Susan Johnson

3 Early Symptoms of Diabetes

It’s important to pay attention to the signs and signals the body gives us. Diabetes has a number of early signs, but because they’re rather subtle, you might not notice, and, the longer you go without managing diabetes, the greater at risk you are for serious complications like blindness, amputation and heart disease.

Don’t let fear of the disease control you – instead, control it by being aware of these three early symptoms:

You’re urinating more often, and frequently feel parched. The average person typically has to urinate between four and seven times in a 24-hour period, but those with diabetes tend to go a lot more. That also makes one feel a lot more thirsty – then, you drink more, and pee more too.

You feel shaky and crave high-carb, sugary foods. If you have diabetes, it’s common to start feeling shaky and experience an immediate need for high-carb, often sugar-filled foods. That’s because when you have high blood sugar, the body has a problem regulating glucose.

Your vision is blurry. If your vision suddenly seems blurry, thankfully, it doesn’t mean impending blindness. In the early stages of diabetes, the lens of the eye has difficulty focusing because glucose builds up in the eye.

If or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is wise to make an appointment with a trusted physician.

– Be Well



My feet are always cold: What is wrong?

You are curled up beside the fire with a cup of tea. You have your cozy socks and slippers on and are snuggled up in a warm throw blanket. Everything is so perfect. But wait, why do your feet feel so cold? That doesn’t make any sense, they should feel toasty and warm. You take off your slippers and socks and your tootsies are incredibly warm to touch but they still feel cold. Has something like this ever happened to you?

It is common for most people to experience cold feet from time to time. However, if your feet are consistently cold, despite the weather or the fact that you have socks on, it could be a sign you are suffering from the early stages of neuropathy. This is especially true if your feet are not cold to touch but still feel cold. The word neuropathy simply means nerve disease or damage.

What are peripheral nerves?

There are two parts in the nervous system: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The nerves within the peripheral system are responsible for transmitting messages between the central nervous system and the brain and spinal cord along and the rest of your body.

The nerves have the vital job of regulating some functions within the body, including voluntary muscle movement, involuntary organ activity and perception of stimuli.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves in the peripheral system ( outside of the brain and spinal cord) become damaged. This condition impacts the nerves in the extremities including toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms.

How does neuropathy make my feet cold?

Having diabetes increases your risk of developing neuropathy. In fact, upwards of 70% of diabetics will experience some form or another or neuropathy during their illness. Sensory nerve damage can cause symptoms including decreased sensation and the inability to feel temperature. Simply put, your feet may feel cold because of the damaged nerve fibers, even though it may seem like they should be warm.

What should I do?

Unfortunately, many people wait to be diagnosed with diabetes until they start to experience some form of diabetic neuropathy. So, in this case, neuropathy may be a warning sign that you are diabetic, and you need to seek medical attention. If you are already diabetic and are experiencing neuropathy, there are some things that you can do to alleviate the discomfort. Depending on how far along the condition has progressed, you may even be able to reverse it.

Of course, if you are a Type 2 diabetic, the best thing would be to change your diet and lifestyle so that you no longer have a blood glucose problem. Many people may not know it, but Type 2 diabetes is not a life sentence. With a proper diet and lifestyle, you can experience a complete and total healing from this condition.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the discomfort:

  • Be sure to check your feet daily, tops, bottoms, and in between your toes. If you have a loss of sensation, you may not know if your feet have been damaged.
  • Spend a little more for high-quality shoes that fit.
  • Wash your feet daily in warm water – you can add a little Epsom salt for a soothing foot soak. Be sure to dry thoroughly.
  • Don’t go barefoot. Closed toe shoes with socks are best.
  • Check back with your doctor if you develop the feelings of pins and needles or lose the sensation in your feet.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed.

Most of all, don’t ignore your body and the signs it may be giving you. Excessive damage from neuropathy can be avoided, but only if you stay in touch with how you feel.

-Be Well

How to Stick to Your Healthy Lifestyle Plan

Congratulations, you have made some healthy choices. You have put away the old and embraced the new for the better. Perhaps you have noticed a marked increase in energy, a decrease in physical ailments, a better outlook on life and an overall sense of empowerment. It all started with a decision that you made to be the best you can be, to strive for health and to be well.

Now the big question is, how do you make this change last? How do you stay healthy and continue to move forward? After all, you have put so much effort into embracing a healthy life that it would be sorrowful to slip back into your old ways.

Believe it or not, the tricky part is not adapting new behaviors and attitudes; it is making them stick. So many times people reach a level of health that they have never known only to fall back into their old ways and lose all that they have gained.  To keep yourself moving forward consider these tips:

Understand balance

It is next to impossible to make the right choice 100% of the time. You will have days when it is harder to exercise, harder to make great food choices and just more difficult to stay motivated. Being realistic about the curve balls that life will pitch you will help to keep you balanced. Balance means staying in touch with what is important always, striving to do your best and picking yourself up and moving forward when you have a bad moment or even a bad day. Balance is about being real and understanding that it is ok to slip as long as you get up and continue forward progression.

