Author Archives: Jose Garcia

What Types of Exercise Are Best for Weight Loss?

Exercise is a Contributor To Weight Loss, Not a Primary Driver

Regular exercise is a critical component of health optimization, however, contrary to what pop culture would have you think, losing fat is not a two-factor equation.  Activity alone accounts for only about 8% of fat loss while shifting your body composition, and still, for many people, the idea of adding exercise is more appealing than limiting indulgences, trumps maintenance of healthy sleep habits and can be a source of distress.    As we look at the ‘best’ type of exercise, consider the following ‘ground rules’:

  • You can’t outrun your fork – developing a healthy eating strategy that does not involve trying to ‘burn off’ excess calories but instead provides your body with the fuel it needs to perform at a high level and the nutrition it needs to recover.
  • High quality sleep for the appropriate duration should not be sacrificed to ‘fit in’ a workout.  Adjust your bedtime to accommodate an early wake-up, adjust your workout time to a later start on days when you are going to sleep later.
  • Pay attention to energy levels and how your body feels.  Our culture can be go-go-go, so it’s important on an individual level to take stock and adapt as your body needs.  If you are feeling lethargic or run down one day, opt for lower intensity exercise. If that feeling is prolonged, maintain low-intensity exercise and focus on other aspects of your health that are problematic: nutrition, sleep, stress or self-care could all be culprits.

 

Enjoyment May Be The Key Determinant in Weight Loss

There is an old-adage that the best exercise you can do is the one that you WILL do, and this remains the best piece of advice.  Choose an activity that you enjoy doing, that you can turn into a habit. Consistency is a big key to losing weight, so something that you can do several times per week for months or years is the one that’s going to give you the best results.  On top of the obvious weight loss potential, your enjoyment of the activity can help you gain more happiness and less stress in your life. Research shows that doing exercise that you hate, even exercise that has helped others to lose significant amounts of weight, can make health conditions worse, where exercise enjoyed had positive compound results.

 

Guidance to “Just Do It”

If you aren’t sure where to start, you’re in good company.  Most people find that getting started and finding direction is the hardest step, so we wanted to provide some guidance here.  You can adjust each type of exercise to your level of fitness, whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete just getting back in the groove.  

 

It’s also important, especially when you’re starting out or have taken a long break to pay attention to the signals from your body.  It’s normal to push yourself and be a little uncomfortable during a workout, and you can expect a bit of soreness for a few days after.  However, if you have unusual or intense pains, shortness of breath, or other health concerns, talk to your trusted healthcare provider and change your workouts as needed.

 

Weight Loss Exercise When You Don’t Know Where to Begin

You have probably heard of some of the following workouts and may have even wondered what they were or if they were healthy.  These methods of exercise can have benefits to your overall health and may be just what you need to achieve your personal fitness goals.  Seeking professional help is always a good idea when trying something new or learning a new skill – hiring a trainer or joining a group class is great way to learn to perform movements properly, experiment with intensity and reduce self consciousness or insecurity.  Try them out and see if they fit your lifestyle!

 

HIIT Interval Training

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  It’s a simple approach of doing an activity, like sprinting, at maximum effort for a short time, recovering for a set duration, then repeating.  These kinds of workouts can be done in a concise amount of time, and are especially effective for fat loss.  The key is since the short bursts of activity burn through circulating glucose and glycogen (aka sugar) quickly; your body signals that it’s time to burn stored fuel, aka fat,

Sprints are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to activities, too.  Jumping jacks, squat jumps, pushups, burpees, and other bodyweight exercises are ideal and can give you enough variety to keep workouts fun.  As the name suggests, the magic in this style of training is in the intensity, however, intensity is very individual – your 80% intensity could be someone else’s 100%.  Use a perceived rate of exertion scale of 1-10 when evaluating intensity and aim for an 8-9 during the work interval. The ratio of work to rest also plays a role in the intensity of the workout as a whole – when starting out, keep the work interval short – ie. 10 seconds, and the rest interval long- ie. 4-5x the work interval.  As adaptation occurs and fitness improves, steadily decrease the rest interval until you are able to sustain a 1:1 ratio at which point you can increase intensity by creating an inverse ratio of work to rest ie. 20 seconds work to 10 seconds rest (commonly known as a tabata interval). Remember more is not better – the goal here is intensity, not duration.  Your high intensity workout could be as short as 8 minutes with rest accounting for a minute and 20 seconds of that time but at end of it, you should feel worked over and complete spent.

