Best Bedtime Snacks

Bedtime Snacks

Foods to avoid or eat to ensure a good night’s rest

What do heartburn, trips to the bathroom, and insomnia have in common? They keep you from getting the quality sleep your body needs for optimal functioning. And they may all be caused by what you eat and drink in the hours before bed. Some foods hinder sleep while others actually promote it. It’s fine to have a small snack before turning in for the night as long as you’re smart about what you eat.

Here are a few of the worst and best foods to eat before bed.

Worst: Greasy, Fatty Foods

Wonder why you suffer from heartburn and indigestion as soon as you lie down? It could likely be that cheeseburger or bowl of ice cream you ate earlier in the evening. Extra stomach acids are produced to digest heavy, greasy foods with a high fat content and fatty foods weaken the esophagus muscles that are supposed to prevent stomach acids from backing up. These two factors combine to cause heartburn.

Keep heartburn at bay by avoiding fast food, ice cream, fried foods, and cheese before bed.

Best: Food Containing Melatonin

Melatonin, a chemical that helps regulate and promote sleep, is produced by your body and is also naturally found in certain foods. Many people take supplements of melatonin to help them sleep, but all they may need is to eat one of a melatonin-rich food before bed. Pineapples, oranges, and bananas increase the body’s production of melatonin. One study found pineapples to increase melatonin levels by more than 266 percent, bananas by 180 percent, and oranges by 47 percent.

Tart cherries are your best bet at natural melatonin. Can’t sleep or fighting jet lag? Chow down on a handful of cherries and rest easy.

Worst: Spicy Foods

Wonder why you can’t sleep after that delicious Indian food you ate for dinner? Spicy foods may cause heartburn, upset your stomach, and stimulate your senses, all of which keep you from a good night’s rest. Lay off the spice and your sleep will be nice!

Best: Food Containing Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts into serotonin and melatonin, two brain chemicals that help you relax and fall to sleep. Wonder why you feel so sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal? It’s tryptophan! Did your mother ever give you a glass of warm milk to drink before bed? Milk is high in tryptophan, too. Other sources include bananas, honey, eggs, seeds, and nuts.

Worst: Caffeine

For many people, avoiding caffeine before bed is a no-brainer. Caffeine is a stimulant, the last thing you need for a restful night. Coffee, caffeinated sodas, energy drinks, and dark chocolate—all high in caffeine—should be avoided in the four to six hours before turning in for the night.

Best: Complex Carbs

Other foods like turkey that promote production of serotonin are complex carbohydrates (whole grain crackers, cereals, pastas, and rice). Better yet, combine complex carbs with foods that contain tryptophan. A small bowl of whole grain cereal and milk or crackers and peanut butter are two options.

Worst: Foods High in Protein

Yes, your body needs protein. Just not right before bed. Protein is one of those foods that takes your body a long time to digest. Sleep slows the process of digestion even further. Your body may have trouble focusing on sleep if it’s working to digest a steak, pork chop, or chicken breast.

Best: Foods High in Potassium

Ditch the protein and go with potassium instead, as it helps your muscles relax. Foods like bananas and sweet potatoes are high in potassium as well as complex carbs, making them great bedtime snack foods.

Just Right

Both going to bed overly stuffed or hungry can disrupt your sleep, so eat a small snack of the right type of foods an hour or so before turning in for the night.

Stress – steps to manage

The Stressed Out Life

More than 75 percent of doctor visits are stress-related. Could stress be to blame for your ailment?

Stress is a normal part of life. Every day you face demands, pressures, and challenges you must deal with. The way your body perceives these stressors and reacts to them determines whether stress is positive or negative.

Positive stress, also called eustress, can be a powerful motivator to reach a goal, stay alert, or avoid danger. Negative stress on the other hand—also known as distress—can control you and affect your physical and emotional well-being when not kept in check.

How do you respond to stressors? Do you see them as challenges to overcome or as challenges overcoming you? What happens when you’re constantly in a state of distress and can’t seem to relax or escape what’s weighing you down? Read on to find out.

The Physical Side of Stress

It’s been proven that the mind-body connection is real. Mental anguish caused by chronic stress can exhibit itself in your physical health. What may begin as feeling overwhelmed at work or worried about a troubled relationship can easily translate into health concerns of your own to deal with.

Headaches, back or neck pain, dizziness, gastrointestinal disorders, frequent colds, arthritis, chest pain, asthma, ulcers, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, eating disorders, and weight gain can all be related to stress.

Does your child complain of a stomachache every morning before school? There may be something or someone causing your young student distress. Do you have trouble sleeping due to the worries on your mind? Before running to the doctor, take a hard look at what’s causing you tension and anxiety and deal with that issue first. It may give you the opportunity to solve your health dilemma without a copay or pill.

The Mental and Emotional Sides of Stress

Unmanaged stress can negatively affect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. How many evenings do you come home from work feeling frustrated, angry, or short-fused? You may need to check your stress at the door. Negative stress can also play a role in nervousness, the inability to concentrate, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, and irritability.

These emotions often lead to destructive behaviors and habits like substance abuse, overeating, under-eating, or social withdrawal. Get stress under control and you may avoid all of these negatives.

Steps to Manage Stress

Like stated before, stress is a part of life, so you’ve got to learn how to control it before it ends up controlling you. The longer stress goes unchecked, the worse its effects will be on both your mind and body. Sometimes stress doesn’t cause health or emotional issues, but it can make existing problems worse. If you’re suffering from stress-related issues, it’s time to take steps toward managing that stress.

The first step is to identify your stressors. Is it your mother-in-law, your boss, public speaking, or your messy house? Whatever it is, figure out the stressors and then make a plan on how to address the situation in the future. You cannot altogether avoid your stressors, so think of the best way to deal with them without being stressed out. Determine what would help alleviate your stress and work towards that end.

When you feel yourself getting stressed out, find healthy ways to release the stress before it builds up. Go for a jog, practice relaxation techniques, do yoga or Tai chi, take a hot bath, listen to music that relaxes you, do a hobby, spend time with a close friend, watch a funny movie, and get plenty of sleep.

Still feeling stressed? Make an appointment with a mental health professional who can help you identify your stressors and the most effective way of dealing with them.

Work It Out

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Exerting yourself through exercise increases your body’s production of endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for boosting your mood.

Diet or Exercise??

Diet Vs. Exercise:  Which has more impact on weight loss?

You know you need to eat the right foods and get regular exercise to lose weight. But when the thought of early morning workouts at the gym is overwhelming and the idea of counting calories is making you think twice about getting healthy, you may wonder, “Do I really have to do both? Could I only do one or the other and still see the results I want?”

What your question boils down to is this: Is diet or exercise more effective in the weight loss battle? Many people have asked the same question. Here’s the answer.

By a Landslide

For someone whose goal is to lose weight, diet is the clear winner. When it comes to weight loss, studies show that diet generally accounts for 75 percent of your success and exercise only pitches in 25 percent. This is good news. Think about it: it’s a lot easier to cut a few hundred calories in your diet each day than it is to burn the same amount with exercise. Would you rather skip that third piece of pizza or run a couple miles to burn it off?

One study of more than 700 people found that those who dieted and didn’t exercise lost 23 pounds in 15 weeks. Those who exercised without dieting only lost six pounds in 21 weeks.

This means it’s time to start taking your diet seriously if you want to lose weight. Watch your calorie intake and find a balanced diet plan that you can stick with for the long run. Yes, low-carb or crash diets will lead to fast results, but can you sustain such a diet for the rest of your life? Of course you can’t. So instead of crashing and burning, eat a diet that includes lean protein, healthy fats, whole-grains, fruits, and veggies and eliminate the junk.

If you cut enough calories, you’ll still lose weight even if you never set foot in a gym. Just don’t reduce your calories to an unsafe level. Women should eat at least 1,500 calories a day and men a few more.

It’s Still Important

Just because you can lose weight through diet alone doesn’t mean you don’t have to exercise. Physical activity is an essential part of health, long life, and weight management—not to mention faster weight loss. People who exercise in addition to eating a healthy diet lose more weight than those who diet alone.
Exercise not only burns calories, but it aids in weight loss in several other ways.

First, it’s an effective way to manage stress so you won’t be as likely to eat in response to your emotions. Second, it boosts your metabolism so you’ll burn calories more efficiently. Third, exercise builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Fourth, exercise helps your body lose fat, build muscle, and strengthen bones. Weight loss from diet alone often means a loss of bone density and muscle rather than fat. Lastly, people sleep better when they exercise. Since sleepy people are prone to overeat to stimulate their brains, working out regularly is your best bet against sleepy-time eating you’ll regret the next morning.

You may be tempted to lose weight through diet alone, but keep in mind the statistics for lasting weight loss through diet alone aren’t very hopeful. Only a small percentage of dieters are able to keep their weight off long term. Most find their weight constantly fluctuating as they go from one diet to the next. But those who use a combination of diet and exercise to lose weight have a much greater chance of keeping the weight off for at least a year.

Keeping It Fun

Exercise doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your life.

Is your goal a flat belly?

Goal: Flat Abs

The best exercises to tone and tighten your abdominal muscles.

Call it what you want: washboard, six pack, cut, or chiseled. What you desire are abs of steel. Defined, toned abs are a fitness goal for both men and women, and while belly fat can be tough to lose, don’t give up on those stubborn areas. Stick with your diet and exercise plan and you’ll be needing a smaller pant size in no time. Then, focus your attention on tightening and toning your abs with effective exercises like these.

The Plank

Think of a plank of wood: a flat piece of timber used for building purposes. That’s the shape you want your body to make. Get on the floor in push-up position, balancing on your hands and toes. (If you’re a beginner, get on your elbows and knees). Put your body in a straight line and keep your abdominal and glute muscles tight. Hold and breathe for as many seconds as you can.

You can also try the side plank. On the floor, balance on the side of your foot and your elbow, keeping your body in a straight line.

Crunch Variations

Tired of doing the traditional crunch? Try a reverse crunch. Lie on your back with your hands cradling your head. Lift your legs, bend your knees, and point your toes toward the sky. Tighten you abs and raise your tailbone and lower back off the floor. Lower back to the starting position and repeat.

A second type of crunch to try is the oblique crunch. Lie on your back and place your left hand on the left side of your head, your right hand by your side on the floor. Rest your feet on a bench or step. Lift your left shoulder and twist up until your left elbow touches your right knee. Do several reps and then switch sides.

The bicycle crunch is a third popular variation of the crunch. Lie on your back and lightly cradle your head with your hands. Bend your knees and bring your legs up so your lower legs are parallel to the ground. Now, lift your shoulders, being careful not to strain your neck, and start moving your legs in a pedaling motion as if riding a bicycle. As you bring your left knee up, reach your right elbow across your body to touch it. Now, extend your left leg and bend your right knee up, reaching your left elbow across your body. Continue alternating sides.

Side Bends

A third way to work your abdominal muscles is the side bend. Stand up tall with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell with your right hand, palm facing in. Rest your left hand on your hip. Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist to the right side. Hold. Then bend to the left side and hold. Switch the dumbbell to your left hand and repeat the movements. This exercise can also be done with a barbell on your shoulders or while siting on a bench.

Leg Raises

Another great way to build strong abs is with leg raises. Lie on the floor or on a flat bench and place your hands by your sides or under your glutes. Keep your legs straight or slightly bent, exhale, and raise your legs up until they’re perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and lower them back to the floor. Add intensity by holding a dumbbell between your feet.

Commit to a workout routine that includes 15 minutes of abdominal exercises three days a week and see the difference it makes. You’ll be swimsuit ready by the time summer rolls around next year!

No Machinery Necessary

Though there are a handful of ab-centric exercise machines out there, many of the best abdominal exercises require nothing but your body.

What is the POINT???

What’s the point of exercising regularly?
Well, I can give you 13 Reasons To Exercise!!!!

Let’s face it, some days you just don’t feel like exercising.

You get too busy, too stressed and quite simply too tired.

Here’s a list of 13 of the top reasons to exercise. Pull out this list and read it when you’re having one of those days.

1. To Prevent Disease
Exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of just about every single health problem known to man, from stroke to heart disease to cancer and osteoporosis. Exercise is also a great defense against type 2 diabetes, which is one of the most widely growing diseases of our time.

2. To Look Great
Exercise firms your body, improves posture and even makes your skin glow. Looking your best is a wonderful result of regular exercise.

3. To Lose Weight and Keep It Off
Exercise burns fat and prevents future fat storage. If you want to have a thinner, healthier body, exercise is the answer.

4. To Have More Energy
Anyone who exercises regularly will tell you that they are more energetic, less easily irritated and are more peaceful.

5. To Sleep Better
Exercise boosts energy levels, but also wears you out. It makes you feel more vibrant during the day and sleep better at night.

6. To Age Slower
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight aging. When you age your body loses muscle and bone, while the loss of both are drastically reduced with regular exercise. Exercise also helps reduce inflammation.

7. To Relieve Back Pain
In most cases, the best thing that you can do for back pain is to move and strengthen those muscles. Consult your physician or physical therapist for guidance.

8. To Ease Depression
Exercise has been proven to reduce depression – sometimes even as effectively as medication. Just chalk this up as yet another amazing benefit to exercise.

9. To Reduce Aches and Pains
By strengthening muscles around your damaged joints you’re able to use exercise to reduce joint pain and overall aches. Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program, especially if you have chronic joint pain.

10. To Stay Mentally Sharp
Exercise has been shown to improve memory and other cognitive functions, and seems to have a protective effect against dementia. A Harvard University researcher called exercise “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”

11. To Enjoy Your Lifestyle
Whatever it is that you love in life – your kids, travel, sports, fashion – it is all more enjoyable when experienced in a fit and healthy body. Exercise so that you are able to enjoy all the great things in life.

12. To Reduce Sick Days
People who exercise regularly are 50% less likely to call in sick to work. A regular exercise program reduces colds and upper respiratory infections.

13. To Boost Confidence
Being fit, feeling healthy and having energy are all building blocks to having great confidence. There is no better confidence booster than sticking with a regular exercise program.

Regular exercise gives you so many amazing benefits, as you’ve seen from the above list. Call or email me today to get started on the exercise program that will change your life forever.

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Habits – the ones that ‘make’ you

What are your habits? 
Do you eat the same thing for lunch, go through the same exercise routine, and fall into bed at the same time each night?Or maybe you’ve made a habit out of eating whatever looks good, avoiding the gym, and staying up as late as possible.John Dryden famously said, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

Confucius said, “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”

And Aristotle noticed that, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

It’s pretty clear that the habits you adopt will shape who you are.

When it comes to your body, the two habits that define your physique are your eating and exercise habits. In fact, everyone that you know who is in great shape has dialed in these two important habits.

If you aren’t happy with your body, then simply adjust your eating and exercise habits. Here’s how to adopt a habit:

Making a Habit
Use these seven steps to create a life-improving habit.

1) Decide on the ONE habit that you would like to develop. It’s tempting to pick up 3 or 4 healthy habits, but choosing just one new habit is realistic and doable.

Here are some healthy habit ideas:

  • Do not eat after 7pm each night.
  • Bring your lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
  • Exercise 4 times a week after work for 45 minutes each time.
  • Only eat fruits and veggies as your afternoon snack.
  • Get up early and exercise for an hour each morning.
  • Work with a personal trainer 3 times a week.

2) Write your new habit down on paper. Also include your 3 main motivators for developing this new habit, the obstacles you’ll face, and your strategies for overcoming these obstacles.

Here’s an example:

  • My new habit is to work with a personal trainer 3 times each week.
  • My 3 main motivators are 1) to feel confident in my bathing suit this summer, 2) to have more energy, and 3) to fit into my skinny jeans.
  • The obstacles I will face are 1) not having the energy to go to my session after work, 2) not having enough money to pay for sessions, and 3) not having my spouse’s support.
  • I will overcome these obstacles by 1) doing my workouts before work instead of after work, so I have more energy, 2) cutting down on frivolous spending to ensure that I can afford it, and 3) asking my spouse to join me so we can get in shape together.

3) Commit fully to your new habit, in a public way. This could mean posting it on facebook, or simply announcing it at the dinner table. Put yourself in a position where you’ll be embarrassed to give up on your new habit.

4) Keep track of your progress. You could keep a detailed journal or simply make a check mark on each calendar day that you successfully exercise your new habit.

5) Keep yourself publically accountable. This means either status updates on facebook or verbal status updates at the dinner table. Your friends and family are in a position to offer you support, so don’t shy away from those close to you.

6) When you fail, figure out what went wrong so that you can plan around it in the future.

7) Reward yourself for your success.

Once your new habit becomes second nature, usually in about 30 days, feel free to add a second habit by going through the same 7 steps.

I’d love for my fitness program to become your new healthy habit! Call or email now to reserve your spot. If losing weight is something you’d like to do this year, then call or email to set up a consultation. I’m the kind of person who LOVES to see clients like you achieve their goals! Call or email today and I’ll help get you started on a fitness program that will quickly transform what you see in that mirror.  Give us a call to get started TODAY!

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