Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for September, 2012

6 Diet Strategies For a Sounder Snooze

6 Diet Strategies For a Sounder Snooze

 

A good night’s sleep is not just an extravagance—it’s essential for  maintaining short and long-term health.

If worry and stress are keeping you up at night, you’ve probably searched  high and low for information on relaxation and meditation techniques to help you  salvage some valuable snooze time.

But counting sheep isn’t the only way to get yourself to sleep—what you eat  right before you go to bed can also play a role. While no particular foods are  known to induce sleep; knowing what, when, and how much to eat and drink can up  your chances for a sound snooze.

Here are six things to keep in mind when preparing midnight  munchies:

1. Keep your pre-bedtime beverages virgin and decaf: If you  want a solid stint of shut-eye, stay away from alcohol and caffeine in the hours preceding your bedtime.  It’s true that alcohol, which is a depressant, can help you fall asleep, but it  won’t help you stay that way.Multiple studies have shown that  alcohol can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep cycles—first by reducing the amount  of time they spend in the REM (rapid-eye movement) stage, and then by causing  them to awaken multiple times throughout the night. On the opposite end of the  spectrum lies caffeine—the everywoman’s go-to stimulant. According to the  American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it can take anywhere from 8 to 14 hours for  the effects of caffeine to fully wear off, depending on how acclimated you are  to it. That’s why it’s a good idea to lay off of common sources of caffeine,  including: coffee, tea and chocolate, at least a few hours before you want to go  to bed.

2. Use your diet to master melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone  produced by the brain that plays a big role in regulating sleep cycles. Light is  the ultimate arbiter of melatonin production. When daylight fades, your body  begins to churn out more of the sleep-inducing chemical. It is also available in  supplement form and is a popular alternative to prescription sleep aids. As a  person ages, they generally become less capable of producing melatonin. Cherries  are one of the few foods that can lay claim to being a natural source of  melatonin and studies done by scientists from the University of Rochester and  the University of Pennsylvania have indicated that consuming tart cherry juice  can facilitate sleep in certain people. But chugging cherry juice isn’t the only  way to naturally up your melatonin production. Certain snacks, including:  bananas, some fish (salmon, tuna and cod), pistachios, peanut butter, chickpeas  and fortified cereals contain significant amounts of the vitamin B6—a key  component for making melatonin.

3. Smaller is better: The Mayo Clinic advises hungry  insomniacs to keep their midnight meals miniscule and low-fat. A big meal can  make you feel bloated and may cause painful heartburn. A small bowl of cereal  with milk, or a banana with a bit of peanut butter will generally be enough to  fight off hunger pangs so you can get some shut-eye.

4. Insufficient nutrients can equal insufficient sleep: A  rumbling tummy and certain vitamin deficiencies can contribute to insomnia.  Research has shown that maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in particular  is essential for sound slumber. Aim for a nighttime snack that includes:  fortified cereals and dairy products, and eggs.

5. Carbo-loading isn’t just for marathoners: Bread lovers  rejoice—carbs are a key component of sleep-inducing snacks. Consuming  carbohydrates makes it easier for your brain to pick up and convert tryptophan (an  essential amino acid found in a variety of different foods, including: eggs,  cheese, oatmeal, potatoes, bananas and poultry) into serotonin and melatonin,  two hormones that make you more relaxed and drowsy.  When creating your  bedtime snack, it’s probably best to stick with complex carbs, such as: fruits,  oats, whole grain cereals and breads, and veggies.

6. Liquidate your pre-bedtime fluids: In order to prevent  unwanted trips to the bathroom at one o’ clock in the morning, the Mayo Clinic  recommends avoiding drinking too much in the hour or so right before you go to  bed.

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

AgingCare.com provides online  caregiver support by connecting people caring for elderly parents to other  caregivers, elder care experts, personalized information, and local resources.  AgingCare.com has become the trusted resource for exchanging ideas, sharing  conversations and finding credible information for those seeking elder care  solutions.

 

4 Things That Help Stress (& 5 That Make It Worse)

4 Things That Help Stress (& 5 That Make It Worse)

 

Someone once told me that you get stressed not from  what you’re doing, but  from what you don’t get done. I’m not going to  tell you to just relax and take  time off, because you probably won’t do  that. I will, however, help you  understand why it’s important for you to  potentially make some changes that can  help you learn to deal with and  prevent stress.

For starters, being busy and being stressed are  not the same thing. Stress  is one of the greatest triggers of disease  and imbalanced living in our time  today. It’s something you have to face  and deal with, or it will deal with you.  The best solution is to learn  how to implement daily stress prevention and  nourishing self-care  habits.

The Stress Factor

Stress may start in your head, but your body will show you the signs  of  living with chronic stress. Do you ignore your body when it’s crying  out for  attention, downtime, and care?

There are different levels of stress and often,  we don’t recognize the first  signs of it. Our bodies are designed to  withstand it; it’s one of our most  refined survival tools. The problem  is, we were only designed to be stressed  for short periods of time, not  the way we live today, where stress has become  our lifestyle.

When the body goes into stress mode, our entire  nervous system is affected,  which includes our hormones. This means  when your body experiences stress, it  will stop doing what it normally  does to keep a smooth machine (you) running.  Instead it will put your  system on standby and focus on dealing with the  danger. That means your  adrenals, cortisol, and other hormones start racing.  These all affect  your heart, circulation, metabolism, lungs, and immune system.  Blood  sugar rises to increase fuel for energy and your blood’s clotting   ability increases to be ready for the potential danger of injury. Your  blood  pressure rises to push more blood to your muscles so you can run  faster, and to  the brain so you can think faster (which doesn’t  necessarily mean better).

In the 1930s, a researcher outlined the GAS effect (General Adaption  Syndrome), which is related to stress:

Stage 1: Adrenal Stress This is where you start feeling  the energy slumps, irritability, or  feeling wired. You may also experience  trouble sleeping and have some  digestive discomfort.

Stage 2: Adaption When you learn to adapt, your symptoms  actually lessen. It’s another survival tool.

Stage 3: Adrenal Exhaustion Most people first realize  they are suffering from stress at this  point. Your body no longer has the juice  to keep going, so there’s no  more fuel from which to take. You’re constantly  tired and get colds and  other viruses continuously.

Stage 4: Physical Burnout In this phase, your immune  system breaks down and you start  suffering from chronic conditions, such as  sudden onset of allergies,  depression, hypoglycemia, acid reflux, colitis,  chronic fatigue,  autoimmune diseases and severe disorders such as metabolic  syndrome,  diabetes, MS, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. Even cancer is   connected to stress and severe emotional trauma, the greatest stressor  of them  all.

