Mind

How to Relieve Stress

Feeling stressed?

Relaxation techniques are an incredible way to help reduce and manage stress. Relaxation isn’t just about peace of mind, breathing everything out, doing yoga, and just letting it go. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems, such as cancer and pain.

When faced with a busy work schedule, trying to maintain work/life balance, chores, and just life in general, practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Easing stress leavels
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Reducing activity of stress hormones
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration and mood
  • Lowering fatigue
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

Here are a few relaxation techniques to help you relieve stress:

  • Deep breathing
  • Spending time with positive people
  • Laughing
  • Time management
  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Music
  • Hobbies you enjoy

As you learn relaxation techniques, you’ll become more aware of muscle tension and other effects of stress. Once you know what the stress response feels like, you can make a conscious and prepared effort to practice a relaxation technique the moment you start to feel stress symptoms.

 Relaxation techniques are skills. As with any skill, your ability to relax improves with practice. Be patient with yourself.
You, Yoga, and Your Fitness

If you haven’t actually participated yet, you’ve probably heard or seen something about Yoga as it’s popularity in Western culture has skyrocketed in recent years.  I thought it would be fun to talk a little about the origins of yoga and why it might enhance your health and fitness regime.  Yoga is an ancient practice with origins beginning back thousands of years. It is designed to help with focus, peace, and serenity. The word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union’ and ‘union of the mind, body, and spirit.  Of the many choices available, there are those that focus on the athleticism with extremely fit people putting their legs behind their heads and curling up into awkward and difficult positions. There are also those which focus mostly on breathing and relaxation, and there is also everything in between those extremes.

Yoga has much more to offer than flexibility and the idea of obtaining a strong body. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can do yoga and adapt it to suit their individual tastes and needs – and this is one of the reasons why so many people (including myself) LOVE yoga!

If you think yoga isn’t for you, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

Here are several reasons why you should start doing yoga as soon as possible!

1. It’s an incredible workout for your mind, body, and soul.

Yoga is a fantastic workout for your body. You can adapt the practices to your own speed and level of comfort. No matter which yoga exercises you choose, the practices will always be part of a great workout routine.

2. Get in touch with your body.

Yoga stretches and exercises are designed around the idea of moving your body to increase its strength, flexibility, and durability. Doing yoga on a regular basis will get you more in tune with your body and know when something is really working and when it isn’t.

3. Improve your breathing technique.

Key to yoga practice are the breathing exercises which are incorporated into positions as well as on their own. The exercises encourage a focused and centered way of breathing, and eventually you’ll subconsciously learn to breath more deeply throughout the day.   These deliberate breathing techniques are a wonderful  stress-management tool and generally make you feel much better.

4. Improve your sleep.

Another benefit is that doing yoga can actually help you get better sleep.  You might even consider doing an after-work class since studies have shown that doing some light physical activity before our heads hit the hay can help us get off to sleep more quickly, which usually leads to a much better quality of sleep.

5. Improve your posture.

Yoga is effective at helping you develop proper posture, since a lot of the breathing and seated positions require a straight back for proper effect. Good posture is definitely going to develop during yoga practice.

6. Improve both physical and mental strength.

Yoga can also help you develop amazing mental and physical strength. The point of yoga is total body/mind awareness which can help you become more focused and present in your relationships and work.  The physical investment in the stretches and positions ensures that you’ll experience plenty of physical strength benefits as a result.

The breathing exercises can improve your lung capacity, and lunges and stretches can increase your core strength as well as every muscle you can think of. Yoga exercises force you to focus on the moment.

7. Yoga can enhance your meditation practice.

Meditation could be defined as focused awareness or reflection. The purpose of yoga isn’t necessarily to achieve every complicated pose under the sun, but to do your yoga practice with focus and thought.  When you apply this type of focused awareness in your yoga practice, it can become an opportunity to meditate on deeper things like spiritual principles that are meaningful to you.

Yoga can truly improve the  quality of your life by allowing time for  your mind, in union with your body, to process the complexities of life.

The practice make you feel less scattered, more focused, and even more aware of the positive events and feelings you might otherwise miss when your life gets too chaotic.

Incorporating yoga into your daily life is a great investment in yourself – you will be grateful you did.

To your best health and fitness . . .

Have a great skinny day!

Combatting Depression with Nutrition

Feeling down? Extremely down and wondering if you have depression?

Before making an appointment with your psychiatrist, you might want to consider to get lab work done under your regular doctor’s supervision and have your nutrition levels tested.  There are a wide variety of essential amino acids (healthy proteins) and essential fatty acids (healthy fats) that can create a much healthier chemical and physiological environment for your optimal emotional and psychological functioning.  Ultimately you and your doctor can determine the need for deeper medical or psychological evaluation but you may find that getting nutrition levels checked and addressing any deficiencies that could be the answer to achieving balanced emotional and  mental well being.

For optimal physical and mental health, make certain you are getting enough of the following in your diet:

Vitamin D
Are you getting enough Vitamin D? A lack of vitamin d has been linked to autism, dementia, and depression. Most people get less vitamin d during the winter months because sunlight is our greatest resource.  If sunshine is seasonally rare, vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and effective.

Omega-3’s

Omega-3 Fatty Acids help with memory and mood. In order to have optimal levels of Omega-3’s, eat plenty of salmon, tuna, halibut, flaxseeds, and walnuts. The nutrients help reduce inflammation and assist with brain function.

Vitamin B 

Studies show vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6 provide incredible health benefits, including healthy skin and nails, reducing stroke, and aiding with mental health. Your best sources for getting more Vitamin B in your diet are bananas, leafy greens, seafood, lean poultry, eggs, and clams.

Magnesium
Chances are you have a magnesium deficient diet, because many Americans do. Excess salt, coffee, sugar, alcohol, phosphoric acid (in soda), stress, and diuretics, all contribute to lower levels of magnesium. Magnesium is often referred to as a stress antidote, “the most powerful relaxation mineral that exists.” You can find magnesium in beans, greens, and seaweed.  You can also find some very absorbable types of magnesium in supplement form.

Amino Acids

Amino acids help our brains function properly – they are the building blocks of protein. When you have an amino acid deficiency, you may feel sluggish, unfocused, and depressed. Eat beef, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds for a healthier brain.

Zinc
Zinc is crucial to our bodies for many reasons. It activates our digestive enzymes which help us to break down our food and helps to prevent allergies (which helps with depression in some people because some of our moods can be triggered by food allergies). Zinc helps our DNA to repair and produce protein, and controls inflammation and boosts our immune systems. Foods high in zinc are grass fed beef, yogurt, lamb, chickpeas, cashews, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder, mushrooms, chicken, and spinach.

Iodine
Your thyroid needs iodine to work properly. Your thyroid affects more than you think, including your energy, metabolism, body temperature, immune system growth, and mental performance (concentration, memory, and more). When you aren’t getting enough iodine, you can begin to feel depressed. To enrich your diet with more iodine, eat shrimp, cod, seaweed and iodine enriched salt.

Iron
Iron deficiencies are quite common in women. The most common form of anemia which is an insufficient number of bloods cells, is caused by low iron levels. You may find you have depression, fatigue, brain fog, and irritability. To increase your iron, include red meat, poultry, liver, and fish, in your daily diet.

Depression is overwhelming and is a serious condition. Make sure you are eating right and getting the proper medical care you need to help combat it.

To your greatest mental and physical health,

Crystal

Small Changes to Improve Your Health

Sometimes the biggest changes we make start with small, subtle, shifts.

You don’t have to turn vegan, sign up for a boot camp, or do something that is radically different to make positive, healthy, changes.

Here are a few simple things you can do that will help you improve your health – and possibly barely notice the changes you are making!

  • Clean your fridge and give it a makeover! Stop hiding fruits and vegetables in drawers where you can’t see them. Instead, put them in clear containers, pre-wash them, and place them at eye level. When you feel the need to snack, you will find yourself looking at healthy, delicious, food choices. You will unconsciously make healthier decisions.

  • Breathe in, breathe out. Pay attention to your breathing throughout your day. Are you taking deep breaths? Taking deep breaths can be calming to your nerves.

  • Instead of going to a drive-thru on your lunch break, take a quick brisk walk. Your body shape will start to change, your legs will become more toned, and you will feel more energetic the last half of your workday. Plus going outside clears the mind and increases creativity.

