7 Small Lifestyle Changes with Big Health Benefits

lifestyle-changes

You eat plenty of vegetables and clean protein and exercise regularly, so why in the world would you need to make lifestyle changes?

The truth is, good health is incredibly complex, and there are lots of tiny tweaks you can make to your daily habits in order to help you live longer, and with more energy, focus, and happiness.

These seven simple lifestyle changes, for example, may seem small, but they can lead to big improvements to your health. Try them now to start thriving 24-7.

7 Lifestyle Changes for Good Health

1. Get fat…in your diet.

No, this is not license to make fried food a dietary staple (please, please don’t do that). But good fats from foods like avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts are essential for immune system function, fat burning (really!), feeling full, and glowing skin. In fact, the fear of fat had a lot to do with a long era of carb and sugar diet dominance, which we now know had all kinds of negative health effects. Let’s leave that behind.
lifestyle changes

2. Get 7–9 hours of sleep every. single. night.

The drawbacks to skimping on sleep are no joke. Consider this: if you’re skipping just an hour and getting six each night, your risk of obesity goes up 23 percent. You need seven to nine every night, even if that means skipping a 6:00-a.m. workout every once in awhile. If you have trouble getting to sleep, use calming essential oils, eat sleep-promoting foods, or try learning from your sleep patterns by wearing a tracking watch like the Withings Steel HR. You can also work on creating a better environment for sleep via products like Withings’ Aura, which wakes you up with energizing light and customized music.

3. Drink water like it’s going out of style.

It’s impossible to overstate how important staying hydrated is. Drinking enough water (ideally 64 ounces, or eight eight-ounce glasses per day) will lead to more energy, better skin, and maybe even weight loss.

lifestyle changes

4. Get up, and get moving.

Yes, vigorous exercise is essential, but heavy lifting for an hour can’t undo the negative effects of sitting for the entire rest of the day. In fact, a recent study found some of exercise’s benefits were negated by prolonged periods of sitting. Invest in a tool that tracks your steps, like the Withings Go to encourage you to move enough throughout the day. Try taking the stairs or taking short walks around your office at the top of every hour.

5. Take a probiotic.

Which supplements you need and don’t need can be super confusing, but science is increasingly pointing to the vast health benefits of a healthy gut, from a better mood to a strong immune system. One easy way to start working on your microbiome is to pop a high-quality probiotic daily.

6. Make time to make love.

Do you really need reasons to jump on this one? Orgasms, it turns out, are good for your brain, immune system, sleep, and more. Friendly reminder: a partner is great, but you don’t need one to reap the health benefits of sexual satisfaction.

7. Read your beauty labels like you read your food labels.

Many women obsess over organic ingredients in their crackers and then slather on creams filled with chemicals linked to increased risk of cancer. Look for natural and organic brands that use simple ingredients that sound like food (coconut oil! lavender!) and watch for these big offending ingredients: phthalates, fragrance, parabens, formaldehyde, and coal tar.

This blog was created in partnership with Withings.

Photo Credits: James Garcia via Unsplash, Cassidy Kelley via Stocksnap.io, Quentin Dr via Stocksnap.io

Sleep Deep: Scents for a restful night

Unmade Bed

There is nothing better than a delicious night’s sleep. One of the pillars of wellness I talk up all the time is the importance of sleeping deep. You’d be surprised to learn how ridiculously hard getting a good night of zzzz’s is for so many of us. You’d think that resting at the end of the day and waking up in the morning would be easy, but that isn’t always a truism. Hey, some of us think it’s easy to exercise every day while others find it torture. You might be able to suck back water no prob, while your buddy chokes on every sip. Don’t be frustrated with yourself if sleep doesn’t come easy for you. And I don’t blame you if you’re not up for doing a lot of work to fix it right now (counting sheep sounds like a lot of effort to me, too). I’ll make it easy, try smelling your way to better rest. Certain scents are linked to better shut eye and require very little exertion on your part. Give one of these a go, in the name of better dreamin’:

The most famous scent linked to sweet dreams is lavender. Research has shown it helps to slow your heart rate, increases drowsiness, lowers your blood pressure and promotes calming. Leave a little bottle of lavender oil on your night table and rub a couple of drops into your palms. You can also leave a bowl of lavender flowers on your nightstand, next to your book and lamp.

