring. Instead, dress in wool and other warm fabrics and get out there. Being outside makes you less likely to get colds (which often come from being cooped up inside) and wards away the winter blues, even during the darkest days. Wear footwear that's warm with excellent traction and dress in layers from head to toe. Then make getting outside a daily habit -- you'll feel the difference.


Lay off the extra salt. 
Though Americans typically consume only six percent of their sodium from the shaker, it's enough to push you over the limit. So be good to your kidneys this week and do without the extra dose. Instead, add extra dried herbs and black pepper to your meal, or sprinkle your dish with other natural flavorings such as lemon or lime juice or any number of vinegars. 


Mind your sidewalk. This is a Fit Tip for others, as well as yourself. Check your home's sidewalk today to see if it's ready for your winter walks (and those of your neighbors). First, make the sidewalk as wide as possible by using an edger or flat part of a spade to get rid of sod that's grown over the sides of your sidewalk. Then rake the sidewalk free of leaves and debris before the snow flies. Your fellow neighbors--young and old alike--who walk to school, walk to work, walk their dogs, jog, or do anything else will silently thank you. 


Drink one extra glass of water. 
How will you remember to do this every day? Give yourself a visual clue. Put a drinking glass (make it bright-colored if you have to) wherever you often have a couple of extra minutes: on your bedside table, kitchen or bathroom counter, home desk, or next to the computer or TV. That little reminder will soon kick-start a habit, and that extra water will do wonders for your metabolism, digestion, energy, and well being. 

Burst out. Got three minutes? Then you have time to get your heart racing--and that's a good thing. "Burst exercises" are simply movements you do--as hard as you can--for short periods; a habit which offers big rewards Try this: Run in place as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds, and repeat three more times. Finish with some deep breaths. There. Feel good? Beginners can try movements such as fast arm circles, side leg lifts (use a table if you need help balancing), or stepping in place while pumping your arms. More experienced movers can do actions like deep knee bends, push-ups, jumping jacks, and/or "riding the bike" with your back on the floor alternating knees to elbows. You only need three minutes. Your body is worth it.


Reduce the ingredients. 
Yes, grocery shopping is often something we want over quickly. But this week read labels and focus on buying things with few ingredients (and put back products with ingredients you don't know or can't pronounce). Most people know that eating too many processed foods is bad for us (and leads to some pretty awful diseases). So this week, make a conscious choice to choose real foods (like vegetables, fruits, meats) and not choose products with long labels. If you're committed, you'll feel better and more energetic quicker than you think.  

Walk 30 minutes today. If walking were an over-the-counter pill, everyone would want it. The Surgeon General, dozens of studies, and the country's most well-known medical minds confirm: Walking 30 minutes a day five days a week is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Take three 10-minute walks, six 5-minute walks, or 30 minutes all at once. It doesn't matter. Walking fights off depression, makes your heart healthier, and can kick-start amazing changes like lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus walking is easy, cheap, and right outside your front door. So do yourself and your family a favor -- make the time and walk. 


Cut the sugar. 
Sugar, like many things, is delicious but addictive. The more we eat, the more we humans crave it. Unfortunately, sugary foods aren't doing us any favors. Sugary foods don't satiate our hunger so we only want more. This week, make a commitment to cutting out major sugar foods and see how much better you feel. Yes, the cookies are calling our name, and, yes, those granola bars and packaged yogurts sure seem healthy. But read the labels and you'll see they're packed with sugar. This week try a few other options like nuts, peanut butter on whole wheat toast, and fresh fruit (with its natural sugars). You'll be surprised how much more energy you'll have.

Try quinoa. Serve quinoa for dinner this week and you'll be able to tell your family and friends this little known fact: 2013 is the International Year of the Quinoa. Who knew? Now you do. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) can be on your dinner table in 20 minutes or less and takes almost no prep work. Measure 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups liquid (usually water), bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff it with a fork, then serve with any cut up veggies, garlic, lemon juice, and dried or fresh herbs. Add white beans and green onions, too, if you wish. Quinoa is rich in nutrients, provides a complete protein, has antioxidants, and offers anti-inflammatory properties. It also tastes delicious--give it a shot.

Walk or roll to school. An average of 65 students bike every day to Twin Bluff Middle School, and another 30 to 60 students walk. You can get on board and let your children feel that same sense of independence whatever their age. Encourage them to walk or bike this week. If you drive your children to school, find a safe spot and drop them off a few blocks away so they can walk or bike part of the way. If your children are young, walk or bike that portion with them if you wish. Walking and biking to school builds children's confidence and self-sufficiency, and gets their bodies moving, which makes their minds more ready to learn. Kids will tell you one more thing -- it's fun.   

Remember Vitamin D. Now that our Minnesota days are growing shorter, remember to take in your daily dose of Vitamin D. You can get it naturally through foods such as salmon, oil-packed canned tuna, sardines, fortified cereals, fortified milk, eggs, cod liver oil, beef liver, and pork. You can also choose to take a supplement if you wish (including yummy chewy "gummy vitamins" for adults and/or children). And, for good measure, get outside and see the sun.


Live a screen-free day. 
You may have to pick a non-work day for this. Include your whole family. Everyone stays away from computers, TVs, and even mobile devices. Impossible? Try it. Fall days are perfect for enjoying the weather and the people you care about. Live in the moment for just one day and take notice of how you feel. 

Be friendly to student pedestrians. As you travel by students walking or biking to or from school this week, give them a wave or smile. Kids (and adults) walk and bike more often when they feel comfortable in their surroundings. Be kind, slow down, give them room, and show you're watching out for them -- just like you'd want someone to watch out for your own.


Eat more of one thing this week. 
Yes, eat more. Choose one healthy item you enjoy and add more of that to your choices this week. Then pare back on something unhealthy and you've eaten better without cutting back. 

Eat eggs. They're great anytime, but perfect for breakfast because their high protein keeps you from over-eating throughout the day. Try a soft-boiled egg over whole-wheat toast, and add in a fresh fruit on the side. The whole meal takes only five minutes to prepare and you've set yourself up early for a day of healthy eating. 


Make yourself accountable.
 Some of us get active more if we have a buddy (or group) by our side. If that's you, find someone you can do your day's activity with, or join a class where you'll get verbal and visible boosts. If you like to be on the move solo, be your own check-in. Write down at the beginning of the week what you'll do each day and stick to it no matter your mood or the weather (have an inside plan available).  

Watch for students on the roads. Children and teens will be walking and biking to school again so keep a keen eye out for them. Small ones may be biking on sidewalks (watch as you back up your car!) and, like many of us adults, some may not always be mindful of their surroundings. Be patient, slow down in school zones, and be on high alert in speedy areas like the high school's crossing at Highway 58 and Pioneer. Let's keep all our kids safe this school year. 

Cool beans!  Hot, cold, or in between, beans are some of the best things you can eat. Black, pinto, Lima, black-eyed, navy, garbanzo, kidney-- they're all inexpensive to buy, accessible in every store, and easy to prepare. Eating on the run? Just drain and rinse canned beans, toss into a pot with olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Stir gently and serve alone, on pasta or rice, atop a salad, with cold vegetables, or in a soup. They go with anything and fill you up with a good dose of calcium, protein, and vitamins. Give them a try! 

Make it easy. The number one way to make sure we do something is to make it EASY to do and remember. To build muscle strength, for instance, put small weights somewhere convenient: next to the TV, where you read, in the kitchen, near the phone, or on your desk at work or home. There's always 30 seconds pick up those weights and use them. To eat a nutritious snack when you really want chips, keep fresh fruit on the counter in a bowl so it's easier to grab that banana or peach on the go. It's proven that once we start something, we tend to do it more often so just make the first step--today. 


Moderate the munchies. Be mindful today of when you want to snack on something especially sweet or salty. What time is it? What are you doing? Are you really hungry? If yes, make sure you've got something handy and healthy nearby (trail mix, nuts, fruit, cut-up veggies). It's possible, though, that you just need a break. Get up from your task, walk around, visit a co-worker or neighbor---do something different for a few minutes. Thinking about when and why we overdo our snacking helps keep it to a minimum. 

Write it down! Today choose one habit you want to start. Then write the details of how you'll do it. Want to go for a walk before work? Jot down what time, the route, and if you're going with someone or alone. Want to eat a healthy breakfast? Write what you're going to eat, at what time, and how you're going to ward off temptation (put your fruit on the counter the night before, perhaps). Studies show you're WAY more likely to stick to a plan when it's detailed, written, and tracked--complete with steps on how to accomplish it when your willpower is waning. Give it a try! 

Drink early. Fill up a glass of water every night before bed and put it near your bedside. Right when you wake up—before you put your feet on the floor—drink it all. Now you’ve done one great thing for yourself before you even get out of bed. Water does wonders for your metabolism and energy and can make your skin look better, too. Drink up and drink early!

Raise them up. Each time you brush your teeth, do calf raises. You might scoff at the thought, but you’re already standing—why not do double duty for two minutes? Stand with your weight evenly distributed then slowly raise yourself up to your tiptoes and slowly lower. Do 5 or 10 and work up to 20 or more. Soon you’ll be doing them while you brush without even thinking about it.

