self-care

4 Practical Tips for Improving Your Mental Health Through Self-Care

 

The importance of self-care is becoming known to more and more people. However, it is still misunderstood by many as being an excuse for self-indulgence. It seems that the more popular lifestyle is to work relentlessly and continue one’s ceaseless climb up the ladder to success.

 

However, this often leads to a life of constantly feeling overwhelmed, and it can eventually lead to anxiety and depression. For your mind’s sake, you have to prioritize self-care. Here are four practical ways to take care of yourself that will benefit your mental health.

 

Eat Healthy

 

Nothing is more important than nutrition when it comes to physical health, and the same goes for mental health. Our bodies and minds depend on nutrients, so when we eat junk with all kinds of fillers, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. One of the leading causes of obesity and other food-related health problems is the lack of portion control. Just being conscious of how much you eat can make a world of difference in how you feel.

 

Also, there are now more healthy options than ever before, so it’s realistic to say that you can eat a variety of interesting foods and still get plenty of nutrition. This comes in handy and will help you maintain healthy eating habits if you easily get bored with the things you eat.

 

Do Stress-Reducing Activities

 

No matter who you are, you probably deal with stress in a variety of ways as part of your everyday life. It’s well-documented that stress is often a major factor in anxiety, high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, sleep deprivation, depression, and many other health issues. It’s important for all of us to take initiative in keeping our stress under control. Activities such as exercise (e.g., yoga, tai-chi, running), meditation, playing/listening to music, and breathing exercises can all help with reducing stress.

 

Another stress-reducing activity is to go through all your belongings at home and get rid of the things you haven’t used in years or will likely never use. When you declutter your home, you declutter your mind. Everyone has certain items that mean something to them. When you declutter, it’s likely that some items won’t make the cut. If that’s the case, you can always rent an inexpensive self-storage unit to keep those things safe and out of your way for a little while. It’s a worthwhile expenditure in the short-term to give you some breathing room and doesn’t have to cost a lot.

 

Get Some Sleep

 

Too many people are not getting enough sleep. In fact, 40.6 million American adults get six or less hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation hinders you from living at full potential. So, if you want to be more productive and less stressed, as well as have a higher overall quality of life, rest is paramount. Try to set a bedtime, cut back on stimulants (i.e. alcohol, nicotine, caffeine), dim the lights a couple hours before bedtime, and avoid electronic devices while you’re lying in bed. And if it’s been over five years since you replaced your mattress, it might be time to do so (keep in that a queen-size mattress runs between $250 and $5,000). For more helpful tips on how to get better sleep, check out this article.

 

Just Relax

 

One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to take moments for relaxation. For instance, have some Play-Doh, Silly Putty, or a stress ball nearby to squeeze when you start to feel tense at work. Go for a stroll on your lunch break or when you get home in the evening. Say “no” to going out for drinks and take a nice, hot bath with Epsom salt to relax your muscles. If you want to go the extra mile, add essential oils to the water or light an aromatherapy candle.

 

Although you want to do what is necessary to succeed in life, it’s essential that you take a step back every now and then to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Be sure to eat healthy portions of nutritious foods, and take advantage of the variety available today. Do stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation, and listening to music. Evaluate your sleep routine and change it if you need to. Finally, take moments each day to relax.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

 

Thanks to Brad Krause for his guest blog post! Get to know him and his work better at his website Self Caring

breathing

Proper Breathing During Strength Exercise

When exercising, it is important to select the appropriate resistance, use proper posture, and select the correct number of sets and repititions. To obtain the best results from your exercise routine, these are required. One important topic that often is overlooked for best results is properly breathing during your strength exercise routine. Proper breathing during strength exercise can, however, improve overall performance, safety, and results.

 

Before we look at the positives of proper breathing during your strength exercise routine, let’s take a look at the negatives of improper breathing and how it can affect your health and safety. The greatest mistake is to hold your breath throughout your exercise. Some individuals are naturally inclined to hold their breath while straining to lift a heavy object. Without proper breathing, they can experience lightheadedness, dizziness, a dull headache, or in more extreme cases, they may lose consciousness. Holding your breath while lifting a heavy object triggers a reaction in the body that causes blood pressure to increase rapidly. People that hold their breath while lifting a heavy object become red in the face due to the pooling of blood as they strain themselves.

