Tag Archive | Health

To Snooze, or Not to Snooze…That is the Question

Well, I hope everyone is off to a great 2014.  So far, we’ve had a blizzard and an epic cold front here in NY…which, on top of usual everyday work/life stresses, has made it EXTRA difficult to get up for my 5:20am weekday alarm to get to the gym. I’ve found myself hitting the snooze button more now than in the past, and was trying to figure out why, when I stumbled on a Huffington Post article by osteopathic physician, Robert Rosenberg.

He poses a good question when his patients ask “is it okay to keep hitting the snooze button for those extra zzzz’s?” … He tells them to ask themselves why they need to do that, and does it really make them feel better.

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Naturally, this got me thinking…Why do I feel the need to hit the snooze button? Do I really think an extra 8-10 minutes will make a difference?  Does it?  And furthermore, I had to admit to myself that I actually set my alarm earlier than I tend to get up to accommodate a hit or two of “Snooze.”  Can anyone else relate to this habit?

Dr. Rosenberg goes on to explain:
When you hit the snooze alarm, you are disrupting your current stage of sleep. And unfortunately, in many ways, fragmented sleep is worse than no sleep. As an example, if you are in REM sleep and you interrupt it with the snooze alarm, this can lead to an inability to process and reconcile emotionally laden memories from the previous day. In addition, fragmented sleep can result in moodiness, cognitive problems, and trouble paying attention.

The bottom line is that if you chronically find the need to hit the snooze alarm, something is probably wrong. You may be out of sync with your internal circadian clock. You may be a night owl trying to keep the work schedule of a morning lark. You may be someone who is failing at attempting to burn the candle at both ends. Alternatively, you may have a sleep disorder that unbeknownst to you is disrupting and depriving you of quality sleep. Hitting the snooze button is a poor substitute for healthy sleep

I hated to admit it, but as I read the article, I realized that the doc is right. If I’m feeling the need to hit the snooze button during the week (I don’t even set an alarm on weekends), I’m probably not getting enough sleep. I’m already using a sleep mask, which definitely gives me a sounder sleep by keeping any light out (laptop charging light, the moon, street lights, etc).  And I set my coffee maker up the night before so that I know a fresh, steaming cup of delicious java awaits me when I finally get out of bed…but I am STILL in a snooze button habit!

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Some suggestions that Dr. Rosenberg mentioned include “putting the alarm clock where you cannot reach it; using alarm clocks that work by putting out ever-increasing amounts of light as wake-up time approaches; having a coffee maker with a timer set for ten minutes before wake time and close enough so that you can smell it. Even getting a device that can automatically increase your bedroom temperature about one hour before it is time to get up can be helpful, as rising body temperature is another signal to wake up.”

I think I’m going to try putting my alarm clock out of arms reach and actually set the time for when I want to wake up, not when I want to start hitting snooze, haha.  Moreover, I also need to make sure my phone is in “do not disturb” mode so that my sleep is not disrupted by vibrations and dings letting me know someone wants to chat.

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I’ll report back after a while of trying this and see if I can kick the snooze button habit.  If anyone has any other tips, tricks, or snooze button confessionals, feel free to share!

Ciao for now,

-E

Honey, Aww Sugar Sugar

Due to the craziness that is the holiday season, I’ve been slacking a bit on blogging. Last week I did a bit of a cop-out and re-blogged a post, but I cut myself some slack since it was such a well-written piece. If you missed it, check it out here.

Anyway, I thought that since we are in the thick of the season of sugary indulgences (and you thought it was just about presents! Ha!), we should talk about our friend (and I use that term VERY loosely): SUGAR.

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Looks delicious, right! Everything in moderation 🙂

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The holidays tend to be the sweetest time of the year –candy, cookies, cocktails, and pie…oh my!), and all of those sweet little treats we consume during the holidays might taste great – but the damage they do when consumed in excess is becoming a serious issue. Sugar-related problems range from depression to mood swings to hyperactivity and chronic fatigue. Even worse are such disorders as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

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Now, I’m not saying that you should switch over to artificial sweeteners because, as I mentioned in one of my first posts, those are even worse for you! And I’m also not saying to pass up Aunt Mary’s signature holiday brownies or Mom’s homemade apple pie if you truly enjoy eating them.

