Category Archives: General Health

Reasons To Eat Healthy That Are Not Weight Related

For many people the main motivation behind eating healthy is to lose weight.  This instantly makes you think deprivation which is why a lot of people have a negative feeling toward eating healthy.  The good news?  It’s possible to eat healthy and enjoy what you’re eating.  But a thought shift needs to happen – don’t put yourself on a healthy ‘diet’ just for the sole reason of losing weight.  Take  a look at some of these great reasons to eat healthy that are not weight related.

Reasons To Eat Healthy That Are Not Weight Related

  1. Eating healthy saves you money in the long run.

Unfortunately junk food is super cheap so it can be tempting to save a few bucks by stocking up on processed foods.  A study was done that showed that produce and lean meats add about $1.50/day to your grocery budget, but it also noted that when you include the cost savings from preventing illness (ie obesity, type 2 diabetes etc) you actually end up saving about $2.71/day in the long run.  Eat healthy now and come out ahead with both your healthy and finances.

  1. Eating healthy reduces cravings for junk food.

Cravings typically happen when you don’t get all the nutrients your body needs which causes low energy.  When you eat healthy your body gets the nutrients it needs so it doesn’t drive you to keep eating.  Junk food might fill you up momentarily but once your brain realizes that your body hasn’t gotten all the nutrients it needs and energy is running low it’ll drive you to seek out more food.  Typically it’ll drive you to eat food that’s high in calories and sugar looking or the fastest delivery of energy.

  1. Eating healthy helps with potential muscle soreness after a workout.

According to several studies, what you eat after your workout will determine how quickly and how well your muscles recover.  The biggest factor is getting enough protein after your workout.  Protein provides the amino acids (building blocks) you need to repair and build muscle.  For maximum results try drinking a shake with a good amount of protein and some healthy carbs right after your next workout.

  1. Eating healthy helps with clear skin.

What you put in your body will directly affect your skin.  If you suffer from acne try removing sugar, dairy and processed grains and see if it clears up.  Try removing one at a time to see if a single one is what’s causing the problem.  Drinking enough water is another way to clear up your skin.

  1. Eating healthy can amp up your sex drive!

Researchers have found that eating certain healthy spices can actually increase sex drive and performance in both males and females.  The next time you’re out shopping for spices pick up some saffron and ginger to use in the dinner you make for you and your partner and see where the night takes you.  Stay away from alcohol though.  While it might increase your desire, it will most likely hamper your performance.

Reap The Benefits Of Eating Healthy

There are a lot of delicious healthy foods out there and you absolutely can find ones that you love.  If you’ve been eating junk for a while you’ll need to give your taste buds a chance to recover from the ill effects of overly flavoured frankenfood but once they do you’ll never want to go back to eating crap and feeling like crap.  Try it!

Reasons to Exercise That Have Nothing To Do With Weight Loss

I think when most people think about exercising and eating right they’re motivated by weight related goals.  There is SO much more to it though.  I used to punish myself with exercise trying to drop weight.  My obsession with losing weight did nothing but make me miserable and frustrated.  Here are some reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss.

Here Are Your Reasons To Exercise That Have Nothing To Do With Weight Loss!

  1. Exercise fights depression.

When you exercise your body releases endorphins which make you feel good.  Just 30 minutes a day can make a world of difference.

  1. Helps you to deal with stress.

When you’re stressed about something go for a workout!  Working out is one of the fastest ways to clear cortisol, the stress hormone, out of your system.  Anytime I’m going through something stressful I use my workout as my little vacation from what ever’s bothering me.  Since cortisol is cleared from your system when you workout, you’ll feel calm and relaxed after your workout.

  1. It boosts creativity.

Got a report or paper due?  Maybe you’ve been put in charge of organizing a function and you just don’t know what to do.  Try going for a quick workout and just see how it gets the juices flowing.

  1. It helps people deal with their addictions.

Whether you’re addicted to sugar, cigarettes, alcohol or drugs it’s been shown that exercise can help.  Studies have shown that the endorphin rush released during exercise acts on the same neural pathways as addictive substances.

  1. Exercise saves you money!

You might think it’s too expensive to join a gym or invest in an at home program but if you compare it to the cost of being sick you’ll see that everyone can afford to exercise.  If your health deteriorates to a point where you need to spend a lot of time at the doctor’s and you have to take expensive medications in order to survive you’ll spend far more time and money than you ever would on exercise.