Do what you love

When it comes to exercise, there is no way that you are going to stick to your routine if you are doing something that you don’t love. The key to adopting healthy regime is to find a few things that bring you joy and do them as often as you can. Keep in mind that the key to an active lifestyle is not to feel like exercise is your enemy. Embrace activities that you love like walking, biking, swimming, dancing or even playing with your kids as often as you can. You will soon become unaware that you are even exercising because you are enjoying yourself so much.

Keep learning

As Leonardo da Vinci said, ” Learning never exhausts the mind.” A hunger for new information will keep you on top of a healthy life. Find good sources and plug in often. The more you learn about food, nutrition, and exercise, the better choices you will make. Don’t ever let a lack of knowledge propel you towards inaction or inadequate action. There is so much good, solid information available that learning is easy.. Keep a record of all of the things you learn and make it a habit to try new things weekly.

Take it one step at a time

When making changes in your life, always remember that you can never get where you are going without taking the first step. Sometimes the first move is the hardest, but it is also the most important. Furthermore, you always have to walk before you can walk faster… if you put one foot in front of the other and continue moving, you will always be gaining and improving your health. Discouragement often comes when we try to do too much too quickly.

Be ok with where you are

Know that where you are is where you should be. This will help you keep perspective on your health journey. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to forgive yourself if you slip up a bit. Worrying constantly about where you are going will take away from enjoying where you are at the moment. Look back down your path and see how far you have come rather than be concerned with how far you have to go. You will be amazed at how much influence you can have on yourself – you can be your best cheerleader or your worst critic. It is always best to be the cheerleader.

Surround yourself with like-minded family and friends

Social pressure can be both beneficial and also devastating. Your long term success with your healthy life will be challenged by social pressure along the way. To make it easier, surround yourself with family and friends who love and support you. People who feel the same way about health as you do will make your journey much easier. Even if they don’t agree 100% with all that you are doing, if they are respectful and supportive it will be much easier for you to remain focused. Some people even find it easier to join a support group with people who are on the same track. This gives you a safe place to talk about your concerns, share ideas and motivate each other.

Have a plan for traveling

Of course adopting a healthy lifestyle does not mean that you put all areas of your life on hold, including travel. With the general population becoming more and more aware of the necessity of healthy choices, there are more options to stay healthy while you travel. However, don’t ignore the benefit that a little planning along the way can have. While you are still in the planning stages, be sure that you will have access to healthy food and places to exercise while you travel.

This may even mean bringing along a workout tape or arranging a vacation where you can be active. If you plan on eating out a lot, know the in’s and out’s of dining out and what is acceptable for your meal plan. Some people find it easier to rent a place where they can do their shopping and cooking most of the time. This way you can be in control of what you are eating. If you are planning a road trip – pack your food and make ample time to stop, get out and walk around.

Be mindful

No matter what, always be mindful. Be aware of what you are eating, what you are doing and even what you are speaking and thinking. Take time to enjoy life, enjoy food, enjoy an active lifestyle and you will find that health is no longer a pursuit as much as it is a way of life that you embrace.

-Be Well

Follow These Real Food Rules for Better Health

Don’t let the thought of eating less scare you. Once you make the shift to a healthier life, including more nutrient dense food, you will find that you just can’t seem to eat as much or as often as you used to when quality was not an issue. Feeding your body correctly results in a rebalancing which leads to eating less. It is a win, win really!

You will no longer experience the highs and lows in your blood sugar which so often result in what is know as crashing. When you eat food that is not nutrient dense it impacts your blood sugar in such as way as you may have an immediate burst of energy followed by a low period when you become irritable, tired, and quite hungry. This hunger leads you to consume more food, and the whole cycle begins again.

When it comes to eating

When it comes to eating, we all have to do it. We all must take in nourishment to sustain the life force within us. Quite simply, without nutrients, we would die. However, what many people don’t realize is that the higher quality nutrients that they consume, the less they have to take in. In other words, consuming foods that do a better job in sustaining us, repairing, and protecting the body creates a more efficient system.

This is the way we are designed to operate. The old saying, junk in equals junk out is entirely correct. When we pump ourselves full of nutrient void food, we require quite a bit more of it to derive any benefit at all. Much of what many Americans consume falls into the junk category, even though you may be misled to think that it is quite healthy. Therefore, eating higher quality food is the first key to eating less.

Tips for choosing quality food

With the commercial food market flooded with propaganda, it ‘s hard to know what is real food and what is not. Food manufacturers often put deceptive wording on packages that convey a sense of healthiness when, in fact, nothing about the particular food is healthy.

