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June 27, 2011

Bloodsugar Levels, Laughter and Good Memories – the Key to Self-Control? – Balance Spa, New Orleans Spa

Filed under: Health — Balance Spa @ 7:00 pm

 

, Spa – So much of what we seek to achieve in life requires self-control. From weightloss, to fitness and breaking bad habits, self-control is the key to getting what we want out of life. Working to improve this skill is the perfect compliment to your better life regime including regular visits to Balance Spa, to improve health, fitness and control stress. Read the following article from the New York Times to learn the surprising truth about boosting willpower:

How to Boost Your Willpower

(From left: Robert Stolarik for The New York Times New York; Alan Zale for The New York Times; Owen Franken for The New York Times )

Every day, we are tested. Whether it’s a cookie tempting us from our diets or a warm bed coaxing us to sleep late, we are forced to decide between what we want to do and what we ought to do.

The ability to resist our impulses is commonly described as self-control or willpower. The elusive forces behind a person’s willpower have been the subject of increasing scrutiny by the scientific community trying to understand why some people overeat or abuse drugs and alcohol. What researchers are finding is that willpower is essentially a mental muscle, and certain physical and mental forces can weaken or strengthen our self-control.

Studies now show that self-control is a limited resource that may be strengthened by the foods we eat. Laughter and conjuring up powerful memories may also help boost a person’s self-control. And, some research suggests, we can improve self-control through practice, testing ourselves on small tasks in order to strengthen our willpower for bigger challenges.

“Learning self-control produces a wide range of positive outcomes,’’ said Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University who wrote about the issue in this month’s Current Directions in Psychological Science. “Kids do better in school, people do better at work. Look at just about any major category of problem that people are suffering from and odds are pretty good that self-control is implicated in some way.’’

Last month, Dr. Baumeister reported on laboratory studies that showed a relationship between self-control and blood glucose levels. In one study, participants watched a video, but some were asked to suppress smiles and other facial reactions. After the film, blood glucose levels had dropped among those who had exerted self-control to stifle their reactions, but stayed the same among the film watchers who were free to react, according to the report in Personality and Social Psychology Review.

The video watchers were later given a concentration test in which they were asked to identify the color in which words were displayed. The word “red,” for instance, might appear in blue ink. The video watchers who had stifled their responses did the worst on the test, suggesting that their self-control had already been depleted by the film challenge.

But the researchers also found that restoring glucose levels appears to replenish self-control. Study subjects who drank sugar-sweetened lemonade, which raises glucose levels quickly, performed better on self-control tests than those who drank artificially-sweetened beverages, which have no effect on glucose.

The findings make sense because it’s long been known that glucose fuels many brain functions. Having a bite to eat appears to help boost a person’s willpower, and may explain why smokers trying to quit or students trying to focus on studying often turn to food to sustain themselves.

Consuming sugary drinks or snacks isn’t practical advice for a dieter struggling with willpower. However, the research does help explain why dieters who eat several small meals a day appear to do better at sticking to a diet than dieters who skip meals. “You need the energy from food to have the willpower to exert self-control in order to succeed on your diet,” said Dr. Baumeister.

Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, says that in lab studies, self-control is boosted when people conjure up powerful memories of the things they value in life. Laughter and positive thoughts also help people perform better on self-control tasks. Dr. Vohs notes that self-control problems occur because people are caught up “in the moment’’ and are distracted from their long-term goals.

“You want to look good in a bikini next summer but you’re looking at a piece of chocolate cake now,’’ said Dr. Vohs. “When we get people to think about values we move them to the long-term state, and that cools off the tempting stimuli.’’

Finally, some research suggests that people struggling with self-control should start small. A few studies show that people who were instructed for two weeks to make small changes like improving their posture or brushing their teeth with their opposite hand improved their scores on laboratory tests of self-control. The data aren’t conclusive, but they do suggest that the quest for self-improvement should start small. A vow to stop swearing, to make the bed every day or to give up just one food may be a way to strengthen your self-control, giving you more willpower reserves for bigger challenges later.

“Learning to bring your behavior under control even with arbitrary rules does build character in that it makes you better able to achieve the things you want to achieve later on,” said Dr. Baumeister. “Self-control is a limited resource. People make all these different New Year’s resolutions, but they are all pulling off from the same pool of your willpower. It’s better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.”

 

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June 24, 2011

Healthy Snacks: 10 Ideas for More Wholesome Eating – Balance Spa in New Orleans

Filed under: Health,Nutrition — Balance Spa @ 7:25 pm

 

Visiting in is a huge step in the healthy lifestyle we are all seeking. After all, our focus in New Orleans is on revitalizing the body and soul; offering an extensive menu of to accopmplish both.

