Wellness Week a wake-up call. Wellness Week is March 19-25, a nationwide initiative to get Americans, those terrible tourists, to take control of their health.
Across the country, gyms, fitness centers and spas are offering deals, some as much as 50 percent off their regular rates, to inspire people to try something new.
If you visit wellnessweek2012.com, you'll find an interactive map that seems to be a bit confused about where Colorado is. The map clearly shows us in the West, where we've kind of always been, but the participating centers are instead listed under the Midwest.
What does make sense are the seven steps to healthier living from actress Mariel Hemingway, who is the spokeswoman for Wellness Week. She offers them in the form of a pledge (source: SpaFinder.com).
Change my breakfast. I will kick off my day with a healthy meal that includes foods like oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, seeds, nuts and whole-grain cereals and toast. Medical research confirms that the simple act of eating breakfast every day is a key to losing weight — lots of weight. Breakfast skippers increase their bodies' insulin response, which increases fat storage and weight gain and the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Choose to move. I will walk more by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the store or taking a desk break to go for a five-minute stroll. Lack of physical activity kills. The medical evidence about the positive benefits of regular physical activity — and the costs of our increasingly cubicle-dwelling, couch-surfing, sedentary lifestyles could fill a library.
Hydrate. I will drink a glass of water before breakfast, lunch or dinner. While the old maxim about drinking eight glasses of water a day has been widely debunked (because we get much of our needed water from the food we eat, especially fruits and vegetables) — there is still no doubt that hydration is key to good health.
Connect with nature. I will walk outside, breathe more deeply and enjoy the outdoors for a few minutes each day. More than 100 research studies have indicated that outdoor recreation reduces stress, improves mood and leads to an overall increase in physical and psychological well-being.
Make my sleep a priority. I will build boundaries around my sleep by sticking to a set bedtime, and by not eating or working in bed. Our 24/7 world, with the ever-longer work hours and constant "plugged in" overstimulation, means people are getting less sleep than ever: The average adult sleeps fewer than seven hours a night, while research shows at least seven are needed.
Embrace the power of touch. I will recharge myself and others through the simple act of giving or receiving a hug, foot rub or five-minute massage. Many medical experts agree that physical touch is a primal human need, and yet, in Western (and especially, American) society, complex social rules often prevent us from the simple act of positive touch, and we've become a dangerously touch-deprived society. Some call it "skin hunger," and it affects everyone — with the elderly, the isolated and the ill being the most touch-deprived.
Give myself the gift of silence. I will find 10 minutes a day away from screens of any type — phone, TV or computer and enjoy the quiet. The sheer amount of time people now spend "plugged in," consuming media, wired to all kinds of gadgets, bombarded with communications and digitally multitasking, is nothing short of staggering. More scientists now believe that this endless time spent with the Internet, cellphones and TV is making us impatient, impulsive, forgetful, unfocused and even more narcissistic.
Don't make it St. Fatty's Day. Dublin coddle is considered one of Ireland's national dishes. But like many of Ireland's great foods, it is rich in fat.
Traditionally made with both bacon and sausage to flavor a base of potatoes and onions, Dublin coddle is an insanely good one-dish meal. And it would be a great choice for St. Patrick's Day. Assuming, that is, we can find a way to work it into a healthy diet.
Turned out to be easier than we thought.
We start by opting for leaner meats that still pack tons of flavor, including Canadian bacon, which actually is closer than American bacon to rashers, the variety of pork used in Irish cooking. Canadian bacon and Irish rashers are made from the back loin of the pig rather than the fattier pork belly used for American-style bacon.
For the sausage, we switched to chicken sausage, which is high in flavor, but generally has far less fat and calories than traditional sausage.
The herbs and seasonings already serve the meal well, so we didn't mess around with those. But we did add a few extra vegetables because, hey, we could all use a few extra servings of those. And for a final punch of flavor, we added apples and apple cider.
Alison Ladman, for The Associated Press
Start to finish: 1½ hours (30 minutes active). Serves 6.
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
6 ounces Canadian bacon, chopped
10 ounces chicken sausages (any variety), sliced into 1-inch-thick diagonal slices
2 large yellow onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 large russet potatoes, cut into thick slices
1 large sweet potato, cut into thick slices
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 apples, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and ground black pepper
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the Canadian bacon and sauté until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl.
Add the sausage to the pan and brown the slices on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the sausage to the bowl of bacon. Add the onions and garlic to the pan, then sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Stir in the sage, thyme and parsley.
Add the russet and sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and reserved meat. Pour the apple cider and chicken stock over everything. Cover and set over medium-low heat. Cook until the vegetables and potatoes are very tender, about 1 to 1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper.