Ever thought about brushing your skin?!?

So, we brush our hair and teeth every day (at least, I hope you do!), and we know that this keeps our hair shiny and healthy and our teeth free of tartar, plaque, and cavity-causing bacteria. But did you know there are many benefits of the ancient art of Skin Brushing??

If you’ve never heard of this before, you’re probably looking at the screen wondering if I made a typo or if I’m drinking and writing…haha…But let me fill you in on this very cool, very beneficial, and very inexpensive technique!

What exactly IS skin brushing?

Dry brushing is simply brushing your skin (entire body except your face) in a specific motion to support skin renewal, stimulate the lymphatic system (which in turn helps the immune, nervous and digestive systems), aids in the removal of toxins, exfoliates and gives you a sense of well-being. Dry brushing should be practiced each day, typically in the morning (before you shower.) source

So, Why should you brush your skin? 

Your skin is your largest organ, and it is an organ of elimination as well as barrier to the environment. It is estimated that one-third of daily impurities in your body are excreted through the skin. As we age, our bodies become less effective in shedding outer layers of dead skin cells. And toxins in the air and our environment also prey on our skin (wrinkles = bad).

•Because your body health and functioning depends in part on your skin, dry brushing will help clear away dead cells and toxins on the surface to help you absorb oxygen and nutrients, and encourage cell renewal.

•You are clearing excesses that are clogging things up in your skin and elimination system when you Skin Brush! If dead cells and toxins build up, your skin loses its ability to get rid of toxins and it then it places stress on other organs.

•Dry brushing helps skin look and feel better as the build-up is removed. The skin will start to glow after regular use.

•Dry brushing stimulates your glands, providing more moisture for the skin to help it look and fresher more vibrant.

•Skin brushing works from the outside in as well. Importantly, it increases and supports blood circulation. This alone is important, but better circulation also contributes to healthier muscle tone and better distribution of fat deposits.

•Skin body brushing stimulates the lymphatic system by aiding the flow of fluids in your body. Our lymphatic systems don’t have a “circulation pump” like the heart with blood flow – the lymphatic system actually relies on movements of our muscles to work. Our lymphatic system is very important in elimination as it moves toxins out, supporting the immune systems by producing white blood cells and generating antibodies.

•Many say that while we have lymph nodes throughout our body, the most important areas with the most nodes are under the arms (armpits) and inner thighs – so giving attention to these areas while brushing is a good practice.

•Dry brushing aids in better digestion.

•Body brushing works to support cleansing of the whole system, inside and out. Accumulated waster products in the body can contribute to illness or premature aging. source

I was just gifted my very own body brush yesterday so that I could try this myself, and I must say, after just one time of doing it, I notice a difference.  But, I can’t give away all the details in one post right? Gotta leave you with a little cliffhanger 😉

Stay tuned for my next post on my update after one week of dry body brushing, along with some “how to” instructions!

Ciao for now!

-E

Is your scale weighing you down?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched people (and ladies, it’s usually us) step on the scale at the gym and see their face overcome with defeat and shame. I want to run over to them and tell them to focus instead on inches lost instead of pounds; on strength gained instead of lost; and on energy and happiness that comes from exercise instead of the lethargy and depression that comes from being sedentary.

weight on scaleSource

Has this ever happened to you: You step on the scale one week to see you’ve lost 2 pounds (hooray!)…only to weigh in the next week and realize you’ve gained them both back (ugh)? It happens to the best of us, but the reality is that the number on the scale doesn’t mean a whole lot about your physical fitness, and it doesn’t mean jack SQUAT about your self worth.

number-on-a-scale    Source

 

The worst is when I hear someone say something like, “I gained 2 pounds since yesterday! What’s wrong with me??” Listen, it takes an EXCESS 3500 calories to gain one pound. So unless you ate an additional 7000 calories on top of what you normally ate, you didn’t truly gain a pound. I mean, I could weigh myself…step off the scale and drink a 16 oz water (zero calories mind you)…and step right back on that same scale and weigh one pound more. Would you believe I “gained a pound” right before your eyes in less than 5 minutes? Yeah, I thought so.

I can tell you from my own past experience that when being overly focused on weight and the number on that scale, I enjoyed working out less and actually saw less progress! Now, on the rare occasions that I weigh myself just to check in, I actually mildly panic if the number dips because I’m like, “oh no!! I better not be losing muscle!!”  Plus, did you know a pound of muscle takes up far LESS SPACE than a pound of fat. What does that mean? You could be getting smaller and tighter and not weigh an ounce less!  I know, right? Don’t you feel enlightened?

fat-VS-muscle Source

Do yourself a favor…break up with your scale for a while and instead, focus on how you feel. How’s your energy level?  Do you feel challenged with your physical activity level? Are you eating enough? How are your clothes fitting? Do you feel happy?

