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5 Healthy Ways to Beat Back to School Stress

Stress and how you perceive it can have a tremendous impact on your ability to power through long to-do lists, get enough sleep and make it to Bar Method class. The good news? There are actually a handful of things you can do to keep your energy levels high while carving out time to take care of yourself — even with a jam-packed schedule.

Healthy breakfast

To better understand what exactly helps ease stress and how to manage it, we talked with Angela Mader, a NASM CPT who’s certified in Fitness Nutrition and the founder behind fitlosophy. A champion for living a well-balanced life, Angela gave us a handful of great ideas that should help you stay calm and collected as you (or your kids!) head back to school.

1. Write it out. It may seem counterproductive to find time to journal when your stress comes from the fact that you feel like you don’t have a minute to spare, but Angela swears that writing out your thoughts can make a tremendous difference in how you go through each day. “Try taking 15 minutes to jot down a few sentiments of gratitude and you’ll likely find that you can relax, sleep better, and if time allows, even longer,” she says.

2. Take care of yourself first. Make sure you find the time to do the things that make you feel good and remember that you’re best equipped to care for others when you actually have the energy to do so. Whether that means carving out 15 minutes of alone time each day or making it to 3-4 Bar Method classes each week, do your best to avoid compromising your feel-good, healthy activity.

3. Power down. Angela tells us, “Break away from your devices at least 30 minutes before bed. The light of your phone or tablet stimulates brain activity and can really interfere with sleep. Turn off the TV, step away from the phone and pick up a relaxing read instead.” Studies show that just six minutes of reading each day can cut stress by 60%.

4. Nourish your body. Eating well will help you keep your energy levels stable while helping you manage all of the back to school chaos. If you have a green thumb and feel up to a few fun hours, Angela suggests, “Plant a garden to nourish your body with the fruits of your labor. Whether you grow herbs, produce, or flowers, this relaxing pastime can be a major stress reliever.”

5. Take a break when you feel like you really need one. Feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or like you just can’t make it happen? Angela reminds us, “Not every workout has to be killer. Sometimes, a relaxing, stress-reducing walk might be just what your body needs. Listen to your body.”

How do you de-stress? Tell us what works for you in the comments.

Relax With Hot Tea

If you’re looking for ways to relax, whether as a break from your busy schedule or to unwind from a long day, turn to a hot cup of tea. Often it’s forgotten that tea is made from leaves and herbs that can have strong therapeutic effects. Here’s two of our favorites to consider:

1. Chamomile Tea. Research shows that chamomile has calming effects and promotes sleep. Had a stressful day? Treat yourself to a warm mug of chamomile tea in the late afternoon or evening INSTEAD of a glass of wine. Steep a bag of chamomile tea made from the whole flower for 5-10 minutes to allow all of the nutrients to release into the water. 

2. Green Tea. Green tea is rich in the amino acid L-Theanine. Our body uses this amino to increase levels of dopamine and GABA (Gama-aminobutyric Acid), which has a relaxing and calming effect on the brain. Research reported by Life Extension media also noted that GABA can help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Have approximately 2 cups of organic, whole leaf green tea daily to feel its effects.

So the next time you feel stress and anxiety building, simply close your eyes, sip and go to your happy place. 

 
 
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Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Happy YOU Year! Week 6

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Are you stressed?  Who ISN’T, right? There are two kinds of stress.  One is typical, daily stuff that keeps us on our toes or makes us worry a little bit.  This type of stress is just a part of life and our bodies and minds are meant to handle it.  An example of this would be a final exam or an upcoming public speaking event. The second type of stress is the keep-you-up-at-night kind of stress that doesn’t stop.  These are often on-going and unrelenting!

Sometimes these are life events, but ones that involve a deeper level of emotion and a big portion of our time and energy.  Examples of this type of stress include prolonged illness, care for an elderly family member, divorce, hideous boss, etc.  This second kind of stress is also a part of life, but its unrelenting nature is catabolic (it breaks down the body).  This level of stress is the #1 cause of illness in many people and thought to be the cause of 90% of all common ailments and degenerative diseases.

If you have ongoing stress, it is important to use relaxation techniques like breathing, meditation or guided imagery to help you cope and relieve it.  Relaxation is different than exercise.  While exercise delivers a stress-busting component, it is not relaxation. A bath. A nap. Reading a book … that is relaxation!  Your pulse is low, your mind is clear and you feel good.

 

Tips and Tricks to Promote Relaxation

Tension and stress often build up inside of our bodies before we begin to feel its outward effects.  Listen to your body and recognize when you are beginning to feel stressed so that you can take action before you are overwhelmed.  Here are a few tips for keeping stress in check:

Practice meditation or breathing exercises.  There are some great apps out there that can help you integrate meditation, even just for 5 minutes a day, into our daily life.  Stop, Breathe & Think is a favorite!  Take a yoga or tai chi class.  Get out in nature, breathe fresh air and feel the sun on your skin.  Block off time on your calendar for breaks during the day (YES, this is ok!).  Use the time to: eat lunch, go for a walk, take a nap, listen to guided meditation, read a book, stretch, pull weeds in the yard, get a massage, pedicure or some other form of pampering.  Ask for help with daunting tasks when you need it, such as childcare or prioritizing work.  Find a hobby that you enjoy and make time for it at least weekly!

Taking this critical time for yourself will help you reduce your stress levels and feel more balanced and joyful in your life!

 

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Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Recipe: The Best Green Smoothie

Hard-working muscles need vitamins and minerals for nourishment. Instead of giving in to your usual afternoon caffeine jolt or carb craving, try an energizing green smoothie. It’s great after a workout.  This fantastic smoothie from I Love Vegan has a peanut butter and banana base – it’s light, creamy and super mild!

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The Best Green Smoothie 

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 5 mins

 

Ingredients:

·       1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk

·       1-2 handfuls of spinach

·       2 frozen bananas

·       2-4 soft pitted dates

·       2 tbsp hemp hearts

·       1 tbsp natural peanut butter

 

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients, blend on high until perfectly smooth and frothy.

 

Superfood Smoothie Topping Ingredients (optional):

·       2 tbsp hemp seeds

·       2 tbsp chia seeds

·       2 tbsp raw buckwheat groats

·       2 tbsp slivered almonds (or pumpkin seeds)

 

Instructions:

Sprinkle on top of your smoothie.

 

Recipe recommended by:

 

 

 

 

Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Happy YOU Year! Week 5

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Exercise builds muscle, burns fat, lifts your mood and helps you sleep.  You can’t argue with that one!  And it’s no secret that the key to achieving your fitness goals is consistency.

Here are some of our favorite reasons to get movin’:

• It trims and sculpts your body so your clothes fit better.  Weight-bearing exercise helps your build lean muscle, and that muscle shrinks fat cells.  The more lean muscle you build, the more fat your body will be able to burn off.  Since muscle weighs more than fat, you may very well lose inches before you lose weight. 

• It boosts your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.  When you heart and lungs work in a more efficient way, you have more energy for daily life. Who doesn’t need more energy these days?

• Exercise burns calories.  In order to lose weight, the best long-term approach is to eat a reasonable diet and use exercise to work yourself into a deficit in order to shed extra lbs.  The calorie burning effect of exercise (especially if you do muscle-bearing work) lasts for hours after your workout is over.

• Exercise makes you happy.  Brisk movement induces the production of mood-boosting chemicals in your body.  The more intense the work, the more of a lift you may notice.  But, something as simple as a quick 30-minute walk can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.

• Moderate exercise boosts your immune system.  Every sweat session you log helps to boost your immune system by more rapidly circulating cells that can kill both viruses and bacteria through your body.  The effect can last up to 24-hours post workout.

The Bar Method provides a foundation of strength, flexibility and good form, and it’s a great complement to many other exercise disciplines. Increase your level of fitness by adding other movement to your day. Walk to and from an easy errand. Garden. Go for a jog. Do yoga. Take the stairs. Park in the furthest parking spot. You get the idea – variety is the spice of life.  Keep your body moving, and the endorphins flowing!

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Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Recipe: Homemade Electrolyte Drink

Many sports drinks contain important electrolytes, which is essential for proper hydration when you’re working out hard. But, they’re chock full of non-food sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors, flavorings and more.

We love when you can make a better version of something at home! Here’s a few recipes where you can make your own electrolyte drinks from Everyday Roots. They’re less expensive than Gatorade, with no artificial colors!

electrolytedrinkingredients

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Lay-Low Recipe

• 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 ½ to 2 cups fresh water, depending on how strong you want the flavor
• 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
• 2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste

 

Directions

Toss everything into a food blender and blend until the honey is dissolved, or just use some elbow grease and blend it by hand. Pour yourself a tall glass, drop in a few ice cubes, and enjoy.

 

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Bright ‘n Early Recipe

• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 1 ½ to 2 cups of fresh water
• 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
• 2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste

 

Directions

Same as above. You can halve or double the recipe as you need, and feel free to experiment with flavors. Keep in mind citrus fruits, especially orange, are a good source of electrolytes.

 

Recipes recommended by:

 

 

 

 

Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Happy YOU Year! Week 4

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Did you know that on any given day, by simply living and breathing, your body loses about 2.5 liters of water?  That’s just shy of 34 ounces. And that number gets higher as you factor in exercise. Many nutrition professionals recommend that a person drink half of their total body weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs., you should aim to drink approximately 70 ounces per day. And even more after a workout.

It’s true that water in drinks and food account for a small amount of your daily fluid needs, but it’s best not to count caffeinated beverages and soft drinks as these usually cause you to lose fluid. Your body recognizes the molecule H2O as special and it is used throughout the body to keep it performing at its best.

When do you need more than water? Sports drinks, coconut water and the like are necessary for additional hydration during longer, more strenuous activities. A general rule of thumb is:

Use plain water for hard endurance sessions that last 60 minutes or less – or 90 minutes for a light run/ride. You can add a squirt of lemon juice or a sprig of mint to make it extra refreshing! However, opt for an electrolyte drink for a run or cycle that lasts 120 minutes or more. 

That means that after a Bar Method or cardio-focused Bar Move class, hydrating with plain water should do the trick. If your body needs more, look to healthy foods to replenish.

Some of the symptoms and consequences or poor hydration include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, stomach pains, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting and more. Sometimes it’s just as subtle as a little foggy thinking, but dehydration can affect your performance at work, school and keep you from feeling your best.

Feeling tired or sluggish? Working out more in the New Year? Drink up!

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Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Recipe: Ginger Bok Choy Soup with Noodles

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This week’s recipe is a warming ginger bok choy soup from Naturally Ella that feels like you are eating an authentic veggie ramen from a noodle house. The big benefit is that YOU make it, so you control the ingredients. The ginger-garlic broth is just the thing if you’ve got the sniffles or just need something warm for the cold nights we’ve been having. It comes together quickly and tastes great. And, we love that it uses bok choy, which is in season now. Enjoy!

Ginger Bok Choy Soup with Noodles

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 large bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ bunch scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 head bok choy
  • 4 ounces ramen noodles
  • Salt, if desired
  • Sesame Seeds, for topping
  • Red Pepper Flakes, for topping

Instructions:

  1. In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Trim the ends off the scallions and chop through the light green stem. Save the dark green tops for topping. Add the scallions to the pot with the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes until the garlic and ginger is fragrant.
  2. Measure in the vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. While broth is simmering, cut the end off the head of bok choy. Cut off the stems and then cut the stems into thin strips. Roll the leaves together and also cut into strips.
  4. Add the stems to the broth and cook for 5 minutes or until stems are starting to be tender. Follow with the leaves and cook for another 5 minutes more. Finally, stir in the ramen and simmer the soup until the noodles and bok choy are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.
  5. Divide soup into two bowls and top with chopped scallion greens, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.

 

Recipe recommended by:

 

 

 

 

Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Happy YOU Year! Week 3

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As we head into Week 3 of the New Year, it’s helpful to think not just about changes to your workout and eating habits, but also to other areas of your life that will make an impact. Here are some things to consider on as you work towards a healthier YOU:

Log some Z’s. If you have small children or a major Bravo Real Housewives addiction, this may seem unattainable. But a recent study showed that people who got enough sleep on a regular basis, like 7-9 hours per night, lost more weight and made better food choices than their night-owl counterparts.

Get a handle on stress. On-going, long-term stress promotes your body’s production of cortisol. Excess cortisol raises blood sugar levels and, if not burned off via exercise, can result in extra weight. Staying up past your bedtime on a regular basis is considered a “stress event” for your body. So, if you can, record Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on your DVR and go to bed by 10:00pm!

Do things that make you happy, with people you like! Take up a new hobby, whether it’s tennis, photography, painting or playing the piano, and make time for it in your busy schedule. It will keep you smiling and feeling accomplished. And schedule time with the friends and family that support you and bring out your best. There’s nothing better for you than a good old belly laugh, and even a hard cry with someone that knows how to listen will make you feel better.

Smile. Laugh. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We’re all on our own unique journey. What works for you might not work for anyone else you know. Keep moving forward and don’t let small setbacks trip you up. When something sends you backward, acknowledge it, don’t beat yourself up, and move on!

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Blog contributor:

 

 

 

 

Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne

Recipe: Buddha Bowls

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To eat simple and fuel your body in the New Year, you simply must try a Buddha Bowl! “Buddha Bowls” are also called Power Bowls or Glory Bowls…and there are probably other fancy names we haven’t seen. This blog post by Michaela Bentley from Live Well Live Green explains the “formula” for creating them. The fun thing is that you can get super creative or just work with what you’ve got in your fridge.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Greens – spinach, arugula, kale, spring greens
  • Starches – quinoa, barley, brown rice, sweet potatoes
  • Veggies – broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, beets
  • Protein – beans, lentils, tofu
  • Toppings – avocado, nuts, seeds, chili peppers
  • Dressing – hummus, oil & vinegar, peanut dressing

To get even more ideas and inspiration, check out the full post from Live Well Live Green. And, let us know what you recommend for your best Buddha bowl combo!

 

Recipe recommended by:

 

 

 

 

Gennis Lafayette, N.C.

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Bar Method Teacher, Palo Alto & San Mateo

www.facebook.com/gennis.lafayette.ne