Positive Thinking: No Time For Negative Nelly

These days times are tough. Bills, work, family…life. A lot of stress can not only take a toll on your body, but also your mind. Unfortunately, recent data suggests that negative thinking and attitudes can perpetuate depression and generally poor health. Here are a few ways to help you kick that negative thinking out the door:

Consider how fortunate you really are: Each day as you browse the web on expensive technology, or scramble to get to the office on time, thousands of Americans are without a job, or even food. Do you really consider how lucky you are? Taking a few moments everyday to look at all the great things you have in your life can leave you feeling uplifted, more productive, and generally happier.

Avoidance: We often cross paths with hundreds of people each week. Some are naturally more negative than others. It is often much easier to feed into negativity than set yourself apart. If you’ve identified a person that is frequently negative, try not to over indulge. This can be the difference between a great day and one that leaves you exhausted.

You’re Human: Everyone gets annoyed. Both people and things can create huge moments of annoyance. Allow yourself to be annoyed for two to five minutes. After this, make a concentrated effort to shift your attention to something else.

Ways to refocus: In some cases, it’s tough to re-focus. Finding an out that requires more detailed attention can be a great way of refocusing. Watch a movie, do a workout dvd or class, or work on a craft project that will help you to mentally shift gears.

Good Fats: Friend or Foe? The Surprisingly Fatty Foods that Boost Weight Loss

Often times we are taught that fat is bad, but the reality is our bodies need fat to survive. Saturated fats tend to be the ones you want to limit because they are responsible for increasing cholesterol and creating inflammation in the body. Unsaturated fats, however, can have restorative effects, and help your body process other foods more efficiently. They also tend to wreak less havoc on your digestion and assist in blood glucose control. These are a few traditionally “Fattening” foods that can actually stimulate fat burning. 

Olive Oil: This is extremely high in omega -3 fatty acids, which are not only heart healthy, but reduce inflammation and speed up fat burning. Omega-3’s have also been known to help alleviate joint pain and slow the progression of memory loss. Add a few teaspoons to your marinara sauce or grilled vegetables. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try olive oil ice cream- you won’t regret it!

Nuts: Packed with protein and minerals, they can act as an immediate source of energy to help fuel increased fat burning. In addition to omega-3’s, nuts also contain plant sterols that are substances that help to drive down cholesterol. They also contain fiber, another weight loss warrior. Add a handful of nuts to your yogurt or cereal in the mornings, or even add some to your salad.

Avocado: This fruit is notoriously “fattening”, yet when combined with complex carbohydrates, it can keeps most of us satiated longer and promotes effective digestion while helping burn calories. Avocado is also known to help maintain brain function and contribute to more youthful, vibrant skin. Try adding a slice to your morning egg and toast, or blend together with lime and spread on your sandwiches.

Weekend Sabotage: Is Letting Loose Leading to Tighter Pants?

We all forget things sometimes. I forgot that Jessica Simpson is pregnant again, because it seems like it’s been a while. A long while. Did you forget that New Year’s resolution you made? For many of us, the weekend really sets us back when it comes to healthy eating and living.  Here are some ways to get back on track :

Fill Up during the day: Don’t starve the entire day and go wild at night. A simple way to avoid this is to eat small meals throughout the day with protein. You will stay full longer, and you won’t turn up at the party feeling famished. This way if you want to enjoy some more carbohydrate rich foods in the evening you haven’t deprived your body the entire day.

Vary your Alcohol Intake:  Consuming liquid calories can most certainly make the night entertaining, but often times we pay for these decisions for much longer. Alternate an alcoholic drink with sparkling water and lime, or unsweetened tea. This allows you to still drink socially and not go overboard on the calories. You will also stay hydrated and less likely to binge on other foods later.

Shrink your portions: Its easy to load up on everything that looks good. Consider eating only half of an item you want and try a few other things instead. This way you get a variety of tastes and you can sample everything.

Fix your plate with mostly veggies: Vegetables can fill you up and help you feel satisfied. As you add in some of the less healthy options, vegetables provide your body the fiber and minerals it needs to process the other foods more effectively. Avoid heavy sauces and dressings.

Don’t feel guilty: If you have generally been eating healthy and you splurge at a party, don’t worry about it! Start over the next day, and avoid guilt from the previous evening. Some research even suggests that having a “cheat day” can boost your metabolism and help you lose unwanted pounds quicker. Plan for an active day to help you burn off some of the other calories you may have consumed.

Pregnancy Prep: Getting Your Body Bump Ready

Many women watch their belly grow and really let loose during pregnancy. Unfortunately, it’s no secret that excess weight gain during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and skin changes that are difficult to reverse.  Here are some practical tips to avoid the bulge:

Get in shape before you get pregnant: Aim to reach an optimal weight for your height and body frame BEFORE you get pregnant. This will allow you to have more energy during and after pregnancy and help your body to bounce back faster.

Exercise regularly during pregnancy: Let’s be serious . Labor is no joke. That’s why it’s called “labor”, not “walk in the park”. If your body has the stamina to workout you will be ready for labor and can harness your energy and endorphins to push hard. Really hard.

Hydrate: Adequate hydration will boost circulation and prevent dehydration. Your skin can more easily stretch and will naturally bounce back without much damage. Dry skin, on the other hand is more prone to cracks and stretch marks leaving permanent scars and areas of sagging.

Strengthen your core: Focus part of your workout on your abdominal muscles. Later in pregnancy, back pain is extremely common as the body adapts to a growing bump. Strengthening the core muscles gives the lower back more support, while protecting against other injuries.

Whole Grains: Are You Buying Goodness or Gunk?

If you didn’t get the memo, white flour is out and whole grains are in. But as brown bread continues to fly off shelves, the question remains- is it really whole wheat? In many cases, it isn’t. Several types of bread marketed as “whole grain or whole wheat” have brown dyes or multiple additives to make them seem like they are whole grains, but are actually white flour derivatives. Consider trying a few of these unadulterated grains that will shake up your diet, and pack a nutritional punch. 

Buckwheat: This source of wheat is easily available at both your grocery store and health food store. This is a great source of iron, vitamin B, and fiber.

Millet: This grain tastes similar to rice. It is full of fiber and helps to get your gut back on track by improving digestion and constipation.

Quinoa: Most restaurants are serving up dishes with this ingredient because the high content of protein found in quinoa. By adding quinoa to your meal you’re likely to feel full longer, and get the same satisfaction as you would consuming a larger portion of pasta. Additionally it’s high in magnesium, and iron.

Sprouted Grains: These grains are sprouted in water and contain increased amounts of folic acid and B vitamins. Bread made from sprouted grains is also a great source of fiber, which allows you to eat less, stay satisfied, and process foods more efficiently.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate: Calling All Chocolate Lovers

There’s hardly anyone who can resist chocolate, but maybe now you don’t have to! For many years research has shown that consuming small amounts (remember the part that says “small”) of dark chocolate have significant health benefits. This is because it contains the most pure content of cocoa without any extra milk or sugar. It also contains up to three times more antioxidants than both milk chocolate and white chocolate. There’s a reason why studies never mention milk chocolate- all the dairy and sugar in milk chocolate lowers the antioxidant levels, and raises the fat and calorie content. Still not convinced you should let dark chocolate melt in your mouth and not in your hand?

Check out the health benefits of this super food!

Heart health: A small amount of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow! Antioxidants can also assist in fighting plaque formation and blood clots.

Maintain Stable Blood Sugar- Dark chocolate helps control blood sugar because it has a lower glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t wreak havoc on your blood glucose and insulin levels. This may be surprising because its considered a “Sweet”, but adding a small amount to your diet may satisfy your sweet craving and keep your sugar under control.

Keeps You Energized- Dark chocolate is a great source of magnesium, potassium, and..you guessed it- caffeine! Instead of that 3pm coffee you’re going to load up with milk and sugar, consider a few squares of dark chocolate and a decaf tea to give you a cleaner, quicker boost of energy.

Skin Protection- known for its high content of antioxidants, dark chocolate helps the body fight off free radicals. These pollutants can increase generalized inflammation in the body, and leave us with less than lustrous skin. Consuming a small amount of dark chocolate can help brighten and preserve your skin.

Mood Booster- Dark chocolate can also trigger boosts in serotonin levels that can be a great mood booster. Try a few squares to help you forget that annoying work situation, or frenemy you love to hate, and you’ll be surprised at how good you feel!


Metabolism Boosters: The Best Natural Foods to Jump Start Your Metabolism!

Feeling sluggish or stuck in an unhealthy slump? Often our diets contain foods full of preservatives, refined sugar, and additives. Consuming these substances makes it difficult to lose weight because the body cannot properly process these foreign materials, leading to an increased accumulation of fat.

Incorporating a few natural foods can help boost metabolism and get your body burning calories non-stop!

Here are five great calorie-burning foods that everyone should incorporate into their diet:

Black Tea: Not only is this high in anti-oxidants, but research also suggests black tea may aid in decreasing glucose uptake in the body. Add two cups of black tea to your daily routine and watch for the benefits!

Cayenne Pepper: This addition to your diet can instantly boost your metabolism. Adding just a spoonful has been shown to rev up calorie burning almost instantaneously.

Peppermint: Peppermint has long been known to aid in digestion. In many cases, people unable to lose weight or stuck at a plateau have some form of digestive irregularities. Adding peppermint to your meals or in the form of teas can aid in digestion and speed up your metabolism 

Cinnamon: It’s not just for the holidays! Cinnamon has often been used as an adjunct in the treatment of diabetes to stabilize blood sugar levels. This can also be a great way to increase calorie burning even while at rest.

Ginger: Ginger is both a potent anti-inflammatory and allows your body to naturally  “heat up”. As heat is produced, the body burns more calories and becomes more efficient in burning excess fat.

Knee Pain: Are your legs in “knee”d of a vacation?

Many women suffer from knee pain, and in some cases it can be a serious problem.  A real housewife once said “The higher the heel the closer to god”, but unfortunately outside of Beverly Hills, the higher the heel the closer to orthopedic surgery you may be. Every year about 10 million women visit their doctor for knee pain. In many cases, women can get knee injuries without even being involved in sports or exercise.

Women often suffer from knee pain and injuries due to their anatomy. Unlike men, women have wider hips and the upper leg is curved slightly inwards, causing the knees to be closer together. This puts stress on the knees and can result in more frequent injuries if women are not careful.

Although it appears simple, the knee joint is extremely sophisticated. For you to hop up out of bed, or get your Gangnam style on, all the parts of the knee need to work together.

Courtesy of Aclsolutions.com

The knee is made up of the patella (aka knee cap), ligaments that help the thigh and lower leg bones connect together, and ligaments that keep the knee from moving sideways. The inner knee is also full of fluid that helps keep the joint moving smoothly and cartilage that covers the top of the leg bones to provide support and lubrication as your knee moves back and forth. As you can imagine, an impact to any one of these parts can cause increased inflammation, and in turn, a lot of pain.

One of the most common causes of knee pain in women is related to the knee cap. In a normal knee, the patella has tendons that attach on the top and bottom of the patella and help it to move up and down smoothly. The patella is lined with cartilage to help it glide smoothly along the bones of the upper and lower leg. When this cartilage wears away the patella begins to grind against the bones and cause pain. This can occur with excessive exercise, strain on the front of the knee, or from activities that put prolonged pressure on the knee.

Pain in the anterior knee is also common when the muscles of the thigh are weak. These muscles help the patella to move smoothly. When there is weakness of either the inner or outer components of the thigh muscles the kneecap is more likely to deviate to one side and cause pain. Add to this exercises that put significant stress on the knee joint (running, jumping, plyometric exercises, etc.), and you can suffer from significant pain.

As activity increases, the chances of sustaining an injury to the ligaments or inner components of the knee also increase.  In many cases a sudden twisting or shifting movement at the knee while your foot is planted is all it takes to get an injury.

Here are a few ways to avoid injury:

Strengthen your thigh muscles: Quadriceps and hamstring strengthening is a common recommendation by many orthopedic and sports physicians. By strengthening these muscles, the knee cap can move smoothly and in a straight line and you can avoid pain. An easy way to do this is use the leg press with your foot turned outwards for one set and then inwards for the next. Do these movements slowly and you will isolate both the inner and outer thigh. Expect to feel the burn!

Heel-free days: We get it. It is tough to ditch your high heels. Unfortunately, constantly wearing high heels places significant stress on the front and sides of your knee. Opt for flat shoes with good support for daytime, and if you do wear heels, keep a pair of flats with you incase your knees begin to hurt while walking.

Don’t be a Hero: Many women like to push themselves, even if the pain is unbearable. If your knees are aching or burning from pain, limit or even stop your activity. Give your knees a rest, and try to ice them to bring down the swelling and inflammation you may have developed. Stopping your activity can be the difference between a minor injury and surgery if you sustain a severe injury.

Shed some pounds: Another reason to bring down your weight if you are overweight or obese- less knee pain. As you walk, the knees can feel a force of anywhere from four to six times your body weight. If you are overweight, this can be a large strain on the knees and lead to worsening pain and even early arthritis.

If you continue to suffer from knee pain despite these simple tips, visit your physician for a proper exam and further treatment.