A cup of chamomile tea releases a relaxation aroma that is good for the mind and soul. Chamomile is linked to feelings of calm, AND managing symptoms of stress and relaxation. If you’re worried about trips to the bathroom all night, skip sipping! Wrap your mitts around a mug and inhale. The smell alone will do the trick to help your slumber. You can also put a couple drops of essential oil in your humidifier for long lasting effects.

Vanilla isn’t only for your pastries. It’s linked with the feel good hormones that help you sleep. Yes, you can have a cup of warm milk with vanilla, like you used to as a kid, but have you tried massaging your hands with vanilla extract? Or a couple drops of vanilla extract in an atomizer to spray on your pillow before hitting the sack? (BTW, save the real vanilla extract for the baking and use imitation vanilla extract for this, as it is cheaper and works the same). If it is anxiety that is keeping your peepers open, give a whiff of vanilla a go.

Nighty night friends. Smell your way to sweet dreams. Your sleep is a nutritious life pillar worthy of your time and effort, but try these quick fixes first. May delicious rest find you tonight.

Feel Great for July 4th

Firework

Fireworks: inspiring, exciting, powerful, unusual. We all love the feeling that comes from the sky exploding in celebration. Firework feelings should not be saved for one precious day each year when we celebrate our country’s independence. We all want to feel a bit more excitement and magic these days. Let’s use this July 4th to focus on feeling the fireworks as we wait for the train, go through the to-do list of our lives and work and play in our communities. I’m offering a few words of wisdom to get you started. Try them out this week and reflect as you watch the sky burst with lights this July 4th.

Sleep Deep: poorly rested bodies experience delayed responses, dulled energy, metabolic inefficiency and worsened decision making. Want to feel energized and explosive? Tuck yourself in. Aim for a minimum of 7 hours between the sheets, treat yourself to a 20 minute nap if you expect a late night and lie down for a quick siesta when the stimulant from your morning coffee wears off.

Love More: while I have you thinking about your time between the sheets, go ahead and up your feel good hormones with a little bit of touching. Sex related activities flood the body with oxytocin, which is the hormone responsible for that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when the big sky-rockets go off under the covers. Most of us could benefit from making a little more time for intimate activities, so turn the tube off sooner and have some fun!

Nurture Yourself: if you want to feel more fireworks in your life, you have to feel firework worthy. There are amazing benefits to feeling your best: your posture straightens, your attitude and outlook brighten, you put a better version of yourself out into the world. Think about what makes you feel pampered. Do you feel good when you take a few extra minutes to use a delicious moisturizer? Spend a few extra minutes on your hair? Go for a manicure or massage? What does it for you? It is not selfish to spend these few extra minutes on your self care. You deserve to both look and feel your best.

I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July and the feelings of awe, inspiration and wonder find you more often than just once a year. Try these tips. You’re Independence feeling can shine anytime!

Ode to Mom

Mothers Day Roses

I loved this so much that I am sharing it again . . . Happy Mother’s Day, Moms!

One of the perks of having your own business is that you get to choose (to some extent) the people who you surround yourself with on a daily basis.  I am continually inspired by spending time with my colleagues, who I am lucky to also call friends.  I have asked some of these great women who work with me at Nutritious Life to take a moment to reflect on Mother’s Day.  Their answers speak to some of the pillars that are the foundation of a Nutritious Life. I hope these words inspire you as you recognize and honor the women and mothers in your life, this Mother’s Day.