Give yourself a cue. According to the book The Power of Habit, building habits depends in large part on the "cues" we give ourselves. So if you want to eat a better breakfast, for instance, put your apple and oatmeal on the counter the night before. Want to go walking first thing in the a.m.? Put your clothes right by your bed. The less your brain has to think, the easier it clicks into habits. What healthy habit would you like to have? Give yourself a cue each day and see what happens! 

Eat something naturally red today. Your options are plentiful this time of year: sweet red peppers, beets, or fresh tomatoes; strawberries, raspberries, cherries, or watermelon. Red foods are a great source of folate, which helps heart health, and vitamin C, which boosts your immune system. Looking for a way to sneak in a little extra red? Pour pure cranberry juice into a smoothie, or freeze it into ice cubes. 

Wear the right shoes. You'll be amazed how a pair of supportive, comfortable shoes makes moving easier. Suddenly, playing Frisbee is more fun. Walking around the park (or the block) is enjoyable. Even house work and yard work isn't nearly so bad. If you love your high heels or dress shoes, keep a separate pair of walking shoes at your workplace and don the comfy pair during breaks or for your walk home.

Play in the water. Watch a child run through a sprinkler and you'll remember how fun it is. This week, when you're turning on the hose for your kids or grandkids or watering the garden, get a little wet. Start a water fight with your spouse, splash through puddles on a walk, dip your feet in a pond, or just stroll through the rain.


Make it a fruity Fourth. Along with the typical grilled meats, chips, and potato salad, fruit can be part of your festive day. Whether you’re hosting or bringing something to pass for your group, remember kid (and adult) favorites like grapes, berries, sliced peaches, and watermelon. You’ll be surprised at how fast it all vanishes.

Get creative with salads. Go through your cupboards and find things you don't normally toss into a green or pasta salad. Here are a few unexpected favorites to add to any mix: crushed dry-roasted peanuts, fresh corn kernals, mint leaves, sliced avocado, sliced almonds or walnuts, shredded red cabbage, or chickpeas. 

Survive without your vice for a week. What's one thing you eat or drink that isn't good for you? Make a pact to go one week without it. Then think about what made it easy or hard to live without it. How could you change your routine or habit so you can do without it more often, or at least do with less?

Pep up your pizza. And we don't mean pepperoni. You can make pizza deliciously healthy whether you're buying a thin pizza crust, making your own, or ordering a fresh, pre-made pizza to pop in your oven. Simply top the crust with your favorite sliced veggies and minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and a small amount of Parmesan cheese. Try these combinations: fresh tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese; sweet peppers and onion; or summer squash, olives, and chives. 

Check your 10,000 steps. 
Years of studies continue to show this is one of the best things you can do to change your fitness level - and your life. Walking 10,000 steps a day (roughly 5 miles) is easier than you think if you're walking the stairs, hoofing it between errands, and working or playing outside each day. Buy a pedometer (a cheap one is fine to get a basic read), wear it all day to count every step, then start increasing the number of steps each day. 

Plant a pot of basil.  Basil boasts vitamins A and K; provides magnesium, which increases heart health and blood flow; and aids in a number of conditions such as indigestion. You don't need a garden to enjoy it. Plant seeds or a little "start" from the nursery in a pot and place on a sunny window sill, doorstep, or patio. Making sure to not snip more than one-third the plant, pinch the leaves off and add to pasta salads, pizzas, soups, or sauces. 


Take in the sun. W
e Minnesotans don't get nearly the amount of sunlight we need, especially with this year's wintry spring. Sunlight provides vitamin D, and without enough of it, we can get moody and depressed. Soak in your sun this week by getting out for a lunchtime walk or working in the yard before dinner. Your whole outlook just might get sunnier. 

Make frozen fruit staples on your grocery list. Frozen fruit has all the nutrients of fresh fruit and tastes delicious in smoothies and baked goods. They're also relatively cheap and easy to use. Toss the blueberries in your oatmeal or cereal, mix strawberries, mangos, or peaches into smoothies, or mash thawed raspberries over whole-wheat toast. 


Move to relieve...almost anything. Exercise of almost any kind (but especially outdoors) helps remedy anxiety, insomnia, back pain, hot flashes, and a host of other health issues. It also boosts confidence, so getting your heart pumping is a great thing to do before tackling a stressful situation, or after a really bad day. How does it work? In part, exercise releases neurotransmitters that stabilize our moods. So get moving...you have nothing to lose but stress.

More water, less juice. With warmer weather finally here, we'll be hydrating ourselves and our children more. Why drink water? It's healthy, cheap, and easy to get. You might reach for a bottle of 100% fruit juice, thinking it's good for you. But juice can be sneaky--packing in sugar and calories with none of the fiber (and less vitamins) than whole fruit. Good rules of thumb: No juice for children younger than 1 year and just 4 to 6 ounces a day for children. If you're trying to lose weight, cut out bottled fruit juice altogether and commit to water. It promises to be a healthy relationship.


Stand up. 
This tip bears repeating again and again. SItting for long period of time is bad for your metabolism, circulation, mood, and mental agility. If you work at a desk, make a commitment to stand for an hour this week while working. How? Bring in a shelf that raises your monitor or laptop to eye level. Stack books under your keyboard to raise it a little and you can still type at a comfortable height. Standing lets you balance, stretch, move, and retain good posture while you work. Do this an hour a day and you'll find yourself doing it more each week. 

Power to the protein! Proteins are the building blocks of bones, muscle, skin, and tissue. They also help keep us full, maintain our blood sugar level, and provide energy. Try these protein punches at work, home, or packed for the road:

* Hard-boiled eggs. Boil a bunch and keep them in the refrigerator.

* Edamame. Look in the frozen food aisle; they're soybeans in their pods.

* Beans. Think of black beans, white beans, and garbanzo beans. Toss them atop salads, puree them into bean dips, throw them into your tortillas, or pair them with rice and veggies. They're your easy, cheap, go-to food.     

* Plain Greek yogurt. Exchange this anytime you use sour cream. You can also combine it with vinegar for a salad dressing, mix it with brown mustard for a fish sauce, or pair it with lemon juice and add to rice and parsley.  


Set an "April Activity Goal." 
April is a time of rejuvenation and more sunlight. What will you do with your time? Choose a daily challenge that's attainable. Walk outside every day for 30 minutes or park your car a half mile from your office. Play a daily game of tag with your toddler or do 20 minutes of stretches in the backyard. Be firm, be specific, and mark checks on the calendar each day after accomplishing what you set out to do. For extra encouragement, tell a spouse, friend, or co-worker about your intention. Studies show we stay more on task when we're accountable to someone else.

Be mindful when eating. For the next two days, don't eat while you're on the computer, driving, watching TV, or any other activity that takes your mind off your food. Taking time to eat well means slowing down and being conscious of the food, its flavor, and the pace at which you're eating. If you've ever downed a bag of chips or M&Ms while watching TV without even realizing it, you know what this means. The best activity to do while eating? Enjoying other people's company--that's always good for your health.

Build up your core. Strengthening the muscles around your abs and pelvis are crucial for good balance, posture, and overall muscle strength. One great, quick exercise: Lie on your back with your legs extended straight up to the sky or ceiling so you're at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your legs straight, lower one leg slowly to the ground without touching the floor, then raise it again to its starting position. Do a set of 10 for each leg, rest 30 seconds, and repeat.

Do jumping jacks. Most of us haven't done them since phy-ed class, but this quick cardiovascular pick-me-up will reboot your energy during a lull in your day. Start with 10 jumps and gradually increase daily. If you like them, repeat three times a day. For a low-impact jumping jack, stand in the pool with the water up to your chest and jump keeping your arms below the water's surface. Jumping jacks are perfect when you only have a minute or two and they immediately bring down anxiety. Start jumping!

Cook with canned beans. Canned beans are quick, inexpensive, and a workhorse in the kitchen. They're also a good way to sneak in protein and fiber while vastly reducing your cholesterol and risk of heart attack. Saute black beans in oil and garlic for a flavorful side dish. Saute garbonzo beans (chick peas) over high heat with oil and lots of cornmeal for a fun snack or lunch. Add different varieties to soups and rice dishes. Beans go into almost any dish and don't need a recipe--just toss them in.

Get up. Yes, just get up and get moving. Opening your mail? Do a few deep knee bends at the same time. Talking to your sister on the phone? Walk and pace while chatting. Surfing online? Put your computer on a stack of books, stand, and do some back leg kicks while reading. You have the time. Make it happen.

Cook a meal without meat. Start with just one meatless dinner this week--you might be surprised at how good it tastes. Choose vegetables, fruits, and grains, and fish if you wish. Multiple studies worldwide show eating plant-based dishes leads to more energy, better health, and significant decrease in disease. Check out new recipes anywhere online; for a sampling go to http://allrecipes.com/recipes/everyday-cooking/vegetarian/.

Stretch those feet! After you take off your shoes or boots today, wiggle and stretch your toes to increase circulation. Next, move your ankles in circles. Finally, bend as far down to your toes as possible and hold. Repeat all three steps. Increasing blood flow in your feet, toes, and lower legs helps avoid pain in your knees, hips, and back. Continue doing at least two times a day.

