Health & Fitness

Can Exercise Stabilize Mood Swings?

Can Exercise Stabilize Mood Swings?

There are a lot of different causes of mood swings. Even though the first idea that may have come to your mind is a mental condition called bipolar disorder, chronic physical conditions and injuries can cause them, too. Dementia, concussions, stroke, Parkinson’s and other neurological problems can cause them. So can diabetes, MS, sleep disorders and thyroid disease. Doctors often prescribe mood stabilizers. Some of them are prescription medication, while others are natural mood stabilizers. Exercise is one of the natural stabilizers, which is often used before other types of medications.

Exercise has been used to help anxiety and depression.

When you’re under stress, the body creates hormones that tells the body to prepare to fight or run. When you exercise, you burn off those hormones, just as you would running or fighting, and get your body back to normal. The body also creates new hormones that make you feel good, like endorphins and dopamine. They cause the body temperature to rise and make it relax and reduce pain. They also lift your spirits and help stabilize your mood.

Severe mood swings require more help than just exercise.

While some mood swings can be managed with mood stabilizers like exercise, yoga, adaptogens, omega-3 supplements, a healthy diet and mindfulness or meditation, some are far more intense and require help from a doctor and may need medication, psychotherapy or counseling. Mental health specialists have been using exercise as adjunct therapy that’s as effective as many prescriptions, but the only side effect is a healthier body.

You can control mild mood swings on your own by making simple changes.

Mild mood swings, those occasional hissy fits that seem to occur over minor things, can be controlled by identifying what triggers them. It could be something in your lifestyle causes it, such as too much stress, lack of morning coffee or even poor sleep. You can make a big difference in limiting them by including exercise in your daily life, eating healthy, getting adequate, quality sleep, learning ways to cope with stress and eliminating abuse of substances that can add to the mood swings.

  • Have you ever paced when you were in a stressful situation, like waiting for the results of a loved one’s surgery? That comes naturally as a way to reduce stress and help prevent mood swings and outbursts.
  • If you can’t participate in a traditional program of exercise due to physical limitations, do what you can. If you can walk, take walks. If you are wheelchair bound, do seated yoga or tai chi. Moving more helps.
  • One study compared two groups of women with anxiety and depression. One group participated in yoga classes on a regular basis and the other didn’t. The group taking yoga showed marked improvement, which may have come from the combination of mindfulness and exercise.
  • Always seek out the help of your healthcare professional if you have mood swings, if for no other reason, to eliminate the potential of underlying health conditions.

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Ways To Decrease Inflammation

Ways To Decrease Inflammation

Inflammation is an important function of the body. It helps protect the body from invaders that cause infection and disease. That’s called acute inflammation and necessary to keep the body alive. However, too much inflammation or chronic inflammation, even at low levels, can be damaging to the body. Inflammation inside arteries, for instance, can cause blockage, so the need to decrease inflammation is important.

Chronic inflammation affects many parts of your body.

Chronic inflammation can be the reason for many types of allergies. It can cause digestive issues, which includes IBS and Crohn’s disease. The risk of rheumatoid arthritis, skin disorders, heart disease, blood vessel disease COPD, gum disease, cancer, mental health and bone damage are all increased when there’s chronic inflammation. It can also damage joints, cause weight gain, premature skin aging and loss of muscle tone. So how do you solve the problem? Factors that affect chronic inflammation are blood sugar imbalance, diet, leaky gut syndrome, lack of sleep, stress, chronic infection and environmental factors.

Cut out sugar!

If you want to feel good, eat healthier. Cut out food with added sugar and you’ll go a long way in decreasing chronic inflammation. While you won’t be able to control all inflammation, you can help balance it by eating the right foods and avoiding the ones that increase the problem. Besides sugar and foods with added sugar, these foods include pastry, white bread and refined carbs. Fried food, too much red meat and fats like margarine round out the group of inflammatory foods. Don’t forget what you drink makes a difference, too. Cut out soft drinks and fancy coffee with all the extras.

Eat your way to less inflammation.