 

Resistance Training

Resistance training is using any form of resistance to increase muscle strength, such as weight lifting or using resistance bands.  Some people shy away from this type of training with worries of injuries or a bulky look when they want to trim down. To avoid injuries, you may want to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to make sure your form is solid.  Make sure the weight you are using is sufficient for the desired intensity while not being more than what you can move with proper form throughout the set.

Adding muscle does not have to mean getting bigger – hypertrophy.  The initial ‘bulk’ that some individuals experience is that the muscles begin to grow larger and hold a bit more water until they heal.  Since there is already a layer of fat on top of the muscle, this can, for a while, make you look bigger than you want. The best part about resistance training is that muscle burns calories at rest – i.e., increase lean muscle mass drives your metabolism;  this means that with consistent training, you can burn through more of your fat stores faster, and the puffy look will pass quickly on its own.

They range of repetitions, the load employed, the tempo of the exercise, and rest interval are just a few of the factors that determine the training effect of exercise.  Proper manipulation of these factors leads to the desired result.

 

Go Play

Sports and classes are an excellent way to lose excess body fat and optimize health.  These activities help form social bonds, and social accountability has been proven very effective in helping people stay consistent to an exercise plan.  In other words, it’s easier to work out with friends than going by yourself.  These activities are also structured, so you don’t have to think about making a plan yourself.  You just have to show up and join in.

There are an endless variety of options in this category too, and they all make it easy to stay consistent since classes and sports practices are held regularly at the same times each week.  Dance classes are popular, such as Zumba, and yoga classes are sprouting up everywhere. Communities frequently have sports leagues, such as softball, football, or tennis, and there are groups that organize in parks to walk, run, or use outdoor equipment.  Crossfit classes are easy to find, though take a couple of sample classes to make sure you enjoy the intensity.

 

Get creative!  Your city may have gyms that teach you rock climbing, you may have places that offer jumping gyms, or you might be near a skate park.

 

If you can’t physically join a class or sport, try joining a virtual group.  Social media offers ways to join up with others who have similar fat loss goals and enjoy the same kinds of activities, and you can support each other through chats, videos, and even working out at the same time through video calls.  Some services offer video workout classes with forums so you can connect with others doing the same programs.

 

Bottom Line, Starting Small is Still a Start

You don’t need to have long, intense workout sessions to see results.  Finding a balance between high intensity training, strength training, play and low intensity longer duration workouts is key to developing a healthy, or healthier, lifestyle.  As previously noted exercise alone accounts for only about 8% of fat loss. Staying active may be more important for long-term health and mobility than it is for weight loss. Type of exercise, intensity, duration is less important than it is to make it a habit and to ensure that you find a balance of those variables as too much of one at the sacrifice of another will not lead to the results you are seeking.  

 

Exercise Should be Fun

If you keep your workouts interesting, challenging and balanced, you’re more likely to keep exercise as a long-term habit.  Exercising regularly not only benefits your overall health but also aids in healthier choices in other areas – nutrition or sleep for example.  Exercise can help with stress management and also be a part of your self care plan. Improving habits across these domains is the key to measurable and sustainable results.   Finding a form or multiple forms of exercise that you enjoy, possibly even look forward to, is the key to exercising consistently. There are plenty of ways to stay active, so explore options until you find ones that keep you excited.

Exercise and Stress Management

Multiple Stress Types

In our world of constant communication, stress levels quickly go from zero to 100 with a simple reading of a text or e-mail. This response begins in the brain and then extends into the body. Consider that some types of stress can be good, eustress, and includes such things as an upcoming date,a work promotion or other opportunity. Stress can also be bad, distress, and typically lasts longer than eustress and includes experiences such as physical pain, anxiety or financial difficulties. Even though you may be aware that one stress is happy and the other sad, your body’s physiological response to both types of stress is the same. Eustress and distress are daily concerns which mean optimization of health involves developing habits and routines to manage these stressors, specifically leveraging the benefits of eustress, and reducing distress

 

The Body’s Reaction to Stress

The body has developed many protection mechanisms to keep you alive. One of these is your parasympathetic nervous system– perhaps the best known example of this system in action is the fight or flight response which protects you from danger as it prepares your body to confront the stress or run from it. As a result, your heart and breathing rates increase, your muscles tense and your body releases the hormone epinephrine. If the stress continues, your body adds cortisol to keep you on alert. Once the danger has passed, the parasympathetic nervous system returns your heart and breathing rates to normal, relaxes your muscles and reduces the flow of hormones. However, if you are unable to relax and your body remains in a chronically distressed state, you may experience increases in blood pressure, excess body weight and long-term conditions such as anxiety and depression.

