What’s Your First Step?

What’s one thing you know you need to do to improve your health?

The thing is, we don’t need to be told what to do to improve our health.  We know the basics — drink enough water, eat whole foods, exercise, get enough sleep, have healthy relationships, etc.

Putting one foot in front of the other is the absolute most important thing we can do to begin reforming our health.  What’s the one thing you know you need to start working on?

What Helps You Wind Down?

Hopping into bed without turning your mind down a few notches will leave you tossing and turning through a restless night of poor sleep.  Your brain works hard enough during the day, help it to turn off at night adequately.

If you generally look over at the clock and realize it’s past your bedtime, try setting a timer this week to remind you to slowly make your way to your bed calmly and intentionally.

Are you a bedtime reader or phone scroller?

Weighted Blankets

Have you tried a weighted blanket?

These weighted blankets have been around for quite a bit, but have gained mainstream traction in the last year or so.  You can now even buy one on your next Target run on the blanket aisle.

These blankets help ground you, ease anxiety and help you sleep deeply.  You can get them in all sorts of different weight ranges — and you should choose your blanket weight based on your body weight.  Aim for between 5-10% of your body weight when choosing the right blanket weight.

So, have you tried one yet?! What was your experience?

Night Owl or Early Bird

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Isn’t it so interesting how we’re generally either one extreme or the other?

Some people crawl into bed at 8pm ready to call it a day, and others begin to feel their most productive hours begin around dinner time.

Sleep is essential for good health — this you know.

And it can be quite tricky to navigate that road when you’re on the night owl spectrum.

For the night owls:

– Pick up some Sleepytime Tea and drink a cup around 7pm each night this week.  See what happens.

– Eat dinner an hour earlier than usual this week, as well.

– If you need to shut your mind off, try journaling for 15 minutes before heading to your room to unwind for the evening.  You also can try planning the next day and creating a to-do list.  Waking up feeling organized and ready to tackle your day can help ease your mind as you drift off to sleep.

So – are you a night owl or an early bird?

Natural Ways to Boost Your Immunity

and Dodge the Cold & Flu Season

Besides the flu, colds make their rounds during the colder months when these microorganisms flourish, so it’s up to you to be vigilant and protect yourself. Thankfully, there are natural ways you can help boost your immunity and lessen your chances of getting sick this winter.

How many times during the winter months do you usually get sick? Let me know in the comments below, and let me know any natural tricks you use to combat illnesses.

Here are a few of my favorite ways

Use probiotic power
With all we now know about the gut biome, eating foods with probiotics is the best way to help keep your immunity strong. Kombucha, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut are just a few probiotic foods to help you out. Make sure you’re always eating plenty of fiber too to help that gut bacteria thrive. If you’d prefer a probiotic supplement instead, there are loads of wonderful ones to choose from to make sure you’re getting your daily probiotic needs.

Eat right
Unfortunately, this time of year is also when all those holiday goodies are lurking about. Balance it out by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich foods are immune boosters that will keep your system fighting all season long. Another warming winter food that will make your soups healthier is bone broth which you can sneak into your
family’s diet without them ever knowing.

Think zinc
The more vitamins you have in your foods this season, particularly vitamin C, the more immunity you’ll have. However, zinc is often forgotten for the powerhouse that it is. Zinc can help stop a cold’s cells from replicating and is a powerful tool to have in your wellness arsenal this season and beyond. You can eat more zinc in spinach, nuts, beans, and pumpkin seeds. There are also zinc supplements you can take daily, or when you’re feeling a cold coming on.

Balance activity and sleep
When the germs are swirling around, be sure you’re getting enough exercise as well as getting enough sleep. Compromising on either one can jeopardize your immunity. With the days shorter and quite frigid, getting in bed earlier isn’t a hard thing to do!

Sanitize with lavender oil
Soap and warm water are always best for cleaning your hands, but when you’re nowhere near a sink, try lavender oil. It smells great, keeps away germs naturally, and keeps your hands soft and supple even in the frigid winter weather.

Keep it clean
We know hands should be clean and kept from our eyes, nose, and mouth, but don’t forget about those things you use every day that can be contaminated with ease. Your phone, keyboard, desk, and door handles are prime examples. Want one that isn’t full of chemicals? Add purified water and distilled vinegar to a spray bottle in equal parts, and then add a few drops of tea tree oil. Spray
away!

There are too many fun events you won’t want to miss over these winter months, and there’s no time to spend being sick in bed. Use these natural immunity boosters to live life to the fullest during cold and flu season!

Let’s talk about sleep.

It’s a problem a considerable amount of people struggle with, and we all are aware of how absolutely critical good sleep is for our health.  This we know.

But have you ever considered how lack of sleep influences your social interactions?  Think about it.  When you’re exhausted and struggling to get through your day, you tend to withdraw inward and try to avoid social interaction because you’re just not feeling up to it.

Now think about how daily sleep deprivation can lead to the daily withdrawal of social interactions — and what that can compile to become over time.

Something to think about.  Do you struggle with sleeping well? Do you find it affects your social interactions?

5 Reasons Your Weight’s Not Budging Even When You’re Trying

Even when you think you’re doing everything “right” — you could still be doing something that’s sabotaging your goals. With the slew of “diets” out there that leave us entirely confused, it can be hard to discern what the correct steps to take are to actually reach your health goals. I totally get it, it’s a difficult road to be on.

Start by taking an honest look at your habits, and digging a little deeper with these 5 reasons your scale might not be budging.

1. You’re not sleeping enough
We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it: you need sleep! If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more prone to feeling hungry when you’re not and more likely to choose fattier options instead of more healthy ones when it’s time to eat. Even worse, lack of sleep affects how much cortisol your body produces which can contribute to weight fluctuations.

2. You have zero chill
Your stress level directly correlates with weight gain. Just like not getting enough sleep, it produces more cortisol which will keep the scale from going down like you’re hoping for. You’ve got to learn to manage your stress by using relaxation techniques. Try meditating or take 5 at your desk and do some simple yoga poses. Developing a good habit for handling stress will take some time to make it stick, but you’ll find once you manage stress, the scale will be tipping in your favor.

3. You’re eating more than you should
Are you portioning out your food? A substantial portion of the population overeats and an alarming number don’t even realize the portions they’re eating are considered “overeating” sized portions. What’s more, even if you’re using something healthy like olive oil, it has 120 calories per tablespoon which really adds up if you just dump it into your skillet or pour heavy onto your salad. Measure things out, and you’ll be getting just the right balance.

4. You’re not challenging your body
But I’m exercising, you might protest. Indeed, getting moving and being active is a crucial part of losing weight. However, you’ve got to challenge your body. You can’t expect to keep blasting off fat if you’re doing the same workout every single day. Switch things up, and you’ll see results. Don’t be afraid of lifting weights either. Building up your muscles helps you burn off more, even when you’re at rest!

5. You overindulge on the weekend
Be mindful of your indulgences and don’t skip your workout on the weekend either, or at the very least, plan an activity that keeps you moving. There’s no reason you can’t have a good time but balance is the best way to prevent your weekend from wrecking your weight loss.

Be honest…are you guilty of these things? It’s not too late to make a change. Work on these areas now and you’ll be in much better shape even during the hectic holidays coming up in winter!

Relaxing Bedtime Routines to Help You Sleep Well

Do you have trouble falling asleep each night no matter how tired you are? If so, you need to enact a relaxing bedtime routine to help get your body and mind in the right mood for sleep. Repeating these actions nightly can help signal to your body that it’s time to go to bed, which might be all you need to actually get a restful night’s sleep.

Here’s how to get into a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself.

1. Power down
Smartphones and electronic devices have made our lives easier in many ways, but at night, that blue screen stimulates our brains, keeping us awake. Try to avoid looking at your devices for about one hour before you go to bed to calm your mind. You might think you’re getting ahead for tomorrow by reading those emails, but the reality is you’re just adding more fodder for your brain to worry and mull over. Forget about it until morning.

2. Meditate and unwind
If your brain just doesn’t stop it, try meditating or performing relaxation exercises. Even yoga poses that prime you for sleep are a good idea. By
doing these, you get your body to relax and de-stress, which is good for sleep.

3. Read a real book
Sit in your favorite nook and read a book for pleasure. Make it nothing to do with work or school and devote yourself to reading for a good 20 to 30 minutes nightly. Your brain will relax and go to another place, allowing you to feel more primed for sleeping.

4. Relax with music
You might love music, but it really is good for your soul. Just choose something relaxing instead of upbeat, and you’ll find it helps you get the shut-eye you need.

5. Write that down
If you have a habit of laying down in bed while your brain nags at you about upcoming projects or things you shouldn’t forget at the supermarket, then before you wind down, write it down. By taking it out of your brain and putting it on paper, you free your mind from having to remember it. And by doing that, it will actually stop pestering you to remember. Ah, relief!

6. Check the thermostat
Research has shown that if your bedroom is too hot, it can keep you from sleeping. Lower temperatures signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. By keeping your room at a comfortable temperature, you’ll sleep more soundly and without waking often.

7. Get up if you can’t sleep
Still can’t sleep and find yourself wide-eyed and awake? Get up and go into another room. Keep the lights dim and do something relaxing like reading or listening to calming music. Give it 15 minutes and then try to lay down again.

Don’t forget that during the day, take care of yourself by getting exercise and eating right. These things will help your body feel good and can help you get the sleep you need when it’s time to go to bed.

Do you ditch the phone before bed, or do you crawl in bed with it aglow and scroll as you drift off?

If you’re a scroller, try slowly abandoning the phone at bedtime and see how your sleep improves.  The blue light from the screen meddles with our natural sleep patterns, and drifting off to sleep with a clear mind as opposed to processing everything you just saw on your phone is the recipe for better rest.

I know it’s hard to change your habits, but try by just doing one day a week, increasing a day each week until you’re phone-free at bedtime.

Have you ever tried stretching before bed?   It might sound (and look) silly, but it yields the most restful night of sleep I’ve felt in a long time.  Before you hop in bed for the night, sit on your floor, or even your bed, and do a few minutes of stretching.  Slowly stretch your legs, arms, neck… and see what a difference it makes.

Do you struggle with sleep? Let me know below what you’ve tried that hasn’t worked.