I started this blog with a focus on holiday weight gain. However, as I dug into various studies, I noticed similarities between holiday (or vacation) weight gain and the “Freshman 15”  as root causes, along with the strategies to regain (& maintain) good health (and weight), are the same.

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I was also pleased to learn, according to an Ohio State University study, the average student only gains 2-3 lbs. his/her first year vs 15–which is good news, but I digress..! Whether it’s the extended holiday season (the morphing of Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas into New Year’s!), vacation, or the beginning of your college career, weight gain is often due to repeated choices that aren’t in your best interest. Choices like poor quality cafeteria food, a plethora of venues offering unhealthy eats, energy drink vending machines, along with the limited college budgets encouraging cheap fast & fried “food” or a vacation budget allowing rich foods. Because of hectic schedules and multiple opportunities to indulge, meals get skipped and food prep falls to a low priority (or not even possible) resulting in cheap and low quality processed foods that are nutritionally void while offering “value meal” calories. A Cornell study showed that 20% of weight gained by students was due to eating at “all you can eat” dining halls. Yikes. Haven’t we all patted ourselves on the back with that same “value meal/what a deal” thinking while on vacation?

Poor food choices contribute to weight gain while another root cause is stress. Stress causes a double whammy because it causes surges of insulin and cortisol which can keep your body from mobilizing fatty acids as fuel. At the same time, stress prevents our body from using sugar leading to weight gain and fat storage. For our students, they are in a new living environment complete with a new set of friends, a different bed and late nights….well, you get the picture.  Also, some folks deal with stress by…yep, you guessed it: eating.

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So we have poor food choices and stress…now let’s add alcohol to the mix. Not that either of my college kids would indulge (yeah right)!  With alcohol, we might as well add some “weighting” to the impact it can have on weight gain. Like junk food, it’s high in calories and low in nutrients. And, just one night of partying add a LOT of excess calories. But, add to that the hormonal impact of less testosterone and an increase in fat storage hormones like cortisol. A big double whammy. And…yes, there’s more. When imbibing, defenses (aka willpower and better decision making) goes out the window. Where does this excess fat get stored? Why right around the waist…hello “muffin” top.

Now…to each of the above root causes for weight gain, let’s add one more: not sleeping enough. A sleep deprived body causes hunger hormones to be stimulated (increased) AND causes a drop in dopamine and serotonin causing you to feel LESS full and MORE hungry leading to snacking.

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So you can see, whether you are in holiday/vacation mode or are a newbie college freshman, the “environment” for weight gain is all around you. However, it’s not a forgone conclusion and there are simple strategies to combat the fat:

You can start using fat cavitation machine since it helps you to lose weight and reduce fat in different areas of your body.

Hit the gym—or, find ways to be more active. If at the office, stand at your desk, make a point to take walk breaks. In the dorm, put a chin-up bar in the doorway -or keep a sandbag or pair of dumbbells so you can lift on a regular basis in addition to bodyweight exercise. Make a point NOT to sit for longer than an hour without getting up, try walking a few flights of stairs, or pumping out a set of squats, push-ups, dips, jumping jacks or leg swings. It’s all movement and every little bit counts. I hate to tell you this, but the research is in: it doesn’t matter how hard you train—if you spend most of your time in a seated position, you will be health challenged. So instead of Facebook or Snapchat surfing while sitting, walk to as much as possible. Walk while reviewing note cards and enlist nearby dorm friends to join you in the movement effort.

Be healthy. Choose health, that is. Avoid drinking high amounts of caffeine and choose drinks flavored with stevia vs those sweetened with sugar, sucralose or aspartame. Eat a variety of fresh, colorful food vs. packaged & processed foods. Add in some seeds and nuts.

As your energy increases, you can take it to another level by:

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  • Focus on managing stress. Become aware of triggers and incorporate breathing and or meditation exercises.
  • Move outdoors and enjoy nature.
  • Vent to a friend or try gratitude journaling. And,
  • Sleep more.  Avoid caffeine, alcohol and blue light before bed.

Till next time, choose fit, be healthy, & have a blessed holiday season!

