Posts Tagged ‘Sawtell’

Glen Barnett discusses Stomach Exercises

July 19, 2016

flat stomach
One of the most common questions Personal Trainers are asked is how to get a flat stomach.  One of the most common exercise mistakes people make in trying to get a flat stomach, is to do situps.  To flatten your stomach you need to really pay attention to what types of food you eat and how much, do some cardio exercise that gets you huffy and puffy and do a variety of core exercise.  Here are just a few examples:

Ride an imaginary bike while lying on your back. It can be a challenging exercise but will activate your deep core muscles.  Remember to start with lifting up your pelvic floor first, then drawing your lower stomach muscles in firmly. Bend your knees and lift your feet one at a time off the floor.  Now start ‘cycling’ your legs  at a moderate pace. Key point is to keep you back on the ground.

Then  to strengthen the muscles in your lower back start by lying on your stomach, lift your pelvic floor and draw your lower stomach muscles in. Then stretch your arms out in front of you, raise your head, then one arm and opposite leg, about 2cms off the floor. Lower and repeat on the opposite side. If you need to make it easier,  then just lift either the arm or just the leg.

 Side bends will help strengthen the muscles that run along the side of your torso and those muscles that help you with rotating.  Standing firmly on both feet, again lift your pelvic floor and draw your lower stomach muscles in firmly. Let your arms hang down each side then lean over to the side as if reaching sideways toward the floor. Add some extra resistance by holding onto something that weighs a few kgs.  Try not to lean forward and definitely keep both feet flat on the floor.

 

With the above exercises, keep breathing, a steady pace and continue for 30 seconds.  Rest then repeat.

 

If you’d like a free session at Coffs Coast Health Club give Glen or Jacqui a call on 66586222.

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Glen Barnett discusses the Hamstring Muscles

May 24, 2016

Hamstrings-text-3
Forget the Brazilian Butt Lift to keep the back of your legs and your butt toned – try this effective hamstring exercise to keep gravity at bay.   Your hamstring muscles are the ones at the back of the upper leg.  They play a really important role in your core stability and knee stability.  So how do you get them stronger and more toned?   Firstly, if you have any knee or lower back problems check in with your physio or personal trainer before doing this exercise.

Level 1

Lay on the ground, with your feet about hip width apart. Now step your feet further away from your body so your legs are almost straight.  Pull your toes back so your heels are digging into the ground.  Lift your pelvic floor, draw your belly in and tighten your butt as you lift your hips off the ground then return them part way down.  That’s one repetition.

Increase your pace as you do 8 more then control your movement as you slowly lift one leg and foot upward at a time as if you were slowly walking.  Do about 6 then go back to the quick butt lifts.  Try doing the quick butt lifts alternating with the slow walking for about 1 minute. Have a break for 30 seconds and try another 1 minute set. Repeat.

Level 2

Now to make it harder, place your feet on a stable chair (one that doesn’t slide away from you) and do the same format or even harder…

Level 3

Place your legs on a fit ball.  The fit ball of course is very unstable so the idea is to keep it a still as possible as you do the exercise.  Feel your hamstrings sing!

Call Glen or Jacqui on 66586222 for more information.

 

 

 

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Incidental Activity

February 16, 2016

tuesday
Do you know if we all just moved more , then we would be slimmer, fitter, less stressed and more confident.  Did you know that if you just did 30 minutes of activity a day, even if you break that activity down into 3 ten minute blocks you would be slimmer, fitter, less stressed and more confident.

So to do that all you need to do is to get smart and add some movement incidentally into your life. For instance use the stairs not the elevator or escalator. Park further from work or the shops so you can get a few minutes walk to and from your destination.  Take your grocery bags in to your house,  one bag at a time to make more trips.  Hand wash your car instead of using the drive through so you burn up more energy.  Walk your dog twice a day and watch him benefit as well.  If you arrive early for an appointment, go for a walk around the block rather than sitting and reading magazines in the waiting room.
All this extra movement will add up and after a couple of weeks you will notice the benefits.  Let’s see how you rate with your incidental activities.

Give yourself a point for each time during last week you did the following:
Used the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator (1 point)
Took your grocery bags into your house one at a time (1 point per bag)
Parked the car further from the shops and walked (2 points)
Walked around the block because you were early for an  appointment (2 points)
Hand washed the car (2 points)
Walked your dog twice a day (2 points)
Went for a walk with a friend rather than sat and had coffee. (3 points)

So let’s say each point equalled 5 minutes and you did each of the above suggested incidental activities last week.  You added 65 minutes of extra activity into your week.  Minutes you didn’t really even have to think about. Minutes that have boosted your metabolism and decreased your stress.  Minutes that will make a big difference to you long term, if you do them regularly.

