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…)

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

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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…)

The Great Soda Debate: Regular or Diet – is one really healthier than the other?

You don’t have to be a health nut to know that soda isn’t good for you. But is it really all that bad? Is it ok to just have it once in a while? And if you’re going to have it, is it better to have the regular ol’ sugar-filled version or the zero calorie “diet” kind?

Let’s weigh-in on the facts:

Regular soda

PROS:

  • It doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin) that have gotten a really bad rap lately

 

CONS:

  • The sugar! A 12-ounce can of cola has about 8 teaspoons; almost the daily limit as recommended by the American Heart Association
  • Drinking 1-2 cans a day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%
  • Regular sodas are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which is linked to obesity, heart disease, and fatty liver disease

Diet soda

PROS:

  • It feeds the craving for something sweet without adding extra calories or carbs, if you’re concerned about this
  • Since it’s sugar-free, diabetics can sip without worrying about the direct hit to their insulin and blood sugar levels

 

CONS:

  • While diet soda may be considered ‘safe’ for diabetics, they are far from nutritious as the artificial sweeteners in diet soda actually cause you to crave more sugar. When we drink it, our body is expecting sugar. Then when it doesn’t get it, it responds with even more cravings – for sugar!
  • Diet soda drinkers tend to gain more weight particularly around their belly. One study said that frequent drinkers of diet soda gained up to three times more belly fat than their non-diet soda drinking counterparts.
  • Diet soda is now being linked with cancer, heart attacks, strokes and neurological disorders.

(more…)