 

Considerations Based on Stress Type

Exercise can be used effectively as a stress management tool, however, exercising incorrectly can also be an unhealthy form of stress.  The more stress you are experiencing, the more recovery you need to optimize health. During stressful periods such as increased travel, holidays, end of the quarter work and other work deadlines, when you are less likely to be able to allocate additional time to recovery, consider lowering your exercise intensity.  While this may sound counterintuitive, lowering your exercise intensity not only reduces distress but can help your body and mind recover. During times of less stress, it is appropriate to increase the intensity of your exercise prescription. Daily tracking of your heart rate variability, HRV, is a great way to monitor your body’s ability to take on additional stress in the form of exercise intensity.  If you are of the mindset that high intensity exercise prescription is your only workout option, doubling your efforts in other stress-management techniques to support your parasympathetic nervous system is recommended to optimize both health and performance.

 

Conscious stress recovery is a beneficial skill to keep your body and mind be, and stay, healthy.  FiT’s health hierarchy provides a useful framework to apply to regulate and deescalate stress.  In addition to adapting your exercise prescription, some other areas you can address include:

 

  • Utilizing an effective eating strategy – avoid foods, such as gluten, that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and add physiological stress including inflammation. Maintain proper hydration to avoid additional physiological stress.
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene – during sleep, the parasympathetic nervous system is counteracting the high blood pressure and increased heart rates from stress, so develop a sleep routine and remain consistent with your weekly sleep habits.
  • Implementing relaxation techniques – visualizing less stress, spending time in an infrared sauna, turning off your phone at work, prioritizing your tasks and deep breathing decrease your stress.
  • Making time for self-care – reboot your parasympathetic nervous system by spending time with friends and loved ones doing activities you enjoy.

 

Exercise for Optimal Health

Understanding the effects of stress on your nervous system emphasizes the importance of making conscious changes across the five domains of the health hierarchy. These changes are of particular importance during elevated or prolonged stress; keep this in mind the next time stress enters and you find yourself ‘needing’ to fit in your workout; adjust your workout to account for the time you have available for recovery and keep exercise working for your health, rather than against it.

 

7 Myths about Hormone Replacement Therapy & BHRT

Menopause Doesn’t Have to be Miserable

Menopause is something that all women experience but is seldom a topic of discussion over coffee with friends.  And little is offered by the medical profession to help us manage or even flourish during this period of our lives, which can last from our mid-forties to our sixties.  For the most part, we are told to grin and bear it with many doctors being reluctant to prescribe hormones except for the most severe symptoms of hot flashes; however, when properly prescribed and monitored, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can mitigate hot flashes, alleviate night sweats, clear brain fog and prevent weight gain.  Hormones can improve libido and increase sexual fulfillment. If you are thinking, ‘sounds too good to be true’ or ‘what’s the catch?’ keep reading as this life changing therapy, once thought to increase risk of a variety of diseases, is actually quite safe and believed to reduce disease risk for the large majority of women.

 

Busting Myths about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

 

I’ve been prescribing bioidentical hormones for several years now and am amazed that there is still so much controversy and misinformation surrounding this topic.  The following beliefs are commonly-held but should be relegated to the realm of myth.

 

Myth #1:  Hormone Replacement therapy is dangerous and causes cancer

 

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study from 1991 did women a huge disservice.  The study was terminated early when women on hormone replacement were found to have higher rates of breast cancer and heart disease than women not on hormones.  As a result of this study, doctors stopped prescribing hormone replacement therapy to women. Currently nationwide, less than 10% of eligible women take hormones in menopause.  Hundreds of women are missing out on a potentially life-changing treatment. This trend is starting to change as other studies emerge and more practitioners are taking a critical look at the fine points of the data.  

 

Here’s what menopausal women need to know:  the hormones that were used by women in the study were synthetic hormones given orally (more on this significance soon).  Further, when you compare study groups, the women taking synthetic progesterone developed more breast cancer and heart disease.  The women in the estrogen-only arm actually had lower rates of breast cancer notwithstanding that the estrogen was synthetic.  Here’s the press release: “The NIH has concluded that with an average of nearly 7 years of follow-up completed, estrogen alone does not appear to affect (either increase or decrease) heart disease, a key question of the study.  It has not increased the risk of breast cancer during the time period of the study.”

 

Based on other studies like the French E3N cohort study, which looked at 80,000 French women over a period of 12 years, hormone replacement therapy, if given properly in the correct form and with careful monitoring, does not increase breast cancer risk. Many other studies have proven the safety of BHRT showing no increased risk for heart disease, strokes and blood clots.  