Eat turmeric. It’s that dark orange spice hiding in your spice drawer since 1993. A relative of ginger, turmeric tastes slightly spicy and earthy and turns food a rich golden color. Tumeric also has cancer-fighting antioxidants, can help prevent ulcers, and may ease symptoms of arthritis. Sprinkle a little turmeric in your scrambled eggs, coat your chopped vegetables with it before roasting, or add it to your next chicken dish. It’s not only healthy, it’s beautiful, too.


Get your Vitamin D. Vitamin D strengthens bones, fights depression, and wards off colds. Sunshine gives us natural vitamin D but the long, slow winter takes a toll on us Minnesotans and most of us lack the proper amount of this vital vitamin. Taking a supplement will help but you can also add more to your meals by eating fresh or canned salmon, tuna, or sardines; cow's milk (and some rice and soy); fortified orange juice; fortified cereals; and egg yolks.

Practice balance. This year's ice reminded us that keeping upright is sometimes harder than we think. This week when you talk on the phone, watch TV, or read your inbox messages, stand up straight and balance on one foot (then the other). Do it a few times every day and by the end of seven days you'll be able to balance longer -- and be better prepared to win the ice wars in March.

Shrink your plate. You've heard this before but today put it to the test. It works. Using smaller plates helps trim portions. Tonight eat dinner off a dessert plate or any other plate in your cupboard that's smaller than your regular dinner plate. The rule of thumb is eat until you're 80% full (easier said than done). That's a "comfortable full" that should keep you going until it's time for your next meal or healthy snack. Smaller plates helps make that 80% look like your regular 100% portion.

Do a standing or walking meeting. In the workplace, walk around the office building or outside on the sidewalk, or simply ask everyone to stand at the table instead of sit. With friends, instead of sitting for coffee or breakfast, walk around downtown, the neighborhood, on the sidewalks, or around a park. (Yes, it's icy so wear boots and dress warmly.) You might be surprised how many people are intrigued and excited to follow your lead!

Embrace winter. It's icy and cold and February in Minnesota. But some days are beautifully sunny on the snow--and a good temperature to wake you up during a mid-day lull. During a work break, lunch hour, after dinner, or any time you can grab 10 minutes from your day, head outdoors for a walk around the block. You'll be surprised at how a burst of fresh air can set your mind and body back on track.

Go bright and bold. We dare you. Make sure you have three vibrant colors on your plate tonight. There are probably lots of options in your kitchen right now. Saute some sweet peppers, half some cherry tomatoes, and toss peas on your pasts (this time of year, buy frozen for the best flavor). Or cut up and roast a few sweet potatoes, carrots, and rutabagas (trust us on this one--they're tasty). It can be efficient, inexpensive, and downright delicious.

Dance. Grab a partner or do it alone -- no one else has to know. It doesn't matter if your favorite songs are big band, disco, classical, or hip hop. Just turn them on and start moving. Do enough so you work up to a steady breathing rate. Try for twenty minutes but even two will do. It might even lift your spirits the rest of the day.

Sleep earlier. Start getting ready for bed 15 minutes earlier today and work up to a half hour by the week's end. Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways you can keep your immune system strong--especially important during this cold and flu season.

Palm your portions. You may have heard about serving meat the size of a deck of cards. But everyone's body isn't the same size. Instead, serve meats and starches roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Plate doesn't look full? Increase the number and proportion of vegetables and you'll fill up just fine.

Eat slower.  When we eat slowly, our bodies have time to register our food so we can tell we're getting full before it's too late. Be mindful of slowing down, then stop eating before you're completely full. You'll feel better the rest of the day.

Rethink your kitchen. To cook and eat healthier in 2013, set up your kitchen so it's easier to do. Rearrange items so snacks like chips and chocolate are up high while nuts and fruit are within reach. Place cookbooks with healthy, fast recipes close at hand. Put grains like quinoa, couscous, and brown rice in attractive, clear canisters up front so you use them often, and keep fresh vegetables handy in the fridge. Also discard bowls and tools you don't use. Having an organized kitchen makes it more fun to cook there. Happy eating!

Commit to the 10-3 rule. If you hate the thought of exercising or hearing anything more about getting fit on the news, this tip is for you. What's the minimum you can do to make a difference for your body? Ten minutes three times a day. What to do? Anything you like. Ten minutes of walking around the neighborhood, ten minutes of stretching and balancing, or ten minutes of lifting something heavy (grab cans or jars from your kitchen--even your child's heavy backpack will do). Just do enough to work to a brisk breathing pace and that small amount will help keep pounds from packing on.

Practice gratitude. Think of three things right now you're thankful for. Every morning before getting out of bed this week, think of one more thing. Small moments of gratefulness add up to a new way of thinking that can lead to a healthier, fuller life.

Clear some time. Rushing and boasting how busy we are is this decade's new badge of honor. But has your packed calendar bogged you down so you don't feel good? Maybe you're even taking that frustration out on others? Today think of one thing you can drop. It might be an unnecessary chore, an volunteer obligation you don't enjoy, or a project that doesn't actually have to be done. Then figure out one thing that fills you up and do it (we're not talking an extra half hour of TV). Maybe it's simply giving yourself some space to think.

Play outside this holiday. Sure, the weather isn't spectacular and there's not a lot of snow. Go out anyway! Visit the gorgeous Athletic Field ice rink to skate, sled, or play broom ball in your boots. Take a walk, throw some snowballs, go on a hike and look for animal tracks. Convince your friend, spouse, children, or grandchildren to head outdoors and have fun!


Feast and be merry (with a little moderation).
Relish all the delicious things this season brings--just be mindful of your servings. Take the Christmas cookie but have two instead of five. Indulge in the eggnog but savor one, not four. You'll feel better and still get to treat yourself!

Count your calories for one day. Most adults need only between 2,000 and 2,500 calories daily. Pick one day this week and read food labels and menus carefully. Don't be fooled by the "calories per serving" number. If you ate three servings of chips at lunch, triple the number of calories. As a guide, 40 calories or less is low for a single serving, 100 is moderate, and 400 is very high. Just a single day of counting may show you places where you can make smarter choices.

Shovel your snow. Even if you have a snowblower, make sure to get out and do some old-fashioned shoveling, too. Shoveling will get your heart rate pumping, strengthen your back and arm muscles, and give you a boost of energy. If you're really in the spirit, help your neighbor, as well!

Touch your toes. If you can't touch them, you can get closer over time, which increases flexibility and agility and helps avoid falls over the winter. Stand up straight with your back stretched tall. Keeping your back straight and your arms to your sides, bend at your hips and let your arms hang down. When you feel a good stretch in the backs of your legs stop and hold for 10 seconds. Take a deep breath and as you exhale try to move your hands a little further to the ground and hold for 10 more seconds. Repeat twice a day and watch your flexibility improve!

Microwave your veggies. Microwaving is one of the easiest, quickest, and healthiest ways to cook vegetables. Simply cut your vegetables into pieces and place in a microwavable bowl (only one veggie type at a time). Add a tiny bit of water and cover with plastic wrap or a microwavable plate. Microwave on high power until tender, shaking the bowl mid-way through cooking. Then drain well and toss with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and a touch of salt and pepper.

Make proportion choices early. If you want your Thanksgiving feast to make you full but not overstuffed, decide early in the day what you want to indulge in and hold to your commitment. Take two helpings of stuffing, perhaps, but limit your pie to one piece. Pile on the gravy but commit to more fresh vegetables. It's up to you!

Walk before or after your Thanksgiving feast. Grab a partner this holiday and convince them to walk around the neighborhood today. Or head down to Levee Park for the Annual Turkey Trot and do the 1, 3, or 5-K walk/run at 8:15 a.m. A donation of $5 or more goes to the Red Wing Food Shelf. Walking will give you a great (and grateful) start to the day!

Take control of your cholesterol. When you eat a diet high in sugars and starches, inflammation occurs and the arteries narrow and harden. To counteract those effects, your body creates cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The good news is most of us can control our cholesterol. Reduce your sugar intake, cut back on meat and dairy, and eat more fiber-rich and plant-based foods (beans, oats, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables). Yes, it's difficult. But try not to think of the diet change as giving something up. Think of it as gaining more energy and more years of life.

Befriend broccoli. Broccoli boosts your immune system, which is something we all need this time of year. Dip fresh, cut-up pieces in plain yogurt; saute it with other veggies for a quick stir fry over rice; or toss sections into your favorite soup. Picking up ready-to-bake pizza tonight? Toss broccoli florets on top before baking.


Take a minute. Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, do this short time-out from the world: Sit down, breathe deeply, and count backward from 10. (It works standing, too.) Stress works against us multiple times a day and if not checked can lead to decreased mental and physical health. Commit to finding slivers of time for calm throughout the day. You'll be better for your family, co-workers, friends and, most importantly, for yourself.

Eat them raw. Cooking veggies is great but the cooking process depletes some of the plants' key vitamins. Try to eat at least half your veggies raw this week. For an adult, that's 5 to 7 half-cup servings. Try raw carrots, peas, or sliced sweet peppers in your lunch, spinach in your salad, and broccoli dipped in plain yogurt for a snack (yes, it's tasty). Eating raw vegetables helps fight off chronic diseases, regulates the digestion system, and makes you feel good.

