Fitness & Nutrition Blog

Use Exercise As Your Stress Relief

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Put exercise and stress relief to work for you.  

A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps.

Consult with your doctor. If you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

Also, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.

Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Stick with it

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:

Set SMART goals. Write down SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals.
If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a cycling class.

Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.

Change up your routine. If you've always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can't fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. Interval training, which entails brief (60 to 90 seconds) bursts of intense activity at almost full effort, is being shown to be a safe, effective and efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of longer duration exercise. What's most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

Whatever you do, don't think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it's an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.

Boost Up Your Immune System To Fight Of Viruses

Reduce Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the T-cells(a specific white blood cell) to reproduce and receive signals from the body. Cortisol also reduces the antibody secretory IgA, which lines the gut and respiratory tract, which are our first line of defense against pathogens. To keep your stress in check, practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing in your regular routine.

Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Numerous researches have shown that excess intake of alcohol can tamper with the immune system and its pathway in a complicated manner. However, moderate consumption of alcohol can be helpful to the overall health of the body.

Make Sure You Get Your A-B-C-D-Es
The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can actually be true as consumption of vitamins can boost your immune system. Vitamin A, B6, C, D and E can help increase the strength of the immune system. Vitamin C is the biggest booster of all and lack of it can cause several diseases including Scurvy. You can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits like Orange, Grapefruit, Spinach and Strawberries. You can take multivitamin supplements from your doctor, however, natural intake through food is the best way. 

Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system. Consuming them on a daily basis boosts the immunity. For a healthy liver, cruciferous vegetables like Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage should be included in daily diet. Healthy liver ensures the body’s’ natural detoxification process.

Herbs & Supplements
Herbs like AHCC, Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis and Astragalus can help reduce the duration and severity of illness. On top of that, using vitamin and mineral supplements provide the necessary nutrients for a strong immune system.

Get Your Exercise On
Working out on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise mobilises the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. However, continuous rigorous workout weakens the immune system, leaving you prone to flu and viral infections.

Get Sufficient Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause the inflammatory immune response to activate, reducing the activity of T cells in the body. This can weaken your immune system and response to vaccines. Try to sleep for 7–8 hours and avoid having an all-nighter. If you happen to be traveling in different time zones on a regular basis, consume 2–3mg of Melatonin to reset the circadian rhythm.

Start Consuming Mushrooms
Mushroom are nature’s way of breaking down the organic matters to convert it into fertile soil. One of the healthiest food on the planet, mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Some of the mushrooms that are really good for immune systems are — A Turkey tail mushroom, Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms, Tremella Mushrooms.

Stop The Habit Of Smoking
Stop the habit of smoking because not only does it increases the risk of cancer but it also impairs the immune system. Smoking is said to have a negative impact on both adaptive and innate immunity. It can also increase the chances of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses and smoking also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system’s defenses. 

Step Out In The Sun
Stepping out in the natural light is one of the major contributors to the production of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system as it helps the body to produce antibodies. Low level of Vitamin D in the body has been termed as one of the major reasons for respiratory problems. A brisk walk in the sunlight for 10–15 minutes will ensure that enough Vitamin D is produced in the body.

With these little efforts and tweaks in your daily routine, you can ensure a healthy immune system. A healthy body is not just about being healthy from the outside but also ensuring a stronger immunity and these 11 natural ways to boost your immune system can help you achieve the goal of a healthy body. These steps would reduce the toxins in the body and would provide the needed nutrients which are essential for your health. Keeping a check on the immune system is not only going to keep you safe from getting sick but it will also help you prevent diseases like cancer in the latter half of your life. Also, these natural ways can help you age gracefully.

Ways To Stop Eating Lots of Sugar

1. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks
Some popular drinks contain a heap of added sugar.
Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks contribute an astounding 44% of the added sugar in the American diet.

So-called "healthy" drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, can still contain eye-watering amounts of it. For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams)

Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don't make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate.

Studies have consistently shown that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can help with weight loss.

Here are some better, lower-sugar drink options:
Water: It's free and has zero calories.
Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade soda.
Water with mint and cucumber: Amazingly refreshing in warm weather.
Herbal or fruit teas: Drink them hot or cold with ice.
Tea and coffee: Stick to unsweetened tea or black or flat white coffee.

Cutting back on sugary drinks can massively reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight. 

2. Avoid Sugar-Loaded Desserts
Most desserts don't provide much in the way of nutritional value.
They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar.

Grain and dairy-based desserts, such as cakes, pies, doughnuts and ice cream, account for over 18% of the intake of added sugar in the American diet.
If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:

Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12.
Baked fruit with cream: Try pears, apple or plums.
Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar.
A handful of dates: They're naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.

Swapping sugar-heavy desserts for fresh or baked fruit not only reduces your sugar intake, it also increases the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.

3. Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren't aware of their shocking sugar content.
A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams).
Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.

Here are some other options to flavor your food:
Fresh or dried herbs and spices: Contain no sugar or calories and can have added health benefits.
Fresh chili: Give your food a sugar-free kick.
Yellow mustard: Tasty and contains virtually no sugar or calories.
Vinegar: Sugar and calorie-free, with a zing similar to that of ketchup. Some balsamic vinegars and creams may contain sugar.
Harissa paste: Can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.
Pesto: Fresh and nutty, great on sandwiches or eggs.
Mayonnaise: Although it's sugar-free, it's high in fat, so be cautious if you're trying to lose weight.

4. Eat Full-Fat Foods
Low-fat options of your favorite foods — peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing — are everywhere.
If you've been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to reach for these alternatives, rather than the full-fat versions, when you're trying to lose weight.
However, the unsettling truth is that they usually contain more sugar and sometimes more calories than their full-fat counterparts.

A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.

The same amount of full-fat plain yogurt contains just over a teaspoon (5 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and only 69 calories.
Another example is an 8-ounce (237-ml) coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories.

In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories.
High sugar intake has also been shown to cause weight gain, which negates the reason you might have chosen a low-fat food in the first place.
When you're trying to cut your sugar intake, it's often better to choose the full-fat version instead.

5. Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances.

At the other end are ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar and fats, but also substances not usually used in home cooking.
These substances can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and pies.
Ultra-processed foods differ from standard processed foods, which usually only have minimal ingredients added, all of which you might find in a standard kitchen.
Examples of standard processed foods are simple bread and cheese.
90% of the added sugars in the average American's diet come from ultra-processed foods, whereas only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods.

And it isn't just junk food that contains high amounts of it.
Seemingly healthy options like canned pasta sauce can also contain alarming amounts. One serving (128 grams) can contain nearly 3 teaspoons (11 grams).
Try to cook from scratch when possible so you can avoid added sugars. You don't have to cook elaborate meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious results.

6. Check for Sugar in Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.

Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they're not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does.  Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions that are labeled with "in own juice" or "no added sugar.

If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.

7. Be Careful With So-Called "Healthy" Processed Snack Foods
Most people know that candy and cookies contain a lot of sugar, so they may look for "healthy" snack alternatives. Surprisingly, snacks like granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit can contain as much, if not more, sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars.
Some granola bars can contain as much as 8 teaspoons (32 grams).

Dried fruit is full of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. However, it is also full of natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation.  Some dried fruit also contains high quantities of added sugar. To avoid this, look for ingredients labels that say "100% fruit.

Or try these healthy snack ideas instead:
A handful of nuts: Packed with good calories, protein and healthy fats.
Trail mix: Make sure it's just nuts and dried fruit, without added sugar.
No-added-sugar jerky: Full of protein and low in calories.
Hard-boiled egg: This superfood is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fresh fruit: Contains natural sugar to satisfy those sugar cravings.

Don't be fooled by the "healthy" marketing messages on some snacks. Be prepared and take low-sugar snacks with you when you're on the go.

8. Avoid Sugar-Filled Breakfast Foods
Breakfast cereals are among the worst when it comes to added sugar. One reports found that some of the most popular ones contained over half of their weight in added sugar.  One cereal in the report contained over 12 teaspoons (50 grams) per serving, which made it 88% sugar by weight.

What's more, the report found that granola, which is usually marketed as "healthy," has more sugar than any other type of cereal, on average.
Popular breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles, muffins and jams, are also loaded with added sugar.

Switch to these low-sugar breakfast options instead:
Hot oatmeal: Add some chopped fruit if you like it sweet.
Greek yogurt: Add fruit and nuts for extra good calories.
Eggs: Boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelet.
Avocado: Packed full of nutrition and healthy fats for energy.

Choosing a low-sugar option with high protein and fiber at breakfast will help you feel full until lunchtime, preventing unnecessary snacking.

9. Read Labels
Eating less sugar isn't as easy as just avoiding sweet foods. You've already seen that it can hide in unlikely foods, including some breakfast cereals, granola bars and dried fruit.

However, some savory foods, such as bread, can also contain a lot of added sugar. Two slices can contain 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams).
Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to identify added sugars on a food label. Current food labels don't differentiate between natural sugars, such as those in milk or fruits, and added sugars.

To see if a food has sugars added, you will need to check the ingredients list. It is also important to note the order in which sugar appears on the list, since ingredients are listed in order of the highest percentage first.

Food companies also use more than 50 other names for added sugar, which makes it more difficult to spot. Here are some of the most common:
High-fructose corn syrup
Cane sugar or juice
Invert sugar
Rice syrup

Thankfully, identifying sugar in packaged food in the US just got much easier.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed their rules so that companies have to show the amount of added sugar in their products on the ingredients label in grams, along with a percentage of the daily value.
Companies have until 2018 to change their labels to comply.

10. Eat More Protein and Fat
A high sugar intake is linked to increased appetite and weight gain.
Conversely, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.

Added sugar in the diet, particularly fructose, increases appetite. The signals that usually let your brain know that you are full do not work properly, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

On the other hand, protein has been proven to reduce appetite and hunger. If you feel full, then you are less likely to crave the quick hunger fix that sugar provides.
Protein has also been shown to directly reduce food cravings. One study showed that increasing protein in the diet by 25% reduced cravings by 60%
Fat is very high in energy. It contains 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein or carbs.

A high fat intake is also associated with reduced appetite. According to the fat content of a food, fat receptors in the mouth and gut alter the way it's digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and subsequently, calorie intake.
To curb sugar cravings, stock up on protein and fat-rich whole foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products, avocados and nuts.

11. Consider Natural Sweeteners
For some people, sugar can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that it can affect the brain in a way similar to that of some drugs.

Addiction to sugar produces cravings and a "tolerance" level, meaning more and more of it must be consumed to satisfy those cravings.
It is also possible to suffer from sugar withdrawal.

Studies have found that rats experienced signs of anxiety and depression after a high sugar diet was stopped.

This shows that giving up sugar can be very difficult for some people. If you are struggling, there are a few naturally sweet alternatives that are actually good for you.
Stevia: Extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, it has virtually no calories and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Erythritol: Found naturally in fruit, it only contains 6% of the calories of sugar, but it's much sweeter, so only a little is needed. It also doesn't cause blood sugar spikes.
Xylitol: A sweetener found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It doesn't cause blood sugar spikes.

Once you cut your sugar intake, you'll adjust to enjoying foods that are less sweet.

12. Don't Keep Sugar in the House
If you keep high-sugar foods in the house, you are more likely to eat them.
It takes a lot of willpower to stop yourself if you only have to go as far as the pantry or fridge to get a sugar hit.

Although cravings for snacks and sweet foods can occur at any time of the day or night, they may be worse in the evenings. Evidence shows that your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, increases hunger and cravings for sweet and starchy foods in the evenings.

It is important to consider how you're going to distract yourself when you feel the need to eat something sweet.  Studies have shown that distraction, such as doing puzzles, can be very effective at reducing cravings. If that doesn't work, then try to keep some healthy, low-sugar snacks in the house to munch on instead.

13. Don't Shop When You're Hungry
If you've ever been shopping when you're hungry, you know what can happen.
Not only do you buy more food, but you also tend to put less healthy options in your shopping cart.

