Fitness & Nutrition Blog

Financial Health During The Holidays



The gift-giving season can be stressful for you and your bank account, especially since the rest of your bills don’t take snow days. Financial wellbeing is important to your overall health, which is why this year we suggest you stress less about the price tag of the holidays and focus on a more strategic shopping regimen. We’ve put together the following tips to help keep you from over-shopping and overspending this holiday season.

Budgeting is best.

The best way to avoid overspending is to set a budget. Think of those you want to buy for and set a limit on the price of each gift. Decide how you want to shop and how deep into your wallet you’re willing to dig. Some people find success in one blanket gift for everyone on their list, like buying everyone the same fruitcake or hat and scarf. Others find joy in personalizing each gift, giving something that’s unique to each recipient. No matter how you shop, one thing’s for sure—you’ll fair better financially by making and adhering to a budget.

 

Make a list and check it twice.

Before you embark on your gift-shopping journey, have a clear objective of what exactly you’re shopping for, and for whom. Have you ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach? If you’re starving at the grocery store, odds are you’ll fill your cart with more food than you bargained for. It’s a common mistake, and you can struggle with the same over-shopping problem if you do your holiday shopping without a list, plan or agenda. Without a clear goal, you’re more likely to over-shop and overspend this holiday season. Be clear and concise with your gift giving this year, and stick to your list. Try a digital list or a gift-giving app to help you stay on track while on-the-go.


Do all of your shopping at once.

A little shopping here and there could result in a lot of money spent. That’s because every time you venture out to the store or begin tapping around online, you run the risk of finding another good deal or sale that you can’t refuse. If you finish your shopping in one swoop, you’ll hamper that temptation to just one outing or Internet browsing session—and help your financial state stay intact. Your financial wellbeing will flourish too, because you’re limiting all the stress and anxiety of crowded stores to one event. Take a page out of Santa’s playbook and spend just one night worrying about gifts, so you can enjoy yourself the rest of the holiday season.

Try something homespun.

Great gifts don’t have to be store bought. Try turning a hobby into a holiday favorite by using your skills to create a thoughtful present. If you knit or crochet, consider creating a warm blanket or socks for loved ones. Everyone in the mitten state could use their own pair of mittens. And who doesn’t love receiving something that’s been handcrafted just for them? If garments aren’t your thing, maybe you can paint or draw a portrait, build a birdhouse or create a culinary delight in the kitchen. Combine several treats into a basket or bin that could be repurposed for storage year-round. If you love essential oils, try creating a blend of homemade all-purpose cleaning spray with a mood-boosting scent that every living space could always use. From quilts to chocolate chip cookies, you can save some cash on gifts this year simply by being crafty.


While we all want to woo our friends and loved ones by showering them with gifts, it’s best to remember this: it’s still the thought that counts – not the price tag.  The holidays have their way of affecting our mental health and physical state through stress and anticipation, the last thing we need is to let this time of year strain our financial wellbeing any more than it has to.  So go shopping, but please keep your wellbeing, and in this case, your bank account, in mind. 

The Daily Practice of Gratitude

 



Gratitude is about grounding yourself and focusing on the good. The good can really be anything that makes you happy: from the cup of coffee you had this morning to the people in your life. Practicing gratitude is not lecturing yourself and saying “you should be grateful, other people have it worse.” Instead, it’s about spending time to focus on the good, however large or small that may be. And by regularly taking some time to do that, you will develop habits (and even rewire your brain!) to think and live a little more positively, benefitting both your mental and physical health. 


Here are some benefits of gratitude: 

Better sleep!

The thing we all need: more sleep! People who practice gratitude before bed are proven to sleep better. It totally makes sense! We all know that spiral of negativity that keeps so many of us awake: Did I remember to send that email? I have to do laundry tomorrow. Why did I say that thing 10 years ago?  By regularly

practicing gratitude, you’re more likely to be able to focus on positive thoughts at bedtime and avoid that negative self-talk that keeps us awake.


Higher self-esteem

We live in a society of judgment, competition, and unreachable standards that tries to crush our self-esteem, resulting in negative and unhealthy relationships to our bodies and selves. Practicing gratitude is a great way to combat negative self-talk and feeling less than. Rather than compare ourselves to others (whether it be physically, emotionally, career, etc.) gratitude helps us to center ourselves and focus on the positives, improving our overall outlook on like and ourselves! 


Improved mental health

It sounds obvious, but it’s true. By routinely practicing gratitude, you rewire your brain to think more positively. Gratitude literally makes you produce “happy hormones” aka dopamine and serotonin. Just like with physical exercise, by regularly practicing gratitude, you can literally strengthen these neural pathways, resulting in better and long-lasting production of positive feelings. We’re not suggesting this is a cure for depression or anxiety, but it truly does make a difference on your mental health by regularly taking time to focus on positives. For a more in-depth look at how gratitude both directly and indirectly impacts depression and anxiety, check out this article from Psychology Today. 


It’s good for your physical health, too!

Or at the very least, grateful people are more likely to make healthier choices, like exercising regularly.  Studies suggest a wide range of improved health in people who practice gratitude including better sleep, lower inflammation and aches and pains. As we know, our mental and physical health are deeply connected. If you consider all the impact gratitude has on things like sleep and mental health, it makes sense that it would impact your physical health as well! Whether you feel better and are making healthier choices directly due to being grateful, or as an indirect result of things like sleeping better. 

Gratitude can even help us through trauma


As simple as it may sound, having the ability to reflect on what we’re grateful for can help us heal in the hardest of times. There have been numerous studies on the positive impact gratitude has on people who have experienced trauma. 


What it means to Practice Gratitude

There are a lot of ways to incorporate more gratitude in your life. It could be as small as thinking about one thing you’re grateful for that day. 

  • Make a list in your head. We suggest doing this either first thing in the morning or when going to sleep.
  • Say things you’re grateful for out-loud - try it while looking in the mirror. 
  • Tell people in your life you’re grateful for them and why. 
  • Meditate. Intention and gratitude go hand-in-hand. 
  • Write it down (our favorite). There are lots of ways to do it, the thing we like so much about this is having a record to refer to of things you’ve been grateful for. Some fun ideas include a gratitude jar or a gratitude journal. 

Since the idea is to make this a regular practice, try to figure out a method and time of day that works best for you, that way you’re more likely to stick with it.  When writing a list, try to aim for ten things no

matter how small. Even then, it can be hard to come up with all ten, and that’s okay. You’re not trying to put more pressure on yourself, but rather practically incorporate this positive (and free!) practice into your wellness routine. In a time where our culture has capitalized and corporatized “self-care” having these routines and practices that actually help us without charging us is that much more important! (And hey, that’s something you can add to your gratitude list). 


Remember, these changes won’t happen overnight. 


Just writing down a couple of things one morning will feel good at the moment, but won’t have a lasting impact. This is what we like so much about something like a gratitude journal or jar: it’s a tangible accumulation of what you’re grateful for - and the more you add, the larger that collection gets. So on those bad days, you have a physical reminder of all the good. 


Taking a few minutes a day to reflect on what you are grateful for can make a positive, long-lasting impact on your health and well-being. 

Regularly practicing gratitude is a special way improve both your mental and physical health. Whatever gratitude looks like for you, taking a little time to think about what you’re grateful for every day could make a big difference in your life. 

Is Muscle Confusion A Legit Training Theory?



If you ever get confused by fitness fads and trends, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Apparently, your muscles get confused, too. Muscle confusion, thought of when changing things up often in your workout to avoid a plateau, isn’t a scientific term.

You won’t find it in exercise science research journals or textbooks. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a certified trainer or fitness expert that believes wholeheartedly in it.

That’s because the theory of muscle confusion is really just a myth that’s found its way into the marketing for popular fitness programs such as P90X.

The theory behind muscle confusion

At first glance, the theory behind muscle confusion sounds convincing. In order to make progress toward your fitness goals, you need to keep your body guessing. Which means, changing up your workouts frequently so you don’t hit a plateau.

So, just how often is frequently? Well, some programs that rely on muscle confusion say to vary your exercises weekly or every other day, and others recommend you switch things up daily. By changing things, your body won’t be able to stay the same and will have to adapt to the changing workouts.

But here’s the thing, our bodies don’t change that quickly. Sure, changing up your workouts can be helpful, but only after some time.

That’s why workouts should remain mostly the same for at least four to six weeks.

So, is it real or hype?

Compared to other fitness theories that’re grounded in science, it’s pretty safe to say that muscle confusion is hype. What muscle confusion completely misses, is the fact that we’re exercising so our bodies adapt by getting stronger and leaner. So, we actually want to be consistent with what we do in workouts so that our bodies work hard to adapt.

What are some ways to break a fitness plateau?

If you find that your progress is lacking and your motivation has left the building, you might want to consider the fact that you’ve hit a plateau. The good news is there are several ways to break through a fitness plateau.

“To break through a plateau, we first need to identify whether it’s actually a plateau or not,” says Dutton. For example, if your weight hasn’t budged, or you haven’t gotten stronger for a few weeks, it’s time to change things up a bit.

Try progressive overload

One theory you can design your workout around is progressive overload.  

The idea behind progressive overload is that you challenge your muscles by changing the stress you put on them. This stress comes in the form of intensity, or the number of sets and repetitions you perform, and duration, or the amount of time you engage in the activity. Ways to use progressive overload to break a plateau include:

  • increasing the amount of weight you train with during your strength training days
  • increasing the duration of your cardiovascular workouts
  • changing your current exercises for new ones, such as taking an indoor cycling class instead of running on a treadmill
  • changing the number of sets you perform
  • changing the number of repetitions you do each set by adding resistance

By changing up the number of reps you perform and adjusting the resistance, you can elicit more significant increases in strength. For example, performing lower reps with heavier weight on one day and lighter weight with higher reps the next day.

A note about weight loss

If it’s a weight loss plateau you’re facing, a few days of tracking your food can give you insight into how much food you’re really eating and what you might be lacking. Most people need more protein in their diet.

When should you see a personal trainer?

Fitness newbie or not, anyone can benefit from a fresh set of ideas. There really is no wrong time to hire a personal trainer. Some people like to have a trainer to get them started, while others bring one on when they need some motivation and a fresh way of working out.

That said, hiring a personal trainer might be beneficial if:

  • you’re new to exercise and need help designing and implementing a program
  • you need help with proper form on strength training exercises
  • you need a boost of inspiration and motivation that a trainer can provide by taking you through a workout
  • you’re getting bored of doing the same workouts and need a trainer to design a series of new workouts based on your interests, goals, and current fitness level
  • you’re looking for a challenge
  • you have a specific injury or health condition that needs modifications in order to participate in an exercise program safely

At minimum, a qualified personal trainer will have a certification from a reputable organization such as ACSM, NSCA, NASM or ACE. Additionally, many personal trainers have degrees in areas such as exercise science, kinesiology, or pre-physical therapy.

The bottom line

The hype behind muscle confusion may continue to circulate in certain fitness circles, but one theory that will always stand the test of time is being consistent with how you train.

By following the principles of progressive overload — increasing the number of reps or sets you perform or adding time to your workouts — you will continue to see progress and reach your fitness goals.

 

It's Siesta Time!

 



What is the perfect time of day for a power nap?

There isn’t really a perfect time to take a power nap. The ideal time will depend more upon individual factors, such as a person’s individual schedule. For example, for people on a 9–5 work schedule, the best time to nap might be before or during the “post-lunch slump,” which is usually sometime between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.  

For those working during the day, naps after 4 p.m. are not ideal. Taking a nap too late in the day can interfere with getting quality nighttime sleep and interrupt a person’s circadian rhythms.

However, for shift workers or those who work nights, the ideal time for a power nap may be earlier or later.

 

Can sleeping too long or too short be bad for you?

There is some discrepancy among experts over what length of nap is most effective and beneficial.

Dr. Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, states that by taking a 90-minute nap, a person can get the same benefits they would from sleeping 8 hours. However, another study suggests the ideal nap length is 10 minutes.   

The science behind limiting the duration of a power nap boils down to something called sleep inertia. This term refers to the drowsiness a person may experience upon waking from a very long nap, which may significantly impair cognitive performance throughout the course of a day.

 

Health benefits of a power nap

There are many health benefits associated with taking regular power naps, among them long-term memory improvement, enhanced cognitive function, and increased creativity. Research also shows that naps might be beneficial for heart health. A recent case study followed Swiss adults who took 1–2 naps per week. it found that over a period of 8 years, these same individuals had a lower risk of heart disease and strokes than those who didn’t nap.

On the flip side, it’s worth noting that other research shows there may be negative long-term effects of regular napping. Research analyzed by the American Heart Association (AHA) shows that those who napped for an hour or more per day had 1.82 times the rate of cardiovascular disease than people who didn’t nap. However, this is probably due to correlation rather than direct causation, as that group may have had underlying health reasons that led to them taking frequent naps.

 

Ultimately, if a person is able to take short naps on any given day and feels more alert upon waking, they should feel free to do so. The benefits of napping seem to outweigh any potential drawbacks. However, researchers must continue to study the overall effects of napping on health.

 

Power naps vs. meditation

Though they’re quite different, napping and meditation seem to have several overlapping effects and benefits. While those who meditate are conscious and those who nap are unconscious, both groups enjoy an improved mental state afterward, accompanied by reductions in blood pressure, stress, and anxiety.  