Put healthy within hand's reach. Sure, it's easy to bring leftover Halloween candy to work or put on your kitchen counter. But you're setting yourself up to fail--who has that kind of will power? Instead, place something nearby that's good for you--like carrots, nuts, or raisins--and you can easily snack healthy. Put the candy up high and limit the treats; when you want to indulge, you'll have to reach for it.

Watch for kids. Little people will be wandering the streets for Halloween tonight so drive slowly. Then remember: Winter and darkness are fast approaching and tomorrow, kids will still be walking and biking to bus stops and school, or simply having fun around the neighborhood. Don't give them a negative stare; instead, be glad they're outside getting fresh air and exercise. Remember what it was like to be a kid -- and keep a gentle eye out for all of them.

Bite-size your sweets. You can still make those delicious cookies or bars you love. Just trim them down to size. (This also works great with kids in the house.) Bake or buy cookies then cut them in half or quarters before putting them in the cookie jar. Bars can also be cut into sections, then refrigerate. When you need a quick sweet, you can grab a bite and feel satisfied without overindulging.

Waste less food. Do a mental log this week of how much food you toss out. That little bit of carrots from dinner? That half banana from breakfast? What about the three apples slices from your son's snack? If you save and refrigerate the nutitrious food you already have, you'll have healthier options around when you or the kids reach for something fast. Every time you start to throw something healthy out, ask yourself....could I eat this later?

Hike the hidden steps. On the south side of Fourth Street, between Pine and Cedar Streets, lies an historic set of stairs under a canopy of trees. Look for the Red Wing hiking signs and trail head signs to point the way. The stairs connect Fourth Street and Civic Center Park at the Historical Society on Oak Street. There you'll find one of the best, peaceful views of Red Wing. Enjoy!

Whole grains = healthier hearts. You already know this, of course, but here's a number to remember: 48. If you eat 48 or more grams of whole grains a day, you're on your way to better health. Some foods list their whole-grain number on their labels; many still don't. Primarily, eat plenty of whole-grain breads (with no high fructose corn syrup), whole-grain cereals, and try a whole-grain pasta or other grain (like quinoa) once in a while.

Do a balancing act. Those who have a good sense of balance fall less, are often more flexible, and break fewer bones as they get older. To boost your skills, start incorporating balance into your everyday routine. Stand on one foot (with good posture) while talking on the phone, doing the dishes, or going through the mail. Soon you'll see results and find you can balance better than you ever expected--anywhere, anytime.

Let your kids go on a nature hunt. Kids love nature games and fall is the perfect time for this one. Write 10 things down on a piece of paper (or draw pictures for non-readers). Tell your children or grandchildren to find each thing and collect them all in a bag, basket, or pocket. Fall offers plenty of sticks, nuts, leaves, seed pods, and a whole lot more. If you want, ask them at the end to create something with all their treasures.

Save time; do exercises that strengthen two spots. To pack the most into your minutes, do movements that work two body groups (i.e. arms and legs, legs and back, etc.) Try bicep curls while doing deep knee bends (back firm against a wall) or calf raisers while doing mini arm circles (with or without small weights).

Healthy snacks for school. If you pack a snack each day for your elementary schooler, make sure sugar isn't in the top three ingredients. Easy options are fresh veggies such as carrots, peas, pea pods, or sweet pepper strips; and fruit like apples, peeled oranges, pears, or bananas. If you're buying for the class, bananas are as cost efficient as crackers.

Eat garlic. Whether raw or cooked, garlic does more than add zing to your meal. It reduces blood pressure, boosts immunity, and can lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. It's easy to prepare; just mince or dice fresh cloves into stir-fries, pastas, cold salads, or soups. Dried or jarred garlic isn't nearly as tasty or healthy so stick to the fresh stuff.

Loosen the wrists. If you work with your hands often (including using a computer), stretching your wrists a few times a day is a must. Whatever position your wrists are in usually, stretch the opposite way, gently holding each side for 5 to 10 seconds; repeat three times. Next, stretch your arms out straight to your left and right. Make fists and rotate your hands. Open your palms and repeat.

Walk a new street. Pick a street in or near your neighborhood and take a stroll. Getting out of a rut is one of the best things you can do to continue moving every day. It's perfect walking weather, so go out and find a few new surprises!


Shrink the meat.
The meat on your plate should be the size of a deck of cards or smaller. Eating healthy doesn't have to mean cutting things out of your diet; just decrease the portions. Fill the rest of your plate with whole grains and vegetables and you're on your way to feeling great.

Sharpen your kitchen knives. One of the best things about fresh vegetables is they’re easy to prepare—if you have a sharp knife. Dull knives are unsafe and harder to use. Today, choose your favorite cutting knife and sharpen it so you can slice, dice, and chop your veggies quickly into green salads, dips, pizza toppings, pasta salads, and a whole lot more.

Do the kickback. Try this mini-exercise while brushing your teeth, washing dishes, talking on the phone, or any other standing activity. It's a great way to tighten up the back side and counteract all that sitting most of us do. Put your weight on your left foot and slowly lift the right foot slightly off the ground. (Hold onto a counter top if you need to.) Keeping the right leg mostly straight, kick it back slowly until your rear muscles tighten. Remember to maintain good posture by pressing down your shoulders, lengthening your torso, and keeping a slight arch in your back. Breathe deeply. Do 5 to 10 kickbacks then repeat on the other side. Repeat three more times multiple times a day.

Do forward arm stretches. Building flexibility helps us avoid falls, increases our circulation, and widens the range of motion in our joints. It takes daily commitment but doesn't have to take a lot of time. This week do this simple move: Stretch one arm as far as you can across your chest while holding it without feeling pain for 10 seconds. Make sure the arm is relatively straight, your shoulders are pressed down, and you're breathing deeply. Repeat on each side three times a few times a day.

Go chip-free for a week. For some, this may be easy. For others, this may be as difficult as giving up coffee, chocolate, or any other edible love we have. Chips run the gamut from saturated-fat filled to relatively healthy. This week, give them all up for something fresh. Munch on your favorite fruit or veggie--it's the perfect season. A whole week without chips? Give your whole family the challenge and you can do it together. Good luck!

Eat dinner on your lunch plate once this week. Studies show if you use a smaller plate, you'll serve up and eat smaller portions of food. That doesn't mean you'll go hungry. Eating just 80% of your normal meal is usually enough to fill you up and keep you going.

Have a TV-free day. Pick one day this week and proclaim it free of TV -- and video games, too -- for your kids and yourself. The average American child spends 7.5 hours per day on social and entertainment media but less than an hour playing outdoors. Get out of the air conditioning and get outside.

Eat one serving of fresh fruit at breakfast every day this week. For easy, grab-on-the-go fruits that means one banana, one peach, or a small apple. To take advantage of the season's berries, indulge in a cup of raspberries, 3/4 cup blueberries, or 1 1/4 cup strawberries -- especially good atop yogurt or cereal. Getting a dose of fiber, vitamins, and disease-fighting antioxidants is a good way to start the day.

Stand more at your desk. Most of us sit a lot. There's even a new term in America: sitting disease. It accounts for poor circulation, posture, muscle tone, and more. Find ways to stand more at your home or work desk (don't wait for your employer to help). One easy way: Keep a stack of books on one spot of your desk and move your laptop or desktop screen on top of it a few times a day. (Make sure the screen is at a comfortable height.) Then stand as you read, scan emails, or type reports. You'll find it's also easier to stretch, do leg lifts, and make other movements if you stand while you work.

Cut down your family's pop this summer The average 16-ounce soda contains 12 teaspoons of sugar and 200 calories, and afterwards we don't even feel full. Unfortunately, poor habits start early. More than 90 studies have proven soda is a major factor in childhood obesity, and overweight kids are much more likely to remain that way throughout adulthood. Heavier children are also at higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. Get your children and teens off to a healthy start. Serve up lots of water this summer; it's inexpensive, convenient, and thirst quenching.

Seek out energy-givers. You know what we're talking about. There are people who give you good energy and those who drain it away. That mental energy drain over a constant period can actually affect your physical health and lead to sleeplessness, depression, and fatique. Limit how much you connect with energy-drainers (and look in the mirror to see if you're one yourself). Then reconnect with those who make you a better person. When your spirits lift, so does your health.

Give dark, leafy greens a chance. Whether you pick them up at the store, Farmers' Market, or plant the seeds this week in your garden, put these vitamin-packed lettuces on your menu. Spinach offers mountains of iron to fight fatigue, beet greens give potassium to help balance blood pressure, and Swiss chard comes crammed with vitamin K to keep bones strong. Beet greens and spinach are tasty tossed in salads, while Swiss chard (tough when raw) turns wonderfully smooth when steamed or sauteed. Simply cut leaves away from the bright red centers, steam with a little water in a pan and cook down with a bit of minced garlic. Salt and pepper to taste.