I can tell you that if you’ve ever felt like you were a slave to those numbers on the scale in front of you, giving yourself an opportunity to experiment with being free from that could open up a whole new way of looking at things. I may be completely wrong and full of boloney, but then again, what if I’m right 😉

Ciao for now,

-E

 

 

10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

I’ve been a horrible blogger lately…work has had me swamped. But I read this article and wanted to share in the meantime 🙂

Thought Catalog

Alex DramAlex Dram

1. You ascribe intent.

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others.

2. You’re the star of your own movie.

It is little wonder that you believe the world revolves around you. After all, you have been at the very center of every experience you have ever had.

You are the star of your own movie. You wrote the script. You know how you want it to unfold. You even know how you want it to end.

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Back in Action!

Well, I’ll start by stating the obvious…I haven’t been very good about blogging lately.  The good news is that it’s because a lot of excitement and busy-ness has been going on for me.  I figured I’d hope on here on this bright and sunny Monday morning and tell you guys all about it 🙂

For starters, I’ve been in a new position with Atlantic University School of Medicine, based in St. Lucia with U.S. hospital affiliations.

AUSOM campus

Atlantic University St. Lucia Campus

They had been a web/marketing client of mine for a while and when it was time for them to expand and open an office in Long Beach, NY (where I live, conveniently!), I came to mind as a fitting person to bring on board.  Given my interest in business operations and health/medicine, it seemed like a perfect fit! Because they are at a stage of growth, it is giving me an opportunity to partake in lots of different aspects of the business, from admissions to marketing. But, needless to say, it’s left me little time to do much else as I’ve been getting my bearings here!

New Office Selfie!

New Office Selfie!

 

On top of the new job, I have also been taking 2 online courses, which at one point, overlapped each other. Being that it’s been a while since I was in school, I wanted to challenge my mind again, and it was really great to see that the old noggin’ still has a knack for retaining and processing information! Here’s a certificate from the first one I completed:

Yay me :)

Yay me 🙂

 

So I’ve been a busy bee with lots of change and growth, but I haven’t forgotten about you guys 🙂 And now that I’m getting back into a routine again, I am going to be more consistent with the blog. I’ve been storing away ideas for posts, so get ready!

Ciao for now!

-E

What Women Need to Know To Lose Fat, Build Muscle, and Improve Performance (this one’s for you, ladies!)

With summertime and days at the beach right around the corner, this may be a time when many of you are feeling like you’re not quite bikini-ready. Some of you may have even been trying to get into shape over the winter and aren’t seeing the changes you had hoped for. I know for me, I see lots of men in the gym with toned bodies, great muscle definition and six-pack abs…and they don’t exactly seem to be going HAM to get it. I feel like I eat pretty clean and push myself, yet the results (while they are happening) are sloowwwwww. What gives?!

The thing is, women’s bodies differ significantly from men’s in terms of metabolism and somewhat in terms of exercise response. On top of that, there are considerable gender stereotypes and misconceptions that limit women’s ability to get useful advice about how to improve their physiques (i.e. the myth that lifting heavy will make you bulky and/or manly).

I found an article online by the Poliquin Group™ Editorial Staff on How Women’s Metabolism Differs From Men’s & What To Do About It that was so well written that I decided to share it with you all 🙂  They mention 5 key pieces of information that will empower you to meet your goals:

#1: At rest, women burn more glucose (carbs) than men and less fat. In addition, women tend to have greater fat storage after eating, which also contributes to their higher body fat percentage.

From an evolutionary perspective, it’s favorable for women to have more body fat because these fat stores will be used during pregnancy and lactation. Once young women become able to reproduce, their bodies will begin storing fat around the hips and thighs “locking it away” in preparation for having a baby.

The fat around the hips and thighs (called gluteofemoral fat) has a particularly high concentration of DHA, one of the three omega-3 fats. The theory is that gluteofemoral DHA fat is used to make breast milk, and that it is for the development of a baby’s brain.

Research suggests that U.S. women tend to have a low percentage of DHA in their gluteofemoral fat due to low intake of omega-3s. This typically leads to significant weight gain during pregnancy, because the woman’s brain is thought to monitor nutrient status throughout the body, sensing the low DHA stores.

This leads to excessive hunger cues, causing women to eat more, in the quest to store as much DHA as possible for nurturing an infant brain. In contrast, Japanese women have a much higher percentage of DHA in their fat due to high fish intake and are correspondingly leaner.

