Posts tagged movement
8 reasons you may be holding on to extra weight
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Before we get into why you may be holding on to fat, let’s go over where fat in our bodies comes from. Excess calories from food we eat covert to triglycerides, a type of fatty acid. Very simply, excess carbohydrates and protein are stored in adipose sites, or fat cells. and excess dietary fat is broken down by the lipolysis and reesterification processes and stored as fat. Triglycerides are comprised of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen which require oxidation to be broken down- in other words, breathing.

Did you know that the primary way to eliminate fat is through the lungs? Yes, yet another incredible function of breath.

While at rest and through daily activity, we are constantly breaking down carbon bonds. Add exercise into the mix, and we break down even more. When we eat food, we balance out our fat loss-fat intake ratio and maintain weight. To supremely oversimplify things one could say that in order to shed some weight, move more and eat less.

What if you are already doing this and not seeing any results? We are not, fortunately, such simple beings. There are several factors that could be getting in the way.

  1. Inflammation.

    While acute inflammation, like the type caused by hormetic stressors initiate a positive biological response, chronic, low level, systemic inflammation releases chemicals in the body causing irregular appetite and glucose regulation.

    What can cause systemic inflammation? Some of the usual suspects are over exercising, inflammatory foods, poor sleep habits or sleep deprivation, and chronic stress. We won’t get into the specifics of over exercising here, but with regards to inflammatory foods, the greatest offenders are vegetable oils or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) . These oils are processed in high temperatures and high pressure are easily oxidized and become rancid. These oils are associated with atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. While sugar is also inflammatory, the body is able to process it, especially through exercise. This is not the case with PUFAs.

    With regards to stress, when in a constant state of stress, we mess with the body’s lymbic system. This is our flight-fight response and when thrown out of whack, causes the release of a cascade of hormones distorting the control of hunger and causing the immune system to overreact. Chronic stress from toxins in the environment and once again, over exercising, can also increase cell danger response, causing negative metabolic mechanisms influencing fat loss and appetite dysregulation.

  2. Glycemic Variability.

    Blood glucose levels are in a constant state of flux. The body either shovels glucose into muscle and into the liver or can convert and store it as fat. When these levels fluctuate too high or too low and are out of control, it can cause major problems. When we exercise, the body utilizes glucose in muscles. If we don’t move enough throughout the day and use up extra glucose, it gets stockpiled as fat. Luckily, there are simple ways to regulate blood glucose levels.

    • Strength training. When we strength train, we increase the drive of glucose into muscle cells. Strength training decreases blood glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity. It is especially helpful before eating a large meal. Keep this in mind next Thanksgiving!

    • Doing a cardiovascular workout, first thing in the morning, in a fasted state.

    • Taking a 10-30 minute walk after a meal.

    • Standing after eating. Walking is more effective, but even simply standing after a meal is helpful, as opposed to sitting as is alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day.

    • Consuming blood sugar balancing foods such as ceylon cinnamon, berberine, rock lotus extract, bitter melon extract, gymnemma sylvertra, and apple cider vinegar.

    • Fiber. insoluble dietary fiber inhibits the conversion of glucose to fatty acids in the liver thereby reduces accumulation of fatty in adipose tissue and improves glucose tolerance. increase insulin sensitivity, prevent diet induced insulin resistance. get fiber from sweet potato, dark leafy greens, legumes, or being in a state of ketosis also helps mimic fiber intake.

  3. Stress

    Stress overload is arguably the number one cause of death in our modern world, laying the groundwork for the proliferation of every disease known to humankind. It is also a major reason we cannot get rid of unwanted fat. When stressed, the body releases a cascade of hormones directed towards survival, in lieu of those geared towards immune function, digestion and protein synthesis. In the face of a looming emergency, or in acute situations, this is essential. In normal life, chronic stress is directly related to increased inflammation, elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension - and extra weight, especially around the midsection.

    If all else is in check - you are moving adequately throughout the day, eating a clean diet free of all processed foods as well as sugar and controlling glycemic variability - yet your waist remains undesirably thicker than you’d like, cortisol levels may be the thorn in your side. Upping your stress management game to reduce cortisol production may be indispensable .

    An element that may also be contributing to stress overload is over exercising as well. This does not only apply to athletes. If you are exercising but not allowing for proper recovery, not sufficiently feeding your body nutrients and not getting enough quality sleep, you too may fall into this category.