Use those muscles. Only 15% of Americans regularly do some kind of resistant weight training. But lifting weights helps build strong bones, protects joints, and boosts your energy. Find a weight you can lift 8 to 12 times but not much more. (Most of us pick weights that are too light.) Don't have weights at home? Pick up that milk gallon from the fridge 10 times; it weighs 9 pounds when full.

Let your child walk or bike to school. Forty years ago, 42% of kids did it; now just 16% do. Getting active outdoors before school helps kids learn better, concentrate harder, and have fun. If you drive your child, stop two or three blocks from school and let him or her walk the rest of the way.

Walk 10,000 steps today. It's not as intimidating as you might guess, and it's a key milestone for improving your metabolism, blood circulation, and mood. Walking one mile at a solid pace takes only 15 minutes—and equals almost 2,000 steps! Add in your errands, chores, and other duties and you'll be up to 10,000 quicker than you think.

Go blue. Blueberries are one of the healthiest and tastiest foods you can eat. They're high in vitamin C and fiber but low in calories and fat. Even now, when they're not yet in season, pick up a bag of frozen blueberries at the store. Toss them on plain yogurt, mix them into oatmeal or muffins, or add them to your breakfast cereal.

Ditch the flip flops for tennis shoes. Kids and parents, take special note. All of us, especially children, are more likely to run, jump, and play when we're wearing comfortable shoes. For outside time (and school time), wear sturdy sneakers that let you play hard and play often.

Get inspired by our students! Hundreds of high school students (many dressed in orange T-shirts) will be out and about our community in celebration of Earth Day this Friday. They'll be cleaning parks, sprucing up cemeteries, clearing trails, mulching trees and plants, getting gardens in shape, and doing lots more to make Red Wing a prettier place to live. Get in the spirit and do a little of your own cleaning--in your yard, your neighborhood, or around town.

Pick up one extra kind of fruit at the store this week. If you're really good, you might even choose to put back one item that's not so healthy. Swap one for the other and you might find out it's not as difficult as you thought. Fruit is naturally sweet -- what's your choice?

Bring a garbage bag along. As you walk outdoors this week, carry along a small garbage or grocery bag in your pocket. Whenever you see trash along the way, pick it up. It helps our neighborhoods and will give you a little extra exercise. It takes everyone to help spring clean our city.

Seek out yellow at the store. Naturally yellow foods provide help for the nervous and digestive systems, so do your body a favor and seek out these sunny-colored foods. There are plenty to choose from: squash, corn, sweet peppers, bananas, yellow wax beans, lemons. They also look beautiful on your plate!

Walk the Colvill Loop. Record temps in March mean great chances for walking. This paved path strolls along the Mississippi River, through a wooded grove, and around Colvill's pretty grounds. In the summer you'll see stunning gardens, kids on the playgrounds, and wildlife along the rocky banks. One loop equals one mile. Park at any lot and hop right on. It's flat, safe, and beautiful.

Stop by Riverbend Market Cooperative. Located downtown at 417 Main Street, this lovely, sunlit spot is getting better every day. Check out the fresh produce, regional meats and cheeses, and new bulk foods section. Doors are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone is welcome; pop in and say hello!

Make your meat portion the size of your fist. It's an easy rule you can start today. You'll get all the flavor without overdoing it. Think you'll still be hungry? You might surprise yourself. Complement your meal with fresh vegetables sauteed in olive oil and your choice of rice, beans, pasta, or bread.

Pay attention outside. Whether you live on a city street, in an apartment, near the woods, or in the country---get outside and look around. Take time to appreciate the daily changes: the budding hedge, the purple crocus, the rushing river, the greening grass. Give yourself 15 minutes today. You'll feel better inside and out.

Set a goal; tell a friend. It's been proven we all accomplish more when we set concrete goals. We're even more successful when we tell someone about it so we're accountable. Today write (in ink!) your activity goal for the next seven days. Maybe it's walking 30 minutes a day in this unseasonably gorgeous weather, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Maybe it's standing instead of sitting for 20 minutes at your desk. Whatever your goal, write it down, tell a friend about it, and stick to it. Good luck!

Choose fresh, sliced lunch meat over packaged. Fresh deli meat often has 50% less sodium than packaged varieties, and the deli usually offers more low-sodium options, too. A little meat won't hurt, but remember, if you build your sandwich with whole-wheat bread, spinach, and lots of veggies, it's even better--and will taste better, too.

Get out of your food rut. The grocery store is full of options many of us have never tried before. At least once this week, pick something up that's different (and healthy). It might be a funny-looking fruit you've noticed or a kind of green-leafed lettuce that's not your usual fare. You'll get a little variety, and maybe find a new flavor you like. Good luck!

Try a new walk. This week is predicted to be warm. Take to the streets and walk somewhere out of your routine. Maybe it's a short detour down an interesting side street or through a neighborhood you especially like. Pick up the pace, feel the sun on your face, and enjoy!

High step the stairs. Every time you take the stairs this week, try to take them two at a time. It's an easy way to get your heart rate pumping, work your quadriceps, and tighten up your calves. Plus, it fits right in with your day-to-day life.

Swap at the store. Before you check out at the grocery store this week, give your cart a quick scan and choose one item you know isn't good for you. Swap it for a fresh or dried fruit, vegetable, or grain. You don't have to give up everything, but one item will make a difference. And try to remember to scan your cart next week, too; it's a good habit for all your future trips.

Stand up! Recent studies reveal the more we sit, the more we're prone to cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and dozens more ailments and illnesses. The good news: It's in our control. Do what you can to stand more every day. Construct a pedestal for your desk so you can stand at work (construct one yourself or stack books--it's easy to do.) Walk, stand, or pace while you're on the phone. Go walking with a friend instead of sitting for coffee; stand while opening the mail. Find at least one situation today where you can stand instead of sit.

Think of what you're wasting. What food goes into your compost or garbage every day? Take note. By eating leftovers and minding how much food your family throws away, you'll be more conscious of what you're buying, preparing, and wasting. That can lead to healthier habits and eating more home-prepared food instead of on-the-go junk.

Snack smart. If your will power isn't great, don't buy the bad stuff. It's too easy to cave in when a bag of chips is sitting in the pantry. Fill your kitchen with feel-good options like unsalted nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), fresh veggies, and fresh fruits. All are easy and fast to eat wherever you are--even on the go. Pack them for car trips, sports tournaments, and lunches, too!

Do something different. This week, go outside and do something you haven't done for a long time (or ever). Try out the ice-skating rink, or walk to a new corner of your neighborhood. Getting outside and out of your comfort zone is good for mind and body--and makes you feel good!

Get outside! Do something--anything--to enjoy the beautiful, brisk weather. Skate, walk, shovel, or sled. Throw snowballs, chase your kids, go bird watching, see the stars. Strive to get outside for 5 minutes or more as many days as possible. C'mon, Red Wing. Get out there.

Engage everyone's help at dinnertime. Let each person in your family choose a way to participate. Maybe your little one likes to set the table or your spouse doesn't mind doing the dishes. Maybe your son or granddaughter would like to try cooking or picking out recipes. Either rotate the responsibilities or let everyone take ownership of their job all the time--whatever works best for your crew. Just make sure everyone has the opportunity to pitch in so each person feels needed. You might find you all enjoy dinnertime, and each other, much more. Happy eating!

Light a candle at dinner. Light a candle at dinner. Rituals help you slow down and appreciate the time you spend with food and loved ones at the end of the day. Even if you're by yourself, making everyday dinners special with candles is a happier, healthier way to celebrate mealtime.

Schedule time for you. You may open up your calendar for meetings, fixing the car, grocery shopping, volunteering, or caring for children, but do you pencil in time for yourself to rejuvenate? Take 15 to 30 minutes today to do something for you and your body. The better you feel physically, the better you'll be for your other commitments and the people you love.

Make amends. Reach out to someone you have had a difficult time with in the past, either through a phone call, an email, a letter, or a smile. Maybe it's someone you simply haven't spoken to in awhile. Pick one person this week and try it. Reconnecting with others and making amends lowers the blood pressure and makes you feel good.

Think moderation. Diets all over give strict regimens to follow. No carbs! No fruit! Juice everything! Juice nothing! Instead of following the latest trend, eat smaller portions; fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; and enjoy a bit of indulgence. If you eat in moderation and keep moving every day, you'll get stronger, feel better, and not lose your will power to eat healthier in the new year.

Do exercises you like; drop the rest. As you make New Year's resolutions this week, scrap the exercise you hate. The more you like your activities and exercises, the more you'll stick with them. If you like stretching and walking but hate sit-ups, resolve to walk a minimum amount of time each week and do something else (like side stretches) that will tone your abdominals.

Fill half your plate with the good stuff. As you celebrate the holiday week with family and friends, avoid over-indulging by filling at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Fill another quarter with whole grains and/or beans and you're on your way to a new year filled with flavor, nutrition, and feeling good. Happy New Year!

