Seasonal Affective Disorder: What it is and What to do About it?

 

It’s that time of year again—a time of cool breezes, colored leaves and holiday preparation.  Fall and winter are exciting times…  Unless you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).    If you struggle with winter depression, this time of year is not filled with joy and anticipation.  Instead, you probably feel like hiding under the covers until spring arrives in several months…

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Everyone has the blues now and then.  But SAD is a depressive state that occurs seasonally, year after year, usually in the fall and winter.  If you suffer from SAD, you may feel perfectly normal during the spring and summer months, but starting around October or November, symptoms begin showing up.

Because this type of depression come and goes with the seasons, you may wonder if it is all in your head.  It isn’t.  This is a real condition and can have a devastating impact on your life.

Researchers still don’t know the exact cause of SAD, but there are some factors that seem to be involved, and they involve the decreased amount of sunlight that fall and winter bring.

  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that impacts mood and sleep.  As the seasons change, your melatonin levels can fluctuate and may cause feelings of depressions.
  • Serotonin: When the amount of sunlight drops, so can your serotonin levels.  Since this chemical helps you have feelings of well-being and happiness, not having enough of it can cause your mood to drop.
  • Internal clock: Some scientists think that decreased sunlight disrupts your normal rhythms of wakefulness and sleepiness.  The result is sad and depressed feelings.

What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD will often manifest itself as feelings of sadness or depression.  You may feel as though you cannot get enough sleep—struggling to get out of the bed in the morning, feeling drowsy during the day and going to bed earlier than you usually do.

Your energy and concentration may also run low, and this can affect your productivity at work and at home.  Of course, not having the energy to ‘get things done,’ only leads to frustration and more feelings of depression.  You may also notice weight gain.  Typically, SAD sufferers will crave foods high in carbohydrates and can gain between 9 and 30 pounds each year.

Finally, your social life may suffer.  If you are depressed, you just won’t enjoy being around others as much as you used to.  This can turn into social withdrawal which makes your feelings of depression and sadness even worse.

Now for the Good News – Ways to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

If you think that you may be one of the millions of people who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, you will be happy to know that you have many treatment options available.  Try experimenting with different treatments until you find one or a combination that works for you:

  1. Light therapy: Up to 85% of winter depression sufferers are helped by simply sitting under a therapy light.  The bright light stabilizes the out-of-balance chemicals in your body, helping you to feel less depressed and more like yourself.  The best lights are those between 2,500 and 10,000 lux.
  2. Vitamin D3: Vitamin D is frequently referred to as “The Sunshine Vitamin” because your body produces it when exposed to sunlight.  In fact, just 20-30 minutes of sunlight will produce 10,000 – 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D.  Why is this important?  Vitamin D is actually a hormone that has important roles in supporting a healthy heart, cellular replication, immune system, mood & mental health, muscles, blood sugar levels, and more!

 

  1. Exercise: Exercise is a powerful player in the fight against SAD.  When you exercise, your body releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.  These chemicals cause you to feel happy, confident and bring about a feeling of well-being.  The elated feelings that endorphins bring are comparable to the feelings that morphine and heroin create.  To release endorphins, you will need to sustain your workout for about 30 minutes.
  2. Dawn Simulators: Unlike the spring months, in which the light of dawn and dusk changes gradually, the winter months bring a much more abrupt change of light.  This may be one of the aggravators of SAD.  Try a dawn simulator.  These appliances can be programmed, much like an alarm clock, to gradually brighten your room each morning before you wake up.  Some SAD sufferers have had great success with dawn simulators.

You are not alone if you are beginning to feel depressed with the shortened days that we are experiencing.  Experiment with some of the treatment options and especially start exercising.  Before you know it, the days will begin lengthening out again!

Holiday Survival Guide: How to Get Through the Holidays With No Regrets

 

Let’s face it:  it is hard to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan during the holidays.  Everywhere we turn there are tempting foods and drinks—from treats at office parties to our own traditional family favorites.  When you add in a busy schedule filled with shopping and get-togethers that make it tough to squeeze in exercise, you have a recipe for disaster as far as our scales are concerned.

