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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapists, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Check out a great site to check the calories of your foods via Calorie Count here. According to the site,  you can use Calorie Count in one of two ways:

Diet Your Way

Calorie Count doesn’t prescribe a particular diet. Eat any foods you want as long as you burn more calories than you consume.

Get Help from Friends

Motivation is very important in dieting! Get support and encouragement from our community to stay on track – permanently!

The Calorie Count Website gives you some basics about nutrition that should help you get started no matter what your  approach to dieting and fat loss. Read the following excerpts from the website below.

What are calories?

Calories are the amount of energy that is produced by a given quantity of a food. Calories are supplied by the carbohydrate, protein, fat, and alcohol in food.

Why count calories?

Fact: When you eat more calories than you need, you gain weight. The wild card is determining what you need because there are so many variables. In general, an individual needs only the calories he is able to burn. You can maintain a healthy weight by matching the calories you take in to the calories you burn day-after-day. You lose weight by taking in fewer calories than you burn.

Counting calories is a real eye-opener. Research shows that most people don’t realize how many calories they eat. They don’t see the extra calories that come from large portions and from high fat foods.

As a weight loss method, calorie counting doesn’t give you rules about what, when, and how much to eat. The only recommendation is to have a balanced diet of the foods you prefer within your calorie requirements. Calorie counting induces people to adjust their food choices, portions, and physical activity to reach their calorie goals.

Diet & Nutrition Tools from Calories Count

Diet  Profile

Determine Your Diet Profile
Take our test and learn about your food habits
Cell Phone

Nutritional Info on Your Phone
Use your cell phone to analyze foods on the go
BMI Tool

BMI Tool
Determine your ideal weight
Burn  Meter

Burn Meter
Learn your calorie burn profile

Food & Recipe Databases

Food Browser

Food Browser
Browse our database of 109,000 foods
Recipe  Browser

Recipe Browser
Browse our database of 362,000 recipes
Recipe Analyzer

Recipe Analyzer
Get the nutrition facts on your favorite recipes
Unit  Converter

Unit Converter
Convert common kitchen and dietary measurements

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Cat massage!

Although I no longer have cats, I do enjoy a good cat massage! (And a good laugh!)

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I have to come clean and admit it, I am an Android user. Although I love Mac products overall, the iPhone’s marriage with AT&T did not sway me away from the clearer phone connections and fewer dropped calls I get from Verizon. (And, no, Verison is not paying me to say this!  I used to use Cingular (now AT&T) and had to switch to Verizon to save my business when I dropped a client call 4 times using Cingular.)

I know some of my clients do have iPhones so a while ago, I posted about Iphone apps that help you get healthy here. But what about us Android users? Mashable.com, a top social media guide, has a great list of the top 8 Android Apps for health and fitness. Here’s a brief summary of their list. Go to the original blog post to read more here including info on cost of the apps and screen shots of each app.

Cardio Trainer Screen Shot

CardioTrainer + Racing–combining two apps to help motivate you to run a better race. Cardio Trainer can be combined with a weight loss app as well.

Fast Food Calorie Counter-let’s you find the healthiest choices from among Fast food options. This app provides calories, fat grams, fiber, carbs and protein for 72 fast food restaurants. Watch the video review here.

Endomondo Sports Tracker–tracks time, distance, speed and altitude. it also gives you a history of your workouts. This app also integrates with Googlemaps making it a great resource for runners, hikers and those out for a fitness adventure!

Calorie Counter by FatSecret–this app provides calorie and nutrition facts. It incorporates a bar code scanner to help you find the healthiest food options and calculates the recommended daily intake to help you achieve your fitness and weight goals.

AllSport GPS– this app lets you track your routes, distance covered, time your speed and even the calories you burn when running or hiking. The app also provides you with maps, virtual races, down loadable routes and elevation info.

Beer Gut Fitness–this app tells you how many calories you consume with each beer or glass of wine and how much exercise and what type of exercise to do to burn those calories!

Absolute Fitness–an app that combines the best of all apps and lets you track your food intake, exercise routine and monitor your fitness goals.

and finally, my favorite app:

Backpacker GPS Trails
–this app acts as a hand held trip database and personal navigation gizmo. use it to track your own hikes, geotag photos and videos, share your trips with others. it provides you with download maps to find trails that include thousands of trips taken by Backpacker magazine.