Get the right mix--everyday style. To keep holiday stress low, do a little cardio, weights, and stretching daily this week. Sound intimidating? It's not. Cardio equals anything that makes you breate moderately hard for 20 minutes or more (i.e. brisk walking, doing stairs, scrubbing the kitchen floor, playing basketball in the driveway with your kids or grandkids). Doing weights doesn't require anything but your own arms and legs. Move them--up, down, and around slowly until you feel them tighten; then do a few more. To stretch properly, reach up, down, and side to side. Do what feels natural. Hold your stretch for 30 to 45 seconds breathing deeply, then relax and repeat. You don't need anything but your own body. Do it. You'll feel better.

Control portions. Here's a guideline of single helpings. One portion of meat should equal the size of the palm of your hand (no fingers). Mashed potatoes: the size of a tennis ball. Pasta: half a baseball. Cheese: 4 dice (surprising, isn't it?). Fruit: the size of your fist. Vegetables: the size of your fist. Ice cream: small scoop. Enjoy the holidays. Eat well.

Relish 10 minutes of silence. In this crazy time of year, force yourself to take 10 minutes each day this week and spend it by yourself in silence. It might be in your room alone or on a solitary walk. Wherever you can find it, carve out this short time to quiet the noise, breathe deeply, and calm your mind.

Cut the sweets in half.You can still eat delicious treats this holiday; just remember moderation. If you normally choose two Christmas cookies after dinner, take one this week. If a co-worker offers you two caramels, savor a single. You'll get your holiday sweet fix but avoid overindulging. Enjoy!

Eat one piece of raw fruit with breakfast. Raw fruits are high in vitamins and easy to digest. The natural sugar in them (glucose) is also in a form your body can easily turn into energy. Don't count bottled or concentrated orange juice since they lack the enzymes of raw fruit, and some brands include extra sweeteners and preservatives. Instead, enjoy an apple, banana, orange, pear, or whatever suits you. They're easy to eat, even on the run!

Move every half hour. You can still keep working. Just get out of your office chair and type or talk. If you stand at work, move or stretch so you get out of your regular position. Stretch your muscles; take a deep breath. Walk if you have a break time, even if it's just up the stairs and back. You'll notice you feel more rejuvenated and ready to accomplish whatever comes next.

Plan ahead for delicious leftovers. This week make an extra-large amount of chili, soup, or a casserole you love. After you and your family enjoy it once, refrigerate the leftovers up to six days or freeze up to three months. On your busiest weekdays, heat up a portion and you've got an ultra-quick, hot, healthy, satisfying meal.

Lower your shoulders. When you feel yourself getting tense, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a deep breath. Then visualize three strings. One has an end tied to the back of your right shoulder; another has an end tied to the back of your left shoulder; a third has an end tied to your tailbone. Pretend someone is gently pulling the three strings together so your shoulders are pulled down and your tailbone is pulled up. Open your chest and breathe deeply through your nose five times. This will help reduce tension in your shoulders, encourage good posture, strengthen your back, and help you relax.

Eat right this Thanksgiving. Eat right this Thanksgiving. Here are three quick tips. 1) Keep control of your portions. A cupcake-size helping of mashed potatoes and a piece of turkey the size of a checkbook are about right. 2) Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch (without snacking) before your big meal so you're not overly hungry. 3) Drink lots of water throughout the day.

Walk outdoors after your feast. Grab your friends or family and walk outside after your Thanksgiving meal. If you're looking for a new route, try the newly cleared trails at the Billings-Tomfohr Nature Area on Coon Hill (located in the middle of the Twin Bluff School/Spruce Drive/Woodland Drive neighborhoods). Trail heads are located at the end of both Neil Street and Sumac Drive. You'll also find maps and trail markers along the way. For a printable map, visit www.livehealthyredwing.org.

Hard boil the egg-cellent egg. Eggs are high in protein and low in calories. This week, hard boil them and give to your kids as after-school snacks, toss them on spinach salads, slice them on whole-wheat muffins, or add them to vegetable wraps. Here's the fail-safe method: Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan. Fill with cold water so eggs are covered by 1 inch. Turn heat to high and bring to a rapid boil. When water reaches a boil, remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Drain and place eggs in a bowl of ice water until cool. Refrigerate in their shell for up to one week.

Stretch those wrists and forearms. Whether you're using a computer, heavy machinery, or doing house or yard work, this is a good habit. Stretch your arms out straight to your left and right with palms facing the ground. Then slowly point your fingers up to the ceiling and back five times. Next, slowly point your fingers down to the ground five times and back. Turn palms up the ceiling and repeat.

Roast vegetables the easy way. Pick root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, sweet onions, sweet potatoes, or yams. Wash, peel, then slice (or cut them into 1-inch squares). You can keep the skin on the carrots and sweet potatoes. Place in a single layer in an 11 x 13 inch pan and top with 2 diced garlic cloves, if desired. Drizzle all with vegetable or olive oil, toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a 425-degree oven, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes and enjoy their sweeter flavor.

Do 2-minute love-handle bends. When you need a break from sitting, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips and keep your knees very slightly bent. Tighten your core stomach area and slowly bend over to your left side. Count to two. Raise back to a neutral position and slowly bend to your right side. Count to two and repeat. These are great for strengthening the lower back and minimizing those pesky love-handle spots.

Find new ways to use leftover Halloween candy. Instead of going on a sugar high this week, try these ideas: Save the candies and put them in Christmas stockings, decorate gingerbread houses with them, or break them up and and mix them into plain yogurt or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Do sit-ups on TV breaks. Pick one show this week and do sit-ups (or half sit-ups) during each commercial break. If your lower back is sensitive, lay on your back, raise your ankles in the air above your hips, press your lower back to the floor, and tighten the abdomen slowly in and out for "crunches."

Pick one night for a home-cooked family meal. You already know family meals improve your well being, lower stress, and help you connect with those you love. The food is usually healthier, too. This week commit to taming your schedule and preparing a hot meal you can all enjoy together. Click here for healthy recipes you can make in 20 minutes or less.

Drink a glass or two of water before getting out of bed. Just fill up a glass and put it on your bedstand at night. If you can, drink a second or third glass while getting ready for the day. (If you drink coffee, reward yourself after the water.) Drinking water early in the morning will pep you up and stimulate your metabolism. You might also notice your skin will look better, you'll feel less hungry, and you'll have more energy throughout the day. Drink to your health!

Walk where you live. Celebrate fall with a walk around your neighborhood at least once this week. Find a street you've never walked down, say hi to a neighbor you've never met. Look around and see things in a different way. If you can, invite your spouse, child, neighbor, or dog!

Celebrate International Walk-Bike to School Day with a walk around your own block or neighborhood. If you have children at home, encourage them to walk or bike to school, after school, or in the evening. Kids learn from all of us, so set a good example and let them see you walking the walk!

Keep mini-weights at your desk. Do 5 or 10 reps whenever you're waiting for your computer, listening to phone messages, or simply need a mental and physical break. Keep weights at both your work and home desk and you'll start seeing results within a couple of weeks. Remember: Take deep breaths, do your reps slowly, and press your shoulders down. Don't have weights? Grab a can of corn, a hardcover book, or just use your arms!

Dish up fish. Fish boasts loads of protein and omega-3 fatty acids that help bring down your blood pressure and protect against heart disease. It's also low in saturated fat. Don't love fish? Try these easy ways to get less-fishy flavor into your meals: toss a can of white tuna in your pasta, fry up tilapia with spices and flake it into your tacos, or stir fry shrimp with vegetables on a bed of rice.

Try a different sweet reward. Are you doing your 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking a day? Fantastic! Treat yourself to something you love: a hug from your kids, an uplifting song, or a 15-minute respite with your favorite magazine. This week, stay away from celebrating with sweets. Most of us overestimate how many calories we're burning, and a max-sized muffin or extra-creamy latte erases the exercise in a hurry.

Berry yourself in berries. It's true--berries are one of the best foods you can eat. They're high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and have been proven to reduce cases of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and mental decline. So toss berries on your yogurt, in your cereal, or eat them out of hand. They're delicious!

Rearrange for change. Pick something in your bathroom or kitchen you use often (like your toothbrush or the salt) and put it in a place where you'll have to reach or bend to get it. It's another way to incorporate small, regular movements into your day, which helps improve balance, flexibility, and overall health.

Toss on some peanuts. Add this high-protein, high-fiber nut to your meals this week. They're delicious in green salads, mixed with craisins on top of yogurt, tossed into stir fries, or crumbled atop casseroles. Peanuts are easy, inexpensive, and versatile--plus kids like them, too.

Be a penguin. While you're waiting for your toast to pop up or a web page to load, do this 30-second exercise: Stand up straight, place your elbows at your side and touch your shoulders with your hands. Keeping your hands on your shoulders and your ears aligned above your shoulders, raise both elbows (count one, two) and lower them back to your waist (count one, two). Do as many reps as your wait allows. You're already on your way to better strength.

Buy at least one item from the Farmers' Market this week. The Red Wing market is open seven days a week on Fourth Street in front of City Hall (and Saturdays on Levee Street at the Train Depot). This time of year you'll find gorgeous tomatoes, squash, corn, cucumbers, and other delicacies. Make the most of it because this prime produce time won't last long.

