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Tips for Avoiding Holiday Over-Indulgence

It’s holiday season and the parties or family gatherings are plentiful.  We all need to watch our habits during this time of year to keep ourselves healthy and balanced.  Below are a few tips I’ve learned through the years.  I hope they help you too.

1. Even though you are going to a party or event that will have plenty of food, resist the temptation to arrive on an empty stomach. As tempting as it is to skip lunch so you can splurge on dessert, don’t. Have a healthy snack, vegetables, hummus, fruit, a hearty salad, a handful of nuts, or Greek yogurt before you arrive. Showing up famished may cause you to overeat, thus consuming more calories than you would if you went with a not so empty belly.

2. Bring a healthy dish. Not only will your host appreciate the help, you will have at least one healthy menu option to keep you full and feeling good about your choices.

3. Avoid the snacks.  Save yourself (and your calories) for the main meal.  Often, it’s better not to even start snacking, as sweet or salty snacks are easy to reach for repetitively. But, if you start and need help stopping: move away from the temptation by leaving the buffet table or move the bowl of goodies to another table away from you.

4. Keep it small: the portions, that is. Moderation is key. Selecting small plates and utensils can help in this.  If you really crave a decadent treat, treat yourself to a small serving just before you leave.  This way, you are not tempted to have another.

5. Mindful eating.  Eat slowly and chew your food.  Put your utensils down between bites. Enjoy the taste of your food. Our brain needs 20 minutes to realize we are full. By eating slowly, you will give your brain time to catch up to the fullness of your stomach, hopefully avoiding over eating.

6. Take it easy on the alcohol. Alcohol is high in calories and has nearly no nutrients. Often at parties or in groups of people we tend to use our drink as a security blanket.  This is normal and many would feel odd with empty hands.  Try any of the following strategies to help limit alcohol intake:

·         cutting your alcoholic drink with soda water

·         opting for half shots

·         alternating alcoholic drinks with glasses or water or sparkling water

·         look for light beer or “skinny” drink options

Happy, healthy holidays and party season to you!

Healthy Gift Giving Ideas

The holiday season is a wonderful time to appreciate and spoil friends and family. If you have a health conscious gift receiver or are a health conscious gift giver, there are many thoughtful options to support this type of lifestyle.  Consider including nutrition and fitness-themed gifts to help others focus on healthy living and practices. A few of many possibilities are outlined below.

Fitness and Fun

• Athletic apparel, gloves, hat, shoes, towels

• Membership to a health club, spa or fitness/yoga studio

• An exercise video, online fitness/yoga subscription

• Tennis balls, golf accessories, football, soccer ball or basket pall

• A swimsuit, goggles, kickboard, wet suit/shirt/pants,

• Skiing or winter sport apparel (scarf, sweater, gloves, hat, long johns, socks)

• An equipment bag, yoga mat/bag, yoga block/straps

• Hand/ankle weights, pull up bar, weight bench


Holiday Foods

• Herbal teas, coffee replacements (Dandy Blend), organic coffees

• Spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, ceylon cinnamon, sage, oregano, basil, thyme, ginger)

• Sea salt (Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt)

• Gourmet fruit spread

• Zucchini/carrot/cranberry/banana bread

• A basket of fresh fruit, dried fruit

• Healthy chocolate

• Raw nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds)

• Nut butter (almond, coconut, cashew)

• A fruit tree, potted herbs

• Popcorn

• Bran muffins

• Superfoods (maca, goji berries, camu, mulberries)

• Favorite healthy recipes

• Supplements


Other Unique Options

• A healthy (cook)book

• A subscription to a health and fitness magazine

• Kitchen Accessories:

·         Wok

·         Steamer

·         High speed blended (vitamix,nutribullet, ninja)

·         Spiralizer

·         Dehydrator

·         Bread maker

·         Juicer

·         Food processor

·         Soda stream

• A workout log/plan book

Happy Holidays and Gift Giving!

Foods To Eat In The Winter

During the winter, it’s really tough to know what foods to eat in order to get all of the nutrients you should be receiving – especially if you’re living in a cold-climate state like Michigan.

As a general rule, root veggies are always good to eat in the winter as a way to fulfill your vitamin and mineral needs. Root vegetables include carrots, sweet potatoes, ginger, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, onions, garlic, celery root, horseradish and turnips. Because these veggies grow underground, they absorb a ton of nutrients from the soil. They are chock full of antioxidants, iron and Vitamins C, B, and A.  They also help cleanse your system. As if those qualities weren’t reason enough to fill your plate with these goodies, root veggies also contain slow-burning carbohydrates and fibers, which help you feel full, regulate your blood sugar and digestive system.

Are the old standbys getting, well, old?  Here’s a new root veggie to toss onto your plate: Sunchokes. They look like ginger, taste like an artichoke and has the consistency of a potato. It’s high in potassium and iron as well as Vitamin A, C and E.  We hear sunchokes will be overtaking kale’s throne as reigning trendy food item, but only time will tell.

Winter squashes, as the name would suggest, are perfect to pile on your plate during cold-weather months. Winter squashes—which include butternut, acorn, delicate and spaghetti—are high in vitamins, potassium and folate.

This next veggie may sound odd, but don’t ignore it: dandelion greens, one of the earliest spring crops. They may conjure up images of picking them as a kid in the soccer field, but they’re extremely high in Vitamins K (over 500% of the suggested daily total), Vitamin A (112% of the daily minimum recommendation), Vitamin C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese. And, don’t forget, dandelion greens also include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Use them in a smoothie, sauté them or simply add them to salad.

Unfortunately, fruits generally tend to be more of a summer food than winter. But, never fear, there are a few that crop up during the cold months, specifically pomegranates and citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit). Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, while citrus is packed with Vitamin C. Vitamin C may not be a cure for the common cold, as our grandmothers would have had us believe, but it does help boost the immune system.

With another month of winter on the calendar, we plan to see more of these veggies on our plates.  Here’s to warmer days ahead!

Labor Day: the Transition to Desk Jobs & What it Means to Your Health

Today is Labor Day & a fabulous day to look at how work has transitioned from using our hands & bodies to using computers & technology.  

Being a yoga & fitness instructor, I am keenly aware of the importance of movement to our health & happiness. Movement is a form of detoxification, assisting our body's systems in the removal of toxins, chemicals and blocked energy. With the transition to seated jobs & the use the computers instead of our bodies, we have ramifications on our health that need to be addressed. 

Since many of us now sit all day, thus, not getting the recommended number of steps daily (10,000 steps), which used to be achieved easily in a day's work. in addition, our world is moving at a faster pace than ever before and workers are expected to do more with less time. This manifests into longer working hours, which means less time to get that movement in outside of working hours. Double whammy!

This paradyme shift is a recipe for disaster on our health & the health care costs for employers. But the question is, what can we do about it?

As the CEO of SynBella, a corporate employee wellness and wellbeing company, this is an issue I help our clients navigate on a daily basis. Many employers see the importance of helping employees stay healthy, but are confused as to how to build support for their employees without losing productivity.  

And the interesting thing is, it's productivity that increases when the human body is allowed to do what it was made to do. When humans are supported in their health, they inherently are more productive.  

So, what can you do to keep moving when you get back to your desk job tomorrow?

Consider finding a way to work while standing, walking or somehow moving. Maybe this is a stand up desk, walking meetings, packing your runners & taking lunch to walk around campus or the neighborhood across the street, getting a phone headset & taking all your calls while standing, bringing a pair of hand weights to your desk & doing bicep curls/triceps kickbacks periodically through the day, moving all your files to the other side of the room so you have to get up & walk to them each time you need them, commiting to use the downstairs bathroom instead of the conveniently placed one of your floor, printing to a printer that is furthest away from your desk, putting an alarm on your computer to get up & stretch every hour for a few minutes, initiating a group yoga/fitness class at your work a couple times a week, forming a walking club with your coworkers...the list is endless & there will be some that work better for you at your company than others, so consider brainstorming with some work friends & helpig each other reach your goals. 

