How to stick to your dietary plan throughout the summer

As the weather gets warmer, spring and summer parties pop up like flowers in full bloom. Invitations to BBQ’s, picnics, spring galas, block parties, even brunch outdoors seem to spring up.

If you’re like me, you want to go socialize, enjoy the gorgeous weather and see friends! But if you’re like me, you also see the dietary pitfalls at every turn. Food and drink can be extremely social, and the pressures and temptation to eat something that is less healthy can outweigh, momentarily, the long term desire to be healthy. So what’s the solution? Give in to the dessert? Stay home?

BALANCE is the solution. The world will not come to a screeching halt if you eat that brownie at the picnic. Nor will the pounds pile back on if you partake in those delicious BBQ’d ribs that your neighbor made. However, saying yes to every indulgence can lead to those bad habits that you fought so hard to make disappear. Make healthy choices 80% of the time, and the other 20%, just live your life! Here are some ideas  to help you make more positive choices, more often!

  1. Fill up before you go. Before you leave the house, eat a meal that you know is good and good for you! If you show up to a social occasion hungry, you’ll be more inclined to make choices that aren’t as good for you!
  2. Supplement every alcoholic beverage with one large glass of water. Not only will you help your body long term by staying hydrated, you’ll feel more full and be less inclined to consume less healthy food and drink.
  3. Bring a small notebook with you, and write down everything you eat (and drink!). If you don’t feel comfortable taking a notebook out at a party, try taking a quick snapshot of each item and journaling it when you are in private. Studies show that when we track our habits, we subconsciously make better choices (see our blog on food journaling here.
  4. At a buffet line, grab a small plate. At buffet lines, we tend to overfill our plates anyway. Those large plates, when piled high, can be a caloric bomb. Fill your plate, but keep it small! If you’re still hungry, go back for seconds.

Match your healthy eating with more fitness snuck into your day! Short on time? Follow our  7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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How Important IS Stretching, Anyway?

How important is stretching? According to a recent  Harvard Health study, stretching is essential, especially as you age.

Although it’s common to lose flexibility as you age, stiff and inflexible muscles can lead to shorter muscles in general. When you cause a shortened muscle to become active, you can increase your risk for injury, as well as joint and muscle pain. In order to keep muscles flexible and long, Harvard Health Publications recommends that  you stretch them at least three to four times a week (if not daily).

In addition to injury prevention, having more flexible muscles can lead to several other benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, flexible muscles can:

  • Help your joints use their full range of motion
  • Encourage stronger athletic performance
  • Reduce back and joint pain
  • Improve your balance

However, not ALL stretching is beneficial. Harvard Health Publications recommends stretching only when your muscles are WARM.  So don’t start your warm up with static stretches (i.e. holding a particular stretch for a long time). If you would like to incorporate stretching into your warm up, try doing dynamic stretches instead. Dynamic stretches incorporate movement. For example,  rotate your arms in circles or pull your knees into your chest while you walk.

After your muscles are warm, you can stretch, holding each static stretch for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. Trust your body here – you should be able to breathe fluidly while you stretch. If your breath catches, that’s your body telling you to ease up. As a rule – discomfort is ok, pain is not. Lean into discomfort, back away from pain.

Finally, like any change you make to your lifestyle and fitness routine, please check in with a doctor or physical therapist first, and expect change to be gradual.

Looking for some simple, fast, sustainable workouts to add to your new daily practice of stretching? Check out our  7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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The Power of Breath

Breathing is an involuntary, autonomic bodily function. The diaphragm lowers and the lungs expand, drawing air in. The diaphragm raises and the lungs return to their starting position, expelling old air.

Although breath is automatic, it can be consciously manipulated to create astounding effects. Some people, like singers, athletes and wind instrumentalists, may already be aware that they can control the breath to achieve their desired effect – be it a longer sustained note, a gorgeous coloratura passage or the final follow through on a weighted back squat. Others use their breath to change not just the physical, but the psychological, and that is what we are going to get into today.

