Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How Hormones Affect Your Energy and Weight


Are willpower and self-control the real solution to low energy and high weight?

Maybe not.  It might be your powerful hormones.

And we’re not just talking about sex hormones here; we’re talking about the hormones that directly affect your blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite. Things that control your energy and weight.

Let’s go over a few of the critical links between your hormones, and how they affect your energy and weight. The links may be stronger than you think.

What are hormones?


Having healthy, happy hormones is all around the “health waves” these days.

And for good reason! Your hormones are part of the master control system of your entire body.
Hormones are compounds made by one part of the body that are used to communicate with another part. For example, insulin is made in the pancreas. When your blood sugar gets too high, insulin is released into the bloodstream. Then, it goes to your muscles and other cells to tell them to absorb that sugar out of the blood (and if there is still too much blood sugar, it signals to store it as fat).

Your hormones control not only your blood sugar, but also your metabolism and appetite (plus a host of other things). And you probably know that having healthy blood sugar, metabolism and appetite is a foundation for your optimal energy and weight.

So, how can your hormones get out of whack to zap your energy and pile up the pounds?

Common Hormonal Imbalances


In optimal health, your hormones would work great, and you’d have ample energy and be a good healthy weight.

But often there are problems with this whole setup. One common issue is that there may be too much or too little hormone released to have the desired effect. This is known as hypo- or hyper- “hormone” (i.e. hypo- or hyperthyroidism).

Another common issue is that, even if the right amount of hormone is released, the cells they communicate with can start ignoring them. This is known as hormone “resistance” (i.e. insulin resistance).

As you can imagine, if your hormones have such critical jobs, including controlling blood sugar, metabolism and appetite, they can cause issues with your energy and weight.

Hormones & Energy


Your metabolism is key for controlling your energy. Metabolism itself is basically how much energy (calories) you burn. One of the main players of this is...you guessed it! Your thyroid hormones.

Your thyroid releases hormones that affect the metabolism of all the cells in your body. If it’s too low and your metabolism goes down (hypothyroid), you may feel cold, hungry and tired. If it’s too high and your metabolism is too fast (hyperthyroid), you may feel hot, jittery and lose weight.

What you want is an ideal metabolism, ideal energy use, ideal temperature, and an ideal weight. Your thyroid hormones are the master controller here.

Hormones & Weight


Your weight may be controlled by hormones more than you think! Insulin controls your blood sugar, and whether that sugar is going to be stored as fat or not. And when your blood sugar is too low, you may start craving sugar and carbs.

You also have hormones that control your appetite! How hungry and how full you feel are controlled by the hormones ghrelin & leptin. When those get out of whack, you may find yourself wanting to eat because your body thinks you’re hungry and not satisfied...even if that’s not true.

And craving food (especially sugary ones) and not feeling full are going to be huge drives for you to eat more. Even if your body doesn’t truly need it, the hormonal signals tell you that you do.
And don’t forget that stress hormone cortisol. When it’s too high for too long, it tells your body to store fat. And not just any fat - belly fat!

What You Can Do


Your body is very complex and uses hormones to control a substantial number of functions. They control your blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite, among others. And these directly affect how much energy you feel, how much you weigh, and even where your body fat is stored.


Here are a few “hormone stabilizing” tips that might help you with your energy and weight:
  • Get regular exercise to use up excess blood sugar before your insulin has your body store it as fat
  • Try stress-relieving activities like deep breathing, meditation or even coloring to reduce your (belly-fat inducing) cortisol
  • Support your thyroid with iodine-containing sea vegetables, fish, legumes, or even an egg
  • Balance your blood sugar with extra fiber from raspberries, avocados, or flax seeds
  • Reduce blood sugar spikes by replacing your juice or soda with fruit-infused water
If you need some support with your energy levels and/or weight, contact me (your wellness coach) for a free strategy session to see how I can help you.


REFERENCES

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fast-weight-loss-changes-hunger-hormones
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-thyroid
https://authoritynutrition.com/9-fixes-for-weight-hormones/

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

3 Effortless Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies Daily


Everywhere you turn wellness experts are telling you to eat more fruits and veggies.

You totally get it.

Yes, fruits and veggies are full, and I mean FULL, of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, etc.).

Yes, people who eat more fruits and veggies live longer, healthier lives, not to mention protect their bodies and minds from just about every chronic disease out there.