~Lisa

12 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

7 Steps to Avoid Emotional Eating Over the Holidays

Consumer Reports’ 10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”     –Henry David Thoreau

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There are soooo many positive benefits from engaging with nature! Study after study reveal that people who are more connected to nature feel less anxious. And, you don’t even have to move to reap benefits. Being  still OR being active outside  are both reprieves from everyday life. Some psychologists believe the busyness of our lives can overwhelm our attention spans while nature does not. Some experts suggest that we have an innate pull to the outdoors and are wired to seek connections to nature and other living things. All I cimg_4997an say is being outside soothes my soul and I absolutely love exploring trails, riding hills, sitting on a rock, or putting my toes in the sand while listening to the sounds of waves and seagulls. Quite simply, nature’s song and beauty nourishes our souls in a multitude of ways.

  
For my Cliff Notes readers, here’s short list of benefits from being outside:

  • Reduced anxiety & muscle tension
  • Renewed energy levels
  • Increased immunity & decreased stress hormones
  • Decreased blood pressure and lower heart rate
  • Mood elevation
  • Your vitamin D levels rise.

See, sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D.  Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Also, you’ll get more exercise since being outside should mean less time in front of the TV/computer and more time spent walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.


There’s no doubt about it. Nature is God’s “battery charger” for our minds, bodies and souls. I mentioned the benefit of taking short meditative breaks throughout the day in an earlier blog. Make it a priority to step outside, feel the sun on your face (vitamin D), listen for birds, walk through trees—or simply sit. You will serve your body and soul a big plate of restoration.

So my friends, what are you waiting for?

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“There is pleasure in the pathless woods. There is rapture on the lonely shore. There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar. I love not man the less, but Nature more.”     –Lord Byron

 

 

Until next time, choose fit, be happy, and get outside!

~Lisa

More reading:

5 Health Benefits of Playing Outside

Why Getting Outside is Good for You

The Science Behind Exercising Outdoors

Spending Time in Nature

Health Benefits of Working Out Outside

Not Convinced & Need to Read More?

 

Many people think that running is the workout to do on the track, trail or road, but walking has many wonderful benefits, as well. It’s an alternate form of cardiovascular exercise that has been proven to be good for us, possibly even better in some ways, than strenuous running.


A brisk walk offers these advantages:

  • It strengthens the heart and lungs
  • It helps with weight loss (walking equal distance burns as many calories as running or jogging distance because it takes longer, but the time X calories is equal to running expenditure)
  • It improves your mood (Many studies show that walking is better than anti-depressants–especially if combined with some sun and nature!) It reduces depression & stress (see above)
  • It tones up muscles, especially in the lower body
  • It helps prevent varicose veins, increases circulation, & strengthens bones
  • It allows you to sleep better (see prior blogs on sleep)
  • It promotes loss of waste products in the tissues
  • It lowers the risk of injury compared to running/jogging since it’s low impact
  • It supports your joints & puts less stress on your spinal discs  
  • It slows mental decline & can lead to a longer life

Most of all, it’s probably the easiest form of exercise to do most anywhere. Don’t worry if you don’t have a gym membership or a treadmill at home. Walking takes no special skills, no need for long practice sessions, and no other equipment other than a good pair of walking shoes.

If you are still not convinced, let me share another walking benefit…walking after a meal improves triglycerides levels and lowers blood pressure. So, what are you waiting for? Get those sitting glutes engaged & do your body some good!

Look at what you have to gain.

Until next time, live strong, be happy, and choose fit.

#NoExcuses

I have a few questions for you…

How is your cholesterol? Your blood pressure? Your breathing? What about your ability to move without breaking into a sweat? Do you find you have no time to workout or prepare healthy meals? How much time do you spend going to the doctor? And how much money is spent on medicines that treat symptoms of disease?

My friends, today IS “some” day. The day you decide to commit to a fit lifestyle.  Just do it.  For yourself, your family, your children, your community.  Because if you live a life with too little sleep combined with continual over-indulgences, ill health WILL creep into your body.  There is simply no way to sugar coat the cost of not committing to making small healthy lifestyle changes.