  4. Under moving

    As mentioned above, in order to lose weight you must expend more energy through movement than you intake through everything you consume - breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, liquids, etc. Even if you exercise once a day, if you otherwise lead a sedentary life, you may not be moving enough to counterbalance your intake of food. This can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, metabolic syndrome, increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death. For this reason, it is important to sprinkle bouts of activity throughout the day. This could mean setting an alarm and doing air squats or a set of jumping jacks or push ups or taking a 2 minute walk every 30-60 minutes. An easy on ramp is to pace throughout the day or to walk when on the phone whenever possible.

  5. Over Moving

    As discussed above, over exercising is a thing - and not one only reserved for competitive athletes. Whether it be inflammation or stress overload or hormone dysregulation, too much exercise without proper recovery can be extremely taxing on the nervous system and body as a whole. The results? A weakened immune system, fatigue, mood swings, hormone dysregulation, thyroid issues, physical pain or discomfort, sleep disorders, an irregular appetite.

    We at Deep Health Evolution are all about sufficient recovery - and it seems like it’s catching on. More and more boutique studios specializing in recovery have been popping up. Two of our favorites are ReCOVER NYC (use code GC20 for a 20% discount) and BDYSQD in the Boston area. If you intend to live a life that is not only long, but also healthful and joyful without discomfort, aches, pains, etc, this is a critical component to your wellness regimen. If you are interested in learning more and feeling great, consider working with us. We have a toolbox full of useful recovery methods and tools to share.

  6. Not getting enough quality sleep

    The importance of restorative sleep is no longer a secret. There are severe consequences to getting fewer than the recommended 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. On the weight gain front, just one night of subpar sleeping can raise cortisol levels, increase insulin resistance and glycemic variability, stimulate hunger and lead to appetite cravings. The long term side effects of poor sleep are a weakened immune and nervous system, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes, just to name a few. What’s worse is that all the conditions named above affect quality of sleep, adding fuel to the fire. For sleep tips, read THIS blog post.

  7. Hormone dysregulation

    Exposure to toxins from pesticides and other chemicals as well as an overburden of life stressors such as financial stress or relationship stress, lack of sleep, heavy metal accumulation, dietary deficiencies, over exercising and gut dysregulation can lead to hormonal imbalances. The result? Metabolic issues that open the doors to increases in appetite and inflammation. If you are experiencing weight gain or the inability to lose weight despite you best efforts, this is something you may want to test for. Discuss it with an endocrinologist. You may need some thyroid support or to change your diet and the water you drink. Making other simple changes may make all the difference.

  8. Micronutrient deficiencies

    Micronutrients play a role in metabolism, weight gain, fat loss and obesity. Some of the most significant ones to be aware of are vitamin D, chromium, biotin, thiamine, magnesium, boron, vitamin A, vitamin K2 and choline and antioxidants. Necessary micronutrient levels vary from person to person so it is very difficult to determine appropriate levels without testing. Deficiencies can be caused by digestive or gut issues or other individual differences. If you are deficient in micronutrients, this could be the cause of sleep and cognitive concerns as well as chronic disease.

Having said all this, here are 3 tricks that may help.

One is cold exposure. Frequent cold showers or a cold soak can enhance the formation of brown or beige fat, a type of fat triggered by cold to burn white, unwanted fat (or the fat around your organs, belly, hips, rear end and thighs).

Two is change. If you have been doing the same workout at the same time of day using the same weights, etc, for over 12 weeks, your body has adapted and needs a new challenge in order to respond.

Three is happiness. How satisfied are you in all aspects of your life - work, home, relationships, spiritually, financially? How often are you immersed in nature? Do you feel like you are evolving or do you feel like you are stuck? The happiness factor, your outlook on the life you lead, can determine how well you sleep, how much/often you move, how and what you eat - your overall stress load. Identify the areas that need some fixing and take steps to make small changes.

As you contemplate and digest (pun intended) this information, realize that the biggest factor influencing positive change is your mindset. Open your mind and foster a growth mindset. Be honest and clear about what you truly desire with regards to your overall quality of life. Then step up. You must be willing to make the changes necessary to get there. Little by little is key. Patience is key. Pick one manageable thing - the one you know you can and will do and stick with it. Momentum will shift - ride the wave that blossoms from feeling your work transform you.

