Wise and Well in West Carroll Jan 2015

Jennifer Moran, Seay, Brittney, Stewart, Monica, Robinson, Carolyn, Garner, Bruce W., Legiandenyi, Thomas N.  |  1/26/2015 10:18:56 PM

Squeeze in Exercise

By: Monica Stewart, Extension Agent

The number one excuse for not "working out" is simply lack of TIME. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, family get togethers, Christmas parties and multiple priories it IS often a challenge to find the time - no denying it.. The key, however, is not to find time but to MAKE TIME. And the motivation for doing is be-cause YOU deserve it! Squeezing in just a few minutes of physical exercise a day has huge benefits on your health, gives you energy and perks up your mood. In fact, recent studies have shown that if inactive people increased their physical activity by just 15 minutes per day, they could reduce their risk of premature death by 14% and increase their life expectancy by three years.

Also, remember that "working out" doesn't have to happen in the gym or last for an hour! Short bursts of exercise accumulated over the course of the day can add up to big fitness and health benefits. So how can it be done? Here’s how to start fitting physical fitness into your busy life today:

Practical Tips to Fit In Physical Fit-ness

1. Wake up earlier. Sleep is definitely important for overall health, but could you hit the sheets just 30 minutes earlier, so that you could get up and work out before your day starts? Working out in the morning has numerous benefits including regulating appetite, boosting energy and—perhaps the biggest benefit of all—an A.M. sweat session ensures that your workout is checked off first thing each day!

2. Cut down on media. For just a few days, record how much time you spend surfing the Internet, checking personal email, watching television and playing video games whether it's on your computer or your phone. You just might be surprised at how much time you spend on Facebook or playing Angry Birds. Just a few minutes here and there can add up to an hour or more each day. Cut out just some of that screen time and, voila, you suddenly have time to squeeze in at least 10 or 15 minutes of exercise into even the busiest day.

3. Be an active TV watcher. It's unrealistic to never watch TV or to shun the Internet forever. So when you do, try to incorporate some physical activity. When watching TV, make it a point to do some jumping jacks or push-ups during commercials. Doing a little exercise during the commercial breaks can add up to almost 20 minutes of fitness for every hour of TV you watch

4. Make it part of your routine. One reason it's so challenging to fit exercise into a busy schedule is because we're not used to doing it. It takes time to brush your teeth in the morning, but you do it, don't you? You brush your teeth every day because it's important and because it's almost second nature to get up and do it. Start making some form of exercise—whether it's walking the dog, doing 10 minutes of yoga or going for a bike ride after dinner—a daily tradition, just like showering, brushing your teeth or hitting the coffee shop on the way to work.!

5. Mix socializing with exercising. Do you normally spend time with your family or friends by going to dinner, watching sports on TV or going to movies? Make your social time more active by planning events that get all of you moving. Go for a family hike on a beautiful Saturday morning, play a game of tag football with your buddies during halftime, or make a date with your significant other or friend on the treadmill. There are so many options for squeezing more activity into your social calendar!

6. Turn chores into exercise. While cleaning might not be the most fun activity, it's something we all have to do, and it can definitely be a workout if you want it to be. Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes and see how much of the house you can clean. Try to be as efficient and quick-paced as possible and I guarantee you'll work up a sweat.

7. Schedule an appointment. If you had scheduled a doctor's appointment, you wouldn't miss it would you? How about that important business meeting. Of course not. Working out is actually as important as going to the doctor or any other obligations that you prioritize, because  it helps you perform better as a worker, parent, student or volunteer and keeps you in tip-top shape. So whether it's scheduling in an hour to go to that group exercise class, investing in personal training sessions or even making a date with yourself to do that workout DVD or your lunch break, write in pen in your calendar and treat it like any other appointment you can't miss!

8. Find an activity you love. Think of your favorite hobby or pastime. Do you have trouble finding time to do it? Most likely, you make time for it because you enjoy it so much. It's the things we don't enjoy that we put off and don't feel bad about missing. That's why it's best to choose a physical activity that you actually enjoy and look forward to. Not only are you more likely to do it, but it also adds more fun into your life. And we all could use some more fun in our busy lives, right? 

9. Say no. If you've gone through this entire list of tips and don't think a single one will work in your life, then it's time to look at your priorities and responsibilities. Do you really have to bake cookies for that fundraiser? Babysit for your sister? Take on that extra project at work? Attend that wedding shower of your second cousin? Remember that there's nothing wrong in saying no. Yes, we all have obligations to others, but don't forget about the obligation you have to yourself to take care of your body and your health! Remember, exercise gives you energy and keeps you healthy to keep going in that busy life of yours! So don't think of exercise as another to-do to squeeze in on your already busy schedule. In-stead, think of it as maintenance for your health and a way to de-stress and do something for you! (Article Adapted from Spark Peo-ple.com)

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

By: Jennifer Moran

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? Every year many people begin the year with a long list of things that they intend to change. Yet every year, by the beginning of February, these resolutions are forgotten. There are many things that contribute to resolutions failing. Below you will find some hints that will help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions.

Set attainable goals – It is important to set goals that are attainable. Many people are easily discouraged and if they fail to meet their goal quickly they give up. It is imperative when setting a resolution to begin small. For example, if you would like to lose thirty pounds, it is better to set a smaller goal such as losing five pounds in six weeks. Many people look at the big picture and if they have not lost thirty pounds in a month, they tend to lose interest, how-ever if after the first week they have lost a pound and their goal is five pounds they see that they are having success and continue to work towards the goal.

Have a set plan – Once the goal is set, you must have a set plan. What are you going to do to reach your goal? Plan the steps to reaching your goal. If you are planning to lose weight, what are you going to do to reach the goal? Write your plan out so that you can stick to your plan.

Monitor your progress – Check in with your-self on how you are doing with your plan. A good way to keep up with your progress is to use a journal daily. You can go back every couple of days and read your progress. This can help you to stay motivated to continue your activities.

Starting over – Everyone has days that aren’t as good as they should be. Start over when you know you have made a bad choice. It is best to move on and keep trying to reach your goal.

Reward yourself – Treat yourself when you reach your goals, even the small ones. This will help to keep you motivated to reach your goal. You may want to have a reward worked in to your plan for meeting your final goal.

Walking for Your Heart

By: Brittney Seay

Physical inactivity increases the risk of many chronic dis-eases, such as coronary heart disease. This risk factor can be decreased by simply going for a walk most days of the week. One of the most effective forms of physical activity to achieve great heart health is to walk. Walking does not require any special skills, it is safe, free, and requires no equipment! The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). 30 minutes a day, five times a week is an easy way to remember and accomplish the goal! So, let’s start the New Year off right and walk together for a healthier LIFE!

Heart Healthy Green Bean Casserole (Serving Size 8):


1 pound frozen green beans, thawed (French cut is best)

1 -10.5 ounce can reduced-fat, low-sodium, cream of mush-room soup

½ cup low-fat sour cream

½ teaspoon pepper

1 small onion, cut in to thin sticks

Cooking spray

¼ cup whole wheat flour


1. In a 9x13 casserole dish, combine green beans, soup, sour cream and pepper. Stir until well mixed and bake for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. While casserole bakes, spread out onion sticks and lightly spray with cooking spray.

4. Sprinkle flour over onion pieces, tossing to coat equally.

5. Spray a medium-large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until crisply, stirring occasionally.

6. Remove casserole from oven, add ½ onions and stir well.

7. Top with remaining half and return to oven, bake 5 minutes more.


Food Safety Tips for The Holidays

By: Carolyn E. Robinson

The holidays are fun and joyous occasions when family and friends get together for parties and food galore! The last thing you want to invite to your party is food-borne illness. Use the following tips to keep your family and friends from becoming sick. Don’t let bacteria (germs) crash your holiday parties.

Bacteria (germs), viruses and parasites are every-where in the environment! They are organisms that you cannot see, smell, or taste. In fact, they can contaminate food and cause life-threatening illness. Foodborne illness (food poisoning) can strike anyone, especially young children, pregnant women (it endangers their unborn babies too), older adults, and per-sons with weakened immune systems.

Leftover turkey and other dishes means you can have more tasty meals the day after your feast. But there are limits on how long you can safely keep leftovers. When heating and storing leftovers keep the following in mind: Refrigerate cooked leftovers promptly -within 2 hours; use an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator to keep your refrigerator at 40 degree Fahrenheit or below; divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator; wash hands with warm water and soap for 15 seconds before and after handling food; reheat cooked leftovers to 165 degree Fahrenheit; use a food thermometer to measure the temperature; sauces, soups and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil; when microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking.

Recycling the Christmas Tree

By Thomas Nyatta Legiandenyi

As the festive season draws to a close, the holiday decorations are packed and kept safely for the next holiday season, but the Christmas tree is dumped or burned down. One acre of Christmas tree farm produces enough oxygen for 18 people a day, provides habitat for wildlife, prevents topsoil erosion and also provides income to the farmer; however, used Christmas trees disposed of into ditches and rivers may result in flooding by blocking the flow of rivers and streams which can be very costly to clean up.

Many cities have Christmas tree recycling programs. Christmas trees can be recycled into wood chips. Trees are typically collected during the first week of January on your garbage pickup day, most of which end up in the land fill. If, on the other hand, they are not collected with regular garbage, the temptation is to dump them into the nearest ditch. It need not be so, for these trees can be chipped into mulch which provides great environmental benefits such as retaining moisture on your yard plants. You can chop your own Christmas tree into mulch, which becomes a good source of soil nutrient enrichment to your yard.

Maybe this season instead of burning your Christmas tree or dumping it into the fishing pond you could consider recycling your tree. By recycling we can extend the service-life of the local landfill.

Cover crop, soil health workshop set for Jan. 21 in Winnsboro

By Bruce Garner

The LSU AgCenter will hold a workshop on cover crops and soil health on Jan. 21 at the Ma-con Ridge Research Station.

Registration and refreshments will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Tom H. Scott Extension and Education Center, which is located at the station. The workshop will start at 9 a.m.

Beatrix Haggard, AgCenter soil specialist, said discussion topics will include:

— Cover crop selection and management

— Fertility benefits from cover crops

— Disease, insect and weed management

— Cover crops in pastures

— Natural Resources Conservation Service programs

— Round-table discussion

A field tour will take place if weather permits. Lunch will be provided at noon.

This event qualifies for Louisiana Master Farmer Phase II and continuing education credit.

The Macon Ridge Research Station is located at 212 Macon Ridge Road, off La. Highway 15 south of Winnsboro. For more information, contact Haggard at 318-498-2967 or BHaggard@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Prune Crape Myrtles The Right Way
By:  Bruce Garner

It's late fall in Louisiana, and this is the time when people think about pruning plants in the landscape.  On of the most commonly pruned plants in Southern landscapes is the crape myrtle.  It is also the main plant in Southern landscapes that is pruned incorrectly.

As we say each year, crape myrtles need only occasional pruning to obtain the desired landscape effect.  But many times these plants are pruned incorrectly because, we assume, home gardeners and industry professionals do not know the right way to prune them and do not realize the consequences of improper pruning. 

An unfortunate trend in crape myrtle pruning is to "lop off the tops", which results in a crew-cut appearance.  The lush growth that occurs at these cut sites appears vigorous but is actually structurally weak and is more susceptible to fungus diseases such as powdery mildew.  Worse yet, when pruning is done improperly over several seasons, unsightly large, swollen knobs form at the pruned locations.  Some folks refer to this pruning method for crape myrtles as "crape murder".  Southern Living magazine even hosts a "crape murder" photo contest each spring.

While crape murder does not actually kill a tree, why are these most popular, small, flowering trees pruned this way?

The method of cutting back the main branches of a tree to the same spot every year is called pollarding.  This pruning method is used on some types of trees in certain situations and tends to be more common in Europe than America.  But it's not appropriate for crape myrtles.

A gardener should understand, however, that the life of a crape myrtle is shortened and the natural beauty of the tree is destroyed by this pruning technique.  If gardeners understand this and still decide pollarding creates the appearance they desire for their trees, well, that's their choice.

We often encounter gardeners who think they are supposed to prune their crape myrtles that way.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For the overwhelming majority of us, the only appropriate pruning is to enhance the natural shape of our crape myrtles.

Some gardeners have been told that crape myrtles need to be pruned that way to bloom well.  This is not accurate.  The flower clusters may be larger on pollarded trees, but the added weight on the ends of the long branches causes them to bend over awkwardly, especially after rain.  And because the tree is smaller, it actually produces fewer flower clusters.

A wide selection of crape myrtle varieties is available today.  Some grow tall and upright like a vase, while others are shorter and spreading, having more of an umbrella or cascading affect.  You cannot make an upright-growing crape myrtle grow into other shapes by cutting it back.  The new growth will simply grow  upright again.   So if you want a crape myrtle that will mature in the shape you desire, make sure you choose one that naturally grows that way.  

Many gardeners cut back crape myrtles that are too large for the location where they were planted.  This is commonly seen in trees planted close to a house.  Instead of choosing a smaller-growing variety that would be appropriate, someone planted a larger type that begins to grow into the gutter and roof.

To salvage the situation, people often begin cutting back their trees.  To be effective, this has to be done every year.  And again, it ruins the natural beauty of the tree.  This is added work that could have been avoided by planting a smaller-growing crape myrtle in the first place.

For instance, if you want a white-flowering crape myrtle planted at the corner of your house, it would be more appropriate to select Acoma, which matures at 10 feet to 12 feet, rather than Natchez, which matures at 25 feet to 30 feet.

To prune a crape myrtle properly, first decide if it needs to be pruned at all.  As with any pruning project, you must have a specific purpose in mind before you begin.  If you can't come up with a good reason to prune your tree, leave it alone.  If you do see something that calls for pruning, study the tree carefully and determine what needs to be pruned to accomplish the specific purpose you've identified.  

Examples of appropriate reasons for pruning include eliminating crossed and rubbing branches, removing low branches, removing weak, thin branches from the inner part of the tree, trimming off old seed pods, creating a shapelier tree and keeping suckers removed from the base of the trunk.

Avoid cutting back or shortening branches larger than your finger.  But if pruning is needed, you may cut larger branches back to a side branch or to the trunk.

With its smooth, muscular trunks, peeling bark, filigree of leafless branches in the winter and exceptionally long blooming season in summer, the crape myrtle is rightfully popular here.  Make sure you keep yours looking their best. 

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