Is All Exercise Created Equal?

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I am a huge advocate for physical activity, and believe that moving our bodies daily has a tremendous impact on our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. But, as with diets, there are many different theories around exercise and the types we should be doing. From yoga to running, CrossFit to spinning, there are many opportunities, so which is best?

I approach exercise just as I approach eating. Everyone is different so individual preference, age, personality, and many other factors need to be considered. Ultimately, find something that you enjoy doing, that way you will be far more likely to make it a habit.

There are four categories of exercise. Try to find something from each category that feels right for you. Here are some examples:

  • aerobic/endurance – increases your heart rate, works cardiovascular system
    • running, walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, hiking, rowing
  • strength – increases lean muscle mass
    •  weight lifting, push ups, pull-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, tricep dips, yoga
  • balance – improves ability to control your body’s position, find center of gravity
    • yoga, tai chi
  • flexibility – improves range of motion, stretches muscles
    • yoga, tai chi, stretching
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Aside from promoting heart health, losing weight, and toning up, exercise has many other great benefits. It can calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, create feelings of happiness, boost energy, and improve memory and thinking skills.

When considering what exercise will be best for you, think about your personality and your typical day to day activities. Are you always go, go, go, with a busy schedule and a restless mind? Perhaps yoga or tai chi would be a great option to help eliminate physical stress and promote relaxation. On the other hand, if you are often sedentary and have low energy throughout your day, something more energetic may be good for you, such as spin class, zumba, or brisk walking. The key is to find balance.  Too much energy in our days will eventually burn us out, and too little energy will facilitate the growth of disease in our bodies.

If you are a person living a sedentary lifestyle looking for ways to increase your mobility, there are ways to encourage yourself to keep on track. Many watches and fitness trackers are a great tool to track steps, count calories burned, and allow you to compete with friends/family if you are a driven competitor. It is recommended that people take around 10,000 steps per day, and trackers are a great way to give you an estimate of your progress. If you respond well to group training rather than going at it alone, perhaps you could get together with friends, family, neighbors, or members of the community for group walks and activities. Trying out state forests, parks, and local trails may be a fun way to start.

Be easy on yourself when adopting any new lifestyle. Moving even a little bit is better than not moving at all – and keep in mind that you don’t have to be pouring sweat and out of breath to have done wonders for your health and wellbeing.

 

With love,

Brittany

 

 

 

Finding Balance to Promote the Most Vitality

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I believe that life is meant to be a journey of growth and evolution for everyone who walks this earth. We are all students throughout the entire course of our lifetime, and even the greatest teachers are never done learning. We will never have all of the answers, but by seeking out truths within ourselves, and striving for balance in our lives, our time here in our physical bodies can be lived with the most vibrance possible.

I am currently a student at IIN (The Institute for Integrative Nutrition). I went back to school to become a health coach because deep in my soul I believe that helping others to achieve health and happiness is my calling. My passion and desire comes from wanting to achieve these things in my own life, and we teach what we’re meant to learn. Few people have a perfectly balanced life, but by being a guide to help others take a look at the big picture and uncover the origins of their symptoms, together we are getting closer to harmony.

At IIN, we are taught about The Circle of Life. This consists of 12 areas that effect your vitality. These areas include:

  1. joy
  2. spirituality
  3. creativity
  4. finances
  5. career
  6. education
  7. health
  8. physical activity
  9. home cooking
  10. home environment
  11. relationships
  12. social life

By looking closely at these aspects and rating them on a scale from unsatisfied to satisfied, you will be able to see where you need to focus a little more of your time and energy.

To live your best life, we must strive for balance within all of these areas, so I highly encourage everyone to check in with yourself often. It is important to make note of any symptoms you are currently feeling. After you’ve completed your scale, consider your symptoms and your areas of least satisfaction. Could they be related? Do you notice any patterns?

For example, a client of mine is often tired, has troubling focusing, has an irritable bowel, and frequent headaches. Looking at her circle of life diagram, I see she ranks joy, social life, relationships, and home environment the lowest. Is it possible that there is trouble within one or more of her relationships causing these symptoms? This exercise requires honesty with yourself. Listen to what your body is telling you. Sometimes we don’t notice our underlying causes until they’re written down and spelled out for us.

Once you’ve completed this exercise. take action on the areas that need to be addressed. Like anything, this will take time, dedication, and love for yourself. But remember, you are worth it. Love yourself first and everything else will fall into place.

Wishing you only love and happiness,

Brittany

The Greatest Gift You Can Give to Yourself

 

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I recently gave myself something that I desperately needed. Something I had been putting off for a while. With the encouragement and support of my husband, I gave myself the gift of time.

For me, this gift came in the form of a hiring a nanny. Our nanny provides me with some much needed weekday hours to myself, and enables my husband and me to get some time alone together as well.