Eat a healthier breakfast cereal. Take a few minutes to check out the nutrition labels, and look for brands that are relatively high in fiber
(3 grams or more), low in sugar (9 grams or less), and have no saturated fat. If you're looking for options that kids will like, too, try these: Cheerios, Post Shredded Wheat Spoon Size, Wheaties, Kashi Honey Sunshine, Quaker Oat Squares, and Raisin Bran (raisins add more natural sugar but no added sugar).


Eat something naturally orange today.
"Eat your colors" is a great mantra, and orange is one of the healthiest hues you can get. Orange foods are usually packed with beta-carotene and fiber, and specific foods pack a wallop in other areas like iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Summer is a great time to munch on peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, sweet orange peppers, and carrots. When the fall harvest begins, remember sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and pumpkin.

Go to bed a half hour earlier this week.
Studies show those who get enough sleep are better able to ward off sickness and depression and usually get more done during the day because they're well rested. Adults usually need 7 to 8 hours sleep, teens need 8 to 9, and children need 10 to 12. To fall asleep better, don't watch TV in bed and give yourself time to unwind.


Take the stairs this week.
Whether it's at work, the parking garage, or the shopping mall, look for the stairs (they're sometimes hard to find!). If you never ride an elevator, walk the stairs more quickly or take them two at a time. Every bit of extra activity helps, so use these everyday times to get those legs working.

Eat beans.
Pick from black beans, cannellinis, great Northerns, kidneys, pintos, and lots more--or mix them together. Beans are healthy, economical (either dried or canned), easy to make, and go well with anything. Eating them regularly lowers your chance of heart disease and diabetes and gives you lots of potassium, protein, and fiber. Saute with garlic and your favorite vinegrette, then add to fresh vegetables for a quick summer dish.

Have a TV-free day. Pick one day this week and proclaim it free of TV -- and video games, too -- for your kids and yourself. The average American child spends 7.5 hours per day on social and entertainment media but less than an hour playing outdoors. Take advantage of the weather and get outside.

Eat dinner on your lunch plate once this week.
Studies show if you use a smaller plate, you'll serve up and eat smaller portions of food. That doesn't mean you'll go hungry. Eating just 80% of your normal meal is usually enough to fill you up and keep you going.

Walk or bike on one trip this week. The U.S. Census reports 28% of Americans' trips are less than one mile long, but only 6% of us use our feet or bicycles to get where we need to go. (Compare that with Denmark, where 40% of all trips are made on foot or bicycle.) Pick one destination -- work, a friend's house, an errand -- and either walk or bike there. Or, if you live far away, drive most of the way and park a mile or half a mile away and use your feet the rest of the way.

Stand more today.
New research by the American Cancer Society, among other recent studies, reports that prolonged sitting -- even for those who exercise -- is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Today take more stretching breaks at work, stand or walk while you're on the telephone, or prop your home computer up so you can stand while you surf the web.

Keep fresh fruits and vegetables ready for kids' snacks this summer. Try these quick, inexpensive ideas: 1) Toss baby carrots in a small bowl of cold water to keep fresh and ready on the counter. 2) Mix nuts with raisins or craisins, shredded coconut, and whole-grain cereal in a bowl (or baggie for on the road). 3) Mix plain yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, and dill together for a dip to serve with "broccoli trees," sweet pepper slices, or quartered hard-boiled eggs. Set a good example and eat them yourself, too.

Plant a vegetable in a pot this week.
You don't need a yard - just a front or back step or entryway, so folks in apartments or housing units can do this, too. Cherry tomatoes, peas, and bush beans are easy to grow, as long as you have seven hours of sunlight. Studies show growing things helps lift your spirits, in addition to producing great-tasting food. Buy small plants if growing tomatoes; buy seeds for bush beans and peas. Each sells for between $1 and $4 locally.

Try something new this week. What is one thing you've been wanting to do but haven't tried? It doesn't have to be large and life changing; it can be something small--but something YOU want to do. Commit to carving out a bit of time this week and do it. Studies show that keeping your brain stimulated leads to better mental health and gives a you a lift that carries through to better physical health, too.

Walk briskly 10 minutes three times a day.
Getting fit doesn't have to mean running marathons. Walk 30 minutes a day -- start with just 10 minutes three times a day -- and see what a difference it makes. You'll improve blood circulation and digestion, and give yourself time to breathe deeply and rejuvenate.

Bike or walk to work or on an errand this week. Get in better shape during National Bike-Walk Week by using your own power to get somewhere. If you live far from your destination, park farther away and walk the rest. Or park in one spot and do your errands on foot. Work up to walking briskly for 30 minutes a day and you'll build muscle, speed up metabolism, and burn extra calories.

Take 10 minutes or more to eat your treat. We sometimes devour our food so quickly we don't realize what we're eating. Slow down and savor your treat. Take time to smell the food and chew slowly. The longer you take to eat it, the less you'll have to consume to fill satisfied.

Pack an apple. This summer as you pack for picnics, sack lunches, and kids' sports treats, remember apples. They're a low-calorie way to take in 4 grams of fiber, build a healthy heart, improve digestion, and lower cholesterol levels. Nutrients in the juice even help keep your gums healthy, so don't forget this easy, delicious treat for getting nutrition on the go!

Bike to celebrate the last week of school.
Take a child or friend on a bike ride along the Cannon Valley Trail or Hay Creek Trail and keep your eye out for wildflowers and wildlife. If you're looking for a shorter ride, choose the bike path around A.P. Anderson Park or Colvill Park, the quiet roads through Oakwood Cemetery, or along the street to your neighborhood park.

Make sure your kids have tennis shoes. Flip flops may be cute and popular, but tennis shoes are better for running, biking, making forts in the woods, and playing on the playground. There's also less risk of injuries, and with more running and playing, your children will sleep better, too!

Eat a cereal with whole grain first on its ingredients list this week.
Look for the words whole wheat, whole corn, oats, or bran (oat bran, corn bran, or wheat bran). Even better, make sure the cereal has at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 8 grams of sugar. Love granola? It's tasty but high in calories and sugar, so mix it with a low-sugar cereal and top with fruit.

Multi-task to build muscle. Think you don't have time to build up muscle strength? Try this exercise while doing dishes, brushing your teeth, or talking on the phone. Stand erect with good posture and feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your heels off the ground almost as high as you can. Hold for one or more seconds, then lower heels almost to the ground and repeat ten times. Work up to more repetitions and your calves will be in tip-top shape.

Use Kosher salt instead of table salt.
Half of us eat twice the amount of sodium we should every day. But Kosher salt contains 20% less sodium than regular table salt, so use Kosher salt in the kitchen and on the table. It's inexpensive and available next to the table salt at the grocery store. (Morton's coarse Kosher salt in the big black box is a good choice.)


Plant something this week.
It could be a small parsley plant you put in a pot on the front stoop. Or you might scatter seeds you received from a neighbor last fall. Whatever you choose, the act of growing things has been shown to improve mental and physical health. For an extra boost, plant a pleasantly aromatic plant such as lemon thyme, mint, lavender, basil, or peonies—their scent will give you an energy lift.

Drink one less cup of coffee today if you’re anxious. Caffeine in moderation isn’t bad for you, and for some people it may be a benefit. But if you feel yourself becoming anxious, or if you have a day this week that’s particularly nerve-wracking, settle on one cup. You might find it’s easier to slow down for a few minutes and take a deep breath.

Eat blueberries at least once this week. Blueberries are high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants and also help lower your cholesterol. They're low in calories but high in flavor. Eat them fresh on granola and yogurt or in a fruit salad. You'll also find them by the bag in the frozen fruit section. Thawed, they taste delicious in oatmeal or blended with milk, yogurt, and bananas in a smoothie.

Stretch and breathe deeply for 5 minutes before going to bed tonight.
Increasing your circulation while relaxing your mind and body will help lead to a better night's sleep. A good starter stretch: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend over from your hips, letting your arms and head hang down. Hold for 8 to 10 full breaths, and gently roll up. Next reach your arms up to the ceiling and breathe deeply three times. Repeat whole stretch three to five times.

Turn off the TV this week. Bad weather outside? Kids bored? No excuses. Play a board game, deal the cards, walk around the neighborhood, read a book, make a good meal, do something you've never tried before. American children 6 years and younger spend, on average, 2 hours watching TV per day, and kids 8 to 18 years average 4 or more (plus an additional 2 hours on computers). So unplug the black box altogether this week. Real life is better than television.

Make your car a food-free zone.
Your busy life might find you eating unhealthy breakfasts or fast food dinners behind the wheel to get to your next destination on time. This week slow down and plan to eat ahead. You'll eat better--and make things safer for others on the road, too.

Make your meat portion the size of your fist. It's an easy rule you can start today. You'll get all the flavor without overdoing it. Think you'll still be hungry? You might surprise yourself. Complement your meal with fresh vegetables sauteed in olive oil and your choice of rice, beans, pasta, or bread.

Pay attention outside.
Whether you live on a city street, in an apartment, near the woods, or in the country--get outside and look around. Take time to appreciate the daily changes: the budding hedge, the purple crocus, the rushing river, the greening grass. Give yourself 15 minutes today. You'll feel better inside and out.

