How to Kick-Off Your Health Goals For 2014

When saying goodbye to an old year and jumping into a new one, many of us will set new year’s resolutions. And it isn’t any surprise that the majority of us want to lose weight, start exercising or eating clean. Getting active and cleaning up your diet can have a tremendously positive effect on your health. Here are a few tips to help you stick with your New Year’s Resolutions.

photo

1) Set “SuPeR Smart” GoalsSSelf Controllable (Your goal must be something that you can control), P – Public (Reinforce your goal by telling another person, or possibly posting it somewhere for others to see), R – Reward (Allow yourself a reward for when you reach your goal), SSpecific (Make sure your goal is clear-cut and not too general), MMeasurable (For example, losing a specific number of pounds or setting a specific number of push-ups you would like to do), AAdjustable (It’s okay to change your goal to accommodate your lifestyle), RRealistic (The goal needs to be achievable), TTime Based (Set a timeline for your goal, or a date for when you would like to achieve your goal)

2) Find an online community or app to keep you motivated during your progress. Bodybuilding.com is a great website with lots of articles on nutrition and exercise. MindBodyGreen shares articles on holistic wellness, including nutrition, yoga and other health based topics.

3) Do your research with any nutrition or fitness plan. What works for others may not work for you. There are so many opinions on the internet on which “diets” and exercises are best for your health. Become aware of what works for your body and don’t compare yourself to others.

4) Keep your stress at bay. Have fun with your workouts, don’t stress over what you eat. Remember, one healthy meal won’t make you healthy, one unhealthy meal does not make you unhealthy. Get your recommended amount of sleep at night. Remember to breath. Try taking up yoga or meditation. Reducing your stress levels will not only make you feel good but look good as well.

5) Do not give in to the negative images that take up your social networking sites. As if the media did not do  a good enough job portraying it’s idea of “beautiful”, but now “fitspiration” is all over social media. Keep your health goals about your health rather than your appearance. Focus on how healthy choices makes you feel great rather than how it makes you look.

Salad in a Jar

photo

I had about 15 minutes this morning eat breakfast and make lunch before I had to rush out the door for school. I figured it would be easy to toss a bunch of ingredients into a jar and call it a salad – so I did.

This is 1/2 cup of brown rice, along with some chopped spinach and all the fresh vegetables I could find in my fridge – tomatoes, green onion, green peppers, cucumbers and even some corn. This salad was not only extremely delicious but also very filling. Hopefully I didn’t get too many weird looks while trying to eat out of a mason jar.

Minimize Stress, Maximize Health and Energy this Fall

Next week many of us will be back to school. Everybody is familiar with the “Freshman 15”, however you don’t need to be in your freshman year to succumb to unhealthy habits during your school semester! Poor nutrition, stress, and lack of activity not only work against your health but can also affect your work ethic. Check out these 5 suggestions to minimize your stress levels and maximize your health and energy throughout the semester.

1) Don’t forgo your fitness routine

I understand you have 3 essays to get started on and a mid-term to prepare for but keeping up an exercise routine, whether that’s yoga, weight lifting or running, will help decrease your stress levels. If you get your body moving you will increase your circulation. As the oxygen is delivered throughout your body you will feel as though you are more energetic, not to mention the release of endorphins (the feel-good hormone).

2) Prepare your own food to bring on campus

Take control of your nutrition and pack wholesome and filling meals to school with you. Not only are you likely to save money but you will know exactly what you are putting into your body. Take the time the night before, or wake-up earlier than you normally would to prepare your food/snacks/lunch. “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

3) Use a natural sweetener in your daily coffee fix

Stevia is a great all-natural sweetener that you can buy in little packs. Store a few of these in your backpack or purse. Putting process sugar in your daily coffee spikes your blood sugar, which can leave you feeling sluggish, and contribute to empty calories. Also avoid artificial sweeteners which can be toxic to the body.

4) Try breathing techniques to quickly reduce unneeded stress

Why do people feel so great after they have finished a yoga class? A lot of that has to do with focusing on the breath. If you feel stress approaching tune into your breath. Even if it is for a minute, breathing has a tremendous impact on our nervous systems and can help us to relax.

5) Keep your workspace organized and separate

I am extremely guilty of using my bed as my workspace. But experts say if we reserve our sleeping areas strictly for sleeping, we will get a better night’s sleep. Keeping an organized space, intended for working can increase work production.

Why You Should Reconnect With Nature Today

Nature is all around us. The air, the earth, the sea and the creatures that depend on it all. There are so many beautiful reasons for us to connect with nature. Nature is so complete in it’s function. Nature, naturally fulfills us; fresh air to breath, water to drink, warmth of the sun, cool breeze from the wind. If the great outdoors is so excellent, why do we find ourselves so disconnected from it on a regular basis?

Our lives are so bombarded by unnatural chaos and technology that we forget to literally stop and smell the roses. As I was driving down the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia, surrounded by towering mountains which were covered top to bottom in majestic evergreen trees, I stopped to take in the fresh air and immediately felt the difference between this and the toxin-filled, suburban air at home. Being stuck indoors all day cannot be good for your health. Taking the time to enjoy the outdoors is extremely beneficial for yourself and the planet.

flower

Nature can help de-stress you

In our everyday busy lives, it is completely normal to feel stress, however too much of stress can lead to so many everyday illnesses. Taking a little time out of your day to focus on nature can help that unsettled part of your brain find rest. Taking time to breath in fresh oxygen can help lower anxiety and help refresh yourself and help you regain energy.

