If you're approaching 50 years old you're at risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means your bones are weaker than they should be and puts you at increased risk for breaking bones, losing height and the health complications that can develop because of those. It's not too early or too late to start changing your lifestyle to improve your bone health even if you already have osteoporosis!
Make sure you're eating enough calcium by eating foods like:
green leafy vegetables
some fruits (oranges, papaya)
dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
fortified foods (some breads, cereals)
Mushrooms, egg yolks, fatty fish are all good foods to eat to boost your vitamin d.
Including resistance training and weight bearing exercises in your fitness routine will also help your bones remain strong. Avoid excessive alcohol, smoking cigarettes and be aware of conditions like anorexia and bulimia, inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease and certain other conditions that can increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Our mind is a powerful tool. Taking care of your brain is just as important as taking care of your heart but it's not as often spoken about. Many of the things you can do to take care of your heart also help you care for your brain. Exercise, sleep, avoiding too much sugar, eating fruits and vegetables, managing stress, drinking water, moderating your alcohol intake, taking vacations and having fun are all beneficial to your heart AND brain. There are a few specific diet changes you can make to help your brain stay in tip-top shape:
1. Eat plenty of healthy fat. Your brain is about 60% fat! Eating healthy fats that are found in foods like nuts, fish, olive oil, avocado, chia seeds, flax seeds can help maintain and improve how your brain functions.
2. Vegetables and fruits. Anything high in antioxidants is going to combat the free radicals that can cause impaired brain function. Be cautious with the amount of fruit you eat because although it's natural sugar, too much sugar from any source will work against you when you're trying to improve your brain health.
3. Choline. Foods high in choline are eggs, fish, whole grains, nuts...basically the foods that I've already told you are good for your brain. Choline seems to work similarly to B vitamins but scientists don't know the exact mechanism involved in helping the brain function.
4. B vitamins. There are several B vitamins that play many important roles in your body. One of their many important functions is nerve health. B vitamins are found in beef, fish, chicken, eggs and leafy greens.
Now you have the knowledge to eat for brain health! The good news is that brain health often correlates with overall health so it doesn't really add any layers of complexity to your lifestyle changes. Really just adds some extra motivation to make good choices!
One of the most important parts of our body is its defense against foreign invaders- the immune system. Your immune system is working all the time to find out which invaders are a threat and which are okay. The immune system is a complicated network of lymph nodes, stomach acid, blood cells, the spleen, thymus gland, bacteria in the gut, skin and more! Keeping all of these parts of the body in tip top shape could seem like an impossible task but there are some basic things you can be doing to make sure you can maintain your health the best you can. If you can focus on these few basic things you'll be well on your way to a strong immune system.
1. SLEEP 7-9 hours every night. This is the time your body can regroup its barriers and defenses for anything it may face the next day OR it can make an offensive attack on anything that may have snuck past the front lines during the day.
2. DIET- avoid sugar and processed foods. Sugar itself can impair an immune response for several hours. And building an army of immune cells fed with processed junk will put up a less fierce defense than an army of immune cells fed with lots of fresh produce as well as a good amount of protein and healthy fats.
3. MANAGE STRESS- meditate, clear your schedule, schedule time away, change jobs....whatever you have to do to lessen the stress. Stress creates an illness promoting environment in your body. Whether that be weight gain, heart disease, cancer or mental illness- stress contributes to all of it so do your best to get rid of the stress you can and handle the stress that can't go with tools and resources.
Focus on those few things and you'll be well on your way to bolstering your immune system with strength that can put up a good fight.
That title seems too good to be true doesn't it? Sleeping to lose weight. How dreamy! ;) Sleep can help you lose weight by allowing your body proper time to rest and repair itself. Your hormones balance, your stress levels lower and your body can make itself more efficient at using energy.
Cortisol is one of our body's stress hormones. It's released from your adrenal glands and plays an important role in how our body uses carbohydrates/sugar for energy. When you're in a life threatening situation, cortisol can make your body release stores of energy for immediate use and sharpen your brain. However, if cortisol remains high because of chronic stress it can contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain, high blood pressure, mental illness and more. When you are sleep deprived your body can release more cortisol than normal to help you stay alert and awake to function during the day. Having elevated cortisol levels works against your weight loss efforts.