The good news is that you really can get through the holidays without gaining weight.  It will take some effort, but you will thank yourself a thousand times when January 1st rolls around and you have no regrets!

Your Goal:  Maintenance

In order to greet the New Year without tipping the scale, it is wise to try to maintain your weight during the next few weeks instead of trying to lose.   Remember:  you want to enjoy the holidays, not be miserable from deprivation.  This means that you will allow yourself occasional treats and splurges and keep the scale where it is rather than trying to actually decrease your weight.

There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Don’t skip your workouts. Even moderate intensity workouts can burn 300-400 calories per hour.  You need this calorie-burn to keep up with the richer food that you will be eating.  You will also be less likely to overeat if you have just sweated through a hard workout!
  • Eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day than those who skip this important meal.
  • Keep a food diary. Write down every single thing you eat—even if it is only one bite of shrimp cocktail.  It is a proven fact that keeping a food journal results in better weight control than not keeping one.
  • Monitor your hunger. Never show up at a party or buffet ravenous—you will most certainly overeat.  Drink water and have a protein-filled snack (such as nuts or cheese) before arriving. This will help you to have more self-control around the temptations.
  • Weigh yourself twice each week. Normally it is not a good idea to step on the scale too often, but during the holidays it’s a great way to stay on track with your goals. If you see the scale start to creep, you can immediately take steps to correct it, such as backing off your calories for a day or two, drinking more water and adding in a little more exercise.
  • Watch your portion size. If you have an idea of how much food you are putting on your plate, you will be less likely to overdo it.  Take a look at the chart to familiarize yourself with portion sizes as they compare to your hand.
  • Deal quickly with leftovers. If you have unhealthy leftovers in your home, you are likely to indulge. Don’t leave them sitting around.  Freeze them, give them away or toss them.  It’s not worth the temptation!
  • Check in with your future self. Every day, speak to yourself from the future—say, from January 1.  Thank yourself for doing the tough work of self-discipline during these holiday weeks.  You might say something like this:


“Thank you!  I feel great!  I’m no heavier than I was in November, I’ve stayed on track with my exercise, my energy is incredible and I’ve got the momentum to spend the rest of the winter getting in even better shape before spring gets here!”

  • Go public. Sound scary?  It’s supposed to!  Let others know what your current weight is and check in with them each time you weigh yourself.  That kind of intense accountability will give you will power when the cheesecake and fudge starts showing up at the office!

You can survive the holidays with no added weight gain.  Remember these tips and keep a vision of what you want to feel like on January 1 in mind.  It’s going to be a great holiday season!

 

Too your success

What You Need to Know About Adrenal Fatigue

Chances are you have heard of adrenal fatigue, but you may not be quite sure what it is.  Understanding this condition is important however, because some experts suggest that 80% of the Western world will be affected by adrenal fatigue at some point in their lives.

The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and are responsible for secreting more than 50 different hormones that are essential for life.  Among these are adrenaline, cortisol, progesterone and testosterone.  Because they regulate so many important hormones, their proper function is critical for many functions essential to life such as producing energy, balancing electrolytes and storing fat.

These glands also help you deal with stress.  When you are under stress, the adrenal glands engage many different responses in your body to make it easier for you to handle that stress.

But during periods of intense, prolonged stress or chronic illness, the adrenal glands begin functioning below the level needed to maintain health and well-being in the body.  They still function but at less than optimal levels.  The result is adrenal fatigue.

 

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

There are some symptoms that are common among people who are suffering from adrenal fatigue.  These include:

  • Feeling tired for no reason
  • Craving salty or sweet snacks
  • Morning fatigue
  • Mid-afternoon sleepiness
  • Increased energy in the late afternoon
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Mild Depression
  • Weight gain, especially around the waist
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low body temperature

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.

 

Treatment

Treatment for adrenal fatigue focuses on making changes to your lifestyle and diet.  If you have minor adrenal fatigue, you can expect to be better within 6-9 months.  Moderate to severe adrenal fatigue can take between 12-24 months to heal, and severe cases can take even longer.

Stress:  One of the first things you should do is reduce the stress in your life.  This may mean clearing your schedule, reworking some relationships or learning time management skills.  In order for your adrenal glands to heal, the demands placed on them should be lightened.