  • Pick up some weights! You don’t have to bench press your weight to be healthy! Weight lifting will make you lean and if you’re a woman and weight lifting, don’t worry about bulking up too much . . . our hormones aren’t designed to make us bulk up as easy as it is for our male counterparts. Keep a couple of manageable sizes tucked under your desk or hidden next to the sofa.  Get in 10 reps at every commercial break!

  • Journal what you are eating! There are several apps you can use if you don’t want to physically write it down, to track the quality of foods you’re eating and how much exercise you are getting. Find one and use it. You may be surprised just how many calories you really are eating daily.

  • Tame your sweet tooth when you start craving dessert, cookies, or other high sugar, high calorie foods. When your sweet tooth goes into overdrive, grab a handful of raspberries or a small piece of dark chocolate instead.

  • Replace your morning coffee or soda with water. Think you need that caffeine boost to get you going? You don’t. Water will get your metabolism going and give you a wake up, leaving you feeling refreshed and energized.

  • Eat a lighter breakfast – put down the bagels and white starchy carbs and opt instead for fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, or boiled eggs. You’ll soon notice you aren’t feeling that mid-morning slump.

  • If you don’t like going to the gym and working out in front of others, find a workout that you can do at home or outdoors. Walking, gardening, swimming — there are so many options for you if you just want to exercise alone.

  • Wash your hands frequently to help control illness — both your own and the possibility of spreading it to others.

  • Get enough sleep and try to get the same amount of sleep every night so your body gets into a healthy rhythm.

  • Stretch your body and you will start to feel less achy throughout the day.
New Year Resolutions to a New YOU!

Here we are again, at the start of a brand new journey around the sun.  The new year doesn’t just bring us a new calendar, it also brings with it a great opportunity to begin again, start fresh, and try to improve on the years past.   Most of us think in terms of what we’ll do differently, goals we’ll set, things we’ll try to accomplish.

What I like to encourage my clients to do is to use this opportunity to not just do different but to be different.  If you’ve read Skinny Life, The Secret to Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Fitness, you’re familiar with the Skinny Life concept of creating a new identity to get what you want with your fitness goals.   At Skinny Life we start with the concept of changing on the inside before you can change anything on the outside.  As I always remind everyone, you’ll never have a “skinny” body until you have a “skinny” mind.    That’s the real skinny…the bottom–line truth!

At Skinny Life becoming fit and slim is not about being a particular size and shape, it is about becoming the best and healthiest version of you!   We were each created from a unique mold, so it’s about realizing the goal isn’t to look like someone else, its about discovering the best version of you– from the inside out.

When we focus on who we’ll be first, rather than what we’ll do, the results are remarkably different and the successes greater and longer lasting.  So how DO we become that fit, slim person inside?  The person who naturally honors their body, makes the right eating decisions, and integrates healthy movement and exercise into their lives?

Here are some tips that will bring you more lasting success and results:

  • Spend 5 minutes minimum each morning and before you go to bed each night in a quiet closed-eye state saying these three things: “I love that I’m becoming the best and healthiest version of myself.  I love that it’s becoming easier and easier each day for me.  I love that everyone around me is okay with my best health and fitness, and that I could inspire others to do the same.”
  • Focus on what to do more than what not to do. Pick 3 positive things you’ll do each day that reflect the new, fit, healthy version of you.  Things like:
    1. Ordering a lettuce wrapped burger with a side salad instead of fries.
    2. Leave 15 minutes early and your kids to school rather than driving.
    3. Picking different colors and varieties of fruits and vegetables to eat each day and noticing the beautiful varieties.

As you go through each day and the choices become easier, start adding more until pretty soon you’re doing what fit people naturally do!

  • Reject any negative self-talk. If you hear those old voices creep up telling you this is useless, you’ll never get it right, notice those thoughts immediately and realize they’re old recordings you need to stop playing in your mind.  Imagine you’re changing the channel and immediately affirm yourself and any positive change you’ve made, small or large.

Remember always, this is a journey, not a race to a finish line.  It is you living your life better and better each and every day.  The important thing is to never give up on yourself.  If you slip and fall one day, get right back up.  Remind yourself who you are as the new, fit, slim you and move forward again in a positive direction.

Wishing you the happiest new year—celebrating the new version of YOU!