I am a stay at home mom so wrapping my head around hiring a nanny seemed absolutely ludicrous at first. So many questions and judgements ran through my head at  – How much will this cost? Why do I deserve a nanny? Why can’t I manage this on my own? What will everyone think? Am I a bad mom? Will my kids be upset with me? But you know what? I put all of that aside. All of that noise in my head wasn’t reality. I have found that this decision has made me a better mom and a better person. I am more present, more patient, and softer with my children, and I know everyone will benefit from this choice in the end. The gift of time that I give to myself is ultimately the gift of more quality time for all of us when we are together. 

Before hiring our nanny I felt that my identity as an individual was long gone. I felt my only role was in the household – mom, caretaker, and wife. I absolutely love the role I play in my family, and I am extraordinarily grateful for it, but I need time for me.  I crave time to be creative, to learn, and to truly relax and recharge without distractions. Some of the things I do with my new found time are school work (I am studying Integrative Nutrition at IIN), podcasts, audiobooks, blog posts, quiet time to reflect, yoga, and the ability to get anything done that’s difficult to accomplish with two young children in tow.

These days we all wear many hats, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves to take those hats off. It’s so important to offer ourselves the time and space to take a deep breath, relax, and do things we love and things that simply make us feel good inside. If we don’t make our self care a priority, we will not have the opportunity to show up as our best selves. When we are run down, exhausted, or anxious, we (and the people around us) pay the price.

I think many of us have a tendency to view self care as selfish, but what is selfish about being kind to ourselves? There is a big difference between being self absorbed and having self love. Treat yourself like you would your child, your parents, or your best friend. Give yourself the advice you would offer them. Changing the vantage point will help remove all the judgements and fears getting in the way of taking care of yourself.

I wish we could all allow ourselves the gift of time. The world would be a much better place if we all took time to slow down, find our center, and focus on what really matters. For me, what really matters is my family. They deserve the best version of me possible, and each day I am taking steps toward that.

What will you do for yourself today?

Brittany

 

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Intentions for Year Thirty

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I turn thirty in a few weeks. For some, this number is scary, daunting, and depressing, but for me, I am truly excited and looking forward to this decade with an open mind and heart.

Many of my friends have already turned thirty, and instead of a eagerly looking forward to their special day, like they had done in the past, they completely dreaded it. When I observed this pattern, I decided that I was going to try to change their mindsets, while also reaffirming mine.

We recently celebrated three thirtieth birthdays at once, so I gave my friends an assignment to prepare beforehand. I asked them to write down their intentions for their thirtieth year, and we discussed our thoughts over dinner. I didn’t know who would actually do it, but to my surprise, everyone had something to say. The conversations that exercise sparked was really wonderful and eye-opening. It gave us insight into each other’s lives on a level we had never gone to before.

It’s so interesting what one question can unlock in a relationship. We learned so much about each other in minutes, and I gained a newfound appreciation for each of them in unique ways. Asking open ended questions and looking at a situation in a different light can makes all the difference. Saying, “I am turning thirty, my twenties are over, and I am getting so old” sounds so dispirited and sad, but saying, “I am turning 30! Here is a list of my intentions for my next decade and what I am going to accomplish” sounds so inspiring and optimistic.

Our minds are powerful and we cannot underestimate the abilities it has to impact our lives. We have the power to decide whether we will breed positivity and growth or fear and anxiety. We are not the result of our circumstances, but rather how we react. Growing old is inevitable, but many who reach a certain age start to focus on the negative instead on the positive, and in turn start looking backward instead of forward. Growing old needs to be celebrated more because the more years we are here, the more we learn to enjoy what life has to offer in more abundant ways.

I want to encourage everyone, no matter what your age, to come up with a list of intentions for your years ahead.

To get you inspired, here is mine:

  1. Take time to go outside and be in nature as much as I can
  2. Schedule phone calls with family and friends in my calendar and treat it as an important task
  3. Sing more
  4. Start creating content for my blog and stay focused on my end goal
  5. Just be me and put less pressure on myself in every day life
  6. Continue to make myself a priority, and schedule daily acts of self care
  7. Start morning pages and meditation to release anxiety and spark ideas
  8. Reduce social media usage
  9. If it’s not a “hell yes”, say no to invites
  10. Plan “Goddess” days with my favorite ladies to rejuvenate, inspire, and support each other  – I learned this term from Melissa Ambrosini 
  11. Stop judging myself and others
  12. Practice being more mentally present in my everyday actions and conversations
  13. Talk less, listen more
  14. Focus less on the future and more on the now
  15. Establish “no phone hours”  at home
  16. Stop caring how other people perceive me
  17. Avoid being defensive and try to understand alternate points of view
  18. Be kind to myself, especially in front of my girls

 

This is a lengthy list. It is in my nature to get excited about things and get carried away, but often times that leads to a loss of focus. While I listed many ideas, I am only working on a few at a time. I recommend starting with a few and growing it as you start to check off line items.

This is going to be a great! I hope you feel inspired and ready to make positive changes to improve your quality of life.

 

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Wish you health & happiness,

Brittany

Is Sleep Deprivation Effecting Your Ability to Thrive?

For most people today, life is very fast paced and overloaded. We have packed schedules, pressures to perform at work, pressures to perform at home, relationships to care for, and an overwhelming amount of information to process. How do we keep our heads from spinning off?

Society is moving at an unnatural rate, and to help manage this, we over consume in every possible way. We over consume food, drinks, alcohol, caffeine, artificial light, information, and life experiences. This may work in the short term, but if we constantly rely on outer sources to keep up going, we will eventually crash.

Lack of sleep has the potential to lead to weight gain, loss of mental clarity, depression, and an overall decline of general health. Many people are effected by sleep deprivation and aren’t even aware of it. Often times this is because what we interpret as “rest” really is not rest at all. Leisure activities, recreation, drinking, smoking, and watching television are not forms of true rest. We are in such a constant state of hyperarousal that our bodies and brains have forgotten how to do nothing. This hyperarousal has led to a dramatic incline in the use of sleep drugs, and millions of people suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea, and depression.

The best way to get better sleep is to be mindful of the choices you make throughout the day. You can limit your caffeine and sugar intake, eat a well balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid late night snacking. It’s also been shown that creating a peaceful environment does wonders to promote restful sleep. Some ideas are to paint your bedroom a calm color, diffuse soothing essential oils, replace your mattress, clean out clutter, remove electronics, reduce light with black out curtains or an eye mask. and reduce sound with a barrier under your door, such as a towel or white noise machine.

Another key factor in getting efficient rest is to decide on a regular bed time and stick to it. Having a bed time will reduce time spent doing things that can hinder sleep like binge watching tv, eating, or doing busy work, such as checking email and keeping active around the house. As bedtime approaches, try calm activities instead, like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and, for some, reading works well too. These will all help relax your mind. Although there are people who claim they can function on 4-5 hours per night, 7-9 hours are highly recommended for optimal health and wellbeing. Knowing this, decide your bed time based on the time you have to wake up in the morning.

As you experiment with different methods of sleep and relaxation, I suggest you keep a journal of your results. Record the evening practices performed, the number of hours slept, the quality of sleep, your energy levels the next day, your overall mood, and any other information that may be relevant. Once you learn what works best for your body, you can align your habits to better suit your needs.

Getting on track to better sleep will take time and practice, but the positive effects will ripple across all areas of your life and you will love the results. Never underestimate the power of a good night sleep.

 

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Wishing you Health & Happiness!

Brittany

 

 

 

The Mind Body Connection

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Self-worth, as defined in the English dictionary, is the sense of one’s own value, or worth as a person; self-esteem; self respect.

Recently, I have come to realize that I have relied on other people to determine my self-worth throughout my entire life. In order to feel confident, happy, and content, I have needed family, friends, and even strangers to affirm all of my accomplishments, big or small, and justify all of the things that do not go as planned. It has been my security blanket and protection from any form of discomfort.

I also have a history of people pleasing. I put the preferences of others ahead of my own and disregard my feelings entirely to avoid upsetting anyone else. Since my self-worth depends on everyone thinking highly of me, I avoid confrontation like the plague.

I never fully felt the effects of this until I became a mom. Suddenly, the attention shifted away from me and onto my children, and it also became harder and harder to please everyone since I was no longer the only person in the equation. I often felt alone, isolated, and that I had lost my identity. I slowly felt my anxiety increasing as time went on, and then I was introduced to the true meaning of depression.

This experience led me to discover that health is not only about the foods that we eat and whether or not we exercise. I eat a very nourishing diet and move my body every day, but while I was feeling mentally defeated, stressed out, and just sub par, it took a toll on my physical health as well.

As a person who suffers from food sensitivities, I noticed that when I was feeling my worst, my symptoms also worsened and new ones developed. My feelings on the inside were directly reflected on the outside. I was having break outs, digestive problems, facial flushing, fatigue, joint pain, weakness, and much more.

Depression effects many people and it can display itself in a variety of ways. Aside from extreme sadness and withdrawal, a person may also experience chronic pain, weight gain, a short temper, skin issues, a loss of focus, feelings of apathy, and may be more inclined to rely on drugs and alcohol.

If you are starting on a path to live a happy and healthier life, I encourage you to take a look at all factors that contribute to your well-being. This may include your job, your relationships, your sleep habits, and physical activity just to name a few. We need to treat our mind, body, and soul as one if we truly want to live abundantly healthful lives.