The Importance of Mobility and Stretching

When it comes to living a balanced and healthy life, we often think of nutrition, exercise, hydration and sleep. In today’s fitness industry, it seems that the workout is what captures the most attention…but what about mobility and stretching?

As of now, most of us are quarantined. You’re probably noticing a lot of people posting workouts on social media to keep others motivated and MOVING! I love seeing how so many people around the world are coming together in this crisis and supporting each other on a daily basis.

We hear a lot about:

  • Eating nutrient dense foods
  • Working out (daily movement)
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Getting enough sleep, etc…

But, something seems to be missing: mobility.

Have you been stretching, foam rolling and doing your daily mobility work?

Being flexible and mobile is a VERY important piece to overall health and wellness and a lot of people know they should do it but… they push it off.

Why?

Aside from the typical hour long workout, many of us find ourselves sitting, laying down, watching TV, scrolling through social media or just doing home office work most of the day.

Some common obstacles we hear include:

  • It’s uncomfortable
  • I don’t know how to do it
  • It takes time
  • It’s boring…

What many people don’t realize is that mobility can have a direct impact on their performance, sleep and quality of life. A good stretching and mobility session will help to improve muscle function, increase power, improve performance and even help to prevent injuries.

And that’s why we want to prioritize this piece of the puzzle!

Let’s take a look at mobility and how to make it a regular part of your day.

How To Make Mobility and Stretching a Regular Part Of Your Day?

The best way to include flexibility and mobility practices like stretching and mobilization work in your lifestyle is to develop habits just like you would with working out.

Establishing a consistent routine is key.

Just start with a small amount of time. Too much too soon can lead to failure. Even ten minutes a day can lead to differences in the way your body feels. Work up from there as you build consistency and confidence.

How To Improve Flexibility and Mobility

When it comes to working on improving flexibility and mobility, there are multiple ways to go about it. Remember, if you aren’t doing anything at all (or very little) start with what you are most willing to stick to get started.

Keep it simple.

Start with what you can do, consistently. Then as you progress you can change things up and get more ideas from there.

Stretching

Stretching is one of the most well-known athletic habits.

A gymnast, I should know that. haha!

But, most people don’t stretch consistently because it can be uncomfortable, sometimes painful or maybe they feel that it’s boring.

The truth is, it needs to become a priority if you’re looking to perform your best, feel your best, and reduce the risk of injury.

Two types of stretching to focus on are: active/dynamic and static stretching.

  • Active stretching is moving into a stretched position for 3-5 seconds at a time for about 5-10 times. It’s usually best to do before exercise or cardio (ex:running), because it helps to loosen up tight muscles and improve body mechanics.
  • Static stretching is often used more for lengthening tight muscles. This is typically done by holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds on an average (60 seconds if needed) and doing so 3-5 times. Static stretching can restrict some neural control to muscle fibers, so it’s best to be done after exercise, first thing in the morning, or as you unwind before bed.

Remember, it takes a little time for various tissues to lengthen safely so make sure you are doing it safely and go easy on it. Also, do not hold your breath as you stretch … I struggled with that for a long time. Controlling your breath will help you go into a deeper stretch.

On days you’re not working out, pick a time of the day when it would be most convenient, like before bed.

Again, again consistency is key.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, as known as self-myofascial release can also be performed using a lacrosse ball, softball, or even your own hands.

Most of us have various trigger points or “knots,” that form in our muscles. This is especially true of an athlete who performs repetitive movements. You might even notice you get knots in your traps and upper back from being hunched over a keyboard at work all day.

Foam rolling involves massaging these pain points to gently loosen up the muscles, and bring them back into a relaxed state.

Benefits of foam rolling

Foam rolling, when done properly, can help to clear out some pain and help muscles return to normal function.

Basically, if you tend to have tight muscles or can’t move with your same flexibility after working out, this recovery routine is a great fit for you.

I know for me, it can make me feel better almost immediately after a tough training session.

It may feel uncomfortable at first but the more you do it the pain will start going away and doing it consistently will help your body feel better, can result in faster recovery and really improve your mobility!

How much pressure do I use?

To start, make sure to apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle using the roller and your body weight.

Roll slowly across the muscle group. As you locate painful or tight areas, stop the roller and pause for a few seconds… and remember to breathe!

Then, continue along the rest of your body or muscle you’re working on.

If you have a muscle group that is too tight or painful to directly press down on, you can always shift the roller around and put pressure on the surrounding area instead.

When should I use a foam roller?

You can use a foam roller just about anytime. Some people will use it before their workout to help improve mobility and full range of motion! Some will use it after a workout as part of their cool down to help reduce soreness. You can also use it in the morning, it will help release the muscle from a night of sleep.

For me, I have been doing 10-15 minutes of mobility and flexibility work every day before and after my training session.