Have a great Skinny Life Day!

Crystal

Snoozing — It’s Good for Your Health

If you want to live a healthier life, you have to stop ignoring your sleep.

Getting enough zzzzzzzzz’s a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle and benefits your mind, weight, heart, and more.
Not only does it make you feel better it also boosts your mood and lightens those dark under eye circles.

Here are some reasons why you should make getting enough sleep a part of your daily routine:

  • Your mind needs to rest. Think about how many things cross your mind throughout your day — it’s amazing how much our brains do and “think” through the course of an average day. Give it a little and must deserved break!
  • Trying to lose weight? Researchers have found that people who are well rested lose more fat than those who are sleep deprived, who lose more muscle mass.
  • If you find that you have a short attention span, it could be that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Sleep causes electrical change in our brains, so when we don’t get enough, we may find it difficult to be inattentive, more impulsive, and unable to focus on tasks for long periods of time.
  • Research has shown that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more sleep. Studies have also shown that people who get fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night increase their risk for heart attack.
  • Did you know that too little sleep has been associated with a shorter lifespan? Make sure you are getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night to improve the quality of “awake time” in your day.
  • Working out? Getting enough sleep can improve your workout and performance. You will feel less sluggish and have less fatigue — increasing your stamina!
  • Sleeping well also helps you to avoid irritability which can be a factor in depression. A night of good rest can help your mood and emotional health.

And one more tip for a healthy night’s rest:

Put down your cell phone when you lay in bed and actually get some good shut eye.

Happy zzzzzzzz’ing!

Change Your Self Talk – Change Your Life

Did you know it is possible to change your health and life with the words you say both silently and out loud?

A healthy mindset and healthy self-communication can make a huge change in how we behave.

So what are some things you can stop and start saying to yourself?

  • You don’t “earn dessert” (or pizza, or cheeseburgers, or a bag of potato chips). When we use food as a reward system and we tell ourselves we have earned a food we should be limiting or not eating very much of, we are teaching ourselves that food isn’t energy for our bodies. That is all food is — it’s energy and shouldn’t be used for punishment or rewards.
  • Stop telling yourself you will catch up on your sleep. You won’t. Your body needs to have adequate sleep every day, not just on the weekends. If you want your mind and body to work at full capacity you need to give it the rest that it deserves. Besides, getting enough sleep helps your heart, brain, weight, and help to prevent diabetes.
  • Did you set a resolution not to eat a specific food? Maybe you told yourself you won’t eat any french fries or drink soda. You find yourself confronting your favorite food that you promised to steer clear of and find yourself thinking “just this one time.” At this point it’s not about the food at all. You’re going to feel guilty after eating it and lose your confidence. You’re going to tell yourself you can’t stick to anything and start looking at yourself as a failure. So set yourself up for success. Instead of saying you won’t eat a particular food ever again, tell yourself that once a week, or a few times a month you can indulge in your favorite cheat food. Set yourself up to win — it’s healthy for your psyche and your body.
  • You won’t be happier when you lose 25, 50, or 100 pounds. Your happiness shouldn’t be measured by a number on a scale and neither should your self esteem and self worth. Do things NOW that make you feel happy, strong, and energized. Live in the moment . . . now. Yes, you will feel more energetic and more confident when you are healthier — but using weight as a means to live your life and control your happiness — it isn’t fair to who you are right now.
  • Instead of making excuses why you don’t have time to exercise, find ways to move your body. Walk during your lunch break, start doing yoga, life weights, do something — anything — to get your heart rate revved and your body burning calories.
  • You’re not on a diet. Instead, tell yourself you’re making healthier choices. The word diet alone conjures up feelings of deprivation and you don’t need to deprive yourself. You just need to make small, healthier, choices.

If you have some ideas you would like to share with us, feel free to comment below and share with our readers!

 

2017 Resolutions – Make This Your Healthiest Year!

Looking forward to a New Year and a healthier you?

You hold the pen to your 365 day chapter and you have the power to make your story play out how you want it to.

Need some help finding resolution ideas?
We have a few ideas for you!