Author Michael Pollan wrote an incredibly clever book entitled Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. In this book, Pollan talks about the basics of eating healthy, real food and does a fantastic job outlining the principles that one should stick to when it comes to choosing real nutrient dense food. Here is a snapshot of some of his rules:

Eat mostly plants, especially leaves: Research indicates that a plant-based diet is ideal for managing weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. According to a study of almost 100,000 Seventh-day Adventist church members which promotes a vegetarian diet), it was found that vegetarians had lower rates of type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Michael J. Orlich, M.D., an assistant professor of preventative medicine at Loma Linda University in California was involved in the study. He says, ” The closer people follow a vegan diet, the more they stay at a healthy weight and prevent type 2.”

Sharon Palmer, RD, and author of The Plant-Powered Diet says this, ” Study after study has tightly linked eating a plant-based diet with decreasing a number of chronic diseases – type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers.”

Eating mostly plants does not mean that you have to abandon meat altogether to reap at least some of the benefits. Keep in mind that if you do include meat in your diet, it should be high quality. ( see the next food rule on meat selection).

Eat animals that have eaten well: While the saying you are what you eat is true, it is also true that you are what you eat has eaten. In other words, if you are eating animals be it meat, seafood or chicken that have not been raised sustainably and are subject to feed that is not in their natural diet, your health will suffer. Choose grass-fed meat, free range poultry, and fresh caught seafood and avoid processed meats of any kind that contain harmful chemicals and have microscopic nutritional value.

Eat your colors: Pollan makes an excellent point regarding the color of food. The colors found in vegetables are a reflection of the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain . A significant number of these chemicals can protect us from chronic disease. So, for best protection, keep your plate colorful and choose from a wide variety of vegetables.

Avoid white bread: Eating white bread is as bad as eating a candy bar, maybe worse. Minimizing your consumption of white flour will help your blood sugar balance and keep unwanted sugar crashes at bay. The same goes for enriched pasta, it will just send you skyrocketing and crashing shortly after. Eat whole, real grains in moderation including things like quinoa, oats, barley, millet and brown rice.

Shop the outside aisles of the supermarket:, says Pollan, nothing good resides inside the aisles of the supermarket. If you shop at a traditional store, you will see that processed foods are mainly found on the inner aisles. Produce, meat, and dairy are found on the outside edges. If you want real food, stay to the outside edges.

Snack on unprocessed plant food: Snacking on unhealthy, processed items only leads to more eating and more eating. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant food such low sugar fruits, raw nuts, and veggies.

Here are a few more real food rules to consider:

Don’t eat anything with three or more ingredients: If your food item has more than five ingredients, it is probably safe to say that it isn’t too real.

Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce: Don’t eat anything that you can’t pronounce. Suffice it to say, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

Eat plenty of healthy oil/fat: Contrary to what you might think, fat does not make your fat. At least not healthy fat like organic cold pressed coconut oil, avocado oil, organic butter, etc.. Be sure to include plenty of healthy fats in your diet. This will help keep you full longer and also fuel your metabolic furnace. Stay away from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil at all costs.

Ditch Sugar: Refined sugar is your enemy, avoid it at all costs. Stay away from sugary drinks and anything with any added sugar.

Don’t worry, there are lots of great alternative to refined sugar. Try these delicious cookies made with coconut crystals.

Make good decisions

Did you know that on average we make about 35,000 decisions each day? These include decisions about what to eat, what to wear, what to believe, what to purchase, etc, It is astounding the number of choices we make, many of them without even thinking.  The truth is, every decision we make brings particular consequences – some good and some, unfortunately bad.

Over time, the consequences of our choices begin to accumulate and can take us down different roads. For most of us, our life’s a journey that is peppered with both good and bad choices and our health balance sheet is a reflection of this truth.

Eating less is all about being mindful, being knowledgeable, being prepared and being committed. Each choice we make carries with it a consequence. As Albert Camus said, “Life is a sum of all of your choices. With that, it is important to choose well, choose real and eat food that will bring about healing through rich nourishment. This is the secret to eating less.

-Be Well

CHECK THIS OUT: Want to learn how to use real food to reverse your Type 2 diabetes? 


Mixing it Up: Healthy Eating Means Balanced Eating

What if all you ate were carrots? How about if your breakfast, lunch, and dinner were comprised of only cucumbers? Would you be healthy? Even though these are healthy foods, eating the same things day in and day out does not provide your body with the required mix of nutrients necessary for overall health and wellbeing. Variety, or balance, is the key to success when it comes to protection from disease and healing from such things as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Fact: The US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that the more diverse the diet, the greater the protection from premature death from any cause.

One of the biggest challenges facing people who desire to have a truly healthy diet is figuring out what exactly they should be eating. While replacing candy bars with apples and white pasta with whole grain is admirable, understanding how variety works is equally as important. To be the metabolic powerhouse you are designed to be, you must keep your plate varied.

