Tag Archives: health

Tools That Will Help You Meet Your Health and Fitness Goals

I was introduced to Oscar Insurance, a health insurance provider in New Jersey and New York, to write a post about tools that help me reach my health and fitness goals. Oscar recently started providing their members with Misfit bands to help them reach fitness goals. According to the Oscar Health Insurance website, “Sync with the Oscar app to count your steps and earn $1 when you hit your daily goal. We’ll personalize your goal to keep you moving. You can get up to $240 each year just for being active.” Pretty cool, right?

I thought the post was a good fit for Brown is the New Pink. I always appreciate recommendations for new apps and anything that can help me stay on track to reach my goals, and I hope that y’all will too.

Let’s start off with tools that I use . . .

RunKeeper (App)

RunKeeper is a great app for my fellow runners, walkers, or cyclists. I’ve been in the gym more as of late due to the insanely cold weather (I live in the South; what is this single digit temperatures business?!?), but I use this app when I run outside. It’s a GPS fitness tracker that measures your pace, distance, and time. The app will actually let you know your pace and distance every 5 minutes during the run, which is great if you’re aiming for a certain speed. The GPS feature also makes it so that you can turn any activity into a route to do again later.

RunKeeper tracks performance over time and notifies you of new personal “bests” and milestones. You can make detailed running plans or goals such as running 3x per week. It will send you friendly (and sometimes passive-aggressive) reminders to run. I got this same message below once, and it cracked me up. Nothing like my phone giving me a guilt trip.

MyFitnessPal (App/Website)

This app/website is perfect for tracking what you eat. MFP estimates your daily calorie need and can be used to track both intake and burning of calories. It can actually sync with other apps like RunKeeper to track calories burned during exercise.

MFP is easy to use and simply involves inputing what you eat. There is a HUGE database of foods to choose from. You can break it down by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, which is helpful for seeing what time of day you may be struggling with healthy eating choices. I can tell from mine that afternoon snacking is my toughest time of day. You can also group foods together to make meals to make your tracking easier. For example, I have a small rotation of breakfasts that I saved as meals instead of entering each individual item every time. Finally, my favorite feature is the macro breakdown. You can set specific nutrition goals based on diets recommended by your doctor or nutritionist. I’m starting to look at my macro nutrient breakdown more than my calories, as it is often more nutritionally telling for me.

Garmin Forerunner 10 (Watch)

The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a simple (and cute) GPS watch. Similar to the RunKeeper app it tracks distance, speed/pace and calories. I prefer my watch to RunKeeper for longer runs so that I don’t necessarily have to lug my phone around. The watch also identifies your personal records such as fastest mile/5k and longest distance. One of my favorite features is that it automatically alerts you with a beep and displays your pace when you complete each mile. The watch also has virtual pacer and walk/run features if you’re looking to run at a specific pace or starting out with a mix of running and walking intervals, respectively. The coolest thing about this watch is that you can  upload your runs to Garmin Connect to see your run on a map and get more detail on each mile. It even includes elevation, which is perfect if your training for a hilly race.

IMG_0416

Now onto a few tools I’d like to try . . .

Fitbit (Activity Tracker)

If you haven’t already seen this, Fitbit is a wearable activity tracker. During the day it tracks steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes. At night it tracks sleep. One of the coolest things about Fitbit is that it wirelessly syncs with most mobile devices and apps, including RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. I would be really curious to see my steps, distance, and flights of stairs measured. I’m running around the hospital all day visiting patients, and it would be neat to see stats on my daily activity at work.

I got my dad a Fitbit for his birthday, and he liked it so much that he got my mom one for Christmas. Let me just tell you, my mom is definitely motivated to meet her activity goals. On more than one occasion I caught her walking in circles around the house trying to meet her step goals for the day. Haha!

Fitocracy (App)

Fitocracy is an app/website that can be used to track exercises at the gym. You can create workout plans or if your like me and need some guidance there are pre-made workouts that you can follow. Apparently the app also uses “gamification” to motivate users by assigning points based on the fitness benefits of each activity tracked. Gaining enough points helps you to “level up.” I don’t fully under stand the gaming part of the app, but I’m definitely curious and want to check it out.

*For the sake of transparency, I did not receive any gifts, money, or any other type of compensation for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Reader question: Are there any apps or tools that help you reach your fitness or health goals? I’d love to explore some new ones!

 

I Bet I’m Ice Cream {Fun Friday}

Happy Friday!! We made it y’all.

It’s been a while since my last Fun Friday post, so I thought I’d share a few pictures, videos, and stories that made me laugh or smile this week. Enjoy!


I’ll kick things off with a sweet dog who just can’t figure out where that squeaky noise is coming from.

With every squeak she just looks like, “What was that?! Oh well, back to frolicking in the snow.”

I have some good news for the optimists out there. According to a recent study by lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, optimistic people have healthier hearts. The study showed optimists were “50 and 76 percent more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges, respectively.” The association remained significant even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.

Here’s to seeing the glass half full!

Moving on to a completely different, but health-related story, I want to share a short article by Elaine Ambrose entitled “Don’t Fart During an MRI.”  I don’t think this one needs much explaining. Just read it.

I’ll close out this week’s edition of Fun Friday with an excellent prank video.

How low can you go?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Health Equity {Social Justice Issue}

I am FINALLY posting another piece in my social justice series. I love social justice posts, but they take longer to write than most of my posts. If you haven’t read Food Deserts and Swamps yet, read this one first. This post provides a broad overview of the relationship between social justice and health. It helps explain my perspective on health and well-being, and sets the stage for future social justice posts.


