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Be in Control of Emotional Eating – Insight and Tips

Be in Control of Emotional Eating – Insight and Tips

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

We all eat emotionally to some degree, and it’s not necessarily pathological.
Soothing ourselves with treats has roots in childhood. Anyone remember a parent handing you a lollipop after you fell off your bike and scraped your knee? Or making you soup when you were sick? These associations can become firmly rooted for life. After all, certain foods are known as “comfort foods” for a reason.

For some of us, our tendency to reach for snacks whenever we hit a rough patch becomes a concern. This can occur after a string of difficulties, or a personal trauma. In addition, even chronic low-level exposure to stress in our normal daily lives can lead to more snacking than normal. Over time, we may find ourselves reaching almost unconsciously for food in response to any unpleasantness at all. Food distracts us from feeling the pain, the sadness, the loneliness, the irritability, the boredom. One patient told me, “food filled the empty place inside me” following the death of her mother. The emotional eating can then become more and more entrenched over time.

Whatever the reason for over-indulging, the end result is often similar.   

Any soothing effect of food is only temporary, and the negative emotions/stressors are still there for us to face.  Plus we begin to feel guilty or ashamed about setting back our health goals, and then we beat ourselves up.    This is how emotional eating sets us up in a vicious cycle.

Here are some ways to begin to break free:

(1) Start a journal.  You may wish to try tracking what you eat – tracking can increase awareness of both your physical hunger and non-hunger eating triggers.   There are some great apps for this, or even a simple notebook will do.   Tracking can give us a “hunger reality check”.  For example, if you had a full meal 1 hour ago, it’s highly likely that the hunger you have is more emotional than physical.

(2) Practice Mindfulness.  Giving yourself the opportunity to pause for even 5 seconds prior to eating is important.  Try to take one slow deep inhale and exhale before taking a bite.  Notice physical and mental sensations.  Keep breathing slowly as you eat, chewing each bite of food at least 10 times.  Notice how your body feels as your stomach becomes more full with each swallow of food. 

(3) Make it easier on yourself.  Get rid of the foods that lead you astray – don’t buy trigger foods such as sweet or salty snacks, especially from big-box stores that sell them in giant bags.  Nothing is a bargain if it makes you feel angry at yourself for eating it!

(4) Set regular mealtimes.  Due to our hectic lifestyles and tendency to multi task, we rarely sit down to just eat and do nothing else.  This can worsen mindless and emotional eating.  Even committing 15 minutes for a lunch break for example is far better than wolfing down something from the drive-thru while on errands.

(5) Focus on FATS, proteins, and greens – these help us to feel more physically full so the temptation to graze and snack won’t be as strong.  A large tossed salad with a protein of choice and olive oil dressing makes a great lunch, and it’s quick and easy to prepare. 

(6) Watch for boredom.  When that restlessness starts to settle in, keep a list on your phone of things to do to distract yourself so you won’t eat.  Take a quick 10 minute walk, or call a friend, paint your nails, take a shower, etc. – ANYTHING to avoid snacking when you really don’t want to.

(7) Know when to get help.  Consider therapy to help learn better coping skills or to help handle severe stress. A trained psychotherapist can also screen you for an eating disorder such as Binge Eating or Night Eating Disorder. Even if you don’t have one of these though, the road to lifestyle change can be filled with speedbumps and setbacks, so highly qualified support can be critical for your long term success. 

For support and resources right now, the National Eating Disorders Association provides trained helpline volunteers that you can call or text. For community support, join our private Facebook group of ladies supporting and encouraging each other through their individual health journeys. You aren’t alone in this struggle, reach out today!

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Social Eating Tips

SOCIAL EATING TIPS

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

Have you ever struggled to say “NO” at family gatherings and other social events, when you’re offered food that you know is not good for you?

It’s a fact that even when loved ones know you’re trying to lose weight and get healthier, we often feel pressured to make a bad choice, have seconds, or eat dessert.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that others want to sabotage you or ruin your success – it can just be history, culture, and a habit of food being a gift to share with those you love.

Here are some things you can say at social gatherings to stay on track with your wellness goals, when you’re offered something you don’t want to eat:

“I sure wish I could have some!  But I’m so full, from all the other delicious food right now.  Maybe a little later.”

“Thanks, I’ll pass and just keep you company while you enjoy!”

“No, thank you” (firmly, without explanation at all).

When offered seconds: “No, thank you, it was delicious.  Can I have the recipe?”

“No thanks.  Hey, how are your kids doing – I haven’t seen them lately!” (diversion tactic!)

“You know, I realized that my stomach doesn’t feel good when I eat _____, so now I try to avoid feeling like that.”

“I have _____ (high cholesterol, prediabetes, etc.) so I’m making changes in what I eat to improve my health.”

“My doctor told me I can’t eat that, but it smells amazing!”

If you feel a need to explain, or are pushed further, you can say “Sorry, that just doesn’t agree with me” or “Sorry, I need to choose what I eat more carefully for my health.”

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How to Survive Cold and Flu Season on a Low-Carb Diet

How to Survive Cold and Flu Season on a Low-Carb Diet

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

Have you noticed everyone around you is starting to sniffle and sneeze?  Here are some tips to prevent getting sick, and what to do if you do end up with a bug.

1. Prevention is key! Keep your water intake up. If you aren’t getting the minimum 64oz. of water per day start with that as your goal. Then add more water until you are drinking 1⁄2 your body weight in ounces of water every day! Drinking lots of fluids, water, unsweetened tea, clear broths, & rehydration solutions like Powerade Zero may help.

2. Wash your hands frequently and wipe down your keyboards, door handles and phones.  Carry hand sanitizer wherever you go and use it frequently.

3. Medications & Remedies: If you do get sick, look out for carbs and sugars in over-the-counter medications and treatments.   Always read the labels on medications and look for the ones that are sugar-free or low in sugar. Did you know 1 pack of Emergen C has 5 carb grams including 4 grams of sugar. A cough drop has 3 or 4g of carbs – so popping 10+ a day will add 30g of carbs or more. Nyquil liquid has 19g of carbs per serving!  When in doubt, ask your pharmacist whether a medication is sugar-free and alcohol-free.

4. Brands to try: Hyland’s DEFENSE Cough & Cold (sugar free, dye free, alcohol free) OR Theraflu Sugar Free Nighttime Severe Cold & Cough, OR Nyquil capsules- not liquid form.  There’s also Hall’s Sugar Free Honey and Lemon (no aspartame!).  Remember, while these may be sugar free, you should still limit them as much as possible. Compare labels of all brands and look for carbs and sugars hidden in the medications! Tylenol, aspirin, and ibuprofen can also be helpful if needed.  One of the simple solutions to relieving throat symptoms rather than purchasing these medications is by gargling salt-water solution. Simply mix 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of water. What’s more, you’ll save money.

5. Foods to eat: Try plain chicken broth, soft boiled eggs and unsweetened hot tea.  Stevia-sweetened electrolyte drinks like Vitamin Water Zero can help keep up your hydration and soothe sore throats.

6. Rest! You’ve heard it before but getting enough rest and sleep every day will help in your recovery. When the body is sleeping, it’s healing!

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Can I drink Alcohol on a Low Carb Diet?

Can I Drink Alcohol on a Low Carb Diet?

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

The short answer:  yes, but…

First, discuss with your doctor whether the use of alcohol may negatively impact your health.  Potential dangers include interacting with medications you may be taking and/or worsening certain chronic conditions you may have such as fatty liver, gout, and hypertension.

Should you and your doctor feel that occasional alcohol is safe for you, it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a low carb lifestyle.  For example, there are lower-carb alcohol options that you can choose such as dry wines and spirits.  You can also use sugar-free mixers to enjoy low-carb variations of your favorite drinks like a rum and diet coke or a Moscow Mule made with diet ginger beer.

Remember however, that even if your doctor feels moderate alcohol is safe for you, it still can stall or greatly slow weight loss.   

General rules for alcohol use with low-carb diets:

  1. Choose dry wines (cabernet, pinot noir, chardonnay, Chablis, zinfandel), champagnes, spirits and (very) low carb beer if any beer at all. Remember to only combine with sugar-free mixers.

  2. Limit your consumption. Too many drinks can not only add up in calories from the alcohol but also limit your ability to steer clear of the dessert tray or reaching for snacks when you’re not hungry. Know the size of your pour and be aware of your limit!  We generally advise patients to stay under 1 drink per day.

  3. Try to avoid dessert wines like ports and sherries due to high sugar content. Likewise, avoid fruit-flavored cocktail mixers and dark beers. 