 

Myth #2:  Bioidentical and synthetic hormones are equivalent

Bioidentical hormones are structurally identical to the endogenous hormones produced by your body. They are derived from plant-based sources like yams. Synthetic hormones on the other hand, have additional chemical molecules, or parts of molecules to be exact, attached to their structures– they are foreign substances to the body.  Estrogen is made from pregnant mare’s urine; synthetic progesterone, or progestin is made in the lab and was originally designed to be used primarily for birth control purposes, not to relieve menopausal symptoms.

 

Prometrium, or micronized progesterone, is the bioidentical form of progesterone that is the safest to take.  In fact, it is most certainly associated with a lower risk of breast cancer and heart disease than synthetic progestin.  Based on the findings from the WHI study above, methoxyprogesterone (synthetic progestin) should not be taken for hormone replacement.  

 

Estrogen comes in three forms:  Estrone or E1, Estradiol or E2 (the most abundant form in the body) and Estriol or E3.  Bioidentical estrogen is given as either estradiol (E2), estriol (E3) or a combination of the two called Biest.  Estrone is quite potent and has a high affinity for breast tissue cellular receptors. As we can derive all the desired clinical benefits from the combination of estradiol and estriol, estrone should be avoided in HRT.

 

In summary, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is safer than synthetic and the safest hormones to take are estradiol, a combination of estradiol and estriol (Biest), and prometrium (micronized progesterone).

 

Myth #3:  All delivery forms of hormone replacement are alike

 

When taken orally, estrogen gets metabolized by the liver and can generate pro-cancerous metabolites, therefore estrogen should be delivered through the skin to avoid this.  Bioidentical estrogen is available in a patch, a cream, a vaginal suppository or in pellet form*.  Of these options, the only bioidentical estrogen that’s mass produced by the pharmaceutical industry is the patch (called Vivelle, or Climara); the cream or suppositories can be prepared by a well-reputed compounding pharmacy; pellets are administered by the practitioner, however, pellets are long acting (3 months) so can make initial titration difficult while trying to achieve maximum efficacy with minimum dose.  My preference is to start with a patch, cream or vaginal option at least until optimal dosage is determined at which point making the switch to pellets is fine and can aid with compliance for those who find the daily routine of administering HRT challenging.

 

Progesterone can be taken orally or topically as long as it is bioidentical prometrium as opposed to progestin.  Progesterone metabolizes into a nice calming metabolite, so it can help with sleep and anxiety if taken right before bedtime.  It is made by a pharmaceutical company in a 100 mg dosage form; compounding pharmacies are used if higher or lower dosages are desired.

 

Testosterone, like estrogen, should be given topically. It comes in a cream, vaginal suppository or pellet.  Conventionally trained physicians don’t prescribe testosterone.  Because of my own lack of knowledge of the benefits of testosterone for the human body and images I had of bodybuilders bulking up with testosterone, I used to be cautious about using it as well, but it is an important hormone for maintaining bone density and enhancing cognition and memory.  It’s also key for a healthy libido and preserving lush hair and moist skin.

 

*Note of caution regarding buccal troches—these are small tablets that you place in your cheek that supposedly dissolve into your skin.  Because it is dissolving in your mouth, there is a risk that you swallow some hormone, and thus end up getting oral estrogen, which, as stated above, should be avoided.

 

Myth #4:  Women should stay on hormone replacement only for symptom relief and for the shortest time possible

 

With what we now know to be truth vs. myth, the benefits of BHRT far outweigh the risks for the large majority of women.  Because conventional physicians prescribe synthetic hormones with a higher risk of breast cancer, clots and heart disease, the teaching was always to use the lowest dose of hormones for the shortest amount of time (ideally less than five years).  However, there is more and more data on the benefits of hormones for women, especially in preserving cognition and lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Improvements to skin, hair, quality of life, sleep, libido, bone health and cognition, are also noted as benefits to long-term use of BHRT.  Good news is that there is no need to stop once you start as long as you are feeling well and are being monitored carefully!

 

Myth #5:  You don’t need to measure hormone levels while replacing hormones.  Blood tests can be used and should be sufficient.

 

Practitioners have widely differing ways of prescribing hormones.  Some prescribe and dose by symptoms rather than by checking hormone levels, i.e., if your hot flashes disappear then you are on the correct dose. This might be fine, but women in general feel so good on hormones they can be unintentionally over-replaced.  Often too, below-normal levels and above-normal levels of the same hormone can cause identical symptoms, so unless you measure, you won’t know the exact cause of the symptoms. Finally, the overall goal of BHRT is not to create a virile Lara Croft, but a nice and healthy 40+ year-old gal.

