The True Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise. It truly can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about losing weight, being fitter and stronger, although that is definitely an added bonus. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.

Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep.

Convinced yet?

The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.

And you don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.

You don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:

  • Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming)
  • Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
  • Balance (standing on one-foot, Tai Chi)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)

Don’t forget, all exercise counts, even if it’s not doing a sport or happening in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store, and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.

Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points. (more…)

Productive or Just “Busy”? 17 Ways To Be More Productive Every Day

Noun: ‘productivity’ The state or quality of producing something; the effectiveness of productive effort.

How many excuses do you hear yourself saying every day? “I couldn’t get this done today because… OR I didn’t have time to do that because…”

Sometimes all it takes to be more ‘productive’ is to simply stop sabotaging yourself and get out of your own way. Yep I said it – get out of your own way! By not confronting procrastination and all the “I’m too busy” excuses are shining examples of ‘standing in your own way’.

“Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!” ~ Tim Ferriss

So, you have got to prioritize achieving results ahead of staying in your comfort zone and stop making excuses! You’ve probably also heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder”?

Well, in this post I’m going to give you a ton of ideas on how to do just that… without making excuses.

Here are 17 “no excuses” ways to be more productive every single day:

  1. Clean out the clutter in the space intended for productivity – whether that’s your office, the kitchen or anywhere in your environment that requires you to GSD (Get Sh*t Done)!
  2. Use positive instead of negative self-talk. You would be surprised how impactful negative self-talk (which fuels our limiting beliefs) can be for flat-lining productivity!
  3. Make your goals manageable – not unrealistic and unreachable.
  4. Set out the next day’s goals the night before. Revisit them for 5 minutes in the morning.
  5. Systems and routines (over “goals”) are always the answer. Make priority lists not ‘To Do’ lists – and make it “tickable”. Checking off that box can be so rewarding!
  6. Create a plan that’s designed for action and automate repetitive tasks – again, systems!
  7. Don’t multitask – I know, this probably goes against everything you have ever done and what you’re actually trying to do now but consider that doing multiple things at once (too many balls in the air) causes you to do each task much more slowly and less efficiently than if you were to just focus on just ONE task – and do it really well!
  8. Spend mornings GSD’ing, i.e. do your most important tasks before lunch.Follow the Pareto Principle as it applies to productivity: “80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action.” Think of it as 80% of your work is done in 20% of your time. For most people, that time is right after waking up, so try to take advantage of the first few hours of your day.
  9. Robin Sharma says, “Get up at 5 am. Win the battle of the bed. Put mind over mattress. This habit alone will strengthen your willpower so it serves you more dutifully in the key areas of your life.”
  10. Identify your time thieves and energy vampires. It’s exactly how it sounds 😉Do this: identify the activities and tasks that distract you, interrupt your workflow or send you down the “rabbit hole”. Curtail all those bad habits that keep you from performing at your best and you’ll dramatically improve your results!
  11. Avoid distractions, e.g. turn off your phone notifications (aka, time thief!)
  12. Check email in the afternoon and set aside a specific time period to do social media (more time thieves are afoot!) – trying not to peek & peck at both of these all day long, i.e. don’t spend your day simply putting out fires!
  13. And if possible, focus on what you do best and delegate the rest, so you can really optimize your productivity.By delegating the things that you’re not so stellar at, and that someone else can do better in a fraction of time or cost – isn’t that just the definition of ‘productivity’
    = the effectiveness of productive effort.
  14. Recognize your accomplishments and build in rewards for effort – but not necessarily for the achievement itself.
  15. Drink more water.Did you know that being just mildly dehydrated can lower your work performance by 25-50%?!
  16. Get an accountability partner – someone to literally keep you on task and moving forward.
  17. And finally… don’t say ‘yes’ to everything. ‘No’ is perfectly acceptable once in a while 🙂

RECIPE

 When you need a brain boost and just a touch of bliss in your day, grab one (or three!) of these dark & delicious beauties and you’ll be feeling energized and inspired in no time 😉

Bliss + Brain-boosting Choco Bites

Ingredients

½ cup coconut oil, unrefined
½ cup cacao powder, unprocessed (not Dutch)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup finely shredded coconut, unsweetened

*If you’re allergic or just don’t like coconut, you can substitute it with a combination of flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and/or coarsely chopped almonds – but do a combo and not the full amount of any one of those substitutes.

Note: flax & chia will both draw moisture and will make the bites drier.

Preparation

Heat coconut oil and cacao powder in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth and coconut oil has melted, then remove from heat.

Whisk in maple syrup and vanilla extract until well blended.

Add shredded coconut (or other nut/seed combo), and stir vigorously until well combined. It will look soupy!

Cover mixture and place in fridge until firm enough to easily form small bites (~ 20 mins).

Line a flat storage container with parchment, and shape the chilled chocolate “dough” into 1-inch balls – or larger if you dare!

Place on prepared surface, and loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer until firm (~ 30 mins).

Enjoy straight from the freezer or store bites in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 10 days. They can also be frozen in a freezer-safe airtight container for 2-3 months. (But they’ll never last that long!)

