It Doesn’t Matter How You Start – Just FINISH!

One of my favorite things to do is to watch Ironman triathlon events on YouTube. I can sit for hours watching old episodes of Ironman Kona, Ironman Xterra, Ironman Auckland, etc. Without doubt this is one of the hardest athletic competitions on the planet. These athletes complete a 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run over the course of 17 hours!! That is INSANE!

ironmanfinishI enjoy watching this sport because I get so captivated and inspired by the sheer determination of everyone out there. Of course the elite athletes start out first and they typically finish within 8-9 hours. But it’s the regular folk who inspire me the most.

They all start out motivated and are propelled by their excitement. But after a few hours in, it takes a lot more than that to get them to the finish line. Some sprint across the finish line, some jog, some walk, some crawl, and some just pass out at the finish line. But guess what? At that moment nobody cares that they barely finished or that they finished at the last second. They are not judged because they didn’t have a perfect, storybook finish.

Let’s not forget about the people who continue their race long after the clock has run out. There are many people who compete in Ironman who don’t make the midnight deadline. Nevertheless, they keep going – despite injury and fatigue- because they are determined to finish what they started. That is what really inspires me. Those are the people I remember, even more so than the elite athletes who finished in record time.

The moral of the story is - It doesn’t matter how you start. What matters is that you finish.

As 2014 continues to wind down there are many of us who have yet to achieve the health and weight loss goals we set when the year began. At the writing of this blog there are 70 days remaining in this year.

If you haven’t met your goals, I don’t want you to get discouraged or feel convicted. Forget about how many times you’ve fallen short this year in areas you wanted to see progress. Let all of that go and begin where you are. You can get back on track TODAY. Let’s commit to FINISH STRONG!

Here are some things you can do to finish strong:

  1. Make the decision to begin again. The great thing about life is that every day it gives us the opportunity to start over. Every 24 hours we get a second chance. Once you set your mind to do this it’s as good as done.
  2. Set some goals and make them plain. Be specific about your goals. Don’ make broad goals and just say you want to lose weight. Attach a number and a date to it. For example, “Lose 10 pounds by November 30th.” If you don’t like the scale, just say “Drop 1 dress size” or “Lose 2 inches from my waist.” Just be very clear about your goals.
  3. Devise a plan.  We’ve all heard it said – “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Plan your meals and your workouts. As you plan your meals, include when you will go shopping for your meals, what time you’re going to eat, what time you’re going to stop eating every evening, etc. When you plan your workouts, include what type activity you will do, how often, and for how long.  So, for example – “run for at least thirty minutes three times per week.” Get your plan in writing and keep it before you. Post it in plain sight so you see it every day.
  4. Schedule it on your calendar. What I put on my calendar tends to get done. Schedule your meals and your workouts on your calendar. You can put this in your phone and set a reminder to alert you of your appointments. You may not always make every appointment, but having it on your calendar increases the probability that it gets done.  Be a boss – bosses don’t cancel. Your time is valuable – treat it as such.
  5. Get an accountability partner.  Most people tend to do better on any plan when they know they have someone to answer to; someone to hold them accountable for their actions. Select someone who you know is a task master and will keep you on your toes. Select someone who won’t accept any excuses for not getting it done. Accountability partners are especially helpful if they are your workout partner. If you tend to skip workouts, get a buddy. You will go to the gym or run in the park if you know someone else is expecting you to show up.
  6. Don’t stop until you reach your goal. Successful people don’t stop when they’re tired; they stop when they’re done.  Be just as determined as the Ironman athletes. They don’t allow anything to come between them and their goal of completing the race.

So, no matter where you are with your goals, commit to get back on track and stay there. Be determined and committed to end 2014 with a bang…FINISH STRONG!

Question: Which of your goals do you need to recommit?

Carbs are NOT the Devil!

breadslice

When most people decide they need to drop a few unwanted pounds the first thing they usually do is lay off the carbs.  I must admit I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing a time or two. I think it was sometime in the 90′s that carbs became the enemy of the american diet – at least as far as weight loss was concerned.