 

Checking hormone levels is important to achieving the proper balance.   Accepted, tried and true hormone testing should be done with saliva, capillary blood or urine.  Blood tests will not reflect tissue levels of topically-applied hormones. Well reputed companies for testing are ZRT, Genova and Dutch Labs.  

 

My approach is to get baseline levels before starting BHRT to help determine starting doses.  Since it takes about three months for hormone receptors to saturate, I check follow-up hormone levels 3 months later, at which point dosages may need to be tweaked.  Once the desired hormone balance is achieved, I continue to check annually to ensure stability. This is a long and time-consuming process and can be somewhat costly to the patient, but it is safer in the long-run.

 

Myth #6:  Any alternative medicine practitioner can prescribe HRT well

Every woman is different and will have a different hormonal balance and symphony that needs to be carefully titrated.  Like any prescription, improper dosing can lead to doing more harm than good. A knowledgeable, well trained practitioner who closely monitors levels and adjusts dosing accordingly is imperative for BHRT to be both safe and effective.  Look for a practitioner who has completed fellowships in alternative medicine or integrative medicine, has completed the American Academy for Anti-Aging Medicine’s (A4M) mini-fellowship in hormone replacement and/or has additional formal training in hormone replacement therapy.  

 

Before I trained in bioidentical hormones, I felt I didn’t have the adequate knowledge-base to proceed with safely prescribing hormones; it was a big black box and hormones seemed scary to me because of their reputation from the WHI study.  I think this is a fear shared by most conventionally-trained physicians who would start prescribing if they pursued proper training in this field, which takes interest, time, energy and resources that already busy primary care doctors don’t often have.  When doctors see that their patients are benefitting from BHRT, my hope is that more conventionally-trained ob gyns, internists and family practitioners will pursue appropriate training to prescribe it.

 

Myth #7 BHRT is the only thing needed to make you feel better

BHRT can go a long way to improving quality of life.  But it is important to remember that pills and patches alone are still not enough.  Other important hormones to look at are cortisol and thyroid, so a thorough practitioner will be measuring these as well.  If cortisol is too high from stress, hormone balancing will not be optimal.  Replacing hormones in someone with high stress levels will only lead to more cortisol production and not the desired hormone augmentation (something called cortisol steal) and will backfire.  

 

Stress management with meditation, yoga, deep breathing and exercise are key, as are good sleep, a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle.  Working in concert with your physician and partnering with knowledgeable fitness professionals like those at FiT in Los Altos, where they take a holistic, comprehensive approach to optimizing health is ideal.  No amount of hormones will help you feel better if you are chronically sleep deprived, consistently drink 2 glasses of wine a night and stay glued to your sofa.  BHRT should be a compliment to an already healthy and active lifestyle to help keep you that way as long as possible.

 

7 Things You Now Know about BHRT:

The saying goes something like, ‘Growing old isn’t for the weak but it sure beats the alternative.’   Appropriate hormone therapy can take some of the wind out of aging’s sails and improve quality of life.  Here are the most important thing for you to remember:

 

  • Most menopausal women are good candidates for hormone replacement therapy
  • Hormone replacement therapy can mitigate symptoms such as: poor sleep quality, hot flashes, low or absent libido, brain fog, hair thinning/ hair loss, dry eyes and dry skin, mood swings, and anxiety
  • BHRT is safer than synthetic hormone replacement in terms of breast cancer and heart disease risk and can lower the risk for cognitive impairment
  • Optimal delivery form varies by hormone type- estriol, estradiol and testosterone should be administered topically or by suppository; bioidentical prometrium can be taken orally or topically in a cream.  Once optimal dosing is achieved, pellets are a viable delivery form.
  • Initial dosing should be closely monitored until balance is restored then checked annually
  • BHRT can be used indefinitely. There is no upper age limit
  • Lifestyle factors (eating strategy, sleep hygiene, stress management, exercise prescription and self care) affect hormone balance and should be addressed along with BHRT

 

In summary, BHRT may open up a new world of benefit for women and I encourage you find out more and educate yourself.  Some questions you might want to ask your health care practitioner include:

  • Based on my age and family history, when can I expect symptoms of perimenopause or menopause?
  • What can I do to relieve and address my menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, low energy, vaginal dryness or decreased sexual desire?
  • How do you test hormone levels?  What tests do you use and why?
  • What is your philosophy about hormone therapy? What can you tell me about natural or bioidentical hormones?
  • Am I a candidate for bioidentical hormones?
  • If  I choose hormone therapy, are there different ways I can take them such as capsules, topical creams, vaginal creams or suppositories? What are the advantages or disadvantages to these different options?
  • What are my risk factors for breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, and what can I do to prevent these problems?
  • How often should I get a mammogram, clinical breast exam and pap smear?
  • Are there foods, nutritional supplements, and herbs that can help with symptoms and address health problems?
  • What types of exercise and lifestyle changes will keep me healthy?

