By Shannon Jones and Laura Del Guerra, Take Control Health Coaches

 

Hunting season is right around the corner, and preparing yourself and your equipment for hunting season increases your chance of success. Dietary indiscretions and inactivity can catch up with you quickly out in the field. Like any athlete, hunters usually have their own pre-season rituals, but here are a few tips to consider before heading out this season:

Get in Shape

  • Start getting physically active and increase activity gradually with walking, biking, swimming or hiking. Hiking with a light pack is the best exercise, as it mimics the hunting experience. Walk in public hunting areas, state parks, and state and national forests. Go off-trail, walk up and down steep banks, jump creeks, and push your way through brush.
  • Stretching after workouts can be helpful with improving your recovery and helping to prevent injuries.
  • If you are stuck inside, run or walk briskly up and down stairs, lift weights, and get the best workout that you can. You can use the local gym, or invest in a pair of dumbbells, stretch band or fitness ball. Find an online workout routine that combines both lower and upper body exercises. com has 10 Great Workout Routines for Western Hunting  and Outdoorlife.com has Your 12 Week Plan to Get in Shape for Elk Hunting Season

Fuel Up

  • There is no better way to start the day then with a protein and fiber. Look for healthy simple ways to include these into your breakfast. If you need ideas, webmd.com has a great article called Healthy Breakfast Ideas and Recipes
  • Hydration is especially important, and even when you do not feel thirsty; consume at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water. Consider a Camelback or other hydration device to meet your needs in the field.

Prepare Equipment:

  • Make sure your hunting equipment is in good condition. Get your gun sighted-in, and practice with it. If you are a bow hunter, this should be a year around activity to keep the muscles used strong and limber.
  • Take your binoculars and spotting scopes outside and make sure they are still clear and fog-free. If your eyes have changed over the past year, or you have a different vision prescription, it can drastically change the way things appear through a scope or through sights. Sharpen and oil knives and other metal tools that you will be using when deer hunting.
  • Check to make certain that your hunting clothes and boots still fit. Place your hunting boots into a tub of water to make sure they are still waterproof.
  • If you rely on an ATV, check or change the oil, check tire pressure, brakes, and make other recommended changes and adjustments.
  • Finally, make sure your hunting license is up to date, and all stamps are in proper order. Double check your hunting property for permissions, etc. You should have scouted before season and have these things lined up well ahead of time, but if not get it taken care of as soon as possible.

 

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By Linda Hogg, RD, LN, and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Stress is one of the biggest roadblocks that exists when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. It often keeps us from getting to what really matters in life, our health and wellness. We can try to exercise and eat right, but when we get overwhelmed with stress, we get distracted and tend to abandon any plans to put our energy into what truly matters: day-to-day action steps toward health and living well.

Stress roadblocks needs to be addressed head on. Otherwise, stress becomes common-place, never budging out of the way. Stress builds slowly, and since it creeps up on us, we may not see it building until it’s overwhelming. Before your stress builds so high that you’re paralyzed, use the following exercise to stay ahead of it.

Early in the morning, or by mid-day, make a quick list of today’s stressors. Divide a piece of paper into two columns: the first column is for things you have control over. The second column is for things you do not have control over. As you brainstorm today’s tasks, keep the process simple and quick. Examples of things you have control over include doing a chore, paying a bill, making an appointment – stressors where you can identify clear action steps, or that have simple solutions.

In the right-hand column, write down the things that you don’t have control over – only time could solve them, or possibly a decision or action by another person. The decision or action needed to make these go away would not be in your control. The uncontrollable stressors may consume your thoughts. They may even keep you up at night, when in fact, they need to be put to rest so you can focus on what’s controllable. If the list of uncontrollable stressors is overwhelming, take a moment to tear off that side of your paper, tear it up, and throw it away. Let it go for the day. Turn your focus to what can be wrapped up.

Ultimately, you need time to focus on what is controllable, and what actions steps you can take to chip away at those stressors. The practice of writing down your stressors makes them, well, less stressful. Often the list is shorter or more manageable than you imagine. If the list is larger than you imagined, take a moment to prioritize it. If you’ve over-committed your time for the day or the week, look for things you can reschedule or cancel.

