Control Stress Before It Controls You

Stressed out? Constantly frustrated, tired, depressed? Don’t be surprised if you come down with something. Even if you don’t notice it, our mental health can directly affect our physical health and research shows that stress has a direct impact on weakening the immune system.

Most of us spend our days putting out fires and trying to control stress. Whether it’s handling household tasks, responding to work demands or wiping little noses, our lives are full of stress.

Here’s the thing…

Many of us thrive on those demands. We’re wired to put other people first and tackle epic to-do lists.
That is, until our energy runs out and we realize we don’t have anything left to help ourselves. One day we find ourselves mentally and emotionally drained, craving sugar and junk, canceling our workouts and feeling run down.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to break the cycle.

Control Stress for a Happy Gut

Before we dive into a few realistic tips to help you reduce stress. I just want to touch on how stress affects our gut. Most of us know that stress affects our nervous system, but many of us may not realize how much stress can affect our digestive system.

Did you know that you have more nerve cells in your bowel than in your spine. 80-90% of serotonin is made in our gut.

Healthy gut = happy you.

Under normal circumstances, our digestive system goes about its daily task of breaking down food and sending nutrients to our body while preventing the entry of toxins. But, when distressed, we experience permeability in our gut wall, and it can also lead to irritation and inflammation.

Now our gut can’t act in our defense.

Our gut communicates with every cell in our body, which means that disruptions in the gut can show up as disruptions in the brain (and vice versa). Stress (both acute and chronic) directly influences gut health and can manifest itself as seemingly unrelated symptoms such as night sweats, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, fever, etc.

In addition to learning how to control stress with the strategies listed below, we can take control of gut distress by removing common food offenders such as:

  • Lectins– This is a type of protein most commonly found in grains, legumes and peanuts that are categorized as anti-nutrients since they block the absorption of some nutrients.
  • Gluten– Commonly found in found in wheat, rye, and other grains, gluten is pretty much a buzz-word now (and requires its own post), but can lead to leaky gut, inflammation and limit nutrient absorption. Many of us are gluten intolerant and may not even realize it.
  • Casein, lactose, and other immunoglobulins in dairy. It’s estimated that between 65-75% of us are genetically unable to properly digest dairy. Being lactose intolerant can lead to digestive problems, headaches, irritated skin and in increase in mucus.

Get the root cause of your gut troubles. Take the time to learn about your body and what it’s trying to tell you through symptoms.

Control Stress

True, for some people, especially athletes, small doses of stress can stoke the fire for performance-driven motivation, alertness and focus. But, too much stress can end up having the opposite effect and lead to digestion troubles, increased anxiety, poor sleep quality and a depressed immune function which can potentially lead to some pretty serious health consequences.

From clearing out the clutter and getting outside to laughing more and spending time with a loved one, here’s how you can find a greater sense of calm and clarity in your day.

Clear the Clutter

Being in any space where we have more things in front of us than we can manage, sends a visual message that our life is out of control. That can be your closet, your office, your computer desktop, etc. For most, clutter leads to procrastination which in turn becomes chaos and added stress. This cycle repeats endlessly.
Declutter in 3,2,1…go:

  1. Tackle one (only one) small project and start with just 2 minutes at a time.
  2. If it doesn’t bring you joy (it’s neither useful or sentimental) get rid of it.
  3. If you feel like you just can’t part with it right now, put it in a box labelled with an expiration date. If you don’t open by the expiration date, give it away.

Get Outside

When was the last time you genuinely took some time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smell of nature? Research shows that ‘forest bathing,’ the practice of spending time in a wooded area is good for your mind, body and spirit.

Step outside for a moment and take 10 deep breaths, read, meditate, eat without distraction or even add in some exercise. Go for a bike ride, walk or jog…without your headphones, or even your phone.

It’s all about the state of mind that you achieve while you’re there. This will allow you to focus more on how your body feels, control stress and tap into the vital energy of the great outdoors, yes…even in the winter.

Connect With Loved Ones

If you ever needed a reason to schedule a date night, here it is!