 

To learn more about BHRT, here are two helpful books:

    1. The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep and Sex Drive; Lose Weight; Feel Focused, Vital, and Energized Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol Paperback – March 11, 2014,by Dr. Sara Gottfried 

About the author: Dr. Yumi Ando is a Stanford-trained Internal Medicine physician, and is also Board-certified in Integrative Medicine.   She tries to combine the best practices of conventional Western Medicine with those of Eastern and Integrative Medicine to care for patients holistically and to optimize quality of life.

 

Www.yumiandomd.com

 

An Intentional Self-Care Plan Impacts Health and Wellbeing

Optimizing Health: The Importance of Self-Care.

 

The All Too Typical Day

It’s hard to imagine packing more into your already busy day.  You already have plenty to tackle in the office, from meetings, to project deadlines, to reaching out to clients.  At home, it’s no different, with child care and running a business from your laptop. The only time you have for friendship is  what you can squeeze out with your coworkers at the office .

 

A Nation Under Distress

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.  Many of us are too busy working through our day and getting the job done that we don’t take time to genuinely  care for ourselves. Many people shun self-care because they feel it’s selfish or greedy, or too indulgent. The truth is, self-care is essential to helping us maintain optimal health and function at the top of our game.  We have so many depending on us, which is precisely why carving out time for self-care is so important. It’s easy to disregard our own needs from day to day, but over time that leads to burnout and ill health, and faster than you might think, leaving those that depend on us in precisely the state we are striving to avoid. Unsurprisingly, 38% of women and 27% percent of men agree with the statement “I often feel worn out and have no energy.”

 

Self Care Defined

Self care can be many things and is very individual, however, to be most effective, self care must be intentional.  Studies of communities where people live and thrive well into their 90s and beyond illuminate the most important aspects of self care:

  • Deep, meaningful social connections
  • A connection to something bigger than ourselves
  • Hobbies
  • Love in our hearts
  • A mission and purpose
  • A healthy dose of narcissism
  • Optimism
  • Conscientiousness

Initially, as with any lifestyle change, you will need to allocate time to evaluate your reality and figure out what shifts and adjustments you can make to start implementing self care intentionally.

 

Self-care is No Less Important Than Sleep

You can’t pour from an empty glass.  You can only push yourself so far for so long before you start to suffer from flagging energy levels, lack of motivation, less patience and creativity, more pain and digestive trouble, and overall feeling far less than your peak.  Self-care is essential because it allows you to both physically and mentally recharge. The restorative powers of self-care are much like sleep: necessary, even though we often put it off for as long as possible. Being proactive instead and planning a self-care routine can help you to enjoy enhanced health and performance, and give your mood a boost too.  A lack of self-care can compound issues of sleep hygiene.

 

The Benefits Enjoyed by Those Who Make It a Habit

It turns out that people are healthier, happier, and more effective when they can spend time taking care of themselves, and the shift in mindset helps them to be more productive and have more meaning in their lives.  Setting aside time for self-care can make us healthier both mentally and physically, and allows us to maintain a more positive outlook on life. There are many ways you can approach self-care, but the main idea is to choose activities that support improved mental, physical, and emotional health.  Some people have a meditation ritual, others decide to go for massages, and still, others learn about setting boundaries and saying “no” to tasks that damage their health.

 

Easy Ways to Work Self-Care Into Your Life

Some things you can consider doing that are easy self-care steps include limiting the time you spend on emails, work, or social media, and instead focus on an activity that you either sincerely enjoy or brings you closer to personal goals.  Self-care can include prepping food for the week so you don’t have to scramble for take-out, can also involve seeking out opportunities for lightheartedness like laughing with friends or something as simple as a daily journaling practice. You can also consider incorporating some physical activity, such as yoga or a group sport, into your sef-care plan.

 

It’s easy to let self-care slip because there is so much else in your day to make you “busy.”  You usually know what you have to accomplish in a day, plus a handful of wrenches thrown in that you have to handle like client issues or family emergencies.  Much of “busy”-ness can come from reacting to situations and letting the unexpected dominate your day. It’s an easy trap to get caught in, but it’s a bit harder to work your way out, especially if you’ve too many responsibilities.

