5 Key Elements To Increase Wellbeing

Positive Psychology was first introduced at the turn of the century and was founded by a man called Dr. Martin Seligman who set out to focus on what contributed to people’s happiness or wellbeing, rather than focusing only on how to “fix” mental illness after it had occurred. Dr. Seligman pioneered the view that optimists would fare much better than pessimists in many areas of life including handling stress, physical health and general wellbeing. He identified 5 key elements to increase wellbeing:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Positive Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

POSITIVE EMOTIONS

Barbara Fredrickson (2009) has done extensive research and found that these ten emotions color people’s day to day lives the most with love heading the list of the most frequently experienced form of positivity.

  • Joy
  • Gratitude
  • Serenity
  • Interest
  • Hope
  • Pride
  • Amusement
  • Inspiration
  • Awe
  • Love

ENGAGEMENT

Being deeply engaged in our lives will foster feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing, just as being disengaged will produce the opposite. The concept of “flow” has been studied extensively by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990) and he has found that spending time doing something that produces the following state is greatly beneficial to our mental and physical health:

  • We are totally absorbed in the activity
  • We are not aware of time passing
  • We are challenged to the right extent – not too much, not too little
  • We have a sense that we would like to do the activity again when we stop

POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Having people who care about us, who listen to us and support is crucial to our chances of experiencing life satisfaction. Forging bonds with people is what we are hard-wired to do, yet in today’s busy world, relationships are often one of the first things to be neglected.

MEANING

How we find meaning in the world defines our identity. Once we lose this sense of meaning we can flounder and feel insecure about our reason for being. Making sense of our world is essential and often big changes can throw this out of the window and put us in a temporary state of insecurity and even depression. Finding meaning is one of the most profound and challenging issues we can face as individuals as it requires a great deal of self-awareness and introspection, questioning our values, our deepest dreams and our sense of purpose.

ACCOMPLISHMENT

Having something to work towards and the opportunity to feel the satisfaction that comes with having achieved whatever goal we have set for ourselves is an important part of wellbeing. This is just a short introduction to the area of Positive Psychology with the main aim of introducing the reader to a world of resources and research that show what factors can help us thrive.

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How To Change Your Negative Thoughts

Distorted thinking styles are not only common, they’re also human. Dr. Araron Beck’s theory of cognitive therapy first recorded these and Dr. David D. Burns refined them further. 

Distorted Thinking Styles

  • All or nothing – everything is black or white. Right or wrong. Perfect or a failure.
  • Mental Filtering – looking at the world through pessimistic frame, filtering out all the positive aspects of a situation.
  • Over-generalisation forming a general conclusion based on one piece of information: “You’re always wrong.” One negative event is part of an endless pattern.
  • Being right – feeling we must always prove that what we think, do or say is right.
  • Blaming – holding other people responsible for the pain or unhappiness you are feeling.
  • Disqualifying the positive – unable or unwilling to accept a compliment.
  • Jumping to conclusions – drawing negative conclusions without checking to see if they have any foundation.
  • Magnification or minimization – catastrophizing the unpleasant problems or mistakes and minimising anything that might make you feel good.
  • “Shoulds” and “musts” believing they are backed up by some universal law.
  • Martyr syndrome – all your “giving” and self-sacrifice should pay off and you become bitter when it doesn’t.
  • Emotional reasoning – making our feelings become who we are. “I feel inferior so therefore I must be.”
  • Personalization – blaming yourself for something that was largely out of your control.

Thought Stopping

If we can replace these irrational thoughts that occur repetitively and endlessly, we can then look more realistically at our lives. Cognitive restructuring techniques may sound overly complicated but they are really quite simple. First, we must catch ourselves when thinking negative thoughts.

  • Find a rubber band to fit on your wrist that is loose enough to be comfortable.
  • Each time you catch yourself in a negative thought (around what is about to happen, what is happening or what has happened) flick the band on your wrist, as a reminder.
  • Create a picture in your mind of a STOP SIGN in front of you, which will help you stop unwanted thoughts. It will take practice, but with time your brain will do this on its own.
  • Make yourself aware that you are having unwanted thoughts by saying to yourself, “I’m having the thought that…”. This reminds you that these are only thoughts, not something that will happen.

Would you like to get unstuck and overcome obstacles that are holding you back? Book a session with me here

How To Reconnect With Nature & Yourself

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” – Albert Einstein 

The gifts of nature are abundant, offering us freedom and connection to boost our mental health and physical wellbeing. In fact, time spent in nature expands the mind and sharpens thinking.

One of the lessons we can learn from nature is that there is no such thing as perfection, so why do we command perfection from ourselves? No tree or flower is perfect but we accept them as they are. Basking in the beauty of nature, allows us to take the pressure off ourselves and maintain our present moment awareness.

Getting away from high-rise buildings, technology and noise pollution on a regular basis makes you happier, calmer and more grounded. It also has a significant impact on reducing stress and anxiety, while increasing creativity. When we get out in nature, we find a natural rhythm with our surroundings as time slows down. Next time you’re out in nature, allow yourself to be guided by the sun rising and setting. 

How To Reconnect With Nature & Yourself

  • Buy a plant for your desk
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Plant your own garden or a community garden
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Go for a hike and listen to the sounds of nature
  • Take vacations in nature 
  • Do yoga on the beach
  • Look up at the stars 
  • Meditate by the ocean
  • Relax on a park bench with an inspiring book
  • Take a mindful walk in the park and notice the vibrancy of colors and textures
  • Hug a tree
  • Bird watch
  • Walk barefoot on the grass 

Nature is free and gives us the space to let go of our ruminating thoughts and reconnect with ourselves.

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How To Heal Your Body With Whole Foods

Every day we make choices that will either support or worsen our health and wellbeing. The food you eat today impacts how you’ll live tomorrow. Food is supposed to be nourishing and pleasurable. Every time you eat, it’s an act of self-care but everything you put into your body is a choice you make and will have a direct impact on your mood, energy and health.

While eating on the go can seem like a time saver for busy people, it can actually have a detrimental effect on your digestive system leading to an upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhea. A healthy gut is the foundation for optimal health and wellbeing.

Thankfully a whole food plant-based diet helps your body receive the right nutrition through adsorption, digestion and elimination.

By adding a few small changes one step at a time, you can help improve your health right now. Start by replacing unhealthy foods with healthy whole food alternatives.

13 Healthy Food Swaps

  • Avocado or apple sauce instead of butter
  • Whole fruit instead of juice or smoothie
  • Plant milk instead of dairy
  • Cinnamon instead of sugar
  • Veggie bowls instead of burritos
  • Garden salad with walnuts instead of fries
  • Popcorn (plain)  instead of chips
  • Trail mix instead of candy
  • Brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice
  • Almond yogurt (unsweetened) instead of Greek yogurt
  • Frozen bananas instead of ice-cream
  • Cacao instead of cocoa
  • Energy balls instead of cookies

Would you like to add more plant-based foods to your diet? Book a session with me here

How To Restore Yin Energy For Feminine Wellbeing

The principles of yin and yang date back to China. The symbol represents the belief that everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary. 

Yin is the female energy which represents restorative and receptive energy. Yang is the masculine, action-focused energy. We need both in life to stay healthy and balanced.

In today’s busy world it’s crucial that we take time to balance these energies. In particular, we need to replenish our yin energy from sleep deprivation and workaholism. Slowing down and taking the time to nourish yourself will have a positive ripple effect that will restore your energy, creativity and mental/emotional balance. 

How To Restore Yin Energy for Feminine Wellbeing

  • Meditate
  • Be in nature every day 
  • Surround yourself with people you love
  • Nourish your body by eating a whole food plant-based diet
  • Hydrate with water
  • Slow down 
  • Reduce the use of technology
  • Get 8 hours sleep
  • Practice moments of stillness by doing nothing
  • Be present
  • Wind down and relax in the evening hours
  • Be patient with yourself and others
  • Limit time in loud or crowded places
  • Attend a yin yoga class
  • Do something creative
  • Journaling
  • Be receptive

By nourishing yin energy you can be in harmony with yourself and maintain balance.

Would you like to have more confidence and balance in your life? Book a session with me here

 

 

10 Tips To Practice Mindfulness and Sharpen Awareness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that you can practice any time and anywhere. From mindful eating to mindful walking and mindful living – it’s about being in the present moment and bringing awareness to what you’re directly experiencing through your breath and the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell). 

The opposite of mindfulness is being on autopilot, which has you disconnected from your body and constantly striving to get things done. It can also also leave you stuck in old mindsets. Being present helps you appreciate the richness of life.

10 Tips To Practice Mindfulness and Sharpen Awareness

  • Drinking a cup of tea
  • Patting a beloved pet
  • Arranging a bouquet of flowers
  • Practicing yoga
  • Listening to guided meditations
  • Taking a mindful walk in nature
  • Watching the waves in the ocean
  • Mindful breathing
  • Mindfulness body scan meditation
  • Mindful listening

While it’s completely normal to get off focus, you can bring yourself back to the present moment at any time through the five senses. 

Would you like to have more confidence and balance in your life? Book a session with me here

The Healing Benefits of Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands have long been a favorite amongst travelers, and especially those who come to Hawaii for a wellness vacation

For Hawaiians, a healthy and balanced life starts with the Aloha Spirit. Aloha means hello and goodbye to love, caring, sharing and goodwill to others. In a nutshell (or should I say, coconut shell), aloha means a way of life.

To maintain optimal health, Hawaiians practise constant cleansing of the mind, body and spirit. Healing is believed to occur in many different ways. 

Hawaiian Practice of Forgiveness 

Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness. Ho‘oponopono comes from ho‘o (“to make”) and pono (“right”). The repetition of the word pono means “doubly right” or being right with both self and others. Ho‘oponopono is a process by which we can forgive others to whom we are connected.

Hawaiian Massages

  • Kahuna: An ancient Hawaiian massage passed down by the Hawaiian Kahuna tribe that originated in the South Pacific. It is also known as Hawaiian Temple Style and Lomi Lomi massage. In the Hawaiian language, Lomi Lomi means to press or knead. Lomi Lomi incorporates long, flowing strokes using the forearms, elbows, wrists and hands in a continuous, fluid, rhythmic motion that can energize and ground you at the same time. It’s a relaxing massage that nourishes multiple parts of the body at the same time as well as healing the body mind and spirit.
  • Lomi Mohala: This massage will open your heart, mind, body and soul during an exclusive herbal oil blend that melts away tension. It’s an ancient technique, which utilizes rhythmic forearm strokes, allowing you to experience the expansive feeling of mohala (opening).
  • Lomi Pohaku: Heated stones are incorporated into the traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi modality to penetrate and soothe tightened muscles for an even deeper relaxation of the entire body.
  • Lomi Aumoa: The ultimate relaxation with a four-handed lomi lomi massage. Two therapists synchronize their movements in this indulgent treatment, producing double the benefits. You will emerge nourished, protected and completely relaxed.

