Healthy Action Step of the Day: Cook for Yourself on Vacation

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Cook for yourself on vacation. With a little extra planning and a willingness to think outside the box, cooking for yourself can become an important and meaningful part of your next vacation. It can also help save A LOT of money and give you control over what fuels you during your precious time off.

Here are a few tips for making cooking a fun and relaxing part of your vacation routine.

  • Make sure you have a kitchen at your disposal.
  • Scout out nearby grocery stores ahead of time.
  • Plan your meals and make a grocery list.
  • Create a restful and relaxing setting for cooking (music, wine and candles).

For more tips and reasons on why this is a good vacation hack to try, check out Benefits of Cooking for Yourself While on Vacation.


Healthy Action Step of the Day: Relax

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Relax in order to lose weight. If you need to lose weight, one of the best things you can do to help yourself is to relax. Integrative medicine expert and board certified functional medicine provider Dr. Keesha Ewers says that whether we’re running late or we’re running from a lion chasing us, our bodies react to stress the same by producing the hormone cortisol. Once that stress is gone, cortisol levels should fall, but as Dr. Heidi Hanna warns in her book Relax Your Fat Off,  “If that stress persists, or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the ‘on’ position, cortisol may remain elevated.” That means the brain is going to try to conserve energy by slowing down metabolism and by storing and protecting fat in our body. It’s also going to look for as many calories as possible so that we’ll have the energy needed to deal with whatever’s causing us stress. Again, fine for the short term, but devastating for our health and our waistline if it goes on for too long. That’s why, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s just as important to find time to relax as it is to exercise or to eat healthy foods.

For more on why this is the case and how you can learn to relax, feel free to check out Beyond Stress Eating: Why Stress Causes Weight Gain.

 


Healthy Action Step of the Day: Get Outside!

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Get outside! Now that spring is here, it’s time to get outside! Not only does being outside simply make us feel better and help to keep our Circadian Rhythm on track, the sun is one of our primary sources of Vitamin D. According to researchers M Wacker and MF Holick in their 2013 study Sunlight and Vitamin D: A Global Perspective for Health, Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an “increased risk for many chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes.” It’s also well documented that Vitamin D is critical for bone health and brain activity. And of course, as Certified Health Coach Hannah Stoffel reminds us, sun exposure “increases the production of serotonin, which is the happy hormone, so it helps to lower the rate of depression.”

So what are you waiting for? Get outside!


Benefits of Cooking for Yourself While on Vacation

7 Tips for Making Cooking a Fun and Relaxing Part of Your Vacation Routine

Summer vacation means keeping things simple and easy. Which for many, means very little to no cooking. But when it comes to what we eat, giving someone else or packaged convenience foods the power over what fuels us during this sacred time off can backfire if we’re not careful. With a little extra planning and a willingness to think outside the box, cooking for yourself can become an important and meaningful part of your next vacation. That’s why I’m taking a look at what those benefits are as well as 7 tips for making it a fun and relaxing part of your vacation routine.

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Healthy Action Step of the Day: Laugh

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Laugh more – A LOT more. Fitness Instructor, nutritional expert, mind-body serenity coach and author Adita Lang cites studies that show the average child laughs about 400 times a day where the average adult laughs 15. She says that we need those happy high endorphins kicking in to our bodies because that’s going to completely release stress and make us feel better. How much laughter do we need? Martha Beck, PhD says in The Joy Diet that the minimum number of laughs needed per day by adults is 30. Besides reducing stress, Gaiam cites researchers Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California as saying laughter does the following:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Works your abs
  • Improves cardiac health
  • Boosts T-Cells
  • Triggers the release of endorphins
  • Produces a general sense of well-being

So, make sure and fit in a big belly laugh today. Your overall health and wellbeing will thank you.


Healthy Action Step of the Day: Meditate

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 Turn everyday activities into a meditation or moment of mindfulness. Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now that we can do this by becoming “intensely conscious of the present moment.” How do we do this? He recommends taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it our full attention, so that “it becomes an end in itself.” Every time you chew a bite of food, really notice what it tastes like, smells like and how it makes you feel. “Be totally present,” as Tolle says. As you’re getting dressed in the morning, notice the feel of the material as you put it on, notice how it fits and how it makes you feel. As you’re chopping vegetables for dinner, feel the knife in your hands, notice how the vegetable slices and how it smells and feels.

While it’s great if we can carve out 10 – 20 minutes every day to meditate, remember that the end goal is to turn every moment into a meditation by being truly present in it. Tolle says, “There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.”

 



Healthy Action Step of the Day: Eat Your Veggies!

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Eat LOTS of veggies EVERY DAY. We all know we’re supposed to eat our veggies every day, but in reality, most of us don’t truly eat enough of these power-packed foods – often because we don’t really know how much we’re supposed to be eating.

Choosemyplate.gov says that women should be getting 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day with the following counting as one cup of vegetables:

  • 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup of vegetable juice
  • 2 cups of raw leafy greens

Keep in mind though – this should be your bare minimum for the amount of vegetables you eat every day. In his book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, Dr. Mark Hyman recommends that vegetables should be eaten at every meal. That’s where green smoothies for breakfast come in! In fact, Dr. Hyman advises that “Non-starchy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, broccoli and kale should make up 50 to 75 percent of your plate.” Vegetables provide us with the critical nutrients that our bodies need, so be sure and eat plenty of them. Besides, as nutritionist Megan Lacoste from SL/M Nutrition Coaching says,if you eat more healthy food, then there’s simply less room for junky foods.


Healthy Action Step of the Day: Freeze Leftovers or Make Ahead Meals

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Freeze leftovers or make ahead meals. This is by far one of the simplest ways to make sure you have healthy foods on hand and to save, or at least not waste, money. Even if it’s a single portion that you have left – freeze it. You never know when you’ll need just a single portion. Even if plans change, and you don’t end up cooking what you had planned, freeze the ingredients. Don’t let them go to waste. Once you’re in the habit of freezing leftovers, it becomes second nature and such a fantastic way to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to healthy eating. It also gives you an easy way to plan for nights that you know are going to be busy and just need something that you can thaw and reheat.

A couple of important tips when freezing leftovers or make ahead meals:

  • Unless you know exactly how you’re going to use it, freeze it in single servings. That way you don’t have to thaw four servings of food if you only need one or two.
  • Invest in containers, labels or baggies that you can write on and then write what the food is and the date that you’re freezing it.

For other great tips on freezing food, be sure and check out the following resources.


Healthy Action Step of the Day: Sleep

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Get 7-9 hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT. That’s right – not a couple of times a week, not just during the week or just on the weekend, but every night. Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Nicole Tolbert says that while the amount of sleep we need varies by individual, the general rule is seven to nine hours as being ideal. She cautions that even if you think that you’re one of those people who can operate on less, most people can’t operate optimally with fewer than six hours of sleep. Doing so can affect your ability to think clearly, decrease your attention span and ability to focus and decrease your reaction time and ability to make decisions. So, if you’re feeling run down, on edge, and simply not yourself, make it a priority to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night for a while, then see how you feel. It could truly change your life and your health or at the very least, your outlook on life.

For more on why sleep is so important, be sure and read more of what Nicole has to say in this article, 6 Tips For Better Sleep.