How to Feel Younger

Our health is one of our most valuable assets.  When we’re healthy, we can spend higher quality time with our loved ones, can move around easily, and enjoy going out and having fun.  When we’re feeling under the weather, or have been living an unhealthy lifestyle, it’s difficult to find the motivation to do anything.

Perhaps you were in great shape in the past, but over the course of a few months, or years, your health has started to slip.  How do you go about getting healthy and feeling younger?  Use these simple strategies to put a smile back on your face and add that spring back into your step.

Adjust your Posture

It sounds simple, but even just sitting with better posture will change the way your body feels.  Straighten your back, pull your shoulders back, and keep your head up.  Learn to get in the habit of paying attention to your posture throughout the day.  To get started, it’s helpful to stand against a wall and flatten your back against it.  It’s ok if it’s difficult at first.  After years of bad posture, you’re retraining your body to maintain the form it’s made to be in.

meditation

Get Moving and Increase Mobility

Even if you aren’t an athlete, it’s important to move around each day to get the blood flowing.  Take a walk around the neighborhood.  Walk up and down a few flights of stairs.  Do air squats in the comfort of your own living room.  By getting daily exercise, you improve your circulation, heart health, digestion, and strength.  Exercise is one of the absolute best things you can do for your body to look and feel younger.

Socialize Every Day

Humans are social animals.  For our entire history, we’ve lived in communities where we have regular interaction with our peers.  In this day and age, it’s easy to live an isolated lifestyle and go through the usual daily routine.  Even if your friends and loved ones don’t live nearby, make it a point to get out and socialize every day.  Start by making small talk with the people around you.  Strike up a conversation with someone while waiting in line at the grocery store.  When in doubt, ask questions.  People love talking about themselves, and asking a question is a sure way to get the conversation going.

socializing

Eat a Healthy Diet

The food we eat directly affects the way that we feel.  When we eat a diet full of sugar, processed carbs, preservatives, and and chemicals, it leads to weight gain, moodiness, and poor health.  On the other hand, when our diet is full of vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats, our body is able to repair itself.  We feel younger, look fitter, and grow stronger.

Feed your Body What It’s Missing

Go and get a blood test.  Often times, when we feel sluggish, it may be the result of micronutrient deficiencies.  It’s amazing how quickly you start to feel young again when your body has the proper balance of nutrients.  There’s no magic pill, or end-all-be all, but starting with a blood test will show you what’s healthy, and where you need to make improvements.

Practice Daily Gratitude

There’s an ancient Zen philosophy, that says “learn only to be content.”  It’s the secret to lifelong happiness.  Be content with what you have, rather than focused on what you want.  Practice gratitude by saying three things that you’re thankful for every day.  They can be simple.  I’m grateful for the great weather.  I’m thankful for a cup of coffee in the morning.  I’m thankful for my loving family.  See how easy that is?

gratitude

beef stew

The Saturday Smoothie – Digital Detoxing, Skipping Breakfast, and Fitness Competition

Welcome to the latest edition of the Saturday Smoothie! This week, we’ve got a ton of ideas for you to check out, including digital detoxing, calorie restriction, and intermittent fasting. As always, if you have any questions or comments on these, send us a note.

Taking a Digital Detox for Health Benefits

Getting Back in Shape After Fifty

How many times do you check your phone each hour?  When was the last time you went a full day without using any electronics?  We’re so plugged into our technology nowadays, sometimes it’s healthy to take a break from our devices.  It sounds tough, but the effort is well worth it.  Make a day, a weekend, or even a full week, and enjoy the benefits of taking the time to unplug.

Calorie Restriction is Key for Weight Loss

beef stew

A healthy lifestyle is all about balance.  Exercise is important, and has incredible health benefits. But, if weight loss is what you’re after, it all happens in the kitchen.  Our food choices are the most important factor in terms of controlling our weight.  Read this article to find out why healthy food choices are really the key to managing the number you read on the scale.

Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight

coffee

Skip breakfast!?  I thought it was the most important meal of the day!  It’s something that we’re all told, but the science doesn’t necessarily back it up.  Consider using an intermittent fasting style of eating, there are numerous benefits. You’ll lose weight, increase productivity, and balance hormones.  Even better, it’s actually a whole lot easier than you think!

Read it here:

Compete for More Fitness Motivation

parking lot

When was the last time YOU competed in a fitness competition?  Weightlifting, running, or dancing, perhaps?  Entering and participating in a competition is a great way to kick start your fitness, and get your health back on track.  Check out these incredibly inspiring After Fifty’s.  You can see the joy emanating from their faces!

Digital Detox – How to Unplug from your Technology

The most present, calm, grounded, and centered I’ve ever felt was years ago on a 30-day backpacking trek through the Indian Himalayas. There’s an analogy my fellow backpackers and I regularly discussed.  Because of modern technology, our attention is pulled in so many directions.  It’s as if there are a dozen or more TVs that are constantly playing in the back of your mind.  One of them may be worries about work, another about finances, one for relationships, and they’re all competing for our attention.  The constant concerns and can get downright exhausting!  But, when you give your body and mind the opportunity to unplug from the constant digital distraction, these TVs shut off one by one.

computer

Taking Back Control of Your Thoughts

After a week, many of your worries have fallen by the wayside.  You’re calm, present, centered, and focused on the now.  It’s a truly liberating feeling when all of your attention is on the present moment.  The mental chatter that characterizes your day-to-day has been silenced, and you’re in control of your thoughts.  It offers you a fresh perspective on life, can improve your attention span, and foster creativity. Above all else, it adds a much-needed calmness amongst the chaos of the day-to-day grind.
Perhaps a 30 day long trek without technology and electronics is a bit extreme.  For the near future maybe it’s out of the question.  The good news is everyone can take a quick digital detox, large or small.  Try taking a digital detox to experience the benefits of unplugging from technology, your mind and body will thank you.  Use these tips to get started.

Start Small.

Many people nowadays have trouble being away from their devices for even an hour.  Some of us even experience phantom rings, where we feel a vibration in our pockets, only to find there’s no new notification and the vibration was just our imagination.  Give yourself a break by going just one evening without your phone, computer, iPad, and television.  Turn off the notifications from all of your apps, so when you do use your tech, it won’t be pulling your attention away from the task at hand.
small ladybug

Go a whole day.

That’s right, 24 hours without the use of technology.  No computer, phone, tablet, podcast, or television.  If you’re worried your life and world may come crumbling down, give your friends, loved ones, and family a heads up that you’ll be unplugging for the day.  Try getting outdoors and in nature.  Go for a hike, walk in the park, or somewhere away from the constant electronic distraction.

Detox for a weekend.

 Going a whole two days without technology may seem daunting, but it’s much easier than it sounds. Notify the people you care about you’ll be unplugging for the whole weekend, and give them a way to reach you in case of an emergency.  Shut down the laptop, unplug the router, and turn your phone on airplane mode.  Grab a book, get outdoors, or get back in touch with your creative side.  It may feel uncomfortable the first few hours, but make it a priority to focus on being present with whatever you’re doing.

Digital detox vacation.

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To really experience the benefits of unplugging, schedule a vacation for a few days.  If you’re up for it, try taking a week or more where you’ll go off the grid.  Hiking, backpacking, relaxing on the beach, or exploring a new city – the destination doesn’t matter.  Leave the electronics at home, notify your loved ones you’ll be unreachable, and set your out-of-office responder.  If it puts your mind at ease, give your loved ones the contact info of the hotel or accommodations where you’re staying.  That way, if they really need to, they can still get in touch.  Use the time away from technology as a chance to reconnect with the outdoors, your creative side, and take stock of your life and obligations.  When we unplug for an extended period of time, it enables us to look at our lives and the direction they’re going with a fresh perspective.
Above all else, technology should be a complement to our lives, and should add value, not distraction.  When you find yourself anxious to be away from your devices for more than a couple hours, ask yourself a question.  Are you controlling your technology, or is it controlling you?

Getting Back in Shape After Fifty – A Complete Guide

Getting back into shape is an exciting time.  Just envisioning walking or running around with minimal fatigue or pain can be invigorating.  How many times have you thought to yourself, “if only I had the flexibility, strength, or mobility that I had ten years ago, everything would be so much better.”  Well guess what, you can!paddleboarding

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  This same wisdom applies to health and fitness.  Of course it’s optimal to always live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, but if that hasn’t been the case for the past month, year, or decade, you have the power to make a change.  Now is the time to make a change.

Understanding Willpower as a Finite Resource

On your fitness journey, it’s essential that you understand the difference between willpower and habit. It will make your life so much easier.

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Using Willpower to Get Back in Shape

There’s nothing quite like taking your pair of running shoes or workout gear on it’s first training session.  You’ve been reading health and fitness articles for weeks, perhaps you even made the painstaking decision to sign up for your first 5k as a motivator to get back in shape, and now you’re ready to go out on the first training session.

It’s an exciting time, no doubt.  Chances are you’ll remember those first few workouts in your newfound training program for weeks and months to come.  Maybe you’re not even preparing for an event, but are training so you can move around with youthful vigor and spend higher quality time with your loved ones. Envisioning living life without the day-to-day pains that have crept up over the years can provide you with the energy to make great progress with your fitness.

When just getting started, improving your fitness is exciting because it’s a new experience, and a change to the routine you’ve become accustomed to.  But then, a conflict gets in the way.

When Excuses Get in the Way

What about the times when it’s the busy time of year at work, you have a packed schedule, and the in-laws are in town?  You work long hours, come home exhausted, and still have to run errands, prepare dinner, and do the laundry.  Don’t forget about those favorite Netflix episodes you can’t miss either!

Well what happens when it’s the dead of winter, it’s freezing outside, it’s rained or snowed for weeks on end, and your mood is as grey and bleak as the weather?  Thinking about lacing up the running shoes and getting a workout in may not seem quite as exhilarating as it did during those first few sessions.  When we rely on willpower to achieve our fitness goals, we can tend to burn out, because we only have so much of it.  When conflicts come up, our fitness routine can be one of the first things to go out the window.

Think of your willpower like a tank of gas.  When you continually use it, the tank depletes and needs to be refilled.  Our willpower is a finite resource – throughout the day, all of the decisions we make slowly deplete the tank.  When it runs really low, you may experience what’s known as decision fatigue.  Have you ever told yourself you’d eat healthy, but then find yourself eating fast food after a long day at work because it seemed so convenient?  If so, you’ve experienced first hand the challenges of relying on your willpower to achieve your goals.

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The Power of Habit in Terms of Fitness

If our willpower is a finite resource, and we know that our schedule is busy, we’re short on time, and still want to live a healthy and fit lifestyle, then how to we go about getting back into shape?  The answer is simple: fitness needs to become a habit.

It’s essential that you make health and fitness a part of your every day routine.  It needs to become a habit if there’s any chance of you following through over an extended time frame.  Habits can help us, and they can hurt us.  Think to yourself about one of the habits you have in your life that has a negative affect.  Drinking, smoking, or watching too much television, perhaps?  Now think of one that has a positive affect.  Is it walking, running, biking, or lifting weights?

Habits can help us, and they can hurt us.  When fitness becomes a habit, it leads to better health, longer lives, and more energy.

How to Make Fitness a Habit

Starting small is the key.  You want to focus on the process rather than the outcome.  If we set small and sustainable goals, then fitness will become a habit after a few months of consistent effort.

Let’s take a hypothetical example.

Mary went to the doctor for her annual check up. Her doctor told her that her cholesterol levels were elevated, and she needed to make a change.  Her doctor asks about her diet and exercise, and they have a frank discussion about her lifestyle.  Mary was honest and told her doctor that her schedule always seems so busy, and that she feels there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all her errands done as it is.

When she eats sometimes its an easy meal that requires little to no cooking. Mary’s doctor acknowledges how difficult it can be to fit everything you want done into a day, however he also recommended that she try to eat more balanced meals and exercise more regularly.

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Getting Started

How should Mary take her doctor’s recommendation into practice? She can make fitness a habit by starting with small, achievable and measurable goals.

Mary is early to bed and early to rise. She commits to going on a walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes, after her morning coffee, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The first couple days into her routine, she finds that it’s an adjustment, but loves the sense of accomplishment she feels after executing on her goals.

Six weeks into her routine, Mary has now learned to love her weekly walks.  She finds that on days she goes walking, she has more energy throughout the day.  It’s a time that she’s able to exercise, and it’s also a time she’s able to reflect on all the great progress she’s made.  What’s better, is she’s actually met a few of her neighbors who are also up early each day, and she’s shared her goals with them.

Over time, Mary decides to add more days to her walking routine, and after 6 months, she finds herself walking almost every day.  It’s become something that she looks forward to each day, and it’s a habit that’s she’s grown to love.  Walking also inspires her to make healthier food choices, because she wants to fuel her body with proper nutrients that taste great and make her feel even better.

All of the great progress Mary made was the result of starting with a small and achievable goal, walking for thirty minutes two times per week.

Finding Your Why

In our hypothetical example, Mary wanted to get back into shape because her doctor discussed with her the risks of her high cholesterol and sedentary lifestyle.  Thinking about her family and loved ones, she knew that she owed it to herself and to them to make a change, to take a step in the right direction.

Think about the loved ones that you have in your life.  Your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends and colleagues.  Think about the activities that you loved participating in when you were younger and had vibrant health and energy.  Envision ten years from now, how you’ll look, feel, and act if you continue on the same trajectory that you’re currently on.  What is it that truly excites you?  What is it that motivates you?  What’s one of the driving forces in your life that you care about above all else?

As Simon Sinek explains in his groundbreaking Ted Talk, Start with Why, people make decisions based on their “why.”  They don’t just choose to get back in shape, they choose to live a better lifestyle because their health is suffering.  They make changes because they want to be around for their family for longer.  They make positive habits because they want to meet their great grandchildren.  Watch the 18 minute talk to develop a better understanding of why we make the decisions we do.  I promise you it’s time well spent.

