Today is Earth Day and, interestingly, many of the things you can do to help keep the Earth healthy can also help keep you healthy. We have compiled a short list of things you can do to protect the Earth and local wildlife that will also get you moving and eating better.
1. Click here to calculate your carbon footprint so you can understand what you can do to reduce the amount of energy you consume. The added benefit? Reducing your energy consumption can also help reduce your gas and electric bills.
2. Because cows, pigs, chickens and other animals require large amounts of land and resources to raise, eating lots of meat increases your carbon footprint. Reducing your intake of meat will not only help the Earth, it will also help reduce your waistline. Try small steps like eliminating meat from your lunches or by starting a once a week vegetarian night. Check out recipes here.
3. Eating local whenever possible can help reduce the amount of energy and resources needed to produce and transport your food. It also means you are supporting the local community. Head to the Farmer’s Market or hop on over to Southern Belle Farm in McDonough to do some fruit and/or veggie picking.
4. One of the things scientists have learned since last Earth Day is that some bat populations are at increased risk because of a new disease. (Ew! Bats! Who cares, right? Stick with us for a second here.) Install a bat house in your back yard to help conserve bats. In exchange, the bats will help you by eating those annoying mosquitoes that infiltrate your backyard in the summer and carry nasty diseases and parasites with them when they come. (I know bats are ugly. But if we can do it, you can do it!)
5. Plant a garden in your backyard. When you do the growing, not only do you learn new things about plants and get your body moving, you also get to control what chemicals you include or exclude from your food. If you have kids, teaching them about gardening is a great way to get them excited about fruits and vegetables and proud of what they have helped create.
6. Because of the way many neighborhoods in Henry County are designed, it is not always easy to walk to a local store or favorite restaurant. If you are one of the lucky people who lives within walking distance of a place you frequently shop or visit, ignore the desire to hop in your SUV to get there. Take the extra steps (or hop on a bike) for your health and save a little gas too.
7. Whenever possible recycle and/or compost. This can help reduce the amount of junk that accumulates in landfills each year, (Yuck!) and you can use the compost for your garden later. (Our tip: Freeze small scraps for the compost in a container in the fridge. When it gets full, take the frozen scraps out to the compost pile. This keeps you from having to keep old scraps in a container on the counter which can attract fruit flies and smell bad over time.) Visit georgiarecycles.org to learn more about recycling.
8. Take your friend, significant other or kids out for some fun hiking, biking, kayaking or canoeing in one of the local State Parks. Enjoy the time with nature and get your body moving. The Clayton County Wildlife Center (just barely outside the Henry County limits) is a great place to catch beavers, turtles, birds and occasionally some deer in their natural habitat. Some doctors are even recommending a little one-on-one time with nature for their patient’s health.
9. Don’t blast the AC this summer. Follow the recommended temperature and tips for energy conservation and use ceiling fans or standing fans in the room you are in to get the feeling of cool without all the waste of the AC. Check out some of Georgia Power’s other energy efficiency recommendations here.
10. Did you know that your old athletic shoes will sit in the landfill for years after you toss them? Gross! Look into Nike’s Reuse a Shoe program, which turns old sneakers of ANY BRAND into courts, playgrounds and tracks.
11. Get involved in Georgia Nature Conservation by volunteering to plant a tree, clean up a park or donating to nature conservation.
Erin Echols, daughter to Innovations owners Frank and Jeanie Thomas, spent most of her teenage years helping members at the front desk before graduating from Luella High in 2007 and heading off to college. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, Noah, where she is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Georgia State University. She currently serves as the voice behind the Innovations Twitter and Facebook accounts, and is online daily to answer your questions and to share tips, workouts and recipes with you.
Like most people who have never tried group exercise classes, I must admit that I entered my first Zumba class with a fair amount of fear and trepidation. Added to that was my complete lack of dance (or even coordinated movement) ability. But as the spouse of a fitness center owner and one who generally hates more traditional cardio exercise methods, I felt the need to try to support this new venture in our fitness center.
After several weeks of combating Zumba Anxiety Disorder (ZAD), I feel compelled to share my 12-step method of combating ZAD in hopes of helping those of you who also suffer from this common, dreaded disorder.
1. Give up worrying about what someone else will be thinking about what you look like. They are likely way too busy worrying about their own steps to worry about yours.
2. Don’t look in the mirror at first. You may psyche yourself out of continuing.
3. Get a partner to go to class with you and encourage each other. You can laugh with, not at, each other.
4. Have some water or a sports drink nearby. You will probably need it.
5. Don’t panic if you have to take it slow or stop at first. That’s better than passing out.
6. Don’t fret over being able to follow the moves exactly. Realize that the point is to get you moving – which burns calories and makes you healthier.
7. Believe the instructor, when she tells you that you need to just jump in and try to follow rather than having her show you every step one at a time. It will eventually come to you with repetition. Trust me, I am incredibly slow in catching on, but I find that with each session, I get at least one move down a little better.
8. Spend a little time at home between classes working with a Zumba DVD or Zumba videos on the internet. It will increase your confidence level.
9. Don’t think you are a pervert because you stare at the instructor’s behind. It actually helps you to learn to move yours.
10. Don’t listen to anyone else who puts down your efforts. This is about you, and any critics are likely closet ZAD sufferers.
11. Sticking with it is the only way to be cured from ZAD!
12. Loosen up and enjoy yourself! Take it for what it is – a fun way to get fit. Nobody is going to be talking about how inept you were at Zumba steps when they do the eulogy at your funeral.
Jeanie Thomas, a licensed social worker by day, owns Innovations Fitness in McDonough, GA, along with her husband, Frank. Fellow ZAD sufferers can receive encouragement from her via their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/innovationsfitness or come to Innovations Fitness for a Zumba class where you will likely find her in the back looking goofy.