How to get started with meditation

How to get started with meditation

You’ve probably heard about meditation, its different practices, and the various health and mental benefits of meditating – and for good reason!

Mediation comes in lots of different forms and can be done by anyone to bring a little peace and clarity.


One of the simplest forms of meditation is to become aware of your breath.

Sit comfortably, calm your mind, and focus all your attention and conscious thought on breathing in and out.

It can take a bit of practice. Once you get comfortable, it’s a form of meditation you can do anytime, anywhere.

By focusing completely on your breath, you’re able to silence your racing thoughts, since you can only instantly focus on one thing at a time. Physically, you’ll slow your breathing and take longer, deeper breaths, which will relax your body quickly.

Meditation is a wonderful way to:

  • combat stress
  • improve your quality of life
  • Work on your mental and physical health


Experiment with different types of meditations, like:

  • guided meditation
  • chanting
  • transcendental meditation
  • breathing meditations
  • moving meditation where you walk or do a simple task.

There are so many different traditions and practices out there. We’re sure you’ll find the one that’s right for you. 


Become more present and happier by practicing self-reflection.


Calming Bedtime Affirmations for Better Sleep

Calming Bedtime Affirmations for Better Sleep

Affirmations are positive statements that can help you make positive changes – even to your sleep! 

There is a lot of research behind the effectiveness of using affirmations regularly to make lasting changes.

Researchers believe that affirmations work by reinforcing your self-efficacy and reaffirming what is important to you.

If you’re having trouble calming down before bed to get and stay asleep, give some of these affirmations a try!


  • I am proud of what I accomplished today. 
  • I let go of my responsibilities for now.
  • My to-do list will still be there tomorrow.
  • I did my best today, and now I can rest.
  • I am enough, and I did enough.
  • I am still and calm.
  • My body feels heavy and relaxed.
  • I feel myself more at peace with every breath I take.

Sweet dreams!



Healthy Spices for Your Fall Dishes

Healthy Spices for Your Fall Dishes

The smells of fall spices are comforting and delicious, but some of your favorite fall spices also have fantastic health benefits. Make sure to include these healthy spices in your fall dishes for some brilliant flavors and extra health kicks.


Turmeric

Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin.

Curcumin’s long list of proven health benefits includes fighting off unhealthy cells, slowing down the signs of aging, and reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms of inflammatory diseases.

Cinnamon

This famous fall spice contains many types of antioxidants which fight off the damaging free radicals that can cause chronic diseases. It also contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is rich with manganese, copper, and magnesium, and it also contains many other essential vitamins and minerals.

Some studies have shown that nutmeg can relieve pain, such as the joint pain experienced by those with arthritis.

Ginger

Ginger is well-known for its digestive health benefits. It is widely used for treating nausea and other digestive issues, such as an upset stomach and acid reflux.

Cloves

Cloves are high in antioxidants, which help the body fight off disease-causing free radicals. They are also well-known for their health benefits for the liver.

There are so many reasons to spice up your fall food!


Eat in season this fall with these produce items


Best cozy fall drinks you can make under a few minutes

Best cozy fall drinks you can make under a few minutes

Once those temperatures start to drop even a little, most people rush off to grab their first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. Warm drinks are fantastic during the colder months, but many of these warm drinks can pack a ton of sugar in one cup. 

Luckily, there are many healthy warm and cozy fall drinks you can enjoy instead.

Here are a few of our favorite options to rotate throughout the chilly months.


Fresh ginger tea

Slice a small piece of fresh ginger root and add it to your cup. Pour boiling water over it and voila – you have ginger tea!

Fresh mint tea

Muddle some fresh mint in a mug (or add dried mint to a tea ball). Pour boiling water over it and that’s it.

Homemade hot chocolate

Use an unsweetened cocoa powder with warmed almond milk and a dash of cinnamon. Sweeten it with stevia or monk fruit. You can spice it up with a sprinkle of chili powder for a Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Coffee

For the healthiest cup, keep it free and clear of sugar and cream. Sweeten with stevia or monk fruit and use a dash of unsweetened almond milk..

Homemade chai latte

Brew chai tea and then froth up almond milk in your microwave. Add a touch of cinnamon to the top to make it feel more indulgent. 

Keep this list handy, so when the mood strikes, you’ll be ready with a healthy option to counter your cravings! 


Halloween is almost here, check out these 5 spooky ways to stay active and celebrate Halloween.


How to eat pumpkin plus it's many health benefits

How to eat pumpkin plus it's many health benefits

People go crazy over pumpkin season (for good reason!), finding any and every way to use their favorite fall flavor. Pumpkins also have incredible health perks you should be taking advantage of, like:

  • High levels of potassium, which is good for blood pressure regulation
  • Lots of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in your body
  • Plant compounds that help blood sugar regulation
  • Lots of fiber for better digestion and staying full longer
  • Vitamin C in both pulp and seeds for immunity boosting


You can buy a pumpkin or you can buy it canned. When you get canned pumpkin, make sure it only contains pumpkin as the ingredient and nothing more.

You can use pureed pumpkin in muffins and other baked goods instead of butter or oil for a healthier treat. 

You can even make smoothies out of it. Just mixing it with yogurt and sprinkling cinnamon on top will give you a treat that tastes decadent and guilt-free.

Pumpkin can also be used in soups, stews, or curries. 

Don’t forget the seeds either! Scoop them out, rinse them off and allow them to dry. Then bake them with your favorite seasonings on top for a delicious snack you can take with you anywhere.


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds with shells
  • 3 tsp. olive oil 
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste 
  • Garlic powder, to taste 
  • Onion powder, to taste

Clean seeds. Toss with olive oil and spices, adding as many spices as you prefer. Spread on a baking sheet in one single layer of seeds, not overlapping. Bake at 325F for 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally to cook evenly.


Crispy Pumpkin Chips

  • 1 sugar pumpkin 
  • Olive oil, to coat
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Cut pumpkin open and thinly slice using a mandolin. Line slices on baking sheet and cook at 250F for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until chips begin to appear crispy and done. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt.



Proper Hydration for Your Active Lifestyle

Proper Hydration for Your Active Lifestyle

Water is one of the key components to both a healthy diet and long-term health. It not only keeps your cells hydrated, but it fills your stomach so that you are less hungry.


Proper Hydration and a Warning

Plain and simple, your body needs water. Being properly hydrated will benefit you from head to toe. Water keeps your cells hydrated and flowing throughout your body. Here’s a story of warning for you…

In March, I went to a conference about 3 hours away. On the drive down, I felt a stabbing pain in my lower back. Well, I work out a lot, and I’m in my 30s, so I chalked that up to normal back pain for me.

As time passed, I ended up writhing in pain in my hotel room and moaning like I was being murdered.

It was the worst pain I’d ever felt. Long story short – and minus some gross details – I ended up at urgent care with a kidney stone. Why did that happen? I’m so healthy! Poor hydration. I’d forgotten my own rules.

8 Glasses a Day (?)

There are lots of different guidelines for how much water to drink. Drinking eight glasses of water each day is the most popular guideline, but we each have different needs.

A better indication of how hydrated you are in your urine. When you are properly hydrated, your urine is almost clear.

If you like to have a number to shoot for, take your body weight, divide it by two, and drink that much in ounces. For example, if you’re 130 pounds, drink 65 ounces a day.

There are activities and beverages that dehydrate your body quickly, so your essential amount of water intake may need to be increased.

Any activity that causes you to sweat a lot can dehydrate you quicker than normal. For every half-hour of sweat-inducing exercise, you should drink at least eight ounces of water.

If you are exercising in a particularly humid environment, you may have to drink more water in order to avoid headaches, illness, and overall dehydration.

Those who live in or are visiting dry places, like Colorado, will need more water on a daily basis than someone living in a humid place, like Florida.

Some of the drinks that deplete water from your body are sodas, coffee, tea, and alcohol. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t drink them!

In order to ensure that you stay properly hydrated, drink one glass of water for every glass of a dehydrating beverage. 

Make hydration a priority to keep feeling incredible each day.


How Nutrition Affects Sports Performance

How Nutrition Affects Sports Performance 

Nutrition has an effect on everything you do, but it is especially important to get it on-point if you want to improve your sports performance.

We’re going to discuss the impact of your nutrition on performance as well as your energy and nutrition needs and how to meet them.


Nutrition’s Effect of Sports Performance

Food is fuel, and when you’re burning that fuel as an athlete, you need to be running on premium.

Whether you are a serious competitive athlete or just enjoy competing in the occasional race or pick-up game, your diet can have a major impact on your performance.

The best diet for an athlete isn’t that different than for your average healthy person, but there is more at stake if an athlete doesn’t get adequate calories, macronutrients, fluids, vitamins, and minerals.

Sports tend to push your body and add stress to your system, not having proper nutrition to support both being active and your body’s recovery can not only negatively affect performance, but it can cause short- and long-term damage to your body.

Some issues might be poor athletic performance, longer recovery times, immune suppression, weight changes, and hormonal imbalances.

Energy and Nutrition Requirements for Athletes

Athletes at any level need energy, and we get energy through calories. In addition to daily caloric needs (basal metabolic rate, or BMR), athletes need additional energy to support both performance and recovery.