While you can spark inflammation and set it on fire by eating certain foods, you can put out those flames and reduce inflammation by eating others. Fresh fruits and vegetables are on that list, with tomatoes and leafy greens leading the way on the side of veggies. Fruits that are the head of the pack for reducing inflammation include blueberries, strawberries, oranges and cherries. Avoiding fried, food with added sugar and highly processed food prevent inflammation from starting.

  • Switching out soft drinks and fancy coffees for plain coffee, green tea or water, can help reduce inflammation. Coffee has polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Green tea has EGCG that has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Get more sleep and learn find ways to relieve stress like deep breathing exercises, meditation and make your home environmentally friendly. Those three factors can reduce inflammation.
  • Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper, rosemary and sage all have inflammatory properties. Newer studies show inflammation may be linked to Alzheimer’s and supplements of turmeric are being used to control it.
  • Food high in Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent inflammation and aid in reducing existing inflammation. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel contain it. So do walnuts, flaxseed and soy.

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Ways To Increase Digestive Health

Ways To Increase Digestive Health

It’s no fun to have issues with digestion. Whether it’s gassiness, bloating, pain or vomiting, it’s all uncomfortable and something you want to avoid. There are natural ways to improve your digestive health and also improve other areas of your health. While not every digestive issue has to do with lifestyle or can be solved by making changes, most can benefit and many can be eliminated.

Exercise improves your digestive system.

When you workout, you increase your circulation, sending oxygen and nutrients to every part of your body, which includes the digestive system. Exercise offers other benefits for digestion. If you’re going to exercise after a meal, make it gentle walking. Otherwise, wait two hours before you exercise if you have acid reflux. Bicycling can help with heartburn, while less strenuous exercise can help with bowel issues like constipation and diarrhea. All exercise gets the muscles working in the gut to gently massage the food through your system.

Eat more fiber.

A diet of highly processed food that lacks fiber is the worst possible food to eat for good digestion. Instead, focus on consuming whole foods, like fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber creates a gel-like substance when combined with water and insoluble can’t be digested but does provide bulk to the stool. You need soluble fiber to ensure the health of your digestive tract. Your beneficial gut microbes feed on the gel created by soluble fiber and in turn, make your gut healthier.

Make water your new best friend.

Increase your water intake to avoid constipation and improve your digestive system. Take water everywhere with you. There are various calculations on the number of ounces you need each day with estimations between ½ ounce to an ounce for every pound you weigh, depending on your age, weather conditions and activity level. In the hot summer months, if you’re exercising more, you’ll need more water. Older people dehydrate faster, so they need more water. Herbal teas, decaffeinated coffee and high water content fruits and vegetables can be considered in your intake.

  • Avoid sugar. Sugar can limit the number of beneficial microbes. It can prevent water from being absorbed properly, increase the amount of mucus in the intestines, doesn’t digest properly and ferments, like lactose and fructose.
  • Increasing the amount of probiotic food in your diet can increase beneficial bacteria and aid gut health. Beneficial microbes may be reduced for a number of reasons. Stress, recent antibiotic use and a poor diet are just three reasons.
  • If you smoke, drink alcohol or have an excess amount of coffee, it can cause problems, such as acid reflux, stomach ulcers and heartburn.
  • Limit your fat intake, but make sure you include healthy fat in your diet. You need healthy fatty acids to build all parts of your body and help absorb vitamins, A, D, E and K, but fat is also difficult to digest, leaving you with digestive issues.

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Should I Consider A Split Workout Schedule?

Should I Consider A Split Workout Schedule?

Before you can decide if a split workout schedule is right for you, you have to know exactly what it is. If you’re working all parts of your body at one session, you’re doing a full body workout. If you’re working the upper body at one session and the lower body at another, you’re doing a split workout. You can refine the workout split in a variety of ways, depending on your goals.

It’s not just upper/lower body splits.

Even though working out the upper body on one day and the lower body another is the most common type of split workouts, there are other types also. Why split your workout into different areas? It’s especially important for strength training, which requires resting your muscles for up to 72 hours to allow them to heal. It also refines the training and ensures every muscle is worked on all planes. Another type of split workouts are push-pull muscle workouts, which works opposing muscles and breaking down your workout to four different areas.