Hunger hormones are also balanced when you sleep. Two of the big bosses of hunger and satiety are ghrelin (increases hunger) and leptin (increases satiety). When you sleep sufficiently these hormones are balanced. If you're sleep deprived you'll have more ghrelin and less leptin causing you to overeat and gain weight.
If you've been trying to lose weight but you're not sleeping enough you're working against yourself. Sleep 7-9 hours of sleep and not only will you improve you mental capacity to make healthy choices throughout your day, you'll also optimize your body's ability to lose weight.
One of the most underutilized tools you can use when trying to lose weight is accountability. Many people think it sounds like something that is an optional part of weight loss but don't realize actually how essential it is for their weight loss success. Having someone in your corner to hold you accountable can:
1. Make you more likely to make healthier food choices.
2. Give you someone you can go to when you're having a hard time or facing a difficult situation.
3. Help you keep your recipe ideas fresh by giving you new ideas.
4. Encourage you when you feel like giving up.
5. Provide expert advice when you feel stuck.
Research shows that people who participate in a structured weight loss program that holds participants accountable to their goals and provides them with resources like recipes, encouragement and expert advice lose more weight than women who don't have a similar program in place.
Now here's where you think I'll sell you what I've got to offer. Certainly I am well qualified to be your accountability partner but if you can't afford a health coach you can start with a friend or family member. The advice you get from them may not be as "expert" but you can still feel a sense of encouragement and support when you purposefully interact with this person about your weight loss goals.
If you use a friend or family member there are a few things you'll want to include in your accountability plan:
1. regular meetings- weekly at first and if you're doing well you could spread those out so this means the person that's holding you accountable needs to take your weight loss and health improvement as seriously as you are
2. regular communication- some kind of communication whether this text or email needs to happen every few days between your meetings
3. honest feedback- the person keeping you accountable needs to be able to tell you when you're not doing your best but also when you're doing a great job. Sometimes it can be hard to hear honest feedback from someone that's a friend or family member. Make sure you're keeping this in mind when choosing who you'll ask.
Remember, you can do this! Accountability will help you reach your goal with less frustration and more confidence. I would absolutely love to coach you through your weight loss journey. To find out more information about the coaching I offer, go here.
This recipe was simple to make and will last us a few meals. For the spicy seasoning mix I used this recipe to make my own cajun seasoning:
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons fine kosher salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
I put the extra spice mixture into an empty spice jar and labeled it "cajun seasoning" so it's easy to grab and use next time.
Are there foods that you just can't seem to resist? They call your name from the kitchen when you're at home or they entice you to stop and swing through the drive thru really quick while you're out?
Those may be trigger foods. These are foods that are usually high calorie, highly processed, have either high fat or high sugar content that are difficult to resist or moderate your serving size while you eat them. They require a large amount of will power to avoid eating.
If you haven't taken time to identify your trigger foods and what leads you to give in to those trigger food cravings you should take time to first identify the foods and then the situations in which you usually eat those foods. Then also think about how you feel before and after eating the trigger food and identify whether or not it actually is helpful for you to eat the food in any way. Does is help your mind feel better? Does it magically make your stress go away?
Chances are you probably have a very brief relief in stress from the pleasure hormones released while you eat the food and then shortly after you feel lethargic, have lower self esteem and a generally worse mood. So is giving into the trigger food craving really worth it? Nope! Think it through before you give into the craving.
If you haven't read this previous blog post about building a healthy meal yet, go read that post first and then come back to this one.
If you've already read about how to build a healthy meal this post is going to help you implement the FFP meal building method. Remember, each meal should have fat, fiber and protein. This helps regulate your hunger hormones and promotes weight loss. I created a list you can download of common foods that fit into the different categories so you can start building your meal and finding success in weight loss! The list is far from all-inclusive but it gives you an idea of how you can make meals using foods from the different categories and how you can look at a recipe and figure out which categories are used.
At the end of a long day the last thing you want to do is think about what you're making for dinner. After all, door dash is super convenient and mindless.
But, what if you already knew what was going to be for dinner and you were excited to eat the food?
I put together 10 dinner recipes that are delicious so the whole family will eat them AND they're healthy!