Lose Weight with Intermittent Fasting

For many people over fifty, losing weight is one of the biggest changes he or she can make to positively influence health and longevity.

The center for Disease Control found that 70% of adults nowadays are overweight, or obese.  That’s more than two thirds of the population!  Heart disease is the biggest killer every year, killing more than half a million people.  Obesity is a direct cause of heart disease.  I don’t know about you, but that’s motivation enough for me to shed a few pounds!

Why has there been such an increase in weight in the population?  The answer lies in our food choices.

Eating Like Our Ancestors

hunter gatherer

For thousands and thousands of years, humans evolved as hunter gatherers.  We are typically a nomadic species, always on the move, with lots of exercise and mobility.  The hunters would go out into the wild and track down whatever game they could encounter.  Sometimes they would be on hunts for days at a time, subsisting on very little.  Nuts, berries, roots, seeds, etc.  Our bodies are physiologically wired to sharpen our senses when low on food.  When this happens, we’re better equipped to hunt down that rabbit, deer, bird, or wild game.  We’ve evolved to be able to not only survive, but thrive during periods of relatively low caloric intake.

When the hunters were fortunate enough to finally track down and kill a wild animal, they’d bring it back to the village and feast with everyone else.

Contrast that with our current eating and exercise pattern.

The Modern Day Eating Pattern

For breakfast, we eat bagels, cereals, pancakes, donuts, pastries, fruit and fruit juices.  Our whole lives we’re led to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

For lunch, we consume soups, sandwiches, burritos, leftovers, and salads.  Often times there’s also that afternoon snack to tide you over for supper.  Then comes that large meal at night full of meats, potatoes, breads, and the occasional serving of vegetables.  Many of us consume so much at dinner we feel slow and sluggish for hours afterwards.

Let’s not forget that bowl of ice cream, slice of cake, cookie, or brownie to enjoy while watching your favorite television shows.

Couple that with the time we spend sitting down at our desks while we’re working.  Then add the time spent on the computer, or in front of the tv.  We sit or lay down when we’re sleeping, eating, working, relaxing, and socializing.

Simply put, in this day and age, we’re eating too much, and moving too little.  This is why so much of our population is obese, and dying from obesity-related ailments like heart disease.

lazy

Let’s do Something About it

Enter: Intermittent Fasting (IF).  It’s a pattern of eating, rather than a particular diet.  A diet is all about restricting certain foods for a given amount of time.  It’s hard to stick to, because it’s often-times temporary, and prevents us from eating many of the foods we enjoy.

Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is all about changing the way we think about eating food.  At the core of it, it’s about behavior change.  In intermittent fasting, there are periods of time when you fast, and periods of time where you eat.  The most popular (and easiest) method of intermittent fasting uses a 16 hour window of fasting, and an 8 hour window of eating.

The great news is you’re already doing this to a certain extent.  Have you ever had a meal on a Friday night, slept in on Saturday, and then had a late brunch or lunch?  If so, you had a fasting period of about 16 hrs (8pm dinner, 12pm lunch the next day).

When we give our bodies time to fast, we’re able to spend energy on detoxing and burning fat, rather than simply digesting the foods we consume.  There are numerous health benefits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ) to following an intermittent fasting style of eating.

Weight Loss

This one is everyones favorite, and frankly it’s much needed for many people.  One of the most significant benefits of intermittent fasting is how easy this protocol makes weight loss.  A large portion of the weight loss often times tends to be body fat as well.  When we reduce our feeding window to 8 hours per day, it lessens the chance that we’ll consume more calories than we need.  There’s simply less time to mindlessly consume calories, so we tend to eat less when following an intermittent fasting protocol.

Improved Fat Burning

When we’re fasted, our body has time to repair itself.  When it needs energy, since we haven’t consumed food, it turns to body fat.  When our body is burning its fat for energy, we’re in a state called ketosis.  The longer we fast, the more our body is able to burn energy from our stored body fat.  Fasts of up to 36 hours have incredible benefits with very little risk of adverse consequences, but we can gain benefits from fasting for as short as 16 hours.

