4 Tips For More Restful Sleep

If you feel that a full night of rest isn’t really important, think again.  Without restful sleep and enough of it, your entire health suffers.  Sleep is important for youthful skin, mental clarity, a strong immune system and for maintaining a healthy weight.  Not to mention you’ll make healthier food and lifestyle choices then if you’re tired and lacking motivation.  Even if you eat well and exercise enough, but just aren’t seeing the results you desire, it could be your sleep to blame.

 

Minimize Media Time

It seems most people are on their phones all day.  I am like most people, except that once I realized that the light emitted from my phone (along will all my other devices) impacts sleep quality, I replaced checking my phone or computer before bed with better habits. What happens is that our electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs all produce artificial light. When exposed to this light in the evenings, our bodies circadian rhythm is thrown off.  During the day, these blue lights are actually meant to keep us alert, but at night they are harmful to our health.  These artificial lights will disrupt the secretion of melatonin, the sleepy-time hormone that influences our circadian rhythm.  A lack of melatonin and working the night shift has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (source: Harvard Health Publications).

So, what to do?  Minimize exposure to blue light at least an hour before bed.  You can also install dim red lights which have the least impact on melatonin and circadian rhythm. You can also purchase a pair of ultra-sexy, blue-blocking glasses.  They actually aren’t cute at all, but if you’re someone who has to be on your computer or up working late, I’d definitely consider buying a pair.

1. Create Calming Nighttime Habits

So now that you won’t be using your electronics before bed, you’ll need a replacement nighttime routine.  Instead of browsing Facebook in the evenings for probably the 100th time that day, I have some tips of other things to do.  Remember those things called books?  Try reading one.  Had a stressful day and have a ton of things on your mind? Journal or try coloring in a coloring book.  Feeling achy?  Take a warm shower or bath.  Have a significant other?  Talk to them.  Or try some of these other recommendations below.

2. Use Essential Oils

I have an essential oil for nearly every situation or ailment, but nighttime is when I use my oils the most.  Lavander, chamomille, ylang ylang, cedarwood, bergamot, and sandalwood are some of my personal favorites for calming my body.  There are a few ways to use essential oils, although my preferred methods are to diffuse them into the air using a diffuser, or use them topically on the soles of my feet, on my wrists, or behind my ears (the oils can be used topically on other parts of the body too).  Sometimes I will sprinkle a couple drops of oil on the bottom of my steamy shower so that the scent can rise all around me. Other times I will put a couple drops on a tissue, then rub it over my pillow. Just make sure you get quality oils, like the ones from doTerra, which are certified therapeutic grade.

3. Use Magnesium

Even if you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet, the body can actually only absorb about 50% of it.  Magnesium is beneficial for sleep in that it moves calcium for your bones to your bloodstream, thus acting as a natural muscle relaxant.  If you are someone who really struggles with sleep, I absolutely recommend taking magnesium supplements, bathing in a magnesium bath, or using magnesium oil.  To see what else magnesium can help with, check out its 101 uses.

4. Meditate

There are different ways to go about meditating, so figure out what works best for you.  To calm my mind and body before bed, I like to drape my lavender-filled eye mask over my eyes while I focus on breathing.  I start with even breathing by inhaling through my nose for about four seconds, then exhaling through my mouth for four seconds.  After breathing like this for a few breaths, I then switch it up to the 4-7-8 method so that I’m breathing in through my nose for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds, then exhaling through my mouth for eight seconds.  Try this at least three times in a row.  If I don’t do this, I also like to use the meditation app called Headspace.  It takes ten minutes of your time a day and is particularly great for those new to meditating.

 

Try out all these tips for quality sleep.  If you are still having trouble sleeping or are continuing to wake up feeling exhausted, then let’s talk.  Schedule a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me and we will get to the root of your health concerns!

My Daily Green Smoothie Recipe

I’ve been a longtime fan of morning smoothies, but I’ve recently discovered a new smoothie that has instantly become my morning addiction. I drink it every day and enjoy the process of making it in the morning before my workouts. This green smoothie works wonders for the body and mind and is packed with nutrition. It has protein, fiber, important vitamins and everything you need to look and feel your best. After just a week of drinking it, I noticed improvements in my skin and energy levels. My digestion improved too, and I started having less unhealthy food cravings. 

Remember, everything in the body is connected. Your gut, colon, and brain all effect each other, so if you feed yourself nutritious foods your gut will be healthy, which also means a healthy colon and brain (aka, better digestion and prevention from illness). Please feed yourself good foods, like this smoothie, and your whole body will thank you!

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I like to switch it up slightly, but I typically add the following foods to my daily green smoothie: purified water, banana, green apple, green pear, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, chia seeds, hemp seeds and bee pollen.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale and romaine, are a good source of protein, as are chia seeds, hemp seeds, and bee pollen. You could absolutely add in different greens or fruits, or even add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. To make things easier with this smoothie, you can also make some extra and store it in a glass container in the freezer for later use. Otherwise, this smoothie will last covered in the fridge for two days.

The other thing I like about adding greens to my smoothie is that you get the most from your greens this way. Normally, aside from not eating enough vegetables during the week, most people don’t chew their food enough, which means they don’t absorb maximum nutrients. The nutrients in the vegetables are stored in the cell walls of the plant cell, so the blender will do a more efficient job of breaking these down. A Vitamix or powerful blender will really be best for making this smoothie smooth and creamy like it should be.

I encourage you to drink this smoothie and make it part of your morning routine!

Ingredients (makes 1-2 glasses)

– 1 1/2 cup cold, purified water

-1 banana

-1/2 green apple

-1/2 green pear

-1-2 celery stalks

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful romaine

-1 handful kale

-a squeeze of lemon

*optional: handful chia seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, or any other favorite superfood, herb, or protein powder

*For a smoothie with less sugar, remove the banana and pear, and just use the green apple.

Instructions

1- Pour water into the blender, followed by the spinach, romaine and kale. Blend until smooth.

2- Add the celery, pear and apple. Blend.

3- Add the banana and lemon. You can also throw in any optional seeds or foods, then do a final blend. Enjoy!

 

 

How to Win the Never-Ending Battle Against Late Night Snacking

Fighting off late night munchies can be a true battle. No matter how big of a dinner you eat, sometimes it’s too difficult to say “no” to snacking before bed.  If you are trying to sleep better or lose weight, avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise the food you eat will store as fat, rather than being processed or burned off (source: Dr. Hyman). If you struggle with late night eating, try these tips to curb bedtime snacking.

1- Eat breakfast. Having breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, but not just any breakfast. Having a high protein breakfast will keep you satiated longer and energize you throughout the day. If you eat late, you might not be hungry enough in the morning to get the right breakfast you need to power through your day, so it’s important to break this cycle.

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2% Greek yogurt with fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and bee pollen = lots of protein!

Some of my go-to, protein-packed breakfasts might include chia seed pudding, eggs (with the yolk!), a smoothie with proteins such as almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greek yogurt, or protein powder. I also like to add green vegetables to my breakfasts whenever possible. A meal like any of these really gives you the brain power you need, but also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the morning. When my blood sugar levels take a dip, this is when I find myself so starved I’ll reach for anything in sight, no matter how bad it is for me. Eating some protein and healthy fats with every meal really makes a difference in your overall energy and health, versus eating no breakfast or something lacking in nutrition, like cereal or a bagel.

2- Drink water. When we are dehydrated, sometimes our minds will interpret that as hunger. Try drinking water when you feel a late night craving come on before you head to the kitchen for some snacks. I like to infuse my water with cucumber, lemon, fresh herbs, or berries. I find that I can drink much more water when I’ve infused it, especially with my favorite, cucumber.

3-Eat mindfully. Eating too quickly doesn’t give the body enough time to realize it’s full. Practice chewing your food and remember to breathe while eating. The more you chew your food, the more the food is broken down, which means it digests more easily in the stomach. This is a pro tip for weight loss!

4- Turn off the tv and go to bed! It’s really easy to eat mindlessly when eating while watching tv. On occasion, if it’s getting late and I find myself getting hungry again after dinner, I will actually just send myself to bed. If I continue to stay up, then of course I’m going to get a snack to fuel me. Try having that glass of water instead or some warm almond milk or tea, then hit the hay.

5- Identify areas of your life that may be out of balance. Snacking is often triggered by emotions. Think, for example, about the image of a girl (or guy) shoveling ice cream in her mouth after a bad breakup as an example. Whatever the trigger may be, even if it’s just craving dessert after dinner out of habit, try to identify what could be causing you to have unhealthy cravings. This may not even apply to food; it could be some sort of substance abuse too. Think about the quality of all your relationships, career, spiritual practice, finances, home environment, or exercise routine. How satisfied are you in each of these areas of your life? If any aspect of your life is missing or unsatisfactory, it’s possible that this could be causing you stress, which can then lead to late night binge eating or unhealthy habits. Once you’ve identified what’s stressing you out, take measures to make improvements and reduce any stress.

Here is an exercise for you to try to find balance that I use with my clients throughout their program. This is called the Circle of Life (source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition). On the circle there are a number of important categories listed, each one representing a major aspect of life that contributes to overall mental and physical health. Being satisfied in each of these categories is extremely important for living a well-balanced life.

Here’s what to do. Place a dot in each category of the circle. The closer your dot is to the outside of the circle, the more content you are with that area of your life. And the closer your dot is to the inside of the circle represents less satisfaction with that category. When you are done connect all the dots and see what areas of your life need nourishment. If your dots create a perfect circle when connected, then you should be living pretty much stress-free.

circle of life color

6- Identify your food sensitivities. We are typically allergic or sensitive to the foods we crave the most. For many people this is gluten or dairy. Experiment with an elimination diet, or just try removing these two food groups and/or sugar for a few weeks and see if you feel any improvements. After a few weeks of eliminating certain food groups, gradually add back one food group at a time for a few days to see if any symptoms (maybe even some you weren’t aware of before) return. Other foods that tend to cause sensitivities or allergies are corn, soy, alcohol, sugar, red meat, processed foods, or nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, etc).

If you have experimented with these tips and are still finding yourself reaching for the cookies before bed, then replace those temptations with healthier options. I can recommend peanut butter with green apple, chocolate chia seed pudding, roasted salty chickpeas, or black bean brownies.

Please leave other suggestions in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in talking about how a health coach can help you eat better and improve your overall health, sign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me!

Five Tips for Winter Weight Loss

By now you are two weeks deep into your New Years Resolution. At this point you are either killin’ it with your goals, forgotten all about them, or are somewhere in between. Of course, if your goal has to do with weight loss, January is not the most ideal time to start this mission. Not only are humans programmed to eat differently in the winter and to store fat for survival, our Vitamin D and Serotonin levels drop, which are both partially responsible for regulating appetite control (source: The Week). While storing fat for survival isn’t really necessary for the modern person, it’s still coded in us, and can make weight loss at this time more difficult. Not to mention while our ancestors were out fighting the brutal cold, we are inside sitting at our computer moving less. If your resolution (or whatever you’re calling it) has to do with weight loss, then try some of these tips:

Add in more vegetables, whole grains, and protein to naturally crowd out unhealthier056dc8b9-0d45-4361-9623-ac8de532a497 foods. The more you can fill up on healthy, whole foods, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for junk. Everyone is different, so while you may thrive on a high-carb diet, others might do best on a high-protein diet. Experiment for yourself and find what works best for YOUR body. Whatever you find, stick to warm, grounding foods in the winter and try as much as possible to eliminate processed foods, soda, and sugar from your diet to see weight loss results.

Eat more sweet vegetables. If you’re at all like me and get crazy sugar cravings, then try incorporating some sweet vegetables into your diet like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, or beets. I’ve found this helps satisfy the craving, and if it doesn’t, then sneak in a little bit of quality dark chocolate earlier in the day. Because our will power is strongest in the morning, I like to add some cacao nibs to my breakfast smoothie to get that craving out of my system.

infused waterDrink more water. Sometimes when you feel food cravings come on even though you just ate a meal and shouldn’t really be hungry, this can be a sign of dehydration. Try having a tall glass of water before reaching for the snacks, and if you want extra weight loss points, then fancy up you water by infusing it with a lemon slice or some cucumber slices. Lemon water has great benefits for weight loss by helping with digestion and detoxifying the body, but the benefits are greatest when the water is served warm.