Often we create our own self sabotage by setting unrealistic goals.  However, you don’t need to run marathons.  I’m a big fan of “every little bit counts” and the “10 minute difference”.   Small steps in a healthy direction, made consistently over time, WILL make a huge difference in your health. These 31 steps (from Bulletproof) are an EXCELLENT place to start. Set small, simple goals and BE KIND to yourself along the way.

And please, go moderately. Walking is a great way to start. Find an activity you enjoy so you are likely to continue doing it. (That is one of my most often asked questions, “Which type of exercise is best?” My reply is, “Whatever workout you are most likely to stick to!”) And if you hate lettuce, don’t eat it!  But don’t set a “10 pound weight loss in two weeks” goal.  Healthy living is a journey that’s about doing your best—and forgetting the rest, one step and one day at a time. 

Here are some things I’ve learned..

Bodyweight involves more than willpower and biology plays a big role. And, when it comes to willpower, environment matters! (I cannot stress that enough.) Low fat diets blame people when they don’t lose weight—but “fat-free” is not the way to go; it’s damaging and the very nature of that path contributes to failure! Society treats people with a weight problem with more stigma than anything else, sadly.   In a nutshell, a healthy “diet” is one that has REAL food, limits processed foods, and limits sugars.

When it comes to fat, we NEED fat in our diets!  When we leave it out, our bodies goes into starvation mode.  Yes, we can lose weight.. but the body fights back, hunger goes up, metabolism goes down, and the stress hormones secreted erode lean tissue.  The best way is to reverse this recipe for failure is to focus on eliminating processed carbs (which raise insulin and drive fat cells into a feeding frenzy- ugh).  Once fat cells calm down, the calories you eat stay in the blood stream longer, so they are able to nourish your brain, muscles and organs. What happens then? “Health” happens, that’s what.  Hunger decreases, metabolism increases, and…we lose weight.  I wish I could shout this from mountain tops and get the message out—there are so many misconceptions around fat and carbs!

The government quietly lifted the dietary limitations on fats in 2015, but who heard?  That’s because their prior recommendations for “low fat” were erroneous and directed us to look at fat vs sugar. Quite frankly, this direction contributed to the obesity epidemic… along with processed food product quality and convenience–but that’s a blog for another day!  Regardless, those earlier low fat “recommendations” were wrong.

Note: In all fairness, Trans fats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil, for example) are AWFUL & should be avoided at all costs, but fat in general is needed and necessary.   Let’s help get the word out that the low fat message was wrong.

Now back to our healthy living journey!  Starting a new year is a great time to develop a plan, but honestly, I find short term goals work best. I create new lists, look over old lists regularly, and adjust them continually to suit life’s desires.

Here are a couple of ideas for you– but you can create your own “Get Healthy in 2017” list:

  • Pay attention to your sleep and create better bedtime habits 
  • Drink less soda, drink more water
  • Learn something new 
  • Identify a couple accountability partners (the closer in proximity, the better, but virtual works too)
  • Consider incorporating coconut oil into your diet (and research why it’s a good idea)
  • Find a good healthy living/eating/exercise site/book and READ it regularly
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Find your inner child
  • Learn how intermittent fasting may benefit you
  • Get/play outside
  • De-clutter your life

So make your list, check it regularly, share it with those around you—and make a point to surround yourself with a good supportive network.   #EnvironmentMatters

In the end, we have ONE body. Take care of it so you can live your life more fully. 

Until next time, I wish you the best of HEALTH, happiness & dreams fulfilled.

 

~Lisa

 

CNN’s 2016 Article

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/06/health/fat-is-back-eat-like-a-mediterranean/index.html

 

NY Times 2014 Article

 

Seriously, it is! Plain and simple: sugar is a toxin. Toxins are poisons that can cause disease in a body.  There is no question that sugar contributes to cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  Studies estimate that Americans consume more than 150 pounds of this sh– in a year. Holy cow! It’s no wonder that the rate of diseases have increased. Would you believe sugar kills more people than cocaine or heroin?  Whatcha think about that, Willis?

Here’s the skinny: not only is sugar “candy for cancer cells” but it also causes inflammation in the body and speeds up aging (gulp). Lower your sugar intake and you improve your health in a multitude of ways.

So how does one take on this aspect of health improvement?

The first step is to become aware of your sugar intake. It is coming to us in various forms: sodas, juices, energy bars, ketchup or marinades, and easily digested processed foods. So unless you are looking to age quickly, put on weight or get sick, then 2016 is a GREAT time to eliminate and/or reduce added sugars in your diet AND the diets of those you love. Become aware and read your labels.

Next, consider ways you can reduce your sugar intake. Write down your ideas— any that come to mind! Maybe it’s one margarita vs. two. Maybe it’s one margarita a month vs. weekly. Maybe it’s no alcohol or sodas at all. Maybe it’s drinking your tea without sugar/honey. Consider all your options and choose some to do right away! Small changes done incrementally and consistently over time will yield big results. Become aware, make a list of ways to reduce sugar, then track it.

Keep a log of your sugar intake. Do you know how much you are consuming daily? Weekly? If there is any area of your life you want to improve, then MEASURE IT!   Look at your list of ideas to cut sugar each morning. Being conscious of your desires helps you make smarter choices. Then track your progress and recommit to ideas to improve the next day. Remind yourself of why you are doing this. Rinse and repeat.

Remember, today is “some” day and all progress is good.

Until next time, choose fit, be healthy, and laugh along this crazy, wonderful journey.

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~Lisa

I knew that’d get your attention! While I hope not to disappoint…a more appropriate word would be “gender” as it relates to metabolism. But first, let’s talk about our metabolism since it’s important to understand how we can use it to our advantage in keeping a fit body for life.

In past blogs I’ve talked about calories in/out and that not all calories are created equal, but to LOSE weight, there needs to be a negative energy balance or deficit (we need to burn more energy than we take in). That can be done by eating clean, eating less, and moving more.

 

What does that have to with sex, you ask? Well, quite a lot…let me explain…

 

Our Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, is what we normally think of as our metabolism. It’s basically about 60-75% of our daily energy expenditure and what our body burns performing normal stuff like brain function, breathing, heart beats, etc. So, it makes sense that a taller or larger person would require more energy than a smaller person, right? That’s partially true, but the bigger differentiator is composition. Or muscle vs. body fat. Yep good ol’ fat vs muscle. Generally, athletes have a higher RMR than their non-athlete friends due to more muscle.

 

What else affects RMR? Age. Yeah, I said it. But it’s because we lose 2-3% of our RMR each decade after 30. Doesn’t have to be so, though…if you lift. Age related muscle decline is NOT something that occurs to everyone. It occurs due to sedentary lifestyles, my friends. That’s a lifestyle choice.

 

But…I digress and you are waiting to read about SEX, err I mean, gender. And sex DOES impact metabolism. So, here’s the sex part:

 

Men generally have higher metabolic rates b/c they typically carry less fat and more muscle. As a result, they typically have higher RMRs.

 

There are other things that can impact RMR…like hormones, having a high fever, or dealing with an injury or illness.

 

I do want to share a word of caution regarding energy intake. If you take in too few calories, your body will break down protein. Less protein/muscle = lower body weight. It’s amazing how the body works, but if you don’t give it the necessary amino acids, it will steal them from your muscles. So that “weight loss” is simply muscle break down and not fat. That is NOT the result you want, trust me. That kind of weight loss will slow your metabolic rate and you will need fewer calories. Plus, the less you eat, the more efficient your body gets in using calories, again resulting in fewer calories needed.

 

So, if you aren’t up to changing your gender, you can boost your metabolic rate by moving more, lifting weights, and focus on clean eating as there are differences with the thermic impact of food. 

Oh…and there IS another way to increase RMR and that is living and exercising in a tropical climate, which can increase RMR from 5-20%! Now that’s a prescription I want!


Until next time, choose fit, laugh often, & lift strong. What have you got to gain? 

~Lisa

Are you feeling the heat and dealing with low energy or brain fog on a daily basis? If so, I have a few ideas to power you up!
Make H2O your best friend. Research says even 1-2% water loss impacts mental acuity. The most impactful way to combat brain fog is to HYDRATE! If hydration isn’t optimal, the pace at which nutrients get to our cells slow down causing low energy and mental fuzzies.
Hydrate with other sources, too. While bodies and needs may vary, a good rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces of water each day. Fruits & vegetables are also mostly made up of water, so strive to get in your recommended 9-11 servings each day as well.   
Eat fat. This is one of my personal favorites. Blood sugar level can have a big impact on how our bodies function and feel during the day.  Eating poorly can cause a vicious cycle of energy and mood crashes and cravings due to refined and heavily processed carbs. An easy way to combat this is to eat fat b/c it has little impact on blood sugar. Nuts or a piece of cheese make better snack choices & they don’t require preparation.
Take standing breaks. We are such a sedentary society! Seriously, sitting is the new “smoking” due to the health detriment it causes. Our bodies were meant to MOVE. Make a point to stand up for 10 minutes several times a day to increase blood pressure and get blood/O2 flowing. 
Move (& move outside). One of the simplest cure-alls around, is exercising to give you a boost. Plus, if you take it outside, Vitamin D is the sun itself. Morning or during lunch will energize you. Just 20 minutes will supply your daily need of Vitamin D. I recently started wearing a Garmin Vivofit & I have to tell you, there are days my butt doesn’t leave the office chair! But, seeing the “red line” encourages me to take a few laps around the atrium if I can’t get outside at lunch.
Embrace the power of the nap. It’s no secret that a lot of folks struggle with enough quality sleep. A nap can be a great way to offer respite to all that’s overtaxed and reinvigorate your energy. If your workday doesn’t allow the opportunity, try to take time for a legit break by reading a book, going for a short stroll or talking to a friend.
Assessing your sleep routine can also be a great starting point and long-term strategy to help improve your health. Think and assess your actual bedroom. Is there too much blue light at night? How is the comfort of your bed? Do you have a normal bedtime? Figure out what is optimal for you and make it a priority.
Along those lines, limit evening technology. Artificial light via computer monitors, TVs and phones increases stress hormones. #fact Implement a “no phone” rule before bed. You’ll be more relaxed and fall asleep sooner.
Try essential oils. There’s a reason that people have regularly used essential oils for purposes of health and well-being. Try inhaling peppermint to reduce burnout. It is pleasant smell to breathe in, but you can also try applying it to the back of your neck and shoulders to help support your energy over a longer stretch of time. Try peppermint vs drinking coffee.
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Meditate. Today’s craziness of multi-tasking, long hours, and too-full agendas can leave us tired & gaining weight. Even thinking about managing stress can seem like a big task in and itself. Studies show, however, that simply taking a few seconds to breathe and close your eyes can lower cortisol. There are a lot of neat apps out there now to help with just that. Try a few and make it a practice to take 5 at least once a day.
Try a few of these ideas and let me know how they work for you. 
As my friend Sharon used to say, “What have you got to GAIN?”  Until next time, choose fit, live STRONG, and breathe. 
Lisa
Recent neuroscience studies have proven that what we eat and how we live can have huge impacts on our brains. Neurogenesis, or the process of making new brain cells, is the topic of today’s blog. This is fascinating stuff on so many levels! Old think was that we quit growing brain cells in our 20’s and then we just went downhill from there. In the late ‘90’s, scientists discovered we can actually make new brain cells our entire life. The rate of neurogenesis (brain cell development/growth) is an important biomarker of brain health –which ultimately impacts the quality of our lives, as you can imagine!
 
It makes sense that a low rate of making new brain cells is associated with cognitive decline, anxiety, memory problems, stress/depression and lower immunity.  While on the other hand, people with a high rate of new brain cell growth have cognitive enhancements, faster problem solving, protection against stress/anxiety, etc. Even more interesting is that people can increase the rate of neurogenesis at least 5 times. Holy cow. Now you see how the rate of neurogenesis can have a big impact on the quality of your life? FIVE TIMES!! (Dayam Daniel!)
 