Now all you have to do is work out how you can get 30 of those minutes, or 3 lots of 10 minute blocks, into your day to be making the biggest difference to your  health and long term longevity.

On the flip side you can see how when we become more sedentary and take these movement opportunities out of our days, weeks and lives, we become fatter, lazier and stressed.  Thank goodness those of you who read this article think smart and are always on the lookout to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
So get smart and give Glen or Jacqui a call at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 for a free activity session or chat.

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Top 10 Health Tips (Part Two)

November 18, 2014

laughter_600x450I hope you got a lot out of my Top 4 health and fitness tips from last week.  Here are my other top 6 tips. They may not all be your cup of tea but they are worth pondering to see if they can make a difference in your world, or may make a difference to someone you know who needs a bit of help,  a good kick in the butt or a wake up call.

Exercise your mind – it’s a muscle too.
Exercise those neural pathways and learn something new
Overcome frustration when you’re surfing the net, posting on Face Book, Twittering or even checking you email in box – your brain enjoys the challenge.
If you haven’t explored or haven’t a clue what I’m talking about in that previous point then enrol in a computer course today.
Don’t forget good old crosswords, Sudoku and scrabble to keep your brain from atrophying.

Get Educated and take control of what is going on for you.
Got a health issue?  Understand it so you can be the final decision maker in any treatment that you need rather than being lead along a blinkered path.
Ask questions.
Get clarification.

Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do and then build on them.  Things may seem tough and get you down but take this into consideration:
Remember there’s always someone worse off than you that wishes they could do what you can do, so cherish the things you can do.

Choose your attitude – you can choose to have a bad day or you can choose to have great day.
Having a bad day? Someone else is having a worse one.
Choosing to have a good day could be the simple choice of wearing a frown or a smile.

Dance, laugh and sing regularly and feel those endorphins flood your soul.
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing (or dancing, or singing).”
Give It a try – you want regret it.

Make sure every day when you leave your house you have remembered the most important but often forgotten thing to wear – your smile.
Wear a smile and have friends, wear a frown and have wrinkles.
We would love to see you down at Coffs Coast Health Club so why not give Glen a call on 66586222 and come on in for a free class or session.

Coffs Coast Health Club eNews – September 2014

September 2, 2014

landscape.burst“Empowering the Coffs Coast to be the happiest & healthiest community in Australia”
#strongertogether   #fitnessnfun   #coffscoasthealthclub

Exclusive Worlds Best Health Supplements HAVE ARRIVED!

nanos overview

Our quest to find the healthiest all natural supplements on the planet took us overseas earlier this year and it may have taken us six months to organise it but finally they have arrived. We tasted and researched over 100 different products before we decided who we would align our brand with. We are now pleased to announce that we hold the exclusive license on the Coffs Coast for the Nano range of products from BioPharma Scientific.
 
Their patented SuperSorb® delivery system allows your body to absorb the maximum amount of the nutritional value for better results, guaranteed. In addition, all of their products are non-GMO, organic, and 100% plant based with absolutely zero synthetic ingredients. They are based on new, scientifically-advanced, physician grade formulas with the highest quality ingredients sourced from the cleanest parts of the world.

Let’s just say their 
shaker
products do all the talking for themselves.

BioPharmaSc’s four most popular products are NanoGreens, NanoProtein, NanoEPA Fish Oil and NanoLean. They can now be purchased through reception individually or as a four pack for 5% OFF.
 
Did you know? Each serve of NanoGreens has the equivalent of 10 serves of organic fruit and vegetables! Have a chat to your trainer about which products are most appropriate for your needs.
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member appreciation day

Member Appreciation Day Was Fantastic!

Thank you to everyone that participated last month on Member Appreciation Day. The classes, the events, the offers & the atmosphere around the club was amazing.

We still have a number of Foundation Member gifts for collection at reception,
so if you were a member on 31st October 2009 & are still a member now, please see the reception team to collect your gift.

The feedback was so positive on the day that we will be making it an annual event.
Days like this are a true testament to the quality of our Coffs Coast Health Club community.

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Last 2014 Personal Trainer Course STARTING SOON!

AIPT_Approved-Mentor_Personal-Trainer

The Australian Institute of Personal Trainers is proud to introduce their NEW Certificate IV in Fitness – Complete Personal Trainer and Diploma of Business qualifications package.
 

Fast Track Oct 2014

Start a career as a Personal Trainer and gain the necessary skills to run and manage your own successful fitness business.
 
