Hey, Chicagoland runners!
HumanaVitality is the presenting sponsor of the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon this summer – a scenic half-marathon race that winds through the Windy City with live, local bands rocking out at every mile of the course.
And to top it off – we’re offering a discount on the race fee to HumanaVitality members. Check your most recent HumanaVitality email newsletter for the discount code. By offering access and discounts to some of the best and most fun races in the country, we’re hoping that getting and staying active will be more fun and affordable for our members. Whether you’re running the 13.1 miles or walking the 5k, we’re excited to see you at the race earning Vitality Points™ and having a blast doing it. If you don’t live in Chicago, maybe it’s time to schedule a healthy summer vacation with the family!
The annual race kicks off in beautiful Grant Park Sunday, July 21, 2013, featuring great music and a breathtaking tour of the city. After crossing the finish line, we hope you’ll join us with family and friends to celebrate your amazing accomplishment at the finish line festival and headliner concert.
Taking a vacation could be just about the most wonderful thing you can do for your health and overall well-being. Traveling – and even the common “stay-cations” – can help reduce stress, refresh your spirit, and clear your mind. Vacations can make you forget about the responsibilities of home or work (or both!) for a few days. It’s meant to be a time of relaxation.
This is why it is so surprising that some take this as an opportunity to chuck their healthy eating habits to the wind and indulge in foods and habits they would normally avoid. After all, you usually work hard to get in shape before going on vacation, so why change once you’re on the road?
Fortunately, you don’t have to. While the Internet may provide a dizzying array of articles and options for eating while traveling, here are a few of our seven favorite tips for travelin’ light:
1. Don’t underestimate the power of a snack cache. The folks at the security gate may have a problem with your over-sized water bottle boarding the plane with you, but they certainly won’t have a problem with some healthy granola or dried fruit. Skip soda on the plane, starving on a train, or gas-station fare altogether by traveling with your own healthy food choices. Just remember: Never try to eat while driving!
2. Grocery stores are your best friend. Where else can you rub elbows with the kind, intelligent local residents of the town you’re passing through than at the grocery store? If you find yourself without traveling food, skip the fast-food joint and find a place where you can pick up a healthier snack. If staying at a hotel, ask the concierge at check-in where the nearest grocery store is located, and verify you will have access to a refrigerator in your room. So long, expensive mini-bar!
3. If you must eat out… No one’s saying you shouldn’t go out to eat and enjoy yourself on your vacation; in fact that’s the point! But there are also a few healthy tweaks you can make to restaurant food without fearing the chef will quit because of your order. Steamed vegetables, egg whites, roasted potatoes, salad dressing on the side, no cheese, fish not cooked in butter, or an extra side of veggies are all easy substitutions that most restaurants will make.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking water is not only good for you, it also can help curb your appetite and flush toxins from your body as you drink. Pack a reusable water bottle and make good use of it.
5. Know the enemy. If you have a craving for sweets, touring several candy manufacturers or visiting the cookie capital of North America may just provide unwanted temptation. If you do plan these outings, arm yourself with some sweet but healthy munchies to calm your cravings.
6. Plan any special needs in advance. Whether it’s choosing a low-cal option on a flight, locating the nearest healthy food to your hotel, or even finding a hotel that offers low-calorie foods, taking control of your options at your destination definitely helps push you to make smarter choices.
7. Don’t beat yourself up. If you end up cheating with the snack bar or stuffing yourself with a jumbo burger one night, forgive yourself. Wake up the next morning and remind yourself that you are improving your life, and that you are a work in progress. Look to healthier choices the next day! It’s all about simple steps.