Common Signs of Stress:

  • You can’t sleep
  • You have digestive problems, stomach aches, excessive acid, and reflux
  • You have constant headaches and migraines
  • You have tightness or pain in your lower back
  • You have heart palpitations and high blood pressure
  • You get sick all the time, including colds or the flu
  • You have increased abdominal fat you cannot get rid of
  • You feel anxious all the time even when you have down time
  • You’re exhausted and fatigued
  • You cannot relax without feeling guilty

What Adds to Your  Stress?

Lack of Sleep Your body will see lack of sleep as  potential danger lurking. And being tired makes it harder to cope with  problems.

Caffeine It might make you feel on top  of the world after a cup or two, or  what gets you going in the morning but it’s  also what triggers your  stress hormone to rise and what makes you more  exhausted as the day goes  by. It drains your adrenals even faster than stress  alone would.

Dehydration We are mostly water. When  you’re dehydrated, your body will perceive  it as danger that you’re not getting  your first and most basic need  met.

Not Having Food at Regular Meal Times This is another  very basic need for our bodies, but unfortunately,  also the first thing we omit  when we don’t have time. Lack of food is  very much a red flag for your stress  hormones. In body and hormonal  language, no food is potential death.

Stimulating Foods That afternoon cookie or candy bar may  seem to be the only thing  that will get you through the rest of the day. But it  actually triggers  your blood sugar to spike too fast with the added anxiety and  then fall  down, which will cause you to drag your feet and feel fuzzy.

The Stress  Busters

Apart from healing your relationships, getting rid of your nasty  boss who  does not appreciate your efforts, speaking your truth, doing  one thing at a  time, and realizing that you can indeed only be in one  place at a time, there  are many things you can do to reduce stress in  your daily life.

Eat a Balanced Diet You need all the nutritional support  you can get from whole foods,  which means consuming foods that are vegetable  rich, contain good  essential fatty acids, have lean proteins, and also contain  wholegrain, a  good source of glucose for energy. Don’t skip meals, especially   breakfast, and don’t overeat.

Remember that food becomes your blood and your  blood feeds your entire cell  and hormonal system, your brain, your  muscles, and your organs.

Supplement Yourself Though I’m not proposing to stimulate  yourself with supplements,  during a stressful time these can help. Adaptogens  are herbs that  support you in coping and recovering from stress. You still have  to do  what’s required to manage your stressors, though. They are not miracle   cures. The best known adaptogens are Siberian Ginseng and vitamin C.  Other  adaptogens are Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Shizandra, which you can  combine or  take separately. For emotional exhaustion. Olive from Bach  Flower Essences is a  good supplement. If you feel really anxious, some  Rescue Remedy can help  too.

Supplements based on the adaptogen mushrooms  are helpful too, and boost the  immune system. Examples of this are  reishi, maitake, and cordyceps.

Have Some Fun Moving and having fun is the next thing you  can do to reduce stress.  Get out in nature, exercise, or do yoga. Also spend  some time being  creative—listen to music and sing along, journal to cope with  your  feelings, and in general do more things that give you some pleasure.

Take good care of your body. Try some lovely  baths, massages, and other  touch therapies. We offer quite a few at the  Path for Life Center.

Learn How to Be This is also called “get out of your  head,” and is better known as  meditation. It can be very difficult to sit still when  you’re stressed,  but the good news is that you don’t have to. Meditation can be  applied  in many ways.

Exercise and movement, stretching and  breathing—there are many ways to get  your body out of the grip of  stress. When your brain can finally learn to let  be, your body can  unravel too.

Remember this when life seems to take  over: actions may be positive or  negative according to the intention  that underlies them, just as a crystal  reflects the colors of its  surroundings. Stress is what you make of it.  It does start in your head.

By Jeanette Bronee, Path for Life via DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women  come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability,  and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by  writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real  women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re  discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel  and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

 

 

Feeling Overwhelmed? 5 Tips to Help

Feeling Overwhelmed? 5 Tips to Help

Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone! It’s a natural response to the  ever-increasing demands on our time. Even with all of the great technology and  time management tools we have, 24-hours can still seem like not enough time to  get a day’s work done. When you feel you are drowning in a sea of too many  commitments and not enough time to honor them, remember to keep these thoughts  in mind:

1. Everything will be okay. As overwhelming as this moment  may feel, everything will work out eventually. Perhaps the end result will not  be what you hoped or imagined, but you will be okay. What you are feeling now  won’t be how you will always feel. Ask yourself if what you’re fretting over  will be important one year from now, five years from now, or even ten years from  now.

2. Remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing. It  can be tempting to procrastinate or want to give up, but think about the bigger  picture. This can help if you tend to get bogged down in the smaller, more  insignificant details. Think about the end result that you want to achieve and  use that as motivation to keep going despite your feelings of uncertainty or  inadequacy in handling certain steps of the process.

3. Believe in yourself. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy  to get down on yourself or start to doubt your own abilities. But studies have  shown that thinking positively actually leads to more creativity (meaning your  brain is able to come up with more possibilities and solutions). Instead of  using what little reserves of energy you have concentrating on why you think you  are inadequate, use that energy to believe that you can do it. Visualize your  success when you begin to doubt.

4. Taking a break may be just what you need. When you’re up  against a deadline, it can seem counterproductive to take a break — but if  you’re overwhelmed, it may be just what you need to re-energize yourself and put  a renewed, fresher effort into what you are doing. Sometimes doing something  unrelated to what is your most pressing task can actually help to give you some  perspective and make it better.

5. Ask for help if you need it. A lot of times we feel  overwhelmed because we may have overestimated our ability to handle something.  Let go of your pride and ask for assistance — whether that means extending a  deadline or having someone take over the some of the simpler, yet time consuming  tasks of your project. There’s nothing wrong with delegating; in fact, that’s  the sign of a great leader.

Remember that feeling overwhelmed is normal when you care a lot about the  outcome of something or have a lot on your plate. But try to stay calm, breathe,  and know that giving your best is all that you can do. Keep your resources in  mind and use them to help you manage your projects. Be proactive, take  initiative, and ask for help if you need it.

Image Credit: Helga Weber / Flickr

Erika Oglesby

Erika Oglesby is a freelance writer and wandering nomad currently located in  Grand Rapids, MI. She is dedicated to helping people better their lives through  self-knowledge and alternative therapies —  especially women of color and women  diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. Visit her website at http://www.erikaoglesby.com.

9 Feng Shui Tips for Work

9 Feng Shui Tips for Work

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that if you love working in  your office, you will spend more quality time there. And, if work feels like  play, you will be more creative and prosperity will naturally flow.

In Feng Shui, the “Career” area is about doing our life work. It is not about  work as drudgery. It is about doing vibrant work that flows from our deepest  core.Feng Shui offers some simple, practical, and  inexpensive solutions that    will support you in arranging a work space that  inspires creativity,    productivity, and prosperity.