Well, I’m a big advocate of living simply and practically. It’s the premise for which my blog was created. I wanted to teach people to live healthy lives by implementing practical strategies. It’s never necessary to go to extreme measures to lose weight. Ultimately, those quick fixes don’t last because they are not sustainable. To consume high protein low/no carb diets don’t work in the long term.

Here’s the thing – our bodies need a combination of nutrients to survive. In particular, our bodies need macronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts.

The three most common macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that we need in the largest amounts. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes published by the USDA, 45% – 65% of calories should come from carbohydrates.

So this is why when people go on low carb diets they have very little energy and find it difficult to be productive. Carbs provide us with a valuable supply of energy.

Here are the main reasons why the majority of our calories should come from carbohydrates:

  • Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel.

  • Carbohydrates are easily used by the body for energy.

  • Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain, the muscles (including the heart) to function properly.

  • Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy.

  • Carbohydrates are important in intestinal health and waste elimination.

Most people associate carbs with higher calorie foods like sugar and starches, especially bread and potatoes. But those aren’t the only sources. All carbs are not created equally. Simple carbs provide less nutritional value than complex carbs.

Simple Carbs are found in foods like table sugar, brown sugar, molasses, jelly and jam, fruit drinks, soft drinks and candy.

Complex Carbs are found in foods like green vegetables, sweet potatoes, corn, lentils, beans and peas.They are also found in whole grains and foods made from whole grains like oatmeal and whole grain breads.

So if you are trying to lose weight and want to cut back on carbs, just choose wisely. You want to exclude the starchy, high sugar foods. You want to include more of the energy producing complex carbs.

Here are some final tips:

1. Don’t consume all of your carbs in one sitting; spread them out over small portions so you can keep your energy high and body fueled.

2. It’s best to consume carbs in the morning when your body is calorie-deprived from sleeping. Your glucose tolerance is typically at its highest during the morning, so having breakfast with a big portion of your daily carb intake is very important. Complex, slow-absorbing carbs like oatmeal are great choices for a delicious, nutritious breakfast.

3. Don’t eat carbs in the evening because most people aren’t doing any physical activity at that time. Consequently, your body won’t burn the carbs you consume, and those carbs will more likely be stored as fat.

4. Your complex and fibrous carbs like legumes, whole grains, and veggies should be spread out evenly throughout your meals. That means you should eat veggies with all of your meals except breakfast.

So, now you know why carbs aren’t the devil. If consumed properly, and in the right proportion, they can be your friend.

Reference Links:

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm

http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/carbs_versus.html

8 Superfoods to Prevent Breast Cancer

Superfood

As you know it’s national breast cancer awareness month. Every year this time I feel obligated to devote space in my blog to this important issue. First of all because I’m a woman. Unfortunately, one in eight women will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Secondly, several people I know and love have been directly affected by breast cancer. In some way, we’ve all been either directly or indirectly affected by it.

It is estimated that each year more than 220,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die. This is one of the most disheartening statistics for me because research indicates that many women don’t have to die. Despite the large amount of women diagnosed every year, more women are surviving.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990. This is partially attributed to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

Another factor that impacts breast cancer diagnoses is prevention. There are are several simple recommendations to help prevent breast cancer, including nutrition.

So, I want to share with you 8 Super Foods to Prevent Breast Cancer:

  1. Tomatoes – Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can prevent the development of breast cancer by stopping cancer cell growth. A study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism indicates that a diet rich in tomatoes may help protect postmenopausal women from breast cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, lycopene also stops tumor growth by interfering with abnormal cell growth. To enjoy the benefits, you can eat cooked, concentrated or processed tomatoes. However, the best option is to drink a half glass of tomato juice daily.

  1. Garlic -Studies have found that the sulfur compounds, flavones and flavonols present in garlic help in preventing breast cancer. To get the most benefits, peel and chop the garlic cloves and let them sit for about 15 minutes before cooking. You can also crush and swallow a piece of garlic every morning to increase your chance of living a cancer-free life. However, people on blood thinners and certain other medications should talk with their doctor before taking garlic supplements.

  1. Flaxseed – flaxseed and flaxseed oil are among the few sources of the essential omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which forms a protective shield against cancer cells responsible for breast cancer.

  1. Spinach  - spinach contains the antioxidant lutein that plays a key role in guarding against breast cancer along with mouth, esophagus and stomach cancer.

  1. Broccoli –broccoli contains cancer-fighting compounds known as indole-3-carbinol that help alter estrogen metabolism and suppress breast tumor cell growth. Eating one-half cup of broccoli daily can help protect against breast cancer. Raw broccoli supplies more health benefits than cooked broccoli.

  1. Blueberries —  blueberries are power-packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can aid in breast cancer prevention. The phytochemicals present in blueberries work together to prevent the growth and spread of various forms of breast cancer.To reap the most benefits from blueberries, eat them fresh instead of the packaged versions.

  1. Pomegranate – pomegranate contains natural compounds like urolithin B that suppress estrogen prevent the growth of hormone-responsive breast cancer tumors. Plus, it is packed with polyphenols like ellagic acid with antioxidant properties that reduce the effect of estrogen in promoting the growth of breast cancer.

  1. Walnuts – Walnuts contain many helpful nutrients which help your body fight inflammation and actually slow down the growth of breast cancer tumors. Marshall University researchers suggest that eating about two ounces of walnuts a day may help change the activity of multiple genes that contribute to breast cancer, thereby reducing the risk of breast cancer.

So, these are just a few simple foods you can incorporate into your diet to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer. If you are a regular follower of my blog, then you know I’m a huge advocate for using food as medicine. Hippocrates – the father of western medicine – said it best - “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

Reference Links:

http://www.top10homeremedies.com/superfoods/10-superfoods-that-prevent-breast-cancer.html

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

 

Forget the Fad Diets – 4 Easy Steps to Get Fit FAST!

Get Fit FAST labelSummer is officially over and we’ve entered the fall season. As the temperatures are getting cooler I’m already starting to crave warmer, more comforting foods. I was recently thinking I need to become proactive with my eating and workouts in preparation for the cold months ahead. The goal is to avoid the extra weight I typically put on in the winter. That’s when it dawned on me that all year I’ve been trying to lose the “extra weight” I gained last year. I feel like it has been a year of ups and downs with my weight. So, it got me to thinking. I had to ask myself – “why is that?” I feel like I keep losing and regaining the same five pounds.

I’m a health coach and fitness instructor, so this should be easy, right? I know how to lose weight. The truth is, we all do. When it comes to losing weight we all know what to do.  Take in fewer calories, and workout more. It’s not rocket science. But weight loss is about so much more than what we eat and how much we work out. Food is the most abused drug. It’s our comfort when we’re lonely, our companion when we’re bored, and our reward when we’re successful. We have to learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food in order to achieve long term weight loss success.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all the ups and downs. I want balance. I need it. My weight fluctuations have been a reflection of my inability to gain balance in my life. I know if I’m having a problem, then others can relate to it too.  That’s why I often use my life experiences – the good and the bad- as a catalyst to help others.

The solution for me has been to design a plan for myself that I can do no matter what. I’m not into fad diets and quick fixes. They only work for a season. Ultimately, I always end up in the exact same place I started – trying to lose the same 10 pounds. So, I had to come up with a way to manage my weight without feeling deprived and like I’m always dieting. The key to success in any program is that it’s sustainable. Plans that are really restrictive are difficult to sustain.

That’s how my recent eating plan came to be. I wanted to create a system that is simple and will produce results. I developed a Get Fit FAST approach. It’s a 21- day jumpstart program. It’s designed to help people incorporate healthy habits into their busy life without it being a disruption. It focuses on simple strategies that can be easily implemented. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle plan.

The best part of this plan is it goes beyond eating and working out. The group coaching aspect really helps you identify self- sabotaging habits that have prevented you from achieving consistent, sustainable weight loss in the past. That’s really the beauty of this program. We go beyond the surface.

The FAST approach is 4 steps:

Step 1 – Eat FRESH foods at every meal.

Step 2 – Make sure your foods are ACCESSIBLE.

Step 3 – Make sure the ingredients of your food are SIMPLE.

Step 4 –Make sure the food is TASTY.

Other components of the program include a nutrition plan, a fitness plan and group support. When people have a support system and accountability for their actions they tend to do much better.

It’s also a virtual program. You can do it from anywhere. Location is not a factor.

