Thursday, June 28, 2012

Love Your Skin Even If You Love the Sun

By Maria Noël Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Aloe plant
Sitting out in the sun on a nice summer day is the epitome of a relaxing good time. But, excess sun exposure can damage the skin over time, encouraging wrinkles and skin cancer to take hold. Take a queue from hot climates. Your best sunscreen is a tightly woven sun hat, sunglasses, light, loose-fitting clothes, and hanging out in the shade when possible. The runner up: a good sunscreen.

Not all sunscreens are made equal. Some make false claims while others contain potentially toxic chemicals. Of course, you can trust the Co-op to offer good, safe brands like Badger, All Terrain (both New Hampshire companies), and Aubrey Organics. See the complete list of approved sunscreens on the Skin Deep Database at or the Co-op’s helpful Health & Beauty staff to assist you.

Remember that while using sunscreen does protect against sunburns, there is no consensus that using sunscreen prevents skin cancer. And some sun, without sunscreen, is essential to allow your body to make the important nutrient vitamin D.

Got Kids? Childhood sunburns may increase the likelihood of dangerous melanomas in adulthood. Shade is really the best sunscreen, especially for infants. With toddlers and older children, choose one of the many kid-friendly sunscreens as a backup and apply heavily.

Got Burned? Turn to remedies with cooling and antioxidant-rich ingredients to help minimize the damage and find relief.
      Green Tea: Make quart or two of strong green tea, add it to a tepid bath, and rest in the cool water or soak a towel to apply as a compress.
      Aloe Gel: Store-bought gels work, and freshly sliced aloe leaves are even better. For extra cooling, store your aloe gel or leaves in the fridge.
      Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar helps restore the acid mantle to the skin and does a surprisingly good job relieving sunburn pain (although you will smell a bit like salad dressing!) Dab or spray to onto the burn. Feel free to add a few drops of lavender essential oil for extra healing properties… and improved scent. Store your vinegar in glass or plastic – it will break down metal containers and lids.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

For Fitness, Think F.I.T.

By Audrey Burghard, Heath & Wellness Coordinator 

Another frequently asked question from my days as a Personal Trainer was “How do I increase my fitness?” and “How can I break through a plateau?” regarding fitness level or body weight. An easy acronym to remember is the F.I.T. rule. There are three variables you can change to create what is called the training effect in your body. The training effect is felt when we are making progress or increasing your fitness level. It is seen as weight loss, muscle soreness, or fatigue. We all like to see improvements when we exercise, and oftentimes we hit a plateau or place where we aren’t seeing the results we desire.

If you adjust one or more of these variables in your training routine, you can break through that barrier of stagnation:

§       Frequency – Refers to increasing the number of days you exercise. Add one more day to see some results. If that’s not doable, adjust your…
§       Intensity – Increasing intensity refers to your heart rate or how many beats per minute (BPM) your heart is beating during your exercise routine. For example, if you are walking for your workout, add a few minutes of jogging to bring the heart rate higher. If that’s not doable, adjust your…
§       Time – Refers to the duration or time spent in each training session. If you work out for 30 minutes three times per week and you were to increase each session by five minutes, you add another 15 minutes per week. It all adds up!

Pick the variable that you can work with easily. If you cannot add another day, play with intensity or time. If your time is set – for example you work out on your lunch break – then either add another a day or bring up the intensity. If you feel like your workouts are as intense as you can handle, then look at adding another day or increasing your time.

Try it, and let me know how it goes! We all have 24 hours in each day. Let your health fall into the top five spots of how you spend your time, and you will surely succeed.

In Health,

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Best Workout!

By Audrey Burghard, Wellness Coordinator 

 I have spent over 20 years working out and 8 years as a personal trainer. During that time I was often asked “What is the best workout”?

I did as many others have done; I chased the next thing that would make me more fit. But along the way I have come to agree with my good friend and Exercise Physiologist Jason Aziz when he states that the best workout is, whatever gets you moving and enjoying yourself.  I know it sounds too simple and not very scientific.  We often look for magic or some elaborate answer to our inability to adhere to our exercise or nutrition goals.  However, if you give these questions some thought, you will be able to figure out what the best workout is for you. After all, why would you want to do a workout fit for Lance Armstrong?

  • What is my fitness goal?   Are you looking to increase, or maintain your fitness?  Those are really the only 2 options; I don’t imagine anyone wanting to decrease their fitness level!  Are you expecting too much for the amount of time you have to put into it?
  • What am I doing NOW?  What does your workout routine include now?  (lifting weights, cardiovascular work, stretching)
  • Is That Working For You?  Are you happy with your results?  If not, how can you add something that you will enjoy?

At the end of the day, being happy in your own skin is more important than your fitness level.  Enjoying your workouts doubles the value.  You not only receive the physical benefits, but you relieve stress by doing something you enjoy.  If it’s a chore, you most likely will abandon it.  Doing things that we don’t enjoy increases stress.

I hope by now you are thinking, “I always wanted to play golf but I thought it didn’t count as exercise”.  Does it make you move?  Is it enjoyable?  Then by all means, DO IT!  Think outside the box and take a dance class, try a hula hoop, go kayaking or walk to a destination rather than taking your car.

The workout that keeps you showing up day after day:  That’s the best workout!