Life After the Nutrition Challenge

life after challenge

Life After the Nutrition Challenge

You made it! After weeks of clean eating, being mindful of your portions, staying hydrated, exercising, mobilizing, sleeping like a baby, working toward your goals and motivating everyone around you! But, now what? What happens after the nutrition challenge?

Preparing for life after a nutrition challenge is not a huge topic many nutrition challenges address (resulting in a lot of those notorious ups and downs). But, since we’re all about making changes for LIFE (not just during the challenge), here are a few things to keep in mind.

Dealing with All the Occasions

Although things look a little different this year, we will inevitably be faced with vacations, holidays, celebrations, unexpected dinners out, soon enough. These are important moments – they’re happening now, they’ll be facing you next month, next holiday…each and every year. And you should be able to enjoy them without stressing out. “How will I deal with those road bumps,” you ask?

By practicing your new set of skills.

Hopefully you feel armed and ready to attack the real world with all the knowledge, new habits and shift in your mindset. As you’ve learned, being mindful with what, when and how you eat is a skill that must be practiced regularly.

Whether it’s a celebratory beer at the beach on the fourth of July, a taste of your nephew’s birthday cake or those famous nachos you’ve been dreaming about, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

“Learning is discovering that something is possible.” ~Fritz Perls

Once you are comfortable with your normal, day-to-day quality and quantity choices, it is okay to enjoy a splurge “treat” once and a while. But remember, this is not an excuse to go off the rails and eat everything in sight. Take this time to practice the skills you have learned throughout our journey – rely on your hand for portion sizes, stay in tune with your body’s fullness signals (think 80%), stay away from those things you know are going to make you feel like crap the next day (refined sugars, etc), plan ahead (be mindful) and hey, don’t stress about it.

Turn your focus more on who you are with, your surroundings and how the food tastes.

But, I get it. It may not only be dinners out or fancy celebrations that pop up. Sometimes, we just feel physically or mentally exhausted… and all we want to do is veg with our meal in front of the TV. And that’s OK. It’s impossible to be perfect 100% of the time…I’m sure as heck am not.

And no one expects us to be.

The biggest challenge we’ll ever face is that of our mind. When we don’t do what we believe or feel deep down in our gut to be “right,” we won’t feel good. And our bodies will show it. But, if we live according to our values (and often, healthy choices), life “flows” much more effortlessly. You must be willing to face your own doubts and fears. You know you’re going to face difficult situations in the future.

You can’t control the future. But you can control the choices you make, your reactions and your mindset.

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

No matter where you are, practice what you learned over the challenge and keep your mindset…and portions, in check.

Identify Your Goals for After the Nutrition Challenge

After the nutrition challenge is over, it’s important to clearly identify your goals going forward.  Figure out your long term and short term goals. This will help you stay motivated and find a clear (and safe) path to take.

If you love how you felt over the past few weeks and have decided this is now how you’d like to continue living life. Keep doing what you’re doing! Find an alternate way to stay on top of clean eating meal prep and check-in with your goals regularly – whether that’s with a buddy, a coach, an app. There’s not necessarily one right answer for that, different things motivate different people.

If you love how you felt over the past few weeks, but you’ve decided to add back in some of the foods you were avoiding (gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods, sugars, etc), it’s important to carefully re-introduce them slowly to avoid feeling ill. If you had an “off-day” any time over the challenge, you know exactly what I mean.

Here’s what you need to know about reintroducing foods back into your life after the nutrition challenge.

Implementing an Elimination Reintroduction Plan After Your Nutrition Challenge

Think of this lifestyle nutrition challenge as a bit of a science experiment in the sense that I want you to realize that food isn’t just fuel…it’s information. Every bite we eat sends messages to our body and our body responds. Sometimes louder than others.

Think about this: the GI tract doesn’t just have the job of digesting and absorbing food…. It also has its own working nervous system (the enteric nervous system). That means our gastrointestinal tract is abundant in neurotransmitters, chemical messengers, bacteria, enzymes and hormones. That’s pretty awesome, right?

But now consider this: given the amount of devoted resources our body needs for a properly functioning GI tract, when things go wrong in our gut, all hell breaks loose. From microbial imbalances and detoxification abnormalities to motility issues and inflammation, food intolerances or sensitivities can directly contribute to gut problems like gas pains and bloating, AND it can also harm other body systems at the same time.