The Pillars of Getting Back Into Shape

Instead of focusing on “getting back into shape,” it’s helpful to break fitness down into smaller sub categories so you can make progress on each of the different pillars.

pillars

Pillar Number One: Exercise

Exercise is the first pillar to focus on in your fitness journey.  The great news is exercise is a broad term that encompasses a whole range of activities.  It could be taking a walk around the neighborhood like our hypothetical Mary.  It could also be playing tennis, golfing, practicing yoga, or taking dance classes.

Make it Enjoyable

Whatever activity or exercise you choose, make it enjoyable!  It’s so much easier to stick to a routine and activity that you enjoy, rather than one you can’t stand.  Think about which activities you’ve practiced in your life that invigorate you.  Was there a sport you played, or an activity that you loved that stands out above all the rest?  How would it feel to have the energy and flexibility to participate again?  Whatever the activity is that you’ve loved, use it as a way to get back into shape.

Make it Consistent

Build your exercise or activity into your routine.  Whether it’s a daily practice, or just a few times a week, be as specific as possible with when you will do it.  That way, it’s not something that you rely purely on willpower to achieve.  When it’s in your schedule each day or each week, it’s much easier to stick to the process.  Over time, it will become something that you look forward to.  It’s time that you’re dedicating for yourself, so you can live a longer and more enjoyable life.

Get an Exercise Buddy

Everyone has days where they feel low energy, low motivation, or are just simply feeling under the weather.  Having a partner that holds you accountable on your journey can be an invaluable motivator.  On days that you just don’t feel like sticking the the process, a companion can help you get through that workout or activity.  Sometimes your buddy might not feel like sticking to their workout – then the tables are turned and you are able to serve as a motivator for them.

Evaluate Progress on your Goals

When you’re as specific as possible on the activities you use to get back into shape, it helps you track progress over a given time frame.  Keep a diary, journal, or log of the workouts you complete, that way weeks and months down the line, you can look back on the progress you’ve made.

Pillar Number Two: Diet

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Our bodies are comprised of the foods that we put into our body.  “We are what we eat,” sounds cliche, but has a lot of truth to it.  When we consume foods that are high in sugar and low in nutrients, it doesn’t give us the proper fuel we need, and our health suffers from it.  When we eat a diet full of vegetables, complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean meats, our diet helps support our health and fitness goals.

Practice Portion Control

At the end of the day, weight gain and weight loss comes from the amount of calories we consume.  When we take in more calories than we burn each day, then our body stores the excess as body fat.  On the other hand, when we burn more energy than we consume, our body uses some of the fat stores to make up for the deficit, meaning we lose weight.  Weight can and weight loss all comes down to total caloric intake over time.

Listen to your body each time you eat.  What’s key is eating until you are satisfied, not until you absolutely can’t consume another bite.  If you feel so full after a meal that you need to lay down or take a nap before doing anything else, you’ve eaten too much.

Adequately Hydrate

Many of us are chronically dehydrated.  Water comprises about 60% of our body, and is critical to vibrant health and energy.  An easy method to follow is the rule of 8.  We need about 8, 8oz glasses of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration.  It amounts to about half of a gallon.  Whether you have a large water bottle you keep with you, or you keep track of how many glasses you drink, make sure your body has the proper amount of water that it needs.

When you’re hydrated, you’re body is more effective at digesting food, leveling your blood pressure, detoxifying your body, and fighting disease and infection.

Limit Sugars and Processed Foods

Sugars and processed foods should not take up a large amount of your daily calorie intake.  Consuming too much causes spikes in blood sugar which can lead to diabetes, weight gain, irritability, inflammation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.  Cutting sugar out of your diet is one of the single biggest positive changes you can make to better support your health over the long term.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

An easy change to make for a better diet is to not drink any of your calories.  Cut out the juices, sodas, and sugary drinks.  One can of Coca Cola has 140 calories, and 39 grams of sugar.  That’s the equivalent of 16 sugar cubes.  The soda may taste great in the short term, but it’s wreaking havoc on your overall health.

Instead of drinking sodas and sugary drinks, replace them with water, tea, and coffee.  They’ll help you hydrate your body better, and will add no calories to your daily intake.

Pillar Number Three: Sleep

Sleep is the third pillar to pay attention to on your journey to better health and fitness.  Adequate sleep is essential to our health because it’s the time when our body is able to rebuild, repair, and detox.  It may seem like it’s almost glorified these days to sacrifice sleep for productivity, but burning the candle at both ends is something that will do more harm than good in the long run.

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Set a Schedule

Go to sleep at the same time each evening, and wake up at the same time in the morning.  Yes, even on the weekends.  Humans are creatures of habit, and that’s especially true with our sleep cycles.  when we have consistency in our routine, it allows our circadian rhythm to function properly.  Our bodies perform best when they have a set schedule.