 

Intent vs. Path of Least Resistance

“Acting with intention” is an excellent approach that will allow you to retain more control over your day, because choosing what to focus on will help you to prioritize your actions and delegate tasks that others can do, freeing up valuable time and attention.  Start each day with a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and set yourself to those goals as early as possible; if other issues demand your attention, see if a member of your team or an assistant can take care of them, or plan to tackle all those extra tasks at a pre-set time.  Blocking off time on your calendar for tasks is a great way to keep organized, and you most likely already make use of a planner. Try rearranging your planner periodically to make sure you’re not only making the best use of your time, but also that you have enough down-time scheduled for yourself.

 

Make Self-Care a Ritual

Why should you have a dedicated self-care ritual, when there are so many other things that need to get done?  For starters, good self-care will lead to a better mindset, which means you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter instead of the little aggravations that get under your skin.  It will be easier to appreciate time with your family, and you’ll soon be able to tell a real difference in how you feel and how you approach your day.

 

It begins with Mindfulness

Being mindful of your self-care habits can help you to move through turbulent times when situations are in flux.  When your life is going through changes, such as children going off to college, or if you or someone you love is facing  severe illness, self-care can help you, and them, to re-center themselves. These habits can help you to anchor meaning in your life, which is something challenging many people today.

 

Holding on to your meanings in your life allows you to see things from a higher perspective and can help to reinforce healthy behaviors.  When you have a reason to be the best version of yourself, you’re more likely to understand how important it is to rest and heal, which is what self-care is all about.

 

Self-care allows you to be more of who you are, and can help you to be healthier, happier, and more fulfilled in life.  You’ll be capable of more fulfilling relationships with your loved ones, and your refreshed attitude will allow you to seek out opportunities for more meaning in your life.  Self-care nourishes you in ways that food can’t, and a good self-care plan can help you to perform at the elite level that you require.

 

Prevent Injuries by Getting Better Sleep

Sports or exercise injuries can set you back for days or even weeks at a time. Injury prevention relies on proper training and form, but a big part of prevention starts with getting a good night’s rest. The average adult needs a solid seven to eight hours of sleep to keep both mind and body at peak performance and avoid injuries.

Give Your Brain a Chance

As your body’s control center, the brain has to be efficient to keep you healthy and strong. When you get less than seven hours of sleep, you enter varying stages of sleep deprivation. Neurons in the sleep-deprived brain slow down, affecting your thinking and coordination. Your decision-making skills, reasoning abilities, and reactions times suffer, making you more susceptible to injury.

While you sleep, your brain also cleanses itself. It prunes pathways it doesn’t need and strengthens those it does. Adequate sleep keeps your thinking clear, improving your form, accuracy, and precision.

Recovery and Injury Prevention

If you exercise regularly, your body needs recovery time to prevent injury. Building muscle takes place while you’re in the deepest stages of sleep. When you’re not getting the sleep you need, those deep stages are the ones your body skips. Many people may think they’ve hit a plateau in their training when the truth is they need sleep to build more muscle.

In a study of student-athletes, it was found that those who slept eight or more hours each night got injured less often than those who got less than eight hours of sleep. The muscle strength, coordination, and improved decision-making ability that comes from getting enough sleep provides an advantage over preventable injuries.

Getting Better Sleep

Getting that high-quality sleep you need might not be as elusive as you might think. It starts by creating the right conditions in your bedroom. The bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary meant only for sleep and sex. At night, try to keep the room dark, quiet, and cool with the temperature between 60 to 68 degrees.

Your habits throughout the day also impact your ability to sleep, consider:

  • When and What You Eat: A well-balanced diet eaten at regular intervals helps regulate the 24-hour cycles, called circadian rhythms, that control your sleep-wake cycle. Eating meals at the same time each day helps signal the brain when it’s time to sleep.
  • Avoid Sleeping In: The body loves routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends, keeps your circadian rhythms in sync.
  • Nap Smart: If you feel an energy lull in the afternoon, a short nap won’t hurt. But, try to keep it under 45 minutes to prevent sleep trouble at night.
  • Get Moving After Dinner: Many people feel tired and fatigued right after dinner, but try to avoid falling asleep. Falling asleep too early may leave you awake in the middle of the night.
  • Get Outside: Natural light heavily influences the release of sleep hormones. Try to spend plenty of time outside during the day to keep your body on track for nighttime sleepiness.
  • Avoid Bright Screens: The bright light from electronics like your television suppress the release of sleep hormones. Turn them off at least two to three hours before bed.

Optimizing Health: The Importance of Self Care

It’s hard to imagine packing more into your already busy day.  You already have plenty to tackle in the office, from meetings, to project deadlines, to reaching out to clients.  At home it’s no different, with taking care of the kids while taking care of business from your mobile phone.  Your closest friends are the same people you work with each day, and more often than not,  the needs of your job and your family  come before your own.