If this sounds like a plan for you and you’re ready to make a change I encourage you to join us for the next challenge that is kicking off on October 1st. The registration deadline is Monday, September 29th.

If you’re really ready to end the cycle of yoyo dieting in your life and make life long changes, you should REGISTER now.

So here’s my question: What do you think has prevented you from accomplishing your health goals?  

Are You Ignoring the Signs That It’s Time For Change?

If we know the the one constant in life is change, why do so many of us resist it?  No matter what state your life is in at this moment – good or bad – it will eventually change. What’s bad will get better and what’s good will get worse.

changesame

The best way to deal with change is to embrace it, and whenever possible, get ahead of it. When it comes to our health, our bodies will usually indicate that change is happening. Before a woman enters menopause, she’s had signs years in advance that it’s happening. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, they’ve usually experienced some warning signs – high blood pressure, numbness, frequent urination, blurry vision, etc.

These are the changes we need to embrace sooner. Unfortunately, what I’ve come to realize is many people go into denial – too often to their detriment. Everyday I encounter people who have serious health problems. What’s disheartening to me as a health coach is how few people are motivated to deal with it. Instead of dealing they choose to ignore. When it comes to your health, ignoring it or denying it won’t make it go away. If you don’t change what you’re doing,  your condition won’t stay the same. It won’t get better. It will get worse.

One of the most thought provoking questions I pose to my clients is this – what’s at risk if you do nothing? If you do nothing about your pre-diabetic or high blood pressure diagnosis what do you stand to lose?

I understand that many people feel overwhelmed and often afraid when they hear bad news. What I try to stress to people is there are things you can do to get control of this. Most health issues can be controlled or reversed. You don’t have to spend your life on medications. You can usually change your condition through nutrition.

Look at it this way, if you have the choice between being on medication for the rest of your life or improving your nutrition – what would you decide? It seems like a no brainer, but too often it is not. Instead of sacrificing a few favorite foods or getting up a little earlier to workout, a lot of people choose to remain the same. They end up taking medications. After taking medication for an extended period of time some people become deceived into thinking the problem is handled. At least for now, most medications don’t cure diseases – they temporarily reduce symptoms and reduce pain. It’s like putting a bandage on a gun shot wound when the patient really needs surgery. The bandage will hold up for a little while, but unless something is done to improve the patient’s condition, the problem will get worse.

For some people it’s difficult to comprehend that changing your eating habits can change your health. Well, it’s true. Hippocrates – the father of western medicine said it best - “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

Evidence shows that following a plant based diet can prevent – and in some cases – reverse major health issues. Even if you don’t become a vegan or vegetarian you can still incorporate more plant based foods into your diet.

Here are three simple things you can do:

  1. Eat fresh foods at every meal. Get rid of processed and canned foods. Don’t eat green beans in the can, buy fresh green beans. Don’t buy frozen broccoli with cheese sauce. Instead, steam your fresh broccoli crowns in veggie broth; you can even roast them in the oven with olive oil. Add blueberries or strawberries to your oatmeal or cereal in the morning. Have a big green salad with your dinner or for dinner.

  2. Drink green juices/smoothies. Avoid the bottled versions from the grocery store and make your own. There are many simple recipes. Just choose a few leafy green veggies you like, add a banana, apple or pineapples to sweeten it, and blend them with water.

  3. Reduce your meat consumption. Let there be one day of the week that you don’t consume any animal protein. Have a meatless Monday.

These are just three simple things you can do to add more plant based foods into your diet. They are small changes, but will have a big impact if you do them and if you’re consistent.

So, I want to ask you again – What’s at risk if you do nothing about your current condition? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments.

A Different Kind of Triathlon – A “Mindful Triathlon”

If you are a regular follower of my blog then you know I completed my first ever triathlon back in July. It was the most challenging and exciting thing I’ve done so far this year. Well, I’m getting ready to participate in another triathlon. This one is much different – it’s a “Mindful Triathlon”.

Photo by Jake Laub for Wanderlust Festival

Wanderlust Festival

I know that sounds really weird, but that’s what it is. Instead of the swim, bike, run events that are customary for a traditional triathlon, the Mindful Triathlon events include a 5K run, meditation and yoga.

