5 Tips to Maximize Your Rest Day




Think that getting fit is all about the time you spend in the gym? Nope, that’s not even half of it. It’s what you do outside from the gym that really makes the difference, and one of the biggest factors is how you rest and recover your body. This is because exercise causes microtears in your muscles which must be repaired for those muscles to become stronger. If your muscles are not given what they need to repair and recover, then you get muscle breakdown rather than muscle building. This is why rest and recovery is so important for reaching fitness goals.

Read below to learn how to get the most out of your rest day:

1. Less couch, more active recovery

If you think a rest day means a day spent on the couch, this is not the case! A rest day should be more about actively recovering your muscles with low impact activity, such as walking, biking, and/or yoga. These types of activities increase blood flow and circulation which help to repair your muscles faster and more efficiently. These activities will also help to relieve tightness that you may have after a hard workout.



2. Give your mind a rest

Mental stress does not just stay in your head and unfortunately, that stress can travel to your entire body which can lead to tense muscles and longer recovery time. Take the extra time on your rest day to chill out for a few minutes and take time for yourself. This could mean taking a few minutes for deep breathing and meditation, or just listening to music with your eyes closed.

3. Eat protein rich foods

It is a great misconception that protein intake should be high only on workout days. This is not true, and your protein intake should be just as high on non-workout days. This is because the amino acids in protein are needed to repair and build muscle, which is exactly what your body needs on a rest day! Aim to get about a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or at least 20 grams of protein at each meal.



4. Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors for adequate recovery. Sleep is when your body keeps stress hormones low and releases growth hormone which helps to repair and rebuild muscle. Take advantage of the extra time you have and sleep in!

5. Don’t skimp on calories

You may think because you aren’t exercising you need to cut back on your calories for the day, but really you want to make sure you eating enough to properly fuel your body for your next workout. You will likely just naturally eat less, so don’t worry about overeating on rest days and think about how that food will help you dominate your next workout

Main takeaways…

Rest days are meant to be enjoyed, to reset your mind and body, and to be able to maximize your fitness goals. Don’t worry about setting yourself back with a rest day, it will actually help you to become fitter faster!



About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab





7 Things You Didn’t Know Were Sabotaging Your Sleep




Sleep is so incredibly important for our mind and body, and is a necessity for optimal functioning and for us to feel our best. After a good sleep you feel energized, happy, less stressed, and that’s because all of your hormones were able to reset and recharge while you were sleeping. Unfortunately, the opposite is true when you get a bad sleep – you are irritable, tired, hungry, the day just seems longer and everything appears harder. This is why we want to minimize bad sleep as much as possible! 

Most of the things that can prevent you from getting a good sleep occur just a few hours before you want to sleep, which is a good thing because this means they can be completely avoidable – you just need to know what they are. 

Below lists what NOT to do right before bed:




1. Keeping lights bright

There is a biological and hormonal reason that we sleep in darkness and that the sunlight makes us feel energized – bright lights block the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that your body produces to help you sleep.

Fix it:

Dim the lights an hour before bed, also you may want to change the light bulbs in your bathroom and your bedroom (or in every room) to soft light which is less severe than bright lights.

2. Watching the news

Watching the news or watching or reading any other upsetting material before bed is setting yourself up for a bad sleep. Not only will this keep you up thinking about what you’ve just seen or read, it may also give you nightmares – no bueno!

Fix it:

Reserve the news for the morning, and leave the evening hours to watch silly shows or to read light fiction.



3. Eating a large meal

Laying down flat after a large meal is not a good idea and will be uncomfortable because your body is going to have an even harder time digesting it and this is going to make it harder to fall asleep. This is especially true if you eat a healthy dinner high in protein, fat, and fiber all of which take the longest to digest – which is a good thing, but not a good thing right before you want to go to sleep.

Note: Another reason to avoid a large meal right before bed is that this can trigger acid reflux, which is also very uncomfortable and definitely not what you want when you are trying to fall asleep.

Fix it:

Aim to finish your last meal 3 hours before you want to go to sleep, the longer time between your last bite and your head hits the pillow the better!



4. Intense exercise

I love high intensity exercise, but this is a definite no-no right before bed. High intensity exercise is great for boosting energy and focus which is what you want in the morning, not what you want right before you are trying to fall asleep.

