Fitness & Wellness

Importance Of A Good Night's Sleep

Importance Of A Good Night’s Sleep

If you’re burning the candle at both ends, yet eat healthy and workout regularly, you’re only getting part of the healthy benefits. You’ve neglected to acknowledge the importance of a good nights sleep, as many Americans do. Even people who rigorously stick to healthy eating and workouts sometimes act as though it’s noble to skip sleep, but it’s not. One healthy behavior most people fail to achieve is get adequate, consistent sleep. Lack of sleep comes with health risks. You may be one of those rare individuals that don’t need a lot of sleep and can survive on as little as six hours a night, but the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours with a small number at the other end of the spectrum requiring 10 hours.

You may be asleep at night, but your brain is working hard.

There’s a purpose for sleep, besides resting your body. Your brain is organizing everything and getting ready to reboot. All the day’s input is organized and neural paths for memory are created to create complete memories with feelings, sensory input and associations together. Your brain processes everything that happened that day while you sleep, improving your memory of events and information.

Your body needs healing time and rest.

The body repairs itself during sleep, so it’s more than just helping you stay alert. Cutting short your sleep hours does more than leave you feeling sleepy, it stresses the body, too. If you’ve ever tried to push through the day after being up all night, you know how stressful that can be. Stress comes at a price. That price comes from the changes made to the body under stress and the hormones like cortisol. Stress hormones are linked with inflammation and inflammation is linked to serious conditions like coronary disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

If you want to lose weight, make sure you stick with an adequate sleep schedule.

You already know that lack of sleep can send stress hormones, like cortisol, throughout your body. You may not know that cortisol is linked to abdominal fat. You also may not realize that lack of sleep can through your hormones out of whack. According to recent studies, the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which are hunger and satiation hormones, are out of balance in people who don’t sleep enough. That can lead to overeating. Another diet busting factor is that lack of sleep can cause you to crave sugar for a quick boost of energy. That also starts off the roller coaster of blood sugar spikes and then lows that require even more sugar.

  • There is such a thing as too much sleep and it can be as bad as too little. If you’re sleeping a lot, yet still feel tired, check with your doctor to make sure you’re not ill. It’s also a sign of depression. Getting up earlier may actually improve your overall mood and energy level.
  • Getting adequate sleep will keep you younger looking. Not only will you have less cell damage to the skin that occurs from the inflammation, you’ll also appear more energetic and be less prone to premature aging.
  • A dark room is important for good sleep. Shut off all electronic devices, too. While you might fall asleep quicker in front of the TV, it’s not quality sleep.
  • A nap mid-day not only can help reduce sleep deficit, it also can boost your energy level when you need it most. Many famous people and heads of industry use power naps to keep their energy levels high.

Do You Need To Recharge

Do You Need To Recharge

If you’re ready to crawl under a rock and hide from civilization, it may be time to recharge. Based on your everyday life, recharging can mean a number of things. If you’re at the computer all day, it may be just getting up for a few minutes every hour and walking around, which is excellent for your health. You need to have some personal time for yourself every day where you can rest your mind and body and refresh.

Recharging helps relieve stress.

If you’ve ever exploded at someone over something so minor it wouldn’t bother you at any other time, you needed to recharge. Sometimes, even the smallest request at the wrong time, especially when you’re under a lot of stress, can seem like a demand for your immediate time. It can cause you to get angry, when there was no bad intent meant. That can leave you feeling even worse. It’s better to take time and go for a short walk, meditate in private or take a power nap to revive yourself and recharge. Working out can also provide recharging benefits.

You’ll boost your immune system when you take time for yourself to recharge.

Stress lowers your immunity and relaxation helps boost it. Taking time to relax helps your body to repair itself and gives it benefits like a boost to the immune system. You see it all the time if you’re watching for it. Illness comes at the worse possible time, when you’re most frazzled and busy. It isn’t coincidence that it happens that way. There are studies done that show during finals times, more college kids tend to get colds or flu. It’s the stress that makes them less immune to illness.

Keep your appointment with the gym, but still take some time for yourself.