Starting a Mobility Routine

Stretching is by far the easiest to get started with as it doesn’t require any equipment. It not only relaxes you, but it also keeps your muscles flexible so you’re less likely to experience discomfort during everyday activities. And bonus, doing it before bed can greatly impact and benefit the sleep your body gets throughout the night. It allows you to release some of the tension you’ve built up during the day so you can prepare both your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.

Here are 6 quick stretches that you can start doing before bed (or whenever works best for you): 

  1. Hip flexor opener

If you sit most of the day, this stretch is a must. Face your bed and stand about two away. Place your right foot on the edge of the bed and bend the right knee, shifting your weight forward (keep your left foot on the floor). Keep both feet pointing forward. Reach your left arm (or both) toward the ceiling, breath deeply and hold 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Hamstring stretch

Place your right heel on bed and keep the leg straight while flexing your right foot (toe toward ceiling). Hinge forward until you feel a stretch down the right hamstring. Tuck your chin toward your chest and feel the stretch extend deeper. Without moving your body, drop the right foot side to side four times. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Standing spinal twist

Face your bed and reach arms overhead until you feel a stretch in the front of your body. Hinge at the hips and place your hands on the bed, reaching forward. Lift your right hand off the bed and reach that arm upward while pressing into the left hand. Hold for several deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Hip flexor stretch

Lie on your back and place a rolled-up pillow under your right hip. Extend the right leg and reach your right arm overhead, thinking about lengthening through the entire right side of the body. Now point and flex the ankles eight times. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Spine twist

Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Straighten the right leg so it’s resting on the bed. Grab your left knee with your right hand and gently cross your body to the right. Rotate your head left until you feel a gentle stretch in the neck. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Happy back

Lie on your back with a pillow under your hips. Bend your knees (keep them above your hips) and wrap your arms around the back of your legs. Hold :30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Consistency is Key

Morning, noon or night, figuring out when and how to add these into your lifestyle is up to you. Like I said above, for me, I’ve started with doing 10 minutes, it turned into a habit … and now have it part of my active lifestyle!

But if that doesn’t work for you, or another time is better because you will do it more consistently, then do that!

Reference:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching

Wild Salmon vs Farmed Salmon

Salmon is prized for its health benefits. This fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which most people don’t get enough of.

However, not all salmon is created equal.

Let’s take a look at some differences between wild salmon vs farmed salmon and how to tell the difference between the two.

What’s the Difference Between Wild Salmon vs Farmed Salmon

Wild salmon is caught in natural environments such as oceans, rivers and lakes. But salmon is also farmed. In fact, farmed salmon now accounts for about 80% of the world’s salmon supply. The problem with that? Fish farms, which use a process known as aquaculture to breed fish for human consumption.

The biggest concern with farmed salmon is organic pollutants like PCBs. If you try to minimize your intake of toxins, you should avoid eating farmed salmon too frequently. Antibiotics in farmed salmon are also problematic, as they may increase the risk of antibiotic resistance in your gut.

Wild salmon eat other organisms found in their natural environment, whereas farmed salmon are given a processed, high-fat, high-protein feed in order to produce larger fish.

How can you tell the difference? When raw, a salmon filet will display white lines running across its flesh. This is fat. Wild salmon will generally not exhibit this build-up of fat between its muscles.

Differences in Nutritional Value

For this reason, the nutrient composition of wild and farmed salmon differs greatly. The table below provides a good comparison.

Calories, protein and fat are presented in absolute amounts, whereas vitamins and minerals are presented as percent (%) of the reference daily intake (RDI).

Clearly, nutritional differences between wild and farmed salmon can be significant.

  • Farmed salmon is much higher in fat, containing slightly more omega-3s, much more omega-6 and three times the amount of saturated fat. It also has 46% more calories — mostly from fat.
  • Compared to their farmed equivalents, wild salmon is richer in omega 3 fats and the carotenoids (which is what gives them their vibrant coral color). Wild salmon also contains more minerals.
  • Farmed salmon is higher in vitamin C, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids and calories. The two main polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids play important roles in your body.

They’re termed essential fatty acids, or EFAs, because you need both in your diet.

However, it’s necessary to strike the right balance.

Omegas

Most people today consume too much omega-6, distorting the delicate balance between these two fatty acids.

While farmed salmon has three times the total fat of wild salmon, a large part of these fats are omega-6 fatty acids. For this reason, the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is about three times higher in farmed salmon than wild.

It’s also important to note that farmed fish tend to ingest more potentially harmful contaminants from the water they swim in and the foods they eat. Studies published in 2004 and 2005 showed that farmed salmon had much higher concentrations of contaminants than wild salmon.

Keep in mind that farmed salmon is still a healthy choice and provides healthy omega-3s. However, because of environmental and dietary differences, farmed salmon may contain more potentially harmful contaminants than wild salmon. While these contaminants appear to be safe for the average person consuming moderate amounts, some experts recommend that children and pregnant woman only eat wild-caught salmon — just to be on the safe side.