Split workouts are great for people who want to build specific muscles.

One of the biggest categories of people who use split workouts are bodybuilders. Because they often train at high intensity to build muscles, it allows them to workout every day and still provide time for recovery, allowing the muscles to heal. You can work muscles to failure with more intensity, which is the way to stimulate growth, making small micro tears and allowing those tears to heal stronger. The muscles have at least 48 hours and up to 72 hours to recover, the amount of time necessary for repair.

If you’re new to exercise or have a busy schedule, a full body workout may be right for you.

Most people opt for a full body workout three to four times a week, with one or two of those days devoted to strength-building. If building your body for competition isn’t your goal, then a full body workout might be the option for you. A full body workout not only focuses on the entire body at once, it also burns more calories than workouts that just focus on one muscle group. That’s because more muscles and joints are involved at once.

  • Some people use a full body workout, but take one day to focus on a specific area of the body, such as the arms, to get the look they want without burnout before the session ends, even if they aren’t bodybuilders or weightlifters.
  • One problem with a split workout schedule occurs if you miss a workout. Even if you simply skipped one day, it’s hard to get back on track, so you often lose even more progress.
  • If you plan on working out more than three or four days a week, a split workout could be right for you. It allows intense strength-building every day, as long as you don’t work the same muscles within 72 hours.
  • Whether you select a split workout or opt for a full body workout, consistency is key to success. Since a split workout requires more planning, beginners are always better starting with a full body workout. You can always switch after you get more adept.

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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help Promote Better Cholesterol?

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help Promote Better Cholesterol?

No matter where you live in the US, whether it’s Baton Rouge, LA, Dallas TX, or in the Northwest territory, staying healthy has become more of a focus. Most people realize that diet and exercise play an important role in preventing many conditions. Some foods seem to be miracle foods, since they provide the body with the nutrients and phytonutrients it needs. Apple cider vinegar—ACV, which has been used for centuries for many conditions. Today, science has proven it beneficial, for a number of conditions, but is improving cholesterol one of those?

The acetic acid in ACV provides some benefits, but so does the antioxidants.

When you ferment crushed apples, it creates vinegar that contains acetic acid. That acetic acid balances the pH, helps relieve acid reflux and heartburn, but can also damage tooth enamel. However, ACV also has many other nutrients, including probiotics and antioxidants. One 12-week study put two groups of people on a low calorie diet. One took a placebo with the diet and the other took ACV. Not only did the group taking ACV have more weight loss, they lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing good cholesterol levels.

ACV can improve weight loss.

An animal study showed that a group given the acetic acid had less fat deposits and a higher metabolism than the animals that weren’t given it. In fact, a side effect that wasn’t expected was increased activity, which not only burns calories, but also helps regulate cholesterol levels. It was the acetic acid in the ACV thought to be responsible for this occurrence.

Insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels are helped with ACV.

Studies show that the acetic acid in ACV can also help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. Several studies show a link between insulin resistance is linked to a poor cholesterol profile. Including ACV, particularly raw ACV that contains the mother of Vinegar, in your diet, can lower the bad cholesterol—LDL— and raise good cholesterol—HDL—levels.

  • While ACV is good for many things, there can be side effects if you’re not careful. Besides eroding tooth enamel, it can cause bone loss. Even though a little increases potassium, which is important for bone health, consuming too much can actually cause bone loss.
  • More than 1-2 tablespoons of ACV a day in water won’t hurt you, but you can overdo it. Stick with 2 tablespoons or less in salad dressing or in a glass of water. Always check with your health care professional before starting on an ACV regimen.
  • ACV can be used for minor irritations like a stuffy nose, dandruff, a sore throat or natural deodorant. It can be used as a beauty aid to rinse build up product out of hair and help heal blemishes.
  • Never use ACV straight, particularly if using unprocessed ACV that has a higher acidic content. It can burn skin and soft tissue if applied to the skin or swallowed straight. Always mix it with water or use it in a recipe with other ingredients to cut the acid.