Let’s first talk about BAD breathing habits. As stress and tension creep into our bodies, we can develop breathing habits that aren’t the most conducive to our sustained well being. Do you recognize any of these?

  • Holding your breath – common sign of stress, tension, or anxiety.
  • “Breathing” by raising and lowering the shoulders, not expanding through the midsection – a learned habit that doesn’t actually make breathing any easier or more effective.
  • Slouching/hunching over a workspace – this can take away from the full expansion of the breath.

These are all learned habits that we develop as adults. If you or someone you know has an infant or baby, watch the baby breathe for a while. You’ll notice a full, belly-breath (no shoulder tension whatsoever) and no slouching. The goal is to get back to that quality of breath.

Secondly, let’s talk about the restorative power of breath. This is the conscious manipulation part. According to this study out of the University of New Mexico, conscious deep breathing has been known to reduce stress, stabilize blood pressure and heart beat, and improve immune function. Deep breathing can also ground you, making you feel more present and in the moment. Eliminating distracting thoughts and negative feelings can help you be more productive throughout your entire day.

If you are still unsure about the power of deep breathing, try it! Take 5 minutes for yourself each morning to simply sit and breathe. Be sure to consciously fill your lungs, expand through the belly and back, and to slowly expel the air (and along with it, negative thoughts and feelings). As an alternative, you can take a yoga class that focuses on Pranayama Breath, and/or ujjayi pranayama (which you’ll find typically in a vinyasa class).

What are you waiting for? Start creating your #sustainablehealth today, with the power of your own breath!

Once you’ve started your practice of deep breathing, incorporate strong breath work into your daily workout. Don’t workout daily because you’re pressed for time? Try our 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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Discipline vs Being Too Hard On Yourself: Where to Draw the Line

From an early age, we’re taught that discipline is a worthwhile skill. Those who are more disciplined study harder, perform better on tests, advance further in sports, music and all extracurriculars, strive for higher education, get better jobs, and the list goes on and on. Discipline is healthy. It inspires practice, analysis, self awareness and self respect.

However, it becomes easy, especially as an adult, to blur the line between discipline and obsession. As we grow more aware of ourselves, we grow more aware of the people and the world around us. Self awareness turns into comparison. Practice turns into obsession, and burning out. Self respect turns into being too hard on ourselves. Ultimately, when you’re too hard on yourself, it can lead to low self esteem and even long term psychological effects.

This is not to say you should abandon your sense of discipline entirely. Your discipline is what got you to where you are in the first place. But when it comes to crafting your ideal nutrition, fitness routine and lifestyle, you need balance in order to sustain things long term. Too much or too little discipline can tip the scales in an unhealthy way. There is no need to beat yourself up if you weren’t able to get a workout in today – simply plan for it and ensure you make time for it tomorrow. On the other hand, shrugging off your workout plan and diving into those cookies your coworker brought into the office isn’t a great plan, either.

Try thinking of it this way – how would you treat a friend? If a friend had a serious goal, how would you advise them? When would you tell them to ease up on themselves, or to start treating their goal more seriously?

We are often much harder on ourselves then we are on our friends. If we spoke to our friends the way we do to ourselves (“You look horrible today.” “None of your clothes fit you well right now.” “You’re eating terribly.” “What is wrong with you?”), we would run out of friends quickly! Treat yourself with the same compassion with which  you would treat a friend. You’ll find that you still strive to reach your goals, but don’t sweat it as much when you slip or hit a stumbling block.

Discipline is admirable when combined with balance and realistic expectations. It’s often hard to fit in a “real” workout with 30+ cardio, stretching, and strength conditioning, on top of all of your daily commitments. Sneak in the workout you can with our  7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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Wheat: An Overview (Then, Now, and What It Means)

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I’ve been reading the book Wheat Belly and have been thinking about how the agricultural evolutions during the last decade have contributed to the state of health/weight in America. AND how I could break it down to share with our readers.

