5 Tips to Get Better Sleep

 

1. Charge your phone outside of your bedroom:

Having a lot of technology in your room will make you associate your bedroom with productivity instead of rest.

 

2. Lower your room temperature:
Sleeping in colder temperatures is proven to allow you to get better rest. If the room is too hot then your body has to work harder to cool you off.

 

3. Stick to a sleep schedule:
Going to bed and waking up at the same time even on weekends and holidays will helps reinforce your sleep cycle and will lead to better rest.

 

4. Pay attention to what you eat:
Don’t go to bed either too full or hungry. The discomfort this may cause can keep you up or cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
It is also important to stay away from substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine, as they can take hours to wear off and could lead to disruption in your sleep.

 

5. Create a bedtime ritual:
Doing the same thing every night is a great way to wind down. This could include activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or even listening to soothing music.
It is important to stay away from electronics such as iPads, cellphones, or television. Studies show that screen time before bedtime could interfere with sleep.

Are you following a diet fad?

Each year new diet trends come out that many choose to follow, but how effective and healthy are these diets?

Gluten-Free Diet 

You don’t necessarily need to have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity to embark on this diet. Rather, people are adopting a gluten-free diet to lose weight. All foods containing wheat, barley and rye (such as pasta and traditional baked goods) are avoided, while whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, dairy, healthy fats and seeds are promoted. 

Pros: 

• Lots of whole foods are included, and these are always healthy choices.

• There is a tendency to steer clear of packaged and processed foods, which tend to be high in sodium and preservatives. 

Cons 

• A wide variety of gluten-free packaged foods are now available, but many are loaded with more sugar and fat than their gluten-filled counterparts. This makes it easy to splurge, even on gluten-free foods.

• Large portions of any foods (such as gluten-free breads or potato chips) can lead to weight gain.

• Avoiding gluten-containing whole grains can decrease the spectrum of nutrients taken in. 

Intermittent Fasting 

This diet ranked No. 28 of 31 on U.S. News’s Best Diets Overall rankings list. 

The theory behind it is that our bodies were programmed for periods of feast and famine. As such, we should recreate these feast and famine days in order to lose weight and live a longer life. 

On this plan (also called The Fast Diet), dieters select two non-consecutive days each week to eat 500 or 600 calories, depending if they’re a man or woman. On fasting days, low-glycemic-index and low-glycemic-load foods are recommended since they take longer to digest, which in turn makes you feel more satisfied. Recommended foods include vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes (including beans and lentils), and some fruit. Dieters are recommended to follow their regular exercise regimen during fasting days. During the remaining five non-fasting days, you can eat whatever you wish. 

Pros 

• All food groups are allowed.

• Exercise is promoted. 

Cons 

• Much of the scientific evidence regarding intermittent fasting is controversial.

• With suboptimal calories consumed twice a week, you may become deficient in several important nutrients.

• Eating so few calories can result in uncomfortable side effects such as headaches, irritability and hunger.

• Lifelong healthy eating habits aren’t promoted. 

Paleo Diet

This diet ranked dead last on U.S. News’s Best Diets Overall rankings list. 

The caveman-inspired Paleo diet has a strong following, and revolves around eating like our Paleolithic ancestors – who lived by hunting and gathering. Creators claim that by following this plan, you can increase athletic performance, become naturally lean and eliminate acne. Additionally, the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is thought to improve symptoms of diseases like osteoporosis, asthma and high blood pressure. 

The Paleo diet encourages fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, lean meat, and healthy fats (such as olive oil and flax seed). It discourages refined sugars and grains, saturated and trans fat, salt-processed foods and yeast, dairy, and whole grains. It also encourages fun and engaging exercise.

Pros 

• Lean meats and plenty of fruits and vegetables are recommended.

• This plan tends to be low in sodium.

• Exercise is highly encouraged. 

Cons 

• Entire food groups – such as whole grains and dairy – are eliminated, making it tougher to take in essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D.

• Choosing the wrong types of meat (those that aren’t lean) can increase your risk for heart disease.

• Many folks tend to get stuck on the same foods, which limits overall nutrient intake.

• Can be dangerous to follow for those with specific diseases (like kidney disease).

• Purchasing fresh grass-fed and free-range meat, fish and seafood can be pricey. 

Raw Food Diet

This diet ranked No. 29 of 31 on U.S. News’s Best Diets Overall rankings list. 

The raw food movement has been around for years, but folks are now turning to it in order to lose weight. On this plan, food is never cooked above 116 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep the food’s enzymes intact. Raw foodists emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and miso. Off-limits choices include bread, beans, lentils, pasta, meat and eggs. Some followers choose to consume unpasteurized milk and cheese, along with raw fish and meat. 

Pros 

• Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are recommended , as are healthy fats from nuts and seeds. 

Cons 

• Requires tedious meal preparation and special equipment, which can be costly.

• Consuming unpasteurized dairy foods and uncooked fish and meat can lead to foodborne illnesses such as Listeria and E. coli.

• Eliminating numerous food groups (including grains, legumes and animal products) over long periods of time can lead to vitamin deficiencies.

• It’s very tough to dine out and have diet-approved food available at social events and parties. 

 

 

Source: http://www.health.usnews.com

How to structure your work out for increased strength output and decreased chance of injury

The warm up is possibly one of the most important parts of a training session, and it’s also the one that is consistently neglected, or formed based off of trial and error as opposed to evidence.

How should you structure your warm-up? What should the purposes of your warm-up be prior to strength training? These are some of the things you might be wondering.

What are a few of the physiological outcomes from a effective warm-up?
• Decreased muscle & joint stiffness
• Increased transmission rate of nerve impulses
• Increased glycolysis and high energy phosphate degradation

Now what should our warm-up purposes be to accomplish the above outcomes?
• Keep it dynamic
• Research suggests that we should increase body temperature, so get a nice sweat on
• 15-20 minutes at 55-60% of max heart rate
• Avoid fatigue build-up associated with moderate or high intensity warm ups, so no sprinting

How can you put these objectives into practice? Here’s how I structure warm-up protocols before a strength training session…

• STAGE 1: Increase blood flow and muscle temperature with general, lower-intensity cardio
• STAGE 2: Take the muscle groups that are about to be trained through their full range of motion. This is the time for slower and more controlled movement.
• STAGE 3: Progress off of stage 2 by taking the muscle groups about to be trained through their full range of motion in a more dynamic manner.
• STAGE 4: Transition into specific warm-up for activity to follow. For example, do 3-5 warm-ups sets on the bench before going to a heavy max attempt

for more information check out nsca.com

Dare to Compare

When pursuing a life of health and fitness, many people make the mistake of comparing their results, abilities and bodies to those of the people around them. For that reason, and individual can become discouraged or insecure due the how far behind they feel they are. The reality of it is that the only one you are competing against is yourself. Your improvement over time is what should be strived for and that approach will keep you happy mentally and physically. Gradual continuous progress is better that quick success that is usually fleeting. As long as you can live happily and healthily, your quality of life will improve. 

Exposure to the Sun

       It’s nearing that time of the year when the temperature starts to rise, the sun is shining bright, and we all find our way outdoors again. Whether we are outside just to enjoy the fantastic weather or to work on our tan, there are a lot of health factors that we need to remember when it comes to dealing with this sun. While there certainly are many benefits that come with exposure to the sun, there are many risk factors that we have to be careful with as well.

       To Begin with, there are many benefits that can come with being out in the sun. One of these benefits is the ability to sleep better at night. Sunlight is shown to shut off your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone produced at night that makes you drowsy. This can help you to keep a better sleeping pattern when the night time comes. Natural sunlight is also shown to give a happier outlook on life. Experts actually now believe that sunlight has widespread mood-elevating effects due to the increase in serotonin. Another benefit of exposure to sunlight circulates around the fact that we get our Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D has been linked to causing stronger bones, a boost in the immune system, lower blood pressure, better eye health, and a reduction in type 2 diabetes.

       While there are many benefits that come along with sunlight, it is important to remember that too much sun without sunscreen can be hazardous to our health as well. On top of the fact that the sun is already powerful, the ozone layer is depleting, allowing more harmful rays from the sun to reach our skin. Currently, skin cancer is at an all-time high due to more people wanting to sun bathe and get tan while less people are wearing sunscreen. In fact, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States with more than 3.5 million people diagnosed annually. While it is much less of a health concern, too much exposure to the sun has been shown to cause a large increase in wrinkles.

       I believe it can be taken away that we do in fact need the sun in our daily routine. There are many health benefits associated with exposure to sunlight. However, the research also shows how dangerous the sun can be if too many harmful rays are absorbed. From this information, we can conclude that while we need to go outside every day, it is important to put on sunscreen if exposed to the sun for a longer than normal period of time.

Exercises to Improve Your Balance

  • Core Exercises: These types of exercises engage all systems in the body used for balance as well as strengthen your midsection which can help keep you steady. 
  • One-Legged Exercises: These target and tone specific leg muscles so try and incorporate some single leg lunges, step ups, and squats into your workouts. 
  • Multi-positional Exercises: Anything that involves multiple motions in an exercise engages different parts of the system used to maintain coordination. For example, reaching your arm across your body to touch the floor while performing a series of lunges provides extra complexity. 
  • Hip and Glute Exercises: Exercises that target the muscles around the pelvis are great for assisting with balance because the pelvis is the body’s foundation. 

For more information, click here.

Listen to Your Cravings

Everybody gets cravings, whether it is something sweet or something salty. Research has shown that our bodies may crave different food items due to a nutrient deficiency in the body. Here are some common cravings, their meanings, and healthier options to defeat your craving.

  1. Sweets: if you are craving sweets, your blood sugar levels are most likely fluctuating. Grabbing a quick, sugary sweet will cause a spike in blood sugar and a little later a large drop. Try eating some fruit instead for longer lasting effects. You may also want to consider eating more high-fiber foods.
  2. Chocolate: when you are craving chocolate, your body is probably low on magnesium. Researchers have estimated that up to 80% of the population suffers from magnesium deficiency. Some healthy sources of magnesium include nuts, leafy greens, and fish. But, if you really must have some chocolate, go for dark chocolate (75% cacao).
  3. Salty Foods: you may be stressed or dehydrated. Stress affects the adrenal glands and causes the body to crave high-fat, simple carbohydrates, such as potato chips. Before grabbing that bag of chips, drink a glass of water. Also, consider added a little more salt into your regular diet, instead of binging during a craving.
  4. Red Meat: an iron deficiency is the most likely cause of a red meat craving. This craving can be especially prevalent in menstruating women, which may cause greater PMS symptoms. Increasing your intake of beans and legumes should lower your red meat cravings.
  5. Cheese: your diet may be low in fatty acids, such as omega-3. Omega-3 is an extremely important nutrient that helps protect against heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Reach for some raw walnuts or wild salmon to increase your fatty acid intake.

 

It is important to listen to your body and fuel it in the best way possible. There have been many studies that show that most of the population may be chronically dehydrated. Remember, before giving into your cravings try drinking a glass of water and considering a healthier option to satisfy your nutritional needs.  

Source: http://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/common-food-cravings-and-what-they-mean

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