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. Image used under Creative Commons License from nattu
Do people even use cookie jars anymore? It’s not a question of it being a relic of a bygone era as much as it is cookies being so delicious that the act of removing them from the package without a disproportionate amount being eaten makes the act itself seem silly. Unfortunately those cookies can sometimes carry a disproportionate number of calories, fat, and sugar. Want a better solution? Make your own! You know what goes into them, you can keep the ingredients healthy, and you won’t feel guilty sneaking an extra one. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies (via EatingWell.com) Get the sweet spicy smell of the holidays in your kitchen any time of the year with these delicious pinwheels. One word of warning on this recipe is that it makes 90 cookies, so it’s perfect for bringing to office gatherings or pot-lucks! Calories per cookie: 54
2. Healthy Banana Cookies (via AllRecipes.com) Our guess is that this recipe came about as a result of someone wanting banana bread but didn’t have all of the ingredients. Well, it’s a good thing they improvised because the result is this awesome recipe for healthy (not to mention easy!) Banana Cookie recipe. Your family will go ape for these! Calories per cookie: 56
3. Chocolate Chickpea Protein Cookies (via Fitsugar.com) These can be made with or without chocolate chips and are loaded with protein. As strange as it may seem to toss garbanzos into your old favorite, the fiber boost is worth giving it a shot. Calories per cookie: 120
4. Almond Butter Snickerdoodles (via MyRecipes.com) Almond Butter has been around forever, but seems to be enjoying some newfound popularity. This is a great thing as we’ve seen quite some creative uses of this yummy ingredient, and these ‘doodles are a perfect example. So tasty and so good for you. Calories per cookie: 104
5. Revamped Girl Scout Cookies: Vegan Peanut Butter Patties (via Fitsugar) If you’re a vegan who has been forever envious of your Girl Scout Cookie-toting friends, it’s your time to shine with this recipe. Make a batch and share these with pals, then surprise them with how healthy they are! Calories per cookie: 177
6. Pop Tart Babies (via ChocolateCoveredKatie.com) Ok, so they’re technically not “cookies,” but they are still delicious, healthy, and taste amazing, and that’s all that matters, right? You can make a bite-sized version (“Babies”) or the full-blown toaster tart version of this recipe for a tastier tart treat. The flaky crust and the gooey filling make these just amazing. Calories per cookie: 29
These are just a few favorites to suit a variety of tastes, there are a million more out there, so let’s hear about your favorite in the comments!
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. Image used under Creative Commons License from Compujeramey
Grocery shopping can be a weekly challenge for families trying to eat healthy. However, savvy grocery shopping is a crucial first step in avoiding unhealthy processed foods. As you stock up on groceries for your family, we encourage you to keep these helpful tips from HumanaVitality and the Meal Makeover Moms in mind:
• Shop with the USDA’s new “MyPlate” (http://www.choosemyplate.gov) food guidance icon in mind
• Fill your cart with:
- Whole grains (at least half of your grains should be whole grains)
- Fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat dairy foods
- Lean protein foods including eggs, chicken, pork and lamb, lean beef, seafood, turkey, tofu and beans
• Track down nutritious ingredients you can use to make healthier after-school snacks, such as:
- Apple slices dipped in peanut butter
- A yogurt parfait made with layers of low-fat yogurt, sliced fruit and whole grain granola cereal
- Homemade trail mix made with dried fruit, nuts, whole wheat mini pretzels, popcorn and a few dark chocolate chips
- A fruit smoothie made with 100% fruit juice, low-fat vanilla or fruited yogurt, frozen berries and ripe bananas
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. Tips provided by Meal Makeover Moms in partnership with HumanaVitality
How many times do you have to do something before it becomes a habit? For most people, doing something three times per week, over a period of at least 6 weeks, is usually enough to get into a habit. In light of this, we wanted to share 10 different habits you can do three times per week (30 actions), for a life of wellness.
1. Walk – The CDC estimates one hour of walking at 3.5 MPH burns 280 calories. Fast walker? Walking at 4.5 MPH for an hour can burn up to 460 calories. Also, since 10,000 steps are about 3-5 miles, walking is a really simple way to earn Vitality Points. Grab your pedometer and go!
2. Hike – At a whopping 370-calorie burn per hour, hiking tops the CDC’s list for “common” activities that burn big calories.
3. Smile – Besides just making you feel happy, psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas recently conducted a study that found individuals who smile while doing activities had lower heart rates afterward than those who did not.
4. Laugh – It feels good to laugh. And, according to WebMD, it can even be like a mild workout. Drop and give me 20 seconds of laughter!
5. Travel – Stop saying, “Someday I’ll travel to Paris,” and make a plan to make it happen. You’ll be amazed at the positive impact just planning a trip can have on your happiness.
6. Read – You’ve got to make time to exercise your mind as well as your body, so make sure you’re stepping through a book when you’re not stepping through your neighborhood.
7. Dance – Did someone say Zumba®? Aside from being a whole lot of fun, dancing activities like Zumba burn 330 calories per hour according to the CDC. Don’t forget your heart rate monitor or pedometer to earn Vitality Points!
8. Bike – Did you know that biking 10 miles in less than one hour burns 590 calories? Even if you’re a slower rider, you can burn nearly 290 calories in just 60 minutes!
9. Swim– Rope off 30 minutes of your day to dedicate to swimming laps, and you’ll wash away 255 calories. Move up to an hour and you’ll dive over the 500 calorie mark.
10. Sleep – After the active day you’ve had, make sure you get enough shut-eye to tackle your healthy life again tomorrow. The New York Times just posted the results of a study that found adults who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for weight gain.
Are there any healthy habits you would add to this list? Have your say in the comments below!
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. Image used under Creative Commons License from USDAgov.
We can admit it; we’re addicted to our fitness devices. We love how portable they are, but there’s more to our love than just that. We’re in love with the data we can glean from them because it allows us to adjust our daily habits in ways that are good for us.
More importantly, we know that if we’re in a situation where we can’t eat as healthy as we’d like (friends picked the restaurant…again!) we know what we need to accomplish to work it off. French Fries instead of brown rice? Looks like it’s either the stairs or a long walk at lunch today.
Your healthy lifestyle must be adaptable. Keeping track of your physical activity with a pedometer or other tool that measures your progress is important because it not only helps you achieve your goals and earn Vitality Points, but it can also move you toward smaller, more achievable goals without getting discouraged.
For example, for HumanaVitality members, 10,000 steps in a day counts as a verified workout. If you get to 10,000 steps per day, you can earn up to 140 Vitality Points per week! Say you take 8,000 steps on Monday, it’s pretty likely you can take8,100 steps on Tuesday. Increase your activity by just 100 steps every day and you can quickly reach an average of 10,000 steps per day. Now that’s what we call an active lifestyle!
In your mind, you’re proud of what you’ve done. But how do you share that moment to help inspire others and show them how hard you have worked? This is where the personal analytics of a wireless tracker is a great tool. When you look at the results charts, like the one below, both you and your friends can see definite progress, which kinda makes you want to make greater progress, doesn’t it?
It’s the small steps that make the difference between a healthy diet (short-term) and a healthy lifestyle. (forever!) So toss your fitness device in your pocket and tie your sneakers, it’s time to show your personal analytics chart whose boss.
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. Photo Credit: Playerx, Creative Commons
Easter may be over, but there’s no reason to let that basket full of colorfully-painted eggs go to waste. Before tossing them in the trash, consider using leftover eggs to make a guilt-free egg salad! Easy recipe changes such as swapping regular mayonnaise with a fat free alternative can make your egg salad healthier (and still stay yummy!). Try adding shredded carrots and celery, too, to pack your egg salad with more vitamins and a delightful crunch.
Here’s how to get started:
In a small bowl, soak the onions in cold water for 15 minutes. Drain.
Place the eggs in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and fill with cold water until the water is about 1 inch over the egg. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover the eggs again, remove from heat and set aside for 8 minutes. Drain the water from the pan and cool the eggs in the pan under cold running water. Peel the eggs and cut into sixths.
In a large bowl, mix together the onion, celery, mayonnaise, dill, mustard, lemon juice and salt.
Add the eggs to the mayonnaise mixture and gently mix them together. Season the mixture with pepper to taste. Use in sandwiches, with lettuce and tomatoes, or in a salad.
Per Serving: Calories: 216; Total Fat: 18 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 10 grams; Total Carbohydrates: 2 grams; Sugar: 1 gram; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 284 milligrams; Sodium: 771 milligrams
After making this egg salad, you’ll not only feel good about eating healthier, you’ll also feel a sense of satisfaction knowing you put your leftover Easter eggs to good use.
We know we’re not supposed to do it, but sometimes we still do it anyway. Come on, you know you’ve done it. Insomnia strikes and you end up in the refrigerator searching for a late night snack. You know that healthy habits are made by staying strong, even when no one is watching. But the kids’ leftover birthday cake is looking mighty tasty. No one would ever have to know…
Hold it right there! Get it together. A healthy lifestyle is made by a series of small decisions; it’s not one potato-chip-bag-sized problem keeping you from your healthy goals, it’s hundreds of small “sneaks” adding up to bigger “cheats.”
Here are eight healthier alternatives we love that are quick, but will help you say sayonara to diet-wrecking sneaks:
These are just a few of our favorites to cease the late-night stomach growl. What are some of your recommendations for late-night healthy snacking? Share them in the comments so we can all learn new ideas to avoid sneaks!
This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes. Image used under Creative Commons License from Magic Madzik.