Budget may also play a factor in your choices. Wild salmon is also much more expensive than farmed and may not be worth the extra cost for some people. So, depending on your budget, it may be inconvenient or impossible to buy wild salmon.

The Bottom Line

Aim to eat fatty fish such as salmon 1–2 times per week for optimal health. This fish is delicious, loaded with beneficial nutrients and highly filling — and therefore weight-loss-friendly.

And, if your salmon comes in a package, remember to READ the ingredients list. Avoid products that have added dyes, sugar or have long lists of unpronounceable ingredients.

In the end, given its high amount of omega-3s, quality protein and beneficial nutrients, any type of salmon is still a healthy food.

Recipe: Cajun Salmon and Fruit Salsa

Salmon

Next time you buy salmon fillets, try this recipe from PN! The hint of spice paired with the sweet and refreshing salsa is sure to please your taste buds.

Ingredients

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yields: 2 servings

Directions

Begin by dicing up ingredients for the fruit salsa – mango, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro. Put diced ingredients into a bowl and add the lime juice and a small pinch of salt.

Let sit.

Next, mix together all of the spices and coat each salmon on the flesh side. On a BBQ or stove-top grill (if stove top add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan) – grill skin down for 15 minutes on low-medium heat, flip over and cook another 5 minutes. If the fish needs longer to cook – flip back to the skin side and continue cooking – it should no longer be pink inside.

Top fish with salsa and additional cilantro if desired.

Enjoy!

References:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16251623/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15506184/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15866762/

 

Micronutrients: Benefits of a Colorful Plate

colorful plate micronutrients

Fruits and vegetables often get their colors from the nutrients they have inside: MICRONUTRIENTS. Because these foods are generally low in fat and calories and provide complex carbohydrates that can give you energy and fiber that makes you feel full, they should have a starring role on your plate at every meal.

What Are Micronutrients?

You often hear about macronutrients like proteins, fats, and carbs when we talk about nutrition – and although these are important – micronutrients are important, too.

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals, as well as chemicals found in plants called phytonutrients. Micronutrients play important roles in the functioning of the body and brain, from the workings of the nervous system to immune function and bone strength, but our bodies cannot manufacture most of them…so we need to get them from food.

Did you know that over 30 percent of Americans have some kind of micronutrient deficiency?

Some of the most common deficiencies in the US, according to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), include:

  • Vitamin B6 11% of the total population
  • Iron 10% of females aged 12-49, and 7% of children aged 1-5
  • Vitamin D 9% of the total population (31% of non-hispanic Blacks)
  • Vitamin C 6% of people over the age of 6
  • Vitamin B12 2% of the total population

Additionally, deficiencies are particularly common among certain populations including:

  • The elderly, who may have trouble preparing, chewing, or digesting foods
  • Women (aged 19-50), particularly if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Athletes, who have higher nutrient requirements because of the extra demands on their body

Go for a Colorful Plate to Boost Micronutrients

Let’s take a look at a few benefits of each color:

  • White fruits and vegetables provide dietary fiber. Fiber helps protect against high LDL cholesterol levels, which, in turn, protects heart health.
  • Red foods include tomatoes, watermelon, cherries, beets and peppers. These are foods that are likely to be rich in the antioxidants which are also valuable for heart health.
  • Orange and yellow foods get their hue from beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital to good bones and healthy skin.
  • Green vegetables provide vitamins C, K and E, which can all help support the immune system, healthy eyes and bones and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
  • Blue and purple fruits and vegetables get their color from anthocyanins. Blue foods like blueberries have compounds that act as anti-inflammatories, reducing the risk of disease in your esophagus and colon.

Tricks to Get More Color on Your Plate

It’s not always easy to introduce new foods to your diet. If you are not sure how to make a more colorful plate with more micronutrients, try some of these simple tips below:

  • In recipes that call for potatoes, try sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have higher levels of fiber and vitamin A, letting you pack more nutritional punch into each meal. Swap out baked white potatoes for sweet potatoes or use sweet potatoes in your favorite soups and stews.
  • Go with a colorful garnish. Diced red peppers, sliced green onions and other colorful foods are great sprinkled over a wide range of savory dishes.
  • Choose unusual varieties when you see them. You can find golden cauliflower, purple broccoli, red carrots and more.
  • Give vegetables a larger share of your plate. When you make a stir fry at home, include four or five vegetable ingredients and cut down on meat.
  • Eat fruit for dessert. If you like to end a meal with something sweet, try a bowl of berries or a tart made of fresh peaches.
  • Choose local. Choosing local can have a big impact on the micronutrients in your produce.
  • You’ve likely also heard that eating organic is “healthier.” But did you know that not all produce needs to be organic? Read: When Should You Choose Organic? to find out.

In a nutshell, the more colors you have on your plate, the more micronutrients you’ll consume.

 

From a Deprivation Mindset to a Decision Mindset

Moving From a Deprivation Mindset to a Decision Mindset

What we consume over the course of a day creates the experiences and energy we get to have during that day. 