Read the entire list with screen shot pics, pricing and app size info at Mashable.com here.

For 101 Great Android Apps, go here.

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30 Days of Gratitude- Day 1
Image by aussiegall via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Remember the old adage, to “count your blessings” as  a tool to feel better about your self and your life? Did you know that maintaining an actively grateful personality can actually provide stress relief?

Robert Emmons at the University of California, Davis and Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami have maintained a study that attempts to help its participants develop methods to cultivate gratitude in daily life and assess that gratitude’s effect on well-being. They say of the project:

“Gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research.  We are engaged in a long-term research project designed to create and disseminate a large body of novel scientific data on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being. Scientists are latecomers to the concept of gratitude.  Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being.  Through conducting highly focused, cutting-edge studies on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its consequences, we hope to shed important scientific light on this important concept.”

In the research, the scientists had all participants keep diaries of their lives. One of the groups was instructed to specifically look for the positive things that had happened to them that day, and one was instructed to keep a diary as they normally might. Emmons and McCullough discovered that their participants showed a clear correlation between those who kept a “gratitude journal” and a number of positive factors, including exercising regularly, reporting fewer physical symptoms, feeling better about their lives as a whole, and feeling more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.  Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

Not convinced? They also reported that a daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).

Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com’s Stress Management Guide, reminds us that “although we are born with specific tempermental tendencies, the brain is a muscle, and you can strengthen your mind’s natural tendency toward optimism if you work at it.”

Scott offers some helpful suggestions for how to encourage gratitude in your own life:

  • Make Gentle Reminders – When you notice yourself beginning to feel negative, try to think of 4 or 5 related things for which you are grateful.
  • Be Careful With Comparisons – Focus on yourself, and stop comparing what you have and do to other people.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal – Make it a habit to remind yourself of good things that happen to you every day.

Sue’s Gratitude List

I notice that when I am more consciously grateful of all the good things I have in my life: my family, my friends, my work, my clients, my health, my ability to travel and hike and see wonderful natural beauty as well as the Internet and all the “Dick Tracy” gizmo’s we now have to entertain and communicate, I have much better days and a happier demeaner!

I am grateful you are reading my blog!  Start your own gratitude list today and see how you feel. Just list 10 things you are grateful for. Share them with us in the comments if you feel inspired!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Hiking up the rocky "steps" is a great workout

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to spend a few warm summer-like days in Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Dells. When I was  a child, my family used to take me and my brother to the

Dells and I have fond memories of lakes, hiking, go carts, haunted houses and, of course, Tommy Barlett’s water show with water skiers skiing in human pyramids.  Visiting again now so many years later, “the Dells,” as they are known to the initiated, are now a haven for water parks and other amusements. However, my man and I are always up for a bit of nature and hiking so we soon grew tired of the amusement park strip and headed to Devil’s Lake to hike up and down what we think of as a mini Yosemite, Devil’s Lake. Like much of Wisconsin, this region was created by glacial formations and so has a lot of very rocky terrain and tall cliffs to hike and rock climb.

The day we were at the lake, March 31, the weather was warm, about 75 degrees F, and we saw kayakers out on the lake as well! Many families and couples were out that day. We hiked from about noon to 6pm and at sundown the views of the lake from high on the cliffs were spectacular. I’m sharing some of our pics from that day’s hike to help entice you to make your own journey to this beautiful natural park, unusually hilly (I’d say Mini-mountains is more like it) for the Midwest.  You don’t have to go far to find cliffs and rocks and lakes–Devils’ Lake is just about 3 hours Northwest of Chicago, about 30 minutes North of Madison, WI.

For info on Devils’ Lake, click here.

For directions, click here. Devil’s Lake State Park address: S5975 Park Rd., Baraboo WI 53913-9299 Phone (608) 356-8301

Fees

For an out-of state resident, a one day pass is $7. For an out-of-state annual pass, it’s $35. Camping is available at Devils Lake as well, click here.

View of Devil's Lake from East Bluff nearly at the top of the cliff

As we started our hike, we met one of the Park’s “rangers” as he and his companion started off on a kayaking trip around the lake.

What a great job! Manage the Park and go kayaking at lunch!

The water was cold, but soon will be a great place to swim!