What Are You Waiting For?

These are just a few of the many reasons you should be exercising now.  Don’t let yourself get to a point where you become dependent on medications.  Don’t get to a point where you live in constant pain.  Start exercising regularly now so the future you can be happy and healthy.

Next article will be non-weight related reasons to eat healthy!

Why Hugs Are Awesome!

Are you a hugger?  I am!  I love a good hug and I’ll hug pretty much anyone who will let me.  Did you know that a hug can lower your blood pressure, ease your stress and even boosts your immune system?  Here’s why hugs are awesome:

  1. Lowers blood pressure.

When you give or receive a hug your body releases oxytocin which is the hormone that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy.  It promotes feelings of contentment and reduces anxiety and stress.

  1. Eases stress.

Hugging eases stress by reducing levels of circulating cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood.

  1. Boosts your immune system.

Cortisol inhibits the immune system and hugging lowers cortisol so it actually has an effect on the immune system!  There was a study that was done with 400 healthy adults who were asked about their perceived social support.  They were interviewed over a course of 2 weeks and were asked about the frequency that they engaged in interpersonal conflict and if they received hugs that day.  The researchers then exposed all of them to the common cold virus to see what would happen.  They found that the people who engaged in less interpersonal conflict and received regular hugs had less or no cold symptoms as compared to the people who when through regular interpersonal conflicts and did not receive regular hugs.

  1. Increases bonding.

When you hug someone and your body releases oxytocin it increases the bond between you and the person you’re hugging.

  1. Relieves pain.

Another hormone that gets released when you hug someone is endorphins.  Endorphins relieve pain by blocking the pain pathways!  It also increases circulation to soft tissues which can help to soothe aches.

  1. Help to relieve depression.

Hugging increases the production of dopamine and serotonin in your brain.  Both dopamine and serotonin levels are low in people who are suffering with depression.  A simple hug can improve a person’s mood and even boost their self-esteem.

Go Hug Someone!

Any time you get the opportunity to hug someone do it!  I do!

How Hormones Affect Your Weight Part 3

In my last post I talked about 3 more hormones that will affect your weight when they’re out of balance.  They were leptin, ghrelin and neuropeptide Y.  Today I’ll tell you about 3 more hormones that affect your weight and what you can do to get them back in balance.

Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1)

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP-1) is released from the intestine in response to food intake.  It makes you feel full and also plays a key role in keeping your blood sugar levels stable.  Strict dieting can result in a decrease of GLP-1.

What to do:

  • Eat your protein.

Getting the right amount of protein has been shown to increase GLP-1 levels so make sure you’re eating enough.

  • Use a high-quality probiotic.

You need a high-quality probiotic to keep your intestinal flora in balance.  If your intestinal flora is out of balance you can’t absorb nutrients properly.   Probiotic supplementation seems to increase levels of GLP-1.

  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods.

Chronic inflammation seems to be linked to decreased levels of GLP-1 so make sure to eat anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon, leafy greens, blueberries and garlic.

Cholecystokinin (CCK)

CCK is produced in your gut after a meal.  It’s role is to help with digestion and reduce appetite.  When levels of CCK are low you don’t get that same feeling of fullness which can lead to overeating.

What to do:

  • Protein!

Eating enough protein seems to be a common theme when it comes to hormonal balance so be sure you’re eating protein with every meal and get about 20-30% of your total calories from protein.

  • Healthy fats.

Healthy fats such as olive oil trigger the release of CCK so be sure to include healthy fats in your diet.

  • Fibre

Eating fibre has been shown to increase CCK so be sure to eat lots of vegetables and a moderate amount of fruit and unprocessed grains (if you can tolerate them).

Peptide YY (PYY)

Peptide YY is also produced by the gut in response to food intake and helps to regulate appetite.  Higher calorie foods will cause your gut to release more PYY and therefore let you know when you’ve eaten enough.

What to do:

  • Eat your protein and fibre.

Protein and fibre have been shown to increase PYY.

  • Eat a lower carb diet.

Elevated blood sugar may impair PPY’s effects so stick to a lower carb diet and eat natural and minimally processed carbs and avoid processed and sugary foods.

Find Balance

Your hormones work together to keep you both physically and mentally healthy.  Eat a healthy and balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, fibre and unprocessed carbs and be sure to exercise regularly to keep everything in check!