When you take a few minutes to be pro-active with your stressors, you free yourself emotionally to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthy and exercising are two of the best ways to reduce stress. To get there, give this exercise a try. Take a moment each morning to inventory your stressors, and remove the roadblocks which build up if left unaddressed. From there, you can move on with what plans you have to make you more healthy!

 

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By Madeline Del Guerra, Take Control Staff

How often do you think about your feet? Most of us don’t give them a second thought until they start to hurt, but they are an important part of our overall good health. A change in your feet can be one of the first signs of a serious health problem. Feet (and other extremities) are the first to show signs of problems in your body, because when things go wrong, our body sends blood to our internal organs and brain first. Paying attention to your feet will allow you to get to know them well, and identify any problems sooner rather than later.

Summer is a great time to take care of your feet. Since we’re often wearing flip flops or sandals, they’re easy to notice. Summer weather can be hard on feet – the hot air dries them out, walking barefoot toughens them, and the moist, sweaty environment in shoes can invite fungus.

So while your feet are front and center this summer, take some time to examine them and pamper them. The following tips will help keep your feet in good health:

1. Soak: 

Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes. Use a large bowl or a bathtub with a chair in front of it. Fill with warm/hot water and add ¼ cup of Epsom salt. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which helps reduce inflammation and pain. You can also add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil(s). Peppermint or lavender are great choices.

2. Smooth

After soaking for 10-15 minutes, use a pumice stone and gently remove any calluses and dead skin. Rub the pumice stone in a circular motion over the pad of each foot and each heel. A pumice stone will exfoliate your feet without causing any harm. I recommend the “Trim” pumice which can be purchased at Walmart for around $3.00. It’s inexpensive, and delicate on sensitive skin.

3. Examine

Examine your feet and check for any cracks, cuts, blisters, or sores. If it’s hard to bend to see your feet, place a hand mirror on the floor to check your feet. Some symptoms of larger problems include sunken or marked toenails, no toe hair, foot cramps, flaking skin, numbness, morning pain, and sores that don’t heal. If you find any of these symptoms, or signs of infection, pain, or swelling, particularly if you have diabetes, schedule an appointment with a physician or allied health professional to have them checked.

4. Moisturize

Moisturizing your feet prevents calluses and painful cracks that can lead to infection. Apply 1-2 thin coats of lotion to the top and bottom of your feet. Do not apply lotion between toes, as the moisture accumulation can lead to infection. I recommend “Miracle Foot Repair Cream” by Miracle of Aloe. It’s available at Walmart or Walgreens for about $12.00.

Unresolved foot problems have unexpected consequences. For example, if your feet hurt, you’re likely to move less, and that could lead to weight gain. If your feet hurt, you may compensate and shift your balance in a way that leads to falling or creates pain in other areas of your body. So take the time to take care of your feet, your overall health depends on it.

 

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By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Ever find yourself saying, “I know it wasn’t good for me, but I ate it because I wanted to reward myself”? Sometimes we get so focused on achieving our daily goals, we forget to stop and celebrate in a way that actually supports the goals and healthy lifestyle we’re designing for ourselves.

Rewards are something we give ourselves to celebrate achievements, but also ways we maintain our motivation to continue our pursuit and practice of living healthy. When you reach a milestone, it’s important to reward yourself and celebrate your achievement, especially since milestones are typically set a few months out and require consistent effort to achieve. Just knowing that there’s a tangible reward awaiting can help you reach your goal!

The same as it is with setting goals, setting rewards should be unique to you and something you are willing to work for to receive. Be specific about the reward and make it something you really want.

Consider these suggestions for your next reward:

  • Buy the new workout jacket, running shoes, workout pants, or heart rate monitor that you’ve been eyeing
  • Get a massage
  • Buy a personal training session or a specialty exercise class that you’ve been wanting to attend
  • Plan a vacation or weekend getaway
  • Schedule a new adventure, like zip-lining or white-water rafting
  • Go to the movies
  • Splurge on the good seats to a concert performance
  • Get a manicure and/or pedicure
  • But a great book, album, or movie that you’ve wanted
  • Schedule a day off to relax and enjoy a good book or watch your favorite movie or TV show
  • Purchase dumbbells, a medicine ball, or resistance bands
  • Buy new tool(s) or supplies for your favorite hobby

Remember, every reward should be something you’re willing to work for; and should support the goals you achieve. Be creative – set a reward that is unique, exciting and motivating to you!