GI disturbances have been linked to unwanted symptoms such as arthritis, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, asthma, addiction, migraines, mood disorders, kidney problems and a whole slew of other conditions.

Proceed with Caution

So, all that being said, after you’ve eliminated potential food sensitivities throughout this challenge and you’re ready to reintroduce some of these foods back into your diet, you must proceed with caution.

1. Grab a pen and paper or use a handy app like myfitnesspal where you can record what you eat and jot down notes about how you felt after and monitor yourself for symptoms.
2. Slowly reintroduce only a SINGLE food group that you previously eliminated for one day only. Then monitor yourself for two days. (example: if you decide to reintroduce dairy on Monday, that day you might try milk in the morning, some cheese at lunch and maybe even a little cottage cheese at night). The key word being: slowly.
3. Monitor yourself for any abnormal reactions through Wednesday. Negative reactions to watch out for include: insomnia, fatigue, joint pain, skin breakouts, headaches, bowel changes, brain fog, bloating and even respiratory issues.
4. If you don’t notice any negative symptoms, it’s time to reintroduce a different food (example: sugar) on Thursday. Proceed with the same timeline as above.
5. Continue this process for a few weeks, reintroducing one new food only every few days, no sooner.

Depending on how much you eliminated, this process could take up to 6 weeks, but at the end of the experiment, you’ll know a whole heck of a lot about your body and how it responds to different foods…which as you saw above, can give you more than just gas and bloating.

The bottom line: Don’t waste all your effort over the last few weeks. Take the time to learn even more about your body and how it responds to your every day choices.

Reflections on Your Lifestyle and Nutrition Challenge

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this lifestyle and nutrition challenge. As your Nutrition Coach, it is my goal to educate and inspire you to develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. I has been a pleasure guiding you through and I hope I’ve helped you:

  • Have the desire to eat more fresh, minimally-processed foods.
  • Discover how to balance lean protein, veggies, nutrient-dense carbohydrates and healthy fats.
  • Learn to adjust portions that directly meet health, performance and body composition goals.
  • Become aware that many other areas, in addition to nutrition, affect our physical and mental state. Sleep, environment, hydration, exercise…they all play a role, too.

Please Share

I genuinely appreciate any and all feedback on your experience, so please take a moment to drop a review on Google or Facebook.
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Create Healthy Nutrition Habits for Life

And, after the challenge, if you’re interested in learning more about a customized plan that really dials in to your individual health and nutrition needs, or you have any other nutrition-related questions, reach out to info@salusnj.com to set up a free 15-minute consultation.

Check out our series of posts from previous nutrition challenges:

Mindful Eating

When was the last time you truly paid attention to what you were eating — when you truly savored the experience of a meal? Often, we eat on autopilot, inhaling our food while our attention is on the TV, laptop or our phone.

Mindful eating encourages us to remove those distractions and sit uninterrupted for a meal. In doing so, we begin to take our time, eat more slowly, and reconnect with our senses.

Mindful Eating: Slow Down for a Moment

Why do you eat when you eat?
Are you hungry, bored, stressed?

Today, we’re going to review some simple ways to recognize these habits (you may not even realize you’re doing it), and talk about ways to navigate around them for more mindful eating.

Eat With Your Brain

Most of us are guilty of aimlessly walking into the fridge after just eating a meal, opening it up and searching for something else to eat.

Are we really still hungry or maybe it’s just that we’re bored… or simply in the habit of grabbing something sweet after dinner. There are so many different environmental factors that play a role in mindless eating. And many we don’t even recognize.

In order for the body to realize it is becoming full it needs to work with the mind. When you pay attention when eat, you not only allow yourself time to feel full, but studies show that you’ll also enjoy what you’re eating more.

Refresh your perspective.

Diets and challenges are pretty much synonymous with short-term restriction and feelings of deprivation. Because of this most diets fail after the first week. Of course, we’re not going to let that happen.

Prepare healthy, not convenient, food and refresh your perspective on the healthy habit changes you’re starting to implement to embrace them as a lifelong change.

Be present.

Mindful eating simply invites us to be present during the cooking process or while eating. It allows us to truly savor our food without experiencing any judgment, guilt, anxiety, or sabotaging inner self-talk. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Sit down when you eat.
  • Take a breath and appreciate what is in front of you and be present in the moment.
  • Take a look at the ingredients list and read each word. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, put it down (and then don’t buy it again).
  • Giving thanks or saying a mantra to yourself might help you slow down. Try something like: “I eat to nourish and energize my body.”
  • Keep practicing. Just like any habit, mindful eating takes practice.
  • Put down distractions…

Put down distractions.

Distractions take away from our intention to appreciate the food on our plate. Its texture, smell, taste and how it will benefit our bodies, energy, performance, etc. Try to identify when something other than hunger is making you want to eat and then steer your attention to your goal oriented activity instead.

Listen, I’m a mom of twins. I know a distraction when I see one. Use what you’re learning as a teaching tool for your children, but set real expectations. Help them instill mindful eating habits early on to set them up for success later in life. It won’t happen overnight… and they will most likely get distracted by the bunny in your yard time and time again. But, if you can you can make an effort to be present as a family, just a little bit at a time, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Food for Thought

Where were you at lunchtime or dinner time yesterday?

Who was with you and what did you talk about?

If you were alone, did you do anything else besides eat?

What was your mood like when you were eating?

Some days we won’t be able to remember the answers to these questions. The truth is, some days we’ll be lucky enough to sneak in a meal in between meetings and kids practice.

Make an effort to enjoy a peaceful meal over the next couple days.

Don’t let food become a mindless afterthought.

Take a Deep Breath

Now sit down, take a deep breath and really savor what you’re eating. And then read more on The New York Times, “Mindful Eating as Food for Thought.”

“The rhythm of life is becoming faster and faster, so we really don’t have the same awareness and the same ability to check into ourselves. That’s why mindful eating is becoming more important. We need to be coming back to ourselves and saying: ‘Does my body need this? Why am I eating this? Is it just because I’m so sad and stressed out?’

For many people, eating fast means eating more. Mindful eating is meant to nudge us beyond what we’re craving so that we wake up to why we’re craving it and what factors might be stoking the habit of belly-stuffing.”

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

DISCLAIMER: It’s important to note that individuals dealing with an eating disorder should first consult with a  health care professional before incorporating mindful eating as part of a broader strategy.

Hangry? We’ve All Been There

Ever felt hangry?

If this word isn’t familiar to you, the feeling probably is. (I used to experience hanger a fair share when the kids were young, to be honest).

Have you ever snapped at someone right before dinner or when you were grocery shopping on an empty stomach? It’s possible you were having a bad day, but it could have been because you were hangry.

What is Hangry?

“Hangry” has actually been added to the Oxford English dictionary. If you go look it up you may see a picture of me circa 2010 with two infants demanding all of my energy and attention.

/ˈhaNGɡrē/
Adjective informal

Bad-tempered, irritable or angry as a result of feeling hungry.

Hungry + Angry=Hangry.

As in: “I get very hangry if I miss a meal which makes me want to bite someone’s head off.”

Yup, we’ve all been there before. That awful feeling when you are stuck between an early lunch and a late dinner. Hangry is a very real feeling. And it’s actually a signal from your brain.

S.O.S. Hangry is a Signal From Your Brain

When you go too long without food, we can reach the point when a perfectly pleasant person turns into an irritable monster. Oh, and our blood glucose levels start to drop making it harder to control our emotions. This can also trigger the release of stress hormones making it even harder to control anger and other other less than stellar symptoms including:

Mood Swings-

Low blood sugar levels can cause us to feel unusually irritated, anxious and moody.

It’s not just in your head.

A study published in the journal, Physiology and Behavior, found that low blood sugar induced a state of “tense-tiredness” that caused study participants to have more negative outlooks on certain life situations.

Feel like crying when you’re hungry? So do I.

Hulking Out-

Feeling the urge to lash out at your kids or friends when you’re normally calm, cool and collected?

You’re not alone.

Studies have shown that intimate partners are more likely to get angry with each other when their blood sugar levels were lower than normal. When we are hangry, nothing else matters.

Lack of Willpower-

When you’re beyond hungry, you might have a harder time sticking to your goals. Self control is compromised when glucose levels are low which can lead to impulse decisions and overeating.

For example, when you normally pass on the bread basket at dinner, if you’re hangry, you’re pretty much liking the plate clean.

Fatigue-

Being hangry can also result in fatigue, dizziness, headaches, foggy thinking, a decrease in motivation and just not feeling like yourself.

What the Science Says

So, why does this happen again? Why do we get so angry when we’re hungry?

We already know that glucose states get low when people are hungry. The brain requires glucose. If glucose is low, it doesn’t function properly. But, newer research states that ‘hanger’ might be more complicated than just a drop in blood sugar. It appears to be a complicated emotional response between biology, personality and environmental cues.

“Our bodies play a powerful role in shaping our moment-to-moment experiences, perceptions and behaviors – whether we are hungry versus full, tired versus rested or sick versus healthy. If you are feeling a little grumpy, take a step back and think about your emotions for a bit – it might help you from turning into a hangry mess.”

Hanger Management

Today’s questions aren’t quite as deep as the others but can have a profound impact on how you handle situations going forward to prevent this rollercoaster of blood sugar and emotions.

Have you ever felt hangry before? When and what symptoms did you experience?

What steps can you take to start listening to your body and give it what it needs to function at its best instead of ignoring important signs and ending up… Hangry?

Listen, I can empathize. Feeling out of control with our emotions is frustrating, especially when food is involved. But, thankfully, in most cases, hangry can be managed by making better food choices, focusing on quality, quantity and timing.

Quality-

Food quality matters. If you usually reach for processed carbohydrates like cereal for breakfast, your blood glucose levels probably tend to rise quickly which may lead to more extreme crashes later in the morning, leaving you hangry.

Want to avoid that rollercoaster?

It’s best to choose whole, nutrient dense foods that help you feel full longer and offer vitamins, minerals. Next time you’re in a mega-rush for breakfast, reach for something like a banana with a thumb portion of unsweetened almond butter and a hard-boiled egg.

Quantity-

Despite your lack of glucose driven hanger, don’t think you should just reach for a giant donut to fight off symptoms.

That will surely backfire.

As a general guideline, mix in a balanced portion of carbohydrates, protein and fat at each meal.

Refer to our recent post about proper portions.

Timing-

Like our bodies, our brain also needs fuel to function properly. Don’t wait until you feel overly hungry to eat.

For many people, this means eating more frequent portions than the typical three meals a day. If you know you’re the type of person who is prone to feeling hangry, plan ahead and meal prep a small snack to have in a pinch.

Fight Off Hanger by Listening to Your Body

Get in tune with your body and the signals it is giving you rather than brushing it off. Body communication and awareness is key:

  • Rest when you are tired.
  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Move when you are stressed.

So, on a scale from one to #hangry, how ready are you get control and listen to your body and its cues? Once you do that, you’ll better manage your own chemical and hormonal reactions which will do wonders for your mind, body and spirit (and hanger-state).

Stay connected, friends.

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

Plan Ahead

Set Real Expectations

Overcoming Procrastination: Just Do the Dishes Already

 

This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice.

Balancing Macronutrients for Energy

Balancing Macronutrients for Energy

Macronutrients, you probably know them as “macros,” include carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each one plays a significant role our health, affecting our energy levels and body composition, our ability to do work and recover from exercise as well as our fight against chronic disease.

Today, we’re going to touch on energy balance and how the kind of macronutrients you choose (for example, minimally processed versus highly processed) and amount of each, can affect our body’s natural ability to control appetite and fullness cues as well as hormones and mood.

Macronutrients and Calories

You’ve heard of a Calorie. Technically speaking, a Calorie is a unit of heat measurement; kcal is used to express food energy, representing a Calorie. Different macronutrients make up different amounts of heat:

  • Fat contains 9 kcal per gram
  • Carbohydrates contain 4 kcal per gram
  • Protein contains 4 kcal per gram
  • Alcohol contains 7 kcal per gram

While we lose some of this potential energy through digestion and excretion, our bodies still do a good job of saving much of this energy for the resynthesis of ATP (using about 90% of the energy in our food, actually). But some factors can affect the nutrient and energy content of the foods we eat: soil and growing conditions such as climate and sunlight as well as ripeness at time of harvest (in season produce vs out of season) can affect the nutrient makeup of our produce.

Additionally, the length of storage and how we prepare and cook our food can also impact the amount of energy and nutrients we get from food (cooking, for example, usually makes more energy available, and can reduce the nutrient availability).