How Hormones Affect Your Weight Part 2

In my last post I talked about 3 hormones that will affect your weight when they’re out of balance.  They were insulin, cortisol and estrogen.  Today I’ll tell you about 3 more hormones that affect your weight and what you can do to get them back in balance.

Leptin

Leptin is produced by your fat cells and it’s the hormone that tells you when you’re full.  It tells your brain that you have enough fat in storage so you don’t need to eat anymore.

Interestingly, overweight and obese people actually have a lot of leptin circulating in their blood stream – up to 4 times as much!  You’d think then that when these levels become high it would signal these individuals to eat less and they’d lose weight.  Unfortunately, what’s happened is the cells have become leptin resistant.  The brain doesn’t get the signal that the body no longer needs to store more fat so it drives the person to eat more.  One potential cause of leptin resistance is chronically elevated levels of insulin.

Here’s another side of it.  When you do lose weight, leptin levels drop off which means your brain isn’t getting the signal when you’ve eaten enough which is why it can be hard to keep weight off long term.  Not impossible, just a bit challenging.

What to do:

  • Avoid inflammatory foods and eat more anti-inflammatory foods.

Inflammatory foods include anything with sugar, anything processed and all junk food.  Anti-inflammatory foods include fatty fish, vegetables and fruits.

Even just moderate activity can help improve leptin sensitivity.

  • Get the sleep you need.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re tired you tend to crave food and it’s usually junk food?  When you don’t get enough sleep (7-9 hours) leptin levels drop off and your appetite increases.

Ghrelin

When your stomach is empty it releases ghrelin which sends the message to your brain that it’s time to eat.  Ghrelin levels are at their highest when your stomach is empty and at their lowest about an hour after eating.

Studies have shown that in overweight and obese people ghrelin only decreases a small amount after they’ve eaten.  This means that the brain is still getting signals to keep eating even when the person has had enough food, which will lead to overeating.

What to do:

  • Cut the sugar!

Sugar and high fructose corn syrup can impair ghrelin response after eating.

  • Eat more protein!

Be sure to have protein with every meal, especially breakfast.  Protein reduces ghrelin levels so your brain gets the signal that you’ve eaten enough and can stop.

Neuropeptide Y (NPY)

Neuropeptide Y, or NPY is produced by cells in your brain and nervous system and it stimulates appetite particularly for carbs.  NPY levels are highest during periods of food deprivation or fasting which is why you get such strong cravings for carbs when you’re trying to follow a super low-calorie diet.  NPY is also elevated during times of stress.

What to do:

  • Avoid crash diets and if you’re going to fast don’t do it for too long.

Those super low-calorie diets never work long term so don’t waste your time with them.  As for fasting, animal studies have shown that fasting for more than 24 hours can dramatically increase NPY levels

  • Eat the appropriate amount of protein.

Eating too little protein has been shown to increase NPY levels leading to hunger and increased food intake.

  • Take care of the good bacteria in your gut.

Be sure to include a high quality pro-biotic in your diet and eat plenty of soluble fibre to keep the good bacteria in your gut happy.  You can buy probiotics in capsule form or drink a high quality shake such as Shakeology which contains both pre and probiotics.

Part 3

In part 3 of this series I’ll be talking about glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CCK) and peptide YY (PYY).

Stay tuned!

How Hormones Affect Your Weight

Did you know that your hormones could be to blame for your weight gain and/or stubborn fat that you just can’t seem to get rid of?  Let’s look at how hormones affect your weight.

The First 3

In this part of this series I’m going to talk about 3 hormones that you’re probably quite familiar with.  These are insulin, cortisol and estrogen.

1.  Insulin

Insulin is the hormone that shuttles blood sugar into cells to either be used as energy or to be stored for later.  It also tells fat cells to store fat and prevents stored fat from being broken down.

When you eat, your blood sugar rises and insulin is released to take that sugar to where it needs to go.  Problems occur when your blood sugar is chronically high from eating a diet high in refined carbs and fast food causing your body to produce large amounts of insulin, leading to your cells becoming insulin resistant.  When cells become insulin resistant health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes can occur.

What to do:
  • Cut out or minimize sugar.

First thing you need to do is look at how much sugar you are consuming.  Sugar can be in things you wouldn’t expect such as bread, canned soups, condiments and salad dressings.  Read labels carefully.