The day we went was a pretty windy day, so you mostly hear wind instead of the relaxing waves lapping at the shore, but this short video gives you a nice view of the lake from the water’s edge.

While we were hiking, we passed several groups of people practicing their rock climbing skills on walls of rock.

Rock climbers taking a break

We spent 6 hours hiking up and down different areas of the East Bluff Trail. The hike was fairly strenuous in parts because we choose routes that took up up and down the rocks to really challenge our cardiovascular systems and of course our calves! (Which were good and sore the next day)

No, this is not Yosemite, California, it’s Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin!

Sundown at Devil's Lake, WI

And at the end of our long day hiking, instead of relaxing in a nice jacuzzi, we decided to head over to the indoor waterpark Mount Olympus at Hotel Rome where we were staying. We spent two more hours climbing up and down stairs so we could slide down long winding water slides. In one day we gave our bodies and our minds a lot to enjoy!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

One of our most popular posts is our post about NASA’s Top Ten plants to help clean your air here. You might already think that having a small plant at your desk is a pleasant aesthetic choice, but now you know that it actually will help keep you healthy as well!

“Indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold related illnesses by more than 30%,” explains Dr Tove Fjeld of Norway’s University of Agriculture. NASA scientists have also found that plants in the office combat air humidity problems and absorb the pollution from computers, carpets and perfume.

A hearty desk plant can help improve the health of your office.

Megan Cohen at Planet Green has some suggestions for even the worst gardeners:

Spider Plant
Spider plants are happy with watering just once a week, and do well in moderately cool places, which is good news if you’re in an office where air conditioning is just part of the daily deal. They do best when they’re near a window so that they can get some natural light, but don’t put them right in the path of very strong sun or the leaves will freak out and start turning brown. Spider plants like it mellow.

Jade Plant
Jade plants can keep growing for decades, which definitely tells you something about how tough they are. Much like the parrot on the shoulder of a pirate, there’s a chance that your jade plant might outlive you, but chances are, it’ll just be a cool, laid-back partner in crime and will keep most of your secrets.

Peace Lily
These elegant white flowers only need watering about twice a week and have an exotic look that belies how easy they are to handle. Most flowers need a lot of sunlight to fully bloom, but peace lilies still put on a show in low-to-middling lighting conditions, which makes them optimal for bringing a little eye candy to a dingy cubicle.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

One of my favorite things about today’s constantly evolving technological landscape is the awesome ways companies are starting to incorporate health concerns into their products. With all of the iPhone apps out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Luckily, Meghan Ahearn from Woman’s Day Magazine has compiled a list of her favorite top 10 health apps. Have a look at the top 5– see if any of them will work for you!

  • Lose It!
    Set your daily calorie goal and stick to it with this helpful program that allows you to track your caloric intake and burn rate. Using the searchable database, you can log the foods you eat throughout the day and subtract calories burned during exercise. Users love that they can tally and save nutritional info for recipes they make most often. Free; Apple.com/iTunes

  • iWatchr
    Weight Watchers devotees, listen up: Now you can tally your daily food points with ease with this tool that allows you to calculate points for the meals and snacks you intake throughout the day. Users love the convenience of tracking their points without referencing the Weight Watcher’s site, and that it combines the food journal and point slider in one convenient package. $0.99;Apple.com/iTunes
  • Nutrition Menu
    This app boasts the largest freestanding nutritional information database on the market. You’ll find the calorie, fat, carb and fiber counts for over 79,000 food items—all without connecting to the Internet! Plus, you can track your daily food intake to see the number of calories you’ve consumed. $2.99; Apple.com/iTunes

  • iBody
    Recently honored with a Mobie Award for best app in the Healthcare and Fitness category, iBody allows you to record and keep on top of the most important health factors for your body: weight, blood pressure, pulse rate and BMI. Use it to track your weight loss or maintain a healthy blood pressure level to ensure you stay in the best shape possible. $9.99; Apple.com/iTunes
  • GoodFoodNearYou
    There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in an unfamiliar location and not knowing where to score good grub that’s also good for you. This app takes all the guesswork out of it by recommending nearby healthy food options based on your current location, which is tracked via GPS. We think this one would come especially in handy during road trips or on those late nights when you’re unsure which restaurants are still open. Free;Apple.com/iTunes

For the rest of the list, visit 1o Top Diet and Fitness Web Apps.

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