If we eat clean, healthy foods full of energy, we’re going to feel full of energy, have clear thoughts, be productive and advance toward our goals. And the complete opposite is also true. If we eat garbage, we’re going to feel like garbage: sluggish, foggy thoughts, procrastinate and waste opportunities.

It can be a hard cycle to break. 

Your Environment Matters

If your kitchen is filled with tempting foods (whether they are yours or your kids), it can be… a real problem for goals. No matter how much willpower you have, it’s just natural to grab the most convenient and most tempting food options, especially when you’re tired, stressed, or ravenous.

A little effort ahead of time can lead to substantially better choices in the moment. That’s why we created the food list. The food list is a tool to help us prepare, clean up our choices (not deprive you) and allow you to embrace a decision mindset.

You Choose

The more you clean up your diet with highly nutritious foods, the more your taste for junk fades. But, this wonderful switch doesn’t happen until you shift away from a deprivation mindset to a decision mindset.

Think Differently

It’s your conscious decision to eat foods that make you feel better, look better and perform better. Own it.

So, instead of: “I can’t have that.”
Say: “I don’t want that.” “I don’t need that.” “I don’t eat that anymore.” or “I’ll have this instead (insert healthy alternative).”

Instead of labeling foods “good” and “bad,” reframe your thought process by identifying how these foods affect you. For example, let’s look at them as red, yellow, and green light foods.

Red light foods

Red light foods are those that present such a difficult challenge for you that they just aren’t worth the struggle. Red light foods may not work for you because:

  • They don’t help you achieve your goals
  • They’re tempting to overeat
  • You’re allergic or intolerant to them
  • You really don’t like them
  • You’ve made the decision not to eat them anymore

Yellow light foods

These are foods that you can eat a little bit of, be satisfied and stop without being tempted to go overboard.

Green light foods

These are nutritious and make your body and mind feel full of energy. You can eat them normally, slowly, and in reasonable amounts. Whole foods usually make up most of this list.

Make it a Habit

Just as I mentioned before, this kind of mindset is a habit. And as with any skill or habit, practice makes permanent. You know, we’ve heard forever: practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect. But, we all know that perfect isn’t real. Nope – no kind of practice will ever make perfection.

There’s only progress to work on making something permanent.

Practice that mindset habit daily.

Destination Fixation

The cornerstone of all success begins with your foundation: Your WHY.

What’s important to you?

What is the ultimate goal?

Why do you want it?

Once you clarify your why, write it down and stick it somewhere you can see daily. Written goals give us clarity and direction.

But you have to be willing to go deeper than JUST desires. Desires, such as: “I want to get in shape for summer!” are often mistaken for goals. Your “why” must be deeper than desires to give you the motivation and accountability to take action whenever you experience a road bump (and you will – it’s actually an important part of the journey).

Road Bumps are Part of the Journey

When Gino and I lived in California (before kids), he taught me how to ride a mountain bike…in the freakin’ singletrack trails at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park (which according to the website is a “downhiller’s paradise” with an elevation of 11,053 ft). One of the first things he taught me was: “Look where you want to go.” A very useful tip on Seven Bridges Trail (yup, that’s me in the picture).

Trail riding requires balance, endurance and a strong focus on where you’re headed. If you look at a big tree root, you’ll run right into the tree root and probably put your foot down or fall. I learned, however, that if I noticed a tree root and kept my focus out in front of me while preparing my body to absorb the bump, I would roll over the tree root and keep moving forward.

Buuut, If I stared down the obstacle, I would inevitably crash.

Keep Your Focus on Your Why

What I’m trying to say is this: Acknowledge the bumps in the road but don’t fixate on them or they’ll knock you on your butt.

Let’s work on catching ourselves when we start to focus on anything other than our “destination”– the why or positive end result of our goals. This kind of mindset is a habit and as with any skill or habit, practice makes permanent. We can’t avoid all obstacles, but we can keep the focus on our why.

You control your direction. Where you look is where you will go.

Make the Choice

Today is a good day. It’s the day you have decided to kick-start some serious changes (not just for a week or four weeks, but for good). From now on, things will be different.

And it’s all driven by that “why.”

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible.” Tony Robbins

How to Create a Bedtime Routine

Do you have a bedtime routine? Do your kids?

You both should! Here’s why.

Sleep does so much more than prevent us from feeling tired. When we sleep, we heal and repair our bodies. Get enough and you could experience an improvement in learning and memory (bonus for school!). Research also shows that getting enough sleep helps with feelings of anxiety and depression, and is associated with maintaining a healthy weight.

Check out these bedtime routine ideas and sleep solutions to help you get the best sleep your body needs!

Why Is a Bedtime Routine Important?

Sleep is an extremely important part of our overall well-being and health. If we don’t get enough, it may not be noticeable right away (although often it is), but the repercussions can add up.

Lack of a good night’s sleep can have immediate effects on our mood, motivation, focus, energy and strength the next day. This can affect our state at work, school, in our workouts and how we react at home.  A lack of sleep over many nights can have long-term effects on our health, too. From high blood pressure and obesity to psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders, research shows that the risks of sleep deprivation are severe.

Read: Sleeping Tips for Athletes >>

Create a Bedtime Routine (That Works!)

Create a 5 minute (or more) routine that helps transition from day to night. This will prepare them for a good night’s sleep (and even better day tomorrow.

This routine should be separate from a typical “getting ready for bed” task like brushing your teeth or washing your face.

The routine can take any form you want, as long as it works for you. Think of physical habits (like stretching), mental habits (like journaling or reading), spiritual habits (like meditation or prayer).

Practice a Good Bedtime Routine to Sleep Sounder

Believe it or not, getting good sleep takes practice. And guess what? It all starts before you even close your eyes.

One of the best places to start practicing at getting good sleep is by creating your optimal sleep environment.

This includes both your physical space and mental state.

Follow these simple ABCs of Better Zzzzs to start sleeping better tonight.

Clear the clutter.

Turn your attention away from the endless to-dos, stressful sights and clutter of the day by clearing your space and mind. This practice can go a long way toward ensuring you are prepared to successfully get enough Zzzzs.

Research even shows that if notice that your bedroom is full of stuff when you head to bed, your brain thinks, “It’s time to ignore the clutter (or fix it),” which takes mental (or physical) effort. And working from home has only made matters worse as many people are working in their bedroom.

To restore order, get rid of the clutter. For example, get the unfolded laundry out of your bedroom, write down your to-dos so you can attend to them in the morning, straighten up your workspace at the end of the workday, etc. This practice tells your brain that your sleeping space is peaceful.

Turn it off.

If falling asleep is difficult for you or your child, consider setting a curfew on all your devices. The artificial “blue” light that is emitted by electronic screens can trigger our body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disrupt our body’s natural preparation to sleep.

Instead, spend the last hour or two before bed reading a physical book or magazine (a real one with actual pages — not an e-book). This can also help you mentally wind down for the night, instead of getting fired up by your social media feed or disturbing news.

Keep it cool.

According to sleep.org, the temperature has to be just right for an ideal night’s sleep. In general, the suggested bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep conditions.

Improve ventilation.

A stuffy space can hike nasal congestion and hinder your ability to breathe easily while you sleep. Studies even show that those who keep their windows open overnight feel more alert the next morning. But if you suffer from seasonal allergies, it might help to invest in a room purifier alternatively.

Diffuse oils.

Create a bedtime routine that involves diffusing essential oils 30 minutes before bed. Certain scents encourage drowsiness and can signal your brain that it’s time to start shutting off. Try a few drops of lavender, frankincense, cedarwood and bergamot.

Keep it consistent.

What time you get out of bed is an important factor for a good sleep routine. If you sleep in, past your usual time, it messes with our circadian rhythms. You’ll inevitably be less tired at night and have trouble falling asleep. No matter what time you go to bed, try to get up within an hour of your usual wake time.

Fun fact: Did you know that 7:30am is the latest wakeup time you need in order to maximize your physical activity during the day? According to the National Sleep Foundation, every hour you sleep in after that, research shows a significant drop in daily movement.

Exercise

Science shows that exercise helps to increase the total amount of sleep we get, especially in that slow-wave restorative REM phase. During exercise, our core body temperature rises, which helps to decrease body temps at night. REM is associated with decreased core body temps, so you can see how exercise can help gear you up for a good night of sleep.

In fact, the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity did a new analysis of studies on sleep and exercise. They found that those who strength train actually fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night. Too stressed to fall asleep? Stretching before bed also helps when stress is preventing you from falling asleep.

You move, you snooze.

Choose the foods that help you snooze.

What you eat and how you sleep are directly linked. Yup, research shows that your gut health impacts your sleep quality. Probiotics in foods like yogurt and fermented veggie, can improve sleep quality. Also, prebiotics (which our gut bugs need to thrive) in foods like onions and artichokes, also protects us from stress.

The less you stress, the sounder you’ll sleep.

And, it goes both ways. The sounder you sleep, the better and more diverse your gut microbiome is.

Your sleep quality can also impact your food choices the next day. Interestingly, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who slept fewer than five and a half hours per night ate 385 more calories the next day. That’s another meal for many people – equivalent to guzzling two and a half cans of soda, a few Twinkies or a couple slices of pizza.

Another interesting note in the study: the sleep-deprived individuals chose different kinds of foods the next day compared to the well-rested subjects. The sleep deprived folks skimped on clean foods like protein and instead ate empty calorie foods like soda, candy, and pizza!

Why does this happen? Fatigue often leads people to seek out foods that offer quick bursts of energy or increased alertness: sugar and junk.

Get the right amount of sleep, your body will thank you for it.