As a Life Coach as well as a Feng Shui Consultant, I work with many people who want to  make a difference in the world. Whether they provide coaching services, sell  health-related products, or are a holistic health practitioner, their vision  encompasses enhancing the health and happiness of others and the planet. This is  why arranging an office that encourages you to spend time there is directly  connected to your vision.

Make sure your office reflects your passion, incorporating objects, words and  symbols representing that represent them and eliminating anything that does  not.

This is not the place for lots of family photos, objects from other hobbies  or past rewards not related to your current work.This is your palette for  creating the work that is uniquely you. Treat it as your sacred space.

1. Clear the clutter: Often home offices are a dumping ground of  all of those bits of things you can’t find a place for. Be diligent and don’t  allow anything in the space that does not support your vision, uplift your  spirit, or is necessary and functional to your current work. If you work at a  company, the shape of your office is broadcasting a message about your  competency. Make sure it is sending the message you want!

2. Get organized: If you are spending half your time looking  for things, you are losing precious time. If you are not good  at this, hire an  professional organizer to do the  initial set-up – budget permitting. If you  can’t pay for it, offer a trade of services to a  friend, colleague or  family member who has good organizing skills.

3 Arrange your desk so that it is in the empowered position:  This is where you can see the door from the desk but are not in direct alignment  with the door. This will make a huge difference in your ability to feel in  control of your destiny. If you can’t move your desk, get a mirror and place it  so that you can see who is coming in the door. These look like rear-view mirrors  and stick right to your monitor and  can be found at auto parts stores.

4. Create an ergonomically comfortable work station: Your  body must feel comfortable working there. Make sure your desk is the appropriate  height, have a comfortable chair, and arrange to have copy machines and other  chemical-emitting machines away from your work station. If your body hurts, or  you are smelling fumes, you are not only harming yourself, but it will create  another aversion to spending time there.

5. Balance open spaces with filled spaces:  This is called balancing the Yin and Yang. You need places for the eye to be engaged as  well as for it to rest. Organize all of the bits of office things such as  staplers, tape, etc. into colorful baskets. The eye will see one object rather  than many, creating a sense of organization, and peacefulness.

6. Make it a bright and happy space: This should be an  active space. You don’t want it to be so calming that you want to take a nap.  Bring in vibrant colors as well as art and objects that make your heart sing.  Replace fluorescent lighting when ever you can. Bring your own floor and/or desk  lamp to work, if possible. It will make a huge difference in your energy level  at the end of the day.

Use baskets to organize all of those “bits of  things”

7. Organize those snake-like computer cords so that you are  not looking at a  jumble of chaos. Radio Shack has cord organizers which allow  you to group them into long, wide tubes. Or roll them up, put a twist-tie on  them and drop them all into an attractive basket.

8. Make it inspiring: Bring in nature and collections that  you love. This is called balancing the Five Elements. Use book shelves to display a  beautiful vase, work of art, a shell, or a few objects from favorite  collections, and intersperse them  with your work books. (Use plants, water  fountains, and nature art; See Feng Shui Chi Enhancers.) Make it beautiful and inspiring  but don’t over do the collections.

9. For Feng Shui believers, arrange objects according to the Bagua  Map. (Click here for your Free Bagua Map.) The Bagua Map locates  the key energetic centers of a home or room. We then bring in environmental affirmations to enhance these areas. When we  strategically place objects that represent what we want to bring into our lives,  we set the intention for the chi or energy to flow in that direction.

We can use a “mini-Bagua” in our office by orienting the “entrance quadrant” from the direction we enter the room. Divide the room into nine equal sections  and put your affirmations (objects, words, artifacts, vision boards)  representing what it is you want to bring into each of these areas of your work  life into these quadrants.

An example of how to use Bagua enhancements in the  office:

  • Use a purple amethyst or favorite crystal in the Wealth area.
  • A water fountain, something made of glass, or a picture of flowing water in  the Career area.
  • Books pertaining to your work in the Knowledge area.
  • A lamp, an award, or a framed article about you or your company in the Fame area.
  • Pages of the book you are writing or projects you are working on in the Creativity area.
  • A green plant in the Health area.
  • A picture of the people you want to partner with in your Partnership area.  Note: when using the Bagua for business, substitute the word Partnerships for the Love and Marriage area.
  • Pictures or objects that represent helpful people in the Helpful People area. This area is also for travel, so don’t  forget all of the exotic places you want to travel to where you will be sharing  your gifts with the world!
  • Desk in the Center area, representing a grounded and balanced work life.  If this is not possible, just make sure the center is open and  clutter-free.

Make it up, make it fun, make it personal to what you want to bring into your  career, and enjoy the productivity that will come from being in an inspiring,  organized, and clutter-free space!

For your free Color Bagua Map click here.

By Erica Sofrina

Erica Sofrina is a  motivational speaker, author and life coach specializing in connecting people to  their spiritual essence. She is also an Internationally recognized Feng Shui  speaker, green living columnist, teacher and the author of the book Small  Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World and the Founder of  the West  Coast Academy of Feng Shui.  She is also the founder of Earth Spirit  Adventure Travel which takes people on retreats to powerful energy vortexes such  as Bali and Hawaii to facilitate their deep earth/spirit connection. Find out  more at www.ericasofrina.com

6 Ways Fitness Makes You Successful

6 Ways Fitness Makes You Successful

It’s 8:25 p.m. and you’re working late.  Again. The boss has gone home,  along with most of your coworkers. But  not you: you’re still chained to your  desk, and you’ll probably be there  for a while.

Over the last few months you’ve been cranking through work, though.  You’ve  pulled ahead of your competition, and you figure a significant  promotion — along with a bigger paycheck and more responsibility — is  right around the  corner.

Sure, you feel rundown and you’ve put on some weight. But you just  haven’t  had much time to sleep, much less shop for and prepare healthy  food. And the  prospect of squeezing in a workout when there is so much  to do seems  laughable.

Here’s what you tell yourself: I’ll work out when I clear these  projects. I’ll sleep after I get the promotion. I’ll start eating  better when the kids start school.

It’s a scenario familiar to many of us: too much on our plates, not  enough  hours in the day, and a persistent feeling that any time away  from work means  lost time, money and accomplishments.

Many of us have been brainwashed into thinking that stress and poor  health  are the price of success. We may even see our rundown bodies as  evidence of our  unflagging dedication to the demands of our careers.

New research shows that this zero-sum view of work and working out is   flawed. Far from detracting from your productivity and efficiency,  regular  exercise can make you smarter, and more effective, resilient and successful. And this is true whether your “profession” involves  tackling corporate mergers or taking your kids to soccer  practice.

In addition to helping you look and feel better, time invested in  upgrading  and maintaining your fitness repays itself many times over in  ways that  psychologists, brain experts and other researchers are only  beginning to  understand. And putting even a little effort into upgrading  your health and  fitness can have a surprisingly dramatic effect on your  professional  performance.

