Category Archives: General Health

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Easy Steps To Get Closer To Your Health Goal…aside from diet and exercise

Healthy eating and increased physical activity play a major role in optimal wellness. And getting there can take some major effort and dedication. But when you’re not used to hitting the gym most days of the week or cutting a chunk out of your daily calories, getting to that goal can seem rather intimidating and nearly impossible. Here are some simple lifestyle changes you can easily take on to get you closer to a healthier you, no treadmill or food scale needed.

  1. Eat slowly

Chew, like really really chew your food. We’re so go-go-go throughout the day, that we tend to get to mealtime and…welp, that took 5 minutes…on with our day! Give our body some time to enjoy getting the nourishment. This will help us to not over-indulge and to better digest what we’re eating. Do something between bites, like talk or listen for a minute if with company, walk around the room, or count 20 breaths before taking the next bite.

  1. Drink more water

 

I’ve written about it before and I’ll say it again, water can really do the body a lot of good and is crucial in getting the body to its optimal stage of wellness. Check out my article on the benefits of water:

The Benefits of Water 

 

  1. Sleep

 

Sleep plays an important role in body performance throughout the day. If sleep is a difficult thing to come by for you, try some methods to help relax your body at night like meditation, chamomile tea, or lavender inscense.

 

  1. Deep breathing

 

The chaos of our day can easily and often lead us to stress, mindless eating, fatigue, bad posture, and decreased focus. By simply doing two minutes of slow, deep breathing, it helps us become more in tune with our body, bringing us awareness to how it feels inside and out. This will help us to become more inclined to continue bettering it as we go forth with our day. How often do we ignore our bodies and not realize it? Mentally counting down the tasks on our to do list throughout the day, all while having poor posture, overstuffed tummies, tight facial muscles, or what-have-you. But hey, we got all of our tasks done for the day, right!? But at what cost to our body? Take two minutes a few times a day to breathe deep and pull your focus inward. You owe yourself at least that.

 

  1. Stretch

 

Ever notice how a morning stretch before getting out of bed or stretching your neck side to side gives you that ‘okay, now I’m ready’ feeling? Get some light body stretches in throughout the day. Reach as high as you can while sitting in a chair and slowly tilt your upper body side to side. It’ll help loosen your muscles all while helping your posture and circulation.

 

  1. Fidget

 

Keep Moving! Not only does this keep the muscles active and burn some calories, but it actually helps keep our focus and energy up. While sitting, bounce your heel up and down, or back and forth between heels as if climbing stairs toes planted in the ground. Touch each fingertip to your thumb pointer finger to pinky and back. Whatever small movement it may be, keep your body moving.

 

  1. Surround yourself with motivation

 

Take a few steps to change your surroundings to health conscious ones. I noticed that when I did, I became more motivated to eat healthy and be more active. For example:

  • Change the background on your computer and your phone to a fitness motivation (it can be a picture or a quote, whatever helps motivate you)
  • ‘Friend’ others that have a healthy lifestyle on social media. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat on the couch ready to indulge in a not-so-healthy snack or got home after a long day and decided not to go to the gym, just to grab my phone to check Facebook or Snapchat, and a famous fitness/yoga/nutrition icon pops up sharing a post-workout pic or healthy meal picture, and my next actions changed because of it.
  • Wear gym shoes to run your errands instead of dress flats or sandals. It may help you expend more energy in your running around, and heck, you’re already ready for a workout!

When you see ‘healthy’ surrounding you throughout the day, you’re more inclined to make your actions comparable.

 

Just these small changes can get you closer to your health goals. Try to incorporate these into your day and see how it makes a difference.

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Healthy Eating Travel Tips

Life happens, and not always in the most convenient of ways. Here are some tips to stay on track no matter where or how you’re traveling!

Airport:

  • If eating at the airport, opt for choices like salad with lean un-breaded protein or a vegetable stir fry
  • Monitor spreads, sauces, creams, etc.(ask for them on the side)
  • Cut cravings for flavor while walking past all the food court options by bringing a water bottle with cucumber, lemon, or mint sprigs
  • Low carb, low calorie protein bars work great for non-perishable snacks

Road Trip:

  • Try low sodium turkey jerky for an easy non-perishable protein option on the go
  • Prepare some pre-portioned baggies such as trail mix with nuts and dried fruit or low-fat string cheese and celery/carrot sticks
  • Protein bars work great for non-perishable snacks, or bring a cooler for deli meat, yogurt, string cheese and water bottles
  • Preplan at restaurants you’ll be dining at- most restaurants will have their nutritionals online
  • Split portions at restaurants with someone else (they’re typically double the appropriate portion size)
  • “Would you like ‘fries’ with that?”- many fast food places offer the unhealthy option instead of asking ‘Would you like a side”. This is a marketing tactic to sell what is cheapest for them and usually the most unhealthy. Instead, opt for a side salad or fruit, not fried or fatty sides

Hotel Stay:

  • Preplan at restaurants you’ll be dining at- most restaurants will have their nutritionals online
  • Split portions at restaurant with someone else (they’re typically double the appropriate portion size)
  • Ask for a to-go container before even starting your meal and put half in the container to later refrigerate in the room
  • Make a stop at the local grocery store for healthy staples for your hotel mini fridge
  • Try to at least have breakfast in the hotel room; that way you have one healthy meal down to start your day
  • Make use of your coffee maker to heat water for Instant Oatmeal
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Fiber and Exercise

Fiber does all sorts of good things for the body, from preventing disease by cleaning out the GI tract to filling us up faster. But in relation to exercise, there is a better method to take when consuming fiber.

Let’s start off by defining fiber. Fiber is the polysaccharide found in plants that is not digested or absorbed in the small intestine. Overall, the daily intake of fiber should be between 25-35g for adults. However, the daily intake of fiber in the United States is about half that amount. Most nutrition experts agree that consuming too much fiber can result in discomfort and a great change in digestion, but overall is beneficial and rarely has adverse effects.

Before we get in to how fiber and exercise work together, it is important to know the two different kinds of fiber that do very different things. There is insoluble fiber and soluble fiber, referring to its solubility in water. Insoluble fiber stays relatively unchanged when coming in contact with fluids. Soluble fiber will dissolve or enlarge in water. This type of fiber binds to fat and cholesterol in the intestinal tract and delays transit time through the stomach and intestines. It is soluble fiber that helps promote satiety to help you feel full longer. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not readily dissolve in water, making it easier to pass through the GI tract intact and quickly, increase in volume and weight as it goes through. This helps to stimulate sliding-like contractions in the colon, helping to alleviate constipation.

The important thing before working out is to fuel up for the energy needed for the activity. Insoluble fiber from whole wheat sources helps give us the healthy carbohydrates our body needs, as well as the energy it needs. This fiber will also help alleviate digestive discomfort and bloat. Soluble fiber is better to take post workout, being that it slows the release of glucose into the system and helps prevent fat storage. When you are consuming soluble fiber post workout, be sure to get it in your diet within an hour of exercising. But when you just finished an extensive workout, a full, hearty meal may not be the best choice. Fiber-rich snacks would be a better grab within that first hour. A medium size apple with peanut butter or some flax and fruit oatmeal will help give you a few grams of soluble fiber along with protein.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, bran, nuts, soy, and vegetables. Opt for sources of whole grain instead of refined flour.
Soluble fiber is found in most fruits, beans, flax, and oats.  What’s important is that you spread your fiber intake out throughout the day instead of trying to get most of it in one meal. For example, you could shoot for roughly 8 grams at every meal and easily get a few grams in with every snack.

 

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Seasonal allergies and natural remedies

Ahhh summer’s finally here…sun is shinin, flowers are bloomin, grills are cookin, and noses are runnin. If you’re like the millions of other allergy sufferers out there, seasonal allergens can put quite the damper on your warm weather. Ready or not, they’re coming. And if you’re like me, meds are the last resort to recovery. Medication can temporarily ease your symptoms, but you eventually pay the price by taking them; figuratively and literally. Instead of helping your immune system build up a tolerance to the allergen, your body instead builds up a resistance to the medication. This means you’ll need larger and larger doses, until eventually your body isn’t even affected by the meds.

The definition of an allergic reaction is “an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful. [Allergens] all contain protein antigens that stimulate an antibody response. Histamine and other chemicals are released into the system, causing an inflammatory reaction.” Some people respond to these antigens and some lucky individuals don’t. For those of you noisy noses, we’ve got some at home cures.

You’ll be amazed by some of these natural allergy remedies that are just as good as the unnatural ones that come in a paper box.

Apple Cider Vinegar

What does this magic drink NOT do? From helping with weight loss to claims of killing cancer cells, it’s no surprise apple cider vinegar is known to help fight allergies. It’s said to help reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. Just be careful, it is acidic and can be rough on your stomach if taken in excess. Add just a teaspoon to eight ounces of water. A little goes a long way. If you simply can’t stand the bitterness, sometimes a little bit of honey helps it to go down better.

Hair Products

Beauty really is pain in this case. Pollen is a sticky little sucker and hair spray, gel, and other hair products attract it. If you must use these products, just be sure to wash your hair before you hit the pillow at night so you don’t transfer the allergen to your pillowcase and bed sheets. Your hair may be an allergy issue, but don’t forget about your four legged friend’s either. Perhaps it’s not your pooch you’re allergic to. If you get sniffly around certain dogs just during the warm seasons, it may not be an allergy to animals, but rather the pollen and other allergens they’re carrying on their fur. Make sure to wipe Fido down when he comes into the house, and especially if he’s sharing the bed with you at night.

Summer hats and sunglasses outside wouldn’t hurt either. Aside from being fashionable and protection from harmful rays, these will help keep the allergens out of your hair and eyes.

Lemon Peel

Citrus Peels (lemon, lime, and orange skins) are natural antihistamines and an anti-inflammatory. It provides allergy relief within minutes and the Vitamin C is an extra boost for your immune system.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint helps to clear up congestion, reduce inflammation, and even prevent infection with antibacterial properties. Plus, your breath gets to smell like Christmas in the middle of July. Echinacea can also be a great go-to drink during allergy season due to its immunity enhancing properties.

Spicy Foods

Speaking of appealing breath, spicy foods like wasabi, curry, hot peppers, and tabasco can help to fight off stuffy symptoms too. When your nose and eyes water after a spicy meal, there’s an actual chemical reaction going on. Capsaicin, an element found in these foods, helps your membranes to produce more mucus, causing natural drainage so those allergens can better find their way out.

Quercetin

A plant-derived compound called quercetin helps to stabilize mast cells, preventing them from releasing histamine. This element is known to contain anti-allergen, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-viral properties. It helps to clear your system of free radicals as well, which can cause cell damage as well as impair your immunity. Certain foods contain high amounts of quercetin, such as citrus fruits, apples, parsley, onions, lettuce, broccoli, and tomatoes.  It’s recommended to consume about 1,ooo mg a day to ward off allergies.

Hopefully in trying some of these natural cures, your allergy symptoms will lessen if not completely go away. Summertime will finally be spent for the things that make it so great, like water slides and barbecues instead of watery eyes and tissues. You couldn’t notice pollen if it hit you straight in the nose.

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