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Thursday
Jul302015

This is Your Body on Stress

Do you struggle with lack of energy, inability to sleep through the night, poor memory or inability to lose weight no matter what you try?

One of the most common causes behind these popular complaints is the infamous 6 letter word - STRESS! In fact, up to 90% of medical visits are for stress related problems.

Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 feeling overwhelmed or overcommitted), how stressed do I feel?”

Americans have mastered the process of pushing pedal to the metal from the time they roll out of bed in the morning until they collapse in bed at night. In fact, if we let off the gas, we often feel guilty as if we’re lazy or self-indulgent. Over time, however, we can become out of touch with what should be normal (i.e. unstressful) for our bodies and mistake the usual routine for genuine health when optimum well-being actually looks (and feels) much different than what we’re used to. Today, I’ll share with you types of stressors, many hidden or unknown, their impacts on our bodies and minds, and personalized strategies to help manage stress.

 

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Tuesday
Jul282015

5 Fitness Trends Worth Trying

As helpful as a regular exercise routine can be, sometimes we benefit from shaking things up.

At times, it's a matter of rebooting our motivation with some sorely-needed novelty. Other times, we're looking to bust through a fitness plateau by offering our bodies new varieties of input.

The great thing about fitness is there's always something to match every physical goal or personal preference.

Wherever you are in your fitness journey, let yourself explore the immense array of exercise options - those you're familiar with and those you've maybe never even heard of! Observe fitness classes, talk to club trainers, and consider these recent trends for giving your program the boost it needs! 

 

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Sunday
Jul262015

12 Mindless Habits That Undo Your Weight Loss

We have the best intentions for our transformation journey and maybe even well laid plans. Yet, the devil is often in the unconscious details.

In fact, it can be surprising how small choices we don't even notice can creep in and undermine our results.

What patterns might be derailing your progress? Read on to see which habits you might recognize in your routine. 

Eating in Your Car

Your morning is crazy as you rush between daycare/school drop-offs and traffic. It only seems natural to take advantage of the commute time to scarf down the breakfast bar (or fast food sandwich) you had time to grab along with your morning coffee. You’re mindful of keeping the car neat, but what about your eating plan?

However common the scenario is, eating in our vehicles not only sets us up for poor meal decisions (too often convenience or drive-thru food) but also disengages us from our hunger and satiety signals (as we focus on the road!). The end result is mindless and rushed eating – not optimal for weight loss.

When eating, try to be in the least distractive setting possible so you can focus on enjoying your meal, chewing your food and staying in tune with your hunger and fullness cues. Try waking up a little bit earlier in the morning (if you go to bed on time!) to give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes for a real food, real sit down breakfast.  

Skipping Meals

You are go-go-go at work, often running from meeting to meeting and rarely at your desk for the opportunity to collect your thoughts. The pace makes your day goes fast, but you often get to mid afternoon (if not the end of the day) and realize you completely missed lunch.

Although intermittent fasting has been shown to be a useful method for some people on a weight loss journey, for others unconsciously skipping meals can stress our performance and energy at work, as well as lead to overconsumption of food later in the day when we finally realize we’re hungry.

If you often miss a meal, make a contingency plan. Keeping a jug of protein or meal replacement powder at work can be an effective tool for some who have a face-paced schedule, while others may simply need to observe a true, “non-desk” lunch break in their work calendars.   

Rewarding Your Workout

You just finished a high-intensity group fitness class. You worked so hard, in fact, that you went through two sweat towels and are now starving. Suddenly, the time it takes to drive home and make a meal feels too long to wait. 

Although exercise is an integral part of a weight loss program, it’s not the entirety of it. Often, many of us have the wrong mindset and work out so we can eat a certain way or reward a hard workout with poor nutrition because we feel we deserve it. 

The truth holds, however, that you can’t outwork your fork! Those poor food choices can far outweigh the effort and energy burned in the prior workout. 

Instead, focus on exercise as a means to improve your health and to support a healthy body – not as permission to eat a certain way. The 80/20 rule for eating serves as an effective tool for many – and allows for some indulgences here and there for a sustainable path of healthy living.

Skipping Your Workouts

You forget to pack your gym bag one day and decide to attend a work happy hour the next day. It’s now Friday, and you realize you haven’t exercised one time this week. While everyone could use a recovery day now and then, skipping out on your routine can quickly undo any good you’ve done.

Although sleep and good nutrition are integral pieces of a weight loss journey, exercising on a regular basis can be just as important. And most people who do regularly exercise will tell you they have more energy those days and are more likely to make better decisions around their nutrition and other habits. 

If you find yourself mindlessly skipping or forgetting workouts, you may be bored with your current routine or in need of some motivation. Challenge yourself to try a new class or even engage a workout buddy (or coach) who will be depending on your arrival at the gym.

Staying up Too Late

The kids are finally in bed, the kitchen is cleaned up from dinner, and you are now a free bird to do anything you want without interruption - including catching up on your favorite television show, online searching and shopping, etc.  

You rarely get time for yourself, and the routine often leads you to stay up until midnight despite the 5:00 a.m. wake-up call on the backend. That decision translates to not enough sleep and no good for any weight loss plan.  

As much as it can be overwhelming to work, be a parent, and have time for yourself, it’s critical to prioritize sleep as much as you can. This may mean setting a bedtime and limiting the amount of “me time” you have at night before bed. You’ll not only send the right signals to your body and your metabolism but also support your energy to perform all the healthy habits that come with your journey.  

Sitting At Work

You’re a desk jockey, often glued to your chair as you stare at a screen all day. You go to meetings that require you to get up and move to find a conference room, but you end up sitting throughout the duration of those sessions as well. 

Sitting and sedentary behavior is brutally harming our metabolism. Even if you work out for an hour each and every day, all those hours of sitting still have the biggest impact on how your body manages your hormonal and metabolic responses. The result? You could definitely be sabotaging your long-term health and weight loss plan.

Find ways to move throughout the day, including standing up at your desk every twenty minutes to break up the monotony. Consider getting an activity monitor so you can track your typical movement and have a starting point to improve upon. During meetings, stand up and walk around the room if you can, and encourage others to join you.

Going for 2-for-1s

Maybe soaking up summer on the patio of your neighborhood pub is your social group’s activity of choice. Perhaps attending happy hours are highly encouraged at your place of work to encourage team building and time together out of the office.  

Happy hours (especially during patio season) can support our social well-being as they promote people coming together to relax and have fun. But they can also promote overconsumption of alcoholic beverages. Regular alcohol consumption can not only hamper our gut/digestive health but can also impact our quality of sleep, which in turn affects our metabolism.

If happy hours are regular promoted events at your workplace, or you’re often using them to engage with friends and family, limit the number of drinks you consume (e.g. one) or stick to water (e.g. soda water with lime), and focus more on the social interaction.

Shortchanging Water Intake

You make an effort to get enough sleep every night and have ample amounts of snacks and meals throughout the day to support your plan and metabolism. Nonetheless, you still find yourself dragging during the day and often feeling hungry.

Dehydration can be a major contributor to how we function and feel during the day and, thus, get in the way of our weight loss goals. Symptoms of dehydration include hunger and fatigue, which can lead to other poor choices.

Focus on getting at least the generic 8 cups (or 64 ounces) each day. For optimal intake, gradually work up to half your weight in ounces. Keep a water bottle at your desk to encourage intake, and make a goal to drink a cup or two each morning when you wake up as well as before dinner to spread your intake throughout the day. 

Spoiling Your Dinner

You get home from work and are starving. Without even thinking, you immediately open up your pantry and start snacking on some crackers or chips “to tide you over” as you start preparing dinner.

Unplanned snack foods in response to hunger can often sabotage your entire day’s effort of healthy eating. Not only can it lead to overconsumption of these foods, but it can also make you too full to finish (or even attempt) that awesome healthy dinner you intended to put together.

Instead, plan a late afternoon snack that you consume before you end the work day (or in between lunch and dinner time) to help keep your energy stable and your hunger at bay until it’s actually dinner time.

Social Media Suck

You’re in a waiting room for an appointment and have some time to burn. You instantly grab your cell phone and start scrolling your Instagram and Facebook feeds to see what’s interesting.

Social media is a huge part of our lives today, and although it keeps us connected to family and friends, it often encourages distraction and wasted time. In fact, it’s been estimated that the average person spends over two hours on social media each day! Think what you could do with that time?

If you have extra time to waste or need a cure for boredom, use your smart phone to search healthy recipes or workouts that will promote your weight loss efforts. Use apps that remind you to act on healthy choices throughout the day and that support your efforts.

Online Surfing in Bed

The lights are out, your teeth are brushed, and you are in bed on time. But…you then stay up checking deals online or scrolling your social media feeds. 

Exposure and stimulation from artificial or blue light right before bedtime can impact your body’s ability to fall or stay asleep, which in turn can impact your metabolism and weight loss efforts.

Instead, try to avoid browsing your phone or watching television before you get into your nighttime routine. Some best practices include cutting off television and screen time 2 hours before bedtime, wearing blue-light blocking glasses in the evening and making a rule of no cell phones in bed!

Thanks for reading. Are you interested in more ideas and support around shifting your routine toward healthier behaviors? Talk with a weight loss coach, fitness professional or registered dietitian today. 

In health, Anika Christ – Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

Enclosure

Thursday
Jul232015

5 Factors That Influence Gut Health

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans suffers from gut health issues of some kind.

The human gut (a.k.a. intestinal tract) is the most populated ecosystem in nature and one of the most critical factors in our health!

Our gut bacteria stimulate the development of the immune system, help digest food, regulate bowels, produce certain vitamins and protect against infection. In fact , it was recently referred to as a “super organ” due to its diverse roles in health and disease prevention.

When the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut is disrupted, we’re at higher risk for a range of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies and cancer.

Disease risk aside, gut health can influence our metabolic function and basic well-being. For many of my clients, it wasn’t until they got their gut health in check through dietary and lifestyle changes that they realized what feeling truly “normal” and healthy was like. Check out the following 5 factors (among many!) that influence our gut health.

 

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Tuesday
Jul212015

12 Tips to Boost Healthy Food Flavor

When we adopt the Healthy Way of Eating, we leave behind the world of high-octane, processed food products - and the distorted effects they've left on our taste buds. We learn to appreciate the natural flavor of real food.

The fact is, once we settle into a new routine of cooking, the creativity starts to unfold. Experimentation in the kitchen leads to variety. Exploration opens up a whole new world of options. Fresh, natural food becomes more satisfying. We even begin to prefer it actually.... 

Pretty soon, we look back and can’t understand why we let ourselves miss out on genuinely good food for so long.

But what does the transition from store-bought packaged products to succulent home cooking look like? Check out these simple cooking choices that enhance healthy food's natural flavor. 

 

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Sunday
Jul192015

What to Eat When…

In the course of our established routines, we may do well in sticking with our Healthy Way of Eating intentions. 

Until an unexpected situation throws us for a loop....

What you do during these scenarios over time will determine your success because it's critical to have a mindset - perhaps even more than a plan - that seeks out the healthiest options possible within every situation. 

Check out these eight scenarios for tips on how to maintain your goals during typical "problem" times.

 

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Thursday
Jul162015

7 Must-Have Tech Tools for Weight Loss

Support for a weight loss journey can mean much more than the people you have in your corner (as important and appreciated as they are!).

Consider the motivational messages, the helpful information and the practical tools that can spur our progress and make the weight loss process easier and more efficient.

Among them are the tech tools that are quickly becoming standard in the health and fitness realm.

We certainly look to technology for so much else these days - why not weight loss? Smart strategy means embracing all the support we can get along the way - "tech support" included.

Check out 7 tech tools I recommend for my clients' weight loss and transformation journeys. 

 

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