Metabolism

The amount of energy required for our individual physiological actions is referred to as metabolism. This includes:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR)– This is the level of energy we need to maintain vital functions of the body and stay alive.
  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR)– Similar to BMR, RMR is measured during rest and takes into account our oxygen consumption which is related to energy production.
  • Thermic effect of feeding (TEF)– The very act of eating and digesting will increase our metabolism. Our metabolic activity changes depending on what macros we eat: the thermic effect, or production of heat (proteins tend to have the highest thermic response, fats tend to have the lowest thermic response).
  • Exercise activity– Exercise activity obviously varies from person to person. The higher intensity exercise activity, the higher demand for energy transfer during and after the activity.
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)– This refers to all our daily life movement that isn’t considered deliberate exercise such as cleaning, playing with our kids, etc.

Why am I going into all this detail?

Everybody’s Macronutrient Needs Will Differ

It’s important to understand that every body will differ in their energy needs and without a proper balance our energy systems can get out of whack. For example, restrictive dieting and chronic stress can both lower our RMR by up to 15% which can affect our body weight as well as our physiological function and cells’ function.

If our energy intake is too low, for example carbs or fat stores are in short supply, our body will turn to protein from our muscles and even other structures such as bone which means that our bodies won’t recover properly. Not good for athletes. On the flip side, if we have too much energy coming in and not enough going out, it can affect our body weight, hormone balance, mental health and more.

We definitely don’t want either of those things to happen.

Macronutrient Balance and Planning Are Key

That’s why a proper macronutrient balance, along with exercise is essential. As a general reference, refer to our post on portions, “Do I Need To Count Macros?” for more information on portion guidelines.

Take the time to plan out your meals for the days ahead and remember to pack enough snacks to ensure you have a good balance of macronutrients.

Sharing Best Practices

Tap into your inner chef today and help others get creative with their food choices to stay balanced.

What are some of your favorite recipes or go-to recipe websites to look for challenge-approved meal ideas?
Also, what are some of your favorite local restaurants in Monmouth County that have good alternatives?

Please share your response on our Facebook page.

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

More on our Salus Nutrition Health Coaching blog:

Nutrition Inquiry

When Should You Choose Organic?

when to go organic

If You Choose Organic, Does That Mean It’s Healthy?

“Organic” always means “healthy,” right? Well, sometimes. Choose organic foods and you’ll avoid a lot of toxic chemicals, which is ideal… but think twice before you rely on the “organic” label just to justify that organic pastry or lollipop for your kids.when to go organic

What separates conventional farming from the organic way?

The National Organic Program, a regulatory program within the USDA has established national standards for organically grown foods. To earn the label of “organic” in the U.S., farmers must adhere to certain standards such as: submit to audits conducted by accredited certifying agents, give animals access to the outdoors, make use of crop rotation, mechanical tillage, hand-weeding and other management methods to control weed growth. They must NOT: treat animals with antibiotics, growth hormones, or feed made from animal byproducts, fertilize with sewage sludge, apply prohibited substances to their land for at least three years prior to harvest.

Simply stated, organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. “Organic” does not necessarily mean animals are humanely treated, free to roam pastures or grass-fed. And it is not synonymous with healthy, low-sugar or unprocessed food…but, that’s what marketers want you to believe. You know, so they can charge you more. Confused yet?

Be a smart consumer. Here is the organic label lingo to become aware of:

Organic Labels

Many people get caught up on trick labels like “healthy,” “fresh,” “natural.” It’s easy to get confused. Always check the ingredient list and the nutrition-facts panel to see what’s really in your product. If you can pronounce the ingredients, you won’t need a chemistry degree to decipher the label.

  • “100% organic”: This product must contain 100% organic ingredients.
  • “Organic”: This product must have at least 95% ingredients organically produced.
  • “Made with Organic ingredients”: This product must have at least 70% organic ingredients.

 

Choose Organic with the Dirty Dozen

Each year, the Environmental Working Group identifies the fruits and vegetables that contain the most—and least—chemical pesticides. They call them the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.” The ”dirty dozen” list is a good place to start going organic.

  1. Strawberries (these are the worst offenders hording the most pesticide residues)
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. *Hot Peppers

NOTE: A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.

Even though it didn’t officially make the list (because it’s processed), the EWG also included a special report about raisins. EWG says that 99% of nearly 700 raisin samples tested positive for traces of at least two pesticides, and one sample had 26 different pesticides. “If we included raisins in our calculations, they would be number one on the Dirty Dozen,” said Thomas Galligan, Ph.D, a toxicologist for the EWG, in a press release. So, go organic with your raisins!

Clean 15

The Clean 15 list, on the other hand, includes produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Almost 70% of these food samples had no pesticide residues whatsoever. You can typically go conventional with these fruits and vegetables.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew
  15. Kiwi

Keep in mind, organic foods can cost up to 50% more than conventional products, so do your research first and choose wisely.

Do Your Research

Is there a trick label that often confuses you? Take a moment to look it up, define it and share it.

But, I know, Google can be equally confusing. Here are a couple more reputable sources to consider for your own research:

 

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Set Real Expectations

So, you’re motivated to make some changes and you’re willing to do anything you possibly can to achieve these goals. I would love nothing more! But, anytime you start a journey to make a lifestyle change, it can be tough. You can expect some bumps along the way which is why it’s important to set real expectations. For the long run.

Hey, I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect… and no one expects us to be. Because they’re not perfect either.

Set Real Expectations in the Face of Challenges

Sustainable change is all about learning how to set real expectations in the face of life’s challenges. If there’s one thing you can expect in life, it’s that things will always come up: parties, birthdays, anniversaries, life-altering events, stress, work, travel, sickness…COVID-19. Challenges will always be there whether we like it or not.

Don’t run from challenges. Anticipate them.

Challenges are part of life and unique opportunities for learning more about ourselves.

Research shows that while our behaviors may seem “spur-of-the-moment,” when it comes to over-eating, for example, the groundwork is laid several hours, days, months…years, in advance by our daily rituals, habits, mindset and automatic thinking. Your actions in the face of a challenge are simply the last link in a long chain of decisions.

The goal of today is all about recognizing your actions in the face of a challenge:

  • What is the root cause of those actions?
  • How can you learn from those events?
  • … and most importantly, How can you move forward?

According to James P. Leahy, author of Bridging the Expectation Gap: The Key to Happiness, unrealistic expectations create an expectation gap which leads to unhappiness and feelings of failure.

If you’re in this for instant gratification, don’t expect your changes to last. On the other hand, if you’re in this to embrace life-long, healthy habits that you can learn from, you can expect some amazing things to happen now, next month and even more the following year at your annual physical. That’s why if you make a mistake, it’s important to be nice to yourself.

Don’t let one mistake derail an entire day or a whole week.

Set Yourself Up For Success with Real Expectations

Expectations have an enormous effect on our outcome, energy, drive.

In fact, multiple studies show that the way we manage our expectations can heavily influence our ability to experience happiness in life, work and even health outcomes.

When life gets crazy and you end up making a mistake, the one thing that you can control is how you RESPOND in that moment. Remember, you are in charge of your own actions, choices and reactions, regardless of any circumstance.

Letting emotions control you is the easy way out. It’s easier to do (or say) things in the heat of the moment… that you may regret down the line.

But, it takes internal strength to pause, breathe, and make a sound decision by staying calm under pressure. And that starts with setting realistic expectations for yourself in the face of a challenge. 

“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Viktor Frankl

Rather than focusing on perfection, anticipate challenges to occur and then pour all of your energy into simply committing to doing your very best every day with the hand you are dealt.

Common Mistakes and Their Fixes

Here are a few common mistakes many people struggle with and their common “fix.”

The Mistake:

You deter from your normal way of eating and indulge in something outside of the norm, feel guilty and then proceed to eat everything in sight.

The Fix:

Remind yourself that slipping up a little is not the same as slipping up a lot. Own up to your choices and move forward.

The Mistake:

Eating portion sizes like a 5 year old during the day and then binging at night.

The Fix:

Of course you feel ravenous. ⁣
Of course you feel hangry.⁣
Of course you feel out of control.⁣

Your body is trying to do everything it can to signal to you that it needs to fuel itself.⁣ Instead, by eating balanced meals full of animal protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds throughout the day– you will reap the benefits of feeling satiated, full of energy, sleeping sound & through the night, and saying ‘goodbye’ to feeling ravenous late at night.⁣

The Mistake:

Waiting until 9pm to realize you still have 1,000 mL of water to drink.

The Fix:

Plan. Ahead. Do the math based on how much water you need and spread it out throughout your day. Rubber bands on water bottles, water app, giant jug…whatever set up works best for you, embrace it and just be ok with the fact that you’re going to probably be going to the bathroom a lot more than you were before. Just don’t let it interrupt your sleep by waiting until night to chug a liter.

Set Real World Expectations

For the next few weeks, focus on making deliberate choices that reflect reality.

There is so much outside of our control.