Yes, eating more veggies can help you maintain a healthy body weight, and even lose some fat (as long as you don’t bread and fry them, or cover them with cream sauce).

Your question is not
“Should I eat more fruits and vegetables?” 
but
“How can I actually do it?”

Believe me, as a Wellness Coach I’m chock full of amazing, creative and delicious ways to help you eat more fruits and veggies.

Before we dive in, always start from where you are. If you’re not used to any fruits or veggies (like I was), try for just two per day. Build up from there. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to overhaul your entire diet I one day. Wherever you’re at now, I challenge you to increase it by two per day.

Now, let’s dive into my 3 helpful ideas on exactly HOW to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet!



Sneak Fruits & Veggies into Other Dishes


OK, this one may be, shall we say, “sneaky,” but I’m all about your health, so hear me out.

Some dishes are super-easy to enhance with a bit of strategically placed produce. What do you think of these ideas?


  • Add ½ apple, a small handful of spinach, or extra berries into your smoothie.
  • Dice or shred up an extra bit of carrot, broccoli, zucchini or pepper into your soup.
  • Love sandwiches? Why not add an extra slice of tomato, lettuce or cucumber to it?
  • How about chicken, tuna, or salmon salad? Dice up a stalk of celery and throw it in.
  • Love to bake? How about substituting ¼ cup of the sugar for ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce?
  • Used to having a small salad? Why not try a larger one?
  • Making tomato sauce? Add in some extra mushrooms or peppers.


Make Fruits & Veggies Taste Delicious with a Meal



  • Steam some frozen corn and add a touch of olive oil and your favorite herb or spice.
  • Use veggies as your sandwich “bread” by making a lettuce wrap.
  • Don’t be afraid to spice them up! Try sautéing them for 10 minutes with a drizzle of oil and flavor them with pepper, garlic, ginger or cumin.


Opting for Fruits & Veggies as Snacks



  • Why not throw a banana, apple or a couple of clementines into your lunch bag?
  • Ditch the chips and dip - Instead try some carrot, celery, broccoli, cucumber or cauliflower with a dip like hummus, guacamole, or even your favorite salad dressing?
  • Love sweetened yogurt? Buy plain, and immerse it with fresh or frozen berries.


YOUR CHALLENGE


Take two of these suggestions and try them tomorrow. Just add two more fruits and veggies to the number you’re at today. Two more.

And if you’re not an instant fan, well, try again. Research shows that sometimes it takes our taste buds several tries before actually beginning to like a new flavor. Try it; you might just find some new faves.

You can do it!


Let me know your favorite ideas in the comments below.

REFERENCES


http://www.precisionnutrition.com/dont-like-vegetables
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-fruits-vegetables



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Get Unstuck for Mother’s Day


This is for you, Moms.  In fact, whether you are a mom or not, this is for all the women out there who feel trapped in a cycle of, “One day, I am going to eat healthy, lose weight and really take care of myself.”

It’s time to get unstuck, and I'm here to help.


I know that it is hard to find time to focus on you.  And when you finally do take some time for yourself, you probably have a vague sense of guilt that there are other things more worthy of whatever effort or sacrifice you are making to work on you.

That’s part of being a mom.  You put others first.

But consider this.  Neglecting yourself is not good for you or those people who depend on you. The only way you can keep attending to your many responsibilities and joys is if your health is optimal. Once your health starts declining, you will have no choice but to focus on yourself.

Wouldn’t you rather do it now and know what it feels like to be fit and full of energy and still be there for those people who depend on you?


It’s hard to start


Yes, starting is hard.  In fact, it is probably the hardest part.

It may be hard because you’ve ‘started’ before and failed.  That doesn’t matter anymore.  You are not doing it alone this time.  I'm here to walk with you every step of the way.  We’re looking forward, not backward.



It may be hard because you have no idea where you will find the time to exercise.  I’ll help you with that too.  That’s what I do.


It may be hard because changing life-long patterns of eating seems completely undesirable right now.  I’ve been there.  And believe me; if some of us can do it, you can too.  The amazing thing is that once you get a taste of the energy and vitality that eating well brings, you won’t look back.


Waiting is dangerous


Listen.  The longer you wait to take your health seriously, the more damage you are doing to your body.

There is only one way to slow down, stop and reverse many of the effects of aging (whether you are 20 or 70 years old):  sensible eating and consistent exercise.  (Well, that’s two, but they have to happen together.)