It’s part of the Wanderlust Festival. This one day event has been taking place in urban parks across the country. Upcoming events are scheduled for Brooklyn NY, Austin Texas, Hawaii, and later this month it’s coming to Atlanta.

I had the pleasure of talking to one of the lead yoga instructors for the event. Nora Honarvar from Tough Love Yoga studios shared some insights about this unique event and what we can expect. Please click on the image below to watch the interview.

mindfultriathlon

Wanderlust 108 will be held at Piedmont Park in Atlanta on Sunday, September 28th. Please visit the event website at www.wanderlust.com for registration information.

Now, I have a question for you - What do you think of this concept of a mindful triathlon?

*The photo featured in this blog is by Jake Laub for Wanderlust Festival.

** The photos featured in the video are by Stewart Noack, Daniel Craig, Amy Hart, and Vincent Tran for Wanderlust Festival. 

Are You Listening to What Your Body is Saying?

Whether you are a mechanic or not, we all know when there is something wrong with our cars. It may make a funny noise. It may drive differently. And if we still don’t pay attention to the signs, a light will eventually come on to alert us we need to take it into the shop. I thank God for my maintenance lights that come on when I need an oil change or my tire pressure is low.

Well, just as it is with our cars, our bodies are machines that are designed to do the exact same thing. If you have ever received a life altering diagnosis from your doctor there were signs along the way. You felt it or noticed it.

ladywithfingersinearMost people always know when something is wrong with them. They may not always attend to it – usually due to fear – but they usually know. They just choose to ignore the signs.

Our bodies are always talking to us. God designed them that way. It tells us when we need to go to the bathroom, when we need to rest, when we need to get up, when we’re thirsty, when we’re hungry. It ALWAYS tells us what we need to do.

By the same token our bodies will also tell us what we need to eat. Unfortunately, many people are too controlled by their cravings to notice. They’re so accustomed to responding to cravings, that they don’t really know what their body needs.

Here’s some good news – you don’t have to allow cravings to dictate your actions. In fact, cravings are really an indication that something is off. When your body craves a particular thing, its because it’s missing something. So when you crave salty potato chips or chocolate cake, that’s not really what your body wants. It’s telling you there is a deficiency of a key nutrient.

Here are Five Primary Causes of Cravings:

1. Water – lack of water of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.

2. Seasons – often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season.  In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream. In the fall, people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays. That’s when many people crave foods like turkey, eggnog and sweets.

3. Lack of nutrients – if the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.

4. Hormonal – when women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.

5. De-evolution – when things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

So, now that you’re aware of the reasons behind your cravings, do you think you can start listening to your body and responding to what it needs?

I’d love to hear your response. Please leave a comment on my blog.

5 Ways to Stay Focused & Reach Your Goals

As of late I’ve been really struggling to get up as early as I’d like to in the morning. Ideally, I’d like to get up at 5:30 so I can get in my prayer, meditation, workout and breakfast before work. When I get these things done before work I’m able to be more productive all day. I also have such a tremendous sense of accomplishment before 9AM.

If I’m being honest, I’m able to do this maybe once a week, sometimes two. On the other days I’m getting up at 6:00 or 6:30. That leaves me just enough time to spend a few minutes in prayer before I head to the gym for a quick workout or I workout after work. My meditation gets put off until later. I manage to get things done, but not in the ideal way I’d like.

So, this quote has really stuck with me lately.

ifitsimportant

When I read this quote it made me question my priorities. If these things are important to me, why am I not able to make them happen?

I remember a few years ago when I was living in Columbus I was on a quest to lose 20-25 pounds. I had to be at work at 8am. I wanted to get my workouts done in the morning. I’d get up at 4:30am to be at the gym by 5am. I was so committed. I remember going to bed every night by 8:30 so I could get the rest I needed to be up so early. I was literally in bed before the sun went down. As I began to lose weight, I became even more motivated. I started adding an evening run in the park a couple of times a week, so I could accelerate my weight loss. Needless to say, I hit my goal and lost about 23 pounds. I felt incredible.

As I reflect on that time, the greatest difference between then and now is I made it a priority. It was important to me. I wanted to feel good and get the weight off that was making me so unhappy. Whenever I wanted to slack off I thought about my end goal. In addition to my workouts I was on Weight Watchers. Knowing I had to weigh in every week was a motivator. I refused to be embarrassed by not making progress. The accountability helped me.

Sometimes we identify goals we have, but we quickly lose our motivation when it’s time to start the work. We all go through this from time to time. I’ve seen a shift in my attitude lately and I’m starting to get back on track. There are some strategies that are working for me and I want to share them with you. Here are “5 Ways to Stay Focused and Reach Your Goals”:

1. Determine your “why”.  What was the catalyst for change? Your health, your marriage, your family? You will need to remember these things when it gets tough.

2. Get some accountability. Is there someone you can enlist to help you? Do you need a workout buddy? Knowing someone is expecting you to show up makes it easier to follow through.

3. Celebrate small victories. Even when you make minor progress towards your goals its incentive to keep it up. When you lose 1-2 pounds of your 20 pound goal – celebrate that. Acknowledge how difficult it is to lose 1 pound in a week. That’s 3500 calories you had to burn. If it’s not weight loss, are you snacking less? Are you adding more veggies than you ever have before? These are all small victories. Don’t wait until you get to the end to celebrate.

4. Create structure and organization. Put the time you need to devote to this goal on your calendar and respect your appointment with yourself. In my case, I want to get up earlier so I can’t stay up until midnight. I need to commit to having a set time to get in bed early and stick to it.

5. Remember what’s in it for you. How will accomplishing your goal change your life? What will reaching this goal allow you to do? What’s at stake if you don’t accomplish your goal? The answer to these questions need to be at the forefront of your mind at all times. When you want to give up, they will remind you why you’re doing this in the first place.

Now, just do it. It will be a lot easier if you can remember these five tips. I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to keep pushing through to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I’d love to hear about the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Here’s my question for you: Are you finding it hard to do the things you say you want to do? Which one of these tips will help you get back on track?

Lose Weight, Increase Your Energy – By Doing This Simple Thing!

breakfast3

Since I was a child I have always loved breakfast. My mom always prepared it for us. Even if we mostly ate cereal during the week, she always went all out every Sunday morning before church. That’s when she’d usually make us french toast and bacon or sausage. Yeah, I wasn’t always a vegan. I grew up in South GA, eating pork and meat was a requirement.

Anyway, as I got older she’d make me “coffee”. It was really a drop of coffee with a bunch of milk and sugar. It was special to me because she would serve it to me in the cutest little tea cups on a saucer. But my all time favorite treat was when we were low on groceries and my mom would make breakfast for dinner. For some reason, breakfast always tasted better at dinner time! That was the BEST! So, to this day, it’s the meal I always look forward to.

Having said that, I realize that not everybody feels the same way. I know people who can’t bare the thought of eating anything first thing in the morning. Of course, if you feel that way, it might be hard to get you to shift your mindset about it. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

Turns out, there are many health benefits to eating breakfast. Here are my top five reasons:

1. Gets your metabolism going. The word breakfast itself explains why this is the case. In the morning you’re coming off a fasting state. Having breakfast, enables you to “break” the “fast.” Your body responds to not eating for hours and hours by slowing down it’s metabolic rate. By eating breakfast, you wake up your metabolism and get your engine revved up, burning those calories you need to burn to lose weight.  –

2. Increases energy  - eating breakfast replenishes your supply of glucose and provides other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Glucose is the body’s energy source. It is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. In the morning, after you have gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glycogen stores are low. Glycogen is the glucose that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver where it is released slowly overnight to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Once all of the energy from the glycogen stores is used up, your body starts to break down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs.

3. Decreases snacking throughout the day. People who skip breakfast tend to nibble on snacks during the mid-morning or afternoon. This can be a problem if those snacks are low in fiber, vitamins and minerals, but high in fat and salt. Without the extra energy that breakfast can offer, some breakfast skippers feel lethargic and turn to high-energy food and drinks to get them through the day.

4. Reduces Weight – One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day, and help people make better food choices at other meals. Some rationalize that by skipping breakfast they are saving calories. Typically, any calories “saved” at breakfast get consumed later. Hunger gets the best of breakfast-skippers. They end up eating more at lunch and throughout the day.

5. Boosts brain function. The brain needs fuel to function at peak performance. This fuel comes in the form of glucose derived from food. It’s needed to walk, talk and perform all other activities. When you skip breakfast your brain is forced to work extra hard in breaking down stored carbohydrates or to turn fats and proteins into usable forms of glucose. Eating breakfast has been proven to improve concentration, increase problem solving capabilities, enhance overall mental performance and boost memory and mood.

So, if you routinely skip breakfast, I hope these compelling reasons will inspire you to make it a regular part of your day.

Question: Do you usually skip breakfast?

Reference Links:

http://www.guardianeatright.co.uk/news/article.cfm?article_id=1178

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Breakfast

 

Namaste Everyday

Whether its in my personal or professional life I’m someone who is very goal oriented. I seem to thrive on having a goal. It’s how I keep myself inspired to keep moving forward. If I don’t have something I’m working towards I tend to feel stagnant.

Typically, my goals are motivated by a desire to improve in a particular facet of my life. More often than not my desire comes from an internal place. That is certainly the case with my latest endeavor.

namaste

For the past two weeks I’ve been doing a yoga challenge. It evolved from a place of feeling disconnected. Ironically, this feeling emerged while I was training for my triathlon. I was getting a lot of physical activity and was motivated by that. But, I’m a firm believer that the mind, body, and spirit must be aligned for me to have a shot at real happiness. I was getting my physical body in shape. Unfortunately, my mind and spirit weren’t invited to the party.

Yoga is something I’m fascinated with because I firmly believe in all of its benefits. My issue is that I’m so inflexible I tend to shy away from it. I don’t like how uncomfortable I tend to feel while doing it, so I avoid it. When in actuality it’s the thing I need to be doing so I can improve my flexibility. It’s like the saying goes, real change happens outside your comfort zone.

As I’ve learned from my friend Ryan – a yoga instructor- yoga is a gentle practice. So, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. You should go as far as you can in a yoga pose, as long as it feels good.  Ryan was featured in a past blog. Please check out the Namaste Everyday video to hear more of her views and to preview her class.

Here’s how my challenge works. I committed to do yoga every day for  at least 10 minutes for 21 days. Since I’ve gotten past week one, I’ve increased my duration. I’m also including daily meditation.

My intention for this challenge is to get to a place of peace by learning to be in the moment. For weeks I’ve been distracted with life and the things that have not been going the way I want them to go. I need to surrender a few things. I believe this challenge will help me do that. One of the things I have always enjoyed about yoga is it forces me to be in the moment. When you’re focusing on your poses/stretches you can’t think about anything else.

The other thing I want to transpire out of this challenge is to be able to incorporate more yoga into my life and workouts. I figure after 21 days of doing it everyday it will become a habit.

Here are a few benefits I’m already experiencing:

1. My flexibility is improving. Several areas of my body that are really tight are beginning to loosen up, especially my lower back.

2. I’m gaining a tremendous appreciation for my body. We require so much of our bodies every day. Yoga makes me appreciate all that it does and is capable of doing.

3. It’s helping me to stress less and let things go. I’m learning that things will always work out. I don’t have to try to control anything or anybody. In fact, at any given moment of my day I can start it again. If my day starts to go downhill, it doesn’t have to continue to do so. I can stop it and begin again.  I don’t quite get how this awesome practice can do that for me, but somehow it does.

As I’m approaching the final week of my challenge I want to go further spiritually. A friend recently shared a very personal spiritual experience she had while doing yoga. It made me envious. I would love to have a similar encounter. Regardless of whether or not I’m able to have what she had, I want to go deeper. This process has the potential to be life changing, so I don’t want to settle for less.

I’ve been asked by several people what kind of challenge I’m doing. I’ve sort of created my own by researching yoga instructors on YouTube. I choose a different session every day. However, when I initially started researching a 21-day challenge I found one that seems pretty simple. It’s through Yoga Journal. They have a plan for the beginner and intermediate levels. Once you subscribe on their website, they will send you an email every day with a link to a different practice.

I’ve shared with you my experience with yoga. Now, I’d love to hear about yours. Have you tried yoga? If so, how did it benefit you?