While both can be healthy habits, those who meditate reap additional benefits that nappers may not receive. A few of these include needing less sleep, an overall boost in mood, and increased melatonin levels which can promote a more restful night’s sleep. Meditation also has the potential to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.  

 

A person who incorporates both regular or semi-regular naps and meditation into their lifestyle can expect improvements in many physiological and psychological areas.

 

Importance of sleep

If a person consistently fails to get enough restful nighttime sleep and naps as a result, they’re in a better position than a person who doesn’t get enough sleep and doesn’t nap at all. This is because napping can help reduce a person’s “sleep debt,” or the amount of sleep they’d ideally get to make up for the amount of sleep lost each night.

 

The American Psychological Association states that more sleep would make most Americans happier and healthier. The average American gets well below the recommended amount of 8 hours of sleep each night. While everyone’s sleep needs are different, a good night’s sleep of at least 7 or more hours for adults aged 18-60 helps protect the immune system and the heart, and allows optimal brain function and mental clarity throughout the day.

People who are chronically sleep-deprived — those who fail to get enough sleep over a period of 2 weeks or longer — exhibit brain deficits similar to those who haven’t slept in 3 days. They are also more prone to high-blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and depression. 


Summary

Overall, power naps can be an effective way to enjoy boosted energy, heightened focus, increased attention, and mental clarity. The ideal length is around 10 minutes according to some research.

Naps should not be used as a substitute for getting the recommended amount of sleep each night, ideally 7-9 hours for adults aged 18 – 60.

When kept to about 10–20 minutes per day, power naps can make a great addition to a healthy lifestyle and promote a variety of benefits for those who take them

 

Improve Your Mental Focus

 


The ability to concentrate on something in your environment and direct mental effort toward it is critical for learning new things, achieving goals, and performing well across a wide variety of situations.

Whether you are trying to finish a report at work or competing in a marathon, your ability to focus can mean the difference between success and failure.

Improving your mental focus is achievable, but that doesn't mean that it's always quick and easy. If it was simple, then we would all have the razor-sharp concentration of an elite athlete.

It will take some real effort on your part and you may have to make some changes to some of your daily habits. Here are some tips and tricks from psychology that can help you develop laser-like mental focus and concentration.

1)  Assess Your Mental Focus

Before you start working toward improving your mental focus, you might want to begin by assessing just how strong your mental focus is at the present moment.

Your Focus Is Good If...

  • You find it easy to stay alert
  • You set goals and break tasks up into smaller parts
  • You take short breaks, then get back to work

 

Your Focus Needs Work If...

  • You daydream regularly
  • You can't tune out distractions
  • You lose track of your progress

If the first set of statements seems more your style, then you probably already have fairly good concentration skills, but you could be even stronger with a little practice.

If you identify more with the second set of statements, then you probably need to work on your mental focus quite a bit. It might take some time, but practicing some good habits and being mindful of your distractibility can help.


2)  Eliminate Distractions

While it may sound obvious, people often underestimate just how many distractions prevent them from concentrating on the task at hand. Such intrusions might come in the form of a radio blaring in the background or perhaps an obnoxious co-worker who constantly drops by your cubicle to chat.

Minimizing these sources of distraction isn't always as easy as it sounds. While it might be as simple as turning off the television or radio, you might find it much more challenging to deal with an interrupting co-worker, spouse, child, or roommate.

One way to deal with this is to set aside a specific time and place and request to be alone for that period of time. Another alternative is to seek out a calm location where you know you will be able to work undisturbed. The library, a private room in your house, or even a quiet coffee shop might all be good spots to try.

Not all distractions come from outside sources.  Exhaustion, worry, anxiety, poor motivation, and other internal disturbances can be particularly difficult to avoid.  

A few strategies you might want to try to minimize or eliminate such internal distractions are to make sure you are well-rested prior to the task and to use positive thoughts and imagery to fight off anxiety and worry. If you find your mind wandering toward distracting thoughts, consciously bring your focus back to the task at hand.

3)  Limit Your Focus

While multitasking may seem like a great way to get a lot done quickly, it turns out that people are actually rather bad at it. Juggling multiple tasks at once can dramatically cut down on productivity and makes it much harder to hone in on the details that are truly important.

Think of your attention as a spotlight. If you shine that spotlight on one particular area, you can see things very clearly. If you were to try to spread that same amount of light across a large dark room, you might instead only glimpse the shadowy outlines.

Part of improving your mental focus is all about making the most of the resources you have available. Stop multitasking and instead give your full attention to one thing at a time.

4)  Live in the Moment

It's tough to stay mentally focused when you are ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, or tuned out of the present moment for some other reason.

You have probably heard people talk about the importance of “being present,”  It's all about putting away distractions, whether they are physical (your mobile phone) or psychological (your anxieties) and being fully mentally engaged in the current moment.

This notion of being present is also essential for recapturing your mental focus. Staying engaged in the here and now keeps your attention sharp and your mental resources honed in on the details that really matter at a specific point in time.

It may take some time but work on learning to truly live in the moment. You cannot change the past and the future has not happened yet, but what you do today can help you avoid repeating past mistakes and pave a path for a more successful future.


5)  Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Despite the fact that people have practiced forms of mindfulness meditation for thousands of years, its many health benefits are only recently starting to be understood.

In one study, researchers had human resources professionals engage in simulations of the sort of complex multitasking they engaged in each day at work.1

These tasks had to be completed in 20 minutes and included answering phones, scheduling meetings, and writing memos with sources of information pouring in from multiple sources including by phone calls, emails, and text messages.

Some of the participants received 8 weeks of training in the use of mindfulness meditation, and the results found that only those who had received this training showed improvement in concentration and focus.

Members of the meditation group were able to stay on task longer, switched between tasks less frequently, and performed the work more efficiently than the other groups of participants.

Practicing mindfulness can involve learning how to meditate, but it can also be as simple as trying a quick and easy deep breathing exercise. 


6)  Quick Tip to Regain Focus

Start by taking several deep breaths while really focusing on each and every breath.  When you feel your mind naturally begin to wander, gently and uncritically guide your focus back to your deep breathing. 

While this might seem like a deceptively simple task, you may find that it is actually much more difficult than it appears. Fortunately, this breathing activity is something you can do anywhere and anytime. Eventually, you will probably find that it becomes easier to disengage from intrusive thoughts and return your focus to where it belongs.


7)  Take a Short Break

Have you ever tried to focus on the same thing for a long period of time? After a while, your focus starts to break down and it becomes more and more difficult to devote your mental resources to the task. Not only that, but your performance ultimately suffers as a result.

Traditional explanations in psychology have suggested that this is due to attentional resources being depleted, but some researchers believe that it has more to do with the brain's tendency to ignore sources of constant stimulation.

So the next time you are working on a prolonged task, such as preparing your taxes or studying for an exam, be sure to give yourself an occasional mental break.

Shift your attention to something unrelated to the task at hand, even if it is only for a few moments. These short moments of respite might mean that you are able to keep your mental focus sharp and your performance high when you really need it.


8)  Keep Practicing

Building your mental focus is not something that will happen overnight. Even professional athletes require plenty of time and practice in order to strengthen their concentration skills.

One of the first steps is to recognize the impact that being distracted is having on your life. If you are struggling to accomplish your goals and find yourself getting sidetracked by unimportant details, it is time to start placing a higher value on your time. 

By building your mental focus, you will find that you are able to accomplish more and concentrate on the things in life that truly bring you success, joy, and satisfaction.

 

 

 

Pumpkins Have Great Benefits All Year Round

 



Is pumpkin good for you?

Move over, Charlie Brown, it’s time to give new meaning to the term “The Great Pumpkin”! This stunning squash is considered a superfood, a title typically reserved for natural foods that are especially nutrient-dense while generally being low in calories. In other words, yes: Pumpkin is very good for you.


The health benefits of pumpkin

Though pumpkin is often found in sugary treats and desserts, it’s actually not super sweet on its own, which makes it a perfect savory ingredient. Before you get your gourd on, here are some of the known health benefits of consuming pumpkin.


1. Great for your eyes

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which is really great for your vision and strengthening your immune system. Just a single serving (about one cup) of pumpkin can provide over 200% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. 

It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts


2. Healthy for your heart

\Pumpkin is high in potassium, which is a key ingredient for heart health.  A cup of pumpkin contains 16% of your daily recommended amount of  potassium.  And it also has heart-healthy vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants,  which can help prevent heart disease.


3. Boosts your immune system

A serving of pumpkin provides 19% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, an immune booster that helps reduce cell damage from free radicals (unstable molecules that can bind to your cells). Pumpkin also packs a punch when it comes to other immunity-strengthening antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin E and iron. 


4. Contains cancer-fighting carotenoids

Caro-what now?! Carotenoids are plant pigments produced by yellow, orange and red plants like pumpkins, carrots, squash and tomatoes. Carotenoids combat the effects of free radicals in your body, which may help protect certain types of cancer. 


5. Keeps you full

If you’re watching your weight, pumpkin is a good choice. It contains just 50 calories per cup, and it’s filling, too.  That same portion also provides three grams of fiber, which can keep you feeling fuller longer.


6. Super-healthy seeds

Don’t toss those pumpkin seeds! Once you separate them from the rest of the gourd’s gloopy innards, you can clean, spice and roast them for a nutritious nosh. The health benefits of pumpkin seeds include a reduced risk of cancer, improved bowel and prostate health, and a lower risk of heart disease.

They make for a tasty, protein-packed snack that travels well. Add them to a salad, oatmeal, homemade granola or over yogurt for a little bit of crunch.


How to include pumpkin in your diet

If you’ve typically thought of pumpkin as a seasonal splurge, it’s time to rethink. Why reserve pumpkin for just Thanksgiving pie and seasonal lattes when there are so many delicious — and healthy — ways to consume it all year long?


1.    Roast pumpkin in the oven for a side dish.

2.    Stir pureed or canned pumpkin into soups or sauces (even tomato sauce) to thicken them.

3.    Substitute pumpkin for fat or oil in breads, muffins and pancakes. 

4.    Add pumpkin to plain or vanilla yogurt with some pumpkin spice and just a smidge of honey.

5.    Mix pumpkin into a smoothie or turn it into a healthy pudding.  

Pumpkin spice lattes may be the subject of myriad memes, but there’s actually a latte to love about this fall fruit all year round. Though fresh pumpkins aren’t in season until autumn, canned pumpkin makes it easy — not to mention delicious and healthy — to enjoy throughout the year.


Barometric Pressure and Headaches

 



According to the American Migraine Foundation, over a third of people with migraine report that certain weather patterns trigger their headaches, at least some of the time.

Several studies have suggested that changes in weather, and especially changes in pressure, increase the likelihood of having a headache. 

Some people experience high-altitude headaches due to changes in barometric pressure, such as during plane travel. Others, who experience migraine headaches or tension-type headaches, find that weather-related changes in pressure trigger the pain and other symptoms.

Meanwhile, a 2017 study found there may be a link between atmospheric pressure and the severity of migraine pain.

The same year, a review pointed out that investigations into the link between weather and the occurrence of migraine headaches have arrived at mixed results.

However, one study in the analysis indicated that changes in weather may only trigger headaches associated with certain subtypes of migraine, which could explain the conflicting evidence.

Below, learn more about the association between changes in weather, and particularly in pressure, and the occurrence and severity of headaches.

 

What are the symptoms?

For some people, a headache, and sometimes other migraine symptoms, arise or worsen as soon as the weather changes. For others, it can take time for the issues to develop.

Still others might find that the pain and any other symptoms develop before the weather changes become noticeable.

People who have migraine commonly experience:

  • headaches that can last between 4 hours and 3 days
  • sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
  • nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting
  • distorted vision
  • mood or emotional changes, which often involve depression or anxiety
  • dizziness
  • more frequent yawning
  • speech changes
  • memory difficulties
  • difficulty concentrating and sleeping
  • cravings for specific foods

Causes

Headaches can occur when pressure changes affect the small, confined, air-filled systems in the body, such as those in the ears or the sinuses.

Changes in atmospheric pressure can create an imbalance in the pressure within the sinus cavities and the structures and chambers of the inner ear, resulting in pain.

The effects on the body may depend on how quickly these changes occur and how dramatic they are.

Regarding changes in barometric pressure, theories about the link with headaches involve the constriction of blood vessels, insufficient oxygen, or the overexcitement of areas of the brain that produce pain.

Weather and altitude changes

A person may experience a headache, or a worsened headache, due to:  

  • sudden changes in temperature or humidity
  • high or low levels of temperature or humidity
  • a storm, which changes the barometric pressure
  • changes in altitude, such as during plane travel

Treatment

Depending on the type and exact cause of a headache, a person may benefit from taking:

  • over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) 
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • antinausea medications
  • medications called triptans, which treat migraine and cluster headaches

A doctor may prescribe other or additional treatments, depending on a person’s specific symptoms.

Home remedies

A person can take some steps at home to reduce headaches and other migraine symptoms.

Common care strategies include:

  • applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the affected areas of the head and neck
  • practicing relaxation techniques
  • learning to breathe through the pain, keeping in mind that it will pass
  • avoiding triggers, such as caffeine and alcohol
  • limiting physical activity and exertion
  • taking a warm, relaxing bath or shower
  • getting plenty of rest
  • avoiding noisy or brightly lit areas

Prevention

The following can help prevent headaches related to weather or pressure changes:

  • when triggering weather patterns are forecasted, planning downtime to reduce stress and fatigue, which can worsen pain
  • taking NSAIDs
  • staying hydrated
  • avoiding stimulants
  • avoiding alcohol
  • having a healthful diet without added fats and sugar
  • having a regular sleep schedule
  • exercising regularly
  • practicing stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga or meditation
  • not skipping meals

When to see a doctor

People should see a doctor if headaches, or any other migraine symptoms, are severe or otherwise affect daily life.

Seek medical attention for any head pain that does not go away after:

  • using over-the-counter medication
  • trying home care techniques
  • using prescription medication

A person should receive medical care if they experience:

  • severe symptoms that do not respond to medication
  • a fever  
  • bloody stool, including diarrhea  
  • muscle weakness or numbness
  • changes in speech or vision that persist after the headache has gone
  • memory loss or confusion

Who is at risk?

Headaches and migraine can affect anyone at any age. Still, migraine is more likely to occur:

  • in females
  • between the ages of 18 and 44 years
  • in people with a family history of the condition

According to one study, 13% of people with migraine said that the weather influenced episodes, but the researchers noted that this figure may actually be much higher.

Takeaway

Many people report that they are more likely to have a headache or migraine episode during certain weather changes and conditions, as well as during changes in altitude.

While little research supports these associations, some experts believe that changes in pressure lead to the pain and other symptoms by affecting the sinuses and other cavities in the head,

Recognizing the triggers of a headache can help a person prevent or treat it. If symptoms are severe or accompanied by weakness or any other concerning changes, seek medical attention.

How Stimulating The Vagus Nerve Can Help With Health



What The Vagus Nerve Is

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body. It comes from the Latin word, vagus, for “wandering.” That’s because it wanders throughout your body, with wide distribution connecting the brainstem to the body. Only mammals have this nerve. It helps the immune system and inflammation response to disease. It has four main functions: sensory, special sensory, motor and parasympathetic. It has the dorsal and ventral parts to itself. The dorsal is the back and the ventral is in the front. During neuroception, both parts may be activated as you analyze environment cues of safety or danger. Safety cues activates the ventral, and danger cues activate the dorsal. There are three states of being: mobilization, immobilization or social engagement in response to your environment. A healthy vagal nerve leads you to respond mindfully.

 

The Love Nerve

The vagus nerve is activated when you are feeling compassion and empathy. A person with a strong vagal nerve profile is more altruistic. It is the kid most likely to intervene with the bully or give up recess time to help someone with homework. In a study, participants that were showed images of suffering activated their vagus nerve. When shown images of pride, it diminished. It fosters common humanity in your compassion for different groups of people, however diverse or different. It is called the “love nerve” because when activated, you are loving. It is caretaking in nature. 

 

Gives You Gut Feelings

The vagus nerve also manages fears. According to Medical News Today, “The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, which is linked to dealing with stress, anxiety, and fear–hence the saying, ‘gut feeling.’ These signals help a person to recover from stressful and scary situations.”

 

Emotional Regulation

Any time your brain perceives a threat, due to the sympathetic nervous system, it triggers the fight or flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system does the opposite–it calms you. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated when a danger is over, such as being pulled out of harm’s way from ongoing traffic while crossing the street. You are no longer distressed, you are at rest. However, sometimes, the brain remains in panic mode, as if you are still in danger.

The vagus nerve helps you to remain calm when you are stressed and to know when you are no longer in danger. It helps you to “rest and digest.” This is low tone dorsal activity. The parasympathetic though has high tone dorsal activity when you get into freeze mode. Typically, if you aren’t healthy emotionally, you are either in sympathetic (fight or flight becoming hypervigilant) or parasympathetic (freeze). Parasympathetic has two other states though- the rest and digest and according to the Polyvagal Theory, the ventral vagal branch of the parasympathetic which is social engagement. The ventral vagal allows you to be less guarded. 

 

Restore self-regulating vagal function through grounding and mindfulness as well self biofeedback such as breathwork. Fronteirs in Psychiatry, “the vagal tone is correlated with capacity to regulate stress responses and can be influenced by breathing, its increase through meditation and yoga likely contribute to resilience and the mitigation of mood and anxiety symptoms.” 

Clinical psychologist Dr. Glenn Doyle puts it this way: “The vagus nerve is deeply plugged into our heart, our guts, and our voice. Whenever we turn inward to check in with our true feelings; to check in with our intuitive wisdom; or to find our true expressiveness, we're lighting up the vagus nerve. Whenever our face reflects what we're really feeling or experiencing, the vagus nerve is at work. Whenever we plug into the rhythms of ourselves or the world around us, we're lighting up the vagus nerve. 

When we speak, shout, sing, the vagus nerve is lit up like a Christmas tree— which is one of the reasons why those activities can be so cathartic and emotional for so many of us.” 

 

Here are some ways to stimulate your vagus nerve:

 

Reset Ventral Vagus Nerve

In Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Neve by Stanley Rosenberg, there are a few exercises you can do to reset your ventral vagus nerve. They include The Basic Exercise, The Half Salamander Exercise and The Full Salamander Exercise:

 

The Basic Exercise

1.    Lie on back

2.    Interweave fingers on both hands and place behind head

3.    Without turning your head, look to the right

4.    Remain here until you spontaneously yawn or swallow

5.    Return to the neutral state with head and eyes straight

6.    Repeat on the other side

 

Rosenberg says the reason you move your eyes is there is “direct neurological connection between the eight suboccipital muscles and the muscles that move our eyeballs.”

 

The Half-Salamander Exercise

1.    Eyes looks right without turning head

2.    Tilt head to the right towards shoulder

3.    Hold for thirty to sixty seconds

4.    Then eyes and head straight back to neutral

5.    Eyes look left without turning head

6.    Tilt head to the left towards shoulder

7.    Hold for thirty to sixty seconds

8.    Then return to neutral state 

 

A variation is to look in the opposite direction of the head tilt so the head tilts left and eyes look right and vice versa. Both hold their necks thirty to sixty seconds.

 

Full Salamander Exercise

1.    Get on all fours

2.    Head is facing down

3.    Look left without turning head

4.    Tilt head to the left

5.    Let your left spine twist with the head tilt to the left

6.    Hold for thirty to sixty seconds

7.    Bring head and spine to center to straighten out

8.    Repeat on right side

 

Other Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve

 

1) Breathwork- diaphragmatic breathing

Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. As you breathe in, feel your stomach expand, and when you exhale, your stomach should go back down. This is also known as “belly breathing.”  This lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.

 2) Connection

Community and belonging help you to feel safe and secure. When you are connected, you are calmer and more positive.

 3) Diving Reflex

To stimulate the diving reflex, you need cold exposure. You can splash cold water on your face or put ice cubes in a ziploc bag against it. The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces anger and relaxes your body.

 4) Humming, Singing or Gargling 

Don’t you always feel better when you start to hum or sing? Your worries are swept away by a song. Well, that’s because it’s activating your vagus nerve! Simply sing to feel better or gargle if you prefer. 

 5) Probiotics

Gut bacteria improve brain function by activating the vagus nerve.

6) Omega 3 Fatty Acids

You can get these from fish oil, or if you’re a vegan, you can find them in chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seed oil and walnuts.

 7) Mindfulness and Meditation

According to a study, Loving-Kindness-Meditation created a healthy vagal tone in participants. Know that mindfulness in general is a way to activate your vagus nerve as well. Being present centers you.

 8) Yoga

Yoga is a parasympathetic activation exercise that helps with digestion, blood flow and more. 

 9) ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)

ASMR sends “tingles” from your scalp down your spine and helps calm your nervous system with the use of triggers or tools. This entails whispering, scratching, tapping and other noises that pull you into a trance. There are many on Youtube.

 10) ‘OM’ Chanting 

If you want to activate your vagus nerve, a great way to do it is by chanting “OM” over and over again. This is often used in yoga, mantras and different faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Whether you perceive it as a spiritual practice or just a meditation practice, it helps to calm you and create inner peace. Studies have shown that this creates greater relaxation.

11) Positive Self-Talk

A simple mantra stimulates the vagus nerve.  This produces positive self-talk even when you are feeling afraid or sad.  Act in accordance to your affirmations.  Try these; “I am enough”, “I am brave”, “Laughter lightens the load”, “I choose happiness”, “I accept situations I can not cotrol”, “I love my body”.

  

Exercise and Healthy Bones

 



Factors for Bone Growth

Bone density and exercise go hand in hand, and scientific research has confirmed the connection. In a paper published in 2019, researchers from the University of Michigan reviewed data from 1961 to 2009 to determine what impact exercise has on bone density.

In their research, the investigators found three characteristics of exercise have the largest impact on bone mass density (BMD). These include the magnitude, rate, and frequency of muscle strain.


Factors Affecting Bone Mass Density

-     The magnitude of muscle strain an exercise exerts: Exercise that fit into this category include weightlifting and gymnastics because the amount of force place on muscles and bones. 

-     The rate of muscle strain and exercise exerts: This indicates the speed by which repetitive, high-impact exercises, such as tennis or plyometrics are performed. 

-     The frequency by which muscle strain occurs: Running is a prime example of this as the impact of the muscles is not only repetitive but continues for a long period of time. 

Although the researchers did not establish which of the three factors is the most important, they concluded that increased density can be achieved with as little as 12 to 20 minutes of weight-bearing exercise performed three times per week.


Impact of Exercise

While it would be fair to assume that any exercise that places significant, repetitive stress on a bone would be equally beneficial, it's not always the case. According to research from Brigham Young University, one exercise arguably offers greater benefit than all others – Jumping. 

The study team found that jumping 10 to 20 times a day with 30 seconds of breaks in between jumps significantly improved hip bone mass density (BMD) in women age 25 to 50 after 16 weeks. Bone density increases directly coincided with the amount of exercise performed.

According to the study, jumping 20 times twice daily resulted in 75% greater BMD than doing 10 jumps twice daily. 

While running also offered significant improvement in BMD, it was far less than that seen with jumping.This finding suggests that jumping should be incorporated into any exercise program, including low-impact activities like cycling, swimming, and running.


Bone Loss

Despite the direct impact of exercise on bone density, not every sport or exercise activity is linked to BMD gain. Running, for example, is linked to greater BMD than low-impact activities like cycling because of the direct stress that it places on the legs and hips.

In fact, elite-level cyclists appear to have a greater propensity for bone loss compared to their running counterparts. This is because cycling is a low-impact sport and does not include weight-bearing movement. Combined, this means that cyclists may in fact lose bone density while performing high levels of the workout. In addition to the absence of direct bone stress, some experts believe that the loss of calcium in sweat also plays a key role.

It is also possible that endurance sports in and of themselves can promote bone loss as more calories tend to be burned than consumed. What this research suggests is that greater effort may be needed to incorporate weight training into the training schedules of endurance athletes.


Optimal Exercises

The benefits of exercise can be felt at any age and with as little as 2 to 3 days of exercise per week. Even in older women for whom jumping and running may be inappropriate, resistance training can help stimulate or maintain BMD in the weight-bearing bones.

With resistance training, the force of muscle pulling against bone appears to be enough to stimulate bone growth even if the actual stress placed on the bone is moderate. As we age, building and preserving bone density become more important, and resistance training has been found to be most effective in improving muscle and bone mass in older populations.


Exercise to Increase BMD

-       Weight training

-       Squat exercises

-       Plyometrics (jumping training)

-       Stair running

-       Body weight exercises

-       Jumping rope

-       Running

-       Hiking

-       Backpacking

-       Tennis

-       High Impact Aerobics


Nutrition

Building or maintaining bone mass requires more than weight-bearing exercise; good nutrition is also key. Once you reach the age of 30, you don't build bone as readily as you used to.

To maintain strong bones, you need to ensure the proper intake of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. This is especially true if you are at risk of osteoporosis.

Calcium is the key building block for bones and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. To sustain bone health, adults should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day—ideally from food sources.

Women over 50 and men over 70 should increase their daily calcium intake to 1,200 milligrams. After 70, men and women should get no less than 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Some osteoporosis experts even recommend 800 to 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day.


Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D

Food sources of calcium and vitamin D include:

-       Dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese

-       Leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach

-       Seafood such as oysters, crab and shrimp

-       Fishes such as salmon, tuna and sardines

-       Calcium-fortified milks like soy milk or almond milk


When to call a Healthcare Provider

If you are unable to meet your daily intake needs of vitamin D and calcium speak with healthcare provider.  They can perform a blood test to determine if you are deficient and make recommendations regarding supplements or connect you with a registered dietitian. 

What You Need To Know About Myofascial Release

 



About Myofascial Tissue

Your myofascial tissue is a network of tissue that spreads throughout your entire body. It connects your muscles, joints, and bones. It also provides support to your organs, helping to keep them in place.‌

If you could see it, your fascia would look like a single sheet of tissue. However, there are multiple layers that work together. In between these layers is a liquid called hyaluronan that provides stretch and encourages free range of movement. When this liquid becomes thick, sticky, or dries up, it can impact the surrounding body parts.‌‌

When you feel stiffness or pain in your body, it can originate from different tissues in your body. Myofascial pain is different from other types of pain because it occurs in places where your myofascial tissue meets or crosses. Myofascial pain may be difficult to identify because it can radiate from the area and spread.

Usually this tissue feels more elastic and movable. Tight myofascial tissue can restrict movement in your muscles and joints. As you move differently to make up for the loss in movement, you can cause additional tightness without realizing it. This can lead to widespread pain and discomfort.

Understanding Myofascial Release Therapy

During a myofascial release massage, your therapist spends time feeling your myofascial tissue for areas that are particularly stiff and tight. These are the places that cause you to feel pain, even if it's radiating to other areas.‌

It's important that you seek help from a trained specialist who knows how to identify myofascial tissue issues. A myofascial massage is different from other types of massage and techniques will vary from therapist to therapist.‌

Other types of massage may be relaxing, but myofascial release therapy is often intense and painful. Your therapist will use their hands to massage and stretch your myofascial tissue and eliminate knots. ‌

In some cases, a therapist will use additional tools like a foam roller or ball to aid in separating the tissue. You may feel sore immediately following a myofascial massage, but the results often include an increased range of motion and less pain and stiffness.‌

Myofascial tissue will often become tight in the following areas:

  • Arms
  • Calves
  • Feet
  • Head
  • Hips
  • Jaw
  • Lower back
  • Neck
  • Quads‌
  • Shoulders

Benefits of Myofascial Release Therapy

A single myofascial massage won’t offer long-term relief. However, regularly receiving myofascial release therapy can:

  • Improve range of motion
  • Reduce soreness
  • Increase your body’s natural recovery process
  • Helps with overall relaxation 
  • Improve circulation‌
  • Relieve stress

Self-Massage Techniques

If you notice tightness and can’t get an appointment right away for a massage, there are ways to relieve your symptoms from home. If you have problem areas, spend at least five minutes per day massaging the areas to stay ahead of stiffness. ‌

Use your fingers to apply gentle pressure to your skin where you feel any discomfort. If you feel tenderness when you apply pressure, it’s a sign that you’ve identified the source of your stiffness. ‌

Just as with a professional therapist, releasing the knots on your own may be painful or intense. Massage the area until you feel them release or loosen up to allow more movement. Then move on to find other tender areas.‌

You can invest in a foam roller or ball, but don’t assume that using these tools will solve your problems. It takes patience and dedication to listen to your body and work through the pain as you relieve tension in your myofascial tissue. 

 

When you use these techniques daily, you can prevent stiffness and tightness from even happening. While you may still have episodes of pain, your overall symptoms should improve over time. 

Myofascial Release Therapy Concerns

While relieving myofascial tissue tension can be painful, it shouldn’t be exceedingly painful. It’s important to know your limits and apply the right amount of pressure so you don’t cause more pain or damage your tissue. If you don’t do enough one day, you can always try again the next day to release additional stiffness.‌‌

Persistent sharp or shooting pain is a sign that something is wrong. If you notice this while doing self-massage at home, stop and seek help from a professional. If you’re at a professional office, let your therapist know about the pain so they can adjust their technique. You may want to talk to your doctor about the pain to rule out any health conditions.  

It's best to talk to your doctor before pursuing myofascial release therapy if you take medications or have health conditions, including: 

  • ‌Tumors
  • Metabolic health conditions
  • Any open or healing wounds
  • Weak or broken bones ‌
  • Issues with deep veins 
  • Are taking blood thinners 

 

Science Based Benefits of a Morning Routine

 



What Is a Morning Routine?

From the moment you wake up, your mind is flooded with all the things you need to do. This can feel so overwhelming that you end up wasting time. A morning routine means you perform the same basic tasks in the same order every day.


1. Prepare Yourself for the Rest of the Day

How you spend the morning will influence the rest of your day. If you start feeling rushed or lazy, expect that sensation to remain with you. A morning routine, however, gets you on track from the moment you wake up and puts you in the right frame of mind.


2. Increase Your Productivity

With a morning routine, you start the day right. You spend every moment of your time on something valuable and productive from the moment you wake up.

Maintain this feeling throughout the day to avoid wasting time You’ll find that you’re able to focus and are more likely to finish tasks — as opposed to starting several and leaving half of them incomplete. When you reach the end of the workday, you’ll know you achieved all that you could and can relax in the evening without worries.


3. Feel in Control

When you have many commitments, it can feel like you’re rushing through one task to the next. Your day starts to control you, rather than the other way around. A morning routine may cover just a small part of your day, but it could be a step toward helping you regain control.


4. Lower Stress

Stress often occurs when you feel like you lack enough time to complete all your responsibilities or you worry about what needs doing next. When you have a routine, you always know exactly what you should be doing and what follows. You can complete your entire routine without even thinking. Plus, you’ll know that you have enough time to finish everything without rushing.

When you avoid stress, you improve both your emotional and physical health. For instance, it may decrease your risk of developing depression and anxiety  along with illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.


5. Develop Healthy Habits

It may be tempting to hit the snooze button or to stay in bed with your phone instead of getting up immediately, but these habits waste your time. When you have a routine, it’s much easier to avoid bad habits and to develop healthy ones. You may start eating a substantial breakfast, practice mindfulness, or even make time to exercise in your morning routine before work.

Such healthy habits will carry over into the rest of your life. You may well find that you start eating better, exercising more often, or wasting less time on your phone in general.


6. Boost Your Energy Levels

The reason many people hate mornings is because their energy levels are low early in the day. A great thing about a morning routine is that it can increase your energy, especially when you give yourself no time to be lazy and dedicate all your time to your scheduled activities.

If you want an extra energy boost, include a high-intensity workout, meditation, or a cold shower in your morning routine.


7. Improve Relationships

There are several ways something as simple as a morning routine can impact your relationships. The big one is lowering stress. It is common to take out stress on a loved one, even though the person may have nothing to do with your frustrations. When you reduce stress, you’re less likely to snap at someone.

A morning routine will also mean that you’re more accessible to your family, which is critical for improving relationships. When you’re better organized, you have more spare time to spend with family members.

Developing a morning routine is most important for improving relationships with the people you live with. When your family or roommates know your schedule for the morning, they can work around you. There will be no disputes about who gets to use the bathroom and no problems with two or more people trying to share the kitchen at the same time.


8. Combat Forgetfulness

When you have the same routine every day, it’s much more unlikely you’ll forget something. Without even thinking, you’ll go through the motions of getting ready for work. The chances are slim that you’ll arrive to work and realize you left something you need at home. There will also be a lower risk that you forget to do an important chore, like taking the trash out or closing the door to your bedroom to stop your dog sleeping on your bed.


9. Improve Your Confidence

When you’re calm and collected, you naturally feel more confident. Plus, better time management will mean you accomplish more, which can also improve your self-esteem.

Finally, giving yourself enough time for personal care in the morning can improve your self-confidence. When you set aside a portion of time just for personal care, there’s no need to rush. You can spend time carefully doing your hair and choosing clothes that make you feel good.


10. Learn to Be Flexible

Your morning routine is just the beginning of your schedule. It’s normal that things won’t always go exactly as you hoped, meaning you’ll need to adapt. Sticking to your morning routine as often as possible is great, but you’ll also need to learn to be flexible if something unexpected happens. Learning to adapt your morning routine around such events will train you to be flexible in other aspects of your life.


How to Start a Morning Routine

Starting a morning routine is simple. Just create a short schedule for the morning, beginning with the moment you wake up. Experiment with different orders of activities to find out what works best for you.

Examples of Winning Morning Routines of Successful People

Need some inspiration for your morning schedule? Consider including some of the activities from the morning routines of these successful people.


1. Tony Robbins: Cold Plunge Pool

As we mentioned above, a cold shower is great for increasing your energy levels for the day. Life coach Tony Robbins takes this a step further: he plunges into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool for a “radical change in temperature.” If (like most people) you’re not lucky enough to have a plunge pool, a cold shower will give you much the same result.


2. Tim Draper: Play Basketball

Venture capital investor Tim Draper starts his day early with a game of basketball. He says he does this for the release of endorphins exercise brings. He follows the workout with a breakfast of three eggs (for their high levels of protein), which keeps his appetite in check and helps him stay focused.


3. Muhammad Ali: Read Inspiring Content

Boxer Muhammad Ali would start his day by reading empowering affirmations. His idea was that repeatedly reading the same affirmations would change his beliefs, subsequently changing his behavior and thoughts. You can do the same to prepare for success.


4. Dr. Nick Zyrowski: Meditation

Lifestyle expert Dr. Nick Zyrowski wakes up before the rest of his family and spends 30 minutes meditating. This puts him in the right state of mind and gives him the chance to set goals for the day.


5. Elle Russ: Mindfulness

Best-selling author Elle Russ definitely understands the benefits of a morning routine: she starts her mindfulness practice before she even gets out of bed. She gives herself a few moments to stretch and express gratitude for her body and health. She then chooses an intention for the day, saying it out loud to solidify it.


6. Payal Kadakia: Talk to Loved Ones

Founder of ClassPass, Payal Kadakia makes sure to chat with her husband every morning. She even makes the effort to call him in the morning when she is traveling. As well as helping her feel positive for the rest of the day, it ensures her relationship always stays top priority, no matter what else she has going on.


7. Arianna Huffington: Leave the Phone Alone

It is just as important to avoid wasting time during your morning routine. Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, never begins her day looking at her phone. Instead, she wakes up slowly, taking deep breaths, reminding herself of what she is grateful for, and defining an intention for the day.


There is no question that structuring your morning is worthwhile — you just need to look at the scientific benefits of a morning routine to see that. Plus, as you have seen from the morning routines of successful people, there is no need for it to be anything complex. But the best thing about a morning routine? You can start one right away! Come up with a morning routine for yourself and put it into action tomorrow.

 

Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself

 



#1 What’s my Vitamin D Level?

 

We’ve talked about the importance of having a normal vitamin D level. Unfortunately, most people don’t. We are afraid of the sun and are chronically deficient and low vitamin D levels can contribute to a multitude of diseases. 90% of the active D3 in our body is derived from sunlight. The remaining 10% is dietary. Ideally your levels would be 50-80 ng/ml.

 

And if they aren’t?

Get out in the sun, just don’t burn. And take a supplement, ideally vitamin D3 (which is the active form) and you’d take 2,000-5,000 ius/day.

 

#2 What’s My Vitamin B12 Level?

Along with vitamin D, vitamin B12 is another vitamin that is chronically low, and the reason? Most of it is malabsorbsion, meaning that we are eating it, but our stomach and intestines are shut down because of chronic stress, so we don’t absorb it.

And why do we need it?

Many reasons, and to name a few it plays a role in our cardiovascular health, red blood cell production, which is why you’ll see this deficiency with anemia. It also plays a key role in brain and nervous system health.

So a lot of time deficiency lead to fatigue, numbness and tingling in extremities, brain fog, depression, and an inflamed tongue to name a few.

So how to get it?

Eat sardines, organic pasture raised beef, wild game, eggs, salmon and shrimp.

 

 

#3 Am I Eating PROTEIN for Breakfast?

It’s SO SO SUPER important to eat protein breakfast to help balance your blood sugar and set you out on the right foot. It helps your adrenal glands, it reduces sugar cravings, it give you sustaining energy, and it comes in fun forms like

  • Eggs
  • Breakfast Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Protein Powder
  • Breakfast Quinoa
  • Oatmeal with nuts/seeds
  • Nut Butters

Promise your brain, adrenals, energy, hormones, stomach, intestines, gut bugs, your mood, and your kids, spouse and coworkers will thank you.

Say goodbye to crankypants and afternoon crashes forever.

 

#4 Am I Managing Stress?

Stress is not a problem when it’s acute.

For example: running from a tiger, or a dog incase you don’t live in India or work at a zoo. Avoiding a car accident. A cut on your arm.

It’s a problem when it’s chronic.

For example: hating your job, everyday. Worrying about money, everyday. Being married to someone you don’t like, everyday. Eating foods that are not adding health, everyday. Letting your life run you instead of you running it, everyday.

When the stress response is being triggered daily, over time the body will start to shut down. And viola, disease.

So managing it?

Lets change the question to this:

What Am I Doing That’s FUN On A Daily Basis?

Or

Do I Laugh Daily?

When you are doing those things stress gets put aside for awhile and your body, mind, spirit, kids, spouse and coworkers will thank you.

Say goodbye to crazypants and emotional breakdowns…for at least a moment.

 

#5 Do I Have Good Sleep Hygiene?

It is SUPER important to have routine around sleep, sleeping in the dark, and avoid taking sleep medications.

All for lots of reasons, but two of the main ones are that the ROUTINE around sleep helps add health to your adrenal glands.  The adrenal glands are responsible for the stress response, so you can assume that they are already…well…stressed and could use all the help they can get.

And the other is that when you sleep in TOTAL darkness a hormone called GROWTH HORMONE is able to come out and do its job of repairing, healing and restoring the body while your BRAIN is sleeping.

And if there is any light in the room this hormone is not able to come out fully.

And trust us, you want it to, it’s the best anti-aging drug out there…and it’s FREE.

 

#6 When Was The Last Time I Did Something For The First Time?

Not only is doing something for the first time help with neuron expansion and growth, it can trigger fear which is a really healthy thing, because when you push through it, BREAKTHROUGH AND TRANSFORMATION are on the other side.

There is a bigger badass-er version of you on the other side of the four letter “F” word called FEAR.

What is something you are scared of doing?

 

Start The School Year Off Right!

 



1. Getting Enough Zzz’s
By far, the most important school health issue for most kids is getting enough sleep - about 10 to 11 hours a night for elementary school-age children. That sounds simple, but the trouble is, it’s not always easy to make your child’s sleep patterns mesh with their new school schedule.

When parents work late, children’s bedtimes often get pushed back to create a window of family time. How can you argue with that? But to make sure your child can make it through the day without dozing at their desk, night-owl families need to start gradually shifting their schedules a few weeks before school starts.

2. Testing Eyes and Ears
You can’t expect a child to learn if they’re having trouble seeing the blackboard or hearing the teacher. So have your pediatrician screen for vision and hearing problems during your child’s back-to-school checkup.

Remember: You can’t assume your child has 20/20 vision just because they never complain about not being able to see. Children with vision problems may not realize the world isn’t blurry to everybody else. If your child often has headaches, tilts their head to one side to read schoolwork, or holds objects unusually close or far away to view them, it could be a sign that they may have a vision problem.

3. Lunch Time!
You may be planning healthy, well-balanced lunches to pack in your child’s shiny new Pokemon lunchbox. Just don’t be surprised if those turkey sandwiches and carrot sticks come back untouched. Eating in new surroundings and under tight time constraints can make some children’s appetites evaporate.

Don’t worry too much if your child only nibbles on lunch at school. Instead, focus on providing a protein-filled breakfast. With a little bit of fat and fiber from complex carbohydrates, your child will be ready to start the day.

4. Bathroom Break
Adjusting to classroom life can be overwhelming for a child who’s a little embarrassed about asking to go to the bathroom, and there’s nothing more humiliating than an “accident” at school. To help your child avoid any problems, have a talk ahead of time about school bathroom rules - taking breaks as scheduled, and raising your hand for permission to leave the room.

If you think your child may have wetting problems in school, take preemptive action. Before school starts, schedule regular bathroom breaks during the day, so your child gets used to going when directed. It’s also a good idea to talk with the teacher before that stressful first day of school.

5. Scrub-a-Dub-Dub
The first day of school brings new friends, new activities - and a bunch of new germs. That’s why good hand-washing habits are critical for school-age children. Children (like adults) need to wash their hands after they go to the bathroom and before they eat.

If your child rockets out of the bathroom without stopping at the sink, consider sending them to school with a packet of antibacterial wipes. They’re not as effective as soap and water, but they may have more appeal for young children.

6. Get Moving
As your child blasts through the backyard like a whirlwind or jumps across the sofa-turned-lava pit, making sure they get enough exercise may seem like the least of your worries. But once children enter school, they’ll be spending most of their day sitting at a desk - and you can’t assume that recess and gym class are giving her all the daily activity they need to stay healthy and happy.

Kids need 20 to 30 minutes of regular, nonstop exercise a day. Physical education classes and after-school sports may not be enough. Try planning weekly bike rides and nature walks, and your whole family will benefit.

 

The Importance of Balance Training



THE BENEFITS OF BALANCE DRILLS

#1. REVERSING AGE-RELATED LOSS OF BALANCE

As we get older, our ability to balance declines. For instance, a critical predictor for longevity is the length of time that a person can stand on one leg.

Balancing is a complex skill that involves the brain, muscles, and parts of the inner ear. If you don't practice and maintain balance, the coordination between these three systems can deteriorate over time, making it harder for you to stay upright and maintain proper posture. 

Practice, however, keeps everything working as if your body were much younger, helping you to stave off some of the balance issues that might accompany getting older. Dance is one great way to work on balance.  


#2. PREVENTING FALLS

Balance drills help you to control your core and limbs more deftly. Not only does this help improve the elegance with which you move, but it also helps you avoid falls. When you have good balance, you can more quickly adapt to changes in body position, adjusting on the fly to unexpected variations in elevation or rocks that you didn't see underfoot.

Avoiding falls not only helps you avoid physical damage like broken hips; it also boosts confidence. When you have good balance, you no longer have to worry about whether you might fall every time you leave the house. Even if you're young, having this unconscious awareness allows you to feel more confident in your environment.

When your balance system is working optimally, you can more quickly react to slips, making it less likely that you'll fall.


#3. BUILDING BETTER POSTURE

Thanks to poor movement form, a focus on a narrow range of movement patterns, and an ever-more-sedentary lifestyle, the average person has terrible posture. Many people develop limitations like hunched shoulders, anterior pelvic tilt, and reduced upper-back mobility. Part of the problem is that, as a population, we don't do the balance exercises necessary to counteract the adverse effects of our lifestyle.

Improving balance is excellent for posture. It teaches you the static and dynamic positions that are natural to your human form. Outstanding balance requires good posture: the two go hand-in-glove.

 

#4. ALLOWING FASTER RECOVERY FROM INJURY

Many people who train athletically suffer injuries, especially of the leg and ankle. Much of what is known about balance comes from research on people with lower-leg injuries. What that research shows is fascinating: the more balance drills people perform, the faster they recover from their injuries. Balance drills may also prevent injuries in the first place. 


#5. IMPROVING COORDINATION

Humans should have excellent coordination, just like other animals in their natural habitats. But, modern civilization prevents many of the physical tasks that we would have been forced to do in the past. This sedentary lifestyle means that we rarely have to practice balance. One effect of this development is our generally poor coordination.

Balance exercises, especially dynamic balance drills, help to relegate balance to the category of reflexive response. Ultimately, with good balance, you should be able to intuitively adapt to practically any situation, without having to think about it.


#6. MAXIMIZING YOUR WORKOUT TIME

Most people doing weight training in the gym spend much of their time sitting around, doing nothing, while their muscles recover from the previous set.

If you're a busy person and want to use your time as efficiently as possible, then it's a good idea to find a way to capitalize on all that time between sets. Balance drills are an ideal use for those moments because they are low-intensity and do not interrupt muscle recovery.

 

#7. IMPROVING YOUR RUNNING TECHNIQUE

People with poor running technique can experience all manner of injuries, from shin splints to knee pain to hip problems. Poor form results from a lifetime of not having to run daily and not understanding the dynamic position of one's body. People with poor balance will often develop a sub-optimal gait to compensate.

Dynamic balance drills can help you to assess your center of gravity better unconsciously. Then, when you do go running, you'll feel more confident making more significant strides, opening up your hips, and turning your feet forward. With additional balance drills, you'll also learn how to swing your arms to counteract the rotation of your hips while striding, thereby reducing the strain on your core.


#8. INCREASING YOUR MUSCULAR POWER

Balance can strengthen your muscles, quickly increasing their power output. The more force they can exert, the faster you'll be able to sprint and the higher you'll be able to jump. Balance can help in practically any sport that requires short, sharp, and powerful movements, like boxing, and can help build all-around functional strength. 

 

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BALANCE

You can practice balance training by walking on uneven surfaces, such as outdoor nature trails, or walking on a low wall. Even the act of walking on your tiptoes while completing basic housekeeping tasks around the home can improve your overall balance. 

So put some of this balance theory into practice and head outside to your local park and work on some balance drills. It could be advanced drills like balancing on a bench or try standing one leg in a crane pose at home while brushing your teeth - more difficult than it sounds!

 

 

 

A Guide To Egg Labels

 




Non-organic store-bought white eggs - These are the cheapest types of eggs you can buy. You know, the bright white ones that are all the same size? They generally come from chickens that are stuck in tight cages at large factories where they are fed GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones. The conditions they live in are usually unsanitary and crowded, where salmonella spreads easily. About 90% of the eggs in the US come from this type of scenario where the chickens never even see the light of day. 

 

Vegetarian-fed eggs - This one just makes me giggle. And for this reason, chickens are NOT vegetarians. There is nothing beneficial or natural about a vegetarian-fed chicken. Chickens are omnivores. Their diet consists of plants, bugs, and rodents. It’s not healthy for a chicken to be fed a vegetarian diet only. When they are not fed the proper diet, the chickens become deficient in a protein-based amino acid called methionine. Unhealthy chickens mean unhealthy eggs, which means nutrient-devoid food that won't help YOU. 

 

Cage-free eggs - These chickens may not be bound to their cages at all times, but they are more than likely still smashed into a closed-in structure with hundreds of other hens in the same unsanitary conditions that I listed above. People end up spending more for the cage-free label when the quality is the same as the cheapest eggs on the market. 

 

Omega-3 enriched eggs - These hens are still being fed the same non-organic, GMO-laden feed. They are normally still receiving hormones and antibiotics as well. The only difference compared to the other types of eggs listed above, is that these hens are administered omega-3s in their food.

 

Organic eggs - These eggs are stamped with a guarantee that the hens are being fed non-GMO, organic feed. While this is definitely better than the other options I have talked about, it still doesn’t mean that these hens have any type of freedom to roam outside in the sunshine, eating grass and bugs. They are often still raised in confined, unsanitary conditions as well.

 

Pasture-raised eggs - After comparing all of the different egg labels, pasture-raised eggs are the best type of eggs that you can pick up at the store. These hens more than likely live in sanitary conditions where they get to roam outside under the sun, eating grass and bugs as chickens should. These brown eggs are going to be rich and high in omega-3s. Although these are the best store-bought option, by far, they still won’t be as fresh as the eggs you can get right from the farm.

 

Farm fresh eggs - They come in brilliant colors like blue, green, brown, white, tan, cream, purple, and maroon. Their yolks are golden yellow or rich orange. AND they taste like heaven. These eggs are guaranteed to be fresh and oh-so-full of flavor. You don’t have to worry about these nutrient-dense ovals of goodness having antibiotics or hormones within them. The hens have more than likely lived like queens, basking in the sun and running on plush grasses, eating the bugs of their dreams. 

 

Don’t be afraid to ask your farmer what type of feed the hens eat as well. Chances are if they care to raise the chickens, they care to feed them well. Farm fresh eggs have proven to be exponentially higher in omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamin D, vitamin E, and beta carotene compared to eggs that come from hens raised on traditional feed in confinement.

 

How do you get your hands on fresh farm eggs, you ask?


1.    If you have a local farmers market, try that first. Chances are there will be at least one source, if not multiple sources of eggs there. Shop around and ask questions to figure out which hens will produce better eggs.

2.    Ever see those signs in front of farmhouses that say “fresh eggs for sale”? Go there.

3.    You can order super high-quality eggs online from trusted farms that ship fresh eggs overnight. Try Polyface Farm, Seven Sons Farm, and Five Mary’s Farm.

4.    Start a flock and raise your own hens to produce some amazing, flavorful eggs.

Tips For Healthy Travel



1. THINK WATER FIRST.

Staying hydrated is always important, traveling or not. However, it should be the first thing on your mind when you travel, especially if you’re on an airplane because the humidity inside the cabin is lower than normal. Your body will also be acclimating to a new climate, and between finding your way around and enjoying your trip drinking water can be easily forgotten.

Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, and loads of other issues. It can also cause hunger, so bottoms up! When you arrive at your location find a convenience store and purchase at least 60-70 ounces of water for each day that you’re traveling.

 

2. EAT ONE HEALTHY GROCERY STORE/MARKET MEAL PER DAY.

Find the closest grocery store to where you’re staying. You may or may not be able to find a health foods store, but at least find the nearest market or grocery store to grab some fruit or fresh food. Dining out is a wonderful part of the travel experience, but try to have one meal a day from the grocery store. Think whole/real foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, and salads. (This is better on your pocket book, too!)

3. CREATE A HEALTHY TRAVEL BAG.

This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, you can even just use a quart size ziplock or a small travel pouch. Add herbal teas, raw nuts and seeds, low-sugar/healthy bars, extra vitamin C, probiotic stick packs, and your supplements in an easy to access small bag in your carry on. You can also keep a few small packs of almond butter on hand. 

4. CARRY HEALTHY SNACKS.

Like we mentioned above, carry a few healthy snacks with you. You don’t have to bring your entire pantry, just grab a piece of fruit that keeps well (apple, banana, orange), some almond butter, your own healthy trail mix, and/or a good-quality, low sugar bar. These types of healthy snacks will tide you over in a pinch and can prevent you from needing that pastry at the airport or chips from the gas station.

Save your indulgences for a fun local restaurant, not the cheap preservative-laden food you’ll find in terminals and convenience stations. Another tip that will save you from processed travel food it to eat a big, healthy, protein-rich meal before you leave your house. If you leave the house hungry, the candy bar isle might get the best of you.

 

5. JUST SAY NO TO THE AIRPLANE SNACK & DRINK CART.

Nothing good comes from this cart except for asking for water with no ice (the ice on airplanes is often not clean and full of germs—ew!). Ask for hot water for the herbal tea you brought on board or just sip a plain water no ice to stay hydrated. The snacks are full of white flour, sodium and preservatives, and all of the drinks are full of sugar. Bring your own plane snacks to start your vacation off right.

6. RESEARCH RESTAURANTS AHEAD OF ARRIVING IF YOU PLAN TO DINE OUT.

Not only will you have a better dining experience, you’ll be able to make sure you have good-quality food. Use TripAdvisor (app and website) to find places with good reviews and view menus to find a place that looks equally healthy and delicious. Traveling or not, when you look at food ask yourself if you’re respecting your body before you eat it.

No matter where you are try to stick to the following:

·       Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs with veggies, or fruit with a low-sugar nut bar.

·       Lunch: Some type of salad with a lean protein.

·       Dinner: Anything that sounds good. This is the time to enjoy local cuisines! 


The 90/10 way of eating allows us to enjoy these types of experiences guilt-free. Rules and structure with a little bit of wiggle room. 


7. STAY IN A HIGHLY WALKABLE NEIGHBORHOOD IF YOU CAN.

You may or may not have control over where you stay. If you’re able, stay in a highly walkable neighborhood and walk to most destinations. You’ll get to experience more of the city and add in extra movement, too. 

Quick tracking tip: The Health app that is built into the iPhone automatically tracks your steps if you have your phone on you. It’s a fun way to see how far you’ve gone (a FitBit or pedometer of course works great too.) Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day, traveling or not.

Along the lines of choosing where to stay, consider renting a condo or apartment with a kitchen instead of staying at a hotel. Preparing a few of your own meals in a kitchen, especially breakfast, will help you stay on track and probably save a little money, too.

8. CONSIDER A TRAVEL HUMIDIFIER IF YOU’RE TRAVELING TO A VERY DRY CLIMATE.

Dry locations in the US like Utah and Arizona can give you a sore throat if you’re not used to the climate. A small travel humidifier is usually less than $20 and can make a huge difference when you sleep. Also, if you’re staying in a hotel ask the hotel if they have any extra humidifiers. Most dry places stash a few at the front desk and make a world of difference for your eyes, nose and throat when you wake up in the morning.

9. CREATE A DARK SLEEP SPACE.

Just like when you’re at home, a dark sleep space with no extra light will help you get better rest. Turn the alarm clock light off or unplug it, and use a towel under the door if light is pouring in from the hallway. Eye masks look funny, but if all else fails use one. Any light in your sleep space can disrupt your good night’s sleep.

10. PLAN DAILY MOVEMENT.

Hopefully you’re already walking a lot, and the hotel gym is always an option if you’re not getting enough movement in. Also try to incorporate movement into your vacation to enjoy the sights. Swimming at the beach, hiking to see the views, and other types of built-in exercise make the trip even more enjoyable.

11. REMEMBER YOUR SUPPLEMENTS AND TAKE EXTRA VITAMIN C AND PROBIOTICS.

It’s easy to forget simple things when you’re out of your routine, so be extra mindful that you stay on your high-quality multivitamin and supplements. You’ll be exposed to even more germs that you’re not used to, and if you’re on a plane you’re exposed to a lot of radiation just from being so high in the atmosphere. Extra antioxidants are of the utmost importance!

12. PLAN AHEAD… THEN SURRENDER AND ENJOY YOUR VACATION.

For the most part  business travel isn’t a vacation, it is important to stick to your daily routines and habits. When traveling for pleasure plan ahead using the tips we gave you above, and then go with the flow when you arrive!

 

 

Benefits of Eating Organ Meats

 




Organ meats, also known as “offal,” are the consumable organs of animals. Organ meats include livers, hearts, brains, and intestines, to name a few. There are many health benefits to eating organ meats, but there are also some downsides. 


Today in the U.S., livestock is generally harvested for its muscle meat. However, in many countries, certain animal organs are consumed as popular dishes, including duck liver in France, beef tongue in Latin America, and pork liver in Germany. Asian cuisine often includes many parts of an animal’s body, including kidneys, stomachs, and intestines.


Interestingly, during WWII, American consumption of organ meat greatly increased. This was due to a concerted effort by the government to sway people to eat organ meat, as much of the country’s muscle meat was going to the troops. 


According to Jake Young of the journal Gastronomica, meat organs are again experiencing a resurgence, this time in the world of fine dining.

Nutrition Information

Four ounces of raw beef liver contains: 

  • Calories: 153
  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams


Four ounces of raw beef heart contains: 

  • Calories: 127 calories
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams


Organ meats are full of nutrients, and are often pound-for-pound more nutritious than muscle meats. With the notable exceptions of tripe (intestines) and brains, most organ meats are good sources of numerous vitamins and minerals, including many of the B-Vitamins, iron, and zinc. 

Potential Health Benefits of Organ Meat

Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Thiamin ,also known as Vitamin B1, is present in liver. Studies have shown that thiamin can help prevent risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease,  including memory loss and plaque formation.


Increased Energy

Animal organs, especially the liver and kidneys, contain iron. Many people suffer from iron deficiency, the condition affects approximately 10 million people in the U.S. One of the main symptoms of iron deficiency is fatigue and lack of energy. Eating organ meat will increase your blood’s iron count. People with iron deficiencies can eat organ meats (especially liver) to increase their energy levels.


Reduced Risk of Cancer

Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, is an important member of the B-Vitamin family that appears to protect the body against certain types of cancer. Riboflavin is found in organ meats, particularly the kidneys and livers. Studies have shown that riboflavin helps reduce the risk of lung and colorectal cancer.  A riboflavin deficiency has been shown to be a risk factor for cancer of the esophagus.


Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

All meat organs (except intestines) contain high amounts of Vitamin B12.  In combination with folate (also present in meat organs), Vitamin B12 helps moderate homocysteine levels in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease


Stronger Immune System

Many organ meats are high in zinc, including the liver, kidneys, and heart. Zinc is essential for your immune system to work properly. People with a zinc deficiency are more susceptible to infection.


Potential Risks of Organ Meat

Cholesterol Levels

While organ meats are highly nutritious foods, they also contain a lot of cholesterol (especially the liver and heart). High cholesterol levels raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, it’s recommended that organ meats be eaten in moderation.

Gout Concerns

People with gout should avoid organ meats, as they contain high levels of purine. Foods rich in purine can contribute to the progression of joint damage for those with gout.

Hemochromatosis 

People diagnosed with hemochromatosis, also known as an iron overload disease, have too much iron in their blood and should therefore limit their intake of iron-rich organ meats.

 

Amazing Foods You Should Be Grilling

 



We’ll bet the foods we’re about to suggest have never touched your grill before, and once you’ve tried them, you’ll never do a cookout without them again. Not only are they delicious and unlikely to be found at your neighbors’ parties, they’re healthy, and perfectly complement the more conventional grill foods your friends and family will bring over. And by “healthy” we don’t mean another chicken breast—we’re talking good nutrition with full flavor: smoky guacamole, potato kebabs, peaches and cream, and more.

1. Avocado

Yes, seriously. This beautiful green fruit is loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats (which reduce the risk of heart disease), fiber, and many other nutrients. You’ve certainly had it raw on salads or with eggs, but avocado can be grilled for a unique, fire-roasted flavor. Use it to make a smoky guacamole that can top burgers, or as a dip for chopped vegetables.

Smoky Guacamole Recipe
Serves: 4

Ingredients

½ red onion, sliced into rings with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top
2 whole avocados, cut in halves and pitted
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp smoked black pepper (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the grill to medium and, when hot, place the sliced onion onto the grill grates (or use a grill basket if you have one). Cook 3–5 minutes.
2. Place the halved avocados on the grill, flesh-side down. Now return to the onions, tossing them and cooking until tender and caramelized.
3. Carefully remove the avocados and onions from the grill and place on a cutting board. Remove the avocados from their skin and add to a bowl. Chop the grilled onions and add to the avocados, along with the cilantro, lemon juice, and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together to form guacamole.


2. Wild Salmon

Salmon is meaty, like a great burger, so unlike other fish it holds up well to the high heat of a grill. With only some balsamic vinaigrette to season it, you have a quick and filling meal that’s packed with omega-3 fats.

Salmon Fillet Recipe
Serves: 4–6

Ingredients

1–2lb wild salmon fillet with skin
balsamic vinaigrette dressing (to taste)

Directions

1. Preheat grill to medium and brush the flesh side of the salmon with the dressing. When the grill is hot, place the salmon on it, skin-side down. Close the grill lid and cook for about 10 minutes per inch of the salmon’s thickness.


3. Potatoes

Grilling a potato results in that fluffy, all-American baked-potato consistency, but takes less time to cook and offers that unique grilled flavor that your oven can’t. Keep the skin on to boost the fiber content. Also, don’t fall for low-carb propaganda claiming that potatoes are only starch—they provide more potassium than bananas and are also high in vitamin C.

Potato Kebabs with a Lemon Herb Drizzle Recipe
Serves: 2–4

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, rosemary, marjoram, and sage)
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb potatoes (any type), scrubbed clean
2–4 grilling skewers
12 oz package precooked chicken sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal
2 ears fresh corn, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal

Directions

1. Place a saucepan over the stove on medium heat. Add the olive oil and, when it’s hot, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garlic.
2. Let the oil cool, then stir in herbs, salt, lemon juice and pepper and set aside.
3. Place the potatoes in a medium-size, microwave-safe bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Note: if using plastic wrap, make sure the plastic does not touch the potatoes and poke one small hole to vent.
4. Microwave potatoes on high 10–12 minutes, or until tender. Carefully remove from oven. When they’re cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into chunks. Preheat the grill to medium and thread the potatoes, sausage, and vegetables onto the skewers.
5. Grill the skewers about 10 minutes, turning frequently and brushing with some of the herb mixture during the last few minutes of cooking.
6. Remove skewers from the grill and place on a platter. Drizzle the remaining herb mixture on top.


4. Asparagus

These green spears have natural diuretic properties, which can come in handy in reducing the bloat you get from salty foods and booze. Furthermore, the Journal of Food Science reported that the amino acids and minerals in asparagus extracts can reduce hangover symptoms and protect your liver cells from toxins.

Lemon Asparagus Recipe
Serves: 4

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 lb asparagus, stems trimmed

Directions

1. Preheat grill to medium and mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together in a bowl.
2. Lay out the asparagus on a plate or platter and drizzle the dressing mixture over the asparagus. Place the asparagus on the grill. Note: position the spears perpendicular to the grill grates so they don’t fall through, or use a grill pan. Asparagus cooks fast, so toss every minute or so until tender.


5. Peaches

The heat of the grill softens a peach and maximizes its sweetness to the point where it tastes like candy. In fact, grilled peaches with Greek yogurt can offer the flavor of a decadent pie with a fraction of the calories, more protein, and no processed sugars.

Peaches and Cream Recipe
Serves: 1

Ingredients

1 peach, halved and pitted
1 tsp honey
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp fresh mint, chopped

Directions

1. Preheat the grill to medium and, when hot, add the peach halves flesh-side down. Cook 3–5 minutes.
2. Carefully remove peach halves from the grill and place in a bowl. Add the yogurt and drizzle the honey over the top. Garnish with mint and serve.

Electrolytes For Better Athletic Performance



What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that are transported through your body fluids and carry an electric charge. They play important roles in generating energy for cells, transporting signals to and from the brain, muscle contractions, and more. The main electrolytes are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.

 

What Is an Electrolyte Imbalance?

When you sweat heavily, due to heat exposure, physical activity, or a combination of the two, your body loses water and the electrolytes it carries. For athletes in the middle of a training session or competition, especially in summer time, this loss can be disastrous. In its position stand on exercise and fluid replacement, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that losing as little as two percent of your body weight in water can compromise performance and health.

 

But drinking water by itself isn’t enough to undo the damage. Not only does it not contain electrolytes, but drinking too much without taking in an appropriate amount of electrolytes at the same time will lead to an imbalance—read: you can drink water well past the point of quenching your thirst, but it won’t recharge you.

 

You see, when you chug plain water, you dilute the electrolytes you have left in your system. This makes it even harder for them to serve the body processes they play such a critical role in. What’s more, it actually results in some of the same problems as those caused by not getting enough water, and other challenges as well.  Research shows that an inadequate electrolyte imbalance can cause blood pressure changes, confusion, fatigue, lightheadedness, muscle weakness, and decreased muscle control. In other words, drinking too much water is just as bad as not drinking enough!

The New England Journal of Medicine analyzed runners in the Boston marathon. Thirteen percent of the competitors tested were found to have an inadequate electrolyte balance during the race. In fact, the runners who drank the most water—at least three liters of fluid over the course of the marathon—had the worst finish times (greater than four hours). All that water actually resulted in them gaining weight—over the course of a four-hour race!

 

The amount of water and electrolytes you need is highly dependent on your size, the activity you’re doing, the time you spend exercising, and the weather conditions, so it’s impossible to give a blanket recommendation on how much to consume. But experts say the smartest strategy is to drink a water and electrolyte mix periodically throughout your workout—even before the first sign of thirst. The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine suggests downing about one and a half to three cups of water per hour of activity, and the Institute of Medicine recommends that your beverage include sodium and potassium, in particular, to sustain performance during prolonged exercise in hot weather.

 

Benefits of Electrolytes

Supplementing with electrolytes has been found to have a positive and significant impact on two main measures of performance. It can…

 

1. Support Endurance  

Sodium, in particular, has been shown to support lasting energy for long-duration endurance exercise. A 2016 study found that triathletes who supplemented with sodium during a half-ironman finished faster than a control group, and lost less body mass from water depletion along the way. The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reported that cyclists taking sodium improved their finish times by 7.4% over a control group, which researchers credited to greater cardiovascular function. Another study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine discovered that sodium bicarbonate helped to stave off fatigue in swimmers, improving their finish times in the 200-meter freestyle race—most likely by assisting with the athletes’ acid-buffering capacity.

 

If your athletic endeavors are limited to your backyard or garage, sodium works for anaerobic exercise too. A trial from 2014 found that basketball players maintained sprinting performance into the final quarter of their games better on sodium bicarbonate than a placebo. Meanwhile, Amino Acids published a study showing that sodium promoted increases in the total work performed by experienced judo and jiu-jitsu competitors, as well as anaerobic power. That means the potential for more throws and submissions in the same amount of time.

 

2. Stimulate Strength Gains

Magnesium has long been linked to force production. A 2015 study found that it promoted max bench-press strength by 17.7%. (Good news for the impatient: it only took one week.)

 

Furthermore, a Magnesium Research study concluded that the mineral was directly associated with maximal core, leg, and grip strength—and jumping performance—in basketball, handball, and volleyball players. The researchers wrote: “The observed associations between magnesium intake and muscle strength performance may result from the important role of magnesium in energetic metabolism, transmembrane transport, and muscle contraction and relaxation.” They also noted that, in general, athletes’ magnesium intakes are “often below recommended levels.”

 

Do I Really Need Carbs For Energy?

Don’t get us wrong. Electrolytes are an underrated and essential nutritional element for high performance, but carbs are also important for keeping your energy up during exercise. You just don’t need them by the barrel full.

The ACSM recommends consuming no more than 60 grams of carbs per hour of activity. More than that can delay the rate at which your stomach empties of food, causing you discomfort in the gut that can affect your performance.

 

Furthermore, solutions made with a 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose seem to offer more benefit than just slamming carbs in any form you can get them.  The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutition reported that this glucose-to-fructose combination aided performance in an array of activities, including sprinting, lifting, jumping, and shuttle runs. Meanwhile, a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that it helped cyclists improve on timed trials by eight percent. The pairing of glucose and fructose appears to help the body absorb carbs faster than consuming either type alone, making them more readily available during exercise.

 

 

Reasons Why Summer Is The Best Season

 




1.    There are Reduced Rates of Heart Attacks in the Summer
Research indicates that you are less likely to die of a heart attack in the summer than in the winter. In a study of almost 11,000 people who had heart attacks over a period of nine years, survival rate increased by 19 per cent if the attack occurred in the summer. Higher levels of Vitamin D – which is synthesized by sunlight – are also thought to play a protective part in those who suffer heart attacks.

 

2.    People eat more fruit
Rising temperatures and increased availability of summer fruits make it easier to fulfil the recommended quota of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They also boost the immune system and, because of their low calorie content, help with weight loss.

 

3.    Relieves skin complaints
Controlled exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can have a therapeutic effect on skin complaints such as acne, psoriasis and dermatitis.

 

4.    Increases agility
The summer is an excellent time to begin an exercise program. Not only do summer clothes provide an incentive to get the body in shape, but the feel-good factor created by sunlight boosts our enthusiasm to begin a fitness regime. Exercise is not only the most effective way to burn up excess calories, but also improves the vital flow of oxygen to the brain, lowering stress levels and improving powers of concentration.

 

5.    Increases our water consumption
Water is vital to thousands of chemical processes that take place in the body’s cells to enable it to function. These include promoting digestion, regulating body temperature, improving the health and vitality of our skin and flushing toxins from the body. In the summer months we are more inclined to drink the recommended ounces of water a day needed for optimum health. Take your body weight, divide it in half and that is how many ounces you should aim for every day. 

 

6.    Helps to regulate sleep disorders
Waking up to the sun and getting early-morning exposure to its light can help those suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia. This is because sunlight helps the body’s internal biological clock reset itself. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of sunlight between 7am and 9am each morning to help those who have problems getting to sleep at night.

 

 

Importance Of Exercise Intensity

 



What Is Exercise Intensity?


Intensity is probably the most important element of your workout. When you work out at a sufficient intensity, your body grows stronger and you'll see changes in your weight, body fat percentage, endurance, and strength. Exercise intensity is usually described as low, moderate, or vigorous.


Low Intensity Exercise

Low intensity exercise raises your heart rate mildly and then keeps it steady. It is fairly slow-paced. Examples of low intensity exercises include:

  • Walking at a leisurely pace
  • Riding a bike on flat ground
  • Lifting light weights
  • Using an elliptical machine at a slow pace


Moderate Intensity Exercise

A moderate intensity workout raises your heart rate. You will be sweating, breathing heavier, and moving at a quicker pace. You may not be able to talk easily, and you will feel warm.  Examples of moderate intensity exercises are:

  • Hiking
  • Brisk walking
  • Biking at 10 miles per hour or less
  • Water aerobics


Vigorous Intensity Exercise

Vigorous intensity exercise gets your heart pumping, elevates your heart rate, and leaves you breathing hard. When working out at more intense levels, you will likely not be able to talk for long stretches without needing to take a breath. Examples of vigorous intensity exercises include:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Cycling faster than 10 miles per hour


Benefits of Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Exercise

Increasing the intensity of your workouts can have many benefits. Regular moderate to vigorous exercise offers health advantages.

  • Improved mood: Studies have shown that increasing the intensity of a physical activity can have a positive impact on mood and lower symptoms of depression. 
  • Increased calorie burn and metabolic rate: A small study examined 10 male subjects and found that 45-minute vigorous exercise resulted in higher calorie burn and a post-workout energy expenditure that lasted for 14 hours. 
  • Lower mortality risk: A 2019 research review examined how vigorous and moderate exercise affected mortality risk and found that higher intensity workouts, in particular, lowered the risk of death.


How Hard Should You Work?

How hard you work out during any fitness session depends on a variety of factors. Your current fitness level, any physical limitations, and your fitness goals all affect desired workout intensity. And it's also important to vary your workouts and intensity levels to decrease the risk of injury and burnout.


Adults should participate in both aerobic (cardio) and muscle-strengthening workouts every week to improve their health, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week (that's 30 minutes a day for five days, but you can schedule it any way that works for you).

How to Measure Exercise Intensity

It's helpful to monitor your intensity while exercising to make sure you're getting an effective workout. Unfortunately, it's one of the harder elements of exercise to measure. There are several choices, but none of them are perfect. It often takes a combination of methods to really get a sense of how hard you're working.

Heart Rate

Using a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR) is probably the most widely used method of tracking intensity. It's simple, as long as you have a heart rate monitor device. For this method, you use a formula such as the Karvonen Formula to determine your target heart rate zone – the heart rate zone you try to work within to get the most effective workout.

The drawbacks: Formulas used to calculate target heart rate are imperfect and can be off by as much as 12 beats per minute. And you'll need a heart-rate monitor (with chest strap, for greater accuracy) or fitness tracker, unless you want to take your pulse regularly and do some calculations.

Heart rate monitors and fitness trackers that detect your heart rate use it as the basis for displaying your exercise intensity. 

Talk Test

This is a very easy test to figure out your intensity: Just pay attention to how breathless you are. If you can easily talk, you're working at a light intensity, which is fine for a warm-up. If you can talk, but it's a little harder, you're getting more into the moderate zone. If you can only speak in short sentences, that's right about where you want to be for a vigorous workout.

If you're doing hight-intensity interval training, that may include some breathless or anaerobic intervals where talking is out of the question. This is the high end of the intensity spectrum.

Perceived Exertion

Your rating of perceived exertion (RPE), refers to how hard an exercise feels. The standard scale is the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion, which ranges from 6-20 and is designed to help you estimate your heart rate by multiplying the rating by 10. If you're at a 15 on the Borg scale, you're working pretty hard (say, running) and your heart rate is an estimated 150 beats per minute (15 x 10).

You could also use a 1-10 scale, which is a little simpler. The idea is to check in and ask yourself how hard you're working. If you're very comfortable, maybe you're at a level 3 or 4. If you feel like you're exercising, but are still just in your comfort zone, you may be at a level 5. If you're sweating and very breathless, you might be at a Level 8 or 9.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you increase the intensity of exercise?

Increase the intensity of your workout by adding speed or difficulty. That could mean boosting your running speed, increasing the weight you're lifting, or walking or hiking at a steeper incline.

Where do muscles get their energy during high intensity exercise?

For quick bursts of energy, your muscles will pull from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores.  Carbohydrates are most often converted into ATP for moderate and high intensity workouts.

How do you monitor exercise intensity?

You can monitor your exercise intensity by using any of the three main test methods: measuring your heart rate, doing the talk test, or checking your rating of perceived exertion.

 

Benefits Of A Pool Workout



What are the benefits of pool exercises? 

Because water offers heavier resistance than air, working out in the pool can make the same exercises that you’d do on land more challenging in water.

The heavier resistance can engage your muscles more fully and also help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Aquatic exercise allows you to get a great cardio workout, while also increasing your:

  • strength
  • endurance
  • flexibility

The buoyancy of water also provides extra support for your muscles and joints. This allows you to work out harder while putting less impact on your body than you would on land.

Aquatic exercise is especially helpful for people who have joint conditions, such as osteoarthritic and rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s also a gentler form of exercise for pregnant women and people who have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Balance issues 
  • Joint injuries

Do you need any special equipment? 

If you attend an aquatic class at a fitness center, the facility will likely provide any equipment that you need. Some pools may even have water treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes. Remember to bring:

  • a towel
  • swim cap
  • a pair of goggles

If you’re going to work out on your own, you may want to buy some of the following gear:

  • Wrist or ankle weights. These strap-on weights can increase the resistance of your arm and leg movements in water. 
  • Foam dumbbells. Lightweight when dry, they become heavy when you put them in water. 
  • Hand paddles or resistance gloves. Both types of equipment can boost your strength training in water. 
  • Kickboard. A great tool for many drills, it allows you to hold on and stay afloat while doing core and lower body workouts. 
  • Buoyancy belt. This can keep your head above water so you can do arm exercises without treading water. 

Pool exercises for a full-body workout 

1. Walk in water

Walking in water is a good exercise to start off with as it helps you get a feeling for how you can create resistance. Walking in water can target your arms, core, and lower body. You can increase the intensity by using hand or ankle weights.

1.    Start off walking in shallow water, around waist height.

2.    Lengthen your spine and walk by putting pressure on your heel first and then your toes, instead of walking on your tiptoes.

3.    Keep your arms at your side, in the water, and move them as you walk.

4.    Engage your core and stand tall as you walk.

5.    Continue walking for 5-10 minutes.

2. Water arm lifts

This exercise will help strengthen the muscles in your arms. Using foam dumbbells will help add more resistance.

1.    Stand in water up to your shoulders.

2.    Hold the dumbbells at your side, with your palms facing up.

3.    Draw your elbows in close to your torso as you lift your forearms to the height of the water.

4.    Rotate your wrists to turn your palms facedown.

5.    Lower your arms back to the starting position.

6.    Do 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.

3. Lateral arm lifts

This exercise, which targets your upper body, is also best done with foam dumbbells.

1.    Stand in water up to your shoulders.

2.    Hold the dumbbells at your side.

3.    Raise your arms to the side until they’re level with the water and your shoulders.

4.    Lower your arms back down to your sides.

5.    Do 1-3 sets of 8-14 repetitions.

4. Back wall glide

This exercise helps to activate the muscles in your core and lower body.

1.    Hold onto the pool ledge, tuck your knees into your chest, and press your feet into the wall.

2.    Push off from the wall and float on your back as far as you can.

3.    Draw your knees into your chest, press your feet down to the bottom of the pool, and run back to the wall.

4.    Continue this exercise for 5-10 minutes.

5. Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks work the muscles in both your upper and lower body. You can add resistance with wrist and ankle weights.

1.    Stand in water at chest level.

2.    Start with your feet together and your arms at your side.

3.    Jump by moving your legs outward and, at the same time, bringing your arms over your head.

4.    Jump again to return to the starting position with your feet together and your arms at your side.

5.    Do 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

6. Leg shoots

This dynamic exercise works your core, low back, and legs.

1.    Keep your feet off the bottom of the pool during this exercise.

2.    Tuck your knees into your chest.

3.    Explosively press your feet and legs out in front and float flat on your back.

4.    Draw your knees back into your chest.

5.    Press your legs out behind you so you’re floating on your stomach.

6.    This is 1 repetition. Do 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

7. High-knee lift extensions

This exercise can strengthen the muscles in your core and lower body. Add ankle weights to increase the difficulty.

1.    Stand in water at waist height.

2.    Engage your core as you lift your right leg, bending your knee until your leg is level with the water.

3.    Pause with your leg lifted for a few seconds.

4.    Extend your leg straight out and hold this position for a few seconds.

5.    Slowly lower your leg down, keeping it straight.

6.    Repeat this move with your left leg.

7.    Continue for 5-10 minutes.

8. Leg kicks

This exercise works the muscles in your core and legs. Use ankle weights to make it more challenging.

1.    Hold onto the pool ledge or hold a kickboard.

2.    Flutter-kick your legs.

3.    Scissor-kick your legs open and closed.

4.    Do a breaststroke kick with your legs.

5.    Follow with dolphin kicks.

6.    Do each kick for 1-3 minutes.

Safety tips

  • You may sweat more than you realize when you’re working out in water, so stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before and after you work out.
  • Use a floatation device if you’re not a strong swimmer, like a buoyancy belt or floatation vest.
  • Avoid working out in a pool that’s heated above 90°F (32°C).

Stop exercising if you feel:

  • lightheaded or dizzy
  • unable to breathe
  • nauseous
  • faint or weak
  • pain or pressure in your chest or upper body

The bottom line 

Water workouts are an effective way to boost your cardio fitness while also strengthening the major muscle groups in your body. Pool exercises are especially helpful for anyone with joint issues or injuries, as well as those who are pregnant or have balance trouble.

 

 

Pre-Workout Nutrition

 




Knowing What to Eat Is Important

Fueling your body with the right nutrients prior to exercise will give you the energy and strength you need to perform better.

Each macronutrient has a specific role before a workout. However, the ratio in which you need to consume them varies by the individual and type of exercise.

Below is a brief look at the role of each macronutrient.

Carbs

Your muscles use the glucose from carbs for fuel.

Glycogen is the way the body processes and stores glucose, mainly in the liver and muscles.

For short- and high-intensity exercise, your glycogen stores are your muscles’ main source of energy.

But for longer exercises, the degree to which carbs are used depends on several factors. These include the intensity, type of training and your overall diet.

Your muscles’ glycogen stores are limited. As these stores become depleted, your output and intensity diminish.

Studies have consistently shown that carbs can increase glycogen stores and utilization while boosting carb oxidation during exercise.

Carb loading, which involves consuming a high-carb diet for 1–7 days, is a well-known method to maximize glycogen stores.

Protein

Many studies have documented the potential of pre-workout protein consumption to improve athletic performance.

Eating protein (alone or with carbs) prior to exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.

One study showed a positive anabolic response after participants consumed 20 grams of whey protein before exercise.

Other benefits of eating protein before exercise include:

  • A better anabolic response, or muscle growth 
  • Improved muscle recovery 
  • Increased strength and lean body mass 
  • Increased muscle performance 

Fat

While glycogen is used for short- and high-intensity bouts of exercise, fat is the source of fuel for longer and moderate-to-low-intensity exercise.

Some studies have investigated the effects of fat intake on athletic performance. However, these studies looked at high-fat diets over a long period, rather than prior to exercise.

For example, one study showed how a four-week diet consisting of 40% fat increased endurance running times in healthy, trained runners.

The Timing of Your Pre-Workout Meal Is Key

The timing of your meal is also an important aspect of pre-exercise nutrition.

To maximize the results of your training, try to eat a complete meal containing carbs, protein and fat 2–3 hours before you exercise.

However, in some cases, you may not be able to get in a full meal 2–3 hours before working out.

In that case, then you can still eat a decent pre-workout meal. However, keep in mind that the sooner you eat before your workout, the smaller and simpler the meal should be.

If you eat 45–60 minutes prior to your workout, choose foods that are simple to digest and contain mainly carbs and some protein.

This will help prevent any stomach discomfort during exercise.

Some Examples of Pre-Workout Meals

Which foods and how much to eat depends on the type, duration and intensity of the workout.

A good rule of thumb is to eat a mixture of carbs and protein prior to exercise.

If you eat fat with your pre-workout meal, then it should be consumed at least a few hours before your workout.

Here are some examples of balanced pre-workout meals:

If Your Workout Starts Within 2–3 Hours or More

  • Sandwich on whole-grain bread, lean protein and a side salad
  • Egg omelet and whole-grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit
  • Lean protein, brown rice and roasted vegetables

If Your Workout Starts Within 2 Hours

  • Protein smoothie made with milk, protein powder, banana and mixed berries
  • Whole-grain cereal and milk
  • A cup of oatmeal topped with banana and sliced almonds
  • Natural almond butter and fruit preserve sandwich on whole-grain bread

If Your Workout Starts Within an Hour or Less

  • Greek yogurt and fruit
  • Nutrition bar with protein and wholesome ingredients
  • A piece of fruit, such as a banana, orange or apple

Keep in mind that you don’t need to eat many pre-workout meals at different times. Just choose one of these.

For best results, experiment with different timings and nutrient compositions.

 

Benefits Of Being Outdoors



Question for you… How do you feel after a long day of staring at your computer, answering phone calls, texts, and emails, or weaving in and out of traffic that’s laden with honking horns? Frazzled? Tense/stiff? Overwhelmed? Disconnected? Exhausted? Yep. We are not surprised.

 

How about this…

 

Remember how you’d feel as a kid after a long day of playing tag, hide and seek, climbing trees, or catching fireflies? Calm, relaxed, and content? We all know that feeling, even if it seems so far away in your distant memory. What if we told you that you could feel that way now? 

 

Spoiler alert: YOU CAN.

 

Who is this ecotherapy for? Everyone. 

 

Let’s dive deeper into the WHY you should spend more time outside…

  • Calming and relaxing effects - Being outside is a true mindfulness practice because it’s so much easier to stay in the present moment. Whether you are walking trails while listening to the birds, playing in the sand with your kids, gardening, or eating dinner on the back porch, the act of just being outside helps us to become absorbed in our environment. This is really good for your brain to take a break from the past, present, or future stresses that you can get caught dwelling on throughout the day.


Healthy distractions from unpleasant thoughts and pain can help to reduce cortisol, alleviating symptoms like anxiety, depression, PTSD, racing thoughts, muscle tension, and fast heartbeat. The sounds of birds, water, and rain, as well as looking at colorful scenery filled with various greens and all of the colors of the rainbow can positively impact your nervous system. 


  • Reduces symptoms of depression - There is proof that adults and children who regularly spend time outside throughout the week experience elevated moods and a better ability to handle change and the stresses of life.  A study in the journal “Mind” reported that 95 percent of participants interviewed after spending time outside noticed mental changes from depressed and anxious to a calmer and more balanced state. After time outside, people are often more motivated and take on a higher sense of self-worth.

 

  • Increase your energy and prevent burnout - When you are staring at screens all day indoors, while also trying to multitask, it can be extremely draining and exhausting for your mind and body. Even if you take a few minutes to go outside, feel the sun on your skin, or simply sit in nature and listen to the sounds, you can feel the benefits of a natural energy boost.


If you are partaking in outdoor exercise like walking/running, gardening, biking, swimming, riding horses, farming, yoga, or whatever else you love to do, these activities can increase energy and motivation, as well as positively impact sleep and immune function, which can benefit your energy levels as well.


  • Improved connection to others - Even when I was in medical school in Portland, amongst the bright lights, honking horns, asphalt, and traffic jams - all of the things that Tanda’s hate, I was able to find tranquility and connection when I walked the quiet trails outside of the city. When people walked by and we exchanged a hello or a headnod, there was an instant sense of belonging and camaraderie even when I didn’t know them. Why? Because we were all out there seeking the same thing… connection to the earth and the peace that it gives. And I think everyone that consciously spends time outside in nature has that collective understanding.

 

The point is, you can find connections with others through nature no matter where you live. You can find it in the big cities or you can find it when completely immersed on a 40 acre farm in the middle of nowhere, doing chores and eating dinner with loved ones daily, like I am today. Mother Earth wants to be found by all. And she knows how important it is for us to find her together.


  • Brings you back to your childhood - When we connect to our playful inner child and the joys that we experienced before the major stresses of life hit us, it’s extremely therapeutic and healing for all that we have endured over the years. Take time to think back to the outdoor activities that brought you joy, calm, excitement, and feelings of safety and security as a child… What were they? And then, implement them.


I am sure this all sounds great, but I also know it could also sound a little daunting. Getting back to the basics of life and reconnecting to earth in ways that feel so unfamiliar at this point may seem hard. Well, that’s why I am here. I have some really great options for ecotherapy so that you can get started as soon as possible and rekindle that long-lost love affair you had with mother nature years ago.

 

How to connect with the earth…

  • Hike some trails
  • Do yoga in the yard
  • Eat dinner on the back porch
  • Walk at a local park or in your neighborhood
  • Spend time with your animals
  • Visit a farm… or start a farm
  • Create a garden
  • Rake leaves… and don’t forget to jump in them
  • Spend time at the beach…build a sandcastle
  • Tie-dye t-shirts in the yard
  • Go camping
  • Kayak or canoe the river
  • Have a bonfire and a cookout
  • Workout outside instead of inside the gym
  • Shop at the outdoor farmers market
  • Read on the porch
  • Try mountain or rock climbing
  • Ride a horse
  • Plant flowers
  • Climb sturdy trees
  • Play a game of kickball or tag with family or the neighbors
  • Go swimming
  • Play outdoor sports
  • If it’s cold, build a snowman, go sledding, and make a snow angel
  • Get chickens…you can have them anywhere these days
  • Catch fireflies in a mason jar…and then let them go 


The list is endless. Even just starting with a little time outside will show you how much good it does for your soul.  We want to know your favorite things to do outside, so report back. Enjoy this earth that we get to live on!

 

 

Create A Solid Night Time Routine For Better Sleep

 




1. Make it a routine and set your bedtime

Having a regular bedtime is just as important for adults as it is for children. Set your bedtime, whether it’s 9 pm or 1 am and stick to it. A consistent sleep schedule can get you more and better quality rest and may lower your risk for heart disease. Additionally, a set bedtime will ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but the amount you need is highly individualized. 

 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK BEFORE BED

2. Snacking: Eating some simple carbs after dinner may help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Foods like potatoes, toast with peanut butter, low-fat cheese and crackers, almonds, bananas, or yogurt are easy to digest and may be sleep inducing. Avoid sugary or high-fat foods (sorry, no ice cream). Some spicy foods are also difficult to digest and may cause you to wake up throughout the night.

 

3. Stop eating early: Speaking of snacking, avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. Beyond eating early, sticking to a regular dinner time regulates your circadiam rhythm and improves your sleep efficiency. 

 

4. Have a hot beverage: Warm milk is a traditional bedtime routine in some cultures. It may be that the sleep-inducing compounds that milk contains, such as tryptophan, can promote sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in proteins (such as turkey) and plays a role in the production of serotonin, which boosts mood, promotes relaxation, and functions as a precursor in the production of melatonin.

If you don’t like milk, or you’re on a plant-based diet, you can try chamomile tea, which in addition to reducing anxiety and depression may also boost your immune system. Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to receptors in your brain that can promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.

5. Avoid caffeine: Coffee drinkers should stay away from consuming it in the afternoon. Some people are so sensitive to caffeine that they should stop before noon

 

6. Avoid alcohol: We’ve said it before. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it is detrimental to a good night’s sleep. Sleep is an active process and alcohol inhibits those processes. Alcohol prevents you from getting enough REM sleep and deep sleep as your body metabolizes it.

 

TIPS FOR WINDING DOWN

Not every tip will work for every person, so experiment with different wind-down activities to see which ones work better for you.

7. Separate work from bed: The ability to work from anywhere means you can also work at any time. Working remotely often means you have less separation between home and the office, and potentially less separation between work and sleep. This was an issue during the coronavirus pandemic when people who were used to going into work suddenly had to work from home. Nearly one-third of American employees worked remotely during the pandemic, and about 40% of Americans polled reported new sleeping problems. 

Avoid working in your bedroom if possible. Maintaining a separate space for sleep lets you mentally associate your bedroom with relaxation and sleep. Additionally, try to stick to a schedule. You are in your work area for a specific time that is separated by at least a couple of hours from bedtime. This gives you a chance to have work, family and wind-down times, and spaces that encroach less on each other.

8. Tech-free time: Plan some technology-free time before you go to bed. Blue lights from most televisions, computers, and phones inhibit the production of melatonin. It also affects your circadian rhythm, which is one reason blue light and sunlight wake you up in the morning. Some electronics have settings that alter screen temperatures to a warmer color in the evening, but electronics can have other negative effects. Social media can create feelings of anxiety and depression, emotions you don’t necessarily want to feel when you’re trying to sleep.

 

WIND-DOWN ACTIVITIES

9. Pre-bed yoga routine: A gentle activity such as yoga can calm your mind and heart rate as you prepare for bed.  One survey found that most adults reported improved sleep after practicing yoga and 85% said it reduces stress. Try relaxing positions such as child pose, reclined butterfly, or simply sitting cross-legged on the floor (or your bed) in the easy pose and breathing for five minutes to activate the parasympathetic system.

 

10. Music, white or pink noise: A sound machine for white or pink noise frequencies that generate a steady background hum can drown out noises that may keep you awake or jolt you out of sleep. Turn on the sound machine as part of your nightly routine to teach your brain that these sounds mean its bedtime.

 

11. Journaling: Writing in a diary the old-fashioned way lets you organize your mind, decrease overthinking and worry, and allows you to fall asleep faster. If you’re prone to staying awake with anxiety, organizing your thoughts on paper may help calm you enough to be able to rest. You can also use journaling to write about positive experiences to redirect your mind as you prepare for sleep.

 

12. Meditation: Like yoga and journaling, meditation decreases resting heart rate and improves heart rate variability. Meditation also promotes neuroplasticity.  

 

13. Supplements like magnesium or melatonin: Magnesium can help your body relax by inhibiting the sympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system.  Magnesium deficiencies have been connected to sleep disorders and poor sleep. If you’re not getting enough of it in your diet a magnesium supplement may aid your sleep.