Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Lose Weight with Kettlebells


Kettlebell training has many different advantages and lets you train your body from different angles and in a far more functional range of motion.  But what’s great about the kettlebell is how versatile it is as a tool and how it allows you to develop your fitness and health in numerous ways.

If you want to build bodybuilder-type muscle, then you can do so by using single joint isolation movements and heavy resistance.  This will create muscle fiber tears, flood your muscles with metabolites and generally help you to encourage more growth.  At the same time though, you can also use a kettlebell to lose weight and it happens to be particularly well suited to that goal.  Let’s look at how you might do that.

The Exercises


The great thing about the kettlebell is that it allows you to perform resistance cardio.  This means you are doing cardiovascular training that increases your heart rate and helps you to burn fat.  At the same time though, you are also lifting weight, which protects your muscle from breakdown and increases the challenge, thereby increasing the amount of calories burned and the amount of effort involved.  The kettlebell also allows you to train on the spot and without a lot of tools. Unlike running, you can enjoy kettlebell training anywhere and anytime.

To get the very most of this, you can combine the kettlebell with the HIIT modality.  HIIT is ‘high intensity interval training’ – a form of exercise that challenges you to alternate between brief bursts of high intensity exertion and shorter periods of relatively steady-state exercise.  For example, you might perform the kettlebell swing for 1 minute and then rest for 30 seconds before going again.  The kettlebell swing is an ideal movement for resistance cardio that involves swinging the kettlebell between your legs and then straight back up in the air using a slight hip thrust movement to provide the forward momentum.


The Diet


To lose weight, kettlebell training must be combined with the right type of diet, one that is relatively low in calories.  The objective is to burn more calories in a day than you consume.  So, if you normally burn 2,000 calories and consume 2,200 calories, you can increase that burn to 2,400 doing kettlebell training and you can then reduce the amount you eat to 2,100 calories.  Now you’re losing 300 calories every day!

Try to eat more protein and you will support more muscle growth while reducing fat storage.  Combine this with 4 workouts a week, lasting about 20 minutes each, and you should start to see the results you’re looking for using just this one tool and one movement.

Remember though, weight loss is only achievable if you change your entire lifestyle and habits.  It is not enough to simply add in an exercise and forget about it!  Walk more, spend less time in front of the TV and reduce unhealthy snacks.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

5 Tips to Improve Mobility with Arthritis


For many people, especially older adults, arthritis is a debilitating illness. Arthritis causes increased inflammation around the joint that can lead to immobility and pain.

While there are conventional medical treatments that are available for people with arthritis, many wonder what can be done along with medication to help improve mobility with their arthritis. In fact, there are many natural methods to help manage pain and improve mobility.

Below are five different alternative therapies and treatments that can help you manage your daily arthritis symptoms and mobility issues.

Hydrotherapy


WebMD recommends hydrotherapy as a form of exercise for those with arthritis. The hydrotherapy pool tends to be warmer than a traditional swimming pool. With hydrotherapy, participants can get all of the benefits of regular exercise without any of the impact on joints.

This may be especially beneficial to those with arthritis because the joints are particularly affected. Having an option for exercise that has zero impact on the joints can increase mobility as well as range of motion. Many times hydrotherapy is considered a form of physical therapy and may be covered by insurance.

Range of Motion Exercises


Many sufferers of arthritis keep the affected joints in a tightened position to alleviate pain. Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of increasing pain because it shortens ligaments and muscles around the affected joint. This means that instead of decreasing pain over the long-term keeping the joints in a tightened position will actually increase pain.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends all arthritis sufferers participate in range of motion exercises. The range of motion exercises typically includes stretching and extending the joints to their full ability. Some range of motion programs may include yoga or tai chi.


Lose Weight


Because arthritis causes pain and immobility many sufferers of arthritis have excess weight. The excess weight increases pressure and damage on the joints. The increased pressure and damage on the joints increases pain which causes decreased mobility. It becomes a never ending cycle of increased pain and decreased mobility.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that if you have arthritis, you maintain a healthy body weight. If you’re currently overweight and have a difficult time moving a healthy body weight can be maintained through proper diet.

A meeting with a dietitian can help you start a healthy diet if you are not sure where to begin. The dietitian or nutritionist may also have ideas on foods that can help decrease inflammation in the body and reduce pain from your arthritis.

Hot and Cold Therapy


One of the benefits of hot and cold therapy is that it can be done at home. Another benefit is that it is very inexpensive. Heating pads and ice packs are easy to have on hand and don’t cost a lot of money. Healthline suggests that arthritis sufferers try alternating hot and cold therapy to affected joints to decrease pain.

You may find that some days cold therapy works the best on your arthritic joints while other days a heating pad may be better. Having both on hand to use is going to be the best way to ensure that this therapy is effective at increasing your mobility and decreasing your pain.

Massage


The Arthritis Foundation notes that one of the most beneficial treatments for mobility in arthritis patients is massage. Massage can help increase range of motion simply by relieving tension on stiff muscles and ligaments that surround the arthritic joints.

The Arthritis Foundation also says that the best types of massage for people with arthritis are either deep tissue massage or Swedish massage. If you are having a high amount of pain deep tissue massage may be difficult to tolerate because of how deep into the muscle massage therapist will go. Either way, massage therapy is an easily accessible treatment to help increase your range of motion when you have arthritis.



While arthritis will not go away no matter how well you take care of your body, you can manage your symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. If you combine medication with these holistic approaches to treatment, you are sure to have a happier and pain-free life.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Do What Makes You Laugh


Laughter can be infectious. When you hear the sound of laughter, you can’t help but laugh yourself. When laughter is shared among others, it causes a binding between people and increases both intimacy and happiness.

It’s well known that laughter triggers healthy bodily changes and healthy changes in the mind. Laughter can increase your energy level, lessen pain, strengthen the immune system, and protect you from stress. Laughter is the best medicine because it is free, fun, and easy.

Laughter is Strong Medicine


Laughter can be a strong antidote to conflict, pain, and stress. There is nothing else that works more dependably or quicker to bring your body and mind into balance than laughter. The use of humor can lighten your burdens, connect you to others, inspire your hope, and keep you focused, alert, and grounded.

