Seven Tips for Self Care

Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s actually really important for your health and wellbeing. It’s also important to focus on self-care during The 21 Day Sugar Detox. Here are my Seven Tips for Self Care:

  1. Create. Whatever you like to do to be creative, schedule some time for yourself. Some ideas include: playing an instrument, cooking (although you may be tired of that during the detox! :-), home DIY, adult coloring books, sewing, scrapbooking, painting, writing. The list can go on and on.
  2. At-Home Relaxation. Schedule a playdate for the kids, hire a babysitter, or call in a favor from a family member. Do whatever you need to do in order to have some time for some at-home relaxation. The great thing about these suggestions is that they are low/no cost. Winning!! This is can include an at-home facial, a relaxing bath with epsom salts, diffusing some calming essential oils, unplug from devices, an at-home foot soak, scrub, and foot massage, or self-massage with a foam roller and/or Yoga Tune Up balls (this is my personal favorite!).
  3. Relaxation. These relaxation suggestions will set you back a bit of money, but are so worth it if you can budget them in. Ideas include: massage, reiki, acupuncture, chiropractor, manicure, pedicure, facial, or even a spa day. These are also good ideas to use as rewards for yourself when you complete the detox. 🙂
  4. Quiet Time. In our modern world we have so many auditory inputs that it can be very taxing on our system. Sometimes we all just need a little piece and quiet! Because we are also living such scheduled lives, it can be hard to know what to “do” during quiet time (sounds a little ridiculous, right?). Here are five ideas for your quiet time: read, write, keep a mental or physical list of things you are grateful for, meditate/pray, or even sleep!
  5. Personal Connection. Humans need human interaction and not just virtual interaction, the live and in-person kind too. Try to schedule some time to connect (or even reconnect) with friends, family, or your children. My personal goal is to have a connection with friends and family at least once per week. You may also consider joining a group of like-minded individuals to provide you with more or different personal connection. Maybe you can join a book club, hiking group, bunco group, sewing group, or a meet up group in your area to increase the amount of personal connection in your life.
  6. Exercise. It’s good for your body and your mind. Our ancestors walked 6-12 miles per day! In our modern world, most of us do not get nearly that much movement in. Whatever you like to do, make time to do it each week. The options are endless, but here are a few ideas: yoga, cycling, crossfit, running, swimming, walking, hiking, tennis, pilates, barre workouts, HIIT, and so on.
  7. Treat Yo’self. Treat yo’self to a 21DSD compliant dinner out. It’s likely that you’ve been cooking more than you normally do and it can be exhausting. Treat yo’self to night (or day) of not having to cook. Sit back, relax, and enjoy every moment of not having to shop, chop, cook, and clean up. Ahhhhhh.

BONUS: Sunshine. Go get some sunshine! Make some vitamin D and feel the sun’s glorious rays on you. The stack your life version of self-care would be walking with a friend (exercise, sunshine, and personal connection) or swimming with your kids (exercise, sunshine, and personal connection).

Five Tips to Improve Sleep

Most Americans are under slept and without enough sleep we are setting ourselves up for unstable moods, hunger cravings, and challenges with weight loss. In fact, in Robb Wolf’s book, Wired to Eat, he notes that Americans, on average sleep 2.5 hours less per night than Americans in the 1970’s. We often taught sleep deprivation like a badge of honor, but it is really a disservice to our health. Wolf also goes on to explain that in order for humans to deal with the stress of sleep deprivation, we are wired to seek out any food, especially highly processed foods. In fact, we have less willpower to resist these foods when we are sleep deprived. Lastly, Wolf goes on to point out there is a relationship between poor sleep and the inability to lose fat.

 

Five Tips to Improve Sleep

Room Conditions:

  • As dark as a cave! Make sure your bedroom is as dark as a cave. Not only do your eyes have light receptors, but all of your skin does too.The light that is often emitted from electronics should be turned off or covered up. This includes clocks, night lights, TV, etc. Using electrical tape or a washcloth can help. I also LOVE sleeping with an eyemask. I have linked to my favorite Eye Mask and my husband’s favorite eye mask (Blinks Luxury Ultralight Comfortable Contoured Eye Sleep Mask). Blackout Curtains are something else that I HIGHLY recommend. Here is a link to my favorite brand, Eclipse.