Sleep:  Sufficient sleep is also important.  The main repair work on your adrenal glands takes place between 10 pm and 1 am.  If you are prone to late nights, consider training your body to go to bed earlier.  It is also a good idea to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet in order to help you sleep more soundly.

Exercise:  Adrenal fatigue can also be helped by exercise.  Exercise regulates cortisol, relieves depression and increases blood flow.  Each of these benefits will contribute to your recovery.  Try to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes each day.

Supplements: Finally, adding supplements to your diet can speed healing of adrenal fatigue.  Calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, E, and B complex are recommended. Also try to avoid ‘junk’ food as much as possible.  Rather, add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.

If you suspect you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, don’t be discouraged.  You can start the recovery process by making the above changes to your diet and lifestyle.

 

Sources:

http://www.naturalnews.com/019339_adrenal_fatigue_chronic_stress.html

http://www.healthremedies.com/adrenal_fatigue.html

 

 

Click HERE or shoot me an email  to schedule your free consult!

Power Over Habit: Why Mindset Matters

If you have ever tried to ignore a box of doughnuts at work, you know how hard it is to keep your hands to yourself and walk on by.  And once you walk on by, the battle isn’t over.  Even if you are in a different room and down the hall, you can’t stop thinking about those doughnuts.

Why is it so hard to resist something as small and seemingly innocent as a doughnut?  It has to do with habit—and mind set.

 

Hardwired habits

The draw you feel from that doughnut goes way beyond just a mild interest:  you are wired to want it, and resistance is hard.  In his book, The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler MD explains the breakdown:

When you taste foods that are highly palatable (such as foods containing excess sugar, fat and salt), your brain releases opioids into your blood stream. Opioids are brain chemicals that cause you to have intense feelings of reward and pleasure, as well as relieving pain and stress.  The pleasurable effect is similar to the feelings that morphine and heroin users experience.  The desire may be so intense that you keep taking one bite after another:  it can be hard to stop.

That explains why you keep eating.  But why do you give in and approach that doughnut box in the first place?  Why not just refuse to take that first bite?

The answer is another brain chemical called dopamine.  Dopamine is responsible for motivating you to seek out the doughnut so you can get the opioid release.  You remember how good it tasted and how great it made you feel.  Dopamine energizes you to work for that doughnut.  It causes you to concentrate on it and drives you to seek it out.

Once this process happens a few times, the whole cycle becomes a habit that is very reward focused, very ingrained and very hard to break.  Your brain’s circuitry has become mapped and wired to want the doughnut.  And you don’t even have to be near the doughnut for this process to start–the dopamine can kick in even when there are no doughnuts in site:  ever made a run to the store for a treat that you just had to have right then?

 

The result

Over one-third of all adults in our country are obese.  We live in a society in which we are surrounded by highly-palatable foods (think restaurant foods and processed foods).  The deeply ingrained habit of eating unhealthy food and too much of it is widespread. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded not only with unhealthy food, but also with a neural circuitry that drives us to pursue that unhealthy food.

 

Remap your brain with mindset

And now the good news:  you can start right now to change the trajectory that you are on.  You can rewire your brain and begin reducing the power that those opioid-producing foods have over you.  You can draw a new map in your mind that will have you passing by the doughnuts on your way to better pleasures.

The secret is mindset.  You must want something else more than you want those fleeting moments of pleasure that the doughnuts bring you.  What is it?  What do want?  Maybe you want to drop a couple of jeans sizes.  Maybe you want to be off your blood pressure medication.  Maybe you want to be known as an ‘athletic’ type person.  Maybe you want to keep disease at bay.  Or maybe you just want the immense satisfaction of being in control of yourself!  People who can’t resist a doughnut have given away power over their own lives!