Taking a closer look

Here are a couple of convincing reasons why eating a balanced diet is essential to good health, prevention and healing:

A balanced diet means balanced nutrients

If you want to get adequate nutrition, at a varied diet. This is what a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Nutritional science has found over 50 essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids that the body cannot make on its own, therefore, we must get these essential nutrients from the food we consume. There are also over 1200 phyto- chemicals that are found in fruits vegetables, beans, grains and animal products. All of these play a role in overall health and wellness. Balanced nutrients come from a balanced diet since not one single food or food group can provide everything we need.

Dietary diversity protects your from sickness and disease

According to research in the Journal of Nutrition, people who consume the same food over and over again tend to be less healthy than those who eat a varied diet. Participants in the study who ate the widest range of foods were 21% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar and increased body fat that increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes) when compared to those who ate a standard, unvaried diet. Those that ate a varied diet were also more likely to have a healthy waist circumference than those who did not eat a healthy diet.

Various studies have shown that a diverse diet helps to keep blood sugar levels regulated and protects against the onset of type-2 diabetes. A nutrient-rich, balanced diet has been shown to protect against a variety of cancers including gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer and oral and pharyngeal cancer.

Furthermore, eating a varied diet appears to have a protective impact on our heart as it reduces consumption of dangerous refined foods such as sugar salt and unhealthy fats

Variety in action

So, now that you know how important a balanced diet is, it is time for the rubber to meet the road. First things first, just how many food groups are there? You will get different answers depending on where you look and who you talk to. While the latest attempt at a Food Pyramid, My Plate,  from US government is leaps and bounds better than what it ever has been, it still has some fundamental flaws. It does encourage more plant foods but makes the mistake of suggesting low-fat dairy and doesn’t address the necessity of real saturated fat vs processed or hydrogenated fat.

Here is a look at the food groups that will keep you healthy, vibrant and protected. These food groups contain anti-inflammatory foods that are designed to promote balance and healing.

Vegetables: Consume 4-5 servings a day of colorful, raw and cooked vegetables. Choose organic when possible. Remember to keep it diverse.

If you are in a hurry, you can use frozen veggies. Try this delicious and nutritious vegetable dish that you can whip up in no time.

Fruit: It is always best to eat in season. What does your local farmer’s market have? Enjoy a 3-4 serving of fresh or fresh frozen fruit daily.

Whole and cracked grains: There has been a lot of confusion spread about the difference between whole grains and what is pulverized grains such as what you find in flour. Real, whole and cracked grains are quite different. For instance, a wheat berry or a rolled oat is a whole grain whole oat flour is not. So, when you read something about consuming whole grains, it is good advice as long as you understand what it means. If you consume whole wheat bread instead of white bread, you have not arrived as that whole wheat bread most likely spiked your blood sugar in the same way as the white bread. This is the sad but real, truth. Healthy choices include brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, steel cut oats and wild rice. Enjoy 3-5 ½ cup servings per day.

Pasta: If you enjoy pasta, do so with caution. Have 2-3 ½ cup servings a week but be sure that you are eating organic rice noodles, bean thread noodles or buckwheat noodles. It is also best to eat them al dente as the impact on your blood sugar will be less severe.

Here is a pasta dish that the whole family will love.

Beans/legumes: Rich in magnesium, folic acid, potassium and soluble fiber, beans and legumes are a great addition to any healthy diet. Enjoy 1-2 ½ cup servings daily including black beans, lentils, chickpeas and black-eyed peas.

Healthy fats: Healthy fats are critical to a healthy diet. Don’t be misled on this point; you must have healthy fat to burn fat. Healthy fats include such things as olive oil, coconut oil, organic/raw butter, raw nuts ( especially walnuts) and organic nut oils, hemp seeds, freshly ground flax seeds and avocados. Enjoy 5-7 servings per day. A serving is equal to one teaspoon of oil, one tablespoon of flax and other seeds and 1 ounce of avocado.

Fish and seafood: Fish is rich in omega-3 fats and is best enjoyed a couple of times each week. Healthy fish includes wild Alaskan salmon, herring, black cod and sardines. Keep your portion size to 4 ounces and if you don’t like fish take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement with EPA and DHA ( 2-3 grams per day).

Protein: Add other high-quality protein sources 2-3 times a week including organic cheeses, organic eggs, free range chicken and grass fed meat.

Other: Use spices liberally, especially ginger, cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric. Consume 2-5 cups of green tea and at least eight glasses of water per day. Also, forgo all fast, processed and packaged foods – especially those including refined sugar and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil.

Keep it exciting, keep it balanced

An excellent way to keep your diet interesting is to pick different foods from the groups listed above at each meal. Remember, keep it colorful and keep it real!

-Be Well

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5 Things You Need to Know Now About Blood Sugar

Many people diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes have lots of questions about blood sugar and what raises it. Here are five things that you really need to know about blood sugar.