What I am saying is:

  • Don’t forget to eat a balance of nutritious, whole foods along with a few holiday sweets.
  • Stay on track with your fitness routine as much as possible. Not only will it keep you fit, it can keep you sane!
  • Get plenty of sleep! Lack of it = increased cortisol, less sensitivity to insulin, & more cravings for sweets.
  • Stay hydrated. No elaborate explanation here. Just do it. Water is good for you.
  • Don’t under-eat in anticipation of a holiday party/get-together. When you try to ‘save’ your calories for a party, you are more likely to overeat and go for high carb/high sugar options.
  • Eat mindfully. Savor the taste and texture of each bite, and you won’t need a bunch to feel satisfied.
  • Don’t have an “all or nothing” mentality. Allow yourself to eat and ENJOY some holiday treats, and you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel and eat a whole pan of brownies just because you indulged in one or two. Remember, it takes 3500 extra calories to gain one pound, so a few treats at the holidays really won’t affect you in the grand scheme of things

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Most importantly, while our holiday gatherings do tend to be centered around food and drinks, I like to focus on the joy of the season. I love getting together with family and friends and celebrating that we get to be together. Plus, the more you’re talking with family and friends, the less you’ll be shoveling food into your mouth mindlessly…unless you talk with your mouth full, which of course, you don’t ;-P

If you guys have any tips on how you stay healthy during the holidays, I’d love to hear them!

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Kwanza, etc…Wishing you all the happiest of holidays ❤

Ciao for now!

-E

10 Things I Want My (future) Daughter to Know About Working Out

I don’t have a daughter yet, but this is what I want to pass on one day…and for now, I want to pass on to my sisters and friends. xox

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Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me.  She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over.  “Come on!  Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!

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Sometimes Flu Comes Around and It Knocks You Down

Well, coming off the heels of last week’s gratitude post, I am certainly grateful for my health today! I’m back in action after being knocked down all day Tuesday with a 102h a°F fever, body ache, and chills. Yeah, super fun, right? I spent the whole day (literally) in bed just thinking how I would give anything to have my energy back and be able to do anything…like even walk to the kitchen without pain!

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I swear, when you’re chugging along, working out, with all kinds of energy and pep in your step, you start to feel invincible. Like super-human almost. Until illness or injury affects us personally, we can easily forget that the human body can, at times, be quite fragile.

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On the other hand, the fact that I’m up-and-at-’em today is also a testament to the resiliency of our bodies. I mean, just 48 hours ago, I felt like I was on my death bed, and today, I’m sipping coffee and writing this blog post! I think it certainly helps that I normally do a good job taking care of myself with plenty of rest, regular exercise, good diet, etc. And when I get sick, I take time to rest and let my body heal itself naturally. But still, I’m pretty in awe of the quick turnaround!

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Even though I felt better rather quickly, I have thought to myself about anything I could have done to boost my immune system even more to maybe prevent the next illness (especially now that it’s cold & flu season). Here’s a few I came up with:

  • On top of my typical water intake, drink 16oz extra of water per day (especially if I insist on having an afternoon cup of java!)
  • Be sure to have 4-5 servings of veggies daily, and supplement what I don’t eat with powdered Complete Greens (which actually don’t taste half bad, especially if you add them to a smoothie!)
  • MINIMUM of 6 hours per night of sleep. Not enough sleep = no gym…gotta prioritize!

What do you do to arm yourself against cold & flu season? I always love new tips 🙂

Hoping this finds you all healthy and happy!

Ciao for now!

-E

Gratitude- A Time of Thanks and Giving

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time where the weather gets colder, holidays are upon us, the year is coming to a close, and we take time to reflect on what we are grateful for.  It’s also a reminder that we should take time to express gratitude on a more regular basis, not just when the year comes to an end.

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I love this!

Deepak Chopra says it best that:

“Gratitude is such an important force that we can use to expand our happiness, create loving relationships, and even improve our health…It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold.”

In the spirit of Thanks and Giving, here is a list of 20 things I’m grateful for…

  1. Having my family alive and healthy
  2. Getting to see my family for the holidaysquotes-for-family
  3. Technology allows me to stay in touch with friends & family when I can’t see them
  4. A roof over my head
  5. My well-decorated house that reflects my style and personality. I love it!
  6. Plenty of food in my fridge and pantry
  7. A reliable vehicle that gets me where I need to go
  8. I stay busy but also take time to appreciate the little things
  9. Coffee…warm, delicious coffee. I love it.
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  10. Hot showers…there’s nothing like it
  11. The drive and desire I have to commit to a healthy lifestyle
  12. Mental and physical strength
  13. Friends who appreciate and value my company and who I feel the same way for in return
  14. Being comfortable in my own skin
  15. Self-confidence and acceptance
  16. Resiliency to handle setbacks gracefully without falling apart
  17. An open mind that allows me to accept others’ ways of thinking and being even if they are not the same as my own
  18. Being able to forgive others even if I do not receive an apology or closure
  19. Faith that things will be alright in the end…if it’s not alright, it’s not the end
  20. Being at a place in my life where I may not have everything I want, but I am content with what I have

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I have to say, making this list really got me into the spirit of being in the present and being thankful. It’s amazing  how just being conscious of the the things you are grateful for can instantly boost your mood. Try making your own thankfulness list!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie

Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

Ciao for now!