Your Daily Detox
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Detox programs abound left and right.  All over social media you’ll find celebrity endorsed juice cleanses and diets suggesting they are THE answer to those last, stubborn 5 pounds stuck to you like an over-jealous boyfriend or the remedy to that feeling of endless exhaustion no matter how much sleep you seem to get.  Want the real deal?  Keep reading!


Ilfede / istockphoto

Ilfede / istockphoto

True, we are living in a toxin-saturated world.  Think of the pesticide-sprayed lawns we walk by every day, the chemical-laden products we use on our skin and hair, the chemicals leached from the plastic container last-night’s take out was delivered in and the seat on the airplane (or your child’s pj’s for that matter) drenched in flame retardant.  These are only a few examples.  We are currently estimated by scientists to have over 700 contaminants rummaging around in our bodies.  As we accumulate these toxins such as heavy metals (ex. lead and mercury), chemicals (ex. parabens and pesticides), air-borne pollutants, they lovingly embed themselves in our tissues, primarily fat, as well as in our brains and bones.  What happens when we couple all of this with the ever-persistent onslaught of stress of modern day living, the lack of proper sleep and full-range, frequent movement?  Our bodies internal detoxification mechanisms - the liver, the kidneys, the gallbladder, the skin and even the respiratory system - don’t stand much of a chance.


Do juices and detox diets work? 

True, detox juices usually contain several herbs and vegetables such as cilantro, milk thistle, dandelion, garlic, and chlorella that do indeed work to gently pull toxins from the body – same for many of these detoxing diets and can be wonderful as part of a maintenance protocol.  However, they fall short of a full, true detox protocol.  Why?  While they help your body to release toxins from tissues, they generally do not contain any binding agents to properly flush them from your body.  These toxins end up circulating the body and getting reabsorbed.  This often exacerbate the situation, sometimes making the symptoms much worse.  Examples of some binding agents are charcoal and various types of clay. 


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If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to move the needle in the right direction or you feel worse after a juice cleanse or detox diet, there are a handful of comprehensive detox systems in the market today that might be more effective.  They usually need to be supervised by an experienced physician (usually a functional medicine, naturopathic or alternative medicine practitioner).  If you want more info on this, send us an email.  

Some signs you may need a deeper detox include: brain fog, hormone imbalances, thyroid issues, diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, weight-loss resistance, autism, autoimmune diseases and even cancer. 


On the sunnier side of things, there are ways to minimize exposure to toxins – and they are simple and inexpensive (mostly).  Here are our top 13 detox tips:

1.  CHOOSE YOUR FOOD WISELY.  Whenever possible, choose organically grown and locally grown food, high quality grass-fed meats, and wild, well sourced seafood.  Avoid inflammatory seed and vegetable oils at all costs.  Gut nourishing foods such as cleanly sourced collagen and fermented foods also help fortify good gut bacteria which in turn will down-regulate inflammation and help heal the gut which will help protect you from toxic elements. 

2.  DON’T CHOOSE FOOD AT ALL.  I am talking about water fasts, and not necessarily prolonged ones.  Periods of not eating allow for the body’s own cell-cleaning mechanism, known as autophagy, to take place.  Studies have shown that the magic number of hours to fast seems to be 16 hours.  In other words, eat your last bite of the night at 8pm and don’t ingest any calories until 12pm the next day.  Another option would be to eat 2-3 meals, breakfast, lunch and even dinner if you choose and simply make sure to finish your last bite 16 hours before the next meal.  For example, be done by 4pm and eat breakfast at 8am.  Water, black coffee and tea are fine while fasting.  The key is to avoid any calories, including supplements.  

3.  WATER.  Drink lots of water and always be sure that is filtered from fluoride, a known neuro-toxin, pesticides, chlorine and other harmful, potential endocrine disruptors.  Solid block carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters work well, although they can be costly.  Alternatively, and even better if you have access, opt for a clean source of natural spring water.  Here is a link to find one near you.  Avoid water bottled in plastic!

4.  AIR.  Invest in a high quality air filter with the ability to remove chemicals and allergens.  We use a Molekule filter and love it.  It destroys air pollutants such as VOCs, allergens, mold spores, bacteria and viruses and looks pretty snazzy to boot.

5.  AVOID PLASTICS.  Bring your own glass or stainless steel containers to restaurants if you normally bring home leftovers.  Replace any straws with glass or stainless steel ones.  Stay away from plastic bottles and storage containers.  In a pinch, plastics #2, 4 and 5 are the best options.