Cool it Now! Your body temperature needs to fall a degree or two for optimal sleep and so your bedroom must also have a lower temperature. Between 64°- 66° is the optimal bedroom temperature according to Wolf. 

Supplements:

Magnesium naturally relaxes the body and reduces stress. A supplement like Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium (unflavored for the 21DSD) is great way to get magnesium citrate.

Vitamin D can be hard to get enough of in our modern lifestyles due to indoor living and loads of sunscreen. A Vitamin D3 Liquid Supplement can be helpful for improving sleep.

* Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor before taking any new supplements.

Bedtime Routine:

Folks with children know that bedtime routines really help with getting a restful night’s sleep. The same is true for adults. Having a consistent and regular bedtime along with a regular routine (that hopefully doesn’t involve screen time) will help power down your brain and get your body ready for sleep.

 

Additional Resources:

Balanced Bites Podcast 303 All About Sleep http://balancedbites.com/episode303/

Balanced Bites Podcast 287 with Robb Wolf http://balancedbites.com/podcast-episode-287-wired-to-eat-with-robb-wolf/

Go To Bed by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne https://www.thepaleomom.com/books/gotobed/

Eleven Tips for a Better Night Sleep

Swannies Blue Light Blocking Sleep Aid Glasses

April 2017 Book of the Month – Go To Bed

Sleep. Nearly all of us should get more sleep. Some of us know it and other of us are currently in denial (you know, the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” crowd). I certainly know I should be getting more sleep. Enter Dr. Sarah Ballantyne‘s book, Go To Bed. I first saw the Go To Bed program on Ballantye’s Instagram account. It struck me as an interesting challenge because I know that I need to work on my sleep habits. After checking out the ebook and program, I bought the book. It took me almost year to finally get a chance to read it, but I am so glad that I did!

I am not an insomniac and actually I have very little trouble with falling asleep or staying asleep (I know, some of you probably would like to kill me!). Although, during chemotherapy, I had a helluva time trying to sleep, so I DO know what it is like for you insomniacs! My problem is that I have ALWAYS had such a hard time waking up. My mom would tell you that, even as a child, it would take me 30-60 minutes to wake up!! I figure that if I got more restful sleep, I should wake up with relative ease, even at 5:30am. So while on the surface, I don’t have a major sleep problem, being tired all the time and taking 30 minutes to wake up were red flags for me.

In this e-book, Ballantyne digs deep into the science of sleep which I found fascinating to read. She then details how sleep impacts human health. The remaining part of the book discusses the things you can do to improve your sleep, including how to make sleep a priority, how to troubleshoot sleep problems, and ending with her 14-day Go To Bed Challenge!

I highly recommend reading this book and embarking on your own Go To Bed Challenge! 

 

 

2017 Goals

We have survived another trip around the sun and so begins 2017.

I always love a fresh start and as a teacher, it’s nice to have two fresh starts each year. As I look forward into this new year, I like to make goals for myself. I’m not a big fan of the word resolutions, but I believe it’s important to set intentions for positive growth in our lives. It recently dawned on me that not everyone continually makes personal and professional goals for improvement (sidenote: this boggles my mind!). In my adult life, I have always been focused on self-improvement, I therefore view making new goals or resolutions as a positive thing. I realize that not everyone agrees and that’s okay. I look back at my previous resolutions, and see that I have not met them all, and again, for me that’s okay. For example, in 2016 meditation was a daily goal for me. I didn’t meditate everyday, but I probably meditated about 1/3 of time. While that is less than ideal, it’s still more meditation than I have done in the past, so I view it as progress toward my goal of daily meditation. Which is why I see the new year as a time to reflect and recommit to myself.

It’s also great to have a written record of my past goals so that I can what was important to me, what I was successful with, and what was challenging for me.

2013 Goals:

  • stretch daily ✅
  • have more patience and kindness ✅
  • exercise regularly
  • work from 7:00-4:30 ✅
  • go to bed on time
  • limit social media use

2014 Goals:

  • work from 7:30 – 3:30 ✅
  • exercise regularly
  • stretch every morning and every night ✅
  • limit social media use
  • drink water throughout the day ✅

2015 Goals:

  • stretch first thing in the morning and before bed ✅
    oil pull each morning ✅
    listen to music in the morning to start off my day with a smile ✅

2016 Goals:

  • meditate daily
  • get enough sleep
  • read before bed
    hike weekly 
  • swim weekly

In looking at goals from years past,  I can see where I had success and where I had challenges. The ✅ indicate goals that I feel I accomplished. My goals have been similar and will be similar again this year. However, I’m going to put them in order of importance this year.

Along with the same idea of goals and resolutions, Gretchen Rubin (of the Happier podcast, The Happiness Project , and Better Than Before) asked “what’s your one word theme for the new year?” My answer is health. It’s a big word, I know, but I would like health to be the reason for everything I do this year. Move more, move better, eat well, drink well, meditate more, think well, act with intention, care more, and love more. Also the growing trend of “more social, less media” is included in my goal of overall health. Gretchen’s work has inspired me since 2013 when I was motivated by The Happiness Project. Check it out. Period.

 

One last thing to note here. You may have noticed the last and tiny goal on my list: Walk 2017 miles in 2017. In 2016, I was introduced to Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement and I began listening to Katy and Dani Hemmat’s podcast, Katy Says. One of the episodes, The Ben Show, is about a gentleman, Ben Pobjoy, who, inspired by Katy’s work, set out to walk 2015 kilometers in 2015. He completed his goal, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.That commitment to walk 2015 kilometers literally changed his life. It’s a must listen episode. Inspired by Ben, Dani has decided to walk 2017 miles in 2017 and I’m going join her! It works out to an average of 5.53 miles each day. For me, my 5.53 miles have to come from going for a walk, hike or run, not just from my steps around the house/office/grocery store etc. I already get 3-6 miles worth of steps in my average day, so I feel like that wouldn’t have been much of a goal or challenge for me.

Do you make resolutions or goals? What are your 2017 resolutions or goals? Happy New Year!

Hugs and Health <3,

Katie

 

 

Eleven Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

I originally wrote this as a handout for my Nutrition Classes. I wrote up a Condition and Nutrient Report for Anxiety Disorder Management and decided to focus on Sleep for my Educational Handout. Since SLEEP is elusive for many of us AND since almost any health concern can be helped with a better night’s sleep, I thought I’d share it here on the blog. What tips help you to get a good night’s sleep?

Here it is!

It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is good for you. It is your body’s time to repair and regenerate. But not only is sleep good for you, but it can also help with managing Anxiety Disorders.

Eleven Steps to Ensure the Best Night’s Sleep:

  1. Humans thrive osleepingdogn routine and having a nighttime routine can help to get your body and your brain ready to power down for uninterrupted sleep (Ramos, 2015).
  2. Reserve your bed for sleeping and making love. Avoid watching TV or working in bed because the brain will associate those things with the bed and have trouble powering down (Scott, 2010).
  3. Sleep in a room that is as dark as a cave by getting rid of lights from alarm clocks and other devices. In order to produce enough melatonin (and therefore serotonin), your body needs it to be dark. If you can’t get your bedroom pitch black, try an eye mask (Scott, 2010).
  4. Shower or take an Epsom salt bath before bed because it raises your body temperature. After, there is a slight drop in body temperature that signals your brain that it’s time for sleep (Breus, 2006). The Epsom salts contain magnesium, which is also relaxing.
  5. Noise can make falling asleep challenging. Being awoken in the middle of the night also makes it challenging to fall back to sleep. Try earplugs, a noise machine, SleepPhones with music or meditation music to help fall asleep or to fall back asleep when woken up in the middle of the night (Scott, 2010).
  6. Meditate for at least five or more minutes before bed to create a relaxed state of mind (Bauman, 2015).
  7. Keep your bedroom cool (Scott, 2010).
  8. Avoid technology (especially tablets and smart phones) for about an hour before bed. The lights emitted really disturb sleep patterns (Breus, 2006).
  9. Keep a consistent bedtime, preferably around 10pm (Scott, 2010).
  10. Try diffusing essential oils for relaxation. Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and Valerian can support relaxation and sleep (Higley, C. & Higley, A., 2013).
  11. Count backwards by threes (400, 397, 394, etc.). Dr. Breus (2006) suggests that this is challenging enough to keep your interest but boring enough to put you to sleep. I have also tried an “appreciation body scan” where I start at my feet and legs, thanking them for their hard work for the day and work my way up. I almost always fall asleep before I get to thanking my head.

Things to Avoid:

  1. Caffeine is a common sleep disruptor. Depending on the person, even caffeine consumed early in the day can disrupt sleep. It is stimulating to the body by raising cortisol and adrenaline levels and it depletes serotonin and melatonin (Scott, 2010).
  2. Alcohol often causes people to have disrupted sleep. It is best to minimize alcohol intake to improve sleep (Bauman, 2015).

Supplements to Try:

  1. Try drinking Calm – a magnesium supplement before bed. Magnesium is a natural relaxer and is stress reducing (Bauman, 2015).
  2. Tart cherry juice contains melatonin, which supports sleep (Breus, 2006).
  3. Melatonin is the precursor to serotonin, so supplementing with melatonin can help support a restful night’s sleep and less anxiety (Bauman, 2015).
  4. Vitamin B6 supplement can help to improve the quality of your sleep (Scott, 2010).

References:

Bauman, E. (6/20/15-9/30/15). Personal Communication

Breus, M. (2006). Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc.

Higley, C. & Higley, A. (2013). Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils. Spanish Fork, UT: Abundant Health.

Jacobs, A. (2012). Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Scott, T. (2010). The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Ramos, M. (2015, September). Sex Food Therapy retrieved from: http://www.sexyfoodtherapy.com/

10 Free Things to Improve Your Health

Ten Free Things to Improve Your Health

  1. Chew Well! – This is like pre-digestion. Your digestive system will be able to absorb more nutrients and work more efficiently with well-chewed food.
  2. Sit & Relax During Meals – When you are eating while standing, driving, sitting at your desk, or eating while stressed, your brain is in “fight or flight” mode and that’s all your body can do. When you eat, in order to truly digest food and absorb nutrients, your brain and your body need to be in “rest, digest, feed, and breed” mode. Take the extra time during each meal to sit, relax, and enjoy your food.
  3. Meal Planning – Planning your weekly meals at the beginning of the week and before heading to the store can help lower your grocery bill and help you stick to your eating plan.
  4. Drink more Water – Are you drinking 64 oz. of water each day? Try keeping track of your fluid intake to see how much water you drink.
  5. Exercise Each Day – Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Nearly every health condition can be helped with physical activity.
  6. Sleep – Try making your bedroom as dark as a cave. Using technology (especially tablets and smartphones) before bed is not recommended. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended. Your organs repair and regenerate while you sleep, not enough sleep means much more than just feeling tired.
  7. Elimination – How often are you having a bowel movement? What is the consistency like? Everyone is different, but adults should be having at least one to two bowel movements each day (should be semi-firm).
  8. Relaxation – Find some way to relieve stress and relax each day. Exercise and/or prayer/meditation are good ways to relieve stress.working in my garden
  9. Socialization/Connectedness – This is another way to help relieve stress. Humans are naturally social beings and today we are often very isolated from others. Joining a club or organization is a great way to get connected.
  10. Go Outside! – Get some sunlight and vitamin D and connect with nature. Try “Earthing” by walking barefoot and absorbing the Earth’s energy and negative ions.

Health & Hugs <3

Katie