Fit for Success

You may have been hired for your brain power. But the condition of  your body  could matter more than you realize, particularly as you climb  the corporate  ranks. A 2005 survey conducted by TheLadders.com  found that 75 percent of top executives considered being physically fit  “critical to career success” and being overweight “a serious career  impediment” to advancement.

It turns out that employees’ salaries are influenced by how closely  their  body weight approximates an “ideal,” which frequently and unfairly  differs by  gender. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2011  found that slender women out-earned their overweight female  colleagues by a  significant margin. Men of moderate weight, meanwhile,  earned more than both  slender men and overweight men.

Being thin, in other words, tends to be an advantage for women and a   disadvantage for men. Being heavy is a disadvantage for both.

It’s unfortunate, to say the least,  that these sorts of prejudices   persist. Until attitudes change, though, it means that if you’re  overweight,  you’ll probably be operating at some level of professional  disadvantage.  Getting into better shape could give your earning power a  direct boost; it  could also benefit your confidence and self-esteem in  ways that amplify your  job performance.

That’s why Phyllis R. Stein, a career counselor from Cambridge,  Mass., with  more than 36 years in the business, says: “Whether you’re  looking for your next  job or trying to reach the next rung on the  corporate ladder, I consider  exercise an essential job-related  activity.”

Stress Case

Cultural biases notwithstanding, success-oriented people have plenty  of good  reasons to work out regularly, says Stein. One of the best:  Exercise improves  energy while decreasing stress and amplifying mental  focus.

Consider cortisol, a steroid hormone that regulates your energy   throughout the day. Under normal conditions, cortisol levels peak early  in  the morning to get you going, and then gradually decline as the day  progresses,  leaving you mellowed out and ready to sleep at bedtime. A  hectic work  environment can throw this natural circadian cycle into  disarray. Commuter  traffic, an irate boss or an impending deadline can  create small cortisol  spikes during your day, each one followed  immediately by a sharp decline in  energy and mood.

Worse, many stressed-out workers turn to junk food, sugary  snacks and caffeinated energy drinks to keep themselves going — all of which  can make the hormonal roller-coaster ride even wilder. Months of this  routine  can exhaust and ultimately kill off some of your brain’s  stress-regulating  neurons, leaving you perpetually listless.

“When you’re chronically stressed, the normal daily cortisol cycle  can  flip,” says Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, director of nutrition and  weight  management for Life Time Fitness in Chanhassen, Minn. “This can  leave you  barely able to get out of bed in the morning, but too keyed up  to sleep at  night.”

Though it may seem like a minor, inevitable annoyance to the  ambitious  white-collar warrior, sleep deprivation actually comes with a  steep economic  price. One 2004 study estimated that sleep disruption of  various kinds cost  Australia more than $4.5 billion annually in the form  of lost work, reduced  productivity and accidents — 0.8 percent of the  gross domestic product.

Here again, exercise can come to the rescue. “Easy movement, like  walking or  low-key yoga, before bedtime nudges the parasympathetic  nervous system into  gear, diffusing stress and helping to calm you  down,” Nikkola says. Even 10 to  20 minutes of stretching before hitting  the sack, for instance, could keep you  from tossing and turning,  resulting in an additional hour of slumber. And when  you’re sleeping  better at night, you’re also less likely to reach for the junk  food and  energy drinks that can wreak havoc with your daily energy cycle.

If you’re willing to kick your intensity up a notch to the “moderate”  level  (the equivalent of a brisk walk or anything that gets your heart  pumping), you  get other benefits, including improved mental focus. A  2008 study found that 45  to 60 minutes of a midday group exercise class  improved the mood, performance  and concentration of white-collar  workers.

“The clear and positive benefits of exercising only accrue on the  days when  it happens,” notes the study’s lead researcher, Jim McKenna,  PhD, professor of  physical activity and health at Leeds Metropolitan  University in the United  Kingdom. A second study, published in 2010 in  the journal Pain Med,  showed that just 10 minutes of exercise produced measurable reductions in  anxiety and depression.

So rather than skip that yoga class when you’re facing a day loaded  with  challenges, it’s probably wise to make it an even higher priority.  “You should  treat your workout like it’s the most important meeting you  have all week,” Nikkola says.

Reclaim Your  Brain

“When you’re stressed, your brain busies itself trying to keep you  safe from  threat — real or imagined,” says Sascha du Lac, PhD, associate  professor of  neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies  in San Diego.  Self-preserving thoughts can monopolize the brain space  that could otherwise be  used for scanning your environment, accessing  memories and relating to other  people.

Fortunately, physical exercise can help heal and hone the very same mental  abilities that are sabotaged by everyday stressors.

Picture yourself hiking or running on a trail. Though you’re not  conscious  of it, this relatively simple, pleasurable activity requires  you to make  hundreds of split-second choices — about foot placement,  balance and  navigation, for example — which can improve your capacity to  think, feel and  relate to others.

“The cerebellum, the area of the brain traditionally associated  mainly with  movement, is also involved with higher functioning, like  planning, socializing,  abstract thought — even creativity and emotional  intelligence,” explains  Elizabeth Beringer, director of the Feldenkrais  Institute of San Diego and  editor of Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe  Feldenkrais (North Atlantic Books, 2010).

“When you exercise regularly, your attention can broaden and shift at  will,” adds du Lac, “away from fearful, self-preserving thoughts and  onto what’s  actually going on around you: the responses of your  coworkers, your own  insights and ideas, the specific demands of the task  at hand.”

Psychological research has also shown that, for many people, a  regular  exercise routine is a “keystone” habit: a behavior that sets off  a chain  reaction of seemingly unrelated positive behavioral changes. In  a 2006 study  published in The British Journal of Health Psychology,  researchers  found that sedentary people placed on an exercise program  voluntarily began  smoking less, drinking fewer alcoholic and caffeinated  drinks, and eating  healthier. They also did more household chores, used  their credit cards less  often, and kept up more diligently with study  and work obligations. Everything  in their lives that required  self-discipline, in other words, became easier — almost by magic.

“Regular exercise builds self-regulatory resources,” explains Todd   Heatherton, PhD, professor of psychology and brain sciences at Dartmouth   College and an expert in habitual behavior and addiction. This ability  to  self-regulate, or exert willpower, say researchers, may be the most  significant  key to success in any work environment — it’s what  allows you to stick  to a task when others give up, and to overcome  obstacles that at first seem  insurmountable.

Small Changes, Real  Results

Improvements in mood, energy and productivity aren’t affected   significantly by the type of exercise you choose, so don’t fret too much   about whether you should be getting your work-enhancing boost from  yoga, a Zumba class or a run around the lake. The key is to do  something you enjoy — and maybe something a little novel as well.

“Learning is inherently enjoyable to humans,” says Beringer. “It  lights up  pleasure centers in the brain.” So mix things up, and try to  include activities  that build in some variety and progression, like team  sports, dance or martial  arts.