Hormonal Benefits

Intermittent fasting lowers insulin resistance.  This means that it will lower blood sugar levels, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.  It also means that since your blood sugar is more stable throughout the day, you’ll experience less moodiness, cloudy thinking, irritability, and sugar crashes.  When fasting, our bodies also produce more human growth hormone, more testosterone, and they’re better able to repair injuries and muscle tissues.

Better Appetite Control

Once our bodies are accustomed to an intermittent fasting style of eating, we experience far fewer cravings throughout the day.  Since our insulin sensitivity is reduced, and our hormones are in check, our bodies aren’t signaling us to constantly eat.  We learn to listen to our bodies and eat when we’re hungry, and stop eating when we’re full.  Over time, it becomes easy to control the amounts of food you consume each day.

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Reduced Inflammation.

Intermittent fasting reduces inflammation throughout the body, because when our bodies aren’t digesting food, it can spend energy healing and repairing itself.  Inflammation is a contributor to many chronic illnesses and skin conditions, including alzheimers, arthritis, chrohn’s disease, exzema, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.   

How to Do it

The simplest method to abide by is a 16:8 protocol.  16 hours of fasting, and 8 hours of feeding.  It’s even easier if 8 of those hours are spent sleeping.  If that’s the case for you, skipping breakfast is a very simple way to start intermittent fasting.

Wake up in the morning, and don’t consume any calories until about 12 or 1 in the afternoon.  Coffee and tea are fine in the morning, as long as you don’t add any sugar.  A small splash of milk is ok, but avoiding it is ideal.  Coffee is particularly helpful in the morning because it suppresses hunger cravings.  If you start to get hungry, drink a few glasses of water, or even try sparkling water – it can be a big help in reducing hunger pangs.

When lunch time rolls around, break your fast with whatever food you want.  The ideal choice would be a salad or a meal filled with plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein.

In the afternoon, if you want to have a snack, go for it!  A healthy option is a handful of mixed nuts, a serving of fruit or vegetables, or even another salad or small meal.

For dinner, eat whatever you’d usually eat.  Meat, pasta, potatoes, vegetables, soups, and stews.  Intermittent fasting is not about limiting your food choices, it’s all about limiting the window of time in the day where you’re consuming food.

ScheduleIf you want to have that dessert after dinner, go for it if you must.  Just make sure that you finish your last meal no more than 8 hours after you broke your fast.  You’ll probably find that you sleep better when you don’t eat right before going to bed.

The next morning, do it all over again.

Getting Started

The first few days, it may be tough to adjust to this style of eating.  After years and years of eating breakfast first thing in the morning, your body becomes accustomed to it.  When you get started on intermittent fasting, it’s helpful to keep your schedule busy the first few days.  That way you’re not sitting around idly thinking about when you can eat food.

After a few days or a week of intermittent fasting, you’ll notice that you’re no longer hungry first thing in the morning.  Most practitioners actually experience more energy and focus in the morning when they’re in a fasted state.  Your sugar cravings will be gone, you won’t be worried about what to eat for breakfast, and you’ll have more time to accomplish the things you want to get done first thing in the morning.

The Takeaway

If you know you need to lose a few pounds, want to experience less cravings, and want to feel all around healthier, give an intermittent fasting style of eating a try.  Nothing will change if you keep sticking to the same routine over and over, so only you can be the one to make a change to improve your health.  If after a month, you realize this approach isn’t for you, that’s ok.  Just recognize that you have the power to make a change in your health.  Nobody is as invested in your health and longevity as you are, so take things into your own hands!

The Saturday Smoothie – Optimize your Health this Weekend

How to Feel Younger

Remember how easily you could move around ten years ago?  How much energy you had, and what it was like to move around pain free?  Who doesn’t want to feel younger?  When you look and feel young, you can move around easily, make the most of every day, and get more enjoyment out of life.  Use these simple steps to start feeling young again.

Feel Young Again

feel younger

Balance for Seniors

Can you walk on a curb in a straight line without falling off?  How about standing on one leg for a full minute?  Balance is critical as we age, and should be a part of everyones exercise routine.  When we have good balance, we are more mobile, are less at-risk of falls, and can tear up the dance floor at our children’s weddings!

Increase Your Balance

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Health and Gratitude

When was the last time you said you were thankful for something? Studies show that gratitude can measurably affect our health.  The good news is that it’s simple to do, and it’s free!  When we live with gratitude, we learn to be content with the blessings we have in our life, rather than focused on what we don’t have.  Choose three things you’re thankful for right now.  Really, do it.  It’s easy!

How Gratitude Affects your Health

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How to live to 100

Want to live to 100?  There are communities around the world where the population regularly lives past 100 years old.  They’re called Blue Zones.  Well how do they do it?  It’s all about the food you eat and the lifestyle you live.  Use this guide as a resource to learn what to eat, how to exercise, and how you can boost your lifespan.  Do you live in a blue zone?  Do you know anyone that’s over one hundred?

Living to One Hundred

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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

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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!

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How to Start Sleeping Better

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man (or woman!) healthy, wealthy and wise.

sleeping better

It’s a quote, or even a proverb, that’s been thrown around for years, and almost seems cliche nowadays.  I remember hearing it from family members and others I looked up to from a very young age, and it’s always stood out as important in my mind.  But just because it’s important, it doesn’t mean it’s always easy live by.  Just because we understand it intuitively doesn’t mean that it is a top priority, or even comes easily.  In a world that is so connected, with schedules so packed, and social media feeds so enticing, getting quality sleep tends to often times take the back burner.  We tell ourselves we can will catch up on it later this weekend, but it doesn’t work that way.

How many times have you stayed up late into the night watching your favorite Netflix series.  Helping our children with last minute science projects is another frequent thieve of our sleep quality.  What about semi-mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, liking and commenting on photos and updates, and casually stalking on what our distant friends, relatives, and contacts have been up to?  It’s enticing, and downright enjoyable, but often times we end up unconsciously sacrificing our sleep for it.

This is a huge problem.

Dozens of studies are finding that sleep quality is absolutely critical for our long term health and well-being.  We live in a society that seems to glorify burning the candle from both ends, but it’s a surefire way to burn out our health much quicker than any of us would like.  When we don’t give our bodies adequate rest, it leads to weight gain, increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a weakened immune system, and negative affects on our hormone levels.

If you aren’t living with the health, vibrancy, and energy that you once did, the quality of your sleep is the first thing you need to address.

Use these simple strategies to ensure that your body is getting the time to rest and recover that it truly deserves.

Stick to a schedule

Go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning.  Even on the weekends.  Whether you’re a night owl, or an early riser, do your best to maintain the same schedule day-in day-out so your body can adjust to it.  We truly are creatures of habit, and our sleep patterns should be no exception.

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Power off an hour before you go to sleep

Our phones, computers, screens, and electronics emit blue spectrum light, which tricks our brains into thinking that it’s actually day time.  It tends to mess with our circadian rhythm.  Shut off all of your electronics an hour before you plan to go to sleep.  If you are going to still use your computer, use an app like flux to have your devices cut down on the blue light.

Watch your diet

When you have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep throughout the night, your diet could be the culprit.  Minimize caffeine consumption after noon, because caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours after you ingest it.  Avoid having a large meal right before bed time because your body uses energy to digest your food, which can make it difficult to have high quality sleep.  Do everything you can to cut back on your sugar intake, because it causes spikes in blood sugar, which leads to cravings and crashes throughout the day.

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Bedtime Ritual

Make a process that you can stick to each day as you wind down and get ready for bed.  Take a hot bath.  Have a cup of caffeine free tea to put you into a state of relaxation.  Curl up on your favorite chair with a book that will capture your imagination.  Meditate and process what happened throughout the day, so your mind isn’t racing and running through a mental to-do list as your trying to drift off to sleep.  Whatever elements you want to add to your ritual, make it a habit to stick to them so your body knows what to expect as you’re winding down.

Supplement with Magnesium and Melatonin

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.

Optimize your Bedroom for Sleep

Your bedroom should be your tranquil and peaceful place.  It’s that area of the house that is our personal sanctuary.  It should be reserved only for sleep, and intimate times.  When we try to use our beds as a place to rest, and also a place where we watch tv and browse social media, it sends our bodies mixed signals.  At night time when you’re trying to sleep, make the room as dark as possible.  Drop the temperature a few degrees.  Use essential oils like lavender or chamomile to promote restfulness and relaxation.  Use a noise canceller or a fan for white noise to block out the sounds of creaks in the house, distractions from outside, and anything that could easily wake you from your slumber.

Turn your Devices on Airplane Mode

Most of us sleep with our phone within a few feet of where we lay our heads down to rest.  Many of us use our phones and devices as alarm clocks, rather than the traditional clock on the bedside table.  The last thing we need is a social media notification or text message waking us from our sleep, so turn your devices on airplane mode (or do not disturb mode) if you’re going to keep them in your room next to your bed.

airplane

Exercise regularly

Go for a run.  Practice yoga.  Lift weights.  Swim.  Bike.  Hike.  Dance.  The world is such a rich, vibrant, and bustling place, and it’s very conducive to our physical well being.  We evolved for millions of years as hunters and gatherers – a lifestyle that was not sedentary, and filled our days with exercise, and led to restful and peaceful sleep.  Make a point to get your heart pumping because it will directly improve how quickly you fall asleep, and the quality of your restful time.

Sleep is a daily necessity for all of us.  Guard the quality of your sleep as best as you can.  When the quality of your sleep, or your life overall isn’t where you want it to be, look at the daily habits and practices that could have negative affects.  The recommendations are all simple, but when compounded they are a powerful tool we all have access to have more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

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Meditation and Mindfulness – Why You Should Start

Meditation. When you hear the word, does it bring up imagery of tie-dye, long hair, and questionable hygiene?  How about cross-legged practitioners wearing flowing robes and chanting with eyes closed for hours on end.  This may be what comes to mind when you think of meditation, or what media has led you to believe, but there are plenty of reasons to change that perception.

Meditation is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years, and has been present in nearly every civilization around the world.  It has has substantial health benefits, and is something anyone can practice.  Scientists at Harvard studied the affects of meditation over a two week time frame, and found it to measurably increase the amount of grey matter in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is closely associated with learning and memory.

The Benefits of Regular Meditation and Mindfulness

In addition to improving the capacity for learning and memory, meditation has a whole host of benefits; they’re right at your fingertips.  It’s been known to decrease depression, pain, and stress.  Meditation benefits practitioners by instilling a greater sense of life satisfaction.  It fosters a peaceful and calm demeanor that’s noticeable throughout the day, and can help you with more control, presence, and awareness with all of your thoughts and emotions.

What is Meditation Anyways?

There are plenty of ways to go about it, but at the very core, meditation is the act of sitting calmly and quietly, clearing your mind, and focusing on your breathing.  When thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them, then slowly let them pass.  Some folks like to chant a mantra over and over to stay focused, others prefer to pay close attention to their breathing.  Some meditators sit cross legged on the floor, others sit comfortably on their beds or in their desk chairs.

The great news is there’s no right or wrong way to meditate, it’s a very personal and subjective experience.  There’s no need to worry about posture, position, or what you’re wearing.  Try to find a method that is enjoyable, and is easy to build into your schedule for the day.   

Start Small

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Commit to dedicating just two minutes per day.  Within the first hour of waking in the morning is a great time to do it, and so is in the evening before bed.  How about right now.  Let’s silently meditate for two minutes together right this very moment.  Sit back in your chair so you’re in a comfortable position.  Take a few deep breaths, and let your eyes slowly close.  Focus on your breathing, and just contently sit in place for two minutes.  Do it now.  Breath in deeply through your nose, and out slowly through your mouth.  Count your breaths slowly up to ten, then count back down.  Pay attention to any aches and pains in your body, any signals that might be getting sent, signals that you may be ignoring in your day to day life.  Relax and clear your mind, and just sit contently in place.