Many of us have heard the advice before about how date nights can help keep relationships strong. But, we all know that’s easier said than done. Especially with kids. Especially during a pandemic.

So, be realistic about how it can work for you and your partner. Whether it’s simply sitting outside together after the kids have gone to bed to talk uninterrupted or scheduling a “walk and talk,” make a date with your partner…and make every effort not to cancel on each other.

Studies show that time invested in being alone — together, without the kids or the chores — results in happier couples. Plus, if that time alone is spent getting freaky, you could reduce the stress response even more, see a boost immunity, relieve pain and sleep better, too.

Laugh More

A good laugh can place most stressful issues into a different light and help turn something negative around.

It really is the best medicine for controlling stress.

Laughing increases endorphins released by your brain, stimulates circulation and aids in muscle relaxation, improves immune system and even relieves pain. But, we don’t need studies to tell us that laughing can help reduce anxiety and ease mental stress, making us happier, healthier and just more fun to be around!

Go ahead, read a funny joke…then share it with someone; watch a funny movie with a friend; or just act a little silly and experience a mood lift asap.

Take Control of Stress Before It Controls You

Take perspective of stressful situations surrounding you right now. If the nightly news elevates your heart rate, turn off the TV. If traffic makes you tense up, use that time to listen to something calming, listen to an educational podcast or audiobook.

Ask Yourself

If there something in your life that’s making you anxious, how can you focus your time and energy elsewhere and take control of your environment?

For example: choose a small section of your house to declutter, do the dishes, download a playlist for your drive to work.

Go ahead…do it now!

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Changing Habits

 

Changing Habits With Success

Changing habits, like changing a training program, comes with a natural ebb and flow. One day you’re making tremendous progress and the next day you feel like you’ve regressed. It’s an normal (and important) part of the process.

It’s normal, but it’s not easy.

I get it, finding a steady rhythm of consistency to change your habits and food choices can be challenging. But thankfully there are a couple proven ways that you can set yourself up for success: choosing your battles and staying focused on your goals in as many ways possible!

Changing Habits Against the Odds

Working on changing your habits?

Here are 2 quick tips to help you navigate the lows and come out on top.

1. Choose your battles.

You don’t always have to fight the lows.
Be smart and instead, change the timing of your highs.
For example, it’s 10:00 pm and you still have an hour of work to do (and mobility…and have to get up early for your kid’s soccer game). You sink into the couch, open your laptop and the eyelids start to flutter immediately. Your first instinct may be to fight through the fatigue with less than stellar focus, nodding your head a few times before giving in to the pillow… But this time, try a new approach. Close the laptop, hit your 10 minutes of mobility then go to bed so you get your 7 hours (or even 6) of quality sleep. Set your alarm 20-30 minutes earlier and knock out that work you had to do with a fresh mind.

2. Write down your goals, post them close by and remind yourself of them often.

Keep them eye level at your desk reminding you to drink water, on your mirror reminding you to attack your goals, on the refrigerator reminding you to eat more greens or even on the TV to remind you to stretch.
Because, that exact moment you’re on a downward trend, that little post-it written in your own handwriting will remind yourself of those important goals and help you keep plugging away. And during those awesome moments when you’re on the upward trend, having your goals front-of-mind will help to channel your energy in the right direction.
Success!

Changing Habits is Tough – We’re only human after all.

Some days you’ll be able to make it to the box on time, smash out a productive day of work, cook a clean meal, fit in the time for your family and get to bed on time.
Other days, your day feels like it drags on forever and the only thing you can imagine doing is watching Netflix.

Like everything else in life, goals come with its ups and downs. You can’t escape them. But you can learn how to navigate through.

Ask Yourself

What has been the most significant change you’ve made toward your goals recently and what can you to to increase your confidence that you’ll be able to carry them over with you through life?

Making those connections is key to your long-term success. Good luck working on your goals! Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions along the way.

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

I challenge you to strive for progress not perfection.

Focus on making an improvement, growing, learning, understanding more about your body, but allow room for imperfection. Just a little wiggle room.

In other words, set the bar high, but be nice to YOU.