Also keep in mind that if your primary fitness goal is to boost your  work  performance, you can begin with a relatively small commitment of  time. “Researchers believe that 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous  exercise, a few  times a week, is all you need to see positive  adaptations in the brain,” says  du Lac. “You can do that all at once or  in small segments throughout your  day.”

And when you can’t spare even that much time and effort, just use  your head. “Imaginary movement lights up the same areas in the brain  that real movement  does,” says du Lac. Clinical studies show that  athletes who visualize an  unfamiliar exercise see gains in strength and  power similar to those who  actually practice the movement.

So when work is pushing you to the limit, spend a few minutes  daydreaming  about a jog down the beach, complete with the feeling of wet  sand beneath your  feet and the smells and sounds of the ocean. The  process could confer at least  some of the same benefits of a real  workout.

Of course, you’ll get the most significant advantages from moving  your  entire body on a regular basis. And now that you know the extent to  which your  professional future depends on it, you may find yourself  more motivated to do  just that.

The Efficient  Workout

If driving to and from the gym for an exercise class just isn’t in  the  cards, try these easy ways to get in a fat-burning, muscle-building  workout on  a busy day:

  • Hop in the saddle. Consider bike commuting. You get  to  skip the stress-filled commute, burn some calories, reduce your  carbon  footprint and save gas money all at the same time. Bonus: It’s  tough to flake  out on your after-work exercise routine when the bike is  your only way  home.
  • Grab a bell. A kettlebell, that is. Pick up a hefty  one at  your local sporting-goods store and stash it underneath your  desk at work. In  10 minutes, you can do a full-body, low-impact workout  that puts the treadmill  to shame.
  • Climb a skyscraper. Racing up the service stairs of  tall  city buildings is becoming an increasingly popular urban sport —  in large part  because it’s tough. If you work in a high-rise, lace on  your running shoes, hit  the stairs and scamper up 10 or more flights as  fast as you can. Take the  elevator back down (for recovery), if you’d  like, and repeat two to four more  times.
  • Make like a monkey. Mount a chin-up bar in the  doorway to  your office, and do a single pull-up every time you go in or  out. Can’t do a  pull-up yet? Stick with the self-assisted, jump-and-pull  variety until you can,  which will be soon, because you’ll net dozens of  reps per day. To avoid angry  memos from the boss, get a bar that mounts  over the door jamb — not one that  requires screws and a drill.

Fitness Tips for the  Time-Starved

“Keeping active doesn’t have to mean taking up residence at the gym,”  says  Elizabeth Beringer, director of the Feldenkrais Institute of San  Diego and  editor of Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais (North  Atlantic Books, 2010). “The trick is to make movement a natural  part of  your day rather than another thing you have to make time for.”

  • Sound the alarm. “Staring at a computer screen can  pull  your attention away from your body. People often sit motionless in  front of  them for hours on end, and only later realize they’re in pain.”  So instead of  waiting till your lower back is begging for mercy, set an  alarm that tells you  to get up and stretch every 20 minutes or so.  These micro-breaks will help  stave off aches and improve your focus.
  • Reach out. Ergonomic experts will tell you to set  up your  workstation so that everything you need is right in front of  you. Beringer  suggests going the opposite route: “Extending your arms is  extremely  pleasurable, and we almost can’t do it enough,” she says. “So  put some things  you regularly need — important documents, a file  cabinet, the phone — an arm’s  reach away so that you have to extend and  shift in your chair every so  often.”
  • Rise up. Every hour or so, get out of your chair.  Go  refill your water bottle. Do some deep lunges and a few pushups.  Schedule a  walking meeting. Make a point of getting vertical several  times throughout your  day. You can also experiment with working at a  counter or other standing-height  surface.
  • Go mobile. “Mobile devices like cell phones were designed  to help us be more mobile,” says Beringer. “But few people take full  advantage of  that.” So don’t hunker down at your desk during a cell-phone call  when  you could be walking around the room or climbing stairs. Attending to   your body’s need for movement helps you think, interact and perform your  job  better.

By , Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness  publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic  lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in  favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com   to learn more and to sign  up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe  to the print or digital version.

Myths and Misapprehensions About Homeopathy

Myths and Misapprehensions About Homeopathy

 

Many homeopaths, believing that the explanation of how homeopathy works is  secondary to its success with literally millions of patients, have traditionally  refused to reveal the names of the medicines they give. This and the lack of  information they have provided about their practice has led to an aura of  secrecy in which myths abound. It is worth looking at a few of these  misapprehensions.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is a form of herbalism’

In my experience, this is the commonest myth of all. While it is certainly  true that a proportion of the remedies a homeopath uses are based on plants, and  though, as in homeopathy, the herbalist prescribes on the individual, the  principles that govern the two therapies are quite different.

Many plants have known healing properties; herbalism is concerned with the  known sphere of action of a plant based on its chemical constituents as well as  its known healing qualities. Herbalism has existed for thousands of years—for as  long as we have records—in some form or another and has its roots in mother  earth. It is the only form of medicine used by wild animals.

Homeopathy, on the other hand, is based on a very different set of  principles. Homeopathic remedies are not used in the material dose; nor are they  based solely on plants, using as they do poisons, metals, and disease products.  Homeopaths generally prescribe one remedy at a time rather than the mixtures of  plant tinctures that herbalists employ. And, of course, homeopathy in its modern  form is a mere 200 years old.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is safe

In the same way that homeopathy can cure—dramatically and permanently in many  cases—it can also cause harm. Kent said that he would rather share a room with a  nest of vipers than be subjected to the administrations of an inexperienced  homeopath! Potential dangers are:

Unintentional provings

If you take too many homeopathic pills over a period of time it is possible  to ‘prove’ the remedy—that is, to suffer from the symptoms that the remedy was  supposed to cure. This can mean that although your own symptoms may improve  initially, they may worsen again if you continue to take the pills. Worse still,  if the remedy did not fit your picture—was not right for you—you may experience  symptoms you never had before.

This is a danger with self-prescribing or over-the-counter prescribing, where  there is no professional homeopath to monitor the symptoms. In my first year in  practice a woman rang me one day in a frantic state, desperate for help. She  told me the following story:

I asked for help at a homeopathic chemist for thrush, which I had  suffered from for several months, and was prescribed Nux vomica 30 over the  counter and told to take it three times daily. After a few days I experienced a  marked improvement in my condition, so I carried on taking it. After a week of  no further changes my symptoms started to get worse so I carried on taking it. I  finished the bottle of pills and went back to the pharmacy and told them my  thrush was now as bad as when I had started taking the remedy. They gave me  another bottle of Nux vomica 30 and told me to continue with the treatment. It  is now two months since I started on this remedy and my thrush is unbearable. It  is so bad I can’t sleep at night and I am irritable all the time. Please help  me.

I advised this woman to stop taking the pills and to antidote the remedy with  strong coffee and camphorated ointment (to counteract its effects) and within  twenty-four hours she was back to her old self, having slept well for the first  time in over a month. The thrush was back to where it had been before she took  the Nux vomica—annoying but manageable.

A colleague of mine tells of a six-month-old baby who was treated at a local  hospital as an emergency out-patient in a state of collapse. The nurse on duty  was a student of my colleague’s and discovered that the mother had been giving  her baby Chamomilla 6 several times a day for colic since soon after birth. As  soon as the homeopathic remedy was discontinued for a period of time the muscle  tone returned.

It is important to be on your guard against this over-use of homeopathic  medicines.

Confusion of the symptom picture

If a remedy has not been prescribed on the whole person it will work in a  limited way, curing a restricted number of symptoms. In these cases some  complaints remain and it is possible to end up giving one remedy after another  in order to try to ‘get rid’ of the remaining symptoms. In the end the whole  picture becomes so changed that it is difficult to find the similimum (that  single remedy that was needed at the very beginning).

The professional homeopath has different ways of dealing with this phenomenon  in order to get back to the original symptom picture. If you find that you are  prescribing one remedy after another with only limited effect, then do get  professional help.

Suppression

A homeopathic remedy can cure a superficial symptom such as skin eruption in  the same way that, for example, the application of a Cortisone cream can. This  will only be the case if the remedy has been prescribed on the skin complaint  (single symptom) without taking into account the whole person and/or the cause.  The effect is to push the disease further into the body. Constitutional  treatment will often commence with the original symptom resurfacing. Suppression  is not common in homeopathy but is possible. In self-prescribing, if your  complaint disappears but you feel much worse in

yourself (i.e. your moods and your energy) then it is likely that you have  made a poor choice of remedy—antidote it and get some professional advice.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is form of vaccination’

People often say that they understand homeopathy to be like a vaccination in  that the patient is given a small quantity of the disease he already has in  order to make him immune to it.

This is not true. Homeopathy and vaccination have similar, not the same,  concepts and very different practices. Vaccines work on the physical body in a  very specific way, in that they stimulate the immune system directly to produce  specific antibodies as if that person has contracted that particular disease; in  so doing they are, of course, stressing the immune system. Many vaccines have  been known to produce permanent side effects. They must be tested on animals and  then on humans to verify their safety, and even then children and adults are  often damaged on a physical, emotional or mental level.

A homeopathic remedy works in a totally different way. Homeopathic remedies  affect the energy patterns or vital force of a person and by so doing stimulate  the body to heal itself. They are administered orally in a diluted (and safe)  dose as opposed to being introduced directly into the bloodstream, as is the  case with vaccination thereby bypassing the body’s natural defense system and  stressing it in a way that is not fully understood. Homeopathic medicines are  not tested on innocent animals and do not have side effects.

Myth: ‘Homeopathic remedies are placebos’

This myth can be rephrased to read ‘You need to believe in it for it to  work.’ This is patently ridiculous to anyone who has experienced or prescribed a  successful homeopathic cure for, say, a head injury or a middle-ear  infection.

A placebo is an unmedicated pill which the patient believes contains  something that will cure him or her. Double-blind trials always involve the  inclusion of a control group taking a placebo instead of the medicine being  tested in order to rule out the individual’s ‘suggestibility’.

It is because homeopathic remedies do not always work that they are sometimes  believed to be ineffective and, because routine prescriptions such as Rhus  toxicodendron for rheumatism and Chamomilla for teething babies are freely  available from high-street chemists, people are wrongly persuaded into thinking  that they need not consult a homeopath (or an adequate first-aid book). If the  remedies do not work it is assumed that homeopathy does not work; if they do  work it is attributed to a placebo effect—some double blind!

Homeopathic medicines work effectively on babies and animals, neither of whom  are open to being affected by placebos.

It is always essential to individualize the remedy to fit the patient and not  the disease, to ensure that the underlying principles are observed so that the  element of chance is decreased and homeopathy can be seen to work.

Of course, there are many people who will recognize the experience of  consulting a practitioner who inspires belief and hope, who left them feeling  buoyant and encouraged. But if this initial rapport is not backed up with good  solid prescribing, then no amount of that positive ‘transference’ will cure the  patient.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is mysterious and unscientific’

The fact that homeopathic medicines are prepared in a pharmacy or a  laboratory and that their preparation involves a particular technique subject to  precise and clearly stated controls (it does not involve mysterious and secret  processes which put it into the realm of white magic or alchemy) is enough to  convince many people of its validity.

Homeopaths have traditionally justified their practice by their results,  without feeling a need to explain how their methods work. The homeopathic  philosophy or doctrine is a set of rules for practice—one that hasn’t changed  since it was formulated 200 years ago. These rules and principles constitute a  unified hypothesis whose validity is tested out empirically—with cured patients  confirming the hypothesis.

Harris Coulter, in his book Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine (The  Physics of healing with Microdoses), discusses this issue at great length and  also describes many of the trials that have been conducted over the past fifty  years or so using plants, animals and humans as controls to prove the  effectiveness of homeopathic medicines.

(In Atlanta, GA, Leesa recommends Dr. Seneca Anderson at www.longevityhealthcenter.com.  Be sure to tell them Leesa Wheeler referred you!)

 

Reprinted from The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Miranda  Castro

by Miranda  Castro FSHom, RSHom (NA), CCH, Contributor to Homeopathy  on Allthingshealing.com

Editor´s Note from Judith  Hanna Doshi: Miranda’s article lays out some of the common misunderstandings  about Homeopathy. Although it is usually promoted as a “safe, gentle and  effective” mode of treatment, it must be recognized that Homeopathy is a complex  treatment modality that requires considerable skill to administer and manage effectively,  preferably by a professional homeopath. If poorly done, it can cause  aggravations and even complicate the existing disease picture. Fortunately,  these effects are usually short lived and in no way resemble the toxic effects  of conventional treatments  that leave their imprint permanently.

Dr. Neala Peake, selected  from AllThingsHealing.com

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online  portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the  globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large.  We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and  organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We  offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a  forum for each category, and an extensive “Find Practitioners” listing. Our  Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join  us!

 

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation —  otherwise known as high  blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys,  and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by  stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity,  smoking, or  just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting  back  on sodium, according to the American  Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg —  about 1  teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches —  also good for  those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help  you cut your salt  intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners They’re quick  and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a   huge sodium punch — as  much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of  them don’t have enough vegetables  to help you meet your  daily  requirements. For fast meals on busy nights,  freeze leftovers or  try make-ahead  casseroles that go from freezer to oven to  table with a  minimum of  effort (like Emeril’s Mexican  Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure  you’re  getting the right  nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice Start  by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil,  dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon  or lime juice, flavored  vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite  recipes.