  • Your blood sugar level is important because it’s your body’s main source of energy. Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas produces which helps sugar move out of the bloodstream, and into the body’s cells where it’s used as energy. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body isn’t making enough insulin, and the insulin that it does produce doesn’t work as well as it should.
  • Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is a form of chronic stress which leads to higher blood sugar levels.
  • Artificially-flavored foods or drinks like diet soda can take a negative toll on your blood sugar – studies have shown mice given artificial sweeteners had high blood sugar levels than mice who drank plain water, or even water with sugar.
  • High-fat meals can affect blood sugar to as high levels of fat in the blood harm the body’s ability to clear out sugar.
  • Smoking cigarettes raise blood sugar levels which increase the risk for serious diabetes complications, including stroke and heart attack.

Remember: Eating a varied diet that is loaded with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fat, is a great way to keep your blood sugar balanced.

-Be Well


Keeping it Fresh, New, and Enjoyable

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. Once you start making positive changes, you will begin to feel your old self sloughing away and a new person being formed. At first, the incredible changes that are happening in your body and even your mind, are enough to keep you motivated and on track.

After some time, it is not unusual and expected, that you may become a bit bored with your routine and long for a bit of spice to keep the spark of motivation lit. When the stresses of daily life creep in along with social pressures, staying plugged in becomes increasingly difficult. Here are some tips to help keep you going strong in your pursuit of optimal wellness:

Change up your aerobic routine

Sometimes all it takes is a change in your workout routine to keep things interesting and fun. Think outside the box and learn how to mix and match for best results. Here are some great ideas.

Outdoor activities

Engaging in aerobic activities outdoors provides multiple benefits. Fresh air, vitamin D, and time in nature are three reasons to spice up your workout routine with some of these great outdoor activities.

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Cross – country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Rollerblading
  • Swimming
  • Wakeboarding
  • Ice Skating
  • Paddle boarding
  • Rowing
  • Kayaking

Group classes

It is often helpful to be in a common space with people who are all working towards the same goal; to be healthy and fit. Many people find that they are motivated by group classes. Here are just a few that you can try.

  • Zumba
  • Kettlebells
  • Spinning
  • Dancing
  • Power yoga
  • Crossfit
  • Water aerobics


Are you a sports fanatic? Why not participate in activities that are loads of fun and will also get your heart pumping, Below are some popular options.

  • Racquetball
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Karate
  • Flag football
  • Soccer

Workout videos

Perhaps you like the idea of an instructor-based class but are not up for the social buzz that goes along with joining a class at the gym. Workout videos are a great alternative that allow you to participate in an instructor-led class in the comfort of your home. You can even get the whole family engaged! There is no shortage of videos from which you can choose. These are just a sampling of what is available.

  • Tae Bo
  • Hip Hop Abs
  • The Biggest Loser workouts
  • Gilad’s Bodies in Motion
  • Dancing with the Stars workouts
  • P9OX
  • T-24
  • Jillian Michaels workouts
  • Fitness Blender ( this one is free online)

At the gym

If you belong to a gym, be sure to get your money’s worth. Perhaps the treadmill is your go-to cardio machine, be daring and branch out a little. Here are some ideas:

  • Elliptical trainer
  • Stationary bike
  • Stair climbers
  • Rowing machine
  • Adaptive motion trainer
  • Incline trainer
  • Versa climber

For the fun of it

Infuse some joy into your life with these exciting activities. You will have so much fun that you won’t even know that you are breaking a sweat.

  • Walking your dog
  • Tag
  • Obstacle course
  • Dodge ball
  • Jump rope
  • Skipping
  • Rebounding
  • Playing with your kids
  • Pool basketball/volleyball

Around the house

Get your chores done and stay fit at the same time.

  • Mowing your lawn with a push mower (no riders allowed)
  • Washing your car
  • Mopping the floor
  • Planting trees and bushes
  • Shoveling snow
  • Washing windows
  • Painting
  • Putting up a fence

Consider high-intensity interval training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), is also known as high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) or sprint interval training (SIT). This type of training involves short periods of really intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. These cardiovascular exercise sessions last between 4-30 minutes.

This type of  exercise is great because it can help with glucose metabolism and has the capability of blasting fat long after the workout is over. Besides, this type of exercise has the advantage over others in that it requires no equipment. While you can use equipment such as kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, spin bikes, etc… there are numerous variations that require nothing more than a pair of gym shoes.  A great starter workout is running fast for one minute and walking for two minutes. You can repeat this for a total of 15 minutes for a super effective workout.

Surround yourself with like-minded people

It is a good idea to surround yourself with individuals who share common goals. Social cues can be either positive or negative. It is always best to stay clear of situations that might undermine your success and efforts and gravitate towards those that affirm and lift you up. One way to keep on track is to engage in social activities with other healthy people. Having a group of friends to stay healthy with also keep ideas circulating and provides new opportunities to engage in a fun and active lifestyle together.