  • Cut down on carbs and stick to minimally processed ones.

Eating a low carb diet can help.  When eating carbs stick to vegetables and a moderate amount of fruit and when eating grains look for minimally processed ones such as brown rice, quinoa and steel cut oats.

  • Increase protein and make sure you’re eating healthy natural fats.

Protein and healthy fats will help fill you up more and help to reduce cravings.  Omega 3 fats such as those found in fatty fish actually help lower fasting insulin levels.

  • Exercise 3-6 days per week.

When you do cardio your body uses glucose (blood sugar) for energy.  Muscles also use glucose so having more muscle means your body is using more of the glucose in your blood.  A healthy balance of cardio and strength training is ideal for keeping insulin levels normal.

2.  Cortisol

You probably know cortisol as the stress hormone.  When you’re stressed your cortisol levels go up and this can lead to overeating a weight gain.

A stressful lifestyle will lead to elevated cortisol levels as will super strict diets.

What to do:
  • Eat a balanced diet.

Make sure you’re eating a balance of healthy carbs, protein and healthy fats.  Avoid processed foods and fast foods and avoid super low calorie diets.  Super low calorie diets may seem to work but it signals the body to release more cortisol so in the long run it’ll backfire on you.

  • Learn to relax.

Everyday have at least a few minutes to yourself to relax.  You could use this time to meditate, read a good book or visit with your pets.  Take the time to break away from the usual stresses of life to give yourself a chance to reset.

  • Listen to music.

Music has an amazing ability to calm you down and make you happy.  Put together a playlist of all your favourite songs and listen to it on the commute to and from work, or while you’re working out, or while you’re cleaning – anytime you can listen to music do it.

  • Get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation is very stressful on your body and will definitely lead to elevated cortisol levels.  Try to get 7-9 hours a night.  Plan a bed time ritual that gets your mind and body ready for sleep and do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday.

3.  Estrogen

Estrogen is the female sex hormone but men have some estrogen as well.  In proper balance, it’s fine but when estrogen levels are too high, which is known as estrogen dominance, it causes toxic fat gain in the form of visceral fat (belly fat).

What to do:
  • Add some good stuff to your diet.

Eat plenty of fibre to help reduce estrogen levels.  Also include lots of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

  • Exercise

Exercise helps to reduce estrogen levels in both pre and postmenopausal women.

Part 2

In part 2 of this series I’ll be talking about leptin, ghrelin and neuropeptide Y (NPY).

Stay tuned!

Why Diets Don’t Work

Here’s the good news!  You never ever have to go on another diet again!!  Why?  Because diets don’t work!

Some Reasons Why Diets Don’t Work

  1. Diets are not sustainable and you don’t learn anything.

Most prescribed diets are very restrictive.  They’re usually super low in calories and/or eliminate whole food groups.  When you follow one of these diets you don’t learn anything about proper nutrition.  All you learn is that slashing calories makes you grumpy and leaves you with almost unbearable cravings.  Is this something you can sustain long term?  No!  And here’s the cold hard truth:  when you go back to eating like a normal person you’ll gain back the weight you lost plus more.

  1. Diets lead to weight gain.

Yup!  That’s right!  If you are a chronic dieter you probably already know this from experience and I learned this the hard way too.  When you restrict calories too much your body panics and thinks all the food is going to run out and you’ll starve to death.  To prevent death, your body will slow down it’s metabolism so that it can store fat so there’s something for it to feed off of if food doesn’t come soon.  You can end up doing some major damage to your metabolism and it’s a long hard journey to get it working again.

  1. Diets mess with your mind.

When you don’t get enough food your brain doesn’t work as well.  You feel tired and foggy and find it very hard to concentrate.  This isn’t even the worst of it!  Being deprived of proper nutrients leads to depression and anxiety and once depression and anxiety takes over it’s REALLY hard to escape that dark place.

  1. Diets can make you feel very isolated.

Sharing meals with other people is one of those super important human experiences.  It makes us feel bonded to others and is one of those simple pleasures that we crave.  When you’re on a special diet you can’t help but feel isolated.  I’ve been an WAY too many diets and each one made me not want to eat with other people because they’d be eating one thing and I’d either be restricting calories and just eat a salad, or I had my special meal that came with the program I was on.  It made me feel awkward and eventually led to me coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t go out with my friends when they wanted to go out to eat.