Tiffany: Eating Empowered

As a mom of a preschooler, people ask me if my daughter eats healthy because I’m a nutritionist.  The truth is, she’s a typical kid who loves her sweets and struggles to get in green vegetables.  When I was in grad school studying nutrition I had very strong ideas about how I would feed my child when I became a mother…and then I actually had a child.  She is her own person and has her own likes and dislikes.  She does like a lot of healthy foods, but it is a daily, ongoing attempt to get her to try new foods.  I just try to expose her to these wonderfully healthy foods as much as possible, so at the very least she recognizes them (she can identify kale and avocado even if she hasn’t quite yet learned to like them).  She helps me assemble my salads, we go to the farmers’ market together, and she knows all about vitamins A, B and C and how they make her body healthy.  I keep telling myself that I was picky as a kid and grew up to love vegetables, so there’s hope for her, too. So, on Mother’s Day we will enjoy one of our favorite weekend activities together…cooking whole wheat pancakes.  She gets on the step stool and helps me measure and mix the batter, and we occasionally add some fruit to bump up the nutrition.  But let’s be honest, for my daughter it’s not about the whole grain goodness; it’s really all about the syrup.

Amanda: Stress Less

Growing up, my mom always taught me to STRESS LESS. I’ve always had a tendency to stress about things that were out of my control or that really weren’t worth stressing about. My mom has a saying: “Is this tragic or merely inconvenient?” Putting the problem into perspective and knowing that I can deal with the “inconvenient”, and helping me come up with a plan always helped me stress less, and is a phrase I often repeat to myself today when something arises. To return the favor, my mom and I spend Mother’s Day indulging in a relaxing spa day each year.

Lara: Sleep Deep

As the mother of two little girls, almost 4 and 20 months, sleeping in doesn’t happen often. Since our eldest child was born, my husband makes Mother’s Day a special day for me beginning with a lazy morning in bed. It’s amazing what a little extra sleep can do for my overall mood and energy. It sets me up for an amazing day with my family. In fact, just the idea of knowing I can stay in bed is enough for me. On Mother’s Day, like most days, I just want snuggle with my girls and get lots of hugs and kisses. Being a mother is the greatest gift in the world. And a little extra sleep doesn’t hurt!

Michelle: Pamper Thyself

Mother’s day is a traditional day in my family where for as long as I can remember, the day is all about embracing, valuing, and pampering my mom, grandmothers, aunts, and all mothers in the family alike. For brunch, my dad’s side of the family would gather around my grandmother over an abundance of middle eastern Persian cuisine and tell jokes, pastime stories, and sing happy mother’s day songs in Persian, Hebrew, and English. My cousins and I would create small gifts of hearts and poems to distribute to our mothers, giving them hugs, kisses, and unforgettable keepsakes. Then for dinner, we would do the same exact thing with my mother’s side of the family. As I grew older, my gifts became more sophisticated from a scribble of love to a spa date. It is a big day of appreciation and acknowledgement for all mothers do – so do a little something extra to pamper all the mothers out there, including yourself! No matter how old you get mom still loves the hand written heart shaped poems – a keepsake that she can always turn to for happiness and smiles. This Mother’s Day pamper mom with written love whether that is a beautiful poem, note, engraved poetry art, or a handmade scrapbook/collage, it will be sure to keep her smiling and feel loved and appreciated for more than just one day!

Stacia: Sex Ed

I don’t really like to be the center of attention. It makes me nervous. I have tried repeatedly to make Mother’s Day about my mother or mother in law – pampering others is much more my style. But, with 3 amazing kids, I have no choice but to succumb to their doting. Really, it is like bizzaro day. Instead of making 5 breakfasts, lunches and dinners, cleaning up and managing the household, my family takes charge. Behind it all is my husband, who plans, orchestrates and organizes breakfast, my kiddie “rock concert” and barbecue or picnic. There is nothing sexier to me than watching the man I adore (after 12 years 6 moves, more than 10 jobs between us, sickness and health) make super-daddy-egg-sandwiches, and actually clean up. On Mother’s Day, it is not lost on me that the honor of being called mumma is really because of the man I love.