Planning a wellness vacation to Hawaii?  Book a session with me here

 

 

 

 

The Fit Mom: Working Out Strategies with Kids

In today’s busy world, trying to find the perfect work-life balance can be a huge challenge for many moms. Trying to meet the needs of your family and the demands of your job means putting your own needs on the back burner most of the time, especially when it comes to finding time to exercise for the working mom. Exercise releases serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the brain that is related to influencing moods and decreasing depression and anxiety. Exercising also boosts energy, which is exactly what moms need; and it leads to a healthier and happier life overall.

Before kids, your workouts may have involved an hour-long session at the gym, but with playtime and mealtime added to the mix, you will need to get creative and rethink what your workouts will look like. I’ve put together some realistic tools and tips to help you with your busy schedule workout plan.

How Do I Fit Exercise Into My Schedule?

First of all, plan out when you’ll workout each week. If you feel stressed about the lack of time in your schedule, add exercise to your calendar. Ensuring that a workout is part of your daily routine will help to create more balance. You wouldn’t skip a meeting at your child’s school, so treat exercise with the same importance.

Trying setting aside 10-15 minutes in your day to do something active. When you have a plan, you’ll know exactly what you could do in a given timeframe. Squeezing in 10-15 minute sessions per week is just as effective as getting to the gym for an hour once a week.

Find a gym with a great day-care center. Most day-care centers at the gym will only take kids up to two hours. You can use this time to do a combination of 30 minutes each of cardio and strength training, with time to cool down, stretch, and shower before picking up your kids. You will feel completely refreshed and ready to roll.

How Do I Exercise Everyday?

You can combine playtime and exercise by riding a bike with your kids or by jogging along as they ride their bikes. Jump rope offers a great cardio work out and you can alternate with your kids by doing 5 or 10 jumps each. If you want to be the coolest mom around, get a scooter and a helmet and scooter around the neighborhood with your kids after school.

Build exercise into daily chores by doing squats while folding laundry or doing lunges from one room to the next.

With Fitness apps growing in popularity, they are much cheaper than a gym membership but just as effective while working out in the comfort of your own home. Fitness apps can be instantly downloaded on your smartphone, which makes it a very ideal form of exercise for a busy person.

Try Virtual Trainer apps, which are perfect for moms as it allows you to easily create your own routine. They have multiple programs and divided by indoor, outdoor or equipment based activities. Also, specific exercises can be looked up through a muscle group. A picture with information on the specifics of the exercise is also available to guide you.

How Do You Incorporate Fitness In Your Life?

Weekends are a great time to fit in fun with the whole family. Use this time for longer workouts by taking a 45-minute walk with the kids or stroller runs to the park. It helps you get in some cardio activity while you both get fresh air.

Try to make exercising together a regular part of your family life. Come up with physical activities your family loves to do together, such as hiking, skiing, bike riding, rollerblading, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, swimming, skating, playing golf or tennis and ice skating. Consider joining a community center or gym where the whole family can swim, exercise or take different classes.

Gardening is also a great form of exercise as it involves squatting, lifting, digging, bending, and pulling yard waste bags.

Consider calling a friend and going for a jog or meet at the gym for a class after dropping the kids at school. You can even trade off babysitting to make time for each other’s workouts. Always park at furthest end of the parking lot and walk to get more steps for the day.

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a session with me here

The Fit Student: Keeping Active While Studying Hard

If being a college student isn’t hard enough these days, wondering how to find time to workout in college, can feel like a difficult task in itself. Having to dedicate countless hours a week to classes, homework, studying, exams, extracurricular activities and perhaps even a part-time job – doesn’t give you much room in terms of how to find time to workout in college. Just the idea of having another thing on your plate is enough to make you want to stay home and order take-out instead.

One of the reasons why a lot of students find it difficult to balance school and exercise is because they don’t know where to start. By trying these useful tips and tools, you’ll never have to wonder “how to fit in exercise with school” again. Having a busy schedule workout plan that you can turn to at anytime, makes life a little easier no matter how busy you are.

How Do I Fit Exercise Into My Schedule?

If you’re fortunate enough to have a gym on campus, make the most of it. It’ll save you time and money. Whether its lifting weights, running on the treadmill or hitting up a punching bag, there is something for every type of workout at the college gym. Students who are motivated by exercise tend to have better time management skills too.

You can also find out if your college offers any free or discounted fitness classes and take as many as you can. Most college gyms will offer a variety of options, ranging from karate and kickboxing to yoga. Having a fitness class in your schedule will encourage you to visit the gym more regularly.

Look for recreation center bulletin boards, which often include flyers for anyone who wants to join cycling clubs, swim teams or rock-climbing crews.

Try taking a walk or bike to classes and around campus. During a study session, take a break every 30 minutes to walk a few laps around the library or climb a set of stairs in your building.

How Do I Exercise Everyday?

It is recommended that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for just 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Add some fun into your workout time by listening to your favorite podcasts or audiobooks. By making your workouts something you’ll actually look forward to doing, you’ll be more likely to do them.

If your schedule simply won’t allow you to join a sport’s team or visit the gym, consider using your dorm room. Clear a spot on the floor for jogging on the spot, doing jumping jacks, or for strength training exercises such as chair dips, push-ups, squats and lunges – next time you’re watching Netflix. That way you’ll look forward to exercising at the end of a long day or make it a great way to kick-start your morning.

There are many great fitness apps available on the market today with a workout plan for everyone. Look for apps with a personalized workout that allows you to set how long you want to exercise. Then follow the video trainer shown onscreen and start working out. It’s great for someone looking for variety in his or her workout routine. Most of the workouts don’t require equipment but offer countless different exercises. They’re great for full-body workouts too, since you can look for ones that offer strength, cardio, stretching, and yoga.