 

Let’s address what we can do to avoid the negative health effects while also getting great results from our strength exercise routine. The solution is simple but can take time to master. As a personal trainer, I have some clients that understand and utilize proper breathing techniques quickly and others that struggle with the concept. Here is what you want to do: when exerting yourself (concentric phase), breath out, then breathe in as you come back to the starting point of your exercise (eccentric phase). Exhaling during the concentric phase will help avoid drastic swings of blood pressure, and inhaling during the eccentric phase will assure that your muscles receive enough oxygen and will not fatigue as easily during your workout.

 

When lifting a particularly heavy object, it may also be appropriate to use a technique called the “Valsalva Maneuver.” This technique slightly delays the exhale on your repetition to help create more force. You may hold your breath for the first half of the concentric phase of the repetition while breathing out once during the second half to complete the repetition. The breathing is slightly delayed, but you still must exhale on the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.

 

Use these breathing techniques while doing your next strength exercise routine and notice your results. I’ve seen several clients notice that their exercises seem easier now than they did when they were not breathing correctly. This can lead to increases of exercise resistance or volume and better overall results.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

ACE Health Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer, AFPA Nutrition Consultant, CHES

 

Want to work with and learn more nutrition, exercise, and how to improve your health? Contact Rick to set up a free consultation now

3 Types of People That Work With A Personal Trainer

Consulting and using a Personal Trainer can be a great way to help meet health and fitness goals. A Personal Trainer helps people exercise and improve their health and can assist you in a gym, outdoors, or even meet you at your home for a workout. There are many reasons that someone may hire a Personal Trainer. Let’s go over a few types of people that would work with a Personal Trainer.

 

  • Are you brand new to exercise or the gym?

Walking into a gym can be intimidating when you do not know how to use the equipment. There are machines, free weights, and bands that all have specific uses. Each exercise should be performed with proper posture and technique to work the intended muscles and to reduce the risk of injury. A Personal Trainer can teach you how to use all of these types of exercise equipment with safe and proper technique.

 

  • Do you struggle with motivation?

To reach your health goals it is important to stay consistent with your healthy habits. This means you have to keep yourself motivated long term to stay consistent with your physical activity. For certain people this can be difficult. Starting and stopping your exercise routine will only lead to plateaued results in the long run. Working with a Personal Trainer can help you maintain accountability and motivation in the long term, which will help you reach your goals.

 

  • Do you find your exercise routine boring and your routine stale?

Maybe you do exercise consistently but you find the same exercise routine dull after months or years. Working with a Personal Trainer can bring ideas to help keep your exercise routine new and interesting. Maybe you are used to using machines and doing body weight exercises but have never tried exercise bands, free weights, plyometrics, TRX, etc. A Personal Trainer can open up new ways for you to exercise that you may have never tried before.

 

 

There are many reasons why you would work with a Personal Trainer. If you are currently searching for a Personal Trainer try to find one that makes you feel comfortable, is open to help you reach your health goals, and provides the best service possible. A Personal Trainer can be a great tool to assist you in losing weight, build muscle strength, or help maintain strength into older age.

 

Contact Rick Adams Health Coaching for Personal Training to meet your health needs.

 

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

cardiovascular

4 Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

Whether outdoors, in a gym, or at home, exercise can be performed almost anywhere. To be more specific, exercise can be broken down into two basic groups: cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise and strength (anaerobic) exercise. Today we are focusing on cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular means cardio (heart) and vascular (veins). It is your “heart vein” system, you could say. Cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio” for short, can be done through a variety of exercises like running, cycling, jump rope, etc. These exercises require consistent breathing; after all, aerobic does mean “with oxygen”. Let us look at a few of the benefits that can be acquired from cardio exercise.

 

Improved Heart & Lung Function

The lungs bring in oxygen and the oxygen is then transported into the bloodstream. The heart then pumps the oxygen filled blood to the rest of the body. Improving cardio exercise improves the function of both the heart and lungs. With improved heart function, your heart can work much more efficiently. This often leads to improvements in heart rate and blood pressure. With improving cardio exercise, the lungs can take in and deliver oxygen to the bloodstream, as well as remove carbon dioxide more efficiently. Simply, your heart and lungs can do the same work with less effort and strain.

 

Weight Loss/ Weight Maintenance

A greater amount or intensity of cardio exercise means more calories burned. The body first uses glucose from carbohydrates as its source of energy. After that source is used, the body begins to use fat stores as energy. This helps the body shed excess weight or maintain a healthy body weight. Burning fat stores usually comes with extended cardio exercise sessions (usually about 20 minutes in a session). Also, some individuals begin their day with cardio exercise before eating breakfast to begin burning fat more quickly into their session. However, you may feel less energetic performing cardio exercise on an empty stomach.

 

Improved Sleeping Habits

Abnormal quantity or quality of sleep can cause issues in personal and professional life. Cardio exercise puts physical stress on the body, and our bodies use sleep as a time to recharge. The amount of exertion through cardio exercise can help us reach a deeper level of sleep. For some, exercising in the evening can help them fall asleep (I fall into this category). For others, it may energize them and make it difficult to fall asleep. If you have a hard time sleeping after exercise, make sure to plan your cardio exercise for earlier in the day.

 

Reduced Risk of Injury

Cardio exercise has long been associated with building lean muscle. If you see a runner or cyclist, you may notice they usually are not bulky but do have defined muscles. Cardio exercise helps produce stronger and more flexible muscles that can hold up better without strains and tears. Cardio exercise can also lead to a stronger core (abdominal and back muscles). These muscles control and protect postural muscles. Strong core muscles make it easier to rotate the trunk of your body and avoid a hunched-over posture.

 

 

As you can see, there are a wide variety of benefits from cardio exercise. I forgot to mention that you also just might enjoy your cardio exercise as well. As mentioned before, there are a wide variety of exercises that are considered cardiovascular. Find which options you enjoy best and slowly work into it. I am sure you will see some of these benefits, if not more, once you build a steady cardiovascular exercise routine for yourself.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

myths

Nutrition & Exercise Myths

It can be easy to confuse what exactly are the best foods to eat or exercises to do. There is an abundance of information available online that can both aid and impede the ability to understand the best ways to live a healthy lifestyle. Different sources you find may even contradict each other. Let’s set the record straight on some common misconceptions and myths in the nutrition and exercise world.

 

Eggs are Very Bad for Your Cholesterol

The yolk of an egg is high in cholesterol, and that is where the confusion begins. For this reason, eggs were thought of as a food that should be absolutely avoided to have good cholesterol. Later it was found that cholesterol in food does not impact your own cholesterol as much as it was once thought. It is easy to see how this myth was perpetuated for so long. The main dietary culprit of poor cholesterol levels is saturated fats which cause your body to produce more cholesterol. Feel free to have an egg or two in the morning without the worry of damaging your health.

 

No Pain, No Gain

When exercising, whether it be cardio or strength exercise, it is not uncommon to feel soreness in your muscles after working out. This is especially true of individuals new to exercise. Pain should never be a part of the equation. Pain in your joints during or after exercise is a sign that your form is incorrect or you are trying to lift too heavy of weight. This can cause both short term and long term injuries if not corrected. If you experience these types of pain, try to decrease the intensity of your workout and focus on having the best form possible. Avoid the pain, get the gains.

 

Sports Drinks are the Best Drink During/After Exercise

Watching commercials and reading ads online would lead you to believe that sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade would be the absolute best drink to have while in the middle of physical activity. In reality, these drinks are more or less glorified Kool-Aid. These drinks do contain the three electrolytes, Potassium, Magnesium, and Sodium, which are depleted in the body through exertion and sweat. Advertising can make it seem that electrolytes need to be replenished much more often than they actually do. The best source of hydration, of course, is water and it has none of the sugar.

 

There is a lot of confusion for multiple different reasons when it comes to a wide variety of health topics. The main goal of my blogs is to give my readers a better sense of what they can do to live a healthy lifestyle. With so much information available, especially online, try to take the advice of respected, experienced, and reputable professionals. This way, you will be able to understand and control your own health.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

water

Benefits of Proper Water Intake

At some point in your life, you have been told to drink more water because it is “good for you”, but why exactly is it good? The true benefits of adequate water intake are often overlooked by most people. Humans are made mostly of water, and without proper hydration, many key functions of the body would simply not be possible. Proper water intake has a direct effect on our daily lives and our overall health.

 

Lack of proper water intake can lead to dehydration, feeling faint, and mental fogginess. Proper water intake helps regulate your body temperature, flush waste from your body, and transport nutrients via the bloodstream. How much water does the body need to properly function and avoid negative side effects? There are a few highly regarded recommendations for daily water intake that include eight 8-ounce glasses a day (64 ounces). Another recommendation suggests drinking half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water a day. Outside factors also play into your daily water that should be considered. The climate in which you live can come into play because people living in hot climates will need to drink more water to regulate body temperature and replace water lost sweating. Also, your level of physical activity effects your daily hydration needs due to water lost with extra internal functions and sweating.

 

It is nice to know that adequate water intake is good for your health, but you may wonder how it will affect you on a daily basis. Personally, increasing my water intake had a huge impact on my daily life. As a teenager, I would have three cans of soda a day, but decided to cut it out and replace it with just water. I was surprised by the results. Instead of feeling hyperactive, I felt even-keeled. Instead of having issues staying awake during the day and issues falling asleep, I was able to be awake, focused, and energetic while also being able to fall asleep well at night. For me, once I felt the results it has been a major focus to keep my water intake high. Water is a key building block of life, so do not be surprised if you see improvements to your energy levels, mood, skin, or sleep.

 

Whether adding more water throughout the day or replacing other beverages, adding an appropriate amount of water to your lifestyle can make a major difference. Think about where you can add water into your own day. First thing in the morning, between meals, or after physical activity are all great times to make improvements. Give it a try and find what works best for you.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

Health Coach

[Video] Who Works With A Health Coach?

Here is a video I made last month to give a description of what kind of people use a health coach.

If you have questions on working with a Health Coach, please ask.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

snacking

Making Smart Choices When Snacking

Snacking gets a bad reputation from the health industry sometimes, but that really should not be the case. I think most of us understand that eating ice cream and cookies right before we go to bed is not productive towards an overall healthy lifestyle. However, snacks absolutely do have a place in a healthy lifestyle and can be great when worked in properly. Snacking can be a great tool to reduce hunger between meals, improve energy levels, and keep meal portions in check. There are three key factors to focus on for healthy snacking: when you are snacking, what you are snacking on, and how much you are having for your snack.

 

When Are You Snacking?

From my experience, people do not think about when they eat their snacks, they just eat whenever they are hungry. Often people have snacks late in the evening, which is usually is not the best time since there will be little time to work off those extra calories. This is especially a problem when trying to watch your weight. It is generally best to fit a healthier snack earlier in the day while most people are more active. It also can help to cut back on the urge to snack late at night.

 

What Are You Snacking On?

Anything can technically be eaten throughout your day as a snack. Picking the better available options is going to help you improve your overall health. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, granola, and hummus are all great options. Generally, snacks high in protein and fiber will keep you satisfied and satiated throughout the day. A snack of complex carbohydrates before physical activity can be appropriate to make sure you have the energy for your exercise. In contrast, snacks like crackers, most granola/protein bars (often glorified candy bars), and dried fruits loaded with sugar are foods some people may perceive as a good choice.

 

How Much Are you Snacking On?

Snacking a little is alright, but what if I told you portion size is important for higher quality snacks as well? I am a big fan of snacking on nuts because they are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Remember that both fats, saturated and unsaturated, are fairly high in calories. One gram of fat is nine calories, while a gram of carbohydrates or protein is just four calories. This means the calories can rack up quickly when eating nuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, or to a lesser extent, hummus. Be mindful of the appropriate portion size on the label if you are trying to watch your weight. For items such as chips, ice cream, and pretzels, try using a smaller bowl to decrease the size of your portions.

 

Snacking is absolutely part of a healthy diet but it is important to do it intelligently. Try working in small snacks throughout the day to see what exactly works best for you. Remember, the more active you are, the more appropriate it is to work in more snacking. It will help keep your energy up, your hunger low, and more satisfied throughout your day.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

natural

Natural Foods to Improve Blood Pressure

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. One of the largest causes of heart disease is due to long term high blood pressure. In my last blog, I addressed the issues that high blood pressure can cause and what foods can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Today we will focus on natural foods that may improve blood pressure that are simple to add to most anyone’s eating habits.

 

Cinnamon

One of my personal favorite spices is cinnamon, due not only to its great flavor but also to its perceived health benefits. Early studies have shown it’s a natural source to assist in managing high blood pressure. It has shown to improve systolic blood pressure (blood pressure when the heart is contracting) and, to a lesser extent, diastolic blood pressure (blood pressure when the heart is between beats). Greater improvements were seen in people with Type I & Type II diabetes (Akilen).

 

Beet Juice

Studies have shown that beet juice can also assist in improving blood pressure. The nitrate in the beet juice is converted within the body into nitrite, which helps vasodilate (widen) blood vessels that reduce overall blood pressure. Beet juice has been shown to be part of a ‘”natural’ low-cost approach for the treatment of some cardiovascular disease” (Webb). The particular study showed improvement in one to two hours after volunteers ingested beet juice. The study used two cups of beet juice before each test, so consuming enough juice in an ordinary day seems quite reasonable.

 

Cayenne Pepper

Another spice that studies have shown may improve blood pressure is cayenne pepper. It contains a natural chemical compound called capsaicin that promotes vasodilation as well as improvements in sodium retention, both of which lead to improved blood pressure (McCarty). About a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper in water can help improve blood flow and assist in removing excess sodium from the body. Cayenne pepper can be used on a wide variety of foods to add flavor and assist in improved heart health.

 

Making a change to improve your dietary health and heart health does not have to be difficult. All of these items can be easily added to most regular dietary habits. Cinnamon and cayenne pepper can be added to food items or just combined with water to drink. Beet juice can be had with a meal or between meals. Small, simple changes and additions can make an impact, improve your overall health, and assist in managing healthy blood pressure.

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

References

 

  1. Akilen, Pimlott, Tsiami, Robinson N. “Effect of short-term administration of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23867208. October 23, 2013. Vol 29, Issue 10.

 

  1. McCarty, Dinicolantonio, O’Keefe. “Capsaicin May Have Important Potential for Promoting Vascular and Metabolic Health.” http://openheart.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000262. June 17, 2015.

 

  1. Webb, Patel, Loukogeorgakis, Okorie, Aboud, Misra, Rashid, Miall, Deanfield, Benjamin, MacAllister, Hobbs, Ahluwalia. “Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite.” http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/51/3/784. February 20, 2008.

sodium blood pressure

Managing your Health by Managing your Sodium Intake

Keeping blood pressure in check can be easier said than done because it is very easy to over-consume sodium on an average day. Roughly 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major contributor to stroke and heart disease. In college I often had to rewrite diets as part of classwork and I always noticed that sodium was the hardest to improve because so many foods are high in sodium. Making a change to reduce sodium in your eating habits can be overwhelming. You may wonder why it is important to keep your sodium levels in check; let’s find out.

 

Sodium is needed in the body to function properly; after all, it is one of the electrolytes.  Sodium assists in muscle contraction and proper functioning of the nervous system. If your body has too little sodium, you may feel tired, lightheaded, or mentally foggy. Unfortunately, it is incredibly easy to consume far too much sodium on a daily basis. Some studies show the lowest amount of sodium with which a person can still function is around 500 milligrams (mg) per day (Thalheimer). That is roughly around two servings of canned beans.

 

The average American consumes over 3,000 mg of sodium a day, which is well above the recommended limit of 2,000 mg a day (Mayo Clinic). Sodium causes the body to retain water, so when a person consumes large amounts of sodium, it causes their heart to pump more liquid in their bloodstream. Simply, the heart is forced to work harder, which results in increased blood pressure. Therefore the heart gets overworked and wears out more quickly.

 

Certain foods are high in sodium, and it is important to limit them. Canned foods, frozen meals, boxed foods, and many restaurant items are often high in sodium. Sodium keeps food from spoiling quickly and gives it a longer shelf life. This is why high levels of sodium are added to these types of foods during processing. Fresh foods are always going to be a better option for lower levels of sodium. Flash frozen bags of fruits and vegetables are also fine options. Also, foods high in potassium are great options because potassium helps balance fluids by flushing excess sodium from your body (Myers).

 

As I mentioned earlier, it can be tough to improve sodium levels in the beginning. It seems that everywhere you turn, foods are packed with sodium. A good way to start is to focus on making a few small changes initially and build off of that. More food is processed today than at any time in the past. Excessive sodium increases blood pressure, known as the “silent killer” because it usually does not have obvious effects until a serious medical event occurs. If your blood pressure is higher than the doctor would like use some of this information to get yourself on the right track.

 

Rick-Adams-Signature

CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

 

 

 

References

  1.  Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sodium_dietary_guidelines.pdf. April 2016.
  2. Myers, Jasmine. “What Does Potassium Do For Your Body?” http://vitamins.lovetoknow.com/ what-does-potassium-do-body.  Accessed February 22, 2017.
  3. Thalheimer, Judith. “Spotlight On Sodium: How Much Is Too Much, and How Little Is Too Little.” Today’s Dietician. Nov 2014: Pg 26.
  1. Sodium: How to Tame Your Salt Habit. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/sodium/art-20045479. April 16, 2016.