Fix it:

Avoid intense exercise 3 hours before bed. Instead, do light activity such as a walk after dinner, stretching, or gentle yoga.



5. Reading a screen in bed

This includes the screen on your computer, cell phone, iPad, or any other device that has a screen. These types of screens emit a type of light that messes with your brainwaves and ultimately inhibits you from getting a good sleep.

Fix it:

Use “night mode” or download an app that will change the lighting or your screen. Best yet, put the electronics away at bedtime and read a real book or magazine 🙂



6. Afternoon coffee

I’ll be the first to say that I love a good cup of mid-day coffee, but drinking coffee too close to bed time can definitely make it harder to fall asleep and can also mess with the quality of your sleep. Coffee takes a few hours to get out of your system, it varies person-to-person, but allow for at least 6 hours between finishing a cup of coffee and trying to go to sleep.

Fix it:

Stick to your morning coffee and a good rule of thumb is to avoid drinking coffee (or any caffeinated beverage) after 3 pm.

7. Over-the-counter medication for migraines

Most over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are marketed for migraines and headaches have caffeine added to them. Caffeine may help your head, but is not going to help you sleep – and lack of sleep can make headaches worse.

Fix it:

Aim to take OTC migraine medication in the morning and check the labels of any OTC medications you take before bed to see if they secretly contain caffeine.



Main takeaways..

The above are the top factors that can interfere with your sleep. Check-in with your own routine and see if you are doing one or more of the above.




 

Top Healthy Ways to Gain Weight

Gaining weight is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you are someone who likes to eat healthy and loves to exercise. That being said, there are definitely ways to tweak your diet and exercise routine to gain weight in a healthy way without having to ditch your healthy lifestyle.

Read below to learn the best ways to gain weight the healthy way:

Limit high intensity exercise

Avoid any type of high intensity exercise, such as running or interval training. These types of exercises tend to burn the most amount of calories and may even blunt your appetite – not what you want when you are trying to gain weight. You don’t have to completely stop exercising (some exercise can actually help to boost appetite) but stick to low impact activities such as walking and body weight exercises.

Pair carbohydrates with fat

Carbohydrates paired with fat is basically the best combination to gain weight. Stick to natural and non-processed carbohydrates and fats, such as sweet potato with nut butter – one of my personal favorite combos!

Eat smaller, more frequent meals

Eating smaller meals is easier for your body to digest so that you can make room for another meal soon. When you eat a large meal, especially a carb and fat heavy meal, this can overload your digestive system and cause you to not want to eat for a long time.

Avoid fat-free foods

If you are trying to gain weight, go for full-fat foods which will have more calories and will help to put on the pounds.

Go for sandwiches rather than salads

Salad greens virtually have no calories and they take up space in your stomach which can make you feel fuller faster – not what you want when you are trying to gain weight. The bread in sandwiches adds a good amount of carbs and calories to your meal.

Pair a smoothie with a meal

Smoothies are great for helping you to gain weight because drinking something doesn’t trigger your brain that you are full as much as eating and chewing something does.

Some of my favorite high calorie ingredients include organic full-fat milk, fruit, nut butter, yogurt, and protein powder.

Don’t go low carb

A low carb diet is great for keeping you full – not what you want when you are trying to gain weight. Carbohydrates are very helpful for gaining weight because they won’t make you as full as eating a high fat or high protein diet. Aim to eat some carbs at every snack and meal.

Use organic milk instead of water

Using organic whole milk instead of water is an excellent way to get  in more calories, protein, fat, calcium and other nutrients.  For example, if you normally use water to make meals such as oatmeal or protein shakes, use organic whole milk instead. Can’t drink milk? No problem, use a nut milk which will at least have more calories than just plain water.

Main takeaways…

If you are someone that needs to gain weight, understand that this doesn’t mean you need to gorge on pasta or pizza. Stick to non-processed real foods, and aim to have a mix of carbohydrates and fat at every meal.

Top 5 Ways Coffee Helps You to Lose Weight

Good news coffee lovers – coffee may help you to lose weight and help you to reach your fitness goals quicker!

