Bummed + gun = suicide

Let’s do the math.

Utah consistently has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation—right now, we’re No. 4.

8 of 10 firearm deaths in the state are suicides (men, in particular, choose guns).

9 of 10 people who kill themselves were having behavioral “issues” shortly before death that may have tipped the family off to an impending tragedy.

Bottom line: If we reduce access to guns—at least when suicide-prone people seem to be emotionally struggling—it could have a dramatic impact on suicide mortality.

As a result of these stats, a state committee worked with the Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health to develop a strategy to address this problem in we-love-our-guns Utah. The solution may seem a bit underwhelming (hey, this is Utah): The state Bureau of Criminal Information will add a section to the required training for Utah’s a concealed gun permit that stresses suicide prevention. The state will also distribute posters and leaflets and post video PSAs, explaining the signs of suicide and what to do in response (lock up the guns!), to gun stores and shooting ranges and other manly places.

The strategy appears to be part of gun-rights groups nationwide trying undercut gun-control laws aimed at preventing suicides. Suicide is an area that gun rights advocates have a problem defending against—guns are not only very handy in places like Utah, but they are among the most lethal suicide methods—there’s no turning back after the trigger is pulled. Utah had 1,400 gun suicides from 2012 to 2014—less than 200 gun deaths were homicides.

The state’s new brochure, Is Your Safety On? includes the statement: “This [gun-suicide prevention] can be accomplished without government mandates. Together we can protect our families, our friends and our freedom.”

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“Firearm safety is one part of Utah’s comprehensive approach to suicide prevention,” says Kim Myers, Utah Suicide Prevention Coordinator, who says the new initiative, targeting gunstores and ranges, stands a good chance of reaching men in particular.

Here are some not-particularly-fun facts about why putting distance between a suicidal person and a gun is a no-brainer:

  • Guns are the most deadly method of suicide.
  • Suicidal crises are often brief.
  • 90 percent of those who survive a suicide attempt will not go on to die by suicide.
  • 48 percent said it was ten minutes or less from the decision to commit suicide to the attempt.

     

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK

Yoga Winner

It’s time to bend your way into shape

By Aly Peterson | Photography by Tess Comrie

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I love yoga because it can be an amazing workout and, as odd as this may seem, I always feel a sense of peace when I’m finished.

I enjoy stretching my body in new ways while building muscle at the same time. Feeling the need to challenge my usual yoga practices, I searched online for the perfect way to do so.  That’s when I found Plexus Co.—a company that focuses on “pushing limits, discovering what lies within each of us, and promoting inner peace, all while getting a good sweat.”

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To be honest, when I first saw the Plexus Yoga Wheel I was a little bit skeptical.

How much can a wheel really change your yoga experience?  It can only push you so far, right?  I was SO WRONG.  This wheel is killer!  Within a matter of a couple minutes I begin sweating bullets and pushing myself in ways I really didn’t know were possible.

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The Plexus Co Yoga Wheel has completely challenged my yoga experience.  The yoga wheel helps to open your hips, shoulders, chest and back.  The wheel is used to create a more intense yoga practice and acts as an aid to most poses. I notice it takes a lot more effort to balance certain poses and my stretches are pushed to the limit.

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You can find more ways to use your yoga wheel here.

Pictured is the 12” standard wheel in the color “Aurora”, but there are four different size options as well as four different color options.

All quotes used in this post are from the Plexus Co. website.

Fit to Recover

What’s your favorite cereal?

That’s the first question that Ian Acker, Corn Pops lover, founder and CEO of Fit to Recover, asked me as we sat in his office and chatted along with three beautiful, kind hearted, and VERY fit women who work for him. Acker believes it’s a way to break the ice and bring out the child at heart. Vulnerability, connection, and safe conversation are key aspects of the fitness and recovery center that has been open since January 2015.  The concept started with friends in a park and organically grew to include a full service gym, art, community, and food.

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Ian studied business and played soccer during his college years. Soon after graduation his addiction took over.  His experience overcoming this addiction and his love for people and physical fitness have helped him relate to others with addiction and gave him a passion for helping them find their own individual path to recovery.  His gift for connecting with people on a very personal level helps set the tone of the gym.  The honesty and love felt there makes anyone feel comfortable and safe. 