  • Do you want to avoid the ravages of heart disease (the number one killer of women)?
  • Would you like to never experience the pain of a fractured, osteoporotic bone?
  • Do lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your knees and reducing aches and pains sound attractive to you?
  • Would you like to run a marathon (even if you’re 60!)?



It’s Yours


You’ve dreamed about it long enough.


Make this Mother’s Day the beginning of a new chapter in your life.  Thousands of women just like you are doing it.  And I want to help you do it.

Be strong, vibrant, fit and full of energy.


It’s time to start.  Apply today for your FREE Wellness Strategy Session. I’ll get you unstuck and feeling better than you ever have.





Monday, May 8, 2017

3 Fruits That Can Help With Weight Loss


When you start a weight loss journey, one of the first things you will probably do is look to your diet and make changes. When you do this, you may think of removing foods, but you may overlook the importance of adding certain foods. There are certain fruits that can help you drop weight and reach the goals you have a little faster. The major benefit of adding many of these fruits is the ability to have as much of them as you would like without taking on too many unnecessary or empty calories.

Watermelon


Watermelon is a go to for weight loss. There are a few reasons why. The first is the hydration benefit of the fruit. It is over 90 percent water. This means that you are keeping yourself hydrated while delivering the second benefit that watermelon has to offer to your body, amino acids. This combination comes in at less than 40 calories per serving. This means you are getting nutrients, vitamins, hydration, and a filling bowl of fruit at very little cost to your weight. In fact, you are releasing the hydration into your body which helps move toxins out. This means that the toxins are no longer stored and neither are any blocks that may be preventing you from dropping weight.


Apples


It may surprise you to find out that apples can help you drop unwanted weight. Apples also do have a high content of water and can be a good hydration option. Apples also help boost your metabolism and help to regulate your hormones and your blood sugar. Therefore, it is used as part of a cinnamon and apple infused water for people who are trying to drop weight quickly. Apples can be added to juices as well as to water infusions. They are also available in most areas year-round.



Bananas


If you are looking for a fruit that helps you drop weight, but can also give you a post workout energy boost then your answer is bananas. They pack energy into just a bit over 100 calories. They are quick to eat, easy to carry with you, and they can also help with inflammation. Inflammation can prevent you from dropping weight since it can retain water and can cause pain in the joints and blockages in your system, especially your digestive tract. Keep that in mind when you grab your next banana for a post workout boost.



These are only three of the fruits that can help you with weight loss and how they can help. You can also consider superfoods mixed with these fruits, having these fruits as juices, and keeping some dried fruits on hand as well. This will help give you quick on the go snacks and ensure you are getting as many fruits as you can during the day.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

TNT Pro Series Review


I received this package from TNT Pro Series for free in exchange for my honest review.  Included were the Waist Trimmer Belt, Upper Arm & Thigh Slimmer Kit, Exercise Loop Bands, and the Exercise Stretch Bands with Door Anchor.  I haven't tried out the Exercise Loop Bands yet.




The Waist Trimmer was easy to put on myself.  I struggled a little with getting the Thigh Slimmers in just the right place.  The Upper Arm Slimmers Austin had to put on me...there was no way that I could hold one side of the strap with one hand or my chin and affix the opposite side with the other hand.


You can definitely feel the sweat building up under the trimmer and slimmers.  Wearing them all day potentially leads to you sweating more (depending upon your unique sweat gland makeup).  However, the excess sweat doesn't lead to permanent weight loss as it's just water weight that's lost; it returns when you hydrate.  So I can't say that the TNT Pro Series' Waist Trimmer or Upper Arm & Thigh Slimmer Kit will directly help you lose weight but they can help you to release more toxins from sweating.  Also I'm not sure how long you have to wear the trimmer and slimmer to have a chance to see any results.


Of course my body decides to be weird while I'm trying these out.  The second time I wore the Thigh Slimmer, the front of my thighs were red at the spots where the slimmer ends overlap.  The next morning one of those spots had blistered.  Had this happened on the inner thighs this would've made more sense to me (like chafing when your legs rub together).  I asked the rep if anyone had reported anything like this before.  Again, I'm the first with my body doing something weird.