Then, this morning, I received an email from Hungry for Change with a link to this page describing almost exactly what i’ve been reading; it felt too serendipitous not to share!

Check it out!

The Morning After: Thanksgiving

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It’s happened to everyone: that guilt that creeps in the morning after we do something “bad.” Let’s face it: this time of year, it’s usually to do with too many cookies, potatoes, pies, or just servings!

The simple fact is, letting yourself get wrapped up in the feelings of regret over falling off the wagon will get you nowhere. Might as well just accept your moment of indulgence and move on. Here are some suggestions about how to make it up to your body after a day of too much food!

Here’s a list of 7 tips from Holli Thompson to get things moving back in the right direction:

Bloated, full around the middle, sluggish, foggy brained, and downright stuffed?

1) Don’t starve yourself. Seriously reducing calories the day after a large feast will slow your metabolism, and that’s the day you need that metabolism to be working at full capacity.

2) Eat healthy whole foods, high quality proteins, and lots of vegetables to keep your system working all day and burning efficiently. (HHF adds FIBER FIBER and more FIBER to this– super important to keeping things working well in your digestive system!)

3) Avoid processed foods, especially those with gluten. Processed foods will add to the bloat today. Avoid bread, pasta, and cracker type foods, and go for salads, vegetables, grass fed meats or legumes and whole grains.

4) Avoid salt and salty foods; that might mean avoiding restaurants because most restaurants over-salt their food. This is a great day for a home cooked veggie stir-fry, or a pureed vegetable soup. (check out the recipes posted in this blog for some)

5) Drink lots of water to help flush the salt out of your system and to keep you satisfied. Many times when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Fill your water bottles this morning, add some lemon and stevia for a light lemonade, and indulge in this all day. Flush, flush, flush.

6) Move your body today, go for a long walk or hike or bike ride.. Get some fresh air, and smile while you do. This will help to increase your metabolism too.

7) Don’t stress it- studies show that stress actually leads to weight gain. It’s a Holiday, and it’s all ok.

Besides, remember this post about the 80/20 rule? Treat this as the 20% and move on with your healthy, beautiful, radiant life.

Baby’s First Juicer: What To Think About When Buying a Juicer

Congratulations on taking a giant leap for your health!!! The decision to start juicing is one that I can’t recommend highly enough– for a little bit about why juicing is so great, check out this! And this!

Amazon sent me an email earlier this week with the top rated juicers (I had been researching for a friend who is just beginning to juice, and Amazon remembered and is a marketing genius and sent me the list…). According to Amazon consumers, these top five juicers take the cake:

Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer, Black and Chrome 

Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor 

Omega J8004 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer, White

Breville  JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juicing Machine 

Omega J8003 Nutrition Center Single-Gear Commercial Masticating Juicer, White 

But which one is right for you?

First things first: once you’ve read this, you should continue to read around to pick to perfect one for you! I’ll provide you with some links to other sources, but find some of your own! Read customer reviews on multiple sites, talk to people at juice bars and health food stores. These recommendations are based on the research I’ve done, but may not be right for you.

Here are some things to think about:

— What type of juicer is it?
—– Masticating juicers grind you food up at a slower speed. They break up the cells so you get more complete nutrition. Literally, it chews (hence, masticating!) up your fruits and veggies and then squeezes the juice out. Because they operate at a slower speed, the juice doesn’t heat up as much as with other types of juicers. This is important! Heating up the juice kills some nutrients and the enzymes that your body needs to process and absorb the nutrients! Also, because they don’t get heated up, they don’t oxidize (like when a cut up apple turns brown) as quickly. This is GOOD– especially if you’re a busy bee and will want to juice the night before or something.
—– Centrifugal juicers work at a much higher speed. As you feed the veggie in, it meets with a spinning plate (think flat cheese grater) with fine metal mesh walls. The juice spins around through the mesh walls, and the pulp shoots out the back of the juicer into a special pulpy place.  Because of the high speed and friction, the juice heats up and will oxidize more quickly. I personally avoid this by drinking the juice right away…

— How much do you plan to juice?
—– Though it would be great if you could juice every day, that’s  not realistic for everyone. If you’re planning to make a big lifestyle change and become a serious juicer, you would be wise to invest in a more expensive, higher quality machine. If not, there are less expensive machines out there that get the job done!