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Love Your Body At Every Weight

Love Your Body At Every Weight

You might live in Louisiana or any place in the US and hear people bash themselves for being overweight or out of shape. That doesn’t help or change a thing. In fact, it’s counterproductive. You need to love your body at every weight. Loving your body doesn’t mean you’re accepting being overweight permanently. It means you want what’s best for your body, which includes healthy eating and a program of regular exercise.

Hating yourself is counterproductive.

Why would you want to treat anyone you hate to things that would benefit them and make them better? That’s true about people and could also be true about how you treat your body. Your weight doesn’t define you, but how you treat yourself tells the world how you value yourself. If you’re constantly your own worst enemy, it can create disappointment and discouragement. That can lead to depression, emotional eating and even eating disorders.

Does fear cause the self-criticism?

Maybe you think you’ll never reach your goal and you want to let people know that you aren’t okay with how you look. Have you ever heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy? People often convince themselves that they’re destined to be overweight and that can lead to quitting trying in discouragement. You might go so far as to prove yourself right and self-sabotage.

Get rid of the fat hate and see yourself beyond your present body.

It’s time to be kind to yourself. The more positive you are about you and your ability to become healthier, the more likely you’ll succeed. If you had a pet or child that needed help to get healthier, your love for them would make you want to help. Be that caring person to yourself. The more you shame yourself, the more the excess weight becomes part of your persona and the harder it is to lose.

  • Fat isn’t a person. It’s not good or bad. It just is. Ignore it and focus more on eating healthy, sticking with a program of exercise and getting plenty of water and sleep. Living a healthy lifestyle will do the trick.
  • The minute you give up the shame and quit identifying as a fat person is the day you start living your life and losing weight. Accepting yourself doesn’t mean you’re choosing to be overweight forever, but it is what it is today.
  • Find ways to treat yourself better that don’t involve food. Sometimes, parents unconsciously teach us to reward ourselves with food with celebration cakes or ice cream for good behavior. Learn to feel the enjoyment of taking charge of your body and making it healthier.
  • Mentally give yourself love and appreciate the things you do to make yourself healthier. It can help prevent problems that occur when you have self-hate, like food addictions, eating disorders, yo-yo dieting and emotional eating.

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Hamstring Stretches You Need To Do

Hamstring Stretches You Need To Do

What are your hamstrings? Your hamstrings are the group of muscles at the back of your thigh that start at the bottom of the pelvis and end at the back of the knee. These muscles aid in keeping your pelvis aligned properly. They’re among the many muscles that help attach leg bones to the pelvis and help the body tilt the pelvis and bend at the knee. Tight hamstrings can lead to knee and leg pain. They’re also responsible for lower back pain. To prevent that problem and increase flexibility, hamstring stretches done on a regular basis help.

Lay on your back for this hamstring stretch and feel pain start to dissipate.

Grab a towel at both ends, one end in each hand to form a loop in the middle. Lay on your back with legs extended, lifting one leg to put through the loop with the sole of the foot on the middle of the towel loop. Pull the ends of the towel lifting that leg up in the air. If you have a sore back, take it easy. Start with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and lift one foot, straightening the knee at the same time. Little by little increase the height of the foot, bringing it closer to your head as you get more limber.

A standing hamstring stretch can be done anywhere.

You don’t have to get down on the floor or even put on special exercise clothes to do a standing hamstring stretch, although if you’re using a chair for a prop, you might want to just do it in your own home. Start with the easiest form, keeping your back straight, extending one leg out in front, and bend at the hip bringing your chest toward your thigh as you bend your knee on the opposite leg. You can make it more challenging by putting the extended, straight leg, on a chair or stool and bending and stretching as you keep your back straight.

If you’re more active or an athlete, make the stretch a bit more difficult.

Use a prop that’s about waist high and place the heel of one foot on it. Bend forward at the hips and pushing your chest toward your thigh that’s outstretched. Keeping your back straight, try to grab your foot. You can modify it by doing the stretch in a one legged squat, rather than raising the foot. Lower your body with one leg extended and lean forward in squat position to grab the toes of the extended foot.