 

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Magnesium: A Mineral that Matters

Magnesium: A Mineral that Matters

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

You may know magnesium as a mineral that is important for the function of all our muscles:  low magnesium levels may cause painful cramps in our arms and legs, particularly after we’ve done very intense exercise.  Magnesium is also critical for the function of our heart muscle, and when our levels get too low, serious arrhythmias may result. 

Magnesium is also critical for over 300 other metabolic and enzymatic reactions in the body.   In particular, the relationship of magnesium to blood sugar levels is an area of active study.  As a part of glucose metabolism, magnesium drives many of the reactions in the process of breaking down blood sugar.  

Magnesium deficiency is known to aggravate insulin resistance, because without magnesium, more insulin is required to metabolize blood sugar.  The pancreas pumps out more insulin, driving fat storage and increased hunger, leading to increased food intake.   When an individual is insulin resistant to begin with, the presence of low magnesium levels can feed an ongoing vicious cycle of worsening insulin resistance.

Some smaller studies have shown that giving individuals who are insulin resistant magnesium supplements improves insulin sensitivity and improves blood sugar control.  Whether magnesium can outright prevent diabetes or cause weight loss on its own is not completely clear.  While they don’t quite recommend supplements to prevent diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes consume increased quantities of magnesium-rich foods.  These include vegetables and legumes, for example.

If you eat a lower carb or ketogenic diet, you may experience increased urination which means that you will lose extra water-soluble minerals including Magnesium.  So, remember the importance of this vital mineral.  You’ll be doing your muscles and your heart a favor, and maybe even put a damper on the cycle of metabolic syndrome that previously blocked your weight loss efforts. 

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Low Carb Travel Tips

Low Carb Travel Tips

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

Travel can be exhausting, even more so when you are committed to a healthier lifestyle. Even with careful planning, the unexpected can throw a wrench into things.  Canceled flights, traffic delays, and schedule changes are just a few of the things that can play havoc with your dietary plans.

Here are the best ways to set yourself up for success:

  1. Be Prepared

No matter how big or small the trip, having on-the-go food options will relieve a lot of stress.  Have a meal before leaving home, bring backup snacks, and seek out low-carb options.  Sticking to the basics can help you stay on plan and keep you from getting overwhelmed. Most restaurants and grocery stores will have healthy protein choices and vegetables available.

Look for a bun-less burger with salads, or a grilled protein with veggies and olive oil – it doesn’t have to be fancy.  Remember, proper trip preparation takes practice, but it will get easier over time.

  1. Do your food recon beforehand

Before leaving for your trip, scope out the food scene where you’re going.  Websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp are great resources for this!  And most restaurants have their menus available online.  You can even call a restaurant ahead of time to inform them of your dietary needs.  Most chefs will appreciate the opportunity to be better prepared to serve you, and don’t be afraid to ask for modifications.    

  1. Assert your needs – don’t be afraid to ask for what you want

Traveling with family or colleagues can be especially challenging.  It can be helpful to explain beforehand why you’re committed to a low-carb lifestyle.  The more people understand why you’re making the choices you are, the more likely they’ll be to support you and they may even give it a try themselves.  Another tip: try grocery shopping together for what you want when you arrive.

  1. Move past slips

Even when we try our best, sometimes we go a bit off plan. If you do, it’s important not to spend time beating yourself up. Show yourself some compassion – acknowledge you did the best you could under the circumstances, and then determine to make the next good choice to help you get back on track.

  1. Most of all – enjoy yourself!

At the end of it all, trips and vacations are meant to be enjoyed. Brainstorm ahead of time all the ways to have a good time there that don’t involve food. Go on a hike or walk to explore your new area. If you’re visiting loved ones, focus on spending time with them.  Try not to be obsessed about every meal…just do your best. 

Happy Travels!

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How to Read Food Labels

How to Read Food Labels

Any time you pick up a jar or container of food, you’re sure to see a complex-looking label on the back. It’s the nutrition label, describing the ingredients and nutritional information for the product, which is required by law to inform consumers. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to read the label correctly, the provided information will be of little use.

Nutritional labels on food offer helpful information about what you’re eating. Whether you’re on a diet, have food allergies, or are just paying closer attention to what you’re eating, knowing how to read food labels is a must.

Here’s everything you should know about a nutritional label, from top to bottom.

Serving information

The first thing you’ll see at the top of a nutritional label is the serving information. This tells you what the average serving size is, as well as how many servings are in the container.