The higher your activity level, the higher your calorie requirements will be. The energy needs of athletes might amaze you! Some athletes need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories daily.

Professional and Olympic athletes, while in training, need even more, and that number can be astounding. However, it’s important to note that many people tend to overestimate their caloric burn during a workout and overcompensate with calories afterward.

Just be aware of the amount and quality of food you eat and remember that the goal is fuel and not reward.

How to Meet Your Nutritional Needs

When thinking of calories as energy, it’s helpful to know that the amount of energy for food depends on its macronutrient make-up: Carbohydrates have 4 kcal/gram, protein has 4 kcal/gram, and fat has 9 kcal/gram.

Macronutrients are the dietary elements that we need for health, and athletes especially need a diet that includes a balance of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

  • Carbohydrates – Look for whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Protein – Eat lean protein like fish, chicken, lean beef, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • Fat – Good sources of fat are low in saturated fat, like nuts, nut butter, avocados, and olive oil.

Don’t forget your fluids! Water is the most important essential nutrient for athletes, and to maintain proper hydration, you should make it part of your daily planning.

Drink plenty of water with each meal, and target drinking one-half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water.

For example, if you are 140 lbs, you need at least 70 oz. of water daily.


Protein Powder 101

Protein Powder 101

Protein powder is one of the most popular supplements for fitness lovers. Though it is simple to get enough protein through a balanced, healthy diet, protein powder is a convenient way to meet your nutritional needs while on the go.

We’re going to talk about some of the basics of protein powder and the different options you have with it.


What is Protein Powder and Why Should You Consider Using It?

No matter the type you choose, protein powders are dietary supplements that contain a high percentage of protein and, usually, also vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fats, and thickeners.

These powders tend to have a long shelf-life, and they can be a good option if you want to get your protein in while away from home.

Protein is a critical macronutrient for repairing lean muscle tissue, and it helps to create healthy hair, skin, nails, and bones.

Ideally, you would get your protein from whole-food sources, like meat, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, beans, and vegetables, but there’s nothing wrong with using protein powders as well.

Types:

There are many types of protein sources used in powder supplements. The following are some of the most popular types.

Whey

This is the most common and popular type. It is a dairy-based protein, and it has plenty of vitamins and minerals. 

Casein

Like whey protein, casein protein comes from dairy, but, unlike whey, it takes longer to digest. Overall, whey and casein can be seen as interchangeable.

Soy

This vegetarian powder is the only plant-based protein that has all of the essential amino acids (a complete protein).

Though some research has found that the isoflavones in soy can interact with hormones, it is a safe alternative for those who only occasionally consume soy.

Soy protein concentrate is also an option for those who are concerned about the potentially negative hormonal effects.

The process used to make this type of soy protein powder causes it to have a lower amount of isoflavones.

Pea

Pea protein is a great option for those who are looking to stay away from dairy and gluten and tend to have digestive issues.

This supplement has comparable levels of protein per serving as whey and casein, but note that it is not a complete protein like whey, casein, and soy. 

Hemp

Hemp protein has more than just protein – it also has a high content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Do note that this is not the best choice for those trying to lose weight, since the high-fat content gives it a higher calorie count.

Now that you know everything about protein, learn about the best way to set your healthy goals!


How to Do Workout Recovery Right

How to Do Workout Recovery Right

Most people don’t think about the effort that goes into a workout after the fact, but your recovery period is one of the most important parts of getting fit!

Your workout recovery habits should include more than a shower and a protein shake.

Since training tears muscle fibers and depletes your energy, your body needs time to repair itself before the next workout.

Let’s discuss what you can do to recover smartly so you can be ready to train hard again.


Why Workout Recovery is Important

When you keep pushing your body to improve physically without a break, you’re really taking steps backward in your progress.

Having a recovery routine after your workout is essential to muscle and tissue repair as well as overall fitness and health. Your muscles need 24-48 hours to repair and rebuild before they are ready to be trained again.

Ignoring this will lead to muscle breakdown instead of strength building. Talk about a waste of effort!


Recovery Recommendations

Right after your workout:

Active Recovery

As you wind down your workout, add in some active recovery time to allow yourself to cool down. You can do any gentle movement you prefer, like walking or dynamic stretches.

This is important because it helps muscles repair faster by improving circulation to better transport nutrients and remove the waste you built up during exercise (like lactic acid).

Stretch

After your active recovery, slow down a little more with gentle stretching. Don’t push too hard or over stretch your muscles. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Foam Roll

While you’re on the floor stretching, grab a foam roller and work on any spots that are a little tight, like your hips and IT bands.

Be gentle! If it hurts, it’s not a good thing. Move to the next spot.

Relax

Don’t rush out after your workout. You need to slow everything down, including your mind which will likely be racing after a hard workout.

Give yourself a few minutes to listen to slow-tempo music and just breathe.

Any added stress will make your recovery period longer, so by reducing some of the stress now, you’ll speed things up.


Nutrition:

Hydrate

Plain water is best for hydration, but if you sweat heavily during your workout, you can grab coconut water or a low-calorie sports drink.

Continue to drink more water for the rest of the day and possibly the next if you have an evening workout. Also, skip the post-workout happy hour drinks.

Alcohol will further dehydrate you and interfere with your muscle repair.

Have a recovery meal

Ideally, you should try to eat within one hour after you finish your workout to help your muscles rebuild and to regain some of the energy you expended in your workout.

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a mixture of protein and carbohydrates. Chocolate milk is an easy and popular option, and you can also try a protein shake, hummus, and whole-grain pita, or Greek yogurt.


When you get home:

Sleep more

Our bodies recover during sleep, when certain hormones are released, including the most important hormone for recovery, growth hormone (GH).

GH helps with tissue growth and repair, which means those muscles are made in both the gym and the bed.

Listen to your body

The most important thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. Sometimes it takes longer to recover from a workout than usual. That’s fine!

Pay attention to your energy levels and any muscle soreness.

Ignoring these signs and hitting the gym before your body is ready will counteract your best efforts.


Getting the “Sunshine Vitamin” Without the Sun

Getting the “Sunshine Vitamin” Without the Sun

Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because we usually associate it with soaking up the rays.

But, how do we get Vitamin D safely without risking sunburn or harmful rays?

And on top of that, why is it important, and what’s the big deal if we don’t get enough?


Why Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone growth and development by absorbing calcium and helping regulate the immune system, but research has found Vitamin D acts as a hormone rather than a vitamin.

The studies have found almost every tissue type in our body has receptors for Vitamin D and requires it for optimal performance.

How much should I get?

600 IU (international units) is a common recommendation, but considering genetics, input, and output, recommendations depend on the individual.

There is also debate on the general recommended amount in the medical community. If you haven’t had a Vitamin D test, most doctors include them in annual physicals.

Depending on the amount in your blood, they might suggest over-the-counter supplements, or in severe cases, start you on a prescribed amount and continue regular measurements.

How do I get my Vitamin D?

Getting outside and exposing your skin for ten minutes each day can raise your levels of Vitamin D.

But, if you’re fair-skinned, live in the city, or don’t get outside much, that’s ten minutes too many. Outside of supplements, the best way is through your diet.


Based on the 600 IU recommendations here are some of the best Vitamin D rich foods:

A cup of mushrooms exposed to sunlight contain: 

  • Portabellos 163% DV (daily value)
  • Maitake 131% DV
  • Morel 23% DV
  • Chanterelle 19% DV
  • Oyster 4% DV
  • White 1% DV

Three ounces of oily fish contains:

  • Trout 108% DV
  • Smoked Salmon 97% DV
  • Swordfish 94% DV
  • Canned Trout 86% DV
  • Salmon 75% DV
  • Smoked White Fish 73% DV
  • Mackerel 65% DV
  • Halibut 33% DV
  • Tilapia 21% DV
  • Sole and Flounder 20% DV
  • Tuna Steak 12% DV

Three ounces of tofu contains:

  • Firm 23% DV
  • Lite Silken Tofu 21% DV
  • Sprouted Tofu, Extra Firm and Firm Tofu 14% DV

Dairy Products per cup contains:

  • Queso Fresco 22% DV
  • Buttermilk, Fortified Low Fat Fruit Yogurt, Fortified Whole Milk, Fortified Goat’s Milk 20% DV
  • Fortified Semi-Skim Milk 20% DV
  • Fortified Skim Milk 19% DV

Three ounces of pork contains:

  • Extra Lean Ham 12% DV
  • Spare Ribs 15% DV
  • Turkey and Pork Sausage 12% DV
  • Pork Shoulder 9% DV
  • Pork Loin 8% DV

A cup of eggs contains:

  • Hard-Boiled 20% DV
  • Raw, scrambled, poached, or omelets 7% DV

A cup of dairy alternatives contains:

  • Plain Soy Yogurt 22% DV
  • Soymilk 20% DV
  • Almond Milk, Chocolate Almond Milk, Non-soy Imitation Milk or Rice Drink 17% DV

Although the recommended amount of Vitamin D is under debate, the importance of it is not.

If you’re found to have a deficiency, talk to your doctor about taking supplements and introduce Vitamin D foods into your diet.

Stress is something that could affect your health. Manage your stress, even if you are busy!