3 Easy Steps to Begin Eating Right

1      Eat More Whole Grains

Eating whole grains instead of refined grains can lower the risk of many chronic diseases including:

  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease

It also can help with better weight maintenance. Making simple switches in your diet can make all the difference.

Replace THAT                                                 With THIS

White bread Whole-wheat bread
White rice Brown rice
Flour pasta Whole-wheat pasta
White-bread bagels 100% whole-wheat bagels

2      Stay hydrated

Our bodies depend on water for survival. Water actually makes up over half of our body weight, so it is crucial to keep ourselves hydrated in order for our bodies to continue to function properly. Without hydration, our bodies would not be able to maintain temperature, remove waste, and lubricate our joints. Remember, “8-by-8.” Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day. Fluid can include juice, tea, coffee and milk, but remember that water is the purest source of hydration.

3      Make sure your veggies and fruits are nutrient-rich

As a general guideline, the richer the color of your fruits and veggies, the better they are for you. Give these a try next time you go to the grocery store.

  • Cherries
  • Red bell peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Spinach
  • Kiwi
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant

(Source: coreperformance.com)

Weekly Health Roundup – May 12-16

We cover all the corners of health in this week’s Weekly Health Roundup!

Today is Going to be Awesome

Mental and emotional health is one corner of the overall health triangle that is often ignored or forgotten completely in our culture. In reality, it is an essential part of our total health and the way we see and experience the world. Mental/Emotional health, especially through positivity leads “to greater joy, fulfillment, and happiness (and just as important, help[s] eliminate or reduce negative thinking, which reduces unhappiness),” says Examiner’s Jimmy DeMesa. From reducing negative thoughts to promoting positive thoughts, he offers 10 simple tips to develop a “positive thinking” habit. Take one tip per week and watch your outlook change.

Attention tech nerds! This is the article for you. Natasha Baker of Reuters has investigated music apps for runners that track your pace and match the music to your step counts. “The app uses the device’s sensors to detect the runner’s steps per minute and then automatically adjusts the music’s beats per minute to match the step count,” writes Baker. Makers of apps like DjRun (Android), RockMyRun and TempoRun (iPhone) claim that this system not only increases motivation but also increase enjoyment of the sport, leading to better, more sustained exercise plans.

For transformational fitness this season, don’t be afraid to push yourself harder. You always have more in you than you think you do. “The truth is, you need to be constantly improving your fitness level, most trainers say. That means cranking up the speed, adding one more rep, and pushing past your comfort zone,” says FitSugar’s Leta Shy. Just be sure that while you’re pushing your body during some workouts, you strike a balance with moderate and easy workouts as well. Trainer Michelle Bridge says its best to “schedule six workouts per week, making sure that three of them are intense, two moderate, and one easy.” Your body will thank you.

What are the best words to hear when talking about cooking at home? CHEAP and HEALTHY. The Greatist has come to the meal rescue.  Each recipe in their list of 400+ Healthy Recipes (That Won’t Break the Bank), “requires eight of fewer ingredients and takes less than 20 minutes to prep.” They cover it all, heart breakfasts, nutrient-packed lunches and dinners, lighter snacks and sides, and even a few indulgent (and still healthy) sweet treats. Chefs, start your ovens!

Do you get intimidated by the pictures of human pretzels that are the yoga pros? Does the simple thought of clearing your mind of all thoughts to meditate send your mind reeling in every direction imaginable? These assumptions of what yoga is or “should be” deter many people from the practice. However, Greatist’s Taylor Wells says the most important part of yoga is to show up and breathe. “I believe that emotional, mental, and spiritual flexibility are virtuous and life-enhancing, and when it comes to yoga practice, paramount,” Wells says.  It’s about setting an intention and analyzing your reaction to changes. “Think of it as a journey, not a judgment of yourself,” Wells continues. He also offers 6 easy steps to let yoga practice saturate your life and improve your days.

Weekly Health Roundup: May 5-9

Ideas for Mother’s Day, tips for Summer Vacay, and advice for longevity in this week’s Health Roundup!

24 simple tips for fitter vacay

Photo Credit | Kissairis Munoz, Greatist.com

Summer Vacation Season is just around the corner, and usually vacation also means vacation from healthy foods and exercise…which doesn’t make you feel very refreshed when you get home. Thankfully, Kissairis Munoz of Greatist has come to the rescue. “The good news is feeling healthy during and post-vacay is totally possible,” she says. “Making just a few smart choices will keep you active and energized and help you get the most out of that vacay – and looking forward to the next one.” From snack advice to relaxation tips to exercise anywhere recommendations, 24 Simple Tips for a Fitter, Happier Vacation is a must-read before your trip.

Still struggling to find a last-minute gift for Mom this Sunday? Well, whether she’s a fitness guru or just starting out on her health and fitness journey, Leta She at FitSugar has compiled a great list of gift ideas for Mom in Give Mom a Little Health and Happiness: Our Mother’s Day Gift Guide. Get matching gifts for both of you and start on your fitness journey together! Challenge each other and keep one another accountable for a gift that lasts beyond just a one day holiday.

Almost everyone is aware that staying fit as a young adult  can prevent heart disease and other health problems later in life, but a new study published in Neuology, claims that young adult fitness may actually improve brain health later in life as well. In Gretchen Reynolds’s article, Early Fitness Can Improve the Middle-Age Brain, for the New York Times Well Blog, she says, “the more physically active you are at age 25, the better your thinking tends to be when you reach middle age.” There’s even more good news as well. Even if you are over 25 and haven’t had a moderate – rigorous exercise schedule, it’s not too late. You can start exercising now and still improve brain function. According to the doctors who conducted the study, the biggest lesson to learn is to stay active throughout your life.

Whether it’s Cinco de Mayo or any other day of the year, Mexican restaurants in Decatur are steadily packed with hungry crowds. Often however, the sugary margaritas and cheese-drenched burritos mean busting your diet (and your pants button) wide open. If you look closely though and make a couple simple requests, Mexican food can actually be healthy – chock full of veggies and protein. According to Greatist’s Nicole McDermott, “there are other items that can easily be altered to keep them from obliterating your diet.” Check out these simple alterations to dishes and drinks in the ultimate How to Navigate a Mexican Menu guide.

We’ve asked the question before: What is the secret to living forever? Well, who better to ask than the oldest man on Earth – 111 ¼-year-old, Alexander Imich. During his life, he’s travelled all over the world, studied the paranormal and even mastered the computer. Imich attributes much his longevity to healthy living, moderation, and good genes. Michael mannion and Trish Corbett – founders of the Mindshift Institute – “lay his survival to an ever-curious mind. Mr. Imich noted in an interview with them, “The compensation for dying is that I will learn all the things I was not able to learn here on Earth.” Read more about his journey in Ralph Blumenthal’s article An Ever-Curious Spirit, Unbeaten After 111 Years.

Weekly Health Roundup: April 28 – May 2

Stay on the track to healthy this weekend with our Weekly Health Roundup!

Greens and Ham
Photo: Nick / Macheesmo – Greatist.com

Cooking for one can be an exciting adventure and provide a delicious sense of accomplishment. “Not only can cooking for yourself provide some much-needed alone time, but a healthy home-cooked meal can help you feel energized for whatever life throws your way,” says Kissairis Munos of Greatist. And any headline with the words EASY, HEALTHY and IN MINUTES has to be good. Munos has gathered recipes for every meal including some recipe-free meals that let you bring out your creative cookie side.

“Few things drive an emergency room staff quite as nuts as a patient who has, yes, carefully considered her preferences, designated a health care decision-maker should she become incapacitated, and documented all that information in an advance directive — which is sitting in a locked safe deposit box or stashed in a bureau drawer at home.” Paula Span’s article for the New York Times The New Old Age blog introduces audiences to a series of apps that allow you to digitally store medical information and other documents that can be accessed by email or bluetooth in case of an emergency.

Total wellness is more than just eating right and exercising regularly. Keeping your mind healthy is just as important as loading up on veggies and perfecting your plank form. To retrain her brain, Health.com’s Jancee Dunn tried “an array of research-backed brain-sharpening techniques over one six-week period.” From playing brain games to mastering new skills to getting enough sleep, you can jump start your memory and keep your mind sharp with her techniques.

Life is demanding between work, family, and attempting to keep up a social life of some sort. In the midst of all that, where does fitness fit in? “Only by taking care of ourselves do we stand a chance of being the kind of person we strive to be on the job, at home with our loved ones, and in our communities. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy,” says Greatist’s Martin Bjergegaard. There are simple ways you can increase your activity and make it part of your daily routine.

  1. Work Out Efficiently.
  2. Cater to Your Own Likes and Dislikes.
  3. Use Competitions as Motivation.
  4. Make a Schedule and Commit to It.
  5. Track Your Activity Levels.
  6. Choose Something Over Nothing.

Set yourself up for success with this article.

What drives athletes to run 250 miles across a desert? To bike 3,000 miles across the USA? To compete in extreme triathlons through ocean, sand and hills? Mental toughness. As Sally Tamarkin says, “In fact, mental toughness (or ‘grit’) may be the defining factor between finishing at the front of the pack and not finishing at all.” Get inspired by five extreme athletes and their stories of training, competition and extreme grit.

Superfood Series: Fitness Foods

Not only is it important to have your workout plan and technique down, but your diet is also an integral part of your ability to work out and jump start your energy and fitness. Protein and carbs are essential for providing the energy and power you need to have a stellar workout and push yourself to your limits. Load your day up with the following foods and fluids to help bolster your exercise regimen.

Pasta with meat sauce: The perfect mix of protein and carbs to repair old muscle and help build new.

Pork tenderloin (for men) or dark-meat poultry (for women): Get not only your protein, but also a strong dose of iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

Salmon: With omega-3 fatty acids and monosaturated fats, salmon is not only heart-healthy, but could be linked to waist trimming benefits.

Tomato soup: Tomatoes have a whole host of beneficial nutrients, from fiber to vitamins to antioxidants. And sipping your soup contributes to your daily hydration.


Fresh fruit: Especially pineapple, papaya, and berries which are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants to help protect muscles.

Whole grain cereal: Great snack to take down right before going to the gym because it’s packed with complex carbs and muscle building protein that will help you work out with more sustained energy.

Eggs: In just one little egg, you get healthy fat, vitamin A and B12, and antioxidant lutein, for an energy boost and extra brain power. Most of these are found in the yoke, so don’t skip out on that part.

Hummus: Complex carbs, healthy fat and protein make this almost the perfect snack to enjoy with fresh veggies or whole grain pita chips.

Low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt: Especially when mixed with fresh fruit, this provides a healthy balance of good carbs, healthy fats, and even protein.

Snack/Trail mix: This is the perfect opportunity to create the perfect salty, sweet, and energy boosting mix. Toss peanuts, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips and a whole grain cereal together for absolute snacking bliss.


Chocolate milk: Go way beyond calcium with extra vitamins and minerals for hydration and muscle repair.

Green tea: Not only is it s metabolism booster, but also, recent research has shown that guzzling down a few cups a day may help muscle recovery.

Cold water: Research shows that drinking chilled water (rather than lukewarm or room temperature) before and during exercise helps the reduce core body temperature which can improve endurance.

For more great tips, tricks and recipes on how to make your fitness a success, check out these sources.




Weekly Health Roundup: April 14 – 18

To keep you updated on the latest and greatest in healthy lifestyle and medical news, we present the Healthy Central Illinois Weekly Roundup – a collection of articles, recipes and tips to keep you on your way the a healthier you!

Now that we’re finally seeing the sun, many avid and beginning exercisers are starting the great seasonal debate: Cardio inside or outside? Of course, there are major advocates on both sides of the line, but this article from the New York Times Well Blog may help sway people who are still on the fence…or in the doorway. By comparing 2 of the most popular forms of exercise, walking vs. elliptical training, Well aims to inform cardio beginners and pros on key aspects of similarity and difference from muscle activation to calorie burn.

Spring Cleaning the house may be on everyone’s to-do list (or honey-do list) now that spring has sprung, but what about Spring Cleaning your overall health? Maybe you’re preparing for a trip to the beach this summer. Or perhaps you need a little reminder of that New Year’s Resolution that you’ve already started breaking. Whatever the case, the writers at Pop Sugar have gathered a list of simple habits you can start today to make you feel healthier, physically and mentally.

Beans, lentils and peas usually get a bad rap. However, a new study shows that they contain more health benefits that may surprise you. Not only are legumes rich in protein, but eating just one serving a day may help eliminate LDL, or bad cholesterol, and lower your risk of heart disease. So, jump start your healthier diet with these legume recipes.

From the mid-morning hunger pangs to the 2:30 p.m. slump, sustaining energy throughout the workday can be difficult. Many people turn to candy, chips and energy drinks only to find they feel more terrible after eating them than before. Snacking is essential to boost brain power and productivity, but you have to snack right to get you through. Try these 10 health-conscious snacks at work to fuel your body with nutrition and combat unhealthy cravings.

While living forever may not currently be possible, there are dozens of ways to help you live longer. One 15-year Australian study further reinforces the suggestion that exercise can lengthen your life. Researchers found that those who exercised least had about twice the risk of heart disease as those who exercised moderately and six times the risk of those who exercised vigorously. This NYT article shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore other risk factors, of course, but increasing physical activity can be a key factoring in lowering your risk.

Whether you’re looking to conquer a new paleo recipe or just hoping to spice up taco night, NerdFitness has the perfect recipe to kick off your weekend. Noel Fernando’s Paleo Tacos are easy, flexible and even includes a recipe for homemade guac! They make it even easier with step-by-step pics and printable grocery list.

5 Ways to Fight the Seasonal Slump



In a winter wonderland like Central Illinois, the cold weather can seem endless – with surprise ice storms this week andstraight back to freezing temps next week. Even into March, the snow just keeps falling and the wind just keeps howling. Have you noticed, especially in this particularly brutal-polar-vortex-negative-temperature-snowpocalypse winter we’re having, that you don’t feel quite like yourself?

Well, first, know that you are not alone. Feeling down in the dumps during the colder months is completely normal because of shifts in your brain chemistry and circadian rhythm – your internal clock. Because we naturally become less energetic in the winter, we have to make a more concerted effort to combat lethargy and live it up in the beautiful scenery that a brisk Central Illinois winter provides (or at least make it through to the summer). So, combat crankiness, defeat depression and fight the funk with these tips and tricks.

1. Keep exercising (even outside!). Most everyone knows that exercising increases the endorphin release in your brain, but staying on the exercise wagon can have added benefits too. Getting some fresh air on a long walk outside (just make sure you’re properly bundled!) can make you feel refreshed, and the extra dose of vitamin D can have some serious positive power. Or if you prefer to stay inside, try joining a group class at the gym. It can be a great way to stay accountable for getting fit in the cold.

2. Make your house a warm and healthy haven. Because you typically spend more time inside in the winter, it’s even more important to have a clean and soothing environment (check out tips 5-11 here). Keep the air fresh with indoor greens or air purifiers. Or snuggle in with the comforting scents of lavender or vanilla with candles, essential oils, and homemade room remedies.

3. Eat your way to a better mood. Eat smart this winter by choosing foods that make you feel better – mind, body and soul. There are specific nutrients proven to boost your mood. From a dose of calcium in kale or a delicious yogurt smoothie to folate and iron found in the superfood, avocados, you can eat more of your favorite foods, discover new favorites, try some adventurous recipes and feel better doing it.

4. Stay social. Reaching out to friends and making new ones is a powerful way to prevent the seasonal slump. Indulge in a girls’ night or escape the winter weather altogether with a weekend getaway. Even just grabbing lunch and catching up with an old friend can keep you feeling warm and fuzzy no matter what the temperature. Share the positive energy!

5. Make a list. The Art of Simple had it right with their suggestion to make a Feel Good Menu (tip 20). Make a checklist of all the little things that make you happy and peaceful. These can include staying in and watching your favorite movie, making a classic hot toddy, or enjoying all the wintery season has to offer – sledding, skiing or just sitting on the porch and watching the snow.

What’s in your plan to keep yourself lighthearted and spirited through the winter?

New Obesity Weapon: Kids Teaching Kids

Diverse Children

A new development has been made in the effort to educate kids in America about obesity. This article outlines an approach featured in JAMA Pediatrics about the benefits of older kids teaching younger kids about healthy eating and getting active.

A program called Healthy Buddies encourages older kids to act as role models to younger kids. Hearing the message from older kids makes the young students more likely to be receptive to and retain information about health, self image, and diet. Younger children will take cues from older role models and strive to follow their example.

Over the course of the ’09-’10 school year, 19 schools were selected to participate in the Healthy Buddies program and researches tested changes waist size and BMI, as well as physical activity, heart fitness, self-image and knowledge about healthy living and diet.

The results showed how this program can turn negative peer pressure into positive messages and examples. Just like adults may read and engage with fitness blogs or join group classes at the gym, children can be affected greatly by the positive examples and accountability created by their peers.

See the full article here.

Welcome to HealthyCentralIllinois.com!

Welcome to HealthyCentralIllinois.com! I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what this site was created for: to fight the notion that even though our State Fair has a sculpture made entirely of butter and a notably husky population, that doesn’t define or represent our health. Use this website as a resource to transform into the healthiest version of yourself.

This website is a place where a healthy lifestyle and our endless cornfields (and even our famous butter cow) can become synonymous. There are many features of this site that can help even the most uninformed, fried Twinkie-eating Midwesterner get proactive about his health.

HealthyCentralIllinois.com has everything from health screening schedules in Decatur to connections with Crossfit Enhance (for those feeling much more ambitious than me).  It also is a source for practical health tips and tricks to get (and keep) you motivated, dedicated and informed about your health. Come here to get started on a fitness program or learn about superfoods for your next meal.

Proactive health, fitness, and nutrition are more important than ever. So team up, Central Illinois! No more double triple horseshoes with extra cheese. Maybe just keep it at a ponyshoe next time. Get outside and run, walk, or start a pick-up football game, in keeping with the season. Plenty of open space for it out there in the Illinois prairies. Know yourself and your health and tell us about it here at HealthyCentralIllinois.com!