With this ability to renew your health and heal you, laughter can be a great resource for whatever problems you may have. It can also strengthen your relationships, and can support your emotional and physical health and wellbeing.

How is Laughter Good for Your Health?


Laughter can do many things for your health. These include the following:

  • Laughter can boost your immune system. It can decrease the level of stress hormones within the body and increase the number of immune cells and antibodies you have, which will help you become more resistant to disease.
  • Laughter is relaxing. A wonderful laugh can relieve you of stress and physical tension so that your muscles can be relaxed for up to 45 minutes following laughing.
  • Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones. When your endogenous endorphins are released, you feel a sense of well-being and a reduction in the sensation of pain.
  • Laughter can help the heart. Laughter can increase the ability of the blood vessels to nourish all parts of the body. It can increase your blood flow, which in turn can help prevent heart attacks and other types of heart diseases. 

The Overall Benefits of Laughter


Laughter is known to have many health benefits, including physical, emotional, and social benefits. Some of these include the following:

  • Decreases your stress levels
  • Increases your immunity
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Protects your heart
  • Lessens pain
  • Lessens fear and anxiety
  • Relieves stress
  • Adds joy to your life
  • Enhances your mood
  • Improves your resilience
  • Attracts other people to us
  • Promotes the bonding among group members
  • Improves teamwork
  • Strengthens relationships

Emotional Health


Laughter simply makes a person feel good. This good feeling persists even when you are done laughing. Laughter helps you maintain an optimistic, positive outlook so you can better get through situations of loss, disappointments, and other difficult situations.

Laughter is more than just a protection against pain and sadness. It gives you the strength and courage to find other sources of hope and meaning. Even when you find yourself in the most difficult of times, laughter or even a smile can take you far when it comes to feeling better. Laugher really is a bit contagious. When you hear someone else laugh, it primes your brain and sets you up to join that person in laughing, too.

Mental Health


Laughter is associated with better mental health. Some things laughter can do to improve your mental health include the following:
  • Laughter allows you to relax. A good laugh can lessen stress and increase your energy levels so that you can remain focused and get more things accomplished.
  • Laughter can lessen distress. It is hard to feel sad, anxious, or angry when you are instead laughing. 
  • Laughter shifts your perspective. It allows you to see things in a less threatening and more realistic light. Being humorous helps create a psychological distance between you and stressful events so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

Social Benefits


When you use humor and engage in playful communication with others, your relationships become stronger and you trigger positive emotions and an emotional connection with those you are laughing with. A positive bond develops—one that can act as a powerful buffer against disappointment, disagreements, and stress. When you laugh with others, this is a more powerful thing than when you laugh alone.

How to Create More Opportunities to Laugh


What do you enjoy doing to increase your chances of laughing? Here are some you might try:
  • Attend a comedy club
  • Watch something funny on television
  • Watch videos of funny animals on YouTube
  • Read the comics in the newspaper
  • Be with people who are funny
  • Share a funny story or joke with another
  • Read a funny book
  • Sponsor a game night with your friends
  • Play with your pet
  • Play with children
  • Do something you think is silly
  • Engage in activities you consider fun
Laughter can do a lot to help you feel better on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Don’t be afraid to share a good laugh with others for all around better health.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

5 Natural Ways To Improve Your Sleep


Getting a good night’s sleep can be refreshing and rejuvenating. For millions, though, a good night’s sleep seems just out of reach. People of all ages across the globe suffer from occasional to chronic insomnia.

Insomnia is a condition that interrupts your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you are suffering from this sleep disturbance, you may be hesitant to turn to harsh medications to help you fall asleep.

Here are 5 ways that you can help improve your sleep naturally.

Reduce the Caffeine


The morning cup of coffee seems to be a staple beverage for many people. However, caffeine is not just in coffee. Caffeine can be hiding in the soda you drink, the tea, and even some of the foods you eat. While eliminating caffeine out of your diet 100% may not be possible, try to limit your consumption of caffeine to the mornings only. Prevention Magazine tells us that ingesting caffeine, even 6 hours before bedtime, can disrupt sleep.

Exercise


Not only does exercise help you maintain a healthy body weight and better mental outlook but a Sleep Foundation study found that those who exercised were less sleepy during the day and slept better at night. While a new exercise routine may leave you a little tired at first, regular exercise will give you more energy and help you fall asleep at bedtime. This may have to do with the chemicals released by the body when you exercise. The neurotransmitters released by the brain during exercise have all sorts of beneficial properties and improved sleep is one of them.

Meditate


Meditation has a restorative effect on the brain. There are all sorts of benefits that meditation can have for a person. Many of the benefits of meditation include reduced stress and a better ability to cope with difficult issues in one’s life. Meditation is also great for insomnia. A Harvard study found that mindful meditation helped combat insomnia. It invokes a relaxation response in those who participate helping them relax enough to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. If you are not familiar with how to meditate there are many guided meditation audio programs that you can buy or check out from your library.


Sleep Hygiene


Sleep hygiene is a practice to help you sleep better at night. It has to do with environmental cues. Alaska sleep notes that these environmental cues should be taken into consideration if you aren’t sleeping.
  • Use the bedroom for sex and sleep only
  • No electronics
  • Keep the room dark and quiet
  • Keep your room cool
  • Have a good mattress
  • Set your alarm clock away from your bed
  • Get Up Every Morning
Getting up at the same time every day and avoiding naps helps your body follow a circadian rhythm. According to Verywell we need this to sleep well at night. There are two really important elements to this step.
  1. Stop hitting the snooze and train yourself to get up at the same time every day. If you hit the snooze button once or twice (or 6 times), you are not really training yourself to get up at the same time every day. If you know you do not need to get up until 7:30, stop setting your alarm for 7. Save yourself the 30 minutes of interrupted sleep and set the alarm for 7:30, get up the first time it goes off.
  2. NO NAPS. If you are not used to getting up in the morning, then this may be the hard part for you. Napping can throw you off for sleeping at night because you simply are not tired enough to get to bed on time. Skip the nap (and the caffeine), and stay up so that you can get a good nights sleep. 
Now you have an arsenal of information that should help you fall asleep faster at night. Remember, finding what works well for you may take some playing around. So, if you don’t get it right the first night or two don’t give up. These sleep strategies are proven to work. They just take time. Give them a few weeks and you should be sleeping soundly.

