Finding Time For Your Health

Today’s way of life is very fast pace with little time in between for self-care. Most of the time I hear people say “I am too busy” when it comes to health and wellness. Though, being busy may be true, I have to say if it is something you truly want you will find time.  Finding the time may not be an easy task but evaluating your situation in order to optimize your time is essential.

I am the queen of making things work when it feels like things are stacked against you. I had to evaluate my own goals and where I wanted to be in life as I wanted to work on health and fitness. Did I mention that I was also the queen of excuses?  Well no more. Even though it seemed like I had no time in the day I made it happen. For instance this is my schedule.  I work 10 hours a day, drive each way for 1 hour, sleep for 8 hours which leaves me 4 hours of leisure time a day.  That includes getting ready for work, coming home making dinner, etc.  I kept saying I was too tired, too busy when really I was disorganized and not goal oriented.  However I turned it around and now come home to work out for 1 hour in the comfort of my own home.

I have included some tips on how to find time in your day for the things you want.

  • Set a goal

First off what do you want to accomplish and why? Answering this will help to reduce or eliminate excuses. Excuses are the biggest roadblock we have in life.  Believe it or not saying “I don’t have time” is an excuse.

  • Prioritize

Decide what is a must do and what you can cut from your day. Of course going to work is at the top of the priority list, however, hanging out at the water cooler with your co-workers may not be.  If health and wellness becomes part of your priorities then you will easily place it in your day.

  • Remove needlessness

Again we engage in activities daily that add no value to our lives. For instance, hours of television watching, scrolling through social media or searching the web. Health and wellness on the other hand is not a needless activity as it adds value to your life and can wholeheartedly replace some of these other no brainer tasks.

  • Set a timer

I was told by a woman who also runs a tight ship and she told me to set a timer with my priority tasks so that I do not begin to wonder away and waste time. By holding yourself accountable to the task at hand you are able to actually complete your goals.

  • Consistency

Being consistent in all you do will help you to grow habits. No different than your hours of internet surfing or tv watching.  However, in this case you will have something to show for when you are done.

My all-time saying is you will have to find time for something. Is it better to find time to make a doctor’s appointment due to unnecessary illness or make time to get into shape and take care of yourself to ward off those unnecessary things? The choice is yours to make

 

 

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Spirituality and Mental Health

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Mental health concerns often wear down the entire person. Whether you are dealing with anxiety, depression, relational concerns or severe mental illness such as Bipolar or Schizophrenia the entire self is impacted. When one is unable to operate at full capacity limitations ensue and problems eventually erupt.  This can take form in negative thinking, weight gain, health problems related to stress which ultimately deteriorates the person you once knew.

These life stressors tend to take a bigger impact on a person when they allow themselves to be at the center of the problem. What that means is they carry the world and the world’s problems on their shoulders.  Over time one cannot sustain such pressure, perfection or focus.  Therefore, by seeking outside of one’s self affords the ability to alleviate some of the burden.

Have you ever wondered how some people are able to go through tragedy and recover while others are destroyed? Like me I am sure you have.  The answer is complexly simple.  It is simple as the plan is easy to follow. However, complex as you have to believe in a concept that you can only trust in your mind and has no physical presence in this world.

Spirituality is just that. Something you believe in but are unable to put a physical existence to. You just have to believe.  That for many is the difficult part of trusting that it is true.  If you believe that something is going to help you through a tragedy then you will look around you for proof – something good will result.  The opposite is also true.  If you feel like nothing will help you through the tragedy then you also will look around for proof – identifying all that is wrong in your life as a result of the tragedy.

Now imagine that you have faith in a spiritual entity and that all burdens are not yours but for this entity to provide aid in working through. This equates to the burden, weight and stress to lift from your shoulders and upon this spiritual helper and guider.  Wow doesn’t that feel more comfortable, I feel the weight lifting already!!

When the world’s pressure is not only riding on you, then life becomes more manageable, tasks become easier and adopting the idea that “things are meant to happen” alleviate overbearing stress and guilt from the unavoidable. Once you are able to believe this is possible the complexity of the task is reduced and one can then follow the plan.

Following the plan is just the reminder that you are not the bearer of the world’s weight, things “just happen” sometimes and that even in a tragedy something good can come about. The nice thing about the plan is it does not change as it is all about positive thinking, plain and simple.  If you are a bit lost and are thinking “how can I possibly turn a tragedy into something good?” Find articles or books to read with stories similar to your current struggle and really focus on how the person evaluates and manages the situation.  How do they come out victorious?  The one sure fire thing in this world is if you cannot figure it out there are enough resources to find a blue print and reproduce it and change it until it is authentic for you.

Go out and be positive thinkers, believe in something outside of yourself that is capable of handling your life stressors and overcome your tragedies.

Meal Planning Made Simple

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I know there are a lot of meal plans out there and often times they are pretty complex and can make you feel lost if you do not know much about nutrition and how it fuels your body. I have tried many types of meal plans and several have worked. However, what has worked for me are ones that are simple, easily paired foods are incorporated and I don’t have to stay in the kitchen all day.

Nutrition is a vital part of life in general and certainly important if trying to lose weight, improve health or work around food allergies. Before deciding to start a meal plan you must set a few goals in terms of what will this food plan provide for you. Otherwise, it is a meal plan that you can easily ditch when things get challenging. You must know why you are doing this plain and simple.

I am all about the basics; staples that you put in many meals throughout the day and some that are easily accessible when in a hurry. I meal prep on Sundays to afford reduced amount of time I stand in front of the stove.

A common food breakdown is to get an average of 1300-1500 calories per day if you are working toward weight loss. The macro ratio that is often suggested is 40% carbohydrates, 20% healthy fats and 40% proteins. This is certainly adjustable depending on your own needs, desired outcome and fitness level.

If you are interested about how to get a personalized meal plan feel free to email me at dr.michelle.scoggins@gmail.com or send me a personal message on FB @michelledawn or IG @drscoggins_healthandwelness. Click here Simple_meal_plan for a reformatted excel sheet to give an example of how keep your ratios calculated and it proportion.  Tweak it yourself if feeling ready to do it on your own.

 

Carbohydrates: The Connection Between Mood, Snacking And Weight Management

Managing life while monitoring mood and weight can certainly be a daunting task. However, knowing food combinations and how to eat along with when to eat can be the key to success. Of course the craze is all about eating a specific amount of meals and calories, yet the type and mixture of food is just as important. Today the focus is on carbohydrates and how our bodies need and use them.

Serotonin

This is a chemical naturally made in our brains. It is also a key component in mood management. Medications such as Zoloft or Prozac used for depression work on the brain by maintaining the amount of serotonin available for the brain allowing for improved mood quality. Serotonin is also involved in satiation, the full and satisfied feeling achieved after eating a meal.

Carbohydrates

As the referenced article explained, think about going to a restaurant and snacking on bread prior to your meal being served. Often times when your meal arrives you begin thinking “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” and you already feel full. This is due to carbohydrates naturally creating the production of serotonin. Eating meals with complex carbohydrates such as vegetables help to improve mood functioning and satiation. However, timing is also vital. The reason is our bodies naturally love to feel good so the body tends to crave carbs in order to self-regulate moods. Also, people may tend to “self-medicate” with carbs in an attempt to manage moods. Think to yourself when you eat pasta or sweet potatoes there is a calming feeling that comes over you about an hour after the meal. That is serotonin working. It was also suggested to eat carbohydrates with dinner as a way to reduce nighttime snacking. So again timing is key as I am not suggesting to graze on carbs all day to stay happy but can give you an idea why in the afternoon you may crave chips or unhealthy snack foods.

Snacking

If you are able to understand why you snack then managing snack time can become a little easier and more productive when managing weight.   As studies show obesity has been linked to high fat, empty calorie and simple carbohydrates. I will break this down a bit to provide better understanding. High fat foods are not the issues as there are “healthy fats” so knowing the difference will help along the way. Avoid trans fats as much as possible, which are often in processed foods and stick more to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These are contained in foods such as avocados, nuts, nut/seed butters, salmon, olives/olive oil, ground flax seeds/chia seeds, and tuna. Empty calories are included in most junk food, as they do not contain vital nutrients. This includes sugary drinks, candy, chips, and many processed foods. Simple carbohydrates are also included in the junk food section as the body breaks down the substance that lacks nutrients and thereby is just converted into sugar without providing anything to the body, that is except extra weight in the long run. Now knowing about the snack foods you can make better choices in carb intake. As I mentioned earlier eating complex carbs for dinner such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, or brown rice can help to reduce after dinner snacking.

Weight Management

Knowing what to eat, when to eat and the combinations of food can certainly help to control weight. Protein is an essential component in any meal plan as it helps to build and maintain muscles in addition to helping you stay full longer. Carbs as explained above help monitor moods, may increase snacking and obesity and is essential for energy. Fats also help to regulate system performance and there is a lot of research about high fat/low carb diets that really work. If you are a calorie counter then I say great job as that is the beginning, however, breaking it down further to know your combination of macros (carb/fat/protein ratio) will also afford the ability to better monitor weight, mood and overall healthy operation of the body. I will discuss in another post about macros and tracking to step it up a notch.

 

The bottom line that I continue to discuss is using food as a way to fuel our bodies properly. Food is not intended to fill emotional deficits or comfort us. Having an emotional connection to food is likely to fuel obesity rather than a healthy body. Finding other ways to emotionally soothe oneself is crucial to health and weight management.   Thereby, if you are an “emotional eater” I would suggest finding other ways to soothe emotions and only think about food as fuel.

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/201008/serotonin-what-it-is-and-why-its-important-weight-loss

New Year’s Resolution Rubbish

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It is January 1st and it’s on everyone’s mind to improve health, wellness or loose weight. Good intentions are always at the start of this process, however, most of us know that these resolutions never last. I want to talk about ways to start off this New Year right and without losing motivation and remaining focused on life change.

Do not label change as a “New Year’s Resolution”

Resolutions are made to fail, rather change your perception and begin a “lifestyle change.” Lifestyle changes are meant to last for the long-term. Lifestyle changes are meant to have ebb and flow where things are not always the same or perfect. You must still be able to have fun, experience imperfection and be human. Many times New Year’s resolutions do not afford this flexibility.

Start Small and Improve Over Time

New Year’s resolutions often times are set up to fail as the goal is too specific and too drastic. Starting off small such as learning to count calories/macros or workout for 30 minutes 3 times a week are the way to start rather than “I want to lose 50lbs.”

Know Why You Want To Change

Again a set-up for failure is when the reasons behind change are weak. I have heard many times “I want to lose weight.” That is a great goal but what will the weight loss help with and how will it improve your life. Knowing the “why” behind the choice will help you at times when motivation is low. This is a surefire way to renew yourself over-and-over again.

 

Don’t get me wrong making change and working to improve your life is great but can serve as a double edge sword if not properly prepared. Making a lifestyle change can take place at any time as opposed to a New Year’s resolution. Like for myself I decided to incorporate my current lifestyle change in July and have remained active in this change. The bottom line is change can occur on any day of the year, start small and know why you are making this change.

Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Exercise for Good Physical and Mental Health

Believe it or not but physical and mental health go hand in hand. Being in our optimal health takes work on all aspects of life. Beginning our day with the appropriate nutrition affords the ability to have clear thoughts, energy and free from aches and pains associated with a poor diet. In addition, to focusing on ones diet getting the right amount of physical exercise allows the body to stay in optimal condition. It also helps to move chemicals around in the body needed for energy, digestion and mood control.

Those basic behaviors done daily help to restore the body and keep the system working as intended. Think of our bodies like an automobile. You can’t just get into your car day in and day out and drive it. Maintenance and fuel are essential to keeping your car in good condition. The body is our personal vehicle that requires nurturance and care.

How to care for our bodies as the foundation of optimal physical health which lead to ideal mental health.

 

Eat Enough Nutrient Rich Foods

As I mentioned above food is at the heart of our existence. I don’t mean this in a mannerism that suggests overeating but rather getting enough of the good stuff. No mystery here – get enough green stuff which is infused with essential vitamins, water to help the body keep hydrated and able to keep things circulating, and food that helps increase energy.

Almonds are full of magnesium and vitamin-B which are essential to good energy levels.

Popcorn which is a great whole grain snack that is packed with fiber and no blood sugar crash associated with other snack foods.

Peanut butter is high in good fats and protein which equates to satisfaction. It also helps to maintain stable blood sugar. Look for natural versions that are likely to have less added sugars.

Salmon is great for boosting the brain as it contains omega-3’s which are known to reduce depression and improve your mood. Salmon has some great health benefits aside from mood management such as being a good source of protein which keeps you full and can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Bananas are a great healthy snack that are filled with fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium. These supplements help one to stay full and help muscles to recover from a workout as potassium is sweat out during a workout and a banana will help to quickly replace what is lost which may help reduce muscle cramping.

Kale contains an amino acid known as L-tyrosine which has been identified as helping keep you alert and fiber which helps keep you full and keeps blood sugar stable.

Oatmeal is high in fiber, which again equates to satiation and lasting energy. In addition, the fiber content contributes to maintaining stable blood-sugar levels and will help you maintain energy making this a perfect breakfast choice.

Pistachios combine protein, fiber and good fats making for a perfect snack or an on the go filler to help reduce poor food choices. Though they are delicious make sure to not overeat these filling luscious nuts as they are calorie dense meaning just 25 of the total up to 100 calories.

Hummus is a great filling dip as the main ingredient is garbanzo beans or chickpeas, which are a great source of protein and fiber. Again fiber and protein help you to stay full and stabilize blood-sugar that helps boost energy.

Greek yogurt provides sometimes double the amount of protein that is in a regular yogurt. Alone it is a great source of energy and will keep you full but be careful of the toppings that may make your snack even more delicious as yogurt can become very unhealthy if not properly paired with nutrient rich extras.

(Resource: https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness-pictures/energy-boosting-foods.aspx#11)

 

Workout At Least 30 Minutes A Day

Exercise has been known to help reduce depression, anxiety and stress. Working out helps release important endorphins, help reduce inflammation in the brain, promotes relaxation and can serve as a good distractor. Tense muscles associated with stress and anxiety can also be relieved through regular exercise.

In addition, exercise has other great benefits such as the same feel good endorphins released when exercising also has been know to improve concentration and mental sharpness as well as stimulating growth of new brain cells ultimately slowing down the age-related mental decline. When we feel good and look good our self-esteem is likely to follow – exercise is a great booster in that department. You don’t have to work out and become a body builder but small gains such as a reduced mid-section or increased stamina can help to enhance ones sense of self. Instead of reaching for drugs and alcohol when adversity hits, exercise is a healthy way to manage stressors while maintaining a health immune system and cutting the impact of the stress felt.

(Resource: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm )

 

Get At Least 8 Hours Of Sleep

 Obviously sleep helps our bodies recover from daily activities. In addition, sleep helps our mind consolidate memories, which help to preserve our minds abilities as we age. Listening to your body is vital, for example if you are extremely fatigued on your day off take a nap, your body is asking for it. Sleep disorders have been linked to many mental health disorders and may impact the severity of the disorder with sleep deprivation. Monitoring sleep and making vital changes may make a world of difference in your mood and overall well being.

  • Lifestyle changes such as reducing or monitoring caffeine intake can help improve sleep quality. In addition, alcohol and nicotine impact the sleep-wake cycle. Alcohol affects the nervous system as acting as a depressant, however once it wears off so does ones fatigue. Thereby, drinking during the day may produce unneeded naps or dosing off which essentially affects the sleep cycle at night.
  • Physical activity brings on fatigue and helps overall sleep quality.
  • Sleep hygiene is how one cares for their sleep patterns. It has been thought that insomnia is learned by poor habits such as a haphazard bedtime, using the bedroom for more than sleep and sex, and sleeping with the television or lights on. It is recommended if you are suffering from a form of insomnia to use a technique known as sleep restraining where you stay awake longer ensuring fatigue before going to sleep and restricting daytime naps. Also, getting into a habit of relaxation techniques can help to reduce stress associated with bedtime allowing sleep to come on easier. Some forms known to work are meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

(Resource: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health )