Am I Doing it Right?  Don’t Worry!

One of the easiest pitfalls is when practitioners worry whether or not they’re meditating correctly.  Don’t get caught up in this trap, because there really is no right or wrong answer.  Just go through the motions, and focus on the process and the journey, rather than a specific outcome.  The benefits of meditation come through consistent practice over a longer time frame, so learn to appreciate the couple minutes of peace and calm.  Focus on your breathing, try to quiet the voices in your mind, and pay attention to how your body feels as you relax and meditate.

Come Back to Your Center

When you’re meditating, it’s inevitable that your mind will start to wander.  Learn to be aware of these tangential thoughts, and come back to your peace and calm.  Think of each time your mind starts to wander as a chance to practice self awareness.  Acknowledge the thoughts as they come up, then let them slowly pass.  Each time you are able to become aware of your wandering thoughts, and refocus on breathing and clearing your mind, it gives your brain more control and awareness.

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Be the Observer of Your Thoughts

You are not your thoughts, you are merely the observer.  A metaphor that’s always helped me, is to think of your mind as a vast ocean.  Envision it as you meditate.  The ripples and waves on the top level of the water are your thoughts, but you go much deeper than that.  You are not your thoughts.  You are the vast body of water, that goes seemingly infinitely deep, and spans for miles and miles, farther than the eye can see.  Sometimes there’s a quiet peace and calm, and the water may be still as glass.  Other times, there may be a torrential downpour with tidal waves that could capsize an ocean freighter.  Quietly observe, and come back to your center each and every time.

Smile and Be Grateful for the Moments of Calm

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Whether you set an alarm each time you meditate, or you end your practice when it feels right, take a few moments to reflect on the experience.  Smile.  Breathe deeply.  Say something you’re grateful for, it can be big or small.  Today you woke up happy and healthy.  You have a community of family and loved one that care about you.  You dog was excited to see you in the morning.  There is so much to be grateful for all around us.  Meditation helps us focus on the blessings we have all around us, and helps us live with more appreciation and gratitude throughout the day.  Learn to appreciate the time that you dedicate for your practice, because it’s a time that’s truly yours, and will help your mind and body become more aware and present throughout your waking life.

Resources

There are tons of resources out there that can help you get started, or refine your practice and take it the next level.  A few of them which I personally recommend because I’ve used them consistently, are:

ZenHabits

Headspace

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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.
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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.

[button link=”http://fitafterfifty.com/brain-fog/” size=”xl” text=”grey”]Read All About Brain Fog[/button]

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.

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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!?)
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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.
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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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Feed Your Life With Proper Nutrition!

good nutritionStaying fit and making diet alterations are key steps into keeping yourself youthful and happy. There are many misconceptions associated with food and society. Fad diets are all over the media and will seem like a way to get healthy faster. Take a step back, do some research on your own body type, age and physical activity before settling into a new dietary pattern. Listen to what your body needs from you when evaluating proper nutrition.

Assess your physicality level. What kind of job or activity do you do for a living? Are you at a desk or walking around most of the day? Ask ourself how much movement you get on an average work day. When I was walking a lot in a department store environment I tended to fuel myself with more energy to keep me going throughout the day. When your sitting most of the day, a few snacks are acceptable, like fruit or nuts. Since, your not expelling a lot of energy by sitting, get up and take a few walks through out the day. On your lunch break, take a walk or stretch out before settling back into the remainder of your day.

Healthy snacking: Trail mix. It has all the tastes that we crave throughout the day: sugar and salt. Trail mix can be made easily at home. Take dry roasted almonds, peanuts, cashews or an assortment of other nuts add dried berries and currents for that tart sweetness and a few dark chocolate chips. There! You get a little energy kick from the nut family and the antioxidants from the dried berries. Cranberries are an especially significant source antioxidants and outrank several other fruits and vegetables. They are also high in vitamin C and fiber. Dark chocolate is an excellent source of Iron, copper and manganese. It is also low in cholesterol and sodium. Keep an eye on your dark chocolate intake, as it is half calories from fat.