  • Toe touching has always been a popular hamstring stretch. If you use it, don’t bounce to touch your toes and make sure your hips are directly over your feet.
  • You can workout with a partner and have them help with the stretch. One person lays out straight, while the other person lifts that person’s leg, pushing the heel on the lifted foot and pressing the knee flat on the one that remains laying straight.
  • If you have a tear in your hamstring or an injury, be careful about doing stretches too early. It can cause even more injury. Always check with your health care provider first.
  • When you’re doing stretches, hold the stretches for 30 seconds. Do each stretch 3 times or more. Make sure you do them daily or even twice a day.

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No Scale Lifestyle

No Scale Lifestyle

There may be a liar in your house. It could be your bathroom scale. While it may always weigh you properly and give the right weight, sometimes that doesn’t give the whole picture. Sometimes, particularly when starting a program of fitness, checking your weight too frequently can discourage you and even cause you to quit. If any of that describes you, it’s time for a no scale lifestyle.

Your scales can trick you into thinking you’re not making progress.

If a program of regular exercise is part of your fitness routine, as well as a healthy diet, your scales can trick you and make you feel defeated. You might have lost a lot of fat, but put on muscle, which weighs more per cubic inch. A body with mostly muscle and little fat may weigh the same as someone with mostly fat and little muscle, but the muscular body will look thinner and will take a smaller clothing size. It’s time to use measurements as a guide, since the scales may not show your progress.

Getting in shape takes a while and you become accustomed to the changes you see.

If you never looked in a mirror for several months while you’re getting in shape, the minute you do see yourself, you’ll notice the difference. Since the changes are slower and tiny day by day, you often miss how your appearance changes. If you want to get that perspective, start by taking a picture once a month. Do it in clothing that shows your body and in the same place each time. When you start feeling discouraged, just look back at your pictures and you’ll see the difference.

Take a measurement around your middle.

If you want to be healthier, you need to address your visceral fat. Visceral fat collects around your mid-section and is deep fat that crowds your organs and causes serious conditions. If getting healthy is your goal, then your circumference measurement is the most important of all. While you’re at it, record the measurements of other areas, like your upper arms, calves, chest, thighs, hips, shoulders and neck. Track your measurements, taking them once every two weeks to once a month.

  • Does your version of a healthier you have lower blood pressure, then track your blood pressure progress. Is it based on having more energy, once a month see how many flights of stair you can take without being winded.
  • Are you getting more done in less time? Yes, the fitter you are, the more productive you are. You can measure that productivity by recording how long it takes to do any task from cleaning the house to doing mental tasks, since fitness also boosts brain power.
  • A lot of things can cause short term weight fluctuations. Water retention makes a difference and so does the time of day you weigh. Try weighing once every week at the same time of day. Usually, morning is the best time.
  • You can track your gains in a number of ways or use two or three types of tracking. No matter how you track your progress, if you’re not seeing results, either you’re not faithful to the program or it’s time to change.

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Be A Healthier Version Of You

Be A Healthier Version Of You

If you’re spending time sitting on the sidelines, wishing you had more energy or felt better to enjoy the fun, it’s time to get a healthier version of you. If you take better care of your vehicle than you do of yourself, it’s time to make changes. Start valuing yourself the same way you value your transportation. A health care regimen includes a number of things from getting regular physicals and plenty of sleep to eating healthier and exercising regularly.

Regular exercise can boost your energy and help you look better.

Exercise does more than burn calories and give you a fitter, healthier appearance. Even if it didn’t, that would still make it worthwhile. Exercise can help improve digestion. It can lengthen telomeres, which help prevent early cell death. It can burn off the hormones of stress. It can make you stronger, boost endurance and improve your range of motion to avoid injury. It can help prevent certain diseases and health conditions, plus make you sleep better, which is important for heart health and mental health.

Eating healthy provides all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.

