Friday, June 26, 2015

The Fit Mindset

The fit mindset can be described as the philosophy that healthy living is not a series of must-dos but instead about curiosity, participation and celebration. When you're in the fit mindset you know that making a 7am yoga class isn't a hassle but an opportunity - for mental clarity and physical well-being. It's not just a task to be crossed off a daily list but a personal reward.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is viewing healthy living from the point of view that there's an endgame: "For this period of time I will give up this food group until I reach this number on the scale." And while goals are important - without them we remain static, frustrated or just plain stuck - when you're in the fit mindset, they shift to being about empowerment, not recrimination.

All of us have some aches, pains and limitations. But there is so much our bodies can do. Celebrate the movement that is good for you and within your ability.  I can park far away and walk into the mall. I can hike up the hill at Stough Canyon. I can bend & stretch and play with my dog.

Enjoy the summer opportunities you have to move this week. A beautiful evening offers the option of a relaxing walk after dinner. An early sunrise is a chance to wake slowly with gentle yoga and meditation. Feel strong & powerful in strength class.

Enjoy the foods you eat this week. Summer fruits are juicy and satisfying. A cold glass of tea quenches on a hot day. Savor a dripping ice cream cone shared with a friend.

In the fit mindset, it's not about what you can't have but what you can. It's living fully and completely and engaging with life. Good food choices and opportunities for movement are a personal reward. Reward yourself this summer!

Focus on the Fit Mindset, Keep Moving and Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mind Tricks for Healthy Eating

All of us struggle from time to time with making healthy food choices. Here are a few tricks I use to help me eat moderately.

When you are preparing or eating a meal, promise yourself that you will eat healthy for Just This Meal. It can be overwhelming to think about sticking to your food plan for the entire day, and especially for the entire week. But most of us can adhere to healthy eating for one meal. Once you have success with that meal, often you will be encouraged to continue through to the next. Always give yourself a "high five" for choosing healthy food at a meal.

Another strategy for success can be delayed gratification. After eating your healthy meal with moderate portions, you might still feel hungry. Promise yourself that you will eat more if you are still hungry in 30 minutes.  Usually, at this point, your body will have had time to process the satiety signals and you will feel satisfied. If I have been exercising a lot, sometimes I will still be hungry after the 30 minutes. Then I will have a second small meal.

Many of us like to have something sweet at the end of a meal. A giant bowl of ice cream or a hunk of cake can fill that need but what other options do we have? I mentioned before in my previous blog on Talking Yourself Out of Temptation that the first few bites of any food are the most satisfying. Given that logic, we only need something small to give us that sweet satisfaction. A date is very sweet as is a handful of raisins. Any dried fruit is super concentrated and sweet. A lollipop or a peppermint or a chocolate kiss all give that sweetness without a calorie binge. My daughter makes sweet protein balls with peanut butter & dried fruit. I like non-fat plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey. A sliced banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter is sweet & filling. Being prepared with a sweet option in mind can help you say NO to the ice cream & cake and still enjoy that sweet taste at the end of a meal.

Eat Thoughtfully, Stay Active & Enjoy Your Food

Friday, June 12, 2015

Holy Yoga

I have enjoyed a wonderful class on Monday nights called Holy Yoga. It is taught by Allison LaBianca, a certified yoga teacher. Holy Yoga is experiential worship created to deepen people's connection to Christ. The sole purpose is to facilitate a Christ honoring experience that offers an opportunity to believers and non-believers alike to authentically connect to God through His Word, worship, and wellness.

This particular class is Gentle Yoga. Many of the poses are relaxing and stretching. No previous experience required and no fitness level needed. This class can be described as yoga with Jesus. The teacher includes Scripture, prayer, Christian music and meditation. I really enjoy moving my body and opening my heart & spirit for renewal and refreshment. Allison also does a little relaxing touch if the participant desires.

The class I attend is at 6:30pm at Fellowship Church on Angeleno Avenue between Glenoaks Blvd and Third Street in Burbank. There is a suggested donation of $8 but Allison says don't let price bar you from attending. Bring your own mat. Allison teaches other levels on Thursday and Saturday mornings at different locations. You can contact Allsion at and get on her newsletter mailing list. You can find out more about the format at

A healthy lifestyle includes cardio & strength, flexiblity & agility, and also spiritual peace and wholeness. In our fast-paced, high stress world, it's virtually impossible to take time out to let your body and brain rest. Holy Yoga might help you reduce stress, decrease your heart rate and lower the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your blood. The class can help train you to be a bit more accepting of what's happening in your life. You can learn to be mindful of the present moment and aware of the whole range of sensations that reveal themselves when we are not too distracted to notice.

Join me on a Monday night at Holy Yoga!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer Ice Cream Treats

Ice cream and summertime go together. How can you enjoy a sweet treat without overdoing it?

An ice cream scoop is a useful portion-control device. It turns out that most scoops tend to be fairly moderate in size. Scoops are designed small partly because a large one would be difficult to wrestle through a hard-frozen dessert. Most scoops contain less than the 1/2 cup recommended as a serving size. How much you get depends in part on how firm the ice cream is. Keep in mind that light ice cream, which tends to be airy, delivers less fat in 1/2 cup than full-fat ice cream.

Hard Frozen Ice Cream
Average-size single scoop
0.37 cups (about 1/3 cup)

Slightly Softened Ice Cream
Average-size single scoop
0.44 cups (a scant 1/2 cup)

What about using a big spoon? Expect to eat a bigger portion. Testers tended to serve 50% more than the recommended serving size when handed a large spoon.

How much fits in a cone? It depends on the cone. When given a classic cake cone, most testers were happy with a single scoop. When given a waffle cone, the first scoop fell to the bottom, out of sight. Most testers added a second scoop.

Consider another ice cream treat. Instead of choosing a scoop of premium ice cream, why not savor an ice cream sandwich? You'll save 100 calories. Want to save even more calories? Dig into a creamy chocolate fudge pop.

When the temperature soars, you can enjoy a cold creamy treat. Make informed choices and always
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, May 29, 2015

Travel Workouts

It's June and many of us are planning summer trips. We have worked hard all year to maintain our fitness. We don't want to see all that hard work slip away after only a few short weeks of travel. How can we fit exercise into our travel time?

It is easy to be active if you are camping. It can be relaxing to join family or friends on a hike to explore your area or stroll on the beach. Often, people bring bikes to pedal around the campground or on trails nearby. Kayaking, swimming and boating are all ways to get your body moving.

Road trips and sightseeing can be lots of fun. But riding in the car for hours can be tough for lots of people - big and small. Use rest stops as active time. Frisbees, jump ropes and balls of all types can be energy burners for adults and kids alike. Use a low wall for step-ups or power walk the perimeter of the rest stop. Stretch calves & hamstrings on the low wall. When sightseeing, take the stairs when possible. Walk instead of using the tram. Park at the far end of the parking lot before entering the attraction.

Resorts often offer a fitness club and even classes for their guests. Use this opportunity to try a new class or use equipment you are not familiar with. Challenge your body in new ways. I always put on my exercise clothes and get my workout in first. If I don't, I will end up laying by the pool the entire day!

Sometimes you are stuck squeezing a workout in between long drives or family events. Don't despair - you can do a power hotel workout. Even if the hotel does not have a fitness room, you can energize yourself for the day and loosen up stiff muscles. All you need is 20 minutes. Start with a slow jog around the hotel. Then move indoors and power up the stairs until you are breathless. You may have to go up and down a couple of times. Try to run up quietly out of respect for hotel guests. Bonus! - you will use more core muscles. Stop at the bottom, put your hands on the lowest step and do as many push ups as you can. Turn around and do tricep dips. Now turn sideways and put one foot on the lowest step for squats. Turn the other direction and repeat. Go back to the room, lay out a towel and power out cycles. Finish with stretches - don't leave them out. Remember the long hours you will be sitting?!

Have Fun Traveling This Summer. Stay Active and Enjoy your Food

Friday, May 22, 2015

Meditation and Prayer for Sleep

This is the last blog in a four week series on sleep. I have discussed the importance of sleep, sleep strategies and sleep supplements and will conclude with meditation to help you fall asleep and go back to sleep in the middle of the night.

The idea of “sleep” as a period when the brain simply shuts down has been replaced by an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness is necessary for the biological function in every organ.   Not only does this daily “circadian” rhythm play an important role in learning and the filtering of memories in the brain, but it also serves to regulate the energy level of most all cells.  Shortages of cellular energy eventually wear down natural defenses through oxidative stress and abnormalities in protein processing, increasing the risk of disease. How can meditation and prayer help you achieve a healthy rhythm of sleep?

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)
For a believer, the purpose of meditation prayer is to better align with God, to better know God — to stop struggling against God’s will for us and accept things the way they are; to better comprehend that we are held and loved, that we are OK, no matter what we might be walking through. In other words, in a variety of ways, meditation helps us stop trying to play God.

Often stress and a racing mind prevent us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. As we pray and align ourselves with God's will, we relax, knowing that He is in charge. Even without a belief in God, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and positive visualization all help to move the body from a state of wakefulness to sleep.

If you are new to meditation, the idea may seem a bit scary. Maybe you picture strangers sitting around in contorted positions for hours on end, thinking.....what? One app, CALM, takes away those fears and guides you through seven introductory lessons on posture, breathing, etc. In addition, the app offers a number of guided meditation programs, including four specifically for sleep.

A free app that assists with sleep is Pzizz. This program uses guided meditation and calming sounds to help you fall asleep. You can choose any length of time and the voice can be turned off, if you prefer. There is even a Power Nap setting.

Either of these apps and a meditative prayer time can be part of that one hour wind-down time you have before bedtime. If you are frustrated by wakefulness in the middle of the night, one of these apps might be just what you need to ease you back to sleep. Give it a try and see what works for you!

Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sleep Supplements

The first blog in this series demonstrated the importance of sleep, then I shared sleep strategies. This week I examine some sleep supplements and next week I will finish by discussing meditation for sleep.

Sleep supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues. Your immune system also relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. For example, if you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections. What supplements can we use to aid us in reaching that deep sleep we need?

None of these supplements have rigorous studies to prove their effectiveness. Many people have tried different options and had success in finding what works for their body. Please consult your doctor before taking any supplement.

Chamomile Tea
This tea is a very mild sedative. In addition, the process of steeping and slowly sipping the warm tea may help relax the body and clear the mind to prepare for sleep. 
This herb is said to be a mild sedative that also lowers the anxiety response. 
Melatonin is naturally produced in your body to promote sleep. A supplement may fill in where your body is deficient or provide an extra boost that will help you relax enough to sleep.
Essential Oils
Young Living Essential Oils can be used to naturally promote a good night's rest and can be applied topically or diffused. Try several drops of lavender oil and Peace & Calming on the back of the neck and bottoms of feet. To quiet mental stimulation and agitation, try adding cedarwood oil as well. A lavender oil and epsom salt bath before bed can also contribute to a very relaxing night. For more information about these and other oils, email Rachelle Howard at
Holy Basil
Do you find yourself suddenly wide-awake at 3am? This herb may moderate the cortisol spike that can wake us in the middle of the night.
The week before your period, progesterone levels plummet. As progesterone assists in causing drowsiness, this drop can lead to restless sleep. Make sure you supplement with progesterone (usually a cream) not progestin. There is a significant difference. Follow the package directions for a healthy cycle.

 Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!