6.  MOVE MOVE MOVE.  Movement helps keep moving toxins out of the body.  HIIT training, bouncing on a mini-trampoline (or rebounding) are ideal.  As a bonus, quick and intense movement first thing in the morning for about 3-5 minutes helps move the toxins that have built up in your body while lying still and will reset your circadian clock…which leads to the next tip!

7.  SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP.  This could be one of the most important tips of the bunch!  This is the body’s processing and detoxing time in the spotlight.  The brain uses this opportunity to clean house, create memories, and un-gunk the mind of any plaque build-up.  In addition, it improves mood, immune function and mental and physical performance.

8.  DRY SAUNA and PHOTOBIOMODULATION (infrared light) THERAPY.  These are the priciest suggestions of the bunch, but well worth looking into.  Just a few times a week in a sauna for a mere 11 minutes will have a tremendous impact on the mobilization of toxins through the skin.  While not usually thought of as such, the skin has a high fat content, and as mentioned above, fat is a prime hiding location for toxins.  Photobiomodulation is a therapy involving specific wavelengths of light applied to areas of the body to improve functioning of that particular tissue.  This type of therapy has a profound effect on energy metabolism.  We use the Joovv.

9.  STRESS-LESS.  Meditate, get outside and balance your circadian rhythm, laugh, and hug someone.  Hemp oil, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms are examples of things that can be helpful.  (We've written much more about hemp oil in the past, so we won't go into it here).   Stress inhibits our ability to detox.  When we are in fight-or-flight mode, our energies go towards surviving.  As an example, you wouldn’t worry about cleaning the house if it were on fire. 

10.  COVER your skin as much as possible when on an airplane to avoid contact with the flame retardant-ridden seat.

11.  DRESS CLEANLY.  Be aware of clothing sprayed with flame retardant and/or other toxic chemicals.  Children's pajamas are notorious for this.  While we do not want our children catching on fire in their beds, what are the chances?  The risk of exposure to noxious chemicals is much worse in our opinion.

12.  UNCOVER your skin.  Allow your skin to receive regular doses of sun before applying a non-chemical laden sunscreen.  The benefits of sunlight reach far beyond vitamin D…benefits a supplement cannot possibly capture! 

13.  POOP.  Our bodies are designed to get rid of wastes and pooping at least once a day is critical for eliminating toxins.  If you have trouble, take a look at your fiber intake and make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.  Stress can also get in the way.  If you are looking for a supplement, magnesium helps with both stress and to loosen the bowels!

Bonus Tip:  Learn some breathing exercises to help with detoxification.  The Wim Hof Method is one of our favorites. 

Incorporate these strategies in your daily life, keep your body as free of toxins as possible and live an overall much happier and healthier life! 

(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

Why Does Movement Matter?
Photo by Gjon Mili

Photo by Gjon Mili

What the heck is "movement" anyway?  

You may be thinking to yourself, "I've got this in the bag!  I move all the time.  I walk to my car, I park at the back of the lot so I get some extra walking in, I go to the gym 7 days a week.  How much more do I need?  The answer to this question may not be what you want to hear.  You actually need a lot than you think!  We also need to take a good, hard look at HOW we move.  

The modern understanding of exercise is the idea of taking an hour out of the day to go to an exercise appropriate environment (be it a gym or the great outdoors for a bike ride or run), doing the deed and returning to "normal" life of sitting behind a desk and working our butts off (but not really) behind a computer.  While I have nothing at all against this (hey, am I not a group fitness instructor and personal trainer??) what we do with the rest of our days matter greatly.  Not only this, but how we move is also enormously important.

Looking back to the wisdom of our ancestors, we see they moved constantly.  This movement was often in the form of walking several miles a day, climbing, wrestling/fighting, throwing, jumping, bending, lifting, pushing and pulling for hours and hours on end.  They often encountered situations requiring high intensity exercise, like sprinting away from a predator or chasing that night's potential meal, but movement at this intensity was usually short-lived.  It was rare, however, that they had the opportunity to sit, let alone sit in the same position, for extended periods of time.  They didn't have the cushy couches and fluffy pillows we have now that beckon us to lounge for hours on end.  Nor did they have the time.