Physical fitness helps breaks down the mental and physical barriers that keep us from connecting and getting to the core of the problem.  At Fit to Recover people are able to talk during and after a training session about recovery and where they are spiritually, physically, and mentally in the long and very personal process. The organization has no tolerance for judgment, egos, shaming, or guilt.  When asked what is the most important message that he wants the public to know about Fit to Recover, Acker replied, “This is a SAFE place for people to recover and to develop connection through exercise, nutrition, service, and creative expression. No shame, guilt, judgment, or ego. Just encouragement.”

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Fit to Recover offers a variety of classes such as bootcamp, strength training, kettle bells, and yoga.  There are team sports like volleyball and softball to encourage fun, camaraderie, and team spirit. A variety of service projects are available, such as volunteering to feed the homeless which they do twice a month. Once a week for women in recovery can connect and relate to each other in a group setting.  There are also creative expression classes such as creative writing, music with a full audio recording studio, and newly added visual art classes.

On top of all of these amazing opportunities, there are classes called Food to Recover with a garden on site.  Acker’s sister, Tessa Acker, a registered dietitian currently traveling the world working in the field of nutrition, will join the team in October to help expand that part of the program. 

Visit www.fit2recover.org to get more information about how to get involved, donate, or attend a class.

Sugar Fix

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Who wants to give up a daily afternoon treat or a sugary afterwork cocktail? No one really wants to give up anything that brings them pleasure, but if you are reading this then you are interested in what is really going on with the controversy over sugar.

Sugar is a drug.

It’s addictive and causes major harm to the body when consumed in high volume. What is high volume you may be wondering?

Sugar is hiding in many foods you would never suspect such as yogurt, pasta sauces, dressings, and drinks. Sadly, even the “healthy” sugar options effect our bodies the same way and can cause harm. Over-consumption of sugar causes diabetes, tooth decay, and obesity.

The FDA recommends consumers limit added sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. That means eating no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, of it a day. The World Health Organization recommends only half that amount at 25 grams per day.

Ultra processed carbohydrates metabolize as sugar in our bodies as well. These carbohydrates are in almost every boxed food in a conventional grocery store. They have essentially already been broken down in the processing and very little digestion is needed. Therefore, they are absorbed quickly into the blood stream.

Fructose and sugar in all its many forms is similar to alcohol in the way it metabolizes in the liver, inflames the organs, and causes addiction. As Dr. Robert Lustig from UCSF correctly states in his 2009 lecture “Sugar: the Bitter Truth,” fructose is ethanol, but without the buzz…

Sugar consumption is controversial right now mainly because of the money involved in the industry. Many also feel as though everything they enjoy is being demonized and they resist. It’s easy to dismiss various scientific studies because one study says one thing while another says the opposite. Keep in mind that many “studies” are funded by people who want a specific outcome and pay to get it. Be mindful of where you get your information and be mindful of your own body.

Your body is trying to tell you how it feels and what you need to do to feel better. Start by counting your daily sugar intake. You will soon realize after just a few days why there is a war on sugar and how hard it is to get it below 25g per day in our food culture. Read labels and make the effort to reduce your sugar intake and particularly the sugar intake of your children. Rather than feeling deprived, you will soon feel healthier and will soon BE healthier.

Exercise: Love, Not Logic

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Exercise is like a steamy love affair for some of us.  In the beginning, we are enthusiastic and excited about something new. Our palms sweat and our heart rate goes up.  We show up with dedication and vigor. We get flushed easily. Then, things change. We make excuses for not showing up. We don’t see enough change. Frustration and disinterest set in.

We need to “marry” our dedication to exercise. When things get difficult, you have to persevere and be loyal. Change only happens with dedication and hard work. Just like in a long a happy marriage you must work to make it last. You must love unconditionally.

“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich. Listen to your body. It is always telling you something. Start off slowly and give your body some time to adjust.

“Commitment is the secret to lasting love.” Kishan S. Chauhan. Find a friend to exercise with and commit to always showing up. It is always good practice in life to make commitments and keep them.

Where there is love there is life.” Mahatma Ghandi. If you learn to truly love your exercise routine, your life will electrify along with your heart, body, and mind.

“Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.” Somaly Mam. Nothing happens on the path of least resistance. The amount your body heals, strengthens, and changes depends on the effort you put in.

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” Mother Teresa. The rewards of loving your body and the routine of keeping it healthy will be limitless and without any bounds.

Don’t approach exercise as if it is a fleeting affair. Commit!  Make exercise a priority, reassess your needs often, say no to negativity and the idea of perfection, have fun and don’t keep score!  Most of all believe in the power of LOVE.