Create Your Own Bedtime Routine

Take time for yourself and create your own bedtime routine. Consider that the time preparing for sleep is just as important as the time spent warming up for your workout. It puts you in the right mental and physical state to do the best job possible at what’s happening next: sleep.

Do you have a child or family member who struggles with sleep? Talk to your them about their ideas, and make a change together.  The more involved they are in the process, the more likely they’ll stick to it and establish some healthy sleep habits.

Read: Changing Habits >>

Want to Know the Secret to Meal Prep? Plan Ahead

You’ve set some goals, so now it’s time to get used to tracking your progress and learning how to plan ahead.

No matter your intention for joining the challenge. Setting goals and changing your way of life can be tough at the beginning. It’s it’s not uncommon for the initial reaction to feel a little overwhelmed about hitting each goal flawlessly. But remember, you want your goals to be risky, yet realistic.

Refer back to my previous post about striving for progress…not perfection.

If you’ve been eating a certain way for quite some time, the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to focus on one change at a time.

Planning ahead for meal prep is key to make this happen.

Plan Ahead for Meal Prep

With 101 things on your to-do list, meal prep can seem intimidating. How do you even get started? Meal prep doesn’t require complicated planning or tools – just a little time to get organized first. With a few hacks, you can gain control and help make cooking during the week way easier.

Start by scheduling.

Actually schedule time on your calendar to plan your meals for the week (or at least part of them), make the shopping list, go grocery shopping and meal prep. Go ahead, open your calendar and put those important reminders in now…

Make your grocery list.

After you figure out what your week looks like, make your grocery list. Be sure to stick to a store you’re used to and can navigate conveniently. This is not the time to venture out to a new grocery store.  Go prepared with your list and NOT on an empty stomach. Shop mostly along the perimeter, where the produce and meat aisles are located.

Or you can even get your groceries delivered. For example, if you have Amazon Prime and a Whole Foods nearby, you can order with ease and even save favorite items for easy cart adds.

You are in control.

Just remember: You are in control. You make the list; you choose to stick to it (don’t fall for those impulse items). Bring home only what you want in the house to keep temptations at bay.

You can definitely do it!

Make Ahead

Once you get home, start prepping and cooking (or schedule the day that you will do this). At the Salveo house, we usually meal prep Sundays and Wednesdays. Whip up a batch of protein — grill some salmon or several chicken breasts (or both) at once. Wash and chop veggies so they’re easy to grab for snacks or salad. Shave and cut up sweet potatoes, batch cook brown rice…You get the idea.

Or consider a regular healthy meal delivery service like Fit Food NJ. Even one meal during your busiest day might be worth it, and could mean the difference between a nutrient-dense, delicious meal and a regrettable fast-food run. (Save 10% with code: Salus)

Store Safely

Use quality food storage containers to keep prepared food safe. Stainless steel containers and glassware are the safest solutions. I recommend avoiding reusable plastic containers whenever possible. But, if you do use plastic, at least keep it out of the microwave.


Bonus Benefits

It’s so much easier to focus on healthy ingredients, control portions, and avoid those mid-week slumps when ordering a large pizza sounds so much easier than whipping up something fresh.

Ready to set things up this week so you can’t fail? Even an hour can set you up for success.

The name of the game is:

Anticipate. Plan. Strategize.

————–

Check out some of our most popular Salus Nutrition posts:

The Link Between Sleep and Goals

You have big goals and you’re ready to achieve them… except for one problem. You have to sleep! Sooner or later you have to stop sprinting and start sleeping.

What a downer, right?

Sleep and Goals

Actually, it’s not. Far from undermining your goals, sleep is a key ingredient in achieving your goals!

Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep can have a direct impact on achieving your goals. If you don’t get adequate sleep, it is much more difficult to sustain mental strength and stability (key components when it comes to achieving goals).

Whether you want to achieve a fitness milestone, clean up your diet, or attack a work performance goal, then getting the daily recommended 7-9 hours of good-quality sleep is paramount.

Too tired to crush your goals?

This has not been a very good year for sleep, I can relate.

Put the following tips into practice and you’ll feel better at home, during work, at the gym and you’ll have more energy to attack those goals. You’ll shift from a: “I’m just getting through the day survival-mode” to: “Hey, I have energy at 3pm to work on my goals (without a jolt of caffeine).”

Here are 10 tips (plus a bonus) for getting more and better sleep so you can bring your best self to each and every day.

1. Find a rhythm. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. A consistent sleep schedule is key.
2. Lower the temperature in your bedroom. 60-67 degrees is optimal.
3. Avoid blue light (electronics) for 2 hours before bedtime.
4. Exercise daily.
5. Keep it dark. Remove all light sources from your room.
6. Avoid alcohol & caffeine later in the day.
7. Get up as soon as you wake up without hitting snooze.
8. Relax. Add some relaxation habits to your nightly routine.
9. Alter lights to match circadian rhythm.
10. Get outside. Expose yourself to sunlight early in the day.

Bonus. Set a bedtime alarm (this one is my favorite) to remind you to turn off devices and start unwinding.