Once you know what you want, go after it with the following strategies:

  1. Stop. There is no other way to say this: you must stop eating foods that are not in your plan.  In the beginning, this will be difficult.  When everyone around you is tossing back pizza and soft drinks, you will struggle.  You will smell the pizza, you will be in the emotionally charged atmosphere and dopamine will be flowing in your bloodstream.  Think about what you want more than that doughnut; think about what you can only have by resisting the doughnut.  Sheer will-power is what you have to use at this point.
  2. Savor the victory. Once you come out on the other side having successfully won the battle within your own mind, you will have accomplished much more than just saying no to a piece of pizza.  You will have begun ‘cooling’ the stimulus, as Dr. Kessler puts it.  You have taken the first step toward weakening the circuitry in your brain that drives you to habitual patterns of behavior.  The next time, it will be easier.  And after that, even easier.
  3. Focus on new rewards. As you remap your brain, you are creating new neural pathways that in time will be stronger than the weakening, “doughnut-centered” pathways.  Make sure these new rewards are life-giving and energy-producing, such as the thrill you get when you can run a 5K or set a PR in your weight-lifting.

You can have power over habits:  it’s all about mindset.  You can do this!

 

Having a coach guide you through this process is an essential step to reaching your ideal physique. Please click HERE or shoot me an email  to schedule your free consult!

Cold and Flu Season is Upon Us: How’s Your Gut Function?

Fall is here, and that means that cold and flu season has arrived.  Have you ever noticed that some people seldom get sick?  Or maybe you have wondered why after being exposed to the same virus, one person gets ill while the other remains well.

The reason lies in the strength of the immune system.  And the strength of your immune system is largely dependent upon the condition of your digestive system.

When you are exposed to bad bacteria or viruses, it is up to your immune system to protect you from being infected.  If your immune system is strong, your body will fight off the threat.  If your immune system is weak or compromised, you may end up sick.

 

Microbes:  the good, the bad, and the ugly

Inside your digestive system are many microbes.  Microbes are live organisms that affect your overall health.

Some of these organisms are beneficial and protect you from disease.  These good bacteria recognize when illness-producing intruders enter your body; they promptly attack the intruders so you do not get sick.  If you do not have enough good bacteria in your gut, you will be more susceptible not only to infections such as colds and stomach flu, but you will also be at risk for autoimmune diseases such as colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and Chron’s disease.

Ideally you have a large supply of these good microbes living in your gut.  But they can easily become depleted.  If you have recently taken antibiotics, you have had not only the bad bacteria wiped out, but also the good bacteria.  Antibiotics are not selective in their destruction.

Antibiotics are not the only way that good bacteria become depleted in your digestive system.  The chlorine in your drinking water can destroy them, as can the pesticide residue on the food that you eat.

Once the supply of beneficial microbes in your intestines dwindles, bad microbes such as yeast, fungi and disease-causing bacteria begin to take up residence.  When the scale tips in favor of the bad, your immune system becomes compromised.

 

Enter Probiotics

If you think you might be deficient in good microbes, it is not difficult to remedy the problem.  The solution is to take probiotics.  Probiotics are good microbes that you can consume in your diet.  They then settle in your digestive system and get to work protecting you from illness and destroying the bad bacteria that may be living there.

Probiotics are available in capsule form, but you can also replenish the good microbes by eating yogurt. Check the label on the yogurt that you buy to make sure it says that it contains active cultures—those are the good bacteria that you need to eat.

Take action now and get a head start on this year’s cold and flu season.  You can get ahead of the game by improving your gut function and fighting illness.

 

Winter is around the corner. Don’t let your fitness and health fall by the wayside. Please click HERE or shoot me an email  to schedule your free consult! Together we can get the best results during a time that most take easy.

 

Coach Brian

Relax and Lose Weight

Want to get healthy and lose weight?  Then relax.  It’s true.  So relax and read on for tips!

The role of cortisol

One of the most important reasons that relaxation is good for you is because it prevents the release of excess cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases when it is stressed.  If you only have small amounts of cortisol, there is no problem.  But when stress is persistent, as it is in many of our lives, the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream rises and stays elevated.  The result?  Weight gain.

When cortisol is released, you begin craving foods that deliver quick energy, such as potato chips, candy bars, pastries, etc.  If this were not bad enough, cortisol goes on to store those extra calories as fat, mainly around your abdominal area.

Cortisol also interferes with the hormones that control your appetite; you will find that you are hungry more often and have a hard time staying satiated.

And if that were not enough, cortisol can also cause decreased muscle mass because it lowers testosterone levels.  The less muscle you have, the less fat you will burn.

 

The science of relaxation

The good news is that intentional relaxation can combat stress and combat cortisol.  Scientists have discovered what they call “the relaxation effect.”  Specifically, Harvard researchers have learned that deep relaxation causes bodily changes all the way down to our genetic level.  For those people who practiced yoga long term, their disease fighting genes were active, as opposed to people who did not make relaxation a part of their lives.1

The participants in the study who practiced yoga had ‘switched on’ genes that protect them from high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, pain and even infertility.

But wait!  There’s more…

When the researchers in the study asked the non-relaxation practicing participants to start using relaxation methods, it only took two months for their bodies to begin changing.  Genes that fight inflammation and help prevent cancer began turning on! And the more they practiced relaxation, the more improved were the benefits.

The take away message?  You can’t afford not to relax. Too much is riding on this. Start now and in just a couple short months, you can be enjoying the genetic benefits of robust health.

Source:

1 http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/relax–its-good-for-you-20090819-eqlo.html

 

Please click HERE or shoot me an email at the email below to schedule your free consultation!

 

 

Coach Brian

Protect Your Brain from Alzheimer’s Disease

Surveys have shown that there is something that Americans fear more than death.

It is Alzheimer’s disease.

For most of us, losing our personhood–those characteristics which makes us who we are–is a fate worse than death.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Named after Alois Alzheimer, who discovered the condition in 1906, Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the function of the brain by causing the brain cells to degenerate and then die.  There is no cure, and the progression of the disease leads to eventual death.  The first symptoms of the disease usually show up as forgetfulness, but as it worsens, more long-term memory loss occurs, along with other symptoms such as mood swings, irritability and inability to recognize languages.

How Prevalent is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s affects 5.3 million Americans, and it is predicted that by 2050, 1 in 8 Americans will be stricken with it.  The Medicare system spends three times as much money on Alzheimer’s treatment as it does on any other disease.

Is Alzheimer’s Inevitable?

The good news is there is much you can do to reduce the chances that you will develop this disease.  Because of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in our country, many people view it as a normal and inevitable part of the aging process.  But this is not so.  Alzheimer’s is a disease, and you do not have to get sick with this disease.

In fact, in spite of it being so common in America, there are societies in which dementia and Alzheimer’s is rare, even for people in their 90’s and beyond.  The elders in these cultures maintain clear thinking without the burden of dementia that we have come to associate with aging.

 

Preventing Alzheimer’s

Following are some steps you can take right now to protect yourself from getting Alzheimer’s.

1.   Get plenty of physical exercise

In his book, Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples, John Robbins cites study after study that demonstrate the stunning effect of exercise on the brain’s ability to function well, even at advanced ages.

In one such study, documented in the Archives of Neurology (March 2001), it was found that the people with the highest activity levels were only half as likely as inactive people to develop Alzheimer’s.  Further, these active people were also substantially less likely to develop any form of dementia or impairment in mental functioning.

In another study1, some mice were bred to develop the type of plaque that is associated with Alzheimer’s in their brains.  Some of the mice were allowed to exercise and some were not.

Two important findings emerged. 

  1. The mice who exercised developed 50-80 percent less plaque in their brains that the non-exercising mice developed.
  2. The exercising mice produced more of the enzyme that prevents the buildup of plaque in the brain.

The takeaway conclusion? Those people who exercise more are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or any other kind of dementia.

2.  Eat a healthy diet

Exercise is not the only thing that can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Diet also plays a crucial role.  The best diet for preventing dementia is one low in animal-derived foods but high in plant foods such as

  • fresh vegetables
  • fresh fruit
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes

Scientists think that the protection these foods offer against dementia stems from their high concentration of anti-oxidants.  Anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals which are responsible for the damage that causes dementia.

A healthy diet also helps you avoid other health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and arteriosclerosis.

In another study cited by Robbins, researchers found that persons who are obese in middle age are twice as likely to develop dementia in their later years as those people who had normal weights.  Further, if these people also have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, their risk for dementia in old age escalates to six times higher than normal weight people!

What are you waiting for?

Remember, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Once symptoms start showing up it is too late.  Start now to defend yourself against this fate-worse-than-death disease:  get moving and eat a clean, healthy diet.  You will reap the benefits literally for years to come! Do yourself a favor and schedule your free consultation! Please click HERE

1http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/MY00002

Be Smart about Gluten-Free Foods

Are you going gluten-free?  If so, you are in good company.  Many Americans are reducing the gluten in their diets.  Some are doing this because they have a confirmed diagnosis of Celiac disease, some are gluten sensitive, and others are finding that reducing gluten aids them in weight loss.

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt and semolina.  It not only gives baked goods their characteristic texture and chewiness, but it is also used in the processing of many other foods to add thickness, flavor and added protein.

If someone has Celiac disease, they have a condition in which the body experiences an immune reaction when gluten is eaten.  The result is damage to the inside of the small intestine, which impairs absorption of nutrients.  Gluten sensitivity is different in that the reaction to gluten is less severe and less damaging to the small intestine, but physical symptoms are still present, such as nutritional deficiencies, gastro intestinal difficulties and headaches. In spite of their differences, both conditions are treated by removing gluten from the diet.

It is not just those who have a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten who are removing it from their diets, though.  Many healthy people are reducing gluten, usually because they are interested in reducing carbohydrates in their diets.  Most breads, pastas and baked goods contain carbohydrates, because they contain wheat.  If you are interested in lowering your carb intake, going-gluten free is one way to do that because traditionally, many baked goods are made with wheat, which is high in gluten.  When you remove wheat from your diet, you have fewer choices when it comes to carbs.

But “fewer choices” does not mean “no choices.”  With the explosion of interest in gluten-free products, food manufacturers have stepped-up the production of baked goods that look, taste and feel like traditional, gluten-containing foods, but are in fact, gluten-free.  From breads to cinnamon rolls to pastas, there is a gluten-free food to satisfy nearly any craving you might have.

This is good news for those who need alternatives, but it is also bad news, because it is easy to mistake gluten-free for carb-free.  The two are not the same.  Carbs are found in many other grains and foods, and are often present in significant amounts in gluten-free products.  It is tempting to think that because a cracker or brownie is gluten free that you can eat as many as you want.  You can’t.  Those crackers and brownies are likely to be very high in carbs and calories, as well as other unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar.  When you eat these foods, you are simply trading one carb source for another.  If weight loss through carb restriction is your goal, this will slow down your progress.

Your best defense is to be informed.  Know what you are eating.  Before you eat a gluten-free product, read the label.  Check the ingredients, the carb and sugar count and the number of calories it contains. And stay on the lookout for foods that are both low in carbs and low in gluten.  And of course, practice moderation.  Too much of anything is seldom healthy.

To your success,

Brian Lehner

If you’re ready to take it to the next level let me know! To schedule your free consultation please click HERE

Reality Check: Say No to Summer Weight Gain

So you spent the winter working hard.  You exercised consistently, you were careful to eat more healthy foods and you watched your portion sizes.  Why?  So you would look great at the lake and have plenty of energy to enjoy summer.  You greeted summer with a healthy, toned body.

But summer, in spite of all the fun and relaxation it brings, can be tricky and deal us a cruel blow when it comes to our fitness.

Have you noticed the scale creeping up a little over the last couple of months?  If so, you are not alone. Summer is a very easy time to overindulge and pick up those pounds that you shed during the winter months.

Is that what you want though?  Are you willing to undo all that you worked so hard to accomplish? 

Remember that bad habits creep in slowly.  Perhaps you are skipping your workouts a couple days each week, because ‘You have so much to do.’ Or maybe you have been indulging in unhealthy food or drinks a little more frequently when you are with friends.  It happens-little by little.  It happens one small choice at a time.  But those choices add up fast.

If you realize that you have been slipping up, it’s not too late to turn around and get back on track. Really!  There is still plenty of summer left for you to regain whatever ground you might have lost and get back to awesome.

Here are a few common reasons that people gain weight in the summer and how to remedy them.

  1. Disrupted sleep cycle. Summer brings with it more daylight and longer days.  This extra sunshine can cause our circadian rhythms to change which causes us to sleep less.  But if we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies will respond by packing on a few extra pounds!  The solution?  Be diligent to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  2. Baby, it’s hot out there! When it’s hot and humid, we tend to move around less.  Our energy is lower and besides, who wants to sweat even more, right?  But the less you move, the slower your metabolism is and the fewer calories you will burn.  Be intentional about keeping up with your exercise.  Find indoor exercise alternatives like boot camp classes or maybe even take up swimming.  Just keep moving.
  3. On the road again. Summer meals travel and travel means healthy eating just got harder.  Eating on the road presents big challenges if you are trying to eat clean.  Before your summer trips, brainstorm some ways to reduce the amount of fast food that you will consume while you are away.  Consider packing a cooler with hummus, nuts, lean proteins sources like chicken, fresh fruit and raw veggies.
  4. Caution: Cookouts!  Ahhh…summer cookouts, parties, family reunions.  All this spells danger because the food at these festivities is usually about as unhealthy as you can get!  Make sure you pass on the hotdogs, potato salad, oily salad dressings and rich cakes.  Look for grilled vegetables, fresh fruit and lean cuts of meat prepared without greasy marinades.

Don’t let the summer creep undo all the hard work you’ve done to get you where you are right now.  Decide to fight back.  Make up your mind to finish well this summer.  Your future self will thank you!

Prepare for Success: Back to School Tips

Have you noticed?  The days are getting a little shorter, store aisles are full of school supplies and you may have seen a school bus or two making practice runs in your neighborhood.  All this can only mean one thing:  it’s back to school time!

If you are like most people, you are not quite ready to say goodbye to the relaxing days of summer.  Late nights and lightly-scheduled days are a welcome break after a year of early mornings and homework deadlines.  Those slow days of summer are such a welcome break!

But with the approach of the new school year comes the necessity to ease back into a routine that helps your children succeed.  Changing routines can be tough under any circumstances.  But when our routines change from ‘fun and relaxing’ to ‘less fun and somewhat stressful,’ it can be even tougher to pull off!

The best way to lessen the shock of a new school year is to ease your children into their school routine before school starts. Getting a jump start on new schedules and new responsibilities will allow them to adjust before school actually starts and the pace really picks up.

Here are some areas to focus on for back to school prep:

  1. Sleep schedule. Almost without realizing it, we tend to slip into a different sleep pattern during summer—later nights make for later wake times. This is probably due to several factors, including the fact that the days are longer and the school bus isn’t coming!   When school starts, however, your children need to be on a different sleep schedule, otherwise they will have a very hard time getting up.  Try this:  a few days before school starts, ease their bed times and wake times back 15 minutes each day.  This will help them to painlessly get used to a more school-friendly sleep schedule.
  2. Daily schedule. Your children have probably grown accustomed to low pressure schedules this summer.  However, when school starts, having a schedule is critical.  There are only so many hours each day to fit in school, homework, extra-curricular commitments, church and chores.  Make it all work by creating a schedule that your children can follow.
  3. Chores. The only way to make a busy household run smoothly is for everyone to pull their share of the load.  Assign each of your children age-appropriate chores to do.  Offer rewards for a job well done and give additional chores for non-compliance. Even preschoolers can help around the house by emptying small trash cans and picking up toys and books.
  4. Planners. Buy each of your children a planner and help them to get used to using it before school starts.  The more familiar they are with their planner, the easier it will be for them to use it when classes and other activities get underway.  Encourage them to write in their class schedule, their homework schedule, their sports and club schedules and even their chore routines.
  5. Fitness. It goes without saying that your children need to move. Literally.  Sitting for long hours in the classroom and on the bus hinders their ability to concentrate and also lowers their energy levels.  If your school does not offer a physical education program, get your child involved in some kind of exercise routine.  Not only will their grades likely improve, but they will be less stressed in general and will be more able to handle the pressures that school brings.

Back to school prep does not have to be difficult; it just takes a little planning.  Using these tips will help to instill good habits in your children that will set them up for success.

To your success,

Brian Lehner CSCS, MES, Pn2

To schedule your free consultation please click HERE or shoot me an email at lehnerfitness@gmail.com