  1. Diets create a bad relationship with food.

As a past chronic dieter I developed a very bad relationship with food which is still with me a bit.  I had foods that I considered to be bad and when I indulged in them I really beat myself up about it.  I also became VERY self-conscious about eating in front of other people.  To this day if I’m out with friends and we decide to get something to eat on the spur of the moment I get that anxious feeling and really just want to get away from the situation.  Sometimes I’ll even tell them that I’ve already eaten so I can avoid it.  Something I need to work on 😉

Never Diet Again!

A diet will not solve your weight problems.  What you need is a healthy eating plan that you know you can stick with for the long haul.  You can figure this out with a bit of help from a nutritionist or by doing your own research.  Try a few ideas to see what works for you.  Just remember: it has to be something that provides you with the nutrients your body and mind needs.  It has to be something that’s appropriate for your lifestyle.  Need help?  Comment below 😊

Living In The Moment

In our busy world few of us really take the time to be in the present moment and really appreciate it.  Often people miss out on right now because they are too preoccupied with the past and what’s going to happen next.  Living in the moment is a skill that is very underrated.

Benefits Of Living In The Moment

It helps you deal with physical pain.

When you take the time to acknowledge the pain you’re feeling and explore it, it helps you to deal with it.  When you try to turn away from the pain this can lead to feelings of resentment and blame as well as other kinds of mental neediness.

It makes your workout seem easier.

When you think about your workout it might seem like a long grueling endeavor.  When you’re actually doing it all you’re doing is completing one thing at a time.  If you stay in the moment it’s always just one action that you are performing right now.  Keep your mind in that one moment and don’t worry about what’s coming up next and you’ll find you get through your workout a lot easier.

Big projects don’t seem as big.

When you have a big project to complete, thinking about it can make it seem impossible to you.  If you just choose to start at step one and commit to being totally present with each step before you know it the project is complete and you’ll wonder why you were so stressed out about it.

You eat less and enjoy more.

When you savor what you’re eating you’ll not only enjoy it more but you’ll actually eat less.  You’ll be more aware of when you’re satisfied rather than mindlessly going from bite to bite until everything’s gone.  Eating is so much more pleasurable when you take the time to experience each bite and savor the moment.

You don’t stress out about things that don’t matter right now.

We all have stress.  Paying bills can be a huge stress for people but it shouldn’t always be looming over you.  If you’re not going to act on something right now, don’t let that thought invade your mind.  Have a set date for when you pay your bills and for the rest of the month don’t let that stress take you away from the moment.

Enjoy This Moment Now

What are you doing right now?  Are you fully immersed in it or are you thinking about other things at the same time?  Shut out the other thoughts and really focus on what’s happening right now.

Why Cross-Train?

You’ve probably heard of cross-training but are you doing it?  Here are answers to your burning question: Why cross train?

Injury Prevention

One of the best reasons to cross-train is because it helps prevent injury.  When you use the same muscles the same way every day you risk over-use injuries and muscular imbalances.  While the main muscles used for your sport get stronger the other surrounding muscles become weak by comparison.  This can lead to chronic injuries that could plague you for years to come.

Active Recovery

It’s important to have a day of rest planned into your fitness routine for recovery, but you can also recover while staying active.  The benefit of this is that you can keep your fitness level high while still getting recovery for the muscles that really need a rest.

Rehabilitation

Most people who are active will at some point experience an injury that will require time off.  If this happens, cross-training will keep you from losing your fitness level.  While taking time off from the activity that caused the injury you can keep your fitness by participating in an activity that doesn’t involve the injured area.

Muscular Balance

If you predominantly use the same muscle groups the same way the majority of the time the opposing muscle groups have a tendency to get weak which sets you up for injury or chronic pain.  A cyclist uses their quads, hamstrings and glutes but not so much their abductors and adductors.  It’s important to create balance by focusing on the muscle groups you don’t use as much for your sport.

Improved Performance

If you participate in an activity that requires strong glutes, such as cycling, but your glutes are weak you’re at a big disadvantage.  Strengthening your weaker muscle groups will lead to much better performance.

The Boredom Factor

Even if you love your sport/activity if that’s all you ever do, you’ll get bored.  By adding in other activities you get to take a break from the usual and focus on something different.

Take Care Of Your Body

You only get one body so take care of it so it can serve you well.  Create balance and nurture yourself so you’ll be able to enjoy your sport/activity for many years to come.