Don’t let stress get your best

Everyone has stress; the goal is not to eliminate it but to learn how to respond to it, how to manage it in a way that it doesn’t interfere with your attitude or performance.

Once we let stress overcome us we can quickly become discouraged and lose sight of our goals. This makes it almost impossible to keep on pressing towards the mark.

To keep your healthy lifestyle fresh, new and exciting, set up barriers and coping tools for managing stress in your life. Learn how to relax, say no more often and remember that if you are no good to yourself, you will be no good to others.

A new start each day

Each day gives you the opportunity to be your best. Keep it fresh and exciting while you strive to be the healthiest you can be. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.

-Be Well

Tips for Self-Monitoring Your Weight and Food Intake

Do you know exactly what you have eaten in the last say or so? How about how much you weigh from week to week, month to month, or even year to year? How many steps did you walk yesterday or the day before that?  While it is pretty easy to eat it and forget it, this is not the case when you are practicing self-transparency and monitoring your weight, food intake and even your movement.

Self-monitoring is very easy and will help you achieve your weight and healthy lifestyle goals. By definition, self-monitoring is simply the practice of watching and recording your thoughts and actions and using the information to formulate, follow or realign your health goals

Self-monitoring uses a few tools such as diet journals/logs, regular weigh-ins and measurements and even pedometers.  The key is, to be honest and observant about what you are eating, how much you are moving and even how you are feeling.

Benefits of self-monitoring

Here are just some of the reasons why self-monitoring should be part of your health journey:

  • You will eat less: Research has demonstrated that when people record what they eat, they eat less. 
  • You will exercise more and even enjoy it more.
  • You will see immediate results. Seeing immediate results is an excellent motivator.
  • You will know what works: Tracking what you are eating, and your exercise regime along with your weight and measurement will help you decide what works best.
  • Your goals can seem manageable: Self-monitoring is an excellent way to break your big goals into smaller and more achievable and realistic pieces.
  • You can be flexible: When you record what you eat, and your exercise patterns measure your efforts on a regular basis, you can be more flexible about things like special occasions or day’s off. Once you know what works for you, you can use this information to create whatever kind of lifestyle schedule works for you.
  • You can see how your choices impact your plan: When you weigh in, get measured, etc., and lining these evaluative tools up against what you are doing, you can see just how much or little your choices impact the result.
  • You will avoid plateaus: Many times people have great success with their weight only to find themselves on a plateau. If you record everything with 100% honesty, you can see what works and what doesn’t work

Self-monitoring tools that work

Now that you know the benefits, how exactly does self-monitoring work? Here are some very useful and practical tools that will provide you with valuable data to keep you heading the right direction.

Food/exercise diary

The foundation of any self-monitoring program begins with a food diary or log where you write down everything that you eat and your activity in a given day. Both of these things provide insight into what works best for you. If you are tracking things like calories, steps, etc.. do your best to include these. If you are a diabetic, it is useful to track carbohydrate consumption rather than calories.

Other interesting things to note include time of day, a few sentences about how you feel about an hour after eating or exercising. The things that you include in your diary should be predetermined so that you glean the best information possible to reach your health goals.

Top rated food and exercise diaries:

There are numerous ways to keep track of your food intake and fitness the old fashioned way. Here are two journals that will help you meet your goals.

This inexpensive food journal allows you to keep track of important things like water consumption, daily calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This book lays flat for easy recording and has room for up to five meals as day.

Keep track of your activity in this portable  journal that allows you to record your cardio, strength, daily goals and even some nutrition notes. With 60 pages, this little notebook is easy to slip into your gym bag and durable enough to take a beating.


Whether you like what you see or not, stepping on a reliable scale once a week may be just the thing that you stay motivated and even encouraged. Keep in mind that the scale is not your enemy, but rather a way to keep you informed. When you combine your food and activity log with your weight records, you can get a good picture of what is working and what is possibly getting in the way of your success.  For best results, use the same scale each week ( a reliable one) and be sure to weigh yourself at the same time each week.

Here are two scales that are both accurate and affordable:

Although this scale only costs $ 32.95 it scores big with over 12,000 positive reviews on Amazon. This scale offers instant readings, a large lit display, precision g sensors in .2 lb increments up to 440 pounds. The platform is durable and large and there is an auto calibrate feature and an auto shut off.

This scale measures not only body weight but also % body fat, % body water, % muscle mass and bone mass. Another nice feature of this scale is that it can store data for up to 8 users. These features make it well worth its $44.95 price tag.


Pedometers provide an accurate way to keep track of the steps that you take daily. These little devices are well worth the money you will spend which can average between $15 – $75 depending on just how fancy you want to go.

Although most people get about 3,000 steps per day, 6,000 steps are suggested for health maintenance. It is recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps if your objective is weight loss. Walking is a very low risk, safe and inexpensive way to stay in shape and keeping track of your steps will show you just how effective it is.

