Summertime is full of fun activities: picnics, pool parties, days at the beach, and family vacations give us the opportunity to get outside, enjoy nature and spend time with love ones. But summer fun can also lead to stress. Make sure you take 10-15 minutes every day to sit back and relax without distractions. Try this quick meditation to chill out and get your “me-time” fix:
Welcome to day 4 of our relax into the holidays series.
The holidays bring with them a myriad of things we need to get done: presents to buy, cookies to bake, reservations to make, places to be, projects to finish…
Thinking about all of these things can leave our minds a cluttered, muddled mess.
In keeping with this week’s theme of relaxing and clearing your mind, I am sharing an activity I like to do to get my thoughts under control and clear my monkey mind. It is more of an exercise than a traditional meditation, but I guarantee you will still feel more relaxed and mentally clear.
I love to do this exercise before bed to get my mind clear before going to sleep, but you can do it any time you need to clean the cobwebs out of your head.
For this exercise you will need paper, a pen/pencil, and a timer. Take your time and have fun!
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When working with clients (and even with myself), I find one of the biggest blockages to successfully achieving our goals is that we do not truly believe we deserve them.
Many of us seem to suffer from what I like to call, Who Do You Think You Are Syndrome.
For example, you say, “I want financial freedom” or “I want to be a millionaire.” But then you start thinking:
“Who do you think you are? You’re no Bill Gates!”
“Who do you think you are? You’re not smart, creative, well connected, etc. enough to become a millionaire.”
“Who do you think you are? Your family never had money.”
You want to lose some weight, but then those thoughts creep in:
“Who do you think you are? You’ve always been overweight.”
“Who do you think you are? Your whole family is fat.”
“Who do you think you are? You can’t exercise 3 days a week.”
Somewhere though our life we have created a belief that we don’t deserve to be wealthy, healthy, loved, happy, have a job we enjoy, and so on. So we dream big, but never achieve that dream because after all we don’t deserve it (or so we tell ourselves).
The best way I have found to start dissolving this belief is with a little exercise designed to remind us we are deserving of EVERYTHING we desire. Here’s how it works:
Every day for the next 2 weeks (or longer) set a timer for 3 minutes. During that 3 minute period write down everything you think you deserve, from the littlest molecule of oxygen to $100,000,000. Write down anything that pops into your head, don’t think about it and do not dismiss it. It came to you for a reason. You may find this exercise a little tough the first few days, especially if you have a significant case of Who Do You Think You Are Syndrome, but I assure you it will get easier each day.
To help you get started here are a few ideas:
- I deserve to be wealthy.
- I deserve to be loved.
- I deserve to live in a safe neighborhood.
- I deserve healthy food.
- I deserve the time to take care of myself
- I deserve to be happy.
- I deserve a Ferrari.
- I deserve respect.
- I deserve to treat others as I want to be treated.
- I deserve career I love.
Welcome to cold and flu season! This year is shaping up to be a doozy!
So what can you do to protect yourself and your family from getting sick?
Here are a few tips to keep you healthy this season:
- Wash your hands – Everything we touch is likely to have germs on it from the pen at the grocery store, to the treadmill at the gym, to your office keyboard. Prevent spreading these germs from place to place by washing your hands frequently and effectively. Wash your hands with hot water and soap (it does not need to be antibacterial) for at least 20 seconds to ensure your have removed all germs from your skin. And while we are talking about your hands, keep them away from your nose, mouth, and eyes as this is the primary way germs enter the body.
- Take a probiotic – While probiotics are often thought of as being solely for the digestive system a good probiotic can stimulate the immune system as well. Puretrim’s SyngeryDefense or Global Healing Center’s Latero-Flora both contain probiotics to support the immune system.
- Go for a run – or engage in some other form of aerobic exercise. The increased blood flow sends disease fighting cells through the body at a faster rate allowing the cells to “find and destroy” illness causing germs sooner. An increase in breathing rate can help flush germs from the lungs preventing respiratory illnesses. Finally, the temporary increase in body temperature can prevent the overgrowth of bacteria in the body. Aim for 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise 3-4 days per week.
- Eat your fruits and veggies – Phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes have been shown to increase activity of T-cells which fight off disease as well as help protect lymphocytes from damage keeping the immune system working at optimum levels. Adding citrus fruits, oregano, berries, dark leafy greens, tea (black or green), apples and walnuts to a healthy diet plan will provide the phytonutrients necessary to support your immune system.