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By Julie Walker, Take Control Staff Member

 

If you’re new to Take Control, you may be wondering what you’re in for. The unknown can be intimidating, but we don’t want you to worry! Our program is designed to work with each person individually. This means that we’re taking each participant’s unique needs and goals into consideration.

Your initial appointment will be centered around identifying your needs and goals, and how you’re individually motivated. We’ll also try to identify obstacles and roadblocks to your goals. Once those things are established, you may get scheduled to meet with an exercise specialist and/or a dietitian. We’ve outlined the basic questions that come up with these types of appointments. They’re not scary or intimidating! Just another step on your journey to achieve your goals.

Exercise Specialist Health Coaching Appointment

Take Control lead health coach Shannon Jones explains the basics behind a coaching session with an exercise specialist. She says “our main goal is to build relationships with our clients so we can support them and their goals.” Shannon put together the following list to help you understand what to expect in an appointment with an exercise specialist:

  1. We will ask you about your current physical activity and exercise.
  1. We will not judge you, or have preconceived expectations.
  1. We will listen to you to find out how you feel about exercise, and to what level you already exercise, if any.
  1. We will ask you what you like to do.
  1. We will ask you what resources you have available, such as a gym membership, home equipment, a Fitbit, etc.
  1. We will ask you were you want to start, and help you take reasonable steps toward your goals.
  1. We will encourage you.
  1. We will help you make a plan that works for you, and that you can maintain.
  1. We will strategize and offer tools to help you make long-lasting, sustainable changes.
  1. We will evaluate your goals each month to make sure they are right for you.
  1. We will help you change your life, one step at a time.

 

Dietitian Health Coaching Appointment

 Take Control health coach Katie Delaney put together a similar list for coaching sessions with our dietitians. When people hear the word dietitian, it can sometimes invoke fear of scolding, judgment, or impossible standards. As Katie describes below, there is definitely nothing to fear! We are here to help, and to work within the parameters of what works for you:

  1. We will ask you about what you eat.
  1. We want to know honestly what your typical food day looks like.
  1. We will not judge you or have preconceived expectations.
  1. Knowing what you typically eat allows us to suggest possibly similar alternatives or improvements.
  1. You are free to take or leave these suggestions depending on your personal goals and preferences.
  1. We may talk calories, but generally our focus is quality.
  1. Keeping a food log can be a great tool to become aware of what you are eating.
  1. However, we are realistic and understand that a food log does not fit with everyone’s life.
  1. It’s important to ask yourself how your body feels, and learn to listen to the signals it gives you to identify what you really need.
  1. We will not suggest restrictive diets, cutting out food groups, or making impossible weight loss goals.
  1. We will give you facts and answer your questions.
  1. We have knowledge and resources to find accurate answers to questions to help determine fact from fad.

 

If you have any questions about any aspect of the Take Control program, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your coach or our main office are here to guide you and ensure you succeed!

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By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Alcohol is such an overlooked area of excess calories and unhealthy habits.  It’s so easy to be out with friends, having a great time and before you know it you’re a couple drinks in with excess calories that don’t match your health goals and piling on even more with some unhealthy food choices. Social events often come with heavy foods and alcohol all around.  If your health goals include the reduction of alcohol, try these tips to keep yourself on track and still able to socialize with friends:

1. Go in prepared – Eat something before you arrive so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach and the alcohol will be absorbed into your system more slowly.  If you’re cutting back to 1 drink per party as a goal, decide when you’ll enjoy it that evening and take your time – enjoy it.

2. Plan how to say “no thanks” – it will often make others’ feel uncomfortable if you tell them you’re not drinking for the evening. Especially if you’ve been part of the drinking crowd in the past. Drinking is such an accepted social activity these days that others will often self-judge their drinking if one of you suddenly changes habits.  Plan your response ahead of time – “It just doesn’t sound good to me this evening” or “No thanks, I just ate and I’m just too full to take in more calories.”   Prepare a response appropriate for you at each occasion. After using that at a few parties your friends will get used to it and stop questioning you about it. Avoid using the ‘designated driver’ title as your polite way of saying no – that statement creates self-judgement struggles of its own that can place your friends in a defensive position as well. 