A lot of health issues can be avoided or diminished with a healthy diet. A healthy diet reduces the risk of heart disease. It can lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and help prevent stroke. Your body’s microbiome, those microbes that live everywhere in your body, but mostly in your digestive tract, benefit from a healthy diet. The beneficial microbes are responsible for many of the functions of major systems, such as your immune system and even your mood. A healthy diet builds strong bones and teeth and even improves your memory.

You need a plan of action to maximize the benefits.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and search the internet to get the help you want. You can get it all at our site. Not everyone has a goal of weight loss or getting the look they want. Some people just want more energy. To be the best version of yourself, you must decide what that version is. Once you identify that, we’ll help you create a plan of action and work with you to achieve that goal. You don’t even have to leave home to get that help.

  • If you don’t use the right type of fuel for your vehicle, it won’t run correctly or maybe not at all. The same is true of your body. Unlike your vehicle, your body repairs itself when it has the right conditions and fuel. You can make that happen.
  • Your mood will improve, especially if you’re under a lot of stress. Exercise improves your mood by burning off the hormones of stress and replacing them with ones that make you feel better.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate more. Sometimes, something as simple as drinking more water is neglected. It sounds too easy to make a difference. Try to drink a half ounce to an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. Factors affecting that include how active you are, your overall health and the weather.
  • Getting adequate sleep can help you lose weight, boost heart health and be your best at work and play. The hunger/satiety hormones get out of balance when you lack sleep and you tend to overeat.

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How To Eat Well While Traveling

How To Eat Well While Traveling

You don’t have to take a long road trip or even travel far, traveling can set your weight loss and healthy eating plans back months. It doesn’t have to happen that way, you can eat well while traveling if you plan ahead, even if you normally use food processors or juicers to make your normal diet. Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, there are ways to help you stay on course for a healthy eating plan. The first place to check are the “things to do” sites that offer information about the restaurants in the town or along the way.

Pack a meal or healthy snacks.

You might not be able to bring all your meals, especially if you’re flying, but you can bring snacks. Having healthy snacks available, can help you no matter how you travel. You don’t have to pay a fortune at airport restaurants or be ravenous at supper if you have snacks that can be a supplement. If you’re driving, have a cooler that’s filled with healthy food, including regular meals. You can stop along the ways and exercise your legs a bit and have a picnic lunch. Refill your cooler by stopping at a local grocery and restocking your snack and meal supplies.

Plan, plan, plan.

If you’re driving, you probably have used some type of app to map your journey, now take it a step further. Check out the restaurants along the way to find the ones that have an online menu and see if the food is healthy. Don’t leave your meal to chance. Don’t wait until everyone is ready to eat the first food they see, which can be anything from fried chicken to belly bombers. Even if you have to stop a little early, it’s okay. Flying into an area requires just as much planning. Check the restaurants close to your destination to find the ones that offer the healthiest menu.

When eating in a restaurant, choose off the menu carefully.

If the restaurant has an online menu, all the better. Check it out when you’re not hungry to make the best choice. If you’re staying at a hotel or motel and have a vehicle, you can actually stop and check out the menu. Avoid fried foods and desserts. Stick with grilled food and lean meats. If you’re opting for a sandwich, choose real meat, not processed cured meat. Go with extra veggies and avoid fried if you have the option. Stick with water, unsweetened tea or coffee for drinks.

  • Some healthy foods that travel well in a cooler include raw veggies and hummus dip, hard-boiled eggs, almonds and other nuts and fruit. Eat snacks more frequently when traveling and avoid skipping meals.
  • You can’t get bottled water through airport security, but you can get an empty bottle through. Bring an empty bottle and fill it after security checks at a fountain so you can hydrate on the plane. No matter how you travel, staying hydrated is important.
  • If you’re flying, carry a large purse as your personal item and put your regular purse inside it. That leaves room for snacks like cashews, pistachios and fresh fruit, like bananas. Nuts are a good source of protein and compact enough to carry.
  • If you’re traveling by car, check for local farmer’s markets or be on the watch for roadside stands. It can be fun to seek out healthy food that’s straight from the farm.

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