- Stay away from sick people – Encourage friends, coworkers and family to stay home while they are sick, especially if they have a fever, to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that cause colds and the flu. If you do come in contact with someone who is ill advise them to cough or sneeze into a tissue to prevent germs from congregating on their hands.
- Don’t recycle – Reduce, recycle, reuse is great for laundry bottles and ketchup jars but not for tissues. Use a tissue once then throw it way. Don’t keep it in your pocket or sleeve to use again later. This will keep germs from spreading from your pocket, to your hands, to the door handle at the bank.
- Get your beauty sleep – Sleep deprivation decreases the levels of T-cells in the blood while increasing inflammation causing cytokines both of which have a negative effect on the immune system. While everyone’s need for sleep is slightly different try to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Try adding colloidal silver to your supplement plan – For centuries silver has been used to fight infections due to bacteria, viruses and fungi. It was used as an antibiotic prior to the introduction of prescription antibiotics as well as an antiseptic for wounds. Silver interrupts the life cycle of pathogens thereby preventing them from reproducing and causing illness. Colloidal silver is available in various strengths and dosage instructions should be followed to prevent a side effects including argyria which results in the skin or eyes turning blue or grey. It can also impact the effectiveness of prescription medications such as thyroid medications and prescription antibiotics. For more information on colloidal silver visit Global Healing Center’s blog page.
Through proper diet, exercise and rest as well as washing your hands and paying attention to what you touch you can keep your immune system strong and stay healthy and happy this cold and flu season.
The holiday season officially starts next week. If you are like most people your social calendar is already bursting with parties, gift exchanges and volunteering commitments not to mention shopping, wrapping, cooking and decorating. All of these responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious as well as interrupt your daily routine sending your health and holiday sprit into a tailspin. However, with some preparation and focus you can stay on track and enjoy the season.
Here are a few tips to keep you happy and healthy through this holiday season:
1- Eat 4 to 6 small meals during the day rather than saving up for that one big holiday party meal.
Eating smaller more frequent meals stimulates your metabolism helping you burn more calories all through your day. In addition, eating throughout the day keeps blood sugar levels stable and helps prevent you from binging later in the day because your body will not “think” it is starving.
2- Eat before leaving for a holiday get together
You are less likely to overindulge on high calorie foods at the party if you are already full so before leaving home have a snack made up of broth-based low sodium soups, vegetables, fruit or even some lean protein.
3- Plan your workout just before a big meal or holiday party
Enjoying some of those holiday delicacies won’t seem as bad if you have just finished a tough workout. In fact, you will need the carbohydrates to help with recovery especially if your session was within 1-2 hours of the get together. Just remember protein from that turkey, salmon or prime rib is important for recovery as well but skip the fat laden sauces and gravies. Plus, your metabolism is more efficient after an exercise session so your body is better at burn the calories from your party indulgences. Also, sticking with your workout routine will help you alleviate some of the stress associated with the holiday season.
4- Be aware of liquid calories
It is very easy to forget that what we drink can significantly increase our caloric intake. Alcohol, mixers, and even after dinner coffee drinks can add hundreds of calories to our daily intake without our realizing it.
Here are a few examples:
- 12oz Light Beer – 100 calories
- 4oz Glass Red Wine – 85 calories
- 8.5oz Vodka and Tonic – 147-170 calories (depending on type of vodka)
- 1oz Scotch (single malt) – 69 calories
- 1.3oz. Bailey’s with coffee – 120 calories
As you can see 2 or 3 drinks can really add up especially over the course of a few parties. If you must have more than 1 drink opt for lower calorie options or choose mixers with less calories such as diet tonic water or flavored seltzer waters which are generally calorie free and artificial sweetener free.
5-Take a “tour” of the buffet tables before picking up a plate
Most holiday get togethers will be buffet style or have several tables of food placed around the event. Before you grab a plate and start loading up take a walk around the tables and survey the edible options. Pick out which foods you absolutely must try and which ones you would be happy to do without. Then narrow your “must haves” down to 3-4 items. Serve yourself a modest serving of each and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables and raw fruit.
6-Don’t mingle around the food
The more you stand around chatting at the by the food the more likely you are to unconsciously nibble on snacks without realizing how much you are eating. Instead, choose a few items and then suggest to your companion that you move to somewhere you can talk without being “in the way.”