3. Set a goal. Plan ahead. When you know you’re headed to an event where alcohol will be served, decide how many drinks you’ll have ahead of time. Having a game plan and sticking to it allows you the ability to enjoy the event within your own sense of moderation.

4.  Be picky about the party – with seasonal events, birthdays, weddings, summer BBQs, etc., there are often many social opportunities where alcohol is served. Do a quick assessment before you go, and ask yourself if the event will be any better if you drink while you’re there.  Drinking doesn’t always enhance the experience, so be selective about which parties include alcohol for you. If drinking doesn’t enhance the occasion, let the drinking go for that one.   

5. Drink slowly. Sip your drink or have “drink spacers”—make every other drink a non-alcoholic one, such as water, soda, or juice. Place a lime, straw, or umbrella in it so it looks more like something you ordered to keep others from thinking you need a drink in your hand.

6. Keep track – it’s easy to lose track of how many drinks you have at parties. Slide a napkin or toothpick into your pocket each time you start a new drink as a way to keep track.

7. Keep your hands busy – for some reason our hands always need something to do when we’re at parties. We feel uncomfortable if they’re just hanging at our sides or jammed in pockets. Hold a non-alcoholic drink like a glass of water, juice or tea in your hands. Consider holding a sweater or scarf in your hands as you chit chat – it could come in handy if the room gets chilly later in the evening.

8. Volunteer to help the host – Since there’s always plenty to do at parties, volunteer to help as another way to keep your hands busy. It’s a great way to mingle with guests and enjoy them before turning your attention to eating and drinking. You could be there for several hours, keep busy with more than just food and alcohol.

9. Avoid standing near the bar or food table – standing next to the bar or food table is the same as subjecting yourself to suggestive sales. When we see and smell food or drinks it can be a trigger to drink and eat when you’re really not that interested. Just find a different place to stand so it isn’t so suggestive to you.

10. Watch for peer pressure. We all fall victim to peer pressure and may have even been the source of peer pressure to others on occasion. Just remember, you do not have to drink just because others are, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept every drink offered. It’s just a party – the purpose of being there is enjoying time with friends so make sure that is your focus.

Be persistent. Most people who successfully cut down or stop drinking altogether do so only after several attempts. Setbacks can happen, but the process requires an ongoing effort and a fair trial. If one approach doesn’t work, try something else. Cutting out just 2-3 beers each week can add up to 12 per month – that’s a lot of calories!

 

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By Lindsay Watkins, RD, CLC, Take Control Health Coach

A weekend camping in the great outdoors is a great chance to get moving. Hiking, chopping wood, and even a quick swim can be great ways to stay active. Not only is it good for your body, but being outdoors can relieve stress and give us a much-needed break from technology.

Even though spending time outdoors can improve our health in several ways, it can make it tricky to choose healthy food options when camping. Hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, sugary drinks, candy bars, salami sticks, and chips – all foods that people have been eating on camp trips for generations. These treats taste good, but they also tend to be packed with sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats — ingredients that fall short of fueling us for physical activity, and make us crash later in the day. However, with a little planning and preparation, you can have healthy, delicious camp food that will keep you energized through all your activities.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Before going on your trip, make sure you plan and write down each meal, including snacks. This is very important, because once you hit the road, these choices are final. An organized menu also ensures everyone has enough food. Make sure to also write down and pack the correct cooking tools, plates and utensils, dish soap, paper towels, and cups. It’s usually a good idea to pack more than you think you need, just to make sure you don’t run out.

Pack the cooler with ice packs or large blocks of ice which last longer than smaller cubes. Or try freezing your drinks, which can act as an ice packs before they are consumed. Pack your cooler with harder, sturdier foods on the bottom; and softer, more squishable foods on top. Store non-perishables, even some fruits and veggies (apples, oranges, bananas, carrots) in a box or plastic container so they don’t get smashed.