I have been using the red (heavy) Exercise Stretch Band with Door Anchor instead of a resistance band during my workouts for the exercise I do instead of a pullup.  I've come to realize that I prefer to use a stretch band because you don't have the connection pieces (that attach to the handles) flapping around and hitting your or whatever else is close enough.  When the Exercise Stretch Band flaps around it's not making a nuisance of itself when it hits something.  If you're drawing a blank on what to do with TNT Pro Series' Exercise Stretch Bands, there are pictures of some exercises on the bands themselves.



I plan to continue to wear the TNT Pro Series Waist Trimmer and Thigh Slimmers.  Hopefully my body won't be weird with them again.  I will incorporate the Exercise Loop Bands and the Exercise Stretch Bands with Door Anchor into my workouts.

Have you tried any slimmers or trimmers?

Do you prefer a flat or round band for your strength training?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Emotional Eating: A Prime Ingredient for Obesity


"Suzie" found her weight ballooning 60 pounds after her separation from her husband.  While part of the weight gain was apparently tied to the medication she was taking, the rest appeared to be the result of what can be described as emotional eating.  In recent years, greater attention has been focused on the problem of emotional eating for both women and men.  In fact, some experts have gone so far as to claim that most weight gain can be blamed on emotional eating.  According to Women Today magazine, it has been estimated that as much as 75 percent of overeating is attributed to the emotions.

For a number of people, overeating stems from anxiety.  For instance, if you find yourself consuming an entire bag of potato chips, it’s possible that anxiety is the cause.  While many people realize that alcohol and illegal drugs are not an antidote to anxiety, they may not understand that indulging in comfort food in order to combat anxiety can be dangerous as well.

In other cases, overeating may be the result of depression.  If you feel tired, hopeless, and have lost interest in your normal activities, you may be suffering from a depressive episode.  In order to deal with these uncomfortable feelings, people may turn to food in an effort to cheer up.  The problem is that the food can lead to weight gain, which can lead to further depression.

At times, overeating may be a symptom of boredom.  An individual may figure that he or she has nothing better to do than overeat.  This can be particularly true when one is watching television or surfing the Internet.  Rather than trying to determine a cause for the boredom, an individual may just try to “fix” it by indulging in high-fat, high-calorie food.



How do you know if you are an emotional eater?  Ask yourself some key questions:

  • Do I tend to eat when I’m worried?  Scared?  Sad?
  • Do I find that eating lifts my spirits?
  • Am I spending more time eating than engaging in other activities I enjoy?
  • Do my binges come after I’ve suffered disappointment?
  • Am I turning to food in order to deal with the death of a loved one…a divorce…or the defeat of my favorite team?
If the answers to any of these questions is “yes,” you may be overeating purely for emotional reasons.

After you’ve identified yourself as an emotional eater, you’ll need to take steps to correct your behavior.  Perhaps the most effective technique is diversion.  In other words, if you find yourself reaching for the cookie jar, find another activity to engage in.  The answer could be taking a walk, kickboxing, or dancing.  Or it could be something less physically demanding, such as needlepoint or crochet.  The idea is to get your hands…and perhaps the rest of your body…moving.  In time, you might find the urge to overeat subsides as you become involved with other activities.

Another effective step you can take is to identify the triggers for your emotional eating.  Do you tend to binge in mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or right before bedtime?  Are you snacking while watching television, while at the computer, or when you’re sitting in your favorite chair?  By asking yourself these questions, you can identify the time of day when you overeat, as well as the location for your binging.  With this information, you can learn to re-direct your behavior to less fattening pursuits.

Yet another helpful technique is to develop a support network to help you combat overeating.  The members of your support team could include your spouse, children, parents, friends, or other over-eaters.  You may even consider joining a support group which specializes in helping those who engage in binge eating.  If you feel the need to overeat, contact a member of your support team.  Talking through your emotions could provide you with the emotional release you need, making overeating unnecessary.

If your anxiety or depression persists, consider seeing a psychotherapist.  He or she can help you develop more effective coping mechanisms.  If you find it difficult to talk to friends or family about your overeating, a psychotherapist can provide you with the talk therapy you need to overcome your problem.
           

May 15-26 I am hosting a free Emotional Eating Course in the Brand New Me Healthy Living Community on Facebook.  During these 10 days we will uncover the symptoms and consequences of emotional eating to reverse this possibly dangerous situation. This course will help you to identify the real reasons you're emotionally eating and how to change unhealthy comfort eating habits.

Hop on over to the Community, meet and hang out with the members before the course begins. I look forward to helping you break free from this cycle and find your brand new healthier self!

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.