Shopping while hungry has been shown not only to increase the amount of food purchased, but also to affect the type of foods you buy. In a controlled study, 68 participants fasted for five hours. Half the participants were then allowed to eat as many wheat crackers as they liked just before going shopping, while the other half went shopping on an empty stomach. They found that the hungry group purchased more high-calorie products, compared to those who were less hungry.
In another study, 82 grocery shoppers were observed to see if the time of day they went shopping had any effect on their purchases.

The study found that those who shopped between 4–7 pm, around dinnertime, when they were likely to be hungry, bought more high-calorie products than those who shopped between 1–4 pm, shortly after lunch.

14. Get Enough Sleep
Good sleep habits are incredibly important for your health. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, poor concentration and reduced immune function.
The link between lack of sleep and obesity is well known. But recently, researchers discovered that lack of sleep also affects the types of food you eat.

One study looked into this phenomenon in 23 healthy adults. Their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), first after a full night's sleep and then following a sleepless night.

The researchers found that function of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision making, was impaired after a sleepless night. Furthermore, the area of the brain that responds to rewards and controls motivation and desire was stimulated.  These changes meant that participants favored high-calorie, sweet and salty foods when they were sleep deprived.

Another study found that people who went to bed late and did not get a full night's sleep consumed more calories, junk food and soda and fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those who went to bed earlier and got a full night's sleep.
So going to bed early and sleeping well may help you reduce your sugar intake.

What Is The Optimal Heart Rate To Lose Fat

The link between heart rate and fat loss
Your body requires glucose as fuel for your muscles. The 2 main sources of fuel are glycogen (a substance that stores carbohydrate) and fat, which breaks down to form glucose and ultimately carbon dioxide and water. Oxygen is required to oxidize (break down) either the glycogen or fat stores into glucose to fuel the muscles.

During a workout, your body requires more energy. Thus, your heart pumps faster and harder to send oxygen to your muscle cells to break down more glycogen and fat to fuel your muscles.

While 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories of energy, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. This makes glycogen (carbohydrate) a less dense form of energy storage that is readily broken down into glucose, as compared to fats. As such, glycogen is your body's first source of energy during exercise. Since high-intensity workouts require more energy quickly, you tap on glycogen rather than fat in your body for fuel. Your body only taps onto the next fuel, fat, when you start to run out of glycogen.

The truth of the fat burning zone theory
The fat burning zone theory seeks to help adherents lose weight by tapping on the body’s fat storage rather than glycogen. They argue that the body burns a greater percentage of fat with lower-intensity exercises than at higher intensities because the body does not require ‘fast energy’ from glycogen. As such, this theory promotes longer and lower-intensity cardio workouts that maintain your heart rate within the ‘fat burning zone’.

However, that is a bit of a misconception. While it is true that the body burns fat during low-intensity workouts, the fat burning rate remains low and you have to exercise longer to burn the same amount of calories you would at higher intensities.
In a high-intensity workout, although your body uses your glycogen stores first for ‘fast energy’, it depletes the glycogen stores rapidly enough to force your body to tap on the fat storage. This means that high-intensity workouts are more efficient in burning way more total calories – both glycogen and fat calories. Ultimately, the total number of calories you burn leads to the most weight (and fat) loss.

The 4 training zones
Working out with a heart rate monitor helps you to gauge the specific zones in which your body is working and how your body benefits from different intensities of exercise. Each of the 4 main training zones can be predicted by your heart rate:
Your warm-up zone is where you prepare your cardio-respiratory system, muscles and joints to exercise harder. Here, you are functioning at 60 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. It is a comfortable pace where you feel as though you can go on for a long time.

Just beyond the warm-up zone is the so-called fat burning zone where you are working out at about 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate. It is still a comfortable rate but you might sweat more and breathe harder than usual. Although you may burn more fat than glycogen at this zone, the absolute amount of fat burnt is much less than the subsequent stages.

Still in the comfortable zone is the aerobic zone. Your heart rate is at 81 – 93% of your maximum heart rate. You will be able to talk but only in short phrases. The calories you burn here split evenly between your fat stores and glycogen. Although you will not burn more fat calories than glycogen, you will be burning more calories overall. (Plus, the aerobic zone makes your heart pump hard, which is great to keep your heart healthy!)

Finally, you will be at 94 – 100% of your maximum heart rate in the anaerobic territory. You are panting and unable to talk. It is hard work and nearly impossible to spend more than a minute here as your glycogen stores are depleted faster than they can be replenished. Anaerobic intervals widen your fat and aerobic zones and zap tons of calories. This is where the afterburn (temporary increase in metabolism) kicks in. Also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), your body continues to burn more calories even after a high-intensity workout, as compared to a low-intensity exercise.

A high-intensity workout reaps many benefits of burning total calories efficiently both during and after exercising, and keeping your heart healthy. But if you prefer a low-intensity workout, it would require you to devote a longer amount of time to burn the same amount of calories!

What Are Essential Oils

Essential oils are found in plants for very essential purposes! It helps with allelopathy, attracts pollinators, defends against insects, and protects against fungus and bacteria.

The process of extracting essential oils is by water or steam distillation, or even cold-pressing. Pure essential oils are those that are not obtained by chemical processes. Some oils are isolated by maceration. The plant material is softened in warm water, which releases the essential oil.  Several factors influence the quality of essential oils, such as; the weather, geographical location, and distillation.

Essential oils are widely used for aromatic and medicinal purposes. You will notice that when you open a bottle, the scent quickly fills the room, and the aroma is potent. These are due to chemical properties in the essential oil that allow it to move rapidly in the air. That is why essential oils are ideal for physical and emotional wellness.  

Essential for Your Health?
Inhaling the aromas can stimulate the limbic system; it involves our emotions, behaviors, smell, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and long-term memory. Have you ever associated a smell with a memory? This explains why certain smells can trigger memories.

There are several ways in which to apply essential oils to positively affect the mind and body.

Cosmetic Aromatherapy – Used for cleansing, moisturizing, drying, and toning on the skin, body, face, and air. It is also beneficial to use in a full-body or foot bath.
Massage Aromatherapy – Essential oils are combined with carrier oils to use for massage.

Medical Aromatherapy – Used to promote and treat clinically diagnosed medical ailments, and even for massage on patients during surgery.
Olfactory Aromatherapy – Inhaling essential oils can enhance emotional well-being, encouraging relaxation and calmness.

Psycho-aromatherapy – Since our brain links scents with memories, essential oils can help promote a pleasant memory by infusing it in the room of the patient.

Choosing the Correct Essential Oils
It is important to make sure that the essential oils you purchase are pure and medical grade. Many companies will claim this, but there are ways to determine its true nature. Here are three things to consider:

Purity – Oils that provide mild fragrance or flavors do not have therapeutic benefits like essential oils. Find retailers that specialize in selling essential oils.

Quality  – Look for essential oils that identify with their scientific or botanical name. It is also important to note the extraction process, plant origin, and expiration date. As much as possible, use oils that are organic (no pesticides or sprays)

Reputation – Companies should be transparent about their essential oil products, have done extensive testing on the product, and are able to answer questions relating to it. Another bonus is when companies are members of associations or other affiliations that have ethical standards.

Current Market Trends
In 2016, the global essential oils market size was valued at USD 6.63 billion (2). “It is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 11% during period 2017-202 (3)1.”

This is due to a growing demand for product line extensions, air fresheners with essential oils as the active ingredient, natural personal care products and cleaning products, spa and relaxation, and flavors in pharmaceutical ingredients. Growing consumer income and more knowledge on personal health are expected to contribute to the growth of this industry.

Essential Oil Safety
As with many things that we ingest in or apply to our bodies, moderation and correct application are key. It is also important to do a test patch before applying it in the desired area of the body. Essential oils are considered safe. It should not be ingested but can be used topically when diluted with a carrier oil, through steam inhalation, and in an essential oil diffuser. Essential oils are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Where Does The Fat Go?

Myths About Fat Loss
There are misconceptions about fat loss among doctors, dietitians and even fitness professionals.  In this blog we are going to simplify how weight loss occurs in a molecular level. 
The following are common myths about fat metabolism:
- Fat turns into muscle
- Fat converts into energy
- Fat escape through your colon

What Is Fat?
The clinical term for body fat is adipose tissue. There are two different types in the human body. The white adipose tissue is primarily responsible for energy storage and releasing fatty acids when fuel is low. Your body contains mostly this type of fat. It is stored beneath the skin and surrounding organs. This is the kind of fat that most of us are trying to lose. 

Brown adipose tissue is considered good fat that helps regulate body temperature. It’s derived from muscle tissue and burns calories to keep you warm. Brown fat also contains more capillaries than white fat and shuttles valuable nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Fat is made up of individual cells called adipocytes (cells that contain fat). The human body contains billions of fat cells ranging in different sizes. White fat cells are filled with one large fat droplet surrounded by water, salts, and protein. The fat droplet is comprised mostly of triglycerides (glycerol and three fatty acids). High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Brown fat cells contain multiple fat droplets and considerably more water, salt, and protein. These cells are also filled with lots of mitochondria responsible for the chemical energy that burns calories to produce heat in your body. 

What Does Fat Do?
Fat is made up of cells in your body that are used primarily for stored energy and protection.  The body uses this stored energy for working muscles as well as a host of other metabolic pathways and enzymatic breakdowns.

When you consume more calories than your body needs, it will store the rest within your fat cells or adipocytes. The storage form of energy is known as triglycerides, a type of fat or lipid collected within individual fat cells. Besides providing energy, stored fat also helps insulate the body and protect vital organs. 

During Fat Burning
Before explaining what happens during the fat burning process, it will help to understand where all the weight within the fat cell comes from. 
The average American breathes in about 1.5 pounds of oxygen daily. This is in addition to what you eat and drink every day. According to the latest government figures, the average person consumes approximately five to 7.8 pounds of food and beverages daily. What you eat and what you breathe needs to exit your body somehow if you want to lose weight. 

During the fat burning process, the body converts fat into usable energy causing the fat cell to shrink. This metabolic energy conversion also generates heat which helps to control body temperature. At the same time, oxygen is also converted into byproducts.

Many enzymes and biochemical steps are involved to completely break down a single triglyceride molecule.  Some of the fat is available for usable energy, but carbon dioxide (CO2) and water are also released from the fat cell during the process. In fact, a large percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) is created and expelled from the body when you burn fat. 

Where Fat Goes
Most of us really don’t think about where fat goes when we lose it. We’re just happy the scale says it’s gone. You may be curious to know fat doesn’t magically disappear after going through the fat-burning process.

The research calculations show when fat is lost, 84 percent is exhaled as carbon dioxide. The remaining 16 percent is excreted as water.1 During the conversion of energy, carbon dioxide and water are byproducts or waste. They are excreted via urine, perspiration, and exhalation.

It has also been shown that the lungs as the primary organ used to remove fat from your body.

Ways to Improve Fat Loss
Since fat leaves the body by exhaling carbon dioxide, you may be wondering if breathing faster will help you lose weight. Unfortunately, this isn't an effective method. You will only cause hyperventilation, feel dizzy, and possibly faint. 

There are healthy ways to increase oxygen intake and improve weight loss. Working toward improving your metabolic rate would be a great start. This includes being more active in general and participating in regular exercise.
You can increase carbon dioxide (CO2) exhalation by performing physical activities that double the metabolic rate. For example, swapping out one hour of rest with exercise like jogging removes more CO2 from the body and improves your ability to lose fat.
Other basic suggestions to increase your metabolic rate and rid your body of CO2 include the following:

- Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator.
- Park your car far away and walk more.
- Engage in active playtime with your kids.
- Stand at your computer vs. sitting.
- Take walk and stretch breaks at work.
- Stay active over the weekend and avoid being a couch potato.

Your body is also at work removing CO2 while you sleep. In fact, you exhale approximately seven ounces of carbon dioxide which is 25 percent of the daily amount you need to get rid of. This means you are waking up starting your day ahead of the game.  
What is recommended for successful fat loss is to eat less and move more. This means reducing caloric intake to cause an energy deficit, but also exercising regularly. Exercise will naturally increase the rate of oxygen is used and help remove more carbon dioxide from your body. 

Strategies To Lose Fat, Not Muscle

Maintain your strength as you shed pounds with these proven strategies.

When you lose weight, those pounds can come from either fat or muscle. And you don’t want to lose muscle, especially as you get older.

Not only does muscle help you stay strong and independent, but it’s a leading indicator of overall health and longevity. In fact, research shows lean muscle mass is better at predicting overall health than body mass index (BMI), a score that uses both your height and weight to provide a rough estimate of whether you’re underweight, normal weight, or overweight.

Unfortunately, the state of our muscle is bleak. One out of every three adults ages 60 and older suffers from severe muscle loss, called sarcopenia, according to an Age and Aging review.
Loss of muscle mass is one of the biggest causes of age-related decline. Older adults who get or stay strong can continue to perform daily tasks and active hobbies with fewer limitations. They also have a much lower risk of injury from falls and other accidents.

What’s more, when we lose muscle, our metabolism slows, making it harder to lose or maintain a healthy weight, Juster says. Lean muscle mass is a primary factor in basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body burns per day simply by living.

The more muscle we hold on to, the better we will look and feel, and the easier it will be to lose fat. And those are the pounds you want to lose.

Here are four strategies to help you stay strong and retain—or even build—muscle as you drop pounds.

Fat Loss Rule #1: Cut Calories Gradually
To lose weight, you have to maintain a calorie deficit, meaning that you use more calories than you consume each day. However, cutting your calories too drastically can lead to muscle loss.
If you’re counting calories, aim to cut no more than 500 per day. That will keep you in the healthy, gradual range of losing one to two pounds per week.

You can achieve this deficit by cutting 500 calories from your regular meal plan, burning an extra 500 calories with exercise, or a combination of nutrition and fitness changes that lead to 500 calories total. The good news is cutting even 100 calories a day can help—and may be more manageable for some people.

Now sure how many calories you should be eating per day? It depends on how active you are.  Ask your personal trainer, doctor or registered dietitian for guidance, especially if you have a chronic condition.

Fat Loss Rule #2: Focus on Total-Body Strength
To lose fat and build muscle, the bulk of your exercise time should go to total-body strength workouts. Compound, multi-joint movements, such as squats, pushups, and rows, are especially beneficial. These exercises involve multiple large muscle groups, so they build strength—and increase your heart rate and burn calories with every rep.

For those who are newer to the weight room, I recommend two days of strength training each week. More experienced exercisers can do as many as three or four sessions per week.
These workouts don’t need to be long or grueling, she says. Start with 20- to 30-minute full-body workouts and build from there, focusing on improving your performance from week to week.
That might mean gradually increasing the weight you use,  performing more total reps during your workout, or simply executing the same workout with better form. When you focus on performance in the gym or working out at home, you will maintain or even build muscle as you lose fat.

Fat Loss Rule #3: Double Down on Protein
The protein you eat contains the essential amino acids needed for your muscles to grow back stronger after each workout.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein for adults in their 50s and older is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight (multiply your weight by 0.36). But it’s important to know that the RDA is the minimum amount you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements.

For optimal health, older adults may need almost double the RDA of protein, according to mounting research. One 2015 study found older adults improved their muscle health by consuming 0.68 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (multiply your weight by 0.68).
For an adult who weighs 130 pounds, that’s about 88 grams of protein per day. For one who weighs 150 pounds, 102 grams. And for one who weighs 170 pounds, 115 grams.

If that seems like a lot, take it one meal at a time. Other research recommends adults consume between 25 and 35 grams of protein at every meal for both muscle health and weight loss.
If you’re not interested in counting your macronutrients try including one to two palm-sized servings of protein-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, beans and legumes, or eggs with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And as with figuring out exactly how many calories you need based on your health, your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you figure out how much protein per day is right for you.

Fat Loss Rule #4: Use Cardio for Recovery
For many people, the first step to losing weight is hopping on a treadmill or elliptical for hours of cardio, this is a big mistake, because with excessive cardio, we often lose our hard-earned muscle along with our extra fat.

Avoiding excessive aerobic exercise doesn’t mean cutting it completely—after all, it’s a vital part of a well-rounded exercise plan. But for weight loss, it may help to think of it as a method to help your body and muscles recover in between strength sessions.

Research in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation shows low-intensity aerobic exercise is an effective way to promote muscle strength and recovery after challenging workouts.

On the days you don’t perform strength training, make a point to complete at least 30 minutes of gentle, low-intensity movement such as walking, cycling, or swimming. Choose a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation—without huffing and puffing.

Strength Training Benefits As You Age

Sometimes it feels like the number of things that stop working in your body directly correlates to the number candles on your birthday cake.

But you can regain some control in a number of ways — and improving your strength is one of them.

Muscle strength is important for bone health, balance and just being strong enough for daily activities, such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Regular muscle strengthening has also been shown to help you manage blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, as well as prevent and control heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Research also shows it's good for your brain

There is evidence that both improvements in cognitive function and depressive symptoms in older adults are linked to the amount of strength gains or intensity of the strength training.

Why it's downhill from 30
Each decade from the age of 30 we lose 3 to 5 per cent of the muscle mass we naturally carry, which causes us to lose muscle function — a condition called sarcopenia.  But this doesn't mean you necessarily end up frail, there are studies on men in their 70s who'd been lifting weight for 15 to 20 years and their muscles looked identical to that of 20-year-old men in terms of size and strength.

The really good news — it's never too late to get started, even if you've never picked up a weight in your life.  There are muscle biopsies of people over 100 years old and you can see changes in their muscle cells, even at that age.
Size matters - but strength matters more

While having big muscles might hold some appeal for some of us, it's your strength that really matters when it comes to functioning well in old age. And if you're training right, getting stronger is relatively easy, even if your body type doesn't build muscle easily.

So what's the right kind of training? That depends on your fitness and health goals.
High-intensity resistance training is the best way to increase and maintain muscle function. The best results come from high-intensity interval training, which is lifting weight that's 80 per cent or more of the maximum amount you can physically do. Two, preferably three, sessions a week is ideal and the most important thing is intensity and progression — so increasing the amount of weight you're lifting once it stops feeling hard to lift. If you can tolerate it, increase your power as well as strength by performing high-velocity, high-intensity movements. An example of that would be lifting a heavy weight really fast (concentric phase), then slowly lowering it down (eccentric phase). If you don't have arthritis or other joint problems, adding high-impact movements, like jumping, improves bone density, can help to prevent osteoporosis.

Weight machines good for older people
It is important to get guidance from an experienced trainer, especially if you're new to lifting weights, have injuries or suffer any other health issues, cannot be underestimated. Training the older person needs to have a double-barrelled perspective. It's not just sarcopenia, you also want to prevent falls. So there needs to be two styles of programming: increasing strength and muscle mass safely, and preventing falls.  Machines are a great option for working on strength because they do all the stability work. The machine controls your movement which is great, especially if you haven't trained before and have poor body awareness — you can work hard with good control.

Adding in stability work will help to prevent falls, so include exercises like banded walks, single-leg balancing and woodchops on the cable machine.
Aerobic exercise still important

Despite all the benefits of strength training, it's not going to give you all the health benefits you need. So you still need to make the effort to get some regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling.

The Importance of Shoulder Health

The shoulder is a very complex and important joint. Not only is it important to your training, but it is important in everyday life. Your shoulders play a part in just about every single upper body movement. Your shoulder can move in multiple planes of motion and perform multiple functions so any sort of limitation can be potentially dangerous and may even cause injury. But what makes shoulder mobility so important? How can you tell if your shoulders are adequately mobile and how do you address it if they aren't?

First, let’s talk about the general importance of shoulder mobility. One thing that needs to be understood when addressing shoulder mobility is that shoulder mobility itself also requires adequate stability of the scapula. Without a stable scapula, impingement can occur and your shoulder mobility and health could be compromised. But if your shoulders have too much stability, it can restrict your range of motion, affecting your ability to perform a wide variety of common movements in and outside of the gym. Speaking in terms of a gym setting, any overhead movement is going to be compromised by poor shoulder mobility. If you cannot get into a proper pressing position with your shoulders, you run the risk of putting unwanted stress on your shoulders in that position. This leaves a large amount of the shoulder structure susceptible to injury. Similarly, poor shoulder mobility can also affect your squat even though it’s a lower body movement. Hand placement in the squat will not only affect placement of the bar but also tension on your shoulders. The narrower your hands are on the bar in your squat, the better shelf you will have to place the bar comfortably; however, your shoulders need to be mobile enough for this narrow hand placement. Lacking that shoulder mobility can also potentially cause pain in the shoulders, regardless of hand placement. The list of movements affected by poor shoulder mobility can go on and on, but the idea is that you NEED proper shoulder mobility to safely and effectively perform a large majority of weight bearing exercises.

How do you know if your shoulder mobility is good enough? One of the most common tests performed to check for adequate shoulder mobility is called the reach test. To perform this, you will start with one arm high overhead and the other arm low at your side. Then you will bend each of your elbows in an attempt to have both of your hands meet in the middle of your back. You should repeat this on both sides. The goal is for your hands to be able to touch one another. If this is the case, your shoulder mobility should be considered good or even great if you can overlap your fingers. If your hands cannot touch, measure the distance in between your fingertips. If there is more than 2 inches between your fingers, you have some work to do to increase your shoulder mobility. 

If you discovered you have poor shoulder mobility, it should be made priority in your training to increase your shoulder mobility. But how do you improve it? Here are a few ways to improve your shoulder mobility that I've personally found to be helpful and I hope they work for you too!

Train your back muscles as much, if not more than your chest muscles. This will help prevent over-tightness of the chest which can cause forward rolled shoulders leading t poor positioning and a lack of mobility. I would argue that neglecting this is one of the primary causes of poor shoulder mobility and also one of the easiest ones to address.

Wall extension. For this, you will want your heels and back flat against the wall, the back of your hands to the wall and your elbows at a 90 degree angle. From there, try to reach up as far as you can while also keeping your arms pinned against the wall. This is an easily repeatable movement that you can do almost everywhere.

Door stretch. For this, you will walk through a doorway and grab each side of the doorway, walking forward so that your hands are behind you. You'll take a bit of a forward lean until you feel a good stretch in your chest and anterior shoulder.

“L-Arm Stretch”. For this movement, you will begin lying on your stomach with one arm crossed over your chest (you will be lying on your arm). From there, you will want to flatten your chest toward the floor to get a good stretch in the outside of the shoulder. Make sure to move in and out of this position a few times prior to holding the stretch.

Each of these movements should help improve your shoulder mobility. Continue to assess and monitor your improvements!

There needs to be a balance of stability and strength within your shoulder. Having both will help improve your movement quality and comfort as well as help keep you from getting injured when exercising. You also must be sure to assess your shoulder mobility. Do not make assumptions on your mobility just based on how you perceive you move, as you can potentially not notice poor mobility patterns if you have nothing else to compare it to. Whether you have low or high mobility, you should consistently monitor this. Poor mobility needs to be improved, while great mobility should be maintained!

Remedies For Dry Itchy Skin

1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has emollient properties  
Emollients fill the spaces between skin cells, creating a smooth surface. That’s why the saturated fatty acids that occur naturally in coconut oil can hydrate and smooth the skin.
You can use coconut oil daily on even the most sensitive parts of your body. These include the area underneath your eyes and around your mouth. Another advantage of coconut oil is that you don’t need to mix it with anything. Coconut is gentle enough for substantial everyday use.

2. Petroleum jelly
According to a study petroleum jelly products can heal skin in older adults. Petroleum jelly, also known as mineral oil, covers the skin in a protective layer. It traps moisture underneath. This helps heal dry, irritated skin patches.

3. Oatmeal baths
Oatmeal is common folk remedy for irritated skin. A 2015 study showed why grandmothers and great-grandmothers have been recommending this home remedy for centuries: It works.
Colloidal oatmeal has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritation. This remedy is especially effective if you’re seeking to relieve itching. After you’ve taken an oatmeal bath, make sure you moisturize your skin to lock in the barrier.
You can make an oatmeal bath at home. Use a food processor to chop oatmeal into a fine powder, then stir it into warm water. You can also try one of the many commercial products available to make an oatmeal soak.

4. Antioxidants and omega-3s
When your skin is dry, it means you’re exposing it to elements that are damaging skin cells faster than your body can repair them. There are some foods that can help your skin appear healthier, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Foods rich in antioxidants can minimize damage from toxins and help your body make healthy cells. Some of the foods that contribute to skin health include:
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, may also contribute to a glowing-skin diet.

5. Gloves
Hands tend to experience the most direct contact with environmental irritants. These include dish soap and laundry detergent.
Get in the habit of wearing gloves when your hands are in water. Your hands also take a lot of abuse when temperatures drop and you’re working outside in the cold.
Wearing insulated gloves while doing household chores, or when you’re outside in extreme temperatures can cut down on dry, irritated skin.

6. Adjust your shower temperature
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that relieving dry skin is sometimes as simple as changing your shower routine. While most people tend to take hot showers, these can scald the skin and cause damage.
And some soaps that claim to moisturize and repair the skin can cause the opposite effect. They can trigger allergic reactions and make the skin thinner with harsh chemicals.
Take short showers with water that’s warm, not hot. And look for soaps that are fragrance-free and gentler on skin than traditional soaps.

7. Use a humidifier
Keeping a humidifier in your home can help minimize the dryness caused by home heating systems. Though gas and electric heat strip moisture from the air, a humidifier set to 60 percent is enough to offset this effect, according to the Harvard Medical School. 

8. Avoid allergens and irritants
A sudden occurrence of dry skin might be connected to the clothes you’re wearing or what you’ve exposed your skin to.
Sitting by the fireplace, spending time in chlorinated or chemically-treated water, or even wearing wool clothing can all irritate your skin and make it feel dry. Check what you’re putting your skin through, and try to treat it gently.

It’s important to preserve healthy skin. Your skin is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. When your skin is compromised by itching, an infection can occur. You may want to incorporate a good moisturizer into your daily routine, even when your skin isn’t bothering you.
In fact, maintaining a healthy skin barrier daily is one of the best ways to prevent outbreaks of dry skin. Another essential skincare tip is to use a moisturizing sunscreen every day to prevent skin damage and dryness.
Make sure to wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing that draws sweat away from the skin when you’re exposed to high temperatures or skin-irritating conditions.
Remember that extremely dry skin can be an indication of a more serious condition. If home remedies aren’t helping, you may need to see a doctor to get a prescription treatment to relieve your dry skin.

How To Successfully Navigate Thanksgiving Day

1. Exercise 1st Thing in The Morning Thanksgiving Day
There are all kinds of 5k Turkey Trots going on which is a fun and festive way to start your day with a really good calorie burn. Does this mean you get to eat extra because you worked out? Not really. It means your workout will help you to burn off the extra calories you are bound to consume!

2. Don’t Starve Yourself All Day
Most people think if they don’t eat they will be able to eat all they want at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The reality is, you have now put your body into starvation mode. The minute you finally do eat, #1 you are going to be so ravenous that you eat all that is in sight, and #2, your body is going to take everything you eat, healthy or not so healthy, and store it for reserves since you put your body into starvation mode. Your best bet is to still eat small meals throughout the day. Ex: 1 Egg or 2 egg-white omelet with veggies and a ½ cup berries for breakfast,  a nice chicken salad for lunch and some deli turkey and crackers for a snack to keep you going before dinner. Then, even after all that eating, you still eat dinner! This will keep your  metabolism revving all day making it much easier burning off the excess calories.

3. Eat Everything But in Small Portions
Don’t go eat-crazy as if you’ll never see this food again. The reality is, you most likely will have mini Thanksgiving feasts for days with leftovers. So go light, try everything, and try really hard NOT to stuff yourself! This is key! The minute you stuff yourself, whatever your body cannot use for muscle repair and energy, will be stored as fat. So make a decision to not overeat.

4. Take a Walk After Dinner or a Bike Ride
Something active will help in the digestion process and it will also add to your calorie burn vs. the alternative go-to of lounging on the couch in front of the football game as the tryptophan sinks in and your body goes into hibernation for the remainder of the day.

5. Don’t Take Too Many Leftovers
Do you really need to be eating this kind of food every day, for every meal for the next week? Let me help as you try to justify that answer. The answer is NO. Resist the mashup of potatoes, turkey, gravy, stuffing, corn, and everything else you can cram into that double-duty  zip lock. Just take one more meal’s worth. Trust that your meal will taste that much better.

6. Workout Hard The Next Day
The next morning, hit the gym, the outdoors or your home to get another really good calorie burn in.

7. Get Right Back on Track the NEXT Meal
Come breakfast the next day, get  back on top of things! They healthier you eat, the better you will feel post Thanksgiving.
You don’t have to deprive yourself when trying to lose weight, just do, think, eat and move smarter! Stuffing yourself with food is never the answer. Eating small portions is!

Healthy Sources of Vitamin D

1. Salmon
Salmon is a popular fatty fish and a great source of vitamin D.
According to the USDA Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D.
However, it’s usually not specified whether the salmon was wild or farmed. This may not seem important, but it can make a big difference.
On average, wild-caught salmon packs 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 165% of the RDI. Some studies have found even higher levels in wild salmon — up to 1,300 IU per serving.
However, farmed salmon contains only 25% of that amount. Still, a serving of farmed salmon provides about 250 IU of vitamin D, or 42% of the RDI.

2. Herring and Sardines
Herring is a fish eaten around the world. It can be served raw, canned, smoked or pickled.
This small fish is also one of the best sources of vitamin D.
Fresh Atlantic herring provides 1,628 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is nearly three times the RDI.
If fresh fish isn't your thing, pickled herring is also a great source of vitamin D, providing 680 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 113% of the RDI.
However, pickled herring also contains a high amount of sodium,  which some people consume too much of.
Sardines are a good source of vitamin D as well — one serving contains 272 IU, or 45% of the RDI.
Other types of fatty fish are also good vitamin D sources. Halibut and mackerel provide 600 and 360 IU per serving, respectively. 

3. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is a popular supplement. If you don't like fish, taking cod liver oil can be key to obtaining certain nutrients unavailable in other sources.
It’s an excellent source of vitamin D — at about 450 IU per teaspoon (4.9 ml), it clocks in at a massive 75% of the RDI. It's been used for many years to prevent and treat deficiency in children.
Cod liver oil is also a fantastic source of vitamin A, with 90% of the RDI in just one teaspoon (4.9 ml). However, vitamin A can be toxic in high amounts.
Therefore, be cautious with cod liver oil, making sure to not take too much.
In addition, cod liver oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, in which many people are deficient.

4. Canned Tuna
Many people enjoy canned tuna because of its flavor and easy storage methods.
It’s also usually cheaper than buying fresh fish.
Canned light tuna packs up to 236 IU of vitamin D in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is nearly half of the RDI.
It’s also a good source of niacin and vitamin K.
Unfortunately, canned tuna contains methylmercury, a toxin found in many types of fish. If it builds up in your body, it can cause serious health problems.
However, some types of fish pose less risk than others. For instance, light tuna is typically a better choice than white tuna — it's considered safe to eat up to 6 ounces (170 grams) per week.

5. Oysters
Oysters are a type of clam that lives in saltwater. They’re delicious, low in calories and full of nutrients.
One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of wild oysters has only 68 calories but contains 320 IU of vitamin D — over half the RDI.
In addition, one serving packs 2–6 times the RDI for vitamin B12, copper and zinc — far more than multivitamins. 

6. Shrimp
Shrimp is a popular type of shellfish.
Yet unlike most other seafood sources of vitamin D, shrimp are very low in fat.
However, they still contain a good amount of vitamin D — 152 IU per serving, or 25% of the RDI.
They also contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, although at lower amounts than many other foods rich in vitamin D.
Shrimp also pack about 152 mg of cholesterol per serving, which is a significant amount.  Yet, this should not be a cause for concern.
No strong evidence supports the idea that dietary cholesterol intake increases heart disease risk.
Even the US Department of Health and Human Services has removed its upper limit for cholesterol intake, stating that overconsumption of cholesterol is not an issue.

7. Egg Yolks
People who don't eat fish should know that seafood is not the only source of vitamin D. Whole eggs are another good source, as well as a wonderfully nutritious food.
While most of the protein in an egg is found in the white, the fat, vitamins and minerals are found mostly in the yolk.
One typical egg yolk from chickens raised indoors contains 18–39 IU of vitamin D, which isn't very high.
However, pasture-raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels 3–4 times higher.
Additionally, eggs from chickens given vitamin D-enriched feed have up to 6,000 IU of vitamin D per yolk. That’s a whopping 10 times the RDI.
Choosing eggs either from chickens raised outside or marketed as high in vitamin D can be a great way to meet your daily requirements.

8. Mushrooms
Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D.
Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to UV light.
However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animals produce vitamin D3.
Though vitamin D2 helps raise blood levels of vitamin D, it may not be as effective as Vitamin D3. 
Nonetheless, wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2. In fact, some varieties pack up to 2,300 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving — nearly four times the RDI.
On the other hand, commercially grown mushrooms are often grown in the dark and contain very little D2.
However, certain brands are treated with UV light. These mushrooms can provide anywhere from 130–450 IU of vitamin D2 per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).

Vitamin D To Help Fight Colds and The Winter Blues

Vitamin D plays a major role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health.  It has long been known to be important for bone health, but it serves many other functions. Vitamin D has been linked to the prevention of cancer, immunity to the cold, and the reduction of depression.  It supports cardiovascular health and proper immune function, making you much less likely to get the flu when you have optimal levels!  

Your body can make its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight.  The UVB rays react with your skin and produce vitamin D3, which is sent to your liver and converted to calcidiol, also known as 25(OH)D.  Generally, 20-30 minutes of mid day sun exposure is sufficient for light skinned people, if you have darker skin you may need to double the time.  Interestingly, once your body has produced enough vitamin D through sun exposure, those same UVB rays will begin to prevent excess vitamin D production.  This means there’s no need to worry about getting too much vitamin D from sunlight.

This is a great natural system, however, if you live the US (or other northern latitudes) it’s very difficult and likely impossible to meet your Vitamin D needs from sunlight during the winter months. 

During this time just about everyone in the US is in need of vitamin D supplementation.  One caveat with taking vitamin D orally is that it is possible to take too much.  However, this is unlikely as you would have to take large amounts very frequently.  As an oral supplement vitamin D3 is preferred over D2 as researchers have found that vitamin D3 is twice as effective as vitamin D2 in raising levels in the body.  Recent research indicates that taking 4000 IU  - 8000 IU per day will put you at an optimal level.  When you take vitamin D orally it is sent to your liver where it is converted to calcidiol, or 25(OH)D, the same as when your body creates it from sunlight. Since vitamin D is fat soluble it’s beneficial to take your vitamin D supplement with a healthy fat for better absorption.  The only way to know for sure the proper supplementation amount for you is to get a blood test for 25(OH)D before you begin supplementing and check it after 6-8 weeks.  An optimal level for 25(OH)D is 50-60 ng/mL.  

In addition to playing a part in your emotional health maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels will support and enhance your athletic performance.  Studies have shown that athletes with optimal serum vitamin D concentrations bounced back better after intense exercise.  As athletes, we know that being able to get out there and feel good in our training also plays a part in our sense of well being!

The Truth About Carbohydrates

1. Carbs Are Not Uniquely Fattening
Scientists once hypothesized that carbs increased the risk of obesity more than fat and protein.
According to this hypothesis, carbs are the primary cause of obesity  due to their ability to raise insulin levels, which in turn promotes the storage of calories as fat. This idea is known as the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity.
Of course, excessive intake of any calorie-providing nutrient — fat, carb, or protein — is an effective recipe for weight gain and obesity.
But no compelling evidence supports the idea that high-carb diets are especially fattening. In fact, many studies suggest that there is no significant association between high carb intake and obesity.
Nevertheless, healthy low-carb diets have been proven effective for weight loss — at least in the short term.
Scientists believe that their effectiveness is due to the elimination of refined carbs like sugar and an increased focus on healthy, high-fiber carb sources, as well as protein and fat.
Still, one large, 12-month study that compared the effectiveness of a healthy low-carb diet with a healthy low-fat diet detected no significant differences in weight loss.
In short, the quality of the carbs you eat is of greater importance than the proportion of carbs in your diet.
Thus, you should avoid eating a lot of sugar and other refined carbs, and instead focus on whole, carb-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers.

SUMMARY Carbs don’t cause weight gain unless they contribute to excessive calorie intake. Carb quality is of greater importance. Avoid unhealthy, refined carbs and focus instead on healthy, high-fiber carb sources.

2. Early Humans Frequently Ate Carbs
Learning to cook was a game-changer for early humans, as cooked meat provided increased protein, fat, and calories.
Yet, new evidence indicates that carb-rich foods like root vegetables, legumes, and even grains were cooked and consumed by human ancestors as well.
Cooked carbs would not only have been more nutritious but also more appealing to a hungry hunter-gatherer.
This theory is supported by emerging biological evidence showing that early humans began developing extra copies of the amylase gene, which helps produce the enzymes you need to digest starchy carbs.
In fact, this change in DNA occurred long before humans started farming.
That's why people today can have up to 18 amylase gene copies, indicating that humans have evolved to digest starches more efficiently.
Also, consider that every single cell in your body runs on glucose, which is a carbohydrate sugar. Even the most fat-adapted brain requires at least 20% of its energy from carbs.

SUMMARY Genetics and archaeological evidence suggest that humans ate high-carb foods long before they started farming.

3. Gluten Intolerance Affects Few People
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. By cutting carbs from your diet, you automatically cut out gluten, too.
A gluten-free diet  is necessary for the small number of people with celiac disease or some other types of autoimmune disease.
Gluten-free diets may also benefit people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance.
However, studies indicate that few people with self-reported gluten sensitivity have this condition at all. One study showed that only 3 out of 59 participants who believed they were gluten sensitive reacted to gluten.
New research strongly suggests that the condition known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not sensitivity to gluten at all.
Instead, it appears to be sensitivity to fructan, a type of soluble fiber or FODMAPs found in wheat.
FODMAPs like fructans cause digestive symptoms like gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain in some people — especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you have FODMAPs sensitivity, there is no reason for you to avoid carbs altogether. Instead, try to identify and avoid only those foods to which you’re sensitive.

SUMMARY Though removing gluten is crucial for some people, current evidence suggests that most people don't benefit from a gluten-free diet.

4. Fiber — a Carbohydrate — Is Important for Optimal Health
Nutrition is rarely black and white.
Still, most experts agree that eating fiber is good for your health.
In particular, soluble fiber is known to benefit heart health and weight management.
The thick and sticky soluble fiber found in high-carb foods like legumes, fruits, and oats helps slow down digestion.
Fiber also increases the time it takes to digest and absorb nutrients, contributing to reduced body weight and improved health.

SUMMARY Most dietary fiber is made of carbohydrates. Soluble fiber is particularly beneficial for weight maintenance and heart health.

5. Gut Bacteria Rely on Carbs for Energy
The balance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria may influence your risk for many lifestyle diseases, both physical and psychological.
To grow, your beneficial gut bacteria need carbs that they can ferment for energy.
As it turns out, soluble fiber appears to be the important nutrient they feed on.
Once again, some of the best food sources of soluble fiber include legumes and oats, which are high in carbs.

SUMMARY Eating soluble fiber may play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

6. Legumes Are a Superfood — on a Nutrient-To-Cost Basis
Legumes are edible plant seeds that include beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts.
They’re naturally high in carbs and thus often excluded from low-carb eating patterns. They’re also eliminated on a strict paleo diet. 
However, legumes are nutritionally unique.
They’re one of the few foods rich in both protein and fiber. Legumes are also high in vitamins and minerals. Plus, calorie for calorie, they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.
Additionally, they’re very cheap to produce and package compared to other high-protein food sources like meat and dairy.
This remarkable nutrition-to-cost ratio is why legumes are an important food staple in many developing countries.

SUMMARY Legumes are incredibly healthy and amazingly cheap. They’re rich in protein, fiber, and other valuable nutrients. Calorie for calorie, they’re one of the most nutritious foods.

7. Cutting Carbs Does Not Improve Exercise Performance
It’s a myth that a low-carb diet can outperform a conventional high-carb diet for athletes.
In a well-designed study in cyclists performing a 62-mile (100-km) trial with intermittent sprints, participants followed either a low-carb or a high-carb diet for the week leading up to the test.
Though both groups had similar race times, the high-carb group outperformed the low-carb group's sprint output on all four occasions.
While a single study is insufficient to draw solid conclusions, the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supports these results.
If you're fat-adapted on a low-carb diet, you can still perform very well, but no high-quality studies show that cutting carbs allows you to outperform those on higher-carb diets.
This holds true for cardio endurance events like cycling, as well as weight training and bodybuilding for muscular strength and endurance.
For those who simply exercise to keep fit, a low-carb diet will likely not have a negative impact on your performance — but it probably won't improve it either.

SUMMARY Athletes don’t perform better on low-carb diets than higher-carb ones. Performance is similar for endurance but worse for sprinting if you’ve cut down on carbs.

8. Carbs Don't Cause Brain Damage
Some claim that carbs cause harmful brain inflammation. However, this idea is not based on scientific evidence.
Unlike refined grains, whole grains are high in magnesium and fiber — both of which are linked to less inflammation.
In fact, the extensively studied Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, is strongly associated with slower age-related mental decline and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.
On the other hand, high intake of refined carbs and added sugar should be avoided. As part of an unhealthy lifestyle, these ingredients reduce overall health, adversely affecting your body as a whole.

SUMMARY There is no evidence linking whole carb sources to brain damage or diseases like Alzheimer's. In fact, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, is linked to improved brain health.

9. The World's Longest-Lived Populations Eat Plenty of Carbs
The Blue Zones — the regions where people live measurably longer — provide scientists with unique insights into certain eating patterns.
The island of Okinawa in Japan has the most centenarians (people who live over the age of 100) in the world.
Their diet is very high in carb-rich sweet potatoes, green vegetables, and legumes. Prior to 1950, a whopping 69% of their calorie intake came from sweet potatoes alone.
Another long-living population inhabits the Greek island of Ikaria. Nearly 1 in every 3 people lives to be 90, and they eat a diet rich in legumes, potatoes, and bread.
Several other Blue Zone regions share similar dietary traits, indicating that carbs are not causing problems for these people.

SUMMARY Some of the world's longest-living populations eat diets with plenty of high-carb plant foods.

The Bottom Line
It's important to think about foods as a whole and not just consider their individual nutrients. This is especially true when it comes to carbs.
For instance, carb-laden junk foods are unhealthy, providing no nutritional value. They’re today's biggest contributors to excess calories. 
And though low-carb diets can be an effective tool for weight loss and diabetes control, that doesn't mean carbs alone cause weight gain or disease — nor are they the sole cause of the current state of public health.
This depends entirely on the context and varies between individuals.
Some people do well with fewer carbs, while others function just fine eating plenty of carbs from healthy food.  
In any case, whole-carb foods can be part of a healthy diet and don’t need to be avoided at all cost.

Super Healthy High Carbohydrate Foods

It is a myth that carbs are unhealthy. The truth is that some of the world's healthiest foods are high in carbohydrates and are important nutrient sources.  
While refined carbs may be unhealthy in high amounts, whole food sources of carbs are very healthy.

Here is a list of 12 high-carb foods that also happen to be incredibly healthy.

1. Quinoa
Quinoa is a nutritious seed that has become incredibly popular in the natural health community.
It is classified as a pseudocereal, a seed that is prepared and eaten like a grain.
Cooked quinoa is 21.3% carbs, making it a high-carb food. However, it is also a good source of protein and fiber.
Quinoa is rich in many minerals and plant compounds. It has been linked to health benefits including improved blood sugar control.
It does not contain any gluten, making it a popular alternative to wheat for those on a gluten-free diet. 
Quinoa is also very filling since it is relatively high in fiber and protein. For this reason, it may aid in weight loss.
Summary Quinoa is highly nutritious. It numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar control. Quinoa is also high in protein and fiber, so it may be useful for weight loss.

2. Oats
Oats may be the healthiest whole grain food on the planet.
They are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  
Raw oats contain 66% carbs, nearly 11% of which is fiber. They are particularly high in a powerful soluble fiber called oat beta-glucan.
Oats are also a relatively good source of protein, containing more than most grains.
Research suggests that oats may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
Eating oats may also lower blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, oats are very filling and may help you lose weight.
Summary Oats contain many beneficial nutrients, including fiber and protein. Oats have been shown to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

3. Buckwheat
Buckwheat is also a pseudocereal.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain gluten.
Raw buckwheat contains 71.5% carbs, while cooked buckwheat groats contain about 20% carbs.
Buckwheat is very nutritious, containing both protein and fiber. It also has more minerals and antioxidants than most grains. Additionally, it may be particularly beneficial for heart health and blood sugar control, especially in people with diabetes. Buckwheat is the main ingredient in soba noodles, which are popular in Japan.
Summary Buckwheat is highly nutritious and contains more antioxidants and minerals than most grains. Eating buckwheat may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.

4. Bananas
Bananas are among the world's most popular fruits.
They are made up of about 23% carbs, either in the form of starches or sugars.
Unripe, green bananas are higher in starches, which transform into natural sugars as the bananas ripen, turning yellow in the process.
Bananas are high in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They also contain several beneficial plant compounds.
Due to their potassium content, bananas may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Unripe bananas also contain decent amounts of resistant starch and pectin, both of which support digestive health and feed friendly gut bacteria.
Summary Bananas are high in potassium, which may help regulate blood pressure. Unripe bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin, which can improve digestive health.

5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a delicious, nutritious tuber.
Cooked sweet potatoes contain about 18–21% carbs. This carb content consists of starch, sugar and fiber. 
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of provitamin A (from beta-carotene), vitamin C and potassium.
They are very rich in antioxidants and may help reduce oxidative damage, lowering the risk of several diseases.
Summary Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of provitamin A (from beta-carotene), as well as several other vitamins and antioxidants.

6. Beetroots
Beetroots are a purple root vegetable, commonly referred to as beets. 
Raw and cooked beets contain about 8–10% carbs, mainly from sugar and fiber.
They are packed with vitamins, minerals, potent antioxidants and plant compounds.
Beets are also high in inorganic nitrates, which transform into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure and may decrease the risk of several diseases.
Beet juice is also very high in inorganic nitrates and is often used to enhance physical performance during endurance exercises.
Summary Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. They contain high amounts of inorganic nitrates, which can improve health and boost physical performance.

7. Oranges
Oranges are among the world’s most popular fruits.
They are mainly composed of water and contain 11.8% carbs. Oranges are also a good source of fiber.
Oranges are especially rich in vitamin C, potassium and some B vitamins. In addition, they contain citric acid as well as several very potent plant compounds and antioxidants.
Eating oranges may improve heart health and help prevent kidney stones. They may also increase your uptake of iron from food, reducing the risk of anemia.
Summary Oranges are a good source of fiber. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C and other healthy plant compounds. Eating oranges may benefit heart health and help prevent anemia.

8. Blueberries
Blueberries are incredibly delicious.
They are frequently marketed as a superfood due to their high amounts of plant compounds and antioxidants.
They consist mostly of water as well as about 14.5% carbs.
Blueberries also contain high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.
Studies have shown that blueberries safeguard your body from oxidative damage. They may also improve memory in older adults.
Summary Blueberries are phenomenally healthy. They contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and protect your body from oxidative damage.

9. Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a citrus fruit with a sweet, bitter and sour flavor.
It contains about 9% carbs and has high amounts of several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.
Eating grapefruit can aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistant. Furthermore, eating grapefruit may help prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels and protect against colon cancer.
Summary Grapefruit contains various vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. It may help with weight loss and provide numerous health benefits.

10. Apples
Apples are a popular fruit with a sweet flavor and a distinctive crunchy texture.
They are available in many colors, sizes and flavors, all of which generally contain 13–15% carbs.
Apples boast many vitamins and minerals, but usually only in small amounts.
However, they are a decent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and healthy plant compounds.
Eating apples may benefit health in several ways, such as improving blood sugar control and reducing the risk of heart disease. Apples may also decrease the risk of some types of cancer.
Summary Apples contain a decent amount of vitamin C, antioxidants and plant compounds. Eating apples may improve blood sugar control as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

11. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a variety of the common bean. They are part of the legume family.  Cooked kidney beans contain 22.8% carbs in the form of starches and fiber. They are also high in protein.   
Kidney beans are rich in many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. They’re also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins and isoflavones.
Their numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar control and reduced risk of colon cancer. However, never eat them raw. Raw or improperly cooked kidney beans are toxic.
Summary Kidney beans contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Cooked kidney beans are also a good source of protein and are linked to several health benefits.

12. Chickpeas
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are part of the legume family.
Cooked chickpeas contain 27.4% carbs, 8% of which are fiber. They are also a good source of plant-based protein. 
Chickpeas contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus and B-vitamins.
Chickpeas are linked to improved heart and digestive health. They may also help prevent cancer.
Summary Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Eating chickpeas has been linked to benefits for heart and digestive health as well as cancer prevention.

Healthy Ways To Transition Into Fall

1. Journal About Your 10 Best Summer Memories
Gratitude or happiness journals can help retrain your mind to focus on the positive. Put a new spin on the gratitude journal and spend 20 to 30 minutes (or longer, if you like) writing about each of your top 10 favorite memories from summer. 
The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit, and feel. Journaling about positive memories from your summer can evoke a state of mindfulness as you close the chapter on summer and focus on the present.

2. Preserve Your Memories in a Photo Collage
Photos are one of the best ways to induce positive memories. Think about how happy you are when you look back on pictures of yourself and your loved ones enjoying the summer season. Surround yourself with fun photographs that will keep you in happy spirits for months to come. They're also a great conversation piece when friends and family come to visit.

Put together a collage of photos from the summer that you can put in your home or office. Perhaps you can select one photo from each of the fun times you spent time journaling about to represent your "Summer 2015" memories.
Another fun project is to make photo books (you can do this through online photo galleries like Snapfish or iPhoto) to put on your coffee table, or calendars that you can send as gifts.

3. Organize and Pack Away Your Summer Gear
Set aside time to wash and purge this season’s supplies. Now is a good time to wash all summer clothing and determine what you want to hold on to for another season and what can be donated, or given to younger relatives as hand-me-downs.
Do the same with your outdoor supplies like tents, tablecloths, grilling supplies, pool toys, and other items you collected over the summer. Box everything up and store them for next year.

4. Find Your New Flow
Our routines tend to shift with the seasons. For many families, fall is when kids begin a new school year and join extracurricular activities. For others, it may be a time to focus on work, whether it’s at an office or starting new projects around the house.
Going back to school or work doesn't have to be a bummer. It can be an exciting new chapter in your life, if you place your intention on setting new goals and having fun.

As you set your new routine, consider your responsibilities, health and wellness as well as your favorite leisure activities. Make a list of what is most important to you and your family. Your list might include exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, setting new goals, scheduling down time, beginning (or getting back into) a meditation practice, organizing activities, making time for fun and leisure, and establishing a new hobby.
Get the whole family involved to ensure everyone is on ready and excited for the fall routine.

5. Create a New Meal Plan
Fall means new seasonal fruits and vegetables will hit store shelves and your local farmers’ market. Revisit your meal plan and design one that includes fresh seasonal veggies and fruits, and explore new recipes for more grounding foods as you move into the cooler months.

Remember to shop around the outside perimeter of the grocery store, where all the fresh foods can be found. Minimize processed foods that are frozen, come in a box or a can; do your best to get all the colors of the rainbow in your diet each day.
Make it fun and involve the whole family when preparing your meals. Cooking together can be a lot of fun.

Plan and prep your snacks and meals for school or work in advance. Pack smaller containers with seeds, nuts, fresh-cut veggies, and fruits to keep you healthy when you’re on the go. Having healthy snack-size portions to munch on between meals will keep you satisfied and away from the vending machine or cookie jar. The key is to get creative and have fun, while keeping it healthy.

6. Get Daily Exercise or Movement
An active body is an important component to physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise or movement every day. Do your best to make sure you're doing some form of cardio to get your circulation moving, strength-building exercises to develop strong bones and muscle, and stretching to loosen and lengthen your muscles. Whether you're hitting the hiking trails, taking a yoga class, cycling, or swimming, choose an activity that you enjoy. If it’s fun, you'll keep doing it! 

*Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven't exercised for a long time or have chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis.

7. Get Social
Research shows that individuals who lack social connections or report frequent feelings of loneliness tend to suffer higher rates of infection, depression, and cognitive decline, according to an article published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 

Plan fun get-togethers with friends regularly. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, lunch, dinner, a social gathering with friends, or an event in your community, be sure to take time to stay connected with others and have fun. When we maintain a social connection with friends we tend to laugh more, have engaging conversations, and feel more supported through life's challenges.

8. Find an Activity for Shorter Days
Hobbies or activities that keep us mentally stimulated and bring us joy are a great way to pass the time indoors when the temperature falls and the days get shorter. Many people take on various creative projects such as expressive writing, arts and crafts, reading, and re-arranging interior spaces to keep them actively engaged during the fall and winter seasons when outdoor activities aren't as accessible.

You might find that this is a good time to explore taking an online course in an area that you want to learn more about. Coursera is a resource for free online courses offered by top universities and organizations worldwide. Here you can find more than 1,000 options for different topics to study at your own pace. Whatever you choose, find a class that inspires you to learn and keep growing, or one that brings you happiness, joy, and fulfillment.

9. Take Some Down Time
The Western world has trained us to be intently focused on the frenzy of doing, accomplishing, and acquiring. We spend the majority of our days outwardly focused. Unless we’re able to balance our lives with down time, we may find ourselves overloaded or exhausted. Many people think of down time as watching television, running errands, or scrolling through their social media feeds.
For Dr. Deepak Chopra, down time means doing no mental work and just letting the mind and brain simply be. Taking a hot bath, gazing at a fire in the hearth, meditating, or cozying up on the couch with a good book can be incredibly nourishing down-time activities. Down time allows you to rest and reboot, which should give you the focus and stamina to take on work or other challenges.

"The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done," essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times.

Transitioning gracefully from free-spirited, rule-breaking, and fun-loving summer back into fall routines can be fun, if that is your intention. A smooth transition to fall comes down to identifying how you want to spend your time and creating healthy new habits for the next six months. A small shift in perspective and a bit of self-discipline will help get you into a great new routine in no time at all.

Remember to design your routine with balance in mind and you’ll set yourself up for success as you transition into the fall season.

Shift Your Mindset For Weight Loss

Shifting your mindset about how to lose weight is the biggest factor in losing weight.  We can't shift our weight from the outside without realizing the correct inner resolve and intention. Most people try to lose weight with the worst state of mind possible: wanting to "fix" themselves. They jump into diets and exercise plans out of self-deprecation, all the while pinching their "trouble" spots, calling themselves "fat" and feeling altogether less-than. They get obsessed with results, focus on quick fixes and lose sight of sustainability and even health.

This type of thinking can be destructive, rather than focusing on the good that can come of weight loss – such as better health, a longer life, more enjoyment in everyday activities and the prevention of diabetes and heart disease – these folks focus on negative thoughts. Ultimately, a negative mindset leads to failure.
Yes, shifting your attitude around weight loss isn't just about feel-goodery; it's about results. In fact, research from Syracuse University shows that the more dissatisfied women are with their bodies, the more likely they are to avoid exercise. And simply thinking that you're overweight predicts future weight gain, according to 2015 research published in the International Journal of Obesity.

While psychologists stress that how you see yourself and your core identity predicts your actions (see yourself as overweight, averse to exercise or unworthy, and you'll act accordingly), biology may also play a role. Research published in Psychosomatic Medicine even show that the stress hormone cortisol, which your adrenal glands secrete every time you get down on yourself or worry about how you measure up on the scale, increases distribution of fat around the abdomen. 

Fortunately, the mind is a flexible thing. Follow these 10 expert-approved tips to change your mindset and make your weight-loss approach healthier, happier and way more effective.

1. Change Your Goals
Losing weight might be a result, but it shouldn't be the goal. Rather, your goals should small, sustainable things over which you have full control.  Did you eat five servings of fruits and veggies today? There's one goal met. What about eight hours of sleep; did you get them in? If so, you can check another goal off of your list.

2. Gravitate to Positivity
Surround yourself with positive people. Doing so provides you an encouraging, emotionally healthy environment in which to invest in yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for help or support. 

3. Rethink Rewards and Punishments
Keep in mind that making healthy choices is a way of practicing self-care.  Food is not a reward, and exercise is not a punishment. They are both ways of caring for your body and helping you feel your best. You deserve both.

4. Take a Breath
Taking a few minutes at the beginning of your workout, or even at the beginning of your day, to slow down and simply focus on the act of breathing can help you set your intentions, connect with your body and even lower your body's stress response, Hutchins says. Lie on your back with your legs extended and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold for two and then exhale through your mouth for six, she says. With each breath, the hand placed on your stomach should be the only one to rise or fall.

5. Throw Out the Calendar
Patience is also important when you are losing weight in a healthy and sustainable matter. Plus, if you focus on meeting truly actionable goals, like taking 10,000 steps each and every day, there's no need to get wrapped up in a timeline of goals ahead. Every 24 hours comes with new successes; focus on those.

6. Identify Your 'Trouble Thoughts'
Identify the thoughts that get you into trouble and work to stop and change them. Maybe it's your internal dialogue when you look into the mirror. Or cravings when you get stressed. Consciously make them stop by saying 'stop' out loud.  It might sound silly, but that simple action will break your chain of thought and allow yourself the opportunity to introduce a new, healthier one. The best way to do this is to count from one to 100 as many times as you need until the destructive thoughts subside.

7. Don't Step on the Scale
While the scale isn’t intrinsically bad, a lot of us have learned to associate it with self-destructive thoughts and actions. If that's you, don't even bother stepping on the scale until you get to a place in which the number on the scale doesn't define your worth.

8. Talk to Yourself Like You Would a Friend
When it comes to ideals of beauty and body image, we are incredibly hard on ourselves. The standards we adopt for ourselves are punishing. And we'd never hold our friends or loved ones to many of those standards. You deserve the same respect and compassion as anyone else; treat yourself like it.

9. Forget the Whole 'Foods Are Good or Bad' Mentality
Somewhere along the line, we've learned to feel either proud or guilty about every food choice we make. But it's just food, and you shouldn't have to feel guilty about wanting the occasional cookie. Give yourself permission to have a glass wine or a piece of chocolate cake. Remember, all foods fit.

10. Focus on the Attainable
If you have never stepped into a gym before, your goal shouldn't be doing 30 minutes on the elliptical on day one. A better goal may be to go for a 20-minute walk.  If you want to cook more, but have little experience with healthy recipes or are strapped for time, don't expect yourself to craft new healthy recipes every night after work. Maybe consider using a delivery service such as HelloFresh or Blue Apron in which pre-portioned ingredients and recipes are sent to your door, helping you to get acquainted with new ingredients, try out new recipes and build fundamental cooking skills. Start where you are and build from there.

Healthier & Tasty Pumpkin Spice Latte Alternatives

It’s the start of fall, and we all know what that means: pumpkin spice lattes are back! And while the fans of the so-called “PSL” are everywhere, most people don’t know much about the ingredients or nutritional value of their beloved drink. Let’s take a closer look.