The hectic schedule of holiday parties and shopping can make it difficult to ensure you are drinking enough water. On average, you should drink at least 8-10, 8oz. glasses of water every day. Water can help you eat less by making you feel full and can help counteract the effect of water weight gain caused by the salty, sugary and fatty foods that are common during the holidays. Also, dehydration can result in lowered blood volume. The lower blood volume forces the heart and other organs to work harder and less efficiently making you feel tired and sluggish. Drinking plenty of water keeps the heart and organs working at optimal levels.
8-Schedule some time in your day to relax and regroup
The frantic pace this time of year can leave you feeling harried and off your game. Setting aside time each day to relax and breathe can help you refocus your attention to your goals as well as help you let go of some built up stress. Allow yourself 10-20 minutes to meditate, take a walk, or do some simple stretches to clear your mind and get the energy flowing in your body.
9-Get your priorities straight
While out Griswolding your neighbors’ Christmas decorations may sound like a worthy endeavor is it really more important than spending time with your family or your friends? It can be difficult to decline invitations for parties and outings this time of year particularly if they come from employers or coworkers, however it is important to remember that you need to take care of yourself. Don’t get so consumed with socializing, shopping, cooking and volunteering that you lose track of what is important to you. Try making a list or a journal entry of what the holidays mean to you, what makes them special, fun or important. Your thoughts or list can become your personal holiday mission statement that you can focus on and follow to keep yourself feeling happy and calm all season.
10-Get a good night sleep
You may be tempted to cut your sleep time short during this time of year to get more done, but this can cause more harm than good. Getting a full night’s sleep, 7-8 hours, has been shown to improve memory, concentration, creativity and improve mood. In addition, getting enough sleep is good for your heart, reduces the stress hormone cortisol and helps reduce inflammation.
With a little forethought and planning you can make this holiday season a happy and healthy one. By making smart choices about what and when to eat, scheduling time for yourself and to exercise daily, getting plenty of rest and focusing on what is truly important to you, you can avoid the stress, anxiety and physical ailments commonly associated with the holiday season.
For many years, the health and wellness community has been encouraging people to switch from eating the traditional white potato to the more nutritious sweet potato. Everywhere you look sweet potatoes are taking over the menu. From sweet potato french fries, to sweet potato au gratin and mashed sweet potatoes these yellow and orange tubers are taking over the potato world.
What is it about the sweet potato that has garnered it this new status as a nutritional powerhouse?
Sweet potatoes contain several vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium and iron. These micronutrients are crucial to maintaining health and preventing disease.
How can sweet potatoes improve your health:
1. Reduce the risk of heart disease – Vitamin B6 in sweet potatoes helps to reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to hardening of the arteries and increased risk of heart attack. Potassium in sweet potatoes can help regulate fluid levels in the body and reduce blood pressure.
2. Help control blood sugar – Despite the name, sweet potatoes are low in natural sugars. As a result they have little impact on blood sugar allowing it to stay level rather than rising and falling. In the long term a spike in blood sugar and the resulting insulin response can lead to diabetes in some individuals. The fiber content of sweet potatoes helps slow intestinal absorption rate and further assist in keeping blood sugar levels stable and the mineral manganese aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates which also keeps blood sugar levels in line.
3. Fight cancer – Vitamin A, also known as beta carotene, gives the sweet potato its yellow-orange color. One serving of sweet potato can have as much as 400% of your daily requirement of vitamin A. Vitamin A is known as a powerful antioxidant that has been shown in numerous studies to help prevent prostate, breast, ovarian and colon cancers. It is also known that vitamin A protects the skin from the sun’s rays by both repairing old damage and protecting new skin cells.
4. Support the immune system – Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin C which helps fight infections like colds and the flu and the iron content in sweet potatoes also helps support the immune system by helping produce red and white blood cells.
5. Promote vision – The high levels of Vitamin A in sweet potato are beneficial to eye health. A deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to poor night vision and macular degeneration. Vitamin A also helps the surface of the eye block bacteria and infection. Vitamins C and E are also powerful antioxidants that support eye health.
6. Aid in weight loss – It may sound strange to say that eating potatoes can help you lose weight however sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to a weight loss plan for several reasons. Because they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels sweet potatoes will prevent blood sugar spikes that cause body to release high amounts of insulin and ultimately store fat. The fiber in sweet potatoes slows digestion making you feel fuller and more satiated longer than processed foods. The naturally sweet taste satisfies the desire for a sweet treat and can prevent binging on sugary snacks.
7. Reduce stress – The vitamins and minerals in sweet potatoes are terrific for helping to reduce stress. To learn more about how sweet potatoes can help you manage both psychological and physiological stresses sign up for my newsletter at www.getfitnews.net and get my FREE report “10 Foods to Help Reduce Stress”.
Sweet potatoes will only provide you with their many benefits if you prepare them in a healthy way. Boiling, baking or stir frying sweet potatoes are the best ways to take advantage of their nutrients.
Try this delicious stir fried sweet potato recipe:
2lbs sweet potatoes, washed, and cubed into 1/4” pieces
3 teaspoons rice bran oil or other stir fry oil
3-4 tablespoons water
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat with 3 teaspoons of oil.
-Once pan is hot add the sweet potatoes and stir to lightly coat the potatoes with the oil in the pan.
-Continue to stir fry the potatoes until tender and golden brown. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time as the pan gets dry to prevent the potatoes from sticking or burning.
-Once the potatoes have begun to soften add the minced ginger and stir fry along with the potatoes.
-When the potatoes are done sprinkle with the cloves and nutmeg and toss.
Serve as a side dish with roasted chicken, lettuce-wrapped turkey burgers or a salmon salad.
There is no doubt about it, we all lead stressful lives. Work, family, finances, traffic, even the television shows we watch contribute to our daily stress levels. All of these little stresses can take a toll on our bodies leaving us tired, irritable, unable to concentrate and even open us up to illness. However, there are ways to reduce the physical and mental effects of stress. Diet can play a big part in helping to manage the physiological effects of stress and some foods perform better than others.
Here are a few foods that top the list of stress busters:
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale or swiss chard contain magnesium and B vitamins both of which assist in the reduction of stress. Magnesium is necessary to help the body burn sugars for energy, calm the cells during periods of stress and is essential in the release and reabsorption of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for positive mood. In addition, low levels of B vitamins, such as B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12, have been linked to depression and anxiety.
Dark leafy greens also contain a variety of antioxidants to help reduce the impact of environmental stressors like pesticides, pollution and other toxins.
When it comes to reducing stress, avocados are truly a superfood. Avocados have more folate (Vitamin B9) than any other fruit. In addition, avocados are rich in magnesium, B vitamins and Vitamin E all of which are important in helping to reduce stress levels. Consider that they are rich in monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids and avocados become a stress reducing rockstar. Just a 1/4 of an avocado is all you need to receive the relaxing benefits.
Almonds are also a terrific stress reducer containing B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Zinc is required to make serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter we talked about earlier. These nutrients can be depleted in times of high stress. As an extra bonus the monounsaturated fats in almonds can help raise HDL levels, balance blood sugar and support metabolism. They are still a fat so don’t enjoy too much of a good thing. You can also find B vitamins, magnesium and zinc in other nuts like walnuts, cashews and pecans.
Nuts contain Vitamin E which is an antioxidant force to be reckoned with.
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, and sardines contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show a depletion of fatty acids in the brain can be related to anxiety disorders. Also, the ingestion of Omega-3s improves communication between the nerve cells which can help reduce stress in the body. Additionally, oily fish are a good source of magnesium. Consider the cardiovascular benefits derived from these fish and now you have another reason to add them to your diet. Use them sparingly to prevent consuming too much mercury.
Don’t like fish? Try flaxseed or nuts instead.
Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains and even sweet potatoes help the brain produce serotonin. Along with improving mood, serotonin stimulates concentration and focus which can become disrupted in times of stress. Whole grains contain B vitamins and Vitamin E to help fend off free radicals and sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene another antioxidant champion.
Round out a stress busting meal with asparagus, berries, citrus fruits, seaweed and lean sources of protein like grass-fed beef or chicken.
And of course don’t forget dessert.
Dark chocolate helps reduce levels of stress hormones in the body including cortisol and catecholamines. Also, dark chocolate has the double benefit of containing serotonin and aiding the body in producing more serotonin. It also contains magnesium. The darker the better to avoid the excess fat and sugar of the lighter chocolates. Remember to enjoy it in small amounts to avoid the stress of weight gain.
Combining a healthy diet with exercise and mediation are excellent ways to diminish the stress of your everyday life and make you happier and healthier too.