How Do You Incorporate Fitness In Your Life?

It’s important to make sure you find an exercise routine that you’ll actually look forward to doing everyday. But first you’ll need to schedule it. Once you put it on the calendar, all you have to do is make sure your workout is enjoyable enough that you’ll want to it, or social enough that you have a reason to go. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t find the time to exercise sooner.

Use the weekend to schedule longer workouts. We often have more time on the weekends and more energy.

You may want to consider joining your college’s Ultimate Frisbee team, which is a great way to meet new people and get a full body workout. You will be working your legs and hips by squatting, throwing and jumping to catch a frisbee. While there is a lot of legwork, your arms will feel it too, especially if you play a handler role in offense.

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a session with me here

The Fit 9-to-5er: Working Out While Working Hard

When life gets busy, exercise for a busy person always seems to go on the back burner. Between meetings, deadlines, emails and phone calls; the only thing you wind up getting is an emotional workout instead.

But if you’re serious about making exercise a part of your life, you’ll need a step-by-step guide to create a busy schedule workout plan, that you can realistically stick to no matter how busy life gets.

How Do I Fit Exercise Into My Schedule?

If no time to exercise work too much is a recurring thought in your head, having a job that keeps you chained to your desk certainly makes it hard to meet your fitness goals; but it’s not impossible. Keep a pair of dumbbells in your drawer or under your desk to sneak in a set or two of arm exercises while watching a webinar.

Doing calf raises will strengthen your lower legs.  There are a lot of different ways to do calf raises, but one of the easiest and most effective is doing the standing raise.

Lunges strengthen your lower body and increase overall flexibility.  Lunges can be done anywhere. You can even lunge when you walk from your desk to the water cooler at work.

Squats are one of the most effective full body exercises around because they simultaneously work to build muscle and burn fat.

If you have a corporate office gym, make the most out of equipment you have access to. Take a moment away from your desk to do a workout. Employees who find time to exercise improve their health and wellbeing, which can have significant benefits for your business, such as increased productivity. Constant work stress and frustration can lower productivity.

 How Do I Exercise Everyday?

Even if your day is busy with meetings and commitments, finding just 15 minutes to exercise is enough to do your body good. It’s important to keep in mind that any form of exercise is better than none, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not clocking in one hour of exercise a day.

Regular exercise promotes the release of mood boosting endorphins. Exercise also helps you sleep better, giving you more energy throughout the day.

The goal is to increase your overall fitness levels through movement. Try rallying up your co-workers during your coffee or lunch break and aim for a brisk 15 minute walk. Set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you.

Next time you have a conference call or a few calls to return, consider picking up your phone and going for a walk. Strive to walk whenever you’re on the phone.

Walking has proven be extremely beneficial for health. It improves fitness, strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, and reduces cholesterol levels and body fat.  The fresh air and endorphins will spark more creative ideas. You’ll also feel more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope during the afternoons.

How Do You Incorporate Fitness In Your Life?

You will need to make time for exercise so first of all you to need assess how many days per week you would like to work out. Try scheduling the majority of your workouts for Monday through Friday. That way if you miss one or two days you can schedule sessions on the weekends.

Typically weekends work best for longer workouts. Even if you visit friends and family and have activities planned, aim to include at least 30-minutes of exercise, which could be a brisk walk around your local park or weather permitting, a walk along the beach. Your goal should be to maintain 10,000 steps a day. The best way to do that is to get a pedometer at your local sporting store, or download an app that converts your phone to a pedometer. Those wearing pedometers tend to walk more because they’re more conscious of their steps. Climbing a flight of stairs is the equivalent of walking 100 steps.

Find work out buddies by joining a walking or hiking group. It’s a great way to get out and make new friends while improving your health all at the same time.

To beat boredom, do activities you actually enjoy. Try new activities such as yoga or a Spinning class to add variety to your workouts. Find a local fitness studio that offers strength and cardio classes at convenient times. Putting a class on your calendar is like having an appointment you won’t forget.

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a session with me here

3 Healthy Travel Hacks For Women

No More Airplane Nausea

Nothing says vacation buzz kill quite like feeling nauseas on an airplane and especially during a long-haul flight. If motion sickness meds aren’t your thing, I’ve got the next best thing that is sure to keep you calm and relaxed during your flight minus the drowsiness. I knew you’d be excited.

It is well known that peppermint essential oil is one of nature’s healing gifts -giving a cooling sensation and having a calming effect on the body to reduce stress, mental exhaustion and depression. It is also recommended for its anti nausea benefits, which makes it ideal for motion sickness.

Even with restrictions placed on carrying liquids on the plane, the easiest way to take aromatherapy with you on-board a flight is to just take essential oils that have already been absorbed into a tissue, handkerchief, and cotton ball or roll on essential oils. Since there isn’t any restrictions for the amount of liquid packed in a checked bag, you can still take your oils with you to have after you land.

Try condensing liquids in order to maximize the variety of liquid items you can carry with you. Place essential oils in smaller 5ml glass vials. Like peppermint, ginger and spearmint can also be applied to pressure points, rubbed gently over the stomach and intestinal area to bring relief for nausea.

Do Free Activities 

They say the best things in life are free, and for every fun-loving traveller out there, it’s an idea worth keeping in mind. Imagine seeing famous paintings, entertaining your kids with activities, going for a hike while overlooking waterfalls and seeing gorgeous views of sunset from the mountain. Now imagine doing it all for free. For free? That’s right!