  • Start meditating: Scientific studies show that meditating offers many benefits. Meditating reduces stress, lessens anxiety, improves mood, and even increases the old gray matter (brain) which is involved in muscle control, decision making, and self control. And once you start meditating, you will find it’s relaxing and easy to do.
  • Have a daily “Healthy Hour”: Devote one hour a day to YOU. You deserve at least 365 hours a year out of the 8,760 hours in 2017 for your health. It’s the least you can do for yourself.
  • Get outdoors more (weather permitting, of course): Walking outdoors or just spending time getting natural Vitamin D is a great way to boost your immune system, creativity, and happiness!
  • Drink more water: Flush your body of toxins and give your cells what they crave!
  • Journal: Some people write a business plan – write a health plan! Once you jot your ideas, goals, and wishes down, you will be more motivated to turn that plan into reality.
  • Stop procrastinating: it stresses you out when you have things that need to be done, and you never get around to doing them. Make this year more stress free by doing the things you promise yourself you will.
  • Begin a healthy hobby: Start walking with a friend, take a water aerobics class, do something that involves getting healthy and find someone you enjoy doing it with!
  • Eat less: There are many reasons why we should watch our calories. Obviously, losing weight is one of them because being overweight causes numerous health issues (diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and more).
  • Be gentler on yourself. You can’t make lifelong changes in a day. You will have days where you excel at your goals and days where you feel like throwing in the towel — but don’t. The longer you incorporate healthy habits into your life, the more likely they are to become second nature.
  • Smile more

What are some of the resolutions you have made for yourself in 2017? Comment below — we would love to hear them!

health

 

 

Maintaining a *Healthy* Attitude

Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?
Maybe you feel like you could just use a healthier attitude towards life, your career, and other factors.

It is possible to attain a healthier attitude when you have a healthy mindset.

Here are some tips on viewing life in a more positive way:

  • Stop beating yourself up for things you can’t change and things that don’t really matter. This doesn’t do you any good, and it can effect the people around you to. Dwelling on your faults won’t change or achieve anything.
  • Learn to deal with stress! Working out helps relieve stress, leaves you feeling a sense of accomplishment, and is great for your body!
  • Speak up! When we vocalize our emotions and feelings, it helps us work through them. Find a friend or confidant whom you can trust to share you feelings with — just talking with someone can be extremely calming and helpful.
  • Say goodbye to anger. Whether you’re angry with yourself, a co-worker, a family member . . . it doesn’t matter who, you are the person being weighed down with the anger, and they continue living their life stress free.
  • Eat healthy! When we eat healthy, we feel healthy, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Eat the right foods, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Your body, soul, and mind will feel rejuvenated and alive!

These are a few quick simple tips you can follow to start feeling more positive about life. I would love to hear some of the ways you stay more positive! Comment below and share with the community!

 

 

 

5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

It’s the season for family get togethers, office parties, holiday parties, and cheer!

With all of the tasty desserts, appetizers, and catering, it’s easy to push aside your healthy eating habits.

With a few easy to follow tips, you will be able to survive the holidays without seeing an increase on your scale.

  1. Start your day with a healthy protein and add some complex carbohydrates. This will have you feeling fuller longer and help you stay away from the office pastries. It will also provide you with more energy throughout your morning.
  2. Get up early, get moving, and get your blood flowing by getting your workout in first thing in the morning. This too, will give you more energy throughout your day! You will also be more likely to get your workout in if you accomplish it in the morning.
  3. Find ways to MOVE your body throughout your day! If you don’t have time to go to the gym, look for easy ways to work exercise into your daily activities. You can rake leaves, shovel the snow, clean windows, take the stairs, park further from the building you are going into — these small changes add up throughout the course of a day.
  4. It’s almost impossible to avoid all of the delicious temptations that seem to be everywhere around the holidays. Consider a little give and take when it comes to what you eat and exercising. Tell yourself if you have an extra cookie, that you will do 50 jumping jacks, or an exercise you feel comfortable doing.  Keep track on your phone of what you have eaten and make it a challenging game to play. This way you can still indulge in holiday cheer while staying true to your fitness regime.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up. It is difficult to stay on track during the holidays. The kindness and good cheer you are extending to others should also be extended to yourself. If you can’t make it to the gym, don’t beat yourself up. Be the best you can be. Be mindful of the foods you eat, and remember that balance is key to a healthy lifestyle during the holidays!