What can we do? Well, first of all, understand that the best results come from multiple ways to create a synergistic effect. An analogy Dr. Cortright uses is that if you want to build a beautiful house, you have to use high quality materials.  Seems simple enough.  In his book, “The Neurogenesis Diet & Lifestyle”, Dr. Cortright tells us what mental activities we can do to increase neurogenesis, along with spiritual things we can do, active things we can do, and of course, DIETARY things we can do.  In a nutshell, the dietary piece is twofold: we want to decrease the things that are neurotoxic because they slow down the rate of brain cell development AND at the same time increase the things that enhance neurogenesis.
 
Here are a few points made in his book:

 

  • Neurotoxins to avoid include bad, unhealthy fats and sugar/carbohydrates. We can thank the government since the 60’s for their recommendations that fail to distinguish good fats from unhealthy, oxidized (trans) fats. When bad fats get into blood stream, it produces a host of problems. The good ol’ outdated food pyramid was heavy on carbohydrates. Don’t’ cook with vegetable oils. Instead cook with coconut oil, butter, or ghee. Avoid eating fried foods. 
  • Include good fats from avocados, nuts, grass fed beef, pastured chicken/eggs, wild caught fish, etc. Omega 3’s fatty acids are the bomb (especially DHA since 1/3 of our brains are made up of this stuff). Taking 4-5 grams a day of omega-3’s that are molecularly distilled (to avoid mercury which is a neurotoxin) is recommended by Dr. Cortright.
  • Green tea (ECGCs) are beneficial, as is
  • Quercetin, and      
  • Ginseng

 

The book is full of more detailed information, as is his website: www.BrantCortright.com. I really can’t do it justice in one blog entry. Just know how important it is to reduce inflammatory responses within the body/bloodstream. Repeated inflammation literally chews up the inside of our blood vessels. Because your brain gets 20% of your blood, when you ingest/expose bad fats/sugar/toxins, that junk literally goes to your head.  Say you eat a burger and fries…the fries supply nasty fat/carbs and the bread supplies additional easily digested carbohydrates. Congrats, you just flooded your bloodstream with one big inflammatory responses. Do that throughout the week/month/year….well you get the picture. A high sugar diet will cut the rate of brain cell building in HALF. Scientists have tracked cognitive decline directly with sugar intake and alzheimers is now dubbed Type 3 Diabetes.  Things that make you go, hmm..!
 
Today, about 80% of the American population has some degree of glucose intolerance, meaning they have higher levels of insulin than is healthy, creating toxicity in every organ of the body. Accelerated aging, or glycation, begins to occur whenever sugar/glucose enters the body. So yeah, I’m sitting here thinking about the handful of peanut M&M’s I grabbed off an associate’s desk last week!  (Sidebar: a blood test called a “hemoglobin A1C” can show the levels of glucose from the past 3 months.)  High fructose is a nasty culprit in a lot of foods.
 
But, I digress. There’s so much good information in this book!  I’d like to share his information regarding antidepressants, as well. But, that’s a dialogue for another day.
 
To wrap this up, here are the take-aways:

 

  • A high sugar diet will cut the rate of brain cell building IN HALF. We live in such a neurotoxic world and most of our brains are functioning well below what is possible. With our bodies lasting longer, why kill brain cells when we can enhance cognitive development so we don’t become a statistic? Right now, 1 in 3 Americans develop Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.
  • We can enhance brain cell building FIVE times, maybe more, with the right activities (dietary, movement, spiritual).
  • Read the book.

 

What have you got to gain? Just cognitive enhancement, mood elevation and an enhanced quality of life!
Until next time, choose fit, laugh often, reduce sugar, & add omega-3’s.
 
~Lisa
 
There are two questions I ask about when people inquire about getting in shape or losing weight.
“Are you drinking enough water and staying hydrated?”
“Are you getting enough quality sleep?”
Sleep is vital in so many ways (see blog on sleep), but as we get older, we tend to assume we can get by on less– while at the same time falling asleep and staying asleep become challenges.  Those blue screens from our TVs, iPads, electronic readers and phones are wreaking havoc with falling asleep for young and old. To help you look good, feel good, and maintain good weight and hormone levels, try these steps to increase the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep, EVERY night.
1. Try to keep a consistent sleep routine. This means going to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Keeping the “status quo” routine will train you to fall asleep more easily and wake up more refreshed.
2. No TV or electronic media use in bed! Use the bed only for sleep and sex.  Try to keep the bed for sleep ‘n sex! Also, improve your sleep surroundings so electronics are OFF and the environment is quiet, dark and free of clutter.
3. Watch the timing on caffeine intake, especially after 2:00 PM. Even a single cup of coffee or tea in the morning means a sleepless night for some folks.
4. MOVE!  Getting physical especially with walking, running, or swimming provides three important sleep benefits like falling asleep faster, achieving a higher % of restorative deep sleep, and staying asleep during the night. Watch the time you work out, however, because exercising too late causes physiological changes that might interfere with your sleep.
5. Avoid excessive napping. Plain and simple, long naps can disrupt your natural sleep cycle. A short nap can be wonderful, but sleeping an hour or longer during the day might keep you up at night.
6. If you smoke or chew, now is a good time to STOP. Tobacco & nicotine speed up your heart rate, raise blood pressure, and stimulate fast brainwave activity that keeps you awake.
Along those lines, use alcohol cautiously. I agree a glass of pinot can be relaxing…but, the effects disappear after a few hours and might cause frequent awakenings.
7. Give in. If you are tossing still after 20 minutes in bed, get out of bed and read awhile to help you relax.
8. Check the temp. Keep the bedroom at a constant, comfortable temperature, and avoid getting over heated.
Want to optimize your life? Improve the quality and quantity of your sleep at night. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference to your nightly rest. And THAT will help you be more productive, mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long.
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Until next time, choose fit. Be happy.  
What have you got to gain?
~Lisa    
 

 

Are you a little concerned that your good work to date will get derailed this holiday season? Don’t despair, healthy living does not mean total deprivation. It does, however, require a few strategies to keep you on the right track.  Here are a few ways you can limit temptations over the holidays:
  1. Drink up. (Water…that is!) You’d be surprised at the difference dehydration can make. It’s often mistaken for hunger. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind.  You know how there’s a reason for product placement at the grocery store? Do your own “marketing” at home by removing food or snacks not healthy for your family. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Keep a log so you can identify triggers and are realistic about input/output. Most folks overestimate calories burned and underestimate calories consumed. Keep it real.
  4. Know your limit. Can you indulge a little? Or does one bit turn into the entire bag/box? If the latter is the case, then that means no sugar should pass your lips. So be it. Is it difficult to eat out if you see or smell dessert or French fries? If so, skip it for now. Honor thyself. If you CAN indulge a little, go for it. Enjoy it, savor it, and then add some extra workout time. It’s all good.
  5. Good fats help resist the sugar urge. As does protein. Eat up.
  6. Create a bit of crazy. Visualization, that is. If sugar is still tempting you, imagine your sugar free life and the healthy/energetic/lean self you’ll be sporting! SEE it, claim it, then make the choice that aligns with that vision.
  7. Change your habits…or people around you. We talked about this one before. If you eat mindlessly while watching TV, don’t let yourself watch TV unless you are on the elliptical. Or, avoid that “friend” who eats junk food in front of you daily while you nurture your self goals.
  8. Lead the way. Influence your friends and be the change you want to be. Cook healthy, commit to exercise. Healthy habits beget other healthy habits.
  9. Commit publically. With your friends, family, online. Ask to be held accountable. It works!
  10. Take a nap! This is a goal every weekend (for me). It doesn’t always occur, but when it does, it’s soooo sweet! I find I want sugar when I’m tired. Not to mention I get a little bit grumpy when I’m in need of more zzzz’s.
Last, it’s not about being perfect, but choosing to make better decisions, more frequently, and more consistently over time. Becoming healthier is a journey.  And tomorrow always brings a new day.    That’s awesome.  So next time you are faced with that fork in the road, ask yourself, “What have I got to gain?”
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Until next time, choose fit, be strong. And, laugh often.
~Lisa