–How much can you afford to spend?
—– This sort of goes with the one above.  I bought my first juicer from a target-like store for around $70 bucks. It’s not the best machine, but I was a college student and it was better than nothing. However, I am saving up to buy my first big girl juicer. Hopefully SOON!

— What do you plan to juice?
—– Of course, I recommend juicing lots and LOTS of veggies with a little fruit mixed in for taste. But the veggies are where it’s at, so to speak.  For veggies, one of the juicers above would probably be best; however, there are also juicers specific to other purposes, such as citrus or wheatgrass.

Always– any juicing is better than no juicing, but if you’re gonna do it, why not do it right!?!? Right now I have a cheap centrifugal juicer, but I can’t wait until I can buy a new one– one of the omega masticating juicers, for sure. Talking with one of my juiciest juicer friends and inspirations, she told me that she has an Omega masticating juicer– the vertical one. She told me that she used to have a nice Breville juicer that served it’s purpose, but that once she got the Omega, she realized what she’d been missing: the richness of flavor was so much greater with the Omega, and she could taste the different layered favors of the veggies; whereas the Breville just kind of blended them all together and seemed less robust.

She also mentioned the same thing that I did when it comes to cost– if you’re serious about making a major life and health change, it is worth the investment of a quality machine.  Here are a couple of websites that give a good comparison of the machines and will help you make the decision:
http://www.discountjuicers.com/compare2.html
http://www.harvestessentials.com/sigemju.html

Good luck! Feel free to be in touch with any questions! And while you’re emailing us anyway, why not try to snag one of Monica’s free strategy sessions this month? Email support@hhfusion.com

Happy juicing!!!!!

Most Adults Will Be Obese by 2030

A study by Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania predicts that most adults in the U.S. will be overweight or obese by 2030, raising related health care spending to as much as $956.9 billion. This study was published in 2008, projecting 86% of adults to be obese by 2030. As of 2010, 44.2% of males in the U.S. were obese and 48.3 of females in the U.S. were obese according to the World Health Organization (WHO). We will surpass the projection of the study if the number of obese adults continues to grow as rapidly as it has in recent years.

How do you know if you are obese?

  • a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
  • a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity.

(Calculate your BMI here)

Facts About Obesity*:

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
  • In 2008, 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.
  • 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
  • Nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.
  • At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
  •  44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischaemic heart disease burden, and 7%-41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.
  • Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths.
  • Obesity is preventable.

* found at http://www.who.org

One of the best places to get facts on worldwide obesity is from the World Health Organization. I love their interactive map, however unnerving it might be. Here are some facts I pulled from the WHO Map: In 2010, males in the U.S. were 80.5% overweight, and 44.2% obese (followed by Brazil at 37.4%, everywhere else in the world was below 35%); Females in the U.S. in 2010 were 76.7% overweight, and 48.3% obese. These numbers are expected to continue to increase.

What do I do first if I am overweight or obese?

Your first step is to acknowledge that you are overweight/obese, and to be proud that you are accepting responsibility and making the choice to do something about it! Beyond that, follow this blog (enter your email on the right under “Keep Up with Us Via Email”). Over the next few weeks we will be focusing on simple, attainable steps to dropping your weight and improving your overall health!

If you would like a Free Health Consultation to see if our coaching services meet your needs, please fill out the form below and we will contact you asap.