Eat breakfast every day this week. Only 49 percent of Americans say they eat breakfast seven days a week. But eating this early meal helps you maintain a healthy weight because it discourages overeating later in the day. If you only want a small breakfast, choose a piece of fruit for its disease-fighting antioxidants and energy boost.

Walk or pace every time you're on the phone today at home or work.
Cell phones let you to chat while you walk around the neighborhood or walk around the block at your office. Every bit of movement helps keep you fit, so move every chance you get!

Make time for 15 minutes of meditation. An increasing number of studies shows meditation can help reduce conditions such as sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and more. Here are a few basic steps if you're just getting started.

     * Breathe deeply and slowly. Concentrate on fully inhaling and exhaling
       through the nostrils.
     * Focus on the sensations of each body section. Try to imagine
       breathing heat or relaxation into each part.
     * Reflect on nature. Whether you're walking or sitting, listen, smell,
       touch, and see what's around you.
     * Be in the present and laser your thoughts on gratitude. If it helps,
       focus on an object that reminds you of what you're thankful for.


Connect with someone who gives you energy.
Who makes you feel good? Spend quality time with one of those people this week. If you're geographically close, go for a walk together or share lunch. If they're far away, send an email or letter, or pick up the phone. It will give you a mental lift that's sure to help your health!


Ward off the mid-March blues with a 20 to 30 minute stint outside.
Many people feel lethargic in late winter. Some even experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But getting active and exposing yourself to more sunlight can have a positive effect on your brain's chemicals and give you an immediate mental boost. You also expend more calories in the cold. So get moving!

Eat less cheese today. Americans eat three times as much cheese as we did 30 years ago. So it's no surprise that cheese is this country's leading source of saturated fat, which clogs arteries. Focus on cutting down your least healthy choices such as cream cheese, cheddar, and any highly processed cheese. Your healthiest options? Cottage cheese, Quark, ricotta, goat cheese, Parmegiano Reggiano, and feta. All are good sources of calcium, protein, phosphorus, Vitamin B, and other nutrients.

Drivers watch out for walking children. Deep snow makes it difficult to see children and teens walking to and from school. Slow down and be aware, especially at intersections. By choosing today to be a safer driver, you'll make it easier for all kids to be outdoors and active.

Take a winter walk around your neighborhood.
The snow will be melting soon. Enjoy these days of late winter with a quiet trip down the street or around the block. If you get the chance, say hello to a fellow walker or neighbor.

Lift weights from around the house. A recent study showed lifting weights affected overall health in people 60 years and older more than any other single thing. By straining the muscle, it builds back up stronger than before--even into older age. Start with 10 minutes a day and work up. If you don't have hand-held weights, lift cans of soup from the kitchen, or anything around the house. If you're sedentary, use your own body weight and try this simple exercise: Sit down in a chair and stand up 10 times in a row three times per day until you get stronger.

Give up pop for one day. The average 16-ounce soda contains
12 teaspoons of sugar and 200 calories. To visualize that, go to your kitchen, take out a glass, and measure 12 teaspoons of sugar into the glass. Then multiply that by the number of sodas you drink per day. That's a lot of sugar and a lot of empty calories. Substitute water and your energy levels won't crash.

Donate something today.
Studies show that doing something for someone else boosts one’s mood and overall mental health.


Get your kids or grandkids in the snow!
Half our children do not get the physical activity they need to live a healthy lifestyle. Remind them (and you!) how great it feels to be outside playing. Don't organize a game, project, or activity. Just get them outside and let them use their own creativity.

Shovel. And put the snowblower away for a day. You'll burn calories and feel terrific after a half hour doing that old-fashioned northern job--shoveling the front walk.

Manage stress to keep healthy. Stress is a part of all our lives, but letting it overtake you can inhibit your immune system, make you tired and depressed, lead to headaches or insomnia, and induce a host of other health problems. Try these steps:

        * Identify your current stresses

        * Pinpoint what you can control and what you can't
        * Identify areas in your life where you can take care of yourself
               better physically and emotionally
        * Make those positive changes a reality, whether through healthier
               eating, more physical activity, relaxation techniques, building
               social networks, or finding guidance through others.

Know your heart-saving numbers! Learn your your blood pressure number and your and cholesterol number, and remember it just like your telephone number. Knowing these numbers can help save your heart and significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease. During your next checkup or health screening, do the following:


* Get your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, write them down, and
   keep them in a handy place.


* Ask your doctor to explain what each number means, what your target
  range should be, how often they should be re-checked, and any concerns
  you have.


* Work on raising your activity and nutrition levels each day and compare
  new numbers to previous numbers. You will see and feel a difference!

Don't diet as a resolution this year. Instead, commit to eating right. Eat three balanced meals a day with a mini meal in mid-afternoon. If you eat about every four hours, you'll be less likely to gorge later, and you'll cut those late-night nibbles to nothing.   

Buy fresh, local food at the Farmers' Market. This winter, you'll find the Market on select Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sargent's Nursery Greenhouse. Peruse fresh bread, garlic, peanut butter, meats, pickles, preserves, honey, and even lefse. Eat fresh and local -- it feels good!

Make daily chores part of your exercise. Thirty minutes of vacumming burns roughly 105 calories, and a half hour of briskly walking up and down stairs putting away toys or clothing burns up to 150. You only need to burn 400 calories each day to stay in shape (more if you're trying to lose weight). So use those yard and household tasks to keep you moving, stretching, bending, and flexing!

 

Prepare a vegetable dish for dinner this week. For something easy, sauté vegetables such as sliced, onions, sweet peppers, broccoli florets, and minced garlic in olive oil. Make a quick sauce by mixing sesame oil with a dash of soy sauce and a generous sprinkling of ground ginger
and black pepper. Serve over hot rice. Share this or a family recipe with your kids—teaching children to cook will help them eat healthier and feel better their whole lives.

Eat the USDA recommended 2,000 calories a day. That's not as much as you might think. If you find yourself indulging a little (or a lot) one day, find a friend or family member and walk together after the meal. If you can't find an adult, children are almost always willing.

Buy a healthier cracker. First, read the nutrition label carefully. Look for the words whole grain, whole wheat, cracked wheat, rolled oats, or rye as the first or second ingredient. Be watchful. Names such as wheat flour, unbleached flour, and enriched flour may sound healthy but they refer to refined white flour, which is much less nutritious. Even crackers with “multigrain” or “stone-ground” in the title can be deceptive. For fiber, find one with 2 to 3 grams per ounce; sodium levels should be 200 mg per ounce or less.

Walk at lunch. Choose a day this week and walk briskly for 15 minutes. Loosen the neck and shoulders, breathe deeply through your nose, and swing your arms more than usual. Bring a friend and you may decide to keep it up once or twice a week.

Put away the salt shaker today. Though Americans typically consume only six percent of their sodium from the shaker, it's enough to push you over the limit. Healthy adults should take in no more than 2,300 mg of salt per day (there's 1,000 mg in a tablespoon of soy sauce alone). If you're middle-aged, have high blood pressure, or have previously suffered from heart disease, that daily intake goal is cut to 1,500 mg. So be good to your kidneys today and do without the extra salt.

Take a big breath. Breathing deeply reduces anxiety, releases endorphins, focuses the mind, and strengthens abdominal muscles. Slowly breathe in through the nostrils as far as possible, hold for 6 seconds, then breathe out through the mouth as far as possible. Repeat five times. Share the exercise with your kids or grandkids.

Get 8 hours of sleep tonight. Adults need 7 to 8 hours, teens need 8 to 9, and children need 10 to 12. People with adequate sleep feel more energetic, maintain weight better, and suffer less depression.

Walk 10,000 steps today. It's not as intimidating as you might guess. Walking one mile at a solid pace takes only 15 minutes—and equals almost 2000 steps! Work up to 10,000 steps a day and you’ll see vast improvements to your endurance, metabolism, and mood.

Drink an extra glass of water today. It’s the cheapest, easiest way to improve health. Drinking water fights off fatigue, improves metabolism, aids in weight loss, improves skin, decreases constipation and muscle cramps, and helps avoid migraines.

Stretch for 10 minutes before you go to sleep tonight. Stretching improves circulation and increases flexibility and balance, which helps prevent falls as you age.

Dance to the commercial jingles of your favorite TV show. Ten minutes of moderate-intensity activity three times a day, five days a week, can decrease risk of heart disease, stroke, and weight gain.

Be a friendly face to trick-or-treaters (or any kids you see outside!) this month. Kids love to meet their neighbors, especially on Halloween night. Take time to light up your house and share a smile. Seeing happy children works wonders toward mental health.

Let your child walk or bike to school. Forty years ago, 42% of kids did it; now just 16% do. Getting activity outdoors increases energy and focus for learning—and it’s fun. If you drive your child, stop two or three blocks from school and let him or her walk the rest of the way.

Park two blocks from your destination today. Walking for just 10 minutes three times a day is enough to help keep bones, joints, and muscles healthy, ward off fatigue, and get a better night’s sleep

Eat two handfuls of nuts. A regular dose of nuts lowers cholesterol and risk of heart disease, provides fiber, protein, and antioxidants, and gives you energy. Eat them instead of your usual high-fat snack (like chips). Your healthiest choices? Walnuts and almonds.