Sunday, February 15, 2015

One swap a day can keep you healthier and LIVE LONGER !

When you think of keeping your body healthy, there's a lot more to it than eating right and working out. Sometimes people forget about the simple things that can improve your health and well-being or at lease keep you healthier than before !

So what are some of the most important things you can do to remain healthy, vibrant and happy?? Here is a fun list of some serious and not so serious things that maybe you didn't think about when it comes to your health !

Stop drinking your calories !! Sure that mocha latte cappuccino is AMAZING but it contains on average 300-500 calories! That's a small meal of healthy foods comparable to 4 ounces of chicken, 1/2 cup veggies, and 1/2 cup sweet potatoes ! If I had to choose I would rather choose food over a drink that will leave me on a sugar high then drop to a nice low only to leave me hungry !!!

What do you do when your contact falls out ?? Many of us don't carry around contact solution ( at least I can speak for myself.. I don't) but the worst thing you can do is stick it in your mouth !!! If you put it on your tongue or even rinse it under the tap, you slather on germs that are then absorbed into the plastic. Which you then stick directly onto your eyeball. Not the best thing for a delicate part of your body !!! Do yourself and your precious eyes a favor and carry solution with you just in case of an emergency !!

When you are at the doctors for the first time they make you fill out a lengthy form that consists of a lot of health related questions that are usually not even about YOU! Know your family history and be able to fill in the questions accurately. It is a lot easier for you when you see a question and don't have to guess and it will help your doctor identify potential health risks that might arise in the future along with preventative measures to keep you safe !

Keep your body feeling its best by avoiding processed foods such as lunch meat, bologna, and sausage. Processed meats are full of fats and salts, thus retaining water. Not to mention they contain nitrates which have been linked to several types of cancer. Same thing goes for those "flashy" labels that claim sugar free, low fat, or all natural. You need to dig into the nutritional label to really see what they are using. Chances are they are replacing the sugar with something that is equally as harmful to your body! Eating foods claimed to be sugar free sounds great but what you are really doing is sending a message that tricks your body into thinking it's about to get a rush of caloric energy, but when it doesn't arrive, you crave even more food.

Here are some great ideas for the early morning routine that will save you time and stress !!!

-Floss your teeth. Brushing is great but get into the habit of flossing since brushing alone misses 30% of the surface of your teeth.
-Use a mouth wash to prevent and reduce gingivitis.
-Eat a solid breakfast full of protein, carbohydrates and fats to keep your body fueled for the day.
-Use an SPF sunscreen every time you go outside. Not only will it cut down on your cancer risk but it will prevent premature wrinkles and sun spots.
-Wake up and stretch! Practicing stretching or yoga fights extra poundage by supporting endocrine and thyroid function as well as by lowering cortisol, a stress hormone that promotes weight gain around your middle.

Don't forget that you need a nightly routine to wind down for the day and reset your body for the next day ahead !

-Follow the brush, floss, and swish routine you did in the morning !!
-Turn off the TV, laptop and phone at least an hour before bet.The glowing screens emit a blue light that keeps you up by suppressing melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body clock.
-Try to drink a calming tea before bed to relax or take a bubble bath !
-Set your coffee pot for the next morning so all you need to do in your sleep walkish slumber is push the button to make fresh coffee to wake you up and start the day!

And for my little rendition of do this not that !!
-Eat wet snacks not dry ones!
Water-rich, fiber-packed foods like fresh fruit, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, corn on the cob, broth-based soup, or baked potatoes pack fewer calories into bigger servings so you feel full on less. On the flip side, dry foods like chips, crackers, candy, bagels, pretzels, and granola bars cram lots of calories into small servings.

-Make your salad with romaine lettuce not iceberg. It may not provide the same satisfying crunch, but the darker leafy green has twice the fiber, B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, and potassium and seven times the vitamins A and C of iceberg.

-Use regular, not antibacterial, soap. Regular soap and water kills just as many germs as harmful antibacterial soaps. Some scientists argue that using too many antibacterial cleansers may tamper with the effectiveness of some antibiotics not to mention strip your hands of oils that are protection from diseases and germs.

-Put down the cancer sticks !!! I shouldn't have to say this but it ups your cancer risk ! Women who smoke slash 14 years off their lives not to mention it causes wrinkles, makes you smell bad and costs a lot of money !

-Exercise daily !!!! A mere 30 minutes of moderate activity could be the difference to save years on your life !

I hope that you enjoyed some of these little tidbits of information that can help you live a happy healthier life !!! Go on and enjoy the day ! Embrace Friday with arms wide open and think of these tips as the day goes on and swap out some of your decisions for healthier options !!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

To detox or not to detox that is the question ?

Now that the holiday's are officially OVER, there are no more excuses as to WHY you shouldn't be in a good habit of healthy eating. Too many people start to hit the panic button and they want to see results NOW and forget it didn't take one day to get there and its not going to take one day to get it off. That last pesky 5-10 pounds can be the hardest to lose. Why you might ask? This is due to your bodies set point or the place where it feels optimal and happy. Usually that can be about the last few pounds. Lately I have had a lot of people ask me about doing a detox. Lets face it, walk through a pharmacy or an aisle with vitamins and supplements and you’ll notice plenty of “kits” for detoxing and jump starting your health and fitness regimen. They are everywhere!!!

They are tempting ! Lose 7 pounds in 3 days...who isn’t tempted by the promises of quick, drastic, noticeable results? Who would rather lose 15 pounds in a couple of months than in only a couple short weeks?

I will be the first to tell you NOT to fall into this trap and here is why !

They will not really work as advertised
-A cleanse or detox is not some miracle that will flush out toxins from your body and instantly skyrocket your health. Nutrition and health is about the big picture. What you do for five or seven days out of the year is pretty inconsequential.Rather than worry about ‘detoxing,’ you should be more concerned on the daily thinking about eating nutritious, health-promoting foods. Think leafy greens, beans, whole fruit, nuts, and seeds. The idea that six months of unhealthy eating can somehow be remedied by drinking nothing but green juice for 72 hours is quite ridiculous.

You’ll regain any weight lost once you return to normal eating habits
-Initially you will lose weight and inches. This is mostly water and nothing too significant, but as soon as you return back to normal eating habits, you’ll regain all that weight back.Losing weight only to keep it off for a very short period of time is not a success in weight loss. It is a temporary fix for a long term issue that needs a lifestyle change!

WARNING! You may feel like a H.A.M. (hot ass mess).
-Yes I said that ! Think of HANGRY at the next level for a few days up to a week !!! NOT FUN ! Oh and try to focus on ANYTHING ! You better be locked up all week you plan to detox because you will offend everyone with your attitude and not even realize it ! Most cleanses are very low-calorie, so you’ll likely experience very low energy levels. And you can’t become the strongest, most awesome version of yourself when you feel like a H.A.M..

Cleanses and detoxes usually don’t set you up for long-term success
-So what's the point ? So you lose a few pounds in a few days, feel GREAT about yourself ... go out and celebrate and whooppss !!! Don't even dare check the scale ! You will only have the feeling of defeat and regret so is this worth it ?? You are better off taking the harder route of clean eating, exercising consistently and letting your body let go of the weight that it WANTS to let go of ! Embrace yourself and love the body you have don't abuse it !

A detox can create or exacerbate obsessive eating habits
-Many detoxes and cleanses are an “all or nothing” approach and very strict in what you can actually consume. Think about what they really allow you to consume, water based vegetables, water, and maybe some protein ? That increases the risk of people becoming obsessive about the foods they are eating or may lead to restriction and binge eating behaviors.

BUT doing something longer, more sustainable like a 30 day challenge CAN jump start your mindset and body ! All it takes is 21 days to create a habit!