A medium, 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte made with reduced fat milk that’s topped with whipped cream is about 380 calories. While that might seem like a compromise — no whole milk, and not the largest size – it’s still the calorie equivalent of a meal! The medium PSL contains 14 grams of fat (half of it saturated) and 50 grams of sugar (12 teaspoons!).

It’s not all bad news, however. A PSL has a good protein boost with 14 grams (the amount in nearly two eggs or half a chicken breast).
The bottom line: If the PSL is part of your fall tradition, enjoy it – but in moderation. Look at it as a special indulgence, rather than a daily go-to drink.

Keep the same taste you know and love, but consider downsizing your portion. Going down a size saves 100 calories and cuts the fat and sugar by 25 percent. If you also swap out the reduced fat milk to skim milk (or unsweetened soy or almond milk) and skip the whipped cream, you’ll save about 140 calories, and wind up with a drink around 250 calories. And if you think 140 calories isn’t much — if you saved that every day, you’d lose a pound at the end of a month!

There are also a number of good alternatives to get the PSL experience, without the added calories, fat, and sugar.

1. Try a pumpkin pie spice ready-to-drink creamer. 
At a mere 35 calories per tablespoon, you can get the essence of the PSL with a tablespoon or two added to your coffee. Add a splash of the milk (or alternative) of your choice to boost the flavor.

2. Try this 60-calorie pumpkin spice coffee drink.
Take a large mug and add eight ounces hot coffee (regular or decaf), four ounces reduced fat milk (or unsweetened almond, soy or your choice), one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon sugar (or low calorie sweetener).

3. Consider this pumpkin spice chai.
Take a large mug and add one cup of oat milk (or milk of your choice), one chai tea bag, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and one teaspoon sugar (or low calorie sweetener). Heat in a small pan or the microwave. Stir and enjoy. (around 150 calories).

4. Go to town with this frappuccino-esque PSL.

Blend together one medium banana, 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree, one cup unsweetened milk of your choice (non-fat or low fat milk, almond, soy, oatmeal), ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, one teaspoon sugar (or low calorie sweetener). Mix and enjoy — serves two and has just 125 calories per serving.

Eating For Optimal Brain Health

The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body's calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.
The brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. 

This article explores the scientific evidence behind the best brain foods.

1. Oily fish
Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.

A 2017 study found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain. The researchers also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition, or thinking abilities.
These results suggest that eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as oily fish, may boost brain function.

Examples of oily fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include:

People can also get omega-3s from soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.

2. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.

Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. According to a 2013 review, they may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.

Some research also suggests that the flavonoid component of chocolate may reverse memory problems in snails. Scientists have yet to test this in humans.

However, a 2018 study in humans also supports the brain-boosting effects of dark chocolate. The researchers used imaging methods to look at activity in the brain after participants ate chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.

The researchers concluded that eating this type of dark chocolate may improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning, and may also provide other brain-related benefits.

3. Berries
Like dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these may make the berries good food for the brain.

Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.

A 2014 review notes that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain, including:
improving communication between brain cells
reducing inflammation throughout the body
increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline

Antioxidant-rich berries that can boot brain health include:

4. Nuts and seeds
Eating more nuts and seeds may be good for the brain, as these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

A  2014 study found that a higher overall nut intake was linked to better brain function in older age.

Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may therefore support brain health in older age.

A 2014 review found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.

The nuts and seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include:
sunflower seeds
Fully exploring vitamin E's effects on the brain will require further research.

5. Whole grains
Eating whole grains is another way to benefit from the effects of vitamin E, with these grains being a good source of the vitamin.
Whole-grain foods include:
brown rice
bulgur wheat
whole-grain bread
whole-grain pasta

6. Coffee
Coffee is a well-known concentration aid — many drink it to stay awake and encourage focus.

The caffeine in coffee blocks a substance in the brain called adenosine, which makes a person feel sleepy.

Beyond boosting alertness, a 2018 study suggests that caffeine may also increase the brain's capacity for processing information.

The researchers found that caffeine causes an increase in brain entropy, which refers to complex and variable brain activity. When entropy is high, the brain can process more information.

Coffee is also a source of antioxidants, which may support brain health as a person gets older. One study has linked lifelong coffee consumption with reduced risk of:
cognitive decline
Parkinson's disease
Alzheimer's disease

Caffeine can, however, affect a person's sleep and doctors do not recommend caffeine consumption for everyone.

7. Avocados
A source of healthful unsaturated fat, avocados may support the brain.
Eating monounsaturated fats may reduce blood pressure, and high blood pressure is linked with cognitive decline.

Thus, by reducing high blood pressure, the unsaturated fats in avocados may lower the risk of cognitive decline.

Other sources of healthful unsaturated fats include:
almonds, cashews, and peanuts
flaxseed and chia seeds
soybean, sunflower, and canola oils
walnuts and Brazil nuts

8. Peanuts
Peanuts are a legume with an excellent nutritional profile. They contain plenty of unsaturated fats and protein to keep a person's energy levels up throughout the day.
Peanuts also provide key vitamins and minerals to keep the brain healthy, including high levels of vitamin E and resveratrol.

Resveratrol is a natural non-flavonoid antioxidant found in peanuts, mulberries, and rhubarb. Evidence from a review article suggests that resveratrol can have protective effects, such as helping to prevent cancers, inflammation, and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

9. Eggs
Enjoyed by many for breakfast, eggs can be an effective brain food.

They are a good source of the following B vitamins:
vitamin B-6
vitamin B-12
folic acid
Recent study suggests that these vitamins may prevent brain
shrinkage and delay cognitive decline.

10. Broccoli
As well as being a low-calorie source of dietary fiber, broccoli may be good for the brain.

Broccoli is rich in compounds called glucosinolates. When the body breaks these down, they produce isothiocyanates.

Isothiocyanates may reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Broccoli also contains vitamin C and flavonoids, and these antioxidants can further boost a person's brain health.

Other cruciferous vegetables that contain glucosinolates include: 
brussels sprouts
bok choy

11. Kale
Leafy greens, including kale, may support brain health.
Like broccoli, kale contains glucosinolates, and leafy greens also contain other key antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This is why many consider kale to be a superfood.

Supplements for brain function
In addition to making dietary changes, some people consider taking supplements to improve their brain function. But do these supplements actually work?

Taking vitamins B, C, or E, beta-carotene, or magnesium may improve brain function if a person has a deficiency in any of them. If a person does not have a deficiency, these supplements are unlikely to improve mental performance.

Research suggests that taking ginseng may improve this performance. However, further studies are needed before doctors can recommend ginseng to enhance brain function.

The foods listed above may help improve a person's memory and concentration. Some may also reduce the risk of stroke and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Some of the foods contain compounds such as healthful fatty acids, which can help improve the structure of brain cells called neurons. Other compounds, such as sugars and saturated fats, may damage brain cell structures.

Brain-boosting foods tend to contain one or more of the following:
antioxidants, such as flavonoids or vitamin E
B vitamins
healthful fats
omega fatty acids

Beyond adjusting the diet, a person can optimize their brain function by:
not eating too much or too little
getting enough sleep
keeping hydrated
exercising regularly
reducing stress through yoga mindfulness, or meditation
reducing alcohol intake

Eating a brain-boosting diet will also provide many benefits for the entire body.

Tips For Healthy and Safe Tailgating

Take a Tailgate Time Out
Before you dive into the buffet, follow these tips to curb your caloric intake: 
Earn a little splurge on Saturday afternoon by saving a few food items from your eating plan during the week.
Before the festivities begin, have a small snack that contains protein and fiber (like cereal and yogurt) so you'll be less tempted to overeat.
Survey all the offerings before you load your plate, then select plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean dairy and protein.
Eat from a plate instead of continually grazing from the buffet. This will help you keep track of how much you're eating.
Remember that alcohol has plenty of calories. One tactic is to alternate alcoholic drinks with zero-calorie beverages throughout the day. Remember that too much alcohol can lead to increased hunger. 

Score Points With Guests
If you're the party host, do your fellow fans a favor by making sure your buffet includes plenty of healthy offerings such as:
Fresh fruit, sliced or in salads or kabobs
Assorted vegetables with low-fat dips and salsas
Low-fat snacks such as popcorn, pretzels, and baked chips
Lean meats and seafood and low-fat cheeses
Whole-grain breads and crackers
Salads made with light dressings
Salsas, wraps, salads, or stews made with fiber-filled and high- protein beans

Touchdown Tips for Food Safety
According to the American Dietetic Association, the average sports fan partakes in tailgating five times during a football season. And according to a recent survey, most tailgaters take unnecessary food-poisoning risks. Food is often kept at temperatures that promote bacterial contamination. Many tailgaters also recycle pre-game picnic food to eat again after the game.

Follow these guidelines to keep your food out of the danger zone:
Make sure foods that will be served cold are cold before you put them in the cooler.
Don't use a cooler that's too large. A full cooler will keep foods cold longer.
Carefully package raw meat. Put it in the bottom of the cooler to avoid drips and cross-contamination
Pack coolers just before you leave for the game, and use ice packs to maintain temperatures.
Use a thermometer in your cooler to be sure foods stay at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep coolers out of the sun, perhaps under a tree.
Bring waterless hand sanitizer or moistened towelettes to keep hands clean.
Bring a meat thermometer to ensure that burgers and brats are cooked to 160 degrees and chicken breasts to 170 degrees.
Throw away any perishable foods that are left from your pre-game picnic so no one will be tempted to eat them after the game.
Do not leave food unrefrigerated for more than two hours. In hot weather (90 degrees or above), the time limit is one hour.

Why You Need To Stretch After Your Workout

Stretching after working out is a highly recommended practice. The benefits of stretching before a workout are often discussed, emphasizing its role in injury prevention. When you stretch after a workout, you benefit from both physiological and psychological effects.

Your muscles should be warm before you begin your stretching. Do a warmup before a workout that simulates the movements you’ll be doing in order to warm up and prepare your body. Stretch after the workout when your muscles are already warm.
Benefits of Post Workout Stretches:

Increased Flexibility
One of the foremost benefits of stretching is increased and enhanced flexibility of the different muscle groups. It helps constricted and contracted muscles release back to their more comfortable state and your body will eventually become more flexible, which can help prevent injuries
With consistent post -workout stretching, the body becomes more flexible. You will find it easier to bend, stand, squat and do a host of other flexibility related exercises, which would have otherwise not been possible. It has been seen that leg stretches done after a long run increases muscular power and endurance especially for runners.

Improved Blood circulation
When you indulge in an intense workout, the body pumps blood faster to the heart making it beat at a rapid rate. Stretching allows the body to cool down and also helps the heart beat to return to normalcy. The release of lactic acid during an intense workout is broken with stretching.
This allows muscle recovery and repair. The blood circulation to the muscles is once again resumed with stretching. This also allows the heart rate to come back to its original resting rate.

Eliminates Lactic Acid
The moment you workout muscles, the body produces lactic acid which makes the muscles fatigued and sore. Hence, it is important to stretch as stretching eliminates the lactic acid that has accumulated inside the body and also relaxes the muscles.

Boost your energy
If you stretch properly, you’ll likely notice that your energy level is steady and consistent. When the body cools down, the brain releases endorphins, a natural and healthy feel-good chemical. After a good post-workout stretch, you’ll be energized and ready to meet any challenge.

Pain Prevention
Stretching properly after a workout will not dissipate the pain but will definitely minimize it to a large extent. On the other hand, if your muscles remain tight after a workout, it increases your risk of muscle injury. Stretching can actually minimize and reduce your predisposition to injuries.

Improved Range of Motion
Muscles that have not been stretched tend to remain constricted which prevents you from using them to their full capacity.
If you use your muscles and stretch them after a workout, you will be able to utilize the same muscles towards a greater range of motion. This will get your better results because you will have used your muscles to their maximum capacity.

Increased Muscular Coordination
Enhanced muscle coordination is a common benefit of stretching, especially for people participating in strength training. When you stretch tired muscles, you give them better functional mobility and allow them to synchronize properly.

Gradually slows down the body
When you go through an intense bout of exercise, your body can feel drained and fatigued, but stretching and breathing techniques will help you feel rested and relaxed. By gradually slowing down the body, as opposed to just stopping cold, you maximize the benefits of your workout.

Mental clarity and mind-body connection

Stretching isn’t just for the muscles. It also helps harmonize your mind, relax your mood, and relieve stress. Stretching also gives you a chance to tune into your body, taking notice of any sore muscles or joints that need extra attention or a break.

Time Management to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

1. Have a goal.
You’ve heard the saying: “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you ever get there?” It can be easy to lose track of time and direction if you don’t have an end goal in mind. It is important to get pretty clear on what exactly your goals are. Whether you want to lose weight, increase muscle, change your eating habits, manage your stress or change careers, deciding what your goals are is an important step to managing your time and being successful. Write your goals down and place them somewhere where you can see them every day. This will help serve as a reminder when life gets hectic, and will help you stick to your goals when it may seem easier to skip them.

2. Create a timeline.
Once you have determined what your goals are, spend some time creating a timeline. I like to start from the finish line and work backwards. For example, let’s say your goal is to run a particular, figure out how much time you will need to prepare. The same concept can be applied for other goals such as weight-loss, gaining mass or even getting more sleep. Start at the end and figure out how much time you will need to reach your goal.

3. Figure out what you need to do.
Now that you know where you are going and how much time you will need, it is time to write down exactly what you will need to do. If you want to lose weight, for example, you will likely engage in exercise, change your eating habits, drink enough water and get adequate sleep. Tackle each of these areas individually. What will you do for exercise? How many days a week? Will you take classes? Run outdoors? Get super specific and write these things down. Changing your eating habits requires you to make a grocery shopping list and plan your meals. If you eat out, set up some guidelines, such as choosing vegetables for side dishes, having a source of lean protein and drinking water or other calorie free beverages. Getting enough sleep requires you to make some healthy changes, too. Again write down these steps to help you get where you need to go. The clearer, more vivid you get, the better you will be in managing your time and reaching your goals.

4. Schedule your workouts.
Keep your workouts, trips to the grocery store and other healthy “to-dos” in your calendar, just as you would your work meetings or doctor’s appointments. Set reminders on your calendar to help you stay on track. Even better, arrange to exercise with a friend, which will increase your commitment and keep you accountable.

5. Plan your grocery trips.
Make it a point to schedule in time each week to go grocery shopping. Create a list and, if possible, keep it on your phone. By making it a point of going to the grocery store and taking a list with you every week, you will save yourself time and guess work, and reduce the temptation to fall off track with your eating habits.

6. Prepare your food in advance.
Now that you have gone to the store, build in time to prepare your meals. This can be done a few times a week (say Sundays and Wednesdays) or every morning for the day. Whatever your timeframe may be for preparing your food, it is important to build it into your day to make it easier to stay on track and work toward your goals. If you end up eating out often, spend some time reviewing the menus ahead of time so you have an idea of the healthy options available.

7. Take advantage of your “down” time.
When the kids are down for a nap or you have an extra few minutes at the office or on the weekends, take advantage of this time. What tasks have you been putting off? Use this time to get them done. If you are at work, take a walk. If the kids are asleep, get in a home workout. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and feel like you just “don’t have the time,” the reality is we can create the time if we make our goals a priority.

8. Check in weekly.
Once a week, take the time to evaluate your progress, your time and the plans for the upcoming week. Do things need to shift a bit? What were your barriers? This step is important as it will help keep you balanced and present. It allows you to shift things around and refocus for the next week.

Yoga, Benefits Beyond The Mat

Yoga, an ancient practice and meditation, has become increasingly popular in today's busy society. For many people, yoga provides a retreat from their chaotic and busy lives. This is true whether you're practicing downward facing dog posture on a mat in your bedroom, in an ashram in India or even in New York City's Times Square. Yoga provides many other mental and physical benefits. Some of these extend to the kitchen table.

Types of Yoga
There are many types of yoga. Hatha (a combination of many styles) is one of the most popular styles. It is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises). These are followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period).
The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. At this "edge," the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.

A Better Body Image
Yoga develops inner awareness. It focuses your attention on your body's abilities at the present moment. It helps develop breath and strength of mind and body. It's not about physical appearance.
Yoga studios typically don't have mirrors. This is so people can focus their awareness inward rather than how a pose — or the people around them — looks. Surveys have found that those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn't practice yoga. They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their bodies. For these reasons, yoga has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem.

Becoming a Mindful Eater
Mindfulness refers to focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment without judging yourself.
Practicing yoga has been shown to increase mindfulness not just in class, but in other areas of a person's life.
Researchers describe mindful eating as a nonjudgmental awareness of the physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. They developed a questionnaire to measure mindful eating using these behaviors:
Eating even when full (disinhibition)
Being aware of how food looks, tastes and smells
Eating in response to environmental cues, such as the sight or smell of food
Eating when sad or stressed (emotional eating)
Eating when distracted by other things
The researchers found that people who practiced yoga were more mindful eaters according to their scores. Both years of yoga practice and number of minutes of practice per week were associated with better mindful eating scores. Practicing yoga helps you be more aware how your body feels. This heightened awareness can carry over to mealtime as you savor each bite or sip, and note how food smells, tastes and feels in you mouth.

A Boost to Weight Loss and Maintenance
People who practice yoga and are mindful eaters are more in tune with their bodies. They may be more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness.
Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating.

Enhancing Fitness
Yoga is known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body. But it can also have an impact on a person's exercise capacity.
Researchers studied a small group of sedentary individuals who had not practiced yoga before. After eight weeks of practicing yoga at least twice a week for a total of 180 minutes, participants had greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.

Cardiovascular Benefits
Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It's likely that the yoga restores "baroreceptor sensitivity." This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance.
Another study found that practicing yoga improved lipid profiles in healthy patients as well as patients with known coronary artery disease. It also lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.
Before you start a new exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor.
Researchers are also studying if yoga can help people with depression and arthritis, and improve survival from cancer.

Yoga may help bring calm and mindfulness to your busy life. 

Learn about Access Bars & Reiki

What is Reiki?
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."

A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing. Many have reported miraculous results.

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.
An amazingly simple technique to learn, the ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class. This ability is passed on during an "attunement" given by a Reiki master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of "life force energy" to improve one's health and enhance the quality of life.

What is Access Bars?
The Access Bars® is an amazing treatment that involves gently touching 32 points on your head.  This supposedly releases anything that doesn't allow you to receive. These points (aka bars) contain all the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, emotions, and considerations that you have stored in any lifetime. This is an opportunity for you to let go of everything!

Each Access Bars® session can release limitations in the area of your life that corresponds with the specific bar being touched. This is an incredibly nurturing and relaxing process, undoing limitation in all aspects of your life that you are willing to change.

How much of your life do you spend doing rather than receiving?
Have you noticed that your life is not yet what you would like it to be? You could have everything you desire (and even greater!) if you are willing to receive lots more and maybe do a little less! Receiving The Bars® will allow this to begin to show up for you.

How does it work?
Access Bars® has assisted thousands of people to change many aspects of their body and their life including sleep, health and weight, money, sex and relationships, anxiety, stress and so much more.

Some compare the brain to a computer and The Bars® treatment to a disk defragmenter.  The bars (points on the head) correspond to different areas of the brain (the computer files) that relate to aspects of everyday life, such as joy, creativity, money, control, creating connections,  calmness or experiencing gratitude etc.  We carry our own limiting thoughts, beliefs, emotions and patterns in these areas (like junk files, or spam) based on judgements absorbed from society, culture family, friends and personal experience.  Ideas about right and wrong, good and bad, interfere with accepting life as it is and making changes that empower us.  We may even be well aware of how these judgements draw us off-centre, away from our inherent connection to wholeness and oneness.

When an Access Bars® practitioner touches the bars on a person’s head, the electrical charge in the brain which holds these fabricated judgements is dispersed (i.e. the junk files deleted!).  Patterns and ‘programs’ we’ve taken on cause us to react to life on autopilot, with unconscious resistance to the very experiences we most long for.  Once cleared, we become free to function again with clarity and awareness, receiving who we truly are without fear and obstruction, and open to entirely new vistas of possibility.

Studies have shown that The Bars® treatment slows brainwaves down to a theta state allowing behavioral patterns and childhood perspectives to surface and be released, and a greater state of presence, allowance, and openness to arise.  Limiting thoughts, beliefs and feelings can be lifted, including fears about money, blocks to creativity, difficulty receiving, residual grief, or any other habits that no longer work for you.

The Bars® are a tool that facilitate a different way of functioning on the planet.  For trillions of years, human beings have functioned from the density of their thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is what people have identified with, this is what people have made valuable.  The more you get your bars run, the more you begin to perceive how much effort it actually takes to function from thoughts, feelings and emotions. You also start to perceive the possibility of functioning from perceiving, knowing, being and receiving.  For most people, getting their bars run is the first time that they actually allow themselves to receive without obligation and consideration. It's like activating a computer virus of consciousness!

Bars can be used to facilitate change in all areas of your life.  When you are willing to function from more consciousness, you begin to open the doors to all healing.  Science tells us that the shape of your cells actually becomes more elliptical when they are influenced by thoughts, feelings and emotions, which is the first step to dis-ease.  When you get your bars run, it unlocks this impact on the cells allowing the cells to return to their more spherical shape facilitating more ease in the body.
Access Consciousness® tools including The Bars® are used by Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Physiotherapists, Family Play Therapists, Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Business Coaches and Trainers and everyday people to create simple fast change.

Why You Should Incorporate Planks Into Your Workout

With exercise, sometimes the simplest of movements result in the greatest gains to your fitness, and this is certainly the case with planks. To do a plank, you hold your body (the trunk portion) off the ground, making sure to hold it in a straight line.

If you’ve never tried one, a plank may look easy, almost too easy to be beneficial, but this is deceiving. While getting into the proper form is straightforward, holding the position takes strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core.

The plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance. There are many variations you can try to add intensity and work different areas of your body. 

5 Benefits of Doing Planks
Planking has become increasingly popular for core strengthening, and for good reason: it works – in large part because it engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. What are some of the benefits you can expect from adding this exercise to your regular routine?

1.A Toned Belly
Planking will help build your deep inner core muscles that lay the groundwork for that six-pack look. As your abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section will tighten.
Keep in mind, however, that in order to really get "six-pack" abs, you have to shed fat. For men that would be a body fat of about 6 percent, and women around 9 percent, in order to achieve that classic six-pack. This is not necessarily healthy.

2.Reduce Back Pain
Planks work for back pain because they strengthen your core, which has the pleasant “side effect” of reducing back pain. They also strengthen your back muscles, especially those in your upper back. Because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain.

While building strength, planks also increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups. The muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades will expand and stretch (an area that often receives little attention), as will your hamstrings and even the arches of your feet and your toes.
If you do a side plank, you can also stretch out your sides (especially if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body). To increase the stretching benefits, try a rocking plank – once in basic plank form, rock your body back and forth by moving your toes a few inches either way.

4.Improve Your Mood
Virtually every exercise has the potential to give you a mood boost,   and planks are no exception. Planks are unique, however, in that they help stretch and ultimately relax muscles groups that often become stiff and tense from prolonged sitting. The tension release that planks provide is uplifting for your spirit.

5.Improve Your Balance and Posture
To do a plank correctly, you must engage your abs to stay upright. Side planks or planks with extensions are particularly beneficial for building balance, as are planks performed on a stability ball. To test and strengthen your balance, try a side plank with a leg raise – get into side plank position, then lift your top leg and hold for one count. Lower it and repeat, then switch sides.4 In addition, planks work all the muscles you need to maintain proper posture, like your back, chest, shoulders, abs, and neck. If you do planks regularly, you’ll find you’re able to sit or stand up straighter with ease.