Monday, March 27, 2017

10 Ways Exercise Boosts Your Self Confidence


All of us want to feel good about ourselves. When we are confident, we feel better emotionally and mentally and this reflects in a very positive way in our behaviors, and improves our quality of life, everything from personal relationships to our professional endeavors.

Therefore, anything, which can help boost our self-confidence, is good for us. One of the best ways to boost your self-confidence is by exercising regularly. This not only good for self-assurance but has great health benefits.

So how can exercise boost self-confidence? Let me count the ways...
  • Weight Control. Exercising along with healthy eating is the best way to control or lose weight. This is all about energy intake and energy burning. Obviously, if you burn more energy than you take in then you will lose weight. Being overweight can be a confidence destroyer. Therefore the better shape you are, the better you will feel.

  • Improves mood. There's nothing better emotionally than a good workout. Before you think that this requires a trip to the gym, think again. A good workout could be a brisk walk, or a jog. In fact, anything that makes your body work physically harder can be a workout. What this does is to stimulate brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which promote a general feeling of well-being. The results are a reduction in stress and anxiety.

  • It's good for the heart. Regular exercising lowers the risk of various heart-related conditions. Exercising has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce problems associated with diabetes and can even help in fighting heart disease. This is quite logical – if exercising reduces weight, then this means that the heart has to work less and in turn, the heart is much healthier. There is also less pressure on joints and other areas of the body.

  • Keeps the body in shape. This is slightly different from weight control. Being is shape involves having a well-toned body and better posture – all aspects connected with self-confidence. When a person feels good about himself, it's easier to make friends and more connections in life means more confidence.

  • More energy. If we don't have the energy to do things, then everything becomes a chore. That can lead to feelings of feeling bad about oneself. Regular exercise helps the whole body work more effectively. The result is that chores become responsibilities and the more responsibility we are coping with, the better we feel.

  • Better sleep. Regular exercise promotes good sleep. It is proven that sleep is necessary for general feelings of well-being. Sleep is also necessary for how we look. Just imagine preparing for an important meeting and looking in the mirror and seeing dark circles under bloodshot eyes – how confident will you feel? Therefore, exercising will improve sleep. One word of warning – just don't exercise too near bedtime.

  • Improves productivity. One of the best ways to clear the mind is to exercise regularly. Exercise gives you a chance to wipe the slate clean and start from new. In addition, if you push yourself exercising you can realize new potentials and this in turn boosts self-confidence. Very often, what you thought was a major problem before exercising disappears after.

  • Give you something to look forward to. Once you have a reasonable schedule for exercising, you will start to look forward to it. This in itself is a confidence booster. Once you start seeing the benefits of exercising, you will have the desire to continue and in the end, you feel better and look better.

  • Improves concentration. In general exercising helps us to develop the necessary skills to concentrate on the task in hand. This then trains us better when we have tasks or responsibilities to concentrate better, resulting in more praise and benefits.

  • Feelings of control and achievement. In general, exercising has so many benefits to health and mind that we can't help having a feeling of control and achievement. Working out takes work, dedication, commitment, and care for oneself, and all this facilitates enormous feelings of confidence.

Don’t Wait! Get Started Today!

Try incorporating regular exercising into your routine and you will experience the many benefits to your self-confidence that regular exercising gives.

Monday, March 20, 2017

8 Key Foods for Focus and Concentration



Focus and concentration are vital in just about everyone’s lives in one way or another. Many people find it hard to focus or concentrate for long periods of time, or sometimes to even get started. The elusive secret to endless focus and concentration is a myth, but there are certain ways you can increase your focus and concentration levels.

Techniques such as yoga and meditation have been shown to help focus the mind and come highly recommended. In addition, there are certain foods that can help increase focus and concentration levels, and these are outlined below.


Salmon & Other Types of Fish


Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout contain omega-3, which has been continually shown to improve brain function and therefore concentration. By affecting our cognitive processes, we can think clearer and therefore increase our focus. These foods also have anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to protect the brain cells and keep them functioning properly.

Berries & Tomatoes


Berries and tomatoes are high in antioxidants, specifically, vitamins A, C and E. These foods help to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain, which is essential to keep the brain working, as it should; without an adequate blood flow, the brain will struggle to focus. Moreover, these foods also contain anti-inflammatory properties, so also help to protect the brain cells.

Nuts


Nuts are high in vitamin B6, which has been scientifically shown to be beneficial to our cognitive processes. Specifically, vitamin B6 directly affects our memory and concentration levels, so increasing our level of B6 intake can affect our focus and concentration levels. Research has also suggested that, apart from improving our focus and concentration, vitamin B6 may have an important role in protecting us from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Dark chocolate


Good quality dark chocolate has many important health benefits in addition to improving focus and concentration. Research has shown that dark chocolate can increase serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which can help our brain to function better. Moreover, dark chocolate also contains anti-oxidants and a number of important vitamins and minerals such as potassium. However, too much chocolate can rapidly increase the calories consumed, which ultimately may reduce the positive effects it can have.

Water


Such a simple idea, but water is incredibly effective. A huge percentage of our bodies are made up of water so it is perhaps no wonder that we can struggle to function if we do not consume an adequate amount of water. Dehydration can occur relatively quickly and one of the first parts to be affected is the brain. Without adequate water, it can be hard to think clearly and mental fatigue can quickly set in.

Green Tea


When you feel like you need a caffeine hit, most people reach for the coffee. By the time, you add sugar and milk, the calories can soon add up and there may not be so much of a positive effect. As an alternative, opt for the green tea instead. Not only is it better for your waistline, but it contains caffeine, which will help with your focus and concentration. In addition, green tea is rich in anti-oxidants, which helps to protect the brain cells.