The Certificate IV in Fitness – Complete Personal Trainer qualification will allow you to gain hands-on practical experience while being able to complete the theory component online and in your own time.
 
As part of your qualification package, you will also complete the Diploma of Business building on the units you completed within your Certificate IV in Fitness and will help you to develop your skills across a wide range of business functions including managing your own business through to being a program coordinator or business manager within a larger business.
 
The Diploma of Business is VET FEE-HELP* approved, so you can study now and pay later – with no time lost!
 
Contact Tracy Welsh, your local campus manager directly on 0429 695 096 for further information.
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Short Term Workout Options for Friends & Family!

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Do you have friends or family that are in town during the school holidays? Would you like to save them some money & get them working out with you? Well due to popular demand we are now offering some short term workout options for them…
 
Single Visit – adult only $15, student or baby boomer only $10, incl access during all supervised hours
Week Pass – adult only $29, student or baby boomer only $19, incl access during all supervised hours
 
See reception or call 6658 6222 to take advantage of these offers for a limited time.
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Kids Club at FIA World Rally Championship!

kids club horizontal

The FIA World Rally Championship is coming to Coffs Harbour and Coffs Coast Kids Club will be in the Kids Zone which is part of the FREE fanzone site at the Coffs International Stadium. 
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Among all of the awesome rally events there will also be Kids Yoga and Kids Zumba taking place, Smurfs to play with and lots of Coffs Coast Health Club balloons being given out.  
Saturday: KIDS ZUMBA at 11.30am, KIDS YOGA at 12.15pm,
KIDS ZUMBA at 1.00pm & KIDS YOGA at 1.45pm.
Sunday: KIDS ZUMBA at 11.30am & KIDS YOGA at 12.30pm.
Come along, say hi & have some fun!
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Attack that Summer swimsuit!

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Spring is the perfect time to work on your health and fitness as the warmer weather gets you motivated and inspired to get on track before summer. 
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Why not try a class that is guaranteed to get you fitter, stronger, leaner and healthier? 
 
ATTACK is the high energy sports inspired cardio class that builds strength and stamina and it is on our timetable on Wednesdays at 6.30pm, Thursdays at 9.30am, Fridays at 5.30pm and Saturdays at 8.30am. 
 
There are options to suit everyone so that you can work within your limits and succeed. Give it a try today!
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Help Simone Ride To Conquer Cancer!

simone 2Please help our very own Weight Loss Coach, Childminder & Personal Trainer Simone raise funds for her Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 200 km ride over 2 days, with funds benefiting Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Cancer Research at RPA

 
There will be a delicious 2 course lunch and a silent auction to assist with getting Simone to the start line.
This will be held on Saturday 20th 

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September from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at Surf Club Restaurant & Bar. The cost is only $35 per head and with some great lucky door prizes and raffle tickets on offer. It will be a fun event!
 
We are asking everyone to bring something “new” for the silent auction table. You can bring more than one thing if you like, but we’ll have everything set up on the deck for bidding to take place. All items will start at a reserve price of $10.  
 
If you can’t make it to the lunch, please visit her fund-raising page here & donate any amount as it all helps.

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Pilates Is Here!

Personal Training compress

Join in a 12 week Classical Pilates Group Class with a modern twist and reap the rewards.
Pilates dramatically transforms the way your body looks, feels and performs. Give Jacqui 30 minutes of your time once a week and she will
give you the tools to help you build your strength without bulk, make you more aware of your body than you have ever been, improve your posture,
your grace, your flexibility and flatten your stomach in 12 weeks.
$20 a week will be money worth spent to learn valuable mind and body skills that will last you a lifetime.
First class is FREE.

When:     Starts Wed 3rd September

Pilates (1) 2

Time:      10.00am – 10.30am

Where:    Upstairs Circuit & Boxing Studio

Cost:        $20/week

Register:  Reception on 6658 6222 or Jacqui directly on 0421 971 155 or via jacqui@coffscoasthc.com.au but be quick as there are only 7 spots available.

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12 Week Body Makeover Challenge!

12 week makeover

From just $20 a week, Healthy Inspirations are offering you the opportunity to transform yourself before Summer. Reveal the new summer you by taking part in our Body Makeover Challenge.
 
Here are the top 5 reasons to join the challenge:
1.  Lose up to 12kgs
2.  Easy No Hunger Reset Program
3.  Get Accountability with One on One or Group Body Makeover Coaching
4.  Summer is only 12 weeks away
5.  The winner receives a Total Makeover to complete the transformation
 
When:       Starts Monday 1st September
                 Ends Sunday 30th November
Register:   Call or drop in to see Simone 0402 202 864 or Leslie 0423 284 421 in the Healthy Inspirations office
 
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Kids School Holiday Massage Sessions!