You may be asking yourself, why should we look to them for advice?   Our DNA, governing our bodies and brains operating systems, have changed very little if at all since the time when human beings were hunter-gatherers, and from an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are programmed to move frequently, fully and in a variety of ways.  This potpourri of movement signals our DNA to build a robust, lean, strong, energized, fully functional body equipped with a mentally sharp mind.  In addition, our ancestors definitely did not have the amount of chronic disease we have now.  Acute sickness, yes, and fortunately modern medicine has taken care of a lot of this, but we've mastered the chronic sickness space in a bad way, and the situation is only getting worse.

Let me offer you another way to look at it is this.  Our bodies adapt and become fully capable and skilled at what we do most of the time.  What did our ancestors do?  From the moment they arose in the morning until it was time to settle down in the evening, they were on the move ensuring the tribe/family had enough food to avoid starvation.  The intrinsic motivation to move was directly related to survival.  They in fact, needed to be as conservative as possible with their energy, so as not to burn up more than they brought home in the form of food.  This is called Optimal Foraging Strategy (OFS) and all living beings to adhere to this in order to survive.


We now pay expensive gym memberships for this, pay for trainers to show us what to do, how to do it and for how long and set aside a “special” hour or so a day to get in our “workout”.   We have no need to conserve our energy as walking to the fridge, or picking up the phone for take-out require little more than a few steps and perhaps a bonus tug of the refrigerator door.  Is the picture becoming clearer?  You can now begin to see why we have become so riddled with health issues - cardiovascular disease, “diabesity” osteopathic issues, just to name a few.  It has now become easy to take in much more energy (food) than we put out or use (movement).

 

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I can just hear you all now, “I work out 7 days a week!  I do HIIT training, strength training (which in all honesty most of us do NOT do enough of), cycling classes, etc.  How much more can I do?”

I’ll answer that question with a few others.   What kind of body do you want? How healthy, lean and capable do you want to be?  If you’re shooting for just above average, don’t mind extra body fat, joint stiffness and pain, read no further than the end of this paragraph.  This, friends, will eventually lead to less energy, more resistance to moving and more body fat, which will lead to more stiffness and pain. Get the idea?  You will be spiraling down in the direction of modern day diseases of convenience or diseases of captivity.

 

YES, CAPTIVITY!

YES, CAPTIVITY!

When compared to the way our ancestors lived and the way our bodies and brains are designed be challenged, we live in an environment that dulls the senses, weakens the body and disrupts our potential health.  Consider the temperature controlled perpetual “spring/summer” like environment we live in, and the stairs that do the climbing for us (escalators). Hunting and foraging has also had a complete makeover. For most of us, it now consists of few steps to the fridge. Conveniences abound: running water, plumbing, cars, paved roads, flat surfaces to walk on, no rough terrain to challenge agility or balance and so much more.  These are convenient from the perspective of conserving energy and lowering the potential discomforts of life, however NOT convenient for those of us striving to remain healthy, lean, strong, mentally sharp and emotionally well balanced.


Our bodies require a certain amount of environmental stress, or load (pressure).  Some examples? Cold, heat, physical challenges that elevate heart and breath rate, strenuous lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, etc.  When combined with stretches of down time where we can be in a calm and physically relaxed state to rebuild and fully recover, our bodies adapt by becoming stronger and more efficient at dealing with these stressors.  Getting to the gym, even 7 days a week, is not enough because for the majority of the population, the rest of the day is spent sitting behind a desk. The world of health science now recognizes another category of people aside from the well known 1. active and 2. sedentary and it includes MOST of us. This group is categorized as the active sedentary.  We “workout” up to 7 days a week, but then spend 5-10 hrs a day sitting or standing in one place.

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Enough about the problem.  How are we going to remedy this?  

Movement, of course!  Movement is a huge category, with exercise and even sports being only a small part of it.  Our bodies are capable of millions of movement options and thrive from a vast array of frequent and full ones.  This approach to movement can be integrated into our day at anytime anywhere.  You do not NEED to go to a gym and exercise to experience robust health, a lean strong functional body, and a robust immune system. You DO however need to begin thinking of movement differently and becoming more proactive about it.   Just as we should be eating a variety of foods of different colors with each meal, our movements should be equally colorful and varied.