With the new work world we live in, we have to get creative & find a solution to this epidemic of sedentary lifestyles. A little effort in finding many small movements to incorporate into your desk job can go a long way in keeping you healthy. 

A Weekend in the Woods

Like most, I am wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of daily life at most times.  Work, family, friends, co-workers, pets and obligations take priority in my life.  It's a rarity to remember to take time to refuel my body, mind & spirit.

This past weekend I took a few days to head to Northern Michigan just relax.  It's hard to do at home, when I have so many other things that take priority.  It's way easier to do in the slower paced life of small town America.  So, putting myself in small town America is a great way to force myself some downtime for a reboot.

And, that's exactly what I did.  I did a lot of walking in the woods, reading on the deck, chilling out with friends and family, and maybe the most important, sleeping until my body told me to get up.  No alarm set, all the curtains drawn and no agenda made for a truly restful weekend that filled my body, mind and spirit to the brim.

But, this did not happen by itself.  After last week's blog on the over glorification of busy, I had to remember what it takes to disconnect and for me, that is often removing myself from the daily grind.  It reminded me that I needed to schedule downtime, just like I schedule everything else in life and I cancelled all my plans and headed to the woods.

And, it was worth it.  I feel rejuvenated on every level, in just a few short days.  I'm ready to head back to the city, head back to work and have a full glass of mental stability to join me.   

When was the last time you took a day or two to get lost in the woods, on a boat, at the beach or in whatever solitude you prefer?  If you can't remember, I highly suggest scheduling it now.

The Over Glorification of Busy

Sometimes I find myself all wrapped up in the things I think I "have" to do. Run errands, water the garden, clean the house, grocery shop, clean the car, meet all my work deadlines and so on. Often my to-do list can be multiple pages & just down right exhausting.  

It can be overwhelming & it's at these times, I remind myself that what I can do today is good enough. 

Maybe my blog doesn't "have" to be done at 8 am. Maybe 4 pm still counts. Maybe my car (or my house) can go another day (or week) dirty.

Maybe none of it really matters. Maybe my sanity & allowing myself some downtime is far more important than any of it. 

I have a feeling when I'm on my death bed I'll appreciate the allowance of just being over doing. I'll appreciate the days I played rather than stressed, relaxed rather than worked, enjoyed rather than fretted.  

Today is one of those days. And I just wanted to remind everyone (myself included) that this is ok. Not only is it ok, but it's a necessary part of life. 

We are so busy "doing"  and glorifying "busy" that we forget how important relaxation is for the body, mind and spirit. 

I am taking an hour to just be & soak up the sun in my beautiful backyard. Now it's your turn - what can you put off on your to-do list today & replace with some much needed dowmtime?


How to Take Charge of Your Stress at Work

There are many reasons why there are so many stressors in the workplace. Sometimes it’s so easy to give into the stress and let it freak you out. But there are also even easier ways to manage the stress so that you can still be productive and keep your blood pressure down.

If you feel a meltdown coming on, roll your chair back from your desk, sit up straight with your arms at your side and start to do some deep breathing. Try and identify what is triggering your stress. Do you have too many tabs open on your Internet browser? Is your desk messier than normal? Do you have too many sticky notes with to-do lists on them? Take a second and get yourself organized.

Close the tabs you don’t need, straighten up your desk, consolidate your to-do lists. Prioritize what you need to accomplish for the day. Cross off tasks as you complete them on your list so you can physically see your accomplishments. Also, try not to multitask. If you set realistic goals throughout the day, it will feel more rewarding once you accomplish them.

Another way to manage stress at work is to take full advantage of your breaks. If you have fifteen minutes, walk around your building a couple of times. Bring your phone or iPod and listen to music while you walk. Being able to get some exercise and fresh air will really help clear you head so that when you get back to your desk, you can accomplish your tasks with a fresh mind.

If you are constantly getting interrupted, start chunking. The idea of chunking is to set aside a specific amount of time during the day, say an hour, and put a sign up on your door that says “Please Don’t Interrupt – Genius At Work”. Don’t answer any emails or phone calls, just knock out your project. You’ll be amazed at how fast the time will fly and how productive you will be.

Always remember you are in control of what stresses you out. Use some of these tips and tricks to slowly eliminate your stress at work!

Health Doesn’t Just Happen, You Have to Plan for It

The most important thing I’ve learned about being healthy is that I must plan for it if I want it to happen.  Unfortunately, society doesn’t set us up to be healthy by living the standard American lifestyle.  The epidemic of disease and obesity in America can attest to this.

So, what can you do to stack the deck in your favor?  2 things: schedule time to be healthy and prepare with the proper equipment to be healthy.

Every week my calendar has my workouts scheduled in it.  I put a workout per day in my schedule, knowing that I might miss one or two of them per week with priority meetings that pop up.  But, I absolutely make 5 or 6 of them. 

If my workouts were not scheduled in my calendar, the majority of the time, the day would come and go, with good intentions of getting a workout in, but it likely would not happen.  To avoid this, I make plans to meet friends at workout classes, training appointments that are non-refundable, bike riding groups with people who hold me accountable, I even teach fitness classes on occasion (a. because I LOVE it, but b. I can’t miss it).

Very similarly to scheduling in the time, is having the right equipment.  I invest in padded biking shorts so long bike rides don’t hurt my bum.  I invest in yoga/fitness clothes that stay put during an intense class, so I’m not constantly annoyed with sagging or revealing clothing.  I invest in sport bras that make it comfortable to high intensity cardio.  I invest in a good yoga/fitness mat that cushions my body well, so certain poses aren’t putting too much pressure on my joints.  And, a quality hair band so my hair isn’t constantly falling in my face while upside down in yoga.  I carry an enormous klean kanteen water bottle with me everywhere I go, often with my favorite electrolytes in it, so I am always hydrated and not spending a fortune on store bought toxic plastic water bottles.  (And I buy the right cleaning brush, as they’re horrible to get clean without it.)  I make sure to have a super cute, good pair of walking shoes if I want to run around town and get some extra steps in.  I make sure to always have my favorite sports balm to relieve aches and pains from over doing it in the gym/yoga studio. 

Basically, I am prepared.  Just like going to the grocery store weekly and purchasing fresh produce is necessary to eat a healthy diet, having the right workout equipment is necessary to keep up a workout routine.  If you don’t have all the proper equipment, get to the store and start shopping!  You can find a few of my favorite things here, but I buy all kinds of brands and finding what works best for you and your body is key.

The Health Benefits of Kale You Cannot Live Without

All aboard the kale bandwagon! The popularity of kale has been gaining steam for the past few years, but far before the fad (and hopefully long after a new food trend springs up), there are plenty of reasons you should be consuming this incredible superfood. 

      1.            Kale can make you smarter. With all of the manganese (a dietary mineral like calcium or iron) in these leaves, kale helps your brain function to its fullest potential. There are also specific amino acids in kale that help your brain give you the energy boost you need.

      2.            Kale is heart healthy.  Kale not only protects your brain, but it protects your heart from heart disease. It contains antioxidants that help your body fight free radicals and helps keep your cholesterol levels in order.  It also helps regulate blood pressure.

      3.            Kale is a good cleanse.  Kale is used in many detox programs in order to keep your liver clean and healthy.

Still not sold? This superfood is low in calories and carbohydrates and is essentially fat free; plus, it provides you with plenty of iron, potassium, vitamin A, K and C.  Not to mention, eating kale has been linked to lowering your risk for cancer as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight.  

It's easy to grow or buy it at your local market.  Throw it in your smoothie, add it to your salad, saute some, sub it for cabbage and make kale slaw.  The opportunities and benefits are limitless.

The Shocking Truth About Salt

If you’re at all into health and wellness, you’ve undoubtedly heard the buzz around salt.  You read to limit your intake in one publication, and then the next article touts the benefits of sea salt.  So, what’s the deal?

Every cell of our bodies needs salt, as they rely on it to keep good bone density, optimal circulation, adequate hydration and steadied blood sugar levels. But how could something so great for our health be deemed toxic?

First, let’s take a step back and examine the 2 types of salt: the “unhealthy salt,” known as table (or iodized) salt and the more touted “healthy salt,” naturally occurring Himalayan Pink Salt or Celtic Sea Salt.  

“The Healthy Salt”

Himalayan Pink Salt or Celtic Sea Salt contain all 84 essential trace minerals needed for proper immune, thyroid and adrenal function. They boost the creation of digestive enzymes which extract and integrate into our body the vitamins and nutrients found in the food we eat. 

This healthy salt helps to keep us hydrated, balance our sodium-potassium ratios, and fill the body with much needed electrolytes. These natural forms of salt provide natural iodine that are beneficial to the thyroid and help with our metabolism.

Most importantly, these healthier forms of sodium (sea salts and Himalayan salts) are harvested and dried in the sun, which preserve these trace minerals and are unprocessed, which is why they appear pink, grey or brown in color.

“The Unhealthy Salt”

 “Table Salt” is a factory-made form of sodium called sodium chloride. While similar to naturally occurring rock, crystal, or sea salt in taste, this is merely because it impersonates the taste of these elements.

Table salt is produced by cooking the healthy salt at 1200° Fahrenheit. Once heated, the essential trace minerals needed for optimum health are stripped out of table salt.

The table salts you most commonly find at super markets or at most restaurants, have artificial chemicals added to them. These chemicals include everything from manufactured forms of sodium solo-co-aluminate, iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents, toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum byproducts.

They can also have additives such as processed white sugar and MSG (mono-sodium-glutamate). Think about the color of table salt: it’s been colored white with bleach. Salt found in the natural world is not usually white.

Table salt is hard on the circulation, lymph and nervous systems.  It causes blood pressures to sky rocket as it attempts to move toxic elements away from the heart, which is why doctors say to stop the intake of salt if you have high blood pressure. Many chronic imbalances can be worsened by too much intake of table salt.

Not only does it cause us to retain water and other fluids, but it can be highly addictive, very similarly to sugar.  As the body becomes used to the high levels of fake sodium, the more it craves it.

As you can see, there is a stark difference between table salt and naturally occurring Sea Salt/ Himalayan Salt.  If you haven’t already, make the switch in your house for an immediate and easy health upgrade. 

A few of my favorites can be found on my "Cassie's Favorite Things" page on my website.


Independence Day & The Freedom of Choice

Today is July 4, Independence Day, in the United States.  For many of us Americans, this is a day of relaxation and enjoyment with our family and friends.  But, what I think of today is the ultimate luxury of freedom.

For me, freedom means choice.  And, since I am a health and wellness expert, that choice is important to me as it relates to my health.  The freedom to choose a healthy lifestyle is one of the most valued freedoms I can think of.  

However, like all choices, there is a cost associated with it.  I constantly hear from people that it’s “so expensive to eat healthy.”  And, yes, it can be.  To eat a superfood salad costs $15, where a burger in a drivethru restaurant is $2.  Is the extra $13 worth it?  You bet it is!

That extra $13 leaves me feeling light and refreshed, full of energy and vitality in the short term.  In the long run, it leaves me with clear arteries, a high functioning immune system and organs, not to mention a body that I not only feel well in, but am proud to live in.  