-!Heart Health trade Essential Omega III Fish Oil with Vitamin E--561800368

I personally like this brand…high quality, low toxins, and meets recommended doses of EPA and DHA. Click photo for more info.

What To Do About It: Regardless of whether you’re planning on having a baby, get adequate DHA in your diet. Shoot for a balanced ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats by limiting your intake of vegetable fats and oils.

Make your body metabolically flexible so that it is capable of burning fat for energy. Do this by limiting carbohydrates in your diet at certain times so that your body is forced to learn to burn fat. For example, try eating lower carb on a day when you aren’t training but higher carb on workout days. Doing anaerobic-style exercise such as weight lifting and sprints also improves the body’s metabolic flexibility.

 

 

#2: Women and men burn (and store) body fat differently. Women rely on fat for fuel during exercise to a much greater degree than men. This makes exercise absolutely essential for women to lose fat because of the unfortunate fact that women burn much less fat at rest.

In addition, women store fat right below the skin (subcutaneously), whereas men have more visceral fat. Visceral fat is metabolically active and a risk for cardiovascular health and insulin resistance. Meanwhile, for women, having a reasonable amount of lower body fat indicates better health and less heart disease risk!

Women tend to lose fat from the upper body first, but have a harder time losing lower body fat. As mentioned in #1, women’s bodies preferentially store fat for pregnancy, but they also have a greater number of alpha receptors in this region than men. The combination of alpha receptors and estrogen inhibits the loss of fat. Men have a higher total proportion of beta receptors, which makes it easier for them to mobilize fat to burn it off.

To get rid of stubborn lower body fat, research shows women must perform anaerobic training. For example, a recent study found that by adding a strength program to an aerobic exercise protocol produced superior fat loss. Women who did concurrent training lost 12.2 percent of fat mass from the legs, decreased hip circumference by 4 percent, and lost 9.7 percent of the original body fat. In contrast, the women who did aerobic training lost 5.7 percent fat mass from the legs, decreased hip circumference by 4 percent, and lost 5 percent of their original body fat.

Scientists suggest that the higher intensity of resistance exercise helps to stimulate the release of body fat from fat cells so that it can be burned for energy. In addition, it’s possible (though not definitive) that estrogen has a positive effect on fat burning during exercise via a few mechanisms:

• Estrogen appears to limit the breakdown of triglycerides in the blood stream for storage.

• Estrogen enhances epinephrine production for greater fat burning.

• Estrogen stimulates growth hormone, which plays a role in fat metabolism and stimulates blood flow.

What To Do About It: Perform strength training, favoring multi-joint exercises, with a focus on lower body and total body lifts such as squats, deadlifts, step ups, and lunges. Do high-intensity interval training on a track, bike, or by pushing a sled to target the alpha receptors and enhance fat loss from the lower body.

 

#3: Stress affects women’s metabolism, inhibiting fat loss. Of course, stress affects fat loss for everyone, but it’s possible certain kinds of stress are more harmful to women than men.

Stress leads to persistent cortisol secretion, and cortisol’s primary function is to increase blood sugar (bringing with it an insulin spike) so you have enough energy to get through a stressful situation.

When this becomes chronic, the body turns the hormone pregnenolone, which is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone, into progesterone, which is then used to make cortisol and aldosterone. Together these hormones lead to greater fat storage and more fluid retention. Not only will you have more cortisol, but you’ll have less estrogen and testosterone.

Women with lower testosterone than normal have a disadvantage when it comes to fat loss. Although elevated estrogen is not beneficial for loss, low estrogen isn’t either as we saw in #2, because it inhibits the greater fat oxidation that women experience during exercise. The body’s just not working right any more. Everything is out of whack and fat loss simply won’t happen.

What To Do About It:Find stress management strategies that work for you, whether it’s meditation, yoga, psychological therapy, or something else. (In addition, you might want to take an adaptogenic supplement if you think your adrenals are really out of whack)

Focus on optimizing your circadian rhythms. Consider that the body operates around a 24-hour circadian clock. Each person’s clock is slightly different, a trait known as chronotype or tendency toward being a morning or evening person. Chronotype reflects the time of the day that someone’s physical functions (hormone level, body temperature, cognitive faculties, eating and sleeping) are active.

When you adhere to your chronotype, you can promote balance and optimal health. When you go against the clock, the innate rhythms are disrupted. This will increase stress and make fat loss much more difficult.

 

#4: Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction tends to be detrimental for women but beneficial for men.