 Dark chocolate benefits:

  • Can lower blood pressure
  • May improve blood flow
  • Helps lower the risk of heart disease
  • Can enhance cognitive processing, learning, memory, and recall

 

REFERENCES

Healthline – 17 Healthy and Practical Ways to Break Out of Laziness

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-being-lazy

Forbes – 7 Ways to Be More Productive

https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2018/07/26/7-ways-to-be-more-productive/#8648417d9f78

Lifehack – How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks That Will 10x Your Productivity

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/more-productive-4-ways-that-really-work.html

Medium (The Startup) – How to Be Productive: 10 Ways to Actually Work Smarter

https://medium.com/swlh/how-to-be-productive-10-ways-to-actually-work-smarter-16fea8087ead

Actioned – How to Be More Productive: The Ultimate Guide

https://www.actioned.com/how-to-be-more-productive/

AquaCooler Direct – 10 Facts: Dehydration and Its Effect on Productivity at Work

https://aquacoolerdirect.com.au/blogs/news/10-facts-about-dehydration-and-its-effect-on-employee-productivity

University Health News Daily – Chocolate Benefits for Your Brain: Memory and Mood Improvement

https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/memory/2-chocolate-benefits-for-your-brain-improves-memory-and-mood/

Creating a Mindset for Health

So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?

That thing is mindset.

Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset. Yes, we do.

And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating mindset study.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.

What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active!

How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true? (more…)

10 Signs You May Have a Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are like chemical messengers that govern nearly every cellular action in our body.

While very important, our sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are actually not essential for our survival. They are responsible for sexual functioning and fertility, as well as in more of a “beauty” capacity – keeping our skin, hair & nails vital, and youthful looking.

On the other hand, stress hormones (like cortisol & epinephrine, also known as adrenaline) are critical to our survival because they synthesize proteins, maintain cellular electrolyte balance, regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, and transport glucose into our cells – essentially feeding our brain. These hormones are so crucial, that in times of chronic stress, cortisol (the “hormone of stress”) will be made at the expense of sex hormones.

No wonder we can start feeling whacked out at certain stages of life!

So, what happens when hormones stop playing nice together?

We often experience a ripple effect, even when there’s a slight hiccup in hormone function. Also, due to the fact that the interconnected nature of your endocrine system, one hormonal imbalance can lead to an additional one, causing multiple symptoms and overlapping health issues.

The 10 most common signs that you probably have a hormonal imbalance

  1. Poor sleep – not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
  2. Fatigue that’s not alleviated by sleep
  3. Night sweats and hot flashes
  4. Resistant excess weight and body fat, especially around the belly
  5. Low libido or sexual dysfunction
  6. Acne or other skin issues
  7. PMS symptoms
  8. Foggy thinking (brain fog!) and difficulty concentrating
  9. Mental health issues – depression and anxiety in particular
  10. Mood changes like irritability and anger

(more…)

What the numbers on the bathroom scale really mean

We all know the frustration of working hard to maintain a healthy body weight, only to step on the bathroom scale and see the numbers going in the wrong direction – or not quickly enough in the right direction! Been there?

Here are 6 truths about those annoyingly normal daily weight fluctuations:

1) Scale weight is not a true measurement of your health. It is simply one of many variables you should be taking into account to determine if you are approaching or maintaining your optimal body weight.

2) When you wake up after fasting – usually for around 12 hours, you’re completely dehydrated and at your lowest weight of the day. This is why it’s recommended to weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you’ve voided, and before you eat or drink anything.

3) Speaking of voiding… you can experience daily weight fluctuations of 1-3+ pounds due to waste that could be lingering in your large colon. Who knew poop could be so heavy?

Be sure to keep the bowels moving with plenty of fluids, plant-based fiber, and targeted supplementation, if necessary. (more…)

7 Simple Ways To Eat More Mindfully

Eating as mindfully as we might want, is not realistic for many of us, especially with work, busy families, physical routines, and all the other daily distractions.

Here are seven simple ideas to help you establish more mindful eating habits, and perhaps start to reconnect the body and mind again.

1. Tune in to your body’s signals

Rather than just eating on emotional cues (different for each of us, like sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness, stress or even just boredom) we can learn to tune into and be better listeners of our body’s actual hunger signals.

For example, is your stomach growling, is your energy low, are you feeling a little lightheaded, or even ‘hangry’?

2. Put food on a… plate

Too obvious? Think about this: eating out of a bag is not a very mindful practice! So, get in the habit of placing even snacks on a plate before eating them. This helps you to take notice of exactly what and how much you’re actually eating.

Also, acknowledge the time, effort and passion you put into creating your meal – consider all the ingredients, and the preparation and intention involved in getting the food from stove to plate!

3. Sit…at a table

Now that you’re eating from a plate, continue “formalizing” your gastronomic experience by always sitting at a table.

This helps to pull your attention back to your food and to your eating habits. It has also been shown to dramatically reduce overeating – especially for those who tend to eat in front of the TV.

4. Absolutely, positively NO devices at the table

Now that you’re sitting at a proper table, designating the first few minutes of a meal for quiet, mindful practice can be beneficial – for everyone at the table. This includes putting away the devices and turning off the TV. (more…)