Read below to learn the top 5 ways coffee helps you to lose weight:

1. Boosts metabolism

Coffee contains many metabolism boosting compounds, most notably caffeine, which means that drinking coffee helps you to burn more calories.

 

2. Burns fat

Burn more fat by drinking coffee?! Yes please! Coffee contains different compounds that have been found to trigger the fat burning process in your body.

Read more about the fat burning effects of coffee here.

3. Blunts appetite

Coffee can blunt your appetite and reduce feelings of hunger. This means less empty calories ingested and more calories burned. Read more about this here.

4. Boosts your workout

Drinking a cup of coffee (or two!) before a workout may help to boost your workout performance. A better workout means more calories burned and better mood as well!

5. Stimulates a good mood

Feeling good is a sometimes overlooked (but very necessary) component of any weight loss program. Coffee has shown to increase dopamine and norepinephrine which help to boost your mood.

Main takeaways…

Coffee is a great supplement for anyone who is trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. 

Mindful Eating Tips That Actually Work




Everyone knows that what you eat has a major impact on your weight and fitness goals, but did you know that HOW you eat also plays a big part? Mindful eating is incredibly important when it comes to being satisfied with your meal.

Read below how you can become more mindful with your next meal.

1. Set aside 20 minutes for meal time

Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full? This is why setting aside a good 20 minutes for meal time is ideal. If you know you only have 5 minutes to eat, that’s probably not the best time to try and enjoy a meal.



2. Get tasks done before your next meal

If all you are thinking about is what you need to get done in the next hour while you are trying to eat a meal, this is going to make you eat faster and not enjoy what you are eating because you are so concentrated on what you have to get done. Instead, get as many tasks as you can done before meal time, and then sit down an relax and have the meal.

3. Put electronics away

Mindless eating happens when you are glued to your phone or computer and the next thing you know your meal is gone and you feel like you didn’t even eat anything. Practice mindful eating by putting distractions away and fully enjoying your meal experience.



4. Turn off the TV

This goes hand in hand with putting the electronics away. If you are distracted from your meal, you will likely eat more and feel like you barely ate.

5. Thoroughly chew your food

Food tastes better if you actually chew it, am I right? Take the time to fully chew your food. This will force you to slow down your eating.



6. Sit at the table

Sitting at the table for a meal helps to limits distractions and puts the focus on the meal itself. If you are sitting on the couch there is a good chance that television is going to turn on and mindless eating is more likely to take place.

7. Use a fork and knife to eat

Eating meals where utensils are needed helps to slow down your eating because it requires you to pay attention to your food to be able to cut and fork your food. Also, most meals or snacks that require a fork are probably going to be better for you compared to something you can just stuff into your mouth with your hands – like chips, donuts, crackers, cookies..you get the idea.

Kick it up a notch: Use chopsticks to eat your meals and this is a guaranteed way to slow you down and make you more mindful!

Main takeaways…

Use one or all of the above to help you to be more mindful of your eating, to slow you down, and to enjoy your meals even more.




6 Signs You Need A Rest Day From Your Workout




There is such a thing as too much exercise and this is called over training. Overtraining can lead to not only burnout from exercise, but also injury and pain and can end up doing much more harm than good when you push too hard for too long. If you have been hitting the gym hard daily and you can’t remember the last time you took a day off from working out, it is probably a good idea to take a rest from the gym. 

Below are the top 6 signs you need to take a rest day:




1. You have low energy

Feeling tired and low energy is a sign that you might be overtraining and need to take a day off from the gym. This is because when you do hard exercise daily this can exhaust your nervous system and lead to burn out and fatigue.



2. Your easy workout feels hard

If you are having a difficult time getting through a workout that you can normally do with no problem, this is a clear sign your body needs a break. Instead go for a walk around the neighborhood and try a yoga class.



3. You are having trouble sleeping

If you are having trouble sleeping this is a sign that your body has been overly stressed and may need rest. Exercises increases the stress hormones in your body, and when they do not have a chance to come down and level out, the stress response can last throughout the day and into the evening to disrupt sleep.



4. Soreness isn’t going away

It’s normal to feel sore after a hard workout, but if it’s been several days or even weeks that you are still sore, this is a clear sign you need to give your muscles a rest. Exercise breaks muscle down so that they can rebuild to become toned and stronger, however, if you don’t give them adequate rest they will just continue to break down.



5. Your resting heart rate is elevated

Your resting heart rate is exactly that – your heart rate at rest. Individuals who work out regularly will have lower resting heart rates because exercise works out the heart muscle, hence the word “cardio.” As the heart muscle gets stronger it is able to pump out more blood with a greater force per beat, leading to less heart beats per minute. An elevated resting heart rate from your normal rate is a sign of stress, which can be both psychological and exercise induced. If you have been working out hard several days in a row consider taking a rest day and see if your heart rate returns to normal.



6. You’re feeling stressed 

Working out hard causes a rise of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in your body. Too much exercise can cause excessive cortisol production which can start to make you feel stressed. Exercise is the best thing to relieve mental stress, however, if you over due it on the exercise this can actually induce more mental stress.



Main takeaway…

If you are experiencing one or more of the above, consider whether you need to take a rest day to recover and feel better. A rest day doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day. Make it an active rest day and still aim for 10,000 steps or try a light yoga class.




References

  1. http://www.medicaldaily.com/5-signs-overtraining-racing-heart-rate-poor-sleep-396376
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/icb200070




Surprising Foods That Make You Hungrier




If you feel like you are always hungry and constantly needing to snack, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at what you are eating on a daily basis. It could be that you are just not eating enough at breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, or it could be that it’s WHAT you are eating that is making you hungrier sooner.

Read below to learn the top foods that make you hungry:




Granola bars

Granola bars are sneaky because they are marketed as healthy, yet most of them are loaded with carbs and sugar with a small amount of fiber. This means that you will digest them very quickly, which causes your blood sugar to plummet and triggers your hunger hormones.

Fix it: Instead of granola, look for high fiber bars or cereal with less than 10 grams of sugar.

Artificial sweeteners

Research has found that artificial sweeteners may actually cause you to become hungrier, eat more, and gain weight. One of the proposed reasons for this is that artificial sweeteners spike insulin (just like sugar does) which leads to fat storage and hunger.

There is more research that needs to be done in this area, and some artificial sweeteners are likely to cause more issues than others. You can read more about this here and here.

Fix it: Look for products without artificial sweeteners.



Chips

Have you ever thought about why you are given chips and salsa at a restaurant? Perhaps to increase your appetite?! Chips are one of the worst foods for your waistline because they are loaded with carbs and salt – both of which make you hungrier and eat more – and they certainly do not fill you up.

Fix it: Ask your server to please not serve you the chips and salsa – or just take the salsa.

Alcohol

Ok, I know alcohol isn’t a food, but it’s worth mentioning because it can definitely make you feel hungrier. This is because when you drink alcohol it causes a decrease in blood sugar and it also lowers your will power when it comes to eating unhealthy foods – bad combination when you are trying to watch your waistline!

Fix it: Never drink on an empty stomach and have a little fat before you do indulge.



Cereal

Take a quick look at your cereal box, if you see more than 7 grams of sugar per serving and less than 5 grams of fiber, then there is a good chance this cereal is going to make you hungry. This is because the sugar and low fiber content means you will digest this meal very quickly, leaving you hungrier in an hour or two.

Fix it: Go for high fiber cereal and avoid any cereal that has over 10 grams of sugar per serving.

Juice

Even juices marketed as being “green” or “healthy” can be loaded with sugar and can spike and then drop your blood sugar quickly, leading to hunger not too long after.

Fix it: Instead of juice, have a smoothie which will have fiber from the pulp.

Bread

All bread products  – toast, croissant, bagel – will leave you hungrier than you started. This is because they are high in carbs and low in fiber, low in fat, and low in protein.

Fix it: If you are going to have a bread product, add some fat and/or fiber such as adding a tablespoon of nut butter.



Fat-free yogurt

Have you ever looked at the nutritional label of yogurt? The sugar content is normally around 20 grams per serving! That’s an entire days worth of sugar in just a few bites. The worst offenders tend to be the fruit flavored yogurts, but even plain or vanilla can have a ton of sugar as well. This high sugar content paired with no fat means it will be digested very quickly – leaving you hungry in an hour or two.

Fix it: Look for yogurt that has less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and add some healthy fat and/or fiber to it such as a handful of almonds or high fiber cereal.

Main takeaways…

To sum it up, if your meal or snack lacks fiber and/or fat there is a good chance that in an hour or two you will be hungrier than you started.



Top Signs and Symptoms You Need A Day Off From Exercise




Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you have consistently been hitting the gym and working out! That being said, there is such a thing as too much exercise and if you aren’t giving your body the rest it needs it will start to breakdown. 

Read below to learn the top signs and symptoms that you need a break from your workout:




You’re not sleeping well

If your body is under a ton of stress from grueling daily workouts, you can bet your sleep is going to suffer. If you’re suddenly not sleeping well, this could be a sign that you need a break from your workout.

You’re always sore

Feeling a little sore for a day or two after a tough workout is normal, but if it’s been several days or weeks and you are still feeling sore, this is a clear sign that you need to let your muscles rest and recover. Remember that muscles get stronger AFTER a workout and need adequate time to recover to become stronger.



You feel low energy

Too much physical stress on the body can make you feel lethargic. If you are feeling low energy throughout the day and you’ve been consistently hitting the gym, this could mean you need to give your body a break.

You’re not enjoying your workouts

You definitely don’t want to associate a workout with dread! If you start to dread a workout that you once enjoyed, this is a sign you need to take a break.



You’re workout makes you feel more tired

A workout is supposed to give you energy, not make you tired. If you are finding that you feel even more exhausted after your workout is over, this is an indicator that your body has not been able to recover properly from previous workouts.

You’re resting heart rate is elevated

An elevation in resting heart rate indicates your body is under stress. When your body is under stress this causes the fight or flight response which causes your body to release hormones that will speed up your heart rate to pump more oxygen to your organs and brain.

The best time to check your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning when you wake up, before jumping out of bed. Another option is  to use a fitness monitor that will tell you your lowest heart rate for the day.



You’re having a hard time getting through your normal workout

If you’re barely making it through a workout that you can normally do with no problem, this is a sign that your body needs a break to rest and recover.

You’ve stopped making progress

Whether it be that you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, if you’ve noticed that your results have leveled off despite consistently working out, this could mean you need to take a break from your workout. Remember, the magic happens when you are not in the gym – aka when you are resting.

Main takeaways…

If you’ve been experiencing one or more of the above, think back about the last time you took a break from working out. If it’s been a while or you can’t remember, then it is a very good idea to take a day or two off from heavy exercise – your body will thank you! Read here to learn how to make the most of a rest day.



About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab.

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Should You Eat Breakfast Before Or After Exercise?




I am a huge advocate for exercising first thing in the morning for many reasons, including how it sets the tone for the day, gives you energy, and makes you feel good. I am also an advocate for going into your morning workout on an empty stomach, aka in a fasted state, and saving your breakfast for after your workout is finished.

Read below to learn why I recommend eating AFTER your morning workout:

1. It could make you burn more fat

Research shows you may burn more fat if you go into your workout in a fasted state. This is because overnight your body runs out of glucose (aka carbs) for energy and so it starts burning fat for fuel while you sleep. When you wake up your body is still in this fat-burning state, meaning exercising on an empty stomach first thing could accelerate this fat-burning. If you eat carbs first thing in the morning, this breaks the fast (hence breakfast) and you are no longer in a fat-burning state and you are now in a carb burning state.

Health Hack: Coffee before a workout has been shown to possibly accelerate fat-burning. If you need something to get you going in the morning, consider having a cup of coffee with non-dairy milk and a glass of water.



2. You don’t have to wait to workout

Most individuals do not have a lot of time in the morning, am I right? If you plan to eat after your workout then you can just get up and go rather than having to prepare your breakfast, eat your breakfast, and then wait for it to digest.

3. You won’t get heartburn

The worst is when you eat right before a workout and then you have heartburn all throughout the exercise. When you go into your workout with an empty stomach you don’t have to worry about this uncomfortable situation!



4. You won’t feel as lethargic

When you eat before a workout this can cause you to feel weighed down and even tired, especially if you had a carb heavy breakfast.

5. You’ll get through your workout faster

If you have your breakfast to look forward to after your workout, this will make you want to get your workout done more efficiently and quickly, rather than just socializing or wasting time at the gym.

6. Big refuel after

Hooray your workout is done! Now you can feast on a good meal after.



7. Less time planning

Rather than wasting your precious time thinking about what you should eat when you first wake up, you can just get up and go and think about what you want for breakfast during your workout.

8. MUCH less likely to talk yourself out of working out

The longer you wait to exercise in the morning, the higher the likelihood you will convince yourself you don’t need to workout. This is especially true after eating breakfast which can make you feel more relaxed, and make your bed look very inviting.



9. You’ll enjoy your breakfast more

A hard workout makes you feel accomplished and because you literally worked for your breakfast, it makes that meal that much better – you deserved it!

Main takeaways…

It can definitely be an adjustment to waiting to eat until after your workout is finished, but the benefits are worth it! 



 

The Most Common Diet Mistakes You Are Probably Making




Changing your eating habits and trying to eat healthy is hard – finding out that your best diet efforts have been failing you is even harder! Don’t let this happen to you, read below to learn the most common diet mistakes.




You’re waiting too long to eat

If you are skipping meals or waiting longer than 5 hours to eat, there is a very good chance you will binge on the next meal. Make sure to eat three or four large meals and have a snack on hand in case you get held up and won’t be able to eat again for a while. 

You’re snacking too much

Just like waiting too long to eat is not good, snacking too much is also a recipe for overeating. Think snacking constantly revs your metabolism? Eh, the research on that is pretty limited. Rather than snacking constantly throughout the day, make three or four big meals that actually fill you up enough so that you are not constantly thinking about what you are going to eat next. The best snacks contain a combination of protein, fat, and/or fiber.

You’re not checking serving sizes

Serving sizes are key when it comes to a healthy diet because anything in excess is not good for you. Understand how much a serving size is for all foods you consume so that you are not unknowingly taking in way more than you realized.

Note that there are exceptions to this rule. You do not have to track servings of foods such as vegetables, eggs, chicken breast, or egg whites because your body burns these foods quickly and they are very hard to over consume – have you every felt bad about eating too many eggs? Didn’t think so 😉

Read more about foods most likely to be burned for energy rather than be stored as fat here.



You’re eating too much fruit

Eating cups and cups of fruit is not doing you any favors. Yes, fruit is healthy. HOWEVER, fruit it also very sweet and is high in sugar. Stick to 1/2 cup serving size and go for lower sugar fruits like berries and melon.

Personal experience: In practice I see this all the time where a patient continues to have elevated blood sugar and elevated weight even with an improved diet, and in the end it was the overconsumption of fruit that was the culprit.

Note that the good thing about eating whole fruit is that it at least has fiber to help slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream, unlike fruit juice or candy.

You’re eating dried fruit

If you think fruit has a lot of sugar, dried fruit has about 10 times as much sugar! Dried fruit is nothing more than sugar-coated candy. Do not be fooled into thinking you are eating healthy when you dig into a bag of dried fruit.



You’re doing a juice cleanse

Doing a juice cleanse might sound healthy, but it actually backfires big time for a few reasons. First of all, juices are high in sugar (unless it is all leafy greens) which raises blood sugar, makes you hungrier quicker, and is most likely to be stored as fat. Another reason is that only consuming juice for a day or longer is going to slow your metabolism and cause you to lose muscle due to lack of calories and lack of protein. So even if you do see your weight drop after a cleanse, you better believe that weight is going to shoot right back up and maybe even higher than with what you started with!

Professional experience: I’ve seen this all the time where a patient does a juice cleanse or some other crash diet, and when we check their weight it does typically go down right after. Unfortunately, when we check the fat and muscle content we see the fat go up and the muscle go down.

Swear that you feel great after a juice cleanse? This is most likely due to what you aren’t consuming during the cleanse, so take that info to re-evaluate your current diet.

You’re eating “natural sugars”

Sugar is sugar and once it is in your body your body does not care whether that sugar is table sugar or honey – it all turns to sugar when it goes into your body.

Sweet tip: If you want to sweeten a meal, use whole fruit to sweeten it rather than a sugary syrup so that at least you are getting fiber and nutrients from the flesh of the fruit.