Massage Therapy

Book your kids into our School Holiday Massage Sessions, so they can learn the basics of massage while you have your workout. Research shows that children that practice massage become calmer, more concentrated and less 

kids massage

aggressive – what more could you ask for during the holidays?
 
When:       Monday 22nd September 5.30-6.30pm and/or
                 Thursday 25th September 9.30-10.30am
Cost:         $10 per child plus $5 if accompanied by a parent
Age:          6-12 years
Register:   Call reception on 6658 6222 or drop in to see Angela 0417 675 319 in the Upstairs Massage Room.
 
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Personal Trainer Traineeship NOW AVAILABLE!

emily

Yes its that time already… Our wonderful Director of First Impressions
Emily Hodgens will be leaving our frontline soon to continue her study at University. 
 
This means that we will be once again giving one lucky person the opportunity to become a Personal Trainer and gain twelve months work experience in
the regions most awarded health club.
 
We accept applications from anyone of any age with any background, as long as they have a wonderful work ethic and a desire to service our magnificent members. 
 
If you or anyone you know is interested in this exciting career opportunity,
please forward this email to them, get them to complete the application form here & drop
it in to reception before Sunday 7th September.
 
 
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SAVE THIS DATE! Friday 28th November – Members & Guest Christmas Party!

imagesClick here for more information on membership, personal training, weight loss, massage therapy, rehabilitation, group exercise, childminding, privileges card & fitness careers or call us on 6658 6222 for more help.

Invite your friends for a FREE TRIAL & grab yourself a new training buddy!

 

Sincerely,

Your CCHC Team

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Coffs Coast Health Club talks about Lunch Box Nutrition

February 9, 2012
Lunch box nutritionHealthy, no-fuss lunches

Lunch box nutrition

Pack a school lunch with a healthy punch for your kids with these healthy lunch box tips and lunch recipes that beat cheese and vegemite sandwiches any day.

Making lunch every day of the school year can be tiresome for mothers (and kids) so remember to mix up your menus and keep trying out fresh ideas to keep your child interested in the healthy treats you’re tucking inside their lunch box.

Sandwiches can get very boring, but you can mix things up by using lebanese bread, wraps, rice cakes, English muffins, crispbreads and cracker biscuits with a mix of nutritious fillings. Why not try:

  • A sliced boiled egg wrapped in cling wrap along with some lettuce leaves to build your sandwich when you are ready to eat it
  • Leftover roast meat with grated carrot, chopped lettuce and chutney or tomato sauce
  • Grated cheese and chopped celery, or carrot
  • Cream cheese and sultanas

 

Healthy lunch box idea: Corn pikelets recipe

These wholemeal corn pikelets will jazz up any lunch box.  Whether they’re for recess or the main event, these fibre-rich pikelets taste great, and give children the energy they need to power through the school day.

These corn pikelets are great for breakfast or just anytime you need a nutritious snack. You can triple the batch and freeze some for later.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • butter to fry and spread

Method:

In a bowl, whisk together flour, egg and milk to make a batter.

Stir in corn kernels.

Heat frying pan and add 2 teaspoons of butter. When sizzling, drop in tablespoons of mixture.

Turn over and cook the other side.

Spread with butter.

Notes

  • This batter is best used straight away.
  • You can make a larger batch of these and freeze them for later.
  • I tried using margarine to spread on these and I have to say that the butter tasted so much better.
  • For a sweeter taste add 2 tsp of honey. Reduce the milk a touch to compensate for the extra liquid.
  • This recipe was created by Jennifer Cheung for Kidspot, Australia’s best recipe finder.

Healthy lunch box idea: Mini quiches with hidden veg recipe

Do your kids love quiche in their lunch box, but you shudder at the fat levels? These cute mini quiches are fast, full of protein and bursting with (sneakily hidden) veggies. Even better, you can use last night’s leftover vegetables to fill them.

These cheesy mini quiches will be popular with your kids – and they need never know that they are packed full of healthy vegetables that have been pureed and sneakily hidden in the egg and cheese mixture. Yum!

Serving Size:

Makes 24 mini quiches

Special Info:

Nut free

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup mashed potato
  • ½ cup mashed or pureed carrot
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese

Method:

Place pastry sheets on a work surface to defrost for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C.