Breakfast

Depending on your preference, breakfast can be simple or more complicated. Pre-measured bags of rolled oats are a great option, and can be easily cooked on a camp stove. Instead of dousing them in sugar, top with fresh or dried fruit, honey, and a few nuts for protein. Oats and nuts are both great sources of fiber, which will keep you fueled for your morning activities. Whole wheat pancakes (made from a mix to keep it simple) topped with yogurt, fruit, and pure maple syrup are another simple option. Eggs are easy to cook on a camp stove too, and are a great source of protein. Serve with lean turkey or chicken sausage and some chopped vegetables cooked in foil in the fire or on the camp stove. The veggie pack can contain potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, and whatever else you like. Chop and season the veggies, and add a little olive oil before you leave town to keep things easy. For a make-ahead option that doesn’t require any cooking, try overnight oats. In a small mason jar mix together ½ cup old fashioned oats with ½ to ¾ cup milk (depending how thick you like it), 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 2 tsp. honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Top with berries. This serves 1.

Lunch

It’s best to keep lunch simple and no-cook so you can continue with your daily adventures, whether that’s lying by the lake or climbing the local trails. Whole grain tortillas and pita are great options, which pack easily. Stuff them with nut butters and fruit, hummus and veggies, or tuna. Buy the tuna packed in pouches rather than cans for lighter packing. Snack plates can also work well for lunch – think whole grain crackers like Triscuits, lean deli meat, cheeses, olives, veggies with hummus, and fruit like grapes or apples. Salads are a good option too, but be sure to consume your greens in the first day or so before they spoil.

Snacks                      

If you’re out hiking or swimming, you’ll probably want to pack plenty of snacks, especially if you’re camping with kids. Certain fruits and veggies — such as apples, grapes, carrots and celery sticks are easy to pack, and a great way to sneak in some fresh produce. Try trail mix – separate ¼ cup servings into individual bags. Low-fat popcorn can be a good substitute for high calorie chips. Protein and granola bars are also options for easy snacking; just be sure to choose varieties that are low in sugar and preservatives. Or try making your own before you leave. Here are a couple ideas:

Peanut Butter Vanilla Protein Bars

No Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bites

Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

 

Dinner

For dinner, try beans, corn, brown rice, salsa, and Mexican spices in whole grain tortillas. Or use whole wheat pita bread to make easy pizzas — just add sauce, cheese, veggie toppings, and toast in a pan over a cook stove until the bread is somewhat crispy and the cheese has melted. For a healthier burger, try lean ground beef or ground turkey with avocado slices on a whole grain bun. Have your burger with some of the veggies from breakfast. You could also pack some premade pasta sauce and have with whole grain pasta and your favorite veggies. Add beans or precooked chicken for protein. Kebabs are another easy and healthy choice. Another option is to make your meals ahead of time. Chili, stew, or soups reheat beautifully. For dessert, try grilled fruit like peaches with a little honey and nuts (Or go ahead: Have a s’more!).

Stay hydrated!

Remember to drink water throughout the day, and it’s a general rule to pack a minimum of 64 oz. per person per day. Check in advance what water sources will be available and whether you’ll have to bring your own.

Sticking with your healthy diet isn’t hard, it just requires a little thought and planning. And you’ll still be able to enjoy the outdoors, fuel your adventures, and stay on track with your diet. You may not be able to predict what the weather will be, but at least you can count on having healthy delicious meals while you’re out in the elements.

 

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By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

I chose Meriem as our Person of the Month because of her positivity! Her outlook is not only the glass is half full, but she also figured out how to use the other half. Meriam showed bravery every step of the way – she was not afraid or intimidated to either lose weight or to stop smoking.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I was tired of being overweight, and tired of struggling to lose it by myself.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?  I wanted to get healthier for both my kids and for myself. I was always on the go, so I had no idea how to fit exercise or cooking into my lifestyle. I need someone to give me some guidance on how to fit everything into my life.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? Not only did I need to lose weight, but I was smoking to keep from gaining more weight. Smoking was my biggest obstacle, because I was so afraid that if I quit smoking I would gain weight. Enrolling in Take Control gave me the tools to take on both problems at once. I was able to quit smoking and at the same time work on losing weight. The combination of being able to do that really set things in motion.

What did you do to stay motivated? Change was really hard because I had such a routine in place. But once I started paying attention to what I was doing, I was able to bring a newfound intention and focus to my habits. That awareness allowed me to truly “TAKE CONTROL” and break the robotic-type of behavior and routine I had been following. Once I put the intention in motion, things got so much easier and easier. Once things got easier, the motivation really increased. Taking the time to stop and look at my habits, and choosing to tweak them for the better really empowered me.