Here is an example from my own life:  I am fortunate enough to have a job that has me on the move most of the day.  Yet, in the past when I had been at home in front of my computer or reading, listening to podcasts, etc., I would sit at my “desk” (dining room table).  Inevitably, I felt stiffness and pain in my joints, along with the ensuing lack of desire to move brought on in this scenario. Fast forward to what I do now. I have stand for my laptop that functions as a standing desk or a floor desk.  I spend a good amount of time in a squat, cross legged, in a split etc. while working. When standing, I am shifting in and out of multiple positions as well.  Position changing is key!  I also hang a pull-up bar in my bathroom doorway (ten steps from where I am working), keep a kettlebell close by (20 steps away) and keep a 20 minute timer running.  Every 20 minutes, I take a 60 second movement break.  This can look like a 30 second hang from the pull-up bar, 30 hanging leg raises and 20 bodyweight squats.  The beauty of the movement break is not only physical.  It also helps to maintain focus, and fosters creativity and productivity.

Keep an assortment of moves in your back pocket for your breaks.  Although repeating the same thing beats sitting or standing in one position, changing things up is by far a more better solution (and much less boring).  There are many movement experts sharing their movement creativity and expertise out there. Find someone or a few sources you can trust, and get to work! (One of those people I’d recommend is the one writing this blog post)!  

Contact me if you’d like a consultation.  I do this privately for individuals as well as on a corporate level.

 

(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a small profit if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  We have tried each of these products, honestly believe in them and would otherwise never recommend them).

Do your thoughts matter?
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"What you think, you become.
What you feel, you attract.
What you imagine, you create.”

― Gautama Buddha

Our view of the world is determined for the most part, by our perception of it and our world attitude (how we relate to experiences and outlook on life) in turn, largely impacts health, both psychological AND physical.  In terms of turning health around and truly "deep health" evolving into the best version of ourselves; that thriving, growing, learning, full of vitality and overall happy human of our dreams; a host of different aspects must come together synergistically.  We've touched on many of these aspects in the past - movement, nutrition, and sleep.  What about the mind?  Without a supporting mindset, it's not likely any of the efforts put towards moving, eating and sleeping will make a marked difference for long.  

So what the heck are we thinking these days?  Turns out, way too many stress inducing thoughts.  Fueled by television and social media and the impending FOMO (fear of missing out) we've come to live in a time of less than optimal thinking patterns.  The representations of life in media are often far beyond any grasp of reality, and while we may intellectually realize this, the resulting feelings are of disappointment and disconnection.   Coupled with overwhelming stress, relentlessly busy schedules, and a lack of mindfulness, it is important to not only become aware of negative, energy zapping thought patterns, but also to have the tools to turn them around.  


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What are some negative, energy zapping mindsets to be aware of:

1. Perfection or failure, nothing in between.  For example:  You didn't get the job you were hoping for, therefore you will become homeless and starve to death.

2. Personally attaching to outcomes.  For example:  You didn't get the job you were hoping for, therefore you are worthless.  Part of this is also comparing your constructed reality to the truth.  Example:  I should have done [insert action], then I would have gotten the job.  "Should" can be a very dangerous word!

3. Ruminating on negativity which leads to feeling helpless, powerless and stuck.  This often leads to depression, lack of confidence and trust that things will work themselves out.

4. Trying to think of very possible scenario to avoid failure and again, becoming stuck.  


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A healthy mindset is a muscle that requires training, just like your glutes and biceps.  Here are some ways to cultivate one.  

1. When you notice yourself creeping down that negative rabbit hole, ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen"?  Usually the worst that can happen is not so bad.

2. Focus on the "details in the fabric".  If we pay attention to the subtle details in life, we'll see that they are perfectly coordinated.  Take a glass of wine (or a cup of coffee), for example.  The subtle nuances are what transform a decent glass of wine into something superb.  Recognizing the wildflowers popping up between the slats of concrete, the sunlight peeking through the clouds just so,or the touch of a loved one help minimize the impact of the seemingly unfortunate life experience.

3. Let go of assuming we know the future.  We often judge our experiences from the "fortune teller" point of view.  The truth is we have no clue of what the future holds or why things happen the way they do in the long run.  Fortunately is a kids book that really nails the message.  With a broader lens, we see that things work themselves out just the way they are meant to.


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Here are some healthy mindset exercises:

1. Mindfulness Meditation:  There are several good apps out there to help get you started.  (Contact us if you'd like some recommendations).  You can also start out pretty easily unassisted.  Take 5 minutes out of your day at anytime that works best for you. Sit upright and comfortably in a chair, cushion or floor, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath going in and out of your body.  Some people find it easier to say to themselves "inhale" and "exhale" as they do so.  As this becomes routine in your life, this sense of mindfulness will carry over to the rest of your life and in all you do.  