Salus Nutrition is about building a new awareness of how certain habits can directly impact your energy, mood, performance, sleep and more. I also want to help you improve your relationship with food and get you working towards the body and mind you’ve always wanted – all while connecting and engaging with the people and activities that make you most happy!

Sure, every day will be filled with obstacles and lots of learning about your own body, but you don’t need to go through it alone. Head to our private Facebook Page – and join the conversation!

Holistic Change

It’s about creating new holistic habits, so in order to make a real sustainable change we need to dig a little deeper than the food we put on our plate. The following questions will help guide you through this challenge. I encourage you to write the answers down in a journal, and consider talking about them with a friend to help you stay accountable. What you choose to do with your answers is up to you!

I realize some of the “mindfulness” parts of this program may make you feel a little uncomfortable. Remember that at the beginning of every great change is a bit of discomfort. I challenge you to test the boundaries of your comfort zone.

You will start to learn more about yourself than ever before which will directly contribute to your success.

Where are you now? What does 3 months from now look like?

Day 1 is all about defining your journey and setting an intention for yourself.

Ask yourself these 5 questions, and let’s get started. Find a quiet place (if you’re a parent, I suggest locking yourself in the bathroom – just kidding – or am I LOL), bring your pen, journal or if you prefer…voice to text. And come with an open mind.

  1. What is my “why”? Write down the key motivating factors for starting your journey.
  2. What are my main priorities coming out of this challenge? Where do I want to be?
  3. Does my current lifestyle reflect and support my main motivations, purpose, and priorities? If not, start this journey with a commitment to change that, now!
  4. What does the end of this challenge look like and feel like? Be as descriptive as possible and include things like the activities you will be doing, the outfits you will wear, the emotions you will feel, the energy levels you will have, the people that will be around you.
  5. What are 3 things I will adhere to on this journey that are not negotiable. For example:
    “I will sleep a minimum of 7 hours a day.” or  “I will eat a balanced-out portion breakfast every day.”
    Post this list somewhere that you can view it every day.

Progress Not Perfection

Before you begin this journey to a happier and healthier you I want you to keep this one thing in mind – strive for progress not perfection.

Remember that this is a journey of self-improvement and it does not define you. If you finish the day with less than perfect points, guess what? You’re human. If you made one improvement in your lifestyle today, that’s a WIN! Celebrate that and strive to make one more change tomorrow.

Remember, when you act from a place of “progress” (one improvement – one step at a time), you will be much more likely to succeed in the long run (after the challenge is over…that’s the point of this, right?).

Any questions? Shoot them my way. I’m always happy to help…seriously. Don’t hesitate! Email me at info@salusnj.com

Let’s get this party started!

Accountability: Do You Have a Plan?

accountability partner

Accountability Within A Strong Support Group

One of the things we love most about this challenge is the awesome community. Give advice, get advice: when you share advice, recipes, tips and tricks, you help others succeed and get inspired in return.  What it all boils down to is having accountability within a strong support group.

As we near the end of our nutrition challenge, it’s the perfect time to start thinking of this very thing.

Stay on Course with Accountability

Any time you decide to make a change it’s normal to feel nervous, experience discomfort, and excitement. And maybe feel all of those things at the same time. No one said it was going to be easy, right? Thankfully there are some tips help you stay the course after the challenge is over.

Accountability within a strong support group is incredibly important. Having a support system or a method to “check in” with yourself is guaranteed to increase your likelihood of success. In fact, it can make the difference between being successful and giving up.

ac·count·a·ble
əˈkoun(t)əb(ə)l/
adjective
Required or expected to justify actions or decisions.

Sure, you could do this alone. But not if you want to reach your full potential.
And, often it’s easier – and more fun – with some help.

According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people with whom you habitually associate are called your reference group and these people determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.

Tips to Stay Accountable

Share Your Goal

Write down your realistic goal, post it somewhere visible or put it in your calendar as a weekly reminder. Then make that goal public. Few things push someone like a deadline can… And an audience. If you tell others what you intend to do it you’ll work harder.

Be Prepared

Growth happens from taking action. And taking action almost always brings criticism along with it. Be prepared for that. Move forward anyways.

Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “Whatever course you decide upon there’s always someone to tell you that you are wrong. They are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a plan of action and follow it to the end requires… courage.”

Find a Buddy or Two

Jim Rohn asserted that we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most. He believed that we start to eat what they eat talk like they talk read what they read think like they think watch what they watch and dress like they dress.

Find a buddy or two who will not only help you stay on track, but who will also be there to share your struggles and celebrations. This person should be someone who has their own fitness or nutrition goals.

Talk weekly and go over each other’s progress. Schedule time to work out together, share recipes & check in to help each other stay accountable.

You need people around you who will support you in your efforts to achieve your goals. Not sabotage them.

Get a Coach

A neutral third party can help take some of the stress off you and help make life easier. This person should be someone you can relate to, trust and feel comfortable talking with. At Salus Nutrition, coaching is completely personalized to help you feel your best. Working strategically with science as the backbone, we’ll teach you how to become more aware of your mind and body connection and the impact that it can have on your overall health.

Check In

Check in with yourself daily. And remember to listen to your body. When I’m stressed, I tend to hold tension in my shoulders immediately. That’s a sign to take a step back, call myself out and dive a little deeper into what is really bothering me: am I sleep deprived, over-training, under-eating, over-stressed?

When you check in with yourself it’s a great way to be in the present moment, get back on track with your goals and learn about yourself on a deeper level.

When we learn about our bodies, we then get to own the power to change the way we feel.

What about you?

How do you plan to stay accountable to your goals? What has worked for you in the past (and what hasn’t worked)?

I want to know. Leave me a message below or shoot me an email at angela@salusnj.com.

In Good Health,

Coach Angela

Nutrition Inquiry

Endocrine Disruptors: What Are They? How Do I Avoid Them?

So, you’re drinking all your water, awesome! But now it’s time to step it up a notch and ditch the plastic bottles…and the endocrine disruptors that come along with them.

What Are Endocrine Disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors can be natural or man-made substances that interfere with our body’s endocrine system (hormone and cell signaling) and can lead to harmful developmental, neurological, immune and reproductive effects.

Maybe you’ve heard about BPA? It’s known to disrupt hormones and can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, leading to hormone imbalances. BPA has been linked to insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, liver damage, ADHD, infertility (for men and women) and altered gene expression

But, guess what? BPA-free doesn’t mean you’re safe from the health hazards of plastic.

A study published in Environmental Health indicates that almost all plastics, including BPA- and phthalate-free products, release chemicals with estrogenic activity. Bisphenol S (BPS) and triphenyl phosphate (TPP) are two chemicals often found in BPA-free products. Items containing these chemicals have been marketed as “safe” alternatives to BPA-containing plastics, but it turns out that BPS has endocrine-disrupting effects that are very similar to BPA, and TPP is even more estrogenic than BPA.

What Endocrine Disruptors Do?

Our endocrine system consists of glands that release hormones. Once released, those hormones act like chemical messenger that travel throughout our body, bind to target receptors on certain cells and cause predictable cellular change.

Endocrine disruptors mimic our naturally occurring hormones and end up binding to receptors which in turn changes our hormone creation, transport, binding and breakdown. They’re very stable which means they don’t break down easily (why manufacturers use them in products) and also means they stick around in our bodies for a long time.

When our hormonal systems are altered, it can lead to disrupted metabolism, immune function, bone health & mental status, altered testicular function & conversion of cholesterol to steroid hormones, oxidative stress, promotion of obesity and more.

Where are endocrine disruptors found?

We’re exposed to a cocktail of endocrine disruptors every day and probably don’t even know it.

They’re found in our plastic bottles, probably in your carpet and most likely in your drug store beauty care products. They’re even food packaging, shower curtains, cleaning products, children’s toys, canned food and of course water bottles (even BPA-free). That’s right, we’re constantly being bombarded with hormonal manipulators. They’re everywhere.

In fact, the CDC has found over 92% of people tested, including newborns, have detectable levels of BPA and other plastic chemicals in their bodies.

Yikes!

The good news? We can control most of our exposure.