 

 

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads Salads,  sandwiches,  and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner  options,  but you can  inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup,  mustard, soy sauce, and salad  dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic  vinegar  on your greens, use fresh  tomatoes on your burger, and look  for low-sodium  versions of other  condiments — or just make sure to  watch your portions (one  tablespoon  of regular ketchup has a whopping  160-190 mg of sodium). Some  companies  do the work for you, though: This  spring, according to the Huffington  Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked  its  classic ketchup recipe to  cut the sodium by 15 percent in response  to new FDA  salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For   Homemade Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving   can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying  for the  convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they  pretty much  require two things — water and time — and you can flavor  them with vegetables,  herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a  crowd. Many companies also  offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of  popular soups, broths, and  vegetables (but check the sodium levels on  your frozen  vegetables, too, especially if they come with  seasonings or sauces:  sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat  all  winter.

 

 

5. Avoid the Brine Pickles,  olives, sauerkraut, and just about any  other  vegetables that come in a  brine may not feel unhealthy,  but those  brines were designed to  preserve the food — which means  there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in  these  foods, and try your hand at canning  your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to  be sure  you know exactly  how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats Bacon,  ham, salami, and other cured meats are another  sodium obstacle:  According to the NIH  DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or  poultry contains  between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of  roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace  them with fresh chicken, pork,  fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch  out for smoked and  processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium  levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks It  doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in  sodium than  sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably  tell you all by  themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers,   chips, and pretzels with fresh  fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just  can’t resist a  snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn,  low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour Choosing whole  wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help  lower blood  pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and  salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour),  and  they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing  many  health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta  without adding salt to the cooking  water, and you could end up with as little  as 5 mg of sodium per  serving. (Leesa recommends The Pure Wraps made from Coconut and Quinoa for those who need to eat Gluten-Free!)

 

 

9. Say No to Buttermilk Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of  its less-flavorful  cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot  more than  just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural  (not  processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain   blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate Okay, here’s  one piece of  good news: Dark  chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to  avoid, since  some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help  lower  blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat,  you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small  amounts, it can  have health benefits that go beyond a sugar  rush. (Leesa recommends Vivani 85% Org Dark Chocolate!)

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger

 

 

 

The 3 Best Types of Weekend Getaways

The 3 Best Types of Weekend Getaways

 

For 11 months of the year, we daydream about where we’ll go on  vacation — beaches, safaris, canyons — until we finally arrive at the  week or two when  we get to fulfill the dream. We return to work  temporarily refreshed, only to  spend another year anticipating.

The thing is, all that waiting to wind down isn’t necessary. Sure,  long  trips are great, but they’re not the only way to experience adventure or luxuriate in relaxation. Many experts believe  that even a long  weekend can deliver an impressive bang for your vacation buck. “If you  have 12 vacation days, you’re better off planning a number of three- or  four-day vacations per year than one long trip,” says Dan Buettner,  author of Thrive:  Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way (National Geographic, 2010).

By studying populations worldwide, Buettner discovered that the  healthiest,  happiest people “downshift” routinely, not just annually.  “Scheduling a string  of downshifting vacations every other month helps  you get into the routine of  de-stressing your life.”

Science confirms that regular time off from work can reduce your  chances of  becoming ill or dying prematurely. But there’s another factor  in the work-play  equation: how long the good feelings last after you  return from climbing in  Yosemite or surfing in Hawaii.

The postholiday glow can fade with shocking speed, says vacation  researcher  Jessica de Bloom, MSc, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the  Netherlands. In  the people she studied, vacations’ aftereffects — less  stress, fewer physical  complaints — usually disappeared within the first  week of their returning home.  But more regular trips offer a greater  number of relaxed, postvacation  days.

Besides shortening the length of time between post-vacation highs  (and  lows), frequent three-day vacations give you more opportunities to  visit a  variety of locations with diversified experiences — a short  winter ski  adventure followed by summer cycling and fall mountaineering,  for instance.

There’s also an enhanced happiness factor. “Much of our satisfaction  from  vacationing comes from planning a trip and remembering its  highlights,” says  Buettner. “If your life is punctuated with short  vacations, then you’re getting  more of those opportunities.”

Here are three examples of quick, no-fuss getaways: one restful and romantic,  one high adventure, and one memorable trip of my own that combined them  both.  A key tip: Go somewhere that’s three hours or less from home.  Shorter travel  time helps make the most of a brief escape.

 

The Long-Weekend  Retreat

When to go: Your nerves are frayed and you can’t  switch out  of work mode. You need R&R, ASAP, because you’re  beginning to speak in  acronyms.

As Troy and Linea Gagliano sipped wine and gazed through their hotel  window,  the Pacific tide crashed against the rocky coast of Yachats,  Ore. “Watching the  waves was a Zen moment that felt better than a  Xanax,” says Linea, 40, a PR  manager who was exhausted from juggling  work and a baby. “I could feel the  stress rolling off.”

For their three-day weekend, the Portland couple unplugged from their  jobs  and left the baby in his grandmother’s care. “We celebrated our  independence by  sleeping late and soaking in the Overleaf Lodge’s hot  tub,” says Troy, 42, a  renewable-energy developer. “We emphasized  hedonism over exercise because our  goal was to rest, reconnect and watch  the mesmerizing waves.”

The couple did stretch their legs, exploring tidal pools filled with   starfish and sea anemones. They kept their mini-vacation simple and  unhurried  by skipping an itinerary, ignoring the hotel-room TV and  turning off cell  phones.  (Grandma had the lodge’s phone number in case of emergency.) They  even  packed picnic foods for the trip and ordered takeout so they could dine   quietly in their room.

The getaway rejuvenated the Gaglianos’ relationship. “We had time to  walk on  the beach and laugh together,” says Linea. “After the trip, I  was excited to  see our boy, and I knew I could tackle work with a  clearer vision. And I felt  grateful for everything I have: a wonderful  husband, a beautiful son and a  great job.”

Planning tips:

  • To save money, take restorative weekends in the off-season when the best  hotel rooms are generally less expensive.
  • If possible, choose a vacation spot that involves a scenic drive to  get  there. Then it feels like the holiday starts the moment you leave town.

 

The Active  Adventure

When to go: You’ve been cooped up in the office and want to  cut loose and challenge yourself with an invigorating physical escapade.

Russ Carroll and his son Nicholas, 12, of Weston, Mass., wanted to  pump up  their summer vacation. Traditionally, the family takes extended  sightseeing  trips in the car, but last year, Russ, 45, organized a  guys-only three-day  hiking trek in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Not  wanting to waste time with  planning and logistics, Russ hired  Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) naturalist  guides and invited some other  family members to join them.