Intermittent fasting (IF) and calorie restriction is a glaring example of how stress negatively affects women’s metabolism compared to men. Both are metabolically beneficial for most men, allowing them to lose fat, lower inflammation, and improve disease risk factors.

However, research shows fasting is harmful for female reproductive health. Anecdotally, many women have reported that fasting has caused weight gain, blood sugar imbalance, sleeplessness, missed periods, and infertility.

Where men tend to lose fat with fasting, a large portion of women gain it. The mechanism behind this discrepancy likely has to do with how the female body responds to lack of calories. Scientists believe that calorie restriction, even sporadic restriction, causes hormonal dysregulation, and excess cortisol secretion with the body holding onto its fat stores. It’s a “protective response” as the body stores the fat for future survival when calories will be scarce.

What To Do About It: Avoid calorie restriction if you’re exercising at a high intensity or for long duration. Be very cautious with fasting. It sounds counter intuitive but if you give your body enough energy, with balanced fat, carbs and protein, your hormones will be in happy balance, stress will be lower, and your body will be more willing to give up your fat stores.

funny-picture-todays-to-do-eat-workout-be-awesome

#5: Young women have the same ability to build muscle as men. Older women appear to be at a disadvantage when it comes to building muscle.

A common belief is that women can’t build as much muscle as men because they don’t have as much testosterone. Technically this isn’t true. Recent studies show that protein synthesis and gene signaling that leads to muscle gains are nearly equal between young men and women.

However, women start out with less muscle and their bodies tend to be lighter and smaller than men’s, so increases a 10 percent increase in muscle for a woman will be smaller than a man’s in absolute terms.

In addition, very large increases in testosterone such as when a male goes through puberty or when one takes testosterone in the form of steroids do increase muscle mass. The small, transient post-workout increase doesn’t. Rather, the exercise-induced increase is thought to be linked to athletic performance.

A recent study illustrates this: Women and men performed a resistance training workout and then took a protein drink. Muscle protein synthesis was 2.3 times higher in men and 2.7 times higher in women than at rest. Men experienced a 45-fold higher increase in testosterone post-workout than the women, however this had no effect on protein synthesis or gene signaling, which are the primary factors for building muscle.

The exception is older women who have a reduced muscle building response to resistance exercise. They have lower protein synthesis than men of the same age in response to training, which appears to be maintained even when they take supplemental protein, however more research needs to be done regarding dosing.

It’s possible older women require a larger dose of protein or more of the amino acid leucine (which has been found to equalize protein synthesis in older and younger men).

What To Do About It: If you’re a woman who wants to put on muscle, you’re in luck! You won’t look like a man, but you will be able to build muscle in the same way men can. Consider this a good thing!

Do a periodized hypertrophy-style training program that favors moderate reps (8 to 12) and moderate load (65 to 85 percent of the 1RM) for a high volume.

If you just want to get lean, building muscle will help. A small increase in muscle mass will boost your metabolism significantly so you burn exponentially more calories at rest, enabling fat loss.

Use a training program that changes every 3 to 6 weeks to continually shock your body into adapting. Make sure to use heavy enough weights—one of the most common reason women don’t get results from training is that they use weights that are too light.

 

The takeaways:

  • Don’t starve yourself
  • Eat enough protein
  • Include healthy fats in your diet
  • Don’t be afraid of weights/lifting heavy
  • High Intensity Interval training is better than steady state cardio for fat loss
  • Keep stress levels under control

 

Ciao for now!

 

-E

 

 

5 Signs your adrenals are fried (aka Adrenal Fatigue)

I’ve been a bad blogger lately due to traveling and an exciting job transition (more to come asap on that!), but a good friend of mine posted some FANTASTIC information about adrenal fatigue, and I had to share!

the health honcho

Image

You may have heard of adrenal fatigue. It’s something people are becoming increasingly aware of, as the media is throwing the term around more frequently, but I find that many people really don’t know what it is, or just how detrimental it can be to our overall health. Not to mention – how did you get it and what can you do about it…

Your adrenal glands are two little walnut size glands that sit adjacent to your kidneys. (Your kidneys are also known as ‘renal’ glands. So, adjacent to renal glands = ad-renal. See what they did there?) Adrenal glands are sometimes call ‘stress glands’ as they produce an important hormone called cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) in response to stress. Many people put cortisol and stress in the same basket and think both are bad, when in reality, it’s the stress that’s bad. We need the cortisol in order for our…

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Ayurvedic Roast™ vs. Teeccino®: A Taste-Off!!