Most have heard by now that we should all eat every 3 hours. It makes our digestive system happy, our energy level even, and our body, mind and soul engaged throughout the day. However, at Balance Spa in New Orleans we also see the fast paced lifestyle that today's world seems to demand. Here are some excellent snack suggestions from ZenHabits.com to keep your diet intact and nourish the whole you:

Healthy Snacks: 10 Ideas for More Wholesome Eating

roast chickpeas

Reading Get Started: From Overweight to Healthy recently on Zen Habits, I couldn’t agree more with Leo’s advice.

Eat move veggies, drink more water, move more and get rid of the junk. All great ideas.

It also got me thinking. For me at least, the most difficult part of healthy eating is when it comes to snacks.

It would be nice to think we’re all going to start reaching for a raw carrot or celery stick when hunger strikes between meals. But it can be difficult to go from junk to super healthy in one step.

So here are a few ideas to help you snack more healthfully.

As with all things, remember that even healthy snacks aren’t going to be good for you in large quantities, so moderation is key.

10 Healthy Snack Ideas

1. nori sheets
Head to your local Japanese or Asian grocery store and grab some nori. Yes, the seaweed stuff used in sushi rolls is delicious fresh from the pack. Although it is quite drying so you will need some water with it.

2. nuts
My go-to snack, especially when I’m traveling. Almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias, pistachios: there’s so much variety to explore. Nuts are portable, delicious and packed with minerals. Look for dry roasted, preferably unsalted. And remember nuts like almonds with their skins on have more fiber than those without.

3. kale chips
There are a heap of different commercial kale chips on the market these days. While delicious, they tend to be expensive, so you could have a go at making your own. Just toss some kale (or other leafy greens) in a little oil, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes until crisp.

4. salsa
Based mostly on tomato and chilli, a good salsa can be a great way to boost your veggie intake.

5. nut butters
Look for unsweetened nut butters such as almond or cashew butter at your local health food store, or try making your own. Pop a handful of nuts in your food processor and whizz until it forms a nut butter, adding a little oil to help if it looks too dry.

6. antipasto
The Italians know a thing or two about healthy snacking. Olives, marinated veg like eggplant, artichokes or peppers all make wonderful quick snacks. You can even throw in a little proscuitto (but don’t tell Leo).

7. mezze
Similar to antipasto, these Lebanese small plates are a great thing to have in the fridge. Hummus is probably the most famous but there’s also babaganoush, tatziki and beetroot drips to make your carrot and celery sticks more appealing.

8. boiled eggs
While not for the vegans, eggs are a wonderful source of protein. Boil up a whole batch at once then keep them in the fridge to peel and eat with a little salt and pepper as needed.

9. roast chickpeas
I just adore chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in all their forms. And have recently started roasting them and tossing with a little spice to serve as a snack. So. Good. [recipe below]

10. dark chocolate
When only something sweet will do, dark chocolate is your best bet. At least you’ll also be getting some antioxidants. Look for good quality brands that tell you the % cocoa solids. The higher the cocoa, the less sugar.

 

roasted chickpeas
makes about 1 1/4 cups

By all means cook the chickpeas from scratch if you prefer, but I find canned chickpeas work really well, without the effort.

Feel free to play around with the spicing. If you can’t find smoked paprika, a little cayenne pepper or chilli powder would be lovely. Or keep it simple with just some sea salt and black pepper.

If you have any leftovers, allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Will keep for a week or so but I like them best while they’re still warm.

 

1 can chickpeas (14oz / 400g), well drained
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 400F (200C).

2. Place chickpeas in a roasting pan or oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes.

3. Stir the chickpeas and sprinkle over the paprika. Bake for another few minutes until the chickpeas are golden and crisp on the outside.

4. Season generously with pepper and sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

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June 13, 2011

Social Gatherings that Won’t Go To Your Waist – Balance Spa, New Orleans

Filed under: Fitness,Health — Balance Spa @ 7:00 pm

, – Socializing is known to play a huge part in a healthy life style. , New Orleans we know that social events allow us an opportunity to bond with others. It reduces stress and aids in achieving a healthy outlook on life. Unfortunately, many of the traditional venues and activities used in many cultures as social events can have negative consequences on our physical health. From activities that are mainly stationary to events that involve unhealthy food and drink, many of these can be damaging to our body. Balance Spa, New Orleans is happy to share with you this idea-filled article from Organic Spa Magazine to get you thinking about new ways to socialize that won't show on your wasteline.

At Play with Gal Pal Friday

Many folks planning to celebrate traditional weddings or parties this season also aim to curb their budgets and try something unique. We asked Sophia Paliov in Los Angeles, an “active party planner” to show us how to shape up our own festivities
this season:

Game Night. Instead of hosting a typical game night with static board games, try one of the hyper Wii games for fun. “For kids’ parties and bar mitzvahs, I suggest the Just Dance, Sports Resorts, Wipe Out or Minute to Win It WII games,” says Paliov.