Health Equity

What is health equity? 

Healthy People 2020 defines health equity as “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”

Health Equity

What is the difference between health equity and equality? 

Health equality focuses on fairness and involves equal distribution of health-related resources to all people regardless of pre-existing differences. Health equity focuses on people attaining the same optimal level of health, which often means that some people get more assistance or resources than others. Particular attention is paid to groups that have experienced major obstacles to health associated with being socially or economically disadvantaged. The image below is helpful for understanding the difference between the two.

equity

Source: theequityline.org

Unlike health equality, a health equity approach acknowledges that some individuals have a better chance of attaining optimal health than others. Therefore, the goal of health equity is to level the playing field so that everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy. An essential component of leveling the playing field and ultimately eradicating health disparities is addressing social determinants of health.

What are social determinants of health? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), social determinants of health are “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.”

In simpler terms, social determinants of health include a person’s

  • socioeconomic status,
  • neighborhood,
  • employment conditions,
  • education,
  • access to healthcare,
  • race,
  • ethnicity,
  • sexual orientation,
  • gender,
  • and personal behaviors.

The video below illustrates social determinants of health by using “Chad” and “Jeff” as examples.

For another example, as I pointed out in my last social justice post on food desserts and swamps, people who live in low income neighborhoods or communities are less likely to have access to affordable and nutritious food. And as we all know, a healthy diet is absolutely essential for overall health.

Why does health equity matter?

Health is a basic human right, and it affects every part of our lives. While some factors of health are beyond human influence, we have the power to address the social injustices that lead to health disparities. By building on individuals’ strengths and mitigating the effects of social and economic disadvantages, we can work towards equal opportunity for optimal health and well-being.

Resources and Additional Information

Healthy People 2020

WHO – Social Determinants of Health

Anything For Love {Fun Friday}

First of all, I apologize for posting late this week. Our wedding pictures finally came in the mail yesterday, so I spent the afternoon working on an online gallery for them instead of finishing my fun Friday post. The pictures are fantastic! We had a blast re-living our wedding day when we looked at them. I will be working on a few wedding recap posts to share on BNP soon. Anyway, on to some videos, pictures, and stories that made me laugh or smile this week!

First up this week is a video about what it’s like to be out of shape at the gym (aka my experience right now).

I’m also motivated by tacos, so I can relate. 🙂 Next up is a sweet video that I saw about what one woman’s friends did to show their support while she undergoes cancer treatment.

 

What an extraordinary group of women! If you are looking for more sources of inspiration, I also found a link to the 22 best TED talks for fitness, health, and happiness inspiration. I’m a fan of TED talks, and I’ve seen a handful of the ones on that list. If you only have time to watch one, I recommend 16. Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability. Brené Brown is a social work researcher and a wonderful speaker. Her message is one that everyone needs to hear over and over.

Finally, I’ll end with two videos that made me laugh. The first is an old Sprite commercial.

I always think about how weird it would be if mascots actually talked to you. I love the dog’s reaction. 🙂 That commercial somehow led me to these Japanese McDonald’s commercials, which are insanely creepy but also funny.

What in the world?? Commercials from other countries are always entertaining.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to smile and laugh!

These Are My Confessions . . .

Don’t worry. I’m not going to break out in song. I’ll leave that to Usher. I will, however, confess to some not-so-healthy habits I developed over the past few months.

I’m going to cut myself some slack because my life has been crazy. Some things were bound to slip through the cracks, but now it’s time to make health a priority again.
These are my confessions . . .

 

I haven’t been eating enough whole foods

When I get really busy and stressed I tend to eat out more and buy super quick, easy dinners like frozen pizza. I believe that everything is fine in moderation, but frequently eating that way leaves me feeling “blah.” I feel my best when I eat nutritious foods.

 

I have only been exercising once or twice per week, if that.

For me, exercising is just as important to my mental health as it is to my physical health. A good workout can completely change my mood for the better, and it leaves me feeling stronger and calmer. I especially miss the feeling of finishing a solid run.

 

I’m often an all-or-nothing thinker when it comes to health.

One of my strengths is that I put my all into everything I do. However, this occasionally works against me. In an ideal world I would always eat nutritious meals, exercise at least 5 days/week, and practice mindfulness daily. Let’s be real though– that’s not going to happen. I struggle with recognizing that it is absolutely still worth it to try and keep going even though I will not do it perfectly. This type of thinking has been holding me back lately because I keep waiting for the “right time” to get back to a healthier lifestyle. I know that the graduation celebrations and a vacation I have coming up may interfere with my plans to be healthier, so I keep think it’s best to delay starting. In reality, the best time to get healthier is now! Rather than viewing a missed workout or eating a donut as failure, I need to see it as a slip and move on. After all, a healthy lifestyle is all about moderation.

 

So, what am I going to do about these confessions?

  • Eat more whole foods. For my next weekly meal plan I’m going to incorporate as many whole foods as I can. I’m out of school right now, so I have plenty of time to cook, and I can’t wait to try out some new recipes and share them. I’m also going to record a few full days of food on Brown is the New Pink to hold myself accountable.
  • Exercise more. I want to come up with some exercise goals, and I’m going to start sharing a weekly workout recap on Sundays.
  • Identify my all-or-nothing thinking and come up with alternative thoughts. This is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique that I’m going to try out. I’m going to write down any all-or-nothing thoughts that I have and then come up with a better thought to replace it. I’ll share that on here as well.
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