Everything You Need to Know About the Keto Diet

Chances are high that you have heard someone talking about the “keto” diet, short for “ketogenic.” And when they talk about it, more than likely they are also raving about all the pounds they have lost and how good they feel. And, chances are also good that has made you curious about it. Let’s find out more about this hot eating plan and if it’s for you.

What is the Keto Diet?

Simply put, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, similar to the Atkins or Paleo diets that many have followed. It differs from those, however, because the goal of the keto diet is to make the body produce “ketones,” which puts your body into “ketosis.” That metabolic state means that your body will start burning stored fat for energy, rather than glucose. That’s because if you don’t put carbs in, your body won’t turn to them for a source of energy first. 

The recommended percentage for a standard keto diet 75% fat, 15 to 20% protein and 5 to 10% carbohydrates. A calculator like this can help you keep track of how your diet is measuring up. 

Some foods that are recommended, according to Healthline include:

  • Seafood
  • Low-carb vegetables, like kale, broccoli, zucchini spinach, etc. 
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Meat and poultry (grass-fed encouraged)
  • Eggs
  • Coconut oil
  • Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Berries
  • Butter and cream (best in moderation)
  • Shirataki noodles
  • Olives
  • Coffee and tea (unsweetened)
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa power

Foods to avoid include:

  • Grains and starches in all forms
  • Fruit (other than berries) 
  • Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.)
  • Sugar
  • Legumes
  • Sweetened drinks
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Alcohol

What Are Some Pros Of The Keto Diet? 

As described above, if followed comprehensively, the keto diet should help you burn stored fat because there is no longer glucose, or quick energy, to burn off. That means that you should be dropping pounds relatively quickly, while still feeling full given the high protein nature of the plan.

But that’s not the only benefit. Ongoing studies have pointed to a variety of potential health benefits, from lowered blood pressure to improved memory and life span (although this study was only done on mice). As the diet has only gained widespread use relatively recently, more studies are sure to be forthcoming, but early returns look promising. And of course, weight loss of any kind leads to less risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

It also has been shown to reduce seizures in children, which means that it may have potential for helping with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis—although no studies yet prove that. But its potential to help with disabilities is exciting.

What Are Some Cons Of The Keto Diet?

First of all, it is very hard to stay on it for any length of time; that’s because the food is relatively limited, which means you need to plan ahead for virtually every meal. And as with most restrictive plans, when you go off the keto diet and resume natural eating patterns, you might quickly regain weight as you add carbs back in.

Also, some people who start the keto diet complain of the “keto flu,” a general feeling of fatigue, potentially accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, as their body transitions. That can often be warded off with plenty of water and sleep as your body adjusts. 

In addition it can be dangerous for some people—for example, people with insulin-dependent diabetes should never follow a keto diet. It’s best to always check with a medical professional before beginning a highly specialized diet as you might have additional health issues that would make you a poor candidate. In addition, it is smart to talk with a nutritionist to get sample diets to start you off on the right foot.

The Keto Diet Might Be Right For You If:

  • You are able to follow the meal planning advice carefully, preparing meals in advance and packing food when you go to work and out for meals. 
  • You don’t use it as an excuse to fill up on butter and bacon. If you routinely choose unhealthy fats and protein sources, you actually could raise your risk of diabetes and heart issues. 
  • You have been deemed a good candidate by a trusted health professional.

There are many ways to eat to lose weight, gain more energy and combat disease. The good news is that there is an eating plan for everyone—and the keto diet might be right for you. 




Earth Day | What Does It Mean to Go Green?

tips for how to go green this Earth Day

‘Going Green’ means to live life, as an individual as well as a community, in a way that is friendly to the natural environment and is sustainable for the earth, and Earth Day is the annual day of awareness that celebrates the green lifestyle.  

It is an opportunity for individuals and communities to come together to adopt new behaviors and share knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles.  As a result, Earth Day reminds us that small changes in how we live our daily lives today can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for future generations.

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. – Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

To meet today’s environmental challenges, it’s important for everyone to consider the effects of their actions at home and in the workplace. Here are a few tips and resources for environmental stewardship provided by experts at the World Watch Institute:

Recycle

Recycling programs exist in cities and towns across the United States, and as a result, helps save energy and protect the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources necessary to generate roughly 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity. This is enough to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years!

What you can do:

  • Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.

Turn Off the Lights

On the last Saturday in March hundreds of people, businesses, and governments around the world turn off their lights for an hour as part of Earth Hour, a movement to address climate change.

What you can do:

  • Although Earth Hour happens once a year, you can make an impact every day by turning off lights during bright daylight, or whenever you will be away for an extended period of time.

Make the Switch

Compared to traditional incandescents, energy-efficient lightbulbs such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have the following advantages:

  • Typically use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, saving you money
  • Can last 3-25 times longer.

What you can do:

  • Plan to switch out your traditional incandescents with energy saving bulbs the next time your old bulbs die out.

Turn ON the Tap

It is known that plastic water bottles create huge environmental problems, and therefore the energy required to transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year. The kicker here? About 75 percent of water bottles are not recycled, rather, they end up in landfills, litter roadsides, and pollute waterways and oceans. 

What you can do:

  • Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with water from the sink. The United States has more than 160,000 public water systems, and by eliminating bottled water you can help to keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of the landfill, as well as save money on water costs.

Turn DOWN the Heat

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that consumers can save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling bills just by adjusting their thermostats. Turning down the heat by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours can result in savings of 5–15 percent on your home heating bill.

What you can do:

  • Turn down your thermostat when you leave for work, or use a programmable thermostat to control your heating settings.

Support Food Recovery Programs

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted, including 34 million tons in the United States annually.

What you can do:

  • Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations.
  • Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.

Buy Local

Local and small businesses are more sustainable because they are often more accountable for their actions, have smaller environmental footprints, and innovate to meet local conditions—providing models for others to learn from.

What you can do:

  • Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.

Get Out and Ride

Carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as gas bills. Cities across the country are investing in new mobility options like bike sharing programs, and people are renting for short-term use. As a result, there’s been a significant reduction in emissions.

What you can do:

  • If available, use your city’s bike share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only $75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money!
  • Even if without bike share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.

Share a Car

Car sharing programs spread from Europe to the United States nearly 13 years ago and are increasingly popular, with U.S. membership jumping 117 percent between 2007 and 2009.  Consequently, in 2009 car-sharing was credited with reducing U.S. carbon emissions by more than 482,000 tons. 

What you can do:

  • Join a car share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the U.S., with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles.
  • Of course, if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.

Plant a Garden

Whether you live in a studio loft or a house in the suburbs, growing your own vegetables is a simple way to bring fresh and nutritious food literally to your doorstep with minimal impact. 

What you can do:

  • Plant some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are cheap and easy to find, and when planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough to make several salads worth throughout a season.

Compost

What better way to fertilize a personal garden than using your own composted organic waste. Likely, you will not only reduce costs by buying less fertilizer, but you will also help to cut down on food and other organic waste.

What you can do:

Reduce Your Meat Consumption

Livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for about 23 percent of all global water used in agriculture. You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you consume can go a long way.

What you can do:

  • Consider substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option. And if you are unable to think of how to substitute your meat-heavy diet, websites such as Meatless Monday and Eating Well offer numerous vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment.

Making small changes and adopting sustainable practices, for instance, ride sharing, buying local,  turning off the lights, or recycling can make an enormous impact on the environment over the long term. 

Click here for more on Earth Day 2019 and ideas for change.




14 Cheap but Fun Ideas for a Valentine (or Any Time!) Date Night

Love isn’t free…that is, if you are trying to prove your love with an extravagant Valentine’s Day gift. In fact a survey from the National Retail Foundation found that Americans are expected to spend a record amount on Valentine’s Day this year…an average of $161.96, which is up 13 percent from the average in 2018.