Finding love for nature will help you protect it

It is no secret that the urbanization of our planet is only slowly killing it. Spending a little extra time in nature can help you regain an appreciation for it’s function and beauty. This can lead to you making “greener”, more sustainable choices in your everyday life, whether that’s composting, using an energy efficient vehicle, using local produce or recycling.

So, how can we begin to reacquaint ourselves with nature?

Try going for a hike or walk in your local park.

Get an indoor plant for your house.

Practise your yoga or other exercises outside.

Grab a blanket, lie down and watch the clouds go by, or at night look at the stars.

Arrange for you and your friends to meet outside instead of a shopping mall.

Eat as natural and environmentally responsible as you can.

Enjoy all seasons;

Be in awe, humble yourself, connect.

Trees

“Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.” The Tables Turned William Wordsworth

5 Misconceptions About Yoga

People have preconceived ideas about yoga from what they’ve seen in the media or heard through word of mouth. Yoga unites the mind, body and spirit, and can impact your life in many ways if you allow it. Here are 5 false statements often thought about yoga!

yoga

1) Yoga is only for those who are flexible and have good balance

Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility and balance. You don’t need to be flexible or have great balance to start yoga. There’s a starting point for everybody. If you focus on yourself during the class instead of comparing yourself to others, your mind set becomes about your personal improvements and victories.

2) Yoga is not a good workout 

Different varieties of yoga will offer you a different level of exercise. It will also depend on your skill level as well. For example, Ashtanga or Vinyasa Yoga will offer more of a cardiovascular or strength workout. Whereas a gentler Hatha Yoga class could be less challenging, depending on the sequence of postures. The poses and postures performed in yoga work to improve your balance, breathing, flexibility and strength no matter what kind of class you are taking part in.

3) I can’t practise yoga with my injuries

Talk to your studio or instructor ahead of time, there are many variations of poses that can help you not only practice yoga while you are injured but help heal your injury. Yoga is great for strengthening the smaller muscles responsible for supporting your ligaments and joints.

4) Yoga is religion based

Although yoga is known to have originated from Hinduism, other opinions today suggest yoga predates Hinduism. Yoga can be a spiritual practise for some, but perhaps not for others, where it is strictly physical.

5) Yoga is only a series of poses and breathing techniques

Yoga is frequently generalized as a fitness routine where people get together and practice different postures and breathing techniques. What many people don’t know is that Postures (also known as asanas) and Breathing Techniques (also known as pranayama) are 2 of Eight Limbs of Yoga in the Sanskrit scripture Yoga Sutra. These include Yama (being honest, non-violent, simple, humble and moderate), Niyama (being self-disciplined and dedicated to one’s spirituality), Asana (what most people are familiar with – physical postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), Pratyahara (withdrawing from the 5 sesnse to tune into ones mind), Dharana (concentration – creating a still, non-distracted mind), Dyhana (meditation), and finally, Samadhi (the goal of yoga, pure consciousness).

Is Fitspiration the new Thinspiration?

Thinspiration provides images of women with “thin” figures. The purpose is to motivate women to become thin; the consequence of this however is often disordered eating, which is why social networks like Instagram have blocked tags such as #thinspo, etc. But could Thinspo’s new counterpart Fitspo be just as dangerous and damaging to women’s health?

There is no doubt fitspo is paved with good intentions. Women with fit bodies, flat stomachs, six-pack abs, well-shaped butts and arms are seen in images often with a catch phrase such as “strong is the new skinny” or “Complaining won’t burn calories”. And I will be the first to admit that I spent countless nights looking at this “fitspiration”, thinking that if I only worked a little harder in the gym I would have the perfect body, but was I really inspired?

20130722-124607.jpg

I am a huge advocate for clean eating and exercising. However when it comes to women’s body image, I believe every woman should feel great in her own skin as long as she is healthy. I pass no judgment to my friends, and those I don’t know, who are followers of fitspo and I admire the dedication and passion it takes to build a fit physique. That being said, a person should not feel unhappy about their appearance because they don’t lift weights, practise yoga, or go for runs every week.

A part of me recognized that I wasn’t being inspired, in fact I realized I was only fixated on what I believed to be my flaws and became extremely critical of my body. It was the shame I felt that got me into the gym everyday, and I am confident that others have the same reaction as they go through their long feed of “fitspiration”.

How have we let images that promote low self-esteem be confused with inspiration? Although fitspo is suppose to be conducive to good health, all it has become is a hub for women to compare their bodies. It creates a new standard of what they believe they should look like to be happy, as if magazines, movies and television weren’t enough. Images of anorexic women can undoubtedly be defined as unhealthy; but it’s my opinion that constantly comparing your body to any shape or size negatively affects your self-esteem. The only standard any person should hold for their body is healthy and happy. Women need to properly educate themselves on nutrition and exercise to make decisions based what is best for their personal health and not base their well-being by a series of images we call “fitspiration”.

So, where do I find my fitness inspiration now?

  1. My parents. Between my dad waking up before 5 A.M. to get in his workout (-word on the street is that he is back to the weight of his football playing years) and my mom’s holistic approach to controlling her chronic pain, they both show serious commitment to their health.
  2. Professional bodybuilders. Angelica Kathleen, Bella Falconi, Karina Baymiller, Terica Messmer to name a few. They all show extreme dedication and diligence towards their fitness goals. And I enjoy watching their journeys unfold.
  3. Most importantly, myself. Practising yoga has helped me to remember how strong, capable and beautiful my body is. I remind myself constantly that I go to the gym not only to benefit my health but because I thoroughly enjoy it. I set goals for myself, and I look back at my accomplishments with pride.