Let’s Try Meditation

Let’s Try Meditation

Our busy and hectic lives keep us constantly on the move through a stressful world. Regular stress reduction is a key part of living a healthy whole life. Meditation is one tool we can use to help us manage and move better through our busy lives.

Why do we need to work on stress reduction? Sure, we like to relax and unwind with a glass of wine or watching mindless tv. Those activities, while enjoyable, do not lower the impact of stress on the body. It is important to do planned regular stress reduction to help relieve our nervous system. Chronic stress can cause issues with the endocrine system, cardiovascular health, digestion, sexual/reproductive system, and immune system. Regular meditation can improve mood, concentration, sleep, pain, blood pressure and much more.

So, what is meditation? Meditation is a practice of focused consciousness or thought. During meditation, you clear your mind and let the world around you come and go without thinking about it. Meditation dates back thousands of years.  There are many types of meditation. Some commonly known types are guided meditation, mantra meditation and mindfulness meditation. Tai Chi and yoga are examples of physical meditation. Prayer, reading poems or sacred text are also considered to be meditation.

Meditation can be done anywhere. A fancy meditation room and a ton of time are not needed to get benefits from meditation. You literally can do it anywhere. Once during a stressful doctor’s visit, I did some breathing work (with the help of the Headspace app) while waiting on the doctor to come back into the exam room.  It immediately calmed me and lowered my anxiety in a stressful moment.

An easy way to start is to use an app like Headspace or Calm and follow their guided meditations. They give you all the how-to’s. Also,   click here for  instructions from the Chopra Meditation Center.

 

For more ideas and information, check out the resources below.

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

https://chopracentermeditation.com

Calm and Headspace Apps

Don’t be frightened of FRUIT!

Don’t be frightened of FRUIT!

Somewhere along the way with high protein diets and low sugar lifestyles, fruit has become something we have grown to be afraid of. I’ve had people tell me how they won’t touch a banana anymore because it has too much sugar.  But fruit is not an enemy and should be a part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

 

Fruits contain great amounts of fiber, vitamins that are hard to get in a regular diet (Vitamin C, folate, and potassium), plant compounds and antioxidants. Not to mention they are a convenient, satisfying food that is low calorie. A daily serving of fruit is 2- 2 ½ cups.

 

Eating fruit regularly can help with conditions like cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive/ gut issues, help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. And there is even research on fruit preventing obesity because overall it causes people to eat less over time due to its “high satiety” factors. Think about when you have that banana for a snack. It keeps you full for a longer period.

 

Fruit is a real, whole food that contains fructose (naturally occurring sugar). Some fruits have more fructose than others. Lower fructose fruits: bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. Higher fructose fruits: watermelon, apples, and grapes. For one to get harmful amount of fructose they’d have to eat a lot. Fruit is a “self-limiting” food because it is hard to eat too much. How many apples could you sit down and eat? I know my jaw gets tired after one!

 

 

Fruits are loaded with fiber and water and “chewing resistance”. That means it takes a while to eat them in turn, longer to digest. The sugar in fruit won’t hit your system as fast, unlike drinking sugary drinks (and alcohol) that hit your system, particularly your liver, quickly causing issues over time. In small, slow amounts, the body can process it easily and not feel that sugar spike.

 

When it comes to fruit, be cautious with juices and dried fruit. Fruit juice is high in sugar and low in fiber. Dried fruits are high in fiber but usually also high sugar. Watch the portion sizes of both juices and dried fruit, a little is ok.

 

Lastly, smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get your daily servings of fruit (and vegetables). They are convenient and a great option. To keep a smoothie on the healthier-low sugar side, watch a few things: read all the labels for frozen fruit, there could be added sugar. Use small amounts (or none) of fruit juice or mix 50/50 with water. If using yogurt, make sure it is no/low sugar. Smoothies made at home are the best choice because you can watch exactly what goes into them. Just because there is a “Smoothie” on the menu does not mean it is a healthy option. One commercially prepared smoothie on a menu of a popular lunch place has 50g of sugar!! Read nutritional labels when it comes to fruit.

 

Next time you are at the grocery, be sure to include a few fruits in your shopping. You’ll be happy to have them back in your life.