Healthful Summer Road Trip

It’s time for a fun family tradition—the summer road trip!

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The car is packed with what feels like the entire house, and you’re ready to hit the road.  A couple of hours into the trip, and everyone is hungry.  Unless you have planned your stops perfectly, in towns that have many amenities and food options, there are very few healthful food choices along the road. Packing healthy snacks becomes crucial when trying to maintain a healthy diet on the road.   

Packing for a family vacation can be stressful and overwhelming.  Once the kids things are packed, there is hardly energy left to pack for yourself, much less make a grocery list, go to the store, and pack a basket full of snacks.  But if you don’t, regret sets in hours into the trip, as you search desperately for something healthy to eat. 

Planning ahead is the best way guarantee for healthy road trip food.  Note the number of days you will be on the road and estimate the amount of food you will need each day.  Make sure to have a basket or bag ready to pack full of delicious and healthful items, plus an ice chest along with ice packs if needed.

Also, don’t forget to throw in a packet of wet wipes for a quick and easy clean-up.  It may seem like a big investment to buy so many heathy snacks ahead of time but in the long run you will save money and your health when you aren’t buying from roadside gas stations and fast-food restaurants. 

The week before you leave buy nonperishable items such as no-sugar-added applesauce packets, nut butter packets, packets hummus or guacamole, dried fruit, jerky, nuts, low-sugar bars, and pretzels or crackers. The day before you leave get fresh fruits and vegetables that are easy to eat in the car, such as apples, clementines, grapes, bananas, snap peas, baby carrots and mini-cucumbers.

Make sure to have plenty of water and water bottles to refill along the road.  Stay away from excess sugar and salt. Drink plenty of water while you travel to help you stay balanced and hydrated. Your trip will feel more relaxing and will definitely be healthier with a little extra food preparation.

App Your Way into Shape

Our phones have not only become a main source of verbal and visual communication they have also become the main source of daily information.

Help yourself and get motivated by downloading a few apps that will assist in creating a more conducive mind space for exercise. Whether you are into music, books, games or goals here are a few that may help move you toward fitness success.

The 7-Minute Workout

If you say you have no time to exercise, YOU definitely need this app! I mean really! It consists of a workout in seven minutes with intervals of 30 seconds on and 10 seconds off. At the very least it will get your blood pumping and give you a burst of energy. I like to do it during the mid-afternoon lull when what I really want to do is nap.

Fit Radio

Over forty-five stations sorted by genre, workout type, and BPM (pulse rate). I love that there are play lists on this app that aren’t just high intensity tracks. There are playlists called girl power, Crossfit, yoga, cool down, and many more. Everyone in every level can find something they like to listen to on this app. If you’re like me, mixing it up with variety works best to energize me and improve my workout.

Map My Run

Whether you want to run, walk, hike or do pushups, this app will not only track your progress, but also offer many motivating options. It gives you a progress report at every mile, how long it took to go that mile and the overall workout time. At the end, you can save you workout information and compare as you improve. This app also offers music and bluetooth options to hook up to all of your gadgets.

My Fitness Pal

Tracking what we eat is an important lesson.  It is very time consuming, but if you do it consistently for even just a full week, it will shed some light on your calorie intake and eating patterns. This app is easy to use and is a great tool for this kind of tracking.

Overdrive

By far my all-time favorite motivation app. This allows you to connect with your local library using your library card to borrow audio books, e-books, and videos. Just download an audio book, for FREE, to your device and listen to it during your workouts. Super easy and fun!

Get Fit as a Family

After being stuck in the gym all winter long, I relish the first spring walks, runs, hikes and bike rides. Everything is renewed. The air is clean and smells of blossoms and foliage. The dewy mornings with their pink sunrises lure me outside as soon as the first light leaks through my windows. As the days grow longer, heat up, and the newness of spring fades, so does my enthusiasm to exercise.

Not only does my excitement wane, but summer schedules are filled with work, travel, and kids out of school and at home. To help counter these hectic times at home, make a goal to spend more outdoor time this summer as a family.

According to www.letsmove.gov, regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health, and lowers stress.

This site also references that kids need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, and one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to meet this goal is by playing outside.

  • Make yard work fun by setting up a yard obstacle course.
  • Pack a picnic and hike to a beautiful location for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Go on a treasure or scavenger hunt on a trail or through the neighborhood with a list of items to search for.
  • Pick up a family sport such as tennis, golf, swimming, or frisbee that everyone enjoys and commit to playing as a family once a week.
  • Bike, walk, or run to a destination that, as a family, you set as a goal.