Here are two popular pedometer tools to choose from:

This top of the line fitness tool does a lot more than count your steps. You can monitor calories burned and even stairs climbed. In addition access data about how long and well you sleep, set your fitness goals and earn motivational badges to help you do your best. Sync your stats wirelessly on your computer or on over 150 smartphones.

The Yamax is an affordable tool that claims to be 98 to 99% accurate. You can track your steps, distance, stride, calories and fat burned using this low-cost pedometer. Other features include a 30-day memory and a clock.


If you want to take your tracking to a new level, consider an accelerometer. This device measures frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity. You can find these in a wide variety of prices from $50 to $1,000.


Technology can be an excellent thing when it comes to self-monitoring. If you prefer to use an app on your smartphone to keep track of your diet and exercise, there are plenty to choose from. What makes mobile apps so great is that they are always with you making it easy to keep track. Here are two top performers:

This little app is fabulous at helping you set your goals for weight loss and exercise. It even helps you track your blood pressure, sleep and more. This powerful program allows you to count calories, share favorite meals with friends and even scan food items using your camera and bar codes. One of the best features of this app is the ability it has for you to connect to accountability partners. Who doesn’t need a little motivation from time to time. Keeping track of your exercise and setting personal challenges is also included.

While the free version does plenty, the premium for just $39.99/year is loaded with awesome features such as informative content and tools to manage conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Some call this food, fitness, and overall health tracker one of the best free programs available. You can customize your weight loss and fitness goals, store your favorite food items and recipes, count not only calories but also micronutrients and find nutrition facts.You can access even more free tools at such as meal plans, free workout videos and the latest in health and wellness.

For just $29/year you can become a gold member. With this membership, you will have advanced statistics tools, a private community board, a clean eating guide with recipes and tips, priority customer support and more

It counts to pay attention

If you are serious about your health, it will serve you well to be serious about self-monitoring. Although it is unclear as to what extent of self-monitoring is best for optimal performance and compliance with healthy lifestyle plan, it is evident that there are many benefits to becoming more aware .

– Be Well



5 Proven Ways to Stay Positive Once Diagnosed With Diabetes

It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed after being diagnosed with diabetes, but there are proven ways to help you stay positive through it all.

Remember that you’re not alone

There are more than 380 million people around the world who have been diagnosed with diabetes – just knowing you’re not alone can help you stay positive.

Just small changes can bring big rewards

Small changes are the ones that often stick, and losing even just a few pounds while incorporating good habits like regular exercise can make a big difference in your blood sugar levels as well as improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Get support

With millions of people across the globe dealing with diabetes, there has been an explosion of online communities focused on dealing with the disease. You’ll find a wealth of forums and support groups designed for people just like you.

Connect with someone who has successfully managed diabetes

Try and find someone who has already been successful at managing their own diabetes you can meet up with for tips and other information on dealing with situations you might struggle with.

Track your progress

It takes time to chart what you eat, your physical activity, medications, and glucose, but it’s a great way to track your progress, keeping you more positive and motivated.

Most of all, keep an optimistic attitude, squash negative thinking  and be proactive. Everything will be ok!

-Be Well


Tips for Food Preparation and Recipe Modification

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one of the many things on your mind is likely to be, “What will I eat now? While you might think that having diabetes means giving up all your favorite foods and having to resort to bland, unappetizing dishes, fortunately, it doesn’t. These tips can allow you to enjoy eating while also taking care of your health.

Replace solid fats like butter or lard with a healthier liquid fat

People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing heart disease. In fact, three out of four diabetics die of some type of heart disease, and it’s been estimated that the risk for stroke is two to four times greater for diabetics than those that don’t have the disease. That means it’s important to limit less healthy fats, replacing them with “good” fats.

Saturated fats and trans fats are generally considered “bad,” because they increase the production of LDL cholesterol. They also cause plaque to form in the coronary arteries, narrowing them and forcing the heart to work harder than it should to pump blood, which raises the risk of stroke and heart attack. Some of the foods to avoid that contain them include things like lard, butter, and palm kernel oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the “good” fats, which help to rid the bloodstream of LDL cholesterol, lowering your risk of developing a blockage.

Some liquid fats, such as coconut oil and olive oil, are actually considered healthy. While coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it’s considered a beneficial saturated fat due to its lauric acid content which actually supports heart health.

Keep in mind that as some oils may impart a strong flavor, you may need to experiment a bit to find the right oil for a particular recipe.

Modify your cooking technique

Trying out some new cooking techniques can make it a lot easier to adhere to a diabetic-friendly diet. Think non-frying methods – instead of frying, try baking, broiling, grilling or roasting. Steam your vegetables in a minimal amount of water or an organic, low-sodium broth, or saute them in a little bit of olive oil for extra health benefits and flavor.

Use spices and herbs liberally

Instead of reaching for the salt, sugar or fat, try experimenting with various spices and herbs – many offer a wealth of health benefits in addition to adding flavor. Cinnamon, for example, has been found to help lower blood sugar levels. By using spices and herbs, you can often cut out salt, or at least reduce the amount used. If you really want a more salty taste, just sprinkle on a little after it’s already been cooked.

Limit the use of sugar and avoid artificial sweeteners

As you probably already know, sugar is a good way to raise your blood sugar. Oftentimes you can reduce the amount of sugar used in a recipe without significantly affecting its taste or texture. One exception is recipes that call for yeast as the yeast requires sugar in order for the end result to come out properly. In bread, for example, the sugar helps to feed the yeast that provides leavening.

Avoid using artificial sweeteners like aspartame as they may actually be even worse than actual sugar for diabetics, according to a number of studies. A study published in PLos One in 2012 showed that chronic lifetime exposure to aspartame produced changes in blood glucose parameters that adversely impacted spatial learning and memory in mice. It also decreased insulin sensitivity, as compared to controls.

Coconut sugar is a better alternative with a slight caramel taste. Considered a natural sweetener, it has a glycemic index of 35, and while making foods with it would not render them sugar-free, coconut sugar, which is made up of sucrose along with small amounts of fructose and sucrose, is considered acceptable due to the way it breaks down in the body. It can typically be used on a 1:1 basis in recipes. As it’s more coarse than white or brown sugar and a recipe calls for creaming butter with sugar, the result will have a more speckled look.

You don’t need to avoid all sugar, all of the time. You can enjoy some of your favorite treats, provided you plan properly and limit hidden sugars that are often found in processed and fast foods, including staples like cereals and bread, pasta sauce, frozen dinners, etc. Sugar may be listed in many different forms, but it’s all sugar: molasses, honey, agave nectar, corn sweetener, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, and many others. Play detective and learn to spot sugar on ingredient labels in all of its forms.

Desserts don’t need to be completely off limits as long as they’re a part of an overall healthy meal plan.

Invest in a few good kitchen tools

Cooking healthy meals is much easier when you have the right tools, such as sharp knives. Invest in a good chef’s knife as well as a small paring knife to make it easier to cut those fresh vegetables. A julienne peeler is cheap and great for slicing up vegetables like squash into pasta-like noodles. Having a large cutting board and quality cookware like a cast iron pan, can also making cooking at home lots easier.

Plan out your meals for the week

Having a plan is a great way to stay on track with your diet and also helps you to avoid shopping when you’re hungry. If you don’t have a plan and hunger kicks in without anything to turn to, you’ll be a lot more tempted to reach for anything that’s there, and often, that choice won’t be the best one.

Get in the habit of sitting down once a week, planning out your meals, making a list for the grocery store and then sticking to it. Before you go to the market, have a least something small to eat to make resisting temptations easier.

Keep your kitchen well-stocked

As we all know, life can get in the way of best-laid plans. If you can’t get to the grocery store for some reason, having some “emergency” foods in your freezer and pantry can be a lifesaver. Stock up on low-sodium canned foods (BPA-free cans preferably) as they have a long shelf-life and are typically very budget-friendly. Canned vegetables and beans are already cooked, so all you’ll have to do is open up the can and use them. If you buy canned fruit, avoid the type with added sugar.

While most fresh vegetables won’t keep for long, it’s important to eat as many as often as you can – you can never have enough when you’re following a healthy diet. One trick is to buy sturdy veggies that can last for at least a few days in the refrigerator before going bad. Some examples are broccoli, kale, bell peppers, mushrooms and celery. They all tend to hold up well, add lots of flavor and nutrition to meals, and are low in carbs too. Of course you’ll want to diversify by including plenty of others too, like sweet potatoes, beets and spinach. The more naturally colorful your diet (and we’re not talking Skittles), the better.

Better shopping at the grocery store

When you’re at the store, there are a number of things you can do in addition to eating before you go that can help you stick to your list. Use the smallest shopping cart or a basket, as you won’t have space for many extra items. Aim to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where there are more fresh, whole foods like produce, eggs, and poultry. Avoid packaged items as they tend to be unhealthy and highly processed – most are located in the aisles at the center of the store, with the exception of things like frozen fruits and vegetables.

Prep foods ahead of time

After you get home from the grocery store, start thinking about any of the prep you might be able to do ahead of time to make it easier and less time consuming to make healthy meals and snacks during the week. For example, you might slice up some celery or carrots into bite-size pieces so that you’ll have something to munch on instead of chips.

On the weekend or another day when you don’t have to go to work, consider cooking up meals in large batches, such as stews, casseroles, and soups that make multiple servings. You could double a recipe so that you have leftovers too, as most will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze them to be eaten later. Try some of these fabulous, make ahead recipes and stock your freezer with goodness.

-Be Well

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