 

 

 

 

Resources:

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health#TOC_TITLE_HDR_9

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/is-too-much-fruit-bad-for-you#benefits-of-fruit

Sharma SP, Chung HJ, Kim HJ, Hong ST. Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity. Nutrients. 2016;8(10):633. Published 2016 Oct 14. doi:10.3390/nu8100633

How to make a yummy and filling smoothie!

How to make a yummy and filling smoothie!

Smoothies are a really easy way to get a lot of nutrients quickly and put your body back into balance. Smoothies can be satisfying and filling when made with a variety of good quality ingredients. Dr. Sears calls smoothies the “Sipping Solution” because fill in where diets are lacking nutrients, feeling too full or not full enough, and help blood sugar spikes. Plus, smoothies are a covenient meal on the go that will keep you from running through a drive thru!

For a filling and tasty smoothie, the key is finding a good mix of ingredients and not just have one without the other.

5 things to include in a smoothie:

  1. Healthy low or no sugar fluid– nut milks, low sugar juice, coconut water
  2. Healthy fats– avocado, nut butter, flaxseed, or chia
  3. Healthy proteins– plain Greek yogurt, nut butter, protein powder
  4. Healthy fruits AND greens
  5. Flavors and nutrients-cinnamon, wheat germ, shredded coconut, ginger, lemon,

Bonus: For added fiber- oats (put them in the blender first and grind until fine), date, figs

 

Tips for making a smoothie like the juice shop:

  1. Get a good blender- it doesn’t need to be $500 but one that has some power (I have a Breville that works great and is not too big).
  2. Stock up on organic frozen fruit (with NO added sugar- check the label)
  3. Use UNSWEETEND liquid- like a nut milk. Using juice? Mix 50/50 water.
  4. Plan to use more liquid than you think. I use about 1 cup of liquid in my smoothies. Add a little more as necessary to get the desired consistency.
  5. Ice- Using frozen fruit, don’t add ice. No frozen fruit, use just a little ice. Too much ice can make consistency too watery. Want to keep it cold while you drink, add one or two ice cubes AFTER you make the smoothie.
  6. Try a various protein powders, they are all different. Often you can get a small packet to try before committing to a large container.

 

Last words of advice… GET CREATIVE. Try out different ingredients. Get your family involved. Everyone can benefit from a nutrient packed smoothie.

 

My Favorite Smoothie: Nutty Fruit Smoothie

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

½ cup water

1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter

1 tablespoon flax seed

½- 1 cup blueberries

½ banana

1 cup of spinach

Blend until smooth (my blender has a smoothie button and it’s perfect!).

Pour into cute, insulated travel cup and tackle the day!

Training for Everyday Life

Training for Everyday Life

Why do we excercise? Weight loss, getting fit, or training for a sport come to mind. But what about training for everyday life?

 

I follow trainer Kira Stokes on social media.  She was asked about what she is training for (she’s very fit!) and her response was simple- for life. That has really stuck with me.  We spend so much time training or eating better for something- but what about a simpler reason- to feel our best and in balance everyday?  Strengthening ourselves with functional movement excercises can help.

 

The Mayo Clinic defines functional movement as exercises that “train your muscles to do everyday activities safely and efficiently”. These movements strengthen the muscles we use every day to carry groceries, lift laundry, go up and down stairs, pick things up off the ground, get up if we fall and the list goes on. Traditional strength training focuses on targeted groups of muscles. Strength and good balance are especially important as we age. Doing regular functional strength training can prevent injury and improve quality of life.

 

A few examples of exercises are standing rows, squats, getting up and down from chair and/or ground, and planks. Many workouts include these movements but there are also workout outs specifically for “functional movement”. The Apple watch even has a workout setting for functional movement.

 

Regular physical activity and movement is critical to overall good health.  It improves overall health and prevents chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression.

 

General excercise guidelines for adults are:

  • 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity (like walking)
  • 1 ¼ hours a week of vigorous intensity (aerobic, sweat inducing, can be combined with moderate)
  • strength training (like functional movement exercises)

It may sound like a lot but by breaking up workouts into shorter sessions spread throughout the week it is more manageable. And, set small goals to work towards.

Here’s an article that describes easy functional exercises to do at home:

https://www.self.com/story/what-functional-training-is-why-its-important

And with any exercise or eating program, ask your doctor if it is right for you.

 

 

 

Let’s Talk The Keto Diet

Let’s Talk The Keto Diet

This popular diet has taken off like so many others. Maybe you have a neighbor or a family member who swears by it or you’ve seen the many “keto friendly” products in the store.   In short, the Keto diet is a very low carb, high fat diet like the Atkins diet that was popular in the late 1990s. It focuses on eating very low amounts of carbs and high fat.   The Keto Diet (KD) was created as medical diet therapy for epilepsy in the 1920s. It has also been shown to be useful in the treatment of diabetes. There are multiple versions of the Keto diet, usually people try the Standard Keto Diet (SKD).   The basis of the diet is that it replaces carbohydrates with fats (not necessarily protein) which then sends the body into a state of “ketosis”. Ketosis is when your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates (glucose). The diet is often paired with intermittent fasting to get the body into a state of ketosis more quickly which can take a few days.   In the beginning one may feel irritability, fatigue, headaches, amongst other things (the “keto-flu”, Campos, 2018).   Benefits to this diet: it is an effective diet for short term weight loss and improved insulin resistance.   Downsides to the diet are that it is restrictive, not meant for long term, regain weight quickly once off the diet. If your goal is to build long lasting healthy habits, this is probably not the best choice due to its restrictive nature and focus on food choices versus holistic lifestyle choices.   Potential side effects of staying on the Keto diet long term are: increase in LDL cholesterol, macronutrient deficiencies, kidney stones, fatty liver, and low protein in the blood.   As with any eating plan or diet, do your research and think through how your lifestyle and goals will work with the plan. And most importantly, be sure to check with your doctor before starting anything new.   Resources: Wheless JW. History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2008 Nov;49 Suppl 8:3-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x. PMID: 19049574. Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2021 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/ https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet https://charliefoundation.org/diet-plans/ https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101#diabetes

10 Tips for How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

10 Tips for How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

 

10 Tips for How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Some of us are planning to travel soon and a trip is always exciting- especially this year. However, many times it can throw us off our healthy routines and we over-do it.

If we’ve been trying to “get in shape” for that trip, all of sudden our healthy choices go out the window as soon as the plane touches down.  It’s fun to indulge, but it can leave you not feeling so great. So here are some ideas so that you can enjoy and make healthier choices so you feel good too:

 

  1. Bring your own travel snacks.
    • Start out on the right foot and bring your own travel snacks. Pack your own balanced snack pack with protein, fruit, whole grains.
  2. Do I really love it or is it just there?
    • Sometimes we are eating something just because it’s there or because we HAVE to try the local favorites. But ask yourself, if you truly love it or are just eating it because it’s there? Sometimes a bite or two is enough.
  3. Do I need to have the Key Lime Pie every night at dinner?
    • I love dessert, but no reason to over-do it. Take a night off and you’ll enjoy it even more the next time. This also relates to #2, just because it’s there doesn’t mean you need to have it.
  4. Big dinners out.
    • Not every night has to be an elaborate dinner. Plan a night or two with some lighter meals.
  5. Make your own breakfast or lunch and include foods that are healthier options.
  6. Eat your fruits and vegetables.
    • Add them as your side instead of French fries, order salads, buy some fruit to snack on.
  7. Watch the alcohol.
    • It’s really easy to over-do drinking on vacation. Try having one less drink or a night off of cocktails. Then there are the fruity pool drinks which are yummy but full of sugar. Think about having 1 and then switch to something else lighter. OR…..
  8. Drink water! Bring your own water bottle and keep refilling it. Especially important to stay hydrated when flying.
  9. Plan to exercise. It’s a great time to try something new.
    • Plan walks or runs, look up the hotel’s fitness center, find a local place to take a workout class (I’ve tried classes all over- Miami, Chattanooga, London, San Diego, Aspen), try tennis or golf lessons. Think ahead so that you can plan and schedule if necessary. It’s also a great time to get a little “me time” to recharge!
  10. Rest and get good night’s sleep.

 

Bon Voyage!