Meal planning and execution is a craft. Past feeding habits will follow you throughout life: You are what you eat. When you’re thinking about meal plans for the week, pinpoint what is lacking in your diet. Remember, listen to your body. Write down your grocery list and stick to it, grab something new if your not the adventurous type. Be as universal you can with your feeding regiment.

Longevity and Power: A long life and strength are all part of your mindset and your food intake. You want to be the champion of your own life. It all starts with keeping to your list of good ingredients for nutritious meals. This might seem juvenile, but don’t shop when your hungry. Keep a clear head so you don’t impulse buy. Look for vitamin-rich produce and make that your main entree. Iron is a critical mineral we need to transport oxygen to other muscles in our body. Iron deficiency anemia can result from low blood count as you age. If your iron levels are lower than normal, incorporate some red meat into your meals. Most red meat should be served as the side of your main entree as it is high in cholesterol.

Mindful and Focused: Food selection all stems from a clear head. Feeding your brain the right nutrients is absolutely essential for good decision-making. It all boils down to feeding yourself a wide selection of brightly colored produce: fruits and leafy veggies. We are lucky geographically. Fish and other seafood is ubiquitous and should be on our plates at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish and nuts are little soldiers that combat the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Mornings: Coffee or Tea?

I get it, a cup of joe is great and wakes you up. It also protects you from type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and lowers the risk of liver cancer and disease. Switch it up throughout the week. Try green tea and incorporate it into your morning or even nightly liquids. Green tea is high in several types of antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables. Green tea antioxidants are categorized as a flavonoid. What the heck is a flavonoid and why does it help my body? Flavonoids are an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that support healthy cardiovascular and nervous systems. Their intake also decreases the risk of lung and breast cancer. Other foods and liquids with naturally occurring flavonoids include: red wine, fruit, vegetables and the legume family.

To be straightforward, eat something with value. Value your body, so feed it the best and nutritious things you can find. Our bodies are a well-oiled machines. As we age take extra care of your body’s journey by feeding your needs not your cravings. Keep it running at optimal capacity by eating right, exercise your mind and body and always, smile.

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Fabulous Fall Recipes for Fitness

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with a lovely, long fall harvest season with our temperate climate. Many veggies are readily available locally and organic and it is a great opportunity to stock up, try new recipes, and enjoy the bounty.

Here are some fantastic fall recipes that are friendly to your fitness regimen, as well!

Nothing says fall faster than soups. This simple, yet hearty Autumn Chicken Stew features some of fall’s top offerings: carrots, apples and parsnips. This one is easy to prep the ingredients the night before so that it is all ready to put together the following evening ready for dinner. In addition to its high vitamin A count, this soup is low calorie, low in cholesterol, and appropriate for diabetics. Serve with cheese sandwiches on the side for a full meal.

One of the healthiest squash you can try is pumpkin. It is action packed with beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and lots of antioxidants. So start those brisk fall mornings off right with Spiced Pumpkin Maple Baked Oatmeal, it is high fiber, gluten free, good for your cholesterol, easy on the budget, preps really well the night before, allowing you to spoil your family and yourself with the yummy scents and flavors of spices and pumpkin with a hearty, warm morning meal.

This oh-so-easy-to make Roasted Fall Vegetables recipe takes full advantage of the abundance of organic squash and root vegetables available. The red potatoes are a great source of iron and vitamin C. Rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, the butternut squash makes this a winning side dish to any entrée.

The abundance of apples each fall is a great opportunity for cooks everywhere. Put your fall apples to good use with this Apple Sangria recipe for your fall gatherings. Lower sugar content in white wine keeps this one a bit more in the “healthy” category than most drink recipes. Everything in moderation, right? 😉

 

In the comments section below, share some of your favorite fall recipes and how they are helping you in your healthy and fit lifestyle.