Focus on what you can actually control and let go of the things you can’t. Set real expectations for yourself, expect challenges to be there and use them to grow stronger.

Ask yourself these two questions:

What’s one thing that I can expect to get in the way of achieving my goals?

And what can I do today to help me keep going when I face that specific obstacle?

To learn more about making important improvements to your nutrition and exercise program, give us a shout at info@crossfitsalus.com.

 

Sleep 101: How much sleep do you really need?

So, your training and nutrition are both on point, but you still don’t perform the way you want? Poor recovery  habits, like a lack of sleep, may be to blame. So how much sleep do you need in the first place?

In this series, we’ll take a look at some of the most common questions about sleep.

How much sleep do you need (really)?

Most of us know that getting enough quality rest is important, but, far too few of us actually make shut-eye a priority. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly a third of adults sleep less than 7 hours per night. This lack of sleep leads to increased fatigue during the day, lower energy in training, and decreased ability to focus at work and at home.

To complicate matters even more, blue lights, caffeine, and other stimulants are interfering with our natural sleep/wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythm. For those struggling with excessive sleep debt, it can be hard to remember what feeling truly rested is even like anymore.

So, how much sleep do you need?

You may have heard that too much or too little sleep can both have negative effects. But, the amount of sleep you need exactly depends on your genes, age, health status and lifestyle factors such as stress, level of physical activity and work schedules.

Newer recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation provides an optimal window of time for different age groups. For adults (ages 26-64), it is recommended to get between seven and nine hours of sleep (but as little as six or as much as 10 may be appropriate).

Here is their general guideline:

6-13 years old = 9.5-12 hours a night
14-17 years old = 8-11 hours a night
18-25 years old = 7-11 hours a night
26-64 years old= 7-9 hours a night

What’s your magic number?

To find the magic number for you, you’ll have to take a look at the bigger picture. If you’re out less than six hours of sleep each night AND do NOT experience negative side effects, you may be considered a ‘short sleeper.’ This would be the only appropriate scenario to sleep less than the above recommended amount.

On the flip side, some people require more than 10 hours per night (‘long sleepers’). But only if no negative side effects occur.

Read more on “Sleeping Tips for Athletes.

Not sure if you’re sleep deprived?

Some common signs of deprivation include:

  • cognitive impairment
  • fatigue
  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • impaired overall performance
  • mood disturbances
  • behavioral problems
  • reduced performance, strength, accuracy

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to also lead to more serious health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems and more.

If you’re experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, chance are that you may more rest.

Read more on “How to Create a Bedtime Routine.

Using the above recommendations as a guide, it’s crucial to factor in your own needs to optimize sleep for well-being and performance goals.

Check out our series on sleep for more information:

Control Stress Before It Controls You

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 chain.

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 to 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.

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.

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 night out twice a month, 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:

Sleep 101: How does (a lack of) sleep impact performance?

Getting enough quality sleep is often emphasized for competitive athletes to promote physical and mental recovery from rigorous training sessions, minimize the risk of injury, prevent fatigue and boost performance. And losing sleep can directly impact performance, too.

The last question we’ll address in our Sleep 101 series is how sleep – or a lack of – can affect your performance in CrossFit or weightlifting as it relates to competitions.

How does (a lack of) sleep impact performance?

If you travel for competition, there’s a chance you’ve experienced significant sleep impairment the night before the competition from travel departure times, jet lag or altitude differences. While more research is still needed on the effects of sleep and strength, some particular findings suggest that on a short timescale, sleep deprivation can have a major impact on performance, from slower reflexes and response times to a decrease in motivation to exert effort.

Pre-competition nerves are hard to control. But, thankfully, extra sleep has been seen to contribute to improved performance. One way to prep for a competition is to load up on some Zzzzs the nights before, so you don’t go into a comp sleep deprived.  Studies even show that banking a few hours in the week leading up to the competition can also reduce the impact of restrictive sleep the night before.

So, if you’re one to notoriously lose out on sleep the night before a meet, the best thing you can do is prepare as much as possible ahead of time and not obsess over it. Prioritize sleep as part of your daily recovery schedule in the weeks- and even months- leading up to a competition. Stay out of sleep debt and even stock up when you can.

Also, remember to utilize some relaxation strategies such as an epsom salt bath, meditation and stretching to help you wind down and get some much-needed rest.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the series! Check out the other common questions in our Sleep 101 series below.

Check out our series on sleep for more information: