Category Archives for Mindfulness

The Stress Mess: How It Messes With Your Health

We all have some level of stress, right?

It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).

Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.

Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.

It's the chronic stress that's a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health.

Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.

Let's dive into the "stress mess."

Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes

Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.

Stress increased the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood "thickness," as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.

Mess #2 - Immunity

Did you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?

Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.

Mess #3 - "Leaky Gut."

Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.

The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.

Picture this: Have you ever played "red rover?" It's where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though.  Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!

Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption

Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.

And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.

More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health.  Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favours.

Stress-busting tips

Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.

Can you:

Put less pressure on yourself?

Ask for help?

Say "no"?

Delegate to someone else?

Finally, make that decision?

No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Walk in nature
  • Unplug (read a book, take a bath)
  • Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
  • Connect with loved ones
  • Hang out with pets

Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.

Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.

There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.

You can ditch that stress mess!

Ingredients and Simple Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast_Cancer_RibbonOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast Cancer is a serious disease and can be life-threatening. According to the American Cancer Society over 232,000  women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer this year.  Women are not alone in developing  this disease as it also affects men. The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that 2,200 men will also be diagnosed with  new cases of breast cancer this year.  Many elements contribute to increased risk of breast cancer such as family history, or genetic factors such as the carrying the BRCA-1 gene. There are many items that are within our control to reduce our risks.

Listed below are “Ingredients and Simple Steps” to help reduce your risk of  breast cancer:

 

1.       Eat a Healthy Diet

Vegetable_Clip_ArtWhat we choose to eat and how we prepare it can significantly reduce our risk of breast cancer by providing our bodies with necessary nutrients to reach and maintain a healthy weight and optimal health.  Animal proteins, refined processed foods, artificial sweeteners, chemical additives found in processed foods have all shown to increase breast cancer risk.  Therefore, a healthy diet consists of an eating pattern made up of predominately plant-based whole foods. That means choosing to eat leafy greens, juicy fruits, colorful vegetables, all varieties of beans and legumes, and fiber rich whole grains.

Alcohol consumption was shown to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), reported that women who consume between three and six alcoholic beverages per week have an increased risk of breast cancer therefore, it may be in our best interest to limit or avoid alcohol all together.

2.  Reduce or Manage Stress

Meditation_Yoga_Clip_ArtWhen individuals are under stress they may indulge in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or binge eating.  In order to ward off  these bad habits it is a good idea to reduce or manage stress.  You can start by developing a healthy attitude.  Plan adequate time to relax, meditate and breathe deeply.  You can achieve measurable differences in just 10 minutes per day!

3.  Exercise Regularly

Walk_Couple_Dog_Clip_ArtRegular exercise has several benefits.  An analysis done by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  reports that “researchers have found that physical activity – either mild or intense and before or after menopause – may reduce breast cancer risk, but substantial weight gain may negate these benefits.”

Current recommendations from the CDC states that adults should accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days of the week. Look for opportunities to move more.  Try to take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away in a parking lot or take a walk after dinner.

 

There is no guarantee. Making these small changes can significantly reduce your risk of developing this life-threatening disease.  Do you want to learn more on how to make healthy lifestyle choices?  I can help!

Start your personal journey today!

 

 

Ease the Symptoms of Menopause

If you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause it may be time to get moving every day.  Women who raised their heart rate during exercise four or more times per week experienced less menopausal symptoms than those who did not.  Promising studies also showed that alternative treatments such as mindfulness classes may also help. Reuters Full Story

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So Many Choices

Mindfulness is simply about bringing awareness into our lives, living with intention and making conscious decisions. 

I understand that we are all busy and sometimes don’t have time to plan and prepare all of our meals.  What do we do when we just have to eat at lunch or dinner at that moment?  You know, when you are absolutely starving and ready to just get something in the belly cause you are feeling shaky and light-headed.   Let’s take a moment and tune in.  First of all, how hungry are we?  Are we reaching for unhealthy food because we went too long without eating?  Are we just filling up on processed food to fill our bellies?  What if on our next shopping trip we stocked up on the healthier options?  What if we bought some fresh fruits and veggies and cleaned them and put them in containers in the refrigerator as soon as we got home from the store?  Would it be easier to choose a healthy option if it were on hand in our refrigerator or counter?  No time to make beans with all of soaking and cooking time involved?  Go right ahead and buy canned beans.  If organic options are too expensive opt for non organic and rinse the beans before consuming.  Go ahead and buy that bagged salad mix.  What about your grocery store ready made rotisserie chicken?  Growing a garden?  Why not throw something together right off the vine?   Eating healthy does not have to be time consuming or expensive it is simply all about making smart choices.  Are you are interested in making better choices but don’t know where to start?   I am here to help, just drop me an email and ask me a question

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Mindful Eating?

The topic of Mindful Eating has been in the newspapers a lot lately.  What is it exactly?  The best I can explain it is what it means to me.

I stared practicing Yoga on my 34th birthday.  I was in pretty bad shape, I ate a lot of cheese and meat, I drank too much, and I smoked cigarettes.   Things certainly have changed a lot for me in the past 8 years.

Through regular practice of yoga after 2 months I was finally able to quit smoking for good.  After a few months and even years of practice I started to notice how different foods affected my energy and body.  I was able to eliminate most processed foods from my diet.  As I age, I have noticed that I am favoring a more plant based diet. 

So what to do?  Sit comfortably with a straight spine.  Close your eyes, take a moment to scan your entire body.  Do you feel relaxed or tense?  Is your energy high or low?  What did you eat last?  Breathe.  Focus on the breath.  Spend time with your self.  Clear your thoughts.  Do this often. 

Now try this exercise when you eat next.  Ask yourself, will this meal nourish my body and provide clean fuel for energy today?  How will eating this food make me feel?  Look at the colors of your food are they bright and beautiful?  Take in the aroma of what you are about to eat.  Does it make your mouth water?  Eat, chew your food slowly.  What is the texture like?  Is it crunchy or soft?  Take a moment after you are done.  Are you satiated or too full?  What is your energy level like?  When we take a moment to eat with our minds and hearts we begin to tune into what our bodies really need. 

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