Eat more mindfully. How many meals have you consumed in your life without even having a chance to really enjoy or process the meal?  Maybe it’s because you didn’t eat all day and by the time you eat you’re starving, or maybe it’s because your busy schedule doesn’t allow you time to sit down and even smell your coffee, but eating more mindfully means sitting down, chewing your food, breathing as you eat, and really appreciating the meal. It’s not unusual in our fast-paced society to just scarf down a meal (sometimes even on the go!), so just make a bigger effort to give yourself enough time to eat. The slower you eat the greater chance your brain has to catch up and realize when it’s full. This is often the cause for overeating when you eat so fast that your mind doesn’t catch the moment it should be signaling you to stop eating. If you want a book full of tips on how to eat more mindfully, check out this book by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Switch up your workout. I’ve found that switching up my work out has incredible results for weight loss. Changing things up gives your body a challenge and helps you work the various muscles, versus doing the same routine and plateauing with your weight loss. Although I’ve learned by now that abs are truly made in the kitchen, exercise is still important for weight loss, plus mental and physical strength.Sweat Ladies, I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIFT WEIGHTS! Weight lifting gets you toned and builds strength without bulking up, not to mention it’s important for bone health. Mix this into your workout at least a couple times a week if possible, and try out some other fun exercises like walking, dancing, barre classes, pilates, swimming, etc. If you don’t really know where to begin with your exercise regime, I like to tell my clients to think back to what activities they loved doing as kids. Quite often the same activities we loved as kids still are fun for us now, especially if you can find a workout buddy to do them with. I’d also like to note that you should listen to your body. If you’re feeling burnt out, or if you just did an intense workout the day before, do not be afraid to do a restorative yoga class or go for an easy walk, something that still gets you moving without overdoing it.

 

If you found this post inspiring, or if you have tips of your own, please share in the comment section! Just remember to keep a positive attitude with your weight loss goals, because weight loss doesn’t just happen over night.
Learn to fall in love with the process and the results will come!

5 Tips to Reduce Stress Instantly

75%-90% of all doctor visits are stress related.  When stress goes untreated it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Poor nutrition, environment, career, unhealthy relationships, and lifestyle can all impact your body by releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While it’s normal to release cortisol, it’s important for your body to return to its normal cortisol levels following a stressful event.  In our high-stress culture though, your body doesn’t always have the chance to return to its normal cortisol levels, so your body is constantly in fight or flight mode which makes you more prone to several negative effects.

Here are five tips to help you reduce your stress instantly:

1. Make lists

You’re busy and have tons to juggle.  Writing things down, creating lists, and prioritizing tasks is one of the quickest fixes for reducing daily stress.  I recommend keeping a list of everything you need to get done for the day, then reorganizing these tasks in order of importance.  I also suggest completing the least exciting or hardest task before 11:00am.  Our willpower and focus is only good for so long, so put your energy towards finishing the most stressful work for the day earlier on.  That way by 11am you can take a big sigh of relief, because the rest of the day just got easier.

2. Move your body 

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Our bodies crave movement.  Find something you have fun doing and make it part of your daily routine. Exercise is a way of releasing built up tension, so instead of reaching for the sugar and booze, get your body moving if you’re stressed.  It doesn’t have to be an intense workout.  Get off the subway a little early and walk the rest of the way to work, or take a work break to stand up and stretch at your desk.  You’ll feel much better!  Find a type of exercise that works for your body’s needs.  What did you like to do as a kid?  What makes you feel good?

3. Breathe 

Do you ever experience moments where you realize that you haven’t been breathing?  I mean, really breathing, like from the belly.  Start breathing consciously.  Slow your breath down and allow your body to relax for a moment.  Can you see your belly moving in and out or are you just breathing through your nose?  Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through the belly.