Tourism websites are an awesome way to seek out free sights, events and activities happening in and around town. Try taking a walking tour and get a free history lesson at the same time; go to a music festival in the park; stop by cultural center; check out a farmer’s market; sample local food; stroll through the botanical garden or visit a museum. It’s a fun way to navigate your way through a new city and see all kinds of cool things you wouldn’t usually see if you were sitting on a tour bus or on an airplane. 

Healthy Instant Airplane Breakfast Ideas

The worst thing about flights is without doubt, the food. Airline food is jam-packed with 20-30% more sugar and salt to bring out the flavor. Calories in airplane meals are pretty high – between 255 and 360 per food item. 

Whether you’re sitting in first class or coach, all the food comes from the same place: An industrial kitchen near the airport, where it’s cooked before departure and then reheated on board. Usually the meals are made between 12 and 72 hours in advance. It’s enough to make your stomach churn.

Why not take your own breakfast and make it a healthy one? Put some quinoa flakes in a baggie along with your favorite toppings (dried fruit and nuts). During the meal service, ask your flight attendant for hot water and prepare your healthy breakfast in a coffee cup. You can also take a spread like almond butter and some rice cakes. People tend to eat out of boredom and especially on long-haul flights. Plan ahead of time so you’ll be prepared to reach for something healthy when hunger strikes. By the time you reach your destination, you will feel better for it. It’s time to leave those nasty sky-high-calories behind.

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a session with me here

How to Work Out With A Busy Schedule

These days, finding the time to exercise for a busy person can be a challenge. With so many work demands and family responsibilities, the thought of having to go to the gym can feel like just another thing on your to-do list.

While it seems like everyone and everything needs your attention, truthfully nothing needs your attention for every single minute of every day. What if you could find easy and enjoyable ways to incorporate exercise as part of your important me-time? There’s no need to limit your idea of exercise to just going to the gym. It’s important to carve out special time for yourself. When you put yourself first, you maintain both your mental and physical health, giving you more energy and enthusiasm in other areas of your life.

It’s easy to feel motivated about the idea of exercising but when it comes to the crunch, we often lose motivation when we try to do too much too soon. What’s most important for motivation is accomplishing and completing a task on a consistent basis, not the size of the task itself.

Let’s consider breaking it down into achievable steps so that you can find fun ways to include more movement and exercise into your busy schedule to get your heart pumping and muscles working everyday, no matter how busy life gets.

How Do I Fit Exercise Into My Schedule?

While you don’t need an hour or even half an hour a day to lose weight or get into great shape, doing 15-20 minutes of exercise a day may be enough exercise for a busy person.

Going for a walk around the neighborhood, not only burns calories but the fresh air and sunshine are mood boosters as well. It’s okay to break things up. Try doing two 10-minute walks. Walk over to co-workers, rather than phoning or sending an email or IM. Take a walk during your coffee and lunch breaks. Walk while you’re talking on the phone. Bike to work, get off your bus or train a few stops earlier, or park the car further away to extend your walking time.

 How Do I Exercise Everyday?

A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine is all it takes.

Expecting too much only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t do or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of worrying over results, the key is to focus on consistency.

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a session with me here

8 Tips For Staying On Track With Your Fitness Goals

Trying to stay on track with your new fitness goals can often prove to be a little challenging. Changing existing habits or adopting a new lifestyle isn’t something that magically happens overnight. The good news is there are several proven techniques that’ll help you achieve your fitness goals and get lasting results.

Every day is a new day to make good choices. The trick is establishing a plan like having a monthly wellness calendar and sticking to it.

Here are 8 tips to staying on track with your fitness goals to ensure you have everything at your fingertips.

Develop A Positive Attitude

A positive attitude is key. Even if you’re tired or stressed, unless you are physically incapable of moving due to medical reasons, remind yourself that sticking to a healthy lifestyle has a ripple effect. You’ll sleep better when you eat better and by eating better you’ll ultimately think and feel better.

How To Fit Exercise Into Your Busy Routine

Small steps really do lead to big rewards, you just have to get moving and keep it real by aiming for a realistic first step. Try increasing your workout schedule from 2 to 3 days a week, or exercise for 15 more minutes each time.

Not a morning person? Consider working out in the evenings with a calmer routine like yoga that will also help you relax and sleep well after a busy day.

How To Stay Motivated

Revamp your fitness gym wear. Let’s be honest looking good makes you feel good and girls gym clothes are like your personal investment as the image of who you see in the mirror can sometimes determine how motivated you are for your workout.

Keep a fitness journal or use an app to record your progress, for example, how much you run, walk, or lift and the calories you burn.

Get A Good Playlist

Say no more to workout boredom. Put together a few playlists for various workouts, something hip and upbeat when you go for a run, and something calm and instrumental for your yoga practice or when going for a walk.

Get An Accountability Partner

On days when you’re opting for the couch instead of the treadmill, a workout buddy can steer you back in the right direction. Studies have shown that you’ll also work out longer when you have a friend join you. Plus you can hold each other accountable to stick with your fitness goals. So grab a buddy and set some fitness goals together by mixing together different workouts. Create a schedule that you can both keep up with on a weekly or daily basis, and that will eventually become a routine in your life.

Reward Your Goals

Rewards are a key part of the fitness journey. They motivate us and can make a tough workout feel worthwhile. Reward yourself whenever you hit an important milestone or achieve a specific goal. What works as a reward should be inspiring to you; otherwise it won’t inspire you to stick to your program. Maybe you need a new set of hot yoga clothes or an fitness magazine subscription. This can be especially rewarding if you have gone up or down a size thanks to your hard work.

Add Variety To Your Workout Routine

Mixing together different workouts keeps things interesting and exercises different muscle groups. If you usually do a spin class, Pilates routine, or yoga at the gym, you can do a series of squats and lunges before your spin class to make riding the bicycle just a little more challenging. Or you could do a full body weight-training workout that works all your muscles except your abdominals before you go into a Pilates class.

Plan Healthy Meals

Planning meals and snacks is a key part of healthy eating, but will also help you with budgeting, shopping and avoiding unhealthy temptations.

Prepare your meals for the week ahead. It won’t feel like “dieting,” and it’ll save you the effort of thinking about what you’re going to eat every day.

Be mindful of calorie intake, which can sneak up on you with portions that are larger than you think. Use the nutrition facts to your advantage so you know how many macronutrients carbs, fats, and proteins go into your body. That’s not to say you should count calories, but you should balance out your consumption to make you get enough protein (for building muscle) and fats and carbs (for energy).

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How to Choose a Healthy Protein Bar

Protein bars make for the perfect snack. They are extremely convenient, affordable, easy to carry and handy for active people who are looking for meal replacements or a nutritious snack in between meals. However, not all of protein bars are made equal or even considered healthy protein bars.

While protein bars may help you reach your muscle building or weight loss goals, a large number of them can actually sabotage your health and lead to weight gain. If you were to carefully look at the list of ingredients contained in these, “protein bars”, they would actually fall into the category of junk food rather than nutritious. So which protein bars are best?

By understanding exactly what to look for, you will know how to pick a healthy protein bar from an unhealthy one. Here’s what you need to know.

Choose Real Ingredients

 Unfortunately, many protein bars have a lot of chemicals and derived ingredients added to them. The best protein bars are made up of whole foods and simple ingredients, such as dried fruit, nuts and veggies. Ideally, the ingredients are organic, non-GMO, dairy, soy and gluten-free. 

Look At Carbs To Protein Ratio

You will want to look at the carbs to protein ratio of the protein bar. This is important because a protein bar should have at least 15 grams of protein per bar. You want to be sure the protein content is higher than carbs. So if there are more grams of carbs than protein, or more grams of sugar than protein, you’ll definitely need to look for another bar.

Look At High Quality Protein

Protein is essential for recovery after exercise and for building muscle. Too little protein will delay your recovery and could even mean your muscles shrink rather than grow. Protein is also important for fat burning. When it comes to selecting the best protein bars, the more protein, the better but only if that protein is good quality. The best proteins to look for are milk and whey. Some protein bars contain soy in the form of soy protein isolates, which can cause a stomach upset.

Stay Clear of Artificial Sweeteners

Manufacturers often add things like artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and high fructose corn syrup. Also sugar alcohols like lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols have gained popularity as sweeteners because they have fewer calories, don’t affect blood sugar as much as regular sugar, and don’t cause tooth decay. However sugar alcohols do have a downside because they may cause bloating and intestinal discomfort in some people.  

Avoid Unhealthy Saturated Fats

You will want to avoid any protein bar that contains trans fat, and watch out for bars that have palm kernel oil, which is a type of saturated fat. If you can find a good protein bar with a healthy amount of healthy fat this will make for a far better addition to your healthy eating plan and will definitely be a smarter choice than one of the commercial protein bars that are on the market that may contain trans fats.

Choose High Fiber

Look for bars that contain at least 6 grams of fiber. Fiber will help promote regularity, control blood sugar spikes, and help you feel fuller longer.

Check The Calories

If you’re restricting daily calorie intake in order to lose weight, pay attention to the total calories of your protein bar, as well as the actual size of your bar. After a workout, you’ll need to replenish your energy and prevent muscular pain by making smarter choices.

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a session with me here

25 Travel Nutrition Tips to Help You Eat Healthy While Traveling

Whether you’re heading out on a business trip or taking a vacation, being away from home and routine can throw many of us off our nutrition game. A long flight or car trip can mean being stuck in your seat for hours on end but that doesn’t mean letting boredom give in to temptation. Believe it or not, many of the unhealthy cravings we experience on the road can be satisfied with a refreshing drink of pure water. Besides, staying hydrated, water helps you eat less by staying full and energized.

With so many fast food chains and large food portions served in restaurants, being too casual and having a mindset of, “I can eat whatever I want”, can actually wind up working against you, leaving you bloated, irritable and tired. Therefore, the phrase “If you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing”, rings true.

Make eating healthy while on vacation a goal by sticking to a normal eating routine as much as possible. When you go for long periods of time without eating, you’re far more likely to pick up something unhealthy. Live by the golden rule of eating something every 2-3 hours. It doesn’t have to be much, just a handful of nuts or a small tub of unsweetened non-dairy yogurt to keep your hunger at bay.

Being prepared is your first step. You can still indulge in a nutritious diet while on the go. Here are 25 nutrition tips to help you eat healthy while traveling so you can plan accordingly and stay happy, healthy and energized while you’re on the road.

In The Car

By the time you’ve hit the road everyone in the car has a ravenous appetite. The last thing you want is to have an endless supply of junk food. Instead, pack a few snacks and easy meals. To keep things fresh, bring some airtight containers and a cooler along. Here are some foods to eat while traveling in a car:

  • Unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • Home-made hummus with baby carrots
  • Gluten-free vegan sandwiches
  • Quinoa black bean salad
  • Celery stuffed with almond butter

On The Plane

While most airlines don’t provide healthy food choices, you can still plan ahead so that you can stay on track with your healthy eating goals. Instead of spending money on fast food at the airport or junk food on board, you can save time and money by being prepared. Traveling with some protein sources and a full litre of water can help prevent dehydration and fatigue, as well as excessive hunger and overeating later. Consider these healthy options next time you travel so when the flight attendant comes around passing out bags of pretzels, you’ll be able to reach for a healthy snack alternative.

  • Rice cakes with almond butter
  • Home-made hummus
  • Homemade trail mix (raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts)
  • Larabar’s
  • Whole fruit

At The Hotel

Find out ahead of time if there is a supermarket nearby. The good news is there is supermarkets pretty much everywhere. Ask hotel staff for recommendations. You can also request a refrigerator or microwave in your room to keep anything that you’ve purchased from going bad. Stock your hotel refrigerator so you have snacks on hand if you get the late-night munchies.

  • Non-dairy milk
  • Pre-cut veggies (carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery)
  • Gluten-free bread
  • Nut butter
  • Brown paper bags and popcorn kernels to pop in the microwave

By The Shore

When you need energy for a long hike, a long drive, or a day at the beach, stick with high-quality plant-based protein. It’s important to eat balanced meals throughout the day and to include a plant-based protein, such as tempeh, nuts or legumes and add some veggies to your plate. Be sure to include some of these healthy foods choices:

  • Collard Green wraps
  • Brown rice salad
  • Rice cakes with avocado
  • Homemade vegan sushi
  • Homemade energy bars

Dining

Depending on your accommodation, having access to a kitchen at an Airbnb as well as other vacation rental services, can set you up with all the amenities of home and are usually the least expensive option compared to a hotel. This means you can buy and cook your own food, which can save you money on a trip. Or search out healthy restaurant options close to the hotel you will be staying in. Here are some smart healthy choices:

  • Steamed vegetables
  • Brown rice
  • Legumes
  • Tempeh
  • Quinoa salad

Looking for more healthy tips? Book a one-to-one session with me here

7 Ingredients to Avoid When Choosing Your Protein Bars

Protein bars are a perfect snack for people who simply don’t have the time to sit down for a complete meal and who are looking for a quick, nourishing and convenient snack on the go. But how healthy are these protein bars? Have you ever stopped to wonder what’s actually in them?

While the very mention of a protein bar can conjure up an image of perfect health in one’s mind, it is extremely important to choose your protein bars very carefully, since they can truly make or break your health. Many protein bars vary from being healthy and nutritious to being completely loaded with harmful ingredients such as: hydrogenated oils, sugars, chemicals, additives and fillers, as well as preservatives. If you’ve ever wondered do protein bars make you put on weight? In truth, the answer is yes. These harmful ingredients can actually lead to stomach problems and weight gain.

Perhaps you’ve even asked yourself, are protein bars good to eat for breakfast? While starting your day with a delicious high protein breakfast does keep you satisfied all day, it’s important to opt for whole foods over protein bars. However, by choosing high protein bars made with real ingredients, most will range anywhere from 3 – 20 grams of protein per serve but you’ll want to pay attention to good sources of fat, carbs and fiber. The amount of protein you need depends on your needs and your activity levels. A bar with 6 grams of protein would be ideal.

What To Look For

Before you buy another protein bar, you’ll need to educate yourself on the seven most common unhealthy protein bar ingredients, along with what makes them the worst protein bars and why you should avoid them.

Soy Protein Isolate (SPI)

While all soy is not created equally, soy protein isolate is processed as unhealthy soy. The process of “isolating” the soy protein can leave behind traces of the neurotoxins hexane and aluminium and even cause digestive issues due to higher concentrations of trypsin inhibitors that could block the digestion of plant protein. If it isn’t organic, you can count on it containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Look for soy free protein bars.

Carrageenan

A seaweed derivative that’s used as an emulsifier in many products, carrageenan is often found in protein bars. It has been known to cause intestinal irritation in many people. Always check the label for this ingredient if you suspect that it’s a problem for you.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Made by adding enzymes to corn syrup to convert its glucose into fructose, HFCS is a chemically made sweetener that studies have linked to weight gain, increased abdominal fat and insulin resistance thanks to the high fructose content. Choose low sugar protein bars.

Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil

Palm kernel oil is a cheap and unhealthy fat. Unlike plain palm oil, palm kernel oil can’t be obtained organically. Instead the oil must be extracted from the pit with gasoline-like hydrocarbon solvent. The fractionated form is the most processed.

Sugar Alcohols

This includes ingredients like Maltitol Syrup, Xylitol, Sorbitol, Lactitol, Mannitol and Erythritol. Sugar alcohols are included in bars for sweetness, especially in low carb protein bars. Sugar alcohol doesn’t impact blood sugar as much as regular sugar because they’re not well absorbed in the digestive tract.

Artificial Sweeteners

One of the most harmful ingredients commonly found in protein bars is artificial sweeteners, which can lead to severe insulin imbalances in the body and which, in turn, can lead to blood-sugar spikes that will increase cravings for sweet foods. Some research even suggests that these artificial compounds may hinder your body’s natural ability to produce a hormone responsible for controlling the feeling of satiety and blood-sugar levels – a hormone called GLP-1 – which makes you feel even hungrier after consuming the protein bar, instead of satisfied. Artificial sweeteners not only make you overeat, but they can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Inulin                                                                                                                      

A type of soluble fiber found in asparagus, onions and artichokes, works as a prebiotic to promote digestion and good gut bacteria. However, the inulin found in most protein bars is extracted from chicory root to raise the fiber count. When consumed in large amounts, it can actually do the opposite to promote healthy digestion leading to an upset stomach, diarrhoea, gas, bloating or constipation.

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Healthy Vegan Travel Snacks For The Plane

When it comes to travel and healthy food options, often the two don’t go hand-in-hand, especially given the limited choices available in an airport that are either overpriced or loaded with sugar, fat and calories. And let’s not forget the unhealthy food choices on the actual flight itself.

The best way to avoid sabotaging your diet is to save time and money by bringing your own healthy travel snacks for the plane and airport. You can do this by planning ahead of time without spending hours in the kitchen the night before. Preparing easy snacks takes about an hour, which means, you can do this on the same morning that you’re leaving.

Packing your own healthy travel snacks will also help you resist the temptation and help you stay on track with your diet. They key is to focus on protein snacks that will help you stay energized and keep those hunger pangs at bay.

Protein is an essential macronutrient that supports several structures in your body and many people rely on protein supplements to get their recommended daily amount. It is also an essential nutrient needed for muscle growth and repair.

Grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are quality sources of protein to include in a healthy diet. Sunflower seeds provide 6 g of the macronutrient in a just quarter-cup serving (or a small child’s handful). Combine seeds with nuts and dried fruit in a trail mix for snacking. Almonds and cashews provide a healthy source of protein with approximately 8 g and 5 g per a quarter-cup serving.

Healthy Vegan Snacks For The Plane

  • Fresh fruit (Apples, bananas, grapes, cherries, berries)
  • Cut up veggies (Broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, snap peas, celery sticks)
  • Nuts
  • Rice cakes (plain)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower etc.)
  • Dry quinoa flakes in a cup (add hot water in-flight)
  • Trail Mix
  • Nut butter packets
  • Unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • Home-made hummus or guacamole
  • Almond butter stuffed dates
  • Air-popped popcorn (plain)

Want to add more plant-based foods to your diet or transition to a vegan lifestyle? Click here to book a session with me.

 

 

 

 

Disconnect To Reconnect In The Real World

Ahhh MySpace. That was my very first introduction to social media back in 2005. I soon followed with a Facebook account, then Twitter and eventually Instagram. But several years later, I deleted them all except for Facebook, which I rarely use now. As a Generation X girl, I began to reflect on life before the Internet and how I used to spend my time. I wanted to make better use of my time by choosing to disconnect to reconnect in the real world. 

Of course, having an online business means being online, but I didn’t need to extend it to social media distractions. By limiting my use of technology I created a win-win situation. I unsubscribed from newsletters, turned off notifications on my phone, signed out of Facebook and shut down my computer to reduce screen time. 

Researchers have found that too much screen time can have a negative affect on your health and wellbeing. We put our brains through an exhausting physical workout, day in day out. The constant stimulation from our phones and computers never gives our minds a chance to truly rest. Next time your in a public place, take a look around you and you’ll find that at least one or more people engrossed in their phone.

Health Risks of Too Much Screen Time

  • Headaches
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced attention span
  • Irritated eyes
  • Social isolation and loneliness

Going on a digital detox can have tremendous benefits on the body and mind.

Benefits of a Digital Detox

  • Gets your creative juices flowing
  • Mindfulness
  • Calmer
  • Healthier relationships
  • Face-to-face connections
  • Better sleep
  • More productive
  • Improves physical health
  • Increased happiness

There’s no denying that technology is incredible but being able to unplug and have some time away from the screen will leave you feeling refreshed and energized and more in touch with the world around you.

Do you need to go on a digital detox and find more balance and freedom in your life? Book a session with me here

How To Respond To Stress: Signs and Behaviors

Stress originates in the brain when it makes interpretations about our environment. The perceived threat or challenging situation will deliver a rapid signal from the brain’s motor cortex to the muscles, which tense, ready for action.

Wear and Tear of Our Bodies

Allostatic load is the wear and tear our bodies experience as they adapt to the challenges that life brings it – both physical and psychological. The way you live and the way you manage stress contribute to your allostatic load. Not getting enough sleep, overeating, caffeine, alcohol, under-exercising and drug taking can make us more susceptible and less resilient to allostatic load.

Effects of Stress

  • Ulcers and gastrointestinal disorders
  • Heart palpitations and atrial fibrillation
  • Headaches
  • Decreased concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive need for control
  • Poor eating patterns
  • Poor memory function
  • Negative thought patterns
  • Workaholism
  • Panic attacks

The Happy Chemicals

Social contact and supportive relationships are essential for wellbeing and calm. Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the brain that has a significant effect on the stress response. It heightens compassion, prevents blood vessel constriction and improves heart health. It works in tandem with dopamine and endorphins to produce this effect and has been shown to reduce the release of cortisol. Endorphins are an opiate-like neurotransmitter that decreases pain and increases feelings of wellbeing, and is commonly associated with exercise amongst fitness enthusiasts.

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How Stress Management Can Improve Your Life

Although stress has both mental and physical components, it really is all about the belief that we do not have the resources to cope with the situation, which can make it a negative experience. That situation might be a combination of life factors or events or a one off occurrence. This would cover both acute and chronic stress.

Positive Stress vs Negative Stress

Positive stress can help us rise to a challenge, stimulate us and encourage us on to greater achievements that will bring satisfaction to our lives. A surge of adrenaline has helped people perform skills of seemingly impossible strength in situations of danger. Up to a certain level, the stress response can help us finish urgent tasks, meet deadlines and increase our efficiency and performance. Negative stress leaves us feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

How Stress Management Can Improve Your Life

Evidence shows that men and women respond differently to stressful situations. Men are more likely to “fight or flee”, whereas women release more oxytocin that produces the “tend and befriend” response.

Better stress management can improve people’s lives by helping people to take the time to reflect, engage thoroughly, relax mentally and physically, disconnect, replenish their nervous systems and take stock of their level of life satisfaction including their health. It would also prevent the risk of heart disease, stroke, as well as chronic pain, weight gain, allergies, diabetes and autoimmune disorders.

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