If I’ve worked with you in a face-to-face setting, I’ve probably told you this story, but it’s worth repeating. So about 5 years ago I was hosting Thanksgiving. We had everything you’d expect of a Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pie and so on. Well one person in my family looked at the pie and said, “Well if I have that slice of pie, I’ll need to take a walk around the block”. Without thinking about it, I looked at the slice and said, well that slice probably has 600 calories in it, and the average man burns about 100 calories per mile, so you’d probably have to walk around the block like 30 times. I could see the look on their face… I totally just ruined that slice of pie. That was not my intention, and I apologized… it is sort of an occupational hazard. However, here is the point.
We Underestimate How Much We Eat and Overestimate How Much We Burn
The point is, unless you’re trained in nutrition you will almost always underestimate the number of calories you’ve eaten and almost always overestimate the calories you burned. We can consume calories exponentially faster than we can burn them. The other problem is here in the United States we largely suffer from food dysmorphia, meaning from a visual standpoint we have an inaccurate perception of how much food we should have. For example, a portion of mashed potatoes should be about as much as you can fit in a cupped hand but most of us will have a portion more like the size of our fist. A serving of turkey should be the size and thickness of our palm. A serving of gravy the size of our thumb, and our vegetables the size of our fist.
Strategies For the Holidays
Of course, it is not lost on me that Thanksgiving is a holiday where we historically overeat. In fact, we typically overeat at every holiday. What I would say to that is come up with a couple strategies that allow you the enjoyment of taste without going overboard. For example, you can try to eat lighter throughout the day to make up for what you’ll be consuming later. You can also eat something before you go to the holiday event, so you aren't so hungry that you're compelled to over-eat. Another strategy is to eat one serving, have 16 ounces of water, wait 10 minutes then if you're still hungry have another serving. If you can make it through the holidays without gaining weight that’s a victory and I’ll tell you why.
Why Maintaining Your Weight During the Holiday Season is a Victory
Weight gain and obesity have long been a multi-faceted issue but holidays play a significant role. It is estimated that people gain 1-2 pounds per year from early adulthood through middle age. So if you’re 150 pounds at 20 years old you’ll likely weight 170 by 30 years old, 190 by 40, 200 by 50. These are only averages, and I use them to illustrate the following point. It stands to reason that this 1-2 pounds of weight gain likely happen largely over the holidays and holiday season. It might not be Thanksgiving alone. It may be the combination of left over candy from trick or treat, Christmas cookies, baked pies during fall, apple cider etc. However, if you can keep your weight level through the holidays it’ll go a long way to maintaining your weight over the long term.
Examine How You Think and Feel About Strategically Restricting Your Food
While strategies go a long way, it should first be noted that strategies only work if you use them. Often, we side-step these strategies, or give ourselves “exeptions” because we don’t want to deprive ourselves. So, if you feel like you’re depriving yourself, you may want to ask yourself why you feel that way, and what might a good compromise look like? It's all about priorities. If you really want the desert perhaps go without the mashed potatoes or some other dish. If we are a slave to our desires we can never truly be free. Let me close with this. I’ve never heard of anyone on their death bed saying… if they had to do it again, they’d eat more pie. Typically, what people wish for at the end is more time with loved ones, or having traveled more, or having mended broken relationships. Therefore If you want more time with those you love, and you want it to be quality pain-free time, it is absolutely crucial you take charge of your health and fitness. There will always be another pie… but you may not always have another holiday to spend with those you love, and isn’t time with those we love the very foundation of what holidays are all about?
Ok so maybe you’re a former athlete or prior military, or perhaps you just miss those glory days when you felt good and you felt like you looked good. Now you’re looking in the mirror and saying “how did I get here?”, “how did I let my health get to this point?” Maybe it has nothing to do with what you look like, but you found yourself huffing and puffing walking up the stair and you thought “I used to be an athlete now I’m struggling with steps”. If you’ve experienced any of that you’re not alone. It’s easy to lose track of your health and fitness especially after high school or college. You have a career, maybe children and any number of responsibilities that continue to take priority over proper nutrition and exercise. However, you’re now recognizing your health and wellness needs to be a priority. If you’ve had that epiphany, you just made a giant leap towards change.
There’s a difference between knowing you need to do something and accepting you need to do something. Once you’ve accepted it, setbacks won’t cause you to quit because you realize health and wellness are a journey not a destination. The next thing I recommend wrapping your head around is accepting that there will be days when you’re running late, don’t have the energy for a good workout, you're stressed, and it is on those days that even doing what appears to be a lame workout is actually not just a victory but is necessary. You see when you perform a lame workout it may be true that you did little to move toward your fitness goals physically. However, that workout serves as a place holder in the habit continuum. In other words you strengthened the habit and your mental/emotional state by going through with it. Even if you dramatically reduced the intensity, even if you were so late that you showed up and only walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes because that’s literally all you had time for. Why? Because when you show up for those albeit lame workouts you still went, and if you’ve ever skipped a day working out you know how much easier it is to miss the next one. Think about it. How many times have you skipped a workout and that one skipped workout turned into two, three, four or more?
So getting back to your former glory starts with truly accepting that your fitness journey is life long. The second step is to accept that sometimes the workout is more about the habit than it is about fitness. Each time we choose to stick to our workout schedule the stronger mentally we get. In the beginning it is mentally painful… maybe even more than it is physically. However, over time you’ll become so mentally strong that it’ll just become something you do. You’ll reach a point where you don’t associate any pain with going. Once you’re at that point, you can then apply the same mental strength to developing proper nutrition (if you hadn’t already).
Children and adolescents needs vary based on maturation of the youth. It is important to note that this group is important to focus on due to the developmental stages of the human body. In training youth there is no set minimum age but as a rule of thumb it is accepted that most 7 and 8 year olds are ready for participation in some form of structured exercise or sport.
Basic Exercise Guidelines:
“Gut health” relates to the function and balance of bacteria in some parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Optimally, organs like the esophagus, stomach, and intestines all work side by side to allow us to eat and digest food without feeling any discomfort.
However, there are more than 70 million people in the U.S. struggling with digestive diseases. The food we consume is broken down in our guts, where it is turned into nutrients, ready to enter our bloodstream. Yet, this won’t be possible if we have an unhealthy digestive system.
A healthy gut contains immune cells and healthy bacteria that fight infectious “pests”, such as viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Having a healthy gut is extremely important for our general health and well-being because it communicates with the brain with the help of nerves and hormones.
But how do you know if you have an unhealthy gut?
Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut:
Some autoimmune conditions are:
Other signs of an unhealthy gut are:
The microbiome within the gut is created from trillions of bacteria, other microbes, and fungi. It plays a major role in our general welfare because it helps controlling digestion and benefits our immune system
A disproportion of healthy and unhealthy microbes within the intestines might lead to obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other disorders. We suggest eating a wide assortment of fruits and veggies to help support the growth of healthy microbes in your gut.
A healthy gut is important for maintaining a balance in our body and its proper functions.
Immune cells and healthy bacteria have a vital role in our body because they are connected to the brain.
We hope you understand how important it is to keep your microbes and healthy bacteria under control, for your overall wellbeing.
In part 2 of this article series, we’ll tell you the fundamental, actionable tips to instantly implement in your daily life and make your gut happy!
A workout for the sole purpose of physical exercise can only have limited health benefits. It can help you stay fit to some level and boost your serotonin levels to some points.
When you add mindfulness into your workout however, it becomes the secret ingredient to overall well-being, including physical and mental health.
Before we move on to the positive effect of mindfulness on your workout, let's explain what a mindful workout is. What is a Mindful Workout? Mindfulness is part of a holistic approach to wellness and fitness. It helps you understand better what is happening in your body and enabling you to learn and improve your physical and mental wellness. A mindful workout is made complete by incorporating all you have gathered from your senses. By leaving your headphones at home you can become aware of every breath and every sensation in your body.
Mindfulness during a workout means being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, potential discomfort, and the sensations in your feet while they touch the ground. It helps you truly experience every second of your workout and get the most out of it.
Let's take mindful running, for example, to describe the benefits of a mindful workout.
By being concentrated on your mind and body, mindfulness reduces external distractions. Therefore, you are more relaxed, without thinking about your speed, distance, personal records, etc.
By maintaining internal focus, you are ready to overcome your limitations. But, because you are focused on the sensations in your body, the injuries are less likely to happen. You'll notice the signs of discomfort and expand your limitations.
How to Do Mindfulness Running? The first thing to remember when practicing mindful workouts is to breathe through your nose. Mouth breathing is part of the stress-induced changes in your breathing, so nose breathing helps you relax and get into the right mood.
Mindfulness is all about the mind-body connection, so try to keep the inner conversation with your body. Let go of the social expectations and social distractions, timings, tracking devices, points, or anything similar, which can shift your focus from internal feelings to external activities and objects. Don't measure time and think about the technique.
Before you start your workout, prepare for the mindful experience. Do a quick meditation to get out of the state of stress and prepare for the next activity. Five or ten minutes of deep breathing and mindfulness exercises will be enough to get you in the right state of mind for your workout.
Once you've done the prep work, it is time to engage your focus on your sensations and mind. Start slowly and listen to your body to adjust your pace. Check for the physical sensations as you speed up or slow down.
If your heart and breath rate speed up, feel the warming up in your body, the heart beating in your chest, experience every sensation in your muscle. Maintain that state of mind and internal focus, but try not to think about the sensations, just feel them.
What about Your Thoughts? Once you maintain the awareness of bodily sensations, focus on your mind. Stop replaying situations and scenarios in your head, and use running (or any other workout) as a time to express gratitude for your physical health.
If you feel like your thoughts are getting out of control, focus on breathing. It will help you calm dow and gain control over your minfulness. Don't think about the end line, feel every step and movement. Slowly, you'll increase your abilities and enjoy your workouts more!