Bananas


Bananas are a simple and easy snack to consume, even for those people on the go. Studies have shown that students who consume bananas before an exam performed much better than those who did not. Bananas contain high levels of potassium, an essential brain chemical. Potassium helps to keep your brain and nerve cells in top working order. Combine this with other foods listed above and you should never be short of focus or concentration again.

If you typically live on junk and processed food and find yourself struggling with focus and concentration, then consider eating these power foods and, in general, changing your diet to include more healthy whole foods.  It can really do wonders for your brain!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

4 Ways Water Can Help Regulate What and How Much You Eat



Weight loss can be a hard task for anyone. There're so many different elements that go into losing weight it can be like learning a whole new set of information. There is one simple thing that you can do to help regulate how much and what you eat. Drinking water is not a magical cure-all, but it may seem like it after you learn what it can do to help you regulate your eating.

Water Aids Digestion Through Saliva


Digestion starts with saliva. Saliva is made mostly of water. According to Everyday Health, the enzymes in saliva are the beginning of the digestive tract. These enzymes help break down food so that they can be properly digested in the stomach. Without these and times food would never be able to be processed in the stomach.

Water also helps break down the fiber. Water-soluble fiber is one of the biggest factors of filling full after you eat. If you have not had enough water, or are dehydrated digesting water soluble fiber becomes almost impossible. Make sure that you can digest this food element properly by drinking lots of water.


Water Soluble Vitamins


One of the reasons that we eat food is to get access to vitamins. Vitamins and minerals are vital to various body functions. Deficits in these minerals and vitamins can cause cravings in the body. San Francisco Gate tells how the body cannot digest certain water-soluble vitamins without enough water in the body.

Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins that can only be absorbed with the aid of water. These vitamins break down with the water in the digestive tract and men are absorbed into the body. Absorption of these essential vitamins stops when dehydration occurs, or when there is not enough water in the body. When even slight deficiencies are present, you may begin craving additional foods even though you’re not hungry. These cravings are due to vitamin deficiencies and not hunger so make sure that you have enough water so that you can digest all your water-soluble vitamins.

Eat Fewer Calories


Water can help you eat fewer calories than you would if you didn’t drink water before meals. Livestrong notes a study where participants consumed 75-90 fewer calories with 2 8-oz glasses before dinner per meal. Now consuming 90 fewer calories per meal may not seem like a whole lot. However, if you did this every meal you could lose up to 28 pounds a year.

How?

If you save 90 calories a meal three times a day, that’s 270 calories every day that you’re not eating. If you do this every day for a week you’ve not consumed 1890 calories. Continue saving that 90 calories a meal every week for a year, and you’ve saved 98,280 calories. 3500 calories make up a pound. In weight loss, the theory is that a deficit of 3500 calories means 1 pound of weight loss. By saving 98,280 calories you’ve created a pretty big gap.

Meaning 28 pounds!

On the flip-side, if you were to continue eating as normal that 90 calories could be in excess. So, instead of saving, you’ve actually GAINED 28 pounds in a year. All this weight loss or weight gain is changed by only drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before each meal.

Hunger and Thirst Cues are the Same


You may be reaching for a snack when what you should be reaching for is a tall glass of water. Spark People shared an article describing how the body sends out the exact same signal for hunger that it does for thirst. Many people don’t know how to tell the difference between hunger and thirst, and because we so rarely think about dehydration we assume that we are hungry. Next time you’re getting hungry signals from your brain try reaching for a glass of water instead. You may find out that you were just thirsty.

Now you know four surprising ways that water can help you control how much and what you eat. Helping you stop cravings and eat less water is a fantastic one stop shop for your diet solutions. What are some ways that you have noticed water help you with your diet?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

The alignment was right within Canva but when I save the file the title shifts...

Benny's mother is sick so we're making the trip to Germany to visit her and the rest of his family.  I really wanted Austin to join us, especially since it's over his spring break, but I'm not sure it would've worked out.  So many factors come into play from cost, to getting my ex to comply, to the logistics of it all.

This is my first time on an airplane since the ex and I went to California in 99.  It's also my first time traveling overseas.  On top of that, now that I know some of the incompetence in the aircraft manufacturing industry...well, it kinda makes me want to obtain a list of manufacturers for all the components on the plane to see whether or not I trust that certain critical parts were made correctly.


Travel Arrangements


The grand adventure begins Tuesday when we ride the Greyhound bus to New York.  You may be asking why we're not flying or driving ourselves this leg of the trip.  It's straight up the cost...about an extra $400 on round trip airfare or one way car rental.  I have plenty of vacation time (and will get my next batch in May) so this trip will hopefully allow me to relax a bit.

We arrive very early Wednesday morning, giving us almost 15 hours in the city before the flight to Berlin takes off.  So what are we supposed to do with our luggage and what will we do to kill all that time?  If you have any recommendations please be sure to let me know.  The flight to Berlin is non-stop so that'll be smooth sailing.  We'll pick up a rental car at the airport (most likely) and head to a bank to exchange currency before driving to Benny's brother's house where we'll be staying.

We'll head back home a couple of weeks later but we have about a 9 hour layover in Lisbon.  Also looking for recommendations as to what to do there.  We didn't book the Greyhound back in case there are any flight delays that would stop us from being in line with the bus departure times.

Fitting in Fitness


Benny says they don't have gyms there like they have here (whatever that means LOL) so I'll have to improvise with workouts.  I'm bringing the resistance band set for strength training and plan to take walks throughout the neighborhood or wherever else we end up going.  How do you like to fit in fitness when you travel?


Healthy Eating?


I have no idea what food options I'll have while overseas.  As I don't speak the language (Benny's family speaks some English but it's rusty) so he'll have to interpret most conversations and translate the menus for me.  I've only met his parents so I don't know anything about how the rest of Benny's family cooks or eats.  My tub of Chocolate Brownie PlantFusion is already packed in the suitcase along with a shaker cup so at least I know I'll have something healthy.  We're still sorting out what we're bringing for the bus ride.



Adventure awaits!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eating Fruits and Vegetables for a Healthier You


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we eat between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. When you first hear that number, it may seem like a lot, but it is much easier than you think to fit that many servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. For one thing, the shelves of the grocery stores are bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, vegetables and fruits are some of the least expensive, most nutrient rich, foods in the supermarket. With all these fruits and vegetables to choose from, it can be simple to make these nutritious, delicious foods part of your daily meals and snacks.

When you consider how much a serving really is, it is quite painless to get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. For instance, the recommended daily amount equates to a quite reasonable two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables every day. When you consider how many fruits and vegetables are available, and how low the prices usually are, reaching this daily goal is pretty easy.


One great way to get the nutrients you need from fruits and vegetables every day is to take full advantage of the variety of these foods available. Eating the same thing every day quickly becomes boring, so why not pick a variety of fruits and vegetables, in every color of the rainbow and in every conceivable shape, size and texture, to give yourself a varied diet every day.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables, it is important to choose a variety of different colors. This is for more than purely artistic reasons. Different color fruits and vegetables have different types of nutrients, and choosing a variety of colors will help ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need each day.


Finding new recipes is another great way to ensure you get those five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Almost everyone likes to try out new recipes, and these new recipes may just provide the stimulus you need to eat all those fruits and veggies.

New recipes can also provide you the opportunity to try out some fruits and vegetables you have never tried before. For instance, everyone has eaten oranges, but have you tried kiwi fruit or mangoes? How about spinach or kale? Trying new things is a great way to find new favorites while getting the best nutrition available.


Many people mistakenly think that they do not need to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day if they just take a vitamin supplement. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is because fruits and vegetables contain far more than the micronutrients identified by science and synthesized in vitamin supplements. While these micronutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E are important to good health, so too are the hundreds of other elements that are contained in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These elements are not available in any pill, they must be ingested through a healthy, balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables.

In addition, fruits and vegetables are much less costly than vitamin pills. Fruits and vegetables are very inexpensive, especially when purchased in season and grown locally. In the long run, getting the nutrition you need from the food you eat is much less expensive, and much better for you, than popping those vitamin supplements every day.


So, don’t forget to get your five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It may seem like a lot, but you can meet this quite reasonable goal simply by including fruits and vegetables as snacks, as garnishes, as side dishes and as meals.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Delayed Gratification Scoundrel


We first talked about the Complacent Scoundrel.  This character is stuck in the status quo, never seeking what is best for herself.  The Delayed Gratification Scoundrel is stuck in a different place - the future.

Characteristics of the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel

For the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel, she's always choosing to look forward to happiness at some later date or time.  It's always a case of "I'll be happy when" with her.  She's locked into the mindset of the future situation and enjoying that new phase of her life.  This becomes a problem when she never chooses what'll make her happy NOW or when she sacrifices her present happiness for something that may never happen.  Plain and simple, the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel is unable to experience contentment in the present, causing her to remain unhappy.

Questions to Ask

When you recognize that someone is affected by the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel, here are some questions to ask in order to gauge if she's ready to return to the present.
  • How has the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel helped you?
  • How has it negatively affected you?
  • When were you first introduced to the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel?  Was it brought to you by an outside force (family, culture, or society) or did you unconsciously accept it as your own?
  • How have you been a Delayed Gratification Scoundrel in the past week?
  • If there's something you'd rather be doing, can you do it instead?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate you overall level of satisfaction and happiness?
  • How have you delayed your happiness in the past?  How can you achieve instant gratification?
  • What's one thing you can do TODAY to have gratification and happiness in your life TODAY?

Defeating the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel

Just as with the Complacent Scoundrel, there are a variety of ways to defeat the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel.  However, these require a little more creativity to accomplish.

One big way to defeat the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel is to take time out of your day to play.  What things do you enjoy doing, that entertain and excite you?  Be artistic.  Play games with your family or friends.  Dress funky.  Do whatever enjoyable activity that helps you to nurture your inner child and get out of your own way, putting the serious you in the background for that moment in time.

Another way is to allow yourself to be in awe of life.  Take time to appreciate the little things in your environment and recognize the little things in yourself.  Return to your child-like vision of the world, observing everything.  You'll find things that you hadn't noticed before that this mind shift enables you to enjoy.

A third way is to add novelty into your life to make it more exiting.  To do this you'll have to step out of your comfort zone.  Just like with workouts you need to mix things up in the rest of your life.  I'm getting ready to do this myself in the next couple of weeks as we head to Germany to visit Benny's ailing mother.  I haven't been on a plane since 99 and don't know the language.  The whole trip is a novelty for me.

Affirmations

To keep your mind on defeating the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel, there are many affirmations that can guide you.  Pick any from the list (or choose your own), write them down, and place the affirmations around your home and workplace where they're visible to you.

I deserve all that I desire.
I desire all that I deserve.
I deserve to live the life I choose to lead.
I choose to be happy now.
I live in a limitless reality.
I accept the abundance of the Universe now.
My happiness is important to me today.
I listen to my heart.
I am in awe of my life as it stands right now.
I am balanced between work and play.
I revel in the ebb and flow of life.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

10 Reasons to Stop Eating Junk Food



We’ve all been told that junk food is bad for us, but because it tastes so darn good, most of us continue eating it;.After all, fruits and vegetables can’t beat the taste of fries, right?

Wrong!


Not only are fruits and vegetables among the most tastiest natural and healthiest foods on the planet, but junk food is also the lowest common denominator. It might tempt you with its "rock ’n’ roll swagger," but junk food offers absolutely no vital nutrients and zero health benefits.

Is it really worth risking your health and possibly enduring chronic disease as a result?

Here are 10 reasons why you should stop eating junk food:

Junk Food Is Linked To Diabetes


Diabetes is caused when the pancreas becomes so under siege that it can no longer produce adequate amounts of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that turns sugar into fuel, and as experts point out, junk food is loaded with unnatural sugars that can lead to type-2 diabetes that unfortunately can result in serious complications and premature death.