4. Self-massage

Loving touch is so important to our mental health.  We crave affection and not all of us get it on a regular basis.  Give yourself some love.  Try massaging yourself.  Do you have tension in your shoulders?  Your temples?  Your neck? Breathe consciously and use your hands to make yourself feel good!

5. Lavender essential oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing. Lavender oil has many therapeutic effects, and it’s a personal Lavender_lgfavorite for relaxing the mind and body and reducing stress. Poor sleep is often a result of stress, so lavender oil is especially useful at night before bed.  I like to put a couple drops on my hands to rub over my pillows. I’ll also put a couple drops on the back of my neck to relieve tension, and there are tons of other uses and methods for applying lavender oil.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to my newsletters or contact me for a complimentary health consultation.

Why Routines Are the Ticket to Success

Humans are creatures of habit.  Most of us have a daily routine of some sort, whether we are conscious of it or not. Life can definitely be hard and full of stress.  The more out of control we feel, the more a routine will benefit us. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so keeping a routine helps greatly with time management, efficiency, energy, and motivation. Through personal experience and through my health coaching practice, I have realized that maintaining a routine is repeatedly one of the best ways for achieving success and happiness.

Everyone has their own morning ritual, but the day should begin with some type of routine.  My morning routine begins with my puppy’s cold nose on my arm every morning around 6:45am.  I get up, let him out and Wake-up-to-a-new-day1feed him, drink a warm glass of lemon water and have a small bite to eat while I journal for a little, brush my teeth, get dressed for the gym, work out, and then eat my post-workout meal.  This doesn’t need to be everyone’s routine, but for me, I anticipate my morning going as mentioned.  When these things don’t happen, my entire day is thrown off. Work gets put off, my energy is low, I get crabby often because I’m stressed from my routine being altered, I procrastinate more, forget to do certain things, crave foods I shouldn’t be eating, and just feel out of balance.

Think about the times you’ve traveled or had a reason to change your normal schedule.  Did you notice any differences in your day?  Perhaps differences in your eating, sleeping, emotions, motivation, or stress levels?

Sleep- Going to bed and waking up at the same time is crucial for healthy sleep patterns and deep sleep. Sticking to a schedule also gives our minds a sense of a starting and stopping point with work during the day.  For example, if you work a 9-5 job, our minds know that those hours are working hours.  But if you work a job with inconsistent hours, you’ve probably experienced your mind and body getting out of whack, and that it becomes more challenging to get in the mindset of work mode.

Meals- Try to eat at the same times daily.  This keeps our blood sugar levels steady throughout the day and gives us a sense of consistency.  Even eating the same foods (or similar foods) every day gives us one less thing to think about.

Morning Routine- In my opinion, having a morning routine is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Wake up at the same time, brush your teeth and wash your face, have a glass of water, and get dressed, even if you work from home.  This pattern helps get our mind prepare for the day and for work.  I also find I stay more organized and have more energy during the day if I stick to my morning routine.

Exercise- Even if it’s just stretching or getting off the subway a few blocks early so you can walk the rest of the way to work, a morning routine will help your success.  Exercise is a great way to escape stress and 31d21c8c1ae2bdde84b3483a75531396it gives us a sense of accomplishment.  This initial success in our day prepares us to take on the rest of the day and the obstacles it may throw at us.

Friends and Family- Spending time with the people that make us happy is important for maintaining balance in our lives.  Even with a busy schedule, find a little time during the week to catch up with the people that matter most.

Personal Time- “Me time” is so important!  Our lives are so busy that we often forget to make time for ourselves.  This alone time is time to decompress, reflect, relax, and to do the things that make us happy. Don’t use this time to respond to emails or phone calls… that does not count as personal time.

Interested in health coaching?  Check out my website jkhealthcoach.com for more information or contact me at jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

Sources: Motivate Thyself, Man Cave Zen

Punch Up Your Workout!

Kickboxing can be an insane workout and it’s one of my favorites. Something about punching and kicking the air feels so empowering and always leaves me sore.

I found this kickboxing abs video by fitness expert Jessica Smith. This 10 minute video will get your heart rate up while targeting your abs.