Tips to Avoid Endocrine Disruptors

Research finds that BPA, phthalates and other plastics have harmful effects at both high and very low doses. Given the above evidence, I recommend trying to avoid all kinds of plastic, even ones labeled as BPA-free.

  • Use glass and stainless steel whenever possible for drinking, cooking, eating and storing food.
  • Never reheat your food in plastic containers or wash them in the dishwasher. Use glass.
  • Don’t cook with plastic utensils. Instead opt for bamboo or wood.
  • Use parchment paper or a lid from a pot to cover your food instead of plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
  • Watch what you eat (avoid canned foods and choose organic when possible).
  • Cook with cast iron instead of nonstick pans which can also hide endocrine disruptors.
  • Use a stainless steel thermos to pack your kids lunches instead of plastic baggies.
  • Don’t forget to say “no, thank you” to your receipt, as these have BPA coating as well.
  • Take a look at your (and your kids) cosmetic and personal care products (sunscreens, lotions, make up, soap, etc). Avoid those that contain phthalates in the ingredients and find natural replacements.
  • Choose wood or fabric toys for children instead of plastic.
  • Swap out those plastic water bottles and shaker bottles for an insulated stainless steel or glass (just make sure you keep the lid clean from mold).

Choosing what we put into and on our bodies can have an enormous impact on our health.

What steps do you currently take to avoid plastic? Are there some things you have difficulty finding alternatives for?

Take action, today… and every day.

Consider going plastic-free on your next water bottle purchase. But, remember: No matter what nutritional or lifestyle changes you’re here to make, you have to get better at making a change in the first place if you want those changes to stick.

One realistic step at a time. 

More on our Salus Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:

Eating Out and Staying In Control

Eating Out and Staying In Control

Once you’ve made the decision to eat clean, dining out can be a minefield, and can often stir up some anxiety. In attempt to help you from freaking out when you’re eating out, I’ve outlined some simple tips below. Try it at your next business lunch, family celebration or date night.

Ready? Let’s Order.

eating outEating Out: Navigating Restaurant Emotions

First, accept that you just might be considered “that person.” You know, that one who asks all the questions about the menu, make some substitutions and still might have to send something back.
Yup, that might be you.
If you’ve made a commitment to make smarter choices about what you’re eating, you need to do some due diligence. So, instead of sitting back and feeling self-conscious about your new lifestyle, own that shit.
Hopefully you’ve already had the conversation with those you’re dining with, but if you haven’t, let them ask you some questions and answer in a positive light (saying things like “I choose to have xyz” rather than, “I can’t have xyz”).

Also, instead of judging what they choose to order, lead by example.
So, before you start listing off your questions and substitutions, let your server know that you have a few special requests but you’re willing to wait patiently for the changes and that you really appreciate their help. The more they feel your appreciation, the more they’ll show you the same courtesy.

Do Your Research Before You Go

If you know where you’re going ahead of time, do your homework about the menu. Browse through their online menu and take note of any table-temptations (like warm bread or chips and salsa) so you can be mentally prepared. These temptations can also be avoided by my eating something little before you go so you’re not hangry while you’re waiting for your food.

If you have more time, call the restaurant and ask about the oils they use for cooking. This can help you decide which meals have the red light. If you’re on a roll and have their attention, why not ask about how their ingredients are sourced. Do they use a local farmer or a distributor? What about their meats – are they organic or conventionally farmed? If you’re headed to a restaurant that features local or organic, they’re going to be more than happy to share that information with you.

Once you pick a few items on the menu that look promising, take a look at their nutritional value. My Fitness Pal has a decent database to help you navigate eating out. You can either choose by GPS location or search the restaurant name.

Pick Your Protein First

When you find a grass-fed burger or organic, free-range chicken, it’s time to celebrate and bookmark that restaurant as a favorite. But, when you’re eating out, you’re going to find that most restaurants use conventionally-sourced (factory-farmed) meat. In that case, use this as a guide to help you navigate your choices.