Serving sizes vary based on the product. For cooked pasta, it might be one cup, but for sweets, it might be two cookies or pieces of candy. These sizes are loosely based on the average amount people eat of that particular food item.  It’s important to pay attention to serving size, because the rest of the nutritional information is almost always based on one serving, not the entire container. So, if you eat two servings in one sitting, you’ll be getting twice the nutrient content and calories listed on the label.

Some packages include nutritional information based on the full container in addition to or instead of a single serving. Each label will state whether its information is based on a serving or the whole container.

Calories

Below serving size, you’ll find calorie information. This provides the total calorie count per serving. This section may also show how many calories are from fat, which is important if you’re monitoring your fat intake.

Nutrient breakdown

Next, you’ll find a breakdown of the nutrients present in the food. This includes macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  The fats and carbohydrates sections may also list out the types of each, such as saturated fat or fiber and added sugar. Knowing the difference between these types of macronutrients and what they do is important.

Sodium and cholesterol are also usually included alongside fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Micronutrients are listed below the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The total amount of each nutrient per serving, calculated in grams, is listed next to the nutrient. Next to that, there’s a percentage. This is the Percent Daily Value (%DV) for the nutrient.  Percent DV tells you what percentage one serving of that food provides of the recommended daily intake based on the government’s nutritional recommendations. For example, if the %DV for protein is 10 percent, it means one serving makes up 10 percent of the protein you should be eating each day.  A low %DV is five percent, and a high % DV is 20 or more. “Low” or “high” could be good or bad, depending on the nutrient and your general dietary choices.

It’s usually recommended you do not exceed 100 percent daily intake of some nutrients, like saturated fats. However, you should aim to reach 100 percent or more of other nutrients, such as vitamin D and fiber.

Percent DV is based on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet and the average recommended value of each nutrient so if you eat fewer or more calories each day these percentages won’t be correct.

Ingredients

Finally, the nutritional label may contain an ingredients list. All food products containing more than one ingredient are required to have an ingredients list.

Ingredients are listed in descending order based on weight. Usually, the first ingredients listed are the most prevalent. Take a close look at the first few ingredients, since these make up the majority of what you’re eating.

It’s also helpful to know how to recognize the “sneaky” names for things like added sugar, which may appear several times in an ingredients list. There are at least 56 different names for sugar that appear frequently in ingredient lists.  Here are a few of the more common ones…barley malt, corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, lactose, fructose, maltose, mannitol, maltodextrin, maple syrup.

Careful observation goes hand-in-hand with education

Understanding how to read nutritional labels means little if you don’t understand how different macronutrients and micronutrients affect your body. Consult your doctor or a dietician to understand what amount of fats, proteins, carbs, and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

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The Importance of Drinking Water Throughout the Day

The Importance of Drinking Water Throughout the Day

One of the most common pieces of health and wellness advice you’re bound to hear over and over again is to drink lots of water—and for good reason! There are tons of great health benefits associated with proper hydration. In addition to preventing dehydration, drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help you slim down, fight fatigue, elevate your mood, enhance your skin and improve your digestion.

But how much water should you be drinking each day and what can you do to make sure you’re drinking enough? Keep reading to learn more about the many benefits of drinking more water, including exactly how much to drink each day. We’ve even got a few quick tips to help you develop good habits for daily H2O consumption.

The many benefits of drinking more water

The benefits of staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day are virtually endless. Not only does it contribute to healthy digestion and prevent several adverse medical conditions, you’ll look and feel better too. Grab a water bottle and drink up! Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Prevent dehydration: It may sound obvious but drinking plenty of H2O prevents your body from becoming dehydrated. Beyond avoiding severe thirst, dehydration can be a very dangerous condition, especially chronic dehydration. It’s a problem easily avoided by drinking water regularly throughout the day.
  • Slim down: Did you know water has no calories? Also, drinking cold water can have a positive impact on your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. It can even assist in eliminating waste from your body, contributing to a slimmer physique.
  • Fight fatigue: As mentioned, it’s crucial for you to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. When you’re dehydrated, you may feel tired and groggy, and experience muscle fatigue. Conversely, drinking water can provide you with increased energy levels, along with better concentration and improved mental alertness.
  • Improve mood: Are you the type of person who gets cranky and irritable when you’re hungry? Eating usually fixes the problem. But did you know not drinking enough water can lead to some grumpy side effects, too? Dehydration can contribute to stress, tiredness, lack of focus and a generally negative state of mind. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep your “glass half full!”
  • Enhance skin: Drinking water can also prevent signs of aging, improve your skin tone and prevent pimples. Dehydrated skin is more prone to wrinkling. Using a moisturizer is one way to keep it supple but hydrating from the inside out is your best bet for enhancing the appearance of your skin. Drinking plenty of H2O will also increase circulation and blood flow, while flushing toxins out of your body. The result is healthy, clear skin and a beautiful, glowing complexion.
  • Digest better: Common side effects of dehydration are bloating and constipation, both of which are associated with poor digestion. Consuming water can have a positive effect on your digestive tract by allowing waste to pass through your body. Good hydration can reduce constipation, bloating and other inflammatory health conditions affecting your gut and bowels.

How much water is enough?

All these benefits are great, but you’re probably still wondering: How much water is enough each day?

There’s no perfect answer, but there are some great benchmarks. For starters, aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink around 75 ounces of water. There’s also the 8×8 rule: eight ounces of water eight times a day. 

Something else to keep in mind is that if you feel thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. Have a glass of water right away to get back on track.

Quick tips for drinking more water

  • Get a water bottle you like! Believe it or not, using a water bottle you like can increase the amount you drink each day.
  • Keep your water bottle filled up and keep it with you at all times––at your desk, in the car and anywhere else you go throughout the day.
  • Set an alarm on your phone or download a water reminder app to remind you to drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Build drinking into your habits. Every time you stand up or send a text message, make it a rule to take a sip of water.
  • Don’t like plain water? Try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime. Drinking tea also counts toward your daily water consumption.
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Don’t Forget to Exercise…even with a busy schedule!

Don’t Forget to Exercise…even with a busy schedule!

With a hectic lifestyle, exercising might be low on your list of priorities. Whether you’re consumed with work, family, travel, a social life, a side hustle, a major life event, or all of the above, finding time to exercise is critical in remaining healthy and happy. But when your schedule is busy, it can be extremely difficult to fit a sweat session onto your calendar.

Keep reading to discover the benefits of working out regularly, including how morning versus night workouts affect your body. You’ll also learn how to stay fit while at your desk, why any movement is beneficial, and how to prioritize daily physical activity!

Make time for the gym, day or night

When is the right time to work out? In general, the best time to sweat each day is when you have the time, whether that’s in the morning, on your lunch break, or in the evening. However, you might yield different benefits with physical activity depending on the time of day. Here’s how making time for exercise, day or night, can boost both your mental and physical wellness.

Advantages of a morning workout

Are you a morning person? It may play to your advantage. For people who don’t totally love working out, pre-work exercise can work well because it allows you to check it off your list first thing in the morning. It makes you feel accomplished and ready to tackle the day ahead, as opposed to dreading an after-work workout. Other benefits to working out in the morning include increased energy and elevated mood throughout the day, as well as lower blood pressure and a decrease in cortisol (a stress-response hormone).

Benefits of exercising in the evening

If you’re more of a night owl and can’t find the motivation to get moving in the morning, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Getting your sweat on in the evening allows you to get a longer workout in if you have more hours to spare. It’s also a superb way to let go of pent up stress after a long day at work. Evening workouts may also help you build muscle faster and get to sleep more easily.

How can you work out at your desk?

When it comes to working out, every little bit of movement counts. You can even make some adjustments and develop certain habits to sneak some exercise in at your desk!

One of the more obvious solutions is to get a treadmill desk or a standing desk. With a treadmill desk, you can send emails and take calls while burning calories as you walk in place. With a standing desk, you won’t burn quite as many calories, but you’ll burn more than if you were sitting all day. Plus, you’ll reap additional benefits such as increased blood flow and better focus.

If you can’t come by a standing desk, don’t worry: Your traditional desk-and-chair setup is a personal gym in disguise! There are tons of discrete workouts you can do in mere minutes to help you stay active throughout the day. Here are a few:

  • Squats onto your chair
  • Triceps dips from your desk
  • Calf raises while holding the back of your chair
  • Glute squeezes while sitting or standing
  • Wall sits
  • Stationary lunges
  • Incline pushups from your desk
  • Various stretches

See daily exercise as a priority

You’ve got a lot of priorities. And while your main focus might be on work, family or other obligations, it’s also crucial to view daily exercise as a priority. How can you hold yourself accountable to working out regularly? You can sign up for an exercise class, meet up with a friend for a walk or jog, invest in a standing desk, or put your workouts directly on your calendar. Just make sure you’re doing something to prioritize fitness each day.