The extra money I choose to spend on healthy foods keeps me out of the medical system, off prescription drugs and with little time away from work, resulting in a loss of pay.  It gives me the freedom to experience a healthy life, which for me means traveling, hiking, biking, spending quality time feeling good in nature and with loved ones.

I still live in my “starter home” at nearly 40 years old.  I don’t buy the latest and greatest brand name clothes or purses.  However, I purchase quality food and supplements to nourish my body.  I buy yoga packages, gym memberships, training appointments galore.  I have an infrared sauna in my house, an inversion table and the best elliptical on the market.  I choose to spend money on staying healthy, which is a freedom I love to indulge.

On this Independence Day, I am grateful for the freedom we all have to choose the life and body we want.  We all make choices and spending our money on preventative health is just that: a choice.  

Wishing you and your families a fabulous holiday and celebration!

9 Seeds You Need to Eat

Most people have heard of or eaten sesame or sunflower seeds, but fewer are aware of lesser-known seeds that actually have huge health benefits.  If you’re looking for a simple step towards a healthier lifestyle, try adding these seeds into your diet.  Just remember: seeds are best eaten raw as they lose nutritional value when exposed to heat.  


1.      Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein and antioxidants. Chia seeds are also the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Ingesting the seeds could help reduce joint pain, aid in weight loss, deliver an energy boost and protect against serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

2.      Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds contain all 20 amino acids our body cannot produce and could aid those suffering from immune deficiency diseases. This seed also lowers blood pressure while improving organ function, immunity levels, cardiovascular circulation and function, and recovery of muscles after exercise.

3.      Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranates are a rich source of antioxidants, which helps protect your body’s cells from free radicals (which cause disease and premature aging). The seeds eventually help blood flow freely through your body, which improves the oxygen levels in your blood. Pomegranates also protect cardiovascular health, fight cancer, improve bone quality, boost digestive condition, increase appetite, reduce inflammation and help lose weight.

4.      Flax Seeds

Flax seeds have been linked to a reduced cancer risk. This seed also promotes healthy bowel functions and lowers blood cholesterol levels, which decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Ground flax seeds actually provide more nutritional benefits than whole seeds. Try grinding the seeds with a coffee grinder and adding to your cereal, baked goods (great substitute for breading) and smoothies to take advantage of all the benefits this seed holds.

5.      Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are the only seed that is alkaline-forming. They are also very high in protein, provide a great source of vitamin B, can help reduce depression, aid in kidney stone prevention, and can even fight parasites.

6.      Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are a great source of protein, help prevent diabetes, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, aid digestion, improve skin, boost heart health, prevent cancer, AND help lessen anxiety.

7.      Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a fantastic source of vitamin E. They are also believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease the risk of certain cancers. Sunflower seeds are also a great source of magnesium. Magnesium has been able to help reduce the severity of asthma, lower blood pressure, prevent migraine headaches and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

8.      Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are useful for digestive disorders and also can be used as an antiseptic. The seeds are rich in iron and help boost the power of the liver. Cumin seeds even have been known to relieve symptoms of the common cold. Next time you have a sore throat, try adding dry ginger to cumin water. This concoction will help soothe your throat.

9.      Grape Seeds

The proanthocyanidins in grape seeds help to improve blood circulation and cardiovascular health. They can help with weight management and are a natural antidepressant.

The Prescription You Need to Combat Stress

In moderation, stress can benefit your health & safety.  The physical response brought on by stress can provide more oxygen to your brain, giving you an edge in responding properly to a problem, as well as ignite the “fight or flight” response, organizing your body’s resources to a cause necessary to keep you alive.  (Think: Running from a predator in our ancestor’s day or jumping out of the road when about to be hit by a car.)

However, chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body.  In our modern day society, we are dealing with stress from every angle.  A demanding boss or client, a deadline quickly approaching, a misbehaving child, a sick relative, a divorce or even happy life events like moving, getting married or planning an event.   Our body responds with a variety of symptoms that affect our overall health & well being.

Stress triggers the production of hormones called cortisol & adrenaline.  These are beneficial in small doses, to get us out of harm’s way, such as the previous examples, but chronic production of these hormones cause a laundry list of physical symptoms, including:

  • Excess weight (especially around the abdomen)
  • Inflammation in the body
  • Tightening of muscles that lead to headaches & other body aches (neck, shoulder, stomach)
  • Insomnia
  • Heartburn, acid reflux
  • Increased blood pressure

There are many ways to combat stress, but the three I find easiest and most effective are:

1. Eating proper foods.

Natural, unprocessed, fiber-rich foods combined with protein keep the brain sharp, strong & feeling good, as well as feed the neurotransmitters that keep us balanced, calm, alert & thinking clearly.

These healthy foods, along with probiotics, keep healthy bacteria in the gut, which not only improve gut health, but brain health, as the neurotransmitters that keep us feeling good mentally & balance our mood are produced in the gut (as opposed to popular belief that they are produced in the brain).

2. Taking “down time” to process your thoughts.

Most of us go, go, go all day long, with a laundry list of “to dos,” not taking down time that is necessary to process the events and feelings we experience in daily life.

There are simple, effective ways to do this:

  • Learn a breathing technique that works for you.  This could be as simple as taking 5 or 10 deep breathes which will reset the body & mind.
  • Learning some type of meditation.  This can be just a few short minutes a day or a more regular practice twice a day.  Mantra based meditations are extremely effective in clearing the mind and allowing stress to dissolve.  You can find teachers in your area or look online for some great tutorials.  You can also search for apps and websites that offer free guided meditations that will stream free from your phone.  This is a great tool for beginners’ meditation.
  • Practice a few basic yoga poses.  The scientifically proven benefits of yoga are vast for the mind, body and spirit.  You can find a studio near you to practice at or start a home practice.  I have a free guided 30-day yoga challenge that will take you through 30 poses – 1 each day – helping you to build your confidence and practice if you’d prefer to learn before walking in a studio. 

3. Spend more time doing things that lift you up (and less time doing things that bring you down). 

It sounds obvious, right?  Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to see the forest for the trees. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • First and foremost, screen the media you allow into your life.  This means television, radio, music and social media.  What is adding to your happiness and what is taking it away?  If you are someone who gets depressed watching the news, think about lessening the amount of negative news stories you watch.  If you are someone who needs more energy, maybe spa isn’t the best option for when you need some energy to complete your day.  On the contrary, if you are someone who needs help winding down after a busy day, put spa music to use for you.  Everything has a place and time for its use.  Start to realize when you need what.
  • Next, screen the people.  As I discuss in my book, Back to Balance, you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with.  Consider the 5 people you spend the most time with and who they make you feel.  Do they lift you up?  Do you feel happy, energized and fulfilled after being with them?  Or do you feel worse than before you saw them?  These are important questions to consider.  And more important, is taking action on the answers.
  • Finally, find activities that you enjoy.  For everyone reading this, it means something different, but the basic gist is to ENJOY LIFE!  For you, that could be spending time in nature, with loved ones or animals.  It could mean heading to the pool on a warm summer day or the ski slopes in the winter.  But, the most important thing to do is incorporate activities into your life that you enjoy and allows you to relax and have fun. 

To sum up, learn what feeds your soul & do more of that!

How To Feel Awake In The Morning

“I’m not a morning person.”
“Don’t talk to me before my first cup of coffee.”
“Leave me alone; I’m not awake yet.”

These sayings are so common, it’s as if we have accepted as a society that people should feel like crap in the morning. But that doesn’t have to be the case, even if you are a self-diagnosed “non-morning person.”