You need both physical activity and time to rest. While working out will boost the hormones that make you feel good and get rid of those hormones of stress, sometimes you need to rest. You can’t go non-stop without feeling the effects on your body and mind. You might find that the more you workout, the less decompression time you need, but with most people, you probably still need some. Consider learning how to meditate, so you’re ready for stress when it occurs. You could tackle it and defeat it with just a few minutes of meditation.

  • If you’re trying to relax for an hour or two, shut off your cell phone. If you’re a mom, make it a time when you know your children are safe and in bed, so you aren’t constantly checking to see if they’re trying to call or if there’s an emergency.
  • Don’t relax by going online and checking email or Facebook. You want to clear your mind, not add to the problems. If you can, dim the lights and sit perfectly quiet in the room.
  • Treat yourself to something special like a massage. If you’re not one for indulging yourself, do a mindless task that lets you accomplish something, while getting the mental relaxation you need. Don’t rush through it to add stress, but enjoy every minute of doing it.
  • Walk the dog, play with the cat, enjoy a day off of work. Do something you might not otherwise do, like investigating that interesting book or herb shop or the new whole foods market.

The Dangers Of "Fruit Drinks"

The Dangers Of “Fruit Drinks”

You might think it’s wholesome because there’s fruit in the name, a picture of the sun and dancing fruits on the front of the container, but you have to watch out for the dangers of fruit drinks, checking the label to identify just how healthy they really are. Not all fruit drinks are the same, but one thing is certain, they aren’t fruit juice or that would be in the name. Even worse, fruit juice isn’t a top choice as a health drink.

What’s wrong with fruit juice?

First, fruit juice isn’t fruit. Fruit contains many things its juice doesn’t contain the most important thing is fiber. If you drank 100 calories worth of orange juice and ate 100 calories of the fiber containing fruit, you’d get more nutrients per calorie from the whole fruit! For juice that isn’t freshly squeezed, but purchased at the store, the way its processed makes all the difference. Left in a large vat for storage, fruit juice loses its flavor and gets “flavor packets” before it’s marketed to enhance the taste that also left in storage. Since there is no fiber to fill you up, you can consume far more calories than you would eating the fruit.

Fruit drinks are even worse!

In order to be classed as a fruit drink, the drink has to contain at least some fruit juice. That can be as little as one percent or less! The rest is colored water, sugar and some type of flavoring. Is it starting to sound like Kool-Aid in expensive packaging? It should. Most fruit drinks contain 10 percent fruit juice with the rest sugary syrup and water—plus artificial coloring and additives for longer shelf life.

You’ll destroy a healthy eating program by drinking fruit drinks, particularly if weight loss is the goal.

If you’re counting calories or trying to keep your sugar intake low, don’t even consider fruit drinks in your diet. Most of them have more calories than regular soft drinks, like cola. Some are as high as 150 calories per 8-oz serving, that’s one and a half times the calories for the same amount of Coca-Cola. Some contain far more sugar than a Coke and even more than a Krispy Kreme donut!!!

  • Giving these high sugar drinks to children can increase the risk of obesity. One study showed that just one fruit drink a day increased the chances of obesity by 60 per cent.
  • Not only will you miss out on all the nutrition and fiber from eating the fruit, rather than drinking the juice or having a fruit juice drink, studies also show that fruit drinks can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Read the label carefully before you buy. Even though it may say contains real fruit, if water, followed y sugar are high on the ingredient list, it’s just glorified sugar water that’s bad for you and your children.
  • Avoid the dilemma of finding a healthy drink by drinking water and offering it to kids. There’s a lot of reasons to get children in the habit of drinking water and no reasons to encourage sugary drinks—of any kind.

Foods That Beat The Bloat

Foods That Beat The Bloat

How many times have you had to leave the top button on your jeans unbuttoned because your “fat jeans” were dirty and all you had left were the “skinny” jeans? How many of you have felt like a giant balloon ready to swirl around the room if punctured because of bloating from gas? Bloating can occur for several reasons in several ways. It can come from both gas and water retention. Here are some foods to help you beat the bloat and get you feeling back to normal again.

Grab some ginger tea or add ginger to your food.

If you have gas from stomach upset, nothing will settle it better than ginger tea. It’s one reason why mothers of old gave ginger ale to children with upset stomachs. It contains zingibain that’s an enzyme which aids in the breakdown of protein and has anti-inflammatory properties that help with gas and the bloating it causes. It relaxes the intestines so food passes through easier, to prevent gas and help it pass quickly. Ginger is also a natural diuretic.

Grab a banana for monthly bloating.

It doesn’t have to be a banana, it could be any food rich in potassium to help eliminate the water retention that comes in each cycle. Foods like dark leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet potatoes are also rich in potassium. Potassium-rich foods not only decrease the sodium levels of the body, which add to water weight, they also boost urine production to eliminate the water retention bloat.

Natural diuretics can help eliminate the bloat of water weight.

Diuretics help get rid of water. There are several natural sources, so you don’t have to grab a pill to do it. Asparagus, peaches, cucumbers, garlic and leaks are a few. Green tea can also help reduce water weight. I had a client whose mother had a heart problem and was faced with swelling from fluids. The doctor’s tried the strongest diuretics possible, but nothing worked. In a last ditch effort, the client gave her mother green tea. Within an hour, the mother remained close to the bathroom and the water retention was conquered.

  • Another common herb for stomach upset and gas is fennel. It, too, relaxes the colon and helps un-trap gas. Chew on a fennel seed for quick relief, create a tea from the seeds or add part of the bulb to your salad.
  • Drink more water to help eliminate water retention. Just plain water not only flushes excess sodium out of the system, it acts as a diuretic and may improve kidney functioning. It definitely won’t hurt and brings other benefits, too.
  • While it’s not a matter of eating, you can prevent many of the problems that cause bloating with regular exercise. One study showed that regular exercise reduced PMS symptoms, even bloating.
  • Grab a slice of pineapple or papaya. Pineapple aids digestion with bromelain to help stop gas and is also potassium-rich. Papayas contain another digestive enzyme, papain, which also helps digestion and prevents gas.

Foods You NEED In Your Diet

Foods You NEED In Your Diet

Rather than putting the focus on those foods that are bad for you, it’s more productive to focus on foods you need in your diet. There are far too many unhealthy foods available her in Marlton to try to include them all. It’s far easier to ensure you eat what’s healthy. Eating a well balanced meal that contains foods closer to whole foods—food that isn’t processed—is the only way to ensure you get all the nutrition available in those foods.

Start with a lean complete protein.

The amount of protein necessary will vary by weight and activity level, but there’s an approximation of 0.36 grams per pound. High quality protein can come from lean poultry, grassfed beef, pork and other lean animal sources, including animal products, like eggs. However, you can also fulfill the need for protein with plant sources. Tofu, edamame, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts and treenuts are a few vegetarian options. Seeds, like chia seeds and hemp seeds are also options. Vary the protein sources and making certain you get enough vitamin B-12, iron and calcium if you’re using plant based sources.

Get plenty of fiber in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fiber fills you up and acts like scrubbing bubbles in your elimination system to eliminate toxins and keep you regular. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, so it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Fiber helps you lose weight by keeping you feeling fuller, too. Getting your fiber from fruits and vegetables also helps provide all the nutrients you need in the form of vitamins, mineral and phytonutrients. Fruits and vegetables provide carbohydrates to fuel your body and boost your energy. Whole grain bread and high fiber cereal also add nutrition and fiber.

Healthy fat shouldn’t make you cringe and should be part of your diet.

People automatically thin fat is bad, but that’s just not so. Sure, trans fats are terrible for your body, but there are healthy fats that your body needs to maintain good health. You can get healthy fat from avocado, whole eggs, fatty fish like salmon, nuts, cheese and olive oil. You need healthy fat for functions like absorbing fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and certain antioxidants. Fat helps provide structure to the cells and is important for heart, brain and nerve functioning.

  • If you want to identify superior choices, look to crucifers like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. They help prevent oxidative stress that can lead to cancer, while also providing fiber and nutrition.
  • Grab some fresh fruit for a snack. Eating blueberries provides anthocyanins that give the blueberries its color. Anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and also provide cancer fighting benefits.
  • Do your heart a favor and eat some tree nuts. You’ll get more when you eat pistachios. A handful of pistachios contain the same amount of benefits as almonds and cashews but have far fewer calories so you can eat more.
  • Enjoy your tomatoes and tomato sauce. They are high in cancer protective lycopene that’s heart healthy, lowers blood pressure and helps your skin.

Beating A Plateau

Beating A Plateau

If you’ve been stuck at the same weight for weeks, but still workout faithfully, you’re plateauing. Beating a plateau isn’t the easiest thing to do, but a few tips can help you avoid it and break through it if you’re in one. You’ll plateau if you’re doing the same routine too long, allowing your body to become too efficient, thus burning fewer calories. Normally, people think of efficiency as a good thing, but that’s not true when it comes to workouts. It causes the body to burn fewer calories. As a trainer. I work to provide a wide variety of workout, pushing your body to the max to accomplish your goals.

Don’t expect to lose as rapidly as you did when you first begin a fitness program unless you make adjustments.

If you started your weight loss program at 180 pounds and lost 30 pounds, you body doesn’t have to work as hard just to move around daily. You’re carrying fewer pounds and burning fewer calories than you were when you weighed 180 pounds. That extra weight is like carrying a 30 pound barbell everywhere you went. At a lower weight, your body requires fewer calories, so you either have to work harder or eat less. It’s just one reason trainers continuously assess your fitness level and adjust the workout accordingly.

You may be working out like crazy but still not seeing the difference on the scales.

If that’s happening, you may be measuring your progress wrong. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue does per cubic inch. To put it in more visual terms, the container to hold a pound of muscle tissue is smaller than the container to hold a pound of fat, just like the container to hold a pound of feathers is to hold a pound of steel. Are you losing inches? Are your clothes too big? Those are also ways to judge your progress. If you’re not losing weight but have lost two clothing sizes, you’re still making progress.

Maybe you aren’t counting all the calories you ingest.

If you’re eating healthier, good for you. It’s hard to ingest a lot of calories when you’re consuming whole foods. However, are you noticing everything you eat. Do you still drink soft drinks daily or indulge in a daily frothy drink from Starbucks? A white chocolate mocha contains 470 calories, just 30 fewer calories than a large fries from McDonalds! A 12 ounce Coke has 140 calories with a Pepsi containing 150 calories. If you drink just one a day, in 23 days you’ll gain a pound. What you drink counts just as much as what you eat. If it goes in your mouth and down to your stomach, the calories count.

  • Boost your activity level when you’re not in the gym. Take the stairs, ride a bike to work and keep moving. That adds to the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.
  • Learn to enjoy working out and all the energy you get from exercising. You’ll eventually shed the pounds, but in the meantime, enjoy all the benefits a more active lifestyle brings.
  • Don’t judge yourself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow a healthy lifestyle, but if you fall off the wagon and indulge in a guilty pleasure, it’s not the end of the world and you’re not a failure.
  • If you’re doing everything right, know you’ll lose weight. Sometimes, water weight makes a difference. There are fluctuations that have nothing to do with actual weight loss.

Are Grains Hard To Digest?

Are Grains Hard To Digest?

If you’re familiar with food issues, you probably already know that grains are hard to digest. They’re seeds with a tough coating that is meant to be durable, so they pass through the intestines of birds to propagate the plant in other areas. If they’re hard enough to last in the digestive system of animals without being harmed, they’re hard enough to go through your digestive system and do the same. In order to be used for food, they’re ground into flour. That seems as though it should solve the problem, but it doesn’t. It’s not just the hard outer shell that creates the digestive problems.

Whole grains contain complex proteins.

One reason simple sugars are bad for dieters and diabetics, is that they’re quickly broken down by the body, spiking blood sugar in the process. The more complex the food, the more difficult it is to digest. Some grains contain gluten, one of the latest buzzwords on the list of foods to avoid. In fact, you’ll see the message “gluten free” on everything from candy to potato chips, as though it’s an endorsement for healthy eating. Gluten is one of the hardest proteins to break down and through the years of research, the gluten in grains has increased, making grains even harder to digest.

Grains contain an enzyme inhibitor.

Your body requires enzymes to digest food. Enzymes act as catalysts for digestion, so without them, no digestion can take place. Each seed has enzyme inhibitors that prevent plants from growing until the conditions are right. The inhibitor prevents sprouting if there’s not adequate water or good conditions for the plant to grow. It also prevents the seeds from being destroyed in the digestive track of birds and animals if they break the hard shell. These inhibitors play havoc with your system when you eat grains by blocking the enzymes for digestion.

Seeds, grains in particular, contain phytic acid.

Phytic acid affects the absorption of minerals in the small intestines, blocking it and preventing you from receiving the nourishment the food contains. It only affects the iron, zinc and calcium in that seed, not the rest of your food. Some seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, contain an abundance of other nutrients, so its better to eat them than not. However, with modern processing methods, many of the nutrients of grains are removed, leaving you with just the problems caused by grains that can range from mild digestive problems, to celiac disease or leaky gut.

  • Some grains are harder to digest than others are. Wheat has more gluten, for instance.
  • Fermenting, soaking and sprouting grains is one way to make them easier to digest. It aids in breaking down the disaccharides in grain while also removing or reducing the phytic acid.
  • The way grains are processed also affects digestive issues. The phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors often remain after commercial processing, yet many nutrients are removed and artificial additives put into the flour. This explains one of the reasons for the rise in many food related conditions.
  • If you’re having digestive issues, an elimination diet is helpful to find the offending food. Remove grains from your diet for a while to see if it helps digestive issues.

Eating Healthy When You're Older

Eating Healthy When You’re Older

No matter what your age, a healthy clean diet is important, However, eating healthy when you’re older is even more important because of several changes in the body. Most older people are more sedentary than their younger peers, so they often eat less. To make matters worse, low stomach acid and reduced digestive enzymes make it even more difficult to get all the nutrition from the foods that are eaten. Dental problems may play a role, as well as lack of energy for food preparation. That’s why planning meals carefully can help seniors boost their nutritional intake and make the most of each meal.

Start with your water intake.

Water isn’t food, but it’s actually far more important than food. You can go without eating for 21 days or longer, but a week or less without water. Unfortunately, as the appetite decreases, so does the sense of thirst. When the appetite decreases, seniors eat far fewer foods that contain the fluids they need and also drink less water. That can spell dehydration that can cause symptoms that range from fatigue and lethargy to cramps, headaches, signs similar to dementia, dizziness and increased heartrate. Make sure you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Cut out the junk and stick with whole foods.

Whole foods contain the nutrients that your body needs and far fewer calories. Older people do well increasing their protein intake. One study showed that people who included more protein in their diet lost 40 percent less muscle mass than those who had less protein. Make sure your diet include foods high in vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. You can boost your nutritional intake by adding plenty of herbs and spices into your food. They also improve the flavor and make the food more palatable.

Get adequate fiber in your diet.

We all know that fiber is the go-to food that makes you go. Let’s face it. If you’re constipated, you won’t want to eat as much, so it helps keep you feeling better and boosts your appetite. Some medications cause problems going, inactivity and dehydration also add to that. Adequate fiber can help prevent some serious conditions, such as diverticular disease, occurs in 50 percent of the population over 50 and extra fiber helps prevent it.

  • If dental problems interfere with eating, switch some of your meals to smoothies with all the nutrients you need in an easy to consume form. Use your blender to help create delicious, healthy soup, too.
  • Have healthy snacks available.
  • Eat a rainbow of color. Choose fruits and vegetables of various colors to make sure you get all the nutrients you need from your daily food intake.
  • Have meals with friends. Eating alone is no fun, make it a social time and enjoy.

The New Millennial Diet

The New Millennial Diet

You may have heard of the new millennial diet, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Don’t worry, it’s not really a diet per se, but a way of eating. First, exactly what is a millennial? It’s basically people who were born between the early 1980s to about 2004. This age group is now the largest age demographic around, so obviously, what they like to eat affects everyone, since food manufacturers and restaurants want to reach the biggest number of people.

Millennials question commercials and claims made by food companies.