How You Eat Affects Your Sleep and Your Sleep Affects How You Eat

Sleep might sound like it has nothing to do with nutrition, but the truth is, if you’re not getting enough sleep (quantity AND quality of sleep) you’re going to ride the struggle bus the next day just to stay on track with your food choices and workouts.

The relationship between poor diet and bad sleep is a two-way street.

Much research suggests that the foods you eat can directly affect how well you sleep. AND also, your sleep patterns can directly affect your dietary choices.

Eat Better to Sleep Better

Research shows that eating a high-sugar diet, a diet high in saturated fat and consuming processed carbohydrates can all disrupt your sleep. On the other hand, eating more plants, more fiber and more foods that are rich in unsaturated fat (nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados) can have the opposite effect by helping to promote sound sleep.

Sleep Better to Eat Better

Additionally, scientists have found that when people are sleep deprived, they experience physiological changes that can influence them to consume more junk food. In clinical trials, healthy adults who were allowed to sleep only four or five hours at night ended up eating more calories and snacked more during the day.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who slept fewer than five and a half hours per night ate 385 more calories the next day. That’s another meal for many people – equivalent to guzzling two and a half cans of soda, a few extra handfuls of chips or a couple slices of pizza.

Another interesting note in the study: the sleep-deprived individuals chose different kinds of foods the next day compared to the well-rested subjects. The sleep deprived folks skimped on clean foods like protein and veggies – and instead ate empty calorie foods like soda, chips, and pizza!

Not only that, but they also experienced significantly more hunger and their preference for sweet foods increased.

Why does this Happen?

Sleep loss changes the timing and release of appetite-controlling hormones. Chances are, if you experience a lack of sleep, you’ll be triggering increased levels of ghrelin (hormone that tells the brain you’re hungry) and decreased levels of leptin (the satiety hormone that tells the brain you’ve had enough), leading to increased hunger and appetite.

But hormones aren’t the only thing at play. Without adequate rest, junk food and other high-fat, processed foods become more appealing because of certain changes in the rewards center of the brain. Interestingly, sleep loss affects this area of the brain in much the same way marijuana does and often leads people to seek out foods that offer quick bursts of energy or increased alertness: sugar and junk.

Consequently, the results are much the same — a serious case of the munchies.

Yikes.

The Takeaways?

  1. Eat clean and it will improve the quality of your sleep.
  2. Get enough (good) sleep and it can increase your willpower to avoid unhealthy foods.

From Zzzz to GSD

Sleep is underrated. Try these tips and you’ll be amazed at the spike in your energy levels. You’ll go from yawning your way through the day to being recharged, refreshed and get more stuff done (GSD).

In fact, we love sleep so much, we’ve written quite a few posts about it:



7 Keys to Setting SMARTER Goals

smarter goals

Setting New Goals

Plus My Favorite Habit-Tracking App

Have you ever set a lofty goal for yourself (with the best intentions in mind, of course) only to eventually get frustrated and quit? This is all too common, especially in the New Year.

You know and so much research shows that setting goals is a very important component to success. They can give us something to aim for and help provide direction, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed if not approached strategically.

Set SMARTER Goals

No doubt you’ve heard of SMART goals before, but have you heard of SMARTER goals?

Borrowed from Michael Hyatt, SMARTER stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Risky
  • Timely
  • Exciting
  • Relevant

Great results don’t just happen. You have to be intentional. ~Michael Hyatt

SPECIFIC goals helps you identify exactly what you want to do, whether that’s an achievement or a new habit.

  • Not: I want to lose weight.
  • Be Specific: I want to lose the weight I put on during quarantine.

MEASUREABLE means you will know exactly when you have achieved that goal. Without something to measure, how will you know if you have succeeded?

  • Not: I want to be healthier.
  • Measure it: Lose 5 pounds.

ACTIONABLE goals are those that includes an action word and not just “to be.” For example

  • Not: I want to be more consistent with exercise.
  • Show Action:  CrossFit three times a week.

RISKY goals should stretch you out of your comfort zone, but not too much. It should be challenging and realistic, not overwhelming.

  • Not: I want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks.
  • Be Risky, yet realistic: Lose 20 pounds of fat in 10 weeks and gain 5 pounds of muscle.

EXCITING goals should keep you motivated to keep pursing that goal, even in the face of unexpected challenges – which you will inevitably encounter. To be honest with you, I don’t know how you can set a goal without being emotionally involved with it.

  • Not: I want to workout.
  • Get Excited: I want to overcome my fear and learn how to do a handstand.

RELEVANT goals must align with your current circumstance in life. Your goals now may be different 6 months (or even 6 weeks) into the future. For me, my goals right now look entirely different than they did last January.

  • Not: All in. All the time.
  • Be Relevant: Ask yourself: Given where I am right now in this season of my life, does this goal make sense?