Junk Food Causes Digestive Issues


Virtually everyone on the planet will encounter digestive issues at some time or another. Among these issues are irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, bloating and excess gas. However, some complain that they suffer from digestive issues all the time, and the reason for this could be that they eat too much junk.

Junk food is full of oil, sugar, trans fats and chemicals that wreak havoc on your stomach. In addition, once your stomach is irritated, your digestive system goes out of whack.

Junk Food Causes Brain Fog


Many people just assume that only our bellies, thighs, and double chins are affected by a poor diet. However, fats don’t just make their way to your bulging abdomen - they also attack your brain.

When bad fats - such as those found in junk food - reach your brain, they cause brain fog, which is that feeling you get when you can’t focus on anything.

Junk Food Causes Fatigue


Junk food contains very few nutrients, vitamins and protein, all of which are essential for an invigorated you who seizes the day. If you exist on junk food alone, you’re going to struggle to do anything at optimum power. You’ll largely feel lethargic and run down.

Junk Food Is Linked With Depression Among Teenagers


1 in 3 U.S. teens eat junk food each day, and on top of the hindrance to their physical health, it is also important to consider what effect junk is having on their mental well-being.

Research has shown that the more junk food we eat, the more we are prone to depression. This is especially the case for teenagers because they are more susceptible to hormonal changes, which can be massively influenced by their diet.

Junk Food Can Cause Elevated Blood Sugar Levels


Junk food is rich in sugar, which puts stress on the metabolism. Moreover, because it’s low in carbs and protein, your blood sugar levels are more at risk of plummeting when you stop eating. This can make you feel moody and make you want to eat even more junk food.

Junk Food Can Increase Your Risk Of Heart Disease


Heart disease is indeed really scary, but there are preventative measures we can take to ensure we don’t struggle with it later on in life. Avoiding junk food is one such method because such food is rich in bad fats that increase your bad cholesterol levels and in turn encourage plaque to form and heart disease to develop.

Junk Food Can Damage Your Liver


Once your liver becomes overloaded with all the junk you’re throwing at it, it will certainly let you know. You’ll feel lethargic, stressed, irritable, and you may develop headaches, skin conditions and a whole lot more.

Junk food has been linked to liver disease on more than one occasion, and it turns out that it can be just as bad for your most overworked organ as alcohol.

Junk Food Increases Your Risk Of Cancer


The main reason for the link between certain foods and cancer is a lack of fiber. Moreover, junk food is low in mostly everything that’s good for you - including fiber.

Junk Food Is Linked To Kidney Damage


Fries are soaked in finely processed salt. When combined with a fatty, greasy hamburger, you’re essentially double downing on kidney disease, which comes about when too much salt increases blood pressure on a consistent basis.

CRAP vs FOOD


So what should you be enjoying instead?


Eat less CRAP
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Refined sugars
  • Artificial sweeteners and colors
  • Processed foods
Eat more FOOD
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Organic (whenever possible) lean proteins
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Drink water

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Complacent Scoundrel


Scoundrel (n): A dishonest or unscrupulous person; a rogue.

The first home study course I'm doing for the CECs through NETA is The Mind/Body Guide to Wellness,  This is worth 4 NETA CECs (not sure what it'd be worth for other certifying organizations).  The course centers around Deanna Reiter's The Nine Scoundrels.  These scoundrels lurk in our lives, sometimes obvious sometimes hidden, and tend to sabotage our happiness.  Do you recognize any of the nine scoundrels in your life or one of your loved ones?




Characteristics of the Complacent Scoundrel

For the Complacent Scoundrel, life is OK as is, nothing can be done to change it, and she must learn to live with life as it stands.  She is either unwilling or unable to identify the source of her unhappiness.  One of the major factors in her lack of motivation is the fear of the unknown.  From the outside observer, she appears happy, easy going, and indifferent.  She chooses whatever is second best because she accepts what's good enough.  She believes it'll be too difficult to fight her current situation to change anything.

There are a few good things associated with the Complacent Scoundrel.  She's usually a hard worker and extremely loyal.  She's also frugal but this can be taken to the extreme if she's not careful.

What prompts a person to kick the Complacent Scoundrel to the curb?  Some kind of external motivator pushes her to make a change.

Questions to Ask


When you recognize that someone is affected by the Complacent Scoundrel, here are some opening questions to ask in order to gauge if she's ready to move forward.
  • How has the Complacent Scoundrel helped you?
  • How has it negatively affected you?
  • When were you first introduced to the Complacent Scoundrel?  Was it brought to you by an outside force (family, culture, or society) or did you unconsciously accept it as your own?
  • How have you been a Complacent Scoundrel in the past week?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate your overall level of satisfaction and happiness?
  • What have you settled for that's left you with less than ideal situations, people, or things?
  • How can you make your life more ideal?  What's one thing that you can do TODAY to release what's not serving your highest good?


Defeating the Complacent Scoundrel


There are many things that can be done to defeat the Complacent Scoundrel.  One way is to garner conscious, independent thought to master your life.  This also allows you to see the alternatives within the areas of medicine, transportation, energy, education, business, government, economics, science, and theology.  Exploring the alternatives enables you to experience what's true for your unique self instead of solely relying on what tradition and the masses tell you.

Another way is to get your body moving with some kind of physical activity.  However, exercising only because you believe that you SHOULD can be problematic.  Intense exercise and extreme dieting hurts yourself by shocking your physical, mental, and emotional bodies.  Sticking with the SHOULDs causes you to want immediate gratification instead of gradual change.  The desire to exercise doesn't exist so it's not enjoyable.  You're also not a part of a support system to help with your accountability and progress.  All this together shows that you're not in the right mindset to truly change.

A third way to defeat the Complacent Scoundrel is to eat healthier according to what your body needs.  Being more conscious at the dinner table can help.  How can you do this?
  1. Transition.  Take a moment sitting in your car to relax and leave any work problems behind before entering your home.
  2. Check in with your mood.  Recognize if something's been weighing on you and take a mental step towards resolving the issue.
  3. Check in with your body.  What's your body craving?
  4. Sit.  If you're snacking before dinner, take the exact portion, not the whole package, with you to sit and eat.  Move yourself away from the next serving.
  5. Pause and get conscious.  There are two options to work on this area.
    1. Spend meal time talking with your family, keeping the conversation positive.
    2. Just sit and eat.  Enjoy everything about the food...taste, smell, emotions, etc.

Affirmations

To keep your mind on defeating the Complacent Scoundrel, there are many affirmations and thought changes that guide you.  Pick any from the list below (or choose your own), write them down, and place the affirmations around your home and workplace where they're visible to you.

I create my reality.
I deserve to be happy.
I deserve a perfect job.
I deserve a perfect place to live.
I deserve respect.
Only loving, peaceful people deserve to be in my life.
Everyone in my world wants what's best for me.
The Universe supports my happiness.
I choose to be in perfect situations.
I deserve the best that life has to offer me.
I choose to live a life of excitement and awe.
I deserve an ideal relationship with myself and others.
I'm generous with myself and others.
I choose to exercise and eat well for my health.
This plan is working for me.
Exercise is enjoyable.
My metabolism is getting faster.
This is getting easier.
Sweating is good; it releases toxins.
I'm getting more flexible every day.
I have the energy to do all that I need to do.
I can accomplish anything.
I can do this today.
I'm capable in this moment, at this age.
Every healthy step I take reaps benefits.
I am my healthy weight. (visualize it)
I'm fit.  I'm healthy.  I'm strong.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

5 Ways to Eat Healthier


It can be a real challenge for you to eat healthy and nutritious meals when you’re busy. There is of course the time issue – just not enough time in the day for shopping, preparation, and cooking. This means that you’re often eating ready-made meals, which are high in fat, salt and sugar content. Then there is the fact that very often, you’ll eat out more often, especially at fast food restaurants. This of course means eating foods high in fat and calories and lacking in the nutrients the body needs.

In these situations, it’s still possible for you to eat healthier. Eating healthy will actually make a person more productive at his work. So, healthy eating habits should be considered to part of a person's work schedule.

What are 5 ways that busy people can eat healthier?



Always have breakfast. 

This is often the most skipped meal in the day, but it’s the most important meal. Skipping breakfast can lead to weight problems and diabetes.

What constitutes a great, healthy breakfast? Foods rich in fiber. Fiber rich foods make the feeling for being full last much longer, therefore reducing the tendency to snack. Some foods to eat include whole grain oatmeal, whole grain cereal, fruits, and vegetables.

Protein from eggs is also a great way to nourish the body in the morning.

Foods with high sugar content and low fiber (donuts and pastries) should be avoided.

Plan ahead. 

As a busy person, you’ll be used to planning in advance to get things done. You would never think about going into an important meeting without planning. Eating healthy requires the same planning. When should this be done? Of course, everyone's schedule is different, but it should be possible to use some time in the week to plan for meals.

Weekends could be good days to use some time to prepare and plan meals. Remember to also plan your snacks, and make sure that you have healthy options. For this, plastic containers are a must.

If possible, try to shop for groceries online and have them delivered to your home or workplace. This saves a lot of time shopping. Of course, any shopping has to take into consideration healthy foods. Choose whole grains, fresh produce, and lean fresh meats.

Even the busiest people can take advantage of the many markets that sell prepared baked chicken, to save cooking time and have a source of healthy protein on hand.

Keep hydrated. 

A healthy body requires fluid. Make sure that you have plenty of water with you. Drink water frequently during the day. Don't overdo the coffee intake. Avoid sugary drinks like soda and remember that fruit juices are often high in sugars and low in fiber.

Eat healthily at restaurants. 

When at restaurants choose the healthy options. Many menus now have the calorie total for each meal and this can be a good guide. If there are no calorie guides then stick to this rule of thumb: meats should be grilled, potatoes boiled or mashed and vegetables steamed. Soups are good for entrees and for deserts choose fruits.

Be careful with alcohol. 

Many use alcohol to wind down after work and it is tempting to join with work colleagues after work. While an occasional glass of wine won't do any harm (and some studies even show that there are health benefits), you need to remember that alcohol is just empty calories. The over consumption of alcohol can also have a negative impact on health in general.

Even though you have a very hectic schedule, it doesn't mean that your health must suffer. The 5 tips for a healthier lifestyle here are very easy to implement. It just takes a bit of forethought and planning. Taking care of your health will result in a more productive day's work and a longer life!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Paka Baking Mix Review


I received these two boxes of Paka Baking Mix from Silver Fern Brand for free in exchange for my honest review.  I only expected to be sent the lemon bars mix so I was pleasantly surprised to see the blueberry muffins as well!

Silver Fern Brand currently has a baker's dozen of Paka Baking Mixes that are good for healthier breakfasts or desserts.  All the mixes are lower in sugar (therefore carbs) and calories as well as higher in protein and fiber content.  All but the pancakes are gluten free. Silver Fern Brand created their own proprietary sweetener called Kakato that includes an added boost of dietary fibers and probiotics. Other key ingredients are whey protein isolate, oat bran, whole algal flour, acacia gum, and flaxseed meal.  Pricing of these is about the same as what you see in the store for other gluten free baking mixes.

FREE Shipping on orders of $35 or more

Sunday I made both mixes so I could bring them with us to DC this weekend.  I want to have some healthy snacks for the road and evenings.

I started with the Lemon Bars.  I've eaten lemon bars before but never made them (as far as I can remember).  The crust was pretty easy to whip up and I didn't even have to mix it up as long as the instructions said.  I popped the crust into the oven and worked on the filling.  (To me the filling is something on the inside so I found it odd that's what it was called.  Searching recipes online I see some others calling this a topping instead.  Neither name seems fitting but I don't know what other name would work better.)

Once the bars were baking I started on the Blueberry Muffins.  My silicone muffin pan must be a little small because the box says that this mix makes 12 muffins.  I emptied the rest into one of the pans I normally use for banana bread so it wouldn't go to waste.  Austin laughed at me because I'd forgotten to keep the same bowl to use for both mixes, resulting in needing a second pair of hands (his) to scrape the glass bowl.

I don't know what it is about me and baking desserts (other than Austin's birthday cakes) but I seem to burn the bottoms every time.  Whether I've used a spray or a liner it still happens.  I embrace the suck (I can't remember where I heard this phrase but it seems fitting) with my baking skills and still enjoy what I prepare.  Austin wouldn't try any.  I think Benny was only eating them because they were there.  It must be an opposites attract type situation because he prefers the lemon bars and I prefer the blueberry muffins (and I'm not much of a blueberry fan).

It's been a while since I had lemon bars before so I don't have anything to compare but they didn't have an overpowering lemony taste.  Silver Fern Brand's Lemon Bars do have a cheesecake like flavor.  I cheated a bit and used lemon juice from a bottle instead of a fresh one so I'm not sure if that changed anything.  I mixed the lemon bar crust and filling by hand with a spatula and whisk.  The Blueberry Muffins didn't turn out light as shown on the box because I used the blender, therefore squishing some blueberries in the process.


What flavor(s) of the Paka Baking Mixes would you try first?

If your baking skills are worse than than mine or just want other dessert options, Silver Fern Brand also has chocolates and popcorn available that are boosted with fiber and probiotics.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yoga vs. Pilates


While both yoga and Pilates take an integrated mind-body approach to fitness and well-being, their origins, approach to these objectives and methods differ greatly.

The emergence of mind-body classes like PiYo and Yogilates can make it difficult for people to distinguish between the two. Although the two can be pursued as complementary activities or integrated into one style, like PiYo, they are not the same.

It can be beneficial to practice each independent of the other and which one you practice depends on what you want to achieve.

The Origins


Yoga

Yoga is a spiritual practice with a physical aspect. It evolved in India 3,000 to 5, 000 years ago. Yogis, people who practice yoga, use breath work (pranayama), physical poses (asanas), meditation (dhyana) and personal practices to pursue the full integration of mind, body and spirit or samadhi. Samadhi refers to attaining the state of enlightenment, bliss, or union with the divine.

Pilates

Pilates emerged in the late 1900s, introduced to the world by its namesake, Joseph Pilates. Pilates developed his method as part of his efforts to heal himself. He suffered from physical weaknesses, rheumatic fever, asthma, and rickets, during his childhood. In his efforts to cure himself, he studied Eastern and Western forms of exercise, Greek and Roman exercise practices like wrestling, gymnastics and calisthenics as well as yoga.



How Yoga & Pilates Differ


In general, Western yoga practitioners are most familiar with the physical postures of yoga. Asanas, are only one component of an extensive system of philosophy, spiritual practices, and science. The poses are intended to build strength in the body and encourage mental focus. The asanas develop and strengthen every part of the body, joints, muscles, organs, glands, bones, and metabolism.

During yoga, the breathing is deep and continuous linked to each movement and asana throughout the practice. Yoga’s extensive and currently exponential growth in popularity in Europe, the United States, and Canada supports the development of a broad range of yoga asana styles, including the more popular styles:
  • Ashtanga
  • Vinyasa
  • Anusara
  • Hot Yoga
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Restorative
  • Chair Yoga
  •  Bikram

How Pilates Differs

 

Pilates differs from yoga in several ways. Both yoga and Pilates focus on integrating the mind and body, but Pilates does not include any spiritual pursuits. It does generally increase practitioners’ sense of well-being, but this is not its primary purpose.

Pilates also takes a less organic approach to movement. All Pilates exercises extend from the body’s core, also called the powerhouse. The powerhouse spans the center of the body from the pelvic floor to the top of the shoulders.

Pilates practitioners focus on stabilizing the powerhouse and allowing other limbs to move freely to guide the body through the Pilates regimen of movements. Pilates also incorporates the use of exercise machines to offer support and take muscles through their full range of motion with optimal levels of extension and contraction.

During Pilates, the breath is coordinated with the execution of each exercise. The primary focus of each move in Pilates is perfect execution, versus repetition of any particular move.


The Mindfulness Element of Yoga

Overall, yoga offers more than 60 different health benefits for mind, body, and soul. It reaches into every aspect on one’s life and goes way beyond fitness and physical achievement. For example, the mindfulness approach taught in yoga that is not a part of Pilates helps one to improve many elements of life, including weight loss, where you're getting in touch with the true needs of the body, such as hunger helps to reduce incidence of emotional eating or eating for any other reason but hunger.

The mindfulness aspect of yoga can be viewed as “life skills” training. In addition, this training can help deter many emotional and mental health problems, and the associated physical manifestations that result from them. Mindfulness during yoga brings calm and peace to your mind, body, and life. Through the process, you become more in touch with how you really feel, and that includes symptoms of stress. Such a heightened state of awareness allows you to better manage the triggers and affects that stress can have, thereby allowing you to avoid its serious health complications.

Many scientific studies have demonstrated the practice of mindfulness to have impressive and wide reaching benefits, including:
  • Greater sense of well-being
  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  •  Better mood
  • Reducing risks for depression
  • Better immunity
  • Better social relationships
  • Improved cognition, memory and focus
  • Improved awareness of oneself
  • Improved ability to make decisions
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduction in chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure and reduction in risk for heart disease
  • More enjoyment of life in general
  • Overall improvement in quality of life



So Why Choose?


While yoga and Pilates provide similar benefits, a strong and toned body, endurance and a sense of well-being, their end goals differ. Pilates focuses on strengthening and rehabilitating the body for optimal physical health; the mind or will is employed to achieve this goal. Yoga's physical postures and breath exercises strengthen the body and discipline the mind in preparation for meditation and spiritual evolution.

In short, Pilates is outwardly focused and yoga is inwardly focused.

Making the choice between doing Pilates and practicing yoga comes down to one of intentions. If the intention is simply to form a strong and balanced body, Pilates will serve. If the intention is to achieve a strong and balanced physical body while gaining mental and spiritual benefits, pursue yoga. If both outcomes seem like something you would like to experience, try them both and see which one you find most accessible and beneficial. It just may turn out that you are not willing to let either one go.

Do you prefer yoga or Pilates?  What's your favorite style of yoga?