Avoid Screen Time Before Bed

When we stare at our screens before going to sleep, it messes with your circadian rhythm.  Screens emit what’s known as blue-spectrum light – the same light that’s emitted during the day.  Our brains can’t tell the difference between the light the sun provides, and the light that our screens emit.  When we use our electronic devices immediately before going to sleep, it sends our brains mixed signals because our brain processes the light and tells our body it’s daylight outside.  Do your best to limit the use of electronics within one hour of going to sleep.

Supplement for Better Sleep

On average, more than half of us are deficient in magnesium, a micronutrient that’s fights insomnia, helps our bodies relax, and cuts down on cortisol, the “stress” hormone.  Take a serving of it prior to bed to help your body relax and get ready for a restful and rejuvenating sleep cycle.  A great product to start with is Natural Calm – find it on Amazon, or at a local health foods store.  If that isn’t doing the trick, supplement with melatonin as well.  It’s a hormone that’s secreted by our pineal gland, and helps regulate our natural sleeping and waking cycles.  Staring at screens too much, especially at night, is one way that our melatonin levels get out of whack.

Get Started Today

Your health and fitness is completely in your control.  Sometimes it may not feel like it, sometimes it may feel like our body is craving sugar, wants to lay down, and do nothing.  These are purely signals that your body sends, but you are the one that acts on the signals.  At the end of the day, nobody is as invested in your health as you are.  Not your doctor, your spouse, or your loved ones.  It’s your health, and your body, and your life.  Even if you’ve spent years or decades with the wrong habits, it’s never to late to make a change.

Getting back in shape is one of the absolute best things you can do for your health.  You’ll live longer.  You’ll be happier.  Moving around will be easier.  You’ll be able to spend quality time with loved ones, and will get more satisfaction out of the time you have on this planet.

It’s not always going to be easy.  There will be days when you just don’t feel like sticking to the routine.  There will be meals that are full of sugar that just seem too resistible to pass up.  Some days you may not even want to get up from the TV.  That’s ok.  It happens to everyone.  What’s most important is making slow and consistent progress, and taking steps in the right direction.

If you miss a workout, or have a cheat meal, it’s not the end of the world.  Just don’t let it derail you from your progress over the long term.  Even when it doesn’t feel like it, it’s all within your control.

Willpower and Decision Fatigue

Remember years ago when you laid out your clothes for school the night beforehand?  Did you teach your children the same practice as they were growing up?  It turns out there is actually some solid science behind why it’s a good practice to implement.

Wait, Willpower is a Muscle?  fit woman

Our willpower is not an infinite resource.  Think of it like a muscle – after consistent use it needs to rest and recharge before it’s back to its full capacity.  Ever stick to a diet diligently throughout the day but then couldn’t resist that cookie or slice of cake after dinnertime?  Yes it may have been delicious, but you still may be kicking yourself. You turned down donuts at the office, candy at the convenience store, and that soda in the afternoon.  Why then, did you give in to the dessert?  The answer may be because your willpower waned later in the day, and you fell victim to something called “decision fatigue.”
This concept is one of the reasons why Steve Jobs frequently donned his blue jeans and black turtleneck – to cut down on the decisions he had to make to save as much willpower throughout the day as possible.  It’s much more important that Steve used his willpower make choices on the future of Apple, its products, and its strategy, rather than his outfit.  He didn’t even need to make decisions on what he wore, because he essentially automated that choice by wearing the same thing.  Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, and Barack Obama do the exact same thing, they consistently wear the same outfits, or they have someone else decide what they’ll wear.  It’s to keep their brains as sharp as possible to focus on the decisions that matter.
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The Choices you Face Each Day Add up Quickly

With this in mind, try to think about how many decisions you might have made thus far today.  I bet it’s more than you would have guessed.  What am I going to wear?  What errands need to be done today?  How will I get to work?  Is it trash day today?  What should I eat for breakfast?  Should I go to the yoga class later today?  Am I going out to lunch today?  What are my plans this weekend?  They add up pretty quickly, don’t they?
Clearly we’re all faced with numerous decisions throughout our days and our lives, and that’s likely not going to change.  But with this understanding, there are a few tweaks we can use to really maximize the impact of our willpower and decision making.

Decide your Outfit the Night Before.

This one makes your morning routine significantly easier.  Choose the outfit you’ll wear, pack your lunch, decide how you’ll get to work, what time you’ll leave, and plan what you’ll do as soon as you get into the office in the morning.

Stick to the Plan.

Whether it’s a to-do list, your Google calendar, or in a daily planner, write it down and stick to it.  Having a plan or a strategy around what you want to accomplish helps you waste less energy because you don’t have to decide on what to do, it’s already scheduled into your day.

Prioritize the Most Important Tasks.

Now that you have your plan, make sure that tackle your most important tasks early on in the day.  This ensures that your mind and willpower are sharpest with the obligations or choices that are most valuable.  I know it seems enticing to knock out all the little tasks early, but really this is just a form of procrastination to avoid the to-do’s that really matter most.

Automate the Small Choices.

Wear the same outfit every day.  Eat the same meal several times each week.  Post to social media at the same time each day.  Pay your bills the same time each month, or better yet, use Autopay so you don’t even have to think about it.  Whatever task or decision it is, try to automate it so it’s one less choice slowly chipping away at your willpower.
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Eat Healthy.  Exercise Often.

Nourishing our bodies with the proper nutrients, and exercising on a consistent basis ensure that our minds are as sharp as possible.  By now you’ve automated what you’ll wear, what you’ll eat, and your schedule, why not throw some physical activity into the mix.
Over the long term, our lives are dictated by the choices we make on a day to day basis.  Some are big, some are small, but all of them tend to slowly take away our willpower and decision-making potential.  With that in mind, focus on what’s truly important to you, and build your schedule and your life around achieving those goals.  Don’t waste time or brainpower deciding on things that you can automate, save that willpower for the the aspects of life that matter most.

The Saturday Smoothie – Tips for Better Health Today

fitnessDo you feel like you just might need to lose a few pounds?  That’s ok!  Many of us feel like we’re not as fit as we once were, and we want to help you do something about it!  But what’s the best way to get started?  Sometimes it feels as if it’s tougher to lose the extra flab in your fifty’s than it did a decade ago (is it my metabolism?).  Use these 7 proven strategies for getting back into shape and helping you lean down.

Just Tell Me What Foods I Need to Eat!

There’s so much information out there for what you should eat, what you shouldn’t, why gluten is bad, and why we need to cut our sugar consumption.  Do you ever wish that someone would just tell you which foods to add into your diet to promote better health?  Well now you can! Learn what foods you should eat, why you should eat them, and how they’ll help support long term health and longevity.
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I Swear I Used to Touch My Toes, What Happened!?

Does it take you a while to get started in the morning, or do you find that you’re not quite as flexible as you were a few years ago?  Well to get started on increasing your flexibility, take the easy self assessments to figure out which body parts need the most help.  We think you’ll love these because they’re simple and can be done at home.  You can gain more flexibility with as little as 5 minutes of practice per day!
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Take a Deep Dive Into Nutrition

Have you ever wanted to go a a little bit deeper on the nutritional side?  Are you someone who likes to understand exactly what’s in the food you’re eating?  But fruit and vegetables doesn’t have nutrition facts!  Well guess what, now they do.  Use this tool and it will tell you exactly what’s in the food you eat.  We love it because it will even give you recommendations on which foods to eat based on your diet and lifestyle.
nutrition-facts-information-assorted-food-labels-35369269

Brain Fog?  That Can’t Actually Be Real, Right?

Have you ever parked the car, gone shopping, and then couldn’t remember at all where it was parked? How about forgetting where you put your keys, or taking out the trash on trash day.  Our brains and our diets are intimately connected, find out what may be causing the cloudiness and lack of mental alertness so you can address it head-on.

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sleep

7 Ways to Optimize your Morning Routine

The sunlight peaks through the edges of your windows, and the chirping birds slowly make you more and more conscious of the world outside.  Should you doze a few more minutes, hit snooze on the alarm a few times, or jump out of bed to start the day?  Such a big decision!

Perhaps you savor your slumber, and snooze time after time until you begrudgingly need to roll out of bed and kick off the day.  Ugh, not another Monday.   Sound all too familiar?

How you do anything, is how you do everything.  The way that you start your day has an affect on the rest of your waking hours. Over the long term, the small decisions that we make on a day to day basis dictate the trajectory, and the quality of our lives.  That means starting the day with productivity and purpose is a must.

So how do we go about optimizing our morning routines?  It’s important to understand that an effective morning routine doesn’t start in the morning – it starts the night before.  Set aside the clothes you plan to wear ahead of time, because it’s important to leave yourself with as few decisions as possible as you kick off the day. Half an hour before you plan to go to sleep, shut off all social media, and stop using any electronics with a screen.  The blue light that our electronics emit affects our circadian rythym, and tricks our brains into thinking it’s daylight outside.  Have you ever been tired as you browse your news feed, and then can’t seem to fall asleep once you’re in bed?  If so, you’ve experienced first hand how our screens can alter the quality of our sleep.

To optimize your routine in the morning, there are a several simple ways you can guarantee you’ll have a great start to the day, and will feel productive and focused for hours afterwards. 

Make Your Bed

It sounds so simple, and it is.  But why is it important?  By making your bed every morning, it’s an immediate win early on in the day.  It lets your brain feel accomplished, even if it’s just a small task.  Making your bed right after waking helps set the tone for increased productivity throughout the day.

bedHydrate

Many of us live in a state of constant dehydration.  A simple trick to help start your day on the right foot is consuming a few large glasses of water within an hour of waking.  It helps hydrate your body, flush toxins, and increase your metabolism.
water
 

Breathe deeply

We need oxygen to survive, but we need lots of oxygen if we really want to thrive!  If you have a tendency to hunch your shoulders, breath shallow, and don’t live a very active lifestyle, you’ll notice immediate benefits from this one.  Take 10 deep breaths right as you jump out of bed in the morning.  It can even be while you’re making your bed, if you like multitasking.  It helps improve our respiritory, digestive, lymphatic, and immune systems.  Deep breathing also reduces stress levels and helps increase circulation throughout our bodies.

 breath

Stretch or Exercise

Air squats, pushups, stretching and jogging.  There are so many activities you can practice to get your blood flowing first thing in the morning.  Even if you don’t have the time (or the willpower!) for a full workout, spend some time stretching and paying attention to your body.  It helps you fully wake up, increases your alertness, and gets your brain in a mindset where you’re ready to be productive.

 stretch

Practice Gratitude

When we tell ourselves the things that make us gratful, it conditions our brain to pay attention to the blessings that we have.  There are plenty of studies that show when people practice gratitude, it leads to higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.  No need to overcomplicate things – practicing gratitude can be as easy as choosing three things you’re grateful for; your health, your family, and your job perhaps?  Try mixing them up each day, and remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated!
 gratitude

Daily Goals

If you fail to plan, then plan to fail!  It’s important to be crystal clear on the things that you want to accomplish on any given day.  Write down the biggest or most important tasks, even if it’s just a mental note.  By being clear on the precise things you need to accomplish, it leaves no question of how you should focus your time, and what you should do that day.
map 

Consume a healthy meal

Our bodies are comprised of what we fuel it with.  We quite literally are what we eat!  The good news is that healthy food is downright delicious!  Once you’re hungry in the morning or around lunch time, treat your body to a nutritious and satisfying meal.  Try to minimize the sugar and refined carbs, because those are the nutrients that lead to mood swings and weight gain.  Choose the lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables to provide you with clean, healthy energy throughout your day.
salad
Optimizing our morning routines doesn’t have to be difficult.  With a little planning, we can set ourselves up for an incredibly productive and satisfying day.  Our livelihood is completely within our control, once we make some simple improvements to our routines first thing in the morning, it helps us throughout the rest of our waking hours.
Let us know if there are any great tips that we might have missed!

The Saturday Smoothie – Join Us on Your Fitness Journey

Welcome to the first edition of our new feature – the Saturday Smoothie. Each week, we’ll bring you our favorite health and fitness content from around the web. Got feedback, or an article suggestion? Tell us here!
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Can Food Heal?

Is your food harming or healingCan food serve as a medicine, and help you heal your body and improve the quality of your life?  Yes, it absolutely can.  Learn how you can take back control of your health, why you should listen to your body, and what you should do to kickstart your diet for newfound youth and vigor.

How You Can Take Back Control of Your Health

Ask-a-Trainer!  Is Nutrition or Exercise More Important?

We’ve also started a new video series, Ask A Trainer. Each week we take your questions to a certified trainer and video his advice. Watch the first video below, and click the button to submit your own question.

So which one is it!?  The two are tied very closely together, but is one that’s more important than the other?  If for some reason, I only wanted to choose one, which one would have the biggest positive affect on my health?  This week we met with Bill Mines, Washington D.C.-based personal trainer, to tackle the classic question of what’s more important, your exercise or your nutrition.

[button link=”https://jamestrent.leadpages.co/leadbox/142de3273f72a2%3A12b908c08b46dc/5713144022302720/” size=”xl” color=”#197abe” text=”light”]Submit Your Own Question [/button]

Which Foods Will Help My Brain Function Better?

Who’s else loves going to the farmer’s market?  There’s something so satisfying about meandering through all the aisles, tasting the samples of fresh-picked produce, and purchasing a basket of healthy, local ingredients.  But what foods should you actually buy?  Well, the second resource we’re excited to share this week is from our friends at NutritionSecrets.com, and it provides you a list of foods that are great for your body and your brain!  A few of them may even surprise you.  (Hint: so you should stock up on dark chocolate!?)
farmers mkt

What’s an Exercise Routine I can Use Today?

Get out there and get moving!  Whether you are in the best shape of your life, or have been sedentary for weeks, months, or years, it’s never too late to exercise.  It increases your circulation, strength, longevity, quality of life, and well-being.  The benefits of exercising on a regular basis are truly limitless.  We wanted to share the 10 Best Exercises for women to get out there and get moving this weekend.
stretching

Mental Toughness – What’s the Best Way to Improve it?

Self awareness is the key to mental toughness.  When was the last time you took the time to sit down, find a comfortable position, and just quietly observed your thoughts?  Do they race, or are you able to bask in the blissful calm of a still mind?  One of the absolute best ways to improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health is regular meditation practice.  Learn the Basics, so you can experience a peace and calm that carries over to every other facet of life.
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Stay Active and Fit this Winter with a New Approach

Don’t let the long, dark days of cold and wet winter weather de-rail your workouts. While it is true that cold, rainy weather seems to invite you in to snuggle in front of the fire with a good book, you can’t change the forecast, but you can change how you approach it and still come out of the other side of winter working toward your fitness goals. If you are like most people, moving south for the dreary months is not an option.

Keep in mind, at bare minimum, all you need in 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week to boost your mood and help keep the pounds off. So we want to challenge you to look winter in the eye and get out there and keep moving. Change it up and make it fun with some of our tips to stay active and fit during the winter.

  • Get a new mindset: There are activities and opportunities in the winter months that you can’t easily take advantage of in other seasons. Rather than getting sidelined waiting for better weather, embrace the season and the adventures to be taken advantage of.
  • Wear the right gear: If you dress to stay dry, you will stay warm. This means a water proof outer shell. Underneath that should be NON COTTON layers for regulating your body temperature and wick moisture away from your skin so you don’t get chilled. How many layers is up to you and your activity.
  • Warm up indoors first if you are able: Keep in mind it takes longer in cold weather for your body to warm up, so be patient and give it time before you go all out.
  • Protect your extremities: Fingers, toes, and noses are the first to get cold due to your body’s natural response to send blood inward to keep your vital organs warm
  • Just get out and play in it! You don’t need to get started in a new, expensive, gear hungry sport, how about building a snowman, starting a snowball fight, or making snow angels? They burn 285, 319, and 214 calories per hour, respectively. Check out this detailed list of just how much you burn doing other winter sports.
  • Protect your skin: A dry, tender chapped face and lips is enough to make you avoid the next winter workout. Apply a serious winter hydration with lubricants and SPF such as Murad Winter Hydration or Clairns Hydra-Care Serum.
  • Protect your feet: Running shoes tend to breathe too well in the winter and let cold air and moisture in. Prevent this with shoe covers. If you hike or snowshoe, gaiters are a must.
  • If you need a break from some really bad weather, sign up for a winter sports league such as dodgeball, coed volleyball, or any other sport of your choice. Your local parks and rec department is happy to keep you moving this winter.

The important thing is to find those activities and scenarios that make it work for you to keep active and staying strong. Spring is not that far away and remind yourself that it will be that much more enjoyable if you are fit when the good weather hits.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

Best Exercises to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

Falling is a serious concern for many aging adults. An estimated 28-45 percent of elderly people fall each year. When an older person falls, the risk of injury isn’t the only concern; for most elderly people, it can take months to recover from injuries sustained in a fall, and such lengthy convalescence can lead to more physical problems.

However, studies have found that exercise helps reduce the risk of falls, and can also help minimize injuries sustained in a fall. Here are the best exercises to improve balance and prevent falls:

  • Weight Shifting: Standing with your feet about as wide apart as your hips, shift your weight to one side and then the other, lifting your opposite foot off of the floor. Hold the position as long as you can (about 30 seconds). Alternate to the other side, and repeat.
  • One-Legged Balancing: Take weight-shifting a step further by balancing on one leg. Start with your feet placed hip-width apart on the floor and your hands on your hips. Lift one leg, bending at the knee, and hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Alternate with the other leg, and repeat.
  • Heel-Toe Walk: Stand with your arms straight out, and feet side by side. Take a step, positioning your lead foot directly in front of the back foot, so that your lead foot heel is touching the toe of your back foot. Pick a spot straight ahead to keep yourself steady, walking heel-to-toe.
  • Single-Legged Squat & Reach (higher difficulty): Stand on one leg, with the opposite foot lifted a couple of inches off of the ground. Bend the standing leg 90 degrees to reach the opposite arm toward the outside of the standing leg – keep your back straight the whole time. Return to the starting position, alternate legs, and repeat.
  • Perpendicular Bends (higher difficulty): Standing with your feet together and your arms straight at your sides, bend forward with your back straight, lifting one leg, and raising your arms. You should end with your torso, lifted leg and arms parallel with the ground. Slowly lower your arms and leg toward the ground (keeping your back straight and parallel with the ground). Switch legs and repeat.

Tai Chi is an excellent method of balance and fitness training as well. Need some extra guidance? Here are 12 great balance exercises, with videos to help you follow along.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com