You’re not eating enough

Not eating enough is one of the worst things you can do to yourself on a diet because it slows down your metabolism, makes you feel irritable, and it can – and likely will – make you overeat later.

So how do you know if you’ve eaten enough? Allow for 20 minutes to pass after eating a meal because it takes that long for your stomach to message your brain that you are full. Also stick to a low sugar, adequate carb diet because sugar and carbs can make you hungrier.

You’re not eating enough protein

Protein is king when it comes to diet. Protein keeps you full, speeds up metabolism, burns the most calories, and builds muscle. Aim to get a gram of protein per pound of body weight.

My favorite protein-rich foods include eggs, egg whites, chicken, grass-fed beef, whey protein, wild salmon and fish.



You always choose a salad

First let me say that I love salads and salad is usually my go-to. That being said, you have to be very picky with salads because a salad can become a diet disaster quickly from the dressing to the fried wontons, to the dried cranberries etc. The flip-side of an unhealthy salad is a salad with not enough in it, leaving you hungry and making you overeat later. So how to choose a healthy salad? Make sure it has a protein (non-fried or breaded) and healthy fat such as avocado.

You’re eating too many nuts

Nuts are great for you – in small portions. A serving of nuts is 1/4 a cup, which really isn’t much and most of us will eat triple this amount if not paying attention. This can lead to hundreds or even thousands of extra calories your body does not need without even realizing it.

Measure out a serving of nuts and use a small bowl or plate to eat from.



Eating too much after a workout

Rewarding yourself with a large meal after a workout is fine as long as the meal is made with healthy ingredients and you don’t overdue it. But when you reward yourself with something you wouldn’t have otherwise chosen like a box of donuts, this is where your efforts will backfire.

The sad truth is that you can’t out exercise a bad diet and you likely didn’t burn as many calories as you thought you did.



You’re treating all calories the same

All calories are not created equal. Your body is much more complex than just calories in and calories out. What you eat affects a wide variety of hormones in your body, and these hormones are what dictate how you burn and store those calories. 

Read more here about what foods are more likely to be burned for energy rather than be stored as fat.

You’re drinking your calories

Put down the coffee creamer, sports drink, and the juice. These seemingly healthy drinks are normally loaded with sugar and calories without you even realizing it. Stick to water and whole foods.

You’re consuming too many artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are a problem because studies have found consuming them can actually increase your appetite, can make you crave more sugar, and may even cause your body to store more fat. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners as much as you can and look for foods sweetened naturally if you are craving something sweet. Read more about artificial sweeteners and fat gain here. 

Main takeaways…

Avoid making the above most common diet mistakes and you will be on track to reaching your goals faster!




Avoid These 13 Foods and Drinks If You Want To Lose Weight




It can be confusing when it comes to trying to eat healthy and make the best diet choices – think about how how many new diet books come out in a year! That being said, there are some foods and drinks that will definitely promote weight gain and should be avoided if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Read below to learn which foods and drinks you should avoid if you are trying to lose weight:

1. Soda

Soda is probably the number one worst thing you can consume for your waistline and your health. Drinking soda is basically like pouring sugar directly into your bloodstream. Why is this a problem? An overload of sugar in the bloodstream is highly toxic to the body and signals the hormone insulin to get that sugar out of the blood as quickly as possible (this is why you go from a sugar high to a “crash” or hypoglycemia). So where does insulin funnel sugar to? The place where you have an infinite abundance of storage, i.e. your fat cells.



2. Fruit juice

Fruit juice acts the same as soda because it is high in sugar and has about zero fiber to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. The only better thing about juice is that it doesn’t contain all of the chemicals that you find in soda, and it does have some vitamins and minerals.

3.White grains

Foods that fall under this category include all of the foods we love – cookies, pancakes, waffles, white pasta, white bread, hamburger buns, pizza dough, etc. The problem with white grains (aka refined grains) is that these grains have been stripped of all their fiber and nutritional value, and what you are left with is just a bunch of carbs and calories.



4. Granola bars and protein bars

Check the ingredients and the nutrition label between granola bars, protein bars, and candy bars – they are pretty similar! What makes granola bars and protein bars worse than candy bars is that they are marketed as being healthy so you’ll eat more of them, whereas at least with candy bars you see them more as a treat.