Here are some 30 days challenges you may consider:

-Be physically active every day. You don’t need to do anything crazy just do something every day for 30 days. For example strength train twice per week and then go for a walk for 10-30 minutes on the days you don’t strength train. Engage in a fun physical activity. It doesn’t matter what you do just do something active every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

-Eat fruits and veggies every day. Eating fruits and veggies every day is the best way to naturally detox in a healthy way and get a ton of vitamins and minerals into your body.You can start simple by including a piece of fruit with breakfast and a veggie at lunch. Add fruits to protein smoothies with some spinach or kale and you have a great breakfast idea and already a serving of each for the day.

Last but most important, create goals that keep the 3 S's in mind:
-Sane
-Simple
-Sustainable

You can’t achieve your goals with grueling, overly time-consuming workout routines and crazy diets or detoxes can you ? Be smart and don't try anything that will take 3 days to do. You body is a machine not a garbage can for any crazy solution the media tries to portray !

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Paleo Diet !

Ever hear about the Paleo Diet ?? I am sure you have developed an opinion around it already !!! Did you ever really dig into the premise of it enough to understand what it really consists of? I first off want to say that I will never suggest you to do a "diet". When people hear this term, you automatically assume it is some form of restriction, however I want you to start associating diet with lifestyle eating. This way it makes a healthy correlation between food, healthy living, and lifestyle changes.

So lets start off with what paleo is: Paleo, short for paleolithic, is an term use to describe dietary and fitness guidelines that are developed based on theories of human evolution or how our ancestors functioned. It also goes by names like Caveman Diet, Stone Age Diet, Evolutionary Fitness, Primal Blueprint, and Ancestral Health.

There are many variations of this way of living. People practicing the Paleo life agree on a few key principles:

-Eat foods that can be picked or hunted in nature
-Stick to foods that can be eaten raw
-Choose meat products from animals fed their natural food .
-Avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined seed and vegetable oils as these are not available in nature, and only become available after heavy industrial processing.
-Avoid grains (particularly wheat), legumes (particularly soy), and starchy tubers (such as potatoes) as these foods cannot be eaten raw.
-Prefer grass-fed and grass-finished beef over grain-fed beef.
-Prefer pasture-raised poultry over conventionally raised poultry.
-Use natural fats like coconut oils, avocado oils, and olive oil.

By eating foods in the most natural state, your body will learn to love the taste of fresh, all natural, wholesome products. This will start to transform your body from the inside out. Your body can begin to repair and heal inflammation naturally and eating healthy foods has a significant impact on your weight. Here are some other great health benefits of eating primarily Paleo:

-Reduction of body fat percentage and increase in muscle mass with no change in exercise.
-Reduction of fasting blood glucose levels, in some cases allowing for the elimination of diabetes medication.
-Reduction in triglyceride levels and increase in HDL levels, in some cases allowing for the elimination of cholesterol medication.
-Reduction in blood pressure, in some cases allowing for the elimination of blood pressure medication.

As you know many of the above factors are directly correlated with chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

The Paleo lifestyle is not just about how you eat, it's also about how you move. Paleo lifestyle raises your consciousness about what you put into your body, it may also draw attention to other aspects of your life, including your stress levels, how often you go outside, and how you choose to spend your free time.

Exercise improves your immune system, lowers your risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and stroke, promotes heart health, and increases longevity, and even more importantly, it keeps your body strong. Exercise will strengthen your immune system functioning even as you age, so you can still enjoy your life as you get old but keeping you from developing chronic health issues.

Getting regular exercise also improves your quality of life by reducing stress, preventing depression, improving memory, and helping you sleep better. Of course, let’s not forget about the fact that exercise is a great tool to develop a good looking, lean and muscular body.

The Paleo lifestyle emphasizes natural movement preferably outside in nature as compared to being in a gym. When you think of natural movement think of things like manipulative (moving objects around), combative (self-defense), and locomotive (moving yourself from place to place). Along with natural movements you want to add in brief but intense strength training workouts, think HIIT WOD that I post everyday in exchange for extended sessions of steady-state cardio.

Chronic steady state cardio keeps you in a constant “fight or flight” mode. This increasing cortisol levels, inflammation, and damage to your cells from free radicals. On top of the increased stress from the exercise itself, the high-carb diet required to sustain chronic cardio harms your body in the long term by raising your insulin levels.

Along with working out Paleo exercise programs emphasis the importance of rest and recovery time. Your workouts should leave you strong and energized, not constantly sore and exhausted. Your exercise should never feel like a cruel form of torture you have to force yourself through. Fitness is important, but it should support your body, not dominate your life.Paleo exercise has the same basic goal: to improve your health by working with your body, not against it.

I hope this information might help you discover that living closer to the way our ancestors lived might increase our own lives. You never know until you try. What do you have to lose besides a few pounds, aches and pains and chronic illness ??

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sitting vs. Standing

With our lives becoming more sedentary, having 9-5 jobs requiring the majority of the population to sit for an extended period of time without really getting up. This goes hand and hand with the posture article I wrote last week. Sitting does a lot to the body and metabolism. It causes you to hunch, lose abdominal stability, creates digestion/breathing problems, and not to mention that when you sit your body slows your metabolic rate down because muscles are not being used. Naturally we as humans need to move more. But, there is the opposite research done for people who stand too much. Just like sitting jobs are detrimental to your well-being, standing all the time may have similar effects.

I found this topic very interesting. According to the CDC, Americans are directed to move for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. However, 30-60 minutes is highly recommended. This doesn't really sound like a whole lot considering they use walking to your car, up the stairs, and for a casual walk part of that 30 minutes to be active. Unfortunately, many Americans do not even reach the 30 minute mark daily.

Let's look at the differences between sitting and standing on a daily basis and what it does to your health.

Sitters

-People who sit for more than 4 hours per day are considered to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Even 1 hour of extended sitting causes the blood to collect in your legs.

Sitting uses less energy than standing and it helps to stabilize the body. So when you need to perform fine motor tasks like driving, computer work, creating detailed drawings or fine micro-surgery sitting is advised so your energy is directed towards that task.

A sedentary lifestyle or sitting for more than 4 hours can cause a lot of problems in your body. First off it changes the biochemical process in lipase activity (an enzyme involved in fat metabolism) and in glucose metabolism that leads to the deposit of fats in adipose tissue. Extensive sitting also relates to heart disease risks, so people are advocating standing while at work because it uses more muscle activity and burns about 20% more calories on average than sitting. Sitting too much leads to neck stiffness especially if you are hunched over a computer all day. It is very difficult to realize that your posture is suffering if you are not making yourself cognitively aware of it. Sitting too long can lead to muscle loss and restless legs from the collection of blood in the lower extremities. Rounding your back causes extra stress to be put on your lower back which leads to pain all over your body.

There are many risks associated with sitting too long such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Premature death is also associated with a sedentary lifestyle which can cut off 3 or more years of your life!

Standing is not the go to answer either. People who stand for more than 4 hours a day is also considered unhealthy.Standing requires 20% more energy than sitting which puts greater strain on the circulatory system and on the legs and feet. Prolonged standing at work also increases the risks of varicose veins. The performance of many fine motor skills also is less good when people stand rather than sit. Standing for too long has similar effects just like sitting. Standing for an extended period of time can cause neck pain, lower back pain, pronation of the feet, heel spurs and plantar fascitis. Standing also affects your ability to complete fine motor skills because your body is using the energy to keep your body from falling over. Standing too long can cause major issues with pumping blood around the body, this is called chronic venous insufficiency.

So what is better?? Sitting, standing or both?? According to research, a combination of the two is the best for overall health. But due to jobs and conditions when working, standing or sitting may not be an option.

If you are a sitter:
-Check your posture
-Walk on your lunch break, to get copies, to deliver a message or to just get up every 30-45 minutes.
-Ask for a convertible desk that can be used in both a sitting and standing position.
-Use a fitness application to track your movement throughout the day.

If you stand:
-Learn how to stretch with a purpose to correct posture and relieve stress.
-Make sure to wear insoles that help your posture and provide cushioning. You need to find insoles that fit your activity needs both in the gym and work.
-Consider taking breaks every few hours to rest your legs.

Overall, your health takes precedence over everything. You need to make smart decisions that lead to your best performance overall. There is nothing worse than having a stiff neck or back pain from hunching over a computer to do work or to be standing all day and have sore legs. Treat your body like the temple it is !!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

All fatigue is not the same !

How can you tell when your body is at an overload point? Sometimes if you take the time to listen to your body, you will become in tune with what is going on and realize potential warning signs that your body is in distress. I am going to talk about a very serious issue that causes an overload on your body. This serious issue is adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is considered extreme fatigue caused in people who are under mental, emotional, or physical stress but it is not a proven medical condition.

You may not even know the importance of your adrenal glands or why they cause havoc on your body. Your adrenal glands are responsible for many functions we need to stay alive and healthy. They control things like fluid and electrolyte balance, fat storage in your body, and the conversion of fats, carbohydrates, and protein to blood glucose for energy. Those are some very important components that your body utilizes to function properly.

One of the hormones that can be affected during adrenal fatigue is cortisol “the stress hormone”. Cortisol influences, regulates, or modulates many changes that occur in our bodies such as blood sugars levels, fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism, immune responses (your immune system), anti-inflammatory actions in our bodies, blood pressure, heart and blood vessel contraction, and our central nervous system (CNS).

A quick breakdown of cortisol and what your body does with this hormone:
-Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland
-It’s controlled by the hypothalamus
-It’s activated during times of stress (among other processes)

Cortisol does have its benefits, but elevated levels need to be controlled. When cortisol remains elevated for longer durations (i.e. lengthy workouts) it leads to muscle wasting. Your body should NOT be at peak levels all the time. Cortisol is released during times of stress to protect the body.When you are constantly stressed both mentally and physically, these levels stay elevated which directly affects your adrenal glands. Also prolonged workouts drain your body of energy and vital nutrients in which cortisol is released and inhibits the body’s release of fats to protect them for future energy use. Cortisol then attacks muscles for quick fuel which is why it needs to be regulated, especially around your workouts.

But how do you know if your affected by adrenal fatigue?? Here are some warning signs leading to adrenal fatigue. Common symptoms are as follows, severe cravings for salt or sugar, muscle weakness, high blood pressure or light headedness when you stand up.

Check your blood pressure while sitting down then again while standing if it is normal while sitting then high when you stand this could be a big red flag! Or evenly low blood pressure could be a sign, feeling wired but exhausted all the time, lack of stamina, feeling overwhelmed with a very short fuse, anxiety attacks, mental fog, fuzzy thinking, chronic racing thoughts and not being able to focus on tasks.

Another sign is not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Feelings like you can't turn your mind or body off is a red flag that something is not working efficiently.Causes of adrenal fatigue are usually excessive stress from our lifestyles.

If you pay attention to the warning signs you can actually heal our bodies naturally simply by finding ways to manage our stress (not doing over an hour or 45 minutes of cardio a day) and resting… TAKING DAYS OFF is key...

Try to stay away from stimulants, caffeine and energy drinks AT LEAST 6 hours before bed. Just because you are tired doesn't mean you need more stimulants it means you need REST. Also clean up your diet.Try supplementing with a good vitamin B for energy and a natural caffeine like a green tea. Make sure you are eating enough protein for your body (1.5 grams per body pound). Make dietary changes to eating only whole natural foods, stay away from sugars, alcohols, white flower and processed foods as they are not nutrient dense and have no nutritional value. Don’t treat your body like a garbage disposal!!

Set a normal bedtime routine and get to sleep around the same time each night. Take natural things to relax you like chamomile herbal tea, anything with passion flower in it or maybe another herbal tea, and melatonin.

Finding balance to create a less stressful situation will only lead you into a place of peace. Rid your life of negative things. That might be a habit or people but toxic elements only bring you down. Find positive. A positive mind leads to a positive body. Remember that all of our bodies are different and maybe you have tried things to help you feel better and it is not working.

Remember that it might not happen right away!! Your body needs time to heal after all the stress it has been under. Find time for YOU!!! Change your lifestyle, slow down, and listen to your body. You only have one body to take care of so make sure you treat it as such !!!