What have you gained through this process? I gained a lot more confidence in myself, and the drive to do better, not only for myself, but also for my family.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? My attitude has improved, my happiness has increased, and my stress level has decreased.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? I would say try it! I was worried at first, but my health coach Kat eased that worry quickly. It didn’t matter if I had a good month or a bad month, she was positive and helped me gain confidence. Many weight loss programs want you to spend money for food, videos, or products. Take Control encourages you to work with what you have, and slowly add the changes into your life. But the key aspect was that you are a making the decisions throughout the process, not just doing what they say, you are in involved the whole way.

Results:

  • Stopped smoking!
  • Lost 33 pounds
  • Gained confidence
  • Improved attitude
  • Decreased stress
  • Gained mindfulness
  • Gained happiness
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By Madeline Del Guerra, Take Control Staff

After a long Montana winter, I eagerly look forward to the glorious summers. But I’m a natural redhead with porcelain skin, so I am extremely susceptible to damaging sunburns. I love hiking with our two Labrador retrievers and enjoying quality time at our cabin on Canyon Ferry Lake. But since being in the sun is pretty dangerous for me, I’ve had to really do my research on sunscreen, and find products that really work.

Whether you’re fair-skinned like me, or have an easier time tanning, when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays for a period of time, it can harm you. Besides sunburn, ultraviolet rays can cause aging, wrinkles, can contribute to skin cancer, and can cause cataracts. To prevent sun burns and damage, it’s important to use sunscreen.

Sunscreen can be purchased almost anywhere, and it’s tempting to grab the products on promotion or near grocery check-out lanes. But out of necessity, I’ve had to do a lot of research about sunscreens. I’ve had to make sure that they not only perform the way they state on the bottle; but also protect my skin. After lots of trial and error (including a few burns), I’ve found three great sunscreens that are both affordable and very effective. All three can be found at local stores such as Walmart or Walgreens.

Blue Lizard:
Blue Lizard sunscreen is a broad-spectrum SPF, mineral-based sunscreen that protects against the sun’s two most damaging rays, UVA and UVB. Additionally, it is water-resistant, so it is a great choice if you’re spending a day on Montana’s rivers and lakes. My favorite feature is that its packaged in a smart bottle that changes color when it is exposed to ultraviolet light to remind you to reapply when its time. Cost: $10 – $25

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist:
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen is a broad-spectrum SPF that contains Helioplex Technology, which essentially shields the skin from the UVB burning rays and the UVA rays that more rapidly age the skin. This sunscreen lasts for up to two hours before having to reapply and it is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. I like this sunscreen because it is a non-greasy spray formula that doesn’t contain the sticky residue that most spray sunscreens have. Cost: $8 – $25

Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion:
Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion is a broad-spectrum SPF that is a great choice for the delicate skin of the face and neck. I like this sunscreen is because it oil-free and non-comedogenic which means that it will not clog your pores. This sunscreen is especially great for people with sensitive skin because it prevents breakouts, and is sweat proof. Cost: $9 – $26

With vacation and summer outdoor activities, you’ll feel confident using these products. Especially if you have children or grandchildren visiting, you’ll want to make sure you have sunscreen on hand.

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By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Costco and Sam’s Club are great options for buying food in bulk, especially if you live in a rural area and make fewer trips to the store. Both stores offer a lot of healthy options that can be convenient and easy to integrate into a healthier lifestyle. This includes fresh fruit, veggies, frozen fruit and veggies, and fresh meat. Besides all of those great whole food options, they have many packaged and convenient items that can also fit your goals.

When buying in bulk, look for pre-portioned servings, or plan ahead to take the time to self-portion bulk items. Portion size is often the biggest struggle for many people. If you buy in bulk, it’s important to spend 10 minutes when you get home and portion out foods for the week or the month. This will save you time later on, and will help keep your eating on track. Products that you should portion out include snacks like popcorn, crackers, and nuts.