Learn how to choose healthy protein bars by reading here. 

5. Cereal and granola

About 99.9% of cereals and granola will help you to pack on the pounds. They tend to be loaded with sugar and calories and have very low fiber or nutritional value – yes, this includes the “all natural” types as well. 



6. Pastries

Pastries are basically a mix of unhealthy fat, white grain, and sugar, all of which will increase your appetite and pack on the pounds quickly.

7. Beer

The term “beer belly” is highly accurate because it does promote a larger waistline. Beer is probably the worst alcoholic beverage you can drink because it is loaded with carbs and alcohol, and contains zero nutritional value. Plus, unlike spirits beer has less alcohol meaning it’s easier to drink more of it.

8. Dessert coffee beverages

This basically includes all coffee drinks that are made of more than just plain coffee. Once you start adding milk, sugar, cream, syrup, whipped cream, etc. the sugar and calories add up very quickly without you even realizing it.



9. Salad dressing

Just about all salad dressings can contribute to weight gain, including bottled and even freshly made. This is because just a small amount tends to be loaded with calories, unhealthy fat, and sugar.

Read here to learn about healthy and delicious alternatives to salad dressing.

10. Chips

Chips are one of the easiest foods to overeat because they don’t fill you up until you finish an entire bag! Chips have about zero nutritional value, meaning they are just empty calories you are putting into your body that will end up as fat.



11. Ice cream

Ice cream basically consists of fat and sugar, which tastes amazing but also is the combination that will rev up your appetite, make you hungrier, and pack on the pounds.

12. Artificial sugars

Think you are being healthy by cutting back on real sugar and eating the fake stuff? Err, probably not. There have been many studies that have found that consuming artificial sugars may promote weight gain by throwing off your natural gut flora and making you crave sugary foods and increasing your appetite. Read more about this here.



13. Fried foods

This includes french fries, onion rings, crispy calamari, fried chicken, etc. Once you fry something, you add a ton of unhealthy fat and calories to an otherwise healthy food.

Main takeaways…

Avoid the above foods and drinks as much as possible and this will help to prevent you from gaining the unwanted extra pounds.




Simple Tricks to Boost Your Mood




It happens to everyone every once and a while – you wake up just feeling off or not yourself. This doesn’t mean the rest of your day has to be doomed because you woke up on a bad note and there are certainly simple things you can do to boost your mood quickly.

Below lists simple tricks to boost your mood:

Get some sun

Not getting enough sunlight on a day-to-day basis is a huge risk factor for depression. Sun is also what helps to keep us alert and awake which is why a mid-day stroll outside can be beneficial for preventing an afternoon slump.

SAD?

Have you heard of SAD or seasonal affective disorder? It literally means depression due to lack of sunlight. I saw SAD all of the time when I was practicing in New York City, most notably during the long winter months. 



Meditate

Meditating or just deep breathing helps to focus your brain on the present, and prevents your mind from wandering into the future or the past. Being fully present and being aware of the here and now is a great way to calm stress hormones and make you feel more relaxed.

Get some exercise

Exercise boosts feel good hormones and decreases stress hormones, making you feel happier almost instantly. You don’t even have to exercise that long to get the effects, just 10 minutes is beneficial.

Exercising by yourself is great, but studies have found that exercising with friends or a group may lead to an even greater mood boost. This is a good reason to try a new fitness class at your gym.



Write down things you are grateful for

Sometimes when you are feeling down it is easy to think about all the negatives that are going on in your life, no matter how small they are. So be proactive and instead write down or think about all of the good things you have going on in your life.



Call a friend or family member

The positive human interaction is a guaranteed way to boost your mood. So give your best friend or your mom a call and chat for a few minutes. Actually speaking to someone is much more beneficial then chatting via text.



Listen to music

First of all, what is mood boosting music? Mood boosting music is any music that makes you want to sing along to or move your body. Listening to your favorite tunes can put you in a good mood instantly.

Eat healthy

Be sure to eat healthy and consistently throughout the day when you aren’t feeling your best. Make your favorite healthy meal or even order healthy take-out. Eating healthy foods makes you feel like you are doing something good for yourself, and keeps your energy levels constant.

Main take aways…

Use one or more of the tips above to boost your mood quickly!