2. Gratitude Practice:  Studies show that maintaining a gratitude practice, has shown to lower levels of anxiety and depression, and increase optimism and overall sense of wellbeing.  All it takes is 2 minutes in the morning to quickly jot down 3 things you are grateful for.  Keep a journal by your bedside dedicated to this to help make this into a habit.  

3. Breathing Techniques:  Like meditation, certain breathing techniques can help create space between you and the negative situation you may be experiencing and help activate the healing/calming effect of the parasympathetic nervous system.  One of our favorites is 4-7-8 breathing.  Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8.

4. Determine Your Triggers (and create a pre-game plan):  Think about circumstances, environments, people, and even foods that have triggered negative thinking in the past.  Short of avoiding them (which is easiest to do with food), make a plan for when you DO have to be in those "toxic" situations.  Your pre-game could look like this:  Schedule in an extra meditation session to help broaden your outlook.  Then, determine your default negative thought patterns and write them down on a piece of paper.  Next to those, write down how you'd like to respond to them.  Keep that piece of paper with you in case you need a reminder of that plan while in the midst of the trigger situation.

5. Take a break:  A change in scenery can do wonders.  Take a walk (preferably in nature) or a movement break, engage in a mindless activity or take a nap.

6. Limit your time on devices in general and especially social media.


June is gratitude month for our family.  We are expressing gratitude outwardly to one person every day of the month in person, via email, text, old fashioned letter, gift, etc.  No rules, except that it is to be done daily and should be specific (rather then "thanks for being you").  Want to join us?  


(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of one or more items listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  We have tried each of these products, honestly believe in them and would otherwise never recommend them).

Sneak Peek into the Week #3

Hi All,

Here is our list of interests/learnings/ponderings for the week.  Enjoy, and as always, we love your feed back so let us know if you enjoyed this post.

 

 
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OUR OBSESSION:

Sleep - getting enough as well as good quality.  The more we learn, the more interested we become.  Why such a fascination?  Well...a short blurb directly out of the book Gregg has been reading, Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, sums it up pretty well. 

"Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.  It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.  It makes you look more attractive.  It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.  It protects you from cancer and dementia.  It wards off colds and the flu.  It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.  You'll feel happier, less depressed and less anxious.  Are you interested?"

He is referring to sleep, of course.

Six simple ways to help you get more and better sleep are:

  1. Keep your room on the cooler side.  
  2. Turn off all screens, ideally 2 hours before bedtime.  If you must use a screen, invest in blue blocking glasses.
  3. Create a sleep cave out of your room.  Cover up any and every light in your room, including small rays of light coming in from the streets, lights from alarm clocks, smoke alarms, etc.  (These tiny pre-cut light blocking stickers are really helpful).
  4. Avoid alcohol before bed.  It takes your body hours to process alcohol and get it out of your system and it WILL disrupt your sleep, so save drinking for special occasions.
  5. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it every day including weekends.
  6. Get outside in natural sunlight at least 30 minutes a day to help regulate daily sleep patterns.  If you can, make it first thing in the morning. 

FOOD EXPLORATION CONTINUED:

 
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Our Okinawan exploration continues.  (The soba noodle soup was AMAZING, by the way.  Sorry, it was gobbled up before I could snap any pictures.  Email us if you'd like the recipe we used (I made noodles from scratch but some good alternatives are available at Thrive Market or even Amazon).  

Next, we tried a little something to satisfy the sweet tooth, Imo Custard.  Though not very sweet at all, by "normal" standards, we really enjoyed this recipe.  We tried it as written below, and also substituting the sweetener completely with a bit of cinnamon, which changed the flavor profile, but was equally enjoyable...even by 9 year old taste buds.  

Imo Custard (Okinawan sweet potato dessert)

  • 4-6 Okinawan Sweet Potatoes or Purple Yams, peeled boiled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar (we used maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • Milk (cow, coconut or nut milk) as needed

Blend all ingredients until creamy, adding milk to get to desired consistency.