Items that you can buy pre-portioned include hummus and guacamole. Use as a dip with vegetables, or add to a wrap for great flavor. Since they are pre-portioned, they are quick and convenient. Another healthy pre-portioned product is chicken salad made with Greek yogurt, the brands are listed below. Prepare the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce with vegetables, add to a whole wheat pita, or eat with whole wheat crackers and a side of raw veggies for a quick and easy lunch.

When buying in bulk, and particularly with pre-packaged products, be sure to check labels for sodium content. Especially if you have high blood pressure. Watch the sodium in cured or packaged meats. How do you know if it has too much sodium? A good rule of thumb is to look for something with less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. And think about how you’re combining your ingredients — if you add another packaged component to your meal, then the overall sodium may really increase. Consider adding fresh vegetables in place of another packaged item. For example, Aidell’s chicken sausage is great with a side of steamed vegetables, or on top of a salad. Jerky can be a great on-the-go snack, but ingredients matter. The brands I’ve listed below use less preservatives and better ingredients overall. Yes, they still contain sodium, so balance it by including lots of fresh foods, and stay hydrated with adequate water.

When shopping in any grocery store, it is always important to compare products. Some labels look “healthier” than a similar product, but may in fact have more sugar or sodium. Take a minute to compare similar product nutrition facts, and review the ingredients. For example, when I was at Sam’s Club, I compared two brands of squeeze fruit and veggie packs: Gogo brand and Purify brand. Purify brand had a lot more claims on the label, making you think it was the healthier option, but in fact it had a lot more sugar. So the better option is sometimes the one you don’t expect. Other foods that you would want to compare include granola bars, snack bars, cereal, and any snack food. Below I’ve listed several good products to help guide you through the endless options.

Here is a list of products that can be found at each store to help make eating healthier an easier process:

Sam’s Club

Freezer Section
Member’s Mark Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Mahi Burgers
Gardenburger Malibu Vegan Burger
Morningstar Black Bean Burger

Dry Goods
Planters Single Serve Heart Healthy Nut Mix
Member’s Mark Freeze Dried Sliced Fruit
True North Almond Pecan Cashew Clusters
Natural Oberto Beef Jerky
Epic Chicken Bites
Good Health Veggie Pretzels
Pistachios
Harvest Snaps – Baked Snap Peas
Creative Snack Company Coconut Bites
Skinny Pop Popcorn
Popchips – Ridges Asiago and Black Pepper
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain 5 Seed Cracker
Annie’s Popcorn
Nature’s Bakery Honey and Oat Soft Baked Bar
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar
Gogo Squeeze Fruit and Veggie On The Go Packs
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
Member’s Mark Almond Butter
Dave’s Killer Bread

Refrigerated
Sargento Balanced Breaks
Sabra Hummus – Singles or Bulk
Yucatan Single Serve Guacamole
Chef Earl’s Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Babybel Cheese
Dietz and Watson Natural Turkey Breast

Costco

Freezer Section
Outshine Fruit Bars
Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Trident Pollock Burgers
Morningstar Veggie Burgers
Hillshire Farm Naturals Deli Turkey
Kirkland Plain Greek Yogurt

Dry Goods
Bare Apple Chips
Kirkland Unsweetened Almond Milk
Stretch Island Fruit Strips
Golden Island Natural Jerky
Crunchy Rice Rollers
Vega Protein Powder
Kind Bars
Caveman Nutrition Bars
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars – Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
Premier Protein
Nature’s Path Chia Seeds
Premium Gold Milled Flaxseed
Hemp Hearts
Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice
Nature’s Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola
Kirkland Ancient Grains Granola with Almonds
Mary’s Gone Crackers
RW Garcia Sweet Potato Crackers
Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries Granola
Tasty Bite Brown Rice and Lentils
Tasty Bite Madras Lentils
Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix
Kirkland Almond Butter
PB Fit
Adams Natural Peanut Butter

Refrigerated
Rotisserie Chicken Pieces
Good Foods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Good Foods Single Portion Guacamole
Kirkland Hummus Cups
True Story Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
Amylu Kale and Mozzarella Chicken Burgers
Aidell’s Chicken Meatballs
Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages
Teton Waters Grass-fed Beef Polish Sausages
Columbus Meats Smoked Ham and Turkey Breast
Love Beats Cooked Beets
Organic Hope Hummus

 

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