 

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.  Many of us are too busy working through our day and getting the job done that we don’t take time to deeply care for ourselves.  Self-care is often neglected because it feels selfish or too indulgent for them.  The truth is, self-care is essential to our health and to keeping ourselves functioning at the top of our game.  While it may seem counterintuitive, in order to take care of all that’s depending on you, it is essential that you carve out time for yourself.  It’s easy to disregard our own needs from day to day, but over time that leads to burnout and ill health, and faster than you might think.

 

So why is self-care so important?

 

You can’t pour from an empty glass.  You can only push yourself so far for so long before you start to suffer with flagging energy levels, lack of motivation, less patience and creativity, more pain and digestive trouble, and overall feeling far less than your peak.  Self-care is important because it allows you to  recharge, both physically and mentally.  It’s much like sleep: necessary, though it’s the first thing we cut down on when life gets busy.  Being proactive instead and planning a self-care routine can help you to enjoy enhanced health and performance, and give your mood a much needed  boost.

 

It turns out that people are healthier, happier, and more effective when they can spend time taking care of themselves, and the shift in mindset helps them to be more productive and have more meaning in their lives.  For example, hospice workers, who care for the ill and dying, often manage patient care but neglect to care for themselves, leading to career burnout, emotional damage, and challenges to their physical health.  It seems ironic that those who care for others often neglect care for themselves.  This is just as true for stay at home parents, many of whom manage home businesses while their partners are in the office and the kids are at school.

 

Setting aside time for self-care can make us healthier both mentally and physically, and allow us to keep a more positive outlook on life.  There are many ways you can approach self-care, but the main idea is to choose activities that support improved mental, physical, and emotional health.  Some people have a meditation ritual, others choose to get therapeutic massages, and still others learn about setting boundaries and saying “no” to tasks that don’t align with the things they value most.

 

Some things you can consider doing that are easy self-care steps include limiting the time you spend on emails, work, or social media, and instead focus on an activity that you either deeply enjoy or brings you closer to personal goals.  Self-care can include prepping food for the week so you don’t have to scramble for take-out, and can also include seeking out opportunities for lightheartedness like laughing with friends.  You can also consider some kind of physical activity, such as yoga or a group sport.

 

Be aware though, it’s easy to let self-care slip, because there is so much else in your day to make you “busy.”  You usually know what you have to accomplish in a day, plus a handful of wrenches thrown in that you have to handle like client issues or family emergencies.  Much of “busy-ness” can come from reacting to situations and letting the unexpected dominate your day.  It’s an easy trap to get caught in, but it’s a bit harder to work your way out, especially if you’ve been handed too many responsibilities.

 

“Acting with intention” is a great approach that will allow you to retain more control over your day, because choosing what to focus on will help you to prioritize your actions and delegate tasks that others can do, freeing up valuable time and attention.  Start each day with a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and set yourself to those goals as early as possible.  If other issues demand your attention, see if a member of your team or an assistant can take care of them, or plan to tackle all those extra tasks at a pre-set time.  Blocking off time on your calendar for tasks is a great way to keep organized, and you most likely already make use of a planner.  Try rearranging your planner periodically to make sure you’re not only making the best use of your time, but also that you have enough down-time scheduled for yourself.

 

Why should you have a dedicated self-care ritual, when there are so many other things that need to get done?  For starters, good self-care will lead to a better mindset, which means you’ll be able to focus on the things that really matter instead of the little aggravations that get under your skin.  It will be easier to appreciate time with your family, and you’ll soon be able to tell a real difference in how you feel and how you approach your day.

 

Being mindful of your own self-care habits can help you to move through turbulent times, when situations are in flux.  When your life is going through changes, such as having children going off to college, or if you or someone you love is facing a serious illness, self-care can help you, and them, to re-center themselves.  These habits can help you to anchor meaning in your life, which is something many people today are challenged with.

 

Holding on to your own personal meanings in your life allows you to see things from a greater perspective and can help to reinforce healthy behaviors.  When you have a reason to be the best version of yourself, you’re more likely to understand how important it is to rest and heal, which is what self-care is all about.

 

Self-care allows you to be more of who you really are, and can help you to be healthier, happier, and more fulfilled in life.  You’ll be able to have more fulfilling relationships with your loved ones, and your refreshed attitude will allow you to seek out opportunities for more meaning in your life.  Self-care nourishes you in ways that food can’t, and a good self-care plan can help you to perform at the elite level that you need to.