Think quick: Where did that money go last year? We bet you don’t even remember because it was probably either wasted on an overpriced, mediocre meal at a crowded restaurant or spent on a “meh” gift like a stuffed animal or chocolates. This year, instead of spending money on stuff you don’t want or need, why not create some real memories with an activity that is both frugal and fun. Here are 14 choices we love.

  1. Get physical. Come on; we’re talking exercise. There’s not much that’s more romantic than working out with your partner—think about it; you’re in close proximity, you’re dressed down, and you’re doing something that will help you live an even longer life together. A class like yoga or Pilates can be a good choice with its relaxing combination of mindfulness and stretching, but you could also take a romantic stroll or go ice skating or roller skating. Don’t forget to hold hands during couples skate. 
  2. Cook at home. This is a no brainer…cooking together doubles as an activity and a meal. Since Valentine’s Day is the second biggest restaurant day of the year (after Mother’s Day), there’s no reason to go out with the masses when you can cook a perfectly fabulous steak or other luscious delicacy at home. 
  3. Dine out for dessert.  If you really want to eat out, your best choice is a sweet treat…you’ll spend far less than you would forking out big bucks for overpriced pasta. Less money, far more fun. Find a bakery that has your favorite desserts or go to the nicest restaurant in town and eat something decadent a deux, with a price tag that’s pretty sweet. 
  4. Sing karaoke. If there’s ever a night that calls for a power ballad duet, it’s Valentine’s. Find a local hotspot and sing your heart out to your beloved. 
  5. Go window shopping. Honestly just looking and trying on is half the fun. Go to a posh boutique or specialty store and indulge your inner fashionista by trying on clothes and shoes you’d never buy—and maybe would never even wear outside the dressing room. Or go to a thrift store and pick out comical options for your partner.
  6. See a production at a local community theater. Seek out free or low-priced local shows to have a Broadway-style evening at an affordable price.
  7. Get your paint on. Whether painting a keepsake piece of pottery or attending a “wine and paint” night where an instructor helps you create a masterpiece, getting arty together makes for a fun evening—and you’ll get to bring a souvenir home.
  8. Visit a museum. Fun fact: Many libraries have culture passes that offer free or reduced admission to local museums. 
  9. Babysit for a friend or relative. This maybe doesn’t count as the most romantic night ever, but you’ll feel good letting them have an evening out—and you can see whether parenthood appeals.
  10. Plan your dream vacation. Get on your devices and research a place you’ve always wanted to visit—or that you think your partner has always wanted to visit—and create an itinerary. Dare to dream.   
  11. Have a scavenger hunt. Make clues based on special places the two of you have been and hide them around town. Or if the weather is bad, take it indoors to a mall. 
  12. Participate in a trivia night. Many restaurants and pubs host trivia nights; make it a double date or join with some others and make a team for an information-packed night out. 
  13. Find a bar with free music. Check out the local arts paper to find a place or two that offers free music. Don’t forget to tip the musicians, though. 
  14. Huddle in with board games or a movie. Light some candles, open a bottle of wine…what more would you need? 




Resolution Reboot: Ditch the February Funk and Recommit to Your Resolutions

When February rolls around, some of us fist pump the air. “Yay! A whole month with my resolution.” Others (a larger amount, by the way) think, “Ugh. I have already failed.” Here’s the thing: February is a great time to reboot your resolution. In fact, ANY TIME is a great time. There is nothing magical about January 1.

As author and behavioral scientist Daniel Pink shares in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, “imbuing an otherwise ordinary day with personal meaning generates the power to activate new beginnings.”

That means that while January 1 carries a weighty significance as a change catalyst, we really could choose any day as that ideal day for new beginnings. So, why not today?

Here are three common resolution fails, along with reasons why now is the perfect time to start back up.

 

  1. Your gym membership is already gathering dust.

If you were one of the hordes who enthusiastically joined a gym at the beginning of the year, you are far from alone. If you are one who quit going by February 1 (or earlier!), again, far from alone. In fact, one survey found that nearly half of Americans had given up their exercise resolution to hit the gym by the end of January. Some felt judged; others found a gym membership too pricey; and still others couldn’t find the time.

