Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
January, 2016


The Gratitude Journal app allows you to capture your thoughts and feeling in a creative and unique format. Using this app, you can add photos, tag friends and locatons, and export to PDF if you wish. This app also gives the ability to password protect your entries as well as provide daily inspirational quotes and reminders.

While using the app, you may wish to conentrate on gratitude. Studies show that those who journal about things they are gratful for versus those who journal about things in general, are more likley to be happy.

Gratitude Journal is available for free in the app store for iPhone only.


Sleep Corner

How mindfulness meditation can help you sleep better

Minfulness can help improve sleep due to a variety of factors. Often times, sleep issues arrise due to stress or anxiety. While sleep environment is important, no amount of blackout curtains or white noise machines can help you sleep if the true issue at hand is stress. One way to help clear your mind and prepare it for sleep is practicing mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness throughout the day and especially right before bed has been shown to improve sleep.

The results of a study published in 2015 demonstrate the power of mindfulness in improving sleep. The study involved a group of middle aged adults which were divided into two treatment groups. One group completed a mindfulness awareness program and the other group sampled a sleep education class. Both groups met six times, once a week for 2 hours. At the end of the end of the 6 weeks, the group who received the mindfulness awareness program had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression compared to the sleep education group.

The results of the study also showed that the group who practiced mindfulness awareness also reduced their sleep-related daytime impairment. This demonstrates yet another quality of life benefit from practicing mindfulness.

If you are having trouble falling asleep, try practicing mindfulness meditation for just 5 minutes before bed. As you lay there, close your eyes and concentrate on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Do not think about the past nor the future. Just focus on your breathing. If your mind begins to wonder (and it will), gently bring your attention back to your breath. Pay attention to your stomach as it rises and falls with each breath. Think of this time as a mental vacation. A time when all the worries and stresses of the day are pushed to the side and your mind is free to concentrate on your breath.


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New Year, New You: Pledge to Live Healthier


We know your health is important to you and your family, so what better way to kick off the New Year than by making a pledge to live healthier? By making small changes in your daily habits, you can pledge to start the New Year on your way to better health and happiness.

At the start of each year, many people are resolving to eat healthier so they can lose excess weight gained over the previous year. In addition to feeling better physically, eating healthier and reaching a healthy weight will also make you feel better mentally.

Nutrition

Choose Whole Grains
Whole grain products are “complex carbohydrates” which means they have more fiber, vitamins (specifically, B vitamins), and minerals than refined, or white, products.

Do This: Read the ingredient list to make sure the first ingredient is 100% whole grain or whole wheat.

Skip the Sugar
Sugary foods and drinks are often said to have “empty calories”. A 12oz can of cola contains about 150 calories, and 40 grams of sugar.

Do This: Choose foods naturally low in sugar and opt for water, low fat milk, or unsweetened tea as a beverage.

Practice Portion Control
Learning what a healthy serving of food looks like and training your body to be satisfied with that amount will allow you to eat the foods you love and stay at a healthy weight.

Do This: Check out the portion size graphic and see how your portions measure up.

Exercise

Exercise Anywhere
Exercise wherever you are able that fits in to your time and budget.

Do This: Select a place and time to exercise and stick to it.

Stay Motivated
Keep your routine on track by reminding yourself of all the benefits of exercising.

Do This: Recruit a training partner during the New Year to help you stay motivated.

Make it quick in the Beginning
Don’t get discouraged trying to complete long workouts in the beginning. Have a preplanned workout that can be done in a little time still providing a lot of great benefits including building cardio and burning fat.

Do This: Incorporate interval workouts like Hiit and tabata that can be done rather quickly.

Mindfulness

Increase Mindful Awareness
Mindful awareness is becoming aware of things we think and do automatically. This awareness changes our reality in the moment and can help us change patterns of thinking and being long-term.

Do This: Take some time after waking up to “become aware.” Bring awareness to daily routine activities, such as brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Start by practicing being “in the moment” for a few minutes at a time and increase as you get better.

Practice Gratitude and Living in the Moment
How many special moments are you missing because you are always looking for bigger or better? Gratitude and living in the moment will change your outlook and will present you with opportunities that you never knew existed.

Do This: Practice gratitude in short spurts throughout the day. Be grateful while you wait…standing in line or stuck in traffic. Pick a prompt to remind you to be grateful. You can even write down 3-5 things everyday (or night) that you are grateful for.

Increase Mindful Meditation
Mindful meditation is the act of focusing our attention on specific thoughts or sensations. Mindfulness techniques play a role in mindful mediation. Think of this as a concentrated, time limited, focused effort.

Do This: Practice mindful meditation for 5 minutes at least twice per day. As you get better, increase your minutes to 10, then to 15 once per day.

Sleep

Improve your Sleep Environment
The sleep environment is simply the space in which you attempt to sleep.

Do This: Once you have a consistent routine of where and when you go to sleep, practice improving the environment. Keeping the temperature between 65-75 degrees is ideal, wear comfortable sleeping clothes, remove all bright electronics and eliminate noise before you fall asleep.

Stick to a sleep schedule
This is a healthy sleep habit that helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.

Do This: Try to set a consistent bed time and wake up time that you can follow 7 days a week.

Improve Healthy Habits before falling asleep
Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Also avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime as the digestion alone can make it hard for you to fall asleep

Do This: Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals at least 3 hours prior to bedtime.



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FAQ

Q.
How much and how often should I practice mindful meditation?


A. While there is no gold standard for how long it is recommended to practice mindful meditation, experts agree that starting out with as little as five minutes per day can yield positive results. The key is to integrate mindful meditation into your daily routine. Some people find that practicing in the morning is a great way to start the day. Others find that practicing before bed is a great way to unwind and welcome sleep. As you practice more and more, you may want to practice more than once per day or for a longer duration. If you need help getting started, UCLA offers free guided meditations on their website.

Mindful Moment

With a new year comes a new opportunity to do things differently, to bring a mindful purpose or acceptance into each and every moment. This year, make an intention to become more aware of each moment that you are in.


Bottom Line

Practicing mindfulness, mindfulness meditation, and all other mindfulness-related activities can help you accomplish your goals in the New Year. Whether you are wanting to sleep better, be more grateful, or start being more mindful of what you are eating, taking the time to sit down and practice mindfulness for just 5 minutes a day is a great place to start.

Keep in mind that adopting healthier habits isn’t just something to do for a month or two until you get tired of it. Making small changes to your eating, exercise, and sleep practices will have big effects on your health and happiness. The key is to stick to it! Follow our tips above and pledge to be a healthier version of yourself in 2016.



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Featured Recipe: Healthy Whole Wheat Pancakes



These pancakes are a healthier take on the traditional pancake, but no one will know the difference! Greek yogurt is substituted for oil and whole wheat flour for white flour. These two substitutions alone add more protein and fiber, while reducing saturated (unhealthy) fat. Add some fresh fruit or a few chocolate chips if you want a little extra something special.

  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C quick oats
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 C skim milk
  • 2 Tbs. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • fruit (optional)

  • Mix flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and milk together. Whisk in brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix until no longer lumpy. Mix dry ingredients with egg mixture. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, drop batter about 1/4 cup at a time onto skillet. Cook until edges start to bubble and then flip and repeat. This will make about 7-8 pancakes.

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 8      Calories: 107      Carbs: 19g      Fiber: 2g      Sugar: 3g                Fat: 1g             Protein: 5g         Sodium: 742mg     


    Featured Exercise: Beginner Inversions


    Sources:
    Featured Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.
    Featured Exercise images from yogatreesf.com and stylecraze.com.