 -E

ProGress

We live in a success-driven world whereby “success” is perceived less as a journey and more as an ultimate destination. While this way of thinking can be motivating, it can also be discouraging and rob us of happiness “in the moment.” We think we will finally be successful when we ______________ …fill in the blank: lose 10 lbs, have a six-pack, get a boyfriend/girlfriend, get married, make x amount of money, drive x car… Can you relate? Are you auditing your own list of “I will be successful when’s?”

Rather than having this mindset, I’m reminded lately how much more beneficial it is to focus on and celebrate progress, rather than waiting for whatever finite parameters of success we have in mind.

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By definition:

prog·ress (n.)

1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.

2. Development or growth

3. Steady improvement

pro·gress (pr-grs) pro·gressed, pro·gress·ing, pro·gress·es  (intr.v.)

1. To advance; proceed: Work on the new building progressed at a rapid rate.

2. To advance toward a higher or better stage; improve steadily

This means that every little step we take in an overall forward direction is progress. Your goal is to lose 10 lbs? Great! Celebrate each pound lost. Celebrate new, good habits of eating more healthfully.  Your goal is to go to the gym 5 days a week? Great! Celebrate each time you get yourself there.  Is your goal to make six figures?  Fantastic! In the meantime, celebrate the progress of getting a raise

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On top of that, research shows that positive reinforcement (i.e. celebrating progress) is more powerful than negative reinforcement (i.e. beating yourself up for not being exactly where you want to be). So, a kick in the ass may be necessary at times to get you going, but periodic self pats on the back will keep you going longer. 😉

 “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.” – Oscar Wilde

 Ciao for now!

 -E

Awaken Your Inner Tiger

When we all have to balance work, family, errands, laundry, and trying to have some sort of social life, it can be challenging to get yourself to the gym. And it can be especially difficult to stay motivated if you’ve been logging in the hours but not seeing progress as quickly as you had hoped.

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On days like this you’ve got to dig deep and awaken your inner tiger, so to speak.

Motivational quotes always do it for me (those who know me know I always recite them, haha). So I’m going to share a few of my favorites to help keep you going through the mid-week hurdle…And if you haven’t gotten going yet this week, hopefully these light a fire under your tushy!

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I love this one (I touched on this topic in last week’s post).  On days where I’m just not feeling up to working out, I think about people who have loftier fitness goals…who maybe are just getting started and haven’t yet hit a stride…who are recovering from an injury…or who are struggling with depression or anxiety, making it hard for them to get out of bed.  Some days, when I do my workout, it’s for those people who may need an extra boost to get going.

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Another fantastic one.  So many times we sabotage ourselves by saying things like, “well, since I can’t do an 60 or 90 minute workout, it’s just not worth it.”  Or “I have so far to go…what’s the point?”  The point is, every little bit you do adds up. Success is a journey, not a destination (see, another quote…I just can’t help myself! haha). A friend of mine who was recently struggling with getting back on track finally had an Ahah! moment and she said to me just yesterday, “Taking it one day at a time.. My goal is to merely feel good; I am not focusing on the distance.” I was beaming because I know this is the mindset that will turn things around for her 🙂

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I am reminded of this quote almost every time I step in the gym.  Yes, there are people there who are real powerhouses…strong as an ox.  It’s impressive of course, but just as much as they inspire me, so do the people who I see consistently…week after week.  It doesn’t matter where they are on their journey or how far they have to go…what matters is their will and commitment to getting there, and THAT is inspiring.

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YES, YES, YESSSSS!  This is the difference between looking in the mirror and seeing a kitten…or a tiger!  If you think negatively or lack belief in yourself, it will hold you back…in life, and with your fitness goals.  But if you believe that deep inside you is a strong, fit, capable person, then that my friend is what you will become!

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Is your goal to lose 50 pounds? 20 pounds? 5 pounds?  Do you want to gain 20 pounds of muscle? 10 pounds?  Training for a marathon?  No matter where you’re going, or how long it will take you to get there, it starts with lacing up those sneakers and taking the first step. If you’re just starting out or just getting back into it, you may have to start slow.  Do what you can, and remind yourself that this is just a jumping off point, and you’ll get better and better every day.

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And finally, once you get started, don’t quit.  Remember why you started in the first place. It’s about feeling good, being healthier, and living better. Motivation is what gets you started, but habit is what keeps you going. (Yep just packed in a few more quotes for you!)

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I hope this gets you going or keeps you going this week! xox

Ciao for now!

-E