Bachelor(ette) Revelry. Morph your celebration into something healthy with golf getaways, badminton tournaments, tennis lessons for the wedding party or sushi-making dinners. “You can always do the spa afterwards,” says Paliov.

Summer BBQ. A poolside cookout is perfect! “Competitive games between all your guests, like water polo is ideal. “Everyone works up an appetite for the main course,” she says. “The invitation should remind your guests to bring swimsuits and sunscreen.”

Gal’s Night. These wild eves usually involve cocktails and fatty food, so turn it into a “Girl’s Workout Night” instead, and invite chicks over for a new DVD workout (try Pilates or belly dancing!). “It’s the best way to girl-bond, giggle, and get in shape,” says Paliov. Afterwards serve a low-cal meal you create together, such as salmon salads with wine spritzers…fun!

Park Picnics. Plan ahead when you pack. Family gatherings should include calorie-smoking volleyball games, a Hackey Sack or Frisbee, and balls for basketball or soccer. For more playful party ideas, log onto galpalfriday.com.

Nicole Dorsey Straff is Organic Spa Magazine’s Contributing Editor of Play and Adventure.

 

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June 7, 2011

Taming Stress – Balance Spa New Orleans

Filed under: Health — Balance Spa @ 7:00 pm

Taming Stress –

Is A Visit to Your Favorite  Enough to Manage Your Stress? – Balance
Balance Spa New Orleans – One of the biggest factors affecting our overall health today is stress. Although frequent visits to Balance Spa New Orleans can help counter-act the effects of stress, many find that they need to take extra steps to combat stress. To make the matter worse, in today’s fast paced world, many people have no idea of how to reduce their stress. A common solution for many to accept stress as a natural part of life and learn to feed off of it. But is this the best solution? Take a look at this article from Women’s Health discussing this serious matter:

spa New OrleansDo You Stress Yourself Out?

More and more women are overworked, overwhelmed, and overwrought. The bigger problem: They’re proud of it! Learn how to break an unhealthy, addicted-to-high-anxiety lifestyle
Maura Rhodes
When you think about it, stress is a mysterious thing: You can’t see it or touch it, but you definitely know it’s there. And its enigmatic nature just might be preventing us from fully realizing the damage stress can do—to our minds, bodies, and spirits.
According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of all women say they’re “highly stressed,” an increase of 25 percent from just four years ago. But very few do anything to chill out. In fact, many seem to be saying “bring it on!” because somewhere along the line being stretched to the limit turned into a badge of honor.
That’s how it was for Meredith Bodgas, 28, of Forest Hills, New York. Before switching to a lower-key Web job, Bodgas worked until 9 p.m. most nights. “I figured anyone who left before 7 p.m. simply wasn’t as valuable,” she says. She subscribed to the same misguided belief adopted by so many modern women: Stress is synonymous with success—and if you’re not totally fried, you may not be doing enough. “I loved it when people would ask me ‘How do you do it?’ ” admits Bodgas, “even though I suspect what some of them really meant was ‘Why do you do it?’ ”

Stress Appeal

Turns out, high anxiety may be, well, an actual high.
“Some people think they need to be stressed all the time in order to really feel alive,” says Patt Lind-Kyle, author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace, and Presence. They become hooked on the rush they get from stress, which stimulates hormones such as adrenaline, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and especially cortisol. The tension can become addictive—and as with most addictions, it can usher in an unhealthy craving.
The ready willingness to put out a welcome mat for stress also stems from myriad social and cultural pressures. While you’d think the feminist movement would have moved women way past this by now, “many still feel driven to prove they can be just as successful as their male counterparts,” says stress researcher KaMala Thomas, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Pitzer College in California.
“In fact, studies show that women expect to juggle multiple roles from an early age. The result is that they end up thriving on stress and feeling guilty if they’re not multitasking. They get used to the adrenaline rush and eventually interpret stress as a drive to be productive rather than a potential source of long-term health problems.”
Compounding this is the possibility that women embrace stress because, somewhere along the way, they came to believe that the more frazzled they are, the better person they are. “Many young women think if they’re not working every second of every day, they’re lazy,” says Steve Orma, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in San Francisco.
“They are ashamed of taking breaks and feel they’re not a ‘good’ enough person if they aren’t pushing themselves to the absolute limit. It has become a moral issue.”
Plus, a lot of women are willing to forgo sleep and sanity for an implied payoff. In Bodgas’s case, she figured the more hours she clocked—and the higher her stress meter continued to soar—the greater her reward would be. “I felt as if I were one of those pledging frat guys who tells himself that the fraternity must be amazing if he has to go through so much horrible stuff to get in,” she says.
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