I grew up playing tennis because my dad taught the sport for most of my childhood. There were many moments I just didn’t want to play. Now I am so grateful to my parents for incorporating me into their active lives in order to benefit me and set an example for my future.

No matter how busy life is, make an active lifestyle a priority. It will, no doubt, benefit your children’s current and future health and your own wellbeing as a healthy, active adult.

Summer Holiday Health

With Memorial Day just around the corner and the upcoming summer BBQs and vacations inching closer and closer, many of us are thinking about all the time for lounging, eating amazing meals, sharing drinks with friends, and the array of beautiful desserts that will vanish off our plate.

The holidays and vacations are meant for enjoying family and friends, as well as catching up on some rest and relaxation. These times are special and should be cherished. A break from your regular exercise and diet can bring a revitalized feeling back into your routine as long as you can keep stress at bay and your wits about you. Planning ahead can help ease the stress and keep your goals within reach.

Many of us spend Memorial Day weekend going to the beach, camping, BBQing and participating in other outdoor adventures.  Whether you are heading out of town or staying close to home, make it a goal to spend some active time outdoors and plan for good healthy BBQs to kick off an energetic summer season.

The closer you stay to your goal on a daily basis the easier it is to get back on track after you take a celebratory break from your usual diet and exercise routine.

Healthy meals in the summer are easy to obtain! Good quality chicken, fish and beef taste great brushed with olive oil, salted, peppered and grilled. Load your plate with grilled peppers, zucchini, asparagus and salad. Pack a picnic with fresh veggies, fruits, salads, nuts and lots of water. Definitely celebrate and eat some potato chips, potato salad and desserts, but try to fill up on the healthy items first.

Go outside and get your heart pumping! Set off on a cool mountain mid-day hike or sunset hike with an energy-packed lunch or dinner. Bike and run with friends or plan to play a sport together. Meet at the swimming pool or reservoir and get your body in motion. Sunbathing does not count as an active sport. Make sure to take those important moments to rest and relax.

And remember that the downtimes always feel better after times of exertion.

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5 Ways to Eat Out and Stay Healthy

I am still working on figuring out my love language, but when my husband comes home and says, “let’s go out to eat”, I swoon! By the end of the day there is nothing better than a reprieve from cooking a meal for the family.

Salt Lake City has recently received a lot of attention for the foodie culture that has been growing at an exponential rate over the last few years. The restaurants are plentiful, varied, and offer dishes at all price ranges, making them accessible to the masses.

There is one draw back to all of these plentiful, accessible, varied, and down right yummy options for food.  It is so much easier to succumb to unhealthy eating.

How can we enjoy eating out without over doing it and loosing control of a balanced diet? Good news! There are ways to do it. Europeans do it, so can we.  Here are five suggestions to help you make good choices for a healthy diet while eating out.

First things first, choosing the restaurant is key.

Check the menu before you leave home. Find a place where they don’t offer fried food, take the temptation away by not giving yourself the option. Pick a restaurant within walking distance if possible. Not only do you get exercise but it will make the whole dining experience seem leisurely and help slow your eating. The dining atmosphere also makes a big difference in how we consume. Eat at places that offer a calming and slow paced vibe. Enjoy every single bite!

Second, skip the fancy drinks.

The sugar that is added to many mixed cocktails will only give you a headache and add to your unnecessary calorie intake. Also, skip the sugary sodas and drinks, choose water instead. Drinking water before and during a meal will make you feel the sensation of being full faster.

Third, order a side salad first instead of an appetizer.

There are so many beautiful and varied salad options. Ask for the dressing on the side and be careful of the add ons. A side salad is best for you when you stick to the basics.

Fourth, make it your way.

Most restaurant will add and subtract from the items on the menu to suit your desire. Substitute a salad for a less healthy side dish. Request a lighter oil-based dressing instead of a cream-based option or request dressing on the side. Many restaurants now offer small plates which can add more variety without adding more food and you can share with the table. This also makes the dining experience more communal and slows everything down.

Fifth, skip dessert.

I know, for some of you, this might take all of the joy out of having a meal out. If you just can’t pass on dessert ask your server if they have small portion desserts or dessert bites, like a cookie or fancy chocolate.

Your love for dining out doesn’t need to be foiled by the fear of an unhealthy diet.   Staying strong and making good choices is the most successful way to feeling good and looking good too!

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