Another helpful takeaway from the Okinawan culture is the concept of Hara hachi bun me (腹八分目/はらはちぶんめ), (or hara hachi bu).  As Okinawa has the highest proportion of centenarians in the world, its worth paying some attention to.  What exactly is hara hachi bu?  It is a Confucian teaching that translates to "belly 80 percent full".  Of course this is relative and difficult to quantify, but is simply a wonderful reminder to eat slowly and reap the benefits of chewing your food well, being present and expressing gratitude during mealtime.


MOVEMENT OF THE WEEK:

Dead Hang Plus.  Add on to the dead hang from last week and try lifting your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades down and back while hanging.  Hold strongly for a few seconds before releasing and repeating.  Note that the movement should come from the shoulder girdle, not your arms.  Keep your elbows straight. 


FINAL WORDS:

Inspired by Gabby Reece, my super-hero role model, we, as a family, have declared February a No-Complaining Month.  According to research, less complaining = better mood + increased happiness and mindfulness.  It's only day 5, but the effects are REAL.  It's a great exercise in taking a pause before speaking, and also rethinking and perhaps editing the way we express ourselves.  We are each holding each other as accountability partners, just in case we begin to slide down the complaining rabbit hole.  Join us.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Have a great week!

 

 

Sneak Peek into the Week #2
 
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Hello Evolutionaries!  We hope the weekend has been relaxing and fulfilling.  Here's what we're upto this week.

WHAT WE ARE READING:

  • Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio.  We are fortunate enough to have a 9 year old daughter who reads like its going out of style.  This is her recommendation.  I haven't gotten to it yet, but if the first book, Wonder (now also a major motion picture), is any indication, it will be well worth the investment in time.  Heartfelt and well written book about empathy, kindness and being human.  
  • Farmocology: Total Health from the Ground Up by Daphne Miller (who wrote the book we were reading last week, Jungle Effect).  An interesting investigation into biodynamic farming and its relationship to health and medicine.  Definitely a fresh perspective.
  • Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
  • Did anyone read this article in the NY Times this week?  It's an interesting look into friendship and its relationship to health and also offers up some tips on how to nurture our connections.

MOVEMENTS OF THE WEEK:

  • Dead Hang.  Why?  Several reasons.  Spinal decompression, decreasing the risk for back injury, posture correction, grip, rotator cuff, shoulder, forearm and wrist strength, core stability.  You can do this from any overhanging bar.  We keep a pull up bar in our doorway and hang throughout the day.  Start with 30 seconds at a time and gradually work your way up to 90-120 seconds.   Before attempting this, make sure you've nailed your form.  Here is a good reference.  
  • Post Dinner Dance Party.  Research shows that easy movement immediately after a meal has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels.  This could be a 20 minute walk or for us, a family post-meal dance party.  

FOOD EXPLORATION:

  • Okinawan Cuisine:  Taking a page from The Jungle Effect, we decided to experiment with traditional Okinawan fare this month.  We are starting with Soba Noodle Soup with homemade fermented sprouted einkorn noodles...a mouthful both literally and figuratively, and adventurous undertaking indeed!  We will post the recipe and pictures soon.  Know any recipes we should try next?  PLEASE SHARE!

The first month of 2018 is just about over.  How are you doing with your resolutions?  If you've fallen off the bandwagon or find your enthusiasm quickly waning, you are not alone.  Apparently, 80% of resolutions fail by February.  Habits are extremely difficult to change and our resolutions are often too grand to allow for any changes in neurological wiring and therefore have little staying power.  So, how can we make change happen and stick?  Let's look at a few effective habit changing strategies.

1. Think small.  Small changes are surmountable and sustainable.  Small successes are gratifying and can cultivate the path to more change.

2. Set up goals.  For example, if you're looking to incorporate more exercise into your day, instead of resolving to visit the gym 5 days a week, resolve to being able to increase the number of push ups you are able to do per day from say, 20-100 in six months.

3. Establish some type of accountability.  Depending on your tendency and whether you respond to inner or outer accountability, you may need to get a friend, join a club or invest in a program to help stick to your goals.

4. Create a morning routine.  We've talked a bit about the importance of morning routines, and their role in getting things done.  Our will power is strongest in the earlier par to the day and decreases throughout the day.  By harnessing will power in the morning and setting the day up properly, we are more likely to follow through on our commitments.

5. Lastly, consider hiring a coach!

Enjoy the week friends!  Findings from the books we've been reading coming up next.  We'll also be posting some Superbowl pre-game strategies and recipes later this week.  Stay tuned.