While previous generations may have simply accepted the commercials that touted their product was healthy and had “good-for-you” ingredients, millennials don’t just accept that at face value. They want more proof on the label and everyone benefits from that! They also like a more personalized meal, so you’re now seeing a more customized menu, even at fast food restaurants. If you’re old enough to remember, one burger quickie place had a “have it your way” campaign years ago that never really got off the ground. It would today.

Easy and healthy is important to millennials.

That big group of baby boomers is losing out and taste is no longer a driver to good eating. Ease is the top requirement for millennials, which explains all the meal kits, online ordering and online grocery shopping and delivery. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean low carb or high fiber, but includes organic, natural and locally grown. The food should be environmentally friendly, too.

Is the keto diet just the Atkins diet revisited?

Millennials love the keto diet and have a larger group that supports consuming animal protein, where their older counterparts often consider it unhealthy. The keto diet is a revisitation of the Atkins diet in the 1960s with a few extra twists that make it more restrictive. While it may be revisited, some of the beliefs are true. Saturated fat is healthy and highly processed carbs are not. Cut out sugar, eat more veggies, healthy fat and protein and you’ll be living like a millennial.

  • Millennials tend to be more adventurous when it comes to food. There’s no huge division in whether to eat only vegetables and avoid meat or insist on steak every meal. There’s more variety in a millennial diet.
  • Fast food restaurants like Taco Bell are taking queues from millennials. They are now using only eggs from cage-free hens and the trend has traveled through other chains like Burger King and McDonald’s.
  • If you’re a millennial, you probably use diet apps, pedometers, heart rate monitors and other tech support more than any other group. In fact, you may even trust nutritional bloggers more than your doctor.
  • Like it or not, in a lot of ways, millennials have it right. They ditch the junk food and eat more whole foods. You’ll find them shopping at farmer’s markets and farms, so they can ask the producer directly how the food was grown. Eating in restaurants is at a low and eating healthier at a high.

Simple Ways To Measure Your Food Portions

Simple Ways To Measure Your Food Portions

Dieting shouldn’t be as difficult as brain surgery or quantum physics. You shouldn’t have to buy special gear to measure precisely how much you eat. Even when you own it, it doesn’t solve the problem of eating in public places. You shouldn’t have to have that scales or those measuring tools with you all the time. There should be simple ways to measure your food portion! The good news is that there are simple techniques, so even people who don’t own the fancy equipment still have the right equipment to measure how much they eat.

You carry a measuring tool with you wherever you go.

That’s right, everyone has a tool to measure portions. It’s called your hand! It measures serving size, rather than specific portions. That’s because everyone has a different size of hand, but that hand size is also determined by their frame and size. So this technique is actually personalized. A level handful is a single serving of nuts. It’s about a quarter cup. A heaping handful is closer to a half cup, which is about one serving of dry pasta. If you’re trying to figure out how much peanut butter to scoop for a serving, use a two finger scoop for two tablespoons. A one finger scoop is a teaspoon and good for a single serving of butter.

That’s not the only way to use your hands to measure food.

Create a fist and you have the amount of food in a cup. Look at the meaty part of your thumb and that’s about the amount of food for an ounce. The tip of your index finger is a teaspoon, while the middle section measures an inch. The palm of your hand is a good way to measure a 3 oz section of meat, poultry or fish.

Compare portion size with everyday items.

Your driver’s license or ID is one way to measure the size of a sour dough bread serving. The serving size for meat should not be larger than the width of a tennis ball and two to three slices is the right amount for a meal. If you want a potato or potatoes in the case of baby red potatoes, don’t make the serving How do you measure vegetables? Here’s a food that you need to make sure you have a minimum amount, not a maximum. Use four SmartPhones in two stacks of two next to each other for the minimum amount.

  • Beware of sauces and add-ons. Those potatoes don’t include butter and yams or sweet potatoes don’t include that marshmallow topping Aunt May creates.
  • Consider using a portion control plate at home. It’s a good way to learn the proper portions so you can simply eyeball it out in public.
  • Even though you’re an ace at portion control, if you’re also the human plate cleaner, finishing the kid’s meals, you’ll not lose weight. Remember, being a member of the plate cleaner’s club doesn’t come with any reward! Try to always leave a little on your plate until you’ve mastered quitting when you’re full.