  • Your best bet is to choose steamed or grilled fish or lean cuts of red meat (think: sirloin steak). Aim for as lean as possible to avoid fat-stored toxins consumed by factory-farmed animals.
  • Your next best choice is going to be grilled chicken without the skin or a no-bun-burger or even eggs (depending on the oil used). Often, you’ll have no choice but to be at the mercy of vegetable oils. Even high-end restaurants cook with it. Learn to navigate smarter options that require no oil (or less of it), and you’ll set yourself up for success.
  • Finally, the avoid at all costs protein choice when eating out: factory-farmed pork in any form (this includes bacon, sausage, hot dogs), anything skin-on, fried or swimming in sauce.

Be Meticulous

Don’t be embarrassed to take an extra few minutes to read over the menu, if you didn’t have a chance to do it beforehand. Ask questions about the cooking methods before you choose your meal.

  • When possible choose grilled or steamed foods. These will be your safest choice.
  • Sauteed dishes are cooked in fat (and most restaurants cook their vegetables this way). Ask for them to be steamed and served undressed.
  • Roasted might sound like a good choice, they’re just cooked in an oven, right? Wrong. These dishes are usually blasted with fat (not the good kind) to keep them from drying out.
  • Fried. No chance. Moving on….

Relax

foundation nutrition progress not perfectionProgress, not perfection. That’s our mantra right now.
Do what you can to make the smartest choice and keep your meal compliant. And, even if you can’t control the menu, you can control your portions. Use your hand a guide to help you from going overboard.

Then, it’s time to relax and enjoy your company. Remember to also show your appreciation with a tip for your server, too.

Ask Yourself

Last week we tried to make our favorite foods/drink fit within portion control guidelines. If you did, how did that go?

Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful, but it takes a little more work.

How will you be using any of these tips the next time you’re eating out?

Please share your response on our Facebook page.

If you have any questions about your individual needs, set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about our one-on-one nutrition health coaching with Angela.

More on our Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:

Personal Improvement

Setting Personal Improvement Goals

So, you’ve set some personal improvement goals outside of work. You’re most likely learning a lot about what is most important to you, managing your time a little better and creating new habits for lasting change. How do you keep that momentum going strong in the face of ups and downs?

It’s true, goals take patience and persistence, but without them we tend to get caught up in the inessentials and give our precious time and energy to activities, that in reality, don’t necessarily further our long-term growth. Personal improvement goals not only keep you motivated, but they help you grow in other areas of your life as well making a positive impact on stress, strengthening social relationships and improving health, too.

Here’s how to keep personal improvement goals a part of your life long after the initial excitement fades out.

Setting Personal Improvement GoalsSetting Personal Improvement Goals… for Life

Line Up Personal Improvement Goals With Values

Personal improvement means different things to different people but can encompass anything from spirituality to charitable work to expanding your knowledge.

We all have a set a values which are a vital part of who we are. For some, helping people is something they strongly value, for others it may be that solving problems makes them feel alive. Whatever it is that you value in life, it’s important that your goals are aligned. This will also help you to identify anything that’s holding you back along the way.

Prioritize Health

Taking care of your health (nutrition, exercise, sleep, rest and recovery, etc) can make a huge impact on your energy and the success of your personal improvement goals. If health is compromised, for example, you’re sleep deprived, stressed or hangry, it’s far more difficult to focus on anything else.

Surround Yourself with Support

Everything is easier when you have a friend or family to help you along the way. Lean on the momentum of a supportive influencer who can cheer you on when you experience a win and help you stand up when you fall. Tell them about your goals so they can help you stay accountable. And remember to be this kind of person for others, too.

Setting Personal Improvement GoalsKeep Pursuing Goals

Self improvement takes focus, time and energy, especially if you experience ups and downs along the way (which you probably will). Remind yourself to take small, solid steps and that slip-ups are just a part of the process. Learn from them.

Whether your goals are to learn a new language, take time to read daily, go for a bike ride in the woods or simply spend a few moments of time alone to clear your mind, here are a few other apps to help you stay on track with your goals: HabitBull, Time Planner, Strides, Habit Streak, and even Google.

Ask Yourself

What goals personal improvement goals are you currently working towards and what do you intend to pursue next?

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” -Tony Robbins

More on our Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog: