Friday, April 19, 2019

Why Am I So Hungry?

Most of the time, hunger has an obvious cause, like not eating enough or choosing meals that don't contain the right amount of nutrients. Other times, hunger can be mysterious. Consider a few reasons why you may be feeling hungry and discover how to feel comfortably full.

Salt can stoke your appetite
It makes you thirsty in the short term, but over time, a high intake of salt can actually cause you to drink less and eat more. Salt triggers the body to conserve water, which it does by producing a compound called urea. This process requires a lot of calories, so it revs up your appetite. Processed food often has hidden sodium so aim to eat more fresh, whole foods.

You eat too often
When you eat small bites and don't sit down to real meals, you never feel truly hungry or truly full. Eventually, your appetite cues become muted and you're vaguely hungry all the time. Instead, try eating every four hours or so. Sit down and have a meal with protein, fiber and healthy fat three times a day. Supplement with good-for-you snacks when meals are more than four hours apart.

Glossy Images
Stop checking Instagram all day. Beautiful food pictures seduce you, increase cravings and make you want to eat. The same goes for TV commercials featuring restaurants and food.

If any of these reasons sound familiar, maybe that's the key to your hunger pangs. 
Try these tips to feel satisfied and get on with your day.  

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, April 12, 2019

Move More #4

We're a nation of sitters. TV binge-watching, desk jobs, and the allure of the internet all contribute to that fact that most of us spend at least 50% of our day sitting down. The more we sit, the higher our risk of first-world diseases of affluence: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

We need to recognize that it's as important to decrease overall sedentary time as it is to maintain a regular practice of intense, formal exercise. How can we resist the call of the sofa and work more movement into our daily lives? Today's blog is a continuation of an occasional series on moving more.

Enlist Canine Support
Dogs are good motivators. A 2017 study showed that dog owners exercised 22 more minutes per day (usually in the form of moderate-paced walking) than people without dogs. No pups in the family? Consider offering to walk neighbors' or friends' dogs. A neighbor of mine put out a dog-walking request on Next Door and connected up with our dog, Sadie Mae, for weekly walks.

Master Mini-Workouts
Many people assume that healthy movement must take place at a certain time and place: 6:00 am yoga class or 7:30 am run at the high school track. But you can move virtually anywhere and anytime. For every 20-30 minutes you're sitting down, get up and walk for a few minutes. Every time you pass through a doorway, stretch your arms on the door frame. Standing in line at the grocery store, do a few lunges or stretch your calves. Whenever you get out of your car, reach to touch your toes.

Take A Stand
Try a stand-up option at your desk. Studies have shown standing moderately improves work-place performance but standing more undoubtedly increases your options for healthy movement throughout your workday. Try placing a book under the ball of your foot and stretching your calf. You can put your knee on the desk in a half-pigeon pose to stretch your hip. You will be more inclined to shift positions or walk down the hall to talk to a colleague.

Decrease Your overall sedentary time.
Find a canine partner to walk with. 
Choose mini-workouts throughout the day.
Consider a standing desk for your workspace.  

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Use Your Head to Get an Edge

For this season of Lent, I have challenged myself to meditate every day. Until now, I have blogged about it, recommended it, talked about it but have never made the time to practice meditation daily. I am doing well and noting progress. I remind myself that the practice is the important part, not meeting a specific goal. Here are three brain benefits you can discover from investing just a few minutes a day.
Meditation can help your focus become sharper.
By strengthening your pre-frontal cortex, the area of your brain used for planning and decision-making, meditation makes it easier to lock in on what you're doing in the moment. You're creating new neural pathways that help you stay in the moment and that can improve your performance whether you're managing a board meeting, playing tennis or trying to keep the beat in a dance cardio class.

Meditation can help you push past your limits.
The last rep, the final lap in the pool or mile on the trail - that's the tough one. Harnessing your brainpower can help you cut through the discomfort. Meditators can tone down the part of their brain that judges and tries to control pain. Instead, they are able to view it with a relaxed, non-judging attitude. By training the mind, you can learn to deal with discomfort in a new way.

Meditation can help you gain workout willpower.
Mindfulness is really powerful in that moment right before you decide whether to run that extra mile, stay through class or swim five more laps.  By acknowledging the itch to quit and instead taking a breath to let the impulse pass, you are creating a space to make a better choice - one that gets you some progress.
Meditation is just like working out. The more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. Recent research has found that just a few weeks of meditation can thicken your brain stem and increase your gray matter. Practice and consistency will strengthen your brain and nervous system the same way lifting weights strengthen your muscles.

Check out these previous blog posts for more on meditation: Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Willpower and Brain-Body Benefits of Meditation

Stay Active, Keep Moving and 
Begin Mediating This Week