Cheers to another year of parenting! I hope you are honored, pampered and rested in celebration of all your hard work.

Labor of (Self) Love

Coffee On A Rainy Day
Some people are really into the New Year’s resolution thing, but I’m not a huge believer in the once a year promises – I try to make small goals for myself and work at them often. While I try to start each year fresh, Labor Day really inspires me to reevaluate what I want from my year. I’m not going to chat you up with back-to-school rallying. I will not stress you out with talk of changing your wardrobe and breaking out the boots. I really want to speak to your (and my) personal goals on this Labor Day holiday.

I want to ask you to be a partner with me as I lay the foundation for the upcoming academic year. I like to look at the mission of my private practice and make sure that I’m practicing what I preach. I need to keep my work fresh, so sitting down to do this is super important to me.

There are 8 key elements to my philosophy – I call them the “pillars” of Nutritious Life. I’m going to lay them out for you. There is a bullet with MY goal to correspond with each pillar and I have left one bullet for you in each category to add your goals. Remember to keep your goals simple and attainable. You have reached your goal if it has become a habit; at that point, set a new goal for yourself.

Eat empoweredFeel empowered putting the most nutrient rich food in your body. It’s not “I can’t eat the dessert” – it IS – “I can eat the blueberries!”  When we focus on how good we feel fueling ourselves with the best foods you will continue to be motivated to eat these foods.

Exercise steady  — Aside from burning calories exercise is important because when we exercise our bodies releases endorphins which make us feel good and motivate us to eat well, do our jobs well and simply be happy!

Drink upOur bodies are 50-75% water. The most common reason people are sluggish in the afternoon is due to dehydration. If we don’t drink enough water our bodies do not function properly, we become tired and do not metabolize food properly.

Pamper thyselfTreating ourselves to something special can have emotional and physical benefits. Simple small indulgences, like a manicure, massage, bubble bath can make us look and feel great.

Sleep deepWhen we are well rested we make better food choices, have more energy to go the gym, walk to work or take time for our favorite activities.

Sex edOxytocin – a hormone released after orgasm in men and women, through cuddling, and even by simply holding hands – acts as a soothing antioxidant and may make it easier for people to stick to their healthy eating style.

Stress lessStress increases the level of the hormone cortisol in our bodies, which in turn makes our bodies crave carbohydrates, specifically high sugar carbohydrates, and store fat around the mid-section. So, even if we don’t eat more due to stress we can still gain weight due to stress!

Live Consciously — The environment that surrounds us can impact our heath, both our mental and physical health.

OK, friends. Get cracking. Of course you can share them with me or a good friend . . . remember to reevaluate often. Happy Labor Day. Enjoy!

Steam Things Up for Better Sleep

Humidifier

It’s warming up outside, but harsh, winter conditions may still be lingering inside; the dryness and dust in re-circulated office air and home heating systems can be enough to keep your sinuses stuffy for weeks at a time. Adding moisture to the air in your space gives your upper respiratory system a break.  Studies show that even people with breathing problems, who sleep with a humidifier feel far more refreshed upon awakening than others. Heading to bed at night should be restorative, not depleting…

NLT: Steam things up. If you need a quick fix to clear your sinuses and wake up dry skin, try heating 1-2 cups of water in a pan on your stove until just steaming (no hotter!). Add 2-3 drops of lavender or jasmine essential oil for a calming scent, or eucalyptus oil to open your airways. Place a large bath towel over your head, lean over the pan, and make a “tent” with the towel. Slowly breathe in the warm air, allowing the vapor to hydrate your sinuses and your skin. Follow with a good face cream to seal all that moisture in.

Better Sex = Better Sleep?

Couple In Bed Cuddling
Trouble sleeping? We all know sex is good for our health, but did you know that getting lucky can actually help you fall asleep? Research shows that the tendency for a person to fall asleep right after sex is associated with a greater desire for bonding and cuddling with their partner. This study also found that women were more likely than men to be the first to fall asleep after intimacy. Get close to your partner and get some shut eye!

NLT: In We Were an Island: The Maine Life of Art & Nan Kellam, Peter Blanchard writes about a couple that kept their relationship wonderful while living alone together on an isolated island for 40 years. Of course, personal space and occasional solitude was essential for each of them nonetheless.

5 Ways to Get Ready for a Big Day

Wedding Day Shoes

Here you go, the fastest way to lose weight this week. Okay, so you may not be walking the red carpet to accept an Oscar and you may not be carrying the flag for the US of A at the Olympics, but you just may want to get your A game on for a big date of your own.  Whether it’s for a date with your very own McSteamy, a special b-day, that tropical vacation you’ve planned with your girls or you just want to jumpstart your weight loss plan, I’ve got the healthiest fastest way to lose weight stat. The key is to put these five steps into full on action.

 

One Week Countdown:

 

 1.      Eat Empowered

 

Eat real food. Often.  Stop worrying about what extreme diet you need to start, stop counting calories and start thinking about the real food you’re going to eat. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and at least one snack a day (no skipping meals!) consisting of whole, real foods. I’m talking loads of veggies, lean protein such as grass fed steak, chicken, fish and eggs and healthy fats as in cashews, pecans, olives, avocado and coconut. Ditch the packaged and processed foods – especially anything that includes added sugar. If you need an exact plan, I’ve got you covered here. Begin your day with breakfast and eat every few hours or when you feel slightly hungry and stop when you feel slightly satisfied. Not sure what that feels like? Check out this hack. Eating real food combined with listening to your body is your new winning combo.

Fact: Eating real food makes you feel better and that alone can make you look  better. If you’re skimping on nutrients or need a way to boost your protein check out our Nutritious Life developed green powder and vegan protein powder. It’s the fastest way to up your nutrition game.

 2.      Sweat Often

 

Get 45 minutes of movement in – every day this week. I’m a fan of mixing up exercise and getting in HIIT workouts one day, long bouts of cardio or a hike on another and pilates and yoga on other days. But, most of all I’m a fan of being consistent with exercising and moving, in whatever way, shape or form makes you feel your best. The fastest way to lose weight means sticking with whatever movement makes you feel good. When you feel good you’re more likely to be consistent. Also, when you feel you good, you eat well and you sleep well which, guess what…helps you eat well again. This is what a Nutritious Life is all about. This week, I want you focused on being consistent with your exercise and doing it daily. You don’t even need to hit a gym to get it in, here’s a quickie workout I do just about anywhere.  5 mile run sound good? Do it. Spin class right up your alley? Get that in. Hike in the hills all you want to do? Go for it. 

Fact: Yes, you will shed pounds by burning calories when you exercise but exercising also increases blood flow which helps with circulation giving your skin a healthy glow. Exercise can also help reduce stress which will help you sleep better, both of which are needed to calm your nerves.

 3.      Sleep Deep

 

Aim for 8 hours a night, settle for no less than 7.  For some reason sleep is still one of those things that we give up to fit everything else into our busy schedules. Many of us still feel like we should get a gold star when we triumphantly go without sleep to log more hours at a bar chatting it up with friends or burning the midnight oil at our desk. Unfortunately, no medals awarded here. Sleep should be a top priority. It’s right up there with what we put into our bodies, especially when we want to be looking and feeling our best. This week practice good sleep hygiene by picking a bed time and sticking to it and allowing yourself 15 minutes of winding down time before your head hits the pillow.

Fact:  They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing.  While we sleep, our body’s natural antioxidant melatonin, a sleep hormone, fights off free radical invaders.  If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, you’re reducing the amount of time that melatonin gets to fight off wrinkles and those bags under your eyes will only get worse.  By getting enough sleep at night, you not only look and feel well-rested, but your immune system will be strengthened.

 4.      Drink Up

 

Drink 8 glasses of water and 2 cups of green tea a day.  For two days before your special occasion, drink a cup of dandelion root tea as well. Trust me, this one is important. Being properly hydrated is linked to metabolism, energy and skin health.

Fact: Sounds counterintuitive, right?  But by drinking water throughout the day, you reduce bloating, flush out toxins, hydrate your skin to achieve a healthy glow, and keep your digestive organs in good working order.  Green tea has been shown to boost metabolism and dandelion tea will help flush you out, further reducing toxins and any bloating.

 5.      Pamper Yourself

 

Cleanse!  No time or money to book that expensive facial?  Have no fear, your DIY cleanser is here. Give this easy homemade cleanser and mask a try and you’ll almost be able to feel the antioxidants and nutrients seep into your skin making it soft, smooth, and younger looking. Don’t forget to moisturize twice daily.

Pink Dairy Cleanser: Each day this week, use this quick and easy cleanser by mixing 2 teaspoons milk, 2 teaspoons pink grapefruit juice with pulp, and 2 teaspoons Greek plain yogurt or sour cream until smooth.

Soothing Green and White Mask: 7 days and 4 days before the big day puree ¼ can white beans and 5 cucumber slices in a food processor until smooth.  Gently massage the mask onto your face and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing off.

Fact: Pink Dairy Cleanser – the yogurt will gently exfoliate and stimulate collagen, to help firm your skin.  The pink grapefruit will protect your skin from sun damage and the formation of free radicals.  Soothing Green and White Mask – This refreshing mask will help sooth redness and inflammation and leave your skin feeling serene.

October 2011 Sleep Deep

Alarm Clock  1

You stayed up too late last night, didn’t you? Was it that extra load of laundry or that tv episode or that chapter you had to finish? Give yourself a full night’s sleep tonight, and you need to tell your kids to do the same. A University of Minnesota study showed that teens who received A’s averaged about 15 more minutes of sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged 11 more minutes than the C’s, and the C’s had 10 more minutes than the D’s. Results have been similar for grade schoolers and kindergarteners as well. Next time you tell your kids to ‘Go to bed!” be sure to do the same.

 NLT: If you are getting enough sleep, then you won’t have a reason to hit the snooze button in the morning. But if you MUST, then you might as well save the world at the same time, right? Solution: Download the Snooze alarm app! Every time you hit snooze, a quarter goes into an account, and twice a month, the app will ask if you’d like to donate your collected snooze money to the charity of your choice through LetsGive. 10 more minutes of sleep has never been so kind.

 How many hours of sleep do you normally get? Do you have any rituals that help you get to bed earlier? How many times do you hit the snooze button in the morning?

AUGUST 2011: SLEEP DEEP

Baby In A Hammock
Need to catch up on some zzzs? Ditch your traditional mattress and try sleeping in a hammock. No longer just a relaxing summertime swing, over 10 million people worldwide are now choosing to sleep in hammocks. Sound crazy? Well, researchers think these rocking cradles may be the answer to your sleep problems. The Journal of Current Biology reports that the gentle rocking motion found in hammocks adds a lulling sense of comfort that helps induce sleep. This not only helps you fall asleep faster but also stay asleep longer. In fact, swaying back and forth increases the time you spend in a deep non-dreaming state, which is the key component to a good night’s sleep. Hammocks also contour to your body’s natural shape, eliminating all pressure points for one enjoyable night of sleep. Turns out babies may not be on the only ones who can benefit from a little gentle rocking when it comes to sleep.

NLT: Sick of those long nights spent tossing and turning? It’s time to invest in your very own peaceful sleep swing! Check out www.hammocks.com to browse a huge selection and find the one that’s right for you. We love the Brazilian hammock: Made out of thick cotton instead of rope, this hammock is not only comfortable but also durable and affordable. What do you have to lose except for a great night’s rest?