Select a 24 small hole cup cake pan or 2 x 12 hole pan. Cut 12 holes from each pastry sheet with a scone cutter that is slightly larger than the holes. Carefully push pastry circles into pan (no need to grease). Divide cheese between pastry cases. Whisk eggs and milk together in a jug, then whisk in the mashed vegetables. Pour egg mixture into pastry cases to just below the top. Keep whisking the mixture to make sure the vegies are evenly distributed. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden.

Notes

  • These are a version of Messy cheese pies with the added bonus of hidden leftover mashed vegetables. I had potato and carrot in the fridge, but you could use other yellow/orange vegetables (pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, corn, yellow zucchini)
  • Mini quiches freeze well; just reheat in the oven to make sure the pastry is crisp.
  • Recipe created by Melissa Hughes for Kidspot.

Healthy lunch box idea: Vegetable and chicken sausage rolls recipe

 

Hot or cold, these chicken and vegetable sausage rolls will disappear out of the lunch box in minutes. Deceptively nutritious, these sausage rolls combine kid-friendly flavours with hidden vegetables, protein, fibre – and even omega-3. Beat that for a healthy school lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Pre-prepared frozen puff pastry sheets
  • 1kg chicken mince
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons LSA, (a mix of ground linseed, sunflower and almond kernels), optional
  • 1 cup flaked quinoa or amaranth, optional
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1kg vegetables
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 egg for brushing pastry, cracked and mixed lightly

Method:

Pre-heat your oven on high (around 210°C).

Chop up all the vegetables as small and fine as you can.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for the puff pastry and the extra egg (which will be used to brush the pastry). Massaging all of the ingredients together can be the best way to make sure they are well combined.

After the puff pastry is defrosted, cut a sheet in half and lay in front of you as a long rectangle.

Using a tablespoon lay out the sausage roll mix in a long line at the bottom of the sheet, just remembering not to make it too thick. Keep in mind you will need to roll the puff pastry over the sausage roll mix so that there are two layers of pastry overlapping by at least 1cm.

Before rolling up the mix in the pastry, brush some egg as ‘glue’.  Keep the roll whole, brush with more egg on top and place on a tray with baking paper.  Keep in the fridge.  Repeat this process until all of the mix is used up.

With a sharp, thin bladed knife, cut the logs of sausage rolls into smaller pieces. Each roll makes 7 or 8 bite sized sausage rolls.

Lay each piece 2cm apart on a tray lined with baking paper.  Don’t try and squeeze too many on one tray as they will steam rather than bake and you won’t get a golden colour from the pastry.

Bake on high for 15min, until the pastry starts to golden then turn the oven down to 180°C.

Depending on the strength of your oven, you may need to move trays around from top to bottom and keep an eye on the bottom of the sausage rolls that they don’t become too dark.

Notes:

  • The trick is to keep the size of the vegetables in the sausage rolls as small as possible – bring out the food processor from the cupboard if need be!
  • Adding LSA (a mix of ground linseed, sunflower and almond kernels) which is high in fibre, protein and Omega 3 makes these far healthier than most sausage rolls, along with adding quinoa flakes rather than just breadcrumbs which is high in fibre and protein.
  • The following vegetables work well in these sausage rolls: onions, garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant, corn, peas, leek amd spinach.
  • You can also use the following but they will need to be boiled first so they are soft – sweet potato, celeriac and pumpkin.
  • This makes a big batch (over 100 small pieces) so you can freeze them and bring them out at times when you don’t feel like cooking but want your kids to have vegetables.
  • This recipe was created by Sonia Anthony from Chef Sonia & You for Kidspot, Australia’s best recipe finder.

7 Secrets of Low-Stress Families

January 28, 2012

What did researchers see when they spied on every living, breathing moment of 32 families for four days straight?

With the school year about to kick off we thought you might need some help in the family “stress” department.  Of course you know that working out at Coffs Coast Health Club helps to reduce your stress levels, add to that  some other strategies that might just come in handy.  Best of wishes this week as your children start the 2012 school year.

It was the first experiment of its kind: Thirty-two California families opened their doors (their front doors, bedroom doors, even bathroom doors) to researchers from UCLA who wanted to find out how they manage the demands of work and family life. With a three-person crew, researchers occupied families’ homes for four days from morning until bedtime, recording every minute spent folding laundry, every homework panic, every dinner table dispute about the yuckiness of vegetables. The researchers conducted interviews with each of the family members and measured their stress levels throughout the day. The families were studied between 2002 and 2005; each had two working parents, two or more children, and a mortgage — a profile that looks like many American households. “When I observed these families, I felt like I was looking in at my own life,” says lead researcher Tami Kremer-Sadlik, Ph.D., director of research at UCLA’s Center on the Everyday Lives of Families. “I’m a working mom with two children, and I could identify with the women we studied who reported feeling pressed for time and who were trying to balance work and family demands.” But among those stressful moments, researchers also saw the key instances of warmth and love that make great families. And as Kremer-Sadlik and other female researchers who had their own families found out, getting a glimpse into the lives of other families gives us a unique perspective on how to better take care of our own. Use what they learned to calm stress and create joy in your house.

1. Low-stress couples don’t divvy up the chores.
For one part of the project, Kremer-Sadlik and a colleague studied how couples’ division of housework was connected to their marital satisfaction. “Surprisingly, it didn’t matter how evenly couples split up the chores,” Kremer-Sadlik says. “We found that both spouses were happier when both felt like they were working toward the same goal, regardless of who did more” (and women did more across the board). “The women in happy marriages told us that their spouses seemed to have an understanding of what needed to be done. We observed their husbands setting the table while their wife was cooking, or straightening up without being told what to do.” Sound too good to be true? Know that just talking about your joint mission for the family can eliminate much of the “keeping score” conflict. “The happy couples often discussed their shared goals for their family,” she says. “There was more of a we-ness there — and that spilled over into chores. Their attitude was more, ‘We do for our family,’ not, ‘I do this for you.’” But with two working parents’ and children’s schedules to coordinate, researcher Darby Saxbe, Ph.D., a 33-year-old mom from Los Angeles, observed many couples communicating only about who needed to do what. “It felt like they were running a business!” Saxbe says. “Squeezing in little moments of fun with your partner — whether you steal a quick kiss or exchange a joke — makes a difference.” And researchers noticed that in some homes where the wives expressed more appreciation, the husbands also took on more household tasks.

2. Low-stress families find small moments of togetherness.
Every mom fantasizes about taking the perfect family vacation or spending a blissed-out day with her husband and kids. But real-life bonding time is made up of much smaller events. “I think a lot of us have this idea that we need to create big moments of togetherness, but we saw so many times that families had opportunities to connect throughout the day that they weren’t aware of,” Kremer-Sadlik says. Those small moments might be the 10 minutes you spend braiding your daughter’s hair or your time spent cheering on your son at his Little League game. “I remember one moment when a daughter and mom were folding laundry, and the daughter stuck her foot in a sock and challenged her mom to find her foot among the pile of laundry,” she recalls. “It was a loving moment of laughing and playing around in the midst of daily life.”

Belinda Campos, Ph.D., whose focus in the study was family relationships, noticed the same thing. “There’s this cultural ideal of wanting to carve out quality time,” says the 36-year-old from Irvine, CA. “But many families overlooked the daily stuff that keeps you connected.” One example was the way families reacted when dads came home from work. “There were two types of behaviors among the families: those where the wives and children greeted the dad with a warm hello, and those where the children never got up from their video games and the wives greeted Dad with logistics like, ‘Did you pick up the chicken for dinner?’” Campos says. “But those seconds after Dad walked in the door may have shaped his mood for the night. It’s such a small thing; that’s the moment to acknowledge that a person is coming into a place where he matters.”

3. Low-stress parents are role models — not pals.
Treating your partner with respect is not only good for your marriage — it also actually affects the whole family dynamic. “When spouses showed patience and support, as opposed to being impatient, sarcastic, or critical, their children were more respectful toward them, and the smoother the households ran,” Kremer-Sadlik says of her findings from a previous study. “Their mini goals throughout the day, such as getting dinner on the table or finishing homework, ran more smoothly and more pleasantly.” The same was true for parents who set the rules for the kids, as opposed to those who let their children help make the decisions. “When parents delegated chores to their children, rather than asking them which chores they wanted to do, there were fewer tantrums and arguments,” Campos says. “There was still affection and humor in homes where parents were the bosses, but there was never a question of who was in charge.”

4. Low-stress moms make dinner from scratch.
Believe it or not, using processed convenience foods for dinner doesn’t actually save you cooking time. That’s what really surprised 39-year-old mom and researcher Margaret Beck, whose focus for the study was food preparation. “All the families spent roughly one hour preparing dinner, whether they used processed foods or fresh ingredients,” she says. The moms who prepared more convenience foods tended to overcompensate by having more courses — either side dishes or separate meals for the kids — which wasted time. And if you want your children to eat what’s on the table: “The kids who assisted in the food preparation always ate what was served,” Beck says. “And the mood in the house was lighter and happier when the kids spend cooking time in the kitchen.” Talk about a win-win!

5. Low-stress moms take five minutes of me time.
There’s a secret to being fully present and enjoying family life after a demanding day at work: “The findings suggested that when women unwound alone for 5 or 10 minutes, it set a positive tone for the rest of the night,” says researcher Shu-wen Wang, a 28-year-old mom from Los Angeles who helped review more than 1,540 hours of footage. “Moms reported unwinding by exercising, gardening, or having a candy bar — not that I recommend that last approach! I always felt selfish taking time for me, especially after working all day, but this study proved to me how healthy it is for moms and their families.”

6. Low-stress families watch TV together.
If you feel guilty every time your family plops in front a television after a long day rather than doing something more interactive, don’t sweat it. “Families who watched TV together showed many bonding behaviors,” Campos says. “Bonding can be sharing snacks, high-fiving each other if the Lakers score a basket, or guessing trivia questions together during Jeopardy!” Even sitcoms can bring you closer. “When families laugh together during a TV show, that’s a shared moment they have in common, and it creates a memory,” she says. So on days where you just can’t muster the energy to recruit the kids for crazy 8’s or kickball in the yard, know that a little TV time can be good for your family too.

7. Low-stress families embrace daily rituals.
“I used to believe that spontaneity and excitement were what kept couples connected, but it’s truly the routine and continuity that set the foundation for making family relationships thrive,” Wang says. “Whether it was a couple sitting down at the end of the day with a cup of coffee or parents reading a bedtime story to their children, these little moments are what make family life so comforting and kept couples close.” Sometimes, the mad-dash moments seem to define our days, but “it’s only when we find moments to slow down that we can fully appreciate those everyday moments that make a family,” Saxbe says. “I remember watching a mom kissing her son and tucking him into bed. The son responded, ‘I want another kiss, Mommy!’ So the mom kissed him again. They repeated this five or six times — it was so sweet! Watching this made me appreciate how lucky I am to have a family I care about and how I how important it is to cherish these little moments of love when they come along.”

Originally published on September 13, 2010 http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/seven-secrets-of-low-stress-families

The Benefits of a Good Nights Sleep

January 22, 2012

6 Surprising Sleep Wreckers

Do you wake up in the morning feeling more tired than you did when you went to bed? If so, something is disturbing your sleep. But do you know what it is?

Some reasons for sleep loss are obvious — espresso nightcaps, wailing newborns, and insensitive neighbors playing the drums. But the causes of sleep loss aren’t always so clear.

“People often don’t have any idea what’s disturbing their sleep,” says Thomas Roth, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “There’s a lot of misattribution. They assume it’s one thing, but it’s actually something else entirely.”

Why such confusion?  “People often wake up in the night without realizing it,” Roth tells WebMD. “You can be awake one or two minutes at a time in the night and you won’t remember it the next day.”

While some of these unremembered wake-ups are normal, too many will leave you chronically exhausted. And many common causes of sleep loss result in just this sort of brief, hard-to-catch awakening — making it even harder to sort out the cause.

Here are six surprising causes of disturbed sleep.

Sleep Wrecker 1: Pets in Bed

While lots of people let their pets snuggle in bed with them for comfort, evidence suggests that animals in bed make it harder to sleep.

According to a survey by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, 53% of people who sleep with pets say that their animals disturb their sleep. Animals just don’t have the same sleep and wake cycles that we do. So 3 a.m. to your cat might seem like an excellent time to start pouncing on your feet. Even more subtle disturbances — the clanking of the tags on your animal’s collar as it shuffles around — can wake you up.

If you’re feeling chronically exhausted, take a break from the interspecies slumber parties to see if it makes a difference with your disturbed sleep.

“Really, there are other places for your dog to sleep besides your bed,” says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and author of Sleep Deprived No More.  If you can’t bear to kick your pets out of the bedroom, which is the ideal, at least set up a new spot for them on the floor.

Sleep Wrecker 2: Alcohol and Nightcaps

As a cause of sleep loss, this is often a surprise to people. Doesn’t drinking make you drowsy? Isn’t that why people have nightcaps? Isn’t that why college parties always end with everyone passed out on the floor?

But the body’s response to alcohol is more complicated than you might think. “Alcohol affects the rhythm of sleep,” says Mindell. “It acts as a sedative at first, but then a few hours later when blood alcohol level drops, it will wake you up again.”

To prevent your glass of wine from waking you up later, stop drinking two to three hours before bedtime.

Sleep Wrecker 3: Undiagnosed GERD

People who have GERD — gastroesophageal reflux disorder — often find the nights difficult. Once they’re lying down, the acid can back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and pain. Some try to sleep propped up on pillows to cope.

“Acid reflux is a biggie when it comes to disturbed sleep,” says Ronald Kramer, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and specialist at the Colorado Sleep Disorders Center in Englewood, Colo. “Whenever I see a person with sleep problems, I always screen for it.”

What you might not know is that GERD doesn’t always cause such dramatic symptoms. Some people might only have one constant symptom: disturbed sleep.

“Even if you rarely have pain, the acid can still be waking you up at night,” says Kramer. GERD can cause other nondescript symptoms too, like chronic cough. If you have GERD that’s interrupting your sleep, getting treated for it is important. Not only will treatment help you sleep, but it will reduce the risk of serious health problems later.

Sleep Wrecker 4: Medicine, Vitamins, and Supplements

Some of the most common causes of disturbed sleep are in your medicine cabinet, but you might not suspect them at all. Common drugs, like steroids for asthma and beta-blockers for high blood pressure or heart problems, can keep you up at night.

Despite being called “narcotics,” so can opioid drugs for pain. While they relieve pain quickly — and can make you feel drowsy in the process — they can also lead to sleep apnea.

Botanical supplements can cause sleep loss, too. Supplements like ginseng and guarana are stimulants. Even vitamins aren’t free of risk.

“Vitamins B6 or B12 can give people vivid dreams, and that can wake people up,” says Mindell. “It’s much better to use those in the morning.”

If you’re having chronic sleep problems, go to your doctor with a list of all the medicines, vitamins, and supplements that you use. Ask if any of them could be causing your sleep problems.

Sleep Wrecker 5: Pain — Even Mild Pain

Just about any painful condition can cause disrupted sleep. Headaches, back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and menstrual pain are all common causes.

What you might not realize is that the pain doesn’t even have to be particularly severe to cause sleep loss. In fact, it doesn’t even have to wake you up.

Pain signals sent out by your body can fragment your sleep, reducing the amount of time you spend in deep, restorative sleep. You might not wake up, but your sleep will be less restful.

“People with chronic pain often wake up feeling more tired than they were when they went to bed,” says Roth.

Even if you have only mild chronic pain, it’s worth checking it out with a doctor.

Sleep Wrecker 6: Being Exhausted — as Opposed to Sleepy

Here’s a common scenario. You come home from a long day at work, completely exhausted.  You stumble into the bedroom, fully expecting that as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’ll be out.

But somehow, that’s not what happens.  45 minutes later, you’re still staring at the ceiling. What’s gone wrong?

“Contrary to what people think, being exhausted doesn’t necessarily make people sleep better,” says Roth. “There’s actually a big difference between being exhausted and being sleepy.” Roth points out that if you ran 50 miles and then dropped down in bed, you would unquestionably be exhausted. However, your body might be far too revved up to sleep.

Regardless of how worn out you feel, always take some time to unwind. “Don’t rush to bed after a stressful day,” says Roth. Instead, spend some time sitting quietly first. It could save you lots of tossing and turning later.

Or Is It a Sleep Disorder?

Of course, you could also have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, one of the common but hardly surprising wreckers. About 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleep disorders, conditions that can seriously interfere with the quality of your rest.

For instance, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) causes your legs to jerk rhythmically while you’re asleep, disturbing restful sleep. Sleep apnea causes snoring and brief interruptions in your breathing, which can also wake you from deep sleep.

Since these conditions only manifest themselves when you’re asleep, you might not know you have the symptoms. Many people have sleep disorders for years before they’re diagnosed.

Or your partner may have the sleep disorder — disturbing your sleep as well.

“If your spouse is snoring and kicking in the night, neither of you are going to sleep well,” says Mindell.

There are plenty of other causes of disturbed sleep — a bedroom that is too hot or too cold, shades that don’t block enough light, noises that can be muffled by a sound machine, hot flashes during menopause. Figuring out what might help can take some trial and error.

The important thing is to take action. If you’re having trouble sorting out what could be causing your disrupted sleep, ask your doctor or schedule an appointment at a sleep clinic.

You should also take time to think more seriously about sleep and how much you’re getting. Do you need four or five cups of coffee to get through a typical day? Do you always have to sleep in on the weekends? Do you tend to fall asleep immediately as soon as you get into bed? Those are typical signs of sleep deprivation, says Roth.

“People learn about nutrition and exercise in grade school, but nobody teaches us anything about the importance of sleep,” says Roth. “As a society, we need to accept that better sleep has to be a priority.”

WebMD Feature

By R. Morgan Griffin

Reviewed By Marina Katz, MD