At a minimum, keep your body moving

Even if you feel like you don’t have time to exercise every day, it’s important to keep your body moving. Whether you’re completing a 30-minute workout, running for an hour, exercising at your desk, standing instead of sitting, or walking on your lunch break, the goal is to keep your body moving no matter how busy you are. Every minute counts.

Be adaptable; exercise around life

The best way to make sure you exercise in the middle of your busy schedule is to be adaptable. Exercise around your life. With a hectic calendar, there’s a good chance that no two days will look exactly alike, and the same goes for working out.

You might have time for a spin class on Monday, but on Tuesday, you may only get the chance to take a brisk walk on your lunch break. Wednesday might be filled up with meetings, so you take the stairs and try to sneak in some workouts at your desk.

Prioritizing exercise will look different for everyone––do what works for you! Just make sure you’re making the time for fitness and not giving it a backseat to everything else life throws at you.

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10 Ways to Enjoy a More Active Family Life

10 Ways to Enjoy a More Active Family Life

One of the best ways to increase your personal wellness is to find someone to hold you accountable, and for you to do the same for them. Who better to do this with than your own family? Whether you and your partner are looking for a way to get motivated or you have young kids who need to learn the importance of wellness, making fitness a family activity is a great idea. 

Not sure how to get started? Below are 10 ways to enjoy a more active family life. You’ll get the dual benefit of spending time with the people you love, while also making fitness and activity a priority. Give any or all of them a shot:

  1. Enjoy a brisk walk: Walking is the easiest way to get the whole family up and moving. Take a walk around the block, head to a nearby park, stroll through the local cemetery or hop on a local path for a quick jaunt. If you have a dog, it’s the perfect excuse to put on your walking shoes.

  2. Go for a bike ride: Biking is a great alternative to walking and something everyone can enjoy. Find a scenic bike trail nearby and put a few miles in. If you live near a lake or lengthy park, scenic rides are a great way to spend an afternoon. Plus, biking is easy enough to enjoy, yet strenuous enough to leave you feeling accomplished after.

  3. Run for a cause: Lace up those shoes and put on a bib! Entering the family in a 5k run/walk or any other short distance run is a run way to encourage a little healthy competition. Run together, see who finishes first or make a few new friends while your team races for a good cause.

  4. Go for a swim: If your family is more aquatically inclined, trade in running shoes for a swim cap and hit the pool. Swimming is a wonderful way to condition your whole body and offers zero impact compared to running. Everyone from toddlers to grandparents can enjoy time spent in the water.

  5. Take a hike: If you live in an area rife with hiking trails, make them your destination for a weekend excursion. Hiking not only builds stamina and burns calories, it connects you to nature and exposes you to the natural beauty of the world around you. Pack a map and some trail mix for the whole family!

  6. Vacation and explore: Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean lazing by the beach all day. Pound the pavement in a major metropolitan city or kayak and hike through untamed wilderness. Take a vacation to a place the whole family can explore and spend time doing things, instead of staying cooped up in a hotel room.

  7. Divvy up the chores: Your family can get active and stay fit without leaving home. Take the growing list of chores and divvy them up, giving everyone jobs to accomplish. Whether it’s mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathroom or reorganizing the garage, there’s bound to be plenty of calories burned.

  8. Play a sport: There are so many sports to consider and plenty of opportunities to join recreational leagues. Enroll you and your partner in an adult kickball league, sign the kids up for soccer, or hoop it up in your own driveway with a family game of Horse. Sports keep you active and teach skills like hand-eye coordination and decision-making.

  9. Get involved with the community: Community events are a great place to enjoy time with family, stay active and get to know the neighborhood. Walk through the local farmer’s market, sign up for a community cleanup day or traipse through the neighborhood visiting rummages. You’ll stay active and meet your neighbors!

  10. Go on an adventure: One of the best ways to stay fit is simply to see the world as an adventure. Take the family geocaching, be tourists in your own city or make it a point to explore nearby destinations you’ve never been to. With the spirit of adventure, you’ll spend more time up and active than you do sitting on the couch.

Each of these activities can accommodate your whole family, no matter how many of you there are. See what activities are most popular with everyone and get out there to try those first! Or, toss them all into a hat and take turns picking which activity you do next. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you stay active and do it as a family!