But February is actually a fantastic time to give the gym one more shot—precisely because so many people have abandoned it, thus negating at least one of the reasons mentioned above. Of course a gym can feel intimidating when it’s overly crowded; you can feel as though you’re not getting your money’s worth when every station is in use or you’re turned away from class; and it can be extra hard to fit into your schedule when you have to wait to get a parking spot or time on the machines.

And remember, a gym isn’t the only place to get your sweat on. Temps are starting to climb from the polar freeze of January, and February is a great month to try snow shoeing or ice skating or even a walk outdoors to spot those crocuses pushing through. Or, you could commit to using your Netflix for something other than binge watching and find an exercise video to try.

 

  1. You gave up eating healthfully.

Here’s something that people don’t always realize: Winter fruits and vegetables aren’t always that exciting. In fact, it can be far easier to start a healthy eating plan as you head toward spring and the promise of berries and tomatoes. Alas, we’re not there yet, but you can still make strides in that direction, incorporating frozen fruits into smoothies, or trying a new recipe with a winter veggie, knowing that more choices are around the corner.

And remember that eating well doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Even making small changes—forgoing that afternoon vending machine cookie or after-dinner ice cream—can add up to big results when done consistently, and is often far more palatable than making a drastic change that’s hard to sustain.

 

  1. The clutter has piled up—again.

Did you join the Marie Kondo bandwagon? The pressure to decide if your items “spark joy” can be intense. But what many would-be organizers don’t realize is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A better strategy if you want to keep your house a little more organized is to adopt some daily habits that keep clutter at bay. For example:

  • Handle the mail and recycle liberally every day so it doesn’t pile up. (Bonus: You’ll never get hit with a late fee if you take care of paying bills as soon as they come in.)
  • Create a system to deal with jackets, shoes, mittens, etc. You might be surprised at what the calming effect of a clutter-free entry. This change alone can make your house feel less disorganized.
  • Run your dishwashers every night and empty it every morning so dishes don’t pile up in the sink.

There! With these three small changes you’ll be back on track…and you can tackle those drawers and closets at your leisure.

(And if you want to feel a little better about not getting rid of everything in your house, consider this story of a mom who inadvertently gave away one of her son’s mugs, which unfortunately was crammed with cash. No joy there!)




Keeping Your Office Healthy: Five Ways to Keep Germs at Bay

It used to be that one sign of a good worker was just powering through the day, even if you felt crummy. Now, the opposite is true, as workplaces get wise to the fact that a sick employee isn’t likely to get much done—except potentially spreading their germs to the rest of the team.

In fact, those coughing, sneezing coworkers can be a health hazard to everyone around them—just by breathing. One study estimates that more than 60 percent of people with flu symptoms admitted to leaving their house—presumably many of them to head to work—while they were sick. And that’s a lot of germs being passed around, infecting even healthy people.

Here are some ways that the HR team can contribute to a healthier workplace.

 

  1. Offer sick days

 

Many employees come to work sick because they think it’s expected. But creating a relatively lenient sick day policy might actually save you money in the long run, if workers stay home and keep their germs to themselves. One study found that “presenteeism,” the lack of productivity in workers experiencing health problems, can cost U.S. companies up to $150 billion annually.

 

Sick days can help stem the tide of germ-sharing in the workplace, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers found that flu cases dropped in cities that adopted paid sick-leave mandates.

The key is to make sure employees know the policy and the protocol for calling out sick (see below for more on helping them telecommute.) And be aware of the duration of the illness; you might need to touch base with an employee if a spate of sick days is stretching into a case for when short-term disability insurance should potentially kick in.

 

  1. Create work-at-home protocols.

 

When deadlines loom, many employees might feel that taking a sick day will just make things worse when they return. According to one study, more than 40 percent of employees said that was the reason they came to the office while sick—to avoid future work overload.

 

But the truth is that many employees can do key parts of their job remotely—even if it isn’t feasible all the time. However, that can raise the question of whether the employee has actually taken a “sick day” or not, which can impact their compensation. That’s why you might want to consider implementing a policy that covers some of those issues, such as how their time will be tracked and how many “work-at-home-while-sick” days each employee can take.

 

Having a clear policy can protect your company so you can verify that work is actually being done, while avoiding the risk of having employees spreading germs to others.

 

  1. Encourage your team to get flu shots.

 

Of course it’s best to get the flu shot earlier in the season, but it’s never too late to help prevent an office epidemic. In fact, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season.” And since flu outbreaks happen at different times in different communities, you may still have time. If yours hasn’t hit yet, getting vaccinated pronto could help keep people safe from it.

 

  1. Kill workplace germs as fast as you can.

 

It’s amazing how fast a virus can move in an office,” says Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and coauthor of The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu. “If one person comes in with the cold or flu, he can infect as many as one-third of his fellow office mates within a day.”

 

Pay special attention to wiping down objects in community areas like the printer, copier, refrigerator handles, and door handles—and don’t forget the coffee pot. And encourage employees to wipe down their stations frequently also.

 

  1. Encourage healthy habits.

 

One of the best ways to build immunities that help stave off illness is to adopt healthy behaviors, such as getting adequate sleep, eating well and exercising regularly.

You can play a role by sharing articles with healthy tips (such as those found on this site) or by encouraging employees to sip water and munch on healthier choices, if your workplace offers snacks at meetings.

 

With these tips, a healthy office can be within reach.




The top 10 health and nutrition trends to look for in 2019

Health and nutrition trends come and go, and 2019 is guaranteed to bring about some interesting changes to keep an eye on. Natural Grocers surveyed more than 70 of the company’s nutrition experts and identified the top 10 trends in health and nutrition in 2019.

  1. Mitochondrial optimization will keep healthy fats in focus. Microbiome has been a buzzword for the past few years, but this year, it is mitochondria. Mitochondria convert oxygen and food into the energy, and when your mitochondria are dysfunctional, but you can become vulnerable to degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2019, expect to hear more about mitochondrial health and look to see brands embracing more high-fat focused and ketogenic products to support optimal mitochondrial function.
  2. Collagen and bone broth are easier than ever.  Collagen has gained mainstream interest over the past year. In 2019, as more collagen and bone broth products enter the market, so will convenient opportunities for consumers to take collagen on a daily basis. Companies are looking for unique and simple ways for consumers to try out bone broth, including bone broth protein bars, pre-made soups and even bone-broth infused coffee.
  3. Say goodbye to sugar. Consumers are continuing to stay aware of how much sugar is added to almost everything they eat. This year, nutritionists are urging consumers to learn how to break up with sugar, claiming once you become a savvy monitor of added sugar, it will become easier to avoid it.
  4. A mushroom boom.  Mushrooms hold the power to support the immune system, blood sugar balance, brain health, liver health, respiratory health, hormone balance and can even boost energy levels. In response to the growing mountain of research promoting the health benefits of mushrooms, the supplement, grocery and even body-care industries are introducing more ways to introduce mushrooms to consumers. We’ll continue to see the category grow, with more mushroom teas, tonics, broths and coffees making an appearance in 2019.
  5. Nootropics + neuroplasticity Neuroplasticity is the now proven principle that we can change the structure and function of our brains throughout our lives and that our thoughts, emotions and behavior are the primary means of doing that. The discovery of neuroplasticity has led to the explosion of natural nootropics. Nootropics are substances that can be taken to improve mental performance in healthy people, and they are most often used to boost memory, focus, creativity, intelligence and motivation. Nootropics may also reduce age-related declines in brain function. Look for more brain-boosting formulas on the supplement shelves in the coming year
  6. Promoting the body’s ability to heal itself. We will see companies meet the demands of consumers who want to swap their use of over-the-counter (OTC) meds and prescription drugs for natural remedies that support the body in healing. Instead of opening the medicine cabinet, people will use a combination of lifestyle choices, herbal remedies and vitamin supplementation to support the body in times of discomfort. Immune support remedies like mushrooms, elderberry, manuka honey throat sprays and natural zinc lozenges will dominate.
  7. Green beauty boom. Consumers are becoming more aware about the slew of chemicals that come from body care products, including ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, and are looking for products with ingredient lists that don’t require a chemistry degree to understand. In 2019, expect companies to offer a wide variety of clean body care products with simple, natural ingredients that work.
  8. Ingredient lists over nutrition facts.  In 2019, expect to see nutrition labels demoted and instead, consumers will read and make food choices based on ingredient labels. Rather than glorifying macronutrient logs and adhering to extremely strict dietary guidelines, 2019 will foster a friendlier relationship with food that focuses on simple, clean ingredients in products made with whole, real foods.
  9. Lutein reigns supreme over blue light. Blue light—from our smart phones, tablets, computers, TVs and even light bulbs—has become ever-present, and a growing body of research is showing that all of this blue-light exposure can damage the retina of the eye and can lead to age-related macular degeneration1 Enter lutein. Lutein preferentially accumulates in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, where it filters damaging blue light and increases macular pigment density. In 2019, lutein will solidify its role as protector of the eyes and the brain.
  10. Love your liver. In 2018, research showed millennials were getting fatty liver disease faster than any other age group. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 40 percent of U.S. adults have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In 2019, it’s expected that consumers will clean up their diets, and there will be an increase in sales of herbal supplements that support liver health, like milk thistle and berberine, as well as MCT oil.

 




How to stay on track with your weight loss goals this New Year

It’s no surprise that losing weight is the top three of most New Year resolutions year over year. But, it tends to be easier said than done. Life can easily get in the way, and come February 1st, some are left feeling defeated.

But, your New Years goal can carry you through 2019 and help you make life-long changes with regard to your weight and overall health — just as long as you keep things in perspective, take it slow, and set realistic and measurable goals for yourself. In addition, making fitness and healthy foods something to enjoy rather than a must-do is the key to keeping weight off. Mental clarity, improvements to your skin and sleeping habits, and a boost in confidence are all things to enjoy with living a consistently healthy and active lifestyle.

Ready to make the change and have 2019 be your healthiest year yet? Below are some top tips for accomplishing your New Years weight loss goals.

  1. Set measurable, attainable goals. Goal setting is key and will help you clarify what you want to accomplish and within what time frame. Creating a goal — along with detailed action steps — will make your weight loss journey feel attainable versus unreachable.
  2. Track your progress.Documenting personal information and your individual process can help you stay on track toward your goals. Results are important to keep you motivated. Finding a health-related app — like MyFitnessPal — is a great way to track not only your food but also your exercise. Additionally, the app lets you set caloric goals and nutritional goals for each day.
  3. Find an easy-to-follow, flexible program that works for you.A weight loss program that is simple, safe and effective will be more manageable for the long term and will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Additionally don’t be afraid to try something new. Exercise should be something you enjoy, and finding an activity that your excited about will help you maintain an active habit further down the road.
  4. Be mindful of your eating habits.Understanding the motivation behind your food choices can help you make more conscious decisions. Try and choose real, fresh food whenever possible, which will make your weight loss manageable for the long term. Have a craving for a certain snack? Take to Google and see if there’s a healthier alternative made from all natural products. Meal subscription services — like HungryRoot — are another fantastic option to try, even for a week or two. HungryRoot offers comfort food — like cheese, chocolate cookies, casseroles, Pad Tai and more — all certified vegan and gluten free.
  5. Sleep well and avoid stress.Sleep deprivation and stress can increase your hunger and cravings leading to higher calorie intake. Additionally, solid sleep will allow you to better recover from intense exercise. Limit T.V. and cell phone use an hour before bedtime to fully enable your body to wind down. Another habit to try that could aid in sleep? Meditation.
  6. Eat plenty of protein.Protein has powerful effects on appetite such as increasing the feeling of fullness, reducing hunger and can help you eat fewer calories. Protein should be included in every meal and is available no matter what your dietary decisions are.
  7. Control your environments.Stocking your kitchen with healthy options, choosing the right restaurants, and bringing your own healthy snacks will help you avoid temptations. Are you a sucker for Oreos or a pint of ice cream? Cut down your grocery list by eliminating those items, or try to find healthier alternatives.



Sleep is the Most Fundamental Part of Your Daily Wellness Routine

Man waking up in bed. Most of us know that sleep is important. Our sleep — or lack thereof — can make or break a day, a job, or a relationship. With enough sleep we’re happier, healthier, more productive people. Without it, we become moody zombies who can barely remember what day it is, only that the weekend seems too far away.

We spend so much time, money, and effort on other aspects of our health and wellbeing. We pay for gym subscriptions and yoga classes. We make a mess in our kitchens every morning attempting to make a green juice that’ll somehow fix our tired minds and bodies immediately. (That, or queuing for a giant coffee becomes a top priority in our morning routine.) What if we were to invest in something utterly free — our sleep.

Sleep is Essential For Wellness

It is recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. And when your colleague at work says that she can survive on just four hours a night, ignore her. While we may be able to complete a given task on less sleep than our well-rested counterparts, throw an obstacle into the equation and we’re rendered useless.

Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, authored a study on how sleep deprivation disrupts the ability of our brain cells to communicate with each other. “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly,” he said in a statement. “This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.”

Sleep deprivation not only makes us less effective at our jobs and all areas in our life, it can also have detrimental effects on our long-term mental and physical wellbeing. A lack of sleep has been linked to anxiety and depression, while physically it can lead to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

How to Improve Your Sleep Habit

Here are four things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep:

  • Exercise: By doing at least half an hour of exercise a day – walking, jogging, swimming, whatever gets you moving – you’re giving your body a stretch and distracting your mind from whatever stresses are plaguing you. They’ll thank you by shutting down when you need them to.
  • Eat right: This doesn’t just mean eating healthily, although of course that’s an important part of any wellness routine. There are certain foods which actually promote sleep – for instance, almonds and cereal – so by having these an an evening snack you can boost your chances of getting those zzzs in at a reasonable hour.
  • Get some fresh air: Whether it’s a hike in the mountains or a quick power walk around the block, a little fresh air can go a long way in helping you settle down at night. Or why not dine al fresco whenever’s the weather’s nice and eat your lunch in your nearest park? Your eyes will thank you for the change from your computer screen.
  • Establish an evening routine: Winding down for the night early can make all the difference in sleeping peacefully or tossing and turning until morning. Switch off those screens an hour before bedtime and do something that will help you relax. Have a bath, read a book, meditate, hang out with the cat, fold the laundry, whatever it takes. Do this regularly as a prelude to sleep and you’ll find that your brain is that much more able to unwind.

By weaving these habits into your daily routine, you’ll start to see the impacts in your wider life. With a body and mind that is well rested and alert, you’ll be that much more resilient both physically and emotionally.




3 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System

Elderberry teaFlu season is in full-swing, which has people hiding underneath the covers and doing whatever else possible to avoid getting sick. While the best path toward a healthy immune system is a combination of a proper diet, sleep, and exercise, there are a number of supplements that can help boost your defenses against the myriad viruses swirling around offices, schools, and public gatherings this time of year.  

Here are three supplements that can bolster your body’s defenses. They’re all natural remedies that have been helping humans fend off sickness for centuries. 

Elderberry

Elderberry can be purchased either in capsule or liquid form and is an excellent starting point for those in search of immune-boosting supplements. Its central compounds are known as “anthocyanins,” which not only help immune function, but can also reduce the severity of congestion in some people. Elderberry can reportedly reduce the longevity of flu symptoms by three days — a veritable lifetime for those who are feeling as if they’ve been hit by a truck.

Zinc

An essential mineral that works as an antioxidant within the body, zinc plays a critical role in proper immune system functionality. Zinc is necessary for the development and activation of T-cellswhich allow the immune system to operate at peak performance. While some know and love zinc due to its reported ability to reduce the duration of the common cold, its presence in the body can also help reduce the chances of catching a cold to begin with. Zinc is often sold in lozenge form, although tablets and capsules are also available. It can also be found in various foods, such as beans and nuts. 

Probiotics

Many people associate probiotics with gut health, and rightfully so. But did you know that as much as 70 percent of the immune system lives within the gastrointestinal system? As a result, poor gut health often leads to reduced overall immune functionality, which may manifest in the form of repeated colds, or even just a general feeling of malaise. This is often overlooked as people research ways to build up their immune health, yet it offers a powerful form of protection. Probiotics are essentially “good” bacteria that — when taken in supplement form — help to restore balance to the gut microbiome, fighting against disease and harmful pathogens in the process. A word of advice: don’t pay too close attention to colony forming units (CFUs) when shopping for probiotics supplements, as “more” doesn’t necessarily equate to “better” in this case. 

There’s nothing worse than feeling sick with an impending work-week ahead of you, and by the time you get to that point, it’s too late. So take preventative action now. By adding one or more of these supplements to your regimen, you can reduce your chances of becoming a sick day statistic. More than that, you’ll start to pave the way for long-term health and resilience. 




4 Natural Ways to Boost Your Energy at Work

Glass of water at a deskHow energized do you feel in your job? Are you battling to make it through each workday? According to the 2016 General Social Survey, a large portion of Americans are feeling tired in their daily working lives. Nearly 50 percent of people said they are often or always exhausted at work. People in 2016 were twice as likely to report that they were always exhausted compared to 20 years ago.

If you’re one of these people, it can be tempting to blame your job or the manic nature of modern life. But there are numerous things you can do to tweak and increase your energy levels on a daily basis. Here are four simple, natural ways to build resilience and energy back into your workday:

1. Eat Regularly

Breakfast cannot be overstated as a prerequisite for an energized day at work. By skipping breakfast, you’re opening up your body to a whole host of possible problems, from heart disease and diabetes to increased cravings later in the day. Make sure you make time for breakfast, then aim for consistent meal times throughout the workweek. Studies show that sticking to regular mealtimes encourages more healthy eating across the board. And during the day, have access to good, healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts.

2. Watch Your Magnesium

If you’re already eating regularly, take a more granular look into your diet. In particular, are you getting enough magnesium? This is an essential macromineral that helps to regulate the enzymes in the body, metabolism, and nerve functions. A magnesium deficiency causes a wide range of issues, from muscle aches to anxiety and sleep disorders. The foods with the highest amounts of naturally occurring magnesium include almonds and sunflower seeds—try to also choose whole grains wherever possible. If you decide to take magnesium supplements, consult with a doctor or naturopath first as these supplements can interfere with other drugs.

3. Take a Walk

It sounds obvious, but this is remarkably effective in practice. If you’re feeling tired, uninspired, or just need a break, head out for a quick, brisk walk around the block. Studies show that taking a walk at lunchtime can significantly improve productivity and lift moods. When you go on a walk, you’re breathing in lungfuls of fresh air, taking in the larger world around you, broadening your perspective, and stretching your legs. You can be guaranteed you’ll have more of a spring in your step when you walk back in the door. And if you don’t have time to leave the building, other studies reveal that taking walking breaks even more regularly—such as five-minute walks every hour—can boost energy levels.

4. Hydrate

Just over half of the human body is made of water, and your brain holds a significant amount of H2O. A study by H.H. Mitchell published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, found that 73 percent of the human heart and brain is made of water. So if you’re feeling dull, tired, or uninspired, could your brain literally be dry? Keep a glass of water by your side, and be aware of what could be further dehydrating you. It’s not just coffee and alcohol that are to blame—there are a whole host of hidden causes of dehydration.

By tweaking your habits and building new routines that help you to move, stay well fed, hydrated and filled with the right vitamins and minerals, you will start to feel dramatic changes in your overall energy levels and sense of wellbeing on the job.