Before we explain how to change your morning routine to fix the AM fatigue, we need to actually look at what you’re doing before you go to bed.  Your diet plays a large role in the quality and quantity of sleep you get, so don’t eat too close to bedtime.  If you have an upset stomach or your body is trying to digest whatever you just ate, you won’t get a good night’s sleep.  Also, it may seem obvious but avoid caffeine after a certain time of night; this can vary drastically depending on how sensitive your body is to this stimulant.  Some people abstain from caffeine as early as midday, while others swear they can drink a cup of java as late as 5 p.m. and sleep like a rock. Another obvious obstacle that often goes overlooked: drinking too many liquids late in the day.  Yes, we want you to stay hydrated and drink as much filtered water as possible, but depending how sensitive your body is, this healthy habit could actual hinder sleep, as you’ll be up throughout the night to use the restroom.  Like caffeine, experiment with your consumption of liquids and find the right time to call it quits for the day.

Once you’ve nailed your nighttime routine, turn your attention to the bedroom.  While you’re sleeping, you don’t want your room to be too hot or too cold as this can interrupt your REM cycle. Doctors suggest that 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal range of temperature for sleep. Play with your thermostat and find the most comfortable temp for you.  Also, keep your sleep consistent by going to bed and waking up at relatively the same time each day.  When people drastically deviate from their weekday routine on the weekends, it can wreak havoc on their internal clock, causing them to struggle as soon as the work week resumes. Lastly (pay attention, work aholics!), shut out as much noise and blue light as possible.  As much as insomnia may induce the desire to pick up your iPhone to check emails or turn on the TV to beat boredom, try to abstain as blue light (specifically related to its interruption of your sleep) has been linked to a whole host of serious illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. 

Once your sleep environment is improved, the last step to feeling perky when you wake up is modifying your morning routine.  When your alarm goes off, do not press snooze. It’s ok to take a minute to do some deep breathing, but don’t linger in bed. As soon as you get out of bed, drink a room temperature glass of water or hot water with lemon on an empty stomach. This will kick start your metabolism, making you feel awake and alert. Another awesome energy boost? Exercise. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown workout, but even jumping on a trampoline or doing a few jumping jacks and lunges before hopping in the shower helps.

Next, consider jump starting your body and mind with a blast of cold water in the shower.  You can do this at the beginning, middle or end of your shower.  Knowing it is initially hard to muster up the courage to do this, start with 10, 20 or 30 seconds.  The goal is to work your way up to 2-minutes, at the end of your shower, but whatever it takes to get this habit into your routine is a wonderful starting point.  You will notice a jolt of energy while kick starting your lymphatic system into detox mode.

Lastly, don’t rush out the door before grabbing a healthy breakfast. Skip the coffee if you can and opt instead for tea or a protein-packed smoothie.  For java addicts who can’t seem to let go of the joe, keep it to one cup and balance it out with some food so you don’t get jittery. 

Try these simple steps and let us know if they’ve helped your morning mood improve. 

Eat this, not that!

For those of you who wanted more information about products featured on my latest TV segment, this is the blog post for you! Here are just a few of my favorite products to switch out in your diet that are healthier and full of essential nutrients and vitamins. Want more information like this? Sign up for my e-newsletter!

KIND Snacks: swap out your preservative-filled granola bars for this all-natural option. 
Rallis Olive Oil: ice-pressed olive oil that maintains all of the nutrient-rich elements that are often stripped out of other brands.
Hope Hummus: use hummus in place of other condiments like mayo or mustard. This hummus is 100% preservative-free! 
Honest Fizz Soda: ditch your diet sodas and replace with Honest Fizz to get your bubbly fix. Zero calories and uses natural sweeteners. Yum! You can find Honest Fizz at your local Whole Foods. 
Virgil Root Beer: another natural, zero-calorie choice and so delicious! 
Ezekiel Bread: sprouted grain bread is amazing for you, and a better choice than even whole wheat! Helps with digestion and is a great protein addition for your diet.