Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)
OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night. For real!
Try not to skimp!
(Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte
1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
2 dates (optional)
Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
Blend until creamy.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?
You totally want to ditch your scale, don't you?
You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.
I mean, it doesn't define you (obviously).
What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.
Let's look at your waist circumference (well...you look at yours and I'll look at mine).
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
THAT is what we're talking about here.
Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).
Yup – that apple!
And it's not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.
This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that's where a lot of the problem actually is. It's this “un-pinchable” fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.
So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.
Am I an apple or a pear?
It's pretty simple to find out if you're in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.
Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.
For men the number is 40”.
Of course this isn't a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.
If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprout
1 lb Brussels sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.
Many believe that carbohydrates are either good or bad. Some would say that no food is truly bad or good but I disagree however, that's a topic for another blog post. Carbohydrates and other food items simply cause different things to happen in your body when you eat them. For that reason it is wise to consider whether you should eat them or avoid them, as opposed to them being bad or good.
That having been said, there are distinct differences between certain types of carbohydrates. You understand that not all fruits look and taste the same. The same is true with vegetables. There are any number of variations of pizzas. So there are definitely different types of carbs. Let's take a look at the construction of carbohydrates, because that really is what makes carbs either healthy or unhealthy for your body.
The Difference Between Simple and Complex Carbohydrates
When a food has a very simple molecular construction, it is broken down very quickly. In the case of simple carbohydrates, they enter your bloodstream almost instantly. This is not a good thing. When the carbohydrates you eat are complex, they are hard for your body to break down. Imagine a simple puzzle or brainteaser as opposed to the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Solving a simple puzzle doesn't do much, if anything, for your brainpower. Solving the New York Times crossword puzzle gives you an incredibly healthy brain boost. The same difference applies to simple and complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are sugars. They come in a two forms, simple and complex. You may hear simple carbohydrates referred to as simple sugars or simple starches as well. Simple carbohydrates, as mentioned above, enter your bloodstream rapidly. They raise your blood glucose levels quickly. Unfortunately, the sugar in these "bad" carbs is rapidly converted and stored as fat, to be used as an energy source later. Simple carbohydrates include soft drinks, candy, artificial syrups, table sugar, pastries and desserts, white rice, white pasta and white bread.
Complex carbohydrates are very difficult to break down. Their construction is intricate, so they are hard to take apart. They are usually much higher in dietary fiber than simple carbs, and any glucose in these carbohydrates is efficiently processed before it goes straight into your bloodstream. Complex carbs, "good" carbs, are found in beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
If you just do what mama told you when you were a kid (Eat your fruits and vegetables!), you will avoid most simple carbohydrates, enjoy lots of complex carbohydrates, and treat your brain and body to better health and wellness.