For those of you who tuned in last week, you read my glowing review of the organic herbal coffee alternative, Ayurvedic Roast™. And I mentioned that I had, in the past, tried Teeccino®, the reigning “champ” so to speak in the world of coffee alternatives. Now, as in the world of sports, you can only remain a champ so long as someone better doesn’t come along and take the title from you. I mentioned that I read online that “a blind taste test was conducted comparing Ayurvedic Roast™ with the top three coffee substitutes on the market (of which I’m certain Teeccino was included). Over 200 people tasted all four herbal coffees, with Ayurvedic Roast™ being chosen as the best tasting by the highest percentage of participants.” But since it had been years since I’d tried Teeccino, I thought it was only fair to do a current taste-off now that I’d discovered a viable contender.

ARvsTC
So I went out to Wild By Nature in Oceanside, NY to pick up a bag of the Teeccino and selected their Vanilla Nut flavor so that it would be the closest flavor in comparison to the French Vanilla Ayurvedic Roast from last week’s review. Taste aside, there are a few obvious differences in the two…While Ayurvedic Roast has a slightly higher cost, it is Certified Organic, is nut-free (which could be important for those with nut allergies), and contains the added benefit of a few key Ayurvedic herbs. Both Ayurvedic Roast and Teeccino are naturally caffeine-free, vegan, and are similar in calories per serving (approximately 20), with very little sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates (0-1% each).  I made an a handy little table summarizing the differences and similarities below…because honestly, who doesn’t love a table 😛

Ayurvedic Roast™

Teeccino®

Retail Price per 11oz

$12.95

$9.99

Caffeine-Free

Yes

Yes

Certified Organic

Yes

No

Nut-Free

Yes

No

Contains Ayurvedic,
Antioxidant Herbs

Yes

No

Ingredients

Organic roasted barley, organic roasted rye, organic roasted chicory, organic ashwagandha, organic shatavari, organic brahmi, organic french vanilla flavor.

Roasted organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, dates, almonds, organic dates, natural vanilla extract, natural nut flavor, figs.

 

Once I got home, I set out to further examine the contents and did a visual comparison of bags’ contents:

grindscomparison

I found the Ayurvedic Roast to be visually more comparable to coffee, whereas the Teeccino looked a bit like potting soil. As for the smell test, Ayurvedic Roast was the winner yet again. It was again more “coffee-like” with a milder, more natural vanilla smell. In contrast, the Teeccino had an artificial alcohol-like smell that I did not find very appealing.

But, the most important thing to me (and I’d imagine, to the average consumer) is taste. So, just as I had done for last week’s review of the Roast, I brewed the grinds using my drip coffee maker and about 1 rounded tsp of grinds per cup. At this stage of the experiment, the two brews were about the same color and looked similar when poured straight from the pot into a cup.

blackincupcomparison

As you can see, they are visually similar, but one thing I noticed is that the Teeccino seemed “thicker.” Almost like how coffee that’s been sitting too long on a burner gets. Anyway, as I prepared for the taste-test finale, I added my usual almond milk creamer and a bit of coconut sugar to the Teeccino and…well…I wasn’t very impressed. As I suspected, the sludgy nature of the Teeccino left my coffee looking too dark. I think I even added a bit more creamer to try to get it lighter, but here was my result:

withcreamercomparison

While the Teeccino was less visually appealing at this point, I still tried to be optimistic and closed my eyes for a taste test….And as I expected, I was very underwhelmed. Actually, I couldn’t even finish the whole cup. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was I didn’t like about it, but the words “chemical-y” and “artificial” came to mind.

The Winner?  Ayurvedic Roast   …  by a LANDSLIDE, in my opinion.

photo 2(1)

Ayurvedic Roast™ for the WIN!

Basically, if you’re looking for a delicious coffee alternative, spend a few extra dollars for something that actually tastes like coffee.  Nothing against Teeccino personally, but I just don’t think the taste comes even close to what I consider good tasting coffee. Maybe it got so popular because, until recently, it was the best tasting option available. Or maybe because they have more marketing manpower. I don’t know…but their stuff isn’t very delicious, if you ask me.

The good news is, if you’ve tried Teeccino and actually like it, well then, your mind is going to be freaking BLOWN when you get your mitts on this Ayurvedic Roast!  Seriously.  Don’t just take my word for it though…order a bag or sample online and try it yourself. (You’re going to want to order the 11oz bag thought…trust me…because it’s fantastic and 1 oz sample will not be enough).

More people need to find out about this Ayurvedic Roast, if you ask me. I’ve actually contacted the company and am going to see if I can help get it into some stores in my area. If you try it and love it as much as I do, you should do the same!