A goal is not just about what you accomplish. It’s about what you become. ~Michael Hyatt

Write Down Your Goals

When was the last time you actually wrote down your goals? This is a critical part of the process to motivate you to take action.

Writing them down and placing them somewhere where we can see them every day allows us to be reminded of the things we wish to manifest into our lives and grow every day. It can include anything that you can draw inspiration from, larger goals or even just little reminders to keep on the right track.

That motivation is even more so when you share those written goals with others…only if those people are committed to helping you achieve them (your coach, accountability buddy, mentor, etc).

When you write down your goals, you’re stating your intention and setting things in motion. But the real key is to review them on a regular basis. This is what turns those goals into a reality.

Every time you review your goals, ask yourself: What’s the next step I need to take to get closer to this goal?

Set Your Goal

To get started, ask yourself a few questions. Write down your answers and share them with a coach and a friend to help you stay accountable:

• If nothing ever got in the way (stress, injuries, time, work, obligations, etc.) what is your dream performance accomplishment?
• What steps can you take to work around those challenges and work toward that dream accomplishment?
• Use 3 words to describe what progress means to you. Define what it looks like and feels like.
• What performance-specific skills are you working on?
• How can your daily choices be refocused to work toward your goals and improve your health?
• What is one positive affirmation that you need to be reminded of?

Consistency is better than perfection. We can all be consistent-perfection is impossible. ~Michael Hyatt

Celebrate Your Wins

Remember to celebrate the new habits that you cultivate along the way. This help you pull together the foundation for your long-term plans. Here’s why:

Need some inspiration?

Here are a few goal examples:

• Need to hydrate more?

Set a water target for your day and download an app to track how much you drink.

• Want to clean up your eating?

Start tracking what you eat in a free app like MyFitnessPal or chat with Coach Angela or Camilla about your specific nutrition needs.

• Looking to fit in more CrossFit classes?

Determine one action that you can do in 5 minutes or less to make your mornings go smoother. For example, lay out your gym clothes, pack your lunch, tell a friend to meet you there.

• Want to sign up for a weightlifting or CrossFit competition?

Talk to a coach, identify a comp and develop a plan.

• Need to change your mindset?

Set an affirmation for each day to create more positive self-talk.

• Ready to PR?

Put your numbers together, identify the missing links and talk to a coach about a proper progression to get you there.

Become Aware

The great thing about setting a goal is the more time we spend truly being aware of what we want in our lives, the more aware we become of what we need to do to get there. The bigger, long-term goals motivate us and the short-term goals allow us to break those bigger goals into something more attainable and satisfying.

We started our business to help people change their lives and become the best version of themselves. It’s not just about one competition or one PR. It’s about those daily wins, lifting a little heavier, eating a little better, etc. Let us help you create a process you can maintain, and keep you accountable. You’ll reach those goals before you know it!

My Favorite Habit-Tracking App

For tracking my nutrition goals, I have been using —and loving!—MyFitnessPal. It is free and available for both iOS and Android devices. It is a food diary that allows you to break down your macronutrients and micronutrients. Specifically, it allows you to:

  • Establish good habits or break bad habits by becoming aware of what you’re eating and when.
  • Identify your streak target which is how many times in a row you track your food.
  • Set reminders.
  • Keep your diary private or share it with your coach for that extra level of accountability.

Refresh Your Goals

Did you set a goal at the beginning of 2020 only to be sidelined by quarantine? Yeah, me too. Remember, if we’re always looking for perfection, we may never experience progress.

Give yourself permission to refresh your goals. And remember, the practice of setting goals is not just helpful, it  can make you happier, too. Studies tell us that people who make consistent progress toward meaningful goals live happier more satisfied lives than those who don’t.

Every small change that we implement into our daily lives has the power to allows us to reach our dream accomplishment. So, go ahead and dream big – we’d love to help you get there!

Nutrition Inquiry

Congratulations to Coach Lisa, CCFT Level 3

Lisa CCFT Level 3

Give this woman a challenge and she will ATTACK it with all her might and then laugh in it’s face.

We are sending a HUGE congrats to Coach Lisa for her tenacity and dedication achieving her CrossFit Level 3!!

Over the years, Lisa has coached over 1000 hours, judged multiple competitions – some at the Games level and worked one on one with numerous clients. We are HONORED to have Lisa as part of the Salus team.

This credential she earned, the Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT) -Level 3 is for an experienced individual who wants to demonstrate a higher level of CrossFit coaching knowledge and ability. The purpose of the CCFT is to ensure that an individual possesses the knowledge and competency required to train clients safely and effectively.
————-
In Lisa’s words:
“So I passed my L3! This has been a long time in coming. Between cancer treatments and COVID shut downs, I had to reschedule all year. In fact today was the last opportunity I had to take the exam before I had to reapply! So I’m (unofficially) now a Certified CrossFit Trainer”~ @mericker21

Meet Coach Lisa
https://salusnj.com/coaches/lisa-ricker/

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Lisa Ricker (@mericker21)