At the site, guides prepped the group on what to expect during three  days of  moderate-to-strenuous backpacking. That first day, as they  summited Mt.  Washington (New England’s highest peak and the site of  numerous hiker  fatalities), the wind blew 50 miles an hour and  visibility was poor. “We felt  safer with guides, knowing how easily we  could have gotten lost or hurt in  those conditions,” says Russ.

Wind-battered but triumphant, the group arrived at Lake of the   Clouds Hut, where an AMC crew cooked a hearty dinner and showed them to   one of several bunk rooms, which they shared with other hikers. There  were no  flush toilets or showers, but the hut was well equipped with  food, water,  pillows and blankets.

After breakfast, the group packed their lunches and headed out for  another  full day — this time in bright sunshine — to reach Mizpah Hut  for their second  night. They climbed more mountains, and the guides  helped Nicholas use the GPS  to locate a geocache treasure.

Physically reinvigorated, Russ felt like he’d been gone a month, not  just  four days. “I watched Nicholas’s confidence build as he made it  over rough  terrain carrying a 40-pound pack,” he says. “I saw him become  responsible when  he took a turn as our trail leader, even though he was  the youngest. The change  from hiking in nature was profound for all of  us, from age 12 to 54.”

Another advantage of their short but rugged adventure: The brief time  window  allowed the Carrolls to go for broke on the trail, then return  home rejuvenated — not exhausted.

Planning tips:

  • No matter how brief your vacation, plan to spend some time in  nature. It  will get your head out of work mode and help stress evaporate  more  quickly.
  • Hiring a guide for rugged trips helps keep you safe and saves you time on  planning and logistics.

 

Yin and Yang  Weekend

When to go: You and your travel companion have  different  fitness levels or enjoy different activities — or you simply  yearn for some  variety.

My first three-day vacation was inspired by the fact that I was  recovering  from knee surgery and wanted to join my husband on his annual  ski trip. I don’t  typically ski even when my knees are in top shape,  but I was in desperate need  of some restorative time away. So we opted  for a trip to suit both our agendas:  He skis, she spas.

We searched for a hotel that could accommodate our dual needs and  found one  just two hours from our Boulder home — at Devil’s Thumb Ranch  Resort & Spa,  in Tabernash, Colo. On 6,000 acres in the Rocky  Mountains, the resort has a  relaxing spa and yoga classes (for me), 65  adrenaline-packed miles of groomed  Nordic ski and snowshoe trails (for  him), and a fireplace in the room (for  us).

On our first full day, Ken drove with his telemark skis to nearby  Berthoud  Pass, which straddles the Continental Divide, where the  backcountry powder is  deep. I threw a parka over my yoga attire and  walked to the spa, where the yoga  room has a view of snowy peaks. After  class, it was time for my Altitude  Adjustment, a treatment involving massage and hot towels soaked in relaxing  lavender oil. Thoughts of writing deadlines evaporated.

Just before dusk, Ken returned, grinning like a skier who had been  gliding  through clouds. We celebrated our individual vacation  experiences together in  the hot tub under the stars before sharing a  candlelight dinner.

Having multiple options ultimately benefited us both. On our last  day, Ken  indulged in some tension-loosening yoga with me before renting  Nordic skis and  blazing off on the Lazy Sunday Loop. We met for lunch,  and then he decided to  attempt a few laps of skate skiing. In the spirit  of adventure, I strapped on  snowshoes and tested my knee on an easy  trail. I watched Ken skate the loop; he  spotted me tramping through  snow. We waved to each other and laughed. The  future, I think, holds  many more three-day vacations tailored for two.

Planning tips:

  • When your trip involves a seasonal sport like skiing or golf, travel midweek  to avoid weekend crowds.
  • Find a hotel or resort that offers a smorgasbord of activities in one  location.

By , Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness  publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic  lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in  favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com   to learn more and to sign  up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe  to the print or digital version.

 

Superfood: Eat Your Avocado!

Superfood: Eat Your Avocado!

 

Guacamole lovers, rejoice! It turns out that not only is avocado  super delicious, but you can enjoy your avocado without the guilt thanks to its  mix of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.

You probably already knew that avocado was a great source of vitamin E, but  did you know that because it’s so rich in antioxidants and the good-for-you type  of fat, it’s also an anti-aging powerhouse? Studies have shown that the minerals  in avocado even help you better absorb other nutrients, like beta carotene. They  also contain a sugar called D-manno-heptulose that helps your skin produce  collagen, which can prevent wrinkles.

It might sound a little bit strange to talk about “healthy fat,” but there  are differences between the type of fat you find in an avocado versus the fat in  something like cheese or french fries. Unlike the saturated fats that you find  in animal products and fried foods, avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats, which help protect you  from heart disease, and their fiber content can help fight high cholesterol.

Of course, you can eat avocado on its own or mixed into guacamole, but it’s  actually a much more versatile ingredient.

10 Avocado  Recipes

Avocado Tips: Choosing a ripe avocado may seem tricky, but don’t fret! A  ripe avocado gives a bit when you squeeze it gently, but it shouldn’t feel mushy – just tender. You also don’t have to skip the avocado just because you can’t  find a ripe one at the store. Toss an unripe avocado into a paper bag with a  banana. Fold the bag closed, and check it once a day. It should ripen within a  couple of days this way. Once your avocado is ripe, store it in the fridge to  make it last longer.

1. Avocado Corn Cups – Who needs a bowl when you can  eat a yummy, organic corn salad right out of an avocado?

2. Avocado Pudding – This might sound a little iffy, but  avocado makes a great base for pudding! Just toss it in the blender with some  cocoa powder and the liquid sweetener of your choice. If you need more deets, check out these ideas for making avocado pudding.

3. Vegan Avocado Alfredo Sauce – Who needs  butter and cream? Make a decadent alfredo sauce with avocado as the base  instead!

4. Creamy Avocado Potato Salad – Mashed  replaces the mayo in this healthy, tasty side dish.

5. Avocado and Pomegranate Salad – Two  superfoods team up in this delicious salad.

6. Avocado Reuben Sandwich – Talk about decadent!

7. Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream  Sauce – I’ve always said that avocado is perfect for mimicking the  creaminess of cheese, and this recipe proves it!

8. Avocado  and Basil Mayonnaise – The avocado base for this recipe gives you  the creaminess of mayo without any high cholesterol eggs.

9. Mexican Pizza – Another delicious example  of avocado standing in for saturated fat-laden cheese!

10. Avocado Lime Cupcakes – The avocado adds a  bit of richness to these decadent vegan cupcakes.

By Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a green blogger and independent crafter with a passion  for vintage fabrics. She runs a crafty business, Glue  and Glitter, where her mission is to use existing materials in products that  help folks reduce their impact without sacrificing style! She specializes in  aprons and custom  lunch bags. Like this article? You can follow  Becky on Twitter or find  her on Facebook!

 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: